Chapter 5 - I can’t
"So, tell us how this started and how on earth did y'all keep it a secret for so long?"
This chick wasn't wasting any time. Jameson and I had been in the tiny radio room for about five seconds and she was already sinking her claws in trying to get to the juiciest information for this interview.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and tried to calm my heart.
Don't say anything stupid.
Don't mess this up.
I felt Jameson's hand squeeze my thigh and I opened my eyes instantly, staring down at his paw on my body. I looked up at him, he smiled, winked, then proceeded to answer the question like it was his job. And it sort of was. A lot of things about this profession made me uncomfortable but interviews really took the cake. More times than not, the interviewers pressed too much and went too far.
Nothing ever felt like it was mine, and I hated it. Everyone thought they were entitled to not only my voice but my thoughts too. And all I wanted to do was to keep something for myself.
Jameson could probably sense how anxious I was on the way over because he volunteered himself to answer most of the questions but I promised him that I would do my share. But the next thing I knew, the interviewer was closing it up so I cleared my throat and took over.
"Okay, last question. Long or short engagement?"
She asked, eyeing Jameson.
"Short. Definitely short," I intertwined our fingers before continuing, "I can't wait to marry him."
I stared into Jameson's eyes and watched as they wandered to my lips.
Don't do it. Don't you do it.
But dang it, he did it anyway.
He lowered his head and pressed his stupid lips to mine, ending the interview right then and there.
"Wow guys, I know y'all cant see this but I wish you could feel the energy in this room. These two are HOT."
The interviewer fanned herself with her printed questions as Jameson pulled away. He really needed to work on his ability to recognize my death glares. He seemed to be immune to them though.
After a few goodbyes and a handful of autographs, we headed back to the car. Back to the silence and back to no invasive questions. Because even when they were about something fake, they still rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why anyone cared about anything that I did. Didn't they know how boring I was? How I'd rather sit at home with my papa playing dominos or making monkey bread with my mama than go out and cause the type of trouble that they thought that I did? The last time they made something up about me, I'd been out on the lake all day fishing with my daddy. But that didn't matter to anyone. Facts made no difference to people who didn't want to hear them.
"You gotta stop kissin' me."
I sighed as I laid my head back on the headrest.
"Sorry, no can do."
Jameson joked a lot. I'd noticed that about him. He liked to make light of situations that made me want to crawl under a rock. Case in point, kissing me.
"And why not?"
I asked as I turned my body toward him.
He tucked his bottom lip between his teeth and I looked away. I knew what type of smile followed that and I didn't wanna see it.
"I mean I could stop kissing you. But I'd rather not."
He was joking again, I was pretty sure. But either way, I didn't respond. He spoke after a few minutes of silence.
"I don't want to make this any harder for you Della. I know it isn't ideal, I know it's tougher for you than it is for me. I'm not the type of guy you want, fake or not-"
I don't know what came over me but I didn't like anything that he was saying. It bothered me that he thought those things.
"It's not that."
I shook my head as I tried to find the right words before I continued, "Kissing and. . . stuff like that, it means something to me. And contrary to what people assume about me, I don't do things like that. I don't give myself to all these men like the magazines say."
I let out a shaky breath. I'd never spoke those words out loud before because it was such an awkward topic for me. I was about as private as a person could get and it was painful to imagine what everyone thought of me.
The car had grown so quiet that I questioned if I'd done the right thing. Maybe I should've just let Jameson assume those things about me as well.
He reached over the seat between us and grabbed my hand, bringing my palm up to his mouth, and despite my efforts to try and stop it, my heart shuddered in my chest.
"I'll settle for a burger and a grape snow cone."
He said as he pressed his lips to my palm, his eyes slid closed and I almost let mine as well until I realized what he'd said.
"Alan Jackson is my favorite."
I stared at him as I went over the lyrics that came before that line in my mind.
I was willing but she wasn't ready.
I narrowed my eyes, wondering how he knew that. I'd never said it in an interview before, I didn't have any public playlists jammed full of Alan Jackson's greatest hits so how could he have known?
"When you sing his songs, your eyes change. And you sometimes even close them when you get really into it. It wasn't that hard to guess."
He shrugged and looked out the window.
It might not have been hard to figure out but it did require some concentration. I hadn't covered an Alan Jackson song at a concert in years. Which meant despite all my hard to work to avoid him, Jameson had still been paying attention. A lot of attention.
I stared out of my window as well and combed over the memories of Jameson's concerts. He knew something personal about me and I wondered if I subconsciously knew something about him as well.
He liked to cover a lot of different country artists but I knew there was something there that I was missing. Then it hit me.
"I Cross My Heart."
I whispered to myself and Jameson squeezed my hand. I hadn't realized that he was still holding it.
"The King of country music."
He said, still looking out the window. He sang that song at every one of his concerts that I'd been to.
George Strait was a legend. I wondered what people would look back and refer to Jameson as in twenty years. I already knew how I would be remembered. But Jameson still had a chance, and I could help him.
I unbuckled my seat belt, slid over to the middle seat and he sat up, eyeing me. I clicked myself into the middle, took his hand, and rested it on my thigh.
A few seconds passed before he spoke.
"I don't do all the things they write about me either."
He whispered almost to himself.
He sounded like a child. He sounded a lot like I did when I would lay my head in my mama's lap and cry to her about all these awful, untrue things I'd read about myself.
I had been wrong about him. So very wrong.
I told him as I laid my head on his shoulder. A few seconds later I felt the weight of his head on top of mine as he let out a long sigh.
We could fake being engaged and being married, but there was no faking the level that we connected on. A level that I hadn't realized anyone else was teetering on with me.
We were kindred spirits, and there was no way that I could ignore that.
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