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Author's Chapter Notes:

Alyssa reflects on the past year of her life while Nick spends New Years Eve in Las Vegas with Shayla.


Chapter 42 - Another Auld Lang Syne


            Nick glanced up at one of the full screen plasma televisions that hung on the wall of the crowded Las Vegas nightclub. 11:32pm, the time in the bottom right hand corner read, already calculating the remaining time left before the New Year began. He looked around at all the other celebrities mingling about him. Everyone seemed to be laughing, drinking, dancing, and generally having a great time. Everyone that was except Nick. He really hadn't wanted to spend the New Year here in Vegas doing the celebrity thing. He'd have been quite content to spend it at home or better yet, snuggled up in the condo with Alyssa. Unfortunately, that wasn't in the cards for him. Shayla had been invited to cover this party as the season finale of her show and had thought it would be a good idea for ratings if he made an appearance. He hadn't been able to come up with an excuse to get out of it. So far the night had been pretty boring. Shayla had been shooting some segments on and off throughout the night, leaving Nick pretty much alone. The plan was for her to get most of her interviews and stuff done before midnight and before many people were too drunk to give them. At that particular moment, Shayla seemed more than preoccupied interviewing Rihanna in the far corner of the club. Seizing the opportunity, Nick crept towards the exit, anxious to get away from the crowd for a few minutes.


            Once he was safely outside he leaned his head back against the cool brick wall behind him. Out of the corner of his eye he could see a small group of people off to his right smoking cigarettes. Nick had gave up smoking a few years earlier, but at times like this he had to admit that he was sometimes tempted. He dug into his pocket to retrieve his phone checking the time again on the screen. It was now 11:40. Only twenty more minutes until the start of a brand new year. He began to wonder what Alyssa was doing at that moment. He hadn't gotten much of an opportunity to see her very often since Christmas night. His siblings had stayed for a few extra days and he'd began to notice that Shayla had seemed to become very territorial of him, almost never letting him out of her sight. It made stealing away for any length of time to be with Alyssa almost impossible. When he'd last spoken to her on the phone a few days ago she wasn't sure of her plans for the night yet, but he'd promised to give her a call sometime before midnight. He decided that now was as good as time as any to speak with her. He had just picked up his phone again and began punching in her number when he was interrupted by a pair of arms coming up behind him to encircle his waist.


            "What are you doing out here, baby?" Shayla's almost too sweet voice asked. "We've only got like fifteen minutes until midnight."


            Nick tried not to wince at her referring to him as baby. "Just wanted a little air," he lied. "I thought you were busy filming?"


            "I just finished my last segment for now. We're going to wait and resume after twelve-thirty, so for the next forty-five minutes or so you're all mine." She looked down and noticing the cell phone in his hands. "Oh no..." she told him as she grabbed the phone from his hands and tucked it away in her purse. "The phone can wait."


            "But-"Nick sputtered. How was he going to be able to wish Alyssa a Happy New Years now?


            "You can have it back later," she promised as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "But for the time being I want all your attention to be on me, okay?" She emphasized this with a firm kiss on his lips.


            Seeing that he was defeated, Nick sighed. There really wasn't much he could do for the moment besides give in to her. It sucked, but Shayla was still his wife and lately he hadn't been too discreet around her. He realized that if he kept things up the way that he had been she'd have everything figured out in no time. No, he needed to do a little damage control no matter how much it killed him. "Fine," he reluctantly agreed. "Let's go back inside. We don't want to miss the ball dropping."


            Shayla smiled looking victorious and laced her hand in his as they headed back inside the club. Nick inwardly sighed as they made their way back towards the crowds of people. It really sucked to think that once midnight hit the woman that he'd be kissing wouldn't be the one that he wished he could.




            Back in California, Alyssa was curled up alone on the couch with a half empty carton of Ben and Jerry's Half Baked in front of her. Her television was blaring scenes from Times Square in the background, but she wasn't really paying much attention to it. She sighed, hating the fact that she was all alone. Sure, Callie and invited her over to her house, but Alyssa suspected that Kim would be there who she was still trying to avoid. Plus, she knew exactly how New Years Eve at Callie's would turn out. Callie and Kim would get all misty eyed about Steve and Ian and how this new year was so unpredictable. Would their husbands come back from Iraq in one piece? Alyssa knew that she just couldn't sit there and pretend to act upset for them. She definitely wanted Sean to return back home safe when the time came, but she also knew that she was no longer in love with him. It was almost too much of a burden to pretend anymore. So, she'd declined, making up an excuse that she wasn't feeling well.


