“If this is your way of punishing me, I’m going to tease you more often” Ava informed Nick softly as they lay in bed together coming down from the love they just shared. He had brought her in the bunkroom and had all of her clothes off in seconds and he wasn’t kidding when he told her she was in a world of trouble. He touched and teased her every bit as much as she had teased him earlier and more and wouldn’t give in until she was pleading with him and when he finally did, it was the best sex she’s ever gotten from him. She was currently lying on her back on top of him, the both of them wrapped in their blankets and she was comfortable. Nick chuckled softly and tilted her chin up and leaned down and brushed his lips lightly over hers.
“I’m okay with that,” he told her, tightening his arms around her. “I like it that you feel safe enough to tease me.” Ava looked up at him and he delicately caressed her cheek with his fingertips. “Just be prepared for me to retaliate, that’s all.” Ava gently grabbed his chin and pulled his mouth down to hers and kissed him while the back of her head was rested against his shoulder and he kissed her back lovingly. When he pulled away he rested his forehead against hers and she looked into his captivating blue eyes, silently thinking how much she worships him and she wants to do something nice for him. Something special at their hotel the moment she gets the chance.
“We should probably go check on baby J,” She informed him softly. “And I can smell those brownies all the way from in here; Kat probably has them out of the oven by now.”
“Should we go take a quick shower?”
“No, because then I will have to go through the whole process of blow drying and straightening my hair again. I already have to re-do my makeup,” Ava informed him and Nick rolled his eyes playfully.
“I don’t know why you bother; you look beautiful with or without all of that stuff.”
“Because I’m a woman, and that’s what we do” Ava told him before crawling off of him and out of bed. She gathered up her clothes and was about to rush to the bathroom, only to have Nick gently grab her hand while he still lay in bed. She looked at him curiously.
“I love you,” he told her, before reaching up and cupping her face in his hands and pulling her lips down on his and kissing her one last time. When she pulled away, she forced herself to breath and then continued to make her way to the bathroom, which was further back on the bus. Everyone is in the front of the bus, so she knows nobody is going to see her. Nick crawled out of bed himself and followed her in there, and while she got dressed and re-did her hair and makeup, he had a quick shower and got dressed himself before venturing toward the front of the bus again. When he walked out of the bunkroom, Jade spotted him amidst playing Mario Kart.
“DADDY!! Come watch me kick Brian’s butt in Mario Kart! I knocked his guy in the lava FIVE times!”
“That’s my girl” Nick told her, laughing at the pathetic look on Brian’s face. He’s never been able to beat him either.
“Laugh it up over there Carter; just wait until we hit the basketball court later. That’s one thing I can beat you at.” Nick rolled his eyes playfully and went into the kitchen where the brownies were sitting on the counter cooling.
“Are these ready to be eaten, Kat?”
“Yeah they should be, go ahead” Kathryn answered. Nick pulled down three plates and got Jade, Zara, and himself a brownie and brought them over to the group playing Mario Kart. They were in between games by now, so Jade looked up about to ask her daddy for one, only to see him hand a plate out toward her. She beamed up at him and took it.
“Thank you daddy”
“You’re welcome princess,” Nick answered while handing Zara hers as well and he leaned over and kissed her cheek earning himself a smile from her too, before sitting down and gathering his daughter in his lap and he watched as Brian and everybody else got up and went to help themselves to some brownies too.
“Where is Ava, Nick?” Kathryn asked, while carrying an extra plate in there with her and handing it to him for Ava when she comes out. She had noticed Demyan go back to check on her since she was back there all by herself.
“Doing all of that stuff that you silly women think you need to do when you don’t. She’s fixing her hair and makeup.”
“I see,” Kathryn responded in amusement. Meanwhile in the back bathroom, Ava noticed through the mirror as Demyan appeared, keeping a reasonable distance from the doorway so that she doesn’t feel threatened. She looked at him curiously and he gave her a gentle smile the best that he could. She has a feeling he doesn’t smile often and is doing it for her benefit.
“I just came back here to check on you. We all checked this bus as much as humanly possible before you got on it, but I still don’t like the idea of you alone.”
“Nick doesn’t either,” Ava told him while continuing to do her makeup though keeping an eye on him through the mirror. “But our relationship is very new and he knows I need my space from him sometimes. As much as he hates it, he gives it to me. He usually leaves Q outside my door though.”
“You two don’t act like it’s very new,” Demyan pointed out. “You two look like you’ve been in love with each other for years.”
“We’ve been best friends since I was eleven and he was thirteen so we have known each other practically our whole lives, but our relationship as a couple didn’t happen until I left David and came home. My trust level isn’t very high after what David put me through, so I’ve had to learn how to trust Nick all over again when he revealed his feelings for me and I am learning, but slowly.”
“I can understand that, but he is right for sending Q to stand outside your door. It’s a dangerous time for you to be completely alone right now. If you need space from him, just make sure you have one of us with you instead okay? Even if it has to be Q, I know you don’t know us very well yet.”
“That could change eventually,” Ava responded, giving him a small smile. “I had planned on a friendly interrogation for the three of you when I went back out there, but since you are already standing there you will do.”
