Copyright

A Collaboration between Bron and Suzie

Chapter 50

"God dammit!" Kevin screamed to no one as he looked into the bakery shop only to find the lights dimmed and the door locked. Checking his watch, it read 6:52PM. The sign on the front door informed him that he was 22 minutes late.

Realizing he was still 30 minutes away from the girls' apartment, panic set in. Kevin was never late……for anything! Except for one concert in Denver because he was stranded in California due to poor weather conditions in Colorado, he'd always been the reliable one.

Reaching for his cell phone, he dialed Nick's cell while peering into the Sugar and Spice's bakery front window.

Nick saw the caller ID and relaxed. He was getting nervous Kevin forgot the cake. "Hey dude. Are you all….."

Nick's voice was interrupted by Kevin's excited baritone voice. "Oh, I just saw a shadow. I'll let you know if I got it or not." Kevin saw a shadow in the back room. He banged on the glass of the door with both fists.

A clicking noise brought Nick back to reality from his dazed state. 'What the hell was Kevin talking about?' was all he could question to himself when Angel walked into her bedroom with another load of whites that needed to be folded.

Kevin began tapping on the window obnoxiously until a body appeared in the bakery doorway coming from the kitchen area. The man yelled, "Sorry, we're closed!"

Kevin was shaking his head back and forth, "NO!" Kevin realized he yelled louder than he wanted to. He didn't want to frighten the poor man, or worse, give him a reason to call the cops. "I mean, I realize you are closed but PLEASE I need to pick up a cake for a party tonight." Kevin's composure was one of a pleading, almost prayer-like, form.

The baker knew exactly who he was and which cake he was supposed to have picked up earlier in the evening. A call from a 'friend' gave the baker a head's up.

Kevin heard the familiar ring tone coming from his pants, 'Why now?' he thought. He looked at the caller ID and frowned while opening the lid, "What?"

Brian was running a tad late as well, but at least he was approaching the meeting spot. Kevin barking into his cell phone was nothing out of the ordinary to him.
"Sorry I'm running late. I'll be there in about 5 minutes." Brian blurted out.

"There where?" Kevin questioned while he waited for the baker to finish putting the lights on and unlocking the door.

"Where we were supposed to meet ten minutes ago. Don't you remember? We are all supposed to meet in the parking lot, then go in one car to the girls' apartment."

"Shit," Kevin mumbled. "Listen, I'm running later than you..."

"You mean you aren't there either?"

'Why do I surround myself with these people?' "That's right Bri. But listen, I'll just meet you there."

Brian interrupted Kevin's speech, "Shit, let me call A.J. then"

Kevin heard the annoyance in his cousin's voice before a clicking noise resonated in his ears.

"May I help you sir?" A middle-aged, tall, well-built man said as he opened the door.

"Yes, thank you so much for this. I owe you big time for saving me. I really need to pickup this cake."

A quiet laugh escaped the baker, "What's the name on the cake?"

"Angel or Angelina. I'm not sure what Nick chose." Kevin said sheepishly. "Nick Carter ordered the cake a few days ago."

"Of course, I know the one. Let me go get it for you."

As the Baker returned to the backroom, Kevin's cell phone rang again. "I'll be there soon!" Kevin shouted as he answered his phone.

Sheridan eyed the phone in her hand after hearing Kevin yell at her. "What?"

Kevin's jaw opened, but no sound came out. Damn, the last thing he needed was to tweak Sheridan's buttons. He was supposed to get his answer and he was hoping it would be tonight, he had set his own private deadline to tomorrow morning.

Sheridan's quiet voice came booming through his ear, "Kevin, is that you? Are you alright?"

Kevin closed his eyes, dropping his head to his chest, 'I'm such an idiot,' he thought.
"Hey Sheridan, I'm sorry. I thought you were A.J."

"Oh definitely not the same person," Sheridan blubbered out nervously. "Sorry to bother you, but I wasn't sure if you wanted me to come to the office in the morning or not since you're scheduled to be in the studio."

Kevin blinked, twice. He hadn't thought about it. Truth be told, he hadn't thought about anything more beyond sleep and getting the right answer out of Sheridan. The baker rounded the corner as he spoke, "Here ya go Mr. Richardson. All set. That'll be $175.00."

"A hundred and seventy five dollars for THAT? Are you kidding me?"

"Kevin, where are you? Are you okay?" Sheridan's voice raised a pitch.

"Sheridan, I'll call you later. I gotta go."

~

Sheridan heard nothing, then a dial tone. Walking back into the living room where Angel and Nick were spread out on the couch, she mumbled, "He's a strange man."

Nick's ears perked up, "Who Kev?"