            She was still lonely as hell spending the holiday alone. This may have probably been the first New Years in her nearly thirty years that she'd spent completely alone without any friends or family members. She missed Nick. Shayla had dragged him to Vegas to ring in the New Year and although Alyssa was jealous she understood why he had to go. They'd been spending too much time together and him not enough time with Shayla. It stung, but she knew that it was important for him to be seen with her to throw any suspicion away from his extramarital activities. He'd told her that he would call, but it was already close to midnight and her phone hadn't rung once. He's probably just having too good of a time at the party, she told herself, trying not to get too upset or disappointed. But trying to tell a highly hormonal pregnant woman not to get upset was like trying to tell a starving person not to be hungry. It was almost impossible.


            She sighed as she rubbed her enlarged stomach. Now even Zoey had seemed to stop kicking, leaving her truly alone. She'd always hated New Years. For some reason she found it to be one of the most depressing holidays of the year, right behind Valentine's Day when she was single. She wasn't sure why. Maybe it was because it became a night to reflect back on the events of the past year and regret the things she hadn't done, or the things she did, but wished she hadn't. This past year had been a tumultuous one, full of many changes. In this past year alone she'd rekindled her friendship with Nick, seen her marriage fall almost completely apart all over trying to have a baby, slept with Nick, gotten pregnant, seen Sean get deployed to Iraq... And that was only maybe the first six months! Then of course there had been the second half of the year in which she constantly felt confused between the changes in her body due to her pregnancy and her growing feelings towards Nick. Did she have any regrets? Maybe a few. She wished that she'd have been more up front with both men in the first place. She wished that she realized her feelings for Nick sooner and had ended things with Sean before she got involved with Nick. She wished that she hadn't put Nick in this position in the first place. But did she regret actually sleeping with him and creating the baby she was now carrying? Oddly enough she didn't. For things to work out the way they had she was convinced that there had to be some sort of reason. She never exactly considered herself a highly spiritual person, but she couldn't help but to feel as if her pregnancy had some kind of higher reason behind it. Maybe it really was meant to bring her and Nick closer together.


            New Years was also a time to look ahead on the future. Another year stretched out in front of her and after a year as crazy as this past one, it looked pretty scary. She was on the verge of so many big changes in her life that she felt almost as if she was diving into this dark, unknown abyss. In this upcoming year Sean would most likely return home from Iraq and she'd have to confess her unfaithfulness to him, something she was not looking forward to doing even though she knew it had to be done. She had to admit that she was scared of his reaction, but she's promised Nick she would do it, so she'd just have to be brave. She also would be becoming a mother, something that she'd been preparing herself for months now, but was still afraid that she may not be ready for. Finally, there was Nick. Their future was unknown at this point. They'd made plans to be with each other, but would they work out? One could never tell. And if they did they would both have to go through divorces. Something told her that if they did decide to be together it wouldn't be as smooth as they first hoped.


            Alyssa sighed, her head aching with all these overwhelming thoughts. It was the first time she'd ever really stopped and thought about all this so deeply. She had to admit that she was terrified of what the future was about to bring. Tears stung her eyes and she hardly noticed the sound of Dick Clark's voice counting down to the New Year. "Ten... Nine...Eight... Seven... Six... Five... Four... Three... Two... One! Happy New Year!"


            Alyssa was startled as she heard the sounds of Auld Lang Syne playing in the background and was greeted with the sights of people kissing and hugging and blowing noisemakers as confetti streamed down upon them on the television. All of a sudden she felt overwhelmingly alone and wished that she had someone else with her to celebrate with.


            "Happy New Year Zoey," she softly said as she placed her hands over her stomach. "Hopefully 2010 is all that we hope for it to be."




            Much later that same evening a giggling Shayla and an equally intoxicated Nick stumbled into their hotel suite at the Bellagio. It had to be close to four in the morning and they were just getting back in from their night of partying. From the moment Nick returned to the club with Shayla just before midnight he'd decided that the only way he was going to be able to halfway enjoy the beginning of 2010 would be with alcohol in his system, and being New Years Eve there was plenty of it avalible. He'd drank so much in the past few hours that he'd lost count of how much he'd actually consumed. A few glasses of champagne, some shots, and possibly a beer or two was all that he could recall. He was pretty sure that he was going to be paying for it tomorrow morning, but it was all worth it since it had gotten him through the night relatively unscathed.


            Shayla had also had her fair share of alcohol that night. Once her last interview had wound up she'd headed right for the bar and had gulped down drink after drink. Strangely enough the two had actually seemed to get along better than they had in months. The alcohol made it easier for them to pretend to the rest of the world that they were still the Hollywood golden couple that the public expected them to be. Diane would be happy to see the paparazzi pictures of them that would be sure to appear in magazines next week.


