A realization occurs to me. He may have unintentionally hurt me, but he didn't purposely wrong me. And there's a huge difference between the two. "Yes. I can move past this because of how much I love him."
"Just because you've decided to get over it doesn't mean you have to let him know he's off the hook yet. Let him simmer on the back burner a few days and sweat it out so it's a lesson he doesn't forget any time soon."
I don't think so. "It better be a lesson he never forgets!"
"Then all the better to let him worry a few days. We'll hang out and do wedding stuff while he's at Avalon pacing the floor. Although I took his side, I do think he deserves that much."
A little worry and pacing won't hurt him a bit. "I agree. I can't let him out of the penalty box after only one day."
"No. He needs to be in there at least three days so you don't look like a pushover. Don't ever forget that it's your job to teach him how to treat you."
It's day three of Jack Henry being in the penalty box. We've not spoken since the morning he left, and I miss him terribly. For every time I don't call him, I almost do. I think I would have if Addison hadn't been with me, but she's kept me strong.
We've spent the last two days with the McLachlan women invading every bridal shop in Sydney. The more time I spend with them, the more I adore them. It's like having a normal, loving mom and sisters. And it's wonderful.
Jack Henry wouldn't be the only one I'd miss if we parted ways, so it's a good thing we're not. But he still doesn't know that. I realize it's a little on the cruel side to keep him in the dark. I'm beginning to feel a little guilty about that, but I'm glad to be going home so we can put this behind us and move forward.
I wait for him to pick up as the phone rings. He doesn't say hello when he answers, and my heart skips a beat at the sound of his voice saying my name. "L." I love his new nickname for me. It's so much more intimate than calling me Laurie like everyone else does.
"I was calling to see if you'd send Daniel to get Addison. She's ready to get back to Zac." And I'm ready to get back to you.
"Of course. When?"
"Could he be here by lunch tomorrow?" I already know he can. Jack Henry would send him now if it's what I asked.
"Absolutely. Tell her to expect him at twelve." I know Daniel well enough to know it will be straight up twelve o'clock when he pulls into the drive.
"I'll let her know."
There's a pregnant pause before he asks, "How are you?"
I'm weak and ready to break down. I want to say that I'm coming home because I've missed him so much, but I don't. I hold it together. "I'm okay. You?"
"I'm not okay at all. I miss you and I'm going crazy because you're not here with me."
If I have this talk with him, I'm a goner. "I don't want to have this conversation over the phone."
"Then come home so we can have it face to face. Please."
"I'll think about it." And that isn't a lie because I will be doing a lot of thinking about what I'm going to say to him once I'm home. I fear I'll say too much if I continue talking, so I end our conversation without giving him any clue that I'll be home with him the following night.
It's after five when I come into the house, so I know Mrs. Porcelli has left for the evening. Dinner is on the stove but hasn't been touched. All the lights are off in the house with the exception of a dim light from the living room. I follow the dull glow because I'm certain that must be where Jack Henry is—if he's home.
And then worrisome thoughts begin to cross my mind. Maybe he isn't here. He could be out prowling for another woman because he thinks I'm leaving him. Or worse, I could find him with someone. He doesn't know I'm coming home, so he could be up to anything.
Shit! This is my fear speaking. Jack Henry isn't like that. He loves me.
I stand in the doorway of the living room and see him sitting in his chair. He's alone. I breathe a sigh of relief. He's holding a drink in his hand as he stares at the black screen of the television. He turns up the last of it and then places the glass on the end table next to him.
He's wearing jeans and a khaki button-down work shirt. His Indiana Jones hat is sitting on the table next to him, and I assume he's just come home since he's still wearing work attire.
He's oblivious to me standing there watching him, and I take advantage of the rare opportunity to admire his masculine beauty. I wish I could see his crystal blue eyes. I love the contrast of them next to his nearly black hair. His hair and eye color combination have always been my favorite, and I hope our children inherit that from him. In fact, I want them to look just like their father.
He must sense me watching because he turns to see me standing there looking at him. It's impossible to not see the surprise in his eyes. And the fear—at least that's what I think it is.
