TEN:

 

It was late when Joey got home from the studio. Even though he wasn't singing that day and just had to sit and watch things from the soundboards, he still had been gone all day long. If he'd thought better earlier on in the tour he wouldn't have volunteered his week off to record with his dad. He'd thought that the older Joe would need a little guidance in the studio, but with the people that he'd been hooked up with, Joe Senior was flying through the recording process with no trouble.

*****

"Hey Joe?"

Joey shoved his phone in his pocket and looked over at where his dad was getting into his car. He was about to get into his own car, but he could see that his father wanted to talk. Grabbing out his keys and watched his father come to lean on the hood of the Escalade on the passenger side. Joey could see that they were going to have a conversation so he leaned against the driver side of the hood and gave his dad a smile. "You did good today Pops."

Joe Senior ran his hands over his face then frowned, "I know. You've told me a million times today." He wiped a hand over his face. "I don't want to talk about that. I've been hearing some stuff about your little family situation and I can't--"

"Hearing what dad?" he asked, "Did Steve talk to you?"

"Of course your brother talked to me," his dad said sounding angry, "I don't want you drinking Joe. I know that you're a partier and there is a time and place for that, but at the moment you need to keep a straight head."

"Fucking wonderful," Joey said with a sigh, "Everyone thinks I'm a fucking freak."

"Joseph Anthony Fatone." His father came around the side of the car. "I don't know what is going through your head right now young man, but you're not going to talk to me like that and I'd hope you wouldn't talk to anyone else like that either."

"Dad," Joey said feeling like he was a teenager again and his dad was yelling at him for taking the car without permission. "I don't talk to anyone like that--" He put his hand up to stop his dad from talking. "I'm under a lot of pressure about this stuff with Colton and my nerves are shot. I haven't slept well in a few weeks and Kelly basically told me last night that she feels like moving out of the house and out of my life. I think I'm allowed to get a little upset."

His father's face turned into a frown. "I didn't know."

"Yeah," Joey said, "YOU DON'T KNOW. No one knows. The one person who I thought WOULD KNOW is telling me that the last eight years that I've known her have been a lie and that she feels like she should baby-sit Colton in exchange for living in our house."

His father looked at him with sad eyes. "I didn't know things were so bad. Calm down kiddo," his father said, "Go home and talk to her."

"I have talked to her. I'm tired of talking. I'm tired of the fact that the woman I've loved for the last god knows how many years is now doubting that and I feel that she'll doubt that forever," he said. "It's bad enough that I have the press trying to get the story from me, but now the one person that I told the truth to thinks that I'm lying. I mean I might as well go sleep with a million girls because no one believes that I didn't." He took a breath and for a moment felt like he was going to have an asthma attack. He'd never had one, but he thought that the pressure in his chest would be what it would feel like. "I just want this to be over. I didn't do anything wrong. I was in a relationship with Yvonne when we were sleeping together and I didn't know about the kid because she didn't tell me about him. I didn't cheat really on Kelly. I wasn't dating her at the time."

*****

His attention turned back to his driving as he drove up to the house. He saw three cars on the street and as soon as he pulled into the driveway and waited for the garage door to open he saw the group of fans that were in the cars jump out. He sighed a little as he watched them in the rearview mirror. They were looking very excited to see him and were bold coming up onto the driveway as he eased the car forward towards his spot in the garage. He stopped his little spy mission when he saw that the Escalade would be parked in the garage alone that evening.

Seeing that Kelly wasn't home Joey decided to go talk to the fans. Most nights when he came home if people were outside Kelly didn't like him to stand outside and talk to them. She would get paranoid about having people around, but tonight he figured that he'd talk to them and get them to go away rather than ignore them and have them sit there all night. He pushed the door open and left his backpack in the car and went down to the curb and was bombarded by a small on the spot autograph signing before finally telling the kids that he was tired and that he needed to go into the house.

When he went in he turned on the lights in the kitchen, pressed the message machine to see if she'd left him a message, but didn't find one. There were two messages from Justin about going to a picnic with the crew at the end of the week, but nothing from her. The message about eating at a picnic reminded him about eating since lunch had been at noon, but decided instead that he'd take a shower and see if Kelly showed up before he grabbed dinner. He knew that if she had planned dinner that she would get upset at him if he ate without her and the kids.

As he climbed the stairs to the second floor he stripped down, leaving his shirt and belt in a pile just outside his closet door. It was as he was turning to go into the bathroom that he noticed how the light in the bedroom was shining into her closet and he found then that her things were gone. "Jesus Christ!" He swore as he walked into the tiny bare room. He panicked for a moment then called her cell phone using the phone near the bed.

It rang twice before the voicemail picked up. He swore before hearing the whole greeting and hung up then took a deep breath and dialed her parent's number.

"Hello? Kelly is that you?"

"Hey Mrs. Baldwin," he said in a hurried tone. His heart rate was through the roof as his mind began to wander. He hoped, hell prayed, that she hadn't done what she thought that she'd done. He didn't want her to leave him. She hadn't expected something that extreme to happen. She'd said it the night before, but he didn't think she'd actually go through with it. "You haven't talked to Kelly today have you?"

"Hi Joe," she said in a calm voice, "No. Kelly's father and I just got back from being gone overnight. I haven't talked to her in a few days...Is everything ok?"

"Yeah." Joey forced himself to stay calm. He knew that he needed to not think about the worse scenario or he was going to have a heart attack. She was probably just shopping or something like that. He tried to remind himself that she wasn't the type of person to do something that extreme. "I just couldn't get a hold of her on her cell so I thought she might be over there with you guys."

