The car jolted to a stop, waking him from the damn relentless dreams that he could never escape from, and rubbed his hands over his face. “What’s going on.” He mumbled, but then looked out the window at a small yellow colored house with white trim, a picket fence going around the front yard, a dog barking, and covered in flowers. “Yeah, this is exactly what I thought Addie’s house would look like.” He admitted.
Nickels grinned over at him. “Well, looks like everyone’s here already.” He winked smacking him in the chest, then stopped and looking him over. “Hey, are you ready to do this?”
His hands went over his face not believing that any of this shit was real. “No…” He growled, then opened the car door to get out.
Nickels started to laugh as Jimmy followed him to the side of the fence where the gate was. An old basset hound came stumbling around the corner in full bark mode. Nickels opened the gate and then pet the old guy. “Hey tennis shoe, how’s it going boy.” He smiled and the dog’s tail started wagging. “Tennis, this is Jimmy, Jimmy, this is tennis shoe.”
“Tennis shoe?” He chuckled.
“Yeah, well his name was Tennessee but J.W. couldn’t pronounce it so the poor old guy is now forever dubbed, tennis shoe.” Nickels laughed.
Jimmy knelt down and let the dog smell his hand, and when the dog was satisfied that he wasn’t a threat, he let him pet the top of his head. “You’re a good boy.”
Nickels walked off and was standing by the front door waiting for him. “The dog is fine Jim, so quit stalling and get your ass over here.” He grinned.
He patted the dogs head one last time before getting up and slowly made his way to the front door. His hand went through his hair because he was so damn nervous. He’d been all over the world standing on stage with thousands of people watching him, screaming at him, but at that very moment, and for the first time in a very long time... he thought he could be sick.
Nickels shook his head at how long it took for him to walk to where he was. “If we don’t get our ass’s in there Dax and Jones will eat all the damn food.” He growled taking a hold of the doorknob.
“You’re not going to knock?”
“You mean we’re just going to barge into her house?” He asked thinking of what might happen when Addison sees him standing there… and then everyone can see just how much she still hates his ass! “Don’t you think we should knock?” He suggested as Nickels pushed the door open.
“Jimmy none of us knock, its Addie’s place dip shit. We just go on in.” Nickels shrugged looking at him like that was something that just was supposed to make sense.
He shook his head as he looked into the house now realizing none of these guys never told him just how close they really were to Addison and her new husband, but the letter this Win wrote to him, it was starting to make much more sense now. With a deep breath, he stepped over the threshold and heard the sounds of guitars being played.
He looked around seeing the modest decor but also all of Addison little touches everywhere. His head turned when he saw the photos on the wall and stopped. It was a picture of Addison and her new husband on their wedding day. She looked happy, and he could tell by the way Win held her… he loved her just as fiercely. “Shit…” He mumbled.
The sound of music and people talking was coming from inside as he stood there in the entryway looking at the rest of the photos that were there. He saw a photo with Addison and her two boys, of Win and the boys, a couple family photos, but there were also photos of Tia and Howie, and their kids, and the same with Margie and Jones, and even Lynn and Nickels. Then there were some with Billy and Sam. But what surprised him the most was to see Jones, Howie, Dax, and Win all playing together.
Photos of all of them as a group, there kids playing together, Lynn holding babies at christenings... his best friends, hell his brothers, had become friends with his baby girls’ husband. “This is going to be harder than I thought.” He sighed.
He started to walk towards the kitchen when he saw a photo where Addie, Lynn, and another woman all shaking hands in front of a brick building. He walked closer to get a better look, and that’s when he realized that she and Lynn must have started their own practice. She had really moved on from him and the life they once shared together, and was now living her dream of being a doctor and having a family just like she always talked about.
He shook his head and made his way to where everybody was and stood quietly leaning against the wall focusing in on Addison. Her hair was longer than it was in the picture Dax had just showed him.
