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Author's Chapter Notes:

Sean delivers some unsuspecting news to Alyssa prompting her to make a big desicion.

Chapter 2 – Jumping the Gun

Alyssa quickly found herself adjusting to married life just fine. It wasn’t as if she’d never lived with a guy (she’d lived with Nick for a few months while they had been engaged when she was younger) before so that didn’t come as a shock to her. Yea having to worry about bills and managing money was something that she really didn’t have to worry too much about with Nick, but it wasn’t as bad as she had thought it would be. Being in the military offered Sean all kinds of financial assistance and Alyssa had been able to get another teaching job fairly easily in a high needs district. Even though she’d been teaching general education down in North Carolina, she was also certified in special education, an area that seemed to be in high demand in California. She was hired right before the new school year started as a special education teacher dealing with a blended class of third an fourth grade learning disabled students. She wasn’t sure how she’d adapt to dealing with children with special needs, but after only a week or two she realized ho much she loved it. She had a class of eleven students who were all sweethearts in her eyes. She had one student that was a bit of a behavior problem, but was manageable and Alyssa found herself actually quite drawn to him and his quirkiness.

Besides the excitement about her new job, Alyssa also became friendly with some of her new neighbors. There were two couples in particular that her and Sean hit it off with. There was Callie and Steve, who lived across the street. They were about Alyssa’s age and had known each other since high school. They’d been married almost six years now and had two children, Carly age four and Richard, age two. Alyssa couldn’t imagine being twenty-eight and already married for that long already, but if things had worked out between her and Nick the first time around, she’d be in the same boat. It was scary to think about. Then there was Kim and Ian, who lived next door to Alyssa and Sean. Ian was about Sean’s age and Kim was only twenty-three, but they’d already been married a little over a year. Alyssa couldn’t get over how early most of the couples around her age had gotten married, but Sean had explained that in a field where the future was so unclear, many young people involved in the military wound up marrying and having children relatively young in their life. Kim was pregnant with their first child, who was to be born in the spring.

Alyssa found it a relief to have some female friends on the base. Yea, she wasn’t very far from Izzy, Teri, and Tricia, but since she’d gotten married she hadn’t really made plans to contact any of them outside of Izzy and that was mostly because of Grace. She’d kept a low profile from the other girls because quite frankly she didn’t want to run into the possibility of running into Nick and Shayla. It was almost inevitable that it would happen sooner or later now that they were living less than an hour away from each other and they sort of ran in the same group of friends. She hadn’t yet explained to Sean that not only did Nick, her ex boyfriend live in LA, but was kind of pretty well known to put it mildly. She knew that the longer she waited to tell Sean, the messier it would be when he finally did find out, but she just couldn’t come up with an ideal way of bringing it up.

So, the first two or three months of marriage flew by rather smoothly for the new couple, but of course there was bound to be bumps in the road at some point or another and they encountered the first one of those bumps one evening in mid October. Alyssa had been in the middle of making dinner when Sean walked in from work, an obvious look of concern on his brow.

“Hey honey. How was work?” she asked him, standing up on her tip toe to give him a welcoming peck on his lips.

Sean just shrugged. “A bit of a rough day,” he grumbled, looking very sullen.

Alyssa immediately seemed concerned. “What happened? Is everything okay?”

Sean just shook his head. “I think that maybe we should go sit down. I have something that I need to talk to you about.”

“All right,” she agreed as she followed him into the living room and sank down onto the couch already getting a bad feeling about what her husband had to say. The news certainly didn’t seem like it was going to be good at all and she could already feel a heavy feeling beginning to build up in her chest.

She watched as Sean settled himself next to her and laced his hand with hers. He was silent for a moment, probably trying to collect his thoughts, so Alyssa took the moment to start the conversation herself. “So, what is this all about? What happened today at work that’s so serious?”

Sean bit his lip. “I got a feeling that this might happen, especially because people say that they ship you out to California before they ship you out of the country. I just didn’t want to say anything because I didn’t want to upset you. This was one of the reasons I wanted us to get married so fast. I wanted you to be taken care of in case anything happens to me.”

“Sean, what are you talking about?” she interrupted. “You’re talking like you’re on your deathbed or something. Are you being transferred someplace already?”

