Tomorrow

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Somebody Like You

Jackson

She sat across from me with those wide brown eyes, watching my every move, her hands placed modestly in her lap. At first she wouldn’t say much, answer my questions with a nod of her head, a small smile on her face, her cheeks blushing bright pink. I didn’t press her, I’d guessed she would be nervous, and shy, her eyes would dart around the plane, looking for an escape whenever I asked her a new question. But slowly, as the minutes ticked by, she seemed to relax, to smile at me more, to trust me.

She was fascinating, and unbelievably adorable.

To help ease her into talking, I told her a bit about myself, a bit of how I grew up, about my love for music. I even shared with her some ideas I had about new songs. Her eyes seemed to devour my every word, and she listened to me intently, cocking her head to the side, not noticing when her hair would fall over her shoulders, brushing against her cheek.

When I showed her my leather binder, her eyes brightened and sparkled as if she saw a rare gem.

“All your songs are in there?” Her voice was full of wonder, and I was only too happy to share this with her.

“Most of them are, the complete collection is at the studio, and my songwriting team has a copy.” I held out the binder to her, smiling warmly, “Would you like to see it?”

She didn’t answer right away, only looked at me all radiant and glowing, “Really? Can I?”

Her face and her voice could have easily brought me to my knees, “Yes of course. The last one, the one called Broken, that’s the song you are going to be in.” I let the binder slide down onto her lap.

She held out her hands eagerly, but opened it carefully, her fingers gliding slowly down each page, just a featherlight touch, but it spoke volumes to me. She didn’t flip through it quickly, like I thought she would, no, she savored it, studied it, not bothering to say anything, just letting her fingers touch my words, touch my thoughts.

When she reached the end, reached Broken, there was a change in her breathing, I could see it, her chest rose and fell quicker, and near the end of the song, she held her breath, slowly letting it escape her one word at a time. She seemed to be enraptured with my scribbles and hash marks, and her fingers ran softly over the tiny words along the margins.

That was the first time in my entire life that I got to see, a real reaction to my songs. She didn’t know the melodies to Broken yet, all it was to her, were words, but they were powerful enough to make her feel something, and all these emotions seemed to run across her face as she read.

When she was done and handed my binder back to me, her eyes bore into mine as if she had a million questions to ask me. I had to find someway to change the subject, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay in control if we kept talking about me, or this song.

So I asked her the most basic questions. Things I already knew about her. I was not the patient type, I had her background checked out probably before she even made it home from the concert that night. I had to know everything I could about her, and I had to know it, now.

The file that came back about her was so thin, I thought for sure half her life had to be missing, but then I read it, and smiled through the whole thing.

Now I was hearing her talk about it, and sure enough, both matched up perfectly.

I learned that she lived in the same small town all her life, that she was an only child, that she still talked to her best friend all the time.

I learned that she excelled in school, got fabulous grades, was a perfect role model and a wonderful daughter.

I learned that she loved living in Terra, loved knowing everyone’s name, loved taking care of their children at the preschool where she worked.

What the file didn’t show me was that she was a beautiful, caring, and compassionate woman. She loved her family, her surroundings, her life, she believed in people easily, I could see the spark in her eyes as she told me about herself, and her little town.

Hearing about her childhood kept me spellbound, her words flowed so seamlessly, creating such a vivid picture in my head, each word she spoke left me wanting more, needing more.

“Sometimes after school, Mrs. Butler would be waiting for us outside when we walked by her store, her and Mr. Butler were the nicest couple in town, Mr. Butler would be inside tending the store and she would be outside, sweeping or tidying up, she would always have a treat for us, an ice cream, or a candy bar, so later on, when we were older, as soon as the last bell rang, we would head on over to help her, unpack boxes of merchandise or stock the shelves for them. When she passed away a few years ago almost everyone in town attended her funeral. Now, it’s just Mr. Butler running the store, and even though we are all grown adults, we still show up at different times to see if he needs anything.”

I could tell she cared a great deal about these people, her eyes shone brightly with affection as she continued to tell me about them. She had the same look as she told me about her parents.

“I talk to my mom almost everyday, and if we both can make the time, we go have lunch together on the weekends. She spends most of her time volunteering at the retirement home that my grandma once stayed at. I think it holds a lot of memories for her there.” Ara’s voice trailed off then, I knew she was lost in thought at the moment, probably thinking about her grandmother.

