Chapter   Twenty

"What time is your plane landing?" Nick asked Rae. They had been talking on the phone for almost an hour and a half.

"At twelve noon," Rae answered. "I can't believe it's already time. I thought it would take forever for December 20th to get here."

"I know. I can't wait to see you. I missed you," Nick said, quietly.

"I missed you, too. But you better be prepared for a full house. Todd and Rose are coming, too."

"I know, I know. My mom has everything ready. They can't wait to meet you. My sisters and brother, too. As well as the fellas and Bryn."

"I'm looking forward to it. I wish Julia could come. She's have fun out there."

"Yeah. AJ was kind of down about that, so he sent her like ten presents. He said just so she doesn't think he's forgotten about her."

Rae laughed. "I don't think she's gotten that impression. He's written her a letter almost every other day."

"No kidding," Nick said, laughing, too. "I better go. Don't want to run up my phone bill."

"Too late for that, Nickypoo," Rae said.

"Don't call me that. I hate that name," Nick pleaded.

"Why? I think it's cute." Rae knew he hated when she called him that.

"Please, I begging you. Don't say that in front of Bryn."

"Now there's an idea. Thanks, Nick!! I'll see you tomorrow!!" Then Rae hung up before Nick could protest.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

"Could you pick up the pace, Brian? Raelene's flight will be here soon." Nick was in the passenger seat of the van they rented. Kevin was driving his mom's truck, following them. Kevin's family, as well as Brian's family, was visiting from Kentucky.

"Hey, it's not my fault we're late. It was Kevin who made us practice that song over and over and over...."

"Alright, Frick. Chill."

"I think you're the one who needs to chill. What's your trip?"

"I don't know. It's been a long time since I've seen Rae. I'm a little nervous, I guess."

"It's been a little over two months. And you have no reason to be nervous. Unless you're worried about her and Bryn...."

"No. Not really.... Okay, I'm kind of worried."

Brian was surprised to hear that. "Have you forgotten who's coming? Go through the list for me again."

Nick had a thoughtful expression on his face. "Rae, her parents, her three brothers, Rose, Todd...."

"Bingo!" Brian exclaimed. "Her BOYFRIEND is coming with her. They've been together for over four months and that's not including the week they split up. They've been together longer than you and Bryn."

"All I can say is she better not call me 'Nickypoo' in front of Bryn."

Brian burst out laughing. " 'Nickypoo'?"

Nick forgot he hadn't told Brian about the stupid nickname. "Rae started calling me that last month. I can't stand it. It sounds corny."

"No kidding." Brian pulled into a parking space at the airport. Kevin pulled into a nearby space and got out of the truck, along with AJ and Howie. They all ran inside the airport, checked to see what gate number Rae and her family were arriving at, saw the plane had already landed, and ran to the gate.

Nick looked for Rae's face. Then he saw her. He just stood there in a daze. She changed a lot. When he last saw Rae, she didn't wear makeup and she looked pretty good without it. Now, she put on brown eyeshadow, black eyeliner to make her eyes stand out, a tinted lipgloss on her lips, and a little blush on her cheeks. It wasn't much, but she looked amazing to Nick. A little of the old feeling came back.

"Do you see her?" asked Kevin, his green eyes looking around. Then he spotted Rae and his mouth dropped open. AJ, Brian, and Howie followed Kevin's gaze and stared.

By this time, Rae had spotted Kevin, since he was the tallest. She came over and gave a dazed-looking Nick a big hug.

"Hi, guys," she said, a big smile on her face. "How've you been?" Rae continued to hug an amazed AJ, Howie, Kevin, and Brian.

"Say something, guys!!" Rae exclaimed.

"You look amazing," AJ finally said. He couldn't believe how much a little makeup could enhance the beauty that was already there. The rest of the guys just stood there and stared.

"Thanks, AJ," Rae laughed. "At least one of you knows how to talk."

"Sorry, Rae," Howie said. "You look so different. More mature, more beautiful. I'm speechless."

"Yeah," Kevin agreed. "Totally speechless."

"I'm glad you came out," Brian said, looking her up and down. "There are no words to describe you. In that case, where's Rose?"

"I'm right here," Rose said, walking up beside Rae. "Hi, guys."

The guys all said 'hi' and waved as they stared at Rose. She changed, too. She wore her makeup similar to Rae, not a lot, but enough to enhance her beauty. Brian walked over to Rose, wrapped his arms around her and they hugged for a long time. Just as they pulled away from each other, Todd, Rae's parents, and her brothers, stepped up to the crowd. They all shook hands. Rae had her arms around Todd's waist and he leaned down to kiss her. Nick saw and turned away. He still hadn't said anything to Rae.

Nick was going to say something to Brian, but he was talking to Rose. He saw AJ, Kevin, and Howie talking to Robbie, Mike, Michael, Gabriel, and Phillip Lopez. He was about to join their conversation when Rae spoke to him.

"Gee, Nick, don't say 'hi' or anything." She tried to look hurt, but the sparkle in her eyes gave her away.

"Sorry," Nick said. "I was just as speechless as the rest of the fellas."

"I hope that was a good thing."

"You better believe it," he responded.

"So, where's Bryn? I can't wait to meet her." That sparkle never left her eyes. He saw true happiness when she looked Todd. He didn't see that sparkle in her eyes when he visited her for her birthday.

"She'll be at my house later. I'm sure you'll like her."

"I'm sure I will. Let's go get the rest of the bags and take off."

Everyone headed towards the baggage claim, got the all the bags and headed to the truck and van in the parking lot. After loading all the bags, they took off to Nick's house.


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