- Text Size +
Author's Chapter Notes:
An opportunity to see Nick again, causes Alyssa to be swept away in old memories.

Chapter 27

       "I just don't get it Izzy. Why would he break up with me just like that? It makes no sense whatsoever. We were just starting to work shit out and then BAM! He breaks up with me for no apparent reason. Why?"

       Izzy just sighed in response and Alyssa realized that perhaps she was getting a little tired of listening to her go on and on about how she couldn't understand Nick's intentions in breaking up with her. But she couldn't help it. She refused to believe that Nick would just give up on them that easy. She just couldn't seem to let go even though it had been almost two weeks.

       "Maybe he wasn't lying. Maybe he just felt that things were too weird between the two of you after Katie, so he decided it might be better to take a break," Izzy gently suggested. Was it Alyssa's imagination or did she not sound very convincing?

       "I'm sorry, but I can't believe that. He's the one who wanted to give things a second chance, so why would he give up on us without even really trying?" she argued.

       Izzy tried a different approach, not wanting to let it slip that she knew the real reason why Nick had actually broken up with Alyssa. "Don't take this personally or anything Alyssa, but you don't have a lot of experience in relationships, so how can you sound so sure that Nick's excuse for breaking up with you is bullshit? You seem so sure that he's hiding something, but maybe its just your imagination?"

       Alyssa's nostrils flared in anger. "Whose side are you on here anyway? Why are you defending him?"

       "I'm not defending him!" she insisted. "It's just that I'm trying to stay neutral here. Both you and Nick are really close to me and I don't want to have to choose sides." Wasn't it bad enough that she was already pulled into the situation a whole lot deeper than she had wanted?

       "You're lying!" Alyssa accused. "You know something about why Nick really broke up with me, right? You're covering up for him!"

       "I'm not," Izzy sputtered, knowing that she sounded anything but truthful in her response. This was bad. Time to change the subject, before she let Nick's secret slip. "Look, I know you're upset, so let's go shopping or something. That always helps me when I'm upset."

       "Fuck shopping! Tell me the truth Izzy or so help you God I'll never speak to you again."

       Nick's gonna kill me, Izzy thought as she realized there was no way Alyssa was going to back down until she heard what she wanted to hear. Besides it was getting a little ridiculous trying to pretend like she didn't know anything. Alyssa wasn't stupid. Maybe it would give her some closure to hear the truth. She'd probably find out eventually anyway.
       "All right! Nick's going to kill me because he swore me to secrecy, but I'll tell you. You just have to promise me that you won't flip out, ok?"

       "Honestly, after finding out he cheated on me, I don't think anything would surprise me at this point," Alyssa responded.

       "Uhh, maybe you better sit down for this one," Izzy suggested as she gestured towards the couch.

       Rolling her eyes, Alyssa flopped down on the couch with her arms crossed across her chest. "Ok, so what exactly is this deep dark secret of Nick's?"

       Izzy bit her lip.
Please don't be mad Nick. I'm doing this for your own good, she pleaded to herself. "Well, a few weeks ago Tristan and I went to Fort Lauderdale and we saw him at the hotel with another girl." She noticed Alyssa open her mouth to interrupt, but held up her hand in a signal to let her continue with the story. "We were sure there had to be some kind of reasonable explanation, so we just let it go. Then he broke up with you that very same week, which to me seemed pretty suspicious, so I confronted him about it. As it turns out that girl he was with was Katie."

       "That fucking asshole! He was still seeing her behind my back? So that's why he broke up with me! Only because you found out and called him out on it, right?" If Alyssa seemed pissed before she was fuming now.

       "It's not like that Alyssa, I swear! Nothing is going on between him and Katie anymore, at least not in the way you are thinking of. She arranged to meet with Nick because..." She paused and swallowed hard for a moment, hating that she had to be the one to tell her friend the news. "Because she found out that she's pregnant... And it's Nick's."