“I guess you could say that.” Sean sighed. “I found out today that my troop is going to be sent over to Iraq. It’s no longer a matter of if; it’s a matter of when.”

“Oh God…” Alyssa’s hand instantly flew to her mouth. Iraq? That was bad news. All she could think about were the thousands of soldiers that were killed or seriously injured over there within the past few years. She’d always known that there was a strong possibility of him winding up over there at one point or another, but she’d always just hoped that the war would end before that could happen. “Do you have any idea how much time you have before they send you?”

Sean shrugged. “Not really. It depends on a lot. It could be months from now, but it could also be in a few weeks if things get bad enough. It all depends on the situation over there. We were just told to be prepared.”

Alyssa sat back against the couch and sighed, trying to digest the news. She didn’t want to think of the possibility of Sean getting sent over to Iraq, especially so soon into their marriage. She’d be devastated if she lost him. Now she understood why so many women were hesitant to get involved with men in the military. She certainly didn’t want to end up a widow within her very first year of marriage.

“Alyssa there’s something else I want to talk to you about,” his voice interrupted her stunned silence. There was more? Alyssa wasn’t sure how many more bombshells she could take.

She swallowed hard. “What?”

“I know this is a lot to take in at once, but I’ve been doing a lot of thinking even before I found out that I’d be going over to Iraq. I always considered the possibility. You have to in this field,” he explained. “Anyway I started to think about my future. About what happens if I don’t come back-“

“Sean please don’t talk like that, okay? I don’t even want to consider that possibility,” she interrupted him.

“Please let me finish,” he begged. “Like I said before if anything happens to me you’ll definitely be well taken care of.” He swallowed hard. “There are all sorts of programs that take care of deceased soldier’s spouses and families. I don’t like thinking this morbidly either, but someone has to.” Again he paused as if he weren’t sure how exactly to bring up the delicate subject. “I know that we haven’t been married very long, so it’s painful to be thinking about these things already. There’s just one thing though that I really wanted to do before I get sent over to Iraq.”

“And that is?”

Sean licked his lips. “I really want to start a family. I know its way earlier than you wanted. I know that you always said that you’d want to wait about two years before trying to have kids, but I might not have two years and just in case something does happen to me over in Iraq I want to leave a piece of me behind for you and my family to remember me by.”

Again Alyssa was stunned. She could totally see where he was coming from. The two of them had discussed the possibility of having kids together in the future. Alyssa especially had always wanted to be a mother when the time was right. She just wanted to be fully settled into married life first before even beginning to try. But now with Sean being sent off to Iraq, things were different. She’d love to provide him with a child and fulfill his wish of becoming a father, but she also had to look at it from what would be best for a child. What if something did happen to Sean in Iraq? Then she’d be a single parent left to raise a child by herself. Would that really be fair to a kid? She’d want to be able to provide it with both a mother and a father and a stable home life. Could she really give a child the best life on her own? And then what happened if he was in Iraq and missed the birth? It wasn’t like with Tristan and Izzy where he could jump on a plane and make it just in time. She’d seen firsthand how frightened Izzy had been during Grace’s delivery when she thought that Tristan wouldn’t make it. She didn’t want to wind up in the same position. “Wow… Sean, I mean this is a lot to take in right now,” she managed to get out too confused about her feelings to really give him any solid response.

Sean looked sympathetic. “I know it is and I realize that you probably need some time to really think about it. I mean it’s your body and I respect that. I don’t need an answer right this second. It’s just something I want you to think about. No rush, but I’d like to start trying as soon as possible. I don’t know how much time we really have.”

Alyssa just nodded her head. “I’ll seriously think about it. I can completely see where you’re coming from; I just don’t know if I’m ready.”

“Fair enough.” Sean stood up from the couch. “I’m going to go change and wash up before dinner. I’ll be back down in a few.” She watched him disappear up the flight of steps to their bedroom.

Alyssa sighed as she lay across the couch and stared up at the ceiling above her. She definitely had a lot of serious thinking to do and she had no clue where exactly she should even start.

The next evening after spending the whole day weighing the pros and cons of trying to have a baby with Sean at this point in their marriage, Alyssa decided that she needed the advice of somebody who had plenty of experience when it came to marriage, her mother. It was very seldom that she went to her mother for advice, but she felt like this was the kind of situation that only her mother could help her with. Taking out her phone, she dialed the number of her parent’s home in New York. The phone rang twice before she recognized her mother’s familiar tone on the other end.