I just watched her silently, enjoying be able to simply look at her, study her.

We were nearly in Dallas by then, she looked up at me finally.“Saturday’s are the best, to visit with my mom, Clint always works on Saturdays.”

My head turned to her sharply. Hearing her say that name out loud jolted me back to reality, and I finally asked her the unspoken question that I’d been shoving to the back of my mind during our flight, I finally asked her about her husband.


Ara

It took me a while to find my senses. Every time I looked at Jackson all my brain would do was holler at me that this was Jackson Stone, famous country music star, sitting in front of me.

I tried avoiding his eyes at first and answering his questions the quickest way possible.

He didn’t seem to get annoyed with me, nope, not at all, in fact, the twinkle in his eyes shone brighter and brighter as the minutes ticked by, and his smile would always make my heart jump.

I’m not even aware when it happened., the shift from being completely apprehensive to talking to him as if I’d known him forever.

Maybe it was because he shared with me something I felt was so intimate, so private, I was positive my hands were shaking when he handed me that leather binder completely filled with his music, his words.

The second I opened it I lost myself in it. It was like reading his diary, his personal thoughts. There were words scratched out, and then put back in. There were complete lines and sentences with no endings, and out on the margins were all these lonely single words, simple tiny expressions that didn’t seem to fit in anywhere, but yet conveyed the exact emotions of the songs, all the same.

But it wasn’t until I read Broken, that left me with so many unanswered questions, about him, about his life.

My fingers seemed to burn as they slid over the page. Far off I could hear him tell me that this was song I was going to be in, and for the life of me, I couldn’t understand why.

I could tell this song was going to be beautiful, and haunting, and full of love. I could almost hear the music for it, it was just the way the words flowed together, the way they rhymed. I knew this song would be an instant hit for him, because it already was for me.

Still, when I finished reading and looked back up into his eyes I thought I could see it, here was a man who had everything, but looking into his eyes, at that minute, gave me the sense that he felt he had nothing.

He broke our gaze quickly, and before I could ask him anything about his songs, his music, he shifted the conversation away back to me, to my life.

I hope I didn’t bore him, as I talked, he didn’t look bored, but I knew my life was as simple and dull as his was exciting and full, but that didn’t seem to faze him.

And he wanted to know everything, so I told him about my childhood days, skipping rope at the park, my summers at the lake with my parents, sleeping over Jolene’s house during my teen years, working with children at my job, and finally about me visiting my parents, having lunch with my mom. He never interrupted, never broke our gaze, seemed completely and genuinely interested.

“My family’s my rock.” I smiled at him, tilting my head a little bit, “Since I’m the only child, I always try to find time to spend with my mom. Taking her out to lunch, or shopping. The weekends are usually the best time for us, I work during the week and Mom volunteers at the retirement home my grandma used to stay at, Saturday’s are the best, Clint always works on Saturdays.” My voice trailed off, for some reason saying Clint’s name out loud sounded weird to my ears, making me uncomfortable all of a sudden.

Jackson’s smile didn’t waver, nor did his body language change, but there was a flicker in his eye, a crash of emotion, or maybe I was just imagining it, but then he asked me...

“Clint is your husband? How long have you two been married?”

And I don’t know why, but I didn’t want to answer him, I didn’t want to talk about Clint.

“Yes,” I forced myself to say politely.“He’s my husband, we’ve been married almost six years.”

Jackson still didn’t move, he acknowledged my answer with a brief smile, “That’s quite an accomplishment, six years.”

I didn’t know if he was praising me or not, his voice had changed, not harsh or anything, just sort of flat, and my nervousness had returned, so I just smiled stiffly back at him, trying not to start fiddling with my hands.

“Thank you.” My voice sounded like a whisper even though I knew it wasn’t. I struggled to think of something else to say, something to change the subject, but my mind was blank.

“What does he do? Your husband?” The flatness to his tone was still there, it was completely perplexing me.

“He works for his uncle’s lumber company, and well, he just got a new job, driving, truck driving. He hauls the lumber from place to place. He’s somewhere out in Oregon this week.” I was rambling, I could hear it.

But Jackson seemed to brighten at my words, he didn’t say anything else, but he leaned back into his seat after that, and the affection returned in his voice, “Sounds like he’s a hard working man.”

Again, I was thrown off at the tone of Jackson’s voice, “Yes...yes he is.” was all I could say.

