Chapter 2 – An Unknown Addition
May 28, 2004 – Jacksonville, FL – The Home of Glitter Mo’net
“So, when are you supposed to meet up with Jarrod again?” Marc asked as I shook my head, wondering why I was still holding the phone to my ear, listening to him belittle me for the things I did.
“He told me that he would meet with me the first of June, nine in the morning,” I replied, thinking back to the last conversation I had with the freaky executive.
“I don’t think that meeting’s going to happen with you,” he said as I looked at the phone strangely.
“Why not,” I said, wondering what else had happened since I left.
“All of them are still here in Philly,” he replied as I wondered why they were still there, when they should’ve been on their way back here.
“Ah, why are they still there? Why aren’t they on their way back here?” I asked.
“If you would’ve stayed here, you would know about the new drama that’s going on between JT and Heather Stewart,” he said as my eyes widened, remembering the name from both JT and his past.
“Hey, isn’t that the girl you were telling me about; the one that you helped to…” I asked as he interrupted me.
“Yeah, that’s her and she’s currently here, playing out a new scene of her own,” he stated as I shook my head. “When she’s done, there probably won’t be a ‘Mutual Attraction’. So, aren’t you lucky you got out when you did?”
“As I said, I guess we’ll see,” I said, finally hanging up the phone. “Glitter old girl, what are you going to do now?”
Downtown Philadelphia, PA – A Neighborhood Playground near the Radisson Plaza Hotel
I am exhausted.
Being away from Summer for so long must have short circuited my memory or something. Because this little girl has been on ten ever since we left the hotel. I thought giving her frozen yogurt would prevent this. Damn was I wrong.
Summer dashed past me going about sixty followed by a big group of kids her age. They’re all fresh from the yogurt shop and showing no signs of slowing down. Every mother present looks like they could kick their own ass for being so dumb.
You’d think that they ate a five-pound bag of sugar chased by chocolate with the way they’re running, climbing and generally being high-energy toddlers. I just hope she burns all this off soon. I’m getting tired!
Now I see why they built this damn playground next door, I think grumpily. These kids are bananas!
“Mommy play!” Summer demanded from over by the swings.
I sighed, but got up to put her in. She squealed happily as I pushed her. I can’t help laughing at her exuberance. She’s such a happy baby, it’s hard to believe she’s mine.
Momma took great pleasure in reminding me that her curse worked. I just snort, but I have to admit, Summer is definitely my kid.
“Are you ready to go back to the hotel lady?” I asked, lifting her out of the baby swing.
“No!” She screamed and then took off running.
“They should bottle all that up and sell it,” Momma cracked as she walked up beside me. “That much energy needs to be against the law!”
I crack up, laughing until movement over Momma’s shoulder catches my eye. Oh my God! I watch in horror as Josh spots me. The happy look in his eyes warms my heart for a split second, until I remember that Summer is headed for me as well.
“What’s wrong baby?” Momma asked, trying to turn but I stop her.
“Josh just walked into the park!” I whispered urgently, then pushed her in Summer’s direction. “Get her out of here!”
Momma’s look of fear matched mine before she took off to intercept Summer, before she could get to me. I pasted on what I hoped was a welcoming smile, just as Josh reached me. He gathered me close, his arms strong and sure as he hugged me. I wish that things could be different between us, but that’s not possible. I think he noticed the difference because he stepped back to look at me quizzically.
“Baby, is everything okay?” He softly asked. “You seem upset. Did I do something wrong?”
“No!” I exclaimed, finally finding my voice. “What’re you doing here? I thought you’d be held up in your room, writing or something.”
“I was, but I missed my girl,” he replied, kissing my lips softly. “I went to your room, but you weren’t there. So, I took a walk to get something to eat. I was on my way back when I heard you laughing. What was so funny?”
I was about to answer him when I saw Summer, struggling with Momma to be put down. I can hear her starting to whine. After a few minutes of not getting her way, her face was like thunder. That can only mean one thing; it’s tantrum time. Sure enough, she took the deepest breath she could and then let out a shriek that could be heard for miles. Her cry of ‘Mommy!’ sets my teeth on edge, but I have to ignore her. Forgive me baby, I think desperately as I smile up at Josh.
