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Author's Chapter Notes:
A night out between friends takes a slightly unexpected turn...

Chapter 21

       A few minutes after 8:00 that night, Nick was at Alyssa's apartment door. He took a deep breath and paused a moment to adjust the collar of his shirt and to nervously run a hand through his hair, before finally knocking. You're acting ridiculous Carter. It's just Alyssa.

"I'll be right there!" he heard Alyssa's voice call from somewhere behind the door. A few seconds later the door opened, revealing Alyssa just slipping a funky looking brown dangly earring in her ear.

"Alyssa… Wow! You look great!" he told her honestly, not being able to tear his eyes away from her figure. Anyone who looked at her would not be able to tell that just this afternoon she had been upset. She was wearing a tight low cut chocolate colored tank top with a pair of black gaucho pants and the same black high heeled sandals she had worn the night before. Her dark hair was styled wild and curly and she was wearing a smoky colored brown eye shadow which added an air of sexiness to her deep brown eyes.

"Thanks. You look great too," she told him as she leaned in to give him a hug.

"Mmm… What are you wearing?" he asked as he breathed in the scent of her sweet perfume. "You smell amazing."

Alyssa just laughed. "Jean Paul Gaultier. I get so many compliments when I wear it. It's so sexy isn't it?

"Yea," he found himself agreeing. It certainly smelled delicious on her. "Are you almost ready to leave?"

She nodded. "Just let me grab my wristlet and we can go."

"All right." Nick stood back and watched her hurry back inside to grab the wallet sized bag. He'd forgotten how beautiful she could look when she put the time into dressing up for an occasion. Not to say that ordinarily she wasn't good looking, but when she really tried she could look so amazing that she could make an entire room of men turn their heads to gawk at her curvaceous figure.

Alyssa found her wristlet and did a quick survey of the apartment to make sure she wasn't forgetting anything. She looked up to see Nick's eyes glued to her, staring at her in a way that she couldn't even seem to describe. "What? Why are you looking at me like that?"

"Like what?" Nick asked, seeming to snap out of a trance.

"Like how you just were a minute ago."

"I was just wondering if you picked out where we are going tonight?" It was a weak lie, but it was the best that he had to offer her.

         "Well, dinner is up to you, wherever you want to go, but I was thinking afterwards we can go to this place called McFadden's. I've been there a few times and whenever I go I seem to have a really good time, so I figured it might be fun. Before I moved into the city I used to take the train in with some friends and go every once in a while. I haven't been there since July though. Stephanie dragged me out for my birthday and we wound up there," she explained as she made sure to lock her apartment door. "Sound good to you?"

         "Yea, it sounds great." He really couldn't be too picky when he had told her that she could pick the place. "Ready?"

         Alyssa nodded and took his arm as they headed down the hall. Surprisingly she all of a sudden did feel excited to go out and party. Nick was right. She had been working too hard lately. She really did need to just let loose and have some fun for once. She deserved it.

         They decided to grab dinner at a small bar and grill type restaurant not far from Alyssa's apartment. Since they had went out for a fancy dinner only the previous night, they both decided a more low key place would be better. After dinner and a few drinks they finally decided that it was late enough to proceed on to the bar.

         McFadden's turned out to be a lot different from the high profile clubs that Nick was used to, but not altogether disappointing for him. In fact, he imagined it to be the type of place that he might hang out on a Saturday night with his friends if he was just another normal guy. It was pretty small and he was surprised to find the bar so packed. After paying their ten dollar cover charge, which Nick insisted on paying for Alyssa, the two started to inch their way towards the bar, which was already overcrowded with people.

         Nick paused to take in his surroundings. A few feet from the bar there was a dance floor set up which also seemed packed. From somewhere above a DJ was playing songs, but unlike most clubs Nick went to the music was more than just the current most popular hip hop and dance tunes. He almost laughed once he heard the music change from "Sugar We're Going Down" by Fall Out Boy to "Cotton Eye Joe." Was the DJ on crack or something?

