Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

The next day, Jessica woke up in her bed at Claudia-Michelle’s house to find a note on her beside table.

Jess—
Claud and I are going to be out all day. I’ve got
to do a photo shoot with Danie for the city magazine
about her coup d’ etat. Eventually they’re going to want
to talk to you. 🙂 Claud’s got a few errands to run so she
probably won’t be back for a while. Anyhow, Claud
says you can make yourself at home. But we’ve got
some stuff to go over when we get back. Fun stuff,
I assure you, love. Get some rest, alright?

Love,
Aidan

Jessica refolded the note and tapped her finger on her lips. What am I going to do today? Claud’s gone, Aidan’s gone and… She stopped herself before she could think of Josh. She told herself to give it time before she went back to talk to him. As she looked at the tan line on her left ring finger, she realized that she wanted to explore her life without him a little more. Then she would see where she stood.

With that on her mind, she grabbed a robe from nearby and padded to the bathroom in bare feet. While standing under the taps, she relaxed and enjoyed the sensation of the hot water hitting her body. Suddenly, she felt the urge to sing. So she opened her mouth and let the words on her tongue come out.

I raise my voice to say
The words deep in my heart
But you tell me to stay silent
Even before I start to speak
It’s almost like it’s not important
What I feel or what I think
Like I’m some little girl
Who’s foolish and weak—

She broke off abruptly, grasping what was going on. She hurriedly turned off the shower, muttering the words repeatedly so she wouldn’t lose them. She rushed back into her room and grabbed a pen and a piece of paper. She scribbled madly.

Before she knew it, she had nearly a whole song in front of her.

“Ohmigosh,” she breathed, her eyes welling up. She couldn’t figure out why.

As she sat in astonishment, her cell phone rang. Frowning, she glanced at it, wondering who would call her.

In the little screen, it merely said, Nick.

Nick? she thought with confusion. Frown still in place, she flipped open the phone and pressed send. She didn’t know how she managed to keep her voice steady as she answered the phone.

“Hello?”

“Jessica? It’s Nick.”

“Um, hi, Nick.” She shifted so that her legs were under her. She didn’t want to feel them shake. “How are you?”

“Great. I actually was calling to check up on you. We really didn’t get to talk last night after your set and…”

“It’s okay,” Jessica said hurriedly, feeling her face heat up with the mere thought of what happened. “I mean, it was in the heat of the moment, and we got caught up in our history together…”

“No,” Nick disagreed. “It’s not okay. I would like to talk to you about this. I don’t feel right not discussing it. It’s like trying to ignore a big white elephant with a bulls-eye on his back.”

Jessica snorted at that and couldn’t help but to fall into laughter.

“I know,” Nick remarked with a chuckle. “Outlandish as it sounds, but that’s what it seems. So we need to talk.”

Jessica nodded. She figured it would have to happen sometime. “Alright. I’m over Claudia’s house. She’s out of the house but I’m sure she won’t mind you coming over to talk to me.”

“Good. I’ll be over in a few minutes.”

They said their amicable goodbyes and hung up.

Jessica sat there for two whole minutes in bemusement.

Because it had suddenly dawned on her that Nick was coming over. And she was here. With no husband, no sister, no friends. Alone.

* * *

The little pinpricks of doubt had diminished somewhat by the time Nick had arrived. Jessica told herself that if something happened between them, then it was meant to happen. She was tired of running away from her destiny with Nick. As clichéd as it sounded, she knew that something would have to happen for the two of them to transgress to the next level—whatever that meant.

When the doorbell rang, Jessica was in the kitchen. She was leaning against the sink with a glass of water. She gulped the last of it down, trying to get rid of the dryness in her throat. Gee, when did that start? She wasn’t sure, but she ignored it and answered the door.

Nick stood in his coat, looking cute with his impish grin and red ears from the cold wind. Jessica couldn’t help smiling back at him.

“Hello Nick,” she greeted him.

“Hello Jessica,” he greeted her.

She stepped aside and let him inside. When he discarded his coat, she hung it up in the closet. As she slipped the coat on a hanger, she felt Nick especially near. Too near for comfort. She stepped back to close the door and bumped into Nick.

She didn’t realize how close he was until she whirled around and found them nearly nose to nose. She tried to laugh nervously, found she could not, then went into Claudia-Michelle’s living room.

“Jessica,” Nick began patiently, “you’re doing it again.”

“Me?!” Jessica sighed and tried to bring the pitch of her voice down. “Listen, this is still a little awkward.”

Nick nodded. “It is, but I don’t want it to be. Do you?” When Jessica shook her head, he led them to the couch and they sat down.

Jessica turned her head and found him staring at her. She said the first thing that came to mind. “How are you and Katie?”

Nick placed his hand on her thigh. She fought the urge to tremble. “Katie and I…are going through a rough patch at the moment. She’s doing her thing…and I’m doing mine.”

“And you plan on doing it with me.” Jessica said it as a statement, and not a question.

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you wanted to. I could see it in your eyes.”

Nick peered at into hers before asking, “And you and your husband?”

“I don’t have any illusions about my marriage anymore,” Jessica told him, eyes hardening. “Josh and I are over if that was what you wanted to hear.”

Nick removed his hand and nodded silently. His eyes drifted to the table and onto the legal pad Jessica had scribbled her brainchild upon. He reached out and picked it up and Jessica watched as if she were embarrassed for him to look at it. She reached out to take it from him but he ignored her for a moment.

