Her Toy

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Looking Back

I glanced at the rear view mirror and saw Jason following my car closely down the interstate. It didn’t take much to convince him to leave his hometown and return to the city, and Pink Cherry.

Not after the night I crept into his room.

Kitty commented on the faint smile I tried to smother away when Jason held the car door open for me. Since then she busied herself with paperwork and paychecks, occasionally checking her phone for new messages.

“Sarah wants pictures of the barn,” Kitty stated and tossed her phone onto her lopsided purse.

“Tell her we already left,”

“I did,” She ran her hands down the long strands of pink and blonde hair flowing over her shoulders. “Now she’s panicking.”

I almost couldn’t blame her. A month less time to plan, a wedding in a condemned barn, and a fiancè who conveniently left the state on business.

Kitty and Jason’s mom nearly managed to make operation save Pink Cherry come to a screeching halt, her passive-aggressive comments about how much work the yard needed almost convinced Jason to stay behind.

If it wasn’t for Kitty’s promise to come back early we may have never escaped.

I put on my blinker and got off on the exit. Almost home. Then back to the office to give Ethan the papers he needed to keep Pink Cherry from going out of business. After that, well, I didn’t know what would happen after that.

Kitty cleared her throat, “So, where did you go last night?” My grip tightened on the steering wheel and the license plate in front of me became much more interesting.

“Bathroom,”

She nodded her head, “Just be careful, Tara.” I glanced at her staring out the window. She knew and I couldn’t keep lying to her. We didn’t speak the rest of the way and when we pulled into the alley behind Pink Cherry she left me in the car to open the shop.

I sighed and watched Jason pull up behind me. So much trouble for one man. When I finished beating myself up over my life choices I gathered my stuff and followed Kitty through the back.

She was already behind the front desk, starting up the computer and turning on the lights.

I opened my mouth to say being around Jason wasn’t my plan but shut it again when I realized how stupid I would sound. She’d tell me I was only hurting myself. She would probably be right.

Before I could dig myself a deeper hole, I disappeared into the back room. White and green fabric stretched across Jade’s work table with patterns stacked around her vanity. The mighty seamstress. Sarah’s wedding dress hung over the dressing room door. The train flowed across the room and waited for Jade to finish the remaining details. It was almost noon so she must have gone out for lunch.

I cleared off a seat next to the table and sent the text I’d been dreading.

“I’m back. I’ll stop by within the hour to drop off the papers.”

It didn’t take long to get a response from Ethan, “Got it, see you then.”

My fingers hovered over the screen as if there was more to say. We didn’t start by messing around in the office. At first, we ate lunch together and made fun of the newest secretary cliche that sauntered into the building and under their boss’s desk. Then we became one.

It was so easy, too easy, to let him represent someone I tried to forget. Someone who knocked on the door just as I was tucking my phone away.

Jason pushed the door open and scanned the mess like it was the first time he’d seen the aftermath of girls getting ready. He whistled, “Wedding preparations?”

“Yeah, looks like Jade went into overdrive,” I picked up a few of the designs and realized how intricate the dresses were. “She texted us this morning and said that if we didn’t make it to the dress fitting she’d hunt us down.”

He smirked, “I’d believe her.”

“What are you doing back here?” I asked while putting everything back where I found it. Jade often advocated for a sacred work space. No moving things and no using tools without permission.

“I do own the place,” Jason paused, “For now at least.”

“You’ll always own the place,”

“Maybe,” He said and grabbed one of the stress balls Kitty kept on her vanity. Kitty.

“You will,”

“If I had known business was so bad,” His sentence trailed off.

I sighed and turned to face him, “You might not have been able to fix it anyway.”

“But Ethan can,” He waited for me to agree.

“I hope so,” I cleared my throat and changed the subject, “Kitty knows about us.” Just rip off the band aid. He deserved to know that his sister was onto our charade.

“Us?” A grin spread across his face.

I ignored his unfounded joy, “Not everything but at least that I went to see you last night.”

“That sounds like karma,” Jason tossed the stress ball into the air and caught it, “I mean, you were really cruel.”

“I was not,” I shook my head and remembered why I came to the shop in the first place.

He grabbed another ball, “You slid into my room in the middle of the night, teased me, and left. That’s as cruel as it gets.” How ironic.

“You deserved it,” I fished around in Sarah’s vanity for the wedding photographer’s card, “But that’s not the point.” I still needed to call the photographer and bribe them to accept the wedding a month earlier than scheduled.

Jason leaned on the wall and juggled the stress balls Kitty used during the busiest nights at Pink Cherry, “I’m not worried about, Kat.” His nonchalance started to fuel the stress pumping through my veins.

I caught the balls and confiscated them, “Why not?”

“For one thing, It’s none of her business,” His face softened, “and she isn’t one to judge us for our little deal.”

I let my curiosity get the best of me, “What do you mean?”

Jason shrugged, “I caught her Skyping her roommate from college one time. She wasn’t talking as much as following orders.” He grabbed the balls from me and continued juggling while I processed Kitty’s indiscretion.

“I didn’t know you could juggle,”

He placed the balls on the vanity, “You don’t know a lot about me.” Although it killed me to admit it, he wasn’t wrong. “Don’t you need to get those papers to Ethan?”

I nodded and watched him turn toward the door, “I’ll be back tonight.”

He smirked at me, “I know.” Before he could make it to the next room I grabbed his hand and pulled him back in. No more walking away.

I kissed him against the door and waited for him to try to flip us around, he didn’t. I pushed my body against him and pulled his face to mine. The minutes ticked by as I grabbed and kissed what I wanted. When we managed to pull our lips away from each other, we both struggled to catch our breath.

“I should juggle more often,” Jason wrapped his arms around my waist and leaned in to kiss me again. I stared up at him and failed to conceal my smile.

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