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What could be more romantic than the Smoky Mountains of Sevier County, Tennessee? Throw in two people who have loved one another for the better parts of their lives, but sadly, spent those years apart because of one simple letter that was never received by its intended, instead, being sent back to its originator, marked Return to Sender. So what could be more romantic? When the two reunite and the sparks re-ignite, leading to desire filled days and long, passion filled nights.
Avery Davenport and Lissa Jensen re-connect after years of longing for one another; but not by accident. After Lissa's marriage to an unfaithful husband ends, she sets out to find the one man she's loved since childhood, Avery.
All seems to be going well for the loving couple, until Lissa’s ex-husband, Jason, realizes what he's lost, and that his ex-wife has moved on - without him. In a weak, alcohol induced moment, he decides he wants her back, and plans to stop at nothing until she's his again.
Just how far will Jason's obsession take him? Will Avery and Lissa have the Happily Ever After life with each other they both so want, or, will her jealous ex find a way to win her back... for good?
A Sevier Love
A Romance Novel
©2011 Sandra D. Watkins
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission from the author.
“A day without romance, is a day without love, and we all need a little of both, every day!”
I know I’m only in the 7th grade, but... I’M IN LOVE! His name is Avery Davenport. He popped my bra strap in the hall today when we were changing classes between history and math. I was a bit mean to him though; I yelled at him and I think I scared a few years off his life! Diary, he is soooooo cute!
Today Avery asked me to be his steady girl. I said I would, but then I saw him and Suzette Redman on the playground and she was KISSING HIM! I broke up with him. I wish I hadn’t, I really like him. He said she was kissing him, he wasn’t kissing her back, but I was hurt, so I broke up with him anyway. Diary, I’m so STUPID!
Well, it was my first day of high school! Avery looked so handsome in the auditorium this morning. He saw me and smiled at me, and even blew me a kiss. I hope things work out for us this year and maybe we can finally be together. I’ve been practicing writing my name after we get married... Mrs. Avery Davenport... Lissa Davenport. It really has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
Avery and I have been through so much trying to be each other’s steady, but we just can’t seem to get our timing right. When I’m not going steady with someone… namely Jason Jensen, he is! When he’s not, I am. Gezz! Will we ever be together?
Well, this will be my last year of high school, when classes start back next week, I’ll be a senior! I saw Avery at the lake today; he and his older sister Bonita were there. She even took our picture together just before he asked me to be his steady girl; he even had a ring, and everything! Diary, I’m so mad at myself… I had already accepted Jason’s offer, yesterday. I told Avery we could be friends, and when Jason and I broke up, I would be his girl. I should have told Jason to take a hike! Avery is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with, not Jason. I’ll give it a few days and then I’ll find a reason to break things off with Jason so I can finally be with Avery, forever!
I did it! It’s taken longer than a day or so like I had planned; more like several months! Heck, school will be out in a few days, but I broke up with Jason for good this time! I saw Suzette walk by him and rub her hand over his crotch, and then watched him smile and shoot her wink after she did it. He knows I won’t sleep with him, so I have a feeling he’s getting it from her. I walked up to him and told him we were done!
Avery was out of school today, but I can’t wait to see him later tonight. He called my house before I got home from the dentist and told my little sister, Mary Grace, to tell me he would be at the bonfire tonight, and that he really needed to see me. Diary, I can’t wait to tell him the news and wear his ring! We can finally be together, and, given the opportunity tonight, I plan on giving myself to him. I love him so much and I want to be his girl... forever.
I broke up with Jason, so I could be with Avery, but he broke my heart tonight before I had a chance to tell him the news. He told me he joined the Navy; actually leaving in the morning, and he didn’t know when... or even if, he would ever see me again. He kissed me, and said he would always remember me… and just walked away! I love him so much. I called after him, he stopped, but never looked back, and then he just walked away. Diary, I don’t think I have ever cried so much in my life. Now what do I do?
When I walked to the mailbox today, I thought I finally received a letter back from Avery, but it was mine to him... marked ‘Return to Sender’, he didn’t even open it. I guess we have no chance now of ever being together. Jason called me and asked me to the movies. I told him, I would to go.
