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The Power of Good-byePresent (May)“I’m just going to open the bottle of wine-” Nicole stopped mid sentence, leaned against the door frame and frowned slightly when her eyes fell on Chase. His back to her, facing the computer. “You better not be doing work.” she warned.“Just checking my emails before dinner.” Chase answered as he swiveled around in the chair to face her. Nicole gave him a wrinkle of her nose in annoyance. Chase patted his knee in invitation. She fitted against him perfectly, as her arms looped around his neck as she perched on his lap. “Work will be there tomorrow.” Nicole said. She had managed to get him away from his work for a few hours. They had spent most of the afternoon out on the beach. It had been a perfect afternoon, just Chase, her and the sun. She had wanted a day where neither one thought about school or work, especially him. She was worried about him. Since starting at the firm, he had been working non-stop. It seemed that he spent every waking moment at the office, and it was starting to take a toll on him. He spent half of his time thinking or stressing over his work. It wasn’t healthy. He closed his eyes for a split second and sighed. “I know. I know.” He opened his eyes back up and locked his eyes with hers. “I’am a workaholic.” he admitted with a small grin. Nicole felt the familiar flutter in her stomach when he smiled. “The first step is admitting you have a problem.” she answered in a serious tone. “You know... I hear your girlfriend would like to see you a little more often.” she teased. “Really? She said that?” He asked, playing along. Nicole nodded. “Yep. She said that if you don’t give her the attention she deserves then she will have to go find it else where.” “You think she’s serious?” Chase said trying to hide his smile. “I don’t know.” she replied. “But if I were you, I would do something about it-I mean if you want her around.” giving a small shrug and then tilting her head back to stare at him, putting his lips too close to hers. She watched as he dipped his head that last inch for a kiss. She couldn’t help but smile as his lips finally touched hers. A light moan escaped her lips. God, could he kiss. When he lifted his head, satisfaction was written all over his face. Nicole licked her lips as she narrowed her eyes down at him. “What’s that look for?” Chase shrugged. “What look?” he asked innocently as he rubbed the small of her back. “Hmm.” was Nicole’s response, as she leaned back in and gave him a peck on the cheek. The annoyance she had been feeling a few moments earlier evaporated. She was happy. He made her happy. She couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this way. He had given back the hope that relationships could really mean something. She had opened herself up to him, in ways she had never truly done before. He had broken down walls that no other men in her past had even been able to make dents in. “Except for one.” she reminded herself. She wrinkled her nose at that thought. That relationship was different and separate from all her others. “Things will get better after this last trip.” Chase promised, breaking her out of her thoughts. “The case will be closed and you will have me back to wait on you hand and foot.” he teased, referring to the trip he had to make tomorrow to Chicago. He had been flying back and forth for 3 months now, working on his first real case. Nicole grinned. “Good.” At least she got to spend a Saturday alone with him. When the relationship between her and Chase had began, Nicole couldn’t have imagine that a year and half later, they would still be together. She figured after a few months it would fizzle out, as her past relationships always seem to. But he had surprised her in ways she hadn’t imagine. He stuck around, and was patient. There had been no rush to label the relationship, it had developed at it’s own pace. A perfect example of that was: after 16 months together, neither one had uttered those three little words. Did she care for Chase? Yes, but she wasn’t in love. She learned a long time ago, saying the words “I love you” wasn‘t only about saying them, but feeling it. And in her past relationships, she would say it back because the words were said to her first. And as she got older, she regretted ever saying the words without feeling that emotion.The only time Nicole had ever truly meant those words was at the age of fifteen, it was the only time it had ever felt genuine and real. It was also ironically when she had been the most naive and blind about love. But she had meant the words. She remembered it clearly. But every time since then, the words were just that: words. She wasn’t going to make the same mistake she had made in the past. She was more than fine with how things were going at the moment. Were they in a committed relationship? Yes. Did she like being with him, and talking to him? Yes. Did she miss and think about him when he wasn’t around? Yes. But they were doing it their way. Not how everyone else thought it should be. She had lost count of how many times she’d been asked at work when she plan on moving in with him, or any plans of marriage. Her answer was always the same: “We’ll see.” They were still getting to really know each other. Nicole knew there was things she didn’t know about him. Things that Chase still hasn’t share with her, and Nicole was okay with that. She knew there was sides of him she hadn’t seen yet and there was no rush on her part. If she was meant to see it, then she would. And even though she had opened up to him, she knew she wasn’t all fully there. And a tiny part of her knew she would never be. Even if she tried, there was always going to be a part of herself she wouldn’t and couldn’t share with another man. She had done it once before-and it had gotten her nowhere. It only caused her pain and resentment. No, it was better this way. She knew deep down it wasn’t fair. He deserved more. But she just couldn’t do it.She jumped when she felt a poke on her side. She blinked and locked eyes with Chase. “What?” she asked, but knowing she had been caught in her own thoughts.He gave her a curious look. “You were deep in thought.” he said, his palm resting on the small of her back. “Something you want to share?” Nicole gave him another kiss on the cheek. She was sure she wasn’t ready to share those thoughts with him. “I was just wondering if you were going to be back in time for graduation.” she said instead. She was finally graduating! It seemed like this day would never come, but it was finally here and she was so thankful. She hadn’t plan on grad school taking this long, but other things in life had gotten in the way...but all that mattered now was that she was done. “The ceremony is Thursday afternoon, I should be back by Wednesday night. I will be there.” he promised, pressing a kiss to her temple. “I wouldn’t miss it. This is big deal.” Nicole nodded in agreement with a serious look on her face. “It kind of is. Yes.” Chase only chuckled. Nicole grinned from ear to ear. “Your mom flies in when again? Tuesday or Wednesday?” “Tuesday night.” Nicole answered. “She’s been asking about you...so be warned.” she teased.“I like your mom.” Chase answered. Susan had met Chase a few times in the past couple of months, and just like Nicole predicted, her mom had fallen in love with him. Susan had even extended him an invitation home, which Nicole was pretty sure her mother never done before. Susan had made it clear to Nicole, how much she liked Chase for her. Nicole had already heard more than once how relieved Susan felt that her only daughter had found someone who made her happy, who seemed to truly care for her. She had made a comment a few weeks ago, how much calmer Nicole seemed now that Chase was in her life. Nicole still really didn’t understand what that meant...“She likes you too. Believe me.” Nicole said with a laugh. “Why is that funny?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. “What? I’m not laughing-it’s just she’s very fond of you. And she’s never acted this way with any of my ex-boyfriends.” Nicole confessed. “You must have had some lame boyfriends before me.” Nicole nodded. “Yes. None compare to you.” she answered sarcastically. “Are you mocking me?” he asked with a light frown.Nicole got up from his lap. “No. Why would I do that?” She lead herself and him down the hall and toward her kitchen. “I hope dinner didn’t get cold.” She let out a small yelp when his arms wrapped around her waist. “I leave tomorrow morning.” Chase murmured into her ear. He had her back pressed to his chest. “Yeah, I know. I’m driving you to the airport remember?” “Then we should start saying goodbye right now.” “I’m hungry Chase.” she said with a small grin on her lips. “Starving.” But as the words left her mouth, Chase lead them toward her bedroom. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2 days later...Nicole walked toward the front door as the doorbell ranged again. She frowned to herself. “I’m coming.” she called out. Rachael could be so damn impatient sometimes. She got to the door, placed her hand on the knob, ready to give Rachael an earful. She opened the door and blinked in surprise when she realized it was Justin who stood on the other side of the threshold, a small grin on his handsome face.It faded slightly, as his eyes wondered over her. “You didn’t have dress up for me.” he teased. Nicole glanced down at her attire, she was in a pair of gray poly fleece pants, and in her favorite red hooded sweater, that ironically once belonged to Justin. She wrinkled her nose at him and ignored the comment and asked. “Where’s Rachael?” stepping aside to let him in the house.Justin snorted. “Nice to see you too sweetheart. Rach got called back into the office as she was getting ready to come this way. She was going to come by here first and then go back to the other side of town. I told her I would do her the favor and drop by instead.” Graduation was 3 days away, and she hadn’t found anything in her closet she wanted to wear. Rachael and her had gone shopping the day before and hadn’t found anything. Rachael had texted her later that night and told her she would drop by a few outfits she had in her closet the next day, maybe there was something in her closet she could wear. “Why didn’t she call? Graduation isn’t for another 3 days, I could have picked them up or she could have dropped them off tomorrow.” “She did call- but it went straight to voicemail.” Justin said, as his gaze fell unto the big bay window a few feet away. The ocean starring back at him. Nicole felt a small smile tug on lips despite her mood. Justin had only been inside the house once before since the finish remodel and it had been for only a few minutes. Nicole couldn’t be more happy with the final results of the house. He spoke again. “And you wanted to sell it.” he reminded with a shake of his head in disgust.
Nicole rolled her eyes and shut the front door. But deep down she was glad things had gotten back to normal between them, especially after what transpired 7 months ago in Memphis. Even after all this time, Nicole still wasn’t sure how it happened. All she knew was that it had. One moment they had been sitting, and talking, and the next moment they were lost in each others; kissing and touching. She was sure things would have gotten out of hand if they had not been interrupted by the rain. So they ran back to the pick-up-hand in hand- once inside Nicole had expected the ride back to be awkward, but in fact, it had felt quite the opposite. There had been a sense of calmness between them. She had glanced over at him as he drove, one hand on the wheel, while the other hand had rested on her thigh. Neither one had said a word, they realized there was no need to discuss anything. They had accepted what they had done, and it hadn’t been brought up since then. In fact, they acted as if it never happened. They both knew it was no use talking about it. They had tried talking and in reality it lead nowhere. So the best thing to do was move on from it and let it go. She had felt as if she had left that part of herself at creek that night. In a way she knew it was last time they would allow themselves to do what they did. And when Nicole had leaned in and gently brushed her lips one last time against his- before getting out of the truck-she knew Justin felt the same way.She looked over at him, Justin stood a few feet away, narrowing his eyes down at her. “Why are you looking at me that way?” Nicole asked, feeling a bit exposed. She knew he could sense something was going on. She hated that he could do that. “It’s 4 in the afternoon, and you’re still in pj’s.” Justin observed. “You haven’t even left the house today.” It was more of a statement than a question. “These are not pajamas.” Nicole said defensively, folding her arms across her chest. These were her-having-a-moody-day-clothes. “And can’t I lounge around my house?” she snapped, as she walked toward the kitchen. She was in the middle of making an early dinner, when the doorbell had ranged. Justin followed and said after her. “You should be out celebrating your graduation.” Nicole stood in front of the oven by then, but turned around and faced Justin. “Graduation isn’t for another 3 days-” “Yeah and you think you would be happy about it.” As he spoke, she bent down and opened the oven door to check on the pieces of lemon chicken she had roasting. There was a few moments of silence before she heard him say. “You want to talk about it?” Nicole froze for a split second at his words, but pretended the words didn’t have any affect as she closed the oven door and stood back up. She turned back around and faced him. He stood there, looking at her, as if trying to read her thoughts. Nicole leaned against the edge of the cabinet and stared back. “Talk about what?” Her gaze not wavering. “About whatever you want.” Justin answered with a shrug. She gave him a long look, but did not say a word. After a few moments, she broke the gaze and looked over his shoulder and out of the window, starring at the waves for a few seconds. It was as if Justin knew better than to push and quickly asked. “Do you want to help me with the stuff? I think Rachael shoved her whole damn closet in the back of the car.” Nicole knew that was his way of dropping the question. So she nodded and answered. “Yeah, of course.” as she followed him to the front door. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Justin stood up at the same time Nicole did. “I can do the dishes.” he offered. Nicole walked toward the sink, hers and his empty plates in her hands. “It’s okay.” she said to him over her shoulder with a small smile. “I got it.” “Yeah, but you made dinner. It’s the least I can do.” Justin insisted, as he followed her toward the sink. “Nicole-” She was at the sink by then, she turned and faced him. “Justin.” she mocked in a serious tone. After helping him take out the outfits Rachael had picked out for her out of the car. Nicole found herself asking him to stay for dinner, and it wasn’t because she felt force to do so because he brought over the clothes. No, it was because she realized they hadn’t really hanged out in weeks, months in seemed. She had expected him to turn down her invitation since they hadn’t been alone in months, but instead he had looked her straight in the eyes, a small smile on his lips as he answered with a simple “Sure.” For whatever reason, Nicole had felt a sense of relief run through her at his response. And as he helped her with dinner, they had talked. And as they ate, they talked. They took turns. She talked about graduation, and her job. She had even talked to him about Chase. He told her about all the projects he was working on. He talked about Jessica as well, and how things between them were a lot better. It had felt good to just talk to him as her best friend. It made her forget- at least for few hours-about how she was truly feeling. It felt good to sit across from him and have a meaningful conversation. She was always surprise on how they could start talking about something so simple as a book, and it progress from there. Nicole never realized how much she craved and missed those types of conversations with him. She loved hearing his thoughts and ideas and she liked sharing her own with him.“I didn‘t do it all by myself. You helped.” she reminded and put the plates in the sink. And then of course they could bicker like no other. “Stop being such a stubborn ass.” she teased. He had helped with the salad, and mash potatoes. He stood next to her by then and glared. “You’re being a stubborn ass.” nudging her on the side. “You just don’t think my washing skills are up to your standards.” He said in hurt voice. Nicole rolled her eyes as she turned the faucet on and filled the sink with water and added dish soap. “You are such a child.” She gave him a side way glance with frown, yet couldn’t help but think how good he looked with his 5 o’clock shadow and curls. It had been about 2 months ago since he shaved it all off. She blinked, and gazed out of the window instead. The sun was beginning to set. She had to stop thinking about him that way. She shut the faucet and reached for the sponge. Justin still stood next to her, and he handed her a dirty plate from the other side of the sink. Nicole took the plate and looked back over at him with an amused look. Justin narrowed his eyes. “It’s better than just standing here and doing nothing.” he said. “I’ll hand them to you and you can rinse them.” “J-it’s not a big deal-” He interrupted her with a raised eyebrow. “Are we really going to continue arguing about this?”Nicole shut her mouth and pouted. After a few moments of silence she spoke up again. “You started it.” Unable to control her mouth. She heard Justin chuckle lightly. “What so funny?” He shook his head as he handed her another plate. “You always have to have the last word.”“So?” she said, but grinned despite herself as she rinsed the plate.Justin splashed a few droplets water in her direction. “Smart ass.” Nicole let out a small squeak, and quickly jumped back, glaring. A sudden feeling of appreciation consuming her, for him being there with her. The beginning of the day had not started off well. She had taken the week off at work for graduation. She had planned on going out and getting a few errands done before Susan arrived the next day. She had gotten out of bed and made her way to the kitchen before she showered and dressed. But the longer she sat with her cup of coffee, the more she wanted to crawl back into bed, so she had. Everyone had their bad days, and today was hers. But even on days like these, Nicole wasn’t the type to crawl into bed and pretend the world didn‘t exist, she was the type that sucked it up and got on with her daily routine, but for some reason she hadn’t been able to do that today. She had gotten out of bed to shower and changed a hour and half before Justin had shown up. She probably would have stayed in bed if she hadn’t been expecting company. “When does Susan get here?” he asked, breaking her out of her thoughts. Nicole took the salad bowl out of his hand and replied. “Tomorrow night.” They stood in silence for a few moments. “I think she’s more excited about it than I am.” Nicole said, breaking the silence. She turned and face him. “I can already see her in the stands...” she gave a small groan. “Oh god.” Justin snorted his laughter. “It wont be that bad-” he stopped abruptly. “What?” “Then again- Mom will be there to join in.” he gave a serious look. She stuck her tongue out at him. Justin tossed his head back and laughed. “C’mon Nic, this is a big deal. Let us enjoy it.” “Us?” Nicole repeated. He nodded. “Yeah. We’ve all been waiting for this moment. Our little girl is growing up.” he said in a mocking tone. “Shut up.” she said with a grin and splashed water in his direction. He glared. “Don’t look at me that way. I didn’t get you wet.” she informed him. But her mind was already forming ideas on how to do so. She saw the sprayer... “Don’t do it.” she heard Justin warned before she had the chance to grab it.Nicole looked up at him innocently. “What are you talking about?” Instead she turned the faucet on. “Don’t give me that shit.” Justin snapped. “I saw where your hand was reaching for.” He nodded to the still dirty dishes in the sink. “Let’s finish this.” he stated. Nicole raised an eyebrow. “Who made you boss of me?” But before Justin had a chance to respond or blink, she had grabbed the sprayer and pointed it in his direction. “Answer the question Timberlake!” she demanded with a grin. Justin had his hands up in the air with a look that could kill. “I swear you fucking spray that and you will pay Nicole.” She saw a faint hint of a smile on his face. “Drop it.” he said. She gave a small shake of her head. “Right. I drop it and then you grab it. Nice-” she didn’t finish, instead she let out a small scream. Justin had gotten the sprayer out of her hand, and had it pointed at her. “Justin.” she warned.