Chapter 4 - Part 2

Myles wasn’t up when Jessica pulled herself out of bed. She hadn’t slept well, and she nursed her coffee in the kitchen, wondering what lay ahead of her. She was nervous about seeing Charlie again but at least she would be able to wear her own clothes. Thinking of Myles made her touch the shirt thoughtfully, remembering the awkwardness of the night before.


She hoped he was in a better mood. Dealing with a subdued Myles on top of everything else wasn’t something she was looking forward to. She put off waking Myles until thirty minutes before they had to leave; she didn’t want to be late.


With a steaming cup of coffee in hand, she knocked on his door and waited.


The door opened slowly. He was dressed in shorts and nothing else, his hair disheveled. She couldn’t stop from trailing her gaze down his well-defined chest and stomach, which made her swallow nervously.


“What time is it?” he mumbled when she handed him his coffee as he scratched his chest.


“You have thirty minutes before we have to leave.” She shifted from one foot to the other nervously.


“You need more clothes.” He disappeared into his room with the door slightly ajar and returned with another set of clothes for her. 


“Thanks,” she murmured. 


“I’d better get moving. Give me twenty minutes.” He smiled and she nodded.


He closed the door as she stepped away.


She let out the breath she had been holding in. Everything seemed fine—gone was the atmosphere that had been there the night before. She held the clothes to her chest, feeling more relaxed.


Myles was on his second cup of coffee when she entered the kitchen.


“That was quick,” she said, taking the seat across from him. They still had five minutes before they needed to leave to make it to Charlie’s place at ten.


“I’m a guy.” He shrugged.


That was the thing. She had never looked at him like a guy; he had always just been her friend, but for some reason she was seeing him differently now, and it made her uncomfortable.


She checked her phone to distract herself from what was forming in her mind. “I think we’d better make our move.”


He rose up and discarded his leftover coffee in the sink, then led the way to the door that connected the garage with the rest of the house.


All the rooms in the house held memories, even the dark garage. Myles and Dylan had spent many afternoons taking things apart and putting them back together here, sometimes with parts left over. Grease and dirt-covered clothes… They were some of the happiest memories she had of the two brothers.


He opened the door to his dark-blue pickup truck. She got in and put her seatbelt on as he rounded the car and got in. 


“Don’t be nervous,” he said from beside her when he started up the car.


“I can’t help it.” She felt jittery and couldn’t stop herself from fidgeting.


She felt the heat of his gaze, but she refused to meet it. She just wanted the next couple of hours done with already so she could work on rebuilding her life. 


There was that saying that, when you closed one door, another opened. But there was still so much to do before she even considered something new. There was still too much in her past she had to deal with before she could move on. Just thinking about it increased the nervousness she was already struggling with.


The journey to Charlie’s place was quiet. Jessica was too lost in her thoughts to be able to make conversation, and Myles seemed to understand as he made no attempt to talk.


She was even more nervous when Myles pulled into the familiar street and then she saw the house she had shared with Charlie. It had been her home, but not anymore. It was familiar, but it lacked the warmth she had felt for it before.


When she went to the front door, she found a note from Charlie.


Leave the key when you’re done.


She trembled inside. That was it. It was well and truly over. It wasn’t the end that scared her, though—it was the beginning of the unknown.


“It’s probably best he isn’t here.” Myles was behind her and had read the note over her shoulder.


She nodded and searched for her keys in her purse while she tried to cover up her hurt feelings. The only person who was entitled to feel that way was Charlie.


Myles went back to the truck when she entered the house. It was so quiet, and she let out an emotional breath before Myles returned, carrying in some flat boxes and tape.


“Where do you want to start?” He took a look around.


She felt overwhelmed, but she wasn’t going to show it. “The bedroom.”


It took two hours to get all of her stuff packed and loaded up in the back of Myles’ truck. She left the keys on the kitchen counter and took one last look around before she headed out the door.


“See, that wasn’t so bad,” Myles said when they were driving back.


“Yeah,” she murmured, feeling distracted and not sure what exactly was making her feel so low. Was it the finality of ending things with Charlie, or was it something else? She couldn’t quite put her finger on it.


When they got back to the house, Myles carried the boxes to her room while she unpacked, which took another few hours. 


“I ordered pizza,” Myles announced in the doorway as she folded the last two shirts.


“Thanks,” she murmured. She was already calculating how many calories she was likely to consume. Myles’ clothes had been forgiving on her weight, but her clothes wouldn’t be. She would have offered to cook something, but other than a couple of cereal boxes there wasn’t much in the kitchen cupboards. She would make a plan to get some groceries so she could cook some healthier meals.


“You okay?” He hovered in the doorway.


She exhaled, still intent on the task at hand. “I’ll be okay.”


“You don’t have to be.”


She stopped folding the shirt in her hands. His eyes implored her to be honest with him, but she wasn’t ready to open up.


“You’ll be the first to know if I’m not.” She ensured her tone of voice was light and teasing, unlike how she felt on the inside. 


He studied her for a few moments before nodding and leaving.


When he was gone, she sat down on the bed and held the shirt to her chest, taking in a deep breath before exhaling. One step at a time, she told herself. Don’t look too far into the future. Just look ahead at the first obstacle and everything will be okay.


First she had to take back her life, and then she could tackle the past. The part that was eating at her every minute of every day. She had to figure out a way to deal with it, even if it was hard. There was a good chance she would lose the people she loved. She looked over her shoulder at the empty doorway. Including Myles.


Her phone rang. It was Hannah, her best friend.


She hesitated but picked it up and swiped the screen to answer it. 


“Hey,” she said.


“Are we still on for tonight?” Hannah asked.


Then she remembered they had planned to go out to the movies to see the latest romantic comedy. With everything that had been going on, she had completely forgotten.


“You forgot?” There was annoyance in Hannah’s voice.


“I’m sorry. It’s just things…” She didn’t know quite how to say it. “Charlie and I broke up.”


“What?” The shock was evident in her best friend’s tone.


“I told him it wasn’t working out.” Jessica sighed. 


“I don’t understand… I thought you were happy? He asked you to marry him.” 


Jessica hadn’t confided in anyone about her doubts. “It just didn’t feel right.”


There was silence.


“I’m sorry, Jess. Are you staying at your mom’s? I can come over if you just want to hang.”


“I’m not at my mom’s.” She fidgeted with the shirt in her lap.


“If you’re not at your mom’s, where are you?” 


“At Myles’ place.”


There was a pause.


“Myles Shaw?” She could hear the disbelief in Hannah’s voice.


“Yeah,” she breathed.


“Why are you staying at Myles’ place?’ Hannah’s voice softened. “You could have come to me.”


Jessica loved Hannah, but she had such bad OCD, which made her impossible to live with. “You hate having people in your place.”


“That doesn’t matter. If you needed a place, you should have come to me.”


“It’s okay. Myles helped me moved my stuff out of Charlie’s place.”


There was a thoughtful silence.


“Are you sure it’s a good idea? You’re bound to see Karsyn again. Are you ready for that?”


“Maybe… I’m not sure.” There were a lot of things she wasn’t willing to admit to herself.


“Does this have something to do with Karsyn?” Her friend was more perceptive than she gave her credit for. “Did you call things off with Charlie because you still have feelings for him?”


She held her tongue. Could she lie to her friend?


“I don’t know.” It wasn’t quite a lie; it was a half-truth. 


How could she admit she still cared for him when she knew there was little chance of getting him back?