The Toy Maker (Under Construction)

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Lost and Found

My march to see Jason was set to the sound of consistent cussing playing on a loop inside my brain.

I bumped into a few chatty Cherries who stopped me to say how glad they were that I was alive and all I could do was nod and paint a smile on my face.

When they left to join in what I could only assume would be a threesome I continued my mission.

I was sick of contemplating my life choices in front of doors that I knew I was going to walk through anyway. So I strolled into the room like I owned the place.

And the man that did just stared at me from his bed.

“Are you okay?” He asked, his voice was tired and I could tell he was holding himself back from coming to see me.

“I’ve had better days,” Mainly every other day of my life where I didn’t get strangled and lose my friend.

Jason stared down at his lap, “I’m sorry,”

I tried to stay angry at the world but the tone in his voice really splashed water onto the flames, “For what?”

It wasn’t that I thought he had nothing to apologize for but more to the fact that I needed to know what specific incidence he was regretting.

The fuck and flight, the public humiliation, the secret keeping, or maybe stuffing Cheetos into my shirt.

He never answered me. His hands were still coated in Sam’s dried blood but I could see where he tried to chip it off.

“Jason?”

Before I could react he stood up and tackled me in his embrace. The air was nearly knocked out of my lungs by how firmly he pressed me into him.

I breathed in his intoxicating scent and fought off the desire to curl up and live in his arms for the rest of my life.

I could feel his hands shaking, one cradling my head and the other against my back.

It was clear that he wasn’t okay, maybe as not okay as me but that didn’t erase anything that we’d been through.

I pulled away and watched his face fall.

He quickly regained his composure and suddenly he was back to normal, almost. The blood on his hands and face remained as did the stupid preacher’s costume.

He cleared his throat, “Where’d you go?”

“To see Kitty,”

He turned away from me and walked to his desk, “How’d that go?”

I shifted where I stood, “Could have gone better.”

Jason nodded and pulled out a stack of papers and started to sift through them.

I wanted to fight the words crawling up my throat but I was too tired to try and suppress my need for the truth, “I think she’s in love with you.” The statement came out more like an accusation.

He didn’t he look at me, “She doesn’t,”

“How do you know?”

“I just do,”

“And if you’re wrong?” I continued, “It makes sense why she was so upset when she saw us together and why she decided to have me forcibly removed from the picture. At least to scare me way,”

“Tara,” Jason tried to interrupt me but I wouldn’t let him.

“She’s been here longer than anyone and you’re going to say that there is no chance that during that time she’s developed feelings for you?”

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,”

My body ached all over from continuing a constant guessing game. Everything I was felt like cement, refusing to move without a fight.

I was so tired and nothing I said or did could make him tell me any more than I already knew. “Then why don’t you just tell me?”

He didn’t bother to saying anything.

“Hello,” I said, trying to hold back the flood of tears, “I almost fucking died today and you can’t even give me an answer!”

Jason continued shuffling through the paperwork as I steamrolled to the edge of a mental breakdown.

“Say something!”

When he finally looked at me I was met with the same green eyes I had seen the day I was initiated into the pack but it wasn’t the man behind them.

He was no longer cold and unwavering like he was a few months before. Fear had crept into the corners of his mind and now the emerald shimmer had been masked with self-hatred.

He pulled something from the pile and handed it to me.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“It’s your contract,”

I glanced down at the collection of papers, “I never signed a cont-”

“To PinkCherry,”

My mind was racing, “Why are you showing this to me?”

“That contract was only valid for four months,” He said without looking away from my face.

“Right but that’s not up unti-”

“Yesterday,” He cut me off and I knew that he wasn’t about to draw up the new paperwork.

“Jason,” I hesitated but he didn’t.

“You can go,” The words left his lips so effortlessly that I could hardly believe it.

I shook my head, “I don’t want to.”

“I don’t care what you want,” He suddenly snapped, “Isn’t that obvious to you by now?”

“Stop that,”

“Being honest? I thought that’s what you wanted,”

I swallowed, “Not like this,”

“You know, honestly, I don’t give a damn what you think.” I twisted the contract in my hands as he told me what he really thought.

“I saw you, I used you, and now I’m telling you to get out but somehow you’ve managed to turn fucking into feelings!”

“I don’t have feelings for you,”

“Okay,” He scoffed, “Then say it out loud, say you don’t love me and we can get you a brand new contract and you can stay here,”

I opened my mouth to say the four words that would fix everything but nothing came out. Jason nodded at my silence and watched as I tore the contract apart and let the pieces fall to our feet.

“Say you love me and I won’t go,” I fired back at his hard resolve, “I know you really don’t want me to.” He blinked and maybe for a second he was considering it.

“Don’t you get it, Tara,” He finally said, “You’re imagining that I feel something for you.”

I choked back a sob, “I’m not.”

Jason stared at me and just when I thought he might shout ‘Gotcha’ and point to the cameras he hammered the last nail in the coffin, “You’re fired.”

My legs shook from holding up the weight of my body as I came to terms with what had happened in just twenty-four hours.

It hurt worse than anything I had ever felt and then suddenly it didn’t.

I stood up straight and met his gaze, “I want my last paycheck.”

He stared at me for a second before agreeing and writing me a check but before handing it to me he went to his dresser and pulled out something I forgot all about.

“I think these belong to you,” Was all he said before putting the thong I had lost the day we first fucked into my hand. I tried not unravel when his skin brushed against mine for the last time.

I couldn’t force out another word so I turned and walked out of the room.

The world was spinning as I fought to keep my head held high. I didn’t see Kitty or Jade, not even Sarah. My last day at PinkCherry was spent the way I had been my whole life, alone.

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