Can a pornstar find love with a simple country boy?
“I don’t know, Bobby… are you sure I’ll like this?”
“Come on, Jaime. Don’t leave me hangin’ girl…”
“But, I’m not sure what to do?”
“It’s easy, babe. Just pretend it’s a big lollipop.”
Ever so slowly, Jaime began to stroke the massive cock in front of her. Her grasp was tentative and her hands trembled. She had never done anything like this before. As she began to lick the tip, a million questions and worries entered her mind. What if she wasn’t any good? What if she was too good, and this was all Bobby ever wanted to do with her? What if her parents caught them? Despite her fears, she slowly began to take his length in her mouth. Inch-by-inch, she began to engulf him, being careful not to bite or scratch his shaft in the process. A little pressure from her cheeks, and it wouldn’t be long before he-
In an instant, the entire cast and crew relaxed, setting their equipment aside for the moment.
“Bobby, that was perfect. Jaime, what the fuck was that?” the director snapped.
“What do you mean, Mr. Macho?”
“You’re one of the best cocksuckers in the business, and that’s the best you can do?! Gimmie a fuckin’ break!”
“I was trying to remain in character,” Jaime explained. “I may be a master of giving blowjobs, but the Jaime in this story is not. I wanted that to show in my portrayal of her.”
Rocco Macho sighed in exasperation. “Take ten, everyone. Jaime, walk with me,” he said, waving at her dismissively.
Jaime Little rolled her eyes, catching a look from Bob Shock, her costar. He knew as well as she did how impossible it was working with an asshole like Rocco Macho. Still, he paid well, better than almost anyone else in the porn industry. A contract with him was typically too lucrative to turn down, though Jaime was beginning to wonder if it was all worth it. Grabbing her pink, satin bathrobe and smoothing out the braided pigtails of her auburn hair, she sauntered down the hallway toward Rocco’s office. The tall man with poorly bronzed skin stood at his desk, head down in frustration.
“Come in, close the door,” he replied. “Trying to remain in character?! What the fuck is that, Jaime?!”
“An acting choice,” Jaime replied, trying to hide her incredulity.
“Acting choice,” Rocco snorted. “When are you gonna get it into your empty head? You’re not an actress; you’re a model! I pay you well to model on camera, say a few lines at my direction, and that’s it!”
“But if I can help improve the product-”
“NOT your call!” Rocco shouted. “This is my film, not yours. I call the shots. You don’t do anything without my say so. You piss when I tell you, breathe when I tell you, and fuck who I tell you. And if you’ve got a problem with that, we can just nullify your contract with my studio.”
“You can’t do that!” Jaime protested.
“Oh no? Read the fine print,” he countered, tossing a copy of the contract to her. “It’s in all my contracts. Section seven, paragraph three: any and all creative decisions are to be made by the director. Creative changes are not to be offered by the actors or crewmembers; the director will solicit their advice should it be needed. Any creative changes made by an actor during production, commonly referred to as ‘improvising’, can be considered a breach of contract.”
“Son of a bitch…” Jaime muttered.
“It’s all right there. I’ve got you for breach of contract with that little stunt you tried to pull out there. But hey, I’m a nice guy,” he continued, walking close to Jaime and placing a hand on her cheek. “I’ll let it slide this time, if you promise to be a good little fuckslut from now on. It’s the last day of filming, after all. No sense in destroying everything we’ve done so far, right? But make no mistake; I’ll yank your paycheck and everything you’ve got coming down the road if you so much as think of going off script. Is that clear?”
Jaime felt him tilt her head up by the chin to look him in the eyes. She didn’t immediately respond, still processing everything that was happening.
“I SAID IS THAT CLEAR, BITCH?!” Rocco roared, delivering a painful slap across her face.
Jaime stumbled to the floor, whimpering in pain. Taking a deep breath, she collected herself and stood to face Rocco.
“Yes, Mr. Macho. I understand,” she managed as she fought back tears.
“Good. Take five, get yourself cleaned up. You look disgusting,” Rocco said, pushing her out the door of his office.
Jaime hustled to her dressing room to straighten out her hair and clean her makeup. Standing in front of the floor mirror, she sighed at the image staring back at her. Jaime was, in a word, petite. She was not even five feet tall with long hair extending down to the middle of her back, which shimmered in the perfect shade of auburn. Her lithe, thin body was fit, supple, and milky white; Jaime had never been able to tan due to her Irish heritage. Her pretty, impish face was a sight to behold, barring the streaks of mascara beginning to form.
Taking a deep breath, Jaime mustered up as much courage as she could and returned to the set. She completed the rest of her shots as best as she was able, but her heart wasn’t in it anymore. Once they had wrapped, Bob made a halfhearted attempt to see if she was alright, but a glare from Rocco soon convinced him to leave her be. At last, as everyone was leaving for the day, Jaime found a moment of quiet solitude in her dressing room. Pulling out her cellphone, she dialed one of her most frequent contacts.
“Alexis? It’s Jaime. Can we meet up tonight? I really need someone to vent to.”
“He did WHAT?!”
“Oh my god… are you hurt in any way?” Alexis probed.
“No, I’m fine. He wasn’t trying to do any damage,” Jaime replied.
“Seriously, you need to think about suing him.”
“Are you insane?! He’s way too powerful! Besides, it’d just be my word against his; there’s no physical proof.”
“You’re saying nobody heard anything?”
Jaime shook her head. “No, his office is soundproofed. I figured it was mainly for… extracurricular activities, but it works for this, too.”
“Shit… there’s really nothing you can do?”
“Not that I can think of…”
The two young women sat for quite some time in the Starbucks, as they so often did. Three years ago, when Jaime had first moved out to California to start work as an adult film model, Alexis Forrest had been her first roommate and her only true friend. Being three years older than Jaime, Alexis had quite a bit of experience in the industry, helping her new friend learn the ropes and making sure she didn’t find herself in dangerous situations. As they sat across from each other, Jaime couldn’t help but laugh at how different they were: she, the short, petite Irish girl, and Alexis, the tall, curvy brunette with some of the largest natural tits in the business.
“Damn… I wish I could help you somehow,” Alexis muttered. “I’d gladly ask my producer to bring you on with his studio, but they’re producing big-tit and MILF films almost exclusively nowadays.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t be a good fit there,” Jaime admitted.
“I have to admit I’m pretty impressed that you’re still able to play the barely-legal roles at your age. I mean, you’re almost twenty-two, right?”
“Yep, in two months.” Leaning forward, Jaime said in a lower voice, “Can you keep a secret?”
“Of course, girlfriend!”
“I… I really hate playing these barely-legal roles. I know they’re super-popular and make great money, but I feel like I’m just pretend jailbait for all these pervs with secret fantasies about underage girls. I really wish I had a more womanly body, like yours. Then I could move on to more dignified roles.”
“I know what you mean, but it’s not all that and a bag of chips. Just because I can play more mature women doesn’t make the roles any more dignified. Let’s be honest; there’s not much about our work that helps our dignity!”
The two women shared a laugh at that one.
“All the same,” Alexis continued, “I do still love what I do, but what about you, Jaime? Are you still enjoying your time out here?”
“I mean… this has always been a means to an end for me. Work a few years, save up a bunch of money to strike out on my own, have some fun and see California in the process. That sort of thing.”
“I find it interesting that you didn’t say you love this work,” Alexis replied with a knowing grin.
“Yeah… I guess I’m not sure what I want. I know, I’m such a girl right?”
“How much do you have saved away?”
“A lot… more than I’m comfortable saying out loud,” Jaime said sheepishly.
“Seriously?” Alexis asked, her eyebrows shooting up.
“Yeah. I’ve lived on the cheap ever since I first arrived here in LA. Tiny apartment, no partying or drinking, home cooked meals…”
“And no boyfriends,” Alexis reminded her.
“There is that,” Jaime giggled.
Leaning forward, Alexis took Jaime’s hand from across the table. “Listen to me. You’re in the prime of your life, Jaime. I know you’re working hard and saving away money for the future, and that’s a wonderful thing. But we both know you aren’t enjoying life right now. If you keep going like this, especially after today, you’re going to have a complete burnout. It’s not about if, it’s about when.”
“You’re right, of course,” Jaime sighed.
“Start with a vacation. Get out of town, clear your head and think things over. Figure out exactly what you want to be doing everyday. Where are you most relaxed?”
“Well… I’ve always loved the beach, even though I don’t tan.”
“Oh, you poor thing. You’ve got a young, tight body and gorgeous red hair, but you can’t tan. It must be sooooo awful for you,” Alexis teased her.
“It is awful! It takes me twenty minutes just to apply sunscreen!” Jaime giggled.
“But seriously, that’s perfect. Take a couple of weeks, go to the beach, and see if you can gain some perspective on everything.”
“Only problem is the other people on the beach. Any of them along the California coast are gonna be filled with guys who’ll recognize me. At best, they’ll want an autograph, and at worst, they’ll expect me to fuck ‘em right then and there.”
“So go somewhere else!” Alexis said. “I used to vacation with my family all the time in the Florida panhandle growing up.”
“Florida?! With all those hicks and rednecks?!”
“Oh, grow up, Jaime. It’s not like you’re moving there permanently.”
“Yeah, but… all those tourists. Won’t someone recognize me?”
“I doubt it,” Alexis said. “This time of year, every beach is going to be packed, and Florida is about as far away from California as you can get. Nobody’s gonna be looking for a pornstar out there!”
“Guess that’s true.”
“Still, I’d stay away from Panama City; you’ll get claustrophobic around that many people,” Alexis advised, pulling out her phone. “Let’s see… here it is! We’d always go to Apalachicola for our family vacations. White sandy beaches, fewer people, but still close enough to civilization that there’s plenty to do.”
“Sounds perfect. I’ll check my budget at home tonight and by a plane ticket.”
“Jaime, this is gonna be just what you need. And who knows? Maybe you’ll hook up with a cute boy down south.”
“God, if only I were that lucky…”
“Good afternoon, Miss Little. How was the beach today?”
“Just perfect, thank you. I appreciate the tip on where to go; not nearly as many people out there as I was afraid there would be,” she told the hotel clerk.
“Oh, can you recommend a good spot for dinner within walking distance? Preferably somewhere that’ll let me wear my bikini top in lieu of a shirt.”
“Of course! If you turn right out of the hotel’s beach entrance and walk about a quarter mile, there’s a beach bar and grill named ‘Steve’s on the Bay’. Nice place, casual enough for beachwear, and great live music.”
“Sounds great! Thanks, Tiffany!”
Returning to her room for a bit, Jaime took a moment to make sure she hadn’t gotten sunburned too badly at the beach. To her relief, she appeared unscathed, thanks in no small part to the large umbrella she had purchased on her arrival. Discarding her beach towel, she slipped on a pair of blue daisy dukes to go with her canary-yellow bikini. A quick retying of her ponytail, and she was ready for an evening out.
The walk down the beach was pleasant and refreshing. A warm breeze blew off the Apalachicola Bay, helping with the June humidity of the Florida panhandle. As she had done throughout the day, Jaime made sure to keep her sunglasses on, warding off the possibility that someone might recognize her. Soon, the crowds began to grow and she could see a straw-roofed building over the next dune.
“Must be the place.”
Stepping inside the establishment, Jaime found it to be a bit nicer than she had expected. She wasn’t sure what she did expect, but not a warm atmosphere with a bar and tables made of faux driftwood. Various pictures adorned the wall behind the bar, depicting what Jaime assumed to be the owner with various high-profile visitors from over the years. Some she didn’t recognize, figuring them for country stars by the guitars and cowboy hats, but she did see pictures of Conan O’Brien and Anderson Cooper among them.
“Welcome to Steve’s!” said a middle-aged man with grey hair and a potbelly.
“Thanks,” Jaime replied, taking a seat at the bar. “Corona with lime, please.”
The man’s smile shrunk a bit. “Need to see some ID, little lady,” he said with his thick southern drawl.
“Of course!” she answered, quite used to this song and dance.
“Hmm.” The bartender inspected the California driver’s license for several long seconds. “Looks legit, but you’ll have to forgive my skepticism.”
“I completely understand,” Jaime replied. “I know I don’t look it, but I really am twenty-one.”
Eying her for a few seconds more, he said, “Yep, you sure are. I can always tell when someone’s lying to me. It’s what won me the down payment for this place in Texas Hold ‘Em, after all!”
“I believe it! You look like the last guy someone would want to meet in a poker tournament.”
“Here ya are, Corona with lime. Name’s Steve, by the by.”
“I assume you’re the Steve that owns the place?”
“For fifteen years now!”
“I can see. You’ve had some serious visitors over the years,” Jaime observed, pointing at the pictures on the wall.
“Yeah, there’s Tim McGraw, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney…”
“Who, who, and who?” Jaime giggled.
“Yeah, you ain’t from around here. I’m guessing country music ain’t too big out in California?”
“Certainly not in LA.”
“That’s too bad. You got no idea what you’re missing. Course that may not last too long.”
“Band’s settin’ up,” Steve said, pointing to the stage. “And my son’s the lead singer. If anyone can make you a country fan, it’s him.”
Before Jaime could even think of a reply, the band struck up the bluegrass opening of Zac Brown Band’s The Wind. As they vamped over the opening chords, the lead singer stepped up to the mic to introduce the group.
“Evening folks, I’m Craig McNeal, lead vocals, guitar, and mandolin. That’s Sarah on fiddle, James on electric guitar, Antonio on bass, Audrey on keyboard, and Sean on the drums. And we are…”
“The Bums You Wanna Know!” the band shouted in unison.
“Gonna start ya off with some Zac Brown Band,” Craig continued. “Enjoy!”
Jaime was mesmerized as the band launched into the tongue-twisting lyrics of the song. She fully expected a bunch of old, toothless rednecks in wife-beaters and overalls. Instead, she saw six people only a bit older than her who appeared… normal. Hearing the excitement in their performance, Jaime felt invigorated for the first time in a long time. She was experiencing something new and different that she never would have seen otherwise, and she loved it. By the end of the first chorus, she managed to slow down and actually listen to the story the song was telling.
The city lights will light the country sky
We’re staring at the stars turned upside down
I wish I may, I wish I might
Find it in your heart to stick around
I hate it had to end this way
Tomorrow is a brand new day
And the chances of seeing love
Are precious few
If someone’s out there waiting
For a sweet good time and a lady
To make you smile like I always wanted to
Where the wind blows babe
You can bet
I’ll be riding high with it
Holding on for my dear life
Just like I always did
Close your eyes babe
Take a breath, say my name
And I’ll be there
My love will find you anywhere
Anywhere my love
It dawned on Jaime the dichotomy of the song: the peppy, upbeat music masked the sorrowful lyrics. The music excited her, but it was also a sad tune of unrequited love. Either the writer dwells on it to his detriment, or allows the wind to move him on to wherever his next destination may be. Yet even in moving on, he knows she will always be his true love.
“Huh… who knew country music was so deep?” Jaime mused.
“Sounds like Craig’s got him a new fan,” Steve chuckled as he wiped a glass dry.
“Maybe… hey Steve, what do you recommend to eat?”
“Definitely our Cheeseburger in Paradise,” he replied. “Normally, we wouldn’t be allowed to sell it under that name; Jimmy Buffett’s got it trademarked for his song and restaurant chain. But after he came here and tasted mine, he said if any burger was worthy of the name, this was it.”
“Hmm, not really on my normal diet… oh fuck it. I’m on vacation!”
“That’s the spirit! How ya take it?”
“Medium-well with a slice of cheddar.”
“Comin’ right up!” Steve said, heading for the kitchen.
Jaime sat back and continued to listen to the band. In particular, she was drawn to Craig, the lead singer. He looked like the typical boy-next-door, with his cropped black hair and clean-shaven face. His white skin had a slight tan to it, but he clearly didn’t spend too much time in the sun. Still, the most striking thing about him was the sheer enjoyment on his face as he performed. When he and his band mates got into a zone, it was as if there was no audience at all. They were just playing to have a hell of a good time.
