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Chapter 7: Four years later

Sara Ann-Marie Jones woke up to the screeching of her alarm clock. She groaned after seeing that the clock read five o’clock in the morning. She should have been used to getting up this early in the morning because she’s been doing it for the past four years.

Sara got up grumbling about stupid alarm clocks and cursing the person who invented them. She got dressed in her uniform and started getting ready for the day. After she finished making breakfast she got herself prepared for the first struggle of the day, getting her daughter up at the break of dawn.

“Hailey get up.” Sara coaxed softly. “You have to go to Karen’s so that I can get to work. I have to work breakfast today.” All Hailey did was roll over pushing her mother’s hand away. “Hailey!” Sara didn’t like being stern with her daughter like her own mother was but desperate times call for desperate measures.

Hailey got up with a few more stern words from her mother and a few threats of getting something taken away. Sara made her daughter eat her breakfast before bringing her over to her neighboring apartment where Karen was waiting for Hailey.

“Thanks again for doing this Karen.” Sara said handing over the very sleepy three year old. “I wish her day care opened earlier but I also wish that I don’t have to work this early in the morning but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen either.”

“Don’t worry about it Sara.” Karen reassured. “I remember what it was like when the pay check just doesn’t meet the bills. I’ll watch her anytime that you want. She’s a joy to have around.”

“Well I better get going. My ride should be here any second.” Sara said going toward the stairs again. “I’ll see you when I get back tonight Hailey. Be good.” Sara made her way downstairs where her ride was waiting for her.

“Remind me why we put up with having to go in this early when there is only going to be two tables to serve.” Jackie, Sara’s friend, said. Jackie and Sara both worked at an old café on the other side of the city. Jackie who is only twenty and gets all of the early shifts because she has college in the afternoon and Sara asks for them so that she can pay all the bills.

“Because we need the money.” Sara spoke the truth. “So how late did you stay up last night with that one guy? What’s his name, Zack?”

“No, Zack was last week. Carlos is this weeks and surprisingly we didn’t stay up last night. He had to go home because he had a friend moving in with him. He met him a few years ago and he decided that he wanted to come out to California were all of the cute girls are.” Jackie explained.

“Really, well he sounds like a keeper if he hasn’t already gotten you into his bed.” Sara said teasing her friend about how easy she could be sometimes.

“We’re going out tomorrow night. He’s going to bring his friend along.” Jackie said changing the subject now having a devilish look on her face. “I told Carlos that I would bring a friend along as well.”

“No blind dates Jackie.” Sara said knowing where this was going. “I’ve told you that a million times. You don’t even know who he is. For all we know he could me a mask murderer.”

“Oh, come on Sara. Have some fun in your life.” Jackie said. “I’ve already checked your schedule and you don’t have to work.”

“You seem to forget that I have a three year old daughter who I barely see.” Sara said.

“We’ll pick you up at eight. By then Hailey would already be in bed and you can finally have a night for yourself, a night on the town.” Sara was in a corner. “How are you ever going to find a good father to Hailey if you never take a chance and go out and meet someone?”

“Hailey has a father and I never plan on replacing him.” Sara said not wanting to stay on this subject. Jackie just gave her a piercing look that saw right through that lie. Sara was afraid to love again because her heart has defiantly but put through its paces. She didn’t need her heart broken again.

‘It’s worth a try.’ Sara thought to her self. ‘Not all men are out to get some poor girls heart broken. Maybe Carlos’s friend is different.’ Jackie had just pulled up to the café when Sara made up her mind.

“All right I’ll go.” Sara gave up. “But don’t pick me up before eight and if I don’t like him where leaving.”

“Great, we’ll meet the boys at the club.” Jackie said getting excited. “I promise that even if you don’t like the guy it will be fun. When was the last time you had fun?”

“I don’t remember.” Sara said getting out of the car and walking up to the café and opening the door.

Sara worked for seven hours and then was cut. She was exhausted but Jackie wasn’t off for another three hours so Sara went to the gym across the street from the café. This is what she did when ever Jackie had to work later then her, which was almost everyday because Jackie also had school which was only five miles down the road. Jackie was her ride everywhere because she couldn’t afford her own car.

Sara’s favorite part of this gym was the gymnastics area that they had. She would always do flips on the balance beams and spin around on the high bar. This is what she was going to do today.

