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A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 30

The plane landed as the pilot announced, "Welcome to Buffalo." Nick and Angel were all snuggled fast asleep as Sheridan waited impatiently for the plane to come to a full stop. As she thought about it, Sheridan couldn't figure out why she was so impatient to get off of the plane. She was only going to get the third degree from her parents as soon as she got home. 'Maybe I'll stop over Angel and MaryAnn's house for awhile before going home,' she thought.

Sheridan tried to wake up Angel, but had no luck. As Sheridan sat back down frustrated in her seat, she noticed a set of piercing blue eyes looking at her with confusion. Nick was awake. "Good afternoon Nick. Did you sleep well?"

As he tried to get his bearings, he replied, "I guess so. Did we land?"

"Yeah, I'll leave you the privilege of waking up sleeping beauty though."

Nick looked down to see Angel quite content in her sleep. "Oh man, you are so lucky this is a public plane," Nick said to her sleeping form.

"Why?" Angel mumbled.

Leaning down close to her ear, Nick whispered, "Because I would love to give you a proper wakeup call."

Angel's eyes opened wide, "Carter, don't even think of doing that while at my parents' house. They'd both have a stroke." Angel wondered how her Mom and Dad would handle their baby bringing home this new guy for the holidays. "I can only imagine the 'where should they sleep' talks they've had since I said you were coming home with me."

"What exactly do they know about me?"

"Ah…..well, they know you work in LA. You've lived in Florida but were originally from Jamestown, New York. They know you are in the entertainment industry and have been somewhat successful." Angel got up and stretched her legs.

"Somewhat?" Nick questioned.

"I didn't want to blow your cover completely. I'm sure they would have told my sister MaryAnn about you and then she would research you on the internet and figure it out. She's a detective, ya know." Angel retrieved her carryon luggage from under the seat.

"Alright, as long as you were trying to maintain my cover," Nick laughed, "You are crazy Ms. Angel. Did you know that?"

"Yes, I am. I must be for dating a pop star," Angel quipped causing Sheridan to laugh.

"God, are you two going to be like this for the next ninety minutes in the car? And here I thought being in a plane for seven hours was bad."

Angel ignored Sheridan. She had been uptight since taking the job working for Kevin. The last twenty-four hours had seen PMS set in along with a hormonal induced rage at being set up, as she had come to find out. A.J. had spilled the beans that nobody had ever worked for Kevin and he had no idea who the hell Jacob was. Sheridan left a message on Kevin's machine that she quit. Kevin had called her back and talked her out of it. He would explain himself fully when they were back in California.

"Hey Sheridan, who is coming to pick us up?" Angel asked. It hadn't occurred to her to find out beforehand. Now her stomach was tightening as her nerves began to take over.

"I think MaryAnn is," Sheridan said as they filed out onto the concourse and headed toward baggage claim.

"That's your older sister right?" Nick questioned, as his trained eyes searched for fans that would rush him. He was trying very hard to make a good impression and remembering Angel's family members' names. Nick glanced over to Angel who was starting to look pale. Leaning down close, he whispered, "You okay?"

Angel plastered on a fake smile as she reassured her boyfriend she was fine, "Yeah. I'm just tired."

"Liar!" Nick said jokingly, but was somewhat serious. "Don't worry baby, I promise you, everything will be just fine. I'll use my best manners."

"I know," Angel said as she heard her name being yelled from behind her. Then she blinked, the Carter family values clicked in her head, "Use the ones Kevin taught you." Turning around quickly, she saw her brown eyed, brown haired sister jogging her way through the airport.

After a death-grip hug and kiss, each woman wiped off their lipstick on the other's cheek. Nick could tell they had done this many times. MaryAnn noticed her friend Sheridan and repeated the same hug, kiss, and wipe process.

MaryAnn turned towards Angel, "Well, aren't you going to introduce me to your boyfriend?" Nick could tell the girl came from the same 'no hold bars' personality and was just as direct as Angel.

Angel introduced her sister to Nick. Nick stuck out his hand to shake hers but that didn't sit well with MaryAnn. "Um…I don't think so. Come here you." MaryAnn reached up and gave Nick a big hug. Pulling back, she turned toward Angel with a questioned look, "He looks familiar. Was he in something I would have seen on TV or in the movies?" Sheridan was highly amused at this point. MaryAnn would never make the connection of Nick being a celebrity pop star and not an actor.

"Maybe," Angel shrugged as she looked at Nick with a smirk.

