Annie hated these kinds of dreams. She watched her body as it lay sleeping on her sofa. She was aware that she was dreaming about dreaming.
What did my psychology professor call this back in college? Oh...he called it "lucid dreaming." It's where you are aware of your surroundings and self while in a dream. Somehow it's my conscience self and subconscious self intertwining.
She wasn't sure what was going to happen yet. She walked over to her favorite chair inside her living room. Maybe she would see what her dream self was dreaming about. Never thought I'd become my own movie.
She settled into the chair and wrapped a blanket tightly around her shoulders. She looked over at the clock. With no other noise in her guesthouse, the constant tick-tock of her clock was driving her crazy. Because this is what makes me crazy? Isn't the fact that I am dreaming about watching myself dream crazy? This is really freaky.
Little did Annie know it was going to get much freakier.
Annie jerked her head quickly. She drew her gaze over to herself on her couch. The other Annie was waking up. It was quite amusing watching Other Annie wake up. She had never been a morning person. She finally understood why Danielle called her Cousin Itt when they were teenagers. Other Annie's hair looked like a blonde tumbleweed. Her mascara was smudged to the point of making her look like a hybrid species of human and raccoon.
Other Annie combed her hair back into a messy bun. She stood and trudged her way into the kitchen. She'd prepped the coffee pot the previous night, so all she to do was hit the "start" button. She grabbed a coffee mug and stared at the design on its front.
Annie followed herself into the kitchen. What will I do now?
Her question was answered by a knock on the door. Other Annie jumped in surprise. She was not expecting any visitors this soon. She opened the door. The sight that greeted her scared the crap out of her. She unknowingly dropped her mug. Porcelain shards decorated the false wood tile floor.
Annie dropped her blanket as she joined in Other Annie's shock. Another Annie was waiting for Other Annie to let her in. This new Annie was never how Annie would have expected herself to look. Her hair was a good six inches longer than her current collar bone length ash blonde tresses. Not only was it longer...it was a rich, dark brown color. Her face was hard. Her eyes looked haunted. An air of danger, mystery, and horror surrounded Dark Annie. Neither Other Annie or Dark Annie noticed Annie watching them.
Dark Annie was sick of standing outside. In a commanding voice, she asked Other Annie, "Well, are you going to let me in?"
Other Annie stepped back and allowed her dark haired doppelganger to enter. "You're me?" she asked...the sleep still tainting her voice.
"I used to be." she answered.
"Soon, you'll realize you're in love with Auggie. When you will finally be ready to tell him, he is going to tell you that he has been having a long distance relationship with his dead best friend's little sister. Her name is Parker. When you go to tell him you're in love with him, he is going to give you a '67 blue Corvette. The reason why he is going to give it to you is because he will have just recently gotten a phone call telling him that he not an eligible candidate for stem cell treatment to recover his eyesight.
Shortly after this, you will witness Jai Wilcox blow up in his own car. That will inevitably lead to you being contacted by his father. You and Auggie by then will have decided to be together romantically. Once Wilcox contacts you, it is the beginning of an awful wedge that will grow between you two.
I came here to warn you about all of this beforehand. Because the things that will happen will drive you to fake your death, go dark, and become me. You will be successful. You will take Henry and his empire down, but in the process you will your romantic relationship with Auggie, and your friendship and work partnership will also be strained.
Unfortunately, you'll still witness Jai's death. You will still have to kill Henry Wilcox. If you don't, your family, Auggie, and the Campbells will be killed or imprisoned for things that Wilcox will frame them for.
The one thing that you can prevent is losing Auggie. He is going to try to pursue you. You'll be tempted to push him back. Don't. Auggie is a part of you, Annie Walker. Don't become me."
Other Annie was visibly shaking. "Who are you then?"
Dark Annie replied, "Jessica Matthews."
"Are you telling me that I need to tell Auggie I love him now?" Other Annie asked.
