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- Prologue Day Before Thanksgiving 2014 5:27 p.m. “Oh my God, it’s been years since I’ve been to Boston!” I said, looking out the window as we drove past Fenway Park. “Mom is gonna love her accent.” Mark said from the front seat. He patted his chocolate lab, Addison on the head, who was the main girl in Mark’s life right now. “I just hope she loves Addy too…” “Why?” I asked, noticing that I was lazy with my i’s. “I don’t think we’ve ever had a Southerner in our house before.” Donnie replied, looking at me. “She’ll adore you.” He whispered to me. “Just like I do.” He leaned in and kissed my forehead. I always loved when he did that. “Does she know about…” I started. “Our age difference? Yeah beautiful, and its okay. She doesn’t care about things like that!” Donnie replied. “You worry too much Evie. Mom is chill and she’s cool and she loves everybody. You’re like the third girl he’s ever brought home. You should feel really special.” Mark told me. I looked up into Donnie’s brown eyes. “I do.” I whispered.


Let’s Take a Shot! October 2013


It was those chocolate brown eyes that I first fell in love with. I immediately knew who he was the moment I saw him walk into Tootsie’s, on that late fall night that reminded me of football season. I knew who he was because I had had the biggest crush on his younger brother, aka Marky Mark, when I was a teenager. We locked eyes, and continued to stay locked until he sat down. One bar stool in between us. He seemed different; maybe it was just because I had obsessed over his younger and more arrogant brother for so many years. “One more Harry?” I called out. He looked at me. I looked back and smiled. “One more for me too. Whatever she’s having. Put it on mine.” He said and held out a credit card. Harry caught my eye to question me. I nodded once.

He put two shots down on the counter. I held mine up and turned to him. He scrunched his brow. “Oh!” He said, and then held up his shot too. “I am not in this world to meet your expectations and you are not in this world to meet mine. You are you and I am I. And if by chance we find each other… then it’s beautiful.” I said, smiled and swallowed my shot. He took his and I started walking away. I heard him cough a few seconds afterwards. Probably on the whiskey he took and didn’t know of. “Northerners…” I mumbled under my breath.

- I Love the 90s Day Before Thanksgiving 2014 5:55 p.m. Their house was huge so lovely and so big. It reminded me of those houses in Brentwood that I absolutely loved. It was in a town right outside of Boston called Dorchester. “This isn’t where we grew up. We grew up in a really small house in this poor neighborhood. But we bought this house like five years ago for Mom, cause the family’s getting so big.” Mark told me as we got out of his Land Cruiser. All of a sudden I heard a scream, and looked up to see a plump woman come out the front door and scurry towards us. “Oh! My baby!” She screamed and threw her arms around Mark’s neck. I was amazed. My family wasn’t that affectionate at all. She hugged him for a long time, when she looked up and saw me. “And this must be Evie!” She said and walked towards me. She grabbed my hands and the smile never left her face. “You are absolutely beautiful.” She said and pulled me in for a hug. “Well thank you!” I replied. “Oh and listen to that accent!” She said as she wrapped her arm around my shoulder and led me into her house. “Boys get the suitcases!” She yelled back to them. The inside was as stunning as the outside. But the best part about it was that I could feel that it was a home. There were pictures in every available space. And the entire wall that lined the stairs was covered in family pictures. I loved it. “Oh my gosh, something smells so good!” I said, breathing in the scent of something that had to be delicious.

“That’s probably Mom’s homemade stuffing. It takes her like three days to cook it, but it’s the best.” I heard Donnie say from behind me. “Ohh… You’re too nice.” She said to him and kissed his cheek. Her kitchen was filled with mouth-watering food for that we would be eating later and I couldn’t wait. “You guys get your things upstairs. Only Katie, Jake and Robert are coming.” Miss Dory Ann said. (I learned her name later.) “Why Ma!? Me and Donnie haven’t come for like the past three years!” Mark replied, a little irritated. “Well I know! But they’re doing Thanksgiving with the other families tonight. It’s okay though. My two favorite boys are here!” She replied. “Ma you’d say that about whoever was here.” Mark mumbled. Donnie grabbed my hand from behind and we grabbed our suitcases to go upstairs. “So where am I sleeping?” I asked him as we walked up. “In mine and Mark’s old room. Mom did some work on it. You’ll probably love it.” He said and chuckled. We stopped in front of a door that had the initials D and M on it. I looked up at him and cocked my eyebrow. “Since there were 9 of us Mom had to monogram the doors so she knew whose rooms they were. We used to switch up the letters and piss her off so bad.” Donnie said. He opened the door and we walked in. It was like I stepped back into the early 90s with the mindset of a fanatical pre-teen. Marky Mark posters and New Kids on the Block posters covered every inch of the wall. There were posters from every single movie that each one of them had starred in. And all other sorts of New Kids paraphernalia. Books, magazines, dolls, ticket stubs from their concerts, clothes, lunch boxes, notepads, pens and pencils. Anything you could ever imagine. She had every CD each one of them had made. And every movie they had been in. It was crazy! I dropped my purse to the floor and slowly turned around to face Donnie who was behind me. My mouth was in a wide open smile and I just started laughing. “I knew you’d love it…” He muttered. He walked towards me, slipped his arms around my waist and kissed me.


Not as Profound as James Dean? November 2013

“And I’d wish on every star In the Southern sky For that man in our life. If I did not think that. No…


Maybe I was much too selfish, But baby you’re still on my mind. Now I’m grown and all alone. And wishin I was with you tonight. Cause I can guarantee, Things are sweeter in Tennessee.” I had spotted him right when he walked in, in the middle of my song. It had been three weeks since he came into Tootsie’s that night in October. I walked towards him after the applause and was stopped a few times to receive compliments, but my eyes never left him. He looked very hot sitting on the same bar stool, drinking some dark liquored drink. “Harry?” I said and pounded the counter. He put two shots down in front of me. I slid one down to him. “Your turn to toast, Mr. Wahlberg.” I said and held up my glass again. He gave me a funny look, because we both knew he hadn’t introduced himself. And it had been three weeks. “But your toast was so good last time… It still has me baffled.” He replied. “Alright how about this, dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” He said and took his shot, coughing again. “Not original but I’ll take it.” I took my shot too. “How come you’re not choking after that shot?” He asked me. “Cause I’m used to them.” I said and smiled. “Got any requests?” “You’re going to sing again after that shot?” He asked. “Yeah it loosens up my throat.” I replied, and got off the bar stool. “Etta James, At Last!” He called out as I was halfway back to the stage. I looked back over my shoulder and smiled back at him. “It was two weeks after the day she turned eighteen. All dressed in white, going to the church that night…” When I was finished, I started walking back over to him but he was already standing. I held out my hand. “I’m really not that difficult. My name is Evie,” I said and he shook my hand. “You know you’re a really good singer,” he said. “Please spare me your producer spiel. I sing because I love to.” I said to him. “That’s good because I’d want you to love to sing only for me.” He replied. That’s when I finally got a glimpse of his eyes. And I started to fall…


The Best Remedy for the Worst Hangover Is… Thanksgiving Day 2014 8:17 a.m.


