Let Me Down Easy
I was in a foul mood. I shouldn’t be, there was nothing really that would cause me to be so ill-tempered. I stood by one of the large white pillars that surrounded the set. The pillars weren’t real marble, they were solely placed there for the video, so I didn’t lean against them, even though I really wanted to.
The crew kept their distance, pretending to be engrossed with their camera wires and their invisible sound problems. Cheryl wasn’t here yet, she would probably be pissed at me if she knew why I was acting so surly.
I tried to blame it on lack of sleep, I don’t think I slept more than two hours last night, my brain searched for a logical explanation, purposely avoiding the real reason, but I already knew it, I just didn’t want to say it out loud.
I sighed heavily, and pulled off my hat, running my free hand through my hair, wishing I brought my baseball cap with me, I was tired and cranky and...
It was because the door stayed shut.
All night long, and all morning. No matter how much I lingered near it, hoping for the slightest sound coming from the other end, resisting the urge to knock and call out her name, it stayed shut.
That white paneled door mocked me, tormented me with every minute that ticked by. I mentally scolded myself with each hour that passed. She had no reason to open that door, no reason to unlock it. Why should she? She didn’t belong to me, and I didn’t belong to her.
“Mr. Stone?” One of my younger crew members approached me with apprehensive eyes. I looked down sharply at him, probably answering him more harshly than I should,
“Yes? What is it James?”
“Uh, our sound guy, Boss, he sent me over to tell you that your guitars are ready, if you want to test 'em, you don’t have to.” he quickly picked up one hand and took a step back. His nervous expression sent a brief flash of empathy through me, and I forced myself to give him a friendly smile.
“Thanks James. I appreciate all your hard work. Tell Boss I’ll head over to the guitars in a few minutes so we can sound check them. I just want to ring up Cheryl real quick.” I began reaching for my cell phone.
My smile and kind tone put James at ease immediately, he grinned up at me in agreement, nodding his head, “Cheryl? I just saw her, with your model, they’re over in the makeup trailer, if ya want to see her...”
I don’t think I heard anything else he was saying, I was already taking long strides over to one of the few trailers parked near the left side of the set up, my boots making deep impressions in the fine dust-like sand that led to the walkway.
It was just my luck that Cheryl stepped out of the trailer before I could open the door. My hand was already outstretched, reaching for it.
I wanted to see her, see if she was all wide eyed and excited like I imagined her to be, or maybe she was tired, maybe she didn’t get any sleep either. My brain suddenly forgot how upset I was supposed to be, since my heart had perked up at the mention of Ara’s name.
Cheryl nearly collided with me as she exited the trailer, her cell pressed against her ear.
“Jackson. What are you doing here? Boss needs you to go sound check your guitars. I’m talking to him right now. Ara won’t be ready for another half hour or so.” Cheryl wouldn’t take no for an answer, even though I tried to sidestep her, she kept right up with me, waving her hand up near my face when I tried to lie that I was looking for her.
“I was just about to call you.” I tried again to move around her.
“Yeah yeah yeah, save it.” Cheryl hung up her phone, she could see right through me, “Come on, let’s go, I promise you it’ll be worth the wait. Ara’s looking fabulous, we chatted a bit this morning, I hear you had a long night huh?” Her words jerked me to attention, I even stopped walking and turned to face her.
“You heard what?” I was about to narrow my eyes at her.
Instead, Cheryl laughed, “Ara told me how you took your time to show her around, and how much she loved her room, and how comfortable her bed was, how well she slept, did you sleep well too?” she winked at me.
“Are you assuming I was with her last night?” Now I really narrowed my eyes at her.
The teasing light in Cheryl’s eyes quickly vanished and she blinked really fast, “Uh...well...I guess that’s what I thought at first, but now obviously.”
“She’s married Cheryl.” I started walking again, heading towards the rolling cart that held my guitars.
“Yeah well, so are you.” Cheryl didn’t let up, her voice changed, got more serious, “I’m not blind, I see that look in your eyes, besides, with all your requests, connecting door, the clothes, I thought you...”
