Saturday, June 27, 2020


Chapter 12
PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY AND FIRST DATES


Becca and Matthew had arrived at the Emergency Room at University of Kentucky’s Albert B. Chandler Hospital. They were held up in the waiting area, not having any type of clearance or permission from Nick or Katie to get in the treatment area. Becca walked back from speaking to the security guard behind the glass window. She studied the drawn lines of the years on her husband’s face, and today there seemed to be a few extra, as well as his accentuated well-established laugh and cry lines. 
Katie was famous, Nick was famous, but Matthew and Becca still enjoyed their life of obscurity. A few people whispered and pointed, having recognized Matthew and Becca as the other two people sitting on the sidewalk with Nick Thomas and Katie Lynn Moore. A reporter got up in their faces to question their relationship to Nick and or Katie. 
“Excuse me, but I remember seeing you with Nick Thomas and Katie Lynn Moore, tending to him. Can you tell me how he is doing, or what happened? Are you all related to either of them?” 
Another person came over and joined in with the questioning. “Yes, I heard reports that you were sitting with Katie Lynn Moore and the other man, when Nick Thomas came over and picked a fight with you all? Is that true? Do you know who the woman was that was with Nick Thomas when he picked the fight? Was there something specific that Katie and Nick were fighting about? Do you care to comment?” 
Both reporters had their phones, ready to take down any statement this unfamiliar man and woman said. Matthew had his hand running through his hair, looking at the ground. It was obvious that he was visibly upset. While Matthew sat slouched over, Becca hovered over him with her arm across the top of his back. She picked her head up and put those reporters in their place. 
“If you don’t mind, we prefer to keep out of this. We have no comments. Please just go away and leave us be, please?” 
“Well, can you tell us your relation to Katie Lynn Moore? Who was the other man who was involved in the fight? Some witnesses are claiming that he is a cop. Is he a city police officer from here in Lexington? Do you know where we could locate him?” 
Another piped in, pushing the reporters that much closer and crowding Matthew and Becca. “If he is a police officer, will he be filing criminal charges of assault against Nick Thomas?”  The third reporter asked. 
Just as he asked that last question, Brooke McIntosh burst into the ER waiting area, claiming to be Nick Thomas’s girlfriend and demanding that she be let in to see him. Becca’s head popped up to watch as the reporters immediately left Matthew and Becca for another witness, one that apparently was not afraid of the attention, but rather liked it. The reporters gathered around her and pummeled her with those very same questions. She looked over at Matthew and Becca and tried to get to them to find out what happened, and how her Nick was.  She was visibly upset, desperate to get information on the man who turned on her so cruelly. When Becca saw her trying to push her way through, she tugged Matthew by his sleeve to clear out of the waiting area and find a more secluded spot. Matthew popped up when Becca tugged on him. 
“C’mon Matthew, let’s get out of here, there’s that girl he was with and she’s heading this way.” Matthew jerked his head toward Brooke, and immediately they darted out into the frosty air and walked briskly to get out of sight of her as soon as possible. They ducked behind an ambulance as Brooke chased them, but was unable to find them. The reporters were ready when she came back into the ER to try to get access to whom she said was her boyfriend.  When  assailed her with their questions all speaking at the same time, she began to babble her version of the story. Matthew and Becca had decided the safest quietest place to be would be locked in their own vehicle which was parked in the parking garage across the street. There no one would know them, nor would Brooke be able to find them. 
Matthew kept his head low, as Becca tried to soothe her husband. “Matthew, c’mon, stop being so worried. Now, you if anyone should have faith that God is going to work this all out.” 
“Oh, I know that, I was just remembering a time or two with Michael, I started thinking about that night at the Embassy. I swear, Becca, I think I saw them in heaven, or something crazy. I mean it was like a dream, but Michael said something like, ‘So she found him.” 
“You never told me that.” 
“Well, I just remembered it. I mean it was a dream, I’m sure of it, but I wonder if it was God giving me a glimpse of them.” 
“Them?” 
“Yeah, Markus was with them, and there was a shadowy figure that looked like Pops.” Becca’s head snapped back. 
“What about Laurie?” Matthew lifted his head and had this look of trepidation on his face. It never occurred to him that Laurie was not in the dream. Becca put her hand to her mouth and covered it while it was open with dread. 
“She wasn’t there.” 
“You don’t suppose,” she hesitated. 