       Alyssa looked as if she had just been doused with a bucket of cold water. "What? No... She has to be lying! She's probably just making this up in order to get her 15 minutes of fame. She's probably not even pregnant! In a few months I bet she'll "mysteriously' lose the baby. Either that or some other guy knocked her up and she's trying to blame Nick because its convenient. I bet that's it."

       Izzy just looked sadly over at her friend as she went through several possible different scenarios. It was obvious that she was desperately trying to deny the news she had just received. "I'm sorry Alyssa, but Nick seems to think she's telling the truth. She even suggested a paternity test if he was doubtful. Why would she be so cooperative if she had something to hide?"

       "Maybe its an act! Maybe she has this big plan to get someone to mess with the test results so it comes out that Nick really is the father when he's not," she suggested.

       Izzy shook her head. "Alyssa I think you've been watching way too many soap operas lately. Listen to yourself. You're not even talking rationally."

       Alyssa sighed, realizing that Izzy was right. This wasn't a soap opera and although Nick was in a very easy position to be taken advantage of, she knew that there still could be a possibility that this all could be true. "So, that's why he broke up with me? Because Katie is pregnant? He's decided that he should be with her because of the baby?"

       "Not exactly. He's very confused right now. Katie told him that she doesn't really expect him to be part of the baby's life if he doesn't want to. Of course she's going to want money, but that's it. He doesn't even know what he wants to do. This is very scary for him and a lot for him to think about," she explained. "He only broke things off with you because he didn't want you to have to be involved in this whole mess. He thought that it wasn't fair to you and you deserved better. He just didn't want to hurt you any more than he already had."

       The news was a lot for Alyssa to digest all at once. Her head was already swarming with confusion over how she felt. "Thanks for telling me Izzy. I'm sorry that I was such a bitch about demanding to know the truth."

       "It's all right," her friend assured her. "I'd probably have acted the same way."

       "Would you mind leaving me alone for a little bit? I think I need to think all of this over carefully."

       "I completely understand. It is a lot to take in. Call me if you need to talk," Izzy offered, as she grabbed her purse.


       Izzy was halfway out the door when she turned around. "He really does love you Alyssa. I know that he doesn't always show it, but he was only trying to protect you. Remember that." Before Alyssa could respond she was out the door.

       Once Izzy left, Alyssa laid back on the couch and the tears that she had struggled to hold back throughout her conversation with Izzy, now fell freely down her cheeks. She was so confused! Nick a father? She couldn't picture it. He was practically still a big kid himself. It was scary to think about. Then of course there was Izzy's confession that he had only broken up with her so that she wouldn't have to be involved in all the baby drama. She wasn't sure if she should feel angry that he thought she couldn't handle it, or touched that he was only trying to look out for her in his own strange way. Hell, she wasn't even sure if she was angry about the fact that Katie was pregnant in the first place. She wasn't exactly pleased and it only made things between her and Nick even more complicated, but was it really the end of the world? It didn't mean that him and Katie were going to run off and get married now just because she happened to be pregnant with his child.

       Izzy had stressed that he did love her despite what she might think. If he really did love her as much as Izzy claimed, then they could work around this, right? It wouldn't be easy and it would take time, but they could do it. He obviously did care about her. She was sick of fighting and lies and she just wanted things to go somewhat back to the way they had been before he left for Sweden.

       She picked up her cell phone that was sitting on the coffee table and stared at it a moment as she contemplated making the phone call. The guys were in New York City for the weekend doing some promotional things now. Meg had gone along with AJ, but still had begged Alyssa to come along with them anyway. She'd declined, figuring being around Nick would be too awkward and painful for her to stand. She sadly remembered how she had promised Nick that the next time he was in New York City she would be his own personal tour guide, showing him the parts of the City that only a person very familiar with it would know about. That made up her mind. Without a second thought she located his number and pressed send.