"I've seen him somewhere before," MaryAnn mumbled as Nick retrieved their luggage from the conveyer belt. Turning toward her baby sister, MaryAnn mouthed, "He's gorgeous." Angel totally agreed.

Sheridan was egging MaryAnn on, "Oh, you've seen his picture many times in the past."

MaryAnn linked the two girl's arms into hers and began walking. "Let's play twenty questions," MaryAnn announced as they headed towards her car. "This game will give me clues to find out more about you Nick."

Nick smiled at her and said, "Shoot." He was now loaded down with more luggage than he could barely manage. This was something new to him.

Angel interrupted, "Why don't we wait until we get on the highway before we start, okay MayMay?"

"Okay," MaryAnn agreed while Sheridan grabbed a couple of bags from Nick, "You're going to fall over."

Nick looked puzzled at Angelina, "MayMay?"

"That's my nickname for my sister."

An "oh" formed on his lips.

After loading up the car with the luggage and turning onto the highway, the radio played softly in the background. Nick and Angel sat in the backseat as MaryAnn and Sheridan sat upfront. The snow lay in huge mounds along the side of the road.

"Nick, I hope you don't mind if I steal my sister away for an afternoon while she's home?" MaryAnn questioned knowing that if she asked Angel, she would use Nick as an excuse.

"Don't mind at all. You guys haven't seen it each other in awhile huh?"

Looking in the rearview mirror, MaryAnn answered, "Not in almost a year."

Sheridan knew where MaryAnn was going with this and decided to help Angel out, "Yeah, well we just saw each other last month…"

"…For a couple of hours. Someone wasn't in the mood for company." MaryAnn interrupted. "California seemed to suck the life out of you two. We'll talk later."

Nick smirked and responded before he could stop himself, "I think it may have had the opposite affect on Angelina." Angel elbowed Nick causing him to go "Omph! Ow, what did I say? You were a party girl before you began working on this project."

Sheridan busted out laughing, having to agree with Nick, "He's right Angel. You would soak up the life in LA, especially the nightlife."

"Okay, enough you two," Angel announced with bright cheeks. Watching her sister in the rear view mirror, she replied, "They're exaggerating sis. Don't mind them."

"You're a lousy liar Angelina," MaryAnn laughed.

Nick and Sheridan joined in on the giggling, causing Angel to pout. Nick picked up Angel's hand and gave it a squeeze and held onto it. He liked being close to her.

MaryAnn knew there was more to this story and she would find out all she needed to know over the next few days. But right now, she wanted to get started on her game and learn more about her younger sister's gorgeous boyfriend.

"So Nick, first question, what's your last name?"

"Carter."

MaryAnn thought for a minute absorbing the name. "What TV shows were you in recently?" Sheridan and Angel snickered; MaryAnn wasn't even thinking music celebrity, she was only focused on Nick being an actor.

"I was in American Dreams and 8 Simple Rules for Dating my Teenage Daughter. I've also appeared on various talent shows and MTV specials." Nick looked over to Angel and smiled.

"Hmmmm, which talent shows and what did you do on them?"

"I was a judge on Star Search, American Idol Jr., and the Wade Robson Project."

"I don't watch any of those shows you've mentioned. Hell, I've never heard of some of them." MaryAnn was tapping her finger on the steering wheel as she tried to think of more questions to ask him. The car was silent except for the radio playing in the background and the smack of windshield wiper blades keeping time to the music.

"What movies have you been in?"

"I'm in a movie due out later this year called 'The Hollow' and an upcoming project I'm currently filming."

Sheridan couldn't resist, "Don't forget Edward Scissorhands."

Nick hung his head low and growled.

MaryAnn's eyes lit up, "Really? I love that movie. Well, I love Johnny Depp movies. Which part did you play?"

Angelina started cracking up causing Nick to sulk. He realized he needed to answer her question, "It wasn't really a part. I was an extra on the set and you can't even see the front of me."

MaryAnn was now curious as to why Angel and Sheridan were wiping tears from their faces, "What did you do as an extra?"

Mumbling, Nick replied, "I played on a slip and slide."

"You mean, the water yard toy where you run and then slide on the yellow plastic?"

"That would be the one," Nick answered, while chuckling silently, thanking Sheridan for not bringing up the local TV show he did in Tampa about Griswald the Turkey.

Angel leaned over and whispered to Nick, "You know, she's going to watch the movie just to look for the kid on the slip and slide now."

MaryAnn heard her sister, "Shut up, I'm curious. I bet you've seen it."

Sheridan answered MaryAnn giving her another big clue, "Yeah, she knew it was him way before they were dating too."

