The last thing I wanted to do the next day was see Jesse, so I made sure I did some of the work in the barn in the morning before he arrived. Then I hibernated the rest of the day. I called Sara to come over but she was volunteering and promised to come by the next day.
My father and I were about to have dinner when someone knocked at the door.
I peeked out the peeping whole and ran to the kitchen, “I don’t want to talk to him so tell him I am not here or sick or whatever.”
“What happened?” he asked as he went to get the door.
“I made a fool of myself,” I sighed as went to hide behind the stairs.
“Hey Jesse,” my father said.
“Hey Joe, can I talk to Jennifer?”
“She’s not feeling too good,” my father lied for me, “I could give her message.”
“Can I see her anyways; maybe I could bring her dinner up to her?”
“You know what, I think she would love that but I think I hear the shower running.”
“So she’s avoiding me and she is getting you to cover for her,” Jesse finally said after a few moments, “Fine, just tell her I’ll see her tomorrow.”
“Wait,” my dad said, “Remember what I told you? I don’t want you to hurt my daughter.”
“I didn’t mean to,” he said, “I don’t even know if I did because evidently she doesn’t want to talk to me or even see me for that matter.”
“My daughter is stubborn,” I shook my head as I heard my dad speak, “But so are you from what I’ve been hearing from everyone.”
“I kissed her,” Jesse blurted out.
I covered my eyes with my hand as I couldn’t believe Jesse was talking to my father about this.
“Actually, she kissed me to be more exact,” Jesse said.
It took a while for my father to reply, “So what seems to be the problem?”
“Well, I kind of pulled away and I just, I need to talk to her Joe, I’m sorry if I hurt her but it was sudden and I didn’t know if kissing her was a smart thing to do.”
“Okay, I could stay here and chat with you all night about this but I get the feeling the person you really want to talk to is my daughter.”
“Can you maybe give me her cell number?” he asked, “I know, it sounds weird that I don’t have it but I’ve never had to call her before.”
I heard my dad recite the number, “Have a good night.”
“Thank you,” Jesse said, “and tell her I’m sorry.”
I climbed out from hiding, “You really had to give him my number?”
He nodded, “What happened?”
“I kissed him and he pushed me away as you already heard, then he couldn’t even explain himself and I felt like a complete idiot but I should have known because I told him I was falling in love with him and he didn’t even say anything. I’m so stupid to think a guy like him could ever fall for a girl like me.”
“I don’t think you should be ignoring him.”
“I’m not; I just had things to do inside.”
“Okay well, you know what you are doing, you also know how you feel.”
We had dinner in silence as my mind was wandering.
When I got to my room, I checked my cell phone; I already had five missed calls and one message from Jesse telling me to call him.
Sara came over the next day before noon and while Jesse was helping Mary with jumps, I saddled up Snowflake and Gerry soon after we headed out for a trail ride.
“So what’s going on?”
I told Sara what happened, “I knew you had a thing for him.”
“This isn’t exactly the time for I told you so’s.”
“Just talk to him, so what if he doesn’t want you the way you want him. It hurts but don’t show him you’re a runner, you’re not, you’re tough and you need to show him that he can’t get to you.”
I smiled, “This is why I called you.”
“It’s why you always do,” Sara pointed out.
“I know this sound weird but I sort of look up to you, you’re the one who gives me the push I need when I am down. My mom can’t but I know you will always have my back, I know I could count on you.”
“That means a lot to me,” Sara smiled, “and I will always be here for you.”
When we got back, Mary told me that Jesse took his half day.
The next morning I went out to the barn, Jesse wasn’t there yet and I went into my office to do some of the paper work.
“So is this how it is going to be?” Jesse showed himself into my office closing the door behind him, “You are going to avoid me?”
“I am not avoiding you.”
“So then where have you been the last two days?”
“Nowhere, I’ve been doing my work and I have been training.”
“I haven’t seen you train.”