"Yes. He was acting very strange on the phone."

Nick sat up quickly, nearly knocking Angel off the couch. "Hey, watch it!" she hissed as she got up to go into her bedroom.

"Why do you say that Sheridan?" Nick asked nervously resting his elbow on his knee, bringing his hand up to his face as he began to chew on his left index fingernail.

Angel returned from her bedroom with a laundry basket in hand, "Here big guy. Your turn to bring up the next load from the dryer. Don't forget to pull our last load from the washing machine either."

Nick tried to act relaxed but the girls noticed his demeanor almost immediately.
Nick trudged his way to the door. Before he closed the door, his eyes appeared focused on the telephone.

"What's up with him?" Angel questioned Sheridan since she was the last person to talk with him.

"Beats me. He started acting strange after Kevin called. Wonder what's up. Is Nick meeting Kevin and A.J. tonight?"

"Not that I know of. We have plans on ordering in food before calling it an early night of sleep."

Peering over Angel's shoulder and looking into her bedroom, "Well, you better put away some of your clothes or you won't have a place to sleep."

A sly smile formed on Angel's face causing Sheridan to grumble. Sheridan's hand flew up in the air as she motioned Angel to stop with her hand. "I don't want to hear about it. I don't want details, just leave it alone."

Angel's head lilted to the side. "I'm sure if you give Kevin the right answer he'll be more than obliged to take care of that little problem for you." Angel snickered as Sheridan frowned at her.

"You think so?" Sheridan walked away with a little attitude in her step as she headed back to her bedroom. "Everybody seems so obsessed with my answer."

Angel shrugged her shoulders. Her boyfriend was acting weird; her best friend was a nervous nelly over giving her boss/friend/boss/could be lover, an answer. "I wonder what he'll do if she says no." A grin broke across her face as she thought about the possibilities. "Maybe Sheridan needs a little nudge in the right direction. I think I'll be the nudgee. It's time."

~

"How come so much?" Kevin was still in a state of shock. "Is it made of gold, diamonds, or something?"

The baker laughed slightly, "No sir. We charge $100 for any after hour requests."

Kevin mumbled a few profanities under his breath as he reached into his jeans pocket to retrieve his wallet. Handing over his black American Express card, he declared, "This is counting as a business expense - screw that."

Kevin signed his name to the receipt slip grumbling it was his own fault since he was the one who overslept.

"Would you like to see the cake?" the baker questioned.

Knowing baking was somewhat of an art that should be appreciated, Kevin smiled a sincere smile for the first time since he entered the bakery, "Yes please. I'd like to."

The baker's cheeks glowed with excitement. "Nick chose a beautiful cake, if I do say so myself." The baker continued, "The cake is in the shape of a decorated present box with a spectacular bow on top. Do not press down on the top or it will break. It's white with red and pink polka dots and a giant magenta bow."

Kevin was stunned by its presentation. If he didn't know better, he wouldn't have thought it was a cake. "Wow. That's amazing." Looking on the counter, Kevin noticed the baker's business cards. "I'm definitely remembering this for a special occasion. How did Nick find you?" Kevin questioned the baker as if he knew.

The baker shrugged his shoulders, "I have no idea. I think our bakery has a good reputation so I'll guess it was by word of mouth."

Kevin nodded in appreciation, "Very well deserved. Thanks again, but now I must really get moving, I'm already late."

The baker came up behind Kevin to lock the door, "I understand. Don't get any speeding tickets."

Kevin rolled his eyes. That's all he needed, one more driving offense and his car insurance company would have a fit. He set the cake gently in the back of his truck. He'd call the guys when he was a little closer. There was no sense in being bitched at the entire time he drove over there.

~

Brian finally met up with A.J and Howie, who sat waiting longer than expected. "Where the hell have you been?" A.J. questioned Brian who was 15 minutes late.

Brian raised his hand, "Don't ask!"

Howie saw the look on Brian's face and concluded it had to do with Leighanne. "You alright Bri?"

Brian sighed, leaning up against his car, "Yeah, I'm fine. Sorry I'm late. It's been one of those days that doesn't want to end."

"It's quite comical that the two most reliable members are the two who will be the tardy ones tonight." Howie smiled.

"Yeah - Kevin said not to wait for him though. He'll go straight to the girls' apartment once he pays for the cake." Checking his watch, A.J. concluded that he must be done by now.

~

Kevin sat at the light waiting on the green. He dialed his cell and waited for the other party to pick up.

A.J.'s cell rang; he flipped it open and smiled at Howie and Brian. "Nice of you to join us," he snickered.

