A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 22

"….Welcome to Miami," was all Angelina heard as she tried desperately to rollover and go back to sleep. 'Why is my bed so uncomfortable?' she thought. Feeling her head resting on a familiar chest, she smiled.

Suddenly, she felt a slight tremor under her and it wouldn't stop bouncing. Laughing, Nick slowly poked Angel's arm, "C'mon Baby, time to wake up."

Angel whined, "Don't want to," as her eyes stay closed.

Nick looked as tired as she felt but he was excited to see his family, even under the current circumstances. More than that, he couldn't wait to have them meet Angelina. When he called his Dad to tell him when he would be coming home, he also told him about Angelina and that she would be coming home with him.

As the cabin door opened, Angel felt the humid air invade the aircraft. Kissing her forehead, Nick whispered in her ear, "Let's go meet my family."

Angel looked up at him wide-eyed, "Oh yeah, I'm going to make a great first impression with my bed head," Angel was laughing as she thought about it, "And morning breath. Please tell me you have gum or Altoids?"

Nick grinned as he took her hand and they walked down the ramp and through the airport to the baggage area.

Angel's senses went into overdrive as she smelt coffee. "Oh there is a God. I'll be right back. Do you want one Nick?"

"Yeah, that does smell good. And I have a feeling I'll need to be awake for a while." Nick rolled his eyes at her after he said it. Part of him didn't want to face what was ahead at his home.

Smiling up at him, Angel said, "Everything's going to be okay Nick. It will all work out. Just remember, every thing happens for a reason. Not quite sure what the hell that reason would be in your family's case, but just keep the faith, okay?"

"Yeah. I know. Now go. Get me my coffee woman!" Nick teased.

As Angel returned with their coffees, she noticed Nick talking to a couple of people. 'Uh-oh, fans' she thought, 'Oops, or maybe not.'

"Angel, come here," Nick yelled. Angel picked up the stride in her step. The last thing she needed Nick to do was draw attention to himself, with her, and have it be all over the internet just in time for Kevin to read it as he wakes up.

As she approached him, Angel noticed a tall, blonde headed man resembling Nick.

"Angel, meet my dad, Bob….." Nick hadn't even finished introducing Angel before Bob reached out to hug her as he began talking, "You must be Angelina. It's so nice to meet you. My son's been keeping you a secret."

Angel turned toward Nick wondering what he had told his family about her. "Nice to meet you too," Angel mumbled into Bob's shoulder.

Nick missed the eye conversation Angel tried to have with him. Instead, he pulled the last of their luggage off the belt.

"C'mon kids. Let's get out of here," Bob said as he grabbed one of the bags.

The drive to Nick's place would take about two hours, well, at least at this hour of the morning. It was now 6:30AM on Saturday. Instead of waiting around for a flight to the keys, they decided this would give them all a chance to talk. Nick sat up front with his Dad and talked while Angel fell asleep in the backseat.

'What the hell is tickling my nose?' Angelina thought. She brought her hand to her face and started brushing away the offending object, 'Better.' Her mind was trying to get back to sleep. Shifting herself into a more comfortable position, she sighed.

'There it is again! Ignore it.' Angelina's subconscious was having a conversation with itself. Turning her head into her pseudo pillow, she shook her head back and forth to scratch her itch.

"Damn Bro. She sleeps even heavier than you," Angelina suddenly stopped moving her head upon hearing a strange voice. Slowly turning her head and opening her eyes, Angel saw two blurry figures. She rubbed her eyes with the palm of her hand to focus, in front of her stood Nick and a younger version of Nick.

Sitting up straight, Angelina yawned and stretched as she smiled back at the eldest blonde, "Did you sleep well?" Nick teased.

"Yes, I did thank you very much."

Nick laughed at her response, "Good. This is my brother Aaron. Air, this is Angelina."

Aaron looked at Angel with a smile and questioning eyes, "Nice to meet you Angelina. My brother's been keeping you hush-hush. He just mentioned you would be coming with him this weekend."

Nick blushed before saying, "That's enough Air."

"Nice to meet you too Aaron." As they shook hands, Angelina noticed a feather in Aaron's hand and gave him a look that told him he was busted.

Aaron started laughing, "Guilty," was all he said.

