Hopelessly Devoted

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Chapter Sixteen: Unexpected Changes

Tex was pacing the living room at his parent’s estate. He knew I was set to arrive anytime between five and six for dinner with everyone before the first official meeting of lawyers and clients.

“Texas darlin’, please come and sit down.” His mother said to him, as she moved to where he stood.

Obediently, Texas moved behind her and sat on the sofa with her. Probably a few minutes went by before he was up and pacing again. His mother sighed.

“It’s not like this is the first time you’re seeing her dear.” She called out to him.

“I know that mother, but it is the first time she’s been here. She’s going to pull up into that driveway where….” He couldn’t finish. He just stood with arms crossed over his chest, one hand holding his mouth as he stared out the window.

“Sweetheart, a lot of time has passed since then. She is a grown woman now and has even done quite well for herself as I understand it. I think she’ll be able to come here with her head held high and do the job she’s supposed to do.”

“But I don’t want her to just do the job she’s supposed to do.” He bit out, starting to pace again. “I mean I want her to do well of course,” he admitted, turning to look at his mother on the sofa, “but I also want…hope…that the time we get to spend together will…”

The sound of my car pulling up the drive made him stop short. His mom watched as he flicked his head up and whitened. She widened her eyes and rose from the sofa. “I’ll get the door honey.” She called back to him.

I had turned around twice before I finally made myself stay the course and make it to the estate. As it loomed into view, I had an unearthly flash of a young eighteen year old me in a pale yellow dress flying from the stairs, across the porch, and disappearing into shadows. What on earth was I flipping doing back here?

I parked the car and held tightly to the wheel with my eyes closed. ’Alright girl. You got this.’ I willed to myself. ’Just go in there, have dinner, take your notes during the meeting and then you can leave. Just a job…it’s just a jo…

Tap Tap Tap

I jerked and cried out. Tex’s mother…who was smiling brightly, spoke up, “Well hey sugar,” she said sweetly, “I didn’t mean to frighten you. You’d been sitting her a minute and I just wanted to check that you were alright.”

I forced a smile and opened the door. “It’s fine, no I’m alright…I was just um…just going over a few notes. You know, making sure I have the right mind frame for the evening.”

“Right.” She said, taking my arm through hers and leading me up to the door.

I noticed there were two other men in the entryway with her husband T.C. I stiffened, but she held fast to my arm and spoke under her breath to me. The smile still plastered on her face.

“Just hold the smile and breathe darlin’” she told me.

I took her advice and plastered an equally fake smile on my face as we entered the room. T.C. gave me a curt nod as well as the other men. Tex came into the room a beat later and stood to his mother’s right. I offered him a smile before looking away. His father was introducing the other two men, one of which was Patty’s husband, Mr. Garfield Harmon. I politely held out my hand and let myself be introduced. I didn’t notice Tex hadn’t stopped staring at me from the moment he walked into the room. I was wearing a crisp white blouse with the neck opened, a navy pencil skirt, and matching heels. My hair was pulled up and loose curls hung from it.

“Texas dear…” his mother said.

“Hmmm” Tex responded still watching me.

“Your father has suggested we go in to eat.”

Texas looked at his mother first and then back at the others who were watching him. He reacted immediately. “Right.” He said, clapping his hands together. “Let’s go into the dining room then. Jackson will be a little late, but he will be here.”

Everyone turned to go in, myself included. Hanging back a bit, his mother spoke to him quietly.

“Try to be less obvious next time, won’t you?” she asked comically.

“I hadn’t meant to be obvious then.” He retorted in a fierce whisper.

I heard her laughing from behind me and blushed.

During dinner I sat beside Mrs. Conrad which was perfect for me as I had nothing to say to anyone else in the room. Tex kept trying to offer me things or ask me how I was doing. After the fifth time of me telling him I was fine, thank you. I saw him wince and reach down to his leg. He shot a look at his mother who feigned innocence and started a conversation with me about my Grandma Pearl. I suppressed a laugh and told her all about our family history.

