Chapter 6 – The Age Gap

Brittany awoke the next morning to a loud thumping on the door.

“What’s that?” she mumbled, rolling over to face where Nick’s was sleeping.

“That,” Nick muttered, pulling the covers off from over his head and rolling over so he was on his back. “Is Kevin.”

Brittany glanced over to the door and wondered what she should do.

“Nick!” Kevin shouted through the door with a laugh. “Get up! I know you forgot to set an alarm, so this is the early morning wake up call that you requested, lil bro!” His tone wasn’t angry, more that of a friend taunting another friend for something silly he’d said the night before.

Nick stretched his arms out and yawned before throwing the covers off himself and getting out of bed. “Nothing ever changes,” he muttered to himself as he walked over to the bathroom. “Been in this group twenty-one years and Kevin’s still banging on my door.”

Brittany heard the door to the bathroom shut as she stared up at the ceiling.

Sometimes she forgot how much older Nick was than her. Not when they were working, but anytime they had just gone to hang out, it slipped her mind. But there it was, right in front of her. She was as old as the group Nick was a part of. It was hard for her to wrap her head around.

She sat up on bed and looked around the room before grabbing her phone off the bedside table. There were still no messages, and for that, she was thankful. Not caring to log on to twitter, she set her phone back down.

She closed her eyes and relaxed for a few minutes before she heard Nick flush the toilet and open the bathroom door. He walked out of the bathroom and pulled a t-shirt from his duffel bag over his head. “Hey,” he said, looking over at her. “Do you think I need to shower?” he asked, running his hand through his hair and looking at himself in the mirror.

Brittany wrinkled her nose. His hair was matted down and had stayed put when he’d run his hand through it. She was sure it still had leftover product in it from the night before. Why was he even asking that question? Shouldn’t it have been a given, since he’d been at that club the night before and was about to get on a boat filled with a bunch of his fans? “Uh, yeah,” she said as though it was obvious. Of course he needed to shower!

He glanced back at her, giving her a sly grin. “Do you want to shower with me?”

She was sure she looked at him in horror, but then she quickly realized he must have been joking. He had to have been joking. She didn’t want to think that all the things Rochelle had said about him the night before were true. “I’ll pass, thanks.”

Nick just laughed. His bad attempt at a joke had fooled her for a couple seconds at least. “I was kidding anyway.”

But Brittany raised her eyebrow a little, unable to resist the urge to tease him. “And what would you have done if I’d said yes?”

Nick shrugged, pulling his shirt over his head once again. “I’d have done it. I’m a trooper.” He tossed the shirt back onto the ground and walked back into the bathroom, closing the door and turning on the water.

Brittany sighed to herself. She had no idea what she was getting herself into. In between Rochelle’s comments the night before and Nick’s that morning, she was starting to wonder if she was in over her head.

***

The ride to the dock had been fairly uneventful. Everyone had been tired and was quiet. Brittany had sat with Nick, who had sat near Kevin and Kristin. It seemed weird to her to talk to them – she didn’t really know what to say. If she thought Nick was older than her, everyone else in the group was older still. She had no idea how to relate to these people.

As she sat in the cruise boarding area waiting for Nick to get it set up so she could board with him, she scrolled through the contacts on her phone. She actually hadn’t realized how much she’d depended on her relationship with Niall. All of her friends were connected to him.

While she thought about this, her phone buzzed in her hand.

Danielle Peazer.

Brittany bit her lip and glanced around. No one seemed to be paying any attention to her. She figured she may as well get this call with Danielle over with before she was without cell reception for three days.

“Hello…” she said wearily.

“As if you just took off without saying anything to me!” Danielle said in exasperation. “And then you didn’t call, or anything. Are you okay? Tell me what happened.”

Brittany furrowed her eyebrows. Was it possible that Danielle didn’t hate her? “Um, what?”

“You didn’t even say goodbye. Or call, or anything. I’ve been so worried about you! I wanted to give you your space, but come on, talk to me.”

Brittany sighed, feeling slightly relieved that Danielle still seemed to want to be her friend. “Are you around the boys at all?”

“No,” Danielle said quickly. “They’ve all gone out. That’s why I called you.”

“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” Brittany mumbled. She was sure that when the boys were around there was nothing but trash talk about her. Especially from Harry. She rolled her eyes. That was one thing she supposed she could be thankful for – never having to deal with him again.

“So what happened? You left so suddenly.”

“What?” she asked with a slight roll of her eyes. “You mean Niall didn’t tell you?”

“He hasn’t said much of anything, really,” Danielle said honestly.

Brittany sighed. “Let me guess. After I left Harry was super quick to tell you guys the whole story, and how I was a total hypocrite, and Niall’s just been moping around.”

“Well, yeah,” Danielle said sheepishly. “Niall did tell Harry to shut up, though.”

“Impressive,” Brittany said bitterly.

Danielle was silent for a moment. “So you’re not going to call him or anything? That’s it for you guys?” she asked softly.

