Used Ch. 06

bynerd4music©

"Is that my Jamie-bear?" a voice called out behind the screen door.

"Hey, Momma" she said softly.

The door swung open and a slender woman stepped out. She was a soft brown sugar color, her eyes warm and inviting. Her long black hair fanned out wildly behind her. She was wearing a pair of dark denim jeans tucked into cowboy boots and a short-sleeved flannel button down shirt.

With the exception of a few hardly noticeable wrinkles, Maureen Sinclair could have been mistaken as daughter's twin sister.

Maureen smiled. "Look at you, all skin and bones girl. What the hell have you been eatin' up in New York?" Jamie smiled as she bounded up the porch steps and grabbed her mother in a tight hug. Hot tears stung her eyes as they fell onto her Momma's shirt. She inhaled her scent deeply, smelling like a mixture of the original Dial soap she still used and freshly made peach caramel cheesecake. She missed that smell; it reminded her of better times.

Maureen rubbed her back soothingly. "It's okay, Jamie-bear. I'm just glad you came to see me." She smiled, her chocolate eyes lighting up. "Come on in. I've got lunch warmin' for you."

She stepped inside after her mother into the cool interior of the house. Though the outside looked a little old, inside was a different story. Maureen had bought the house many years ago as a fixer-upper project and it had taken her several months to get it just the way she wanted. Each room had a different theme and color. Jamie loved it; her mother was so talented.

They walked into the large kitchen, painted a soft honey color. Maureen opened the microwave and removed the cloth covering a large blue plate.

Jamie grinned as her mother set down the plate in front of a stool on the light stone counter. "Momma this is too much."

Maureen shook her head. "Ain't no such thing," she replied, the twang of her accent becoming even more noticeable. "Especially now since I seen how gangly you are. Eat up, baby girl. I made your favorites."

Picking up her fork, she dove into the large helping of mashed potatoes on her plate. Her mouth was practically watering as she savored her mother's good cooking. God, she missed food like this. Thick-cut meatloaf on toasted and buttered sandwich bread with just a touch of beef gravy, fluffy mashed potatoes and buttered broccoli. It was total comfort food and just what she needed. "Momma, this is just awesome. You don't know how much I needed this."

"Of course I do, baby girl." She brought two bottles of beer to the counter. "Now why don't you tell me what the hell is goin' on?"

Taking a deep breath, she started at the beginning. Jamie told her mother about her first encounter with Nate over two years ago and the event leading up to their bitter parting. At first she was a little embarrassed to reveal the sexual nature of their relationship, but her mother was never one to judge in the first place.

Maureen didn't interrupt her daughter; she listened intently while sipping her beer.

"...and that's how I ended up here," Jamie said.

Maureen chuckled. "Lord, I say you've had a tough go of things. I do gotta ask you one question, honey. Are you in love with him?"

She was silent for a moment before she nodded feverishly. "Yeah. I am. I'm very much in love with him."

"So what's the problem Jamie-bear? Why are you sittin' here shootin' the shit with your Momma instead of headin' to Nashville?"

She sighed. "I don't know Momma. I feel like there's this huge wall just holding me back from...just being happy. It's like every time I think things are going to be okay, there's this little voice that persuades me otherwise. I just need to know that things are going to work out before I invest my time and heart into this."

Maureen covered her hand. "Baby girl, if you're waitin' for things to work out perfectly, then you'll be waiting a helluva long time. You're never gonna know how things will go unless you take that first step. Stop being so scared of love, honey."

The tears welled in her brown eyes and Jamie swiped at them. "I don't want to get hurt, Momma. And I don't want to hurt him anymore. He's such a good guy. You'd like him a lot. I'm just terrified he's gonna leave me. It's like having this perfect gift just snatched away without warning."

Maureen smiled. "Well Jamie, running away ain't gonna solve anything either. It's not gonna make the hurt any less painful. You think just by denying yourself and him the happiness you both want just because you're afraid...that's just bullshit baby girl. I didn't raise any bullshit artists."

They both smiled. "But Momma, look at you. You trusted someone with your heart and he hurt you."

Her mother was thoughtful for a moment. "Ahh, I see. Are you afraid he'd hit you? 'Cause Momma's got a pistol you can use."

Jamie laughed through her tears. "No, not that. He wouldn't dare do that. I'd castrate him. I'm talking about emotional hurt."

