She couldn’t believe what she was seeing, she just couldn’t, for a minute she thought maybe she was dreaming, but she wasn’t. At first, she wondered how this happened, but then she felt Lynn’s hand on her shoulder and then she knew who gave the go ahead with this.
It had been so many years since she’d seen the man standing in the door way of her kitchen, and then there he was, and after reading all those letters that he had written to her. Seeing Jimmy was going to kill her, she just knew it was!
Her head and heart were a mess without seeing him after reading how much he loved her, but to have him standing in front of her? But when he pulled her into his arms… it took everything she had not to hug him back, and truthfully, she wasn’t sure if she was crying because he was here, or because she felt guilty that she was so damn happy to see him. Shit, she was a mess!
Her eyes wandered over his six foot five, lean, muscular body making her heart skip a beat… he was still so damn sexy. His dark brown hair was longer than she’d ever seen it, and she could see that his neck was clear of the tattoos he got over the years, now just showing his tanned skin. His beautiful blue eyes were once again clear, and not red from all the poison he placed in his body. He looked good, really good, just like the Jimmy she remembered, and not smelling of booze, and women’s perfume. But just thinking about all those other women, made her eyes well up again at just the thought.
He frowned shaking his head as her eyes dropped. “I know that look Addie, I know it all to well. But please baby girl, don’t go there. I know what I did hurt you, but we’ve both grown so much since we’ve been apart, and I’m not that man who hurt you anymore. Let me prove that to you.” He whispered. “I’m not asking for anything, just a chance for you and me to get to know each other again, that’s all.”
“Jimmy, my boys? I just don’t know…” She stated, but a finger went under her chin so she’d look up at him.
“I know Addie, and I want to get to know them to, if that’s okay with you. I have a couple months off and I was hoping to spend that time with you and your boys.” He grinned. “And I’m thinking after the next album of retiring.”
“Retiring, really?” She asked.
“Yeah, me and Nickels had been talking about producing more than recording. Jones and Howie really want to be home with Margie and Tia, and I’m done with living on a tour bus and hotels.”
“So, you really want to spend the next couple months with me and the boys here in Nashville?” She whispered.
“More than anything. That’s what I was hoping for when I came here to see you. I want you and me to be friends again.” He admitted.
Why did that make her so happy, she was an idiot, a complete idiot! “I don’t know Jimmy…” She sighed trying to get a hold of her feelings.
“Close your eyes for me… please.” He murmured.
“What, why…” She asked wanting to take a step back because she didn’t know what her heart, and her body would do if he tried something.
“I’m not going to do anything, I promise.” He whispered.
She did what he asked, and then felt him kiss under her eye. “I hate that I gave you that scar. I can’t even tell you how much it’s fucking killing me.” He growled as his hands took her face and wiped off a couple tears that escaped after hearing that. “Just give me a chance to be the man that I should’ve been all those years ago, and if you don’t like it, or you want me gone, then I’ll go, with no questions asked.” He whispered in her ear, but having him leave wasn’t what was worrying her. Having him here, and so close… that did something else to her entirely.
He took a step back and she opened her eyes touching the divot under her eye, completely forgetting all about it until he said something. Her heart was pounding in her chest, and her mind was full of all the words from the letters, so she tried to get to safer territory. “So, where’re you staying?” She asked, thinking he probably had some hooker, or groupie, already stashed at a hotel stripped naked waiting for him.
“I’m not sure. Nickels came over to my place and asked if I wanted to come and see you. When I said yes, we just hopped on the jet, and here I am.”
“He didn’t even bother to get you a room or anything?” She asked, liking that there didn’t seem to have any groupies in his future… or so she hoped.
“No, and I really didn’t even think about it. Honestly, I was thinking right when you saw me, you’d throw my ass out and I’d be back on a plane within five minutes after I got here.” He chuckled.
He didn’t have a place to stay… “Well I don’t have much, but you’re more than welcome to the sofa.” She offered, and then stopped.
Her eyes went wide, as well as his at the offer. Should she take back the invitation? Did she even want to? Her eyes dropped as she mentally berated herself on what an idiot she was, when Jimmy’s shocked expression turned into a very sexy grin. “Sure Addie, I would love to take the sofa. That’s not a problem with me baby girl.” He told her quietly.
