Part I: Pennsylvania
Chris pulled into the driveway and pressed the button to open the garage door. Once it was all the way up, he slowly pulled into the garage next to Janie's mini-van. He turned the SUV off and opened the door being careful not to hit the van.
He walked into his new home, listening for anything that sounded like Janie or one of the boys. Hearing water running in the kitchen, Chris headed in that direction. He sat his laptop on the kitchen table and then walked up behind Janie.
"How was your day?" Janie asked him when he wrapped his arms around her.
"Super busy. I just want to sit down and put my feet up." Chris kissed her temple.
"After you take the trash and we eat dinner." She grinned and turned around in his arms. Chris groaned putting his hands on her growing stomach.
"How are you feeling?" He asked curiously.
"Just fine." Janie smiled.
"And the boys?"
"I guess they are fine. But you would have to ask them." Janie pulled away from his grasp. She walked over to the stove to check on the beef that was frying. "I had to pick James up early again for fighting. Mr. Patterson said next time he'll be suspended."
"He's gonna give me gray hair." Chris sighed.
"News flash, you already do," Janie looked at him with a smirk. "Now if you don't mind." She waved towards the trashcan. Chris reluctantly pulled the plastic bag out of the container and tied it. He walked back out to the garage and opened the door to put the bag in the trashcan outside. Walking back into the house, Chris heard Janie in the living room scolding Andrew about something.
"What's going on in here?" Chris asked coming into the living room. Janie handed Randall over to him when the little boy reached for him.
"Daddy." The little boy grinned wrapping his arms around Chris' neck.
"Andrew had Randall in a headlock." Janie sighed and rested her hand on her stomach.
"Andrew you have to be careful." Chris said looking down at the six-year old.
"Sorry." He shrugged.
"That's all right." Chris smiled, "Where's James?"
"He is in his room. I told him no video games for a week, and he put up a fuss," Janie stated. "I don't know what's going on with him lately Chris. You really should talk to him." She walked back into the kitchen mumbling to herself to finish getting dinner ready.
Chris sighed and sat down on the couch with Randall on his lap. "So what are we watching?" He asked Andrew.
"Bear In the Big Blue House." The little boy answered picking up one of the action figures and playing with it.
"Cool." Chris nodded. "Did you guys have a good day?"
"Yeah, got new shoes." Andrew answered and lifted up his foot to show Chris.
"How cool are they?" Chris asked examining the black and gold shoes with the Pittsburgh Steelers logo on them.
"Very." Andrew nodded and looked back down at his action figure.
"It's been eight years to the day." Chris said. He sat down next to Janie on the couch. It was late in the evening and the boys had been finally put down for the night. Which left them time to themselves.
"It has been." Janie nodded and kept her attention on the television program she was watching.
"I haven't seen any of them since." He said. Chris found the remote for the television and turned the TV off. He wanted her full attention.
"And?" Janie asked annoyance clearly on her face.
"Janie " He whined, "Listen to me please."
"Chris " She mocked his tone, "Do you even remember that day?"
"Of course I do. JC was the only one who was being an ass." He mumbled. "I'm not getting any younger, neither are they, and I would like to see them. I miss seeing them on a daily basis."
"And what do you suggest happen? And whatever it may be would the guys be up for it?" Janie asked him curiously. She turned her attention to him and not on the black screen in front of her.
"A reunion and I think with the right persuasion they would go for it." He looked up at her longingly.
"Chris I don't know." She paused and looked at his face, "No Chris."
"Please." He begged, "They all thought the best of you. You were our best PR director. They'll listen to you. Please." Chris pouted. Janie giggled.
"You must be the oldest two-year old." She sighed and rolled her eyes. "When do you want them here? I'll start searching for numbers tomorrow."
"How about June? I'll get off." He said, "Thank you Janie." He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
"You can thank me if they come." She raised her eyebrows and smiled at the grin that was across his face.
"They will. I promise you." Chris said. He turned the TV on. The two of them watched the program in silence before heading off to bed.
"Hello?" Chris asked his voice echoing through the empty house.
"I'm in the office!" Janie yelled. Chris headed in that direction. He smiled seeing her sitting at the desk with several sheets of paper sitting before her. "What are you doing home?"
"Here for lunch." He answered and leaned over her. Janie looked up at Chris and let him kiss her. "So how is it going?"
"It's going good. You will never guess who I just got off the phone with." She grinned.
"Who's that?" He asked and couldn't resist giving her another kiss.
"You give up already?" Janie asked playfully and waited for the pout to come across his face. "Mr. Timberlake himself. He said he would make sure his schedule is clear the last week of June. So you better too. We talked for awhile, but he had to get off because he had to feed his daughter."