“Interrogate away, I’ll answer mostly anything.” Ava noted the word mostly, but otherwise didn’t question him on it at this time. She has a feeling he’s a somewhat closed off person and has a fine art for becoming invisible when he needs to and is working very hard to be social for her benefit. Everything seems somewhat forced for him.
“I noticed you and Stefan both have strong Russian accents and Russian names,” She pointed out.
“Drake has Russian blood in him and is Stefan’s cousin,” Demyan answered. “We’ve worked a lot of rescue missions with him and have a high reputation as bodyguards, so he called us in on a favor.”
“How many rescue missions have you done?”
“More than I can count. All women and children who have been abused or kidnapped and used for sex trafficking.”
“Were they all successful missions?” Ava couldn’t help but ask in a soft voice. Before Demyan could even open his mouth to respond, another voice did instead.
“The majority of them were, but unfortunately not all of them” Stefan spoke up while entering the room and he walked over to Demyan and wrapped an arm around him. “As much as Demyan tries to be superman, he can’t be.” Ava looked at Demyan and couldn’t help but notice that he has a faraway look in his eyes as if she brought up a painful subject and was probably about to tell her the interrogation was over. He looks very grateful that Stefan came to the rescue. “We will be successful with you and Jade though, I promise” Stefan told her gently and he gave her a reassuring look. “We’re good at what we do and I understand Q and his team of security is too. You couldn’t be any safer.” Ava nodded quietly and proceeded to clean up her makeup and hair stuff since she was finished.
“Any more questions?” Stefan asked, giving her a friendly grin.
“Not at the moment,” Ava told him with a look in her eyes that clearly stated she will have some for him later though. “Right now I’m really craving a piece of those brownies, so I’m going to go get me one before they are all gone.”
“I think Nick already has a plate for you. Everybody was lined up so Kathryn didn’t want you to miss out and got you one” Demyan informed, and Ava couldn’t help but smile a little after her back was turned as she headed toward the front of the bus. Kathryn will be pleased that Demyan had noticed what she was doing. Though he is a security guard, so he notices everything, but still. He was watching her, that fact will still please her anyway.
The next morning Ava opened her eyes to find herself lying in Nick’s arms and smiled softly to herself as she snuggled into him. She loves waking up to him holding her, it doesn’t happen too often. She looked around to discover that instead of being on the tour bus where she had fallen asleep at, she was in their hotel room.
Nick obviously carried her into the hotel at six thirty in the morning when they arrived in Pittsburgh and crawled back into bed with her. A thought suddenly crossed her mind, and her eyes darted toward the bed across from them and found it empty. She froze immediately. Its normal for her daughter to be awake before everybody else, she’s always been an early riser, but she would’ve made some kind of noise to indicate that she is okay.
Ever since they left David and moved into the safety of her brother’s house, Jade has forgotten all about their well-practiced rule of being quiet in the morning so David doesn’t wake up before mommy can to protect her. Her playful shrieks and giggles are usually the first thing she hears when she wakes up now. She’s grown accustomed to the beautiful sound of her happy child.
After carefully digging herself out of the firm hold Nick has on her and managing not to wake him up in the process, she crawled out of bed and hurried toward the door to the front room, only to breathe a sigh of relief at what she found. AJ was sitting on the couch with his legs comfortably crossed over one another on the coffee table and his niece curled up in his arms and the two of them were quietly watching Winnie the Pooh together. Kevin of all people was standing in the kitchen preparing to make something, and the bedroom that connects hers and Nick’s hotel room with AJ’s was open and she could see Tierja in there getting ready for the day. After managing to get her breathing and her heart rate back to normal, Ava crossed the room to the back of the couch and leaned over and kissed her brother on the cheek.
“You have my child so unnaturally quiet this morning; it scared the crap out of me, J.”
“I’m sorry sweetheart, it wasn’t my intention. Blame the bear; she’s so absorbed in it this morning. And it’s not every day that I get to chill on the couch with my niece and watch cartoons.”
“I see,” Ava responded amusedly and she leaned forward and kissed Jade on the top of the head before starting to walk toward Kevin when AJ gently grabbed hold of her hand, causing her to look at her curiously.
“You aren’t allowed over there,” he informed her, knowing exactly where she was headed even when he wasn’t all the way looking.
“Why not?” Ava asked, raising her eyebrow as AJ gently pulled her around the couch and made her sit down where he could see her better.
“Daddy Kev’s orders,” AJ answered with a small secret smile. “He said not to let you under any circumstance.”
“How come he is cooking in mine and Nick’s kitchen when he has his own?” AJ shrugged his shoulders, again smiling at her secretly. Ava huffed, but otherwise let it go. She looked around the room and nearly jumped out of her skin when she noticed Demyan standing nearby keeping an eye on things. Where had he come from? Had he been there all along? AJ looked his way when he noticed her looking at him.
“Will you do me a favor and go close Nick and Ava’s bedroom door please? I want to talk to her without the risk of Nick waking up and over hearing us.”
