Chapter 11 – The New Beginning

The final deck party of the cruise was easily the most wild.

First of all, it was the dreaded carnival theme, which Brittany still hadn’t known how to dress for. She’d opted for the most casual of clothes – a pair of shorts, a t-shirt and sandals. But really, it was the ambiance that made it.

The boys were busy passing out cotton candy, playing silly carnival games and of course, drinking.

Brittany was just thankful there was no roller coaster on the boat. Though, she was surprised she and Nick hadn’t made it up to the water slide given his love for them. She smiled to herself, thinking that they’d just have to save that for the next cruise.

And just as soon as she thought of that, she frowned a little. Despite the personal drama she’d been having, she’d actually had a decent amount of fun on the cruise. More fun than she likely would have had just moping around in LA, anyway.

She looked over at Nick again, who seemed to be deep in conversation with Howie about something or other. She noticed how close of a talker he was – not that she hadn’t noticed it the entire cruise, but she was thankful that his touchy-feelyness wasn’t exclusive to her when he was drunk.

“Brittany!” Kevin said, coming over to her, wearing a grin on his face. “What are you doing all the way over here?”

She shrugged. “Just taking it all in.”

He still wore that same mischievous grin. “Well come on, it’s the last night of the cruise. Drink up! What’s your shot?”

“Um…” she said, unsure of how to respond. This was the first time one of the other members of the group had really paid her any attention, and she was quite sure it was just because he was drunk. At least he was being friendly about it.

Nick’s head shot up from his conversation with Howie and he glanced over at Brittany and Kevin. “Get her an Irish Car Bomb,” he laughed loudly.

Brittany rolled her eyes and Nick’s idiotic suggestion. Kevin gave her a look. “What?”

“Nothing,” she said, trying to maintain her amused look but still cracking a smile.

Nick walked over to them, a stupid grin on his face. “Come on, Britt, we’ll do them together,” he laughed, draping his arm around her, as he had just been doing with Howie. “It’s like…a toast,” he said, walking over to the bar.

Kevin raised his eyebrow and Brittany looked up at him, laughing awkwardly. It was probably a good thing Nick was getting her a drink, because she was beginning to think she could use it.

“Here,” Nick said, handing one of the glasses to her, and clinking his own against it. “To getting over it.”

She looked at the drink in her hands. Though Nick was undoubtedly drunk, his heart was in the right place.

Well, except for the car bomb part.

“To getting over it,” she grinned, as they drank to their mutual theme for the weekend.

***

The boat docked early the next morning, and the fans were let off of it before the boys were. Brittany looked out the window of the room. There was Miami, right in front of her. It was hard for her to believe that the cruise was over.

Nick was already up, stuffing all of his things that had been scattered around the room into his suitcase. “Morning,” he said, when he noticed Brittany was finally awake.

“Morning,” she said, sitting up and rubbing her eyes. “Time to go?”

“Just about,” Nick replied, pressing down on his suitcase in an effort to zip it up. “I can never get these damn things re-packed,” he muttered.

“Here,” Brittany said, getting out of bed and going over to help him. She opened up his suitcase and rolled her eyes at what she saw. “Well that’s why. You just threw everything in here without folding it.”

Nick shrugged. “That’s how I packed it at home too.”

Brittany just shook her head. “I’m going to have a shower before we have to get off the boat. I promise you that if you fold it, it’ll fit,” she nodded at him, grabbing some of her own clothes and walking into the bathroom.

Sure enough, when she was done with her shower and dressed, Nick’s suitcase was neatly zipped up.

“The folding worked, I take it?”

“Yeah.”

She laughed. “I told you so.”

There was a knock at the door and Nick went to open it. “Hey,” he said, when he saw that it was Kevin.

“Hey, ready to go? They’re ready for us to deboard.”

Nick glanced back at Brittany. “Ready to go back to the real world?” he asked with a smirk.

It was an innocent enough question, but Brittany hadn’t quite thought of it like that. The real world meant responsibilities and having to actually deal with what had happened. And yet… it also meant no more having to plan out trips to Europe, she was now free to do what she wanted with her free time and focus on her career.

Now, the phrase ‘the real world’ meant whatever she wanted it to. And it was refreshing.

“Yes,” she said with a grin, grabbing the handle of her suitcase. “Let’s go.”

They joined up with the rest of the group to leave the boat and Brittany slipped her hand in her pocket and turned on her phone. Two text messages came through.

Danielle Peazer: niall saw pictures of you and nick on the cruise and he’s pissed off. I tried to talk him down but if you get texts from him…sorry.

Niall Horan: looks like u already moved on… i thought id give u a chance to explain but if u dont answer this right away im gonna say on twitter that we broke up because your makin me look stupid

Brittany rolled her eyes, but she didn’t answer his text message. As far as she was concerned, he could do what he wanted. He was clearly aware she was on the boat and had no way of texting him back or even receiving that.

“What’s happening on twitter?” Nick asked her as they walked over the bridge from the boat back into the building.

“I don’t know,” she replied honestly, putting her phone back in her pocket. She couldn’t be bothered to check twitter. Not when she knew it was just going to be questions about her relationship spurred on by whatever passive-aggressive message her ex-boyfriend had posted. “Didn’t check it.”

Nick nodded, looking out at the Miami skyline. It had been an interesting weekend – not uneventful, that was for sure. But it had been better than he’d expected. He looked back down at Brittany, glad he had brought her with him. She’d made him feel better about Lauren, and not just because she’d been there to distract him as he’d originally planned.

It seemed the cruise had done something to strengthen their bond. Or maybe even created one that hadn’t been there before.

“Come on,” he said, draping his arm around her. “Let’s go back to LA and write some songs about him for your album that you’ll tell everyone you wrote a year ago.”

She laughed, looking forward to getting back in the studio and starting her new life. “Sounds good.”

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