Give It All We Got Tonight
I kept waiting for the remorse.
Or the shame.
Or even fear, pulsing, haunted memories of being hurt and attacked, but that didn’t linger long, it seemed to have faded away, a distant memory whose existence was created only as a turning point.
The regret never came.
From the moment I woke, still nestled blissfully in the warmth of Jackson’s arms, right up until those final minutes before I stepped off the plane, the only thing I felt was peace. My heart and my mind were finally in sync, telling me that I was in the right place, with the right person.
I finally felt complete.
The sun was peeking through the wooden blinds of the room, sending tiny beams of light bouncing off the walls, filling the air with a hazy glow.
I knew it was probably close to lunchtime when I finally stirred, my eyes fluttered open briefly, still lost in the dreams of glorious slumber. As I slowly woke up, my brain buzzed to life, and all the memories of the last two nights flooded my thoughts.
That attack changed me. And while it was a terrible thing to have lived through, it made me see everything around me differently, that life wasn’t always so black and white, and that there were no guarantees for tomorrow.
My mind just suddenly became so clear when I saw Jackson holding that tray in front me last night. Trying so hard to take care of me, his eyes so full of worry and fear. Never in my life had a man looked at me the way he did, or did everything in his power to surround me with beauty and awe. My heart finally had enough. It needed him.
The first thing my eyes focused on was a beautifully sculpted bare chest, rippling with pure muscle. My cheek was resting against it, I could feel his warm skin and hear the beating of his heart; it was rapid and strong. It sent little prickles of expectation shooting through me, and my body became very aware of how close, and how naked, we both were.
Careful not to disturb him, I lifted my chin slightly to look up into his face. He was already awake, those green eyes looking down at me so seriously, I wasn’t sure what he was thinking, and I tried not to panic when the thought that maybe he was filled with remorse rang through my head.
“Good mornin’ Beautiful.” His voice was bare, raw and husky, thick with his accent, and he moved some of my hair, tucking it away behind my ear. Those words just swam around my heart, making me forget my made up panic, and I smiled at him, a little bit embarrassed that he’d been watching me sleep.
“Good Morning.” My voice was just as coarse, heavy with emotion, and I couldn’t hide it even if I tried.
His arm shifted slightly, and he moved his hand away from my hair and let it travel slowly down my back, stopping near my waist. It sent goose bumps all along my arms and legs.
“You feeling okay? Sleep well?” His mouth was right near my forehead, I could feel his warm breath float across the top of my head, and after I nodded at him in reply, he leaned closer and pressed his lips to the skin above my eyes, engulfing me in his presence and warmth.
I let my hand spread out over his chest, closing my eyes and inviting his kiss. This just felt so good, I could feel his fingers pressing into my waist, that alone made me want to arch my body against him, encourage him to keep going.
He gave out a tiny murmur; it almost sounded like a sigh, and gripped my closer to him for a second before pulling away, moving his upper body so that we were level, face to face.
“I want you Beautiful.” his eyes searched mine carefully, and I wanted to stop listening, just reach out and pull him to me instead. If he wanted me, he could have me. But he kept talking, and I realized that he was telling me something very important, perhaps the most important words I would ever hear from him, “You are the most amazing woman I’ve ever met, and I’m really happy that you’re in my life. I want to keep you here, with me, for as long as I can. I know you have to go back, I would never do anything to hurt you, make you choose, I’ll respect the life you lead when you’re not with me, but when you are, I’ll do everything I can to make you happy.”
His fingers stroked gently along the skin at my waist as he spoke, the seriousness in his eyes never leaving. And in this moment I could tell, he meant what he said, he understood the risks, and he was willing to take them anyways.
I didn’t have to think twice. It wasn’t like those soap operas you see on tv where everyone pauses dramatically before those heartfelt speeches, where they have to stop and wonder if this was the right thing for them to do. I knew it before he even finished talking. I probably knew it from the moment I looked into his green eyes back at his very first concert.