“Ohh. Not so high and mighty now.” he teased. Unlike her, he didn’t hesitate, and the next thing she knew she was yelling for him to stop as he sprayed her with water. Nicole laughed as she ducked and opened the fridge, trying to find something in there to hit him with. She hid behind the door as she reached for a bottled water. She looked down at herself, the front of her sweater was completely soaked. “You should have done it when you had the chance.” Justin said with a laugh.She took the cap off the bottle. “That was not fair.” she whined as she got herself ready to shut the fridge door and pour the water on him. She had the perfect spot for it too. “What are you going to do? Stand behind that door all night.” “Truce?” Justin sighed as if debating, but said. “Truce.”Nicole put the bottle behind her back, and shut the fridge door with her free hand. They stood a few feet away. Justin still had the sprayer in his hand, but had it lowered. He laughed again when he saw her sweater. Nicole didn’t say a word, instead she tossed the water in the bottle in his direction. But he was too quick and the water missed him, and hit the floor instead. Justin pointed the sprayer at her again. Nicole raised her hands up in defense. “Okay! I’m done! You win!” she exclaimed, trying to hide the smile from her face. “Jerk.” she said muttered loud enough for him to hear her. “What was that?” Justin asked with a raised eyebrow, ready to attack again. “Nothing.” she answered with an innocent smile. She glanced once more at her herself and frowned. “Thanks. This is my favorite sweater.” “Isn’t that my sweater?” the sprayer down at his side.“And your point is?” she asked. “The point is: it was mine and it was stolen.” he told her, the sprayer back up and pointed at her. A smile on his face.Nicole rolled her eyes. “I’ve been wearing it for years now, and you just noticed?” She glanced around her kitchen floor, and wrinkled her nose. “I’m going to go change.” she pointed a finger at him. “And since you made the mess, you can clean it up.” she stated with a grin from ear to ear. She squealed as he sprayed her again with water. “Justin!” she shouted, the grin disappearing from her face. Justin grinned wickedly at her. “Keep talking.” he retorted. Nicole glared, stuck her tongue out, and quickly left the kitchen before he sprayed her again. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nicole turned the light in her closet on before stepping inside. She glanced down at herself and wrinkled her nose, the whole front of her sweater was soaked, along with her hair. She should have known things would get out of hand with him. He always had to come out winning. She looked back up and began rummaging through her clean clothes. She stopped for a split second when her fingertips touched the fabric of her graduation gown. She gave it a once over and felt a small pang in her chest. Her hand softly touched the material as a mixture of relief, happiness, sadness and anger ran through her.She moved her hand away from the gown, and reached out for the hanger next to it instead. She took the blue tank top of it’s hanger and walked back out of the closest. She knew Justin was right. This should be a week of celebration for her academic achievements-and she had been feeling that way. Until this morning-when she realized this was another big moment in her life, and her father would not be here to be part of it. She stood in front of her dresser and grabbed a dry bra before walking into the dim bathroom. She placed the clean clothes on the counter, and glanced up at herself through the mirror, trying her best to keep the sadness and anger buried deep inside. Nicole knew this was not the time to be feeling that way, but she couldn’t control it. It had been as if a bucket of ice water had been thrown at her that morning, reminding her of what was missing her life. She took in a shaky breath and undressed, as she fought the urge of grief ready to spill over again from this morning. In the past few hours, she had been able to hold it in, had been able to push those emotions aside. Justin had been the cause of that. He had been the distraction in keeping her from crawling back into bed for the rest of the afternoon. She finished changing and glanced once more at her reflection, and swallowed the lump in her throat. How was it that after all these years the pain of loosing him was still too real? Wasn’t it supposed to get easier? Instead, the more years past by, the harder it seemed. Nicole blinked back the tears, and felt the pang deep in her chest once again. She glanced away from her reflection and reached for the wet clothes on the counter. She didn’t want to do this right now, if she did, she wasn’t sure she would be able to stop. For whatever reason, today was harder than most days. Things weren’t supposed to be this way. He should be flying in tomorrow with Susan to celebrate this moment with her. Instead Nicole felt anger towards him for leaving her and her mother. How was this fair? She wiped back the tears with the back of her hand. Why had it been her dad? Why? She asked herself that question everyday. Because not a day went by when she didn’t think about him. There wasn’t a day in where she didn’t wondered how different life would have been if he was still alive. She placed the clothes back on the counter when she saw her tear stricken face in the mirror. Nicole rested her hands on the edge of the sink and sobbed silently in the dim-lit bathroom for a few moments, trying to get it out of her system before she walked back out. She brought her shaky hands up to her face and wiped away the tears, not wanting Justin to see her this way. She gave her reflection a once over and frowned. Great, her eyes were now puffy and red. She sucked in a deep breath and walked out of the bathroom, rubbing her eyes with her hands as if that would help make the puffiness go away. Nicole moved her hands away from her face, and came to a halt when she saw Justin standing by the bedroom door. He didn’t say a word, he only stood there with his blue orbs studying her. She met his gaze with what she knew were her puffy eyes and realized then why he was there. Why he had volunteered to drop of the clothes for Rachael. She heard the sound of the crushing waves outside her window as she blinked back more tears. She met his gaze once more, and found herself wishing he would just hold her and tell her things would be okay. She didn’t want be alone. And as if reading her mind, he walked toward her, without saying a single word, Justin wrapped his arms tightly around her. Nicole closed her eyes tight and buried her face in his chest as a sob escaped her lips. She wanted him to never let her go. They stood that way for awhile. Nicole heard him whispered into her hair. “It‘s okay.”“It wasn’t supposed to be this way.” she murmured into his chest, her voice cracking. “This was supposed to get easier as time went by...” she trailed off and looked up at him. “He should be here with Mom and with me.” She suddenly broke from Justin’s embrace and wiped away more tears with the back of her hand. She sat on the edge of the bed, and glanced back out of the window as she took in a shaky breath. “I was fine...and suddenly it hit me this morning...” she admitted. “And I found myself in bed-crying.”“Nic...” he started as he crouch in front of her, and placed a hand on her thigh. She looked down and met his eyes, swallowing the lump in her throat. “I guess it just hit me that this is another moment in my life he won’t be here to share with.” Her voice breaking once again. She took in another shaky breath. “There’s always this empty feeling deep inside...” she whispered, blinking rapidly to keep the tears inside. “Baby...” he whispered, and pressed his forehead to hers.
Nicole sniffed and shut her eyes tight, but couldn’t control the sob that left her lips. She brought a hand back up and wiped away the tears. She felt Justin move her hand away with his. She opened eyes back up and was met with the warmth of his blue eyes. “Why is this so hard?” she whispered. Justin moved his face so that their mouths were inches apart. “I don’t know.” Justin answered honestly. “But if I could make the pain you’re feeling right now go away I would.” he said hoarsely. He brought one hand up to her cheek and wiped away the rest of the tears. “I wish I could fix this for you...” his own voice cracking. She looked at him and felt her heart squeeze. She wanted to be comforted. She wanted to be held. He must have sensed it because she felt his hand rub the small of her back and before she even realized what she was doing, Nicole wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in the hollow of his neck as she once again cried silently. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Justin watched intently the waves crash against each other through the large bay window. The sun had set and the moon was out in full force. He had turned on the small lamp next to him. He yawned before he glanced down at his watch. It wasn’t even 11 pm. He placed the empty glass of water on the coffee table in front of him, and leaned back against the comfortable white couch. His eyes fixated on the view out in front of him. He had been sitting alone in Nicole’s living room for the past hour, lost in his thoughts while she still slept. He felt a small pang in his chest when he thought of Nicole’s tear stricken face. He had held her in his arms for a long time as she silently cried, and then later they ended falling asleep on her bed. He hated that he couldn’t make her feel better. He hated he couldn’t make the pain she felt for losing her father disappear. He hated that he felt so useless. Because he knew all the talking in the world could not change the events from the past. He continued to watch the waves. He knew something was off the moment she opened the door and he laid eyes on her. The look on her face had been familiar, but it wasn’t a look he was used to seeing on her pretty face. She had looked in a way...sad and like she‘d been crying. His first thought had been that she’d had a fight with Chase. But as he watched her through dinner, he realized it was something more, and as the subject of graduation came up, Justin slowly began to put the pieces together. But decided against bringing it up. Justin knew Nicole rarely liked to talk about her dad. And when she did talk about it-she was the one who brought it up. And maybe that’s why he had volunteered to drop off the clothes for Rachael...because deep down he knew this moment was going to happen and knew she would close herself off from everyone. She always hated pity. She always put up a front with others when it came to the death of her dad. Justin was the only one who could ever really get her to put down those walls-at least for a little awhile. Justin blinked back to the present and glanced around the open living room. A small smile tugged at his lips as his eyes wondered around his surroundings. She really had done a good job with the place. Nicole had talked about owning a place by ocean since they were kids. There were large bay windows to showcast the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and coastal cottage furniture pieces. It was her little piece of heaven, and Justin couldn’t be more happy for her. It had taken a bit longer than what she had expected, but he knew in the long run it was worth it. Her dream of living by the ocean had finally come true. He chuckled to himself. He loved hearing her talk about it. He loved how her face would light up whenever she told him about her plans. He felt his heart squeeze as he thought about one of the last conversations they had shared a few years back...before Jessica and Chase. They had been sitting in his living room watching late night TV on one of his off days, and the subject had come up for some reason, and he remembered jokingly asking if there was going to be room for him in her new home. She had leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek as she had answered: “I’ll make an extra key.” He sighed. That was years ago, when a second chance seemed possible... When he thought he would finally make up for hurting her when they had been kids. The familiar sense of regret and disappointment filled his stomach as he realized the second chance had been lost, partly due to him...Justin got up from the couch and walked closer to the window. He was happy with how things were going in his life now. He had learned to live with it and accept it. And he had been good at it until recently. In the past couple of months it had become a bit harder to live with. Because he couldn’t help but wonder how different things could have been. He was thankful and loved Jessica, but there was still a little part of his heart that still wondered if a second chance was still possible. He shook his head. He was crazy. There was a reason why it hadn’t happen. He just wished he knew what it was. Even if at times he found himself losing control...The perfect example of that would be the night in back in Memphis. He hadn’t been able to control himself and before he knew it- had acted without thinking. Obviously there was a physical attraction between them, but that night at the lake, it had been different. It had gone beyond the physical. It felt good to hold and kiss her. It had felt right. But at the same time wrong. Because things were not that simple. Because regardless of what his heart was telling him, he knew the consequences. They both knew the consequences. But a hint of regret still stirred in him. The regret of not fighting harder 5 years ago to keep her. The regret he’d been living with for half of his life when he let her go the first time. The regret of not being able to tell her the things he should have said long ago. “Justin?” he turned to the sound of her soft voice. She stood behind the couch, a light blanket wrapped around her whole body, puffy-eyed from sleep and tousled haired. “Is everything okay?” she asked and walked around the couch to sit where he had been sitting a few minutes before. He smiled at the sight of her. After all these years she was still able to stir something deep within him. He nodded. “Yeah. I was thirsty.” he answered pointing to the empty glass on the coffee table. He watched her bring a hand up to her mouth as she yawned. She looked in a better mood than a few hours ago. “I didn’t mean to wake you-”Nicole looked up at him and shook her head. “You didn’t.” Justin gave her a small nod, but didn’t say a word. “What’s wrong?” Nicole asked. “Nothing.” he answered quickly. “Fine.” Nicole started. “But just in case you’ve forgotten I know you pretty well too Timberlake.” He looked away from the window and met her gaze, a small smile on his lips. Nicole smiled back. But Justin didn’t answer. After a few moments of silence, Nicole spoke up again. “If you need to leave-” Justin gave her a curious look and interrupted. “Do you want me to?”“Do you need to?” she whispered. “No, I don’t need to.” He shook his head and repeated. “Do you want me to?” He knew sometimes all she needed was a few hours to reflect. She would be okay. And Justin knew sometimes she needed some time alone, and he was willing to give it to her, if that’s what she wanted. Nicole locked eyes with him. “If you want to stay...” “I can stay Nicky. I don’t mind.” he said earnestly. He walked toward the other end of the couch and sat down. Truth was, he didn’t want to leave. He wanted to stay here with her. The sudden urge to protect her consuming him. There was so much he wanted to say to her. But Justin wasn’t sure if this was the time. Or if he had the right to. Neither one spoke for a few minutes, they sat a few feet apart watching the waves outside the window crash against each other. Justin glanced over at her, and caught her wiping away a few tears with the back of her hand. She met his gaze, and gave a small shrug. “I just have to get it out of my system before Mom gets here tomorrow.” she said to him. Justin got up from his side of the couch and sat down next to her. He reached out for her hand. “I’m pretty sure Susan wouldn’t mind. She is your mother after all.” he reminded. “I know...but I just rather not have her see me this way.” she answered truthfully. “You are so stubborn.” he murmured as he let go of her hand. They both laughed in spite of the moment. The room grew silent once again. Justin spoke up first. “He’s proud of you. You have to know that.” She looked at him but didn’t say a word. “I’m proud of you too.” he found himself saying. “Thanks J.” she said hoarsely, her eyes gazing out the window again. She leaned back against the couch, the blanket down to her waist, as she reached out for his hand next to her leg and gave it a light squeeze. Justin didn’t give her a chance to move it away, he tangled his fingers with hers. She glanced down at their intertwined fingers and then up at him. “Justin...didn’t we-” “I keep telling myself I’ll get over this.” he started. “And I keep asking myself why it’s so hard this time. Why I cant just let go of it like we’ve done so many times before.” He paused for a split second, trying to collect his thoughts. “And it’s because I regret it Nicole.” “You regret what?” “Not fighting harder for you.” Nicole pulled her hand away from him. “That was 5 years ago.” she murmured. “I know things haven’t necessarily been smooth between us in the past couple of months...” she trailed off. “J-we can’t change that. I’m not asking you to change the past.” she searched his eyes, as if trying to find the answer to why he was bringing this up. “Don’t you ever wonder-” “Of course I do.” she kept her gaze on him. “I’m not exactly the easiest person to break down.. I know I didn’t make it easy either.” she whispered with a small smile. Justin smiled back. “I’m glad we both agree your stubborn.” Nicole narrowed her eyes at him. “I never said I was stubborn.” He gave a light chuckle. She continued. “But I wasn’t going to force you to stay with me.” she looked at him through her lashes. “How fair would that have been to you and to me?” “You would not have been forcing me to do anything Nicole. You know that. I know I‘ve fucked up plenty of times.” he said hoarsely, leaning back against the couch. “It’s in the past Justin...” she said, and got up from the couch. She walked and stood in the same spot he had been. “Is it?” he questioned. “For how long?” he pushed. “Because despite everything I think about it. I find myself getting lost in the ‘what if’ game.” he stopped for moment, and glanced away from her. “I love her. I do.” he said referring to Jessica. He glanced back at her, and expected her to interrupt him and demand where all this was coming from, but Nicole stood in the same spot, watching him carefully. “But it doesn’t change the fact that I know I could have tried harder. Five years ago, 14 years ago...” Justin confessed. Nicole made her way back to the couch and sat down. They locked eyes once again, neither one saying a single word. He knew right then things weren’t going to change anytime soon. But he stretched one arm out, and she slid closer. He placed one arm around her shoulder, while she wrapped her arm around his waist, and snuggled to him, her cheek pressed against his chest. There wasn’t anything physical or sexual about the moment, it just was. And he sensed that left both of them with more confused feelings than ever before.
08/16/2010 12:47 PM
02/17/2011 11:12 PM
I know its's been a loooong time...I'm sorry. It's been a crazy past
couple of months. But hopefully this is the beginning of much more! I
only have a few chapters left for this, but I'm thinking of maybe doing a
second part later in the future. Anyway enjoy! Thanks for those who
have been reading and who have been more than patient!
