By nine o'clock in the morning, Lyla arrives at her next destination. Despite the necessity of starting early, she feels weary about visiting so early on a Sunday. As a token of peace, she holds a huge box of donuts in her arms. Hopefully, they will be getting ready for church. She rings the doorbell.
With apparent drowsiness in his eyes, Eric Taylor opens the door. To her relief, he wears what appears to be church clothes. His forehead wrinkles when he sees her. "Lyla Garrity," he remarks, dragging out her name a little. He doesn't look particularly shocked to greet someone unexpected on his doorstep so early in the morning.
While she's by no means an expected visitor, her appearance shouldn't be too startling. These days, she keeps in touch with Mrs. Taylor. She considers Tami a bit of a mentor. She smiles brightly at Coach Taylor, "I know it's really early to be having a visitor. I'm just in town for a little while and I wanted to catch up with Mrs. Taylor," Lyla explains, offering him the donuts.
Taking the donut box from her hands, Eric gestures her into the house. "It's damn early," he mutters. "Tami," he shouts out around the corner. "She's getting ready- poofing up her hair and all. How the hell have you been?"
"I've been good," Lyla answers, both telling the truth and a lie all at once. "How are you?"
"Ah you know, as good as ever around here," Eric replies, waving her off. "You catch a lot of live music out there in Nashville?" He opens the donut box to pull one out.
Lyla laughs. When you bring up Nashville, everyone always asks about the country music scene. Unfortunately, her musical passion is a pretty shallow spring; she likes the pop country best. She hardly appreciates the great Grand Ole Opry acts that frequently past through her city. "Not too much, I'm a busy woman. It's great though," she answers politely.
"Nice, nice," Eric concurs, glancing around for his wife. "Tami!" he yells again up the stairs. He takes a big bite from the donut, gesturing for her to have one too. Lyla can tell he wants to go finish whatever he was up to before she came. He looks back at her, "So you talk to any of my boys lately?"
Lyla does not need to clarify who he means by boys. She knows that Coach Taylor still feels a special bond with his former players, particularly Jason, Tim, Smash, and Saracen. From her friendship with many of those guys, she also realizes the feeling is reciprocal. She grins. "I still talk to Jason all the time."
Smiling back at her, Eric looks happy, "Oh yeah? How's that little boy of his doin' up there in the big old city?" He inquires, referring to Noah.
Between the pictures, video chat, and their sporadic visits back and forth, Lyla sees Noah a lot. "He's not so little anymore. Already eleven! It makes me feel old," she exclaims. She finishes quietly, "But Jason would probably want me to tell you that Noah loves his football. He plays quarterback."
Eric's eyes soften. "Quarterback, huh?" he remarks. She understands how the idea of Noah playing quarterback affects him. Every time she thinks of Jason's son playing his old position, she feels the same way. "Last time I spoke to Jason Street he mentioned that his son was gettin' into football. Can't say I'm surprised. The kid's posed to have a lot of talent." Under his breath, he reiterates, "A lot of talent."
"Absolutely," Lyla agrees. Noah did have a lot of talent. As much as Jason downplayed his son's future in football, she knew that Noah had the type of potential to be quite an accomplished player.
Finally, Tami comes racing down the stairs, "Oh my, Lyla!" she greets. She gives Eric a look, "Honey, why didn't you tell me Lyla was here!" Throwing her hands out to Lyla, she gives her a warm hug, "Aw honey, what in the world brings you back to town?"
Eagerly, Lyla hugs Tami back. She is certain that Tami can help her. "I need some guidance," she murmurs.
With a little wave, Eric heads toward the living room. "I'll let you ladies catch up. Nice to see you, Lyla." Despite liking Eric Taylor well enough, Lyla is glad when he leaves. She came with the intention of talking to Tami. With Eric in the room, she would not have said half of what she needs to reveal.
Worry appears across Tami's face. "Oh no. Honey, what's the matter?" She gestures toward their sunny kitchen. "Come on in here. I'll get you a cup of tea. Did you bring those donuts? How sweet!"
With a nod, Lyla follows Tami into the kitchen. "Is Gracie around?" she asks, wanting to make sure that they talk alone. Despite slowly revealing her secret, she still feels embarrassed for others to find out.
"Oh no, she's off at Sunday school. I'm afraid we'll have to be getting to church soon ourselves. The service starts at ten," Tami apologetically explains. Hurriedly, she elaborates, "We can draw out leaving here for another good fifteen minutes. There'll be plenty of time for a cup of tea! Of course, you can join us and stay for brunch afterwards too, if you'd like." She pours some hot water from the tea kettle into two cups.
After spending her entire childhood in the town, Lyla still often forgets the way of life in Dillon. Everything happens more smoothly and quietly than in Nashville. By all standards, Nashville is a slower paced city and yet Dillon still emits a completely different vibe.
"Aw, thank you. That's okay though. I'm not in town very long anyways," Lyla admits. Taking a sip of her tea, she begins to explain her predicament, "Do you remember when you found me under the bleachers? After the whole Tim scandal?"
