Chapter 33 – The Call

Danielle rested against the headboard of her hotel room bed, waiting for Liam to come back. They’d just arrived in LA that day, as One Direction was going to begin working on their first new album in a couple years. She looked at the clock on the beside table. He was due back any minute now, so she continued to watch the news.

“Some rather sad news in entertainment this evening. Backstreet Boy Nick Carter, 39 years old, was found dead in his Nashville home two nights ago.”

Danielle’s eyes widened as she watched the screen. She sat up a little, concentrating a bit more.

Clips of Nick in various Backstreet Boys videos flashed across the screen. I Want It That Way of course, More Than That, As Long As You Love Me and Quit Playing Games. These were all songs Danielle knew well, and even though she’d met Nick before, and he was a close part of one of her best friend’s lives, that pre-teen Backstreet Boys fan inside of her wept a little at this news.

Of course, that was the moment Liam decided to enter the room.

“Hey Dani,” he said with a smile, walking over to kiss her on the cheek. “We’re going to go out for dinner.”

“Shhhh…” Danielle silenced him, pointing to the TV.

“Nick was a member of the Backstreet Boys ever since 1993, and the group stayed together until a few years ago. Since then he’d been working on solo projects, as well as working with the acts under his record label, Kaotic. One of whom, is the multi-platnium selling artist, Brittany Cooper. He’d kept up with a healthy lifestyle, but had been battling heart problems since 2009. The cause of death is currently suspected to be a heart attack.”

“Oh my God,” Danielle breathed. “She must be devastated.”

Liam put his arm around Danielle in an effort to comfort her. He didn’t really know Nick very well – he’d only met him a couple of times, but of course the news was sad. Particularly because of the connection Danielle had to him through Brittany.

“Liam,” Niall said, walking into the room through the door that was still open. “Let’s go. You said you’d grab Dani and we’d go right away, and I’m hungry,” he babbled, not really paying attention to the serious scene that was in front of him.

“Niall,” Liam said, looking at him cautiously, and motioning towards Danielle, who was sitting there in near shock.

Niall furrowed his eyebrows. “What happened?”

“Nick’s dead,” Danielle mumbled bluntly, looking up at him.

“What, Grimmy?” he asked, glancing at Liam in confusion over the possibility that a close friend of the group had passed away.

“No,” Danielle said, rolling her eyes a little and pointing to the TV screen, which was now playing the full video for Incomplete.

“Oh,” Niall said, stuffing his hands in his pockets and feeling slightly guilty. He hadn’t been overly fond of Nick, but the news was still sad nonetheless. Plus he felt bad for Brittany, unable to imagine what she must have been going through.

“I’m going to call her,” Danielle said, standing up and pulling her phone out of her purse. “I can’t believe she didn’t tell me.”

Liam and Niall watched awkwardly as Danielle dialled Brittany’s number and waited for her to answer.

The phone rang a few times, but finally, Brittany picked up.

“Hi Dani,” came Brittany’s voice from the other end of the line. It wasn’t as nearly as cheerful as it had been the last time Danielle had talked to her. Which had just been about a week prior.

“Hi,” Danielle said soothingly. “Why didn’t you call me? I’m so sorry, love.”

“Thanks.”

Danielle shook her head slightly. She felt awful for her friend. “I’m in LA now, I know we were going to meet up in a couple of days, but I can come see you now if you’d like.”

“I’m not in LA.”

Danielle furrowed her eyebrows. She was sure Brittany had told her she was going to be in LA for the next couple of weeks. “Where are you, then?”

“I’m at Nick’s house in Malibu,” she said softly.

Danielle nodded, even though Brittany couldn’t see her. It made sense. She’d always loved going there, and often spoke fondly of the times that she and Nick had spent there together, or even the time she’d spent there alone. It wasn’t surprising that was where she’d gone to grieve. “Well, maybe I could come out there for a couple of days and see you.”

“No, that’s okay,” Brittany said quickly. “You don’t have to do that. I don’t want to take your time away from Liam.”

Danielle glanced over at Liam. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”

“No, really, you should spend time with him while you can.”

Danielle sighed a little, understanding Brittany’s view and not wanting to press it. Of course that was the way she would be thinking – she probably wished she’d spent more time with Nick while she could have. “Okay,” Danielle said slowly, and looked over at Liam. “Well, I’m sure Liam wouldn’t mind coming down to Malibu with me for a couple of days over the weekend to visit you,” she said, eyeing her husband. “You know, so you’re not there all by yourself.”

Brittany was silent for a moment. “Sure. You can stay here. There’s lots of room.”

Danielle smiled. “We’ll come down this weekend, then.”

“Okay,” she paused. “Thanks, Dani.”

“No problem, love.”

She hung up the phone and looked over at Liam. “Looks like we’re going to Malibu this weekend,” she said with a sigh. It wasn’t out of exasperation. More out of sadness.

“Looks like,” Liam said. “How is she?”

Danielle shrugged. “She’s acting like she’s fine, but she’s really not, you know how she keeps it inside. Nick was the only person she let in, really. She’s going to be so lost without him.” She glanced up at Niall, and all of a sudden her expression changed to a much more hopeful one. “You should come with us to Malibu,” she said, a smile creeping up on her face.