Not to mention he’s cute as holy hell, Jaime thought.
As Jaime munched on her burger and fries, Steve made his rounds to the bar and tables, chatting up a few of the regulars. Every so often, he’d work back around to her stool to check in on her. Normally, Jaime stayed alert for creepy older men, but Steve seemed to only be keeping an eye on a young female on her own in a popular vacation spot. He kept up conversation with her, asking what she did in California. She of course kept the details to a minimum, saying she was a small fish in the film industry, working as needed until she saved up enough to strike out on her own.
“And what does striking out mean?” Steve inquired.
“I’m still figuring that out,” Jaime giggled. “But I have to admit that Florida’s growing on me.”
“As long as you can handle hurricane season, it’s a fantastic place to live.”
“How goes it, Dad?” came a voice.
“Craig! Great set tonight,” Steve replied, fist-bumping his son. “Y’all playin’ again later tonight?”
“Nope, got another local band closing out the evening.” Smelling the remnants of Jaime’s dinner, he smiled and said, “Ooh, that smells good… I’ll have what she’s having!”
“Cheeseburger in Paradise. Order up!” Steve shouted to the kitchen. “By the way, he’s single,” he winked at Jaime before walking off.
“Dad!” Craig whined.
Jaime giggled at the exchange. “You’re dad’s pretty great.”
“Yeah, just don’t get him started on his dad jokes. Name’s Craig.”
“Jaime. A pleasure,” she replied, shaking his hand as he sat next to her. “Nice job up there. Have to admit, I’ve never been a country fan until tonight. This was my first real exposure to it.”
“Cool. Where ya from that don’t have much country music?”
“Los Angeles,” Jaime said, slipping off her sunglasses to get a better look at him.
“Hollywood. I wish they all could be California Girls!” he crooned in a poor imitation of the Beach Boys.
“Oh god, stick to country,” Jaime teased him.
“Fair enough. How long you in town for?”
“Couple of weeks. I needed a serious vacation from the west coast.”
“Really? But Florida’s not that much different. It’s hot down here too.”
“Yeah, but there are other differences.”
“Such as?” Craig inquired.
“Let’s just say the people in California, and LA in particular can get pretty… superficial,” Jaime replied. “But then I come out here, and I see good, honest, people that welcome a never-ending stream of tourists with open arms.”
“As long as they pay well,” Craig joked.
“You know what I mean!” Jaime laughed.
“Yeah I do, at least about the locals around here. But what about LA? You just gettin’ tired of the culture out there, or did something specific happen to make you want to get the hell out for a while?”
“Um… a little of both, to be honest.”
Sighing, Jaime felt the desire to open up to him a bit. “I work… on the crew of an indie film project. It’s good exposure, but the director can be kind of a terror. Anal, obsessive-compulsive, that sort of thing.”
“I know the type.”
“Anyway, when I tried to take initiative recently, he was less than thrilled. He… got a little physical to remind me who was in charge of the project.”
“How physical are we talking?” Craig asked, his face turning serious.
“Well… he slapped me. Not hard, but enough to hurt.”
Craig leaned forward, placing his hand on hers. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah. It was nothing, really. Just his way of keeping things in line.”
“That sort of thing is never nothing,” Craig fired back angrily. “The single most cowardly thing a man can do is hit a woman. Period.”
“It’s not like I can do anything about it. No witnesses, no proof, not even any physical marks on me. Besides, he’s rich and powerful; his connections would protect him from any legal ramifications.”
Craig snorted. “He’s just lucky I wasn’t around, or I’d have shown him the light.”
“That’s sweet, but you just met me. How do you know I’m worth fighting for?” Jaime asked.
“Don’t have to know ya. My momma raised me to love and respect women, and to defend them from anyone who would so much as think of raising a hand to them. Not that I see women as helpless little flowers incapable of defending themselves.”
“Well, maybe with some of the women down here who know how to hunt and everything, but I don’t think anyone would mistake me for tough.”
“Don’t sell yourself short,” Craig grinned. “Some of the toughest gals I’ve ever met were tiny little things. It’s not about size; it’s about mindset. Attitude.”
“And you think I could learn to have that kind of mindset?”
Jaime smiled, noticing that his hand was still touching hers. To say that she was smitten with Craig would be an understatement. He was more than just the cute, all-American guy; he was sweet and down-to-earth to boot. Seeking a bit more physical contact with him, she slid her hand out from under his and placed it on his forearm, tracing her fingers up to the sleeve of his t-shirt. He blushed a bit at this attention, though that did nothing to deter her. Just as she was about to lean in closer, a voice interrupted her thoughts.
“Holy shit, it’s her! It’s Jaime Little!”
“Dude, you’re right! What’s she doin’ HERE?!”
Jaime spun her head to find at the source of the voices, a look of panic on her face. She reached back to her spot at the bar, scrambling to find her sunglasses, but fumbled and dropped them to the floor. By now, the two college boys who noticed her had made their way over to Craig.
“You lucky bastard! You’re gonna get laid tonight!” one said.
“What the hell are you doing?” Craig growled at their intrusion.
“Don’t be mad, just wanted to make sure you knew who you’re talkin’ to. This chick is Jaime Little, one of the hottest pornstars on the scene right now!” the other replied.
“Yeah man, I hear her blowjobs are legendary! She’s the best cocksucker in the world!”
At this, Jaime could stand no more. She was busted. Hopping down from her barstool, she made a B-line for the exit, trying to put as much distance between her and the restaurant as she could. Craig sat in stunned silence for a moment before glaring at the two boys.
“The hell is your problem?!”
“What? If she ran off like that, she wasn’t gonna fuck you anyway,” one of the boys said, holding his hands up in innocence.
“You think I care about THAT?! How could you talk to ANY girl like that?!” Craig shouted.
“Craig, I’ll handle this,” Steve said from behind the bar. “I believe the little lady dropped her sunglasses. You’d best go return ‘em, Son.”
“Will do,” Craig replied, grabbing her glasses from the floor and running off after her.
Steve turned to the two college boys with a stern expression. “You’ll be leaving now.”
“What? We just got here!” they protested.
“You came into my bar and called one of my customers a ‘cocksucker’! Get the hell outta here, ‘fore I call the law! Or should I inspect your ID cards a bit closer?”
They didn’t need to be told twice and beat a hasty retreat away from Steve, resulting in a round of applause from the patrons.
Jaime sobbed as she dashed across the sand, barely managing to wipe enough tears away to be able to see where she was going. At last, she came across an abandoned beach chair, flopping down on her knees and burying her face in the seat. As she bawled her eyes out, she soon felt a firm hand on her shoulder. Looking up, she saw that Craig had followed her from the bar.
“You, uh, forgot your sunglasses,” he said, handing them to her.
“Thank you,” Jaime replied, trying her best to compose herself.
“Jaime, I’m so sorry for what happened back there. There’s no excuse for those assholes.”
“It’s fine. I really should get going.”
“Why? Because of what they said? I don’t give a damn what they make up about you.”
Jaime sighed, hiding her face with her hand. “What if they didn’t make it up?”
Craig didn’t respond at first, taking in the implications of her question. “Are you saying what they said is true?”
“Yes. I… I really am an adult film star,” she admitted. “Best little cocksucker in the business…”
“I don’t care what you do for a living, no girl deserves to be talked to or about like that,” Craig said firmly. “I don’t care if what they said is true, those asses had no right to do what they did.”
“That’s sweet. At least now I know which kind of guy you are,” she muttered sarcastically.
“What do you mean?”
“When guys find out what I do for a living, they always fall into two categories,” Jaime said. “Either they’re disgusted and run away screaming, or they get turned on and expect to get lucky. And you haven’t run away screaming.”
“Why do you think those are the only two categories?” Craig fired back, a bit insulted by her insinuation.
“I… um…” Jaime stammered, realizing what she had accused him of.
“I mean, I believe what you’re saying when it comes to guys out in LA, but things work a little differently down here, at least with guys like me. I’m still processing the fact of what you do for a living, but nothing is gonna cause me to treat you like shit. Neither do I have any expectations about what I’m gonna ‘get’ from you. That’s not how I operate.”
With an inquisitive look on her face, Jaime asked, “And how do you operate?”
Craig shrugged. “You’re a person first and foremost. That’s how I treat anyone I meet.”
“So you aren’t running away, but you also don’t expect to get lucky? Even knowing I’m a pornstar?”
“Nope. I meant what I said earlier: my momma raised me to love and respect women. I’m incapable of that kind of expectation.”
Holy shit… is this guy for real?
Staring off into the sunset, Jaime began to question all her preconceived notions: guys, this part of the country, love in general. Three years ago, she had thought moving to LA would make her worldly and experienced. Now, she began to realize how much of a bubble she had been living in the entire time. She knew she couldn’t date her costars without it being awkward, and every other man she had met out west was either gay or only wanted the one thing. But here, in an area of the country that she normally wouldn’t be caught dead in, she had found a man that seemed different in every way imaginable.
“I’m… I’m sorry for what I said,” Jaime finally replied. “I shouldn’t have accused you like that.”
“Apology accepted,” he grinned. “Based on what you’ve said about your time in LA, I can’t really blame you for jumping to that conclusion.”
“Yeah, I can’t believe decent guys actually exist. Well, they exist in LA, but every last one of ‘em is gay.” Jaime glanced at Craig for a moment before continuing, “You’re not gay… are you?”
“I am very, very straight,” Craig laughed.
“Thought as much by your reaction when I touched your arm earlier,” she giggled.
“Well yeah, it looked like you were about to kiss me!”
“I might have,” Jaime said wistfully. “Guess that’s out the window now.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Come on, Craig. You’re an honest, genuine guy. You deserve better than to get involved with a girl like me.”
“You mean someone sweet and funny who’s nice to my dad? Naw, why would I ever be attracted to that?!”
“I’m serious Craig!” Jaime said through a laugh. “It’s so flattering to get attention from a great guy like you, but I don’t want to lead you on. I’m… kind of damaged goods.”
“Didn’t I already tell ya to stop talkin’ about yourself like that?”
“I do have a stubborn streak.”
“And so do I,” Craig fired back. “This is what I was talkin’ about earlier with that dickhead director of yours.”
“How do you mean?”
“Just because you’re a tiny girl doesn’t mean you can’t be tough or intimidating. It comes down to attitude and mindset. The opposite is also true. You seem to have some problems with self-worth, and I guarantee your boss picked up on that. He thinks you an easy target.”
“But he had me in breach of contract. That’s what started the confrontation. Attitude doesn’t change that.”
“No, but it might change his reaction to it,” Craig said. “Tell me, who is your idol in your line of work? Who do you try to emulate when you’re on set?”
“Well, I’ve always been a big fan of Nina Hartley,” Jaime said. “She’s been in the business for decades. Even though she’s approaching sixty, she’s still beautiful, charming, sophisticated, and has a quiet strength to her. She’s kinda my hero.”
“And how do you think the same situation would have played out between the director and Nina?”
Jaime thought a moment before responding. “She would have understood his reasons for objecting but would demand a respectful, polite approach to it.”
“Exactly. I bet she also wouldn’t have allowed the director to be alone with her in his office. Too many unknown variables.”
“I see… I guess I was pretty stupid to follow him.”
“Not at all,” Craig replied. “He took advantage of your trusting nature. It’s unfortunate how it ended up, but you won’t ever allow yourself to be put in that position again. He’s still the one in the wrong, Jaime.”
“So, if I take responsibility for the facts of the situation but refuse to back down in regards to the circumstances…”
“You show everyone you’re tough, smart, and mature all at the same time.”
“I like the sound of that… it’s gonna be a while before I’m there, though.”
“These things take time, Jaime. Positive changes never happen overnight.”
They sat in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Craig spoke. “So, would it be alright if I ask a question?”
“Of course,” Jaime grinned.
“Why porn? What got you into that to begin with?”
Jaime nodded. “It’s a fair question. First, some background. I never knew my parents. My mom gave birth and left me on the doorstep of an orphanage in Portland. The nuns raised me my entire childhood.”
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“It’s ok,” she shrugged. “Given that my mom so easily left me there, it was probably a better situation than her trying to raise me. Anyway, I was never a problem child there, did pretty well in school, but not quite good enough to gain any scholarships for college. Given that it was a Catholic orphanage, you can imagine how the nuns handled things once the girls started coming of age.”
“Don’t touch yourself or you go to Hell?”
“Pretty much. Didn’t stop me, though that was all I did at the time. Some of the girls went a little crazy, sneaking out to have sex with their boyfriends. Hell, one girl got caught with a college student in her bed at the orphanage!”
“Yikes. The nuns’ teaching methods might have been lacking, but you’ve gotta be a special kind of stupid to try somethin’ like that!” Craig laughed.
“Damn straight! Anyway, as I approached graduation, my dream was to be a fashion model. I know, so original. I had a nice portfolio put together by my girlfriend from high school, so I figured I had a shot. After graduation, I moved south to LA to look for modeling work. That’s when the harsh reality set in. No modeling agency wanted anything to do with me. I’m too small.”
“Too small? Even to be a petite model?”
“Yep. Basically, they want all models to be tall, no less than 5”9’, just different weights between petite, normal, and plus. I never had a shot.”
“Well that’s bullshit; petite women are naturally gonna be shorter!” Craig protested.
“I know this and you know this. Anyway, one of the agents I met with gave me the name of an acquaintance of his that might be able to offer me some steady work for good pay. I met with this acquaintance, only to discover it was an interview for nude modeling. It scared me at first, but I was desperate and broke, so I went for it. I did so well at it that they suggested I try having sex on camera. They said the money was even better. Again, I was scared, but decided to try it out, always intending to stockpile money away so I could retire in a few years and strike out on my own. Three years later, here we are.”
“Wow… I’m really sorry.”
“You’re sweet, but don’t be. I’m not. I mean, I don’t want to make a living having sex on camera, but it’s just a means to an end for me. And as well as I’m doing, I have no regrets,” Jaime said.
“Even so, these agents and directors disgust me. I know you had a choice and all, but they still prey on desperate young women,” Craig replied.
“Yeah, some of them are scum,” Jaime mused. Looking at her watch, she said, “I probably should get going back to my hotel.”
“Sure. Um, would it be ok if I walk ya home?”
Jaime flashed a megawatt smile. “I’d like that.”
The pair strolled along the beach at a leisurely pace, neither in a hurry for their time together to end. As they went, Jaime decided to slip her tiny hand into Craig’s, intertwining her fingers with his. He said nothing at this, but his eyes definitely lit up. After a few moments, he spoke.
“I know you said before you didn’t want to lead me on. With that in mind, what does this mean?” Craig asked, pointing at their hands.
Jaime sighed. “It means… I don’t know for sure what it means, Craig. But I know I couldn’t lead you on if I wanted to. I guess in simplest terms, it means I don’t want this night to be over.”
“I’d have to agree with that sentiment.”
“It’s kind of a scary thought for me. Craig, I’ve never felt this way about a guy before. I’ve had sex with God-only-knows how many men, but I’ve never been so… flustered.”
Craig grinned. “At least now I know you’re not leading me on.”
“How do you know that?”
“The way you’re talking is how Dad described his first date with Mom all those years ago, minus the God-only-knows how many men you’ve had sex with part, of course,” he laughed.
“Aww, that’s so sweet!” she gushed.
By now, they were approaching the entrance of Jaime’s hotel. She continued to grip Craig’s hand tightly, not wanting him to leave her side. Standing outside the door to the lobby, they locked eyes for several long moments. Jaime bit her lower lip before speaking.
“It’s still… kind of early, and I heard you say you don’t have to play another set at your dad’s place. Would you… want to come up for a while?”
Craig grimaced. “I am sorely tempted to take that offer, but I think it best if I don’t for tonight.”
“I see,” she replied quickly, seeing where this was going. “Craig, if you aren’t interested in me, you only have to say so.”