With a frown, he looked around to see what all the fuss was about, but luckily, Momma had her back to us. All he could see was Summer reaching and screaming as Momma tried to corral her fury.
“It looks like somebody needs a nap,” Josh joked, but my child grabbed my attention again.
I watched as she bucked hard enough to make Momma loosen her grip. Summer landed on her feet and came running to me, crying hysterically.
“Mommy no-no,” she screamed as she climbed into my lap. “No-no!”
“Summer Elizabeth Knotts, get over here right now!” Momma yelled, but it’s too late.
Oh God, no. My worst nightmare just became a reality.
“What the hell?” Josh said as he stood up. “You—you have a baby? How… When… Who… What the hell!”
“Bad! No-no!” Summer said, turning to Joshua with a stern frown. “No say! Bad!”
Under other circumstances, this would be such a cute moment, if it wasn’t for the look of hurt on his face. His daughter acting like a tiny censorship committee member should bring tears of laughter, but it doesn’t. I watch as sadness slowly gives way to confusion, and then finally realization.
“Nikki… Who’s baby is she?” He asked, not taking his eyes off of me.
“She’s my daughter Josh,” I replied calmly, but inside I’m ready to run. “That’s not totally true… She’s our daughter.”
“What the hell do you mean, ‘our daughter’?!” He shouts, startling Summer. When she begins to cry again, Josh is instantly contrite. “I’m sorry sweetie. I didn’t mean to scare you. I was just upset.”
Summer peeked out at him warily. She studied Josh. I guess she likes what she sees, because she reached out to touch his hand, a little grin showing off her dimples, displayed on her face. Josh gasped, his eyes filling with tears as he gently shook his daughter’s hand for the first time.
“What yo’ name?” Summer asked, her eyes bright with curiosity. “I, Summer.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you Summer. My—my name is Josh,” he replied while drinking her in with his eyes. “How old are you?”
“I dese many,” Summer declared, holding up two fingers. “You old!”
“Summer!” I exclaimed, trying to hold back a smile though. “Honey, that’s rude! Apologize to Josh!”
“But he old Momma!” Summer declared, looking confused.
Lord help me. This little girl has way too much mouth to still be in pull-ups. Josh looked amused for a moment. Then his eyes met mine and I saw he wants to talk… He wants to talk to me alone. Lucky for me, my mom chose that moment to make her presence known, clearing her throat.
“Hello Joshua,” Momma coolly said. “It’s been a long time.”
“Ah—ah, hello Mrs. Knotts,” Josh replied, his eyes only leaving mine briefly to look up at her. “How are you?”
The two of them made small talk while I tried to decide what to do. My attention is brought back to the conversation when Summer squirmed away from me.
“I’m going to take her back to the hotel,” Momma said with a small smile as she dug in my purse for her room key. “It’s been a long day and it’s past her nap time. Come on little lady.”
“Otay!” Summer responded as she held her arms out to be picked up. Momma rolled her eyes, but scooped her up anyway.
“I’ll see you back at the hotel,” Momma said as she kissed my cheek. “Call me, if you need me baby.”
Our eyes met and I drew strength from the look of steely determination, reflected there in those wise orbs. I can do this. I nod imperceptibly. She put Summer in her stroller and left me to face my little girl’s father alone.
I—I can’t believe this is happening. How can this be? She—she told me that our baby—our baby had died. How can this little girl be—be ours? I watched Mrs. Knotts walk away with the baby. Is she really mine? I don’t know what to believe here.
I planned to ask Nikki to marry me the day after we fought. Once I’d had time to think, I realized how wrong I was to ask for that paternity test. Nikki would never have cheated on me. She loved me too much. Or so I thought.
I didn’t care what my family thought. But then she was gone and I was left to grieve for our baby alone. I only had the guys, because I left my family behind, after all that happened. How could she do that to me? I thought she loved me.
She finally turned back to me. Her face is calm, but I know better. Her eyes betray her inner turmoil. But she’ll never show how frightened she is. Part of me loves that about her, but another, more savage part wants to kill her for keeping my daughter away from me for so long!
