Sarah sat alone at a desk in the HR department of the company she was interviewing with, waiting for Bridgett to return with her notes. She'd arrived back in Washington just a few hours ago, fueled with mixed emotions. Ericka picked her up from the airport, excited to have her friend back in town, though was kind enough to give Sarah her space for now. She'd been relatively quiet upon her return and told Ericka she'd fill her in on everything later. When she was ready. And wouldn't cry as she relayed all the details of her time with Jareth.
She sighed out loud in the small interview room, thinking about last night and already missed him. His smile. His touch. His mouth. His co-
Shaking her head, she reminded herself to focus and not think about him or his cock right now. She needed to land whatever position this company could offer her, great sex be damned.
Yet her legs couldn't stop bouncing with anxiety, and her thumb kept finding its way to her mouth. Nibbling at the tip of her nail, she scoffed with impatience. What the hell was taking so long? She hated this anticipation!
Just then, Bridgett appeared.
"Hi, hi, so sorry about that," she said breathlessly. "I couldn't find my file," she added taking a seat across from Sarah. Dressed in a navy blazer with a white blouse under and matching pants, Sarah couldn't help but think how attractive this woman was with her long blonde hair and dark brown eyes. If it weren't for Ericka lending Sarah some clothes, she would have felt incredibly insecure next to this woman. It didn't help that this Bridgett gal didn't seem all that much older than Sarah herself yet had a seemingly successful career. The idea frustrated her but fueled her desire to land this job and get her shit together.
She forced an understanding smile nonetheless. "That's okay. I'm in no hurry."
Bridgett returned Sarah's falsified smile with a genuine one. "It's nice to finally meet you, Sarah. Thank you again for coming in on such short notice. I hope I didn't interrupt anything that might have been going on."
Only the best experience of my life. "Nope! Not at all," she lied. "I'm happy to be here. And thank you for allowing me the opportunity to come in."
"Of course! So, tell me a bit about yourself," Bridgett stated, as she opened up her manila folder. "Upon reviewing my notes just a few minutes ago, I see that you're very interested in getting back in the business."
Sarah nodded. "I sure am."
"That's great, Sarah."
Exhaling, Sarah prepared herself to answer. "Well. As you can see, I've been out of the industry for…quite some time. It's always been a passion of mine, broadcasting. I feel very comfortable being in front of a camera." The moment those words came out of Sarah's mouth, she didn't realize how true they were until now. The humor of it didn't escape her and she had to fight back a chuckle.
Sarah and Bridgett kept the conversation going for about thirty minutes, the topics ranging from Sarah's favorite journalism moments, her time in school, to everything she learned in and out of college and more. She couldn't help thinking how right this felt and how comfortable she'd gotten with this other woman in such a short time. Or perhaps she was just very desperate and wanted to attach herself to anything positive in her life, particularly this opportunity.
After laughing at Sarah's recounting of a story from her days back at UW, Bridgett settled down. "Well, Sarah, I think you're full of promise, and again, I think it's wonderful that you're so keen on getting back to your passion. But I have to ask."
Uh oh. Sarah gulped, hoping her interviewer didn't see her sudden nervousness, but offered the palm of her hand instead. "Please."
Closing her folder, Bridgett frowned. "Why were you out of the industry for so long? It seemed like something you were a natural at. I was able to retrieve your internship videos from UW and watched your sessions during your time interning. Very impressive work."
"Thank you," Sarah said. "I appreciate that."
Bridgett smiled lightly and went on. "It just seems so odd to me that someone with such charisma and talent would stop at the very height of her promising career only to try again so many years later. I'm not going to lie, this is a tough business to enter in normal circumstances. Add that in with being out of the game for so long…you've got your work cut out for you. So, I must ask. Why now? And why should we hire you?"
Damn, straight to the point, Sarah thought. Nodding in a way that she understood where Bridgett was coming from, she sighed. "I unfortunately had some personal things come up that intervened with my plans. Believe me, I didn't want to forego my dreams but. Something else more important needed my attention."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Bridgett offered, not pressing for more information.
