Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 23


I rush into the hotel suite carrying my new clothes. Jack’s working at a table by the huge windows looking out onto the city.

He removes his glasses, “Come here, what did you get?” He opens his arms for me.

“I don’t have time to talk because I need to get showered and get dressed.”

“Come here and kiss me. We don’t have to be there for an hour, sweetheart. Tell me about what’s in the bags you have with you.”

He slides his chair back, and I sit down on his lap. “I bought a dress, a pair of shoes and two tops. Tomorrow, I’m stopping back to look at skirts; I didn’t have time today.” I wiggle myself in his lap because I can feel him getting hard through his jeans. I smile and shake my head, “I don’t know what to think about you, Jackson Phillips.” My goodness, his sex drive, our chemistry, his smell, his power, his everything.

“Oh, I think you do, Annie August.” He kisses me. I could let myself be swept away and carried to the bedroom, but I don’t have time. First impressions say a lot about a person, and I don’t want to be rushed. Mama would say, slow this down and keep him interested. Laura would tell me to suck up everything I could but do it with morals and class. I sigh happily into his kiss.

He pulls back and looks over my face. “So, you had fun today?” His voice is soft.

“Yes, but I’m about to have so much more fun.” I nip his earlobe and whisper, “Shower with me, Jackson.”

He growls, picks me up, and kisses me all the way to the bathroom.


“I’m shocked as shit you’re here, I’m happy you came, man. I miss you. It’s going to be nice working together again.” Eli holds his hand up. “I know, I know, you are not planning to work out of the New York office. Are you sure you don’t want to reconsider?” Eli asks, already knowing my answer.

I raise my eyebrows. “No, I trust you to make everyone happy. I’m honored to have this opportunity with you and the team for Silvia. It hasn’t been, too, fucking awful, working with all of you again,” I say like a smart ass, but I don’t mean it. I’ve known Eli for over twenty-five years since we were both ambitious twenty-somethings. We’ve been through a lot of shit together, career-wise and personal. It will be good to work with him again.

I watch Annie and Hannah coming inside from the rooftop patio. She couldn’t wait to see the view. She’s all smiles, good; she loved it. Her new dress is killing me. I’ve only seen her in jeans or the black dress pants she wears at The Stardust. The dress she bought is sweet and sexy, just like her. It’s a dark blue color, and it makes her eyes pop, and the dark color highlights her creamy complexion. The dress suits her to a tee. It’s a fitted sexy bodice with a sweet, flirty, fuller skirt. And her shoes, Goddamn, her legs look sexy in her high heeled shoes. I can’t believe I let her talk me into leaving the hotel room once I saw her dressed tonight.

“I can see Ohio is treating you well. I’ve seen more smiles grace your ugly mug in the last half hour since you’ve arrived tonight, than the last few years you lived and worked here combined. I hope that doesn’t change when you see who has just arrived at the party.”

I look at the entrance to see MaryBeth and Mick walk in. I roll my eyes, “I assumed they wouldn’t miss a party like this. Especially now, that it looks like we are all, once again, together and on board with Silvia. I doubt they miss any parties that can make them feel and look relevant and elite in this fucked up New York lifestyle, no offense.”

He laughs off my dig, “None taken.”

I watch Hannah stop to greet Marybeth and Mick, and she introduces Annie to Marybeth and points over to Eli and me. Annie smiles from across the room when she sees me. My heart warms every fucking time she smiles at me.

“How long are you staying?” Eli asks. He knows I’m getting Annie and will leave as quickly as I possibly can.

“I need to say hello to Linx, Taylor, and make good with my new secretary Lori, then we’re leaving.”

“Fine, I’m just glad you came tonight, means a lot. Go get your girl and say hello to everyone. I’ll see you next week at the office.”


I walk back into the party, down from the rooftop patio. I’m in a three-story penthouse apartment with a massive garden and pool on the rooftop. I can’t believe I could see all of Central Park and a beautiful skyline of the city. It’s unbelievable, and it’s beyond my imagination. Eli and Hannah are raising their two teenage sons here, in a penthouse in Central Park South. I can’t even envision it.

Eli and Jack worked and rose to fame with The Spalding Building, but Hannah told me about her career. About how she caught an error that was overlooked at her law firm and saved their client millions. It put her on the fast track to success in her own right, her words not mine.

I smile to the woman who takes Hannah’s hand and spins her around. “I can’t believe it’s been months since I’ve seen you last. You look great. The boys doing well?” The woman looks her up and down and her lips press into a tight smile.

“They’re great, thanks for asking. I’m going to return Annie to Jack and Eli, and I’ll be back to catch up.” I smile and acknowledge her friend. She raises her eyebrows and looks me up and down. I make sure I stand straight and proud like I’ve always been taught. I nod politely, “Hi.”

“Hi. Uh, thanks, Hannah, take your time. Everything looks lovely,” she says approvingly and walks away, chasing after the man she walked into the party with, trying to catch up with him. Jack and I make eye contact. I watch him make his way towards me through the twenty or so people inside. Hannah puts her hand gently on my back, to sidestep a server, and we meet the guys halfway by the setup bar.

I’ve already drained their signature drink tonight, Silvia. It was tart, with a major kick of a brand of vodka that I’d never heard. It was mixed with a shaker full of ice and garnished with a slice of an exotic grapefruit I’d never heard of either. I have to admit the drink had a kick; I’m feeling its effects.

I’m happy and relieved to be back beside Jack. He puts his arm around me and hugs me tightly to his side.

I smile up at him. “Incredible, mind-blowing, beautiful, life-altering view.” I don’t care about being in a room full of strangers. I wrap my arms around his middle and snuggle myself closer into his side.

I watch his eyes soften, and my whole body relaxes. He surprises me. “Life-altering?” he asks me before he throws his head back and laughs out loud.

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