Never too Late
If you could live your life over would you do it?
Addison Porter would probably answer no, though she had a slew of regrets starting with her twenty-year affair with Randy. However, on returning to Jamaica on the eve of her fortieth birthday she found out that she was a resetter–one of a special group of persons who can go back in time. Every resetter needed a pathway to connect them to the past and one of the pathways was at her old place.
So what’s a girl to do? Her cousin, Sky, left a note saying she needed to be rescued from something in the summer of ’92. That was also the summer that her brother Josh met and fell in love with Ellie, the woman who broke his heart and derailed his life. It was the summer her uncle met an untimely death. It was also the summer she met Randy!
There were so many things she could fix! A summer do-over was just what she and her family needed… but going back was one thing, changing events was another…
“Are you sure about this, Addi?” Josh asked her concerned.
“Yes, I am sure.” Addi barely managed to restrain herself from snapping at her brother who was looking at her and the urn she clutched in her arms skeptically, as if he thought she had finally lost it. She had just settled down in the car and told him her reason for her impromptu visit to Jamaica.
“Sky told you to scatter her ashes by the blue rock in the old yard in Mandeville?” Josh was speaking as if she had a hearing impairment.
“Yes.” Addi nodded vigorously. Josh looked slightly annoyed. She had called him only this morning to pick her up from the airport. He had sounded quite happy to do it at the time. He probably thought that she was going to be staying with him for a holiday and not for this quest that she had decided to honor for Sky’s sake.
“How will she know that you did it?” Josh pulled out of the Norman Manley airport parking lot. “You could throw it in that flower bed and she wouldn’t know. It wouldn’t matter. It’s just ashes.”
Addi glanced at the digital clock. It was ten fifty-nine. The morning sunlight was weak and she hoped it didn’t rain today.
She tried to change the subject because she didn’t want to have to defend herself for doing what Sky asked.
“You look haggard,” she muttered. Her brother had gained weight, mostly around his mid section, and his face looked puffy and there were large bags under his eyes. They were rimmed with a generous dark smudge as if he had not been sleeping.
Despite this he was still handsome, with his narrow straight face and exotically slanted eyes. It was just that today he was looking more like a street hobo than Tyson Beckford.
Josh glanced at her. “You don’t look so hot yourself. You are not sleeping, are you?”
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks,” Addi sighed. The beige t-shirt and khaki pants she was wearing did not add a hint of color to her person.
She looked out the window and caught her reflection in the rearview mirror. She looked every day of her thirty-nine years and then some.
Her hair was in a finger wave style, which had felt like a great idea at the time, she had gotten quite good at it since she had chopped off her hair a few weeks ago in a fit of liberation. It had been stringy and unhealthy looking anyway.
Her make up was trowelled on and applied without her usual care because she had been on a hurry and wanted to hide her sleepless start but she couldn’t quite hide the ravages of the last couple of days.
She dragged her eyes from her reflection and out at the scenery.
It always gave her a special buzz when she arrived on Jamaican soil. Today that buzz was missing, maybe because it was shaping up to be a gray day and her mission in the country was a sad one.
Josh looked at the urn pointedly again. He wasn’t going to give up the subject so easily.
“I’ll stop so you can scatter her ashes over the sea wall.”
“I have to go.” Addi blinked her eyes rapidly. “She asked me to in her will.”
“Why should you carry out her will when she committed suicide. Obviously, her will was warped!” Josh snorted.
“Josh, please stop!”
Josh glanced at the tears at the corners of her eyes and then back to the road again. “It was a very selfish thing to do and so unlike Sky. She had so much to live for. She was happy, wasn’t she? She told me she had just met this guy from the Middle East and she lived in that huge apartment in New York. When I visited last year I was blown away by how rich she really was. She had a good job, chief executive officer of a huge company.”
Addi could again feel the pressing weight of grief as Josh listed all of Sky’s material accomplishments. He was right. Sky had lived the kind of life that a vast number of people could only dream about.
Addi cleared her throat before speaking. “But I don’t think Sky was ever happy. I mean, not since Rusty.”
“Rusty Brown?” Josh glanced at her. “You serious? Crusty Rusty? The construction guy? The one who killed Uncle Stan?”
“Yes, him. They had a thing. Sky once told me that she would never love anybody the way she loved him.”
Josh shook his head. “That’s so, melodramatic! Crazy! Unheard of! Why would she love the guy who killed her father and how would she even know what love is, she was just, what, fifteen years old?”
“About that age, yes.” Addi inhaled raggedly. “But every time we saw each other and I do mean every single Sunday for the past ten years, all my conversations with Sky included some snippet about Rusty Brown. No matter which guy she was seeing, he could be rich, he could be drop dead gorgeous, he could be sweet, he could be all three of those things combined.
“Every single time, it was Rusty. I think that was her greatest regret.” Addi closed her eyes and swallowed. “We all have regrets. Don’t you have any?”
Josh snorted. “Oh yes, thanks for asking. I am a bag of regrets. My whole life up to now has been a glorious regret.”