“Give me one good reason I shouldn’t be furious right now,” I coldly said as she looked at me with an eye raised.
Her eyes flickered, but suddenly her whole demeanor changed. Her eyes harden and her spine stiffened, like she was prepared to fight to the death.
“You have every right to be furious with me,” she calmly said, her expression cool. “I was wrong to make you think I’d had that miscarriage, but I had my reasons.”
“What possible fucking reason could you have to lie like that to me?” I snapped. “You let me grieve for our baby for two years! Two fucking years I’ve cried myself to sleep, wishing I could take back what I said to you! You let me live with the guilt, like I was nothing to you! How could you!?”
“I did it to protect my baby!” She snapped, her calm façade finally cracking. “You heard what your parents said to me! They wouldn’t have accepted her! You sister slapped me and then spit on me! They called her a monkey! Why in the hell would I subject my baby to that?”
“I would’ve stopped it!” I snapped as she snorted derisively.
“Oh, like you stopped them every other time they attacked me?” She asked condescendingly. “You never stood up to them for me. So, why in the hell would I think you’d do it for my child?”
Oh God, she’s right. I lowered my head. I let my family treat her like shit, because I didn’t want to be in the middle. Fear of losing their love and approval cost me the woman I love, and so much more than I can conceive right now.
I smiled as I heard my daughter’s little voice admonish me about using bad words. She’s so beautiful. She looks like me and her mother, and maybe a pinch like my biological mother around the eyes. I have to make this right.
I looked over at her; she’s watching me with a mixture of wariness and anger written across her face. The thought of her having to raise our child alone for the last two years filled me with shame. I should’ve been there to see our baby be born and grow up. Nothing should’ve come between us. Once I knew about the baby, I should’ve walked away from my family, but I didn’t. I’ve missed a lot, but that ends today.
“I want to be in her life,” I simply said. I could visualize the gears turning in her head as she thought things over. I know she wants to, but fear of the consequences is holding her back.
“No,” she finally says, shaking her head vehemently. “I’m sorry, but I can’t let you do that. I won’t let your family hurt her.”
“That’s right! You don’t know,” I exclaimed, turning her face up to mine. “Nikki, I haven’t spoken to my family since the day you left.”
Her eyes widened in disbelief.
“But—but you told me…” she began, but I cut her off with a kiss.
“It’s true baby,” I said, pulling her into my embrace. “When I found out you were in the hospital, I told them that if anything happened to you or our baby, I’d never speak to them again. And I haven’t.”
“Josh, I—I’m so sorry,” she cried, her shoulders shaking from her sobs. “I—I didn’t mean for this to happen! I just wanted to raise our baby in peace. I thought I was doing the right thing. Now you’ve lost your family. I didn’t know… Oh God, I ruined everything!”
I lifted her face so I could look into her eyes. And just like always, she mesmerizes me.
“Baby hush!” I exclaimed. “You didn’t ruin anything. They did with their ignorance and hate. You gave birth to our little girl and you raised her. I should’ve been there! I left you to do all of it by yourself.”
Now it’s her turn to shut me up with a kiss.
“You didn’t know,” she softly said, her smile blooming. “And I wasn’t alone. I had Momma and my uncles to help out. And my brother James has been amazing. He’s changed just as many diapers as I have.”
I laughed, but I still feel so much guilt.
“Josh, don’t do this. None of this is your fault. I was the one who made the choice to lie about things. I could’ve told you anytime over the past two years. I just didn’t know how to tell you the truth. I didn’t want to hurt you more than I already had,” she said, pulling away, her head lowering. “Do you hate me?”
“I could never hate you,” I replied, smiling through my tears. “You gave me a daughter… I’m angry I missed her life, but I understand why you did it. Now, I’d like to get to know my little girl. Is that okay with you?”
She studied my for a moment before smiling bright.
“I think Summer would like that,” she responded, standing and reaching for my hand. “And so would I.”