She didn’t move, or even answer, still in shock with what the hell she just offered, when his arm went around her waist, and started to guide her back down the hall by the small of her back. “I remember that look all too well, and you can kick yourself for your kindness when I’m asleep tonight, okay?” He chuckled… and that was precisely what she was going to do!
There were whispers coming from the kitchen when Howie glanced up and then cleared his throat. “So, everything okay?” He asked.
“Fine.” She answered.
Jones had a big grin on his face looking at Jimmy who still had his hand to her back, and then back at her. “So, Addie, you were back there for quite a while.” He winked with a chuckle, but made Lynn and Margie both groan.
“Shut the hell up Jones.” Lynn sighed.
She stepped away from Jimmy’s touch and shook her head. “Shut up Jones, or I’m giving your sandwich to the dog.” She offered and then looked over at Tia, who seemed a little unsure of what to think of Jimmy there. She figured it was because Tia didn’t know how she was going to take it. “Let’s hurry up and eat. I’ve got twenty bucks that says I beat Lynn in Guitar hero.” She smiled.
Lynn got a sly grin on her face as she went to go make herself a sandwich. “You might be a natural on the guitar Ad… but I will kick your ass all night long with that game, and we both know it.” She chuckled.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ll see about that.” She sighed and then glanced over at Jimmy. “Have you eaten?”
“Only a power bar on the plane.” He admitted.
“Yeah because Jim can’t feed himself.” Jones snickered making Howie chuckle.
“That’s it!” She snapped going to the coleslaw. She picked up the bowl and held it over the sink… she had enough shit to deal with let alone their teasing.
Howie, Jones, Nickels, and Dax, all shouted “No!”
“Then shut up and just eat... you damn delinquents.” She grinned putting the bowl back down making the girls all laugh before the started to dig in.
When night came, Lynn had kicked her but in guitar hero, just as predicted, and she was now twenty dollars poorer than she was that afternoon. It was soon after that, that Howie took out the old Wii and next up for the night’s entertainment was boys vs. the girls in bowling… and then the competition began, because anyone who knew Lynn at all, knew those were fighting words!
They all started to play and had a great time. J.W. came and sat next to her for the longest time, like he was protecting her from Jimmy. But after a bit, and some bribery with popsicle’s, J.W. left her side to go play with his cousins while passing out dessert. Then, it was adult time, and the competition got to a whole new level of fierce.
She sat on the arm of the sofa next to Jimmy and was shocked at just how easily she fell back into an old routine with him… but he must have felt the same way too. One minute they were all laughing, and the next minute his arm was around her waist, only to pull it back quickly like he had forgotten that they weren’t together anymore. It had been six long years that they had seen each other… and their lives were completely different form one another, yet there they were, forgetting about the past and everything that had happened.
She tried to ignore this strange feeling in her chest having him so close, and instead focused on beating the guys in bowling. The next ones up was Margie and Jones.
“Don’t worry ladies, I’ve got this.” Margie told them.
“You think so?” Jones chuckled.
But then Howie started laughing. “Come on Margie. Jones will never let you win because he’s such a bad loser!” He stated making everyone laugh.
“Shut the heck up Howie.” Jones growled taking his stance.
“Oh no, I’m going to win or there will be no tinker belling tonight.” Margie said with a devious grin on her face.
“What?!” Jones growled throwing the first gutter ball.
“Aww man Marg, that’s cruel to play with a man’s pirate dreams!” Dax laughed.
“Well, all is fair in love and war.” She shrugged… getting a strike.
“Good one pumpkin…” Jones offered to a roar of laughter. “Hey, don’t go there with me. We all know who’s going to win when they put our play time on the line.” Jones offered, and all the guys agreed.
“Are they always like this?” Jimmy chuckled glancing up at her.
“Like what?” She smiled.
“So funny. I don’t remember them being this way before.” He admitted.
“You know they are! Those two are the comedians of the group.” She laughed.
“No, I don’t. I don’t really see Margie all that much, and she doesn’t really talk to me anymore. I mean, I knew Jones had Chris, and I saw a picture of Vance and Teddy, but I didn’t know Margie was pregnant again.” He explained. “And Howie, well he’s really careful on what he says around me. I think because you’re his sister- in- law and all.”
Her hand went to his shoulder and he took it in his. “I’m sorry, I guess I never thought about it like that. I just thought you knew everything I did. But you know, nobody talked about you around me either, so I had no idea.”
“Hey, not your fault, I did this to myself baby girl.” He winked going back to watching the game, where Margie did win and next up was Tia and Howie… and they all knew Howie was going to let Tia win, even if Tia didn’t.