"I'm on my way," he sighed. They had him dead to rights now. As if, A.J. needed any more ammunition to torment him. At least there wouldn't be a fine involved, they weren't performing. The last one out of the dressing room door always put fifty dollars in the pot for the post part at the end of the tour.
Howie knew whom A.J. was talking to by what A.J. had said. "Tell Kevin we just got here!" Howie shouted.

"Tell D I said 'Thanks'."

A.J. turned toward Howie after hearing the dial tone kick in. With a look of disgust and a frown, "He heard you. Damn, D, stop screwing with my fun."

The three men piled into Brian's car. The girls' apartment complex had a limited amount of parking spaces. They had gotten in trouble in the past for disobeying the tenants' rule. At least they would arrive together, except for Kevin, naturally.

~

Stretching her arms toward the ceiling, Angel whined, "I'm going to take a nice long, hot bubble bath and relax my body."

Nick nearly flew out of the bedroom, "NO, you can't."

Both girls jumped when they heard Nick's sharp command. "I can't?" Angel questioned. "WHY?"

"Because I have our dinner on its way and I wouldn't want it to get cold, that's why!" Nick patted himself for not blowing his cover. Now if only his four brothers would just get here they could get the party rolling.

The doorbell rang and Nick nearly leaped over the furniture to get there first. Angel and Sheridan exchanged a glance showing they both questioned his mental state.

Nick flung the door open and stared at the woman. "Oh hey, it's you. Marybeth, how are you?" Nick said as he reached to help carry some of her bags. He walked with a sulk back into the living room.

"I'm exhausted Nick. How are you?" Marybeth said irritatingly.

Placing the bags on the table, he rubbed the palms of his hands over his eyes and replied, "Ditto."

Now Sheridan was confused. Marybeth had showed up out of the blue without so much as a phone call. "Hey Marybeth, you're just in time for dinner." Sheridan chimed.

"Dinner? That would be great! I brought over some wine and cheese to munch on." Marybeth said as she placed the platter down on the table.

Sheridan watched Marybeth carefully, something was going on. Marybeth had come over and brought cheese? Great, what could they be up to? She knew today was Angel's birthday. They always did one shopping trip and lunch together for birthdays. They couldn't do it today so it was planned for later in the week.

The doorbell rang again and both Sheridan and Angel waited to see if Nick would take off like a rocket from the kitchen. "Do you want to get that Nick?" Sheridan asked.

"Yeah, I'm on it." Nick casually walked towards the door as the girls went into the kitchen to set out the plates, silverware, and drinks for everyone. Sheridan tried unsuccessfully to corner Marybeth in the first few seconds. The apartment was tiny so she really couldn't ask without Angel hearing her.

Nick opened the door and was greeted with a bouquet of flowers, huge arrangement of balloons, and a large brown paper bag, stapled shut, which smelled like Chinese food.

"'Bout damn time you guys got here!" Nick mumbled under his breath. "What happened? Where's Kevin with the cake?"

"Whoa…slow down big guy," A.J. interrupted Nick's ramblings. He hadn't witnessed Nick this nervous in a long time and wondered what was up. "We're running a little later than the plan, but it's all good, man." A.J. wrapped his arm around Nick and Nick shrugged him off. A.J. headed towards the girls at the table.

"Hey girls, what's sup?" A.J. was in high-spirits this evening. Stunned, Marybeth almost dropped the bottle of wine she was attempting to open. "Let me help you with that," A.J. insisted.

"Next time, could you give me more than a thirty minute warning?" Marybeth whispered behind clenched teeth.

A.J. was puzzled at Marybeth's snapping comment. "What's wrong?" AJ was confused.

Marybeth's eyes grew three times in amazement. "I'm exhausted from my trip and fell asleep on my couch. If I had known, I would have planned a little bit." Marybeth looked around to make sure no one was within ear shot of their conversation. Sheridan and Angel had drifted back to the living room. In the best whisper she could manage, she ground out, "ANDIDON'THAVEACARD!"

Angel walked around the corner of the kitchen door, "What's going on?"

Marybeth grimaced at A.J. A.J. gave her a cheesy grin and then turned to Angel. "Well, my good friend invited me for a dinner celebration. Apparently, it's someone's birthday today." A.J. spoke as his eyebrows wiggled up and down.

Sheridan and Angelina hadn't quite processed what was going on in their apartment yet. Howie watched matching quizzical looks grace both of their faces. He stifled the giggle and walked up to Angelina and gave her a hug. With his trademark wink, and his arms wide-open he yelled, "Surprise!"

"Huh?" Angel's gaze swept around the room. It landed on Sheridan, who stared just as blankly back at her.