The Radisson Plaza Hotel – The Hotel Restaurant
Okay God, what’s happening here? What’s going to happen to JT and I now? I didn’t go through all of this, just to be—be dumped. Why is this happening to me? Didn’t I show him that I’d do anything for us to be together? Haven’t I proven enough to him? With the way things are going right now, maybe I haven’t or he just doesn’t want to be with me anymore.
Maybe—maybe that’s the case with things now. Hell, he didn’t even sleep in the room with me last night. I woke up a few times during the night, hoping he would be there, but he wasn’t. He was nowhere to be fucking found. I guess that should be a big eye opener for me. I fucking jeopardized my career and my family, all for him.
“Good morning Justin, what’s up with you?” I heard Mo’ette’s voice as I looked up to see her standing at the table as she smiled and then sat down across from me as I took a sip of my coffee.
“Don’t ask,” I replied, placing the coffee cup back on the saucer as she watched me strangely.
“Okay Justin, what’s going on here now?” She asked.
“I haven’t seen him,” I replied as she just looked at me. “We’ve been in separate places since—since you guys got back yesterday afternoon. It’s like he’s doing his best to avoid me or something.”
“What do you mean by that?” She asked. “Where is he?”
“I don’t know where he is,” I replied, sighing. “He didn’t sleep in the room last night and I haven’t seen him at all today.”
“Lawd, we don’t need this drama,” she said with a frown on her face. “Where could he be? I hope him being missing right now, has nothing to do with Marc being around this place.”
“That jerk is still hanging around?” I asked, wishing I had called the police and had him arrested for being around, when he shouldn’t have been, violating a whole lot of restraining orders and such.
“Yeah, he was on the tour bus with us last night,” she replied, scratching at her head. “He was trying to spin some line about how he knew the details of what’s going on between JT and Heather.”
“He tried the same thing with me,” I said, thinking back to what Marc had said. “He was trying to use what he supposedly knew about them, to get into my damn pants.”
“Lawd, will wonders ever… Have you tried calling him, JT I mean?” She asked as I pulled my cell phone out, pressed the speed dial number for him and then turned the speaker on.
= Hi, you’ve reached me, but apparently I’m not available to take your call. Please leave your name, a number and a detailed message and I’ll get back with you when I can. Until later on, keep it real. =
“Apparently his calls are still going to his voicemail,” I said, frowning as I thought about what could possibly be wrong with him. Did Marc get to him and try to do something to him again? “We have to find him. I’m not liking this at all.”
“You’re not liking what Justin,” I heard JT’s voice behind me as I turned my head to see him.
“Baby, where have you been?” I asked, getting up as I leaned in and kissed his lips.
“I’ve been trying to clear my head,” he replied with a frown as he sat down next to Mo, away from me.
“Where did you do that, since you didn’t come back to the room?” I asked.
“I slept on the bus,” he replied, looking down. “Have either of you seen Marc?”
“Why in the hell would we be looking for his skanky ass?” Mo’ette asked, looking at JT like he was crazy.
“Because I want to know what he knows; I want to know why there’s possibly a child in this world, that looks like me,” he answered and then shook his head. “Apparently, he knows something that neither of us knows.”
“Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t,” I said with a frown. “I think he’s just trying to run a number on us, so he can get what he wants.”
“Which is,” he said, looking across the table at me.
“Sex,” I replied as he shook his head. “I’m not about to stoop to that level, to give that bastard what he wants and I hope you’re not planning on doing something like that.”
“Are you crazy?” He asked, shaking his head.
“Just making sure that you’re not,” I said as Mo’ette looked at me strangely and then shook her head also.
“Have either of you seen Nikki?” He asked as I shrugged my shoulders. “I haven’t seen her since we left the hospital.”
“The last time I saw her, she was in here, talking on the phone with somebody. I think the news reports about her being pregnant and Josh being the daddy is causing some drama for the two of them,” I said as he shook his head.
“Why in the hell is he here any damn way Justin?” He asked as I wondered when he wsa going to get back around to asking that question.
“I told him where you guys were and I told him that if he wanted to get back with Nikki, this would more than likely be a good time for him to try and here we are,” I stated as he shook his head an then rolled his eyes.
