Show Me A Reason – Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

During the making of “Never Gone”, I knew I was completely broken. The music industry now considered us a joke. Jive was trying to ruin us at every turn. People thought I was scum, a woman beater, based on nothing but lies from someone I thought I loved. My life had become a living hell no matter how I acted otherwise. And yet, it was our most creative time musically. It was also our freefall back to the bottom.

Nick smirked to himself before plopping down at an end of the table he knew none of those who were actually there in the real sense for January 28th, 2004 would sit. Grace was suddenly absent but that was okay for now. The memories this time weren’t bad per say though they weren’t exactly good, either. It was funny but he remembered not being remotely bothered by the idea of working on his birthday. Mainly because as cruelly predicted by both AJ and Brian, his solo project had failed. He’d proven nothing yet at the same time had been putting off the reunion despite how badly he wanted it. Getting the phone call from Brian of all people a few months ago about Oprah had sparked a chain reaction that led to all five realizing something had been missing. A light that only performing together seemed to bring. Neither this self or his past one would ever admit it, but even solo it didn’t have that same sense of satisfaction.

Could by why he partied every night after the show.

It didn’t matter though because he could control it. The others wouldn’t know.

The others came in pretty timely of course. Twenty five year old Nick strolled in twenty minutes with a sheepish look at his face. “Don’t say it Kev, I know, I’m late.”

He still earned the look he’d long ago dubbed as the Dirty Brow.

Howie laughed, sliding him a cup of coffee he’d picked up from Starbucks for everyone. He was just happy Nick came in without being hung-over. It was becoming a common occurrence ever since Paris Hilton had entered his life. “Here, drink and he can lecture you later.”

The blonde grinned as he grabbed Howie’s cheek and loudly kissed it before sitting down with his coffee. “How’d you know I overslept?”

AJ snorted. “When do you not?”

Brian grinned. “When you wake up and get to a meeting on time it’s a sign the end is near.”

“Pretty sure that’s not in the bible.”

“It’s in the fine print.”

While things with Brian weren’t the same, they had gotten better. It was that their friendship had become more of a professional one. No more meeting up on days off. Or random visits when they weren’t touring. Their friendship existed when they were working. It was something but only a fraction of what their bond used to be. Nick wondered if he was more like Brian, didn’t get arrested, if maybe things would’ve been different. Another example of his failures, he supposed.

“Alright kids, time to work.” But Kevin was grinning. In his hand was a list of the songs they’d recorded so far. It seemed like they worked with everyone possible so far. The Underdogs, Boyz II Men, Five For Fighting, so many people wanted to work with them. It felt incredible. They were working songs they’d written, more than ever. It was something they almost didn’t want to see end.

Almost.

“So we have our list of songs we gotta narrow it down to.”

“What about Jive’s request who go record some songs with Max?” Brian pointed out, bringing up the latest in problems. For whatever reason those at the label had insisted they work with Dr. Luke and Max Martin, just in case. In case of what, it wasn’t clear. True this would’ve been the first album they went without recording with their longtime friend but so far they’d hit their stride this album. It felt like it was truly theirs. “I don’t think they’re satisfied with anything we have.”

“Fuck them.” The youngest member said casually. “We were promised some real freedom and we’re gonna use it.” He still remembered how badly they’d meddled with Now or Never and still hadn’t forgiven them. That whole project was like a heartache that wouldn’t quite leave.

“We’ll get to that later. We gotta figure out what songs we’re cutting first anyway, what songs we’ll fine tune today when the producers show up in a couple hours and…”A knock of the door caused Kevin’s infamous brows to furrow. “The hell?”

AJ shrugged. “Don’t look at me. The only one who knew I’d be here today was my mom.” She was still protective especially now that he was diving back into music post-rehab. Still he hadn’t slipped up yet even though he’d just broken up with his most recent in his line of girlfriends, Katie.

A glance went towards Howie who just smirked in response.

“Leighanne’s back in Atlanta with Baylee.”

Nick shrugged. “Why’s everyone looking at me now?” Groaning, he got up and went towards the door at the end of the small meeting room at the recording studio they’d reserved for the day. “Paris isn’t really into the whole behind the scenes of music.” He glanced back before opening the door. “I think if she had her way I’d be out of the business completely if she didn’t think I’d go completely nuts.”

“You’re already there!” Howie cracked.

His response faded away when his girlfriend was on the other side. She was smiling her trademark smile that’d helped her use a humiliating sex tape as a way to fame. Kevin however was glaring. He’d never been able to hide his feelings for the spoiled heiress though he’d always been respectful mainly as a favor to Nick.

“Paris, you’ll have to come back later. We’re working and…”

“But it’s important.” She replied in that baby voice. “I have a surprise for Nick’s birthday.”

Nick couldn’t help but smile.”Really? Baby, that’s sweet of you but you didn’t have to.”

The other four shared a look before Kevin sighed. “Alright but it can’t be long.”