Nick was wide-awake and full of energy; "You want to go out on the boat with us?"



Angel was taking a sip of her now cold coffee and almost chocked. "Um…why don't you two go on out with out me. I want to freshen up, take a shower, brush my teeth, ya know, feel human again."

Nick knew Angelina was trying to give him some alone time with Aaron, and he was appreciative. "Okay baby. Let me get your bags and give you a quick tour of my pad and then we'll go." As Angel stepped out of the Escalade, she took a look around.

"Your pad?" Angelina questioned while laughing. "Honey, this looks like a Tiki Hut. Where's the Captain, Gilligan, and the Professor?" she teased.

"Screwing Ginger and MaryAnn," Nick jibed backed.

Aaron watched the couple interact in awe.

"Nick!" Angel's wide eyes were motioning towards Aaron as a light shade of pink brushed over her cheeks.

Nick laughed, "Oh please, this is nothing new to him. He's not a vir.."

Angel held up her hands, "Okay Nick, ten yard penalty! TMI!"

Aaron couldn't help but laugh at Angel's comment. He thought to himself how most people that came into their lives thrived on learning inside information on his family; this was definitely a welcomed break.

Giggling, Nick grabbed Angelina, picked her up as he carried her into his home.

'Nick, you have a lot of explaining to do keeping this relationship a secret,' Aaron thought as he watched his older brother interact with his girlfriend.

Nick and Aaron had spent most of the afternoon out on the boat. Aaron was able to talk freely about the pent-up feelings he had towards their mother and father. He explained what had happened. Nick couldn't help but feel sorry for his younger brother seeing how old he now looked, and he wasn't even 16 years old yet. His and his twin sister's, Angel, birthday was next week. Nick was sad to learn what had been going on for the past eight months while he wasn't home. He tried to give Aaron good advice on how he should proceed with this matter. Emancipation from her as well as looking for a new manager were first and foremost on the list. Discussing tactics on how this should hit the media was next.

"Aaron, you know Mom will go to the media outlets to make it look like she is the victim in all this. She'll most likely blame Dad for all her mistakes in your career and mismanagement of funds."

Aaron knew Nick was right. Jane wasted no time going to the National Enquirer when Nick refused to join his family one Christmas in Los Angeles; instead he stayed with his lived-in girlfriend in Florida. It took Nick a long time to recover from what his mother had done to him then, and at times, he still didn't completely trust her. Sometimes her actions and words were very selfish.

Aaron had a lot to think about and was grateful he was able to talk to Nick in private. Their other siblings didn't understand the ramifications of their mother's actions, especially with their careers.

Wanting to change the subject, Aaron drilled Nick on his latest projects. One in particular kept coming up, and she was now at their home in Florida.

Angelina spent her time lounging near the water while reading her book. As she put down her book, her eyes scanned the ocean. It was so peaceful. She had no idea which boat was Nick's as she looked out on the water.

"Wondering which boat belongs to Nick?" Angel jumped up out of her seat hearing a female voice, "I'm sorry. Didn't mean to scare you," said the blonde standing above her. Extending her hand, she introduced herself, "Hi. I'm BJ, one of Nick's sisters."

Pulling off her sunglasses to look at BJ, Angelina returned the gesture, "Can you tell I don't like scary movies?" Angel laughed nervously, "Hi. I'm Angelina. Nice to meet you BJ."

"Likewise. We were all a bit surprised to learn Nick's been dating someone out in LA. He hadn't mentioned you before." BJ said as she eyed Angelina.

'Oh boy, she's a bit protective.' Angelina thought. "We haven't been together very long."

"I see," BJ replied nonchalantly. "I think its time I got to know you a bit better. What do you do for a living?"

Angelina tried to think if Nick would have talked about the movie deal the boys were involved in. 'Shit' her mind screamed as she was drawing a blank.

"I'm a writer, but I work as a bartender at a LA restaurant to pay the bills." Angelina watched for some sort of reaction from BJ, hoping she would clue her in if BJ knew about the movie.

"Oh wait. Are you working with Nick and the boys on their movie project that Nick isn't supposed to tell anyone about?" BJ's face lit up as she put two and two together.

