Curves in the Road (The Southern Devotion Series Book 2)

Curves in the Road

       
The Southern Devotion Series Book #2

 

 

 

 

Written by: Amy K McClung

             

Prologue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you build a road from one place to another, it won't always be a straight line.  Sometimes you have to add curves to move around the natural obstacles.  Life is like that as well.  Sometimes we have a straight path of what we want in life and we do everything we can to follow that path until suddenly a mountain appears and we have to veer off course to get around it. Even though we face those curves, it doesn't mean we won't end up on the same path we started.  Then again, sometimes we discover roads that we never knew existed and that will get us to where we want to be. 

No matter how many curves you face you inevitably end up where you were meant to be. It's the funny thing about fate, we try to control it but no one truly can.

Chapter One

**
Derrick's Reflections**

 

 

 

 

 

Some people never find the person they are meant to be with. Others find that person and know that they are the one but they can’t make it work no matter how hard they try. Then there are the lucky ones, like my brother Ashton, who finds the girl of his dreams and lives happily ever after.   I met the person I’m supposed to end up with thanks to Ashton and his wife Gracie, the problem is that we couldn’t make it work out.  I still remember the day we met...

 

It was a warm spring day in Nashville. I was outside behind our house playing with Katelyn, my daughter; she was four at the time.  I became a father at the young age of sixteen.  My high school girlfriend wasn’t ready to be a mom so I took on the responsibility on my own.  I didn’t want anyone else to raise
my
child.

 
Katelyn was playing on the swing set, begging me to push her higher, when my phone rang.  I pulled her to a stop and glanced at the unknown number.  “Hello?”

The voice on the line sent me into a panic.
  “Derrick, it’s Gracie.” 

As soon as I heard her name, I knew something was wrong with Ash.
  I had only met Gracie once and there’s no other reason she’d be calling me.  I stepped a few feet away from Katelyn, keeping her within eyesight, so she couldn’t hear my panic as I asked, “What’s wrong? What happened to Ash?” She couldn’t get the words out without crying.  He’d been in a motorcycle accident.  She gave the phone to her friend Cameron who filled me in that they didn’t know anything other than he is alive. I didn’t have anyone to watch Katie and didn’t want to take her to the hospital before I knew how badly Ash was hurt.  The last thing a four year old needed to see was her hero uncle attached to machines and broken. Ash has been Katelyn’s hero from the beginning.  Ashton is six years older than me and has always been the best older brother.  He’s very protective of me and of my little girl.

Gracie suggested a friend of hers that could watch Katelyn.
  Katie is usually very shy around strangers and I like to let her get to know someone first, today I couldn’t afford to say no when my brother was hurt.  Gracie set it up for me to meet her friend Mary Jane in the park down the street from the hospital.  She informed me that she drove a cherry red SUV so that I could spot her easily. 

Katelyn
whined the entire way there that she didn’t want to stay with a strange person. When Mary Jane showed up, everything changed in that moment.  She stepped out of her car and, though I didn’t realize it at the time, she stole my heart.

She walked up to me and shyly said, "Derrick?" I nodded, left speechless at her
gleaming smile. She turned to Katelyn and held out a plastic tiara decorated with green, pink, and blue plastic jewels.  "I found this and assumed that it must be yours. You look like a princess, though you aren't wearing a tiara. 
Are
you a princess?"

Katelyn grinned up at her, "It's not mine. I
want
to be a princess though."

Mary Jane looked around for a moment and shrugged, "Well no one else here looks like a Princess so I think this was meant for you."  MJ helped Katelyn put the tiara on and fixed her hair to flow around it.

"Bye dad, we can take it from here." Katelyn said, giving me a gentle nudge toward the car.  Mary Jane laughed, covering her mouth with embarrassment.

"Gee, you know
how to make a guy feel welcome.  Give me a hug and I'll get out of your hair." Katelyn jumped up into my arms for a quick squeeze, and then ran off to the swings.  Keeping my eyes on Katelyn, I said, "Thanks for doing this, Mary Jane."

