For the First Time by Mellz Bellz
Summary:


When Alyssa Martinelli decided to accept an exciting college internship in Florida, the last thing she expected was to fall in love. When Nick Carter returned home from a long worldwide tour and a painful breakup, the last thing he wanted was another relationship. When the two of them are introduced by a mutual friend, the sparks begin to fly and for the first time they realize that maybe they've found exactly what they've both needed - in each other.


Categories: Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters: Nick
Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance
Warnings: Graphic Sexual Content
Challenges:
Series: Not Like We Predicted
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 20245 Read: 8867 Published: 07/01/11 Updated: 07/15/11
Story Notes:

So, I just wanted to clear up some confusion about this story. I've been itching to get back into writing, but I've been feeling a little rusty, so I decided to go back and begin with some familair characters. In re-reading Under My Skin there is a lot about the story I would like to go back and change being older and wiser now. I started writing UMS like 4 years ago, so obviously a lot has changed. Anyway it's always bothered me, so I decided to attempt a rewrite. My master plan begins with this story which takes place from the very beginning of Nick and Alyssa's relationship and sort of cuts out/clarifies a lot of the unecessary flashbacks in UMS. Step two will be to rewrite UMS. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with A Little Taste of Sin. I will most likely either edit it slightly to reflect some changes or edit it so that it can work as a stand alone story. I have also left up When My World is Crashing in case I ever decide I want to finish it. As of now all of these stories are still listed as being in the Not Like We Predicted series. New readers are welcome to check out the other stories in the series, but please bear in mind that I am rewriting, so things will probably change along the way. Also note that I have changed some character names for various reasons, so please try not to be confused. I hope you enjoy and please remember to leave me your thoughts!

1. Chapter 1- A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Mellz Bellz

2. Chapter 2- Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match. by Mellz Bellz

3. Chapter 3 - Underwhelming Expectations by Mellz Bellz

4. Chapter 4 - Butterflies by Mellz Bellz

5. Chapter 5- It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To by Mellz Bellz

Chapter 1- A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes by Mellz Bellz
Author's Notes:

Alyssa arrives in Florida for her internship.

Chapter 1- A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes

January, 2000

 Alyssa Martinelli drummed her fingertips against the inside door of the taxi she was riding in as it pulled away from the curb at Orlando International Airport. Her stomach flip flopped with nervous excitement knowing that she was beginning what was probably the biggest adventure of her short nineteen year old life. She was still in disbelief that she was actually here in Florida, getting ready to fulfill one of her biggest dreams.

  Who doesn't wish they could run away from home to work at Disney World? she thought warmly to herself. Actually she assumed a lot of people could care less. Okay, so maybe she wasn't exactly running away from home. She'd been accepted into the Disney College Program, an internship program aimed at college students who were looking for the opportunity to work for a major company. It would be a great experience to put on a resume and she'd be able to earn some college credit at the same time. Even though Alyssa knew that the work would be far from glamorous, she was eagerly looking forward to the opportunity. She would probably be assigned to working a cash register at a fast food location throughout one of the parks, or stocking merchandise in a gift shop. It wasn't the work part that she was really looking forward to as much as the overall experience. She'd be getting to live away from home among other people her own age from all over the world. Just the life lessons she'd get from the total experience would most likely to be more beneficial to her than any college credit she'd be receiving.

 Her parents who were normally fairly overprotective, had surprisingly been all for the experience. They hadn't been too keen on her going away to school, so she had wound up staying local for the first part of her freshman year, completing a few courses at a local community college. After her older sister Megan had dropped out of school and ran off to California with a guy, they'd been particularly strict with Alyssa. When Alyssa had seen the posters advertising the Disney Program around campus, it sounded almost too good to be true. She'd attended the local informational session and then presented her parents with the literature that she'd received about the program. At first, she expected them to be against the idea since it would mean delaying at least a semester from her studies, but their reaction was entirely unexpected. They thought that it would be a positive experience for her and being a big Disney buff, they knew what an exciting opportunity it would be for her.

 'Do it now when you're young," her Dad had advised her. "If you don't, someday you will look back and regret that you didn't take this opportunity. College can wait."

 So here she was on her way to her new apartment complex where she would be staying while she was involved in the program. Her flight from New York had been uneventful and now she was just nervous to see her new place and meet her new roommates.

 Disney had three apartment complexes that they owned to house their college program staff. They were kind of set up like really nice college dorms with usually four roommates sharing one apartment. There were two bedrooms with two people assigned to each room. Alyssa had received her apartment assignment as well as the names of her other three roommates in her introductory packet to the program. She had also been able to take a virtual tour of the apartment online, so she felt as well prepared as she could be. She'd also been checking out past CPer's experiences over the internet and she was relieved to hear that majority of them were positive. She was very excited to meet new friends and create some magical memories.

 Before she knew it, her taxi turned into what she assumed was the apartment complex and rolled to a stop in front of her building.  I guess this is it, she thought to herself, biting her lip as she thanked her driver and handed him his fare along with a generous tip. She stepped out of the cab and walked around to the back to retrieve her luggage from the trunk which the driver had already popped for her.

 She headed towards the building grateful that she had been assigned a unit on the bottom floor. She'd hate to have to lug all her bags up a flight of stairs or two. She quickly located the number that was written in her paperwork and as she approached the door she realized that she did not yet have her key. She'd have to stop at the office to pick it up. Deciding to take a chance anyway, she turned the doorknob and the door swung open easily.

 "Hello," she called, her voice echoing throughout the seemingly empty apartment. "Is anybody here yet?"

 She heard the sound of footsteps and a few moments later a tiny redhead appeared in front of her. "Hi. I'm Victoria, but everyone just calls me Torie. It's nice to meet you. I'm guessing we're going to be living together for the next few months?"

 Alyssa nodded her head. 'It appears that way. I'm Alyssa." She stuck out her hand in a formal greeting.

 "Awesome to meet you," Torie replied as she took it. "The other girls haven't arrived yet, so we get first dibs on rooms. I of course grabbed the bigger one. You know the early bird gets the worm and all that. You are welcome to room with me if you like."

 "Sure," Alyssa agreed. Torie seemed nice enough and she didn't want to take the chance that her other two roommates might not be as welcoming.

 "So where are you from?" Torie asked as Alyssa followed her down the hall towards their bedroom.

 "New York," she answered. "What about you?"

 "Originally Kentucky, but I've been going to school down here in Florida." Alyssa thought she had recognized a bit of a southern drawl to her voice. "New York huh? That must be exciting." She wrinkled her nose. "I've been there a few times, but not sure if I'd actually want to live there."

 Oh, I don't live like in the city or anything," she explained. "I live on Long Island about an hour or so away. I agree with you about Manhattan. It's an awesome place to visit for the day, but I don't know if I could do it long term."

 "That's cool. So what made you decide to come down here for the college program?" Torie asked as she stretched out onto her already made bed, watching Alyssa start to unpack her belongings.

 Alyssa shrugged. "It just sounded like such an amazing opportunity to meet new friends and how many people actually can say that they got to work at a major theme park? Plus there's the fact that I'm a major Disney freak at heart."

 "Me too," the other girl confessed. "I feel like such a little fangirl being here. What's your favorite Disney movie? No wait, let me guess. The Little Mermaid?"

 Alyssa chuckled to herself. "How did you guess? I can probably recite that movie line by line. Beauty and the Beast is a close second though."

 "Because it's my favorite too. I can already tell that we're going to get along great! Anyway my cousin urged me to apply for the program. He used to work for Disney when he was younger and said that it was a really fun experience for him. He even met his wife while he was working down here. Isn't that totally sweet? He thought that it would be good for me, so I figured what the hell." Torie shrugged.

 "Are you close with your cousin?" Somehow Alyssa got the sense that by the way her new roommates eyes shown in admiration when she talked about him that the answer was yes.

 Torie nodded. "He's like a second father to me. My parents have been going through a really messy divorce and I really didn't want to stick around to watch the fallout. So, I transferred down here for college and have been staying with him and his fiancee. This internship came at a great time because he's been away on business for the last few months and I felt funny staying at his place by myself and I think he did too. in fact, I think Kevin was so glad to see me go that he even offered me Kristin's old car to use while I'm here," she joked. "He bought her a new Audi as an early wedding gift."

 "Wow..." Alyssa commented. It sounded as if Torie and her cousin came from a pretty well off family. She wondered what exactly this Kevin did for a living that he was away on business for so long, but felt that it was too forward of her to ask somebody that she had just met that type of question. Not that Alyssa's family was poor, but they were also far from rich. She lived a very middle class life. "So, you have a car here?" Alyssa had remembered reading from other former CPer's that making friends with someone who had a car was a very good idea, especially if you did have one yourself with you. Alyssa's own Neon was sitting back up in her garage in NY. Her parents had insisted that she fly down versus making the 23 hour drive on our own. Plus, she doubted her car could handle that kind of mileage. Not that she'd have too much of a reason to need a car. There would be shuttles providing them transportation to and from their job locations as well as the other parks. If she wanted to leave Disney grounds for whatever reason though she would need to find some other way of getting around and cabs could get expensive.

 "Yea. It's parked out front, so like if we get bored or something we're totally free to explore the area. If you ever need to run to the store or anything just let me know," she offered. "I mean I don't know you well enough to lend you it, but I'd be glad to drive you anywhere. Within reason of course. So, what about your folks? Are you close with your family?"

 Alyssa nodded her head still surprised at how friendly Torie was being to her. Maybe it was the New Yorker in her, but she had always been wary of meeting new people and getting to that friendship level right away. Here Torie was practically offering to lend Alyssa her car and she had known the girl all of five minutes. Maybe it was just that Southern hospitality that she wasn't used to. "Yea, it's going to be weird living so far away from them, but I think it'll be good for me. They can still be a tad bit on the protective side."

 Torie wrinkled her nose. "That sucks. Sometimes I wish my parents were a little more protective though. Do you have any siblings?"

 Again Alyssa nodded. "Yea, I have two sisters. One older and one younger. Meg's two years older than me and Brittany is 13."

 "That's quite an age spread huh?"

 Alyssa laughed a bit. "Meg and I always tease Brit and tell her that she wasn't planned. I really do think that she came as a bit of surprise to my parents. She's got my Dad wrapped around her little pinkie though."

 "So, you're the Jan Brady of the family?" Torie asked with a smirk.

 "Huh?" Alyssa was caught off guard with the allusion to  The Brady Bunch.

 "You know? The Brady Bunch? How Jan is the middle sister and is always complaining about how Marcia gets all the attention because she's pretty and popular with boys and Cindy gets attention because she's young and cute," Torie explained.

 "Oh..." Alyssa giggled. "Ehh... Sort of. I mean Meg and I are pretty close, at least we were until she met Josh. She started dating him towards the end of her senior year and then she started college, but dropped out after one semester. Josh convinced her that they could make a living out in California selling his artwork or something." She rolled her eyes. "Last I heard they were both working at Wal-mart."

 "You don't sound like you are a fan of this Josh character huh?"

 "I'm not," she confessed. "There's something about him that rubs me the wrong way, but it's her life. After she ran off though, my parents have been even stricter with me. It sucks, especially because I think they need to be more concerned about Brit. She's growing up way too fast in my opinion. Anyway I'm just glad that they agreed to let me come down here. I think I need some space."

 "I hear you." Torie sighed. "You are lucky though. I wish I had siblings."

 "Well, you have your cousin who sounds like he's a big brother figure to you."

