“Get a move on, Carter! We don’t have all day to wait on your fat ass!”
Nick rolled his eyes at Dave, their current tour manager. He had been with the boys many years….practically since they started. He was short and muscular, with brown hair and usually was shouting.
“I’m not fat.” Nick mumbled, running past him to get on the bus. He was hungry and hadn’t gotten a chance to eat before leaving the hotel for the city….his stomach growling angrily.
“Well, you’re no pixie. The wardrobe people are already complaining because you don’t fit in the tour clothes, and tour hasn’t started yet.” Kevin snapped. Nick sat down next to AJ, wiping his forehead and yawning.
“You okay, Nick? You look hungry.” AJ whispered. Nick nodded as he listened to Dave shouting at them for being tardy.
Nick smiled gratefully and took the cereal bar from him….but it was snatched away.
“I told you….no more junk food. From now on, it is salad and water for you, Carter. No girl wants to see a fat Backstreet Boy.” Dave yelled, pocketing it. Nick’s stomach growled again and he took in everything the manager said, feeling worse as the minutes passed.
“Dave, he’s hungry. You can’t make him starve himself.” Kevin said once they had gotten to the radio station to start interviews. Nick stood there as he listened to them argue…..he hated this. He hated people fighting over him, he hated being judged for how he looked and being put under a microscope all the time. It was becoming too much. All Nick wanted was to be a normal teenager…..at the age of 19 he should be worrying about going to college, not about his appearance or voice. By the end of the day, he returned to his hotel room frustrated and near tears. He wanted out.
Nick sat on the balcony for a long time, thinking….watching the sunset. It wasn’t a spectacular view, but he wanted to think.
“Niiiiickyyyy….you out here?” AJ called in an annoying tone. Nick rolled his eyes as his band mate bounded out onto the deck.
“What do you want?”
“We’re going clubbing…I was gonna ask if you wanted to come but Dave says you’re not old enough.”
“So why even tell me?” Nick sighed, resting his head on his knees. He hated being left behind while the others went out.
“Kevin says Marcus is gonna be out in the hall so no funny business. See you later.” AJ said, ruffling Nick’s hair.
“Asshole.” Nick muttered once he was gone. He wanted to quit so badly, just walk away from everything. He was miserable. Nobody seemed to understand him, he felt alone and every day just dragged on. It was then Nick saw the fire escape….he was on the fourth floor of the hotel.
He tiptoed over to the door and peeked out, Marcus was sitting by the elevator. If he snuck out of the room through the window…..
“Here goes…” he whispered as he hoisted himself over the railing. For a moment he slipped, but he made it to the fire escape and took it two at a time before jumping to the ground. He dashed around the pool and ran. He ran and ran until he couldn’t see the hotel anymore….until he was halfway down the highway. Where he was going he had no clue, but he knew he wasn’t far from Alexis’s house.
“What are you doing here?” she laughed when he appeared on her doorstep breathless.
“I can’t take this anymore….can I stay with you? I don’t want to be a Backstreet Boy.” he wheezed, holding his knees.
“What are you talking about?” Alexis asked, her face full of concern.
“I get this feeling they don’t want me around anymore.”
“Nick, you can’t just run from them. Have you talked to the guys about how you feel?” Alexis asked. She let him inside and gave him something to drink. She had red hair with blonde streaks….darker hair than Amber. Nick thought she was beautiful.
“They don’t understand me. Can’t I just stay here?” he begged, putting on his famous pout for her as she laughed.
“No. I will not be accused of kidnapping. Come on….I’m taking you back.” Alexis said. Nick protested some more but allowed her to drive him. Before they left, Nick stopped in the doorway.
“Why don’t you come with me?” he suggested with a grin.
“You really want me around, don’t you? Is it that bad?”
“Kevin is so hard on me…and so is Dave. I need someone to keep me sane. None of the guys are helping at all, please…can you?” Nick begged again. Alexis shook her head….sure he was cute, but she figured he needed to sort this out on his own for now. Tour was only a third of the way over.
“Babe, I know you need me but you gotta wait a bit. Just keep your chin up. Those boys know what’s best for you, you’re their little brother. Now come on. I’m taking you back to the hotel.” she said sweetly. Nick sighed, he hoped nobody had noticed he was gone.
“WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN???”
Nick half listened to his manager as he screamed but he was tired and hungry….he just wanted to sleep.
“Look at me when I’m talking to you. Nick, what you did today was so irresponsible. Running off with that….that girl with no security?” Dave screamed, his face within an inch of Nick’s.
“Dave, I’m 19. I am not a baby anymore. Can you stop treating me like a child?” Nick snapped.
“Do you think I’m having a picnic over here? I’m not. You’re a spoiled, self absorbed brat. Everyone LOVES you….don’t they?”
“You’re gonna regret talking to me like that, Carter.” Dave said, grabbing his shirt collar. Nick’s eyes widened as the manager got ready to hit him….
“What’s going on here?” Kevin’s voice came from the doorway. Dave had let go and was now smiling as if nothing was wrong, but Nick was trembling.
“I was just informing Carter of his mishap tonight. That’s all.” Dave said calmly. Nick’s eyes darted from him to Kevin…..something definitely seemed off. Dave said good night to them and left them alone in the room. Nick coughed uncomfortably, rubbing the scar on his arm.
“Nick, just next time promise me next time you won’t run off alone?” Kevin told him. Nick nodded.
“Why?” he asked. Kevin turned to him, a sad expression in his green eyes. Nick was confused by this sudden show of emotion.
With that, Kevin left the room, leaving Nick to his own thoughts.