As Jaime turned to go inside, she felt Craig’s strong hand on her shoulder turn her back to face him.
“I am interested in you Jaime. Good lord, I haven’t been this attracted to a woman in years! But in my mind, there’s a proper order to these things.”
“Huh?” she asked, cocking her head.
“A man like me always wants to take a woman out on at least one proper date before accepting an invitation to her room, see?”
Jaime’s jaw dropped a bit and a smile spread across her lips. “Are you asking me out on a date?”
“That I am.”
“As in, you want to parade me around in public? You wouldn’t be embarrassed if someone else recognized me?”
“They can think whatever they want, don’t mean I give a damn. Whatcha say?”
“Wow… I’ve never actually been on a real date. I’d love to!”
“Great! I can take care of the arrangements, since I know this town. When ya thinking? Maybe tomorrow evening?” Craig asked, barely managing to contain his excitement.
“Honestly, I’d love to just spend the whole day with you tomorrow. But please, don’t spend too much; I’m perfectly content lounging on the beach.”
“Fair enough, but I still got an idea or two. I do have to help dad until about midnight, so how bout I swing by here around ten in the morning?”
“Sounds awesome. Oh, do I need to dress any particular way for your mysterious arrangements?” Jaime asked, twirling her auburn hair in her fingers.
“Maybe, but I gotta make a call first. Can I let ya know for sure tomorrow?”
“Sure! Tell you what, come by my room when you get here, and you can make sure I’m dressed appropriately for… whatever it is you have in mind. Room 607, ok?”
“Room 607, 10 am. I’ll be there,” Craig repeated, turning to leave.
As he turned back to her, Jaime sauntered up to Craig and placed her hands on his broad shoulders.
“For the moment, screw the proper order of things,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Jaime pushed up on her tip toes and reached with all five feet of her body, cupping Craig’s face in her hands to bring his 5”9’ body within range. After a few delicious and agonizing moments of tension, she met his lips with hers, feeling his arms slip around her back in the process. Their closed-mouth kiss was not passionate or lustful, but quite electric all the same; Jaime had to force her eyes shut so they did not bulge from the sensations she was feeling. After a few seconds, she withdrew and returned to earth with a smile on her face.
“Oh my god… you’re something else,” she muttered, running her thumb across Craig’s cheek.
“Uh huh,” he replied, still flushed from her kiss.
“Night, cutie!” Jaime squealed, bouncing up for one last peck on the lips before dashing inside, giggling all the way.
“Damn… did that just happen?” Craig wondered.
“I’m headin’ out, Dad. Probably be gone all day.”
“That Jaime girl from last night?” Steve chuckled.
“Yes, Dad,” Craig sighed, knowing he’d never hear the end of it.
“I knew it!” Steve cheered. “Oh, I meant to check in with ya. Is she ok? Those boys last night were sayin’ some awful things bout her.”
“Yeah, she’s better now. She was pretty upset at first, though.”
“I can imagine, what with the shit they were makin’ up!” Catching an odd look on his son’s face, Steve continued, “They did make it up, right?”
“Ah, say no more. You never could lie to me, Craig. It’s true, ain’t it?” When Craig didn’t reply, Steve said, “Listen, she seems like a real sweetheart, and you’re a grown man, but please be careful. If it’s true, the last thing you need is-”
“I got it, Dad. No worries, I know how to use a condom,” Craig replied, punching his dad in the shoulder. “Thanks.”
“Anytime. Now go on, get!”
After a quick phone call in his car to confirm his activity plans, Craig made the short drive over to Jaime’s hotel. Arriving in the lobby, he was greeted by a bubbly blonde at the reception desk.
“Morning! My name’s Tiffany. You checking in?”
“Nah, visiting a friend. Room 607,” Craig replied.
“Mmm, here to see Jaime? Would you possibly be the reason she came home last night giggling like it was Christmas morning?” Tiffany inquired with a sly look.
Craig blushed at this. “Maybe.”
“Well, she is precious. One sec, I just need to buzz her room. Hotel policy.” A moment later, she hung up the phone and said, “Yep, she’s expecting you. Elevator is down on the left, sixth floor.”
After a short elevator ride, Craig stood at her door, his hands sweaty and trembling. Taking a deep breath, he knocked softly.
“Hey, you!” Jaime said as she opened the door. “Come on in!”
“Thanks,” Craig replied, stepping into the hotel room.
Jaime moved to her open suitcase next to the TV stand. As she rummaged through it, Craig couldn’t help but stare at her slim, sexy form. She wore a pink tank top and a pair of gym shorts, though she appeared to still be deciding what to wear for the day. The sight of her red hair in a long, loose braid was more than enough to cause an awakening south of the border.
“So I’ve got my bikini on underneath, but I wasn’t sure what to wear to start the day. What do you recommend?” Jaime asked.
“Tank top is good, but you’ll probably want some khaki shorts to start the day, and a pair of tennis shoes. I’ve got my backpack, so feel free to throw some flip flops in with my stuff.”
“Cool. How much are we going to be outdoors? I burn really bad.”
“Toss your sunscreen in too, and bring a hat. If we go to the beach later, we can swing by here and grab your umbrella if you like.”
“Sweet!” she said, slipping off her gym shorts.
“Woah! Sorry, didn’t know you were gonna do that!” Craig laughed, turning the other way.
“Relax, silly. It’s just my bikini bottoms,” Jaime teased him.
“Oh. Good point.”
After slipping on a pair of khaki shorts and tennis shoes, Jaime grabbed a wide-brimmed straw sun hat. Even when she covered herself, Craig couldn’t see her as anything but the most captivating woman he’d ever met. Down in his car, Jaime applied sunscreen to her limbs and shoulders while Craig drove.
“Are we heading towards Panama City?” Jaime asked.
“Nope. Goin’ to Cape San Blas.”
“What’s out there?”
“You’ll see,” Craig grinned.
“Ooh, so mysterious. Ok, you know one of my big secrets, so now it’s your turn to tell me one of yours. What’s something odd or eccentric about you?”
“Oh come on…”
“Pleeeeeeease?” she pleaded with a pitiful look on her face.
“Fine. It’s embarrassing, but I still have all my Power Rangers action figures from when I was a kid. Full setup with action poses on my dresser,” Craig said.
“Cool! That’s nothing to be embarrassed about!”
Jaime giggled. “Back in high school, I never rolled with the popular crowd. I hung with the D&D kids, played Magic: The Gathering during lunch, and even today I spend most of my evenings playing video games. I’m a huge nerd!”
“You’re bullshittin’ me!”
“Swear to God. Even brought my Playstation with me, and I’m not talking about my favorite vibrator.”
“Nice! What kinds of games do you play?” Craig asked.
“Zelda, Uncharted, Tomb Raider, anything with puzzles or a great story.”
“Damn… you do know how rare and awesome a girl like you is, right?”
“One that likes video games? Yeah, most guys either don’t care or just don’t like gamer girls at all.”
“Not me. I think there are few things sexier than a girl who’s not afraid to hold her own in gaming.”
“Especially if she’s also a pornstar?” Jaime giggled.
“I didn’t say that.”
“Don’t worry, just teasing you,” she said, brushing her hand against his.
“Here we are,” Craig replied, pointing to a building ahead of them.
Looking at the sign, Jaime read, “Broke-a-toe horseback riding. Oh my god, we’re going horseback riding?!”
“Not just that; we’re going horseback riding on the beach.”
Jaime squealed with delight, bouncing up and down in her seat with pure giddiness.
“I LOVE horses! How did you know?”
“Didn’t know, but what all-American girl wouldn’t love horses?” Craig replied. “I’ve been coming here since I was a kid. This place is run by a gal named Kelly and her two daughters, Hayley and Nicole. Sweet bunch, I tell you what. I actually had a crush on Hayley once up on a time.”
“Aww, unrequited affection?” Jaime asked.
“Somethin’ like that. She was never single; married her high school sweetheart, and now they got a little one of their own. But I’ve been coming here for so long that Kelly lets me take a horse out unguided whenever I want. We can have our own private ride, if you like.”
“Morning, Craig!” said an attractive brunette in her early fifties as they entered.
“Kelly, how’re the girls?” Craig replied, giving her a quick hug.
“Doin’ alright. Nicole is getting your horses ready right now.”
“Craig?” came a voice from the back room. Soon, a girl with chestnut hair emerged with a baby in her arms. “Hey! Great to see you!”
“Well look at that, Hayley and her little one!”
“Yep, our little Sophia. Say hi to Mister Craig!”
“Oh, Jaime, this is Kelly and Hayley, two of the owners. Ladies, my friend, Jaime,” Craig said.
“Nice to have ya,” Kelly said, shaking Jaime’s hand.
“Great to be here! Craig sure knows how to surprise a girl.”
“So I see,” Hayley replied with a sly look.
“Well look at you, Sophia!” Jaime cooed, turning her attention to the baby, who promptly giggled at her.
“Well I’ll be, seems she likes ya, Jaime. Wanna hold her?” Hayley asked.
“Here you go. Mind her head.”
Craig stood back, smiling as he watched the scene unfold. As if Jaime wasn’t attractive enough already, now she was smiling as she held a tiny human in her arms. It wasn’t a far stretch from that for him to imagine her holding their baby, which only served to distract him even more.
“Hey,” Kelly said softly, elbowing Craig.
“I see that look in your eye,” she said with a smirk.
“Dunno what you mean.”
“Bull. You’ve got it bad for her, don’t ya?”
Craig just shrugged as Jaime returned the baby to her mom.
“Horses are ready! Let’s saddle up!” a voice called from outside.
“Jaime, you ready?” Craig asked.
“Let’s do it!”
Outside, Nicole introduced them to their horses, Sweet Tea and Little Man. While Craig was quite familiar with this setup, Jaime was excited by every little detail, the bridle, saddle, and reins. Thus, it made for a hilarious and awkward moment when she inquired about the bag strapped onto the horse’s backside. Nicole explained it’s purpose for when the horse goes Number Two while Craig tried in desperation to hold his laughter in.
“We ready to head out?” Craig asked.
“Almost. We had a family sign up at the last minute, gotta get their horses over here for ‘em. Sorry, Craig. I know you were hoping for a nice, private ride,” Nicole replied.
“Ah, it’s cool. Y’all gotta make a living, after all!”
By now, a family of three had arrived: a mom, a dad, and their daughter of about fifteen. While the parents appeared excited, the daughter was being a typical teenager, rolling her eyes at everything. After a quick tutorial from Nicole, everyone saddled up and started out on the trail.
The caravan had quite the view for their ride. The sun shone bright in the late morning sky, yet a steady breeze blew off the gulf, helping to keep the riders somewhat cool. Nicole led the way, followed by the two parents riding side-by-side. Their daughter had lingered to ride alongside with Jaime while Craig brought up the rear.
“You look excited,” the teenager mentioned.
“I am! I’ve never ridden a horse on the beach before,” Jaime replied with a smile.
“That’s cool… I’m Andrea, by the way.”
“Jaime. Good to meet you!”
“I guess it is pretty nice out here,” Andrea remarked. Lowering her voice, she leaned over to Jaime and continued, “But I’d rather be hookin’ up with all the hot boys on the beach.”
Deciding to take a page from Craig’s playbook, Jaime replied, “Yeah I’ve been there and done that, but… it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“I mean, yeah, the boys were super cute, but not a damn one respected me at all; I was just a random hookup to them.”
“But weren’t they the same for you?” Andrea asked.
“I thought so… until we were done. I felt so used. There was no intimacy, no emotion to enhance the experience.”
“I guess that makes sense, but I’m sure we’ll meet better guys when we finally turn twenty-one and can get into bars.”
Jaime smirked. “I am twenty-one.”
Andrea gave a look.
“Seriously, I am. I know I don’t look it.”
“Wow… you don’t look a day over seventeen!”
“It’s a blessing and a curse. I’m sure I’ll age gracefully, but I always get the third degree whenever someone checks my ID.”
“I can see how that’d get old,” Andrea said. “But again, the guys have to be better.”
“Not really,” Jaime replied. “The setting doesn’t matter so much; crappy guys are still crappy guys. I’ve been learning the hard way to look for the right ones.”
“How do you tell the difference?”
“For one, they’re probably guys you’ve overlooked before; I know I have. They’re usually cute, but not the gorgeous hotties you’re talking about. They’re quieter and more unassuming, but once you get them talking, their true personalities shine through. Above all, they’re guys who respect all women, and not just for their looks. Oh, they appreciate a beautiful woman, make no mistake about that, but they want so much more than that. Trust me, you find a guy who’s interested in you as a person, who wants to know how you think and cares about how you treat others, and you’ve found a keeper.”
“Interesting… and I’m guessing this guy behind is isn’t your big brother?”
“Nope, he’s mine, so back off bitch!” Jaime replied, eliciting a giggle from both of them.
Andrea’s parents were far enough ahead of them that they hadn’t heard the exchange, but Craig heard everything in spite of their hushed voices. A moment later, Jaime turned her head and winked at him from under her straw hat; he smiled and nodded his approval. Eventually, Nicole brought the group to a halt near the end of the route.
“Here we are. Craig, y’all good?” she asked.
“Sure are. Thanks, Nicole. We’ll see ya back at home!”
“Wait, what’s going on?” Jaime asked him.
“You and I are getting off here,” Craig grinned.
“There’s a hitchin’ post there you can tie your horses up to,” Nicole said. “Picnic basket is waiting for you on the beach, Craig.”
“Picnic basket?! You sneaky bastard!” Jaime said to Craig.
“I mean, if you don’t want to have a nice, intimate lunch with me on the beach, feel free to keep riding,” Craig smirked.
“Shut up and help me off this thing,” Jaime replied, sticking her tongue out at him.
After helping Jaime out of her saddle, Craig opened the picnic basket and began to unpack the blanket and food. Jaime took a moment to jog over to Nicole and say something to her, probably thanking her for setting this up, he figured. Soon, she plopped down on the blanket next to him to inspect their lunch.
“So, what fancy meal has Craig McNeal prepared for us today?”
“The grand delicacy of PB&J, Ruffles, and water canteens,” he replied in as fancy an accent as he could muster. “I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I could come up with for the setting.”
“Craig, please. This is the sweetest thing anyone’s ever done for me in my life. I don’t care that it’s just PB&J; I care that you thought it all up just for me,” Jaime replied, kissing him on the cheek. As they dug into their food, she continued, “So, there’s something I’ve been wondering since last night.”
“What’s that?” Craig managed through a mouthful of sandwich.
“You’re obviously super talented at music and have a real flair for country. Why are you here in Florida instead of Nashville?”
Swallowing his bite, Craig replied, “I was in Nashville for a while. Went to Belmont University and graduated with a mind to do just that, make my career in Nashville. Came close to a recording contract at that. But then… I had to leave. I had to come back here.”
“What for?” Jaime prodded, sensing him trying to open up.
“Because… Mom got sick.”
Jaime’s eyebrows rose at this. “What kind of sick?”
“Ovarian cancer; very advanced. There weren’t any symptoms to pick up on for such a long time that by the time the doctors detected it… it was too late. They couldn’t treat it, it was inoperable, and all they could do was manage her pain. Mom lasted another three months.” After a moment to compose himself, Craig continued, “Mom and Dad had been in business together since opening the bar and grill. Dad was the heart and soul of the place, but Mom was the brains of the outfit. She ran the business side of things, advertisements, accounting and whatnot. That was never Dad’s strength, and after she got sick, he started drowning in the logistics of it all. I came down and kind of took over for Mom. Bein’ your own agent in Nashville means you quickly develop a knack for business, after all.”
“I know exactly what you mean,” Jaime said, remembering her early days in LA.
“After Mom passed, Dad was dangerously close to a free-fall. I couldn’t leave him here alone, so I made peace with the facts. My dreams of a career in Nashville were done. Family comes first.”
Jaime slid close to him, placing a hand on his and laying her head on his shoulder. “I’m so sorry.”