“I’m here. When you want me, when you need me. I won’t ever ask for anything more, or make you choose. I would never let you risk your career, never.” And I was saying it plain as day. Something I never imagined in my entire life I would do, become someone’s mistress, so candidly, giving myself away so easily, but I did, because any other choice would leave me alone, without him, and I couldn’t bare to live like that.
He gave me a small smile, one that didn’t quite reach his eyes, and brought his forehead down to mine, his eyelids fluttering close. He was struggling, I could tell.
I didn’t want him to fight with my choice, it was mine, and I made it. Nothing was going to make me change my mind, I didn’t even want him to think about it, so I just lifted my hand and wrapped my arm around the back of his head pulling his face to me, trying to make him get lost in my kiss.
His kisses were amazing. The way those lips brushed over mine, the sweetness in it mixed with that vigorous hunger…his tongue slipping in, tasting and teasing me. It was easy to give into the want, and I stopped thinking about everything else except this handsome cowboy in my arms.
Last night had gone by far too quickly. I didn’t get the chance to explore this man like I did now. Didn’t realize how turned on I got when I heard his grunts and groans. Realize how thick and perfect he felt in my hand, and that low grumble that would escape him every time I squeezed. The longer my mouth moved down his neck and across his chest, the faster the sweet country boy charm left him, leaving behind nothing but a raw, passionate man who moved over me so skillfully.
He entered me, filling me more than I ever experienced, more than the one and only man I ever been with, more than Clint. His body molded to mine with such uniqueness as if he were made just for me. I could feel his muscles twitching in his arms and chest as he thrust, see the tiny beads of sweat form on his brow, the way his mouth opened with small gasps. He always watched me while he moved, his eyes full of desire and affection. That look alone probably had the ability to make me come. I would stare into those green eyes and get so lost in them, and that burning ache would begin to swell in the pit of my stomach and travel with such heat between my legs, making me arch my hips to try and meet his thrusts, to try and sate that thirst.
I didn’t have to work at it, try to build up arousal. It came so naturally with him…just by touching him, kissing him, so easy. I never knew lovemaking could be like this, didn’t know how I would ever be able to go back to living without it.
I watched her, for the longest time. Watched the way the wavy streams of sunlight would bounce off her hair, the way she would smile in her sleep, or the tiny freckles she had dotted along her bare shoulder. I was also acutely aware of how hard she was making me, even when she was doing nothing more than sleeping.
And then there was the guilt. I tried to push it to the back of my mind, but still, it lingered. All kinds of thoughts battled for space in my brain, had I taken advantage of her in her fragile state? Risked everything for one night?
I knew that I would be able to live with myself, after doing this, but I couldn’t bear it if she hated herself when she woke up, if she wished, even for one second, that this never happened.
Those sweet, beautiful eyes finally opened, and I watched her come to life, raising her head to look up at me. By instinct, I reached up and moved some hair off of her face, hoping we wouldn’t lose today, what we found last night.
“Good Mornin’ Beautiful.” I wanted to say more but I was literally overwhelmed by those deep brown eyes, my words caught in my throat, showing my emotions more than they should.
She answered me, and I strained my ears, trying to hear if there was fear or remorse in her tone. There wasn’t any, just pure honey in her voice, sweet, rich.
It set my body on the edge, and my hands had a mind of their own, traveling down the curve of her shoulder, the dip in her back, resting at her waist, trying to control the urge to keep going.
“Are you feeling okay? Sleep well?” I should have asked her right then if she was okay with me still holding her, if she was okay with us, but I didn’t want to face it just yet, if she said no. I wanted to hold her a little bit longer, feel her next to me, kiss her again.
My body was still fighting, it wanted her hands on me, wanted her mouth on mine, wanted to be buried deep inside her.
It was all I could do to press a small kiss on her forehead, tried to show her I really did care. She reacted to that, her hand moved to my chest and she seemed to snuggle closer to me, I could feel her breasts press softly near my rib cage. It nearly tore a groan from my throat, and I could feel my fingers start to dig into her waist, bringing her closer to me.
