“Can I give you your Christmas present early?” Joe asked Savannah the night before they were to leave for New Jersey to see his family for the Holiday’s.
“What? It’s not Christmas though,” Savannah said, smirking playfully at him.
“It’s too big to fit on the airplane,” he told her, smirking right back.
“So it’s not jewelry?” She said wryly, quirking an eyebrow at him.
“No, it’s not jewelry and it won’t fit in a suitcase,” he scoffed at her as his cheeks turned slightly pink.
“You know, this goes completely against the traditions of Christmas—”
“Sahhh-van-nahhh,” Joe whined, which made her instantly giggle.
“I’m just kidding, baby. Sure. If you need to give me my present now, I’m not going to stop you,” she laughed, feeling rather excited. Christmas early? Yes, please.
“Good. Come on,” Joe said, jumping off the couch, grabbing her hand to help her up.
“Baby!” Savannah shrieked and giggled as Joe quickly pulled her toward her apartment door.
“Where are we going?” She asked him as they moved toward the elevators out in the hallway.
“It’s in my car. I couldn’t just bring it in, obviously,” he said, smirking at her devilishly.
“Oh. Ha. Right,” she giggled.
Joe walked Savannah out to the parking lot, but she couldn’t see his black Range Rover anywhere, which had her confused.
“Baby, did someone steal your car?” She asked him, her eyebrows knit with confusion.
“No. But this one’s yours,” he said, smirking widely as they stopped in front of a car in the parking lot.
“What—” She choked out looking at the car in front of them.
“Merry Christmas, Van,” he said, smiling from ear-to- ear.
“Joe—what?” She asked, looking at him wide-eyed.
“You don’t have a car. You’ve never had a car. Well, here’s your car, babe,” he told her, before giving her a kiss on the cheek.
Savannah was standing in front of a white Audi Q7 SUV and it was one hell of a vehicle.
“Joe! This is a fifty-thousand dollar car!” She shrieked.
“Seventy, but who’s counting,” he said with a shrug.
“Joe!” She yelped.
“Savannah!” He mimicked.
“I can’t—Joe, ohmygod,” she said, gaping at the beautiful piece of fine machinery.
“You can. Here,” he said, putting the key in the palm of her hand.
“Ohmygod. I don’t even know what to say,” she yelped, throwing her arms around Joe.
“You don’t have to say anything, babe. Merry Christmas,” he said with a pleased chuckle.
“Thank you so much,” she said as she pulled back, grabbing his face in her hands before leaving a chaste kiss on his lips.
“My gift to you will never compare to this,” she told him with a huff.
“Don’t, Van. Don’t do that. I know I am going to love whatever you give me. It’s not about the biggest or the most expensive, okay. It’s about the love we share. I got this for you because you’ve never had one and I wanted to do that for you,” he told her seriously. She nodded, swallowing back her pride.
“I love you, Savannah Lynn,” he said, kissing her lips.
“I love you so much,” she said, meaning it whole-heartedly.
Savannah was extremely nervous as she sat next to her boyfriend of nine months on the airplane headed to Wyckoff, New Jersey to celebrate Christmas with his family. Joe invited her along as to a) include her in his life, like any loving boyfriend would; and to b) not be alone when he faced his family for the first time in over a year, since Nick and Savannah broke up and he started dating her.
Savannah hadn’t spoken or seen Nick in months. They weren’t friends, they weren’t close anymore and she could accredit most of it to her now steady relationship with his older brother. Oh, yeah… and maybe also the fact that he was now engaged to his mistress who just so happened to have recently given birth to their love child. She was not looking forward to seeing the two of them or their bastard child.
Joe and Savannah spent the last nine months laying low, keeping out of the public eye. Even though the Jonas Brothers kind of fell out of the spotlight over the years, there still was an all-out scandal over the fact that not only was Nick Jonas a cheater and got his mistress pregnant, but his brother and ex-band mate Joe was also sleeping with his girlfriend. And the fact that Joe and Savannah stayed together only fueled the media’s bloodlust.
As Savannah held onto Joe’s hand on the airplane, it just amazed her how she could be in the exact same position she was a year ago, but it was entirely different at the same time. Last year, it was Nick’s hand she was holding on the airplane to New Jersey. It was with Nick that she faced his parents for the first time, hoping they would approve of her. This year, it was Joe’s hand she was holding. And it would be with Joe that she would face his parents for the first time since their affair, hoping they would approve of their relationship.