       The phone rang a few times before heading to voicemail. He probably had business to attend to and couldn't get to his phone at the moment. She listened to his familiar voice while she mustered up the courage to say what she needed to say. The beeping noise indicating that the voicemail was finally recording startled her. "Hi... Nick? It's Alyssa. I know I'm probably the last person you want to hear from right now, but I really need to talk to you. Please don't be mad, but Izzy told me everything about Katie and why you broke up with me. It's not her fault. I kind of forced her to. I know that you're away right now, but when you come please give me a call. I want to try to work things out. I know its going to be hard and awkward with Katie and all, but I'm up to the challenge. I hope to hear from you soon. I love you."


       Alyssa awoke with a start. Sitting up in bed she glanced over at her alarm clock and read the blinking red numbers. 3:09am. What the hell was it that woke her up seemingly out of nowhere?

       Then it slowly came back to her. The dream she'd just had. Perhaps flashback might be a more appropriate term because she was dreaming about something that had actually happened to her. Like pieces to a puzzle, her mind filled in the details. She'd been dreaming about the time when Izzy had confessed to her about Katie being pregnant and her emotional phone call afterwards to Nick.

       But why dream of that tonight?
she questioned herself. About two weeks had passed since her conversation with Izzy in the ice cream parlor and she hadn't spoken with Nick recently either. So why is that particular moment sticking with me?

       Just thinking about Nick sent a pang through Alyssa's chest. She'd missed their conversations. After that night he had called from Sweden. the two had spoken once or twice more, but it had been awhile since she had last heard from him. She'd figured that he was probably just too busy with his tour schedule, practically every day a new country. Suddenly she had a strange urge to pick up the phone and call him herself.

       He's probably busy or too tired to talk,
she reasoned with herself as she laid back down again. Besides I don't even know what country he's in now, never mind what time it  might be. I'm better off going to sleep and then trying to figure out a better time to call him in the morning.

       She was just starting to drift back off to sleep when the ringing of her cell phone caused her to nearly jump a mile. She panicked for a moment trying to decide who it could be. Middle of the night phone calls were never good news, especially in her experience. She quickly prayed that it wasn't some awful news about any of her family members before answering in a shaky voice, "Hello?"

       "Alyssa? It's Nick."

       Alyssa let out a sigh of relief. She'd been so startled by the call that she'd forgotten to even look at the caller ID on the front of her phone. "Oh, hi Nick. Sorry I didn't answer right away."

       "That's okay," his familiar voice assured her. "You sound kind of weird though. Did I
call at a bad time?"

       "Not really unless you consider 3 am a bad time."

       "It's 3 am in New York? I'm sorry. I don't know what I was thinking! Sometimes I forget all about the time difference and I just impulsively call people without thinking." She could practically picture Nick slapping his hand against his forehead in embarrassment.

       How typical,
she thought to herself, fighting the urge to laugh. "It's all right. I was up anyway. I couldn't sleep."

       "I'm sorry for calling so late, but I just found out some good news and I couldn't wait to tell you," Nick explained.

       "Good news?" Alyssa asked, sitting back up in bed. "You sound excited. What is it?"

       "We may get to see each other again sooner than we originally thought."

       Alyssa's breath caught in her throat. "What do you mean?"

       "We just signed up to do a few holiday concerts for some of the major radio stations throughout the US in December. And of course one of the ones we're going to be doing is Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden. We just finalized it this morning," he reported.

       "So, you'll be in New York in December?" she repeated, not fully being able to believe the news herself.

       "December 16th to be exact. It's our last stop. All of us will be there, but Howie. The dates for his cruise conflict and there's no way he can be in two places at once. I hope that you'll be able to come."

       He wants me to be there?
Alyssa asked herself in amazement. "I'd love to, but those tickets are going to be expensive as hell, that is if I can get my hands on them and my chances of winning them off the radio are slim to none."

       "Winning them off the radio? What are you talking about Alyssa? Don't worry. I got you covered. I'll mail you a pair of tickets. I just want you to be there."

