No Matter What
Chapter 3: PresentWhen I walked in the house mom was already making breakfast for Jack and dad.
“Want some dear?” She asked holding out a plate of eggs.
“No thanks mom. I had cereal before my jog.”
“Where did you go?” Jack asked.
“You know, just a jog around the neighborhood.” I kissed Jack on the cheek, “I’m going to take a shower quick and then we can go into town.”
“Okay, I’ll be up here.”
I ran downstairs and turned on the shower. When I was done I dried my hair, fixed my makeup, and got dressed. As soon as I was finished, I grabbed my purse and keys to my car.
“It’s about time.” Mom said just as I walked upstairs. “Where are you off to now?”
“I thought I would take Jack out and show him around.”
“While you’re at it you might want to bring him to that little café by the lake.” She was finishing the dishes.
“What café?” Jack asked.
“Oh, it’s nothing. Just a place I used to hang out with my friends.” I had already been there today.
“Let’s go there for lunch.” He suggested.
I sighed, “Yeah, sure.”
I drove Jack to my old high school and showed him where I grew up. We also took a drive by the old hang outs I used to go to. Finally we went to the café. When we ordered our lunch I noticed our waitress was the same girl Alex and I had this morning.
“Weren’t you in here earlier with someone?” She asked.
I glanced at Jack then back at her. “Yes I was.”
I was really hoping nothing would come up about it, but just as she left, Jack questioned me, “What was she talking about?”
“I ran into someone during my jog this morning, we came here for a while to catch up.” I waited for his response.
“Who was it?”
“Alex, but nothing happened, I swear.” I continued, “He offered to buy me a scone and catch up on things.”
“You told him about me right?” He asked.
“Of course!” I stated.
“Good.” Jack took a bite of his sandwich. “Do I get to meet this guy?”
“How about never,” I said sarcastically. Alex and Jack meeting each other, they’re both so opposite, it wouldn’t turn out good.
As we finished our lunch Jack got the bill and waited for my answer.
“Alex was a part of my past, not anymore. Plus, I haven’t met any of your exes.” I mentioned.
“You know what? It’s none of my business just as long as he doesn’t try to steal you away.” Jack smiled.
“I don’t think he will. Even if he did I would turn him down because I love you more.”
Jack took my hand in his as we walked out. “I’m so relieved,” he said sarcastically.
“So, what do you feel like doing for the rest of the day?” I asked.
“Oh I don’t know. I just might have reserved a sail boat for us to take for the afternoon.” He smirked
I beamed, “When did you do this? Who told you about that?”
“Your mom told me that you missed going out on the lake. She gave me a number to call and told me to take you out sailing.”
“When do we get to go?”
“Whenever you want to go, I reserved it for the whole afternoon until seven.” He gave me a piece of paper with writing on it for proof.
I opened the door to my car and grabbed my jacket. “Let’s go now.”
“Okay.” He got his jacket too. “It’s about a half a mile that way.” He pointed to the west.
We walked along the calm beach as waves swept our feet. I had my sandals in one of my hands, and Jack hand in the other.
“Hmm?” He was caught up in some thought.
“Did you really want to meet Alex? If you did, I could talk to him.”
We reached the dock with a few boats left.
“Jess, I don’t care if I meet Alex or not. I just don’t want to spend the whole summer worrying about you and him.”
Jack got into one of the boats and held out a hand for me.
“I told you that there’s nothing to worry about.” I slipped on the step.
“Careful.” Jack grasped me. “I know, and it’s not that I’m so concerned. I just want to know what he did that caused so much trouble.”
“Here,” I got into the boat and took my shoes back from him. “I’ll tell you when we get out in the lake.”
Jack started moving the boat from the dock. As we floated away I felt a slight breeze on my shoulders.
We sailed out as far as we could which took almost a half hour. By the time we reached the point where we could no longer see land Jack stopped the boat.
“I have a blanket here somewhere.” He said looking around.
Once he found it he laid it down and had me sit beside him.
“Ready for the story?” I asked.
“Ready.” He got on his back and waited for me to begin.
