Chapter 3 – Six Month Itch
Alyssa was surprised to find that actually trying to get pregnant wasn’t as easy as she’d first thought it would be. She’d always thought that it would be fairly easy. They’d have sex and bam, she’d be pregnant. She’d quickly learned that it didn’t exactly work that way. Since she’d been on birth control for quite a few years now, she discovered that even after she stopped taking her pills, it would take some time for her hormones to regulate themselves, making it a little trickier for her to get pregnant. So far, Alyssa hadn’t gotten too concerned though. They’d only been trying for not even three months yet and with the holidays, things got a little crazy and she’d been a little stressed out. She hoped that maybe within the next month or two things would be different.
But at the moment for once, she and Sean were taking the time to spend some time together that didn’t involve worrying about conceiving a child. It was the six month mark of their marriage and Sean had insisted that they go all out for it; since he couldn’t be certain if he’d be even in the same country as her by the time their one year rolled around. He’d been very vague with what he had planned for her. All Alyssa knew was that it involved a drive to downtown LA and he’d rented a hotel room for them that night, even though they were only at the worst roughly forty-five minutes from LA. When she’d pointed that out to him, he’d just smirked and said something about how they could use a “change in scenery.” Alyssa had just laughed it off, but maybe he was right. Maybe a change in scenery might be just what they needed to conceive a child. It certainly couldn’t hurt.
It had just worked out that their anniversary fell on a Friday night, so after they’d both gotten off from work, they made the drive into LA and checked in to the hotel they were staying at. As soon as they arrived at their room, Sean announced to her that he’d made dinner reservations for the two of them, but had remained silent about exactly where.
Alyssa figured that since it was LA, the chances that the place would be semi-formal, had to be pretty high and she knew that you could never go wrong with a little black dress. And she’d just bought one for this occasion. She’d actually bought it the last time she was down in LA, visiting Izzy and it had been a total impulse purchase. Not only had it been ridiculously expensive, but it was the type of dress that up to about a year ago she’d never have even considered wearing out in public. Even now she sort of doubted if she’d have the guts to wear it for Sean. It was very slinky with a neckline that plunged so low, she’d needed to practically suction cup it to her body. It was the kind of dress that she’d only seen celebrities wear on red carpets. As soon as she’d put it on though, she felt a strange surge of confidence go through her, and she grinned just trying to picture the stunned look on Sean’s face when he saw her in it.
After she was dressed and her hair and makeup were completed she opened the bathroom door a crack. She really couldn’t wait to see Sean’s reaction once she stepped out of the door. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door wider and boldly stepped out into the bedroom. “How do I look?” she asked him, with a hand on her hip.
She couldn’t help, but grin as Sean’s eyes traveled up and down her body. She could tell that he was tongue tied just by his hesitation to speak. Finally seeming to find his voice he crossed the room, so that he was right in front of her. “You look amazing baby,” he managed to choke out as his hands found their way to her waist. His lips pressed down over hers in a heated kiss and Alyssa couldn’t help, but smile as she returned the action. “God, that dress is just… Wow!”
“And just wait until you see what I’ve got on underneath,” she teased, moving in to kiss him again.
“You keep talking like that and we’re going to miss our dinner reservations,” he told her as he reluctantly pulled away. “In fact, we need to be leaving about now if we want to get there in time.”
“Fine,” Alyssa finally gave in. “But after dinner, you’re mine.”
“No complaints here,” Sean assured her as he grabbed her hand. Alyssa quickly retrieved her purse and they headed out of their hotel room hand in hand. Alyssa waited until they were outside of the hotel and in Sean’s car, pulling out of the parking lot, before she found herself too curious to hold back any longer.
“So, when are you going to tell me where we’re going?” she begged.
“You’ll find out,” he mysteriously sang as he began driving up the street. “It’s a surprise.”
“Oh, come on,” she whined. “I probably haven’t even heard of the place, so it’ll still be a surprise.”
Still Sean shook his head. “I don’t know about that. It’s a pretty well known place. Lot’s of celebrities tend to frequent it and stuff.”
Alyssa sighed and crossed her arms over her chest, pretending to pout. “Now you’re just being a tease. Can’t you just tell me?”
