Here we are, another Men of Honor Monday and it’s another long one for you all. It seems I can’t help myself. Lol!
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it. I fell in love with Jaxson all over again, maybe even more than the first time and I didn’t think that was possible.
Please note this is unedited.
A day that Jaxson & Annabelle will never forget
Ready to head home, I glance around the gym looking for Annabelle, feeling bad that I was longer than I said I would be. With Julia being gone all weekend on her girl’s trip, today was supposed to be just us but I had to come in and take care of a few things first. Now that I’m ready she’s nowhere in sight.
“Hey, have you seen Annabelle?” I ask Dexter, one of the fighters Slade is training.
“Nah man, I haven’t seen her since you guys first got here.”
Frowning, I start back to my office, wondering if I missed her on my way out but find she’s not there. After doing another scan around the gym, I head to our personal locker room and stick my head in. “Hey, Belle, you in here?”
When I get no reply I turn to leave and that’s when she finally answers. “Yes.”
The small sound of her voice instantly puts me on alert. Walking in, I find her sitting on one of the benches in the back corner, her tiny shoulders slumped and face buried in her hands.
“Hey, baby, what’s wrong?” I drop down in front of her, trying to see her face but she hides it from me. It takes my concern up another level. “Are you okay, Annabelle? Did someone hurt you?”
I swear, I’ll fucking kill them.
She shakes her head.
“Then tell me what’s wrong.”
“I can’t,” she whispers, ripping my heart out.
“Of course you can. You can tell me anything, you know that.”
We’re tight. Always have been. She’s never kept anything from me.
“I can’t, Dad. Not this. I need mom.”
“Well mom isn’t here. She’s not back until tonight. So you don’t have a choice. Tell me, Annabelle, so I can help you,” I demand, my voice firmer.
She finally lifts her face to mine, her tear-filled eyes gutting me from the inside out.
“What is it? What happened?” I ask, feeling more panicked by the second.
“I got my period,” she cries, hiding her face again.
Every muscle in my body stills, stunned silence filling the air between us.
What. The. Fuck?
I remain frozen, at a loss for words.
How is that even possible? She’s only twelve for christ sakes. Isn’t that supposed to happen when she’s like…twenty?
When her shoulders begin to shake with her sobs, I snap out of myself and wrap my arms around her. “Shh, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.”
“No it’s not. It’s humiliating and I don’t know what to do.”
Jesus. I don’t fucking know either.
“I don’t know if any of my friends have had theirs yet,” she adds. “I’m too embarrassed to ask them.”
“Okay. Just…sit tight and wait here. I’m going to go call your mother. Don’t worry. We’ll figure this out.” Jumping to my feet, I start away when she calls out to me.
I spin back around to face her, my heart pounding like a fucking drum.
“Don’t tell anyone, okay?”
I nod. “Don’t worry, I won’t.” Bolting into my office, I dig my cellphone out of my pocket, my hands shaking as I dial Julia. It rings a half dozen times only to give me her voicemail.
“This is Julia, leave a message after the beep.”
“Call me, it’s urgent…” I’m about to hang up but then bring the phone back to my ear. “Like really fucking urgent… Okay, I love you. Bye.”
Hanging up, I begin pacing, wondering what the hell I’m going to do. Sawyer strolls through the door, stopping in his tacks when he takes in my distressed state. “What the hell is wrong with you? You look like you’re about to hurl.”
Grabbing his shirt, I yank him all the way in and shut the door behind him. “I need your help.”
His eyes narrow in concern. “Okay, what’s wrong?”
“Can you try calling Grace? I can’t reach Julia.”
Frowning, he pulls out his phone. Seconds later, he shakes his head. “It’s her voicemail. Why? What the hell is going on? Is she in trouble?”
“No. It’s Annabelle. She…” Crossing my arms, I blow a deep breath as I try to say the words. Words I am not ready for and neither is she.
Jesus, I think I’m going to be sick.
“What, man? Spit it out?”
“Has Hope had her…period yet?”
He steps back, his eyes bugging out of his head. “Hell no. Dude, she’s not even eleven for fuck sakes. That shit doesn’t happen until they’re like…eighteen or something.”
“Well apparently not because Annabelle just got hers.”
His jaw drops and eyes widen further. “Whaaat?”
I nod. “It’s true. She’s in the locker room crying right now and I don’t know what the hell to do. Why did this have to happen the one time Julia leaves? I mean, out of all the fucking days.”
“Do you want me to call my mom? She’ll know what to do.”