Long wavy golden blond hair hung over her shoulder as she sat next to her oldest boy. They both had guitars in hand, and while Addie’s was just a classic, her sons was an electric and they played together. Even at the age of six, if he’d remember correctly, her oldest boy could keep up with his mother, and it was pretty damn cool to watch. Her other little one was standing right next to her with one hand holding a toy guitar and the other hand was at his mouth sucking his thumb. Her head was down as she strummed the cords, and J.W started doing some new cords, and everyone cheered and he heard Dax whistle and laugh about something he couldn’t quite catch.
Nickels came up behind him handing him a soda and grinned. “J.W. is a natural Just like Addie was. Dax calls him his protégé.”
Addison turned her head to look at her son as they wrapped up. Everybody clapped and whistled, as she kissed J.W.’s cheek and giving him a big hug, and then she lifted her head, and then got to see her beautiful face for the first time in so damn long making his heart fucking stop at the sight of her.
She was still the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, but then he saw the scar under her eye… and that’s when he realized something. He turned around going into the other room as his hands ran through his hair then over his face and then went and grabbed Nickels by the arm pulling him away from wondering eyes.
“What the hell Jimmy?” Nickels growled pulling his arm free.
“The scar…” He whispered.
“What? What the hell are you talking about?”
His hands went over his face one more time before they fell to his sides. “The scar under her eye Nic…please tell me that wasn’t from me?” He asked, and then it looked like a light went off in Nickels head, but didn’t say anything to reassure him that it wasn’t. “Shit!” He swore with his hands grabbing a fist full of hair.
“Look Jim…” Nickels started, but then a little hand grabbed his pant leg and started to pull on it. Nickels picked him up and Justin wrapped his chubby little arms around his neck. He stared at Jimmy with the same eyes as Addison’s. “Hey buddy, how’s it going?” He asked but the thumb was firmly in his mouth. “I want you to meet a friend of mine. Can you say hi Jimmy for me?”
Justin titled his head looking him over not saying anything, but just holding on to Nickels a little tighter, so he decided to break the ice. “Hey little man, nice to meet you.” He smiled, bottling up all the anxiety he was feeling… what in the hell did he know what to say to a kid that age!
Justin's eyes were big, but then his thumb popped out and a grin broke out across his sweet little face. “Shit!” He shouted back and then started laughing.
Jimmy’s mouth dropped open, then shut his eyes as his hand went to his forehead. “I’m sure that will go over great with Addie. Real smooth Jimmy…” He murmured.
Nickels laughed making Justin laugh even harder. “Hey, don’t say that in front of your mom okay? You’ll get Jimmy in trouble and we don’t want that, do we?” He chuckled, but little Justin smiled and nodded, as Nickels put him back on the ground and his little feet went running back into the kitchen.
“Well that was a great start.” He groaned.
“Well hell, you’ve already started polluting the children. Why don’t we go make our way to the kitchen, and to the woman you really came here to see?” Nickels chuckled taking him by the shoulder and pushing him towards everyone.
They all stood around the food talking, and then he heard Dax tell someone to leave his damn coleslaw alone, making Addison laugh and his heart speed up and his legs feel week. For six long years he hadn’t heard that deep rusty voice that could always bring him to his knees. But if he was being honest… he hadn’t heard her laugh longer than that.
Lynn was standing at the counter drinking a beer and laughing at something Jones was teasing Margie about. Only to have her whisper something under her breath making Jones smirk and everyone else start to laugh again.
“Got to be pregnancy hormones.” Dax said to Howie but then started to laugh. “Oh wait, but you and Jones are in the same boat!” He stated making Lynn laugh along with him.
“Well at least we know those two are good at something other than being smart ass’s!” Lynn added.
Addison was standing in front of Lynn with her back to him, when she pushed her. “I swear Lynn, your mouth sometimes!” She laughed.
