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Don't You Wanna Stay


The flight home was so long. I tried to close my eyes, leaning my head against the back of my chair, but sleep wouldn’t come. My mind raced with all the memories it accumulated over the last two weeks. It replayed every smile, every touch, and it lingered over that kiss more that it should have.

I think the most fun I had were the roping lessons, or lack of them. We spent an hour, the most, on the actual lesson. I felt free here, it was just us two, and we were Jackson Stone and Arabella James, just regular people. The better part of the day was even more magical, walking around the ranch grounds. Jackson showed me all kinds of wonderful thin, the petting zoo, the barn, and these majestic longhorn bulls.

We ate lunch there too, and the food was fabulous. There were halved avocados filled with bacon and other toppings, golden battered shrimp on a skewer, delicious chicken with mushrooms. It was all so beyond anything I had ever tasted.

After the sun began setting, that’s when he led me down this small dirt path, away from the rest of the grounds. It was here that he seemed to open up a little bit about himself. It was almost as if the rustic scenery around him put him more at ease, made him feel at home.

His stories fascinated me, and the light in his eyes was undeniable.

“My high school was pretty small, maybe about two hundred kids. Since we lived way out in the middle of nowhere, we all knew each since we were babies. I didn’t play any type of music till I was eight years old. My grandfather gave me his old guitar for Christmas that year. I actually didn’t want it at first.”

I walked along next to him trying to imagine him as a young boy. I could almost see it, the messy mop of dark hair, those smiling green eyes, that mischievous grin. “You’re grandfather played?” I asked looking up at him, still lost in the pictures in my mind.

“Yes he did, he learned how to play when he was just a boy, he always believed every child should know how to play something, anything, because once you possessed a talent like that, no one could ever take it away from you, it would be yours forever.” Jackson adjusted his baseball cap over the top of his head again, turning it around, wearing it backwards, somehow making it look even more adorable on him.

“You’re grandfather sounds like a very smart man.” I smiled, wishing I could reach up and touch his jaw. “Did he teach you how to write songs too?”

“No, I learned that on my own. My journal was my first writing tool, I guess in the beginning I wrote about what I thought other people might like to hear, now I write about me.”

Everything he said, every story he told me, just drew me closer to him. The more I learned about him, the harder it was to find a flaw, he was like a diamond, flawless

Our last evening together Jackson explained why he wouldn’t be flying out with me home, that his next concert was closer to the eastern end of the US, not anywhere near Washington. We were going in opposite directions.

It was harder than I thought, saying goodbye. My heart literally hurt, but I tried to ignore it best I could. I wasn’t supposed to feel this way.

We both stood outside the penthouse door, the doorman already had taken my bags down to the service car. I didn’t want to walk away, from anything.

Jackson seemed just as torn, he kept looking over to the door and back to me, his beautiful eyes so serious, “I’ll get in touch with you just as soon as were ready for the next video, I’m aiming for four to five weeks from now. I’ll be in Vegas then, I think you’ll have fun there. You ever been to Vegas, Miss Ara?”

“No. I shook my head; I could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of being in Vegas with Jackson.

“A lot to see and do, but us country folk are pretty tame there. You’ll be amazed at all the talent you see in Vegas, it’s overflowing, but there’s beauty too, you’ll fit right in.” And the look in his eyes, it just tore at me.

I wanted to fling my arms around him and hold him tight, whisper in his ear that I couldn’t wait, but instead I just held out my hand and thanked him for all he’d done for me. Told him to have a great next concert.

The second I slipped inside the service car everything seemed to slow down, I wanted to be excited about Vegas, but first I had to get through the flight home, the release of this video, and Clint.

Clint hadn’t returned from his latest haul yet. I touched down at the airport alone. I was grateful for that, it gave me just a little bit more time to contain my thoughts, contain my feelings.

Over and over in my head I tried to figure out how I was going to present this video to Clint, how I was going to describe my experience, how I was going to hide my feelings.

When I walked back into my little house I felt like an entirely different person. The kitchen seemed too small, my living room old and shabby, even my bed, it just looked so different.

My world had changed, and I had changed with it.

I was restless at first, going through all the rooms of my house looking for something to do with my time. No matter what I did, I couldn’t take my mind off of Jackson.

There was one other thing that happened in front of that penthouse door, I reflexively closed my hand over the cell phone Jackson had given me.

