Chapter 18 – Never Be the Same Again

I woke up the next morning feeling somewhat disoriented. You know that feeling you get when you wake up in a place you’re not used to, and you freak out for a second before you realize where you are? Yeah, that exactly what happened to me. Well expect for the freaking out for only a second.

I sat up slightly and looked beside me. To my right was exactly what I predicted but somewhat hoped wasn’t true.

Nick.

Granted he was sleeping, but I still felt terrified. The morning after is always awkward, and I get that. This was multiplied ten times by the fact that is was Nick – my best friend… or should I be saying boyfriend now? These questions were too difficult for first thing in the morning. See what I mean about the freaking out and how it lasted for more than a second? Yeah exactly.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Part of me wanted to bolt out of there. Of course doing that would mean I’d have to go back to room, causing Bev to ask me where I’d been all night, which meant I would have to rehash the entire evening.

See, that was something I wasn’t sure about either. Part of me wanted to tell the world what had happened and gush about every single detail. Another part of me wanted to get the hell out of there and not deal with all the awkwardness of transitioning our relationship.

I couldn’t do that to Nick though. Not after he’d put himself out there last night, told me how much he cared about me and seemingly came to his damn senses already. No, I had to stay and wait for him to wake up and have an inevitable awkward conversation.

So I slid down onto my back, pulled the sheets back over myself and stared at the ceiling. Trying to take my mind off the entire situation I started to count the larger bits of stucco on it. I think I made it to about fourteen before my thoughts began to wander.

I’d promised myself that this is exactly what wouldn’t happen. That I wouldn’t get all lost in my feelings and sleep with Nick as soon as he’d decided he wanted to be with me. I didn’t want to be that girl who just catered to his every whim. But Nick made it seem to easy and effortless. He was just too desirable for it to not be.

Still, it wasn’t how I wanted our first night together to be. Not in the least. I’d wanted it to be passionate and romantic and sweet and definitely not just on a total whim. I mean… I know he said all those sweet things to me, but I couldn’t help feeling paranoid. What if now that we’d slept together all the mystery was gone and he didn’t want me anymore? What if that’s all he was in it for?

I guess there’s not much I can do but lay here and wait for him to wake up. Can’t really do much else can I? That doesn’t mean my thoughts aren’t driving me absolutely crazy.

And then it hit me. If I was worried about the awkwardness between Nick and I, it was nothing compared to the fallout that was going to happen with Brian. I’d gone on a date with him the morning before.. and now I was lying naked next to Nick? How fucked up was that? Oh God. Oh God, oh God, oh God.

Thankfully, before I was able to beat myself up about this and worry anymore, Nick stirred. I quickly shut my eyes and pretended to still be sleeping. I didn’t know if I’d be able to fool him at all… my heart was pounding in my chest as Nick woke up next to me.

He leaned over and gently stroked my arm. I pretended to stir in my sleep and wake up, but evidently it was of no use.

“I know you’re awake Dani.” Nick said, and when I opened my eyes I noticed he had a smirk on his face. Damn he’s cocky! I hated that.

Nick rolled over so he was nearly on top of me. Naturally the rules of gravity applied to the blanket and it fell off, exposing his bare shoulders. Taking a deep breath, I tried to stop myself from having a mild panic attack. “Morning.” I squeaked out. No, I didn’t look nervous at all.

Nick just kissed the top of my forehead and rolled back to his side of the bed. “Relax Dani, you were perfectly fine last night.”

“Last night is not this morning!” I shot back. “The night before is always different than the morning after. I mean, in the night before, you let your guard down and totally give yourself to someone. The morning after you realize what you’ve done and you feel really awkward and confused and unsure. It’s the worst.” I ranted, and Nick didn’t say anything. He just sort of sat there and listened to it. Probably realizing more and more how crazy I was with every word. This was not good.

He just grinned. “I mean, we could just do it again if that’ll calm you down.”

That was so not my point! I sighed. “Nick it’s just…”

“Horribly awkward?” He finished my sentence. I forgot he was already capable of doing those things. I’m not sure if that makes this whole situation better or worse. Let’s go with better since it means I don’t have to explain myself as much.

