Chapter Nine

When Joanne woke up, she was very disoriented. She stretched her arms above her head and looked over to her right. When she saw that she was in bed with Taylor Horde, she couldn't help the giggle that escaped. She lifted the sheet, and sure enough…no clothes. Joanne let out another giggle as she sat up. She sighed as she glanced over at his night stand, and this only made her gasp in surprise. She only had two hours to make her flight and her things were over at Kylie's place. She stood up and looked around for her clothes. It was then that she remembered she had left them in his pool house, along with her cell phone. She was about to turn around and wake him up, when Taylor's voice filled the room.

"Wow, this brings back so many memories. All that's missing is your sheet and my roommate." Joanne playfully glared at him.

"Taylor, this is so not funny! I'm going to miss my flight!" Taylor chuckled, got up not bothering to cover himself either, walked over to her, and wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Well, at least you're not mad at me this time." Joanne giggled some more and wrapped her arms around the back of his neck. Taylor returned her grin before kissing her very thoroughly. When they came up for air, Joanne couldn't stop the giggles.

"In case you couldn't tell, I actually find this situation highly amusing." Taylor sighed, content.

"Can't you postpone your flight until tomorrow? I mean, it is only Saturday, and we can spend the whole day together." Joanne rested her head on his chest and contemplated what he said.

"Oh, I don't know if that's such a good idea, Taylor." He groaned and pulled her in closer.

"It's a great idea, and you know it. This is how it should have been in college." Joanne was slammed back to reality with his words. Seth's face flashed through her mind and she released her hands from his neck.

"I think it's best that I leave today, I miss Seth. Do you have a robe or something so that I can go get my clothes?" Taylor reluctantly let go of her.

"Was it because I brought up college, Joanne?" she looked away from his knowing eyes.

"Not really, no, but you did bring me back to reality. My parents have been watching him, so I need to get back." Taylor nodded and left the room for a few minutes. When he came back, he was robed and holding one open for her. After she'd made sure to knot it, he turned her around.

"Promise me you aren't going to disappear again. Believe me, I'll fly to Tennessee and all of it. I want to be with you…desperately. I've never been able to let the thought of you go, let alone you." Joanne stared at him, completely stunned.

"You want to do a long distance relationship?" Taylor grinned at her words.

"If you'll let me. I'll take whatever I can get, and hopefully you'll see that you can't live without me. I wanna get to know Seth and everything also." Joanne was so tempted by his offer. Taylor was everything that she remembered and more.

"Taylor, we barely know each other." He just shrugged his shoulders again, a favorite response.

"So, we'll get to know each other. Joanne, I'm absolutely begging you to do this, I don't want to lose you again." Joanne couldn't refuse his pleading look.

"Okay Taylor, we'll give it a shot." He gave her one of his most brilliant smiles in response.

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When she was safely on the plane home, Joanne grew incredibly sad. She remembered the scene at the airport and it made her want to cry. She'd been able to get a flight three hours later than her previous one. Taylor had gone to Kylie's with her, determined to make her crazy. While she was packing, Kylie demanded to know what had happened to them and what was going on. Taylor had been all too happy to divulge most of the details. As they'd both suspected, Kylie had been beside herself with excitement. Joanne remembered the few minutes that she'd gotten to spend alone with Kylie.

"It's about damn time you woke up where he is concerned. You do understand you'll have to tell him about Seth." Joanne nodded, knowing she was right.

"I know and I just pray that he won't try to take him away form me." Kylie scoffed at her.

"Taylor wouldn't do that and you know it!" They'd had a very tearful goodbye at the airport. The fight from the previous day was completely forgotten as Kylie pleaded with her to find a job there so she could move. The offer was damn tempting, she almost didn't go back. She just wanted to make sure that Taylor was going to react well to the Seth news first.

Joanne remembered the kiss Taylor had laid on her at the terminal. She hadn't wanted to let him go, which he seemed delighted about. She knew that she was in love with him and it broke her heart a little. She also knew that once he found out that Seth was his, he'd never want to speak to her again. When she got off of the plane, her dad was there waiting for her. She'd called and told him about her flight changes. She gave him a big hug when she reached him.

"Thanks for meeting me, Daddy." He smiled and grabbed her bag from her.

"Not a problem, Sweetie. Did you have a good time?" Joanne grinned really big.

