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Author's Chapter Notes:
Gosh, I'm so sorry it took me so long to update. I got a little stuck for a bit, but I worked past it. And I'm back! And thank you guys so much for the feedback! You're all so awesome and I'm so appreciative and always looking forward to what you have to say. And this one.. is the chapter you've been waiting on for awhile now hehe.. meeting the folks. Hope you enjoy! And let me know how you thought it turned out. :)


The Lake View Restaurant was one of Coventry’s most popular restaurants; hosting parties from family reunions to graduations to wedding receptions. It was located right on Coventry Lake and while it gave that homey feeling, looking more like a mountain lodge resort, the food was exquisite and prepared by some of the best chefs in the state. We arrived at six and were seated outside on the deck overlooking the lake. It wasn’t very crowded considering it was a Tuesday night and only a few other groups were occupying the tables, eating and chatting away. The night was cool and I had dressed in a pair of black Capri slacks and simple, yet dressy, deep pink top. With the slight chill in the breeze, I had also brought a black cardigan which I now wore to cover my bare arms.

I was nervous for my family to meet Alex and I was nervous for Alex to meet my family. I knew they would like each other, but there’s always that little bit of doubt that hides in the back of your mind. And I knew my brother could be a bit standoffish giving the impression that he didn’t care for someone. Hopefully this dinner would go well and they’d accept Alex into their lives like I had accepted him into mine.

We didn’t have long to wait before Alex was shown through the doors from the dining room and led to our table. He was dressed in some dark slacks and a long sleeve, white dress shirt with a black vest over it. He looked nervous, but when our eyes met he flashed me his charming grin and I had to smile.

“Hey,” I greeted him, rising from my seat and giving his arm a gentle squeeze.

“Hi.” He kissed my cheek then looked to where the rest of my family had stood as well.

I took his hand in mine and gave it a comforting squeeze. “Um, Alex, these are my parents; Miriam and Neil,” I motioned towards them, “my brother, Grayson and his wife, Candace and my grandmother, Sophie.”

“Call me Mimi.” She took his free hand in her own. “You’re a handsome one, decorated or not.”

Alex chuckled low. “Thank you. It’s nice to meet all of you.”

“Likewise.” My mother moved around the table and over to him. “We’ve heard a lot about you.” When he went in for a handshake, she shook her head. “No, gimme a hug.” Then she hugged him all warm and friendly.

I couldn’t help but smile; so far so good.

One by one, the rest of my family shook his hand and soon we were seated again, Alex right next to me and Mimi on his other side.

I reached over and took his hand, pulling it into my lap. “Did you find the place okay?”

“Oh yeah, your directions were perfect.” He squeezed my hand and grinned at me.


“So, Alex, how long are you going to be in town for?” My father questioned him from across the table.

“I’m not really sure, Sir. It depends on how long Morgan is going to be here for.”

We don’t even know that.” My mom lifted an eyebrow in my direction.

“I’ll probably be heading back to California, Friday or Saturday.”

My mimi pouted at me. “So soon? It seems like you just got here.”

“It’s been almost two weeks, Mimi.”

“Gosh, I can’t believe that.” She shook her head and sighed.

“How long have you two been seeing each other?” My sister-in-law questioned us as she sipped from her glass of wine.

Alex’s brow furrowed as he thought it over, then glanced to me. “Um…how long has it been?”

I giggled. “About six weeks.”

“How’d you meet?”

“On the beach.” Alex looked back to Candace. “She was there with Daisy and I had brought my dog …and they immediately hit it off, so we started talking.”

I was appreciative that he didn’t tell them the real scenario of our first encounter. “Yeah, the dogs actually starting dating before we did.”

“Can they do that?” Candace’s eyes widened some.

“You know, I have been wondering that same thing. But it’s so obvious that they’re in love.”

“What kind of dog do you have?” My mom looked rather interested.

“I have two actually, a Bermese Mountain Dog and an Australian Shepherd; Bernie and Ozzie.”

“And they’re both so precious.”