 'Yea, I guess you are right," she agreed. "I could never get away with much around him or any of his friends. When I was with them I was always, 'one of the boys,' but when it came down to it they'd all do whatever they could to protect me.
 

"Sounds nice. I always wished I had an older brother or something growing up," Alyssa wistfully replied before changing the subject. "So, what area are you going to be working in?"

 "My first choice was ride operations, but I wound up being placed at one of the hotels working front desk." Torie shrugged. "It is what it is. I guess I can be thankful that I'm working inside in the AC and I'll get to meet all kinds of interesting people. I'm sure I'll be the source of a lot of complaints too, but it certainly won't be dull. What about you?"

 "Well, I'm placed at that huge gift shop at the Magic Kingdom, but I'm kind of thinking of auditioning for a role in entertainment," she admitted, biting her lip. "I was told that those roles are usually cast the first week or so. I thought that I may as well give it a shot. I just don't know if I'm good enough."

 Torie smiled. "My cousin was in entertainment. He used to play Aladdin. I take it you dance or sing then?"

 "Dance," Alyssa supplied. "I mean I can kind of sing, but not like awesome or anything. I was in choir in high school and stuff. I've been dancing though since I was three. I stopped taking lessons when I was 16, but I was captain of my high school dance team my senior year. We used to compete and stuff. I took a few dance classes in college this past year to stay in shape. I'm a bit rusty, so I don't know how I'll do."

 Torie nodded. "Well good luck. This program is full of musical theater geeks. They usually get most of the roles in entertainment."

 "So are you saying your cousin was a musical theater geek?" Alyssa laughed.

 "Not exactly..." There seemed to be some hesitation in Torie's voice. "He sings though and can dance pretty well." She seemed to be choosing her words carefully. "Anyway so do you have a boyfriend back home in New York?"

 Alyssa couldn't help feeling like she was purposely changing the subject, but chose to pretend not to notice. Torie had already revealed quite a bit about herself already and it was only the first day. They'd be living together for the next few months, so if there was more to the story perhaps it would come out over time. "No," she admitted blushing. "Guys and I usually don't hit it off very well."

 "Why not?" Torie asked. "I mean you seem really pretty and nice."

 Alyssa shrugged. "I wish I knew the answer myself. I guess I'm just really kind of shy around them and I'm picky. Plus I usually pick the ones that are way out of my league." She wish she knew the answer herself. She had never quite understood what made some girls popular with boys and other girls seemingly invisible. She knew that looks were only one small piece of the puzzle and she'd had plenty of people tell her that she was pretty for it to not at least be partially true. Yet sometimes she'd see very average looking girls who had swarms of guys around them. Even with her own sister Meg, she noticed that growing up she'd never had a shortage of boyfriends and the two of them shared many of the same features. So, she knew it wasn't necessarily looks that were holding her back. Maybe her personality just sucked.

 "Aww... Yea I totally understand about the falling for guys out of your league part," Torie confessed. "It's okay though. I'm single too and that's the best way to be right now. Do you know how many people wind up hooking up during College Program? I mean look at my cousin and Kristin. It definitely happens, so who knows. Maybe we'll wind up meeting the men of our dreams here. There's so much opportunity to meet people. You just never know."

 "Yea I guess you are right," she agreed with a smile. "I think this experience will be super positive for us." She already felt relieved to have found a friend in Torie. There was definitely something about her that Alyssa felt that she could trust and she was kind of glad that they'd be rooming together. She'd been so scared that she'd get stuck with a roommate she hated, but she doubt there would be a problem with Torie. They seemed to have lots in common and her bubbly personality seemed enough to draw people right in. Alyssa was already feeling more at ease. She just hoped her other two roommates were just as nice.

 

Chapter 2- Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match. by Mellz Bellz
Author's Notes:

Torie convinces Alyssa that she is perfect for her friend Nick.

Chapter 2- Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make me a Match

 The next few weeks for Alyssa flew by in a blur as she got settled into a steady routine at her internship. She was having the time of her life so far and loving every minute of the experience. Luckily she hit it off well with her other roommates besides Torie although she felt a much stronger bond of friendship with her. The two other girls Darlene and Kerri were also very nice which Alyssa was relieved to find. Even though the four of them were rarely all home at the same time between their differing work schedules she was thankful not to have any unnecessary drama.

 Alyssa was especially loving her new job. She'd gone to the entertainment auditions not expecting much, especially after what Torie had told her about how fierce the competition was. Much to her surprise she'd been cast to play the character of Belle around the Magic Kingdom. She wouldn't be performing in any shows or anything like that, but got to be a part of some of Princess character meals at Cinderella's castle and do some meet and greets around the park. At first the job sounded extremely easy, but Alyssa quickly realized that it was anything but. Not only did she have to deal with pushy parents demanding she take pictures with their children, but being outside for a great deal of the day in full stage makeup and a wig in the unpredictable Florida weather could be pretty brutal. Still though it made her day sometimes to see a little girl's face break out into delight after meeting her as if she was a famous celebrity or something. She loved interacting with the children so much that she actually began to consider perhaps focusing her college studies on something involving them, such as teaching.

 Outside of the long 40 plus hour work weeks she was putting in she kept herself pretty busy socially. There were all sorts of parties and social gatherings for the College Program interns at her apartment complex and throughout the rest of the parks. She was making a lot of new friends, but so far the closest one had been Torie. Outside of work they were inseparable and quickly discovered that they had loads in common, mostly being their dorky sense of humors.

 It had been about a month now is Alyssa had first arrived in Florida and she had just returned back to her apartment from a particularly tiring twelve hour shift. After being on her feet all day long she just wanted to kick back and relax on her bed with her laptop. Maybe she'd chat with a few of her old friends back home.

 After saying a quick hello to Darlene who was in the kitchen talking to a few friends she had invited over, Alyssa entered the bedroom that she and Torie shared and kicked off her flip flops. She could hear the water running from the bathroom located of their bedroom and figured that Torie must be in there taking a shower. She walked over to the stereo that Torie had brought with her from home and rifled through her CD case looking for some good background music. She decided on the newest Backstreet Boys CD and put it into the CD player. Then she got out her laptop and began to boot it up as the first song Larger Than Life began to play.

 A few minutes later, the bedroom door creaked open and Torie stepped in wearing a bathrobe and rubbing her wet hair with a towel. "Hey," she greeted. "How was work?"

 "Brutal," Alyssa replied focusing her attention away from her computer. "It had to be close to 100 degrees out and the autograph lines were never ending. Then I felt so bad for this one little girl because her mother kept insisting she take a picture with me only the girl was so nervous she couldn't stop crying. The mother practically forced her into the picture and was yelling at her that she didn't pay over a thousand dollars for this trip to not get this picture that is evidently going to be their Christmas card next year. I hate parents like that."

 "I know right. Poor girl. She'll probably need years of therapy stemming from this incident," Torie joked. She paused for a moment recognizing the music coming out of the stereo speakers. "I never pegged you as a Backstreet Boy fan."

 Alyssa shrugged her cheeks reddening. "I'm not really, but their songs are pretty catchy. And the blonde one is not bad to look at either."

 Torie just giggled. "What?" Alyssa asked innocently. "What's so funny?"

 "Nothing..." Torie replied still holding back a smirk. She turned her face towards the wall, so Alyssa could no longer see her expression so she just let it go and got back to her computer. The two were silent for a few minutes until Torie finally broke the silence.

 "So, if I tell you something will you promise to not get mad at me and like not tell anybody else?" she mysteriously asked.

 Alyssa perked up and slid her laptop off of her thighs and onto the mattress curious by what her roommate had to tell her. "Sure I guess so," she replied.

 "You seriously can't tell anyone. Not Kerri or Darlene or anyone. Got it?"

 Alyssa nodded her head. "Come on Tor... What's the big dark secret? Are you really a man?" she joked.

 "No!" Torie laughed hurling her pillow off her bed towards Alyssa's head. "So you know how a few weeks ago you thought it was kind of weird that I don't have any pictures up of my family and friends and stuff?"

 "Uh huh," Alyssa nodded. She'd made the remark not long after they'd settled in. Alyssa's side of the room was filled with pictures of her and her family and mementos from home, where Torie's was bare. It had just struck her as a little odd. Even Keri and Darlene had plenty of pictures adorning their room as well.

 "Well, you see the truth is my cousin is like kind of famous," she admitted twisting her fingers.

 Alyssa raised her eyebrows not sure if this was serious or just another one of Torie's pranks. "Like how famous?"

 "Like Backstreet Boy famous."

 The room was silent a moment while Alyssa filled in the blanks. "Wait... So you mean that your cousin is..." Her eyes darted towards the stereo.

 "A member of Nsync?" Torie supplied with a laugh. "No I'm kidding, but you were just listening to him. That business trip he's on that I was telling you about when we first met? He's been on tour with them since this summer."

 'No way..." Alyssa breathed. Not that she was a rabid fan, but she just never knew anyone who even knew anyone who was famous before. After the initial shock faded away after a few minutes she frowned growing doubtful. "How do I know that you're not just making this up?" She hated to think like that, but as close as she and Torie had become over the last few weeks she still in many ways barely knew her.

 Torie didn't answer, but instead leaned over her bed and pulled out a thick photo album from underneath her bed spread. "Here. Take a look," she thrust the album out at Alyssa.

 Alyssa opened it up and inside there were pictures of Torie with her alleged cousin Kevin. As she flipped through the pages she recognized her with the other guys from the group that she recognized from the album cover and what she had seen of them on TV and in magazines and stuff. The doubtful part of her kept thinking that perhaps Torie was just some crazy groupie who followed them around snapping pictures. She had to admit though that many of the photos looked legit. Like they were casual and sometimes silly, not posed and forced like many fan photos would probably be. "Wow... So that Kevin is your cousin Kevin?" She realized that they did share the same last name.

 "The one and only. So, now you know my deep dark secret. I guess you can kind of understand why I don't want that getting out right? I mean like Kerri and Darlene seem like really cool girls, but I can never be too careful. I don't exactly have a ton of female friends for this very reason. It's hard to determine who are my friends because they like me or who are my friends because they like my cousin," she admitted.

 "So what made you tell me?" Alyssa asked, feeling sort of honored that Torie had trusted her enough to share her secret with her.

 Torie shrugged. "You seem really down to earth and not at all the kind of girl who would freak out about this kind of stuff. Plus, we've gotten to be such good friends that I figured that I probably couldn't hide it for too much longer without appearing shady."

 "Aww... Well, thanks..." Alyssa replied. She had to admit that it did make her feel pretty darn good to hear someone else compliment her like that. "So, I'm guessing that you're pretty close with the rest of the guys too huh?" she asked glancing back down at the pictures in Torie's album. Her face reddened as she realized the faux pas she had made earlier about admitting that she thought the blonde one was cute. Based on some of the pictures it seemed as if him and Torie were close.

 "They're all like my older brothers. Especially Nick. We're the same age, so we pretty much went through puberty together," she joked. A devilish glint filled her green eyes. "So, you really think he's hot?"

 Alyssa could feel her cheeks growing hot. "He's definitely attractive, but I mean I'm definitely not stepping on your territory or anything," she stumbled.

 "What? My territory?" Torie sounded confused for a second, but then she erupted in laughter. "Oh my God... You think that Nick and I are like together?" She was practically howling at the thought.

 "Well yea..." Alyssa admitted feeling kind of dumb. "I mean you look pretty chummy in some of these pictures." She referenced one of his arms wrapped around Torie and him dropping a sloppy kiss on her cheek. "And you yourself said that you practically grew up with each other. He is really cute. How could you not have went for it?"