"Surprisingly I did. Kylie didn't want to dwell on it, even though she was hurting. She proceeded to beg me to move in with her and find a teaching job in New York. Granted, I'd probably get paid twice what I'm making here. Also, I saw Seth's father while I was there." Her father didn't respond right away. He waited until they were in the car to say anything.

"Maybe moving to New York would be good for you and Seth. Did you finally tell him that he's a father?" Joanne blushed.

"No, I didn't, but I'm going to. He wants a relationship with me and I know I have to tell him." Her dad nodded his approval.

"I think it's the right thing to do, really. Seth deserves a father."

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That night, after getting Seth to sleep, her home phone started to ring. She snatched it up and she felt wonderful when she heard Taylor's voice in her ear. She couldn't get over the fact that he was calling her his girlfriend. She'd made up her mind to tell him sooner rather than later about Seth. She knew that he had a right to know, he always did. So, when they settled in for their conversation, Taylor chuckled as he settled into his covers.

"You have no idea how much I wish you were here with me, Jo." She smiled into the receiver.

"Probably about as much as I'd like to be there with you." He liked to hear this.

"So, how did Seth react to your homecoming? Did you have to check his room like you said on the phone?" Joanne couldn't believe that he remembered that in her conversation.

"No, he said that he was cool." She knew that now was the best time to say something, she just really dreaded his reaction. Taking a deep breath, she took over the call.

"Listen Taylor, I've got something that I have tell you and I don't want you to say anything until I'm finished, okay?" She waited for him to respond before she started again.

"When we were in college, you scared the hell out of me. I knew that if I let myself, I could fall for you very easily. I wasn't there to find a husband or anything like that, I was there to work. You were very persistent in your course to get me, but I wouldn't let myself go because of how scared I was. I had limited experience where guys were concerned, and I was so embarrassed about the way I had attacked you in front of everyone. When you asked me out for real, I was actually exited, until I heard everyone talking about our little 'interlude on the porch.' I completely freaked out which is why I pushed you away so hard. I just wanted to explain to you before I tell you this next thing." Taylor told her to continue, she knew that she had his complete attention now.

"I didn't leave Berkeley because I missed my home or anything like that. I actually loved the campus and I desperately wanted to stay…but I couldn't." Taylor had to interrupt her there.

"Joanne, please don't torture yourself. I know that Seth is mine, I was just waiting to see if you were going to tell me." Joanne froze, fear flooding through her entire body.

"What do you mean you know, how do you and how long have you known?" Taylor sighed, trying to tread lightly.

"I've known since you let his age slip, I just did the math, Jo. It makes so much sense as to why you left, you'd have been about five months pregnant. Yes, I'm a little peeved that you didn't tell me for six years that I had a son, but I guess I have to put myself in your shoes. I'm glad that you want a relationship with me enough to tell me." Joanne felt some of the tension starting to leave, but she was afraid to hope.

"You mean you're not going to try to sue me for custody or anything?" Taylor chuckled.

"Is that really what you think I'd do to you or to my son? You've raised Seth by yourself for five whole years, and you had to go through the pregnancy alone. I'm not a monster, Jo, but I do have a demand where this whole thing is concerned." Joanne felt the fear gripping her again as fast as it had started to leave.

"You want visitation rights, don't you?" Taylor sighed.

"Don't you understand that I want you too? No, my demand is that you move up here like Kylie suggested, only the two of you would move in with me, not her. I've got enough rooms if you want your own, though I'd much prefer you to share mine. I want it all with you Joanne, and yes, that does include getting to know my son. Unfortunately, I will demand visitation rights if you don't move up here, and that can become costly. That means that you'd have to meet me at least halfway each time. The only thing that I don't like about that, is you wouldn't have him for a period of time. I'd much rather get to know him with you right there, so I could get to know you too." Joanne felt her mouth drop open and tears start falling form her eyes.

"So, basically you're telling me that I have to move in with you." Taylor groaned.

"You do not have to do anything, I would just like for you to move in with in me. It would make things so much easier for all of us, plus…I want you. I want all of you, Joanne." She knew that he was right, he did have a right to get to know Seth and she would prefer not to spend so much time without him. So, when she spoke her next words, she surprised them both.

"Okay…when do you want me to move in?"