I walked downstairs and into the kitchen where I saw Miss Dory Ann cooking, again. “Can I help you with anything?” I asked. She turned around surprised. “Well good morning!” She exclaimed. “No you don’t need to help me with anything! Sit down and I’ll get you some breakfast.” “Oh I don’t eat breakfast. Some fruit will be fine.” I said as I grabbed some grapes from a bowl in front of me. “I don’t understand you young girls. Trying to stay skinny all the time…” She mumbled. I smiled. “Well then what’s on the menu for breakfast Miss Dory Ann?” “That’s what I like to hear! French toast with powdered sugar and buttermilk syrup.” She replied. “Ugh… so many calories,” I whined, to give her a hard time. She set a plate down in front of me filled with strips of French toast and completely covered in gooey syrup and snow white powder. “So when are the other three getting here?” I asked, putting a forkful of gooey bread in my mouth. “Well we usually don’t do Thanksgiving until about 4 or 5, so they won’t be here till after lunchtime.” She replied. “Oh okay…” I mumbled. “So as soon as you get Donnie up, I want him to show you around Dorchester.” She said. “They took me to Mickey’s last night.” I said. “Oh gosh, I don’t remember a day when they weren’t all hanging out at Mickey’s.” She said while stirring something on the stove. “It was nice. It reminded me of the bars back in my hometown.” I said, thinking about Auburn. I missed that town, but I did not miss home. “I’m really glad Donnie brought you home for Thanksgiving. I was beginning to think this perfect girl he was tellin me about did not exist!” She said. “Oh I am far from perfect,” I replied. “Well he seems to think otherwise. And if he thinks your perfect, then you must be!” She exclaimed. I was beginning to think Miss Dory Ann couldn’t see faults or flaws in anyone. She just loved everyone for who they are. I took one more bite of the delicious French toast, one more too many. I stood up, brought my plate to the sink and began washing it. “Oh hunny! Don’t do that!” She said and popped my hand. I just giggled and let her take the dirty dishes out of my hands. I started walking away. “If you two do go out, can get you get a couple of bags of ice?” “Yes ma’am!” I called out walking up the stairs. As I walked up the stairs, I heard a low voice get louder.

I stopped outside of the door I’d become familiar with, when I heard Mark’s voice. “Man get out of the fucking bed! There are two great women down there and you are not going to ruin this day for either of them.” I heard him yell. I turned from the door and leaned against the wall space right next to it. “This is the first time you’ve been home for Thanksgiving in like five years! You know how much that means to Mom. You could at least get your ass up and spend time with her. And you brought a girl home to meet her! A great girl. A girl who loves you for some reason that I cannot understand because your hung over ass is still in bed while she’s downstairs with mom. Donnie she stood there at Mickey’s last night watching you make a fool of yourself, she helped me carry your ass upstairs, and she took care of you while you were puking. You better be damn happy you have her Donnie. And if you don’t apologize to her today for last night, I will kick your ass.” My eyes filled up with tears, but I fought hard to hold them back. My mind flashed back to the many nights he came to me drunk, and the many times I took care of him, soothed him and prayed that he would stop drinking so much. I heard hard footsteps coming towards the door and it slung open. I took a breath. Mark heard me. He turned around with the most infuriating look on his face. It softened when he realized it was me. “He doesn’t deserve you at all, Evie. I don’t know how you’ve put up with him.” Mark muttered to me and walked away. “It’s called love.” I whispered. I walked into the semi-dark bedroom and over to the lump on the bed. He rolled over and smiled when he realized I was standing over him. “Morning beautiful.” He said in his deep, scratchy morning voice. “Let’s take a shower kay?” I asked him. As I walked towards the attached bathroom, I took off my sweatshirt, which was actually one of his old ones from Boston College. I had nothing on under it. I looked over my shoulder and cocked one of my eyebrows at him. “Coming…” he mumbled. I stepped into the steamy shower and let the hot water pour all over my body. I loved hot showers and I loved taking showers with Donnie. I closed my eyes remembering our last shower together which was about a month ago, one of his frisky drunken nights, when I felt his hands on my lower hips. Then I felt his lips on the small of my back. “I love this tattoo,” he said. He kissed from the small of my back all the way up to the side of my neck right under my ear, which is my weak spot. He ran his hands from my neck down my breasts to my hip bone. He was making me shiver in a scalding hot shower. I turned around to look at him. For a 39 year old man, he looked fantastic.

Granted he had slight crow’s feet around his eyes and his hair was thinner, but I thought that made him even sexier. His flat stomach and chiseled chest were enough to make any girl melt. His broad shoulders lead to scrumptious arms (my favorite) where seeing the veins pop out drove me crazy. He would always be the hottest guy in New Kids. I put my arms on his gorgeous stomach and slid them up and around his neck. I looked in his beautiful brown, bloodshot eyes, feeling like I looked like a lost puppy. “I love you Evie and you know I wouldn’t have brought you here if I didn’t care for you a lot…” he started. “I know…” I whispered. “I’m so sorry about last night, Evie.” He said and looked down. “I accept your apology.” I replied. I leaned in and kissed his beautiful lips. “You always accept it Evie, why don’t you ever say no?” He asked, with a frustrated look on his face. “Because if by chance we find each other… then it’s beautiful.” I said. “I am so happy I found you.” He said and leaned in to kiss me very passionately. We made out in the shower for awhile, lathering each other up and laughing the whole time. He kept eye contact with me like I asked him too. He knew I hated being naked, and even though he constantly told me he loved my body, I couldn’t ever accept that he wanted it because there were so many other gorgeous girls who he could easily have. We got out of the shower and got ready for our outing. I put on a white cowl-neck sweater with tight jeans and my favorite cowboy boots. I also put on the square diamond necklace that matched the right hand diamond ring I got when I turned 21. I spent years searching every Kay Jewelers to find the matching necklace that went with my ring, but they had discontinued making it. Then this past Valentine’s Day, which was also my birthday, Donnie surprised me with it. It meant a lot to me that he found the necklace, and it also meant a lot that Donnie gave it to me. No man had ever given me real jewelry before. And I loved the look he got on his face when he noticed me wearing it. Like he was happy that I was proclaiming myself as his. Donnie put on my favorite pair of jeans that hugged his butt just right, a gray Ed Hardy tshirt and a navy blazer I had bought for him, when I took him to the Tennessee – Auburn football game a couple of weeks ago. “You look so handsome,” I said, brushing the fuzz off the front of the blazer. “And you look beautiful as always,” he said and kissed me cheek. We walked downstairs holding hands and into the kitchen. “Look who’s finally awake and looking handsome!” Miss Dory Ann exclaimed and hugged her third youngest son. I glanced over at Mark who stuffed half a piece of French toast in his mouth. He was watching the mother and son in front of me and rolled his eyes.