Acknowledging Bridgett's sympathy, she went on. "It's okay. Look, I'm not naïve to the fact that I'm late to the party, especially in this field, and honestly, my attempts will probably be futile. But… I couldn't not try. I had a tough lesson a long time ago to not take anything for granted. And I was recently reminded of that again."
Jareth quickly went in and out of her mind, and she smiled. "I've learned that taking chances brings you rewards if you allow it to. And quite frankly…I have nothing to lose at this point. I've been at bottom, and I'm willing to work my way up to the top again. Whatever it takes. Like I said, I'm not asking or even expecting to be sitting anchor next to Thomas Eddie on the morning news. But even just working behind the scenes, being in this setting…it would be enough. I know you'd be taking a huge chance on me to do just about anything for you, but if you give me the chance, I know I wouldn't let you down."
She didn't expect to say all of that and thought maybe she shouldn't have; perhaps she made herself seem too desperate just then, but she also felt justified in her words. She really didn't have anything to lose, and suddenly she felt contentment in that realization. She had nowhere to go but up after losing almost everything good in her life. She no longer wanted to feel like a pathetic and pretty sad little thing. So why not just lay it all out there?
As Sarah stared with a newly found confidence at the woman across from her, waiting for a response, Bridgett suddenly extended her hand out to Sarah and smiled.
"I think you can do great things, Sarah."
Sarah's eyebrows furrowed on their own accord as she accepted Bridgett's handshake, not quite understanding what that meant. Their hands lowered and Bridgett proceeded with her words.
"You applied for an entry level position within the company," she recapped. "I'm happy to offer a 'behind the scenes job' to you. We do need help in this area, so you'd be shadowing Marley in production for the time being to ensure our morning segments run smoothly."
Sarah could hardly believe what she was hearing.
"And, with time…" Bridgett continued, "if you're able to stand on your own two feet without too much guidance, you'll be left to your own devices and that's where the fun begins. As you learn, offer story input, and grow, we can revisit… other possibilities in the future."
Other possibilities?! Sarah was squealing on the inside and trying not to combust with happiness.
"But I can't promise anything," Bridgett added. "I know where you want to end up, but it won't happen overnight. If you're willing to put in the work… I think we can get you there."
Was this…was this real life? Was she actually securing a job offer? This quickly? In an actual field she wanted to pursue a career in?
Composing herself mentally, Sarah cleared her throat. "Wow, Bridgett I don't even know what to say. Other than, I'm more than willing and I think that all sounds fantastic. Thank you… a million times over. I won't let you down. That I can promise."
Bridgett gave nothing but the purest of grins. "How does starting in two weeks, sound?"
"WOOOOOO! Here's to you, you hot, smart sexy woman!" Ericka shouted, popping the cork from a bottle of sparkling rosé.
Sarah laughed, accepting the glass her friend had just poured for her in the living room of Ericka's swanky apartment. "I can't believe this actually went in my favor. It just doesn't seem real."
Chugging her own glass and clearing her throat from the bubbles, Ericka chuckled. "It's real, babe. So believe it! I'm so proud of you!" She hugged Sarah tightly and poured another glass with her hands behind Sarah's back.
"I think you're more excited than I am," Sarah pointed out with humor in her voice.
Pulling away from her friend, Ericka tilted her head to the side. "Obviously I'm excited for you. You deserve all the best things in the world. Now, get drunk with me!" she yelled, twirling throughout the living space.
Sarah continued to laugh and did just that. The two women managed to finish the entire bottle in under a half hour, acting like college undergrads again, and it didn't take long before they got into the second bottle Ericka had purchased only mere hours ago. It also didn't take long before Ericka finally addressed the pink elephant in the room now that Sarah was happily buzzed.
"Soooo….." Ericka began, refilling Sarah's glass with rosé as they sat on the floor in the living room. "Do you wanna talk about it now?"
She took a large sip of her beverage and winced at the acidity it left behind. "What do you mean?" she asked feigning ignorance.
Rolling her eyes, Ericka stood up to grab some chocolate covered raisins from her pantry. "You know what I mean."