He just laughed. “How am I being a tease? You’re the one wearing that dress. If anything you’re the one that’s the tease.
“Fine,” he finally gave in. “I’ll tell you. Ever hear of a place called Koi?”
Alyssa could feel the color drain from her face at the mere mention of the name of the restaurant that Nick had taken her the night before she left LA when she’d visited him over three years ago. She found herself thankful that it was dark and with Sean driving he couldn’t get a good look at the expression on her face. “You’re taking me to Koi?”
Sean must’ve taken the disbelief in her voice as a sign that she was happy and surprised at his choice because his face broke out into a wide grin. “Uh huh… I take it you’re familiar with the place?”
“Yea, I’ve heard of it before,” she lied, not having the heart to tell him that she’d actually eaten there before with her ex boyfriend. Sean looked so pleased with himself that he’d surprised her with such a fancy dinner at such a well known restaurant that Alyssa figured it would be better to tell a little white lie. “That’s awesome.”
If Sean picked up on the sudden lack of enthusiasm in her voice, he did nothing to acknowledge it. The two of them grew silent on the rest of the way to the restaurant, and Alyssa found herself staring out the car window wondering if she really would be able to block out all the memories of Nick and enjoy a peaceful anniversary dinner with her husband. Little did she know at the time, that past memories would be the least of her problems that night.
“This is ridiculous! I’m so glad I made reservations,” Sean grumbled to her over an hour later. “We’ve been sitting here waiting for a table for an hour already! I wonder what the wait would’ve been like if I hadn’t?”
Alyssa sighed as she placed a hand over his. “Maybe they’re just really behind schedule tonight. It is a Friday night. Just be patient. I’m sure we’ll be called any moment now.”
Sean made a face, but didn’t say anything more. They’d arrived at Koi nearly an hour earlier and even though they’d made reservations they were still stuck waiting for a table. Even Alyssa was finding the waiting a little ridiculous, but had kept quiet, not wanting to make a scene. Sean on the other hand, was growing increasingly impatient as the minutes ticked by and was doing little to hide it. He watched as another couple walked in and was seated almost immediately. “Did you see that?” he asked, sounding outraged. “They walked right in and skipped ahead of us! That’s bullshit!”
“I think I recognized her from like a soap opera or something. They have more pull than us, sweetie,” she tried to explain to him. “Are you sure maybe you just don’t want to leave and try getting dinner someplace else? I’m not picky. We could find like an Applebee’s or something?”
“An Applebee’s? No. I wanted to take you out someplace trendy and different and really do something special for you. We’re eating here even if I have to pay off the maître d’,” he stubbornly insisted.
Something about the determination in his voice made Alyssa smile and then giggle until she was full on laughing. “What’s so funny?” he demanded to know. “Why are you laughing at me?”
“Because you’re so cute,” she insisted. “You’re willing to do anything to make me happy and I think it’s adorable.”
A small glimmer of a grin came across Sean’s face. “Well, I only want to make sure you have the best.” He squeezed her hand. “I’m going to go see how much longer the waits going to be. You stay right here, okay?”
Alyssa just nodded and watched him walk away, not at all prepared for what was about to happen next.
Meanwhile Nick and Shayla walked into the crowded front entrance of Koi hand in hand. Not only was Koi one of Nick’s favorite restaurants in LA, but he and Shayla came there quite often and today they definitely had reason to celebrate. Shayla’s TV show had been picked up by E! and would begin tentatively shooting next month. She’d just found out the news earlier that afternoon, and Nick had insisted that they go out for dinner that night to celebrate.
“It’s crowded tonight,” Shayla remarked as noticed the waiting area, stuffed with people. “Are you sure we’ll be able to get a table?”
“Don’t worry about it,” Nick assured her. “I’m here so much they may as well just give me a table of my own.”
“Well, you see what you can do. Meanwhile I’m going to stop in the ladies room. I’ll be right out,” she promised, dropping a light kiss on his cheek before disappearing from his side.