It was at that moment that our server arrived and we ordered some drinks and appetizers and told her we needed more time for the main course. After she went on her way, we spent the next few moments reading over the menu choices and deciding what to order. Finally, after everyone had figured it out and we’d relayed it to Holly, our server, conversation turned back to Alex.

“Morgan tells us you’re a musician?” My dad started it off.

“Yes, Sir.” Under the table, Alex reached for my hand.

“What exactly do you do?”

“I’m a singer, mainly, but I also play guitar, the drums and write music. Lately, I’ve been dabbling in some producing as well.”

“My niece, Gina, tells us you’re in a group that’s famous,” my mother joined in on the conversation.

He gave a nod. “That’s right; The Backstreet Boys.”

“I knew you looked familiar!” Candace exclaimed from her seat.

I laughed and held his hand with both of mine. “Gina’s a pretty big fan of yours and she’s excited to meet you tomorrow.”

“It’s always a pleasure to meet our fans. They’re the ones who got us where we are.”

“Are you a rock star?” My grandmother questioned from her spot beside him.

Alex chuckled. “Not anything like Gene Simmons, Keith Richards or Mick Jagger. We sing more pop, adult contemporary music.”

“Oh good, I would hate for my granddaughter to get caught up in that rock star life; sex, drugs, rock n’ roll.” She made a face.

I felt Alex stiffen and I gave a laugh. “Mimi, he’s nothing like that. We do pretty normal things.”

“Mother, don’t make him uncomfortable,” my mother warned hers.

“Mimi, Alex says that when you come out to LA to visit, he’ll take us up into wine country,” I quickly changed the subject.

“Really, young man?”

He nodded his head. “That’s right. We’ll go up there a few days; tour the vineyards, see the ocean; whatever you’d like.”

“Oh, that sounds absolutely wonderful!” She clasped her hands together, a smile on her face.

“Morgan thought you would like that.” His warm eyes met mine and he gave my hand a squeeze.

“I can’t take all the credit,” I peeked around him over to my grandmother, “it was his idea, too.”

She smiled and then patted his shoulder. “I like you already.”

Everyone chuckled and my dad took control of the conversation again, “Tell us about your family, Alex.”

My date sat up a little straighter, letting our server, who had returned with our appetizers, set them down and everyone to get settled with some on their plates before speaking, “Well, my mom and stepfather live in Orlando, Florida. That’s where I grew up, basically. And I don’t have any brothers or sisters.”

“What do they do?”

“My mom’s a life coach and my step dad is retired. He used to work for an insurance company.”

“It’s so wonderful to be retired.” My dad chuckled. “I just retired myself last year; spent the last 20 years as a probate court judge.”

Alex’s brows rose. “That sounds like an interesting job.” He looked to my mom. “What do you do, Mrs. Huntley?”

“Please, call me Miriam.”

He gave a nod. “Miriam.”

She smiled at that. “I’m a professor at the University of Connecticut. I teach history and government.”

“Oh, that’s great.” Alex smiled warmly at her. “I bet that keeps you busy.”

She nodded. “Most nights.”

“I’m trying to talk her into retiring.”

I chuckled at my dad. “She isn’t going to retire until she’s ready to.”

“That’s right.” My mom nudged him with her elbow.

“I keep hoping one day maybe she’ll change her mind.”

“Whenever I do retire, I am not traveling in any Winnebago.”

I laughed. “What?”

“Your father wants to buy a Winnebago and for us to travel the country in it.”

My dad chuckled. “Just for the summer and we’d rent it.”

“I told you I want to go to Italy.”

“Yeah, yeah.” He sighed some and turned back to his food.

I chuckled low and watched between my parents. They’d been pretty good about not arguing in the last couple weeks with my grandfather’s heart attack and then death, but I knew it wouldn’t be long again before they were back to their nit picking and badgering. Though, none of it was in seriousness, they loved each other with a strong passion. That was just the way they were, the way they’d always been.

“So, Alex,” my brother spoke up from where he’d been quietly observing the conversation so far, “just how serious are you and my sister?”

That drew my attention and I looked to him, frowning a bit. “Grayson.”

He held up a hand. “It’s a good question.”