Ace got off the plane with his bag in hand. He looked around for his friend but didn’t see him. He was always late but then again he was probably with that new girl of his dreams. Of course this was the 4th girl of his dreams this month but hey, what ever makes him happy.

“Ace!” Someone yelled. “Ace, over here!” Ace looked around and found his friend in the back of the crowd jumping over everyone’s heads. Ace shook his head and made his way over to his friend.

“Hey Carlos! Long time no see.” Ace greeted his friend while a brotherly hug. “How long has it been now?”

“At least four months. You need to come out here more often.” Carlos said. “How long are you going to stay this time?”

“Hopefully I’m here to stay. I’m tired of traveling for once.” Ace said. He had been traveling for the past four years trying to find where he belonged. At first it was because his job transferred him every few months but last year he quite because the job was getting to tedious. Everywhere he went something was missing but Ace knew what that thing was and knew that he was never going to find it again, no matter how long he looked. In a few months he would probably end moving again because there was no reason for him to stay.

“Well let’s go get your bags and then I’ll show you our apartment.” Carlos said leading him over to where all the bags were. “I’m glad you came when you did. I needed a roommate because I can’t afford the rent anymore. I’m already a payment behind.”

After Carlos and Ace got the rest of Ace’s bags they headed toward the huge parking lot to Carlos’s car. After they got on the highway Carlos started talking again.

“So, what do you plan on doing for the few months that your going to stay this time?” Carlos asked knowing full well that Ace wouldn’t stay for more then 2 months at one place at a time.

“I don’t know.” Ace answered. “Probably try to find a job or pick up a new hobby. I always wanted to learn how to surf.”

“Well, how about we start with the basics.” Carlos said with a gleam in his eyes. Ace knew what was coming and rolled his eyes at his friend’s tactics. “We need to find you a girl. Maybe you’ll stay if you have a nice girl that you can count on always being their.”

“Carlos, I already told you that I don’t what to be set up on a blind date.” Ace said knowing that Carlos probably already had.

“Come on Ace.” Carlos said confirming that he had. “She’s a nice girl. Jackie, my girlfriend said that she hasn’t been out in awhile either. After I told her about you she thought that you would be perfect for her. I agreed with her after hearing about her.”

“Carlos, I don’t what a girlfriend.” Ace said. “I had a girlfriend, a fiancé in fact, and my heart is still hers. I can’t love another girl. I don’t want to.”

“You got to move on Ace.” Carlos said. “You can’t bring anybody back from the dead. It’s not possible and I think she would what you to move on in life. It doesn’t do well to dwell in the past, that’s what you always told me whenever my girlfriend broke up with me. I think it’s time that you took your own advice.”

“Carlos!” Ace complained.

“Ace!” Carlos said leaving no room for argument.

“Fine,” Ace gave up. “But were leaving if I don’t like her.”

“Okay.” Carlos said cheerful because he had won for once. “Well meet the girl’s tomorrow night at the club. You’ll have fun I promise.”

Ace and Carlos drove for another fifteen minutes into the city where Carlos’s and now Ace’s apartment was. It was a small two bedroom apartment that was just around the corner from a café and fitness center.

“I’m going to go check out the neighborhood Carlos.” Ace yelled over his shoulder and closed the door before Carlos could say that he wanted to come with. Carlos might be a good friend but sometimes he was a little clingy. Ace just wanted to be alone and maybe go work out in the fitness center around the corner. He always worked out when he was feeling down or was stressed out. It always seemed to calm him ever since he was in training camps for the ‘army’.

Ace walked out of the apartment building and around the corner where he saw the fitness center. He walked inside to find one of the best fitness centers he’s seen in a while. He walked up to the desk where he might be able to get a membership at.

“Excuse me, my name is Ace Williams and I was hoping to get a membership at this gym.” Ace said to the person behind the desk.

“Just one moment sir.” The receptionist said getting her computer ready. As Ace waited a woman walked into the center. She had shiny blonde hair and was wearing a waitress uniform. But that is not what caught Ace’s attention. It was the perfume she was wearing. It reminded him of… No, he wasn’t going to think of her. Carlos might think that Ace needed to take his own advice about not dwelling in the past but he didn’t know what Ace had done just to get away from his past.


Sara started across the balance beam just trying to get her balance. She started with just a few small tricks before doing her routine. First she would do a couple of slow flips then some cartwheels. She didn’t realize that she was being watch by the man by the counter.