Nick hung back for a moment, seeing that the maître d seemed to be busy at the moment. Shayla had been right. The place definitely was crowded and Nick wondered if there was some kind of big event going on that he didn’t realize. He’d have to ask Shayla. She was good at remembering which star was having what party at what night. He began to zone out a little until all of a sudden his gaze fell upon a familiar female face. No… It can’t be, he tried to tell himself. The petite, dark haired, woman sitting a few feet away face was glowing with laughter at something that her broad shouldered male companion had obviously said. It definitely seemed as if they were together and a gentle hand squeeze between the two of them seemed to confirm that suspicion as the guy leaned over to tell her something before getting up and walking in the direction of the front counter. The woman turned her head in his direction and Nick gasped once he realized that he hadn’t been wrong. Alyssa?! What’s she doing here? he wondered as his eyes drank in the sight of her. She looked amazing. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but there was a certain something about her that made her even more striking than the last time he’d seen her at his wedding. And that dress… He found that he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the way that it clung to her body in all the right places and the way that it plunged scandalously low until it ended in an enticing v at top of her rib cage. It was the type of outfit he’d never expected to see Alyssa wear out in public, but here she was right in front of him. Something definitely had to have changed.
He was snapped out of his thoughts as he felt their gaze lock and just by the way her full lips formed into an o of surprise, he knew that she had seen him too. He pushed past a few people until he found himself standing right in front of her. “Alyssa? Is that you?” he asked, still not completely positive.
Her face broke out in an excited grin. “Have you forgotten me already, Nick?” she slyly replied.
She laughed as Nick’s face reddened in embarrassment. “Of course not! It’s just, wow you look different and…” he paused, swallowing hard. “What are you doing all the way out here in LA? Visiting Izzy or something?”
All of a sudden Alyssa was very glad that she’d had the guts to wear the provocative black dress. Judging from the expression on Nick’s face and the way his eyes seemed to linger down the open area between her breasts, she could tell that he was completely in shock over her appearance, enough to forget for the moment that he was married. “We live out here now. Sean and I, that is. We got married in July and he got transferred to a base not far from here. We’re just out in LA for the night celebrating our sixth month anniversary,” she coolly explained. “Where’s the wifey?”
“B-b-bathroom,” Nick managed to stutter out, wondering why he was getting so flustered over his ex girlfriend. “I can’t believe you got married. No one ever told me.”
Alyssa was surprised to see how genuinely hurt Nick sounded. “I’m sorry I didn’t let you know,” she apologized, but then quickly remembered she had no reason to have to apologize. “Not that I was supposed to or anything. It kind of got rushed along a little faster than I expected and it was a really a pretty small affair. You can ask Izzy if you want.”
“So, that’s Sean huh?” he asked, shifting his gaze to Sean who at that moment seemed to be arguing with the maître d. Alyssa sighed, once she realized the impression that Nick was probably getting that was completely false. To someone who didn’t know any better, Sean probably appeared like an impatient asshole with a bad temper, which he was anything, but.
Alyssa nodded. “Yea, that’s him. He’s really a great guy. I guess I should thank you for telling me to go for it with him. It was the best thing I probably could’ve ever done. He’s changed me in so many ways that needed changing, and I’m a much better and stronger person now because of him.”
She had to admit that she got a small piece of satisfaction in seeing a shadow fall over Nick’s face as he realized that it took another man to complete what he had failed at. And he’d been the one to push her into his arms in the first place. “That’s great,” he only half heartedly replied.
She was so busy trying to make Nick feel bad that she didn’t notice that Sean had returned until she felt his hands on her shoulders. “They said that they’re booked pretty solidly and they’d try to get us seated as soon as they possibly can,” he reported. He looked up and for the first time noticed Nick standing in front of them. “Who’s your friend?”
“This is an old friend of mine,” she quickly introduced, purposely leaving out Nick’s first name afraid that he’d make the connection to the mysterious ex boyfriend Nick she’d told him about.
No sooner had the words came out of his mouth when Shayla approached the three of them. “There you are Nick! I was looking for you.” She stopped dead in her tracks when she realized that he wasn’t alone.
“Shayla, you remember Alyssa, right? From our wedding?” Nick prompted.
“Oh, yes! Alyssa your old girlfriend. How are you doing?” Shayla greeted. “Funny running into you here, huh?”
“Ex girlfriend?” Sean suspiciously asked, already beginning to make the connection. He glared in Nick’s direction. “You’re her ex boyfriend, Nick?”