“I’ve been doing it in the evening.”
“Because I have been busy during the days.”
“I’ve been calling you.”
“I’ve been busy.”
“So busy you couldn’t call me back?”
“Was there something you needed to talk to me about?” I asked.
“Okay, well what is it?”
When he didn’t answer I walked out of the office and into the barn, “We can’t even act normal anymore?”
“This is actually pretty normal for us if you think about it.”
“I’m serious,” he grabbed my arm to stop me from walking.
“No,” I yelled, “We can’t be normal because if we do then I will continue to fall in love with you, which isn’t really a secret anymore. You know how embarrassing it is to throw yourself at a guy and have him reject you?” I asked.
“You didn’t throw yourself at me,” he said.
“Maybe not, but that was the first and the last time I am ever doing that. I kissed you,” I raised my voice, “Because I thought you were about to kiss me. What were you trying to do? Did you think that was the opportune moment to close your eyes and maybe dream or take a snooze? Did you think that was the perfect moment to...”
“Would you shut up already,” he said.
“Don’t talk to me like that,” I said getting offended, “I am your boss or have you forgotten that.”
He grabbed the hose that was on the ground and splashed me with water before dropping the hose to the ground, “You need to take a breather and relax. You can’t keep using that line on me every time you run out of things to say”
I was too angry with him to justify anything so I walked out of the barn. I could hear his footsteps behind me so I stopped walking and faced him. He had a smile on his face.
“You are so cute when you are angry,” he said coming over gliding his hand around my waist.
“Stop,” I pulled away, “What are you doing?”
“I have wanted to tell you something for the past two days.”
Without hesitation, without searching to see who was looking, he kissed me. This time it was me who pushed him away.
“What do you think you are doing? Just because you’re not getting your way and things can’t go back to normal doesn’t mean I want you to fake things now to make things better. I will get over this don’t you worry.”
“I don’t want you to get over it because I am not faking. Look, I know how things might have seemed to you the other night but I don’t want to lose you and I haven’t had a friend like you in a really long time, so I just didn’t want to ruin our friendship. I was a complete fool to think pushing you away at that moment was for the best because I regretted it the moment you went inside. Then I started to think about leaving, I mean, what happens when winter rolls around and I can’t take the cold anymore? I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want to do anything that would ruin us but the truth is I am in love with you and I should have told you a long time ago.”
At that I wasn’t sure what to respond.
“And for your information, no, you didn’t read the signals wrong. You read them perfectly correct.”
“You’re in love with me?” I asked.
He nodded, “Why is that so hard to believe?”
“Because you’ve got this bright future ahead of you with all the experience and education you have; this is what I do. I train horses.”
“You think there is something wrong with that? What about me? Why would a girl like you settle for a jerk like me who can’t even tell the girl he’s in love with how beautiful she is until he gets jealous because another guy is taking her out.”
“Good point,” I grinned, “Maybe you don’t have to leave.”
“No promises,” he said.
I nodded, “No regrets?”
“Definitely not. Well, I only regret not kissing you before Eric did.”
I grinned, “That was your fault. You wouldn’t dance with me from the start that night. If you did, I wouldn’t have even met him.”
“I’ve pretty much liked you since the moment I met you, I was attracted to the fact that you weren’t afraid to put me in my place.”
“Oh honey, I will always put you in your place.”
“Honey? I like that.”
I tried not to laugh, “Don’t worry about this friend’s thing Jesse. I don’t want to lose you as a friend either. Whatever happens, friends first?”
He nodded, “Deal. Now can I make the last couple of days up to you?”
“Dinner? My place? Tonight?”
I thought about it, “You’re cooking?”
He nodded, “But of course.”
“Will it be edible?”
He put his arm around my shoulder as we walked back into the barn, “I guess we’ll see.”
“Okay but hey,” I said facing him making it seem like I was going to kiss him, “You better get back to work before the boss catches you not working.”
He grinned, “No kiss?”
