A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 33

The cab ride to Nick's condo was quiet as both Nick and Angel were lost in their own thoughts. As the cab pulled into the parking lot, Nick noticed for the first time the palm trees, green grass, flowers and dry ground. "Home sweet home," he cried as he got out of the car, and almost immediately, had to take off his sweatshirt because he was so warm.

"Aw, you miss the snow and freezing temperatures. You can tell me, I won't tell anyone you're a closet snow bunny." Angel teased.

Nick cocked his eyebrow at Angel, "Snow Bunny? I don't think so woman." The cab driver watched in amusement as the couple bantered back and forth. Nick paid the driver then grabbed his suitcase and carryon while Angel grabbed his bag of gifts.

Walking into his apartment, he set everything down by the front door then collapsed on his sofa. Angel eyed him as she walked into his bedroom to put down the bag she was carrying. When she came out, Nick's eyes were closed and his arm was resting on his forehead.

"Tired babe?" Angel whispered as she sat down beside him.

Nick was trying to gather his thoughts and courage to tell Angel how he truly felt about her. He decided he needed more time and pretended to be sleeping. 'Real mature Nick,' he cursed to himself, 'What happens if I tell her, and she doesn't feel the same way? What happens then? Our relationship would get all weird and we'll still have to see each other every day working on the movie. I don't think I'll be able to handle that. But if she does feel the same way, then it would be so great.'

Since she received no response, Angel went back into his bedroom to get a blanket for him. Carefully, she placed it over his body, except his feet. Kneeling down, she gently removed his boots and then began chuckling. Nick's ears perked up as he heard her laughing. He was becoming a bit self-conscious until he realized what she found. He felt her slowly removing one pair, out of the two pairs, of socks he had on his feet.

Walking into the kitchen, she noticed Nick had some messages on his answering machine. 'I bet one of those calls is from Kevin,' she thought.

Nick still didn't move from the couch. He knew Angel left the living room and from the sounds of it, she was in the kitchen making hot water for something. His mind raced over the past few months. He thought back to the first time he had met Angel when she walked into the conference room with Gene. Nick smiled thinking back to her trying to hold herself together as the reality hit Angel as to who she was meeting and working with. He recalled the first time he talked to Angel on the phone, and the way she hung up on him. He remembered how they talked on the phone late at night, sometimes for hours, about absolutely nothing having to do with the project. He imagined Angel's outfit when they all went out to the club and the third degree he received from the fellas about his so-called relationship with Angel. He thought back to their trip to Atlanta with Brian and Leighanne. That weekend was a breaking point for Angel and the turning point in their relationship. His mind raced forward to when they returned to Los Angeles and he slept with Angel for the first time. And then the morning after, with a surprise visit from Kevin. After that one moment, Nick finally could relate to the phrase, 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' Nick was shaken from his thoughts as he heard Angel return to the living room. He was trying to act like he was still sleeping.

Sitting down in one of the living room chairs, Angel sipped on her hot tea while staring at the decorated Christmas tree. Her mind traveled back to the last night she stayed at Nick's place. She was almost in tears thinking about how thoughtful he was to surprise her with such a simple, but wonderful, gesture.

As Nick and Angel were lost in their own thoughts, the sudden ringing of the telephone startled Angel, making her jump up off the chair and scream while spilling the hot tea on her. Angel's scream made Nick jump up, but he ended up falling off the couch since his legs were crisscrossed and had fallen asleep. Angel couldn't help but laugh at Nick, totally forgetting about the hot tea that scalded her body. Nick gave her a look and then asked, "Could you please get that?" Trying to control her laughter, she got up to answer the phone.



"Hello?" Nick looked up at Angel and mouthed, "Who is it?" Angel shrugged her shoulders.

Suddenly, a female voice came through the other end, "um…is Nick home?"

"Certainly, hold on." Angel said before handing the phone over to Nick.

He covered the mouthpiece. "Who is it?"

Angel was in the process of taking off her sweater that had some tea on it, "I don't know. She just asked if you were home."

Nick groaned wondering who it could be. Not too many females had his condo phone number. 'Only one way to find out,' he thought. "Ello"

"Hello Nick. Was that Angel?"

"Mom, why didn't you introduce yourself?"

