He had come here once and had actually been able to remain calm, once a couple of years ago. They'd been alone. His eyes moved to the sofa, the kitchen, eyes held the door to the room that someone else was occupying. He could hear her voice, her sweet laughs, her soft moans, her everything. That was a long time ago though and it would never happen again. This was the present and it was bleak, it was ugly, it was the kind of path no one wanted to walk on.
This present that was filled with hopelessness, a paid woman holding his arm, untrusting eyes looking at his brother, his friends and a lie he was telling his mother. The feeling was indescribable and he hated it, hated the thick taste it left with disgust in his throat. Hated the way it clung to him, hovered over him. This was his life now. An empty shell of the one that he used to live. There was no forever left, there was no life left, there was just him and his loneliness. He couldn't believe he had been stupid enough to think that he could have escaped it.
Finally he got to the room, his mom had told him which one he was staying in, she hadn't told him that they would be staying together. He should have known, the freethinking woman that his mom was, she wouldn't mind they being together the whole week. He sighed heavily, hand hesitating once he stopped walking and was now standing in front of the door. The knob was cold and he didn't want to turn it, didn't want to step inside but Essie lightly nudged him and he turned back to her.
The expression on her face was reassuring. They were going to get through this and they were going to do that together, no matter what. They were going to survive the week and by the end of it they would have both managed to accomplish something, anything at all. He wanted to believe in her reassurance, wanted to look back at her with that reflective glance bu there wasn't anything left for him t show her or to feel because those words were all missing from inside of him. He had none of them left. Besides he couldn't believe anything that she showed him, there wouldn't be a point, she was here for no other reason than to earn the money he had promised. As if the original fifty thousand wasn't enough.
But that look and the fact that his mom was already coming inside prompted him to turn that knob and step inside. Immediately he was met with the gentle smell of soft berries and the gentle Winter breeze from outside. The window was open to keep a soft air coming through and the fireplace was lit against the far end of the room. The bed was made up, large, heavy oak and rather warm looking blankets. The closet was empty and opened and the bathroom was located adjacently. It was the perfect room, one that he could just hole himself away in but Essie was here and there wouldn't be any of that.
"It's beautiful." Essie softly said, her voice leveled with amazement as she looked around. She tucked her hair back behind her ears having finally let go of his arm as she stepped to the middle of the room. She just kept looking around as if she was going to find something new to look at if she just kept looking. Jared found her adorable just then, the look on her face, She wasn't used to this kind of life and a part of him gloated in that idea, that he was giving it to her and not some husband that she had tucked away at home.
"Not anything like it in Brooklyn huh?" He said with a small chuckle as he slipped out of his coat and laid it out on the bed. He sat down on the edge for a moment, watching the flames licking the black wall behind them. They engulfed everything, leaving nothing but wisps of smoke rising in its wake. What was it about fire that consumed so intensely? What was it about loneliness that made up your whole being so completely?
"No, nothing." She replied with a shake of her head, stepping closer to the bed. The door was slightly ajar, anyone could be watching. She figured she had to act her part, didn't she? That's what the look in her eyes said as she stopped walking right in front of him. Her eyes were looking over his face, the fresh shadow on his face, the blue of his eyes, the gentle press of his lips together. She leaned down to him, her face mere inches in front of his.
"Essie..." He whispered and he wasn't sure what it was supposed to sound like. A warning? A plea? He didn't know, all he knew was that his nerves were on fire, the very sight of her so close to him again sent his mind into a dizzying tailspin that he couldn't keep a grip on. He was lost to her, the glisten of her lips, the gleam in her eyes, the ivory of her skin. Everything. He'd do whatever it was she wanted and he felt somewhat guilty just for thinking that. Guilty because he was betraying everything he had ever thought he stood for. He was in control of himself and yet here she was, taking such a firm grip on his every action.
