Chapter   Twenty-Five

Nick, Brian, Kevin, AJ, and Howie took turns using the phone to invite people over. They said the party starts at 1:00pm and it was 9:30am, so they had three and a half hours to set up. Rae and Rose wanted to go shopping to buy new bathing suits, so Kevin took them to the mall and he roamed around for a while. About an hour and a half later, Rae and Rose found him in a music store, playing with a keyboard. They listened for a while, then dragged him away. Kevin made a quick stop at the store and drove back to Nick's house.

Around 12:30pm, people started showing up. Rae and Rose said hi to the people they knew and the Boys introduced them to the people they didn't know. The guys at the party asked about Rae and Rose whenever they had the chance. Some of the other girls were a tiny bit jealous of the attention they were getting. Todd and Brian spent a good portion of their time by their girlfriends.

At one point of the party, Rae's brothers and Todd left to go get more ice and soda. As soon as they left, the guys flocked towards Rae and Rose. The Boys had gone inside to watch TV for a while. When they went outside again, Rose and Rae were surrounded by guys. They were smiling, talking, and listening to the guys around them.

"Look at that," AJ pointed to the girls. "We shouldn't have left them alone."

"They can't help it if those guys are attracted to them," Kevin said.

"I think the bathing suits have something to do with it, too," Howie commented.

"And they way they look in those bathing suits," Nick added.

"You have to admit. They look pretty damn good, too," Brian said.

"Thanks for taking them shopping, Kev," AJ said.

"Yeah, we really appreciate it," Howie added.

"No problem, guys. I was glad to do it." Kevin didn't even look at the guys. The Boys stood in place for a few minutes, then walked over to the girls.

"Hey, people," Nick said.

"Hey, Nick, Brian, Howie, Kevin, AJ," said Rae.

"What's up?" Rose said, as Brian sat down next to her.

"Not much," said Nick, sitting next to Rae. "How about you?"

"Just sitting here, getting a tan, talking to the guys. They've been entertaining us while you all were watching TV."

"Oh. Well, now we're back to keep you company." Nick put his arm around Rae's waist. She knew what he was doing. She didn't mind. Her and Rose had been trying to get these guys to leave them alone, but they didn't seem to be taking in the hints.

Brian just straight out kissed Rose in front of everyone. She didn't mind. She just kissed him right back.

"So, Bri," a guy named Mark said. "How long have you and Rose bee together?"

"Almost three months. Why?" Brian looked at him, daring Mark to disagree.

"Just wondering," Mark said, backing off.

"Nick, I thought you were going out with Bryn Marshall?" said a guy named James.

"We're seeing each other," Nick said, non-committally.

"How long have you known Rae and Rose, AJ?" another guys asked.

"We've known Raelene for almost five months and Roseanna for a little over three months," he responded.

Some of the other girls at the party entered the conversation. They soon found out how nice Rae and Rae actually were. Pretty soon, everyone got bored with just sitting around, so they started up a game of pool vollyball. They all divided into teams and got a little tournament going. Rae's brothers and Todd joined in when they got back. Bryn stopped by and watched.

She sat and watched Nick and Rae work together to bring their team to victory. Todd walked over to her and sat down. They sat, side by side, quiet for a while. Finally, Todd couldn't take the silence.

"So, Bryn, how'd you meet Nick?" he asked.

"We were in a musical together a month ago," she responded. "What about you? How'd you meet Rae?"

"I've known her all her life, twelve years of mine," Todd said. "We've been best friends since she was born and I was five."

"So you're seventeen?" Bryn looked at Todd, her eyes wide.

"Yeah."

"That's interesting. Me and Nick are the same age."

"You're thirteen? I thought you were older."

"I thought Raelene was older. Nick told me you and her are planning to get married."

"Yeah. We have yet to tell our parents. But I don't think they'll have any objections. They've always told us we have a special connection. Rae believe it, too. So do I."