"I see, honey. But you have to understand something. Nate isn't your father. You've seen your daddy's cruelty along with his sparse kindness. I'd like to say that there is something redeemable inside, but even after all these years I don't think I can. Your father hurt me deep, and in front of my babies." She waved the words away as if they were flies. "But that's beside the point. From what you've told me about this boy, I don't doubt his love for you. Maybe you need to do the same."

********

Two Days Later...

Nate plopped down on his sofa, his t-shirt sticking to his back. He tossed the earphones from his sweaty ears and practically pelted them on the sofa. The phone on the side table was ringing loudly.

Snatching it from the hook, he pressed the 'ON' button.

"'Lo?" he said gruffly.

"You answer the phone like that all the time?"

Nate grinned. "Only when it's someone I can't stand. How goes it, Ms. Masters."

Nora chuckled. "It goes well. I'm surprised you're home."

"Well, I do have off days."

"I'm not talking about that, Harlow."

Nate sighed. "I'm not gonna chase after her, Nora."

"Nate..."

"No," he interrupted. "It's been almost a week and I haven't heard from her."

"Last time I talked to her she was still at her mother's place in Macon."

"I know where she is. She sent me a text." He chuckled bitterly. "Imagine that. She sent me a fuckin' text."

Nora sighed. "She's scared, Nate" she said quietly.

"Nora, sooner or later that excuse just stops workin'. I'm scared too. I'm tired of havin' to prove myself and my love over and over."

"Nate, there's a lot of stuff about Jamie you apparently don't know."

He sighed. "Masters, what I don't know about Jamie could fill a textbook. Every time I think she's goin' to open up and let me in, there goes the fuckin' wall."

Nora was so silent he thought she hung up the phone. "Nate," she said slowly. "I'm not sure if I'm the one to tell you all this, but there's some stuff from Jamie's past you don't know about. Stuff about her father."

He stiffened. "What about?"

"I don't know all the details, but they aren't close at all." "Well, what about her mother? She mentioned she was an artist?"

"Yes. She lives in Georgia. She left Jamie's father when Jamie was young."

"Nora, what are you tryin' to say?" He could feel himself becoming flustered.

"Well, she never really said...but I think her father was kind of an asshole."

"Is that all you know?"

"Yeah. That's why you need to talk to her. Find out the whole thing, Nate. Don't leave until you tell everything and vice versa. You love her, right?"

He sighed. "More than anythin'."

"Then fucking go get her."

********

"Momma, what happened between you and my father?"

Jamie and Maureen were sitting on the wicker swing on the front porch, sipping peach tea and watching the Georgia sun set in the sky. The air was still thick with heat but it was a gorgeous night out.

Maureen was quiet for some time, mulling over the question her daughter asked her. It had been a long time coming. The sound of crickets making their dusk symphony could be heard for miles.

"Jamie, you know what happened" she replied.

"I guess I do. But maybe I just want to know why. Why did you leave me?"

"Jamie," she sighed.

But Jamie shook off her protests. "I remember the day you left. I was sitting in the kitchen with Rina, listening to him beat the shit out of you. I was so happy to see you come down those steps. It was just like showing Rina that you were strong enough to leave him." Her voice faltered a little. "I begged you to take me, Momma. You knew how much he hated me, and yet you left me there. You have no idea what it was like living with him after you were gone. He didn't beat me, but I'm not sure what was worst: getting beaten or being ignored."

Maureen's hand grasped her daughter's. "Jamie-bear, I wanted to take you with me. I did. But I just couldn't. I didn't even know where I was going at the time and I couldn't just upset your life. My plan was always to start over, make a comfortable life, and bring you and your sister to me."

Jamie felt the familiar sting of tears. She had cried more in the last days than in her whole life. "Well, you never came back for me."

Maureen nodded. "I did. Nearly a year after I left I came back to the house to pick you up. You and Rina were at school. Your father met me at the door and said I couldn't have you guys." She scoffed bitterly. "He was only holding on to you and Rina because he knew how much I loved and wanted my girls. Selfish bastard."

"He never told me that."

Maureen drank her tea slowly. "No, I didn't think he would." She turned to her daughter, her face illuminated by the string of soft outdoor light around the porch. "You listen to me, Jamie Renee. Your father will always be your father. Your relationship has nothing to do with me. But I just want you to know that I love you. And that sooner or later you need to stop blaming your past for your present situation."

