The European leg of the Unbreakable tour was proving to be a success again. Fans still screaming, songs all known, all words san in choir. Although they missed Kevin, the four of them felt good an stage and off.
But the last couple of days Nick had become quiet, not his usual self at all. Leigh, Leighann and Bailey had joined the tour in Germany again. Tonight they were in Luxemburg.
Nick was very distracted, nearly missing his cues. Luckily the others prompted him at the right moment and no one really noticed.
But after the show, while changing, Nick dropped his wet towel on the small heater next to Brian.
Brian was fighting off a bad cold and the extra heat was making him feel better. But the wet towel touched the heating elements and before long a thick smoke developed, quickly spreading over the whole room.
Luckily, Brian noticed before flames actually formed but the smoke had already gotten into some of the stage clothes. Wardrobe would have their work cut out to get everything clean for the next evening.
‘Nick, did you not see this!’ Brian coughed while pulling Nick along to leave the smoke filled room.
‘Sorry, Bri. I hadn’t.
‘Nick, what’s the matter? You have not been yourself the last few days.’
Nick shook his head, walking off a bit but not to far off. Howie and Alex were paying attention now as well.
Finally Nick turned around.
‘It’s Belgium.’ Nick simply said.
That surprised everyone.
‘But I thought you would have loved going back! You lived there. Perhaps you can meet up with . . . euh . . . what was her name again?’ Alex asked.
‘Catherine,” Nick whispered her name.
‘Yes, Catherine. She helped you. Have you heard from her again?’
‘No . . . Yes . . . Actually . . .’ he just shook his head and sighed.
That moment Marcus joined them.
‘Guys, time to go. The ladies are on the bus. We have a two hour drive to Brussels.’
They packed up their bags and walked to the bus.
On the bus Brian first checked on Bailey. His little boy was fast asleep in the bed. Leighann and Leigh had made themselves comfortable in the back of the bus.
Brian joined the guys who had dropped their bags as usual and gotten out the cards and domino’s. But no one mad a move to start a game. The bus started driving and soon they reached the monotonous motorway.
‘So, Nick. Is it yes or no? Can’t be both.’ Howie asked.
‘Did you know she knew immediately who I was and still she didn’t push me. And when later you guys were coming, and she told me she knew, even then she gave me space and time. We talked for hours, days. I felt so good with her and her little dog.’
The memory made him smile;
‘And then we met up again an the whole whirlwind started again. Back home, I really missed her. So one day I called. I completely forgot it was the middle of the night for her. But we talked for hours again. We agreed to meet just before Christmas. I didn’t tell anyone and flew into Brussels. You’ll probably laugh at this, Alex, but I didn’t dare make a move on her that first visit. I stayed at a hotel. We went shopping together, had a wonderful dinner, took the dog for a long walk. It was wonderful. Like a normal life. By the time I had to fly home, I knew I loved her. But I was afraid if I’d move to fast, she’d turn me away. Yet, I saw the same feelings in her eyes.’
‘Yes, hard to believe. But I understand. Finding that one person seems to good to be true some times ‘Alex said seriously.
‘A few weeks later, we met up again’ Nick continued.
‘We bought dinner. She was going to cook roast chicken. I went back to the hotel to shower and change. I stopped to get some flowers. It felt like a first date. She opened the door looking beautiful, so beautiful.’ Nick hesitated, his mind back in time.
‘I gave her the flowers and she gave me a kiss on the cheek. But then, as if she let her walls drop, she kissed my lips.’
Absentmindedly, Nick touched his lips, closing his eyes, reliving the moment.
‘She took my breath away. It was even better than I had imagined it. We enjoyed dinner and then took the dog for a last walk. I thought she would let me walk her back home and then I’d have to go. But she said “Can you get dessert from the fridge”. She left me to clear the table and get dessert out: strawberries with whipped cream. But when she walked back into the room I nearly dropped the bowls. There she was in a sexy negligee. Man, she was hot. I had a hard on just looking at her. She walked over and took the strawberries from me, putting them on the table without even looking at them. I was trembling when her hands went over my chest. Slowly she unbuttoned my shirt, putting kisses everywhere. She took my hand and lead me to the bedroom, sat me down and dropped the negligee. Man, she was beautiful! We made love all night.’
‘Show off,’ Brian smiled. Nick turned red, realising what he had been telling.
‘No, I mean. Yes, we made love, taking time to explore each other. We fell asleep and when I woke up, she was looking at me, smiling. She said “I love you”. I think I’ve never been happier with any one. And then I screwed up.’ Nick ended sadly.
‘What happened?’ Howie gently prodded.
‘I still can’t believe I did it. We were together for over a year.’
‘Why didn’t you tell us?’ Alex asked.
‘I wanted to Alex. But this was such a normal life, outside the lime lights. I was afraid that when I’d come out with this, everything would change. So I didn’t tell any one. However, I told her that you all knew and were happy for us.’
‘You lied to her’ Brain said.
‘A guess: she found out?’ Howie asked.
Nick nodded again.
