I have the privilege of interviewing Jake from A. L. Park’s series Return to Me.
So, today I am meeting up with Jake at his favorite coffee shop in Ridgmont, Colorado. While he claims they have the best coffee in town, I suspect he loves it because it is right across the street from Eve’s law office. When I walk in the door, Jake is already saving a table by the front window, and my suspicions are pretty much confirmed. I know he’s nervous about the interview, and it must be comforting for him to feel he has a connection with Eve. I order my coffee, and ask the young blond behind the counter to bring it to the table where Jake is sitting.
Slipping onto the seat opposite Jake, I wait for him to take his attention off the glass front building across the street, and focus on me.
ANITA: Hey, Jake.
Jake: Hey, how are you? Long time no see.
ANITA: Yeah, I guess we’ve both been pretty busy, huh?
Jake: That’s an understatement. (He takes a drink from his coffee cup, and glances out the window once more).
(The young blond brings my coffee to the table, smiles at Jake, and returns to her spot behind the counter)
ANITA: Mmm, this is good coffee. So, this has been a busy year for you so far. First, Eve comes back from Newport, ready to start a life with you, and then just as quickly returns to get all her stuff.
Jake: Yeah, that’s Eve. Nothing is ever simple when it comes to her.
Jake: Well, it’s pretty easy to love her. She’s amazing. But being in love with her – that can get complicated.
ANITA: Do you think it would have been better if you hadn’t followed her back to Newport?
Jake: <snickers> Probably. But we still would have had to face some things, so it was probably just as well that it happened then as any other time.
ANITA: And you got to meet Eve’s daughter, Clarissa. You two seemed to hit it off.
Jake: Yeah, Clarissa is pretty special. I see her mother in her – strong, feisty, ready to fight for who and what she loves. But at the end of the day, just wanting to be loved, and – I guess – feeling like she isn’t worthy of it. Sad. Makes my heart break because she is super talented, and just a great girl.
ANITA: She seems to have the additional job of keeping you and Eve on track when things start getting in the way.
Jake: Yeah, she definitely has a way of snapping things off in my ass when she thinks I am fucking things up with her mother. My only consolation is that Eve gets the same treatment on the other side. Clarissa is a tough love kinda girl. (Shakes his head, and chuckles).
ANITA: So…let’s talk about Brad…
Jake: I’d rather not…
ANITA: I get it. Eve’s ex-husband is not the nicest of men, but he is a pretty big part of the issues you two faced over the past couple of months.
ANITA: So, how do you feel about Brad?
Jake: Well, for a long time, I just wanted to find new and interesting ways of physically hurting the man. It was hard to believe that this man, who had all this money and social status, respect in the community, was nothing more than a slimy, slithering snake in the grass. I mean, I knew he was a loser when Eve first told me that he had traded her in for a new, younger wife. I mean, what an idiot. At that time I just felt sorry for him. Eve’s beautiful, inside and out…it didn’t take me more than five minutes to figure that out. But, his loss was my gain.
ANITA: Did that feeling change when you got back to Newport?
Jake: Oh, yeah. I thought I knew his type…could handle him, and anything he could throw at me. I totally under estimated him, and didn’t listen to Eve. Big mistake. That will never happen again.
ANITA: So tell me about it.
Jake: He’s good at reading people. He seemed to be able to pick up on my insecurities – with Eve, with my past, and he exploited them. And I followed him like he was the Pied-Piper. <shakes head>
ANITA: What do you mean? Where did he lead you?
Jake: Away from Eve. I left her there, to face him alone. I left her vulnerable. She had no idea if we were together, what I was doing. I just left her, knowing he would do everything he could to manipulate her. It’s all just a game to him.
ANITA: So, looking back, how do you feel about him? Do you hate him?
Jake: <strokes his chin, and looks out the window. He’s quiet for a moment> No, I thought I did for a while. Wished him serious amounts of pain and injury. Now, I just pity him. He had it all, and he pissed it away on a woman that is half the woman Eve is. I guess he regrets his decision – I don’t know. He’s arrogant enough that he may have already convinced himself that she made a huge mistake not going back to him. It doesn’t really matter at this point.
ANITA: Okay, so enough of the serious talk. What have you two been up to since you got back to Colorado.
(Jake’s eyebrows go up, and a smile plays across his lips)
ANITA: Okay, I get that…what else?
Jake: Well, just getting into life, I guess. Eve has her law practice that is up and moving. That was a pretty big undertaking. Combining our lives and our homes. Also, a pretty big deal. But we live in the most beautiful state, so we have been taking advantage of that…getting some hikes in. There are some gorgeous trails around that are still accessible even in the snow. It’s starting to warm up, so we’ve been able to spend a little more time outside. Eve is teaching me to cook, so that’s been an adventure – more for her than me.
ANITA: What’s on the horizon?
Jake: Well, we are gearing up for the custody case – to get my daughter, Lauren. That will be the next big hurdle, I suppose. We will have to go down to Colorado Springs for that…not really looking forward to it, but if it means my little girl is safely with me, then I will do whatever needs to be done.
ANITA: And Eve? Where does she figure into all of that?
Jake: She is my rock. She’s my salvation. I would be going insane trying to figure out what to do and how to do it. She pretty much has taken over the case for me, and let’s me know what is going on. She keeps me grounded. She’s the most supportive person I could have ever hoped for.
ANITA: Your whole face lights up when you talk about her.
Jake: She’s is the light in my life, what can I say? I love her. And she loves me. Sometimes it’s still amazing to me that she does, but I believe it now. It was a long road to get there, but I do know she loves me. And that is everything.
After a few minutes of goodbyes, I walked back to my car, and drive away. As I look in my rearview mirror, I watch Jake cross the street. Eve is on the sidewalk waiting for him, her arms wide open. They look perfect together.
Second chances happen, and dreams do come true. Jake and Eve are proving it.
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