Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 43


I’ve been a selfish fucker, an asshole, to a lot of people because I can’t stand bullshit. I always put my wants, dreams, and desires ahead of others’ feelings. I’m about to do it again, and for the first time, it will cost me something I love and don’t want to be without it. Two years is a blink of an eye in my overall life. It’s not long, but any time away from daily life with Annie, shouldn’t be missed because it’s a joy I never wanted or saw coming until it hit me square in the face.

When I’m with her, my negative views melt away; it’s because she’s real and genuine. She sees life, not to leave her mark in bold letters, though she does, she touches every person she gives her time too. She’s smart, intelligent, caring, loving, witty, and hard-working to a fault. A beautiful, sexy, sensual woman who is a survivor and who finds happiness in things most people take for granted.

She’s crazy if she thinks I’m giving up on what we’ve found in one another. Her bullshit zombie act is over, starting now. We’ve wasted days with this bullshit, and I’m not taking it anymore.

I stop her as soon as she comes up from the bakery. I scowl when I see how puffy her face is this morning. She ignores me like she’s been doing since we’ve been back in the apartment.

“Morning.” She says and tries to pass me at the dining table.

“Morning. How’s the bakery business?” My tone doesn’t hide the fact that I’m pissed off. She stills and meets my scowl with one of her own.

“You want to have this conversation now when I’m tired from being up since three in the morning?” Her tone is smart-assed.

“I was awake when you got out of our bed. I know what time you left. Yeah, Annie, I want, no fucking need, to have this conversation now because whenever you are home, you are always tired.”

“Okay fine, this is what I want and need from you, Jackson Phillips. I would like to keep living in this apartment and only work downstairs at the bakery and occasionally help at the paint store. Most importantly, I need to get in a better place emotionally right now before I make any future decisions about us. After this incident, it’s made me realized I need to go to therapy and do some work on myself, maybe talk things over, about my losses, and how I’ve dealt with them. I need more time to be fully healed and healthy, and I would like to stay here to do it.”

My heart pounds in my chest. She slowly walks towards me. I notice her scowl is gone, and she looks like she’s going to cry. “I need a little time to work on my life so I can be ready to embrace our relationship fully, from a good, healthy, and better place. I want, well, we would be faithful to each other. And if someone catches your interest, we uh, tell the other and then make a decision together, before anything happens physically with someone else.”

I don’t miss her flinch when she says this nonsense. My face gets hard; no way she has to worry about me. I’m the one worried about her realizing how big of a selfish asshole I am and how I’m not worth all the trouble. “This is what you need, to be able to come to me, for us to be the end goal, the happy ever after, sweetheart?”

She nods yes, holding back tears. She looks so small, soft, vulnerable, but still my strong, sexy, sweet Annie. “I don’t think I can be apart from you if I’m not your end game, because you’re mine, you’re my happy ever after. I’m one hundred percent committed to you, to us. We’ll make this work, come here, sweetheart.”

I hug her and wrap myself entirely around her, hold her as tight as I can. Nothing feels better than when I have her in my arms, safe, secure, with me, beside me. Christ, I’ll do whatever she needs to keep her in my arms forever. I’m not a stupid man. I know what I have, and I’ll fight like hell to keep it. I found real. I found soft. I found what my crazy old mother wanted me to find. I found my other half of my soul. “I love you, Annie,” I whisper into her hair.

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