ake parked in the long term parking lot at the airport and went to the ticket gate and got the first flight out to Texas. The flight left in an hour and he had just enough time to change, brush his teeth and splash water on his face before they called for final boarding. He paid through the nose for the first class seat, but needed the extra leg room and had the very pretty flight attendant bringing him coffee to wake his ass up. He was in a foul mood and the flight attendants’ phone number didn’t make him feel any better.
He went to a rental car company, got a large SUV and sped off to his condo building. He dropped his stuff in his room, opened the windows and took a long hot shower, desperately trying to wash away the guilt and shame he was feeling. It didn’t help and he flopped on his couch only to jump up again and got in the car, driving around town for a few hours, only to end up at Kevin and Ashley’s house. Much to his surprise Smitty and Lexi were there for a barbeque.
Ashley was shocked when she opened the door and saw the man she loved like a brother on her front porch looking incredibly lost and devastated. She pulled him in for a hug and then brought him to the backyard where everyone else went wide eyed seeing him. He sat at the table grabbing a bottle of water as he went, taking a long drink as everyone watched him.
“Ummm…Jake…do you want to talk about it?” Smitty asked, trying to get a grasp on his words and failing miserably.
“Is it that obvious?” Jake asked weakly.
“Jake honey, you look like total dog shit!” Lexi hissed making sure that her daughter was still playing at the little table Ashley had outside with toys on it and didn’t hear her words.
“Yeah man, what is going on? Why aren’t you at home? Like in Colorado?” Kevin asked.
Jake sighed deeply and took another long pull from the bottle of water before he started telling them the story. When he finished the story he was looking down and didn’t see the looks of scorn and disgust on the faces of his closest friends. No one said anything for a few minutes and just absorbed what he had explained to them.
“So let me see if I can put this in a nutshell…,” Lexi spoke up, “You got pissed off because Sammy fell asleep before you could tell her about YOUR feelings associated with the birth of the daughter you share and then wouldn’t talk with her the next day cuz you were still pissed? So you decided the best course of action was to ignore her the entire day, go out and get piss-faced, making your father come and get you from a bar before you make a gigantic mistake by sleeping with two random women AGAIN and then threw a temper tantrum and said things that you can’t take back to your father AND the mother of your child? So you got on a plane and are now here. Did I sum that up pretty well?”
Jake listened to how Lexi put it and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, not liking how Lexi was putting it, “No, it was more-“
“Oh cut the bullshit Jake! That’s exactly what you did!!” Kevin fumed at him.
“I really don’t think that is what I did!!” Jake protested.
“Then explain the way you left Jake! You stomped off and got on a flight!! Did you even say good-bye to your daughter?!” Smitty snarled.
“She isn’t going to miss me! She has my dad and Sammy’s brother! They can be with her!” He yelled.
They all were stunned by his words, “Who are you and what have you done with my best friend?” Kevin asked sadly.
“Oh cut the bullshit Kev!! Don’t act like you know anything about being a father!” Jake yelled.
“You’re right Jake; I don’t know what it feels like to hold my child yet. But what I can be absolutely sure of is that I wouldn’t treat Ashley or my child the way you did! Or my parents! What the fuck Jake?!”
“My Dad is going to be fine! He was fine while I was gone and now he has a girlfriend to keep him occupied! Gracie will go to her camp and then start kindergarten and be a genius! It’s not a big deal!”
“And what about Sammy? What about your love for her? And her love for you?” Smitty asked quietly, “I saw it first hand a short time ago and you both love each other, so what changed Jake? Something like that just doesn’t go away!”
“I don’t need it anymore. I don’t need her knowing my every move, watching everything I do! I don’t need a babysitter! I need someone to treat me as an equal and not call my Dad when I am bad!”
“You don’t need love anymore or her love anymore? There is a difference! To be loved by a woman the way Sammy loves you is something very special and not something to take for granted and you went and threw it away AFTER you threw it in her face!!” Kevin yelled, clearly angry.
“Oh get over Kev! Don’t act like you are some fucking saint! You slept with how many women?”
“That was before I met Ashley and you know it! And as soon as I met her, my entire life changed! She changed me and loved me like no other person could!!” Kevin fumed.
“Well good for you! You and Smitty each found a woman. Well done! I don’t need that!”
“You are a goddamn coward Jacob Doogan! I have NEVER been more disappointed with someone I love more than I am right now with you! You had your feelings hurt and instead of being a man and waiting until a better time to talk to her, you went out and got drunk and were going to cheat on her. Not taking anyone else’s feeling into consideration-especially your daughters! You fucking ran from the state, not saying anything or giving any explanation to her! FUCKING coward!” Ashley yelled at him with tears streaming down her face as she spoke, “I want you to leave. Leave my house until you can remember who you are and what is important!”
