This is a continuation of the "Walk With Me" and "Don't Wanne Lose You Now" series. AJ and Alissa are finally back together. What will happen when a major life change threatens their love?
Fanfiction > Backstreet Boys Characters:
1. Chapter 1 by Kyrie
2. Chapter 2 by Kyrie
3. Chapter 3 by Kyrie
4. Chapter 4 by Kyrie
5. Chapter 5 by Kyrie
6. Chapter 6 by Kyrie
7. Chapter 7 by Kyrie
8. Chapter 8 by Kyrie
9. Chapter 9 by Kyrie
10. Chapter 10 by Kyrie
11. Chapter 11 by Kyrie
12. Chapter 12 by Kyrie
13. Chapter 13 by Kyrie
14. Chapter 14 by Kyrie
15. Chapter 15 by Kyrie
16. Chapter 16 by Kyrie
17. Chapter 17 by Kyrie
18. Chapter 18 by Kyrie
19. Chapter 19 by Kyrie
20. Chapter 20 by Kyrie
21. Chapter 21 by Kyrie
22. Chapter 22 by Kyrie
23. Chapter 23 by Kyrie
24. Chapter 24 by Kyrie
25. Chapter 25 by Kyrie
26. Chapter 26 by Kyrie
27. Chapter 27 by Kyrie
28. Chapter 28 by Kyrie
29. Chapter 29 by Kyrie
30. Chapter 30 by Kyrie
31. Chapter 31 by Kyrie
32. Chapter 32 by Kyrie
33. Chapter 33 by Kyrie
34. Chapter 34 by Kyrie
35. Chapter 35 by Kyrie
36. Chapter 36 by Kyrie
37. Chapter 37 by Kyrie
38. Chapter 38 by Kyrie
39. Chapter 39 by Kyrie
40. Chapter 40 by Kyrie
41. Chapter 41 by Kyrie
42. Chapter 42 by Kyrie
43. Chapter 43 by Kyrie
44. Chapter 44 by Kyrie
45. Chapter 45 by Kyrie
46. Chapter 46 by Kyrie
47. Chapter 47 by Kyrie
6 months later:
Alissa was pacing around the hospital waiting room. “Where are they? What’s going on?”
“Liss, calm down. Lucas or the doctor will be out as soon as they can.” AJ said, trying to get her to sit down. She had already worn a path in the carpet over the last four hours.
“How can I calm down? I’m freaking out!”
AJ walked over to her and wrapped his arms around her. “Everything will be fine.”
Alissa nodded and was just about to sit when Lucas came flying through the doors.
“It’s a girl!”
Alissa hugged AJ and Lucas and started jumping around the waiting room while the guys just laughed at her. They gave her a few minutes and then AJ was able to get her to sit so that Lucas could tell them about the baby.
“What name did you guys decide on?” Alissa asked him once she settled down.
Alissa smiled. “I like that one. I’ve always liked Anne or Catherine if I had a girl. I think AJ would be great for a boy.” she laughed winking at AJ.
AJ just stared at her.
Alissa busted out laughing. “You should see your face!” When AJ still didn’t say anything, Alissa sat down on his lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. “Oh come on AJ, I’m just teasing you.”
“Ok.” was all AJ said.
The smile disappeared from Alissa’s face. “I’m sorry that I teased you. I didn’t mean anything by it.” she whispered in his ear.
AJ smiled faintly at her. “Ok.”
Alissa didn’t believe him but she didn’t know what else to say. She got up from his lap and turned to face Lucas. “Can we go in and see Brooke and the baby?”
“Why don’t you go in? AJ and I can wait here while you girls coo over the baby.” Lucas smiled.
“Sounds good to me.” Alissa said, kissing AJ again. She hated walking away from AJ when he seemed upset, but it was apparent that he wasn’t planning on telling her what was going on.
As soon as she disappeared through the doors, Lucas turned to AJ.
“What was that all about?”
AJ just shrugged his shoulders.
“Don’t give me that AJ. Something’s wrong. You looked like you were going to have a stroke when Alissa started teasing you about baby names.”
“It’s nothing, not a big deal. I just got kind of freaked out.”
“Why?” Lucas asked.
“I’ve never even thought about having kids. She caught me off guard with all the planned names. I thought we were happy the way we were.”
“Calm down man. She didn’t ask you to have a kid; she just was teasing you about names.”
“I know, but she seemed serious.”
Lucas laughed. “All girls are serious about that. I swear they pick out baby names as soon as they get their first doll!”
AJ smiled. “I guess you’re right. It’s a woman thing.”
Lucas stood up. “Why don’t we go see the girls?”
AJ and Alissa left the hospital after an hour of visiting with the baby. Brooke was hoping they could take Anne home in a few days and, while Alissa was looking forward to being an auntie, she was hurt because she didn’t understand what she had done to upset AJ. They drove home in silence and when they got there, AJ went straight to the backyard.
Alissa put down her purse and followed him out, sitting in the lounger across from him.
“AJ, what’s the matter? What did I do?”
AJ shook his head. “Nothing. I’m just tired and I wanted to relax.”
“Do you want me to go inside?” Alissa looked at him sadly.
“Of course not.” AJ said pulling her over next to him. “Let’s just relax ok?” He kissed her on the forehead and they didn’t say anything else until they went to bed.
Alissa woke up the next morning to an empty bed. She found a note that AJ had left on her pillow when she turned over.
Morning Liss. Just went to the studio to do some writing. Be back in a little while. Love, AJ.
Well at least he’s talking to me, she thought. She got up and went down to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. As she was making something for breakfast she heard the front door open. When she turned around, AJ was standing there with a dozen lavender roses, her favorite.
“What are those for?” Alissa smiled as he handed her the flowers.
“Me being a jackass.” he said and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I was a jerk yesterday. You caught me off guard when you started talking about baby names. I just didn’t expect it and I acted like an idiot. Forgive me?”
Alissa kissed him. “Of course. I feel badly that I didn’t realize it would bother you so much. I promise not to do that again.” She kissed him again and went to put the roses in a vase.
AJ followed her over to the sink and watched her cut the stems of the roses and fill the vase with water. As soon as she was done, he took the vase from her and put it on the mantle in the living room.
“Mind sharing breakfast with me?” he asked coming back into the kitchen.
“Hmmm. Do I really want to share with you?” Alissa asked teasing him.
AJ put on the puppy dog look. Alissa burst out laughing and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I guess I can.”
“Good! I’m starving!”
The next couple of days were busy for the two of them. AJ and the guys were finishing their album and planning their next tour while Alissa was working and spending time helping Brooke with Anne.
Alissa woke up one morning with a sore throat and nothing she did would get rid of it. AJ insisted she go to the doctor and drove her there himself because he knew she would put it off and find more important things to do. About an hour later the two of them left for home.
“I can’t believe I have strep! This means I have to take time off from work and I can’t go see Anne.” Alissa sniffled.
“Don’t worry about that Liss. You need to do what the doctor says and rest. I’m going to take you home, put you to bed and then I’ll get your antibiotic, ok?”
Alissa just nodded, her throat too sore to speak.
“What?” AJ looked over at her with his jaw hanging open. “Now I know you really are sick. Did you just agree to take it easy and listen to me? Who abducted my girlfriend?”
Alissa laughed and elbowed him in the ribs.
“Hey be careful!” AJ smiled and pulled her over the seat next to him. He draped his arm around her and kissed her head.
When they got home, AJ tucked Alissa in and left to get her medicine. He was gone about an hour and when he came home, he found her sound asleep, curled into a ball on the bed. He smiled and crawled into bed next to her. Tugging the covers up and over them, he pulled Alissa close and kissed her on the cheek. “I love you Liss.” he whispered into her hair and ran his hand over her face. Five minutes later he was sound asleep next to her.
It took Alissa a few days to start feeling better and she was looking forward to spending time with AJ before he left on tour. She was going to miss him but this time she knew that nothing would come in between them while he was away. They had made their relationship so much stronger and she knew it would be ok. Even though she was certain of all of this, she just couldn’t get rid of this uneasy feeling.
Alissa was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t hear AJ come up behind her.
“Hey.” he said putting his hand on her shoulder. She jumped up and fell out of the lounger, banging her elbow against the patio.
“Ow!” she said rubbing her arm. “You scared the crap out of me! Can you give me a little heads up next time?”
“I’m sorry Liss, I didn’t realize you had zoned out.” he said helping her up and back onto the lounger. “Let me see your arm.”
AJ checked out her arm and when he was satisfied that there was nothing wrong with it, he crawled into the lounger next to her and pulled her close. “What were you thinking about? You had such a serious face.”
“I was thinking about missing you when you’re out on tour. I remember what happened last time and I just don’t ……”
AJ cut her off. “Nothing, and I repeat nothing, is going to happen while I’m away. I promise you that everything will be fine. We already made arrangements for you to come out when you can and I know my mom and Brooke will keep a constant eye on you.”
Alissa nodded but still looked sad.
“I mean it Liss. We’ve talked all about this stuff. You and I have no secrets; we’ve been honest about everything. Nothing is going to come between us again.” AJ cupped his hand around her chin and raised her face up so he could look in her eyes. “I love you. Nothing will ever change that. I’ll be gone for four months and then after that, we’re done for a while. We can relax and settle down again.”
Alissa smiled. “I know. Maybe I just needed some reassurance.”
“Well, I can think of a better way to reassure you.” AJ teased her.
“Why does your mind go right to that every time we talk?” Alissa asked laughing.
“Because you’re beautiful and I’m a lucky man.”
“Good answer.” she said standing up.
AJ smiled, stood up and wrapped his arms around her waist. “I love you Liss. I mean that with all my heart.” He kissed her and then followed her into the house.
The guys left a few weeks later on the tour and Alissa joined Leighanne, Leigh and Kristen at the airport to say goodbye. While everyone was saying their goodbyes, AJ pulled Alissa aside to remind her that everything would be ok.
“I’ll call you when we land and later on tonight ok? You’re still coming out to see me in two weeks right?”
Alissa nodded. She had already made plans to come out a few times while they were away.
“Definitely! I am not going to miss out on any opportunities to see you!”
AJ smiled. “That’s what I like to hear. “ The flight attendant announced the boarding of their flight.
“Come here.” He pulled her in tight and kissed her deeply. “I’m going to miss you.” he whispered in her ear.”
“I’m going to miss you too. I love you AJ.” she said and kissed him again.
“Love you too Liss.” AJ smiled and joined the other guys to board. He turned around at the door and saw Alissa standing there waving at him. He was so thankful that he had this woman in his life.
Alissa went over to Brooke’s after the guys left. She knew seeing Anne would at least put her in a better mood. As soon as Brooke opened the door, Alissa plucked Anne out of her arms and sat down on the couch.
“How’s my little girl?” Alissa asked cooing at the baby.
“I’m great. Thanks for asking. Nice to see you too!” Brooke said teasing her cousin. “It’s wonderful to know that I’m such an important part of your life!”
Alissa laughed. “Sorry Brookie. I love you too, but your daughter’s so much cuter!”
“You’re lucky you’re holding my daughter you brat or else I’d smack you!” Brooke said, flopping down on the couch next to her cousin. “Seriously though, Anne loves you. I wish you and AJ would settle down and have some kids. You’re going to make an amazing mom someday.”
Alissa looked horrified. “Please, please, please do not ever say that in front of AJ.”
“Why? It’s not a big deal.”
“Apparently to him, it is. He damn near had a coronary when I teased him about baby names at the hospital.”
“You never told me that.”
“It wasn’t really the perfect time. I’m just telling you to curb all baby talk around him. I mean, we’re not even engaged and I can see how talking about it freaks him out.”
Brooke sighed. “Isn’t he always talking about how you two are going to be together forever and that he can’t imagine his life without you? When is he going to get his act together and just commit?”
“I don’t know and I’m not about to push. I love him and our life together. We’re both happy and we love each other. That’s all that matters right now. Please don’t push about this.”
“Ok, ok. I won’t.”
Brooke laughed. “Pinky swear.”
Alissa smiled and turned her attention back to her niece.
Two weeks later, Alissa flew out to meet AJ on tour. She was able to watch the guys do their sound checks and got to meet some of the fans who were waiting around for an autograph. She was surprised at their reaction to her. They seemed happy to meet her and she loved seeing AJ interact with them.
“You’re so good with the fans. It’s no wonder why they love you and the guys so much.” Alissa said as they were leaving the arena.
“They’re the best fans around. We couldn’t do what we do without them and we want them to know they’re important to us.”
Alissa smiled. “Based on their faces, they know. I thought one girl would go into shock when you hugged her. She didn’t speak for like five minutes!”
“I seem to have that effect on women!” AJ said laughing.
“Oh, and you’re so modest.” Alissa said punching him in the arm.
“Well, it worked on you didn’t it?”
They climbed into the SUV waiting to take them back to the hotel. “I guess so.” Alissa said and smiled.
“You guess so? You guess so?” AJ took the one of the pillows the guys carry and whacked Alissa in the arm.
“Hey, watch my bad elbow!” she laughed.
“Bad elbow my ass!” AJ said, kissing her. “What would you like to do tonight?”
“Spend as much time with you as possible. Two days are going to fly by and I want to make the most of it.”
“How about a nice dinner and then just you and I and a hotel room?”
“Perfect.” Alissa leaned over and kissed him. “Just what I wanted.”
Alissa was right. The two days flew by and before she knew it she was on a flight back home. It was going to be hard sleeping in an empty bed again but she knew she’d see him again in two weeks. At least she had something to look forward to.
She went back to work and was stunned. The kids around her were all coming down with the stomach bug. Students were absent every day and after a few days, Alissa started feeling sick too. AJ told her to go to the doctor and called his mother to explain the situation.
“Brooke can’t take Alissa to the doctor’s because of Anne so will you do it? I can’t trust her to do it on her own because she’s so damn stubborn.”
“Of course sweetheart. I know the kids have all had the stomach bug and she probably just needs some rest. I’ll call her and figure out when her appointment is.”
“Thanks Ma! Love you.”
“Love you too AJ.” Denise said and hung up to call Alissa.
The doctor was able to squeeze Alissa in that afternoon and agreed that it was probably just the stomach bug. He wanted to do some blood tests just to be sure, but told her to just go home and rest.
Denise got her settled and offered to stay but Alissa told her to go home. She was just going to go to bed early and hopefully she would feel better in the morning.
The next day, the doctor called Alissa to see how she was feeling and give her the results of the blood tests.
“I feel like crap. This is the only part of teaching I dislike. Kids get sick and we’re next.”
“Um, actually I’m pretty sure you didn’t get this from the kids.” the doctor said and paused for a minute. “I don’t know how you’re going to feel about this, but congratulations because you’re pregnant.”
The call phone dropped out of Alissa’s hand and died as the battery popped out once it hit the floor. She couldn’t think at all. She slid down to the floor in shock and sat there for what seemed like hours. Once her brain started to work a little, she called Brooke and told her she was coming over.
Brooke opened the door to find Alissa sweating and in a panic on the doorstep. She hadn’t even moved out of the way when Alissa charged down the hallway.
Brooke was going to say something snide as she followed Alissa into the kitchen but when she saw her cousin’s face, she didn’t dare say anything.
Alissa sat down in one of the chairs, put her arms on the table and dropped her head on top of them. She started sobbing and Brooke had no idea what to do.
“Alissa, please tell me what’s wrong. Did you and AJ have a fight?”
Alissa just shook her head no.
“Then honey I’m confused. The only time I’ve ever seen you this upset was when something happened between you and AJ. You need to calm down and tell me what’s wrong.”
Alissa continued to sob and Brooke brought over a box of tissues. All she could do was hug her cousin.
After a few minutes, Alissa’s sobbing subsided enough so that Brooke could ask her what was wrong again. Alissa just picked her head up and stared at her cousin.
Brooke’s jaw dropped and she stammered over her words. “Are you sure? I thought you were on the pill.”
“I am.” was all Alissa said before she started crying again.
“Well, I’m going to be a moron for a minute but I thought that you were pretty safe on that. Did you forget any days?”