This time it was my turn to break our gaze, I didn’t know how to talk about Clint to Jackson, how to describe my feelings for Clint, it just didn’t feel right, so I glanced out the window, pretending to be interested in the bright blue sky, that’s all I could see, just lots and lots of blue.

Jackson stayed quiet, but I could still feel his eyes on me. I think he wanted to ask me more about my life, about my husband, but he didn’t press further.

The quietness between us didn’t last very long, almost on cue, Cheryl appeared standing at our side.

“Sorry to interrupt, but our plane will touch down in about twenty minutes. Our car is already waiting for us at the airport Mr. Stone. You’re scheduled to view the hotel first and then head for the venue for a rehearsal. There shouldn’t be any delays.”

Cheryl spoke in a polished and professional tone, looking at the phone in her hands the entire time, when neither Jackson or I said anything to her in reply her head snapped up to look at us both.

“Oh screw this... Jackson you have fifteen minutes to clean up your crap you have scattered all over these seats,” her arms waved around her erratically, “We don’t have time to waste, I got the rooms you asked for, and boy was that a hassle to do without raising eyebrows, so you can’t linger there too long, I have to get Ara fitted, and no, you can’t stay for that because you have rehearsal.” she said this all very fast and I didn’t understand half of it. but Jackson just grinned at her, like a boy being chastised by his mother, the lines around his eyes crinkled with merriment, and he looked over at me.

“Ara, this is Cheryl, the real Cheryl, I don’t believe you’ve met her yet.” He chuckled, and just like that, we were all relaxed again.

“I think I like the real Cheryl,” I smiled up at her, “she reminds me a lot of my best friend.”

Cheryl gave out a little huff, but she was smiling back at us, “Whew, I thought I was going to have to call you Mr. Stone forever, thank God Ara’s cool...”

This time Jackson laughed, and began gathering up his papers and binder, shoving everything into this black briefcase. Cheryl began clicking on her phone turning away from us, “Oh and be ready for the heat, this is Dallas after all.”


Jackson

It was hot all right, the minute we stepped off the plane you could feel the heat swarming over you like a blanket. I was grateful that our car was waiting just like Cheryl said it would be, but I was even more grateful that Cheryl did what I asked her to do and got a second car for herself.

We didn’t have to walk far at all, just a few short paces, but even in that short distance I wanted to grab onto Ara’s hand and lead her over to the vehicle that awaited us. It took willpower, but somehow I managed to stay in control.

The driver quickly opened the door and both Ara and I could feel the cool air from the air conditioner working in full force.

She slid in gracefully, her eyes, once again, full of awe at her surroundings. Finally I could sit next to her, right next to her, my leg pressed fully against hers, I praised Ford silently for providing me with unlimited access to any, and all of their vehicles.

“Wow.” Ara breathed, “This is beautiful.”

“It’s one of a kind.” I let my hand slide over the rich dark leather of the seats, “Custom made.”

“Just for you?” her head turned to me in wonder.

Just for us, I wanted to say. “Yes, just for me.”

“Oh...” she breathed again, “It even smells new.” Her hand touched the inside of the door, her fingers grazing all the little buttons.

“I just got it, a few weeks ago. This is actually my first time in it, you like it?”

“Like it? How about love it?” Ara laughed, her voice excited, almost musical.

“Love is even better.” I teased wanting to put my arm around the back of her seat.

“But where’s Cheryl? Isn’t she coming with us?” Ara looked up at me in question and then turned to the window, peering out.

“Cheryl always takes her own car. She has a few appointments to attend to, she’ll be meeting up with us later.”

“She’s really different, has she always been your assistant?”

“Not always...she became Dustin’s wife first, Dustin’s my guitarist. It wasn’t until after they got married that she took over controlling our lives.” I joked, “But in all seriousness, Cheryl is the glue that holds our band together, she is extremely smart and talented, and knows her business. None of us would be where we are without Cheryl.” I wanted Ara to understand the role Cheryl played in our lives, to understand why Cheryl would play a huge role in her own life too.

“That’s incredible.” Ara eyes flew over my own as she processed all this information I was feeding her, “She’s married to your guitarist, no wonder she’s so comfortable around you.”

“She’s more than comfortable, she acts like my mother, ordering me and the guys around, she keeps us in line.” I chuckled.

“Is she like, your wife’s best friend?”