MaryAnn looked over at Sheridan for some more clues. In the background, they heard the opening notes for "More Than That."

Nick, Angelina, and Sheridan all began laughing hysterically. MaryAnn was quite puzzled, "What is so funny? What did I miss?"

Angelina tried to see if her sister could connect the dots, "Shhh….just listen and think about what Nick has said to you so far."

As Nick's solo began, he picked up Angel's hand and kissed it gently, causing her to blush. He took his other hand and brushed her hair out of her eyes and placed it behind her ears. As the song ended, Nick softly sang along to it.

"OH. MY. GOD," MaryAnn finally made the connection. Looking into the rearview mirror, she looked at his face. "You're in that singing group. You're the baby, aren't you?"

Nick laughed at MaryAnn's reaction.

"Your picture used to be hung all over Angelina's walls when she was younger. You're the cute little blonde boy."

Her head flying up in horror, Angelina yelled back, "I did NOT. I had a few pictures but not all over my walls"

Nick interrupted, "I hope your room was left the same way as before you left for LA. I want to see this."

MaryAnn plotted against her sister, "Nick, we'll make a beeline up the stairs. First door on the left was hers. We'll need to move fast so she won't destroy the evidence."

Sheridan interjected, "You've been a cop too long, you know that?"

MaryAnn looked over to her friend, "Ah yeah, well have you met your green eyed God, as you used to refer to the oldest member? The one with that deep voice that made you hornier then hell. I always thought he looked like Satan myself."

Sheridan heard Angel snort in the backseat. She didn't dare turnaround and face the two sets of eyes that she knew were staring at her.

Nick answered for her as he chuckled, "Oh, she's met him alright."

Sheridan fussed, she didn't want any of her family and friends from home to know that she was now working for the green eyed God; the jokes would never end. "Okay, that's quite enough information for MaryAnn for one day. I'm sure we'll have plenty of opportunities over the next few days to catch her up to speed."

The conversation slowed, as the passengers all felt a bit tired from their flight. MaryAnn filled her sister in on what it had been like at home since she had left almost a year ago. "Oh, did Mom tell you who stopped by at Thanksgiving?"

Angel groaned, "Yes."

MaryAnn continued, "I don't think Joey knows you have a new boyfriend. I think he may stop by this week to catch you."

Angel's whole body stiffened, "What makes you say that?"

Sheridan turned toward Nick who had a look on his face she couldn't quite read. She thought, 'Oh boy, this could be quite the interesting trip.'

"He seemed devastated that he didn't get a chance to see you. Mom told him you were definitely coming home for Christmas and his face lit up."

"Great," Angel mumbled, "Can we not talk about him anymore?"

MaryAnn turned to look at Sheridan who shook her head back and forth. She then looked in her rearview mirror to see Nick comforting Angel and whispering in her ear. 'Okay, there is definitely something going on here I should know about. And I will find out.' MaryAnn thought.

The rest of the trip was quiet minus the radio.

Nick was grateful when MaryAnn finally pulled into Sheridan's driveway. He needed to stretch his legs. A huge inflatable snowman took up the yard. A sleigh and reindeer were lined up next to the driveway.

Waiting at the front door stood Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. The parents ran to the car, Sheridan was barely out of it before her father wrapped her in a bear hug.

Nick marveled at the size of the man, "He looks like two Billy's."

"He used to be a prize fighter when he was younger," Angel whispered as she watched Sheridan, who was now being scooped off the ground.

"I think he could take on Billy and Carlos at the same time," Nick's eyes bulged at the man that was at least four or five inches taller than him and was packing an extra hundred pounds or so.

"My baby girl is home and in one piece. I missed you so much." Harry Anderson squeezed tighter.

"Daddy you are going to hurt me, put me down," Sheridan fussed and tried to push away from him. "Daddy stop it."

"Daddy?" Nick snickered.

"Shush," MaryAnn swatted his arm.

Mrs. Anderson walked up to Nick, MaryAnn, and Angel. "Hello kids," she hugged each girl and stopped at Nick. "My, aren't you handsome, you must be Angelina's new beau. I'm so glad she got rid of that Joey; he was a bad egg. Now I would be happy if Sheridan could find something like you."

Nick was flustered, while the girls snickered at him.

"Mommy, don't pick on Nick, he's very sweet." Sheridan was finally earth bound again. She made her way to them along with her father.

Reaching for Angel, Mr. Anderson picked her up in a bear hug and swung her around, "It's good to see you again Angelina." Struggling to breathe, Angelina replied, "You too Mr. Anderson."

