Monday, June 29, 2020

Chapter 20

To Jeannette Wilson Thomas Williamson, the 214-miles from Nashville Tennessee to Lexington Kentucky seemed to be the longest miles she had ever taken in her life. Even trips overseas, with her son to perform for soldiers, did not seem as long as the 180 plus minutes it took just to travel over the state line. 
Andy Williamson continued to look over at his wife of nearly fifteen years, as she adjusted her seat’s position, unable to find a comfortable position, having suffered from early degenerative arthritis in her lower back. Looking in his rear-view mirror, he watched as his stepdaughter, thirty-two year-old Annie, monitored the Internet. She continued to look for news of her brother’s condition. What interested her more were more pictures of Katie Lynn Moore with her brother and the Tweets regarding the Florence Nightingale speculation, as well as the rumors already started. 
Jeannette dialed her son’s phone number again to no avail. Slamming her fists down, frustrated by the fact that she could not get through, she then dialed Shawn’s phone number. 
“Jeannie, are you dialing Nick’s phone, again?” 
“No, this time I’m calling Shawn. He must have arrived by now. I can’t believe he hasn’t called to let me know how he is.” Again, she slammed her fist down on the armrest of the door in their 2012 Cadillac Seville, bought as a Christmas gift from Nick for Jeannie and Andy. 
“I just got a text from Cathy,” Annie said from the back seat. Jeannie lowered her visor to look at her daughter in the back, avoiding twisting her painful neck and back. 
“Please tell me that she’s heard from Shawn? Why didn’t he text me?”
“Oh, phew. It says that Nick’s awake, no permanent damage, according to the CAT scan.”
“Thank God, see Jeannie, I told you that he was going to be fine,” Andy said, looking over at his wife, giving her a reassuring smile.
“Thank goodness. I’m going to have a word with that young man for worrying me so. I can’t believe he would text his wife and not me, first.”
“Mom, is there anything you cannot find to complain about? For goodness sake, Cathy said she just got the text, and Shawn told her to text me. Maybe he didn’t want to face the firing squad from you.” Annie replied to Cathy’s text. 
Annie: “Is Katie Lynn Moore still there?” 
Cathy: “Shawn says yes, and she looks awful. Her family is very worried. He and Nick are too.” 
Annie: “Why does she look awful? What are they worried about? Why is Nick worried?”
Cathy: “Anorexia, from all the publicity, Shawn says. She hates it, plus this feud with Nick.” 
Annie: “Why would this feud with Nick cause her to be anorexic? Is she really that thin skinned that some drunk artist can get to her that easy with all that she’s been through? And tell me, why would Nick be all that worried about Katie Lynn Moore if he can’t stand her? What do you know about the fight?” 
Cathy: “I’ve said too much already.”  
There was a pause in the communication. Annie’s brain went into overtime. Having read Katie’s book three times, knowing what she knew about Katie’s strength and faith from her testimony, it did not make sense to her that this author would be rattled that much by the ranting and ravings of a drunken artist. 
Annie and her brother had not been getting along very well the last six months or more. The stress of having a miscarriage, toppled with the fact that they were on opposite sides of the fence with this Katie Lynn Moore feud, and more recently, with the reconciliation of Annie and her father, sparked more contentious spats between the normally close brother and sister.
Before all of Nick’s partying and drinking, Annie and Nick had one common enemy, Kyle Williamson, their older stepbrother. Jennifer Williamson was tolerable, but thirty-two year-old Kyle was pure evil. He became even more angry and jealous of Annie and Nick when his father announced his plan to marry Jeannie Thomas. It had been only two years since his previous wife’s death to breast cancer. Kyle felt his father betrayed his mother’s memory, and the last thing he wanted was two step-siblings, who his father took a special liking to, ignoring him most of the time, during those early engagement days. 
“You know Andy; we ought to look into filing a lawsuit against that rogue cop for beating up my Nick. I heard reports that the cop was Katie Lynn Moore’s boyfriend. I’m sure that the little bitch set him up to beat up Nick. I wouldn’t even be surprised if she had planned this, knowing that Nick was coming to Lexington for the concert. I’ll bet he even used his badge to get near the buses so that he could take Nick down. I think I’ll name her in the lawsuit, also, if I don’t file criminal charges.” 
“Jeannie calm down right now. You do not know what happened. You cannot get all worked up over reports you read on Twitter, or misleading pictures on Instagram.” 
“I don’t know how you can misinterpret that rogue cop with my son pinned up against the brick wall, and then my son on the sidewalk with a bloody head wound.” 
