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Author's Chapter Notes:
So as I promised... Here's the Epilogue even earlier than expected. I was so set on finishing it I breezed right through it. Maybe I can get the prologue to A Little Taste of Sin up soon! Stay tuned after this chapter for a long list of thank yous I have for all of those people who helped make UMS what it has become. Enjoy!

It was about two weeks after Grace's birth and Alyssa found herself outside of Izzy and Tristan's apartment door nervously ringing the doorbell. She hoped that Izzy wouldn't be too upset at her sudden disapearance. Right after Izzy had given birth, Alyssa had left the hospital and headed straight back to her apartment just long enough to throw a few things into a suitcase, buy a plane ticket, and scribble a note to say that she had gone on a trip to "figure things out" and would be back as soon as she could. As much as she wanted to be there for her best friend, this was something that she knew she had to do deep down in her heart and now she was glad that she had. Finally it seemed as if her life was slowly beginning to come together again.

Her thoughts were interrupted by Izzy answering the door, balancing a screaming Grace on her hip. "There you are! Where the hell were you? And why did you just leave like that? Without even telling anyone where you were going?"

Alyssa just stepped inside fully prepared to explain herself. "There was something I needed to do for myself. Something that's always been on the back of my mind and in light of recent events on my life I finally realized that now is the perfect time to do it because I literally have nothing to lose."

"Uhmm okay," Izzy responded, sounding a little confused. "So where were you again and what was so important that you had to impulsively run off and do?" Even Grace had quieted down and stare at Alyssa with big eyes as if she was in as much anticipation as her mother was.

Alyssa took in a deep breath. "I was down in North Carolina," she started off.

"North Carolina? What the hell is in North Carolina?"

"I was at a job fair down there. They really are in a high demmand for teachers down there, especially teachers from New York since we're so overcertified in comparision. So many people are moving down there that their colleges can't turn out teachers fast enough for the population growth. Anyway, moving down there has been on the back of my mind since I graduated college, but I wanted to give it a try here in New York and then Nick came along and I decided to move out to LA... Now that none of that actually worked out and I'm realizing that I can't afford to live here I decided to go for it and try my luck somewhere else," she explained.

"So, you're telling me you're moving down to North Carolina?" Izzy slowly asked, trying to process everything that Alyssa had just said.

Alyssa nodded before breaking in to a huge grin. "I got a job for next year already! As a second grade teacher! It's in a really nice area and the district even helped me find a condo to rent. It's unbelievable how quickly things just turned around."

"That's great Lyss. So, you'll be moving out in another few months then huh?"

"Try another few weeks. I feel like I've imposed upon you and Tristan enough and I know that the two of you and Grace are going to want to get back to LA as soon as Grace is a little older. Why stay? You've been so good to me, but with the baby home I'm just in the way. "

Izzy looked a little disapointed. "You don't have to go so soon. Don't feel like I'm kicking you out. You're welcome to stay if you need to. I can always use an extra pair of hands with Grace and I don't want you to miss out on the christening or anything."

"I'm not going to miss out on the christening. You tell me where and when and I'll make it my business to be there even if I have to fly all night to get there," Alyssa promised. "I'm not thrilled having to be so far away from my family, my friends, my Goddaughter, but its something I need to do. I need to start over completely, clean slate. There's so many things that I need to improve upon as a person, and I think the best way of doing that is to pick up someplace new. The district that I'm going to be working for seems really inviting and they told me that as soon as I want to move down they can make me a permanent sub for the rest of the school year. So, I figure why wait?"

"I'm going to miss you," Izzy admitted. "Just promise me this time you'll do a lot better job at keeping in touch. Last time you and Nick broke up and you moved away we stopped talking for nearly three years. I don't want that to happen again."

"It won't. Besides I can't not keep in touch now that I have a Goddaughter." Her hand reached out to stroke Grace's cheek. "I'm done greiving about Nick, Izzy. I have to move on. It's the only way that I'm going to be able to fix all those things about me that drove us apart. I need to do this."

Izzy smiled warmly. "Then I support you one hundred percent."

Across the country, Nick took a deep breath as he inserted the key into the door, turned the lock, and stepped inside. He’d been putting off doing this ever since he came back from Australia, but he knew that it needed to be done for the sake of closure. He’d been too distraught and upset inside to even consider facing this down. He’d put it off for over a month now and now seemed like the perfect time to do it. He was about to temporarily move into a larger home up in the hills where he was about to start filming his reality show with his siblings. But before he could move on with what he considered to be the first phase of turning his life around, there was something that he needed to do.