I knew I had to be honest with her, starting right now, before either of us moved one step further. So with overwhelming desire, and halting hesitation, I pulled away from her, moving my body down so that I could look into her eyes.
“I want you Beautiful.” I kept my voice steady, my eyes locked to hers, making it clear that I wanted to make love to her again. But more than that, I wanted her to know how important she was to me, wanted her to know how much I valued her, and that I would move heaven and earth to make sure our secret would stay safe. I would never throw it in her face, or threaten to tell her husband, never interfere with their lives, or make her choose between him and me. I also wanted her to know that whenever she was with me, I would do everything in my power to make her feel beautiful and special, to show her the world in a whole new way.
She watched me quietly as I spoke, her eyes searching mine while she took a quick breath. She didn’t hesitate at all in answering me, telling me that that she would be here for me, any time I wanted her. That she would risk her whole life, for me. And she would ask for nothing in return, not the fame I’m sure she knew she would have if we were a public couple, or the money, nothing, she asked for nothing.
And it tore at me.
Instead of feeling relief at her words, I struggled to swallow the feeling that I was letting her down, turning her into something that would be marked with shame instead of the glistening star I knew she should be.
She could probably see it in my eyes, but she didn’t let me wallow in it. She just pulled me down to her, wrapping those slender arms around my neck and pressing her body into mine. She lips still felt every bit as good as they did last night, and it set my body on fire the moment we touched.
I didn’t think it would be possible, but this time felt even better than the last. She was sliding her body up and down mine, her nails scraping against my skin leaving these pink trails down my arms. Her warm mouth found it’s way up my neck and right behind my ear, tearing an unexpected moan from my throat.
And when she wrapped her hand around me, pumping along my sensitive skin, I just bucked my hips into her hand, and she would squeeze back as if she knew how badly I wanted her.
It was always hard to stay in control once I was inside of her. I had to fight this wild animalistic urge to come, tell my brain to slow down and breathe, to make it last. She didn’t make it any easier for me, her eyes would stay locked to mine and those pink lips would part in desperation. Her hips would tease and taunt me, trying to match my every thrust, and with each push I could feel myself going deeper and deeper, heading closer to the edge all while trying to pull away from it.
Her body felt amazing around me when she came. A low gasp would escape her throat, her fingers would dig into my back, it felt like every muscle she had would convulse around me, pulling me in harder, taking me higher, and it never failed to make me come with her.
This woman here was everything I always imagined I would fall in love with, and I knew I would forever curse myself for not meeting her first.
I don’t think we left my house at all in those next seven days. We spent the entire time getting to know more about each other, sharing stories, laughing.
I just loved watching her hang out in my bedroom with me wearing nothing but my T-shirt, her eyes all bright as I told her more about myself.
I was a man possessed, trying to make her laugh every chance I got, just so I could see that smile. Didn’t hesitate to pull her in my arms anytime I felt like it. And she looked happy, snuggling up to me while we watched old movies in my theater, standing on her tiptoes to kiss me on the cheek while I cooked us dinner, sitting there on one of the stools in my studio with nothing but admiration in her eyes as she watched me work, her hair all tousled and messy from us making love earlier.
It was all just some perfect dream. I just hoped neither of us would ever have to wake up.
“You ever afraid of anything Jackson?” We were sitting in my studio when she asked me that. I was just playing around with my guitar, giving it a few turns and spins, all kinds of inspirational thoughts running through my head. Her question took me by surprise, and I stopped what I was doing to look at her.
“Afraid?” I pondered for a second, “That’s a hard one…umm…everything?” I half joked, but at the moment, I was afraid, afraid of losing her, and that really was everything.
She just laughed and shook her head at me, her eyes all bright and sparkling, “No silly, you can’t be afraid of everything, just one thing. Are you afraid of just one thing?”