Softly she hushed him, fingers hovering near her pink lips as she didn't allow her eyes to leave his. One of her hands reached out, lightly tucking back some of his wind mussed hair behind his ear, her fingers lingering along his skin. She sighed at the contact, he let out a breath. She knew the effect she had on him, she understood every part of it and yet she still continued. She either didn't want to stop or maybe she was trying to earn more bucks on the side of her payment.
She leaned in closer, her breath heated as it caressed his face. His hands moved to her waist, running along her sides as he brought her to stand between his legs. He was losing himself again like he had back in New York. This was what he was supposed to have prepared himself against, this entrancing power that her love held over him, this intoxication that he had no freedom in.
It was her that pressed her lips to his, her that gripped lightly to his shoulders before her fingers slipped into the back of his shirt, trailing along his skin. He sighed against her lips, bringing her closer to him, needing to feel her again. This wasn't what was supposed to happen. He had already decided he wouldn't touch her, she was married and that couch near the vanity was his for the week. No he wasn't supposed to give into what could easily become an addiction because it wasn't real. None of this was real. He wasn't so alone was he? That he would sacrifice his coherency for a single moment of drunken desire?
A knock sounded on the door and quickly she was away from him. He felt cold without the warmth of her so close, he felt so lost without her body providing him the path towards sanity, towards insanity, towards every contradiction he could find there in her eyes. She was stealing his conscience, his lack of reason, she stole every part of him. But could it be called stealing if he simply handed it over so foolishly? No he was playing a part, there was no way that he was giving in so easily, no way at all. Not him, who had the greatest ability to outlast anything. Pain, pleasure, waiting, everything.
Jared's eyes lifted to the door and they fell on Shannon. Something tightened in his chest as he quickly looked away. He hadn't seen much of him since he had found out about this little plan of his, of everyone else's. When it was all over he was going to have to talk to him, ask him about this, blow the shit off of his own temper. Sure it wouldn't scare Shannon, he had never been able to do much of that but it would provide him with answers.
"Mom told me to bring your bags in." He said, walking in cautiously as he set down the luggage near one of the chairs. He hesitated looking around before finally looking to Essie. And there it was, the glint of familiarity. They knew each other, how much had he actually told him? How much did Essie really know about everything that had happened to Jared just a short while ago? Did she know that he was better? That that wasn't just some odd excuse to try and persuade people? He had been just fine this whole time until it was brought up again.
Jared didn't say anything. He only sat there, tracing the design in the carpet over the wood floorboards. He was thinking, trying not to think, trying to do something other than see the familiarity between Essie and Shannon because he was able to try hard enough for the week that this wasn't a set up, that this was just a coincidence. Especially after that kiss he was sure that he was able to try anything.
"Didn't tell me you were bringing anyone." Shannon said, eyes going to Jared where he was sitting on the bed and when Jared looked up at him he realized that they were both looking at him, waiting for his response, confusion weighed in his eyes and he stood up, looking down at his hands before he nodded. They were still watching him, they wanted him to say something, anything that would let them know he was there and not lost in his own head.
"Going to introduce us Jared?" Essie softly asked, looking over at Shannon then again to Jared and that's when an anger sparked in him when he saw Shannon's expectant eyes. He was going to carry on with this, he was going ot let Jared stand there in a fake relationship so that he knew, as well as everyone else, that he was alright again. It didn't matter to any of them what would happen to him once he found out. The feeling of emptiness that he was left with now didn't matter. All that mattered was that their own worry was soothed.
"Essie, this is my brother, Shannon. Shannon this is-" He hesitated, looking to Essie then again to Shannon, his eyes lowered to her hand. She had forgotten to take off her wedding band, wasn't really something that he would choose for his girl but he figured it would have to do. The shock on Shannon's face would be real and he would see worry replace the expectancy, wouldn't he? He could turn the tables in just one reply. Because no one would have expected him to fall in so deep in such a short time, would they? Of course not. One week and Essie was supposed to be out of his life. Just one simple little lie, it was alright as long as everything went smoothly first. ":-my fiance'/"