 Torie wrinkled her nose. "Okay first ewww... I don't think of Nick like that. So maybe when I was about fourteen I developed a little teeny crush on him and he did give me my first kiss, but it was like really awkward and we decided never again. And that picture is just Nick being Nick. He kisses everybody. He thinks he's like The Godfather or something. Plus, I told you that I didn't have a boyfriend silly."

 "Yea, but if I were dating him I don't think I'd be advertising it to the world either. Especially to people I just met," Alyssa pointed out.

 "Would you like to?"

 "Would I like to what?"

 "You know... Date him."

 "Excuse me?" Alyssa practically did a double take.

 "Would you like to date him?" Torie repeated. "He broke up with his girlfriend a few months ago and has pretty much just been casually dating and hooking up ever since. He's away on tour right now, but that will be all done with in a few weeks. I could totally set you guys up."

 "Wow... Uhmm," Alyssa's throat went dry. She couldn't picture herself dating a guy who looked that good, much less a famous guy that looked that good. She was still a little wary of Torie as well and in her experience guys like that seemed to be only looking for one thing. "I dunno Tor... I just don't think he'd be interested in a girl like me."

 "I disagree," Torie argued. "As of right now he's into girls period. I'd rather see him with someone nice and sweet like you unlike a lot of the other bimbos he hangs out with. Come on... You two would be great together. I know he looks stuck up, but he is like the biggest geek at heart. I cannot believe I didn't think of this sooner!"

 "Tor..." Alyssa whined. "He's like all famous and I'm just a normal girl. This kind of stuff only works out in like bad movies and stuff."

 Torie shook her head obviously too excited to take no for an answer. "You really do have a lot in common actually. Let me do this for you, please!" She was practically begging. "I swear to you if you two do not hit it off I will like pay for your food for a week or something."

 Alyssa sighed. At heart she really was a people pleaser and she could see this meant a lot to Torie. Plus, there was her offer to buy all of her food for the week. Even though their apartment came with a fully equipped kitchen, they were barely home long enough to cook, so they mostly just ate at the parks and the restaurants within the resort. Even though they did get a slight discount it was still pricey. "If it means that much to you..."

 "This is going to be awesome. I promise you some day when the two of you get married and make lots of cute little babies together, you'll have me to thank." Torie was practically beaming with excitement.

 Alyssa just looked at her skeptically. "Aren't you just getting a little bit ahead of yourself here?"

 "Okay, maybe a little," she admitted. "Seriously though relax. I promise I'm not just going to throw you to him or anything. I'll think of something low key. Maybe we can all hang out sometime soon as a group that way you don't have to feel as nervous."

 Alyssa had to admit that she she was grateful at Torie's suggestion. "That sounds like it could work." She was already almost counting on Nick not being interested in her anyway, so a group setting sounded pretty good. If anything she'd at least have Torie there if things got awkward.

 "I'm really excited. I have a good feeling about the two of you."

 Alyssa didn't say anything. She just laid back against her pillow, her brow furrowed deep in thought. She wanted to share in Torie's enthusiasm, but experience made her not want to get her hopes up. She supposed that it was a bit unfair of her to judge Nick before she'd even met him, but she just had a very hard time believing that a guy who could have almost any girl he wanted would be interested in her. She didn't want to hurt Torie's feelings though so for now she figured that she would just humor her. Who knew if Nick would actually be willing to be set up with one of Torie's friends anyway. Maybe the whole thing would just never wind up happening at all.

*****

 Nick Carter had found himself at a stalemate in his life. He'd come to the realization that he had not been happy in his last relationship, yet he'd been involved in it for so long that he almost didn't know how to be single. He had dated Mandy since he was 17 and at first he'd sworn that he was in love with her and couldn't be happier. Then they made the decision to buy a home and move into together not long after they had turned 18 and that's when things had started to turn to shit. At his young age, Nick hadn't anticipated just how big of a move that had been and had quickly learned that once you started living with someone else you really began to see a side of them that you may have not realized was there. He and Mandy began to fight constantly about everything. Nothing he seemed to do anymore seemed to be good enough to please her. On top of that he felt pressure from his Mom who had been upset at him for moving out so abruptly in the first place. Throughout this whole time period he felt like he was being pulled into two separate directions by his family and Mandy, but still he had clung to her, to stubborn to realize that he had made a mistake. Instead of things getting better they just got worse and worse until things had just exploded. They had finally called it quits earlier that year and Mandy had moved out. The break up had been a messy one and in some ways Nick had yet to fully recover even after a few months.

 The thing that had amazed him most about being single was just how many girls were willing to practically offer themselves up to him without even thinking twice about it. Especially now that he was on tour the opportunity to hook up was practically everywhere he turned. Maybe Nick had just never noticed it before since he had started dating Mandy towards the end of his awkward phase and in the last year and a half he'd really matured physically. Now that he was single he found that he really could have his pick of girls. At first, he'd taken advantage of that and had hooked up with quite a few. He'd always felt kind of guilty about it afterwards and AJ would usually tease him about it and tell him to 'man up and quit being a pussy.' After the first several times it did become easier, but in no way more fulfilling. He knew a lot of guys would kill to be in his position, but still Nick found himself in a state of confusion over the matter. In some ways he found that he actually missed the comforts of being in a relationship although he wasn't sure if he really was ready to jump back into another one so soon. He'd never admit this to anyone though. Somehow he'd began to earn the reputation of being a stud and he didn't want to ruin it just in case.
 
 The Into the Millennium tour was finally nearing its end and Nick was thankful for that. They had been touring pretty much non stop since June and he was both physically and emotionally drained. They had just began the second North American leg and by mid March he'd finally get a break. It wouldn't be for very long though because there were already plans to jump right into recording their next album. Their record company wanted to capitalize on the popularity of their last album before any of their fans had gotten much of a chance to grow tired of them. It was a pretty hectic lifestyle, but Nick supposed that it was better to keep himself busy. That way he didn't have the chance to think about the direction where his life was heading. He was just sort of going through the motions and trying to stay afloat.

 They were in Charlotte on this particular night and although AJ and Howie had both asked him if he wanted to hit some of the clubs with him in the Epicenter he had chosen to decline. He'd gotten pretty shitfaced after their last date in Albany. It had been a rough night for him with it being Valentine's Day and all and him still having mixed emotions about his break up with Mandy. AJ had encouraged him to get totally obliterated which was exactly what he did. In fact, he'd drank so much that he had almost completely blacked out. He woke up the next morning with a naked girl in his bed and one hell of a hangover. Thankfully, they'd had a few days off in between dates for him to recover which he desperately needed. Nick wasn't sure if he was quite ready for a repeat performance so soon.

 The downside of staying in though was that he had nothing to do but think and thinking just made him more confused and more depressed.

 Nick was just considering whether or not he should rent a movie off pay-per-view when he heard his cell phone ring. Desperate for any kind of distraction he practically dove for it. He smiled when he saw Torie's name flash across the caller ID. Torie's bubbly personality and dorky sense of humor always usually did make him feel better.

 "Yello," he answered. "What's up? How is the whole Disney thing going."

 "It's going," Torie replied with a laugh. "I'm having a blast meeting new friends and all. How about you? How's the tour going?"

 Nick sighed. "It's all right. Kind of tired of it though. Can't wait to be back home in Florida."

 "Aww..." she sympathized picking up on the weariness in his voice. "Well, just about another month left right?"

 "Yea, just 15 more dates, but who's counting?" he joked.

 "Well, I'm about to give you something to look forward to."

 Nick's ears perked up with interest. "Oh yeah? What?"

 "Okay so I've become super close with my roommate Alyssa and I've been thinking..."

 "No," Nick interrupted before she could finish. "I know where you are going with this and the last thing I want right now is to date some random girl that you just met. How well can you really trust her anyway?"

 "Nick!" Torie whined. "Just hear me out here. She's not like a lot of other girls. She's really sweet and genuine and didn't completely freak out when I told her that I was related to Kevin. You'd love her. She's the total opposite of Mandy in every possible way. She's really cute and has the same sense of humor as you. Loves anything from the 80's. You'd have a lot in common."

 Nick winced a little bit at the mention of his ex girlfriend's name. Even though it had been a few months it still sometimes stung when someone else brought her up. He had to admit though that anyone who was the opposite of Mandy sounded like it could be a good thing. "What does she do at Disney?" he asked.

 "She's in entertainment. She plays Belle in the parks and stuff," Torie explained.

 "Ahh... So she's trying to break into the business," Nick automatically assumed. "Nope sorry. No way no how. Been there and done that and I am done being someone elses meal ticket."

 Torie let out an exasperated sigh. "You haven't even met the girl yet and you are already assuming the worst of her. Actually she really doesn't sing and has no intentions of making that a career choice. She dances, but just for fun. She's considering a career in education. I can promise you that she is not interested in you becasuse of what you do as a career. In fact, she's pretty intimidated by it."

 "I just don't think that this is the right time for me to be trying to date," he insisted. "I don't want to lead her on and I'm going to be super busy with trying to work on the new album and all the promotion that comes from that."

 "Trust me. She's busy too. We work over 40 hours a week during peak times. She'll be busy too," Torie argued. "Look, I know how stubborn you are and I know it's a lot to think about, so here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to let you think it over, but in the meantime I'll give you her AIM screen name. Why don't you just drop her an IM when you can and just try talking to her for a few minutes? If you're not feeling her fine. No harm, no foul. I really have a good feeling about you two though."

 Nick sighed. He knew just how relentless Torie could be when she got an idea in her head. Sometimes it was just easier to humor her. "Fine," he grumbled as he searched his hotel room for a piece of paper and something to write with, finally finding both on the top of the dresser of his hotel room. "What is it?"

 'MissLyssa1980," Torie told him. "I promise you, that you're going to love her."

 "Uh huh," Nick doubtfully answered. "We'll see about that." He ripped off the piece of notepaper he had written it on, folded it up, and crumbled into the pocket of his jeans for the time being with every intention of most likely never giving it a second glance.
 

Chapter 3 - Underwhelming Expectations by Mellz Bellz
Author's Notes:

Nick and Alyssa begin chatting online.

Chapter 3- Underwhelming Expectations

 
 Nick inwardly groaned as soon as he stood foot into the hotel lobby. It was already packed with fans eagerly awaiting autographs. He knew that this was part of the job and was thankful for his fans, but some nights after a particularly grueling performance, the last thing he wanted to do was stand around signing autographs. Even though he'd been touring since he was 15 he still sometimes had trouble interacting with fans. He'd heard a lot of them complain that he could run hot and cold with them depending on his mood and he supposed that that much was true. Maybe it was because he was clearly the most popular one of the group, but he always seemed to get the craziest fans to begin with. Of course Nick would never let any of his mixed emotions to show through so he'd put up a front with the fans, which was probably why his behavior with them was so inconsistent.

 
 "Let's get this over with," he grumbled to himself under his breath. Pasting on his infamous Carter grin, he strode towards the crowd of girls and began signing autographs and posing for pictures. They were in New Orleans that night which had a reputation as being a pretty crazy city to begin with and the fans were no exception. Nick was easily able to separate the girls who were genuinely there for a picture and an autograph and the ones that were looking for a more personal memento. If he really wanted he could have his pick of girls for the evening.

