It was a sunny, summer morning in the city of Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Until the farthest ends of where the eye could see, the tall buildings surrounding the almost empty streets where bathed in the rich golden light of the August sun. It was always like that in Atlanta; no people walking around the streets and instead occupying the nearest coffee shops for a refreshing drink, that would fight the suffocating heat back until night would grace the lands, bringing along with her the cold breeze of summer nights. You could almost breathe in the humidity lying around like a veil of water hidden in the air, but it was exactly what was needed for the rich flora to thrive and shine inside the hot summer days.
Like the greenest bouquet of lilies of the valley, in the hands of a four year old girl walking down the streets with the biggest smile on her little face. Her white dress was falling loosely around her small figure, reaching down to her knees and matching perfectly with the white shoes she was wearing. One of her hands held a tight grip around the bouquet and the other one was safely wrapped inside the hand of a blonde man walking right beside her. He was probably around 30 years of age, with a rich mane of blonde hair, matching whiskers gracing his jaw line and a muscular build that made him look intimidating. Yet, if you looked inside his soft brown eyes, you would find no malice or ill-will resting inside. On the contrary, only kindness and love shone behind them, as he smiled at the little girl who skidded down the road right beside him. They were the only ones defying the heat and walking casually, heading towards a destination that would otherwise be avoided.
‘Are we gonna see mommy? I miss ‘er so much.’ the little girl chirped, bringing the flowers to her nose and sniffing a bit.
‘I’m sure mommy misses you too Des.’ Greg smiles a sorrowful smile at the little girl who is oblivious to the man’s careful gaze as they walk.
‘I hope she likes the flowers! I pick’d dem up myself from the yard today.’
‘Really? Did Lucky help you out with it?’ Greg chuckles at the thought of the energetic dog of the family, running around the yard and always playing with Des.
They had found him on the street one rainy day of January, malnourished and freezing to death. Still, the vibrant German shepherd dog had its spark inside of it and came around playing with the small girl who immediately loved it. Needless to say, they could not go home without it or hell itself would break loose. Des and Lucky were inseparable from then onwards, with the dog guarding her with his everything if it came down to it. Gabby had made sure to provide him with the necessary vaccines and the two of them were left alone to play to their hearts’ content. They had not reached their limits even after so many months. Des was always a happy-go-lucky and kind child, so seeing her laugh, smile and play with her very first friend was a delight for the whole family.
Des literally beamed at the mention of her best friend with a tail ‘He did! He was the one to find th’m.’
‘I’m sure he did.’ Greg laughed and messed the girl’s hair tenderly ‘So how are things going with your new babysitter? Is she being mean to you in any way?’
Des’s big blue eyes filled with amusement as they turned to gaze at Greg ‘Of ‘ourse not! Mon-mon is the best ever!’ the little girl declared, folding her tiny hands over her chest ‘She’s so much fun and makes da best pizza.’
‘Do you scare her as you did with the last one?’ Greg smiled a devious smile, blowing a small kiss to the girl who in response, chuckles.
‘She’s not easy to scare. Yet.’ She shrugs ‘I placed toothpaste in her Oreo’s as aunt Sam taught me, but she didn’t leave.’
‘Maybe you can try replacing salt with sugar and get Monica place it in her coffee.’ Greg raises his eyebrows slyly.
‘I will! Thanks!’
‘And if she says anything to you, make sure to tell me okay?’
‘~Okay!’ Des chirps.
The duo took a sharp turn to the right and passing through a huge metal gate that arced over their heads, they moved towards the huge building resting in the middle of the entire block. Passing among the huge trees that surrounded the path, Greg had to listen to the constant rambling of the little girl, yet in no way was he bored by it. She was a delight and her happy aura was infectious. Both of them had been visiting this specific building for a month now and surely enough, it always left Greg with a chill going down his spine. Not that there was something to be afraid of, but thinking of all the things that happened in the last few months was enough to leave the man with a sense of worry in the back of his mind.
‘We’re almost there! Let’s hurry up!’ Des chirped and tugged on Greg’s hand, urging him to walk faster.
Greg frowned a bit ‘Des, keep your voice down will ya? We must be quiet around here.’
‘But I want to see mommy! Hurry up! I command you!’
Greg smiled apologetically to some girls passing by and looking at them, struggling to keep up with Des, as the kid was almost running in the corridor ‘Des, ya know, you are a bit bossy.’
