The party was in full swing by the time Tara showed up at Clay and Gemma’s house. She took one last once-over at her outfit before she knocked on the door. She was wearing tight-fitting jeans and a tank top. She had taken extra care with applying her makeup. She had let her hair down. She wasn’t dressed to impress, but she didn’t look too terrible either. It would have to do, she thought to herself.
She knocked on the door and Clay answered almost right away. Seeing her, he took her in his arms and gave her a warm bear hug.
“Glad you could make it,” he told her, appreciatively. “No matter what has happened…you belong here with us. You’re family and you’re a part of this club.”
Gemma came to the door. She was wearing a pleased expression on her face too. “Come on in, sweetie. I know that you could probably use a stiff drink.” She dragged Tara over to where the alcohol was. “What’s your poison?” she asked, fully aware that Tara felt uncomfortable.
Tara told her and Gemma poured her a drink. They made small talk and moved their way into the living room, where everyone else had gathered.
Tara spotted Jax across the room, holding baby Abel and Wendy sat next to him. They looked like a happy family. It made her feel sick to her stomach. She tried turning around to head back the same way she had come in, but Gemma stood in her way.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Gemma advised. She looked over at Jax, Wendy and little Abel. “Be brave. I know you can do it,” she coached.
Tara rolled her eyes. “Gemma…” she moaned.
“Look, I have confidence in you. I trained you. You know what you have to do. Be brave. Wendy is just some skanky drug-addicted whore. She has nothing on you.”
Tara turned back around and stared across the room. Before she could move, Tig came over and gave her a hug. Same with the rest of the club and their families. They welcomed her with open arms, saying how much they had missed her, even though it had only been four days.
Tara was stunned speechless. She let them take her further into the room. She sat down in a chair at the opposite end of the room from Jax and his family. She glanced his way and found that he was staring at her hard. She felt breathless and afraid. She knew that he would use the first opportunity to come over and talk to her.
Gemma, being Gemma…noticed what was going on. She walked over to where Wendy was seated and asked her to come help her out in the kitchen. It was obvious to Tara what Gemma was up to. It made her more uncomfortable than ever.
She made small talk with Juice and Opie, until she found that her drink was dry. She stood up and headed towards the kitchen. Jax had noticed of course and moved too. He stood in front of her, blocking her path.
“Hey Tara,” he greeted her, as he stared, searching her face for answers.
She knew that he was full of unanswered questions and was waiting for the perfect moment to ask them. The look in his eyes reminded her of a lion stalking it’s prey.
“Hi Jax,” she greeted him. She moved to go around, but he moved to stand in her way. “Come on, Jax,” she begged. She hoped that he didn’t want to have a confrontation there in the living room, right in front of everybody else. “Let me go.”
“No,” he refused. “We need to talk, Tara.”
“I don’t want to talk.”
“Too bad,” he insisted. He grabbed her by the arm and led her down the hallway, where they could have some privacy from watchful eyes and loud voices.
They stood and faced each other. He had a curiously puzzled expression on his face, while Tara’s looked frustrated. Jax held Abel in his arms. When Abel saw Tara standing there, he smiled at her. Tara couldn’t help but smile back.
“You see?” Jax pointed out. “Abel misses you…same with me,” he continued. “Tara…” he paused, suddenly unsure of what he wanted to say next. “What happened? Why did you leave?”
She felt guilty. She knew that she owed him some sort of explanation. “Why don’t you ask Wendy what happened? I hear that she’s practically moved in,” she replied, sarcastically.
He stared at her, wondering what the hell Tara was talking about. “What do you mean? Why would Wendy know?”
Tara wanted to groan. Either Jax was too stupid to see what Wendy was up to, or he was refusing to admit that he had moved on. “Again, why don’t you ask her? She seems to know everything.” She tried to move around him, but he refused to move.
Abel babbled in baby talk. Tara’s heart melted. He had grown so big since the last time she’d seen him.
“Mind if I hold him? I’ve missed him so much,” she asked, hopefully.
He willingly handed him to her. Their hands brushed against each others’ and both of them felt a jolt of electricity shoot through them. He watched, as she took him into her arms and began cooing at him. “He hasn’t forgotten you, you know,” he told her, softly, as he watched the way they were around each other. “You’re still his mother,” he added, in a much softer voice. “I need to know, Tara. I won’t give up until you tell me.”
Tara didn’t want to talk to Jax about what had happened with them, but she did want to talk about Abel. “What happened when you found him? Was it hard to get him back?” It was a good, safe topic to talk about.
“The Belfast chapter had someone looking after him. He was well looked after over there. And no, we made an easy deal that would be profitable for everybody,” he replied, telling her briefly, what had happened in Ireland. He was about to say more, when Wendy came stomping down the hallway and interrupted them.
