She took control. “Do you know this guy? I thought you said you had never seen him before.” Her look at Tim could have frozen him to the chair.
“Um, yes, actually I do. Know him. I’m sorry, guys. He just startled me. I’m fine, really.”
Tim dropped my hand and reached to take the glass of water from Archie, scooting it over in front of me. “Here you go, Muse,” he murmured. “Take a minute.”
“Who are you?” Sharon demanded, “I’ve never seen you before. I know the whole family. I have since the womb. How do you know Tee?”
Tim grinned at me. “You want to take that one?”
“No, you go right ahead.”
“We’re old friends.” He smiled at the group. “I wanted to surprise her, and it looks like I did.” He turned his head to look Sharon right in the eye. “She’s told me all about you guys. You must be Sharon.” Looking around the group circling us he identified Cora and Archie by name. “Where’s John?” he asked, when he had named everyone.
Great, now he’s going to scare my friends, I thought, watching Archie take Cora’s hand and gently ease her back away from the table.
“I’m so sorry, all of you. I need to talk to Tim. I’m fine, really I am. I’ll get you all up to date tomorrow. Right now, I think I need to go home.”
“Are you sure you’re all right? Do you want me to come with you,” Sharon asked, still looking worried. “Do you think you can drive?”
“No, no, really. I’m fine. It was just a shock, that’s all. It’s been a long time” I said, stressing the long. “I just want to catch my breath and catch up with him. Honestly, I’m good. I’ll see everyone later.” I got to my feet, using the table for balance. I seemed to be okay. Beside me, Tim stood up too, keeping his hand at the back of my waist.
I have you, babe.
It is you. It’s really you?
Yep. In the flesh. And these people are getting jumpy. My truck is right outside. Let’s go.
“Thanks, guys,” I said aloud, looking around at all the faces. “I am okay. Right now I just want to get home. I’ll see you.”
“Are you sure you can drive? I can take you,” offered Sharon.
“I’ll drive her,” said Tim.
Tim gave me a nudge and I led the way out the front door, feeling his hand warm on the back of my waist. The cold air finished clearing my confusion. Turning to face him, I took a deep breath and just stared into those laughing eyes with my mouth hanging open.
“What the hell?”
Tim laughed and pulled me in for a hug, his arms tight around me, holding me against his chest and rocking me gently. He seemed much taller up close.
“Weird, huh? You look amazing, babe. Come on, let’s go home. We can talk.”
“Whose home? Where did you come from? Who the heck are you?”
He stepped back, reached down and looped his little finger through mine. “Your house. Austin, via LA. Tim. Let’s go, babe.”
Tugging me along, he lead the way to, what else, a silver pickup. He opened the passenger door for me and helped me inside. “Seat belt,” he cautioned, shutting the door and jogging around to climb in behind the wheel.