So I know I have no business writing another story right now, but this is definitely only going to be 5 chapters max and it was a concept that's been tugging at me for a while now, but I just finally put all the pieces of it together based on recent events.
Nick groaned as he heard his alarm go off. He reached over and pressed the snooze button and then rolled over and burrowed back into the sheets to get a few more minutes of rest. When it went off the second time he finally sat up and swung his feet to the floor.
He smiled contently as he looked around his bedroom in the Los Angeles penthouse that he had bought with his own money. He felt proud knowing that it was his space that he had earned with his hard work.
He only had a moment to appreciate it though because soon his cell phone was ringing from the bedside table where it was connected to the charger.
"Hey Kevin," he said when he picked it up.
"Hey bro, Dani and I are boarding the plane now. You're still coming to pick us up right?"
"Yeah, of course."
"Okay, good. Just wanted to let you know that we're on time and we should be at LAX by noon."
Nick chuckled. His brother would still call him acting like he was a kid when the truth was he had just celebrated his 20th birthday a few weeks ago. He was perfectly capable of knowing when he had to pick his brother and his sister-in-law up from the airport, especially on a day as important as today.
"I'll be there waiting."
"Great, can't wait to see you guys," his oldest brother said enthusiastically.
"Same. Have a safe flight!"
Nick hung up the phone and then stood up to stretch, the shirt he slept in showing off a few inches of his toned stomach. He had been hitting the gym with Joe a lot lately and it was showing off.
He stripped down and got into the shower, singing his favorite song on his new album about a girl who had used him. This weekend, him and his brothers were finally releasing their fifth album on their own record label. It had taken hard work and there were times when he just wanted to quit and try and find a label to sign them, but now that it was happening he couldn't be any prouder.
By the time he got out of the shower it was almost 6:30. He threw on some khaki shorts and a t-shirt. His hair was growing out, it was basically the length it was before he shaved it, but he wasn't sure if he should leave it or shave it again. He ran the towel through his hair and then tossed it into his laundry basket.
He walked out into the living room and saw his brother Joe sleeping on his couch. He rolled his eyes. Joe had most definitely not been invited over, but ever since Nick had given him a key to look after it while he was in New York, Joe popped by a lot more frequently.
"Joe! Wake up!"
"Go away, mom," Joe grumbled and rolled over.
Nick couldn't help but laugh. There was a time where Joe showing up on his couch would've pissed him off but now he just found it comical.
"Joe, what are you doing here?"
"Well, last night I was at Zero and the trip back to my apartment seemed so long so I figured, why not drop in on my little brother? But you were sleeping so I just crashed here."
"Dude, you're always crashing here. Just buy an apartment in this complex. I know their are units available."
Nick wasn't mad though, in fact, without Joe's antics his life would be pretty dull most of the time.
"Do you know what tonight is?"
"Of course I do. Our album is dropping. Finally."
"Get up and get ready. I'll buy you breakfast and drop you off at your apartment."
Nick waited until Joe got up and then he went to the front door. He opened it and saw the newspaper sitting there. He opened up to the entertainment section and smiled when he saw the name of his band at number seven on the singles charts. The new single, which was a combination of their original pop rock with more refined sound and lyrics, was doing great. It may not be a number one, but after their long hiatus, he was ready to take anything. Next he turned back to the sports page. He missed the Yankees game last night and he wanted to know how it went.
Just as he was finished reading about a possible trade his favorite team might be making, Joe came back into the living room looking cleaner although still in the same clothes he was wearing last night and to sleep.
"Ready?" Nick asked, carefully folding the newspaper back up.
"Yup," Joe said and the two of them left the apartment and went down to the parking lot.
Nick unlocked the doors to his mustang. He didn't think he'd ever get a car that he loved more than this one. He really missed it when he was in New York, but now he always took the opportunity to drive it.
"You know, I'm really looking forward to tonight," Joe said as Nick pulled onto the main road.
"Me too," Nick said smiling, "I'm really proud of what we were able to do in the past few months. Start over again without Hollywood records, make out own label, write and record and produce a new album."
Joe couldn't help but notice the way that his brother was beaming. Joe wasn't sure if he had ever seen Nick looking so happy and if he had it was when they were much younger.
"You should be proud. You worked hard, little brother."
"Thanks, so did you."
Nick pulled into Starbucks. It was now 7:15 and the place was somewhat busy, but it was mostly people running in quick and then leaving so it was easy to find a parking spot right in front.
Joe opened the door and Nick went to go through it. Nick turned around to say thanks and was surprised when he bumped into someone who was on their way out.
"I'm so sorry," Nick said blushing, embarrassed that he wasn't looking where he was going. He looked down at the small girl he had run into. She had short blonde hair and large oversized sunglasses on.
"It's fine," she whispered.
Nick whipped around to look at his brother who was staring at the girl who Nick had run into.
Now that Nick took a closer look at her, the oversized tank top and leggings that she wore were definitely something Miley would wear. The sunglasses hid a lot of her face, but he could still recognize it was her.
"Hey Joe, Nick," she said quietly, shifting her coffee into her other hand, "how are you?"
Joe stepped into the coffee house and gave her a hug.
"I'm good, how are you? We haven't seen you around at any events in a while."
"I've been busy," she smiled tensely. Nick noticed the way that she was shifting back and forth on her feet like she just wanted to get out of there.
"Well, we're releasing our album tonight at the Hardrock, you should come. You and Liam, of course. Congrats, by the way."