Motioning behind her two camera crews along with several paparazzi flooded the room moments after she picked up a cake from the table. The cake was beautiful, lovingly made and frosted from one of the finer bakeries in Los Angeles. It also had the smiling face of Paris Hilton staring up at them. AJ coughed, trying to hide back a laugh at the ridiculous. Howie was texting away on his phone probably as a distraction. Flashes were practically blinding them as Nick struggled for a response.

Brian smiled. “That’s…different.”

Nick forced a smile, unhappy with all the people, cameras, and attention as Paris set the cake down on their meeting table beside some papers before wrapping her arms around him. “Do you like it?”

No. Because I thought you were trying to surprise me. This feels like a publicity stunt. Are you using me too? Like everyone else I’ve ever met? I thought you were different. That you understood. None of those thoughts were voiced aloud however. He simply smiled some more before nodding. “Of course I do.”

But for the first time so far, Nick was wondering if everything in their relationship was what it seemed.

Grace appeared behind the older Nick and nodded at the scene. “I don’t think anything needs to be said.”

“I thought I loved her.” He admitted. “That’s why I had her name tattooed on me. But I don’t think she ever knew what love was. And then…she took my feelings for her and stabbed me in the back with em.”

“I know.” The guardian told him softly. “That’s where we’re going next.”

*****

“I don’t wanna go out Kevin.”

“Come on, you can come with me and Kristin, it’ll be a good night.” Even over the phone Nick could hear that tone where he knew it would be useless to argue. Still, he couldn’t help but try to anyway. Ever since the breakup he’d been living like a virtual hermit, living on the internet with his computer games and random lurking moments at LiveDaily.

“Oh so third wheel. That sounds funtastic.”

“Funtastic.”

“Sarcasm Kev, geeze.”

“So we’ll meet you at the Spider Bar.”

He sighed. “Do I get to say no?”

“No.”

Another sigh. “Fine. Whatever.”

“On the bright side, at least Paris will never crash one of our recording sessions with a cake featuring her face and accompanied by all those paparazzi again.”

He couldn’t help but laugh. That had been way over the top and one of the many things he’d be glad to be beyond. Unlike his ex-girlfriend, he hated being in the spotlight when he wasn’t performing. His private life should stay private. But when you were dating Paris Hilton, even the idea of that was a complete impossibility. Only, why couldn’t he find someone? Howie was still head over heels with Leigh even if that wasn’t public knowledge, Kevin had Kristin, and Brian had Leighanne. He’d never tell the others but he wanted what they had. That sense of security knowing someone loved you. He didn’t believe in marriage, but he did believe in that.

Whether or not he believed it would ever be in the cards for him was another thing entirely.

“Alright I’ll go willingly, how’s that?”

“Good, Kristin misses you. See you soon.”

Admittedly Nick missed Kristin too. As he got up and forced himself out of the camo pants he liked to use as a second skin, he mused upon his relationship with the one wife he really got along with. He liked Leigh, Howie’s girlfriend, as well though she wasn’t married to him yet. The two might as well be, but not officially. It was funny though when one compared the two women who’d been in their “Backstreet world” the longest. Kristin was practically the polar opposite of Leighanne. In the same way Kevin was a big brother, Kristin was his big sister. She understood the bond the four men shared and never once tried to interfere. Maybe it was because she’d been there since practically the beginning of their careers, Nick wasn’t sure.

It didn’t matter. Maybe tonight he could try not thinking about Paris and the how she’d broken his heart. The list of women who did that was getting to be a bit lengthy. Not something most would expect from Nick Carter, the Backstreet Boy. However it was definitely something that wimpy kid who loved to sing knew he’d have coming. It traced all the way back to his own poor excuse for a mother. Someone who’d been betraying him since before he even became a household name. He headed to the club, determined not to let Paris or her fame obsessed ways destroy yet another night for him.

She wasn’t worth it. If she was, I wouldn’t have been shown off as a trophy for the media all the time.

Watching himself after he’d met up with his two friends, Nick smiled a little. “I needed this escape and he’d known that.”

Grace nodded as she tucked a curl behind her ear. “Big brothers usually do.”

His voice grew softer, sadder. “You know he never doubted me. Not even once. Brian…he didn’t fully believe me at first. But Kevin never wavered. He’d say all he needed was the look on my face when I heard the rumors to know I’d never lay a hand on her.”

“Just because Brian’s faith was shaken doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you.”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Just…I want to enjoy this.” Because for the most part, oddly enough, it ended up in the end being a fun night. At least before everything felt apart. In that moment Nick watched his younger counterpart dancing with Kristin to the music while Kevin laughed and took photos.

Playfully he wrapped his arms around her and held her close. “Hey Kevin, you sure I can’t borrow her?”

He mock glared at his surrogate baby brother. “I told you a hundred times you can’t have sex with my wife!”

“Sharing is supposed to be caring Kevin!” He grinned cheekily. “Didn’t you learn that in kindergarten
dude?”