Angelina relaxed, "Yes, I'm one of the authors. That's how your brother and I met."

BJ started laughing, "Does Kevin know? He hates it when the boys get involved with anyone that works with or for them."

Grinning, Angelina replied, "Oh yeah, he knows."

BJ and Angelina talked for about thirty minutes before Angelina's cell phone rang. BJ excused herself to go get them some lunch while Angelina took the call.

"Hey Sheridan. How are you doing?"

In a soft, sad voice Sheridan replied, "Oh, I've had better days. How are you doing?"

Guilt set in as Angelina kept talking to Sheridan. She sounded so sad and depressed. However, Sheridan reassured her she was fine, or she would be. Angelina quickly thought about calling Kevin to see if he would check up on Sheridan later today or tomorrow for her. She would ask Nick if he knew Kevin's plans for the weekend.

"I know why you did it Angelina and I don't blame you. I'm just completely mortified by my ex-boyfriend's behavior. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at Kevin or any of the boys anytime soon."

Angelina heard Sheridan sniffle and knew she was crying again. "Why Angel? Why did Tom do that to me? I don't understand."

Cursing Tom in her mind, Angelina reassured her roommate that she did nothing to warrant Tom's behavior. It is his problem and that Sheridan couldn't do anything to change it.

"I wish I could send that pecker head's parents a few clues about their son's sexual preference," Angelina was looking to get revenge where it would hurt Tom the most.

Sheridan spoke sternly, "Angelina, I don't want you to get involved anymore. I know you are just trying to protect me and get even with him, and I truly appreciate it. But I need to do this one on my own, in my own way. Okay?" Sheridan was starting to feel a bit stronger about herself as she talked to Angel.

Angelina knew better than to argue with her. "Okay Sheridan, I'll stay out of it." 'But I'm not making any promises about whether other friends of ours will'' her mind contemplated.

Sheridan wanted to change the subject and find out more about Angelina's sudden trip to Florida with Nick. Sheridan sensed something was going on with Nick but didn't know exactly. "So….how's Florida?"

"Sunny. Humid. Exhausting. Do you know how hard it is to try and sleep on a fuckin' plane during the night? Cripes, it's not easy."

"What no mile high clubbing?" Sheridan couldn't resist asking.

Angelina groaned, "No."

"Tsk..tsk You two losing your spark already?"

In a deep, low voice Angelina replied, "Oh, if you only knew how untrue that statement is."

"Don't rub it in," Sheridan growled. "So, have you met the rest of his family yet?"

Angelina filled Sheridan in on what had happened so far; then got off the phone as she saw Nick and Aaron heading up from the ocean.

Leaning down to give Angelina a kiss, Nick started dripping water all over her, "Hey beautiful, miss me?"

Angelina's mind raced seeing Nick's wet body in front of her; she appeared to be speechless, "Uh huh….have fun?"

Nick wrapped his hand behind Angel's neck and brought her closer to his lips.

Aaron had taken the chaise lounge BJ used as he began his investigation on the happy couple. "Hello again."

Breaking her kiss from Nick, Angelina turned her head towards Aaron blushing, "Hello. Did you guys have a good time out on the boat?"

"Yes we did," Aaron said smirking at her.

BJ came back to the pool area with some food and drinks on a tray. "You two can smell food a mile away, I swear. Angelina, beware of these two! They always know when to show up when food is involved," BJ teased her brothers.

Nick got off the lounge chair to give his little sister a hug, "I've missed you. How are you doing?"

"I'm doing pretty good. What about you?" BJ asked as she looked down at Angelina and then back at Nick.

"I'm excellent."

"I see you've met my sister BJ," Nick said to Angelina.

"Uh huh. We were talking for a while." Nick groaned watching Angelina's tooth filled smile. He didn't know if that was a good or bad thing.

Nick noticed Angel's cell phone on her lap,

"Have you talked to Sheridan yet?"

Angelina nodded her head, "Yeah. Hey, do you know if Kevin had any plans this weekend?"

Concentrating, Nick thought about Angel's question, "I don't think so. Why?"

"Oh…I was just going to call and ask him to go over and check on Sheridan for me," Angel said with a sheepish grin.

