Chapter 9 - Part 1

Jessica tried to steady herself as she tried to unlock the door, but the keyhole was so small and no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't quite get the key into the slot. This time she was determined, but she fumbled the keys and they dropped to the floor. 


“Damn it.”


Hannah had dropped her off, and it was close to midnight. They had stayed for two more drinks and she had spent the rest of the evening mulling over her encounter with Karsyn. Her eyes had searched for him and Robert in the crowd, but she hadn’t seen them again. It was probably for the best.


Hannah had spent most of the journey home lecturing her on why it was the best idea to steer clear of anything linked to Karsyn.


“He’ll break your heart again if you give him another chance.” There was no point in arguing because her friend was right.


Unsteadily, she bent down to pick up the keys, leaning a hand against the door.


Then, as the door moved, she fell forward, leaving her in a sprawled mess at the feet of Myles.


“What the hell, Jess?” he asked, helping her up and picking up the keys in one move.


“I’m sorry,” she mumbled. The alcohol made her feelings more amplified as she leaned into his strong frame.


“I take it you had fun,” he remarked with an arm around her waist as he led her to the sofa to sit.


She sank down in the chair and leaned her head back. The room was spinning a little, so she closed her eyes and sighed. “I wish.”


The night hadn’t gone the way she’d intended. If it had, she would be with Karsyn. Her emotions felt like they were all over the place and she couldn’t think about him without feeling the pain that came with that. Heartbroken again.


“Why not?” His voice was nearby, but it took too much effort to reopen her eyes so she kept them closed.


“Karsyn was there.” 


The seat beside her dipped. “What happened?”


She sighed. “The same… Nothing has changed.”


There had been a few moments over the evening when she had believed there would be a chance for Karsyn and her to be together, but all those hopes had been dashed. It was impossible to hide her disappointment in her drunken state.


When he’d led her to the dance floor she remembered how her heart had skipped a beat and when his hands had rested on her hips—but then he had pulled away.


Something got shoved into her hand. “Drink,” Myles instructed.


She lifted her head and opened her eyes to put the glass to her lips and drank. It was water. She frowned.


“You’ll thank me in the morning.”


She didn’t really want to drink the water, but she managed a few gulps before she passed it back to him. She rested her chin in her hands as her elbows rested on her knees. 


“I shouldn’t have gone out. It would’ve been better if I’d stayed here.” 


“Maybe it’s time to close the door on you and my brother.” 


She shifted to look at Myles. “You’re right, but it’s easier said than done, you know. When he’s around all I can do is feel, and any logical reasoning goes out the window.”


He nodded solemnly.


“I don’t think I’m strong enough to resist him, and as long as I believe there’s a chance, I’m going to hope.” She was probably saying too much, but at this point she didn’t care. It felt good to open up and tell someone about what was going on in her mind and heart.


“Maybe you have to accept it’s over.” His words were quiet but impactful. “And each time you go through this, you’re chipping away at yourself until one day there might not be anything left.”


“I’m a sucker for love.” Or just a sucker for his older brother, she thought.


“Are you sure that’s what it still is?” 


She straightened up, surprised at his words. “What do you mean?” The room began to spin a little and she put a hand to the sofa to steady herself.


“He’s someone you spent a lot of years with. Maybe you want what you know. Something familiar.”


She frowned as she mulled over his suggestion thoughtfully. “Maybe.”


But that didn’t explain her physical reaction to his brother. She still felt the electric heat they had always had between them. That hadn’t diminished. He was something familiar, too, though, and she couldn’t argue that she had felt safer in the familiarity of him.


“Maybe,” she murmured distractedly, trying to figure out through muddled thoughts if he had a point. Maybe there was some truth to his words.


“Have some more?” He tried to hand her the half-full glass of water, but she shook her head.


“No. I’ll be swimming all night.” 


He chuckled and she watched him while he set down the unwanted glass.


“It’s nice to see you smile.” She was transfixed and watched as his smile began to wane as a seriousness she was used to from him set into his features. “You should do it more often.”


“There hasn’t been much to smile about,” he said, and her heart echoed his sentiment. 


She reached out and covered his hand with hers. For several moments they stayed tied in the moment, unmoving. 


Her hand began to tingle and she removed it, unsettled. Needing to get away, she stood but her legs were unsteady. “I need to go to bed.” Especially before she said or did something she shouldn’t.


“Let me help you.” A strong arm wrapped around her waist and she leaned into him. 


While he helped her slowly to her room, she quietly breathed him in and was very aware of how her heart raced. Her eyes watched him with fascination as he concentrated on getting her to bed.


When he got her in the room, he eased her to lie down. She sighed and lay on her side, tucking her hands under her face as she watched him remove her shoes.


“You going to be okay?” he asked before straightening up to his full height. 


“Yeah.” Her eyes felt heavy but she didn’t want to sleep.


She wanted to figure out why she was looking at him differently. It had been gradual over the last few days, and tonight there was no mistaking it: She was not looking at him like a friend. She was in dangerous territory and she knew it wasn’t a good idea. Especially with alcohol, her emotions were stronger than any reasoning.


“You sure?” he asked.


“Mmm…” she replied contentedly.


But he didn’t leave. 


“You have the most beautiful eyes,” she murmured dreamily.


Myles stood unmoving beside her.


“You never told me about Hannah.” Jessica suddenly remembered what she had found out from her friend earlier that evening.


He stiffened. “She told you.”


She nodded. “She was quite embarrassed about it.”


“She’d had too much to drink. The feeling wasn’t mutual. End of story.”


“She’s beautiful.” 


Myles nodded slowly. “She is.” 


“So why not?” She wanted to dig deeper into why he had turned Hannah down.


“Like I said, the feeling wasn’t mutual.”


Then she had a crazy thought that seemed to feel so right. She wanted to reach out and take his hand in hers. She wanted to pull herself up the length of his body and plant a kiss on his mouth. The thought winded her—never had she ever entertained thoughts like this for him. 


“Why don’t you have a girlfriend?” she asked, giving in to her curiosity.


“You should go to sleep.” It was his way to deflect the question, but she wasn’t having any of that.


“Why, Myles?” she persisted. “The girl you had over the other night, you said it was casual.” When he didn’t immediately answer, she asked, “Are you too busy playing the field?”


“Something like that.” He let out a heavy sigh. “What’s with all the questions, Jess?”


She closed her eyes, feeling tired. “It doesn’t matter.”


There was a stretch of silence, and she felt him cover her with a blanket.


“I want you to be happy, that’s all.”


He sighed. “It’s not that easy, Jess. I can’t expect someone else to make me happy. I need to find a way to be that on my own.”


That was deep. She opened her eyes to find him staring at her.


“If you figure out how, let me know.”


She wanted to be happy like she had been before Dylan had passed. Karsyn was a reminder of a time when her heart had been filled with love and happiness. Was that one of the reasons she was still holding on to him?