Marigolds for Anna

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Anna Richmond just broke up with rich-boy Xavier Quintin, but he is determined to have her as his prize. While Anna just wants to begin focusing on her Christian faith and work, he continues to harasser her. When Anna attends her ten year High School Reunion in Kateville, Alabama, Anna is confronted by several memories, including one she thought she would never see again. James Malcolm, a man she thought years ago she would live a happy life with is back. Now a US Marine, he has left his old unit and taken the recruitment office in Princeton, Georgia, the same town Anna lives and works. What will become of their second chance? What will Xavier do when he finds out? How far will he go to earn the prize he desires and who lurks behind the man in the shadows. Will her Christian faith help her in her time of need?

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You don’t always realize you make a mistake until after it has happened, sometimes it takes moments and other times, it takes years. But you are sure to realize, at some point, that mistake was made and you have to live with those choices from this point on. I don’t know when I realized my mistake was made, but I do know that once I really saw it, I ran and didn’t look back.

The man was dark-haired, his eyes a handsome shade of green and he had me at ‘hello.’ I was smitten with the dashing gentleman. He had found me while I was still attending college. I hadn’t dated much since High School, my life all but focused on the task of getting my Law Degree. I had a long way to become a lawyer, but a Paralegal was on my current shortlist. I had been enjoying my lunch at a local establishment and asked to join me.

“I’m Xavier Quintin." He really looked at me when we talked, his eyes sparkled when he looked at me and I was truly engulfed by him. But, even happiness can’t last forever, right? I noticed something the first time I invited him to church, pure disbelief that I attended something like that. He still treated me nice, but it was like he looked down at me.

“No, I don’t attend church...” Those were the first things he would say at the beginning before it became different. “I want you to come with me this Sunday.” The first time I thought would be a one-time deal, but the second time... And the third... I couldn’t remember the last time I went to church, but I felt my heartache for those I saw on Sunday. He enjoyed it though, he loved spending time with me. He fawned over me, treated me tonight dinners, rubbed my shoulders and feet when I studied.

My family liked him... Well, my mother did anyway. He was charming towards her, taking care to always compliment her and he was always respectful to my dad. I don’t know when the change happened completely, but one day I saw the distance in his eyes. He was more touchy but didn’t connect. He would rush our dates to get home and he seemed hopefully I would invite him into my home... I had too much respect for my friend’s house to bring in a man.

Years I committed to him, finally moved into his house, the promise of the next steps forward in our relationship at the front of my mind. It was during that awful week that I realized how stupid I was. He was distant, only until near bedtime, when he would kiss and cuddle into me. Always trying to convince me to come to his bed. I couldn’t do it, not unless I knew we were gonna be husband and wife. To be honest, I wanted to leave that for our wedding day. Why couldn’t he understand that?

He would spend his days on his phone, laughing at the text message and after refusal, he would go out... I should have known... I was nothing to him and then... I confronted him.

“Where are you going every night?” I asked as he walked into the door. I had my blonde hair braided down my shoulder, my blue eyes glared at him from my bedroom door, which happened to be by the front door.

“What are you talking about?”

“Every night this week, I go to bed and you leave for two or three hours... So, where are you going?” I asked him again, his eyes looking at me as I glared back.

“What did you expect? I’m not getting anything from you... So, I had to go and help myself...” My eyes must have bulged from my head as I looked at him. My heart seemed to have stopped and I just turned and walked away, slamming the door before I locked it. “Oh come on! We have been together for years and I haven’t even seen you naked! And you think I was going to marry you?” I felt my heart being pulled from my chest... I could hear the slight slur in his voice... He had been drinking, his tongue was loose, he was letting it all be heard.

I packed the night, watched by my sweet Australian Shepherd who laid at the foot of the bed. She didn’t make a move or a sound as I put the few things I had brought with me. Everyone had told me it was a bad idea to move. Maybe I had subconsciously listened to them since I only brought the bare minimum with me. By dawn, my bag was packed, a body held all my loose items and my blankets folded and ready to leave.

“What? Gonna throw this all away? You know, maybe you should stop being so stubborn and give me what is due to me... Then, we can continue with our life, happy...” I ignored him, walking my stuff out to my truck and placed it all in. Whistling to the dog, she bounded after me and I patted her.

“Stay nearby...” With that, I headed back in, getting the last of my things from the kitchen. The dog bowls, the dog food, and the wine I had bought with my own money. I wasn’t leaving anything in this house and as I turned, I glared at him as he stood in my way. “I’m not throwing anything away... I’m coming to my senses... You never cared for me or anything except yourself and what you wanted. So, I am leaving... Go find yourself a new girl.” I told him, pushing past him, only to be grabbed by his hand sharply.

“You are nothing without me... You will come crawling back to me...” Pulling myself away harshly, I glared back at him.

“I am exactly who I need to be... Without you!” I walked away and out the door. Whistling, I opened the door to let the dog jump in and tossed her stuff in after her, careful not to toss the wine. I didn’t want to hurt her or the bottle, for that matter. I drove around for a few hours, stopping at the local dog park to let the blue merle Australian Shepherd run and allow me to think.

I heard the sound of tires on the gravel parking lot, pulling me from my thoughts. My head turning to see the grey sedan stopping, a smile coming to my face as I saw the brown-haired lady get out, her sunglasses beaming from the sunlight. The german shepherd in her back seat was trying to get out and quickly ran into the park once he was out and in the fenced-in area.

“Are you okay, hon?” I smiled at the girl as she came up and sat beside me. “I’m sorry, Anna...”