“Yeah, it’s pretty obvious you don’t have any illusions left, Jessica,” Nick murmured, reading the words again.

Jessica nervously reached for a pen. “That’s very rough. I wrote it in a hurry and…”

Nick turned to her silently. He tossed the pad back on the table and took the pen from her gently, and she shivered at his touch. Her heart quickened; her breath escaped from her lungs but she could not breathe in. He leaned in. He was a sigh away from her parted lips. She inhaled sharply before he closed the distance and placed his lips on hers.

The pen dropped to the floor unnoticed, and rolled under the couch.

He brought his hand up to her tawny hair and with his hand at the nape of her neck crushed her to him. The taste of flavored lip gloss reminded him of the past, of another encounter that he tried not to think about because he was afraid that this very thing would happen. And now that it was happening, he found that he didn’t worry overmuch about the consequences anymore.

They leaned back on the couch as one. Jessica felt her world becoming nebulous as Nick’s lips traveled along her jawline and down her neck. His hands worked with the tie on her wraparound shirt and she felt her skin exposed to air. Goosebumps rose on bare skin. Nick placed his lips on the area just below the union of her bra, and her stomach tightened. This hurt madly, this ache that she felt as she explored with his lips and hands, and tasted with his mouth. He undid her jeans and slid them off inch by tortuous inch. When the jeans were discarded, he pressed a palm to the vee of lace once hidden and felt her shudder. Those cloudy brown eyes stared at him as he dipped a finger underneath the lace. The explosion of pleasure had Jessica gripping the arm of the couch. His name came on her moan, heightening his own painful arousal.

Jessica placed her hands on either side of his shirtfront and ripped it apart. Buttons flew like small missiles, hitting walls, pictures, furniture. She helped him out of his shirt, finding delight in feeling his muscular frame and smooth skin, and Nick brought his mouth to hers. The kiss was passionate; hands were busily working over damp skin to remove any barriers between them. When they were both completely bare, Nick shifted so that he could stare into those intoxicating brown eyes as he filled her. As he did, he could see them widen with shock, then narrow with desire.

The friction had the ache building again, building so intensely that Jessica fisted her hand in Nick’s hair. She never thought that she would ever want as much as she did at that moment, and she never thought that the man inside her of at the moment would make that happen. She thought this was only supposed to happen in her marriage bed. Obviously, she was wrong.

He murmured her name against her lips; a breathy request for depth had him bringing her hips up so he could appease her. Desire arrowed through her again. She wanted it faster. He complied. The ache strengthened until she could no longer bear it. It got white behind her eyelids, and somewhere she could hear herself sobbing out Nick’s name. Nick shuddered as he too felt that same eruption of pleasure. And Jessica thought of Josh no more because for a few moments, she could no longer think of anything other than the man she had just slept with.

* * *

Meanwhile, some miles away, Aidan watched as Claudia-Michelle looked up into space with a worried look in her eye. She was at James’s home studio. She had been there for most of the day, working out a track that Jessica was going to sing. She tapped the pen idly on the paper for a few moments and Max, Heath, and Danny played on their instruments and chattered over the serenity in the corner of the room. James and Izzy were at the console, working out a beat. Aidan reached out and placed his hand on hers. Her grim deep aqua eyes focused on him.

“What’s bothering you, my love?” he asked.

Claudia-Michelle didn’t smile at my love. Instead, she frowned, which told Aidan that she was worried about something. Very worried.

“Nick,” she responded. When Aidan’s eyebrows drew together, she added, “And Jessica.”

“What about them?”

She shook her head, her raven curls shifting back and forth imperceptibly. “We shouldn’t have left them alone.”

It took Aidan a moment to realize what she meant. Danny laughed loudly at something but it didn’t penetrate the solemn bubble around him and Claudia-Michelle. He stared at Claudia-Michelle for a long moment. Claudia-Michelle looked down at her hands as if she were guilty of something. Exhaling, Aidan shifted closer to her and took her hands in both of his. He brushed his lips across her forehead and hoped that it would reassure her.

“It’s not your fault, love,” Aidan murmured.

“Maybe not,” Claudia-Michelle contended. “But I could have stopped it.”

Go
Claudia-Michelle Thomas, Aidan Bloom, James Sharp, Heath Mallone, Max Harris, Daniel Holmes*

Truthfully, it’s so clear to me the day what we met
Both stuck in the mire of our lives and we had to get away, oh away
You came to me like a midsummer night’s dream
Taking my hand to lead me away from here
And baby you didn’t have to give a reason because

You had me at go (you didn’t have to beg me)
No more words to convince me
You had me at go (You didn’t have to get on your knees)
No pretty pictures to paint for me
No slogans or false advertising
Let’s just keep it straight
You had me at go

Honestly, I can’t even perceive the moment we part
When you walk away and leave me to be alone—never, oh never
You love me like an angel from the highest cloud
Showing me what affection really means
And you don’t have to explain how because

You had me at go (you didn’t to flatter me)
No more words to convince me
You had me at go (You didn’t have to say please)
No romance novel interpretations
Or yearning demonstrations
Let’s just keep it straight
You had me at go

Oh, oh, did you know?
You had me at go
Ooh
Did you know that wherever you walk I will follow?
Because you had me at go
You had me at go
Had me at go

You didn’t have to beg me
You didn’t have to get down on your knees
You didn’t have to say please
You didn’t have to flatter me
Because you had me at go

Ooh, ooh
You had me at go
Ooh, ooh
You had me at go (Repeat till fade out)

back homenext

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