"Nick meet my Dad, Harry Anderson, and my Mom, Joyce." Sheridan finally had a chance to introduce Nick to her parents properly.

"Are you one of those Hollywood types, like the one that hurt my baby?"

"No sir," Nick was quick to respond and even quicker to take a step back from the hulking man.

Sheridan closed her eyes and gritted her teeth, "I'm a big girl dad. I can handle myself."

"You handled that last one real well, baby." Her father's eyebrows arched, high on his forehead.

Nick turned away quickly; he could see Kevin doing the same thing.

"It's the brows," Angel laughed.

"Nice to meet you boy," A hand slapped Nick on the back and almost pushed him into the ground.

"Okay, I hate to break up the party but Mom and Dad are expecting us and you know how much Angel wants to go home." MaryAnn headed for the driver's side of the car, while Nick yelled, "Shotgun" and took the front seat.

"Ohhh, not good," Angel muttered as she climbed in the backseat.

Sheridan disengaged herself from her mother's welcome home embrace and walked to the car. Her mother followed along behind her. Leaning into the car, Sheridan smiled. "Tonight family; tomorrow night, Chiller's."

"You got it babe. I'm off tomorrow. We need men." MaryAnn flashed her a smile.

"You'll live through this," Sheridan laughed as she looked in the backseat, mindless that her mother now stood next to her.

"Dear, before I forget, a man called looking for you. He said he was your boss."

Sheridan closed her eyes and groaned loud enough for all of them to hear. "Already?"

Angel wore a shit-eating grin, "You'll get through it."

"Shut up," Sheridan mouthed back. Grabbing her mother's hand, she smiled. "What else did he say?"

"He wanted to know why you weren't here yet. You didn't tell me you had a new boss. I know Tom was not a pleasant thing to deal with. Did you have him fired dear?"

"Go, go, go!" Angel chanted in the backseat to get out of the driveway before everything blew up.

They could all see Sheridan shaking her head no. Then her father pointed his finger at her as they drove away.

"Shit, that is not going to be pretty." MaryAnn drove down the road, heading for home. "Okay sis, you have the ten minute ride to fill me in on what is going on with my friend. The last time she was home, she was a wreck."

"She'll tell you herself when she's ready. I'm not getting in the middle of it. If you want to play cop, then play it with her."

MaryAnn pulled the car off to the side of the road. Turning to look in the backseat, she glared at Angel. "Knock it off Angel. In LA you may be a hot shot, but here you are my sister. All I want to know is if Sheridan got rid of that slug of a boyfriend."

"That I will tell you - yes, she did. Now can we go home?" Angel blew her bangs out of her face.

"Yes, now we can go home. Mom and Dad are waiting." MaryAnn winked.

Angel's nose crunched up. She smiled when Nick's arm dangled over his seat and she could squeeze his hand.

Nick cleared his throat; he would test the waters with MaryAnn. He needed a confidant. "Sheridan might have a new boyfriend soon. He's a great guy who won't play games with her. But it's sort of just starting so I wouldn't bring it up."

"Nick! You don't know that for sure, shut up." The only thing that whirled in her mind was how much Nick was like Kevin at times. She frowned as MaryAnn began to talk.

"Thank you Nick. I'm glad to see you are more mature and level headed. Just what my sister needs. You'll have to tell me how you met, the real version, not the diluted one I would get from her." MaryAnn's hitchhiker thumb gestured towards the backseat.

The following five minutes were spent with MaryAnn talking about her work as a police officer and Nick talking about BSB security and all the crazy things that had happened to them.

Pulling into the driveway of a non-descript split-level ranch, they all took a deep breath and piled out of the car.

"She's here!" Mrs. Lydon yelled as she ran through opening the front door. "Come on; it's cold. We're supposed to get dumped on again, another eighteen."

Nick's puzzled look dissolved as he looked at MaryAnn, "Snow?"

MaryAnn dropped Angel's suitcase in the snow, intentionally, and then she smiled at Nick, "You got it blondie. Welcome to snow country."

"Cool!" Nick grinned.

"C'mon Nick. We'll get the luggage in a minute. You have GOT to see this." The two took off in a full run into the house.

"Wait a minute!" Angel took off after them. It was too late, they were in her room. Her parents had followed the three people up the stairs.

Nick stood next to her closet door and struck the same pose as the poster taped neatly to the door.

Mr. and Mrs. Lydon stood in the doorway and watched the young adults, "Oh how cute honey, you're dating the little blonde boy in your posters."

MaryAnn screamed with laughter at her Mother's comment.