"Call me MJ, all my friends do.  Tell Gracie I'm thinking about her and Ash and that I'll see her in a bit."  She reached out and touched my hand lightly as she asked, "Are you alright to drive?"  My eyes drifted down to her hand on mine. Her skin looked like porcelain and felt like silk. Her touch sent sparks across my skin, igniting feelings I wasn't used to
having from meeting someone for the first time.  Without thinking, I took her hand in mine and stroked her skin rhythmically. Coming out of my trance, I glanced up at her and her cheeks were flushed.

"I'm
sorry; I don’t know what I'm doing." I dropped her hand, and then ran mine through my hair nervously. "I'll be fine to drive." Taking a glance at my watch, I commented, "I better get going. I'll call you and give you an update, if that's alright?"

"Absolutely." I turned to leave and she called after me, "Um, Derrick?"  I turned and
took a couple of steps closer to her. "It might help to have my number, if you're going to call me."

Face palm
.
Nice move Scarecrow, one day you'll get that brain
. "Sorry, my mind is not all there right now." I set up a contact for her in my phone and handed it to her to enter the number. Mary Jane entered the number then pointed toward Katelyn as she waved me goodbye and headed over there.

 

That was all it took, that short conversation, to make MJ a permanent resident in my mind.  Gracie offered to hook us up once Ashton was better but the truth was I didn’t want to wait. Once I found out my brother was safe, I took matters into my own hands and decided I'd ask Mary Jane out.  Normally when I date someone I don’t introduce them to Katelyn unless we get serious. It's not fair to introduce people into her life if they aren’t going to be permanent, that’s too hard on a child.  To this day, she hasn’t met any of my girlfriends because there hasn’t been one that made it past a few dates. This would be different, I had to take things slowly with MJ and make sure Katelyn didn’t get hurt in the process.

Our first date wa
s interesting, if you can call it a first date.  We let Katelyn choose the place since she'd be with us and ended up at Chuck E Cheese; a pizza place with play area for kids. The other entertainment consists of large, rather creepy, robotic animals that perform while you eat. When the music started up, Katelyn went to play with the other kids in the ball pit, leaving MJ and me at the table alone.

"Is it just me or are those things creepy?" Mary Jane asked with a sheepish look of embarrassment on her face.

"Totally creepy. How can a giant rat
not
be creepy?" When our waiter brought the pizza to our table, I motioned for her to go first. She picked up a steaming slice, strings of cheese trailing from the pan to the slice she chose, and brought it to her mouth.  Her lips parted to blow lightly on the piece to cool it before wrapping her lips around it and savoring the taste. She closed her eyes and gave a slight moan demonstrating the pleasure the food elicited from her. Unconsciously I licked my lips and shifted slightly in my chair at the feelings she stirred inside me. I tried to shrug it off; this was not the place to have lustful thoughts. She opened her eyes and blushed when she noticed me staring. "Sorry. It's good."

"I can see that," I said with a smile. "
Watching you eat it makes me want it even more."  She blushed again. That pink filling in her cheeks was adorable. She was very shy and awkward which made her even more attractive to me. She exuded confidence without arrogance which was sexy as hell. "So you're in college with Gracie?" She nodded so I continued, "What are you studying?"

"Engineering. I'm actually hoping to get a job in the Imagineering program with Disney. That’s my dream at least
; to be able to learn some of the inner workings of a theme park so hugely creative and advanced.  What about you? What do you do for a living?" When she wrapped her lips around the straw to take a drink of her soda, I wanted to be that straw.

Swallowing the thoughts in my head, I responded to her question.
"Security. Ashton does the club promoting and I find security guards or bouncers as some call them. I'm a supervisor for a company that works most of the biggest clubs in town."

"Sounds pretty exciting."

"It can be. Mostly my job is paperwork and firing guys who aren’t doing their job so it can be a little boring for the most part. It's what I'm good at though. Ashton and I have talked about running our own club one day. I've been saving up for that in case it happens. Now that he's met Gracie though, that may not be in the cards for us. Gracie seems like an amazing girl though, I'm happy for them."

"She is;
we've been best friends since we were kids. If you could see her with Ashton, you'd know they're perfect together. It's really sweet and inspiring." She veers off that topic to one I wasn't expecting. "Can I ask what happened to Katelyn's mom?" MJ cleared her throat and quickly says, "Forget I asked, that was rude."

