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Title: "Come Back" 2/2
Willa wasn't sure what had made her send the letter. Maybe it was the day-to-day reminders of their relationship--moments that reminded her of her mangled heart. Maybe she hadn't ended up heartbroken over Nick Carter, but she toted around the loss every day of her life.
And she had to see his face on TV all the time. Hear his voice on the radio. Dreaming that Nick's arms were wrapped around her as she slept--his hands locked in hers--binding them together.
The reason for the letter wasn't even the main question. The question was why she'd written those particular words. What she'd meant to start off as a 'Hi, how ya doin?' letter had turned into a proclamation of how she missed their most intimate moments--and intimate feelings.
Still, she was a different girl now than before. The 'Mandy' Nick knew would never have sent him that letter. Mandy would have tucked it away (maybe even under her pillow) and read it over and over again as tears slid down her cheeks.
But she wasn't Mandy anymore. She was Willa now.
Willa was all about shock value. She wished she could have seen the look on his face when he'd seen the envelope with her familiar handwriting. She wished she could have heard his gasp as he opened and read her sexual thoughts and perverse memories spelled out in black and white.
Mainly, she wished he'd write back.
Two days later her wish came true. Her hands were shaking as she opened the envelope. It was white and plain, with a cancelled Porky Pig stamp.
Willa sat down on a bar stool and stared at the front of the envelope for some time. No name, just a return address.
But she knew his address. She knew his writing. Big sloppy numbers and letters that made her heart jump.
'Please come to me. I want you back.
Willa's gut instinct was to book a flight to Florida immediately. To throw her plans and schedule of commitments out the window and tell her manager she had a family emergency. To run to Nick. Run as fast as she could into his arms--for the hug she'd missed for longer than she could remember.
But she didn't. She couldn't. What if his response was a joke? What if it was something less than she hoped for?
What if all Nick wanted was another few fucks and then to toss her aside? After all, even she didn't know what she'd hoped to gain from the letter she'd sent him.
Willa simply knew while sitting and staring out of the window in her living room one day, she'd suddenly realized how much she missed Nick. She'd ended up grabbing her old photo album and staring at pictures of the two of them in their happiest moments.
Actually, they'd been together a few times after they called it off. They couldn't seem to help themselves. The relationship may have been rocky on the average, but the sex was always hot. The sex was always exactly what they needed and wanted--and seem to take place exactly when they wanted it.
It didn't matter where they were. Willa was infamous for escaping under a table to give him a blowjob--even if it was just a tease.
They were both known to take trips to the bathroom together--leaving a table full of friends and returning in fifteen or twenty minutes with rumpled clothes and mussed hair.
Willa cried--a lot--when they finally called it quits. When the fans and family and gossipy members of Backstreet's staff told lies and rumors--driving the inevitable wall between them.
Their last time together they'd made love and held one another for hours--both crying. Both whispering how they'd never forget what they'd shared--what they meant to one another.
Nowadays, Nick would ignore her in public. He didn't seem able to even look at her. He'd walk by her without even acknowledging her existence.
But why? Was it because (as people assumed), he truly did hate her? Maybe he really couldn't stand the sight or mention of her.
Or was it because he was hurt? Maybe he'd missed her--missed their relationship--and regretted how the past had possibly ruined his future.
Questions were all she seemed to have now. Questions, hopes and wishes. And his letter. His letter begging her to come to him.
Nick wanted her back. He'd said it right there as plain as day. He wanted her back--and Willa wanted to be back.
Nothing should stop that from happening. As she sat holding the letter and picturing Nick's face, she was determined that nothing would keep them apart.
Willa sat staring out the window, watching a plane soaring over the New York skyline. She wondered if there'd be some awkward tension. If she went to him, would there be a 'weirdness' between them?
Willa wondered if Nick had really expected her to come to him--to answer his letter with her presence. Or was he waiting for more words scribbled on recycled paper?
She thought again of their last shared moments together. She drifted away in peaceful sleep. Nick's face appeared in her mind's eye as she slipped into a comfortable sleep--full of thoughts of seeing him again. Full of thoughts of what they'd do when she finally saw him again. It was easy to feel connected in those sleepy moments...
Nick waited for a phone call. He waited for another letter. Time was passing along in an ever busy tide of activities. But the nights were long and lonely. And Nick couldn't help wondering if Willa had even received his short return note.
He spent countless hours beating himself up about his response. Should he have said more? Been more romantic? What had Willa wanted when she'd mailed him her own letter?
As time passed and Nick still didn't hear from her, he realized he was unlikely to. Maybe she'd written the letter on a whim. Or maybe it had been one of her cruel jokes. Willa had frequently made Nick the butt of her jokes in the past--it wasn't at all far-fetched to believe she'd done so again with this letter.
But at night when he'd be lying awake--unable to sleep--he'd think over her words. He knew them by heart now (from reading her note over and over again).
Nick would consider her words and feel Willa hadn't been teasing at all. No, he believed she'd been entirely sincere. At night--alone in the dark and quiet--he'd believe every word.
Still, Willa had a life to live--and her own commitments, after all. It wasn't as if he'd expected her to put everything on hold for him.
But, why hadn't she written back? Why hadn't she picked up the phone and called him? What was she waiting for? Days were passing, and Nick felt himself growing more and more dismayed.