“Me too. But Dad’s been doin’ way better over the last couple years. And Mom… I know everything’s goin’ great for her. She’s in a better place, after all.”
Turning her head, Jaime gazed into his eyes, seeing nothing but sincerity within them. “You really believe that, don’t you?”
“I have to. It’s what gets me up every morning. I know your upbringing probably turned you off to a lot of religious concepts, not that I can blame ya, but I can feel in my bones there is a Heaven. Without it, life has no higher purpose. It’d be nothing more than the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, and once you’re dead, you’re dead. I just can’t think that’s all there is to our existence.”
“I know what you mean. That’s partly why I’m starting to get sick of LA. So many people out there are just so… hedonistic. Your line about pleasure and pain describes them to the letter. Not everyone out there is like that, but a hell of a lot more than I’d like to think.”
“I’m glad you haven’t given in to that lifestyle,” Craig grinned, lifting her hat to kiss her on the forehead.
“But I’m a pornstar, right? How does that not describe me? I’m living a sinful, self-indulgent life.”
“I’m gonna let ya in on a little secret: we all live sinful, imperfect lives, myself included. It’s just our fallen nature.”
“Except your mom, right?” Jaime grinned.
“Oh no, she made mistakes to be sure. We all fall short of the glory of God; my mom was no exception.”
“But then… how is she in a better place, as you say?”
“Because it’s not about perfection. It’s about faith. It’s about trying our best to live a perfect life even knowing we’ll fail. Fightin’ the good fight, as it were.”
“Huh… I never thought of it that way. The nuns sure never described it like that.”
“Perspective,” Craig said, raising his canteen with a grin.
“I’ll drink to that,” Jaime agreed.
The couple spent the next several minutes eating in relative silence, sharing smiles and glances the whole time. After lunch had been consumed, Craig started to get the itch to get back in the saddle and stood to check on their horses. Jaime just grinned as he walked over to the hitch.
“What the hell? One of our horses is gone!” Craig called out. “Sweet Tea’s here, but no Little Man!”
“Oh no!” Jaime said with a giggle. “Could it be that Nicole took Little Man back with her, leaving just one horse for the two of us?! Oh well, guess we’ll just have to ride together…”
Craig eyed Jaime. “You knew about this?”
“When I saw what you had put together for me, I got a burst of inspiration and asked Nicole to take one of the horses back with her. That way, we’d have no choice but to ride together. She did say Sweet Tea could handle the both of us no problem. I… hope you’re not mad at me.”
Craig just smiled in disbelief. “Naw, I can’t be mad at such a brilliant and devious young woman! If anyone can keep up with my scheming, it’s you.”
“Good! Because I’m not sorry!” she replied with a grin.
After voicing her desire to take the reins, Jaime swung herself up with a slight assist from Craig. He hoisted his body up behind her, finding it a surprisingly comfortable fit for both of them in the saddle; Jaime was so tiny that there was plenty of room. After getting a feel for things once more, she gently tugged the reins and pointed the horse in the direction of the ranch, hanging her sunhat around her neck in the process.
“Come on, Sweet Tea. Let’s go home.”
As the horse plodded down the trail, Craig slipped his arms around Jaime’s waist to hold her from behind.
“You know, you called me a sneaky bastard earlier, but I think it takes one to know one,” he whispered in her ear.
“I admit to having a bit of a mischievous streak,” Jaime replied. “Craig… thanks. This has been the perfect day.”
Jaime turned her head carefully, allowing Craig to crane his neck around. It was awkward at first, but they soon were able to share a long, affectionate kiss to go with the incredible scenery. All the while, Sweet Tea kept up his steady pace.
“Best first date ever?” Craig asked as they parted.
“You have no idea.”
It can be said that time slows in critical moments, and for Craig and Jaime, the concept was completely real. After a fantastic day of mini-golf, lounging on the beach, and an evening crawfish boil outside Steve’s place, the pair strolled hand-in-hand back to Jaime’s hotel. Neither wanted the day to end, but they were also nervous at what that might ultimately mean. Arriving at the door to the hotel, Craig leaned in to kiss Jaime, but to his surprise, she stopped him.
“I don’t… I don’t want you to kiss me goodnight, not yet,” Jaime explained. “I don’t want this night to be over.”
“Me either,” Craig admitted.
“Come up with me?”
“You’re sure you want me to?”
“Positive,” she replied with a grin.
Taking Craig by the hand, Jaime led him through the lobby, practically skipping with giddiness the whole time. The only resistance they encountered was a giggle and a knowing glance from Tiffany, the receptionist. By the time they reached the door to her room, Jaime’s heart was pounding with nervous anticipation, but Craig remained calm and collected.
“So, you wanna watch a movie or somethin’?” Craig asked, following Jaime into the room.
“Huh? You really want to just watch a movie?”
“I don’t recall sayin’ the word ‘just’,” Craig smirked.
Jaime rolled her eyes and smiled. “Ok, sure. My PS3 is plugged into the TV, so pick out something from Netflix. I’ll just slip on some more comfy clothes, if that’s alright?”
“Take your time.”
Closing the door to the bathroom, Jaime wondered if Craig’s offer was a pretense to watch one of her films together. She knew she had them saved to her PS3, so they wouldn’t be difficult for him to find. Still, after a moment’s consideration, she thought better of it. Craig had refrained from being presumptuous thus far, so she decided to assume the best. Donning a pair of gray gym shorts and a purple spaghetti strap tank top, she rejoined him.
“This ok?” Craig asked.
Jaime’s eyebrows rose at seeing the title screen for Raiders of the Lost Ark on the TV. “Yeah! I haven’t seen this one in years!” she squealed, leaping onto the bed. “Come join me,” she beckoned, patting the spot next to her.
After hitting play, Craig tossed the remote aside and dove onto the bed.
“Nice landing!” Jaime laughed.
“The belly flop is my signature move,” he boasted.
“Nice,” she smiled, curling up in the crook of his arm. “Thanks for this, Craig.”
“For picking a real movie. I was worried you were going to want to watch a porno with me, knowing what I do for a living.”
Craig kissed her on the forehead. “Hardly appropriate viewing material for a first date, I’d wager.”
“You’re so sweet,” Jaime sighed. “For the right guy, I could definitely get into that, though.”
Craig said nothing in reply to that, just enjoying the feeling of Jaime’s lithe body against his. For the most part, they sat and enjoyed the movie together, though they did have a few short make-out sessions. But by the time the credits rolled, Jaime was beyond horny. It was the strangest sensation to her. She would have slept with Craig the night before without hesitation, yet he insisted on taking her out on an official date. Even then, he hadn’t once made any moves to escalate the situation. Normally she would be worried of the implication that he wasn’t interested, but he had already admitted to being attracted to her. She wanted him, more than she had ever wanted any man in her life.
Taking matters into her own hands, Jaime leaned up to kiss his lips as she had done several times that night already. This time, however, she kept her free hand on the back of his neck, pulling Craig to lie on top of her and probing his lips with her tongue. To her pleasant surprise, he didn’t resist; she could even feel him grinning as she began to kiss him more passionately. She reveled in the sensation of Craig’s hands at last beginning to explore her body. But as she began to give in to her primal desires for him, one last flicker of rational thought entered her brain.
When was my last checkup?! Let’s see… crap, it’s been almost a month, and I’ve been with… at least fifteen guys for filming.
Separating for a moment, Jaime looked into Craig’s eyes. “Please, please tell me you have a condom,” she whispered. Before he could reply, she clarified, “I mean… I’m protected from pregnancy. Got an IUD implanted. But, it’s been several weeks since my last check, and there’s no guarantee I haven’t gotten anything in the interim, so-”
“I’m prepared,” Craig said, silencing her with a kiss.
As they resumed their kissing, Jaime allowed her hands to begin roaming his back, soon slipping beneath his t-shirt. Craig didn’t protest, sliding up onto his knees and allowing her to slip the shirt up and over his head. Jaime flashed a huge smile at what was underneath. Though not chiseled with washboard abs like her costars, he was still in great shape, and she couldn’t help but trace the slight outline of his pecs with her fingers. Craig took that opportunity to pull her by the wrists, sitting her up on the bed to continue kissing her.
“Craig?” she whispered between kisses.
“I want… I want you to take the lead, if that’s ok.”
“Of course. Any particular reason, or is that just how you like it?”
“Aww… is this your first time, little lady?” Craig teased her.
“Shut up!” she laughed in reply. “It’s just that… I’ve never had sex just for pleasure before.”
“It’s the truth. I lost my virginity on a casting couch and I’ve always had a personal rule of not dating costars. Add that to every other guy in LA being a pompous, self-absorbed douche, and…”
“That’ll do it,” Craig said. “So I guess you could say this is your first time.”
“Yeah. Don’t get me wrong; I know what I’m doing, obviously. But this feels… so different. It’s not even about the sex. I just want to be as close to you as possible, Craig.”
“I think I can manage that.” Tugging on her tank top, he asked, “May I even the odds a bit?”
It took almost no effort at all for the garment to be peeled off, revealing more of Jaime’s milky flesh to Craig. Though she expected him to stop and stare in that moment, Craig wanted to take in her entire body at once. He stood at the edge of the bed and gently slid her shorts and panties off in one motion, leaving her form as nude as the day she was born. Craig now saw that his suspicions were correct: Jaime was a girl of incredible natural beauty. Her body was lithe and thin, yet avoided looking starved, and her skin was the same shade from head to toe, lacking any tan lines. Jaime’s hair, now out of its braid, fanned out around her pretty face, enhancing her icy blue eyes. As Craig’s eyes traveled down, he took in the incredible sight of her breasts. They were quite small, easily an A cup, yet were also very round and perky, protruding out as she sat back up on the bed. And her pussy… if anything could be defined as inviting, it could. So small and innocent looking, the hairless mound was just begging to be touched and played with.
“Wow,” Craig whispered.
“I love the way you’re looking at me,” Jaime replied. “I don’t feel like a piece of meat. I feel like…”
“A dream come true,” he finished.
“Such a charmer. Got a favorite part yet?”
“Turn over, please,” Craig grinned.
“Ah, an ass man,” she replied as she rolled.
“Hmm… you do indeed have a wonderful butt. Firm and perky, yet just the right amount of jiggle,” Craig said, giving her a few playful squeezes. “But that’s not the reason I wanted you to turn over. And now I know my favorite part.”
“And that is?” she asked, turning to face him.
“That you’re completely natural. No tans, no enhancements, no tattoos, not even a piercing except your ears. You’re just… you. And you are so beautiful.”
Jaime could only smile at that, dumbfounded by his compliment. A few moments later, Craig had discarded his shorts, revealing his seven-inch cock for her viewing pleasure. While she was used to guys with a bit more length and substantially more girth, none of that mattered to her in these moments; she wanted him, and only him. As Craig retrieved a condom from his backpack, Jaime couldn’t help but massage her clit with her fingers, fully anticipating what was to come. Her breathing only intensified as she watched him roll the condom over his length and crawl back on top of her.
“Wow… you’re raring to go,” Jaime breathed, reaching down to feel his stiff length with her hand.
“You’re fault,” Craig grinned. “You ready?”
Planting a long kiss on his lips, she replied, “More than ready. Please, Craig… I want you so bad.”
They locked eyes with each other, and Jaime soon felt the head of Craig’s penis pressing against her entrance. Her pussy gave very little resistance, as the condom’s lubrication and her desire combined for two very slick pelvic regions between them. She gasped as Craig penetrated her, feeling him begin to fill her up. The look on his face was priceless; Jaime’s pussy was exceptionally tight, and had him fighting back the urge to climax from the start.
“Doing ok there?” Jaime giggled.
“Tight? Yeah, she’s always been that way.”
“Ok, I just wanna be sure you-”
Jaime silenced him with a firm kiss. “Don’t worry about me, Craig. This evening has already been well worth it. All I want is this moment with you.”
Ever so slowly, Craig began to thrust into her tunnel. Gazing down at her nude body, he was completely oblivious to the one thing that many of Jaime’s fans loved about her: the fact that she looked like jailbait. She was young and thin to be sure, but Craig could only see her as a woman, not a little girl. She had endured so much, and in spite of everything she did and saw on a daily basis, she had chosen him of all people as her first time for pure pleasure. He loved everything about her, her mind and heart as well as her body.
To Craig’s pleasant surprise, Jaime’s face was one of pure delight as well. Her eyes were closed, she was biting her lower lip, and her cheeks were flushed with color. Still, he wanted to make sure she got as much out of this as he did. Coming up on his knees, he began to run his hands over her soft skin as he continued his thrusting. Her breasts, though small, were incredibly sensitive, and it only took a few brushes of her nipples to have her writhing in pleasure. His fingers began to work their way down her taut stomach, soon arriving at her pelvic region. While gripping her hip with his left hand, his right thumb started massaging her swollen clit.
“Holy shit!” Jaime exclaimed, her eyes popping open. “Nobody’s ever done… that… before!”
“Seriously?” Craig asked, refusing to relent.
“Nuh uh… so many… faked orgasms.”
“And tonight?” he replied, knowing the answer.
“All you, buster,” she replied with her megawatt smile. “I’m close, by the way, so go for broke. I’ll be right there with you.”
Maneuvering Jaime to the edge of the bed, Craig stood and began to pound her little pussy with everything he had. Jaime’s moans were music to his ears, and the sight of her hands playing with her nipples only furthered his arousal. Both were pleased at how long he managed to last at this pace, but the end was approaching all the same. Taking a firm grip on her slim waist, Craig pushed his final few thrusts into her, at last exploding with a groan of ecstasy. As he filled the condom with his semen, Jaime’s own orgasm struck in full force, the walls of her pussy tightening around his cock as she came. Eventually, they came down from their highs, and Craig slipped out of her pussy. After tying off the condom and disposing of it, he joined Jaime under the covers.
“Wow… you really are something else…” she breathed.
“Ditto,” he agreed, kissing her on the forehead. “Ready for lights out? Past two in the morning, so might ought to call it a night.”
“Sounds great. Hmm… another first.”
“First time actually falling asleep with a man,” she grinned.
Switching off the lamp, Craig replied, “No complaints here.”
Jaime awoke the next day to sunlight peeking in through the curtains. Rolling over, she smiled at feeling Craig still slumbering next to her. After a few kisses to his bare chest, she felt him begin to stir.
“Morning,” she cooed.
“Mmm… morning.” Slowly opening his eyes, he said, “Damn, that’s a beautiful sight to wake up to.”
“No complaints here,” Jaime giggled in reply. “Last night was so amazing, Craig. Really, thank you for my first time.”
“Aww, no biggie.”
“Yeah, it actually is. You didn’t fuck me; you made love to me. I can’t tell you how special that makes me feel, Craig.”
“Well, you are special,” he replied with a sweet kiss.
Just as Jaime was about to move in for a more passionate kiss, her phone started ringing on the nightstand. After putting a finger to her mouth to tell Craig to shush, she saw it was Alexis calling.
“Hey, girl. Kind of early for you to call. What’s up?”
“Hey, girlfriend! It’s not that early; eight in the morning. I’ve been on set an hour already. Did you oversleep?”
“Wow, guess I did; it’s already eleven here!”
“Good vacation, then?”
“The best,” Jaime giggled.
“Sweet! Hey, are you able to FaceTime for a few? I’ve got someone here who wants to talk to you.”
“Um, sure. Just give me a second.”
After donning her pink satin robe, Jaime sat at the small table in the corner, making sure Craig was out of view as he dressed for the day.
“Ok, what’s up?” she asked, starting the FaceTime call.
“So, I’m on set, as you know, and one of my costars wanted to talk with you for a few minutes. I’m gonna hand the phone to her now.”
The picture wobbled for a few seconds before the face of a striking blonde in her late fifties appeared. Jaime was absolutely speechless at who she was now talking to.
“Oh my god… Ms. Hartley!”
“Oh please, we’re both professionals. Call me Nina.”