She wanted him not to feel bad, and her stupid mind wanted to reach down and give him a hug and let him know that she understood, when Justin walked in. “Hey baby, you okay?” She asked, but he just stood there silently. “Why aren’t you playing with everyone else in the back yard?” She asked.
Justin didn’t say anything, but was a complete dirty mess and full of backyard, dirt, dog, ketchup, and now orange Popsicle juice. And since Winston passed, that thumb of his had become his best friend firmly being placed in his mouth and used his words less and less now. He walked past her and then stood in front of Jimmy looking him over curiously.
A dirty, chubby, little hand went to Jimmy’s knee, and then glanced up gauging the reaction, and when he was happy with what he saw… Justin started to climb onto Jimmy’s lap. Once he was comfortable, he took his face and cuddled into Jimmy’s chest making the once clean fabric a mess, just like Justin. His little thumb went back into his mouth as he snuggled closer, and his hand took a fist full of the shirt.
Jimmy glanced up at Addison, but her jaw was on the floor by what she just saw. He placed his arm around Justin and saw his little body visibly relax before taking a deep breath, and closing his eyes.
Her hand shot up over her mouth as tears started to fall. She had no idea that Justin was longing for a male figure in his life. She had always thought that the boys were fine with Uncle Howie and the rest of the guys, but maybe that wasn’t the case for Justin. But for some unknown reason, he had gravitated to Jimmy.
Addison looked up wiping the tears from her face when she saw that everyone had stopped what they were doing and was now watching the whole scene unfold between Justin and Jimmy. She started to get up, not sure if she could contain the crying that wanted to escape her, but Jimmy reached up taking her by the wrist to stop her. He patted Justine’s back with one hand, and then laced his fingers with her with the other and gave her a smile. She nodded her head and sat back down, and then Jimmy glanced over at the guys and they started playing again like nothing ever happened.
It was around ten when the barbecue started to wind down and all the kids were passed out in Addison’s room around the TV and whatever movie Dax had put on for them. Howie came with Erin and Ella, while Dax had Emma with him. Tia wasn’t feeling so great, and Addison had a feeling that little Elizabeth was going to be coming sooner than Howie thought.
She gave Tia a kiss and walked them out to the SUV and then walked back into the place with Jones coming out of the room with Chris and Vance in his arms, and little Teddy in Margie’s when she came up to her. “So, do you think you’re up for school shopping in the morning still?” Margie whispered.
“Oh yeah. I’ve got to get the boys new shoes and jackets, and I think J.W. has grown out of every single pair of pants I bought him last year.” She sighed.
“Yeah, looks like he had a big growth spurt this summer.” Margie giggled.
“Call me in the morning when you’re ready and I’ll come and get you. I think I’m going to stop by Tia’s place to see what the girls need… I think she’s going to be early with this baby.”
“Really? But she still has five weeks.” Margie stated.
“Yup, but it’s just my guess.” She shrugged. “I’ll see you in the morning. Lynn is giving the look that she wants to talk to me.” She sighed.
“Good luck with that.” Margie smiled kissing her cheek.
She watched Jones talking to Jimmy, who still had a sleeping Justin on him, and looked to be having a quiet conversation before shaking hands. Jones walked over to her and kissed her on the cheek before waving to Nickels and Lynn in the kitchen. Jimmy then picked up Justin, and started towards the backrooms when she made her way into the kitchen and the two people who were the key conspirators in this whole damn day.
“Well?” She asked with her hands on her hip.
“Well, what Addie?” Nickels shrugged.
“Don’t give me those innocent faces you two… Jimmy?” She asked.
“Can you believe how Justin just crawled up on Jimmy’s lap?” Lynn stated dodging the question.
That made Addison stop and take a half empty beer from the counter and took a sip of it because, she was thinking the same thing. “I couldn’t believe that he did that either.” She agreed.
“Well, when Justin met Jimmy this afternoon, he actually said a word to him. Not a word that he should’ve said, but he spoke to him, and then laughed running into the kitchen.” Nickels offered.
“Really?” She asked leaning against the counter taking a swig of the beer. “I can’t believe that he showed affection to someone he doesn’t know. I mean you know him and strangers. Normally he’d freak out with someone new in the house” She sighed throwing the bottle in the trash.
