Nick and Casey get to know each other better, but Kevin is a little uncomfortable with their friendship and plans to watch them closely.
“No, Nick, I told you that red cards can only go on black. It’s black cards that can go on either red or black.”
“Well who decided that?” He grabbed his card from the floor and stuck it back in his hand, placing a different card on the pile in between them.
“I don’t know, that’s just how I learned it.” She paused as she looked at her cards. “Ha! I win again.” She put down her cards in front of her, displaying her winning hand proudly.
“What, no way!” He inspected her cards, and threw his own down with disgust. “That’s five times in a row now. Let’s play a different game.”
“Okay, what do you want to play?” She shuffled the cards while waiting for him to answer.
“I can’t think of any.”
“Well then why don’t we just sit and talk for awhile?” She put the cards away and stared across at him. For a second her mind was blank of anything to say, but then questions sprang to mind faster than she could process them all. Nick appeared to have a similar problem. Hating the silence, she was thankful when Nick finally asked a question.
“What did you and Kevin do yesterday?”
“We went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I told him some of the stuff I learned in my art history class. Then we walked around Central Park for a little bit and ate lunch. He bought me a book from the gift shop for my birthday present.”
“It’s your birthday?” Casey looked at her watch.
“It is now. He wanted to spend the day with me since you guys have a concert on my birthday and he wouldn’t have much free time to spend with me.”
“Oh, well happy birthday then.” Casey smiled, always pleased when someone acknowledged her birthday. “Wish I’d known; I would have gotten you something.”
“That’s okay. I don’t really need anything, especially since I’m on tour with you guys and don’t have space for presents. When’s your birthday?”
“January 28th, so not for awhile. How old are you now?”
“I’ll be 20 in the afternoon. I was born at 2:14 p.m. How old are you?”
“I’m 25. It’s strange to have someone younger than me on the trip. Normally I’m the youngest.”
“How is it any different?”
“Well it’s not, not exactly. It’s not like I’m treated any different, it’s just I keep forgetting I’m not the youngest, and that’s sort of weird. I guess it makes me feel older.”
“Well I know that when I think about being in my 20s, I always feel like I’m going to have to start acting like an adult, since I’m not a teenager anymore. Did you feel like that when you turned 20?” Nick shook his head, causing his hair to fall into his eyes. Casey resisted the urge to push it behind his ear again.
“No, but then my life has been anything but normal, having been a pop star since the age of 12. Sometimes I feel like I still haven’t fully grown up yet, and that’s probably true.” They both smiled, knowing how the group still suffered from his practical jokes. “The only time being the youngest ever gets to me is when the other guys don’t think I know what I’m talking about just because I’m younger than them. It doesn’t happen often, but it sort of makes me feel like they don’t see me as an adult yet either.”
“Nick, you know that’s not true. You just don’t have as much experience as they do, so they feel like they know more. For the most part, they’re probably right. I don’t think it has anything to do with them not seeing you as an adult.”
“You’re probably right.” Nick paused to yawn, causing Casey to yawn as well. “Guess it’s time for bed.”
They said goodnight and fell asleep quickly. The morning came too soon, and the group had to rush off to make sure they were ready for their next performance. Before they had to leave her on the bus, though, they sang Casey “Happy Birthday”. As they walked into the theater, Kevin pulled Brian back from Nick so he could talk to him.
“Brian, I’m worried that Casey might be spending too much time with Nick.” Brian gave him a quizzical look, so Kevin explained further. “They’ve been spending more time together in the past week, and last night they were up till midnight playing cards and talking. I don’t want her getting hurt by him.”
“Kevin, don’t you think you’re jumping to conclusions?” It was Kevin’s turn to give Brian a confused look. Brian sighed and smiled. “Nick is the closest person to her age, so she probably enjoys spending time with someone who’s not her father or uncle or considerably older than her.”
“I guess you could be right.”
“Of course I’m right,” Brian said, not letting Kevin continue his thought. “Now let the two be friends and focus on giving a good performance tonight.” Kevin nodded and pushed the thoughts from his mind, but not before deciding to keep on eye on Nick’s behavior towards his daughter, or her behavior towards him.