In Pieces – Chapter 17

Ashleigh awoke the next morning to find the bed empty. Figuring that Nick was probably gone to a rehearsal or something to that effect, she rolled over and tried to go back to sleep.

That last about half an hour before Joey came knocking excitedly at her door. “Ash!” She said, once Ashleigh grudgingly let her in the room. “We’re in Canada, let’s go shopping! I want to go to have poutine, do you know what that is?”

“We have that at home.” Ashleigh said, flopping back down on the bed.

“Not as good though! Come on, let’s go find a mall.” She said, pulling Ashleigh out of bed.

“Ugh.” The last thing Ashleigh wanted to do was scour this strange city for somewhere to go shopping. She would have much rather slept until the show that night. They hadn’t gotten to the hotel until it was pretty late the night before. However, she knew that Joey wouldn’t accept “no” as an answer. “Okay. Just let me shower.” She said, walking in the direction of the bathroom.

An hour later, Ashleigh and Joey were walking down the streets of downtown Ottawa, in search of somewhere to find Joey her poutine. Finally, the two of them stepped into a Burger King.

“Are you sure you don’t want anything?” Joey asked as the stepped up to the counter. Ashleigh shrugged.

Joey giggled. “They might still have Backstreet Boys toys.”

Ashleigh rolled her eyes. “I have all of them.”

Joey frowned, Ashleigh was becoming less fun to hang around with every day. What was supposed to be a trip for the two of them, was quickly becoming Ashleigh spending every waking moment with Nick, and pouting when he wasn’t around. She ordered food for Ashleigh regardless, knowing that she would probably be hungry once they sat down.

Joey had been right. Though Ashleigh hadn’t thought she was hungry, she quickly devoured the food that had been placed in front of her. “Thanks for lunch, Joe.” She said with a smile. Maybe this day wouldn’t be so bad after all. Besides, she’d get to see Nick that night.

“No problem.” Joey grinned, glad her friend seemed to be in better sprits. “That was a fun game last night, wasn’t it?”

Ashleigh giggled. After spending the better part of yesterday evening playing I’ve Never she’d felt a little more comfortable around the rest of the Backstreet Boys. “Yeah! We should do stuff like that more.” She said.

Joey nodded. “We could if you and Nick would ever come out of your hotel room.” She quipped.

Ashleigh blushed. She and Nick did spend a lot of time in his room, and not a whole lot of time being social. She did feel a little guilty about that, but at the same time she felt justified. After all, she’d been obsessive about Nick Carter for most of her teenage life. “I can’t help it, he’s just that good!” She smirked.

Joey smiled. As much as she missed her friend, she was living her dream. She’d just have to accept the fact that while they were trailing the tour, Ashleigh’s attention would be focused on Nick. When they got home, things would be different.

While the girls enjoyed their afternoon shopping, the boys were doing some last minute rehearsals and sound check at the Corel Centre.

“Why didn’t you bring your girlfriend, Nicky?” Howie teased, as they took a short break.

Nick sighed. When he brought Ashleigh places with him, he got bitched at. When he didn’t, they asked him why. He was starting to get incredibly frustrated with the entire situation. Maybe it would have been easier to pick up a different girl each night like he’d been doing before.

No, but then the rest of the guys wouldn’t respect him. Not that they respected him much right now, it seemed. Nick didn’t really understand that. He didn’t see anything wrong with what she was doing. Plus, the nice thing about having Ashleigh around was the fact that she adored him. She made him feel wanted and not pathetic.

“She was sleeping when I left. I didn’t want to wake her.” He said, opening a water bottle and downing half of it.

Howie just nodded, unsure of what else he could say. Luckily, he didn’t have to think of anything else, as Leighanne quickly approached the two of them.

“Hey, Nick. Can I have a word with you for a minute?” She asked sweetly.

Nick eyed her. Leighanne never came over to talk to him. This must’ve been Brian’s doing. “Sure…” He said cautiously, and followed her to a private corner of the room.

“So, what’s going on, Nick?” She asked him, looking concerned. Yup, this was definitely Brian’s doing.

“Nothing.” He said, shrugging. It wasn’t exactly a lie, nothing was really going on at all. They did shows, he had sex with Ashleigh…oh, that might be why she was talking to him.