The question hung there, almost making me choke, I didn’t know how to answer that. While I had played out in my head everything I would ask Ara, and everything we might possibly discuss, never once did I imagine we would talk about Layla. I don’t know why.

“Best friend? Um...no...no she’s not. Layla’s schedule doesn’t allow time for that, I mean, my wife is very busy in New York, filming, and Cheryl...Cheryl is always here with us. They don’t have much time to mingle, with their schedules and all.” I could hear my voice quiver at the mention of Layla, and I wondered if Ara noticed that. She just nodded at my words, accepting them silently.

It left me flustered, and the next few minutes passed without conversation. I dwelled in my own thoughts, feeling a bit frustrated with myself, I thought I was so prepared for this, I realized that I would eventually have to talk about Layla and I dreaded it.

I didn’t snap out of my funk until we reached the hotel. Normally I didn’t stay at hotels during my tours, my bus fit my needs well enough, but now I had Ara, and I wanted to show off a little bit.

Cheryl once again had done her job excellently. There was no need for checking in, a doorman was waiting privately for our car at the back entrance. He knew immediately whom he was expecting and addressed us as so. With quick broad strides we were escorted through the luxurious hallways, our shoes tapping on the marbled floors. There was only one private elevator that would take us right up to our entrance, only one way up to the penthouse suites.

“Here you are Mr. Stone.” the doorman didn’t step out of the elevator, he didn’t need to, the doors opened right out into the outer foyer of our rooms. There was no need for key codes or cards of any sort, my thumbprint was all it took to get the doors to open, and I knew that the doorman would not move from his position of guarding our elevator, or allow anyone to come up beside those I put on a secured list. Ara and I would be safe and alone here.

I was actually looking forward to this part, couldn’t wait to see her face when I opened the door for her.

And I was right.

She was already looking at me with astonishment when I pressed my thumb above the lock on the double doors, but when they opened, that’s when the gasp of amazement escaped her.

“Welcome to your home away from home Miss. Ara.” I waved my hand out in front of us. I stepped inside and she followed me, her eyes taking in everything before her.

It was perfect, both the suite and her reaction, just perfect.

“Let me show you around.” Again I wanted to reach for her hand, it was right there, this close. Yet still, I resisted, walking right up into the middle of the large living area. “This is your living room, it should be well equipped with everything you need to make you feel at home. The television is inside the wooden hutch over there, and both ends of this sofa here recline and rock.”

Her eyes were roaming everywhere, moving from chair to chair, and then back to me. I showed her the study area with her own desk and computer, the kitchen and bar area, stocked and filled with every possible drink known to man. She really loved the marble island that stood on carved, antique wooden legs and had a built in sink. Her face just looked so angelic, so trusting...

“And over here, behind these doors is your bedroom.” I briefly touched her arm, making it look like I was trying to capture her attention, I led her down some carpeted steps and pushed open one of the large brown wooden doors that held her sleeping quarters.

“Oh!” Her voice was high, full of awe and amazement. “This is so beautiful.”

“I’m happy to hear that, I was hoping you would like it, it was designed for you.” The last part just slipped out, I hadn’t meant for her to know that yet.

“For me?” she spun around to face me, her smile flashing across her face.

“Well yes.” I was at lost for words at first, then decided to be honest, “Everything you see was flown in from Nashville, the furniture, the linens, the bed.”

“It’s absolutely gorgeous, thank you Jackson.”

She was flushed and happy, and walking right towards me, her sweet words still floating through my ears. When she reached me, she stopped, just for a second, and then slid one slender arm across my back, giving me sort of a sideways hug, a friendship hug.

I almost turned around, so that I would be facing her, so that I could feel the entire length of her body pressed to mine, I almost did, but I knew, if I wanted this to work, that I couldn’t do that here, now, so I allowed her brief touch, tried to memorize the feel of her arm, resisted to urge to slide my own arm around her and bring her closer.

“You’re welcome Ara, it’s my pleasure.” My voice sounded gruff, raw, so I pulled away quickly and ushered her back out of the room, “Let me show you the dining area, it’s over here.”

She seemed content with my answer and was once again fascinated with the room around her. She touched the centerpiece on the table gently, her voice indicating that she loved the sweet smell of the tulips that were surrounded by an array of different flowers. The ran her hand over the mantle of the fireplace, marveling at the delicate carved design etched into the dark mahogany wood.