“Mom, did you misinterpret the fact that Nick’s head was in Katie Lynn’s lap? Did you misinterpret the worried look on her face?” 
“Oh, that’s for the press. I can just see it now. She must have set him up to beat up Nick and then played the innocent author, trying to look like she really cared, even though she planned the whole thing. This is revenge I’m sure of it.  She’s such a phony; I can read right through her.” 
“Really, Mom, because you haven’t read a word she’s written. How can you read right through someone when she wrote a book divulging her deep personal wounds and story, yet, not having read one word, assume her to be a manipulative bitch? Did you ever stop to think that maybe your son may have been the real culprit here?” 
“Annie, I’m surprised at you. All this sticking up for that author, when she’s done nothing but degrade your brother. I understand reconciling with your father, and if he is sincere, then I’m glad for him, but to turn on your brother for a stranger, I find that deplorable.”
“Jeannie, maybe you should read the book, and then you’d have a better idea of the woman you are so quick to attack.” 
“Oh, and now you, Andy, are jumping on the Katie Lynn bandwagon? What did you do, go and read her book behind my back? Now you’re falling for her crap? It is probably mostly fictional. I mean, really losing a husband, stepdaughter, baby, isn’t that a stretch? I’ll bet she made a lot of that up to get attention and sell books.” 
“Mom, sometimes I wonder if you have ever had a heart, or did all those years of Dad beating you up, turn you into this cold bitter woman. Maybe Gran and Gramps brought home the wrong baby.” 
Looking in the rear-view mirror, Andy let his step-daughter that she went too far.  “Annie, that’s a terrible thing to say to your mother!” Annie dropped her head for a moment, realizing that she ran off with her mouth. 
“Mom, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said those things. I wish you would just open your eyes, and stop seeing your son as Mr. Perfect, especially in this manner, the way he’s been acting and all, lately.” 
“Young lady, don’t you think I can see my son ruining his life like his father? Don’t you think I’m worried about all of that, too? This feud with this author has made him drink more. The press seems to be taking her side and trying to fry him, when that author was the one who threw the first stone.”
“Mom, the author only said that she was disappointed in the man he was becoming, considering all the talent he had. She is right, and we’ve all said the same thing. Even Gran and Gramps are Katie Lynn fans, lately.”
“Yes, even my own parents have turned on him and me. Now, my husband’s gone to the dark side. That’s something I’d expect from Kyle, not you Andy.” 
“Hold on, don’t you be getting all over my son. It’s yours who is out there in his drunken stupors, sleeping around, more than Kyle lately. Nick is the one spouting off all kinds of malice and slander against a woman who’s been through hell. He’s been seen running around with the whack job, who started this whole mess with her smear campaign.”
“That girl has done a lot for Nicky’s career. She’s in love with him. She seems like a nice girl, and I wish you’d stop picking on her. All the time’s I’ve met her, she seems like a nice girl.” 
“Duh, she’s sucking up to Nick Thomas’s mother because she’s twisted and delusional. She thinks if she can get to the mother, or his family, that you’d talk him into marrying her. She’s messed up, don’t you know that? All the guys can’t stand her, especially Shawn. Gran can see right through her, why can’t you? You do know that Shawn and the guys think that she’s been sleeping with Tommy to get information on Nick’s whereabouts, and that is why she’s always showing up wherever he is. I wouldn’t be surprised if she isn’t planning to move to Nashville. She’s nearly stalker material, Mom. The guys are worried about him spending any time with her. Shawn says when Nick’s drunk, she hangs all over him, and he lets her, but when he’s fairly sober, he calls her for what she is, the whack job.” 
Just then, Annie received another text from Cathy.  
Cathy:  Nick started the fight. Shawn and the guys had left, headed back to Nashville, they quit the band. I’ll tell you more details later.” 
“Mom, Cathy says that Nick started the fight. She also says that Shawn and the guys left and quit the band. I can’t believe they would quit. I’m going to call Cathy.” 
Annie proceeded to dial Cathy’s phone number. “Hello, Cath’ this is Annie. Hey, I’m sorry to bother you, but I have to hear more. Why did Shawn and the guys quit, and how did they end up back at the hospital?” 
“Annie, all that I know is that Nick was very drunk, hanging around with the whack job. Nick and the guys went into the Cheapside, not knowing she was there. Jr. instigated the whole thing. Nick and Brooke were going to pick a fight with Katie Lynn at the restaurant. Shawn and the guys tried to talk him out of it, and Nick got mean, telling them to go to hell. He threatened to fire them, or something like that. Jerry, Mike, and Shawn gave him an ultimatum, and he chose to side with the whack job.”
