The Space Between

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Chapter 13

Madalyn

“If you gained a day to your life for every thought of you that I ever had, your existence would have been infinite.”

Friday Night

We sat on the blanket looking out at the ocean that we had spent most of the day in. I had my legs crossed into Jack’s as we watched each other eat, occasionally laughing and feeding one another.

After I had walked away from that beach when I was thirteen, and came out of my depression, I found no interest in boys as I grew up. My mother asked one day at the dinner table, when I was seventeen, if I was gay. I threw spaghetti at her. Now that she’d read my journal, she understood. Perhaps it was how we met, but seeing Jack that day in the water ruined every man for me, but him. Now he was here, and just looking at him gave me a sense of great fulfillment.

Seeing him every day was creating somewhat of an issue for me, however. I wanted him so badly. I wanted to let go of what I had been holding onto my whole adolescence. Every day I thought about him, and I couldn’t think of anyone else who I would have wanted to take away what was left of my innocence. The image of him, which I always held onto, was a pivotal part of the fantasies I had that ran wild.

Jack would not need to take anything, however. I was going to offer this part of me to him - willingly, emotionally, and tangibly. We had come so close, but he had virtues and strength. I admired his self-control even though I held some disappointment.

I wanted so badly for it to be that night. I would hold nothing back when it came time, and try to be everything for him. Even though I was young, I was still a woman, and I would show him that I was a woman, if he did not already realize this.

“Hey listen, don’t worry about your car. It’s being fixed and I’ll take care of it. Let me know if you need a ride anywhere,” he said as he finished up his food.

“Thanks, Jack,” I said in reply.

He stood up and held his hand out to me.

“Follow me, I want to show you something,” he said.

I took Jack’s hand, and as he led me toward the closed door of his bedroom. He began to open the door but then stopped.

“Before I open this door, you must promise that if we ever do anything with your mother, she never comes in here,” he said.

I laughed nervously.

“Now I’m a bit concerned, but I promise.”

Jack took a deep breath and opened the door. I could see by his expression that what he was showing me must have meant a lot to him. He flipped on the light, and on the wall by the window, where I had stood in the light of the sunset, was a collage of images. I couldn’t help but gasp, and I instantly brought both hands over my mouth. The photos were beautiful. They were hung in rows of three. From the bottom was one image of my feet and lower legs in black and white. Another image was my hands holding onto my bikini bottoms at the hips. This image was also in black and white, only with a splash of red color on my nails. The next was my stomach and the bottoms of my breasts. The second row from the bottom were all different images of my chest and neck. One was my swimsuit top as I appeared to be removing it. In the second, I had my hands cupped around my breasts, holding up my swimsuit top. And in the third, you could see my arms had been raised; it showed from the top of my chest up to my lips. All three were black and white.

Jack spotted the row I was studying.

“I’m sorry. I hope this doesn’t embarrass you. If it does, please don’t be. You are so beautiful, and were trusting enough to do this. I figured I would return the favor and show you it wasn’t a wasted moment by any means. When you came into my apartment and woke me, I loved the feeling of opening my eyes and seeing you. I decided I wanted to wake up to you every day. This is in case you can’t be here physically,” he beautifully stated.

“The sun hits this window perfectly in the evenings. You will always be held here, in the light,” Jack said.

I was still holding my hands over my mouth. The center image was larger than the others and not in black and white. The color was less saturated except for my eyes and my red-painted fingernails and toes. My chin was against my right shoulder, which was facing the window. The straps of my dress were around my arms, and the light from the sunset, shining through the window, was captured well. The six other photos above the large center were all pictures of my hands, shoulders, neck, lips, and eyes. I would not have guessed it was me. I knew it was me, but it was hard to process.

“Jack, these don’t seem real. I’m speechless, I really have no idea what to say. Is this really what I look like?”

“Stunning aren’t they? I mean, aren’t you?” he corrected.

“I feel strange, and kind of embarrassed for staring at them,” I said as I leaned in, taking a closer look. “I actually want a copy of this large one. It’s the least risqué, and I can show my mother. I may have mentioned that you photographed me, and she’ll wonder about them.”

