Monday, May 16, 2011

Yes... yet another story...

Make Me Believe

This is a story I started writing last year and ended up stopping it for several months because I ended up getting lost and wasn't able to find my way back out with it. Well, some things happened in current events (i.e. trades and whatnot) and now I've found some motivation to finish this... I have to admit. I'm not a Pittsburgh fan. I don't write stories on Pens players because frankly, I'm tired of reading about Pens players all the time.  I found Mr. Neal when he played for the Stars, which is where this story begins and for that he will always be a Dallas Star in my book so that way I don't make myself for liking a Penguin. So the 2nd half of this journey is going to be a little strange to me since I'm treading on territory I'm not used to and that's writing about the status-quo players who frequently show up in Hockey FanFics. I guess we all end up doing things we aren't comfortable with, whether it's in life or in this case, writing. Eitherway, I hope you enjoy it and I can't wait to hear your comments!!

The first several chapters will be posted every other day around 8am since the first half is done... so hopefully you won't be too overwhelmed. Don't worry, Crush is still on the books and we have a chapter or two to go!!

Chapter 12

Ch. 12

I was sitting out on the porch swing, waiting for Grandma to come back outside with the glasses of lemonade she had insisted on having “on such a beautiful summer evening,” when I heard the sound of breaking glass come from inside.
“Grandma?!” I called out, clambering off the swing.  “Are you okay?!”  As soon as I got through the door, I knew she wasn’t okay.  Shards of glass lay on the floor and she was out cold, looking pale and barely breathing.  I quick picked up her phone and dialed 911.  Within a few minutes Taylor and Paul were on location, administering care to her.  She wouldn’t respond to me or them and I heard Taylor mumble something about possibly being a stroke or something.  They asked me if I wanted to ride along with them, but I decided to just gather a few of her items they night need at the hospital and head over by myself.  I was just about ready to walk out the door when I decided I should probably call Beth.  When she didn’t answer, I called Jack.
“What do you want Jarret?” he growled into the phone, sounding very annoyed that I was on the other end and not my Grandma.
“Taylor and Paul just came and picked up Grandma…” I explained.
“Just stay put and we’ll pick you up,” he said quickly, his tone of voice softening and 5 minutes later Beth came flying up the sidewalk, looking like an angel in a lilac sundress.  Her hair was flying unruly behind her and tears were plastered on her cheeks as she threw herself into my arms.
“What happened?!” she cried.
“I’m not sure.  Taylor did say something about it possibly being a stroke, but I guess we will find out when we get to the hospital.”
“Okay, then let’s go.  Do you have her insurance cards and medication list that she keeps on the fridge?” she asked suddenly.
I smiled, glad to know that even if I wouldn’t have been here with Grandma, she had people who cared just as much for her to even know where she kept everything in case of an emergency.  “I have it all,” I said quietly.
“Well then, let’s get moving,” she said breathlessly, taking my hand and leading me over to Jack’s Jeep.  Before I could tell her to sit shot-gun, she easily climbed up onto the back tire and into the back seat, seeming to forget that she was wearing a dress.  I just shook my head and climbed in.
“Thanks Jack,” I said, nodding to him.  He nodded back, acknowledging me before he put the Jeep in gear and headed off to the hospital.

It was bad.  My dearest Elsie had a massive stroke, placing her in a coma that she was likely to never come out of.  We knew it was only a matter of time that something like this should happen, but it didn’t make it easier.  We staged a vigil around her bed all day and night, praying and just telling stories of the past because Elsie wouldn’t want us being sad.  The only reason Jay didn’t have the physicians remove her from life support was for the simple fact that the rest of his family wanted to say their peace before-hand.
“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through,” he said quietly, leaning backwards on the hospital garden’s bench and resting his head on the sun-warmed brick on Friday evening.  It had been 2 days and we were all emotionally and physically drained.
“Me too,” I murmured, wanting to cry but realizing I ran out of tears about a day ago.  “She is the family I never had.”
“She really does love you like her own,” Jay said reassuringly as he put his arm around my waist and pulled me into his side.
“Mmm,” I hummed.  “She’s a very special lady.”
“Are you still mad at me for not visiting her more often?” he asked sincerely.
I looked up and smiled at him.  “I’ve forgiven you.”
“Well I’m glad, because I don’t know how I’d explain that one to my parents,” he chuckled.
I looked up at him and smiled because it was good to hear him laugh.  The Jarret I had come to know this summer was not serious for more than 5 minutes, so seeing him with what seemed to be a permanent solemn expression was discouraging.  “Oh, what do you mean?”
“Well I didn’t want to have to introduce you as my girlfriend who actually hates my guts for not coming to see Grandma.”
“I guess that wouldn’t sound so good,” I giggled.  “Now if you introduced me as a friend that hates your guts, I’m sure they’d find it more believable.”
He stopped laughing at this point, but his soft smile stayed.  “I like the word girlfriend better.”
I sighed, and absent mindedly traced his left eyebrow that had the scar from some hockey injury a few years back.  “I’m still not sure I believe the girlfriend part,” I answered honestly, yet not really wanting to get involved with a conversation on our relationship.  I wasn’t able to label it because I wasn’t able to figure out what the fuck was going on.
“This has something to do with Jack,” he said plainly, yet not sounding overly upset about it.
I looked up into his grey eyes and just nodded.
“If I wouldn’t be here, you would be with him.”
“If you wouldn’t be here things would still be the same between Jack and me,” I said, defeated.  “We would still be work partners and best friends, no questions on if there was a romantic future between him and me.  I guess you became the catalyst,” I laughed sadly.
He threw me off guard when he leaned in and kissed me.  A person can usually tell one someone is going to kiss you, but I totally wasn’t expecting this one.  I left out a little surprised squeak when his lips pressed to mine and soon I found myself wrapping around him like I did every other time he kissed me.  Jarret was so easy to get lost with, but I still wasn’t sure if it was due to the fact I was so physically attracted to him or for the fact that I wanted so bad for this to work out because I knew Jack was leaving.