'Oh shit, it's Jane," Angel stopped what she was doing. As she froze in Nick's bedroom while taking off her jeans, she lost her balance and fell over onto his bed. After removing her tea soaked clothes, she pulled out a pair of pajamas she had left in his bureau. Angel tried to keep herself busy so Nick could have some privacy, but she was also trying to overhear his conversation. Through the years, Angel had formed an opinion of Jane based on what she had heard and read through the media. When she went to Key West with Nick in early December, no one really talked about Jane, but Angel could sense some distance that Nick put between him and his family where she was concerned. Nick wasn't particularly comfortable discussing her.

"I know Mom. I'm sorry, but I just didn't want to spend the holiday in Florida with everyone."

"…I don't want to be involved in this Mom. This is between you, Aaron, and Dad. Leave me out of it."

"…This has nothing to do with her."

"……. This is different." Angel's guilt set in after eavesdropping for awhile so she went into the bathroom to get cleaned up for bed. She could tell this conversation was not going to end on a happy note as she heard his side of the conversation.

"…… Didn't you talk to Aaron and BJ?" Nick knew his voice was getting louder as he got more upset while talking to his mom.

"Then you know Angelina is NOTHING like Willa." Angel's ears perked up. 'Oh shit! She better not run to the tabloids again,' Angel's mind raced. Secretly, she wondered if she should call Kevin for advice on how to handle Jane.

"…. see Mom, this is EXACLTY why I didn't come home with her. When you find your common sense, give me a call. Otherwise, don't bother calling me again," Nick slammed the phone down on the receiver. He ran both his hands through his hair to try and calm down. He then clasped his hands together behind the back of his neck. "Ugh, that bitch!" he yelled to no one. Nick collapsed on the couch with a thud as his elbows now rested on his knees, his head down.

Slowly, Angel walked back into the living room observing Nick's appearance and body language. She had never seen him like this before and she was unsure what to do. Gently, she sat down next to him and began to rub his back. He moved back towards Angel's embrace and lowered his head to her lap. He never looked at her; nor did he say a word. She continued to rub his back and hold him until she heard his soft, rhythmic breathing and knew he was asleep.

The ringing of the phone brought Sheridan out of her lust-filled dream and she was startled at her surroundings. She didn't remember coming into the apartment last night nor going to bed. She quickly grabbed the phone as she discovered the ringing made her head throb.

"Hello," she grumbled.

"Oh, thank God you are home. I need to talk to you or Angel or both. I am completely confused and I have no idea what to do," a female voice rambled without taking a breath, making Sheridan's head ache even more. 'Who the hell is this?' her mind raced.
Thinking she could get herself off the hook, she took the coward approach. "Angel's not home right now. I don't expect her for a few days. Can I take a message and have her call you back?"

"Oh, is she with Nick?" questioned the female.

Sheridan's eyes went wide, 'How the hell does this person know she's at Nick's?' "I'm sorry, but who is this?" Sheridan wasn't in the mood to play any guessing games.

"Sheridan, it's me Marybeth. The one helping with the movie project. The one who went to A.J.'s for Christmas and hasn't had any contact with you gals to digest what the hell happened to me. It's not like I can tell my other friends about him. They'd have me committed."

Finally, it all clicked in Sheridan's brain, "MARYBETH! I'm sorry. I'm still recovering from being home and I'm not quite myself just yet. Do you want to come over to talk about what happened? I'm not really in the mood for going out anytime soon, and I need to make a pot of coffee to help me wake up."

"Are you sure you don't mind?" Marybeth asked.

"Not at all. Come by in an hour, I should be somewhat human again by then," Sheridan chuckled as she dragged herself to the kitchen to prepare her coffee pot to brew.

"Okay, I'll see you in a little bit. Thanks Sheridan, I really appreciate this."

"Not a problem Marybeth. See you soon." Clicking off the phone, she walked back into her bedroom to boot up her computer, and then padded off to the bathroom. A shower was next on her to do list. Turning the water on, she dropped her clothes on the floor. As she did, the phone began to ring. Sticking her head out of the curtain, she heard Kevin's voice on the machine asking if she was home yet. Closing her eyes, she let the warm pounding water flush all thoughts from her head. "What have I gotten myself into this time?" she questioned herself in the mirror when she was done showering.