“I don’t want to think about it. It was a dream, Becca, just a dream. Now, I’m not going to jump to any conclusion, because frankly, it’s too much to even fathom. Let’s not think about it.” 
“Yeah, let’s think about something pleasant. Hey, remember that day on the campus, you know the one where we planned our first date and planned to give Michael’s lips to Katie for her birthday?” Matthew lifted his head, and they both began laughing. All these years later, and it was as funny to them now, as it was to them then.

****

Matthew was so excited to introduce his new best friend to his brother. He could hardly contain himself. He almost gave it away a few times. He had such high hopes on Katie being able to tame and settle his free spirited, ending the long-line of heart-broken groupies that tailgated Michael’s band. It was near six weeks after they had met, and Katie had still not noticed the resemblance in Matthew to her dream man.  Her birthday was just days away and he had a perfect plan.  He could not wait to tell Becca the secret that he had been keeping. He chose to reveal his plan to Becca days before Katie’s birthday in early February, hoping it would score him points with her and possibly a first date.  
Becca was sitting in the campus game room watching some of her guy friends play some of the arcade games while waiting for Katie to get out of her class. Katie knew the game room was the best place to pick up guys and spot the nerds based on what they played.  Matthew had just gotten out of class, headed towards the Donkey Kong game when he saw Becca and remembered Katie’s advice.  
“Whatever you do, Matthew, NEVER let any girl see you playing Donkey Kong. It will be the end of your romantic life for good. Word will get around and the girls will avoid you like the plague.”   
As Matthew entered the game room, he shyly shuffled over to Becca to share his excellent plan.  
“Hi Becca,”  
“Hi, Matt,” she responded. As much as he hated that, he was not about to correct her, so he became Matt to her for a long time. He swooned and stared at her long curly black hair. His staring at her cute freckles on her fair skin drew her to him. She had dark brown round eyes that seemed as if they were ill proportioned for her small face, but beamed with care and concern for her patients. Her rim-free glasses only accentuated the size of her eye sockets. She was not terribly over weight, but she was not stick thin either. She referred to her body as fluffy, and he found that so cute. Her mercy and nurturing of his Pops really impressed him. She took a special interest in him, as if he were family to her.  She was sitting down when Matthew approached. When she stood up, she was standing near as tall as him at 5’9”. 
“Hey, I have an idea for Katie’s birthday as a gift, but it’s going to take some ingenuity. I’m not quite sure how to do this,” Matthew said. 
“I’ve been trying to figure something out, also. What do you get a girl born on Valentine’s for her birthday that isn’t so cliché? Maybe we could team up on this one. So, what’s your idea, Matt?” 
“You know that true love she talks about that she met on her birthday at a dance two years ago? ” 
“Do I ever? Michael, Michael, Michael. That is all she talks about. I’ve heard that story a hundred times. If I have to listen to it one more time, I think I’ll puke. I asked her if she has been this obsessed for two years, because I think that is troublesome. A girl can’t expect to hook-up with some lead vocalist in a band that she had a crush on two years ago. She told me that it wasn’t this bad, her crush, or in-love status as she called it, until recently. She has dreams about him, a lot. I think she may be delusional.”  
Matthew started cracking up and could not stop laughing. He tried to contain his laughter and explained to the curious Becca the nature of the hilarity of the situation. Before long they were both laughing, only Becca did not know why. “Oh, Becca, you are going to love this," he said in between his hysterical laughing when he could catch his breath. 
"What is so funny?  Why are we laughing and what does this have to do with Katie's birthday?"
“Okay, you know how Katie’s always bragging about her photographic memory and how she never forgets a face or people she meets, when you know that can’t be absolute truth?”  
“Yeah, she does brag about that quite a bit.”  Matthew started laughing again, but this time, Becca was too curious and getting impatient. 
“Stop, what is so funny?”  She asked.  
“Let’s go for a walk, the guys here keep staring at us.” The two left the game room and walked along the sidewalk.   
“You asked what do you get a girl born on Valentine’s Day, well, how about her first legal  kiss from her first love, right?” 
“Oh my gosh, you know her Michael!  Oh Matt, why didn’t you tell her?”  
“I couldn’t,” he said laughing still. “I know Michael like the back of my own hand.” Becca looked oddly at Matthew as he studied his hand. 
"Don’t tell me, you’re Michael, oh that would be so mean, but wait, your name is Matthew. What do you use a stage name or something?" 
