Chapter 37 – The Letter

Later that afternoon, the four of them were seated at the Chili’s not far from the house. Going out for lunch had seemed like a good idea until Brittany realized there were only two places she knew of in the area. The Chinese food restaurant she and Nick went to at Christmas and Chili’s.

She’d been outvoted, and Chili’s was where they had ended up.

Brittany thumbed through the menu, not really caring for much of the food they had. The only thing she ever ate there was the Awesome Blossom and whatever Nick ordered.

She tossed her menu on the table. “What’re you guys having?” she asked.

The others shrugged and rattled off what they were ordering. Nothing of which sounded appetizing to Brittany, but to be fair she wasn’t very hungry. She decided to just order whatever Danielle was having and looked at the others.

“Do you guys want to get an Awesome Blossom?” she asked, as though it was automatic. It wouldn’t have felt right to be at Chili’s and not order one.

“What?” Niall asked, looking at her.

“It’s like… an onion that they deep fry. And it folds out like a flower. It’s sort of gross, actually,” she admitted, shrugging her shoulders.

Danielle raised her eyebrow. “Well then why would you want to order one?”

“I don’t know,” she said, tracing the pattern on the table with her finger. “I just felt like I should.”

The rest of them stayed silent, and Niall put his arm around Brittany lovingly. She glanced up at him and gave him a half smile, resting her head on his shoulder for a minute.

She couldn’t help but feel guilty. Nick had made his feelings about Niall quite clear – well back when they’d gone on the cruise anyway. And again in London, she was sure of it. As the day went on, she was beginning to worry more about Nick’s feelings towards the situation. After all, if her kissing Niall had caused him to flip out, how would he have reacted if he’d known she’d slept with him in his house?

She glanced around and suddenly felt very awkward sitting in Chili’s with Niall’s arm around her and Danielle and Liam across from her. Almost as if Nick was watching her.

It wasn’t the most pleasant feeling, and Brittany moved her head off of Niall’s shoulder and sat up straight in her seat.

“You okay?” Danielle asked her, almost knowingly.

“Yeah, fine,” Brittany said quickly, taking a sip of her water. It did little the curb the sick feeling in her stomach. But before she had a chance to say anything else, her cell phone rang. “Uh, sorry,” she said, reaching into her purse and grabbing it. She raised an eyebrow – recognizing the number as Kevin’s.

“I’ve gotta take this,” she said. She stood up and headed out the door, knowing her friends would understand. Besides, the last time Kevin had called her – no, the only time Kevin had called her had been to inform her of Nick’s death. So it had to be important.

“Hello?” she answered, once she exited the restaurant and was standing off to the side.

“Hi Brittany,” Kevin said. His voice was soft, and not as distraught as it had been the last time they’d talked. “How are you doing?”

“I’m okay,” she said. It wasn’t entirely a lie. She missed Nick, but she was happy to be back together with Niall. Her emotions were all over the place and she didn’t know what she was supposed to be feeling. “How’re you?”

“I’m doing alright, thanks,” he said. “We went through Nick’s will with his lawyer today and he left you a few things.”

Brittany raised her eyebrow. Nick had never mentioned anything to her about being put in his will. Then again, it wasn’t exactly something they’d talked about. “Oh?”

“Yeah, he left you some money, and he left you his house in Malibu.”

Brittany’s eyes widened. She didn’t say anything, and Kevin continued talking.

“There are some legal issues to work out with that though… can you come to LA next week?”

“Uh,” she stammered. Yes, she supposed she could go back to LA. She hadn’t really talked about it with Niall or the others, but it made sense, considering they were going back there. “Yeah, I’ll be back there on Monday.”

“Okay,” Kevin replied. “If you could just bring the deed to the house… it’s in the safe, I think.”

Brittany nodded, then realized that Kevin couldn’t see her. “Uh, yeah, sure. I’ll send you an e-mail with the information on the lawyer’s office. Oh and Brittany?”

“Yeah?”

“Take care,” he said, and she could very nearly hear his comforting smile over the phone.

“Thanks,” she said, smiling a little as well. “You too.”

She hung up and took a breath as she walked back into the restaurant. Food was the last thing on her mind as she sat back down at the table. “Sorry,” she muttered, looking apologetically at the others.

“It’s fine,” Niall said quickly. “Who was on the phone?”

“Uh,” Brittany said, shifting in her seat. “That was Kevin. He said they went through Nick’s will and that he left me the house.”

“Wow,” Liam said looking around at the others. “That was nice of him.”

