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A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 24

Slowly rolling over to look at her alarm clock which read 11:12 AM, Sheridan jumped out of bed. She had done it again; she overslept. She grabbed the telephone and called Tom's administrative assistant, Veronica, letting her know that she was still sick; apologizing for calling in so late, explaining she had just woken up.

As she hung up the phone, Angelina walked through the front door. "Hey Sheridan, I didn't expect to see you home. Aren't you going to work?"

Sheridan squinted, "Where were you?"

Angel walked into the kitchen and grabbed an apple, "At the gym. Going away for the weekend totally screwed up my routine. So are you going to answer my question?"

"Only you would miss working out," Sheridan rolled her eyes at Angel and decided to make some coffee. "I called in sick. I've been thinking of quitting and finding a new job."

Angelina blinked, "Well, you do have another job."

"Yeah, but that will only last a few more months. I just can't stand running into Tom at work everyday. I'm thinking I'll go back to work on Friday when I know he'll be out of town. I can clean out my desk and computer hard drive and tell Veronica I can no longer work there, citing personal reasons."

"Are you sure about this? I mean we can work out the expenses. I can cover you for a while. Speaking of which, I need to get going and get ready for work. We'll talk later, okay?"

Sheridan raised her eyebrow, "You're working at the bar today?"

Angel shook her head up and down as she took her final bite of her apple.

Suddenly the phone rang. Sheridan reached over to answer it. "Hello?" she said in her best sick voice.

"Sheridan? Are you alright?" Nick asked with concern, "You sound horrible." Kevin overheard Nick and leaned in closer to listen. They were at the airport in the VIP lounge waiting for their flight to Las Vegas.

"Oh, hey Nick. Nah, I'm fine," Sheridan spoke in her normal voice, "I didn't check the caller ID before I answered. I called into work sick so I needed to play the part."

Nick looked at the receiver with a confused look, "Okay. Is Angel home?"

"Yup, just flew in the door. Hold on." Handing the phone over to Angel, Sheridan then began making her coffee.

"Hey Nick. How are you?" Hearing the intercom in the background, Angel asked, "Where are you?"

"I'm excellent! Not that I've had a chance to catch up on my sleep, but I feel pretty good. We're at LAX. I still wish you would have come with me." Nick felt a pair of green eyes boring into his head. Gently raising his head, Nick was face to face with Kevin. As Angel replied, Nick mouthed, 'just kidding.' Kevin said, "Uh huh, sure ya were," louder than he expected.

"Aww, aren't you sweet. But that would be a big HELL-NO. We need to keep this relationship away from prying eyes, remember? The press will be swarming that place. Is everything alright with Kevin?" Sheridan's ears perked up and she decided to eavesdrop on Angel's conversation.

Nick replied, "Yeah, just being his usual eavesdropping self." Nick's comment made Angel snort.

Sheridan tried to figure out what Nick said, although she could guess it was some sort of smart-ass remark.

"Is everything alright with Sheridan?" Nick continued, "She was cooped up in that apartment all weekend and now doesn't want to go to work. That doesn't sound like her."

"She's still very upset." Angel walked into her bedroom for some privacy.

'Well that sucks,' Sheridan thought as she went over to the couch to see what was on TV.

Angelina continued, "She's even thinking of quitting her job at the Insurance Agency too."

"Are you serious? Thinking of quittin'?." Nick said a little louder than the rest of his conversation.

Kevin's head snapped up, "Who's thinking of quitting?" Nick eyed Kevin. "Which job?" Kevin felt bad for prying but now he needed to know what the hell Angel just said to Nick.

Angel started laughing, "Oh, this not knowing is probably going to drive Kevin crazy. Nick, please don't let this get around. Sheridan has a lot of pride and the only reason I'm telling you is… well, I'm not sure why…but I know she wouldn't want everyone knowing. You know what I mean?"

Nick smiled making Kevin frown. "I sure do babe."

"Listen, I've got to run and get ready for work. I had a hell of a workout at the gym and need a shower badly."

Nick groaned just thinking of Angel in the shower, "Thanks for the visual Angel. I really appreciate it."

Angel cooed back, "Oh, poor baby. I'm sure you'll see plenty of half naked women in Vegas."