‘Last year, when we all flew to London in March. She had flown in as well and stayed at the hotel. The evening we went out to that new club. You remember coming to my room, Bri? We had been together. She was in the room when you knocked on the door. I didn’t let you in.’
‘Yeah, I remember. I joked about it that you had a girl in the room. But you said it was no one special.’ Brian admitted.
‘Indeed. I said: It’s no on special. I’ll dump her and meet you in the bar”’
‘That’s good recall!’ Howie said amazed.
‘I should. When I walked back into the room she stood there, staring at me. I could see the pain in her eyes, the betrayal. In that instance she knew I had lied about telling you guys. She got dressed and left without saying another word. I didn’t stop her, still focused on meeting you in the bar, not seeing the damage I had done. As you know I was photographed later that evening with some girls. The journalist made something out of nothing. The next morning I went to her room but there was no one. Front desk told me she had checked out immediately. I called her but she didn’t answer her phone. We had meetings to go to and then flew back home. I kept trying her phone but no luck. It was another month before I was able to fly back. I went to her house. When she opened the door and looked at me, I felt so ashamed. Here was this wonderful woman and I had let her down, let us down. I had thrown her lave back in her face with what I had said. She looked at me and tears were in her eyes. I felt so bad, so unworthy. I whispered “I’m sorry” and ran off. I haven’t been in contact since.’ Nick ended.
‘So you don’t really know what she would have said. What if she’s forgiven you?’ Brian asked.
‘No,’ Nick shook his head, ‘I wouldn’t forgive me. Why would she?’
‘Love’ Alex simply stated.
‘Love is what the trouble is,’ Howie and Brian sang together.
‘Nick, I think you should try and see her again. You still love her, the way you talk about her.’ Brian said after a while.
They were reaching Brussels and leaving the motorway. Nick recognised where he was.
‘She lives close to here.’ He looked out over the city with all its lights. His mind drifting to her house, her front door, the hall, the living room where they had spend hours talking, playing games and making love. And her kitchen where they had experimented with new food, liking some of it and other things not so much, where they had kissed and hugged. And her bedroom where he had laid in her arms, crying when things were difficult in the US, laughing when they were fooling around, floating when she had brought him to ecstasy.
His face reflected in the window of the bus and he saw his own tears running down his face. Shaking his head, he wiped them away.
‘Guess it’s to late for a game of cards.’ He changed the subject.
‘Nick, it’s ok to be sad’ Howie said concerned.
Soon they reached their hotel. The ladies came out and Brian picked up the sleeping Bailey. They got checked in and each went to their room.
Nick tried to unpack but his eyes were pulled to the big window overlooking the town. She was out there somewhere. Would she come to the concert? He got undressed and tried to get some sleep. But it was nearly morning before his head stopped thinking and sleep overtook.
They all met for breakfast.
‘Nick, how you feeling?’ Howie asked concerned.
‘I’ll be fine. Let’s just get through this day.’ Nick answered with a blank face.
They had a full day with interviews and Alex was taping some footage for a music show on Jim TV.
Somewhere in between all the work, Howie took Marcus to the side.
‘Marcus, you remember Catherine, the girl who helped Nick?’
‘Yes, Boss. You can be sure she’s OK. I checked her out.’
‘That’s not it. We need to find her. Do you know where she lives?’
‘Great. Take Leigh and find her. If you can get her to come over . . . . Just tell her Nick still loves her.’
Marcus looked at Howie, face blank, eyes speaking volumes.
‘OK, I’ll ask Leigh to talk to her.’
‘Thank you’ Marcus said relieved.
So while the guys went to another meeting, Marcus and Leigh took a car and drove off into town.
‘Here it is.’ Marcus parked the car and got out. The house was in front of them. After they rang the doorbell, an older lady opened the door.
‘We are looking for Catherine.’ Marcus said.
The woman looked him up and down and must have decided she could trust him.
‘She’s gone for a walk but I’m expecting her back any moment. You can wait inside.’
Leigh and Marcus went in. the woman lead them to the living room.
‘Coffee?’ she asked even before they sat.
‘Than you, that would be nice.’ Leigh answered.
The woman left them for only a few moments. An awkward silence settled over them until they heard the front door open. The woman rushed out of the room.
‘Catherine, you have visitors.’
Catherine looked up from what she was doing.
‘A big black man and a beautiful woman. Go on, I’ll take care of these two.’
Hesitating, Catherine walked into the living room
‘Marcus, Mrs. Dorough!’ Catherine was surprised to see them. Leigh saw different emotions go over this woman’s face.
‘Catherine, so nice to meet you.’
They shook hands and all sat down again.
‘Oh, good. Martha gave you some coffee.’ Catherine said nervous.
‘Howie asked me to come and see you.’
‘Howie?’ that surprised Catherine.
‘Yes, and he told me to tell you Nick still loves you.’
Catherine smile and wiped away a tear.
‘Does he? He just ran away and never came back.’
‘I don’t know what happened. But Nick talked with the guys for a long time last night. Howie told me you had been together for over a year but you’d had an argument last year. And when Nick tried to call you, you didn’t answer you phone.’
‘My phone got stolen.’ Catherine remembered.
Before she could say any more, Martha walked in with the dog and . . . a baby.
