Chapter 18 – Reality Sets In
The next morning Alyssa shifted her body as she felt herself begin to awaken. She hadn’t yet opened her eyes, but she already had a dull headache between her temples and her body ached something fierce. Slowly she opened her eyes and realized that she wasn’t in her own bed causing her to shoot up into a sitting position. As she sat up the covers slipped off her chest and she looked down realizing she was naked underneath.
It was then that the details from last night flew back to her. She’d stormed out after that tense fight with Sean and driven out to the condo in the pouring rain, but when she’d arrived, she hadn’t been alone. Her stomach turned as her eyes slowly traveled sideways almost hoping that she wouldn’t be met with the same sight that she knew she would be.
Sure enough, lying beside her was Nick, who was still sleeping peacefully and Alyssa was pretty positive that underneath the sheets he was quite naked there himself. Why should I even be surprised anymore? she wondered to herself with a sigh. Not like this a new look for us at all. How many times had it been that after swearing that she wouldn’t let herself fall into his charms again, she’d woken up in this exact same position? Of course this time things were a lot different. This wasn’t just a harmless hook up, this time. They were a lot older now and married to other people, making what they’d just done pretty much unforgivable in most eyes. Granted, Nick intended on divorcing Shayla, but the papers hadn’t even been drafted up yet, which still made him a married man. And her? There was no excuse. She’d just been selfish. She’d let her dissatisfaction with Sean lead her right back to Nick for nothing more than a quick fix. I’m a horrible person, she realized.
A small part of her though couldn’t deny that the sex last night had just been downright amazing. It actually kind of scared her how intense it had been. As she’d confided in Teri and Tricia a few weeks earlier, she’d always kind of wondered what it would be like between them now that she’d become so much more comfortable with herself and now she certainly had the answer. If she had known that would’ve been the result, she probably would’ve worked a lot harder a lot sooner on all her personal issues. She could tell just by some of Nick’s reactions last night that he was pleasantly surprised by the changes in her. And then there were the changes in Nick too… She’d noticed some personal changes in him just by talking and hanging out with him, but last night she’d seen some even deeper changes. In their previous relationships with each other, he hadn’t always been so considerate and concerned about her enjoyment and that side of him had been such a turn on. She had to admit that she’d been more than a little sexually frustrated the past few months, so it probably wouldn’t have taken much to turn her on anyway, but to actually have a man worry about putting her first for once was just incredible. Then there had been that connection they seemed to have. It was very tempting to further explore that, but she didn’t plan on it. As it was this was going to be complicated enough. She wasn’t sure if it was something that she could put behind her and lock away as a secret.
She wasn’t sure what was going to happen this time around. Last night had made her realize that there was definitely some pretty intense feelings between her and Nick; feelings that could threaten her entire marriage to Sean. It blew her mind just how much one night could change everything. She wasn’t sure where this would lead to. If Nick was serious about divorcing Shayla, Alyssa could feasibly have another chance with him. But could she honestly in good faith leave Sean especially with him heading off to Iraq? He hadn’t been the best husband lately, but Alyssa couldn’t deny that things hadn’t always been this way. Hadn’t he been the one to completely open her up and make her realize that she did have a lot to offer? How ironic was it that he’d invested all that time in effort, only to give her the very confidence she needed to be the type of woman Nick had always wanted her to be? She just couldn’t do that to him, especially at this point in the game. They hadn’t even tried to work out their marital problems. She couldn’t just up and leave him without at least trying something to make things better. And would Nick even want a relationship with her? What if Shayla’s betrayal derailed all his progress and sent him exactly back into the kind of man he was after his breakup with Paris? There was no way that Alyssa was going stand to be reduced to just a fuck buddy this time.
Izzy was right. Nick and I just probably aren’t meant to be friends, she realized. It’s just impossible for us to get along and not wind up sleeping together at some point down the road. This friendship was definitely a mistake.
Knowing what she needed to do; Alyssa slid out from under the covers searching the ground for her clothes, but then remembered that they were still in the laundry room. She groaned a little not wanting to take the chance of waking Nick by using one of the blankets to cover herself. She stood up crossing her arms in front of her to shield her body from the cool air of the room and made her way towards the laundry room. When she reached the room she stepped over the haphazardly strewn articles of clothing on the floor, only stopping to retrieve her undergarments and then opened up the dryer to fish out her jeans and tank top. She hurriedly got dressed and headed for the front door where she’d kicked off her flip flops and thrown her jacket. She grabbed her purse and car keys and was about to step out the front door when she paused for a moment. Maybe I should at least leave him a note or something? she wondered. She quickly dismissed the idea, but something prevented her from fully walking out the door. Knowing that she needed to give herself some sense of closure, she tentatively headed back into the bedroom where Nick still lay sleeping peacefully.