“I’ll make a copy,” he replied.

I placed my hands on my chest, still feeling surprised. “How heavily had you been into photography, because these are kind of epic,” I stated.

“Um, I was quite into it. Although I’ve never taken shots like these before. It really is the subject in the photo that makes these. You did really well with your posing,” Jack answered.

“Well, I’m sure my ballet classes probably helped with that,” I said under my breath.

I looked at him almost in tears. It was a wonderful thing he shared with me. Even the picture placement was thought out. I rushed him, wrapping my arms firmly around his body.

“This is really amazing. Your pictures of me are beautiful. Wow, doesn’t that sound conceited?”

“Only to someone unaware of what took place here. But no one will know because this was done for us, and no one else. They are a reminder of you, and the best photo shoot I’ve ever done,” he said, kindness behind his eyes.

Everything within me was forcing me to tell him the truth. I had to tell him everything, now. There was no reason not to anymore. It felt like a fire shut up inside me, and I had to let it out.

“Jack, you are the same as I remember you, but not what I had imagined you to be,” I started saying. “You are more than what I could have dreamed, and I dreamed about you a lot.”

“Thank you?” he questioned. “Is that one of your one-sided statements I keep picking up on, that only you can understand?”

I could feel my eyes begin to well up as I started to say what I had longed to shout out since he came back into my life. I took a deep breath and then exhaled, and his face grew concerned. He pushed me away from his body but held onto me around the shoulders.

“Madalyn? What is it?”

“I’m sorry, I just have something I really want to tell you that I didn’t know would be this hard. The words will not come out,” I said, my voice strained.

“It’s okay. You can tell me. What is it?” he reassured me.

I held up a finger, signaling for him to wait a moment. I walked out of the room and got my beach bag, pulling out a blue notebook. I walked back in and held up the journal. I followed Jack’s kind, concerned eyes as he looked at me and then at the journal. I continued to follow his eyes behind the tears that had welled up in mine. He traced the scribbled out title with his fingers. His brow furrowed as he saw the new title I had written.

He read the title out loud.

The Secret Man: Jack Ryder… Maddy, I’m confused. What is this?”

I began to cry as I let him take it out of my hands.

“My delusions,” I said behind a small sob.

Jack caught the tear rolling down my cheek with his thumb.

“Did I do something? Why are you crying?” he rightfully asked.

“I’m sorry. You didn’t do anything. I really didn’t know I would be emotional like this. Please just read, and you will have your answer,” I told him.

He took the book from my hand and slowly sat on the bed. Jack began to read silently, but I could see his lips moving.

It was all of my thoughts, my heartaches, my dreams and nightmares, all in one place. I’d just given him full access to me, everything I was, and everything I wanted. I felt panic in that moment, thinking of how it might turn out. I leaned against the wall in front of him. Jack then started over, reading aloud softly.

Daddy, you’re gone now. I only wish I could have gone with you. I don’t want you to be dead.

Jack glanced up at me with a look of disbelief. I closed my eyes trying to keep my tears from falling. He continued reading.

I never got a chance to tell you how much I really loved you. You gave me your wrist-watch and told me to count the minutes until you returned. Those were the last words you said to me. I will be counting for eternity. I do not want to wait my whole life to see you again. How is a person supposed to live their life like this? Am I going to live my whole life with a longing to want to see you again, but be denied what my heart aches for?

The priest told me that God needed you in heaven. I don’t believe him. How could anyone go to church and love someone who takes our family from us? Why would I want to be here anymore, waiting for you to come home, forever? I don’t think these Priests understand God.

Mom has finally stopped crying. I think she is trying to be strong for me because I can’t get out of bed. I lay here and imagine when you used come into my room after I had a nightmare. You would lay here until I fell back to sleep.

Hearing someone else read aloud what had been my hell, was equally painful as living it. I fell to the floor at Jack’s bedside and began to cry. Jack slid off his bed and held onto me.

“Maddy, I can stop. I understand you not telling me about your father. I understand it fully,” Jack comforted.