Feeling a stiff neck, Nick slowly opened his eyes to see a pair of legs under his head. As he tried to sit up, he noticed the sun shining in his windows. Trying to rub the sleep from his eyes, he looked around him as much as his neck would allow. "Jesus, this is gonna hurt for awhile." His mind raced back to the events that took place the night before. He cursed his mother for ruining his special night with Angel. As soon as he thought of her, he looked around frantically to find Angel.

He noticed Angel sound asleep sitting right next to him on the couch next to him, her head leaning back. "You're going to have a sore neck too," Nick said as if she were awake.

Gently rocking her, Nick tried his best to wake her up. "Angel, c'mon babe. Time to get up. Let's go get some coffee."

Angel felt like she was rocking on a boat, stuck out at sea. As she lifted her head, a dull ache began to surface around her neck. "Oh my God, my neck hurts." Slowly, she opened up her eyes to see Nick's piercing blues staring at her with concern. 'What a way to wake up,' she thought.

As Angel and Nick got ready to go out and get some coffee, both were very quiet. They took separate hot showers to help ease their stiff necks. Angel figured she'd give Nick the time and space he needed to digest what happened last night with his mother. Nick was just plain mad that he let his mother ruin his plans. Looking back at last night, he had to admit he was very tired and emotionally drained from his holiday with Angel. Although it was a lot of fun, he had been extremely nervous and on edge.

Climbing into Nick's Escalade, they took off towards the Grove Mall in West Hollywood. After getting their iced coffees, they slowly made their way back to Nick's car. Feeling more awake, Angel looked around. She chuckled when she noticed people with cameras dangling from their necks. Following where one particular man was shooting his camera, Angel noticed Chris Klein and Katie Homes eating lunch at an outside patio of a nearby restaurant.

"I don't know why the paparazzi feel the need to take pictures of people eating. It's crazy." Angel said toward Nick, "How do you handle that shit?"

"I try to ignore them and make sure I don't overstuff a forkful of food in my mouth," Nick said chuckling. "I got used to it though. I think it was harder getting used to having a bodyguard around me 24/7. Talk about having no privacy," Nick rolled his eyes thinking back. "In the beginning, before you really get to know them, is the worst. I tried to be on my best behavior but eventually they see your bad side anyway, so then I stopped caring and worrying how they perceived me. I just did what I normally would do, and they dealt with it," Nick said with a shrug.

Angelina thought about what Nick had said, nodding her head as she sucked on the straw bringing the cold liquid into her mouth. They were sitting at a patio table, listening to the silence, lost in their own thoughts. After a few minutes, Angel put down her drink quickly and grabbed the sides of her head with her hands while moaning, "Ahhhhh….shit!" she exclaimed.

Nick saw the face Angel was making and wondered what was wrong, "Angel, you okay? What's wrong?" concern etched on Nick's face.

"Brain freeze," Angel responded through clenched teeth. After hearing what she said, Nick busted out laughing. "I hate it when that happens."

"Next time, remind me to a get a hot coffee," Angel said as she played with her straw.

"Will do," Nick noticed a man taking pictures of him and decided it was time to go. The group wasn't as popular as they once were so Nick figured the paparazzi wouldn't bother taking pictures of him. 'Must be a slow day in Hollywood,' he thought to himself. "Hey Angel, want to head back?"

Stretching her neck, she decided she needed a neck rub. "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. I need a massage. Your place or mine?"

Nick grinned at the implication Angel made, "Doesn't matter to me." As they were walking towards the Escalade, Nick saw the man with the camera following them, "Great, just great," he muttered.

After getting into his car, an idea came into his head, "Angel, why don't we go back to my place. I'm thinking I need to make you scream," Nick said with a devilish look on his face.

Shocked, Angel stared at him then grinned back. "I like the way you think. But first, let's stop and buy some groceries. I think I'll work up an appetite and you have absolutely no food."

"Good idea, I definitely need milk and cereal," Nick replied as he pulled out onto the main road.

"Have you talked to A.J. about our plans for New Year's?" Angel asked. She was going to ignore the milk and cereal comment, sometimes Nick and Sheridan were too much alike.

