Chapter   Twenty-Four

For the next half hour, there were other performances, but the audience was kind of restless after the Boys' performance. As soon as the show was over, Rae and Rose went backstage. Rose jumped Brian and he laughed at her enthusiasm. Rae hugged Nick for a long time. The Boys' families were backstage as well and everyone was introduced to everyone else.

They all headed to Nick's house for a little party. Everyone was dancing, eating, talking, getting to know one another better. After a while, Rae left to go freshen up a bit with Rose. As they came back through the doorway, Brian and Nick stopped them and started talking to them there.

Unknown to the girls, Brian and Nick stopped them on purpoe 'cause there was a mistletoe hanging from above and they were just waiting for someone to notice. About ten minutes into the conversation, Kevin walked over to them.

"Every, can I please have you attention?" Kevin stood in front of Brian, Rose, Rae, and Nick. Everyone looked at them.

"Thank you. I would just like to say that the first people to stand in this doorway have arrived. I would also like to point out that they're standing under the mistletoe." Kevin looked at all of them with a devilish smile.

"Come on, B-Rok, go for it!!" AJ yelled out.

"All right, Nick!!" shouted Howie.

"Well, guys, don't let us stop you," Kevin urged them.

Brian and Nick looked at each other with smiles on their faces. Finally, someone noticed, they both thought. Rose and Rae looked at each other with smiles on their faces.

"Well, Brian Littrell, aren't you going to kiss me?" Roe said, her eyes sparkling.

"It would be my pleasure," he responded with a gallant bow. Then Brian leaned down and kissed Rose and the crowd watched. They all started whistling and giving out catcalls.

"Okay, Mr. Nick Carter. Rules are rules...." Rae began, but she didn't get much further than that. Nick just kissed her and the whistles and catcalls got louder. After a couple of minutes, the couples broke apart and started laughing. Then the party resumed. Bryn arrived about five minutes after the kissing scene. Todd saw it, but it didn't bother him much. He knew Rae loved him, so he didn't trip out or anything. But Bryn got a little worried after she heard about it while she was in the kitchen.

"It just went up about twenty degrees in here five minutes ago," AJ said when he saw Bryn in the kitchen.

"Oh yeah? Why?" she asked.

"Brian and Rose, Nick and Raelene, and a mistletoe. Need I say more?"

"No, AJ. You need not say more," Nick said, walking in. He'd heard everything.

"Is that true, Nick? Did you kiss Raelene?" Bryn looked at Nick.

"Yeah, but we were under the mistletoe. It was nothing," he explained.

"Whatever, Nick," AJ said, walking out.

"Shut up, AJ," Nick said. He looked at Bryn again. "Bryn, it was nothing. Look at Rae and Todd. They're in love and they're planning to get married. Just don't say anything. Rae is waiting for the right moment to tell everyone."

Bryn looked at Rae and Todd. They were acting like they were the only couple in a room full of people. All they could see was each other. "Okay, Nick. I believe you."

"Good," he said. "Now lets go stand under the mistletoe for a while."

Bryn laughed and followed him to the doorway.


For the rest of Rae's visit, she spent so much of her time with the Boys. Todd finally let down his guard and became good friends with the guys. Rose and Rae hung out with Ginger, BJ, Leslie, Aaron, and Angel. Nick's sisters and brother became close to them. Rae's parents became fast friends with Ann Richardson (Kevin's mom), Harold and Jackie Littrell (Brian's parents), Hoke and Paula Dorough (Howie's parents), Denise McLean (AJ's mom), and Robert and Jane Carter (Nick's parents). Also joining the "adult" conversations was Howie's older siblings, Pollyanna, Caroline, Angie, and John.

Although Rae's brothers were still somewhat protective of Rae, Michael, Gabriel, and Phillip hung out and played basketball with the Boys quite a lot. They were often joined by Brian's older brother, Harold III, and Kevin's older brothers, Jerald Jr. and Tim. All in all, it was a good Christmas for all of them. The Boys performed at another show on New Year's Eve and they had a massive party after the show.

Pretty soon, Rae, Rose, Todd, and everyone that had visited headed for home. Everybody left with more that what they brought, so it was a little harder to pack everything in the bags they had brought. Nick and Brian were helping Rae and Rose pack their bags. Aaron was sitting on the floor playing video games. Rae looked at Aaron fondly as she watched him hold the controllers in his little hands.

"I wish you didn't have to go, Rose," Brian said, taking Rae away from her thought.

"I know, B-Rok, but school calls." Rose put more shirts into an already-too-full bag.

"It was fun having you out here, Rae," Nick said. "I liked talking to you until dawn. I missed that when I left Barstow."

"I missed that, too. But I have your pajamas to sleep in and remind me of our crazy conversations." Rae smiled at Nick. All of a sudden, Rae felt something grab ahold of her legs. She looked down and saw Aaron holding onto her with both arms.

"I'm gonna miss you, Rae," Aaron said, looking at her with tears in his big, brown eyes. That was it for Rae. She picked up Aaron and hugged him as tears of her own formed in her eyes. Then Angel came in, looked at Aaron, and started crying, too. Rose went to her and picked her up, hugging Angel comfortingly, causing her to start crying.

Brian looked at each other with sad looks. Brian went and hugged both Rose and Angel, while Nick did the same with Rae and Aaron. Kevin, AJ, and Howie came in Nick's room to find a real sad group of people.

"It's Barstow all over again," said Howie.

"Yup," Kevin agreed. "Only thing missing is Julia and AJ hugging like they never want to let go. Anyway," he continued before AJ could say anything. "Is if just me or does time seem to fly by when we're with the girls?"

"Time flies when you're having fun with beautiful women," said AJ.

"Said in true 'AJ form'," Howie said, with a smile.

"Brian, Nick, pull yourselve together," Kevin teased.

"Yeah, guys. They're just girls," Howie said, playing along.

"Besides," AJ said in a fatherly-tone. "That's what you get for having your best friend, Nick, and your girlfriend, Brian, in another state."

"AJ, you shouldn't talk. Julia lives in another state," Rose pointed out.

"That's different," he said. "Me and Julia are friends. Unlike you guys, we don't get even close to the next level."

"Somehow, I don't think that's possible," Brian said.

"Yeah," Rae agreed. "How does a big flirt like you manage that?"

"I noticed that once you get Julia out of her shell, flirting is as much for her as it is for me," AJ explained. "It's just something we both do and we know that it most likely won't amount to much more."

"Oh, I see," said Nick. "So you sent her about twenty presents because she's your friend, not because you have a crush on her."

"I saw stuff I thought she'd like," AJ shrugged. "My mom gave me extra money for Christmas."

"Okay," Rae said. "I'll just have to ask Jamy."

AJ's crazy explanation calmed everyone down and got them smiling, even Aaron and Angel, though they didn't know what the "big kids" talking about.

"Hey, people," Howie said. "Why don't we have a farewell pool party. Nick, do you think your parents would mind?"

"No, I don't think so," he answered.

"You might want to ask before we start inviting people over," Kevin said.

Nick went downstairs to ask his parents. He came back up with a big smile. "Let's have a party!"

Chapter Twenty-Five: *The Last Chapter*
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