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Author's Chapter Notes:
Nick's friendship is put to the test as comforting Alyssa puts him in an umcomfortable position.

Chapter 19

     "What type of car is it again?" one of  the police officers asked Alyssa, for what felt like the millionth time. It was a little over half an hour since she had discovered the car missing and Nick had called the police for her. They'd came rather quickly, but after twenty minutes of the same questions over and over Alyssa was beginning to get a little annoyed to say the least.

         "It's a black Dodge Neon," she replied, through gritted teeth as she rattled off the license plate number as well from her position, sitting on the apartment building steps

         The officer nodded his head in acknowledgement as he scrawled a couple of notes down. "Well, I think we have enough information from you, Miss Martinelli. We'll be in touch if anything turns up. If you don't hear from us within the week you might want to contact us and we can work on getting you a copy of the police report to show your insurance company."

         "My insurance company?" Alyssa asked, sounding confused. Why would I need a police report to show my insurance company?

         The cop's eyes narrowed, looking at her like she was stupid. "Yes. You'll need a copy of the police report to document that there was a theft on your vehicle in order to get compensation. You do have theft insurance on your car, right?"

         "I uhmm think so... Probably," she stuttered out. She began to feel sick. She wasn't sure if she actually did have theft on her car, or not.

         "Well, then if you do we'll fax a copy of the report to your insurance company, so you can a claim going. If not, well..." he paused to shrug his shoulders. "You'll be out of luck."

         Out of luck? There was no way this could be happening... The more she thought about it the more certain she began to get that she didn't have theft insurance. She vaguely remembered being offered it, but turning it down because her insurance payments were enough per month was it was. Especially now that moved to the city her rates had increased even higher. There was no way she could afford it, plus rent, plus other expenses.

         Nick must've sensed her getting upset because he spoke up for the first time since the police had arrived. "Officer, what are the chances of you guys finding the car and having it returned to its proper owner?"

         "It is possible that we are able to intercept a car before any damage has been done to it. We'll let patrols in the area know to watch out for it, and if we see anything we'll contact Miss Martinelli. Most of the time its usually just teenagers who want the car for parts. Typically we find stolen cars in abandoned lots, but usually not without some significant damage," he honestly replied.

         Alyssa sighed in relief. Significant damage wasn't too bad was it? At least it could be fixed, right?

         "So, we'll hopefully be in touch. If you think of anything else just give us a call," the officer interrupted her thoughts.

         "Thank you," she answered, as she watched the two officers retreat back to their patrol car.

         As soon as they drove away Nick offered his hand to pull her to her feet. "We should get you inside now. You're probably tired and your mind must be racing in a million different directions."

         "You still have to see my apartment!" Alyssa cried, realizing how rude she had been in  not inviting him up. Of course under the circumstances it was understandable for her manners to disappear.

         "Well, there's no better time than the present isn't there?" Nick suggested.

         Alyssa just nodded and led him inside the building without another word. In all honesty she was in too much of a daze to really manage much conversation at the moment and thankfully enough she sensed that Nick knew this and wasn't trying to get her to talk. They rode up to her floor in the buildings elevator in silence. When they finally reached her floor, they got off and Alyssa headed down the hallway, stopping at her door. She fished in her bag for her key and unlocked the door.

         "Here it is. Home sweet home," she announced flatly as she stepped inside with Nick behind her.

         Nick's eyes quickly scanned the apartment. It was very strange to see her old furniture from her apartment in Florida in an entirely new place. All in all it seemed like a nice place. A little on the tiny side, but he assumed that with just her living by herself, she didn't need much room. "Nice," he responded as he looked around.

         Alyssa didn't answer. She appeared to be staring numbly into space. Somehow he got the sense that she wasn't going to offer him the grand tour tonight. "Look, you seem to be totally out of it, so why don't you go and get changed and I can make you some tea or something?" he offered.

         "All right," she agreed, snapping out of her daze. "I think there's some tea in the cupboard over the sink in the kitchen. There should be some mugs in the dishwasher. Are you sure you can handle making tea?"

         "Yea. It's not that complicated to make," Nick assured her. "Now you go and relax a little bit ok?"

         "Fine," she agreed as she disappeared down the hall. A few minutes later he heard water running from what he assumed must be the bathroom. He could practically picture her bent over the sink, scrubbing off her makeup from that night. He was flooded with old memories if watching her prepare for bed, back when they used to live together, but quickly brushed them aside. Those days were long gone.

         It's such a shame that her car was stolen, he mused as he began to boil the water for the tea. Why was it that things never seemed to go smoothly when they were together? Things had been going so well between them that night for once. No fights, minimal deep conversation. just them finally being able to catch up with each other like old friends finally. Why did someone have to choose this night to steal Alyssa's car?

