Authors: Bella Juarez
“Anna? Liz. Hey, Billy just called me with the details. I’m here at Randolph. Can I drop by?”
“Sure! I’m here. I don’t go in until late. I’ll see you in a few,” Anna said.
Liz stopped in front of the house that Jack and Anna shared. She looked at the front door before she stepped out. Something wasn’t right.
“Come in, Liz,” Anna said, opening the door wider.
Liz followed her into the kitchen and made herself at home at a stool that sat at the end of the island in the middle of the kitchen.
“Do you want something to drink?” Anna asked.
“Sure, some water would be great. Can we talk for a minute?”
* * * *
Before Anna knew it, she’d packed and was on a plane with Liz to Rafe’s funeral in Virginia. Anna was quiet the whole trip. Jack wasn’t expecting her, and she was concerned about how they’d work this out. As she and Liz had talked in the kitchen, she realized just what a bitch she’d been.
Anna thought about what she would do once she saw Jack and thought she had a plan, but as the time drew closer and as the plane started its descent, her resolve started to disintegrate. Liz must’ve sensed her stress because she took Anna’s hand.
“So, how are you and Jack getting along?” Liz asked.
“God! Liz! I think I’ve really messed up. I tried calling him last night and before we left and he didn’t answer and hasn’t called back. He’s never done that to me,” Anna blurted.
“Want to talk about it?”
“I don’t even know where to start,” Anna said, looking out the window.
“What happened yesterday?” Liz asked.
“We were supposed to go to Kingsville to visit my grandparents and this happened. I was so damn pissed that he couldn’t go and I said some things about his job coming first. When I think about the way he looked at me…I’m just so frustrated that he’s gone all the time,” Anna said, releasing a deep breath.
“I understand how you feel. Wait until the first remote.”
“A remote tour. He’ll be gone for at least a year. It’s gotten better with the Internet. But I wouldn’t hear from Billy for months. At least they’re not in combat anymore…” Liz said as Anna shook her head. “Anna, you worked with them for a while. You know what they do. Why did you get angry? Really?”
“I don’t know, Liz.”
Liz was casually flipping through a magazine, and Anna was staring at the seat in front of her.
“You know, Jack once told me the reason why he never got married. I think everyone that knows him was shocked when he married you. I wasn’t. I knew exactly why he did it,” Liz said.
No, you don’t.
Anna thought about the real reason they initially married. She looked at Liz. “Why?” Anna asked.
“He said he didn’t think anyone would ever understand his job and why he did it,” Liz said, closing her magazine and placing her hand on Anna’s arm. “I think he thought you were the one woman who did understand. He felt like someone had finally accepted him for who he was. For Jack, that’s huge.”
“Liz, if you’re trying to make me feel better, it’s not working.”
“I’m sorry, Anna.” Anna started to speak, but Liz continued, “These are not average men. They don’t work from nine to five and stay home on weekends to mow the lawn and coach Little League. But when they’re home there’s no doubt that
are the most important thing in their lives.
are his lifeline. When he’s gone and doing his job,
are the reason he
to come home. You’re married to Superman and every time there is a cry for help, he’s leaving you and answering the call. Remember who he comes back to.” Liz said squeezing her arm.
Anna resumed her stare out the window as her shoulders sagged. She was really nervous when the plane landed at Reagan International.
* * * *
“You did what?” Jack asked sharply.
“I had Liz call Anna and they’re flying in together,” Mac repeated.
Jack looked away. Mac was really starting to piss him off with all his interfering. Mac explained that the women would arrive at the hotel any minute because they’d caught a cab from the airport. Jack took another long drink of his double scotch. Anna had tried to call, but he hadn’t called her back because he didn’t fight with her over the phone. He was thinking about the
he would make to end this game for good when Mac’s phone buzzed on the bar.
“They’re in the lobby,” Mac said.
Jack reached into his pocket and pulled out the key card to his room. He handed it to Mac.
“What the hell is this?” Mac asked, annoyed.
“Tell her the room number.” Jack took another swallow.
“Rock, I don’t give a shit how pissed you are. She’s still your wife. Get up and go meet her,” Mac said, throwing the card onto the bar.
“I’m still drinking, Mac. I’m sure she can figure out how to get in the room.”
“Get up off this barstool and get your ass into that lobby before I kick it off this planet,
,” Mac said seriously. Jack gave him a deadly look. “Don’t fuck with me, Rock. You know I’m one of the few people that
kick your ass.” Jack took another drink. “Rock, get over there, get into your room, and work this out with your wife. That’s what you do when you’re married.”
Mac turned and left. Jack shook his head and paid the tab as he stood. Mac was right. He was being just as immature as Anna right now. This was one of those difficult situations he knew would be eventual and they had to work it out. If things didn’t work out he may be back for the bottle and drink himself into a coma. He caught up to Mac, who was almost at the lobby.
Anna was standing with her back to him when he walked into the lobby. As Jack drew closer he unconsciously inhaled and felt himself start to involuntarily relax.
. He wanted to kick himself for being so easy when she was around. It was much easier to hate her when he was alone and drinking. He steeled himself, determined that he wouldn’t make it that easy for her this time. They needed to come to an understanding and quick.
“Hello, Anna,” Jack said.
Anna turned around and tentatively looked at Jack. She was unsure and that was a good thing because he wanted her off her game, for now. Mac and Liz made their exit as Jack and Anna stood staring at each other.
