When I wake up, I feel a million times better. I hear a Julius and little barks coming from the living room. I get up and walk out the room. When I turn the corner I see Julius on the floor with Beanie playing with the little football and a small rope. I clear my throat and Beanie comes running to my feet.
“Uh oh, we woke up Krystal” Julius gets up on his feet and walks to me, pulling me in his arms.
“How was your talk with Dean Martin?” I ask
“A little different from yours. She did not hold back how she felt. She said if it had been any other student, she would have fired me on the spot. You must have magic in your words”
I shrug “I guess. I was so scared. I thought I was going to pass out on her office floor.”
There is a knock at the door and I go to answer it
“Krystal wait you don’t have on pants” His words are too late. I open the door and see Nora. I immediately slam the door in her face.
Julius looks at me as if I’ve been bad. “That was rude”
“So was when she attacked me” I roll my eyes and go into the bedroom to retrieve my pants. When I come back out she is sitting on the couch smoking a cigarette. I walk up to her and pull it out from between her fingers. “Get cancer on your own time, please” I notice that she looks a lot more sober and healthier than she did on Thanksgiving but that doesn’t change how I feel about her.
I take it to the sink and put it out. When I walk back into the living room Julius is looking at me weird. “Krystal can you give us a minute?” I raise an eyebrow. “Seriously?”
He nods. I can’t believe he is doing this again. I’m good enough to stay here whenever I want but when Nora walks in, I have to leave. I scoop Beanie up in my arms and grab my coat. I’m spending my time defending our relationship and in the end I’m the one who has to go outside. Before I leave I stop next to Julius “When you keep sending someone away, they eventually don’t come back”
Beanie and I walk around until we find a small playground. I sit on the bench and toss the rope out for Beanie to fetch. I laugh as Beanie trips a few times falling on her face. She just shakes off the snow and keeps running.
“Hey, Half Pint”
I turn around and Jacob is walking towards me. I get up and nearly jump into his arms. “Hi, Jacob! What are you doing here?”
We sit on the bench and Beanie comes up to sniff him “I just came to see my bro, I heard y’all got caught. Is this your dog?”
I nod “Yep I found her, but she is staying with Julius since I can’t have her in the dorms and yes we got caught last night. They let us go, but asked that we keep it a secret to avoid a scandal of some sort”
Jacob wraps his arms around my shoulder and pulls me close.
“So how is your new girlfriend? Cassie right?”
He nods “Yep and it did not work out. She found out that she has to move across the country for a job so we decided to be friends”
“Aww I’m sorry. Jacob. Better luck next time. Don’t feel bad, it isn’t so swell in my neck of the words. Ask me why I’m out here”
“Why are you out here?” He frowns
“Julius asked me to leave because Nora showed up and he wanted to talk to her in private for a moment” I shake my head, still a little pissed.
“Damn. That is a shitty thing to do after all this drama that has gone down, you’d think he would see who is most important to him” He starts rubbing the back of my neck. I really can’t deny that something is still there between us, a spark of chemistry that won’t go away. I’d be lying if I said it’s not hard being just friends. Jacob has somehow always been there when Julius wasn’t. Not on purpose, but by chance.
When it begins getting too cold, I pick Beanie up and Jacob offers to take us on a mini road trip. I think about Julius and figure he is too busy talking to Nora to care if I leave. I’m safe with Jacob.
On the road, we sing country songs and make jokes. We end up going back to where Jacob lives. He lives on a small ranch with 2 horses. His house looks more like a cozy cabin and even has chopped wood on the side of the porch. When we go in, He starts a fire in the fire place and I let Beanie down to continue sleeping on the bear skin rug in front of the fire.
Jacob pulls a large blanket from the closet and wraps it around us as we take a seat on the couch. My phone rings and it’s Julius. I contemplate not answering but I at least want him to know I’m not kidnapped or anything.
“Where are you Krystal?” He sounds angry
“I’m with a friend. I’m fine. I wasn’t just going to sit and wait for you to call me back in. I’m not that kind of girl. I’ll talk to you later”
I hang up and sigh. Jacob rubs my arm and I smile. We talk about a lot of things, like school and the ranch. When the house warms Jacob asks if I want to help him make Chili.
While In the kitchen, we chop of peppers and things to go in it. “I like this. It’s so cozy and quiet here. I see why you get lonely from time to time”
“Yeah, but I would never live in town. I love it out here. Maybe one day someone can love it with me” He looks at me and smiles. I smile back knowing he is throwing little hints.
If I had to choose right now, I’d pick Jacob. He has treated me well from day one not caring if his best friend is jealous or not. He is a country gentleman and I like him. He reminds me a little of my grandpa. My parents aren’t the country type, but my pawpaw is. He takes me fishing and hunting all the time even though my parents don’t like it. I miss riding horses and being around animals. I tell Jacob about it and he says I can come whenever I want to ride the horses. I will definitely take him up on that offer.
When the Chili is on the stove, I lift myself up on the counter as Jacob loads the dishwasher. “So what do you think I should do about Julius?”
“Nothing. You aren’t the one with the problem, he is. He needs to figure out who is more important, you or Nora. If he picks Nora then he doesn’t deserve you” He closes the dishwasher and walks over to me.
“I just thought after we, you know, he would realize how much we mean to each other, but I guess that was stupid of me to think” I look down at my swinging feet feeling lousy.
“Hey, it’s good that you still have faith in people. In Julius, but you can’t make anyone see their own wrongs” He puts his hands on my knees and rubs them.
“I guess you’re right”
“Of course I’m right, Half Pint” He lifts me off the counter and puts me on my feet. I start to walk to the living room but Jacob catches my hand. I turn around and he is looking at me with his soft eyes. He pulls me to him softly and caresses my face. “Jacob-”
“Shh” He says softly as he his lips near mine. Something in me tells me that I shouldn’t do this but my body says something different. If Julius won’t put me first then why should I make him my first priority? When his lips touch mine, all the thoughts in my head disappear. I kiss him harder as I yearn for it more. I begin to panic and I push him back breathing hard “Jesus Jacob, why do you always do that?”
He smiles “It’s my charm”
I laugh and wrap my arms around him, hugging him tight. “I like you, Jacob”
“I like you too, half pint, but I can’t have you”
I feel a glimpse of sadness, “This must be torture for you”
“It is. All I ever want to do is hold you and kiss you.”
I giggle. This is the time Julius could have but instead Jacob has it. Maybe I should look at what’s in front of me and see who is putting me first
Because it certainly isn’t Julius.