“You thought wrong.” I cut her off harshly, wrapping my fingers around the first guitar that I could reach, “I won’t be treating her with anything but respect, and I most certainly won’t be spending the night in her room.”
Cheryl suddenly glared at me, her eyes boring into mine. “A true southern gentleman.” There was sarcasm in her tone, “That’s right, that’s who you are, everybody knows that. That’s what keeps Rick happy, that’s what keeps your band happy, that’s even what keeps me happy,but what about you, Jackson? Are you happy?”
She didn’t bother to wait for my answer. She spun around in a huff and headed back towards Boss.
I was about to follow her and tell her just how damn happy I was, and to quit poking her nose into my business, when that trailer door flew open again.
Just the vision standing there in the doorway was enough to make me forget what the hell I was thinking, or feeling.
All I could do was stare.
I couldn’t believe I was looking at myself in the mirror. I felt like a completely different person.
The girl starring back at me was beautiful, stunning, drop dead gorgeous. I was afraid to touch anything for fear of messing up all the makeup artist’s hard work.
“Well, what do you think Miss Ara?”
The makeup artist was a really sweet girl. She chatted with me nonstop all while working on me. There were times when I forgot what I was there for.
“Wow.” I breathed, “Is that really me?”
“It sure is Ma’am, and you are beautiful. Mr. Stone’s going to be real happy to see you.”
I turned to face her, trying to ignore that little jump, flip, thingy that my heart did at the sound of Jackson’s name, “You think so?”
“Oh yes Ma’am, I think he’s going to take one look at you and be speechless.” she giggled and I couldn’t help myself, I joined in, feeling like a school girl.
“Well, I hope I don’t mess it up.” I drew a big breath and grabbed the door handle.
“Not to worry Ma’am, I’ll be on hand if anything messes you up. There isn’t supposed to be any wind today and the temperature won’t rise for another hour or two, perfect conditions right now, but I’ll be on hand, just in case.” She smiled broadly at me, trying to reassure me. If only she knew what I really meant.
As soon as I stepped outside it was hard trying to act like I wasn’t in complete fascination with everything around me. I mean the hotel had completely blocked off this absolute darling, fairy tale piece of land that fell before my eyes.
Everything was green and fresh and blooming, there were great big trees and pretty stone pathways. Large white pillars graced the cobblestone patio, and sweet smelling flowers grew in perfect bunches, embracing the entire yard in a rainbow of color.
I especially loved the beautiful wooden, swinging bench that hung from this large oak tree. It was completely bewitching and magical.
I glanced down briefly, making sure I wouldn’t trip on the steps leading to the pathway, and carefully made my way along the cobblestone. My boots clicked almost daintily since I was nearly tip toeing, trying to keep myself presentable as possible. The wardrobe girl made me try on three different dresses before settling with this white cotton, summery dress. It was really beautiful with intricate stitching all along the bodice and some kind of glittery embroidery along the hem. I felt like a princess, a princess who had no idea what was going to be in store for her today.
My heart took another dive before I even made it to the end of the path. There standing near a large rolling rack of guitars was Jackson.
He was holding one of his guitars in his left hand, his frame almost frozen. He was facing me, looking gorgeous as ever, his charcoal grey hat resting on his head. He was all in black today. Black jeans, black, short sleeved button down shirt, and these awesome black boots that I guessed had to have cost a million dollars.
But what made my heart go into a frenzy wasn’t the way he was dressed, it was the way he was looking at me...
She was gorgeous.
And heading my way.
I forgot about everything, including the sound check that Boss and Cheryl were waiting for. I just took the guitar with me, holding it in my hand as I walked towards her. At that moment, I didn’t fucking care what anybody thought, I had to go up to her.
She smiled at me when her eyes finally met mine, she’d been looking around her, taking in the scenery, unaware that I was completely mesmerized and frozen in place watching her.