 As if to prove his point his eyes settled onto an attractive blonde in a pair of tight hip hugger jeans and a pink halter top. Their eyes locked for a moment and Nick immediately knew that she could probably care less about an autograph. He licked his lips as he moved on down the line of girls as he approached her. When he finally did reach her she smiled flirtatiously and handed him a copy of her tour program. "Can you sign this for me? Make it out to Kelly."

 "Kelly. Got it." Nick scrawled out her name and his signature underneath. Normally, he didn't personalize autographs because it took too long, but on occasion he made a few exceptions.

 When Nick went to hand her back her tour program, Kelly grabbed his forearm and pulled him closer to her so that her warm breath was tickling his ear."So, what are you doing later?"

 "Probably just heading to bed. I'm pretty tired." After the words left his mouth he almost mentally kicked himself. What's wrong with you? You have an attractive girl throwing herself at you and you're too chickenshit to do anything about it?

 "Aww... That's too bad," the blonde pouted. "I've got a room here tonight and I was thinking maybe we could you know, hang out." She gave him an inviting look and coyly bit her lip, waiting for his response.

 Nick was torn. On one hand he knew that hooking up with this Kelly would probably only make him feel like crap the next morning, but he also didn't want to come across as a being unconfident or unsure of himself. He had a reputation to protect. It didn't seem like she was going to make this too difficult for him. "Well I need to head upstairs and shower, but maybe I could stop by later," he nonchalantly replied. It would be best to remain non-committal and keep the option open in case he changed his mind later.

 Kelly grinned. "I'm in room 3442." Her hand drifted down his arm. "Hope to see you later."

 Nick just nodded and continued on with the impromptu autograph session all the while still arguing with himself whether or not he should take Kelly up on her offer. After about another ten minutes of signing autographs the crowd seemed satisfied and he and the rest of the guys headed towards the elevators before separating in the directions of their respective rooms. Once inside his room, Nick kicked off his shoes and headed towards the bathroom. He really could use a shower after performing under the hot stage lights.

 He undressed and stepped underneath the warm spray of the shower head. Now that he was finally up in his room he kind of just wanted to veg out and didn't really feel like getting all dressed up again to go out. By the time he was done showering he had pretty much decided that he'd just stay in his room with a movie or maybe he'd just hook up his Playstation and play some video games. With that in mind, once he stepped out of the shower he changed into a pair of loose fitting basketball shorts and a white wife beater. He was just about to turn on the TV when he heard a knock at his hotel room door.

 Nick cautiously peered through the peep hole of his door making sure that it wasn't a group of fans outside his door, which had happened to him on occasion. Recognizing that it was only AJ on the other end he opened up the door. "What's going on J?" he greeted.

 AJ appeared to be dressed up as if he was on his way out for the night including his trademark pair of dark sunglasses over his eyes even though the sun hadn't been out in hours. "Not much. Why aren't you dressed? You are coming out with me and Howie, aren't you?"

 Nick hadn't planned on it. He loved AJ and all, but whenever he hung out with him, AJ usually found a way to persuade Nick into doing something that he would regret later on whether it be by drinking way too much, hooking up with random women, or both. When he was in the mood to party AJ was usually the first person he'd call, but in some instances like tonight he could kind of be a pain in the ass. "Nahh... I think I'm good right here," he insisted.

 "Are you serious?" AJ's eyebrows rose over the top rim of his sunglasses. "Come on... We're in fucking New Orleans. They don't call this city 'The Big Easy' for nothing. Did you see those girls out there tonight at the concert? That's just a small taste of what this city has to offer. Don't be a pussy. Get dressed."

 "Actually I already of plans. I kind of met this girl down in the lobby and she wants me to come by her room later..." It wasn't a complete lie. He really had met Kelly, he just hadn't planned on taking her up on her offer. He knew though that the only way to get AJ off his back was to make it seem like he had already found a prospect for that night.

 "Damn, you move fast," AJ snickered. "Is she hot?"

 "Oh yea," Nick assured him. "Anyway I already promised her I would so I'm going to pass on the invite."

 AJ sighed. "All right. You're off the hook this time Carter, but I expect full details tomorrow morning."

 "Absolutely," Nick agreed. He hated using Kelly as an excuse, but he had to do what he had to do. "Have fun tonight!"

 After saying his good byes to AJ he closed the door and leaned his head back against it. The thing about lying was that once you told one lie you kind of had to continue to make up stories to back it up and before you knew it you've told so many lies that you'd confuse yourself and slip up. He hadn't counted on going to see Kelly, but maybe he should just to keep his story consistent. Otherwise, he'd have to come up with a very creative story to tell AJ that next morning. Besides, it wasn't like he had much else to do.

 Nick picked up the first pair of jeans that he could find out of his suitcase. He sniffed them to make sure they didn't smell too bad since not having immediate access to laundry while on tour meant re-wearing things a few times before washing them. Deciding they were passable he changed into them and went to flatten down the pockets. As he was doing this he felt something in his right pocket. Score, he thought. Maybe I left some extra cash from the last time I wore these. What he found instead was at first disappointing. It was just a crumbled up piece of paper. He was about to just toss it in the garbage when he remembered his phone conversation that he had with Torie a little over a week ago. Sure enough the screen name was scrawled across the paper.

 He paused for a moment glancing at the door, the piece of paper, and then his laptop that was sitting plugged into the wall on top of a table in the corner. Did he really want to go down to some random groupies room who he only had a mild interest in? He was looking for some kind of human contact other than just physically. It had been awhile since he genuinely had a conversation with a girl. Maybe I'll just see if she's online and if not I'll go see Kelly,  he decided.

 He sat down at the table and logged into his AIM account. He typed her screen name into his buddy list and was surprised to see that it popped up showing that she was online. Taking a deep breath he clicked on her name and began to type in the box that appeared.

Kaotic128: Alyssa?

 Meanwhile back in Florida Alyssa had been trying to relax after a long and exhausting day of work by surfing the net and catching up with some friends from back home through her computer. This past week had been pretty packed at the park since many of the schools along the East Coast had their February breaks this week which meant a lot of vacationing families hoping to seek some relief from the much harsher winter up North. She much preferred to be kept busy, but she had to admit that days like today could be draining.
 
 Torie was out for the night hanging out this new guy she'd just met from one of the other apartment complexes, Jacob. They'd met last week at a CP party and had really hit it off. Alyssa was happy for her friend and hoped that things worked out for her. She knew how badly Torie had wanted to meet somebody here, so she hoped that things went well tonight. She had to admit that she was a little glad for the alone time though. Living in an apartment with three other girls didn't leave her with a lot of time for herself, so Alyssa had quickly learned to enjoy it while she could.

 She was in the middle of a conversation with her best friend from back home, Jennifer, when an IM from a screen name that she did not recognize flashed onto her screen. She clicked it anyway figuring that maybe it was someone she knew. Whoever it was seemed to know her name.

MissLyssa1980: Yes? Who is this?

Kaotic128: It's Nick. Carter... Torie's friend.

 Alyssa almost choked on the bottle of water she was drinking. It took a few moments of sputtering and coughing for her to recover. Was this really happening? I bet it's Torie and Jacob just playing a joke on me,  she decided. Since their conversation about Torie possibly hooking her up with Nick, he hadn't been mentioned and that had been almost two weeks ago. Alyssa had just assumed that Torie was just talking out of her ass or that maybe she had mentioned Alyssa to him and he just hadn't been interested so Torie hadn't said anything to protect her feelings. Still, it seemed rather strange to her that an attractive pop star just happened to be sitting on the internet after midnight IMing random girls. Didn't he have better things to do?

MissLyssa1980: Very funny Tor... You can stop the joke now. I'm not falling for this one.

 Nick frowned once he received the message. She thought he was kidding with her? He supposed he could see how she may have interpreted it that way, but hadn't Torie told her that she'd given him her screen name?

Kaotic128: I'm not kidding. And this isn't Tor. She gave me your screen name. Told me that I should give you an IM some time because you're like a really cool girl or something.

 Alyssa considered the validity of his statement for a moment. Torie was out on a date and on second thought it did sound a little unreasonable that she would spend it trying to prank Alyssa over IM. After how insistent she had been about trying to hook her and Nick up she wouldn't be surprised if Torie had done just what Nick claimed and given him her screen name. She was going to kill her later for this! Deciding to give him the benefit of the doubt she continued their conversation.

MissLyssa1980: Oh wow... I'm really sorry I didn't take you seriously. I'm so embarrassed! I didn't know that she gave you my screen name and well, I just didn't think that you actually did this sort of thing.

Kaotic128: What sort of thing? Chat online?

MissLyssa1980: Yea...

Kaotic128: Why not? I'm human. Just because I'm famous doesn't mean I don't do normal everyday things.

 Alyssa blushed feeling kind of foolish. He did have a point there. It was just hard to picture someone like him doing the same sort of tasks as anyone else did. She was beginning to feel a little flustered.

MissLyssa1980: You're right... Can we just like rewind and start this conversation over lol? I feel like such an airhead.

 Nick sat back a moment against his chair. Her last comment had come off as kind of cute and he tried to see things from her perspective. She was probably nervous and a bit caught off guard. At first, he hadn't been too sure of what exactly to make of her. Her very first comment had come across as disinterested, her next as kind of overbearing and too much in awe of him. Jeez Carter... he chastised himself. How can you try to judge her from like three IMs? He'd have to at least have a whole conversation with her in order to do that.

Kaotic128: It's cool. So what are you up to right now?

MissLyssa1980: Not much. Just got home from work a little while ago and now I'm trying to relax.

Kaotic128: Oh yea? How did that go?

MissLyssa1980: Pretty good... Just long hours. We were really busy today. I think I developed writer's cramp from signing so many autographs.

Kaotic128: Lol I can relate. Torie told me that you play Belle at the parks. That must be a pretty cool job.

MissLyssa1980: Yea, it's fun getting to dress up and I'm pretty lucky that I get to be a Princess every day, but it has it's downsides just like any other job I suppose. How about you? What are you up to?

Kaotic128: Nothing really. Just got done with a concert and I'm back in my hotel room just relaxing.

MissLyssa1980: Oh? How did that go? What city are you in?

Kaotic128: We're in New Orleans tonight. The show went pretty good.

MissLyssa1980: You mean well?

Kaotic128: Huh?

MissLyssa1980: Well. You said the show went "pretty good." It's supposed to be "pretty well." Sorry I can be a bit of a Grammar Nazi... So, if you're in New Orleans what are you doing holed up in your hotel room talking to me? Why aren't you out partying or exploring the French Quarter or something? Think of all the history there is around you right now.

 Nick hesitated a bit. He felt a little intimidated by the fact she had corrected his grammar. He never claimed to be much of an intellectual in fact it was a wonder he had managed to receive his high school diploma at all. Still though, he did not like feeling stupid and although he was sure that she didn't mean anything by it he felt a little inferior. Just the way she talked about the French Quarter and history he kind of got the sense that this girl not only had a brain, but was actually pretty intelligent. Smart chicks definitely made him feel a little uncomfortable.

Kaotic128: I'm not much one for history... Or grammar for that matter.

MissLyssa1980: I think you're crazy. I'd LOVE to go to New Orleans some day. You must get to see so many interesting places. I'm so jealous!

 Nick just shrugged his shoulders to himself. He knew that he was fortunate to have the experiences that he did, but he just didn't have much interest in exploring famous landmarks and trying to relive history. He barely understood History to begin with. Since the conversation was getting a little uncomfortable he decided to change the subject.

Kaotic128: So do you have any pics?

