Amanda hated herself for what she was about to do….she hated Lance for making her so worked up. She stood in front of Nick’s blue house, staring at the gate to the beach and sighing. Clutching the envelope with one hand, she walked towards Brian and AJ, who were laying in beach chairs on the deck.
“Hey, birthday girl.” Brian grinned as Amanda walked up to them. He and AJ were both shirtless and tanned….but it was obvious who spent more time in the gym. AJ was muscular but thin and covered in tattoos, whereas Brian’s arms bulged, his stomach defined. He definitely had a police officer’s physique.
“Is Nick around? I saw his car out front.” Amanda said, trying not to make it obvious she was checking anyone out. Brian pointed to the ocean and Amanda’s mouth fell open….Nick was surfing.
He weaved in and out of the waves like a professional….water glistening on his damp chest, his hair flying around his face. Nick was blowing her away. His body was perfect.
“Amanda? What are you doing here?”
Amanda had zoned out and blinked to find Nick standing in front of her, water dripping down his bare chest and over his abs…glistening on his biceps and shoulders.
“Ummmm…hi…” she said breathlessly, smiling like she’d won the lottery. She almost had forgotten what she came to do, clutching the envelope in her hand. Nick saw it and his eyes narrowed, recognizing his own handwriting on the front.
“What is that?” he asked in a hollow sort of voice. Amanda took a breath and handed him the envelope, her hands shaking.
“I came by to drop this off.” she said slowly, the air around her cold. It was a warm day, but Amanda felt all the warmth sucked out of her when she saw the look on Nick’s face as she returned the present.
“I….I thought you wanted this. I gave this as a gift.” he whispered. Amanda wanted nothing more than to turn and just walk away before he could say anything else, but she saw that he was hurt.
“I can’t take it, Nick. That is a lot of money…..you spent so much on my dream, what if I failed? It would all be a waste….”
“It’s not a waste. You wanted to own a nightclub. Amanda, you helped me with my dream, remember? You pushed me to sing and I did it. I got that record deal because you told me you believed I could do it. Well, now it is your turn. I know you can run a successful business, you have the intelligence and drive to make it happen.” Nick protested, trying to give the envelope back. Amanda felt her eyes water, Nick’s words filling her with joy but incredible sadness. Lance was right, who was she trying to fool?
“I can’t take this from you. Please understand.” Amanda whispered. Nick shook his head, his damp hair falling across his face.
“Why don’t you think you can do it? Is it because of Lance?” he demanded angrily. Amanda was trying to fight off tears, she hated the fighting and the coldness Lance gave her. Nick’s heart was in the right place, but Amanda doubted herself.
“What is going on?” AJ asked, walking up to them.
“She wants to give up her dream of owning a nightclub.” Nick said, waving the envelope.
“Amanda, come here.” AJ told her, putting an arm around Amanda’s shoulder and leading her away towards the house.
“I feel horrible doing this to him. I know Nick put a lot of thought and money into that present he gave me.” she said softly.
“Don’t kick yourself over this. Lance doesn’t control you…we all believe in you.”
“That’s not it, Jay. I’m tired of fighting with him. He’s so jealous of my friendship with Nick. When he found out Nick gave me this present he went ballistic. I can’t do this anymore. He wants a housewife, I will give him one.” Amanda said tearfully.
“You’re not meant to be someone’s housewife. Marriage is supposed to be equal, he treats you like a slave. He’s just unhappy because his job won’t give him a promotion. Do this for yourself, and prove him wrong. The Amanda I know wouldn’t let Lance have his way.” AJ protested, his hands on her shoulders as he talked.
“I don’t want to fight anymore.”
“Even if you give up this club, Lance will find something else to bitch about. I’m telling you, you’re making a big mistake.”
“Marrying Lance was a mistake, AJ. I should have said no….I should have waited for-”
“Don’t say that. You need to do what you want, not what he wants. Ask yourself, would he give up his dream for you? I think we both know the answer to that.” AJ said.
Amanda thought about it….she knew Lance wouldn’t do that for her. She nodded and walked back over to Nick, sighing.
“I can’t force you to take this, but you shouldn’t let him tell you what to do. The Amanda I know wouldn’t just give up.” Nick said calmly, a towel around his neck.
“Nick, I changed my mind…you’re all right. This is about what I want, not what he wants. I’m gonna do it.” Amanda said with a small grin. Nick grinned back and handed her the envelope….knowing this was what she was meant to do.
Amanda went home to find Lance smirking at her as she closed the door, stopping in her tracks.
“Where did you go?” he demanded, his eyes like ice.
“I don’t have to answer you….I have a lot of planning to do right now.” Amanda said. She moved toward him, cornering him by the sink. Lance’s green eyes narrowed, surprised by her attitude.
“For what? I already told you, you’re wasting Nick’s money on that club.” he snapped.
“I’m not fighting with you. Either you’re with me, or you’re against me. Lance. I am doing this without your support. You’re my husband, we should be helping each other, not fighting all the time. If all you want to do is fight, I’m filing for divorce.” Amanda told him. Lance softened when he heart the word divorce, he wasn’t expecting any of this.
“I will support you but I don’t agree with it.” he said softly before walking away. Amanda smiled, that was one hurdle to get over. She had a long way to go before everything in her life could be completely perfect. She just wished Nick could be a part of it, but he had his own life….she had hers.