"Well, here we go."
Cara glanced over at Theresa with a surprised countenance.
"How can you be so nonchalant about this? Hell, T, this is the first time we've ever heard Aaron do this piece straight through
because it's so vocally taxing, and he's been sick. He might not get through it."
Theresa burst out laughing at her
friend's melodramatics and threw an arm around Cara's shoulders. "Relax, C. He's been in this business for how long? First
and foremost, our A is a professional."
"Besides," Larkin added, "he's been practicing like hell. I'm sure he'll blow
us all away."
"Ain't that the truth," Kyle muttered with a laugh. "He's a show-stopper by nature. He's gotten good
and goofy offstage, sure, but the second that kid steps into the spotlight, the whole world revolves around him."
tell him that," Cara muttered dryly. "We worked hard enough to kill the ego last time."
"I wouldn't worry too much
about Aaron's ego," Larkin chuckled. "I think Cal's got that under control."
Trent slid into the seat next to Cara
and let rip with an exhausted sigh. "Man, ain't that the truth? Even if the reviews for this thing are spectacular, I'm still
going to think we suck."
"Of course, that mindset would have absolutely nothing to do with the way our dear director
has been treating rehearsal these past few days, right?" Theresa teased with a grin. "Because I happen to think he's been
perfectly reasonable regarding the state of the show."
The rest of the cast leveled Theresa with exasperated looks,
causing her to burst out laughing again. Rob, however, was perfectly prepared for Theresa's sarcasm.
"And you happen
to think that Ashlee Simpson was the most talented face to ever hit teen pop music too, right?"
Theresa winked at him,
and the rest of the cast groaned. Loudly.
Fortunately, the house lights went up, inciting a preparatory speech from
Cal before Aaron stepped out onto the stage.
"Okay, kid, this is it. This is your big scene, your time to prove to
the world that they don't have to remember you as the shrimpy kid that let his mother talk him into recording trash like 'Oh,
A smattering of snickers could be heard throughout the audience as Aaron stepped out of the wings in protest.
man, that wasn't just me! There were some hot girls on that record," he asserted with a chuckle. "Besides, Nick was on it."
and the Backstreet Boy makes everything better." Cal rolled his eyes in annoyance. "Get back behind the curtain, kid. I'm
not done with my pep talk yet."
Out in the audience, Trent and Cara exchanged amused expressions.
"Cal can give
If the director heard the side comment, he didn't allow them the satisfaction of a rebuttle. "Anyway, as
I was saying, this is the good part. I love this musical more than Britney fucking Spears loved to dance around in her underwear,
but even I can admit that everything after this is bullshit fluff." He arched an eyebrow pointedly in the direction of the
wings. "This is your chance to prove to people that you deserve their money. Don't suck."
"Now that sounds more like
something Cal would say," Larkin laughed. "Only Cal would think that motivation comes from the destruction of confidence."
some weird way, he might be right," Tabitha remarked, sliding into the seat next to Trent. "Every time he yells about how
incapable you are, it makes you want to prove him wrong that much more."
"Except that he's never, ever satisfied,"
Rob muttered with a roll of his eyes.
"I don't know about that," Cara countered quietly. "Sometimes, he seems like
he's proud of us."
"Aaron's about to give him a reason to be," Theresa remarked with a small smile. Before the cast
could continue their conversation, though, the sheer screen of Jekyll's father descended in the dim light of the set, and
a slowly moving spotlight illuminated Aaron's figure at the center of the stage.
The conflicted doctor was clad only in slacks, suspenders, and an Oxford shirt that had been bloodied badly on the
left side. The cuff of the sleeve was ripped on the same side, and the long blonde hair hung down in tangled locks against
the same shoulder. On the other side, the hair was tied neatly back. The doctor's chest rose and fell noticeably, and his
head hung down forlornly until the music started.
Immediately, the blonde head rose to stare helplessly out into the
audience, and he opened his mouth to sing the song that so well defined his character.
It's over now, I know
No one will ever know
The sorry tale of Edward Hyde
And those who died
No one must ever know
note wavered gently with the trepidation that was obvious in Jekyll's defeated demeanor. He glanced tentatively out over the
audience, his countenance pleading for the understanding of the people who had followed him through his ordeal.
only see the tragedy
They'd not see my intent
The shadow of Hyde's evil
Will forever kill the good that I have meant
doctor's gaze rose skyward, and his forehead wrinkled with helplessness as he voiced the questions that had come to constantly
plague his fragile ego.
