His free hand lifted, back of his fingers brushing gently along her cheek drawing a sigh from her parted lips. A smile flickered on his face before being extinguished, unsure if he was expressing something far too soon. She knew that he had only done this to prove something to Marissa who was still standing there behind them. It didn't matter though because she didn't grasp onto that fact, she grasped onto the truth that this was what he had nearly done moments before when they had both been in the bedroom. This was the kind of kiss that they had shared in New York and as much as he had so blindly fallen for everything she did she found herself tripping over the stumbling block that he represented in the path that she was supposed to be on.
"Sorry." He whispered, his tongue stealing the dryness that the wind brought to his lips. He didn't lower his eyes from hers. He couldn't turn away from the way that the green of them had become gentler and more drawn towards him. He could feel the slight tremble of her body so neatly fitted with his own. He could feel the way her chest rose and fell against his, the breaths she took deep and a struggle to calm the way her heart reflected the pace of his own aching and beating one. He wanted to feel all of her and he knew that if he kissed her again he would take something from her, have it living there inside of him but at that point there was no turning back. Just because this had happened didn't mean that they were at the same turning point, there was too much separating them- as much as he hated knowing that.
Slowly she shook her head, strands of red hair adorned with melting flakes of ivory snow contrasting the deep color and adding to the vibrancy of every strand. She was alive, her face was flushed, her insides were seemingly connected to his and she wasn't even sure when any of it had happened. She didn't want to cut the ties though even if she knew inwardly that she would have to. That because of everything she would have to retrace her steps to this moment and cut the bindings that held the two of them together. This wasn't the way things were going to end. It wasn't foreboding, it wasn't an inner knowledge, it was simply the way that things came to work. "Don't be." She insisted, although she wanted to mirror those words and have him know that they held just a touch of honesty. That wouldn't come out though, that would only build this moment further.
He gave her a nod and although he didn't want to face the cold alone he still untangled himself from her, his arm falling to his side still scarred by the sweet warmth that she offered so easily. He could hear the racing of his own heart, could feel the way his pulse nearly jumped from his skin. But all of the nerves and anticipation fell with the remembrance that Marissa was standing there with them. He couldn't head into the house with Essie, close the book on this specific chapter without turning to look his past in the eyes and tell her simply that she had to go. It hurt given everything that they had shared together, the possibilities wasted in a shrouded hole of nothingness, the hopes dashed in a faded and empty chance at love. A sort of love that would never exist, not for any of them.
Turning around Jared met her eyes, swallowing down the thick emotion lingering there as he refused to break the stare that rose up and choked at him. "Marissa..." he breathed out, lips pressed together as he tried to gather the right words to say. His eyes lowered and his breath caught in his chest when he heard the front door open and close, Essie's warmth gone from him until he returned to her side once again. This wasn't the right road to travel down but could his wasted heart really understand that? It couldn't. Not when there wasn't any clarity, not when he stood here now wondering why it hurt so much to cut the ties that bound him to his past. "...Marissa I'm sorry." He whispered, finally lifted his eyes again to hers.
She didn't say much of a response. She only just simply stared at her, eyes leveled and seemingly hurting as she tried to understand the tumultuous storm she had found herself in the middle of. Jared wasn't at peace, there was something wrong with the way he had acted with Essie, not everything was whole, not everything was right. Briefly she wondered why Jared could never weather the storm and get through the rain until he found the right kind of peace for the sort of soul that he had. Was it really so hard for him to grasp? That after everything he couldn't find himself? He always needed someone to show him the way even if he needed to be in control of everything else. "Don't be." She stiffly said, her reply laced through with an offended sort of disregard. For a second she continued to stare before she turned on her heel and walked away from him.
His eyes followed her, a fading figure in the ivory onslaught of snow. She was disappearing and yet nothing felt settled, nothing felt carefully handled. He hated the feeling of this being left so messy and opened. He didn't want to linger in the stormy weather, didn't want to continue hearing the howling wind that raced through him whenever he was alone. Echoing from hollow wall to hollow wall until he realized just how empty he was. He was continuously faced with his own incompetence for surviving and living through his own misery. They both saw it didn't they? Marissa and Essie? They understood his weakness for everything they did and yet they still turned away from him without much repentance or care. Was he allowing himself to be toyed with? Or did he know exactly what they were doing to him and yet in his need he couldn't quite bring himself to care?
Coming back into the house he had explaining to do to his mom who was confused about how late he had come around to the kitchen again. The cocoa had been prepared already and Shannon was leaning on the counter. Of course he didn't mention Marissa, that would only bring that concern back into their eyes that he had tried to close the door on finally. His mom had been worried about him catching cold since the temperatures were dropping due to the late hour, the afternoon nearly fading and night beginning to creep up on them. Things finally got settled down and after drinking their cocoa they got to making dinner before gathering together in the living room like they usually did, just to talk or simply to sit there doing absolutely nothing.
