SEARCH THE SITE
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Title: "Let Me Be Worthy"--Part One (1/WIP)
"Mmmm... kiss me again..."
Nick Carter paused before pushing open the cracked door that led from the suite-proper into the adjoining bedroom. He could hear voices murmuring, and an occasional soft word would stand out. Two people were quite obviously engaged in necking--but it might easily become something more--if it hadn't already.
Nick wanted his 'comfy' T-shirt. He knew the shirt was either lying on a bed or still inside his bag on the floor--inside the now 'off-limits' room.
'Couldn't they pick somewhere else for their love-making?' he thought with annoyance.
"Baby, baby," he heard Kevin Richardson's voice drawl, pitched even deeper than normal in his passion.
But that was odd. Hadn't the first voice he'd heard been Brian Littrell's?
Nick stood--hand extended toward the door--debating whether to open it just a tad wider. Wide enough to peer inside.
If it was Kevin (and he was certain that it was)--and he was with his wife, Kristin--Nick would feel like both an intruder and a fool.
But if Brian was there, too? What of that?
Could both Kevin and Brian be inside the room with their two wives? Would the four of them be 'getting down'--side by side? It seemed too farfetched to even give serious consideration.
"Oh. Oh, God, Kevin."
There was no mistaking that voice. Brian was his best friend. He'd know Brian's voice anywhere. And Brian obviously wasn't speaking to his wife, Leighanne. Brian was speaking to Kevin.
"Your tongue..." Nick heard Brian say clearly. Then Brian's voice trailed back to unintelligible murmurs again, with Kevin's deeper murmurs blending under. Harmony--even while they made this kind of music. Nick felt his arm trembling from letting it hang in mid-air. He suddenly realized he was holding his breath as he strained to hear his two friends.
Nick could now hear the sound of the bed shifting under his friends' bodies. He knew they must be lying across it while they did whatever they were doing. All he had to do was lean in and slide the door open the tiniest bit. Then he'd be able to see it for himself.
But instead he stepped back softly. He kept backing away until he reached the far side of the room--and bumped against the sofa. Nick started, but there had only been the smallest sound. Not enough to carry to the bedroom. Not enough to give himself away.
Emotions rose inside him--and Nick struggled to understand what he was feeling. Finally, he sat down on the sofa, his breath coming fast and his heart pounding in his chest.
Brian and Kevin. Brian. His friend. His very best friend. When had it started? How long had it been going on? Why did it hurt so much?
Nick stretched his body out carefully on the long couch and turned his face inward toward the sofa back. He pressed his body both down and forward into the cushions, wishing he could burrow deep inside and be swallowed up.
The sounds were faint now--and could have simply been two people engaged in conversation. 'They're talking,' Nick thought, wrapping his arm up over his head. 'Just talking.'
It was no good. Nick knew they were doing much more than that.
Why did it matter to him? They were all part of the music industry. Nick had seen both men and women come together with members of their own gender for as long as he could remember. It had never seemed like a big deal before--and in spite of cracks he heard from time to time, he knew it wasn't about being gay.
That wasn't what was bothering him. Bi-sexual behavior was something of a norm for him--for all of them. It wasn't something they sat around and discussed, but neither did they turn scornful looks on those people that they watched draw close to one another.
What had made Nick's life change had been something altogether different. For after years of closeness with Kristin, suddenly Kevin had decided to marry her. Kristin has always been there, and that had been a norm, too. But marriage?
And shortly after that, Brian, too, wanted to marry.
It had made a certain amount of sense to Nick that someone as old as Kevin would be ready to marry. Kevin probably wanted to start having 'babies.' It wasn't as if he hadn't discussed his plans with his friends many times about having a family.
But Nick had been stunned when Brian announced his 'good news' to the group.
And it hurt that Brian hadn't come first to Nick to tell him--though Nick imagined that Brian had gone to his cousin with the news before approaching the entire group.
So as hard as he tried, Nick could never forget the strong feeling of betrayal he'd felt when Brian had told them he would soon marry.
Nick found that he often relived that ghastly moment in time--as he tried to remember exactly what had happened and in what order things had come down.
Nick remained convinced that his talent for performing had saved the day for him--letting him give a good pretense of joy as he initially joined the other guys in congratulating his friend.
But Nick could still recall the terrible sinking feeling--that feeling that the world was coming to an end. He had reached out and embraced Brian briefly--managing to say those few important words he knew had to be said before he could finally pull away.