Nick closed his eyes. Sadly, Howie's actions only confused Angel more. 'This is a disaster.' He needed to explain. "Angel, I thought I'd invite the gang over for a little dinner and cake as a surprise for your birthday."

Angel's knees nearly buckled, almost causing her to fall. Her life had been turned upside-down and inside out; it was surreal to her when she actually thought about it. And now, standing in her apartment, is a group she had admired from afar for so long, had written about for years, and had filled many a night's dreams; now one by one, they were coming up to her, offering hugs and kisses for her birthday. Tears began to form in the corner of her eyes but she shook them off. "Oh Nick, that's so sweet of you. You didn't have to do that for me."

Sheridan had turned into fan-mode again, but with a twinge of jealously. It was wrong to be jealous but dammit, she was frustrated as well. Add to the fact Kevin wasn't here, which really annoyed her. "Yeah Nick, you shouldn't have--" Arms dropped around her shoulders and she heard a southern drawl in her ear. "So, did you give your answer yet?"

She squeezed her eyes shut and her nose crinkled. "No," she moaned.

"That's cute," A.J. laughed.

"What the moan or the nose wrinkle?" Howie jumped in on the conversation.

"I think the moans are reserved for Kevin." Angel spoke and shot Sheridan a smirk.

"It's none of your business," Sheridan's sing song voice laced with anger filled the room.

"It will be if he is a pain in our collective ass," A.J. sang back to her.

Marybeth stepped in front of A.J. Her brows rose on her face and her lips puckered. "Then again, maybe not." Alex grabbed a glass of soda water and cut around Marybeth. He wasn't doing well with her today.

As they were setting up the table to eat and preparing the drinks, the doorbell rang a third time. Slowly, Nick crossed the living room, heading towards the door when another knock came booming through, evidentially he wasn't fast enough for the person on the other side. Sheridan gasped as she realized it had to be Kevin, he was the only one missing.

"Hold your horses!" Nick yelled as he opened the door. Kevin stood in front of him holding a huge, white box.

Nick's eyes lit up when he saw the box. "Oh man, thanks for getting this!" Nick took the box and was almost skipping towards the kitchen.

"Don't drop that box Nick. I paid an arm and a leg for it…Oh hey Angel, happy birthday Sweetie!" Kevin scanned the room with his gaze. He found what he was looking for in the kitchen. Her head down as she set out silverware, at least she didn't bolt from the room. She'd been skittish since this morning when they flew home and he knew why.

"Wow, what a pleasant surprise. You guys, you didn't have to do this." Angel said in a shy voice. Her mannerisms became oddly introverted.

Nick walked over to Angel with a glass of Merlot, putting his arm around her as he handed her a glass. "Oh, the best is yet to come."

Nick played host, grabbing everyone a drink and setting up the rest of the food on the table for dinner with Marybeth and Sheridan's help. Nick couldn't help but notice Marybeth was avoiding A.J. and Sheridan wasn't even acknowledging Kevin.

Everyone went to the table and grabbed a plate. Sheridan looked bewildered as she looked around. The phone ringing broke her from her reverie. "I got it," was all she said.

"Hello."

"Hello. Is Angelina home?" a male voice boomed through the phone. Sheridan turned towards the table and saw seven pairs of eyes looking at her, causing her to freak a bit.

"May I ask whose calling?" Sheridan tried to ignore the five men and two women staring at her.

Sheridan heard a male voice, "An old friend."

A chill ran through Sheridan's veins thinking who this psychopath could be. Their apartment was invaded while they weren't home and now freaks are calling.

"Does this old friend have a name?" Sheridan watched all the boys' heads turn ever so slightly to her. 'Boy, talk about an intimidating group.'

"Is this Sheridan?" The voice came back to her.

She almost dropped the phone, but remained calm. "Yes this is Sheridan… who is this?" Kevin was half way across the room to grab the phone out of Sheridan's hand when she started to laugh. He froze before snatching the phone from her.

"Hmm makes you wonder how that is going to pan out, doesn't it?" Angel smirked at Howie and Brian when Kevin's mind-set kicked in. She watched him fly towards Sheridan's side.

Kevin walked nonchalantly pass Sheridan and down the hall to the bathroom.

Brian and Howie grinned back at Angel. She narrowed her gaze, "You know how this is going to pan out don't you?"

"Oh my God. How are you? Where are you? How have you been?" Sheridan waved to Angelina to come get the phone.

Angelina excused herself and slowly got up from the table and proceeded to follow Kevin's footsteps. As she did, Kevin came back. He stared at her as he returned to the table. She would be talking to the two quiet ones as soon as she finished speaking to whoever was on the phone. They knew something.