“No.” Alissa cried. “I asked the doctor and he said that when I had strep and was on the antibiotic, the pill wasn’t working properly. I didn’t even think about that. AJ was leaving on tour soon and all I concentrated on was that!”
Brooke sighed. “Nobody in your position would think about that.”
“I should have Brooke. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” Alissa put her head back down and started crying again.
AJ was surprised when he called Alissa to see how she was feeling and the call went right to voicemail. Considering what happened the last time he went on tour, he started to get nervous.
“Why isn’t she answering?” he asked Nick getting anxious.
“Will you relax J? You said yourself that she felt like crap and that she should get some rest. Leave her be and try calling her again tomorrow.”
“Ok.” AJ said and followed the guys out to the sound check.
Alissa spent the night at Brooke’s. She didn’t want to be alone and she had no idea what she was going to do. Tossing and turning all night, she finally got up at 7 and found Brooke in the kitchen.
Brooke had no idea what to say to her cousin. She didn’t want to upset her again but when Alissa went to pour a cup of coffee, Brooke put her hand on her arm and shook her head no.
“You’re not supposed to drink a lot of caffeine, if any, when you’re pregnant.”
Hearing those words again was like a blow to the stomach. Alissa sat down at the table and started to tear up again. Brooke sat next to her and just held her hand.
“What am I going to do?”
“My first suggestion? Go to the doctor and make sure they got the test right.” Brooke said matter-of-factly.
“What happens if it is right?” Alissa looked at her helplessly.
Brooke sighed knowing this was not what her cousin wanted to hear. “Tell AJ.”
Alissa started to cry again. “I can’t do that. I told you how he was freaked out by the whole thing at the hospital. How am I going to tell him this?”
“AJ loves you. He’s going to be ok.”
“No he’s not. You didn’t see his face. He may love me but he is definitely not going to be ok with this!”
“This is a pointless argument until we know what the test definitely says.” Brooke handed Alissa the phone. “Call the doctor and make an appointment for today.”
Three hours later, the girls left the doctor’s office. They got in the car and drove home, neither saying anything. The doctor had confirmed that Alissa was pregnant and had given her a lot of information to take home and consider. Brooke understood that the doctor wanted to give her options but she knew Alissa. She loved AJ and wouldn’t want him hurt, but she was never going to give up this baby.
They got back to Brooke’s house and found it empty. Lucas had left a note that he had taken Anne to his parents’ house for a visit. The girls had the house to themselves and Brooke knew that they had to talk.
She let Alissa get settled on the couch before she jumped into it.
“What are you going to do?”
Alissa looked at her. “You really know how to ease into things, don’t you?”
“No, I don’t and I know you. If I just play along, you’re not going to figure out what you’re going to do. This is serious and you need to make a decision.”
“I know I have to tell AJ!” she yelled at her cousin. The tears started to form in her eyes. “I just don’t know how to. What do I say? ‘Hi honey, guess what? That baby you don’t want, well it’s here!’”
“No, you don’t have to tell him like that. You do however need to tell him sooner rather than later. You’re supposed to fly out there in a couple of days right?”
Alissa nodded. “Am I supposed to tell him then? With the show going on and all the guys around? I don’t see that being the perfect time.”
“There is no perfect time Alissa. You’re just going to have to tell him.”
“What if he hates me?” Alissa said as tears spilled out of her eyes.
Brooke held her cousin while she cried. “AJ loves you. He’s not going to hate you. I know he’s not going to be really happy about this, but you guys will get through it, I know it.”
Alissa just shook her head. She wished she could be as sure as her cousin but she wasn’t. She asked Brooke if she could spend the night again.
“Of course you can! You don’t have to ask. Do you want me to make you something to eat or drink?”
“Alissa you have to…….”
“Enough Brooke! I know what I have to do. Can I just have one night off please?” Alissa ran upstairs and crawled in to bed in the guestroom. She tried sleeping but it didn’t come easy. It was about two hours later when she started to doze off and was snapped out of it by her phone ringing. Shit! She didn’t want to answer it but it was the second night since they’d talked and she knew AJ would worry.
“Hello?” Alissa answered pretending to be half asleep. At least she was hoping it sounded that way.
“Hey Liss. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, just not feeling well.”
“Still got the stomach bug huh? I hope you are getting some rest and not overdoing it.” AJ waited for her to say something and when she didn’t, he was surprised. “Are you sure you’re ok?”
“I’m fine AJ really. How’s the tour going” she asked changing the subject.
“It’s fantastic! The shows have been terrific and the fans are awesome. I’m really looking forward to you coming out next weekend. You are still coming right?”
“Sure? Are you really ok? What are you not telling me?” AJ asked becoming concerned. Something just didn’t seem right.
“I’m fine AJ really. I just need some sleep ok?”
“Alright. Please try and get some rest. I want to see you soon. I can’t get used to sleeping in an empty bed!”
“I miss that laugh. I miss your smile, your voice. I miss you Liss. I love you and I will call you tomorrow.”
“Love you too AJ.” Alissa said and hung up the phone. She could only hope that love was enough.
The next week flew by and before Alissa knew it, she was on a plane to see AJ. Her morning sickness hadn’t subsided any and she got motion sick on the plane. By the time they landed, Alissa was wiped out.
AJ picked her up at the airport just like he had promised. He took one look at her and knew something was wrong. He saw this woman in front of him that was nothing like Alissa. She seemed sick, sad and just not that happy to be there.
“Liss, baby, what’s wrong? And don’t you dare tell me nothing.”
Alissa smiled faintly. “Nothing, just got a little motion sick on the plane ride out here. Do you mind if we head to the hotel so I can rest for a bit?”
AJ put his arm around her waist. “Whatever you need Liss.” He carried her bags out to the SUV and helped her get into the passenger side. Once he settled himself into the driver’s seat, they pulled out and headed to the hotel. They drove in complete silence while Alissa just stared out the window. AJ knew something was bothering him and it hurt him that he didn’t know how to help her.
They arrived a few minutes later and AJ helped her upstairs. He offered to run a bath for her hoping that it would help. Alissa agreed and AJ went into the bathroom to get it started.
Alissa was sitting on the bed taking her shoes off when her cell phone began to vibrate.
“Hello?” she answered quietly.
“You sound like shit! Plane rides definitely don’t help morning sickness.”
“Thanks Brooke. Hello to you too. And no they don’t.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to be so blunt. I really was just calling to check on you.” Brooke paused for a minute. “Did you talk to him yet?”
“No I didn’t talk to him yet! I just got here. I wasn’t going to bring it up in the middle of the airport!”
“Ok, ok. Don’t bite my head off! I just think you should tell him soon.”
“Thanks for the advice. I’ll talk to him in a little while.” Alissa said and hung up the phone. She got up and turned around to go into the bathroom. She stopped mid stride when she saw AJ standing in the doorway. The look on his face told her that he had overheard the conversation with Brooke.
“Tell me what?” he said quietly. “I thought we didn’t have any secrets Liss.”
Alissa’s eyes started to fill with tears. “We don’t AJ. I just found out and I wasn’t sure how to tell you and I know you’re going to hate me and…”
She started to sob. AJ came over and wrapped his arms around her.
“It’s ok Liss. Tell me whatever you need to. I’m never going to hate you. I love you with all my soul, nothing will ever change that.” He kissed her on the head and held her while she cried. It was breaking his heart seeing her in this much pain.
After a few minutes, her sobs subsided enough for her to face him.
“I’m pregnant AJ.”
AJ’s jaw fell open. He sat there for a few minutes and then started pacing around the room.
“Are you kidding me? I thought you were on the pill. How did this happen?” he asked angrily and turned to face her.
“They gave me an antibiotic when I had strep and it made the pill ineffective.”
“How long were you planning to wait before telling me?”
“I just found out two weeks ago…”
“Two weeks? Two fucking weeks and you’re just now getting around to telling me?”
“Don’t give me that AJ please crap! You knew this was something I wasn’t ready for and you’ve now decided to spring it on me! Did you do it on purpose?” he shouted at her.
“No AJ. I told you it was an accident.” Alissa pleaded with him. “I made a mistake and didn’t think…”
“That’s the problem!” he exploded. “You didn’t think! I can’t do this now!” He grabbed his jacket and went to leave. “You can stay here tonight and I’ll book you on the first flight home in the morning.” He walked out of the room and slammed the door on the way out.
Alissa burst into tears. She was sobbing hysterically and she couldn’t stop. She cried for a few hours before she fell asleep, too tired to even move. It was about 6pm when she heard a knock at the door. She ran over and flung it open praying that AJ had some back. She started sobbing when she saw the other guys there. They were so shocked to see her like this that Nick almost didn’t catch her before she sank to the floor.
AJ walked for what seemed like hours. How could she do that to him? She knew how he felt about having a baby and she let it happen! He was so angry that he couldn’t even stand to be in the same room as him. He finally stopped at another hotel and booked himself a room for the night. Calling the airport, he arranged for car service and the earliest flight out in the morning for Alissa.
The guys finally got Alissa calmed down enough to tell them what happened and they were horrified when they found out what AJ had said.
“I’m so sorry Alissa.” Brian said.
“It’s my fault. I messed up and just sprang this on him.” Alissa said quietly.
Howie shook his head. “It’s nobody’s fault. Neither of you planned this.”
“AJ thinks I did.”
“He’s an ass!” Nick yelled. “He doesn’t know what to think. He’s a moron and I plan on telling him that as soon as I see his dumbass!”
“Please don’t Nick. The last thing any of you need is to spend the tour fighting about this.”
“I agree with Nick. He’s being a jackass and he needs to be put in his place. What he’s doing is not ok.” Kevin said. “We’re going to get this worked out before you leave in a few days.
Just then the room phone rang. Alissa picked it up and her face went white. Tears started to form in her eyes and all the guys heard was her say ok.
Brian put his hand on her arm. “What’s wrong?”
“AJ booked me a flight for first thing tomorrow morning and they have a car service taking me.” Alissa jumped up, ran into the bathroom and slammed the door.
None of the guys knew what to say. They all wanted to wring his neck but didn’t know where he was. The next few days were free so no one knew when AJ would be back.
Nick tapped on the bathroom door. “Alissa, can you come out please?”
“No Nick. Thank you for looking after me but could you guys just please leave? I really don’t want to talk anymore.”
The guys didn’t want to upset her anymore so they left promising that they would see her before she left in the morning.
Alissa waited a little while after they left and began packing her things. Her heart was broken and she couldn’t bear to be around any of the guys and have them look at her. She felt pathetic and completely destroyed.
The front desk rang the room when her car came in the morning and Alissa slipped out quietly. She didn’t want to rehash everything with the guys again and she wanted to be gone in case AJ came back. Any more fighting with him or having him look at her with disgust would crush her.
She called Brooke from the airport and she was waiting for her when she arrived. Alissa looked like she had been through the wringer and there wasn’t a trace of who she had been. Brooke hugged her cousin and didn’t say anything. This was killing Alissa and Brooke wanted to kill AJ for doing this to her. She brought her cousin home and then she and Lucas went to get Alissa’s clothes and other stuff from AJ’s house to spare her cousin from having to go back there. Both of them agreed to do whatever they could to support and take care of Alissa.
When the guys went by AJ’s room to say goodbye to Alissa, they found the maid cleaning it. Alissa was nowhere in sight and none of them could blame her. AJ was a completely asshole to her and all they could wait for was for him to show up. And he did, 3 days later.
AJ showed up at sound check and was shocked by the guys’ faces as he came in. They all looked angry and ready to pounce.
“I guess you guys already know the terrific news.” AJ said sarcastically.
“You’re a fucking jackass! I know that for a fact!” Nick yelled first getting in AJ’s face. “How could you do that?”
“Me? How could I do that? She did that!”
“Really J? Last time I checked it takes two to make a baby. She didn’t do it all by herself.” Brian said.
Before AJ could say anything, Howie cut in. “We went to invite you guys to dinner last night and all we found was Alissa. She was a mess! We couldn’t even get her to talk to us for an hour! She was heartbroken and you caused it!”
Kevin jumped in right after. “You’ve told us countless times how much you love her and how you could never imagine your life without her. Then you turn around when things get tough and you walk out on her. I love you but Nick’s right. You’re being an asshole.”
AJ was floored. “You’ve got to be kidding me! You’re all on her side? After everything we’ve been through, you’re siding with her?”
“No J, we’re siding with your kid!” Nick yelled at him again. “You need to man up and take some responsibility. You act like Alissa was some random woman you had a one night stand with who happened to get pregnant. She’s not! Supposedly, she’s the love of your life and the one who your heart belongs to. Was that all bullshit?”
“No!” AJ screamed back. “This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m done with all of this! I’ll finish the tour and do whatever I need to but I want to be on my own!” He stormed off into his dressing room.
Two weeks later:
Denise got off the phone with AJ and went directly to Brooke’s house. She finally had the answer as to why she hadn’t heard from Alissa in weeks now. Brooke answered the door and immediately tried to close it when she saw AJ’s mother.
“Please Brooke, don’t shut me out.” Denise pleaded.
“Why? I don’t owe you anything and your son doesn’t deserve anything.” she said bitterly.
“I didn’t come here to argue. AJ is still my son….”
“And Alissa is still my cousin!”
Denise sighed. “I know. I love AJ but want he did was wrong. I wanted to let Alissa know that I still care about her and I want her to know that I will be here if she needs anything.”
Brooke was about to close the door again when Alissa called out to her and asked her to let Denise in. Brooke grudgingly opened the door and let Denise by. The two women went down to the kitchen and found Alissa sitting at the table.
“Can you give Denise and me a couple minutes to talk?” Alissa asked her cousin.
“Are you sure?”
“Fine. I’ll be in the living room.”
Once Brooke left, Denise got to take a look at Alissa. The woman in front of her bore no resemblance to the Alissa she knew. She looked tired, overwhelmed and in pain. She was starting to show and Denise regretted the fact that AJ wasn’t there.
“I’m so sorry Alissa. I had no idea what had happened until AJ and I spoke this morning. Why didn’t you call me?”
“I didn’t want you to be in the middle. He’s your son Denise. You need to support him, not me. He’s made it very clear that he’s done and I’m too tired to fight anymore. I have nothing left and I just want to think about what’s best for my baby right now.”
“I know he’s my son but that doesn’t mean I agree with what he’s done. I don’t. I’m furious with him for doing this to you. I have no idea what he’s thinking right now.”
Alissa stood up and went to get a glass of water. “Look Denise, I appreciate you coming here and checking on me. I’m going to be ok and I’ll get through this. I want you to know that I will never keep your grandchild from you no matter how AJ feels. I just can’t do this with you now. I’m sorry.”
Alissa left Denise sitting in the kitchen and returned to her bedroom. She crawled into bed thinking about how she just lied. She wasn’t going to be ok and she had no idea how to get through this.
The guys finished up the tour about a month later. They tried to reconcile with AJ but he wanted no part of it. He didn’t want to hear anything else about Alissa, the baby or his responsibilities. He was tired of all the crap and decided he was going to go away for a while. Instead of flying back home with the rest of the guys, he took off for Florida to see some old friends and settle on what he would do next.
He made a point of calling his mother and letting her know where he was. However, he told her that she should only call in case of emergencies and not for every little thing, or else he would stop answering the calls. Denise knew he was too stubborn to listen so she agreed. She did ask him though if he wanted to be called when Alissa had the baby.
“Why would you call me?”
Denise sighed. “Because it’s your child AJ. Don’t you want to know?”
“No, actually I don’t. That’s the whole point of me not coming back.”
“What do you mean not coming back?”
“I’m moving Ma. I haven’t decided where and I don’t know when. I called a realtor already. When I feel like coming back, I’ll pick up my stuff and be off.”
“AJ! That’s ridiculous! I know you and Alissa aren’t together but you’re saying you can’t even stay in the same state?”
“Look, we’re done. I need to get going. I’ll talk to you later. Love you.” he said and hung up before his mother could answer. He didn’t believe a word he just told his mother. He did care but it was over. There was a canyon between him and Alissa now and there was no way through it.