       "Do you really mean that?" She found herself being touched by his eagerness for her to come to the show.

       "Of course I do. I really want to see you again," he admitted.

       "I want to see you again too." The words slipped out of her mouth effortlessly, but her mind was still full with doubts. Did Nick want to see her again because he missed her? Or because he was hoping to have a repeat of the last time he came to visit her? What did he expect? How was she supposed to act? Would it be awkward seeing him again?

       "Listen, I hate to cut this short, but I have to run. We have an interview we have to get done before sound check this afternoon and I'm sure you want to get back to bed. So, I'll mail you the tickets as soon as I get a hold of them and I'll call you again sooner to the date, so we can make arrangements to meet up."

       "Ok sounds good to me. Thanks a lot Nick."

       "No problem babe. Sleep tight."

       "I will. Bye," she promised him as she hung up her phone. Exhaling a huge breath she just sat there stunned for a moment. She had always known inevitably she would have to come face to face with Nick again and her mind had painted up about a thousand and one different scenarios, but knowing that it was definitely going to be happening in just a few weeks frightened her a little. How are we going to be around each other after everything that just happened between us? What's going to happen? Are we going to pretend that his last night in New York never happened? Or are we going to pick up exactly where things left off?

       You have plenty of time to worry about these things,
she tried to tell herself. The concert is a little less than two months away. There's no use in overanalyzing the situation right at this moment. With that in mind, she curled back down underneath her covers and attempted to fall asleep, fighting to keep any thoughts of Nick out of her mind.

       She had a horrible time trying to fall asleep and when she finally did, she wasn't the least bit surprised to be welcomed by more dreams about her past relationship with him...


       Alyssa has just finished applying a fresh coat of lip gloss to her lips when she heard her door bell ringing. "Damn it! I told her I wasn't ready yet!" she cursed to herself as she headed towards the door. "I'm coming Izzy! Just give me two seconds!"

       "I thought I told you not to come by for another half-" The words became scrambled in her throat as she opened the door and found not Izzy, who was supposed to be coming by to pick her up for a fun night of clubbing, but Nick instead, clutching a bouquet of roses. Alyssa stood there in complete shock for almost a complete minute before Nick finally spoke up.

       "Are you going to invite me in or do I have to stand out here all night? It's starting to rain, you know."

       Alyssa stepped back from the door allowing him to enter her apartment. "I don't understand. What are you doing here? You're supposed to be in New York with the rest of the guys. How'd you get here?"

       "A plane," he simply answered. After Alyssa shot him a look that indicated she didn't appreciate his humor he sobered up. "I got your message and I thought things over and decided that right now I need to worry more about my personal life than my career. I'm 'sick' or at least that's the excuse the rest of the guys are giving about my absence. They can handle the rest of the promo by themselves."

       "But what about your fans?" Alyssa asked.

       Nick shrugged. "They'll get over it. You're more important to me."

       Alyssa could feel her insides begin to melt with his last sentence and it took all her self control not to run right into his arms. She still had to remember that they were not in the clear yet. They still had a lot they needed to discuss. "I wish you would've told me about Katie."

       "I didn't know how to," he confessed. "I was afraid you'd flip out and you'd probably break up with me anyway. I thought that by breaking up with you I was just saving you an extra step."

       "I know. Izzy told me all about your rationale. I can't say I agree with it, but I suppose its the thought that counts."

       Nick narrowed his eyes at her. "So, you're saying that you would've been completely calm if I just dropped the bombshell about Katie being pregnant on you?"

       Alyssa thought about it and laughed a little. "You're right. I probably would have still flipped out, but after I'd calmed down and had some time to think it over I'd probably come to the realization that you weren't exactly pleased with the news either and if I really loved you I'd try to stand by you and help you through this."

       He looked serious all of a sudden. "And is that the conclusion that you've came to?"