We took off in Mark’s Land Cruiser and it took about 15 minutes to get to the heart of Boston. “Oh your mom wants us to get ice too,” I told him. He reached his right hand over and placed it on my thigh. I wrapped my arm around it and stroked his muscular forearm. “We’ll get it on the way back. I wanna take you to a couple of places first.” He said to me and gave me a mischievous grin. “Oh god, are you gonna embarrass me?” I asked and punched his arm. We drove past these huge stone buildings that covered almost three blocks in downtown Boston. Donnie took a side road in between some of these buildings into a small parking lot. We walked in some sort of back door and up lots of stairs into a plain looking hallway. The walls were covered in brightly colored fliers about this group meeting on Monday nights, and advertisements for this particular bookstore. It reminded me of being in college. I grabbed Donnie’s arm and pulled him towards me. “Where are we?” I hissed at him. “Just trust me, please.” He replied, and slipped his hand into mine. I didn’t want to because he was known for surprises, but they always turned out to be good surprises. We came upon a door where Donnie just walked right through and I found myself in a large room with about four rows of students, each row a level higher than the one in front of it. But overall, there were at least 100 students. Donnie let my hand drop and walked over to the eldest man in the room, who reminded me of my old college choir conductor, Dr. Smith. They exchanged a few silent words, and Donnie turned to me and motioned for me to come over. “Students, we have two very special guests here today. Mister Donnie Wahlberg, who used to be one of my private students, and Miss Evie Maddox. Please welcome them here today.” The older man said. Applause filled the room. “Hey guys, I’m Donnie. Um, you probably know me cause I’m in New Kids on the Block and I’ve been in a few movies like Saw II and The Sixth Sense, and I’ve produced a lot of movies. This is my girlfriend, Evie, and she’s all the way from Alabama visiting Boston with me. So I wanted to bring her here to see who helped spark my interest in singing and performing.” He turned to look at the director. “Doc, can we hear something?” He nodded his head and walked over to the music stand in the middle of the room. We pulled up two chairs in the corner so that we were diagonally facing the choir. Donnie slid his fingers in between mine, and I saw at least five girls’ eyes dart towards that movement. The choir started singing moments later and it was breathtaking. They sang a version of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” that was so beautiful. When they were done, we clapped for them. “That was so great!” I said out loud.

The conductor turned to us and nodded his head in thanks. “I understand that you sing as well Miss Maddox,” he said towards me. “Oh, well yes, but I am nothin compared to y’all,” I replied, noticing my blatant Southern accent. Then, surprisingly, the crowd of students started encouraging me with “Come on’s” and “Let’s hear you sing”. “Do y’all have a guitar?” I asked. Donnie followed the director into a side room to try to find one. “Why are y’all practicing on Thanksgiving anyways?” I asked the class full of students. One student spoke up. “Every year we sing holiday songs at the Harbor on Thanksgiving. It’s just a tradition we have. Then we all have Thanksgiving dinner together.” “And which choir is this?” I asked and turned to the director. “This is the Berkley School of Music Chamber Choir, Miss Maddox.” He answered. “Wow! Y’all must be the elite choir. God, then I’m gonna sound like a loser,” I said. They all just laughed at me, but I was being serious. Donnie walked back in the room with a guitar. “Of course…” I whispered to myself. It took him 14 seconds to tune the guitar and started strumming. I recognized the beginning of the song instantly because Donnie says it’s the song I sang when he fell in love with me. “It was two weeks after the day she turned 18, All dressed in white, going to the church that night. She had his box of letters in the passenger seat, Six pence and a shoe, something borrowed, something blue. Then the church doors opened up wide, She put her veil down, tryin to hide the tears. Oh, she just couldn’t believe it. She heard the trumpets from the military band And the flowers fell out her hand. Baby why’d you leave me? Why’d you have to go? I was countin on forever. Now I’ll never know. I can’t even breathe. It’s like I’m lookin from a distance Standing in the background. Everybody’s sayin ‘He’s not coming home now.’ This can’t be happening to me. This is just a dream…”

A roar of applause filled the room after I finished. I was shocked. My voice was nothing compared to theirs. I didn’t sound near as trained as they were. On our way out, I think every student said something nice to me. It made me feel like a celebrity. We finally made our way back outside to the chilly Boston air. “Oh Donnie that was awesome!” I screamed to him as we walked to the car. He reached for my hands and pulled me close. “I remember when I first mentioned being from Boston, you said you came here in college, but you never got to see Berkley School of Music, you just passed by it. So I wanted to do that for you.” Donnie said. “You are too amazing.” I replied and kissed him on his beautiful lips. We jumped in the car and my adrenaline was pumping. Whether from the aftershock of nervousness of singing or kissing Donnie so passionately, I couldn’t tell. “Now what are we going to do!?” I asked excitedly. “We’re going to celebrate.” He said confidently. He had all this planned out, I figured. “Celebrate what?” I asked. “Well it’s been over a year since we sold ‘Tennessee’ to The Wreckers and almost a year since we sold ‘Just a Dream’ to Carrie.” He replied. “And I wouldn’t be making any money if it weren’t for your amazing salesman capabilities.” I said and squeezed his hand.


A New Kid at the Grand Ole Opry January 2014


“I know she’s not famous, but I’m not trying to sell her! She doesn’t care about being famous. But listen to her song. She’s a really good writer.” Donnie told the execs of Arista Records. I was impatiently waiting outside in a lobby with my dad’s Martin guitar. I bought it from him when I started writing music. When Donnie opened the door, he just smiled at me and tilted his head back real quick to tell me I could come in. We had been spending a lot of time together the last couple of months and he had spent the entire week before trying to persuade me to sell my music. I walked into a room that was somewhere between an office and a small conference room. Three official-looking people stood casually at the opposite end. Their faces were expressionless which didn’t help my nerves at all. I was afraid the yellow and blue dress I wore was too much. They turned their backs and opened a door that I didn’t notice was there. We walked into another room that was a small recording studio. They walked farther into the sound booth.

Donnie turned to me and whispered, “You ready for this?” “Yeah!” I said, putting the strap over my shoulder. Donnie kissed me on the cheek, which gave me a little tingle, and walked into the sound booth as well. “We’re going to record this just in case they like it.” Donnie told me through an intercom. I grabbed the head phones that were above and in front of me hanging on the old-timey microphone which was in turn hanging from the ceiling. I adjusted the microphone so that the big round circle was directly in front of my entire face. I looked up and Donnie held up five fingers, then four, then three… I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “I never had all the answers. I never had enough time. But I sure had all the reasons, Why you weren’t what I wanted to find. I never laid all my goods out. You just wanted to play. The King here waiting on my doorsteps. But the Joker and me went on our way. Maybe I was much too selfish But baby you’re still on my mind. Now I’m grown and all alone. And wishin I was with you tonight. Cause I can guarantee Things are sweeter in Tennessee. These days everything is all business. Never in one place for too long. But there’s no lack of arms around me. But I still wonder if somewhere I went wrong. And I’d wish on every star In the Southern sky For that man in our life. If I did not think that. No… Maybe I was much too selfish, But baby you’re still on my mind. Now I’m grown and all alone. And wishin I was with you tonight. Cause I can guarantee,

Things are sweeter in Tennessee.” I opened my eyes and looked at Donnie who was cheesing so bad. A week later, Donnie took me out to a fancy dinner and told me the best news. “So… the execs at Arista loved you! They played your song for this new female duo called The Wreckers who also loved it. Charlie Coffield wants to offer you a contract. I don’t know the details, but you’ll get like $100,000 for every song you write, plus $150,000 more if a music group wants it. Then you get like $100 every time each song is played on the radio or downloaded off iTunes. I mean, that’s not really it, but it’s something like that.” He explained to me. I covered my mouth with my hands. “Oh my god Donnie!” I whispered. He grabbed one of my hands and kissed the top of it. “Thank you so much! I can’t even express how thankful I am.” I said, tears welling up in my eyes. “I just set up the appointment. It was all you! You’re so gorgeous and talented.” He said, smiling. “And you needed a real job.” “Oh!” I said and playfully hit him.


