"I'd like three scoops of chocolate ice cream with hot fudge, M&M's, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream," Alyssa ordered at the counter of the ice cream shop that she and Izzy had agreed to meet up at.
The two women really hadn't seen much of each other in the past few weeks. Obviously Alyssa had been caught up with her own problems with Nick and Izzy had been busy doing baby things with Tristan. Finally finding a spare moment, (and having a craving for mint chocolate chip ice cream) Izzy had called Alyssa up for a girls day out starting with ice cream sundaes.
"Damn Alyssa! Think you ordered enough ice cream?" Izzy sarcastically asked."You know I have a reason for eating like a pig. I'm pregnant. What's your excuse? Are you sure you're not hiding something from me?"
Alyssa could feel the blood drain from her face. "Don't even say that," she muttered. She was fully aware that her friend was only teasing her and the odds that she could be pregnant weren't very high. Although she hadn't yet gotten her period, it was due any day now, hence the reason for her ice cream binge. And she and Nick had used a condom. It was just the thought of her being pregnant on top of the complicated situation that struck a nerve with her. Of course Izzy had no clue what had been going on. For all she knew it was probably just a completely innocent comment.
"You do know that was a joke, right?" her friend asked. Evidently Alyssa hadn't done the best job in playing off the comment. "You look like you just saw a ghost or something. Did I say something wrong?"
"No, I'm fine," she attempted to brush off the comment as she paid for her ice cream and carried it over to the nearest table with Izzy.
"You're not fine Alyssa. There's no reason you would get so freaked out unless... it could actually be a possibility. You've been sleeping with someone!"
Alyssa shook her head. She had forgotten how well that Izzy could read her. "I'm not sleeping with anyone," she lied.
"You're such a horrible liar Alyssa! Come on you can tell me. I want details. Being pregnant definitely puts a bit of a damper on your sex life, so now I need to live vicariously through other people. Who is he? Where did you meet? Was it just a one night stand or is this an ongoing thing?"
She sighed. There was no use lying to Izzy anymore. She knew that Izzy would not let the subject drop until she got answers. She was just nervous because for the past few weeks she'd kept Nick a secret. She hadn't told anyone about his weekend in New York and she wasn't exactly sure how Izzy would take it. Nick wasn't really her favorite person lately. "Ok. I'll tell you, but you have to promise me that you won't get mad."
Izzy grinned triumphantly. "Why would I be mad? Unless its Tristan you've been sleeping with. Then I'd have to beat your ass down."
Alyssa laughed. "I can promise you its not Tristan." She took a deep breath before finally blurting out, "I slept with Nick."
At first there was no reaction from Izzy and Alyssa wondered if it had been a good idea to tell her in the first place. After a few moments Izzy finally managed to squeak out, "Excuse me, but did you just say you slept with Nick? As in your ex Nick? As in my old best friend who is now a complete and total man whore?"
"Uhmm... Yea?" she responded, biting her lip.
"Okay you have a lot of explaining to do Missy. The last I knew of I thought that you totally agreed with me and had lost all respect for him after seeing firsthand what an asshole he can be. God... I can't believe after all that you had sex with him! How did this happen?"
"Well, its a bit of a long story..." Alyssa said, stalling for time.
"We have all afternoon, so start talking," Izzy demanded. She couldn't believe how this had happened. How could Alyssa have slept with him after everything he had done to her. She'd lost so much respect for Nick during the last few years. Starting with the moment that she'd caught him at a hotel, embracing another woman, while he was supposedly dating Alyssa...
This has been a sensational weekend, Izzy thought to herself as she and Tristan had headed down towards the hotel lobby to check out. The two had wanted a little "alone time" so they had checked in to a hotel in Fort Lauderdale for a little weekend getaway. It had been such a relief to not have to worry about anyone, but themselves. Granted it wasn't like they had went on some far off vacation, but it had been relaxing just to get a little change of scenery.
"Hey Iz, isn't that your friend Nick over there?" Tristan's voice interrupted her thoughts.
"Where?" she asked, looking a little bewildered. Why would he be in Fort Lauderdale? Kevin hadn't mentioned anything about the guys having any business there, which is exactly why she had considered a perfect location for her and Tristan to spend their weekend.
"In the cafe over there," he pointed out.
Curiously Izzy craned her neck in the direction of the cafe to see Nick seated at a table across from an attractive looking blonde woman. "Yea. That looks like him."
"Wonder who's the girl he's with?" Tristan's thoughts seemed to echo the same ones that were going through Izzy's head. "A relative or something?"
