A Different Kind of Reputation

With thirty minutes and school work separating Talia and Jason apart from each other, they have to figure out ways to be the best they can be for their baby. From being the school bad boy back in high school, to being the football star daddy in college, Jason has to figure out ways to fit back in with the crowd and keep his reputation as a father. From being the school nerd to the scholar mommy, Natalia has to figure out ways to let loose and have fun while keeping her reputation as a mother. Find out what goes on in this crazy life of Jason and Natalia in the second book, A Different Kind of Reputation.

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8. Chapter Eight

This was honestly an extremely hard chapter for me to develop. Why? I don't know, but it was so hard. The ending part is what's going to frame the rest of the single digit chapters ONLY. With Jackson going back into the army... I decided to do that for one reason, and one reason only. I didn't like Talia being home, especially so soon in the book, so he's going back, and so will Talia. The ending part of this chapter was supposed to show how vulnerable Talia is, especially around influences like Jackson. In the next chapter, there's going to be a lot of words and fights between people, and a lot of tears shed, so get yourselves ready.  

Natalia's POV

Jackson and I sat in the corner booth at the small restaurant down the street from home. My plate sat in front of me with chicken nuggets and French fries, while his had a salad with a pickle on the side. My pickle. Jackson's wheelchair stood folded up against the wall and the carriage for Tommy stood next to the wheelchair.

"How's your salad?" I asked, eyeing down my pickle on Jackson's plate.

"Damn good. Pickle makes it better." He smirked.

"Can I have it back?"

"Oh, I'm sorry. I haven't eaten in a week. I need all the food I can get."

"I'll give you one of my pills. Give me the damn pickle." He smirked and shook his head. I looked over the table to find Tommy wide awake, kicking his feet and his hands, with his head rolling around in his car seat. 

"It sucks Jase can't be here to see him grow," Jackson said unstrapping his godchild from his car seat. He set Tommy on his lap and ran his hand over the baby's smooth barely grown hair.

"Unfortunately, all Jason can actually get are videos and pictures. With practice going on, he ca barely come home to see him. Or me," I checked the time on my phone before stating, "can we speed this up, please? I promised I would pick Mace up from school and take her to my grandmother's house to bake for Thanksgiving."

"So, the real reason we're here?" Jackson asked.

I nodded, "that would definitely speed through this, wouldn't it?" He laughed and put Tommy back into his car seat, before strapping him back in so he wouldn't roll out. 

"So, I got a call from the enlistment agency, and I got some news," I breathed out a laugh. "I'm going to go back in after I heal in six weeks. The next enlistment is in ten weeks, so I would just have to sign over the transcript paperwork, go through a little bit of boot camp again, and I'll be on my way with a different team in a different camp and campsite. In... um, in the war."

"You're kidding, right?" But all seriousness eloped in his voice and face. "Alright, let me get this straight... I left my college, my dreams behind me, to come look after you because you're in pain and in need of a friend. You broke your leg and arm, with broken ribs, part of an ear missing and a concussion. And you're telling me you're going back into the place that did this to you? Are you mentally stable, Jackson? Did they drill in some shit to brainwash you?" Jackson's eyes widened at my language, but I didn't care. Not one bit. 

"It's all part of the job, T. I go in, I risk my life for my country, the only place I've ever known. I'm fighting for myself, for you, Jason, Amber, hell, even Thomas and your other unborn babies."  

"You know what... do what you want. Risk your life, go back in. I don't care. I'm not having this conversation with you anymore. Pack your things up so I can drop you off at the house."

+++

I sat on the couch with my hand over my forehead and my laptop on my stomach. Macey sounded out words on her homework sheet as she laid on the carpeted floor, and next to her, my uncle sat with his legs crossed helping her. I took a deep breath for moving the laptop off of me. I swung my legs over the couch, stood up and walked to the kitchen. 

"Head, again?" Jackson asked, sitting in his wheelchair at the kitchen counter. I've come to notice that ignoring Jackson was the best bet, considering all he did all day was try to break through me. "Not talking to me again?" I turned to him, stuck my tongue out and blew. A little trick my mother called Raspberries. The only sound a baby really makes when they're learning to talk.

"Seriously, T, don't do this. Don't shut me out."

I grabbed the bottle of pills in the cabinet, popped the lid open and swallowed the horse pill dry. "What do you want me to say? How did you expect me to react?"

"I don't know... not like this. Why can't you understand that this is what I want to do?"

"Because my dad died, Jackson! My dad died doing something like you do!" I slammed my hand down on the counter and shook my head. "My dad died, dammit!"

"I'm not your dad, Natalia. You need to understand that."

"Everyone I love, Jackson, leave. Vanish. Amber, she's in Ohio. Jason, he's at Columbia. Macey is at school all the time. My baby is growing up. My dad died. Everyone leaves, and I can't take another person leaving. I can't take another death in my family. Not again. Not after Jason's mom, not after his grandmother, no after my dad, and not after my grandma. I can't keep doing it, Jackson. Don't you see?"

"I'm not going to leave you, Talia. I'm going away for a little... a trip."

"It's not a trip if you don't come back from it, now is it?"

"If you think of it that way. But look at it from my perspective. I'm going on a trip for a couple months, maybe a year, with a bunch of guys, my friends, to live my life and help other people. I may get hurt, yes, but I'm going to come back, no matter what shape I'm in. Because it's just a trip."

"I can't think of it that way. I can only think of it as a bad thing. It's the only thing I've ever known."

"Natalia, you need to stop living in the past. I was there when your dad died. I was the shoulder you cried on. I know how you felt because I felt your pain. I was an asshole then, but I loved you. You look at me the same way you looked at your dad in his coffin. And you can't do that anymore. I have a beating heart, Talia. I am alive, and I'm not going to leave you, or Amber or Jason. You'll still have me when I'm in the army, just like you had been before."

"This is what you want to do?"

"Absolutely. I've never been so sure about something in my life." I nodded and looked away from him. Stop living in the past. Let go of it.

"Can I tell you something?" I asked, looking through my teary eyes. 

"Anything. Unless it's the whole 'I'm pregnant' speech, I don't want to hear it."

"No, it's not that." I laughed. He nodded and held onto my hand from across the table. 

"I really don't want a business degree," I admitted. 

"Then what do you want?"

"I don't know. That's the thing. All my life I've been around bad influences. I mean, look at my mother. She's a whore, and I'm not denying it. She cheated on my dad with his brother and with his best friend and she cheated on my step dad with the same person, and ended up getting pregnant with his kid."

"So... you want to be a prostitute? Because that would be extremely hot." 

"No! God, no. I want... I want to be a great mother." Jackson looked at me with sympathetic eyes, the same eyes he gave me all those years ago when I told him about my father dying. 

"T, you're the best mother any child could ask for. You're nothing like your mom, and I know that for a fact." I scoffed. "What? You don't believe me?" 

"Not one bit." I laughed. 

"Okay, here we go. You're covered in baby saliva, probably a little bit of pee, maybe some shit, and vomit. You smell like baby powder and a little bit like... I'm gonna say shit. But you're wearing all of that in a sweatshirt and sweatpants, and you still look amazing in it. You look beautiful covered in your baby's pee and saliva and throw up, and you look beautiful every day," He moved a piece of my fallen bangs behind my ear, "especially when you're hair does that."

"Jackson." I gulped. 

"Talia, I've never stopped loving you." He whispered, moving closer to my face. Inches apart. Centimeters. Millimeters. 

"Guess who's home for two weeks."

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