Nick speaks up on Casey's behalf, but will Kevin listen to reason?
“No, I don’t want to speak to you anymore,” she told Kevin. “I heard what you have to say and you know how I feel. So just leave me alone for a little while.”
Nick, already in the elevator, felt awkward as the doors slid shut, leaving behind a hurt but almost angry looking Kevin. He decided to leave Casey alone, figuring if she wanted to talk to him she would initiate the conversation. She was usually the one to start talking anyway.
“Sorry about that,” she said quietly after a minute.
“What happened?” He hated to pry, but he was curious, and she didn’t seem angry towards him.
“I tried to see if my dad had changed his mind about letting me watch the concerts from backstage, but he hadn’t, and when I tried to convince him, well, you can imagine how that went. And seeing my bruises from the other night only made things worse.”
Nick noticed the bruises along her upper arms, this time not covered by long sleeves. The bruises looked painful. He understood why Kevin wanted to protect her from further injury. Yet Nick felt like Casey aught to be able to make that decision for herself. She was twenty, after all.
“Maybe I can talk to him after he’s had time to cool off,” he offered. Casey looked up at him for the first time since speaking to him.
“Really?” Nick nodded. “Thanks Nick, that means a lot.”
She looked like she was about ready to give him a hug, but thought better of it and just gave him a smile. The elevator reached the first floor and the pair headed towards the hotel restaurant for breakfast. The other three guys were already eating.
Nick waited for the right moment to speak with Kevin all morning, but the moment never came. Each time he got up the nerve, something else would come up. Finally, when they had some free time before the performance, he gathered his courage and approached Kevin.
“Kevin, can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure, what’s up?” Nick had gone over a dozen different ways to bring up his request and possibly argument, but the moment Kevin pierced him with his gaze, the words fled from his mind. He said the first thing that popped into his head.
“Casey told me about your argument this morning.” Kevin’s eyes became smaller, but he said nothing, letting Nick continue. “I think you should let her watch our concerts. She’ll be more careful about getting back to the buses way before we’re done, after the fiasco a few nights ago. Why don’t you let her watch our next concert and see what happens?”
“Nick, I’m her father and I’ve made my decision. I watched her get injured because of our fans, and I’m not going to take that chance again. I know she’s mad at me and probably asked you to talk with me,” Nick shook his head, but Kevin continued, “but I’m not going to change my mind. It’s too risky when our fans can react that way. Just drop it, okay?” Thankfully Kevin hadn’t yelled at Nick, but he made it clear the subject was closed. Nick nodded and went back to warming up for the performance, only to realize Kevin wasn’t finished talking to him. “Nick, I’d like you to go back to riding the bus with Howie and AJ.”
“I think you and Casey have been spending too much time together. I’ve heard you two stay up late talking, and it’s bad for both of you not to get enough sleep. I don’t want the media to find out about her, and being around you, especially out in public like you were yesterday, increases that possibility. Okay?”
Nick wanted to say no, to tell Kevin he couldn’t dictate what Nick did, but he didn’t. He nodded and walked over to practice with Brian. As much as he hated what Kevin had told him, he knew it was true, and that Kevin was only doing what he thought best for Casey. If he were in Kevin’s shoes, he’d probably do the same thing.
“Nick, something on your mind?” Nick realized he’d been singing the wrong song with Brian.
“Sorry man, just distracted.”
“What’s on your mind?” Nick loved that about Brian. He was always there to listen when you needed him. Right now, with Brian being so close to Kevin and Casey, he felt it was best to keep his feelings to himself.
“Nothing, just thinking about the show, that’s all. Let’s go over those dance moves again.” Brian nodded, though not convinced.
Casey waited on the bus patiently, waiting for the screams to start to let her know the concert had ended and the guys were heading to the buses. The first one to enter her bus was her father. After him came Brian. She shrugged, figuring they had stuff to talk about. She continued to watch the door, but Nick never got on. When Brian had fallen asleep, she asked her father about it.
“He’s on the other bus,” Kevin said matter-of-factly.
“Right, I realized that, but I mean, why didn’t he get on this one?”
“I asked him not to.” With a sigh, knowing Casey was about to retaliate, he held up his hand. “I thought you two were spending too much time together, so to fix that, I asked him to ride on the other bus from now on.”
Casey opened her mouth, but no words came out. She was too surprised that her father would tell Nick to stay away from her. Yes, they’d been spending more time together, but who else would she spend time with? Brian spent his free time promoting his solo album, and as much as she loved her father, she didn’t want to spend all her time with him. Of the three remaining guys, Nick was the closest to her age, and the only one she felt comfortable with. She liked AJ and Howie, but didn’t know them as well and found it more difficult to maintain conversations.
Kevin went to bed, and Casey had no choice but to do the same. Unable to fall asleep, she pulled out the book Kevin bought her at the museum and thumbed through the pages. After reading several histories of different artists and their work, she fell asleep.
The next night, Casey decided to take matters into her own hands. She’d tried talking to her father about letting Nick back on her bus, but as she suspected, he refused to change his mind. So when the concert started that night, she switched buses. She figured if she kept the light on in her bunk but closed the curtain, he might think she was reading and leave the bunk alone long enough for the buses to start. Once he realized she wasn’t there it’d be too late. When the buses left she’d give him a call just to let him know she was alright.
After waiting in one of the bunks, she finally heard the guys get on. This was one of the concerts where there weren’t crazy fans waiting out back of the concert. The guys were talking about a mistake in one of the songs and who hit the wrong note when they noticed her. The bus started moving before they even spoke.
“What are you doing here?” Nick asked.
“I just thought I’d switch things up a bit,” she said with a smile. She was enjoying the shocked faces of AJ and Howie. Knowing her father would be freaking out, she pulled out her phone and gave him a call.
“Hi Dad, I’m on the other bus. I’ll see you at the hotel. Love you too. Bye.” She hung up the phone and looked up. AJ and Howie had started a game of cards, leaving Nick and Casey to talk.
“Was he mad?”
“Of course, but he was more worried that somehow I’d been left behind.”
“Why did you switch buses?”
“Because you weren’t allowed on mine. He never told me I wasn’t allowed on your bus.”
Nick didn’t know what to say. Casey was obviously enjoying herself, having skirted around Kevin’s decision to keep them apart and spend time with him, but he wondered why she did it. Surely they’d still have enough time off the buses to spend time together and talk. Was it just to piss off her father? Was it because maybe she did have feelings for him? He’d think about that later. While she was with him, he would enjoy talking with her.