“Jackson! Good morning!” her voice was angelic, and excited. Her hair bounced around her shoulders with each step she took.
“Good morning. You look beautiful today.” I stretched out my hand to her, my heart already telling me to pull her into my arms.
“Thank you!” She shook my hand, and my brain automatically forced myself to let her go. She tilted her head, still looking up at me, “Quite the transformation what a little makeup and a curling iron can do, no?” She spread her arms around her smiling.
I shook my head at her, “That only enhances what was already there, you’re completely stunning, before, and after.” I was being honest, and her eyes lit up even more at my words.
“Thank you.” She said again, only this time her hand reached out and touched my forearm. Her fingers wrapped around my arm, near my wrist, and squeezed gently, but it was enough to make something snap inside me, and I found myself grinning at her, sliding my arm up around her shoulder, almost like a friendly hug.
“Come on over here, I’m just about to tune my guitars. Would you like to see?” I began leading her back to the rolling rack, not letting her go.
“Yes, I would love to see. Do you tune all of them?” She didn’t flinch, or pull away, but fell perfectly into step with me.
“Yes, all of them, it saves us time later, and I’m pretty sure we’ll both be thankful for that in about three hours.”
She laughed with me, her lips parting in merriment, her body briefly leaning against mine, it was genuine, what she was feeling, I could tell.
“Tyler, is the camera ready?” Cheryl was impatient, her hand shielding her eyes from the already rising sun, she was trying to get the attention of the large burly man standing next to her holding the video camera.
But he was watching Jackson and Ara, just like everyone else, not really sure if what he was seeing was real, but believing it all along. When Cheryl's sharp tone caught his attention, he turned to her briefly, and then quickly back to Jackson and Ara, not wanting to miss anything, “Everything’s ready to roll sweet thing.”
Cheryl watched in fascination as Jackson slid his arm around Ara's shoulders, he looked relaxed and happy, “Then let’s not waste any time, start filming right now, something tells me we don’t want to miss one minute of these two.”
“You got it darling...”
The feeling, completely serene. I wanted to close my eyes, but they refused to tear away from Jackson’s fingers. Those hands, so fluid, long lean fingers flying over the strings of his guitars, I had to keep shaking my head, trying to make my overactive imagination stop itself from envisioning what else those perfect hands could do.
And I was equally impressed with how he communicated with everyone around him, and how they responded. His words still commanded authority, but they were not harsh or demanding in any way. Jackson was sincerely a nice guy; polite, friendly, honest. His crew responded in kind, even cracking jokes with him as they worked. It was like being at this great big family BBQ, everyone relaxed, having fun, enjoying themselves.
Every time Jackson smiled, whether at me or one of his crew, I couldn’t shake or deny that my heart pounded just a little bit harder, or that voice in the back of my head kept repeating over and over how wonderful he was.
Once the guitars were all tuned, Cheryl approached us, all smiles. This very large muscular man stood by her side, I couldn’t see his face because he was holding this large video camera propped up on his shoulder.
“All right you two, it’s time to get this show on the road. Come on Ara, I need to get you out in the meadow, you see that big piece of grass, that was put there just for us. That’s where Jared needs you to be.”
Her words created a quick flutter in my stomach as I realized this was it, the real thing, I turned to Jackson nervously, he was still smiling at me, those green eyes gave me the encouragement I needed, and I nodded and took a step towards Cheryl.
“This here is Tyler, he’s one of our many cameramen, he’ll just follow you around, try not to look at him, pretend he’s not there. Jared, our director, will pretty much instruct you on what you need to do. It’ll be easy, I promise.” Cheryl’s voice put me at ease a little, and even though I tried, it was hard to pretend that big huge camera guy was not standing right smack next to me, filming my every move.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the scurry of Jackson’s crew, they were placing sound boxes and amplifiers in front of a plain white backdrop. They ushered Jackson over and he began playing one of his guitars, his head tilted down, concentrating, completely into his music. Another cameraman was standing in front of him, filming.
