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Author's Chapter Notes:

Alyssa overhears a very personal song written by Nick.

Chapter 6 – Rise and Fall

Although their last encounter at Grace’s birthday party had ended on a positive note, with both Alyssa and Nick exchanging numbers and making promises to keep in touch, Alyssa had yet to make any motion to contact Nick a few weeks later. She definitely didn’t harbor any pent up animosity towards her ex boyfriend, but on the same note she didn’t exactly feel that they were at the phase where she could call him up and invite him out to grab a bite or eat anything either. She’d agreed to a friendship with him, but in her eyes she saw him as the kind of friend who if she bumped into she could talk to, but not the type that she’d really hang out with just yet. Based upon their tumultuous past, Alyssa wasn’t sure if a close friendship would be the best idea, so she intended to keep things strictly casual for the time being. If a closer friendship were to develop between them over time then that would be one thing, but for now Alyssa was perfectly content with their current state.

Instead of harping upon where her friendship with Nick might lead, Alyssa decided to focus her energy and concentrate on another friendship of hers that had been sort of floundering in the last few months. Since moving to California, getting settled into her new life, and trying to get pregnant, she hadn’t been as great as she should have been with keeping up with all of her friends. About two weeks after Grace’s party, she’d received an excited e-mail from Teri announcing that she and Howie had just gotten engaged. Alyssa had felt a bit guilty since she really hadn’t seen or talked much to Teri since her marriage to Sean and she realized that she missed her bluntness and sense of humor. She realized that they definitely needed to hang out, but fitting it in turned out to be a more difficult task than she had realized. Special education required a lot more paperwork than Alyssa had been used to and with annual reviews coming up right around the corner to suggest where her students should be placed the following school year and what services they should receive, she’d been pretty swamped with work. Finally with the arrival of her spring recess from school, she’d found the time to contact Teri and properly congratulate her.

Thankfully Teri had been pretty understanding and had suggested they make plans to hang out since it had been a while. In fact, she invited Alyssa to come with her to look at wedding dresses the following morning. Alyssa was honored and had eagerly accepted, looking forward to seeing her friend again after such a long time.

It was weird, but the women of the Backstreet family seemed to be divided up among two camps. On one end you had Melanie, Leighanne, and Izzy who were all now mothers and definitely on the more conservative side, and on the other Tricia and Teri who were much more free spirited and not afraid to speak their mind. Strangely enough, Alyssa had always seemed to dangle in the middle of the two groups depending on her mood. Lately in some ways she seemed to have more in common with Melanie, Leighanne, and Izzy since getting married, but the whole not having a child thing definitely made her an outsider at times in the group, especially recently. There were definitely things that she felt like she could talk about more comfortably with Teri and Tricia, since she hadn’t met a topic yet that they had found too taboo to discuss. Even though she’d known the two of them for a much shorter time than she’d known Izzy, she sometimes felt more comfortable confiding personal information with them.

So Alyssa found it a relief to be hanging out with Teri again. She’d desperately missed the days of uninhibited conversation. As they searched through racks and racks of wedding gowns, Alyssa realized that Teri valued her opinion since she herself had gone through the whole wedding gown search not too long ago. “Do you have any idea what you’re looking for?” she asked her friend, trying her best to assist her.

“Sort of… I want something very sleek and simple, but still sexy,” Teri explained. “You know I’m not exactly the ‘princess gown’ type. I don’t need too much decoration and beading and crap either. I kind of have a picture in my head of what I want.”

Alyssa nodded, knowing exactly what she meant. “They say that once you see it, you know it’s the one and I found that to be true with my wedding dress at least.”

“What did your dress look like?” she curiously asked. “Since I never got to see it.”

Alyssa’s face floated off into a far away expression as she recalled the description of the dress she’d only just worn a few months ago. “It was kind of princess-like I guess. I know not your style, but you know me. I’m a total girly girl. Strapless with a beaded top and an empire waist and sort of flowy, but not really poofy. And of course I had a ridiculously long train and my veil was attached to a tiara. It was really nice.”

Teri made a face. “Not exactly my style at all, but it sounds like it probably fit you well.”

“It did. It was one of the few things about my wedding that went exactly how I wanted it to,” she mused. “So, finding the perfect dress is essential.” Alyssa paused for a moment before changing the subject. “Have you and Howie set a date yet?”

Teri nodded. “We decided that we really don’t want anything huge and overblown. We want to get married within the next few months, so we decided on October. It’s six months away, so hopefully it shouldn’t be too stressful. Like I said we don’t want anything crazy anyway.”