“Shall we go?” Jack asked formally.
“Yes,” Anna answered.
* * * *
Anna walked into the room and twitched when she heard Jack close the door. She’d never in her entire life seen anyone so angry, and it was all directed at her. Jack screaming at her the way she’d witnessed with Colonel Spivey would have been easier to handle than this hostile silence he maintained. She held her breath as he walked past her. She stayed rooted near the door. She felt like she’d just been thrown in with a live tiger.
“Why did you come?” Jack asked with his back to her.
“Because this is where I should be.”
“You think so?” Jack asked, not looking at her.
“Yes, I do,” Anna said cautiously.
“What are you hoping to accomplish here?” Jack asked in a low, dangerous tone.
Anna exhaled. “Jack, I’m sorry. Please forgive me.”
Jack finally turned around and looked at Anna and she almost took a step backward. He had a way of conveying his feelings through his body language without saying a word. Right now, he was beyond angry because she saw him bristle in the dim light. It was the first time she was actually afraid of what he might do.
“What will you do next time I need to leave and it’s inconvenient for you?” Jack asked.
“I’ll deal with it.”
“How?” Jack stalked forward toward her. “Am I coming home to an empty house, Anna?”
“No. I know what I’m in for, and I’ve made up my mind that I’ll deal with it. I’ll be there every time you come home.”
“Am I coming home to a tantrum because you couldn’t have your way again? Do you think I wanted to leave when I did?” Jack demanded.
Anna was thankful when he turned around and walked back to the middle of the room. Jack was so much less intimidating when she didn’t have to look at him and answer him.
“You’re right. It’ll never happen again. You were the one person I thought would understand me. I was wrong. You shouldn’t have come here,” Jack said.
Anna felt has if she’d just been stabbed. Worse yet, she felt as if she deserved it. Her temper and ego had really made a mess of things this time because Jack was just as temperamental as she was, but this time she’d been wrong, very wrong. She should’ve at least listened and gotten herself under control before she’d said anything to him yesterday. She understood full well what he was saying. Thankfully, she’d booked an open ticket for a return flight.
“All right, Jack. When you get home we’ll decide what to do and how to end this,” Anna said, reaching for her bag.
Anna turned around and opened the door. It quickly slammed shut in front of her. She was always amazed at how silent and quick he could be. Anna looked up slightly and saw Jack’s hand on the door.
“The next time you ask me to choose between you and my career, give me a gun so I can shoot myself.
will be a much easier choice for me. I love you both and I
choose,” Jack snarled close to her.
“What do you want me to do, Jack?”
walking out on me. Understand something right now. When the Navy asked me to choose between you and them, I chose you!” Jack leaned in closer.
want you to make me feel like I’m choosing my job over you. I need you to be a little more understanding.” Jack growled dangerously.
Anna turned around and looked up at Jack’s menacing expression hovering over her. Close up, Anna could see Jack wasn’t angry, he was wounded. For a man like him, wounding him was worse than making him angry.
“I understand, Jack. It’ll never happen again.” Anna took his face in her hands. He flinched when she touched him. He looked inconsolable as he closed his eyes. The pain she’d caused him brought her to tears. “I’m so sorry,” she whispered.
* * * *
Jack was shaking with rage when he slammed the door shut in front of Anna. If she thought she was walking out on him she had another thing coming. He couldn’t stop himself once he started speaking. What he said and what he’d planned on saying were two different things entirely. It no longer mattered because she knew how he really felt, and if she took advantage of it again, there would be no forgiveness.
When Anna touched him, he almost stopped her. As he felt her hands on his face, he closed his eyes and went liquid at the sensation of being close to her. He inhaled and started to calm down. When she apologized for the second time, he opened his eyes and looked at her. She seemed more genuine, and her apology reached him.
“Jack, please forgive me,” Anna said. He couldn’t say anything. He’d forgiven her the second she touched him. “I need to hear you say it,” she urged.
“I forgive you, Anna,” Jack whispered.
The relief on her face was evident. She seemed to relax, and Jack felt as if a weight had been lifted. When he said those words, it released the rejection and hurt that he’d been harboring over the last day. He needed to say those words out loud as well. Jack bent down and kissed Anna.
“I forgive you, and I love you,” Jack said.
“Thank you. I love you, too, and I don’t want to lose you.”
“Let’s stop. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” Jack took Anna’s hand and led her away from the door.
* * * *
Jack and Anna returned to the room after dinner with the McGuire’s. Anna unpacked for a shower. He sat down and idly channel surfed while she got ready for bed. When she finished, she plopped down on the small couch next to her husband. He put his arm around her and pulled her to his chest. She held him tight because it was good to have peace between them again. Jack kissed the top of her damp hair.
“You always smell so good,” Jack said as he inhaled.
“Do I?” Anna asked.
“It was the first thing I noticed about you. I opened the door for you when you moved into the building. That was the first time I noticed the way you smelled.”
“No, you didn’t!” Anna said, lightly punching him.
“You didn’t even notice me! I held the door open for you at least five or six more times after that
I held the door to the break room open for you a couple of times,” Jack said, hugging Anna.
“I noticed you.”
“No, you didn’t! I could’ve been part of the wall for all you knew!” Jack exclaimed, pushing Anna onto her back. “You couldn’t avoid me after you ran into me. I could smell you all day after that.” Jack tickled her ribs.