Chapter 68

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May 1871

Unlike Louisa's engagement my came and went with little fanfare. There was no party or big announcement, instead, at the end of the week Harrison showed up with two men that work for his father and loaded my things up into a wagon to take me over to his house, my new home. It wasn't much to pack; I was embarrassed that he'd brought the extra help. All I really owned or needed, fit into two big baskets, and even that stuff didn't matter much because I'll have to leave it all behind soon anyway when I run. But nothing prepared me for how hard it would be to say goodbye to the junked up little cabin that I'd known for the last seventeen years. Jackson came by my last night there. It was bittersweet to see him standing at my front door, knowing this would be the last time.  

"You're all packed up then?" He asked looking around the room as I nodded.  

Things were strained between us. The last time we were alone together we fought and kissed, passionately, but didn't talk, something were very good at avoiding. I couldn't help but hear Marcus in the back of my mind asking what I meant to Jackson. He'd gotten in my head.  

I noticed Jackson's eyes flit down to my hand and the ring on my finger. It had been there for two days, he'd seen it there, but it still seemed like he was looking at it for the first time. I balled my fists up and shoved them into my pockets, turning away from his pained face. 

"Jackson, we have to talk..."  

He knew this, but seemed to want to avoid it as much as I do. Begrudgingly he took a seat at the table but I didn't join him, it was better to keep distance between us. I looked down at him and didn't know where to start, luckily he spoke first. 

"Ellie I know you've been more than patient with me, and I know we don't have that luxury anymore. I just don't know how I'm supposed to abandon my brother right now. I expect Marcus has no plans to work with him, not after what he said to you."  

Jackson was right. It was something I knew for a while but had avoided thinking about. Marcus would play that card. He'd use Adrian against us, not knowing how in turn he'd be unleashing him on me. I shivered at the thought, remembering his earlier threats. I never told Jackson the specifics about my encounter with Adrian, but I did tell him about my run-in with Marcus and his threats. I omitted the part about discovering that Marcus and Louisa had something between them. I didn't want to be the one to tell Jackson about that. Not only did I not want to hurt him, I also didn't want that knowledge to affect his decision about me in any way.  

"I'd understand if things have changed for you..." He hurriedly cut me off. 

"Have they for you?" It was then that I saw the fear in his eyes for the first time and I furiously shook my head. 

"Jackson I know it's impossible for you to believe me, I'm not even going to ask you to try, but I have lived before..." He turned his head away from me not wanting to hear it again. "I've known you before; I've known all of this before, all these people!" I waved my arms around me and then took a chance and stepped closer to him, he didn't move away which was good sign. "And I've loved you before Jackson." He looked up at me as his eyes filedl with turmoil and his face creased in pain. "I know how it sounds Jackson--" 

"Crazy, Ellie! It sounds crazy!" His voice was combusting with an explosion of frustration and betrayal. It was too much. He should have never found this out. There was no way I could possibly win him over. I couldn't prove anything to him. The only thing I could predict is my own demise, but by then it'd be too late.  

"Yes, it sounds crazy," I agreed.  

My shoulders sagged in defeat as my insides collapsed. How could one explain the unexplainable? And that's what I was, unexplainable. I didn't have any answers for him. I flopped down onto the chair next to him, throwing my face into my hands, overcome by emotion. If Jackson couldn't believe me, I'd already lost. It took a slow minute, but then I felt it, his heavy hand on the back of my head. Slowly he began stroking my hair. This simple gesture soothed some calm into my scattered head. It gave me some hope that maybe he was still here with me in this. Maybe I hadn't lost him entirely. 

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