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Author's Chapter Notes:
Nick and Alysa invite Kevin and Melanie over for dinner.
Chapter 44

The pressure in between Alyssa’s temples was clearly evident before she even opened up her eyes the next morning. Her body arched as she stretched out her sore muscles and a tired groan erupted from her mouth when her eyelids fluttered open. Immediately, she buried her head back into her pillow. “Ugh, why is it so bright in here?”

“Morning sleepyhead. How are you feeling?” she heard Nick’s voice ask from beside her.

“Like crap,” she replied. “What the hell did I have to drink last night?”

Nick smirked as he rolled over onto his side. “Almost an entire pitcher of margaritas. And that was only at dinner.”

This produced another groan from Alyssa. “I’m never drinking tequila again. The last time I was this hung over was two years ago. I went out with some friends from work and wound up doing shots that I later learned were Irish car bombs. Evidently whiskey and Malibu rum don’t sit well together, as I learned the hard way.” She finally forced her eyes back open realizing that she was dressed in only her undergarments from the night before. That was typical of her when she was drinking heavily. She’d always manage to get about half her clothes off before just giving up and passing out. “I didn’t do anything last night really embarrassing that I should know about, right?”

“Well, you did announce rather loudly to the whole club that you and I had just ‘had a quickie’ upstairs in the VIP lounge…”

“No way! I would never do something like that,” she insisted. “You’re making that up!”

Nick gave her a shrug of his shoulders. “Well, you did, and I have four other witnesses that’ll back me up on it. It was just a tad bit embarrassing.”

Alyssa sighed, looking defeated. ”Okay, I’ll have to take your word for it. Anything else?”

“Nothing too bad. You just stumbled a lot and giggled and said stupid things. Oh, yea… And you got up and sang karaoke, but you weren’t alone. You, Tricia, and Teri got up and sang ‘Man I Feel Like a Woman.’ Nick’s eyes glazed a little as his mind recalled the events of the night before. “But Howie stole the show there.”

“Howie? What do you mean?” she asked, not really remembering this part of the night too well.

Nick chuckled to himself at the memory. “Well, I don’t know what Teri told him, but she whispered a few words in his ear and he jumped up with you girls and sang the whole damn song. Rather loudly too. Especially on those ‘Oh, oh, oh,’ parts. It was actually pretty entertaining.”

Alyssa had to laugh. “I think I vaguely remember that. Knowing Teri she probably bribed him with a blow job or something. That reminds me. I had the strangest dream last night involving karaoke. You and AJ were singing ‘Like a Virgin’ and dancing around and acting all gay and stuff. It was really bizarre!”

Now it was Nick’s turn to look embarrassed. “Well, uhmm actually that wasn’t a dream. AJ and I actually did go up and sing ‘Like a Virgin,’ but only because the rest of you signed us up to sing it without letting us know about it. And at least I can use the excuse that I had been drinking. I don’t know about AJ though. Maybe he had too many Red Bulls or something.”

“Wait… I think I remember now Howie filming the whole thing on his phone. He mentioned something about using it as blackmail…”

Nick groaned. “Great! I guarantee that shit is up on YouTube as we speak.”

“What’s wrong? You mean you don’t want to be the next internet sensation?” she giggled. “It’s like an assured spot on the next episode of Web Junk 20.”

“Like I need any more publicity after yesterday afternoon,” he quickly muttered.

Not wanting to get into the sore topic again, Alyssa changed the subject. “Well, I’m glad that I wasn’t too embarrassing. Honestly you know I don’t normally drink that much. I guess it’s pretty hypocritical because I was trying to lecture you on your drinking and I’m here one night and I already got completely wasted. So, I guess I really shouldn’t talk.”

Nick just shrugged. “You’re entitled to get drunk every once in a while. I won’t hold it against you or anything.”

Alyssa rolled over onto her back and attempted to sit up, but the pain in her head made the task too difficult for her. “Nick, can you do me a favor?” she asked in a little voice.

“Depends on what it is.”

“Can you get up and get me some Advil or something? My head feels like its going to explode.”

His face immediately went into a pout. “But I don’t want to get up.”

“Please,” she begged. “I don’t know where you keep it.”

“In the bathroom medicine cabinet, third shelf.”

“You’re closer though. And I’m your guest. Aren’t you supposed to be waiting on me?”

Nick sighed as he swung his legs over the side of the bed. “I almost forgot that you like to whine more than I do.”