She looked down at him almost feeling guilty for not sticking around and attempting to talk about what had happened. She was definitely taking the cowardly way out, but she was just too confused right now to face him. She needed time to sort out all the complicated feelings going through her head. Hell, he was probably just as confused as she was. Maybe even more so since he was still trying to stomach Shayla’s lies. Not wanting to wake him, she leaned down and dropped a light kiss on his cheek. “Thanks for last night,” she whispered, more for herself than for him to actually hear her. “I wish that things could’ve been different.”
Alyssa turned on her heels and headed out of the room, too afraid that he’d wake up to find her standing over him. Right now she found the overwhelming need to head back home and face Sean. He had to be pretty worried about her by now. She’d turned her cell phone off, so he couldn’t reach her. She wasn’t looking forward to it, but knew that it needed to be done. With a sigh, she took one last look around the condo and headed out the front door.
Nick stirred in his sleep as he thought he felt the presence of another person at his side, but before he could really process it, the feeling was gone and he chalked it up to a dream. He was straddling the line between dreaming and waking up when he was jarred awake by the far off sound of a door closing and a car starting up from outside. He sat up, his eyes immediately drawn to the empty spot beside him where Alyssa had laid only a few hours earlier. Shit… She’s leaving, he realized as he sprang out of bed, hoping to stop her, but soon realized that his efforts were in vain. He couldn’t run out of the house naked and by the time he grabbed at least a fresh pair of boxers from his suitcase, she’d be long gone. “Damn it!” he cursed, collapsing back onto the bed.
He knew that Alyssa had to have woken up, realized the enormity of what they had just done, and freaked out, her first instinct being to run. He’d hoped that they’d have woken up in each others arms and been able to talk about what transpired between them the night before. What had happened last night had definitely been a lot more than sex. He’d felt the almost electric connection between them and knew that it had to account for something. He’d had enough meaningless sex in his lifetime to know the difference. And if he felt it, he was certain that Alyssa had to have felt it too. Why else would she run like a bat out of hell first thing this morning?
He supposed that out of the two of them, she was the one who had the most to lose. He and Shayla were definitely on the outs, so he could honestly care less about betraying her. It couldn’t be any worse than the way she had betrayed him. But unlike with his spouse, Alyssa was struggling to improve things with Sean and Nick had taken advantage of that. He really hadn’t intended to make things more complicated for her. In fact, Nick was still pretty firm in his belief that she needed last night. Despite all his efforts to try and give Sean a fair chance, he just wasn’t impressed with the guy. Still Alyssa seemed to cling onto him and Nick wasn’t exactly sure why. Maybe it had something to do with her feeling as if it was her duty to give him a child in case something happened to him in Iraq. Whatever the case, he knew Alyssa, and he knew that she’d beat herself up over the situation and blame herself for letting her selfish desires control her actions. He wanted to reassure her and let her know that she didn’t have to feel guilty for acting on her impulses. In fact, he found it incredibly hot that she now had the confidence to do so. He’d been shocked by how much less guarded Alyssa had been last night and he definitely felt that her confidence only added to the experience. It made him only want more of her.
He shook his head, trying to erase that thought from his head. What was he thinking? He wasn’t even sure what he wanted right now. He still was in the midst of gathering up the nerve to divorce Shayla. He was in no position to be thinking about a relationship with another woman until that was taken care of. And even when that was settled, Alyssa was still involved with Sean. If he was over in Iraq she wouldn’t exactly have an easy time if she decided to divorce him to be with Nick. And then if something happened to Sean in Iraq he knew that Alyssa couldn’t just run off with him immediately in good conscience.
Aren’t you getting a little ahead of yourself there? he asked himself. He almost wanted to slap himself with how whipped he was sounding. Since when did one night of sex turn him into this? But with them it wasn’t just one night of sex. It was a continuous cycle. One that he thought had stopped three years ago, but now they’d just given it another spin.
Nick sighed. He had to admit that there was nothing more he could do at the moment, but to give Alyssa her space. He could try giving her a phone call later, but she’d probably block his calls, being too freaked out to handle speaking to him so soon. All he could do was sit around and wait.
Alyssa creaked open the front door of her home, trying to enter as inconspicuously as possible. Of course that was impossible to do with Sean nervously pacing the living room, obviously worried about her whereabouts. As soon as he heard the door, his body stiffened and his head shot up towards the direction of the sound. Alyssa was immediately flooded with guilt when she saw the dark circles and worried expression on his face. The poor guy looked like he hadn’t slept all night. “Where were you?” he demanded, rushing over to embrace her. “I was worried sick about you, especially with the weather we were having. I thought for sure that you’d crashed into a tree or something and was lying dead by the road or at one of the nearby hospitals. I almost started calling a few of them.”
This made Alyssa feel even guiltier and she stood as still as a statue as he hugged her. “I’m sorry,” she quietly apologized. “I just needed to get away for the night.”
“I understand. I just would’ve felt safer if I knew where you were and who you were with. I already know you weren’t at Izzy’s because she was the first person I called and she swore to me that she hadn’t seen you all night.” His eyebrows rose. “So, where were you?”
