Here's the next chapter. Enjoy :-)
Ava sat with AJ until one in the morning and then she got up and went upstairs to Nick’s room. When she got there she walked in and found him going through a box of pictures that are all of the two of them growing up together. Ava and Nick never went anywhere without a camera within reach and the two of them took lots of pictures together. There are also a lot of them that other people such as her brother, their friends, or their moms have taken too. The moment she walked in and he realized that it’s her he grabbed a pillow and placed it over a project that he is working on and doesn’t want her to see and Jade is sitting beside him going through pictures.
“HI mommy! Come look at pictures with Nicky and me! Look at this picture mommy it’s of you and Nicky sitting on a balcony at a hotel and you are looking at a pretty sunset together! He says that you were thirteen and he was fifteen in this picture!” Jade held the picture out to her and Ava took hold of it and looked down at it as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“We were in California at the time. Three years before I met your father.”
“Mommy sit with us and look at pictures” Jade persisted and Ava shook her head.
“Come get your pajamas on honey it’s getting late.”
“Do I have to go to bed?” Jade pouted.
“Not right away but soon. You can stay up for a half an hour more but that is it. We might be seeing Zara and Raven in the morning so you need your sleep.” Jade went from pouting to excited in just a second upon hearing this news and she smiled up at Ava.
“Come on,” Ava told her while holding her arms out. Jade stood up on the bed and walked over to Ava who gathered her into her arms and carried her out of the room with the picture still in her hand. It’s always been her favorite and Nick knows it. He also noticed the pain and the tears in her eyes and he sighed. He hates it that she is hurting and if he weren’t so mad at her at the moment, he would take her into his arms and make everything better. He wants to…and all she has to do is tell him he can and he will. Ava carried Jade into her room and helped her into her pajamas.
“Can I go back into Nicky’s room mommy?” She asked after grabbing her favorite blanket.
“Yes but can I ask you a question really quick?” Ava whispered quietly knowing full well that Nick is down the hall and will hear her if she isn’t careful. They live in a house with wood floors so voices tend to carry. Jade nodded her head and looked up at Ava curiously.
“What is he doing with those pictures?”
“It’s a secret mommy” Jade told her while shaking her head and she grabbed up her doll and ran down the hall to Nick’s room. Ava followed her and she leaned up against the doorframe as she watched her crawl up onto Nick’s bed and he cleared a space for her and motioned her to sit beside him and she did just that.
“Can I sleep with Nicky?” Ava looked at her for a couple of moments and then silently nodded her approval.
“You don’t mind if she stays in here with you for the night Nick do you?” she asked softly and Nick didn’t answer, he only continued to sit there looking through pictures as if he hadn’t even heard her. She stared at him for a few moments and then turned and left the room and he watched her as she went noticing that she is crying. When she got downstairs she went straight over and sat next to AJ and she slid her arms around him and rested her head against his shoulder. AJ wrapped his arms around her in return and kissed the top of her head softly.
“Are you okay?” He asked softly.
“My best friend is giving me the silent treatment. I am far from okay Alex.”
“Just give him some time to cool down honey, he’ll come around” Howie told her gently.
“How can you be so sure? What if he never forgives me? He went and poured his heart out to me and I blew him off because I’m not sure I’m ready to give him what he wants. I don’t blame him…”
“Nick has never been able to stay mad at you for longer than a day Ava…he’ll be talking to you by tomorrow morning if he even lasts that long. He loves you” Brian insisted.
“I miss him so much…”
“Nicky” Jade asked while looking up at the blonde man she admires so much.
“Do you love my mommy?” Nick peered down at the little one by his side for a couple of moments and then nodded.
“Then why are you making her cry?” Nick set the picture in his hands down and he reached over and gathered the four-year-old into his arms. She snuggled close to him and looked up at him wanting very much to know the answer.