4 months later:
Alissa and Brooke came back to the house after her doctor’s appointment. She was getting bigger and her hormones were running wild. The doctor told her she was having a little boy and the thought of that made her heart ache even more. All she wanted to do was call AJ and tell him, but she knew he wouldn’t answer her calls or listen to any voicemails she left. He made it clear that he didn’t care anymore.
“I feel like a house.” Alissa said sadly getting out of the car.
“Everyone feels like that. It’s going to get worse over the next few months before the baby comes. Lucas used to….”
“I don’t want to hear about what Lucas used to do!” Alissa snapped. “I have to do this by myself and I’m tired of hearing what it’s like to have someone else help you!”
“I’m sorry Alissa. I don’t mean to upset you.” Brooke said apologetically.
Alissa sighed. “I know you don’t. I’m just stressed out right now. I’m in pain, exhausted and I don’t have the same kind of support that you had with Lucas. This baby has one parent, not two.”
Watching her cousin struggle like this hurt Brooke deeply. She hated AJ right now but she would give anything to have him come back and help Alissa. She would do whatever it took to fix this for both of them.
Knowing that she wasn’t able to do much, she suggested that they do something that might brighten Alissa’s mood. “Do you feel like going shopping for the little one? Now that you know the sex, it’ll be easier to buy stuff. We can bring Anne and have a girls’ day.”
Alissa nodded. She didn’t really feel like going shopping but she had to do something before she went insane. She loved her niece and it might be nice to spend some time not hating everything.
Alissa did tell Brooke that she wanted to call Denise before they left. The other woman answered on the second ring and was surprised to hear Alissa’s voice.
“Hi sweethe….hi Alissa. How are you?” Denise didn’t want to push Alissa away by acting like nothing had happened.
“Hi Denise. I was calling to let you know that I went to the doctor today and I found out that it’s a little boy. I just thought you’d want to know.”
“That’s wonderful! Thank you so much for calling me to let me know.” She wanted to add that she would do whatever she could to help but it didn’t seem like the best time.
“You’re welcome Denise. I promised to make sure you stay a part of this baby’s life and I meant it. I’ll call you again soon.”
Denise hung up the phone and thought about calling AJ. She had no idea if he wanted to know but she decided to text him anyway. She didn’t care about his feelings at this point. He was being stubborn and unreasonable about this. AJ needed to realize what was at stake.
AJ didn’t know what to feel after the text from his mother. He was having a little boy. No, he thought to himself. Alissa’s having a baby boy. He made it clear to her that he wanted no part of this and the door’s already shut. The thought of never seeing her again though created so much pain for him.
He pulled open the mini fridge in the hotel room where he was staying. Grabbing all the bottles of liquor and a glass, he went to the sink to mix himself a drink. Pouring the liquid into the glass, he stared at it and remembered the times he used it to kill his pain. Alissa’s face flashed through his mind. The one thing he knew how to do well to escape everything wasn’t working any more. He took one more look and then poured the glass and all the bottles down the drain.
A couple of weeks had passed and Alissa was trying as hard as she could to stay in a more positive frame of mind. She had finally accepted that there was no chance AJ was coming back and she needed to do what was best for her child. Being as negative and depressed as she had been was not going to help anyone. She had to put her feelings aside and do whatever she could to provide the best life for this little boy.
The first major step for her was to allow her cousin to throw her a baby shower. It was a beautiful day and she was surprised to see Leighanne, Leigh and Kristen there.
“Hi guys.” Alissa said quietly when she came in. “Thank you for coming.”
“Did you really think we wouldn’t?” Leighanne asked. “We wanted you to know we were here for you and that we love you but we didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.”
Leigh nodded. “We’ve missed you and want to do whatever we can to help you.”
Alissa started to tear up. She hugged each one of the women and realized how much she had missed their company. She excused herself after a while and went around to talk to some of the women from work and some of her other relatives.
She was about to join her cousin at the head table when she noticed Denise had slipped in. Whatever happened between her and AJ, she had to give his mom a lot of credit for what she was doing. It had to be hard to be caught in the middle and she wanted Denise to know she appreciated it.
“Hi Denise. I’m glad you came.” Alissa smiled and hugged her.
Denise beamed. “I almost didn’t. I know how you feel and I wanted this day to be special for you. I’m glad you don’t mind me being here.”
“You’re this little boy’s grandmother Denise. You have as much of a reason to celebrate as the rest of us.” Alissa paused. “It means a lot to me that you came. I know this hasn’t been easy for you either.”
Denise started to tear up. “I love you sweetie.”
“I love you too Denise.”
The rest of the baby shower was wonderful. Everyone had a good time and it was so nice for everyone to see a smile back on Alissa’s face. They could still see pain there but it had moved over a little so that some joy could join in.
Denise drove home after the bridal shower and was shocked when she pulled into her driveway. AJ was just sitting there on the hood of his car waiting for her. She had barely put the car into park before she jumped out and ran to hug her son.
“When did you get back?”
“Today. I figured I’d make my first stop here and see you.”
“I’m so happy to see you AJ. I’ve missed you.” she said and kissed him on the cheek. “Can you stay for a little while?”
AJ smiled. “Sure.” As he followed his mother into the house, he noticed that she was dressed up. “What’s the occasion?”
Denise froze for a moment. “Just a party for a friend.” She didn’t dare tell him about the baby shower. He had just come back and she was afraid she’d spook him and he’d leave again. “Would you like me to make you something to eat?” she asked, changing the subject quickly.
“That sounds good.” He paused. “I wanted to ask you a favor.”
“I can’t go back and face an empty house. Can I stay with you for a while?”
Denise was stunned. “Of course, you don’t have to ask. Does this mean you plan on staying here?”
AJ shook his head. “I’m not sure yet. I will for now and we’ll see how things go.”
“I’ll take it!” Denise told her son.
AJ spent the next two weeks hanging around his mother’s house, writing and trying to figure out what he was going to do next. He had only been back to the house to pick up some clothes and when he got there, he noticed that all of Alissa’s things were gone. No matter how much he said that he was over it, it crushed him to see her ghost all around his house. It would never be the same there without her.
Denise had finally convinced him to try reconciling with the guys. She understood how AJ felt and the position where the guys were coming from. She eventually got Brian and Howie to agree to come over. Unfortunately, Nick and Kevin were a little less forgiving. It was going to take more than a simple conversation for everything to go back to normal for them.
Howie and Brian showed up in the Denise’s kitchen for breakfast one morning. AJ had to admit to himself that he was happy to see them. The guys were like family and he had missed them the last few months.
“Hey J.” Brian said giving him a hug. “How’re you feeling?”
“Liar.” Howie said. He paused for a minute before he continued. “Look man, we want to get this issue resolved but you’ve got to start being honest with us and yourself.”
AJ just looked down at his shoes.
Brian pulled out a chair and sat down. “AJ, all this has to end. It’s gotten old. You didn’t fool anyone back on the tour and you’re not fooling anyone now. We all get that you have a serious issue with Alissa having your baby, but you can’t tell any of us that your life is better without her in it.”
AJ started to say something but Howie cut him off. “Brian’s right. You can walk around saying that you’re ok with her being gone but we all know you’re full of shit. You miss her every day and you love her no matter what else is happening.”
AJ stayed quiet.
Brian smiled. “Well at least we’ve gotten over the denial part! That’s a relief. I thought we were going to have to start back at square one.”
All three guys laughed. It had been way too long.
“Wow! I think I just saw a smile on his face!” Howie chimed in. “A miracle!”
“Ok. I get it.” AJ said. “I understand what you guys are saying.”
“Are you going to admit it or do we have to beat it out of you?” Howie asked joking around.
“Alright, alright. I miss her.” AJ said sadly. “I fucked up. Things shouldn’t have gone down like that.”
“Good start. Now the hard part, are you going to talk to her?” Brian asked quietly.
“I don’t think so.”
Howie looked at him stunned. “I’m sorry, was I listening to another conversation a second ago? I thought you just said that you missed her and that you fucked up. Now you’re not going to talk to her?”
AJ shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know what there is to say. I love her and its killing me not to be with her. The problem is, I still don’t think I’m ready for a baby. And honestly, after the way I treated her, I know she’s not about to welcome me with open arms. I was a complete asshole and I would tell me to go screw if I were her.”
None of the guys said anything for a few minutes.
“You know Alissa’s not like that J.” Brian finally said cautiously. “She loves you more than anything and she was devastated when you walked out. I think you should at least try talking to her. You owe her an apology.”
“I agree. I doubt it’s going to make things any worse than they are now.” Howie said
AJ knew he should but he was afraid that Howie was wrong and things could get a lot worse.
Alissa left the doctor’s office feeling good. The baby was healthy and where he should be at this point in the pregnancy. They had given her another picture and she couldn’t wait to show Brooke. She also asked for a second one to give Denise. After all, she had been terrific and Alissa knew how much she wanted to be a part of this baby’s life. This would be a good surprise for her.
On the way back to Brooke’s, Alissa stopped by Denise’s house and rang the bell. She waited a few minutes and, when no one answered, she put the picture in an envelope and left it in the mailbox. She would call Denise and leave her a message letting her know it was there. As she was turning around to leave, she saw a familiar truck pull into the driveway. The truck parked and AJ stepped out. Alissa felt like all the air had been sucked out of her body and all she wanted to do was get out of there.
AJ had a different reaction. He always thought Alissa was beautiful but seeing her pregnant was a whole other level of beautiful. She truly was glowing. Unfortunately, there was also an extreme sadness that had taken over her face. AJ was devastated, knowing that he caused that look. All he wanted to do was run over to her, kiss her and tell her how much he loved her. The problem was he was so floored by all of these emotions that he was almost frozen to the ground.
“Hi.” was all he could manage.
“Hi. I’m sorry; I wouldn’t have come here if I knew you were back. I was just leaving.”
Not giving him a chance to say anything else, she got into her car and sped past him out of the driveway.
AJ stood there for a few minutes kicking himself for not doing or saying something. He started walking into the house when he realized there was an envelope sticking out of the mailbox and he remembered that Alissa was putting something in there before she left. He pulled it out and opened it up. He gasped and almost dropped the picture. The baby suddenly became much more real to him. The little boy in the picture was beautiful and he was overcome with emotion. It was real, he was having a son.
Alissa pulled over at the beach and started sobbing. She had no idea AJ was back and definitely had not planned on running into him. The fantasies that played out in her head about them getting back together were suddenly coming to a screeching halt. He could barely look at her and he didn’t say anything but hi. She knew that it was completely over between them now and it killed her.
She cried for a while and then tried to make herself calm down before she started driving again. Shit! Alissa all of a sudden remembered putting the sonogram picture of the baby in the mailbox. She hoped AJ didn’t see her put it there. He would probably go ballistic that she was talking to his mom and that she was still close to her.
Drying her tears, she headed back to Brooke’s. She was grateful that Brooke and Lucas were out with Anne so that she would have a little time to pull herself together.
They got back about an hour later and Brooke knew right away that something was wrong. She asked Lucas to put Anne to bed and give her a little time with her cousin. Alissa was sitting on the couch watching TV so Brooke sat down next to her and held her hand.
“What’s the matter? And don’t start with the everything is fine crap.”
Alissa took a deep breath. “I wasn’t going to say nothing. AJ’s back.”
Brooke gasped. “Are you kidding me? I thought he was long gone.”
“Did he come here?”
Alissa looked at her cousin like she had two heads. “Are you crazy? No he didn’t come here. Why would he? He made it perfectly clear that we were done and the look on his face today confirmed it. He couldn’t even speak to me.”
Brooke looked confused. “Back up for a minute. If he didn’t come here, where did you see him?”
“I went to Denise’s after my doctor’s appointment to give her a sonogram picture. AJ pulled in as I was leaving.”
“You got a new picture? Denise must have been thrilled.”
“She wasn’t there. I left it in the mailbox.”
“Yep. I’m pretty sure AJ saw me put it in there and he must have looked at it.”
“Good! It’s about damn time! That boy is going to be a dad and he needs to realize that you both are having a little boy. He needs to man up and understand that this is real and he can’t keep running from it.”
Alissa shook her head. “I don’t know how he reacted. I left and I haven’t called Denise yet to see if she got it. I’m kind of afraid to do it.”
“Why? I’m sure she’s thrilled. Too bad if it upset him. He needs to grow up! He….”
Alissa cut her off. “Please don’t start arguing with me. I agree with you but it’s been a hard enough day as it is and I just want some peace.”
“Ok sweetheart. I’m sorry.” Brooke hugged her and left to give her some space. She didn’t know how much more of this she could take without finding and strangling AJ.
Nick had called Denise to ask her if she would mind him coming over to see AJ. She thought it was a great idea and they met at her house a few hours later. They found AJ sitting at the kitchen table with his head in his hands and an envelope on the table. He looked up at the two of them and had tears in his eyes.
“What happened sweetheart?” Denise said, laying a hand on his shoulder. AJ didn’t respond.
Nick walked over and picked up the envelope. He held up the sonogram picture of the baby.
Denise looked at the picture and then at her son. “Where did you get that from? Did you go see Alissa?”
AJ shook his head no. “She was here when I got home.”
“Did she come to see you? At least someone might have some sense around here.” Nick said.
“No.” AJ said looking at Denise. “She was leaving this for you.”
“I’m sorry honey. I…”
AJ cut her off. “There’s no need for you to be sorry. I’ve been a complete fucking idiot.”
“Hallelujah!” Nick yelled.
Both AJ and Denise looked up stunned.
“Sorry J, but I’m not about to be nice about this. You have been a total asshole to everyone around you. You’ve pushed all of us away and you threw away a terrific relationship with an amazing woman.”
AJ started to say something but Nick jumped back in.
“Uh-uh. You’ve done enough talking. Time for some listening. I get that you’re struggling with the whole baby thing but this is ridiculous. You’re going to flush your whole life down the toilet because you guys made a mistake and you don’t want to deal with the consequences.”
AJ started again but Nick held up his hand.
“Not done. You need to man up and talk to that woman. Make this thing work. If you’re lucky enough, maybe Alissa’s hormones will be wacky enough that she might consider taking your sorry ass back!”
AJ laughed out loud in spite of himself.
Nick grinned. “Maybe we’re finally getting through to you.”
“I know I’m completely to blame here Nick. I saw that picture today and everything became real to me. I know I fucked up but I don’t think there is a way to fix it. Alissa didn’t even let me say anything to her before she was out of here.”
Denise looked at him. “Maybe she was afraid that you would be angry with her coming here and leaving the picture for me.”
That thought was like a knife in his heart. The fact that she would leave just because he was angry hurt him deeply. He knew he acted like a dick and he would give anything to take that all back.
“I don’t blame her. I was awful to her that night on tour. I left her there by herself and had some random car service take her to the airport. I sent her home without even taking another look at her.”
AJ started to tear up. “I fucked up. I fucked up and I don’t know how to make it right.”
“Why don’t you try to call her? Maybe that would be a good first step.” Denise said quietly.
AJ agreed and spent the night trying to figure out what to say if she picked up the phone.
Alissa woke up the next morning to chaos. Brooke and Lucas were racing around the house, packing bags and taking care of Anne.
“What’s going on here?” Alissa asked still half asleep.
“Oh good, you’re up!” Brooke thrust Anne into her arms and ran around grabbing more stuff. “Lucas’ sister called. Their mom had a stroke last night and we need to drive out there.”
“Oh my god! Is she ok?”
“I think she will be but his sister is leaving in a few days and Lucas and I need to help her with his mom.” She took a deep breath. “We may need to stay there for a little while. Will you be ok by yourself?”
“I’ll be fine. I’m not due for another month and the doctor said everything is going fine. It’ll be nice to have some peace around here.” she said, teasing her cousin.
“Wise ass!” Brooke yelled smacking her in the shoulder. “Can you take care of Anne for a little while so we can finish getting things together?”
Alissa brought the baby down to the kitchen to make her bottle. After Anne was done, she took her back upstairs and changed her so that the baby would be ready to leave as soon as Brooke and Lucas were done.
They finally finished packing and Brooke came back in to get Anne.
“Are you sure you’re going to be ok? I can stay…”
“No you can’t. Lucas’ mother needs him and he needs you. So does Anne. I’m going to be fine. I’ll call you every day to check in. I promise.”
