She was just staring at him like she wanted him to say something. Like he was obligated, after all of this, to say something. Honestly there wasn’t anything to say, the words were caught in his chest and his mind was a complicated mess of incoherence. And still she had every nerve to lay propped there, emerald eyes tearing into him like he was still the reason she breathed. She was actually pleading with him to part those lips that he had just used to kiss her and say something about the breaking of his heart. This wasn’t happening. It couldn’t be happening.
Jared turned away from her, wiping his hand over his face and running his fingers back through his hair. There was a sinking feeling of devastation eclipsing inside of him. This always happened. It was one of the reasons he kept his wounded heart under lock and key. There was a difference between sharing a bed with a woman, sleeping with her and not having to wake up to her every day of his life. There was certainly something completely different regarding that and opening himself up to someone so easily as if it were meant to be. He’d been stupid. All over again. And yet somehow he wasn’t the one to blame.
He wasn’t even supposed be to be hurt by this. Why should he be? He didn’t know her, he had just met her the night before. Walking away should be easy. He could make this a one night stand, could simply get dressed, leave the letter laying there on the ground and act like none of this had even affected him at all. He was sure he could do it. Was sure that somewhere inside of himself he would be able to get over it. He’d done it before, hadn’t he?
But when he turned back around she was standing there in front of him. Her green eyes were glistening in the lack of light, his shirt was pulled on over her body, her hair was bed mussed. She was a delicate, wilting mess and he wanted nothing more than to lean down t her and take her up in his arms. Why couldn’t he? What was preventing him from following what he wanted? He always took what he wanted. If he wanted something like hell something was going to stand in his way of getting it.
It was the letter. Those printed words that made all of this, this whole night void. None of it mattered because of the letter that laid on the ground between them. Why had she bothered to write it? Why hadn’t she just toyed with him and left everything else to the imagination? This was sick, this kind of intended hurt. Had she intended for him to be so ripped apart by it? Of course she hadn’t. Who would have known that he would be such a wreck over someone he had only just met?
She leaned down, pushing her red strands behind her ears as she knelt down to pick the letter up in her small hands. Slowly she stood again, fingers delicately holding it as if it were something fragile, something not supposed to be touched- not by him anyway. She didn’t look at him for the longest time, eyes simply looking over the words. Those were tears beginning to form in her eyes, that was a quiver to her lips and just the sight of it made his heart begin to ache. He was causing this…no she had caused it herself.
Finally the paper lowered and she brought her eyes to his. For the longest moment she stood there, staring up at him. She always seemed so entirely transfixed whenever she looked into his eyes. It was like she was reading something there. Something he was unknowingly showing to her. He hated the idea suddenly of her looking inside of him. She couldn’t. He refused to believe that she could. So what gave her the right to look so closely at him? Nothing. They hadn’t shared a thing except a night of sex. What did that mean? He’d done it with a lot of women before.
Funny how easy lies were to accept.
"I was going to leave." She softly said, her fingers absentmindedly working on the paper to get it folded up. She kept her eyes on his as if she were afraid to look away. Afraid that maybe he was going to up and vanish. God how he wanted to in that moment. "I knew you were going to come back. And so after last night….I was just going to leave. I didn’t expect this, Jared. I didn’t. I swear." Her voice was cracking and becoming teary. She was literally wilting in front of him, delicate petals nothing but fallen leaves scarred with the remnants of her emotions.
"Of course you knew I was going to come back." He stated, his voice much harsher than he had initially thought it would be. "Of course you knew." He reached out and ripped the letter from her hands, opening it back up again. "You were told to do this. Who else knew? Who else knew that I was such a sorry bastard that I would fall for this." He shook his head and started to rip it up. Those lines dotted along with such a delicate handwriting. The pieces fluttered to the floor and with it went his ability to stand there and get lost in her. No things were different now, so entirely different.
