Here's the next chapter. Enjoy :-)
“Have I told you how beautiful you are yet today?” Nick asked Ava while sliding his arms around her waist and pulling her to him.
“Only about a dozen times” she told him while smiling into his eyes. He kissed her forehead softly and hugged her tightly and she rested her head against his shoulder.
“Well it’s the truth. You are so incredibly beautiful it’s not even funny.” She slid her arms around his waist and buried her face in his neck and he rubbed his hand over her back. AJ turned on some music and went into the kitchen and he got out a coke and handed it to Tierja knowing it’s her favorite. After getting a coke for himself as well, he glanced over at Jade who was staring at Nick and Ava while playing with her dolls. Curious as to why his niece is smiling so big he looked over at them too and found Nick with his arms wrapped around Ava, Ava’s head rested against his shoulder and he is swaying with her as he sang the words to the song softly in her ear. AJ now understands exactly why Jade is happy. She wants Nick and Ava to fall in love. But AJ has known that fact for a very long time. He’s her uncle after all; he’s always been able to tell exactly what she is thinking. AJ smiled to himself as he can’t help but hope Nick and Ava will be together someday soon too.
“Let’s go out onto the beach” Nick spoke softly and he led Ava out the back door and down the path of the hill they live on that leads straight to the beach down below that the boys happen to own.
“Is it just me, or has he been much more lovey dovey toward her today than he usually is?” Tierja asked once they were gone.
“Nick is going to tell Ava how he feels tonight” Brian announced proudly.
“Really?” AJ questioned and he couldn’t hide the excitement in his voice. Brian nodded.
“That is what he was so upset about earlier. He can’t keep his feelings for Ava to himself any longer and he wants you know who to be his daughter” Brian explained in a quiet whisper so Jade wouldn’t over hear.
“Bout damn time” was AJ’s only response and Brian chuckled. “What? It is” AJ replied with a grin. “I’ve hoped and wished they would end up together for ten years now. He was one of the many reasons why I brought her with us on our first tour. He is so close to her age, her type, and I wanted to introduce them. You know he’s really made a huge difference in her life and has no idea what so ever. The moment they were introduced they hit it off really well. I’ve watched her over the years since then and I’ve never seen her anymore happier then she is when she is with him. He was the first friend she’s ever had in her entire life.”
“Are you serious? She really had no other friends?”
“Not until Nick came along. She was a very shy and quiet girl and was the type who sat in her own corner all the time because she got picked on. She hardly ever talked to anyone and she would come home crying to me every day. She was lonely and she wanted a friend who actually cared about her, not one who would use her to get to me. So she wouldn’t have to sit home alone by herself with nothing to do I took her everywhere I went. I would introduce her to other kids her age and all she would do is cling to me and beg me not to leave her alone with them. I hated it. I hated that no one liked her because she was such a cool and fun person all they had to do was get to know her. But they never gave her a chance…it was awful. She was so miserable in school so I talked mom into just taking her out of it. I talked her into letting me take her on tour with me and she could be home schooled on the road. So I took her with me and my plan of her meeting Nick worked like a charm. Just as I hoped the moment we walked on the bus I couldn’t help but notice him checking her out. I knew right then and there that her life would be better and it was. He changed her life without even knowing it – I know she’s never told him about her past.”
“Wow…I’ve never known her to be shy” Brian informed.
“Me neither” Tierja added.
“That part of her life she likes to keep to herself because it hurt her too much. She doesn’t like to think about it. Her story gets a lot darker than what I’ve told you but I promised her I would never tell anyone. There is a big part of Ava that none of you have ever seen and if it were to come back…it would be very bad.”
“She is just so outgoing now…she would walk through this house in a bra and underwear and wouldn’t care who saw her.”
“Well, she feels comfortable around you guys and girls. She knows you all love her very much. You took the time to get to know her and welcomed her into your hearts like a real friend. Her self-esteem has gone up so much that she knows she can say or do anything around you guys without being ridiculed. When she is around people she doesn’t know her shy side tends to come back and haunt her. I still sometimes find her clinging to me and begging me not to leave her side. Mostly at BSB events like interviews, meet n’ greets, or the press meetings she’s appeared in with me. Places where there are a lot of people she doesn’t know.”