“No, I’m not Michael, but I do know him like a brother and he’s a wild horse that needs to be tamed. I’m thinking if anyone can tame my TWIN brother, Katie can.” Matthew started laughing, “My identical twin brother,” he added laughing some more. Besides being relieved that he was not Michael and he was single, she picked up right away what was so funny and began hysterically laughing, losing control, trying to catch her breath. 
“Oh my gosh!  You have got to be kidding me. You can’t be serious. Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it? Really, identical twin brother?” Matthew shook his head while he held his middle. “She has been hanging around with Michael’s face all this time and never knew it, the girl with the photographic memory? Oh, that is too funny. I gotta be in on this one. What can I do?”  
Tears of laughter watered both their eyes, as their cheeks were actually becoming sore from the continuous laughter. It was not long before Matthew spotted Katie walking toward them. As the two kept laughing, standing on that sidewalk, passers-by would stop for a moment, chuckle and then move on with no inclination as to what was so funny, but enjoyed the sight.  
“Oh, here she comes. Stop laughing,” he said, laughing still. They both fought the urge to laugh, but they also both had tears and bloodshot eyes.  With arms full of books and her backpack slung over her right shoulder, she approached the two and in her usual chatterbox manner, she began her usual bantering and senseless babbling about the latest gossip or topic of the day, which included the upcoming Winter Olympics.  
“Hi, guys. Oh no, have you two been crying? Did you hear about the Tonya Harding part in the Nancy Kerrigan attack, too? Is that why you are crying? I feel so bad for both of them. I don’t know whom I feel worse for, my goodness, the poor girls. What if Nancy can’t skate? You know that Tonya will be branded for the rest of her life. There’s something about that girl,  I can see it in her eyes. There’s a sadness. I’ll be she was abused too, the poor thing,” Katie said, looking off into the sky, remembering her troubled childhood. "You know, I had this friend in high school that looked just like her. I told her she looked just like her. When I pointed it out, people started to agree with me. They even started calling her Tonya, but it was me who was the first to notice the resemblance. Now, that she knows she looks like her, she’s going to have to get a make-over or something. But I’ll bet, even if she did change her face. I could still spot her out of a crowd, with my photographic memory, you know.”  That was it. Becca and Matthew couldn’t hold it in any longer. They were howling and whooping it up so much that they had to hold on to each other to keep standing. Before long, Katie was laughing with them.  “What’s so funny? Seriously, that’s not funny the poor girl with the face of Tonya Harding, I feel bad for her and for Tonya, something about a boyfriend involved. She’s screwed. It’s not funny. Stop laughing, Mathew, Becca,” she said, attempting to contain her chuckling at their laughter.  
“C’mon Becca, I can’t stand this any longer, my sides hurt. Let’s grab some coffee, and we can discuss this Tonya Harding thing.” Becca cracked up at that comment. “Too bad you have a class little sis’ or you could come.”  
“I’d love to go get some coffee, Matt. Yeah, too bad you can’t come, girlie with the photographic memory,” Becca said still laughing and causing Matthew to grab his middle to snicker.   
“Hey, that’s a great idea, coffee you two, she said winking at Matthew.” She walked over to Matthew and whispered in his ear, happy for him. “Now, play it cool. Find something fun to talk about, and whatever it is that you are doing to make her laugh, keep it up, everyone loves a good joke,” she said after pulling him down and whispering encouragement in his ear.  This only made Matthew laugh even more uncontrollably. Katie was clueless, and they loved it. “Hey, make a Valentine’s Date, perfect excuse,” she said at the last minute.  
As they walked to the coffee shop on campus, Becca just had to throw in for good measure a conversation she and Katie had, early in their budding friendship, risking exposing her crush she had on Matthew.  
“You know, I’m going out on a limb here, but I gotta tell you something that is going to make this even funnier,” she said. 
“Go ahead; feel free to tell me anything.”  
“Well, I was telling Katie that I thought you were really cute when I met you at the hospital and was thrilled to find you had enrolled here. I was remarking how handsome you were.” She paused and looked up toward Matthew for his reaction, which garnered a huge grin from him. She tilted her head, wondering if it was a happy grin, or a patronizing one.  
“Thanks, Becca Joy, I actually thought the same thing. I was shocked and elated when we bumped into you at the student union center,” he said, stretching the truth, so as to no look like a stalker. She let out a sigh of relief as did he, and the swooning began. “So, what makes this funnier?”  