As their plane touched down at the airport the lump in Savannah’s throat grew tenfold and the ache in her stomach was something she knew wasn’t going to let up the entire time she and Joe were with his family.
Let the quagmire ensue.
Standing outside of the Jonas house in Wyckoff, hand-in-hand with Joe – their luggage in tow, Savannah wanted to turn and run as fast as she could. She eyed Joe with a look of pure terror as he reached for the doorbell, taking a deep breath.
“We’re in this together, Savannah,” he assured her. She could only look up into his eyes and nod, hoping his words were true.
With that he plunged his finger into the doorbell and pulled back. She didn’t even realize she was holding her breath until she forcefully let it out as the door swung open, revealing none other than Josh Miller, Joe’s uncle.
“Savannah! Joe!” He said happily to the two of them.
“Joshy,” Joe said fondly as he leaned in, hugging him tightly.
“Hello, beautiful,” Josh said, turning his embrace on Savannah. She met Josh last Christmas, but he also flew out to California a few months back and they’d spent some time with him. He was so cool and funny and so down to earth.
“Hi, Josh,” Savannah said, feeling elated that he was there.
“I didn’t know you’d be here,” Josh said, smiling widely at Savannah.
“I’m here,” Savannah said apprehensively.
“Are you nervous? I mean, since you haven’t been around the family since last Christmas,” Josh asked her, making a frightened face.
“More than you know,” Savannah told him.
“It will be okay,” he told her.
“It will be okay, Van,” Joe reassured her, but she wasn’t so sure.
As Joe and Savannah entered the sprawling foyer of Kevin Sr and Denise’s house, they could hear scattered talking and laughter coming from the direction of the kitchen. Savannah’s nerves were shot to shit as Josh walked back into the kitchen, announcing their arrival to the family.
“Joe and Savannah are here,” Josh told them, loud enough for them to hear from the foyer.
“Joe and Savannah? What?” They heard Kevin ask, sounding a bit confused.
Within seconds, Kevin came meandering down the hallway to greet the two of them. Savannah was hidden well behind the staircase as she removed her shoes. And she was scared to show her face to anyone, even Kevin, who was a friend to her when she was dating Nick. She didn’t know where she would stand with him now.
“Joe! My brother! Long time, no see,” Kevin greeted him, hugging Joe to his chest quickly before releasing him.
“Good to see you, mate,” Joe told Kevin with a wide smile. Savannah could tell they truly missed each other. Joe always talked about Kevin fondly and it made Savannah sad to be part of the reason why they hadn’t seen each other in so long.
“So, Savannah? You brought Savannah? Am I missing something?” Kevin curiously asked, quirking his eyebrow. Savannah’s stomach dropped. Did Kevin not know about them? She was certain that Nick would have told them all by now.
Savannah emerged from behind the banister, being witness to the curious look that Kevin was sending Joe’s way.
“Savannah! Hi,” Kevin greeted as she came into view.
“Hi, Kevin. It’s good to see you,” she said as he pulled her in for a hug.
“Uh, I’m a bit confused. I thought you and Nick broke up,” Kevin asked, looking more than a little baffled as his eyes darted back and forth between the two of them. Savannah looked at Joe, who was wearing an awkward goofy grin on his face.
“Uh. We kind of… got together,” Joe said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Oh, wow,” Kevin said, looking between the two of them.
“Nick never told you?” Joe asked him.
“All I heard was he and Savannah broke up. Honestly, that was the last I heard about Savannah,” Kevin said, giving her a sympathetic look.
“Glad to see you again, hun,” Kevin told her.
“Thank you. You too,” she said, smiling genuinely at him. Kevin was a really great guy.
“So, how long have you two been together then?” Kevin asked, giving them both a smile.
“Nine months,” Joe said, taking her hand in his as she stood silently by his side.
“Nine Months?” Kevin asked, astonished, his mouth dropping open slightly. They nodded, both of them letting out a strained chuckle at his reaction.
“Nine months? Wow. Why didn’t you guys let anyone know?” Kevin asked curiously, looking almost hurt that he and Joe had drifted so far apart in the past year.
“Let anyone know what?” They heard as Joe’s father Kevin Sr emerged from the kitchen.
Savannah’s heart accelerated, but also felt like it stopped all at the same time. She was petrified. She tried to tug her hand out of Joe’s just to lessen the tension she was feeling, but Joe gripped her hand with an iron fist, refusing to let her take the easy way out.
