Love Realized (The Real Love Series)
Author:Melanie Codina

chapter TWENTY-EIGHT

Gillian looked up at Jake and shrugged her one shoulder. She had no idea who could be there, but left the comfort of Jake’s embrace to see. As she came up beside her daughter, she smiled at her and took a moment to notice how they were close to the same height. Trying not to get distracted by her thoughts of how old her kids were getting, she turned her attention to whoever the visitor was. It took her moment to realize who was standing there, but when she did, she sucked in a sharp breath at the sight of Jody Spencer standing on her doorstep.

She quickly shifted so that she was positioned in front of her daughter and shoved her behind her with her one good arm. Once she felt her daughter was protected from whatever immediate danger there was, she lowered her voice and demanded, “What the hell are you doing here?”

The woman hadn’t spoken and looked a little worried. Flashing back to the last time this woman was this close to her, Gillian couldn’t help but notice how different things were. She almost felt bad for the woman last time, but this time the woman knew where she was and willingly came. If it hadn’t been for the fact that Gillian had a bullet hole in her shoulder from this woman’s husband, she might admire the woman. She certainly had balls to show up here, but she didn’t deserve Gillian’s respect, so she wasn’t going to get it.

~*~*~*~*~~*~*~*~*~

Jake heard Gillian’s sharp intake of air, and he was immediately up and moving. He didn’t know if she was in pain or if something else was wrong, but then he heard her say, “What the hell are you doing here?” This wasn’t good, he thought as he took up the position next to her. When his eyes landed on the petite blonde standing outside the door, he knew immediately who it was. He had no idea what this woman’s intentions were, but she needed to get the hell away from Gillian.

Before she could answer Gillian’s question, Jake stepped in front of Gillian and barked at the woman, “I think you better get out of here … now, or I’ll call the cops.” The woman flinched as if she’d been slapped. Jake didn’t mind that one little bit, though, ‘cause he wanted her gone. The possible stress she could put Gillian under wouldn’t be good for her or the pregnancy.

The woman had yet to move or say anything, so Jake pulled out his phone to dial when she spoke, “I just wanted to apologize … I know what Adam did, and I'm sorry.”

Jake wanted to pick the woman up and physically remove her from Gillian’s property. He didn’t care if she was sorry; she threatened to cause more damage now with just her presence. He began to dial when he heard Gillian speak from behind him, “Do you really think I want your apology? Do you really think it means anything to me?” Coming out from behind him, she tried to get in between him and her, but Jake wasn’t about to allow that. He needed to keep control of this situation before it became a real problem and her health was affected. He needed to keep her blood pressure down.

Fortunately, Gillian didn’t push the issue and let Jake hold her at his left side, leaving her right arm wrapped around him, and allowing full exposure of her restrained injured shoulder. When the woman still hadn’t responded, Gillian continued, “You, and any words you feel you need to say, mean shit to me! Your husband tried to kill me because of your actions! I can only believe that you came here in an attempt to make yourself feel better for what happened.” Gillian paused, then Jake saw her composed face turn to one of disgust with her next words. “You mean nothing to me, and I will not give you my forgiveness for what you’ve done to my family and me. I hope you live with those regrets for a very long time. Now get the hell off of my property.”

Gillian’s voice was cool, calm, and calculating as she delivered those words. The thought that this woman, whose husband shot Gillian, sought some form of absolution with an apology was mind boggling to him. Jake was proud of Gillian, because he thought for a moment that she would accept the apology and let the woman off the hook. He stuffed his phone in his pocket and reached for the door to close it because it really didn’t matter what the woman had to say.

Suddenly, Logan’s voice boomed from behind them. “What the fuck is going on? Get the hell away from my family!”

Jake prepared his body for Logan trying to move him out of the way when he heard Madison yell, “Daddy, No!” Jake turned to see that Madison had leapt in front of her father and wrapped herself around him, effectively stopping him from moving. It was quite similar to a move he remembered seeing Gillian do once before. Madison held on tightly to him as he looked down at her, a little shell shocked, and she said, “She isn’t worth it, Daddy. She was just leaving, and we don’t want Mom to get upset … please.”