“Wow, I can’t believe my brother would sink that low, to tell his best friend to go to hell and threaten to fire him. Doesn’t he know he is where he is because of Shawn?” 
“Not lately. Anyway, they quit and were headed back to Nashville, when I texted Shawn. He called Nick’s phone, and Katie answered it. She talked Shawn and the guys into turning around, telling them that Nick was badly injured, and she was afraid he could die. Thank goodness, it wasn’t as bad as she told them. She wanted him to have his friends there. She was there with him, alone. The important thing is that Nick is okay.” 
“So, Katie stayed with my brother, so he wouldn’t be alone and then talked Shawn and the guys into turning back for him?” 
“Yes. She really does care about your brother, even though your brother’s been a jerk to her, considering who she was to him, even if he didn’t know.” 
“What do you mean, not knowing who she was to him?” 
“Shoot, never mind. Please Annie, don’t say anything to your mother. Nick is worried that she’ll make trouble for Katie if she is still there when you get there. I’ve said too much, again.” 
Annie’s eyes popped open, and she gasped when the puzzle pieces started to fit together. 
“Okay, I’ll keep her cool. Gotta run.” Annie hung up and started texting Cathy, so her mother would not know what she just figured out.
Annie: “Teacher, Katie Lynn was a teacher, just like Nick’s teacher in the pink hat, who also lost a husband, stepdaughter, and baby. OMG!  How did I not figure that out? How did Nick not figure that out? I can’t believe it, Katie Lynn Moore is Nick’s Katherine Lynn Petersen. OMG. I feel so stupid."
Cathy: “You did not hear that from me. DO NOT let Shawn or Nick know that I spilled the beans. Please do not tell your mother.” 
Annie: “How long have you and Shawn known?”
Cathy: “We’ll talk later. How far away are you?” 
Annie: “We have about an hour left.” 
Cathy: “Don’t tell Nick or Shawn you know. I’ll get in trouble.”
Annie: “My lips are sealed, but I’m screaming on the inside. Wow, Nicky must feel like crap. He knows now, right?”
Cathy: “Yes, and Shawn says he’s very down, worst he’s ever seen. Shawn says he’s
Nicolas Paul, again. That brick wall knocked some sense into him. Pray 4 him and
Katie. Seems that brick wall saved both our Nicolas Paul and Katie’s life.” 
Annie: “What do you mean, and Katie?” 
Cathy: “Katie passed out, was admitted malnourished and dehydrated. Shawn says, Nick’s being an ass saved both their lives, but don’t say that you know anything. Let Nick tell you, if he does. He’s pretty wrecked right now, after finding out all this, and what he’s done. Go easy on him when you get there. 
Annie: “I will. So, how are you doing? Are you pregnant yet?” 
Cathy: “Nope, not that I know of, how about you?” 
Annie:    “ :-) I’ll keep your secret if you keep mine!  
Cathy: “Oh, Annie, that is so wonderful. I’m so happy for you. How far?’ 
Annie: “Only 8 wks, not out of the woods yet, not telling anyone. Pls don’t tell.”  
Cathy: “Praise God, I’m so happy for you. I’ll be praying, and keeping it quiet. Your brother is going to be so happy and your folks too.” 
Jeannie and Andy were bickering and did not hear Annie mention the words “not knowing who she was,” and she was glad of that. She had the biggest smile on her face, anticipating a reunion between her brother and the love of his life.  
“Andy, can’t this thing go any faster?” 
“Annie, what’s the rush. Your brother is going to be okay. They won’t be releasing him any time soon. I’d rather get there in one piece. Maybe you should have stayed back home with Robbie, and I wouldn’t have had to get Kyle out of bed to come over.” 
“Yes, that’s right; I’ll have to apologize to Kyle and whatever slut he was sleeping with at the time.” 
“ANNIE! I think that is about enough out of both of you, regarding my son.” Annie lifted her eyebrows when her mother looked at her in the reflection in the visor, with tightened lips, trying not to smile at her daughter’s most accurate description. 
“Annie,” she said with a cynical smile under her breath, pretending to reprimand her daughter.
“Sorry, Andy, maybe it wasn’t a slut, maybe he’s actually settling down to one or two girls, now.” 
“Annie, that’s enough,” Andy said frustrated. “I think that if you and your brother stopped picking on Kyle, maybe you would all get along better, but you two keep ganging up on him. He feels like he has to defend himself all the time.” 