Before Nick had a chance to even answer, Alyssa interrupted. “Nick this is my husband Sean. Sean this is Nick and his wife Shayla.”
“Pleased to meet you.” Nick stuck out his hand to greet Sean. Instead of accepting the gesture Sean just glared at it, making no attempt to be polite. Realizing that he wasn’t welcome Nick slipped his hand back into his pocket feeling just a little awkward about his obvious lack of respect. He was sure that Alyssa must’ve told him enough stories for the guy to want to practically kill him and then Nick remembered that he was a Marine. Marines were pretty handy with guns… Maybe he better get on his good side.
Luckily the awkward moment was broken by the voice of the maître d as he recognized Nick for the first time since he walked in. “Hello, Mr. Carter,” he greeted as he approached them, completely ignoring Alyssa and Sean. “It’s good to have you back again. If you want we can have your usual table ready in just a moment.”
“Actually, do you think that maybe we could get a table for four? That way my friends can dine with us?” The suggestion flew out of his mouth before he even realized it, but it seemed like the right thing to do. He knew that Alyssa and Sean had been waiting a long time now for a table and he knew on a night like tonight even with a reservation they’d be pushed aside if more well known people walked in. In his eyes he was doing them a favor. “That is if the two of you don’t mind?”
“No problem with me. I’m starved,” Alyssa agreed. What could be the harm of eating dinner with her ex and his wife? She felt secure enough in her marriage and herself to be able to at least be civil to him.
But Sean seemed to protest. “I don’t know… I mean this is supposed to be our anniversary, so we kind of wanted to dine alone.”
Nick just shrugged, knowing that he had been the bigger person just by offering. “Your choice. I just know how busy this place can get on a Friday night and it might be a long wait. I thought I’d do you a favor.”
“Sean!” Alyssa hissed. “We’ll be happy to join you and Shayla for dinner. Right Sean?” She purposely dug her fingernails into his arm to show him that she meant business.
“I guess so,” he finally gave in.
“That can definitely be arranged,” the maître d assured them as he walked away. “Your table will be ready in a few short minutes.”
“Who are you that you get such good treatment around here?” Sean asked the moment the man had disappeared. “We’ve been waiting for over an hour to get a table and you walk in like you own the place. Is your wife famous or something?”
Alyssa could practically see the steam coming out of Nick’s ears at Sean’s comment. Trying her best to keep the peace, she answered before Nick could say anything in response. “Sort of. Shayla is a correspondent for E!” She paused knowing that there was no longer anyway to hide Nick’s fame any longer. Still she tried to keep the details as vague as possible. “And Nick works in the music business.”
“Music business… Wait a second…” Recognition lit up in Sean’s eyes. “You’re one of those Backstreet Boys, aren’t you?” He immediately turned on Alyssa. “You dated a Backstreet Boy?”
“Sean… Let’s not do this here,” Alyssa tried to calm him down. “We can talk about this later-“
Just then the maître d returned. “Your table is ready.” The two couples began to follow him through the crowded restaurant, but Alyssa and Sean hung back.
“Why did you fucking lie about this to me Alyssa? All this time you let me believe that Nick was some trust fund brat and he was actually famous? I can’t believe that you’d keep something like this from me,” Sean argued through gritted teeth.
“Sean, please now is not the time or place to have this discussion. I swear that once we get back to the hotel I’ll answer everything, but could you please just be mature and just suck it up? For me? You don’t want to ruin our anniversary do you?” she pointed out.
“You’re the one who insisted that we sit with them,” he argued. “Why would you even act the slightest bit friendly towards a man who has broken your heart like he has? Who’s disrespected you and treated you like absolute garbage?”
Alyssa sighed, realizing that he did kind of have a point there. Why had she been so polite to Nick? She had no reason to. He’d hurt her in ways that had almost completely destroyed her. It had taken Sean months to break down those walls that she had put up as a result of Nick’s betrayal. So why would she even be friendly to him at all? “I guess it’s because I’m trying to be the bigger person here. The old me would have completely snubbed him and maybe even made a scene. I’ve moved on Sean. I’m with you now and I’m completely over what he’s done to me. If I can sit and have dinner with him and his wife, then that just shows how far I’ve come. I know you don’t want to hear it, but outside of the all the horrible things he’s done to me, he can really be a nice guy. I wouldn’t have stayed with him so long if he was all bad. I don’t know why you feel threatened by him. He’s married now too and from what I hear he’s changed a lot.”