Nick shook his head, "Nah, I haven't called anyone back yet. I did check my messages just to make sure I didn't miss any unexpected meetings. He did call though. I'll call him back later. Kevin called wondering how it went with your folks. He's coming back to LA tomorrow sometime so he'll be joining us on the 31st as well. He wanted to chat so I didn't call him back. If you know what I mean…"

Angel smirked, "Oh Lordy, I bet you Sheridan will get shit-faced just to calm her nerves with Kevin being there, she won't even remember ringing in New Year's 2004."

Nick turned and gave Angel his infamous Carter grin, "Oh, this could be dangerous information."

"Do me a favor and keep it to yourself. I don't need my roommate to be anymore of a basket case than she already is. Sheridan needs some time to sort out her life. It was all set up until a few weeks ago. Now her world as she knew it; is turned upside down." Angel said while decompressing Sheridan's emotions over the past month.

"Yeah, you're right. And with filming starting in a week, she needs to be focused." Nick took Angel's hand in his as they pulled into Ralph's supermarket. As Nick got out of the car, he quickly scanned the parking lot with his eyes. The paparazzi never ceased to amaze him. Noticing the coast was clear, he breathed a sigh of relief. Nick didn't know how Angel would react to being exposed in the tabloids in pictures with him. 'Great, one more thing to talk to her about that may jeopardize this relationship,' he thought to himself.

As they were loading up the groceries in Nick's SUV, Angelina's cell phone rang, "Hello?"

"Hey Angel, it's Craig. How was your holiday?"

"Hey Craig."

Nick eyed Angel wondering who she was talking to.

"It was great, exhausting, but great. How about yours?" Angel was talking while trying to put the groceries in the car.

"Same. The kids loved it. Hey, I can hear I caught you in the middle of something so I'll make this quick. I was wondering if I could have you pick up a few shifts next week."

"Sure, I think I can. I'll have to call you back since my organizer is at home. What time are you working 'til today?"

"I'll be here until at least 8 tonight."

"Okay, I'll call you in an hour."

"Thanks Angel. Bye."

Angel turned towards Nick, "Remind me I have to call Barefoot's when we get back to your place."

Nick's face paled, "Are you going into work tonight?"

She eyed him curiously, "No, he wants to see if I can fill in some holes in next week's schedule. Why?"

Relaxing his shoulders a bit, he shrugged, "No reason." He immediately began to drive to avoid further eye contact, hoping it would kill the conversation. He knew his facial reaction to her news wasn't very supportive. He was being selfish, and he knew it. He was reacting like Kevin would and it peeved him even more.

Meanwhile, across town, Marybeth arrived at Sheridan and Angel's apartment right on time. Marybeth had been a nervous wreck for days now, not quite knowing what to make of her holiday celebration with A.J. and his mother and new step dad.

"Would you like some coffee Marybeth?" Sheridan asked as she poured herself her third cup.

"Yes please." Marybeth walked into the kitchen to finish preparing it the way she liked it.

Sitting down at the table, Sheridan began, "So, how was it?"

Stirring her coffee in her cup, she stared at it, and then lifted the spoon. Picking up the cup, she took the first swallow. Slowly the words came out of her. "Really weird."

"Okay…" Sheridan sat in the seat next to her. "Weird as in strange or weird as in awesome?"

A smile lit Marybeth's face, "Awesome, totally awesome."

Getting up Sheridan dropped four pieces of bread in the toaster. She smiled back at Marybeth, "Well that's a start, now let's hear the rest of it."

"He had gifts for me," Marybeth beamed.

"Well now, aren't you the lucky one and what did Mr. Alexander James have for you?"

"A beautiful set of earrings, very beautiful pearls." Marybeth swiped the hair away from her face to reveal her gift.

Leaning forward, Sheridan took a closer look, "Very nice, not overdone, and discreet."

Pushing her hair back in place Marybeth then nodded. "He said I could wear them everyday and know that they were from him."

"Hmmm," Sheridan sipped her coffee as she battled a twinge of guilt over being slightly jealous that both Marybeth and Angel had received special gifts from two Backstreet Boys.

"He also gave me a spa gift certificate, it's one of two, and I'm supposed to call him when I want to go, so he can go with me." Marybeth grinned at Sheridan as Sheridan coughed from swallowing her coffee down the wrong pipe.

"Subtle, isn't he?" Sheridan breathed hesitantly, not wanting the coughing to start again.

