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Author's Chapter Notes:
Alyssa gets a glimpse into the ways Nick has changed while she watches him perform.

Chapter 6

     Finally the concert was about to begin without anymore mishaps. Alyssa had never been so thankful for the lights to go down. All throughout the opening acts she could feel fans looking in her direction and almost hear the buzz of gossip among the theater. Of course maybe she was just being paranoid. In any case, she was glad that the guys were finally about to go on and they would definitely divert the attention away from her.

     I wonder what they're going to open with?
she thought to herself. Kevin had told them that their set list included most of the songs off the new album as well as mostly all their singles. Alyssa hadn't heard anything off their new CD at all, so she was actually a little curious to hear their new sound.

     Her question was answered as she recognized the familiar beginning of their song The Call. Interesting song to start with, she noted. She held her breath as the five figures emerged on stage and the concert officially began.

     Of course the first thing her eyes focused in on was Nick. For a few seconds it felt incredibly strange to see him in person again performing. She almost felt like she was dreaming. It felt so voyeuristic to be there watching him when he had no idea that she was out there. After about a minute or two, the feeling began to subside. He looked good... Real good. Sexier than ever, which kind of intimidated Alyssa a bit. Yea, he's going to take one look at me and laugh in my face probably, she thought cynically.

     One of the first things Alyssa noticed about him was his overall presence on stage. He was clearly a performer and he had always known just how to work a crowd, but now she saw a newfound sense of confidence in the way he moved across the stage. He was definitely ten times more wild and crazy in his antics, than how Alyssa remembered him as being. At times, she found herself wondering if she had really seen what she had thought she saw. Every move he made just seemed to ooze sex appeal and it seemed as if the more the girls in the audience screamed, the crazier he would get. Damn... was the only logical thought that could cross Alyssa's mind.

     She also noted that his dancing had improved immensely. She always used to tease him about always being the one that was a step or two behind or slightly out of sync with the music, but now he appeared much more comfortable. Of course he still did not have the natural grace that AJ or Howie had, but he seemed to have developed his own sense of style that appeared to be working very well for him. She had to admit that he could move! Maybe all those private lessons I tried giving him finally paid off, she thought with a smirk.

     Finally, she managed to tear her eyes off of Nick's body, and focused in more on how he sounded vocally. His voice seemed to have matured even more so throughout the years and it had a hint of a slightly raspy quality that hadn't been there before. It gave his voice a bit of an edge though, and if anything made him sound even sexier.

     So, basically I think he's hotter than ever and I am now dying to see him again, she concluded to herself.

     Just when she thought that Nick could shock her no more, he reappeared onstage with a guitar in his hands and Brian at his side. There was some playful banter about how Brian couldn't believe that Nick could actually play the guitar that went on for a minute or so. When did he learn how to play the guitar? she wondered. Finally they launched into one of their new songs that really kind of summed up how Alyssa was feeling just then.

Close your eyes, make a wish
That this could last forever
If only you could stay with me now
So tell me what it is
That keeps us from each other now
Yeah, it's coming to get me
You're under my skin

No I can't let you go
You're a part of me now
Caught by the taste of your kiss
And I don't wanna know the reason why
I can't stay forever like this

Now I'm climbing the walls 'cause I miss you...

     Alyssa was surprised to find that Nick actually played quite well. Just by watching him, you could tell that he was passionate about music. Just then he looked up and appeared to glance directly on her direction. She doubted that he has actually spotted her, but for a moment it seemed as if their gaze had locked. All of a sudden, Alyssa felt overwhelmed with emotion and found herself remembering the moment that they first declared their feelings for each other.


     Ding Dong! The doorbell rang out interrupting Alyssa's unpacking. She had just come back from visiting her family for Christmas in New York that afternoon and had intended to spend the rest of the night relaxing and unpacking. "I'll be right there," she called as she made her way towards the door.

     Opening it, she was both shocked and delighted to find Nick standing on the other side. In the past month or so that they had met at the party they had hung out a few times, usually with Izzy, but so far they seemed not much more than friends. What struck Alyssa so unusual about him stopping by was the fact that he had never just shown up at her door unannounced before. "Nick! What are you doing in these neck of the woods?" she asked as she let him in.

     "I was just in the neighborhood and I actually thought I'd drop off your Christmas present," he explained, presenting a gift bag that was in his hand. "Sorry it's kind of late. I didn't realize that you were going to be away. Izzy told me that you only got back today."

Christmas present? I wasn't expecting a Christmas present from him, Alyssa thought in a panic. She felt embarrassed that she hadn't thought to buy a gift for him. "But I didn't get you anything," she protested. "If I knew we were going to exchange gifts-"

     "It's fine," he insisted, interrupting her. "I know that money is tight with you right now. Besides its nothing crazy expensive. Open it," he urged as he handed her the bag.

     "Fine you win," she said defeated as she reached underneath the tissue paper in the bag.

     "There are a few things in there," Nick warned.

     The first item that Alyssa pulled from the bag appeared to be a poster of some sort. Looking at the picture on the wrapping she smiled in surprise. One of her favorite actresses of all time was Audrey Hepburn and one of her favorite movies was
Breakfast at Tiffany's. Nick had gotten her a copy of the original movie poster. "How did you know that I love this movie?" she asked him. She doubted that it had ever come up in conversation.

     "Some careful detective work. I noticed that you have a calendar of her in your room and a bag with her picture on it," he explained. "And
Breakfast at Tiffany's is her most famous movie."
     "What a smart cookie," she noted as she dug back into the bag, secretly delighted that he had noticed such minute details. Next, she pulled out a vintage looking t-shirt with Audrey Hepburn's face on it. "Hmm... I'm starting to notice a theme here," she teased.