Sarah frowned. She still wasn't quite ready to talk about Jareth, especially after landing the job, but she knew she had to talk about it sooner or later. Ericka had been patient enough to let it slide by throughout the day, but she was beginning to get antsy without knowing the juicy details.
"It was…a lovely time," Sarah stated plainly, shrugging with her eyes closed and smirking.
Ericka lowered her eyes as she sat back down to join Sarah. She knew there was much, much more. "A lovely time? That's it?" she asked, her mouth full of raisins.
Sarah met her friend's questionable gaze. "Yes, it was lovely. Jareth is a gentleman in every way a man should be and was a great host."
She could tell Ericka was about to lose it without having all the dirty details and waited for her reaction.
After what felt like forever, Ericka burst out laughing. "Oh, that's good. If there's one thing we both know about Jareth…it's that he ain't no gentleman," she verbalized, mouth still muffled. "Not in the sense you're referring to anyway. I know my cousin is a total man whore so spill!"
"Fine, I had the best time of my life!" Sarah relented. "He fucked my brains out almost every single day I was there, and we went skiing, had nice dinners, had a threesome, and he even bought me a vibrator. See? Total gentleman."
Without resorting to any judgement, Ericka simply sat there as though she didn't just hear the words 'threesomes' and 'vibrator.' "And?" she urged Sarah on.
"And…" Sarah sighed. "And I think I'm in love with him."
"Oh, Sarah," she responded, gently rubbing her friends arm in solace. "Okay. Start from the beginning and don't leave out any details."
Raising her eyebrows in concern, Sarah asked, "Are you sure you want to know everything? This is your cousin we're talking about…it might be awkward. I just mentioned we had a threesome for crying out loud."
Ericka removed her hand from Sarah and pretended to consider Sarah's concerns. She lifted her eyes toward the ceiling, pursing her lips in fake contemplation. After a few seconds, she shrugged and took another sip from her glass. "Nope. I'm good." She snapped her fingers and finished with, "Details, woman. Now."
Sarah rolled her eyes lightheartedly and took another long sip before starting from the beginning of when she arrived in Colorado. She recounted feeling lonely and masturbating in front of the webcam, to her phone conversation with Ericka when she demanded answers - everything. She left nothing out when it came to her and Jareth's sexual encounters and kept waiting for Ericka to interrupt to say she couldn't handle the gory specifics anymore, but she never did. She listened intently and not once did she act judgmental or showed disapproval.
A sensual exhilaration still echoed through Sarah as she retold her stories, remembering the things she'd shared with Jareth – he'd given her ultimate thrills, and he hadn't judged her for her decisions; he'd truly wanted only to give her pleasure. She knew she would cherish the memories they'd created in the mountainside house together for the rest of her life, even if they were outside her normal world.
She finished her story, while also finishing what remained in her glass, anticipating Ericka's response. "Well?" she implored when Ericka didn't say anything right away.
"I'm thinking," Ericka replied, eyes looking away, hands on her chin.
"Well don't think too hard." Sarah poured more rosé, suddenly realizing she was getting quite drunk.
"I mean. It's about time you broadened your sexual horizons," Ericka finally said. "Even if it was with my family member. Weird. But I gotta say... I always knew you had it in you, you wench."
Sarah chuckled. "Yeah, well. I guess it just took the right man."
"I think this is all really simple, Sarah."
"What is?" she asked, meeting her friend's gaze. She didn't quite understand what Ericka meant.
"You two should get married and have babies, obviously!"
"You're an idiot," Sarah expressed, laughing.
Ericka joined her in laughter and grabbed the nearby bottle, polishing off the remainder of the liquid. "I'm not kidding. Not really, anyway. I don't know why people make relationships so complicated. You're in love with the man, so tell him."
"It isn't that simple, Ericka," Sarah countered dryly.
"Sure it is. I've known you for how many years now? And I can just see a whole new you. Feel it. I know he's my cousin, but what I'm about to say in no way shape or form comes from biases."
Sarah didn't say anything, only waited for Ericka to continue.