Lynn crossed her arms glancing at Nickels then grinning at Addison. “Well I guess he takes after his momma… always the sucker for Jimmy.” She laughed making Nickels smile in agreement.
“Shut up Lynn…” She said rolling her eyes.
“So, tell me what do you think of him, it’s been a long ass time you know. Is he everything you remembered?” Lynn smiled that devious smile of hers, but Addison stayed quiet looking at the floor not wanting to give up any secrets. “Oh come on, don’t even go there with me Ad. I know you’ve been thinking about him, no matter how hard you try to hide it. Remember, I’m the one who found you reading the letters.” She stated with a raised brow.
Her hands ran over her face not really wanting to answer that particular question at the moment, especially with the person in question being in the house. “Well if you’re asking if I’m still… attracted to him?” She stated with Lynn giving her the, duh! Look on her face. “Then the answer would be a gigantic yes.” She sighed.
The grin on Lynn’s face grew and Nickels chuckled. But she didn’t find all this so amusing and her hands went to her hip shaking her head at the two people who started this whole thing. “But is that a good thing Lynn? Is any of this a good thing? What if I started to have feelings for him and he didn’t see me in that way anymore, or better yet, what if he already had someone in his life… that would be really hard for me to deal with right now.
"No, I think having Jimmy and me staying away from each other would have probably been best for both of us.” She said with complete certainty, only to look up and see Nickels ducking his head down trying to cover his laugh as Lynn's eyes looked over her head. Well, Shit… “How long have you been there?” She sighed hearing Jimmy chuckle behind her.
Then Nickels cleared his throat. “So, Jimmy said he’s staying on the couch. That’s a good place for him.” He nodded extending his arm next to her. Jimmy’s hand grazed her arm as he shook Nickels hand. “I’ll give you a call in the morning.” He smirked taking Lynn’s arm.
“Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, or do… it might be funner if you do.” Lynn winked and then kissed her cheek.
“Oh you’re really funny!” She snapped making Lynn laugh. But she just crossed her arms and pouted over the situation she found herself in… it was either pout or pounce the man that was just way to damn close to her to keep sane at the moment.
“Night Jimmy… don’t make me come over and kick your ass in the morning!” Lynn hollered before her and Nickels left.
“I guess that was my warning.” He chuckled, standing way to close for comfort.
“So are you going to answer me... how much did you hear?” She sighed.
His hands went tenderly to her hips making her shiver. “Do you want me to tell you the truth?” He asked, but the truth was something she didn’t know if she could handle at the moment and she started to pull away.
“I need to go tuck J.W. in.” Was her response, but he held her in place.
“I tucked him in after I put Justin to bed. They’re both sound asleep.” He told her making her groan internally... there was no escape, and he wasn’t going to let her off so easily either.
“Yes, just tell me.” She moped.
He pulled her back to his chest and then whispered in her ear. “I heard you still find me very attractive, baby girl.” He said as his chest rumbled throughout her body.
“Of course you heard that.” She stated.
He chuckled at her misery but then stopped. His arms slid around her waist wrapping her in his embrace. “But I want you to know, I don’t have any women in my life. I did try, but it’s only ever been you for me Addie. You’re the only woman I’ve thought about all these years.” He confessed as his lips found their way to her neck.
“Damn it Jimmy.” She moaned softly, as her hand went up into his hair.
His hands glided to her stomach, and she was caught in the spell that was Jimmy. Her mind was telling her to stop, but her body had something else planned for the night. Her head fell back against his shoulder as his lips skimmed the side of her neck, his hand was right under her breast… when there was a knock at the front door.
She jumped up and then pulled away from him, then shot around. His hands went up in the air. “It’s not anyone one for me baby girl, that’s a promise!” He stated.
Another knock came and it was getting louder as they both stared at one another, but now that he wasn’t so close, she took her first real breath. “It’s a good thing we stopped. It doesn’t do either of us any good to go rushing into things… things get messed up when we don’t think Jimmy.” She whispered, talking to the floor. “Let’s just take this slow and get to know each other again.” She stated, but then practically ran off to answer the door before he even had a chance to say anything. “The blankets are in the hall closet. Get ready for bed, we’ll talk after I see who it is.”
She turned the corner and when she was out of sight, fell back against the wall trying to gather her breath, but then another knock came, but louder this time. “I’m coming.” She called out hoping whoever it was would stop so they didn’t wake the babies. She flipped on the porch light and then unlocked the door. When she opened it, South Parker was standing there smiling at her.