“Grayson, sweetheart,” his wife chimed in, “is that really any of our business?”

I’d always been just slightly jealous of Candace, with her perfect olive skin, her bright emerald colored eyes and her gorgeous and thick raven hair that never ever appeared out of place. But at the moment, I wanted to lean over the table and hug her tight. And maybe muss the hair, just a little bit.

“Of course it is,” he responded. “Alex is part of Morgan’s life and that makes him a part of ours. Besides,” those crystal eyes watched my date unwavering, “I just want to make sure she’s being taken care of and no one is gonna hurt her. She’s been through enough the last few years, she doesn’t need any more shit.”

“Grayson!” My mom looked horrified at his choice of words.

“You know it’s true, Mom.”

“You don’t have to curse at the dinner table.”

“Sorry; any more crap,” he corrected himself.

I frowned a little. “Alex isn’t going to-”

“No, it’s fine, Morgan,” he interrupted me. “I understand where your brother is coming from.”

“Good.” Grayson watched him with a fixed expression; one that said he didn’t trust him and he wasn’t sure if he even liked him.

Alex didn’t appear fazed by my brother’s hard stare; in fact, he matched it with one of his own. “Your sister and I are very serious. And contrary to whatever it is you’re thinking, I’m not going to hurt her. I know she’s been through a lot,” he glanced my way then back over to Grayson, “and I have every intention of doing whatever I can to make her happy again. And keep her that way.”

I felt a flood of warmth rush through me at his words and squeezed his hand with both of mine, wanting to just lean over and kiss all over his face.

“How do we know you speak the truth?”

“You’re just gonna have to stick around and find out.”

“Grayson, I think that’s enough,” my father spoke low to him.

“You’re right.” He turned back to Alex. “I’m sorry, but you can’t blame me for being concerned.”

“I don’t blame you one bit.” He pulled my hand into his lap. “If I had a sister, I’d probably be doing the same thing,” then his beautiful eyes met mine, “but I have no intentions of going anywhere.”

I smiled and touched his cheek. “I know.”

“Good.” He kissed my palm and then turned back to the table as our main dishes were brought over and served.


Hours later, Alex and I lay side by side in his big bed. We were both naked, covered haphazardly with the sheet, the rest of the covers tossed from the bed. I was staring up at the ceiling with my head on his chest, thinking back over the dinner and relieved that it had gone pretty well. After the food had been served, we’d fallen into relaxed conversation sharing different stories and letting my family find out more about Alex; what he liked, didn’t like, did in his spare time, his favorite things about his career, what he hated about it. There weren’t any more uncomfortable conversations and when we’d finally bid them goodnight, my mom and Mimi had both hugged him tightly and my father had even suggested getting together for golf.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

I shifted to my side and looked to his face. “Just thinking about the dinner tonight.”

He smiled and brushed his fingers through my hair, mussed from the love making we’d spent the last few hours participating in. “I think your parents like me.”

“I think so, too.”

“And your mimi.”

I smiled. “She adores you.”

“You think so?”

“Oh yeah,” I gave a nod, “you heard her say she wanted to take you home with her. You really charmed her good.”

He chuckled and played with the ends of my hair. “I’m not so sure about your brother, though.”

“Eh,” I made a face, “I think you’re okay in his book. He’s just a little wary.”

“He has good reason.”

“Yeah.” I kissed his chest then pushed myself up on an elbow. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything, baby.”

“Tonight at dinner, you got a little stiff when my grandmother mentioned sex, drugs and rock n’ roll,” I studied his face, “what was that about?”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I had a feeling you were going to bring this up.”

I sat up then tugged the sheet up around me. “I know what a celebrity life is probably like, I’ve heard the stories and seen the pictures; parties and drinking, staying out till dawn, all the drugs and eating disorders. It’s a lot of pressure to keep on top and I can only assume that leads to other things.”

“Yeah, very easily it can lead to other things.”

I studied him, drawing my legs up and wrapping my arms around them. “Did that happen to you?”

“Would it make you look at me any differently?”

“Not at all.” I shook my head. “Whatever it was you got involved with, something tells me it’s not that way anymore.”