Am I a good man?
Am I a madman?
It's such a fine line
Between a good man and
Immediately, Jekyll's figure doubled over in pain, leaning slightly to the side so that the bloodied
side of his shirt was showing. Without warning, he tilted his chin towards the audience, and an eerie blue light illuminated
his sneer as he glanced out from beneath the mop of hair that had escaped the ponytail tied tightly on the other side.
Do you really think that I could ever let you go?
Do you think I'd ever set you free?
If you do, I'm sad to say, it simply isn't so
You will never get away from
As the note crescendoed, Hyde's form collapsed above the waist, giving way to the kinder, gentler, more
desperate face of Henry Jekyll, who reached to the opposite side, bathed in a beautiful white light. When he opened his mouth
to sing, his sweet tenor burned with frantic resolve.
All that you are is a face in the mirror
I close my
eyes and you disappear
The other fist reached around Jekyll's form, and Hyde emerged once more beneath the
curtain of hair as the twisted figure showed his other, evil profile to the audience. The white light faded to the previous
eerie blue as Hyde growled his lyrics in an intimidating baritone.
I'm what you face when you face in the mirror
as you live, I will still be here
The figure reached to the other side, displaying Jekyll's panicked countenance.
The clean shirtsleeve curled around, and the Jekyll's fist found the air in his line of vision as he gazed anxiously toward
the sky. Everything in his figure screamed defeat, but his stance was one of steadfastness as he sang defiantly.
that you are is the end of a nightmare
All that you are is a dying scream
After tonight, I shall end this demon's dream
again, Jekyll collapsed to the other side, giving way to Hyde, who sneered out into the audience, cackling maniacally at the
floor. Hyde gazed out into the blue light that struck centerstage and smirked ironically into the fist that appeared to emerge
from his gut.
This is not a dream, my friend
And it will never end
This one is the nightmare that goes
The note crescendoed to a scream, at which point the frightening figure threw his head back in victory
before turning to glare again at the audience.
Hyde is here to stay
No matter what you may pretend
he'll flourish long after you're gone
The vibrato of the note had only just begun to spin when Hyde collapsed
again, and Jekyll emerged, still staring hopefully at the ceiling. His countenance grew firmer against the brightness of the
white spotlight, and when he sang, his tenor voice was loud and clear.
Soon you will die and my memory will
You cannot choose but to lose control
Jekyll doubled over again, and Hyde emerged on the opposite
side of the body, cackling at the notion of death when he'd attained so much power in such a short time.
can't control me, I live deep inside you
Each day you'll feel me devour your soul
The last words ended
in a growl of protest as Hyde was forced back into the body, leaving a chance for Jekyll to emerge. As Jekyll rose his fist
again in frustration, he adopted a strangely self-satisfied expression, and he bit the words out forcefully as he argued against
his inner demon.
I don't need you to survive as you need me
I'll become whole as you dance with death
I'll rejoice as you breathe your final breath
Jekyll held the note proudly, allowing it a moment to echo in
the vast space of the venue before Hyde prevailed once more, a sinister expression clouding his bright, angry eyes. His eyebrows
rose suggestively, and the corners of his lips curled in triumph as he lifted his chin from its downcast position and crowed
into the audience. But although his baritone soared over the notes, each line was interrupted by a twist of the torso and
a frantic scream of "NO!" from the terrified Dr. Jekyll.
I'll live inside you forever
With Satan himself
by my side
And I know that now and forever
They'll never be able to separate Jekyll from Hyde
staggering towards the edge of the stage, but his feet planted firmly enough that Jekyll could reach out from the other side
of the torso, shaking his finger into the wings as he glared at the forced that was slowly overtaking him.
you see it's over now?
It's time to die
Overtaken by Hyde again, Jekyll collapsed to the other side of
his body, shifting his weight in the eerie blue light as Hyde's baritone echoed angrily both in the auditorium and against
the walls of his skull.
No, not I
The resistance was apparent in every inch of
Jekyll's figure as he emerged from the prison of helplessness Hyde was striving to create, arguing with every ounce of his
If I die, you die too
Jekyll vanished with the white light, and Hyde surfaced on the
other side of the man onstage, smirking victoriously.
You'll die in me
I'll BE you
collapsed back into the man's trembling form, and Jekyll emerged on the other side of the figure, shaking his fist angrily
towards the ceiling as the blue light faded to white.