"So the kid has a kid?" Chris asked and sat down on the edge of the desk so that he was in front of her.
Janie nodded, "Yes she is three her name is Natalie Jean. Apparently Britney is pregnant with a boy." She rambled. Janie looked at the clock and stood up, "So do you want to grab something to eat. I have to pick up Randall from the preschool and I was planning on stopping at McDonald's for lunch."
"That sounds good." He said, "I get to drive though."
"Well that means you are paying." Janie grinned and picked up her purse.
"Don't I always?" Chris asked and followed her out the door.
"Chris, Braden Jefferys and Scott Rasmussen are here for your meeting." Stacie, his receptionist said over the speakerphone.
"Thanks go ahead and send them in." Chris said and sat down at the conference table. His business partners sat on either side of him. Chris smiled at the men who walked into the room. He stood up and shook their hands. "Nice to meet you Braden. Scott."
"Nice to meet you too Mr. Kirkpatrick." Braden said shyly.
"Chris please." Chris said. He introduced the other three persons in the room before sitting back down. "So you have come to discuss your contract with the company and what is to happen in the near future."
"Yes sir." Mr. Rasmussen, Braden's manager, said.
"Was there anything in the contract that you want us to change? We will work with you in getting you the best there can be." Chris started.
"We had our lawyers look at it and it all looked fine." Mr. Rasmussen said.
"I have a question about the albums," Braden started, "You didn't have a certain length of time in which the first one has to be done. Why is that?"
"We want it to be your best work. You can take however long you need to get it out. I won't press the creative process." Chris smiled.
"We are going to set you up with the best PR in the business, Janie." Chris said, "She isn't here though because I am making her take time off. However, I can have her come in and meet with you as soon as possible." He flipped through a few of the papers in front of him.
"Go home Stacie." Chris said walking out of his office. The receptionist jumped. "Sorry." He smiled.
"I though you had already gone home." She said not looking up at him.
"Got caught up in what I was doing." Chris explained, "What are you still doing here?"
"Paperwork." Stacie stated waving her hands over her desk.
"Well clean it up. I'm going to walk you to your car since it is so late." Chris said.
"I'll be fine." She sighed.
"And I insist. Janie would kill me and I am sure your husband would appreciate it." Chris said. He took the liberty and leaned over to save her work on the computer and shut it down. "Get your stuff together."
"Okay." Stacie sighed and gave in. She started putting her things together. "How is Janie? I haven't seen her around in awhile."
"She's doing good. Since I'm making her stay home." Chris smiled. "And it drives her nuts since she isn't far enough into the pregnancy that she absolutely has to stay home." Stacie laughed and stood up with her bag. "You ready?"
"Yeah." Stacie nodded. They walked out of the office and Chris walked with her out to her car. "Thanks." She said as she unlocked the door and then opened the back door to put her stuff down.
"You drive safely and no more late nights at work. That's for me." He said as she climbed into the car. "See you tomorrow morning."
"No you won't Janie has a doctor's appointment at 10:00 which you are supposed to be at." Stacie reminded him.
"Well then I will see you after that." Chris laughed. "Thanks for reminding me. What would I do without you?" She shook her head and sighed. He waved as she closed the door and then walked out to where he had parked.
"I am sorry I'm home so late." Chris said as he walked into the master bedroom. Janie was already sitting up in bed reading for the night. He walked over to her side of the bed and kissed her forehead. "You know how it gets when we start signing new artists."
"I know." Janie smiled as he sat down on the end of the bed and pulled his shoes off. "There is a plate of dinner for you in the fridge. Do you want me to heat it up for you?" She started to lift the sheet off of her body.
"Don't worry about it. I'm not all that hungry." He unbuttoned the dress shirt that he was wearing and tossed it on top of his dresser. "I have a new artist that I want you to do PR for. I told him I would have you come in soon for a meeting."
"That's great. It'll get me a chance to go back to work." She said, "You know I hate it when you make me stay home like this."
"I don't make you. You know you enjoy it." Chris smiled and walked into the bathroom to brush his teeth. "I am planning on going to the doctor's appointment with you tomorrow. I didn't forget."
"Yeah you did." Janie grinned, "I know Stacie had to remind you. She always does." Chris laughed. "We'll be able to find out the sex of the baby tomorrow. Do you want to do that or actually be surprised this time around?"
"I don't have to be surprised; I already know it's a boy." Chris said and stuck the toothbrush in his mouth. Janie smiled and shook her head. She looked back down at the book that was lying open in her lap.
"Why do you always do this to me Chris? I am so outnumbered here." She whined playfully.
Chris took the toothbrush out of his mouth, "Next time baby I promise."
