I know it's been too long since I last updated "Waited Too Long", but it was so hard to get 'into it' during Xmas. So this came to mind and I had to take a break from the other story. This one is going to be short, and I'll get back to the other one.
Daisy sat at the Atlanta Airport bar and sipped her soda slowly. Her semester grad students had just boarded a plane for their homes and she had nothing more then an empty house to get back to for Christmas in Hazzard. Staring out the window at the numerous planes taking off, she didn't notice the man sit next to her and watch her intently.
"Daisy? Daisy Duke?"
His voice startled her and she turned to see a man that was vaguely familiar to her. When she stared silently at him for a moment, his face actually showed disappointment. His eyes turned down to his own drink and the expression on his face finally triggered her memory.
Her voice rose from the shock of seeing him again after all these years. "Jaime Lee?"
"Wow. That took a few minutes. I was afraid you'd forgotten all about me."
"Never." Shaking her head, she turned to face him. "Just surprised is all."
"Me, too. Never thought I'd ever see you again, and then I turn around and there you are." He smiled at her and she found herself returning his smile.
"So? How've ya been?" She laughed softly. "It's been so long, I reckon that would be a very vague question."
"Well, are you in a hurry to get anywhere?"
Daisy contemplated his question for a moment. "No. Just a drive back to Hazzard."
"Then how about a long lunch? We have a lot of years to catch up on. If you want to."
He sounded so hopeful she smiled at him again. "Sounds good."
Standing, they both realized they were in an airport. Restaurants were few and very crowded.
"My car is in short term parking."
"So's the General."
"The General? Oh my, God, you're not talking about that orange car your cousins built?"
"I sure am." Daisy laughed. "I still take him out on occasion. Cooter keeps him running and it's still kinda fun to get him out on the highway."
After asking an airport employee, they agreed to a restaurant a few miles away from the airport. Within thirty minutes they were staring at each other over food.
Between bites, Daisy shook her head. "I can't believe we just ran into each other in an airport with thousands of people in it. I didn't even know you was livin' in Atlanta."
Jaime Lee shook his head. "I'm not. I just work for a trucking company that has corporate meetings in Atlanta every quarter." He shrugged. "I actually only live about forty five minutes from you. Just north of Chicasaw."
"And you never came
to see me?"
"Oh, yeah, I did. Right after I got out of prison. But you'd gotten married and left Hazzard."
At the mention of her marriage, Daisy felt the familiar memory of pain. It must have shown on her face, because Jaime Lee reached over and touched her hand softly. "I have a bad marriage memory of my own."
"Yeah, well, it was a long time ago. I keep thinking I should get to a point where it doesn't bother me to think about it."
"If you figure out how to do that, fill me in. I still wonder if I could have done something different."
"Mine was pretty simple, actually. Just took me a while to figure it out. A long while. He came back to Hazzard a few years ago." She hesitated, but he was listening intently to her so she continued. "I was just about to marry Enos Strate."
"I thought he was out in California somewhere."
"He is. But we were gonna get married. Until I saw L.D. again. Everything comes back to me and I just got scared. Told Enos I wasn't ready. I still didn't understand what had happened and I was afraid I'd make the same mistakes again."
"So, did you ever
figure anything out?"
"Yeah, I did. But it was only after L.D. and I were face to face again. He was getting all ready for marriage number six." The look of surprise on his face made Daisy laugh. "I found out during the divorce I was wife number two."
"Guess you pick 'em like I do." He laughed. "Well, I got out of prison and realized that moving on with life wasn't going to be that easy. With a record and all. So I finally got a job with a trucking company. Driving at first, then I moved into the warehouse. After a few more years I made it to dispatching. That's when I married a woman I'd met in the office. I moved up into a regional position, coordinating dispatchers in a few different locations. Had to start traveling around. That's when the woman I'd married in the office decided she'd rather be married to her best friend's brother."
"I keep thinking that if I'd turned down the job we'd be married now."
"I kept blamin' myself, too. But I finally figured out what made me love L.D. was exactly why he left."
