Chapter 2:

Kaitlyn was quiet as she descended the steps of her house, her soft pink socks barely making a noise as she peered over the railing.

There he was, silent as ever. Perched on her bright white couch as the raven lounged across it to stare at their T.V, as if he owned it. The sight was a little unsettling and she frowned. It had been three days since he'd shown up to live with her and Randy. And still, she had no idea what to make of him.

She found him annoying, lazy, and entirely too tall. And to make matters worse, she still had no idea how Randy had met such an odd person. She'd known Randy since they were children, growing up in the same posh neighborhood as they played cops and robbers together. She'd even gone to the same university as him in order to keep the strain on their relationship light. She had made up her mind as soon as they began dating in middleschool.

It's how she ended up here, with him, settled down in a new town after Randy had popped the question. She had been apart of his life for as long as she could remember.

So why had he never once mentioned a friend named Jackson? Living together for over six years, it left her just a tad bit curious.

If not nervous.

Kailtyn sighed as she finally appeared into the living room, giving his profile a side stare.

His sharp jawline was resting on his hand as he yawned.

She thought he looked suspicious and she hated the doubt that slipped into her mind. Was he really Randy's friend? He wasn't some stray he picked up, right?

Perhaps she was uppity, but as her gaze trailed over his messy black hair, to the tattoo inked proudly over his neck-- the cackling jester bothered her, Kailtlyn could only assume there was a good reason he was currently unemployed.

But perhaps, that was just her aunt rubbing off on her.

His intense emerald eyes and cocky smile flashed in her mind. The way he held her off the ground during their first meeting... it was embarrassing.

Kaitlyn flustered and quickly she huffed and stomped her way into the kitchen. The raven didn't say anything to her, and as she fell into routine in the kitchen, she began to start the dishes. Her own red brows knitted together as she furiously scrubbed the plate in her hands, the suds building precariously in the sink.

She didn't have the slightest clue on how to interact with Jackson. How was she supposed to entertain or bond with someone she knew nothing about?

When Randy had come home the other night, he had only insisted Jackson was a great person and that everything was fine. Despite her protests and inquiries for just a little more information, she was shutdown with his shrugs and grins.

Sometimes, she wondered when he had stopped taking her seriously.

Kaitlyn paused.

No, no... she was thinking too much of it.

She blew a piece of her bangs out of her eyes, the plate in her hand stockpiling with suds as she washed faster. She was overreacting. Her pink lips pulled down.

"Did that plate do something to piss you off?"

Kaitlyn nearly shrieked, dropping the plate into the soapy, raspberry scented suds. The sound of his laugh grated on her nerves, coloring her cheeks to match her vibrant red hair.

"Do you have to sneak up on me like that?!" Looking over her shoulder, blue met green, "what if I would have broken the dish! And for two, that's not polite at all!"

Jackson seemed to snicker, his pale digits reaching up to tap his chin. "I'm sorry, sweetheart. I wasn't trying to scare you, honest."


Immediately she bristled. What was Randy thinking? Inviting someone like him into their home?

Kaitlyn dropped the sponge she'd been using into the water and pivoted around to face him.

"Don't call me that." She started, her wet hands coming to rest on her hips. She felt the water seeping through to stick to her skin, but she paid it no mind. "I'm definitely not YOUR sweetheart. If you're going to be in our home, you'll respect that I'm spoken for."

Jackson held up his hands, sheepish. "Now, now. I was only hoping we could be friends. Randy is doing me a huge favor." He shoved his hands in the pockets of his dark blue jeans and tilted his head at her. It was unnerving. A thrum beneath her skin as she glanced away.

"I... While I'm not opposed to being friends, friends call each other by their names, last I checked."

"Well, 'last I checked' nicknames were a thing," he countered, his eyes playful. Kaitlyn wasn't having it though.

"Sweetheart is not a nickname!"

"Are you sure?" Jackson asked, while he bent down to look her in the eyes. It made her feel awfully short. Again.  "So... what is it then?"

Crossing her arms, she refused to falter under his stare before muttering, "It's... harassment."

The way his lips twitched, Kaitlyn was certain he was trying not to outright laugh in her face.

But then Jackson coughed, crossing his arms as he leaned on the counter beside her. "I'll give you that one, my apologies, Princess. I meant no disrespect."

She blinked.

"Princess?" She questioned, peering up at him. Her sudden love for the old animated princess' came to life, and it made her stomach do a flip. No one had ever called her that, except Johsua, her and Randy's other childhood friend. And he only said to make fun of her vast love for pink and hatred for any sort of bugs.

Jackson didn't seem annoyed though, and all he did was smirk at her as he shrugged. "You didn't like sweetheart, so now you're princess. I used to call my old cat that too, so you can't claim it's harassment."

Kaitlyn felt her mouth twitch, but she refused to smile. Instead she gave him a pointed eye roll before turning away from him. "I'm not sure you can put limitations on harassment if it's unwanted... but whatever. Make yourself useful and finish these dishes for me."

He wanted to call her a princess? Well she would be demanding like one.

Glancing at him to see his reaction, she waited with a baited breath.

But his reaction took her off guard. Jackson only gave her a mock bow, those pretty lips curled into a lopsided smile--and he had the audacity to wink. It suited him. Kaitlyn was annoyed by that, too.

"Whatever you say, princess. Your demands shall be met with favor."

Jackson reached into the sink and grabbed the sponge and quickly took over her chore with no resistance. His shoulder almost touching hers as he scrubbed away with a hum.

Unexpected, and she felt awkward as she stood there. Clearing her throat, she excused herself and sidestepped away from his broad shoulders. "Thank you." She breathed. And scurried out of the kitchen.