Get What You Give Spring Break 2002 Orlando
Nicole put the glass of water back on the table, slid her sunglasses to
the top of her head and gave JC Chasez a worried look. “Is he sick?”
she asked. She brought a fork full of pasta to her mouth. JC brought a
hand up and rubbed the back of his neck. She placed the fork full of
pasta back on the plate and wrinkled her nose. “What?” she asked when
she noticed the hesitation in his eyes. JC reached
out for his ice-tea, any excuse to break her gaze. “No...he isn’t sick.”
he answered carefully and brought the straw up to his lips, not meeting
her eyes. Nicole frowned over at him. She had only
been on Orlando for 2 hours and she knew something was going on. Not
that she hadn’t been happy to see JC, but she had been surprised to see
him instead of Justin or Trace at the airport. A few weeks back Justin
had invited her and Rachael to spend spring break week in Florida.
Rachael and Nicole had taken him up on the invitation.
The plan had been for Rachael and her to go, but at the last minute
Rachael had to back out to help her mother out. Any other time, Nicole
would have been fine, hanging out at Justin’s house by herself, but
things had changed in the past couple of weeks. Justin’s 4 year
relationship with non-other than Britney Spears had ended 3 weeks
before. And even though the details of the break-up were still a bit
fuzzy, Nicole had the feeling things had not ended on a good note. The
last few times she had spoken to him over the phone, he had made it
quite obvious he did not want to talk about it, he would only mumble
that he was fine. Nicole knew better than to push it, but her gut told
her, he was hurting. Lynn; Justin’s mom had confirmed her suspicion. “He
keeps telling me that he’s over it....“ Lynn had told Nicole the night
before. “But you know how stubborn he can be. It’s going to take some
time but he‘ll be okay. But I do think he needs the distraction with
friends.” So now, she sat across from JC,
having lunch before he drove her to Justin’s. Nicole narrowed her eyes,
he had been awfully quiet since they left the airport. “What’s going
on?” she asked, bringing the straw up to her lips. JC shook his head. “Nothing is going on.” Nicole rolled her eyes and leaned into the table. “Something is going on Joshua.” She stated, using his full name.
“Have you talked to him?” JC asked. He was slightly distracted when
they heard his name from the sidewalk. Nicole had forgotten they were
still outside the restaurants seating area. She watched him give the
young woman a polite smile and a wave. He turned back to her. “Sorry.”
he muttered. “Don’t be.” She said with a small smile. He glared playfully. “I’m glad I can entertain you.”
“I’m glad you can too.” she retorted back. JC only shook his head. She
quickly steered the subject back to his question. “And I talked to him
yesterday. Why?” He cleared his throat and gave a small shrug. “Last night?” “No. It was late afternoon. He said he was getting ready to go out with a few guys.” she answered. JC smirked. “He’s been going out a lot...” Nicole wrinkled her nose. “What do you mean?” She wasn’t sure where JC was going with this. “He’s been going out every night Nicole. Since the tour ended.” “The tour ended 2 weeks ago.” she stated.
“Exactly.” JC gave a small shake his head. “I mean granted we all got a
bit crazy the last week of the tour and we all knew he needed to let
out some steam after the whole Britney thing. But he hasn’t stopped.
He’s been out drinking every night, since we got back to Orlando.” Nicole blinked in surprise. “But Lynn-”
JC interrupted. “Okay...fine, he waited until she was gone.” a sheepish
smile on his face. “Besides she was only here for 2 days.” he informed
her. “I’m all up for going out and having a little fun, but when you
don’t do anything for 2 straight weeks but sleep all day because you’ve
been out all fucking night drinking and doing who knows what else...” he
trailed off. “It’s getting out of hand.” he finished. She didn’t want to believe it, but the look on JC’ s face told her it was true. “Has anybody said anything to him?”
“He’s really not listening to anyone right now. I’ve tried talking to
him, so has Joey and even Trace.” He paused for a split second. “Trace
was the one that called and asked if I could pick you up since J was
apparently still passed out.” he informed her. “Trace would have, but he
had a dentist appointment.” Suddenly things
started to make sense. Was she worried that he was going to do something
stupid if he continued to go out every damn night, drinking and doing
god knows what else? Yes. This wasn’t like him. But she also didn’t
appreciate being dumped on someone else. She was fuming now. “So his
drunk ass is still sleeping?” she asked more to herself than to him. She
met JC’s gaze and smirked. “I hope he’s still passed out when you drop
me off.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nicole watched Trace sit down on the stool across from her. “Have you
put any more thought about grad school?” he asked, his eyes did not
waver as he put the beer bottle up to his lips.
Nicole gave a small shrug and looked over his shoulder to avoid eye
contact. “I don‘t know.” she answered. She grasped the glass of ice
water on the kitchen counter with both hands. This really wasn’t a
conversation she felt like having at the moment. She had no idea what
she wanted to do in the next few months, and she really was not in the
mood to hear Trace’s advice. She now wished she hadn’t mentioned it to
him a few weeks back. “You don’t know what?” he
asked. Nicole didn’t respond and continued to avoid eye contact. “If you
don’t want to talk about it, then just say you don’t want to talk about
it.” he stated in a knowing tone. “Fine.” she started, and finally made eye contact. “I really don’t want to talk about it.”
“Okay.” he said with a smirk. After a few moments, he spoke up again.
“Why don’t you want to talk about it?” Nicole glared over at him. He put
up his hands. “Okay, fine. I’m dropping the subject. But I don’t
understand what the big deal is.” he mumbled. “It’s not a big deal.” she muttered, and brought the glass of water up to her lips.
For the past hour and half they had been catching up in Justin’s
kitchen, while he was passed out upstairs in his bedroom. After lunch
with JC, he had driven her to Justin’s, and as they began to unload all
of her suitcases, Trace had shown up. After getting all the suitcases
inside the house, JC had said goodbye and left. (He had another
appointment.) “If you say so.” Trace said.
She raised an eyebrow. “I say so.” She did not fly out to Florida to
talk about school-or lack there of. “Can we drop it?” she asked.
“Man, I need some fucking new friends.” Trace said half jokinly. “One’s
upstairs getting shitfaced every night, and the other one is-”
“The other one what?” Nicole interrupted and narrowed her eyes. “Pick
your next words wisely Ayala.” she threaten. Trace only smiled
innocently before bringing the bottle back up to his lips. “Good
choice.” Nicole said. Trace put the bottle back down.
“Look...” he started, his face serious now. “Whatever you decide-do it
because you want to. Not because you feel you have to.” She gave him a half smile. “Thanks.” “You’re welcome.” he said with a huge grin.
Nicole knew he was only looking out for her and she appreciated it. But
knew it was her decision and at the moment, she wasn’t sure of anything
when it came to her future. All she knew was that she was scared, so
far life hadn’t gone as she once planned out. Life sucked sometimes. She
glanced over Trace’s head toward the staircase and frowned, momentarily
forgetting about her problems to focus on other matters. “He won’t be up for maybe another hour.” Trace guessed as if reading her mind. She looked back over at him. “It’s almost 4 in the afternoon.” she stated. “Yeah, I know.” he said with a shrug. “This has been going on for the past 2 weeks Nicky.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me?” she muttered. After what JC had told her
at lunch she had been ready to give Justin an earful, but JC managed to
calm her down before they got to the house and Nicole decided to give
him the benefit of the doubt. But that benefit was slowly slipping...he
hadn’t bother to get up after Trace had gone upstairs to get him. “He
was the one that suggested this trip...”she mumbled. She had even gone
upstairs to get him out of bed, and he had only grunted and pulled the
pillow over his head. She had fought the urge to smack the side of his
huge head. “Yeah...well, if you want to spend any
time with him, then get ready to be out into the wee hours of the night.
Because during the day, all he does is sleep.” “Can’t you-” “Can’t I what?” She shrugged. “I don’t know...make him-” Trace gave a small chuckle. “He’s not a child Nicole.” “He’s acting like one.” she snapped. “He’s hurting.” Trace replied.
Nicole gaped over at Trace. “So that makes it okay for him to go around
getting drunk and doing God knows what else with people he barely
knows? That only want to be around him because of who he is. There are
other ways to deal with this.” she said with a glare. “I know he’s
hurting. I’m not trying to take that away from him. I’m pretty sure
she’s hurting too-” “Nic-” “What?” she said with a wrinkle of her nose. “Do you have any idea what happen?”
She shook her head. “No.” she chewed her lower lip and then added. “He
just told me they had decided to end things, but didn’t give specifics. I
didn’t feel it was in my place to ask.” She knew that he would talk
about it when he was ready. But Nicole also knew it wasn’t going to be
any time soon. Trace locked eyes with her. “It wasn’t
mutual.” Nicole raised an eyebrow. Trace continued. “Justin hates being
lied to...” he trailed off. “You and I know that, and once you‘ve lied
to him, it‘s hard to earn his trust back...” She
snorted and said sarcastically. “Why bother trying to get it back?”
Nicole closed her eyes for a split second. “She lied to him?” Trace
nodded. “About what?” “What do you think?” There was a long pause before Nicole spoke again. “She wouldn’t-?” she stopped herself. There was no way. Trace nodded again.
“She didn’t-?” Nicole understood. She meet Trace’s gaze again. He could
only give a small shrug. “You’re joking right? I mean she wouldn’t do
that to him.” Nicole pressed her lips together, trying to take it all
in. “I thought things were fine?” Nicole whispered. “Yeah...so did Justin.” he added bitterly. “Are you sure?” she questioned. “Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding.” she reasoned.
Trace shook his head. “That’s what I said. But according to him, its
not.” He paused. “The only one that’s been able to get him to say
anything about it, is Lynn. And believe me, that took alot of probing.”
he half joked. “He isn’t talking to anyone. I tried, but all he does is
shrug it off, like it’s no big deal.” Nicole brought
the glass up to her lips. She knew things hadn’t ended well between
them, but she figured in the end it would blow over and they would get
back together. Justin was crazy about her, and Nicole knew he would do
anything to work whatever needed to be worked out. But if what Trace was
telling her was true, there was no chance of that. Because if there was
one thing Justin despised more than anything was dishonesty. Trace was
right, once his trust was broken, there was no way in getting it back. Trace interrupted her out of her thoughts. “So I don’t push...” “You don’t push?” she asked incredulously. “Trace-” “What the hell I’am supposed to do?” “Tell him to snap the fuck out of it. Deal with it!” she exclaimed. “How is going out every damn night helping the situation?” “If it’s so easy, why didn’t you do something about it?” Trace snapped.
Nicole glared. “I’m not the one with him every fucking day Trace Ayala!
And I had no idea there was a problem!” she shouted. She was boiling
with anger now. This was stupid. Justin was acting like a child and that
was not the type of man she knew he was. “Will you stop yelling?” Trace ordered. Nicole let out a large breath. “Sorry.” she mumbled. “Look, he’s dealing with it-”
She snorted. “Oh right, because turning into an alcoholic is the right
way to deal with a broken heart.” She knew she was exaggerating a little
bit, but couldn’t help it. Her oldest best friend in the world was
upstairs drowning in booze and acting like a damn toddler because he was
too afraid to deal with the real pain. Trace rolled his eyes and groaned. “Are you fucking listening to yourself right now? And he’s not an alcoholic.” “That’s the road he’s headed into.” she muttered. “He’s hurt-”
“Are you still trying to defend what’s he’s doing?” she snapped. “I
know. I know this must be tearing him up inside. One night of binge
drinking? Fine, I understand. But it’s been two fucking weeks!” she
paused. “Don’t make excuses for him. He’s a coward.” she stated simply.
She got up from the stool, glass of water in hand. “And I think it’s
about time someone told him.” Trace narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing?” “I’m going to go upstairs to get his ass out of bed.” she answered, taking a sip from her water. “Fine.” Trace said and nodded to the glass in her hand. “Leave the water.” he suggested.
She shook her head. “Why? I’m thirsty.” she stated, as she began to
walk to the direction of the stairs. Everyone around him was afraid to
tell him what they thought of his behavior-including Trace- but she
wasn‘t. She was not going to let him do this to himself over a girl. He
was better than this, even if at the moment he wasn’t acting like it.
“You know he’s going to kill you!” she heard Trace call after her.
Nicole gave him a small wave over her shoulder and continued to climb
the stairs. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Nicole knew Trace was right. Justin was going to be beyond pissed. But
damn it, someone had to trigger him out of this immature funk he was in.
It could only end up bad. The idea of something happening to him made
her shiver with fear. Did he have a right to be hurt and angry? Yes, of
course, but there were better ways to deal with that kind of emotion.
And she didn’t fly down here to be around a moppy drunk for a week.
She pushed open the bedroom door, and quietly stepped inside with the
glass of ice water still in her hand. Nicole frowned, it was the middle
of the afternoon and he had the shades down, which only made the room
gloomier than what it already felt like. Her eyes fell onto the king
size bed. He wasn’t visible- not with the huge bedspread over his
stubborn head. She walked over to the bed. “Justin?” she said, and
leaned over him. She saw the lump under the covers stir and heard a
grunt. “Justin!” she said a little louder. But the only response she got
was another grunt. She glared down at him, even though he couldn’t see
it. “Timberlake!” she exclaimed and gave him a small shove with her free
hand. He responded with groan. She wasn’t playing
games. She was going to get his ass of bed one way or another. She was
not going to let him get away with this childish behavior. She really
hadn’t planned on doing it... but now he left her no choice. She reached
for the covers with her free hand, and pulled them off his head. He was
now exposed from the waist up- shirtless- as he laid flat on his
stomach. He quickly pulled the pillow next to him over his head. She
smirked and brought the glass of water up to her lips and took a small
sip before she tilted the glass over his naked back. “This should do
it.” she murmured and slowly let the ice and water pour down his
masculine back. Nicole had never seen anyone move so
fast. “What the fuck!?” he roared, as he stumbled out of bed, his lower
body tangled with the sheets. She stiffled her
giggles before she looked over at him with an innocent smile.”Oh good.
You’re awake.” she said in her best sweet voice, and placed the empty
glass on the dresser next to his bed. “What the hell is your problem?!” he yelled and quickly wrapped the sheet over his naked torso.
“There is no need to yell.” she said in a calm voice. Not that she
blamed him, if she had been woken up that way, she would have raised
hell too. But it got him out of bed. But Nicole was thankful the bed was
between them. He looked ready to pounce on her. Justin glared over at her instead. “You think this is fucking funny?” he snapped. “What the hell was that for?” he demanded.
“I’m not laughing Timberlake.” Nicole retorted, then added. “Do you
realize it’s almost 4 in the afternoon?” She watched him bend down and
pick up the pair of jeans on the floor. He met her gaze and continued to
glare. Yep, she really was thankful for the bed between them... “I’m glad you can tell time.” Justin snapped.
Nicole’s eyes widen when she realized what he was about to do next, but
exclaimed regardless. “What are you doing?!” He placed his hands where
the sheet was wrapped around his waist. He came to a
brief stop as he answered gruffly. “Putting pants on.” But, she couldn’t
help but notice the now smug look on his face due to her reaction.
“What?“ he asked, the tone of his voice changing and he moved his hands
back to the sheet. Nicole glared, it wasn’t as if
she’d never seen him naked before-on the contrary, she had a perfect
depiction of what he looked like naked in her mind, but it had been
almost 5 years since the last time she had seen him that way. She
watched as the smug look on his handsome face grow. She hated when he
was able to turn the tables on her. “Is that a
problem?” he asked, and looked at her challengingly. It was as if he had
completely forgotten how he had been woken up. Their
relationship was like a light switch, she instantly felt the mood in
the room change. She knew what he was thinking. He didn’t have to say
it, it was written on his face. The question now remained whether or not
they would act on it. Because she wasn’t going to ignore the facts; he
was hurt and most likely angry. She shook her head and answered calmly. “No.” Justin raised an eyebrow. “No?” he repeated.
Nicole knew what he was trying to do, and it wasn’t going to work. She
could play along with his stupid game. She wasn’t the one standing there
with only a sheet wrapped around them. She crossed her arms in front of
her chest, and raised her own eyebrow at him. “No.” She saw a small smile tug on his lips as he shrugged. “Okay...since it’s not a problem...”
She watched as he placed his hands back on the sheet. Her eyes fell
back on his face for a few seconds, and she now noticed the stumble on
his cheeks and chin, which made him look older but still handsome. She
couldn’t help but let her eyes linger down his naked chest. Sometimes
she forgot how beautiful he really was. She swallowed the lump in her
throat as she quickly glanced away. She heard a light chuckle leave his
lips. She cursed at herself, she knew he had caught her starring.