Izzy frowned. "No. I know all of his family and I'm positive I've never seen that girl in my life." She gasped just as she saw him reach over and embrace his companion. It definitely was more than a friendly hug. The girl seemed upset and looked as if Nick was even rubbing her shoulders. "Did you see that?!"
"Just because he hugged her doesn't mean anything," he argued.
"That was more than a hug!" she insisted. "Look at the way he's still holding her. There's something going on there."
"There has to be some sort of reasonable explanation. I mean maybe she's a friend who is upset or a fan or.... Wait! Where are you going?"
Izzy was already heading towards the entrance of the cafe. "I'm going to go over and say hi. And then demand for an explanation."
Tristan grabbed her arm before she could go any farther. "Bad idea. You're best bet is to pretend we didn't see them."
"What? I see one of my best friends boyfriend canoodling with another woman and I'm just supposed to ignore it? I don't think so!"
"But you have no proof Iz! It's not your place. Besides isn't Nick one of your best friends too?"
"Yea," she admitted. "Well, at least he used to be. After hearing how he cheated on Alyssa and now seeing him here with another woman... I feel like he's this completely different person than the Nick I used to know."
"Look, you're obviously angry and upset for Alyssa, but making a scene is not going to help. Let's just leave like nothing ever happened and if you really want to talk to Nick about it, why don't you try doing it when you calmed down a little. This is not the time or place for it."
"Alyssa can handle it on her own. If they really are having trouble the last thing they need is you sticking your nose into their troubles and causing more problems."
Izzy sighed, knowing that she was defeated. "Fine. You're right," she agreed as she walked away with her boyfriend. But her eyes were still locked on the fading sight of Nick and the mystery woman sitting in the cafe. She didn't care what Tristan said. Something was going on there and she swore to herself that she'd find out.
"So, are you going to tell me how the two of you wound up miraculously sleeping together or not?" Izzy asked, sounding impatient.
Alyssa ignored her friend's sarcasm and started to spill out the story knowing that it was too late now to let things go unexplained. "Well, when we left California I was really pissed at him and hurt that he dumped me for those two dumb sluts and I pretty much told him that either he cleaned up his act or he could kiss our friendship goodbye. I even accused him of putting his sex life before his friendships."
"Can't say I disagree with you there. I've tried telling him the same thing before, but he was too goddamn stubborn to listen. Of course I obviously don't have the hold over him that you do."
"Yea, well apparently after I told him off he got really pissed off at me and decided that to spite me he was just going to party harder and be even more of a man whore, not really realizing that it was only going to hurt him in the end. Evidently, the guys began to get a little worried about him because he was showing up to concerts hung over and he wasn't being dependable and stuff, so they tried to talk to him about it. AJ actually pulled him aside and pretty much told him that he was headed down the same track that he had been down during the Black and Blue tour," she continued.
"I'm glad he did," Izzy commented. "Not like it probably made a difference to him though."
"At first it didn't. He told him to stay out of his life and he wasn't like him and all that. So the guys kind of shut him out a lot because he was such a nasty person to be around. Then on one of the last dates of the tour something clicked. He realized that his behavior wasn't getting him anywhere. He'd already lost friendships with you and me and was in danger of losing the closest thing to a family he really has. He finally realized that his 'fun' was hurting everyone around him and by going out and being Mr. Pop star he was isolating himself more and more. So when he got home from the tour he called me to apologize."
"How come I didn't get an apology?"
Alyssa ignored her friends question. "He told me was really sorry for the way he acted in California and he understood how pissed I was after spending all my money to fly out there and surprise him. So he offered to come up to New York for a weekend to sort of make it up to me."
"Sounds like he made it up to you all right. So how did the two of you wind up in bed?" It was obvious that Izzy's impatience was getting the best of her.
Alyssa shrugged. "I'm not even sure myself. It was such an emotional weekend because out of nowhere he was being such a sweet guy. And no... It was not just because he wanted to get laid," she added, already anticipating Izzy's comeback. "He was right by me when my car got stolen and I guess we just really swept up in old emotions. It's complicated."
"Wow... So you're sure you're not just the flavor of the week?" Izzy asked, finally seeming to see the complexity of the situation.
"I think its more than that. Since then we've only talked on the phone once or twice, but he's told me that he's just as confused as I am. We both obviously enjoyed it. It's just deciding where to go next."
"And where do you want it to go?"