 Now it was Alyssa's turn to be uncomfortable. She knew that it was a valid question, but she hated how guys always seemed to need some kind of reassurance that they weren't wasting their time talking to a girl that was less than gorgeous. Alyssa knew that she was far from ugly by any means, but it wasn't like there was a ton of guys beating down her door either. She'd always considered herself to be a bit on the plain side and she was afraid that Nick expected a lot more than plain.

MissLyssa1980: Why do want me to send you a pic?

Kaotic128: Well, you know what I look like, but I don't know what you look like. It's a bit unfair, don't you think? Plus, I like to get a visual in my head of the person I'm talking to.

MissLyssa1980: Well, I'm 5'2, long brown hair, brown eyes and petite. Does that help any?

Kaotic128: Sort of, but you have to admit that's still pretty vague.

MissLyssa1980: Sorry, but that's the best I can do. I don't have any pics of me on this computer. New laptop and all.

 Nick kind of got the feeling that she perhaps wasn't exactly being truthful about not having any pictures. He was sure that she had some, but was not comfortable in sharing them. Her description of herself was pretty ambigious, but he somehow got the feeling that maybe she wasn't very attractive. Torie really seemed to be pushing this and he just figured if this Alyssa was more attractive Torie may have suggested a more direct way of them to meet. On the other hand Torie knew him long enough to know what he was attracted to. Still, he decided not to get his hopes up.

 For a moment he considered being a prick and ending the conversation right there. There was still time for him to go down and see Kelly.  I can't do that without coming off as a total douche though,  he reasoned with himself. He should at least try to find out a little about her.

Kaotic128: So why don't you tell me a little bit more about yourself?

 It seemed as if the change of subject helped Alyssa relax and Nick quickly found himself absorbed in learning more about her. Alyssa revealed a bit about her family and as it turned out was the middle of three girls. Nick told her a little bit about his family and siblings as well, censoring some of the more dysfunctional parts. He tried to keep most of the focus on getting to know Alyssa since he figured all Alyssa would have to do was look him up on the internet to find out all his basic information. They talked a little about Alyssa's experiences at school and here in Florida on her internship. Then the conversation shifted towards music, movies, and just general likes and dislikes. Nick was so involved in their conversation that he didn't even realize the time on the bottom corner of his computer screen.

MissLyssa1980: Wow! It's already after 2am here and I have to be up early tomorrow for work. I'm going to have to get going.:(

Kaotic128: Aww man... Well, I enjoyed talking to you.

MissLyssa1980: Me too... Maybe we can do it again sometime?

 Nick paused for a moment. He had to admit that at first he'd had his doubts, but he did enjoy their conversation regardless of him not knowing who she really was on the other side of the computer screen. He had realized that they had quite a bit in common and even if she wasn't someone that he'd be attracted to physically, she definitely seemed like somebody that he could talk to quite a bit as a friend.

Kaotic 128: Yea... We definitely will. Good night!

 He excited out of the AIM screen and shut down his laptop realizing that his eyes were getting pretty heavy themselves. He decided just to head to bed. He was still going to have to come up with some crazy tale to tell AJ tomorrow about his "hook up" with Kelly. Maybe something would come to him as he fell asleep.

******

 Over the next week or so Alyssa continued to talk to Nick just about every night after work. She wasn't sure where exactly their online friendship was headed, but she was content not to push things for the moment. They had began to open up to each other a little more and Alyssa quickly realized that just as Torie had promised that there was a lot more to Nick than just a pretty face. She still wasn't sure if he'd ever be interested in her romantically though.

 Torie of course was tickled pink that the two of them seemed to be hitting it off. Alyssa at first tried to be mad at her for giving Nick her screen name, but realized that it was almost impossible to do so. Truth was that she was really beginning to enjoy her conversations with Nick.

 A few nights later Torie, Kerri, Darlene, and Alyssa found themselves in the rare instance that all of them were actually home at the same time. Darlene had suggested they rent a movie and watch it together. Alyssa hadn't really wanted to, but she'd given in, not wanting to isolate herself off from her roomies. As a compromise though she had her laptop on her lap and had been chatting with Nick throughout the whole movie.

 "Who are you talking to on that thing Alyssa?" Kerri asked halfway through the movie. "All I hear is your fingertips clacking away over there."

 Alyssa blushed. "Sorry... I'll try to be quieter," she apologized.

 "For real. Everytime I look at you, you're glued to that laptop," Darlene commented. "Is there something you're not telling us."

 Alyssa and Torie exchanged a glance and Torie let out a giggle. "Alyssa's in love," she announced.

 "I am not!" Alyssa tried to argue, but the redness in her face told otherwise.

 "Ooh! Do tell!" Darlene leaned forward with interest. "Who's the lucky guy?"

 "My friend Nick," Torie explained. "I've known him forever and I thought that he and Alyssa would get along, so I gave him her screen name and they've been talking online ever since."

 "Is he cute?" Kerri asked.

 "Very," Alyssa admitted. "But I wouldn't exactly call it love yet. I don't even know if he feels the same about me. We've just been talking a lot."

 "So, you guys haven't met in person yet?" Darlene clarified. "Where is he from?"

 Alyssa glanced at Torie not sure how much was too much information to give. "He lives here in Florida. He's from Tampa. We haven't gotten a chance to meet yet. He's been... Away."

 Luckily none of the girls stopped to question his current whereabouts. "Tampa isn't that far away at all! You should totally meet up in person and see if there's any chemistry," Kerri suggested.

 Darlene nodded her head, agreeing with her roommate. "You seem like you talk to him enough. May as well take it to the next level."

 "I sort of have something in the works for the two of them," Torie mysteriously replied. "I think they're going to love each other."

 Alyssa looked up at Torie with a surprised look. Torie hadn't yet shared this plan with her. She'd have to get it out of her later when they were alone. "Well, thanks for the vote of confidence Tor. I'm just afraid that I'm going to be a disapointment to him."

 "What?" Darlene cried. "You? A disapointment? Stop!"

 "You're gorgeous," Kerri tried to assure her. "And smart and talented. If this Nick can't see that then he's not worth your time anyway."

 "Thanks guys. You're going to give me a big ego here," she joked. "We'll see where it goes." She looked back down at her laptop giving the rest of the girls a sign that she was done talking about it for the moment.

 After the movie ended, the two pairs of girls retreated to their separate bedrooms and Alyssa found the perfect opportunity to ask Torie about her "plan," as they both settled into their beds. She waited until Torie had turned out the light to question her. "So, what's this about you having something in store for me and Nick to meet?"

 "Oh, yea..." It sounded as if Torie had just remembered. "So, I was talking to Kevin the other night and you know that the tour wraps up in like two weeks right?"

 "Uh huh..." Nick had seemed excited about the tour finally ending and glad to be coming home for an indefinite amount of time while the guys got right back into the studio to start on their next album.

 "Well, management is throwing them a little welcome back party and I was able to pull some strings and get you an invite."

 "What?" Alyssa asked in disbelief. "I can't do that. I've never been to a party like that! I don't know how to act or what to wear..."

 "Don't worry so much," Torie assured her. "I'll be there too. Don't worry about acting a certain way. Just be yourself. As far as an outfit goes you can just borrow something of mine. We're about the same size. Relax... I got this."

 "That's what I'm afraid of," Alyssa muttered as she rolled over so that she was facing the wall and sighed. She couldn't believe that in two weeks she'd be meeting Nick for the first time. If she felt this nervous now, she couldn't even imagine how nervous she'd feel at the party. She really wanted to believe that Nick was a genuine guy, but a part of her still had her doubts. Maybe she should scale back on their IM conversations. That way she wouldn't get anymore attached than she already was.

End Notes:

So, that's all that I have written so far. Hopefully I'll have Chapter 4 up soon! I'm a bit rusty so tell me what you guys think. Lot's of thanks to Tri for motivating me on this project and for the lovely banner!

Chapter 4 - Butterflies by Mellz Bellz
Author's Notes:

Alyssa and Nick meet for the first time.

Chapter 4 - Butterflies

It's finally over... The relief flooded through Nick as it finally really hit him that the Millennium tour was indeed a wrap. It had been such an emotionally draining year between the tour and breaking up with Mandy and now that he'd finally reached the end he was thankful. He needed a fresh start and now that he was back home from touring and starting to work on a new album he felt like he'd finally been given that clean slate he so desperately needed. It was weird, but even getting the chance to sleep in his own bed hadn't made the end feel like a reality to him. It took him showing up at the tour wrap up party, surrounded by all the cast and crew of the tour for it to really hit home.

 "I'm sad to see it end too Nicky," a female voice cooed into his ear. Nick spun around and inwardly groaned to find one of their dancers Lexi standing behind him wearing a short, curve hugging, red halter dress with a plunging back. Nick had hooked up with her a few times on the tour after his split with Mandy and although it had been great rebound sex, Lexi didn't know how to keep her mouth shut. It wasn't long before everyone from the other guys right down to their sound technicians knew that the two of them had been messing around. Nick preferred to keep his sex life private and hadn't appreciated everyone else knowing his business. He'd immediately cooled it with her, but that didn't stop her from trying for another round every opportunity she could get.
 
 "I'm actually not sad," Nick briskly replied. "I like to keep my eyes focused on the future, not on the past. I'm ready to move on."

 "Oh, definitely," Lexi agreed, seeming to forget what she had said just a few moments ago. "Me too. I hope I get to work with you guys again in the future. That would be awesome. So, would you like to dance or something?" She nodded towards the dance floor that was already semi-crowded with people.

 "You know I think I see someone I need to say hello to," Nick lied, trying to find a way out to excuse himself. "I'll be right back."

 Nick breathed a sigh of relief as he disappeared out of sight. He could already see that Lexi was going to be following him around like a little puppy dog all night and once she got a little alcohol in her... Nick was not looking forward to the result.

 "I think I need a drink," he muttered as he approached the bar.

*******

 "See, I told you that he wouldn't be interested in me!" Alyssa insisted to Torie from her vantage point across the room. "He seems pretty interested in that blonde chick he's talking to."

 Torie focused her attention towards the interaction going on between Lexi and Nick a few yards away and shook her head. "You're wrong. I know Nick. You see the way his eyes keep darting away towards the bar? He's looking for an escape route. He's completely not interested in her. Watch."

 Sure enough a few moments later Nick leaned in to say something to the blonde and then started to walk away with a relieved look on his face.  Damn... She's good at reading Nick,  Alyssa thought to herself.

 "Look, he's all alone now. This is your chance to talk to him," Torie prodded, nudging her forward a bit. "Go and introduce yourself."

 "By myself?" Alyssa squeaked.

 "Of course!" Torie laughed. "You can't expect this relationship to go anywhere with me holding your hand every step of the way. That could get pretty awkward, pretty fast. Go ahead. He won't bite you or anything."

 Alyssa sighed as she nervously smoothed out the front of the black Dolce and Gabbana mini dress that Torie had lent her for the occasion. "How do I look?" She felt kind of uncomfortable and not herself in the outfit especially since she was fairly certain that it probably cost more than what she probably earned in a month. She was afraid to even sweat in it.

 "Gorgeous. Now get your ass over to that bar before someone else grabs him," Torie advised. "And remember act confident even if you aren't. Confidence is sexy. One more thing..." She paused to grab a glass of champagne off a server's tray that had been walking past them. "Drink this. A little liquid courage never hurt anyone."

 Alyssa took the glass and raised it to her lips taking a big gulp. She'd never been much of a drinker, but she supposed that she could use all the help that she could get. "All right. Wish me luck." She took a deep breath and began to walk in the direction of the bar, her heart pounding wildly in her chest with each step.