“So what are you going to do with the house?” she asked as she finished taping up a box of books I was donating to the library.  Moving turned out to be the perfect time to part with things I hadn’t looked at in the last 5 years, yet I’m pretty sure Liz was taking most of my things for herself, including some of my old baseball hats.
“I’ll probably sell it once the housing market goes back up.  In the mean time Taylor said he was looking to get out of his apartment, so I told him he could stay here and pay the utilities since the mortgage is already paid off.”
“I see.”
“Are you going to buy a place in Saskatoon or just rent?” she asked, and I knew then she was just trying to make small talk.  I was actually surprised when she showed up here this morning offering to help me pack since she hadn’t really talked to me since the night Elsie was rushed to the hospital.  We were all in a state of shock and keeping busy seemed to be the only therapy that helped keep our mind off the one woman who loved us as her own.  But, I was fairly sure Liz wanted to give Jarret’s family alone time with Elsie, especially since they finally arrived early this morning.  In reality, I really didn’t want her help after finding her and Jarret kissing in the hospital garden last night, but I didn’t say anything because I don’t think she even knew I was there…
Last Night:
I came to say my goodbyes to Elsie on Friday night and also hoped to see Liz to say goodbye to her, but her and Jarret were nowhere to be found in the room or on the floor.
“Excuse me, have you seen Elsie’s visitors lately?” I asked one of the nurses in the hallway.
“Jarret Stoll?” she asked with wide eyes, practically drooling.
“Um, yeah.”
“Yeah, he and that girl,” she grimaced, “Said they were going outside for some fresh air.”
I wanted to tell her that I agreed with her disdain about the thought of them being a couple, but I figured it wasn’t appropriate so I just said, “Okay, thanks.”  I went out to the dimly lit garden saw the back of their silhouettes sitting on the bench looking quite cozy together.  I thought Jarret had seen me so I started taking steps towards them, but next thing I knew he was kissing Liz.  Suddenly I lost the urge to say goodbye and decided I’d just text her when I got to Saskatoon instead of ruining their little make-out session.
Back to Present:
“I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do,” I answered her honestly.  She wanted me to be honest, so I figured I might as well be.  “I don’t know how long I’m going to be in Saskatoon, I just might end up heading somewhere else, make a new start…”
Even though I was bent over packing some errant items into a box, I didn’t miss the look of shock on her face and the sudden slumping of her shoulders.  “Jack?”
“Yeah?” I stopped and looked up at her.
She stood there looking back at me like she wanted to say something but suddenly seemed to think the better of it and just shook her head.  “When are you going to say goodbye to Elsie?”
“I did,” I murmured, going back to moving a box with the others that were piled right by the front door.
“When?  I’ve been there for 2 days straight and I didn’t see you…”
“Well maybe if you weren’t making out with her grandson in the garden of the hospital, you would have seen me,” I cranked, unable to hold my tongue any longer.
“I wasn’t…wait, what?  I was not making out with him!”
“I saw you two kissing when I walked out into the garden,” I growled.
She looked at me for a moment like she honestly had no clue what I was talking about before I finally saw the light bulb switch on.  “Oh…”
“I thought Jarret saw me, so I started walking towards you two, but then suddenly you had your arms wrapped around his neck and well…I saw more than I wanted to,” I continued while busying myself once more.
She didn’t say anything, instead she just stood there quietly, almost as if she was in deep thought.  I watched curiously as she reached up and softly touched her lips and dropped her hand when she realized she did it, blushing as if she was ashamed yet not smiling.  She looked up at me and then suddenly began walking towards the front door.  “I’m sorry, I need to go…”
I stood still for a split second but my feet had a different idea, instantly overriding my brain by carrying me over to her.  I grabbed onto her arm and pulled her back inside the house, closing the door behind her and locking it.  “You are not going anywhere,” I said in a broken, low tone before pulling her towards me and kissing her hard.

Things just seemed off.  When Jack mentioned Jay’s kiss in the garden, it suddenly reminded me how I felt that kiss was out of nowhere.  It was out of nowhere because Jarret was staking claim on me by kissing me in front of Jack.  He knew that if he kissed me, Jack would most likely just walk away like he had done so many times.  Thinking about it threw me for even more of a loop because all this time I had been confused when the boys were basically trying to one-up each other without me really seeing it.  I had heard their conversation on the porch the night of the rescue and I had noted their heated conversation right before I came over and interrupted them so that Jack could go over my gear.
When Jack began kissing me so much of me just wanted to let him keep doing it but the red-head attitude took over and I pushed him off of me.  “Oh fuck no.  I am done with this.  I will not be fought over like some kind of prize!” I cried.  “You two keep banging chests and all this is about is getting the girl to show who is better! Well, how about you both don’t get the girl?  What does that do?!” I continued, moving out of Jack’s reach and unlocking the door.
“What the fuck are you talking about?!” Jack threw back, his strong hand coming down on mine and pulling it off the lock without giving me a chance for an escape.  “This isn’t a game to me Liz.  I love you.  Don’t you ever listen to a god-damn word I say to you?!”
“But Jarret…”
“Yeah, maybe he’s playing the game you are talking about but I’m not.”
“But you are leaving me,” I broke down, finally allowing the tears to come after keeping it in for so long.  I had been a wreck when it first came to light but I wasn’t allowed to dwell on it because of everything with Elsie and now here I was packing up his place and he was once again professing his love for me.  As a girl who did not deal well with drama, I was quickly finding myself in a really scary nightmare.
I sat down on the floor and put my head to my knees and just cried.
Jack sat down next to me and wrapped a strong arm around me, just letting me sob with an occasional, “sssh,” coming from his mouth, but nothing demanding me to stop for which I was grateful.
“All these years of waiting and now here I am…God…Elsie always tried to point it out but I never believed her because you never let on…I just always thought…why…”  Everything came out completely incoherent, but it all made sense to me.  I was in love with Jack for so long and I had waited so long for him to say those words to me, I had waited so long to be in his arms like we were that night in the tent and it all just came at the wrong time.  The one person I wanted to talk was lying in her hospital bed, on the cusp of crossing to the other side.
When I quieted down to just the hiccups with an occasional sniffle, Jack began to talk.  “Her name was Rochelle.  She was my high school sweetheart.  We had dated since we were 16 and we lost our virginity together on prom night.  I asked her to marry me on graduation night but she turned me down because she had been accepted to nursing school and said she had to finish that first.  So she went to school in Lethbridge and I went to medic school and began my training.  Two years later I proposed again and we bought our first house right outside of Saskatoon.  She got a job at the hospital where my medic unit was based out of, so we basically worked together unless I was out on a call.  A few weeks before our wedding I got sick and called off work.  I tried my damndest to get her to call off with me so that she could stay home and take care of me but she told me to stop being a baby and walked out the door.  30 minutes later I got a call from the ER director telling me to get to the hospital because Rochelle had been in an accident.  10 minutes after I arrived, she was pronounced dead.  I moved to Kamsack after a few months of drinking and staying holed up in the house that was supposed to be ours.  Rick had found me at a conference and talked me into working for him, promising me a new and different life.  I bitched and threatened to quit when he said he was making you my partner but when I saw your blue eyes I realized that maybe there was still something better in life for me.  When I saw you with Jarret that night in Vancouver, I realized I had waited too long to make my move.  Elsie gave me shit on the car ride home from Saskatoon, telling me that I was stupid for not telling you after all these years.  I told her that I didn’t want to ruin everything you and I had worked for.  I admit, I played you for a long time.  I always knew what made you nervous around me, I always felt you shutter when I’d stand close to you or touch you.  That morning we kissed, I realized I had waited way to long to do that.  That night we made love, I understood that God had made another woman for me to replace Rochelle and that I didn’t care if I threw my career away because I needed you.  I’m running away to Saskatoon in hopes you’ll come after me because I’m too much of a chicken to just tell you how I feel and how much I don’t want you to be with Jarret.”
After he was done speaking we sat there for what felt like hours, meditating on everything he had just put out in the open.  The next move is yours, Liz.

