Drifting in and out of sleep was like shifting from one black void to another.
I didn’t dream anymore. It was all murky blackness. I didn’t ever seem to sleep for long or sleep very deep before something woke me.
Sometimes it was memories.
Sometimes it was that night.
But it was always something.
Last night, though, I took a stand for myself and I said no more storage room.
I know they tried, but that’s all it was, and I wanted my own bed.
Great idea in theory, so I waited until everyone was asleep, and I snuck out. It took me forever to climb the stairs, but after having done it at the spa, I knew I could, and that emboldened me.
However, two sets of stairs in as many days may also have done me in.
The worst part was that it was all for nothing, because the second I saw this place, Rafe came back to me. The apartment was filled with his memories. I saw him in everything. The couch we bought together at the flea market brought back a flood of flashes of watching old black and white classics together. The espresso machine in the kitchen reminded me of his fussy coffee drinks. The bed…
I shivered when I saw it. I don’t know why I ever thought I’d be able to sleep in it. I would have slept in the guest room, but that’s where Nora had taken up residence. So it was my bed or the sofa, and I didn’t want to be obvious. There was some comfort in the familiarity of my room. Of the peach accent wall, my violets that Nora must have been caring for, my stuffed animal collection that a woman of my age should be embarrassed
~ 1 ~
by, but I wasn’t. But nothing brought absolute solace because nothing got rid of Rafe.
I’d tried shutting him out, but his energy persistently pushed in on me, crippling me and blocking any light from actually reaching my soul.
“Oh my God, I found her!” Charlotte’s screech was the last straw on my attempt at sleep. “She’s in her room!”
By the time I groaned and rolled over, the room was full of faces staring at me like I’d grown another head.
“Oh, thank God.” Nora’s voice cracked. “Sabrina, we were scared to death!”
I groaned and sank further down under the covers.
It wasn’t as if I didn’t know everyone in the room. It was Nora, and Charlotte, and Jack, and Gwil, Sheppy our line cook, Tewksbury, and so on, but I was not in the mood to see any of them.
In the days since I’d come home, most of them hovered like mother hens in one way or another. Constantly checking on me all hours of the day and night. Asking what I wanted, or needed. And the answer was always the same… to be left alone.
“Hey, Nora, why don’t you go make everyone some breakfast. It’s been a long night.” Jack pushed. “And Charlotte, you could let everyone know she’s fine.”
I refused to come out from under the blankets. Maybe they’d all disappear like mist in the sunlight.
“Glad you’re okay, Sabrina.” Tewksbury spoke before leaving, the last of the three to exit at Jack’s urging.
I poked my head through the covers and waved at him, sheepishly. Tewksbury was no stranger to the catalog of my best and worst moments, yet embarrassment still crept in as I studied his kind face, and wondered if I wasn’t projecting a little disappointment into his expression of concern and relief. Jack closed the door behind them all and came over and sat down on the bed.
~ 2 ~
“You’re not going to lecture me, are you?” I was hoping the death glare would make him think better of it if he was.
“When do I ever lecture?” He seemed appalled.
“Hmmm.” I was sure I recalled some lectures over the years, but I just rolled my eyes and sat up more in the bed.
“How’d you do on the stairs?” He asked, with concern, but not patronizing me.
I groaned from the memory.
“It was awful. I think they may be steeper than the ones at the spa. But I was determined.” I gave him a smirk and folded my arms across my chest.
Jack’s usually pretty laid back. A real live and let live kind of guy. He was passionate about three things: God, astrology, and destiny. Those were usually the only things he’d argue you on.
“I’ve seen you accomplish crazy things when you’re determined. I’d know better than to stand in your way.” He stepped closer and rubbed his hand along my leg. “So how are you, and it’s me, so be honest. I’m not invested in your answer.”
I groaned and tried to slide back down the bed.
“Oh no you don’t. I’ve given you space, but you knew I’d come by and ask eventually.” He yanked my covers away.
I whined and kicked my feet like a spoiled brat throwing a tantrum.
“That helps, does it?” He tried to hide his amusement, but not by much.
“Oh, shut up.” I released a deep breath and faced the truth of my situation… Jack.
Nora and Charlotte, they’re my crew, my ride or die, my girlfriends, my best have a blast buddies. I love them and I’d do anything for them.
Gwil, he is the best shoulder to cry on, cheerleader, support system a person could ever hope for.
~ 3 ~
Jack… he knew me.
