Absolution
Author:Amanda Dick

“There hasn’t been anyone since the accident.” God, she hated how pathetic that sounded. “I don’t know how to… or if I can even… I don’t want it to be weird, for either of us. I don’t want you to be disappointed.”

 

His expression softened and he moved closer, cupping her cheek with his hand. “You could never disappoint me. When the time comes, we’ll work it out. I promise.”

 

He pulled her closer. Letting go of the edge, she gave herself over to him.

 

 

 

It was a quiet Saturday morning and the sun was already beating down as the cleanup at Tom’s house began. Everyone had insisted on helping out, even though Jack was sure he could handle it himself. Apparently, that wasn’t an option.

 

They piled into two cars and headed over there, determined to put the place back into some kind of order after Jimmy’s visit. Jack had mostly avoided the house since he’d got out of the hospital, a couple of quick visits reminding him far too vividly of that night. But, as much as he had appreciated Callum’s hospitality, he wanted his own space again.

 

A part of him also realised he was avoiding the house for another reason, too. It was time to start getting used to the ghosts, not hiding from them. It was all part of the grieving process.

 

He and Callum righted the furniture, while Ally, Maggie and Jane helped clear up the contents of the spilled drawers and the broken glass and debris in the living room and hallway. After a couple of hours, the house was livable again, and he was starting to feel as if things were finally coming together.

 

The only thing missing was his father. He knew that would take a lot longer than a couple of hours to come to terms with.

 

“Hey – look at what I found,” Ally smiled, holding up an album cover.

 

She sat in an armchair by his father’s 1960s radiogram, holding a bunch of albums on her lap.

 

The smile came slowly, bringing memories of good times with it. The cover was of the 1974 album Hollies by The Hollies. It was one of his favourites and she knew it.

 

Ally’s smile grew into a grin. “Shall I put it on?”

 

Before he could answer, Callum piped up from the other side of the room. “Absolutely – love that shit.”

 

The mood in the house seemed to lighten, like the house itself had been holding its breath until now, waiting.

 

They began reminiscing together as the tracks on side one played on. As the haunting opening guitar of The Air That I Breathe began, Jack walked over to Ally, holding out his hand.

 

“Dance with me?”

 

He was aware of three other pairs of eyes in the room, all watching.

 

She nodded without hesitation, smiling up at him. He stepped in to help and she draped her arms around his neck. A thrill of excitement buzzed through him as the music filled the room. From the look on her face, she felt it too. He carefully took hold of the braces he could feel beneath her jeans to pull her legs up and rest her feet on top of his. The combination of the physical toll on his still-healing body and the thrill of the moment sent a rush of adrenaline through his system.

 

“You okay?” he whispered.

 

She smiled, words completely unnecessary.

 

He began to move slowly from side to side, his hands cupping her backside to keep her close. Although she couldn’t feel his hands, one glance told him that she knew exactly where they were and she liked it. He smiled, his gaze wandering.

 

Callum sat on one of the dining room chairs, his forearms resting on his knees, watching solemnly. Maggie and Jane leaned against the wall near the kitchen, Jane’s arm around Maggie’s shoulder. Maggie wiped her eyes quickly, smiling back at him.

 

Ally buried her head in his shoulder and he pulled her closer. Things had changed so much these past few weeks. He felt like he had been strapped to the front of a rollercoaster, head-first. So many changes, so many fears faced, so much he had learnt – about himself and about her. What he needed and what he wanted, and the difference between the two. The single biggest regret he harboured now was that his father wasn’t here to see them all together like this. He wanted to share everything with him, from the largest things to the smallest. His heart physically hurt thinking about it, and he knew it was something he was going struggle with for a while yet.

 

For now though, he was just happy to be dancing, with Ally in his arms.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 27

 

 

 

 

“A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.”

 

- Ingrid Bergman

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t pain that woke Ally. Rather, it was a brainwave. She would have a barbeque that evening, for Jack. It was long overdue, and she thought Tom would have approved of a mini-celebration, now that Jack had recovered from his injuries and was settled into his new job.