       She thought for a moment before speaking. "Yes. To tell you the truth I HATE the idea that there's some other woman out there who is having your child and I won't lie, I'm going to be jealous of her. I don't like the situation one bit, but I also don't want to lose you. We may not have been together very long, but I know that we have so much potential and if we can work through this, we can get through anything."

       Her eyes searched for some kind of reaction from him and her breathing seemed to come to a stand still. She began to wonder if perhaps maybe her little speech had went a little too overboard. Maybe he didn't agree with her? Finally after what seemed like an eternity to her, Nick's face finally broke into an expression of relief. "I was hoping that you'd say something like that. I was kind of afraid that you finding out that Katie's pregnant would be the last straw. That after that you'd want nothing more to do with me, and I can't say I would've blamed you. I've fucked things up something horrible between us just by making some really stupid choices, but I really hope that you'll give me a chance to try and make it up to you. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about Katie or the baby yet, but I am sure that whatever happens I want you to be right there at my side. I love you Alyssa."

       Alyssa could feel her heartbeat quicken at his last four words. Did he really love her? He had said used that phrase once before, but then admitted that he didn't really consider if he had really meant it or not. "Do you really mean that this time?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper.

       "Yes," he admitted, looking her straight in the eye before repeating his words again. "I really do love you. I just never realized that I did until I almost lost you."

       At this point Alyssa could barely control the tears building up in the corners of her eyes. "I love you too," she managed to choke out before rushing towards his arms. She buried her head in his chest, inhaling the familiar scent of his cologne, as they wrapped around her body, pulling her closer to him. She found herself amazed at the familiarity of his embrace and how safe she felt there. She had to admit that she'd definitely missed him.

       A chill ran over her arms as his fingertips drifted downwards to cup her face. Before she knew it, their lips were only inches apart from each other. Closing her eyes, her arms instinctively wrapped themselves around his neck, guiding him into the inevitable kiss that she craved. As Alyssa enjoyed the familiar taste of his lips on hers, she came to the realization that no matter what Nick decided to do about the baby, she would be supportive of him. He was exactly where she belonged.


       What is with these dreams tonight?
Alyssa wondered as she woke up for a second time. The last dream had left her particularly unnerved. Its significance wasn't exactly a mystery. Deep down, she really did feel as if she belonged with Nick, despite whatever doubts might be surrounding them, just as she had felt that night when he had surprised her on the doorstep.

       She grinned as she thought back on that night. They had been so engrossed in making up that she had almost completely forgotten that Izzy was supposed to come over to pick her up. Just picturing the look of surprise on her face when she finally did stop by and saw Nick (who from Izzy's understanding was supposed to be in New York) was enough to almost send Alyssa into a fit of giggles. They had to practically kick Izzy out with Alyssa promising to explain everything the next morning. Yea...That definitely was a good night, she longingly thought.

       For more than one reason too. Later on, after Izzy had left they'd started the new beginning to their relationship in the most appropriate way they could. That had been the night they had made love for the first time.

       Ironically enough, it had also been the very same night that Meg had flown back to Florida after fighting with a concerned AJ about her health. A chill went through Alyssa, as she remembered her sister passing out on the kitchen floor, her own frightened screams waking Nick. So much for post sex bliss, she sarcastically thought. Instead of spending the night wrapped up in each others arms, they had spent it in the waiting room of the ER, scared and confused.

       It's like we never were allowed to be completely happy,
she realized. Every time even a hint of happiness began to creep into our relationship, something had to happen to go and ruin it.

       Of course she was just thankful that her sister was alive and healthy, today. Maybe it hadn't exactly been a good night, but it had definitely been one of her most emotional ones.

       Glancing at her clock again she saw that it was about 6:00 am. The sun was already starting to peek its way through the blinds on her window. Normally she'd try to sneak in at least another half hour or so of sleep, but what was the use? Even if she were to fall back asleep, she didn't any more emotional memories to haunt her dreams.

       With a sigh, she pulled the covers off of her body and willed her body to get up. "And so starts another day," she muttered. Another day closer until I see Nick again.