            Even though Shayla had begun drinking later than Nick, she appeared to be in a little worse shape than him. He wasn't sure if it had to do with the fact that she was smaller or the fact that he'd just learned to hide his drunkenness better. Whatever the case, she'd been very loud and giggly on their way back to the hotel, but now she'd quieted down almost completely. Nick figured that she was just probably tired. Still, she seemed very unsteady on her four inch stilettos and her arms were gripped tightly around Nick's waist for support.


            Nick dragged her towards the bedroom, knowing that she probably just needed someplace to pass out and sleep off the alcohol. He had to let go of her for a moment to push open the bedroom door and when Shayla attempted to step forward on her own she stumbled, causing Nick to almost have to dive to catch her. "Whoa there..." he warned. "We're almost there. Just a few steps."


            "Sorry," Shayla apologized as she gripped tightly onto his shoulders.


The bed was only a few feet away, but Shayla was not even bothering to pick up her feet at this point making his job even harder. She was hanging on him like a scared child and he found himself having to practically drag her along. Finally, he reached the foot of the bed. He was just about to set her down when she again stumbled backwards and fell down onto the bed behind them, pulling him on top of her.


            She lay there for a moment giggling at her clumsiness. "Wow... I think this is the closest we've been in a long time," she only half-joked.


            Nick wasn't quite sure how to respond to that, so he just shot her a weak smile and quickly began to roll off of her. He didn't get very far before Shayla stopped him by wrapping her legs possessively around his waist so that he couldn't move. "I miss being this close to you," she confessed in a low voice. Her hands reached up to play with his hair.


            The intimacy of the moment made Nick uncomfortable. He tried to pull away, but her grip on him was too strong. "Shayla... I-"he sputtered.


            "Shh..." she told him, placing a finger over his lips before silencing him with a light kiss. "Don't say anything." She reached up to kiss him again a little more aggressively, her hips grinding into his. It wasn't very long into the kiss that Shayla began to notice that she was doing most of the digging. Nick responded to the kiss but almost half heartedly as if he was acting purely on reflex than any kind of emotion. She pulled away, and rolled over to her side sending Nick along with her, all of a sudden seeming very serious. "Nick, can I ask you something?" she questioned carefully as she played with the tie hanging from his neck.


            "Sure," he answered, trying to sound as laidback and open as possible even though secretly his stomach was in knots. He knew somehow that this wasn't going to be good.


            "You love me, right? And you still find me as attractive as the day we first met?"

            Nick found himself floored by her question. He hadn't at all been expecting a question like that and truthfully he wasn't sure how he should answer it. If he were to be completely honest his attraction towards his wife had definitely waned in the past few months and he was pretty sure that he'd almost completely fallen out of love with her. Now he seemed more focused on Alyssa and their child. Of course he couldn't admit all of this to Shayla, especially not now when she had been drinking and seemed so vulnerable and needy. His best bet would just be to play dumb. "I'm not sure what you mean by that Shayla. Why all of a sudden are you asking all these questions?"


            Shayla just sighed. "I just can't help but notice since we've gotten back together, things just haven't been the same between us. I feel like we're growing apart. You're hardly ever around and when you are all we do is fight." She sniffled a little, tears beginning to well up in her blue eyes. "We haven't even had sex or anything in ages!"


            Nick frowned. "Is this about Christmas Eve? Because if it is -"


            Shayla shook her head in confusion. "No... I mean yes... Maybe a little bit. I don't know... It's just that every time I put myself out there its like you reject me. It makes me wonder if you just don't find me attractive anymore. I mean is there something I'm doing wrong? Or something I'm not doing at all? You have to let me know Nick. I-"


            Seeing how visibly upset she was getting put Nick into a panic. He definitely did not want to have this conversation with her right now especially with her growing more emotional by the second. Acting on impulse he did the only thing he could think of to calm her down. He cut her off mid sentence with was meant to be a reassuring kiss.


            The kiss seemed to be exactly what Shayla needed. Even though Nick hadn't started it out very forcefully, Shayla quickly demanded control of it, deepening it as if she couldn't kiss him hard enough. It was clearly a move of desperation on her part and not at all what Nick was expecting. He finally managed to wrench himself away only to see Shayla's face fall in disappointment. "Please Nick..." she begged."Don't..."