Being drunk, in the afternoon, in public… reminds me of college! Thanksgiving Day 2014 12:47 p.m.


That night was the first time Donnie kissed me on the lips. It was on the steps in front of my apartment, in the rain. Kind of like a scene from a romantic movie. And I loved it. I knew, during that kiss, that he was the person meant for me. “That’s not it. What’s the real reason we’re celebrating?” I asked. “Well I kinda consider that about the time we started dating…” He trailed off and turned to look at me. I was just smiling. We hadn’t really officiated our dating, we just kept spending time with each other. Which was odd for me because with other guys I’d dated, I always wanted to have an official date so that we could plan anniversary dinners and so I’d have an exact length of time to tell people who asked. But with Donnie, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to spend as much time with him as possible. “Okay… and?” I questioned him. “Well I wanted to take you to a place that I love! And that I haven’t been to in a long time.” He replied. About ten minutes later we pulled up to the Samuel Adams Brewing Company.

Go figure. He wanted to drink before his family arrived. My happiness subsided a little. How was this a celebration for us being together? I didn’t realize he had gotten out of the car and walked over to my side until he opened my door. “Come on!” He said, exuberant like a child in a toy store. We went inside and he paid the $25 for each of us to get the tour of how the beer was made, which included being able to sample all the different beers. Every worker recognized him and after 10 minutes of standing there waiting for the next tour to start, someone had already brought him two complimentary beers. Here we go, I thought. Now I understand how my friends felt so many years ago feeling like they had to watch me. No I won’t do it. Let him have fun. “Bet you another beer I can finish before you?” He said. “You’re on!” I said. “Go!” I started chugging the sweet tasting ale, which went down smoother than expected. But he still beat me. “Dammit!” I yelled. Then I leaned in to kiss him, loving the taste of cold beer on his lips. We got another round right before the tour started. I linked my free arm through his as we started walking through the process of how beer is made. “My dad took each one of his boys here when we turned 21. And then the oldest ones would keep coming, so each year it was just like one more had been added. Mark couldn’t wait for it cause he was the youngest boy. But when he took his first sip he made the funniest face, but he forced himself to swallow it so he wouldn’t seem like a wimp. Dad was around 60 then and starting to struggle. Mom didn’t want him to go that year because she was afraid he’d tire himself out walking so much. But he refused her and took his last son.” Donnie told me as we lagged behind the group. “You miss your dad a lot, don’t you?” I asked him. I knew he didn’t like talking about him because of what had happened the last few years he was alive. You see, Donnie’s dad, Donald Wahlberg Sr., was an alcoholic and died because of it. Although he had never told me, from what I had pieced together over the last year, I think he had a stroke. “Yeah, not for me, but for Mark and Katie. Just cause they didn’t get to spend as much time with him as any of the rest of us. He was drunk most of their lives, which I don’t have to explain is pretty embarrassing at birthday parties and weddings.” I could see the sadness cross his face, but quickly fade. He smiled as bright as the kid he seemed like earlier and said, “But let’s not think about that! Let’s have a great time!” In total, I had four beers, Donnie had about six. And we sampled every single beer that Samuel Adams made, which was like 30 something. I lost count. Donnie and I giggled the whole last leg of the tour. And he was getting really touchy. I’m glad the tour was done because we were urging to get home.

We got back to the car, laughing and talking about how pumped we were about eating Thanksgiving, when Donnie stopped laughing and looked at me. “What?” I asked, confused. He leaned in and kissed me very sweetly. I put my hand up to his cheek and felt his sexy stubble. “What was that for?” I asked. “Today has been wonderful. And I’m so glad I shared it with you.” He whispered. “I’m glad too handsome.” I replied. “I love you Evie Dee Anne Maddox.” He said with seriousness in his chocolate brown eyes. “I love you too Donald Franklin Wahlberg.” I said and I knew in my heart I meant every word of it. He snapped out of his love trance. “So off to the liquor store?” He asked. I scrunched my brow in confusion. “No, we need to get ice.” “Yeah I know.” Donnie said and gave me his mischievous grin. “Donnie…” I said, trying to sound like I disapproved. It didn’t matter. I knew that gene that ran in the Wahlberg men, when they had their mind set there was no use trying to stop them. We got back to his mother’s house half an hour later with three bottles of liquor, two bottles of wine and two cases of beer. None of which I had purchased, even though a small bottle of Jack Daniels was mine. There were two new cars in the driveway when we pulled up. “Everyone’s here,” Donnie grumbled. The house smelled twice as wonderful when we walked back in. “Hey!” I heard a younger female voice say. Then this beautiful young blonde appeared around the corner. “Hey baby Katie!” Donnie said, set the bags down and gave her a hug. “Are you going to call me that for my entire life, D?” She asked and returned the hug. Then her eyes landed on me. Sisters to a new girlfriend could either result in best friends or conniving enemies. But then a sweet smile spread across her face. “You must be the Southern girl Donnie has fallen for.” She said to me. “Yeah, I’m Evie.” I replied and stuck out my hand. “Nice to finally meet you,” she said to me, and then whispered, “I’m glad there’ll be another young woman at Thanksgiving.” “Speaking of which, Mark! Where is your woman?” Katie yelled and started walking away. “She’s outside doing number two!” I faintly heard Mark yell back. Donnie and I carried the bags into the kitchen where Miss Dory Ann was at her place by the stove. I looked over on the kitchen counter and my heart filled with joy. “Is that macaroni and cheese!?” I said ecstatically.

“Yeah I told Ma that was your favorite food and she dug up a recipe for it. She said she hadn’t cooked it in like 20 something years.” Donnie told me as he put the alcohol in the fridge. “I hope you like it! I don’t know how good it’s going to be,” Miss Dory Ann said to me. “Oh thank you so much! I’m sure it’s fine. That just made my day!” I said. I caught Donnie looking at me. He walked closer to me and whispered in my ear, “This morning didn’t already make your day? Or this afternoon?” “Oh hush!” I said and punched his arm. “Owww! Ma, Evie’s abusing me!” He jokingly whined. “Well you probably deserved it!” She said shaking a spatula at him. Still feeling my buzz, I laughed a little too loudly. “Who’s cackling?” I heard someone ask. An obvious Wahlberg man who looked younger than Donnie and Mark walked into the kitchen. I covered my mouth, embarrassed that I had cackled. “Oh the Southern girl!” He said, half excited and half sarcastic. “Is that my name now!?” I asked “Yeah! Every new person brought to the house gets a label.” Robert said. “He’s the comedian of the family,” Donnie whispered to me. “Hey man!” He said and tossed Robert a beer. “Get out of my kitchen so I can finish up! The turkey won’t be done for another hour!” Miss Dory Ann yelled at us. “Evie can I get your help with something?” She asked me. “Yes ma’am?” I asked her. She eyed her children to make sure they got out of the kitchen. “Did Donnie take you to the Samuel Adams Brewery place?” Miss Dory Ann asked me. I was stunned. “I know you did because you both smell like it.” She said and forced a smile. I could feel my throat closing up. “I’m sure he told you that Donald Sr. used to bring each of the boys up there when they turned 21. And they’d all come home smelling like beer. But it didn’t stop there. Donald introduced them to Mickey’s and that was their spot. None of the girls were allowed to go. And you know I didn’t mind…” She faded. She was silent for a few moments, and then I heard her sniffle. I walked closer to her and grabbed her cold, withered hand. “It was when the boys were carrying Donald Sr. in at 3 every other morning that it really started to bother me. I barely ever said anything because of his temper, but I think the boys could see how hurt I was, when I waited up for them with a handful of Aspirin.” “Miss Dory Ann, you don’t have to tell me any of this…” I started. “No, I want to. See my point is, out of all our boys, Donnie is most like his father. And I can see those same characteristics from when Donald Sr. drank a lot.” She continued. “Before Donnie met you and before he was back in New Kids, he was a worse drinker than he is now. I don’t know what you’ve done to him, but please continue doing it. I know he loves you and I believe you love him and I know he’s fighting this beast because he wants to be a great man for you.”

