Jared had gotten under her skin, she could feel that where she stood, could feel the feelings sucking away the resistance against everything that were battling towards her. She wanted to get away from this because she knew that if she didn’t she wouldn’t ever want to leave. Stepping out of that front door might feel like the worst thing in the world, she might even come to regret it but it would be what was right, wouldn’t it? Even if she knew that sometime down the road she would find herself needing these days back, carefully resting herself in Jared’s arms.
A knock sounded on the door and Essie turned to it, brows furrowing a little as she stood up. She had been sitting here quietly just in case someone heard her inside and would come to talk to her. She didn’t really have the nerves right now to talk to anyone, only Jared. But what could she do? Ignore it? That was certainly something that couldn’t be done. So reluctantly she moved to the door and opened it up, smiling softly to hide her nerves when she saw Constance standing there on the other side. She always felt awkward in the woman’s presence. Her son, she was tricking her son.
"Hi Essie, I’m sorry to bother you." Constance softly said, noting the tired look on the girl’s face. She could find herself becoming warm to her, she saw the difference in Jared whenever she was around. Anyone could see the looks that they gave each other. But she had warmed up to Marissa as well, she had allowed herself to be close to her and everything had been pulled out from under them all when things had broken up between her and Jared. Could she find it in herself to trust Essie as well? She wasn’t sure if she could but she supposed that she could try.
"Oh no, don’t worry." Essie said with a shake of her head and a widening smile as she tucked her hair behind her ear. She felt welcomed here and it killed her to know that perhaps once she was gone they would all find out what she had done. That was the worst thing wasn’t it? Feeling the hate from faraway, knowing that it existed somewhere? Especially when she appreciated these people and cared about them. How had she allowed herself to get this close to anyone? "Was there something that you needed?" She asked, hoping that Constance wasn’t going to ask to help her with dinner because she really couldn’t stand being in that kitchen with her with the emotions already rising up inside of her.
"No, no I was just going to tell you that Emma and I were going to run into town to check out some clothes. Always do like to look my best on Christmas. You can come if you want." The offer was genuine and she was hoping that Essie would agree to it. That would allow them time to get to know each other much better, wouldn’t it? That’s just what they needed if this was going to progress any further but she could understand that Essie might not want to especially if Jared wasn’t going to be there, she knew how awkward that could be. Family was often an intimidating subject when relationships were concerned.
The offer sounded rather interesting and she would have loved to have gone. Shopping was always something that got her mind off of things but Jared would be here any minute and with everything about to be set in motion she couldn’t deceive his family further. That would make her even embarrassed of herself. So she shook her head with a small laugh and waved off the suggestion. “No, no I’ve already got the perfect dress. Just don’t tell Jared, he hasn’t seen it yet.” The laugh she gave was thoroughly convincing and it got the right reaction from Constance who smiled warmly across at her.
"Sure thing. I bet you’ll look beautiful." She replied with a nod to her. "Jared will think so too." She was so sweet and so was the gentle hug that she offered Essie, wrapping her arms around her and silently hoping that this would work out for Jared. He had been through the ringer, falling down to the bottom rung because of the woman that was in the other room. She was still upset about it but repaying unkindness with unkindness was something she refused to do. But Essie, she seemed like someone that she could see her son with and that was hard to accomplish because the protectiveness with which she treated her boys was beyond comprehension.
"Thank you, Constance. Do me a favor though?" Constance nodded, waiting for her next words. "Show me what you bought once you get back?" That caused the woman to laugh as she pulled from the hug and gave her another nod. "I’ll see you later." They mutually said before Essie slipped back into the room once she watched Constance walk off to retrieve Emma and get going. There were other people in the house but without Jared with her she was sure that they wouldn’t come on over and knock on her door. They were probably all outside anyways,
The gave her a bit of comfort. She really wasn’t in the mood to see anyone and certainly wasn’t in the mood to do any talking. All that she wanted was for Jared to come home and to let out the words that she was inwardly feeling. She just couldn’t continue like this and being alone felt good while she gathered her thoughts. That was the best thing to do, to calm herself before Jared came walking through that door and having to face everything that was going to be down the road. She would feel lonely without him, wouldn’t she? He had a certain way about him that managed to envelope her and make her feel wanted, not at all like the cheap deal she had gotten paid for.
Another knock on her door sounded once a car drove off from the driveway. Her thoughts were interrupted as she stood up once more, smoothing down the skirt of her dress and the back of her hair she took a breath. Who was it? Jared didn’t have the habit of knocking and Shannon wouldn’t really want to see her, not after he had seen the ring on her finger from the fake engagement. She didn’t know anyone else unless- A breath escaped her, shaking inside of her as she tried not to think of what Marissa could possibly want to say to her. She wasn’t with Jared anymore anyways, that was the point of all of this. Maybe it wasn’t her after all?