“There you are,” she exclaimed. “I was looking all over the house for you,” she gushed, charmingly at Jax. She looked at Abel in Tara’s arms and frowned. “Tara, what are you doing here? I thought this party was for family only?” She smirked at her.
“Tara is family,” Jax spoke up, defending Tara’s right to be there. Abel started to fuss. He turned towards Tara. “I think it’s time for his diaper to be changed.” He took him out of Tara’s arms and walked away from them, into the bathroom and closed the door. Tara wished that Jax hadn’t left her alone with this she-devil.
“Pretty daring of you to invite yourself to this party, isn’t it little party crasher?” Wendy replied, not very friendly.
“Actually…Gemma invited me here,” Tara pointed out. “I only agreed because I wanted to see Abel again.”
“I don’t want you near my baby,” Wendy replied, angrily.
Tara glared at her. “Since when? I seem to recall that you appreciated the fact I saved him and I was dedicated as his doctor.”
“I’m not going to get into an argument about this with you, but you’re in love with Jax and I think that you would use Abel to get him.”
“I would never do such a thing,” Tara objected. “Sounds like you’re feeling guilty.”
Their argument was interrupted when Jax came out of the bathroom, holding Abel. Both women gazed at him, appreciatively. They enjoyed seeing this fatherly side of him.
Tara used it to make a quick getaway. “Well, I’ve got to go. I only came by to see Abel. Jax, I’m glad that you have him back.” She quickly walked away from Jax and Wendy, towards the living room.
He watched, speechless, as she left. He completely ignored Wendy’s astonished look on her face and her anger that he wasn’t paying attention to her. He watched from across the room as Tara bade her farewells to Gemma and Clay, and left out the front door. Realizing belatedly, that Tara was making a quick getaway, therefore leaving his questions unanswered, he handed Abel over to Wendy and went to race after her. Gemma stepped in front of him and refused to move.
“What the hell happened?” She asked, curiously. She was angry that her plan to reunite Tara and Jax hadn’t worked.
“Nothing happened,” Jax replied, his gaze moved to the door that Tara had just exited. “Out of my way, mom. I need to see if I can stop her.” He pleaded. Gemma moved aside, since she knew that look in Jax’s face. She wanted them to get things patched up anyways.
He moved around her and walked out the door. He got outside, just as Tara had pulled away from the curb and drove off out of sight.
Gemma watched Wendy return to the living room with little Abel. She glared across the room at her. She knew that Wendy had interrupted Jax and Tara. That would not do. She would have to come up with a plan to get rid of Wendy somehow. She just need time to think.
* * * * * *
Tara jogged by the park. She had her iPod on. She was listening to some music that would make her mood happier, but she wasn’t having much luck.
A car slowed down next to her. She wouldn’t have paid much attention to it, but she recognized both the car and the driver. She groaned. What now? She wondered to herself. She stopped jogging, took off her headphones and waited for the occupant to get out of the car.
Gemma climbed out of the car, took her sunglasses off and placed them on her head like a headband. She walked up to Tara, standing on the sidewalk.
“What are you doing here?” Tara wondered, curiously.
“I followed you,” Gemma shrugged. “I don’t understand how you could run in this type of heat. It’s sweltering outside,” she fanned herself for effect.
“Why were you following me?” she asked, afraid of the answer.
“Because sweetie…you and me have to make a plan,” Gemma replied.
“A plan for…what?” Tara asked, now even more scared. She hated Gemma’s plans because someone usually got hurt.
“A plan for you and Jax to get back together again,” she explained. She wouldn’t let Tara get a word in edgewise because she knew that she would object. “I’ve decided to help you. I know why the two of you didn’t talk last night at the party. It was because of Wendy, isn’t it? We need to get rid of her somehow.” She bit her lip in thought, as she tried to do come up with a plan to do just that.
“Get rid of?” Tara repeated, stunned. She must have misheard Gemma. “What do you mean by that, Gemma?” She asked, hesitantly. She suddenly grew fearful because she knew that when Gemma wanted to get rid of someone, it wasn’t a pretty sight. She had been a victim herself at one time.
“Well, I’m not planning on killing her…unless she makes it real easy on us and decides to start her drug habit up again. We need to come up with something else. I want you to be a part of it, sweetie, because it’s your life. I want you to take control. I want you to fight for what’s yours.”
Tara couldn’t believe what Gemma was suggesting. She stared at her, incredulously. “I already told you that it’s over between me and Jax.”
“Yes, you did,” she agreed. “But I disagree. Last night, when the two of you looked at each other, a person would have to be an idiot to get caught in between the looks you two were exchanging. It reminded me of my hot flashes. What happened?” She asked, mostly curious because she had to know everything about everyone. “Did you and Wendy have a fight?” She seemed pleased by this.
