~ Chapter 3-10:14am ~
Jake wanted to believe he had come to the wrong conclusion, that he wasn’t possibly hearing that she got ditched by the man who was supposed to love her? Because he knew his extended family, and no one came up alone, there were just too many variables that could happen. So, unless siblings came up, or couples did, that was it. And he could have seen her coming up with Tim. He just didn’t think Tim was that much of an asshole to let her come up alone. And yeah, he could see Jay flipping out on this one and he could see her parents demanding she give the cabin key back and she wouldn’t be allowed to come up unless it was the family.
“Rachel, that’s a lot, anything could happen while up here.” She curled her legs up under the blanket and rested her head there.
“I know, Jake. I managed them just fine though. Sure the first one had me freaking out, but I’m not a little kid and I’m not dumb.”
“Want to explain why he wasn’t up here the first time?” She cut him a look and he chuckled. “Cut the claws, Rachel. I promise, swear, I won’t say anything. I’m just trying to talk. We both are going to be here a while and it might be best if we weren’t at each other’s throats.”
“You’re right,” she mumbled with a sigh. “The first time, he wanted to see this place that I loved so much, that I always talked about. So, I asked the parents if I could bring him up, and they both agreed. When I went to pick him up Friday morning, he wasn’t packed. Said the station had some hot shot coming into town and they needed him to play guide. I said there were tons of other people they could have asked for and that we had his planned for months.
“He didn’t care, said we could go whenever.” She paused and he watched her, seeing a look in her eye. “I should have known than the job would always be first and that other ladies caught his eye.” She had whispered that part so softly that he barely heard it, but he did.
“Who was in town?” he asked.
“Not sure. Some other gorgeous station anchor, one he had a major crush on. When she reached out to the station, he overheard and basically demanded to be the one there for her, her personal liaison. I heard a lot about his hookups after we broke up.” Jake blinked at that. Ups? As in more than one? As in he was a fucking prick to have kept on doing it? And then had the guts to hurt her over and over with that? What kind of man pulls shit like that and thinks it’s okay? Who the hell would hurt someone like that? Hell, Jake wasn’t even sure what to say to that right now.
“How many?” Her brows came together in confusion at his question. He didn’t want to repeat the question but he knew he was going to have to. “How many hookups?”
“Five, at least that he told me about. He wanted to make sure he got his point across.” Jake clenched his hands and his teeth, his anger rolling through him.
“And I’m going to assume this all came out after the break-up?” Jake watched as she clutched the blanket a little closer to her and nodded in answer to his question.
“I’m a fool on many accounts; I won’t deny that, however, I wouldn’t stay with a man knowing that I wasn’t his only one. I have more self-worth than that. I just thought, well, I thought he did love me, he did really care. And I think he did, but I also think I was really good for his image. You know the down-home, sweet, innocent-looking girl.” Jake tilted his head as he watched her.
Lots of things came to mind when he looked at her: gorgeous, sassy, annoying, but down-home, sweet, or innocent was not the case. Never, not with those eyes that raged like a storm or that mouth with those full lips that had him begging for more kisses. Nope, Tim might have been an idiot to see her that way, but she was the furthest thing. Probably didn’t help that he grew up around her so he knew her temper, knew how she was when she drank, and he honestly would suggest not to be around her because she had a vocabulary that would make most grown men blush!
“So, what, he thought the image was the most important thing here?” Jake asked, folding his arms over his chest.
“To be honest, I’m not totally sure. I mean, Tim was good at dropping pretty lines, but I really thought he cared.” She paused and her eyes focused on the storm outside. “When he asked me to marry him, I really believed he thought we’d make it, especially since he came from a divorced home, you know? That he would only marry for love.” She shook her head and then turned to look at him. “Guess my judgment with men isn’t the best.” Ouch. Did she have to give him those eyes? Okay, yeah, it wasn’t like he was smart in their past. He ran when maybe he shouldn’t have, but it wasn’t like she was a saint either. She could have said something, anything, but chose to remain silent.
“A little below the belt, don’t you think Rachel?” She shrugged, her head turning to look out the window again. The snow was piling up, and fast and the clouds that were rolling were a lot darker than just 15 minutes ago. Yeah, he could see this was going to be one hell of a storm and he only hoped that Jay didn’t get all freaked out on him over it. Rachel was right, had they left when he came, they would have been in the middle of this and that would have been a lot worse. At least here, they had means to eat, to stay warm, had light, and each other, even if it was rough and rocky at times.
Jake sighed and ran his hands over his face as he leaned his head back. He still had more questions for her, and wanted to know a lot more, but he wasn’t sure how forthcoming she’d be with her answers right now. Not that he could blame her; it wasn’t like he was opening up a lot about his own problems. And hell, he didn’t even tell his best friend much of anything, although Jay did ask if he had any intention of bringing his girlfriend up for the weekend and his short and sweet response was a big hell no. Jake was sure that Jay was able to figure out that something was going on though.
“I’m sorry, Jake. That response wasn’t quite directed at you, but you got to admit, it’s not like I have the best run of luck with men. I really thought Tim was different.”
“You just know how to pick them.” He crossed his arms a little tighter because the urge to reach over and rub her back in a comforting manner was something he wasn’t used to and wasn’t sure how he felt about it. But he knew he couldn’t do it, not right now with everything still stinging both of them. “Look, Tim was a jerk, no way around it, but not all of your exes are that way.”
“What do you even know of them, Jake? Let’s not try to play that we’re friends because we’re not. You often made it a point that you were only my brother’s friend.” Jake smirked as he turned a little more to face her.
“However, that didn’t stop you from trying to butt into our business, did it?” Rachel tried to turn away but his gaze captured her and she ended up shrugging.
“Look, you can’t blame a younger sister for following her older brother around. You also can’t blame said younger sister for having a crush on her brother’s best friend.” Jake’s smirk became even bigger and he poked her lightly.
“You did?” he questioned.
“I was like any hot-blooded female in school. You were hot with an ego that was the same damn degree. But that was ages ago and I’m well over it.” Yeah, he could see that, not. He also wouldn’t dare admit that he had a crush on her back in the day, or even still did. Jay would kill him. Well, honestly, Jay would kill him over a lot of things, which is why he kept his mouth shut. This is also why, at times, he tended to keep his distance from this gorgeous woman sitting next to him, he just couldn’t afford to lose his friendship with Jay. And Jay knew Jake pretty fucking well, Jay would only ever assume that Jake was out to fuck Rachel, or to fuck around with her, and truthfully, that wasn’t the case at all. “Anyway, are we done discussing me?”
“Far from it, princess.” Rachel rolled her eyes at the name before she sent him a glare.
“How many times am I going to have to tell you I hate that name?” she asked and he shrugged.
“A lot, cause it won’t stop.” She smacked him with the couch pillow but she did laugh and that was the most important thing. “I say we’re done talking about me for the moment. What about you? What’s going on with that Tanya, Joana…something with an ‘a’ at the end?” And that had Jake freezing up.