“Alyssa honey, how’s everything going?” Patricia Martinelli greeted her middle daughter.

“Not so good Mom. Actually that’s kind of the reason why I called,” she began. “I need some advice.”

Patricia’s voice immediately rose with concern. “Now don’t tell me you and Sean are already having trouble?”

“Not exactly. We’re doing fine. Great in fact! We’ve just gotten some upsetting news, that’s all.”

Her mother sounded puzzled. “What kind of news exactly?”

Alyssa took in a deep breath. “Sean just found out that he’s being deployed to Iraq. Not right away, but it could be soon enough. He’s not exactly sure when it’ll be because it all depends on how things are going with the war. All he knows is that he’s definitely going at some point or another.”

Patricia gasped. “Oh, sweetie I’m really sorry to hear that. I’ll keep the two of you in my prayers. That must have been very upsetting for you.”

“It has been Mom… We’re barely married! I don’t even want to imagine the prospect of losing him, especially so early on in the game. He’s all talking about ‘in case something happens’ and it’s really freaking me out. And do you know as soon as he heard he was being transferred to California he got the feeling that he was going to be shipped off to Iraq. In fact, he told me that the real reason he wanted to push our wedding ahead was because if he did wind up there and something happened to him ‘I’d be taken care of,’’ she confessed. “I don’t know whether I should be pissed that he had his suspicions and never told me or if I should be touched that he loves me enough to consider my future like that.”

“Well, that is very responsible of him to want to make sure that if God forbid he wasn’t around that you’d be alright on your own. That’s what a good husband should do. It’s his job to look out for the best interests of his wife and family,” her mother explained.

Alyssa just sadly smiled at her mother’s philosophy. Her parents of course were very old fashioned and they respected the fact that Sean acknowledged many of their ideas and practices. In some ways, Sean could also be considered very traditional that way. He definitely had the whole ‘because I’m the male I should be the breadwinner’ belief down pat. Even though he never said it, Alyssa sometimes got the sense that after they began to start a family, Sean would rather her abandon teaching and become a stay at home Mom like Callie. “And to think… All this time I kept thinking about all the things I missed out on by moving the wedding up and he was only trying to do what might be best for me in the long run. I’m a terrible, horrible, ungrateful, person, aren’t I?”

Patricia just lightly laughed. “I don’t think I’d go that far honey. I can see how you probably feel guilty now that you know his true intentions, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting things the way you’ve always imagined them. That doesn’t make you a horrible person. We all have things that we wished we could’ve done differently in our lives. The difference between being ungrateful and wishing things could’ve been slightly different is having regrets. Do you regret marrying Sean at all?”

“No of course not,” she honestly answered.

“Do you love him?”

“Of course I do.”

“Then that’s all that matters. Whether you ran off and eloped or had a small, tiny, wedding, or even some fancy million dollar wedding none of that would change right?”

“No it wouldn’t. You’re right Mom,” Alyssa finally admitted. “I just wish I knew sooner. In a morbid way I think that might just be the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me.” She paused for a moment before dropping the second half of her dilemma on Patricia. Finally clearing her throat she found the courage to blurt out the problem that had been eating away at her non stop over the past twenty-four hours. “Sean wants to try to start a family before he leaves for Iraq. You know in case anything happens, but I just don’t know if I’m ready yet to be a Mom.”

She could practically picture her mother’s expression softening on the other end of the line. “Oh Alyssa, I wish I could tell you what to do about that one, but that has to be your decision. To be completely honest, you know I’d be overjoyed to find out that I was going to be a Grandma. You know how Meg can’t have children on her own, so it would be amazing to know that I’d finally get a grandchild. You’re married now and granted you haven’t been married long, but it’s still legitimate. I know that you would’ve liked to wait longer, but the circumstances are certainly unique enough. You have my support no matter what you decide to do though. And for the record I think you’d make an outstanding mother Alyssa.”

“You really think so?” she asked in a small voice.

“Of course! You have the patience of a saint and you obviously have plenty of experience with children as a teacher. I don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be. You’ve always looked forward to having a family. I’m not sure exactly what’s holding you back,” Patricia pointed out.

