Jack pulled up to the old house, parked his jeep and walked up the wooden steps.
"Uncle Jack!" a young boy yelled as he ran onto the porch and hugged the man.
"Hey Chester, how you doin'?" he said with a smile.
"Great! You lookin' for mama?"
"Sure am son."
"She's just out back, on the porch."
Chester ran back into the steps, making sounds of gunfire and fighting. Jack smiled to himself. That kid was gonna be trouble one day.
He walked through the familiar house, glancing at the family photos on the wall. "Family" wasn't technically the correct term, but he felt like he belonged to this one. He went through the kitchen and out the back door where he saw her sitting on the wooden bench he had made a few summers ago.
"Jack," she smiled and stood, giving him a warm hug.
"Hey Annie. How you doin'?"
"We're doin' well Jack. How was the big city?"
"Awe, y'know. Big and city-like."
Annie laughed softly and Jack's stomach fluttered.
They sat back down on the bench and Annie took a sip of the coffee in her hands.
"So are you gonna take the job down there?" Annie asked after a moment.
"I dunno. I don't think it's the right fit for me, y'know?"
"Oh, come one Jack! Don't be like that. You have been waiting for this opportunity all your life. Hell, since high school you've been wanting to leave."
"But I can't, Annie," Jack sighed and looked down at his intertwined fingers.
"Oh yeah?" Annie shook her head. "Give me one good reason why you can't leave this town and make a name for yourself?"
"Because…" Jack began, then fell short.
"Uh huh?" Annie looked at him for a few more seconds before shaking her head again. "Didn't think so."
As she took another sip of her coffee, Jack looked back up to her. Her light brown hair had turned yellow with the sun shining through it and he smiled at the way she had put it up in a ponytail but had left a strand loose, hanging down beside her ear.
Annie put the mug down on the arm of the bench and Jack took in a deep breath.
"I can't leave because…" he tried again. Annie looked at him with one eyebrow raised.
"I can't leave because of you," he finished quickly.
"What?" Annie asked abruptly. "What do you mean because of me?"
"Because I promised Luke I'd stay!"
"Luke?" Annie stood. "Luke's been gone for ten years! He left when he found out I was pregnant with Chester, and you're the one who stayed to help. Why do you care about a promise you made to him ten years ago?"
"Because I care about you, Annie." Jack stood then as well and took a step towards Annie.
"What do you mean, Jack?"
"I mean," Jack took another deep breath. "I mean, I stayed because I love you."
"Really?" Annie asked and Jack couldn't tell whether she was happy or upset.
Jack took another step towards Annie, until they were almost touching. And then he slowly bent his head towards hers, giving her plenty of time to walk away. To leave like he never did.
But she didn't. She stayed. And when his lips touched hers she stayed as well.
They stood there for a minute and Annie felt happy, standing there with their lips together. She moved her hands to his chest and Jack tensed, afraid she might push him back. But instead she pulled him closer, and she began to move her lips.
Jack's strong arms circled around Annie's waist and he kissed her back, softly and slowly, not wanting to go anywhere or do anything else.
"Alright darlin', you ready for bed?" Annie called up the stairs to Chester.
"Ya mama. I'm ready!" he called back.
Annie put down the shirt she had folded and climbed up the stairs and down the hall to Chester's bedroom.
She found him in bed already, tucked in with his bedside light on.
Annie sat on the edge of Chester's bed and brushed his hair back from his forehead.
"Well then. You sleep good then, ya hear?"
Chester nodded and his eye lids dropped slightly.
"Goodnight pumpkin." Annie kissed his forehead, and turned off his lamp. She stood and walked to the door, almost out of the room when she heard Chester's voice.
"Mama, I like Uncle Jack y'know."
"Yeah, I know sweetie."
"So I don't mind if you wanna marry him or something."
"What honey?" Annie asked, a little confused.
"Well, I saw you two kissin', and I just wanted to say that it's okay with me if you marry him. He's better than any other guy you've been with."
"Chester Lee! Watch your mouth boy," Annie scolded him.
"Sorry ma'. It's just that I want you to marry Uncle Jack. I do."
Annie smiled to herself, millions of possibilities floating through her head.
"Well I guess we'll see what tomorrow brings," she said softly before closing the door behind her and going downstairs to finish the laundry.