Annie started coughing and over exaggerated her coughing noises. Her mother looked at her in the mirror and shook her head for Annie to stop. Jeannie was all too quick to change the subject back to her least favorite person and a chance to defame her some more. 
“If that author is there, she’s going to get a piece of my mind. I’m sick of her picking on my son. I almost hope that she is.” Jeannie’s phone beeped from a text. “Oh, I just got a text from Brooke. They won’t let her in to see Nick. She says that Nick sent a message for her to go home. She wants to know if she should wait for us. She wants us to get her in to see Nick.” 
“Mom, don’t even think about it. Let me tell you, if the whack job is there when I get there, she’ll get a little more than just a piece of my mind. She’ll get a lot of my fists, so you better tell her to go home and leave Nick alone.” 
“Annie, you aren’t a violent person. Violence never solved anything. You will not start a fight. Don’t you think that one child in a fight is enough for this day?” Andy asked. 
“Mom, you text the twisted whack job, and tell her to stay away from my brother, and we’ll be just fine. She’s to blame for all of this. She is the one who started this whole feud, and she’s the one that kept Nick drinking whenever she was around. I’ve seen her with as many as two beers in her hand at a time, ready to hand one to him. I imagine she figures keeping him drunk keeps her in closer with him. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s gotten him drunk enough to—.”
“Annie, don’t say that. Your brother is a good boy, and she’s a nice church girl. She wouldn’t do that. I’ve talked with her. She’s waiting until she gets married. She says she’s saving herself for Nick, hoping he’ll finally see her for the devoted person she is to him. He could do a lot worse you know.” 
“Good Lord, Mom, are you really that clueless, or have you been sucking in too much of that turpentine that you’ve been using on the furniture, lately? How can you not see through her? Seriously?”
“Annie, stop being so mean to your mother,” Andy said. The rest of the ride was silent and tense. 
Nick’s family finally arrived at the UK emergency room and had to wait for clearance to enter into the treatment area and Nick’s room. While his family waited for clearance to see Nicolas Paul, he laid nervously in his bed feeling like a caged animal with his body tight and tense. Tied to that gurney, he felt imprisoned with some plastic tubing and a threat from an angry trooper, holding him captive. He desperately wanted to be standing next to her gurney, as she was by his a couple of hours earlier. As he awaited a report from Shawn, he heard familiar voices coming closer. He recognized the banter between his sister and his mother and his stepfather trying to ease the tension between both of them. 
“Don’t start any trouble with him. Now, remember do not say anything about Katie Lynn Moore,” Andy said, having figured out who she was to Nick a long time ago.  
Shawn heard their voices in the treatment area and darted in close behind them, coming in the room right after them. He greeted them, hoping to avoid any confrontation. He also needed to update Nick on Katie’s condition. 
“Hey Jeannie, Annie. Hi Andy. Look at your boy here. He’s a mess, huh?” They turned and hugged Shawn. Jeannie noticed that her son seemed to be very anxious and tense, with a worried look on his face that she had not seen in him since those tenuous days, several years ago, when he tried to will the newest addition to his grandfather’s injured horses to live. She studied his face, while his sister, Annie shoved her mother out of the way to greet her younger brother. If there were ever a time Annie could harp on her brother for his bad-boy behavior, this would be one of those times, and he fully expected her to do so. This time she would not be wrong in doing so. Annie walked over to him.
“Little brother, you gave us one hell of a scare, you know.” His eyes opened wide, thankful for the pass from her, considering how they were getting along lately. 
“I’m sorry Annie. I’m really sorry. I screwed up big time. I know that.” Annie nodded while his mother Jeannie nudged Annie back out of the way to kiss her son.
“Honey, I’m so glad you are okay. I’m so relieved.” Nick looked at Shawn. 
“Any news?” Jeannie lifted her head to turn and look at Shawn, curious as to what her son was asking.  
“She’s malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from exhaustion. They are admitting her for a couple of days. Scotty’s relieved. I just called Matthew and Becca, they will be here tomorrow.” 
Jeannie and Andy looked on, wondering to whom they were talking about, while Annie walked out to the doorway, hoping to see something or someone, in particular Katie Lynn Moore, of whom she idolized.  
“Is she going to be okay, Shawn?” Nick asked. 
“I think this is the best thing that could have happened to her. You probably saved her life, by being an ass and getting your head thrown up against a brick wall, buddy.” 
“Do you two want to tell us what you are talking about? Who are Matthew and Becca?” Jeannie asked frustrated. 
