If there was a moment that one could pin-point the feeling of walking on clouds, this would be just the one. Jess floated into school with a dazed expression written on her face, reaching her locker. Jessica yawned as she grabbed the books she probably wasn't going to write in. Memories from the early morning filled her mind as she grabbed a drawing notebook for her art class. She stared at the book and smiled, flashing back to the events prior to school: the late night drive, the notes flying onto her bed (okay, maybe that one was creepy), and the appreciation Nick declared to her. As tired as the brunette felt, she still couldn't help but smile. The boy was so strange, but it never ceased to amaze her [while annoying her all at once].
"What's got you so happy?" A voice called from behind her. The brunette turned around to reveal a familiar, confused yet smiling face: Ally. Jess shrugged in response as she closed her locker door, holding her books against her chest.
Jessica smiled at her friend and into the distance before murmuring the words, "Post-it notes." Ally gave her an odd look before waving her hand in front of Jessica's face, which didn't looked fazed in the slighest.
"If it's not weed, it's gotta be something." Ally raised her brows as she stepped back to look at the distracted quirky brunette. Still, no words came from Jess's mouth. Figuring the silence was gonna conclude this situation, Ally simply nodded. "I'm gonna go now. Kay..?" Still nothing. Ally backed away until she turned around, completely finishing herself from this conversation-or perhaps, whatever it really was to begin with.
Jess floated into the classroom, her eyes making subtle contact with the Miller boy that sat behind her as usual. She merely stopped in her place at the sight of him, but continued casually as she cleared her throat, sitting down in her seat as her skirt swished by her swift movements.
"Hey, Day..." She heard from behind her. Jess turned around and gave Miller her best curious, yet captivating expression. Awaiting his answer, she noticed his eyes glancing down her body. She felt her cheeks heat up as his eyes quickly traveled back to her face. Before Jess could reprimand him about her eyes being up here, he spoke first. "Are those raining cats and dogs on your skirt?" He wondered, glancing intently at the design. Jess's face fell as she cleared her throat, trying to think of a response. Unfortunately, no words came to mind.
With a defeated sigh, the girl nodded as she whipped her head back around; hair gliding over her chair as she picked up her pencil to work.
And right on time: the flying note. She casually, but internally urgently picked up the note that rested down on her desk. Smoothing it out, Jessica read the following carefully.
Look under your chair.
Resting down the note, she then heard the noise of kicking beneath her desk. Jessica glanced over to the teacher carefully before bending down and subtly picking up the staples sheets of paper. Jess paused and also took notice of her math notebook next to her, sitting untouched. Her eyes drifted back to the chapter, her mind silently debating.
Okay, well this is more important. Math can wait.
And with that, she flipped to the first page of her awaited chapter and began to read.
So much for math.
Her eyes scanned down the page as she read the words intently. Was she gonna finally know the name of the female protagonist? Jessica tapped her fingers lightly on the desk as she read, also being careful to look for a name she didn't recognize-preferably with the last name Knight. That would be great.
A few minutes later, Jessica was in the middle of reading the words Pepperwood turned to his one and only sidekick-
The brunette smiled happily as she flipped the page to reveal-
Huffing and and resting her forehead against her palm, she cried in her thoughts. Are you kidding? Jess whipped her head around and glared at the boy who's eyes were on his math work. He was actually concentrating?
"Miller." Jessica hissed, too loud for her own liking. The teacher paused and rested her hands on her hips.
"Would you like to share something with the class, Ms. Day?"
Eye rolling in response, Jess reverted her attention to her very annoying math teacher. "Not really. There's nothing to share, apparently."
She could hear the boy chuckle from behind her, pressing her lips in a thin line as she tried kicking his leg from behind her.
As the bell rang, Nick rushed to leave the classroom, Jessica right on his tail. Before he could part from the classroom, the girl grabbed his shoulder and made him turn to her. "Seriously? How long does it take for you to come up with a name?"
He had a smirk on his face as she went off on a brief tangent. Noticing his amusement, she helplessly yelled out, "what?"