“Oh, well, when I told her that the first time I looked at you, I was drawn to you.” Becca started to laugh uncontrollably. She kept trying to get it out, but the laughing kept getting in the way of her words. 
“What is it?”  Matthew said, laughing hysterically, still.  
“Okay, when I told her how hunky I thought you were,” Becca began to laugh, again. Matthew put his hands on her shoulders to calm her.  
“Just say it,” he pleaded while chuckling.  
“Wait, I gotta get this right, hold on, I gotta say it just like Katie."  Becca did her best impression of Katie's slightly Italian/Boston drawl.  'Well, she said, and I quote, ‘Yeah, I kinda thought he was hot too, but the more I look at him, the more his science geekiness comes out. You know, he’s got one of those master geek facial expressions that only a mother could love.” This sparked the two of them laughing even more. “But wait, it get’s better, listen to this.  I shook my head when she said that, and then I questioned her. ‘Geeky facial expression? Geez, I think they’re cute. Then she said, ‘Well, I guess if you like that kind of thing, but for me, I’ll take my Michael’s face and facial expressions, his were hot as all hell,’ she said as she shook her hand like this,” Becca demonstrated Katie’s shaking her wrist as if she was fanning herself. 
Matthew bent over from the hilarity of the comparison. The other patrons were staring at these two hysterical college kids, hardly able to contain themselves, so they held each other as the exited the coffee shop to continue their laughing on the sidewalk.  
“Ya know Becca, I could hang with you forevah and nevah get bored’,” he said borrowing from Katie.  
“Right back at’cha, my cute co-conspirator,” she said to him still laughing.   

****
Matthew and Becca sat in the Expedition, shaking it from laughing so much as reminiscing and poking for at the girl with the photographic memory of face, who was clueless that she was walking around campus with the face of the man with whom she swore she was in love. 
“You know, she questioned me, after you set up the blind date with her and I had to hide in the closet to answer her questions because I couldn’t look at her with a straight face.” 
“What did she say?”
“Oh, something like compared to you, on a scale from one to ten with you being a ten, where was this other guy. I guess you told her I saw a picture of him. You didn’t tell me, so I had to ad-lib.” Becca and Matthew chuckled. 
“What did you say?” 
“I told her that I would say that this guy was a perfect match,” she broke down and cracked up, as did Matthew. 
“Man, what a chatterbox she was then,” Matthew commented. 
“Oh, I know. You could hardly get a word in edgewise.” That whole Tonya Harding thing, where does she come up with these things?” Matthew took his wife in his arms and kissed her while they still chuckled. They came out of the kiss still scoffing at Katie’s flightiness, but started to tone down some of their laughing. 
“I don’t know, but I can’t imagine all the chatter that must go on up there in that ADHD head of hers,” Matthew cackled. They both guffawed and then they finally settled down. The atmosphere was much lighter in that vehicle than it was when they first entered it. They were both massaging their sore cheeks from all of the roaring that had been doing, reminiscing. For those few brief moments, merriment replaced fear and concern. When silence befell them, they both looked at the emergency room entrance.  “How are we going to get in there, or find out anything? Do you have your phone, Matthew?” 
“Yeah, I’ll call Katie,” he said. 
“What’s the chance she’ll either have it with her, or answer it?” Becca asked.
“Probably slim to none,” he said, as they snickered at Katie’s habit of losing her phone, or just not answering it from her being so flustered, as it just rings in her pocket, when it is not lost in the bottom of her drawstring bag. 
“Try it anyway.” Matthew dialed Katie’s phone, and she picked it up.”
“Can’t talk right now,” Katie whispered into her phone. “I’ll call you right back,” she said. 
“Oh, okay,” before he could finish saying it, the phone line went dead. 
“She’s busy, probably in triage or something with him, or maybe the doctors are in the room with her. How are we going to get in? I don’t want to be in that waiting room, especially if that girl is there. You know, I felt so bad for her. I mean she was mean and all, but the way Nick turned on her, was just cruel. I can’t believe she came to the ER after that.”
“That’s what they’re like, loyal to a fault, even to the point of taking abuse. Remember, he was completely tanked. I doubt he’ll remember any of this night.” 
“Oh I hope not, he was awful.” 
“I know, the expression on his face when it started to hit him. I think all the alcohol left his system right then.”
“So you think he’ll be able to pull it together?” Matthew nodded in reply. 