Nick watched the situation in front of him intensely.

"Okay, here she is. Hopefully, we'll see you soon. Oh, you won't be seeing my picture in People anytime soon. Okay. You too. Bye." Sheridan handed the phone over to Angel, "It's Jay."

Angel's face lit up with excitement, "Hey Jay. How are you?" Nick's face turned a bit sour seeing his girlfriend's eyes light up with the mention of another man's name. Hearing Angel's laugh was causing him to lose focus as he ate his Chinese food with the chopsticks.

Sheridan sat down smiling. She reached for her fork to continue eating. When she looked up to take a bite, six sets of eyes were staring at her.

"You guys have to stop doing that!" Sheridan said in a shrill voice.

"Who's Jay?" Kevin said calmly before biting down on his chopsticks.

"You guys are paranoid, you know that? And…..and…..and you are making me paranoid too. I KNOW some one was in our apartment earlier today, but can't figure out who and why yet. And….and…your behavior isn't helping!"

"Oh stop it, I do not." Angel's loud voice vibrated through the dining room.

Nick repeated what Kevin said, but in a deeper tone.

"Calm down Nick. Your neck vein is starting to rear its ugly head." Howie said hoping the others saw Nick's anger beginning to boil.

Sheridan cocked her head to the side, "Are you jealous Nick?"

"Surprises suck, don't they," Marybeth mumbled under her breath. A.J. dropped his head at her words.

"Oh thanks babe. I gotta go. We'll catch up later. Yeah, I promise. Thanks for thinking about me and calling. Much love to mom. Love you too. Bye." Angel's smile reached ear to ear as she walked back to the table, completely oblivious to her surroundings.

Jabbing some food with his chopstick, Nick managed to break the silence, "Who's Jay?"

"Jay? Oh, he's an old friend of mine from way back in Erie. Great friend, and his family was always so sweet, especially his mom. Hey, he has the same birthday as you next week."

"You remember his birthday?" Nick squeaked, before grabbing his drink and gulping it.

Sheridan could sense the fury ranging in Nick. "Angel retains useless information in that head of hers. Why….she knows every one of your unreleased NON songs like they're the most popular songs on the radio."

Angel's head snapped up and her eyes bulged out of her head. Behind gritted teeth, "I don't think we need to have this conversation Sheridan thankyouverymuch!"

Brian got caught up in the moment to try and distract the conversation, "This doesn't surprise me. She has every one of his concerts on bootleg CDs under her bed."

Quickly turning her head, Angel yelled, "How do you know that?"

Nick's facial features softened a bit. He turned toward Angel, "You do?"

Kevin and Howie turned towards Sheridan, "Why?"

Sheridan couldn't answer them, otherwise she would be busting herself as well. If anyone ever found her Kevin collection, she'd die. She thought it would better to lay blame elsewhere. "Yes Brian, how would you know?"

A.J. looked at Brian, "I'm with Angel. How would you know that?" Marybeth kicked him under the table. He turned to her, "That hurt."

"It was supposed to," Marybeth stabbed a piece of chicken with her chopstick. "How the hell are you supposed to eat food with these damn things! No wonder most Chinese people are so damn tiny. Must take them hours to finish a meal…." Marybeth noticed all eyes were on her. She had been rambling out of anger and now was feeling a bit embarrassed. Needing to take pressure off of her, she turned towards Brian, "Brian, how do you know what Angel has hidden under her bed?"

Brian sat stunned. He hung his head; it was time to fess up. "I was the one in your apartment earlier today." Looking at Sheridan, "And so was Leighanne and Baylee. And Baylee broke your vase with the dried flowers by an accident. I'm sorry." Turning towards Angel, "And I was looking for a place to hide Nick's gift in your room but was having trouble with all your stuff."

A.J. licked his lips, "What kind of stuff? Any kinky stuff?"

Angel didn't think before she spoke, "Not too much……" A hand covered her mouth before she said anything else.

"I think they get the point Angel," Nick said as slowly removed his hand. Angel's face turned crimson as the light bulb went off in her head.

Howie leaned in toward Brian, "What else did you find?" Angel closed her eyes to avoid the looks.

Brian turned towards Angel, "You really need to clean your room young lady."

Nick's face paled as he realized his friend snooped through Angelina's bedroom.

Kevin decided to rag on Angelina, "Brian, did you find any pasties in her closet?"

"What are pasties?" Sheridan asked causing a few chuckles.

Kevin rolled his eyes, some days she was just too much. "I'll get you some to try out."

Angelina sat staring at Kevin, her shoulders were going up and down, but her lips were pressed into a hard line.

