Annie & Jack After Forty

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Chapter 52

The opening

Annie

Brenda and Josie dressed Leslie and me tonight, and I’m still recovering from what it cost. It was a lot of money. Couture used dresses are still very couture expensive. Josie worked her magic and tailored the dresses, so they look like they were designed just for us. Jack and Ben both owned tuxes and didn’t need to purchase one item, so we let them pay for everything without a fuss, even Leslie.

Leslie looks terrific in a dark teal floor-length, one-shoulder Alexander McQueen. It has a long slit up the leg that’s hidden by soft ruffles, so you only get quick glimpses of her long leg. The ruffles are made from the same floating material as her dress, and it flows and floats down to the bottom into more soft ruffles. Her blond hair is in an updo, and she looks happy, healthy, and beautiful like she deserves to look and feel. I’m so glad she found love, and what are the odds that we both found love with brothers. I didn’t think, with everything we’ve been through together, we could become closer, but our bond is stronger. My Barbra Jean, I couldn’t imagine a life without her and Sarah Jane.

I feel comfortable in the dress they chose for me. The Roaring Twenties or a slick, sleek, rocker girl. Either one describes my dress and the look Josie and Brenda pointed out, because of my bobbed hair with bangs, was how I should work this outfit tonight. My dress is a Gucci by Tom Ford. It’s a cream long sleeve, floor-length sheath dress. It’s a unique blend of materials, Josie bought it from Italy, and it feels smooth like silk but heavier. I feel naked, but my body is completely covered. It’s solid cream except for a gold, built-in, circle belt that accents my small waist. It feels empowering to be dressed in something so beautiful, so figure flattering,

I stand up straighter, feeling pride. I am proud, and I don’t feel guilty enjoying and taking the extreme pleasure of wearing this dress and feeling a high that I once thought wasn’t possible, and maybe look down upon it because I thought it was meaningless. I don’t feel that way tonight. Tonight I feel nothing but pride and love for Jack and all he’s accomplished. I am proud, and I look fantastic standing beside Jackson Phillips, known for his contribution to the most magnificent skyline in the world.

I teared up earlier tonight in the apartment when May told him how his dad would be so proud of him. I watch my man dance with his mom. I smile, Lordy, we are in for a ride with the two of them. Their relationship, the constant teasing, picking, and bickering will keep us all young forever.

“I really can’t believe the change in him. I tried eight years to get him to be that way with me. He socialized more this time around than he did the first, with The Spalding Building,” Marybeth says. She’s staring at Jack and May dancing.

“Were you and Mick ever happy?” I ask the one question I’ve been dying to know.

She laughs, it’s bittersweet. “Yes, but he never really got over the fact it all started as a way to make Jack pay attention to me.”

Jack sees us talking. He raises his eyes and questions the situation. I smile and wave at him and his Mom like a goofball. May zeros her eyes in on Marybeth, she had, and has, quite a negative opinion of her.

“I’m sorry you ended up unhappy with Mick, Marybeth. I hope one day you find happiness and success outside of your work life. I wish you well, and maybe we’ll run into each other again. Congratulations again on all your success.”

I could have said more and asked her so many more questions, but I don’t. I walk away, grateful. I don’t have to talk to her ever again.

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