“Well, that something is right.” He sat up and fixed the sheet over his lap.

I rested my chin on my knees. “What happened?”

Alex sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. “It was a long time ago, when we were really at the height of our fame. I started hanging out with the wrong crowd for the wrong reasons and started doing things I shouldn’t have been. I was caught up in the attention, the adrenaline rush; in trying to make the battles I was struggling with disappear. And I thought that alcohol and drugs were the way to do it.”

“How bad did it get?”

His brooding eyes met mine and I shivered at the expression in them. “Really bad. I became a totally different person. I was lying to my family, my friends, the group…I was doing anything I could to get a fix; I became sneaky and crafty and did things I’m horrified at, but back then I did them without batting an eye. I didn’t recognize or even like myself, but I didn’t care. I was constantly drinking and because of that, a lot of that time, I don’t even remember. It’s just…blank spaces to me.”

“Geeze,” I breathed out softly.

“Yeah,” he nodded in agreement with my disbelief, “I’m so fucken lucky I didn’t physically hurt or kill someone, or myself.”

“My God.” I reached for his hand.

“Yeah, it was pretty bad.” He shook his head at the thought. “But then one day, one of my bandmates sort of opened up my eyes. I realized that my life had gone to shit, that if it continued this way I was going to die and that I almost didn’t have anyone left. I’d pushed them all away.” He watched me then brought my hand to his chest and held it there protectively. “I wanted to die, but I called my mom and got into a rehab center. It was probably the hardest, and most difficult, time of my life and quite a few times I wanted to walk out and get drunk off my ass, but I didn’t. And,” his eyes searched mine with a pleading look, “I walked out of there sober and drug free. And I stayed that way for a year, but it’s hard… really hard to not falter. Every day is a damn struggle and one day, I fucked it all up. But I was able to work past that and get sober again and stay that way.”

My eyes glistened with tears. “I’m so proud of you.”

The corner of his mouth turned up a tiny grin. “Thank you, I’m really trying.”

“I know,” I shifted closer to him and smoothed a hand over his cheek, “and whatever you need, I’ll do what I can. Just…lemme know.”

“You’ve already done more than you’ll know.”

I caressed his cheek. “What do you mean?”

“Just… you. Before I met you, I was having some really hard days and a few times I nearly fell of that wagon.” He wet his bottom lip. “But then you came into my life and…it suddenly became so much easier to just be me and not struggle every day with wanting a drink.” A beat. “I’m not saying I don’t still have my moments, because Lord knows I do, but just…” he shook his head and chuckled some. “It’s silly, never mind.”

“No, it’s not silly. What is it?”

Alex sighed and ran his hand over his mouth. “I feel like…with you I have no pressure and I don’t have to be something I’m not. I can actually relax and just be myself…you don’t judge me and you don’t expect certain things from me. You just let us be what we are.” He brushed some hair from my face. “And you give me this strength inside and I know I can persevere and overcome the temptations.”

I was a puddle right there on the bed; completely melted at his words. Tears shone in my eyes, but I didn’t bother wiping them away. “You give me strength, too. And…you’ve given me my life back.”

“Oh, baby,” his fingers ghosted along my cheek, “I just helped you find it again.”

“I love you,” I breathed out, shifting my body and straddling his lap. “And I hope I get to spend a long, long time showing you that.”

“Mmm, I love you, too.” He pushed the sheet from us and smoothed his strong hands down over my thighs. “You could start by showing me some of that love right now.”

I giggled low at that and kissed along his neck, allowing him to grip my hips and lift me some before guiding them down on him. “Gladly,” I managed out as a flush of tingles spread up into my belly. “I’ll gladly show you love anytime you want.”

“Mm, yeah,” he grunted and pulled my body flush against his, nipping at my shoulder. “You feel so damn good.”

I shivered at the tone in his voice and began to set the rhythm, moving my body against his in ways I knew he liked. Alex was insatiable; I just wanted, no needed, to be as close as possible with him all the time and that made me wonder if we’d get any sleep that night. Which if we didn’t, would be fine by me.