These Days-TickleMeOrange's Not Another Booksie Challenge?!

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is for TickleMeOrange's Not Another Booksie Challenge?!. We were allowed to pick a song, and had to include at least one line from the song in our story. My song was These Days by Rascal Flatts, so I hope you enjoy it! I'm not going to do a description, mostly because I don't think I'll do the songs words any justice. So I hope you enjoy!!

Submitted: July 16, 2009

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Submitted: July 16, 2009

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I laid in bed in the early morning hours, thinking about everything and anything, feeling oddly empty inside. I didn't know why the emptiness still surprised me; I'd been dealing with it ever since Jenna left. It's been six years since she left, and I still hadn't recovered. She'd been my everything, my love, and I would have done anything for her. Except leave town. Jenna had always had wild dreams about going away to a big town for college and then getting married and living the dream in a place like Los Angeles. I, on the other hand, had been perfectly content to stay here in the small, mile wide town and attend the community college while working my job and supporting the two of us. She'd chosen to leave though; leaving behind her family, friends, and me.

That was the what hurt the most though; she'd left me behind without a word, with only pictures and memories to remember her by. Six years later, I'd learned that after college she'd run off to Vegas and had married some hotshot rodeo cowboy and had a son. That wasn't the girl I knew. The Jenna I knew would have come back to me after college and would have had children with me, like we'd always dreamed. She traveled the world with her husband, and although I'd been a few places once or twice, it had mostly been just a few towns over to see my family or friends. While I was here in our little Alabama town, she was over in Vegas, preparing her husband's funeral. The only reason I knew about it was because it had made news everywhere, the announcement that Don Stewart had been killed in a fatal riding accident, where every bone in his body had been crushed beyond repair.

Sighing, I climbed out of bed and went to the kitchen, grabbing a beer from the fridge and popping the metal tab on it before walking out the front door and into the warm summer air. The sun was just beginning to peak over the horizon, and I looked down the road towards Doheney Avenue, where Jenna and I used to drive around checking out the bands late at night when we had nothing else to do. Like a radio was playing, the memory of Jenna and I listening to an old Kenny Chesney song as we laughed and joked and kissed and loved like nothing else. Popping my eyes opened, I went back in and poured my beer down the drain, disgusted with myself. I didn't want to reminisce about my days with Jenna, but I didn't want to be drunk at five thirty in the morning. Going back to bed, I fell asleep for fifteen minutes, then woke up to the sound of my alarm clock beeping, loud and consistent.

Slapping the 'off' button, I sat on the edge of my bed and covered my face with my hands before the teardrops came, falling down my face like rain, a reminder of everything I had and everything I'd lost. My teardrops dissolved into the cotton of my sweatpants, disappearing as quickly as they'd come. A few moments later, I stood and went to the bathroom for a shower, but stopped in my tracks when I got a look of myself in the mirror. My brown hair was a little too long, my blue eyes accompanied by dark purple circles, and there were frown lines etched into my forehead as I stared at myself in disdain. It's a wonder Jenna ever wanted me; I'm not a man. Men don't pine after women for six years; they find someone else. They find someone that wouldn't mind cooking and cleaning and making sure they had fresh socks. I didn't want any of that though. I wanted Jenna, my beautiful, lively Jenna, that hated cleaning and couldn't cook worth a damn and that told me that if I wanted clean socks I'd have to take care of them myself. Smiling softly at the memory of her sitting on the bed at my parents old place as she chided me for saying she should do the laundry for me, I hopped into the shower, but not before turning on the radio and listening to the local radio station play old country songs.

The warm water of the shower relaxed my muscles, but they immediately tensed back up when our song came on. The song that Jenna had claimed as ours. I Melt by Rascal Flatts. Personally, I'd always thought it was a pretty cheesy cheesiest country song, but Jenna had loved it, and that had been good enough for me. Now, though, the lyrics ripped open the stitches over my heart all over again and I shut off the radio before I could hear anymore, before the memories of dancing under the stars could take me over. Dressing in a white t-shirt tucked into my jeans, I pulled on my workboots and a red flannel before heading into my pick up truck, ready for yet another day of work.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Clocking out of work later that night, I hopped into my truck and drove away from my business, where I specialized in putting up fences and worked with my best friend Charlie. Pulling into the driveway at my home five minutes later, I went into the house, greeted by my German shepard Cat, who'd been sleeping when I left for work this morning. I'd gotten Cat two years ago, and he'd gotten his name mostly because I liked to confuse him. The name fit him perfectly though, because he had to be the laziest damn dog on the earth, and spent his days sleeping and eating.