         Alyssa laughed as she noticed the perplexed look on his face. "The music they play here is totally random, but its great when you're drunk," she explained, leaning her head closer to his in order to be heard over the music.

         They continued to forge their way towards the bar for drinks. Just as they reached it, a girl standing next to them turned around and her eyes lit up in recognition in their direction. She let out a little squeal so shrill that she almost dropped her beer. Great I haven't been here two minutes and I've already been recognized, Nick thought.

         He almost fell over in surprise when the girl appeared to walk right past him and nearly jumped on Alyssa embracing her in a tight hug. "Oh my God! Sweetie what are you doing here?!" she asked, as she kissed Alyssa twice on each one of her cheeks. It was clear that she had definitely had more than a few beers before.

         Nick laughed at Alyssa's horrified expression on her face. "Just out for a good time. What are you doing all the way out here?" she politely asked, all the while her eyes pleading with Nick's to save her.

         "My friends birthday. It's turning out to be a wild night!" The music suddenly changed again to  Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer" causing the drunk girl to squeal obnoxiously again. "I LOOOOVE this song! I'm going to go dance!" she told Alyssa, kissing her on the cheek one last time. "Come by later though. We have a table in the back!"

         "I'll uhh... do that," Alyssa called after her as the girl danced away.

         "You know that girl?" Nick asked, after she had left, clearly amused at the scene that had just transpired.

         Alyssa rolled her eyes. "Not really. I mean we went to school together and we were in some of the same classes, but we weren't exactly friends. She's never given me such a big hello, like that before. I think she was just pretty wasted."

         Nick laughed bending his head down closer to her ear. "I thought any minute she was going to stick her tongue down your throat. Now that would've been hot."

         Alyssa playfully smacked him. " You wish! Now get your mind out of the gutter and buy me a drink."

         "Aren't we the pushy one?" he teased as he caught the bartenders attention. "I'll have a Corona. What do you want, Alyssa?"

         "A vodka and cranberry," she told the bartender, leaning over the bar. "Heavy on the vodka."

         Nick watched as the bartender smirked at her. "Looking to get drunk tonight?" he asked.

         "Maybe...," Alyssa answered him with a sexy grin. Nick couldn't help, but feel a little jealous that she seemed to be flirting so openly in front of him with the bartender, but then again it wasn't as if he owned her. She had every right to flirt with whoever she wanted.

         "So maybe I'll see you dancing on the bar later tonight?" the bartender continued, not even bothering to conceal the fact that he was staring right at Alyssa's exposed cleavage.

         Alyssa shrugged. "Perhaps. We'll just have to see about that."

         "I certainly hope so," he answered, as he prepared her drink, pouring a generous amount of vodka in the glass. "That enough for you?"

         "It's perfect. Thanks." She flashed him another grin as he finished getting their drinks and Nick paid him.

         "No wonder it took so long to get drinks," Nick grumbled, as they stepped away from the bar. "If he stops to flirt with every girl like that..."

         Alyssa just laughed. Is he jealous? she wondered. She kind of liked the idea, the more she thought about it. Usually she was always the jealous one. It felt good to have the tables turned for once. There was no way she could let this one go. "Aww... What's wrong Nicky? Are you jealous?" she teased him.

         "Why would I be jealous? The guy was an asshole! Did you see the way he was trying to look down your shirt?"

         "Like you've never held a conversation with a girl where you were practically talking to their boobs?"

         Nick had to admit she had him there. "Ok, I'm only human, but I just didn't like the way he was looking at you.

         "Somebody's jealous!" she sang out, but then froze as the fact finally hit her. If he's jealous of me flirting with another guy that would mean that he must have some kind of feelings for me, right?  she asked herself. The thought both scared her and thrilled her all at the same time. This was what she had hoped for! But then again the realization that he could be falling back in love with her too was scary. Was she really ready to give things a second try with him?
         I think I need more alcohol,
she thought as she gulped down her drink, trying to suppress her emotions. This was not how she wanted the night to go. Tonight was supposed to be just about the two of them going out and having an awesome time and there was no way she was going to let her awkward feelings get in the way.