The way he stood, and played, it was just all so amazing. This was his video, and I wanted it to be perfect, I wanted to be perfect, for him.
I think I was done in about five minutes. I pretended to play about four different guitars for the video, mouthing out the words to the song. My camera guy filmed me in front of this white canvas backdrop. Later, the editing guys would piece it all together, right now I was anxious to go see what Jared was telling Ara. They were out standing in the middle of the grass, she would listen to him intently, and then Tyler would film her for a few minutes. They even had her sit down in the grass, her hands playing with a few of the green strands.
She looked like an angel, all bright and beautiful, I decided I didn’t want to disturb her, so I made my way over to this swinging bench, sitting down, letting my back rest against it, making it sway back and forth with my legs. I was content, just to watch her. She looked perfect, like she belonged there. This is what she was meant to do, be beautiful, treasured, and admired, and I so wanted to be a part of that. Every time she would smile at what Cheryl or Jared was telling her, I smiled too, and every time she laughed, her eyes would get all wide, making me chuckle too. This was the most comfortable and at ease that I had felt in years, it reminded me of the days I was still back home, surrounded by people who loved me, cared for me.
Some time later I could tell Jared was wrapping everything up, he shook Ara’s hand, said a few words to Cheryl and then turned to Tyler. Cheryl and Ara chatted for a bit and then Cheryl turned her body towards me, pointing at me and nodding at Ara.
I sat up a little straighter when I saw Ara making her way over to me. Her pretty white dress flowed gracefully just above her knees. She gave me a bright smile when she reached me.
“Hi!” she half picked up her hand in greeting, “Do you mind a little company?”
“Of course not,” I quickly patted the space next to me on the swing, “I’d love to have you join me. Did Jared tell you, if you were done for the day?”
“He's not done yet,” she sat down carefully, smoothing her dress in front of her, “He says we both have to go out there in about fifteen minutes. He wants to go inside, some video room, to see what he has so far, I don’t know what he’s going to make me do next.” She laughed nervously.
“Maybe a little singing, a little dancing, ” I joked, trying to help her relax. She giggled and leaned back into the swing, her head tilting upwards.
“This is the perfect time of day.” I offered, feeling myself relax next to her, “Before the sun gets too bright, not a lot of people around, everything still, quiet.”
“Yes,” she breathed, “I can feel it. It feels wonderful. So far everything has felt wonderful.” she turned her head to me, looking up at me with those gorgeous, round eyes. She was so close, and the urge to lean down to kiss her was weighing heavily on my shoulders. I didn’t know where everyone had disappeared to, and I didn’t care at the moment. She hadn’t turned away from me, she was still looking into my eyes. I could feel the tingle of anticipation sweep though me, my body knew what it was about to do.
“Do you know what this reminds me of?” Ara’s voice broke through my jumbled thoughts, and I didn’t answer her right away.
She didn’t seem to mind, my quietness, I guess she took it as me waiting for her to answer her own question, “When I was younger, still a little girl, I would get up early, before everyone was awake, and lay out in my backyard. My dad loves gardening, so I was always surrounded by grass and flowers and stuff, anyways, I would lay out there and watch the clouds float across the sky. Sometimes I thought, if you laid out there long enough, the clouds would tell you a story,” she paused then, her cheeks getting a brighter pink, she was either nervous again or embarrassed.
“I love watching the clouds.” I finally found my voice, I’d been captivated by her story, forgot about the want to kiss her, and intrigued by image of a young girl lying out in her backyard, surrounded by beauty, watching the clouds.
“You do?” The awe in her voice had returned, and so had her smile.
“I used to watch them too, when I was a boy. I still do, I mean, look up in the sky right now, do you see them? I always imagined them to be big white fluffs of cotton candy, like the kind you get at the fair.” I scooted just a bit closer to her and pointed at the sky. Her eyes followed my arm and finger, and she looked up, bright and excited.
I found myself leaning into her, my head nearly resting on her shoulder as I pointed out shape after shape, trying to make her laugh, loving the look on her face as she giggled at my words.