But wishful thinking got the better of her as she opened the door and she came face to face with Marissa standing there on the other side of the door. She no longer looked sick, in fact she looked brilliantly pretty. Her blonde hair was pulled back into a braid and her eyes were softly chilling as she stared across at Essie. In this morning light coming in through the window panes in the room showed Essie just what Shannon had meant when he had told her that she somewhat resembled her. It wasn’t exact but there were features, softer ones on the face of Marissa but altogether related. “Can I help you?” She asked, trying to make her voice sound entirely normal. She didn’t want her to come in, didn’t want her to see the sketches laid out on the table or see the state that she had brought herself down into.
Marissa smirked and pushed her braid off her shoulder as she moved past Essie into the room. Essie sighed heavily and turned to face her at the door as Marissa’s gaze scanned the room and a certain nostalgic looked crossed her features. Finally she turned around to meet Essie’s eyes, something of a challenging smirk there on her face. Her arms folded across her chest as she took a couple of steps towards her. Essie really didn’t have the capacity to deal with this right now but Marissa obviously seemed not to care not that Essie, in anyway, expected her to.
"Did Jared tell you that he and I stayed in this room together?" Marissa said, the smile still present on her glossed lips. "We made love on that bed…that sofa too." A small laugh came from her as she shook her head at the memory. "He sure knows what to do, doesn’t he?" When she realized that Essie wouldn’t answer and that the atmosphere was thickly hanging around them she knew that she couldn’t really bring herself to stop now. She was going to say what she had to say and she hoped that Jared wouldn’t come through that door until she was finished. "How long have you known Jared? Six months?"
That was something that Essie wanted to laugh at despite the rise of emotions inside of her. Six months, to know him for six months would actually be really nice.But she wasn’t about to correct her. “Give or take.” She replied tightly, brows lifting slightly as she crossed her arms in nearly the same fashion. She just had to remind herself that she couldn’t let Marissa get to her, that would be the worst thing that she could do, wouldn’t it?
Slowly Marissa nodded, a smile still there creeping on her lips. “Six months is nothing compared to how long I’ve known him. We know each other a lot, known each other a long time. We were friends even before we found that we loved each other. That kind of connection, Essie, is something that simply cannot be outdone. You know that, don’t you?” She waited for Essie to answer but when she didn’t Marissa figured that she was already getting to her. That was a nice feeling. With Essie gone she hoped that she could get Jared’s eyes opened finally. “He just thinks that he doesn’t want anything to do with me but real people who are in love always have problems. They fight, they separate but when it’s meant to be it can’t be overrun and you know that. I know that you do. So let me tell you something…” Slowly she walked towards her, eyes turning into that glare that seemed almost alluring to stare at. “…when I came back here, the day I got sick Jared came to see me and he begged me to come back to him. I told him that I had to wait, that I needed you to leave first and he laughed at that, told me that getting rid of you was as easy as taking out the trash.”
Essie didn’t say anything. How could she get upset over that when she was married and everything Marissa was saying was probably true? Of course she and Jared had shared something in New York but the moment that Marissa had stepped back into his life that had all gone out the window. She was right, some loves were complicated and this one, with Jared and Marissa, was just that. Slowly she nodded to her, swallowing down the thick of emotions that she knew had no right to be there. She wished right then in that moment that she had met Jared before their paths were paved but she also knew that couldn’t happen. There was simply no going back.
Marissa noted the glisten of tears in Essie’s emerald eyes and she knew that her job was done. She had set the thought into motion and she felt pretty good about herself. “Nothing but something he can screw.” She finished before pushing past her to get through to the door, stepping out and heading away from the room.
Essie stood there a minute before swallowing down and sniffing back the rise of emotions inside of her. She looked around a moment, eyes glancing over to the sketches that she had laid out on the table. Her daughter, some scenery from outside this room and then Jared. She had gotten his likeness right but of course nothing was like seeing him close to her. That glisten of his eyes, the way the blue of them entranced her. The way his lips slightly parted when he took a breath or the slight crookedness of them when he spoke. The way his arms fit around her and the soft way his kiss felt on her skin. It was almost like he was permanently engraved inside of her.
But all of that was something she couldn’t continue thinking about. Gathering up her sketches in a hurry she tucked them into her purse before opening her suitcase on the bed. Starting to take her clothes from the closet and the drawers she loaded it up inside the suitcase. It was better if she didn’t see him to leave, she could write him a letter, could tell him not to come find her even thought she knew he probably would never want to. Seeing him would just make matters worse. She hadn’t noticed that tears were falling from her eyes until the door opened and Jared stepped in.
The soft smell of Winter air and his gentle cologne mixed with the natural scent that seemed to follow him filled the air first before she even had time to turn around and face him. When she finally did her hand lifted to wipe off the trail of tears staining her cheeks out of frustration.
"What’s going on?" He questioned, eyes going to the suitcase then back up to her eyes with a curiosity that panged with a touch of hurt when he understood just what she was doing.