“Yeah, but she’ll put him through the wringer first. The thing about that is that this isn’t all his fault, she bailed on him, and did you know that she gave Nick Thomas a fake name, well, just her full name, 'less the Moore,' as she said.  That's why he didn'' know the book was hers.” 
“I didn't know that.  What a brat.  Why?"
"Fear I imagine, just in case he didn't turn out to be the honest prince she thought."  
"I can see that from Katie.  You know,  I remember when she called and cancelled her flight back here from Massachusetts, and claimed she just wanted to stay longer and visit some friends. What friends does she have left there?  Why do you suppose she canceled it at last minute?” Becca asked.  
“I don't know, maybe she looked up some of the old band members.  She said she had to make up some things that she did to them.  Personally I’ll bet anything she went to her and Michael’s old house and the ghosts of that awful time came back to haunt her and she got spooked. I mean she had that list  of reasons why she didn't want to fall in love again, up on her mirror. I kept telling her to take it down and to stop being so wary.”  
“That is just like her. I’ll bet she did just that. I feel so bad about that day when I had to tell Nick she wasn’t coming. I dreaded it, so I kept filling his head with hope. Matthew you should have seen the look on his face when he saw me behind the girls. My heart just broke for his. I almost heard it hit the floor. I just felt the need to encourage him. I didn’t want to tell him how she kept reasoning with herself to not go back. I kept hoping she’d change her mind. Once that Chelsea thing hit, I knew it was a lost cause then. Matthew, I shouldn’t have filled his head with so much false hope.” 
“You meant no harm. I wouldn’t have wanted to see his face that night either.” 
Both Matthew and Becca faced forward as Becca recalled that sad day when she had to break the news of Katie’s last minute backing out of her promise. 
“I remember when I saw his road manager coming to get us at the will call box. Oh, I dreaded seeing his face, and it was just as distressed as I thought. My heart went out to him.” 

****

Joey was to meet the girls and Katie out by the will-call box after the concert. He led them back to the room and when Nick heard the knock on the door, his heart reached the doorknob before his hand did. The three girls came in nearly running for him. Little Katie got there first, and he picked her up to give her a great big squeeze, followed by Julianna and then sweet Marianne.  
The medium built, curly, dark-haired girl with fluorescent eyes, approached happy to see him, but Nick read a note of empathy coming from her face. When he looked up, a slender, willowy woman in light mint-green capris and a sleeveless floral top approached him. She had a long face, besides being the bearer of bad news; her face was oval and fair in complexion with a slight hint of sunburn and sun-exposed freckles, making their regular summer appearance. He looked behind her to an empty doorway and he breathed out all the tension of the last few weeks. He assumed this was the girls’ mother. He noted the resemblance between sweet Marianne with her curly dark hair and her mother’s which she obviously passed down to her. His heart had dropped to his feet, and he did all he could to maintain his composure.  
“Mr. Thomas, I’m Becca, the girls’ mother.” Becca held out her hand to shake Nick’s. He nodded and smiled having heard so much about her. He did all he could to maintain proper etiquette, in greeting her. Becca saw that great big Texas-sized grin go from illuminate to tormented in one quick swoop, as if a dark cloud settled over him, pouring down sadness in giant drops.  
“Becca, my Teach told me so many wonderful stories and you were in all of them. I feel as though I’ve known you for a while.” Nick took her hand into his and pulled her in for a warm hug as if they were old friends.   
“Well, I have to say, we have heard about you, plenty and still are.”  She had a drawn look on her face and Nick knew it was bad news. He didn’t have to ask, he already knew. His heart was about to burst from sadness and grief with what he suspected. Becca noticed the dreaded look in his eye. Shawn came over to introduce himself to the girls. He took them on tour back stage, showing them the in’s and out’s of putting on a concert.  
“Is she back together with the deputy?” His heart felt as if it stopped, awaiting that answer.  
“She is not back with him in that way, although they did spend a good deal of time together, until recently. I honestly do not think that she could even remotely consider it after being with you. She’s waiting for the day that you two can be together.” With that bit of encouragement, Nick’s heart leaped back up into its rightful place. “She is just not ready, yet. She has taken a sabbatical and gone up to Massachusetts for a while. She's working on that book you encouraged her to write.  She said she needed to be alone and in familiar surroundings to get the feel right.” 
