“He’s a drug addict?” I murmur, wondering how I could have missed that. Trying to reconcile the Allen I know with the Allen…
“Recovering, Jessie, and when I say that I mean he’s been clean for years. Years, Jessie, and he’s not stumbled once, sweetheart, not once.”
“But… he could.”
Ana puts her hand over mine. “He hasn’t. He’s been clean for years,” she says again, like that changes things, and maybe it should…maybe it does… I don’t know. All I know right now is I’m physically sick.
“But, he could,” I repeat, stronger this time.
“You can’t live your life based on what could happen, Jessie,” she says and the look on her face tells me that she’s disappointed in me. “Allen works here at my husband’s club. If you care for him and want a chance with him, it’s you who is going to have to come to him.” She leaves the card and walks away. I don’t respond. My mind is going in a million different directions and none of them are good. When Ana gets to the door she turns to look at me. “He is worth it, Jessie. I hope you make the right decision, I really do,” she says quietly and she leaves.
I’m left staring at the trash can full of blue flowers…
Three Weeks Later
I come outside to get some air, leaving Bruno on duty. I don’t normally take breaks, but tonight I had to. I was starting to feel suffocated in the club. It was literally getting hard to breathe. I haven’t felt that trapped since the early days of sobriety. This time it wasn’t about the drugs, however. This time it was all about Jessie. I thought maybe once I sent her the flowers I would close that door and move on, putting her and the dreams of more out of my head. The thing is, just because I know in my heart that Jessie deserves better—that I have to let her go…It doesn’t make it any easier.
I miss her. I miss her so much the world has taken on a dreary haze. I push through each day because I have no choice, but the days seem to drag on forever. I thought kicking drugs was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m beginning to wonder if I’ll ever be able to get Jessie out of my system.
“Hi.” I hear a voice from behind me and my body goes completely stiff. I bring my head up and turn around in what feels like slow motion.
At first I think I’m dreaming—that she’s a figment of my imagination that I’ve somehow conjured up. But she keeps walking toward me.
“What are you doing here?” I ask when she stops about ten feet away from me.
“Your sister told me this is where you work,” she says with a shrug.
“You’ve been talking to Ana?” I ask her, shocked, and she just shrugs again. “You really shouldn’t be here,” I tell her, but it doesn’t stop me from closing the distance between us.
“I wanted to see you,” she says simply, those beautiful blue eyes looking at me so deeply it feels like she can see all the way inside of me.
“I’m bad for you, Jessie,” I tell her, but I’m standing right in front of her now and my hands are closed into fists as I fight the urge to take her in my arms, lift her up and kiss her.
“Maybe I like bad,” she answers. Her voice is whisper soft and it snaps my control.
Before I can stop myself, I pull her into me. I lift her up my body and capture her lips. I feel her legs wrap around me, her fingers bite into my skin as we kiss. Somehow, she tastes even sweeter than I remembered.
I shouldn’t kiss her. One taste and I know I’ll never be strong enough to let her go again, but I can’t stop myself. I have to. I need her.
I need her so fucking much.
When we break apart, I keep her in my arms and she rests her head against me. I pull back just enough to raise her face up to me.
“I’ve missed you, Mouse,” I tell her, thinking that those words don’t even begin to sum up how I’ve felt without Jessie.
“I’ve missed you too, Allen.”
“How long are you here for?” I ask, desperate to spend more time with her.
“For as long as you want me.”
Her words wrap themselves around my heart and it feels like I can’t breathe for a minute.
“That could be a problem, Jessie. I don’t know if I can let you go again.”
“Then don’t, Allen.”
“There’s things we need to talk about. Things you should know,” I hedge, not wanting to bring up my past, but knowing she deserves to know.
“And we will, but tonight, can I just have you?”