“Thanks a lot Justin,” he said, picking up the menu. “Oh, like we really needed him around.”
“Baby, he’s not around us,” I said as he raised an eye at me. “Well he isn’t.”
“And I’m glad he’s not. I would be tempted to kick my foot up in…” he said as Mo’ette cleared her throat, interrupting him.
“You know what, why don’t I leave you two here alone, so you can catch up,” she said, patting his hand as she got up from the table. “I have something else to do.”
“Have fun,” he said, looking over at me as she walked towards the exit. “So, what were you two talking about, before I actually got here?”
“You,” I replied as he looked over at me strangely.
“Why were you talking about me?” He asked.
“JT, what’s happening between us?” I asked, wondering if I should be asking the question or not.
“Nothing,” he replied as he looked down at the table. “Why are you asking that? Is that the question you really want to ask?”
“I want to know,” I replied, trying to keep his gaze. “We’re supposed to be…”
“In it for the long haul,” he said as he looked at me closely. “Are you?”
“The question is, are you?” I asked as he put the menu down and then got up from the table. “Where are you going?”
“You tell me,” he replied, sighing as he turned around. “I don’t think we’re going to work out.”
“What? Why not?” I asked, walking over to him.
“Just go back to your mother and your family Justin,” he said, turning back around and then walking towards the exit.
“What? I’m not going back to Mom or my family. I’m staying here with my man,” I said, grabbing his hand as he sighed. “Why in the hell are you doing this?”
“For your own good,” he replied with a frown.
“Doing this for my own good? Are you serious?” I asked, looking at him like he was crazy.
“Yeah, I’m being serious Justin,” he replied. “I saw how you looked after you and Lynda had it out. I’m not about to…”
“JT, baby please, we…” I said as he shook his head.
“We aren’t good together,” he said as he looked down. “We’ve had our problems in the past and…”
“That was the past baby, this is now,” I said with a sigh, wondering what I could say or do to make this right.
“I don’t want you being with me, full of regret and hate, because you chose me, over your family Justin,” he said, looking down again as he shook his head.
“I didn’t choose you over my family, I chose to have love in my life,” I stated as he sighed again. “I’m not going to fight you on this. I love you JT and if my mother can’t accept it, then that’s her problem, not ours. I’m not worried about her and neither should you, she’s a grown woman.”
“That’s your mother Justin and I now how close you two are,” he said with a frown. “She’d give the world for you and you her.”
“True, but she can’t give me what you can,” I said as he shook his head again.
“Stop being perverted Justin,” he said as I pulled him close and kissed his lips as he tried to push me away as I continued kissing his lips. He stopped resisting and then wrapped his arms around me as we heard people clamoring around us as a camera flash went off. “Oh great, this shit is really going to hit…”
“Who cares baby,” I said, moving back from him as more camera flashes went off as I waved at the person snapping pictures and then smiled. “We’re in this for the long haul, right?”
“Justin…” he said as I shook my head.
“I’m not worried here baby, are you?” I asked, leaning in and kissing his lips again. “I’m totally cool with us, are you? I had a long, grueling and dull conversation with Dad last night and he assured me that he’s going to do what he can to win Mom over, in regards to us being together. He said that when we get back to Jacksonville, he’ll love having dinner with us.”
“What?” He said as I smiled at him.
“Dad is perfectly okay with us being together. He’s actually relieved,” I said as JT looked at me strangely as someone else moved closer to us, taking our picture.
“Why is—is he relieved?” JT asked, looking at me strangely.
“He doesn’t want me living a lie, to make other people happy. He said he’s known I was gay since before I was on the show,” I said as JT shook his head. “He’s given his blessings for us.”
“His blessings aren’t the ones that count and you know it Justin,” he said with a sigh. “I don’t want to be on the receiving end of a bullet, fired from a gun by Lynda Hamilton.”
“Mom isn’t going to do no such of thing,” I said, chuckling as JT raised an eye at me as another camera flash went off.
“Yeah right,” he said with a frown as we walked out of the restaurant, holding hands, leaving the mini-paparazzi behind us.
To Be Continued…