Finally she found herself standing in front of a single designed door. It blended into the wall beautifully, so it didn’t stand out in any way, yet she found it, like I knew she would.

“Oh what’s this one for? Is this a closet?” her hand rand up and down the white wood before resting on the brass doorknob.

“No.” I headed over to her, “No, that’s not a closet.”

“It’s very pretty, even the doorknob has a bit of sparkle to it, maybe it’s hiding an ironing board.”

That made me chuckle. “There’s no ironing board in here Ara, if you need anything to be pressed we’ll just call for housekeeping service. They’ll do anything you ask.”

“They will? Even iron?” Her eyes had that childlike wonder in them again and I found myself reaching out for her, wanting to hold her in the worse way. Instead I let my hand close around the doorknob resting right below her hip.

“They’ll iron, dry clean, provide room service, bring you flowers, whatever you’d like.” The knob turned in my hands and I let the door sway open, “They have strict orders to pamper you in every way, but if they don’t leave you alone, you can always hide in here.”

“What’s in there?” Her head was probably spinning by now, and that was good, because I didn’t want to give her the wrong impression, even if it was the wrong impression.

“This is my room.” was all I said.


Ara

Cheryl was talking on her cellphone and driving at the same time. I felt like I was in some kind of NASCAR race, zooming through the streets of Dallas watching it fly by my window in a blur, the colors all blending together like some crazed rainbow. It matched the chaos in my head.

“This is my room.” Jackson said, and that’s when the crazy started, at least in my world.

He didn’t hesitate at all, just walked right into it, waiting for me to follow him.

Jackson’s suite wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before. It felt like I was stepping into a large grand house. The entire place was beautiful, gorgeous, and masculine, just like him. You could see the the tiny hints of country, or Nashville, if you will, all around it. Just tiny glimpses, reminders of his home.

I don’t even remember what I said anymore, I was on autopilot now, following him around like a lost puppy.

I could see a gorgeous sea green guitar resting against the large picture windows, beautiful canvassed prints, illustrating the wide open spaces of green grass and grand oak trees hung along the walls, and a noble red cherry wooden rocking chair was placed in the corner, draped with some kind of luxurious silky looking throw.

My brain kept right on spinning, and I found myself wanting to ask him why he was staying here with me, or if his other band members had a room here too. He was telling me something about this type of wood he liked, how it was easy to carve, but my mind was refusing to concentrate, it just kept going over and over how close we were going to be with each other.

When Jackson reached the end of his tour, he paused and faced me, his eyes searching mine for just a second, but he didn’t give me any time to say anything, Cheryl was already calling him on his cellphone, telling him his car was waiting for him.

“I’ll leave you here to look around, make yourself comfortable. Feel free to hang out here if you like this room better. I won’t be back until very late tonight. I know Cheryl is taking you out for some fittings, if you get back before me you can roam around either suite.” his eyes kept right on staring into mine, almost as if they were asking me a silent question.

“Also Ara, the door, the one that connects our suites, it locks, on both ends.” That’s the last thing he said before he left.


“Okay Ara, here we are, you ready to do some shopping?” Cheryl’s voice jolted me out of my thoughts and I looked up at her in surprise.

“Are we here yet?” I glanced around me, “Where are we?”

“My secret hideaway, and my favorite way to shop.” she giggled, “Come on, let’s go.”

The place arrived at looked like a very aged, glamorous home, elegant and comfortable, there was a tall man at the door who offered us champagne in beautiful crystal glasses when we walked in.

“Cheryl! How wonderful to see you!” An older, strikingly beautiful brunette woman seemed to appear from nowhere, her arms outstretched to Cheryl, a bright smile on her face.

“Miss London! How are you gorgeous? I’ve missed you!” Cheryl seemed just as happy to see this London as London was to see her.

“It’s been too long darling, now who’s this beauty you have here? She’s a stunner.” Miss London’s eyes were friendly, and her personality was captivating, I found myself liking her instantly.

“This here is Arabella James, she is a friend of Jackson’s and ours, she’s going to be in our new video. We need to get her fitted.” Cheryl smiled at me affectionately.

“Oh marvelous! I’ll be happy to fit her. What kind of look are we going for? Exotic, she would model that look perfectly with those eyes, or maybe pure glamour, some pearls and fur?”

Cheryl just shook her head, and giggled at the horror that was probably crossing my face at the moment.