"It's a battle for you babe, but you can fight it." Kevin laughed as he raised his glass to Angel in Salute. "So did you?" Kevin put Brian right back on the spot, including Angel.

"No, but I did find a young Nickolas in a video titled "Griswold the Turkey."

Nick began choking on the beer he was attempting to swallow. "I asked you to hide her gift, not go looking through her shit!"

Angel sat quietly in her seat staring in front of her. Her cheeks were bright red and she could feel tears welling up in her eyes.

Nick gave Brian a look that spoke a thousand words. "I'm really sorry Angel. I shouldn't have gone through your stuff like that. I….I….I guess I was really intrigued to know what was in the most private space belonging to one of our biggest fans. I never dreamed of finding so many personal mementoes of our lives in your room. Sheridan doesn't have as much under her bed but shoes. Do you wear all those shoes? Leigh said the one pair was puccini's."

"Not Puccini's they're Pucci," Sheridan grinned.

"When the hell did you get a pair of Emilo Pucci's?" Angel scoffed at the secret Brian had revealed.

"What size did you get anyway?" Marybeth pointed her chopstick at Sheridan, "You shouldn't spend that much on one pair of shoes."

"I should kill you for buying those, but can I borrow them first?" Angel's head bounced up and down. "Those babies are killer. They're the rage out here."

The guys heads bounced between the women as the topic was side tracked temporarily by a pair of shoes.

"They run a bit on the small side, but there hot." Sheridan grinned from ear to ear. "Thong shoes, nice little chain on them."

"Thong shoes, they make thongs for shoes?" A.J. looked at Kevin.

"I like the thong ones, especially with the nice chain around the ankles. Very sexy with the right dress." Kevin closed his mouth after letting the remark slip out. His band-mates were staring at him with a glazed look in their eyes. "Speaking of thongs… Brian, did you find any of Angel's."

Brian didn't hear his cousin. Attempting damage control, he began to ramble on once again. "And your song writing ability? Angel, you've got an incredible talent! I was intrigued by what I had found and looked for more. I guess I got too greedy because I was shocked to find thong underwear under your bed beside the handcuffs and blindfold…..that's when it hit me, what I was doing was completely out of line." Looking down, Brian's face was beat red, "I was wrong. Will you forgive me please?"

Nick was horrified. He, along with the rest of the boys, sat staring at Brian with their jaws hanging down.

Angel began to stand. She looked up just as a tear slid down her face. "CHOIRBOY snooped in my bedroom!" was all she could say before a snort came from deep within her, followed by laughter. Sheridan took her normal route to fan-mode and immediately started belly-laughing with her.

Marybeth couldn't contain herself either. "Brian, out of everyone here, I must say, I am shocked at your behavior. I didn't think you had it in you. A.J. and Kevin? Definitely. Howie? Maybe. But you?

Kevin raised his voice, "HEY, I wouldn't do that."

"Oh, what about the thong shoes with the chains around the ankles? Or were you discussing something else about Sheridan and chains around her ankles?" Angel stopped as Sheridan choked on her food.

Kevin banged on her back to dislodge whatever was caught in her throat. Most likely, it was Angel's words. Kevin bit the inside of his cheek, "Smartass. Hey Bri, what else did ya find?"

A.J. leaned in on his elbows, "Yeah, what else did you find?"

Nick stood up. "Okay guys. That's enough. We've got a special present for Angel and I think now would be the best time."

Angel's eyes widened, she turned toward her roommate who had an indifferent look on her face. At least the redness had left. Reaching for the wine, Angel poured herself another drink and refilled Marybeth's and Sheridan's glasses as well.

Kevin inserted his glass between Angel and Sheridan. "Don't mind if I do." His southern drawl made Sheridan shudder as a chill ran up her spine and down her toes. He leaned in, realizing his body caused this reaction. He put his lips close to her ear and whispered, "Listen carefully." He fought not to kiss her right in front of everyone. He didn't give a damn anymore.

Angel smirked, "Hey Kev, I heard drinks can be used as a social lubricant. Maybe Sheridan just needs a little more lubricant."

Howie's head snapped up with a smirk. A.J. coughed, he didn't think anyone would be able to even remotely recall that specific interview. He glanced towards Marybeth, it looked like Angel wasn't the only one bringing a little Backstreet from the back of their minds.

"Howie does cast his lines and trolls, ask Kevin." A.J. grinned.

Kevin's laughter was the loudest, he had been acting like a real dog that day and busted on both of them.

"I think it's time to get this party started." Howie moved around the living room to his man bag, pulled out a CD and put it in the girls' stereo system. Turning towards the living room, he asked, "We ready?"