Nick smiled, "I think that's a great idea. I'll tell ya what. You stay here and get to know my bro and sis a bit better while I call Kevin." Nick walked casually into the house.

Aaron was staring at Angelina. Suddenly feeling a bit self-conscious, Angelina reached for her water bottle and drank it all.

"So Angelina….." Aaron began, "I got one question for you. You're not playing my brother, are ya?"

Blinking, Angelina replied, "Playing him? What do you mean?"

"You know, sleeping with him so you can go and brag about it to your inner circles in Hollywood, hoping it will help you climb up the ladder in your field."

Angelina's jaw dropped open, shaking her head, "No, I'm not playing with your brother. And, just so you know, I don't have any connections to any inner circles in Hollywood. If I did, it wouldn't have taken me eight months to sell a movie proposal or find a job in my field. The way Nick and I met was pure luck. Albeit very strange, but still through luck."

BJ sat quietly listening. She had been watching Angelina for a long time even before she introduced herself. From all appearances, she didn't notice the character flaws that previous girlfriends had possessed. Angelina told her about their Thanksgiving. BJ asked the next time she was out in LA if Angelina would teach her some cooking tips. Angelina didn't mind at all, hopefully Nick wouldn't mind either. Although they had a nice talk, BJ wasn't letting her guard down.

After calling Kevin, Nick returned to the group. "All set," Nick said while scooting himself behind Angel on the lounge chair so she was leaning on his chest.

BJ watched closely as Nick interacted with Angelina and was surprised. Nick wasn't one for showing his emotions out and in the open with an audience, even his family. But this Nick appeared to care less what he was doing in public. Nick caressed, held hands and would periodically kiss. He looked happy and content.

Aaron's inquisition continued, "Nick said you were from Pennsylvania. What part?" He continued to ask basic questions: family, schools, friends, hobbies, and then the question that made Nick groan and Angel chuckle.

"Do you have any aspirations to be a singer?"

Angel shook her head 'no.' She couldn't speak as she was laughing at the absurdity of the question. "No. I'm flat," was all she could say vocally.

Aaron did a once over of Angelina's body and replied, "Oh, no you're not."

Nick saw red, "AARON!"

Meanwhile, three hours behind the Eastern Time zone, Kevin slowly stretched as he hung up the phone. He had tried to call Sheridan at all the phone numbers he had for her: office, home and cell.

"Welp, looks like I'm going to have to take a little drive," He drawled.

Sheridan sat on the couch with her legs pulled up to her chest. She rested her head on her knees while staring mindlessly at the TV. The caller ID showed four calls from Tom and two calls from Kevin. According to the answering machine, Kevin called back to let her know he was going to run some errands then drop by to see how she was doing.

"Goddammit, that man is a pain in my ass some days," Sheridan yelled out. "I wish everyone would just leave me alone."

As the phone rang again, Sheridan groaned, "Wonderful. Now my parents are calling." She got off the couch and decided she had moped in her pajamas long enough and a nice, long relaxing bath would do her some good.

"This is useless," Kevin muttered as he rang the doorbell again. Suddenly, Kevin saw Tom walking up the stairs with his arms full of roses, chocolate, and a pint of Ben & Jerry's.

"Oh ah…hey Kevin," Tom said nervously.

"'ello." Was Kevin's dry reply. "Are ya tryin' to make her fat now too?"

Tom looked down at his hands and chuckled again, "Oh no, just the chocolate and roses are for Sheridan, the ice cream is for Angelina." Leaning into Kevin's shoulder whispering, "It's a secret I've learned. Angel is very forgiving if she has her two favorite men to eat."

The thoughts going through Kevin's mind with that statement were x-rated. Shaking his thoughts, Kevin asked, "Don't you think you should be worrying about having Sheridan forgive you, and not Angel?"

Tom thought for a moment and causally replied, "Nah. Sheridan just needs some time. We'll talk and work it out like we always do. Angel, she's another story. She can hold a grudge for a long, long time."

Kevin chuckled at that statement then turned serious, "Tom, I think its going to take a lot more than a dozen roses and some chocolate before Sheridan wants to see you again."

Tom nodded, "Yeah, you've probably right. Oh hey, by the way, do you want to try and meet up some night?"