"He was intense. Passionate. When we first met, I'd never met anyone like him. It was a hundred percent or zero with him. We only knew each other for two months before he wanted to get married. He just made it so….. it was everything. So I did it. Eight months later I'm in a hotel somewhere in Texas wakin' up alone 'cause he decided he wanted to be with a back up singer in some band he'd met. When I saw him at the final divorce hearing, he had that same look in his eyes. But he was starin' at her, not me. For years, it just killed me that he could love me so much one day and her the next. Like there was something wrong with me that he figured out and I hadn't. But that was just it. It was fast, intense, passionate, and burned out as quick as it started for him. About a year later he was over her, too, from what he told me when he was in Hazzard. I finally figured out that was just him. He picks somethin'. A job, a woman, anything. Goes at it a hundred and ten percent. Until he loses interest and the next thing catches his attention. Wasn't me. It was him. Can't say I was real happy to see him again, but I was glad after. Stopped blamin' myself."
"Good for you. I just can't imagine any man walking away from you." Taking a chance, he gently brushed a piece of hair from her face. "If I hadn't already hurt ya so bad I would'a begged ya to wait for me."
"I wouldn't have." He was surprised by her bluntness, but she shook her head. "I had a real unrealistic view of right and wrong back then. Ya lied to me. At that point that was it for me. No second chances."
"Now I've grown up. Seen a lot of people for who they are, not just what they done. If you'd told me back then that I'd be sittin' here with ya talking and actually havin' a good time with ya, I'd a laughed and called ya crazy. But here I am."
"Having a good time with me?" He smiled at her.
"Are you fishin'
for a compliment?"
"Actually, I'm trying like hell to flirt, but it's been so long I forgot how."
Daisy actually choked on her drink she laughed so hard. "Guess it's been a while for me, too. I didn't notice."
The rest of the meal went quickly, and soon they were outside walking to the parking lot.
Jaime Lee sighed and stared at her. "Are you sure you have to go back to Hazzard now?"
She started to say yes, but then her thoughts went to the empty farmhouse that awaited her. Glancing at her watch, she shook her head. "I don't want to be too late getting back on the road, but I'm not in a hurry."
"You gonna tell Jesse you're with me?"
Tears came to her eyes, and she turned from him.
Willing herself to not cry, she looked back at him. "We lost Uncle Jesse two years ago."
"I'm sorry. I…. had no idea. I haven't been back to Hazzard or heard anything since Uncle Boss passed." Jaime Lee took her hand gently.
"It was peaceful. One night he just never woke up. I got my Phd fall semester, in the beginning of December. Uncle Jesse insisted on making the trip. I didn't think he was up to it, but now I think he knew it wouldn'a mattered. Bo and Luke came, and they stayed for Christmas. We woke up the day after Christmas and he was gone."
Jaime Lee couldn't stop himself. Reaching for her, he hugged her. "Honey, I'm so sorry."
"I'm okay." But she didn't pull away from him. "I got to spend the last few years of his life with him. He needed more help, but he never did admit he was gettin' older. So when the EPA offered me the job that I could stay in Hazzard with him and finish my Phd, I took it."
"A Phd, huh?" Jaime Lee stepped back and smiled at her. "That takes a lot of work."
"Years. But it was worth it." She shrugged. "I get to spend a lot of time in the woods around Hazzard, the swamp, all the places I used to run with the boys when we was growin' up. And I get paid for it. And since I still work with the program from Duke, every semester I get a couple of grad students to work with."
Jaime Lee nodded. He wanted to ask her about men in her life- if there was one. But he realized he didn't want to know if there was, so he stayed quiet.
After a few moments, Daisy turned to him. "What about you? You need to be gettin' home, don't ya?"
"Nah. My room's paid up till tomorrow, and as long as I have my trusty laptop I can work. I can log in to all the computers from anywhere and do what I need to do everyday. The company likes the South East Regional Dispatcher to actually LIVE in the South East, but they don't really care where, exactly." Now it was his turn to shrug. "I'm not exactly in a hurry to get home to an empty house."