“Joe! We’ve missed you so!” Denise cooed as she came barreling toward her son, grabbing him in a hug and planting many wet kisses all over his face. It was only then, in the throes of Hurricane Denise, that he dropped Savannah’s hand.
“Hi, Mom,” he said, inching away from her, trying to get her to back-off in the nicest way possible. She finally got the hint and went to stand by her husband’s side.
“Savannah,” Kevin Sr said, nodded toward her, acknowledging her presence.
“Oh! Savannah. Hello,” Denise said, caught off guard, her eyes wide and feral.
The sneer in her voice was not lost on her. Savannah could see exactly what this woman thought of her – the girl who cheated on her golden child with another one of her sons. The fact that she was standing in her home, breathing the same air as her, looked as though it was making her physically ill. Her lips curled into a look of disgust, although it was obvious that she was trying to hide it for Joe’s sake.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Jonas,” Savannah replied politely to both of them.
“What brings you here, dear?” Denise asked, but her tone read more as ‘why in God’s name are you in my house, you harlot?’
“Dad, Mom – Savannah and I are together. We’re seeing each other,” Joe laid it out for them as he once again grabbed her hand in his. Denise’s eyes snapped down, witnessing the show of affection as her mouth dropped open in pure shock.
“You’re seeing each other?” She gasped, looking back up at Joe.
“Yes. We’re dating. We’re in a relationship. We’re together,” Joe said, over-explaining it to get the point across.
Denise’s reaction was priceless and somewhat appalling. She pursed her lips tightly, lifting her eyebrows as high into the air as they could go, looking as if she just fully ingested a mouthful of the sourest lemon juice known to man. Savannah almost let out a chuckle, but decided it would only make things disastrously worse.
“Oh. Welcome, Savannah,” she uttered, feigning civility. Read: “You will never be welcome in my home.”
“Thank you,” Savannah said quietly, feeling more than a little awkward.
“Have you gotten the chance to see Nick and Erica’s beautiful baby girl?” Denise asked her with a tight smile on her lips.
“Uh…” Savannah stammered, completely speechless.
Savannah didn’t even know they had a girl, let alone had the ‘chance’ to see her. Wait, did she just ask her that? Really? It definitely seemed a bit malicious, given the circumstances. It was as if she just screamed Team Nick at the top of her lungs in the pettiest way possible. It sure as hell would have earned the same dead-faced response from Savannah if she did.
“Mom!” Joe snapped sharply at her.
“What?” She gasped wide-eyed, looking at her middle son.
“A little insensitive, don’t you think?” Joe snapped, annoyance thick in his tone. Denise huffed to herself, retreating away from the two of them.
“I’ll just… I’ll just go make up the guest bedroom,” she stammered, looking as if she was going to cry, before making a beeline for the stairs. She took them two-by-two before disappearing completely out of sight. Joe sighed next to Savannah, giving her a look of apology.
“You’re going to have to give her a break, son. This is a lot to take in – you just blurting out something that big. I mean—” His dad said in a warning tone.
“Blurting it out? When would you have liked me to do it? As we’re sitting down to dinner? I think there would be a few questions in the meantime,” Joe said sarcastically.
“A phone call might have been nice. You could have given us time to prepare…” Kevin Sr continued.
“Prepare for what? Savannah’s not the god damn anti-Christ,” Joe said, getting heated in a matter of seconds.
“Joe,” Savannah breathed, tugging on his hand, trying to reign in his temper.
“Joe, that’s not what he was saying,” Kevin chimed in, defending their father.
“I’m just… ughhh. You wonder why I haven’t visited in a year,” Joe grumbled under his breath.
“Joe, I don’t want to argue. This is supposed to be a happy time. I am sure glad you’re here now. And Savannah, you are more than welcome,” Kevin Sr told her. She could tell he wasn’t entirely happy about their relationship, but he did a much better job at hiding it then the ever-so emotional matriarch of the family.
“Thank you,” she told him, giving a small nod as she stood by Joe.
“Yeah, thanks,” Joe grumbled, still acting a little bitter about the situation.
“Go, go. Get settled. Your mother and Danielle almost have dinner prepared,” Kevin told them.
“Yeah,” Joe said, grabbing for their suitcases.
