It was the stuff he said to me…the things he called me.
I remember what she’s lived through, what events led her to my doorstep, literally, and I decide we’ve done enough for tonight.
“Jack?” she asks, tilting her head to the side, studying me.
“Are we gonna keep going?”
I smile and shake my head. “Not tonight. Not because I don’t want to—I do—I just don’t see the point in rushing things.”
She furrows her brows. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. You want to watch another movie? I just need to rinse off really quick.”
She laughs. “You think I’m capable of hanging out with you right now? I feel like I need to go smoke a cigarette, and I’ve never so much as even tried one.”
I laugh. “Do you want to stay the night?”
“Like in your guest room?”
“I was thinking my bed.”
Her eyes widen like that’s a crazy idea.
“I think I want to be in my own bed tonight.”
I take the hint.
“C’mon, why don’t I walk you home?”
Her smile lights up her whole face. “I think I can manage fifty feet.”
She accepts my outstretched elbow and I lead the way outside.
“This is weird,” she announces.
“Yeah, kind of.”
She slices her gaze up to me. “Just so we’re on the same page, are we going to wake up tomorrow and pretend like this never happened or are we going to be cool about it and just reference it as the one time you went down on me against the front door?”
“Maybe somewhere in between?”
She laughs and tugs open the door to the shack.
We stand there looking at each other for a few long seconds. There’s not a proper send-off for this. A hug, a kiss, a handshake—they all feel wrong. She takes matters into her own hands, tips up on her toes, and plants a kiss right on my cheek before disappearing inside.
I’m left standing there for a few seconds before I shake my head and turn back for the farmhouse.
I don’t remember the last time I had such a hard time falling asleep. I lie awake in bed with a nervous tension in the pit of my stomach I haven’t felt since childhood. It reminds me of how I used to feel on Christmas Eve, jittery and excited, anxious for the next day to come. It keeps me awake half the night. It makes me regret not insisting Meredith sleep here with me. I want to know how she’s feeling. I want to know if she’s currently packing up everything she owns and hitchhiking out of town. I want to know when exactly I let my guard down enough to fall in love.
The morning after the whole JACK IS PULLING DOWN MY PANTIES AND I AM GOING TO HAVE AN HONEST-TO-GOD ORGASM AGAINST THIS DOOR episode, I wake up early and life continues—and you’re not going to believe this—normally. I’m surprised by how easy it is to be in the same room as him. When I walk into the farmhouse to make breakfast, Jack greets me with a warm smile and a tip of his head, and I don’t even think for one second how he was face to face with my vagina just hours ago, not even once. It’s called maturity—you’ll find it defined in big books called dictionaries.
I walk to the pantry to retrieve pancake supplies with a confident, shoulders-back stride, and I blink, blink, blink the sleep out of my eyes. There’s more of it than usual this morning because I only managed about half of one minute of deep sleep last night. The rest of the eight hours was spent vigorously tossing and turning while simultaneously playing out every possible outcome for this morning in excruciating detail.
Fortunately, we seem to be living out outcome #145, in which I am still hopelessly infatuated with him and he is still seemingly into me. It’s the best possible scenario—well, other than outcome #509, in which Andrew gets hits by a bus, Jack is in love with me, oh, and I have a new job with 100% fewer toilets to scrub.
I’m not complaining though. This is amazing. Part of me wasn’t sure how he’d react to my presence in the kitchen this morning. Last night was a lot…like, I orgasmed literally before his very eyes. If that’s not intimacy, I don’t know what is. This morning, he could regret his actions. He could ask me to hand in my resignation, turn in my rubber cleaning gloves, and, in true Texas fashion, “get tuh goin’”.
Instead, he leans against my shoulder while I pour pancake batter onto a hot skillet.
“How are you this morning?”
I blush so hot he gets a sunburn.
“Oh, yeah. Shit.” I accidentally over-pour and create one colossal pancake that covers the entire skillet. “Yup. I’m good.”
“I’ll take it—you know I like the big ones,” he says before he catches my eye and winks.
And it’s not one of those lecherous man-in-power winks; it’s a teasing quick one. Men who have callused hands and know how to fix a truck radiator should have to have a special license before going around winking at women.
“What are you two whispering about over there?” Edith demands.
I jump a mile in the air. “Edith! Where’d you come from?!”
She’s sipping coffee at the table. “I’ve been here since you walked in.”
I didn’t even see her—that’s how focused in on Jack I am. I walked right past Edith like she was a marble statue.
I laugh and sweat. “Ha ha ha, of course. You’re just looking so thin from all the yoga. Want a pancake?”
She eyes my skillet over the brim of her reading glasses, lips tugged in a thin, disapproving line. “Not if it’s gonna be like that.”
“I’ll make you a better one.”
She’s skeptical of my weirdness. I need to tone it down, but I’m scared she knows what we did in this house last night. I’m scared Alfred has ratted us out. He probably didn’t even need to. Hell, my butt cheeks probably left sweat marks on the door. I make a mental note to check just as soon as I finish with breakfast.
“Jack, what do you have goin’ on today?” Edith asks as he goes over to fill her coffee. He usually doesn’t wait on her like that, but I think he’s trying to throw her off our scent.
“Working for a good part of it. Might take you and Meredith into town later for dinner if y’all are up for it.”
A DATE WITH HIS GRANDMA! That’s basically skipping straight to meeting the family.
“That’d be fine, but it better not be someplace cheap,” Edith says. “If I’m fixing myself up nice, I want a steak.”
He agrees and turns to me, brow arched. “Meredith, you free?”
I stare into his brown eyes for so long I burn his pancake. Then, I carry it out back and toss it in the trash so it doesn’t stink up the kitchen.
“What’s with you today?” Edith asks when I walk back inside. “Do you have the flu? You look pale and red at the same time.”
I don’t even think that question merits a response, but I give her one anyway. “No, Edith, I don’t have the flu, but I’ll go take my temperature just in case. Yes, Jack, dinner would be fine, provided I don’t have the flu—which I don’t. Now will you two stop distracting me so I can actually make some decent pancakes?”
Jack holds up his hands in deference and says he’ll be out back throwing the ball for Alfred. Really, he’s just trying to get away from Edith. He knows if we’re together in a room with her long enough, she’ll catch on to us. She’s like a wily detective, good cop, bad cop, and grandma all wrapped up in one.
You’d think I wouldn’t be one for keeping secrets. Secrets, secrets are no fun unless you tell everyone—yada yada. Whoever came up with that catchy little rhyme clearly never engaged in a sexy secret affair, because guess what? Keeping this secret from Edith is fun as shit, like when I take some coffee up to Jack’s office later in the afternoon and just as I turn to leave, he catches hold of my elbow and pulls me down on his lap. The door is open. We could get caught. Edith could swat us in the heads with a rolled-up newspaper.
“How are you feeling about last night?”