Jimmy leaned up against the door jamb with his arms crossed, watching everything and forgetting just how much he missed all of this to. Then he realized that there was someone missing. “Where the hell is Mindy?” He asked under his breath. He knew her and Dax had finally broke it off, and even that she had been dating someone, but where was she?
Lynn was about to take another drink when she noticed him standing there. “Hey Marg.” She offered and then nodded her head in his direction.
Margie’s jaw dropped, but Tia gasped as her hands went over her mouth. The guys all looked up as Nickels walked past him to go stand next to Lynn.
Howie shook his head in disbelief, but then Jones laughed “Well I’ll be damn.” He smirked, but then Margie elbowed him in the gut making him grunt. “Sorry pumpkin, I mean darned.” He laughed putting his hands on her round belly.
Addison finally turned around thinking that everyone was playing some kind of joke on her, and that’s when she saw him. He tried to prepare himself for maybe some screaming, or something being thrown at his head, but instead she just stood there not moving or saying anything. When Lynn put her hand on Addison’s shoulder, she finally spoke. “Jimmy?” She murmured like she was seeing a ghost, and that’s when Dax came over.
“Good to see you made it brother.” Dax grinned coming over shaking his hand but gave him the, you better man the fuck up, look.
“Yeah, thanks.” He offered, but then made his way over to the only person he really wanted to see. When he was standing right in front of her, he saw just how deep that scar was under her eye, and all he wanted to do was take her in his arms and tell her just how damn sorry he was, again. “Hey Addie. You look just a beautiful as ever.” He said, hoping to start some kind of conversation, but she stayed quiet.
His hand went to the back of his neck glancing over at Dax and then back at Addison. “I hope you don’t mind that I came over. The guys thought it would be okay for me to see you again.” He offered not wanting to spook her but had no idea what to say either.
Addison’s head whipped around to Dax who came up and put his arm around her shoulders. “Of course it’s fine, right chipmunk?”
“What?” She said peeling her eyes off Jimmy to glance up at Dax.
“Come on Jimmy, I’m sure Addie has some question she wants to ask, and I want you to meet the crew. I’ve got to tell you, J.W. going to be the next big rock star.” Dax grinned nodding for Jimmy to follow him and started to walk off.
“Dax!” Addison yelled at their receding backs, but he just waved his hand in the air. When Jimmy went to shut the sliding glass door, he could hear the group starting to talk, and Addison asking questions of what the hell was going on? But Dax ignored them taking him outside. “Don’t worry, she just gets pissed when I say things like that. I’ve been told there’s to be no rock stars in the house ever.” Dax chuckled.
His shoulders tensed at that statement. “Are you telling me that I should get my shit and get the fuck out of here.” He growled under his breath.
“No, she just means the boys. J.W. is going to college and can’t have anything to do with the music industry.” Dax assured him. “Come on, I’m going to introduce you to all the little ones… well, the ones that are here. Margie and Tia are due in the next couple months.” He laughed.
“Yeah, what is up with Jones and Howie… are they in competition with each other to see who has the most kids the quickest?” He asked.
“I think it’s just to lucky mother fuckers who got everything they ever wanted, and making sure they don’t lose it.” Dax shrugged as they made their way to a little blow up pool. The kids where running around and playing in the water where it looked to be boys’ verses girls… and little Justin was the ref. “Hey guys, come here really quick so you can meet my best friend Jimmy.” Dax said to the kids, who all stopped and came their way.
“So, this big guy right here is Jones oldest, Chris, and then there’s Vance, and then you have the youngest of the boys, little Teddy. Well, until the latest addition to the Johnson family comes.” Dax chuckled, and then pointed to a tall little girl. “The girls are Howie and Tia's. Erin, Ella, and Emma.” He said then came closer and whispered. “Howie just found out he’s having another girl… poor bastard!” He laughed, and Jimmy couldn’t help but smile. “And then these two trouble makers are Addie’s, J.W., and of course my man Justin.”