“No, Jack. There is more and you have to read it,” I replied

He reached up behind my head, and pulled the journal off his mattress.

Daddy, it has been four months now. I turned thirteen and nothing has changed. My heart has broken completely, and the pieces are now just falling away. Mom wants to put me on antidepressants, and send me to a therapist, but that would never bring you back. I feel this would make me numb, and I would forget you. I haven’t gone back to school, and I never want to. I hate everyone there, and they waste my time with stupid shit I could teach myself. I look at your watch every day. I follow the second hand, and count. Eventually I lose track of what I am counting, and the numbers begin to run together. I’m a stupid girl who thinks laying around, aching, counting, writing, and day dreaming is going to bring you back. I can’t stop the descent into madness.

Daddy, my heart is gone. Daddy, my heart is gone. Daddy, my heart is gone.

I looked up at Jack when I heard his voice constrained. I could almost see the lump he had in his throat. He took a long pause and closed his eyes. He released a shaky sigh as he let his head drop. After a moment of what looked like silent prayer, he opened his eyes and continued reading.

Daddy, when your plane went down, my heart was on it. It was floating in the ocean with you and all the wreckage. When the Coast Guard searched for survivors and found nothing but airplane scraps, I knew you had taken it to the bottom of the ocean with you; to oblivion.

My brain is falling out and being disconnected from my body. I don’t even know what I’m writing anymore. What are my thoughts? Who am I without you? If you’re no longer here, does that make me your little girl? Daddy, where are you? When are you coming home? I’m having a nightmare and you haven’t come running to my room to wake me. I’m reaching out to you and Earth’s gravity is pulling me apart, piece by piece.

Daddy, I climbed out of bed today only to fall in my tears as my feet touched the floor. I feel like I am floating. Mom seemed happy to see me up. I am disconnected from the universe. You’re gone and nobody is left to love me. I can’t even love myself because love is not in me. My heart is at the bottom of the Sea, never to be found. I don’t know where you are, my Father, my life giver. You have gone out to Sea. I am going to join you and take back what I have lost. The water is not so bad. No wonder you are staying down there. It must be marvelous to be where no one else has gone. I want to see it too.

Daddy, Mom and I are taking your boat to Shack Island today. I’m going to join you at last. The Bible says we are from dust and to dust we shall return. I am going to return to the sand and the waves. I can’t wait to submerge what is left of myself and be held by you in the end. When Mom is basking in the Sun, I will let myself float silently back to you. I know you are missing me as much as I am missing you. I can’t wait to see your face. I will always be your little girl.

Jack stopped his reading and looked at me with pained eyes.

“Maddy, this is awful. This isn’t you. This isn’t who I know. I don’t believe this is you. What twelve or thirteen-year-old writes this? How could any thirteen-year-old write this? Honestly, if this is all the truth, this has got to be saddest thing I have ever read,” he said.

He put his hand over his face and rubbed his head as if attempting to process everything.

“That wasn’t me, Jack. It was my hand at the pen, but despair was controlling everything written. I hear you reading this, and I don’t even know who that person is. Just please finish the next three pages, that’s all I ask,” I pleaded.

Jack said nothing, but he turned back to my journal, his eyes empty.

Daddy, I looked at Mom one last time and walked out to Sea. I looked up at the sky and the sun from beneath the waves. Daddy, my despair over-powered my will to survive. The water in my lungs held me to the bottom like an anchor. But then something miraculous happened. An Angel from the sea lifted me out of the water. I know it was an Angel because I’ve never seen such kind eyes before. He came from the water. Did you send him? You must have because he gave me back my heart. When he looked at me, I began to breathe again. I could hear my heart beating once more. His eyes were so kind, and I will never forget his face. He only had to look at me and it was enough to walk out of the water and move up to the beach. His voice sounded like a symphony orchestra when he asked if I was okay.