“Yeah.” I finally said.

“And you think I don’t feel awkward?” He asked.

I shook my head. He sure wasn’t acting awkward!

He laughed a little. “Well believe me, I do. I mean, you’re not just some random girl, so I can’t kick you out of the room because I’ll have to see you later. We weren’t drunk so we can’t act like we don’t remember it.”

I raised my eyebrow. What the hell? Was this supposed to make me feel better? Oh, he was leaning over to me again. This time I didn’t feel as nervous.

“It’s awkward because you were just my friend who I laughed about stupid movies with and went to Burger King with. And now I just feel so in l-”

Before Nick could get the rest of that speech out I clamped my hand over his mouth. “Didn’t I tell you last night not to say that?” I asked him sharply. This was getting way too out of hand. Did I like him? Yes. Did I love him? I was quite possibly starting to. Was I ready to hear him say that to me? Uh, NO! Especially when I knew all too well Nick’s history with girls. He said those words so quickly and easily that I rarely believed he understood the actual meaning behind them.

“You said it yesterday though!” He replied quickly, moving off of me and sitting up. “You said ‘me too’.”

“I know…” I couldn’t explain it without really offending him. “I just want to wait before we say it, and let things develop a little more. Please.” I said, I was staging to feel a different kind of stressed.

“I don’t get it.” Nick shook his head and looked at me. “What was last night to you then? Was it just something fun to do before you run off with Brian?”

“Yes, Nick, that’s exactly what it was.” I replied sarcastically. When did he become such a drama queen? Jeez. “Come on, you know that isn’t true!”

“Then what’s the problem Dani?” He asked, and I could tell he was getting annoyed.

“Because!” I nearly shouted, jumping off the bed and bringing the comforter with me, holding it tightly against myself. “You always act so rash about everything. You can’t just let things happen… it’s always all or nothing with you. You don’t ever think, you just do. God Nick, you’re acting as if I don’t know you at all but I do. I know how you act around girls. So please, can we just let our feelings sit for a while and our relationship develop a little more?”

I really don’t think he appreciated my little outburst. “Yeah, whatever.” He said, and with a pretty bitter tone I might add. “I’m going to sleep more, see you later.” And with that, he pulled the sheet I’d left on the bed over himself and rolled over so his back was facing me.

I wanted nothing more than this weird morning to be over, so as quickly as I could I grabbed my clothes from the night before and walked back to my hotel room. Thankfully no one saw me as I made way down the hall wearing only a comforter draped around myself.

I opened the door to my hotel room and peeked around. Bev was nowhere to be seen. That was probably for the best, as I had no clue what I would tell her.

Crawling on to my neatly made bed, I pulled the comforter close and gripped it with my hand. I didn’t know how was I was supposed to feel. I felt sick to my stomach over my argument with Nick, and I felt confused about the status of our relationship. I didn’t know what was going to happen between us. Why couldn’t I have just let him say he loved me and be done with it? I’d had exactly what I wanted and was blowing it.

I didn’t want this turn out like Nick’s other relationships. Passionate and fun in the beginning. But without substance and anything real. I couldn’t let that happen to us, he was too important for me for it to fail like that.

Of course instead of going back to his room and telling him that, I just curled up in a ball on the bed and let myself cry about it.