            Nick looked into her pleading eyes. Her blonde hair was slightly mussed and the dangly diamond earrings she had been wearing still hung from her earlobes. The royal purple and rhinestone halter dress that she was wearing hiked up provocatively on her thighs. Even desperate, there was no denying she was beautiful, but Nick had to admit he really didn't feel much desire for her. He could appreciate her beauty, but that was as far as it went. Still, she looked so broken and almost pathetic in a way. He actually felt a slight bit of sympathy towards her. He hadn't been fair to her at all these past few months. He'd been so wrapped up in Alyssa that he'd totally neglected Shayla and now she was beginning to grow suspicious. If nothing else his next move was dictated by pure guilt. He reached over to cup her chin and then leaned down to kiss her once more. It was all the encouragement she needed. Hungrily, she returned his kiss and boldly grabbed his hands placing one on her hip, the other on her breast, leaving no doubt in his mind what she wanted. Shayla was his wife and he was supposed to want to have sex with her, right? It's not like I'm cheating on Alyssa, he reassured himself as he continued to kiss her. She herself even told me that I have every right to do whatever I want with Shayla and this is nothing more than a pity fuck.


            Shayla's fingers were already tearing at the buttons on his shirt and stripping away his tie. She wasted no time in roughly pulling it off his shoulders. Their eyes locked for a moment and Nick momentarily froze. He knew that this was the breaking point. It was either he made a move and gave into her or he put a stop to things as they were. He wasn't sure which scenario would be worse. He didn't exactly relish the idea of having sex with her, but if he turned her away it would only make things worse. You can do this Carter, he told himself. Since when are you such a pussy? Before he lost his nerve, he grabbed her arms and pressed his lips against hers. Forcing himself to make his next move, he flattened the palm of his hand against her breast all the while trying to convince himself that this was for the best in the long run. We used to have pretty decent sex before Alyssa came along. Surely we're not completely incompatible.


            Shayla seemed thrilled by just even the slightest bit of attention she was receiving. She deepened the kiss and adjusted her body so that she was straddling his waist. Nick continued to tease her breast with his fingertips, discovering very quickly that there wasn't anything underneath the silky material of her dress but skin. Under normal circumstances the discovery would probably turn him on, but this time it seemed to have little effect on him. The whole time, he couldn't help but to find himself comparing her body to Alyssa's. He found himself unsatisfied, missing the feeling of Alyssa's rounder much fuller breasts underneath his hands. He hadn't realized just how much he'd gotten so used to her in such a short period of time.


            Shayla's arms reached up around the back of her neck to untie the halter back of her dress. The two delicate ribbons of material split away from her body revealing that she was indeed braless underneath. Her head bobbed down towards his chest attempting a trail of kisses down towards his stomach as she fumbled with his belt and pants buttons. Nick was aware of her hips grinding in a circular motion against his, but still wasn't as aroused as he knew he should be. There was only one thing he knew that he could try. He clenched his eyes closed tightly and tried his hardest to imagine that it was Alyssa on top of him at the moment, her body rubbing up against his. Thank God, he thought to himself, finally beginning to feel himself grow hard. It was pretty deceitful, but he had to do what he had to do.


            If Shayla noticed anything out of the ordinary she seemed to completely dismiss it. By the time Nick's eyes flew back open, Shayla was already working his pants down his legs. Now that he was just about ready to go, he was losing patience in her. A part of him just wanted to get it done and over with. He really wasn't much in the mood to put on very much of a show. His old groupie days flashed before his eyes as he tugged at the hem of her dress, wriggling it off of her hips. It was pretty fucked up to be comparing sex with his wife to the quick, detached groupie sex of his past where his only goal had been to get himself off, but that's what this was beginning to feel like. He probably felt as much affection towards his wife as he did for most of those groupies.


            Impatiently, his fingers wandered underneath the elastic of her black lacy underwear more to feel whether or not she was ready for him than to give her any sort of actual pleasure. He spent a few moments stroking her folds, but as soon as Shayla let out a low moan of approval he pulled his hand away, almost as if it were on fire.


            Shayla looked up at him seeming almost hurt at his rejection. Nick ignored her pleading glance, reaching down to tug off his own boxer briefs. Looking almost unsure of what she was supposed to be doing, Shayla followed suit, removing her last piece of clothing. Nick attempted to shift his body, so that he was laying on his side, pulling Shayla down beside him by the hips, so that she was facing away from each him. He'd rather not have to look into her eyes because his guilt was just way too strong. Shayla surprised him though by moving faster and rolling onto her back, forcing Nick down onto her, her arms locked around his back.


            Nick cursed silently. This wasn't exactly what that he'd been planning on. He'd rather not be stuck in such an intimate position with her, but judging from the pleading in her eyes and the tight, almost desperate grip she had on his body, he realized that this was all part of the deal. You can do this, he coached himself. Just don't focus on her. Anywhere but her. He didn't understand why this was so hard for him. He'd had lots of meaningless sex in his life. He should be an expert at it by now.