"No other man has ever opened you up like this and made you so comfortable to be open to new things and put yourself out there like that," she went on. "How on earth does someone just say good-bye to that kind of trust, that kind of thing? You don't. So tell him how you feel. You both missed out on an opportunity to remain in each other's lives all those years ago. Now the timing is right and you're a grown ass woman. Take charge of what you want!"
Sarah considered her words. It was good advice, and knew she was right of course, but still. "Jareth doesn't want a relationship, Ericka. Besides, it would never work anyway. We live in two completely different worlds. He's a king, and he's perfect, and rich and…gorgeous. I'm just….me."
The thought depressed her, and she slumped down even further against the couch she had been resting her back on. She couldn't deny the sadness that lurked inside her from missing him. Missing the intimacy they'd shared, and even just his company. Echoing Ericka's words, she definitely feared she'd ever experience that much intimacy with a man again.
"Okay, first of all," Ericka began, standing up and stumbling a bit. "Don't give him that much power. You have no idea the kind of hold you have on him. I've had to listen to it for years and years. It was kind of pathetic actually. Second of all, Jareth would be a fool to not pursue you. The asshole let you out of his life once. I guarantee he won't be stupid to do it a second time."
Wishful thinking. "How do you know?"
Ericka grabbed Sarah's hand, helping her up, the both of them nearly falling to the floor together. After their giggles subsided, Ericka got serious and sighed. "Because you're you. And you're enough."
Sarah had almost believed her friend's words. She awoke the next morning after their binge drinking evening, albeit hungover, with a feeling of resurgence and confidence. Ericka was right – Jareth would be an idiot to not pursue things. He had to reach out soon, right? Surely he would.
But when two weeks had gone by, and Sarah still hadn't heard from him, she'd given up hope entirely.
She tried to keep herself busy. With the help of Ericka, she mustered up the will to figure out payment plans to help bring her debts down and decided to stay with Ericka until she got settled with her job. She went shopping for some new work clothes and makeup, courtesy of her amazing friend, and was ready to begin anew.
It was to be her first day at work and she could hardly wait. She woke up early to go for a morning run and as she sat down at the kitchen table upon returning home, she opened her laptop, and lowered her freshly brewed coffee to the coaster atop the table.
After a brief glance out the window at the morning quiet of her friend's neighborhood, she hit the button to retrieve her mail. She clicked to open one from Bridgett, sporting the subject line: GOOD LUCK TODAY!
She smiled at the kind message Bridgett sent her and was truly thankful for this woman. She couldn't have been more grateful to Bridgett for taking a huge chance on her. Taking a deep breath, she responded and informed her HR manager that she was excited and thanked her again for bringing her on to the team.
Sighing, she rolled her neck to the right then the left and stretched out her arms. The next thing she knew, an IM box popped up on her screen. She had downloaded the stupid app onto her laptop a week ago in hopes a message from him would come. She flinched when she saw her wish had come true.
ISOLAR76: Are you there, precious?
Her heart threatened to burst through her chest. He suddenly felt so nearby – even if also still far away.
WilfullSarah: Yes, I'm here. Hi.
ISOLAR76: How are you? I'm liking the new username.
What a load question. Naturally, she decided to lie and ignore his comment about her username.
WillfullSarah: Great, thanks. And you? Busy buying up unsuspecting corporations and overthrowing kingdoms?
ISOLAR76: I'm not ruthless and conniving in business. Just ruthless.
WillfullSarah: You're pretty ruthless in bed, too, as I recall.
ISOLAR76: Let's just say I know how to get what I want. Did you have any complaints?
ISOLAR76: Didn't think so. I heard you landed that job. Congratulations.
Damnit, Ericka. So the two had been talking. No wonder he reached out. Ericka probably forced him to.
WillfullSarah: I did. I start today actually. It's exciting and…terrifying. I'm almost afraid I won't know what to do.
ISOLAR76: You will do amazing; I have no doubt about that.
Sarah considered her answer, unsure of what to say to him. For at least half a second, she seriously considered typing I LOVE YOU into the box. But then she came to her senses and remembered how hurt she would be when he didn't know what to say to that, and when it became clear that she'd just humiliated herself. She took a deep breath and composed a simple reply.
