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Author's Chapter Notes:
A trip to California to surprise the guys reveals Nick's true colors to Alyssa.

Chapter 14

  The remainder of the summer passed by all too quickly for Alyssa. She tried to make the most out of everyday, knowing that this upcoming school year was going to bring an immense amount of change into her life. She was actually going to have focus on getting a real career going and quite frankly that frightened the shit out of her. Throughout those last few weeks Alyssa bummed around as much as possible, hung out with Izzy who was already shopping for baby things even though she wasn't due until March, and tried to just generally enjoy herself. She even spent a few days at her parents house, so that she could relax by the beach, but that had really been her only vacation.

    That was until Izzy approached her with the idea of flying out to California to surprise the guys at their show in Irvine. "We should do it," she had insisted. "We haven't seen them since they were here in New York last month and I think that we could use a vacation. Especially you Alyssa. Besides, didn't Nick tell you that we should go visit them at some point this tour?"

    Alyssa had told Izzy all about her encounter with Nick the previous month. Well, actually she had left out the part about the kiss. How could she possibly explain that one to Izzy when she herself didn't even understand it? She hadn't mentioned that little detail to anybody. Even her own sisters had no clue that she had even spoken to Nick after they had broken up. Alyssa just couldn't figure out the right way to tell them the truth.

    "Yea, he did," she had admitted.

    "So, then we should do it! I'll make a few calls and get it covered and then we'll just show up unannounced and surprise them," Izzy planned out. "You're in right?"

    It hadn't taken much more persuasion than that. Since she had last seen him, Nick had actually called Alyssa two or three times. Unfortunately, it seemed like whenever he did call, five minutes into the conversation he was being pulled away. They never seemed to be able to get past the small talk. That's what finally helped Alyssa decide to take Izzy up on her offer. All she could think about was that night on his tour bus. The more she thought the situation the more positive she was that there was something there. Exactly what? She really couldn't be sure. All she knew that her friendship was Nick was crazy! It made no sense at all, yet at the same time felt completely right. After that night she had decided to dive right in to it and see where it went. Life was all about risks right? And she had played it safe for much too long.

    So that's how she wound up on a plane to California one afternoon in late August with Izzy and Tristan. She had been so tempted to call or text Nick and warn him that he had a surprise on the way, but she wanted to catch him off guard and knowing her, she'd spill the beans and ruin the surprise.

    Alyssa should've figured out that the trip was going to be a disaster right from the beginning. First their plane had been delayed  three hours. When they arrived in California Izzy lost her luggage and threw a huge scene, only to discover that it had been on the baggage carousel the whole time. After that, the line for the rental car was practically out the door. Then of course they had gotten lost on the way to the hotel, and Alyssa had to witness World War three between Izzy and Tristan, each blaming each other for getting lost. Finally they arrived at the hotel cranky and jet lagged from the time difference.

    They had arranged to stay at the same hotel as the guys, but when they arrived and Izzy made a quick phone call to see if the guys were around she discovered that they were off doing some radio promotion. "Well," she said with a sigh. "Not much for us to do except take a nap and rest up for the show tonight. I've gotten so used to New York time I can't function on California time anymore."

    Alyssa did not protest as she headed up to her room. She had opted to get her own hotel room next door to Izzy and Tristan knowing that they had wanted to be alone. She hadn't been in California, but a few hours and already she had a pounding headache. Setting down her luggage on the floor and kicking off her shoes, she pulled the covers back on the hotel bed, got underneath them, and immediately fell asleep.

    When Alyssa awoke some time later she felt refreshed and her headache had completely gone away. She had just had the most amazing dream about Nick, and she could feel the corners of her lip turn upwards into a grin. They had been on his tour bus again like they had been the month before, only when he kissed her this time, she hadn't pulled away, and things had gone much further. Isn't it a little strange to be having sexual dreams about your FRIEND? she asked herself, stressing the word friend. Not that she was complaining of course. It was just the fact that here she was trying to get over Nick as a lover and dreams like that were not helping one bit.

    Sitting up in bed she glanced at the digital clock on her night table. "Shit!" she cried, when she saw what time it was. Doors were just about to open at the arena for the concert and she had just woken up. How come Izzy never called me? she wondered.