He doesn't get out of his chair to come to me. I'm nervous that I may have pushed him too far.
"L, why didn't you tell me you were coming home?" I'm not about to tell him I wanted him to be worried an extra day, but he saves me from replying. "I wish you'd called. I wouldn't have drunk this whiskey if I'd known."
"It's okay. We can still talk. A little bit of whiskey won't stop us."
"I don't know if the amount of whiskey I've consumed would qualify as a little bit—except maybe to an alco."
He may have slurred a little. "Are you hammered?"
"It's possible, but in my defense, I didn't have a reason not to be. I'm sorry, L. Now probably isn't the best time to talk this out—if that's what you're here for. If you came to say that you're leaving me, then I'm glad to have a head start on that bottle of Jack."
"I considered leaving you, but Addison made me see things I hadn't considered."
"And what did you come up with?"
I walk across the living room until I'm standing in front of him. "This is over."
I barely have the words out when he moves to the edge of his seat and reaches for me. He puts his arms around my body and pulls me forward. He squeezes me tightly. "Please, don't say that we're over. I will beg you from my knees if it's what you want, but please, don't end us."
"You didn't let me finish." He looks up at me. "You explained what happened with that woman. Yes, it was painful to hear, but no, you technically didn't wrong me because we agreed to never see one another again. I can't hold it against you, so it's over. There's no reason to discuss it further."
"Thank fuck! I've been going crazy these past few days." He stands and takes my face in his hands. "How many times do I have to almost lose you?"
"I don't know." I hold up my left hand. "You better hurry up and put the other part of that ring on my finger."
"Let's forget planning this wedding and do it tomorrow."
He may be drunk but I think he's serious. "We can't do that to Margaret. She'd be so disappointed."
"She'd get over it."
As much as I want to, I won't hurt Margaret that way. "It's less than three weeks away. We can wait."
He pulls me close. "You're positive I can't talk you into it?"
"Okay. I'll wait until the fourteenth to make you my wife, but I'm not waiting until then to have you under me."
He grabs my hand to lead me toward the bedroom and I swipe his hat from where it's sitting on the end table. "Why did you grab my hat?"
"Because I want you to wear it while you fuck me," I laugh. "You're drunk so I figure I can talk you into doing anything right now."
"Baby, I don't have to be drunk for you to talk me into doing something you want. I'll always give you anything you ask for." He stops to kiss me before we're in the bedroom. "You don't mind that I'm a little hammered?"
"No. It'll make it interesting. I like the things I can get out of you when you've been drinking. Plus, I love when you taste like whiskey. It turns me on."
"I've had a lot," he admits. "You might get drunk just kissing me."
"Caveman, you don't have to drink whiskey to intoxicate me. All I have to do is look at you and I'm love drunk."
I'm sleeping in the guesthouse tonight because Margaret McLachlan insists. She says I can't sleep with L. because I'm not supposed to see her the day of the wedding, but it's eleven o'clock so technically it's not the day of the wedding yet.
The McLachlan women are in the house patrolling all entrances to prevent me from getting to my bride, but they didn't count on my persistence or my cleverness in removing the screen on the window to our bedroom earlier in the day when they weren't looking.
I sneak to the window and try to look inside but can't see a thing behind the blinds except for the dim glow of the bedside lamp. I listen for voices but all I can hear is L.'s guitar and soft voice. What is she doing singing and playing this late—the night before our wedding?
I lightly tap on the window and wait in vain for a response. Finally, I knock and then hear the sound of her music stop. A moment later, L. pulls up one of the blind's slats and then raises it. She unlocks the window and lifts it up. "What are you doing out there? Being a peeping Tom?"
"I wanted to see you."
"Yeah. That's what peeping Toms do." She lifts her brows at me. "You know your mom would have a fit if she knew you were outside this window."
And that's exactly why she needs to hurry up and let me in. "That's why I'm sneaking in."
She thinks I'm kidding. "Yeah. I haven't been with you in days because they've kept you so busy. I'm in withdrawals."