Yet she couldn't bring herself to dispel any of them because they all made sense to her, they all mattered. Somewhere inside of her he had rooted himself there and had never disappeared this whole time. She told herself it was just a stupid attraction that made her forget about the everyday routine of her average life. She had been married since she was twenty and everyday seemed to pull her deeper and deeper into the world that she had never wanted to live. Especially after she had given birth. She clung to her art because that was all that was left that could make her a whole person. That was the only thing left that could bring her old self back out.
Perhaps it was all selfishness, maybe it was all just a bout of confusion on her part. Spending this time with Jared, having slept with him and given apart of herself over to him even if he didn't entirely believe it. All of that took its tiring toll on a person's mind, a person's thoughts. Jared was exactly the sort of man she had always wanted, the sort of man that could wrap you up in a dream and leave you wanting more and more until either of you were too exhausted to hand anything over. But that day wouldn't come because she couldn't see herself tiring of him and she was sure that he wouldn't entirely tire of her. Maybe the feelings would fade in and out, maybe that fading had already happened with his finding out about her being paid but something inside told her that that fade was only temporary. It would return. She was waiting for that even if she knew that she shouldn't.
Setting down the towel she had used in the bathroom she moved over to the couch that Jared slept on during the night even though she would have much preferred for him to sleep beside her, make her feel less lonely, let her know that whatever cold was raging outside wouldn't effect what they had in here. But of course that wasn't an option. He knew her position and that itself was pushing boundary for him. Smoothing down the shirt she had thrown on she sat down on the couch, letting out a sigh of relief as her eyes closed. But soon she found herself stretching out on the couch and letting loose a small breath. She hadn't slept much after Marissa had arrived and she knew somewhere that that could be attested to jealousy but that was something she wouldn't just utter. At least not yet. A gentle relaxation fell over her and she breathed in the light scent that Jared had left behind. All of it was too overwhelming. Even for her.
Jared was watching the snowed scenery pass him by outside of his window. The radio was on playing some old classic that sounded even distorted restored. Shannon's fingers were drumming on the wheel, his eyes shaded by a pair of designer sunglasses that helped his eyes see better in the high and blinding Winter sun. A hum was coming from Jared's lips before it ended as he turned his attention to his brother. He could remember sitting in the passenger's seat of Shannon's car in high school, that beat up piece of junk that he could still remember the smell of. Cigarettes and open cans of beer that lingered its smell in the interior from the night before, Shannon's hangouts with his friends. It was always something he looked forward to, having his brother drive him to school, even if there was the ever present worry of the car breaking down midway.
Shannon seemed to feel his brother's eyes on him and immediately turned to look at him. He smiled from the corner of his mouth, that endearing smile that he only wore for him. All the slew of girls he had managed to get a hold of, even the ones that actually touched a part of him that he hadn't known existed- not even they could garner as much affection as he felt towards his little brother, never would.
However there was a tension between them, one that neither of them cared to acknowledge, at least not now. Not when there was a certain amount of leveled calm that resonated in the less than bothered atmosphere. Shannon was glad that, for right now, they had a silence passing between them. One that Jared wasn't breaking up and if he wasn't going to crumble it then neither was Shannon. It would come up eventually but that eventually didn't necessarily have to be now. He knew what he did and he had a strong feeling that Jared did too. The talk was approaching, ever closer and all Shannon had to do was wait for the avalanche to come chasing them down. They would get through it. Just like they always did. At least that's what he was hoping for.
The town came into view. Snow dusted buildings, sun bright on the horizon and bundled up people walking the streets. Everything looked peaceful and for once Jared just wanted this sort of calm to last. Never did for him though. He could never grasp something so tight and have it last with certainty. Everything was so unpredictably fleeting. He wasn't sure why his life had to be that constant repeat of reminders and memories but that's what he had to deal with and dealing with all of that offered him the biggest flaw he could have mustered. It made him stronger, he'd give it that. How much stronger he wasn't sure but he was sure he had gained a bit of resilience.