Leigh and Marcus were stunned into silence when Catherine took the little boy.
‘This is Engy.’ Catherine introduced him with a big smile.
‘He’s Nicks’ Leigh realised immediately.
‘N.G. Nickolas Gene.’
‘Catherine, you have to come with us. You and the baby.’
‘You sure he’ll want to see me?’
‘Yes!’ Marcus stressed.
‘I was coming to the concert. That’s why Martha is here. To mind Engy.’
Catherine looked at the little boy. He looked so much like Nick.
‘I won’t take the baby. We need to talk first.’
Leigh and Marcus stayed a few more hours, talking with Catherine, spending time with Engy.
While Catherine got changed, Leigh rang Howie:
‘Sweetheart, we found her. She’s lovely. I can see why Nick likes her so much. She’s driving back with us. We’ll meet you in the dressing room after the sound check party. And we are bringing a surprise.’ She ended mysteriously.
‘Great! Thanks, Baby. See you soon.’
Howie was so exited. Quickly he told Alex and Brian.
Leigh went to find Catherine and she found her changing the baby.
‘Catherine, you need to bring Engy along. We’ll mind him while you talk to Nick.’
‘But what if Nick doesn’t want anything to do with me any more. I don’t want him to feel obligated. I can manage my child alone if need be.’
‘I’m sure you can. But I know Howie would not have asked me to come and find you if he wasn’t sure about Nicks feelings.’
Catherine still hesitated.
‘Please, you’ll both be fine.’
‘I guess he’ll find out sooner or later. Might as well make it sooner.’
Nick didn’t understand why his fellow band mates were so exited during rehearsals.
It was a warm May Sunday afternoon. Nick wiped the sweat of his face, trailing a bit behind his friends.
When he looked up, he thought he was dreaming. His heart skipped a beat. He felt himself starting to tremble, walking slowly towards her. They closed the gap together. They looked into each others eyes and said “I’m sorry” at the same time.
Nick grabbed her, holding her close to him, not wanting to let go.
‘No, Catherine, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You are so special. I should never have said that to Brian. Can you ever forgive me?’
He let go of her a bit so he could see her face.
‘Baby, I forgave you immediately, even while flying back. I was angry with myself. It’s not easy for you with the life in the limelight.’
‘But you never answered my calls!’
‘Can you believe my phone got stolen at the airport? Then my number was blocked. I got a new phone but had to have a new number as well. Even worse, I never memorised you number as it was on speed dial in my phone. So I tried to reach you through the fan site, your MySpace, I even wrote a letter to management. And then you showed up but you ran away immediately. So I believed you didn’t want to see me again, ever.’
‘No, no, no. I have missed you so. We were busy when we got back so I hardly had time to read my comments. I was so ashamed of what I had done, I was sure you didn’t want me any more.’
‘We are a pair, aren’t we. Nick, I love you.
Nick smiled as well: ‘I love you!’
Pulling her closer again, he gently touched her lips, a burning sensation rushing through his body. They deepened the kiss, oblivious to their surroundings.
‘Come on, I want to introduce you.’
Nick pulled her to the dressing room before Catherine could say anything else.
When the door opened, Howie, Alex and Brian turned around, a bit surprised but obviously hiding something. Nick looked at their strange behaviour but let it go for the moment.
‘Everyone, this is Catherine. I love her. We are together and I don’t care who knows.’ Nick was beaming.
‘Congratulations, both of you.’
Still no one moved. That was odd.
‘Nick,’ Catherine made him face her.
‘You remember the last time we were together?’
‘You left me something.’
Catherine walked to the guys. They parted and let her go through to Leigh. When Catherine turned around she was holding her son.
‘Baby, this is Engy.’
Nick took a step back, colour draining from his face. But he recovered very quickly. He looked at the baby and immediately saw the resemblance.
‘My son.’ He whispered.
He stumbled forward, reaching out for his son. Catherine handed him the baby. Nick was beaming. Looking up at his friends with a big smile, he said: ‘This is my son!’
Howie, Alex and Brian now cam to him, slapping him on the shoulders, congratulating both Nick and Catherine.
Nick pulled Catherine closer.
‘Thank you. Thank you for giving me another chance’ he whispered in her ear.
They kissed with their son between them.
An hour later they all returned to the hotel. Nick walked in proudly with his son in his arms. In his room, he laid on his bed with the baby.
‘You called him Engy.’
‘Actually it’s Nicholas Gene Junior. But his Dad needed to know him first. So I called him Engy.’
He couldn’t keep his eyes of his son. A knock on the door proved to be house keeping with a baby cot, flowed by Leigh and Howie.
‘We thought Engy might need some rest.’
‘Thanks, H.’ Nick said.
Soon Catherine had the baby settled in the cost and he was fast asleep.
Nick pulled her on the bed next to him. Quietly he lay next to her, looking at her, exploring every inch of her face. His hand slowly went ot her hair, as if to make sure she was really there.
‘I love you.’ He whispered again and gently kissed her.
This was the second time he’d been saved by this wonderful woman. He made up his mind never to let her go again. He was back where he needed to be.