Her words stung, but Jamie knew she was right. "I know, Momma."

Maureen nodded. "You are blaming Nate for what I did and what your father continues to do to you and you are losing out, honey."

She was silent. She was constantly afraid that they people she loved would abandon her so running seemed like the best thing. Maybe it was time to face her life. Maureen smiled at the look of realization on her daughter's face.

"What do I do?" Jamie asked.

Her mother shot her a 'duh' look. "Hightail your ass outta here." She patted her gently on the knee. "It's been nearly a week since you left the beach. Don't you think it's time you put some more mileage on that car of yours?"

Jamie grinned. "You don't mind if I leave you?"

"Mind?" Maureen scoffed. "I've been trying to get your bony tail outta here so I can invite my man over."

They both laughed. The thought of Maureen dating brought tears of mirth to Jamie's eyes. "That's too much info."

"Maybe," Maureen shrugged. "Actually, I've just been itching to paint. I've been working on an incredible piece."

"That's cool." "It is. The local high school wants me to help the art kids paint a mural in a couple of weeks."

"That's amazing, Momma!"

She nodded. "It is. Now everyone's gonna start to notice the work of Maureen Sinclair."

Jamie drained her tea. "Speaking of, when did you start using your maiden name?"

"Been going on a couple of years." She picked up a wooden basket beside her. "Now, back to your issue. I think it's time you headed on out." She handed Jamie the basket which was full of wrapped sandwiches and other goodies.

Jamie smiled. It was just like her mother to pack as if she was feeding the Russian army. "You planned this all along."

"What? You think I want you hiding out at my house all damn summer?" She shooed Jamie away. "Get on, girl. Go get your life back. And someday I wanna meet this boy!"

********

Nate placed his messenger bag containing his laptop on the passenger of his black pickup. Glancing at his watch he groaned inwardly. Today was supposed to be his day off but a sudden emergency called for his presence.

He straightened the pale green silk tie he was wearing, matching the dress shirt he was wearing. Nate fished his cell phone out of his grey slacks and dialed his boss' number.

"Hey, Gary. I'm about to leave my house to deliver the graphics to the office. I'll see you guys in about twenty minutes."

Snapping his phone shut, he realized he left his cup of coffee on his kitchen countertop. Cursing softly, he jogged up the short walkway to his front door.

He was only inside for a moment. When he came out, the sight that greeted him nearly made him drop his drink.

Jamie climbed tiredly out her Highlander. It had taken her more hours than she cared to admit, but she was here. She had pulled up to Nate's very modest house nestled in the Nashville suburbs. She was about to prepare a speech when she saw him gaping at her next to his truck.

She smiled sheepishly before stepping on the curb to meet him.

"Hey," she said softly.

Nate was stunned. "How...how did you find me?"

"Google'd you. Actually I Google'd your father and found his address. Then I looked you up in the yellow pages. Thank heavens for MapQuest."

"Wow," was all he said. She had gone through all that trouble just to find him.

"No worries," she replied, shrugging her shoulder as if stalking someone on the internet was something she did regularly. "Are you off somewhere?" she asked. He was impeccably dressed, his dress shirt highlighting his muscular chest and arms. Even his slacks were well tailored. He looked hot. She smiled when she noticed the slight stubble on his face and that he hadn't shaved his hair, the short blond hair curling nicely.

Nate cleared his throat. "Um, gotta go into work to hand in a coupla documents."

"Oh. You look hot."

He grinned a little, his body clearly forgetting he was kind of pissed at her. "So do you."

She scoffed. "I look like shit. I've been driving for fucking hours." Her hand ran absently through her dark hair, which hung limply at her shoulders.

Nate took a good look at her. Her jeans had rips in them, her black tank top was bit wrinkled and she looked like she could use a good night's rest. But she still looked beautiful.

"Why are you here?" he asked, somewhat gruffly. He was beginning to get irritated for some reason by their small talk.

"I," she started. "I needed to tell you some things."

He sighed, a long and weary sound that made Jamie ached. He sounded so beat up, so defeated. "Jamie, I'm done."

"What?"

"I can't do this anymore. I can't always wait around for you to decide what it is you want."

She was shocked. This wasn't how things were supposed to go. "Nate, you can't mean that. I love you. I want to be with you."

"Why?" he asked.

