Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 44


It’s been a month since Jack sublet an apartment and moved to New York. Four full weeks since I’ve lain my eyes on him in person. I can’t wait to see him tonight when I get to New York.

Our morning talks are still the highlight of each day. His dirty mouth and texts have me psychically aching and missing him. Our long morning talks are still our favorite part of our day. I smile, picturing us old and gray, snuggled in bed, still whispering, teasing, and loving each other every single morning for the rest of our lives.

Jack’s house, his mom’s house. I shake my head. Those two are both whack-a-doodles, is completed and looks great. Derek has two projects lined up, and he only needs Maranda part-time because they are small, so she is working in the bakery with me part-time. I loved that she wanted to help Meg and me in the bakery. It’s been weird only having one job. I laugh, I don’t have to leave the building just like the old days.

I can’t wait to see Jack tonight when I get to New York. He says he’ll be home, to his new short term home, by seven tonight. That gives me time to stop by to see Brenda and Josie. I texted them. I needed another new sexy dress to go with my new youthful haircut. I sent them a picture. I giggle, I sent them my first selfie. I wanted to show them my new look. I cut my dark brown hair short to my chin. The cut is a sharp bob with thick full bangs straight across my forehead. I look a lot younger; it complements my face shape. I made an appointment with Dawn when I realized that I hadn’t been back to see her since that only haircut, months and months ago. I didn’t think at first, it was on purpose, not getting a haircut, but I know I was fooling myself.

I struggled and broke down the first week when Jack things were picked up to be shipped and delivered to him in New York. Thank God for Leslie and Sarah Jane. I picked myself up, and now I’ve had a good, healthy three weeks. I not only got a new look for my hair, but I found a group. A therapy group for parents who have lost children from disabilities. Pam, the social worker, who spoke with me after Jerry’s attack hooked me up with a woman who I’ve only met with once but have a good feeling about. It has been the weekly group therapy sessions she introduced me to, where I feel will be the most impactful for me. I feel hopeful and positive that I can get some things I need from this group of people. The stories they have shared. I sigh, I’m not alone anymore in my pain. I feel like I’m meant to learn from them.

I’m making small changes, growing and moving forward, figuring myself out slowly. It’s okay to ask for help and to concentrate on me. I know now that working to my pay bills off, while it relieved me of a significant burden, it wasn’t a cure-all for everything I’ve been through in my life. I have to learn to work hard to be accepting that it’s okay to be whatever I want to be and not feel guilty about being alive and creating new dreams for myself. I’m a long work in process.

I miss working at The Stardust, but the time I spend now with Leslie, SJ, and Sophie at night around the TV or going out for a weekday early movie has been fantastic. I’ve kept myself busy at the bakery, but all of my days now involve time working on me, thinking about what I want and need to be healthy and happy.

Brenda and Josie hustled me out of their shop dressed in something I would have never dare to try on, let alone buy. The black dress is strapless, and it clings to me like skin. It’s a thick polyester, and the whole dress is bands of fabric wrapping around my body. I feel like a dominatrix in it, and especially with the black heels with straps that wrap up my ankle onto my calves.

I enter Jack’s building, and I smile at the doorman and walk inside the residential building as if I do it every day dressed like this. I enter his apartment on the eighteenth floor, and wow, the place is unbelievable. It has tones of cream with warm color cabinetry. It totally fits Jack’s style.

I go to the balcony, off the main room and look out at the view. The evening sun is starting to set. I never imagine that this life was ever possible for me. I never grasped that my life could take a million different twists and turns after losing my family. I never thought past what I had to do, get out of debt, get a job, and survive. I know how to survive, but I don’t know how to live.

I hear Jack call my name. My knees weaken, and my heart races. He’s here.

I walk inside and stop in my tracks. Jack halts and stares at me. His navy-blue suit and tie are ones I’ve never seen him in before; they look made for him. His hair looks longer, thicker, and messier. I can see more graying at his temples. I teased him about it one night in bed, out at the house, he didn’t think it was funny.

His dark eyes drink me in, “Christ, sweetheart.” He opens his arms for me. He’s breathless like me. I smile and giggle, because I may be dressed like a sultry woman, but I feel like a girl playing dress-up, walking towards the cool, smart boy she wants to impress. He takes pity on me; he meets halfway and hugs me hard. His lips find mine, and he lifts me off my feet. Every time he touches me, I catch on fire. I wish I could wrap my legs around him.

“Hi, I’ve missed you,” I moan into his mouth.

“Your hair, sweetheart. Beautiful, you’re beautiful. You are all big blue innocent eyes. I’ve missed you so much, baby.” He kisses me.

“You know I’m not innocent, Jackson.” I lick his lips and kiss him hard. It feels so wonderful to be near him, to touch him. He growls and carries me off to the bedroom. As soon as he sits me on the bed, I stand back up. I’ve had a plan in my head, and I want to see it through.

I spin around, give him my back, and my eyes look up, under my new bangs and my lashes, into his, over my shoulder. “Unzip me please, Jackson.” I smile because yes, yes, I did hear myself say that with a southern drawl.

His dark eyes flare, “My pleasure.” He unzips my dress. It fits like a second skin, so it doesn’t fall when he unzips me all the way. He runs his finger up my spine and neck. I shiver when I feel his breath on my bare back and neck. He peels my dress slowly down my body. He cups my breast and rolls my nipples between his fingers. “I’m missed you so much, Annie.” I arch back and raise my hands to wrap around his neck and get my hands in his soft hair.

His hand travels down, and he finds my center. “Goddamn, you’re bare.” He plunges a finger inside me.

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