Jason and I have been dating steadily for about a year now. He asked me marry him today. Since I don’t expect to ever see my one true love in life again... Avery, I accepted Jason’s proposal. We’re getting married in a few months.
Well, it’s done. Jason and I said ‘I do’ to each other tonight. I do love him, but my heart stopped when I saw Avery sitting on the last row in the church. At the reception, he came up to me and told me he was happy for me. He hugged me and kissed my cheek and walked away, again. I had to pass my tears off as tears of joy because of my marriage.
Diary, Jason has gone to the vending machine here in the hotel to get us something to drink. My first time was truly beautiful, but only because I saw Avery making love to me, not Jason. What a way to start off a marriage. I just heard Jason put the key in the door, so I’ll close for now and try to love my husband the way I know he loves me.
I walked into my house today and found my husband of twenty years in my bed with, get this… Suzette Redman. That bitch has always been a thorn in my side. Well, I packed my things and left. I’m filing for divorce and I’m going to try to find the one man that I truly love, Avery. Wish me luck!
The song in the back ground was Willie Nelson’s version of You Don’t Know Me. The song always made him think of her - the proverbial - one that got away. Sitting at the bar of his favorite establishment, listening to the song as it resonated through the overhead wooden beams in the ceiling, the sound of pool balls being cracked with cues and the boisterous laughs from fellow patrons; she popped back into his head.
Avery closed his eyes and could see her standing there, right in front of him, and smiled warmly inside. Her black-brown eyes as innocent as a child’s sparkled, her beautiful, long, honey-golden hair pulled into a side-swept ponytail with tiny white flowers tucked here and here, and that smile, delightfully breathtaking and charming. Her luscious, pouty lips with just a shimmer of pale pink color on that mouth he envisioned laying long, hard kisses on; to this day he became aroused just thinking of her.
She was dressed in that stunning, white strapless wedding gown that hugged the utterly feminine curves of her body. God she was gorgeous. She reminded him of a classic movie starlet. He thought for a moment that she might really be there, and swore he could even smell the soft, powdery fragrance she’d always worn back then. What was the name of it? Baby… something or another. When the song ended, her vision vanished, just like she had done so many years ago – only she hadn’t been the one that had left, it’d been him.
As Avery sat at the bar, he ran his finger around the smooth rim of the glass, then picked it up and downed the remaining sip, signaling Evan, the bartender - a friend of his, for another scotch on the rocks; his third for the evening. He took a pack of Marlboro Lite cigarettes from his shirt pocket, packed it against the top of the oak bar, then took one out and lit it up; thanking his friend when the fresh drink and another cube of ice was dispensed into his glass.
“Ya know, Ave…” Evan said – dark green apron tied securely around his waist, white dish towel draped over his shoulder drying glasses with the tail end of it, while a heavy cloud of smoke hovered overhead, and neon sign blinked ‘Cold Draft Beer’ in vibrant blue, white and gold lettering behind him; Avery thought it stereotypical of the bartenders and bar scenes from movies he’d seen and almost laughed aloud at the cliché “Those things’ll kill ya, man. Nothin’ but cancer sticks.”
“Yeah, yeah; I know” Avery waived a flippant hand and chuckled before he took a long, slow drag from the thin roll of tobacco, as if he were savoring every moment with a lover, and slowly released the smoke away from Evan’s face. “But these are lites, so it’ll take a while longer” he grinned and winked, lifting the glass to take a sip of scotch.
The song was playing again. Damn it, did someone else feel as miserable as he did and they kept playing the damned thing? It was about to kill him. Avery sat the glass down taking another draw from the cigarette before placing it into a clear, circular glass ashtray Evan had provided for him, then rolling his eyes toward the ceiling, slammed his palms down onto the bar. Avery turned his head, glancing over his shoulder toward the jukebox and looked to see what poor soul was playing the song over and over again.