“This here is your new cell phone. It has everybody’s numbers in it, including mine. It’s supposed to be work related but I’m planning on using it to keep in touch with you. You can call any of us, anytime, Cheryl, Dustin, and, we’re all on there.”

I could only nod my head, my mind spinning from it all.

Clint was due home the next morning so I spent one more night alone, in my bed, not sure what tomorrow was going to bring.

The dreams I had that night were all about Jackson, and in those dreams it took me back, showing me his warmth and smile, the way he would tilt his head to the side and chuckle, the way his hand brushed over mine, and I woke up the next morning as troubled as I had been the night before.

I began to get real nervous hours before Clint was to arrive. I was sure Clint was going to walk through our front door, take one look at me and know, just know, and that caused me more anxiety as the minutes ticked away.

But when he finally pulled up, he breezed through the front door all smiles, tossing his bag down near the table and headed straight for me.

“Ara!” He stretched his arms around me, “I missed you!”


This was fucking torture. I hated it, fucking hated it, and I could tell everyone around me hated it too, because I was just fucking horrible. And the only person who could change my temper was hundreds of miles away.

“You have five freakin’ minutes before you have to get out on that stage, put your hat on!” Cheryl was this close to losing it with me. I didn’t even have my first guitar ready, hell; I didn’t even know where my hat was.

“Where is it? Who has my fucking hat?” I just glared at Cheryl, waiting for my hat to magically appear.

“No one has your fucking hat Jackson. It’s hanging where it always hangs, now pull it together and come on!”

Not even being on the stage made me feel better. I was a mess, I even flubbed the lyrics to my songs twice. Thankfully the crowd didn’t really care and just cheered me on anyways, thinking I was just goofing off with them. Dustin kept looking at me with worried eyes and he danced all around that stage more than normal, making sure the crowd stayed entertained.

I was so fucking glad when it was over and I was back on my bus, heading for the next venue. All it meant to me was that it was another day I could cross off my calendar, another day closer to when Ara would return.

On the eighth day Cheryl snapped. I had made her job harder than usual, she kept having to clean up after me, the flubbed lyrics, the late concert starts, the lack communication I had with my fans through Twitter and whatnot. She had enough of it.

“What the hell is going on? You can’t keep doing this Jackson, there’s still weeks before she comes back. The video is going to be released tomorrow...tomorrow! And all anyone is going to be talking about is your damned flubbed lines and your late concert starts. It has to stop, think about it, if you want Ara to be a star, you better had shape up because no one is going to care about her if you are acting like an ass.”

I guess that’s what I really needed to hear. Cheryl knew I would never put Ara second.

“I know Cheryl, you’re right. I’m sorry. This is just so fucking hard. Tell me what I need to do, I’ll do anything.”

“I already took care of Twitter for you, it’s full of mystery and fun, kinda teasing, about the video release, that’ll keep em on their toes. As for the singing, I had Rick tell the press you were just tired, a little under the weather. But you can’t keep doing it okay? On the bright side, I have a surprise for you.” She smiled brightly at me, capturing my attention immediately.

“Surprise? What surprise?” I wouldn’t even let myself go there, the fantasy of Ara walking into the room, it would be such a letdown.

“She just wanted to thank you, for sending her the video early. She sent you this.” Cheryl tossed me a flash drive, it flew through the air and I caught it easily, “You can watch it later, right now I need you to hurry up and finish getting dressed. We go on in an hour.”

I don’t think I even waited for Cheryl to walk out of the room, I was already plugging that baby into my laptop, anxious to know what she said, what she did.

She was beautiful, and all smiles.

“Hi Jackson! Cheryl helped me make this for you. I just want you to know that I’m thinking of you, and thank you so much for sending me out the video. It was so amazing to watch, and with the music, your music, you really outdid yourself. I can’t wait to see you again.” My heart leaped at the sight of her and I grinned at the screen like a lovesick fool, just before she waved bye, she giggled, that perfect angelic laugh. “And your twitter, it’s so cute and funny, you have a new follower.” she winked.

And then she was gone, but it was enough, to get me through tonight, because the whole world would see her tomorrow.


Clint hated it, I could see it in his eyes. He actually looked away at the end, his gaze shifting to somewhere over our computer screen.

I tried the best way I could to explain it to him. He didn’t know that the second I got that video in my email inbox, I watched it over and over, all by myself. And every time I saw it, I loved it even more. Jackson’s music just made it a hundred times better. Jared made a few changes to it, it was slightly different from what we saw in the screening room, but it still made my skin tingle and my heart jump. Jackson looked devastatingly gorgeous in it, and once you actually saw him singing, it was just, swoon.