“Damn sweetheart you’re a sight for sore eyes!” He chuckled scooping her up into his arms and coming into the house.
“Hey, what are you doing here? I thought you were still on tour?” She laughed giving him a quick hug, but then remembered she wasn’t by herself at the moment. So, she got out of his embrace and took a big step back. The last thing she wanted was Jimmy thinking that there was something more between her and South then what there was.
South frowned as he tried to pull her back into his arms, but she held firm. “Addison, I’ve been wanting to talk to you…” He started, and much to loudly.
“Shhh, the boys are in bed.” She whispered, but was really praying Jimmy was still in the bathroom getting ready for bed… could she be so lucky that maybe he went and took a shower?
“Oh yeah, sorry.” He smiled, but then took her by the wrist and pulled her in for a kiss.
“Stop it!” She hissed pushing him away, but he just chuckled.
“Okay, okay, don’t get mad.” He chuckled, and then grinned down at her. “The reason I wanted to come by earlier today was, I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
“You came by today?”
“Yeah.” He shrugged. “I drove by earlier but I saw you had company over so I waited until everyone had left.”
“Is everything alright? I mean, Billy hasn’t called me stating there’s an issue, and as far as I can see your sales are great.” She stated. “And me and Lynn have been working on some really big venues for you guys, and the tour has earn you guys some really big sponsors.” She continued, but South was right in front of her, his hands on her hips pulling her closer.
“There’s something I wanted us to talk about for a while now, and it’s not about sponsors, or tours, or even the band, it’s about us, and I think it’s time for us to have this conversation…” He said with a very serious look on his face. “Can we go into the front room?” He asked as his voice rumbled.
“Umm, no. You see it’s been a long day for me South, and I haven’t been sleeping that good lately. Why don’t you come back some other time and we’ll talk about what’s on your mind. But right now, I’m really tired.” She said hoping to avoid the disaster that could happen if South and Jimmy met.
He let her go, but looked down at the floor running his hands threw his sandy blond hair. “Damn it Ad, it can’t wait. I’ve thinking about what we talked about last time we saw each other, and that we should only be friends. At first I thought maybe you were right… but now I know that we were wrong.” He growled.
“What does that mean?” She asked trying to figure out where this was coming from.
“That night we made love… it wasn’t a mistake in my eyes. I’ve loved you for a long time, and I still love you now, you know that.” He confessed.
“What?” She stammered taking a step back from him shocked over his confession. “South we were both drunk and grieving the loss of Winston. That night, it was a mistake. One night of drunken sex is not making love, and it doesn’t make a relationship.”
“But Addison…” He started taking a step towards her again, but her hand came up.
“I have children and a practice I’m going back to within the next couple weeks.” She explained, and then placed her hands on her hips. “And I’m sure you haven’t been sleeping alone after our night together.” She nodded. “You’re a musician, you have woman throwing themselves at you every day, and that’s the life you want, so go live it. I can’t live like that again… you know this.”
“I know that, I do." He stated, but she just shook her head. "I can be faithful on the road damn it, I’m not your Ex!” He growled.
“Hey, that’s enough.” She warned, then took a breath to calm her nerves. “We both agreed that next morning that what happened between us, should’ve never happened. That was one of the first things you said.” She reminded him. “I love you South, but as my husbands’ best friend. I can’t tell you how bad I feel about what happened between us… it’s like I betrayed Win or something.”
“No sweetheart, he would have wanted us together.” He exclaimed.
“South, please. I’m so damn tired. Go back to the hotel and remember why we both agreed that we didn’t have a future together.” She sighed going to open the door to let him out. But before she had her hand on the knob, he took her by the arm swinging her around so they were face to face.
“I know what I’m saying Addison, I love you. I don’t want to go back to some damn hotel room. I want to spend the night here, in your bed, and with you in my arms.”
“I can’t, I don’t love you like that.” She said shaking her head, but instead of accepting that all they ever would be are friends… he took her by the arms and yanked her to him and his mouth came crashing down upon hers. When she finally managed to push him away, her hand went out and smacked him right across the face as hard as she could.
“Addison, what the hell?” he growled holding his cheek.
She was going to tell South what the hell… when someone from behind cleared his throat letting his presence be known. She closed her eyes tightly just imagining the scene Jimmy had just witnessed and hoping, no praying, that it wasn’t going to lead to something horrible that her boys would wake up too.