“I’m not threatened by him,” Sean insisted, frustration rising in his voice. “It’s just I can’t look at him and know that he was the guy that hurt you so much. It makes me want to hurt him for what he’s done to you.”
“Sean, please… I know that you’re only trying to protect me, but I’m asking you to please just let it go for tonight, okay? Let’s just get through dinner.
Sean sighed, finally giving in. “Fine… I won’t start anything with him, but you can’t expect me to be polite to him either.”
“Fair enough,” Alyssa agreed as they finally reached the table and sat down across from Nick and Shayla. There was tense silence between the four of them while they immersed themselves in their menus. Finally Shayla broke the ice.
“So, what brings the two of you here to LA? I thought Nick told me that you lived down in North Carolina?”
“We did,” Alyssa answered. “We moved to California right after we got married. Sean’s in the military and he just got transferred. We live maybe half an hour or so outside of LA. I was just telling Nick that we’re here tonight to celebrate our sixth month anniversary.”
“Six months? Wow… I don’t think that we did anything really special for our six month anniversary, did we babe?” Shayla looked over at Nick quizzically.
Nick shook his head. “No. I was busy doing promotion for Unbreakable and starting tour rehearsals and everything and you were out of town covering some awards show or something. We probably weren’t even in the same state at the time.”
Not wanting to make Shayla feel bad, Alyssa quickly blurted out an explanation. “Well, normally we wouldn’t really do anything big either, but Sean just fond out that he’s being deployed to Iraq sometime in the next few months. So, we just wanted to do something special in case he’s not around for our first anniversary.” She wrinkled her nose as she realized how bad that had sounded. “By not around I mean not in this country,” she corrected.
Nick’s eyes sprang up from his menu and showed genuine concern. “Whoa… That must really be rough to find out so soon into your marriage. I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so far apart for so long.”
Sean glared at Alyssa, not at all pleased that she’d decided to share his news with complete strangers. “The distance is the least of my worries,” he coldly explained. “I’m more concerned about coming back in one piece.”
The conversation hit a nose dive right there since nobody knew how to respond to that. Again Shayla made another attempt at rescuing the conversation. “Well, not that it’s the same thing, but we can kind of relate. Nick and I joke that we’re hardly home together long enough for us to ever fight. We’ll be married forever because the secret is that we give each other plenty of space. It’s hard being apart for long stretches of time, but there’s always phone calls and e-mail.”
This time it was Alyssa’s turn to glare at her. How can she compare Nick going off on tour to Sean going off to Iraq? she wondered to herself. They were both entirely different situations. Shayla knew that after a tour Nick would come back home eventually. In Sean’s case, his future was unknown. Alyssa didn’t know if he’d be coming home intact, with a few limbs missing, or at all. What gave her the right to act like she could relate? “Actually, no… You can’t relate. The two of you go off and do your jobs, but in the end you always come home to each other. Sean’s going off into a war zone. No one knows what’ll happen to him there. It’s up in Gods hands, so yea… I can’t possibly see how you can see how it feels.”
Sean kicked her under the table and smirked at her as if to say, What happened to being nice? She noticed the look of surprise on Shayla’s face and she instantly felt a little bad. She hadn’t intended to come off as rude to Nick’s wife, but it was the truth. She couldn’t understand what she and Sean were going through. She was from an entirely different world.
“I’m sorry,” Shayla quickly apologized. “You’re right. I can’t relate.”
Luckily at the moment the waiter came by to take their orders and broke the tense silence between the four of them and Alyssa couldn’t have been more thankful. Maybe this hadn’t been such a great idea after all.
After they’d ordered they were met with more tense silence. “So, uhm are the two of you out for any reason in particular or are you just out for fun?” Alyssa tried to get the conversational ball rolling again.
This brought a smile to Shayla’s face. “Actually we are out celebrating something pretty special.” She turned to look towards Nick. “We actually found out some pretty exciting news, earlier today.”