“Oh…” suddenly the front door opened and Kevin and Howie walked in with a bunch of bags in their hands.
“What’s up family? We’re home!” Howie announced with a big grin upon his face.
“HOWIE!” Jade exclaimed and she dropped everything before jumping up and running over to him. Howie smirked, got down to her level, and he held his arms open wide for her as she went crashing into him.
“Hi Baby J! Oh my goodness I never get tired of your hugs!” Jade smiled even bigger and Howie pulled back just a bit to take a good long look at her, as this is the first time he’s seen her all day. He and Kevin were long gone before she was even awake.
“Wow look at you Miss Blondie! When did this happen huh?”
“Mommy let me gets it done today. Do you likes it?” she asked anxiously, as if his opinion matters to her more than anything else.
“Of course I do sweetheart you look very beautiful” Howie informed her sincerely and Jade beamed and even blushed crimson red too.
“Tierja did it.”
“Well of course she did. Who else would you go to if you wanted your hair done?” Howie asked and he kissed Jade on the cheek before getting up and going over to Tierja and pulling her into a warm hug next. Tierja returned it, she too blushing as Howie made it sound like she is the only hairstylist in the world worth going to.
“Where are Ava and Nick?” Kevin asked curiously as he was now holding Jade who had flown into his arms the moment Howie let go.
“They’re outside on the beach.”
“Nicky?” Ava asked, suddenly breaking the silence between the two of them while they sat together on the comfortable lounge chair. They’ve been outside ever since they got home. When the pizza arrived they went inside to get some, but came right back out. Instead of just getting a blanket for them to picnic on, Nick decided that he would drag the pool side lounge chair down by the ocean just far enough back that the waves can’t reach them and they used that.
“Hmm?” he responded and Ava remained silent, just thinking. “Ava?” he questioned, turning his gaze away from the ocean and onto her instead. She looks so adorable all bundled up in his red buccaneers’ hoodie and snuggled up into his side so she won’t be cold. He can’t understand how anyone would ever want to hurt someone so beautiful and special. All he wants to do is take her into his arms and love her forever. She stared back at him in return for a few moments, before crawling into his lap straddling him. He slid his arms around her waist and pulled her closer making sure she was extra warm before resting his forehead against hers, her brown eyes meeting his curious blues.
“Why did you want to come out here?”
“You and I always come out here to look up at the stars together, its tradition. Don’t you remember? We liked to find shooting stars and make wishes on them and hope they come true later.” Ava nodded quietly.
“Of course I remember, I will never forget” she told him, smiling fondly at the memories. The two of them used to sit on the beach for hours and if AJ would let them, sometimes even all night. Except it was always a different beach because they were always on tour. If they weren’t in a place with a beach, they would sneak up onto the roof of hotels and hope that they have a good view of the stars from there. But the very first beach that they ever sat on will always hold a very special place in her heart.
It was the night they promised to be there for each other no matter what. It was the best night of her life. Nick smiled too at the sight of her smiling. He finds that she can’t smile enough these days. He idly cascaded his fingers through her dark brown hair and admired her chocolate brown eyes that are much like AJ’s. Ava slid her arms around his neck and buried her face in his shoulder, causing him to hug her closer to him affectionately. She loves how warm he makes her feel when he holds her. Warm, safe, and taken care of…he is exactly what she needs to get past this David mess right now. Her best friend…
“Shooting Star,” he announced softly, and she looked up into the sky where he is pointing and just like there tradition is supposed to go, the two of them silently made a wish.
“What was your wish?” she questioned after a few moments of silence and she looked up at him with a big smile on her face, which only made Nick smile. “If I tell you it won’t come true!” he laughed and he playfully rolled them over so that she lay underneath him and she shrieked in surprise and giggled incessantly as he began to tickle her.
