Nick needed no persuasion. He kissed her back with the same amount of feeling Rae was kissing him. They could both hear the guys yelling, "ALL RIGHT, NICK!!" and the whistles in the back of their minds, but all they could think about was the sparks that had ignited between them. When they broke apart, they stared at each other in amazement. Slowly, Nick and Rae smiled.
"Come on," Rae said, pulling Nick towards his friends. "Let's go get some feedback on the show."
They walked up to Nick's friends, big smiles on their faces and holding hands.
"I see you two are getting along, right, Nick?" said Brian, knowingly.
"Yeah, so what's your deal?" Nick asked.
"Nothing. Just asking," Brian said, laughing.
"So did you two crazy kids have fun tonight?" Kevin asked, lightly.
"Of course," said Rae. "Nick is very entertaining."
"Oooohhhh, Nick," AJ said. "What did you do on the beach?"
"We walked, we talked, as well as a few other choice things."
"Nick!!!" Rae said, blushing. Usually it's pretty hard to embarrass Rae, but some things just did the trick.
"I'm just kidding, Rae. We talked, guys. That's it. Would you like to sit down, Raelene?"
"Thank you, Nick. I'd love to."
They walked over to a picnic table and sat down, with Nick's arm around Rae's shoulders. The other guys followed suit and sat down around them.
"So, how did you all meet?" asked Rae, looking around at all of them.
"That's kind of a long story," Howie said.
"It's all right. I have time."
"Okay, if you're sure...."
"Yeah, I love bedtime stories."
"Hey!!" said AJ.
"I'm just kidding, guys. I'm sure it's interesting."
"Okay," said Howie. "Here goes. I met AJ at a talent contest both AJ and myself had entered. AJ won and I was among the first to congratulate him."
"I was about twelve years old, right, D?" AJ looked at Howie.
"Yeah. I was sixteen going on seventeen," Howie said. "Anyway, afterwards, we kept running into each other during acting auditions and we also kept running into Nicky, so we all got to talking."
"I was about ten years old. We all started talking and found out we liked a lot of the same types of music. So, to pass the time, we would sing golden oldies or something we just heard on the radio. And, by the way, stop calling me 'Nicky'."
"Anyway, while those three were getting their little act together, I was working at Disney World," Kevin said, smiling.
"You worked at Disney World!?!" exclaimed Rae, looking at Kevin with excitement.
"Well, I still do. I dress up as some Disney characters. Aladdin and a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. But then one of my friends told me about these three guys that harmonized all the time and set up an introduction."
"By this time, we had gotten in touch with this guy, Lou Pearlman, who was looking for a couple more people to fill out the harmony. We met Kevin, listened to him sing, decided we like him, and he joined the group."
"We all decided that we still needed one more voice," said Howie, "so Kevin decided to give his cousin a call."
"The next day, I'm assuming, I got called out of class and Kevin was on the phone telling me about this singing group he had just joined and that they were looking for one more person," Brian went on. "The day after that, I was on a plane flying out here, auditioned for the group, now here I stand.
"Then a day later, we played our first show for an 8th grade Grad Night at Sea World," Nick said.
"All this in three years?" Rae asked.
"Yup. We've been together as a group for about three months," said Brian. "That Grad Night was in May.
"That is so cool. What do you guys call yourselves?" Rae looked at Nick, smiling.
'She is so beautiful. Her eyes are beautiful, her smile is beautiful, her lips are beautiful and soft, her body is beautiful, her hair is beautiful.... Nick thought as he looked into Rae's eyes.
"Since it doesn't look like Nick's going to answer," AJ said, looking at Nick, "I will. We decided to take the name of our favorite hang-out." AJ waved to the place around them.
Looking away from Nick, Rae said, "You guys named yourselves the 'Backstreet Market'?"
"No, not the 'Backstreet Market'. The 'Backstreet Boys'," Brian said, laughing.
"Oh." Rae laughed. "I like it. Sounds nice. It's suits you guys, too. So, is ther a Coke machine around here? I'm starting to die of thirst."
"Yeah, there's one over there," Brian said. "Come on, I'll take you." Brian held out his arm. "May I escort you to the soda machine?"
"Yes, you may," Rae said, taking his arm.
Brian and Rae walked to the Coke machine. Then Brian saw a friend and left Rae at the machine, saying he'd be back in a few minutes.
"There you are. I've been looking for you everywhere," a voice said from behind her.
Rae turned around and saw the last person she expected to see in Florida.
"What are you doing here?" Rae said, anger in her voice. "I can't believe you followed me here."
Raelene looked at her ex-boyfriend, Todd McKay, with an amazed yet angry expression.
" I wouldn't have had to if you would've talked to me in California," Todd said. "Come on, let's go back to your hotel and we'll talk out our problem there." He grabbed Rae by her arm.
"I'm going anywhere with you," Rae said, trying to free her arm. "You cheated on me and that's all there is to it. How can you expect me to trust you after that?"
"Just give me a chance to explain. I know we can work this out, Rae."
"Maybe we can and maybe we can't, but right now I'm with someone and I have to get back to him. So if you'll just let go of my arm...."
"No way. Not until we talk this out."
"Let go, Todd. You're hurting me!"
"Let her go," a voice said from the shadows.
"Who the hell are you?" Todd snarled.
"A friend of Raelene's and I believe she wants you to leave her alone."
Raelene turned to look behind her and saw Kevin standing there, a few feet back.
"Look, I just want to talk to her," Todd said, not backing down.
"But she doesn't want to talk to you," said AJ, coming out from the shadows on Kevin's right.
"Who are you?" Todd asked. He was looking a little less in control, a little less sure of himself.
"I'm also a friend of Raelene's and me and the fellas don't like it when someone messes with one of our friends."
"What are you going to do about it? You and what army?"
"Me," said Howie, stepping to Kevin's left.
"Me," said Brian from behind Todd to the left.
"And me," said Nick, on Todd's right where Rae was.
"You guys can't stop me from talking to my girfriend," Todd said, smirking.
"Excuse me? Girlfriend?" Rae said, not believing what she had just heard. "I am NOT your girlfriend! When are you going to get that through your thick skull!?!"
"Rae, let's talk about this--" Todd started.
"No. Now let me go!" Rae yelled.
"Fine. Have it your way!" Todd yelled back. He pushed her backwards. She would've fell to the ground of Nick hadn't been there to catch her.
"Are you okay?" Nick asked, a concerned look on his face.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Rae said, looking into his eyes to show she meant it. "Really. I'm fine."
"Isn't that cute?" Todd said, mocking them. "Picking them a little young, aren't you, Rae? I mean, come on. What can he really do for you?" Todd was looking at Nick with arrogance.
"He's looking a hell of a lot better than you are right now," Rae said.
Todd started to make a move, but AJ, Kevin, Howie, and Brian blocked his way.
"You have two seconds to get the hell out of here," Kevin said, threateningly.
"Alright. I get your deal. I'm out of here. This isn't over, Rae." Todd turned around and walked off.
All of them watched him walk away, get into a car and take off down the street.