Monday, December 19, 2011

Chapter 1-A Blast from the Past

I'll never forget the phone call that I had received from my best friend two days after Christmas. He was going to rehab for his addiction to alcohol.

I knew Jordin had a problem but I didn't think it was this bad. I went to rehab myself when I was 16 for drugs abuse. I was scared for Jordin but I knew he'd fight it, he was strong and I was going to be there every step of the way.

Jordin and I met at the Grand Ole Opry while I was interning there in the Marketing Department. He was there to watch his girlfriend perform.

We talked briefly in the green room before Kelly took the stage. I met him again a couple of times after that night at various events, then, a year later at a practice that I had attended with my four-year old nephew when my brother had to back out at the last minute, because of an important meeting at work. My brother Josh was the owner of One on One Fitness Inc., a sponsor of the Nashville Predators.

Kayden and I were the special guest at practice that day since my brother had just signed a new contract to remain their sponsor through 2014.

Kayden's eyes lit up as he saw Steve Sullivan step off of the ice, Steve was one of his favorites along with Jordin and Pekka Rinne.

"Can we go meet them now," Kayden asked and the security guard chuckled at his excitement.

"Ten more minutes buddy then you can go in," the guard smiled and Kayden groaned.

"Be patient, Kay."

"Ten minutes is FOREVER," he said causing me to laugh as I leaned down and tickled his neck.

"Stop," he giggled as I scooped him up and kissed his cheek before setting him back down. Kayden grabbed my hand and we waited against the wall talking to the guard. Kayden's eyes lit up as he talked to him about who his favorite players were and why.

"I like Tootoo because he kicks...he kicks the bad guy's ass sometimes," Kayden said causing the guard to laugh as my eyes went wide.

"KAYDEN ANTHONY WALKER," I scolded, "Language."

"Sorry, Paypay," he said calling me the nickname he's called me since he was a baby. He couldn't say Paige, so I was "Paypay" to him ever since.

"You're free to go back, have fun," the guard said as we walked down the hallway.

"You must be Mrs. Walker," David Poile said as we approached the locker room.

"I'm Paige Walker, Joshua's sister. He couldn't be here today because of a very important meeting," I said shaking his hand.

"My apologies," he smiled, "This little guy must be Kayden."

Kayden stood behind me poking his head out. I grabbed his hand and pulled him out from behind me. I bent down to place him on my hip as we entered the locker room.

"That's Pekka," he whispered with wide eyes as he watched the Finnish man with the hilarious name finish his interview.

I stood in front of the door somewhat star struck myself. I brought Kayden to Predators games all of the time and these guys were beginning to be a pretty big deal around town.

The door opened behind me, knocking me out of my trance.

"Shit," the voice swore, "I'm so sorry."

I looked up and saw the familiar face of Jordin Tootoo, "Are you okay," he asked.

I laughed lightly, "I'm fine, the door barely touched me."

He stared at me for a second before he spoke again, "It's Paige, right?"

"That'd be me," I replied as Kayden stared in admiration at his hero.

Jordin smiled, "Fancy seeing you here."

"My brother owns the gym that sponsors you guys and he's in a very important meeting, so I brought his son for him"

Jordin smiled once again, "Hi buddy, what's your name?"

Kayden buried his face in my shoulder causing Jordin to laugh, "His name's Kayden," I replied for my nephew, "I'm sorry, he's really shy."

"I have a one year old brother, so I know how that is."

David Poile appeared in the room again when the media left the locker room, "Gentlemen, we have some special guests with us today. Meet Paige and Kayden Walker."

"Hi," they all said in unison.

I smiled as Kayden gave a small wave before putting his head on my shoulder.

"She's Josh Walker's sister and Kayden is Josh's son. In case you all were wondering, Josh owns One on One Fitness Inc., which is one of our sponsors. Josh couldn't be here today so Miss Walker brought the little guy. We have set up a VIP lunch in the conference room down the hall so please make them feel welcomed. Paige, Kayden help yourselves."

"Come on," Jordin smiled, "I'll show you the way."

Jordin sat with Kayden and I during lunch. Jordin was really down to earth, something I didn't expect from him but I should have since he was a sweetheart at the Opry.

After Kayden finished getting his jersey signed and got done taking pictures with the guys, he and I left. He was spending the night at my house and all he talked about was his day with the guys. I enjoyed myself too, a lot more than I thought I would.

A couple of weeks later, I was in my office at the Opry working on editing TV commercials for CMT of our filmed events when the receptionist downstairs informed me that I had a vistor.

"Miss Walker, there's someone here to see you."

"Send them in," I replied endinf the call.

A few minutes later, Jordin and Wade walked in.

"Hi Paige," Jordin smiled.

"Hey guys," I replied, "What are you doing here?"

"We were touring the Opry with the team, so we thought we'd come visit when Jordan mentioned you worked here," Wade smiled.

I looked at Jordin who blushed, "He's the one who insisted we'd come here," Jordin said and I laughed before we fell into conversation until they had to leave.

Wade invited me out to have drinks with them at The Camel Pub, a local bar that was a popular hot spot.

After that night when I agreed to go, Jordin and I kept in touch. He had a new girlfriend named Brooke, and he was happy to be out of a Star Magazine relationship. Jordin and I became good friends and that's what brings me here today.

Jordin is finished with his rehab. I gave up my apartment to live with him full time, so I can keep an eye on him. The newly acquired Mike Fisher agreed to help while they are on the road.

I'm sitting on the couch with Jordin who has his head on my lap as I run my fingers through his hair.

"I can't believe she left me," he says above a whisper and I want to kill Brooke for leaving. She was going to mess up his recovery and I knew I had to do everything in my power to stop it.

"She's not worth it, Jordin," I said as he looked up at me before nodding his head, "If she loved you, she would have been here to support you."

"I don't understand why you've stayed by me," he admitted, "You could leave if you want and I'd understand."

"Jordin," I began, "Please don't start that again. I can help you stay sober, I was in rehab at 16 for cocaine. You're my best friend and I care about you. I don't want to lose you, Jordin. You got your whole life ahead of you and a little brother that worships the ground you walk on that needs you. You lost a brother, imagine how he would feel if he lost you."

Jordin smiled before wiping away the tears from his eyes that formed at the memories of his brother, "Thank you," he whispered as I leaned down to kiss his forehead.

"Anytime," I smiled. I don't know how long we stayed up just enjoying each other's company but I enjoyed it and I could tell it made Jordin stop thinking for a while.

I slept in Jordin's room that night to keep an eye on him. I didn't want to be a pest but he was my best friend and I wanted to protect him.

Jordin woke up in the middle of the night and saw Paige sleeping soundly next to him. It was good to be home and it felt good to not have to get high to feel something. Paige mumbled in her sleep causing Jordin to laugh before he got out of bed to use the bathroom.

As he made his way back to bed after taking a hot shower to clear his head, Jordin kissed Paige on the lips knowing she wouldn't know. He loved her more than she could ever imagine. He didn't want to scare her off by telling her, he needed her. If she left, he was afraid he'd lose all control again. Jordin sighed before wrapping his arm around Paige's waist before he fell asleep dreaming of the day Paige walked into his life.