“No. Not yet. I told Annabelle I wouldn’t say anything. She’s really embarrassed about it.”
The door swings open and Cade walks in. He comes to a stop when he sees Sawyer and me. “What?”
I quickly realize I might have help yet. Pulling him the rest of the way in, I close the door again, making sure no one can hear us. “I need to ask you something.”
“Okay,” he says, looking back and forth between Sawyer and me.
He shrugs. “What, you want to know the size of my dick or something?”
Sawyer chuckles, finding his dry humor hilarious. Usually I would too but not this time. There is nothing funny about this situation at all.
“This is serious.”
At my abrupt tone he crosses his arms and gives me his full attention. “All right. What is it?”
“Has Ruthie…Uh…did she…”
“He wants to know if she’s had her period yet,” Sawyer says, blurting out the words I can’t seem to say.
Cade stiffens, his feet shifting uncomfortably. “Yeah why?”
“Really? How long ago?” Sawyer asks, genuinely curious.
Cade glares at him. “None of your fucking business.”
I cut back in before we get off track. “Look, I need to know what you did. Annabelle just got hers and I don’t know what to do. I can’t get a hold of Julia.”
“Well don’t look at me. I don’t know what to do.”
“But you just said—”
“Yeah but Faith dealt with that shit not me. Hell, I think the kid was more upset about it than I was. We just pretended it never happened and watched the baseball game together.”
“Can you try Faith or Ruthie on their cell phones?” I ask. “Both Julia and Grace aren’t picking up.”
He tries with no luck and shrugs apologetically. “Faith did say they were going to the movies today before heading home.”
“Yeah, I was hoping they would be out by now.”
“So what are you going to do?” Sawyer asks.
“I don’t know. I’ll take her to the drug store I guess and buy her…whatever the hell she needs and go from there. Hopefully Julia will call by then.”
“Good luck, man,” Cade says, clapping me on the back.
“Thanks.” Pulling myself together, I head back to the locker room.
No more freaking out Reid. You’ve dealt with battle zones before you can handle your daughter getting her fucking period.
Jesus, just saying it has my stomach churning. She’s a baby, how the hell did this happen to her already? It’s bullshit. Complete bullshit.
Entering the locker room, I find her in the same spot I left her but thankfully she’s stopped crying.
“Did you get a hold of mom?” she asks, looking at me hopefully.
I shake my head.
Her small shoulders slump, making my chest constrict. I pull her to stand and wrap my arms around her. “Don’t worry. We’ll figure this out.”
“How?” she mumbles into my chest.
“We’ll head to the drugstore and hopefully by then we’ll hear from mom.”
“And if not?” she asks.
“Let’s deal with it when the time comes but make no mistake, Annabelle. It will be okay. I promise. I’ll take care of you.”
“Come on.” With my arm around her shoulders, we walk out and start for the door. She keeps her head down, avoiding eye contact, even to the people saying bye to her.
Sawyer catches up to us just before we make it out. He places his hand on her shoulder and gives it a squeeze. “Hang in there, kid. Everything is going to be okay.”
My eyes close in defeat.
I swear to god I’m gonna kill him.
“You told him?” Annabelle shrieks, looking up at me in horror. “You promised, you wouldn’t say anything.” Before I have a chance to explain she runs out the door crying.
“You asshole!” I snap, sending a blow his shoulder.
“What the hell did I do?” he asks, rubbing the wound. “I was just trying to be nice.”
“I told you she didn’t want anyone knowing.”
“Well I’m not just anyone. I’m her uncle for fuck sakes.”
“So. She didn’t even want me knowing, you dick. Jesus!” I shove him again only to get shoved back.
“I’m sorry, all right. I was just trying to help. I’ll go apologize.”
I grab him as he moves for the door. “No. Just leave it alone. She’s embarrassed enough.”
“Fine,” he grumbles.
It’s obvious he feels bad—which he should.
“Look, I’ll call you later. If you hear from Grace make sure she tells Julia to call me.”
He nods. “I will. Good luck at the drugstore.”
I grunt. I need more than luck. I need mother nature to fuck off.
Annabelle sits in the truck with her head down, resting against the passenger window.
“I’m sorry, Belle,” I apologize, after climbing in. “I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I was hoping that maybe Hope had hers and you could talk to her.”
“Has she?” she asks with a whisper, keeping her head down.
“Didn’t think so,” she mumbles.
“But we could ask her Grandma. Uncle Sawyer said he’d call her if you want to talk to someone.”
“No way. I don’t want anyone else knowing, Dad.”