“Yeah,” Brittany nodded. She couldn’t really argue with that. “But I need to go get the deed and do some legal stuff in LA next week. And… I guess the deed’s in the safe.”

“So you’ll be coming with us back to LA then,” Niall said, looking at her hopefully.

“Yeah,” she nodded. “I guess I will.”

***

Once they were back at the house, Brittany stood in front of the safe with her hands on her hips.

Nick had never given her the password – he’d never needed to. It wasn’t like she ever would have needed to get into it. But she knew Nick well, and she knew his alarm systems codes to the home – so this couldn’t be too hard to figure out, right?

He never had been one for random numbers. His passwords were usually a word that made sense, something that he liked, something that he didn’t think anyone would ever guess.

So she took a deep breath. First, she tried B-U-C-S, which had been the (completely insecure) code to his gate before she’d made him change it.

Then she tried T-A-M-P-A. Nothing. B-A-C-K-S-T-R-R-E-E-T. Nothing. L-A-U-R-E-N. Nothing.

She rolled her eyes and put her head in her hands. What was something that Nick would use as his password that would be simple enough for him to remember, but difficult for anyone possibly breaking into the house to guess?

C-H-I-L-I-S.

Much to Brittany’s surprise, the safe unlocked. Again, she rolled her eyes a little. Of course that had been the code. Not many people knew about his love of Chili’s. She opened the small door and there, sitting right at the front was the deed to the house. She grinned and pulled it out.

But before she closed the door, something sitting close to the back of the safe caught her eye. It sparkled a little, and when Brittany glanced closer, her eyes grew wide.

She reached to the back, and attached to an envelope with her name on it sat the bracelet Niall had given her so many years ago at Madison Square Garden. The bracelet that she’d given Nick to throw into the ocean so she could begin to move on with her life.

She clutched it tightly, closed the safe back up and walked downstairs to where the others were sitting.

“Hey Brittany,” Danielle said with a smile, looking up at her from her seat on the couch. “Did you get into the safe alright?”

“Uh,” Brittany said, glancing around. She hadn’t the faintest idea what would be in that letter, why Nick had saved her bracelet, and why of all places it was in the safe.

“What’s wrong?” Niall asked, looking at her with concern.

She placed the deed to the house down on the coffee table, and she handed the letter to Niall. “This.”

Niall furrowed his eyebrows as he looked at it. After a couple of seconds, he realized what it was. “I gave this to you.”

“I know.”

The room was silent for a moment. Niall was staring at the bracelet and envelope in his hands. Brittany was looking down at it as well, waiting for his reaction. Danielle and Liam watched the two of them intently.

“I don’t understand, why did he have this?” Niall asked quietly. He wasn’t upset – just confused. It didn’t make sense – either Brittany would have kept it after they’d broken up, or she wouldn’t have. But for Nick to have had it?

Brittany shrugged a little, sitting down next to him. “He told me I had to get rid of it,” she explained “Because I was having a really hard time getting over… what happened with us,” she continued, choosing her words carefully. Despite how long ago it had been, she’d just gotten back together with Niall the night before. Things were still a little awkward.

Niall just looked at her, still thumbing over the small diamonds on the chain.

Brittany took a deep breath. “I couldn’t do it… so I gave it to him to get rid of. But I guess he didn’t,” she said dumbly, looking down.

“What’s in the envelope?” Danielle asked, looking over at them.

“I don’t know,” Brittany said quietly, and somewhat nervously. What sort of thing would be in there that Nick would think would be important enough to tape the bracelet to? “I haven’t opened it.”

“You want to?” Niall asked, holding it out to her.

Brittany glanced down at it. She wasn’t sure she did, to be honest. “I don’t know.”

No one was going to tell Brittany otherwise – it was her right to grieve how she wanted, after all. Still, everyone in the room was curious as to what was in the envelope. Brittany glanced at Niall. “Can you open it?”

He looked at her, but he didn’t question her request. He gently took the bracelet off the envelope and handed it to Brittany, who clutched it tightly. Niall began to rip the envelope open, but then thought differently. “Wait a minute,” he said, taking the bracelet back from Brittany and motioning for her to hold out her wrist.

She did. He clasped the old piece of jewelry around it and smiled at her. He leaned in and kissed her lips softly.

Brittany smiled at him. His presence and support throughout all of this was what was keeping her going. She didn’t know what she would have done without him, and even now looking at him and sitting next to him, she didn’t know how she’d even survived the past six years without talking to him.