Nick whispered, "I won't be looking. I got you."

Angel felt her stomach doing flip-flops again and tried to brush off his comment as well as her feelings, "Awe, you're so sweet quoting your own song."

Nick knew Angel got weird out when he spoke to her like this, and expected her smart-ass comments. One day he would tell her how he feels when she does that. But that would also mean he would need to tell her how he really feels about her. Shaking his head to wipe out those thoughts, Nick said, "Okay stinky. Go get ready for work. I'll call ya later tonight."

"Sounds like a plan. Have a safe trip. Bye."

"Bye."

Nick rested his head back a mile wide smile on his face. Kevin cocked his head to the side and looked over at Nick trying to find out what was going on.

"Yo, earth to Kaos," AJ spoke after the others tried to get his attention. When Nick shook his head back to reality, he realized all the guys were looking at him.

"What?"

Kevin calmly asked again, "Is there anything we should know about?"

Nick looked at Kevin with a blank stare and began getting nervous, "Wh-what are you talking about?"

"I heard you repeat Angel's words about quitting. What does that mean?" Kevin leaned in a little closer.

Nick let out a breath he didn't realize he was holding. He never realized that it was a habit for him to hold his breath when Kevin was in his personal space. Brian told him he did all the time. "Oh that? Nothing. Has nothing to do with her."

"Okay, then what is Sheridan quitting?" Kevin raised his eyebrow and the others looked on with interest, mostly wanting to know why Kevin was so interested in Nick's conversation with Angel. If Brian leaned any closer to Howie, they would be sharing the same chair.

"Ya know, it's not polite to listen in on other people's conversations Train," Nick stood up and went to the restroom. Kevin looked at the other three boys in shock.

Brian was the first to reply, "He's right Kevin. What's the matter with you? You've been acting strange lately."

Kevin hung his head, 'Christ. Spare me the lecture Brian,' he thought. "I thought maybe one of the girls was thinking of quittin' our project and I got nervous. We've got a lot riding on this movie and I just don't want anything to screw it up. I'll go talk to Nick." Kevin stood up, straightened out his pant legs, and headed to the restroom.

Nick was washing his hands as Kevin entered the restroom. Nick nodded his head, acknowledging his presence.

"Listen Nick. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to eavesdrop on your conversation." Kevin began to explain some of his reasons, but not all of them.

"Nah, it's okay man. I just didn't want everyone knowing the girl's business. Sheridan is thinking of quitting her day job at the Insurance Company. It's too hard on her with Tom working there."

Kevin looked at Nick in shock, "Really?"

"Yup. Sheridan's been calling in sick since Tom went over to their apartment last week."

"Guess Tom didn't get a chance to talk to her yesterday, what a shame," Kevin mumbled with a sly smirk.

"Huh? How do you know he was there?" Nick questioned him. Drying his hand, Nick watched Kevin like a hawk. "Better yet, what do you know?"

"I bumped into Tom when I went over to the apartment on Saturday." Kevin described to Nick what happened that day. After reiterating the details to Nick, he wanted to switch the conversation to a different topic. As much as Kevin wanted to know about Sheridan, he was also curious about how Nick was doing and how his weekend with Angelina in the Keys went. "So, you gonna tell us how it went with you and Angel this weekend? What did your parent's think? How's Aaron?"

Nick had given the boys a reader's digest version of what he knew about Aaron's issues with his Mom at one of their meetings with Johnny before he left for Florida. Johnny was a bit concerned about any publicity and the impact it would have on Nick. Johnny had given him some advice about what he thought Aaron should do. Nick was appreciative of Johnny's words of wisdom. He was used to these sort of things, unlike Nick.

Sadly, Nick stated, "I'll tell ya later with the rest of the guys. I don't want to say this more than once." Kevin put his arm around Nick's shoulder as they walked back to the group.

The flight was uneventful. Their arrival through the airport was uneventful, and checking into their hotel was just as uneventful. None of them had ever remembered a time when their lives were uneventful appearing at a major award ceremony. In a way, this pleased them. They didn't feel any pressure or stress; they could actually enjoy themselves.