And Ace was watching her. She was mesmerizing him and he didn’t know why. It was almost as if he had seen her before and for all he knew he had with all of the traveling that he had done. Just the way she moved reminded him of someone but he couldn’t put his finger on it. But he was going to find out.

Sara was just getting into the climax of her routine when she noticed a man standing by the beam. She tried to ignore him but just as she was starting to do her last trick her foot slipped and she fell. She waited for the ground to stop her fall but instead she felt someone grab her and stop her drop.

She looked up into the blue eyes of the man who had stopped her fall. He was very handsome with silky brown hair and smooth face. He was also very strong.

“You looked like you needed a spotter.” The man said. “Seems like I was right.”

“Seems like it.” Sara said wondering what he hadn’t put her down yet. She cleared her throat indicating that he should put her down which he did.

“Ace Williams.” Ace said holding out his hand.

“Sara Jones.” Sara said shaking his hand. “Thanks for helping me.”

“No problem.” Ace said starting to flirt with the attractive girl like every man would do. “It’s not every day a young prince like me gets to rescue and damsel in distress like you.” Sara just smiled at his gentlemen like comment.

“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen you in here before.” Sara commented. “And I’m in here almost every day.”

“I just moved in today. I’m checking out the gyms around here. Since this one is just around the corner I figured it’s where I should start.”

“Well if you ever need a tour of the city just come by the café and I might be able to get off and show you around.”

“I might just take you up on that.” Ace said still mesmerized by the woman in front of him.

“Well,” Sara said taking a deep breath. “I have to get back to work. I’ll see you around Ace.”

“Yeah,” Ace said shaking his head trying to clear it. “See you around Sara.”

Ace watched as the woman left the fitness center and crossed the street to the café.


Tomorrow night:

“Come on Ace we’re going to be late.” Carlos yelled at his new roommate. “I told them that we would meet them in the club a little after eight.”

“Do you really think that they are going to be there at eight?” Ace countered. “They’re girls; they take forever to get ready and are always late.”

“That doesn’t mean that we have to be late also.”

“Give me a minute.” Ace didn’t know why he had agreed to go anymore. He didn’t want to go on a blind date and he wasn’t ready to have another girlfriend even if it was four years later. All he wanted to do was to relax and cruise through life. He’s had enough life experiences to last him ten life times. He had loved once but lost it and he didn’t know if he wanted to find it again.

But then what was he feeling toward the woman at the fitness center. She had mesmerized him and he had a feeling that he had done the same to her. He had gone back to the fitness center to see her again but she was never there. He had also gone to the café across the street where he assumed she worked but she wasn’t there either. Her offer to show him around the city sounded really good to Ace. In reality all he wanted to do was see her again and maybe put meaning to the feelings that he had towards her.

“Ace!” Carlos yelled again.

“I’m coming.”


“Mummy, don’t leave me.” Hailey said clinging to her mother’s leg. Sara turned around and picked up the little girl that didn’t want her to leave either.

“Don’t worry sweetie.” Sara smiled at her daughter. “I’ll be back by the time you wake up tomorrow morning. All you need to do is go back to sleep and it will be morning before you know it and I’ll be in the apartment right next to you.”

Sara could see the sleep that was in her daughters beautiful green eyes. She knew that she would be asleep within a half hour after she left but that was if she ever let her leave. Sara handed Hailey back over to Karen who would be watching her until Sara came back home from the club. Hailey was already yawning in her neighbor’s arms and rubbing her eyes trying not to fall asleep.

“I’ll be back before you know it.” Sara said good-bye and then left the apartment building where Jackie was honking her horn.

“Come on Sara, where going to be late!” Jackie screamed through the window.

“Were girls; we’re allowed to be late.” Sara stated. “It’s not even eight yet.”

“But we still have to get across town.” Jackie said flooring the accelerator. “What took you so long?”

“Hailey wouldn’t let me go.” Sara said feeling a little guilty about leaving the three year old tonight. “I need to spend more time with her. Maybe I’ll take a couple of days off next month.”

“Sure, I have vacation coming up for school and I could use a few dollars here and there. I’ll cover for you.” Jackie said.

“Thanks.” Sara said. “So, what is this guy like any way? You know for sure that he isn’t a mask murderer.”

“I’m positive.” Jackie confirmed. “From what I know of him, he likes to travel but is finally ready to settle down. He’s very handsome and is very gentleman-like. You two are perfect for each other.”