            Trying to focus his gaze on the headboard in front of him he positioned himself over her and slowly eased his way into her. It had been about two or three months since the last time they'd had sex and Nick couldn't believe how in that short amount of time she felt so foreign to him. Maybe again it had to do with the fact that he'd grown so used to Alyssa, but the way their bodies seemed to line up just seemed almost awkward to him. As he began to slowly thrust in and out of her, he couldn't help but feel more and more frustrated. He just seemed to fit better with Alyssa and it drove him nuts that he was unable to feel the same way with Shayla.


            He snuck a quick glance at Shayla's face just to see if she too felt as if something was definitely off between them. Her brow was furrowed into a determined expression and her teeth bit down on her lip as she tried to adjust her body into a more comfortable position. Just by the creasing in her forehead he could tell that she was just as frustrated as he was. She finally caught his gaze and moved her arms up so that her hands were at the back of his head, forcing him to look straight at her. "Nice for you to see how I'm doing. I didn't know the headboard was so interesting. Would it kill you to look at me?" Even though her words were dripping with sarcasm she still maintained a playful, teasing smile as if she was trying her hardest to pretend as if nothing was wrong between them.


            "Sorry," Nick muttered now realizing that he was forced to look at her. He tried to divert his gaze over towards the open space of the pillow just over her right shoulder. It worked for a moment or two, but just when he finally felt as if he was falling into a comfortable rhythm, his eyes would travel sideways, and he'd catch a glimpse of her and immediately freeze up. This pattern continued another two or three times until Nick inwardly sighed to himself. At this rate neither one of them were going to be able to get off.


            This isn't going to work; he realized his frustrating only mounting. There was no way that he was going to be able to come this way. There was only one option that he knew would do it for him and asking Shayla to stop what she was doing to blow him would be like the ultimate slap in the face. He knew she'd do it just based upon how desperate she seemed to be, but he also knew how much it would kill her to hear him verbalize that request. Maybe he could give her the hint in a much more subtle way.


            Very carefully he turned over on his back pulling Shayla along on top of him. Shayla's face lit up for a moment thinking that he wanted to switch positions. She gladly straddled his hips, hovering only inches over him. Before she could get any farther though, Nick pulled her head down towards him. Shayla misconstrued the signal and began to trail light, teasing kisses over his chest thinking that was what he wanted. Pulling out one of the oldest tricks in the book, he very stealthy buried his hands through her hair until he had a firm grip on her head. Then he slowly eased her head further and further south. It didn't take very long at all for Shayla to catch on to what he wanted. Her head popped up and the wounded look in her eyes said it all. She looked at him almost in disbelief and Nick was almost sure that he may have even seen a glint of a tear in her cold, blue, eyes. He quickly closed his own eyes to erase the sight from his mind. As expected, he felt her moving her body downwards into a more comfortable position and a few seconds later the warm feeling of her lips wrapping around him.


            Nick almost sighed in relief as he lay back against the pillows and enjoyed the sensation of her mouth on him. It was so much easier this way not having to look at her and fake any kind of feelings towards her. This way was so much less personal, and as much of an asshole as it made him sound, easier to pretend that she was someone else. Like Alyssa...


            Alyssa... The mere reminder of her name made his breath grow shallower and his body rush with adrenaline. He moistened his lips with his tongue and imagined that it was her mouth that was moving up and down against him. Imagining those perfectly shaped rosebud lips and that delicate but purposeful tongue of hers caused his fingers to clench the edge of the pillowcases. The more detail that he conjured up of her, the closer he began to feel. It didn't seem to matter that Shayla's idea of a blowjob and Alyssa's were two different things. Where Shayla was usually very rough and sloppy, Alyssa was very slow and careful, almost tentative and it drove him crazy. His body quaked and he bit down hard onto his lip so that he wouldn't accidentally call out her name as he came.


            Shayla still had not even fully finished swallowing, when Nick still red faced and breathing heavily sat up and felt the floor for his discarded boxer briefs. He quickly pulled them on and stood up from the bed leaving Shayla's eyes to grow wide in surprise and disappointment. "Where are you going?" she finally asked, once her mouth was clear. Her expression clearly read, Is that it?


            "To take a shower," he simply and coldly replied. Without waiting for her response he headed towards the bathroom leaving Shayla still sitting on the bed mouth gaping.


            "Hold on. I'm coming too!" she insisted as she sprang up from the bed. By the time she reached the bathroom door though it was too late. It had just closed and Shayla found that when she tried to twist the knob it was locked. As soon as she heard the spray of the shower start up through the door she knew in that one moment that her marriage was over.