Alyssa appeared a little thrown by the question. She'd been asking herself that for some time now. "I'm not sure," she sighed. "I mean I'd love it if we could just pick up where we left off, but so much has happened since then. I'd really like a relationship, but I'm not sure if that's what Nick really wants."
"What makes you say that?" Izzy tried probing.
"Just some of the things he's said. Everything that's happened with his parents has really fucked him up and I think quite frankly he's scared. He hasn't had the best success rate with relationships either. And then there's the whole Katie situation he had to go through... I don't think he's ready to go through any of that again. It's easier for him to go from girl to girl with no strings attached," she explained. "Besides with him finishing up the tour and stuff he doesn't have time to start anything."
"So, what's going to happen when he comes back? Are you going to pretend like it never happened or are you going to continue to hook up, or what?"
"Again, I don't know. I'm totally clueless and all I know is what I feel. We were talking the next morning and I was pretty confused and trying to sort everything out and he told me that sometimes in life you don't know what's going to happen and its not such a tragedy. So, that's kind of my attitude about the whole thing. I'm just going to see where it takes me. I'm not killing myself trying to define our relationship. It is what it is. Whether we turn out to be a couple or fuck buddies or whatever, its something that's worth exploring, right?"
Izzy gave Alyssa a strange look. Since when is Alyssa so relaxed about a situation like this? she wondered. Alyssa had to be the worlds most anal person. Under normal circumstances she'd be overanalyzing what had happened between her and Nick to no end, but now she wanted to just "see where it takes her?"
"What?" Alyssa asked, finally picking up on Izzy's expression.
"Nothing," she quickly lied.
Alyssa narrowed her eyes. "Then why are you looking at me like I'm crazy?"
Izzy sighed, finally giving in. "It's just that I can't picture you being the type of person who would be satisfied with a purely physical relationship. Especially one with Nick. There's too much history there to not get emotionally attached again."
"But maybe it wouldn't just be physical. Maybe it could turn into something more," she argued. "I'm just saying that I don't stress over it. Whatever happens, happens and if we're meant to wind up together it'll happen naturally."
Izzy still looked doubtful, but decided to let the subject drop. Even though she wasn't sure if she agreed with her friend's optimistic outlook on her future with Nick, she also knew that there would be no getting through to her. Clearly, Alyssa's feelings for Nick had become much stronger than Izzy had imagined throughout the past few weeks. Izzy just hoped that Alyssa knew what she was getting into. She began to wonder to herself if Nick felt just as strongly, or was he just leading Alyssa on, using her attachment to him to his own advantage.
Hmm... Maybe I'll have to try talking to Nick and find out what's going on from his perspective, she decided. She'd always tried not to let her friendships with the both Nick and Alyssa interfere with their relationship, but of course there were always exceptions...
"Izzy? What are you doing here? You never just drop by unannounced like this," Nick asked skeptically as he opened the front door of his home.
"How about we try that again, only this time you try actually being polite," Izzy said in an icy tone, her arms crossed over her chest.
Nick rolled his eyes. "Good morning Isabelle. To what do I owe this great pleasure of your visit today?"
Izzy ignored his sarcasm and pushed her way inside before getting into her intentions of exactly why she had decided to stop by. "I want to know exactly what happened last night between you and Alyssa that caused her to call me up hysterically crying, blubbering about how you just decided to break up with her right out of the blue."
Judging from the exasperated expression on Nick's face, Izzy could tell that he really didn't want to talk about it, but there was no way she was leaving without answers. Seeing him at the hotel with the mysterious blonde had made her suspicious enough, but now breaking up with Alyssa just when it seemed like everything was fine? Somehow Izzy had a feeling that perhaps the two events were somehow connected and she wanted answers.
"I don't think there's anything to tell. We broke up. That seems pretty evident," he finally answered.
"I know that part! What I want to know is why? Why break up with Alyssa now? The two of you seemed to finally be patching things up again. So why would you do that to her without even giving her a good reason?" she continued to interrogate.
"Not that my relationship with Alyssa is any of your business, but I did give her a reason. I told her that things just weren't working out. They weren't how they were when he first started dating. It was too strained," he tried explaining.
Now it was Izzy's turn to roll her eyes. "Of course things are strained. You cheated on her! How the hell is she supposed to act? You can't just forget something like that."
"If you came here to try to convince me to change my mind you might as well turn around and go back home," Nick motioned towards the door.