At this point, tears were welling up in my eyes. “I’m just scared because I don’t want to lose my son the same way I lost Donald,” she said as a couple of tears rolled down her cheeks. “I promise I will do as much as I can Miss Dory Ann,” I told her. She gave me a hug and whispered Thank You in my ear. I walked out of the kitchen to let Miss Dory Ann compose herself and walked past Donnie. “I’m gonna go change clothes,” I said and kissed Donnie on the cheek. “Can I come?” Robert asked me. I saw Donnie playfully slap his face before I turned my back. When I got upstairs and safely behind the door inscribed with a D and M, I sat down on the bed and cried my eyes out.


Truth: What’s Your Deepest Darkest Secret? May 2014


The first time Donnie slept over I was as nervous as a high school freshman holding hands with the senior quarterback. We had just had dinner at Provino’s, my favorite Italian restaurant in Brentwood, and after Donnie had a few Jack and Coke’s, he wanted to go sing karaoke. I obliged because I loved to sing and we hadn’t done that before. We got to some karaoke bar about twenty minutes from my apartment. We had a few drinks and I watched him sing old New Kids songs. I smiled and laughed, embarrassed of him but loving him a little more. I heard the familiar chords of my favorite Brad Paisley song and looked up. Donnie was pointing at me and motioning with his index finger to come up on stage. I rolled my eyes, finished my beer and walked onstage. “She put him out, like the burning end of a midnight cigarette. She broke his heart. He spent his whole life trying to forget. We watched him drink his pain away, a little at a time. But he never could get drunk enough, to get her off his mind. Until the night…” Donnie turned and looked at me, as if cueing me. And I realized I wanted to move forward in our relationship. “He put that bottle to his head and pulled the trigger. And finally drank away her memory. Life is short, but this time it was bigger. Than the strength he had to get up off his knees. We found him with his face down in the pillow. With a note that said ‘I’ll love her till I die.’

And when we buried him beneath the willow. The angels sang a whiskey lullaby.” We finished the beautiful song and he grabbed me, spun me and dipped me into a kiss. We left the bar and walked back to my place, hand in hand. We got to my doorstep and instead of leaning in to kiss him, I moved towards his ear. “I want you to stay tonight,” I whispered. Donnie gave me a thrilled look and followed me inside. I dropped my purse and keys on the table. As I walked towards the kitchen, I kicked off my heels. I pulled two beers out of the fridge and when I turned around, Donnie was right behind me. He pulled the two beers out of my hand, opened them, and then set them on the counter. Then he put his hands on my waist and hoisted me up onto the counter as well. I took a pull of my beer as Donnie pulled off his blazer. “God you are so hot,” I said, as I wrapped my legs around his waist and pulled him closer. Our lips met hard and we kissed very passionately. I was unbuttoning his shirt, when Donnie put his hands on either side of my face. I looked up at him, wondering why he stopped. “I love you Evie.” He said. And there it was. The words I knew I wanted him to say to me. The words I wanted only him to say to me for the rest of my life. “I love you.” I replied. I hopped off the counter, turned around and pulled up my hair. A sign that I wanted him to unzip my dress. He unzipped my black dress slowly, and kissed my shoulder. I grabbed my beer and began walking towards my bedroom. Just as I got to the doorway, I looked back at Donnie who was still standing in my kitchen, holding his beer with his shirt half-buttoned down. “Come on, old man. Let’s see what you got.” I said and walked right in. Making love to Donnie was amazing, as I knew it would be. And his body is so gorgeous I couldn’t get enough of it. He found the tattoos that he didn’t know I had, as I did with him. And apparently tattoos on girls drive him a little crazy. Just like tattoos on guys do with me. He drifted off for a few minutes as I scratched his back. He woke up and saw me looking at him. “Don’t be a creeper,” he muttered. I smiled at him and bit my lip. “Can I tell you a secret Donnie? It’s something I want you to know about me,” I said. “Sure baby,” he said and rolled on his side to face me.

“I don’t want you to think that this is an attack on you, because I know you like to drink and have fun. But when I was in college, I became really depressed and I had a bad drinking problem. I went to a therapist, I went through in-patient rehab, I had to move home when I was 22 and I got in trouble with the law. It was a bad time in my life. But I was so set on moving away to Nashville, to another town where no one knew me and I could get away from my parents that I quit binging so much. Being so focused on something I really wanted to do just took my mind off it. So when I graduated, I took off. And I have loved being in Nashville. And being on my own, working towards a career, and even meeting you has kept my mind off drinking so much. Granted, I have drank a little more than normal singing at Tootsie’s and hanging out with you. But I don’t want to go down that road again,” I said. I looked up at Donnie with tears in my eyes. “I care about you so much Donnie and I want to be perfect for you. But it’s really hard when I see you drinking so much. I am not going to lecture you or give you any kind of ultimatum, because that’s what people used to do to me and it drove me to drink more and more because I knew I was a disappointment. You are older than me and you’re in the public eye and I trust you to make your own decisions.” He lifted his hand and wiped the tears away that were sliding down my cheek. “I don’t ever want to disappoint you Evie,” Donnie said to me.


You’ve Sunk My Battleship Thanksgiving Day 2014 6:04 p.m.


After I composed myself, I washed my face and reapplied my make-up. I changed into a black v-neck shirt with a silver lace tank top underneath; because I’m sure my white sweater reeked of beer. I put on a happy face and walked downstairs. I was greeted with a cheer. “Hey!! There she is!” I heard Donnie yell. Everyone raised glasses in the air. Even Miss Dory Ann had a glass of wine. I walked over to Donnie who put his arm around my waist. He put a glass of what looked like Coke into my hand. “I want to make a toast.” Donnie said. “To family, even though only a third of us are here today, we’re still family and family is important. To Robert, thanks for believing in me when I wanted to try new things. To baby Kate, if you ever get in trouble, I will always be here for you. To Mark, even though you’re my younger brother, don’t forget I can still whoop your ass. To Ma, you will always be the best woman in my life and I appreciate everything you have ever done for this family.” “And to the newest woman in my life,” Donnie said and turned to me. I smiled as we looked in each other’s eyes. “I hope that you like my family enough to come back for other holidays. And I hope you like me enough to wanna stay around too.” He finished.