"I know the feelin'." Her voice was quiet, but he took that to mean there wasn't a man waiting for her back in Hazzard and he inadvertently sighed in relief.
"What?" She heard him.
"Don't you 'nothin', me, Jaime Lee. What?" Her eyes told him that she knew there was something he didn't want to tell her.
"I was just glad to hear there wasn't a man waitin' on ya, okay? There I admitted it. You said that Strate guy was back in California, but you also said you were about to marry him. So I didn't know if there was another guy, or if you two were still plannin' a weddin'."
She didn't know why, but Daisy was happy to hear he was interested to know if she was with anybody. Guessing it was the same reason that she was also glad to hear he didn't have anybody, she shook her head. "No. I mean, we still thought about it, but when Enos came back for Uncle Jesse's funeral, I think we both realized it wasn't gonna happen. He loves California, and he has a life there. I love Hazzard, and I have a life there. I think he always thought that once I lost Uncle Jesse there wouldn't be anything holding me there. But there is. Hazzard is still my home, and the land is still mine. Well, mine and the boys', but they haven't really wanted any part of it. So I think we both came to a point where we realized he wouldn't be truly happy in Hazzard anymore and I sure didn't want to move to L.A. So as much as we care for each other, neither of us wants to make the other give up their home. Made me glad we didn't get married. Well, more glad." Laughing softly, she bit her lip for a moment. "It still hurts but that's how it is."
They were both quiet again for a moment. Daisy pulled her jacket tighter around herself, and Jaime Lee looked back at her. "Well, now that we've established that we're in no hurry to leave Atlanta, what the hell do people DO in Atlanta?"
"I have no idea." Daisy laughed. "I've been in Atlanta fifty times, but all I've ever done is go to the airport. I do know it's too damn cold to stand out here all night." The sun had gone down and the temperature had dropped.
"I know what." Jaime Lee grinned. "Let's get you a room in my hotel. Hit a few hot spots tonight and have breakfast before we get goin' in the morning. That work for you?"
"I ain't exactly dressed for hot spots and I wasn't plannin' on stayin." Daisy stared at him.
"So? I think you look great, but if you insist I'm sure there's a place we can get you something to wear. This is Atlanta, ya know." He could tell she was contemplating his offer and he smiled at her. "You know ya want to. A few drinks and some dancin'?"
"Dancin'!" Daisy shook her head. "I ain't been dancin' in years."
"Neither have I. So let's do it. It's not like anyone will know who we are to talk about how bad we were tomorrow." He laughed. "Do this with me Daisy. Let's just have fun."
She couldn't resist his smile now anymore then she could years ago and she nodded. "Okay."
"Great. Let's get you a room and see what's close that you can get whatever it is you want."
The drive to Jaime Lee's hotel was a hard one for Daisy. She had remembered how much he'd hurt her, but now all she could think of what how he'd made her feel with she was with him. A lot of years had passed and she found herself wondering if there was still anything there between them.
Jaime Lee's thoughts were going along the same lines in his car. Seeing her again was more then he could have ever hoped for and he found himself wondering if this was a one time reunion or if she would allow him to see her again.
Between the ferocious rumble of the engine, and the bright orange color, the General Lee had attracted a lot of attention in the front of the hotel. The two valets had actually tossed a coin to see who got to park him. But their uniforms weren't exactly made to climb in and out of windows. Watching the valet parking attendant struggle to climb into the General, Jaime Lee and Daisy both laughed.
Inside the lobby of the hotel, it wasn't hard to find a shop where Daisy could get an acceptable outfit for a casual night out. But the check in desk was crowded, so Jaime Lee gave her his key to get ready. They could get a room for her later.
When Daisy stepped out of the elevator back in the lobby, Jaime Lee found he couldn't breathe. She was just as beautiful as he remembered and his smile must have shown his appreciation because she blushed and bit her lip.