“Alex had met when I was babysitting two kids. He showed up and asked us if we wanted lunch, that’s when it started. Things had been going quick, and before you know it, we had been going out for over a year.”
I was explaining from the very start of things. “You see, my best friend, Summer, had been upset with me because I hung out with Alex more than her. Then, like every year, she decided to throw a party after our homecoming football game.”
Jack was watching me attentively. “I thought I would take Alex and we could have a good time and maybe even make up for my missing movie nights with Summer.” I looked out into the ocean and watched the waves roll around.
“So Alex and I went and we had fun, you know, a couple beers, dancing and talking with friends. We were only seventeen at the time so we thought we were fine right where we were. Or at least I did. After a while of the party, they ran out of food and beer. I offered Summer that Alex and I would go get more.”
“Instead of going back to the house Alex brought me to the beach.” I glanced at Jack, “You know the one we just walked across. Anyway, he parked the truck and reached across the seat to me. He told me how much he loved me and how happy he was that we were together. As we were kissing and he wanted to go further. I asked him if he had a condom with him and he said the exact words, ‘I don’t know’.”
“Of course it was our first time, so I expected him not to be so drunk and careless. I said I wanted to wait and he said it was now or never. We had a minor fight and headed back to the party with more beer. I told Alex that I wanted to go home and he offered that he would take me after he brought the drinks inside.”
Jack now had his eyes closed, but he was still listening. “It took me about twenty minutes to realize that he wasn’t coming back anytime soon. I got worried that he had passed out, or maybe he was drinking more with his friends. I walked inside the house looking for him. I checked the backyard and the basement. I had left the bedrooms for last. I looked in all of them except for one. That was Summer’s bedroom. I knew that she didn’t want anyone in there, but it was worth the try.”
I hadn’t noticed, but I could feel a few stray tears fall.
“I walked into the bedroom to see Summer herself and Alex making out half-dressed on her bed. I never forgave Summer for what she did, and I told Alex to leave.”
I stopped for a brief second. “That month was hard to get through, but I managed. After three months of trying to forget and move on, I got a phone call. It was him.”
I had to stop for a brief second, and continued, “I thought he was trying to get me back, so I ignore his phone calls. He called almost every day and left multiple messages. I really thought he was desperate, so I kept erasing his voicemails. Soon he stopped by my house. My parents had left for my dad’s work trip. I was all alone in the house and here was standing Alex in front of me.”
“His eyes were red and he was panting. He told me that he had called and ran over here to tell me in person that Summer had gotten into an accident. Alex said that she was driving when she hit a sheet of ice and flipped her car.”
Jack noticed my tears and bound his arms around me.
I cried into his shoulder, “When he told me that she hadn’t survived the accident, my heart sank. I didn’t want our friendship to end the way it did. And I knew deep down that I could not have hated her. She was like a sister to me.”
“I was a horrible friend. I didn’t even go to her funeral. I didn’t know how I would react to it, so I went after they buried her. I put flowers and a picture of the two of us by her headstone. I went every day until I had to leave for Colorado.”
“I just wish that I could have said I was sorry to her before she died. She was my best friend and the last words I ever said to her were ‘I hate you’.”
“Jess I’m so sorry. I didn’t know.” Jack said in empathy.
“That’s not the whole story.” I wiped my eyes and started again. “The day of my high school graduation Alex asked me for a second chance. He told me how he would never do that to me again and how he still loved me. I was dumb enough to take him back. However, it ended again right before I left for college. He didn’t follow through with the long distance relationship thing, so it ended early. Then I met you.”
Jack just sat there and watched me. “Wow.”
“I shouldn’t have told you, now you’re going to think of me as the person I was.”
“Jessica, I’m not going to think any less of you. Just because you have a past, doesn’t mean I don’t. I’ve made mistakes too.”
“You have? I thought you were perfect,” I laughed, jokingly.
“That’s only when everyone’s watching,” he joked back, “I’m serious, no one’s perfect. Not even me.”
We sat in silence for an hour and watched the sun lower into the water.
“The sunset is so beautiful.” I thought aloud.
“Almost,” Jack corrected. Nothing compares to you.