Alyssa’s face paled as she exchanged a look with Sean. She had a feeling that she knew where this was going and the thought made her sick. By the sympathetic look on Sean’s face, she could tell that Sean was thinking along the same lines as she was. It wasn’t fair that she and Sean had been trying so hard, and Nick and Shayla who were barely around each other for any length of time would be able to get pregnant just like that. Swallowing hard, she put on a fake smile and pretended to be happy for the two of them. “Wow… That’s amazing! Congratulations to the both of you. I know that Nick will make a wonderful father-“
At that moment, Nick had just taken a sip of water and he looked so shocked that he started to choke. He coughed as he gasped for air, all of a sudden looking completely horrified. Finally regaining his ability to speak he managed to croak out, “What?! Did I miss something?”
Based on his reaction and the shocked expression on Shayla’s face, Alyssa realized that she’d been completely off base with her prediction and she could already feel her cheeks redden with embarrassment. “You thought that we were having a baby?” Shayla asked, not being able to control her laughter at the irony of the situation. “Not even close. Nick doesn’t want kids.”
“You don’t want kids?” Alyssa asked in a surprised voice. “You always talked about having them when we were together. How you wanted to do a better job someday than your parents did with you.”
Shayla frowned and Alyssa wondered if maybe this was an ongoing issue between the two of them and that maybe she should’ve kept her mouth shut. Shayla looked over at Nick expectantly waiting for a response.
“I don’t want them right now,” he quickly tried to remedy the situation. “I’ve just got too much going on right now. I just finished up the tour, and I have my label now and I’m thinking about maybe going back into the studio to finally work on another solo album…”
“Your label? You started your own record label?” Alyssa asked, knowing how important that idea had always been to him. “Nick, that was like your biggest dream! I can’t believe you actually went ahead and did it. Congratulations!”
Nick blushed a little. “Thanks… So far it’s really small and underground and I only have a few artists, but I’m working on signing a few more. I’ve got a really diverse group of artists in a lot of different genres, so I’m hoping it’ll be successful once I really get it off the ground.”
“You will… I know you will. I’m so proud of you,” Alyssa told him with an encouraging smile.
Picking up on the moment between the ex couple, Shayla quickly interrupted. “Anyway, unfortunately the news might not be as thrilling as a baby, but I found out that I’m going to be getting my own TV show on E!” she explained. “Isn’t that great?”
“Yea… Great,” Alyssa echoed, wondering what kind of woman could put a TV show on the same pedestal as having a baby, but then again maybe she was a little too quick to judge? “I don’t know why I jumped to conclusions and you and Nick were going to have a baby,” she found herself rambling. “Maybe it’s just because I have babies on my mind, so much lately. Sean and I have been trying for one.”
As soon as the words left her mouth, Alyssa wondered if she should’ve kept the news to herself. Again Sean kicked her under the table and Alyssa realized for the first time that maybe he was uncomfortable with two total strangers to him, knowing so many personal details of his life. There was an awkward pause, and then it was Shayla’s moment to act overenthusiastic. “How exciting! And so soon into your marriage too? I guess the two of you really want a big family, huh?”
“Actually, we were planning on waiting a while, but with Sean being sent to Iraq kind of changed our plans. We’d really like to try to at least get pregnant before that happens,” she explained. “Just because you never know how much time you really have together.”
“Oh… That makes sense,” Shayla quietly responded.
Again there was a brief silence, before Nick finally interrupted. “Well, I’m happy for the two of you. I couldn’t think of a better person to become a mother than Alyssa. She’s amazing with children, so she’ll make a great mom.” She was the only woman I’d ever considered having a child with, he mentally added realizing that in a way he was almost a little jealous of Sean. If he hadn’t made the mistakes he had with Alyssa maybe he could be sitting where Sean was now. Maybe they’d even have a few of their own children by now. It was so funny how life worked out. It was then that it hit him that this was the first time he’d had regrets about his past since marrying Shayla. He’d thought that once he began his life with Shayla it would mean that he’d closed the door on his relationship with Alyssa and no longer felt guilty about it, but now he realized that maybe he wasn’t as over her as he’d originally realized.
The thought literally scared the shit out of him.
Author's Chapter Notes:
While enjoying a special dinner with Sean, Alyssa bumps into the last person she ever expected to see.