Kevin celebrates Casey's birthday.
“Thank you again for comforting me last night,” she said, hoping she didn’t sound as awkward as she felt. “It helped a lot.”
Nick looked down at his plate. He felt weird, sitting alone with Casey and talking about the previous night. He knew nothing happened, but still felt like he’d done something wrong. The last thing he wanted to do was get on Kevin’s bad side. He knew how Kevin could get when he was passionate about something. And as much as he might be attracted to Casey, he didn’t want to complicate things within the group by doing anything. He decided it was better to ignore those feelings, but he couldn’t just ignore her, so he would treat her like a friend.
“I’m glad I could help. How are you doing today?”
“Much better. So how often do you guys get breaks between concerts?”
“We get a day off every so often, usually because we have longer to travel, or just because we’re lucky. But before we leave for Europe, we get a two week break. That’s around the middle of September. Then we’re in Europe until early November when the tour ends. We don’t mind much. We do it all for our fans.”
“You guys really care about your fans, don’t you?” Nick nodded.
It came time to leave for the next concert, so they piled back onto the buses and headed towards the stadium. Casey again stayed on her bus, though she began to wish she could actually see a performance. As a few more days passed, Casey wondered what she and Kevin would do for her birthday. They had a concert on that day, but she hoped he could maybe spend the morning with her. The day before her birthday, Kevin woke her up early.
“We don’t have a concert tonight, and since we have one each of the next three nights, I thought I would celebrate your birthday with you today instead. How does that sound?”
“That sounds great!” Casey quickly got ready and headed out with her father.
“Since we’re celebrating you’re birthday, you can choose what we do today.”
“Hmm, since we’re still in New York City, let’s go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. And if we have time, maybe we could walk around Central Park a little too.”
Kevin agreed, and they headed off to the museum. Wanting to keep a low profile, Kevin wore sunglasses and a hat to disguise himself. He enjoyed listening to Casey as she talked about the different pieces of art work they looked at. She learned about them in school and was happy to finally see them. Casey enjoyed telling Kevin about the Dutch painter Vermeer, and his use of colors and light to create such magnificent paintings. She talked about Bonheur’s "The Horse Fair" and how her paintings expressed her love for animals, and her significance as one of the few female artists from that time period.
They traveled from the European paintings to the American paintings, while Casey continued to impress Kevin with everything she’d learned in school. Again, he briefly wished he could have gone on to college and graduated with a degree, but still refused to regret his decision to join the Backstreet Boys. He returned his attention to his daughter, who was busy explaining the significance to the American landscape painting by Cole.
“. . . but what’s really interesting is that he painted this in a studio, all from memory and the sketches he did while at the location, without looking at the actual landscape during the painting process. He did that with all his paintings. He saw the places, but then returned to his studio to paint them based on the sketches he did and what he remembered. He was also one of the American artists who tried to paint messages within their paintings. For instance, Cole used his paintings to show people the majesty and power of nature. My professor told us she thought he was trying to tell people that destroying nature to create more room for cities and people was a mistake, but that’s just her opinion.”
“You certainly seem to know a lot about art,” Kevin said. Casey smiled sheepishly, realizing how much she’d been talking.
“I took an art history class because it sounded interesting, and so I guess I just wanted to show you that I learned something.”
“You don’t have to show off to make me proud of you,” Kevin told her, pulling her in for a hug. “I was proud of you from the moment you were born.” When he released her from the hug, she looked up at him with a smile.
“Thanks Dad, but you do realize how corny that sounded, right?” He nodded, and they continued on for another hour.
When they decided they’d had enough of the museum, Kevin stopped by the gift shop and, in addition to their time together, bought her a book about the artwork in the museum for a present. They grabbed lunch outside the museum and walked around Central Park while they ate. They left in the late afternoon to head back to the hotel. They had to leave that night in the buses for their next concert.
“Thank you for today,” Casey said. She gave her father a hug, loving it when she got to spend time with him alone.
“You’re welcome. I’m glad you had a good time.”
“I had a great time! And I really love the book you bought me.” Kevin smiled at her, wishing he could give her more than a book. He wanted to give her everything, yet keep her away from the paparazzi. He knew that eventually, somehow, information about her existence would find its way into the media and thrust her into the spotlight, but he wanted to protect her as long as possible. She was his baby girl, no matter how old she was, and he would do everything within his power for her.