“Sounds pretty good to me.” Alyssa focused her attention back to perusing the racks for dresses for Teri to try one. Both women’s styles unfortunately were very different, so most of the time when Alyssa held out a dress for her to try, Teri would wrinkle her nose in disgust. After much persuasion Alyssa finally convinced Teri to try on about three of them, but she could tell her friend wasn’t crazy about any of them. “Don’t feel bad Ter. I must’ve gone to three or four places before finding the dress.”

Her friend just sighed. “At this rate I’m starting to feel like maybe it was easier finding the man than the dress.”

Alyssa just laughed, but continued her browsing until her eyes seemed to land on the perfect dress. Upon closer inspection, Alyssa realized that it just screamed Teri. It was plain, white, silk, strapless with a white sash underneath the bust, and very slinky looking. Its simplicity made it fade into the background among the other dresses, but off the rack it had definite possibilities. Alyssa knew it would look great on Teri’s figure and it fit her personality perfectly. Teri wasn’t a typical bride, so Alyssa couldn’t picture her in a typical wedding gown. It seemed like the perfect choice. “Ooh Teri… Look at this one! It’s positively stunning and just your size too.”

The moment Teri saw the dress her eyes lit up. “Oh my God Alyssa, you’re amazing! It’s perfect! Exactly what I wanted! None of this frilly, bubbly, flowing gowns or anything like that. Just a simple A line dress.”

“Well… Go try it on!” Alyssa urged, already pushing her towards the dressing room.

Teri shook her head. “Not yet. Before I try anything on I want to take a look at some bridesmaid dresses while I’m here.”

“Okay,” she agreed, following her friend towards a display of bridesmaid’s gowns further back in the store. “Any idea what color you want as your theme?”

The future bride pursed her lips for a moment as she looked at the dresses. “I was thinking maybe like a plum color actually. It’s not as traditional as like pink or blue or lilac, so it’ll be very sexy and I want me some sexy bridesmaids!”

Alyssa laughed, remembering exactly why she had missed Teri and her outrageous sense of humor so much. “That sounds perfect actually. Plum will look amazing, especially if it’s an October wedding. It’s a great fall color and like you said it’s a little more bolder than you usually see, which of course completely fits you.”

Teri just nodded. “I want something very sleek like my dress and absolutely no chiffon. God, I think chiffon is tacky! I want the kind of dress that all my bridesmaids are going to like and not be embarrassed to wear. I also want something that is going to look sexy on even if you aren’t a size zero; something that’ll look good on everyone.”

“Good idea. In that case simple is probably better. The color will be enough to make the dress stand out.” Alyssa began to rifle through a selection of dresses about the color of what Teri was looking for.

Teri joined her in her search and a few minutes later she heard her gasp beside her. “I think I found it!” The dress that she had pulled off the rack was simply breathtaking. The deep, rich, purple color of the dress shone brightly against the satin fabric. It bore the same long slinky resemblance to the wedding dress that Alyssa had picked out and had a halter neck with a plunging keyhole neckline which was just low enough to show a bit of cleavage, yet still be considered tasteful.

“Ooh! I love it Ter!” Alyssa exclaimed. “It’s exactly what I pictured in my mind.”

“Try it on.” Teri thrust the dress into her arms.

“Me?” Alyssa’s eyebrows rose in surprise and laughed nervously. “I definitely wasn’t planning on trying any dresses on today. This is your day.”

“Oh, come on!” her friend whined. “I need to see how it looks on somebody, especially somebody who is going to be in my bridal party.”

“You mean you want me in your bridal party?” Alyssa’s mouth hung in shock. She definitely hadn’t expected to be asked to be on of Teri’s bridesmaids, especially since they had grown slightly apart recently. Besides, Alyssa hadn’t even invited her and Howie to her wedding back in July, although the circumstances had been different. “Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure!” Teri responded with a roll of her eyes. “You found the perfect wedding dress for me. I’d say that’s a damn good reason to include you. Now go on and try the damn dress!”

Realizing that she was defeated Alyssa finally gave in. The two women headed towards the dressing room and separated into two different stalls, promising to come out and model for each other when they were done. Alyssa quickly got undressed and stepped into the dress that Teri had picked out. The color really did look amazing, especially on her. With her darker complexion, she’d always looked better in darker colors than in lighter ones. She had a feeling that it was exactly what Teri had been looking for.