A roll of his eyes followed.

“Aww babe, I don’t mind keeping him.” Kristin teased, pinching Nick’s cheek. Her pretty blue eyes were sparkling impishly as she blew a stray lock of golden hair out of her face.

“Ha! See she wants me.”

Kevin laughed, pushing him lightly. “In your dreams. I think you’ve had too many if you think I’m gonna let you take her home with you. Or if you think you’re coming back with us.”

Nick smirked. “Guess I’ll let you have her for the night then.”

She kissed his cheek. “If I ever left him it’d be for you.”

“Ha!”

“Don’t encourage him.” But there was too much laughter in the mix for him to be taken seriously.

The trio headed outside, arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders. It was the first night since last week’s breakup where Nick had forgotten about his ex-girlfriend completely. He hadn’t been debating calling her or trying to come up with ways for her to take him back. Which was funny since for once, he’d been the one to dump her. He told her he felt like her latest publicity stunt and there were never any moments without cameras around anymore. But after the argument that had ensued, he’d been second guessing himself ever since.

Once they got outside however there was a mob scene. Nothing but brightly flashing lights and people yelling to get their attention. To Nick it was a nightmare. He’d thought they would back down now that Paris wasn’t his girlfriend anymore. Mainly because for the past week that fact had been absolutely true. While far from D-List, he wasn’t at the top of the A-List without her and he was okay with that. In fact he was happier about it than he would’ve thought before he became single again. But this, this was worse than anything he’d dealt with.

Because of what the paparazzi were yelling.

“NICK! NICK!”

“How do you explain Paris Hilton’s bruises?”

Nick blinked, his eyes wide as saucers. “What?!”

“Are you denying the allegations that you hurt Paris Hilton?”

He couldn’t form a complete thought let alone a sentence. “I…what?”

“How does it feel now that the world knows you’re a woman beater?”

“Do you think her family will press charges?”

Nick finally gained enough composure to respond. “No! I didn’t touch her!”

“Do you think your fans will believe you?”

“Why were you so angry you had to hit her?!”

Kevin glared at all the paparazzi and shoved them aside after pulling Nick close. “Ignore those assholes.” He whispered in his ear, trying to fight his way through. His other hand grasped his wife’s as he tried to get to their car as fast as he could. The photographers merely followed. Their questions as relentless as they were heartless. “I’m gonna get to the bottom of this. Don’t you worry little bro.”

“Is it because she’s more famous than you?”

“Do you regret leaving so many marks on her?”

“That is enough!” Kevin roared before whirling around on them as Kristin and Nick climbed into the car. “You vultures get the hell away from him! I don’t know what Paris or her friends are leaking to the tabloids but he says he didn’t hurt her, so he didn’t hurt her.”

“Kevin! Do you really believe Nick or are you trying to cover for the group’s image?”

He stared them down, stepping forward. “I believe him. Now get the hell out of here! Go stalk someone else for your garbage. If not the first call I’m making is to my lawyers for libel, you got it?!” He got in the vehicle and glanced at Nick.

Kristin wisely sat in the back knowing her husband was the best one to help in that moment. She was doing her best to comfort him from where he was. “It’s gonna be okay. You’re not that person sweetie, I know you’re not. Okay?”

Nick stayed silent unable to say anything in response.

Flashes were still going off outside but Kevin ignored them as he turned towards his friend. “Hey, you alright?”

His face was in his hands and his voice wavered the tears he was fighting so desperately to hold back. “Why were they saying that? I never would’ve hurt Paris. I loved her. She didn’t love me.”

Kevin pulled him against him in a tight bear hug. “I don’t know. But I believe you. I know you wouldn’t hurt her.” Even if she deserves it now were the words unspoken. “We’ll find out whatever is going on and get her to stop. I promise you that.”

For the first time in years Nick cried against him. “You really believe me? I didn’t hurt her. I wouldn’t. My…” He shook his head. “You know how my family is. I’d never, never lay a hand on anyone I dated.”

“Yeah, I do. And I’m gonna be here for you, no matter what.” He rubbed his back in soothing circles. “You can crash at our place tonight. Tomorrow morning we’ll call PR and figure out what to do next. I won’t let her destroy you.”

Grace turned towards her companion. Nick’s face was a window to a swirling tornado of mixed emotions. “He meant that you know.”

“I know. I do. Just…if he did then, why did he leave?” He asked, almost pleadingly as she led him away.

“That’s why I’m here, so you can see, and so you can understand.” There was more to it but now wasn’t the time. That would be later when his choices were facing him. She had one more card to play but she was hoping she wouldn’t have to. That perhaps maybe, just maybe, these memories and visions of the past would be enough to sway him. But she wasn’t sure.

Nick wouldn’t say it but a small part of him hoped that in some way, Grace really would help him see why. He wanted to know, to understand. Because Kevin’s departure was the last string of hope Nick had clung to. When he left, it snapped completely. It was only natural that his spirit had followed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.