WillfullSarah: Thank you. I really hope so. I'll be surprised if I get my bearings right on my first day.
ISOLAR76: Would you be surprised to know I miss you, precious?
Sarah's throat clogged with emotion. She considered all the things she could say.
I miss you every day.
Then she thought of the Jareth she'd come to know and love in the mountain home, and she instead told him something she knew he'd be thrilled to hear.
WillfullSarah: Sometimes I use the vibrator you gave me, and I think about you.
ISOLAR76: Is that so? The thought of that just got me exceptionally hard.
Hot desire fluttered through her.
WillfullSarah: Feels like old times.
ISOLAR76: I love to think about you fucking yourself with it, moving it in and out of your perfect little pussy.
Sarah pulled in her breath and watched as Jareth typed his next response.
ISOLAR76: Do you ever think about installing a webcam on your end?
The mere act of communicating with Jareth, even just over the computer, was making Sarah feel alive in a way she hadn't in days. Keep the playful, naughty banter going, she commanded herself. Besides being exciting and fun, and a way to keep him in her life, maybe some cybersex would be enough.
Yet to her surprise, something inside her slowly began to sink. She wanted to excite him, wanted to rekindle all that forbidden pleasure that had first brought them together again – but she couldn't.
Knowing the things they'd done together, face to face, body to body, and knowing how very close to him she'd felt, how very trusting, how very attached – she knew already that dirty cyberchat wasn't going to make up for what she lacked. Already it felt empty. Like moving backward. She couldn't do it. She typed her answer in sadly.
ISOLAR76: Would you?
WillfullSarah: No again.
ISOLAR76: That's disappointing. Did I say something to make you cross with me?
ISOLAR76: Then is something wrong?
WillfullSarah: I love you, Jareth.
She sent it without giving herself a chance to even consider it. It was gone, and it couldn't be brought back. She felt sick, her stomach churning, every nerve ending in her body tingling so intensely it was painful.
When he didn't answer, she feared she would throw up.
And then a message appeared.
ISOLAR76: I didn't realize, Sarah.
A far cry from I love you, too. Oh, god. She'd made a horrible mistake.
WillfullSarah: I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. Forget about it, okay?
ISOLAR76: I don't know how to forget about something like that.
Sarah made a stressful decision – to barrel ahead to the heart of the matter. She had to – nothing else made any sense.
WillfullSarah: Well, since it's pretty obvious you don't feel the same way, I want you to at least try to forget it, okay? I want you to remember me fondly, not as the teenager who beat you years ago, or as a pathetic sad woman who just spouted something without thinking about it.
ISOLAR76: I never said I didn't feel the same way, Sarah.
WillfullSarah: But you didn't exactly say you did either.
ISOLAR76: Sarah… I'm not sure I even know what love is. That kind of love. I've never been in it. I don't want to disappoint you.
Well, that was all she needed to know. She still possessed the ability to excite him, but he didn't love her. And he was a nice enough man that he was trying to her down easy. The person on the other side of the situation, though, never seemed to understand that there could be nothing easy about it.
Taking a deep breath, trying to hold back the tears enough to type, she constructed an answer.
WillfullSarah: I understand. Look, I have to go. First day of new job and all that. Bye.
And she shut her laptop as quickly as she could, before he could reply. She stood up and shed her pajamas to take a hot shower that left her skin red and changed into appropriate attire for her first day on the job.
When she left Ericka's apartment she couldn't believe she'd told Jareth she loved him.
What the hell is wrong with you? You could have had lots of fun just messaging him. You could have had a secret little Internet affair for weeks, months, years even!
But thinking of "years" and all the years she spent depressed and spent, she realized she could never survive on that. She deserved more than that, especially now when she was ready to really change her life and finally focus on herself and her needs.
Yes, she was in love with Jareth. But nothing less than him loving her back was going to cut it. Not anymore.
WOOOO, two chapters in one week! Feeling pretty proud of myself. Gonna finish this one for you guys! Just one chapter left! Please review :D