Dainty fingers flicked at her blouse, the clips snapping into place as she buttoned the fabric over her chest. With one last once over, she emerged from her bedroom. Walking down the stairs slowly, only for her gaze to immediately fall on Jackson.
Her eyes narrowed in distaste, watching with mild disgust as he lounged all over her couch, again. He was consuming a bowl of cheerios at the coffee table, his gaze fixed on the television screen as he scooped up the little tan loops. He seemed bored as he flipped through the channels, moving from the news, to cartoons with the same disinterested expression. All he ever seemed to do was watch TV though, or listen to music on his phone.
She couldn't help but wonder if he was putting in any applications at all.
Tossing her locks over her shoulder, she toed on her bright red heels and smoothed out her black pencil skirt one last time.
"You leaving for the day?" Jackson asked.
Glancing up, she was unsure how he noticed her leaving when his eyes still hadn't left the screen.
Plucking her purse from the wooden coat rack, Kaitlyn hummed. "Yup, I have to since some people actually have to work during the day." She quipped, pleasantly as her lipstick was smoothed gently over her lips one more time for good measure. She wanted it to stay during her shift.
"Ha-ha, did it take you long to think of that one, princess?"
"Nope, insulting you comes naturally." She replied easily enough, the smile sprouting across her face without her consent. She didn't want to admit--especially not to him--but he had begun to grow on her. Their banter was easy to fall into.
But as she went to grip the doorknob, she heard a clang. Glancing back over her shoulder, she was surprised by the intense way he was staring at her.
The smile fell from her lips.
Did she actually offend him this time?
Her brows furrowed, and her fingers fell away from the door.
His stare didn't cease. But then, he suddenly grinned mischievously. "Just for that little comment, I'm going to eat all your snacks in the cupboard."
The ease settled back into her system instantly.
"Those snacks aren't mine." She smiled.
Jackson huffed. "That's fine, YOU can still explain to Randy why his snacks have been pillaged." He paused, before looking her over slowly.
His gaze made her self conscious, and she resisted the urge to suddenly check her blouse for the fifth time that morning.
"Is something wrong?" The question came out softer than she intended, but Jackson just hummed.
"What exactly do you do for a living anyway? Looks fancy."
Oh. He wanted to know her profession.
She tucked her hair behind her ear. "I'm an advisor for parents and the lead HR representative for the university. I basically help with appointments and such, messed up applications and the likes."
Jackson scoffed, "so you babysit adults, that's pretty lame."
She frowned. Ignoring the urge to be offended, Kaitlyn shot back with a huff, "Oh? And what is your career? Failing at being a practitioner?" She knew it was a low blow, even before she said it. But Jackson only sat up fully, eyes lazy and languid as his gaze bored into her.
"Hm, nice guess.. but no. Like your beloved Randy, research is my focus. I love figuring out how something works, what makes it tick."
She felt her breath hitch, curious and unsure what to think as his stare didn't break. So, she broke it instead. Clearing her throat, Kaitlyn shuffled toward the door.
"Well, I hope you have a good day while I'm gone. Try not to burn down the house or anything please." The parting was a quiet mumble as she all but scurried out the door without hearing his reply.
Something about Jackson was... so bothersome to her. She couldn't decide if it was his penetrating gaze, sarcastic comments, or how amiable he could be when he wanted to be.
But whatever it was, it had her hugging her arms around herself before she started her car and headed to work.
Opening the door with glee, she called out with a chirp, "I'm home!"
The front door shut with a small squeak of wood, but that was the only sound that greeted her. No callbacks, no noise.
She glanced at the grand clock on the wall, and the sharp time of 6:00 stared back at her. Surprise formed and she looked around, frowning.
Where was Randy and Jackson?
As she kicked off her shoes, she checked her phone for any missed messages. A little surprised when she saw she did have a little notification sitting in the corner.
Clicking on it, Kaitlyn felt her lips pull down as she read the content.
'Not going to be home till late, eat without me. I'm going to eat at work. Love, Randy.'
Her fingers tightened around her phone, but she could only slowly shake her head as she dropped it humorously back into her purse.
"Oh well..." she sighed softly. Looking around as she realized that didn't explain Jackson's absence. Not that he needed to report to her, but it wasn't like he could message her even if he wanted to let her know... he didn't have her number.
Wandering to the dining table, she was surprised to see a little pink note sitting there. She plucked it up, curious. It was situated neatly by her journal, where she normally kept it.
'Hey, I'll be home a little later than normal, princess. Following up on some of my applications. Check out what I did for you in the mean time.'
It was signed with a simple chicken scratch signature, but she could make out the barely legible name as Jackson.
Curiously, she looked around. Trying to pinpoint the raven's surprise. But she saw nothing. A short walk to the kitchen yielded nothing either.
"Huh..." she breathed, before looking back at her journal. Maybe...
