As they headed to the house, Tad took this moment to ask Angie a question he wasn’t sure how she would react too. “Hey,” he whispered, once he saw that Pat was being Jeff’s personal tour guide, “Are you ready for tomorrow?” He asked. The following day they would be heading to Jackson’s office to see about signing the petition for her and Jesse’s divorce.
Sighing, Angie shook her head as she continued to stare out of the window. Never in a million years did she think she would be the one contemplating divorce. She never thought she and Jesse would even tip-toe along this. But just like she never thought of divorce, she also never thought that Jesse would go as far as to blame her for such a horrible thing. “Ready for which part exactly?” She asked with a smirk. “To divorce my husband or continue to fight for a relationship that continues to hurt me, that leaves me alone all the time.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just that! I’m in a relationship, but I constantly feel like I’m alone. You know?” She replied, glancing over. “I know he… Well I thought he loved me, but I always fel… No as a matter of fact I was always the one doing the work to keep us afloat,” she explained. “So am I ready to continue holding us all up and fighting by myself or am I ready to divorce the love my life and move on… I don’t know,” she sighed, looking back out the window and allowing her mind to wander. “I just don’t know… But what I do know is that I’m tired. I’m tired of the fighting. I’m tired of the games. I’m… so tired.”
“Remember Angie, you have to be strong. If Jesse tries anything you have to stand your ground and do what’s right for you,” Stevie told her the night before when the two decided to have a mini night out. Because Angie had been doing better than Stevie would have imagined and the two had become good friends over the course of their sessions, Stevie treated her to dinner and drinks.
“But what if?” Angie asked sometime after. “What if I see him and I lose my senses? I mean it has happened before, what if like before I can resist it?”
“Is having him back in your life the right thing for you?” Stevie asked. “I’m not saying don’t try, I’m just saying do what you know is right for you. Only act on your own feelings and not his. Angie, you need to think about what he’s done to you. You need to start standing up for yourself more, your heart most importantly. Is Jesse more important than your own wellbeing? Your own comfort?” She asked. “You have to ask yourself all of these questions and you have to know all of the answers before you can even say yes or no to anything regarding Jesse. Do you think he’s more important than your own wellbeing?” She asked curiously.
“He gives you comfort,” Stevie completed, already knowing what she was going to say. “But he also gives you pain,” she concluded, reading Angie’s mind like a book just by paying attention to her actions and the looks she was giving. “You know,” Stevie started again after some more time pass and food cleared from their plates. “I can’t help but feel Jesse is a lot like your father,” she said. “Have you ever felt like he was using your love for him against yourself? Jesse knows you love him, knows you will do anything for him, have you ever wondered if Jesse was using that against you? Betting you would love him more than any problem he has caused, any pain he has caused?”
“Jesse’s not like…” The rest of the sentence fell silent on Angie’s softly glossed lips as she started to think about what Stevie was saying to her. She hadn’t thought about it because she never thought of Jesse as someone like her father. But the more she thought about it, the more she relieved the past and the present she began to see exactly what Stevie was saying to her. Jesse hadn’t been completely like Les Baxter, but when it came to her and her feelings, they were alike… How did that happen, she asked herself then?
“How did that happen?” She asked herself now as she rode in Tad’s SUV letting her eyes flutter shut and her mind continue to wander.
“Angie!” Tad and Pat called when she hadn’t moved or opened her mouth to speak. “Angela Hubbard!” Pat yelped, clapping her hands making Angie flinch.
While she had flinched she quickly pulled herself together and looked into the eyes of her mother and best friend. “I’m awake,” she said.
“Yea, but are you still here on earth with us?” Pat asked just as Tad gestured to the house they’d arrived to just a couple of minutes ago. Angie had been so deep in thought she hadn’t even realized the car had come to a halt and was no longer running. Hadn’t even heard the doors open or close as the others exited the vehicle.
“Come on, let’s get you inside,” Tad suggested as he extended his hand and helped her out the SUV. Seconds later they were at the door and Tad was getting ready to stick the key in to unlock it when it swung open and two eager faces greeted him. “Hi there!”
“Ma!” Frankie and Cass yelped as they rushed out and hugged her, damn near knocking her down. It had been so long since they spoke with her and even longer since they last saw her and for so long they didn’t think she would ever come back.
“Whoa!” Angie laughed as she allowed them to envelope her in a deep and even suffocating hug. “Hey, my loves!” She giggled as they let her go and soon Frankie came back and picked her up off the ground. “Frankie!” She shrieked.
“I’ve missed you!” He said kissing her cheek as he gently eased her back onto her feet. “Are you okay? Are you hungry? Tired? What?”
Laughing, Angie shook her head. “I’m fine and I’ll be even better if you wouldn’t let your sisters suffer any longer,” she suggested as she looked over at Cass and even Nat who was standing off to the side, bidding their time.
“Sorry,” Frankie mumbled, moving to the side but not very far. He wasn’t letting this woman get no more than arm’s length away from him.
“Hey, my sweet girl!” Angie greeted as she and Cass embraced and she rocked her side to side. “I’m here… I’m right here,” she whispered when Cass buried her head into the nook of her neck and sniffled.
“Don’t leave like that again,” Cass whispered, holding tighter. “Please.”
Smoothing her hair and rocking her a little more, Angie kissed the side of her head. “I never meant to hurt or scare you like that,” she said, before fixing her eyes on her other loves, Frankie and Nat. “Either of you. I never meant to scare you at all. I just… I just didn’t know what to do.”
“Hey, all that matters now is that you’re here and you’re alright,” Natalia said as she eased over and hugged her step mother who treated her as if she was very own.
