Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 10


I don’t know why I keep sharing stories about my house with Annie August. I’ve shared with her almost every little secret about the house. Apart from the four of us, my family, no one else knows. Hell, Sophie doesn’t know the half of them yet.

When Annie stripped the wallpaper in Ben’s bathroom, I showed her the hidden floorboards for Ben’s private items and told her about our deal. If something ever happened to one of us, we were the only two who knew about it, to clean it out. My parents didn’t know, or if they did, they let us have our privacy and never said anything about it. I had to explain “porn deal,” the saying to Annie. She laughed and said she’s heard it once and referenced in a TV show. I admitted I have never looked in there even to this day.

I found myself joking about how all I ever kept in mine was weed and porn. I can’t deny that I loved to see the curiosity on Annie’s face about every little detail I share with her. She questions me to understand and grasp the meaning and feeling behind my designs, and I find myself giving her way more than I should.

I learned she grew up in downtown Memphis. She lived over a breakfast diner. Her mom managed the restaurant, and the owners were people she considers family.

If Eli hadn’t called and interrupted us yesterday, I would have talked to her the whole day while she stripped the eighties wallpaper my mother insisted on having all over the house. I hate the wallpaper almost as much as I hate conversations with people. How Annie gets me talking and sharing is anybody’s guess. I know she intrigues me. Annie listens to learn about you; she doesn’t listen only to think up a comeback with a similar story or try to one-up what you’re speaking about. She’s curious, and every thought she has can be read in her expressions in her big blue eyes. She’s trying to figure me out, and I’m letting her as I try to figure out her. I bask in her lightness, and it doesn’t aggravate or agitate me in the least. It’s because Annie’s kind heart and natural beauty are real, not pretend bullshit to gain something or to put on a pretend good front. She is who she is, and it’s wonderfully refreshing.

Shit, I still need to call Eli back today and get with him on some final decisions. I don’t have time to think about sweet Annie anymore today.

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