"Yes, if you tell him now, he will have a deeper trust in you. Your relationship after Wilcox will be stronger and survive. Auggie left me because I pushed him away. Any trace of Annie Walker that was still in me died when he did." Jessica explained.
"Is he with Parker yet?" she questioned.
"He is going to meet her at a memorial party for her brother Billy. He doesn't want to tell you how he feels because he is scared he'll lose you completely. He doesn't want to do to you what Ben did." Jessica informed.
"Auggie would never do that to me." Other Annie stated in shock at the comparison.
"You need to tell him that you know that." Jessica said as her glare drifted from Other Annie to Annie.
"I will." Both Annies said.
Annie woke up. She threw the throw blanket off her body. Her heart was beating sporadically. Did that really just happen?
She stood up off the sofa and looked into the decorative mirror she had hung behind it. Oh my goodness...I look just like my sleeping self did in that dream!
Jessica's words echoed in her head:
You need to tell him how you feel...
Annie looked over to her coffee table. Her phone was there. She picked it up to call Auggie and ask him to come over.
Before she could a voice pulled her attention.
It was Auggie. She turned to the direction where she heard his voice. He was in the kitchen.
"Annie?!" he yelled, "I need you to wake up please!"
Confusion overtook her. Is this real? Is Auggie really here, or am I still dreaming?
Auggie's voice now gave hints to panic and frustration at her lack of answering. "ANNIE?!"
"Huh?" she grunted.
"Oh! You're awake now..." he sighed...relief evident in his voice.
"What's wrong?" she asked as she sleepily stumbled into the kitchen.
"Well, let's just say your coffee mug and I had a...shattering experience." he answered.
That quickly brought her out of her groggy state of mind. She looked down at the floor. Porcelain pieces of her former favorite coffee mug were splattered all around Auggie's bare feet.
Talk about deja vu! That's the same mug that broke in my dream.
"DON'T MOVE." she commanded.
"You don't have to tell me twice. Blind guy trying to pull shards out of his feet really isn't as funny as it sounds." he stated.
"No kidding. Where are your shoes? You never take your shoes off when you come to my place. You're always on edge that you'll kill your feet on one of my randomly placed belongings." she mused.
"Very true, but, when I invited myself over earlier, you swore that you had finally cleaned your place. I decided to take the leisure of releasing my feet from their sweaty prison. You do remember this conversation, right?" he asked.
"Gross. Vaguely. Now where did you put your shoes?" she asked him again.
"You must have drifted into another world while you were sleeping. I can't believe you fell asleep while we watched your favorite movie." he sighed.
You have no idea...it felt like I had entered another world. Annie was growing impatient, "Anderson, if you don't tell me where your shoes are, I will leave your sorry butt where it is. BTW, that was your favorite movie. I only agreed to watch it with you to keep you from whining." she corrected.
"You are such a vindictive woman, Anne Catherine Walker. I think I left them somewhere near your front door. Don't forget to put shoes on yourself. Blind guy pulling shards out of his best friend's feet also isn't as funny as it sounds." he answered with that grin of his.
Annie loved seeing him smile. Sometimes, in moments such as that one, his smug wit was too much. She fought the desire to smack the silly smirk off his face. Instead, she went for her typical reply. "Auggie, you're incorrigible."
He crossed his arms as he quietly laughed at her response. He was sure that if he got a dollar for as many times as she said that in a single day, he'd have enough money to settle down comfortably in the Galapagos.
He heard Annie's feet pad off to get their shoes. She came back quickly making slapping noises. He remembered her mentioning that she had a pair of beat up flip flops she kept around for situations just as the one they were in. Unless, Annie Walker were in a pair of killer heels or boots, she hated having to wear shoes. She was the perfect combination of feminine and tomboy. He was surprised at how sexy he found that to be.
"Okay, I put my old flip-flops on. Give me one of your hands." she instructed.
"Do you plan on giving it back? I want to use it later." he quipped.
"Eye-roll." she huffed.
He did as she said. Placing one hand on her shoulder for balance, he slipped on his shoes.