“Katie Lynn Moore has been admitted. She’s suffering from Anorexia and exhaustion. Matthew and Becca are her former brother-in-law and his wife,” Shawn replied. 
“That’s her late-husband’s twin brother right?” Annie asked, as a near expert on Katie’s biography from reading her book several times. 
“Oh, for crying out loud, what is she trying to pull now. My son gets his head thrown up against a brick wall by her boyfriend, and she’s trying to steal the public’s sympathy to her dramatic plight? That’s a new low for her, now isn’t it, Nicolas Paul?” Jeannie asked with sarcasm and bitterness. “That little manipulative  witch will go to any lengths to make my son the bad guy here, won’t she?”
Nick’s lips tightened as he let out a loud sigh. He clenched his fists, wanting to jump to her defense. It then occurred to him, that he created this image in his mother’s head, with all his slander and lies that he not only believed from Brooke, but also admonished himself, in order to retain the only other support he had on his side of the fence. 
“Mom, she’s not faking it. I’ve seen her. She is dangerously thin. I didn’t help the matter by being a jerk all this time.” 
“What are you talking about, son?” Jeannie asked. “How is it that you caused this?” 
“Mom, I’ve been wrong all this time. I’ve been the jerk here. She is a nice person. I’ve been the ass. She was with me right after I hit my head, I don’t remember much, but her family said she kept trying to keep me awake. She stayed here with me all this time when there was no one else. I surely did not deserve any of her mercy, let alone her grace to do that. She had been waiting until Shawn arrived and then stayed even longer to make sure that I was going to be okay. I was the one who picked the fight with her, unprovoked. Now, she is the one who is in real trouble now.” 
They all noticed the sincere concern on his face, but Annie noticed the panicky fear in his voice and his wrinkled forehead. 
“My goodness, she’s gotten to you too,” Jeannie said. “That woman is a manipulative whiner. You know it. She’s said all those awful things about you. You know all those things Brooke told you she heard. Honestly, how can you just turn like that and fall all over her like everyone else. What is it with her that she can cast this spell on everyone?” 
“Jeannie, it’s very serious. She could die from this,” Shawn said. Nick’s heart skipped a beat with the fright and dreadful thought of her dying, especially after just finding her. 
“Mom, she doesn’t cast spells. She is a genuinely nice person. If you’d stop listening to the whack job and read her book, you would find out what kind of loving person she really is,” Annie said, coming to her defense for the umpteenth time, as she eyed her brother, waiting for his confirmation. He nodded in concession with his sister. 
“Annie, stop calling Brooke by that name,” Jeannie said, coming to Brooke’s defense. She then turned to her son. “Honey, Brooke is out in the waiting room. She’s worried half-to-death. She said that you wouldn’t let her in to see you. I told her that I’d talk to you about letting her come in for just a few moments. She needs to know that you are going to be okay and see that with her own eyes. She’s a nice girl, Nicolas Paul, and she loves you very much. No one will give her an update on your condition. I told her that you were okay. Why don’t you let her in for just a short visit?” 
Annie snorted out a laugh. “Oh, my gosh, Mom, really?”
“Shit, she’s still here? No, Mom she’s not coming in here. She’ll make a scene; she does that whenever I’m around. Shawn, please go tell her to go home. Just be nice, and ask her to go home. We’ll deal with this all later,” Nick said giving Shawn the eye of guilt. 
“Okay, I’ll get rid of her, but—,” 
“I know, we’ll talk, I got that message, already.”
“Oh let me do it, I’ll take care of her,” Annie said. Shawn stepped in front of Annie and held her back. 
“I got this, Annie. One fist fight in your family is enough,” Shawn said, shaking his head while he eyed at Nick with the reprimanding stare. Annie turned back toward Nick, and he shook his head at Annie, letting her know that he did not want any more trouble. 
“What does he mean by we’ll talk about this later?” She asked her brother. 
“Never mind,” he answered. 
“Honey, we are going to stay with you tonight. Then we’ll see what happens tomorrow. Hopefully, they’ll release you, and you can come home with me for a few days. I understand you are off the road for a while, and that’s good. You’ve been running too much. The rest will do you good.” 
“Mom, I want to go to Gran and Gramps. I need to get away.” 
“Honey, I want to take care of you. I’m your mother.” 
“I know that, Mom. I love you, but I need to talk with Gramps about some things. I need some of Gramps’s wisdom.” 
“And what about Andy? He’s been a fine father to you since you were fifteen.” Andy dropped his head, feeling slightly rejected. 
