Nick woke up, a smile on his face, and rolled over, hoping to surprise his wife with a good morning kiss. What he found
instead made his heart race. He prayed it was a joke. Getting out of his bed, he threw on a pair of baggy pants and a
t-shirt and grabbed the phone off the nightstand. He tried to remain calm as he dialed his brother's number on his way to
the nursery. He heaved a sigh of relief as he found his sons, safe and sound in their cribs.
"Hello?" Aaron answered wearily.
"Aaron? Is Brie there?" Nick asked.
"Nick? No, shes not."
"Is everything okay? Did something happen to the twins??" Aaron quizzed.
"The twins are fine." He heard a sigh of relief on the other end of the line, then a voice that sounded like Natalie's.
"Has Natalie heard from her?"
"From who? Brianna?" he asked. "She said no. Nick, whats wrong??"
"I- I think Brianna- I can't..." he said, unable to piece together his sentence. He didn't want to believe it.
"Listen, Nick, calm down. Natalie and I will be right there. Whatever happened, we're gonna help you." Aaron stated.
"Yeah..." Nick said before hanging up without waiting for a response. He walked back to the bedroom, sitting down on
the bed. He looked down next to him and picked up the note he'd found on his wife's pillow earlier:
It hurts me to do this, Nick,
it really does. Thats why I've decided to write this to you, I couldn't say it out loud. You've
given me everything I ever wanted: children, a home, a man who loves me... And I thank you for it all. But I'm sorry, I
have to do this. I'm not as strong as I thought I was, I'm not as strong as you. I can't handle it.
You and Cedric and
Trevor have been and always will be the biggest blessings I've been given. Once again and a million times more, I'm sorry.
I love you Nick, but I can't stay here with you anymore. For my sake, and for the sake of you and our sons, please
don't blame yourself.
I love you and always will,
He tried to hold back tears as he slowly re-read her letter. Why was this happening? Why couldn't she just come back
and tell him it was a joke? 'Please, God, give me back last night. Last night, when I fell asleep with my wife in my arms...'
His head jerked up as he heard the door open. He tried even harder to hold back from crying.
"Nick... what happened?" He asked, Natalie standing behind him.
"Brie... Shes... Gone." Nick said, unable to hold back the tears any longer. Aaron rushed over and hugged his brother
tightly, letting him sob. He'd almost never seen his brother like this...
Natalie picked up the letter Nick had dropped on the floor near the bed and tears began to well in her eyes. She walked
over and rubbed Nick's back, handing the note to Aaron. He stood in disbelief as he read Brianna's words. He and Natalie squeezed
Nick tightly once more before letting him go.
"I'm gonna go take care of the babies." Natalie said, hugging Nick once more and kissing him lightly on the cheek.
Aaron sat next to his brother on the bed, rubbing his back. "I should call Kev and the others." Nick nodded silently
and went to the nursery, where he found Natalie holding Cedric in her arms, humming to him. She stopped humming and looked
up when Nick cleared his throat.
"I'm so sorry about this, Nick." she consoled.
"Me too..." He said, running his fingers over Trevor's light brown hair as he slept. "The last time I was in here with
her, she was holding Trev."
"Oh Nick..." she stood behind him, watching as he carefully pick up his other son and held him in his arms.
After a few silent minutes Cedric stirred and began to cry, but Natalie quickly quieted him. "Do you think they can tell?" Nick
asked, looking up at her with bloodshot eyes.
After taking a moment to think, Natalie finally said, "I think that they know that something's different, but that their Daddy
and their Uncles and their Aunts all love them and will take care of them."
She put Cedric down and walked back over to Nick, who was letting Trevor hold his finger in his tiny hand. Moments
later Aaron, Kevin, and Kristin walked in.
"Nick," Kevin said, walking over and hugging him gently, not wanting to disturb the baby, "Aaron told us everything.
I called Brian. He and Leigh are on their way."
"And I called Alex and Howie. They'll be here in a few minutes." Aaron reported. Kristin walked over to Nick's other
side and rubbed his back. Tears began streaming down Nick's face again as he looked at the baby: Brianna's baby. Kristen
cautiously took the baby from Nick, who found himself in a tight embrace with his bandmate. Nick felt Natalie and Aaron join
their group hug. Once he had calmed down enough, they all let go and Kristin hugged Nick for a few moments after laying Trevor
back down to sleep.
"It'll be okay, Nick..." she whispered.
"Have you eaten anything?" Kevin asked. Nick silently shook his head.
"You need to eat."
"I'm not hungry."
"Too bad. You need to-"
"We'll go make something, okay?" Kristin offered before she and Natalie left the room.
"I can't believe this is happening." Nick stated.
"I can't either..." Aaron added. He walked over to his brother. The three men stood silently in the room for a few moments
before Brian walked in, Leighanne following behind holding Baylee.
"Uncle Nick!" Baylee said, beaming.
"Shh..." Nick said, taking Baylee from Leighanne and holding him so he was face to face with the toddler.
"Wheres Auntie Brie?" the child asked. Nick closed his eyes for a moment, letting the tears stream down.
"Its okay, Leigh." Nick said to Leighanne, who quietly offered to take Baylee with her downstairs. He then looked
back at Baylee, the little boy still smiling and happy. "Well, Bay," he said, sniffling, "Auntie Brie went away." Nick
wasn't sure if Baylee was old enough to understand such a grown-up thing, but he knew he wasn't.