Nick had then been forced to sit down quickly after that as he felt the room tilt around him. He'd been afraid for a brief moment that he might actually faint.
Then he'd felt the salty 'warning' taste in his mouth that had always signaled precipitate nausea--and he'd had to swallow repeatedly to fight off the fierce urge to vomit.
Fortunately, he must have paled. Howie Dorough had sat down beside him and put a comforting arm around him. "You okay, Nick? You don't look too well."
Nick had swallowed again before answering Howie in a quiet voice--anxious not to draw the attention of the entire group. "Mm. My stomach hurts. I think I feel a little sick."
Howie had nodded and peered into his face. "Yeah... You ate that damned cheese that was sitting out when we got back here last night--idn't you? I told Kevin I thought it might have gone over."
Nick let his head droop for a moment before glancing back into Howie's face and nodding. "But I don't want to spoil Brian's moment, Howie." The taste of salt and feel of liquid was so strong inside Nick's mouth he wanted to leap up and dash to the bathroom. He could barely restrain himself as he glanced over at A.J. McLean giving Brian a huge hug. God, don't let me heave right here, he prayed.
"I'll take care of it," Howie had said, patting his arm and rising.
Nick's head had been pounding--he didn't remember exactly what Howie had said. But the rest of the guys had headed out directly after Howie had spoken to them. Then Howie had helped him stand and walked him carefully to the bathroom.
Nick remembered crumpling to the floor near the toilet, his legs shaking.
"It's okay. I can get you something to take. Do you want me to stay with you?" Howie's voice was kind and full of concern. But Nick knew the other guys were headed to brunch. A brunch which would now be celebratory. He shook his head.
"No. You go with the guys. I'll be okay. It's not that bad."
Howie had run water and moved to put a cool washcloth on the back of Nick's neck. It had felt so good that Nick remembered sighing loudly with relief.
"Do you want some water?" Howie had questioned. Nick nodded, feeling hot tears filling his eyes and threatening to spill over.
Brian was getting married. His stomach had lurched again at that thought--he'd reached out quickly and grabbed Howie's legs, suddenly needing someone to hold on to.
Howie had squatted beside him letting him hold tightly. Then Howie had pulled Nick's head up close against him.
"I should have kept you from eating that stuff. I knew it was bad." Howie had said, gently stroking Nick's sweat-dampened hair. Nick had burrowed his face into Howie's strong legs and felt briefly comforted.
"I'm okay," he'd finally answered, sitting back and letting his arms hang at his sides. Nick had closed his eyes at that point--feeling slightly better. The nausea was passing and the tears had receded.
Howie had let go of Nick's head as Nick fell back and out of his embrace. But he continued to squat quietly at Nick's side.
And then Kevin's deep voice had spoken. "Is he okay?"
The question had been softly directed to Howie--but as always seemed the case with Kevin his presence was anything but unobtrusive. Nick refused to open his eyes. He wasn't going to look at them. Why couldn't Kevin go away?
Nick had felt a glass being pressed into his hand and he'd lifted it to his mouth and drank with his eyes still shut. He hadn't known which man had given it to him--and he hadn't cared.
Nick had felt water trickling down his chin--but that hadn't mattered either. At least drinking had seemed to both calm him and further eliminate his nausea.
Then Nick had felt Kevin squat beside him. He'd kept his eyes closed and let his head sag slightly to one side.
When Kevin's arms had encircled him Nick had been shocked as he'd burst into unexpected and violent sobs.
"Go on, Howie. I'll take care of him," Kevin had directed, holding Nick tightly.
"Okay... What should I tell Brian?"
"Tell him I'll be there in a minute. He knows I'm checking on Nick."
Nick had heard Howie rise and leave--he'd heard the sound of a distant door closing. Nick had tried to stop the sobs. He recalled clearly that he hadn't wanted to let the tears flow--even though it had felt so good to have Kevin comforting him.
Time had passed in the weird, slow-mo way it often did during difficult moments. Nick had finally managed to swallow his sobs--glad that only a few tears had slipped past his tightly shut eyes.
He remembered that at that point he'd been thinking that it was going to be okay, after all.
And then Kevin had spoken.
"You knew he'd get married after I did--didn't you, Nick?"
A simple sentence, kindly spoken. That was all. But Nick had felt a deep stab of anger at those words. He'd experienced a horrible and strong flash of hatred directed at Kevin.