Her thoughts were interrupted as she heard Teri’s voice from the next stall over. “Do you think that you can help zip me up?”

“Only if you zip me,” Alyssa replied as she stepped out of the door and zipped up the back of her friends dress before turning around so that she could do the same. Finally getting a glimpse of Teri in her wedding dress, Alyssa gasped. “Oh Ter… It’s perfect! It’s so you!”

“You think?” she asked, critically eyeing her appearance in the mirror. “You don’t think it’s like too simple or anything?”

“No way! I love it.” Alyssa answered honestly.

Teri’s face broke out into a look of relief. “Good! Because I do too. I think it’s the one.”

“So go for it,” she advised before turning her attention back to her figure in the three way mirror. The dress was not skin tight, but did cling nicely to her figure. She found herself wondering though how it might look on her by October. The wedding had to be roughly six months away and she was currently trying to get pregnant. Would she be sporting a baby bump by then? And how would it look underneath the dress? Would Teri be one of those brides who would freak out that one of her bridesmaid’s had a belly? She’d heard about some brides who would kick their best friends out of their wedding parties’ only weeks before the wedding because they’d gotten too fat. Without even realizing what she was doing, Alyssa arched her back and attempted to stick out her stomach as far as she could, trying to create the illusion of a baby bump, not thinking about how ridiculous she probably looked.

She was interrupted by Teri’s laughter. “What are you doing Alyssa?” her friend asked, looking at her a little strangely.

“Trying to imagine what this dress will look like if I get pregnant at any point from now until the wedding,” she confessed. “Maybe you shouldn’t have me in the bridal party. I don’t want to ruin your whole ‘sexy bridesmaid image’ and there’s nothing less sexy than an overweight pregnant woman. Besides, it’ll cause you all sorts of headaches because I’d constantly be getting bigger. What if I don’t fit into the dress?”

“Don’t be silly!” Teri insisted. “This is me we’re talking about. Do you honestly think that I’m the type to go all Bridezilla and kick you out of my wedding party because you’re having a baby? Besides even if you got pregnant right this minute the farthest you could be along is like what? Six months? You’ll be big by then, but not huge. You’ll look completely cute. Yea, the dress might be a little bit of a problem, but it can be altered. The important thing is that you’re at my side on my wedding day.”

“Thanks Teri.” Alyssa sighed as she realized how ridiculous she was sounding. Teri had said that she wanted her dress to look good no matter what size her bridesmaids were, probably taking into account the possibility of her being pregnant by the wedding. Plus she knew that Teri wasn’t the type to be so shallow that she’d kick one of her friends out of her bridal party over something so petty. “I’m sorry… You’re right, it’s not as big of a deal as I’m making it into being and at the rate I’m going with trying to get pregnant it won’t be a problem anyway.”

The other woman looked at her sympathetically. “It’s not going so well then I guess, huh?”

Alyssa shrugged. “It’s just a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. I don’t know if Sean and I are doing something wrong or what. All I know is that if I’d known that it was going to be this hard for me to get pregnant I probably wouldn’t have waited as long as I did to finally start having sex,” she joked.

“And then you’d have had no trouble conceiving,” Teri concluded. “It’s just life being cruel I guess. It’ll happen eventually, when it’s supposed to.”

“Yea… That’s what everyone tells me, but it’s kind of hard to be patient and stuff. I think Sean is getting frustrated too.”

“What makes you say that?”

Alyssa took a deep breath. She’d yet to confess this to any of her friends yet. “Like we’re still trying, but now its starting to feel like sex is just something we have to do. It’s like we’re not enjoying each other anymore because we’re just so damn focused on creating a child. It’s like; okay we have like an hour or so to ourselves; guess we better try again. I just feel like we’re trying, trying, trying, and instead of getting closer its driving us closer apart if that makes sense.”

“Well duh honey! It sounds to me like the two of you are just stuck in a bit of rut and need to do something a little out of the ordinary to spice things back up between you. It happens to all couples from time to time. The two of you need to create some one on one time where you’re not worrying about your jobs or trying to have a baby; just where you can focus on each other. I might not be an expert when it comes to babies or anything, but I’m sure that once you stop consciously trying so hard, it’ll happen for the two of you,” Teri advised.

“You do kind of have a point there,” Alyssa admitted with a sigh. “Lately I’ve been very wrapped up in work and I’m up to my ears in meetings and paperwork and grades. I’ve been lucky to squeeze in time for a quickie here and there, but truthfully most of the time I’ve just been too tired. It’s just that whenever we do get a moment, it’s like right down to business. I can barely remember the last time we engaged in any extensive foreplay or anything.”

