Time in Willow Creek: 2 years, 4 months, 3 days
“Jase? Why are you doing that?”
Her voice was like the sound of sizzling bacon on a lazy Saturday morning. It excited him and came with so many vivid memories. He loved its sweet tone, cadence, and even that heavy southern drawl. It was such a silly thing to love. Maybe it was just all his pinned up feelings talking.
“Do I need a reason?”
She sighed. “No, but–“
“I’m not a guest you know.” He chuckled. “I pretty much live here.”
Her smile radiated on his back. It was so warm. “I know…but still! You don’t have to–“
He turned around and grinned. “I know. I’m almost finished anyway.”
What a metamorphosis. Back in the day, he used to watch Harriett rush around the house, cleaning, cooking, washing, polishing while he and Hillary sat on their duffs watching TV or whatever. She never offered to help. He often wondered if she cared. But now, she was just like her, doing everything and caring for everyone. Had she always been that way? Or, did she make a conscious decision to become her mother? She had probably always been that way because, every now and then, he saw glimpses of it. It was the reason he had always been so sure about her and waited so long for her to realize her own potential.
She handed him a towel to dry his hands when he turned around.
Her eyes, bright like an Oasis Springs morning, sparkled when she smiled. There was nothing about her he didn’t want. Everything about her–even the parts she hated–he loved and couldn’t apologize for it.
“Dinner was great.”
Back in the day, he had a private joke. He never bothered getting into fitness because when he and Hillary wed, he would lose 100 pounds because neither of them cooked. If that day were to come, perhaps he’d gain 100 now.
So many thoughts swirled in his mind every time he entered her presence. And, don’t even mention the feels. He had all of them and would be too embarrassed to tell her about most of them. But, what if he told her how he felt? Not the embarrassing, lustful ones, but the ones that mattered. After all, it had been almost a year. What was he waiting on? Surely more than enough time had passed for him to get whatever he needed from her. Keeping everything inside probably wasn’t fair to her anyway. Didn’t she deserve to know where he stood? Did he even know? But, what could he say? What would she want to hear outside of a declaration of love? Praise. Encouragement. The things she lacked the most.
“You, uhhh…you’re doing a great job, Hill.”
“And…” His eyes darted to the floor. If he gazed into those misty, gray pearls another second, he’d grab her by the waist and kiss her so hard her knees would buckle under the weight of his love. “I see you.”
She wiped a few tears.
Telling her he saw her without looking at her seemed disingenuous and wimpy. He pulled in a deep breath and faced the shimmering pearls again. “You’ve grown so much. People probably say that a lot, but…I see it too. I thought you should know that.”
Gosh, she was so beautiful! There was no way they could keep doing this. Something needed to give or they’d spontaneously combust! She was nearly there with her flushed cheeks and parting lips. Those lips. Oh, how he longed to taste them again. He salivated at the memory. She was so close. Did he erase the distance between them, or did she? Stepping away would surely send the wrong message. This wasn’t in his plan, but he had to do it. They weren’t getting out of that rut any other way. He reached for her desperate face and rubbed her bottom lip with his thumb. Her breaths quickened at his touch. She wanted him just as badly as he wanted her. He leaned in, and someone gasped.