"I found out the bar right here has a live band starting in about a half hour. We can find a table and get a drink if that's okay with you?"
Nodding, Daisy took his arm and moved into the bar with him.
It had been almost an hour and a half later when Jaime Lee led her to the lobby to cool off, and by the time they had, Daisy had made a decision of her own. His eyes met hers and she was sure she'd made the right one.
Looking around, he realized the lobby was fairly empty. "Let's go ahead and get your room."
Her hand on his arm stopped him. "I don't think I'm gonna need a room tonight."
His face showed his
disappointment and he sighed. "I understand, Daisy. I really do. I
hurt ya, and-"
"Jaime Lee, that ain't what I mean." He was confused and she tried to figure out how to say what she was thinking. "I mean……… it's been a long time since I've actually had fun. It's been longer then that since I've been alone with a man that was actually half way interested in me."
"Try a LOT more then half way."
She smiled at him. "I think I completely forgot what it was like to want to be with a man. Until today." Her eyes met his and she waited for him to respond.
"Are you sayin' you want to stay with me tonight?" He was so afraid that wasn't what she meant, he whispered the question to her.
"Yeah." She smiled at him and he pulled her against him.
"Now I'm the one that's surprised." He laughed in her ear softly.
"Me, too, if ya want the truth."
"You want to go back in the bar for a while?" Jaime Lee offered, but was relieved when she shook her head and moved towards the elevator.
The second the elevator doors shut behind them, Jaime Lee pulled her into his arms again. For the first time in over a decade, his lips met hers and suddenly it was like the years hadn't passed. Everything he'd ever felt for her came back to him and he held her against him kissing her until the elevator doors opened on his floor.
When he pulled away from her, Daisy stared at him for a moment before realizing the doors had opened. He could still leave her breathless. Silently, she walked with him to his room and watched him open the door.
When she hesitated in the hallway, he turned to her. "Daisy?" He hoped she wasn't changing her mind, but he needed to know she was sure.
Suddenly she put her hand to her own stomach and laughed. "I actually have butterflies. Just like the first time we were together."
He thought for a moment, and took her hands. "You asked me how you were gonna catch all them butterflies you was feelin'."
Still smiling, she
walked into the room. "You really remember that?"
"Daisy," Jaime Lee closed the door behind them and stepped close to her. His fingertips traced her cheek gently. "I remember every second we spent together. How could I NOT remember the first time we made love?"
Daisy moved into his arms and they kissed passionately.
"Hello?" Luke grabbed the phone and answered it sleepily.
"Bo! It's 5AM!"
"Oops." Bo glanced at the clock next to his bed. "I forgot you're an hour behind me."
Sitting up, Luke smiled. "Yeah, 'cause 6 would have been SO MUCH BETTER."
The woman next to Luke
stared at him until he shook his head and left the bedroom. "So
what's so all-fired important?"
"Have you heard from Daisy?"
"Not since I talked
to her a couple of days ago. She turned me down when I offered her a
plane ticket to come out here for Christmas."
"Turned me down, too. I feel bad, Luke."
Knowing where Bo was headed, Luke sighed. "When are you flying out?"
"I catch a plane at 2. I'll be in Hazzard around 11PM Christmas Eve."
"What did Daisy say
when you told her?"
"I haven't." Bo smiled. "I wanna surprise her."
"And you want me to surprise her with ya, right?"
"If you can. I know
you was supposed to go to Lisa's family for Christmas, but-"
"But it just don't feel right knowin' Daisy's alone in Hazzard." Luke finished for him and sighed. "I'll talk to Lisa, maybe she'll come with me. Doubt it, but I'll ask. See if it's okay if I fly out to her parents' on the 26th."
Lisa appeared in the doorway, and Luke sat at the dining room table. "Okay, let me make some calls and see if I can meet up with ya in Atlanta."
After he hung up, Lisa sighed. "Let me guess. You're going to Hazzard for Christmas after all. I thought you and your cousins were okay with this."