"Are you okay?" Marybeth questioned as Sheridan's face contorted.

Nodding a yes, she listened as Marybeth began to tell her all about being at A.J.'s for Christmas and meeting his mother and new stepfather. After hearing about how pleasant Denise had been; she let her talk it all out and then she posed a question to Marybeth. "So is this relationship going to go a little further?" Sheridan was smiling as her phone began to ring. Foregoing the phone for the answer she was anticipating, she frowned when Kevin's gruff voice flowed from her answering machine. Her lips quirked and curled as both her and Marybeth listened to Kevin being curt on the machine. "You could at least call me, I know that you are off but we are still supposed to have two way communication!" The bang from the phone slammed down on the other end of the telephone line made them both jump.

Marybeth laughed, "Well, where is your relationship going with him?"

"We don't have a relationship; I just lust after him quietly from my desk, and from the conference room chair that sits next to his, almost on a daily basis." Sheridan rolled her eyes and groaned when Marybeth again laughed at her.

"You could have turned him down for the job offer," Marybeth refilled her coffee cup.

"I have rent to pay and bills to take care of just like everyone else." Sheridan took a sip from her cup. "Besides, it will never happen, I'm not the model type. I think he thinks I'm a ditz anyway."

Marybeth's silence answered Sheridan's statement, "I'm not a ditz; sometimes I just think differently than other people." Marybeth began to smirk at her, "Well I do!" Sheridan began to join in the laughter that came from Marybeth. "Now tell me what do you want to happen with your relationship?"

"What I want and what is reality are two different things. I am a glorified secretary. What would make you think he would be interested in me? A.J. likes the bad girls, the ones from the adult industry, bunny type women." Marybeth became reflective as she mulled over her own words.

"Maybe A.J. needs to see more than bad girls. His relationships don't work out well because of the type of people he is with. You're a strong woman and that is what he needs. A person who won't make his decisions, one who will let him make mistakes but will help him work through them when he is done. That person would be you."

"I don't know, he confuses me sometimes," Marybeth finished her coffee. "So how was your vacation at home?"

Sheridan's thousand-watt smile lit up the room. "My vacation went very well and I got exactly the gift I needed."

"Why do I think that you acted like a nasty girl on vacation?" Marybeth gave her a knowing grin.

"Oh but the nasty can cure many things," Sheridan's nose wrinkled up.

"Well, I'm going to go," Marybeth shoved her cup aside. "Thanks for letting me come over. Going to A.J.'s for Christmas was the highlight of my life. Even if he never has another thing to do with me, at least I have that."

"I think he'll be talking to you again Marybeth. He's interested and not moving very aggressively, that's all. That is a good thing."

When Nick returned back to his apartment, he checked his messages. Kevin had called again wondering where he and Angel were. Kevin was also curious if Angel knew what Sheridan's plans were for today since he hadn't had a chance to talk to her.

After putting away the groceries, they sat on Nick's couch to finish up their drinks and eat their bagels with cream cheese.

"Impatient lad, isn't he?" Angel wrinkled her nose as she listened to Kevin's message. Nick chuckled, "Oh, I'm sure there's a similar message on your machine back in the apartment. Kevin will drive Sheridan mad before she even begins officially working for him."

"Kevin strikes me as an insecure person. Who the hell calls their assistant, before officially starting work, this many times? During the holidays too? Red flags would be going off in my head." Angel rambled as she pulled out her organizer to check her schedule before she called Craig, back at the restaurant.

Nick couldn't argue with what she said. "I think Kevin likes Sheridan much more than he'll admit. His actions speak louder than his words sometimes."

Coughing, Angel replied dryly, "Yeah, like hiring private investigators to dig up personal information on people who he hired to work for him?"

Nick chuckled. There was no way Angel would ever forgive Kevin for that one act of stupidity on his part. "Angel, Kevin apologized for doing that. Give him a break. He's an insecure guy. He's like most men; he just shows it off more than most."

Putting her hands on her hips Angel questioned Nick, "Oh really? Most men are insecure? You never struck me as insecure."

Nick raised his eyebrows, "Angel, remember all those late night phone calls? Part of it was to learn more about you, the other part was to make sure I knew where you were - safe in bed, not gallivanting around town in nightclubs picking up other men."