Annie kept her broom and dust pan tucked in a corner close to where they were. She grabbed it and collected the shards.
"Okay, I think you're good to go back into the living room. I want to double check that I did get it all. Shoo, Anderson." she said.
"Are you always this bossy?" he joking asked
"Is Danielle my older sister?" she responded.
"Point taken." he replied as he settled himself into Annie's favorite chair.
Seeing him in that chair reminded Annie again of her freakish dream. It also triggered a fresh slew of stomach butterflies as she remembered what she had to tell Auggie. She was quiet for a tad too long. She'd been quite distracted scanning the floor for any remaining shards. She was also postponing the inevitable conversation she had to have with Auggie.
Auggie was beginning to wonder if Annie disappeared. He hadn't heard anything for awhile. He got up and went into the kitchen. He heard a quick snap! She must've put the dustpan back onto the broom.
He followed the new sounds she was making. She seemed to be out of it. Normally, she would remember their conversations... especially when he had invited himself over. She was the first friend he'd ever had that he was close enough to be able to do something like that. She would also never normally leave him in the dark and silence. Something was really off.
He softly called her name, "Annie?"
His smooth, deep baritone voice pulled her back to reality. At least, she hoped it was reality.
"I'm here." she whispered.
"Annie, what's going on? Are you alright?" he asked.
She looked up and gazed into his concerned eyes. She used to think that she could spend forever staring into Ben's ocean blue ones. Now, she was certain that she would rather stare into the deep, warm brown eyes of the man in front of her forever.
"Yeah...I just got a lot on my mind." she stalled.
"Like what?" he prodded as he reached out for her.
She took his hand and laid it on her face. The action taking him by surprise. "Annie?" he questioned.
"I need to tell you something." she whispered as she leaned in dangerously close to his body.
Electricity rippled through him. His skin radiated as he felt her body heat.
"Annie..." he moaned. He wasn't sure what she was getting at with this sudden shift in her personality. He hoped that it was what he'd been dreaming about since he met her. As much as that idea possessed his heart, he didn't want to do anything to lose her friendship. He'd rather just have her as a friend than take the next step and hurt her in the same way Mercer had done. He couldn't imagine his life anymore without her in it.
She laid a slender finger over his lips. "Auggie, just listen."
Does she have any idea how much power she has over me? She's torturing me right now.
He nodded in compliance.
She took a deep breath and placed her hands on his chest. His body immediately reacted, gooseflesh prickling everywhere. He felt like a teenager again.
"I am hopelessly in love with you." she whispered.
Annie could feel it beating faster, harder under her hand.
Another of Jessica's warnings echoed in her head. The one where Auggie worried he would do the same thing to her as Ben had.
"Annie...I love you too...but-" he couldn't finish.
She completed the thought for him, "You're scared you'll hurt me like Ben did."
He closed his eyes as unwanted tears rebelled, forcing their way out.
Annie's heart melted at the vulnerability he was allowing her to see. He was usually so guarded with his emotions, his past, hopes, and fears. Right now, he was displaying them all before her.
"Auggie, you had no choice in what happened with Tash. The Agency forced your hand. That's over and done with.
I've realized that I've held onto Ben for too long. My hurt blinded me from seeing what was in front of me- who is in front of me- no pun intended there.
Natasha is your past. Ben is my past.
You are my present. I am your present.
I believe we are meant to be each other's future.
I love you, August Anderson. Don't you ever compare yourself to Ben Mercer again. Don't ever doubt how much I love or need you. You make me feel so appreciated and safe." she whispered the last part into his right ear.
Auggie felt years of hurt and anguish heal as her words washed over like a healing balm to his broken heart. "Annie...thank you. I love you too. I don't even have the words to express how much I love you." he replied breathlessly.
Annie slowly traced his collar bone with her fingertips.
He cupped her face with his hands and drew her in with a deep kiss.
Both were sad when they had to pull apart for a new breath. The air around them thickened with their desire.