“Are you sure? Cause you seem to be acting weird lately. I was just wondering if you were all right.” She said, still giving him a look of concern.

Nick laughed a little. “You mean, Brian was wondering if I was all right.”

Leighanne didn’t falter. “You seem to be getting kind of serious with that Ashleigh girl.” She said cautiously, trying to ease into the topic without causing Nick to get defensive and angry.

Nick scoffed. Serious? Things with her were anything but. “It’s not serious.”

“Then what is it?” She asked him softly. “It isn’t like you to act this way with a girl, Nick. She’s not really your type-”

“She’s perfectly fine.” Nick spat, feeling the need to defend Ashleigh. Though it was true, she was hardly Nick’s type at all. In fact, fans like her thoroughly annoying him sometimes, acting overly at every little thing he did.

Leighanne sighed. She wasn’t getting anywhere with him at all. “Is this because you feel left out?” She asked quietly, and Nick glared at her. Bingo.

Nick crossed his arms. These constant interrogations were starting to annoy him. “I don’t see how this is any of your business.”

Leighanne made a final attempt to get through to him. “If you want a meaningful relationship, that’s fine.” She said, and when she got no response she continued. “But locking yourselves up in your hotel room isn’t really the way to do it.” She advised.

Nick considered her for a moment. Somehow, he accepted what she had to say quicker than he had with Kevin, or anyone else. Perhaps it was because she wasn’t talking to him a condescending manner. Still, he wasn’t really looking for a serious relationship. Of course, he wasn’t about to tell that to her. “Thanks, Leigh.” He said simply, not wanting to argue with her.

That night after the show, Nick entered his hotel room. He looked at Ashleigh, who was gleefully lying on his bed. His talk with Leigh had planted an idea in his head. If the way for him to earn the respect of the others was to come out of the room once in a while was all it took, he could do that. Besides, he was starving anyway.

“You have some nice clothes packed?” He asked her quickly, before stepping into the shower. She only nodded.

“Good. Get dressed. We’re going out.” He said.

“Should I tell Joey to get dressed too?” Ashleigh asked, jumping of the bed.

“No, no. It’s just us.”

Ashleigh was overjoyed. Anytime she and Nick had gone out in public together it had been in a group. Technically, this would be their first official date. She sighed with glee as she flopped back down onto the bed and waited for Nick to get ready.

Half an hour later, the two of them were sitting across from each other at the Empire Grill, a rather ritzy steakhouse in downtown Ottawa. Ashleigh felt nervous all over again. Even though she’d spent the last week with Nick, this was the first time they’d gone out together. Alone.

Nick was clueless as to what to say to her. She was sitting in front of him, staring at him in awe. He’d really only brought her here so that the others could see them leaving the hotel together. Once they had, he didn’t really have any need to have dinner with her. “So…are you going to school in the fall?” He asked, figuring that was a safe topic.

“Yeah…” She said, through school was the last thing she wanted to think about. Going back to school meant she was going to have to go home, that was certainly not something Ashleigh was looking forward to.

Nick shifted uncomfortably in his seat. She wasn’t helping at all with moving the conversation along. He tried again. “What are you taking?”

“Business. I didn’t know what to take, and you know, everyone takes commerce, so yeah… it should be fun, I guess.” She shrugged.

Nick nodded. He didn’t know anything about what she was talking about. “That’s cool. I never even went to high school.”

Ashleigh shrugged. “High school’s boring anyway. It’s just a bunch of pointless football games and dances. It wasn’t really that cool.” She said, which was half true. By the time she was almost done, she couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Nick smirked. “But I bet you were a cheerleader, weren’t you?”

Ashleigh blushed. She adored his cocky half smile. “Yeah… but only because I got half a credit for being on a sports team! Most of the girls were cheerleaders, we had like 30 people on the team. We rotated for games and stuff.”

Nick nodded, and listened to her babble on about her cheerleading. He had to admit, she was cute. Though he would have much rather been back in his room with her than out to dinner. That was just going to have to wait until after dinner, he figured. He smiled at her as she continued to talk, happy that she’d finally found something to say so he didn’t have to attempt to carry on the conversation. He was content just to listen to her, this dinner had served it’s purpose. The others knew that they’d gone out, and now maybe they’d stop hounding him about his intentions. He could only hope, at least.

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