“You’re observant,” she spoke sarcastically.
“Only because I care,” Gemma amended. “Tell me, Tara. What really happened between you and Jax? None of this makes any kind of sense.”
“Promise me that you won’t tell Jax?” she asked, hopefully. “I feel bad enough as it is.” Tara realized that she needed someone to talk to. Someone who was a woman and might be able to understand.
“Fine,” she sighed. “Okay, sweetie. There’s a bench over there,” she pointed. “Let’s sit down and have a nice little chat.” She guided the two of them to the park bench and they sat down.
Tara told her about the whole thing. How she’d been feeling ever since Abel had been kidnapped. How Wendy had returned and Jax had comforted Wendy, but hadn’t tried to comfort her, even though she was missing Abel too. She told her about how she suspected that Jax blamed her for what happened. And last but not least, Tara told her about what Wendy had told her in the washroom in the bar.
“How dare that bitch say those things to you?” Gemma exclaimed, outraged. Tara noticed that Gemma was quick to take her own side. “Did she really say that she and Jax were back together again?” She asked, incredulously.
“Well, I’m not sure. But she insinuated that they were. I’m sorry, Gemma. It’s a lost cause. Wendy is Abel’s mom. I don’t know how I can compete with that,” she apologized and shrugged her shoulders.
“Humph,” she replied. “We’ll see about that.”
“What are you going to do?” she asked, after seeing that look in Gemma’s eyes. She knew that look…she meant business. She was now afraid of what Gemma was going to do. It reminded her that it was smart to have her on your side instead of your enemy.
“Nothing, sweetie. I’m just going to make a few facts known to her and remind her of who’s really in charge.”
Gemma hugged her and they said their goodbyes. She watched Gemma climb into her car and drive away. Tara couldn’t help it, she felt a sense of dread. She almost wished that she hadn’t told her, but she was relieved that she had taken her side. She had felt so alone before.
It was a little while later. Tara was almost to her house. She could hear the roar of a motorcycle pulling up next to her. She glanced at who it was and she groaned. What were the chances? It wasn’t Gemma this time, obviously. It was Jax himself. She pretended to ignore him. Maybe he would go away?
Jax was driving his bike towards Tara’s house, when he spotted her jogging. He rolled up to the curb and rode along beside her for a ways. Tara glanced over at him, then kept jogging. He knew that she was pretending to ignore him. It made him smile.
At the next intersection she crossed, he steered right in front of her, effectively cutting her off. She stared at him with a shocked expression on her face.
He could have run her over, for pete’s sake! She thought to herself, angrily. She was stunned.
He grinned at her, with a wicked expression on his face. He was wearing sunglasses, but yet, she could still feel the heat in his gaze. He looked at her from head to toe. She was wearing a tank top, that cut off mid-section and shorts that fit a little bit too tight. The way he gazed at her, made her think that she was completely naked and standing there for all the world to see.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked, frustrated, angry and confused.
“Coming to see you,” he replied. He kicked the kick-stand down on his bike and climbed off. He reached for her, but she had seen him coming, so she backed away from him. He shrugged, as if it didn’t mean anything. But it did…he hated that she wanted to have nothing to do with him anymore. The fact that she didn’t want him to touch her spoke volumes.
“Why?” she demanded, frustrated and angry that she was seeing his handsome face and had been having troubles forgetting about him. She had to keep reminding herself that he had pushed her away and he wasn’t hers anymore.
“Because we need to talk, Tara. You still haven’t explained to me why you ran out,” he explained, reasonably, calmly and rationally.
“I don’t want to talk to you right now,” she tried to move around him and the bike.
He blocked her way. “I know that, but it’s the least you can do. You do owe me an explanation or I will never leave you alone,” he threatened.
“Okay,” she relented. “But we’ll talk at my house. Not here, out in the open.”
He allowed her to start walking, climbed on his bike and drove to her place. Of course, he beat her there by a mile. He was leaning against his bike when she finally walked up to her front step. He followed. She sat down and he sat down next to her.
“What’s going on Tara?” he asked. “Everything was going so good…what happened?”
Tears suddenly came to her eyes. She was frustrated and felt like he didn’t understand her. “You know the answer to that,” she replied.
He looked at her, both puzzled and confused. “No I don’t. Tell me.”
“Okay,” she agreed. “You want to know what happened?” she cried. “I’ll tell you, since it’s obvious that you’re clueless!” She started to cry at the thought that he just couldn’t see when it was so obvious to her.
“Hey,” Jax wrapped his arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him. He felt Tara stiffen in his arms. He was disappointed because he was only trying to comfort her. What had he done wrong? “Why are you crying?”
Tara wanted to scream. Had Jax always been this dense when it came to women? She decided that she better clue him in, then she could get on with her own life. “Okay, here goes…”