“I don’t think that one looks like mermaid, it has more of a round shape to it.” she was laughing, looking up at the sky.
“How about a pregnant mermaid then?” I raised one eyebrow at her and she chuckled, pushing her shoulder into me.
“No silly, I don’t think mermaid’s get pregnant, at least I never heard about a mermaid getting pregnant.”
“Okay, then, it’s a baby whale.” I offered, hoping that Jared and Cheryl would never return.
She laughed again, shaking her head, finally turning to me. She had to look down at me this time, as I had slouched down in my seat in order to look up at the sky with her, her chin nearly touched her shoulder as she watched me.
“You’re really nice.” she said softly, and her eyes, there was something in them, I could see it.
“Thanks,” I wasn’t sure how to answer her, “I try to be, I’m just a regular guy, nothing special.”
“Oh no...” she stopped herself then, and reached up with her hand, almost as if she were going to touch my face, but instead, her fingertips touched the rim of my hat, “That’s not true, everything about you is...special.”
“It’s just the hat, amazing what a hat can do huh?” I grinned at her, lifting the hat off my head, repeating her own words from earlier this morning.
She smiled, she got it instantly, “The hat just enhances what was already there.” she kind of wrinkled her nose at me, teasing me, “Special, awesome, funny.”
“Handsome?” I half joked, and she laughed again.
“Most definitely handsome.” she nodded, and I couldn’t help myself, my head was already turned to her, her pretty bare shoulder right in front of my eyes. I just let the tip of my nose brush against her arm, my eyes closing on their own.
I could hear her try to giggle again but it sounded more of a sigh than anything else, our bond was forming, whether it was friendship or something else, it was forming, right at that instant.
God this man was gorgeous, I just couldn’t figure out why he was paying all this attention to me. Why his wife wasn’t the one sitting here on this swing with him, telling him how great he was, watching him with the same pride that I was feeling, telling him how special he was, because he obviously didn’t think so, but most of all, why she wasn’t in his bed at night.
The night before had been long. I’m not sure I slept much. I know I spent the better part of the evening roaming around Jackson's suite, looking for clues about what kind of man he was.
There was only one picture near his bed, placed on the side-table, near a pretty white lamp. The picture was of two little boys. One just an infant. Those were his sons, I could tell, and I studied that photo for the longest time. That photo was the only thing I could find about his family. There was nothing else.
I almost left the door open. I spent nearly an hour debating what kind of woman would I look like if I left the door open. It would clearly be an invitation, right? I was puzzled enough with everything that was happening around me, I certainly didn’t want to give him the wrong impression, have him disappointed in me. So I closed that door and locked it. Sitting in my perfect little living room, all alone, watching that door, not sure what I waiting for? Trying to avoid that little bubble of hope that he would knock, and pushing down the disappointment when he didn’t.
So here I was, with this gorgeous hunk of a man, sitting right next to me. I could feel his breath on my shoulder, his cheek almost resting against my arm. It was all too much for me, it made me want things, things I shouldn’t want.
Yet I didn’t know how to tell him to stop. I didn’t really want him to stop, that little voice in the back of my head was actually encouraging me to lean down, to bring my face down to his.
And I might have, I really don’t know. All I do know is, that right when my brain was about to make that decision, both of us could hear the bustle of laughing and joking as Jackson’s crew made their way back outside, past the double doors of the hotel. Everyone had returned, and they all joked with one another as they fiddled with their equipment once again.
I could see Tyler retrieving his video camera from the tripod it was resting on. He was unscrewing it from the bottom, in this fast twirling motion.
Cheryl looked happy and animated as usual, and I noticed that this time Jackson’s band-mates were with her.
Jackson had suddenly sat straight up, his body moving away from mine as he looked towards the crew. He placed his hat back on his head as he watched them, not saying anything to me.
I wasn’t sure if his sudden change had anything to do with me, or even if I should say anything, but I was relieved when we both saw Cheryl waving us over to her. Jackson patted me briefly on my knee, “It looks like our time is up.” His voice sounded hollow, almost raw.