"Well." Nick began, clearing his throat as his eyes met hers, dancing with entertainment and speaking all matter-of-factly. "I actually do have a name now."
"And?" Jess shook her head, irritation bubbling in her stomach. Nick raised his brows as he moved his face closer to hers. She focused on his eyes, suddenly feeling herself unable to move. His face moved slowly to her ear, his breath tenderly tickling her neck; Jess at a loss of breath.
"Keep reading. You have to earn it, Day-dreamer." His words burned her cheeks as he leaned his face back to a proper proximity.
Flushed and angry, Jessica shook away the electricity still lingering in the air. Not being able to form many words, she blurted the three she could think of. "You're an asshole." Before she turned away, she gave him one last look. "And don't call me that." He shrugged with a smug grin, turning on his feet as he walked down the hall.
The girl leaned against the door frame, sighing to herself as she broke out of the trance he put her in.
Jessica hit her head against the door and grumbled. "What?" She whipped her head around to Ally's confused face.
"What happened to the happy-daydreaming-Jessica I walked into this morning?" Jessica grimaced at the word daydreaming as she recalled Nick's smug nickname earlier.
"I may have had a moment of weakness." She rolled her eyes, adjusting her backpack strap as she began walking the other way.
Ally smiled cunningly. "It's Nick, isn't it?"
Stopping in her tracks, she felt the urge to hit her head against the door again to double take that question. Or maybe get a concussion. Whatever is better, really.
Turning around, Jess glanced back at her friend, a concentrated look on her face. "What's Nick?"
"You two have been dancing around each other for months. You're thinking about him, aren't you?"
Jess made a disgusted face almost immediately. Deny, deny, deny. "Dancing around each other?" She scoffed with some laughter. "What does that even mean?"
"Your obvious flirting has become even more obvious now. I really shouldn't tell you this, but people are starting to make bets." Ally looked around suspiciously, ending her sentence in a whisper.
She incredulously looked at Ally. "Bets?"
But before she could further her questions, Ally ran down the hallway. "You didn't hear from me!"
Why was her school so weird? Jessica sighed and resumed going her merry way, all while not feeling so merry at all.
Jessica yawned as she dragged her pencil across the paper, attempting at answering a few homework questions as she laid sideways on her bed. Attempting definitely was a key word, because while her mind was occupied on integral equations, she was already stuck on an equation of her own.
Laying down her pencil on her bed, she rubbed her eyes with her hands, feeling exhaustion build on top of her eyelids and weighing down her lashes.
In between drifting off into a nap, she drifted into a trance.
"I don't think anyone saw me. It took a lot to get here." A voice began as he turned around to meet eyes with a familiar face. "I hope you know this is risky. There are so many shifty eyes out there."
The woman smiled and walked closer to the man. "We're in a shed in your backyard. You do realize that, don't you?"
"It's still a risk I'm willing to take, Jessica." He gently laid his hands on her shoulders. "Business works on and off the clock. Time could be running out."
She brushed her hair back as looked him deeply in the eyes. "How could time be running out when it stops around you, Pepperwood?" Jessica caressed his cheek with her hand, sighing longingly. "Can't we just have this moment? Here and now?" She added, taking a hold of his hand and pressing a kiss to it. Pepperwood slowly nodded and pulled her into his arms.
"We can. And more." He presses his forehead against hers. Jess blushed as she said her next words quietly.
"In a shed, Pepperwood? Are you sure about this?"
They both shared a shrug and a laugh before leaning in-
The brunette looked up from her pillow, wiping the sleep from her eyes. When did she doze off?
"Hmm?" She replied, as she opened her eyes bigger, vision coming back into focus. Cece was standing near the door frame with a blank expression.
"You take naps now? I swear, I've never seen the Jessica Day stop to actually take a nap."
Jessica rolled her eyes as she sat up, stretching her arms out in front of her chest. "You've never seen Jessica Day deal with Nick Miller for a whole day. I get tired because of his lack of intelligence."
"Unless..." Cece tapped her finger against her chin, a smile forming on her lips. "Someone didn't get enough sleep last night. Sleepwalk much?"
