Thursday, July 12, 2018

A Summer Love, Chapter 9 - By Jolene Navarro



He could feel Jenny move closer to him.

“You’re leaving? When?” Her voice was soft.

Jake turned his attention from the endless coastal sky and faced her. He took the time to study her features. Over the years she had grown even more beautiful. The beauty came from her eyes. The woman she had grown into was more than his teenage self could have ever imagined.

Back then he really knew her. One look and her thoughts and feeling were clear to him without a single word.

Now? He had no idea what she was thinking. The years had taught her to hide, to hold back. That knowledge just about destroyed him. Had he done that to her?
Losing his train of thought he blinked and refocused. 

She had asked him something.

Oh yes, his medical leave

He leaned back on the rocker. “I plan to finish out my twenty years as soon as I get released. I’m looking at going to Seattle. A buddy told me of a clinic up there that got him back to full duty.”

She sat down next to him. “You don’t have to go all the way to the Northwest coast. Less than forty miles from here there is a clinic you could go too. My mom sends patients to Dr. Yang and her team all the time with really good results. It’s on my short list of places I want to apply. They’d take great care of you. They treat plenty of soldiers.”

She wanted him to stay here? He swallowed, not brave enough to make eye contact, he went back to looking at the water. It was probably just the nurse in her wanting to help. Nothing personal.

All those years ago his stupid teenage self, made sure her love for him had been demolished. Not knowing what to say he opted for silence. That was the safest tactic.

“Jake, Am I the reason you want to leave your home?” She leaned closer, her voice low.

Her scent surrounded him. He closed his eyes. There was no right answer to that question. Before he could come up with any string of words that he was willing to share, Ralph barked and jumped off the porch.

A seagull had landed on the gate at the end of the sidewalk. The gate that had been left open and the single-minded dog was running straight into the street, heading to the beach. The street that hardly had any traffic this time of day now had two delivery trucks heading their way.

Without thought, Jake jumped out of his rocker and leaped down the steps yelling for Ralph to stop. But his knee, the stupid useless knee gave out as his foot hit the ground. He caught the railing before falling on his face and he managed to land on one knee. Through clenched teeth, he grunted.

The small sound stopped Ralph in his tracks. He came running back, nudging Jack with his nose. A whine that sounded like an apology vibrated in the dog’s chest.

Jenny was at his side. Her nursing skills evident in her movements and mannerism. “Easy. Don’t move yet.”

“I’m okay.” He heard his own growl escape his throat. He took a deep breath and evaluated the knee. Slowly he pulled himself up. Her hands stayed in contact with his skin, holding him steady.

This was not how he wanted her to see him. The warmth in her touch made him ache for all the things he had taken for granted. Talking with his mother, Jenny being his. A body that was strong and fast. He had lost everything. No wonder the military didn’t care if he came back.

She guided him to the rocking chair. He looked at the ceiling of the porch then moved his gaze to the beautiful door. All the details of the house his mother had been so proud of.

He hadn’t lost everything. He had the house. But all that did was remind him of the important things he had let slip through his fingers. Time and his arrogance had taken so much and there wasn’t anything he could do to get them back.

Ralph rested his head on Jake’s thigh. His big brown eyes pleading for forgiveness. He scratched the dog in his favorite place. “It’s okay boy. No damage done. But no more seagull chasing.” He lifted the leg out in front of him, straightening the knee then flexed.

“Jake, If I’m the reason you want to leave Summer Shores, we can work something out. We don’t have to see each other. My mother can’t force us to eat dinner together. Your mother’s will stated that we both had to live in Summer Shores for six months. We can do that then decide on the details. You want to go travel the world. I want to buy your half of the house. We can both get what we want.”

“You want to live in my family’s beach house?” He hated the warm satisfied feeling that gave him.

“I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.” She gave him a smile. Leaning in to pat his leg. “That’s what broke us up. You wanted to leave and never look back. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t know who I was.”

The thought of her living here with another man, raising children that weren’t his, tore at his gut. Why had he been so stubborn back then? But he wasn’t the only one that made mistakes. She had walked away from him and never looked back. “You left too.”

She eased into the rocker next to his. “I did and it was the best thing I could have done. We were so young.” She flashed a crooked grin. “Some might say immature. I did a lot of growing up while I was away.”

He nodded. “Yeah. I thought I was missing out on something. Only to find everything I wanted was right here.” Did they have a second chance? Or was he reading too much…seeing something he wanted to see. He sighed.

Being unsure of himself was new and he hated it. Was he being a fool for hoping? Could he, should he risk his pride again by asking her to give them another chance? They were adults now.

She stood. Looking across the yard, across Shoreline street to the endless horizon.  The waves reaching for the beach over and over again. The air was heavy with humidity and unanswered questions. 
Did they have a second chance?

Without turning to him she finally spoke. “This could work Jake. You do your rehab and live here in your family home. I’ll stay out of your way. Then in six months, we see what we want.”

The breeze brushed strands of hair over her shoulders. There was the real question. What did he want? If he agreed to her plan he’d have six months to figure it out. Six months.


11 comments:

  1. Great segment!!! I'm feeling hopeful about these two being together at long last. If only...

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  2. Thanks. Can't wait to read the wrap-up in the morning

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  3. Will they or won't they get back together???

    It's all in my hands now.

    Cue evil cackle.

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    1. I know you will give them the ending they deserve. lol

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  4. I just caught up on the last couple chapters. I love this story! So emotional!

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  5. Love this. So good, every chapter.

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    1. It is so much fun to work with other authors to create these short stories.

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