Mom has taken me back to the same beach every day this week. While I pretend to be picking up shells, or enjoying the water, I’m really searching for him, but he is nowhere to be found. Daddy, if that was you, I will never forget you, and all that you mean to me. Before I make any decision the rest of my life, I will always think of you. I pledge my allegiance to your memory and all that you have taught me in the short time we had been together. I feel that if I continued like I had been I would be swallowed back up. So now I will give you one final farewell.

Daddy, I wish you never had to leave to take care of Grandma and Grandpa. I will always believe in myself, and respect myself just like you taught me. I promise you that I will never stop searching for your Angel. I will sleep very little but dream more. I will fall in love with one man: THE MAN, but if I never find him, I will be all that I can without. I will always say what I feel, and not what I think. You have given me another opportunity to do things differently; but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left, I will spend it writing to you, and saying how much I love you. Daddy, I will never forget you.

To the Mysterious Stranger; to the Angel; to the Kind Eyed Being from the Sea, the world is not so big from the sky above. You found me while I was covered by the waves. I will never stop searching for you. When I am not searching, I will be waiting for you to find me. The rest of this journal I dedicate to you, and all that is written will be of you. When I’m not awake, I will be dreaming of you. The thought of you will possess every corner of my heart, forever. The place where I will go to be with you is found somewhere between sleep and awake…

“Between sleep and awake,” he whispered after reading the last line. Jack laid the open journal on the floor as he covered his mouth with his hand. He let his head fall into his hands.

“Jack, the rest of that journal is full of my thoughts of you,” I said, with a discomfort in my throat, from the heavy emotion.

I reached into another page of my journal and pulled out a folded drawing. I unfolded the drawing, and laid it over top of the words I had written.

“I drew this picture of you, from memory.”

Jack stared at the drawing.

“I have a lot more than just that one,” I told him.

Inside I was trying to tell myself to shut up, but my nerves wouldn’t allow it.

“Maddy. I remember that girl from the water, but I had forgotten until now. I remember leaving the beach that day on the boat we arrived in. That little girl ran down the beach until it ended. I watched her stand there until she faded into the horizon.”

“And I you, Jack Ryder.”

“You look nothing like that little girl I tripped over, and yet I find your face so familiar suddenly. I would never have guessed you were her. If you had never remembered this, it would have been lost.”

“It’s true what they say. Whatever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger. I’m different from her,” I said, pointing at my journal.

“I can see that. Her eyes were not like yours are now. I remember that little girl, and now after reading this, her expression was everything I am reading. Someone who had no life left,” Jack said.

I couldn’t help but cry as he began to recollect the past.

“I don’t know what to say. That incident, I honestly didn’t think much on it. It left my mind. It’s strange to think all that time, you held onto this, like it was your… religion,” he said. “How much in this book is about… me?”

“You see the spiral binding. I had that done because I’ve added pages,” I answered, shrugging my shoulders. “You could think of them as prayers… to you. Whenever I was feeling down, I found sanctuary within these pages. And I have sketch books, a lot of them. The first day I saw you in my driveway, I stood at the window for what seemed like forever, watching. I froze in place, afraid that if I blinked, you would be gone. Then I ran to my room and cried… all day. It was overwhelming. I began to accept that I would never see you again, but then when you appeared, I felt close to my father again. All I could do was cry. I had no idea how to handle it. I literally thought about you every day of my life, and then you appeared in my front yard one morning.”

“Is that why your mother asked how you were feeling, that day she invited me in for tea?” he asked.

“Yes. She knew I was upset about something. I didn’t tell her what, though. She was being obnoxious that morning, anyway. When I came out to ask you for help with my neck-tie, I almost jumped on you. Do you have any idea how hard it was for me not to tell you everything right then?”

“I can imagine,” he replied.

“I was only able to stay reserved because I didn’t want to lose you or scare you off.”

He shrugged his shoulders as he stared at the floor.

“I don’t think you would have scared me away. I found myself wondering why you were staring at me. I saw you on two occasions. Once you were crying. Now it all makes sense. I really have nowhere else to go, anyway,” he mentioned painfully.

