Chapter 7 - Part 2
Unlike the day before, this time when Jessica entered the office at the garage, she was grateful for everything she had to do. It would keep her mind from wandering to her dream about Dylan—or Myles.
She didn’t want to spend time thinking about either of them or analyze how she was starting to see Myles differently than before. She brushed it off as stress from messing up her well-ordered life with Charlie to do what she believed was the right thing.
It was her own moral code that had dictated her drastic decisions over the past few days, but she wasn’t done yet. There was still more to come, and with more severe repercussions.
She frowned, trying to concentrate on the task at hand rather than the turmoil going around in her again, with no clear outcome in sight. She let out an emotional breath, trying to get back a clear mind without the guilt hovering in the background. Just for a few more days, she wanted to get back on her feet before she had to brace against the next wave of emotional retribution. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t be able to withstand it. There was no way to know if she had the strength to survive it anyway.
For the next few days, she kept her head down and worked studiously through the papers, trying to sort out some order before she had an idea of what type of filing system would work the best. The days flew by and there were days she didn’t look up until Myles stood in the doorway reminding her it was time to go home.
Things between them were different. Since the night of the nightmare, she kept her distance from him. They were like two ships passing in the night. He made no attempt to go out or invite anyone over, which did surprise her, but she brushed it off. He was an adult and could do whatever he wanted, even though the thought didn’t sit as well as it should have.
When the weekend came around, she got a reminder from her mother about lunch that Sunday. It was the last thing she wanted to do, but if she canceled, then her mother would be concerned. It was best to do it and appease her mom.
She found Myles in the living room watching TV.
“You free tomorrow for lunch?” she asked, walking over to sit beside him.
He paused what he was watching, then moved his feet from resting on the coffee table to the floor as he sat upright.
“My mom wants us to come for lunch.” She shrugged.
He nodded. “Sure. It’ll be nice to see your parents again.”
He hadn’t seen them since his father’s funeral. They had accompanied her to say her final farewell to Mr. Shaw.
That had been easier than she had expected. For some reason, their easygoing interactions had been replaced by something she couldn’t quite put her finger on, but at the same time she didn’t want to take a closer look. Her life was complicated enough at the moment to look for further things that would make it more complex.
“You still okay with me staying here?” Her question came out of the blue for both of them.
He frowned. “Yeah, why do you ask?”
She shrugged. “It’s just…” She couldn’t quite put into words what she wanted to. “I don’t want you to regret inviting me to stay.”
He shook his head. “Don’t be ridiculous. This is like a second home for you.”
Growing up, she had probably spent more time in his home than she had in hers. It was probably why it held so many memories.
“Okay.” She felt relieved that she still had a place to stay.
He resumed his program and she allowed herself to sit back, and her eyes drifted around the room. It was easy to feel the memories creep up on her unexpectedly. If she closed her eyes, she could see Dylan standing there horsing around with Myles, laughing. She wanted to hold on to the feeling of something more than sadness. It took her back to a simpler time, when she was free of the guilt that weighed her down.
She fondly remembered when the brothers had gone through the skateboard stage, even when Dylan had broken his arm. She had doodled stick men and hearts in pink, much to his disgust, as he thought pink was too girly. The ghost of a smile touched her lips. Every memory of him was tinged with sadness.
A hand touched hers, bringing her out of her daydream.
“Jess?” Myles whispered.
She withdrew her hand. She nodded. “I remember him so vividly here.”
His mouth tightened, but he remained silent.
Her phone started to ring and she got up to answer it. It was Hannah. She felt Myles’ eyes follow her out of the room.
“Hey.” Her voice was breathless.
“I hadn’t heard from you, so I thought I’d call to check up on you.”
She relayed how she had started working at the garage and the amount of work she had piled up on every available space in the small office.
“At least he’s keeping you busy and out of trouble.”
She stopped. “What does that mean?”
Her friend sighed. “One word. Karsyn.”
She held the phone tighter as she tilted her face up to the ceiling, feeling a wave of a familiar feeling at the sound of his name.
“It’s not like that.” It was a waste of time but she tried anyway.
“Uh huh,” Hannah mumbled back, not believing a word she had just said.
She couldn’t blame her for not believing her, because she didn’t believe herself either. She had so much history with the eldest Shaw brother that would complicate things if their paths crossed again.
Remembering the brief meeting at the graveyard was enough to bring back all those old feelings for him. She still felt so strongly for him; his previous actions and hers had done nothing to diminish those feelings.
“Let’s go out tonight.”
She hesitated, not sure if she really wanted to.
“Come on, Jess. Live a little.”
“I’m not sure it’s a good idea.” She sighed. It was like she had just enough energy to keep her head above water and no more. Going out, pretending it was something fun to do, would take more energy than she could muster.
“Come on,” her friend whined. “I need to go out and I want some company.”
She leaned against the wall and remained quiet for a few moments, staring at the pictures of Dylan with his brothers: smiling in the moment, with no worries.
“Jess? You still there?”
She didn’t want to go, but maybe getting out of the house and away from the memories that surrounded her would be a good thing. “What time do you want to go?”
“That’s my girl! I’ll pick you up at nine. Make sure you eat something.”
When she hung up, the regret sank in. She pushed off the wall and took a closer look at the smiling photo of Dylan, Karsyn and Myles. The familiar sadness took hold, and she backed away.