Once again she was stunned into silence. "What?"

Nate set his cup on the hood of his car. "Why do you want to be with me? 'Cause I know why I want to be you."

Jamie's mind frantically searched for the right answer.

"You don't know, do you?"

"I do..."

"Well then what is it? What is it that you can't say? Why can you never fuckin' open your mouth and tell me how you feel?" His anger and frustration from the past days finally boiled over. "Goddamit! I don't know what to do anymore. I love you so much it hurts darlin' but I can't fuckin' put myself through these games. We're not in college anymore Jamie. Step up already because I'm tired of hangin' out on this goddamn limb by myself."

His blue eyes blazed with anger and it almost made her tremble. She had never seen him look so fierce.

"Nate, I wanted to be with you. But I just couldn't let go of all the bullshit in the past."

"What bullshit?" his temper seemed to have subsided a little.

Jamie shoved her hands in her pockets. "All the shit from my past. Stuff with my dad; how he used to beat on my mother, how he loves my sister way more than he'll ever love me, how I spent the majority of my life trying to please everyone else but they always left."

She was practically willing herself not to cry. "I didn't want to tell these things because I thought it would make me weak." Her brown eyes stared into his. "Nate, loving you has hands-down been the scariest thing I've ever done in my life. It's also been the bravest. I've opened up to you more than I've had with anyone, including Nora. And see, that's the problem. In the back of my mind, there's always this thought that letting you in would ultimately be my downfall. You'd leave me like all the others, and honey I don't think I'd ever recover from that."

Nate's anger had vanished completely and was now replaced by understanding. She really was a basket case. "So you decided to push me away, without givin' me a say on my future with you? How is that helpful?"

She shook her head. "It isn't. I never said my thought process was logical."

He chuckled sarcastically. "Clearly. So why tell me all this now. What's changed?"

Jamie took his hand, linking their fingers together. "Me, if you'll have me. I can't promise I won't hurt you, and I now realized I can't expect you to make such an unfair promise too."

He was hesitant. His heart was screaming yes, but the logical side of him wasn't convinced. "I don't know, Jamie. What happens if you think you'll get scared again? You can't just run away from things when it suits you. You've got to face your issues."

The tears really did fall now, but she didn't move to wipe them. He had clearly moved on. "Nate, I..."

"Luckily," he continued. "You won't have to face them alone."

Her sentence died on her lips as she stared wide eyed at him. He grinned shyly at her. "We've all got our baggage, darlin'. Lovin' someone means you take the bad along with the good. And you've got too much good in you; I can't let you go."

She fell into his arms, sighing and crying tears of happiness.

He cradled her in his arms as he planted sweet kisses on her forehead. "I can't change you, sweetheart" he whispered. "I realize that. But for some fuckin' reason I actually like havin' you near. So I guess puttin' up with your craziness is the only way I can make you stay."

Jamie laughed through her tears. "That's the most semi, almost romantic thing I've ever heard." Her heart beat rapidly in her chest, happy adrenaline coursing through her veins almost making her giddy.

"So where do we go from here?" she asked.

Nate shrugged. "Well, first I gotta tell my boss I can't come into work today because I'm gonna head to Vegas for an impromptu wedding..."

Jamie stared stupidly at him. "What?" Panic started to creep in slowly.

"Kidding," he joked, noticing her face slowly returning to normal. He grabbed his bag from his car and led her into the house. "But callin' off is definitely in order."

Jamie smiled. "Really? Why is that?"

His grin was slow and wicked. "Because you and I have a lot of making up to do." His hands went to cup her ass as he pulled her into the main hallway of the house.

"Oh really?" she kissed him, enjoying his lips once more. "What do you have in mind?" She started to loosen his tie and tossed it to the floor.

"Not sure right now, but it involves a lot of groveling." He unbuttoned her jeans as she slipped off her sneakers.

"Groveling, eh?" His shirt was next, nearly ripping the buttons in her haste. "Will there begging involved?"

Nate lifted her tank top over her head, marveling the sight of her large breasts inside a dark green bra. "Oh, you'll definitely be on your knees darlin'." He kissed her hard, his tongue parting her lips to explore inside her mouth. His strong arms lifted her easily as Jamie wrapped her legs around his trim waist. God, she missed this. To think she had decided to walk away from this man, this blond god determined to make her beg for him. Foolish girl, she thought.

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