 She tried to remain cool and collected as she approached the bar. She took a sideways glance towards Nick quickly realizing that he was much more attractive in person than he had been in pictures if that was possible. "Hi..." The word was out of her mouth before she even realized she'd said it.

 Nick turned his head to see who the high pitched, soft spoken voice belonged to. Standing next to him was a cute petite looking brunette about his own age. She was wearing a short sleeved black dress that was cut low in the back and black high heeled sandals. Her long brown hair was half pulled away from her face while the rest of it hung in loose curls down her back. Nick was fairly certain that he had never seen her before in his life, yet it seemed as if she were familiar with him. "Do I know you from somewhere?" he found himself asking.

 Alyssa swallowed hard. "I'm Alyssa... You know? Torie's friend?"

 Nick stood there dumbstruck for a moment. This was the girl he had been talking online with for the past few weeks? The one he had convinced himself was a probably a total dog? The girl standing before him was nothing like the sort of girl he had pictured her to be in his head. This girl was actually really cute! He gave her a closer inspection and realized that not only did she have a cute face, but she had quite the nice body to go with it. The short dress that she was wearing gave him a great view of her legs that were impressively long for a shorter girl. She was on the thin side, but with just the right amount of curves. Torie had described her as being just the opposite of Mandy and physically she was just that. Normally Nick wasn't much attracted to dark haired girls, but there was something different about this one.

 "You know the one you've been talking to online these past few weeks?" she continued to supply, not quite knowing how to take Nick's stunned silence.

 "I know. I just wow... Didn't expect to meet you here," he managed to stammer out awkwardly.

 "Yea I know. Torie got Kevin to add us to the guest list or something and I figured I'd surprise you," she explained. "I guess it worked because you seem...surprised."

 "Why wouldn't you send me a picture of yourself?" Nick asked suddenly.

 Alyssa was a bit taken back by his question. She couldn't quite tell if he was upset or some other kind of unreadable emotion.  Maybe he's disappointed by the way I look?  she wondered to herself. She just shrugged in response. "I don't know...I just didn't think it was that big of a deal," she explained, choosing her words carefully so that she didn't come across as being insecure in front of Nick.

 "I think it is... I mean if you've got it flaunt it, right?"

 Before Alyssa could even begin to process what he meant by that she noticed a worried look come across Nick's face. She turned her head in the direction that he was looking and saw the same blonde who had been talking to Nick earlier heading in their direction. "Damn it," he cursed under his breath.

 "What's wrong?" she innocently asked.

 Nick just rolled his eyes. "Long story. I'll explain later." Seeing that she was coming closer, Nick nervously licked his lips. "Hey, would you mind doing me a favor?"

 Alyssa nodded her head. "Sure... What do you need me to do?" She was pretty sure that she'd do just about anything he asked at this point, she was so hypnotized by him.

 "Just follow my lead," he instructed, grabbing her arm and pulling her closer to him. Alyssa's heart skipped a beat as she felt their bodies connect and drew a sharp breath inward as she felt his hand reach upwards to cup her chin. Oh my God, she frantically thought to herself. What in the world is he doing? Before she had a chance to think anymore about it his lips were pressing over hers. It wasn't a deep kiss or anything, but Alyssa could practically feel goosebumps growing down her arms. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the moment, her brain not caring to even question why this was happening. A few moments later she felt him pull away and her eyes flew open. Her right hand reached out for the edge of the bar to steady the weak feeling that was growing in her knees. She wanted to say something, anything, but her mouth appeared to be frozen shut.

 Nick smiled in satisfaction seeing that his plan had worked just the way he had wanted to. The look on Lexi's face was priceless. Her mouth gaped open and she spun on her heels as she retreated away from him obviously sulking that he had already found himself another companion for the evening. Okay, so maybe it had been a pretty cruel thing to do and maybe it had put Alyssa into a bit of an uncomfortable position, but she hadn't seemed to mind too much. It had given him the perfect opportunity to test the waters a bit with Alyssa and see if there was any chemistry there. Judging on the dazed look still on her face, he was going to guess that the answer was yes. She definitely won brownie points with him for going along with the whole facade in the first place. "Thanks for doing that for me. That was really cool of you."

 "N-no problem," Alyssa managed to stutter out. "What was that all about anyway?"

 Nick laughed. "I'll tell you the whole story in a second. Let me just get a drink first. Do you want something?" He thought that the least he could do for her was to get her a drink.

 "No thanks," she politely declined, gesturing to her still half full glass of champagne in her left hand. "I'm good for the moment."

 Nick ordered himself a rum and coke and then led her out the back door of the club where it was quieter and there was an outdoor deck. He sat down at an unoccupied table in the corner and Alyssa flopped down across from him. "I'm sorry for putting you on the spot like that back there," he again apologized.

 "That's okay. You really don't have to apologize." Alyssa waved her hand nonchalantly. It wasn't everyday she had hot guys wanting to kiss her. She'd gladly take the opportunity again, even if it had been for ulterior motives.

 "That blonde girl I was talking to over there was a dancer on our tour," Nick started to explain. "Me and her sorta had a 'thing' earlier on in the tour and she just hasn't quite accepted the fact that it's been over. I just thought that maybe if she saw me with someone else she'd take the hint."

 Alyssa's eyebrows rose at the mention of his "thing" but she didn't comment. She wasn't exactly sure how she felt about being his decoy. Instead of harping on it though she chose to change the subject. "So, I bet you're glad to finally be back home now."

 Nick nodded his head. "I'd completely forgotten what it was like to sleep in my own bed. It's great to be back, but I have so much crap to take care of that I've had to neglect while I was on tour. The first few days home are always crazy until I settle back into a routine."

 "Torie tells me that you guys aren't getting much of a break either. That you're pretty much jumping right back into the studio to start the next album?"

 Again Nick nodded. "Uh huh. We've already started to write and rehearse some new material while we were touring. Management wants us to strike while the iron is hot and all that. We'll get a few weeks off until we hit the studio. We're hoping to get most of it recorded down here, but we may have to fly out to Sweden for a few weeks or New York or LA. I think we're looking at a fall release date."

 "That doesn't give you much time to record does it?" Alyssa remarked.

 He shrugged. "It'll be tight, but not impossible. We'll just have to push." Nick shifted a little uncomfortably in his chair. He never really liked talking about himself since he felt like that's all he did all the time in interviews. Frankly, he was kind of sick about talking about his career, so he decided to change the subject. "So, enough about me. How have you been?"

 Alyssa was both surprised and a little impressed that he seemed genuinely interested in her life. Sadly though she wasn't sure what to tell him. Her life hadn't exactly been boring lately, just she'd been to busy to have anything much interesting happen outside of her internship and speaking with him. "I've been good. I've been working a lot of hours though... I don't think I realized just how much work this internship was going to be, but it's fun. Other than that there's nothing much else." She paused for a second realizing there was something else she could talk about. "Actually my birthday is coming up next week so I'm trying to work with my friends and roommates to plan a little something."

 "That's cool. What are you guys planning on doing?" Nick asked.

 Alyssa shrugged. "I'm not completely sure yet, but it'll probably be something at Disney because it's just easier that way. We'll probably spend the day at one of the parks and then grab dinner some place on property. Then we'll probably hit up some of the clubs on Pleasure Island. There a few of my friends who are already 21 or over, but most of us are still underage so it's one of the few places we can all get into." She sighed. "One more year."

 "So, you're turning 20?"

 Alyssa nodded. "It sucks huh? I'm not a huge drinker or anything so that part doesn't bother me too much, but I think it's the getting into bars part that's the worst. A lot of my friends are either of age or have fake IDs and like to go to hang out, but I feel like I hold them back sometimes." Her cheeks flushed. "Not like you probably have that kind of problem."

 Nick had to admit that for the most part he didn't. Even though he was still only 20 himself, he'd never really had a problem with anyone telling him that he couldn't do anything he liked. With a few small exceptions he was usually allowed anywhere he wanted and served whatever he liked. "You're right. I don't," he agreed. "But I can see how that could suck. Bars are overrated though anyway. You're not missing a whole lot."

 "Thanks for trying to make me feel better. I just want to be able to go out and dance." Alyssa got quiet again, but then a sudden burst of boldness hit her and she just as surprised as Nick probably was at her next suggestion. "Hey, I know this sounds kind of forward and I totally understand if you don't want to, but you're welcome to tag along with us. I mean I know you just got back from touring and Disney probably isn't really your scene, but it'll be fun and Torie will be there too. It would be awesome if you could make it."

 Nick sat back against his chair carefully considering her invitation. So far Alyssa seemed like a cool girl and someone worth getting to know, but he wasn't quite sure if he was at the point yet where he was ready to celebrate her birthday and meet her friends. She had also hit the nail right on the head when she'd assumed that Disney was not exactly the coolest place for him to hang out in Florida or the most discreet. He didn't want to hurt her feelings though so he decided to keep the option open that way he had some room to change his mind. "I'll have to see what my schedule is like. Like I said before I've got a million and one things to do now I'm finally home. I just realized though that I don't have your number, so why don't we just exchange numbers and you can keep me posted on what's going on?"

 "I'd like that." Alyssa smiled and took her cell phone out of her purse. She was a little disappointed that he didn't immediately give her a yes, but figured that the fact that he was asking for her number was probably a good sign. The two of them exchanged cell phone numbers.

 With that step out of the way Alyssa finally began to relax and the topic of conversation changed again to Nick sharing with her some funny stories from the tour. Alyssa listened attentively as she sipped the rest of her champagne. She quickly realized what a good sense of humor he had and within a few minutes the pair was exchanging embarrassing stories like they were old friends. Any hesitation that Alyssa had been plagued with about getting to know him were now gone. The only thing she knew for certain was that she was beginning to fall for him. She just hoped that he felt the same way about her.

******

 
 As the night wore on and Nick spent more and more time with Alyssa he could feel his attraction for her growing by the minute. It was strange because the things that drew him to her were the sorts of things that he'd never really really experienced before with other girls. There was no denying that she was very different from Mandy or any of the other girls he'd briefly dated. For one thing she was really very down to earth and seemed to have no intentions of having a career in the entertainment business. She wasn't a singer or an actress or a model. She danced, but Nick got the sense that it was more of a hobby to her than an actual career choice. He sort of liked that she was just an average college student. Then there was her modesty. He loved confident women, but being in the entertainment field sometimes he felt like he was constantly surrounded by women that were almost too confident to the point of being intimidating. Maybe it was a little old fashioned, but he liked a girl that didn't put it all out there all at once. Where was the fun in that? Finally, there was that bit of childlike innocence in her eyes.The way she laughed once she'd fully relaxed. Her smile... It was like a breath of fresh air to him. He somehow got the sense that she probably didn't have much relationship experience and at first he could sense her nervousness. Once she'd fully relaxed though he could see what a positive upbeat personality she had. She was cute and not in a sickeningly sweet way. She was so opposite most of the girls in his past that maybe she was exactly the kind of girl he needed.

 Of course Nick was not at all ready yet to verbalize his thoughts to her. He'd already learned that it worked out best if he seemed to be emotionally unattached at first. He didn't want to be the one necessarily chasing after her right away. He still wasn't exactly sure where he wanted things to end up with her at the end of the night. Although, he was definitely becoming interested in her he wasn't sure if he wanted to jump into anything too quickly, especially so soon after arriving home. He just wanted to have a good time.