“Um… i-it’s an honor to meet you. I’ve admired you f-for so long,” Jaime stammered.
“Well thank you, my dear. I’ve seen your work as well; quite impressive, I must say. Everything Alexis has said seems true; you are just a little sweetheart.”
“Thank you,” Jaime said, blushing a bit.
“You’re very welcome. Now, the reason I wanted to talk to you is simple. Alexis and I were chatting a couple of days ago, and she was telling me that you had a little incident with Mr. Rocco Macho, is that right?”
“Oh, uh, that was… that was nothing.”
Nina’s face became one of complete skepticism.
“Jaime, you are lying to me, and most importantly, to yourself. Sadly, this sort of thing happens all too often in our line of work, and it’s become a bit of a crusade for me. There are more good directors than bad ones nowadays, but assholes like Rocco Macho still persist. If you’ll let me, I want to help you.”
“Really? But how?”
“I think you need to take legal action against him. I’ve spoken with my attorney, one of the best there is if I do say so myself, and explained the situation to her, keeping all names out of it for now. Based on everything I told her, if it matches up with your side of things, she’s agreed to represent you pro bono in this case.”
“But there’s no physical evidence! It would just be my word against his!”
“I explained that to my attorney as well, and she didn’t seem concerned. Jaime, take it from someone who knows firsthand: you can’t let something like this just slide. What Rocco Macho did to you is disgusting, deplorable, and illegal. There is no place for it in any business, and especially one with as many vulnerable young women as ours.”
“Come on, Jaime. You know it’s the right thing to do,” Alexis chimed in, sliding up next to Nina.
“I don’t know…”
“You know they’re riiiiiiight,” Craig teased her from the bed.
“Jaime, who was that? Is someone there with you?” Alexis asked with a grin.
“Oh, just… a friend.”
“Oh my GOD! You found a guy down there! AAAHHH!” Alexis squealed in excitement. “Who is he? What’s his name?”
“Not now, Alexis-”
“Hi, I’m Craig,” he said, plopping down next to Jaime as he came into the picture.
“Oh my… Jaime, you have excellent taste in men,” Nina purred.
“Can we focus, please?!” Jaime laughed, now beet red with embarrassment.
“I agree with them,” Craig said. “Think about it this way: do you think you’re the first girl this Rocco character has gotten rough with?”
“No,” Jaime admitted.
“And do you think you’ll be the last?”
“No,” she sighed.
“I completely agree with that assessment,” Nina said.
Craig nodded and continued, “Since it’s reasonable to think that this ass is a repeat offender, you’ve got more than yourself to think about. For every girl he’s beaten into silence and every girl he has yet to beat but will someday, you have a responsibility to stand up and say something, Jaime. It ain’t just about you.”
“I like him,” Alexis giggled. “Can I have a turn?”
“He’s mine! Back off, bitch!” Jaime laughed back.
“Ooh, I love it when she gets all feisty,” Alexis said to Nina.
“Jaime, I think Craig is right. Who knows how many other girls Rocco has done this to? You need to do something about this, or nothing will change. What do you say?” Nina asked.
Jaime sighed in resignation. “Ok, you guys are right. I’m purchasing a ticket back to California right now.”
“Wonderful! I’ll let my attorney know you’d like to meet with her. See you soon, Jaime,” Nina smiled.
As the call ended, Jaime turned to Craig. “Budinski,” she teased him.
“It worked, didn’t it?” he grinned.
“I guess it did. Shit… I need to pack if I’m heading back to California.”
“Yeah, your flight leaves soon,” Craig sighed, moving to the door. “Guess I’ll leave you to it.”
“Craig, wait up,” Jaime replied, wrapping him in a hug. “Seriously, thank you. If you hadn’t been a budinski, I might not have agreed to do this.”
“Now it’s my turn to try and help you,” Jaime said, turning back to her bags. “I want you to start thinking about your future, Craig. You’re such a talented musician and I’d hate for you to be stuck in this Podunk beach town forever. You should consider moving back to Nashville.”
Craig blinked twice at this. “Podunk town?” he whispered to himself.
Without missing a beat, Jaime continued, “I mean, this is a great vacation spot, but living here long term? Craig, all your talent is wasted in this little town. You have so much to offer the world, but not if you stay here. You really need to get out of this place.”
Craig’s stomach turned in knots, and he had to lean against the wall to keep steady. As he opened his eyes, he watched in horror as Jaime’s hotel room disappeared, replaced by his mom’s hospital room. A moment later, the redhead leaning over a suitcase on the bed had become his dad. The broken man could no longer keep it together as he held his wife’s hand. She lay in the bed, weakly trembling and working to breathe, yet wore a tiny smile on her face.
“It’s almost time, Steve,” she whispered.
“No… Lynn you can’t leave,” he choked out through his tears.
“I’ve got to… the Lord’s callin’ me home. I can hear him.”
“But what about your family!? What about me and Craig?!”
“You boys will do alright together. I’ll have my eye on you,” she chuckled. “Family comes first. Isn’t that right, Craig?”
“Yeah, Mom,” Craig heard himself say. “Family first. No matter what.”
Lynn used what strength she had to kiss Steve’s hand. “I love you, Steve. I love you so much that… I want you to love again.”
“No,” he replied firmly. “No, you… you’re my one and only.”
“I see… Craig?”
“You look out for your father, you hear?”
“I will, Mom. Family first…”
In a flash, he was once again in Jaime’s hotel room. She hadn’t even noticed him spacing out; she was too busy stuffing clothes into her suitcase. The sound of her voice shook Craig completely back to reality.
“So what do you think?” Jaime asked with a grin.
“Hmm?” Jaime asked, looking up from her suitcase.
“No, I won’t leave this Podunk little beach town,” Craig spat, his tone becoming harsher by the second. He could feel his inner fear begin to grip him, yet there was nothing he could do to stop it. “You’re askin’ me to leave my dad, the only family I got left! Mom’s cancer nearly killed him! I can’t leave him too! You wanna talk about my talents? I got a talent for keepin’ my dad sane and functioning in the aftermath of Mom’s death. And you call that wasted?! Maybe y’all out in California don’t understand the value of family, but I do. And I ain’t givin’ it up for nothin’!”
“Craig! That’s not what I-”
“Have fun back in LA. I do hope you take down that asshole boss of yours, I really do, but if I have to choose between some girl and my family, I’ll take my family any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Take care, Jaime.”
With that, Craig slammed the hotel room door shut, leaving Jaime dumbfounded and confused. All she had wanted to do was encourage him. How had this happened? As she wept on the bed, her phone buzzed with a text message, indicating her flight was to leave later that day. She wanted desperately to chase after him, but there simply was not enough time.
“I want Craig… but there are women depending on me. I can’t let them down.”
“Jaime! Welcome back!” Alexis said, hugging her best friend.
“And there’s someone here to meet you.”
“Good to meet you in person, Jaime,” said Nina, giving her a hug as well.
“Nina, I can’t thank you enough for everything you’re doing,” Jaime replied.
“Think nothing of it! I’m happy to help you like this a thousand times over. I have an appointment scheduled for you with my attorney this Friday at 10 am, so get some rest tonight.”
“Yeah, I’ll do that…”
“I need get going; I’m needed at the studio bright and early tomorrow,” Nina said.
“Bye, Nina!” Alexis said, waving at her as she left. Noticing Jaime’s distant facial expression, she said, “Hey, you ok?”
“Huh? Oh, yeah… I’m fine.”
“Liar. What’s wrong? Missing your guy already?” Alexis probed.
“Kind of… but he’s not my guy anymore,” Jaime replied. “After you hung up, we had a big, big fight. I was encouraging him to leave Apalachicola and restart his music career in Nashville, but he thought I was telling him to abandon his family.”
“What?! Why would he think that?”
“I… may have called his home a Podunk town,” Jaime admitted. “Oh god, I fucked it up, Alexis! I met the man of my dreams and drove him off because I couldn’t keep my big mouth shut!”
“Shh, it’s ok. Calm down. Listen, just let it mellow a few days, focus on this Macho business. After a couple of days, call him and explain. If he’s as great as you say, he’ll understand.”
“But he didn’t give me his phone number.”
“You don’t have any way to contact him?”
“No… well, there is his dad’s bar and grill. I could try calling there.”
“I think that’ll be your best bet. Just let it simmer for a bit, ok?” Alexis replied.
“Ok… thanks, Alexis.”
“And that’s everything, Ms. Albright.”
“Thank you, Jaime, and it’s Gail. Based on everything you’ve told me, I’m more than comfortable proceeding with this case, pro bono of course.”
“Really? Even with no witnesses or physical evidence?” Jaime asked.
“Of course! We may not have much more than ‘he said, she said’ for the court of law, but I’d be shocked if this ever sees the inside of a courtroom. Rocco Cranston, Mr. Macho as it were, is going to want to settle this as quietly as possible, I’d wager.”
“That’s good to know, but… what if I don’t want to settle quietly?”
“How do you mean?” Gail asked.
“It has been pointed out to me that Rocco has likely done this many times before, and will almost certainly do so again. I feel a responsibility to not be quiet about this, for the sake of all those other girls. I… I need to go public with this. With that in mind, I’m not opposed to a settlement, but I won’t accept one that forces me to keep quiet about Rocco’s true nature.”
“Hmm… clever girl. I’m on board with that. Now, bear in mind that this may cost us the ability to settle altogether, and we still may never get this into a courtroom, but the court of public opinion can be a powerful weapon as well. You ok with trading a potential settlement for positive press?”
“Definitely,” Jaime grinned. “This isn’t about the money.”
“Perfect. I’ll schedule an interview with the police department, followed by a meeting with Mr. Cranston and his attorney.”
“Jaime, you never filed an incident report. Without that, we have no leverage against Rocco. Even if the police decline to charge him, this has to happen for anything to come from it.”
“I suppose I’ll need a reason why I waited so long?” Jaime asked.
“Just tell the truth,” Gail advised. “You were shell-shocked after the incident and needed some time to clear your head, figure out what you wanted to do. Honesty is the best policy with the police; you haven’t done anything wrong here. Rocco’s attorneys will try to make you out to be the villain, but we won’t let them. He’s in the wrong here, not you.”
“Sounds great. Thanks again for doing this.”
“It is my genuine privilege. Now, anything else for today?”
“Nope. Keep me informed about our upcoming meetings. Thanks again!”
After shaking hands with Gail, Jaime left the lawyer’s office, finding Nina waiting on her in the lobby.
“Hey! How’d it go?”
“Very well. I like her a lot,” Jaime replied.
“Yeah, she’s the best. I’ve known her for years. You hungry? Let’s do lunch.”
Five minutes later, they were sitting in the Panera across the street.
“So, what’s the plan of attack?” Nina asked.
“Well, I made it clear that I won’t accept any settlement that forces me to keep quiet. Going public is exactly what I want to do.”
“And the right thing to do, in my opinion.”
“Agreed,” said Jaime. “First, I need to file an official police report, and then we’ll meet with Rocco and his attorney. If the police decline to file charges, then that makes things easy. We go public and try to educate the world.”
“And if he makes a lucrative settlement offer?”
Jaime snorted. “This isn’t about the money.”
“I’m glad, but you still need to think about yourself. You might be out of work for a little while until this blows over. Are you prepared for that?”
“Yep. I’ve lived on the cheap ever since I arrived out here, stockpiling money away for the future whenever possible.”
“Good for you!” Nina replied. “I have known far too many girls in this business that let the money go to their heads. They don’t make any plans for down the road, blow it all on consumables, it’s really very sad. Seeing a bright young woman like you preparing for her future just brings a smile to my face.”
“Thank you,” Jaime blushed.
“So, as you know, I’ve worked for some time now to build my own little empire in the adult film industry. It gives me a lot of freedom to do only the kinds of projects I want to do. I normally don’t offer jobs so easily without extensive interviews, but what I just learned about you tells me everything I need to know. How would you like to come work for me?”
“Wait… you’re offering me a job?”
“Absolutely. You’re young, pretty, and oh so bright. I can’t imagine you’d be anything but a dream to work with. So, what do you say? It’d be great, and so much more tasteful than anything you’ve done in the past.”
Jaime paused a moment before replying, “I’m so incredibly flattered, but… I don’t think I can accept.”
“Why not? You’re not currently under contract, are you?”
“It’s not that, Nina. It’s just… I don’t think I can do this anymore. Any of it.”
Nina cocked her eyebrow. “This is about that Craig boy, isn’t it?”
“Alexis mentioned you two had hit a rough spot.”
“Uh huh. I know I may have already lost him, but I can’t seem to get him out of my head. I think about him all the time…”
“I see… you’re in love with him, aren’t you?”
“Huh. I… guess I am. I can’t imagine never seeing him again, and I’d do anything to get him back. I don’t care where we are or what we do; I just want to be with him. I guess that is love,” Jaime realized.
“So, what are you going to do?”
“Well, Alexis said to let it mellow for a few days, then try to call his dad’s bar and grill to try and talk to him. That was five days ago.”
“Go home and call him, Jaime. You need some closure, one way or another.”
Steve stood at his bar, preparing mason jars of sour mix for that evening. He enjoyed this lull in the middle of the afternoon; only a couple of patrons were there, mainly to get away from the tourists for a bit. As he reached for another lemon, the phone started ringing.
“Steve’s on the Bay. This is Steve. How can I help ya?”
“Mr. McNeal, it’s Jaime Little.”
Sighing a bit, Steve motioned to one of his workers. “Jason, mind the bar, will ya?” he asked, covering the phone.
“Sure thing, boss.”
Stepping to the side of the room, Steve said, “I’m a bit surprised to hear from you, Jaime. Craig’s been a total wreck since you left.”
“He wouldn’t tell me the details, but he said somethin’ about you goin’ back to LA for some legal battle with your boss. Also mentioned it wasn’t gonna work between y’all, that you made it clear your values didn’t line up with his. To be honest, I’m of a mind to end this call right now, as messed up as he’s been.”
“Please, don’t hang up! I just want to explain.”
“Well… alright. I’m all ears.”
“Ok, when I last saw Craig, I said some really dumb things. I… might have accidentally called Apalachicola a Podunk town.”
“And how does something like that accidentally happen?”
“I just wasn’t thinking. My mind was going a mile a minute, what with the legal battle on the horizon, and it just kind of slipped out. I wasn’t trying to cut him down, or the people there. I love your town, so much so that I can’t wait to get back there! Really, I was only trying to encourage Craig.”
“Encourage him? How do ya mean?”
“Craig told me how he was a professional musician in Nashville, but decided to move to Florida after his mom got sick.”
“He told you ‘bout that? Wow… you musta made quite an impression on him.”
“I know. And he’s so talented; he said he almost had a recording contract in Nashville. All I wanted to do was encourage him to pursue that, keep from wasting his talents.”
“Huh. Well, that don’t seem so bad. I wonder why he got so hot?”
“I don’t know. He started talking about how I was asking him to give up his family, that his talents were with helping you. He kept talking like I was trying to get him to forget you forever or something. I have no idea how it got to this, but-”
“Say no more, Jaime. This ain’t your fault, and it ain’t Craig’s neither. It’s mine.”
“Yeah. See, I was never any good at business; my Lynn always handled that. After the cancer took her, Craig helped me keep this place afloat. That was three years ago. Three years I’ve stolen from my son…”
“Mr. McNeal, that’s not fair.”
“No, it is. I’ve been relyin’ so heavily on Craig that I’ve been stealin’ his dream career from him. Now, he feels obligated to me. That’s why he flew off the handle at ya. Now what to do about it?” Thinking a moment, Steve continued, “Jaime, I need to ask you a few serious questions, and I need your complete honesty on them. Can you gimmie that?”
“Clearly, you care a lot about my son to keep after him like this. But he’s still my son, and I’ll do anything to make sure he don’t get his heart broken. What is your plan in all this, Jaime? Are you gonna be continuin’ your, uh, job? And most importantly, how do you really feel about Craig?”