He wasn’t the type to flaunt or brag about his good looks-in fact
compared to other men Nicole had met, he was pretty modest. But then
there would be moments like these, where he only acted like a cocky
bastard to make her squirm. Nicole couldn’t help but feel the
butterflies in the pit of her stomach. She glanced
back up at him. “You waiting on a whistle?” He only smirked at her and
he began to unwrap the sheet from around his waist. Nicole quickly shut
her eyes. She couldn’t do it, despite trying to play it cool. And she
knew he was about to gloat. She heard him laugh.
“So....that means I win, right?” After a few more seconds, she heard him
say. “You can open them now.” She opened them back up. He stood in the
same spot-this time with pants-and a smile. “I knew you couldn’t do it.”
he stated. Nicole made a face in his direction. “I’m glad I can amuse you.” “It’s the least you can do, after your little stunt.” She rolled her eyes. “Someone had to get your ass out of bed.” she snapped. “Oh...did I mention it’s 4 in the afternoon?” Justin threw the sheet back on the bed. “Yeah, you did.” he said dryly. “Look, if you came in here to nag-” Nicole interrupted him. “No, that’s not why I came in here for.” as she glared. “Actually I just wanted to say, thanks.” “For what?” “Oh you know...for dumping me on someone else.” she said sarcastically. He looked up at her, and for the first time she saw the weariness in his eyes. “Nicole-”
“No, I mean it’s fine. I know you‘ve been busy the past couple of
weeks.” She was probably being a bit harsh, but she couldn’t help it.
She picked up the pillows on the floor and placed them back on the bed.
“You know, I could‘ve saved myself a trip if I knew this is what-”
“If what?” he interrupted sharply. He narrowed his eyes at her and let
out a sigh. “I’m sorry I didn’t pick you up from the airport, or that I
didn’t get out of bed when you got here, but you have no right to come
in here and act all high and fucking mighty.” he said harshly.
Nicole blinked in surprise. She had not expected that type of answer.
But she recovered quickly as she remembered what Trace and JC had told
her earlier. “At least I’m not acting like a damn idiot. What are you
going to do Justin? Drink until you think the pain is gone?” She might
have crossed the line, but she didn’t care. She wanted to get a reaction
from him. She saw his jaw clench. “Fuck you Nicole.” as he glowered at her from across the bed. “Did I just hit a nerve?” she challenged.
She watched him make his way toward her. His face was inches from hers,
but he didn’t say anything for a few moments. Instead, his eyes
searched her face, as if trying to understand her logic. He licked his
lips and finally spoke. “What are you doing? Hmm?” “What are you
doing?” she shot back as she pointed a finger to his chest. “This is
me, Justin. I’m not going to sugar coat anything for you. You’re in
pain? You’re hurt? Deal with it. Convey it in other ways.” she looked
back up at him, her eyes pleading. “Don’t let it consume you.”
Justin narrowed his eyes down at her. “I don’t know what you’ve been
told, but I’m fine. And I sure as hell don’t need you to come in here,
pretending you know-” “How it feels to have a heart
broken?” she finished for him. She held his gaze. Justin winced at her
words. She hadn’t meant to say it, but the words had left her mouth
before she even realized it. But she knew exactly what he was going
through, to truly have your heart broken by your first love. It might
have been a few years back, but she still lived with the sting of it. But before Justin even had the chance to answer, Trace stuck his head into the room. “Nic?” he said. Nicole broke from Justin’s gaze and looked over at Trace. “Yeah?” “It’s Susan.” he stated, holding her phone in his hand.
She brushed past Justin and toward Trace. “Thanks.” she said, and took
the phone from him, as she walked out of the room without giving Justin a
02/22/2011 10:57 PM
03/04/2011 12:08 AM
Turning Tables Spring Break 2002 Orlando
The next afternoon, Justin walked into his kitchen, opened the
refrigerator door and took out a bottle of water. He leaned against the
large island counter, and took the aspirin into his mouth, before taking
a large gulp from his water bottle. He groaned, he had the hugest
migraine in the world. He glanced around the kitchen, expecting Trace or
Nicole to appear and nag him for being out again the night before. But
they didn’t. He frowned, it was a little too quiet.
He placed the almost empty bottle on the counter behind him. He sighed
as he thought about the events from the day before. Justin knew he had
been a jackass to Nicole, he knew he could have handled it differently,
but sometimes she really did get under his skin. But he also knew he
should have stayed in and tried to talk to her, instead he had showered
and left without saying a word to Nicole or Trace. After that, rest of
the night was blur. Hence, the migraine. He glanced
up at the clock on the wall a few feet away: 12:46 p.m. He hadn’t been
up this early in 2 weeks. He turned his attention away from the clock,
when heard the footsteps. Nicole came to an abrupt stop when she saw him
standing there. She held a book in one hand, and a glass in the other.
She held his gaze for a few seconds, before she walked in his direction.
Without saying a word, she placed her book on the counter behind him,
and opened the refrigerator door. He watched her pour lemonade into her
glass, and then placed the pitcher back inside the fridge.
He resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Of course, this wasn’t going to
be easy. He cleared his throat and asked. “Where’s Trace?” She now stood
a few inches from him. She gave him a once over before reaching for her book. “On his way to New York.” she answered coldly.
Justin blinked in surprised. “What? Why is he on his way to New-” he
stopped mid-sentence. “Was that this week?” he asked out loud. His days
were all meshed together. Trace was in the beginning steps of trying to
start his own clothing line, and had managed to get a few meetings line
up with people that might be able to help. He opened his mouth to speak,
but Nicole had turned on her heels and was making her way out of the
kitchen. He groaned, and followed her, she really was damn stubborn.
He walked outside, and found her sitting on the patio chair, closest to
the pool, with her nose in the book. It was either now, or never. He
let out a large sigh, and walked toward her. Justin sat on the chair
next to her. “Are you just going to ignore me for the week?” he asked.
She looked up from her book, and gave him a stony look. “I won’t have
to.” she answered and placed her attention back to the book. “I’ll be
gone by the end of the day.” she finished without looking at him.
Justin gave her a confused look. “What the hell does that mean?” But
she didn’t answer, instead she continued to read. He narrowed his eyes
at her, he suddenly understood. “Don’t tell me you’re flying back home?”
She closed the book, and gave him her full
attention. “I was.” she informed him. “But then I realized that I would
have to explain to Mom and Lynn why I flew back early. And as much as
you piss me off, I‘m not going to be the one to tell them how much of an
ass you‘ve been.” Justin snorted back his laughter.
She was right, she never sugarcoated anything for him. And as much as
she annoyed the living hell out of him at times, he loved that she
didn’t see him as a celebrity, but as just Justin. “Thanks...I guess?”
he said with a smirk. But something still didn’t make sense. “Wait-if
you aren’t flying back to Memphis-then where are you going?” “I’m going to stay with JC.” she stated, and calmly and re-opened the book. Justin’s jaw slightly dropped. “I‘m sorry, it sounded like you said you were staying with JC?”
“I did.” she said. “I talked to him this morning and he said it was
okay for me to crash at his place for the rest of the week. He’s picking
me up around 4.” “You’re being serious.” It was a statement not a question. Nicole raised an eyebrow at him. “Yes, I’m being serious. Is that a problem?” she asked.
Justin felt his migraine grow as he listened to her. Nicole was a grown
ass woman, who was free to do whatever the hell she wanted. And it
shouldn’t matter to him where she ended up for the next 5 and half days,
but he couldn’t help but feel a twinge of annoyance at the thought of
Nicole staying at JC’s. JC was a good person, and Justin knew he would
never do anything to make Nicole feel uncomfortable. But JC was also a
guy, and Nicole was smart, funny, sensitive, beautiful and not to
mention sexy as hell... He blinked back to the
conversation at hand. Where the hell was this coming from damn it? He
just got out a serious relationship, and he was worried about what
another woman was doing? But as he looked back up at her, he felt that
jolt of electricity, and Justin realized she wasn’t just any another
woman. He also realized this was the first time in 2 weeks where he
actually found himself caring about something besides alcohol. He
cleared his throat and asked instead. “Aren’t you taking this a bit too
far?” She bit her lower lip as she thought about her
answer, after a few moments, she shook her head and said. “I don’t think
so. Obviously I’m in the way of your busy schedule-” Justin rolled his eyes and stopped her. “Will you stop being such a damn drama queen.” he ordered. Nicole only snorted. He glared. “What’s that for?” She shrugged, and gave him an innocent look. “What was what for?”
He decided to ignore her snort and asked instead. “You do realize this
is ridiculous?” She really did drive him crazy sometimes.
“Why?” she snapped. “Because I rather be around happy people? Because I
rather not be around someone who thinks his idea of a good time is
getting drunk every night so he doesn’t have to deal with the real
issues?” Justin closed his eyes and let out a huge
sigh. There she went again, pushing his buttons. She was making this
into a bigger deal than what it really was. Yes, he had been going out a
lot lately, but he had something he didn’t have before: and that was
freedom. He opened his eyes and lifted his head up to the sky. “Like I
told you yesterday: I’m fine.” he paused and looked back down at her. “I
have nothing holding me back now. And there isn’t anything wrong with
what I’m doing.” For whatever reason he felt the need to defend his
actions to her. Damn her for having that effect on him.
Her eyes lingered out into the large pool. “You’re right, there isn’t.”
she concluded. “So like I said, I’ll be out of your way in a few
hours.” “You’re so fucking stubborn.” he blurted out.
She glared back at him. Justin decided to try a different approach, he
rubbed the top of his head nervously. “About yesterday...” he started.
“I was an ass.” He expectantly waited for some type of sarcastic remark
from her mouth, but it never came. Instead she sat there quietly, as if
waiting for him to continue. Of course she wasn’t going let this go so
easily. If he was smart, he would just let her leave, but the idea of
her staying at JC’s drove him crazy. And as much as it bothered him, he
knew he couldn’t make her do something she didn’t want to. He spoke
again after a few seconds. “I would like for you stay...” he said
honestly. “But I’m not going to force you.” he finished.
Nicole didn’t say a word for a few moments as she looked back out at
the pool. He watched her from the corner of his eye and he knew she was
trying to decide what to do next. Finally after a few minutes, she
glanced over at him. “Are you apologizing?” she asked skeptically.
Justin gave a small nod. “Yeah...I’ am.” he replied. He felt something
deep within awaken, as he continued to look at her. He couldn’t explain
it, he didn’t understand it. How did she do that without even trying?
How was it possible for him to feel anything for anyone after what he’d
went through? But the longer he sat there, and watched her, the more it
became clear to him that it was out of his control about how he felt
about her, it just was, no matter how many times she pissed him off. His
eyes searched her face and Justin could read the skepticism of his
apology in her eyes. “Have you had lunch?” he asked. Nicole was stubborn
and he knew she wasn’t going to let this go as simple as he wanted. She
gave him a curious look, but didn’t say a word. “I haven’t ate anything
yet.” he informed her. “It’s on me.” She wrinkled her nose. “Are you trying to bribe me with food?” a small smile tugged on her lips. Justin smiled back. “Yeah...is it working?” Nicole’s smile turned into a smirk. “Maybe.” He chuckled lightly and stood up. “I’ll take whatever I can get.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Two hours later, Nicole walked into the kitchen, a paper bag in her
arms that held a quart of rocky road ice-cream-her favorite. She placed
the bag on the big island counter and reached into the dishwasher for
two clean cereal bowls and spoons. She sat down on the bar stool, and
took the ice-cream out of the bag. “Jackass, get to
your meeting.” she heard Justin say at the same moment she took the lid
off the quart. She looked up as Justin made his way into the kitchen,
the phone to his ear. He rolled his eyes at her, and said into the
phone. “I’m hanging up Trace.” She watched him close his eyes for a
split second before he spoke into the phone again. “You’re worse than a
woman. Call me after the meeting.” he paused and sat down on the stool
across from her. “Alright, bye.” He looked over at Nicole with a frown
and placed the phone on the counter. “When he calls back-you can talk to
him.” Nicole giggled. “This is a big deal J. He has a right to freak out.” “Maybe, but he called you, not me.” he stated. She hid her smile, Trace had called her
phone, and then Nicole had passed him off to Justin. She took the spoon
and took a huge scoop into her bowl. “Just looking at this makes my
mouth water...” she said, as she dipped the spoon back in to grab more.
Once she felt that she had enough in her bowl, she looked up and found
Justin watching her with an amused look. She gave a sheepish smile.
“Shut up.” and pushed the quart in his direction.
Justin shrugged and tried his best to hide his smile. “I didn’t say a
word.” and began to scoop ice-cream into his bowl as well. Nicole
brought a spoonful into her mouth and resisted the urge to moan in
pleasure when her tongue touched the ice-cream. She was broken out of
her trance when Justin asked. “Should I leave you two alone?”
She wrinkled her nose at him. “Haha...ha.” She gave him a quick look,
and he gave her a small smile. Nicole knew he was trying to make up for
yesterday. They had lunch at a small Italian restaurant, that Justin
knew about. They had managed to sneak in without being noticed. Nicole
had expected it to be awkward, but once they sat down and ordered, the
conversation had began to flow. At first, Nicole hadn’t been sure on
whether to give him the chance to make things okay, but she quickly
discovered, how much she needed her best friend. She had been holding a
lot of things in lately, and despite of everything, Justin had always
been her go-to person and it had felt good to let everything out. He had
sat across from her and listened intently as she vented out all her
frustrations about work, lack of school and her thoughts in general.
After they had left the restaurant, Justin had surprised her when he
suggested ice-cream, and so on the way back to the house, they had
stopped by the grocery store. In fact, Nicole had expected the lunch to
be his apology, then head back to the house and do their own separate
thing. But now it was past 3 in the afternoon and so far it didn’t feel
that way. She looked over at him through her lashes and brought a
spoonful of ice-cream into her mouth. “Thanks for lunch.” she said.
He took the spoonful of ice-cream into his own mouth. “Thanks for
joining me.” He placed the spoon in the bowl and looked back up at her
with an almost forced smile. For the next ten minutes
they sat quietly, eating their ice-cream and Nicole wondered how much
longer he was going to continue to pretend that he was okay. All through
lunch, she had done the talking. He had sat across from her and asked
the questions. It was fairly obvious he wanted to steer away from his
problems. And she had decided to not push the subject. But at the same
time she needed to know he was going to be okay. “What‘s going on in that head of yours?” she heard him ask. She blinked. “What?” she asked him, as she chewed on her lower lip. Had she really been that lost in her thoughts?
Justin narrowed his eyes. “You seemed deep in thought.” he observed.
She gave a small shrug and dropped the spoon into the bowl. She opened
her mouth to speak, but stopped and closed it once again. He sighed when
he noticed her hesitation. “Nic-” “You keep telling me you are fine-but I know better. I know you.” she finished quickly before he could stop her. He chuckled lightly “Look at us, how do we do it?” Nicole wrinkled her nose in confusion. “What? Do what?”
“How we can be at each others throat one minute, and the next minute
act as if never happened.” he said. “I think we are the only two people
in the world who can do a one eighty in less than 24 hours.”
She raised an eyebrow. “For the record: I haven’t forgotten about it.”
she paused for a second. “And don’t try and change the subject.” Nicole
felt her heartbeat quickly increase as Justin pushed his bowl to the
side and leaned into the counter, set his gaze on her, without saying a
single word. She hated when he was able to make her feel uneasy and
didn’t even have to try. She pressed her lips together. “Justin-” she
started. He cleared his throat. “What do you want?”
he finally asked with a large sigh. “What do you want to hear? You
can’t fix this Nicky.” he became silent for a few seconds, as if
recollecting his thoughts. “I know I can’t. And I’m
not trying to.” she started. “I’m not asking you to share everything
you’re feeling with me-or anyone else for that matter. But you can’t
just hide it away like it’s nothing. Like it never happened.” She looked
back up at him through her lashes, and expected him to lash out, but he
sat there quietly. “I just want to make sure you’re going to be okay.”
she murmured. “I don’t want to get a phone call in the middle of the
night from a hospital letting me know something has happened to you.”
she whispered. “You know, at first I was just mad because I felt like
you were acting like a child and you weren‘t sharing anything with me.