She reached down, and flipped it open to a random page. What she saw made her eyes grow in size. Tons of little sticky notes littered the pages. Marks of different discounts and venues, filed neatly by her places of interest.
It took her breath away.
He really took all the time to...
Kaitlyn's chest felt unbearably warm.
She didn't even have time to gather her bearings before the door opened behind her. The click making her whip her head to the side.
He was standing there, looking exhausted.
But her mouth all but split into a grin.
"Jackson!" He barely had time to look up before her head was bounding into his chest, her arms wrapping around him tightly as she gave him a brief, but firm hug.
She couldn't see his face, but she heard him sputter at the contact. "Wow, hey!! What's gotten into you?"
Sending him a mega watt smile, Kaitlyn pulled away. "Sorry, I just.. thank you so much!"
Comprehension dawned on his features.
"Oh, the planner. It's no problem, I thought it'd help you guys out so..."
"Still!" She cut him off swiftly, she felt like a giddy little girl. "You didn't have to. And I appreciate it... so much. Honestly, I feel like maybe my costs are what's keeping him from finally setting a date.. but with this... maybe we'll finally move forward. Everything is here, the costs for the ceremony, the reception, even a honeymoon. Unless he comes up with something else... this'll be it. Finally."
The praise was well deserved but Jackson just simply made his way to the couch, with a smirk. "It was nothing, just happy to help princess."
It was the first time she could understand why Randy liked Jackson so much. There was so much more than met the eye when it came to him.
Kaitlyn smiled--but it was only when Jackson sat down with a loud sigh and began muttering about his feet aching, did she notice his attire.
Gone were his usual blue jeans in exchange for slacks, and he had a buttoned down blazer that showed off his collarbone with a loose silk tie. Her intrigued eyes followed the line of his broad shoulders, following his exposed collarbone to his Adam's apple. The jester only made the contrast more sharper across his flesh.
He wasn't wrong, he really could dress with the best of them.
Suddenly that apple bobbed, the sound of his throat clearing piercing the air. "See something you like?"
"W-what? No, I was just-you had a, um, stain on your--" Kaitlyn positivley fumbled.
Jackson had the nerve to laugh from his seat, watching her from hooded eyes. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone you had a peek. One checkout won't kill anyone."
Feeling her face becoming warm, Kaitlyn quickly averted her eyes. She set down the journal with a sound thud and made her way to the kitchen. Instead of replying, she let her fingers fall to the necklace latched firmly over her neck. It was a simple pink heart, with the engraving of 'R x K'. It was gift from her eighteenth birthday, and it immediately soothed her.
Jackson may have been pretty, and honestly even charming but he would never be Randy. That man had her future, her heart and everything she was. Her fingers fell away from the gem with a sense of purpose as she composed herself.
Pausing in the door to the kitchen as she glanced out at him. He was looking at her.
"So... back to my fiance..." she started, hoping her reply to his statement was obvious.
He seemed to get the hint and simply nodded, grinning. "Don't worry, I didn't forget about dear ol' Randy. I didn't give you all those notes for no reason." He gave her a look, before flopping over side ways on the couch. "But since we're discussing it and all, I have to ask why you put up with all these delays. What's really going on?" He raised a brow. "I can't express how intrigued I am in that line you said, 'unless he comes up with something else'..."
Oh. She had said that. Clearing her throat, she narrowed her eyes at him. "You're just going to have to stay curious then. Now..." taking one step into the kitchen, she called out. "Is there anything you'd like for dinner? It's just us tonight."
"Something saucy!" He called.
And with the subject successfully dropped, Kaitlyn gave a chirp. "Spaghetti it is then!"
Because she was in the other room, she would never see the soft look Jackson gave in her direction.