"No, it
's fine. We were kids, only sixteen when she found out she was pregnant. We were both scared at what it meant for our futures. She decided she didn’t want a baby and I decided I didn’t want anyone else raising my child. Ashton thought I was nuts when I said I wanted full custody. He was the first one to tell me how wrong he was about that though. Katelyn's never met her mom and never will if I have anything to say about it. The last time I saw her was the day at the hospital when she signed over custody to me the day Katelyn was born. She's never even called to check on her or asked for pictures."

"It's her loss. She's missing out on a fantastic little girl," Mary Jane said,
smiling was at me. "It also shows a lot of character for you as a teenage boy to take on that responsibility."

"I used to think I was an idiot for not being safe with my girlfriend and getting us both into that situation. On
Katie's first birthday I thought back to everything over that first year and realized that it wasn't a
situation
I got us into, she was the best thing that ever happened to me."  I paused a moment thinking I'd become too serious for the conversation. "Sorry, didn’t mean to get so deep."

"It's
ok; I don’t mind you being deep."  Her cheeks instantly warmed with embarrassment at the sexual undertone of the statement was realized by both of us.

We were saved from the moment as Katelyn came running up to the table. "I'm starving, daddy!" 

Lifting her up on my lap, I hugged her and said, "Well let's get some pizza in you before it gets cold." She turned to face forward and stayed on my lap as she lunged ahead to grab a slice of pizza off the tray. Each time Katelyn took a bite of pizza she offered the slice to me for the next bite. Together we finished three slices before I paid the check and we left.

When I dropped
Mary Jane off that day, I walked her to the door and asked her out for a second date. Katelyn was with us the entire time for this one so I didn’t get to kiss her. It's all I thought about for the next few days until I saw her again.

On our second date, I picked her up at Gracie and Ashton's place so I could drop off Katelyn for them to watch. Ashton invited us in the door and grabbed Katelyn up into a bear hug. "Hey boo! We're going to have fun tonight, aren’t we?"  She giggled and cheered.  As they sat down to talk, I began to fidget nervously waiting on MJ. "She'll be out soon man. They're in my
bedroom; Gracie's helping her get ready. Sit down and chill."

When I heard the door open, I stood up smiling excitedly and my face fell when I saw that Gracie came out alone.
"Wow, way to make a girl feel good," Gracie said with sarcasm.

I chuckled, "Sorry, nothing personal, Gracie.  Is something wrong with MJ?" 

"She needed a minute, that's all."  Then she followed my gaze to see MJ stepping out of the bedroom.  She looked beautiful and incredibly sexy at the same time. She wore a black knee length dress. Her hair was up in a loose bun on top of her head with soft pieces of hair framing her face. If I didn’t have an audience I'd walk over this second and capture her lips with mine.

Stepping forward with a single flower, a pink carnation, I said,
"You look amazing.  I picked this one because you said your favorite color is pink and roses seem cliché."  

Her face illuminated with a happy glow. "I love it. I can't believe you remembered my favorite color." 

"Pink isn't exactly a stretch for favorite color when it comes to women," Ash said teasingly.  Gracie nudged him with her elbow. With subtle discretion, I scratched my head with my middle finger sticking up towards Ashton. 

Ash snickered. "Mature, man." 

I knelt down next to my daughter. "Katelyn, can I have a hug, baby girl?"

Katelyn ran to hug
my neck and gave me a kiss on the cheek.  She went to MJ next for a hug.  MJ bent to meet her embrace as Katelyn whispered, "You look pretty." 

MJ whispered back, "Thanks sweetie." 
When I held my hand out to MJ, she gladly took it and glanced back one last time to exchange a look with Gracie.

We went
to a restaurant and at times we'd have so much to talk about and other times she'd be really quiet. Then I called to check on Katelyn and Gracie told me that MJ is very shy when she first gets to know someone. I decided to change that; selfishly I wanted this woman to open up to me in every way possible. MJ came back to the table as I was hanging up the phone. "I paid the check. Are you up for what I have planned next or do you want to go home?"

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