Damn you, Hyde!
Leave me be!
ripped himself from Jekyll's self-righteous light, surfacing with an evil smile.
Can't you see?
The figure flung to stage right as Jekyll emerged once more, screaming in agony at the thought of a permanent
Under the weight of his desperation, Jekyll collapsed to the
left, where Hyde delivered a maniacal grin.
I am you
You are Hyde
Hyde's smirking form gave
way as Jekyll reached his face towards the ceiling, screaming in despair.
was forced back into exile as Hyde surfaced with an equally forceful scream.
with the strength of his resolve, Jekyll broke free of Hyde's hold long enough to cry out in anger.
Hyde, take all your evil deeds and rot in HELL
Jekyll collapsed painfully, and Hyde peeked out from the strands
of hair that Jekyll's collapse had released. With a pointedly sardonic smile, he lowered his voice to a growl.
see you there, Jekyll
The orchestral arrangement tumbled into an angry descending chromatic scale and the
tortured man in the center of the stage turned so that both sides of his dueling personalities were facing the audience. Jekyll's
white light overtook the stage, and with one last deep breath, the doctor's tormented figure let rip with an amazingly powerful
The note rang out clearly in the venue until the orchestral
arrangement ended, at which point the lights went out and the demented man collapsed into a pile on the floor of the stage.
the house lights went up, illuminating Aaron's fallen form. For a moment, the entire auditorium was deadly silent. As soon
as he got to his feet, though, the audience of cast members burst into raucous applause.
Cal vaulted onto the stage
amidst the catcalls, trying to stifle the smile that threatened to surface at the enthusiasm of his young, talented cast.
As soon as the cheering died down, Cal turned his attention to an exhausted Aaron.
"Well, you didn't suck."
entire cast, including Aaron (whose chest was still heaving with the exhaustion the performance had wrought), turned wide
eyes to their director.
"You have GOT to be fucking kidding me..." Theresa muttered. Amazingly enough, the comment
was enough to incite a smile from Cal, who turned expectantly to Aaron.
"It's hard, huh?"
Aaron heaved a deep
breath and nodded uncertainly. The past few rehearsals had been full of criticism and noticeably lacking in praise, and while
the impromptu pep talk had surprised him, he'd still expected Cal to launch into a long, rambling rebuke once his performance
wrapped. The director's casual conversation was suspiciously like stalling, and Aaron wasn't sure whether or not the critique's
postponement was a good thing.
He lifted his head to meet Cal's scrutiny, and the two men locked gazes for a moment
before the director spoke in more serious tones.
"Take note, Carter, because you won't hear me say this too often,
but...I'm impressed." The older man paused to allow for the murmurings of the cast. Praise from Cal was infrequent at best.
He rarely dubbed a scene anything better than "good." To hear him admit to being impressed was on par with the sight of a
flock of pigs flying south for the winter.
Onstage, Aaron was shocked into silence.
"I'm not saying it's perfect
or anything. You're still going flat on some of Hyde's lines, you're trying to pop-lock your pivot each time the character
changes, and you're rushing just a touch, but overall..." Cal sighed heavily and cracked a small smile for his star pupil.
"Overall, that was a pretty fucking solid performance. God knows it was gut-wrenching enough." Cal's gaze drifted over the
cast in the audience, and he nodded ever so slightly. "You've all put a lot of emotion into things today. I know I harp on
the technical imperfections a lot, but I'll be the first to admit that you don't have a damn thing without emotion. You guys
are putting a lot of heart into this, and it shows. You've done a good job of getting to the heart of your characters, and
your ability to empathize with them has greatly altered your performances, both individually and as an ensemble cast." He
paused again to let the praise sink in before dropping the expected bomb.
"I'm fucking amazed at how far you guys have
come from the stumbling, giggling kids you showed up as, but that doesn't mean that I'm going to let up. I realize that technicalities
are little things, but they're also fucking important little things, and I'm too damn obsessed with this show to let you all
get away with anything but a perfect performance."
When Cal moved closer to the edge of the stage, he could see the
knowing smiles on the faces of his pupils, and the sight was enough to inspire a smile on his part as well. With a chuckle,
he returned his gaze to Aaron. "It wasn't a perfect performance, kid, but it was pretty damn good. I'd say you're well on
your way to perfect and, considering the fact that you couldn't talk a few days ago, that's a huge fucking improvement."
blushed at the praise, ducking his head modestly. "Thanks," he said honestly, smiling shyly at the director. Cal arched an
"Don't thank me. I'm a hard-ass, remember? I don't hand out favors or compliments unless they're deserved."