“All right. We’ll figure this out on our own then.”
Pulling out of my parking space, I head to the drugstore. The few minutes it takes to get there I pray for Julia to call but it doesn’t happen.
“I hope I don’t run into anyone I know,” Annabelle whispers, staring at the store nervously.
“Do you want me to go in alone?” I have no fucking clue what I’m looking for. Do I buy her what Julia uses? I’ve never bought her shit before but I do know what the box looks like. Surely it can’t be that fucking difficult to find.
“No. It’s fine.”
“We’ll make it quick. In and out,” I promise her.
“This is the worst day of my life,” she mumbles as she jumps out.
It’s definitely not my worst but it sure as hell isn’t my best.
Once we enter the store, I look up at the signs and quickly find the feminine hygiene section. Placing my hand on Annabelle’s back, I guide her, pushing her a little faster than necessary. The moment we turn down the aisle I become overwhelmed with the array of colorful boxes.
What the hell is all this shit?
I glance up and down the row, making sure I’m in the right spot. How the fuck can there be so many to choose from? I don’t even see Julia’s kind in all this mess.
Not wanting to waste time, I reach up and grab the first pack I see. It’s a pretty big bag but figure extra can’t hurt.
“How about these?” I ask.
By the horrified look she gives me, I assume it’s a no. “Dad, those are diapers!”
I look back down at the green pack.
“For old people,” she whispers.
What the fuck are diapers doing over here?
Clearing my throat, I put them back where I got them from and bring my attention again to the variety of choices.
I turn at the male voice and find some teenage dip-shit wearing the store shirt, a stupid grin on his face as he stares at my daughter.
“Oh, um, hey, Jared,” she greets him, shifting on her feet.
Jared? Who the hell is Jared? I’ve never heard of any fucking Jared before.
The kid glances from Annabelle to me, his smile slipping at my glare. He straightens nervously. “Uh, do you guys need any help finding anything?”
Feeling her tense next to me, I quickly cut in before she’s forced to answer. “Does it look like we need help?”
“Dad!” she snaps under her breath.
I touch her shoulder, letting her know I have this.
“Uh, no sir. I just thought—-”
“You thought nothing. If we needed your help we would have asked for it. Now move it along and take that shit eating grin with you.”
“Oh god,” Annabelle groans, her head dropping in defeat.
“Yes, Sir. Sssorry, sir.” the kid babbles, looking ready to piss his pants. “I’ll see you later, Annabelle,” he says before dashing away.
Once he’s out of sight, I look down at Annabelle to find her glaring up at me. “I can’t believe you just did that to me.”
“What did I do?” I ask, a little affronted since I just saved her ass.
“You embarrassed me!”
“The hell I did. You’re the one who said you didn’t want to run into anyone.”
“You could have been more polite about it.” I grunt but she doesn’t let me say anything. “Just forget it.” Grabbing a small pink pack off the shelf, she shoves it against my chest. “Can we get out of here, please?”
I follow after her as she stomps up to the register. After placing the package on the counter, I bring my attention back to Belle. “How old is that little shit anyway?”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes it does. He’s too old to be talking to you.”
She rolls her eyes. “He’s two grades older and just someone who says hi. Nothing more.”
“Damn straight and there isn’t going to be more because you know the rules.”
If looks could kill I swear I would be ten feet under right now.
“Um, that will be $5.97, please,” the cashier says nervously, cutting into our conversation.
As I turn to pay, Annabelle grabs the bag off the counter and storms out of the store. I release a heavy breath, feeling guilty for giving her shit when she’s already had a bad day.
“I don’t need the receipt,” I tell the clerk, shoving my wallet back into my pocket.
As I head for the door, I catch the kid watching me behind one of the shelves. His eyes widen fearfully when he realizes I’ve spotted him.
I point at him. “You stay away from my daughter.”
He nods, his movements jerky before he turns around and crashes into a stand in the midst of his quick escape.
With a satisfied smile, I walk out of the store feeling a little better. That’s until I get the silent treatment all the way home from my daughter, no matter how much I try to get her to talk to me. I barely have the truck shut off when she flees, storming into the house.
Going inside, I give her some time to herself and try to get a hold of Julia again but she still doesn’t answer. After about twenty minutes, I climb the stairs and knock on her closed bedroom door.
“Belle, can I come in?”
There’s a long pause.
Her soft tone gives me a small measure of hope that maybe I didn’t fuck up too bad. Opening the door, I find her lying on her bed with a blanket over top of her, hugging a pillow.
“You get everything…sorted out?” I ask, unsure if those are the right words to use.