“I watched you from inside my house, and I knew you were real. Only this time, you looked like you needed to be saved. Like you do right now. Something else is making you this sad. My heart ached as it does now just watching you. I held onto this memory of you my entire life, and now it’s very hard to see your eyes look different. They are the same as I remember, but there is pain behind them. I know the look that you have all too well, because I had once lived it myself. When you are as pained as I was, your legs feel like lead,” I told him.

Jack looked up from the floor, looking stunned.

“You’re a heart reader, Madalyn Amore,” he said as he glanced at me.

“Well, I feel like I’ve known you half my life. I’d like to think I know your heart. I had merged it with my own… in a sense,” I said in reference to my journal.

Jack said nothing in return, but only held his head low. I felt panic set in, thinking that I had said too much and shared too many things. I was scaring him away, and I would lose him again.

That could not happen.

“Jack, now that you are here, I can’t imagine being without you. I’m just afraid something is going to take you away from me,” I said as I fell on top of him. “I feel stupid for baring my soul like this. I’m stupid. I’m just stupid,” I said in a panic.

He wrapped his arms around me and held me against his broad chest so tightly, it caused me to exhale. He pressed his lips firmly against my temple.

“Where would I go, Madalyn? You’re all I’ve got. And really, being here with you, I don’t think I need anything else,” he lovingly expressed. “I was not really placed here in Beaufort by choice. But if I had to choose any place to be, it would be here, with you. I’m happy things have turned out this way,” he added.

I felt my body melt at his words. My panic washed away in an instant. Everything he said was what I needed to hear. I had found my savior, my idol, the apparition from the sea, the kind eyed angel.

It’s as though he had been reading the thoughts I had recorded for him in my written prayers, and answered them.

I had been a dove, waiting for my companion to return. He returned to me broken, but he returned none-the-less. I was going to mend him.

“What are you thinking now?” he asked.

“Poetry. I hear poetry,” I answered.

“Yes, I hear that sometimes too,” he replied.

I moved my hands slowly up his firm, broad chest. He kept his eyes closed as I firmly held his shoulders. Climbing to my feet, I stood away from him and waited for his eyes to open. His kind, light brown eyes slowly revealed themselves from behind his heavy lids. I moved my dress to the edges of my shoulders, so it fell to the floor. His gaze immediately drifted toward my breasts. Continuing to stare him in the face, I dropped my head back as I pulled my gray cotton, bikini panties off my hips, letting them fall around my feet. I lifted my right foot, pointed my toe, and flung them in his direction. They hit him in the chest, then fell to his lap, causing his jaw to drop. Jack brought himself to his feet as I started to make my approach. He slowly backed away as I reached out to him, placing the tips of my fingers on his chest. He only stared at me, wide-eyed, as I forced him back toward his sliding closet doors.

“You can’t cross the sea, Jack, by staring at the waters,” I whispered.

He fell against the left closet door, and they apparently were not attached well because the right door fell off its track, hitting the floor. We both looked at the door, looked back at each other, and started to laugh.

Jack slowly pushed off the left closet door, and just as he regained his balance, I wrapped my naked body around him. Holding onto his waist with my legs, I pulled the well-fitted tank over his head, revealing his strong naked chest. As I held onto his shirt, I wrapped it around the back of his neck and pulled his face to mine. I felt no reserve, and was overwhelmed with excitement. I licked his bottom lip just before pulling it to my mouth, softly biting it.

Jack slid his hands around my hips, holding me at the space between my hips and the top of my thighs. I flexed and slid my thighs at his waist, causing his light blue shorts to slide off his hips. I immediately felt him brush between my thighs. I let loose my grip and slid down on top of him. This caused me to let go of his shirt, and claw at his strong back. I laid my head on his shoulder, breathing heavily into his neck. This physical position held a lot meaning. It bonded us, making him mine.

“It’s because of you, Jack, that I exist,” I whispered into the space between his neck and shoulder, getting caught up in the moment.

I couldn’t help but let out small whimpers after each shaky exhale. I stayed wrapped around Jack, motionless, taking in the feeling before proceeding further.