"Annie, don't think I am rejecting you, but I don't think we should you know..." his voice trailed off.
"Sleep together?" she finished.
"Yeah...We have both been through rough relationships that burned us. Plus, my parents raised me in a way that I know they'd be disappointed if they could see my track record. I want to do this right. I want to do you right.
We'll have the right time to do this in the future...but you'll have to tell me what kind of ring you want." he seductively stated as he toyed with her left ring finger.
"My parents were the same way. As much as I would love to drag you to my bed...I know you're right." she agreed.
"Annie, I know we've only known each other for almost two years...but it feels like we have known each other much longer." he said.
"I think that's what they mean when they say: I've found my soulmate." she murmured.
"Do you want to go and finish watching the movie?" he asked.
"Sure, but, I can't promise how much watching I'll be doing." she said.
"Well, I can assure you that I won't be doing any. You're in good company." he commented.
They made their way back to the sofa. Annie pressed play on the DVD.
It amused her that as much as Auggie hated country music he adored classic cowboy movies. She didn't hate country music, but she could live without it. She didn't even mind cowboy movies. She, however, lived under the pretense that once you have seen one cowboy movie you've basically seen them all. Auggie'd apparently never caught that memo.
She giggled at her thoughts of him. His hand wandered to her jaw. He smiled as he felt her face spread into a large grin.
"What?" he asked.
"I was just thinking about you." she answered.
"That's perfectly fine with me." he replied.
Her response was nestling herself deeper into his side. He wrapped his arms around her protectively. Not that she needed it. She knew how to take down a man three times her size. It just felt good to be wanted and needed.
He closed his eyes and rested his head against the back of the sofa as he listened to the plot of the movie thicken. It didn't matter how many times he watched this movie, it never tired him. He saw many similarities in the main characters' love story as to his and Annie's.
A good while later, he whispered to Annie. When she didn't respond, he grinned to himself. She couldn't help but fall asleep when they watched this movie.
He felt his watch. It was two in the morning. Definitely too late to wake her up to take him home and too late to call a cab or his driver.
He stood up and stacked some throw pillows to the side of the couch where he had been sitting to support Annie. He counted his steps from the couch to where he thought her bed was. He sighed in relief as he made it to her bed without incident. Even though they'd been friends for over a year now, he was still getting used to her place. Most of the time when they hung out it was at Allen's or his flat.
He pulled back her sheets and duvet. Returning to the sofa, he carefully picked her up. He cradled her head close his chest. That'd be a way to wake up. Blind boyfriend running your head into the wall. Wait...does this mean I'm her boyfriend now? I guess so.
He counted the steps back and managed to not whack Annie's body into anything. He laid her down and tucked her duvet tightly around her shoulders. Annie had turned most of the lights off earlier when they first turned the movie on. Her bedside lamp felt cool, so it had to be turned off.
He went back into the living room. He jumped at the sound of a gentle knock coming from the door. He scrunched his brows together as walked to answer it.
A soft, feminine voice spoke, "Annie, you're gonna run my electric bill up with all these lights on."
It was Danielle. Auggie chuckled as he opened the door. He placed a finger on his lips and motioned with his head towards the direction of Annie's bedroom.
Danielle's voice dropped to a barely there whisper, "Auggie, I didn't know you were still here. She fell asleep?"
He nodded yes. "We watched my cowboy movie again. Stopped halfway through the movie. Had to clean up a broken mug. I was getting her something to drink so she could have it when she woke up. But, I stumbled on my own feet and dropped it. That usually doesn't happen...weird that it did. Anyway, after she swept it up, we got to talking for awhile. I just finished it a few minutes ago. She, of course, fell asleep...again." he shook his head.
"Is she still in the living room?" Danielle asked him.
"No, I carried her to her bed." he answered.
"Oh...are you going home...?" Danielle drawled out.
"I would...except that I don't want to call a cab this late. My personal driver is at home asleep with his wife...and, Annie is unconscious..." his voice trailed off.
"Basically you're stranded." she voiced the obvious.