“Yeah,” she says again, avoiding eye contact with me. She stares down at where her fingers pluck the fuzzy blanket Grams made her.
I sit down next to her on the bed, my hands going on either side of her body. “I’m sorry I embarrassed you. I should have handled it better.”
She shrugs. “Doesn’t matter.”
It probably does but I decide to leave it at that and change the subject. “You want to hit up that movie still? Or maybe go out for a bite to eat?”
“Not really. I’m pretty tired. Is it okay if we order in for supper instead?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. Whatever you want.”
It’s then she finally looks at me, her beautiful ice blue eyes sad. “I bet days like today you wish you had a son instead, huh?”
I tense, the words slicing through me like a hot blade. “No!” When her eyes fall to the bed again, I grasp her chin and force her to look at me. “Never, Annabelle. Do you hear me? Not once have I wished for a son instead of a daughter. Not today and not ever. I wouldn’t trade you for anyone or anything in this world.”
The sight of a tear rolling down her face, shreds my insides. Wiping it away with the back of her hand, she sits up, wrapping her arms around my neck and buries her face in my shoulder.
“I love you, Dad,” she cries, her shoulders trembling.
It makes my throat burn like a motherfucker.
“I love you too. You and your mom are everything to me,” I tell her, my own voice gruff.
We stay locked in our embrace until her tears subside and I cherish every second of it, praying I never lose this. That she will never stop hugging me like this, no matter how old she gets.
“Do you want me to get you something? A drink maybe?” I ask, when she lies back down.
“Some of mom’s tea would be good.”
“Okay, I’ll be right back. Then we can figure out what we’re going to order for supper.”
Standing,I head out the door when she calls me back. “Hey, Dad?” I stop and turn back to her. “Thanks for everything today. I know it wasn’t easy for either of us.”
“I always have you, Belle. No matter what obstacle we’re faced with.”
“I know,” she whispers, snuggling down further into her bed.
It takes me almost ten minutes to make the tea. In that time Julia calls in a frantic state over my voice message. As I fill her in on what happened she sobs with guilt. Turns out, I’m a real fucking winner today with making people cry.
After calming her down, I end the call and head back up to Annabelle’s room, only to find her passed out, her innocent face soft with sleep.
I put the cup of tea down on her nightstand and pull the blanket up higher on her shoulder. Then with a heavy breath, I settle down on her floor next to the big ass furry pink bunny I won her at the carnival when she was seven years old and watch her sleep, knowing there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.
Later that evening, I’m sitting outside on our porch steps with a beer next to me, everything still and silent in the dark night. I hear the sound of the front door opening and closing before I feel Julia’s warm slender body sit next to me, her arms wrapping around my bicep. The familiar feeling of her next to me is something I’ve missed the past few days.
“How is she?” I ask.
“She’s good—sleeping again,” she says softly, her head resting on my shoulder as she looks up at me. “She told me you tried to buy her diapers.”
Turning my head, I look down at her, watching her bite back a smile. “Jules, tell me. Why the fuck would they have diapers where the tampons are? That makes no sense.”
My outburst has her breaking out into a fit of laughter. I’m glad she finds it funny because this shit still boggles my mind.
She tugs me down close, her soft hands framing my jaw as she rests her forehead on the side of my face. “You did so good, Jax. You really did. I’m proud of you.”
I grunt, knowing it’s a complete lie. I didn’t do good. I fucked up royally but we survived.
Both of us.
I stare into her aquamarine eyes, ones I’d never be able to survive without. The past three days without her has been fucking torture.
Grabbing her hips, I lift her, bringing her over to straddle me. My cock hardens as my hands slip under her sundress, feeling her bare satin skin.
“Did you have a good weekend?” I ask.
She wraps her arms around my neck, giving me a quick taste of her lips. “Mmm, yes. But I missed you guys— so much.”
“We missed you too, baby.” Leaning in, I nuzzle her neck, trailing my lips down the slender column. The sweet taste of her skin rushing through my veins.
I will never tire of this—never tire of her.
“Jax.” Her voice is breathless, her fingers threading through my hair with the same urgency I feel.
“Is your pussy wet, Jules?”
A sexy moan falls past her lips. “Always for you. You know that.”
“Yeah, baby, I do.” Cupping her lace covered ass, I stand and move for the door. “Lets go inside and take care of it.”
For the rest of the night, I get lost in the woman who will forever own me, the one who gave me the best gift I’d ever receive on this earth. The mother of my daughter, my wife and always…My best friend.