“What was it, Jess? What was it you saw in him that night? Why did you follow him outside, and what made you believe in him when nobody else did?”
Holding Kayla’s gaze, the singer loved the light she saw there, shining from the depths of the deep brown almond shaped eyes vaguely similar to those of an endearing man waiting back in Vancouver.
“What was it I saw in him that night? Me, I think,” was Jessie’s simple response. “I saw myself. Lonely. Sad. And maybe there’s something to the universe matching people up with each other, Kayla, because I knew instantly that I loved your brother. Maybe from the second he walked into the club, or maybe from the moment I looked into his eyes, but it was like that old cliché – hit by a lightning bolt – and I know I will love him forever. I just know.”
“With Paul it was more like a friendship that grew. And it grows stronger every day.”
“I guess there are all kinds of ways to fall in love, kiddo. The hard part is keeping it, with all the crap we have to deal with in our everyday lives. Therein lies the challenge.”
She seized the magazine from Kayla’s lap and held it up, an Olympic torch for all to see.
“And this kind of stuff – I mean, I know people are curious, but – it doesn’t help. People read this crap and they believe it, and my guess is that it paints Charlie as the one who got hurt. Which on some level I guess is true, but he and I have made our peace with our break-up. Mostly,” she added wryly, knowing Charlie still wished for a second chance to make things right. But at least they had salvaged some sort of genial friendship out of the dregs of their ill-fated romance.
“I know,” Kayla said. “You’re right.” As she got up to go, she bent down and gave Jessie a gentle embrace. “Jessie, my family will always be indebted to you. Whether or not you and Josh stay together, it doesn’t matter. Although of course I hope you will. You gave him a second chance at life. None of us will ever forget that.”
“Thanks, Kayla,” Jessie whispered, hugging her back. “But I only got him started. The rest of you stood by and helped him through it.”
As Kayla left the dining room, a bounce in her step and a twinkle in her eyes, Jessie felt a wave of ennui wash over her. She wished she were back in Vancouver with Josh, holding him close and teasing him, playing with his hair, keeping him in her sights, as if her presence alone could protect him from all of the negative elements hidden under rugs and buried under lowland swamps. She caught herself wondering what the Sawyer clan would think of her if they knew what happened to Sandy in Charleston, and the fact that Jessie was still very much afraid of the man who caused the harm.
She shook her head as if to chase the bad thoughts away, and she felt her heart swell with love for Kayla, and for Zach’s little clan as well. Loving somebody like Josh was such a gift – he brought a whole sweet family into Jessie’s life. Including the little ones, Zach and Hilary’s rambunctious, adorable youngsters.
Placing a linen napkin almost tenderly on her empty plate, Jessie rose from her comfortable wicker sanctuary. Absently, as she moseyed across the navy blue carpet, she couldn’t help but wonder what she brought into Josh’s life – public assaults, a circus lifestyle, endless late hours and extensive travel? Perhaps even…but no. She refused to entertain any more thoughts of McCall, and wondered why his sadistic presence always seemed to be in her mind of late. Was there such a thing as channeling? Was she on McCall’s mind? She shuddered.
There would be time to worry later. For now, as if she were entertaining visual slides in her head, Jessie slid McCall away and replaced him with Josh. And on that happy thought, she punched in the elevator’s Up button and, while waiting for the upstairs shuttle to arrive on her floor, she signed an autograph for a petite Asian lady who didn’t at all seem to mind that Jessie was now with Josh. And then Jessie slipped into the forgiving abyss and let it carry her up, up and away.
She had a show to do.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish