A few months ago I found myself estranged from my husband, left with two kids while trying to take care of my mother who has Alzheimer’s disease. I thought I could do it all but it just became too much and I had to ask my brother Chet to come home. He’s been in Atlanta pretty much since he graduated and even though we miss him he is happy there so watching him give everything up to come back came with a lot of guilt.
I felt terrible asking him to give up the life that he built but since he came back his entire life has changed. He’s getting married to the love of his life, Valerie, and she is an absolute treasure, she’s been such a blessing to our family and she’s quickly become my best friend. The wedding is in one week and Valerie has spent nearly every day at my house planning, crafting and baking to prepare. Today she left to go to the airport with my brother to pick up the Best Man. I’ve never met any of Chet’s friends from Atlanta but I can’t be too worried about it because there is too much to do.
“Mommy, what do I do with the chocolate chips?” my daughter Lexi chirps from behind me.
“Lex, just bring them here.”
Lexi dumps the chocolate into the bowl and together we make another batch of cookies before we start on the pralines for the wedding favors. As soon as the pralines are done we start to work on some pie crust. A few minutes later I hear everyone come inside; Valerie instantly comes into the kitchen to check on us.
“You guys are the best bridesmaids,” Valerie smiles.
“You’re the best auntie,” Lexi giggles.
Valerie hugs Lexi and gives me an affectionate squeeze, “Really, thank you so much for all of your help.”
“Of course, Valerie, you’re my sister now,” I remind her.
I know we have company because I can hear the rumble of the boys coming down the hallway entering the kitchen.
“Mommy look, I have a new big guy to play with!” Axel exclaims.
I push my hair from my face and turn around to see my son wrapped around the leg of the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. He’s big, taller than Chet even and his muscles look like they are trying to escape his shirt. I’m staring at him. Smile, move, do something.
I manage to extend a hand only to see that it’s covered in flour, “Oh, sorry,” I blush.
Is he staring at me? I mean, he is. He’s staring at me; no, I’m staring at him.
“Adam, this is my sister Shelly and Lexi, my niece,” Chet introduces.
“Hi… it’s nice to meet you,” Adam smiles at me; it’s small but it’s enough to make my knees knock.
Adam hasn’t moved his eyes off of me at all; I’m not sure what to do, with those dark eyes looking at me I’ve been reduced to jelly.
“Shelly, come here,” Valerie lifts a finger to clean flour off my nose.
“Okay, so, are you going to share some of those pralines or what?” Chet asks.
“Only one each, we have to save the rest,” I say before I offer them the plate.
I feel like I’m being really obvious but honestly nothing has happened, he just said hi. Everyone takes a praline and we all chat casually but I really can’t take my eyes off Adam. His hair is a dark, golden blonde color, his skin is tanned; he’s perfect. What am I doing? I would never go back to Jimmy but the divorce isn’t near finalized.
“Shell, you okay?” Valerie asks softly.
“Uh, yeah, talk later though.”
They all leave and I do my best to go back to normal life but my mind keeps drifting back to Adam. What are the chances that Chet’s best friend is a perfect male specimen? What are the chances he’s available? Even if he is it’s not like he would be interested in me and all my baggage.
The next few days go by quickly and I don’t see Adam. I’ve stayed busy with Valerie finishing up everything I can. Tonight is supposed to be Valerie’s Bachelorette Party but we plan to just drink wine and hangout so there isn’t much to do to get ready. After we finish putting the kids to bed we sink into the couch with a bottle of wine to share.
“I can’t imagine a better Bachelorette party, this is perfect,” Valerie sighs wistfully.
“I’m glad, you’re totally my sister now, it’s like a slumber party,” I agree.
“Yes please, I need to sleep near an Abernathy.”
Chet told me Valerie might have a hard time sleeping and that I should look out for her so I already have a plan, “Okay but I’m the little spoon.”
“Fiiiine,” she laughs and takes a sip of her wine, “I feel like we haven’t gotten to talk about anything but the wedding, what’s going on with you?”
“Uh, besides having a major crush on Adam that is doing my head in?” I laugh sarcastically.
“I knew it. He is handsome but you’ve barely spent time with him.”
“I know, I’ve been keeping my distance, it all feels so messy.”
“He’s going home soon, you better make some magic,” she raises her eyebrow.
“What about Jimmy?”
“What about that asshole?” Valerie exclaims.
“The divorce isn’t finalized,” I admit.
“It may as well be, when was the last time he made an effort to see you or the kids?”
“Like a month ago when he called me a cheating whore in front of the whole diner.”
“Shelly, why don’t you just file the paperwork?” she asks sympathetically.
“I need to figure out what to do about the kids. Mom and Chet have been helping but he’s not wanting to pay child support so I don’t think he’ll sign anything.”
“We have your back, it’s a power play for him, he’s halting the process, it’s like he doesn’t want to let you go.”
“He could’ve fooled me,” I roll my eyes and take an indulgent sip from my glass.
All of a sudden Valerie stands up and sprints to the bathroom. The night quickly takes a turn when I figure out she’s pregnant. Before we can talk more about my situation I go into sister mode and hang out watching TV for the rest of the night trying to keep her calm.
The next day ends up being a crazy whirlwind of activity while I help Chet get family members settled and help Valerie do any last minute tasks she’s stressing about. It’s late in the evening when I get home and put the kids to bed. After a glass of wine I decide to call it a night too; tomorrow is Chet and Valerie’s wedding.