Cal glanced towards the rest of the cast expectantly. "I'm sure your friends will attest to that. Hell, you should know that
by now. If I tell you that you did well, it means that you did well."
"Go, Aaron!" Theresa hollered playfully.
rock my socks off, baby!" Larkin piped up.
"Dude, we should so write his name on our faces and make teenybopper shirts,"
Rob joked. He glanced up just in time to catch death glares from both Cal and Aaron.
"Rob, you're obnoxious to a fault,
but I've come to see it as part of your charm. However, if you do ANYTHING to jeopardize the flawless depiction of the strange
case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I will personally make sure that the final death scene is yours." Cal paused to take a breath,
but the intensity of his glare never wavered. "Do I make myself clear?"
Theresa snickered loudly as Rob struggled to
stifle the smile that threatened to surface. "Yes, sir."
"Good." Having effectively reprimanded his problem child,
Cal turned his attention back to Aaron. "Can you run it again?"
Aaron nodded seriously. "Yeah."
"You sure? You're
okay vocally?" Cal sighed. "I know this song is intense."
Aaron nodded again, fighting the urge to grin in amusement
at Cal's apparent concern. Hard-ass my ass. He's such a cast daddy. "I'm in good shape for now. I'll let you know
if anything changes."
Cal nodded. "Good deal. Get back into position, and we'll run it again." He turned to the rest
of the cast to deliver his next set of orders, but glanced over his shoulder to Aaron as an afterthought. "Nice collapse,
by the way. I think you scared the holy hell out of Cara."
Both Aaron and Cara blushed a deep crimson, but the rest
of the cast didn't bother to contain their laughter.
"Anyway, the torture of everyone's favorite couple aside, the
rest of you need to book it backstage so that we can go on after this. We're going straight through to the narration and the
wedding scene, provided that none of you fuck anything up. I want to get out of here at a decent hour tonight." A sigh of
relief echoed through the auditorium, and Cal shook his head. "That doesn't mean I won't hold an extra practice if one of
you decides to make the run-through particularly difficult. It just means that you don't want to see me after the rest of
the cast leaves. If you think I'm an asshole now, you don't want to be around after ten o'clock tonight."
In the audience,
the rest of the cast stood and began stretching, preparing themselves for the rest of the run-through. Onstage, Cal allowed
himself another smile. As much as he enjoyed giving them hell for their imperfections, he really was fond of his cast. With
a sigh of contentment, he turned to Aaron. "You ready, kid?"
"Fabulous. Let's go again from the
beginning of the scene."
* * *
Nick Carter tugged his baseball cap lower over his eyes and glanced furtively out
from beneath the bill, shoving his uncovered hands in his pockets to keep them warm. His breath came out in clouds, tumbling
westward in the slight wind. Heaving a deep sigh, he leaned back against the brick wall and glanced once more at the address
746 East 11th Street. He definitely had the right address. He was just missing his support system.
his support system and a cigarette, but he didn't do that anymore.
He closed his eyes for a moment to ease his nerves
and tried to ignore the tiny voice in the back of his head that was pushing him to the drugstore across the street. It wasn't
like he didn't have enough pocket change to buy a pack. It wasn't like he wasn't still carrying his lucky lighter in his left
He rolled his eyes as his thoughts hit the verge of desperation. And it's not like Aaron wouldn't notice
if you walked back into the apartment reeking of cigarette smoke either, right? Dipshit. You're finally at a point where you
can sing again. You can't fuck it up now.
"Nick? Is that you?"
He turned his head in the direction of the
voice and fell back against the wall in relief when he caught sight of Cara. With a sheepish half-smile, he pulled the ball
cap farther up on his head, unveiling his eyes. "Yeah, it's me."
She gave him a warm smile. "Good deal. Listen, I'm
sorry I'm a little late. I had to find a different route to take so that I wouldn't run into Aaron."
"It's no big deal."
Something in the tone of his voice inspired a closer examination. "You okay?"
again, looking away from her the concern in her eyes. "I guess."
He rolled his eyes and tugged his
hat back over his eyes. "Let's just go."