Addi shifted in her seat. “I know there are some obvious stuff but what makes you say that.”
“Well for one, I regret not taking that MIT scholarship.”
“Oh yeah, you wanted to do something in computers huh?”
“Yep.” Josh nodded. “I was in second year of college here when I got the scholarship. Boy, I loved programming. I could have been the next dot com something or built some world changing program or something. Who knows?”
He sighed dramatically. “But then Ellie got pregnant and then we got married and by that January the scholarship offer had expired. She had such a difficult pregnancy. It was so bad I had to stay home with her.”
Addi nodded. “I remember.” Addi inhaled sorrowfully. “I found Dad on the back step crying after it happened.”
“Seriously?” Josh shrugged, “I have never believed that story. Dad has never said a word to me about it.”
“I think he was more disappointed than you were.” Addi smiled sadly. “Parents are weird creatures. Sometimes they hide their disappointments because they don’t want you to feel bad.”
“They didn’t hide their disappointment when I found out that Nelson wasn’t mine after he became sick and our blood types were not compatible.” Josh snorted, “And they didn’t even bother to pretend that they were anything but angry when they had to pay for the divorce.
“It was all my fault. All of it, I threw away my future for some other man’s kid. Up to this day Ellie won’t say who she was sleeping with before she decided to pin Nelson on me.”
Addi sighed. “How is Nelson these days?”
“Rehab, last I heard. Prescription meds.” Josh grimaced. “I keep tabs on him because for the first three years of his life, I thought he was mine.”
“And Ellie? Where is she now?” Addi looked at her brother in compassion; he had really had it rough with Ellie. She had wrung him out to dry. Their parents had feared for his sanity after the Ellie episode. His world had literally collapsed when he found out that Nelson wasn’t his son.
“She is around.” Josh snorted, “still looks good. She has a cooking show on one of the cable channels. I sometimes wish that she would age like an old hag but every time I see her she looks better. And I still feel…” He stopped and inhaled. “I still feel for her Addi…ridiculous. It’s like the anger cooled and the attraction kicks in but I can’t forget that she is like a dangerous snake. Pretty to look at but leaves a poisonous bite.”
“Seriously, though,” Josh muttered, “I wish I had nothing to do with her in the first place. I wish I never met her. She is the reason why my life is like this. I teach students at a community college whose only interest in computers is how to find the best porn sites. I am wasted there but I have to do it. And to make matters worse, I don’t quite trust my current wife the way I should and I secretly did DNA tests on Ken and Nancy just to be sure that they were mine.
“And to be brutally honest I have never been quite happy either. I should have met Avery first or not met Ellie at all.”
Addi glanced at Josh; he was in the throes of some very unpleasant memories. His fingers gripped the steering wheel tightly and a vain throbbed at the side of his head.
“Avery is a wonderful woman, Josh. I thought that you were completely and totally happy now. When Mom calls she harasses me about how happy and well adjusted you are. At least one of her children got it right.”
“What does anybody know about what really goes on in other people’s heads?” Josh shrugged. “I thought Sky was happy. Hell, I even thought you were happy, living the single life, lecturing at New York University with the big doctor in front of your name and all.”
Addi shrugged. “I am okay…”
“But not happy.” Josh turned on the highway and picked up speed. “I mean generally. God knows these past couple of weeks were not for laughs. You are not going to do a Sky thing on me are you? Because let me tell you now, you would totally ruin me.”
Addi smiled tremulously. “No, I am not going to do a Sky thing on you, at least not so close to my birthday. Can you believe that I am going to be forty years old tomorrow?”
“Unbelievable, it seemed like just the other day the parents brought you home and declared that I had a new baby sister.” Josh grinned and patted her knee. “A part of life is getting older Sis. Embrace it.”
Addi smirked. “I do embrace it. I just wish…”
“You had Sky here to celebrate it with?” Josh sighed, “you would think that she would live for you at least. You two were so close.”
“Yes.” Addi sighed. “I blame myself a little about that. I had no idea that she would…”
“I know.” Josh nodded. “I don’t think anybody in the family can say they feel blameless. We are all asking ourselves, why. Was Aunt Ivy at the funeral?”
“Yes.” Addi inhaled. “She was inconsolable. She declined any offer to stay with either Mom and Dad or me. I saw her at the reading of the will. Sky left everything she had to me and just a letter to her.”
“Wow, just a letter?” Josh glanced at Addi. “That’s something. I wonder why. Sky was her only living child. First Uncle Stan now Sky. She is alone in this world. It’s kind of crazy.”
Addi leaned back in the chair and closed her eyes. “Yes. Crazy. It’s always a drain on the ones left behind.”
“Yup.” Josh cleared his throat. “You didn’t tell me about your regrets.”
Addi opened her eyes and looked at him. “What?”
“I basically just told you that I still have feelings for lying, cheating Ellie who cheated on me and wrung me out to dry even though I have a perfectly good wife at home but you didn’t say anything to me about what your regrets are.”