"I didn't come to 'change your mind.' I came to get an understanding of why you did what you did to Alyssa, so that maybe I could get a grip on this whole situation, but quite frankly I'm just as confused as her! That excuse is such bullshit Nick! Its you being lazy and not wanting to work through the tough points in a relationship."
Nick shrugged. "Maybe it is. Look, Alyssa and I... We're not meant to be. It's just not going to happen for us and I know that you're disappointed because you're the one that brought us together in the first place. but you have to face reality. We're over with."
His aloofness about the whole situation made Izzy's blood begin to boil under her skin. She was so enraged that all the composure she had piled up before approaching him began to crumble. "Funny how just a few weeks ago you were practically begging Alyssa to take you back and now you two are just giving up out of nowhere.This wouldn't by any chance have to do with a certain blonde that you met last week for a secret rendezvous at a Fort Lauderdale hotel, would it?" She watched as Nick struggled to protest before cutting him off, "And don't try to deny it. I saw you with my own two eyes."
Nick's face paled and Izzy was sure that she had struck a nerve. She hadn't anticipated dragging out that incident, but it had slipped out of her mouth before she could even consider it. "H-how do you know about that?" he weakly asked.
"Nick, I really thought by now with all your experience in the cheating department you'd know better than to actually have lunch with one of your little whores right out in the hotel cafe where anyone could see. Tristan and I just happened to be staying at the same hotel for a little weekend getaway and we spotted you," she explained. "I wanted to go over and say something to you, but Tristan held me back. Lucky for you."
"It's not at all what you think," he replied as he sank back on the couch, clearly shocked that Izzy had caught him.
"I'm sure," she answered. "I saw you two hugging. It seemed a little too friendly from my vantage point. So who was she? A fan? Someone you just picked up at a bar? An old friend?"
Nick gripped the armrest on the couch steadily. "That was Katie."
"Katie?!" Izzy screeched. "As in the same Katie you cheated on Alyssa with? What's she doing here? I thought you were done with her!"
"We had something we needed to discuss," he mumbled before taking a deep breath. "If I tell you, you need to promise me you will not say a word about this to anyone. Not Kevin or any of the other guys, not Tristan, and especially not Alyssa. Got it?"
"Ok, I got it," she agreed as she sat down beside him on the couch. Nick sounded dead serious which was rare for him. This had to be something extremely important.
"Katie asked me to meet with her because she's pregnant. She's moving to the US to have the baby and... it's mine," he choked out.
Izzy's eyes widened. "Are you positive about this Nick? I mean she could be making this all up, or maybe she is and she's trying to pin it on you for publicity?"
Nick shook his head. "I don't think so Izzy. She seemed way too scared and she actually offered to have a paternity test done."
"What are you going to do?"
"I don't know," he answered. "She isn't even after me to be a part of the baby's life or anything. She said its up to me. I couldn't handle a child right now, but I also can't turn my back knowing that there's a part of me out there."
Izzy nodded sympathetically. "Does this have anything to do with why you broke up with Alyssa?"
"Guilty," he admitted. "I'm lucky she took me back after I cheated on her. Things are complicated enough between us already. If she found out that on top of everything Katie got pregnant it would kill her. I figured the best thing to do would be to let her go before she got hurt even worse. Yea, she probably thinks I'm an asshole now, but she's better off without me. It might take her a while to realize it, but it really is for the best."
Izzy could already feel her heart starting to soften. "You really do love her, don't you?"
"Yea. I do," he quietly replied. "I love her so much that I can't stand to see her get hurt. She deserves better anyway. I'm doing her a favor."
She bit her lip, trying to resist the urge to argue with him. Even though she disagreed with his logic, now was definitely not the time to fight.
"Iz, what am I going to do?" he asked her, almost looking like a little boy again. "I'm scared."
Izzy tossed her previous anger aside and reached forward to hug him. Yea, he'd totally fucked things up with Alyssa, but she could tell he genuinely was sorry for it all. In the end, he was still one of her best friends. She only wished there was something she could say to him to ease his fears, but she couldn't seem to think of anything. The only words of reassurance she could give him were, "I won't tell anyone Nick. Your secret's safe with me."
Ok, so maybe she had let that secret slip... What could she say? She had a big mouth.
But then again it isn't easy keeping secrets from one of your best friends, especially when they are visibly hurt... Being the middle man in Alyssa and Nick's relationship wasn't easy. Maybe she'd be better to stay out of this one after all.
"So, how about we start on that shopping?" she asked Alyssa, vowing to steer clear of the topic of Nick for the rest of the afternoon.