Shock mirrored Angel's face as Nick's words hit her. "What about now? When I go out with my girlfriends, do you think I am out gallivanting, picking up men?"

Nick shook his head, "Of course not Angel. Our relationship isn't at the new stage. We've been dating for a while now. I know how you feel about me. It doesn't even cross my mind Angel."

Now it was Angel's turn to raise her eyebrow at Nick, "And how exactly do I feel about you Nick? I mean, I'm not sure how you feel about me." Angel got off the couch and started pacing, "I'm not even sure how I feel about you. I'm curious, how do you know?"

Nick's nerves started to kick in. He watched Angel pace back and forth, arms flying around as she spoke. He knew she was apprehensive about discussing her feelings, but it appears talking about Kevin's insecurities opened up Pandora's box for Nick and Angel to talk about their feelings for each other.

"Well, ah, um…shit. This isn't exactly how I wanted to discuss our relationship Angel."

Just then, Nick's phone rang, "looks like you're saved by the bell," Angel mumbled.

Angel gave Nick a weak smile, "I need to call Craig back" was all Angel said as she walked into Nick's bedroom to call Barefoots.

"Wonderful," Nick mumbled as he answered his phone. "Hello?"

"Where have you been little man?" Kevin's southern drawl chimed into Nick's ears.

"Jesus Kevin, you are becoming a pain in my ass," Nick chuckled.

"Why? Did I interrupt something?" Kevin teased.

"NO, well yes, but not what your dirty mind is thinking. Can you be more of a pain in the ass with the amount of phone calls you make? How many times have you called Sheridan? Angel's starting to think you're a stalker or something."

"I'm bored," Kevin pouted as he watched his brothers and their families play outside their mother's house.

"Then get your ass back on a plane and stop calling," Nick practically shouted.

"I will be, tomorrow. If it wouldn't piss off my mother too much, I'd be back there today but that idea didn't go over too well."

"You are such a mama's boy Kevin," Nick teased.

"So, how's everything going with Angel?" Kevin ignored Nick, mostly because he knew Nick was right.

"It was going great up until two minutes ago," Nick let out an exasperated sigh as he ran his free hand through his hair.

"Anything I can help with?" Kevin offered hoping to have something to entertain his mind and cure his boredom.

"No, I think I need to deal with this on my own. Thanks though." Nick answered solemnly.

Kevin noticed the change in Nick's voice, "Hey, it can't be that bad Nick. C'mon, tell me."

Releasing a sigh, Nick thought what the hell could it hurt. "Angel and I sort of started talking about our relationship and we stumbled in the forbidden zone."

"You talked about marriage?" Kevin shouted nearly choking on his soda.

"Oh God NO! We still haven't said the L word," Nick shouted back. Taking a deep breath, Nick calmly responded, "We somehow started talking about our feelings toward each other, or rather were about to discuss until you called. I can't explain it Kevin. The air got so thick in the room. The tension could be cut with a knife. I had it planned out differently in my head, and the conversation didn't go like this."

Meanwhile in Nick's bedroom, Angelina returned Craig's phone call.

"Thanks for calling back Angel. We've been so busy lately, I really can't afford to run short-staffed without getting a bad reputation."

"That's okay Craig. I'm happy to help out," 'And not have to think about my so called love life,' Angel thought to herself.

After going over the week of January 4th, Craig remembered James asked him to ask Angel if she could cover part of his shift tomorrow for four hours while he went on an audition.

"Not a problem. I'll see you tomorrow around 11AM," Angel announced before she hung up. Nick's voice in the other room caught her attention.

Kevin listened intently and was trying to follow Nick's train of thought, which was starting to stray all over the place. Coming out of a trance, he heard Nick still talking, "…..and if that's not bad enough, my mother called last night and just ruined my plans. If she hadn't called, Angel would already know how I really feel about her and there wouldn't be this, this weirdness between us."

"Sounds like this is serious Nick," Kevin spoke while trying to hide the smile in his voice. "I think you should be honest and upfront with her. Don't drag out this conversation for another time. Just go tell her how you feel and let the bricks fall where they may."

"Huh? What bricks?" Nick suddenly lost Kevin's advice.

Rubbing a hand over his face, Kevin mumbled, "Oh lord. Nick focus with me. It was just a metaphor."