“Nicky sto-ooooop!” she pleaded between shrieks and giggles. After a few moments, he did and chuckled softly.
“Not funny!” she pouted and he just laughed even more as she tried to push him off of her and was unsuccessful. After making a great effort of calming down and becoming serious again, he enveloped her in his arms and rested his forehead against hers, gazing into her beautiful brown eyes that were thanks to him, filled with real happiness again for the first time since she came home. He delicately caressed her cheek with his finger, before bringing it down and tilting her chin up with it and he brought his lips down on hers kissing her softly.
Ava stiffened in his arms in surprise but kissed him back nonetheless, sliding her arms around his neck. Somewhere in the back of her mind, alarms were going off wanting to know what was going on, what is she doing? But at the moment she doesn’t care. She hasn’t felt such love and tenderness in a very long time and she can’t help but want more. When Nick felt her deepen the kiss, he slid his hands down to her legs and gently wrapped them around him and when she felt his wandering hands move up under the back of his bucs hoodie and her shirt lightly caressing her cut and bruised skin, the alarms in her head were getting louder and she abruptly pulled back ending the intense kiss.
She looked up at him in surprise and Nick stared down at her nervously, knowing right away by the look in her eyes that he has frightened her. This was not what his plan was. He really doesn’t know what came over him. “What just happened?” she asked when she managed to get her breathing back to normal.
“I’m so sorry Ava…I-I didn’t mean to…I don’t know what came over me. It was an involuntary action, I swear!”
“Why did it happen Nick? Why did you kiss me? That sure as hell wasn’t involuntary, that had feeling in it!”
“Because…” Nick replied softly and he cradled her face in his hands and gazed into her eyes with so much seriousness in his own. “I want to be more than friends Ava…I brought you out here tonight not only because it is tradition, but also because I wanted to tell you how I’ve truly felt about you since the very moment I laid eyes on you. I love you Ava and I always have.” He explained, and he watched as a single tear slipped from her watery eyes and rolled down her cheek.
“-No shhh let me talk okay?” he asked and when she made no other sign of protesting, he went on. “The first moment I laid eyes on you when you stepped on the tour bus with AJ at age eleven the first thing I thought was that you had to be an angel. When I turned and asked Brian if this were true he laughed at me and told me no – that you were AJ’s little sister and were coming on tour with us. Well when he told me this I was instantly excited. I wanted to get to know you…I had an instant crush on you Ava. And over the years that we’ve spent together and got to know each other…it became more than that. I fell in love with you somewhere along the way.” He explained softly and he wiped away her tears with his finger.
“But despite the fact that I was in love with you I was afraid to tell you. I was afraid you would laugh at me and call me a loser and never want to talk to me again. So I kept it to myself…and by doing that the only thing I got in result was pain and heartache. Especially when you started going out with David who has never treated you right from the start. You have no idea how hard it was for me to watch that Ava…no idea at all. Then Jade came along…and when you told me this it hurt me so much because I wanted to be the one to get you pregnant. Not that evil bastard you were dating. I wanted to be her daddy and when I held her in the hospital it was the most wonderful experience of my life. It was like I was holding my own little girl…it felt so right holding her Ava and it still does to this day – like she belongs to me instead – not him. But as much as I wanted it to be true, it wasn’t…and when no one else was around except for Brian I cried. I love her so much…and even though she is not my daughter I’ve always loved her. Even though you are not my girlfriend I’ve always loved you. I just wanted to tell you before it’s too late.” He told her and he looked up at the sky and then back at her.
“My wish Ava…for the past ten years has always been the same and it still has yet to come true. But that’s all up to you…” She looked up at him as endless tears rolled down her cheeks and it was a long time before she replied.
“Nick, I can’t…I just left David last night. I’ve been in so many bad relationships and have gotten my heart broken so many times in my life that I’ve just completely lost faith in men. I’m not sure if I will ever get it back – I’m not sure If I even want it back at this point in my life. I just feel like Jade and I are better off alone. I’m tired of getting hurt and I’m tired of David hurting Jade. I don’t think I could handle another one coming into our life and hurting her all over again…I need to just concentrate on being strong for her so that I can take care of her and keep her safe from David.”