Nick felt frozen. This was the last thing he was expecting to happen today and to be completely honest, he had barely even thought about Miley lately. He had heard she was engaged, but he had been so busy throwing himself into his work that it had distracted him from even thinking about girls.
Miley eyed Nick (or so he assumed, seeing as he couldn't actually see her eyes behind her huge glasses) and he felt a lump form in his throat.
"I don't think we'll be able to make it, but thanks."
She pushed past the two brothers and out the door where looked around quickly and then practically ran to her car. Nick watched as she got into it and drove off and away from them.
"That was so awkward," Joe said with a laugh, "Did a cat have your tongue? You literally said nothing to her."
"I didn't know what to say," Nick answered honestly, "Now can we go get our coffee? People are starting to stare."
One latte, one black coffee, and two fan pictures later, Nick and Joe were back in Nick's car.
"So are you going to tell me why you were so quiet after seeing Miley?" Joe asked.
"When was the last time you saw her anyway?"
He shrugged again.
"Okay, fine. I don't know. Sometime before the summer. Maybe even before that."
"Have you talked to her?"
"Do you know when she's getting married?"
"What?" he said defensively, "I'm just curious why you've suddenly turned into a zombie."
Nick exhaled, "I don't know. I guess it was just weird seeing her. I mean how would you feel if we suddenly ran into Demi today?"
"Okay, point taken," Joe said with a laugh, "Do you have a copy of our CD in here? I want to listen to it again."
Nick sighed in relief at the distraction and slipped into the music that he had poured his entire life into the past few months.
Nick was ready and waiting at the arrivals terminal at LAX when his oldest brother called him again.
"Hey, Nick, you're still coming right?"
"Yeah," he said puzzled, "I'm outside now."
"Okay, we'll be right out," Kevin said before hanging up.
Nick glanced out the window and saw his brother and his sister-in-law leave the airport with two carry-on bags. Dani looked elegant as usual in designer jeans and a creme colored blouse and she stood a little taller than his brother in her brown high-heeled boots. He was happy to see that the cameras weren't following them right now although he was sure they'd be around later tonight for their album release. As much as he wanted to support his brother, he felt so awkward when the cameras were around and he couldn't act natural. He had already seen several episodes where he was almost completely cut out of conversations because he seemed so uncomfortable.
Nick rolled down the window and waved. He had switched his mustang for his truck so that their bags and them would fit. Kevin waved back and they walked over to his car, placing their bags in the back.
"I can't believe you thought I would forget to be here Kev," Nick said laughing, "Who do you think I am, Joe?"
"I didn't think you forgot!" Kevin protested, "I just thought you might be..."
"Engaged in something else!" Dani finished for Kevin as he trailed off. She smiled widely at Nick through the rearview mirror.
"Or not engaged," Kevin mumbled, causing Dani to shake her head at him.
Nick glanced back and forth between the two of them. Was he missing something?
"You guys are being really weird," he announced, just causing them to laugh awkwardly.
"Don't worry, Nick, it's nothing," Kevin insisted but the look he was exchanging with his wife said otherwise.
"Come on," Nick complained, "Just tell me. I can take it. What was there a bad review of the album? Did Joe blow up the pipes in his apartment again? Does dad want us to do another TV show?"
"I don't know if we should be the ones to tell you, Nick," Dani said, reaching forward from the backseat to squeeze his shoulder.
"Now you have to tell me."
Another glance was exchanged between the husband and wife. Kevin nodded hesitantly.
"Well, you know I get anxious on planes, right?" Dani started. Nick nodded.
"Well your brother was sleeping so I bought wifi and was messing around on the Internet when I found an... interesting story."
"If it's about me, it's probably a lie. I haven't been on any dates or gone to any clubs, gay or straight."
Kevin laughed loudly and Dani smiled.
"It wasn't about you, Nick... It was about Miley."
They eloped. That was Nick's first thought. Not that he was exactly counting on an invitation to the wedding, but still. Nick always thought that when he found the girl he wanted to marry, he would want to share it with everyone he knew, why would anyone want to elope and hide it?
"She broke off her engagement."
"What?" Nick said and slammed on the brakes. The car behind him laid on the horn and swung around him.
"Jesus Christ, Nick!" Kevin yelled gripping his seat tightly and looking around at the mess Nick had created behind them.
"Sorry!" Nick said while stepping on the gas again, "I just don't think that's possible. I saw her this morning and she seemed fine."
"You saw her this morning? But the story said she was missing. Even her family hasn't seen her."
"Yeah, just for a minute though with Joe. I'm telling you it's not true. Probably just a stupid rumor."
"Was she wearing her ring?" Dani asked.
"I don't know, I don't remember."
"It was pretty big, I think you'd remember it."
"She would have told me."
"Yes- No- ugh I don't know. It doesn't matter anyway."
"Because Miley's not my responsibility anymore and she hasn't been for a long time. I'm in a good place right now. I'm happy to be working and enjoying who I am without anyone else."
The car filled with silence that roared in Nick's ears. Miley wasn't his anymore. He hadn't even seen her in probably over half a year and he wasn't counting anymore anyway. Only the smallest part of him was still attached to her and it was easy to ignore.
"Do you guys want to grab some lunch?" Nick asked to fill the silence.
"Yeah, sure," Dani said.
"I'd love a good burger right now," Kevin offered.
And just like that the topic of Miley was over.