Plus, he was there that night.
I can’t hide from Jack.
It’s funny, I met him in an online chat room at the end of my marriage. We started up a hot and heavy flirtation that turned into a hot and heavy internet and phone sex thing, and that ended up being the reason I moved to Florida.
Not that I thought Jack was Prince Charming or anything, but he came into my life when I needed a life preserver and an anchor, and he willingly and intentionally became both for me. We were both so broke when we met, but we dreamed together. And yes, we had sex, but it was more than that. It wasn’t love, although I may have thought so for a minute. But it was true friendship and the first time I’d ever experienced that.
Plus, he was the only other person on Earth who knew as much about me and Rafe as I did.
Jack knows me, and for whatever reasons, he cares enough to not let me self-destruct. The problem with that was, I wanted to self-destruct. Therefore, his being there was very inconvenient.
“You can’t fix me.” I blustered, giving him way more attitude than he deserved.
“I don’t want to fix you.” He challenged my bluster.
We were at a weird stalemate.
He stood over my bed, arms folded in some form of a challenge to me, but I was too tired for games.
“I hear you met Raquel.” He made a blank statement.
“She was… interesting.” I tried to be neutral.
He poked my legs, suggesting I move over.
When I didn’t, he began to sit on them.
~ 4 ~
“Hey!” I squealed and moved just in the nick of time, gathering my floral quilt with me.
“Well, you should have moved.” He smiled. “Every time she sees me, she feels my earlobes as if she’s some Bajoran Kai checking my pagh.”
He shook his head, but I actually laughed at the visual conjured in my head.
“She, thankfully, did not check my pagh. She did keep rubbing her hands up and down my arms, though.” I remembered it, it was weird, but never uncomfortable, but I wasn’t telling Jack that part.
“Yeah, you got off easy.” He laughed, then silence set in again.
I dropped back against the headboard and looked up at the ceiling. It was a plain white ceiling, probably the only one in the apartment I hadn’t painted.
“So tell me how you’re really doing?” He nudged me with his shoulder as he sat beside me, legs stretched out, boots on my bed.
“I thought being home would make everything better. Then I thought being in my own bed would. But honestly, everything in this place reminds me of Rafe. I’m never going to get away from him.” I stared blankly up at the ceiling. “I don’t know how to handle everything, Jack. That night was awful, but then I come to find out that I lost consciousness, for four years and no one really knows why.
I brought my head up and looked at him, wondering if even he would be able to understand me.
“Good God, Jack, if my mother hadn’t let Nora be custodian, someone would have pulled the plug on me.” When I thought about all the ramifications, I was left a mixture of horror, anger, and sometimes regret. “Although who’s to say dead wouldn’t be better than this?”
Opening up, really honestly opening up, was allowing pain to break through the temporary walls I’d put up. Tears started rolling down my cheeks.
“Awww baby. Come here.” Jack tried to pull me into his arms, but I shoved him away hard.
“I would be better off if you all had let me die!” I screamed at him and
~ 5 ~
didn’t care who heard me. “This is fucked up, Jack!”
I cried and cried, kicked my legs, and shrieked up at the ceiling, wailing out all the frustration that I hadn’t dared allow to the surface because everyone would be so disappointed to know that this was how I truly felt.
“Why, Jack? How could he do that to me?” I howled like an animal, not really wanting or expecting an answer. I just needed the release. I screamed and curled into a ball on the bed, dragging the quilt into a pile with me.
He didn’t judge. He didn’t ask for anything, He just sat with me, while I came completely unhinged.
When I calmed down, without a word, he held me.
We sat in silence for a long while. There was nothing to say. He had no answers for my questions, and I had nothing to ask.
Eventually there was a soft knock on the door, but in that depth of silence it startled me, and I jumped and pulled away. I hurriedly wiped the tears from my face and shook my head, hoping it would make me a little more sober.
Jack got up from the bed and went for the door.
He looked back over his shoulder and whispered to me, “You look fine.”
I was sure that was a lie, but the way the room was structured, there was a tiny alcove at the door, and from the bed you didn’t get a good view of the door and vice versa.
“I brought some food. Is she okay?” It was Nora, her voice tight with worry.
“She’s okay. I’ll take this, and thank you.” Jack’s presence could be hard to argue with. Nora probably wanted to bring the tray in, but she didn’t stand a chance against his will.
The door clicked shut and he turned towards me with a tray and a big smile.