Teri looked shocked. “No foreplay? Oh no, this is worst then I thought!” Seeing the frightened look on Alyssa’s face, she laughed. “I’m only kidding, sweetie. It’s not a problem that can’t easily be fixed. Here’s what you do. Plan a really romantic evening at home for just the two of you and do something a little extra to surprise him. It sounds like to me that the two of you have just been letting so much other shit get in the way that you’ve forgotten how important it is to make time for each other as well. You’re off from work this week, so you should concentrate on making a real conscious effort to spend some more time with him.”

Alyssa thought about her friend’s advice and just nodded her head. As usual Teri seemed to be dead on. What she said did make a lot of sense. She and Sean had been letting all sorts of other things get in the way of their relationship. Between the fear of him being shipped out to Iraq almost any day, trying to conceive a child, and just the daily stress of work, it was no wonder that things had began to seen forced between them. Maybe she could surprise him when he came home from work that night with a romantic dinner followed by a nice long soak in a bubble bath…“You’re absolutely right Ter,” she told her friend. “I swear I should start paying you.”

Teri just grinned. “I’ll gladly accept any kind of money, but seriously you know how much I love this stuff.” She paused for a moment catching a glimpse of herself in the mirror and realizing that she was still in the wedding dress. “But anyway we should probably get changed, so I can see about ordering these dresses. Then maybe you could stop by for a bit to hang out and stuff.”

“Sounds good to me,” Alyssa agreed before ducking back into the dressing room door. She had to admit that after her talk with Teri she felt ten times better about the current state of her and Sean’s relationship and much less apprehensive about not being able to get pregnant. She had every intention of taking Teri’s advice to heart and devoting her entire evening to Sean.

Little did she realize though that her evening was about to take a very different turn than the one she was currently planning out in her head.

About an hour later, the two women finally pulled up in front of Teri and Howie’s LA home. To make things easier, Alyssa had drove over to Teri’s home first and they’d taken one car to go dress shopping. As Teri put her vehicle in park and shut off the engine, Alyssa had already opened up the passenger door. “Is Howie at home? I want to congratulate him on the engagement.”

Teri glanced at the driveway. “It looks like he is, but there’s another car here too, so he probably has someone over. It’s okay though. I’m sure he won’t mind the interruption.” She also got out of the car and the two of them walked up to the front door and entered the house. Surprisingly it was quiet and there seemed to be no sign of Howie at all. Alyssa followed Teri into the kitchen where the door to the basement was only a few feet away. “He’s probably down in the studio working on something or another,” she explained. “Every now and then he likes to go down there and fool around with some possible songs.”

“Maybe we shouldn’t bother him then.” Alyssa warily gazed at the basement door.

“Nonsense! He’s not working on anything really important anyway. He’ll probably welcome the distraction,” Teri assured her, already pulling open the door in front of them.

With no choice, but to follow her, Alyssa slowly made her way down the stairs behind her friend, but then froze after only a step or two. Teri turned around and looked at her quizzically, but after hearing the voices below them she gave Alyssa a sympathetic look.

“Okay, so let me hear that new song that you wrote that you couldn’t stop talking about,” Howie’s voice could faintly be heard from below them.

“It’s not exactly a new song,” an all too familiar voice tried to explain. “I started writing it like right after the Never Gone tour and then kind of forgot about it. Then a few weeks ago I sort of got some inspiration and picked it back up again. I finally finished it and I really want an opinion on it. I think it’s probably the most personal thing that I’ve ever written.”

“I’m sorry Lyss,” Teri whispered. “I had no clue that was Nick’s car out there.”

“It’s all right,” she assured her, still not knowing what exactly she should do in her current situation. Should she just walk downstairs casually or forget about speaking to Howie altogether? Her and Nick were in a sense cool with each other now, but Alyssa still was unprepared to see him at the moment.

They were interrupted by the sound of Howie’s voice again. “This sudden lack of motivation wouldn’t have to do with seeing a certain person again would it?”

Alyssa gasped when she realized that they were talking about her. She leaned closer to hear Nick’s response. She had to admit that she was now curious to hear this new song that Nick had written. Could she really have been a source of inspiration for Nick?

Nick hesitated for a moment. “In a way yes, but it isn’t a love song. It’s basically a song about fame in general and how it can change a person and lead them to make a lot of stupid mistakes. It’s about pushing the important people out of your life for selfish reasons. Basically it really describes the person I was a few years ago and I guess you can say that it was really influenced by my whole break up with Alyssa. And then when I saw her again it brought back some of those memories strong enough to finish it off.”