Nick nodded his head. Brian's head moved to the beat, "That sounds good. Why don't you turn that up? Woo Woo" Howie turned up the volume and walked closer to the sofa.

Angel sat down with a thud when she realized they were going to sing a song. A new song. "Oh dear God," she whispered as she sat Indian-styled on her beanbag chair staring at her favorite band.

Sheridan seemed dazed as she fixated on Kevin. Her eyes locked onto his hands and then his lips. After three glasses of wine, her mind was going to the gutter.

It took a few second for Marybeth to catch on. She was on her fourth glass of wine and was not used to drinking this much. A.J.'s husky voice resonated in her ears, "Baby…..Hooo Hooo."

Brian began singing with a beautiful smile and walked over to Angel singing,

Pay attention are you listening
You're my favorite girl
Excuse me for the moment
I'm in another world

Tuning out, Sheridan was experiencing a mix of emotions: excitement, jealousy, happiness, anger. It wasn't until she heard all their voices singing, she realized what song they were singing,

Hang the sign upon the door, It says
Don't disturb this groove
Just a way to tell you that
I'm so into you
and the feelings are so real
don't disturb this groove

AJ continued,

Erotic whispers for the listener
Let the music fill the air
Excuse me for a moment
I'm at a loss for words

Marybeth chuckled.

AJ and Nick sang, "By election." Nick stopped and walked towards Angel while AJ continued,

Your perfection
And as if these eyes would care
Your heart is in the right place

A.J. joined Nick, "So don't you go and change." A.J. leaned down and gave Angel a kiss while Nick continued,

Baby over and over
the passion starts again
and the lollipops and everything

Howie and A.J leaned in on the couple, "with a little taste of sin." Angel was in full blush mode while Sheridan's face alternated between green from Angel getting all the attention to red when she would stare at Kevin.

Nick grabbed Angel's face, singing directly into her eyes,

Causing fire and desire
In this mortal soul to live
Till the angels fall from heaven
And the day the earth stands still

Now it was Kevin and Brian's turn to join the birthday girl,

Hang a sign upon the door
Say don't disturb this groove
Just a way to say that
I'm so into you and the feeling's so real
don't disturb this groove
Cause I want to tell you that
I'm so into you

As they continued singing, Angel had a lovesick goofy look on her face. She was melting hearing their voices sing the melody,

Close your eyes and let the music put you in the mood
Lock the door and turn the phone off, it's time for me and you
Hang the sign upon the door, it says don't disturb this groove

Of course, Nick ended the song with his trademark improv,

It's the feeling girl
It's the feeling girl
It's the feeling girl

With his hand on her cheek, he brought his lips to hers in a very simple, yet passionate kiss. Angel kept her eyes closed for a few seconds longer. She didn't want to move and ruin the feelings coursing through her body at the exact moment.

Brian leaned in and whispered, "You're the birthday girl. Any requests?"

Angel's eyes shot open, "Are you serious?" She made eye contact with all of them and they all nodded their heads.

Pulling her legs from under her, she stood up and began to pace with her arms flying around in the air, while mumbling to herself.

Kevin leaned into Sheridan as he sat on the arm of the couch. He dipped down and whispered his question. "What's she saying?"

Sheridan half smirked, "She's debating with herself which song to choose."

Like a deer caught in headlights, Angel grabbed Sheridan's arm, "Which one?" She needed some support from her best friend.

Sheridan was playing it cool. "I can't believe you don't know which one."

Shaking her arm, Angel repeated through grit teeth, "10,000 Promises or Like a child?"

"Whoa, it's been a long time since we've sung those two songs," Howie expressed fear hearing those titles.

"I've seen you perform all my other favorites live in concert. I've only seen you sing these two songs on Another Night Out video. Of course, there was the a capella performance on Regis…"

"C'mon D, she's not going to care if we have mess it up," A.J. interjected Angel's ramblings.

Angel asked Howie, "Well, which one are you more comfortable with? I don't care. Really."

"I think 'Like a child' is best sung a capella."

The girls sat in awe. After the last note was sung, they simultaneously said, "Wow."

Nick and A.J. went to get the cake ready and light the candles. "You think she liked it Aje?"

"Liked it? Pfft….I think she orgasmed during one of her 'oh my Gods.'"

Nick smirked, "Nah, she's much louder than that."

A.J. complimented his friend, "I bet she is. You young stud you. So, are you giving her THE present?"

Nick bit the inside of his cheek, "I think so."

A.J. finished lighting the candles, "You think so? You got a backup present in case you don't want to give this one?"

Nick shook his head no, "Shit. I know…I'm just…."