Once the boys were settled in their rooms, they decided to go out and about in Las Vegas. Johnny instructed them to be seen and be cordial to the media outlets. One such media outlet, Access Hollywood, ran into the boys and wanted to know if any of them had seen the Paris Hilton's sex videotape that was making the rounds on the internet. Two of the men made comments. One would be sorry he did later. The boys had fun hanging out, gambling, and relaxing. Later that night, they hung out in Nick's room as he explained what he knew from his visit to Florida. He told them Angelina survived the visit too.

"What did Jane say when you brought home Angelina?" Howie asked.

"She didn't meet my mother, thank God. My mother is now living in Parkland with Leslie. Angelina met everyone else though. Aaron and BJ grilled her left and right the first day we were there. She passed," Nick said with a smile, "We also celebrated the twins 16th birthday too. It was nice to be there with them for that."

"Wow," was all Brian could say as he mulled over the situation.

Nick continued, "Angel, MY Angel, made a delicious cake too. Damn, that girl can work her away around a kitchen."

AJ was about to make a smart comment, but decided not to. Nick didn't look like he wanted to deal with any more crap.

Looking at the clock, Kevin announced, "Why don't we call it a night? We've got a busy day tomorrow and need our sleep."

The guys agreed and left Nick's room. He was glad too because he wanted to call Angel and hear her voice. Looking at his watch, he noticed it was still relatively early; it was only 11:49PM.

*Ring*

Lying on her stomach, Angel's hand stretched out from under her covers tapping on the nightstand, searching for her phone.

*Ring*

She knocked over her water bottle. Sitting up, she glared at the clock. Then it dawned on her. It was Nick. Her Nick.

*Ring*

"Madame Zelda's Escort Service. How may I help you?" Angelina answered with a sexy, French accent.

Nick's first reaction was to double check the number he dialed, "Who is this?"

Angelina started giggling, "It's me silly. Just teasing; I knew it was you."

Nick laughed at himself, 'What an idiot,' he thought. "How was your day Babe?"

Stifling her yawn, Angel replied, "It was alright. Busy, but good. The last two hours dragged though. I was ready for bed."

Nick listened intently to her description of how her day went. "How's Sheridan doing?"

Angel went on about their night together and their conversation. Angel began to say something but stopped suddenly, changed the subject, and began talking very fast. "So how was your evening out on the town with the guys?" Angelina asked.

Nick thought something wasn't quite right. "Wait a minute. I must have missed something. Who called?"

Angelina's mind raced. She rubbed her hand over her face and through her hair. 'Should I tell him the truth?' she thought. 'Why not? He may find out and then wonder why I kept it a secret from him. Yeah, but I don't want him thinking about this now. He has enough on his mind.' She sighed.

"Angel? Who called looking for you tonight?" Nick asked in a stern voice.

Angel whispered, "Joey."

Nick felt his blood begin to boil with anger but remained in control, surprisingly, "What did he say?"

"I don't know. I didn't talk to him, Sheridan did."

"He didn't say what he wanted?"

"Sheridan asked him what he wanted. He said he was sorry he missed seeing me over the Thanksgiving holiday and wanted to know what my plans were for Christmas," Angel's solemn voice echoed in Nick's ear.

"What did she say?" Nick felt an uneasiness wash over him.

"She told him she would have me call him back when I was home."

There was a deafening silence on Nick's end of the phone. "I don't plan on calling him back Nick. I do not intend to see him, ever again."

"I believe you Angel. I'm just curious why Joey is trying so hard to see you again, that's all." In some ways, Nick understood why. Joey was comfortable with Angelina like Nick was with Willa. When life got stressful, he would go back to what he knew.

Nick had an idea. "Ya know. I've been thinking about something," 'Okay, little white lie,' Nick thought, 'so what if it just popped into my head.' "What are your plans for Christmas?"

Stunned, Angelina replied, "I-I don't know. I haven't really given it much thought, I guess. I know I have to go home for a visit, but I don't want to. I was hoping if I ignored it, I wouldn't have to think about it 'til it was too late."

"Angel, your parents are going to want to see you," Nick being the voice of reason, "I got an idea. Now just hear me out before you say anything okay? Why don't you and I go back to visit your folks in Pennsylvania, then we'll fly down to see my brother and sisters, then fly back to LA for New Years."