“Yeah, I met Justin a couple minutes ago, and he heard me say the words shit, and then repeated thinking it was funny. The last thing I want is Addie pissed at me so, let’s move along.” He whispered.
“Okay man, I get it.” Dax chuckled. “So guys, can you all say hi to Jimmy for me?”
The little girls giggled waving hi, but the boys jumped into the water yelling hi and splashing around. Jimmy waved feeling out of place with what to say to kids, but noticed Addison’s oldest didn’t say anything, just stood there frowning at him.
“Hey, J.W. what’s up buddy?” Dax asked.
“Nothin’” J.W. pouted crossing his arms over his chest.
“Can you say hi to Jimmy for me. He plays in the same band as me, Uncle Jones, Uncle Howie, and Uncle Nickels, do.”
“I don’t want to. I’ve seen pictures of him with my Momma.” J.W. explained.
“Where did you see photos of Jimmy and your mom?” Dax asked.
“Aunt Tia’s house… Erin showed them to me. There’s one of him kissing her to!” J.W. answered, now glaring at his ass.
So, Tia had some old photos of him and Addison somewhere, and J.W. had seen them. He could definitely see why a little boy would be unhappy about someone other than his dad kissing his mom. His hand went through his hair knowing he had to fix this. “I knew your mom a long, long, time ago. All those pictures you saw were way before she met your dad.” I explained, but the little guy still didn’t look to happy.
“J.W., what did I tell you was the best way to introduce yourself to someone you don’t know?” Dax said firmly.
His little shoulders dropped, and then slowly dragging his feet to make his way over. “It’s nice to meet you, sir.” J.W. said halfheartedly sticking his hand out.
“It’s nice to meet you too.” He answered taking it.
After that, J.W. ran back into the pool to play with his cousins and Dax smacked him in the chest. “Well, it could’ve gone a lot worse.” He chuckled heading back for the house.
“Dax, what the hell am I doing here? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I want to be here it’s just…” He started trying to figure out how in the hell he could find a way back into Addison’s life again.
Dax stopped and turned around and walked back to him, he shook his head and then sighed. “You can’t go back to how things were before Jimmy, It will never be that way again. The best thing to do is to show Addie that you’re a changed man and start over with her. That’s the best advice I can give you. You know all the things that happened, and I can’t give you a guarantee that she’ll take you back. But if you walk out of here never knowing if you two could make it work again… then that would be a mistake for you, and for her.”
He looked Dax over, and then at J.W. and the way he treated Addie’s boys, like a father would. And then there was the way he watched his baby girl and was so protective of her… “Are you in love with Addison?” He asked, seeing all the signs and trying to keep calm about it, but Dax didn’t answer. “Dax, answer the question.” He growled taking all his will power not to plow his fist into his best friends face because of the children right behind his ass. He took a deep breath reading himself for whatever Dax was going to say.
“I love her, but more like a sister. I failed to protect her from you, and that’s what a big brother is supposed to do. Hell, I couldn’t even stop you when you started to spiral out of control. So, I guess this is my pennants. Be a big brother to Addie, and help you get her back.” Was what Dax said, but there was something more going on that he wasn’t saying.
“Yeah, I can get that.” He answered.
“Cool, now how about you and me go get some grub? Addie makes the best pulled pork there is, but don’t take too much slaw, that’s mine.” Dax laughed as they walked back into the house.
When he walked in behind Dax, he could hear Jones trying to explain to Addison why he was there, in a roundabout sort of way. But when he walked back into the kitchen, everybody stopped, and Addison swung around looking at him… and then walked over grabbing his arm and started to pull him down the hallway. “Make sure the kids stay outside!” She yelled.
They turned the corner and he could see that this hallway was full of pictures to, and stopped at what he guessed was the boy’s room. Her eyes traveled over him taking in his appearance, stopping at his neck, and probably the lack of tattoos there anymore, then over the rest of his body before she blushed and her eyes found his again. “What are you doing here Jimmy?” She asked as her hands went up into the air.