“Ava I would never hurt you nor could I ever even think about hurting Jade! I love you both more then you could ever imagine. I’m not like that asshole and I can prove it! Whatever it takes to prove it to you I will. I will show you what love means if you will just give me a chance. Have I not made a good start earlier when we were kissing?”
“-I was gentle with you the entire time. And you were kissing me back so you can’t tell me that you didn’t like it.”
“Of course I liked it Nick…I haven’t felt such love and tenderness in a really long time and god I wanted more, needed more, but that’s just the thing. I don’t trust myself to want or need more from you. David started out that way too in the beginning. He was all sweet and romantic, told me that I was beautiful all the time, and he too made promises to never hurt me. He told me that he would do anything for me...but quite frankly I am tired of all of the promises Nick! I don’t know what’s true anymore because all I have heard are LIES.”
“-No Nick! Just let me be…please!” she pleaded and after managing to push him off of her, she got up and ran toward the house. When she got there she threw the door open and ran inside causing all four guys, Tierja, and Jade to look at her.
“Hi mommy!” Jade exclaimed cheerfully, completely oblivious to her mother’s tears and Ava forced a fake smile for her but everybody else who had seen the tears knows that something isn’t right and is concerned.
“Hi baby” she replied and she went over and kissed her daughter’s cheek. Suddenly Nick appeared in the doorway with the same amount of tears rolling down his face but there is also anger there.
“Ava come here” he begged and half demanded.
“Our conversation is over!”
“No it is not!” Nick protested like a stubborn child.
“I said leave me alone!” Ava shouted while breaking down into sobs and she turned and ran up the stairs leaving Jade along with everyone else staring after her confused – Jade scared more than anything else. She is not accustomed to Nick and Ava fighting.
“Why is mommy crying?” She asked Nick. But Nick didn’t answer he only ran up the stairs after his best friend. Jade started for the stairs too but AJ noticed and reached out and grabbed her into his arms.
“Jade stay down here...”
“But I want my mommy!”
“Wait a little while okay?”
“But I want her! I want to know what’s wrong!” Jade demanded as tears welled up in her eyes of blue and AJ could sense a tantrum coming on. He kissed her cheek and hugged her close to him.
“Your mommy and Nick are discussing something very important right now. It’s a very grownup conversation and it would just be best if you stayed down here with your Uncle J okay?” Jade’s lower lip trembled as she looked up at her favorite uncle.
“Come on now don’t cry…I’ll get you some ice cream how about that?” he offered and he carried her into the kitchen knowing that would be the best place for her to be. She won’t be able to overhear any of the shouting that he knows is about to come. It is an inevitable thing when you have his baby sister who is just as hot tempered as he is most of the time…and well…Nick who is just plain loud when he is angry.
When Nick got upstairs to Ava’s bedroom he discovered that the door is locked. Rolling his eyes he pulled his wallet out of his pocket and he opened it up and took out his blockbusters card before sticking it in the door between the doorknob and the lock causing the door to click and unlock. He opened the door then and went inside before shutting it behind him and he found Ava standing there crying.
“LISTEN TO ME!”
“NICK THIS IS MY ROOM GET OUT!” she shouted and she started for the bathroom door but Nick grabbed her gently by the arm and pulled her back and he lightly pressed her up against the wall next to the bedroom door where he was still standing.
“I CAN’T fucking believe that after ten years you don’t trust me! I’ve been here for you through EVERYTHING Ava! I’m the one you used to run to during all of your bad relationships! I stayed up all night with you and took care of you when you got your tonsils taken out! I slept in bed with you and held you in my arms when you were upset over a bad breakup! I was always the shoulder you cried on and I was here when you gave birth to Jade! Remember that? I was the one holding your hand telling you that everything would be all right! I was your best friend through it all and you look me in the eyes and tell me that you don’t trust me! That you won’t give me a chance because you are afraid I might hurt you the way David had! That I am going to walk out on Jade the way David had and it hurts me that after ten fucking years you don’t trust me! Well I just want you to know that I would NEVER EVER even THINK about hurting you and Jade because the two of you are my entire world Ava! But no matter how much I love you I don’t think I will EVER be able to forgive you for saying the things that you did! It’s going to take a lot! When you are done being a stubborn bitch let me know!” He shouted at her and with that he let her go and opened the door all the way before walking out and slamming it shut behind him.