"What makes you think there is going to be a next time?" Janie asked and watched him as he leaned over and spit. Chris rinsed his mouth out with water. After wiping his mouth he came back into the bedroom and unbuckled his belt.
"Because I know how you are." He smirked and placed one knee on the bed so that he could lean over and kiss her. "As soon as someone around you is pregnant, it's 'Chris I want to-'" Janie cut him off.
"Shut up." She laughed and pushed his face away from hers. "You just can't keep your pants on."
"Well that isn't entirely my fault." He got off the bed and stood up so that he could take his pants off.
"See there you go." She smiled and set her book down. Janie scooted down, farther under the covers.
"I love you, Janie." Chris said as he got into bed.
"Are you sure you aren't hungry?" She asked him.
"Good night, Janie." He said and reached over her to turn the lamp off. Chris kissed her cheek before settling down under the covers.
"Hey Chris?" Janie asked and rolled over so that she was facing him.
"Yeah?" He asked.
"For what?" He asked and moved closer to her.
"For my boys." Janie said. Chris put his hand on her cheek and moved in to kiss her lips. "They are worth it." She smiled against his lips and kissed him again.
"Chris, Janie's on the line for you." Stacie's voice rang over the speaker. Chris reached over and picked up the phone, hitting the 'line one' button.
"What's up?" He asked leaning back into his desk chair. Chris tapped a pen on the arm of the chair.
"James." Janie sighed, "Mr. Patterson would like to have a nice little chat with us."
"All right." Chris rubbed his forehead, "I will meet you there." He hung up the phone and stood up. He turned his computer off and grabbed his wallet and keys from the top desk drawer. Chris walked out of his office, "I have to take the rest of the day off. James is in some trouble, so I have to meet Janie at the school. Go ahead and reschedule my appointments. And I will see you tomorrow."
"Okay. Have a good evening then." Stacie said. Chris walked out of the office and out to his car.
"Mr. and Mrs. Kirkpatrick, thanks for coming in on such short notice." Mr. Patterson said. He shook Chris' hand and showed him and Janie into the office. James was sitting in one of the chairs in front of the desk.
"Go ahead and have a seat." Mr. Patterson said, "I can get another chair."
"I'll stand. Janie you go ahead and sit down." Chris offered her the chair. Janie sat down next to James. Chris gripped the back of James' chair.
"As you know, this school prides itself on excelling in academics and creating a safe environment for our students to learn in. When one of our students breaks those rules we have to punish accordingly," Mr. Patterson looked directly at James and then up at Chris. "I realize that you pay a hefty tuition for James to attend Montgomery and that you also put in a lot of money towards the music program here. But if he's going to continue to break the rules and deprive other students of the education that they deserve, I cannot allow him to stay.
"He'll be suspended for three days and allowed to return on Monday. If this happens again he will be expelled."
"All right." Chris sighed. "We will definitely be discussing this tonight." His eyes met James' when the boy looked up at him. "I am sorry for any inconveniences this may have caused."
"It's not a problem. I am sorry too," Mr. Patterson smiled and stood up. "Call if there is anything else you need to discuss, please let me know."
"We will." Janie nodded, "I suspect that he will not be allowed to make up his work."
"No mam he won't." The principal shook his head, "Do you have your stuff James?" James nodded and stood up as well. He picked up his backpack.
"All right then." Janie sighed, "Have a good evening." Chris shook the man's hand for a second time and led James' out of the room. Janie followed behind the two. They walked out of the house.
"James you're riding home with me." Chris said as they stepped outside into the sun. "I'll see you at home Janie."
"Drive carefully." She said and gave him a kiss. Janie headed in the direction of the van. Chris unlocked the doors to his SUV and got in. James got in the passenger side and set his backpack down on his feet. He slammed the door and didn't even glance at Chris.
"James what is going on with you?" Chris asked. He spoke again before James even had a chance to answer. "This behavior is not acceptable." The boy shrugged. Chris peeled out of the parking lot. Janie gave him a dirty look in her rearview mirror when he stopped just short of her bumper at the light.
"I'm sorry." James mumbled.
"You said that the last two times." Chris said and looked over at him and then stepped on the gas when Janie started to go. "If you were really sorry your mother and I would not have had to come in and pick you up again."
"Janie does, you never come." James said. He rested his chin in his hand and stared out the window.
"She's your mother. You know how busy I am," Chris sighed. "You're grounded for a week. If you get into any more trouble at school the punishment will be a lot worse."
"Whatever." James muttered. Chris groaned at his attitude. The rest of the ride home was done is absolute silence, except for the radio in the background.
"So you have talked to everyone?" Chris asked a few evenings later. He looked over at Randall who was having trouble eating his chicken. "Let me cut it for you." Chris moved his plate out of the way and then scooted Randall's in front of him.