But Clint didn’t care for it. I didn’t think he would, since he critiqued it right from the beginning.

“Is that you?” He squinted at the screen, “That doesn’t even look like you. Who did that to your hair?”

I tried to keep my voice as neutral as possible, “Well it’s not really supposed to be me, Ara, it’s supposed to be a character.” I didn’t know how else to explain to him that emotionally, the girl he was looking at wasn’t the same girl sitting next to him right now.

“Why are you dressed like that? Did they want you to look eighteen?” He burrowed his eyebrows together in a frown.

“It’s just a character.” I said again wanting to get up from my chair and walk away, I couldn’t enjoy watching it, not with Clint.

And in the end, he stayed deathly quiet, not moving, starring at the spot on the wall above the computer without a word. Finally, he moved up from his chair, pushing it back roughly.

“I like the music.” That’s all he would say, “At least you’re getting paid.”

Cheryl called me frequently.

Jackson did not.

I loved talking to Cheryl, she would tell me the funny stories of the band as they moved from venue to venue. She said Jackson lost his train of thought in Florida and totally flubbed his lyrics, Dustin complained that they didn’t have enough time to go to Disneyworld, and gasp, that Brett nearly wrecked the Corvette he had rented the day before.

She also gave me advice; on what to do once our video went viral. I assured her that no one in this town would probably care, but she just laughed and told me to get ready for the ride.

I spent more and more time looking forward to our talks and less time worrying about my schooling or job. I even breathed a sigh of relief when Clint left once again on his long hauls.

Cheryl and I began making plans for Vegas. While time wasn’t passing very fast at all, Cheryl kept me busy planning my wardrobe for every single event she could think of.

“You definitely need a little black dress, not just any black dress, a real sexy one. I’m going to send you a couple of links through your email, buy at least two, three would be best, you don’t want to be seen in the same dress twice.”

“What do I need a sexy dress for?” I asked, wondering if it was for some sort of event that was planned, maybe, Jackson's plan.

“Every gal in Vegas needs a sexy black dress Ara.” Cheryl chirped over the phone, “I guarantee you people are going to notice you there.”

I didn’t tell her that I highly doubted that, people would notice Jackson, that I was sure of, no one would notice me.

I always wanted to ask her about Jackson, wondered if he talked about me, or missed me at all, if he looked forward to Vegas as much as I did. I guess I thought it would make me sound too bold or needy or something.

“Tomorrow’s the big day. I already know CMT will be airing it at 8:30am, their production guy has a crush on me and he told me everything.” Cheryl laughed into the phone, “GAC doesn’t know that yet, their airing it at 9am, and they think they are first, so it’s going to be quite the surprise.”

“You’re making me nervous Cheryl. I can’t remember when I’ve been this nervous. Is Jackson nervous?” The last part just slipped out. I just needed to say his name out loud.

“I think he’s more nervous for you, and that he can’t be there to protect you from the mobs of fans you are going to have. Ara, has he called you yet?”

“No.” I didn’t know what else to say.

"The hell…” Cheryl was mumbling to herself, “no wonder he’s been such a mess. I’ll fix that for you.”

“You’ll what?” I questioned, not too sure what she was going on about.

“He’s going out of his freaking mind over here. He totally needs to call you. I’m going to kick his ass the second I see him!” Her words were just adding to my confusion, but they excited me at the same time.

“Okay.” I half laughed into the phone.

“Alright, it’s late. Go to bed Ara, I’ll have Jackson call you in the morning, 8:30am, don’t forget!” her voice, once again, cheerful and animated.


“You haven’t called the poor girl. What are you waiting for? The biggest moment of her life is about to happen and she’s all alone. You damn better well call her before 8:30.”

Cheryl was lecturing me again, but I didn’t mind at all. She was giving me the perfect excuse, to call Ara, which was partly why I was so angry, I missed hearing her voice, those sweet little giggles.

The country music world was all abuzz. Rumors and whispers were going round about a brand new video; it was going to take everyone by surprise, and the artist who was in it, a total treat for his fans.

I was loving it. I had tweeted enough hints that my fans were blowing up my twitter feed, my website page, and Facebook. The radio kept playing Broken and it had flown right up into the top twenty in just the one week it was released. I couldn’t remember the last time everyone was so worked up over a song, and I was damned pleased that it was my song, Ara’s song.