“Of course,” I mumbled. He raised his glass a little higher to signal the toast, and while everyone clinked glasses, he kissed me on the forehead. Then I took a sip of my Jack and Diet, which was very strong, and kept smiling. 6:47 p.m. “Dinner is served!” Miss Dory Ann said as she laid a beautiful, delicious-looking turkey at the head of the table. And dinner was wonderful. It wasn’t awkward like I imagined in so many ways that it could’ve been. Robert picked on me about everything from the way I talked to getting a second helping of the macaroni and cheese. Mark subtly flirted with me like he does. Kate included me in the conversations and Donnie gently rubbed my leg under the table making me feel more at ease. And Miss Dory Ann took it all in and smiled and giggled at the right times. After eating way too much food, everyone got up from the table and retired to the living room. “Do y’all not clear the table and wash dishes?” I asked Kate who was still picking at some food. “Haha no. It’s kind of gross, isn’t it?” She began. “But with nine kids and whoever else showed up for Thanksgiving, Mom was like ‘Cleaning can wait till morning!’.” “Oh...” I replied. Before I could walk into the living room behind Kate, Donnie bombarded me, held me tight and kissed me very passionately. “What was that for!?” I asked when we finally broke apart. “Cause I think you are so gorgeous!” He said and kissed me again. “Well thank you!” I replied, trying not to breathe in his sour breath. After fixing a couple more drinks, Donnie and I walked in the living room where everyone else was. I sipped on my Jack & Diet and watched Donnie’s family. Even Mark who had been quiet most of dinner was messing with Katie’s husband and laughing. And Donnie and Robert were being boys and roughhousing. I just smiled, thinking that one day, this family could be my family. “So Southerner, I hear you sing.” Robert started. I chuckled and looked at Donnie who was just cheesin’. I knew where this was headed. “Um… yeah, I sing a little.” I replied. “Well, I wanna hear something!” Robert yelled. “We actually have been working on something together…” Donnie spoke up. “Yeah, but it’s still a work in progress. I’m still working on some of the lyrics.” I rambled trying to prevent what I knew was about to happen. “Oh nonsense! I’m sure it’s beautiful like all your other songs,” Miss Dory Ann said to me.

7:13 p.m. While everyone took their seats and I was standing there baffled, Donnie disappeared for a few moments then returned with a guitar and a chair. “That’s the second time today! Where are you getting these guitars!” I shrieked. “Well let me read the warning label first.” I said while Donnie tuned the guitar. “I am more nervous singing for friends and family than for big crowds of people I don’t know, so I will most likely screw up.” I looked at Donnie who just smiled drunkenly at me. “And it’s a duet, so Donnie’ll get to sing too!” I said. “Yay!” Robert cheered in a high-pitched voice, imitating a girl. Donnie nodded at me and started strumming the beginning of the song. He started singing. “I wanna drink that shot of whiskey. I wanna smoke that cigarette. I wanna smell that sweet addiction on my breath. I wanna ride ‘cross West Virginia, In the back seat of a Cadillac. You know some cowboys like me go out like that. So I need you, Like a needle needs a vein. Like my Uncle Joe in Oklahoma needs the rain. I need you, Like a lighthouse on the coast. Like the Father and the Son need the Holy Ghost. I need you.” As I watched Donnie sing and play, first of all, I was surprised he wasn’t screwing up because he had been drinking. And second of all, watching this man singing and playing the guitar made my heart melt. I knew that he was different. I had stronger feelings for him than I had ever had about any other man. I knew that my life was beautiful now that he was in it. He turned to look at me knowing my part was coming up and I smiled lovingly back at him. “I wanna get lost in some corner booth Cantina Mexico. I wanna dance to the static of an A.M. radio. I wanna wrap the moon around us, Lay beside you skin on skin. Make love till the sun comes up, Till the sun goes down again. Cause I need you. Like a needle needs a vein. Like my Uncle Joe in Oklahoma needs the rain. I need you,

Like a lighthouse on the coast. Like the Father and the Son need the Holy Ghost. I need you. Oh, I need you.” I had written the song a week ago. And I didn’t realize until I was singing it aloud, that I wanted to feel that way. I wanted to need Donnie. “I wanna drink that shot of whiskey. I wanna smoke that cigarette. You know some cowboys like me go out like that. So I need you. Oh, I need you. I need you, I need you, I need you, I need… you.” “I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you, I need you too.” Me and Donnie just stared at each other and I couldn’t believe how much I loved this man. The sound of clapping brought me out of my love trance. “That was so beautiful!” Miss Dory Ann exclaimed. “God you’re turning him into a country singer!” Robert yelled and playfully shook my shoulders. Everyone complimented us and after a few minutes when me and Donnie got around to speaking to each other, his put his hand on the small of my back and whispered in my ear. “I’ve got something to show you. The best part of the house.” He said to me, grabbed my hand and pulled me towards the back of the house. 7:54 p.m. He led me out to what I think was the back porch, except there wasn’t much of a backyard, but a small lake illuminated by the full moon. Add the navy blue sky speckled with thousands of stars, it was one of the most beautiful sights I had ever seen. As I was taking it all in, all of a sudden there was a hand holding a shot in front of me. I took it out of his hand and turned to Donnie. “Donnie…” I started to protest. But he placed a finger on my lips and stopped me. “Please. I wanna talk.” He touched my arm to get me to lift up my shot. “You being here means so much to me Evie. I knew my mom would love you, but my brothers and sisters can be overwhelming, especially when we’re all together. But watching you with my family, I’m so happy that you’re comfortable with them and that they’re not picking you apart.” “Oh I think I can take ‘em,” I jokingly replied. “So here’s to my family loving you as much as I do, and hopefully you loving them back as much as you love me.” He toasted. I closed my eyes, lifted my shot up and tilted my head back.

I kept my eyes closed for a second longer, unsure of where this was headed. He poured two more shots. I took one and held it up again. He grabbed my hand and stroked the top of it with his thumb. I could tell he was nervous because he was breathing heavily and he held his head down. When he finally looked up at me, I was smiling at him to help make him feel at ease. He gave me this crooked half-smile. “I don’t know how to say this to you,” he started. “Then just say it.” I whispered. “I am in love with you.” He said. My lips parted as I realized I wasn’t breathing. “And I want to love only you for the rest of my life.” “Oh God…” I mumbled. I tried to prepare myself for what I thought was coming. “But I’m not proposing to you just yet, so you can quit breathing heavy.” He said and poked my stomach. I chuckled. “But I do want to make like a pre-proposal… thing. I promise to give you everything you want and need. I want to fall asleep with you in my arms and wake up the same way. I want to grow old with you. I promise to love you with all that I have. And I want to be a better man for you because you deserve the best. And I promise I will try my hardest not to ever disappoint you. So I wanted to ask you to promise me that one day we can… be…” I could tell he didn’t want to say it. “Married?” I chimed in. “Yeah. I didn’t want to freak you out. We’ve never really talked about it.” He stammered. I interrupted him. “Donnie… I am in love with you too. And I dream about growing old with you all the time. So yes, I promise you, when the time is right we will be married and when it happens, it’s gonna be beautiful.” We took our shots. Before the burning liquid could make it all the way down my esophagus, Donnie grabbed my head with both hands and kissed me hard. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pressed my body against his. I took a deep breath and breathed in his delicious smelling Aqua di Gio. He was so warm and comfortable, I knew he was right. “Wanna go back inside beautiful? I’m sure my family’s worried about us,” he said sarcastically. “Haha, sure,” I replied. He laced his fingers in mine and we walked back inside the house. 8:31 p.m. Everyone was sitting in the living room talking and enjoying each other’s company.