    Grabbing her cell phone she dialed Izzy's number. "Hello...' Izzy sleepily answered after a few rings.

    "Izzy, did you just wake up?" Alyssa frantically asked.

    "Yea. Why? Why'd you wake me up for?" she whined.

    "Look at the clock!"

    "Shit!" Izzy responded as she checked the time. "I'm going to kill Tristan. I don't know why he insisted on getting a flight out here the same day as the concert. He didn't want to miss one more precious day of recording-"

    "Okay Iz," Alyssa interrupted. "Let's blame Tristan later. For now we need to haul ass if we want to make it in time for the concert."

    "You're right," she agreed. "Okay I'll get Tristan up and we'll start getting ready."

    "Sounds good. Whoever finishes first will knock on the others door, okay?"

    "Yes Ma'am. See you in a few."

    "Bye." Alyssa clicked off her phone and quickly went through her bag for a fresh shirt. She wasn't going to get herself too dolled up because chances are they would probably stop back at the hotel after the concert to change again anyway because they'd be going out somewhere later.

    After she had changed into a pink tank top and a black zip up hoodie, she quickly ran a brush through her hair, brushed her teeth and applied a quick coat of lip gloss. Taking a quick glance at herself in the mirror one final time, she set out to retrieve Izzy.

    After the concert, Izzy, Tristan and Alyssa huddled together outside of the arena, trying to concoct a game plan for surprising the guys. By the time they had arrived at the venue before the concert, it had been too late to go backstage and see them, so they were left with no choice, but to take their seats for the concert.

    "Okay, well I could call one of the bodyguards and ask if things are crazy backstage and then maybe if its not we can just pop in," Izzy suggested. "Although I kind of wanted to surprise them with a little more originality. Any ideas?"

    Alyssa shrugged and was just about to reply with a no, when her cell phone began to ring. Going into her bag to retrieve it she was surprised with the irony of the identity of the caller. "It's Nick," she shared with them. "He hardly ever calls me. Do you think he suspects something?"

    "Why would he?" Izzy asked. "Talk to them though. Maybe you can find out what the guys are doing later on. Just don't mention that we're here okay?"

    She nodded as she finally answered. "Hey Nick. What's up?"

    "Not much," his familiar voice replied on the other end. "I just got offstage about 10 or 15 minutes ago and I'm just killing some time before we get back to the hotel and everything. I realized I hadn't talked to you in a while, so I figured I'd just call to see what's going on.

    "I'm doing good. Getting ready to start teaching next week when school starts up again."

    "You nervous about that?" he asked her, sounding genuinely interested.

    "Terrified," she admitted, as she caught Izzy giving her a death glare. Her eyes seemed to be saying, cut the small talk and find out some information! Remembering her purpose, she changed the subject. "So where are you tonight?"

    "California," he answered. "Irvine."

    "Awesome. It must be beautiful there now."

    "Yea. It's pretty hot though."

    The conversation fell flat for a second until Alyssa decided to inquire upon his plans for that evening. "So, you doing anything exciting now after the show?"

    "All of us are supposed to make an appearance at this new club that opened near the hotel we're staying at. I think it's called Heat or something like that. It should be interesting," he reported. "If it's really lame we'll just show our faces and then leave."

    "Sounds a lot more thrilling than what I'll be doing. I'm just about to go to bed," she lied.

    "Oh yea! I totally forgot about the time difference!" Nick apologized. "I'm sorry for calling so late. It has to be about 2:00 am for you. I'll let you go now, so you can get some sleep.

    "Thanks Nick. Hopefully I'll talk to you soon," she said, as she chuckled to herself knowing just how soon, soon would be.

    "Night Alyssa. Sleep tight," were his last words, as he hung up the phone.

    "So? What did you find out?" Izzy pounced on her the minute she hung up the phone.

    "All the guys are going to be making an appearance at this club called Heat by the hotel," Alyssa repeated. "If its dead then they are probably just going to call it a night."

    "Excellent job! You did well," she told her, patting her on the shoulder. "So here's the plan. We linger here for a bit, maybe go get some food to give the guys a head start, and then we go back to the hotel, and get ready. I'll make a few phone calls to make sure they are still at the club and that I can get onto the guest list, and then we show up and surprise them!"