He stormed downstairs and everyone looked at him to see a mixture of anger and pain in his eyes and he went straight for the back door, opened it up, went outside and he slammed that door too. AJ who had left Jade in the kitchen with Tierja so that he could come back out and listen to the shouting match let out a frustrated sigh as he knows his baby sister is upstairs falling apart right about now. He went upstairs to her room and he opened the door and went inside to find her sitting on the floor next to the door. She is leaning up against the wall that Nick had backed her up against and she was hugging her legs to her chest, her face was buried in her knees and she is sobbing. He went over and sat next to her before sliding his arms around her and pulling her into his warm embrace and she buried her face in his shoulder where she continued to cry. AJ sat there quietly rubbing her back just letting her get it all out. After a long while when she had calmed down to the point where her crying turned into sniffles he pulled back a little and cupped her cheek in his hand before gently tilting her head back so she is looking up at him.
“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked gently and she nodded quietly.
“What exactly happened out there?” he questioned and she began to explain. When she finished he tucked a strand of her hair back behind her ear and looked into her pained eyes.
“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do…walk away from him pretending I don’t love him. I love him so much Alex…he’s changed my life in so many ways and doesn’t even know it. He is my whole world too…my best friend and he makes everything okay. He’s so sweet to me…and the way he is with Jade is just amazing. But I don’t know what to do…I’m just so hurt and confused right now. I don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore and he just caught me completely off guard…”
“What is your heart telling you to do honey? All you have to do is look deep into your heart and you will know what to do. If you see Nick in there…well then go for it because your heart knows what it’s talking about. What matters is what is in here” AJ explained while taking her hand into his and placing it over her heart. “All that matters is whether or not you are happy and I know that right now you are not and it’s killing me Ava. You just came out of a really bad relationship…it’s only natural that you are going to need some time to do some soul searching. But if you want my opinion, I’m rooting for Nick and to be honest sweetie I’ve been rooting for him from the very start. Not just because he is my best friend but because he is what’s best for my little sister. I’ve been watching the two of you over the years and it was easy to see that he’s loved you from the very start and he makes you happy. I’ve never seen you as happy as you are when he is around. He makes Jade happy too honey. Haven’t you noticed that ever since she was born she’s felt more comfortable around him then she has with David? It’s just more natural. Earlier today in the living room when Nick had you wrapped in his arms and you were slowly swaying to the music and he was singing in your ear I looked over at Jade and she was watching you with a big smile on her face. Being her uncle and all…I know she secretly hopes that the two of you will end up together.”
“I have noticed…every day I notice how close she is with Nick but I’ve never known she wanted us to be together.”
“She told me so years ago…but she made me promise not to tell you so you can’t tell her that you know.” Ava rested her head against AJ’s shoulder and he sat there gently rubbing his hand over her back in silence for a few moments.
“Are you ready to go downstairs now?” He asked her gently.
“I guess so…” AJ stood up then and he took her hands into his before helping her up and he slid his arm around her waist as she rested her head back on his shoulder again and he brought her downstairs.
“Mommy!” Jade exclaimed gratefully when she saw her and Ava went over and gently took her from Tierja and hugged her close to her before kissing her forehead softly. “Mommy are you okay? Why were you and Nicky fighting and why are you crying?” she asked worriedly and she looked into her mother’s eyes with her own full of concern.
“I’m okay baby…Nicky and I are just going through some tough times right now, but it’s nothing you need to worry about okay?” Jade looked at her for a couple of moments and then nodded and Ava brought her over to the couch where AJ was sitting and she sat down next to him with Jade in her lap. Jade wrapped her arms around her and rested her head against her shoulder.