Alyssa sighed. “I guess the main thing is as much as I understand how important to Sean it is to leave a piece of himself behind to carry on another generation, especially if he doesn’t…” she stopped and swallowed hard. “…make it back; I also have to think about whether or not I’m at a place in my life right now where I could handle raising a child on my own. I know how much work a child is because I see it with Izzy and Grace, but at least Izzy has Tristan around to help her out. I can’t imagine doing it on my own.”

“That’s completely understandable Lyss. You just have to know that God forbid something does happen to Sean, and I certainly hope it doesn’t because you know how much I approve of him, that your father and I and Meg and Stephanie would be more than happy to help you out in any way that we can. And I’m sure that Sean’s family would feel exactly the same. You also have a wonderful group of friends who I’m sure would provide you with a support system if needed. Before you reach any decisions you just need to realize that you are not alone, all right?”

“Thanks for the advice Mom. You’ve been a big help,” Alyssa told her. “I think that I need to do some more thinking, but it definitely helps to get your perspective on the situation.”

“In the end you just have to do what your heart tells you is right,” Patricia wisely explained.

That Alyssa realized was probably the single most valuable piece of advice her mother had ever given her.

Later on that night after soaking in a hot bubble bath for over an hour mulling over her mother’s advice, Alyssa finally felt confident that she had reached a decision. She waited to discuss it with Sean until they’d slipped under the covers that night for bed. As soon as they’d turned out the lights and Alyssa began her speech. “I think that I’ve finally reached a decision about the whole baby thing,” she began a little nervously.

“Yea?” Sean rolled over so that he was facing her, looking very interested in what she had to say. “And?”

“I really was having some doubts about it until I talked to my mother on the phone earlier tonight and she definitely eased my fears. I was really scared of the possibility that I’d have to wind up raising a child on my own, which is something I’d never voluntarily do. I feel like I was so lucky to be raised by two parents especially when so many of my friend’s parents were divorced or split up. I’d never want to put a child in a situation like that, but this is different. It’s not like you want to leave. You’re doing something honorable for your country and this might sound like something out of some cheesy World War II movie or something, but if you’re killed, you’ll die a hero and I don’t think that would be a horrible situation for a child, knowing that you at least died for your country. It would be something to be proud of. And my Mom already assured me that in the event of tragedy she and the rest of my family would do anything they possibly could to help me out. That and she assured me that I’d make in her words, an ‘outstanding mother.’ So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, let’s go for it.”

“So, you’re positive about this then?” Sean asked her. “Because I don’t want you to feel like I’m pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to.”

“You’re not pressuring me at all,” she confidently replied. “I want to do this. Not only do I feel like I owe you this after everything you’ve done for me, but I really have always wanted to be a mother. Why not now? It’s not what I expected, but that’s okay. Life doesn’t always turn out the way you’ve planned it and I think I’ve finally accepted that.” She grabbed a hold of his hands and looked him square in the eye. “Let’s make a baby.”

She could tell just by the way Sean’s eyes seemed to light up that he was ecstatic with her decision. He gripped her shoulders and kissed her slowly and tenderly as if to show his appreciation. Alyssa returned the gesture savoring the moment before Sean reluctantly pulled away and smirked at her. “You know that this is going to require us to have a lot of sex, right?”

Alyssa just grinned. “And that’s a problem?” Without waiting for a response, she hooked her arms around his neck and leaned in for another kiss.

Unlike Alyssa and Sean, Nick and Shayla’s marriage had gone well over a year without any major problems. They’d joked together that probably the only reason that it had gone so smoothly was because they had both been so involved in so many other things that they didn’t really have much time to fight. Shayla had been busy covering any entertainment event that she could and had just recently launched her own weekly web series on E!’s website where she’d go behind the scenes at Hollywood’s most talked about parties. She was currently in talks to bring the web series into her own weekly TV show with the same premise.

Nick had been even busier than Shayla. The past year had been one of the busiest of his life. Not only had he finished recording the Backstreet Boys latest CD, Unbreakable, but they’d released it last October and completed a world tour for it. Somewhere in between all of that the movie he had appeared in, Fast Glass, had premiered and then Nick began working on something that he’d always dreamt of doing. He began to work on starting up his own record label, Kaotic Records. He hadn’t had a lot of time to focus on the project, but now that the tour had finally wrapped up he could focus almost all of his time onto searching for new artists to sign and developing those that he already had. Since arriving home he’d been pulling long hours in the studio to make up for lost time.