“Yes...” I began to rise, my knees still a bit shaky, “It sure does.”
I liked Dustin and Brett immediately. Dustin was funny and charming, Brett was polite and well spoken. I could tell instantly why the three of them made a perfect team, they all complimented each other so well.
“So this is Miss Ara. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you. Jack’s been talking about you nonstop,” I had to really pay attention to Dustin’s voice, his accent was so thick.
Brett shook my hand and looked at me the way you would look at a newborn baby. His eyes moved back and forth between Jackson and I, this little nod to his head as he did that. He offered me a very sweet, polite, nice to meet you.
Cheryl told me the makeup girl was waiting for me again, just to do a quick touch up because we had to get back out in the grass and there was really only one more hour before the sun got to hot to be outdoors. So we left the guys and headed back to the trailer.
“How’s everything going so far Ara? Are you liking it?”
“This is so crazy Cheryl,” I really couldn’t hide my feelings, “It’s like living a dream.”
Cheryl just laughed, “You’ll get used to it. I swear, some days I wake up with Dustin’s smelly socks hanging over the towel rack and think to myself, yup, every girl’s dream.”
We both chuckled as we entered the trailer.
My mood had improved immensely, and it was obvious. Jared was overexcited and on the verge of delirium during the last hour when neither Ara nor I complained as he shouted out directions for us to follow.
This was Jared’s first time directing my video with me as one of the main characters, so he was having a field day with it.
Plus I fucking liked it because I got to hold Ara’s hand, for the first time, and even though we were just supposed to be pretending, it sure felt real.
It was easy to get lost in the emotion of the song, there was a whole lotta love in it, and of course the heartbreak.
I personally liked the love part.
I didn’t even tell Jared beforehand, what I wanted, ahem, thought he should do with us during the video. I let him run with it, and I could tell, it was going to be good.
And since I got to touch her, and hold her hand, I sure wasn’t going to complain.
“All right Son...” Jared was the only one who was allowed to call me Son, “If you could just put your arm around our girl, your right arm, and kind of pull her close to you, that’s it. And Sweet Pea.” that’s what he’d taken a liking to calling Ara, and I wholeheartedly approved. “Don’t look at him, keep looking straight ahead, like if ya’ll are daydreaming.”
Both Ara and I moved around according to direction, sometimes not being able to help it, and burst out laughing, much to Jared’s exasperated sighs.
Our moods went from playful to laughter to mock seriousness, and it was all fun. It wasn’t until the end, one of the last scenes we were going to film, that I wasn’t pretending anymore, and I don’t think Ara was either.
Jared had sent us out into the middle of the grass over where the yellow wildflowers were growing. It was just us two and the directions Jared had given me were clear. I was suppose to pick Ara up, swing her around, and lower her down so that it looked like I was bringing her down to kiss me.
It was more torture than anything else.
I loved the picking her up part. She would always be smiling or laughing, he hair falling over her face. I loved the feel of her waist beneath my fingers, the feel of the pretty fabric of her dress. I loved that she would almost jump into my arms eagerly, bright with anticipation. Her hands on my shoulders. The sound of her laugh as I swung her around was better than any music I could ever create, and the way hair would feel as it brushed across my arms would just make me want to twirl her around more.
It was when I lowered her, watched her eyes and her face, how she would be this close to me, watch the way her mouth would open slightly, those pink lips soft and ready. Sometimes I could feel the faint whisper of her breath as it fell teasingly over my lips, I could already taste her.
And always...always at the last second, her eyes would grow so wide as they stared into mine, as if they were asking me, is this time going to be it? And each time I would lower her just a little bit closer to me, than the time before.
We did this four or five times, and every time Jared would yell cut right before her nose could touch mine, and every time I swore I could see disappointment in her eyes.
My patience was wearing thin.