“Not making that mistake again,” I winked.
That night as I drove to Jesse’s place I felt nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know where things stood between us. However when I saw Jesse standing in front of the door, my nerves went away and I felt like the same girl who talked to him every day in the barn.
“It smells good,” I said walking into the basement.
I took a look around, a few picture frames with pictures, a desk, a lamp, a door to a room which I assumed was his bed room. He had a small table in the small kitchen and a desk in the living room with a computer on it.
“I like it,” I said looking around, “It’s cozy.”
“Yeah, I like it too; it looks a lot better now that you are here.”
I laughed at his cheesy compliment, “Do you need any help?”
He shook his head, “It’s all ready. Are you hungry?”
“I am famished.”
“Alright then, let’s eat.”
As we took a seat at the table across from each other Jesse took the covers off the food revealing pasta and veal cutlets and some peppers with salad.
As I took some of everything I suddenly felt self-conscious. I could see Jesse looking at me from the corner of his eye and I began to wonder if I was eating too much or too little. Things that usually didn’t matter seemed to matter.
“Just be yourself,” Jesse said catching me off guard, “You don’t need to be on your best behaviour or try to impress me, you have already impressed me.”
I sighed, “Am I really that transparent?”
“No,” he said, “but I could see your mind running a million miles per hour and what other explanation could there be?”
I smiled as I began to eat, “So no television?” I couldn’t help but notice when I walked in the door.
“It’s in the bedroom,” he said, “I didn’t ever really plan on having company.”
I nodded, “What type of shows or movies do you like?”
“I’ll watch everything,” he said, “I go with the flow, or with whatever is on.”
“Okay but what is one show that you cannot miss?”
He thought about it, “Heroes”
I nodded, “Good show.”
“What about you?” he asked.
“I like action, drama, romance, a little bit of everything but I don’t watch TV that often, when I actually have time I would much rather do something better with my time.”
“Maybe go out for a ride on Snowflake, or hang out with Sara,” I said.
“Am I going to be added to the list?”
“I thought that was a given,” I said.
“I never like to make assumptions.”
“I always make assumptions; maybe that is why I always get into trouble,” I sighed.
“Then you would be good in accounting,” he laughed, “It is all about assumptions.”
“I think I will pass,” I said as I brought my dish to the sink.
“Don’t worry about that, I will do it later.”
“Or we can do it now together, so you don’t have to do it later.”
He came over to the sink, “Okay, I will wash you can rinse.”
I moved over as he turned on the water, “So I see you have a piano.”
“It came with the place; they said they don’t use it so they asked if I could get use out of it. They really are great people.”
I nodded, “I know. So do you play?”
He nodded, “A little bit. I took lessons when I was younger but stopped after a couple years, I was never the type to go and have lessons, and I’m more of a watch and learn type of guy so I used the internet a lot as I continued to learn.”
“Will you play something for me?” I asked as we dried our hands.
He looked into my eyes, “How could I say no?”
“I guess you can’t,” I said as he grabbed my hand and led me to the piano.
I took a seat beside him as he began to play a song, it was soft and the melody was like a lullaby. I closed my eyes as listened until the song ended.
“That was beautiful.”
“You are beautiful.”
I smiled, “You don’t need to tell me that every day you know?”
“I want to tell you that and so much more, every day,” he paused, “Come here, we’ll play some cards.”
“Oh good, I love cards,” I grinned, “Be prepared to lose.”
“That is never going to happen.”
We began playing a game called speed, Jesse had to teach it to me but it was pretty straight forward. We played for a good hour before going to sit on the sofa.
“How many kids do you want?” he randomly asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said, “I just know I want children.”
“I want two,” he said, “Not like I will be disappointed if I get one or three but ideally I would like one girl and one boy.”
“I want the boy to be older so my daughter could have an older brother to look out for her.”
He nodded, “Yeah but it wouldn’t be so bad if the girl came first. She could teach him a lot of stuff too.”