But then last night after you left, and I went to bed, all these crazy
scenarios kept running through my head and I all I kept thinking was:
please let him get home safe.” She blinked back her tears and looked
away. “I mean you’re my best friend-” He blinked in
surprise. “Nicole.” he licked his lower lip nervously. “It’s not like I
can’t control it.” He tried to catch her gaze. “Look at me.” he ordered
softly. She looked back up at him. “I can control it.” he promised.
“Can you?” she challenged. “I’m not trying to make you feel guilty,
you‘re an adult and you shouldn‘t have someone telling you how to live
your life, but don’t let the booze and whatever else become a way out.
You have to deal with it- because if you don’t- you’ll end up letting it
consume every part of you. You’ll only end up bitter and angry. And I don’t want that to happen Justin.” she finished softly.
She waited patiently for Justin to say something, but they once again
they sat in silence. Finally, after what seemed hours to her, Justin
said hoarsely. “I don’t want you to worry. And I know I haven’t
necessarily been the most responsible person in the past few weeks...”
he paused for a split second and then continued. “Do you have any idea
what it’s like to have everyone ask if you’re okay? To have everyone
around you, look at you with pity? It’s hard to not think about it, when
you’re constantly being asked about it. So I said fuck it, if I‘m going
out then people will begin to think that everything is fine and leave
me the fuck alone.” Nicole only stared. She hadn’t
thought about that aspect of it. Yes, breaks up were always hard, but
they were especially hard when it was thrown into the public eye. “And it was working.” Justin said. “Until your ass showed up.” he joked.
She sucked in a large breath, now she felt a little ashamed of her
behavior. She opened her mouth. “J-about that-I’m sorry, I probably
could have handled it differently-” He brought a hand up and shook his head. “I needed to hear it.” then added in a teasing tone. “But seriously, ice-water?”
She laughed despite herself. “Something had to get your ass out of
bed.” She reached for his empty bowl, and placed it on top of her own.
She stood up and made her way to the kitchen sink. She turned the faucet
on and said over her shoulder. “Besides, that was the only thing I
could come up with.” By that time, Justin had also
gotten up from his stool and placed the remaining quart ice-cream in the
freezer. “Uh-uh.” he said sarcastically. He made his way toward her,
and leaned against the countertop next to the sink. She turned to look at him and said in a serious tone. “I really I’m sorry about how I acted too.”
He cleared his throat. “You know, for the past few weeks I’ve been numb
to every type of emotion. It wasn‘t as if I did it on purpose it just
sort of happened...and then when you showed up yesterday and started
yelling-everything I had NOT felt since all this has happened, came rushing back.” he said honestly. “Should I be insulted?” she asked jokingly and focused her attention to the bowls in the sink.
Justin quickly shook his head. “No” he pressed his lips together before
he spoke up again. “You somehow started to make the numbness fade
away...” She looked back up at him, her hands under the running faucet.
He continued. “So...I’m finally starting to feel everything- slowly but
surely-and it sucks.” he joked. Nicole smiled warmly. “Yeah, it does.” “But even going through all of this-” his tone of voice changed again. “I started thinking of you...”
Her smile faded slowly and she quickly looked away from him. She had
not expected that. How was she supposed to respond to it? Nicole knew he
was in pain, but Nicole knew she couldn’t take away any of the pain.
She would only be substituting for the alcohol. And the truth was: no
matter what he said-he was still in love with Britney.
Yes, they had this strange arrangement that for whatever reason they
both ran back to whenever one was alone...but for the first time, Nicole
was not sure she wanted to be that for him. But how fair was that? He
had been there for her the last time around... It was
supposed to be purely physical. At least that’s what she told herself,
and then somehow she would get deep in the moment, and then it would
take her weeks to claw herself out. It never failed. It wasn’t as if she
didn’t have some control over the situation, she just could never say
no to him. The line of course, was never crossed unless they were both
single, and they were both single at that moment... “Nic-you know how much you mean to me-”
“I know.” she interrupted. And she did know. That was something she
never had to wonder about. The friendship she had with him went beyond
anything she could try and explain. “Like I said
earlier, I would like for you to stay.” He placed his hand beneath her
chin, and had her face him. “But I also don’t want you to think that I
want you to stay for the wrong reasons.” he stated. “If you stay, it’s
because you want to.” She swallowed the huge lump in her throat, and blinked up at him. She was still not sure how to respond to any of this.
He leaned in, his mouth inches from hers. He stroked the side of her
cheek with his thumb as his deep blue eyes searched her face for the
right answer. “I never expect for this to happen.” he whispered. “I
can’t explain it.” “Try.” she demanded hoarsely. His licked his lower lip. “You want me to try and explain wanting to kiss you?” “Yeah.” she whispered. “Is this a newly development?” “Wanting to kiss you?” She felt his breath on her cheek. “I mean, you just got out of a serious relationship and-” He shook his head. “No.” “No, what?” “It’s not a newly development.” he stated. “It’s kind of always there.” “It is?” she asked.
Justin nodded. “Yeah. You just learn to live with it. And that’s what
I’ve done.” He leaned in even closer and his lower lip touched hers. Her
eyelids fluttered shut, as she heard him murmured. “But then these
opportunities present themselves...” Before Nicole
had the chance to open her mouth and answer, she heard her phone vibrate
on the counter. She opened her eyes and quickly reached for the towel
on the counter to dry her hands, and then brushed past him to get the
phone. “Hello?” she answered almost out of breath. “Hey, it’s me.” It took a few moments before Nicole recognize JC’s voice. “Hi.” she answered back, she tried to sound as cheerful as possible. “Listen, I’m sorry, but it might be a little bit later before I can pick you up.”
Nicole watched Justin turn off the running faucet, and then turn back
around to face her. He leaned back into the counter, his arms folded
across his chest. She felt as if her heart would jump out of her throat.
“Huh? Oh-um it’s okay.” she stammered. “Actually...don’t worry about it
anymore.” she said into the phone. “You sure?” JC asked. “Yeah.” Nicole answered, her eyes never leaving Justin‘s face. “I’m sorry for the all the trouble.”
“It’s no big deal. That’s what friends do.” he said, then added. “Are
you sure? Because this morning you sounded adamant about it.” “Yeah.” she repeated. She licked her lips slowly. “Yeah, I’m sure.”
03/07/2011 11:17 AM
03/27/2011 8:16 PM
Thanks for the feedback!!
Chapter 35 Edge of Desire Orlando Spring Break 2002
Justin watched Nicole from the corner of his eye. “I still can’t
believe she’ll be turning one in a week.” she murmured, referring to
Joey’s daughter Brianna. After JC’s phone call earlier, Joey’s
girlfriend; Kelly had called immediately after and before Justin
realized it, he was driving himself and Nicole over to Joey’s. Kelly had
insisted they stay for dinner, and now 4 and half hours later, they
were on their way back to Justin’s house. She glanced over at him with a
small smile. “It seems like only yesterday when I saw her in the
hospital. She was so tiny.” she finished. “How does she have so
much energy?” he mused as he got the image of baby Brianna crawling all
over the house. He kept his eyes on the road. “I don’t even have that
type of energy.” he admitted with a light chuckle. He heard her
light laughter echo through the car. “Yeah, I don‘t either.” He gave
her a quick glance, her head rested against the seat, she turned to face
him, and placed a strand of hair behind her ear. She gave him a wide
smile. “You have to admit, she’s adorable.” Justin met her
gaze, and felt something deep within stir, as she looked up at him, her
eyes dancing with mischief and that beautiful smile. He should be
feeling the pain, anger and resentment Britney had left him with, but at
that moment he found himself feeling warm, and hopeful as he kept his
eyes on Nicole soft features. He swallowed. “Yeah, she is.” and looked
back out at the road in front of him. He was confused. Britney
had meant everything to him. He would have married her. Justin had been
more than ready to spend his life with that girl. But now any thoughts
of her, left a bad taste in his mouth. He was left with the realization
that he had no fucking clue about relationships. Britney had blindsided
him, he thought they were happy, he was wrong. The past 4 years had
meant absolutely nothing. He gripped the steering wheel a little bit
tighter. “Thanks for going with me.” he heard Nicole say.
Justin glanced once again at her. This is where he was confused. He was
reeling in emotions when it came to Britney, but in the past few hours,
he also had not been able to stop thinking about wanting to kiss
Nicole. How the hell was it possible for him be thinking about another
woman after what happened to him? In fact, it hadn’t crossed his mind in
the past few weeks. Sure he had been out every night at clubs, but it
wasn’t because he was looking for someone new. He had gone out to drink,
and distract himself, not in search for another relationship or even a
one night stand. Women were the last thing on his mind...until Nicole
came barging into his damn room. He should have been completely turned
off by the idea of any woman, but yet there he was thinking about
Nicole. He blinked out of his thoughts and teased. “It was either: me coming with you or you walking.” “I could have had Joey or Kelly come get me.” she quickly shot back with a smirk. He chuckled and looked back out at the road. “There’s no winning with you is there?” “Nope.” she answered quickly.
He shook his head, but didn’t reply. He gave her a small frown, and
Nicole reciprocated with an innocent smile. For the next ten minutes,
neither one spoke as Justin drove. The silence that hit the car wasn’t
awkward, on the contrary-it was almost peaceful. And it made him realize
that maybe he had been stubborn with how he had been dealing with
things lately. Nicole had somehow shocked him out if it. He knew it was
going to take time, but so far she had been the only one capable of
telling him how much of an ass he’d been and truly taking it to heart.
He found himself watching her again from the corner of his eye, she
brought her legs up to the seat to rest her chin on her knees and look
out the passenger window, the rain had picked up as the sun had gone
down. It only took him a few minutes to realize something was
bothering her. He forgot about his problems for a few moments, as he
racked his brain to earlier in the evening at Joey’s. She had acted as
if everything was okay, but he also knew she was the master at acting
like everything was fine even when they weren’t. He made a right turn at
the green light and decided to ask. “What‘s wrong?” “Hmm?” Nicole said distractedly.
This was different from earlier in his kitchen when she had gotten
quiet and lost in her thoughts. Then she had looked as if she was trying
to come up with the perfect way to talk to him, now she just almost
looked...lost. And as if a light bulb came on, he remembered how
uncomfortable she’d looked when Kelly had asked her about school and how
flustered she had acted when he had asked her about it at lunch too.
Yes she had talked about it school, but as soon as he brought up grad
school, she dropped the subject. He made another right turn on
his street, his gated driveway visible. “What’s wrong?” he repeated. By
then the car had come to a stop and he rolled down the window to punch
in the code that opened the gate. He hit the gas petal and drove into
the large driveway. She shrugged. “Nothing’s wrong.”
Justin drove the car into the garage, and put it into park, the key
still in the ignition. He took his seatbelt off and turned to face her.
He frowned. “You sure?” Nicole took her seatbelt off as well and said. “Yeah. Why?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. You just looked a bit...distracted.” he
observed. He knew he had to try and play this right, if he was to find
out what was really going on in her head. He shot in the dark and asked.
“Is this about grad school?” She looked at him in surprise. “What?” He tried to hide his smile. “You changed the subject when Kelly asked you about it at dinner.” he stated. “I-I did not.” she stammered, but reached for the car door handle.
Justin was quicker and grabbed her elbow. She frowned at him. “You
changed the subject when I asked you about it too.” he told her. He felt
her jump slightly at the sound of the thunder. “We should get inside before we get poured on-”
He raised an eyebrow. “We’re still in the car and inside a garage...I
think we‘ll be okay.” he reminded. “And don’t try and change the
subject.” he added. “Weren’t you the one telling me earlier today to
deal with your problems instead of pretending they don’t exist?” he
mocked in a serious tone. She glared. “This is not the same thing!” she exclaimed and removed her elbow from his grip. “Maybe not.” he said with a shrug. “But it’s pretty obvious something is bothering you.” She chewed her lower lip. “Nothing is bothering me.”
Justin shook his head. “See...I don’t believe that.” he said with a
small frown. “You might be able to fool everyone else...but you can‘t
fool me.” he stated, as the frown turned into a light smile. He placed
his finger on the lock button. “Justin...” she started as she
watched his finger push the button. She quickly reached for the door,
and tried to unlock it, but it was no use. “Justin!” she yelled. “Child proof door locks.” he stated calmly. “Let me out Timberlake.” she ordered in a strained voice. Justin shook his head again. “Nope.”
He watched her try and unlock the door once again. She turned and
glared. “Fine.” she said as she leaned back against the seat and crossed
her arms in front of her chest. “I have no place to be.” He
shrugged. “I don’t either.” and leaned back against his seat as well.
For the next five minutes, they sat in silence, as the rain outside
poured. Justin knew it probably wasn’t the best technique in getting her
to tell him what was wrong, but it was a little payback for the glass
of ice-water from earlier that day. Finally he decided to break the
silence, he sighed. “Eventually one of us is going to want to go pee.”
He smiled to himself when he heard the light giggle escape her lips. He
looked over at her, and decided to try again. “C’mon Nic, talk to me.”
His eyes still locked on her beautiful face. She sat inches from him,
her head against the seat as she pressed her lips together and watched
him. “You really don’t have to do this J.” “Do what?
Listen? I wouldn’t be asking if I didn’t want to know.” There was a long
pause before Justin asked. “Obviously whatever is bothering you has to
do with grad school. What is it that you are so afraid of?”
Nicole once again looked surprised at his assertion, but she did not
deny it. She nervously chewed on her lower lip, and Justin knew she was
trying to collect her thoughts. After a few moments, she finally spoke
up. “I started to do some research on some programs.” “What type of programs?” he asked.
“Teaching abroad.” she informed him. “And the programs I’ve looked into
require a masters-not all but the ones I‘m interested in do...which
obviously I don‘t have it.” she paused for a split second. “So for the
past few weeks I’ve been going back and forth about it. Because to be
honest, I don’t know if I want to go back to school.” She took in a
shaky breath and asked. “How long did it take to get my bachelors?”
Justin didn’t respond. He knew she wasn’t done venting yet. “God knows
how long it’ll take me this time.” she murmured to herself. “But...?” Justin pushed.
She sat up straight, and ran her fingers through her hair. “But
teaching abroad is something that I’ve wanted to do ever since I could
remember.” she stated, a hint of excitement in her eyes, but it quickly
vanished. She shook her head and laughed nervously. “I’m more confused
than I thought, I don‘t think I‘m making any sense.” She got quiet
again. “You know this is the first time, I’ve actually said any of this
out loud? I mean I had mentioned it to Trace a few weeks ago, but I
didn’t tell him my reasons.” She looked over at him with those brown
eyes, that gave away her fear, insecurities and confusion. He had the
sudden urge to reach out and wrap her in his arms. He was
supposed to be her best friend, but he had been so consumed in feeling
sorry for himself, that he hadn’t bothered to ask about what was going
on in her life. He wanted to hear her out, maybe there was something he
could or say to help. He opened his mouth to speak but was beat by his
phone ringing. He frowned before he glanced over at her. Were they ever
going to get to finish a conversation today? She must have been thinking the same thing because she said with a small smile. “I guess that’s the theme for the day.”
Justin sighed as he reached into his front pocket for his cell phone,
and placed it to his ear. “Hello?” He closed his eyes, and when he
opened them a few seconds later, Nicole had reached across him to try
and unlock the door. “Nicole!” he yelled, and quickly grabbed her wrist.
She didn’t pull all the way back, instead stood inches from his face, a
smirk on her features. He barely heard the voice over the phone. “What?
Hi Mom.” he said distracted. He glared over at Nicole. He wrinkled his
nose. “What?” asked, unable to understand what Lynn was saying on the
other line. “Mom, you‘re cutting out.” Yet Justin eyes lingered
down to Nicole’s soft inviting lips, he fought the sudden urge to lean
in and kiss them. He moved his gaze away from her mouth, and back to her
eyes. The smirk from a few seconds had disappeared, and instead she was
looking at him intensely. And there they went again; doing a one-eighty
on their relationship. His heart started to pound faster, harder, when
he let go of her wrist and instinctively cupped her cheek with his now
free hand. He blinked when he heard Lynn’s familiar voice on
the phone, but it was only for a brief moment. He barely heard Lynn tell
him, she would try and call him back in a little bit and then the call
dropped. But Justin only paid half attention, as Nicole closed her eyes
and turned her nose and mouth toward his hand. He absently dropped his
phone on the dashboard of the car. He felt her press her lips into the
moist hollow of his hand. “Nicole.” His voice was hoarse, quiet. Intense. “Did you just hang up on Lynn?”