Today was the big day, the day she got to see Randy for more than just a couple hours in the morning.Tugging the fluffy bristles of her brush through her red locks, Kaitlyn all but twirled in front of the large mirror standing tall in the bedroom. She was adorning a slick mermaid style dress, the gray and black buttons accentuating her curves as they traversed down the sides of her hips. She felt pretty and comfortable in her shoes as she slipped on flats instead of her usual heels.Today was their annual office party, and as Randy's future spouse, she always showed up to support his endeavors.This year would be no different.Her pink lips upturned into a smile, just as the bedroom door creaked open."Hi." She breathed, perking up as Randy entered the room. She waited to hear what he'd say about her attire. A soft blush painting her face as she twirled the edges of her hair around her freshly painted nails--a glossy
"I can't do this anymore."The words are piercing, loud amongst the quiet and watching walls of their bedroom. And Randy pauses by the door. She isn't sure where it came from, or why it was bubbling up inside her now.But as the frustrations fell from her lips like boiling water, she couldn't stop."I'm sick of you treating me like this, Randy!"Not even as Randy peered at her from over his shoulders, his usually chocolate ambers clouded with anger. He cocked his brow at her, and when he turned to face her, the nonchalance on his face only fueled her anger."Treating you like what? Like my future wife? Sorry I'm not home as much as you'd like and I'm busy trying to build a future for us."The scathing reply made her falter, for only a moment, before she shook her head.No, not this time.She would say her piece."No. That'
The bags under her eyes left her feeling ragged. Bringing her fingertips up to her face, she rested them there, against the darkened flesh. Patting away a dollop of concealer as she hid her sleepless night away from the prying eyes of her office.Every time she went to close her eyes, she saw Randy. She couldn't stop remembering the look on his face when he pushed her away, the anger on his face as recoiled away into the vase.That desperate to get away from her.Where had the love in his eyes gone? When had they stopped being so gentle?The hollow feeling in her chest was consuming. And as she checked for phone for the hundredth time, she could only stare in silence.He hadn't returned any of her texts or calls in the last 24 hours. Randy had never even texted her to assure her that he had arrived safely to...wherever he went. She was sure he thought she was ungrateful and couldn't
Kailtyn all but gawked at the restaurant ahead, her eyes darting around as she tried to hide her face from view behind Jackson's towering shoulder. She felt self-conscious as they weaved through the crowd, the click of her heels loud amongst the sidewalk. She was overly in tune with the glances spared at them. As if they knew the person leading her by the hand wasn't her fiancé. She knew it was ridiculous, and she had already told Jackson twice that she wouldn't run away if he let go of her hand. She had even pointed out that she hadn't tried to jump out of his car on the drive over to try and sway him. But to no avail. His grip had stayed firm. The proximity made her blush as she swallowed down her trepidation with a slow blink, the slope of his arm so close, she could almost brush her lashes against it. It made her nervous. It also felt ... <
The thrum of alcohol scorched her throat, the liquid a smooth burn that her taste buds couldn't decide if they liked or not.But as the crystal clear liquid was slid at her in the form of another shot glass, Kaitlyn noted that the room was a bit warmer than she recalled. The glossy hue on her cheeks reflected back at her from the adjacent mirror on the wall.She felt giddy. Nerves alive as her leg bounced happily against the booth she resided in."We should do this more often." She giggled out, her hands reaching out to steal a scoop of goopey cheese off his plate.Jackson snickered, his own lime green shot glass being pressed against his lips as he gave her a smirk. "See, I told you that you should live a little."The crunch of the chip all but made her moan as the cheese, for some reason, tasted way better than earlier. It was if everything was just a little more satisfying. And as her g
"Jackson! Is this where you ran off to hide?"Kaitlyn watched, perplexed, as the girl with bouncy chocolate locks all but skipped over to Jackson. The brunette’s small hands falling on his shoulders as she wrapped around him in a hug. The atmosphere was intimate, a closeness that Kaitlyn couldn't quite place.Taking a small sip of water, Kaitlyn ignored the weirdest hint of irritation she felt at the close contact between them.Her lashes narrowing as she noted that Jackson sure was chummy with women.It was a weird feeling, one she hadn't been expecting.Frowning, she set down her water bottle with a small thud.“Jeez, it’s been way too long. I’ve missed my other half.”Kaitlyn didn't have time to reflect on her words, surprised when those wide eyes went her way instead. The blonde from earlier followed her, his smile significantly more tense than the woman’s. But maybe it was just her im
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed. Between the conversations, the drinks, and the dancing; All Kaitlyn knew was that she felt more alive than she had in years. The dynamic of Jackson with his friends, so special and intriguing, that Kaitlyn felt like she had just opened a secret treasure, only for her eyes to see. The way he talked to them, so open and gentle. It reminded her of how it had been when Joshua still hung around her and Randy. The open teasing, the love that just was always there… She didn’t know Jackson could have something so… similar, if not better. Hannah and Spencer, those two seemed like they’d die for him. Joshua, her and Randy had been the same, the three of them inseparable. Well, until Randy became obsessed with his work… Joshua had all but vanished too. Pink lips pulled between her teeth, and Kaitlyn’s red hair became entangled around her fingers. She wondered if maybe she could befriend Jackson’s friends too. She
Chapter 12: The Aftermath She knew they needed to talk about it. And as her leg bounced with nerves, she found herself unable to leave her room. Anxious and full of trepidation as she stared ahead of her at her innocent bedroom door. It was the bedroom door she had shared with Randy for so long, that the events from last night almost made her sick to her stomach. Jackson's breath on her ear, the way he had tangled his fingers in her locks. It was like a tender secret. And it broke her heart. "How could I have let anyone... get so close to me." Kaitlyn's face fell into her hands as she sank onto her bed. Hating how her skin felt hot to the touch on her palms. While she hadn't technically done anything, it was close enough to make her feel like she betrayed Randy. The thought of him even holding another woman the way she let Jackson