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She was too selfish to see what she had in front of her, of course. Shelby was only 9, and Taylor had just turned 6. She still had her babies, and a husband that would lie on a bed of hot coals for her without blinking an eye, if she asked.
But she couldn't see
that - not then, not on that day. All she saw was the unending pressure,
the feeling that time had slipped away and she had just ... wasted it.
She stood looking at Nick, standing nearly a head taller then her with that shocked, pained look on his face. And she stood looking back on her life, wondering where it had gone…had she only been a devoted mother and wife of a pop superstar? Where had her dreams gone? What about the novels she had sworn that she would write? Or that screen play? Had she done anything with her life?
Again, she was too
stupid to see that he - and her children - were her dreams.
So, without any hesitation, she asked her husband, who had always provided her with the best of love, attention, and care, who had been a wonderful father from day one, for a separation. Just a temporary thing, for her to sort out who she was. And what’s more, she asked him to leave the home he had provided for his family…she told him to find a place to stay for a while.
“Stay with Rok and Leigh…or AJ and Amanda,” she said, unable to look him the eyes. He was still shocked, staring at her as though he expected her to deliver the punch line and tell him that she was just joking.
“What? And tell them what? That my wife kicked me out of our home? I don’t think so. I can rent a place…or something…”
Suddenly, his voice cracked, and the full weight of what was going on hit him, and he started to cry. She had rarely ever seen him cry, with the exception of the birth of their children. He was a strong man, and she had just broken him.
For what seemed like forever, he sobbed, the tears coming slowly at first, then in all out gasps. Like a fool, she stood in front of him and stared, some cruel detachment inside of her keeping her mouth from taking the words back.
“Why?” He finally choked out. “I know things have been tense lately … we have been arguing a lot over stupid shit, but…oh God, Stacy, I thought we were rock solid…12 years!”
“I … we…it’s just me, Nick. I can’t handle the tension and the fights. We have never had this problem before. It's just ... it's not there ... I'm not ... it's not right.”
And that was true. Brian and Leigh always told them they were disgusting; they rarely ever fought, and when they did, they had made up before anything had really happened. Now, things were different. Something had snapped inside of her, and all the little, odd things that she had never let bother her now flew to the surface. It irritated her when he left the cabinet doors open…when he bullied Katelyn’s guy friends, trying to be a protective father, when he and Shelby and Taylor would sprawl out in the living room with a mound of toys and spend the entire Sunday afternoon playing. Hell, even the sound of his voice and the words that came out of his mouth irritated her - the very same things that once sent chills up her spine.
And slowly, she started to let him know just how much he annoyed her -she started to pick at him about all those little, unbelievable things, and they started arguing - a lot. At first, they had quickly made up, and made love half the night, but soon, no words were spoken and time just went on, and the tension gradually mounted.
She felt like she had some sort of heavy weight on her chest, and the only way she would be able to breath again was to take a break from Nick.
“It’s just for a little while, Carter…” she whispered, trying to be nice. “Just for a few days, or maybe a week… I just need to get my head together, that’s all.”
He was sitting at the kitchen table now, his eyes red and swollen from the tears.
“Yeah, right,” he said bitterly. “Like Howie and Lisa. The next thing you know, you’re in court fighting over custody.”
“No, not like them. I swear.” She meant that, didn't she? She didn't want ... a divorce, did she?
He stood up, his 6’2” frame still dwarfing her own, and all at once, her heart began to race as she thought of all the things that body had done to hers, all the cries of passion his mouth, tongue, hands, and other parts had brought out of her. He was still the most beautiful man she had ever seen.
Afraid of her own libido, she stepped back away from him, and he stopped, obviously hurt. She thought he was going to try to talk her out of it…or maybe, kiss her out of it. Now, he was defeated. He pushed past her, and headed up the stairs.
For the next hour, Stacy sat alone on the couch, still shocked at what she had done. Already part of her was screaming to take it back, but she just couldn’t. Pride is way too fattening, and deep down, she knew that something had to give.
