Two months later....
"So, what time you going to get here?" asked Rae.
"About 1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon," Nick answered. "Are you excited about your birthday?"
"Yes. I'm finally turning twelve...."
"Dee, you've been on the phone for almost two hours. It's time to hang up," Rae's dad, Michael "Mike" Lopez, said from her bedroom doorway.
Rae looked up at her dad. "Okay, Daddy," she said. "Nick, I have to go. My dad's getting mad 'cause I've been on the phone too long."
"Alright. I'll see tomorrow then," he said.
"Tell Nick I said hi," Mike said.
"My dad said hi and, yes, tomorrow. Bye," she said.
"Bye, and tell your dad I said hi," said Nick and hung up.
"Nick said hi, Daddy," Rae said hanging up the phone.
"You talked to him for a long time," Mike said. "When was the last time you talked to him? Yesterday?"
"No. It was last week. A lot's happened since last week," Rae explained.
"Kevin turned twenty-two on the 3rd. They had a party for him. And in a couple of months, the Boys will be recording their first song." Rae smiled knowing her dad was expecting some lame story.
"What's the name of the song?"
"They don't know yet. Nick said they're going to bring out some lyric sheets to show me. Then I get to help them choose."
"What time are Kevin, Howie, AJ, Brian, and Nick going to be here tomorrow?"
"1:30 or 2:00 in the afternoon."
"Well, help me move your bed to make room for the other one."
Together, father and daughter moved Rae's bed to one side of the room and brought in some sheets and left them for Rae to fix up. Just then, Rae's mother, Alberta "Robbie" Lopez, came to her room.
"Hi, Mom, did you just get back from the store?"
"Yeah, and I got a magazine for you. It's on the table."
"Cool." Rae went to the kitchen to get her mag.
Robbie and Mike looked at their only daughter.
"I can't believe she's turning twelve already," said Robbie.
"And her boyfriend is coming visit," Mike replied back. "Do you think it's a good idea to let Nick sleep in her room?"
"Mike, they have separate beds. Dee knows what it's like to share a room with a guy. And Nick is NOT her boyfriend. She's still trying to work things out with Todd."
"Why did we let her go out with Todd? He's five years older than her. How do we know we can trust him?"
"You're panicking. We've known Todd since he was born. He and Dee have a special connection. He's the one she's going to marry."
"Don't go making wedding plans for me yet, Mom," Rae said. "Me and Todd are still talking things out." She looked pointedly at her mother.
"I know, I know. But you two look like you're getting along fine," Robbie commented. "Todd's mom says he talks about you non-stop."
"Todd talks about everything non-stop. Which reminds me, me and him are going for some ice cream later. If it's okay with you, that is."
"Sure it is," Mike said. "Just make sure you don't stay out too late. You still have to staighten up your room."
"Okay, Daddy." Then Rae turned around and walked towards the living room to watch TV.
"What do you want to do for your birthday?" Todd asked.
"Besides open my presents? I don't know," Rae replied.
"Aren't your friends from Florida coming out for you birthday?" Todd didn't sound too happy about that.
"Yes, and you better be nice."
"Don't worry. I don't want to ruin your birthday."
Rae saw the look on Todd's face. She got up from her side of the booth and sat next to Todd, turning his face to hers so he had to look at her.
"Nick, Brian, Kevin, Howie, and AJ are really cool. You would've found that out if you didn't leave Florida so suddenly."
"I left because you said you needed to think. I didn't want you to think I was hovering over you, waiting for an answer."
"Well, I'm done thinking. I love you. I always will. We have this connection, Todd, and nothing we do will ever break it."
Todd put his arms around Rae and hugged her to him hard. She returned his hug. It was when Rae pulled back and kissed him did he feel like his life was right again. And he wanted it to stay that way.