When he finally got a full visual through the murky, smoke-filled room, he noticed it was a woman. From behind she had a body he would love to get his hands on. She was a definite hour glass; she had curves and he loved women with curves. She had had curves he reminisced, and he could remember the nights he lie awake in his bed, his loins throbbing, his heart pounding and then aching, longing to have his hands feel those auspicious curves. The curve of her narrow waist as he’d run his hands down her body, the curve of her soft, round breasts as his hand would encircle each one, his thumb delicately brushing over her nipples, causing them to harden with his touch, before he’d place his mouth to the tightly beaded pebbles, the curve of her shapely buttocks as he’d pull her closer to him, and the gentle curve of her neck as he’d deliver sweet, tender kisses down it.
Avery shook his head to clear it and looked back toward jukebox. Her hair was shoulder length, and from the dim lights in the bar, appeared to be dark brown or auburn. She wore it pulled back in a ponytail with a ribbon, making it really hard to tell. She wore a red sundress that clung to her body and those damned curves like it had been meticulously painted on her. He noticed the dress had a long zipper that ran down the full length of her back and just past her ass. Avery imagined unzipping the zipper to reveal what was being hidden from the naked eye, but was distracted when his cell phone buzzed in his back pocket. Rolling his eyes, sighing, he slipped the phone out of his pocket and looked at the display. It was one of his employees; actually his best bud, Jack. Avery swiftly answered the call with a flat “This’d better be damned important.”
Jack laughed, then in his lazy, southern-gentleman drawl said “It’s not; call me back after you’ve scored with the lady, lover boy.”
“What lady?” Avery asked, nonchalantly, still eyeing her from across the room.
“The one you’re scoping out. If you had to ask which one, you haven’t scored yet” his friend chuckled.
“I’ll call you back later” Avery said disconnecting the call, and quickly decided he needed to investigate this matter, err… this lady, a bit further.
Avery took another draw from the Marlboro then crushed the tip of his cigarette in the ashtray. He finished his drink as he rose from the bar stool, waving a hand over the top of the glass indicating to Evan he didn’t need a refill and made his way through crowded room in her direction.
When he was about a foot away, he caught a faint whiff of cologne, was it the same stuff she’d worn? he wondered. Avery stopped then closed his eyes and drew in long slow breath through his nostrils, yes; this was definitely the same scent – that inviting smell along with that damnedable song, who was she? He made a low unconscious noise in his throat and shook his head before advancing forward.
The sexy - from behind anyway – lady, was about to hit replay on the jukebox. Avery noted the perfectly manicured, red fingernail on the play button, and placed his hand around her wrist, moving her finger away from the button.
“Please don’t play that song again” he requested. “It’s a constant reminder of long ago time for me, and it hurts too damned much to keep hearing it over and over.”
“Well” she replied in a soft, sultry voice with her back to him “It should.”
As she turned her face toward his, he thought he was seeing a ghost. Eyes wide and full of shock and surprise, Avery whispered “Lissa?”
“Yes Avery, it’s me” she whispered back with a smile.
“Wha... what the hell?” he said, shaking his head again.
“This song speaks to me Avery. It makes me think of you, and I’m guessing by the way you’ve reacted to hearing it, it makes you think of... me, perhaps?”
“It speaks to you? The damned thing haunts me Lissa; you’re all I think of when I hear it.”
Her finger hit the button and the song began to play. “Why, Mr. Davenport, would you care to dance?” she smiled and winked, extending her hand for him to take.
“I would love to, Mrs. Jensen” he said, taking her hand into his, kissing her knuckle, before pulling her into his arms. While he held her, he took advantage of the opportunity, and finally ran his hands up and down her sides, exploring the hour glass figure. His body betrayed him and she felt it when he drew her body closer to him. “Sorry about that” he said looking up to the ceiling; his face turning red.
“No problem” she smiled. “I’m feeling the same way you are” she breathed softly into his ear “and it’s Ms. Jensen.”
Avery smiled, looked up to the ceiling, closing his eyes he mouthed ‘thank you’. “Any chance of ah… being able to do anything about it, Ms. Jensen?” he asked, taking in her familiar scent as he twirled the silky strands of her ponytail between his fingers.