“I told you, they asked me to come and see you.” He answered.
“They asked you to come see me?” She asked, her voice was going so deep it cracked, and he knew by that statement that pissed her off. So, to play it safe, he just nodded. She shook her head and her hands went to her hips staring a hole into the floor. “Damn it Lynn… now you think I need Jimmy to come here and save me?” She hissed.” Then her eyes flashed back up to him “Is this some sort of pity party that I’m throwing out there and nobody bothered to clue me into it?” She snapped.
Addison was pissed, there was no doubt about it, but it seemed to him it was more about her thinking that he didn’t want to come and see her, and Lynn making him. “I don’t know what you’re talking about when you say a pity party, but I wanted to come and see you. Is that so hard to believe?” He answered.
Her eyes squinted as she scrutinized him. “Why would you want to come and see me? We haven’t spoken to each other in six years now.” She argued. “I’m married and have children now.” She stated trying to figure out why he was there, but then her breath caught, and he could see the pain on her face. “I mean, I was married, but he passed away.”
Jimmy leaned back against the wall watching all the different emotions play over her face, but trying like hell to process him wanting to see her. “I know that you were married Addison, and I know you have kids now, but none of that matters to me… I still wanted to come and see you.” He admitted.
She ran her hands threw her hair looking down the hall, looking at the ceiling, then at his chest, before looking back up at him. The one thing Dax was right about was, she looked like she was having a hard time dealing with her husband’s passing. For as beautiful as she was, her eyes had deep dark circles underneath them, and she was extremely thin, the thinnest he’d ever seen her. Her hands were on her hips looking at the floor again and nodding her head. That was a stance that he knew all too well, and he knew what was coming next. “Are you still drinking Jimmy?” She asked pointedly.
“No.” He told her softly.
“Are you still doing drugs? And I mean even once and a while kind of drugs?”
“Does Ibuprofen count?” He chuckled, but her eyes shot up to him not finding it funny at all, and she was right, it wasn’t. “No baby girl, nothing at all. I’m clean and sober.”
She nodded but saw her lips tremble before her hands ran over her face. “Am I going to have some slut make her way to my house, causing a scene in front of the children?” She asked glancing up at him. “Because I can’t have that in my house Jimmy. I can’t have my children see the kind of stuff that you’re into… I just can’t!” She explained, now on the verge of hysteria.
He pulled himself off the wall and put his hands on her shoulders to calm her down, when she flinched and then her whole body stiffened at his touch. If there was one thing that could just kill him right there, it was that his baby girl was afraid of him. All those times he couldn’t remember hurting her, he didn’t need to, because he saw the scar under her eye, he saw what he had done to her with his own fucking hands, and she had every right to feel the way she did. But he had to make this right…
“Addison, please baby, I’m not going to hurt you, not ever again. That Jimmy, he’s gone I made sure he was gone, and there's only your Jimmy left.” He told her, then pulled her into his arms. “I’ve been clean for five years now. I only fell of the wagon once, and then Jones came and set me straight. Since then I haven’t touched a damn thing!” He confessed and then pulled back only to see tears rolling down her beautiful face, and he hated to make her cry!
He took her face in his hands using his thumbs to wipe off some of the tears. “There are no sluts that are going to be coming to find me, I promise. I would never put you through anything like that ever again Addie. I don’t remember a lot of the shit I did when I was screwed up, but I know some of it, and remember those things haunt me every damn day baby girl.
"I’m not asking for anything more than for us to get to know each other again, maybe be friends, and to let you see that I'm not the monster that I was the last time you saw me.” He whispered.
She nodded, but didn’t say anything, just stepped out of his arms to cross her's, staring at the floor. He saw her mind working, and all he wanted to do was hold her. But whatever she was going to say, or whatever she wanted him to do, even if that was to get the fuck out of her house… he would do it. He knew that this was going to be the hardest part of seeing Addison again... because the need to love her was so damn strong!