It was two o’clock. The kids would be home in a couple of hours. What would she tell them? Business, Daddy had to rush away suddenly on business.
Stacy was startled out of her plans when she heard him tromping down the stairs, carrying two large bags and had his car keys in hand. 'My God,' she thought, 'this is really going to happen. But this was just a break…'
“Well, I rented a place…it’s biweekly, so…” his voice trailed off, and he stood there, waiting, she knew, for her to tell him to stop.
“That should be fine,” she whispered, not knowing what else to say. The silence hung in the air, and waited, part of her hoping that he would fall to his knees, begging for her to reconsider, while the other part just ... wanted him to leave.
Nick glared at her for a minute before walking out the door. She followed him slowly, waiting for his next try.
“Tell the kids I had to leave on business,” he said. “Not sure how long I’ll be gone…I’ll call…them tonight, all right?”
She nodded. What else was there to say?
“Is that all you’re going to do?” He finally exploded. “Just nod and agree and let me walk out the fucking door?”
“What else am I supposed to do?” she cried, already feeling miserable about herself.
“Oh, Jesus Christ, Stacy,” he snapped, throwing his bags into the SUV. “I’ll give you your fucking break, but you remember this…I married you for better or worse, and not everything will always be paradise. If people really love each other, they can get through anything. And I love you more now then I did all those years ago. Don’t ever forget that.”
With a final stare, he was gone, whirling out of their carefully manicured driveway and spraying dust all over her roses.
And just like that, a light went out inside of her.
A month later, the biggest mistake she ever made had turned into a disaster. Nick had seen the kids four times, over at Brian’s. He made excuses about Stacy every time, saying that he’d already seen Mommy, and that he had to leave again on business.
But he made sure to call them every night, and spent long hours on the phone with them, although Stacy avoided talking to him for the most part, filling him in on the basic stuff, and then giving the phone to Nicky.
Even when her nine year old Shelby cried and begged her mother to tell her why Daddy’s business was so important that he had to stay away so long, when he had never been away for more then a day before, she only shook her head and held her heart firm.
Oh yes, she wanted him back. She had since the third night without him. Trapped in a bad dream, she had woken up sweating and crying, searching for him like an idiot. When she realized he wasn’t there, she’d had never felt so alone in her life. But she couldn’t call that cell phone … she didn’t even want to know where he was staying. She knew that Brian and AJ checked on him daily, and that he was miserable, but still, she had done nothing.
During the long days when the kids were away at school, Stacy wandered the halls of the house, staring at the many pictures of them that had been taken over the years…so happy, so full of life, so perfect. She dug in the drawers and crawled into one of his large shirts, inhaling the scent of him and crying so hard the collars became wet.
Still, she slept alone.
Why? Because she just couldn’t call and admit that she was wrong, that she had just snapped and completely overreacted. She couldn’t swallow her pride long enough to beg for his forgiveness and for him to come home.
The dam broke the last night he called. After a long, tearful talk with Shelby, explaining for the thousandth time why he couldn’t come home yet, he asked to speak to Mommy again. Like a fool, she picked up the phone.
“All right, baby I have had enough! What the fuck is going on? Can’t you see what you are doing to the kids? Listen to Shelby! You wanna hear the messages she and Taylor have left on my cell phone, begging me to come home? No, of course not, you just want to sit and be a selfish bitch!”
He had been drinking, she knew. That belligerent tone only came out then, along with a hundred other miseries about his life … his mother, his father, now his wife…
“Nick, I can’t do this right now.”
“Oh, it’s not a good time for you? Why? Are you busy? What the fuck are you busy with, Stacy? Somebody else? Is that it? Are you fucking somebody else?”
“No!” But she couldn’t blame him for thinking it - God knows that would have been the first thing that came into her mind.
“Yeah? I don’t think so." The anger rage in his voice, and she was thankful the telephone lines were between them. "I think that’s it…you’ve found somebody else to deal with your shit! What’s he got that I don’t, huh? I know his cock isn’t any bigger…and he sure as hell can’t have more money…so what the fuck is it?”