"Everyone but JC." Janie answered. She reached over and put her hand on Andrew's knee to stop him from bouncing it up and down. "I have some leads going, but I don't know for sure yet."
Chris nodded. He set Randall's plate back down in front of him and then started to eat his dinner.
"I was thinking about going out to LA next week. I just think it would work out better." Janie said.
"Do you really have to? I don't want you traveling by yourself. Especially now." He stated and motioned towards her, fork in hand.
"I'd be fine. And it'd only be for a week, two weeks at the most." Janie looked down at her plate, "Just think about it Chris."
"Are you sure you guys will be fine?" Janie asked and pushed her bag up higher on her shoulder.
"We will. Besides this was your idea in the first place." Chris said holding onto Randall's hand. "Now give me a hug and kiss." Janie stepped closer to him and wrapped her arms around him.
"I love you." She leaned down and kissed the top of Randall's head. "And I love you too."
"Love too Mom." Randall smiled up at his Mom as she stood back up.
"Chris," She started. He raised an eyebrow in question. "I was wondering What do you think about Josh being the baby's Godfather?"
"You haven't even found him yet."
"I will. So what do you think?" Janie asked him.
"Anything that you want sweetheart." He kissed her lips. "Have a safe flight."
"I will." Janie smiled.
"And call as soon as you land." He said. Janie nodded and turned to walk. She turned and waved to them before she headed down the skywalk. Chris looked down at Randall, "So should we go get something to eat?" He asked picking up the little boy.
"Yes." Randall nodded.
Chris grabbed Andrew's hand before it landed on James' arm. "Don't you do it." Chris said loudly. Andrew dropped his arm down to his side. "Come on you guys. Mom's been gone for four days let's not start now.
"What do you want to do tonight?" He continued. Just then the phone rang. Chris got up and answered, "Hello."
"Chris," He heard Janie's voice over the phone.
"Hey sweetie. How is everything going in California?" Chris asked a smiled crossing over his face.
"So far so good, I am going to the bar where he is supposed to have a gig tonight. So hopefully I can talk to him there." She said. "How are the boys? I just wanted to check in before I go and grab something to eat."
"We are all doing fine." He answered and looked at the three boys. All of whom were now engrossed on the television program. "I think we might go see a movie or something. Anyway I will let you go. Please be safe when you go out there tonight. And call me as soon as you get back to your room. Okay?"
"Got it." Janie smiled at his concern. "I will talk to you later tonight then."
"I love you."
"I love you too." Janie said and then hung up. Chris set the phone back down and then looked at the kids.
"All right. Get your shoes on; we're going to the movies." He stood up and grabbed his own shoes from the foyer. Chris helped Randall get his shoes tied and then put his own on. The four of them left fifteen minutes later.
"Chris what kind of food do you want for Saturday?" Janie asked standing in the doorway of the family room. Chris was seated on the couch watching a baseball game with the boys.
"Come here." He said looking over at her. Chris patted the seat next to him.
"Why?" She asked and then walked over to him slowly.
"Just because." Chris said as she sat down next to him. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and then put his other hand on her stomach.
"What do you want for food?" She asked him again and rested her hand on top of his. Janie laid her head on his shoulder.
"Hamburger's are fine." He answered. "Just get chips and make a salad or something."
"Okay." She sighed and closed her eyes. "I am so tired." Janie yawned.
"Go to bed sweetie." He ran his fingers through her hair.
"I'm fine." Janie yawned again. Chris grinned.
"Go." He nudged her. "I'll make sure the boys get to bed." Chris smiled when she stood up and leaned over to give him a kiss. "Good night."
"Night." She smiled and pulled away. "You guys listen to your Dad when he tells you to go to bed." Chris watched her as she walked out of the room. He turned his eyes back to the TV.
"Janie!" Chris yelled from the master bedroom. He held up two different shirts as he walked into the hall. She came around the corner as fast as her body would allow.
"What?" Janie asked.
"Which shirt?" He asked holding up both of them.
"What are you two? Sweetie, it doesn't matter." She sighed, "You know they don't care what shirt you wear."
"I know. I'm just nervous." Chris groaned and stepped into their room. Janie followed behind him.
"Relax okay." She walked up and rested her hands on his bare shoulders and rubbed them. "But if it makes you feel better, wear the green one." Janie kissed his shoulder.
"K." He nodded and put the shirt on. "Are the boys ready?"
"They are watching TV, as usual." Janie smiled. She watched as Chris buttoned the shirt up.
"Somebody's here!" They heard Andrew yell from the front room.
go see who it is." Janie smiled and patted Chris' forearm. She
walked out of the room and to the front door.