Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 13

Jack

I find myself, once again, anxious to see Annie. After coming to terms with the situation I find myself in, the obsessing over a woman and how it is screwing up my thought process, I’ve established a new routine in the last two weeks. I stop by the house three times a week, for a quick check-in, which now includes Derek then I head back into the city to work. I’ve stopped the working from the house. I’ve put up some walls and space, so I don’t cause the incredibly strong woman any more heartache. I’m a loner, and I’m satisfied being that way. I think way too much about her, and I find myself wanting all my questions answered and figured out when it comes to her. She’s tough, a strong woman, who has endured more than most. She’s entirely too soft for me, and now is not the right time for me to be having thoughts about a woman. I’m going to leave it at that. I’ll continue stopping by to see her sweet smile and enjoy nights like tonight when I get a chance to see her. I’ll admire her from afar. It’s certainly better for her if it stays this way.

I walk inside The Stardust, and she’s the first thing I see. She’s talking to a man who I’ve seen in here before. She looks up, and her eyes light up. She excuses herself to come over and greet me. I watch the sway of her small, petite, soft, inviting body walk over to me. It drives me crazy when she wears her hair piled up on top of her head with her new long wisp of bangs framing her face. It makes her looks sweet, innocent, but sexy as hell.

“Hey, it’s your monthly bro night here at The Stardust, right?” she asks and graces me with a genuine, sweet smile.

I block the spell that Annie August puts over me. “Yeah, it is. I take it I’m the first one here?” I clear my throat. Goddamn, I sound gruff as fuck.

She looks over my shoulder and points, “You were.” The sweet sound of her giggle tempts me to smile too.

Ben slaps me on the back. “I’m starving. Hi Annie, I hear the house is moving along great. Having any trouble with the antisocial?” He smacks me on the back again.

She giggles and pats me on my arm softly. “No problems at all. After getting to know him, I agree with Sophie, he’s a grouchy teddy bear. Have a seat over by the window. Want me to send two Guinness’s over?

“That’d be great, Annie.” Ben winks at her and walks toward the table.

Annie hesitates, “I just started my shift, so I’ll see you later. Will I see you at the house tomorrow morning?” she asks me.

Christ, I need to walk away from her. Her big blue eyes, creamy skin, cute pointy chin, soft-looking lips, fuck. “Uh, no, probably not. I won’t be there for the rest of the week. You have my cell and my work numbers if you guys have any questions?” I didn’t mean for it to come out as stern as I said it, this woman throws me off-kilter.

She smiles, holding in a giggle, and I know it’s because I’m frowning. When she tries to hide her smiles, I know it’s because of the expression on my face. I usually don’t give a shit about chit-chatting with people, and I’ve never hidden the fact that I don’t like to interact with most people I come across. Of course, Annie is the exception. I try to smile, I know it’s awkward as fuck because I’m trying to make up for my tone and to let her know, I know she’s giggling at me.

“Okay, have a nice week and weekend. I’ll have Becky send over your beers; it’s her table.” I hear the laughter in her voice, I nod. I can’t fuck up a nod and have it come across as a dick. At least, fuck, I hope I can’t anyway.

I don’t watch her walk away. I walk to the table and see Ben shaking his head at me. “Why are you shaking your head, asshole?” I sit across from him in the corner table by the window.

“You’re lusting for Annie. It’s written all over your face; it’s almost painful to witness.”

I roll my eyes, “I have no idea what you’re talking about; we were speaking about the house.” I ignore him.

“If you say so, man.” He chuckles.

“I do. Now tell me what makes Sophie’s friend’s mom so unforgettable.” I turn the tables on him. She is a tall, attractive blonde, Ben’s type. Dammit, Stephen walks over to the table. Fucking Stephen, he always did have shit damn timing.

I have no self-control, I watch Annie talk to a man, in a cheap-ass suit and an alcoholic flush on his face, at the bar. Also, the male bartender has flirted with her all night. The cheap suit is a regular, and the bartender badly wants in her pants. She smiles every time she catches me looking over at her. I shake my head. She is too nice. That is the thing about her, she’s had a hard life, with unbelievably sad losses, but it doesn’t show in her attitude, on her face or appearance. You would never guess what she’s been through by looking and listening to her speak. She’s not looking for attention, she’s not flashy, worn out, or beat down by her troubles. She’s real, genuine, fucking sweet, and beautiful. She stands out because she has a one of a kind soul that shines through her big blue eyes. Annie is precisely who she presents herself to be beautiful, kind, honest, and genuine. She’s not out looking for an advantage to maneuver herself to receive what she wants. She’s happy and grateful for whatever she has and who she is as a person.

Christ, if I see the bartender or the drunk sitting at the bar touch Annie one more time when they talk to her, I’m going to lose my shit. They stare at her ass and follow her with their eyes, back and forth from the bar to the dining area. I’ve watched her to, to see if she’s aware that they both want to fuck her and if she knows they are staring at her ass. She doesn’t seem to pay any extra attention to them. She treats them kindly and professionally just like she treats everyone else around her, with a smile, and I’m sure a kind encouraging word. I shake my head and swallow my drink.

“Ben’s right, you do have the hots for the new waitress. Is she still painting out at the house? She’s pretty. She doesn’t appear to be your usual type. Ben said she’s too fucking nice for you. Not your type at all, man. Unless, of course, something happened since the last time we spoke, and you’ve discovered she’s another ballbusting, power-hungry, backstabbing bitch?” Stephen says, and Ben chokes on his beer and laughs.

They think it’s funny, Stephen using my exact words to describe Marybeth back to me. I need to shake myself out from underneath this spell. Maybe I need to get laid. I need to forget about Annie. I need to change the subject, and get their opinions and comments on New York. “They’re going to choose my design for the Silvia. Things got real this week.” One last glance to check out where Annie is, then I’m concentrating on work.

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