Before she could even answer, the tirade went on.
“Haven’t I given you everything? All my love, my devotion, my time, everything that money can buy…my whole life has been for you and these kids, and you’re throwing it away on some God damned fling!?”
“Nick, listen to me,” Stacy whispered, trying to fight back the tears. She was just too tired to deal with him anymore, and the last thing she wanted to think about was the selfish person that she had become, hurting not only him but their children in the process. “There is no one else, there never has been and never could be…I just…it’s me, like I said. Please, please just stop drinking and go to sleep.”
She hung up the phone and quickly turned the ringer off, then picked it up again and dialed Brian’s number.
“Hello?” A young voice came over the line.
“Hey, Annie, can I talk to your Daddy, please? It’s Aunt Stacy.”
“Sure, hang on.”
There was a shuffling, then Brian’s familiar drawl slid over the line.
“Rok, it’s about Nick.” She went on to tell Brian what had happened, hoping that he wouldn’t start his daily lecture about what she was doing to their lives. She loved
Brian - he was more of a brother to her then her own had ever been - but she didn't need to hear it tonight, especially when she knew that he was right.
“So what do you want me to do?” He asked when Stacy was finished.
“You know where he’s at…If it’s not too much trouble, could you…go check on him?”
Of course, Brian agreed, and she was left with the kids - left with their constant questions about Daddy, left with her guilt and broken heart. Somehow, she managed to get them all to bed before Stacy collapsed in the big king sized one she had once shared with Nick, and sobbed herself to sleep.
Two days passed, and Stacy didn't hear from her husband - maybe he had decided to wash his hands of her. . Katelyn talked to him briefly the day after, but he hadn’t called since then, which was odd - it was already 10:30 and the kids were in bed. She knew he was fine, but still … she wanted to pick up that phone just to make sure, just to hear his voice.
Of course, she didn’t. Instead, she pulled his old, worn Tampa Bay jersey over her head and snuggled up to his pillow, which still held a faint scent of him. She had made an art of forcing herself to sleep, and by 11, Stacy was out.
Nick pulled up to his home with shaking hands. He still wasn’t sure he was doing the right thing, but after spending the past 24 hours talking to Brian and Leigh, who were able to shed some light on his wife’s actions, he had summoned up the courage to go home and make her face him.
He had listened, surprised, when Leigh told him about all the tears Stacy had shed, over her mumbled cries about what a mistake she had made and how she wanted him back. Brian said that he’d caught her watching the videotape of their wedding twice, something neither of them had looked at in years.
She was stubborn,
LeighAnne insisted ... she was just going through a time in her life where
she felt out of sorts and was questioning all the decisions she'd made,
and for some reasons, she'd decided to take it out on Nick. But she
regretted it ...
So it came down to this. He didn’t care if he had to make the first move. He just wanted his life back.
He crept into the house, making sure to turn of the alarm. Thankfully, all four of the kids were out, something he discovered when he peeked in on them. It took everything he had from scooping them all up in his arms and whispering “Daddy’s home,” but he knew that would have to wait.
Nick nearly lost his nerve when he reached their bedroom door. No light peered from underneath, so he could assume she was asleep. His worst fear was that she would hear him sneak in and scream, thinking it was an intruder.
But she didn’t. She slept soundly as he snuck up beside the bed, his heart bursting. He hadn’t seen her in 36 days and five hours, and it had been over two months since they had made love. She was beautiful, and seeing her wearing his favorite jersey and cuddling his pillow gave him a little hope.
Quietly, he slipped off his Nike’s, then carefully eased the pillow away from her and replaced it with himself.
For a minute, he couldn’t breathe; their faces were less then an inch apart, and she was so perfect. Her smooth ivory skin shone in the moonlight, and he couldn’t help but push a few loose strands of her blonde hair off her face. She stirred slightly, then edged closer to him.