Angel was speechless. Of all the sweet things Nick had ever done for her, this was certainly ranking up there as one of the sweetest. "Nick, I appreciate your support, but you don't have to come to Pennsylvania. I haven't quite told my parents about you yet, so you'll be getting the third degree interrogation. You have enough stress in your life, I don't want my family to add to it."

Nick thought about what Angel said, "You're not embarrassed to be dating me are you?"

Shaking her head as she spoke, "Oh no…not at all. What I said came out wrong. I didn't mean it like it sounded. I would love to have you come with me. I just don't think it would be quite fair to you, is all."

Nick sat back on his bed, leaning against the headboard. "Angel, being with you would make whatever interrogation your parents give me worth it. Okay?"

Angel could picture the smile on Nick's face, "Okay. Why don't we talk about this when you get back to LA? I'm too tired to plan right now and this will require strategy."

Nick laughed at Angel, "You are making a huge deal over nothing Angel. This isn't going to be stressful."

"Oh sure. Not for you maybe, but you don't know my parents Nick."

"Fair enough. Nonetheless, I look forward to planning this trip with you," Nick yawned.

"Sweetie, go catch some Z's. You've got an appearance to make tomorrow night."

Nick wished he could talk longer, but it was already 1:08AM. "Okay, I'll try and call you tomorrow. Are you working?"

"Nope. Sheridan and I are just gonna kick back and relax. We've got some shows to entertain us."

"Alrighty then, I'll give you a call tomorrow. Sweet dreams."

"I will babe. Good night."

"Night."

The next morning the girls did their own thing. Sheridan called into work sick again, while Angel had some errands to run. One of them included going grocery shopping, mostly for junk food. Oprah started at three o'clock; they gave themselves plenty of time to do what they needed to do plus some time to relax and wait.

At 2:19PM, the phone rang. Sheridan checked the caller ID and grinned. "Good afternoon Nicky. How are those Vegas strippers treatin' ya?"

"WHAT? What are you smoking Sheridan? You sound like you are in a good mood." Nick replied while laughing.

"Oh nothing. I am in a great mood," Sheridan replied while putting together her afternoon TV snack.

"Why? What's up?" Nick was now curious. The last time he heard Sheridan speak, she sounded depressed. After his conversation with Angel last night, nothing had changed. Obviously, something happened to make her change between last night and this afternoon.

"I'm serious Nick. Nothing's up. Hold on, Angel is looking at me with those puppy dog eyes, wanting to talk to you. Here ya go."

"Hey Babe, win any money?" Angel said as she got herself a diet coke from the frig.

"I don't know. I didn't pay too much attention."

"Forget it! I don't want to know," Angel shook her head. She couldn't believe Nick didn't keep track of his money like most people do. It was still a strange concept for her to understand.

"ANGELINA!" Sheridan shouted from the living room, "Where is it?"

"What are you talking about?" Angelina replied while leaving the kitchen and walking back into the living room.

"Where's the tape?" Sheridan asked again, losing her patience.

"What's wrong?" Nick asked Angel.

Kevin happened to be walking by and wondered what was wrong. He mouthed to Nick, "Is everything alright?"

Nick shrugged his shoulders. Lately, Kevin was around him more than he wasn't.

"I don't know," Angelina replied to Nick.

Turning towards Sheridan, Angel asked again, "What tape? We have thousands of tapes. Which tape do you need?"

Sheridan let out an exasperated sigh, "Angel, a blank tape. Ya know, to record on!"

The light bulb went off inside Angelina's head, "OH….that tape. I thought you were going to get it." Speaking into the receiver, Angelina whispered, "Hang on Nick," as she slowly walked into her room. She knew Sheridan was about to blow and didn't want Nick to hear her.

"WHAT? YOU DIDN'T GET ONE? YOU TOLD ME YOU WERE GOING TO PICK IT UP!"

"Whoa," Nick and Kevin said at the same time as they both heard Sheridan yelling. Nick had pulled his cell phone away from his ear. They looked at each other and then Kevin leaned in so they both could listen.

"Sorry bout that. So, what are you up to Nick?" Angel asked hoping to change the subject as soon as possible. She wasn't in the mood to be humiliated. As Nick began to talk, Sheridan pounded on Angel's door.