“No Miss London, nothing like that, we’re going for Country, pure Country. You see the legs on this girl? Well that’s what we want to showcase, and all this wavy brown hair, I know you have something to make this girl just pop.” Cheryl winked at me, and it didn’t make me feel any better.

“Oh wait.” Miss London studied me quietly for a moment, her eyes running over my face and hair, “Oh yes, he called me, told me what he wanted, and I have it, for you darling, it’s all right here on the rolling racks next to the dressing room. Come with me.”

“He what?” Cheryl was voicing out loud the exact thought I had rolling around in my head, but Miss London didn’t elaborate on Cheryl’s question, she just nodded and smiled some more, ushering both us to follow her into the back.

When she said rolling racks my mind conjured up this image of two small racks, something you might have in your laundry room to dry clothes, my mind didn’t conjure up the scene that I walked into.

There were at least a dozen racks, if not more, each of them had to be over eight feet long, and packed full with clothing. Next to those racks were rows and rows of shoes, all kinds of shoes, heels, boots, sandals, all stretched for what seemed like miles.

It took hours, and then more hours, to try all those clothes on. Cheryl vetoed over half of them faster than I could change into them. I was tired after fifteen minutes, but we kept on, there were dresses, and more dresses, then came the jeans, some too tight, some too loose...skinny leg...bootcut.

The shorts were next, I felt naked in a few of those shorts, but loved the ones with the fringe on the end, Cheryl loved them too. There were low cut blouses that would have put my reputation to shame back home in Terra, and then there were those sweet, light, billowy sleeved tops that seemed to drape over my frame, they were romantic and pretty, and Cheryl gave a thumbs up to those, much to my delight.

By the third hour the three of us were verging on exhaustion, and Miss. London called in the same tall man we saw at the door. He brought us glasses of chilled sparkling water, and tiny slivers of fresh fruit dipped in some sort of cream or yogurt. It was the perfect snack that seemed to revive us.

“Is all this for the video?” I took another sip of my water, I kid you not, this was the best water I had ever tasted.

“The what?” Cheryl frowned at me, “Video? You think this is for the video?” Then she burst out laughing... “Oh Ara, even I wouldn’t go through all this trouble for the video. No silly, this is for you, just for you, to wear, while you’re here with us, and then to keep I guess, Jackson didn’t tell me that part.” she tilted her head in thought.

I just stared at her stunned. “Me?” “Mine?”

“Yes.” Cheryl chuckled again, “You...yours.”

“She’s adorable no?” Miss London turned to Cheryl, the same look of delight on her face.

“Isn’t she.” Both ladies began talking as if I weren’t in the room, “And you see the way she looks today, I can’t wait to see the look on her face tomorrow.”


Jackson

“Did she like them? The clothes I mean?” I was heading back from rehearsal stretched out in the backseat, my phone pressed against my ear.

“I wish you could’ve seen her face Jackson, she loved them, well most of them. Some of them...err...let’s just say we don’t know what you were thinking.”

I gave out a small chuckle at Cheryl’s words, my mind trying picture Ara’s face when she saw all the clothing.

“And those flowery summer dresses, you hit the jackpot with those, we kept all of them, every single one of 'em, because they looked good, no, not just good, they looked hot on her Jackson, I’m not kidding.”

“Really? All of them?” I tried desperately to remember which summer dresses I had picked out from London’s catalog.

“The girl has great legs, but I’m sure you noticed that already, and she’s super sweet and fun. Miss. London took to Ara right away, and you know how rare that is for Miss. London. I was almost jealous, it took London months before she would let me pick anything out from her designs.” I was hardly listening to Cheryl anymore, my car had arrived back at the hotel.

“Is everything set for tomorrow?” I asked hastily, reaching for the door handle, anxious to get out.

“Yup, all set.”

“Great. Thanks Cheryl. Have a good night.”

“You too Jackson, and don’t forget...behave.” She was teasing, but at the same time, serious.

“I will.” I answered automatically, but I already knew, there would come a point where I wouldn’t behave, wouldn’t have the control to behave, I just didn’t know when.

The entrance to my suite mirrored the entrance to Ara’s suite, it was just a little further down the hall, and I walked into it quickly, tossing my leather jacket carelessly across one of the sofas. I wanted to see, completely ansty to see, if that door was opened.

When it came into my view, I could tell it was closed, and when I quietly turned the doorknob, careful not to disturb her, it was locked.

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