A.J. put the cake down and made sure he had Nick's attention, "If you are not sure, then don't do it Nick."

"I definitely want to give it to her Aje…..I'm just afraid I'll scare her off."

A.J. smacked Nick upside the head, "Are you kiddin' me? You really think that."

Looking down at his feet as he kicked one foot out, "Yeah. Yeah I am. I've got the most screwed up family that would put the Osbourne's to shame in a reality show. Plus I have such a public life. There's no privacy and I'd be dragging her into it."

A.J. calmed his friend, "Nick, you already have. She's been dealing with the 'no privacy' issue for a while now."

Nick thought about it as he watched his friend's back carry the cake into the living room. "Yeah, you're right."

"Of course I am." A.J. said as Kevin dimmed the lights and they all sang "Happy Birthday" to Angel.

"This is the most beautiful cake I've ever seen." Angel admired her wrapped box present cake, complete with a big magenta bow wrapped around it.

Angel began to cut it, but realized the bow was in the way. Kevin couldn't help himself, "Hey Blondie, that's part of the cake there."

Angel and Sheridan replied simultaneously, "It is?"

"Were you two twins and separated at birth?" Kevin couldn't believe how identical they could be on occasion.

"Do you know some twins can feel what each other are feeling at the same moment in time? They can feel when one another are physically injured and other stuff." Sheridan looked towards Angel with a smirk.

Kevin watched, Angel seemed clueless, Sheridan was grinning now.

"If that were true, you'd have a different attitude Sheridan." Marybeth was the one who drove the joke home for Kevin.

"I don't think that's funny," Sheridan's head moved from side to side.

The guys caught bits in pieces of the conversation but these three women could talk in code some days and they never understood it.

Howie helped cut the cake and distribute it. Angel sat on Nick's lap as they ate their cake. They shared a huge piece. A small amount of frosting ended up on Nick's cheek. Angel leaned down and seductively removed it with her tongue. Groaning, Nick whispered, "Did they leave yet?"

Brian felt his pants pocket move by his vibrating cell phone for the fifth time since he arrived at the girls' apartment. "Well kiddies, I've got to get going."

"Why? Is the ball and chain paging you again?" Kevin ragged on Brian.

"At least, Leighanne didn't hire a private detective to follow me." Brian spit back at him.

All heads turned towards Kevin. "Not yet anyway," came back from Kevin. He was getting damn sick of hearing about that.

Marybeth staggered a bit. A.J. grabbed a hold of her arm, "I think I'm going to bring Marybeth outside and get some fresh air."

"Ya need a hand?" Howie watched A.J.

"Nah, why don't you head on out." A.J. looked back at Nick and Angel sucking face on the couch. "I think the private party is getting ready to start."

"Eww you two," Sheridan groaned and everyone else chuckled. "I'm going to bed." She turned to walk and tripped over large feet. A hand grabbed her by the elbow and righted her.

"We need to talk first…" Kevin glanced around the room. All eyes focused on him and he watched them hold a collective breath. "Jesus," he groaned. "About tomorrow and work, okay?"

Heads in the room turned and laughed. Finally, they all filtered out leaving Angel and Nick cavorting on the couch and Sheridan frozen in her spot as the door slammed closed.

Kevin kicked the couch, "You two want to take this private."

Nick groaned as Angel pulled at him to get up. "Fine. You do know this isn't your place, it's theirs."

"I don't think Sheridan wants to see this anymore than I do." Kevin stood with his hands on his hips as the eyebrows went up.

Once up, Nick walked to Angel's room wordlessly.

"Oh please, I lived with it for months with Sheridan and Tom sucking face on this couch. It's payback time." Angel blurted out as Sheridan gasped in horror.

"Thanks Angel, for that visual," Kevin groaned ever so slightly.

Angel squinted her eyes at Kevin, "Can you teach me how to do that to him?"

"Doubt it, it comes from years of intimidation and practice," Kevin softly chuckled.

From Angel's doorway, Nick laughed. "And poundings, he never tells anyone about the pounding he used lay on A.J. and me. I got him once though. I punched him right in the face. Knocked him right on his ass too." Nick laughed as headed toward Angel's bedroom.

"I still owe you for that, don't I?" Kevin growled.

Nick quickly shut angel's door. Kevin was satisfied when Angel's bedroom door closed the second time and the lock clicked into place. He grabbed Sheridan's hand and led her to the couch. He hit the seat cushion with a whoosh and Sheridan followed. "Ya got an answer for me?" Kevin held onto her hand. Her fingers tightly wound in his. He squeezed his eyes closed as well as squeezing her hand as he waited for the answer, the right answer.

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