"Today's been pretty quiet so far. Just walking around, being spotted as Johnny would call it," Nick laughed a bit thinking back to seeing some fans. "We ran into a few fans; they were shocked to see us all together."

"I bet they were," Angel said just as Sheridan pounded on her door.

"ANGEL! ANGEL! What are you doing? We only have thirty-five more minutes and I can NOT go out just in case someone from my office sees me!!!" Sheridan was near hysterics.

Kevin tilted his head and had a 'what the fuck' look on his face.

Nick was clueless. "Angel, what is Sheridan so upset about? What didn't you do?"

Angel opened up the door and glared at Sheridan. Angel's finger was pointing to the phone receiver then she brought her finger up to her lips signaling for Sheridan to be quiet!

Sheridan glared at her. "DON'T SHUSH ME! It's all YOUR fault. We're not going to be able to tape it now! AHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Nick asked again, "What's your fault?"

"Uh nothing NICK," Angel punctuated his name so that may be Sheridan would get the hint to be quiet.

Sheridan ignored her roommate, walking into Angel's room, she went straight to her closet. She remembered that Angel put her BSB tapes in her trunk. Sheridan yanked open Angel's closet doors and pulled out the trunk, Sheridan looked at each tape to see if there would be enough room to tape the one-hour Oprah show. As she inspected, Sheridan went on a tirade, tossing the full tapes aside, all over Angel's floor. As she tossed the tapes out of the trunk she yelled out the titles they were written on each tape.

"Of all the times you forget to do the ONE thing I ask of you, you pick this time. A simple tape, but do you remember? NOOOOO! And here I am, waiting on pins and needles for almost 4 weeks since we've known they taped this stupid-ass show and do you remember a blank tape?? NOOOO!!! I want to see Kevin!"

A smile formed on the male lips on the other end of the phone. Suddenly, Angelina heard Kevin's voice in her ear, "So whatcha gonna watch this afternoon?"

Angelina's eyes bugged out of her head and she went over to Sheridan to give her a dope-slap upside her head, hoping that would quiet her down. Angel was trying not to step on any of the tapes that were now scattered all over her floor.

"Ahh…nothing KEVIN!"

Sheridan froze. She slowly turned towards Angel with a look she hadn't seen before. She quietly exited Angel's room but slammed the door shut loudly.

"Put 'er on the phone," Kevin laughed but in a way that made Angel sort of warm up inside. It was a sweet seductive laugh.

"I can't. She just left, that noise was my door being slamming closed." Angel looked in the mirror and saw her face turning red. The men were not even present and she was blushing. Thank God they weren't in front of her now.

"You there?" Kevin came again with a sultry voice in her ear.

"Uh-huh," Angel squinted her eyes closed.

"You okay?" Kevin stifled the grin as he watched Nick prance to get the phone back from him.

"Uh-huh," Angel nodded in the mirror trying to convince herself. Somehow the reaction Kevin was getting from her was a cross between complete humiliation and a turn on.

"I want to ask you one more question and I want you to answer me honestly." Kevin paused, "It's me she writes about, isn't it?"

'Nick already knew this. He must have kept the secret,' Angel thought. However, Sheridan shooting her mouth off just now erased all doubts for Kevin. Angel covered her eyes, "Uh-huh."

"Good girl, I'll let you talk to Nick now. We are going to have a little chat when we get back; just you, Nick, and me. Here's Little Man for ya." Kevin handed the phone over to Nick and strutted out of the room.

Nick waited a minute and then he spoke as he watched Kevin strut like a damn peacock. "Hey Angel, Kevin knows that it's… Sheridan… doesn't he?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. She was yelling and she just blurted it out." Angel didn't know what to say.

"Perfect," Nick smiled into the phone.

His voice reached Angel's ears all sweet, warm, and honey coated. "The man is going to hunt her down. He's had feelings for her. He just needed to know that she had feelings for him too. He chased Tom away from her when we were in the Keys."

"Are you kidding?" Angel grinned. "How sweet. What a gentleman."

Nick cleared his thoughts, "By the way he just waltzed out of here, I don't think it was a gentlemanly thought that Kevin was having."

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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
Any resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

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