“Okay folks, last one, then we’ll wrap it up for the day.” Jared wasn’t talking so much to me or Ara, but more to the crew, so they could start breaking down the set. He motioned us to go on ahead and give it one more go.
I told myself to keep it professional, that I only had to do this one more time today, half bribing myself that if I got through this then maybe I would ask Ara if she would like to have lunch, we could go somewhere quiet.
When I caught her in my arms and lifted her up, her eyes were already locked onto mine. They were dark, almost questioning, as they peered into mine. Her hands were on my shoulders, shaking as her fingers clutched my shirt tightly.
As I lowered her I could see her lips part, almost moving, maybe trying to say something, I don’t know if my muddled senses were even functioning properly. I could feel my blood rushing through me, sending my mind into overdrive. My hands tightening around her waist on their own accord, whatever it was in her eyes was on the verge of making me lose it.
I might have stayed in control, I might have been able to do this...but right as her nose was about to touch mine, right before I knew Jared would yell out cut, she did something, something different.
Her lips had already parted, and I heard it, a faint whisper, ”Jackson." She said my name, it just escaped her, and her head tilted, not even an inch, just the tiniest of a tilt, but it was enough, more than enough, and I don’t think either one of us heard Jared yell cut.
I lowered her face down to mine, tilting my head in the opposite direction, finally feeling the softness of her lips, drinking her in like a drunken man, wrapping my arms around her as her feet touched the ground, pushing her hair away from her face, completely losing myself in her, in her kiss.
And it felt real.
So real, that I could feel her fingers wrap themselves around the back of my head, feel her body nestle perfectly into mine, feel the sweetness of her lips as she kissed me back.
She didn’t pull away, she clutched me close to her, just as hard as I was holding her into me, and she kept right on kissing me, letting me kiss her, until maybe the fifth time we heard Jared yell cut.
“All right all right!” He was walking towards us, his voice holding just a bit of bewilderment, “You can stop now Son. That was perfect, a bit overdone, but we can fix that.” his voice trailed off.
I wanted to let Ara go slowly, softly, but I guess Jared’s words and his presence startled her and she jerked herself away from me as if she touched fire. Her body turned away from me and she ran her hand through her hair, holding herself immobile for a few seconds.
Jared didn’t say anything else, he kept watching me, waiting for me to say something. I found myself feeling torn between reassuring Ara, to telling Jared to leave us alone.
“Thanks Jared,” My voice was probably louder than normal, “you’ll let me know when it’s done in editing?”
“Uh, yeah, sure Son, two days tops. I’ll call you.”
By now Cheryl had made her way over to Ara and a few of the crew were already around us, taking apart a few of the decorative pieces from the background.
“Jackson, I’m going to take Ara back to the make up trailer and get her changed, we’ll meet you down in the lounge for a late lunch okay. Are you still up to going to Billy’s concert tonight? His manager called to confirm. Jackson?”
It was all moving around me too fast, and whatever I thought I had seen or felt, I couldn’t confirm it anymore, or even it ever existed.
“You can take Ara, I bet she would love to go with you.” Cheryl’s words finally captured my attention, and I focused on her words, turning to her.
“Yes, of course,” I had gotten it under control again, “You can tell them yes, I’ll be there, Billy puts on a fantastic show.” And I knew I shouldn’t be wearing my heart on my sleeve anymore, so I started to make my way back towards those tall white pillars, picking my hand up, letting Cheryl know I was done.
I made him angry.
He wouldn’t even talk to me anymore.
He just turned and walked away.
It was all my fault.
And I felt miserable.
Cheryl tried to soothe it over. Made small talk with me as we walked over to the make up trailer, but by now I just wanted to cry.
It felt like everyone was looking at me differently, and I guess they should be, because now I was just like any other girl, just like all those other girls who threw themselves at Jackson Stone.
And to make matters worse, despite all the guilt and regret I knew I was going to carry for a long time.
It was everything I ever dreamed of, and nothing like I ever experienced. It changed the way I looked at my life, the way I looked at everything, including Jackson...