         Nick leaned back against the bar and gazed at Alyssa out on the dance floor, grinding provocatively up on some random guy who had asked her to dance. In the almost two hours they had been at the bar so far, Alyssa had barely sat out one dance. The guys had been flocking towards her all night. She seemed to be having the time of her life. There's only one guy she hasn't danced with tonight and that's me.

         As he continued to watch her he found himself growing increasingly jealous of the guy she happened to be dancing with. He should be the one up there with her. Closing his eyes for a moment he could practically feel her hips up against his and his arms encircling her waist. The thought almost made him groan in frustration. She came here with me tonight yet she's spent all her time with other guys.

         He supposed he deserved her ignoring him. The tables seemed to turned from that night in California when he had hooked up with those two girls, and Nick found that he didn't like the feeling at all. Man, karma REALLY is a bitch.

         Usually Nick would be out on the dance floor himself trying to pick up as many girls as he could, but tonight for some reason he had chosen to lay back and keep an eye on Alyssa. There were probably a lot of pervy guys around wanting to get a piece of her, he reasoned. So, he had spent most of his night by the bar quietly nursing beers.

         "What's a guy like you doing standing there all by yourself?" a cute looking blonde asked as she approached him. "Don't you want to dance?"

         "Nahh, I'm good," he replied. What was wrong with him? He never turned down a dance from a good looking blonde.

         The blonde pouted. "You sure?"

         "Yea. Maybe later," he gently put her off. A few other girls had asked if he would dance with them and even though Alyssa had kept urging him to dance with someone, he just wasn't in the mood. There was only one girl he wanted to dance with. And she had seemed to have forgotten that he was even there.
         A few minutes later Alyssa staggered over to him breathing heavily from all the dancing. She slammed her empty cocktail glass on top of the bar and reached out to grab Nick's half full bottle of beer from his hand. He stood in shock as he watched her chug it down like a pro.

         "Ah! That hit the spot!" she exclaimed as she finished it and placed the empty bottle on the bar. "Sorry. All this dancing made me thirsty!"

         Nick still looked stunned. Finally he managed to stammer out, "That was my beer!"

         " So, I'll buy you another one. Stop whining," she told him.

         "But, you don't even like beer."

         "At this point I can't even taste it," she shouted into his ear. She had drank quite a few vodka and cranberry's by this point and Nick began to notice that she was starting to get a little tipsy, which to him didn't exactly seem like a bad thing. She was so serious most of the time that when she was drinking it was like a rare glimpse into her fun loving side that he really wished would come out more often.

         "Hey Mike!" she called to the bartender.

         Since when are they on a first name basis?
Nick suspiciously wondered.

         "Can you get me another Corona for my friend here?" she continued.

         "For you? Anything sweetheart," Mike replied as he went into the cooler to pull one out.

         "You really don't have to buy me another one Lyss," he insisted. "I'm supposed to be buying the drinks tonight, remember?"

         "It's only one beer Nick. Besides you've paid for everything this whole weekend. The least I can do is buy you a drink."

         Nick sighed. He could already see that he was not going to win this one. "Fine. I give up. You pay for the beer."

         Alyssa smiled triumphantly and paid Mike for the drink., just as "Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy" by Big and Rich began to play from the DJ booth. "Ha!" she laughed. "I love this song! It's so cheesy."

         The DJ's voice boomed out over the song. "I see a lot of hot, sexy, ladies in the house tonight. Let's try to make a new record tonight and see just how many girls we can get to dance up on the bar tonight! C'mon ladies... Free drinks for all of you who get up there!"

         Nick was amazed as he watched a handful of girls climb up onto the bar. He'd seen some pretty wild things at clubs, but this looked like something straight out of that movie Coyote Ugly. He could already count a good ten or so girls up there with a few more on their way.

         Alyssa could read the shocked expression on his face and laughed. "I forgot to explain to you that its kind of a tradition at this bar to try to see how many girls they can cram up on the bar at once. It's pretty wild to see. Last time I was here I think they got about thirty."