“Yes, he has, and Andy, I appreciate that, but my Gramps and I connect on a certain level. He understands me. I hope you’ll understand, Andy.”
“Of course I do, son, I’m not offended.” Andy nodded, knowing how close the two have been all of Nick’s life. He also knew that Nick always felt better about things on the ranch with his Gran and Gramps. 
Annie who had moved to the foot of the bed, held on to the end and gave her two cents worth, knowing how hovering their mother was at times. 
“Mom, Nick’s right. Those two are so much alike. I think it would be a good idea. Besides, he needs the fresh country air and some of Gran’s soups to make him feel better.” Nick nodded in appreciation of his sister’s support. 
“Okay, we’ll take you to Gran’s. I’ll call her tomorrow. She’s been so worried about you. We all have. Nick you have let your life get out of control. You are on the same path as your father, and I’m worried.” 
“Mom, I know that. I’m sorry I’ve done this to you and the family. I’m sorry if I’ve embarrassed you. I’m going to make it right.”  
Annie’s head went back and her eyebrows went north. “Woe, little brother, I guess that brick wall knocked some sense into you?” Nick nodded. 
“Among other things,” he said, and he closed his eyes. 
“What other things?” Jeannie asked.
“Maybe a certain author?” Nick widened his eyes, and he gave his sister his full attention, fearing she knew.
“What do you mean by that, Annie?” Nick asked, trying to ascertain if she knew, also. 
“Well, she has a way with people I mean she sat there and held your bloodied head until the ambulance came, and then there are pictures of her in the ambulance with you.” Annie said, covering. She gave Nick the eye of knowledge, and he pursed his lips. Even his sister knew. 
“Well, I don’t know why she’d do that, after all the things she said and did to you. She’s probably just trying to make herself look good with all those cameras flashing. She’s to blame for all this. Wasn’t it her boyfriend who attacked you? I think we should consider filing charges of assault. That’ll teach him.” 
“Mom, I told you, she didn’t start it, I did. I got drunk and picked a fight with them. I picked a fight with a state trooper, and I hit him three times. That’s a felony. He filed charges, and then Katie not only offered to get me a lawyer and pay for it, but better than that, she got him to drop them.” 
“Now, why would she do that? Is she trying to get on your good side for some reason? Is she playing the martyr, now?” Jeannie asked. 
“No, Mom, she had no reason to do what she did, except that she’s a woman full of grace, and I’ve been the loud mouthed arrogant jerk.” 
“I told you that she was wonderful. You kept accusing me of betraying my brother, but look what she did for your son. You really should read her book, Mom.” Nick did his best to contain his emotions regarding his love for Katie. He did not want to reveal her true identity, yet. 
“Well, I kept calling your phone, Shawn said that she had it, but she wouldn’t answer it and tell me how you were. Why didn’t she answer it? Instead, she let me worry and worry, until finally Shawn called. That was rude.” 
“Mom, she doesn’t know you. She didn’t have any information on my condition. She asked Shawn to call you; she knew you’d be worried. Really, would you have been nice to her?” 
“That’s true, she did ask me to call you,” Shawn said confirming Nick as he walked back into the room. “She’s gone, finally,” he said referring to Brooke.  
“Yes, I would have, if she had answered the phone, and I knew she was tending to you.” 
“Mom, you saw the pictures, and I don’t recall you being very gracious about it. You came in here and put all the blame on her, threatening to file charges,” Annie said. “For crying out loud, Mom, you’re nicer to the whack job, then you are toward Katie Lynn Moore, who is innocent of all of this and the saint.” 
In her disgust, Jeannie jumped to Brooke’s defense. “Brooke McIntosh does a lot for your brother and loves him very much, as opposed to that whining little brat of an author who hates him. Nick, Brooke’s a nice Christian girl. She comes from a nice family. I’ve talked to her mother many times.” 
Nick shook his head at his mother’s confusion. Annie eyed Nick, giving him the impression that she knew and wanted him to confess, putting an end to the feud and educating their mother.    

      “Mom, sometimes, I wonder if you’re more delusional than she is,” Annie said. “I mean, do you read her Facebook page. She’s all but come right out and said that Nick and she are sleeping together. My little brother may have gone a little crazy, but sleeping with Brooke would qualify him for a seventy-two hour hold, and I’d commit him myself. Brother, that would be the oldest trick in the book, trying to get knocked up with Nick Thomas’s baby.” 
Shawn darted a look at Nick, shaking his head.

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