I cocked my head to the side at her words, still trying to be a little funny, “Bears?”
She giggled again, “Well yeah, bears, me too.” And then she got a bit more serious, “I’m afraid of getting lost, and spiders.” She added as an afterthought.
“Getting lost? Is that because you got lost when you were a little girl?” I was intrigued with this new piece of information, this new little tidbit about her.
“Yeah, probably. Ever since then, I hate not knowing where I am…or not knowing where I’m going to lend up, new places always scare me, sometimes I feel like I can’t breathe.”
I contemplated that for a second before offering her one of my own fears. “I’m afraid of my audiences.”
“What?” she sat up straighter, her eyes full of question.
“I’m afraid to touch them. Just some crazy fear that they won’t let me go, that I’ll wind up being pulled into the crowd and jumped on.” I shrugged, “Sounds dumb, I know.”
She shook her head at me, “That doesn’t sound dumb at all.” She tilted her head to side, studying me quietly, “I would’ve never guessed. I mean, when I see you out there, you look so confident, so commanding. I can’t imagine you being afraid of anyone.”
“I don’t know why, I’m not really that social, pretty private in real life. Sometimes I look out into those crowds and all I can think of is that all those people, they want something from me, a part of me, and I’m just not ready to give it.” I almost couldn’t believe I was telling her this, something I’d never told anybody before, not even my parents knew this. But she made it easy for me to share, I actually wanted her to know.
“Maybe you just don’t see yourself like other people see you, because I think your audiences, they look up to you, and I don’t blame them, because I think you’re pretty great myself.” Her smile just lit up the room, and I had to put my guitar down and lean over to kiss her.
“I think you might be the only one.” I said softly into her lips. She just smiled brighter and placed her hand up near my cheek.
“I’m not the only one.” She said pulling back just a little bit so that she could see my eyes, “I’m just the lucky one.”
I felt like a princess. Jackson doted on me hand and foot, making me laugh with all his sweet and funny jokes, his silly stories. I loved hearing the teasing tone in his voice, the way he would tilt his head to the side in mock seriousness before winking at me.
He never seemed to get tired of hugging me or pulling me in his arms. I loved being twirled around in his arms, in the circle of his warmth. I couldn’t imagine a man more perfect than this. I knew he had his faults, we all had faults, but this man standing in front of me, he really was remarkable.
I found myself talking to him about things that I never even talked to Clint about. Little things about myself that always seemed so unimportant to share with anyone, but I shared them with him.
And he listened too. Not just halfheartedly either, he always stopped whatever he was doing and gave me his full attention, making me feel like he really wanted to hear what I was saying.
The more we talked, the more little things began making sense. He told me about his fear of his audiences, the reason why he would never touch them. His story just sent me back spinning in time and I remembered watching his struggle back at his concert before he walked to the edge of the stage and knelt down. I remembered the look in his eyes and the way he kept moving his hand away from all the screaming fans.
To me, his fear made perfect sense, he was human, lots of people might be afraid of those crowds, some might never even have the courage to step on a stage, much less perform out there. But to him, it was some kind of failure, something that should have been easy for him. I could tell he didn’t see it, see how special he was, maybe nobody ever told him that, so I decided that it would be me, I would always remind him of how great he was, always.
The day before we were set to leave Nashville, he took me out to the lake behind his house. It was really pretty there. Lots of green grass and colorful little flowers blanketed the hillside. The water was this gorgeous deep blue color that flowed and bubbled up along the rocks as it made its way down the stream. Jackson threw down this soft grey quilt across the grass and led me over to the water.
We got close enough so that he could show me how to use his fishing rod. I fished once back in Terra, when I went camping with my parents and a few of their friends. I didn’t think I would ever want to do it again. Fishing was hard. It didn’t seem possible that he could teach me to fling a weight off a wire string, holding a stick, without hurting someone in the process.
Jackson, of course, thought this was hilarious.
