Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 14


I thought that maybe Jack was in to me. Three weeks of talking every day to him and us sharing a little bit about each other and flirting, I was hopefully wishing he was interested. I really like him. He is a softie inside as Sophie said. I was hoping he felt our chemistry. I know I feel it; my stomach summersaults every time I see him. But he seems to have pulled back or wasn’t interested in the first place.

After not seeing him once this once week, I get the message. He must know I’m attracted to him, and he doesn’t want me to misunderstand and think we’re more than employee and employer. He’s not interested in me that way. I’d guess I’m not his type. I’m not college-educated. I’ve never had a career outside of taking care of Laura and Jenny, that’s been my whole life. God, I need to quit daydreaming about Jack and get real. Derek’s right, I need to get a life. I have a positive savings account for the first time in twenty years. It may only be seven thousand dollars, but I have something in case I need it, and I’m adding money to it every week. I have zero bills outside of my efficiency apartment rent, utilities, and Netflix. I also pay for a thirty-minute phone card monthly for my handed down track phone. I have zero credit card bills, and no medical bills, no charging and saving for medical supplies. I no longer have to spend hours on the phone trying for reimbursement to only receive a portion of it. I’ve sold everything of Laura’s and mine. I donated all of Jenny’s medical equipment. The bed, wheelchairs, benches, rehab tools, even the handicapped van that Brian’s sheriff’s station gifted us after having a fundraiser for Jenny.

I’ve settled every debt. Some medical debt that I genuinely don’t believe was owed for Jenny and Laura’s care. I send up a prayer. Please don’t let me get injured or sick. Laura left everything to me to pay off all debts and to set up saving bonds for Sarah Jane. I feel sad when I let myself think about Laura not meeting her two new granddaughters. She’d been mad as hell at Brian, her only son. She knew he’d never get it after he cheated on Leslie. But Laura would have opened her arms wide and loved his two new babies with everything she had in her.

My phone rings, waking me out of my thoughts. It’s Karen from work. “Hello?”

“I know you are supposed to be off, but two girls went home sick. I think the flu has hit Ohio. Can you come in?”

“Yep, I’m leaving now.”

“Please tell me you got a flu shot this year?”

I chuckle. “I’ve never, ever missed a year, Karen. I’ll see you shortly.”

“Did you really give Kyle your phone number? He’s a loser, Annie. He’s tried to get Becky’s number for months. You can do so much better than that, babe.”

I flutter my eyelashes at Jerry, my favorite bartender here. “I’m meeting him for drinks here tomorrow night. The schedule is full, and so far, no-one needs or wants the night off. I also gave him the address and the name of my aunt and uncle’s paint shop. He’s renovating his house right now. But thank you for your concern,” I say sweetly, smile, and raise a brow. I try to be kind to everyone. Nice people get thought of as dumb suckers, and it’s the mistake Jerry’s making about me. I’m anything but stupid, trusting, or a pushover. Brian, my ex-husband, was a cop for Pete’s sake. I’m not naive.

“Babe, do you really think he’s renovating?” Jerry asks with a cocky smile on his face. He’s nice-looking, and if I would have met him any place other than at a job I love, I may have accepted a date, though probably only one or two. His cute, cocky smile doesn’t hide the fact that he thinks he knows better about people and life. He thinks he knows everything better than me because he’s a big, strong man.

I roll my eyes at him. “Jerry, do you think I’m just going to hang here on a Friday night, not prepared to fill in for somebody at work? It’s going to be in the sixties this weekend. Someone may want to do something, anything fun, and want a night off. Kyle’s a nice guy. He not for me, but he’s nice and going through hard times. It is not for me to judge him. It’s not a date, worst-case scenario, I have a drink or two, grab the bus home, and watch a movie.” I ignore it when he snorts as though he still thinks I’m dumb.

“I’m going to cash out and get home. I’ll see you tomorrow, Jerry.”

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