Slipping out of my boots, I threw them in the corner before walking into the kitchen of my small, one room cabin and fixing myself a bowl of Trix, which was about the healthiest food I ever ate. Hey, it was fruit, and I was a six foot, twenty-four year old male that didn't need to grow anymore. Had my momma seen what I was eating, she'd have hauled me out of here by my ear and would have foced me to move back in with her and pop, where she'd feed me what she considered 'man food'; a baked potato, rib eye steak, and plenty of vegetables. She wasn't though, and neither was pop; they'd both died in a boating accident on the lake a few years ago, and now, besides Cat and my three sisters two towns over, I had no one. I didn't really like it that way, but I dealt with it. Finishing my food and sticking my bowl in the dishwasher, I laid out a plate of food for Cat and pressed the red flashing light on my answering machine like I'd been doing for the past six years, just in case Jenna had called. She never did though, and, feeling defeated, I went to my room and stripped to my boxers before climbing into bed and staring up at the ceiling, preparing myself for yet another lonely night sleeping alone in a big bed, all alone.

"Well, Jenna, you'd laugh if you saw me now, pining after you six years later, still holding out hope you'll come back," I spoke in a soft, bitter tone, the same one I used every night as I talked to no one. "I hope yo're having a good night, dreaming about your husband. I'll just be here in this sleepy ole' town, dreaming of you." And with that, I turned onto my side, closed my eyes, and fell asleep.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

A month later, I stood in the blazing hot sun, sweating as I set posts into the ground around the perimeter of Mick's Mechanics. My shirt was off, my hair was held back by a bandana tied around my head to dry my sweat, and I was wearing nothing but my workboots and jeans, a toolbelt slung low on my hips. Reaching down and grabbing my hammer, I started tapping in a nail, softly and first, then harder and harder until I saw the wood begin to crack. Collapsing to the ground, I closed my eyes and slapped my hand repeatedly against the dirt surrounding me for acres, leading a mile out in each direction from Mick's. He'd bought the land as an investment, and because his auto shop was so small, he'd wanted me to build a fence around the rest of the land so the teenagers couldn't sneak in and spary paint and fool around.

Resting my back against the post I'd just secured in the ground, I sighed and just sat in the sunshine, my eyes closed, just enjoying the peace. Opening my eyes and grabbing my water bottle, I drank thirstily before pouring the rest down my heated skin and settling back, eyes closed, prepared to rest for a few moments before getting back to work.

"Uh, John, I reckon you head on back to your house," a deep, masculine voice said, causing me to open my eyes and blink into the bright sunlight. Mick Rogers stood above me, casting a shadow over me, blocking out the sun.

"Naw, Mick, I'm almost done. I can have the rest of these fance posts up by the night, then I can come back Monday and start with the wire. I'm takin' the weekend off to go see my sister and nephews," I offered as an explaination as to why I wasn't working the weekend like I usually did.

"John, you're gonna wanna be gettin' on home. This ain't as important," Mick said, fidgeting and not looking me in the eye. My eyes narrowed and I immediately knew something was up. Mick was a straightforward guy and was pretty damn intimidating too, so for him to be avoiding my gaze, something big must be going on.

"Fine," I said after a few minutes in silence, and Mick just nodded his head before jogging away, back to the auto shop.

Standing and gathering my tools, I lugged everything back to my truck and threw it into the bed before pulling on my white t-shirt and freeing my curls from behind the red bandana I'd held them back with. Hopping into my truck, I called a goodbye to Mick, and I was on the main road to my house a momen later, wondering why he'd send me away.

"Damn fool, probably just wanted me gone so he could mess around with his wife," I mused, smiling at the thought of the older man and his wife, who'd been together for fifteen years. I wanted a love like that. Unfortunately, I didn't see it happening any time soon. I was stuck in traffic for an hour because the Maloney twins had wrapped their car around a telephone pole, and although they were both alright, the same couldn't be said for the coffee shop that used to stand next to it, now collapsed because the pole had fallen down on it.