“Umm, Miss Ara, you don’t throw the entire rod into the water. That scares the fish.”
I just rolled my eyes at him, trying not to get my shoes wet as I pulled the fishing rod out of the water for what felt like the hundredth time.
He chuckled again reaching for me, “Come here baby, let me help you.”
He stood behind me, sliding both hands around my waist and down my arms before helping me guide my hands over the heavy wood. “Your left hand will do most of the work, you just slide your finger here over that little trigger button, back and forth, you don’t let go, this is the the hand that stays put, grip the rod tight, squeeze it, if you have to.”
His words sure didn’t sound like he was talking about fishing, and I could already feel my heartbeat start to quicken.
“My left hand?” I was merely repeating his words, trying to hide how he was affecting me.
“That’s right Ma’am, your left hand. Your right hand slides up here, a little higher, this is the hand that moves, up and down.” he pulled on my arms guiding me through the motions of throwing a fishing line.
“And when do I let it go?” I turned my head slightly, I could see the outline of his face out of the corner of my eye, he was this close to me.
He just chuckled again, planting a soft kiss to my nose. “You don’t let it go baby, you hang onto it. The line will release as soon as you press that button.”
Geez I was almost dizzy now, and the way he was holding me, just pure provocation.
It took three more tries before I actually remembered to press that button while swinging the pole around at the same time. I watched my lure spin crazily in the air and plop down into the water, sinking slowly until it disappeared.
“Oh!” I gasped, turning to Jackson in delight, “Did you see that? It made it. It went in!”
He grinned at me with a soft chuckle and hugged me tightly, my back pressing into his chest, his chin resting on my shoulder. “See baby, you can do anything.”
“Look, look, now we can catch a fish.” I nodded eagerly, “How long do you think it’ll take?”
Jackson pressed his lips together trying to hold back a laugh I’m sure, “Uhh…might be a long wait baby, the fish don’t come that close to shore where your lure landed. They usually hang out further back.”
I wrinkled my nose at him, turning in his arms, “Just how further back do they like to hang? We haven’t got all day you know.”
His laughter echoed across the water and I let myself giggle with him, happy that I could make him laugh, he looked perfectly content, standing there in his baseball cap and jeans. He didn’t look anything like a famous country star, just a regular guy, just my guy.
He reached out and took the pole from my hands, winding up the wire with this little hand crank thing. “Let me show you Beautiful, I know exactly where they like to hang.”
God if I had a camera now, I would be taking a million pictures, because he looked so amazing as he threw that fishing line into the water. His entire body flexed and pulsed, his shoulders looked miles wide and you could see the outline of the muscles in his legs through his jeans. The grip he had on the rod actually made me jealous. I couldn’t take my eyes off of him even when the lure went soaring through the air, almost halfway across the lake.
He turned and winked at me once the lure hit the water, “See baby, what do you think about that throw?”
“Hmmm…” I placed my hands on my hips giving him a little frown, “I don’t know, I didn’t like it, not far enough.”
I don’t think he was expecting that answer because the grin faded a little from his face, and he glanced back at the water, and then at me again. “Not far enough?” His mouth stayed open a bit in disbelief.
“Nope.” I shook my head; “I think I need to watch you do it again, and then, maybe again after that.”
He was just about to complain when it hit him, his words got all jumbled up and his face was a cross between amusement and outrage.
He took a few steps back towards me pretending to throw his fishing pole down to grass in exasperation, a mischievous grin on his face. “Oh you thought it wasn’t far enough, huh? You wanna see me do it again, huh? I think maybe you just want to check me out.” he reached out and pulled me to him even though I had turned to try and get away. We were both laughing, and he picked me up in his arms spinning around and headed back for the water.
“You wanna see how far I can throw?” he teased.
“No! No! You wouldn’t dare.” I tried to bury my face in his shoulder, my fingers gripping him tightly as he waded into the water, shoes, jeans, and all.