         "Thirty?!" he echoed, almost choking on his beer. "Is that bar even big enough?"

         "Apparently. You'd be surprised."

         Nick smirked. "And would you know this from personal experience?" he asked.

         She almost laughed out loud at the absurdity of what he was getting at. "Who? Me? Dance on top of a bar? I think I'd have to be pretty drunk for that."

         "I think you are a little drunk, Alyssa. For a girl who can't stand beer you sure chugged mine down pretty quickly," he continued to tease.

         Her cheeks flushed. "I thought we were over the damn beer already."

         "So you've never danced on a bar before?"

         "No I swear." As soon as the words left her mouth she knew that was going to regret them.

         Nick's eyes lit up devilishly. "Well, there's a first time for everything. Get up there!"

         "No!" she protested. "You know I can't!"

         "Why not? Are you scared?" Nick knew it was a little mean to push her like this, but she had no idea how bad he wanted to see her up there dancing. It was the least she could for him after ignoring him the whole night.

         "I'm not scared. Just shy."

         "You didn't look so shy on the dance floor with those guys earlier," he pointed out. "Come on I dare you to!" When she still didn't respond he stuck out his lower lip, pleadingly. "You know I came out here all the way from LA and the least you can do is dance on the bar for me."

         Alyssa almost had to laugh at his pathetic attempt to guilt her. Glancing up at the bar she saw that there were a lot of girls on there by now. Not like she'd really stick out too much if she climbed up there and the song was already half over. I suppose I owe it to him, she thought to herself. "Ok, I'll do it! But you're going to have to give me a boost up there. Just try not to touch my ass."

         "Like I would ever dream of it," Nick said, pretending to look insulted as he stepped forward and placed his hand on the small of her back to help push her up onto the bar. Once she was up there and steady he purposely let his hand drift downwards. Hey, I'm the wrong person to tell NOT to do something, he reasoned.

         Alyssa turned around and covered her mouth feigning shock at his wandering hands. She almost laughed as he held up his hands and shrugged as if to say, "Sorry, I couldn't help myself." Secretly she was kind of delighted at his flirty behavior and touching. Maybe it was the alcohol, but it made her feel sexy and desirable, two things that she hadn't felt in a very long time. Of course it probably meant nothing to him. Two friends just messing around could easily be misconstrued as flirting, but she could pretend right? Nick would never have to know what she was thinking.

         It took her a few moments to get used to the feeling of being up on the bar and at first she felt ridiculous, but after a few seconds her dancer's instinct kicked in. She found that it really was no different than dancing on a stage. After a few jerky movements she felt a cold beer being thrust into her hand. After taking a gulp of it and realizing that no one was really staring at her directly (well besides Nick) she finally allowed herself to get into the music. Before long she was dancing just as confidently as she had been on the dance floor earlier that night.

         As Nick gazed up at her he couldn't help, but to feel amazed as he drank in her every movement. He was actually quite shocked that she had actually went up there. He was only intending to tease her, to see how far he could push her. The Alyssa he used to know never would've climbed up on that bar to dance under any circumstances. He couldn't say that he was disappointed in this new boldness within her. Granted, it had taken some persuading, but in the end choice had been hers. Just the fact that she could let go and not worry about way others thought about her, seemed to make her even more attractive in Nick's eyes. If he had to pick the most beautiful girl on that bar just then, it would be Alyssa hands down. She may not have been as sexy looking as some of the other girls, but there was just some kind of natural luminosity about her that made her stand out to him. Of course maybe he was just biased.

         The song finally ended and Nick offered her his hand to help her down from the bar. Alyssa accepted and hopped down onto the floor, grinning widely as she gasped for air. She took another few sips of her beer before she spoke, "I thought I told you not to touch my ass?"

         "Sorry," he apologized with a smirk. "My hands must've slipped."

         "I bet," she said rolling her eyes as the song changed. As soon the new music started, Alyssa's eyes instantly lit up. " I LOVE this song!"

         "I don't think I know it," Nick found himself replying with a frown.