    The plan sounded pretty good to Alyssa. She couldn't wait to see the look of surprise in Nick's face when he saw that she was in California after all.

    Later on that evening, when Alyssa stepped into Heat with Izzy and Tristan, a wave of excitement washed over. She was going to see Nick again! She really looked forward to hanging out with him again. Now that they were friends, it was like a fresh beginning for them. It was almost like more innocent times.

    She had worn one of her favorite club tops that she was dying for Nick to see her in, because even though the two had decided to pretend as if the kiss they had shared last month never happened, Alyssa still wanted to kind of flaunt to him what he could've had. Granted, they were only supposed to be friends, but Alyssa kind of liked the possibility that laid between the two of them. The ivory colored tank top, hugged her in all the right places and had a see through lace back. She could already feel herself getting appreciative stares as she followed Izzy and Tristan to the VIP area.

    As they made their way towards the bar Izzy spotted Melanie and Kevin a few feet away from her. Kevin was engrossed in conversation with somebody, so he didn't take any notice of them, but Melanie did. She and Izzy exchanged eye contact and Melanie's face grew into a surprised grin. Izzy put her finger to her lip to motion for her to pretend she hadn't seen them. Melanie just nodded as Izzy tiptoed behind Kevin and placed her hands over his eyes. "Guess who?"

    Kevin whirled around in disbelief. "Izzy? What are you doing here?" he asked as he embraced his cousin.

    "Tristan, Alyssa, and I thought that we'd come out to California to surprise you. We were supposed to have met up with you before, but we had a few minor setbacks," she explained, glaring at Tristan.

    "You shouldn't have came all the way to see me in your condition," Kevin scolded.

    Izzy sighed, rolling her eyes. "What condition? I'm barely two months pregnant. It's totally safe for me to travel."

    Alyssa lost interest in the reunion between Kevin and Izzy. She found herself scanning the crowd to see if she could find Nick. "I'm going to go the bar to get a drink," she excused herself. She thought for sure she'd see him hanging around there, but no such luck. Giving up, she ordered herself a Malibu Bay Breeze. As soon as the bartender handed it to her she set off in search of Nick, but barely made it two feet before she bumped into another person almost causing her to spill her drink before she had even taken a sip.

    "Hey watch it!" she said nastily and then turned bright red in embarrassment as she looked up at the face of the guy she had bumped into, who was no one else but AJ. "Oh my God. I'm sorry," she apologized. "I don't even know it was you."

    "Alyssa? What are you doing out here in this part of the country? I don't see you for over three years and now I bump into in the damndest places," he joked as he leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek.

    "I know right," she answered with a laugh. "Izzy and I decided to take a little last minute vacation trip and come out here to surprise you guys. Nick told me that we should just show up one day to visit, so here we are!"

    "I had no clue you were even here," AJ told her. "None of the other guys even mentioned it."

    "We only just bumped into Kevin right now. Nick actually called me after the show ironically and I lied and told him that I was in New York and about to go to bed. That's how we found where you guys are going to be tonight." She stopped to take a sip of her drink. "By the way have you seen Nick? I've been looking around all over for him."

    "Here's around here somewhere," AJ answered. Something about the way in which AJ spoke, gave Alyssa the feeling that maybe he knew more than what he led on. "You and Nick have gotten pretty close again, haven't you?"

    Alyssa shrugged. How could she possibly describe their friendship to AJ when she herself didn't fully understand it? "I guess you could say that," she finally spoke up. "We did a lot of talking that night at Izzy's and we decided that its important for us to still be friends, so we hung out a little bit at Jones Beach and we've talked on the phone here and there. I really wanted to surprise him tonight."

    "You still love him, don't you?" he bluntly questioned.

    "What!?" Alyssa asked, nearly choking on her drink. "That's ridiculous! Of course I don't love him anymore!"

    "I'll take that as a yes," he said with a smirk. "You think you're such a great actress Alyssa, but I know you too well. I can see right through the denial act. You're dying to find him because you can't get enough of him."