After dinner was when the action took place. Mr. Harmon and T.C. set to work with files and articles strewn across the table. There were land surveys and other court documents as well. I had to pull each one over to peruse and note. It was a blessing and a curse. The blessing was in the fact that everyone was so caught up in the aspects of the case that there was no room for any other talk. The curse was in the fact that by the time I went back out to my car, Tex was lugging a box of copied files for me to use in my notes.

I opened the trunk and he placed the box inside. “Thank you.” I told him, moving to the driver side door.

“You’re leaving now?” He asked me.

I looked around. “Well yeah, we are through for the night. Aren’t we?”

“For the case? Yes, we are finished with the case for tonight…”

“Ok. Then… I’m going to head on out. It’s late, and I still have to go through these files and type first notes for Darnell.”

“I could help you. Why don’t you come up to my side and we’ll get a late night snack, sit at the table, and get it together.”

My palms started to itch. I opened the car door and tossed my purse onto the seat. “Tex…don’t you think…”

“Don’t ask me what I think Selena.” He said quickly, “You’ll get more information than you want.” He reached over and closed my door. “Come on. I promise I’ll behave. We’ll just have quick bite and get your first notes together. That’s all. Please.”

You know I gave in. You knew I was going to cave before you even read these lines. I mentioned before that I am often non confrontational, well now you know that’s true. The good news is that he was true to his word. We ate chips and salsa while he kept his distance and helped me type through first notes.

Since he knew the information I needed, there wasn’t any real need for me to scrutinize each and every piece of paper I had gathered.

“You know,” I told him after swallowing a chip. “You are really smart. I remember you always doing well in school and football…but I just realized how in tune you are with all this.”

“Thank you.” He said.

He was going to say more when my phone rang and Ryan’s face appeared on the screen. I wiped my hand and grabbed the phone, sliding to answer.

“Hey.” I said.

Tex stood up and started clearing away our mess as we talked. “Yes,” I said to Ryan. “I’m on my way now. No…no, that’s fine. You know where the key is. Alright, yes…okay”

I hung up the phone and rose myself to help clean. Tex moved around me and helped me close up the chips and wipe the table. I thanked him before heading to the door.

“Stay here.” He said.

I stopped abruptly. “What?...why?”

“Because I know he is at your home, and it’s already eleven at night which means he has no intentions of going to his own home.” Tex said, and I noticed his hands were making their way to his waist. ’Oh boy’, I thought.

“Yes, he is at my home, but that doesn’t mean he will stay all night and…” I realized I was explaining myself to him and became irritated, “and why am I telling you this anyway. Ryan is none of your business as we established earlier.”

I turned the knob and started down the stairs. Tex was thumping down each stair behind me.

“Awfully presumptuous of him to just assume you would even be in the mood for company. You have been working all night you know.” He reminded me angrily.

I barked out laughter. “Are you kidding me right now? You weren’t too worried about my rest two hours ago when you offered snacks and more work.”

“That was different. You were going to be working at home anyway, I was offering help.”

“Well maybe he wants to help too.” I spat, reaching my car and pulling open the door.

“No he doesn’t, and besides…you don’t need it. I’ve helped you. So you should just call him and tell him it’s late and you’ll see him tomorrow.”

“This isn’t happening. I am not having this conversation.”

“Oh yes we are.”

“No! We are not.” I said, cutting my hand across the air. “Goodnight Texas. It is you I will see tomorrow. Thank you for your help tonight.” I got in the seat and shut the door. When I was putting on my seatbelt I could see him reflected in my window. His tie was off, his shirt was unbuttoned at the top, and his hands were firmly at his hips. Yep, he was mad. I looked up at him.

“Send him home.” He demanded.

I pretended I couldn’t hear him as I waved and mouthed goodbye while driving away. Behind me Texas’ jaw grinded in anger. He turned fiercely and stomped back to his steps. “She’s not going to send him home!” he swore at himself and slammed his door.

And so it went, day in and day out. I worked alongside the Generations top men doing everything I could to make sure I was reporting in depth coverage for our readers. Most days Tex and I were able to work together and call it a night, other days he insisted I talk to him, or followed me to the car. There was even a time or two that he followed me all the way home. On these occasions there was yelling, accusations, and a lot of tears. But I was proud of myself. I didn’t give in to him or allow him to worm his way back into my heart again.

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