His eyes scanned over the room, amazed at the difference in the place since the last time he had been there. Unlike the last time he’d seen the place, it was no longer just a bare, empty space. While he was on tour he’d hired movers to set up all of the furniture and they’d done a great job. The place looked perfect, exactly how he knew Alyssa would’ve wanted it to look.

He’d been unsure of what exactly he should do with the condo, now that Alyssa had made it very clear that she had no intentions of coming out to LA. He thought about selling the place, but a part of him didn’t want to let go just yet. In a way it was the last piece of Alyssa that he really had. He could rent it out to somebody else he supposed, but it would just feel wrong to him. Granted, he and Alyssa had only really spent one night in the place, but the memories were too strong to just erase. This was where he finally opened up to her about his relationship with Paris and how much she’d hurt him. This was also the place that he’d promised Alyssa that he’d quit smoking. He’d never been great at keeping his promises.

Truth was, that he’d already in his head fantasized about all of the future memories that the two of them might share in this condo. Now not only did he have to deal with haunting past memories that the place held for them, but also those that had not yet had a chance to happen, which only made giving the place up that much more painful. For the time being he wasn’t quite ready to let go of it just yet. Maybe someday, but for now he intended to keep it exactly the way it was, as if Alyssa were actually living there.

He’d convinced himself that it would be good for him to visit the condo and take it all in. That it would provide him with a sense of closure of sorts. The deeper he stepped into the condo though, the more and more frustrated he became with himself and his impulsive decisions. He could’ve had a wonderful life with her in this very place, but he’d thrown it all away with a few selfish decisions. She deserved someone better.

I think you can do much better than me
After all the lies that I made you believe
Guilt kicks in and I start to see
The edge of the bed
Where your nightgown used to be

There was no one else to pin the blame on, but himself. He’d screwed up the best thing he had going for him in a long time. Maybe he’d lost his chance at happiness for good. Who knew if he’d meet someone that would make him feel the same way that Alyssa had? Who knew if Alyssa would find someone to replace him? She’d probably be better off if she did. Nick wasn’t sure if he could trust himself not to mess things up if he were given another chance. Sure there were second chances, but third and fourth chances? Highly unlikely.

I told myself I won't miss you
But I remember
What it feels like beside you
I really miss your hair in my face
And the way your innocence tastes
And I think you should know this
You deserve much better than me

As much as he tried to tell himself that he was beginning to get over her, whenever he closed his eyes he realized just how much he was only fooling himself. Maybe his feelings were intensified by the fact that he was standing in the middle of the condo that he had bought her. He could still clearly remember the way that her face had lit up when he’d told her that it was hers. The way she’d thrown her arms around him… The excited tone of her voice… And of course the way that she had kissed him afterwards. How could he have possibly messed something like that up so badly? She definitely deserved better than him.

He lost himself in a moment as their entire relationship seemed to flash before his eyes like it was on a movie screen. All five years that he had known her. From the moment that Izzy had first was introduced to her at that record company party, to their recent heartfelt goodbye at that diner in Australia. He had to admit that their relationship had been full of so many ups and downs it seemed like it belonged on some daytime soap opera. When it had been good, it had been very good, but when it had hit those rough patches it had been very difficult. Looking back at the past made him realize how stupid he’d been when it came to Alyssa. He’d definitely messed up more than a few times and he still never learned his lesson. Now that he finally saw the errors of his ways it was unfortunately much too late.

While looking through your old box of notes
I found those pictures I took
That you were looking for