“Oh, you’re daring me now. Tsk tsk…small town girl like you should know better than to dare a country boy.”
“Okay,okay,I’m sorry! I won’t do it again, please put me down, pretty please.” I begged, still holding on tight.
“I don’t know pretty lady, I think I might have to teach you a lesson.”
“Please, please, don’t put me in the water.” I burrowed my face in his neck trying to suppress my giggles, “It’ll scare the fish!”
The sound of his laughter filled my ears and made my heart skip happily, he just hugged me tighter and moved me around to face him, holding me up with those strong arms so I wouldn’t get my feet wet, and lowered his head to mine.
His kiss melted my heart, I could feel my body relax against his, my arms moving around his neck as I kissed him back. When his kisses got more serious, more demanding, it didn’t matter that I could feel the water lapping over my sandals, getting the hem of my jeans wet, all that mattered was returning that desire I felt in his kiss, of showing him that I wanted him too.
He moved us both out of the water slowly, and when we reached the bank, he let me go, his hands making quick work with the zipper of my jeans and pulling the soft flannel top down off my shoulders.
My hands pulled open the snaps of his shirt at the same time, and I fumbled with the buckle of his belt with my fingers.
“Having trouble?” he teased against my lips, his hands had already found their way to the clasp of my bra, and he opened it easily.
I gave him a half grunt still trying to figure that darn buckle out, “This thing is huge, how do you get it open?”
And he was laughing again, kissing me harder, helping me undo the buckle and kicking off his jeans, lowering us both down until we lying on the soft material of the blanket, filling me entirely and moving ever so slowly until I thought I would burst. My nails dug into his back, my hips rose to meet his, my back arched. We just kept moving together until we both found it, until it exploded between us at the same time.
We stayed out there until the sun set. It made the water look beautiful, glistening and sparkling like tiny diamonds all across the blue. I looked back into that handsome, sexy face across from me, and I knew that I belonged here.
We boarded my plane early the next morning. It was hard. I was holding onto her hand so tight the entire way. My brain just kept repeating over and over that there were only hours left, and then minutes.
And just as fast as she came, she would be gone.
She looked just as distraught as I felt. Trying to make small talk, giving me these sweet wavering smiles that would only make my heart ache all the more.
She was going home, and I was heading out again, Louisiana was next on my tour, and while it usually was a rowdy good time for the guys and my crew, I wasn’t looking forward to this one at all. It didn’t matter that I had to fly all the way out to Washington to drop her off, and then all the way back, if it bought me a few more hours with her, that was all the incentive I needed.
In fact, I was already missing that perfect little paradise that we’d found back at my house. I wasn’t ready to let that go, didn’t know what I was going to do with myself for the next few weeks, how to keep from going crazy without her.
I told her that I would see her in about three weeks. That she would love seeing Oklahoma City with me. That place had everything. Bustling downtown with lots to see and do, you’d never believe that it also had these wide open plains and valleys that looked miles and miles long, all coated with the greenest grass you’d ever see.
She seemed excited about that, and I could tell that her smile was finally real then.
But neither of us was smiling when the plane touched down, when we knew that our time together had come to an end.
Even though I wanted to, I knew I couldn’t walk her down to the terminal, there would be too many people. We would have to say goodbye right here.
She didn’t say much, just leaned forward in her chair and pressed a kiss to my cheek, her fingers softly sliding down near my jaw as she did that. My heart was already hurting, already missing her.
I did my best to keep things light, to try to look positive, make it seem like this wasn’t going to be hard at all, that we could do this forever if we had too.
“I’ll see you in Oklahoma City, Beautiful.” I nuzzled into her neck one last time.
“Yes,” her voice wavered, and then she pulled her head back to look at me with those brown eyes, “I’ll be there.”
She didn’t turn around to look at me again until she reached the doorway, she paused there, her hand resting on the door frame, and tilted her head in my direction.
“Take care Jackson.” She said, before turning again and walking out the door.
And just like that…I was alone again…