Denise, the guys and the wives finished setting up the party at AJ’s house while he was at the airport getting Kat. Nick was excited to see her again since he had gotten to know her better than the other guys. The boys had decided to start the grill and play with a few of the lawn games while Denise and the girls chatted on the patio.
“I wonder what this girl is like." Leigh said to the other women.
“I have no idea but I know J turns into a little kid when he talks about her. He’s like a 5 year old with a crush!” Leighanne replied laughing.
“Let’s just pray that she’s nothing like Michelle!” Kristen added.
Denise was thinking the same thing. She strongly disliked Michelle but she never said that to Alex because she didn’t want to push her son away. This new girl sounded nice but so did Michelle at first. She could only hope that he was just going to be friends with her and take some time to figure his life out before he tried to start up anything.
"What do you think Denise?" Leigh asked breaking her out of her daze.
Denise thought about it for a minute. "I'm just concerned. It seems like she's been good for him but I really don't want him to jump into anything. He needs to take some time and focus on himself. Give himself a chance to deal with the break up from Michelle."
"That's something to be happy about!" Kristen interjected.
Nick came running over. "Get ready, they're here!"
Everyone took their spots and prepared to meet Kat.
“Oh my god AJ! This is a surprise. Your house is amazing!” Kat exclaimed walking through the front door. The house was huge, had tons of windows and a very open floor plan.
“Glad you like it!” AJ said with a grin. “Why don’t we head out to the backyard and I’ll give you the full tour.”
He pulled the curtain aside on the slider and Kat stepped out.
Kat almost fell backward but AJ was able to catch her. She was shocked to find all these people waiting here including AJ’s mom.
“How come you didn’t mention this to me?” Kat whispered in his ear.
“Because then it wouldn’t be a surprise! Is this a vocabulary thing again?” AJ said, teasing her, and pushed her towards Nick.
“Funny McLean!” Kat said over her shoulder.
Nick swept her up in a hug spinning her around. “I’ve missed you Brady. Glad J was finally able to convince you to come out here.”
“Thanks Nick. I missed you too!”
She hugged all the guys and was introduced to their wives. AJ finally snagged her and brought his mom over.
“Mom this is Kat, Kat this is my mom.”
Kat had been nervous about this meeting. She hadn’t expected it to come as soon as it did but she worried that she wouldn’t make a good first impression. They weren’t dating but they were friends and she wanted his mother to like her.
“Hi Mrs. McLean, it’s very nice to meet you.” Kat stuck out her hand.
Denise returned the handshake. “It’s nice to meet you too Kat. Alex’s told me all about you.”
Kat couldn’t help but notice that his mom didn’t seem all that happy about her being here and she worried that this was going to cause some problems.
“Hey everyone, food’s ready!” Kevin yelled. Everybody grabbed food and a seat.
AJ stood up as Nick was putting in a mouthful. “Before you guys start eating,” he said looking at Nick, “I want to make a toast. Thank you to all of you for setting up this party and thank you to Kat for agreeing to come out here. I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks!”
“Here, here!” Nick yelled between mouthfuls. Everyone burst out laughing.
Kat offered to do the dishes after dinner and Leighanne and Leigh told her they would help. Kristen and Kevin had to head home early to get Mason from the babysitter.
“It’s nice to have you here Kat. Hopefully J won’t occupy all your time and we’ll get to see you again before you leave!” He hugged Kat while trying to avoid AJ’s swing.
“Get out of here Richardson! She’s my friend, not yours, and I can occupy her time 24/7 if I feel like it!”
“Wow J! Awfully possessive huh?” Kristen yelled over her shoulder as she followed Kevin out.
“You get out too Richardson #2!” AJ yelled back, laughing.
Nick, Howie and Brian offered to pick up all the lawn stuff and put it back in the shed. AJ was going to help them but he noticed his mother sitting off to the side of the patio and was concerned.
“Hey Ma.” he said and sat down next to her. “What’s up?”
Denise smiled at him. “Nothing, I’m just tired.”
AJ grinned. “Mom you suck at lying. You always have. What’s going on?”
When she didn’t say anything for a few minutes, his stomach started to tighten up.