Teri tugged on Alyssa’s arm. “He wrote a song about you!” she hissed.

“Not about me, at least not directly,” Alyssa corrected.

“Still… Don’t you want to hear it?”

Alyssa had to admit that she did. Silently she sat down on one of the steps and pulled Teri down with her. Nick’s description definitely intrigued her and she was dying to hear the lyrics. It sounded like maybe he really had grown up and was finally able to look at his past mistakes with regret. Being able to reflect on his wrongdoings definitely took a great deal of maturity and she was anxious to hear how much he had grown.

“Sounds interesting. Let’s hear it,” Howie urged.

There was silence for a moment as Alyssa assumed Nick was probably setting the song up to play. After a moment or two Alyssa could hear Nick’s voice kick in beginning what sounded like the chorus to the song.

Sometimes in life you feel the fight is over,
And it seems as though the writings on the wall,
Superstar you finally made it,
But once your picture becomes tainted,
It's what they call,
The rise and fall

The chorus repeated again and Alyssa was a little surprised when once the chorus kicked in that the song had a bit more of an R&B type feel to it than Nick’s usual more rock influenced sound. The lyrics immediately grabbed her attention though. Combined with the sorrowfulness in his voice, Alyssa found herself drawn into the song immediately.

I always said that I was gonna make it,
Now it's plain for everyone to see,
But this game I'm in don't take no prisoners,
Just casualties,
I know that everything is gonna change,
Even the friends I knew before may go,
But this dream is the life I've been searching for,

Started believing that I was the greatest,
My life was never gonna be the same,
Cause with the money came a different status,
That's when things change,
Now I'm too concerned with all the things I own,
Blinded by all the pretty girls I see,
I'm beginning to lose my integrity

Sometimes in life you feel the fight is over,
And it seems as though the writings on the wall,
Superstar you finally made it,
But once your picture becomes tainted,
It's what they call,
The rise and fall

As the chorus kicked in again, Alyssa realized that this was Nick’s song about his path to fame. About how he had started off in the music business so innocent and naïve, but with the more successes he and the rest of the guys gained, and the more money he made, the more and more temptation that lay out in front of him. She found herself leaning even closer, not wanting to miss a word of the second verse.

I never used to be a troublemaker,
Now I don't even wanna please the fans,
No autographs,
No interviews,
No pictures,
Endless demands,
Gave into vices that were clearly wrong,
The type that seem to make me feel so right,
But some things you may find can take over your life,

Burnt all my bridges now I've run out of places,
And there's nowhere left for me to turn,
Been caught in compromising situations,
I should have learnt,
From all those times I didn't walk away,
When I knew that it was best to go,
Is it too late to show you the shape of my heart,

After hearing the second verse of the song, especially that last part, she could already feel a lump forming in her throat. Clearly this verse addressed his entry into the world of endless partying, alcohol, and random groupies that she had discovered him in about four years ago. It was the second part that struck a particularly unnerving chord with her though. The last five lines had actually given her goose bumps just by the way they seemed to reach out and speak to her directly. There was no doubt in her mind that the “compromising situation” he had been singing about was the moment that Alyssa had found him bursting into his hotel room on the night of his 26th birthday with some trashy Australian fan attached to him. Still the last line puzzled her. Too late to show you the shape of my heart? Alyssa wasn’t sure if it was a direct question posed to her or just a cleverly placed allusion to one of BSB’s popular singles. And if it was, did he mean it in a romantic sense? Or was it something more innocent? Maybe I’m just reading too much into this, she tried to tell herself.

Sometimes in life you feel the fight is over,
And it seems as though the writings on the wall,
Superstar you finally made it,
But once your picture becomes tainted,
It's what they call,
The rise and fall

Now I know,
I made mistakes,
Think I don't care,
But you don't realize what this means to me,
So let me have,
Just one more chance,
I'm not the man I used to be,
Used to be

After the bridge of the song, Alyssa found it nearly impossible to hold back her tears. The song was just brilliant and seemed to explain everything that Nick felt about his past. She now understood exactly why he had told Howie that this was by far his most personal song ever. It seemed to speak directly to her towards the end. She could already feel hot tears stinging her eyelids and afraid that she’d start bawling and give away her presence she stood up and ran back up the stairs, furiously dabbing her cheeks with her fingers. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed Teri giving her a concerned look, but she didn’t follow her. She was smart enough to know that Alyssa needed her space at the moment.