Shannon pulled the car along the curb and turned off the engine. A small breath escaped his lips as he turned his eyes to Jared. "Well, looks like we're here." He said with a small breath of a laugh. Fishing into the pocket of his jacket he took out a folded slip of people with neat handwriting along the blue lines. "The list isn't that long. Should be out of that store in no time."
Jared nodded and tucked his hair back behind his ear. He could tell that Shannon was nervous, that he wasn't sure how this was going to go and so Jared offered him a soft smile that would give both of them a bit of reassurance. Things were gonna be fine, this was the best time of year and their family was here with them. That's what mattered, wasn't it? "Doesn't matter to me, never minded groceries. That would be you." Jared laughed and stepped out of the car before leaning on the door and looking in at Shannon. "Coming?"
Shannon smiled and nodded. "You betcha." He replied as he took the key from the ignition and dropped them into his jacket's pocket he hesitated a moment, fearing that Jared would let out what he was feeling once they were in public, no he wouldn't make a scene, Jared wasn't like that. The moment was still hanging over Shannon though, the foreboding feeling that could ultimately make everything fall apart.
Once Shannon got out of the car and went off with Jared towards the store he grabbed a cart and strolled on inside. For awhile they were quiet as he silently went over the list. Out of the corner of his eye he watched Jared push his fingers back through his hair and then move to one of the shelves in the aisle. "Where'd you meet her?" The question came out and stopped Shannon from continuing on. A look of knowing and surprise wrote across his features before a sigh escaped his lips and he turned his gaze to Jared's. "What?"
Jared turned to face him, blue eyes sharp in contrast to the dulled store around them. He hadn't even expected to ask him but the knowing, the tension was all too much to endure and getting through it now, pushing through it was what they both needed to do. "Essie. Where did you meet her? I mean, of course you would know I would like her, of course you would know that I'd be stupid enough to-"
Shannon shook his head causing Jared to stop talking. Their voices were low, no one would hear them. The store was relatively empty and quiet. "It wasn't like that. No one was calling you stupid." He insisted with a lowering of his dark eyes to the list that seemed so meaningless now. Everything hadn't gone the way he had expected. Essie was in that house but then so was Marissa and the past was becoming more present than he had expected it to. "I met her through one of my friends."
"Well congrats to your friend, found a real something in that one. She's real beautiful, don't you agree?" Jared's voice, although low, seemed to drip with sarcasm as he stared at his brother expectantly. "Please tell me you didn't sleep with her first just to make sure she would do."
Shannon scoffed as if he couldn't believe Jared would say that and started to push the car through to another aisle. "Don't be disgusting." He said with a shake of his head but Jared came up close to the cart and stopped it before he could continue. "What do you want me to say, Jay? That I'm sorry? That I know I shouldn't have done it? You know all that already. Damage is done and I can't fix it anymore now can I?" He sounded entirely exasperated and it showed in the glisten in his eyes that caught the light above them. But he wasn't upset, not with Jared, not with anyone. Just himself, he should have stopped this before it had even began. That would have been the best thing but he couldn't just let things heal naturally. His brother, his mom, they were both hurting and he had to fix it.
"No, guess you couldn't. But you could meddle. You could stand there and plot out something that could- that did make matters worse. I'm sure we're all real grateful for that. What am I supposed to tell mom once we leave here? That I found out she was married so she can see my as the hopeless cause again? So she can think that Marissa pulled another number on me?" He shook his head and turned his eyes away. In his gaze there lingered a burning glisten.
Shannon nodded, reached his hand out and hesitantly set it down on Jared's arm causing him to look back to him. "Listen to me Jared, I wasn't thinking and if I could go back, if I knew that it would end up like this I would never have done that. If I could change it I would, I promise."
Jared's eyes held his, a long moment of silence passing between them before he shook his head and pulled his arm away. The moment in the car hadn't lasted and he hated that time could be rewound. "Let's just finish the list." He muttered, turning his back on him and heading towards one of the aisles.
Shannon watched after him before finally pushing the cart after him, pressing his lips together tightly to control his emotions. Things couldn't go on like this, he had to make something right but he didn't even know where to start.