"No," Cara replied firmly. "I only agreed to help you with this because you've
been so honest with me. The second you start bottling things up, I'm out, okay? If you want to get better, you're going to
have to be willing to put everything out on the
Nick chanced a glance at her from beneath the bill of his
cap, and his shoulders slumped in defeat when he realized how serious she was. Suddenly, he could feel the carefully constructed
toughness collapsing against his vulnerable interior.
"I'm sorry," he told her honestly. "It's just...this sucks, C.
I really fucking hate that I have to come back here. It feels like everything has come full circle, and this really wasn't
the circle that I imagined my life would go in."
"You're young, though," Cara pointed out solemnly. "You've got time
to adjust the circle a bit."
Nick arched a doubtful eyebrow in Cara's direction. "I have to find an entirely new center
for the circle."
"Not necessarily," she shrugged. "Maybe you just need to increase your radius a little." She glanced
up to wink at him as he held the door open for her. "You know, broaden your horizons."
Nick rolled his eyes. "You make
it sound so easy."
"What makes you think it's so hard?"
He sighed. "I tried this before, remember? This rehab
thing is old news to me, and it didn't work the first time. Whether I failed the system or the system failed me, it obviously
didn't work out right, because it's been five years and I'm still walking through the same door so I can deal with the same
Cara sighed in return. "Maybe you just didn't have the right motivation before."
Immediately, his mind
presented him with a picture of a younger, happier Aaron running towards him, a short little kid with floppy blonde locks
and big brown eyes. For the longest time, Aaron had been his motivation to escape his downward spiral. He hated the way his
brother looked through him so much that he'd wanted to change. Now, he couldn't remember what he hated more; the look on Aaron's
or the man in the mirror.
He knew he was getting better. He knew that he'd slowly started to rebuild whatever rapport
he and his brother had established so long ago. He knew that he had shown a great deal of maturity in asking for help with
withdrawal. However, none of it seemed to matter when he stared into the long, dark hall that led to his past. He knew that
group therapy was one of the first steps to health, but he felt strangely like he was taking a large step backwards.
moving in the right direction now. You know that, right? I know it sucks because you feel like you're going backwards, but
you backpedaled a long time ago. You're moving forward now, Nick. We just need to get the training wheels off so you can balance
on your own."
In an attempt to ignore the depth to which her words rang true, Nick turned to Cara with a skeptical
expression. "You're filled with more corny phrases than a box of Hallmark cards. You know that, right?"
softly. "Aaron loves me that way."
Nick's expression immediately turned sour. "Wish he loved me," he muttered angrily,
yanking open the door to the staircase.
"Nick!" Cara protested. "That's not fair. You know Aaron loves you."
sighed petulantly, but he didn't try to counter her. "He pities me more."
"He worries about you," Cara correctly pointedly.
"Not because he pities you, but because he cares. If he didn't love you, he would've written you off a long time ago."
knew she was right, but it didn't make him want to admit it any more. "That's not the point, C. He's the younger brother.
He shouldn't be worrying about me; I should be worrying about him. I'm supposed to be the mature, protective one. I shouldn't
be someone about which he feels the need to worry."
Cara glanced over her shoulder and studied him for a moment. "You
know what I think?"
He sighed heavily. "What?"
"I think you spend way too much time lamenting the way things
ended up." She paused before dipping her chin and arching an eyebrow pointedly. "Look, Nick, what's done is done, okay? It
sucks that you did what you did with the coke, and it sucks even more that it hurt Aaron to such a great degree, but you can't
go back in time and fix any of it. All you can do is try to make everything from here on out better than before. You can't
re-write the past; you can only try to improve in the future." She cocked her head to the side gently. "I can tell you this
much, though. If you spend all your time living in the past, you're never going to appreciate or utilize any of the opportunities
with which the future presents you."
Nick's eyes were focused on the ground. "I know that," he admitted.
His shoulders heaved with the force of his sigh, and his eyes rose to meet her. "Yeah, I do. I just...sometimes
it feels like I've gone so far in the wrong direction that I'm never going to get it back to good."
"I know it feels
like that," Cara agreed, "but you can do it. Just take baby steps."
Nick shot her an amused half-smile. "Baby steps,
"Yup," she winked. "And the first one involves walking right through that door."
* * * *
Aaron Carter yanked his skull cap low over his ears and pulled his jacket more
tightly around him as he hurried towards his destination. He'd taken a more obscure route so as to avoid conversation with
Cara, and he was paying for it with his tardiness. The meeting was due to start in less than five minutes.
his arms across his chest and ducked his head against the wind, breaking into a slow jog. He wasn't all that anxious to sit
through another hour-long stretch of sob stories from reformed cocaine addicts, but he didn't want the added embarrassment
of showing up late. Every time someone showed up late, they were forced into the spotlight, and he really wasn't in the mood
to tell his brother's story.