His heart pounding, he touched her arms softly, running his fingertips up and down them slowly. God, she was so soft. His nerve growing, he slipped his hands under the blanket and rubbed her stomach, desperately needing to get closer to her, and the flat, warm skin sending waves of electricity through his body.
“Mmmm…Nick” she whispered in her sleep, shocking him. She scooted closer still, her face practically touching his, and that was it for him. Slowly, deliberately, he leaned in and brushed her lips with his, savoring their taste and softness. God, did he love this woman.
For a minute, she kissed him back, her body naturally responding. Then, as if a warning signal kicked in, she jerked awake and tried to sit up. Her eyes were wide with terror and her entire body trembled.
Before she could scream, he quickly clamped a hand over her mouth and held her body tight against his with his free arm.
“It’s me, baby, it’s me. It’s Nick. It’s ok…it's ...”
His voice trailed off when he felt her relax, and his heart jumped when he saw the look in her eyes - he didn’t know what to make of it.
“Listen,” he said, “I’m sorry I scared you … I just ... I had to kiss you…please, I’ll take my hand off, just, please, please listen to what I have to say, ok?”
She nodded, still shocked that he was here. In all honesty, she wanted nothing more then to crawl into his arms and never let go. But she wasn’t ready to tell him that.
“All right.” He released his hold over her and stared into her eyes for a minute before finally getting the nerve to speak. “Oh, God, baby I am so sorry. I’m sorry for all the things I said to you over the phone…I was drunk and angry and stupid, and I didn’t mean them.”
He had told himself that he wouldn’t cry, but he knew that was going to be futile as the tears were already slipping out.
“God, Stacy, I love you so much. I would do anything for you. I am sorry for all the stupid arguments, and for not being more sensitive, for not trying to figure out what was bothering you…baby, please, let’s start over. You know it’s you and me, honey. It always has been. From the moment I saw you, I knew it…and I swear, from that moment on, I have never looked back. You mean everything to me…you’ve been my rock for so many years…you gave me these four beautiful kids…and you’ve been the best wife a man could ask for…”
He stopped to take a breath, confused by her lack of reaction. She was simply staring at him, her expression having never changed since she had realized it was him.
“We’ve worked so hard for what we have, Stacy…I know that I haven’t been perfect, but I have done the best I could, and please believe me when I tell you that there is no way I could live with out you. You are my heart and soul, and I just cannot go on like this any longer. Please, honey, let me come home. Let me be here with you again…”
He stopped, and the tears came harder, the frustration and anger of the past few weeks catching up to him. He was tired of raging and yelling…he just wanted to get back to normal.
Finally, she responded. Slowly, she put her hands on either side of his face, and with both thumbs, wiped away his tears. At the same time, she brought his forehead to hers.
“Oh, Nick,” she whispered. “It’s me who is sorry…I’ve wanted to say it for so long, but you were right…I’m selfish. God, baby, it’s me who can’t live without you. Everything I do revolves around you, even if you aren’t here. Can you please forgive me and take me back?”
“Oh Jesus, baby,” Nick sobbed, “I never wanted to get rid of you.”
Their lips met then in a hot embrace, and Stacy wrapped her arms around Nick tightly, her entire body already on fire. She wanted nothing more then to be close to him.
His tongue slipped easily into her mouth, meeting hers, and they were quickly tangled together. For long minutes, they grew lost in each other’s kiss, hungrily devouring the other as though they were afraid it was only a dream.
Suddenly, Stacy jumped.
“What, what is it baby?” Nick gasped, out of breath.
“The door, Nick…did you lock it?”
It was Stacy’s biggest fear to be caught by one of the kids. They’d come close many times, but so far, had managed to avoid it.
“Shit.” Nick pried himself off his wife and hurried to the door, locking it quickly. When he reached the bed, he stopped and stared down at her.
She had thrown the covers back, and her soft, round legs looked inviting underneath the long jersey. Smiling, Nick leaned down over her and pulled at the hem of the jersey.
“Honey, since you have the real thing now, can I take this off?”
She blushed sheepishly, having forgot her “nightgown.”
“Yeah, you can.”
