As I sat beside the twelve foot Christmas tree twinkling with light, I couldn’t help feeling so incredibly blessed. While some people dreaded the holidays because of a potential shit-show with their families, I was so very lucky to love and get along with mine so well. Shifting on the couch, I desperately wanted to undo the straining button on my jeans. No one made the traditional trappings of a Southern Christmas dinner quite like my Mom and Nana. I’d filled not one, but two plates to the brim along with putting a dent in the dessert table. Of course, every year I lamented not wearing stretchy leggings or sweat pants.
With a smile, I watched my husband, Rhys, playing with my nieces and nephews in the floor of my parents’ living room. As he romped among the mountain of crumpled wrapping paper and toy boxes, I wished his fans could see him now. They certainly never saw this side of him when he was on stage. His dark eyes were far too serious, and his handsome face was always in the zone as he strummed along the bass melody for the hit band, Runaway Train. Although he always wowed me with his musical talent, this was the side of him I fell in love with. The side that showed such love and compassion in spite of the cold and unfeeling upbringing he had experienced in Savannah society.
He’d come so far from the lost man I’d first met when I was just a lovesick teenage girl. For years, I’d harbored an eternal flame for Rhys McGowan. It burned so brightly that none of the boys I knew ever could compete. Patiently I’d bided my time, waiting for him to see me as more than his bandmate and best friend’s little sister. When I was twenty and in college at SCAD in Savannah, a romance finally bloomed and culminated in us becoming physical after a night of tequila and skinny dipping at his parents’ pool-house.
Unfortunately, we didn’t ride off into the sunset after that night. We’d still endured a difficult road. Just when I thought we’d cemented our relationship by sleeping together, Rhys pushed me away claiming I was too young, and he had taken advantage of me. He left me broken-hearted in Savannah. Months passed by without a word from him, so I started the painful process of healing my broken heart.
But then the lead singer of Runaway Train, who also happened to be my older brother Jake, asked me to come along on tour to be the nanny for his twins. Riding along in such close quarters reawakened the feelings we had once experienced. Even though we tried to just be friends, it just wasn’t possible. Once again, the physical and emotional need for each other overcame all the obstacles in the way. Of course, we tried hard to keep our new relationship a secret. But when you’re living life in a caravan of tour buses, it’s hard to keep secrets. When Jake found out, he initially blew his top, which resulted in a fist fight between him and Rhys. Thankfully, the two made up, and Jake gave us his blessing. The last four years had been amazing.
When Rhys’s laughter echoed the children’s, my heart once again overflowed. It made me excited for the day when I would see him interacting with his own child. While we’d dated the last four years, we’d just tied the knot this past summer. Originally, we’d planned to wait two or three years before trying for a child, but fate had other plans.
Reaching for my phone, I once again checked for any updates from Keira. I’d met the soon-to-be eighteen-year-old when I first started touring with Runaway Train as Jake and Abby’s nanny. Her father, Roland, had been a roadie with the band for several years. We had bonded over a shared love of fashion. She planned to follow in my footsteps and attend the Savannah College of Art and Design.
But then she’d found out she was pregnant. After the father abandoned her, Keira agonizingly realized she couldn’t possibly raise a child. That’s where our paths crossed yet again. My mind went back seven months ago to an arena in Des Moines when a tearful and desperate Keira had come to me.