Kevin pursed his lips and clenched his fists as he tried to remain in control, "Tom, I am not gay. Nor am I interested in you. I'm actually very interested in Sheridan. So, if you don't get going by the time I count to three, we are going to have a big problem."

Tom saw the anger in Kevin's face and decided he didn't want to push his luck. Dropping the flowers, candy and ice cream, Tom took off down the stairs mumbling "There's always Monday."

'See Richardson, you still can be intimidating,' Kevin laughed to himself. Looking around, Kevin noticed Patrick, the girl's neighbor, lounging over at the pool. Kevin figured it couldn't hurt to ask him if he saw Sheridan leave today.

"Excuse me, Patrick?" Kevin said as Patrick put down his book and pulled off his sunglasses.


Sticking out his hand, "Hi. I don't know if you remember me or not. I met you briefly a couple of months ago in Sheridan and Angelina's apartment. My name is Kevin and I'm a friend of the girls."

Patrick nodded his head back and forth, "Ah yes. I do remember. Sorry, I never caught your name."

Kevin chuckled at his memory when Angel answered the door that evening.

"By any chance, do you have a spare key to their apartment I could use? I left some important paperwork in their apartment last night and I need it for a meeting later today." Kevin lied as he hoped this could gain him access into their apartment.

"Nope. Sorry, I don't. But I haven't seen Sheridan or Angelina leave yet today. They should be home."

Sucking his cheeks in, Kevin responded, "Thanks man. Maybe Sheridan's still sleeping or somethin'. Angel left last night to go to Florida."

"Yeah, maybe. Good luck," Patrick replied as he put his sunglasses back on and Kevin walked back up the stairs to the apartment door for one last try before he headed home.

Back in Florida, time seemed to have stood still. Angelina read her book as Nick slept behind her on the lounge chair.

Aaron had made a quick getaway after he ate lunch saying he needed to go back to work in the studio before it got too late.

Nick was glad to learn that Angelina wasn't offended by his brother's rather crude comment. "Baby, I work in a bar. I've had people look me up and down before and I've also heard a lot worse comments. Relax. It was a compliment."

BJ hung out talking to the couple while tanning. Eventually, she fell asleep too.

Bob and Aaron's twin, Angel, walked down by the pool area. Angelina heard voices approaching and gently jabbed Nick to wake him up.

"Stop," Nick whined.

"Oh geez, he hasn't stopped whining yet?" Bob's voice roared through the air.

Nick woke up and didn't skip a beat, "Yeah, I get it from your side of the family dad."

BJ slowly stirred awake, "Shhhh….there are people trying to sleep here."

"Alright kids, time to get up," a young girl clapped her hands in the air, "Aren't you going to introduce me to your girlfriend Nick?"

Stumbling out of the lounger, Nick embraced his baby sister, "Sis, this is Angelina. Angelina, this is Angel." Angelina stood up and shook her hand, "Nice to meet you."

"Same here. I got a reader's digest version of you from my dad and Aaron."

Nick groaned hearing those words.

"Oh will you stop. It was all good," Angel teased her brother.

Bob staggered a bit, "So, what do you guys want to do for dinner?"

Nick looked over to Angelina with questioning eyes, "Don't look at me. I have no clue what you have to eat in your tiki hut or what places are around here to eat. You pick."

BJ raised her head up, "We can go out to eat. I don't feel like cooking again. I made us lunch."

Angel piped in, "Well you didn't invite me. How come no one came to get me?"

Bob replied, "You don't do anything all day. How can you not feel like cooking?"

Nick raised his hands up, "Truce. We have company. You can quit your bitchin' til we're gone, okay?" Nick eyed his father and both sisters.

"Fine," Said Bob and BJ in unison.

"Okay," was Angel's reply.

"Why don't we go to the Quarterdeck? We'll meet y'all up at the main house in an hour," Nick rattled as he grabbed Angelina's hand and they walked back to Nick's home.

"Nick, are you okay?" Angelina asked as they both fell on his couch.

Rubbing her hair making it a mess, Nick replied, "Yeah, I'm just cranky. I get cranky when I'm hungry."

"And you haven't slept much this past week either," Angelina said as she stood up and reached for Nick's hand.