"Yeah." he sighed.
"Well, let me come in and turn off the lights in the kitchen. You can sleep on my couch. You are welcome to it anytime...unless you and Annie..." he could imagine her blushing as her voice disappeared at the thought of what she was insinuating.
"Danielle, Annie and I already agreed to not do something like that with each other. Yes, I would greatly appreciate your couch." he explained.
Danielle felt embarrassment leave her as she flicked the guesthouse kitchen lights off. Brushing her hand against Auggie's, she closed the door and led him to her couch.
She handed him a blanket and warned him that the girls might pounce on him in the morning.
He spread the blanket over himself and assured her that he would be fine. He had already survived Chloe's field trip with her twenty-nine classmates. He was practically invincible now.
Settling into a comfortable position, he fell asleep dreaming of a future with Annie.
Annie looked around her guesthouse. She remembered talking to Auggie a few hours ago. She didn't see him, though.
I am seriously having a hard time keeping up with what's real and what's fantasy.
, heard a voice much like her own. The only difference is that it held a very noticeable edge. It answered, "What happened with Auggie was real."
"You heard my thoughts?" Annie asked as she finally caught sight of the speaker. It was her other self- Jessica.
"I am a part of your thoughts. So, yes, I knew what you were thinking." Jessica answered.
"How did you even come to be? I don't remember creating you." she pondered.
"As a little girl, when you were dealing with your parents' divorce, you concocted a version of yourself that was tough. I am what you came up with.
I am also what I hope you never have to become. I think that with Auggie at your side, you'll remember your true self when you need to remember who are most. He brings out the best in you." she stated.
"Yeah, he does." Annie agreed.
"Good luck, Annie." Jessica replied.
"Thanks, but we both know I won't need it." Annie said.
At that comment, Annie was surprised to see Jessica smile. When she did, she realized that Jessica was truly a part of herself. Because she never smiled that way except for when she thought of Auggie's classic line for her.
Two and a Half Years Later
"Auggie, do you still want to do this? I don't know how long I'll be gone." she expressed her concern.
"Annie, you're the love of my life. You might be 'dying' soon, but it won't be forever. I'll be here when you resurrect."
Four Months Later
"Auggie, I killed Wilcox." she stated plainly.
"Good. Listen closely to these directions. I want to get you home quickly." he sighed.
A few hours later, Annie looked out onto the horizon as the small boat carried her back to D.C.
She had lived as Jessica Matthews for the last few months. She had changed.
She was thankful she was going back the one person who would help her meld back into society...into herself.
Annie rinsed the rest of the blonde dye out of her hair. It was a lot longer now. She had been so focused on surviving the past four months she hadn't paid attention to its new length. Quickly, she brushed and blow dried her hair. When she finished, she put her things away and hung her towel up.
She wasn't excited about having to stay in the safehouse, she would have much preferred something cosey and homey. The differences between a safehouse and a home was the same as that of a hospital and retirement home. One was cold and sterile, the other warm and welcoming.
She walked over to the couch and nodded off to sleep. Later, she was awakened by a gentle touch. Someone was stroking her hair.
"You went back to blonde?" it was Auggie.
"Auggie!" she sighed as she threw her arms around him.
"Well, hello, there!" he laughed.
She finally computed his question, "Yeah, I went back to blonde. I am trying to get back to...me...it's easy to make the outside look like Annie...it's harder to make my inside match."
"Don't you even worry about that. I am going to be here every step of the way." he answered.
At that, Annie kissed him. Her hands reached down to the bottom of his shirt. It didn't take long for him to reciprocate the action. A trail of clothes were left behind them as he carried her into the safehouse bedroom. He was so glad he had come with Calder to learn the layout beforehand.
They landed on the safehouse bed. For being a safehouse bed, it was surprisingly comfortable.
A few years ago, they both chose to forget their past. They chose to be each other's present. They both looked forward to their future.
As they made love, Auggie whispered into Annie's ear, "Welcome home, Mrs. Anderson."