The whole time he hadn't been able to look over at Essie, unsure if he was ready to accept the surge that had gone through him when he had once again felt her lips touch to his, when he had given in to the urges and the need for her that was blindly filling him. She looked like she was almost desperately trying to catch his attention, the green of her gaze almost pleadingly staring at him from the corner of his eyes. But he couldn't look at her, not yet, not when everyone was around. He only listened to the others talk mostly, only listened to when his mom would address Essie and bring her into conversations where she didn't have a single clue as to what they were talking about. She was being accepted by everyone around them and if this were any other ttime, if he were still oblivious, this moment would have been one of the best of his life.
Essie rose up when the clock struck eleven, announcing that she was tired and about ready to go to bed. She said her goodnights before leaning down to lightly kiss Jared on his forehead, letting her lips linger there as she whispered a private goodnight to him. His eyes followed her as she walked on into the bedroom, the door clicking shut. Jared stared down, feeling everyone's eyes on him as if they were wondering if he was going to go into the room with her. But he waited a few minutes longer, resuming the conversation that had broken when Essie said she was going to sleep.
Finally with his mom going to bed everyone followed and Jared figured it was safe enough to go on into the room, Essie must have been asleep already. He came into the room quietly and zipped off his sweater, draping it on the back of the door before going into the bathroom. Taking off his clothes he turned on the shower and stood under the heated water, letting it wash over him and closed his eyes. It was like his entire head was on fire, the stress of today finally showing itself in the burdened feeling that was sparked inside of him. His hands were reddened by the intense heat that hit it, the suds washing away and dripping out of his hair. Once the water was shut off he stood there in front of the mirror, towel wrapped at his waist and eyes intent on his own reflection.
Was that a certain fading to his blue eyes? Was his skin just a little paler? Perhaps he was sick, maybe inside he was just filled with something that made him hesitant to actually move any which way. Shaking his head he dried his hair off and then quickly got dressed into a pair of pants and a sweat shirt. After pulling on his socks he left the bathroom and headed into the bedroom.
It was dark and he could see Essie laying there in the bed. The white of the sheets contrasting against the red of her hair, her skin was nearly glowing in the darkness and the whispering Winter light from outside reflected off of her. He let his eyes go over her, admiring every inch of her body that he felt himself craving, needing. She was affecting every part of him, he wanted to go to her, wanted to take her in his arms and kiss her. He wanted to feel every part of her again the way he had done in New York, he wanted to feel her pulse quicken, hear her breath pick up and hear her whispered words fill his ears. He wanted all of her.
This was weakness.
His eyes turned towards the sofa that he had agreed to lay on, sleep there without her warmth. He knew it was the right thing to do especially when he let his mind wander back to the phone call she had received from her husband, she had probably spoken to her daughter then as well, lying for his sake. Was he really supposed to make these matters worse by venturing further into what he wanted rather than what was good for him? He supposed one mistake could be made up for later.
Moving towards the bed, his knee fell on the mattress first, dipping the bed causing her to stir slightly. He lifted his other leg until he was on the bed completely, moving towards her. She made a small noise of being woken up as she slowly opened her eyes to his. Confusion spread over her features but he didn't lower his eyes from hers as he leaned over her. His hand brushed back the strands of her hair and he softly trailed his fingertips over her lips to quiet her. Swallowing down almost nervously he leaned down to her, his breath washing across her lips until his own touched to hers. Her hands ran up his arms and slowly over his shoulders, locking around his neck and bringing her down to him.
He made to kiss her but a yell came from outside the door and when it came again Jared realized it was his own name being called. A heavy sigh escaped him, lowering his head. "That's my mom." He whispered as he reluctantly pulled himself from her. He got up, running his hand back through his hair and heading out of the room. He heard her shift around as well before joining him. "Mom, what is it?" He asked, his brows knitting together slightly as he walked towards the living room. A sigh escaped him, stopping short of approaching, his hands falling to his hips when he saw Marissa sitting there on the couch, a blanket wrapped around her shoulders as she struggled to get warm in front of the newly lit fire.
His mom's eyes met his and a look of disappointment crossed her features. "You didn't tell me Marissa was here." She stated and he couldn't find the words to answer because something inside told him she had done this on purpose. A sigh fell from his lips as he lowered his eyes. He could hear his mom tell him to help her get warm and with a glance back at Essie, hesitance filling his eyes he walked over to his mom, ready to help her and Marissa out anyway he could without allowing himself to think at all.