Jaime took a deep breath; it was true confession time.
“Mr. McNeal, I’m not going to sugarcoat this at all. Clearly, Craig told you about my line of work, which I totally understand. To be honest, I was offered another job just today, one with a far better boss than I could have ever hoped for, but I turned it down. I turned it down, because… I can’t go back to that life, not anymore. For the last three years, I’ve been trying to find my place this in world. Now that I’ve seen the life Craig has, built on the simple pleasures of love and family, I know what I want.
“That being said, I’m not making some impulsive decision to move across the country without a dime to my name. I won’t go into the details, but suffice to say I’ve saved a very comfortable amount over the last three years for my future. I will never need to be taken care of by Craig, or any man for that matter. Mr. McNeal, the truth is… I’m in love with your son. A week ago, I didn’t even know he existed, but now, I don’t want to imagine my life without him. He’s honest, genuine, and loves his family above all else. Even in his anger a few days ago, those qualities managed to shine through. I don’t know what chance I have of getting him back or even seeing him again, but if there is a chance, I’ll take it. I love him. If nothing else, he deserves to know that.”
Steve pondered this for several seconds before responding, “I believe you.”
“Thank you,” Jaime eked out, now close to tears.
“Listen, you need to focus on your legal battle right now. Don’t you worry ‘bout Craig; I’ll handle him. Do what you need to do out in LA, and come back here when you’re ready. Can ya do that?”
“Yes, Mr. McNeal.”
“One last thing: you can call me Steve. If everything you told me is true, I imagine I’ll be seein’ a helluva lot of ya from here on out. Take care of yourself, Jaime. Keep in touch.”
“I will. Thank you, Steve.”
Ending the call, Steve made his way to a back room of the bar, finding Craig hard at work on the computer.
“Hey, Dad. Just goin’ over last week’s receipts.”
“Yeah, thanks. Hey, uh… take a break. I wanna talk to ya for a bit.”
“Ok, sure. What’s going on?” Craig asked.
Taking a seat, Steve said, “I just got an interesting phone call… from one Jaime Little.”
“Ah shit… Dad, why’d you even take the call?” Craig whined.
“Because she wanted to tell me her side of things, and I must admit that she provided some context.”
“Context my ass…”
“Craig, shut up a moment and listen,” Steve replied sharply. “Now that girl feels awful about what she said to you. She swore she didn’t mean Podunk the way you took it, and I believe her.”
“That ain’t even what pissed me off, Dad. Do you have any idea what she wanted me to do?”
“She wants you to pursue your dream career in Nashville, boy! You’ve got the talent for it; we all know that.”
“Yeah, and abandon you in the process!”
“You are not abandoning me, Son!” Steve moaned. “Listen, this spat that y’all had ain’t her fault and it ain’t yours… it’s mine. Craig, you’ve been fantastic these last three years. I was in a bad spot after your mom passed, and you were my rock all the way. But I’m better now. So, I think it’s time I started being your dad again.”
“No, I mean it. You put your family above everything, and that’s admirable. Now, I need to follow your example and put my family first. So I’m gonna do you the biggest favor of your life. You’re fired.”
Craig blinked at this. “I’m what?!”
“Fired. Not right away, of course. I’ll give ya time to find work, reach back out to your Nashville contacts. But once you’ve done that, you’re outta here.”
“Dad, be serious. You’d never be able to keep this place afloat without me! What’s your plan for when I’m gone?!”
“That’s my concern, not yours. I’ll find a reliable business partner to help me keep this place goin’ for years to come,” Steve replied. “You’ve done enough for me, Craig. It’s time you start thinkin’ about your own future.”
“And you think all this is just gonna magically get me and Jaime back together?” Craig asked. “She had every chance to come after me if she wanted to! Why should I leave you hangin’ just to chase after a fantasy?!”
“Because she loves you, dammit!” Steve roared slamming his fist on the table. “That girl is head over heels for ya, boy! I could hear it in her voice; she was damn near cryin’ when she told me this! Hell, she turned down work today and is plannin’ to move down here after the business with her boss is done, all because the only thing she wants now is another chance with you! And clearly you were taken with her before that little spat. I saw the way y’all were lookin’ at each other at the crawfish boil, so don’t even try to lie to me, Craig. You weren’t never any good at it anyhow!”
“Maybe I was way into her, but that was then.”
“Then tell me this: why were you so into her to begin with?”
Craig thought a moment. “It was… seeing her hold Hayley’s little girl. Damn, the way her eyes lit up… and to top it all off, one of our riders that day was a moody teenage girl. She talked with her, heard the girl was wantin’ some random hookups with the guys on the beach, and Jaime steered her away. Told her that sorta thing wasn’t worth it.” Snapping back to reality, he continued, “But I was just foolin’ myself. I latched onto an ideal that wasn’t fair to either of us. No, she made her choice, and I’ve made mine. She chose California, and I chose family.”
“At least think about it, won’t ya?” Steve pleaded.
“No. Dad, I understand what you’re tryin’ to do, but it ain’t meant to be. I need to lie down a while,” Craig said, heading towards the bunk in the adjoining room. “And you can forget that shit about firing me!” he shouted over his shoulder.
Craig blinked as his vision slowly came into focus. His eyes hurt from the bright lights in the room. Soon, he managed to make out what was in front of him. It was his mom’s hospital room.
Craig sat slack-jawed for a few moments. It was his mom, Lynn McNeal. She reclined back in her hospital bed in a fluffy bathrobe, magazine in hand. Her hair was no longer matted and dirty as it was in his last memory of her; it was dark black and healthy, styled into her signature pixie cut. She was exactly as he wanted to see her: strong and healthy, her body no longer ravaged by the cancer that ended her life.
“Yeah, it’s me,” she grinned.
“Wha… what are you doing here?”
Closing her magazine, she replied, “Trying to do one last motherly thing for my only child.”
“No, I mean… why are we here, in the place you died?”
“Because for some reason, this has become your most enduring memory of me, Craig. I can’t let that continue, not with it affecting the rest of your life.”
“Sweetie, you need to live your life. Your life. You’ve been so strong these last three years, and I can’t tell you how proud of you I am. But you’ve been so devoted to your father that you never properly grieved for me.”
“I had no choice! Family comes first; that’s what I promised you!”
“I know, and I’m so thankful that you’ve been so strong. Your father wouldn’t be doing as well as he is if you hadn’t been.”
“So you’re saying he actually is better?” Craig asked.
“Yep, and he really wants to help you now. He meant every word he said about starting to be your dad again.”
“That’s great, but-”
“No buts, Craig!” she replied in her mothering voice. “I know you’re stubborn, but so am I; you’re my son after all. I won’t take no for an answer.”
“But why appear to me now, all of a sudden?”
“Because I know things you don’t, sweetie. I’ve been watching over you for three years now, and I’ve seen the life you could have.”
“You’ve seen my future?” Craig asked in wonderment.
“Your future hasn’t been written yet. But I’ve seen what it could be, for better or worse. And right now, you’re at a crossroads to those outcomes.”
“Mom, I love seeing you again, but you don’t have to be so mysterious. What’s this really all about?”
“Craig, you’re so close to having it all. Everything you’ve ever wanted, your music career, a loving family, and the girl of your dreams, is within reach. And I’m using my one divine intervention to make sure you don’t miss out.”
“This is about Jaime, isn’t it?” Craig realized.
“What do you think?” she asked with a smirk.
“I… don’t know what to think.”
“Craig, what have I always told you about matters of the heart?”
“The head plays tricks, the heart doesn’t know what it really wants, but the gut don’t lie,” Craig answered.
“And what was your gut saying when you saw Jaime holding little Sophia?”
Craig sighed. “That she was the one.”
“And she is, sweetie. You have no idea how happy you two will be together, if only you’ll take that leap of faith.”
“But… what she said? She chose California over me, right?”
“Weren’t you listening to your father?” Lynn chuckled. “She’s there to clean up her business. But once that’s done, she’s coming after you. I know you’re afraid her values won’t line up with yours, but don’t you see that you’re doing the very thing you so despise?”
Slapping his forehead, Craig replied, “In judging her by where she comes from, I’m no better than all those Yankees that make fun of us dumb southerners.”
“Exactly. Craig, it’s going to be a long time until I can see you again, and I just want you to be as happy as possible in the interim. One day, you’ll see… you two are made for each other.”
Craig’s knees buckled as his mom exited the bed and walked over to him, wrapping him in a warm hug. Try as he might, he could not fight back the tears any longer. All at once, the pain of the last three years flowed from his eyes, and he felt at peace for the first time in years.
“I love you so much, Mom,” he bawled into her shoulder.
“I love you too, sweetie. You have so much love to give, and right now, there’s a girl who wants nothing from you but your love. Trust me, she needs it more than I do. I’m well taken care of, and I know you won’t forget me. But you deserve to keep the good memories of me, not the ugly ones of my death. Remember me, but don’t forget to live.” Stepping back from her son, she continued, “I have to go now, Craig. Until next time.”
As she disappeared in a flash of light, Craig replied, “But not goodbye…”
Craig soon awoke in a groggy haze, finding himself back in the bunkroom of his dad’s bar. A part of him wondered if it all was just a dream, but then he saw his mom’s portrait on the nearby dresser turned towards him. It never faced this direction. Approaching the piece of furniture, Craig took the picture frame into his trembling hands, staring into his mom’s deep green eyes.
Don’t forget to live… promise me…
“I promise, Mom.”
At that moment, a knock came at the door.
“Craig?” Steve asked as he entered. “You ok?”
“Yeah,” he replied, setting the picture down. “Yeah, I’m good. Dad, I… I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have yelled at ya.”
“It’s alright, son. I know you; you were just tryin’ to keep your promise to Mom, weren’t ya?”
“Yeah,” Craig whispered, still staring at Lynn’s portrait.
“I miss her. Craig, I know I probably came off as blunt earlier, what with that firing business, but I just have this feeling about Jaime. If you were to give her one more shot, my gut tells me that she’d be the love of your life, just like Mom was mine. It’s what you deserve.”
“I guess,” Craig sighed. “If she does come back, I’ll give her another shot. On one condition, though.”
“And that is?” Steve asked, cocking his eyebrow.
Craig turned and smirked at his dad. “That you start lookin’ for the second great love of your life.”
“Woah, I dunno ‘bout that, Craig.”
“At least… if the right situation comes along, promise me you’ll consider it. It’s what Mom would want, right?”
“Damn, you’re just like her. Stubborn as all hell,” Steve muttered. “Fine, we got a deal.”
“Deal,” Craig smiled, slapping his dad on the back.
“Miss Little, we don’t want to take up much of your time. As you know, the LAPD has spoken with you and Mr. Cranston in regards to the alleged incident. After extensive interviews, they have declined to file charges against my client.”
“We understand that, Mr. Barlow,” Gail replied. “Nonetheless, a civil suit is an option we are more than willing to consider.”
In reality, Jaime saw little use for a civil suit. No legal ramifications would come of such action regarding Rocco Macho. All that could potentially happen was the financial result, which didn’t matter to Jaime one bit. Still, Gail convinced her not to take it off the table yet; it could provide the publicity Jaime so desired to bring light to Rocco’s actions.
“Yes, and that is an outcome Mr. Cranston would like to avoid,” Christopher Barlow said. “Surely there must be some way we can settle this amicably and without the incessant media becoming involved.”
“Well, we do have an offer that would achieve that goal. Jaime?”
Clearing her throat, Jaime read from their prepared document, “My offer is this: Your client signs a binding contract lasting in perpetuity. This contract requires all of his future contracts with any clients, male or female, to contain a special addendum informing potential clients of these allegations. This addendum must be specifically read to them out loud, either by him or a legal representative, and will require a separate signature in addition to the primary signature on the contract. If he agrees to that, there will be no civil suit.”
“That’s outrageous!” Rocco shouted.
“Rocco, please,” Barlow said.
“No, I won’t be bullied by some stuck-up little airhead! You hear me, you little fuckslut?! You got nothin’ on me!”
“I would advise you to maintain control over your client,” Gail said. “That could be considered a threat to Miss Little.”
“May I say something?” Jaime asked. Without waiting for a reply, she turned to Rocco. “Mr. Cranston, you may think yourself intimidating, but I am not afraid of you. The fact remains that this will affect you down the road, one way or another. I ask you to do the right thing and agree to the terms I’ve set. If you refuse, I will sue you in civil court and I will go to the media. This isn’t just about me, Mr. Cranston. This is about every girl you’ve ever done this to before and every girl you may do this to in the future. I’m not some stupid airhead as you say. I know I’m far from the first to experience this sort of treatment under you. So please, do the right thing. If you don’t, I will not rest until everyone knows what sort of a monster you really are. The choice is yours.”
Rocco snorted. “Screw you.”
“Well, you have your answer, Miss Little,” said Barlow. After whispering with Rocco for a moment, he continued, “We can meet you in the middle. Mr. Cranston will pay a settlement of two hundred thousand dollars to you, as well as an additional donation of one thousand dollars every year for the rest of his life to a charity organization benefiting battered women, anonymously, of course. And you will agree to a gag order, preventing you from speaking of this arrangement or these allegations to anyone.”
“Unacceptable,” Jaime answered.
“I agree. We’ll see you in court,” Gail said.
“This is Lester Holt, NBC Nightly News. New today, a report of a civil suit between Jaime Little, one of the adult film industry’s rising stars, and director Rocco Cranston, also known as Rocco Macho. Miss Little claims that Mr. Macho physically assaulted her on set while she was under contract with him. We go live to Kate Snow with the coverage. Kate?”
“Thank you, Lester. We brought you the breaking coverage earlier today of Jaime Little’s public statement regarding the civil suit with Mr. Cranston.”
“I want everyone to understand that this is not about me, and this is not about any financial settlement. Should I be successful in this suit, any and all money I receive will be donated directly to the Los Angeles Shelter for Abused Women. Rocco Macho assaulted me for daring to offer a creative suggestion regarding the project we were working on at the time. By the callous nature of his assault, I have no doubt in my mind that he has done this to other women in the past and will do so again if no action is taken. Finally, I wish to convey a message to all my fellow adult film actresses that have worked for Rocco Macho in the past: you are not alone. I know what he has done to you, and you have no need to suffer in silence any longer. If you have suffered as I have, I will stand by you.”
“The response to Miss Little’s statement has been swift and decisive. Less than an hour later, a statement was issued by Mike Mountain, three-time winner of AVN’s Director of the Year award.”
“I am saddened and ashamed by Miss Little’s statement today. Not because I don’t believe her, but because I know she’s right. I’ve worked with Rocco several times over the years, and while he is a talented director in the adult film industry, he is also a man with no respect for women in our modern world. To hear Miss Little’s account of what he did to her breaks my heart, and I am ashamed of myself that I have never done anything to try and make a difference. That is why I now say this to every actress in the adult film industry: you deserve better. If you are offered any job by Rocco Macho, on camera or off, I’ll do you one better. You come see me, and I’ll give you a job, no questions asked. With me, you’ll be in a safe, healthy work environment. Assault will not be tolerated on my watch, I promise you that.”
“And already we have been receiving statements from other directors and actors in the adult film industry, nearly all of which have been in support of Jaime Little and her suit. We have reached out to Miss Little directly for an interview, but have been asked to respect her privacy during these trying times. We’ll keep you updated to any breaking developments in this story. Lester?”
“Thank you, Kate. In the aftermath of Jaime Little’s public statement, Rocco Cranston has released a statement of his own. In the interest of unbiased journalism, we would like to show you this statement. However, our censors have deemed it too profanity-laced to air; the amount of editing required would make it impossible to understand exactly what Mr. Cranston was attempting to communicate. More on this story as it develops.”
“Welcome to Extra! I’m your host, Mario Lopez, and with me as always is the lovely Tracey Edmonds.”
“Thank you, Mario. Big leadoff story today, right?”