“Alright, I love you!” Brooke kissed Alissa on the cheek, hugged her and then ran out the door.
Alissa settled down on the couch and tried to decide what she wanted to do with all this free time. She heard her phone ring and when she went to answer it, she noticed that AJ was calling. All she wanted to do was hear his voice, even for a minute, but she was terrified that he would be mad about yesterday. She decided that it would be better off letting it go to voicemail.
AJ let the phone ring and ring until it finally went to voicemail. Alissa wasn’t going to answer and he could understand why. He didn’t bother leaving a message since he was pretty sure that she would just delete it. After talking to Denise, he decided to wait a few days and try again.
Alissa spent the next week taking care of things for the baby. It was great that Lucas and Brooke were letting her stay there but she knew that once the baby came, she was going to need more space. She looked at a few apartments and found a cute one down by the beach that would be up for rent in a month. It would be tough timing, having a baby and having to move, but she knew that two babies and three adults living in the same house was going to wear thin after a while. She spent the rest of the afternoon picking up little odds and ends and decided to grab dinner on the way home.
A few hours later, she was settled in on the couch watching a movie. She was so tired that she fell asleep a couple of minutes into it. After being asleep for about an hour, she woke up suddenly, clasping her stomach. There were these intense pains and she felt like she was going to be sick. She started crying and felt another wave of pain flood over her.
She tried calling Brooke but her phone was out of range and went to straight to voicemail. Another wave of pain hit and she could barely stand. She knew she needed to get to the hospital but she was in so much agony that she was having trouble thinking. Dialing the phone, she called Denise at home and hoped that she would be able to help.
The phone rang three times and someone answered. Suddenly, a new wave of pain hit her and all she could do was scream into the receiver. She dropped the phone and curled into a ball on the floor. All these horrible scenarios came flooding into her head as another round of pain entered her body. She was barely holding on and prayed for dear life that Denise had heard her.
AJ heard Alissa scream and dropped the receiver. He flew by his mother without saying a word and out to his truck throwing it into drive. Calling 911, he sped towards Brooke’s house. He explained to the operator that Alissa was about 8 months pregnant and had called screaming in pain. Driving well past the speed limit, he got there just as the ambulance was pulling in.
He didn’t wait for the EMTs to say anything. Throwing open the front door, he ran down to the living room where he knew the phone was. He found Alissa curled into a ball on the floor, sobbing and gritting her teeth as pain rocked her body. Dropping down, he pulled her into his arms and yelled for the paramedics to come down the hall. They got Alissa to uncurl and tried to ask her some questions but all she could do was cry and scream when the next pain hit. The medics got Alissa strapped into the stretcher and started to take her to the ambulance. AJ explained that he was the father and begged them to let him ride with her to the hospital. The EMT finally agreed and AJ climbed into the back holding onto Alissa’s hand, whispering to her that he was there. He didn’t know if she could even hear him and he didn’t care. He just wanted to be with her.
The drive to the hospital seemed like it was taking hours. They finally pulled in to the emergency room dock and Alissa was whisked away. The nurse told AJ that he would have to stay in the waiting room until the doctors examined her. He paced back and forth calling his mother and the guys. His mind was racing and he felt like he was losing it. The guys and Denise showed up at the same time and they were shocked to see the state that AJ was in. He looked like he could destroy the whole room in a minute’s time. All they could do was be there for him and wait for the next two hours to find out what had happened.
Alissa was in severe pain and she had no idea what was going on. She wasn’t sure where she was or why she was there. Afraid and in pain, she tried to curl up and protect herself but there were people all around poking and prodding her. Finally, the pain started to numb and she felt her body relax. She still had no idea what was going on and she seemed to slip off into unconsciousness for a bit.
Everyone jumped up when the doctor came out.
“What happened? How is she? Where is she? Can I see her?” AJ rambled on, not taking a breath.
The doctor shook his head. “Not yet. Are you family?”
Denise explained that AJ was the baby’s father and that Alissa’s cousin was out of town. They were the closest thing to family she had at the moment.
The doctor paused and then began to explain. “Ms. Emerson seems to have developed a severe case of toxemia. She needs…”
AJ cut him off. “What’s toxemia?”
“Toxemia is a dangerous medical condition that can harm the baby and the mother. Her blood pressure is extremely elevated and we needed to sedate her to see if we could bring it down.”
“Why didn’t someone see this earlier?” AJ asked angrily.
“Sometimes women can have very mild symptoms and they can usually mimic other things.”
“What’s going to happen?” Denise asked.
“Well, we’re going to have to keep her here for a few days. If we can get the symptoms under control, she will need to be on strict bed rest until the baby is born….”
“What happens if you can’t?”
“Then she will remain here and we will need to deliver the baby immediately.”
Everyone was stunned and no one spoke for a few minutes. Denise finally asked if they could see her and the doctor said that they would have to wait until the morning. She was being taken to a room and they needed to keep her calm.
“I am not leaving her here by herself!” AJ yelled. “She had no idea what was going on. If we leave her alone, what happens if she wakes up and panics? That’s not happening!”
The doctor looked at him sternly. “Well you definitely can’t stay. You are far too agitated and…”
AJ was about to yell again when Denise asked calmly if she could stay instead. She pleaded with the doctor to let her be there just in case.
The doctor went and spoke to the nurses. They agreed that Denise could stay but no one else would be allowed in. He then left to go check on Alissa.
“I’m not leaving!” AJ yelled.
Nick grabbed him by the shoulders. “Yes you are. Your mom is going to stay and keep an eye on Alissa. You can stay at my place tonight and she’ll call if anything changes or you need to come back.”
Denise nodded. “Honey, this isn’t the best place for you to be right now. You need to go back to Nick’s and try to sleep. Come back here in the morning and we’ll figure out what’s going on. I promise not to let her out of my sight.”
“No buts AJ.” his mother said firmly. “Go home and come back in the morning. I love you.”
Denise left with the nurse to go find Alissa. The guys had to drag AJ out of the hospital and into Nick’s car. Kevin would bring AJ’s truck to Nick’s and then catch a ride home with Brian.
They finally got AJ settled into Nick’s and the guys took off. AJ just sat on the couch staring off into space. His shoulders were slumped down and he looked like he hadn’t slept in months. Nick was afraid to say anything but he wanted him to know he was there. He pulled a chair over into AJ’s line of vision.
“Hey J. What do you need me to do? I’ll do whatever I can to help you.”
AJ sat there for a few minutes. “Can you turn back time?” His eyes stared to fill with tears.
Nick shook his head. “That’s one thing I can’t do J.”
AJ started to cry. “I fucked up so badly! I walked out on Alissa and my baby because of my stupid issues and dumbass reasons. I’ve spent months ignoring her and haven’t been there for anything. I could have lost both of them tonight!”
“But you didn’t J. They’re ok.”
“For now.” AJ said sadly.
“Take that and run with it. You have a second chance now to fix things and try to make up for all the shit you pulled. Not many people have that opportunity. Don’t screw it up again J.” Nick warned him.
AJ looked at him. “I won’t.” he promised.
Alissa awoke early the next morning and panicked because she didn’t know where she was. She tried to rip the tubes and wires off her but Denise grabbed her hands and pushed them down.
“Shhh sweetheart. Relax Alissa. You’ve got to calm down.”
The machines stared to beep and the nurse came rushing in.
“What’s going on?” Alissa yelled.
“Calm down honey.” the nurse said calmly. “You’re in the hospital.”
“My baby! Is my baby ok?” Alissa started to sob.
Denise climbed onto the bed and hugged her. “The baby’s fine but you need to calm down honey. All the stress is not good for him. You need to try and relax.” She brushed Alissa’s hair back from her face and rocked her slowly. After a few minutes, Alissa had calmed down enough to talk.
“What happened Denise?” she whispered.
“You have something called toxemia.”
Alissa face paled. “How could this happen? The doctor said I was fine.”
“Did he ever mention your blood pressure?”
Alissa thought for a minute. “I think he said it was a little higher than normal but he thought it was just the pregnancy.”
Denise sighed. “Apparently not. You might have had a mild case but it got much more severe quickly. The doctor said this happens.”
Denise waited. “Not very.”
Alissa closed her eyes and a tear slipped down her cheek. “Did I cause this?”
“No sweetheart, not at all! This happens and there really wasn’t anything you could do to prevent it.”
Alissa choked up a little. “What am I going to do?”
“Well, you need to be on bed rest if they let you out. When are Brooke and Lucas coming back?”
“Not for a while. Where am I going to go? I don’t want to stay here.” Alissa started to cry again.
“Oh sweetheart, we’ll figure something out.”
Denise didn’t mention that she already had an idea. She wanted Alissa to come stay with her but she wanted to tell AJ first. There was no doubt that he loved Alissa and would probably agree, but she needed to make sure before she made the offer.
Alissa’s eyes started to close. A few minutes later, she was asleep and Denise went off to call AJ.
AJ went straight to the hospital after getting off the phone with his mother. He had agreed that Alissa moving into Denise’s home was the best idea and he wanted to check on her. After picking up some roses, he drove over to the hospital and took the elevator to the third floor. It hit him after he stepped out that he had been there before when Adam had beaten her. His heart sank knowing that this time could have turned out worse and he hung his head as he walked down to her room.
His mother was coming out of her room and AJ rushed over.
“Is she ok?”
“She’s ok, resting for now.”
“Are they going to release her?”
“Not today. She has to have a good solid day or two without any blood pressure spikes in order to go home.” She paused for a minute. “Are you sure you’re ok with Alissa staying at the house with us? I know this has been incredibly hard for both of you.”
“It’s been harder on her. I made it harder on her. I should have taken care of her from the minute she told me. There is no other place that I want her to be. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make this ok.”
Denise looked into her son’s eyes and knew he meant exactly what he said. He had changed so much in the last few months and what he saw last night scared him to death. He was willing to do whatever it took to make this better for Alissa and his son.
“Can I go sit with her?”
“If you can promise not to startle her. She panicked when she woke up earlier and her blood pressure went up. If that continues, they won’t let her go home and they’ll deliver the baby now.”
“I promise I won’t disturb her.” AJ pleaded with his mother. He just wanted to get into the room with her and see for himself that she was ok.
“Alright. I’m going to get some coffee. Be quiet.” Denise kissed him on the cheek and headed down to the cafeteria.
AJ slipped through the door noiselessly and put the vase of flowers on the table by the bed. He sat down in the chair that his mother had pulled over to the bed, closed his eyes and said a silent prayer that Alissa would be ok. He heard a noise and when he opened his eyes, Alissa’s eyelids were fluttering. She started to cry out in her sleep and AJ reached out for her hand. The touch of something on her skin jerked Alissa out of her sleep and she freaked out when she saw AJ sitting by the bed. The monitors started beeping and the nurse came running in again.
“You need to wait outside while we calm her down!” the nurse ordered.
AJ left the room and slid down to the floor outside the door. It took a few minutes but the nurse finally came out and told AJ in no uncertain terms that if he upset Alissa again that he would have to leave. He promised not to and went back in to find Alissa curled into a ball on the bed.
“Hey.” was all he could say. He wanted to hold her and tell her how sorry he was but he knew that he couldn’t upset her and decided instead to sit in the chair farthest away from the bed.
“Hi.” Alissa said weakly.
“How are you feeling?”
AJ’s felt like he had been kicked in the gut.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
Alissa shook her head. “It wasn’t you. It’s everything.” Tears started to slide down her cheeks.
“Please don’t cry.”
He had just gotten up to move closer to her when Denise walked in. She saw her son’s face and Alissa’s tears.
“What happened?” she said rushing over to the bed.
“I woke up and you were gone. I looked over and saw AJ and I freaked out. I’m sorry.” Alissa said quietly.
She started crying again and AJ was devastated.
Denise held her and told her that she had asked AJ to come over.
“I spoke to the doctors and they won’t let you leave unless you have somewhere to stay and have constant supervision. I was hoping that you might agree to come stay at my house.”
“I can’t do that Denise. You work and I wouldn’t want you to worry.”
AJ cleared his throat. “Actually, I’ve been staying at my mom’s and I could stay with you.”
Alissa eyes got huge. “I don’t need you to do that. I can call Brooke and ask her to come back.”
“Brooke has a lot on her plate and we love you. We want you to come stay with us.” Denise pleaded her case.
“I can’t. I’m sorry. I’ll find some other way.”
“Why do you have to be so damn stubborn?” AJ said a little louder than he meant to.
“AJ, stop or I’m going to make you leave.” Denise hissed.
“I’m stubborn because I don’t want to stay in a house where someone hates me!” Alissa yelled at him. “I can’t get up every morning and face a person who doesn’t want me there.”
AJ was floored. It killed him that she felt this way but he could understand that everything he had done made it look like that. He turned to leave because he knew it wasn’t going to accomplish anything if he stayed. Looking at her quickly, he whispered “I don’t hate you.” and left.
Alissa was stunned. She was positive that he was still angry and didn’t understand the change in him. She looked at Denise with questions in her eyes.
Denise sighed. “He doesn’t hate you honey. He loves you.” She waited a few seconds for that to sink in. “Do you remember how you got here last night?”
Alissa shook her head no.
“You called my house and AJ answered the phone. He heard you screaming and he flew out of the house. He called the ambulance on his way and he found you on the floor in the living room. You were in so much pain.”
Alissa was shocked. She didn’t even remember making the call.
“He rode with you in the ambulance and waited in the lobby for hours. I have to tell you that I have never seen my son that scared. He was petrified that something was going to happen to you or the baby.”
“But he said he didn’t want this baby. That he didn’t want me.”
“He was wrong. Knowing him the way I do, he acted like a jackass but he has never stopped loving you. The situation scared him and he reacted poorly.”
“Why didn’t he say anything to me?”
“He doesn’t know what to say. He knows how badly he screwed up and he doesn’t know how to make something out of it.”
“I’m so sorry Denise. I thought he was being quiet because he was angry with me for this happening.”
“Never! He would never be angry with you for what happened. It wasn’t your fault.”
Alissa was exhausted. She didn’t know how to feel and she couldn’t process much more.
“Can I ask you a favor?”
“Can you check on AJ and make sure he’s ok?”
Denise teared up. “Of course. Do you want me to stay here for a while?”
“No, I’m tired and I just want to rest.” She paused. “You will come back though right?”
Denise smiled and nodded. “I’ll be here when you wake up.” She left to go find AJ and Alissa closed her eyes and tried to rest.
The doctors allowed Alissa to leave the hospital after a few days but she was given strict instructions to return if anything else happened. She was on total bed rest until the baby was born. Denise came by, picked her up and brought her back to their house.
AJ had spent the morning finishing up the other guest room for Alissa. He had actually spent the last few days painting and rearranging it while Denise visited with Alissa. His mom had gone to Brooke’s and picked up some things for her and he made sure everything was put away. He even left some roses in a vase on her night stand. As much as he wanted to be there when she came home, AJ had agreed to give the women some space to get settled in before he came back. He went over to Nick’s and waited for his mother to call and say it was ok for him to come back.
When the women got home, Denise walked Alissa upstairs and showed her where she would be staying. Her bedroom was between the bathroom and AJ’s room while Denise’s was down the hall. The door was closed and both women were shocked when they opened it.
AJ must have spent hours putting this together Denise thought. The room was painted light blue and the sun coming through the bay window made it sparkle. There was a king sized sleigh bed with white lace bedding and a beautiful bouquet of pink roses on the table. Alissa was astounded to see her clothes were put away and there were books and a TV on the dresser for her to watch.
Alissa knew right away that AJ had done all of this and was touched that he would go to that much trouble considering what had happened over the last few months. She believed Denise when she said he had changed and that he still loved her but she wasn’t ready to open her heart to him yet. Another heartache was more than she could handle.
Denise got her settled into bed and told her to try and get some rest. She fell asleep for a few hours and was just waking up when she heard a knock on her door. It opened and she saw AJ poke his head in.
“Hey. How are you feeling?”
“No more pain thought right?” he asked concerned.
“No, not at all. Thank you.”