"Where are we going?" Nick questioned

"To take a shower. We only have an hour to get us ready."

Wiggling his eyebrows, Nick said "Oh I love these types of showers."

Angelina grinned back, "Oh yeah. I'll wash your back and you can wash mine."

Exactly fifty-nine minutes later, Angelina and Nick drove up to the main house. "Do you want a tour now or later?"

"Later. I've worked up quite an appetite," Angelina said with a sly smirk.

Grinning, Nick beeped his horn, "Don't I know it."

As the Carter clan was walking towards the car, Angelina asked Nick where Leslie was.
"She's with my mother in Parkland." Nick mumbled, "I doubt they'll talk about her tonight at dinner. When we get back at our place, I'll fill you in."

"Nick, don't forget your seatbelt," Angelina warned him.

He cocked his eye at her, "Do you want to drive?"

Shaking her head, Angelina replied "Nope. But I know you've been cited in the past for not wearing it."

"How the hell do you know this shit?" Nick asked with amusement in his eyes.

"Babe, the county records are available to the public - online." She gave Nick a wink as the doors opened to the Escalade.

Bob shouted, "All right kids. Let's go eat."

It was a lively dinner as they enjoyed each other's company and teased each other. No one talked about the negative events going on in their lives. Instead, they focused on the positives. Nick's siblings were enjoying embarrassing him by telling childhood stories. Angelina enjoyed it too, and for once, she didn't feel like she was invading his privacy by learning new facts.

Nick could tell Angelina felt at ease too, which he was grateful for. He knew his brother and sister gave her the third degree that afternoon and she must have passed with flying colors for them to talk openly around her.

After dinner, Nick dropped off Angel and Aaron at home and the adults went to a local bar. Being the designated driver, Nick nursed a beer and some water until they left. Once they arrived back at the Compound, Bob, BJ, Angelina, and Nick sat outside drinking and talking. Since Nick wouldn't be driving anymore, he was sucking down his Grey Goose vodka.

As the couple staggered into the tiki hut, both went to the bathroom and then straight to bed. Once in bed, Angel's thoughts recalled the last couple of hours.

When they got back home from the bar, they decided to sit outside and enjoy the fresh air. Bob and BJ got to learn more about Nick and Angelina's project. They talked about their first phone conversation. BJ couldn't stop laughing when Angelina said she hung up on Nick. Bob looked at Nick and said, "She won't take your shit. You better behave." Nick tried to argue but it was all in fun.

As their conversation turned to the Carter's family troubles, Angelina started to feel uncomfortable. First, there was the Carter divorce. This wasn't a conversation Nick wanted to hear either, Angelina could tell. Then, they talked about Aaron's problems. After learning about the tax lien against Aaron for unpaid taxes in 2001 and 2002, Angelina started to excuse herself as she stood up, "SIT BACK DOWN," Bob barked. His slurred words worried Angelina as she looked to Nick for some guidance.

Standing up to join her, Nick said "It's fine. Stay Angel, please?" Nick held her hand and pulled her closer to him. "This way I won't have to repeat this to you later," He gently laughed in her ear.

She smiled and walked over to the bar, "Who needs another drink?" A chorus of me's answered her as she returned with four drinks.

As Bob started to vent about Jane and what she did with Aaron's money, Nick started to get angry. His father should have been watching out for his brother too. Bob was the one that got a phone call from the bank letting him know Jane borrowed money from Aaron's account. Nick felt his dad should have done something more back then, especially with them separating.

As the night progressed and another round of drinks consumed, the topic of conversation turned to couples. Nick was quite affectionate with Angelina, much to his family's surprise. Bob reached out and grabbed Angelina's hand, telling her next time she comes to visit, he'll make sure his fiancé would be there too.

This was new news to Nick. He was shocked and outraged. The two men began arguing and stood up screaming at each other. BJ went to her father's side as Angelina held back Nick. The girls dragged the men to their respective homes to get some shuteye.

Lying on Nick's bed, Angel rubbed her temples. 'What a night,' she thought. Angelina closed her eyes again as she felt Nick pull her closer and spooned up against her. "Goodnight baby," Angelina whispered as she listened to Nick's breathing, lightly snoring. Eventually, it lulled her to sleep.





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