She looked over at me, bleary eyed and straight faced.  It was probably the first time I couldn’t read her mind.  Her blue eyes glowed with her red, puffy eyes and her hair was an utter disaster.  Tears still stained her beautiful face and her lip was swollen from chewing on it.  She looked so small and vulnerable as I cursed myself for being one of the main causes for this look.
I’m fairly sure I didn’t breathe when I watched her hand slowly reach across the small space between us and begin unbuttoning my shirt.  When it was completely un-done, her hands slid up onto my shoulders and began pushing it off of me.  I shrugged my shoulders to allow the shirt to just fall off and quick pulled off my ribbed-tank so that she didn’t have to worry about that either.  After that was off I leaned towards her and cupped her face with my hand, still marveling at the fact of how small she was compared to me.
She reached up with her small hands and took mine into hers, staring at it and running her finger-tips lightly over my palm, tracing the lines.  “Your hands are so rough but when you touch me, you are so gentle,” she whispered, only glancing at me once as she spoke.
“I’d never hurt you.”
“My uncle did a couple times,” she said quietly.
“I know.  Elsie told me.”
She looked up me and smiled sadly at me, biting her lip once more.  I couldn’t wait any longer.  I leaned in and kissed her, softly at first but then more urgently when she moved up onto her knees and moved closer to me.  I hooked my fingers into the bottom hem of her shirt and pulled it off of her in a fluid motion, her bra was off too before her shirt even hit the floor.  She crawled closer to me, pushing me backwards onto the floor so that I was now looking up at her while she straddled me.  Her hair became a shield from the outside world when it fell all around me.  This time our kiss wasn’t gentle, it was demanding and firm.  Out of need, I wrapped my arms around her small frame and pulled her down towards me, instantly turning up the heat when the warm skin of her torso came in contact with mine.  Her skin was silky smooth as I ran my hands up and down her back while we kissed like crazy.

I threaded my fingers through his dark, thick hair that I had loved since the first day we met.  He never kept it tame and it fit him perfectly when it curled around his ears.  His body was firm and hard underneath me, almost causing me to cry out in anticipation.  I wanted to make love to him and I wanted him to do the same to me.  He didn’t disappoint and after a few minutes of tongue-wars he rolled me off of him and switched positions.  He hovered above me and smiled before laying a trail of hot kisses down my neck.  I fumbled with the button on his shorts, but it didn’t take me long to get him out of them and down to his boxers.  Soon I was wiggling out of mine and he was burying himself between my thighs.
“Jack!” I cried out as his tongue delved into me.  My hands flew to his thick hair, giving me something to hold onto for the wicked ride he began taking me on.  I swear he was purring every time I moved or made a noise.  His strong arms clamped my legs down so that I couldn’t squeeze off the blood flow to his head as I came.  “F-fuck! Yes, more!” I yelled.  As soon as I came, he inserted a thick finger into me and started it all over again.  Too soon, stars were being seen and I was laying limp on the floor while he back over-top of me, kissing a path back to my lips.  I didn’t even notice he had removed his boxers until I felt his thick, hot length pushing against my tingling folds.  I spread my legs for him and granted him entrance.
Elizabeth,” he breathed hotly into my ear as he slowly pushed inside of me, stretching me as he went along.  “You feel like home, my beautiful Elizabeth.”
I’m fairly sure I’ll never get used to hearing such loving words from his mouth.  If you passed Jack on the street, you would see a gorgeous, dark and rugged man who looked like he would break an egg just by picking it up.  However, I quickly found that he was a gentle giant that knew how to touch and please with the best of them.  His words were the cherry on top of the most delicious sundae.
I wrapped my legs around him, pulling him deeper, rocking against him every time he bottomed out.  His arms were underneath me, cradling me while we made love with our eyes open.  It wasn’t long until we were both crying out and giggling at the beads of sweat that had formed on both of our bodies.
“Eeew, you’re totally all sweaty!” I squeaked when he playfully wiped his forehead on my shoulder.
“Like you are any better?” he chuckled, pulling a piece of hair off my face that had become plastered to my skin from our exerting activity.
“I thought guys like girls all sweaty,” I smiled.
He looked like he was going to disagree but he seemed to change his mind when he said, “Yeah, okay, it’s definitely sexy when you know you are the reason for the sweat.”
I just smiled and puckered my lips and willed him to kiss me, which he did with a loud “smacking” sound to finish it off.
This is what I have been missing for so many years.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chapter 11

Well, I'm posting another chapter... can you believe it?! So close together and it makes it look even closer with Blogger being down for the past 2 days!! Enjoy!!