"I was, but…… she's alone. She and Enos called it quits, I don't think he'll ever set foot in Hazzard again, Cooter is gonna go see his daughter, and it'll only be two years since-" He sighed. "Since we found Uncle Jesse the day after Christmas."
"Which seems to me should be a good reason for her to come here or go see Bo." Lisa sat down. "It can't be easy to be there this time of year with him gone."
"It is a good reason. For me or Bo. Neither of us have spent any time in Hazzard for years. Daisy was the one who lived there. After her divorce, when she wasn't at school she was home with Uncle Jesse. I don't think Daisy's been away from Hazzard for two Christmas's her entire life." Standing, he moved to Lisa and took her hands. "You're welcome to come with me."
"I can't skip Christmas with my parents!" She sighed. "So I guess I can't be angry for you wanting to be with your family for Christmas, too. This year." She turned her hand so the back of it, along with the diamond ring Luke had given her, was showing his direction. "You do realize that next year we ARE going to be family. I just wish you were gonna be there when I tell my parents. They love you and they're going to be so excited for us."
"I wish you'd come with me. I think the two women in my life will love each other, IF they ever get a chance to meet."
"I guess you'll tell Bo and Daisy when you see them. Since I'm sure you going to go ahead and ask Bo to be your best man, why don't you see if Daisy would like to be a bridesmaid."
"You sure?" Luke was surprised. "You've never even met her."
"Yes, I'm sure. I guess you need to start thinking dates, too. My family is all in one place, you're the one with cousins all over the country. See what Bo's race schedule is and what's the best time to get everyone together."
Smiling, Luke pulled her up into his arms. "Have I told ya lately I love ya?"
"Well, not for a few hours. I just might need a reminder." Her lips met his and within seconds she was being carried into the bedroom.
Bo smiled while he packed a small suitcase. He'd known even before he'd picked up the phone that Luke would come with him to Hazzard. He just hoped Lisa would understand. When Luke had told him he was going to spend Christmas with Lisa's family, Bo knew that meant Luke was really in love with her. It felt bad, asking him to change those plans, but he felt it was just as important to make sure Daisy wasn't alone. Of course she'd turned down both of their invitations for Christmas, she didn't want either of them to feel like they HAD to include her. Bo and Luke had discussed her several times over the last couple of years and they were both worried about her since Uncle Jesse had passed. Bo had been very successful this year on the circuit and he'd had several offers for the upcoming season to consider. Luke had finally found a woman that Bo felt would be getting a ring from his cousin shortly, and Luke's silence at that particular question had only confirmed Bo's suspicions. A sharp pang of doubt ran through Bo, and he wondered if that was the present that Luke had intended to give her at her family's home on Christmas. Maybe it wasn't fair to ask him to change his plans at this point.
But while his life and Luke's had gone on and taken them in different directions, Daisy's life was Hazzard, and a big part of that life had been living on the farm with Uncle Jesse. Yes, it had been her choice, and yes, both boys were grateful for her for taking care of Jesse in his final years, but now he wondered where her life was going to take her. It wasn't going to be with Enos, that much was painfully clear to both her and Enos, according to the conversations she'd had with Bo on the subject. At their age, the options in Hazzard were just plain slim to none. Not that Daisy had ever expressed an interest in any man other then Enos since L.D. had left her in that hotel in Texas.
"Son of a bitch." Bo muttered under his breath and then shook his head. He's worried about Daisy, and here he is talking to himself.
He and Luke had been very lucky in the sense that they had never really been hurt the way Daisy had by the opposite sex. A few bad endings here and there, but neither of them had ever really been ready to commit to any woman the way Daisy had to L.D. Well, if Bo was going to be honest, Jaime Lee was the first man to really break his cousin's heart. He still felt that Daisy should have known better then to get involved with a Hogg, but he knew she'd really loved him and it had taken her a while to get past the betrayal she'd suffered at his hands. Only to be completely destroyed by L.D. No wonder she'd never been ready to marry anyone else. Bo shook his head again. Jaime Lee Hogg's name hadn't crossed his mind in years and Bo wondered what made him think of him.