And mostly he had hated his friend for somehow knowing his secret.
Nick had opened his eyes--feeling his cheeks flaming--as he'd given Kevin a shove and extricated himself from Kevin's embrace.
"Leave me alone." His voice had been clear and controlled and dead.
Oddly, there had been no trace of the hot emotion he'd been feeling.
And Kevin had left him alone.
And later on no one had ever mentioned the incident to Nick again. Not Kevin and not Howie. And certainly not Brian.
Soon after Kevin had gone that day, Nick had climbed to his feet changed his shirt and washed his face. Then he'd gone and joined his friends--he had laughed and joked and said exactly all the right things.
And when Kevin had glanced across the table of the restaurant and tried to catch his eye, Nick had turned away from him.
Nick's determination had been rewarded that day. Brian had even teased him about a future day when he would be the one getting married. And Kevin had stopped trying to catch his eye. Kevin had quit trying to look inside him.
Nick snuggled harder into his sofa cocoon, wishing Kevin dead.
Nick had never again let Kevin be close to him since the day of Brian's announcement. He entirely avoided being alone with Kevin at all times. Kevin knew he was being avoided and he had made it easy on Nick. He, too, had avoided them being alone, Nick knew.
But for some reason Nick had no difficulty being around Brian. Brian would bubble with excitement as he shared his wedding plans, and Nick would grin and offer suggestions and gush over every detail. Just as expected. Nick had always at least tried to do what people expected of him.
There had even been those times when he and Brian would end up asleep together in the same bed. It was nothing new. They'd have been talking until late and just climbed under the covers when they were tired.
But Brian had the habit of wrapping himself around people while he slept, and he had done exactly that--just like always.
So Nick had been forced to lie stiffly, wishing he could pull away--while fighting the stronger wish to snuggle closer to his sleeping friend.
He'd known that very soon Brian would not lie down beside him--even when they were on tour and far away from Brian's bride-to-be. Because Brian would soon be married--and that would change Brian forever.
Brian's wedding day had been the worst day of Nick's life. But he'd been secretly proud about his consummate performance as best friend and loyal supporter of the groom.
Nick had played his part perfectly. He was sure that even Kevin had been without cause to question his role that day. Still, he'd been wary of Kevin--afraid Kevin might try to push him in some inexplicable way.
But as awful as that day had been--the night after it had been much worse. Nick had climbed alone into bed after a late night of partying--pulling his large body into a tight and tiny ball.
He hadn't cried. He'd felt wounded beyond tears. It seemed as if his dreams were crushed--all his hopes dashed. He knew these were cliches--but he'd never felt so despondent.
He'd finally slept. Morning had come and gone and the sun was peaking in the sky when Nick had risen the day after.
Nick remembered feeling a momentary shock when he'd realized that nothing had really changed--even though it felt as if everything had changed.
And so life went on. Nick knew he was different now. He guessed he had finally 'grown up'--the way his mother had demanded he should time and again.
Nick had been 'a man'--and let it all go. Not that he'd really had a choice. Still, it had felt good to be 'big' about Brian's marriage.
But things had changed between Nick and Kevin. Nick no longer felt he could trust Kevin as he had in the past--though he'd managed to stay good friends with all the guys, Kevin and Brian included.
And if his friends had noticed a difference in him, they had probably chalked it up to his upcoming 21st birthday. They probably thought he was ready to really grow up at last.
Nick shivered against the sofa, wishing the piece of furniture could wrap itself around him. He felt the fabric scratching his face and pushed down closer and even harder.
Nick finally felt his trembling subside. He sighed deeply and relaxed. Maybe he could fall asleep now. At this moment, he wished he could fall asleep forever.
The sound of voices either dimmed or stopped--Nick was uncertain as to which. Time slipped by and soon he dozed, fitfully. He vaguely heard footsteps and some sound, but made a conscious decision to ignore it and lie half-asleep.
Nick was startled awake--but managed to remain still--as a gentle hand touched his arm.
Nick could feel someone bending over him--but he was determined to appear to be sleeping. He willed whoever it was to go away--to leave him alone.
"Look at him sleep, Kev," Nick heard his friend Brian saying softly from close to the exposed side of his face. "He's such an angel."
Then he felt Brian shift abruptly away and could almost see Kevin taking Brian into his arms.
Kevin was embracing Brian right there next to him. It was unforgivable. It was hurtful. It was his world--he was stuck inside it.