Sometimes in life you feel the fight is over,
And it seems as though the writings on the wall,
Superstar you finally made it,
But once your picture becomes tainted,
It's what they call,
The rise and fall

Rise and Fall by Craig David

Teri appeared back upstairs a minute or two later and approached Alyssa with a reassuring hand on her shoulder. “I’m sorry I made you go downstairs. I should’ve recognized that the car in the driveway was one of Nick’s.”

“It’s not your fault,” Alyssa sniffled. “I’m actually kind of glad that I got to hear the song he wrote. It just kind of hit a little too close to home and I needed some time alone to really process it all I guess.”

“It was a beautiful song,” she remarked. “I have to give Nicky boy credit. I’d never expect something so deep to come out of him.”

Alyssa just nodded. “I think it’ll probably be best if I just go now before Nick realizes I’m here. We’ve kind of agreed to put the past behind us and be friendly with each other, but I don’t think I’m ready to face him right now after hearing that song. I’ll have to find some other time to congratulate Howie.”

“Of course. I should invite you and Sean over to dinner or something some weekend soon,” Teri offered.

“That’ll be great. Just give me a call and we’ll arrange it.” Alyssa grabbed her purse and paused to take out her car keys. She was just about to start to move towards the door when the creaking sound of the basement door made her freeze like a deer in headlights. Shit… This is exactly what I was trying to avoid, she told herself.

Howie was the first to enter the kitchen with Nick lingering a few feet behind him. “I thought I heard voices up here,” he commented, approaching the two women. “How’d the dress shopping go?”

Teri proudly beamed. “Great! I put a deposit on a wedding dress and I decided on the dress I want my bridesmaids to wear. Now I just have to take all of them down to get fitted and stuff.”

“Sounds like it was a successful morning.” Howie’s eyes focused on Alyssa who considering her emotional response to Nick’s song only minutes earlier, appeared very well composed. “How are you doing Alyssa?”

“Good,” she responded, going over to him to give him a hug. “Congratulations on the engagement by the way.”

Howie thanked her and then there was an awkward pause as Alyssa found herself now face to face Nick. Neither one of them seemed quite sure what to say until Nick broke the silence. “I didn’t know that you were going to be over here today,” he finally managed to spill out.

Alyssa shrugged. “I was looking at wedding dresses with Teri. I didn’t know you were going to be here today either.”

“Yea… I just came over to show Howie some stuff that I’ve been fooling around with. I needed some opinions on some new songs I wrote,” he explained as he nervously licked his lips.

Alyssa pretended to act unfazed even though she knew just how important and personal the song that he had shared with Howie had been to him. “That’s sounds pretty cool.”

Getting a sudden burst of confidence, Nick locked his eyes with her. “I haven’t heard from you since Grace’s birthday. I was starting to think that you fell off the face of the earth or something.”

She could feel her cheeks begin to redden. She couldn’t really come up with a good way to explain why she hadn’t called him, so she used the nearest excuse that she could think of. “Sorry about that. I’ve just been super busy the past few weeks with my job. It’s committee meeting season where we have our meetings to determine where the students are going to be placed next year and what their goals are going to be, so I’ve kind of been wrapped up with a ton of paperwork and stuff. I’m on Spring Break now, so it’s the first time in a while that I’ve had to get caught back up with people.”

“Oh wow… That sucks.” Nick grew quiet again before getting another idea. “Hey… I was just thinking. Since we haven’t talked in a few weeks or maybe you’d want to grab some lunch with me? If you have other plans or whatever it’s cool. I just thought it would be nice to hang out together again.”

Alyssa hesitated for a moment. She wasn’t sure if agreeing to go to lunch with him would be that good of an idea, but on the other hand she did feel a tiny bit closer to him after hearing the song she had inspired. Maybe she could summon up the courage to confess to him that she’d eavesdropped on him and Howie and heard it. She was curious to hear what he had to say about it. That and the fact that well, she was hungry. “Sure I guess lunch couldn’t hurt,” she finally agreed.”

She was taken back by the way Nick’s face seemed to light up at her acceptance. He seemed pretty happy considering this was supposed to be just two friends grabbing a casual lunch together. I hope he’s not getting the wrong idea, Alyssa told herself, but then realized she was being silly. Nick was married. Happily married. So there should be no reason to suspect that he could have any interest in Alyssa outside of a friendship, right?