Soundtrack: Jimmy Eat World - Gotta Be Somebody's Blues

Ch. 11

“Ryan!” the named echoed through the woods from the mouths of the volunteers and paid personnel of the squad. 
“Jack, I think we should check out the rocky ravine,” Liz called to me over the radio.  She was right, the campsite wasn’t that far away and it was always a good place for curious kids to check out.
“I really hate anyone repelling down that thing at night time.” I grumbled, answering her.
“I know, but we’ve combed everywhere else and you know how interesting that place is,” she came back, like she took the words from my brain.  That is why Liz and I worked well together, we thought alike and were always on the same page when it came to field work.  Too bad we couldn’t be on the same page about this whole relationship thing…
I took a deep breath before cueing up the mic of my radio.  “Get your gear on, kiddo.”
“Alrighty,” she came back, sounding happy as usual.  If there was one thing that Liz enjoyed the most, it was climbing and repelling, especially at night time because it was most dangerous.  However, she knew the ravine like the back of her hand and was the most skilled on the ropes.  I couldn’t help but shake my head and smile at the thought of her eyes probably lighting up at the moment and the fact that she was probably doing some sort of little jig.
15 minutes later we were standing by the ravine with the volunteers lined up along the top of it so that if they could see or hear anything, they would be able to relay it to Liz so that she could check things out.  Somehow I got stuck with Jarret right next to me.
“Isn’t this a little dangerous for her to be climbing around down there at night?” he asked, sounding as if he was being the worried boyfriend.  “This was not so nice in the daytime, so I can’t believe it’s going to be any nicer at night.” I wanted to punch him, but in reality, he seemed to be a nice guy who proved to have no problem crawling around out in the wilderness.  I knew hockey players were tough, but I guess I figured since he played in LA, he was probably too much of a pretty boy to be doing things like this.
“She knows what she’s doing,” I said in a short tone.
“I realize this,” he mumbled.
I turned and looked at him.  “Jarret, this is her life.  She lives for this.”
“I’m beginning to see that,” he said thoughtfully.  “That’s why I wanted to come along.  I wanted to see her in her environment.”
“Is this an experiment to you?”
“Excuse me?”
“You know, this whole relationship thing with you and her?  Is it an experiment to you?  Are you trying to see how far you can go before it doesn’t work and then you leave her broken?”
“I really like her if that is what you are getting at…”
“Anyone can like someone who is good in bed,” I bit back.
I could tell I was beginning to get under his feathers because his brow lines were becoming more and more defined.  “Look Jack, I’m sorry that you’ve never had the balls to make a move on her, but that isn’t my problem and I’m not stepping back.”
I felt myself clench my fist and I was about to take a step forward towards him when Liz called over to me.

“You ready Jack-a-roo?” I cooed while walking over towards Jack and Jarret as I finished latching my repelling harness.
He took me by the shoulders, turned me around and began his check of my rigging.  We had done this enough times over the years that it had become second nature.  My body twisted slightly as he pulled tight on my belts, making sure everything was okay.  “You be careful,” he said quietly as I turned back around to face him.  He said it every time and my response was the same every time, “I always am.”  He bent down and picked up my helmet, checking the flashlight that was on it.  Once it was deemed my equipment was good, he handed the helmet over to me and I gave him my baseball cap.
He looked like he was going to say something else but Jarret walked over and placed his hand on my shoulder.  I turned to look at him, surprising me when he swiftly leaned in to kiss me on the cheek.  “Be careful beautiful,” he whispered into my ear, causing a shiver to go through my body.
“This is my favorite part,” I shot back with a big grin, stepping away from him and giving myself some air from the tension I felt had already built with his and Jack’s egos being so close together. 
Soon I was bouncing down the rocks into the ravine, feeling the temperature automatically change and the dampness chilling me to the bone.  The probability of finding the little boy unharmed was quickly becoming smaller by the minute.  Once I was at the bottom of the ravine, I unhooked my harness and slowly began making my way down the uneven ground, looking for any sign of him.  I was about 100 yards away from my drop point when I caught a glimpse of white cloth about 6 feet away from me.
“Ryan?” I called out.
A small voice called back, “help me.”
I moved as quickly as possible over to him and found him lying on the ground.  There was blood oozing from his head and nose and his color was very pale.  I radioed up to Jack.
“I have him.  I’m going to need the stokes basket, spinal immobilization stuff, and my bag.  It looks like he fell down here and hit a few things on the way down.  He’s conscious, but barely.  Put the helicopter on standby.”
“Copy that, Liz.  Taylor is gearing up now to come down to you.”
While I was waiting for Taylor to get down the ravine with the supplies, I began doing a head-to-toe assessment on the little boy, finding he had a broken arm and possibly a few broken ribs and definitely a broken ankle.  I found some small tree branches and began making make-shift splints and just kept talking to the little boy.  Not having any bandages with me, I took off my t-shirt and wrapped it around the top of his head to help control some of the bleeding.  It was a little cold to be in just a sports bra, but I didn’t really care at the moment because I was more worried about my young patient.
“Lizzard, I’m down here, I need your help to carry over the supplies,” Taylor yelled.
I scrambled over to him and assisted him.  “Jesus, what happened to your shirt?  The bats get it?” Taylor chirped.
“He’s bleeding bad,” I informed him.
“Damn, I wish I would have thought of that to get you out of your shirt.”
“I’m so glad you’re so professional,” I chirped back, laughing as I shook my head.
“I call ‘em as I see ‘em and I still don’t understand how Jack hasn’t tied you up yet,” Taylor commented unabashedly.  “Because I know I would have done that the first day we were on the job together.”
“Gee, thanks for that lovely thought.  Okay, he’s right over here.”
As much as Taylor was a jokester, he was even that more serious when it came to doing his job.  We made quick work in starting a line, finishing the splinting and bandaging and packaging Ryan up so that we could get him up the ravine.
“We’re ready to hook him up to the ropes,” I radioed up to Jack.
“Everyone is ready up here.  You and Taylor get yourselves hooked in and then call me so we know when to start pulling up.”
5 minutes later, Taylor and I were on the tag lines that were attached to the basket, making sure the basket with our patient didn’t bang against the rocks as the people above pulled him up.  Once Ryan was safely to the top it was our turn to head back up to even ground.
“I hate climbing up these things in the dark, I’m always afraid I’m going to grab onto something that is going to bite me,” Taylor whined as we worked our way back up.  We could have waited for people to help pull us up, but I needed to get out of the ravine before I put myself in hypothermia, the adrenaline from the rescue was quickly wearing off and I was starting to mind the cold on my sweat soaked skin.
“You are such a pussy, Taylor,” I laughed, trying to keep my mind off of the same concern.  I actually enjoyed climbing in the dark for the challenges it presented, but he was right, you never knew what might be lurking on the ledges.
“And if it wouldn’t be for the fact that I know your boobs are real, I’d be questioning your sex.”
I was just about ready to pull myself up onto another spot when I felt a tug on my rope.  “Pullin’ you up, Liz!” Jack called down.
“Pull away,” I yelled back up, my voice echoing in the ravine as I allowed him to do all the work.  I was glad because my muscles were getting a little tired from all the work they had already done.