"Must be nice to already know that someone you're meant to be with for the rest of you life." Bryn looked at Nick and Rae. They were hugging victoriously. Todd was looking at them, too.

"I almost lost her to him."

Bryn looked at Todd in surprise. "When?"

"This past summer. We had been together for about three months when I screwed up our relationship. But when she came home, she said she wanted to give our love another chance. It's been three months since the day I finally felt like my life was complete once again."

"You love her a lot, don't you?"

"With all my heart and soul," Todd said without hesitation.

"Don't you ever worry about her being so close to Nick?" Bryn needed to know she wasn't alone in her worries.

"Sometimes. But then I think that it's me she going to marry, not him. Why, do you?"

Bryn looked down at her hands. "Yeah. I can't help it. There's something in his eyes when he looks at her that I don't see when he looks at me. That and the fact that she's beautiful."

"So are you, Bryn. Don't ever let anyone tell you different."

"Thanks, Todd. I hope I find someone like you."

"I hope you do, too."

Bryn and Todd looked at Nick and Rae again. They were now standing in the middle of a crowd, Nick's arm around Rae's shoulders, her arm around his waist. Both of their worries returned.

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

"Nick, are you asleep?" Rae whispered.

"No. Are you?" he whispered back.

"I wouldn't be whispering if I was," Rae said.

"How do I know that? You could've been talking in your sleep."

"I don't talk in my sleep."

"Does 'More, Brian, more' sound familiar?"

"Whatever, Nick. I never said that."

"Okay, you didn't say that," he admitted. "Anyway, why aren't you sleeping?"

"I can't. I feel edgy. I can't get comfortable, either. It's like my body refuses to relax."

"How about I message your back?" Nick suggested.

"Okay. I'll try anything about now."

Rae turned over and layed down on her stomach. Nick started rubbing her back gently, starting at her shoulders and moving down. When he got to the end of her shirt, Nick slipped his hands under it and began moving his hands over her skin. Rae's skin started getting a tingling sensation where Nick touched her and she had a hard time breathing.

Rae wasn't the only one affected. Nick's hands felt like an electric shock went through them. He didn't even know why he was messaging her bare back. He went on for a few more minutes, then he took his hands away and pulled her shirt back down. Nick lay beside Rae. He could still feel the softness of her skin on his fingertips.

"Thanks." Rae tried to keep her voice from shaking. She could still feel his hands on her back. "Goodnight, Nick."

"Goodnight."

They both lay awake long into the night, both thinking the other was asleep.

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

The next morning, everyone woke up earlier than usual and helped load all the bags into Kevin's car, Howie's car, and a van the Carters rented. Once that was done, they ate breakfast. Bryn stopped by to say goodbye to Rae and Rose. After she left, the Boys stood by as they watched the Lopez family say goodbye to the Carter family. Then the Boys drove them to the airport.

Brian and Rose were practically joined at the hip. They refused to be separated. Nick and Rae talked about the next time Nick would go to California and visit, what they hoped would happen for the band. They never left each other's side for too long.

When it came time to board the plane, Rae's mom hugged all the Boys goodbye. Mike, Rae's brothers, and Todd shook hands with them. Rose hugged AJ, Howie, Kevin, Nick, and then Brian. They wrapped their arms around each other like they were never going to let go. Nick and Rae hugged for a long time, too.

"I'm going to miss you all so much," Rae said, sadly.

"We're going to miss you, too. I'll call you when something happens with the group," Nick said.

"Okay." Rae let go of Nick and stepped back to look at the guys. "Don't forget us when you become famous."

"We could never do that," Howie said.

"You better not," Rose said, walking over with Brian. "Keep your eye on him, Kev. Don't let him get into trouble."

"Don't worry, Rose," Kevin said, laughing. "I know how to keep him in line."

"Rae, tell Julia I said hi, okay," AJ said.

"Sure thing, AJ," Rae replied.

The girls headed towards the plane and got on board. The Boys stood by the window and watched the plane fly away.