It was all really his own fault. He'd tried to be 'mature' about their break-up. But seeing Willa had been hurtful. He'd continued to miss being a 'couple'--two lovers against the world.
Nick would hear her voice and wish himself a million miles away from her. Wish he could hide from the numerous public occasions which required them both to act as if nothing had gone on between them.
Nick was angry about the rumors from the very beginning. But he hadn't known what to do. Willa had never made things easier. She'd started to slap him--or pound angry fists into his chest in public. Far too many people had seen her strike him. Rumors were one thing--fact was another.
Nick had tried to reason with her when they weren't fighting. Tried to convince her to be stoic in public. But his Mandy (now Willa) had always had an edge. She'd always been just a little bad--even back then. And she'd get so angry she couldn't seem to control her emotions.
No, it hadn't physically hurt him. Most times he didn't even feel mad at her for hitting him. But it had been embarrassing sometimes.
And Nick couldn't bring himself to blame the fans for over-reacting. They were simply trying to be supportive of him. What should he have said to Mandy (Willa, she's Willa) to make her understand the depth of feeling his fans had for him and Backstreet? Here were these young girls--already jealous of his relationship--seeing what they perceived as 'abuse' added to the mix.
It was no surprise things had gone from bad to worse.
And often Nick had felt there was no pleasing Willa (yes, Willa, that's right). One minute she'd be happy and complacent--the next she'd be fuming and demanding. He knew he should have tried harder, but the problems weren't all on his side. They'd both been young and selfish and stupid. And their environment certainly hadn't helped the situation.
Maybe it was time to learn how to really say 'goodbye' to Willa, once and for all. Nick realized he'd never really done that before. He'd been unwilling to accept the end of their relationship. He'd even tried to avoid discussing it when it was brought up (inevitably) by interviewers.
Sometimes at night Nick would lie quietly and pretend Willa was still his girl. She was in the bathroom, making herself pretty for him. Or she was on the road, but would soon call and whisper sexy thoughts over the phone.
Those daydreams were good. They were strong. They'd made it easier to cope with his loss. Losing Willa was a bad thing. It was a hurtful, horrible thing. But he was 21 now. A grown man. It was time to suck it up and deal with the loss. To quit pretending to be over her and learn how to actually accomplish the act of moving on.
We loved each other once, Nick thought. We both felt it, and it was real. But when it turned sour, it suddenly seemed like our feelings were never that sincere. Why does love end? Tears were rolling down Nick's cheeks as he tried to understand the reasons.
Couldn't love really be forever, like in the fairy tales? Or was that hogwash? Look at Brian and Leighanne, though. Their love is so deep and so true. Why can't I love like that? What's wrong with me?
What was wrong with him? Why had Willa stopped loving him? He remembered the end. They'd both made promises as they'd sobbed and held each other. The end had been the last time Nick had felt certain they'd both felt the same things.
Afterwards (even on those occasions when they'd come together for sex) Nick had wondered--did she ever love me? Was our love ever real to her--like it was to me? Those thoughts had made him crazy. Nick realized he'd become angry at Willa out of self-defense. The only way he could deal with the loss and the pain was to start hating her. Or at least to pretend to hate her.
Nick had regrets. Lots of regrets. Times when he wished he'd said or done something differently. Times when he wished he'd gone to her and ignored some other option (work, play, friends, family). The might-have-beens loomed large now. They often seemed bigger and more important than the good moments he and Willa had shared.
As time passed, Nick would feel a constant nagging discomfort he couldn't quite place. Then he'd sit for a moment and rub his chest, realizing his hurt was Willa. It stayed with him like a sliver driven under the skin. It hadn't festered--but it was sensitive to the slightest touch.
Nick hated to look at trade magazines, afraid he might see her picture. He'd turn the radio off in his car--just in case. He wasn't ready to listen to lyrics she'd purposely written to hurt him.
Time was passing and he was almost ready to let it go. Was it finally over? Did she regret her message to him? Did she even think of him at all? Probably not.
That was the hardest thought of all. She probably had way too much going on in her life these days to give much thought to Nick Carter. Nick had ended up on her list of negatives, after all. Why should she think about him? Why let that pain back into her life? Especially these days, when she was finding the success she'd been striving for.
Talk to somebody about it, a voice in Nick's head would prompt him. But he couldn't do that. The guys all thought he was 'over' Willa. They'd never understand. And he couldn't take something like this to his parents. They'd never been supportive of any relationships he'd had with the opposite gender.
Quit thinking about it, he told himself. Let it go. Try to be pleasant when you see her. Try to be nice to other girls. Move on.
It was time to grow up. He'd be 22 in January. He wasn't a boy anymore. But being a man was hard.
I wish we'd ended it better, he thought. What's that line? Relationships always end bad. If they didn't end bad, they'd never end. Where had he heard that?
I guess no matter what, I'll always love you, Willa. You'll always be a part of me--no matter who I end up with in the future. I guess that's what counts, after all.
Nick let himself cry it out one last time. He sobbed until his pillow was soaking. He remembered their game--how a pillow was always a replacement when they couldn't hold one another.
Nick rocked his pillow and sang to it in a breaking voice. Then he kissed it and set it aside. He got up and moved into the other room, shutting the door softly--but firmly--behind him.
Sometimes people didn't come back--no matter how much you wanted them to.
-the end--back to top of page-