Too aware of his simple, "not a problem" that followed her out.

Slumping down onto the couch he had occupied not too much earlier, she took a breath. Happy to be away from him and his... quirky mannerisms. She was even more convinced now, that perhaps Randy hardly knew the guy. Would he really have let someone like him into their home otherwise? Or did he just not care?

Shaking her tired features, Kaitlyn peeked at the coffee table, at the papers and books that were scattered across it. Her dainty hands reached out to cusp one onto her lap, reading the title with a sigh. "Everything you need for your wedding!" Stood out at her like an exhausted flame. She had read a multitude of books like this one since the beginning of her engagement to Randy. Picking out numerous items and ideas, just waiting for him to finally agree on a set date. During the first two years, she understood. Finances were a thing, so was timing... but now, they had plenty of money. It just seemed like Randy couldn't make the time.

But how much was the sacrifice for a week... at most?

Pulling her lip between her teeth, she silently gathered the magazine clippings she'd been looking through; yearning coursing through her system. Her finger nails paused, lingering on the image of a beautiful brunette woman. She was dressed to the royals in an enchanting lace and pearl wedding gown that flowed behind her like a river.

It was gorgeous.

And she was... jealous. Jealous of a model who seemed to be able to wear something she still couldn't seem to grasp.

Absently sighing, Kaitlyn tucked it away, back into her building wedding planner. It bothered her that she hadn't had the opportunity to pick out a dress yet. With Randy always pushing back the date, the season for their wedding was always out of grasp. And that had a huge impact on the dress she'd pick.

So... she just never could. It wasn't as though they lived in the tropics... a dress for winter could not hope to be the same for summer.

"You're getting married?"

Kaitlyn tried not to squeak.


Shaking back her surprise, she glared up at Jackson's towering form. Leaning precariously against the side of the couch, those eyes were set directly on her journal. "Has anyone ever told you that you're meddlesome and for two, stop sneaking up on me!" she spat.

Jackson didn't look impressed. "Hold the phone, it's not my fault you don't pay attention to your surroundings.  All I did was walk from one room to the other."

Kaitlyn opened her mouth to argue, but soon realized she had no rebuttal. How could she argue that? Hating being wrong, all she could do was puff her cheeks. 

"... Well walk louder." She sighed before awkwardly placing the rest of the clippings into the journal. "And yes... Randy and I are getting married. He didn't mention it to you?"

That stung a little.

"Can I see that?"

Kaitlyn blinked. Hesitating, as she reached out to hand him the journal slowly. "Um, sure."

She watched silently as he flipped through the pages, unable to read the look on his face.

"He mentioned having someone special," Jackson breathed as he flipped through the the text on the pages, but she was unable to tell what he thought of it. "But I met Randy a few couple years ago. It's possible that you just weren't engaged at that time."

The curiosity from earlier took hold, and Kaitlyn couldn't help but to ask, "when did you meet Randy? He's never talked about you. At least, not to me."

Jackson almost looked offended before he chuckled, "He didn't tell you anything about me, at all? Well, I can't say that's not typical of Randy. Dude can ramble about anything but forget to mention having ties to anyone." He deadpanned.

But honestly, Kaitlyn couldn't have agreed more. Randy was... scatterbrained. Still, she perched up in her seat, patting the spot next to her.

Jackson took it with a plop. "I met Randy three years ago, give or take. I was applying to work at the firm he works at, I wanted to be a research assistant or hell, even a practitioner by that point... but the interview bombed. He tried to help me but he couldn't pull me the job either... despite that, we've been friends since. Can't say I see him all like that though."

Intrigued, she wanted to ask more. Why didn't he get the job? Shocked he was also a psychology degree holder-- but more importantly, she was offended. Curling her lips, she said softly, "We've been engaged for going on six years."

Jackson let out a surprised whistle. She blushed, shame pooling in her round cheeks. "Six years? That's a long ass time. What's the hold up? Can't decide on the table flowers or something, you one of those picky brides, a bridezilla?"

"What?" Kaitlyn objected, "No! I could care less about what our table settings look like! Or the stupid flowers!"

Jackson looked surprised at her reaction, but she could only fist her hands in her lap. "It's... nothing like that. I've just been planning this entire time hoping that Randy would finally set a date with me…but he always says no."

Jackson looked bothered by something, but by what, she didn't know. His handsome face looked tight, a hitch to his brow before he was shaking his head slowly. But the expression was gone as soon as it came. "Huh... doesn't seem like Randy. But, I'm sorry to hear that, princess."

Didn't seem like him? The words left a sour taste in her mouth. But instead of arguing with him, she simply nodded and held out her hand for her journal back.

But Jackson didn't hand it over. His lithe frame turning to her as he easily maneuvered his slender frame to rest his arm on the back of the couch.

She envied how comfortable he was.


She watched as he continued to flip through her book with his other free hand. "Um," she wanted to ask for it back, but he genuinely seemed interested in the contents. It was a huge contrast to Randy, and it left her feeling a little flattered.

So instead, she started a conversation. Curious as she peered at his heavy lashes that stayed focused on the pages. Watching as he picked up the image of the bride from earlier.

Such a strange man.

"So... I never would've guessed you'd be in the same field as Randy. It doesn't bore you?"

Immediately, those bright green eyes were gazing sharply into hers. And she almost regretted asking.

But, he just smiled.

"Actually, quite the opposite, princess. I love reading people like a book." He waved her journal as he spoke, his eyes piercing. "Who doesn't love a good mind game?"

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