When I finally arrived home, the sun was almost completely set, and I saw an unfamiliar Camaro sitting in my driveway. Who in town had a car as nice as a Camaro? No one I knew, that's for sure. Parking my truck and hopping down, I grabbed my flannel and tool belt and headed for my porch, but stopped in my tracks the moment I saw who was sitting there.

Jenna Stewart, the love of my life. The tool belt and shirt fell from my hands as I stood there staring at her, sure I was dreaming again. She wasn't really here. But then she jumped up and started toward me, and I knew this was no dream.

"John!" She said, her voice pouring through me like honey. She threw her arms around my shoulders and held me tight against her, standing on her tiptoes to reach me. I stood motionless as she held me against her, and every memory of the two of us together came flooding back, reminding me of everything from her favorite color to the way she always let out a small gasp when I kissed her.

A moment later she pulled back, and I just stared at her. She was curvier than she'd been when she'd left, and her hair was longer, but she was still the same old beautiful Jenna she'd always been. I wished she was mine for the millionth time, but when t came to Jenna, I knew I'd swung and I missed. Maybe if I'd told her I'd go away with her, things would be different. Now wasn't the time for those kind of thoughts though.

"Wow. You're hair got so long," was all I said, and Jenna chuckled before tucking a long strand behind her ear and blushing. Her beautiful hair the color of gold shimmered in the remaining bits of sunlight, and the pink blush staining her cheeks made me yearn for her.

"Yeah, well, it's been a while since I cut it."

"I s'pose so. So, um, do you wanna come in?" I asked uncertainly, bending down and picking up my shirt and toolbelt before walking up the porch steps and unlocking my door, pushing Cat back so that he wouldn't assaile Jenna. I glanced back at her, and I remembered one night we lay on a blanket under the stars, talking about what the future held for us. I remembered the pain I'd felt when she left and how I'd dreamed those dreams and wished those wishes that she'd be back. Now she was, and I had no idea what to do or say.

"What are you doing here, Jenna?" I asked tiredly, sitting down at the kitchen table.

"Well, it's been a while, and I've been sorting out life, but I've been doing alright, and it's just so good to see you," she fudged, not giving me a straight answer.

"Stop bullshitting, Jenna, tell me why the hell you're back here, messing with my mind!" I exploded, rising to my feet and slamming a hand on the table.

"I miss you," she whispered, her eyes glimmering with tears. I felt like an ass now. Nothing made me feel more ashamed than making a woman cry. If my pop were here, he'd give me a hard one across the backside.

"Yeah, it sure did seem that way when you didn't call for six years," I spit, walking away from the table and grabbing a can of dog food before setting it out for Cat.

"Listen, John. I was young and an idiot and I was charmed by Don. By the time I realized what a mistake I was making and that I wanted you back, I was pregnant and married two years. You can't just leave when you're in a situation like that. The biggest mistake of my life was not coming back after college, and I regret that every day of my life. I don't regret having Trace, but I do regret not having him with you. I just want a chance, John. Let me show you that I still love you and that I can be the woman you want. I'll cook, clean, hell, I'll even iron your socks! Just please, let me be a woman you can love and be proud of." I watched as tears slid out of her pretty brown eyes, and before I could stop myself, I closed the distance between us and crushed her to my chest, comforting her and holding her in a way that signaled I'd never let her go.

"I don't want anyone to cook for me or to make sure the house is clean, and I sure as hell don't want my socks ironed. All I want is you. You're all I've ever wanted, all I'll ever want, all I'll ever need. I want you and Trace and more babies. These years without you have been a nightmare, Jenna, and these days, all I've been thinking about is you. So catch a plane home, get Trace, and come back here and marry me. Because I love you, and I want to be with you until I die."

"You still love me, John Hughes?" She whispered, looking into my face, eyes uncertain but holding a glimmer of hope in them.

"Yeah. Yeah, I love you. I really do. So be my wife Jenna, and never leave me ever again," I said, my voice breaking, thick with tears I was holding back.

"Of course. Because John, these days, all I want is you." Then she stood up on tiptoe and gave me a kiss filled with a moment of hesistation, six years worth of passion, and a lifetime of love.


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