"I freakin' hate you," Angel growled at her sister.

Even Nick was having a hard time keeping it together since Angel was on the hot seat. Wiping the grin off of his face with a hand, he stepped forward. "Sorry, I didn't mean to barge in but I had to see this." Nick raised his arms in the air and pointed to the walls that lined the room, "MaryAnn said Angel would trash it."

"She would," Mr. Lydon laughed. "It's very nice to meet you…"

"Oh, Nick, Nick Carter," Nick extended his hand.

"Nick, this is my father Seamus and my mother Caitlyn. Mom, Daddy, this is Nick."

Angelina's father looked at the young man in front of him and the teenager that graced his daughter's walls for many years, "Well, it's finally nice to meet you. I feel like I've known you a lot longer," Seamus said with a laugh as they shook hands. Nick began to relax as the first impressions were over.

Angel settled a little too, but there was one thing she needed to get over before this went any further. "Mom, is the guest room ready for Nick?'

"Yes it is dear." Mrs. Lydon stepped back for everyone to exit.

"Come on," Angel grabbed his hand. "I'll show you where you are going to sleep." Angel pulled Nick out of the room and down the hall to the guest room. Pulling him in, he had no choice but to follow. Nick began to shut the door, Angel's head swung wildly to the left and then to the right. "No!"

MaryAnn stood in the door, she nodded at Nick, "Shut that door and my dad will be on you like a fly on shit. After Joey, he's pretty protective. He suspects he did something to Angel but she won't tell us anything. My mother of course thinks he's a saint." MaryAnn rolled her eyes as she finished her sentence.

"Why is everyone bringing up Joey?" Angel whined.

MaryAnn watched Nick carefully as he comforted Angel with a hug. 'Ah ha, he knows. Chillers will be very interesting. I just hope Nick talks when he's drinking.'

Nick and Angel went back outside to get their luggage. After unpacking, Angel then gave Nick a tour of the rest of her home. Nick was amazed how every room had some sort of Christmas decoration. Even the kitchen had real wreaths decorating the windows causing the house to smell like evergreen. Angel's mom put Martha Stewart to shame. In the living room, he noticed that the presents Angel sent ahead had been placed under the tree. He noticed a couple of packages addressed to him and smiled. This reminded him he needed to unpack his gifts and place them under the tree.

Turning toward the fireplace, he noticed stockings were hung by stocking hooks that spelled NOEL. At the end of it was another stocking held up by a Santa figurine with his name on it. He smiled as he felt a sudden warmness in his heart.

Nick took a fast shower and smiled as he did so. He liked Angel's family. They were normal, well as close to normal as he had ever seen.

"Dinner is ready. Let's eat!" Mr. Lydon screamed up the stairs.

At the dinner table, Mrs. Lydon prepared Angelina's favorite meal: corned beef and cabbage with mashed potatoes.

Angelina's eyes lit up as she surveyed the dinner table. "Mom, this smells so good. Thank you!"

Nick watched as Angel piled the mashed potatoes on her plate and grabbed a quarter of cabbage, with three slices on corned beef. He then observed her as she poured apple cider vinegar all over the cabbage and meat.

MaryAnn had been eyeing Nick's facial reactions as he watched Angel. MaryAnn couldn't help it, "Bet you've never witnessed a girl eat so much huh?"

Nick was startled out of his trance, "Not this much, no; although she's always had a good appetite around me. Usually when I would go out to eat with girls, they would order a salad and water. I always felt self-conscious ordering a burger. Ever since Angel and I have been dating, she orders just as much as me."

Mrs. Lydon was carefully picking through her meal, "Angel's always had a great appetite, ever since she was a teenager. I don't know how she burns it off."

MaryAnn snickered at her mother's comment, causing Angelina to give her the eye. Deciding she wanted the conversation off of her eating habits, Angelina changed the subject. "So MayMay, how's your new house?"

MaryAnn had bought her house six months back and loved it. "It's coming along. The cosmetic work is almost done and then I can put the finishing touches up on decorating."

Mr. Lydon chuckled, "Yeah, it's coming along as fast I can fix it up."

MaryAnn gave her father a pout, "Daddy!"

Nick smiled over to Angel. He enjoyed his dinner and the conversation. Reaching under the table, he squeezed her hand. Angel reciprocated the gesture as she shoved a spoonful of mashed potatoes in her mouth. This gesture didn't go unnoticed by the other three dinner companions. Mrs. Lydon gave her husband a wink; he nodded his head in agreement.

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This is a work of fiction.
The characters and events portrayed are fictitious.
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