FOUR MONTHS LATER...
Jess took his outstretched hand, the other steadying her around the waist as she got back up to her feet after collecting the rest of the grapes she'd dropped from the supermarket floor. She looked into his eyes and smiled, grateful for his help.
"Thanks, Paul. I'm such a clutz!"
"Sure, sure. No problem. I can't very well leave a lady whining in distress now can I?...Oh! Whining!...Wine-ing...get it? Ha!"
She laughed genuinely. Oh Genzlinger. He never disappointed.
"Hey Jess! Look at this amazing carrot I just found...does it seem familiar to you? I swear it's an exact replica of...Oh..." Stopping in his tracks as he reached her, Nick looked back and forth between Jessica and the guy in front of him. Seriously? You've got to be kidding me?!
Another voice came out from behind them, standing alongside Genzlinger and adding to the confusion.
Ok, this just got weird...
"I, um...so this...you two are...?' Nick was suddenly feeling very uncomfortable and stringing a coherent sentence together was proving difficult for him. He was relieved when Jess snaked her arm around his, and he instantly felt his muscles relax. He tried again "So, you two are together?" he asked, trying to hide the surprise in his voice.
"Uh, yeah. Yes!" Said Paul excitedly, pulling Sarah in for a hug. "We met a couple months ago when I went to an exhibition at the gallery with an Art teacher buddy of mine. We recognised each other from your party, actually...so...I guess thanks are in order!" There were awkward chuckles all round but Paul continued regardless "I mean, Jess, if you hadn't turned me down that night because you were in love with Nick, then none of this would have happened! How great is that? This is so awesome!"
Jess felt her cheeks flood with colour. She was vaguely aware of Nick trying to contain a smug grin from creeping across his face and was doing her best not to look at him. Damn you, Paul.
"Huh...yeah...funny how things turn out...but I never said...you know what, nevermind!" She mumbled, the embarrassment spreading through her body. "Great to see you, Paul. You too, Sarah...well, we'd better be going, these grapes won't buy themselves!"
She tugged Nick away after exchanging goodbyes and stopped once they were safely out of view, screwing her face up and closing her eyes.
"Jessica Day..." Nick teased
"Don't!" She groaned. "Please, don't..."
He laughed and kissed her on the cheek "You learn something new every day" he said as he began to walk towards the checkout with a strut. She followed hot on his heels "Just for the record, Nick...I never told Paul I loved you."
"Whatever you say, Day..." He smirked and she punched him playfully.
"Nick! I didn't!"
"Sure thing, doll...now, about this carrot I found..."
Nick leaned up against the back door of Jess's car, hands in his pockets with right leg crossed over left. He couldn't help but watch as she loaded the last bag of groceries in to her trunk and closed it with a bang. She looked at him, triumphant "Ha! Got the sucker to stay closed this time, yay me!" Nick found himself smiling at her joy in something so insignificant to most, it was infectious. As she walked towards the driver's side, he stood up, reached out his right arm and wound it around her waist, tugging her into him and clasping his fingers together in the small of her back. Jess giggled and allowed herself to be pulled into his warm embrace, placing a hand over the spot on his chest above his heart and feeling it beat for her. She looked up at him, his deep, brown eyes staring so tenderly into hers and he dipped his head to give her the smallest kiss on her delicate lips. Then he kissed her again, and again, and again until she broke away laughing at him.
"What's that for, Miller?" She chuckled as she wound her arms around his neck, stretching up on tiptoes so she could be level with his face.
"Just because you looked so damn cute after your victory with the trunk of your car...and because I can...'cos you're my girlfriend." He looked at her and cocked his head.
"What...?" She asked
"Just for the record, Jess...I knew I loved you way back then, too..."
Nick had surprised himself, being far better at this boyfriend role than he was expecting to be given his past experiences.
With Caroline, he never felt good enough and she had a habit of compounding that feeling. He was on edge and unsure for the majority of their time together, second guessing himself constantly. It was difficult and hard work. With Julia, he had gotten far too intense and was overthinking everything. He just couldn't tell what was going on inside her head and it confused him. With Sarah, it had been fun, he couldn't deny that. They were good together, but it just hadn't felt like it was going anywhere. Probably due to his reservations about her past but noticeably, he hadn't missed her like he should have when she started working more and he began spending more time with his roommates. He'd stopped putting in the effort, and that's when he knew that good just wasn't going to be enough. There was something more he craved. He had almost felt relieved when she'd walked in on him and Jess kissing, when she made the decision for the both of them and walked away. A cowardly thing to think, he knew that, but true.
With Jess, it was different. So different. She made him smile constantly and he couldn't believe he was lucky enough to have this beautiful woman by his side every day. And in his bed most nights. Him in her bed on the others. The sex was phenomenal...out of this world. He had genuinely had no idea it could be so good until he and Jess had opened that door. But, my god, was he so glad they did. He knew her inside and out already, and she him. She never let him doubt himself and always believed in him. Her zest for the things she loved was contagious, and he was happy to let it seep into his veins and carry him away too. Suddenly life seemed brighter, more colourful, and it was all because of this lady he held in his arms.
Jess made it so easy to love her, which in turn made it easy for Nick to let himself be loved.
Entirely, thoroughly, wholly, completely...loved.
*A/N - Thank you for reading! I loved writing this! I really appreciate feedback so feel free to share and review. And you can check out my other fics I have since uploaded too :) *