“Where the hell is your shirt?!” I grumbled when I pulled Liz up and onto safe ground.  She was shivering like a leaf only wearing a sports bra from the waist up.
“It’s on Ryan’s head,” she said simply through chattering teeth.
“I don’t have extra blankets for your ass,” I informed her.
She just shrugged as she tugged open the strap of her helmet.
“Here, take my shirt,” Jarret quickly came over, already pulling off a long-sleeved shirt.  He only had a sleeveless under-shirt on underneath and I think I heard a couple of the women volunteers leave out some sighs and moans.
Oh good grief.
Liz looked over at him and I’m fairly sure she also left out a sigh.  “Jarret, I’m fine, keep your shirt…”
Instead of listening to her, he just pulled the shirt down over her head, effectively muffling her words and waited for her to lift her arms up so that he could finish putting it on her.  She was grinning broadly at him and giggling as her head popped out from the collar of the shirt.  They were both laughing by the time she had it completely on and she was swinging the long sleeves around in circles, reiterating the fact that she was literally swimming in the shirt.  I’m fairly sure I almost gagged when I watched Jarret get down on his knees to roll up her sleeves like one would do for a child.
“Well, now that Liz is clothed, I think it’s time to get the hell out of here,” I growled as I passed by them, hoping they were pulled from their “little moment.”  “Maybe you can carry some stuff, Jarret?”
“Sure,” Jarret said pleasantly, taking the heavy rope bag and first aid bag off the ground.  I was left walking after the two happily chatting about things. 

I’m fairly sure Jack wanted to punch me.  I’m also fairly sure I would have punched back.  So maybe it was a dick move to kiss her in front of him, but he pissed me off.  Suddenly he was staking a claim on her despite the fact that he had known her for the last 7-8 years and had all the time in the world to make his move.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to stay over with you and get you all warmed up?” I breathed into Beth’s unruly, red hair while standing in her living room after Jack reluctantly dropped us off.
“I’m exhausted.  It’s been a long day and I have to work tomorrow day-shift,” she said, her voice muffled in my chest as she hugged me.  “Thank you so much for going along to help tonight; you didn’t have to do that.”
“It was no problem.  It’s not like I had anything better to do.”
“Still, I appreciate it,” she smiled, looking up at me.
I pushed some hair behind her ear and ran my finger lightly down the side of her cheek.  “Dinner tomorrow night?”
She took a breath and then broke eye contact with me before mumbling, “I already promised Jack that I’d have dinner with him to say thank you for fixing up my house today.”
I felt the jealousy instantly rush in when she said the words, but I kept it in check while nodded my head.  “Okay, well if you get done early, give me a call; maybe we can do a late movie night or something.”
“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind,” she said quietly, making eye contact with me once more, along with a small smile.
“Good night, Beth.”
“Night Jay,” she said before my lips met hers.

“I guess I’ll go home and get a shower before I come over for dinner.  I’d like to get changed anyway…” I informed Jack while grabbing my gear bag to throw it in the back of my truck.
“Yes please, I see you enough in your work uniform, I’d appreciate it if you put in some extra effort to come to my house for dinner,” he winked.
“Hell if I were you Jack, I’d tell her to just come over naked,” Taylor chirped while standing in the parking lot, smoking a cigarette.
“Of course you’d say that…” I rolled my eyes and shook my head.
“On second thought, Taylor has a good idea…” Jack started in, but stopped when I spun around in an attempt to punch him in the gut.  He caught my hand before I connected, pulled me towards him, picked me up and threw me over his shoulder.  I was kicking and squealing as he carried me over to the driver’s side door of my truck and opened it.  He set me down behind the wheel and grinned broadly at me.  “Go get changed, Lizzie.  I’ll see you in an hour. Clothed.”
I stuck my tongue out at him and started up the truck.  I’m fairly sure I heard him call out, “Don’t start what you can’t finish!” while I drove out of the parking lot.