His decision to visit the condo today before heading over to the house in Beverly Hills that he’d be sharing with his siblings over the next few months, was made a few days ago after he’d stumbled upon a particularly striking reminder of Alyssa. He’d been cleaning out some junk that he’d had piling up in one of his spare rooms (one of his many projects to keep himself busy) when he’d come across a box of some of Alyssa’s old things that she’d left at his house after she’d moved out of his place in Florida. Nick had completely forgotten that he’d saved the box and couldn’t exactly pinpoint why exactly he had held onto it for all these years, but curiosity had gotten the better of him and he’d ripped into it. Most of it was little things like clothing and beauty products, but at the bottom of the box he found a shoebox that Alyssa had used to hold mementos of their relationship such as notes, cards, and pictures. At the top of the pile, he’d found a very memorable set of photos that he’d taken of her about three years ago, before they’d broken up. After much persuasion, Nick had gotten her to let him snap some pictures of her wearing not much more than skimpy lingerie. He’d tried to convince her to let him photograph her in a lot less, but she’d been pretty against the idea, afraid that the photos might one day wind up in the wrong hands. Anyway, just looking through the pictures reminded him of her plan to surprise him in Australia for his birthday which of course reminded him of how bad he had messed things up with her. He’d decided that maybe now he was ready to face visiting her condo to confront his memories of her head on.

If there's one memory I don't want to lose
That time at the mall
You and me in the dressing room

Finding those pictures of her had not only been a haunting reminder of how badly he had screwed up, but of what exactly he had lost. So many times in their relationship, Nick had taken her for granted. He’d very rarely taken into account all of the things that she had done to please him. It was so rare for her to even begin to open up to him that the few times she’d tried he’d seemingly brushed them off. Like those pictures. He’d all but forgotten about them, but he realized that letting him take them had been a huge decision for Alyssa. His mind drifted back to their phone conversation where Alyssa had raised her concerns about being doing enough to satisfy him. He’d said himself that one of the things he found the sexiest about her was the fact that he knew just how difficult it was for her to work up the confidence to do something completely unexpected, so when she did it caught him completely off guard. One of the best examples of that he could remember was the whole quickie in the dressing room of that mall. It had been years ago, but the memory of it was still fresh in his mind. She made attempts to do things like that for me and I still wanted more, he mentally kicked himself. No wonder she closed herself off to me.

I told myself I won't miss you
But I remember
What it feels like beside you
I really miss your hair in my face
And the way your innocence tastes
And I think you should know this
You deserve much better than me

Better Than Me by Hinder

Maybe they were better off without each other. Nick had to admit the plain truth. She deserved a guy who would treat her a hell of a lot better than he had. And it was that admission that made him punch the wall in frustration as angry tears stung his eyes. He’d lost her and he had no one else to blame, but himself. Now the only thing left for him to do was to make some major changes in his life and hope that if given another chance with someone else he wouldn’t make the same mistakes he had made with Alyssa.

People say that you learn a little bit from every relationship that you involve yourself in, and Nick had to admit that it was true. In every serious relationship he had been in, he’d learned some sort of lesson. With Willa, he’d learned that as hard as it was to put an end to something that felt so familiar, it also was not a very good idea to let a relationship linger on long after the fire had gone out. With Paris he’d learned many a lesson, but mostly not to let a girl try to change who he was as a person to better suit her image. Alyssa had tried to change him as well, but in a completely different way than Paris had. Whereas, Paris had tried to change his whole personality and tried to convince him to dress a certain way and act a certain way to better fit into her world, Alyssa had tried to change who he was by attacking his outward actions. She hated the way he dealt with his emotions by turning to alcohol, smoking, and other women for comfort. Through all of that she’d seen his flaws and all of his potential and had tried to mold him into a better man, which in turn led to one of the most painful and simple lessons of all, not to take what he had right in front of him for granted. She’d been so patient and caring with him and he’d blown that all off as if it didn’t matter at all. She’d given him countless chances to improve himself, and he’d blown them all to pieces.

Nick took one final look over the place, not wanting to torture himself any longer. He picked up a frame photograph of the two of them taken while she was in LA back at end of December. The two of them had been smiling with their arms wrapped around each other, not a clue indicating that in another month they’d be done for good. Impulsively he tucked the frame underneath his arm. Even though he had a bit of an urge to throw it across the room and watch it shatter into a million pieces, he fought it. He was trying to become a new man, a new man who didn’t deal with his emotions by being destructive and acting on blind impulse. He’d keep the picture as a constant reminder to himself not to screw up anymore future relationships that laid in his path.

He turned around and headed for the door, but before he walked out of the door he turned around and looked back. “I’m sorry Alyssa. You deserve someone way better than me.” His words echoed back ominously in the empty room and then without looking back, he walked out the door and into his BMW. He peeled out of the driveway and within minutes he was on the freeway heading towards what he hoped would be the start of a new beginning for him.