He licked his lips and his hand dropped. “No, bad reception.” He
couldn’t stay away any longer. He needed to feel her lips against his.
She opened her eyes again, and Justin closed in on her, his nose inches
from hers, his mouth a hairbreadth away. He heard her suck in her breath
in anticipation. “Nicole.” he repeated, but kissed the corner of her
mouth, in such a light teasing touched that he felt her shiver. “Yeah?” she murmured.
He stared hard, and became overwhelmed with feelings he couldn’t begin
to explain. All he knew was that he needed to have her near, he needed
to kiss her, hold her, touch her. His lips hovered above hers, his nose
alongside hers. He knew, that just like him, she wanted to forget about
her problems...at least for a little while. “Nothing.” he murmured.
“Like I told you earlier, it‘s hard to explain.” he added half-jokingly. “We really didn’t get a chance to finish that conversation.” she reminded. Justin’s eyes locked with hers. “We can finish it now.” “Yeah?” she repeated.
“Yeah.” he answered, and then without another second thought he kissed
her, an honest to goodness, lips everywhere, tongue-teasing kiss. God,
he forgotten how amazing it felt to kiss her. She dipped her head back
and opened her mouth and Justin marveled at the taste and texture of
her, so soft, so wet, so eager, so different, yet exactly what he
remembered. “Mhmmm.” she murmured when his lips moved to her
jaw, her neck. But he cut off her moan with another kiss that left her
clinging to him like a lifesaver. Justin could hear the excited little
rush of both their breaths, the pants, the moans, the shift from casual
exploration to urgent questing. They were close, but not close
enough, he wanted to reach out and pull her into his lap, but wasn’t
sure how to go about it. His thoughts were so consumed with the touch of
her mouth that he couldn’t seem to think straight. Nicole seemed to
once again pick up on his thoughts because she crawled over the console
and into his lap, her knees sunk into the leather on either side his
hips, and he heard her moan when she felt the hard and strained at the
fly of his jeans. That was the damn effect this woman had on him. “You
taste so good, so damn good.” he managed to say in a hot whisper. He
brought his hands up and cupped her face between them, his lips still on
hers. Justin pushed his tongue between her lips again and met the wet
heat of her mouth as she sighed with pleasure. “Let‘s get inside...” she said into his mouth.
He broke from her mouth and dropped one hand, as the other stroked one
side of her cheek with the knuckles. Justin knew what she was implying
with her words, the tension between them had rapidly changed the moment
his lips touched hers. He blindly took the key out of the ignition, and
placed his hand on the door handle to push it open, but it would not
budge. “What the fuck?” he murmured and tried it again. Nothing. The
door would not open. She laughed, their breaths mingling
together. “Child proof door locks.” she reminded in a mocking tone.
Shit, he forgotten he had done that. He disabled the door locks as she
continued to teased. “Guess your plan backfired.” “Shut up.” he
said and kissed her, hard. He smiled against her lips when he heard her
whimper. He forgotten how sexy that sound was coming out of her mouth.
He was glad he still had that effect on her, even though it had been
about 5 years since he had kissed her. His hands slid up her back, he
ached to touch her bare skin. “Justin.” she murmured. “Hmm?” “Lets get inside.” she repeated.
“In a minute.” he growled, and covered her mouth with his again. He
licked at her lips and teased his tongue into her until they both moaned
in pleasure. Yes, he wanted to get inside, but he also wanted to just
continue kissing her. He wanted to make this last. He was in no hurry. Nicole whined into his mouth. “J...” “What...?” “Why don’t you take me inside?” she suggested and nipped at his lower lip. He only groaned and she then added. “Now.”
Justin broke from her lips, and furrowed his eyebrows at her. “You’re
so fucking demanding.” But pushed his door open and shifted her from his
lap, Nicole’s feet hit the pavement and she glared at him. “What?” he
snapped. “It’s the damn truth.” as his hand came around her body to
shove the door close, her scent enveloping him. “Jackass.” He snorted back his laughter. “Right, I’m a jackass.” He smirked. “But apparently you want this jackass to take you inside.” She lifted her chin up defiantly. “I changed my mind.”
Justin raised an eyebrow. “You have?” But he pressed against her, his
body trapped her body against the car. Nicole put one foot between his,
and struggled against him as she tried and push away from him. As she
did that her hip pressed against his crotch and she looked wide eyed at
him, when she felt the results of the friction she created when she
tried to break free, his dick hard in his jeans. He tried to hide the
smile, he knew now it was about who caved in first. “You sure?” he
asked. He watched her open her mouth to answer, but quickly snapped it
shut when they both heard the phone ringing from inside the car. “Son of
a bitch.” he cursed. He knew that was Lynn calling back. “You should have listened to me.” she said in an amused tone. Justin ignored her snotty remark and sighed. “I could just ignore it.”
Nicole pressed her palm to his cheek. “No, don‘t do that.” She gave him
a smile. “Besides, I changed my mind remember?” Yet her eyes danced
with mischief as she slid from between him and the car. Justin
opened the door and grabbed his cell phone from the dashboard. He
quickly turned and faced her. “I can change it back.” he said
confidently as the phone still ringed. “Oh yeah?” she
challenged with a smirk, she had began to take a few steps backwards
toward the door that led to the main house. “Yeah.” Justin said without missing a beat, his eyes looked her up and down for a few seconds.
She chewed on her lower lip. “Hmm. We’ll see about that.” She nodded to
the phone in his hand. “Why don’t you answer that first.”
Justin narrowed his eyes. “Brat.” he called out as she walked into the
house. He quickly put the phone to his ear. “Hello?” he answered. “Sorry
Mom, didn’t hear the phone ring at first.” he mumbled, and followed
Nicole into the house.
03/28/2011 11:05 AM
04/17/2011 9:40 PM
04/20/2011 10:47 AM
05/19/2011 1:45 PM
10/12/2011 12:09 AM
Chapter 37 Heartbreak Warfare Clouds of sulfur in the air Bombs are falling everywhere It's heartbreak warfare… January 2003
“Rach?” Nicole called out from down the hall, when the guest house’s
back door open and then closed. “The black heels with the little
rhinestones will probably look better with this dress.” Justin smiled to
himself as he made his way down the hall, toward the voice. “Rach!” he
heard her call again impatiently when there was no answer.
Justin stepped into the open bedroom where Nicole had been staying for
the past couple of days until her new place finished getting painted. He
glanced around, the television was turned on to MTV-he blinked in
surprise for a second when he realized music videos were being aired- he
glanced around once again expecting to see Nicole, but the room was
empty. He assumed, she was in the bathroom. He wrinkled his nose in
curiosity when he caught sight the mess on her bed. He thought
it looked like her clothes, Justin took a step closer, but before he
got a good look, he heard her voice again and turned around to face her.
“I still can’t believe I agreed to this-” she came to an abrupt stop
and her eyes grew wide when she saw him standing there. Justin
felt the familiar stir in the pit of his stomach as his eyes looked her
up and down. She stood a few feet away, in a short cotton white robe.
He knew she was minutes out of a shower, her dark auburn hair was still
damp, and it clanged to her head and neck, little wisps of hair trailed
down her cheeks. A heavy smell of peach and mint clogged his nostrils.
He swallowed, and cursed under his breath. How the fuck was she able to
stir such a reaction out of him without even touching? “I thought you were Rachael.” She yanked tighter on her robe.
He gave her long legs one last look, before he locked eyes with her.
“No, not her.” he answered as he tried his best to keep his eyes on her
face and not let them roam back to her legs. The sudden urge to reach
out and kiss her, hit him straight in the stomach. He hadn’t realized
how much he had actually missed her until now. They had talked a few
times on the phone, but the past few weeks had been so busy with all the
continuous promotion for the album that he really had not had any time
for himself, let alone think about anything that wasn’t work related. In
the past month he had been LA for a total of 4 days, and they had been
spread out and he had seen her only once-and it had been with other
people around. She tugged on the robe once again, and he caught a
glimpse of pale flesh. He knew there wasn’t anything else underneath
that robe. How many weeks had it been since he had seen her naked?
Three? Four weeks? He couldn’t help but think of sex when she
stood there still wet from her shower. He gave a slight shake of his
head, but furrowed his eyebrows. “What?” he asked when he caught the
look in Nicole’s eyes. It was a look that was usually reserved for
Susan-her mother-when she was trying to hide or keep something.
Nicole gave a small shake of her head. “Nothing.” she answered quickly
and tossed her wet hair back. “I thought you weren’t supposed to be back
for another two days?” she asked. Justin narrowed his eyes
down at her, she was up to something, but instead answered. “My
scheduled changed.” What the hell was she hiding? She kept avoiding eye
contact. She gave him a small smile. “Lynn wants to make sure you’re here for the birthday celebration. I think it seems fair.”
“Yeah.” For the first time in years, Justin had okayed his mom to go
all out for his birthday; usually he liked to celebrate it quietly and
with a few friends and family. “I think this is the first birthday in
years where I won’t have to be on the road to celebrate it.” He tried
once again to make eye contact, but she looked anywhere but at his face.
Instead she glanced over his shoulder at the bed. He followed her gaze
and then turned back to her. He quickly realized that she was in the
middle of getting ready to go out. “I can leave...” he said and pointed
to the bedroom door. She gave another quick shake of her head. “No it’s fine.” she cleared her throat. Justin raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? It seemed like you’re getting ready to go out-”
“Not for another hour and half.” she answered and brushed past him
toward the messy bed. She glanced at the alarm clock on the dresser.
“It’s only 5...” she trailed off. He had been right, it was her clothes
spread out on the bed, he watched as she began to rummage through it. He
kept his gaze on her for a few moments; if he wasn’t mistaken she
looked a bit nervous. He watched as she grabbed one article of clothing
and then tossed it back unto the bed, and then reach for another one,
then another one... “Nicky?” She quickly looked up from the clothes and locked eyes with him. “Hmm?” There it was again-that look that told him she was hiding something. He asked suspiciously. “What is it?” “What is what?” she asked and continued her task of looking through her clothes.
Justin took a step closer toward the bed and her. “You‘re nervous.” It
was a statement, not a question. He suppressed the groan at the tip of
his lips when his nose got another swift of peach and mint. She looked
back up at him, and placed her hands on her hips with a small pout. He
knew she was now trying to play it off, since he had called her out on
it. She furrowed her eyes at him. “Why would I be nervous?” He shrugged. “I don’t know.” he narrowed his eyes at her. “Why don’t you tell me?”
“You’re the one making assumptions of how I’m feeling Justin.” she shot
back as she moved her hands away from her hips and continued her task
of looking through the clothes on the bed. “So why don’t you tell me why
I’m nervous?” Justin wrinkled his nose, he knew exactly what
she was trying to do, and it was not going to work. “I love how you’re
trying to turn this around on me.” he said with a smirk, and took
another step closer to her. “I’m not turning anything around-” “No?” he asked. “Then why are you avoiding eye contact baby?” he murmured, he now stood inches from her. Nicole looked up, and purposely met his gaze. “Have you been drinking?” she asked without missing a beat.
He chuckled, and shook his head. “C’mon Nic- I know you like the palm
of my hand and I know when you are trying to avoid shit.” he paused as
she moved her eyes back down the clothes on the bed. “Or when you’re up
to something you don’t want others to know.” “Whatever Timberlake.”
“Yeah, that isn’t going to work either.” He placed a hand on her elbow
and gently turned her body in his direction, they now stood face to
face. God, she was even more fucking gorgeous without make-up. He
blinked back to the task at hand-and that was finding out what she was
damn well hiding. “Unless you’ve forgotten-you are the worse when it
comes to lying.” he said with a light smile. “Remember when you were ten
and broke Mr. Brooks kitchen window with that baseball? You didn’t even
make it twenty minutes before you were knocking on his door confessing
the whole thing.” “He knew it was me!” she answered defensively. He snorted. “I told you I would take the blame for it- he didn’t like me anyway.”
“Which is why I had to tell him the truth.” she muttered. She shook her
head. “What does that have to do with anything anyway?” He
smiled down at her. “I’m just trying to remind you of your past
history.” All he wanted to do at the moment was press his lips against
her soft ones. He had missed them, along with every other part of her.
He didn’t think twice, and placed his hands on her hips to pull her
closer to his hard body, her covered breasts pressed against his chest,
her hips pressed against his. She let out a small gasp when Justin
maneuvered one hand inside the robe, and his fingertips traced along her
naked hipbone. “So I’m pretty sure I can get it out of you...” he
murmured, his fingers aching to touch more. He leaned in and pressed his
forehead to hers. He closed his eyes, trying to get her scent engraved
in his brain. “Nicole?” The moment was broken, when they heard
Rachael’s raspy voice. They both turned their heads toward the door; he
quickly pulled his hand out of her robe and stepped to the other side
of the bed. “Are you almost ready?” she asked. “Sorry-you know how my
mom can be when she gets on the phone, but I want to see the outfit you
finally picked out...” She stood by the door then, her eyes wide when
they landed on Justin. “Oh, Justin...hey, I thought you weren‘t supposed
to be back for another 2 days.” “Plans changed.” he stated.
He glanced between both women. Obviously, he was missing something.
Rachael had the same look Nicole had a few minutes ago. He looked back
at Nicole. “Seriously? Do I need to go so you can finish getting ready?”
he asked, deciding to drop whatever she was hiding. Nicole shook her head and glanced over at Rachael with a small frown.
Rachael cleared her throat and gave Nicole an apologetic look.
“Obviously, I’ve inserted foot in mouth, so I’m just going to...go.” and
without waiting for a response she disappeared out of their sight.
Once they were alone again, Justin looked back over at her from across
the bed. “I can come back later-” he stopped for a second when,
Rachael’s words registered in his head. “How did she insert foot in
mouth?” he asked, repeating her words. She gnawed on her lower lip but
didn‘t say a word. He gave her a teasing smile. “You got a hot date or
something?” he joked. She glared over at him but once again didn’t say a word.
The smile faltered. “You do.” It was a statement not a question. “With
who?” he asked. He knew it shouldn’t bother him; it wasn’t as if Nicole
was his girlfriend. They had an understanding. Their whole arrangement
was supposed to be only physical, friend with benefits. Even if for the
past few months it had felt more than just that. Even if he hadn’t been
with anyone else but her. It hadn’t been a conscious decision, he had
just not found anyone who interested him (or the time really) and he
thought it was the same for her. He obviously was wrong. Nicole
pressed her lips together. “This guy has been coming into the store
lately- he actually works a few stores down...” she trailed off. “And he
came in yesterday and asked- Melissa overheard and before I realized
it, she told him I would.” She didn’t make eye contact, as she went back
to sorting the clothes on her bed. He gave a small nod of his
head and tried his best to play it off. “Well...good.” he stated. “You
should go out and... enjoy.” he finished. He heard her let out a sigh. “It’s just one date.” she whispered.
“You don’t have to explain it to me Nicky. You’re a grown woman that
can do whatever she pleases.” She raised her head up and finally met his
gaze, and raised an eyebrow. Justin tried his best to hide his smirk,
he knew, she was surprised by his answer. But technically it was the
truth, she didn’t belong to him. She hadn’t belonged to him in years.
She was stubborn-just like him. “You’re right.” she concluded,
her gaze never leaving his face as she once again chewed on her lower
lip. “I’ am.” Her eyes challengingly him, as if she expected him to
change his mind somehow. Justin walked back around toward her,
but instead of standing face to face, he stood a few inches behind her.
He leaned in. “What I don’t understand is why you felt the need to keep
it from me?” he mused in a low whispered. “That’s the reason you were
so nervous wasn‘t it?” he murmured into her ear. It all made sense now.
She hadn’t wanted him to find out. That amused and infuriated him at the
same time. She looked over her shoulder at him, their mouths
only inches apart. “What makes you think I was keeping anything from
you?” she shot back with a slow lick of her lips. He
suppressed the groan that almost escaped his throat. Fucking tease. He
thought to himself. She knew exactly what she was doing when she did
shit like that. “So you would have told me if Rach hadn’t shown up?” he
asked as he brought one hand up and scoped her wet hair away from one
side of her neck. What he wanted more than anything at that moment was
to lean in and suck on her soft skin. “Would it have mattered?” she asked with a light shiver before she turned and faced him.