Nick thought a moment about wishing them both dead--but managed to reject the dark image. Instead, he wished himself dead. This seemed better.
Nick wished he could be dead--hovering above the two men and watching them hug. Watching Brian love Kevin--and Kevin love Brian. Perhaps then--dead--he wouldn't care that Brian didn't feel this same love for him.
Nick could actually hear the sound of their kisses. He could hear their arms moving against one another. He felt himself breaking into a cold sweat.
Nick pictured Kevin's handsome face pressed into Brian's--could see Brian's bright eyes and the smooth planes of Brian's chiseled face. Then he sensed that they had broken apart. He waited, willing himself not to tense.
"I was going to wake him," Brian said, finally. "I wanted to tell him."
"Let him sleep. It'll keep. He might not want to hear it, Brian."
"No," Brian's voice was quietly vehement, "You're wrong, Kevin. Nick always wants to know everything about me. I've shared all the important stuff with him."
Nick hated himself when he heard Brian say these sincerely spoken words.
Suddenly he wished Brian was right about him. That he'd never had a selfish moment where Brian was concerned. That he had always been glad for Brian's happiness and good fortune.
Now Nick wanted to cry for every time he had wished Leighanne could disappear. And that he had been so jealous of Kevin this very day.
"I wish we all were as good-hearted as you, Brian," Kevin answered. "But you might be disappointed if you tell him. I think you'd better wait for a bit. It's a long tour."
Brian was over him again--Nick could smell the masculine scent of musk and soap on Brian's body.
Brian's hand stroked Nick's hair and moved tenderly down the side of Nick's cheek.
"I'll always love him, Kevin. He knows me better in some ways than anyone. Even Leighanne. Even you."
Kevin was close now, too--and Nick hoped Kevin wouldn't somehow notice that he was awake.
"I'm sure you're right. And he loves you, too, Brian. Loves you very much."
Then Nick knew they were embracing again--and he could again hear them kissing.
He forced himself to wish them joy. Joy together. What else could he do?
"I need to make a call," Kevin was saying, his voice retreating.
Nick almost jumped as he felt his body being carefully covered. "Yeah, me, too," Brian answered quietly. "You sleep, sweet Nicky," he heard Brian's whispered drawl close to his ear as Brian tucked whatever he'd used as a blanket tight around him.
Then Nick felt Brian withdraw and he knew he was alone.
And he deserved to be alone--as wicked as he'd been about Brian these past several months.
In fact, Nick knew he deserved to suffer. 'As ye sow so shall ye reap.' Wasn't that from the Bible? Brian would know.
Nick's chest ached and tears were burning his eyes--but he was not going to let himself indulge his desire to cry. He now felt he didn't deserve the relief a good cry might give him.
For Nick now realized with certainty that he was a truly unworthy friend.
And maybe he didn't deserve to have the kind of love Brian had with Leighanne. The kind of love Brian obviously had with Kevin, too.
In fact, Nick wondered if he would ever be deserving. This was a stunningly horrible thought, and it made Nick shudder.
Nick knew it was time for him to change. Time to try and be worthy of a true love in his own life. He was going to force back his jealousy over Brian and those Brian loved--and fight off his envy. Envy that Leighanne had Brian and Kevin had Brian and Brian had them both--and he had no one.
And he was going to give Brian and Kevin his unconditional support from now on. It would be hard--but he knew it was right.
It wasn't as if Brian had ever deliberately wanted to hurt him. It wasn't even as if Kevin had wanted to hurt him. And Leighanne had no idea that he had wished her out of existence. She wasn't trying to take Brian away from him.
Besides, he had never had Brian in the first place. You can't steal something unless it belongs to someone...
Brian belonged to his wife. He belonged to Kevin. But Brian didn't belong to Nick.
And that wasn't the fault of anyone. It was just a fact. If Nick couldn't accept this, then he was the one who was trying to take what wasn't his.
Nick let these thoughts spin in his head as the room grew darker.
What seemed strange to Nick was the realization that his life wasn't over--that people didn't just 'die' of a broken heart.
So now Nick felt a new pain--fresh and very different than he'd felt before. Nick guessed this new pain would take getting used to all over again. Nick wished he had someone he could talk all of this over with--someone who could advise him on how to be the person he wanted to be. How to be good and loving--and worthy.
Finally he fell asleep, exhausted by emotion and deep thoughts. He slept--curled up and all alone in the big room.
-the end part one--back to top of page-