Bo didn't know what he and Luke could accomplish to help her in a few short days, but he felt that at least she wouldn't be facing Christmas alone.
And he had to get busy if he was going to catch that plane. His pit crew boss needed to know he was going to be out of town, as did the sponsor that Bo had finally decided to drive for in the upcoming year. The Christmas Day celebration with the pit crew and their families, the meetings, press conferences and other planned events had to be postponed till he got back. Luke would probably be heading out the 26th, but if there was any way he could do it, Bo planned to stay until the 2nd. With the season starting in February, he wasn't sure they'd be happy with him, but Daisy was family and right now he had to be sure she was okay. Daisy would have the next semester's grad students arriving on the 3rd, so he'd feel better about leaving her then.
A picture of a pretty blonde on his dresser caught his eye and he realized he'd forgotten all about Carly. He was supposed to see her on the 26th and they had a New Year's Eve party to go to. Knowing she was NOT going to be happy with him, he'd put off calling her last night. Briefly, he considered asking her to go with him, but decided against it. He was leaving for another city in a few weeks, so he knew things between him and Carly weren't going to last, and he didn't want to give her the impression that he wanted them to. For a second his mind traveled back to the fact that he was worried about Daisy while HE was the one talking to himself and ditching yet another very pretty woman that was crazy about him.
Laughing, he picked up the phone. It was time to get it over with.
Lisa watched Luke hang up the phone and she waited for him to speak.
"I'm out of here at 4. Straight into Atlanta, and I'll drive out to Hazzard with Bo." Taking her hands, he sighed. "I'm sorry about this, Honey. I really am."
"Luke, I understand.
From what you've told me maybe being there alone really isn't
good for Daisy."
Once again, Luke realized how lucky he was. He'd been out on a smoke jump, only planning on staying in Colorado until the fire was under control. Then this beautiful park ranger had come along. It took him about three months to decide that Colorado was his new home. Daisy had once suggested that the fact that he met Lisa six months after Uncle Jesse's passing had made him a little more open to a long term relationship, and he'd laughed at her. Now, a year and a half later, Lisa was wearing an engagement ring and they were already looking for a house together. He thought maybe Uncle Jesse did have something to do with it. Somebody had been looking out for him when they'd brought Lisa into his life.
After spending most of his life with just himself, Uncle Jesse, Bo, and Daisy, Luke was more then a little overwhelmed at the 'welcome' he had received from Lisa's parents, grandparents, three brothers and two sisters. But they had apparently liked him as much as he liked them. He decided that if he could talk either of his cousins into it, they would come back with him after Christmas to meet the family he was about to marry into.
Bo looked around the hotel room and shut the door behind him. Even though he didn't spend two weeks a year there anymore, he still thought of Hazzard as home. It wasn't the same without Uncle Jesse, and more then once over the last two years he'd found himself coming up with excuses to not go back. But he still considered the old farmhouse his home.
After his announcement that he was coming out of retirement, he'd had a couple of small owners interested. He'd driven for them a couple of years, earned back his reputation, then moved on to bigger corporate sponsors and better cars. It bothered him sometimes that Luke had chosen smoke jumping over pit crew boss, but as long as Luke was happy, he was happy.
He looked forward to seeing Luke again, too. He did see Luke more often then he saw Daisy, but that few more times a year just wasn't enough sometimes. Luke only really worked about six months out of the year, so he was free more often then not to join him at any given race during the season. There had been visits cut short or cancelled completely due to some fire raging in the country, but it had only been the last year or so that Luke had spent his down time with Lisa instead of his cousin. Even then, he'd brought Lisa to a couple of races and Bo had decided the pretty brunette was good for Luke.
Shaking himself away from his thoughts, Bo glanced at the clock. It was time to go catch a plane to his see his cousins.
Like I said, this one's going to be short. Let me know what you think- all I ask is that Daisy and Enos fans don't flame me too badly- they are together in Waited Too Long. ;-)