         Yea, this is definitely not how you expected your night to end, Carter,
he thought to himself. What are you doing sitting in your ex's apartment making her fucking tea? Nick himself didn't exactly know. It had just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. He couldn't just leave her like this when she was obviously upset, could he?

         About ten minutes later, Alyssa entered the kitchen still looking dazed. Nick almost took a double take when he laid his eyes on her. She had indeed scrubbed off all her makeup from before and her dark hair which had been up throughout dinner now floated freely among her shoulders. She wore a very familiar looking lavender colored kimono style robe that he soon recognized as the same robe that she had owned when they had been dating. He smiled to himself as he noticed the way it still clung to her body in all the right places. He had some very fond memories of her in that robe. Cocking his head to the side, he found himself contemplating what she had on underneath. When he finally realized what he was doing, he quickly sobered up. I was not just checking out my ex girlfriend, he convinced himself. That would be a BAD move.

"Have a seat," he offered as he pulled out a chair for her.

         "Thanks," she hoarsely answered taking a seat.

         Nick handed her one of the cups of tea and took his own over to the table, sitting across from her. "Feeling a little better now?"


         Nick sighed. He knew she must feel pretty crappy about her car and everything, but her sour mood was making him feel uncomfortable. How was he supposed to act? What was he supposed to say? Should he leave? Maybe she wanted to be alone. On the other hand, maybe she really wanted his company just then. He was thoroughly confused. 

         Clearing his throat he tried more of a "look on the bright side' approach. "I'm sure the cops will find something. And if not there's always insurance money. Think of it as a good excuse to buy yourself a nice, new car."

         Instead of the hopeful response he had wished to evoke from her Alyssa suddenly burst into tears. What did I say? Nick wondered.

         "Alyssa?" he tentatively asked. "Did I say something wrong?"

         "There won't be any insurance money," she confessed between sobs. "I didn't have any theft insurance on my car!"

         "But you told the police that-"

         "I know what I told them! I lied! I just didn't want to sound like an idiot. Bad enough they probably think I'm an airhead," she interrupted.

         "I don't understand... Why would you be so stupid as to not put theft insurance on your car when you live in New York City?" he asked, wincing a little after the word stupid. That had came out pretty harsh. "You know how common car theft is around here."

         "I couldn't afford it, okay?" she snapped, wiping her eyes. "You know not everyone of us are pop stars who make thousands of dollars each minute. Some of us have real things to worry about. Like having enough money to pay rent. Do you know how expensive car insurance is in New York, especially here in the city? Never mind that rent is ridiculous! And I don't even have a steady job yet. Have you looked in my refrigerator? It's practically empty! I'm lucky if I can whip together a salad for dinner. Then there's all my college loans..."

         That's when it hit Nick. She was right. One glance at her cramped apartment was enough to see that it was far from luxurious. While he was making the tea he had noticed that there wasn't much food laying around, but he had just assumed that it was because it was Friday and she would be doing food shopping on the weekend. Perhaps that was the reason she was still wearing the same robe that had to have been already well over three years old. Again, the different worlds thing was coming back full force to slap him in the face. It wasn't like when they were dating when she didn't have any financial concerns because Nick paid for whatever he could. She was on her own now and it was very disheartening for him to see her struggling like this. He wished there was something he could do for her, but he knew that Alyssa would never accept any money from him, even under the circumstances. Now that they were no longer a couple it just wouldn't be right in her opinion.

         "You're right Alyssa," he apologized. "That was a really self centered thing to say, I can only imagine how hard it must be for you. Although I do think you're a little exaggerated in your figures. I don't think I make thousands every minute. But just because I may seem well off doesn't mean that I don't have problems. My life is far from perfect. Money doesn't guarantee happiness."
         Alyssa looked guiltily up at him. She realized how unfair she had been to Nick as well. "I'm sorry. I'm just really weirded out by this whole car thing. Not only is my car gone, but everything in it as well."

         "You didn't have anything too valuable in it, did you?" he asked.

         Alyssa sighed. "Well, my CD player... With my Never Gone CD in it..."

         Nick smirked. "I'll get you an autographed copy to replace it. What else?"

         "I don't even know. I think there's a sweatshirt in the backseat, but that's not a huge deal. I'm more worried about all the papers that are in my glove compartment. Whoever has my car can very easily read my insurance papers or whatever and know my name, where I live... They could probably figure out my phone number if they wanted. What if they tried to break into my apartment or something?"

         "I doubt they'd try to break in here. I seriously think they were only after the car and they honestly could give a fuck who you are," he pointed out. "I'm sure you're safe."

         "I don't know. I'm just super paranoid. I don't know how I'm going to be able to fall asleep tonight," she admitted.