AJ stood there for a few seconds. He really wanted to go in and stay for a bit but he didn’t want to rush her. They were all surprised that she had finally relented and agreed to stay with them. He didn’t want to drive any more wedges in between them.
“I’m going to run out and grab some stuff for dinner. Anything you’d like?”
Alissa smiled at him. “I’m fine with whatever you guys want. Please don’t go doing anything different because I’m here.”
“It’s not a problem, just tell me what you need.”
“I’m good AJ. I appreciate you asking.”
AJ shook his head. “You are so damn stubborn Liss……”
Both of them froze. They knew it had been months since he used her nickname. Alissa felt her heart ache. She had always loved that AJ called her that and it was something special between them.
AJ couldn’t believe that he had said that. He started to worry that it set them back to square one but was relieved when Alissa smiled at him again.
“I know I am.”
AJ grinned. “Alright. I’ll be back in a bit. If you need anything, just call my cell.”
Alissa looked confused. “Isn’t your mom downstairs?”
AJ paused. “She is but I want to know if you need anything ok.”
“Ok. Thanks AJ.”
“No problem. Try and get some more rest and I’ll wake you up for dinner.”
AJ closed the door softly and went downstairs. Alissa just sighed and curled up under the blankets. Denise said he still loved her but she could feel the distance between them. He just stood at the door when what she wanted was for him to just curl up next to her and hold her. Tears slid down her cheeks as she slipped off to sleep.
AJ got home and helped Denise make dinner. Denise smiled when he offered to bring Alissa something to eat. She knew he was dying to get back into that room with her.
“Why don’t you eat up there with her? I’m sure she’d like some company.”
“Are you sure? You’ll have to eat alone.”
Denise laughed. “I’m a big girl. I’ve done it before.”
AJ grabbed the tray, kissed his mother on the cheek and ran up the stairs. He knocked on Alissa’s door and when he didn’t hear anything, he went in quietly and put the tray on the dresser. She was so peaceful when she was sleeping but he was bothered by the tears tracks on her cheeks. He put his hand on her shoulder and shook her gently.
Alissa jumped a little and it took her a moment to remember where she was.
“Sorry Li…Alissa. I didn’t mean to scare you. I noticed you had been crying and I wanted to make sure you were ok.”
Alissa wiped at her eyes. “No it’s fine, I’m ok.” She saw the tray AJ had brought up and was surprised that there were two plates on it. AJ looked over and shrugged.
“I figured you might like some company. If you don’t, I can go back downstairs.”
“No, some company would be nice.”
AJ smiled and dragged the chair over to her bed and put the food in between them. Neither one of them spoke for a while. Alissa was playing with her food but she saw that as usual AJ could eat everything in sight. She laughed out loud thinking about it.
AJ looked up. “What’s so funny?”
The look on his face just made her laugh harder and before long she had tears running down her cheeks. It felt good to have tears that were filled with humor rather than sadness. It had been too long. A few minutes later, Alissa was able to control her laughter and smiled at AJ.
“Sorry, I was just remembering how much you like to eat.”
AJ gave her a look. “Wise ass. I bring you dinner and you laugh at me. Real nice.” He balled up his napkin and she thought he was mad and going to leave but he surprised her by throwing the napkin at her head.
“Hey!” Alissa yelled smacking him with a pillow. “Not nice throwing stuff at the pregnant lady.”
“You’re lucky you are or you’d be in deep trouble.” AJ smiled, teasing her. It was good to be able to sit here and talk to her even though it wasn’t quite the same as it used to be.
They finished eating and AJ got up to take the tray downstairs. As he headed for the door, Alissa called out to him.
“Do you think you could come back later and maybe watch some TV?”
AJ was surprised by her request. “Sure. Let me help my mom with the dishes and I’ll come back up.”
He closed the door and ran downstairs to do the dishes.
AJ arranged the chair and the TV so that he could sit next to Alissa while they watched a movie. They had decided that a comedy was the best choice and the two of them laughed for the next few hours. The movie was coming to a close when they both reached for the remote. His hand landed on top of hers and both were surprised that the other one didn’t pull their hand back. AJ let his hand rest there for a few seconds before he lifted it.
“Sorry.” he whispered.
“There’s nothing to be sorry for.”
AJ glanced over at her. “Ok.” He stood up, pushed the chair back and stretched. “I think I’m going to head off to bed. Do you need anything before I go?”
Alissa looked into his eyes. “Can I ask a favor?”
“Anything.” AJ said eagerly.
“Would you mind just staying in here until I fall asleep?”
“Not at all.” AJ pulled the chair back over to the bed. “Mind if I put my feet up?”
Alissa smiled. “No.”
AJ settled into the chair and Alissa lay down and pulled the covers over her. After a few minutes, her breathing started to slow and AJ thought she had fallen asleep. He was about to get up when he saw her hand inch over to the edge of the bed. Not sure what she wanted, he put his hand up next to hers. He was shocked when she nestled her hand into his and fell asleep.
He held her hand tightly and decided to spend the night in the chair. He wanted so much more but was willing to take whatever she was offering.
Alissa awoke in the middle of the night. Being pregnant meant she was going to make it more than a few hours before the baby made her get up. She noticed that her hand felt heavy and when she looked down, she saw that AJ had his hand intertwined with hers. He was sound asleep in the chair and he looked so uncomfortable.
She slowly pulled her hand out of his and climbed out of bed. After her trip to the bathroom, she pulled a blanket off the bed and draped it over AJ. He always made the cutest faces when he slept and it made her smile. She was just about to lean over and kiss his cheek when he opened his eyes.
“Ah!” he said almost knocking her over.
She started laughing and had to sit down on the bed. “Sorry AJ. You looked so cute.”
AJ stared at her.
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you up. I thought you might be cold.”
“Did you want to warm be up by scaring me to death?” he said as he started laughing.
Alissa hit him in the arm. “No, I was just trying to get the blanket over you.”
There was no way she was going to tell him that she almost kissed him. She still needed to keep some distance between them but she had to admit it was hard being close to him all the time.
“Why don’t you go back to your room and sleep? You looked really sore in the chair.”
AJ shook his head. “No the chair’s fine. It’s pretty comfortable.” he lied as he cracked his neck.
Alissa giggled. “Oh yeah, very comfortable. Go sleep in your bed before you wind up needing a chiropractor.”
“Are you sure? I can stay in here till you fall asleep again?”
“Actually, the baby seems to have decided that it’s time for me to wake up for a bit. He’s been kicking like crazy. See..”
Without thinking, she grabbed his hand and placed it over her stomach. The baby was kicking up a storm and AJ was amazed at feeling his son kick his hand. He looked up and met Alissa’s eyes.
Alissa dropped her hand. “I’m sorry AJ. I wasn’t thinking. I didn’t mean to….”
“That’s incredible!” he said with a grin on his face. “I think our son is going to be a soccer player.”
Alissa eyes got huge. It was the first time AJ had referred to the baby as their son and it shocked her.
Seeing her face, AJ got concerned. “Are you ok?”
It took her a minute to recover. “No, I’m ok. It’s just…” She stopped talking.
“It’s just what?” he asked.
Tears crept into her eyes. “You’ve never referred to the baby as our son and it kind of caught me off guard.”
AJ had never been as sorry in his life as he was in that moment.
“I’m sorry that I was such a jackass Liss.” He used her nickname not caring if it was too much. “I promise that from now on, we’ll do this together. He’s our son and I plan on being the best dad I can be.”
Alissa wiped the tears from her eyes.
“You do believe me right?”
She nodded. “I do.”
Not wanting to push the issue any more tonight, he got up and stretched.
“I’m going to try and sleep for a little bit but I’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Ok.” she said as she lay back down on the bed. AJ pulled the covers over her and leaned down to kiss her on the forehead.
He left and headed back to his room. If he had it his way, he would have crawled into bed next to her and stayed all night.
AJ woke up early and made breakfast for Alissa and himself. When he brought it up to her, he found her sitting in the chair by the window.
“Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”
Alissa jumped a little as she snapped back into reality.
“Sorry AJ but I can’t spend every waking minute in bed. I’ll lie down again in a little while but I just want to sit her and enjoy the view for a bit.”
“Mind some company?”
Alissa was shocked. “You’re not going to argue with me about the bed?”
AJ sighed. “Would it change your mind if I did?”
“No, it wouldn’t.” she said and smiled.
“Didn’t think so. You are the most stubborn woman I think I have ever met.” He grinned at her.
“Thanks. That’s a compliment coming from the most stubborn man on the planet. I guess that’s why we make such a good pair.”
AJ felt his heart soar. He smiled and sat down across from her on the window seat. He reached out for her hand and she gave it to him.
“We really do make a good pair Liss.”
She smiled back and he leaned towards her. He was just about to kiss her when his mom came in.
“Good morning you two.” She smiled and noticed how close they were sitting. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb you. I’ll be downstairs if you need anything.”
She backed out quietly and closed the door. Alissa and AJ both started laughing.
“I feel like I just got caught with my hand in the cookie jar.” AJ said.
“Mmmm.. cookies…” Alissa said smiling.
“Seriously? You want cookies right now?”
She looked at his sheepishly. “Maybe? It’s one of those pregnancy things.”
He smiled. “Alright. I’ll go get you some. Be back in a little while.”
He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. “Call me if you need anything ok?”
He started to leave but she suddenly grabbed his hand. It didn’t matter anymore and if she was making a mistake, let it be a mistake. She pulled him down next to her, cupped his face in her hands and kissed him lightly.
AJ was so surprised that he didn’t even know what to do. He pulled back and looked her in the eyes. The way her eyes shined at him made him see that she loved him just as much as she did before. He was so grateful for that and he kissed her back fiercely.
“As soon as I get back, we’re going to talk lady!” he said and kissed her again. He ran downstairs and out to his truck. This was going to be the fastest trip to the store he had ever made.
AJ made it back in record time and hurried up the stairs. He found Alissa sitting back on the bed reading a book.
“Uh-uh. No way you’re reading. We need to talk!”
He thumped down next to her on the bed and grabbed the book out of her hand, tossing it across the room.
“Really AJ? You could have just asked.” she said with a smile.
He leaned over and kissed her deeply. She kissed him back with just as much force.
“I’ve missed that so much.” AJ said quietly.
Alissa grinned. “Me too.”
AJ started to kiss her again but she held up her hand.
“I thought you wanted to talk.” she teased him.
“Get that hand out of my way woman!” he yelled, wrapping his arms around her tightly and kissing her passionately.
“AJ?” she said softly.
“I can’t breathe.” she said giggling.
He laughed, stood up on the bed and moved so that he was behind her.
“Are you crazy? What are you doing?”
“Making this a little more comfortable.” he said and slid down onto the bed. He made sure she was sitting between his legs and he wrapped his arms around her again.
Alissa smiled, turned herself sideways and lay her head down on his shoulder. They were both quiet for a few minutes before he heard her cry softly.
“What’s wrong Liss?” he asked pushing her chin up so that he could look her in the eyes.
She shook her head. “Nothing.”
“Come on Liss. I’m not buying that. What’s the matter?”
Tears slid down her cheeks. “I always felt so safe with you and I’ve missed it. I’ve missed the way you make me feel. I miss you, I miss us.”
She started to cry harder and it broke his heart. He didn’t know what else to do but hold her and let her cry. Wrapping his arms around her tighter, he rocked her and whispered that it would be ok.
A little while later, Alissa started sniffling and wiped the tears off her cheeks.
“I’m sorry AJ. I don’t mean to cry like that. I think it’s a pregnancy thing.”
“No, it’s not.” he said quietly. “It’s an AJ is a jackass thing.”
“No, it’s not AJ. It’s….”
“Stop Liss. It is a jackass thing. You would never have missed us if I didn’t screw everything up. I have missed out on months with you and with the baby and there is no way I’m going to be able to make up for all that.”
“You already have.” she whispered quietly.
AJ was stunned. “Exactly how did I do that?”
“You saved my life and our son’s life. If you hadn’t come over when I called, we wouldn’t have made it AJ. You’ve already made it up to us as far as I’m concerned.”
Alissa looked AJ right in the eye. “I know this is a really difficult situation but I want you to know that I appreciate everything you’ve done.”
Alissa shook her head. “No more AJ. We can go around and around about this whole situation but it’s not going to change what’s already happened.”
He paused for a minute. He knew what he needed to say and he had to get it out. “Alright but I need to say one more thing ok?”
He looked in her eyes and the words came tumbling out.
“Liss, I love you. You’re the only woman I want to say that to. I know I walked away but I regretted it every single day. You made me happier than I had ever been and I missed you more than I can tell you. Please believe me when I say that I will never, ever do that again. No matter how hard things get or what happens, I will never walk away and leave you alone again. I promise you that Liss.”
“I love you too AJ.” she said and smiled at him.
He leaned in and kissed her gently. Things were back to being good for them and he was determined to make sure it stayed that way.
AJ went down to the kitchen a few hours later to start dinner. Alissa had fallen asleep and he wanted to make sure everything was done so they could just relax together. He was so preoccupied looking in the cabinets that he didn’t hear his mother come in.
AJ jumped about 5 feet in the air.
Denise laughed. “Sorry honey, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“A little head’s up might be nice!”
“I’ll try to make a bunch of noise next time.”
Denise looked around the kitchen and saw pots, pans and bowls all over the counter.
“Exactly what are you doing?”
AJ looked around at the mess and then back at his mother with a frown.
“I wanted to make dinner.”
“I’d say you made a mess instead. Why don’t you let me make something and you can keep me company?”
“Sounds good.” he said and kissed his mother on the cheek. “How was work?”
“Good.” His mother replied as she put away all the stuff AJ had dug out. “How was your day?”
Denise looked over and saw a huge smile on her son’s face.
“Really? Does it have something to do with what I walked in on this morning?” she teased him.
AJ blushed. “Yes it does. Alissa said she loves me.”
“Of course she does!” Denise said laughing. “Did you two really think that you were that good at acting like this relationship didn’t matter or that you were over it?”
“What do you mean?”
Denise sighed. “AJ, you and Alissa have loved each other for a while. It was just a matter of time.”
AJ look confused.
“Everyone knows that you two are meant for each other and there was going to come a day where you both figured that out. We just didn’t think we’d have to wait this long!”
AJ shrugged his shoulders. “We’re both stubborn I guess.”
“Stubborn is an understatement! I have never met two people as obstinate as both of you.”
“I wonder where I get that from Ma?”
Denise threw a towel at him. “Why don’t you just be quiet and make a salad?”
“Ok, ok! I give!”
He started to grab a bowl and went and hugged his mother instead.
“What’s that for?”
“For being a terrific mother and for putting up with me.”
Denise smiled. “I love you AJ and I couldn’t ask for a better son.” She paused. “Make sure you don’t lose her again ok?”
“I won’t, I promise.”
AJ brought dinner upstairs and found Alissa still asleep. He didn’t want to wake her up but he knew she needed to eat something. Leaning over, he whispered her name into her ear and brushed his lips across her cheek.
Alissa smiled. “If I pretend I’m still asleep, would you do that again?”
AJ laughed and repeated it.
She opened her eyes and saw him standing there with a smile on his face.
“I’ve really missed that smile.” she said sitting up on the bed.
“Well, it’s yours any time you want it Liss.”
He leaned over and kissed her gently.
“Good, I’m going to hold you to that!”
They finished eating and curled up together on the bed to watch a movie. A few minutes into it, Alissa started to yawn.
“Am I boring you?” AJ teased.
She swatted him. “No, I’m probably more tired than I thought that’s all.”
“Why don’t you get some sleep then?”
He stood up and walked over to the door.
Alissa looked at him startled. “Are you leaving?”
“Just to get changed.” he said grinning. “I’ll be back in two minutes.”
He was back about a minute later and crawled into bed next to her. Alissa put her back up against his chest and he wrapped his arms around her. They were both asleep in minutes.
Alissa awoke the next morning to an empty bed. She thought she had dreamed up last night till she saw the note and flowers on the bedside table.
I ran out to get a few things. You might want to get your lazy butt out of bed for a little bit today. You’re going to have some company!
