Amanda watched Nick leave and was dumbfounded. He had not looked at her that way since he was 15….since he was afraid to be touched. She went into the house and put the flowers in a vase before finding Lance in the kitchen, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.
“What did you talk to him about, Lance?” she asked, her hands on her hips.
“Talk about what, baby?” Amanda rolled her eyes at him as her house phone began to ring.
“Brian? Why are you calling the house phone?” she asked when he started shouting into the phone.
“Your cell is off. Did you forget something this morning?” Brian asked.
“What are you going on about? I have been home all day….”
“Uh, gee…I think you forgot something at the airport….you know…6 feet tall, blonde hair….answers to Nick..” Brian snapped.
“Nick never called me to pick him up. I never got his message.” Amanda said in disbelief. She looked at her answering machine and there were no messages on it.
“Did you check your cell? Nick always leaves messages when he calls, you know that, Amanda. I think something fishy is going on here. Nick looked upset when I picked him up at the airport….he was there for 4 hours!” Brian told her.
“I’m telling you, I never got a message.” Amanda turned her cell on and sure enough there were 3 text messages and a voice mail from Nick. She looked into the kitchen again…Lance was way too happy. Something was wrong, she thought back to the night before. She and Lance had slept together…he was so wonderful and gentle with her. Was it all a distraction?
“Brian I have to go.” she said before hanging up. Amanda would never forget how Nick looked at her….he was hurt and she wanted to know why.
Nick got home and closed the door behind him. He felt sick to his stomach…..his chest tight and his head pounding. He fell to the floor, his back sliding down the door as he began to cry….he knew Lance was right….he knew that he was not good enough to be with her.
“Lance what did you say to him?” Amanda demanded, crossing her arms.
“We were just talking about his trip.” he replied.
“Don’t give me that bullshit. What did you talk about?”
“I put him in his place, that’s all. You’re my fiancé now….he needs to move on.” Lance said finally.
“Lance, you had no right telling him anything. I was going to tell him myself.” Amanda replied, practically shouting. Lance got up from the kitchen table and began walking away, rolling his eyes.
“Don’t walk away from me.”
“He needs to learn he can’t always get his way. You all baby him….especially you. Nick needs to learn to be a real man.” Lance told her. Amanda blinked at him…she thought he had finally changed, but it didn’t seem like it. She wanted to throw his ring back at him and tell him to fuck himself.
“Nick is more man than you will EVER be, Lance.” she said without thinking. He turned around and looked at her, hate in his eyes.
“Excuse me? What’s that supposed to mean?” he asked incredulously.
“He is a real man, not you…..he knows how to treat a woman.” Amanda snapped. Lance boiled with anger inside….Joey had hinted at something like this….he knew that Amanda and Nick had slept together, he just didn’t know when.
“How could you lie to me like this? I thought you weren’t involved with him?” Lance demanded.
“I am not involved with him, but maybe if you hadn’t been dicking around and being sneaky….you would have had me first.” Amanda said before walking away. Lance was shaking with anger as he watched her leave the room. Nick had taken her virginity….this was war.
Nick was headed for his bedroom when he heard a knock at the door, more like pounding. He knew it was a bad idea but went to answer it. When Nick opened it, he was grabbed by his neck.
“You fucking bastard. You couldn’t stay away from her, could you?” Lance barked at him….tightening his grip. He threw Nick into the wall and held him there. Nick gasped for air and shook his head in protest.
“You’re going to wish you never looked at my fiancé.”
“Let….let me…” Nick cried, struggling.
“Let you go? I’m going to let you go all right.” Lance shouted. He let go of Nick’s neck and punched him square in the face. Nick fell from the force of the blow and got back up in an attempt to defend himself. He tried to tackle him but Lance punched him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him as he fell down.
“Someone help me!” Nick shouted, and Lance laughed.
“None of your friends are here now, Carter. Its just you and me.” he sneered, hitting him again.
“Stop…..please…” Nick begged, trying to stop his bloody nose. Lance laughed, kicking him in the side. He lifted Nick by his shirt so that their faces met. Nick’s good eye was swimming in tears….the other was black and blue.
“Stay away from her or you will get worse than this….I guarantee it.” Lance whispered. Nick stared at him and simply nodded, blood dripping down his face and onto his clothes. Lance let go of him and he fell to the floor again in a heap by the staircase.
“Nick…come on…” a voice said softly. Nick felt a hand on his shoulder as he opened his eyes.
“Jay…” he whispered…everything hurt. Nick couldn’t figure out how he ended up on the floor, but his head ached. AJ knelt on the floor near the stairs, trying to help him up. He felt so dizzy…he smelled blood.
“What the fuck happened to you?!” AJ demanded, looking him over. Nick’s face was bleeding and his left eye swollen shut. Nick just looked at him and began to cry in heaving sobs…AJ didn’t know what else to do but hug him. After he helped Nick clean up in the bathroom, AJ calmed him down a bit.
“Who did this to you? What happened?” he asked. Nick looked away from him, his face swollen and bruised.
“You can tell me, Kaos.”
“Lance attacked me.”
“That son of a bitch. We gotta tell Aman-”
“NO!” Nick shouted suddenly.
“Why not?” AJ asked, frowning at him. Nick began to cry again, the pain coming back once more as he remembered what Lance told him. Amanda would never love him like he loved her…
“It’s over, AJ. There is no me and Amanda…and it’s going to stay that way.” he said tearfully.
“You can’t just give up. I thought you loved her.” AJ said…hugging him again.
“I have to let her go. It’s over….I was only fooling myself. She will never love me. It will be better if I stay away. Please don’t tell her anything….” Nick begged.
“I promise I won’t tell her.” AJ replied…he knew Nick was making another mistake cutting himself off from Amanda, but he would have to figure it out on his own. AJ just hoped that this phase he was going through was only temporary.