"Nope," she said, "Try your parents house. She might have gone over there."

"Ok. I will," he said.

"And Joey?" she said catching him as he was starting to hang up.

"Yeah?" he asked.

"I heard about your son and everything. Bring him over sometime so we can meet him," she said.

"You're welcome over here whenever you want to come," he said, "You know that."

"We'll try and get over there this week. Tell Kelly to give us a call when she gets a minute."


Kelly was surprised to see the garage door still open with she got back to the house. It was late and she'd stopped by McDonald's on her way back to the house thinking that by this time Joey would have eaten dinner so when she unpacked Colton and Brianna from the car the kids carried their bags into the kitchen to eat.

"Fiies," Brianna said.

"Honey you need to eat your chicken nuggets too," Kelly warned as Brianna carried her small orange drink with two hands. "Colton go open up the backdoor and let Nikita in and we'll feed him and eat dinner."

"Joe!" Kelly called through the house. "Joe are you home?"

Moments later she heard sounds upstairs then heavy footsteps on the stairs. She heard him in the hallway before he practically tackled her, making her drop the big bag of food onto the floor. She screamed out in pain as he grabbed her up, startling everyone in the room.

Brianna started to cry while Colton picked up the bag and set it on the counter. Kelly pushed Joey off her. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I--" He paused and looked at her with this crazy look in his eyes before he went over and picked up Brianna and hugged her then leaned and kissed the top of Colton's head. "I--I saw your stuff was gone and I thought--"

"Thought that I left?" she said narrowing her eyes, "You actually thought I'd give up that easily? You don't get off that easily Joe. Besides, I wouldn't just steal the kids and leave."

"I'm sorry," he said tipping his head down so that his eyes could barely be seen. It was a face that spoke volumes. He was clearly sorry for what he'd done, but didn't want to take his punishment with his eyes on her. "I didn't hit you too hard did I?"

"No," she said and looked at Colton. "Honey go let Nikita in and we'll eat dinner."

"What'd you guys get?" Joey asked as if he knew that she wanted the discussion about her welcome home.

When he gave Brianna another kiss, Kelly had to turn away from them to keep from getting too caught up in it. She found herself watching his lips press against their daughter's and wondering if they'd ever touch hers again. She knew that she was upset with him, but their sexual life had always been healthy.

"I'll be right back. Joe will you help them wash their hands?" Her stomach lurched and she went to go to the restroom. She thought that if she got away from him that her stomach would feel better, but she still found herself throwing up.

When she returned Joey had the kids at the table and was sharing Brianna's fries with her. "Make sure she actually eats some of that too Joe," she warned as she went to grab her burger. Her stomach lurched again so she brought the burger over to him and handed it to him.

"Is this yours?" he asked.

"You can have it. I thought that I'd eat it, but I think I'll have a salad instead."

"Are you sure?" he asked and looked at her for a little too long.

"Stop staring Joe. You're making me paranoid."

"Sorry," he mumbled and took the burger from her, opened it up and took a bite then turned back to Brianna and made her eat another chicken nugget.

Kelly went back into the kitchen and began to make herself her salad and listened to Colton and Joey talk.

"Joey we saw Nana today," Colton said, "I got to have cookies even though I got in trouble for--"

"You got in trouble?" he asked.

She looked over and saw Colton tip his chin down so that his eyes could barely be seen. Joey used that same face with her moments before. She wanted to laugh. If that didn't show that they were related, nothing else would. "I spilled my juice on the floor."

"You did?" he asked and she saw Joey look over at her. She pointed towards Colton with the knife she was using to cut her tomatoes and Joey looked back over at his son.

Colton looked guilty for a moment then looked at Kelly and smiled. "Kelly said that I was in trouble, but she cleaned it up and we had cookies."

"You make it sound like we celebrated," Kelly said. She threw the tomato on her bowl of lettuce and said, "I just told him that if he got in trouble at home that it didn't mean that Nana wasn't going to give him cookies."

"Nana gots coogies," Brianna said as she stuffed another of her French fries in her mouth.

"Nana makes really good cookies," Joey said putting a finger to his lips to show her that she needed to be a little quieter.

Kelly went to grab out her favorite salad dressing, some Catalina dressing that she'd fell in love with when they'd been on a trip to LA once, but when she pulled out the reddish dressing her stomach flip-flopped and she went running for the bathroom.

"Kelly?" Joey leaned in the room with Brianna in his arms and Colton following him. "Sweetie do you have the flu?"

"I don't know," she said and wiped her mouth. "I haven't been feeling good."

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, "I was in the studio, but if you were feeling bad I could have taken the kids with me. They would have had a blast over at Johnny's."

"No," she said and pushed herself up. She stood and felt a little dizzy. "I'm going to go brush my teeth then lay down for a while."

"Mommy?" Brianna said and leaned like she wanted to be held.

"Baby stay with Daddy and Colton," she said kissing her fingers she pressed the kiss to Brianna's cheek and smiled at her, "Mommy missed her nap today."

"You sure you're ok?" Joey asked.

"Yeah," she said, "I just need a nap."

"Ok," he said, "I'll get the kids to bed tonight so don't worry about it. If you fall asleep I'll let you sleep."

"Thanks Joe," she said with a smile to him and turned and went up the stairs.

In the hallway she thought for a moment about going into the master bedroom or going into the guest bedroom. It took her a moment, but she finally forced herself into the guest bedroom, but by the time she'd changed into her pajamas and had brushed her teeth she was crying. She folded herself in the bed sheets and cried herself to sleep.

 


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