He sucked in a deep breath and threw open the door of the building, shaking his head at
the thought that he still wasn't in the mood to acknowledge his brother's story. A smile graced his features as he realized
that he'd much rather be cuddled up against Cara's tall frame on their overstuffed corduroy couch, watching Johnny Depp impress
the love of his life with a pair of dancing dinner rolls.
God, I love that girl.
Part of him was still
suspended in disbelief at the ease with which he and Cara had made the transition from friends to lovers. She felt right in
his arms, but the simplicity of their coupling was almost too easy. After all, the rest of his life was
always filled with
Maybe that's it, though. Maybe she's supposed to be my one true thing. Maybe I ended up on her doorstep
so she could show me how easy love can be when you get to choose who you give it to.
As he rounded the corner and trekked down the hall to the conference room, he couldn't help but think that loving
his brother had never been half so easy. In fact, he'd almost given up hope with Nick, but Cara had been quick to steer him
in the right direction. Somehow, she'd made the older brother bearable and concerned and--well, almost his again. His smile
broadened at the thought of progress.
She really is my guardian angel. Every time she's around, all the hard stuff
With Cara's smile in his mind's eye, he sucked in a deep breath and walked through the doors of
the conference room.
It felt strangely like going back in time. The chairs arranged in concentric circles, the rows
of hunched shoulders and downcast eyes, the impressive number of ball caps and sunglasses--all of it was eerily familiar to
him. Suddenly, he was fifteen again, decked out in an oversized jersey and a bomber jacket, looking over his shoulder to make
sure that no one in his entourage had thought to follow him out of the hotel at this hour of the night. Once he'd gotten over
the initial shock of going to the meetings, he'd found a certain solace in them. After all, he'd been young enough to rest
assured that there would be no Aaron Carter fans among the group of reformed cocaine addicts.
He glanced up in fear
when he realized that the coast might not be so clear now. After all, he'd gotten a good deal older.
He sank into the
seat closest to the door and scanned the crowd of faces, half expecting to see one of his pop tart girlfriends from years
past among the haunted figures. He had a good girl now in Cara, but he'd dated a number of doozies during his platinum blonde
days. He could easily see some of his ex-girlfriends taking the road Nick had traveled down. In fact, he could almost see
his brother's tall frame hiding amongst the regulars in the back row.
He caught sight of a dark blonde ponytail, and
his jaw went slack.
Nick hadn't grown the ponytail until long after rehab. He'd grown it to have something to play with every time he
wanted a line. Their mother had made a point of telling Nick exactly how unflattering the long hair was, but Nick was hardly
offended. In fact, he seemed to delight in the fact that Jane Carter was disgusted.
Aaron blinked once, twice to clear
his vision, but the figure with the ponytail remained. Nick Carter was, in fact, sitting directly across from his younger
Aaron's shoulders began to shake with rage as he locked gazes with a pair of familiar brown eyes, and he pulled
his trembling fingers into identical fists to keep from lashing out at the nearest inanimate object. Truth to tell, he wasn't
all that surprised to see his brother sitting at twelve o'clock. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he'd known that Nick wasn't
entirely done with drugs. The thought that his brother would put him through this kind of hell again made him angry, yes,
but it didn't infuriate him. He'd almost expected it.
He hadn't expected to see Cara folded delicately into the chair
next to Nick.
* * * *
"This is SO weird..."
Cara bit her lip to keep from laughing. It had taken
quite a bit of patience to get Nick inside and seated, but once inside, he'd quickly made a bit of a nest in the second circle
of chairs. Now, all that remained of his nervousness was his new mantra.
"No, I'm serious. This is SO weird. Like déjà
Cara rolled her eyes. "Nick, it IS déjà vu. You said yourself that you've been to a thousand of these."
He trailed off and allowed himself a shudder. "This is so weird."
Suddenly, Cara's eyes strayed to a tall, blonde figure
at the front of the room. As soon as she recognized the wandering brown eyes, her entire body went rigid with fright.
look now," she muttered tightly, "but it's about to get weirder."
"Oh?" Nick's voice sounded amused. "Why's that?"
voice was low, strained, and void of all emotion.
"Aaron just walked in."