The food smelled amazing. I saw a teacup and a glass of juice, and she’d even put a flower on the tray.
~ 6 ~
“She should think of turning the place into a bed and breakfast.” I was only half joking.
Jack put the tray down over my legs. I didn’t think I was hungry, but the scent of eggs and toast made me instantly ravenous.
“I think she put lavender in the tea. I can smell it.” Jack observed as he poured a bit of cream in to top it off.
I started eating, and between the food and the cry, I was feeling human for a change. I ran my hands through my hair. From the long night and the tantrum, it was full of knots.
“It’s a lot to unpack, Sabrina, but you don’t have to do it alone.” Jack had gotten back in the bed beside me. Sitting atop the covers, he put his arm around me. “And you don’t have to do it overnight.”
I kept eating, but I was listening.
“But what if I don’t want to do it at all?” I talked around a bit of toast I’d ruthlessly pulled off with my teeth.
He chuckled softly and shrugged.
“I can’t imagine you won’t want to at some point. You can’t have changed that much.” He looked at me with a raised brow.
I supposed he was right, but I didn’t have to admit it. At least not at the moment.
“Do you have any physical symptoms, headaches, dizziness, exhaustion?” He seemed to be running a checklist.
“Exhausted yes. When did you get your medical degree, while I was sleeping?” I tried to make a joke out of it, but the joke hurt me.
Of course I’d missed four years of my own life, but more, I’d missed four years of everyone’s life, and I had no clue how to get caught up.
“I just want to get a feel for what we’re dealing with physically. I can’t imagine what we’re dealing with emotionally, but I do know we’ll handle it.” He seemed very arrogant, which could be his norm.
~ 7 ~
He often said to me it isn’t arrogant if it’s true.
Which often, with him, it was, because Jack was in a class all his own.
“I’m not your responsibility, Jack.” I reminded him as I ate the last bite of toast and sprayed breadcrumbs everywhere.
“Classy.” He rolled his eyes.
“Thank you.” I owned it.
We sat in silence again as I finished my food and tea. He drank the juice. We were like an old married couple who knew each other too well, and loved each other deeply, but there were no passions left to be had.
Which was really a shame because, if I’m honest, Jack was the best sex I’d ever had. It wasn’t otherworldly like with Rafe, but it was… oh my God did that man know what he was doing in bed and did he have the equipment to do it with!
I felt my cheeks heat at the memory and I suppressed a giggle.
“Miss Roberts, are you having impure thoughts?” He spoke like a prude, all judgment and condemnation.
Which only made me laugh more.
“Of course I am not, Mr. Cisneros.” I looked away, but I couldn’t suppress the smile.
It was the first moment I think I’d felt light since that night.
He kissed the side of my head.
“You always were a wicked woman, Sabrina.” His voice held the fondness of our memories.
“Only with you.” And that was the truth.
With my ex-husband, we’d been young and I was a virgin when we married. Sex was never anything to write home about. Jack was a revelation. Then Rafe, but there was so much there between us, that the lackluster physical act of the sex with him wasn’t an issue for me.
~ 8 ~
For just a moment, I actually considered whether I could find the whole package. Sex, companionship, and a soul partner.
But I immediately shut the thought down hard.
I would never, ever, ever get involved again with another man.
“So listen, Gwil and I have a standing date on Mondays to do the parks. I’m going to be out of town for two weeks, but we’re going Christmas eve.” He implored me with a hopeful gaze. “Go with us this year.”
“Excuse me?” I was sure I hadn’t just heard what it sounded like I heard.
“There is nothing more magical than Christmastime at the parks. I promise, you’ll have more fun than you can handle.” He gave me a look I ordinarily couldn’t refuse.
However, by parks, he meant Disney World and I was adamantly not interested.
~ 9 ~
Additional chapters can be found below.
The Memory of Magic ~ Samantha Lucas
What do you think about Jack?
I actually based him on two men I’ve known. One I dated, and one was just a friend. He’s an interesting combination of the two and I hope you’ll like him, because I adore him. And yes, Disney is starting to sneak in.
How could it not?
Over this year long journey with Sabrina and her friends, we’ll get to see quite a bit of Disney World, we may even see Disneyland in Anaheim, and in Paris, so stay tuned!
This story is my gift to the world, to remind us all of hope and love and that even crazy dreams come true… if we have the courage to pursue them.
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Blessings to you and yours, today and always, and thank you so much for playing in my story world with me! ~ Samantha