Her heart skipped at beat a little as Niall opened the envelope. Inside was a single sheet of paper, which Niall unfolded and glanced at. “It’s a letter,” he said, handing it to Brittany.

That was what she’d been afraid of. “I can’t,” she said, shaking her head. To think that she’d gotten back together with Niall, and that now she’d have to read Nick’s awful thoughts about him (she was sure that was what the letter was about, given the bracelet had been taped to it, and all.) wasn’t something she was sure she could handle.

“You should read it,” Danielle pressed, and Liam gave her a bit of a look. “What?” Danielle asked. “You should. You’ve found it, and if you don’t read it, you’ll never know what he said.”

Brittany nodded. She knew Danielle was right. Not knowing would be worse – because she’d constantly be worrying about what it had said, and anything she made up in her mind would probably he far worse than what was actually on that sheet of paper. “Okay,” she said slowly. “But… can you read it?” she asked, looking at Niall.

He nodded, looking back down at the letter. He glanced over it and then looked at Brittany. “It’s nothing bad,” he assured her. Then he began to read the words that Nick had written to her, while Brittany leaned her head on the back of the couch and watched him.

Brittany,

Since you’re reading this it means I must have kicked the bucket, because there’s no way I would have ever given this to you if I was still around. Ever since that fucking heart attack I’ve felt like shit. The doctors said I was okay other than whatever other heart problems I had but I don’t know… I think they’re wrong. I guess I always sorta knew I was gonna die young. Been through too much shit in my life for me to live a long and happy one, you know?

I guess you also know by now that you’ve got the Malibu house. That’s probably how you found this, cause you had to go in and get the deed. I know how much you like it there. I hope you keep it, but if you want to sell it, that’s okay.

You’re probably also wondering why that bracelet was taped to this. Yeah, sorry about that. I know you wanted me to get rid of it, and I don’t know why I didn’t at the time. I almost threw it but then I didn’t. I just put it in my pocket and saved it. I thought if you ever got back together with him you might want it.

But you never did, and I was really proud of you for that. You came into your own and did your own career and music. You went on without him and did your own thing, and I’m proud of you. I never actually told you that, but I am.

I guess the reason I’m writing this is because I know that you still love him. It’s pretty easy to tell that you do. That’s why I got so mad at you for kissing him. It’s like… you’re ready to move on and grow up, but I don’t think I am. I thought about you with him, and I know we’re not dating or whatever, but I didn’t want you to ditch me for him, you know? I’m happy to have you as my best friend… but I guess if you’re reading this, you don’t have me anymore.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is… you should go be with him. I never would have said this to you before but I’m saying it now. I want you to be happy and I think with him you would be. I know you don’t want to admit it to me and that’s cool but I really think he still loves you. He did when we were in London anyway… ha!

But seriously… I know what it’s like to spend your whole life being miserable because you’ve got too much fucking pride. You deserve to be happy. I don’t know if you’re sad and miss me, but maybe if you reconcile with him you’ll feel better.

Nick

The room was silent after that. Niall turned and looked at Brittany, as did Liam and Danielle.

“He doesn’t know if I’m sad and miss him?” Brittany whispered, her voice cracking. “How could he not know? How could he not think I’d be devastated?” She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and looked down at the couch.

It was difficult for her to focus on the fact that Nick was obviously okay with her getting back together with Niall when it was clear he hadn’t known how much he had meant to her.

Niall leaned over to hug her, and she gratefully accepted. She clung to him for a moment before pulling away. “I’m sure he knew,” Niall said softly, but his words did little to console her. He didn’t know Nick the way she had.

Even though she hadn’t been in love with him, he had to have known what he’d meant to her as a friend. Nick’s explanation made sense as to why he’d gotten so upset – he’d been sick and he hadn’t wanted her to leave him when he’d needed her the most. But she still couldn’t understand how Nick could have even thought that was a possibility.

“At least you know he’s okay with you and Nialler,” Danielle said softly.

“Yeah.” She supposed that much was true, but she didn’t really want to think about it anymore. It was making her far too upset. “Do you guys just want to watch a movie or something? Nick had tons,” she said, motioning to the shelving unit on the other side of the room.

Liam nodded and went to go grab a disc out of the collection. Brittany leaned her head on Niall’s shoulder once they’d started watching whatever movie he’d chosen.

She tried not to focus on Nick’s obvious insecurity about their friendship. Instead, she chose to enjoy the company of her boyfriend, because despite all of her grief and confusion over Nick, she was glad he was there with her.

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