In response he kid threw him a sassy glare and a smile to accompany it ‘Of course I am!’
Greg rolled his eyes exasperatedly and released his grip around her tiny hand, allowing her to pretty much eject herself forward, running as fast as her little legs could allow her to. Her long hair flowed behind her and she placed her everything in running, passing by various people roaming the corridors. The man had no problem following her, only by quickening his steps a bit and apologizing for all the commotion Des was causing, yet receiving only kind smiles and small chuckles. And Des was running forward; her heart was pounding loudly against her chest and her smile growing with each step she took, getting closer to her destination. She let her excitement course through her veins, energizing her very being and her chuckle reverberated merrily around the corridors as she threw her hands in the air; before she even knew it, she was standing right in front of a towering white door. Her little hands threw themselves on the doorknob and turning it, she wasted no time in waiting for Greg as she pushed it open widely.
And right behind the huge door, a hospital room appeared.
It was vast, probably a lot bigger than any other room inside the hospital, with the only exception being the ICU. Still, it was occupied solely by a single hospital bed, resting on the right side of the room, right across the small TV and the nightstand, which was decorated with a vase filled with anemones. On the far back of the room stood a huge window-wall, which was open to the side, allowing the faint summer breeze enter the room. Surrounding the hospital bed were almost thousands of medical care units, such as a cardiographer, an IV and many more which were not easily recognized for their use. The walls and the floor were painted in a faint pinkish color and the whole room reeked with the smell of medicine mixed with the discreet scent the anemones gave off, making it feel remotely cozy if that was ever possible.
Yet, the room was not completely empty from life.
Right beside the medical bed stood a tall 30-year-old man, with the most vibrant auburn colored hair that anyone had ever seen. They reached just a bit further down his earlobes and were in casual disarray, framing his face gracefully, pointing out his sapphire blue eyes that were focused on the papers he was holding in his hands. He was lean but fairly muscular, with the doctor’s pure white attire further pointing out the contrast of his natural colors, making him look a bit pale but still breathtaking. He was scribbling down furiously, but as the small girl entered the room, his eyes darted up and towards her, allowing a big smile adorn his face the moment he saw the little girl.
‘Destiny, how many times have I told you to knock first before you enter?’ he gently scolds the little girl, but the smile never wavers from his lips.
‘Oh, come on Jack, don’t be so hard on her; she was just too excited. Isn’t that right honey?’ another voice mutters weakly, but surely, squeezing the protruding hand of the doctor with whatever powers it had left. Jack’s eyes turn and soften a bit more, before he simply shrugs and rests the papers to the side.
Des beams a wide smile ‘That’s right mommy!’
You laugh ‘Come here sweetheart; give me a hug.’
Patting the empty space on the bed right beside you, you watch as Des literally darts towards you, using her small hands to climb the tall bed before she throws herself towards you, wrapping her hands around your neck with all her power. Immediately, you hug her petite figure and you caress her (h/l) (h/c) hair which was a perfect match with your own. Nobody needed the accelerated beating of the cardiographer to know that your heart was speeding up as you hugged your daughter with all the power you had, seeing her for the first time in a month. As Des leans back, you give her a tender kiss in the forehead, looking at her beautiful face with nothing but admiration. Who cared that the tubes connected with your hands pained you? You had more urgent matters to attend to.
‘I missed you honey.’ You admit, brushing a stray lock of hair behind her ear. She looked so beautiful with her hair down like that and her big blue eyes; she was the spitting image of Jack, with the only exception being her vivid (h/s) (h/c) hair which were exactly like yours.
‘These are for you, mommy!’ she exclaims, giving you a bouquet of Valley lilies ‘Me and Lucky picked them up for you!’
You raise your eyebrows ‘They are beautiful! Thank you my love.’
‘Are you behaving well with Monica, Destiny? I hope you are not playing any pranks with her, just like we talked about.’ Jack interrupts the two of you, sitting on your bed and messing the girl’s hair back to the disarray you had fixed.
Des pouts adorably, folding her hands over her chest ‘Of course not daddy! But uncle Greg taught me a new trick with the sugar and the salt!’
The moment these words leave Des’s mouth, an irritated glare passes through Jack’s majestic characteristics and he snaps his head towards Greg who raised his hands in surrender and backed away a bit, nodding with his head.