Katie had finished her book that Nick had inspired, but had made Becca promise not to tell him. Becca felt that knowing she was following his advice would give Nicolas Paul more hope, and understanding why she did not make her appearance there.  Katie, however, had wanted to surprise him; likewise, she was not all that confident in her ability to write a decent book. Nick led her over to a chair, and she sat crossing her legs. He turned one around and straddled it. He leaned his arms on the back of the chair. 
“Was it the publicity and the media frenzy from the liner notes to my Princess Cindy that scared her away?” Becca nodded. Nick grimaced, regretting that decision. 
He knew that her shyness factor would get in the way, and he made the imprudent mistake of drawing attention to his one true love as he labeled her as anonymous Princess Cindy. He did not anticipate the media storm that it would cause, as the entire country music world speculated as to who this woman was that had captured America’s best catch and possibly could have taken him off the market.
“I think it played a role, but she needed to get away from it all. She’s on a spiritual sojourn. She needs some time alone with God to find her place in the Kingdom. She needed to get away from Scotty, and he needed to be away from her for a while. She couldn’t just run from him into your arms, it wouldn’t have been good for anyone. She does hate the publicity, but I wouldn’t let that worry you. She told me that eventually she is going to have to accept and learn to deal with it, because you were worth the sacrifice of giving up her obscure life. She is not so confident in her writing abilities, so she hasn't decided whether to try and publish her book." 
"I'm glad she's writing, I'm sure it would be a blockbuster. Have you seen any of it?" 
"Nope, it's classified. You'd think it was a secret so high up that it had a Q clearance,"  Becca chuckled along with Nick, but he was not surprised at her shy discretion.    
“I gotta tell you, Becca, I’ve been a beast to live with, looking so forward to this day. When I saw you coming up behind the girls, I think my heart sunk down to my feet. I’m relieved to know that she is not back with the deputy. That was my biggest fear. She was so afraid of starting something with me with her fragile heart. I was afraid that she was going to opt for the security of her deputy.” Becca put her hand on Nick’s arm trying to comfort him.  
“After being with you and the light and joy that you brought to her heart, as well as resurrecting the shiver, I can’t ever see that happening. She adores Scotty, and I don’t know how she’ll break away from him, but she wants to be with you. She’s so in love with you.” 
“Did she tell you that? She wouldn’t admit it to me that night.” 
“She didn’t have to. She wants to wait until she thinks Scotty will be able to deal with it. She’s very protective of him, as he is of her.” 
“Is he dangerous?” Becca took in a huge sigh, disappointed with Katie’s choice, but with Matthew’s urging, forced to trust her with Scotty. 
“Look, I don’t know what she told you, she won’t tell us, but I have to admit, I see a change in Scotty. Now whether it’s permanent I don’t know, but he is much more tender and very repentant. Losing her that last time really set him back and he’s working like crazy trying to get her back.” Becca’s faced showed Nick of her disappointment. She almost wished he were still violent so that she could insist on his exit from their lives, favoring Nick for a future potential brother-in-law.
“You don’t like him, do you? The girls were pretty explicit about that.” She dropped her shoulders. 
“He’s a decent enough guy, but just wrong for her. He can’t make her glow and happy like you did and like she was every time she talked about you.” Although Nick was dreadfully disappointed, Becca’s encouragement lightened Nick’s broken heart. 
“Scotty’s heard about you, unfortunately, from the girls and he’s pretty bummed out about it. I think he’s noticed the way she feels about you. He’s just as nervous about you breaking her heart as she is, maybe even more. I think with you on the horizon as a threat, it is even more motivation for him to change for the better, but nothing he can do can cause her to fall in love, so you don’t have to worry about that.”  
“She told me that she came as a package deal, if I got her, I’d have to take the deputy along with us,” he said cackling. Becca laughed.  
“That’s sounds like her. To Matthew, he’s like a brother, so I think he is permanent in her life. I think on this trip, she’s trying to put space between her and Scotty, as some sort of buffer to the blow of him losing her to you. He’s not going to give up the fight, but he can’t win. Oh, and Matthew sends his regards, and he says that he can’t thank you enough for helping her to come to the light of the Lord. He wanted me to encourage you with this message. Let me see if I can get it right, “In God’s perfect time he believes that he’ll be walking his beloved adopted sister down the aisle and giving her over to you.” Nick laughed at that message, thrilled to have the confidence of Matthew as to their fate. “Mr. Thomas, you aren’t going to be able to get out of it now. You poured it on pretty thick from all that I’ve heard.” He nodded his head as Becca chuckled and uncomfortable laugh. Even Becca was slightly fearful of Nick’s heart-crushing power over her best friend of sixteen years. Becca did all she could to keep Nick interested in Katie, fearing that his feelings for her would fade. She had no clue how much he truly loved her. 