         "So? Who cares? Dance with me!" Before Nick could even try to argue she had grabbed his arm and was dragging him towards the dance floor.

Here we are so what you gonna do
Do I gotta spell it out for you
I can see that you got other plans for tonight
But I don't really care

  Size me up you know I beat the best
Tick tock on time to rest
Let them say what their gonna say
But tonight I just don't really care

       I'm finally getting the chance that I've been waiting for all night, Nick realized as he finally gave in. He was finally going to get to be the one out there dancing with her. Once they got settled into the crowd of people he wrapped his arms around her waist as they began to dance.

Come on baby we aint gonna live forever
Let me show you all the things that we could do
You know I wanna be together
And I wanna spend the night with you
With you
Come with me tonight
We could make the night last forever

       It became apparent through Alyssa's movements that she was still high off her performance on the bar earlier. Whether it was the alcohol, the music, the atmosphere, or a combination of all three, she seemed completely relaxed as she moved with the rhythm of the music, seemingly unaware of the closeness of each others bodies.

I've seen it all I've got nothing to prove
Come on baby just make your move
Follow me lets leave it all behind tonight
Like me just don't care

Let me take you on the ride of your life
That's what I said alright
They can say what they wanna say
cuz tonight I just don't even care

        Much to Nick's surprise it was Alyssa that seemed to make the first move. As she fell deeper into the music her dancing became increasingly more alluring. She seemed to forget that it was Nick she was dancing with, and with a playful grin she took a step closer to him and seductively began to grind her hips against his. Nick was taken by her sudden boldness, but gladly reciprocated. Might as well take full advantage of the moment while it lasts, he decided, pulling her closer to him.

Come on baby we aint gonna live forever
Let me show you all the things that we could do
You know I wanna be together
And I wanna spend the night with you
With you
Come with me tonight
We could make the night last forever

        It didn't take long for Alyssa to realize that Nick had not only become a lot better dancer on stage, but on the dance floor as well. After only a few short moments the two of them seemed to find their rhythm together and it almost began to feel to her that nothing had changed between the two of them. Except the fact that Nick was a much better dancer now. I really should've asked him to dance earlier, she realized.

Lets pretend your mine
We could just pretend, we could just pretend, yeah yeah
You got what I like
You got what I like, I got what you like
Oh come on
Just one taste and you'll want more
So tell me what your waiting for

       What happened next appeared to Alyssa like it was happening in slow motion. One minute they were laughing and dancing freely against each other as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Then something changed. She couldn't exactly pinpoint what it was exactly, but she all of a sudden became very aware of the closeness of their bodies and the way in which they were moving. She'd hardly noticed that she had stopped dancing until Nick looked down at her expectantly.

       She gazed up into his eyes and was sure at that moment whatever it was that had come over her, he felt it too. They just stood there for a moment, staring at each other. He was so close, just then. Maybe a little too close for comfort. Her heart began to pound in her chest as she realized how close their lips were.

       And before another thought could cross her mind, they were drawing nearer. She closed her eyes in anticipation as his mouth finally came crashing down on hers. Hungrily, she responded as her arms snaked around his neck. Yea, they had shared that one kiss on his tour bus back in July, but it was incomparable to this one. This time, it was much more than just a simple curiosity between the two of them. This kiss  was fueled by some kind of hidden tension that had been brewing between them for quite some time now. And finally it had become impossible for either one of them to ignore it.

Come on baby we aint gonna live forever
Let me show you all the things that we could do
You know I wanna be together
And I wanna spend the night with you
With you
Come with me tonight
We could make the night last forever

       As the song continued to play on, the two of them continued to stand still and kiss totally oblivious to the other people dancing around them. At that moment, it felt as if they were the only two people in the world to Alyssa, and she couldn't care less if people were stopping to stare at them.

       Finally the song began to fade, reminding her that they were still on the dance floor in a small, overcrowded, New York City bar. She pulled away for a moment and whispered breathlessly in his ear, "Come on. Let's get out of here."

       Nick did not have to be told twice.

*Featured lyrics from "4ever" by The Veronica's