‘I warned her not to do it, Jack, I swear.’ He chuckles nervously ‘And you little elf, you give me out like that?’ he says to Des who takes her tongue out mockingly, making you laugh for the first time in a really long while.
Jack though, was not amused at all ‘Am I going to have to find another damn babysitter Greg? First Sam and now you, I swear I’m going to make you lot babysit her.’
‘You know Gabby would not oppose that at all. I swear she could kick me out of the house if she wanted to babysit Destiny and had no space to do so. And Sam is the one to blame you know; she taught the little squirt all the tricks.’ Greg rolls his eyes, pulling a spare chair and sitting next to your bed.
‘I will have a talk with her later, rest assured. Is Gabby coming over?’ Jack asked.
Greg nodded ‘Later on. She still has a few matters to take care of in the animal shelter, but since _______ is awake, she is going to drop by later.’
‘Don’t worry yourself too much Jack. I’m going to come out of the hospital in a few days and I’ll take care of Destiny, just like before.’ You try to pacify him, rubbing his hand with your thumb in a reassuring way.
It seemed to work; Jack turned his eyes towards you and breathed in, before raising your entwined hands and softly placing a kiss on them, making your thoughts go blank for a split second. Even after so many years, he still took your breath away.
‘You should rest ______. I told you, I will take care of things and I’m keeping my promise.’ He steadily declared.
You chuckle weakly ‘What would I do without my loving husband?’
Reaching out your hand, you cup the side of his face as the man leans in and places a loving kiss on your lips, with you cherishing the moment with everything you had; it was these small and extremely valuable moments which you cherished in your broken heart. Why? Because you had reached the end of Life so suddenly and so closely, that coming back from the literal dead was simply a miracle as the rest of the doctors called it. Yet, was a miracle performed solely by Jack himself.
Life was never too easy for you.
After Jack left for college, you had to focus on your studies the harder you could in order to follow his path, pushing through the abuse and neglect you were receiving from your mother and stepfather. It was Jack that was keeping you going strong and determined, even if he was far away and you couldn’t see him as much as you’d like. That was until you managed to get accepted to the very same university. Both of you were overjoyed and finally able to start your lives away from what was holding you back all this time, being free to enjoy one another to its fullest, allowing your pure love bloom. That was, until you were diagnosed with Aortic Stenosis on your twentieth birthday. You did notice way before that, that there was something wrong going on with you, since you were growing tired more easily, panted a bit more than before and couldn’t run as much as you did, but the diagnosis was what confirmed your worst fears. Earth was lost under you; you didn’t know what you were going to do! You could not leave Jack alone! You simply could not die!
Jack was adamant about it as well; you were not going to die.
So, your beloved boyfriend studied the best and hardest he could, becoming the best cardiologist in Georgia. He knew that a transplant was the only way to save you and he did whatever was in his power to be the one to do the transplant. After both of you graduated, you got married in a small chapel next to the forest, with Greg being your best man and Gabby with Sam being your bridesmaids. Your grandmother bought you a nice house in the suburbs of Atlanta and you were as happy as you could ever be. Especially when, a few months later, Destiny came in your lives. As it was expected, Jack was the best father for your little girl and you were doing your best to be the best mom you could ever be. You were all happy. You were overjoyed and living your lives with pure love. Your heart was steady for
a few years, giving you the false impression that everything was going to be alright.
Up until you had a heart attack in the middle of a picnic, two months ago.
Jack rushed you to the hospital, carrying you and running there; he spared no thought on what he was supposed to do. He simply grabbed you and ran. The rest of the doctors immediately placed you in ICU, before they started searching furiously for a compatible heart and thankfully for you, they did just a few weeks later. Jack insisted on performing the surgery, but even like that, you almost died on that surgery table. Your new heart took more than expected to start beating and you could swear you saw a bright light flashing before you, with your father’s face appearing in the distance, smiling kindly to you. Thankfully for you though, Jack did the impossible and brought you back.
Now, you were spending your days in the hospital, getting better and better with each heartbeat. You were going to be alright. You were going to live a long, happy life with Jack and give him even more children. Seriously, the man was simply the best with Destiny and it was adorable to watch.
‘So who was the one to give our little ____ here a heart?’ Greg popped up as you and Jack broke the kiss, continuing to stare lovingly at each other.
Jack rolled his eyes ‘Greg, I am not allowed to reveal that.’