 And that was exactly what they were doing at the moment. Even though Alyssa had told him she was not a big drinker he'd managed to persuade her to have another drink or two and he suspected that had been just enough to give her a nice little buzz.

At the moment they were out on the dance floor trying to top one another with funny dance moves. Their dancing had been pretty platonic, but Nick was able to see for himself that Alyssa really knew how to move. He probably shouldn't have been so surprised knowing that she was a dancer, but she'd seen so reserved and shy at first that it was hard to believe it was the same girl.

 I wonder how she'd react if I tried to get a bit closer? he wondered. In his experience most girls would be grinding all over him under similar circumstances, but he wasn't so sure about Alyssa. Dare, I find out? he asked himself. He was feeling pretty bold at the moment so he decided that he was going to make his move. He waited until Alyssa was close enough and then seizing his opportunity he wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her body close to his. He could feel her body stiffen a bit in surprise underneath his fingertips, but she didn't pull away. All of a sudden Nick became very aware of how close they were and froze for a moment as well. He felt every inch of her against him and was close enough to inhale the scent of her perfume and hair. She smelled awesome like a combination of vanilla and coconut. Before he even realized what he was doing his face was nearing hers, their lips only inches apart...

 "Can I cut in?" He heard a familiar voice and felt a hand tap his back jarring him from the moment. He looked up to find Torie standing behind him completely unaware of what she had just interrupted.
 
 He looked at Alyssa as if to ask if it were okay and Alyssa just nodded. "Sure Tor. I guess I can spare a dance for my best friend," he reluctantly agreed.

 "Sorry Nick. I wasn't talking about you." Torie flashed him a grin and grabbed Alyssa's arm. "Can we have a moment?"

 Nick rolled his eyes at his friend. "Sure. I'll just like go get a drink or something," he muttered as he headed back off in the direction of the bar.

 Torie watched him go and as soon as he was out of earshot she started to fire questions at Alyssa. "How are things going? Don't you love him already? And what the hell was that all about just now?"

 Alyssa giggled at Torie's impatience. "I think things are going really well. We seem to be having a good time."

 Torie raised her eyebrows. "Just a good time? The two of you looked like you were getting pretty cozy there to me?"

 Now it was Alyssa's turn to blush. "Okay... So maybe I'm having an amazing time and I'm shocked that he actually seems kind of in to me. Not only is he gorgeous, but he's a lot of fun to be around and a lot more laid back than I thought he'd be. Is that better?"

 "I have never met a girl who was so modest in my life. Can't you just gush about him like other girls?" Torie joked.

 Alyssa laughed. Part of her really did want to start squealing like one of those annoying girls, but she'd just been disappointed too many times in the past by putting her eggs in one basket before they'd hatched. She wanted to be excited about Nick. She was very attracted to him at this point, but what if it didn't work out for whatever reason? "Sorry to disappoint you Tor. I'm just not that kind of girl. I did sort of invite him to my birthday celebration next week though."

 "Oh?" Torie sounded surprised. "Good for you. I wasn't sure if you had the guts to ask him. What did he say?"

 "He said that he wasn't sure yet. He had to see what day we decided on and see if he has anything else planned," she reported. "Do you think he'll come?"

 "Maybe," Torie vaguely replied. "With Nick you never know. I will tell you that he seems really into you though. By the way was I seeing things before or were you two kissing?"

 Again Alyssa's cheeks reddened. "It wasn't what it looked like. I mean we did kiss, but it wasn't like a real kiss or anything. He was trying to get this girl off his back or something, so I just did him the favor."

 "And I'm sure that was so difficult for you," Torie teased.

 Alyssa playfully smirked. "Well, it was a hard job and I absolutely hated every minute of it, but I felt bad for the poor guy, so I just played along."

 "Uh huh..." Torie rolled her eyes in disbelief. "So how was it seriously?"

 "Amazing," she admitted. "Not that I have a lot to compare it to you outside of some really bad 'spin the bottle' kisses back in my early high school years and a few other awkward kisses at the end of dates." She wrinkled her nose realizing that it might be weird for Torie to hear those kind of details about Nick. "Are you sure you want to know about these things?"

 Torie waved her hand dismissively. "Believe me... I already know way too many personal details about Nick that I'd rather not know. I'll let you know if and when there's a point I don't want to hear anymore. Anyway I hate to ruin the night for you Cinderella, but you're about to turn into a pumpkin. We've got to get going. I've got the early shift tomorrow."

 Alyssa inwardly groaned, but knew that it was a good idea to head back to their apartment now. She herself had a pretty long shift tomorrow and would need all the rest she could get. "I'm just going to say goodbye to Nick."

 "No problem. I need to say goodbye to Kevin and Kristin. I'll meet you by the door in a few."

 Alyssa licked her lips as she spotted Nick near the bar and began to walk towards him, butterflies growing in her stomach. She wondered how things would end up with them for the night. Would he try to kiss her goodnight? It had seemed like for a moment or two he was about to on the dance floor a few minutes ago, but maybe it had just been wishful thinking on her part. Would he want to hang together soon? Would he want to make plans for them to spend more time again?

 She finally reached him and tugged lightly on his arm to get his attention. "Torie and I have to leave now."

 "Aww... So soon?" Was it her imagination or was there a hint of disappointment in Nick's voice.

 "Yea... We've both got busy days ahead of us tomorrow and Torie's got to be in work at like 7 tomorrow morning."

 "That sucks... Well, I had a really good time hanging out with you tonight." Nick stepped away from the bar and wrapped his arms around her in a friendly hug. "We'll have to maybe do it again sometime."

 He gives great hugs, Alyssa dreamily thought to herself. "Yea definitely... Hopefully you can make it out for my birthday."

 "Yea... We'll see about that." He dropped a light kiss on her forehead. "Have a good night."

 "You too... Bye." Alyssa gave him one last smile before she turned her back a giddy feeling rising up in her stomach. She knew that she had just told Torie that she wasn't one of those girls to get all gushy and excited about a guy, but deep down inside she had to resist the urge not to jump up and down a bit. You're such a dork, she criticized herself, yet she couldn't stop smiling. Could she really have actually met a guy that had the potential for her to really connnect with?  I just hope I don't screw this one up, she told herself.

End Notes:

This chapter took a bit longer to write because I realized I had all this pressure riding on this first little interaction because I was essentially laying the groundwork for the rest of their relationship, so I hope I did it justice! Thanks to all of you are reading! I hope you enjoy this chapter and let me know your thoughts!

Chapter 5- It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To by Mellz Bellz
Author's Notes:

Alyssa celebrates her birthday.

Chapter 5- It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To

 "You know staring at your cell phone is not going to make it ring," Darlene's voice broke through Alyssa's thoughts.

 It was over a week later and the night of Alyssa's twentieth birthday celebration. So far the day had been a lot of fun. Alyssa and her friends who were not already working spent it park hopping making sure to try and visit all of their favorite attractions. They had grabbed dinner and had now returned back to Alyssa's apartment for some birthday cake and to get ready to go out to Pleasure Island for the evening. The day had been almost perfect except for two things missing; her family, and Nick.

 She'd called him earlier in the week once their plans had been set in stone. He had told her that he would definitely not be able to make the daytime celebration, something about a meeting he had with management to map out a recording schedule for the album. He had however said that he might make it out clubbing with them. He had promised to call her once he knew for sure.

 So far, no call had come. Alyssa knew that she had no right to be upset because he'd made no promises to her, but after how well things had went between them at the party last week she really thought that he'd jump at the chance to see her again. She'd definitely felt a connection between the two of them and she thought he had to, but maybe it had all been in her head? Maybe I shouldn't have invited him tonight? she wondered to herself. Maybe he's really weirded out? Maybe I came on too strong?


 Alyssa blushed. "I'm not staring at it," she mumbled.

 "You could fool me," Kerri disagreed. "Expecting an important phone call?"

 Alyssa didn't have a chance to answer before Torie entered the living room area from the kitchen holding what appeared to be a Mickey Mouse shaped birthday cake in her hands. "Cake's ready!" she announced, placing it down on the coffee table. "We just gotta put the candles in, light it, and we're good to go."

 "Did you really make that from scratch?" Alyssa asked her, laughing at her friend's choice in theming for her birthday cake.

 "Pretty much. I thought it would be appropriate for you," Torie admitted as she carefully counted out exactly twenty-one candles and neatly arranged them on the cake.

 Alyssa eyed the number of candles warily as Torie went ahead and lit them. "Wow... There's no way I'm going to be able to blow all these out at once. You guys may have to help me."

 "Oh stop!" Torie put down her lighter and gave everyone else in the room the signal to start singing Happy Birthday to Alyssa. Alyssa felt her cheeks redden a bit as all her friends sang to her. Even though it was a little embarrassing she was glad that her friends had done the best that they could to make her birthday special. It was the first time she had ever been away from her family on her birthday and at first she thought that it would be really rough, so she was glad to have her friends do what they could to make up for it.

 "Make a wish!" Torie urged once everyone had stopped singing.

 Alyssa bent down and held her hair back with her hands so that it did not fall into the candle flames. She knew exactly what she was going to wish for and it definitely had something to do with a certain blonde friend of Torie's. Concentrating with all her might on picturing Nick picking up his phone and calling her, she closed her eyes and attempted to blow out as much of the candles as she could. It took about three tries, but soon all twenty-one candles were extinguished and Alyssa was left huffing and puffing.

 "What did you wish for?" Kerri curiously asked.

 Alyssa smugly grinned. "I can't tell you or else it'll never come true."

 "I know what she wished for," Darlene snickered. "She wished that this Nick guy will give her a call and join us tonight at Pleasure Island."

 Alyssa blushed, embarrassed by her friend announcing her business to everyone in the room. "Darlene!"
 
 "What? It's true!" she innocently replied. "He's all you've been talking about for the past week. Plus, there's the fact that you've been glued to your phone all day. Has he really not even called to wish you a Happy Birthday?"

 She sadly shook her head. "I haven't heard a word from him. Do you think that's a bad sign?"

 Torie shook her head. "Not necessarily. You never know with Nick. I wouldn't take it too personally or anything."

 "Well, I think if he doesn't even have the decency to at least tell you that he can't come tonight or even just to wish you a Happy Birthday he must be an idiot," Darlene supplied. "You look fabulous and if he wants to be a bum and stand you up tonight, he has no idea what he's missing."

 "Thanks.." Alyssa wished that she could be as strong willed as her roommate and knew deep down that she was right. Still, she couldn't help but to stubbornly hope that Nick would still call and maybe even show up at Pleasure Island that night to surprise her. It was a far fetched fantasy, but she didn't even want to consider the alternative of him blowing her off completely. She'd even taken extra care to make sure she looked her absolute best, selecting one of her favorite outfits, a baby pink halter top and denim miniskirt with tan colored high heeled sandals.

 Luckily the conversation stopped there as Torie began to divide up the cake and distribute slices to all of their guests. Alyssa took one bite out of her cake and realized that her stomach was too tangled up in knots to eat anymore. Not wanting to hurt her friend's feelings she carefully cut her cake into smaller pieces and then slid it all into the corner of her plate to make it look like she had ate more than she actually had.

 This did not seem to fool Torie in the slightest. Sensing that her friend was upset, Torie slid next to Alyssa on the couch. "Are you feeling okay?" she asked in a concerned voice.

 Alyssa nodded. "I'm great," she lied.

 Torie's eyes narrowed, not believing a word that came out of her mouth. "Come with me for a second." She grabbed Alyssa by the elbow and pulled her up from the couch. She led her down the hallway into their bedroom and shut the door behind them for privacy. "This is about Nick right?"

