"Making It Better"

The emails had been bad enough. For twenty-four hours she'd endured the giddy reports of her husband's whereabouts, and every little comment and snide innuendo that was posted cut her deeper and deeper. Yes, she knew 'where' he was, but did she have to hear about every wink, every hug, and every double entendre that fell from his lips?

The emails were bad, but the phone calls had been the worst. It was inevitable. Everyone in every social circle they frequented read the same message boards, saw the same news clips, was witness to the very public and very (to her, anyway) humiliating face of Nick Carter. No longer 'Backstreet Boy Nick Carter', but 'Nick Carter Launches His First Solo Effort'. Well meaning friends, some calling to lend support, but most calling to offer their condolences and to sympathize, left her with a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach and finally she began to let the answering machine take the calls. None of them were from him.

It was only after hearing Howie's soft and sympathetic voice on her machine that she lost complete control, dropping to her knees by the phone and sobbing. What she wept for was anybody's guess. Lost love? Anger? Betrayal? Or was it that she simply missed him and needed him so badly that tears were her only means of expression? As she awakened on her love seat the next morning, the answers were no clearer than they had been some six hours earlier.

Her head ached, vaguely reminiscent of a hangover. She wondered whether he'd been out he'd drinking last night and surmised that he most likely had been. After all, he'd never been one to turn down an offer of nightlife. If that were the case, then she hoped like hell that his head hurt, too. That made her feel marginally better, so she set out to clean house, not waiting for his call. Of course not, she never waited for his call.

Mid-afternoon, his call (the one she wasn't waiting for) still hadn't come, so she checked her mail one last time. Maybe he'd emailed her? No, only more of the same, and she settled in to read the further adventures of her absentee lover.

Here's a pic of him going into the studios!

OMG! Look! He hugged me!

Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum. And then the final straw.

"So we made it to the bar before they closed it, and I tried so hard to remain calm. *grin* But when he sat down across from us, I bought him a drink. Amaretto on the rocks, and as he left he grinned, winked and said 'thank you!'"

Neglecting to close out the program properly, she turned off the computer and walked into the kitchen. With no hesitation whatsoever, she opened the cabinet, took out his brand new bottle of Amaretto and methodically poured it down the drain. Smiling triumphantly, she pulled herself together and walked slowly up the stairs to the shower.

The sun was setting as she put the finishing touches on her makeup (light powder and lip gloss) and set off for an evening out. She'd just picked up her car keys when the front door opened. Well, well, look who was home.

"Hi baby, I'm home," he smiled sweetly, obviously expecting her to rush into his arms.

"So I see," she said quietly. "Well, I was just on my way out."

"Out?" he frowned. "You knew I was coming home tonight, baby."

"I did?" She stopped and pretended to ponder what he had said. "No, I don't recall you ever saying that. And I know you didn't call last night, because I was here all evening."

"Oh. Lynnie, I'm sorry-"

"It's okay Nick, really. You shouldn't feel the need to check in with me while you're two thousand miles away. I know how busy you were and the commitments you had. Now if you'll excuse me, I have somewhere I need to be."

"Lynne, please," he asked softly.

But without another word she closed the door quietly, slipping into her SUV and backing carefully out of the driveway. She was good, very good. The tears didn't begin until she had parked by her favorite thinking spot, a park bench by the water some twenty miles outside of town. The moon was casting a magical spell over the Gulf of Mexico and the cool evening breeze was tangy with the scent of salt, convenient because it mingled with the tears that rolled unheeded down her face.

It would be so easy if she could hate him, but therein lay the problem. She loved him so deeply that she ached. She knew it was all part of the dog and pony show that went with stardom, but dammit, it hurt. It hurt to see him all over pretty young things, that damn killer smile of his plastered on his face, those fucking blue eyes the same color as the sea she was sitting beside staring into the cameras. She was weary of listening to the debate over his goddamned underwear for chrissakes. Who the fuck cared? Most of them probably fantasized that he didn't even wear any at all.