“Thank you. You know I love you.” As soon as the words left her mouth she froze like a deer in headlights. Obviously she hadn’t meant it seriously, but just the idea of saying those three words to him was completely frightening. Judging from the stunned expression on Nick’s face, she could tell that the words had hit him in a strange way too. This required major damage control. “Well, I mean I don’t love you like that at least,” she stammered. “But yea… you know what I mean, right?”

The confusion grew on Nick’s face. “Uhmm yea… I think so. Maybe I should go get you that Advil now.” Without another word he strode out of the bedroom as if he couldn’t get away fast enough.

Nice job, Alyssa, she congratulated herself. Not only did you make a complete fool out of yourself, but you now made things even weirder between you and Nick.

A few moments later Nick reappeared with a glass of water and two Advil. She thanked him and quickly downed the two pills between gulps of water before settling back down against the pillows. “So, what time is it?”

“After twelve. You’ve been sleeping for quite a while.”

“After twelve? But that means that I wasted almost the entire day!”

“Don’t worry about it,” he assured her. “It’s raining, so there’s not much to do anyway. It was a good day to sleep in.”

“Guess that’s a good thing. I’m not feeling much up to doing anything right now anyway. I wouldn’t mind spending the whole day in bed. That is unless you have anything else planned?”

“Well, Kevin did call me earlier while you were sleeping. He and Melanie want to get together sometime tonight for dinner or something since they feel bad about not coming out last night. I told them I’d have to see how you were feeing,” Nick explained, sliding back into bed beside her.

“I’m sure I’ll be feeling fine by this evening. Are we going to go out again?”

“I was thinking of just inviting them over here and ordering out for something. I don’t want another run in with the paparazzi, so I thought something low key might be better.”

Alyssa just nodded. She herself did not want to bear witness to another paparazzi invasion, especially because this time they’d have Kevin himself to confront. It was probably best if they just invited the couple over. “That sounds like a good idea. But for now I think I just want to go back to sleep for a little bit longer.”

Nick grinned a little bit as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her body closer to his. “Well, I think that can be arranged.”

Nestling into the crook of his arm, Alyssa shut her eyes and waited for the pounding in her head to subside into a dull ache. Then she finally drifted back off to sleep.

As expected, by the time Kevin and Melanie had arrived, Alyssa did feel much better. Her headache had long disappeared, but there still was an uncomfortable knot in her stomach. She suspected it had to do with the fact that she anticipated that dinner would be a little on the awkward side. She wasn’t exactly sure how things were between Nick and Kevin, but knowing Nick, Alyssa expected things to be a little strained between the two men. Obviously Nick was feeling a little abandoned by Kevin’s consideration to leave the group, and even if they steered clear from the topic, it would still hang over them ominously. Alyssa knew it would be up to her to keep the peace at the table and to make sure that the subject was not brought up at all.

Of course her job was made much easier by the fact that Melanie was pregnant. Her pregnancy was obviously an easy and safe subject for discussion. Who didn’t love babies? And she anticipated that being an expectant mother, Melanie would be gushing with details about the upcoming birth. At least that’s how Izzy had been lately.

That’s why the moment the older couple came through the door, Alyssa nearly pounced on Melanie. “How’s the mommy to be doing?” she asked, her hands already reaching out to touch her barely protruding stomach. “Aww… You’re starting to get a little baby bump!”

“Yea, all my clothes are starting to not fit me very well. Guess I’m going to have to hit Kevy up for a shopping spree pretty soon,” Melanie replied, glancing up at her husband with a twinkle in her eye.

Kevin just rolled his eyes. “You’ve been on a shopping spree ever since we found out that you were pregnant. I swear this kid is going to have more crap than it can ever possibly use.”

“But you still love it, right Kev?” Alyssa teased.

Nick, who had been standing there a little uncomfortable by all the baby talk, cleared his throat. “I ordered from that Italian place that you guys like. We would’ve cooked something, but yea… Both me and Lyss are pretty much helpless in the kitchen.”

“That’s completely fine Nick. I’ve had a craving for Italian food anyway,” Melanie assured him.

“Great, so it works out then!” Alyssa said a little too enthusiastically. “I’m starved and everything smelled so good, so why don’t we get right down to eating?”

Kevin and Melanie exchanged a little bit of a confused glance over Alyssa’s eagerness to rush right into dinner, but they still followed her into the direction of the dining area, too polite to ask any questions. Alyssa had only taken about two steps before Nick grabbed her arm and pulled her back towards him, so that they were out of earshot of the other couple.

“What the hell was that all about?” he hissed. “Don’t you think that they’re going to be a little suspicious of why all of a sudden you’ve turned into Suzy Sunshine?”

