Or does he?
Whether you love him (as Angel does), hate him (as many of my readers do) or feel a little sorry for him (with Carmella for a mother, is it any wonder he turned out the way he did?), chances are, if you've read Casting the First Stone or Chasing a Second Chance, you've wondered how Angel ended up with him.
A while back, I shared a deleted scene from Casting the First Stone -- the night that Angel met Jim. Today, in honor of Hug Your Sweetheart Day, I thought I'd let Angel tell you a little bit about how she sees her husband. She and I both know that her thoughts probably won't change your opinion but, if you're one of those readers who thinks she deserves better, maybe she can convince you that there's more than one side to Jim.
And, if you haven't read Casting the First Stone, today's a great day to check it out. It's free on Kindle today, tomorrow and Friday.
Now, here's Angel.
I'm one of those women who grew up believing in fairy tales and dreaming of Prince Charming. And, the night I met Jim, he was charming indeed. I couldn't believe that this handsome man, who drew the attention of all the women in the room, wanted to spend the evening with me, but he did. We talked about silly things like which cookies tasted the best, but mostly we danced. He was a complete gentleman, and for a young woman who spent her days working as a receptionist in the service department of a garage, the attention of an attractive, well-put together gentleman -- who went to church! -- well, it made me a little giddy. Marita would laugh at that, I know, but I think, if she were honest, she'd admit that at one point, Jim charmed her, too.
Believe it or not, Jim was a flowers and candy kind of guy. When we were dating, he often showed up with a bouquet of flowers, and he loved spoiling me by taking me out to dinner at fancy restaurants. He liked taking me to his clients' restaurants, where the proprietors knew him and made sure he got the best table.
Feeling important is a big deal to Jim. His sisters claim that their mother spoiled him rotten, and I believe that's true. But I also believe that his parents had high expectations for him, and that he felt pressured by those expectations.
We'd been going out for about six months when he told me about Charli. He was embarrassed -- I think he was afraid to tell me, in fact. He was so relieved when I told him I wanted to meet her, thrilled that I'd want to spend time with her.
When we got married, we both wanted to have children right away. I never questioned Jim's motives, maybe because we both wanted the same thing. But, when getting pregnant was harder than we thought it would be, Jim took it really hard. His sisters both had families, and, of course, Marita had Charli. He hated letting me down, and letting his parents down. It really took a toll on him.
The custody suit, in Jim's eyes, was more flowers and candy. He wanted to make me happy, to see me smile like I had when he'd show up at my door with a bouquet of flowers. He was broken-hearted that he couldn't give me the family we both wanted so much, and somehow, he lost sight of the fact that taking Marita's family away wasn't the way to do it. He convinced himself that it was in my best interests -- and Charli's -- and that everyone would be better off if he stepped up as he should have so many years ago.
I thought that once I had Spencer, Jim would be less driven, but becoming a father for the second time, and under such different circumstances seems to have made him feel that he needs to work even harder. I'm hoping it's just growing pains -- heaven knows Spencer and I are feeling them, too -- and that after we settle into a new routine, he'll stop feeling as though he needs to prove anything to any of us. The funny thing is, Jim is harder on himself than he is on anyone else. Unfortunately, he just doesn't come across that way.
Even after all of our ups and downs, I feel very blessed to hug my sweetheart today, and I hope I get to keep hugging him till we're old and gray.