    Alyssa felt herself getting flustered and soon finally gave in to her denial. "All right. I wouldn't say I still love him, but maybe I am a little confused about how much I actually care for him, but the more I see of him the less awkward things should be right?"

    AJ shrugged. "I don't know Alyssa. Just be careful."

    "Be careful? What do you mean by that?" she asked, in a puzzled tone.

    "Nick is under a lot of stress right now. I'm not sure if he knows what he wants half the time," he explained with a sigh. "I care about you Alyssa, so I don't want you to get hurt. I just don't want you to put all your eggs in one basket with Nick."

    Alyssa's brow furrowed. "You know something. You don't want me to see Nick right now. What's going on? What could he be up to that would hurtful for me to see?"

    It was then that Alyssa spotted Nick just over AJ's shoulder and noticed that he wasn't alone. If he had been with one other girl it wouldn't have been so bad, but wrapped around each of his arms were two of the trashiest looking girls that she had ever seen. Both had stringy looking bleached blonde hair and matching orange complexions as if they went a little too overboard with the self tanner. They both appeared to be wearing similar outfits, short denim mini skirts with stiletto heels and tops that appeared to be about two sizes too small for their bodies. What look are we going for exactly here? Alyssa wondered to herself. Dirt bag Couture?

AJ followed her gaze over to Nick and his female companions. He could immediately recognize the hurt and betrayal in Alyssa's eyes as one of the girls leaned over to whisper something in Nick's ear that made his face light up in a laugh. "I'm sorry," he apologized. "Not what you expected to see, huh?"

    Alyssa indignantly swallowed back some tears and as bravely as possible replied, "I don't care. He's allowed to talk to other girls. Why should I be jealous? It's not like we're still dating or anything."

    "You don't have to bullshit me Alyssa. You're hurt I can tell," he sympathized.

    She continued to watch as both the girls began to sexily grind up against Nick, sandwiching him between both of their bodies. The asshole looks like he's having the time of his life, she thought, a jealous rage bubbling up inside her. Between watching Nick and his fan club and having to listen to AJ console her, Alyssa couldn't take it anymore. Blinded by emotions she quickly blurted out, "I think I'm going to go outside for a minute for air or something. I need to get out of here."

    Without even waiting for a reply she quickly made her way back of the VIP section, ignoring AJ's protests behind her. She threw her drink down on the nearest surface and pushed through the exit of the club into the fresh air.

    Why is that every time I see Nick I wind up practically having anxiety attacks? she asked herself as she rounded the corner of the building before letting her tears pour down her face. Why do I care so much? Why does seeing him with a bunch of trashy girls make me so mad? She had no right to him. They were friends and that was it. She couldn't tell him that he couldn't enjoy himself with other girls.

    But why does it have to be those kind of girls? she wondered.

    She hated feeling like this. She hated how Nick would always make her feel like she was a million dollars one moment and then the next make her feel like absolute shit. It had always been that way with them, beginning with his return home from Europe after that first unavoidable separation as a couple...


    After six unbearably long weeks, Nick was finally returning home from Sweden. Alyssa had been counting the days practically since the day he had left. She had missed him something awful although she had tried her best to hide it. In the beginning, he called her almost every day, but as time wore on, his calls became less and less frequent. Izzy assured her that it was probably just the strain of recording that was getting to him as he put in longer and longer days in the studio and that she shouldn't worry about it, but Alyssa was still paranoid.

    Since he had left she hadn't been able to shake the unsettling feeling that things between her and Nick had cooled  down a little bit. The more she thought about their last night together on the boat, the more she began to wonder if Nick was really disappointed in the fact that she had refused to sleep with him. There really wasn't any real indication of this, but Alyssa still felt uneasy about the way things had ended with them. His behavior at the airport before he left and even his phone call telling her that he loved her felt almost forced to her, but maybe she was letting her imagination get a little too carried away?

    Truth was, she had been thinking about that night constantly and trying to imagine what would have happened if she had given in and they had in fact made love. It had been the first time in their relationship that whole sex issue had ever came up and Alyssa hadn't known how to react, especially with him leaving the next day. This being her first serious romantic relationship, she was still obviously a virgin and she had needed time to think the decision over.