All she wanted was to be remembered. A phone call would have been more than enough. He used to call, at least at first. When had that stopped? Had it stopped the same time he stopped caring, stopped loving her? The wind carried away the sounds of her sobs and almost masked the sound of her cell phone ringing. Great, just what she needed. If she hadn't been on call at work she'd have been tempted to ignore it.

"Hello?" she sniffled.

"Hi, baby," he said quietly. "I just called to say that I love you. And I missed you."

"Nick, don't." She sniffled as a fresh round of tears began and reached into her pocket for another tissue. Finding none, she was startled when a fresh hankie was pressed into her hand.

The voice on the phone said, "Here, take mine. I think I have another one."

Still holding the phone, and talking into it she answered. "What are you doing here?"

"I knew where to find you and I was worried." He shifted the phone to his other hand so that he could tuck her hair behind her ear.

"Go home, Nick." She turned away before he could weave his magic around her once again.

"It isn't home if you're not there, Lynne." His voice dropped an octave and she could swear that he was crying, but she didn't dare look. Dammit, she didn't WANT to forgive him.

"I'm sorry I hurt you. I never thought about what it might be like to be the one sitting at home and not knowing. I saw the pictures and the emails, Lynne."

"No you didn't, I shut it off before I left." So there.

"No, you didn't, you left your computer on," he said with what sounded suspiciously like a grin.

"No I didn't, I-"

"Left it on like you always do when you get pissed off and try to shut it down the wrong way." Nick chuckled and turned off his cell phone. Moving closer to Lynne, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders. "If I tell you I know I was an asshole will you come home with me?"

"Why should I?"

"Because I love you. ONLY you. And even though what you see and hear is all a part of my life, I've never been unfaithful to you. I've never broken our vows."

"Nick-" she protested weakly.

"I mean it, Lynne. I promise I'll never let this happen again. Baby, please come home." He rested his face on her hair, kissing her gently as his hand squeezed her arm and held her tightly.

"You hurt me, Nick." Lynne's voice broke and she wiped away the new tears with her fingers.

"I know that now. Sweetheart if I could take it all back I would. I would do anything to make it better."

"Would you stay home?" She knew it was outrageously unfair and cruel to even ask this, but she also knew she needed an answer.

"Yes, I would." There was no hesitation as he answered her. "Lynne, I would give up all of this right now for you if that's what you want. I can live without the glitz but baby, I can't live without you."

"You mean that," she said with a look of wonder on her face.

He had no answer for her. His only proof was in the way he bent his head and touched his lips to hers. His kiss was gentle and reassuring, sweet in its restraint. Nick sighed as he felt her relax in his arms and deepened the kiss, just barely tracing her lips with the tip of his tongue.

God it was good. Lynne sighed as well, melting against him as he showed her with his touch just how much she meant to him. He felt so good and their bodies fit together perfectly. She ran her fingers through his newly shortened hair and wrapped her hand behind his neck. His hand grasped her hip to pull her closer and she whimpered into his mouth, straining to press her aching breasts against him.

"Lynne?" he asked, pulling back and trying to focus on her eyes.

"I love you, Nick," she whispered with a soft smile.

"Take me home, Lynne. Let me make love to you." He brushed his lips across hers and they both shivered, not only from the cool Gulf breeze.

Taking his hand, she stood, pulling him to his feet. Only then did she realize what he'd said.

"Wait, take you home? Nick, you followed me here."

Nick smiled and ducked his head. "No, Howie followed you here and dropped me off."


Nick shrugged. "Right after you left he stopped by. I'll probably have a black eye tomorrow," he said rubbing his face. "Let's just say that he had a pretty strong opinion about the way I'd been treating you."

"So you're here because of Howie?" Lynne backed away, fear settling over her like a shroud.

"No, baby," he said, taking her in his arms. "I'm here because I love you and I need you. I'd already figured that out before he showed up."

"And he just dropped you off here?"

"He said that if you didn't forgive me, then my ass deserved to freeze out here if you left without me."

Lynne looked up into the boyish face that concealed the man beneath, the one that loved her so well and so thoroughly, and suddenly it all didn't seem to matter anymore. What mattered was that she had someone that was willing to give it all up for her, and she knew in that instant that she'd never again ask it of him. "Let's go home, Nick. Take me home and make it better."


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