“I should have listened to you, Mr. Price, and everyone else who warned me... I’m was so foolish,” I said, letting her wrap me in a hug as I let myself finally cry at the fact that my happy relationship was gone because I found out the truth. He had never loved me... I was his challenge and he wanted me, but because I was different than the other girls he had managed to get into his bed, he wanted me more apparently... Enough to fool me into loving him.

“I’m so sorry... I wish I had been wrong...” She said as she squeezed me tight and sat back, watching the dogs play in the grassy fields, laughing and smiling as we talked about the last week. I chose to not even mention the whole week with Xavier, just found her life interesting.

“Wait... So Pete gave you a promise ring?” She giggled, her cheeks red from the blush that she couldn’t contain from me.

“Yes... I know, it is so... High school, but he knew that if we were engaged, everyone would be wanting to plan the wedding and we want us to finish school,” She said, her fingers fiddling with the leash she was holding as she watched the two dogs rumble on the ground. “But, he thought that it would be good until after we graduated and I think it is pretty.”

“It is very pretty, Becca, and so simple,” I said, admiring the cute little ring. I was happy for her and she was beaming with her joy. These two were set for life... I had grown up with Becca, she had gone to school with me. After high school, she had no idea what she wanted in life, but when her grandparents were killed in a car accident, she was surprised to find out that they had left their whole estate to her... The house, their car, and all their money... Becca also found out part of the money was strictly for her education... I was so happy for Becca, she was going to school to be a nurse and she was hoping to be a travel nurse, with her main office here in Princeton, GA.

“You know, you will find your perfect match,” I looked at her with some doubt and then back at the dogs. I didn’t feel like I would ever find my match, but I did have some hope. I thought I had found it in high school, but that had ended quickly and I still felt pain after it. “I heard there was going to be a reunion soon.”

“Oh, yeah... I think I saw an email a few months ago about it,” Becca was only a year younger than me, but she had been involved with my class for everything.

“Are you gonna try and go? Itn’t suppose to be in like... May?” I shrugged, as I hadn’t read the e-mail when it was sent, so I wasn’t sure. “He might be there.” I glared at her for a moment and then looked back out at the dogs.

“Another reason I don’t want to go...”

“Oh, come on, you guys were perfect together...”

“Yeah, so perfect he broke up with me and I haven’t seen or heard from him... So, no thank you,” I said, getting up and crossing my arms in annoyance. Here I was out of the relationship and she was trying to get me into another one or back into another one... One that had ended... One that broke my heart worst than this... I still felt the pain and it ached in my heart like a distant scar.

“Alright, I’m sorry... Want to head back to the house and get your stuff back in? I didn’t take anything out of your room... I hoped you come home,” I smiled at her brightly and nodded. With a sharp whistle, both dogs returned to us and we clipped on their leashes and headed off towards the parking lot. Once the dogs were loaded up, I drove behind her and smiled when we pulled into the driveway. It was nice to be home and as I walked in, I found the peace I had been missing since I went to his house.

“So, can I take over the second desk in your office again?” I asked, pulling my computer from my box of stuff and holding it to my chest. Becca opened the backdoor to let the dogs out.

“Promise, Jack, come on you two... Absolutely you can! I haven’t taken anything off the desk,” she said, closing the door as the two dogs slipped past her and opening the curtains so we could see out into the large yard. My sweet Promise went straight to her favorite tree, laying down in the green grass and rolling out on her back, stretching her legs out while Jack sniffed her nose and tried to get her to play. “She looks happy.” I nodded as I watched her.

“He didn’t like her being outside... He didn’t want her ruining his lawn... So, she stayed in the bedroom with me and I took her walking through the woods,” I said, leaning against the doorpost before I pulled myself back into my happy bliss and headed towards the office without another word. As I opened the door, I found all my paperwork placed nicely where it needed to be and I went to work straightening the desk a little to get all situated.

I was about to get started when my phone went off and I looked at a text.

‘New Text - George Price’ I nearly jumped when I realize I hadn’t called him. I had sent a text late the night prior and told him I would not be in due to personal reasons. The man never asked me any questions, just always told me to let him know. I didn’t even read the text message, just called him straight away.

“Mr. Price, I am so sorry... I forgot to call you.”

“It’s fine, sweetheart... So, is everything okay?” I let out a sigh and let my hand rest on my forehead as I leaned on the desk.

“No sir... I ended it with Xavier... I should have listened to you, Mr. Price.”

“Oh, sweetheart... I am so sorry... Look, it is Thursday, we don’t have court until next week... Misty can take care of Thursday and Friday. You come on Monday... Do you have any files here you want me to bring to you?”

“Yes sir... Just the three that should be in my basket on the corner... It is for Court next week and I’d like to get everything organized in a document so we can get to it easier,” I said, opening up my computer and logging into the system. After a few more minutes of talking to him about the whole thing, I felt better and I let out a content sigh when I hung up.

I didn’t even realize what time it was when I heard a knock on the door and turned the chair towards the door, a pencil in my teeth as I looked at Becca. She was smiling brightly and I saw she had been cooking... Dinner? I glanced at the clock and nearly froze... I had skipped lunch completely and my stomach grumbled in protest.

“I tried to tell you lunch was ready, but you were on the phone with someone...” I rubbed my fingers over my eyes. A client I had to make contact with had spent three hours on the phone trying to make excuse after excuse. Standing up, I felt my muscles tighten and relax once they were stretched.

“I’m sorry... I got rather caught up in my work.”

“Don’t worry about it!” She said, coming in and taking my arm in her own, pulling me out of the office and towards the kitchen. “I got us some pasta, wine, and a good movie to watch for the night.” I smiled at her and we giggled as we marched down the hallway into the kitchen. Jack and Promise had found their place in the corner of the living room, both snoozing. Becca and I got comfortable on the couch and just watched our movie, laughing and giggling at different places or at the conversations we had.

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