“I told your mommy something that she wasn’t yet ready to hear because of the pain your daddy put her through so we are a little mad at each other right now. But everything is going to be fine, I promise. Everything will work out okay in the end…it’s nothing you need to worry about.”
“Are you and mommy still friends?”
“Of course…I love her and could never stop being her friend.”
“Good because I don’ts want you to ever stop being friends.” Nick leaned down and kissed her cheek and he hugged her tight before continuing to work on his project. She watched him for a while but then ended up falling asleep. When she did he carefully lay her down next to him and covered her up as she had her doll wrapped safely in her arms. He worked on his project for a few minutes more before putting it away in a safe place where Ava wouldn’t see it and then he changed into a wife beater and boxer shorts and he crawled into bed behind Jade with the light off. He wrapped a protective arm around her and watched her sleep for thirty minutes before going to sleep as well.
“Alex can I sleep in your bed tonight? Baby J is in Nick’s room and I don’t like sleeping alone. I can’t sleep alone…” Ava asked as she walked into her brother’s room as he was just pulling off his shirt and was standing there in boxers.
“Mhm go get in bed” he told her and she went over and crawled into his bed as he went and turned the light off before joining her. He crawled in bed beside her and pulled the blankets on them.
“How are you feeling?” he questioned softly as they lay there in the dark side by side just staring up at the ceiling.
“You are far from alone sis…you are surrounded by four guys who love you to death and one stubborn Backstreet Boy who loves you almost as much as I do no matter how much of a dickwad he is being.”
“A dickwad he may be, but he has a right to be angry…”
“The way I see it,” AJ replied while tearing his gaze from the ceiling and looking at her. “If he is really the best friend he says he is he wouldn’t be acting this way, I don’t care how hurt he is. You have a lot on your plate right now and he is the one person you need the most and if he doesn’t start talking to you by tomorrow I’m going to start getting pissy with him.” Ashley couldn’t help but smile some and she rested her head against his as they share a pillow.
“I love how protective of me you are. I’ve missed it.”
“You are my sister it’s my job to be protective,” he informed her softly. The two of them lay there in silence for a while until she soon fell asleep and when she did he lay there watching her while silently worrying. Silently cursing Nick for acting this way. Yes he’s been in love with Ava since the beginning. Yes Ava hurt him he understands that. And as much as he really wanted him to reveal his feelings, and for him to be with her it was just really bad timing. He should’ve seen that then maybe he could’ve warned him not to do it just yet. But he was just blinded by his own dream that someday his best friend would be his sister’s prince charming and help her put all of her demons in the past. He is a firm believer that only Nick can do that. Without him…well, he doesn’t want to think about that. He came close to losing his sister once before, he doesn’t want things to get that bad again.
The next morning Ava awoke to the smell of bacon. She lay in AJ’s bed quietly staring up at the ceiling for a few moments trying to wake up all the way and when she did she rolled out of bed and headed downstairs. She walked into the kitchen where she found all five guys and Jade sitting around.
“Hey beautiful you are up early” Brian greeted as he was the first to see her and he went over and slid his arms around her waist and pulled her to him for a hug. Ava smiled and returned his hug.
“Alex is that bacon and eggs I smell?”
“Yes ma’am I thought I would make your favorite today to start your day off good.” Ava went over to the refrigerator and opened it up and she pulled out a can of Dr. Pepper before going over and sitting next to Jade who of course has Nick sitting on the other side of her.
“Good morning Nick” she spoke softly and she looked at him and saw him doing exactly what he had done last night. Acting like he didn’t hear her. She looked at him for a few moments and then put her Dr. Pepper down on the counter loudly before getting up and heading for the kitchen door.
“Let me know when breakfast is finished I am going upstairs” she announced but before she even made it to the door Howie reached out and wrapped an arm around her and pulled her near.
“Stay here sweetie, don’t let him get to you today” Howie whispered in her ear.
“I don’t feel comfortable in here” she insisted as she wants nothing more than to leave the room.