 Alyssa sighed realizing that she was defeated. "Okay so it is," she finally admitted. "I know that he didn't say for sure if he was coming or not, but why couldn't he give me a definite answer? Now I'm a basket case because I feel like I'm waiting for him to show up at any moment."

 "Maybe you should call him?" Torie suggested.

 Alyssa shook her head. "I've already called him a few times last week. In fact..." She bit her lip ass she struggled to recall how many times she'd called him compared to how many times he'd called her. Come to think of it she was pretty sure that she had done most of the calling. "He hasn't really called me that much. I'm probably annoying him is what it is. He probably thinks I'm getting way too clingy and maybe he's changed his mind about me. I-"

 Torie just laughed. "Alyssa I think that you are stressing about this WAY too much. Just relax..."

 Alyssa leaned her head back and sighed. Torie was probably right, but still she couldn't help but to worry if she had done something wrong. "I'm sorry. You're right. It's just I'm really bad at this dating thing and all these unspoken rules like you have to wait this long for him to call you, and when he does you can't talk about certain topics right away and knowing that makes you want to talk about them more... It's so stupid! How are you supposed to get to know someone if at first you are afraid to be yourself?"

 "I agree. I hate the beginning part of relationships too. You don't think I'm not going through the same thing with Jacob?" Since their date a few weeks ago the two of them had been spending a lot of time together and it seemed as if things were definitely headed towards something more serious. "You just have to remember that these things take time. I know you felt like you and Nick had a really strong connection last week, but you don't want to jump into anything right away. Besides Nick is probably going to be a lot more cautious about getting involved in another relationship. Maybe this is just too much too soon for him?"

 "Maybe..." she reluctantly agreed her lips turning into a pout. "I just really wanted a guy to spend my birthday with."

 "I know..." Torie threw her arms around her in a hug. "But you're still single hun. You can go out tonight and dance with as many guys as you want."

 "I guess you're right..." That was not what Alyssa wanted to hear though. There was only one guy that she wanted to spend her birthday with and the way it was looking now, he seemed to  care less.

********

 By the time Alyssa and the rest of her friends had arrived at Pleasure Island, Nick had still not called and Alyssa at all but lost hope. They had visited a few of the bars and Alyssa had to admit that her mind was not on having a good time. For the first time she wished that she was at least old enough to order a drink because at least alcohol would probably make her relax enough to stop thinking about Nick. Okay, she could understand him not wanting to come out with her and her friends, but he could at least have left her a message or something wishing her a Happy Birthday, right?

 They had decided to end the night at Motion which was one of the larger, more popular clubs on the property. They played the latest Top 40 and dance music and was known for its large video screens that played music videos while the songs played. Alyssa had been there a few times before and normally it was a favorite of hers. It reminded her of the video dances from her middle school years. Tonight though, she really didn't feel much like dancing at all. Instead, she spent most of their time there standing off to the side of the dance floor sipping glasses of soda.

Occasionally her friends would try to pull her out on the dance floor and she'd halfheartedly attempt to dance with them, but she just wasn't much in the mood. She tried to be as discreet as possible, but every so often she'd pull her phone out of her wristlet expecting a call from Nick. It never came.

 After checking her phone for about the five hundredth time that night Alyssa felt a pair of hands clamp down over hers.

She looked up to find Torie staring at her sternly. "Would you please stop with the phone and at least TRY to have a good time? You know we all worked really hard to make this special for you and you are kind of acting like you could care less."

 "Sorry," Alyssa apologized, instantly feeling guilty. She knew that her friends didn't even have to acknowledge her birthday and here she was acting like she was having a horrible time. She had to admit that if the tables were turned she'd probably be pretty pissed at herself too for acting so ungrateful.

 Torie held her hand out. "Give me the phone."

 "What?" Alyssa protectively held the object against her chest.

 "Give me the phone," Torie repeated. "Alyssa, if he hasn't called now he isn't going to."

 Alyssa sighed, knowing that Torie was right even though it killed her to admit it. "Fine... Here." She handed Torie her phone grudgingly and crossed her arms over her chest. "Now what?"

 "Now you're going to find a guy who you do not know and you are going to dance with him," her friend instructed.

 "I don't want to!" she found herself whining.

 Torie just rolled her eyes. "You and Carter really are a match made in heaven. You both whine more than a group of two year olds. Look, that guy over there is totally checking you out."

 Alyssa humored her friend and looked up. Sure enough her eyes made contact with a good looking dark haired guy that looked to be a little older than her. He was gripping a bottle of beer in one hand so Alyssa assumed that he was at least twenty-one. Torie hadn't been lying because when her eyes met his he gave her a little smile and a slight nod of the head as if to dare her to come join in. Alyssa had to admit that he was pretty cute. Nowhere near Nick standards of course, but still a nice distraction.

 "Go and dance with him!" Before Alyssa had a chance to decide for herself she felt Torie come from behind and push her in his direction.

 Caught off guard, Alyssa stumbled a bit and found herself in the arms of the very same guy who had just been looking her way. "Whoa there!" he laughed as he caught her. "I think someone has had a little too much to drink tonight!"

 "I wish," she found herself muttering.

 The guy seemed to notice for the first time the birthday button that Torie had made her wear pinned to her top. "So birthday girl, huh? For someone who is supposed to be having a birthday you seem pretty upset."

 Alyssa just shrugged. "I'm fine."

 He bent closer to her so that she could better hear him over the blaring music. "Where's your boyfriend tonight?"

 Alyssa fought the urge to roll her eyes at the cliched line. "Don't have one." She honestly didn't have the energy to make up a story at the moment.

 The guy grinned. "I'm Kyle."

 "Alyssa. Nice to meet you."

 Kyle's hands slyly snaked around her waist. "Alyssa? That's a pretty name." Without even asking permission he began to grind his hips into hers. Alyssa could smell the alcohol on his breath and was pretty confident that he had drank more than a few beers earlier that night. She began to feel as bit uneasy. She had always found dancing with guys that she didn't know awkward, especially when they tried to dance too closely. Alyssa was pretty big on personal space and she found hers being invaded at the moment.

 She tried to pull away a bit, but Kyle's hands were locked tightly against the small of her back, not giving her much room to maneuver. "Where you going baby?" he asked with a lopsided grin.

 All of a sudden Kyle didn't seem so cute anymore. She looked over his shoulder to try and see if she could find Torie, but her friend was not standing near the bar where she had been a few minutes ago. He continued to grind into her a little rougher as his lips tickled her earlobe. There was definitely something about him that was making Alyssa very uncomfortable and she did not like the fact that he was not letting go of her.

 It wasn't until she felt his hand his hand begin to travel up her thigh and underneath the hem of her skirt that it clicked in her mind that she was going to have to use a bit of force. Before she could react though he had pressed his lips sloppily over hers, pushing his tongue through her surprised mouth. Alyssa was caught off guard by the move, but after a second or two her surprise turned to anger. Using all the strength she could muster up she stamped down onto his foot with the heel of her shoe.

 The move worked and Kyle angrily let go of her. "What the fuck was that all about you stupid bitch?"

 Normally Alyssa probably would've decked him, but once she looked up she realized how badly she'd screwed up. Standing only a few feet away was Nick and it seemed as if he had witnessed the whole thing. Torie was by his side trying to explain the situation, but Nick looked pretty pissed and perhaps even a bit hurt. Shit, Alyssa realized. He must have interpreted that whole scene completely differently than what actually happened. Their eyes locked for a second and Nick just shook his head before turning his back on her and disappearing into a crowd of people.

 Ignoring Kyle, Alyssa pushed past him, trying to find Nick before he left. This was bizarre. Why would he all of a sudden change his mind and decide to show up unannounced? And why would he choose that exact moment to come up and surprise her?

 She finally caught sight of his blonde head nearing the exit. "Nick, wait!" she called, breathing heavily as she struggled to catch up with him. She burst through the double doors of the exit to find a frazzled Torie trying to calm Nick down near a bench a few feet away.

 "I'm sorry," she blurted out as she approached him. "I promise you that was nothing at all what it looked like back there."

 "Really?" Nick's eyes skeptically narrowed. "Because it looked to me like you were all over some guy with your tongue down his throat."

 "His tongue was down my throat!" Alyssa wanted to groan as the words left her mouth once she realized they did nothing to make her appear anymore innocent.

 "Oh, well that makes it okay then," he sarcastically replied. "You know I really thought that you were different, not like most other girls who sniff around me."

 "What is that supposed to mean?" she asked, all of this happening to fast for her to even process it.

 "You seemed like you were really down to earth and shy," he explained. "Not the type to be all over a guy. Innocent, even. Guess you proved me wrong."
 
 His words hit her like a slap in the face. It was almost as bad as if he went as far as to call her a slut directly. "I'm not!" she insisted. "He was all over me! All I did was agree to dance with him and that was only to get my friends off my back."

 "I did encourage her to dance with him," Torie piped up. "In fact, I practically forced her. So, if you should blame anyone, blame me."

 "I was standing around the whole night hoping you'd show up or call or something. You never even called me to wish me a Happy Birthday. What was I supposed to do?"

 Nick clearly did not like both women ganging up on him. "Actually I wasn't even going to come at all until Torie called me telling me how 'upset' you were. You sure looked like were having an awful time."

 Now it was Alyssa's turn to turn on Torie. "I can't believe you called him!"

 "I was only trying to help," Torie meekly replied. "You just looked so upset. I wanted to make you feel better."

 "Well, I'm glad that I found out who you really were before I got too invested." Nick turned to Torie. "Please do me a favor and don't set me up with anymore of your friends."

 Before either girl could reply he strode off towards the parking lot obviously clearly fuming. "Let him go," Torie advised. "There's no rationalizing with him when he's like this. He just needs to cool down."

 Alyssa sank down onto the bench and sighed, leaning her head down into her hands. "We haven't even been on our first date yet and we already had our first fight. Guess I can add this story to the dating disaster file."

 "Don't give up just yet," Torie urged, sitting next to her. "Like I said he needs to cool off and process things."

 "I feel like I really screwed up and I didn't even do anything wrong," Alyssa sniffled as tears finally began to sting her eyes. "Why did that asshole have to decide THAT moment to try and cop a feel on me?"

 Torie looked away guiltily. "I shouldn't have made you dance with him. I'm sorry. I had no idea he was such a jerk."

 "Well, what's done is done and I can't go back and change it now. Maybe this was a sign telling me that it wasn't supposed to work out with us."

 Her friend stubbornly shook her head. "No... It's not over. He must really like you if seeing you with another guy upset him that much. Trust me... Nick isn't really the jealous type. I'm going to fix this."

 Alyssa looked up, wiping her face with the back of her hand. "What do you mean? How?"

 "I don't know, but I was the one who screwed this up for you, so I'm going to come up with some way to fix it," she resolved. "Just you wait and see."

 Alyssa didn't have the strength to argue with her friend. She just nodded her head giving her friend the benefit of the doubt, but somehow she found it hard to believe that Torie could fix the situation. Nick had looked pretty upset and had said some pretty nasty things to her. She wondered what exactly in his past may have caused him to be so upset about seeing her with Kyle?
 

 

End Notes:

Took a while to get this chapter out. I've kind of been losing momentum because I HATE all this beginning relationship stuff and just want them to be together already! This chapter turned out a lot different than I had planned, so I hope you enjoy! Thanks Tri for reading this over for me.

This story archived at http://absolutechaos.net/viewstory.php?sid=10613