Jenna wakes up early that morning.
After a disagreement with Jared, she always feels closer to him. Maybe its the way he goes about it, being insistent, but never critical. He never fights dirty, never hits below the belt. He doesn't hurl accusations or try to make her less. When they argue, there's a reason behind it. He genuinely wants what's best for her.
Jenna lingers another minute, loving the sight of Jared sleeping so peacefully. She feels a warm contentment low in her stomach, leans over and softly kisses one of his outstretched hands.
When a single tear slips down her cheek, it's okay. Her heart is full at the sight of him.
Quietly, she goes downstairs. She has business to attend, and the first thing on her mind is to call Mama C. She's put it off far too long.
Part of her is ashamed that she's waited this long to make contact. The apathy that shrouded her was like being wrapped in layers of insulation. It didn't hurt, but she didn't feel. Jared seemed to know this, and when he made her face it last night, it was the compassion in his voice, the way the kaleidoscope eyes of his turned a dark, slate blue, the color that meant he was worried, worried about her that finally got through.
"You shut everyone out. It's like you're still his captor. Fight it. Tell me what I can do to help you fight it," he'd said, his hands on her shoulders. Jenna wiped her eyes, and pushed those words away. She dialed Mama C's number from memory, waiting and then hearing her cheery 'hello' on the other end was enough to make tears stand in her eyes again.
She can hear the delight in Mama C's voice, and the occasional sniffle. They talk for a few minutes, Mama C inviting Jenna and Jared over for Sunday dinner. Jenna surprises herself when she accepts the invitation.
When they hang up, she cries a little more. Last night's talk with Jared opened up a floodgate of emotions inside her, and she's been steadily leaking around the eyes. Tears are better, Jenna decides. Much better than being wrapped in apathy. That apathy had divorced her from reality. She knew there was hurt waiting for her, but there was also happiness.
There were friends, Sunday dinner, Mama C, and most importantly, there was Jared.
As she walked back upstairs, she thinks about Jared. She hasn't known him long, but she loves him more than she's ever loved anyone. He refuses to give up, he refuses to let her give up. He goes looking for reasons, for ways to pull her back into the world. And here the truth is, hurtfully, hopefully: she couldn't live without him. There is no way she could be whole without the space he fills in her heart and life. Soul mate? Doesn't fit what he is to her. Jared is her forever mate, the safety net that lets her fly safe and sure, because having him is having everything that matters not only in life, but in love.
All the wishes she made, thrown down into some forgotten wishing well, all the prayers for something wonderful, they all led to Jared. He is more than she's ever even thought to ask for. The realization of his love, that he isn't giving up, hits her so hard that for the first time, she breaks down. Sitting on the top stair, Jenna cries until she aches.
Loving someone is having a home to come to, she thinks. A home where you're safe. He is the walls that keep the storms out. He is the roof that shades her. His love is her safe haven. His love doesn't have an expiration date, it doesn't have conditions or terms or limitations. He loves her. He loves her.
When she's gotten past the worst of it, she gets up and walks into their bedroom. She decides that she's going to kiss him awake this morning. She's going to kiss him, and she's going to feel the strong beat of his heart next to hers. She's going to soak in the feeling of being close to him, she's going to look at him, and she's going to love him.
She isn't better, she isn't fixed, but she's on that road. She found okay, and she's sure that somewhere down the road, she's going to find a sign that says : Great, 5 miles ahead, please have i.d. ready. Jared will be in the car beside her, she has no doubt, matching grins on their faces. It's only a matter of time.
*Oh yes, there is a