“Sure,” Demyan answered, and then walked over and quietly closed the bedroom door. When AJ saw that it was, he looked at his curious sister.
“Mom and I were discussing things on the bus yesterday,” He began carefully, talking quietly so that Kevin won’t over hear in the kitchen. He knows Jade isn’t listening; she is pretty much zoned out right now.
“What about…?” Ava asked warily.
“We were talking about yours and Nick’s relationship and your life before he became a part of it.” He watched her as she sat all the way back on the couch and hugged her legs to her chest and suddenly became very vulnerable.
“Alex, you know perfectly well that I buried that life and would like for it to stay that way. Why would you even bring it up?”
“Because mom thinks Nick of all people has a right to know sweetheart…and as much as I like keeping the job of protecting you all to myself, I’m starting to agree with her.”
“There’s nothing to protect! I haven’t had those episodes in many years…since Nick entered my life. I’m fine.”
“Even so Ava…if god forbid that something ever happens to take you back there, Nick needs to know about it because you are in a relationship with him now and he’s going to be the one there to take care of you if it does. Not only that, but he’s your best friend and loves you and deserves to know that part of you.”
“He’s just going to think I’m a freak like everyone else back then thought and want to leave me” Ava insisted tearfully.
“Oh please…don’t make me laugh sis. Do you really not see how much that man loves you? Has always loved you? If you could’ve seen the way he was looking at you when we stepped on that tour bus together for the first time…” AJ insisted while reaching over and gently wiping her tears away and then taking her hands into his and rubbing the backs of them. “There is no way he is even capable of thinking awful things about you honey I promise” he told her gently. “And if you are going to be in a relationship with him, and plan on keeping your promise to be honest with him from now on, I think he needs to know everything about you.”
“I’m too scared to tell him Alex…” Ava insisted softly, and he brought her closer to him and pulled her into a hug.
“You won’t have to alone honey, I’m going to be right there with you. We’ll tell him together.”
“Kay,” Ava mumbled into his shoulder.
“Mommy, Uncle Alex, I can’t see” Jade complained somewhat, as she still sat in AJ’s lap and was being squashed as the two siblings hug. AJ and Ava both burst into laughter, Ava rubbing her watery eyes as she moved back.
“Sorry baby,” She told her, and she sat back beside her brother and rested her chin on his shoulder so that Jade could see again. AJ smiled softly and kissed her forehead before kissing his niece’s and he rested his feet back up on the coffee table and got comfortable with her again.
“We’ll tell him after Kevin’s surprise breakfast when everyone goes off and does their own thing and then mom said that she wants you to get ready, because she’s taking you and Jade shopping while the boys and I go and get ready for our first sound check with the fans.”
“Kay,” Ava responded softly, a small smile on her face upon hearing the last bit of what her brother said. She is looking forward to shopping with her mom. She hasn’t spent any special time with her since she’s been home and she really needs to. She sat watching Winnie The Pooh with AJ and Jade for a while until suddenly Nick came walking out of the bedroom. She looked back at him and her eyes lit up at the mere sight of him causing his heart to turn over in his chest and he smiled at her sleepily before walking up behind the couch and leaning over and kissing her lovingly.
“Are we in an alternate world here or something? You’re never up before me” He commented while leaning over the couch and enveloping her in his arms. She looked up at him and he rested his forehead against hers.
“I would have lingered in bed and cuddled with you, but J-Baby was being unnaturally quiet and gave me a scare. Turns out Winnie the Pooh is highly entertaining this morning.”
“Breakfast is ready,” Kevin announced just as Nick had leaned in and kissed Ava once more. When he pulled away he looked at AJ with a raised eyebrow and AJ gave him a look that he knew he would understand. Ava watched understanding form on his beautiful features. Nick turned his attention back on her and gently gathered her up so he was cradling her against his chest while AJ stood up with his niece in his arms and went to go get everybody else, who knows full well that breakfast is in this room this morning. Nick carried Ava into the kitchen, put her in a chair at the table, and as soon as he did, everyone else was piling into the room and making their own plate and Kevin put a plate of French toast, bacon, and sausage in front of her, as well as a glass of chocolate milk. Ava gazed down at the plate in surprise for a long moment, her eyes eventually filling up with tears. Kevin has been making French toast for Ava since she was eleven years old. It’s something special he has always done for her on the road, no one else. Usually when she’s on the bus with him she’ll wake up and find a plate sitting on the table already waiting for her. He always knew the exact time she would be awake too. She willed the tears in her eyes not to fall and when she managed to win the battle, she looked up at him and he gave her a small loving smile before enveloping her in his arms and kissing her cheek.
“Everybody else has made you breakfast, I wanted to be the one to do it this morning. It’s my way of saying I’m happy you are home…I missed making French toast for you last tour.”
“Thank you Kevin, I love you” She told him softly as she snuggled into his hug, resting the back of her head against his shoulder.
“I love you too,” He told her and he hugged her a little bit longer before pulling away from her and proceeding to fix his own plate now and while her family surrounded her to eat their own breakfast, she quietly dug into hers, feeling overwhelmed with the love only ‘Daddy Kev’ knows how to make her feel.