The pleading tone in her voice must have been the man’s undoing as he wrapped his arms around his only daughter. “You’re right, sweetie. I'm sorry.” Then Jake got to see the emergence of his old friend when he looked to Jody outside the door and said, “I'm having a restraining order placed to protect every member of my family. If you or any part of your family comes within fifty yards, I will press charges. I’ll make sure to tell the District Attorney handling your husband’s case that you showed up here today.” Then Logan turned to Jake and said, “Could you please shut the door now, Jake.”

Smiling at his old friend, Jake did just that. Then he turned and gently pulled Gillian against him, asking, “How are you feeling? Do you think your blood pressure is okay? Maybe you should sit down and put your feet up.” It all came out quickly and far more high pitched than he thought it should have.

A huge smile spread across her face as she placed her hand on his cheek. “Why Jake, I do believe you look like you’re about to panic … maybe you’re the one who needs to take a seat.”

Her good demeanor calmed him instantly. His shoulders relaxed, and he lifted his hand to her hair to pull her into a kiss. He held her there, trying to absorb her into him, calming him completely. When he pulled back, she smiled again and said, “I feel fine, baby. Don’t worry.”

Pressing his forehead against hers, since he didn’t want to get too far from her, he whispered, “I love you, beautiful.”

“I love you, too, Jake.” The two of them were enjoying their moment when the front door opened, interrupting it, and Allie came strolling in. She took one look at them and said, “Ugh! Seriously, you two. Jake, can’t you leave her alone for one minute? And Gillian, shouldn’t you at least be pretending that you’re injured? You know … whine and say stuff like, ‘Ouch, my bullet hole hurts.’” She and Jake just laughed at Allie as she kept walking through the room with an arm full of food, followed by Jason, Sean, Morgan, and their kids. All adults had an arm full of something.

Gillian called out to her, “I would totally help you with all of that, but I have this bullet hole in my shoulder.” This made Jake laugh even more.

When Gillian turned and looked to Logan and Madison, she smiled at her daughter and said, “I wonder where you learned that move from?”

Madison gave her a smartass grin and said, “From this really cool mom I’ve got. She is so cool, she even has a bullet hole in her shoulder to prove it.”

Logan jumped in and said, “Could everyone please just stop saying bullet hole, it’s kind of morbid.”

Jake laughed when all the women in earshot—Gillian, Allie, Madison, and Morgan—all yelled at the same time, “Bullet hole.” He heard Logan groan as he dropped himself on the couch.

Following Gillian into the kitchen, Jake escorted her to a seat at the table so that she wouldn’t attempt to help. He watched the banter between her and Allie as she called out, “Gillian, could you get some dishes out for kids to set the table?”

Gillian responded, “Sorry, can’t help you with that. Bullet hole in my shoulder, remember?”

Logan yelled from the other room, “Oh, come on, I'm begging you, please stop saying that.”

This of course just egged Allie on, as she proceeded to pretend she was put out by Gillian not helping get things ready. “Hi, I'm Gillian, I’m lazy and can’t do anything because I have a bullet hole in my shoulder. Blah, blah, blah.”

Once again laughing, Jake just absorbed it all. Looking into the family room, he could see Jonathan playing video games with Dylan and Ryan, while Jason gave his input as to what they should be doing differently. Sean and Morgan’s two and four year olds were playing on the floor, while he sat with their infant in his arms, watching. Madison had made her way into the kitchen to help Allie and Morgan, and Logan took up a seat at the table across from where Gillian was sitting.

Taking it all in, Jake couldn’t help but smile as he leaned into Gillian and placed his hand on her good shoulder. She reached up and gave his hand a squeeze as she watched everything that was going on around them. It was traditionally a time to give thanks, and Jake didn’t think he could ever be thankful enough.

He was thankful that Gillian was okay. He was thankful that, for now, the pregnancy was okay. He was thankful that it appeared he and Logan could possibly move forward as friends. He was thankful that they could all be together. But he was most thankful for the fact that he was able to make Gillian realize that for him, it had always been her.