“You know the answer to that Nicole.” he said, his blue orbs locked on
her. He wasn’t sure how much more self control he could mustered. His
body ached for her-along with his heart. He heard her take a deep
breath. Justin knew she felt the tension in the room thickened with
every ticking second. She didn’t say a word. Justin almost had the urge
to roll his eyes. Of course, she wasn’t going to say a word, because
then that would mean that they would have to talk about their
physical-yet-non-existent relationship. She was scared-Justin knew that.
He knew the fear of getting hurt and losing control was what kept their
relationship at bay. Justin opened his mouth to speak again
at the same time he heard Rachael say. “Justin?” she stuck her head back
into the room. “Sorry to interrupt-” she glanced between him and
Nicole. “Do you have your phone? Trace has been trying to get a hold of
you.” He shook his head. “It’s back in the house.” Rachael extended her hand out and handed him her phone. “It’s must be urgent because he called me.” she said with a smirk. Justin rolled his eyes. “With Trace? It’s always urgent.” and took the phone from grasp. “Thanks.” ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Once you want it to begin, No one really every wins In heartbreak warfare… Fifteen
minutes later, Justin stepped back into the bedroom and was not in the
least bit surprised when he found it empty. He turned back toward the
bedroom door but stopped when he heard noise coming from the bathroom,
followed by a single curse word: “Fuck!” A light smile tugged on his
lips, he quietly closed the bedroom door behind him, and turned on his
heels toward the bathroom. Justin knew it was better to let
this whole thing go, but he couldn’t help but feel a bit annoyed at the
idea of her out with someone else. The idea of someone else’s hand on
her, or someone else kissing her, it made his stomach twist in knots. He
leaned against the door frame, and tilted his head slightly as she
placed her makeup back on the counter before she bend down and picked up
her bronzer case. His jaw locked, as his eyes lingered first to her
long legs, and then to her ass- barely hidden behind that damn bathrobe.
He cleared his throat, and tried his best to look away from her body.
“Whoa, what did it do to you?” he joked as she tossed the case on the
counter frustrated when she couldn’t get it completely shut. But Justin
had a feeling her frustration was not only about her bronzer case...
Nicole turned her head to his voice and blinked in surprised before she
met his gaze. “That was a quick conversation.” she stated, ignoring his
comment. She reached for her makeup bag again, and grabbed her eye
shadow out of it. She leaned into the counter, just enough for his eyes
to catch a peek of her creamy thighs. Justin swallowed hard,
and looked away. “They usually are when they include Trace.” He rubbed
the back of his head shaven with the palm of his hand. Why had he
decided to come back in here again? Did he really want to sit around and
watch her get ready for this date with a guy she barely even knew? His
stomach churned again at the idea. “Is he still in New York with Elisha?” Nicole asked. “Yeah.” he answered, his eyes on her once again. “He said they should be flying in tomorrow morning.” “Oh. That’s good.” she murmured, and met his gaze through the mirror.
Justin chuckled. “You don’t like her do you?” He hadn’t missed the look
in her eyes when she said Trace’s new girlfriend’s name. She
paused and turned to look at him in the eye. “I don’t know her. I‘ve
only met her once.” She turned back to the mirror to sweep a darker
shade of shadow along the crease of her left eye. “I just think it’s a
bit fast for him to be calling her his girlfriend when it’s only been
like 3 weeks.” she murmured as she applied the eye shadow to her right
eye. He continued to watch as she applied her make-up. He felt
the familiar stir in his stomach as he watched her. Damn, if he
couldn’t keep his eyes off her, how did he expect anyone else to do it?
She was fucking beautiful. “What do you think of her?” she asked.
Justin blinked out his thoughts, and shrugged. “Oh um-she seems nice. I
haven’t really had a conversation with her though.” he answered, then
added. “And you might have only met her once, but I can tell you aren’t
going to be her biggest fan if this turns into something serious.” he
stated. Nicole placed the small brush on the counter and
sighed. “I am that obvious?” she murmured, and turned around to lean
against it. He padded his way toward her, and stood face to face with
her. She wrinkled her nose. “I just don’t want him to get hurt again.”
He smiled at her, and hesitantly placed a strand of loose hair behind
her ear. “You’re not that obvious-I‘m just that good...” he said with a
cocky look, as his knuckles stroked the side of her cheek. “He’s a big
boy Nic. If it’s not right, he’ll have to figure it out himself.” “I know.” she mumbled.
Justin knew this dangerous, but damn it, he fucking missed her.
Unfortunately, his arms slid around her before he could stop himself,
and he pressed himself into her. He heard a light gasp leave her lips,
but she didn’t push him away. “I should probably let you continue getting ready...” he murmured. The topic of Trace and his new girlfriend forgotten.
Her eyes fluttered open and shut. “Right.” she breathed. “I-uh-need to
get changed.” she stammered, and met his gaze but didn’t move from her
spot. Justin hid his smirk, as he let his fingers run slowly through her
hair. He wasn’t going to let her go so easily, at least not without the
idea of him in her head during her date. He knew it was a stupid game
to play, but damn it, he couldn’t bare the idea of some other guy
rubbing up against her. “Justin...?” she whispered. He leaned in, his mouth inches from hers. “Mmmm?” “I have to get dressed.” she repeated. “Yeah, you said that.” he said, a small smile on his lips. “We don’t want you to be late for your date.”
Nicole raised an eyebrow up at him. “Don’t fucking mock-” but before
she could finish her sentence, Justin took her mouth, with one hand in
the back of her hair, eliminating anymore distance between them. The
kiss was determined, hard and urgent. He smiled against her lips, when
he heard a light whimper leave the back of her throat. She opened her
lips, and he teased her lightly with his tongue. Justin broke
the kiss, and licked his lips, almost in satisfaction. He watched her
suck in a large breath before she looked up at him and glared. He knew
he shouldn’t have done it, but he couldn’t help himself, and a tiny part
of him loved to see her get riled up. He raised an eyebrow
challengingly at her. “What the hell is your problem?” she snapped. But she still didn’t push him away.
He moved his hands on each side of her- so Nicole was sandwiched
between him and the bathroom counter. “I don’t have a problem.” he
answered with a light shrug. He knew that it would piss her off even
more, and tried to keep a passive face. “You think this is some stupid game Justin?” she asked before she pressed her lips together.
He gave her a dubious look. “When did I say this was a game?” He licked
his lips before he whispered into her ear. “You could have said no...or
pushed me away.” he pulled back, a smug look plastered on his face. Nicole continued to glare up at him. “I have a date to get ready for.” emphasizing the word date.
He leaned back in again, his mouth inches from hers. “No one is
stopping you baby.” But he wasn’t going to let her go so easily, if she
was going on this date, Justin was going to make sure he was on her
mind the whole time. He would make sure she remembered how his lips felt
against hers, and how his fingers stroked over her soft curves...
“Move.” she ordered, her mint breath tickled his cheek. But she didn’t
make an effort to try and push him away. Justin only raised an eyebrow.
She narrowed her brown eyes at him. He saw the look that passed through
them- of lust and confusion. She leaned into him, her breasts lightly
brushed against his chest. “What are you trying to prove?” she murmured.
Justin angled his head a bit, if he moved an inch closer his
lips would literally be on hers again. “I don’t have to prove
anything...” he stated in a low whisper. “No?”
“Nope.” he asserted. He lifted one hand from the counter and gently
began to untie the front of her bathrobe, his eyes never left her face.
He watched as she followed his hand with her eyes-almost as if daring
him to continue. His lips twitched slightly. She could fight him all she
wanted with her words, but her eyes told him everything he needed to
know. He got her robe completely undone, and sneaked a hand inside, his
fingers gripped gently on her warm skin. Justin chuckled lightly as her
eyes fluttered shut at his touch. She involuntarily pressed herself
closer to him, and Justin was now in contact with the side of her face.
Her damp hair tickled his nose, and instead of brushing it way, he
buried his face in the rioted mess, and then pressed his mouth to her
neck. God, she was sweet. Sweet and fucking sexy, and he just
breathed her in. He knew he should stop. But he couldn’t resist, he
lifted his other hand from the counter, and smoothed her hair off her
face and let his mouth take itself on a little trail down her throat and
back up to her ear, breathing her in as if she could be his air. “Justin.” she sighed. He danced his hand inside of her robe, up and down her belly. Up, up... To the very undersides of her breasts....
It took everything to keep himself from moaning. He pulled the robe
with one hand so it rested open on her shoulders. Oh, God, she felt like
heaven. Justin moved the same hand down low enough to run into the very
top of her mound... Nicole’s hand instinctively found his,
and she gave a small squeeze as a little whimper sound escaped her, and
tore at his gut. He pressed his lips to her jaw, her cheek, helpless to
resist her smooth skin. “J...” “Shh, I’ve got you.” he murmured. “Justin.” she repeated, but didn’t move.
“Yeah. Me.” he teased gently. He kissed her jaw again, and then her
throat. He groaned when she took his wandering hand in both of hers and
brought it up to her bare breasts. He smiled to himself; he knew he
could make her forget about that stupid date. His fingers
stroked her hard, pebbled nipples as his tongue worked its way to her
bare shoulder, he nudged her against the counter, so he could lean over
her to get a look at what he had exposed. The robe had somehow slipped
off her shoulders, and rested half way down her torso. He completed
melted at the sight of her pale breasts as his tanned fingers played
with her nipples. And the truth hit him like a one-two punch-
this wasn’t just about sex-he didn’t want to share her. The more time
they spend together, the stronger the need for her became. “We shouldn’t....” she said in a lame attempt to get him to stop.
“Yeah?” he questioned, but realized there and then, that she could
resist him as much he could resist her. “I’ve missed you Nicole.” he
confessed, his eyes on her face, as if trying to engrave her in his
brain. She didn’t let go of his hand. Instead, she pushed it down, and
it took everything inside of him to not whine in disappointment. He
wanted to continue touching her because her nipples were the most
gorgeous nipples he’d ever seen. But where she pushed his
hand-past her quivering belly into the hot and wetness between her
thighs-it worked, too, and he spread his fingers to touch as much of her
as he could. She let out a needy murmur, one that had his name
on it, and nearly had him coming right there and then. She was a
magnetic pull, he had no answer for. “Justin,” she gasped, her
body arching up when he moved his fingers, increasing the rhythm. God,
he couldn’t get enough of her. He gave her another look, her eyes shut
tightly. He kept his hand on her, and pressed his mouth to her shoulder
while he worked her into a feverish pitch with his fingers. Another soft
sound left her throat, and he felt her blindly search for his face.
“Kiss me.” she pleaded. An invitation if ever he’d heard one, and he
snatched it, he lowered his mouth to hers. She made the sound
again and spread her legs for him, and he didn’t hold back, as he ran
his tongue over her lower lip, and then drew into his mouth to suck,
then caressed it again, as he glided his fingers over her. Into her.
She gasped his name, and he leaned over her, inhaling her scent, the
soft feel of her, the way she panted into his ear, how her mouth clung
to his as if maybe, just maybe, he was a lifeline for her. Her breathing
had turned into a mantra of his name, and he increased the pressure of
his fingers, and she cried out, a needy sound that went straight to his
groin. She opened her eyes, glossed over and disoriented with desire.
Yet, Justin couldn’t help but notice a hint of confusion in them as
well. He didn’t care; he needed to show her why she needed to stay there
with him. He kissed her again. And again. Her face
was flushed, her mouth wet from his, and that wasn’t the only place she
was wet. She was drenched for him, and the knowledge brought a surge of
pleasure so sharp he couldn’t contain his groan, or keep his fingers
from playing in her slippery heat. “Please.” she whimpered
into his mouth, as she rocked her hips in tune with his fingers, urging
him into her rhythm, but he already knew it. He knew her, knew what made
her hum with pleasure, knew how to turn her moans into gasping, hungry
cries, how to drive her up higher and higher until her body went tight,
and then even tighter, until her hands came down over his as if to hold
him there, as if afraid he’d pull away and stop. That was not
going to happen. He kept with her, and increased the pressure and pace
as she wanted, he swallowed the lump in his throat and glanced down to
watch, which nearly had him losing it. Her eyes were closed
once again, as her mouth opened and she gasped for air, her breasts
full, her nipples peaked tight, her belly quivered as he moved his
fingers on her, in her. He bend down and took one of her nipples in his
mouth, and sucked hard as he stroked her, and she went taut as a bow,
then burst. He couldn’t keep his eyes off her, as she exploded
for him, on him, all over him. It was the hottest, most erotic thing he
had ever seen, and he hadn’t even been touched. Her hips
slowed, and she released his hand, probably as reality hit. He didn’t
react as fast as her, and was slow to take his hand off her, and let it
glide up and over her hip, over her ribs, barely skimming the very
bottom of a breast, he felt the goose bumps all over her skin before he
withdrew and gently helped her slip the robe back over her shoulders to
cover the top of her body again. But he didn’t want to let her go just
yet, he leaned into her again, and pressed his mouth to the side of her
cheek, his chest pressed against hers. He could feel her heart racing
deep within her chest, as he was sure, she could feel his as well. “Nicole-” he whispered into her ear. She turned her face towards his. “I’m sorry.” she murmured. He cupped one cheek. “For what?” he asked.
Nicole blinked up at him, and Justin saw the confusion back in her
brown eyes. “I shouldn’t have-I mean...” she trailed off as if not sure
if she should continue. She licked her lips nervously, and looked away,
and over his shoulder. No damn it, this is not how he wanted her to feel
about what just happened. He didn’t want her to feel ashamed or
embarrassed. He placed his thumb under her chin, and tilted
her face back toward him. “Hey,” he said softly, as his eyes searched
her face. “What’s the problem?”
She gave a small shake of her head. “Justin,” she started. “We shouldn’t have-I shouldn’t have-” she corrected.
He stroked the side of her cheek with his finger. “Shouldn’t have
what?” he asked, even though he knew the answer. Nicole shot him a look,
and sucked in a large breath, and tried to break his gaze. But Justin
wouldn’t allow it. He wasn’t going to let this to be pushed under the
table, like they’ve done before with everything else in their
relationship. “You’re acting as if this has never happened before.” he
blurted out, beginning to feel a bit annoyed with the whole situation. Nicole fully glared at him that time.
He raised an eyebrow at her. “What? It’s the damn truth isn’t it?” he
questioned but didn’t wait for her to answer. He moved the hair from her
face. “Whenever we’re alone, this always seems to happen. I can‘t seem
to fight it, and I know you can‘t either.” He brushed his nose along her
jaw toward her ear, where he slowly exhaled. He slid his hand into her
hair, cupping her nape, and urged her closer, as his thumb stroked her
skin. She let out a shaky breath. “J-” But before
Nicole had the chance to continue, they both heard a light knock,
followed by Rachael’s voice. She broke away from him and turned her
attention to the closed bedroom door-15 feet away. “Nicole!?” she called
out. “Are you ready? It’s almost 6:30!” she reminded. “Okay, thanks Rach!” she called back. She turned and faced Justin again, and chewed on her lower lip. He narrowed his eyes at her. “You’re still going?” She blinked at him. “I have-” Justin shook his head. “No, don’t fucking say that you have to go Nicole.” he snapped, and finally took a step back from her.
“Weren’t you the one telling me do go and enjoy myself?” she said
sharply, as she folded her arms across her chest. She glowered at him.
“And I can’t just not go. He’s probably on his way here anyway.” He clenched his jaw. “Right.” Her eyes softened and she whispered. “I’m confused...I thought-” “Confused about what?” “Nothing.” she said quickly. “Forget it.” and turned back around to face the mirror.
Justin grabbed her elbow and turned her back around to him, and locked
his blue orbs on her brown ones, and searched her eyes for the answer he
was looking for. “No.” he said. “You thought what?” he pushed. They
stood there for a few moments, neither one saying a word. “You thought
what Nicole?” he repeated. She sucked in a large breath before she answered. “I thought you didn’t care.” “I didn’t say that.”
“Then what Justin?” she asked him. “Because I’m still confused, first
you act as if this date is not a big deal and encourage me to go,” she
started “Then all of a sudden you can’t seem to keep your hands off
me...” she trailed off. “I don’t get it.” “What about you?” “What about me?”
“If I wouldn’t have shown up today, would you have told me about
tonight? Because you sure as hell looked guilty when you saw me.” he
observed. “I don’t have anything to feel guilty about.” she
defended. “This-” and pointed to herself and then him. “This is not
supposed to be more than physical remember? Isn’t that what we agreed
on?” She looked back up at him. “And besides-I’m not making you share
with me who your current conquests have been since the last time we saw
each other.” “No?” She ran her fingers nervously through her hair. “No.” “Ask me.” Nicole blinked in surprised. “What?” “Ask me.” he repeated. “I’m not going to-” she said with a shake of her head.