“I’m just trying to make sure that certain sensitive topics don’t come up tonight,” she tried to explain. “You told me last night that you didn’t want to have to deal with any of this crap about Kevin, so I figure if I steer the conversation the right way we’ll be able to avoid it. Don’t worry… I know what I’m doing.”

Nick wasn’t sure if he was supposed to be touched or worried by Alyssa’s plan. It was true that he would preferably like to pretend that Kevin wasn’t actually contemplating a break from the group, but he also knew that Kevin was very good at seeing through peoples actions. How many times had he himself been called out by Kevin in the past based on his behavior? Surely dozens. The plan seemed risky, but he figured that it was worth a try. “I certainly hope that you do know what you’re doing.”

“I’m doing this for you Nick,” she reminded him, before continuing on into the dining room where Melanie and Kevin were already seated. “Sorry about that. Nick just wanted to make sure if I remembered to heat everything up.”

“Well, it seems pretty hot to me,” Kevin remarked as he dug into a plate of lasagna.

“Good.” Alyssa pasted a wide smile on her face before taking her seat at the table. She waited until everybody had helped themselves to their food before continuing the conversation. “So Melanie… How far along are you again?”

“I’m around four months,” she answered between mouthfuls.

“Do you know if you’re having a boy or a girl yet?”

Melanie laughed a little bit. “It’s a little too soon to tell yet. I won’t know until about another few weeks. My doctor said that maybe at my next ultrasound we’ll be able to find out, but it all depends on what position the baby is in.”

“Did the two of you decide if you want to know the sex of the baby?”

The couple glanced at each other. “We’re not sure yet,” Kevin finally answered. “We’re kind of leaning towards wanting to be surprised. You know sometimes those things aren’t even accurate.”

Alyssa nodded. “Yea, I’ve heard that. Izzy and Tristan decided they wanted to know right away. She said that it made things easier as far as buying clothes and deciding how to set up the nursery and stuff. I guess it’s easier to know whether to buy pink or blue.”

“Yellow and green are always safe colors,” Melanie pointed out. “So what is Izzy having?”

“They’re having a little girl, but they’re not sure about a name yet. Izzy has a new idea for a name just about every day. She’s doing good though. She’s due sometime in March, so I guess that’ll make her about six months now. I actually haven’t seen her since Jingle Ball. With the holidays and all its been crazy, but Nick stopped over there the day after Christmas.”

“Oh yea? And how’s my baby cousin doing?” Kevin asked.

For the first time since they’d sat down, Nick spoke up. “She seems to be doing pretty good. It’s really weird seeing her pregnant though. I mean this is the same girl that I put itching powder in her training bra as a joke when we were fourteen.”

Alyssa laughed. “Izzy never told me about that one.” Turning her attention back towards Melanie she continued her interrogation. “So, any weird food cravings? And how about the morning sickness? Was it as bad as everyone says it is?””

“What’s with all the questions Alyssa?” Kevin interrupted. “I never knew you were so interested in pregnancy.” Hs eyes darted suspiciously back and forth between Alyssa and Nick. “Is there something that you’re not telling us?”

Both Alyssa and Nick shared the same horrified look on their faces before Alyssa erupted into giggles. “Wait… You think I’m…” By this point she was laughing so hard she couldn’t even get the word out. “God, no! Are you kidding me? I’m nowhere near ready for a kid yet. I was just wondering for you know… future reference, that’s all.”

Kevin pretended to let out a sigh of a relief. “Good because as of right now the Backstreet family doesn’t need anymore babies.”

I wonder if he made that comment insinuating that I’m pregnant just to trip me up because he assumes that all this baby talk is just an excuse to avoid any other type of conversation? Alyssa wondered as she zoned out while Melanie launched into some longwinded explanation about just how bad her morning sickness had been. Thankfully enough, the rest of the meal went by smoothly without any other embarrassing moments. After a few minutes, the conversation turned to football which normally Alyssa could care less about, but under the circumstances it seemed like a relatively safe topic.

Once everyone had finished, Melanie pushed her plate away and placed her hand over her stomach. “Sometimes with this eating for two thing I definitely overdo it. I’m stuffed, but it was delicious!”

“Yea, it was pretty good considering its LA, Italian food,” Alyssa admitted, sticking her tongue out at Nick.

Kevin raised his eyebrows, so Nick volunteered to explain. “Alyssa insists that the only place for Italian food is New York City.”

“It’s true! New York City has the best food period! Best Italian… Best pizza… Best bagels… Best ice cream…”

“Ice cream… Now I can totally go for some of that,” Melanie admitted.

“But I thought you said you were stuffed,” Nick reminded her.