    But six weeks had turned out to be more than enough time for her. The more she thought about the idea, the more comfortable she felt with it, and the more positive she was that she wanted to have sex with him. Badly.

    It totally consumed her thoughts. She was obsessed with the idea. With every passing day her desire to see him again only multiplied, until finally the day she had been waiting for had arrived. The day that Nick returned home.

    When she went to pick him up at the airport as soon as she saw his familiar figure emerge from the terminal she practically jumped into his arms.

    "Someone's happy to see me,' he said with a grin.

    "More than you know," she breathed in as she leaned in to slowly kiss him for the first time in six weeks. God, how had she managed this long without him?

    "Mmm.." Nick responded as he reluctantly pulled away, remembering that they were in a crowded airport terminal. "Save that for later."

    "Gladly," she answered, tugging on his hand. "Come on. Let's get you home."

    On the way to Nick's house from the airport they stopped to get Chinease takeout to eat when they arrived. When they finally reached their destination they brought their dinner into the living room to eat as they tried to settle down and watch a movie. Alyssa not only found that she didn't have an appetite, but she couldn't even distinguish any of the details about the movie they were watching. All she could think about was him and how amazing it was to have him beside her again in person.

    "I missed you so much," she confessed as she nestled her head against his chest.

    "I missed you too, although recording kept my mind pretty busy," he admitted.

    "I bet it did, but that's okay. I understand," she told him as she played with the little hairs at the back of his neck.

    "Well, you had school and work to keep you busy right?" he asked her.

    "Oh yea. They kept me busy, but I still had too much time on my hands to miss you. But you're home now."

    "Yea I'm home, " he echoed, a little thrown off from her behavior.

    "Can I ask you something Nick?"

    "Sure," he answered. "What?"

    "Are you paying attention to the movie at all?" she asked her lips gently tickling his ear.

    Nick had to admit that he wasn't. At least not anymore.

    "That's what I thought," she confirmed as she climbed into his lap before leaning down to kiss him deeply, nibbling gently on his bottom lip.

    Gradually the kisses grew more plentiful and more passionate and Alyssa decided that now was the perfect moment to give him the green light. Pulling her plump lips away from his for a moment she softly whispered in his ear, "Why don't we head upstairs?"
    He didn't seem to have to be asked twice. Eagerly, he took Alyssa's hand and let her lead him upstairs to his bedroom. When they reached the foot of his bed, he carefully lifted her up and placed her on top of it. Moments later they were laying side by side, with Alyssa lightly running her tongue over his in a way that she could tell was driving him crazy.  As they continued to kiss, his hands began to play with the bottom of her shirt, slowly inching it up her body. Raising her arms she helped him pull it off, revealing the lacy lavender colored bra she had just bought at Victoria's Secret specifically for this occasion.

    Nick rolled her over onto her back and began a trail of light kisses down her neck and over the top of her breasts. Alyssa moaned softly in pleasure at the new sensation, as his hands ran over her back and stomach. She all of a sudden found herself beginning to crave the feeling of his skin on hers. Very tentatively, her hands crept underneath the bottom of his shirt, letting her fingers explore the skin underneath. She hardly even realized that she was lifting it up until it was over his head and thrown aside.

    His skin felt like heaven on top of hers. Growing bolder now, she rolled them over so she was on top of him. Her finger tips gently traced over the numerous tattoos that adorned his chest and arms while his hands floated over her lower back down towards her butt. She could already start to feel his arousal against herself giving a preview of what was to come.

    As his hands moved back up and lingered about the clasp of her bra, she softly began to suck at a spot on his neck, just below his ear. Discovering that it was a sensitive spot just by his change in breathing, Alyssa continued with just a bit more pressure. She was delighted to hear him moan beneath her.

    That was until the moment she focused her attention slightly upwards to nibble softly at his earlobe. "Mmm... Katie..." he responded.

    Alyssa's head immediately shot up as she froze. She couldn't have possibly heard what she had thought she heard, could she? "Wh- What did you call me?" she stammered.

    Just from the look of pure horror in Nick's eyes she knew that she hadn't been mistaken. "I can't fucking believe you!" she cried with tears stinging her as eyes as she sprang up from the bed.