Heartfelt Loony

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When I wake the next morning, the only thing I register is the body wrapped in my arms. I smile; I could get used to this. Annie stirs, but I don't sense her waking up just yet. I snuggle her closer and hide my face in her neck. However, the rest doesn't last long because someone knocks on the door. I groan softly and get out of bed. I am careful not to jostle Annie as I kiss the top of her head.

"What's up?" I ask, rubbing my eyes as I open the door, finding Jacks standing there.

"Are you busy?" he asks, his forehead creasing.

"Just waking up . . .," I yawn. "No, not busy."

I step out of my room, closing the door behind me. My brother grabs me by the arm and pulls me into his room. When he starts to open the window to the fire escape, I know it is because Jacks doesn't want the parents to hear. They should still be sleeping. It is friggin' early. I climb out the window and join my brother at the railing.

"What's the deal?" I ask, watching him.

"Karissa and I are not getting back together," my brother replies with a sigh. "At least not right now . . . She still needs time to get over this . . . and I need a little time to forgive her."

Jacks' shoulders sag slightly, both from relief and from disappointment. I can see that he is trying to hold himself together. If I were still holding a grudge, I think I might had felt like he is getting what he deserves. But he doesn't deserve this.

"I had a talk with dad after she left . . ." Jacks swallows as he goes on. "And I can't say I understand why Karissa is doing this, but I'm not going to let it eat away at me."

"I'm sorry, Bro . . ." I don't know what to say that might be helpful. I lack experience, whereas Jacks has been dating the same girl for a good five and a half years.

"I don't mind being the third wheel," he says, turning to me with a raised brow. "Did Annie sleep okay?"

"Better than the other night," I reply, shrugging. "She didn't wake up, no nose bleeds. I was going to take her out for pizza today . . . I think that depends on how she feels, you know?"

"Hmm," Jacks nods and looks back at the wall of the next apartment building. "I don't know if you want me to hear me say this, but Annie's perfect for you, Bro. You are the kind of guy who needs something, or someone, to protect. Annie may not need protection like that, but she needs protection in terms of knowing someone is there for her."

"She's only just let me in like that, man," I sigh and turn around, resting on my elbows. "You really think she's perfect for me?"

"I do, man. Annie is a great girl. She has personality; she is not whiny. She has reason to complain, and she doesn't . . . That's your kind of girl."

"Wish I'd known that detail sooner."

My brother faces me, knowing exactly what I mean.

"You wouldn't have met Annie if you knew," he says, shaking his head. "It's just something I've observed. Also, you can't beat yourself up for not having met her before now. Everything happens for a reason and everything has a time when it will happen."

I smirk, "When did you get all wise again?"

Jacks' rolls his eyes, chuckling. We spend a little while longer out here until someone starts shouting my name. Panic. I rush to my room and find Annie doubled over on the floor in pain.

"Annie?" I say, dropping to my knees and pulling her to my chest. "Baby, tell me what hurts. Talk to me."

"Here," she sobs, moving my hand to touch her heart.

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