The fact that the comforter smelled like him didn’t help either.

~~~

A couple of hours later I’d showered and managed to somewhat pull myself together. We were still in New York for the day but I didn’t feel like doing anything fun. I didn’t even feel like visiting my Dad, who worked in the city. No, all I really felt like doing was moping around.

The guys were out at some interview so I knew I didn’t have to worry about bumping into any of them. Thank God for that, because three out of five encounters in that scenario would be awkward.

I think I’m going to make ‘awkward’ my word of the day.

As much fun as it was pacing up and down the hotel hallways, I decided it might be best to get some fresh air. There was a coffee shop right across the street from the hotel. Coffee and a short walk is win win in my books I figured that was safe enough.

Turns out it really wasn’t. As soon as I walked inside I was spotted by Darby and Kristal, who quickly waved me over to their table. Darby was the boys new manager from The Firm, and Kristal was one of their stylists. They were nice enough girls, I just didn’t talk to them much because… well my life was busy enough with the whole Nick, Brian, AJ drama. Not to mention having to tell Bev every detail. Not today though, because apparently seeing the Statue of Liberty was more important than my Nick issues.

Whatever, a shame for her because today’s installment was really juicy.

“Hey Dani!” Kristal grinned, shifting her seat over to create more room for me at their table.

“Hey.” I replied, forcing a smile. Keeping up appearances was not something I was prepared for. Where was my comforter when I needed it?

“What’s wrong?” Darby asked, taking a sip of her drink.

If only she knew what a loaded question that was. I couldn’t tell them the truth, now could I? Everyone besides Bev and Brian thought that Nick and I had already been together for quite a while. Though I guess I could tell them bits of it…

“Nick.” I replied glumly, chewing on the straw of an overly sugared drink that probably was not going to help my very apprehensive state.

“Trouble in paradise?” Kristal asked, with a small smile.

I nodded. “We had a fight.” I explained, but that wasn’t entire accurate. “Well, more like I had a fight and he just listened to it.”

The two girls exchanged a look. I hate it when people do that. “Do you want advice, or do you just want to vent?” Darby asked me.

I wanted to very and cry and be told everything was going to be ok, that Brian was the worst and he deserved to be hurt like he was going to be, that Nick and I were going to be happy together no matter what and that I shouldn’t worry about anything.

Even though I knew that wasn’t going to happen I asked for their advice anyway. Of course that was quickly followed up by Kristal telling me they needed more information.

I sighed. I didn’t feel like explaining the entire truth, but I could tell them the important parts leading up to our fight without getting into the details of the plan. The oh so brilliant plan. “We kind of had our first time last night…”

“Nick had his first time last night?” Kristal laughed in disbelief.

“No, I mean our first time together.” I clarified. “But that is kind of the problem. This morning we woke up.. and you know it was kind of awkward. Cause not only is our relationship different but now we’ve taken this step too. So this morning I guess he was trying to make things romantic or whatever, and he tried to tell me he loved me.” I finished.

Instead of saying anything, the two of them just looked at me as if to continue. “And you didn’t say it back?” Darby finally guessed.

“Not exactly.” I admitted. “I also kind of stopped him from saying it too.”

“Why?” Kristal asked. Too much with the questions!

“Because…” It was so hard to explain. “He always does that.. with other girls he just dives right in and it crashes and burns. I need this to work. I need him to not act crazy and I need things to be perfect and work out the right way.” I told them, and expected a supportive nod and to be told that I was right.

Yeah, I didn’t get that. Darby smiled as though she wanted to believe what I was saying. “Dani, you don’t have to have everything planned out for you perfectly. How old are you, eighteen, nineteen?”

“Twenty.” I replied, not really understanding what she was getting at.

“So you and Nick are still really young. Why don’t you just try to let things happen natrually instead of controlling the situation to make it perfect?” She said, emphasizing ‘perfect’ by making quotation marks with her fingers.

“That’s what I’m trying to do! He’s saying ‘I love you’ way too soon!” I exclaimed.

“Are you?” Kristal jumped in. “I mean if Nick feels like it’s time to say that to you, shouldn’t you be happy about it instead of worrying about the future? I don’t think him saying that to you is going to impact your relationship in a bad way. If anything it’s your overreaction that’s causing the problem here.”

Darby nodded. “That’s exactly what I was going to say.”

I thought about that for a minute. My need to over-analyze things really was the issue here wasn’t it? Instead of having a sweet (albeit awkward) morning after with Nick, I’d turned it into a stress fest.

“You guys are right.” I finally said.

Again with the exchanging of glances! I was never able to do that with anyone and have them instantly know what I was thinking. Anyone except for Nick that is. Yet here I was, worrying about everything that had to do with him when I really didn’t have to be.

I quickly thanked Darby and Kristal for their advice and headed back to the hotel. I had to sort out my thoughts, and I had to talk to Nick.

Unfortunately, talking to Nick wasn’t the only important conversation I was going to have to prepare myself for.

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