“You don’t like Kat. That’s it right?”
Denise sighed. “No sweetheart, she seems like a very nice girl. I just worry about you that’s all.”
“Why are you worried?”
“Alex, you hardly know this girl and you invite her out to stay with you for a couple of weeks. All I’m saying is be careful.”
“I’ve known her for months now Ma! She’s a great person and I’m comfortable being around her. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to feel that way?”
Denise looked surprised. AJ hadn’t taken this tone with her for a while.
“I’m sorry if I snapped at you Ma but I really like Kat. She’s nothing like Michelle. They’re polar opposites. Please take some time and get to know her. She’s important to me.”
Denise looked her son in the eyes and saw emotions she had never seen before. He almost looked like he was pleading with her and she felt badly for treating Kat the way she did.
“I should be apologizing Alex. I should have been more welcoming. I just love you so much and don’t want to see you get hurt anymore.”
AJ hugged his mother. “She’s not going to hurt me.”
Everyone except for Denise left a few minutes later. She had asked Alex if she could have a talk with Kat before she headed home.
“I want to apologize to her for not being more welcoming.”
AJ smiled at his mother. “Ok. Why don’t you have a seat in the living room and I’ll go get her.”
Denise took a seat on the long couch and tried to figure out exactly what to say. She saw Kat approach her and asked her sit. AJ left to finish up some cleaning and let them have a few moments by themselves.
“I’m sorry Kat for my behavior today. I should have been nicer to you.”
Kat shook her head. “You don’t need to apologize Mrs. McLean.”
“Call me Denise.”
“Ok. I understand that AJ’s your son and that you only want what’s best for him. I also know that he’s had a rough time with finding people that he can trust and won’t take advantage of him. I promise you that I would never do that. I don’t like AJ because of his fame or his money.”
Kat paused for a minute.
“I like him because he’s him. When we met, we didn’t get off on the right foot and it made things very uncomfortable. It wasn’t until after he tackled me…”
Denise started to laugh. “I heard that story.”
Kat smiled. “After he tackled me, we decided that we should start over. I value having AJ in my life and he means the world to me. I would like to have you get to know me better and I hope that I’ll be able to change your mind.”
Denise was impressed that this girl was willing to put herself out like that. She could see in her eyes that Alex was really important to her and she promised her that she and Kat would spend some time together getting to know each other.
“I think we should have lunch soon so I can talk to you without my son eavesdropping!” Denise said loudly. AJ blushed and poked his head around the corner.
“Just checking on you two, that’s all!”
Kat was embarrassed that she had just spilled her guts to AJ’s mom and didn’t realize he was in earshot.
Denise started to laugh. “I’m going to call it a night and let you guys get some rest.” She hugged her son and then surprised Kat by hugging her too.
“I’ll call you tomorrow and we can plan some girl stuff ok?”
Kat smiled. “That’s sounds great.”
Denise left and the two of them sprawled out on the couch. AJ stretched out and put his head on Kat’s lap.
“Sooooo, you value me huh?”
“What?” he asked laughing. “I couldn’t help listening. I had to make sure you two were getting along.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“Mind your own business! Do you need to have a vocabulary lesson?”
“You’re real cute Brady! At least I know that I mean the world to you!”
Kat pushed AJ off the couch and he landed on the floor.
“What was that for?”
“Being a wise ass!” Kat said with a smile. “I’m tired. Let’s get some sleep.”
AJ took her upstairs and gave her a quick tour so she knew where everything was.
“Which room is mine?”
“This one.” he said opening a door.
She burst out laughing.
“That’s your room!”
AJ grinned. “Oops, sorry, my mistake.”
“Yeah right. Mistake my butt! You really think you’re funny don’t you?”
“Actually I think I’m hilarious!”
“Of course you do Mr. Modesty.”
AJ led her over to the door next to his.
“This one’s yours. Try and get some rest. Let me know if you need anything. Water, another pillow, light.” He had to use every ounce of self-control in his body to not add “me” to the end of that statement.
“Thanks AJ.” Kat said and kissed him on the cheek. “Sweet dreams.”
AJ didn’t think that was going to be a problem.