Jack caused me to gasp as he moved us across the room, placing me against the wall, next to my photos. I clung to his body with my legs, my back pressed against the wall, suspended by him, on him, around him. I saw the light switch from the corner of my eye and started to reach for it, but he pinned my hand against the wall as his lips touched the space between my collar-bone and neck. A tremor rattled through my entire body.

“I want to see you,” he whispered as he pulled the switch down half way, dimming the lights. My eyes opened and found his beautiful face. I pushed off the wall with my back, forcing him to fall back onto his bed.

“This is how I want it,” I expressed, looking down at him from the position I claimed.

He grasped my waist, pushing himself further in. I slapped my hand against my mouth to keep from shouting. My hand, however, could not contain my heavy breathes that carried volume. Jack rubbed his hand between my legs, causing what I was feeling to intensify, as I slowly rocked and glided my hips. What I was feeling was getting stronger. My head, naturally, uncontrollably, fell backward as I felt an explosion throughout my entire body that carried down to my toes. I immediately lifted myself off him, in the way of responsibility because there was no protection used. My legs crossed, and my body shuddered as the electricity traveled from my thighs and beyond. Jack’s breathing was heavy, and I noticed I had fulfilled him. I felt my eyes water, and there were uncontrolled tears as I fought to steady my breathing and my heart rate. My Jack looked at me, placing his hand on my face, kissing me with reckless enthusiasm. He pulled away, tracing my tears with his fingers.

“Are you okay, Maddy? Did I hurt you?” he sincerely inquired.

I could only laugh, and partly cry as I answered. Actually I didn’t know what it was. Never had I felt such satisfaction.

“Not in the least did you hurt me,” I answered, and then naturally grabbed hold of my breasts. “On the contrary, I am yours to take.” I closed my eyes, raising my arms over my head. “Take me again, Jack. That ecstasy was pacifying. Hurry, before I am put sleep.” He seemed to understand my request, as he slid his lips from my neck and to all the spaces between. The night was still young, and there were many new things to discover.

#

I slowly awoke, for no apparent reason, and saw the blue digital clock next to the Canon cameras in Jack’s room. It said twelve forty-three in the morning. I looked at Jack and saw him fast asleep. I slid off the edge of the mattress and looked in the light of the moon for my clothes. I only located my dress, and I did not want to put that on. I stepped quietly out of his room, walking through the kitchen and into the living room. I grabbed my beach bag and went into the bathroom on the other end of the apartment. I pulled my phone out of my bag, noticing right away that I had four missed calls from my mother. I quickly hit the return call button and waited. It rang only once before she picked up.

“Maddy!” she said.

“Yes, Mom. Sorry, I’m over at Jack’s. I was going to call you, but I fell asleep,” I told her.

“You fell asleep? Like, fell asleep how? You know what, it doesn’t matter. As long as you are safe, and are being safe. Maddy, why don’t you answer when I call? Why don’t you just call me really quick and tell me where you are at? I’ve been worried sick. Jack is a nice guy, okay. He is a nice guy, but I know nothing about him,” she said, without letting me get a word in.

I waited for her to continue her rant. “Okay. Now that you are done, I will say I am calling you now. The only reason I did not call you previously is because I had been surfing all day, and am really tired. I’m at his apartment, everything is fine. I’m sorry I had you worried,” I said slowly, drawing out my defense, making sure she heard me.

“Alright, Maddy. I’m your Mother; I have a right to be worried. Is he bringing you home, and when are you getting your car back?” she questioned.

“Tomorrow is Saturday, or today is Saturday actually,” I said, realizing what time it was. “He will bring me home in the morning I suppose. I’m not sure. We may just end up spending the day together.”

I heard her give out a sigh of annoyance on the other end.

“Well, when do I get the formality of meeting him again as your boyfriend, or whatever you two are now? You could be married for all I know,” she said, overreacting.

“How did you know? He proposed on the beach tonight in a tuxedo, and I said yes. It was all so cliché. We got married right there on the spot, and my bridesmaids were all dolphins,” I said sarcastically.

“Very funny. Madalyn, I do not need your attitude. Neither you, nor I, hardly know this man, and I get the feeling you are not being very safe. You could get hurt, Maddy,” she said, in that paranoid parental tone.