Seriously AJ? She thought to herself. Who one earth was coming over? She felt like a house and really didn’t want any company. Walking to the bathroom, she paused to look at herself in the mirror. Wow, her reflection wasn’t pretty. She decided to shower and put on a cute sundress that looked good on her. Thankfully, it was roomy enough for the baby.
After puttering around the room for a little bit, she decided to head downstairs. She managed to make it downstairs and outside to the lounger before she felt the tiredness set in. Sitting down, she lay back and tried to enjoy being out in the sun for a bit.
AJ got home and went upstairs to check on Alissa. He walked into the room and it was completely empty. He started panicking and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Heading into the living room, he passed the slider and noticed she was sitting on the lounger outside.
“Have you completely lost your mind?” he yelled running over to her.
“God, you scared the crap out of me! No I haven’t lost my mind!”
“Why the hell are you out here?”
“You told me to get my lazy butt out of bed and that we were having company.”
“I didn’t mean it literally!”
“Well, I guess you’ll just have to be clearer next time.” She paused. “Why are you so upset?”
AJ dropped down onto the lounger next to her and reached for her hand. “Anything could have happened. You haven’t been out of bed in a few days. What if you fell or something else? You should have waited for me to get home if you wanted to get up.”
Alissa squeezed his hand. “You’re right, I have been in bed for days. And it’s driving me insane! I can’t just sit around and do nothing. It’s not like me.”
AJ frowned. “But the doctor said strict bed rest…”
“I know exactly what he said. I still need to move around some though.”
She saw the concern in his eyes and felt bad for not waiting for him.
“I promise no more moving around without you being around ok?”
“Good! I just really think…”
Alissa leaned over and kissed him gently. AJ pulled back slowly.
“You know you can’t just kiss me every time you want me to be quiet…”
She kissed him again with more force this time. Bringing her hand up to his face, she cupped his chin and brought his eyes in direct focus with hers. “Yes I can.” she said and smiled.
AJ grinned and lay back on the lounger drawing her in close.
“I may have to start talking more just to get……”
Alissa giggled and put her finger up to his lips. “You’re pushing it buddy!” She kissed him again and buried her head in his shoulder. They lay there for a little while until they head the doorbell ring.
AJ jumped up and ran to get it. He came back into the yard followed by all the guys, the wives and the kids.
“Surprise!” everyone yelled.
Alissa’s face broke into a grin. It had been a long time since she had seen any of them and she missed them. She had to admit that it was great having them and she was determined to enjoy her brief stint away from a bed.
Alissa was exhausted after the party and AJ helped her upstairs. When he got her settled, he went back down to help his mom clean up.
“How is she?” Denise asked her son.
“Tired but happy that she got to see everyone. I don’t think she thought it would take this much out of her. And on top of it she was still fighting to stay awake just now. She’s so damn stubborn!”
Denise chuckled. “Take a look in the mirror sweetheart. You two are so much alike.”
“Thanks Ma!” He kissed her on the cheek and started doing the dishes while his mother packed up the food.
AJ headed back upstairs after talking to his mother for a while. He found Alissa sound asleep and curled up into a ball. After changing, he pulled the covers back lightly, crawled in and pulled her over to him. He was just wrapping his arms around her when she stirred.
“I was wondering what was taking you so long.” she said, half asleep.
AJ laughed. “Sure you were. The snoring made that obvious.”
Alissa smiled and playfully elbowed him.
“Hey watch it!” He pulled her closer. “There, now you have no elbow room!”
Alissa laughed. “So not fair.” she said and yawned.
AJ ran his hand up her arm. “Time for you to get some sleep.”
She yawned again and curled up against him. He stroked her hair knowing that would help her to fall asleep.
“I love you Liss.” he whispered in her ear.
“I love you too AJ.” she murmured back.
Alissa was awoken a few hours later by an intense pain in her abdomen. She remembered feeling like this the night AJ came to help her and she shook him and cried out in pain.
AJ woke up instantly. He saw the look on Alissa’s face and knew she was in a tremendous amount of pain.
“Hold on Liss! I’m calling the hospital now.”
He jumped up, called 911 and ran to get his mother. They both raced back to the room and Denise asked AJ if he called the hospital.
“I already did. The ambulance should be here any minute.”
Alissa howled in pain again and AJ had to hold back tears while he held her.
“Shhh….I’m right here. I’m not going to let anything happen to you Liss.”
“It hurts so bad!” Alissa yelped and another pain hit her.
AJ was about to call for the ambulance again when they heard the front doorbell ring. Denise ran downstairs and let the paramedics in.
It only took them a few minutes to get Alissa onto the gurney and strapped in. They loaded her into the ambulance and AJ begged them to let him stay with her. The EMT agreed and Denise told them that she would follow in her car.
The ride to the hospital only took 5 minutes but it seemed like an eternity to AJ. He watched Alissa cry out in pain again and he gave her his hand to squeeze.
“It’s ok Liss. We’re going to the hospital. It’ll be ok.”
Alissa wanted to believe him but she could see the fear on his face.
“Please don’t let anything happen to my baby!” she pleaded with the EMT.
They arrived at the hospital before AJ could ask how much longer it would be and they got Alissa into the maternity wing as fast as they could. The doctor decided to let AJ remain with Alissa and he asked his mother to wait in the lobby. Denise agreed and she went to call the guys and let them know what was going on.
Howie and Nick were the first to show up at the hospital.
“What happened?” Howie asked hugging Denise. “We just saw you guys a few hours ago.”
“Is she ok?” Nick asked with a tremble in his voice.
Denise shook her head and sat down. “I don’t know. She was in so much pain and no one has come out to tell me anything.”
She started to cry quietly. AJ was her son and Alissa had become like a daughter to her. It killed her to see them in so much pain.
Howie sat down next to Denise and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. He motioned for Nick to go talk to the nurse to see if there was any information. Nick was halfway to the nurse’s station when AJ came through the emergency room doors.
Denise jumped up and raced over to her son. “How is she?”
AJ stumbled over his words. “She’s getting prepped for surgery. The baby is coming now and her blood pressure is too high. They are going to do a C-section to get the baby out. I have to get back in there!”
He squeezed his mother’s hand and ran back through the doors.
No one knew what to say and the three of them were still standing there when Brian and Kevin came through the lobby doors. Howie got Denise settled in a chair again while Nick took the other guys outside and filled them in.
AJ raced back to be with Alissa. He wanted his mother to know what was going on and he was glad he had an opportunity to tell her before they brought Alissa in for surgery. The nurse helped him clean up and put on scrubs so that he could be in the room while the doctor performed the C-section.
Alissa was wheeled in and AJ was told to sit by her head on the right hand side. She grabbed his hand and he assured her that everything would be fine. He stroked her head and whispered how much he loved her over and over into her ear.
The doctor explained to them what he would be doing and then asked the nurse to help him. Twenty minutes later, AJ and Alissa heard the first cries of their baby boy. They wanted to see him but the nurse needed to clean him up and check him over. AJ stayed with Alissa while the doctor finished the procedure and then the nurse brought the baby over and laid him on Alissa’s chest.
AJ thought his son was the most beautiful little person on the planet and he grinned at Alissa. She smiled back and told AJ how much she loved him. The nurse asked AJ if he wanted to hold his son and he was standing up with the baby in his arms when he heard an alarm bell going off. He looked around and saw that it was Alissa’s blood pressure monitor. The nurse whisked the baby away and he dropped down next to Alissa. Her eyes had started rolling back into her head and she was going into convulsions.
One of the nurses had to drag AJ out of the room so that the doctor and the assistant could try to care for Alissa. He had never been so terrified in his life and he tried desperately to get back into the OR. Several orderlies had to restrain him and just as he was about to get loose, he heard the heart monitor go from a beeping noise to one flat sound. There was only one thing that would make the monitor do that.
AJ dropped to the ground on his hands and knees. The most wonderful moment in his life had turned into his worst nightmare. Alissa was gone again and this time, he knew she wasn’t coming back.
Alissa felt the convulsions start and heard all the machines go off. Her brain started to get foggy and she lost consciousness.
Two of the orderlies were able to get AJ into the private waiting room and one of the nurses went to get Denise.
AJ was still sitting on the ground when he saw his mother and the guys come through the doors. The looks on their faces were like stabs to his heart. His world had been shattered and he had no idea what to say.
Denise walked over to him and sat down. She wrapped her arms around her son and he started sobbing uncontrollably. Howie went and sat next to him on the other side, putting his hand on his shoulder. It felt like a hole had been ripped through all their hearts and no one had any words. Nick and Brian were openly crying and Kevin had to turn away to hide his tears. As he turned back to face AJ, he noticed the doctor had slipped into the room quietly.
“Mr. McLean?” the doctor asked quietly. “Can I speak to you for a moment?”
AJ just stared at him. He nodded but couldn’t move from his spot on the floor.
“It might be better for us to speak in private.”
AJ shook his head. “No, there isn’t much more to say. Whatever you need to tell me, just get it over with.” he said choking up.
The doctor hung his head. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. Ms. Emerson suffered another bout of toxemia. It stopped her heart and….”
AJ put his hand up and started to sob again. “I know. She didn’t make it.” He put his head in his hands and Howie put his arm around him.
“Not exactly.” the doctor said.
Kevin’s head jerked up. “What do you mean ‘not exactly’?”
Everyone’s eyes, including AJ’s, were now set on the doctor.
“Her heart did give out, but we were able to bring her back…..
Denise gasped. “She made it?” she asked, hoping for her son’s sake that it had just been a nightmare.
“We were able to bring her back but she’s in a coma.”
“When will she wake up?” Nick asked.
The doctor shook his head. “I don’t know. She had a very serious attack and it put a large amount of strain on her heart.”
“Will she wake up?” AJ asked quietly, not knowing whether he really wanted an answer to his question.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I wish I could tell you differently but a person’s body works in ways we can’t always understand.”
AJ let the doctor’s words sink in for a few moments. “Can I at least see her?”
“Give me some time to move her to a room and I’ll have the nurse come back and get you.” The doctor started to walk away but then turned around. “I’m really sorry Mr. McLean. I really wish I had better news.”
The doctor left and everyone just sat there for a while. They were happy that Alissa had made it but no one wanted to think about her not waking up. It would be more than AJ could bear if he had to say goodbye again. Everybody looked at the door when a nurse came into the room.
AJ got up from the floor. “That’s me.” he said quietly. “Can I see her now?”
“Excuse me?” the nurse asked confused. “Her? I’m sorry. I thought that you had a little boy.”
Reality smacked him in the face. AJ had been so absorbed with what happened to Alissa that he put the baby at the back of his mind. He could barely keep himself together and he had no idea how he was going to be good for any baby.
“Where is my grandson?” Denise asked calmly, knowing that she needed to help AJ deal with the whole situation.
“He’s in the nursery. We needed to check if Mr. McLean wanted to come see him for a little while before we take him up to see Ms. Emerson.”
AJ didn’t move. His feet were frozen to the ground.
The nurse waited for a few moments. “I can bring him down here if you’d like me to.”
AJ looked up gratefully. “Please.” was all he could manage.
The nurse left and appeared again a few minutes later. She brought the little baby over and handed him to AJ. Everyone gathered around the baby and watched as he gripped his dad’s little finger.
The moment his son placed his tiny finger around his larger one, AJ felt his heart wrench. He wanted Alissa to be there for this moment. This beautiful little baby was theirs and it killed him not to have her here. He looked down at his son and he saw Alissa’s eyes staring back at him. She had to be ok, she had to wake up.
AJ spent the next hour with his son while the doctor and nurses got Alissa settled in a room. He couldn’t believe that one moment could be the best and the worst at the same time. All he wanted was for Alissa to wake up and come back to him.
Everyone had stayed with AJ and the baby, waiting for word about Alissa. The guys had taken turns sitting with AJ and pacing around. All the wives had been called and they had agreed to take shifts at the hospital. Leigh was the first one to be there.
After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor showed up to take AJ to Alissa. The baby could go back to the nursery and get some sleep and AJ told everyone else to do the same.
“No way J! We’re staying here until we she wakes up!” Nick exclaimed.
AJ shook his head. “You heard what the doctor said Nicky. No one knows when she’s going to wake up….” He trailed off knowing that he would start crying again if he had to think that she might not ever wake up.
“I’m not leaving.” Denise said forcefully. “I can sleep here in the waiting room but I am not going anywhere.”
“No AJ. I am not leaving you here by yourself.”
AJ turned towards the doctor. “Can my mother come with me?”
The doctor thought about it for a minute. “I guess it won’t make much of a difference but I have to put my foot down about anyone else staying.”
“But we want…”
AJ put his hand on Nick’s shoulder. “I love you guys, you’re my family, but I have to spend some time with her. You can’t stay here all night and I promise to have my mom call you with any news, ok?”
“Are you sure?” Howie asked.
AJ nodded. He hugged everyone and left with his mother and the doctor to see Alissa.
No one made a move to leave. Leigh finally asked the guys to explain what had happened exactly and she was horrified.
“I thought the doctors sent her home because she was ok.” Leigh said with tears in her eyes.
“I guess it can go away and return around the time of labor. It’s really hard to understand.” Brian said.
Leigh wiped at her eyes. “She is going to wake up right?”
Kevin shrugged his shoulders. “None of us know. From what J said, it was really bad. She actually flat lined in the OR. We originally thought the doctor had come out to tell J she didn’t make it.”
“She has to make it.” Nick said quietly. “For J’s sake, she has to be ok.”
The doctor led AJ and Denise back to the room where they had put Alissa. AJ was shocked at the sight of Alissa and Denise had to choke back tears. She looked so small in the bed. There were machines everywhere and she had tubes running all over her body. They had to put her on a respirator because she was unable to breathe for herself at the moment.
AJ stared at the heart monitor as he pulled a chair over to the bed. There was a heartbeat but it was so faint that it was barely registering. He sat down and covered her hand with his.
“Can she hear me?” he asked the doctor quietly.
“To be honest, we don’t know. Some people believe that it works and some don’t. It’s really what you believe in Mr. McLean. I believe that it can’t do any harm.”
AJ nodded. The doctor left and he asked his mother to give him some time with Alissa.
“Alright sweetheart. I’ll go get some coffee for us.” She left, pulling the door shut behind her.
The tears fell from AJ’s eyes. He had been trying to keep it together for everyone and he just couldn’t take it anymore. He lay his head down on her hand and continued sobbing. It took a little while for the sobs to subside enough for him to even think straight. He pulled the chair closer to the bed and he squeezed her hand tightly.
“I don’t know whether you can hear me or not Liss, but I need you to come back to me. I can’t do this on my own. I’ve lost you too many times already and I can’t bear for this to be the last time.”
He kissed her hand and started praying.
“God, I’ve messed up a lot but I have turned my life around. I found a woman I love more than anything and we have a son now. I will give whatever it takes to keep her here with me. Please help her and help me. She needs to come back. I won’t have a life without her.”
He started sobbing again and after a while, he fell asleep from all the exhaustion. Denise found him there when she came back and her heart broke again. She had a son and a grandson that desperately needed the woman lying in the bed. Denise sat down in the chair and started her own prayer.
AJ spent the next week at the hospital going back and forth between the nursery and Alissa’s room. The doctor agreed to let the baby stay for another few days to be around his parents but told AJ that the baby would need to head home soon.
Everyone took turns staying with Alissa while he visited his son and they had finally gotten him to leave to shower and sleep at his house. Denise promised to stay with the baby and Leigh told him that she wouldn’t leave Alissa’s side. Nick went with him so that he could drive J back when he was done.
Leighanne came by the hospital to check on Alissa and the baby and found Denise in the nursery. She hugged the older woman and asked if it would be ok to see the baby.
“Of course.” Denise said. She placed the baby in Leighanne’s arms. “Meet little James Alexander McLean.”
Leighanne smiled. She remembered how Alissa wanted him to be Alexander James Jr., but after enough prodding from AJ, had finally agreed to switch the names.
“He has her eyes and definitely has AJ’s smile.”
Denise smiled. “He just as stubborn and feisty.” She paused for a minute. “He really is the best of both of them.”