     "Yea," Nick said with a grin. "There's one more."

     Alyssa pulled out the final gift from her bag. "Oh my God! I've been wanting to buy this!" she said excitedly holding up a copy of the collectors edition of
Breakfast at Tiffany's. "Thank you!" she replied throwing her arms around him.

     "I take it you're happy with your gift?" he asked, lingering just slightly longer than normal in her embrace.

     "I love it!" Never had anyone put so much thought and effort into a gift for her before. "Would you like to stay and watch the movie with me?" she asked, hoping to give him an excuse to stay.

     "I guess I could do that," he replied. "I don't have any other plans."

     Just about two hours later when the movie ended, Alyssa grabbed the remote and shut the TV off leaving them in silence. She hadn't wanted to move from her spot on the couch, especially because at some point during the movie, Nick's arm had snaked its way around her shoulders where it still remained and didn't seem to have any intentions of moving. "So how was your Christmas?" she asked, trying to start up a conversation.

     "It was all right. Nothing very special. Yours?'

     "Weird. It was so strange being at home again and I almost felt like I wasn't even part of the family anymore. I felt like I was just a visitor," she confessed. "I'm glad to be back here."

     "Me too. I missed you," he agreed in a softer tone of voice.

     "You missed me?" The whole visit from Nick was just beginning to feel completely bizarre.

     "Yea, I did. I guess I just didn't realize how much I enjoyed hanging out with you until you weren't there," he admitted brushing a strand of hair from her face. "I really like you Alyssa. More than just a friend. I don't think I really realized it until just this week while you were in New York. At first I didn't want to get involved in another relationship so soon, but now... I  don't know. I think I'm starting to change my mind."

     For a moment Alyssa just sat there stunned, not sure how to respond. She had obviously had feelings for him, but she had no clue that he had them for her until now. It was almost too good to be true. She kept waiting for him to turn around and say "Ha ha. Just kidding!" but he didn't. She had to say something, but she wasn't exactly sure what. Finally she spoke.

     "I've had feelings for you the first day we met. I guess by now you've probably figured out that it was Izzy's idea to get us together. I was attracted to you, but I honestly didn't think that I stood a chance, so I just humored her," she confessed.

     "And how do you feel now?" Nick pressed on, putting her on the spot.

     "Well, I'm still attracted to you if that's what you mean," Alyssa answered getting a little flustered. "I mean feelings don't just go away like that...  Hanging out with you as a friend at first was kind of weird for me because I was so attracted to you, but I really thought that you only saw me as a friend, so I figured I'd rather have you as a friend than not have you at all. I can't believe that you feel the same way about me. Why? I mean I'm just-"

     She was cut off by Nick placing his finger against her lips to silence her. "Alyssa, you're babbling," he told her with a grin.

     "Am I? Sorry," she apologized, very aware of his fingers tracing the outline of her lips.

     Nick laughed softly. "It's okay. It's cute, but I think it'll be better if you don't speak at all right now." Before she could even open her mouth to protest, he had gently lifted her chin and brought his mouth closer to hers until they were finally kissing.

     At first, Alyssa was caught off guard by the kiss, but within a few moments she completely succumbed to it. She was amazed at the way that his kiss bought a strange sensation of warmth throughout her body.
Wow, this feels so right, she thought as the kiss slowly deepened. It was at that moment that Alyssa realized that her attraction to Nick was a lot deeper than it ever was for any other guy, and the thought both terrified and thrilled her.


As the show continued on, Alyssa's apprehension about seeing Nick afterwards only intensified. One moment, she felt as if she HAD to see him again and talk to him and the next she realized that she was scared to see him and afraid that he would reject her somehow. Her mind must have played out several different scenarios ranging from Nick taking one look at her from across the room, coming over to her, and enveloping her in a passionate kiss, to him taking one look at her and being like Alyssa who? Of course both extremes were pretty unrealistic, but Alyssa could not seem to control the absurd ideas floating through her head.

     One thing Alyssa actually did take notice of throughout the concert was that a vast majority of the songs from their new album had to do with relationships that hadn't worked out in the end and their wishing that they could have a second chance. Is it because that's the way I'm feeling right now and I'm just focusing in on those kinds of songs because I can relate to them? she wondered to herself. During a lot of their songs she actually wondered if perhaps maybe she was the one that Nick thought about as he sang those lyrics:

Looking at your picture
From when we first met
You gave me a smile that
I could never forget
And nothing I could do
Could protect me from you that night

Wrapped around your finger
Always on my mind
The days would blend
'Cause we stayed up all night
Yeah you and I were everything, everything to me

I just want you to know
That I've been fighting to let you go
Some days I make it through
And then there's nights that never end
I wish that I could believe
That there's a day you'll come back to me
But still I have to say
I would do it all again
Just want you to know...

     I think I'm definitely going to have to pick up this album, she decided, even though the lyrics hit so close to home for her. How could he NOT think about me, every time he sings these songs? she wondered.

     Finally after what seemed like hours, the guys took their final bows after Everybody which had clearly became their anthem. The lights slowly came back on over the theater, after they had disappeared from sight. The change in lighting immediately bought Alyssa back down to reality. In a panic, she suddenly realized that the moment she had been dreading was imminent.

     "Let's go backstage and congratulate everyone," Izzy decided as she grabbed Alyssa's hand.

     Alyssa felt like she was going to throw up.