Everyone was stunned by Ashley’s words.
“You don’t mean that,” Jake said defiantly.
“You are not welcome back Jake! I am so disappointed and disgusted with you! You are not the man I thought you were…” She reiterated.
No one moved except the toddler by the table, watching the adults and smiling as she held some shape blocks.
“GET OUT!!” Ashley yelled again, making everyone jump and the little girl cry.
Jake stood up and stomped out of the house, getting in the car and driving off.
Ashely stood there crying as Lexi picked up the little girl rubbing her back and calming her down. Kevin got up and wrapped his arms around her as she sobbed.
“I can’t believe he did this! What the hell is he thinking?” Ashley asked the adults around her.
“I don’t know Ash, but I think you said what we all were thinking…You just had the balls to say it,” Smitty gently as he kissed his daughters’ head as she was now smiling at him while she was in her mom’s arms, “Let’s just give him some time to realize what he did, ok?”
“I have Mike’s number; I will call him tomorrow and see if he can shed some light on this mess. I will get Sammy’s number too and talk to her,” Kevin said.
The adults calmed down and tried to have a nice evening, despite the bomb that had been dropped in their laps.
Jake drove towards his house again, stopping at a strip mall. He picked up some sub sandwiches at one store, some breakfast food at another and made a large purchase at the liquor store. He drove home, ate one of the sandwiches, turned on shit TV and drank the rest of the night.
Sammy woke up a few hours later feeling miserable and like a deep part of her was missing, again. She knew she couldn’t let her daughter see this affect her and got up to shower, hoping that would make her feel more human. It didn’t work well. She went downstairs and ate a piece of toast and another cup of coffee. Derek had texted and said that they were home from the hospital if she wanted to visit. She replied that she would stop by when Gracie arrived home.
She sat on the back patio, thinking for several hours about what she would say to Gracie and how she would react to the news. She prayed that Gracie would just be ok. She knew she had to be strong for Gracie, and that was going to be immensely difficult when her own heart was crushed again by the man she loved deeply and truly.
She wiped her eyes a few hours later when she heard the front door open and a little voice yelling for her. She put on her best game face as she went in the kitchen and greeted her daughter and best friend. Kate knew instantly that something was wrong and told Gracie to take her stuff upstairs. She skipped upstairs and as soon as she was out of ear shot pounced on Sammy.
“What is wrong?” Kate asked worriedly.
“Jake is gone, he left…” Sammy told her.
Kate took her in her arms and hugged her tightly, trying to not cry herself, “We will talk later. If you need anything, call me!”
They heard Gracie coming back down and pulled apart, “I’ll see you later kiddo! Thanks for coming over and playing!”
“Bye Auntie Kate! I will see you later!” she replied and went to get a drink.
Sammy nodded at Kate as she left and went to get a drink with her daughter. They sat together as Sammy heard all about their exploits last night. Sammy laughed and asked questions at all the right places, but feeling very empty as she did.
“Hey Mommy, where is Daddy?”
“He is out. Hey, do you want to go to see baby Matthew? He is home now!”
Gracie squealed and Sammy took her purse and they took off for the ranch. They had a wonderful visit with Derek, Lynn and the baby. Mike had sent a huge bouquet of flowers and stuffed horse, along with a big box of diapers. Sammy followed Lynn into the nursery to change the baby’s diaper.
“So he’s gone isn’t he?” Lynn asked.
Sammy was stunned, thinking she had put on a good game face, “What?!”
“When did he leave? Last night or this morning?” Lynn pushed farther.
“How do you know?” Sammy whispered.
“I have only seen the look in your eyes two other times, Sammy. Once when your mom died and the other when Jake left the first time,” Lynn explained as she lovingly picked up her baby and then settled herself in the rocking chair and opened her shirt to feed him.
Sammy nodded and told her the story of the last few days and ended with her head on Lynn’s lap crying. Lynn, highly emotional as it was having just given birth, wiped her eyes as she heard the painful sobbing from her little sister. She couldn’t believe he did it again. Lynn thought that he was going to be ok. Jake seemed to adapt to being a father really well and he and Sammy’s relationship seemed to be back on track.
“Are you going to be ok? Do you need anything?”
“You’re the one that just had a baby. I should be asking you that!”
“Well, I will let you know if I need anything. You won’t,” Lynn stated plainly.
Sammy promised that she would let her know and realized it was dinner time. She collected Gracie, after kissing her brother and the baby and took Gracie to get some pizza for dinner. She was exhausted and by the time they got back home she could hardly keep her eyes open. They got their pajamas on and went for a movie night in Sammy’s room. They both fell asleep watching another princess movie.