Tears formed in the corner of Leighanne’s eyes. “I’m sorry Denise. I know how hard this has been on everyone especially J.”
Denise nodded. “He isn’t the same without her. He’s trying to hold it together for James but even the baby can’t bring back the man he used to be. It’s like he’s broken inside. I honestly don’t know how much longer he can take it.”
AJ tried to get some sleep back at his mother’s house but it just wasn’t going to happen. There was no way he was going to sleep in his room and the couch wasn’t very comfortable. He decided to call Brooke again to give her an update. She had wanted to come back home but there was nothing she could do and Lucas was so busy with his mother that Anne needed her constant attention.
“Is there any change AJ?” Brooke asked sadly.
“None. She hasn’t even stirred.”
“Are you sure you don’t want me to come back?”
“No Brooke. There’s nothing you can do here.”
“AJ, I know we’ve had our differences but I will do whatever I can for you both. She’s my cousin and she loves you. I want to be there for you too.”
“Thank you Brooke but Anne needs you and so does Lucas. I promise to call you as soon as I know anything else.”
They said their goodbyes and AJ hung up the phone. Nick had just come back from getting them something to eat and saw the phone in J’s hand.
“Did the hospital call? Is everything ok?” Nick said almost spilling the food.
AJ shook his head no. “I called Brooke to let her know there was no change.”
He sat down at the table and just stared at the phone.
Nick sat down across from him and tried to get him to eat something. AJ refused and just sat there in silence. Nick knew all he really wanted was for the phone to ring and it to be Alissa’s voice at the other end of the line.
AJ made Nick bring him back to the hospital after not being able to sleep or eat. He made a beeline for Alissa’s room and when he found out there had been no change, he went to see James in the nursery. Leighanne and Denise were both sitting there talking and holding the baby.
“How is he?” AJ asked quietly not wanting to disturb his son’s sleep.
“He’s good. The doctor was in again and reminded me that he would have to go home soon.” Denise responded.
“I can’t stay with Alissa and take care of him if they’re in two different places.” AJ said irritated.
Leighanne got up and excused herself. AJ took her place next to Denise and ran his finger over his son’s tiny hand.
Denise sighed and knew she couldn’t continue to skate around what needed to be discussed.
“AJ, honey, you’re going to have to go home with James. There isn’t …….”
AJ looked at his mother angrily. “Don’t tell me that there’s nothing I can do to help Alissa. She needs me too. I’m not going to leave her here!”
“What are you doing for her right now?” she asked sharply. After taking a deep breath she started again. “Honey, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to make this harder on you. I just don’t know what else to do.”
AJ felt bad snapping at his mother. “I know but I won’t leave either one of them. There has to be another way.”
Denise waited for a minute. “I might have an idea.”
The doctor listened as Denise described a solution to the problem. AJ wanted to buy a home that he had been looking at and they wanted to know whether Alissa could be moved out of the hospital to the new house.
“How are you planning to take care of her there? She needs constant, around the clock care.”
“I have enough money to hire nurses who can take care of her. I will hire whoever you think is best and as many as I need to make this happen. You told me that my son has to go home and I’m not leaving without Alissa!” AJ snapped.
“I don’t think this is the best idea…”
“Look, you said there isn’t much you can do for her here other than to watch her for changes. I know your nurses are overworked and I can hire nurses that can just watch over Alissa. She’d had 24-hour care. If so much as one machine goes off, I will call 911 immediately and have her rushed here.”
The doctor started to say something but AJ cut him off.
“Please let me do this.” AJ begged. “I know my son needs to go home but I need to be with her too. This is the only way I can think of to make this work.”
The doctor thought about it for a few minutes and then reluctantly agreed to AJ’s request. He gave him the names and phone numbers of some nurses that did this type of work and signed off on it.
“When are you planning to move her?”
“I am going to call the realtor now. She will have things done by tomorrow and I’ll have everything set up over the next few days. At most, I’ll need four days.”
AJ jumped up and ran out of the room to call the realtor. She told him that it should be no problem since the house was already empty and he was offering to pay well above the asking price. Then he called the guys and told them what he had planned. They agreed to meet him in the morning to start putting things into place.
Exactly four days later, AJ brought Alissa home. The guys had worked long hours putting the house together and there was enough room for everyone. It was a two story home on three acres and it backed up to the ocean. There were five bedrooms, one for Alissa, one for James, one for AJ to stay in and another two for the caregivers. He had an office and a studio in the basement and there was a large pool in the backyard. The first floor was laid out in an open floor plan and you could see all the rooms from one vantage point.
AJ made sure he set up her bedroom just as it was at his mother’s house. He painted it the same color blue and had a new sleigh bed put it. She had the room with the most beautiful view of the ocean and he put in a window seat like the one she had once pointed out to him. Nobody wanted to tell him that she couldn’t take advantage of the view; they didn’t want to hurt him anymore than he already was.
The paramedics brought her in and he had hired 4 nurses in two shifts to be around her at all times. His mother had agreed to use one of the spare rooms in the basement as a bedroom so that she could stay with him whenever he needed it. He was determined to make this work for everyone.
Two Months Later:
AJ carried James downstairs to see his aunt Brooke who was home for a few days to visit. Lucas’ mom was getting better so he was able to watch Anne and Brooke could leave to see Alissa.
“Oh my God AJ! He’s beautiful!” Brooke cried when she saw her nephew. AJ smiled and watched as James gripped one of her fingers.
“He is. He’s such a good baby.” AJ said tickling his son and loving the smile that broke out over his face.
Brooke paused for a minute. “Any change?”
AJ shook his head.
“Nothing at all?”
“Nothing. The machines haven’t changed and neither has her heartbeat.”
“I have to ask you this point blank. Is she going to be ok?”
“I have no idea. The doctor doesn’t know, the nurses don’t know, I don’t know. I’ve been waiting for something, anything, any sign of hope.”
Brooke sat down on the couch with her nephew. “I can’t believe this is happening. You two were finally back where you needed to be and now this. She loves you AJ and it meant the world to her that you were there for her and you wanted to be part of her life and your son’s life.”
Tears formed in AJ’s eyes. “I shouldn’t have taken so long to figure out that I was a jackass. Maybe this wouldn’t have happened if I was around earlier.”
“No AJ. Things would still be the same. No one could have prevented this from happening.”
“My head knows that but my heart doesn’t get it.” he said shaking his head.
“I’m really sorry AJ. Do you want me to watch James for a little while so you can get some rest?”
“I’m not tired.” He paused for a minute. “Would you mind watching him while I sit with her for a while? I don’t think my mom will be back very soon and I haven’t been in there very much today.”
“Of course! Just tell me where his stuff is and I will take care of him for as long as you need.”
AJ thanked Brooke, showed her where everything was and headed upstairs to sit with Alissa for a couple of hours. He smiled at the nurse who was checking on her and pulled the chair over to her bedside. Sitting down, he took her hand and held it tightly.
“Hi Liss, it’s me.” AJ chuckled for a minute. “You’re probably saying who else would it be dumbass. Your cousin is here and she’s watching James for me so I can spend a little time with you by myself. Mom will be back in a little while and I know she’ll want to see you too. I wanted to get some time alone with you before everyone came up.” He waited a few minutes. “I love you Liss, more than anything in my life. I wish you would just come back. I need you, James needs you, we all need you. Please try Liss, please.”
He laid his head back on the chair and just watched her lying there. This feeling of helplessness wasn’t going away and he struggled with it every day. Closing his eyes, he tried to doze off for a little while.
It was a few minutes later when he jerked awake after feeling like something was crawling on his hand. When he looked down, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Alissa’s index finger was slowly moving up and down. He ran out of the room yelling for one of the nurses. Denise had been in the living room with Brooke and they both raced up stairs.
“Her finger moved!” AJ yelled. “Her finger moved up and down!”
“AJ, calm down.” Denise pleaded. “Are you absolutely sure her finger moved?”
“Yes!” he yelled again. “It moved. Come see!”
They all crowded into the room and saw Alissa’s right hand index finger move slowly up and down. The nurse told them that she would call the doctor and get someone over as fast as she could. AJ raced around the side of the bed and grabbed her hand again, watching as her finger bumped into his hand again. AJ was so busy watching her finger that he missed her eyes moving.
“AJ look!” Brooke screamed.
Alissa’s eyelids had started to flutter and her heartbeat monitor started to beep a little faster. The nurse came back in and saw all the commotion.
“I called the doctor and he’s off today. His office was going to page him and have him come directly here.”
She had no sooner finished her statement than the doorbell rang. Brooke dashed downstairs and came flying back up, practically dragging the doctor behind her.
“Look!” she said and pointed at Alissa and the monitor. “This is good right?”
The doctor watched the monitors for a few minutes and then looked at AJ. “I think we should take her back to the hospital and do a few tests.”
AJ wanted answers. “Ok, call the ambulance and take her back in!” He got things together for James and asked his mother and Brooke to stay with him while he went to the hospital to look after Alissa. Brooke agreed and Denise asked if AJ wanted them to call the other guys.
“Not yet. Let me find out something first.” AJ let the paramedics in and followed them back downstairs. He had asked again if he could ride with her and the EMT agreed. He kissed his mother and rode off to the hospital with Alissa.
His mother and Brooke silently prayed that this would be it.
AJ spent two hours pacing in the waiting room at the hospital. They had taken Alissa in to do a few more tests and he was anxiously waiting for someone to come out to let him know something. He had already called his mother three times and the guys were expecting updates too.
He was still walking back and forth when Nick showed up.
“J! How is she? Any news yet?”
“Nothing. I’m going crazy here. I need to know something!”
Nick sank down in one of the chairs not knowing what to say. He knew AJ was going through hell and he hoped that this wasn’t another glimmer of hope that was going to be taken away. Just as he was about to suggest that AJ sit down, the doctor arrived.
“Where is she? How is she? What’s going on?” AJ tripped over his words and almost knocked the doctor over charging at him.
The doctor held up both hands. “The tests aren’t showing much but her heartbeat has gotten stronger and we wanted your permission to take the breathing tube out. Since she has shown some signs of waking up, we want to see if she is able to breathe on her own. Do you want us to try?”
AJ thought about it for a few minutes. “What happens if she can’t?”
“Well, we’ll put the tube back in and go back to waiting. Unfortunately, I’m not a psychic and I can’t tell what’s going to happen. It’s really up to you.”
AJ looked over at Nick. “What should I do?”
Nick was shocked. AJ always had an answer for everything. He was confident and always gave others his advice. This was definitely a change from the AJ he knew.
“I don’t know.”
“Look Nick, I’m asking you for your opinion. Please.”
Nick sighed. “I’m not telling you what you should do, but I will say this. Alissa’s a strong woman and she’s stubborn as hell. If she is really starting to wake up, she’ll fight no matter what. I know she loves you and that little boy. And if she can put up with you, I know this will be a cake walk for her.”
AJ laughed in spite of himself. “Thanks Nicky.” He turned to the doctor and agreed to remove the tube.
“Can I sit with her?”
“Of course.” the doctor said. “Come with me and we’ll get the process started.”
AJ started to leave but turned around to hug Nick.
“I’ll be right here J.” Nick said and watched AJ leave. He could only pray that this worked.
The doctor took AJ to Alissa’s room and explained what they would be doing. AJ stood out of their way and watched as they turned off the respirator and removed the breathing tube. The heartbeat monitor was starting to get quieter and quieter and became a very unsteady line. Without asking the doctor, AJ raced forward and grabbed Alissa’s hand. He knelt beside her bed and ran his finger along the side of her face.
“You can’t do this to me Liss, not again! You need to wake up. I need you to fight. I need you, James needs you. Please Liss, I can’t lose you. I love you.”
The heart monitor stayed at a very unsteady pace.
AJ leaned forward so his mouth was close to her ear. “Damnit Alissa! You need to fight. I know you’re just as stubborn as me and you would kick my ass if I was in your position. Please fight for us. I need you. Please Liss! Don’t leave again.”
He closed his eyes and the tears started to run down his cheeks. This was more than he could bear. It felt like he was so close to having her back and now he was going to lose her again. He was about to break down when the doctor asked him to look at the heart monitor. It was getting louder and steadier and Alissa’s eyelids were starting to flutter again.
The doctor smiled at him. “Whatever you said to her must have worked.”
AJ just stared at Alissa and grinned from ear to ear.
“We are going to keep her here until she actually wakes up and maybe for a little while after that. Tests need to be run and she needs to be watched for a few days.”
“Do anything you need to do.” AJ said. “I don’t care how long it takes. I want to make sure she’s going to be fine.”
The doctor nodded. “Why don’t I give you some time with her and then I’ll have a nurse start a few tests.”
AJ thanked him and the doctor left closing the door quietly.
AJ sat down on the bed next to her and leaned in to kiss her on the forehead.
“Thank you Liss. I can’t watch you go again. You and James are my life. I will wait as long as it takes for you to wake up. Just please come back to me.”
He stayed there for a few hours just holding her hand and talking to her. Finally a nurse came to run some tests and she suggested that AJ go home for a couple of hours while they did some scans and blood work. She promised that she would call as soon as they were done and he could come back and stay with her.
Nick drove AJ home as fast as he could and stayed with him while he explained to Brooke and his mother exactly what happened. By the end of the conversation, both women had tears in their eyes and they were grateful for the good news. Nick called the other guys and told them about the improvement.
“That’s amazing. How’s J doing?” Howie asked.
“He’s good. I actually saw a smile on his face today. It’s been months since that happened.”
“I know. Can I talk to him?”
“He just headed upstairs to get James. He just woke up from his nap.”
“Alright.” Howie said. “Can you ask him to call me when he can?”
AJ was coming down the stairs just as Nick was hanging up with Howie.
“I called the other guys and Howie wants you to call him whenever you can.”
AJ nodded. “I will. I just want to spend some time with James before I head back to the hospital.”
“Do you want me to hang around? I can bring you back if you want.”
AJ smiled at him. “Thanks Nicky but I’ll be ok. I really appreciate what you did for me today.”
Nick smiled back. “Anytime man. We’re family. Don’t forget that. We’ll always be here for you.”
Nick hugged his brother and said goodbye to Denise and Brooke.
“How’s my grandson?” Denise asked rubbing her finger over James’ little fist. He smiled up at her and she could see Alissa’s eyes look back at her. “How’s my son?” Denise asked turning to AJ.
“I’m good Ma.” AJ said and meant it. “I’m hoping she wakes up soon. It’s killing me not to be able to see her smile and hear her laugh. I want to tell her all about James and introduce him to his mom.”
Denise sighed. “We all do honey. You just keep doing whatever you’re doing and we’ll keep praying.”
AJ hugged his mother and he got a few hours with James before he got the call that he could come back and see Alissa.
“Do you mind staying and watching him?” he asked his mother.
“Of course not sweetheart. Brooke’s going to stay here tonight too. This way we can both keep an eye on him.” Denise pushed her son towards the door. “Go be with Alissa. Tell her we all love her.”
AJ hugged his mother. “I love you Ma, you’re the best!”
“I know.” Denise laughed and watched as AJ took off in his truck. She hoped that Alissa would join them soon.
AJ spent the next couple of days going back and forth between his house and the hospital. He tried to get in time with his son but he was afraid to leave Alissa for too long. He didn’t want her to wake up and see no one there.
Sitting next to her one afternoon, he realized how tired he was and decided to try and doze in the chair for a while before heading back to the house to feed James. He had just closed his eyes when he heard a voice. His eyes snapped open and he stared at Alissa. She hadn’t moved so he thought he was just hearing things. He closed his eyes again and started to doze off.
His eyes flew open again and he lost his ability to talk. Alissa’s eyes were opening little by little and she kept trying to say his name. Tears filled his eyes and he pressed the call button for the nurse.
“I’m right here Liss, right here.” He sat down next to her on the bed and smiled. She finally opened her eyes and they connected with AJ’s.
She saw AJ started to cry and she didn’t understand what was going on.
“A…J…” She tried to grab his hand but she didn’t have much strength.
The nurse walked in to ask what was wrong and when she saw that Alissa had woken up, she darted out to get the doctor.