“You bet. It’s been a week since the news that rocked the adult film industry of Los Angeles, with actress Jaime Little filing suit against director Rocco Macho for allegations of physical assault. In that time, at least a dozen actresses have come forward with statements that they were physically assaulted during their time in Rocco Macho’s employ.”
“That’s right, and while most of them are young, up-and-comers like Jaime Little, a few are women that are quite famous and successful in their own right. Perhaps the highest profile actress to come forward is AVN’s 2015 actress of the year, Evelyn Angelique. More suits are expected, and Rocco Macho himself has been conspicuously silent since his public tirade the day of Jaime Little’s initial statement.”
“Ok there’s one question on everyone’s mind, Tracey. Does it matter that these are adult film actresses rather than mainstream film actresses?” Mario asked.
“In my mind, not one bit. This sort of violent, chauvinistic behavior has no place in any work environment. I don’t care about the choices these women have made in their lives; nobody deserves to be treated like this, and I hope this is the beginning of the end of Rocco Macho’s career.”
“I agree, and you may be getting your wish, Tracey. With the increasing number of actresses corroborating Jaime’s allegations, a massive number of directors, actors, and actress have come out saying they will never again do business with Rocco Macho. Some directors and producers are going as far as saying they won’t work with anyone else who will work with Macho. Add that to the mass exodus from Macho’s studio, and his days may well be numbered.”
“Yeah, the general feeling is that he’s quickly becoming a pariah here in Los Angeles. No complaints from me! Now, what about the rumors starting to circulate that Jaime Little may be ready to retire from the adult film business altogether?”
“I certainly couldn’t blame her. Still, until we hear something from Jaime Little herself, I think it’s just the standard rumor mill.”
“Jaime, I must say I’m impressed,” Nina said. “This media blitz against Macho has gone better than I could have ever hoped for!”
“Thanks to you! If you hadn’t recommended Gail Albright as my attorney, none of this would have ever happened.”
“It’s my genuine pleasure, Jaime. This has long been a cause very near and dear to my heart.”
“Here’s hoping we’re a bit closer to stopping this shit for good,” Jaime said, raising her cosmopolitan.
“Amen, sister!” Alexis agreed. “What was the final settlement?”
Jaime replied, “Macho pays two hundred thousand to me and every woman that has come forward accusing him of assault, as well as agreeing to the contract alterations I initially asked for. Plus a public apology. He does that, the civil suit goes away altogether, just what he wants. Not like the damage hasn’t already been done to his career. And as much good as is coming out of this, what a way to go out!”
“Go out? You’re retiring?” Alexis asked.
“I am. Nina helped me realize I needed to.”
“Your heart isn’t in the work anymore,” Nina agreed. “Both of you should heed this bit of advice. If your heart isn’t in it, this business will chew you up and spit you out. The only thing left will be a shell of your former self when it’s all said and done. The reason I’ve lasted so long is a genuine love for what I do. But hearing Jaime talk about Craig and seeing the look on her face when I offered her a job, it was obvious she couldn’t do this any longer.”
“Craig’s still in the picture, eh?” Alexis asked with a smirk.
“So I’m told,” Jaime replied. “I haven’t spoken to him, but I did talk to his dad. He said not to worry and that he’d take care of Craig. I’m about ready to pack things up and get the hell out of California, try to win him back.”
“If I may make a suggestion, don’t pack up just yet. You know you’re going to move, but go see Craig first,” Nina said. “Go back down to Florida for a visit, try to smooth things out with him. Once you know one way or another, then you’ll know where you’ll be moving to, make sense?”
“It does. And… I hope this isn’t an inconvenience for you, but I’d love to have you both with me for moral support,” said Jaime. “You two know I don’t have any real family, but you two have been there for me like sisters. What do you say?”
“I’m in,” Nina replied. “If he does take you back, I’ll need to meet this strapping young man that’s captured your heart.”
“Me too! I’ve got a break in filming for a bit, so no sweat!” Alexis agreed.
“You two are the best,” said Jaime, wrapping them in a hug.
“You ready for this?” Alexis asked.
“Yep,” Jaime replied. “I talked to Steve earlier; he said Craig had some things to do around the bar, so he’ll be there tonight. I asked if I needed to call Craig ahead of time, but he said to just show up.”
“Good luck, Jaime,” Nina said.
“Thanks gals. See ya!”
Jaime exited the same hotel room she had stayed in a few weeks before when she had first met Craig. A quick wave to Tiffany in the lobby, and she started out for Steve’s on the Bay. It was later in the summer, and there were more tourists out than last time; many families wanted to squeeze in one last vacation before the summer ended. Though she had tried to conceal her identity at first, Jaime soon found this to be futile thanks to her suit making all the national news networks. Thankfully, everyone that recognized her was kind and supportive, not focusing at all on what she did for a living and instead praising her courage. Still, all that mattered to Jaime was Craig.
As she entered the bar and grill, Jaime found the place packed with customers. Steve was swallowed up by a gaggle of patrons at the bar area, so she decided not to approach him just yet. Scanning the room, she at last saw Craig sitting at an isolated high-top table in the far corner. But as she was about to move closer, she saw that he was not alone. It was hard to see her from a distance, but Jaime could tell that it was an attractive blonde woman. They were laughing, smiling, and making constant eye contact as they talked. Jaime saw what she had feared all along: Craig had moved on. Even as she wanted nothing more than to run up to them and beg him to take her back, Jaime knew she was better than that. Moreover, Craig deserved better than that. With tears welling up in her eyes, she turned and dashed out the door.
“Craig, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.”
“No complaints from me, Alison.”
“Huh? Dad, what’s up?”
“Get outside right now. I just saw Jaime here, but she ran out ‘fore I could catch her.”
Craig leapt to his feet. “I’ll be back in a minute, Alison.” Hustling to the door, he asked, “Dad, why would she run out?”
“She probably saw you with Alison and figured y’all were on a date.”
Picking his way through the mass of people, Craig finally made it to the door and exited into the hot evening air. His eyes scanned the beach frantically, but there were more people out than he expected. Just as he was about to give up, he saw it: a flash of long, auburn hair on a petite young woman. Craig ran as fast as he could across the sand, bumping into people every so often. He was afraid he’d lose her at first, but soon managed to get within earshot of her.
“Jaime! Jaime, wait!”
Jaime froze, recognizing the voice right away. She slowly turned to look behind her.
“You came back! Oh my God, you actually came back!” Craig panted as he caught up to her.
“I… what are you doing out here? Craig, I saw you in there… with that woman,” Jaime choked out through her tears.
“That was nothing! Dad saw you run out, so I came after you! I’d be a damned fool to let you get away a second time!”
“Craig… shit, Craig, I’m so sorry!” she cried, collapsing into his strong chest. “I should have never said what I said! Please, please forgive me!”
“Jaime, it’s alright. I’m sorry, too. I flew off the handle, made a total ass of myself.”
“No you didn’t-”
“Yeah, yeah I did. Jaime, I’ve been watching the news nonstop since you left, keeping track of your legal battle out in LA. I heard your public statement, saw all those actresses and directors rally to your side, and I thought, ‘Damn… she actually did it! She became that tough-as-nails woman she never thought she’d be!’ It made me realize how stupid I was to walk out on you. Don’t worry, Mom and Dad set me straight.”
“That’s good… wait, your mom set you straight? How?!”
“I had a dream about her,” Craig explained. “I had just had a fight with Dad over going back to Nashville. He agrees with you, by the way. Hell, he even fired me to try and motivate me.”
“Fired you?!” Jaime laughed.
“Yeah. I didn’t accept it at first, but that’s when I had my dream about Mom. I have no clue how real it was, but damn did it feel real. She gave one of her signature Lynn McNeal lectures about listening to my gut. She convinced me that I was in danger of missing out on something very special if I continued down the path I was on.”
“I take it she meant your music career?”
“Yeah, partly. But she also mentioned… you.”
“Me?” Jaime asked in surprise. “But… I never knew her?”
“I don’t think it matters,” Craig grinned. “She just told me to follow her best bit of advice: the head plays games, the heart doesn’t know what it really wants, but the gut don’t lie. My gut was screamin’ out loud every time I thought about you, and I was just ignoring it.”
“And what was it saying?”
“That I was a damn fool to walk out on you and a damn fool not to listen to your excellent advice. But you don’t have to worry; I’ve already got the ball rolling on my music career. What you saw in the bar was actually a part of that.”
“Craig?” came a female’s voice.
“Hey, sorry about runnin’ out, Alison,” Craig replied, turning to face her. “Alison, I’d like you to meet Jaime.”
“A pleasure, young lady,” she said, extending her hand.
“Likewise,” Jaime replied. She now saw that this woman was older than she had pegged her back in the bar, probably in her mid-forties. Alison was gorgeous, yes, but would have to be a true cougar to have been pursuing a younger man like Craig in a romantic sense.
“Jaime, this is Alison Krauss, twenty-seven time Grammy winner and the most famous bluegrass artist in the world right now. She heard my band last night and asked for a one-on-one meeting with me. Turns out, she wants The Bums You Wanna Know to open for her east coast tour this fall!”
“What?! That’s incredible!” Jaime squealed.
“Well, I just know Craig and his band are gonna be a huge hit, and I want to help ‘em get there,” Alison smiled. “Wait a sec, ain’t you the gal that’s been on the news lately? Fightin’ some porno director out in LA?”
“Yeah, that’s me,” Jaime blushed.
“My hat’s off to ya, young lady! Too many women all over this country just accept being beaten as a fact of life. Seein’ you fight back makes me happier than ever. Kudos!”
“Thank you,” Jaime replied.
“Craig, I’ll leave my contact info with your dad. We can firm up the details anytime. Looks like you’ve got something more important goin’ on for now,” Alison said with a wink. “Y’all take care.”
“Thanks, Alison,” said Craig, shaking her hand as she left. Turning back to Jaime, he asked, “Wow, so um, are you back? Like, for good?”
“For good,” Jaime giggled. “Gotta find a place to live, get my things moved from LA, but that shouldn’t be too hard. I lived on the cheap out there.”
“I’m glad. Does that mean you want there to be an… us?”
“Abso-fucking-lutely! Craig, I don’t care where I live; all I want is you. However you’ll have me, I’m yours, and yours alone.”
“Mine alone? So that means-”
“I quit. I can’t do that kind of work anymore, not after our time together. Damn, if that’s what sex can be, I won’t settle for anything less,” Jaime replied. Reaching into her purse, she pulled out an envelope with Craig’s name on it. “I got you a little present. Here, open it.”
Pulling out the folded paper, Craig read aloud, “Laboratory test results for patient Jaime Little. Jaime what is this?”
“After I decided to quit the business, I got one final checkup, a full workup of all possible STD’s. I’m completely clean, Craig, and now, I’m all yours. No condoms, no worries. Just you and me.”
Craig stood dumbfounded by her touching gesture. “Jaime… you’re incredible.”
“You’re not so bad yourself, stud,” Jaime replied.
After planting a long, passionate kiss on her lips, Craig whispered, “I love you, Jaime Little.”
“I love you too, Craig.” Taking his hand, she said, “Come on. There’s someone I want you to meet.”
“Knock, knock,” Jaime singsonged.
“Jaime! How’d it go?” Alexis asked.
“See for yourself,” she replied, opening the door wider to reveal Craig.
“Hi,” he said with a slight wave.
“He’s back! Ohmagod, you got him back!” Alexis squealed, wrapping Jaime up in a tight hug.
“Yeah, yeah, he’s back,” Jaime giggled. “Craig, I’d like you to meet my best friend, Alexis Forrest, and my mentor and idol, Nina Hartley. Ladies, this is Craig McNeal.”
“Delighted,” Nina said, extending her hand.
“Likewise,” he replied, shaking hers and extending his and to Alexis.
“Oh, screw that! C’mere you!” Alexis said, grabbing him in an excited hug.
“Didn’t I tell you she’s a hugger?” Jaime giggled.
“Yep, you did,” Craig laughed.
“Well come in, you two. Have a seat,” Nina said, ushering them to the small loveseat in their hotel room. “Sorry we don’t have anything to drink; we just got here this afternoon.”
“That’s ok! Jaime, why don’t you run down to the vending machines and grab us some sodas?” Alexis replied with a sly grin on her face. “Give us a chance to interrogate your man.”
“Fine, just be nice to him,” Jaime sighed. “I had a hell of a time getting him back, and I don’t need you two running him off again!”
“Go on, I’ll be fine,” Craig assured her, kissing her on the cheek as she left. As soon as the door closed, he turned to Nina and Alexis. “Ok, before she gets back, somethin’ I need to talk to you two about.”
“We’re listening,” Nina replied, raising her eyebrows.
“I know I fucked up big time last time Jaime was here, and I don’t wanna make that same mistake again. I love her, and the truth is… she’s the one I wanna wake up next to every mornin’ the rest of my life. I believe we’d build a great life and a wonderful family together. With that in mind… I’d like to ask your permission to propose marriage to Jaime.”
Alexis’ smile disappeared, replaced by a look of incredulousness. “And why would Jaime need our permission to-”
“Alexis, if I’m right,” Nina interrupted with a grin, “this is a sort of rite of passage in this part of the country. Is that right, Craig?”
“Yes ma’am. I realize Jaime doesn’t need anyone’s permission to marry whoever she wants, but I was raised with the understanding that there’s a proper order to things. Down here, if you want a girl to marry you, you ask her family beforehand. It’s a sign of respect; I understand that in marrying Jaime, I’m marrying her family as well. And seein’ as how she doesn’t have a biological family, I figured who better to ask than her closest friends?”
With a smile, Nina removed her glasses and wiped her eye. “Wow… Craig, that is incredibly sweet of you. You are right about that; Alexis and I wanted to come here and meet you to… size you up. Make sure you were the right fit for her. I suppose that does sort of make us her family.”
Alexis nodded, no longer carrying a look of derision. “Looks like Jaime was telling the truth about you; you really are as genuine and down-to-earth as she says. Still, she does have a bit of naïveté about her, like in first taking that job with Rocco Macho. What assurance do we have that you won’t take advantage of her success?”
“I understand that concern completely,” Craig replied. “Jaime has told me that she’s pretty self-sufficient, and I would never do anything to harm what she’s built for herself. If she agrees to marry me, ours would be a family of mutual respect where we each pull our own weight. Matter of fact, I’ve already got steady work lined up for the rest of the year. Y’all ever heard of Alison Krauss and the Union Station Band?”
“Can’t say that I have,” Nina answered.
“They’re one of the biggest bluegrass bands in the nation right now, and they want me and my band to travel with them, opening for each of their shows on their east coast tour. With a connection like that, other jobs and contracts will open up. Believe me, the last thing I want is for her to feel like I’m dependent on her or for her to be dependent on me. I want her as my partner, nothin’ more, nothin’ less.”
“I’m back!” Jaime said as she entered. “They were out of everything except Diet Coke. Hope that’s ok.”
“That’s perfect. Thank you, Jaime,” Nina replied. “Oh, I just remembered I left something out in the car! Alexis, would you be a dear and give me a hand?”
“Of course! We’ll be right back!” Alexis agreed, winking at Craig on the way.
As the door closed, Jaime said, “That was weird. What-”
Before she could finish, Craig had drawn her close, planting a long, sensuous kiss on her lips. He poured everything he had into that kiss, knowing what was about to happen. In the event she rejected him, at least they would have this moment.
“Jaime,” he said as they parted, “I know I fucked up last time. Right here in this room, I made the stupidest mistake of my life, and it almost cost me the girl of my dreams. I ain’t about to let her get away again. So far, you’ve been the one making grand gestures of affection, quittin’ your job and comin’ back after me, so now it’s my turn.” Moving down on one knee, Craig continued, “Jaime Little, will you marry me?”
Jaime stood in utter silence for several long moments, at first unable to believe this was actually happening. Only a squeeze to her hand reminded her that a question had been asked and needed an answer.