         Nick took a deep breath. He knew what the logical offer would be, but would Alyssa get offended? It would be weird for the both of them, but he was concerned about her and didn't think it would be a good idea for her to be alone tonight. "Would you like me to stay here with you tonight?"

         Alyssa got a little wide eyed at his offer. She wasn't quite sure how she should respond. It was a bad idea. Him spending the night, especially after her newly realized feelings for him, was bound to be awkward, but another part of her did kind of like the idea of having him there with her in case something were to happen. "But you have a room already booked at your hotel. It would be a waste of money for you to stay here."

         "I can afford to waste the money. When you make a thousand dollars a minute you can do things like this," he teased.

         Alyssa blushed at his remark, obviously still embarrassed from her outburst before. "Well, all right. You can stay if you want. I have an extra toothbrush in my medicine cabinet that I haven't opened yet."

         "Wow, I even get a toothbrush out of the deal? Sounds awesome!"

         She rolled her eyes at his corny sense of humor. "I'm afraid my couches aren't all that comfortable. If you want you can have my bed and I'll curl up on a couch. I'm smaller, so it'll probably be better that way,"she rambled on.

         "Nonsense," Nick argued. "You had a rough night. I'll manage on the couch. You need your rest."

         "Are you sure?"


         "Thank you," she said as she stood up and placed her empty mug in the sink. She'd wash it tomorrow morning when she got up. "I guess I should at least try to get some sleep now."

         "You do that. I'm just gonna check out that toothbrush in the bathroom," he told her, as he also discarded his mug in the sink. "If you need anything don't hesitate to call me and I'll be right in."

         Alyssa nodded before heading down the hallway to her bedroom. She felt pretty proud of how she'd handled his offer to spend the night. He'd just be out in the living room in the couch which was probably safer anyway, and not just because of the fact she was scared of getting robbed in the middle of the night.

         She was afraid of what she might do if she'd asked him to sleep in the bedroom with her. Even though it would be strictly platonic, it would just be way too weird. Having him out in the living room was actually quite comforting to Alyssa in a way. She knew she'd be safe that way.

         She slipped off her robe and hung it back in her closet before diving underneath her covers. As she made herself comfortable underneath the sheets she could clearly hear what sounded like Nick brushing his teeth from the direction of the bathroom. It was them that she realized how much she missed living with him. If she closed her eyes, she could almost pretend that they were back in their home in Florida and he was just about to join her in bed. She sighed as she opened her eyes again, feeling disappointed that she was still in her apartment in New York a few years later. All of a sudden her bed felt huge and empty with just her in it. Maybe she could ask him just to lay with her for a few minutes until she fell asleep?

         "Nick?" she found her voice calling before she even realized what she was doing.

         "Yea?" she heard his voice answer back from down the hall.

         "Can you come here?"

         A few seconds later he appeared in the doorway of her bedroom clad only in his boxers. The sight momentarily made her forget her original purpose in asking for him to come into the room. "What did you need?" he asked her.

         Alyssa blushed, now feeling a little bit foolish, but there was no turning back now. "I can't sleep. I was wondering... Do you think that maybe you could just lay here with me until I fall asleep?" she mumbled.

         "You want me to stay here with you until you fall asleep?" he asked sounding a little surprised. "Are you sure?"

         She just nodded her head. "Please?"

         Without another word, Nick crossed the room and pulled back the covers to slip in beside her. He was shocked by Alyssa's request. This was exactly the type of situation I didn't want to get myself into, he told himself as he made himself comfortable. This was bound to get awkward. He decided that he'd only stay until she fell asleep and then go back to the couch. That would be the safest idea for the both of them.

         As he settled closer to her, his earlier question about what she had on underneath her robe was finally answered. He was surprised to discover that she was only wearing a thin black camisole tank top and a pair of boy short underwear. He wasn't quite expecting that.

         She surprised him even further by not hesitating a bit to snuggle herself up against his bare chest. Nick found he had no other choice but to awkwardly wrap his arms around her body and gently stroke her hair. It's not like this is anything sexual, he reminded himself. She's just upset and scared, so enjoy it now while you can. After a few minutes he relaxed and actually found it kind of comforting to have her in his arms again. She still felt familiar to him even after all this time.

         He looked over at her and could tell by the slow rise and fall of her chest that she had finally drifted off to sleep. Very carefully, as not to wake her, he attempted to wrench himself out of her grasp, but soon realized that it was hopeless. There was no way he could get up now without waking her. She needs the sleep, he thought as he looked down at her peaceful figure. I'm better off just staying put.

Closing his eyes, Nick shifted his body trying to make himself comfortable already knowing that he wouldn't be getting much sleep at all that night.