“Where do you want to live when you settle down?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” he said honestly, “I guess it depends on who I settle down with.”
“Okay so you once asked me what I would give up or not give up for training horses so now I am asking you what would you give up for travelling?”
“Well, I think when I find myself somewhere and with someone that makes me happy, I will just want to stay.”
“I will be honest with you, being in love with a traveler is a little frightening because I really don’t want to get hurt and I know there is going to be a possibility of that no matter what but,” I paused, “I guess what I am trying to say is we can try to take things slow.”
“Okay, we will take things slow,” he said, “But just so you know, right now, I don’t want to go anywhere.”
“Right now you don’t but you might one day and I won’t stop you,” I admitted, “Not if you want to leave.”
Jesse pulled me into his arms as we lay on the sofa next to each other in silence.
“Tell me,” Jesse began, “Tell me what your first impression of me was.”
I laughed, “You are never going to stop asking me that until I tell you are you?”
“That is correct; it is only fair since I told you.”
“Okay, honestly speaking, I thought there was something odd about you but that was before I got to know you.”
He stifled a laugh, “Why?”
“I don’t know, it was just a feeling I got, there was just something different about you. The way you spoke, it was like you had prepared what you were going to say in advance. I felt like you didn’t really want this job since you were acting like you were better than me.”
“Sorry if I acted that way, I am not better than you.”
“Like I said, that was before I got to know you. I’m sure you were only acting that way because like you said at the beginning of the summer, you didn’t want to get attached.”
“Too late for that.”
“That feels nice,” I said as he passed his hand through my hair.
“Jen,” he began but didn’t continue because he was interrupted by a knock at the basement door.
“Are you expecting company?” I asked.
He shook his head as we sat up, “No, I have no idea who it is.”
“Well you better get it,” I pointed out as he wasn’t moving from the sofa.
“I doubt it’s important, maybe I can just pretend to not be home,” he smiled as he rubbed my arm with his hand, “This is our night.”
“It’s okay,” I said standing up, “I will get it.”
He sighed, “If you must,” he said grabbing my waist and pulling me to sit on his lap.
“Jesse,” I said giggling, “The door, remember?”
I quickly got up and went to open the door. There stood a guy, early twenties would be my guess, with a luggage by his side.
I smiled, “Hi.”
“Hi,” he said confused, “I think I got the wrong house.”
“Well who are you looking for?” I asked, “I know this neighbourhood pretty well maybe I can direct you in the right direction.”
“I’m looking for Liam.”
“I haven’t heard that name around here, sorry.”
“Jen who is it?” Jesse called as he came towards the door.
“Ben?” Jesse said as he reached the door.
“Liam,” the guy said grabbing him in a hug, “It is so good to see you.”
“Jesse,” he said, “Remember?”
He grinned, “Oh right.”
“I’m sorry,” I spoke to Ben, “I didn’t know who Liam was but apparently…”
“Liam is my middle name,” Jesse said, “and he grew up calling me Liam even though I hate it.”
“Jesse Liam Bucks… has a charm to it.”
He shook his head as Ben cleared his throat, “Oh sorry, Ben, this is Jennifer. Jennifer this is Ben, my brother.”
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” I shook his hand, “Well come in.”
Jesse frowned, “Umm.”
I shook my head and whispered in his ear, “He is your brother you cannot kick him out.”
He sighed, “I know, but I didn’t even know he was coming.”
“So brother,” Ben took a seat on the sofa, “You’ve got a nice crib here.”
“I like it,” he replied, “What are you doing here?”
“Well, I decided to take your offer and come to see you. I wanted to see what you saw in this place but I guess I am looking at her.”
I tried not to blush as Jesse rolled his eyes, “You could have called you know?”
“Well this isn’t the response I thought I would get for surprising my older brother.”
“Sorry, I’m happy you are here.”
“So what were you guys up to?”
I bit my lip wishing I could lie back down in Jesse’s arms, “We were just playing some cards.”