AJ could barely talk. His heart felt like it was going to explode and he couldn’t stop staring in her eyes. He had missed too many days not being able to see the look on her face and hear her say his name.
The doctor came in and smiled when he saw that his patient had opened her eyes finally. “Well Ms. Emerson, it’s nice to have you back. You’ve given everyone the scare of their lives.”
Alissa shook her head. “I…don’t….” Her voice was cracking and it was hard to speak.
“You had a tube in your throat to help you breathe and it’s probably causing you some pain. It should go away in a few days.” The doctor turned to AJ. “I’ll give you a few minutes and then we need to get some scans done.”
AJ just nodded. He had so much to say to Alissa but all the emotions that had built up over the last few months just came crashing over him and he started to sob. Tears filled Alissa’s eyes.
AJ looked at her through his tears. “You have nothing to be sorry for Liss.”
Alissa shook her head. “You’re…..crying….”
AJ smiled. “I’m crying because I love you and because I’ve missed you.”
She looked confused. “Missed…me?”
“You’ve been in a coma for more than two months Liss. Something happened when you had the baby…..”
Alissa started to panic. “Baby!”
“Shhhh.” AJ said running his hand down the side of her face. “James is fine. He’s at home with my mother.” He paused for a minute. “He’s beautiful Liss. He has your eyes.”
Her eyes filled with tears and she started to cry. She remembered that they had decided to name the baby James and the thought of seeing him overwhelmed her.
AJ nodded. “Of course you can see him. Let the doctors do their tests and I’ll bring him to you.”
She gripped his hand a little tighter. AJ grabbed it, raised it to his face and pressed it to his cheek.
“God Liss, I’ve missed you. I love you more than anything and I was so scared you weren’t coming back.”
Alissa ran her finger across his face. AJ started to cry again and he leaned down to kiss her. He felt the spark that he had missed and he just wanted to hold her in his arms. The doctor came in and let AJ know that the scans would take an hour or so.
Alissa looked up at him. “Stay?”
AJ smiled down at her. “Where else would I go?”
Alissa smiled weakly at him and they wheeled her bed out and took her down to the radiology wing.
As soon as she left, AJ called his mother and told her the news. He asked her to bring James to the hospital as soon as she could. She said she would leave as soon as she packed things up and hung up. AJ sat down in the chair and felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from him. He didn’t always believe in praying but he thanked God for bringing Alissa back. There was no way he would let her go again.
AJ was waiting for Alissa when she was wheeled back in. He had asked Denise to stay with James in the waiting room until they brought her back.
Alissa smiled when she saw that AJ was sitting in the chair by her bed. As soon as they got her bed back in place and locked, he dragged the chair over so that he was right next to her.
“Hey beautiful. How are you feeling?” he asked and pulled her hand into his.
“Ok.” Alissa said quietly.
“Are you up for a surprise?”
Alissa looked at him and saw the huge smile on his face. “James?”
AJ nodded and went to get Denise. The three of them came back and Denise was elated to see Alissa awake and sitting up.
“Hi sweetheart!” Denise said rushing over to hug her. AJ had already explained that she would have trouble talking for a few days so she didn’t want to make her strain her voice.
“Ok.” Alissa said and smiled at her.
AJ came over to the bed and sat down next to her. He held James so that she would be able to see him. Since she was still weak, she wasn’t able to hold him but she was amazed at how at ease AJ was when he was cuddling with him.
Alissa’s eyes filled with tears when she saw James smile at her. He had her eyes and AJ’s smile. Her heart was filled with so much love for this baby and for AJ.
She held her finger out and was stunned by her son’s grip. His little fist had covered her finger and he smiled at her again. She didn’t think she could ever be as happy as she was in this moment.
AJ looked at her and smiled. He loved hearing her say their son’s name. It was one of the best sounds he had ever heard.
“Hey James, this is your mom.” he said looking down at his son. James looked at Alissa again and she could see a twinkle in his eye.
Alissa and AJ sat there and just looked at their son and held his hand. After a few minutes, Alissa’s eyes became heavy and she started yawning.
The doctor had told AJ that being in a coma was not the same as being asleep. He also told him that Alissa was still very weak and would need to rest.
AJ handed the baby to Denise and asked his mother to take him home. She said goodbye to Alissa and promised to bring the baby back in the morning.
AJ looked at Alissa. “I am not going to spend one more night away from you.”
He slid her gently over on the bed and climbed in beside her. He slipped one arm around her and wrapped her both arms around her tightly. She snuggled her head into his chest and within minutes was fast asleep.
“I love you Liss. More than anything in this world.” he whispered in her ear. AJ fell asleep moments later knowing that this was the first night in a long time that he would actually be able to sleep.
Alissa spent a few more days in the hospital with AJ barely leaving her side. They had missed out on so much time together. Denise brought James by every day to see his mom and AJ went home for a few hours to feed him and let his mother have some time off.
The doctor finally agreed to let Alissa go home and no one was happier about that than she was. She could talk normally now and hold her son for a short time. They said she would have to be on bed rest for a week longer and then she could start moving around a little more each day.
AJ brought her to the home he had bought. She was shocked by everything and thanked him for taking care of everything for the last few months.
“This is beautiful AJ.”
He carried her through the door and gave her a brief tour before settling her into the new sleigh bed.
“It’s just like the one from your mother’s.”
He smiled. “I know how much you loved your room there and I wanted to bring that here for you.”
“The bed doesn’t even look slept in.”
“That’s because it never was.” AJ said quietly. “I slept in one of the guest rooms. I couldn’t handle sleeping in a bed without you.”
Tears formed in her eyes. “I’m sorry this was so hard on you AJ. It’s not fair. I wish that this whole thing never happened.”
AJ leaned over and kissed her gently. “You know what? I don’t want to talk about it anymore. All I want to do is enjoy you being home and us being a family again.”
Alissa smiled up at him. “Is James awake?”
“He’s still sleeping but I’ll bring him in as soon as he wakes up. Try and get some rest and I’ll go get you something to drink.” He leaned over and kissed her again. “I love you Liss.”
“I love you too AJ.”
Alissa rested for a few hours and then felt as though she was strong enough to feed James. She loved holding him in her arms and watching him stare up at her from his little eyes. AJ smiled as he looked at her holding their son. This is what life should be like.
After a while, James started getting sleepy and AJ took him back to the nursery. He returned to their bedroom and found Alissa yawning.
“Like mother like son huh?” he asked teasing her.
She tried to toss a pillow at him but it only wound up on the floor. “Be quiet you.”
AJ laughed and went into the bathroom to change. He crawled into bed next to Alissa and wrapped his arms around her.
“I finally get to sleep in my own bed.”
“Our bed” Alissa reminded him.
“Our bed.” he said and smiled. “I love you Liss.”
“I love you too AJ. Get some sleep tonight.”
“Trust me, I will.”
They were both asleep in minutes.
A week had passed and Alissa was able to get around the house more. She was much stronger than she was before and she could now take care of James by herself. AJ was still nervous so he asked Denise to come stay with her while he ran some errands. He came home to find the two of them talking in James’ room.
“AJ, will you tell your mom that it’s ok for me to go downstairs? I think she’s holding me hostage.”
AJ smiled. “Alright Ma, you’re relieved”
Denise laughed. “I’ll be downstairs.”
AJ pulled Alissa into a bear hug. “I love you Liss.” He leaned in and kissed her deeply.
She pulled back and looked at him with a grin. “Exactly what are you doing Mr. McLean?”
“Kissing the most beautiful woman on the planet and counting the hours before we can head back to bed.” He put on a sad face. “But that will have to wait for now. Can you come out back with me for a minute?”
Alissa gave him a funny look.
“What’s going on AJ?”
“Nothing, I promise. Please?”
She followed him downstairs and out to the patio. Stepping out the door, she was shocked to see everyone standing out in their yard.
Everybody crowded around Alissa to welcome her home. The guys were thrilled to see her back up and around and they were ecstatic to see AJ as happy as he was. The girls couldn’t get over how cute James was and everyone wanted to hold him.
Howie pulled Alissa aside while the others were cooing over him.
“I’m so glad that you’re ok. J’s my brother and I honestly have never seen him in such a bad place.”
Tears started forming in Alissa’s eyes.
“Please don’t cry. I’m not saying this to upset you. I just want you to know how much you mean to J and the rest of us. I don’t know what he would do without you.”
“Thank you Howie. I love him more than anything and I’ve seen what this has done to him. I don’t want to spend any more time apart from him and I appreciate the support from all of you guys.”
“We’ll always support you guys. Whatever you need.” Howie hugged Alissa and they rejoined the group.
“Hey D! No more occupying my girl!” AJ teased him, wrapping his arm around Alissa. Leigh had taken James inside to get him a bottle.
“Ok, ok.” Howie said laughing and raising his hands. “She’s all yours.”
AJ leaned down and kissed Alissa gently.
“How’re you feeling?”
“Fine.” Alissa said smiling up at him.
“Good. If you start feeling tired just let me know and I’ll kick everyone out.”
“Don’t worry AJ. I’ll be fine.”
He frowned. “I know but I’ve heard that before.”
“I’m sorry AJ. I promise to let you know if I need to rest ok.”
“Alright.” he said and leaned in to kiss her again.
“Hey J! You said there was going to be food. Are you going to cook or do you two need a room?”
“I’m going to kick your ass!” AJ said and tried to Nick in a headlock. They were both laughing so hard that they fell off balance right into the pool.
Everyone started cracking up laughing. Alissa realized how much she had missed all of them and how she loved being part of this family. She couldn’t ask for anything better.
Everyone sat around for the next few hours eating and talking, just enjoying each other’s company. Denise had taken James up to bed and the guys volunteered to do the dishes. The ladies got to catch up with each other and enjoy some peace now that the fellas were gone.
“We missed you Alissa.” Leighanne said with a smile. “It wasn’t the same without you.”
“I missed you guys too. Although it wasn’t quite the same problem for me as it was for all of you.” Alissa smiled sadly. “I wish none of this had ever happened.”
“So do we, but there was nothing you could do.” Leigh responded.
“I know, I just…….”
“Hey, hey. No serious talk around here.” AJ said coming out with Denise and the rest of the guys. “This is a good night.”
Alissa moved over on the lounger for him to sit but he just stood in front of her.
“Not sitting down yet.”
She just looked at him, confused by his actions.
AJ turned and faced the other guys and their wives.
“I’m so glad that you all could be here. I’m extremely lucky to have you all in my life and I want you to know how much I love you guys.”
“Aww J. That’s so sweet.” Nick said pretending to wipe tears from his eyes. Howie whacked him on the arm and told him to shut up.
“Thanks D. I asked you guys over here tonight to celebrate with Alissa and I. And we’re doing more than just celebrating having Alissa back.”
AJ turned to face Alissa and squatted down next to the lounger. He took her hand and stared into her eyes.
“I love you Liss. I want everyone to hear me say that. You are my world. You and James. I wouldn’t know what to do without you. You own a piece of my heart forever and I can’t imagine not being with you. The times we have spent apart were some of the hardest moments of my life and I never want to feel that way again.” He paused for a minute. “I wish I was better at this.”
He got down on one knee and dug a ring box out from his pocket.
“Liss, I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Every single day and night. You are the most important person in my life and I am never going to screw that up again.”
Alissa started to tear up.
“I hope those are happy tears.”
Everyone chuckled. AJ waited for Alissa to say something but she remained quiet.
“I’m serious Liss. I love you and I want you to be my wife. Will you marry me?”
He opened the box and she was shocked by the beautiful ring. It was a square cut diamond with aquamarine stones set around it. He slid it out and held out his hand for hers.
It took a few seconds for Alissa to comprehend what was happening. When she was finally able to think straight, she wrapped her arms around AJ’s neck and looked him in the eyes.
“I love you too AJ and yes, I will marry you.”
AJ broke into a grin and stood up, pulling Alissa with him. He grabbed her around the waist, lifting her off the ground, and kissed her passionately. Everyone was thrilled. The girls were all crying and the guys were so excited to see AJ at a place in his life where he was happy and stable. They all stayed a little longer and then decided to give the newly engaged couple some time by themselves. Denise offered to stay but AJ just wanted to spend the night alone with Alissa and James.
Everyone said their goodbyes and AJ took Alissa upstairs. She was still smiling and staring at the ring. He stopped her in the hallway and tilted her chin up so he could look in her eyes.
“Are you happy Liss?”
“Of course.” she said beaming. “Are you?”
AJ grinned. “Yes I am and I plan on showing you exactly how happy I am!” He pulled her into the bedroom and kicked the door closed.
AJ awoke to an empty bed a few hours later. The bathroom was empty so he walked down to James’s room to see if Alissa was there. He found her sitting in the rocking chair watching James with tears in her eyes.
“What’s the matter Liss?” he asked kneeling next to her.
“I’m sorry.” Tears slid down her face.
AJ pulled her out of the chair and into the hallway. Wrapping his arms around her, he led her back to their bedroom and sat her down on the bed.
“Shhh. Stop crying Liss. It’s ok.” He held her tightly against him.
“It’s not fair and I’m sorry.”
He let her cry a little longer and then pulled her back slightly so he could see her eyes.
“Baby, I don’t understand why you’re apologizing. You haven’t done anything wrong.”
Alissa looked up at him with tear stained cheeks. “Are you sure you want to marry me?”
AJ was shocked. He knelt down In front of her and put his hands on either side of her face.
“Of course I want to marry you. I thought we were happy Liss.” He paused for a minute. “Please talk to me. I really don’t get what’s going on.”
Alissa took a deep breath and the words tumbled out.
“I know you love James. When you look at him, your eyes light up and you’re so happy. I can’t give that to you again. I know you want more kids. The doctor says I can’t get pregnant again. I’m the reason you can’t have more children. It’s not fair to you. I’m so sorry AJ.”
He was stunned.
“This is why you’re so upset?”
AJ sighed. “Liss, I don’t care if we don’t have any more kids. James is amazing and you’re right, I love him. But you need to understand something. I love you more than anything in this world. I wouldn’t be able to live without you and if it means keeping you with me, then I’m fine with not having any more kids. I want you above anything else. You aren’t doing this, it happens. Please don’t ever think you’re causing me any pain. The only real pain for me would be losing you or James.”
AJ sat back on the bed next to her and wrapped her in his arms.
“Stop apologizing Liss. I love you and that’s it.”
He tilted her head up and kissed her.
“No more tears.”
AJ and Alissa got married six months later at a ceremony on the beach behind their home. Their first dance was to “Safest Place To Hide”* and AJ sung every word to her. He had come to realize that he was home and safe with her and he wanted to make her feel that way for the rest of their lives.
Howie and Leigh gave them the best present of all that night. Leigh offered to be a surrogate so that AJ and Alissa could have their wish for more kids. Nine months later, they welcomed twins, Howard Nicholas and Emma Leigh.
Their family was finally complete and, looking at all the happiness around her, Alissa realized that the note she had written so long ago was the best decision of her life.
*Lyrics to “Safest Place To Hide” (Backstreet Boys):
It seems like yesterday when I said, "I do"
And after all this time my heart still burns for you
If you don't know by now that you're my only one
Then take a look inside me and watch my heart strings come undone
I know I promised you forever
Is there no stronger word I can use?
To reassure you when the storm is ragin' outside
You're my safest place to hide
Can you see me?
Here I am
I need you like I needed you then
When I feel like givin' up
I climb inside your heart and still find
You're my safest place to hide
You see colors no one else can see
In every breath you hear a symphony
You understand me like nobody can
I feel my soul unfoldin', like a flower bloomin'
When this whole world gets too crazy, yeah
And there's nowhere left to run
I know you give me sanctuary
You're the only truth I know, you're the road back home
Can you see me?
Here I am
Standin' here where I've always been
And when words are not enough
I climb inside your heart and still find
You're my safest place to hide, my safest place to hide
I know I promised you forever
There's no stronger word, I can use
To reassure you when the storm is ragin' outside
You're my safest place to hide
Oh, can you see me?
Here I am
Standin' here where I've always been
When I feel like givin' up
I climb inside your heart and still find
Yeah, yeah, you're my safest place to hide
Oh, yeah, you're my safest place to hide
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.