About every 20 or 30 minutes, Donnie would make his way to the kitchen. It was obvious he was making more drinks, but no one else really seemed to notice. Except me, of course. And Mark. Around the fourth time he got up and walked to the kitchen, I shot Mark a ticked off look. He just nodded his head toward the kitchen, signaling for me to go talk to him. I stood up and slowly walked towards the kitchen. I was dreading this. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Mark get up as well. “Hey handsome,” I said in a low voice. “Baby!” Donnie yelled excitedly. His eyes were half closed and his hair all tousled. I walked over to the counter next to him as he was pouring yet another drink. “Donnie…” I whispered and I put my hand on his wrist. He stopped pouring. “What?” He asked irritated and turned sharply to face me. In my peripheral vision, I saw Mark hovering in the doorway of the kitchen. “Please, don’t fix any more to drink.” I said, my voice shaky. “Why!?” He said, raising his voice. It made me jump a little. “I just don’t want you to pass out or get sick,” I said in a soothing voice, trying not to let an argument ensue. I had never stood up to him about his drinking. “What’s the real reason Evie?” He said, and emphasized my name. My jaw muscles clenched as I grinded my teeth. “HUH!?” He yelled and leaned forward. I was stepped back and ran up against the stove. “Because I don’t want you to make a fool of yourself in front of your mother, Donnie!!” I yelled in his face. Which did not make him happy. I could see the anger in his face and I thought he was going to explode. “Well fuck it then!” He yelled, then he picked up the drink and threw it at the wall. I jumped at the sound of the glass shattering. By then Mark had stepped in the kitchen. When Donnie threw the drink, he stepped forward a little in front of me. “Guess I won’t be having another drink!” Donnie said cynically. “What the hell is going on?” Robert asked as he, Kate and Jake came into the kitchen. “She’s telling me I can’t drink anymore!” He yelled and started pacing the kitchen. They all turned to look at me as I stood there with my arms crossed. I waited for them to take Donnie’s side since they were his siblings. Bro’s before ho’s right? But I saw understanding flash across Robert’s face. He took a deep breath, “Well, D… you have been drinking a lot tonight. You really don’t need anymore.”

I knew shit was about to hit the fan. “I can’t believe you guys are taking her side! Nobody tells me what to do! If I want another drink, then I’ll have another drink, dammit!” Donnie yelled. “Just calm down Donnie,” Kate said. Mark put his hand on Donnie’s shoulder. But Donnie brushed him off. “What is everyone ganging up on me?” He yelled. “She’s the outsider!” “Yeah but she’s not the one drunk and making a scene…” Mark muttered to Donnie, but loud enough that I heard. “Well at least I’m not an alcoholic who’s been to rehab twice.” He said heartlessly. A lump appeared in my throat, but I clenched my jaw to keep myself from crying. “I may be an alcoholic, but I am not the drunk asshole ruining the best damn thing that happened to me.” I hissed through my teeth. I felt all their eyes on me, judging me, respecting me or whatever. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. “I had a lovely time. Thank you for having me.” I said to the others. I pushed past Donnie and ran up the stairs. “You fuckin bastard.” I heard Mark say. And before I shut the door to their bedroom, I heard a loud pop and the thump of something, or someone, hitting the floor. At 9:17 p.m., Thanksgiving at the Wahlberg’s was ruined. Ten minutes later I was outside waiting for my cab. “If it makes you feel any better, he’s gonna have a black eye for a few days.” I heard coming from behind me. “It doesn’t, but I appreciate it anyways.” I replied. “Evie… I’m so sorry…” Mark started. I turned abruptly to face him. “No Mark, please. Do not say anything. I don’t want any apologies from you or your family. Y’all have been nothing but wonderful to me.” I started. “And I’m not the kind of person that’s going to stoop low and talk bad about him. I am the kind of person, however, that knows karma is a bitch. I have learned to hold my head high in all situations and I won’t let this bring me down.” “Evie, you’re allowed to hurt,” Mark said. I slowly turned around. “I don’t want him having the satisfaction of knowing he made me hurt,” I replied. “Plus I don’t want you to see me cry.” As soon as I said that the tears fell. And Mark held me until my cab came.


New Strings, New Shoes, New…? April 2015 2:14 p.m.


“Sweet like a kiss, sharp like a razor blade I find you when I’m close to the bottom. You can’t appreciate the time it takes, To kick a love I always knew was kind of wrong. And as I’m puttin out the flame, Somebody brings up your name. Whoa – oh – oh – oh Baby, baby, baby bring me down. I wanna be right where you are. Baby, baby, baby bring me down. So you can look me in the eye and break my heart. Break my heart. Six A.M., unruffled pillows. Laughs out loud at my trusting heart. Like I didn’t see the penny, I missed the fountain by a couple yards. If you would only stay gone, Then maybe I could move on. Whoa – oh – oh – oh Baby, baby, baby bring me down I wanna be right where you are. Baby, baby, baby bring me down You can look me in the eye and break my heart. Oh, baby, baby, baby bring me down. Wanna be right where you are. Baby, baby, baby bring me down. You can look me in the eye and break my heart. Break my heart. Bring me down.” As I opened my eyes, I half expected to see him there. He was always there when we had new songs to propose to the exec’s. But this time I did it alone. I shook hands with the men, said my thank you’s and goodbye’s like the polite girl I was raised to be. I put my guitar in the case and walked outside into the warm spring air.

I started walking towards my apartment and stopped when something caught my eye at a magazine vendor. The headline on the National Enquirer magazine read “Former NKOTB Member Lands in Jail Third Time this Year”. And his picture, next to another horrible candid of cops escorting him to jail probably. “Oh Donnie…” I whispered. That night, I couldn’t think of anything better to do. I bought a bottle of Jack, mine and Donnie’s favorite, and drank myself into oblivion. But not without crying until I couldn’t breathe and was gasping for air. Two weeks later, a fresh new country singer wanted my song. Miranda Lambert. She said she had been feeling the same way and couldn’t figure out how to describe it. Another two weeks after that, the song skyrocketed to number one. I, of course, got a very generous compensation; which I immediately spent $400 on new heels. They were nude colored with gold, green, orange and red ribbon right above the toe. They were special shoes. They’d have a story to tell one day.


And The Award Goes To… June 2015


I was watching the Country Music Awards one early summer night in my Auburn Nike shorts and gray J & M t-shirt and eating Dutch Chocolate ice cream. “And the winner for Best New Female Recording Artist is…” Keith Urban said. I got in the edge of my couch covering my mouth with my hands. “… Miranda Lambert!” “YEAH!” I screamed. And threw my bowl of ice cream. All of a sudden, there was a knock at my door. I left my dripping bowl of ice cream, walked over to the door and looked in the peephole. I bit my lip and closed my eyes. A flush of nervousness spread all over my body I clenched my jaw to keep my emotions down. I took a deep breath and opened the door. “Can I help you?” I asked this familiar person at my door. 30 minutes later we were at Tootsie’s because seeing him made me want a drink. I spent 15 of those minutes hastily getting ready so I wouldn’t have to speak to him. I put on a coral dress, brown leggings and my new expensive heels. “So Mark…” I started. “Why is your beautiful ass in Nashville and why did you show up on my doorstep?”