This was it. If she could convincingly lie her way out of this one, hopefully she could just move on and put the entire previous night behind her. “I spent the night at Teri and Howie’s.” She knew that this was a safe excuse because Sean did not have their number, so he wouldn’t have called there and she knew that she could always depend on Teri to cover for her with no questions asked. “I’m sorry. I should’ve called.”
“Yes, you should have! Then maybe I’d have actually been able to get some sleep last night!”
Alyssa must’ve looked like she was about to break into tears because Sean’s hard expression slowly began to soften. “I’m sorry for yelling at you. I was just really concerned about you. You were right. I was an ass to bring up the baby thing again, especially at that particular moment. I think we do need a break from all the baby talk for now, so I promise we won’t talk about it until we go back to the clinic for the results if that’s what you want.”
All she could do was nod her head in agreement. “Thank you,” she whispered all of a sudden feeling very uncomfortable. She felt dirty and transparent and was sure that any minute now Sean was going to see right through her lies and call her out on them. She found that she couldn’t face him just then. “I think I’m going to go upstairs and take a shower.”
“Okay,” Sean agreed. Not giving him a chance to say anything else, Alyssa turned and headed up the stairs, eager to scrub away the sins of the night before. Hopefully afterwards she’d finally feel a little less guilty.
Later on that night, Alyssa was sitting on her and Sean’s bed dressed in a camisole tank top and gym shorts rubbing moisturizer over her legs. After her shower, she’d managed to avoid Sean for most of the day by making an excuse about needing to do some grocery shopping. In reality, she just needed to get out of the house. After spending most of the afternoon running errands, she’d came home and made something for Sean to eat, but she found that she had no appetite. Instead, she’d come upstairs to change and then hoped to curl up in front of the TV for the rest of the night to get her mind off things. She almost wished that it was Sunday night, so that she had work to look forward to in the morning.
She looked up, hearing the bedroom door open and noticed Sean enter the room and sit down beside her on the bed. “Are you feeling all right?” he asked, sounding concerned.
“Yea, I’m fine,” she lied. “Why are you asking?”
Her husband just shrugged. “You’ve just seemed really distant all day today,” he confessed. “Like not yourself. Are you still mad at me?”
Alyssa shook her head. “No. I’m not mad.”
Sean looked relieved. “Good. I’m glad. I’m really sorry about last night again. I guess I really have been putting so much emphasis on a baby that I’ve lost sight of the two of us as a couple. I’ve really been neglecting you,” he admitted, wrapping his arms around her waist and dropping a light kiss on her shoulder blade.
Alyssa wriggled out of his grasp, uncomfortable with the intimate movement. “It’s fine Sean. You already said you wouldn’t bring it up anymore, so I think we’re good. We meet with Dr. Beard next week and hopefully he’ll have good news for us.”
He grabbed her by the shoulders, forcing her to turn towards him and look him directly in the eye. “I really need you to know that you scared the crap out of me last night. Walking out on me like that… I thought you were walking out for good. I know I haven’t been the best husband lately, but I can’t live without you Alyssa. If I lost you, I don’t know what I’d do. I love you Alyssa.”
He leaned forward and kissed her softly on her lips, but Alyssa felt nothing, but guilt. How could he feel that way about her when in reality she’d betrayed him in the worst way possible with the one person she swore she wouldn’t? There was no way that she could keep up this charade any longer. The tears that she had been bottling up all day long began to flow down her cheeks.
“Lyss I know we’ve been growing through a lot lately, but you don’t need to cry about it,” he tried to comfort her, sweeping away her tears with his thumbs. “We’re going to be okay now. I promise. I’m going to try to be more sensitive to your needs and to be a better husband. I’d even be willing to try marriage counseling if it wasn’t for the fact that I might be deployed soon. I’ve just realized that we could have so little time together and we’re wasting it by letting all this other stupid shit get in the way.”
This is all too little too late! her mind screamed. She tried to come up with some kind of response, but she could only begin to cry harder. She was thankful that Sean thought that she was just so overcome with the emotion of the moment, that she wasn’t sure how else to get her feelings across. She felt his arms wrap around her and gently pull her down so that she was lying right beside him as he stroked her hair and kissed her tears away, but she knew she wasn’t entirely there. She was completely numb to his advances. She could hear him pleading with her not to cry and telling her that everything was going to be better now, but his voice sounded far off to her ears. Before she realized it he was kissing her and she was kissing back, but mostly out of reflex than any real kind of passion. When she felt his hands at the hem of her tank top, her arms almost robotically lifted up over her head to let him remove it. She wasn’t at all in the mood for sex at the moment, but she knew if she turned him away, Sean would only demand some kind of explanation from her.
So for now it was just her going through the motions with him. She knew the routine well enough by now. Even without the so called pressures of working on creating a baby he was being as predictable as always. Better just lay there and at least pretend to somewhat enjoy it. She owed it to him. Besides, it was just easier this way.
Author's Chapter Notes:
Alyssa deals with the aftermath of the previous evening.