“Where is Brian?” Ava asked after a while when she suddenly noticed that he is missing.
“Outside trying to tame Nick again…”
“Oh…” She was quiet for a long time while everyone talked and then suddenly Nick and Brian walked in. Jade crawled out of Ava’s lap and ran to him and he caught her just as she flew into his arms and he stood up. She looked him in the eyes then and saw the pain in them no matter how hard he tried to hide it from her and it made her frown, but she kept quiet nonetheless and rested her head upon his shoulder. He placed a soft kiss on her forehead and carried her into the kitchen with him. Ava slid both arms around AJ and rested her head against his shoulder and he kissed the top of her head as he hugged her close to him. Nick grabbed two Dr. Peppers and then took Jade upstairs to his room shutting the door behind him a bit hard causing everyone to flinch.
“I hate it when he storms around the house throwing his temper tantrums and slamming doors. He is almost as bad as AJ and Ava’s tempers put together. What good are you Bri? We send you out there to calm him down and he comes back in here the exact same as before” Kevin complained.
“I tried!” Brian insisted as he held his hands up defensively. “When he is throwing his tantrums there’s no way you can get through to him unless he gets his way. He has been like this ever since he was a kid but at least now he’s a lot more mature. It was so bad in the past that no one could even look at him without getting bitched at. His tantrums are especially bad when he is frustrated over him and Ava not being more then friends.” Brian explained while looking over at Ava. A tear slipped down her cheek as she continued to sit there snuggling with AJ.
“Ava did you really tell him that you are afraid he might hurt you and Jade?” Tierja asked while looking over at her best friend in disbelief. Ava shrugged tearfully.
“I’m afraid of everyone and everything right now, Tier…I just got out of a really bad relationship, can you really blame me? I’m not ready to trust anyone else right now, not even my best friend. I just wish he would respect that. But I can’t even look at him right now because he really hurt me when he called me a stubborn bitch.”
“Well…he was wrong and he was right about what he called you” Brian replied and Ava looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “You are very stubborn…but you aren’t a bitch. And seeing as how he is your best friend he should be more understanding.”
“I’M stubborn? At least I’m not storming around this house throwing a temper tantrum like a baby! He is the one who needs to stop being such a jerk!”
“You are stubborn Ava and you always have been, especially when it comes to Nick. I know you’ve loved him for the past ten years just as much as he’s loved you. But you’ve never wanted to admit it because you are scared of losing your best friend. That something would go wrong and mess everything up. This entire time he’s felt the same way and you know it but you are too stubborn to do anything about it. No matter how much you want to. You may be hurt, you may be scared and trying to get over David and I understand that. I respect that and I love you and I am here for you but if you weren’t so damn stubborn you would notice that your best friend has been hurting over you for the past ten years. Hurting because he thinks his best friend doesn’t love him the way he loves her. For the past five years that you’ve been with David he has had to learn to cope with the fact that he can’t have you because you are taken. He has had to deal with the fact that he can’t be Jade’s father because she isn’t his, because she belongs to a man who does nothing but hurt her. When he knows that he could do a lot better. He knows that he could love you and Jade so much more than David ever could and I do too. I know he is ten times better than any of the ex-boyfriends you’ve ever had because he has always been here for you when you’ve needed him most. No matter how frustrated with you he was, he still loved you. No matter how much it was hurting him. I know some feelings that he’s been through that nobody else has ever seen. I hear him cry at night when he and I share hotel rooms. When he thinks I am asleep he cries and I know that it is over you. You may be hurting and going through a lot but look into the eyes of your best friend. I guarantee that you will realize you aren’t the only one.” Brian replied, trying to help his best friend out. It’s high time that somebody did. “You’ve never experienced always being second best to the woman you’ve been in love with all your life but Nick knows how it feels,” he added. Ava didn’t reply she only continued to sit with AJ in silence, completely drowning else out as they sat there talking to each other.