“What ever you say Jackie.” Sara said promising that she would try and make the best out of the night even if the guy ended up being a jerk. What she really wanted was the man from the fitness center to stop by the café for her offer. She didn’t know why she had feelings for him but just the way he looked at her made her heart skip a beat. That hadn’t happen since the last time she saw… No, she wasn’t going to think about him. He was dead and was never coming back no matter how much she wanted him to. That was her past and maybe it was time to move on. After all he always said that it didn’t do well to dwell in the past.

“Here we are.” Jackie said pulling up to club that was already packed to almost maximum capacity. They got out of the car and made their way to the bar that was in the club.

“I’m going to go find Carlos.” Jackie yelled over the music. “You stay here so I can find you again.” Sara just nodded her head because she didn’t feel like yelling over the loud music. Sara was probably sitting there for only a couple of minutes before someone had bought her a drink and was standing behind her.

“Well, I wasn’t expecting to see you here.” A familiar voice whispered in her ear. Sara turned around to find Ace standing behind her with the same drink that he had bought for her.

‘Hi’ Sara mouthed still not wanting to yell over the music until she had to.

“You look beautiful tonight.” Ace screamed over the music.

“What?” Sara yelled back at him because she didn’t hear him over the music. Ace decided that his first tactic was probably better then trying to scream over the music.

“You look beautiful tonight.” Ace repeated now whispering in her ear again. Sara smiled and lipped a ‘thank you’ toward him.

“What brings you here?” Sara whispered into Ace’s ear.

“Blind date.” Ace whispered back. “My friend what’s me to move on and get a girlfriend. He thinks it will make me stay in one place for more than a few months.”

“Tell me about it.” Sara said. “I’m on a blind date also but I just don’t have the time to date. My friend thinks that I spend too much time with work and my daughter that I never go out and have any fun anymore.”

“Well, your daughter should be your first priority.” Ace said. “If you do have a boyfriend he should respect that otherwise he isn’t worth your time.” Sara smiled. Okay, she wasn’t going to spend the night trying to get to know some guy who she never met before. Instead she was going to get to know somebody who already understood her.

“You want to dance?” Ace whispered in her ear as a good song came on. Ace took her hand after she shook her head and lead her out to the dance floor.


“I swear I left her right here.” Jackie said after coming back with Carlos.

“Ace is gone too.” Carlos said after seeing that Ace had left as well. Carlos and Jackie scanned the dance floor trying to find their friends. “There he is. He’s dancing with that blonde.” Carlos looked at Jackie to see her smiling. “What are you smiling about?”

“I told you they were perfect for each other.” Jackie said. “He’s dancing with Sara. She’s the blonde.”

“She’s cute.” Carlos said but was cut off by saying any more from Jackie hitting him across the head. “But you’re beautiful.”

“Nice save.” Jackie said. “Come on. Let’s dance.”


“So how long have you lived in California?” Ace asked Sara.

“About four years now.” Sara said. “I left home because there was nothing left for me there. My boyfriend died in the army. We were supposed to get married after he got back but he didn’t come back. I didn’t find out I was pregnant until I came to California.”

“What’s your daughter’s name?”

“Hailey.” Sara said smiling. “She’s three and going through this stage where she wants me around all of the time. She’s the only thing I have left in this world and she saved me from… everything.”

“She sounds like an angel.” Ace said starting to think about his past but stopped himself again.

“She is… Do you like kids?”

“I love them. I’ve always wanted kids but I guess I just wasn’t meant to be a father.”

“Why’s that?”

“I had a son.” Ace said going down memory lane again before he could stop himself. “He died at three months.” Sara looked down with tears in her eyes.

“I know what that’s like.” Sara said with tears threatening to fall and the past clear in her mind. “It hurts.”

“Yeah.” Ace said then took a moment of silence to remember the son he once lost. “But hey, the past is the past. We move on and…”

“It doesn’t do well to dwell in the past.” Sara finished for him. Ace just shook his head but she still had tears in her eyes. The past was still the past but it still hurt.

“Sara!” Jackie said running up to her friend then noticed the tears. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Sara reassured. “Just going down memory lane.”

“Well listen, I’m going to go back with Carlos to his apartment.” Jackie said and of course Sara knew what that meant. “I was wondering if you could get a ride with Ace. Here are the keys to Carlos’s car Ace.” Jackie said handing over the keys. “I told you, you were going to like him but do you listen to me. NO.”

