“I’m nervous.” She said, not sure if she sounded ridiculous just then.
“Don’t be. Especially not with them.” He looked at her assuredly, making to unlock the door.
She didn’t move, her hands fidgeted in her lap and her insecurity suddenly got the best of her. She had never really been a part of something before, never had been involved in anything. When he had asked her to come and she had agreed she had been nearly ecstatic. Even as she got dressed at home she had been the happiest she had been in a long while but now it all came crashing down. She was scared what kind of impression she would make on all these people. People who were Jared’s friends. She could only hope that in some way they were kind of like he was.
Noticing that she hadn’t moved he turned to look at her. “Rowan, come on, everything will be fine.” He reached his hand out and placed it gently over hers. “I promise.” He nearly whispered causing her gaze to meet his. He gave a small smile that lit up the look of misery he had been carrying since she had met him.
She lowered her eyes to his hand placed over hers and suddenly felt a sense of comfort wash through her. She didn’t feel alone when she was near him and she loved that, loved how it seemed like he knew her even if he really didn’t.
“You coming?” He softly asked, lowering his head a little to catch her eyes. He gave her another assuring smile when she finally looked at him.
“Yes.” She replied, feeling a bit of a flutter in her heart when he lightly squeezed her hand.
She waited for him to get out before she did. He dropped his keys into his pants pocket and wrapped his arm around her shoulders.She sank against him comfortably, his scent strong, and his warmth settling around her. She glanced up at him, studied the scruff on his face, the remnants of a smile on his lips and the way the sun glinted perfectly in his blue eyes.
They didn’t go in through the front instead they took a detour through the side of the house and found themselves in the back yard. There was plenty of talking, the smell of food, and splashing water. Jared gave her one more look before he led the way in first, letting her go and facing everyone that was there.
Rowan looked around as he spoke to a few people, trying to skirt around the question as to what had happened to him. She recognized several faces but of course she knew no one. Shannon was there and he was who approached them now.
“You brought her!” Shannon declared breaking Jared’s conversation and taking Rowan into an embrace. Rowan laughed a little but returned the hug. “Thank you…” She heard him privately say into her ear, his worry obviously eased a little.
She gave him a small smile and a nod before he went to talk to his brother. The house was amazing, again much different than anything she had ever lived in before. She wondered then how she was here, what she had done to be suddenly a part of a life she had never expected.
Shannon said something about stealing Jared away for a moment before they both went inside the house. Rowan looked after them and then went to quietly sit down. She wasn’t sure what to do, feeling a little out of place until she heard a group of girls come to sit down beside her.
“You must be Rowan.” One of the girls said. “I’m Annabelle.” She held out her hand and Rowan immediately took it. “Shannon told us about you…” The other two girls nodded in agreement.
“Did he?” She asked, tucking her hair behind her ear.
“Says you’re taking care of Jared…”
“Not really taking care of him…”
Annabelle nodded and then a silence fell around them. Rowan wasn’t sure what to say or if she should even start talking again. She folded her hands together and looked out at the people in the pool. She nearly smiled at how everyone seemed to be having a good time and she wondered if all of it was genuine.
“You must be wondering what happened to him?” One of the other girls said, her eyes were wide and an interested look was on her face.
Rowan didn’t answer she only looked to the woman and contemplated what she should reply. She wanted to know but she also wanted to know from him. She wasn’t sure if she was entitled to such information yet or if she ever would be. But still she kept her eyes on the woman.
“A couple of months ago Jared surprised everyone and got married. He had only been seeing the girl for two and half months but that didn’t matter to him I suppose. He gathered everyone together and had a party to announce that they had eloped. Soon after they went to Italy for their honeymoon…”
Rowan swallowed harshly as she waited for something else to be said.
“…He came back only a short while ago but she wasn’t with him. Everyone asked after her, even Shannon but he wouldn’t say. He just retreated into himself and today has been the first day he’s actually come out of ‘hiding’ for anything other than work.” Her voice was sad almost teary.
“So you see how we think you’re taking care of him? You must be doing something right if you got him to come out here.” Annabelle smiled a little and it became obvious that everyone had been concerned over him.
Rowan didn’t say anything, she only turned her gaze away and looked into the house. He was there through the glass doors standing beside Shannon looking at something on a computer. As if he had sensed her eyes on him he turned to catch her gaze. At first his eyes were soft as they watched her, a small smile forming on his lips but then he caught sight of the three girls sitting near him. His expression changed, not only to worry but also to a harshness that could be seen as anger. He muttered something to Shannon before making his way to the door. Rowan quickly rose to her feet and met him halfway. He didn’t say anything, he only took hold of her arm and made her to walk with him back towards the driveway. She winced at his grip, her cuts beneath the sleeve of her shirt suffering beneath it.
“Jared you’re hurting me.” She softly cried out.
“What did they tell you?” He demanded, stopping in front of his car and looking down into her eyes with a harsh stare.
She felt a bit of fear fill her as she drew her bottom lip into her mouth. He let go of her arm and she softly rubbed at it. She didn’t know whether or not to tell him the truth.
“Damn it what did they tell you?!” He had lowered his voice but it did nothing to ebb the harshness of his tone.
“Nothing Jared!” She couldn’t help the tears that had formed in her eyes or the ones that had fallen from her lashes. “They didn’t tell me anything! They were asking me things!” She wasn’t sure why she lied but she knew that he would have been even more overwrought if she had told him the truth.
He let out a heavy breath and turned away from her, resting back against the side of his car. He pushed his hands forcefully back through his hair and let his eyes close.
“Jared…” She called out softly.
He only shook his head though and pulled the keys from his pocket. “I’m sorry.” He said before he got into his car and almost immediately drove away.
She stood there, looking out after his disappearing car and tried to make sense of what had happened. Everything they had told her didn’t explain anything only gave some sort of insight into the ache that was inside of him. Her heart was breaking though and she tried to hold it all in as she made her way back to the backyard.