Turning around, Nick noticed Angel walking back into the living room putting her planner back in her backpack. Giving her a smile, he finished his conversation with Kevin, "Thanks Kevin. I got it. Have a safe trip tomorrow. See you on New Year's."

Angel watched Nick as he walked towards her while speaking to Kevin. "Okay Little Man, hope everything works out. And I don't need to remind you that we have a project to work on…"

Nick rolled his eyes as he tuned Kevin out, "Yes, don't worry. Bye."

Kevin hung up the phone feeling better after helping out Nick. Kevin was chuckling as he walked into the kitchen to where his mom was baking pies for them. "Get in touch with your friends dear?"

"Yeah, Nick says Hi."

Nick walked over to Angel with his arms spread wide to engulf her in a hug. Breathing in his scent, Angel totally forgot what they were talking about. Nick noticed how relaxed she was and decided not to bring up that conversation again.


Kissing the side of her neck, Nick mumbled, "Uh huh."

Starting to lose her senses, Angel's speech was inhibited to short sentences. "Coming home tomorrow?"

Nick moved his lips from her neck to her collarbone, "Uh huh."

"Coming with us New Years?"

Bringing his lips up to her face, he forced her to look at him, "Uh huh," was whispered along with a nod of his head before he captured her lips.

Angel felt the butterflies in her stomach again and squirmed a bit. "You alright?" Nick questioned.

Running a hand through her hair, Angel told him she was fine. Keeping Angel in his embrace, Nick couldn't take the tension between them. He knew after her last experience with Joey, she would never come right out and tell him how she felt. She would feel too vulnerable. Pulling Angel into his bedroom, he decided it was now or never.

"I want to tell you something and I don't want you to interrupt me. I don't want you to feel any pressure; I just want you to know." Nick said as quickly as he could, "I need you to know something."

Angel noticed the change in Nick's demeanor. He looked nervous, yet very sexy. Pushing the hair from his forehead as she gazed into his eyes, she whispered, "Okay."

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he pulled Angel onto his lap. Picking up her hand, he kissed it as his hands slowly caressed the sides of her face. Staring into her eyes, they held each other's gaze until Nick pulled their faces closer and their foreheads were touching each other. Finally Nick spoke, "Before my phone rings one more time and interrupts me again…"

Angel started to giggle, partially from nerves but also since what Nick said was true.

Nick raised his eyebrows. "Sorry," Angel mumbled as she tried to stop giggling.

"Ever since I've met you, you've completely turned my life upside down, but in a good way. You don't treat me like other women have. You have been amazing the way you supported me with my family troubles; you've spent two major holidays with me that I will remember forever," Angel's eyes started to water with each word Nick spoke. "You are everything I could ever ask for in a woman. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart for being such a wonderful friend, an incredible girlfriend and an amazing lover." Nick's throat tightened as he said his last sentence. Clearing his throat so Angel would hear what he had to say crystal clear, he continued, "And I just want you to know that you are very special to me and will always have a place in my heart." Nick pushed away some of Angel's hair that had fallen into her face. She was afraid to move; she was frozen, staring at Nick, not sure if he was done or not.

Nick's thumb gently traced over Angel's lips before he kissed her lightly then spoke the three words that each feared most, "I love you."

As their kiss intensified, Angel couldn't stop the tears that ran down her cheeks. Pulling away, Nick carefully wiped them as he placed little kisses on her face. Angel felt her fears slowly being released from her body with each kiss Nick gave her. His arms held her tight and rubbed up and down her back in a comforting, soothing way. She knew this was right, she knew he meant it, she knew he loved her. "I love you too Nick," Angel whispered as he looked deep into her eyes. Nick buried his head in Angel's hair as he lowered himself onto the bed, bringing Angel with him. Nick felt such a release hearing her say those words; it was almost too much. He didn't expect to be so emotional, but she made him cry.

He longed to feel her next to him. Angel must have felt the same way as she got herself undressed and then started to slowly undress Nick in a seductive way. Catching him by surprise, she pinned him down on the bed before whispering, "Relax baby, let me make love to you" and that's exactly what she did for the rest of the afternoon and well into the evening; but not before pulling the phone receiver off the hook and turning off all cell phones.





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