“We’re shooting some scenes of Entourage here for a couple of days. I just wanted to visit and say hey.” He replied. “Is that it?” I asked, cocking my eyebrow. “And to buy you a drink.” He replied again. Mark raised his hand at the bartender. I nodded at Harry. Four shots were placed in front of us. I looked at Mark, the expression draining from my face. “There must be some reason you would bribe me with liquor. You could’ve continued your life without seeing me. So why did you come find me?” I asked. He picked up one of the shots and nodded his head to me to do the same. “I once read this great quote. ‘I am not in this world to meet your expectations and you are not in this world to meet mine. You are you and I am I. And if by chance we find each other… then it’s beautiful.’ Great toast, huh?” Mark said. My mouth fell open. I look away from Mark as my vision went a little blurry. I took my two shots and closed my eyes as it burned down my throat. “I came to see you because I wanted to see how you were doing. It’s been months. And I know you’re hurting because of that song you wrote that was very good. I just wanted to check on you.” Mark said. “Did he ask you to come check up on me?” I asked. “No Evie. Other people in our family cared about you too.” He said. I smiled, thinking back to Thanksgiving and how accepting everyone was. And how much I missed Miss Dory Ann. Especially since I didn’t get to say goodbye to her. “I learned years ago that I hurt less people if I just keep my suffering to myself.” I replied, taking a third shot. “What about the song?” Mark asked. “I don’t see that as counting. Only a few people know it was me who wrote it.” I replied. “So basically, you can express yourself any way you want and still remain anonymous,” Mark said. “Yeah… great job isn’t it!? But it doesn’t stop the hurt any less,” I muttered. I grabbed the other shot out of Mark’s hand and took it down. “Slow down, slick,” Mark said to me. “One thing an alcoholic doesn’t like is to be told to slow down or stop, Mark. Haven’t you learned that?” I said. I got up from the bar stool and walked towards the stage. “How about a song y’all!?” I said into the microphone. The crowd came even more to life with shouts of my name and clapping. I took a peek at Mark who was texting on his BlackBerry Storm. “Well here’s my latest and greatest…” I said. I took a deep breath, closed my eyes and started the song. “Oh, baby, baby, baby bring me down. Wanna be right where you are.

Baby, baby, baby bring me down. You can look me in the eye and break my heart. Break my heart. Bring me down.” A couple of tears fell down my cheek. I opened my eyes and there he was. Standing at the back of the bar with his sexy swagger like he had when I first saw him. I got off stage and started walking towards him. Our eyes stayed locked the whole time. A flush of heat ran through my body as I got closer to him and realized I didn’t know what to say. As I passed the bar stool that Mark was on, I shot him a deadly glare. He smirked at me as he sipped his beer and pretended not to notice. As we approached each other, I stood frozen looking at the floor. I finally looked up at him and his hazel brown eyes. I was still very upset with him but I felt like it was his turn to make the next move. And I could tell his stubborn ass was struggling. “Dude,” Mark whispered. He opened his mouth to speak several times. I cocked one of my eyebrows, ready for this to quickly spiral downward. “I know what I said really hurt you.” He started. I simply nodded. “And I know saying sorry won’t ever be enough. There is no excuse for what I did. I’m old enough to know being drunk is not an excuse. What I did was unforgivable. But all I’ve been thinking about these past six months is…” he said and stepped closer so he was inches in front of me. He looked down and grabbed my hands. Then he looked back up into my eyes and I could see his heartbreak. “I thought if maybe you had one ounce of forgiveness in you, one ounce of hope, of faith, of love for me, then maybe we can be together again. Because Evie I love you… so much. I know you know that. And if I had to spend the rest of my life trying to get you to forgive me, then I would. I just hope the rest of my life will also include the rest of yours.” The tears started falling. I lifted my hand up to wipe them away but it was shaking. “Someone once recited this amazing quote to me about two people who may have their differences but who are meant for each other. ‘I am not in this world to meet your expectations and you are not in this world to meet mine. You are you and I am I…” “And if by chance we find each other… then it’s beautiful.’” I finished and smiled through my tears. He smiled back at me. He pulled my hands up and kissed them. I jerked them back. “No Donnie!” I sternly said. He looked up at me shocked. Then looked at Mark with a confused expression.

“Quit that! This isn’t Mark’s problem. It’s ours.” I said. Then I grabbed his hand and yanked him outside into the pouring rain. “For the longest time I told myself I would never EVER forgive you for what you did. I told you that in secret and as someone that cared about me, I hoped that you would respect it. But you humiliated me. You embarrassed me in front of your family. And the irony of it was that you were the drunk one! But it did happen and I was very hurt… by someone that I loved very much,” I said. I could see the misery in his body language. Head down, shoulders slumped, hands in his pockets. I couldn’t hurt this man anymore. We’d both been suffering enough. “But I do love you and I’ve missed you…” His head slowly came up. “And if it takes the rest of our lives…” I said and placed my hand on the side of his face, “I think I can find a way to forgive you.” A smile slowly spread across his face. And he slowly leaned in to kiss me. When we broke apart, we were both smiling. “I’ve been missing that so much,” he said. So I guess these shoes now have a story. They got ruined in the rain. But they were there when me and Donnie set things straight and renewed our relationship. We started walking from the bar back to my apartment. “What do you say we take a hot shower?” He asked grabbing my hand. “I might have to have a couple of drinks to loosen up before I agree to that.” I joked. All of a sudden we heard, “So you guys were just going to leave me here alone?” We both turned around to see Mark standing there looking stupid and pissed off. “Yeah.” We both replied. “Ugh!” He said and threw up his arms. “Stupid, happy couples. Why do I try to help!?”


At Last – And It’s Beautiful January 1, 2016 6:30 p.m.


“Hey everybody! Thank y’all so much for coming! But I have a surprise for Donnie. Something he asked of me a long, long time ago.” “At last, my love has come along. My lonely days are over and life is like a song.

Oh-oh-oo yeah yeah At last, the stars above are blue. My heart is wrapped up in clover. The night I looked at you. I found a dream, that I can speak to. A dream that I can call my own. I found a thrill to press my cheek to. A thrill that I have never known. Oh yeah yeah You smiled, when you smiled. Oh and then the spell was cast. And here we are in heaven. For you are mine… at last.” The crowd of family and friends surrounding me erupted with clapping. I felt a hand on the small of my back and turned to see my handsome husband standing by my side. He leaned in closer and whispered in my ear, “I’ve been waiting for like two years to hear that.” He kissed my cheek and nodded towards our DJ. All of a sudden, Cupid Shuffle started playing. “Oooh,” I said and pointed and laughed at him. I hiked up my white dress and we started dancing. Along with everyone that was there. And we had a blast. As I danced with Mark and Donnie danced with the flower girls, I watched this man that I loved smiling and happier than I’ve ever seen him. Then, as if he knew I was thinking about him, he turned his attention to me. He mouthed to me, “And if by chance we find each other.” I smiled and mouthed back, “Then it’s beautiful.”


An unlikely relationship with Donnie Wahlberg turns tumultuous when she meets his family for the holidays. He betrays her in front of them,...

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