“Wait! Ace is my blind date?” Sara asked. Jackie just shook her head as if it was obvious.

“So, can you get a ride with him or not?” Jackie said getting annoyed.

“Yeah, sure.” Sara said.

“Great, see you at work tomorrow night.” Jackie said

“Aren’t you giving me a ride tomorrow?” Jackie cringed, clearly she had forgotten. “Don’t worry, I’ll find a ride.” Sara said wondering who would be available to give her a ride at six in the morning.

“You sure about this?” Ace asked putting the keys into his pocket as Jackie ran away toward Carlos.

“Of course.” Sara said. “Now, what do you say we go finish those drinks?”

“Alright.” Ace said leading Sara back to the bar where their drinks still lay.

Seven beers and eight shots later:
“I don’t think I’ve ever been this drunk before.” Sara said as they left the club at three in the morning. “I take that back. At my brother wedding rehearsal I passed out right on the dance floor in my boyfriends arms. Of course he was just as drunk as me and fell after a good effort of trying to help me back up. I don’t know what happened after that.” Sara said after stopping to take off her shoes. “But I woke up naked in a chicken coop about five miles down the road. I promised myself I was never going to get that drunk again.”

“Well I don’t think you’re that drunk.” Ace said helping her to the car. “It takes a lot to get me drunk so I don’t think you have to worry about finding yourself somewhere in a chicken coop anytime soon. Now being naked, I can’t promise you.”

“Are you coming on to me Mr. Williams?” Sara asked while getting into the car.

“Maybe I am.” Ace said while fastening her seat belt. “Now, where am I heading to?”

“Keep going down this road until you hit Cambridge. Then turn right at Forester. I’m the second apartment building on the right. Apartment 4C.”

“Alright, now try not to throw up in the car.” Ace said hoping that she could at least hold a few drinks or the fifteen that she had.

Ace pulled up to the apartment building hoping it was the right one. It was the only one on the right that had four floors but you can never be to sure.

“We’re here.” Ace said opening the door for Sara. Sara got out of the car but immediately past out into Ace’s arms. Ace picked her up into his arms staggering a little also because he had a few drinks himself. He carried her up the three flights of stairs looking for apartment 4C. When he reached it Sara woke up.

“Can you get Hailey?” Sara said.

“Sure, which apartment?” Sara pointed to the one across the hall before she pasted out again. Ace repositioned her and then knocked on the door. A middle aged woman answered the door and was worried when she saw her neighbor in the stranger’s arms.

“Don’t worry. She just had a little too much to drink.” Ace explained. “She wanted me to pick up her daughter Hailey. You must be Karen.” The woman shook her head. “I’m just going to put her into bed and then I’ll come back for Hailey.” The woman shook her head again and then went to get the little girl ready.

Ace went back to apartment 4C and took the keys that were in Sara’s purse and tried each key until one worked. He entered the small two bedroom apartment much like his own and placed Sara on the couch.

When he was sure that Sara was comfortable on the couch he went back across the hall where Karen was waiting for him with the three year old fast asleep in her arms. Ace picked up the girl gently and thanked Karen before she closed the door. Ace than made his way over to Sara’s apartment again. Sara was still passed out on the couch and Hailey began stirring in his arms. He opened the door that he assumed to be Hailey’s room and was right. He placed Hailey in the bed and pulled the covers over her wishing that he had a daughter so that he could do this every night. He pushed one of the red locks that was in front of her face behind her ear. She looked exactly like his daughter probably would have looked like if he and G… Stop thinking about her. She’s in the past and is never coming back.

“You are really good with kids.” Ace heard Sara say behind him. She was standing in the door way trying to keep her balance. Ace reached her just as she was about to fall over again.

“Okay, I think it’s time for you to go to bed.” Ace said opening the other bedroom door. He led Sara to the bed and helped her under the covers. After tucking in the twenty-three year old into bed just like the three year old he placed a tender kiss on her forehead just before she was about to past out again.

“Ace, you probably shouldn’t be driving.” Sara said with a slurred voice. “You can sleep on the couch if you want.” Then she past out.

“Sleep well princess.” Ace said. He went back into the living room where the couch sat. He was a little tipsy, maybe he should stay the night. Plus, he didn’t want to go back to his apartment if Jackie and Carlos were going to be doing what he thought that they were doing. So, instead of going home he found a couple of blankets and slept on the couch like Sara suggested.

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