Sometime later after Angie greeted Dixie, kissed the babies and everybody was seated in the living room talking and laughing. “Frankie,” Angie started as she reached for the glass of water that Dixie brought to her. “I noticed Randi wasn’t here, is she working? Is she away doing a photo-shoot?” She asked curiously as baby Jenny eased onto her lap and made herself comfortable. The action choked Angie up a little bit, but it also warmed her heart. “Hey sweetie,” she whispered, kissing the little tyke’s chubby cheeks.
Staring in the distance for a while, Frankie sighed and looked over. “She’s with… with… With him,” he scoffed, referring to none other than Jesse Hubbard.
“Frankie,” Angie started all the while giving him a look that said ‘Mind your manners’. “That is still your father and you will treat him as such,” she scolded. “Just because we’re going through something right now does not give you the right to disrespect him. You hear me?”
Sighing once more, Frankie sat back in the chair. “It’s not just a simple thing you’re going through, it’s a divorce.”
“Frankie,” Tad interjected.
“And one that you should not be going through,” he continued on, completely ignoring Tad and even Jeff who had called his name.
“I know,” Angie mumbled, feeling her son’s frustration. “I know that.”
“Sometimes I wished he had stayed away! Sometimes I wished he had actually died instead of—
“Franklin Quentin Baxter- Hubbard, stop it this instant!” Angie fussed. She had understood where her son was coming from, knew he had a lot to get off his chest and hadn’t been able too, but he had crossed the line. “Kitchen, please,” she politely suggested, choosing to not have this argument with him in front of everybody, especially Tad and his family. “Now,” she gritted, kissing Jenny once more and soon after walking out. Once they were both in the kitchen, she turned to him and fixed him with a knowing look. “You know better, Frankie you do and don’t act like you don’t,” she warned. “There’s enough of this family’s dirty laundry and… and horrible family videos going around this town. Why do you insist on making it worse? Tad and Dixie opened up their home for us to be together again, not for us to argue. Not for this type of drama to take place in front of their children.”
“And you know what else, I know what this is! I know what’s happening this week, but I don’t need my only son to remind me of it. I don’t need my son to argue with me regarding it,” she continued to fuss. “I’ve been through enough already and while I was the one to file this, it was not a decision I came to lightly. I’ve loved that man all my life. 20 plus years, Jesse has been my world, even while he was away. And to hear you say you wish he had really died, that’s hurtful,” she added sadly as she shook her head. “Frankie as hurt as I know you are, those words should never ever cross your lips! Whether you like it or not, whether you’re happy with him or not, you will not disrespect him in that way. You will not speak ill about the man who if it was not for, you would not be here. You understand me?!”
“So it’s okay for him to disrespect you? Ma, how is that even alright?”
Having already seen the rage in Angie’s eyes long before she and Frankie walked out, Pat had stood guard near the door and waited. “Frankie,” she sighed, entering and walking over to him. “Franklin, that’s enough. No, it’s not okay for him to disrespect her or anybody else, but it’s just as disrespectful for you to say such things about him, regardless of the hell he put the family through.”
“Frankie,” Pat warned, shaking her head. “Stop,” she mouthed.
Finally catching the look of anger and sadness on his mother’s face, Frankie backed down and looked away. “I’m sorry, Ma. I didn’t mean… I didn’t mean it.”
“It’s okay,” she whispered as she straightened out her shirt. “I’m going to uh… I’m going to head upstairs and rest. I’m pretty tired from the flight.”
“Angie, baby,” Pat said.”
“No, I’m fine. I just need some rest.” And with that, she walked out of the kitchen and stood before Tad. “Uh… Tad, Dixie, thank you both again for everything. I don’t know how I can ever repay you, but as soon as I figure it out you will know,” she said, before turning to Cass and Nat and kissing them on the forehead. “I’ll check-in with you all later on.”
“Ma—“ Frankie called as he came out of the kitchen with his grandmother.
“Bye Frankie,” she said as she walked out of the room and headed upstairs to where she would be sleeping for the next couple of days while in Pine Valley.
“Really?” Cass sighed. “You just had to go and push it. She hasn’t even been here a full day and you… Wow Frankie,” she scolded.
“I didn’t mean it the way it came out,” he defended.
“You said you wished he was dead,” Cass reminded. “If that wasn’t straight to the point then Frankie I honestly don’t know what is,” she snapped. “Excuse me.” And with that she stood and went upstairs to be with her mother.
“She’s right son,” Jeffery agreed. “She’s already dealing with enough and having her own son argue with her, when right now she just needs your love and support is pushing it.”
Out of nowhere, Nat stood and began to grab her things. “Tell Angie I’ll call her later,” she said without looking back at her brother. She had remained quiet like everybody else during the heated exchanged, but had felt just as much of the sting as Angie had.
“Wait! Nat!” Frankie called, going after her only to have her slam the door in his face as she exited the house. “Damn,” he mumbled. “I didn’t meant it like that. I just… I didn’t mean it,” he sighed.
Slowly opening the door to Angie’s room, Cass poked her head in and spotted her laying on the bed. “Can I come in?” She asked softly.
“I don’t want to talk about it, Cassie,” Angie replied, never looking back.
“Me neither,” she replied back. “I just want to be here with you.”
After taking several deep breaths, Angie looked over her shoulder and nodded. Smiling softly, Cass closed the door and eased into the bed with her mother and curled up in her arms just like she used to when she was little.
“No matter what happens, ma, I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere,” she promised.
“Thank you… Thank you.”