Monday, February 14, 2011

Number Three--Jess and Lee

From my third book, SYMMETRY:

When Lee picked her up, they drove to a roadside stand that sold wildflowers. Jess helped him select a mixed bouquet for his dad, their simple beauty fitting for a man as down-to-earth as Hal had been. Lee made no effort to hide his tears when he placed the flowers on his father’s grave, and Jess had to wipe hers away as well.

Lee took her hand when they started back to the car, and she let him hold it.
They didn’t talk much on the drive back to the house, but when Lee parked in the driveway and shut off the engine, he took her hand again. “Thanks for going with me, Jess. Dad always loved you, so I know he’s happy you were there with me.”

“I’m glad you asked me to go,” she said. “Really, Lee.”

He lowered his gaze. “I miss him like hell, but I’m kinda glad I don’t have to face him right now and explain why I’ve screwed up my marriage and haven’t accomplished anything he could be proud of.”

“That’s not true, Lee. Your dad was always proud of you.”

He shook his head. “I know how disappointed he was when I had to quit playing football. I thought if I could make it big as a sportswriter, it would make it up to him a little.”

“Your dad just wanted you to be happy,” she said, wondering why she’d never guessed before the reason he was so driven to succeed. “He was upset over your injury because he knew you loved playing, not because he cared if you ever became rich or famous.”

“No, he told me when I was in high school that he didn’t want me to have to work myself to death just to provide for my family the way he did.”

“That’s right, Lee. He didn’t want you working in a factory doing manual labor, and you accomplished that by going to college and getting a degree. He was proud of you for that, but I think he was even more proud of you for being such a devoted son and brother.”

He looked up at her. “You sound like my mom. I know you’re both just trying to make me feel better.”

She pushed his shoulder. “That’s ridiculous. Neither one of us even likes you.”

He smiled and gave her a look that made her heart beat erratically. “I’m trying to understand what you want me to do so I can come home, Jess. I swear I am.”

She sighed. “I believe you, Lee. To tell the truth, I’m not even sure I know what I want you to do. I just know I want things to be different.”

“Today was a good start, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah, it was.”

He squeezed her hand. “I want to do something special for you like you did for me today. Whatever you want. Just tell me.”

“You don’t need to repay me for anything, Lee. I was glad to go with you.”

“No, there’s gotta be something I can do. Think about it and let me know, okay?”

“Okay, I’ll think about it.”

“Jess . . .” He twisted his wedding ring on his finger. “Please don’t go out with that guy if he starts calling you again. I know you wouldn’t sleep with him, but I can’t stand the idea of him even touching you.”

She sighed. “I don’t think that’s an issue anymore. I’m sure he wants to stay as far away from me as possible now that he knows I have a violent lunatic for a husband.” She could see his face flood with relief, but she couldn’t quite seem to get mad at him for it.

“Guess he got a look at these pythons.” He flexed his biceps for her. “Must’ve decided he’d better find his own woman and leave mine alone.”

She arched an eyebrow. “You’ve been watching wrestling with Trent, haven’t you?”

He gave her one of his heart-stopping smiles and leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. She was thankful it was only a chaste kiss, because she wasn’t sure she could have resisted him if he’d tried to kiss her for real. Just the brush of his lips on her face was an exquisite agony she knew all too well.

Sensing that she needed to put some space between them, she opened the car door and said, “I’ll see you at work tomorrow, Lee. Don’t forget to ask your mom about letting me come over to see Lexie.”

“Okay. Bye, baby.”

Once she was safely inside the house, Jess fell onto the couch as she listened to the sound of his car pulling away, near panic at the realization that she was always going to love a man who hurt her on a regular basis and would likely keep doing so, because he did it unintentionally. And the thing that scared her the most was knowing she was probably going to sacrifice everything else that was important to her and let him go on hurting her, because the times in between the pain were the moments she lived for.

Buy Your Copy of SYMMETRY Here

~Stay true to yourself and your dreams will come true.

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