“Let’s finish our dance and then we’ll… discuss it” she said as he dipped her and brought her back up into a kiss. Lissa smiled at him and rested her head against his shoulder.
The song ended, and Avery, holding her hand, led her over to a small table. Dina, the waitress asked if they needed anything; Avery looked to Lissa.
“A glass of white wine, please” Lissa responded.
“Water, Dina” Avery said, Dina nodded and walked away. “I’ve had my limit for the evening” he said, sitting back in the chair.
“Waitre...” Lissa started, but he stopped her.
“You go ahead, don’t worry about me. Like I said, I’ve had my limit.”
“To be honest... I don't really drink, I was trying to be sociable” she laughed with her confession.
“Ah, go ahead; one glass of wine won’t do any harm. Unless... of course, you have a problem?” he asked cocking his head to one side.
“No” she laughed aloud “I don’t have a problem. I’ve just always been the designated driver, so I don’t drink that often.”
“Well, have the glass of wine, it’s good for you every now then, or at least... so I’ve been told” he said, reaching into his shirt pocket and pulling out the pack of cigarettes. “Would you care for one?”
“No thank you; I don’t smoke either.”
He looked at them and shook his head, then returned them to his pocket “Then I won’t either... for now anyway.”
They sat there in silence for a few minutes when Lissa said “Wow, this kind of awkward, huh?”
“Yeah, I was just thinking the very same thing” he chuckled as the waitress approached the table with their order.
“So what have you...” they said in unison, then laughed.
“Ladies first” he insisted.
“So what have you been up to all these years?”
“Well... after you and Jason said ‘I do’; feeling defeated, I tucked tail between my legs and left town. I left your wedding, went home, packed a bag and just drove. After driving for hours, I found myself here, in Sevierville, Tennessee. Decided I like the people and the town, and went to work for a helicopter sight-seeing company. Since I had flown choppers in the Navy, they hired me on the spot. I worked for a guy named Matt Braden. After about four years…” he said, picking up a peanut from the bowl Dina had placed on the table when she delivered their order, and cracked it open. After popping the nuts into his mouth and swallowing, he continued “he needed to sell the company due to his health, so I borrowed the money and bought it. I’ve owned it now for sixteen years. I’ve got five choppers and four, counting myself, licensed pilots.”
“What about your personal life? Did you... ever marry?” she asked quizzically, with just a tinge of jealousy.
“Yes, I… was married” he laughed. “It lasted about three years. Qualyn Davis; she’s a singer. She wanted bigger and better things, so she left me and moved to Nashville; she had high hopes of hitting the big time. She’s good, but not disciplined enough to make it. She didn’t want to put in all the long hours that it took and her agent told her if her heart wasn’t in it; she would never get anywhere, so she fired him. Now she’s a singer at a club on Music Row. She seems to be happy, so... I’m happy for her. She calls from time to time; we tried getting back together a few years ago, but there’s nothing there to make it stick. The sex is great, but you can’t base a relationship or a marriage on sex alone. You have to be in love or it’s just no good. And we DON’T love each other” he said popping another peanut into his mouth.
“Kids?” she asked.
“Nah, she wasn’t able to have kids. When she was thirteen she slipped out of the house one night to meet her boyfriend. He was a good bit older than she was; three, four years, I think. She wound up pregnant and the guy told her to get an abortion ‘cause he wanted nothing to do with her. Her sister told her about a ‘doctor’” Avery made quotation marks in the air with his fingers “that her best friend had used. They drove to Maryville and she got the abortion. One night, shortly thereafter, she got real sick. Her parents took her to the ER and her sister fessed up about what’d happened. She had gotten an infection and the so called ‘doctor’ had botched her up so badly she could never have children.”
“I’m so sorry to hear that” she said.
“Nah, don’t be, what kind of life would the child have had? Parents that just stayed together because of the kid, or parents that didn’t stay together at all. God knew what he was doing. We could have adopted, but according to her, the timing was never right.”
“Did you want children?”