‘Come on Jack, I am sure you can make an exception for us.’ You flash him one of your special smiles, knowing he could not resist it. And surely enough, you see his shoulders loosen.
‘If I tell you, I’m going to get myself fired.’
‘We will not let that happen. Right Greg? Either way, I am curious as well.’ You admit slyly.
You keep your steady gaze fixated on Jack, who stares you back with his blue eyes, not wavering for a bit. But you knew him all too well to not yield him. Using one of your hidden tricks, you grace him with a devious, playful smile, the one he claimed Destiny had inherited from you and used when she made babysitters live a living hell. It was the smile that made him do anything you wished, but you didn’t use it too much; last time you did, Destiny popped out a few months later. A few silent moments pass and eventually, Jack sighs, surrendering. Mentally, you high-fived yourself.
‘You and I Greg have heard of her you know.’ He starts, turning to gaze at his best friend ‘It’s Jenny Smith.’
If you were a cartoon character, a small question mark would appear hovering over your head, but the same couldn’t be said for Greg, who almost jumped out of his chair.
‘The cult-freak?’ he exclaims and Jack nods.
‘She was killed in a car accident a few months back and her parents donated her organs.’ Jack admitted.
Greg’s eyes were almost ready to pop out of his skull at that point ‘The same Jenny that flirted with you and invited you in her creepy-ass cave with her friends?’
A pinch of jealousy flashes through your heart ‘She flirted with you Jack?’
The man nods ‘Thank God I didn’t go though. Who would know what could have happened.’
‘But she did flirt with you.’ you narrow your eyes on your husband, never failing to notice that your grip around his hand had turned steely, squeezing him as hard as you could.
Jack swallowed hard and even Greg noticed that the temperature in the room dropped a few degrees; it was his heads-up to leave you alone and take Destiny along.
‘Des love, how about we go get some ice-cream huh? Leave mom and dad alone or a bit?’ Greg shoots up from his chair, grabbing the petite girl and throwing her over his shoulder like it was nothing, with her giggling happily ‘It’s going to get nasty in here.’
‘______, it was nothing, I swear.’ Jack turns even paler than before and you could almost see his panicked eyes switching from you to the retreating form of Greg, who literally dashed out of the room.
Jack was mentally screaming for help, but you were not going to let him go anywhere.
Which only made him bathe in cold sweat.
‘She flirted with you?’ you say.
‘Y-yes.’ He admits, squeezing your hand to reassure you. You were scaring him and you knew it.
‘But you didn’t fool around with her right?’
‘Of course not!’ he declares ‘She was not you. That is the biggest problem with all the women in this world. They are not you.’ raising your entwined hands, he kisses them once again and you notice your wedding rings flash with a golden glow in the bright summer light.
It was these declarations coming out of your soulmate’s lips, that made your heart and mind melt away under the heat of his declarations. Smiling brightly, you raise your hand to grab his collar and pulling him closely, the both of you kiss deeply. Your lips half open and your tongue welcomes his own, as Jack leans in towards you, wrapping his sturdy hands around your delicate form with extreme care and love. Your heart pounded loudly against your chest and you could actually feel his own, beating at the same pace; it was perfect. Each kiss, each touch you shared was as heated and as perfect as the very first one, filled with love and longing, as if by merely standing next to each other and not touching created a longing that was unable to be withstood. That was what perfect love felt like; it blew your heart and mind away and left you unable to breathe if your lips were not met with your loved ones. It was as if you were bound to see the world as black and white, except in the cases where you and your loved one touched and kissed one another. The kind of love great writers write about and poets can only hope for. It had surpassed the limits of Life and Death, leaving only your undying love behind. You knew that no matter where you were, who or what you were, you were going to love this man just as much as you did now. And nothing could ever stand in your way. Not even the Gods above.
Breaking the kiss, Jack inhales a sharp breath ‘I love you. I loved you in the past, I love you now and I will always love you, in this life and into the next one. Nothing will ever stop me from finding you over and over again.’ He repeats his wedding vows, breathlessly, quietly, bringing tears to your eyes.
‘I will always love you, and I will always wait for you; into this life and into the next ones. You are my best friend, my lover, my soul and heart. Nothing will ever bring us apart and Death is only a little dust under our feet. I love you Jack.’ You repeat your vows as well.
Your lips meet once again and both of you melt into one another.