Authors: K. Renee
Her eyes widen. I tell her to hold on a second and hobble to my room. I dig through my bags until I find the box that holds her photo and the teddy bear I bought before she was born. When I turn, I see her standing at the door. Smiling, I motion for her to come in and have a seat on the bed.
Slowly walking over to her, I sit down and grab her hand. “Momma, I want you to meet your granddaughter, Gracilyn Marie Harper. This is the first toy I bought when I found out she was a girl.” The pink and grey bear was small and ratty, but it was all I could afford at the time. When she died, I couldn’t bring myself to donate it or throw it away. I donated all the clothes I was able to buy, but I just couldn’t part with the bear.
“Oh, my goodness. Sweet baby, you were perfect. You look just like your momma and daddy. Oh, Lyndley, I am so sorry you had to do this on your own. I wish you would have called me.” The tears trail down her face, and I wipe my own eyes.
“She looks just like him,” I murmur.
My mom shakes her head and looks at me. “No, baby. She looks like
of you.” She pulls me into her arms. “I’m so proud of the woman you’ve become, Lyndley. Not very many people can come back from something like this at such a young age. I’m very thankful your roommate cared enough about you to make you see the light.” She kisses my head and gets up. “I love you, Lynnie. Never forget that.”
“Love you, too, Momma. I’m sorry it took so long for me to come home.”
“Baby, you came home when you were ready. And that’s all I could ask for.” She smiles and walks into the hall.
I stare at the picture and the bear for a while, finally deciding on sending a picture of both of them to Jax.
Darlin’, she will always be with us. Thank you for the photo. It means a lot that you’d share it with me.
You deserve to know her like I did. I’m sorry for taking away your choice.
There was nothing you could have done differently. God had better things for her to do up there. My old man needed her more than we did
The tears start to fall again. I miss her so much, it hurts. Lying in bed, I try to get comfortable. When I was with Jax, I felt safe for the first time in a long time. It was almost like that is where I am supposed to be, even though I know we are a long way from that.
I bet she is having the time of her life. Your dad is probably spoiling her
Ha, yeah, I bet he is.
I end our conversation right there. I don’t want to force him to think about her every second of the day. I dumped this information in his lap only a day ago. He needs time to figure out how he feels about what I told him. Who knows? In a few days, he could wind up hating me for keeping the secret for so long.
I close my eyes and try to sleep, but just end up thinking about Jaxson and the type of father he would have been. I bet he would have been wrapped around her little finger. He probably would start cleaning his shotgun when boys started to like her, and I could only imagine what he would do when she started dating. Laughing to myself, I focus on the happy memories I had with her.
While she was in my belly, I spoke to her every night. I told her all about Jaxson and how much I still loved him, about how I would take her to see him eventually, about her grandparents.
She knew she would be loved and would never want for anything. I can’t stop myself from thinking about who she would look like more. I hoped she would have his smile, charm, and heart, but I will never know now.
A few days later, the swelling in my leg has gone down tremendously, and I can finally start my job at the diner. When I arrive for my first shift, I’m surprised to see Tate sitting alone at a booth. When I walk by the table, he grabs my arm, stopping me right in front of him. I jerk my arm away and he gives me a dirty look.
“Get off your high horse, Lyndley. Don’t fuck with him. He’s never gotten over you and I don’t want you sinking your claws back into him if you’re just gonna leave again.” I don’t get what I did for him to think so little of me. I would never hurt Jax on purpose. Jaxson broke up with
the first time, not the other way around.
“I would never hurt him,” I state, squaring my shoulders.
He just laughs. “Yeah, right. You did the moment you came back into town. And that story about the baby? I know what you’re trying to do. You’re playing the whole ‘poor me’ card just so you can get him back. You don’t deserve him. You never did.”
As much as his words hurt, I know I want to prove him and everyone else who thought that wrong. I have loved Jaxson for as long as I can remember. No other man has ever been able to consume me the way he does. Sure, I thought Tyler was perfect for me, but that was only because I didn’t want to come back here and deal with my past.
I point my finger at him. “Don’t you ever tell me I’m playing the ‘poor me’ card. You have no idea what I went through. As for Jax, I never stopped loving him. He’s always been the one for me.” I lean closer and whisper, “You ever say another thing about Gracilyn, I will tell everyone
secret.” His eyes grow wide. He obviously forgot I was there the day he found out.
Tate and I are sitting out by the pond waiting for Jax to come when his phone rings. I have never seen someone get so pale so quickly.
"You're fucking kidding me, right?" he yells into his phone. "You stupid bitch. Stay the fuck away from me. How could you take my fucking choice away? Why?" He puts his head in his hands as he listens. "Goddammit!” He throws his phone into the water.
Jumping, I look over at him and see tears running down his face. Since I've known Tate, I've never seen him cry, not once.
When I think he's calmed down enough, I scoot closer to him. “Tate, is everything okay?”
"Fuck no,” he whispers.
I rub my hand over his back, trying to comfort him, but I'm not sure if it's helping. I've never been in this kind of situation before.
"Nyssa just said she found out she was pregnant and had an abortion. How the fuck could she not tell me we were going to have a baby?"
I gasp. I can't believe she would do that. She always seemed like the nicest girl.
Before we can talk about it anymore, I hear Jax. "Lynnie, get your sexy ass over here." Looking over my shoulder, I smile.
"It's okay. I'll be fine,” Tate whispers. "I'll be there in a second." He wipes his eyes while I slowly stand up.
"If you need anything, let me know, Tate." He nods.
Walking over to Jax, he pulls me into his strong arms. "What's wrong with Tate?"
I look back at him still sitting there, his head in his hands. "I think he and Nyssa broke up."
Jax looks over at him. “Shit. Is he okay?"
"No, but I think he will be after some time." I can't even imagine what Tate must be feeling right now.
“You wouldn’t dare,” he quips.
I just smirk at him. “Try me.” I walk away.
When I hear the door chime, I don’t look back. Once I clock in and get my stuff ready for my first shift, I walk back out and almost run right in to Jax.
“Hey, darlin’,” he drawls, making me weak in the knees.
“Hi, Jax,” I squeak out.
“You work here now?” he asks with a grin. I nod and look over at the table Tate is still occupying. He gives me a look and I just smile. “Are you our waitress?” He leads me towards the table.
I shake my head and point to my section. “That’s too bad,” he says, leaning into me. “I was thinking. Let’s go out on a real date. I’ll pick you up, take you to a movie and dinner. What do you think?”
I can’t help but grin. “I’d love to.”
His eyes light up. “I’ll call you later and we can set it up,” he says, running his hand along the top of my jeans, barely brushing my belly. I nod and he kisses my cheek.
Walking over to the other side of the diner, I start to think about the first date we ever went on.
Waiting for Jaxson to come pick me up for our first date is so nerve-racking. What if we don’t have anything in common? What if he doesn’t like my outfit? Oh god, I think I’m going to vomit. The hottest guy in school wants to date me. What was I thinking when I said yes? Oh god.
I hear the doorbell ring, then I hear my dad talking to him. What if he scares him off? Oh, my god. I hurry up and apply the finishing touches to my outfit and hair.