“My name is Nicolas Paul, that’s what my friends and family call me. Believe me, Becca; I won’t be getting out of it, that’s for sure. I fell crazy madly in love with her. It was the most incredible experience of my life. I don’t know how much she told you about me, but I’ve never been in love, and it was almost instantaneous with her. All this time without her has made me love her even more.”  
“She’s told the story of that night over and over, when Scotty isn’t around. You know how good she is at story telling. It is almost as if we were in that booth with you.” He nodded his head as Becca chuckled. “Nicolas Paul, we know that woman better than she knows herself, and I can assure you that she did indeed fall in love, crazy love. She has a great deal of respect for you that she never had for Michael when she fell in love with him. She never fully trusted him, especially after she caught him. I think she remained guarded with him for the rest of their time together.”  
“He never made her feel safe and secure, did he?”  
“Actually, before he went back to the band, he was pretty good. When they were expecting baby Markus, was the happiest time for them, but then, you know what happened after that. She pushed him back to the band, figuring that his music would make him happy. He was dead within the year.” Nick sighed out such sadness for her heartbreak and was reminded how fragile her heart was.  
“I made her a promise to give her that fairy tale life that she never dreamed possible. I intend to keep my promise. I think every day that goes by, I think of her more and more. I have notebooks of songs and letters that I’ve written to her. I have a whole damn album devoted to her. Even though we only had that one night, I got a big enough sip of the love-cocktail to carry me over.” 
“Well, I hope it won’t be long now. I want to see that same twinkle in her eye that she came home with. You brought so much light in her life, besides Jesus, which is light enough of its own. Now, she’s looking forward to a new love.”   
"Thank you so much for the encouragement.” Shawn brought the girls back after giving them a tour of the bus and warning the guys that Nick’s Teach did not show up. Nick gave them each a signed CD. 
Becca gave Nick a note from his Teach with her scent permeating the envelope. Nick brought the envelope up to his nose and just absorbed the essence that had just refreshed his memory and feelings for his one true love, his Princess Cindy. 
He opened the letter and read it, wanting to send a message back. 
My Dearest PC,            
There is no place I would rather be than standing before you, looking up into those beautiful eyes of yours. I want to be in your arms, I miss that so much. I’m so sorry that I could not come to see you. I hope that you will understand. I needed to spend some time away. Things got a little crazy in there, so I took a sabbatical. I’m working on a project. 
I miss you, and I have quite a few notebooks of letters just waiting for you. I cannot wait to exchange our letters. Take care of yourself. You are the face of hope for me, I know that God will bring us together in His perfect time. I can’t wait to meet your Gramps. Turn to him. He will encourage you, God Bless. 
Love,    
Princess Cindy  
The letter gave Nick new hope and put life back into his hope deferred heart.  He then sent a signed CD back to Katie with a personal note in it. 
“My darling Teach,   
    I missed you so much. I wish you were here. My heart is broken that I cannot see you today, I was so looking forward to it. I hope that you find the answers that you need and get back quickly in touch with me. I never expected us to be apart this long, so please hurry and come back to me. My heart aches for you. Take care of yourself. I will see you, again, my Princess Cinderella.  
  I love you.   
     Love  PC”

****

Silence and sadness befell that front seat in Matthew's Ford Expedition.  Both reminisced about one thing leading to another to create this really horrible nightmare for both of them.   
"You He gave us the signed CD’s and one to give to Katie. He told me to tell her to ignore what she heard in the public media. He felt bad about the media blitz to find his anonymous Princess Cindy that he spoke of in the liner notes, so he said he was going to devise a plan to take the pressure off her by playing the jilted lover.  I just wish I didn’t keep telling him that I was sure that she’d return to him when I wasn’t that sure myself.”
“Don’t worry Becca, it will all work out. Hey, let’s just go back in and see if we can leave word at the desk with our phone number if Katie comes looking. 
“Good idea Matthew.” Matthew went up to the security guard and quietly told him of his relationship status to Katie Lynn Moore who was in there with Nick Thomas. The guard spoke to his superiors and they decided to let Becca and Matthew wait in a more private secluded space, until Katie came for them. 

PART 3
RUSHING TO THE ER






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