So at 8:05 am, I gave Ara a call.

“Hello?” Her voice sounded heavenly to my ears.

“Hello beautiful.” I couldn’t help myself, “Are you ready for your big day?” I found it easier to say how I felt when she wasn’t actually standing right in front of me.

“Jackson! Hi! I’m so nervous. Are you nervous?” There was just a little shake to her voice, but it still sounded perfect, and sent a shiver down my spine.

“I’m excited, for everyone to finally see you. You’re perfect in it, you shouldn’t be nervous at all.”

She just giggled, and then gave a small sigh, “It’s so nice to hear your voice. How have you been?”

“I’ve been, okay.” I paused into the phone. What I really wanted to say was: I missed you baby…Vegas can’t come fast enough.

Instead I said, “We left Florida today, heading back toward the West Coast. When we finally hit Vegas, we’re playing at Mandalay Bay, I’m going sing Broken there live, our video is going to come out in the background.”

“Oh…” The pitch in her voice suddenly went high; “You just made me more nervous.” She laughed.

“Don’t be, you’re stunning. Are you ready? Just a few more minutes.” I half teased her, enjoying these precious moments I had with her. It was just us two, about to share something incredible together.

“I’m ready. I have the channel on.” Her voice shook a little more. CMT was already announcing the surprise premier.

We stayed silent for the three minutes as it aired. I tried watching it with new eyes, trying to see it for the first time like everyone else. It was still hot; she was still breathtakingly gorgeous in it. I knew everyone was going to be talking about her.

“That was Jackson Stone’s new single, Broken. The talk of Nashville right now folks is how fast this single is climbing up the charts, and here’s the million dollar question everyone’s asking, who’s that pretty brown haired girl in the video? And is she single?” Evan Farmer’s smiling face flew across the screen, he fell for it just like I thought he would, and I was immensely glad CMT got a hold of the video first.

“You see,” I hoped Ara could hear the pride in my voice, “You see, they all want to know who you are. They could care less about me.”

Ara half laughed on the other side of the phone, I could hear her breathing, and her sigh of relief. “At least it’s over.” She whispered.

“It’s only just starting, Miss Ara.” I replied.


If anyone ever told me that three minutes could change your life, I wouldn’t have believed them.

Now, I did.

I couldn’t even walk into Mr. Butler’s store without everyone starring and whispering, pointing at me as they hid behind the rows of soft drinks, or bags of chips.

And this wasn’t even a country music area. But gossip spreads fast; there were two co-workers from my preschool who heard from a friend that they saw me on TV. Another lady from town heard from her cousin who happened to live in the South that, that Terra was the place that Jackson Stone’s video girl was from.

I began to feel more and more out of place, at home, at school, and at work. I spent most of my time mentally checking off the days until I would get back on that plane, and back into Jackson’s life.

Clint would come and go. When he was gone I would relax, spend my hours browsing online, reading every article I could find about Jackson. When Clint came home, my days would shift, I always tried to revert back to the Ara I was before, but it was hard.

There were brief moments at home where everything would feel normal. Clint and I would have dinner together at our dining room table and talk about normal stuff, his work, the places he visited, and the people he met, where the next place he would be driving out to. He didn’t worry so much about money anymore, he didn’t have to, but the worry lines never left his face. I avoided talking about Jackson, or the video, or country music altogether, and Clint wouldn’t say his name.

But the days came closer to when I had to leave again, so I hesitantly brought it up one morning.

“My flight leaves in two days.” I tried to say this as casually as possible. We were eating breakfast.

Clint looked up from his plate sharply, a small frown on his face, “Where did you say you were going this time?”

“Nevada, Las Vegas.” I hoped he wouldn’t put up a fuss about that.

“I bet that’ll be fun.” There was sarcasm in his voice, I could hear it. He pushed his plate away from him, looking up at me again, “There won’t be any kissing in this one you think? I wasn’t too fond of having him kiss you.”

That was the first time I heard Clint talk about the kiss. “I’m not sure.” I quickly went on, “I don’t think so. Besides, it wasn’t real.” I tried to stall. “It just looked real, but it really wasn’t.”

“Real or not real, I didn’t care for it.” He stood from the table, leaving half his food behind. “I have to leave after lunch, I’ll just pack a sandwich. When it’s time for you to go, be careful, and give me a call when you get there.” His words were heavily guarded and I struggled with my guilt, knowing he had every right to say what he did.