Addi swallowed. “Josh…”
“That’s my name.” Josh grinned. “Come on Dr. Addison Porter, what are your regrets?”
“It’s not something I talk about ever.” Addi inhaled. “You wouldn’t understand.”
Josh laughed. “What, you killed someone? You are secretly gay? Nothing can shock me these days. 2017 is the year of the unshockable Josh.”
“I have been seeing Randy Vassell for the past twenty years,” Addi said it in a rush. “I return to Jamaica every year to see him. We meet at my apartment in Mobay. Sometimes he comes to New York.
“Five years ago, I had a miscarriage, right about the time when Kenya had Chad. We’ve been going downhill since then. Last year he broke it off with me. He said he just could not do it anymore.”
Josh slowed down significantly. The unshockable Josh was shocked. “You have an apartment in Mobay?”
Tears came to Addi’s eyes. She had forgotten that was how Josh reasoned. He processed the lighter data first.
“Yes, I do. Bought it twelve years ago.”
“Randy is my best friend.” His voice was husky. His hand trembled on the steering wheel. “He loves Kenya. He is faithful to her or so I think… They are the ideal, Addi. Everybody knows that Randy and Kenya are the ideal… Tell me you are joking.”
Addi wasn’t prepared for the pain that this statement evoked. She had thought herself immune from the little twinges of guilt. Randy was a popular evangelist, celebrated the world over as a man of God, a stalwart in the morality stakes, an example while the people of his generation were going to hell in a hand basket.
And she was his lover. Had been his lover. She corrected quickly. They were over. Finally completely over. Twenty years of being faithful to a married man who wouldn’t leave his wife because he was too much of a coward to do so.
“Randy and Kenya were never a love match.” She gritted out to her shell-shocked brother. “He married her because everyone was pressuring him to! Including you, I remember. I was there. He loved me. Me!”
“Don’t tell me, you were seeing him when you were a teenager. When I brought him home for weekends and that summer he stayed at the house…” Josh frowned at her, “I caused this, didn’t I?”
“No, you didn’t,” Addi said tiredly. “Randy got married to further his career. He thought that he would forget his feelings for me. He didn’t. I didn’t. We couldn’t unlove one another…”
“How…How did this start?” Josh stammered.
“Summer of 92,” Addi said tiredly.
“You were fifteen!” Josh bellowed. “He never…”
“No.” Addi fanned him off. “No need to sound so outraged. Randy is not a perv’. I am now sorry I told you. I knew you couldn’t handle it.”
“It’s a shocker, that’s all. Maybe I am not so unshockable after all. But I don’t think there was any indication even back then about you and Randy. I must have been blind.”
“Your hands were full with Ellie. Wasn’t that the summer you fell head over heels in lust?” Addi grunted, “Sky was busy with her Rusty crush. Mom was busy with the store and Dad and Uncle Stan were busy with the new construction. Aunt Ivy was busy with whatever she was busy with. I only had Randy as company all summer when he came to work for Dad at the business.
“Nobody knew. Not even Sky. I never did tell her. She always thought I came back to Jamaica so often because you were here.”
Josh exhaled heavily. “The summer of regrets.”
Addi shrugged. “I don’t regret knowing Randy.”
“You wasted twenty years of your life having an illicit affair with him,” Josh said heavily. “Why deny it? If you had a do over you would change things wouldn’t you?”
“Yes. Maybe…” Addi glanced at him. “I don’t know. What would you change?”
“That’s easy.” Josh snorted. “Find the guy who got Ellie pregnant and punch him to death.”
“Be serious.” Addi clutched the urn tighter to her.
“I don’t know.” Josh shrugged. “It happened already, can’t change now, can it? What’s the use rehashing the past?”
Others from the series
You can only live once, right?
That is what Travis Jefferson believed. He had a past with many mishaps and an accident that left him crippled, but he was in no doubt that one could not just reset their lives.
And that is why, when his attractive neighbor and student, Skyler Porter, told him he was a resetter, he was doubtful that she was sane.
Even though Skyler and her family seemed to believe this myth and had their own resetter, he was not buying it. It would take something catastrophic in his life to make him contemplate going back in time…
After time traveling to the past Addi had her new life all planned out and it did not include Randy Vassell. She was determined not to make the same mistake she made with him before. After all, he was the man that she had wasted twenty years of her life with in the previous timeline.
However, life did not always go the way that is planned and 2002 found Addi in a very bad situation. When her only option was to go back home and lay low for a while, she contemplated working for Randy, who was newly engaged to be married. And that was when she realized that what she had for Randy would always be there. Would she blow her second chance with him, or would they finally have a happily ever after?
Could there be love for Josh this time around?
Businessman Josh Porter was burnt out. The most logical step was for him to take a vacation to Jamaica where he had recently bought a house. He had no intention to do anything other than vegetate for six months but his mother had other plans for him.
Unable to correspond with her prison pen pal, she asks Josh to fill in for her. Josh reluctantly agrees and then unexpectedly gets involved with convicted killer Portia Gordon, to the point where he would do anything to see her go free.
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