Brittany glanced around to make sure no one was listening to her. They weren’t, and Nick was still standing at the service desk. “He cheated on me, Dani,” she whispered sadly.

“Yeah, I know,” Danielle replied. “But Britt, you should see him. He’s so sad, and he’s really sorry. He loves you so much.”

“I don’t care,” Brittany said with annoyance, but of course it was a lie.

“I think you do.”

Brittany rolled her eyes. No matter how much she cared and how much she knew she still loved him, her pride wouldn’t let her go back to him. She still seethed with rage whenever she thought about it, and didn’t think she could ever go back to trusting him the way she had before. “Did you just call me to convince me to call him?”

“No, I didn’t,” Danielle replied. “I really just wanted to make sure you were okay. I’m going to miss you around here.”

“Thanks,” Brittany said softly. “I’ll miss you too.”

“So did you just go home then?” Danielle asked, changing the subject slightly.

“Uh…” Brittany said, looking over to where Nick was standing, and wondering if she should tell Danielle where she actually was. “I did… but now I’m in Miami.”

“Miami? What are you doing in Miami?” Danielle asked in surprise.

Brittany bit her lip. “Going on a cruise.”

“What? How’d you manage to book a cruise this late? Where are you going?”

Brittany sighed, figuring she may as well tell Danielle. She was probably going to find out eventually anyway. “I’m going on the Backstreet Boys cruise. Nick invited me.”

There was a pause. “Nick invited you?” Danielle asked. “That was nice of him.”

“Yeah, I know…” Brittany trailed off, looking up at Nick. He glanced over at her, and motioned for her to join him where he was standing with the clerk. She gave him a look, but he continued to wave her over. “Hey, I gotta get going, I think we’re going to board soon.”

“Okay,” Danielle replied. “Have fun Britt… you deserve it.”

“Thanks,” Brittany said, smiling a little. She did deserve it, after all the crap she’d been through and she was glad that Danielle agreed with her. “I’ll call you when it’s over.”

“I hope so, you’ll have to tell me everything!”

“I will, bye Dani.”

“Talk soon.”

Brittany tapped the end call button and walked over to where Nick was standing. “What’s up?”

“You need to fill out some stuff,” Nick said, sliding a couple papers over to her. “Also, the cruise is sold out, so you have to stay in my room. Don’t worry, it’s a big room and it’s got two beds in it and everything.”

Brittany shrugged. She’d stayed in the hotel room with him, and that hadn’t been so bad. “That’s fine,” she said, filling out the papers while Nick leaned back against the counter, watching her.

“Are you serious?” he asked at one point, looking down at the paper.

“What?” she asked, not having a clue what he was talking about. How many ways were there to fill out a form?

“Is that actually your birthday?” he asked, pointing at the date she’d written down on the form. April 20th, 1993.

“Uh, yeah,” She said, glancing up at him. She was unable to read the look his disbelief that he was giving her. “What?”

“Nothing,” Nick muttered. He leaned up against the counter again and stared up at the ceiling fans, trying to distract himself from how old he felt.

Eventually Brittany finished filling out the forms and was granted her Sign & Sail card. They sat in the waiting area for a little while longer before they boarded the ship. Again, Brittany glanced around. It felt strange, being with all of these people and not knowing any of them. It wasn’t at all the experience she was used to.

And after talking to Danielle, she missed everyone in the other group even more.

“Do you know the answer?” Nick asked, snapping Brittany back to reality.

“What?”

Nick pointed upwards. “They’re playing Backstreet trivia over the intercom. Do you know the answer?”

She gave him a look. “I didn’t even hear the question.”

Nick laughed. “What was our first single?”

Brittany shrugged. She actually didn’t know the answer to that, but she figured it couldn’t be too hard to guess. “I Want It That Way.”

Nick gaped at her. “Are you kidding?” he asked. “Our first single was not I Want It That Way. That was on our third album! Third!”

“Oops,” Brittany grinned sheepishly. She had no idea. “What was it?”

“We’ve Got It Goin’ On,” Nick told her, nodding his head. “And you know who didn’t get to sing on it because his voice cracked too much?”

Brittany stifled a giggle. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was you.”

“Damn right it was me.”

A few trivia questions later, and the ship was ready for the boys and their crew to board. Brittany walked beside Nick onto the ship and quickly followed him over to what would be their shared space for the next three days.

To say it was completely luxurious would be an understatement. It had its own balcony, two beds, a table in the middle, a couch and a flat screen TV. It was a lot nicer than some hotel rooms she’d been in and for a room on a boat, she was definitely impressed.

“So, what do you think?” Nick asked, dropping his bags onto the bed closest to the balcony.

“It’s nice,” she said with a nod of her head. “Thanks for bringing me, Nick,” she smiled.

“Hey, it’s no problem,” he winked, opening the doors and going to sit outside.

Brittany followed behind him. The view was spectacular. If this was what she was going to have to do to get over her break-up, she was perfectly okay with that.

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