But the morning of my flight, I couldn’t stop smiling. I literally breezed through the airport, looking for Cheryl, anxious to board Jackson’s plane and see him.

Cheryl was easy to spot. She jumped and squealed when she saw me, and I greeted her like a long lost friend.

“I missed you!”

“Oh Ara, we all missed you so much! You wouldn’t believe how much your absence was felt.”

We walked through the gates and towards the doorway. Cheryl kept right on chatting, “Jackson was a total bear, I wanted to strangle him."

I kept nodding and smiling at Cheryl but all I wanted to do was bust through those plane doors where I knew Jackson would be waiting.

“I can’t wait til we hit Vegas, I always love going there, I booked the spa at Mandalay Bay, the morning of Jackson’s concert. He’ll be at rehearsal anyways. Their spa is awesome, you’re going to love being pampered. They have the best seaweed wrap.”

But I wasn’t listening to her anymore, we were on the plane and all I could see was Jackson’s gorgeous, smiling face. He was standing up near the isle, his tee shirt untucked and his baseball cap backwards again. A chuckle escaped him when our eyes met, I wasn’t thinking, I couldn’t help myself, the last five weeks had been so long, I could feel the grin break across my face and I half skipped down the isle towards him. I don’t know what he expected but I hoped he wasn’t unhappy when I threw my arms around him and hugged him tight.

He just laughed and hugged me back, his arms lifting me up slightly off the ground.

We both could hear Cheryl’s giggles as she brushed by us, throwing her arms in the air, mumbling to herself, “At least there’ll be some peace around here now…”

“Ara! How are ya beautiful!”

And it was wonderful to hear his voice again, and see his eyes, his smile, and that accent, it was like I was home.


It was pure bliss, having her nestled in my arms. She completely took me by surprise with her hug, made me feel weak and powerful at the same time. I didn’t hesitate one second to pull her closer to me and lift her off the floor, breathe in her scent and feel her body pressed against mine.

“Jackson,” she was all smiles, looking up at me with those big brown eyes of hers, “It’s so good to be back.”

“Are you ready for Vegas, Miss Ara? I promise no coveralls or pitchfork.” I said with a wink.

She just laughed some more, looking completely happy and content. All my worry and doubts that she might not return, vanished, replaced with excitement and the thrill of sharing a new adventure with her.

“I’m ready.” She bounced on her tiptoes, her hair swinging around her shoulders, “I’m more than ready.”

Our flight was quick and comfortable, both of us taking turns chatting about our long weeks, our work, the incredible success of our video. Everyone was still talking about it…Broken climbed the charts steadily and finally made number one. The video hit number one weeks ago and it still lingered there, week after week, beating out the other videos.

Vegas was all lit up when we arrived in the late evening. Our driver weaved through the strip; there were mobs of people walking along the sidewalks, some spilling out into the streets. Ara’s eyes grew wider and wider as she took in the sights before her.

“This is one of my favorite places to play.” I leaned closer to her, half whispering in her ear.

“It is? Why?” She turned slightly to me, still not taking her eyes off the grand sights before her.

“This is the only place I feel like a rock star.” I joked. She turned to me with merriment in her eyes and then bumped my shoulder with a laugh.

“A roping rock star, I can see it now.” She teased, glancing once again out the window, “Is it just my imagination, or do you see those half naked women out there too?” she questioned.

“Those women are quite conservative compared to what you are going to see later.” I was still chuckling, “But don’t worry, we don’t mingle with them.”

Ara was still fascinated with her surroundings when we arrived at our hotel. There was one thing I really liked about Vegas, it always gave me a blanket of anonymity, most of the people here only recognize popular rock and hip hop stars, this was the one place where I could walk around, even in broad daylight, and no one ever bothered me.

So I took her right through the casino, past the blackjack tables and all the slot machines. Her eyes looked like silver dollars, and I don’t think I even saw her blink. My heart was literally floating on air.

The best kept secret of Mandalay Bay are the exclusive private penthouse rooms owned by Four Seasons on the top three floors, and to my delight and sheer luck, the only penthouse that was available to me was the family penthouse, four bedroom, three bath, with a shared living and dining room. Ara and I would be able to see much more of each other here.