Pointing her finger to her brain, Tami chuckles, "Oh my sweetie, my memory's a little hazy these days! You'll have to excuse me for getting old. But yes, I think I do remember it vaguely. You were a sad little thing under there, weren't you?"
With a tiny smile, Lyla nods. She had been an absolute mess that day. "Everyone hated me, for what I did to Jason." She deliberately pauses. "I hated myself."
"You were a young girl being way too hard on yourself. Now that you do the job, you must see how girls get like that all the time. And you- you easily went through more than any teenager's supposed to go through," Tami justifies, unaware of where their discussion is heading. None of those excuses work for Lyla anymore.
As much as Lyla appreciates Tami's support, listening to her justification hurts her. "I know. I mean I get that even though it doesn't make it okay. But, I didn't exactly learn from any of it."
Shaking her head, Tami sips the tea. "Aw, honey, I think you learned a lot from it. What would make you think not?"
Lyla stares at the tea cup on the table. Peering up at Tami, she answers, "I'm doing it all over again."
With a sigh, Tami grabs hold of Lyla's hand. "You're cheating again? Sweetheart," she confirms gently. Lyla admires Tami's ability to listen without judgment in her voice. At school, Lyla works so hard to accomplish the same vibe.
Softly, Lyla looks into Tami's eyes. Without a word, Tami already knows. "His name's Gabriel," she whispers. "He's a great guy. Really, he deserves so much more than what I'm giving him. But somehow, he thinks I'm worth it." She shakes her head, "I'm not worth it."
"Well, you have a lot of great things to offer somebody. Gabriel must recognize those attributes in you," Tami conjectures. "Does he know that you're engaged, Lyla?"
"Yeah, I've told him from the start. I didn't mean it to keep going but um- it's been a little while now. He's still falling for me, pretty hard. It sounds so twisted but I don't want to hurt him either," Lyla admits with tears filling her eyes. Thinking of Gabriel's face after she turned down brunch, her stomach clenches. He deserves so much more.
Squeezing Lyla's hand, Tami prompts her, "Alright, alright, well Lyla, I don't think that you came over to hear me tell you what to do. I think you already know."
"I- I don't know how to actually get myself to tell Carter," Lyla whispers.
Looking away for a moment, Tami seems to try to find the correct advice. She shakes her head, looking at Lyla with a somewhat sad expression on her face. Rather than responding, Tami changes the subject. "Did you know Tim Riggins lives in Austin now? He and Tyra Collette have a nice little home and family there."
Of course, Lyla knows about Tim and Tyra from Jason. Still, hearing about Tim's happy little life hardly clarifies what to do with her screwed-up situation. Confused, Lyla looks back at Tami inquisitively. "What does Tim have to do with telling Carter?"
With a smile, Tami shrugs. "Oh, I don't know. I just think you outta go visit Tim and Tyra. Now I know that you girls had your share of drama back in the day, but it's important to see some old friends. Sometimes, for me at least, it clears some things up."
Does Tami want Lyla to talk to Tim about the affair? Hardly considering the possibility, Lyla dismisses the notion. As much as Tim may forgive her, telling him would be a stupid decision. They live far apart now in disconnected lives. Tyra probably would threaten to kill her if Lyla visits her turf. Honestly, for all the respect she holds for Mrs. Taylor, the whole idea sounds terribly awful.
"Oh, I don't know," Lyla waivers, considering that Tami must have some motive to suggest such a visit.
As Lyla waits for Tami to persuade her, Eric pops his head around the corner. "Hon, we really need to be getting going to the church," he reminds Tami with a little smile at Lyla for good measure. Lyla recognizes that the fifteen minute estimate was a bit of a stretch.
Glancing at Lyla, Tami gestures to the tea and the table. "Oh babe, I'm in the middle of something right now. Let's wait a few more minutes."
"As much as I love speeding, we need to get a move-on. Gracie's going to wonder where we are," Eric insists. With a quick look at Lyla, he adds, "You're more than welcome to come along."
Standing up from the table, Tami sighs. She has scribbled down an address on a piece of paper from a nearby address book. "Lyla has a bit of a trip to make today. She's going to have to be starting about now to have time for lunch, right honey?" she asks with a twinkle in her eye. "Trust me," she mouths to Lyla, handing on the little sheet.
When has Mrs. Taylor ever led her in the wrong direction? A visit to see Tim and Tyra never was in the cards. Now, she knows that she has to head out to Austin. She needs to overcome her reluctance to visit and go. "Yeah, you're right. I'm off to Austin," Lyla confirms.
With promises of visits again soon, Lyla says goodbye to the Taylors. As she heads back to her car, she prepares herself to see the counterpart of her first affair, her fleeting love, and her perfect fantasy. Tim Riggins- now this wonderful husband, father, and owner to a sweet little home. Meanwhile, she keeps up appearances only to cheat again. Who would have ever guessed that she would be the one stuck in time while he grew up?
With a whir, the engine starts. She types the address that Tami gave her into the GPS. Lyla takes a big deep breath. Here goes nothing.