Niall gave her an unimpressed look. The last time he’d seen Brittany had been in New York. He hadn’t really spoken to her since then, because despite effectively telling her he wanted to remain friends, he wasn’t so sure he could do that. Plus, she hadn’t tried to get into contact with him at all, so he wasn’t so sure she even wanted any sort of relationship with him.

Especially since she’d gotten drunk and kissed him. He was sure she’d probably woken up the next morning and regretted that.

“No,” he said, shaking his head slightly.

“What?” Danielle asked him, nearly in shock. “Why not? I bet she’d like to see you.”

Niall continued to give Danielle a look of disbelief. He couldn’t believe she was actually suggesting this. “I doubt it.”

“Oh come on,” Danielle said, rolling her eyes a little and looking over at Liam for support. He just shrugged, and Danielle went back to her explanation. “You said the same thing about New York. That she wouldn’t want to see you and look what ended up happening. You went out, had a good time, she kissed you and she invited you back up to her room.”

“She told you about that?!” he exclaimed. The entire world knew about their kiss, but he’d kept the rest of the events of that evening relatively secret.

Danielle rolled her eyes. “Of course she told me about that, I’m her best friend.”

“And?” Niall pressed, suddenly very interested in hearing what Brittany had had to say about that entire situation.

“And what?” Danielle shrugged, looking at him in slight annoyance. “We didn’t talk a lot about it because she was also dealing with a lot of other stuff. She just said that you guys didn’t do it. Probably because you thought you’d be taking advantage of her.”

Niall just nodded. That was exactly why he hadn’t slept with her. “Yeah,” he said. “I wasn’t going to take advantage of her then, and I’m not going to do it now.”

“It’s not taking advantage,” Danielle protested. “It’s like I told you when you were in New York – sometimes in bad situations you want to see an old friend to make things better. You’re not taking advantage of her if she wants to see you.”

“We don’t even know if she wants to see me,” he said.

Danielle shrugged, giving him a look as she dialled Brittany’s number again and put her phone to her ear. “Guess there’s only one way to find out, isn’t there?”

“Hey…again,” Brittany said awkwardly.

“Right, hi,” Danielle replied, still looking at Niall. “Niall wants to come out to Malibu too.”

“Danielle!” Niall whispered harshly, glaring at her.

Danielle just held her hand up to silence him as she listened to Brittany on the other end of the line.

“I’m sure he said that,” Brittany scoffed. “You’re making that up.”

“I’m not!” Danielle lied. “He really does want to come out and see you. If that’s alright with you?”

Brittany was silent for a moment. “Yeah, I guess.”

Danielle gave Niall a thumbs up, and he just rolled his eyes at how fabricated this entire thing was.

“Well, I guess we’ll rent a car-” Danielle continued, but Brittany interrupted her.

“No, no,” Brittany protested. “I’ll come pick you up in LA.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, it’s fine. When should I come get you?”

“Uh,” Danielle said, looking over at the boys. “Friday at around 6?”

Liam and Niall exchanged a glance and nodded at her.

“Yeah,” Brittany said. “That’s fine. You’re at the Four Seasons, right?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay, I guess I’ll see you, Liam…and Niall then.”

“See you then.” Danielle hung up the phone and looked over at the two boys. “Well, I guess she’s alright with it.”

“Yeah,” Niall said, giving her a look. “Just so you know, you’re a horrible person for using the fact that Nick died to try and get the two of us back together.”

“I’m not,” Danielle said, taking Liam’s hand and leading him out of the hotel room. She looked at him for support, but he just shook his head, opting to stay silent as she continued to slightly argue with his best friend. “I’m really not. It’s just that she’s alone and she probably needs you. You’re alone, and as much as you don’t want to admit it, you need her. And if you’re so worried about the fact that Nick died, he probably wouldn’t want her to be all by herself,” she said gently.

“Somehow I don’t think that he would want me to be the solution to that,” Niall muttered, looking at the ground.

“Well,” Danielle said softly. “There’s not much he can really do about it now, is there? I mean, it sounds a little bit harsh, but it’s true. Look, I just don’t want her to be sad, and I really do think that if she saw you, it’d cheer her up. If I thought this was going to cause drama, I wouldn’t have even suggested it. But you got on fine in New York. You don’t even have to do anything, you can just be there to support her.”

He sighed, and just nodded in response to her. Despite the fact that Niall was sure Danielle’s heart was in the right place, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy. So he just continued to silently follow behind Liam and Danielle as the two of them got wrapped up in another conversation.

He pulled out his phone and decided to send off a quick text to Brittany.

Niall Horan: sorry about nick. Dani was really insistent that I come with her and liam to visit you.

Almost instantly, her reply came through.

Brittany Cooper: Thanks. And I know she’s just trying to help. See you guys on Friday.

Niall frowned a little as he looked down at the screen. Her message was a far cry from her usual ones that were littered with emoticons. That was to be expected though – of course she wasn’t going to be in the best of moods.

He began to feel a little better about going to visit her. If nothing else, he hoped their company would help to cheer her up a bit.

Niall Horan: See you Friday.

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