He took the step back toward her, and looked deep in her eyes. “I
haven’t been with anyone.” he said truthfully. She looked wide-eyed at
him-almost as if surprised by this revelation. “You’re all I think about
Nicole.” he confessed. She swallowed, and looked away from his gaze. He
could feel her crawling back into her shell at his words. “Look at me.”
he demanded hoarsely as he placed his hand beneath her chin, and gently
forced her to look up at him. He was tired of this round around they
had been doing. He had to make her understand. “I don’t want to share you. I want you.
I want us to try this again, for real this time.” he said, his gaze
never faltering. “I don’t want anyone else. I’m tired of these mind
games we continue to play Babygirl.” She licked her lips, as she tried to look away from his blue gaze.
Justin once again tilted her chin, and forced her to look at him. “No,
Nic-look at me.” he repeated. “Stop running from this. From me.”
But Justin could sense her hesitation. “You’re what I want...you’ve
always been what I wanted-I know you know that.” he whispered.
“Regardless of everything, you have this damn effect on me that no one
else manages to stir...” She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “I can’t do this right now.” she said a hushed tone.
“Why? Because you have this so-called date to get ready for?” he
sneered. “You know-if it was as important as you are trying to convince
yourself it is, then you would have not let me touch you the way I just
did.” he reminded. “You would have told me no.” Justin knew he
couldn’t force her; he had never been able to do that. She was fucking
stubborn. The damn fear of losing control of herself, is what kept
whatever they were/are from moving forward. A year ago, he would have
been fine with it-especially after Britney, but-he had finally let go of
that. And a big part of that had been because of Nicole. He
leaned in again, and murmured into her ear. “But you go ahead and finish
getting ready for this date.” He pulled away from her, and turned his
back to her as he stepped out of the bathroom. ~~~~~~~~~~ If you want more love, why don't you say so? A
few hours later, Nicole ran her fingers nervously through her hair; she
stood on Justin’s kitchen back door porch. She licked her dry lips, as
she tried to get the courage to knock on the door. She looked at her
reflection through the window, and wrinkled her nose; maybe she should
have gone and changed before she came up here-she was still in her date
outfit. The date she had ended only an hour after it started. It wasn’t
as if there had been anything wrong with him- on the contrary- he had
shown up on time, and had even made reservations at a nice restaurant,
followed by a jazz concert, but Nicole’s mind and heart had not been in
it and had told him after dinner that she was sorry, but she was
beginning to not feel well and had asked to be taken home. She
still wasn’t sure why she had agreed on the stupid date anyway, and her
hesitation had been long before Justin had walked into the bedroom. She
felt a light shiver run down her spine when she thought about the way
his lips had felt against her, and the way his expert hands had roamed
up, over and in her body. She frowned. “That bastard.” she thought to
herself. He had done that on purpose. He knew she would not be able to
concentrate on anything after that. She glanced back at her
reflection, and sigh. She needed to talk to him, to apologize for
earlier. What she had done had been wrong, she shouldn’t have left
without clearing things up with him. But his words had taken her by
surprise-he had never come out and said that to her before. She had
emotionally shut down. Why? Because she was scared. And at dinner, his
lips, his hands, and the fear she felt was all she had been able to
think about. Nicole sucked in a large breath and knocked
lightly on the door, and then waited. She knew he was still up-the
kitchen light was still on. She stood there for another minute, but she
didn’t see him. She chewed on her lower lip, and knocked a bit harder
that time. Maybe he had fallen asleep? Or maybe he wasn’t home? But his
car was there... maybe Marty or one of his other friends had come and
picked him up? But before Nicole had a chance to wonder if he was there
or not, the back door swung open. She felt the familiar
butterflies in her stomach whenever he was around. She couldn’t help but
smile when her eyes fell on his handsome face. “Hey.” she managed to
greet. He looked down at her in surprise. “Hey...” he greeted back and scratched the side of his ear. “We’re you asleep?” she asked, when she noticed, how surprised he looked to see her standing there. “Um-no.” “Okay, good. Can I come in?”
He didn’t say a word as he took a step to his side, and let her walk
into the kitchen. She watched as he closed the door behind him, and
glanced down at his watch. “You’re home early.” he observed. Nicole knew what he meant by that. She felt her heart race deep within her chest. “Yeah-”
But before she had the chance to continue, she heard a female voice
call out. “J?” Nicole turned her face to the voice, and felt a pang in
her chest, when she recognized the beautiful woman that entered the
kitchen. “Where did you go-” but stopped mid-sentenced when she spotted
Nicole. The frown the beautiful blond had been wearing a few seconds
ago, turned slightly into a smile when she recognized her. “Nicole!” she
exclaimed. “Oh my god! I haven‘t seen you in months!” she greeted in
that southern drawl and walked over to give her a friendly hug.
Nicole hugged her back numbly. They pulled away, and Nicole forced a
friendly smile on her face. “Hey! “She faked exclaimed. “How you’ve been
Britney?” she asked, and raised an eyebrow at Justin-who sat on the bar
stool, a light frown on his lips. I’m all he wants, my ass.
She thought to herself. This day just kept getting better and better.
She needed to get the fuck out of here. She could not believe she was
going to come over and here and try to beg him to forgive her. Britney’s smile faded a bit. “I’m good.”
And that’s when Nicole noticed her bloodshot eyes-almost as if she had
been crying. Nicole felt the empathic side of her kick in. “You sure?”
Britney nodded. “Yeah. Just...had a moment.” She looked over her
shoulder at Justin. “I think I’m going to go. I’ve already missed like
20 phones calls. Don’t need for them to call the police or something.” Nicole watched as Justin got off the stool and nodded. “Okay, I’ll walk you to your car.”
Britney leaned in and gave Nicole another hug. “We need to do lunch
soon.” she said as she pulled away. “But I’ll see you Friday night
right?” Nicole wrinkled her nose in confusion. “Friday night?” She nodded. “Yeah, for Justin’s birthday party.” she reminded.
“Oh right.” Nicole said, as she felt a tiny bit of annoyance at the
realization that Justin’s ex-girlfriend was going to be at his birthday
party. “Friday...yeah.” as she forced a smile. Britney smiled back, and glanced back at Justin. “I’m going to grab my car keys.”
Justin nodded once again, once she was out of the sight, he made his
way to Nicole. His blue orbs landed on her face. Nicole felt her breath
catch in her throat, as she gazed up at him. Goddamit why did he have to
be so damn beautiful? It made hating him, so much harder. “Don’t leave.” he pleaded. “Let me walk her out, and I’ll be back.” he stated. Nicole didn’t say a word.
“Please Nicole.” he begged. He must have seen the look in her eyes.
“Give me five minutes okay?” He nodded in the direction of the fridge,
and then glanced back down at her. “Mom, brought me some of Granny’s
homemade peach cobbler...” he said in a light teasing tone. “I’ll share
it with you- if you’ll wait for me.” Nicole tried to hide the
small smile. He knew she couldn’t resist his grandmother’s baking.
Especially her famous peach cobbler. “I’ll have to have a serious talk
with Granny the next time I see her.” she said. “Where’s my homemade
peach cobbler?” she asked with a light frown. Justin chuckled
lightly. “There’s more than half left, you know where the forks and
plates are at.” He gave her shoulder a light squeeze. “I’ll be right
back,” he promised. Nicole gave a small nod, and he took that as a good
sign because he smiled before he walked out of the kitchen.
She sighed, but made her way toward the cabinet with the plates. She
swung it opened and reached for a plate. She placed the plate on the
marble counter island; she walked toward the drawer with the spoons and
forks. She grabbed a fork and knife, and sighed again-only louder, as
she made her way to the fridge to take out the peach cobbler. She should
just leave. God knows what she had interrupted before she had knocked.
Not that it mattered to her of course. She closed the fridge
door and walked back to the plate, the dish of cobbler in her hand. She
placed the dish on the counter. What could he possibly want to say to
her? Did he realize he had made a mistake in what he had told her
earlier? She took the foil wrapper off the cobbler, her mouth quickly
watered when she saw the deliciousness of it. She cut a large slice with
her fork and knife and placed it on her plate. He hadn’t even
waited an hour before he had called her! And Nicole had been worried
about how mad he had been. She snorted before she took a fork full of
cobbler into her mouth. Again, why was she still there? Her tongue came
in contact with the sweet dessert, and she closed her eyes. “This is why you haven’t left yet.” she thought to herself as she reached out for the bar stool and sat herself down.
Maybe she could finish her slice before he reappeared. But a tiny part
of her knew that wasn’t how she should deal with this situation, and
bigger part of her, had no fucking clue how to deal with any of this
anymore. It shouldn’t matter to her if he was spending time with his
ex-girlfriend. Nicole wasn’t his girlfriend. She was just the rebound
friend, who was there whenever he needed to release some steam, and vice
versa. She leaned into the counter and frowned to herself, as
she took another bite and his words from earlier in the day came
flooding back. He had said he wanted to try again. Had he really meant
that? Because seeing his beautiful ex-girlfriend in his kitchen, was not
helping Nicole see the positive in his words. Nicole suddenly felt the
walls around the room start to inch around her, she dropped the fork on
the plate. She shouldn’t be there. She had been stupid to think that he
had been serious in his confession earlier. But deep down,
Nicole knew his confession had been real, and that’s where the panic was
coming from. She got up from the stool and placed the foil back on the
left peach cobbler. She walked in the direction of the fridge and placed
it back inside. That’s where the annoyance and part of her fear was
coming from, she realized. Yes, a part had to do with her, and their
situation, but it also had to do with the fact that Nicole did not want
him to get hurt that way again, not by Britney...and especially not by
her. Because she knew her fear is what kept them from moving forward.
The fear of losing herself in him, the fear of getting hurt, and the
fear of hurting him in the process. “Did you leave me any?” she heard Justin tease.
She glanced up and he was leaning into the island, a small smile on his
mouth. She nodded. “Yeah, there’s plenty left.” She pressed her back
against the fridge, and locked eyes with him. She wasn’t sure of what to
say. “Thanks for waiting.” he finally said after a few moments and rubbed the top of his shaven head. Nicole gave a small shrug. “Why exactly did you want me to wait?”
Justin raised an eyebrow at her, and folded his arms on the counter, as
leaned more into it. “You showed up here...” he reminded. “Oh...right.” she said lamely. “I didn‘t mean to interrupt-” “You didn’t interrupt anything.” he told her, and narrowed his eyes at her.
Nicole only nodded, but broke away from his gaze. She needed to leave.
She didn’t want to be there, she had to try and figure out how she truly
felt about everything. Because she wasn’t even sure she should be upset
about the fact that his ex-girlfriend had just left his house or the
fact that she was going to be attending his birthday party on Friday
night. And then there were his words from earlier that kept swimming in
her head... “Nicole.” he called out and straighten himself up and took a step in her direction. “She showed up after I left you-” She gave a slight shake of her head, but didn‘t look at him. “J-you don’t have to explain-”
Justin shook his head sharply. “No, I want to.” he said firmly, and she
finally met his gaze again. “She called me in tears.” he started, he
now faced her, but they were still a few inches apart. “She got into a
fight with her mom, and I guess she had been driving around for almost
an hour before she decided to call me. She said I would be the only
person that would understand.” He explained. “Anyway, she wanted me to
meet her at a coffee shop, and I suggested she come here instead. I
don’t need the damn paparazzi starting shit back up about us...” he
trailed off. “Justin, really, you don’t have to explain.” she repeated. But Justin wasn’t going to let this drop. “She needed someone to vent to.”
“I guess she has more venting to do, since she’ll be at the party on
Friday.” she blurted out without thinking. She cursed at herself. Where
the hell had that come from? Justin raised an eyebrow in surprise to her
comment. Nicole felt her cheeks begin to burn. “I’m sorry, I had no
right to say that.” Then added. “I just don’t want-” He
stopped her. “I’m not going there again Nicole. Trust me.” he rubbed the
top of his head nervously. “And yes, I did invite her to come Friday
night. We’re trying to stay friends.” he said with a small smile. “But
there is nothing going on. I swear.” he reassured. “She needed someone
to talk to, and I couldn’t just leave her hanging.” he explained.
Nicole nodded again, but she had seen how hurt he had been after things
ended between him and Britney, and she had hated seeing him that way.
He had been in a dark place, and Nicole prayed that she would never see
him there again. And just when he seemed to start letting go of things,
Britney would show up, and he would go back there again, it hadn’t been
until after last year’s Thanksgiving where he had started to let go of
the hurt, and of Britney for good. "Nicole." he said, she
blinked back up at him, but did not reply. He searched her face, as if
trying to get a sense of what she was thinking. "I meant what I said
earlier." he said. "Those weren't just words. I want us to try again
baby." Nicole felt her stomach tighten at his words-not because
she didn't believe him-but because she did. She wanted to stop being
scared. She wanted to give him what he was asking, but she didn't know
if she could, or if she knew how to. Even for the brief moment that they
had been together as teenagers, she never truly knew how to give him
what he wanted. "Stop trying to come up with excuses on why you
should leave." Justin said sharply. Nicole frowned at him. She hated
that he knew her so damn well. He continued. "And stop trying to
convince yourself that something happened between me and her, just so
you can give yourself a way out." He took another step toward her. “So
I'll say it again; there is nothing going on between us. Nothing
happened." Nicole spoke up for the first time in the past few minutes. "Are you going to tell me that the idea didn't even cross-"
"She tried." Justin said honestly, his eyes cold for a split second.
"But I told her no. I've finally moving on from that. From her. She will
always have a spot in my heart-I can’t deny that-but I don't want her
back." he confessed. He tilted his head, and tried to catch her gaze
again. "I want you Nicole. Just you." She
swallowed the lump in her throat, as she tried to keep the tears from
spilling over. "Justin..." she started, thankful for the support of the
fridge holding her up. "Why is this so hard for you to
believe?" he murmured, and now stood in front of her, he placed one hand
on her elbow. "Why do you try so hard to run from this?" He pressed his
forehead to hers. "I'm tired of us pretending that it's purely physical
with us." Nicole took a shaky breath. “I’m not running-“ Justin raised an eyebrow. "No? What about back in Virginia last March?” he reminded. “Do you remember what I said?”
Of course she remembered last March. He had come out and said he loved
her, to this day, she wasn’t sure if it had just spilled out after a
moment of passion or if he truly meant it. But of course they had not
talked about that either. She felt paralyzed, she wish she didn’t. “Yes,
I remember…” she barely whispered and looked up at him through her
lashes. But that had been back in March, that had been almost ten months
ago, and even though he was telling her all this right now, in between
those months he had seen other people. Him, not her. There had been
Jenna-the dancer, and even Alyssa Milano… And it was things
like that kept her heart on guard. That’s what made her so hesitant to
open up to him again, to really let him in. Why did she have to over
think everything?! Why couldn’t she just say yes? He let out a
dejected sigh, when she didn’t say anything else. He still had his
forehead pressed to hers, and cupped her face between his hands. She
blinked back more tears. “Don’t cry.” he murmured sweetly, and wiped the
tears that rolled down her cheek with his thumb. But Nicole
couldn’t help it. All of this was so frustrating. She opened her mouth
to apologize, but let out a low moan when she felt his lips on her. He
kissed her sweetly, and softly, his tongue teased the inside of her
mouth. He broke away after a few moments. “I’m not going to
push you...” he muttered. “I know better than to do that.” he said with a
light chuckle. Nicole felt her heart squeeze at his words. She didn’t deserve him. She swallowed the huge lump in her throat. “I should go…” “Why?” “Do you really want me here right now?” she asked him. Justin gave her a small smile. “Honestly? Yes, I do.” he said. He placed a kiss on her cheek. Nicole wrinkled her nose at him in confusion. “Why are you being so understanding over this?” she couldn’t help but ask.
“Because, I’m your best friend.” Justin started. “Because I know where
the fear is coming from. I hate it, but I understand. And I can’t bare
the idea of losing you.” he said. “I can continue to push you on this,
but it will only push you out of my life.” he whispered. “I would rather
continue to have my best friend in my life, than lose her for good.
Because I don’t think I could survive that.” Good to know it's all a game Disappointment has a name, it's heartbreak warfare…
10/25/2011 11:39 AM
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