“So what is the story here?” he asked.
“No story, just the simple boy meets girl type thing.”
He nodded, “Very typical of my brother.”
I looked at Jesse who shook his head, “Not true, you will discover very quickly that my brother likes to make me look like a jerk.”
His brother nodded, “That’s true. He hasn’t been with a girl since, God, I don’t even remember.”
“Well, I am sure you guys would like to catch up so I am just going to go.”
“No,” Jesse protested, “You don’t have to do that. I don’t want you to do that.”
“Don’t leave on my account,” Ben said.
I didn’t want to leave but I knew they had things to talk about.
“No really, it’s fine. I’m feeling a little tired anyways.”
He stood up and held my hand as he walked me to the door, “Are you sure you have to leave?”
“I don’t want to but I should. I mean with what you told me about your family not wanting to come visit you, you have to be wondering why he is here. So you should talk to him, he’s your brother.”
He nodded, “I know, you are right, but this was supposed to be our night.”
I placed my hand on his cheek, “We will have other nights, I promise.”
He nodded, “Alright.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I said as I headed to my car.
“Where do you think you are going?” Jesse asked as he slowly walked over to where I was standing.
“Where do you think you are going?” he repeated.
He laughed as he put one hand on my waist and another behind my neck before pressing his lips to mine.
He kissed me passionately, “Where did you think you were going before I got the chance to kiss you?”
I tried to reply but Jesse covered my lips with his again, bringing both of his hands to be behind my back. He kissed my lips, then my forehead, then my lips again which led to my neck.
I stuttered as he kissed my neck, “I thought we were going to take things slow.”
Automatically he pulled away, “You’re right, sorry.”
My eyes gleamed, “I was joking, but thank you for respecting me.”
“I will always respect you,” he said.
“In that case, I think you could kiss me a little more.”
And he did just that until someone opened the door, “I was wondering if you got lost but I can see everything is fine,” Ben grinned as Jesse and I pulled away.
“I’ll be right in,” Jesse rolled his eyes at me so Ben couldn’t see.
“Take your time,” he laughed.
“He just got here and is already annoying.”
I laughed, “Alright you better go. If you need to take tomorrow off to spend with your brother, just call me.”
He shook his head, “I don’t plan on missing work tomorrow. Maybe I could bring him though? If he wants to come?”
I nodded, “Yeah sure.”
“Okay, have a good night,” he lightly kissed me.
“You too,” I kissed him back.
“Drive safe,” he kissed me.
“Don’t let your brother annoy you,” I kissed him back.
“Text me when you get home so I know you got home safely,” he kissed me but didn’t pull away until we both started laughing.
“Okay I should really go.”
“Okay,” we looked at each other.
I shook my head, “Okay I am going to go.”
“Okay,” Jesse said not letting go of my hand.
“You are going to have to let go for me to go.”
“Okay,” he sighed letting me get into the car.
He waved as I left the driveway and I saw him head back inside.
When I got home I texted him telling him I was at home safely and about to go to bed. Moments later he called me.
“Were you sleeping yet?”
“No,” I smiled at myself.
“Well I just wanted to say good night and I’m sorry our night got cut short.”
“Is everything okay? Did your brother tell you why he is here?”
“He said he missed me. He’s planning to stay for a month or so.”
“That sounds nice; will he be staying with you?”
“Yeah, I have the room.”
“Yeah of course, it will be nice for you to have company at night.”
“Alright well get some rest. I will see you tomorrow.”
“Good night Jesse. Oh and dinner was delicious, thanks again.”
“We’ll have to do it again soon, without the interruption.”
“Next time, it’s my place. I will cook for you.”
“Are you sure about that? Considering you know? Considering what people say about your meals?”
“If I put my mind to it I am sure I can cook something up. Plus I am going to have to learn sometime, since I want a family and all.”
“That is very true.”
“See you tomorrow Jesse!”