Time in Willow Creek: 4 months, 2 weeks, 5 days
“Jase…it’s me,” Hillary said as she let herself into his house.
“I’m back here,” he yelled from the spare bedroom. It was his childhood bedroom, but he made it over into an office.
“Where else would you be,” she said under her breath.
Every now and again she popped over to his place to make sure he was still alive…or something. They hadn’t hung out since Juliana’s unfortunate incident. She walked into the office and found him engrossed in some game on the computer. It was pretty normal to find him that way seeing as how it was his profession. But, this time, he seemed extra unavailable. He didn’t even say hello when she came in.
“What’s that?” she asked and took a seat. She had zero interest in video games, but she knew knew it was important to him and tried to appear interested some times.
“New game. Gotta test it.”
She watched him click the mouse and rapidly press buttons for a moment before she let out a loud, attention grabbing sigh. Jase knew she hadn’t come to watch him whoop up on his digital opponent, but she came over unannounced. He couldn’t drop everything and give her his undivided attention. He was this close to beating the big boss, but she would never understand. However, he knew how to handle his friend. All he had to do was get her talking. “How’s Juliana?”
“Oh she’s great! She finally came out of hiding last week. Her and mama made up, and everything’s fine now. Mama took her to my sister’s to meet all them. I think Rebecca actually likes her! Well, Rebecca will like anyone who plays the piano. I had no idea Juliana played.”
Jase was still clicking and tapping away. He still hadn’t looked up to even acknowledge her presence.
“Are you even listening to me?”
“…piano…yeah! I’m listening.”
“Pfft. No you’re not.”
Hmph. I know how to get his attention…
“Ok, well, I guess I’ll get outta here. You’re too busy to hear about my date tomorrow…”
That did it. There was a small, uneasy feeling settling in his gut. He got it every time she talked about her boy toys even though he was always supportive of her choices. Well, to be fair, he never supported her decisions, but he was always there to support her when she needed to talk. “Who are you going out with now?”
“A guy named Jesse I met in Windenburg,” she matter-of-factly.
“Windenburg? When did you go there?”
“Me and Juliana went last week.” Somehow she felt like she needed to explain. “Sloane said there was a party at the gardens, but she was sick and couldn’t go. I didn’t really want to go, but she insisted…you know how she is. Anyway, I asked Juliana if she wanted to go and she said yeah.”
“Oh. I would have loved to go with you guys,” Jase said with a little disappointment in his voice. “I haven’t done Windenburg yet.”
“Yeah, I know. I would have called you, but it was late and last minute and I was tired…I only went because of Juliana.”
“I can’t believe your mom let you take Juliana to a party all the way in Windenburg. Is she finally cutting the cord?”
“Juliana wanted to go, so mama let her. That’s probably the only reason why.”
“Awww,” Jase said. “The baby’s all growed up!”
“You ain’t kidding! She leaves the house and goes places by herself now! Mama even got her a phone.”
“Juliana’s got a cell phone? My! I was kidding about her being grown up, but I guess she really is.”
“Let me put her number in your phone.”
“Why do I need her number?”
“I dunno. Emergency or something. She has yours, so you may as well have hers.”
Jase got up from his chair to hand her his phone, and Hillary began gloating. “Ha! I got the master to leave his throne! All the power belongs to me.”
Hillary loved messing with Jase whenever she could, but Jase was always on guard and never wasted an opportunity to suggest an upgrade to their friendship. “Ahhhhh…so the queen has finally accepted her position then?”
Naturally, Hillary was caught completely off guard and was speechless. She had no witty comeback. Oddly enough, for a split second, she considered his offer. Could they actually be together harmoniously? Could she deal with his annoying habits? Could she get used to gaming?
“I’ve gotta go,” she said and stood up.
“Have fun with your Jason…or whatever his name is.”