“I did, but that was before Alyssa mentioned ice cream. I have a wicked craving all of a sudden for pistachio… I can practically taste it.”

Nick wrinkled his nose. “Yuck, pistachio!”

Melanie ignored him and turned towards her husband, sticking out her bottom lip slightly. “Kevin…”

Kevin sighed. “Let me guess… You want me to go out and get you pistachio ice cream, right?”

She just nodded. “Pretty please?”

“Fine,” Kevin agreed. “Nick do you want to take a ride with me?”

Nick looked a little unsurely at Alyssa. “Go,” she insisted. “I’ll stay here with Melanie and we’ll do a little girl talk. We’ll even clean off the table.”

“You sure?”

“Yes, go with Kevin. We’ll be fine.”

A few minutes later, the two men were headed out towards Kevin’s car leaving Alyssa and Melanie alone at the table. As soon as they were out the door it was Melanie’s turn to pounce on Alyssa. “So, what’s the deal with you two? Are you together now or what?”

Alyssa sighed, getting sick of explaining the situation to everyone. “Sort of. We’re kind of giving things another try… Or at least trying to. It’s complicated, but we’re working through it. It’ll probably just take some time.”

The older woman nodded her head. “Yea, I understand that. Truthfully though I’m kind of glad that you two found your way back to each other. Nick could use someone dependable like you in his life.”

Alyssa wasn’t quite sure how she should take that. Obviously it was a compliment, but it was the first time that anyone had really given their support to her. Sure, Tricia and Teri had encouraged her last night at the club, but they hadn’t known Alyssa as long as Melanie had. It meant a lot to her, that Melanie felt that way. “Thanks a lot. You don’t know how much that means to me. Ever since Nick and I rekindled our relationship, I’ve had pretty much everyone close to me tell me that I was crazy for getting involved with him again. I admit, it hasn’t been in the most conventional way, and it’s been a very bumpy, painful road, but I really think things are improving between us. He’s just been through so much since we broke up; it’s very hard to undo all the damage he’s sustained in the past three years.”

Melanie looked sympathetic. “Yea, I understand that, but you’re doing great. It’s going to take time and patience, but if anyone can set him back on the right path again, it’s you.”

Alyssa bit her lip, contemplating on whether or not she should confront Melanie on the rumors about Kevin. She didn’t like going behind Nick’s back like this, but by now the curiosity had gotten to her. She couldn’t fathom the idea of Kevin even toying with the idea of leaving the band, especially after all these years. He could still manage a family and a career. Brian seemed to do a great job of it. So why would Kevin be any different?

“What’s wrong?” Melanie’s voice interrupted her thoughts. “You look like you’re torn about something.”

She sighed, deciding to jump right into it. “Look, it might be my place to be asking you this, but Nick and I were shopping yesterday and we bumped into some paparazzi, and they mentioned something about Kevin thinking about leaving the group. I knew they probably were just rumors, but Nick got really upset and defensive and when I asked him about it, he completely shut down. I know it’s not any of my business, but please Melanie, tell me the truth. Is Kevin leaving the group?”

Melanie looked away for a moment and paused as if she wasn’t quite sure how to answer. After a few excruciatingly long moments she finally broke the silence. “Yes… Yes Kevin has decided to leave the group. He wants to devote all the time he can to this baby, and he insists that if he stays with the group he won’t be able to do that.”

Alyssa gasped. She’d been expecting some kind of shocking news, but not that. The reporters had only mentioned that he’d been tossing the idea around, but she had never anticipated that he’d already reached his decision, so quickly. “But… What about the rest of the tour? And I’m sure he could handle both. Look at Brian… Him, Leigh, and Baylee, are extremely well adjusted considering that they live their life traveling from city to city.”

“There’s a difference there Alyssa. When Baylee was first born, the band was on hiatus. Brian was able to be there for every first step along the way. Kevin’s afraid that he’ll be at some interview when this baby says its first words or performing at some concert when it takes its first steps. He doesn’t want to miss out on anything,” she explained. “It was completely his decision. I would’ve supported him no matter what he decided. He’s going to finish out the tour and wait until things die down a little bit before he breaks the news to the media.”

It was then that the obvious thought flashed across her mind. “Does Nick know?”

Melanie shook her head. “No, he doesn’t, but if I know Kevin he’s probably breaking the news to him as we speak.”

“Oh God…” Alyssa murmured as she sunk further down into her seat. “He’s going to be devastated…” She could only imagine how Nick was going to react to the news.

And the bigger question: How was she going to be able to pick up the pieces once he arrived back home?