This wasn’t the first time she ate over at my place, but this was the first time since I told her my feelings and made love to her.  Surprisingly today’s shift was not awkward and things were as they should be between us at work, but as I stood in front of my closet debating on what to wear, I found the nerves balling up in my stomach.  I didn’t want to go overboard and look like I was trying to impress, but I did want to make it look like I was putting forth an effort.  Besides, it was probably going to be the last night I spent with her.  Jason had called me during work and said to be in Saskatoon on Monday for my orientation shift.  I still wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do, but I didn’t really have a choice now.  I just didn’t know how I was going to break the news to Liz.
I was already outback grilling the steaks I had marinating the whole day while we were working when she arrived.
“That smells amazing!  I hope you have the whole cow grilling on there because I’m starved!” she exclaimed, peeking her head out the back door.  I was going to come back with some sort of comment about her having an appetite of a Hippo, but the words stayed in the back of my throat, making it difficult to swallow as I took in her looks.  She was in a light purple cotton sundress that came to her knees along with a soft looking, white cardigan and white flip-flops.  She had allowed her hair to air-dry, so it was a curly, unruly mess that laid on her shoulders, framing her face perfectly.  Before I could get my brain back from the vacation it suddenly took, she spoke shyly, “I hope you don’t mind that I decided to put on one of the dresses I bought in Vancouver.  I don’t have many places to wear stuff like this and I was in the mood to dress nice tonight.”
I shook my head and finally stuttered out, “N-no, p-p-please don’t apologize.  You look beautiful, Elizabeth.”
She looked up with shy blue eyes and smiled softly.  “Thanks.  You look good yourself.”
I looked down and shrugged off the compliment, cursing myself for just wearing a pair of khaki cargo shorts and a red buttoned-down cotton shirt.
“I always like when you wear red,” she continued.  “It make softens your brown eyes, almost making them look like honey.”
There was something in the way she spoke the words, something that told me she wanted me.  I smiled back at her and took the steaks off the grill, afraid that they would end up burning if my test proved correct.  As soon as they were on the plate, I moved over to her and pulled her against me.
“Jack,” was all I allowed her to whisper before my lips came crashing down onto hers.  She curled around me as we drank from one another.  My hands slid down her back and came to rest on her ass, pulling her intimately closer to me.  She moaned into my mouth and wound her arms around my necks, threading her fingers through my hair, causing me to shiver.
Soon we were inside of my house, in my bedroom.  I gently tugged on the zipper of her dress while she easily worked at undoing the buttons of my shirt.  “You smell so good,” I whispered when I leaned down and kissed her shoulder after I pushed down one of the straps of her dress.  Her skin smell like honeysuckle and it was as soft as the cashmere of her cardigan.  She lightly giggled at my observation but stopped as I allowed her dress to fall to the floor, leaving her standing vulnerably in front of me.  She stood stock still as I lightly traced some of the lines of her body with just my fingertips, memorizing her and praying to God she couldn’t see my future plans.  It was such a raw moment that I felt if I looked into her eyes, she would be able to see everything I never told her and know the truth about how much I loved her.
“Why are you leaving, Jack?” she asked quietly.
Guess I don’t even need to make eye contact with her.  Damn, she’s good.
“How did you know?” I asked hoarsely, finally looking up at her and lightly running my fingers through her hair, absently untangling it.
“I’m not stupid.  You didn’t just suddenly decide to fix up my house and I heard you on the phone today…”
“You were eavesdropping?” I raised an eyebrow at her, trying my hardest to keep the mood light.
“I was on my way out to get the hose so that I could rinse off some of the equipment we used from last night and I overheard you.  Please, don’t leave.”
“I can’t keep hide from the truth anymore Liz.  I’m in love with you and I want you to be with me.  You know as well as I do that we can’t do that here…”
“Seems to me like you are running away,” she said evenly, moving away from me and walking towards the back window of my bedroom, sneaking a look outside.  In doing so, the late evening sun shined through, creating a silhouette of her beautiful body that was now only covered with a delicate lace bra and a white laced thong.
“I can’t standby and watch you with him.  I already told you that, so until you make up your mind, I’m leaving.”
“What are my choices?” she asked, still looking out the window.
“Me or him.”
“He wants me to go to LA with him this weekend…”
“I’ll be gone when you get back.”
“I still don’t understand how it would work out between you and me, especially since you are moving 2 hours away from here.”
“We’d figured out something, I’m sure,” I said quietly as I walked up behind her, placing my warm hand on the cool skin at the small of her back.  “Look Liz, I know he can offer you the world with all the money he makes, but I would offer you my love and life and you know that means I would give you everything you ever needed.”
She leaned backwards against me, rested her head on my chest and sighed, “I know.  I’m sorry that I’m being stupid and seemingly unable to make a decision.  I know what I want, I’ve known for a long time, but here I am still second guessing everything.  I guess it doesn’t help that ever since I’ve known you, you’ve jumped around from one woman to another…” she admitted.  “I just don’t understand what makes me different.”
“The difference is that I’m in love with you Liz.”
She turned around and looked up at me with sad blue eyes, “But are you just saying that because of Jarret being in the picture?”
“Come on Liz, you know I never say things I don’t mean,” I cupped her face with my hand.  “I’ve only ever loved one other woman…”
“No one you knew…”
“What happened?”
I took a deep breath and looked at a spot on the window sill.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”
She left out a huff and went to move away from me.
“Liz, please, where are you going?” I exclaimed as she began picking her dress up off the floor.
She stopped, put her hand on her hip.  “You know what Jack?  This is exactly why I can’t make up my mind.  You know everything about me, yet I still don’t know everything about you.  I know you have a past that no one knows, but that’s what bother’s me.  I’m asking you this one question and you can’t even answer me.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.  It’s in the past and I just don’t talk about it,” I stupidly snapped back.
“Just like you couldn’t tell me after all these years that you have feelings for me?!”
“It’s not like you were 100% truthful to me about that either…”
“You are not going to pin this on me, Jack.  You couldn’t even fucking tell me you were moving away…” she cried.
I was just running my fingers through my hair, trying to figure out how not to fuck up the situation even more when my cell phone began blaring.  It was Elsie’s ring-tone, so there was no way I could ignore it.
“Hello?” I answered, trying not to sound annoyed.
“What do you want Jarret?” I growled into the phone, now not caring if I sounded overly annoyed.  Liz looked over at me with a confused look on her face.
“Taylor and Paul just came and picked up Grandma.  She passed out and was still unconscious when they left for the hospital…I can’t get a hold of Beth, but I knew you two would want to know…I’m going to head to the hospital now.”
“Just stay put, we’ll pick you up,” I said quickly and hung up.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Chapter 10

...this seems to be cranking out slower than I had hoped. Thanks for sticking with me anyway!  Glad to hear I'm filling up people's IPod's with some new music... hehe. I like to be a good influence.

Today's soundtrack is a beautiful tune off of John Mayer's latest album, it's called Edge of Desire.

"...there I just said it, I'm scared you'll forget about me."

Ch. 10

A day of golf was never my idea of a fun day, but I decided to give it a chance for Jarret’s sake.  He really seemed to be into it and I was okay with the plan as long as he was involved in it.  What did it hurt to try and like it?  However my thoughts weren’t totally assured as I stood in the golf shop looking around at some of the other people milling around in expensive looking golf clothing, totally looking the part.  I looked down at my ripped jean shorts, patterned tank-top and ratty old sneakers. I felt like I hadn’t gotten the dress code memo.  Even the lady at the front desk gave me a little disdained look as Jarret paid our fee for the day.
“Would have been nice to tell me that white capri pants and a bright polo shirt was the accepted golfing attire,” I grumbled while we stepped out of the store and into the bright sunlight.
“What are you talking about?” Jarret laughed while throwing my rental golf clubs on his shoulder and dragging his own set with his other free hand.
“Well after seeing what the other people were wearing, I’m afraid I don’t really look the part and I’m fairly sure the lady at the desk thought I was your caddy…”
“There is no dress code here and besides, I think you look totally hot in what you are wearing,” he smiled with a wink, allowing his to graze down to my subtle cleavage.
I smiled back and laughed, but inside the little voice in my head that yelled at me last night when Jay and I were doing the deed, came back again, a little louder this time.  You two are too different and this will never work.
The day turned into a beautiful one and even though I found myself very frustrated at times by having to constantly search for my ball, I did have a nice time laughing and spending time with Jay.  We really did have a connection and it was nice to be with someone that I didn’t feel I had to spend time with because we worked together, even though there were still times I felt as though he was still the unobtainable knight in shining armor. 
“Just relax your whole body,” he whispered, sending shivers down my spine as he stood behind me, wrapped around me as we stood at the 9th- hole.  I was becoming very flustered and it was beginning to show, so Jarret decided to go ahead and give me the old golfing instruction gig.
“This is totally cliché,” I laughed, bending over and totally pushing my butt into his crotch without thinking about it until I felt him instantly get hard.  “And it’s totally turning you on,” I continued laughing while I gave my butt a little wiggle before standing upright once again.
“I was trying to be serious,” he laughed.
“I really don’t have the patience for this,” I sighed, leaning my head back onto his chest, his face casting the perfect shadow over my face from the sun.  “Mini-golf is definitely more up my alley…”
“So are you saying you’re done?”
“That’s alright,” he said, sounding a little sad, but when I looked up at him his grey eyes were still smiling.