“EEEEEEEEEEK! YES, YES, YES!!!”
In an instant, Craig stood and scooped her up in his arms, savoring the feeling of her arms around his neck. A moment later, the hotel room door opened back up, bringing Nina and Alexis back into the room.
“Congrats, bestie!” Alexis squealed.
“We’re so happy for you!” Nina agreed.
“Wait… you two knew?! How?!” Jaime demanded.
Alexis said, “While you were getting the drinks, Craig asked us for permission to propose to you. He said it’s a custom to talk to a girl’s family first, and-”
“You two are the best family I could’ve ever hoped for!” Jaime said. Hopping out of Craig’s arms, she immediately wrapped her friends in a hug. “Thank you.”
“All we want is the best life for you. And based on our little chat with Craig, he’ll give you just that,” Nina replied. “So, when’s the big day?”
“Oh my god… I have no idea!” said Jaime. “I mean… I so don’t want a big affair or anything like that. You two are my only real family. Seriously, I’d be content just going down to the courthouse tonight, Craig!”
“I agree with a small, intimate wedding, but I can do ya one better,” Craig replied. “Tomorrow, let’s you and me go down to the courthouse and apply for a marriage license. That’ll take a few days to arrive, and once it does, we’ll get married on the beach outside Dad’s place. Whaddaya think?”
“Sounds perfect! Just you, me, my friends, your dad, and your band!”
“And that gives us time to give you a bachelorette party!” Alexis chimed in. “We have to send you off right!”
“Oh, you don’t have to…” Jaime started.
“No, we get to,” Nina corrected her. “Besides, after everything you’ve been through in the last few weeks, you’ve earned it. And since the wedding will be so soon, feel free to put together a registry for wedding gifts, and we’ll help coordinate that afterward.”
“That’s a good idea,” Craig agreed. “After all, we gotta figure out where the best place to settle is with my upcoming tour with Alison Krauss. I figure somewhere in Nashville, but there’s a lot of options.”
“And I need to start looking for work,” Jaime said.
“Nashville, you say?” Nina asked. “Jaime, I actually might have a lead for you. One of my friends, Jessica Jennings, is a former model and actress. She got out of the business a few years ago. She is, shall we say, full figured, and got tired of being shut out of legitimate modeling based on her natural body type. It didn’t matter how much weight she lost or how good her health was. No agency wanted her. So, she moved to Nashville to be near her family and started her own modeling agency. Her agency, Models Next Door, is dedicated to employing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes, and heights.”
“That sounds perfect! Why haven’t I heard of her?” Jaime wondered.
“She hasn’t quite broken past her niche status, but adding a high-profile young lady like you might be just what the doctor ordered,” Nina replied. “You’ve garnered some mainstream fame with this Rocco Macho business, and this could be an opportunity to use it for a great cause.”
“Wow… what do you think, Craig?” Jaime asked.
“This is as close to a sure thing as I’ve ever seen,” he grinned. “Take it.”
“Done! What do I need to do?”
Nina replied, “I’ll reach out to her, and you can set up an interview once you two make it up to Nashville. You’ll have to earn your way in, but I’m positive a bright young woman like you will be able to dazzle her. Oh Jaime, I must admit to being a bit envious of you.”
“Well, I’ve been thinking of retirement for a while now myself. I have the right people in place to keep my little empire running out in LA, so I could settle down somewhere quiet.”
“I think you should,” Jaime said.
“Yeah, you said it yourself: your heart has to be in it,” Alexis agreed.
“Aww, thanks you two. I may do just that, though what I’ll do I have no idea!” Nina admitted.
“Well, what are your strengths?” Craig asked.
“I’ve got a keen eye for business and finances; running a small empire will do that. But it’s understanding people that I want to get better at. I’m more introverted than people realize.”
Both Craig’s and Jaime’s eyes lit up at this. A quick glance at each other, and they seemed to have their first silent conversation as an engaged couple.
“We should introduce you to my dad,” Craig grinned. “He understands people like nobody I’ve ever met.”
A week later, Steve stood on the beach outside his bar fidgeting with his light blue, short sleeve button down and khaki shorts. After a few moments, two stunning women approached in light blue sundresses.
“Hello there, Steve. Here, I brought your boutonnière,” said Nina, pinning a yellow tulip to his shirt.
“Thank ya, ma’am. Alexis how are ya?”
“Doing well, Mr. McNeal,” she replied, greeting him with a hug.
“Wonderful. Should be a short and sweet affair. We’re almost ready, just waitin’ for the man and woman of the hour. I know Craig’s gettin’ ready in my place there.”
“And Jaime’s just putting some final touches on herself in a tent over the next dune,” Nina said. “Oh, I’ve been wanting to ask. Do you have any plans after the ceremony, Steve? I kind of want to pick your brain about small businesses like yours, if that’d be alright.”
“No problem! The bar’s closed for the rest of the day, so I’ll fix us up somethin’ from the kitchen for dinner. That ok?”
“Perfect. Alexis, I promise I’m not trying to ditch you.”
“It’s cool! Seriously, ditch away! I’m going to head into town tonight, maybe hit a few clubs,” Alexis replied. “Jaime’s getting some action tonight, so I might as well try and do the same.”
“There’s the man of the hour!” Steve shouted, seeing Craig emerge from his bar.
“Ooh, very nice,” Alexis purred, seeing Craig dressed in the same light blue shirt and khaki shorts as his dad.
“Told you Jaime has excellent taste in men,” Nina agreed. As she pinned Craig’s boutonnière onto his shirt, she whispered in a sultry voice, “Just remember: if you hurt Jaime, I will hunt you down, cut your balls off, and stuff them down your throat. Understand?”
Craig chuckled. “Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“Ok, it’s about that time. We best take our places,” Steve said.
The wedding was so small and intimate that there was not even a congregation gathered. As Jaime had requested, it was just Craig, Steve, Nina, Alexis, and Craig’s band, in addition to the minister. A long strip of white fabric led the way down the beach, ending under a small archway of flowers where everyone would be waiting for Jaime. Craig stood there, shaking in his flip-flops with excitement and anticipation at what was to come. After a moment, he at last saw her.
Jaime appeared at the top of the dune looking like something out of Craig’s wildest dreams. Her long, auburn hair was twisted into a single braid and wrapped into a stylish bun. Instead of a wedding dress, she wore a white tankini top and bikini bottoms, complemented by a flowing, translucent white sarong around her waist. In spite of her usual child-like beauty, she now appeared as she had always longed to appear: as an elegant, sophisticated woman. After a few deep breaths, she took her first steps towards the wedding party.
By the time the newlyweds arrived at their rented beach house, horny couldn’t even begin to describe Jaime’s demeanor. She was absolutely ravenous, having been teased and tormented by her husband all day. They of course had spent some time with the wedding party, socializing into the middle of the afternoon, but after that, Craig had insisted on taking Jaime out for a nice dinner as husband and wife. That was all well and good, but what she really wanted was to consummate their marriage. As they entered the house, Jaime locked the door behind her and immediately leapt at Craig, wrapping her arms and legs around him.
“Damn, girl!” he laughed between kisses. “You don’t waste time, do ya?!”
“Take me… bedroom,” she replied.
Figuring there was no use fighting her any longer, Craig scooped Jaime into his arms, carrying the tiny girl across the threshold of what would be their bedroom for the next several days. After depositing her on the bed, he began to unbutton his shirt, revealing his bare chest to her. Jaime’s eyes widened with lust with each button he undid. Tossing his shirt into the corner, Craig crawled onto the bed, kissing Jaime sweetly on the lips. She, however, was not content to let him take the lead this time. Maybe it was their teasing throughout that day, or maybe it was the fact that they had refrained from sexual activity for the week before their wedding, but regardless, Jaime was going to have her way with Craig. With as much strength as she could muster, she flipped him onto his back and pinned him to the bed.
“Feisty, are we?” Craig asked.
“You took the lead last time. Now, it’s my turn,” Jaime replied in a husky voice. “I need to show you just what’s in store for you… for the rest of your life.”
As Jaime lowered her head to Craig’s shorts, it was all he could do to send a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord above. She soon had the zipper lowered and his belt unbuckled. From there, it was child’s play for her to yank his shorts and boxers off in one fluid motion. Craig leaned up to start undressing her, but Jaime was having none of it and pushed him back down. Before he knew what was happening, she had engulfed his rigid member in her mouth.
Jaime proceeded to give him the blowjob to end all blowjobs. Try as he might to last a significant amount of time, poor Craig never stood a chance against Jaime and her vast repertoire of techniques. She tickled, teased, and sucked him with everything she had, enjoying every second of it in the process. When Craig had become nothing but a babbling madman, she finally ramped up the intensity, bringing him to his first of many orgasms that evening. Jaime handled it like a pro, drinking up every last drop of his seed without batting an eyelash until he began to soften in her mouth.
“And that’s just for starters,” she grinned as she released him.
“Holy fuck…” Craig moaned in reply.
As Jaime moved to get up for a moment, Craig found the strength to pull her back onto the bed. She playfully fought and giggled the entire time, but once Craig got her bikini bottoms off, she knew he had won. Even though he had none of the training or practice of her former costars, Jaime was nothing short of impressed with Craig’s oral skills. He went by instinct alone, yet had eaten her through two straight orgasms in no time, and even then, he refused to stop. She tried to get him to back off, but it was no use.
Guess it’s fair game… she thought to herself.
At last, her third orgasm in a row began to subside, and Jaime had to push Craig’s face away from her. He grinned and wiped his messy face on the sheets, moving up to lie beside her. She could only pant heavily and smile an enormous grin in reply.
“You look happy,” Craig teased her.
“You… would be… too,” Jaime shot back. “So awesome…”
“All of it. No breaks in the action… no holding special positions… no faked orgasms… so awesome.” Rolling over to face her husband, Jaime placed a long, sweet kiss on his lips. “I love you, Craig McNeal.”
“And I love you, Jaime McNeal.”
Jaime giggled at hearing her new name. “It does flow pretty well, doesn’t it?”
“I’d say so, but I am kinda biased.”
From then on, the couple barely needed a break, going at it like rabid squirrels long into the wee hours of the morning. Jaime continued to show off her sexual prowess, though she did show Craig how impractical many positions she would use on set were in reality. Mostly, such positions were used to get the best camera angle, not for physical pleasure. Still, Jaime’s toned muscles and flexible body were nothing short of unbelievable in Craig’s mind, and he loved the sound of her orgasms; she could never have faked them if she had wanted to. Better still, every time he began to doubt if he could rise to the occasion once again, the sight of her impish face and perky little tits did him in. By the time they both passed out from exhaustion around four in the morning, he had cum no less than six times. Both had lost count of Jaime’s hours ago.
Jaime awoke the next day feeling surprisingly well rested. Reaching over for her husband, she pouted a bit at feeling nothing but empty bed. A quick glance at the alarm clock revealed it was nearing 11:30. Figuring Craig was up to forage for food and coffee, she reluctantly rolled out to join him, grabbing her satin robe along the way.
There was no reply, and the kitchen appeared empty, save for a fresh pot of coffee on the counter. As Jaime poured herself a mug, she felt a slight draft coming from behind her. Seeing the front door slightly ajar, she grinned and sauntered onto the front porch, taking in the gorgeous view of the Gulf of Mexico before her. At that moment, the sound of a guitar coming from the other side of the porch startled her a bit. Her surprise was soon replaced by sheer joy as Craig began to serenade her with Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man.
Baby, last night was hands down
One of the best nights
That I’ve had no doubt
Between the bottle of wine
And the look in your eyes and the Marvin Gaye
Then we danced in the dark under September stars in the pourin’ rain
And I know that I can’t ever tell you enough
That all I need in this life is your crazy love
If I never get to see the Northern lights
Or if I never get to see the Eiffel Tower at night
Oh, if all I got is your hand in my hand
Baby, I could die a happy man
Tears began to well up in Jaime’s eyes as she listened to both her husband’s sexy voice and the heartfelt lyrics. If there was ever any question as to why Craig was marrying her, this act put that to bed in an instant. He loved her. Regardless of her upbringing, previous jobs, or how much money she had, he simply loved her for her.
“You… are unbelievable,” Jaime managed as he finished playing.
“Me? I’m the one who can’t believe all this really happened like it did!”
Taking a seat on the wicker loveseat with him, she remarked, “Guess there’s something about country that lets you say how you really feel about me.”
“Jaime darlin’, it’d take a lifetime for me to sing you all the country songs that describe how I feel ‘bout you. And then, I’d just write some more myself.”
Laying her head on his shoulder, she sighed, “I love you so much.”
“Love you too,” Craig grinned, kissing her on the forehead. “And I always will.”
Two years later
“Craig, I’m home!” Jaime called out.
“Hey, darlin’! How’d the shoot go?”
“Fantastic! It was a first: nothing but Models Next Door to promote Von Maur’s new line of maternity clothing!”
“Sweet! That’ll teach those stuck up Victoria’s Secret gals.”
“You know it! We about ready?” Jaime asked.
“Yep. Car’s all gassed up to go, just gotta load ‘er up.”
“Great! I’ll give you a hand with the bags.”
“You’ll do no such thing,” Craig laughed. “I am not lettin’ my pregnant wifey do any sort of liftin’ or carryin’. You sit a spell, I’ll let ya know when we’re loaded up.”
“You never let me have any fun…” Jaime pouted, trying to make him crack.
“Yeah, I’m a regular Simon Legree. The fact that you’re six months pregnant with our daughter’s got nothin’ to do with it!” Craig shot back.
“Fine,” she sighed, plopping down on their front porch swing. “You were so awesome last night, baby.”
“Thanks,” Craig blushed. “It’s a dream come true, to be sure. Who’d have thought The Bums You Wanna Know would make it all the way to the Grand Ole’ Opry!”
“Yeah, you fit right in with all the other country bumpkins,” Jaime teased him.
“Admit it; us country bumpkins are growin’ on ya.”
“Oh, is that why I married one?”
“Naw. Ya married one for how hung he is!”
Jaime rolled her eyes. “Men…”
“Lord knows why you gals keep us around,” Craig laughed. “By the by, I think I know the perfect name for our little girl.”
“Really? I’ve got one too. You go first! I want to see if we’re thinking the same thing!”
“Hey now, that feels like a trap to me,” Craig protested. “On three, we both say our idea at the same time. Fair enough?”
“Sure. One, two, three!”
“Lynn Alexis McNeal!” they said in unison.
“I knew it!” Jaime crowed.
“I’ll be damned, great minds do think alike!” Closing the trunk, he continued, “That’s the last of ‘em. Ready to head out?”
“Yep. Long drive to Apalachicola, but a wedding’s always worth it,” she replied, sliding into the passenger seat.
As Craig started towards the interstate, he mentioned, “I’ll have to give Nina the same advice she gave me right before our wedding.”
“And that is?” Jaime asked, not having heard this before.
Craig smirked. “If she hurts my dad, I’ll-”
“You’ll what?” Jaime interrupted, knowing what he was going to say. “We both know you don’t hit women!” she giggled.
“True enough… but I can always sic you on her!”
“Yeah, I do adore my Daddy Steve,” Jaime replied wistfully. “Seriously, they really are great together.”
“In business and otherwise,” Craig agreed. “A little weird at first, but I couldn’t keep ‘em apart if I wanted to. Dad hasn’t been this happy since Mom was alive.”
“Nina tends to have that effect. Still, I never pegged her as one to settle down in a small town. She’s come a long way. So have I, I guess…”
Craig glanced over at Jaime, seeing her smiling as she looked off into the distance. “Hey, you ok?”
“Yeah… I was just thinking.”
“Where I was two years ago,” she replied. “Even on my first film shoot, I always saw the adult film business as a means to an end. I never would have dreamed it would lead me here, though.”
Craig grinned, reaching over the console to take her hand in his. “I’m just glad I turned out to be that end.”
Jaime kissed her husband’s fingers lightly. “Me too.”