Eagerly, he pulled it over head and once again stared; her body was still as beautiful as it had ever been…the full breasts, round hips and smooth, curved stomach called out to him, wanting to be touched.
His cock was already hard from just looking at her, but he knew he wanted to take his time. Smirking at her, he slowly took one small foot and started at her toes, licking and sucking each one slowly before moving to the other leg.
Deliberately, he moved his way up her body, kissing and tongue every bit of her flesh; her calves, her knees, thighs…he lingered on the insides of her thighs, eliciting a low moan from Stacy. But he wasn’t ready for that just yet.
He continued up her body, loving her stomach and each perfect round breast in turn. Even her arms, elbows and fingertips were taken care of.
By now, Stacy was writhing underneath him, her breath shallow and quick. Her hands roamed his now bare chest and back, tracing his tattoos and pinching his hardened nipples.
“Nick,” she whined, “kiss me again. I need you to…” she was cut of by his mouth on hers, his hot breath rushing into her throat and making it her own. She tangled her hands in his short, spiky hair, gyrating her hips against his very obvious erection.
“Uhhh…” he groaned. “Not yet.”
His lips left hers and traveled onto her neck and very sensitive earlobes, bringing out more moans of delights.
Stacy was growing impatient, and demandingly pushed his right hand down to cover her now soaking wet panties. He lifted his head to smile that cocky smile of his, and ever so slowly ran his fingers over the cotton, teasing her.
“Nick…that’s not fair. You know what I want. Give it to me!”
He grinned at her again before kissing her, then slipped his hand under her panties and two long fingers into her waiting center. Stacy gasped into his mouth and ground her hips against his fingers, a signal she wanted more.
Nick detached his lips from hers and again worked his mouth down her body, never ceasing the slow rhythm his fingers had began. He lingered slightly over her belly, then quickly pulled off her underwear and made his way to her wet slit.
It was glistening and beautiful, just the way he’d remembered it. Tired of waiting, he hungrily ran his tongue over it, nearly coming at the mere taste of her.
“Oh yes, baby,” she whispered, her hands immediately tangling in his hair.
Still pumping her with his fingers, he nibbled at her clit, slowly at first, then with rapid abandon. Nick sucked her pussy furiously, lapping up all of her juice. Suddenly, and without warning, she came, her hips rising high off the bed. He braced her with his large hands and watched her as she grabbed a pillow and screamed his name into it.
“Nick! Oh fuck! Yes, yes, Nick, oh God!” were the muffled cries.
Stacy threw the pillow aside and grabbed Nick’s hands, their eyes locking in a heated embrace.
“Fuck me, Nick. I need you, now.”
He complied quickly, shedding his running pants and boxer briefs in one jerk. Nick’s cock jumped out, so purple and engorged it looked painful.
She gently grabbed its huge head, rubbing the underside softly.
“Oh baby, come here,” she whispered.
He obeyed and positioned himself on top of her, their lips meeting again in a long, slow kiss. The tip probed at her lips, but neither acted on it, content to let the kiss lead them.
Hands roamed as the two fought to get closer to one another, as though nothing were enough. Easily, naturally, Nick finally slipped inside of her, and they both gasped.
“Oh, God, baby, you are so tight!” Nick gasped, temporarily unable to move.
“I know, it’s been so long, honey. But, oh God, you’re so fucking big…”
The next few minutes were spent in silence, save for the occasional moan and gasp, the two of them working as one to create that all powerful earth shattering moment. It came too soon, crashing over both of them like a tidal wave. Nick smashed his lips against Stacy’s, smothering her loud cry. He banged into her hard a few final times, his entire body taut as a string, then suddenly, pure heaven as his release came. Ever muscle tensed, then relaxed, and he bit into the pillow to keep from screaming.
Then it was over, and the two of them lay gasping for breath, their bodies still entwined as one. Neither spoke, silently thanking God for bringing them back together.
Finally, Stacy spoke.
“Baby, I love you…now and always.”
“I love you too, honey.”