Ara was chatting happily on our elevator ride up, she was telling me about one of her preschool boys who’s mother always dressed him in western wear. Her story made me smile inside because I knew she was seeing the world in a whole different way now, a more Country way.

“The cutest thing is his little belt buckle. I mean it actually looks too big for him, too heavy, I’m afraid he’s going to tip over.” she giggled and smiled at me when I chuckled with her.

“What do you think his Mom would say if you showed up with genuine cowboy hat for this little guy? Or maybe some spurs?”

“From you?” She looked up at me wide eyed, “If it’s from you, I think his Mom just might faint…”

I chuckled again, wanting to pull her closer to me, “Well we can’t have fainting going on in preschool, that just won’t do.”

Ara’s laugh was cut short when the elevator doors whirred open and there before us was pure luxury that only the Four Seasons could offer.

“Is this where we’re going to be staying?” she breathed, stopping short in her tracks, her hand flying up near her throat.

“Yes Ma’am, our room is the one furthest right, this way.” I tried to lead her, taking a step and a half, but she was still frozen in place. I paused, and turned slightly, looking back at her. “Come on Miss Ara, this way.”

She still didn’t move. “Oh…” was all she could say, and I gave in to the overwhelming urge that flew through me, taking that half a step back and reaching out for her hand.

When our hands touched, her eyes flew to mine still tinged with shock, but her fingers closed around my hand tightly, and she let me lead her to our door. It was only paces away but it made me feel like a new man, like I was her man, and there was no better feeling in the world.


I’m pretty sure my heart stopped. What I was looking at, it had to be a dream, this couldn’t be real.

It was like stepping into a living garden, lush greenery everywhere, huge crystal chandeliers glistening like diamonds, a blooming array of colorful flowers, marble floors, gold lined walls and ceilings, granite buffets offering every drink and delicacy imaginable.

There were a few handsomely dressed men and women lingering about, chatting quietly. They had a regal air to them, and I’m guessing all that sparkling jewelry the women were wearing was definitely real.

Jackson’s warm hand jolted me out of my stunned state. I looked up at him in surprise and shock, but still instinctively held onto his hand. This place was way out of my league.

The room he led us to was just as gorgeous. Jackson didn’t let go of my hand until he led me all the way into the living room. He turned to me and smiled.

“Do you like it?” his beautiful eyes were searching mine, waiting for an answer. I could only nod my head at him. He chuckled.

“Do you need to sit down? Or would you like to look around?”

I just nodded some more.

His laugh lingered in the air and finally I found my voice.

“Is this where we’re staying?” I began to glance around me, looking at the intricate paintings that hung near the fireplace.

“Yes it is,” Jackson smiled some more at me, “this is the family suite, lots of room for us both.”

His words began to sink into my brain.

“Room for us both? Is it like the one in Texas? A door?” I wasn’t sure if he was saying what I thought he was saying.

“A little different,” he took a couple of steps towards me, “the right wing holds your bedroom suite, the left wing holds mine, this here, is the common area, we’ll share it.”

“Share it?” I raised my eyebrows uncertainly; I could feel my hands start to shake.

“I hope that’s okay with you. This was the only room available for us. It’s really quite large.” he stopped right in front of me, looking down at me with those eyes, it sent my brain spinning, “We’ll be able to work together better, and then maybe, if you’d like to, we could share a few dinners here.”

I was willing my face to smile back at him, I don’t know if I was or not, he was standing so close, I could smell his cologne, rugged, earthy, and just delicious.

“Cheryl will be stopping by quite a bit, we won’t always be alone.” his voice trailed off and I could see he was waiting for me to say something.

“Umm…I…this is beautiful,” I picked up both hands, swinging them around me, “I think, it’s perfect.” I finally looked back up into those eyes, my heart thumping a mile a minute.

He seemed to let out his breath then, and reached out and touched my hand briefly, “Come on, let me show you your room.”

With each room I just felt more and more in awe, stunned, it was all so beautiful, so personal, so private. My imagination was spiraling out of control, pretending that this was our home, our brand new home. It set my nerves on end and sent waves of guilt flowing through me. But it still didn’t stop me from following Jackson around, watching how easily he moved from room to room, how happy he looked, how his eyes would shine as he talked, and how every now and then, he would reach out and touch my hand.

That’s how I knew this was real.

And that little voice in the back of my head, it kept whispering to me, telling me that somehow…someway…things were going to change here in this place, in Vegas. I just wasn’t sure how, but I knew they were, and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop them…stop him

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