“Yeah, I really did, still do, but I guess it isn’t in the cards for me” he said as he looked up at her and smiled. “So how about you? What’s your story, and where is... Jason?” he asked, making a funny face when her ex-husband’s name rolled off of his tongue.
“Jason” Lissa blew out breath “Well now, that’s a story in itself” she said, fidgeting with the corner of the napkin Dina had placed under her drink. “As you know, we got married. We were together for twenty years. I thought they were twenty happy years, but I came home from work early one day and saw his car and another one in the driveway.
Our home was up for sale, and I assumed he was there showing the house. I walked in and didn’t see him. I went upstairs and opened our bedroom door. I found him in bed with Suzette Redman – remember her from school? Anyway she was riding him like a he was a wild stallion. Come to find out... they had been together off and on during our marriage and even before we got married, as a matter of fact, the night before we got married. I grabbed a suitcase and packed several of my things while they lay in bed and didn’t say a word. Can you believe that? They lay in that damned bed and watched me pack a bag, and never uttered a word! I was dumbfounded to say the least!
I expected Jason to, for show at least, beg for a chance to explain, but he never said a word. So, I left the house, called my boss and told her what’d happened and that I would be out of pocket for a couple of weeks. I went to the bank and drew out half of the balance in our account and drove to my sister’s house in Duncanville.
The next morning, her husband, Damon - who just happens to be an attorney - and I went to his office. We filled out the paperwork and I filed for divorce. I gave him two weeks to clear out his personal belongings and then I went back and got the rest of mine. We sold the house and after we paid the balance of the mortgage off, I ended up with a nice little nest egg. Instead of buying something, I leased a loft apartment in Tuscaloosa and decided it was time for a complete change of pace.
I went to the salon and had my beautiful blonde hair colored auburn, got contact lenses and lost a little weight. I walked into work one day and gave my boss my two week notice and became a volunteer at the Children’s Home - before they offered me a full time position.”
Lissa got quiet, and then looked down at the table for a second. Looking back up to Avery, she softly said “I thought of you and wondered why we could never seem to get together. You do know I’ve had a crush on you from the time you popped my bra strap in seventh grade, right? Once you joined the Navy, I knew that would probably be the last time I’d see you. Since you sent my letter back; the one where I poured out my heart and soul telling you how I felt about you; ‘return to sender’, thank you very much” she rolled her eyes “I accepted Jason’s marriage proposal and we got married.”
“What? Back up a minute” Avery waved his hand “What letter; I never received a letter from you.”
“No” he said, matter-of-factly “And I can assure you, if I had, I would’ve never returned it. I’d still have it today; I certainly wouldn’t have let you marry that two-timing son of a bitch. We would be together now, Lissa… if I had known.”
“I don’t understand; Bonita gave me your address. I wrote you and told you how I felt about you... but the letter was returned.”
“I don’t know Lissa; I just know I never received a letter from you. God knows, I prayed for one, every day.”
Lissa took the letter from her purse and hesitantly laid it on the table; Avery watched as she slid it to him. He took the envelope and examined it thoroughly. “Lis, I never got this… I swear. I was only at this address for a short time, there was a fire and they moved us to another location. Avery looked at the postmark and shook his head “You mailed this a day or so before the fire, so… I’m guessing by the time it was delivered, we were long gone and the post office marked it and sent it back. I’m so sorry, honey.”
“Well, at least now I know” she smiled.
Avery turned the letter over and looked closer at the back flap, he noticed it looked as if there were lip prints there that had faded over time and smiled “Sealed it with a kiss, did ya? May I?” he asked, indicating he would like to read what she’d written.
Lissa nodded “It’s your letter” she smiled.
Avery read the words of a young Lissa pouring her heart out, telling him how much she loved him and that she’d planned on giving herself to him, body and soul, at the bonfire the night he’d walked away from her. Avery balled a fist under the table and cursed under his breath. “Damn it” he spat, “Why the hell didn’t I turn around after I’d stopped when you’d called out to me? God Lissa, why didn’t you chase me down, stop me? Make me listen to you? Son of a bitch!” he said, folding the letter and then returning back into the envelope, before placing the envelope into his shirt pocket.