I knew she wasn’t enjoying it much; it was obvious she was annoyed that she sucked at it.  Just like anything else in life, when you become frustrated with something you aren’t good at, it’s just hard to find any pleasure in it.  I was becoming slightly annoyed with it too because frankly I couldn’t enjoy playing like I normally do.  So I figured it was time to call it a day on the golf course.
We ended up doing a little shopping because there were a few things that Beth wanted that she was unable to purchase in Kamsack.  After we secured everything in my SUV, we went for lunch at a quaint café that frankly was a surprise in the prairie town.
I think one of the reasons I enjoyed Beth’s company was because she seemed to be so naïve about the world.  Every time we talked about my life or LA, her eyes were always big with surprise and wonder.  I knew I had to get her to LA before it was time for me to return there for the season.  She deserved to see it and I hoped that by taking her there, it would be easier to persuade her to move there with me at some point.
Alright, so we aren’t even officially in a relationship, but I have never been known to move slowly into situations.  I knew Beth and I had a connection and I was all for making it known to her.

 “I can’t imagine walking down the red carpet for a movie premier!” I exclaimed as we sat at a small café right next to the golf course, eating lunch.
“It’s not as glamorous as you may think,” he laughed easily.  “People wear a lot of fake smiles and I constantly feel like I need to wear one when I’m around them.  It gets old.”
“Oh,” I said a little sad that the picture I had painted in my head while reading all the People magazines over the years was skewed.
“But we can go to one when you come to LA,” he continued.
“Me, go to LA?” I asked, suddenly looking up from my plate to stare at him skeptically.
“Sure, why not?”
“I would never fit in there.”
“You would fit in anywhere.”
I just shook my head back and forth and took a bite of my sandwich. 
“Well, why don’t we find out?” Jarret mused as he sat back in his chair and flashed me that smile that made me melt every time.
“What do you mean?”
“Come with me to LA next weekend.  I have some things to take care of, so you can check out my place and we can do some of the touristy things.”
I bit my lip as my eyes grew large.  “Um, I don’t know.  I really don’t have money for a plane ticket and I’d have to find a switch for work…”
He instantly began shaking his head and holding up his hand to tell me to stop speaking.  “I will be paying for the ticket and I’m sure you could sweet talk someone into switching with you,” he chuckled.
“I could never let you pay for my ticket, I mean we aren’t even officially together,” I protested.
He reached across the table at this point and took my hands into his and gave me a look that I could have sworn Jack gave me the other morning when I woke up in his arms.  “I want this to be more than a fling, Beth.”
I laughed nervously and shook my head.  “Jay, you are out of your mind.”
“How so?”
“You are going back to your real life in a little over a month and I will still be here in my life,” I stated plainly.  Of course I felt my heart flutter a bit when he said the words, but I was a realist and no matter how good in bed we were together, I knew it wouldn’t go father than that.  I did surprise myself a bit when I heard the words come from my mouth, but it was obvious I had thought about the subject more than once.
“You could always move to LA with me,” he said calmly.
My eyes probably grew to be the size of grapefruits as I choked on the beer I was drinking.  After I was done with my coughing spell I looked over at him and stuttered, “A-are your crazy?!”
He flashed his laid back smile and shrugged his shoulders.  “No, I don’t think so.”
“Oh, I think you are.”
“Come on Beth, you can’t tell me you haven’t dreamed about getting out of here and moving on…”
“Well sure, what person hasn’t?  But honestly, I’m not quite sure you realize how important my job is to me.”
“I know you love it, but I’m sure you could get a job as a medic in LA or even a job at the hospital if you feel you have to have a job,” he spoke like it was no big deal.  “Just come with me to LA for the weekend, seriously Beth, it’s not like you need to make a decision this minute.  I was just throwing ideas out there for you,” he chuckled.
I didn’t really see much humor in it at all, instead I found myself becoming slightly annoyed.  Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Jarret, but it bothered me how he seemed to be moving rather quickly and just assuming things.  Never mind the fact that I am probably one of the most independent women on the planet and feeling like a caged animal was not at all something I enjoyed.
“Are you ready to head back?” he asked quietly, pulling me from my thoughts.  I looked over to find him with a furrowed brow and seemingly worried.  Before I could answer he spoke.  “Beth, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to sound pushy or seem like I’m just assuming things.”  He paused and sighed.  “I just wanted you to know that I am serious about making this more than a fling with you and that I’m really serious about you.”
The tone of his voice and words instantly soothed my mind, leaving me no other choice but to genuinely smile back at him and nod my head to accept his apology.  I too wanted this to work even though at the moment, I had no clue how.