I sat on the edge of the bathtub listening to her, rolling my eyes.

“Mom, you need to calm down. I know more about him than you think,” I started to say when I heard a knock on the bathroom door.

“Yes?” I responded, a bit startled.

“Hey, Maddy, tell your mom we can have dinner tomorrow night. The three of us. If she doesn’t want to cook, I can pick us up something. Tell her I’m sorry if she was worried because it was late and you weren’t home. And I didn’t mean to eavesdrop. I woke up to get something to drink,” Jack said, causing me to smile. He was being very thoughtful.

“Mom, did you hear that? It was Jack,” I said to her.

“Yes, I heard him. Tell him that will be perfect and that I’m looking forward to it,” she responded.

I laughed at her and at how much she pretended to play the part of responsible parent, when really she just wanted to be included. In a way I felt bad because I knew that she was lonely and bored without me home.

“Okay, see? Nothing to worry about. And by the way, no way in hell are you cooking tomorrow,” I said.

“Deal. You can cook, and I won’t have to do anything,” she replied, and then paused for a brief moment. “So, how did it go tonight?” she asked as nonchalantly as possible.

“No way, not going there. Just know that it has been one of the best nights of my life,” I declared.

“Okay. Not what I was implying by any means, Madalyn. But thanks for the info, and too much info at that. What I wanted to know was if you told him the truth?” she questioned.

I paused for a moment and meditated on the past few hours. I had told Jack everything, and I had shown him everything. I was still here, and everything about the day was perfect.

“Yes, Mom. He knows everything. At first I tried to tell him but couldn’t, so I let him read my journal,” I told her. I could almost see my mother looking enthusiastic as I spoke.

“Wow. When you think about all of it, Maddy… you have come full circle.” she said.

“We’ll talk more about it later. Love you, Mom. Good night,” I said, and hung up after she said her good night in return.

I reached into the bathtub and turned the shower on. I walked over to the bathroom door and opened it. I called out to Jack that I was taking a shower, in hopes that he would join me. I stepped into the warm water, and not thirty seconds later, the shower curtain opened. I smiled as I reached for him, pulling him under the warm water. I rested my arms on his shoulders as he dipped his dark brown, medium-length hair into the water. I looked at his skin tone against mine. He was dark brown, but golden. I was olive-skinned. Our complexions looked beautiful side by side. We stood under the water for a long while, taking in the warmth, feeling our bodies touch. I lightly kissed where his neck met with his shoulder. It was as though I had known him my whole life, but we had been separated by an invisible wall, and I was only just now able to become physically acquainted.

“I feel like you have been hallucinated,” I muttered, with my cheek pressed against his shoulder.

“What do you mean?” Jack rightly questioned.

“Every time you glance at me, kiss me, touch me. I can’t help but stare at you, second guessing what I am looking at or what I am feeling. Is this real, I ask myself. It feels like a dream. I would have never thought I would be here with you. I’m sorry if it scared you when I cried earlier, but I was overwhelmed that we were having sex. I had to keep telling myself that this was real,” I explained.

“I understand what you feel, Maddy. It makes sense to me, and I can imagine it,” he reassured me, lifting my head up. His light brown eyes were drowning me. I felt myself blush, and I had to glance away from him for a moment. He tilted his head back and forth slowly, observing my eyes from every angle. He was saying something without opening his mouth. Jack always appeared so serious, and anyone who may not know him would probably call him grumpy. I could read him though, and what his eyes were telling me.

“I’ve loved you forever, Jack,” I couldn’t help whispering. The expression on his face didn’t change, and he continued to hold my gaze. “I’ll continue to love you forever.”

Jack replied to me by pulling my lips to his. His kiss told me this was real. Everything happening was real. All I was feeling, all the pleasure and security I was experiencing, all this gratification, how tightly he held onto me, refusing to let go was real. I was not in any space between, afraid to wake up. When I had been fulfilled, I could open my eyes and find him still with me. Jack did this to me, and it was real.

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