She sucked in a breath and lowered her eyes, arms going across her chest. She had expected this. Of course she had. She hadn’t wanted to be in the same room as him when he read it It wasn’t the worst thing in the world. It wasn’t like she had toyed with him for years, was it? This should be easy for him to walk away from.”Your brother, your friends…Jared they’re-“
He held his hand up and shook his head. “They’re what? Worried about me? Why? Because I don’t have a someone in my bed to screw every night?’ He questioned harshly. The thoughts flashed in his head. Did they really think that after everything they were going to be able to tell the difference in his life because there was a woman with him? He worked, hard too, for everything he had. He wondered back to his conversation with Shannon, his ease with which he took the story. So this whole time he had known. Everyone was keeping secrets and he suddenly felt very left out.
She shook her head at that and her eyes saddened. So she knew. So they had told her. He hung his head and stepped back from her, pushing back his hair and letting out a steadied breath. “Look, I’m fine now. Really. Everything that happened before is in the past. Nothing’s going on like that anymore.” He shrugged his shoulders and lowered his eyes. He wanted to hide suddenly, wanted t drift into the New York Winter and fade away like any ghost would. He wanted to disappear beneath her emerald gaze. He was exposed and that feared him, that echoed absolute fear into him. No one could look that deep, no one could know.
"Jared…" She whispered, her hand boldly reaching out and resting on his arm. She was looking at him like she was worried. What did she have to be worried about? "They said it’s been such a long time for you, since you’ve been with anyone…." She let out a small breath, unable to meet his gaze just then. A burden was on her shoulders. "….they said I look like her before…before everything."
Rather quickly he lifted his eyes, ready to tear into her for even mentioning it but he knew it was true. He could see every similarity. Not everything was the same but it was there. That same stare, those long red strands of hair, that perfume….the solace. God it’d all been a lie, a mirage of the past. He was pathetic, so damned pathetic. He had fallen so easily into a relic that he hadn’t seen the clues that were all there. She had known him, not as the famous celebrity, but as the man. She had known the way he was. Why hadn’t he seen it before?
"How much?" He whispered, moving his arm from her and tucking back a fallen strand of his hair behind his ear. "How much did they pay you? For how long was this supposed to go on?"
"Fifty…fifty thousand." She stated, eyes lowered to the creaky and old floorboards. "And only until after Christmas….after you see…"
"My mom." He scoffed and shook his head, hand limply resting on his hip as he looked around the room. "Yeah she’s been in a real hole since it all happened." He could feel the tears coming, the strain of everything falling on him all over again. He could see his mom, could hear everything happening as if he were living it again and again. Didn’t he ever have a break. "So you were supposed to play house until I convinced my mom that her son wasn’t going to be alone his whole life? That it? Easy job, I bet." He grinned with as much sarcasm as he could muster before he shook his head and turned back to her. "Where do you really live?" He questioned.
"In the city." She replied simply. "With my husband. And my daughter."
He stared at her, a long breath escaping his lips as he nodded. “Happy family.” He smiled a little through the blur of tears before he turned away from her, letting the pearls cascade down his cheeks. God he felt ridiculous. Like a played child. Was that what they really thought of him?
"But Jared…." She whispered, hand resting on the skin of his back. He tensed and she felt everything inside of her fall apart. Still she kept her hand there, not wanting to move away from him. "…it was real…everything I said. It was real."
He only shrugged her off, shaking his head before he reached down to grab his coat. He didn’t even ask for his shirt back he simply pulled on his coat and laced up his boots before looking into her eyes. “I don’t believe anything anymore.” He stated with a shake of his head. “But thank you. Thank you for telling me the truth.”
He made to walk away but her footsteps following him stopped him. Sighing he turned around to face her, one hand buried in his pocket, the other on the knob of the door. “What?”
"What about your mom?" She asked, her eyes rimmed with her glistening tears.
"She’ll live." He muttered before pulling open the door and heading out, walking down the stairs with a halted step. He didn’t want to go. It was easy to forget all of this if he could just rush back into her arms and feel her engulf him. That sweet memory would return to chase away the melancholic state of his soul. But he couldn’t sink back, could he? He wouldn’t allow himself to. It wasn’t real, none of it. And he had nothing left but the emptiness he had before he met her and the aimlessness that he would have to face all over again in the morning.