“Jack, you and Liz gotta get in here!  We have a little girl lost out in the woods...” Doug yelled excitedly into the phone.  “I think we need Bruno too.”
“Alright, I’ll call Liz,” I grumbled into the phone, just getting out of the shower.  Too bad I didn’t even know where Liz was.  I had actually spent the whole day over at her house, fixing her roof.  I had list of things I wanted to finish up before leaving for Saskatoon and fixing up Liz’s house was one of them.  Liz never asked me to do it, but I felt she would never get it done if I didn’t do it.  When I stopped by to drop off something with Elsie, she said that Lizzie and Jarret were down in Yorkton, golfing.
“Liz?! Golfing?! You’ve got to be kidding me!” I snorted as I loaded some of the left-over shingles Elsie had sitting in her garage from when I put a new roof on her house.
“I told you her and Jarret were the perfect match,” the old woman announced with a big grin.
I laughed ironically, “Perfect together when she has to act like a different woman around him?  Yeah, totally sounds perfect.”
“I heard your sarcasm, don’t mock an old woman.”
“Don’t be blind, Elsie.  Come one.  Since when have you known Liz to play dress up or go play golf?  She only started doing those things when Jarret came to town.  If she has to be a different person for him to love her, then he doesn’t deserve her,” I grunted as I dropped another load of shingles in the back of my truck.
“Well, I don’t see you fighting for her,” Elsie snapped back as she stood on her porch with her hands on her hips.
“I told her how I felt,” I growled.
“And just because she can’t make an instant decision, you give up and move away.”
“I don’t know what you are talking about,” I turned away, cursing Rick for letting the cat out of the bag.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.  Why else would you be over here getting shingles to repair her house?!  You’re planning on running away.  You hit adversity and instead of fighting for her, you run away.  You did it when you lost your fiancé and now you’re doing it with Liz.”
Elsie was lucky she was a frail old woman, because I really just wanted to punch her.  She was the only one in this town that knew about Sarah, my late fiancé who fell in a climbing accident.  She was the reason I left Saskatoon and moved to Kamsack.  Elsie of course was the only one who knew this fact, not even Liz knew.  “I’m not running away,” I gritted through my teeth.
“What do you care, Elsie?! Don’t you see this as a victory in your book?!  I’m fairly sure you said on the way home from Saskatoon that you wanted Liz and Jarret to be together.”
“I do want them together, but I also want the best for Lizzie and I was hoping you’d finally step up to the plate and show that you are just that.  Come on Jack, if you don’t know by now how I like to ruffle feathers, then you aren’t that smart,” Elsie said, shaking her head.
Her words were still echoing through my head as I hit send on my phone to call Liz.
“Hey Jack-a-roo,” she crooned happily into the phone, sounding slightly breathless.
“Where are you?” I asked, sounding a little more rough than I wanted to, but we had a job to do and I was already in that emergency mode.  “Are you home yet?”
“I’m back in Kamsack if that is what you are inquiring.  What’s wrong Jack?” she asked, instantly catching my drift that something was up.
“We have a missing kid at the park.  Doug is gathering the volunteers as we speak.”
“Okay, I’m out for a walk right now, but I’ll be back at my house in 5 minutes,” she said quickly and I could tell she had already begun jogging.
“Alright, I’ll be over in 10 to pick you up,” I said, hitting the end button before even saying goodbye.
Despite not being surprised to find him there, I was still slightly annoyed to find him pacing around in the front yard in his designer white shorts and black polo shirt.
“Hey Jack!” he said, jutting out his hand for me to shake.  I nodded politely and shook it before walking past him and towards the front door of Liz’s house.  “I’m going to be coming along to help with the search,” he called out to me.
I instantly stopped and turned around, raising an eyebrow.  “You might ruin your white shorts,” I growled.
He looked down at his clothing, like he forgot what he was wearing and then shrugged as he looked back up at me.  “Wouldn’t be the first pair that got ruined; I want to help.”
“Whatever.”  I had my hand on the door knob of Liz’s brand new screen-door that I had installed just a few hours prior when I felt Jarret’s hand on my shoulder.  I turned and look at him.  “What?”
“I know you don’t like me and I’m fairly sure why, but I just wanted to say that I would never hurt her and I promise to take good care of her.”
I almost laughed at him, but the sincerity in his tone of voice and face stopped me.  It wasn’t like I was afraid he’d punch me.  Sure, he was a big-shot hockey player, but we were both built and I knew I could hold my own against him.  Besides, what self respecting man wears white shorts?!  So instead I just said, “You’ll never love her the way I do.”  Before he was able to say anything I turned back around and opened the door, almost bowling over Liz over in the process.
She had a mixture of a frown and smile on her face, so I knew she had heard our conversation.  “Are we ready to play nice boys?” she chirped as she pushed past both of us.  “We have a job to do.”
Jarret and me both tossed a glare back and forth at each other and nodded silently.

As soon as she told me why she had suddenly begun jogging back towards her house, I instantly informed her that I would go along to help.  For starters I didn’t have anything better to do and second, I was anxious to see Beth in her own environment.  I had been intrigued by her career choice since day one, and what better way to understand her passion for it than to see her in action.
I knew instantly when seeing Jack’s sour face that he was more than annoyed to have me tag along, but it just gave me more of a reason to go along.  I didn’t have anything against the guy, but his attitude pissed me off and it annoyed me how he seemed to toy with Beth’s emotions.  She hung on his every word and I knew how upset he made her the week or two after I arrived here.  I guess being her partner, he had learned to become very protective of her, but I wanted to prove to him that he was not the only one who had come to feel like her protector.
I shouldn’t have been surprised by his comment of loving her better than me, but it did kind of throw me off course.  Does she know how he feels about her?  Is this why she was so mum about the camping trip?  Who the fuck does this guy think he is?  Part of me was happy to find Beth standing on the other side of the door, but after seeing her face I felt like she was scolding both of us.  Never mind the fact that we are two grown men acting like two love-struck bratty teenagers.  Either way, Jack claimed his territory and declared war with his words.
As much as I wanted to think about it, there was a bigger problem on our hands at the moment.  Somewhere out in the darkening wood was a little lost boy that we had to find.  When we arrived at the park entrance, we were briefed along with the volunteers that had showed up.  I was surprised to find that almost half the town was there to help, but then again it was the small town mentality that everyone helps everyone. 
After a debriefing, we quickly set out, combing the area.  The little boy’s name was Ryan and he was last seen a few hours ago, wandering around his family’s campsite.  His mother went inside for a moment and when she came back out from the tent, he was nowhere to be found.  After the family searched on their own for a bit, they called for help.
Beth explained that families should call immediately, because it makes our job that much harder.  Families become upset which tends to get them confused on the possible travel direction of the lost child and sometimes even they end up getting lost, making an even bigger problem for the rescuers.
“Do you want me to carry that pack?” I asked as Beth slung a heavy looking back-pack over her shoulder.
She looked up at me and gave me a look that said, “Are you kidding me?”
I laughed and apologized.  “Sorry, I’m not used to a tough chick.”
She smiled and nodded.  “Just don’t forget again,” she joked before giving me a wink and walked away to meet up with Jack and the rest of the guys from the squad.

“So how is that I come home and find my roof fixed and new screen doors attached to my house?” I asked, amused as I walked over to Jack to fell into step with him.
He looked down at me with the wicked, adoring smile I had come to love over the years while he shrugged his shoulders.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Thank you.”
“No need.”
“I owe you.”
“You owe me nothing.  You’re my friend and you needed it done, I had free-time so I figured why not,” he said, looking straight ahead.
“Whatever Jack.  I still owe you.”
“Fine, then come over to my house and have dinner with me tomorrow evening,” he looked over at me with soft eyes.
“How is that paying you back?” I asked nervously, feeling the butterflies beginning to build from the combination of the look in his eyes and the thought of being alone with him in his house.  It wasn’t like I spent enough times over there, but after what happened on the camping trip and the little declaration he made on my front porch tonight, I found myself in a state of spinning confusion.
Before he answered me, Rick pulled us back to the task at hand by barking out orders and soon the search began.