“Come here Ava, help me make cookies. You love to bake” Kevin spoke up. She looked at him for a couple of moments and then nodded quietly before walking over to the counter where he was baking chocolate chip cookies.
“Kay…” she replied softly and she began to help. After a long while she looked over at her brother.
“Alex can I use your cell phone? Mine is dead at the moment.”
“Mhm” AJ answered before pulling his phone from his pocket and handing it over to her. Ava turned it on and dialed Raven’s number and she waited as it rang.
“Hello?” Came the sound of Zara’s voice and Ava couldn’t help but smile some.
“Hey there Zara, it’s Ava. How are you?” Upon hearing this question, Jade’s whole face lit up in excitement and she looked up from her coloring book.
“Mommy can I talk to her? Please, pleeeease?” she pleaded eagerly, even going as far as bouncing around excitedly in her chair.
“I’m doing good, how are you? Mommy misses you!” Zara answered, her voice filled with just as much excitement as Jade’s.
“Oh, I’ve been okay…can I talk to your mommy please?”
“Okay, and then afterward you can talk to Jade all right? She is very anxious to talk to you.” Jade smiled even bigger at hearing this and AJ chuckled amusedly.
“Yay! Okay I will go gets her!”
“Kay, thank you sweetie.” Ava heard the phone being put down and then the four year old yelling for her best friend.
“MOMMY! AVA IS CALLING YOU!” A second later she heard the phone pick up and then her friend’s voice on the other end.
“Hey Ray, what have you been up to? And what is this I hear about you missing me?”
“Can you really blame me Ava? We haven’t talked in four whole weeks!”
“I know hon…that’s my fault. Life has been a little crazy lately with David and everything…”
“That’s why we tell you to leave him honey…will there ever be a day where you will actually listen to us? Or are we fighting a losing battle here?” Raven questioned, and Ava could hear the irritation behind her friend’s voice.
“Jade and I are actually living with Alex now. I took her and ran away and he talked me into moving back home and staying with him.”
“That explains why you are on his phone…it’s about damn time though! If you didn’t leave him soon you were going to be experiencing some very tough love from me.”
“I’m already going through some tough love right now…I think. I’m not exactly sure what it is.” Ava glanced over at Nick who was still sitting at the table with Jade writing and pretending that he isn’t listening to her end of the conversation at all – but she’s known him for ten years, she knows better than that.
“What does that mean?” Raven’s voice interrupted her thoughts.
“I will explain it to you when we’re in the same room. I don’t want to discuss it right now…”
“…Okay. Are you all right?”
“I’m fine…just come over please? I am in desperate need of a girl. I’ve been surrounded by guys for two days straight with an exception of Tierja being over here but we didn’t really get anytime alone because I was a little preoccupied with dealing with my issues…”
“Okay I will. I will get ready as soon as we hang up and then Zee and I will be right over.”
“Kay, thank you. Have you heard from Kathryn lately?”
“Yeah she was just here yesterday. She is supposed to be coming over here again today…we both will be right over okay?”
“Okay, then I will get Tierja back over here too so we can be complete.”
“That will be great! I haven’t seen Tier in a while either and miss her too.”
“Okay well she will be here if she can come.”
“I have to go get ready I am still in my pajamas.”
“Can Jade talk to Zara before you hang up? She really misses her best friend right now and is dying to talk.”
“Of course,” Raven answered and Ava looked to Jade.
“Baby J, come here honey.” Jade leaped up from her chair that she was sitting in next to Nick and she darted for her mother who handed over the phone.
“Zara?” she asked into the phone.
“What’s up dude?” Jade asked eagerly. Being around the guys a lot she has learned the words what’s up, dude and whatever other phrase she managed to pick up on very early in her life. Ava couldn’t help but smile slightly and she walked up behind her brother, slid her arms around his waist, and rested her chin on his shoulder.
“When is breakfast going to be done? I’m hungry.”
“Five more minutes honey. Hang in there.”