“Come on, babe,” he added as he started to make his way up the stairs. Savannah followed fast at his tail, not wanting to leave his side for a second. He was her only true ally.
Denise was just finishing tidying the guest bedroom when they made their way up. It was the same room Savannah occupied a year ago, the last time she was there. She was more than a little sure the room was already ready prior to their arrival, but if there was one thing Savannah knew about Denise Jonas, it was that she was an entertainer. If she was having a guest over, not one thing would be out of place inside her domain.
“Oh. Um, I’ll let you get settled. Joe, could I have a word, please,” Denise spoke quickly as she dashed out of the room, doing her best not to make eye contact with Savannah.
Savannah looked at Joe worriedly, feeling completely wrong about the whole situation. She was regretting the decision to ever come there with him. But she knew it wasn’t even a choice, because she would do anything for him.
“It’ll be okay,” Joe said quietly, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead before he obediently followed his mother out of the room after placing her suitcase next to the bed.
Savannah stood there dumbfounded, feeling abandoned. She stood in the middle of the spacious bedroom looking around, feeling lost in her own skin without Joe by her side. When she heard their quiet voices from down the hallway, it made her rather curious as to what Denise needed to talk to him about, so she walked toward the open door and eavesdropped a bit.
“Your behavior is a little out of line, Mom,” she heard Joe say and it made her happy inside that he was defending her to one of the most important women in his life.
“Why would you bring her here though, Joe?” She heard Denise reply.
“Because she is my girlfriend,” Joe’s voice was strong and deep, sounding offended and defensive.
“Nick is here. And Erica and the baby,” Denise said, like it was a valid excuse for her reaction.
Savannah’s skin crawled at the thought of spending even a second in the same room as the woman Nick knocked-up when he was still seeing her. But she knew it would be nearly impossible to avoid her since they were under the same roof – no matter how huge the roof was.
“Who cares?” Joe shot at her.
“Don’t you think it will be a little awkward, to say the least, for Erica… and Savannah?” She asked, throwing her name in as an afterthought.
“Okay, wait a second. How did Savannah become the bad person here when Nick was cheating on her behind her back too? Erica is only with Nick because he got her pregnant!” Joe bellowed loudly, letting his temper flare up again.
“Erica is a nice girl!” Denise said, defending the hussy.
“You were saying the same thing about Savannah a year ago, Mom!” Joe argued with her.
“Joe…” She breathed out so hushed that Savannah barely heard her.
“No! You’re being a hypocrite! I love Savannah—” Joe said, still defending her, making her heart swell.
“Love?” Denise scoffed in her sneering tone.
“Yes. I love her. And I would appreciate it if you would make it a point not to make her feel like an abomination while we’re here. Or we will be on the next flight back to California. And that’s a promise!” Joe told her firmly.
“Joe—okay, okay. I-I will try my best,” Denise conceded quietly.
“It’s just not fair. Savannah was in Erica’s same position a year ago, but now you’re fawning all over Erica and being belittling toward Savannah. I don’t understand how you can be so ignorant about the roles they both played,” Joe said, his tone now lighter with her.
“Joe, I said I would try my best,” Denise said, sharp-tongued and annoyed.
“Thank you,” he said with a sigh.
Savannah dipped back into the guest bedroom right before Denise left Joe’s room. She watched as she walked past the guest room, completely ignoring her. Savannah liked her so much better a year ago.
Seconds later, Joe turned the corner into the guest room in a huff, looking frazzled from the conversation he just had.
“Sometimes that woman… gahhh,” Joe grumbled about his stubborn mother.
“I’m sorry,” Savannah said faintly.
“No, no. Baby, it’s not your fault,” Joe said, grabbing her hands in his, looking her in the eyes. Savannah looked up at him with a saddened expression.
“They need to learn how to accept this – us. It’s you and me, baby. I love you so much,” he told her, trying to sound more optimistic than she knew he was feeling in the moment.
“I love you too,” she replied before his lips were on hers for the first time since they set foot in this disapproving household.
“Joe! Savannah! Dinner!” Kevin bellowed up the staircase, breaking them out of their revelry. Joe pulled away, rolling his eyes at his brother’s subtlety.
“Are you ready for this?” Joe asked her with worry in his eyes.
“As ready as I’ll ever be,” she told him as she took a deep breath and let it out harshly.
Joe grabbed Savannah’s hand and led her down the stairs to her doom – dealt by the hands of his awaiting family.