But no relationship could go perfectly and it wasn’t long before the two of them hit their first rough patch as well. It had all started off so simply too…

The night started out like any other normal night. Nick arrived home from the studio after another long day of record label business. “Hey babe,” he greeted his wife who was sprawled out on their living room couch, seeming very absorbed in some kind of magazine article. “I’m home.”

“That’s nice. How was your day?” Shayla asked almost mechanically, not even taking her eyes off of the print in front of her.

Nick frowned. “What are you reading that’s so interesting? More of that tabloid garbage you love?”

“When your job is to report celebrity gossip you need to be up on the latest scandals, but no… I’m not reading a tabloid.”

“Well, then what is it then?” he asked curiously as he peeked a little closer. Before he could get any closer, Shayla had swiftly hid the magazine under a throw pillow. “Come on… What’s the big secret?”

“It’s no secret just you’ll make a big thing about it,” Shayla mysteriously responded.

Nick rolled his eyes. “If you’re reading Playgirl then go right ahead. If that’s the kind of thing that really turns you on then I won’t make a big thing about it. I might never let you live it down, but-“

“I’m not reading Playgirl,” she huffed as she playfully threw the pillow at his head.

“So, let me see then.” He reached to grab the magazine from Shayla’s hands, but Shayla had rolled over so that she was lying on top of it, preventing him from getting a good look. With a mischievous grin, he dove on top of her, grabbing her by her waist and tickling her. As her body writhed in laughter, he was easily able to wrench the magazine from her grasp that was now horribly wrinkled. “Parent?” his voice filled with confusion as he read the title of the publication on the cover. “You’re reading a parenting magazine? Please tell me that this has to do with some sort of research you’re doing for a story. Like something about what’s in style when it comes to the babies of Hollywood?”

Shayla snatched the magazine out of his hand while she smoothed down her hair. “Don’t patronize me. Maybe I just like reading for pleasure.”

“Ooh patronize… Big word there,” he teased. “But seriously uhmm is there something you need to tell me?”

“No… I’m reading a parenting magazine,” she replied. “They have interesting articles sometimes. Its useful information for whenever we decide to start our own little family.”

Nick could feel is stomach drop. “Uhh, say that again?”

“For when we start our own family. Come on Nick…” She looked at him like he was dense. “Don’t you ever think about maybe having kids someday?”

“No,” he quite simply answered. “I really don’t think I’m cut out to be father material.”

“You’d make a great father! I don’t know what you’re talking about. And you’d have to admit that we’d make some pretty awesome looking babies,” she joked, but then frowned when she saw the scared expression on Nick’s face. “You really don’t want kids, do you?”

Nick shrugged. “I used to think I did, but now I don’t know. Right now I’m just content with doing what I’m doing. I have my label and there are so many other things I want to do. Kids just don’t fit into my plans.”

Shayla’s face fell. “Is there any reason? I mean does this have to do with your parents or something?”

Nick looked away. He’d never told Shayla about Katie and Serena. Look at the job he’d done there… Since that experience he’d been very wary of having kids in the future. The only woman that he’d even considered the option of having children with in the future had been Alyssa because she was so great with kids. One of the reasons he’d felt so comfortable with Shayla now was because she was always so career driven, he assumed that she would be the type not to want children. They’d never had the conversation, but he just couldn’t picture Shayla as a mother. She was too high maintenance for motherhood in his eyes. But how could he tell her that without hurting her feelings? So instead of the truth he found the closest excuse he could. “It’s just right now I really want to focus on my career and I thought you did to. No one’s going to be interested in watching a pregnant woman waddle around to the hottest LA night clubs and interview celebrities. Your network is never going to go for that.”

Shayla sighed and brought her knees into her chest. “I guess you’re right Nick. Now’s not the time to be thinking about it. Not with everything we have in front of us.”

Nick couldn’t help and notice the defeat in her voice and somehow he got the impression that this wouldn’t be the last time the subject would rear its ugly head between them.