“I can’t….I can’t do this….look at all the people out there.” Nick stutterred nervously as he looked out from behind the curtain backstage. He was wearing jeans and a light blue button down shirt, a white tank top underneath. His hair was done up nicely, his stylist had cut it that morning. He had stage makeup on and looked very professional, but to Amanda he was the same Nick she grew up with. He was shy and nervous, pacing the floor backstage as he patiently waited for his turn to go out. The small arena was packed with JC’s fans. Nick hoped they would like him….he wanted this to go well…it was his first time performing for a crowd and his nerves were shot. He took a breath and shook it away but it was still there, the knot in his stomach. Amanda came over and put an arm around him, rubbing his back gently.
“You will be okay, Nicky.” she whispered, using the nickname she called him. She had been calling him Nicky for a long time, she was the only one who used it. He smiled at her, his eyes looking wearily at the curtain again.
“You’re up in five minutes, Carter.” a stagehand said, running past them. Nick squeaked and beads of sweat formed on his face.
“If you get nervous, just look at me. I will be front row, center. You will be okay, just be yourself.” Amanda coaxed him before heading to her seat. Nick stood at the edge of the stage, hearing the crowd outside as his heart began pounding under the tank top. He wiped his clammy hands on his jeans and took another breath, but before he could exhale a hand pushed him out onto the stage. He was met with silence. Blank stares from thousands of eyes looked at him…and he heard them whispering. Nick froze on the stage like a deer caught in the headlights of an on coming car. Amanda stood in her spot near the stage watching him. He was pale and she could tell he wanted to run.
“Come on, Nicky…pick up the guitar.” she thought, watching as he strolled over to the microphone stand. He found the stool and smiled nervously.
“You gotta be kidding me.” one of the girls nearby whispered, and they laughed. Some of the crowd was laughing at Nick as he then knocked over the mic stand, causing it to screech with feedback.
“Sorry.” he said nervously as he picked it up and sat down on the stool, balancing the guitar on his knee.
“Well, he is hot…I will give him that.” another girl sneered, looking at him as if he didn’t know what he was doing at all.
“Uh….hi…” Nick said nervously, adjusting himself on the stool and trying to calm himself.
“I’m Nick Carter….I’m going to sing a few songs if that’s okay with you.” he added. Amanda grinned, he was cute when he was shy. Nick held the guitar and began strumming the first few bars of his song “Help Me”.
“I wish I could define…all the thoughts that crossed my mind.” he sang. The girls in the front row started dancing after he was halfway through the song. The rest of the crowd began cheering. He smiled and kept playing, closing his eyes as he got into the music. The last song he played was “I Need You Tonight”. He walked along the edge of the stage, belting it out as JC had taught him….stopping to make eye contact with girls in the front. Nick knelt down and took Amanda’s hand for a verse, looking into her eyes and singing passionately. The final note of the song, Nick belted it out louder than Amanda had ever heard him sing before. He held the note so long she was worried he would run out of breath, but he didn’t. His audience screamed with delight as he bowed and walked off the stage, grinning.
“Good job out there tonight.” JC said once they had gone off to their buses.
“Thank you.” Nick said meekly.
“You did so good out there! I’m so proud of you.” Amanda told him as he smiled, looking down at his feet as his cheeks turned pink.
“Th-thanks Amanda.” he mumbled. The two of them walked to his tour bus, which was smaller than JC’s. Amanda was impressed by how luxurious it seemed to her, like a home on wheels…bunk beds built into the wall and a kitchen, a large bed in the back and a television.
“You must be tired.” Amanda said, noticing his solemn expression.
“Yeah, I’m beat.” Nick told her, yawning. Performing was not easy, as he had realized tonight.
“You did great up there, I mean it, Nick. I told you….you are a natural performer.” Amanda said. She moved to the back of the bus as it began to move to their next stop. Amanda looked at the bunks and put her suitcase in one of them. Nick came out of the small bathroom brushing his teeth.
“Oh!” Amanda exclaimed when she saw him, he was only wearing his jeans and nothing else. He didn’t say anything, didn’t look at her. He simply grabbed a towel and headed back into the bathroom, closing the door but not shutting it all the way.
“Tease.” Amanda mumbled to herself bitterly. He had been working out….his arms were more toned than last time they had been together in close quarters.
“boyfriend back home…you have a boyfriend.” she thought as those feelings for Nick came rushing back. The man in question came over wearing a t shirt and boxer shorts.
“Amanda?” he said, startling her.
“Are you sure you want to sleep in that small bed? I have a big one in the back of the bus and there is plenty of room.” Nick said. She wanted to kill him for suggesting it. Amanda looked at how his shirt clung to his body in the right places…she did not trust herself alone with him.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Nick.” she said softly, backing away from him.
“I won’t do anything, I swear. I will lay on the other side of the bed.” Nick promised, feeling slightly hurt by the sudden coldness she was showing. The two of them lay in bed together, Nick was as far away as he could get from Amanda, not facing her.
“Good night, Nick.” Amanda whispered, closing her eyes and wishing she was near him, but hating herself for it.