Her cheeks brightened pink.
"... and she isn't denying it. Where did you go last night?"
Jessica gathered her hair up with her hand as she got up to face her mirror, grabbing a hair tie "Nowhere important!" She shut down, shaking her head. "Just out. I couldn't sleep."
"Does out have a name?" Jessica met eyes with Cece, raising a puzzling brow. Chuckling and shaking her head, Cece sighed. "I heard you talking to someone. You know I'm a light sleeper."
"Last time I checked, you're dead to the world whenever your head hits a pillow."
"I had to pee!" Cece said defensively, waving it off casually. Jess shifted uncomfortably as Cece waited for her friend to reply.
"Look, you can tell me, you know. I'm not Abby-"
"Okay, fine." Jess closed her eyes and taking a breath. "Nick needed me, and-" She noticed her friend's smirk raise as she spoke, making her mouth droop into a frown. "He just needed some art supplies."
"And he needed you for that? At 3am?" Cece questioned, raising her brows further, growing interested in the details. "Interesting."
Jess shook her head as she walked over to her dresser, sitting down at the chair resting in front of it. She simply replied, "It's not that interesting."
Cece tilted her head curiously. "And why's that?"
She looked up from her dresser, making a face in the mirror. "I feel like I'm getting the third degree. Can you cool it with the questioning?" Cece opened her mouth again, but closed it as she nodded in understanding.
"Got it." Jess returned to looking into her dresser mirror, ruffling her hair slightly. Honestly, she still hadn't taken the time to catch a breath or a thought about what was going on between her and the boy. What were they doing? Were they just friends that randomly go out in the middle of the night? Friends who shared stories and teasing conversations with a pinch of harmless flirting?
"Now, uh, what should I go for? A half up, half down look? Or is that not chic enough for where we're going tonight."
Or was it actually causing more harm than good and she didn't know it?
"We're going out tonight?" Cece asked, her tone sparking interest and excitement. A smile flashed to Jess's face as she spun around in her chair to her friend.
"Yeah. What's a night out on the boulevard gonna hurt? I can't wait to see what's there for us tonight." She spun back around, grabbing a makeup brush off her counter. Cece smiled as well, joining her friend in the mirror as she pulled out a tube of lipstick.
"Yeah. And who."
"This was a good idea, Day." The model brunette remarked as they walked down Hollywood Boulevard. "It's not every day where I can look up and down the street at two super cool things. An outside fair and the Walk of Fame?" Jess chuckled as she bumped her friends shoulder.
"You sound like such a tourist." She remarked as Cece shrugged as she lifted her drink to her lips, sipping through the straw playfully.
"Don't blow my cover, girl. You're more prone to get free shit." She giggled. Jess rolled her eyes, to which she replied, "and cause people to advertise stupid products around us."
"Free samples, Jess. That's what its all about."
Jess glanced at her friend and then at her cup. "If I really knew you right now, I'd also know that that isn't just lemonade." Cece flashed her a knowing look, a lingering smile on her lips.
"You know how I like to mix and match." She winked, taking another sip as Jess's arm brushed hers, the two walking at a slower pace down the street. Jessica's eyes shifted around the fair, spotting endless amounts of food stands and psychic palm reading tables. Chatter, dancing and music filled the streets of Hollywood as Jess observed the bright colors and music.
"This really isn't New York. Though it has the potential." A voice spoke from behind the two.
Jess whipped her head around, hair dancing over her shoulders as she spotted familiar brown eyes. A smiling Ally. Jess smiled back and greeted her. "Hey! Didn't expect you to be here." Jess gestured to Cece. "This is Cece. She's staying here for a while. Cece, this is Ally."
"Charmed." Cece smiled drunkenly, taking Ally's hand and lifting it, twirling the girl around. Ally gave her a confused smile as Cece giggled to herself.
"Don't mind her." Jess half whispered. "It was a long trip here."
"You know Ally? You're so right. This isn't New York." Cece shook her head up and down quickly, furrowing her brows. "If it was, it'd be awake every night. LA has made me a little sleepy, if I'm honest."
Ally nodded slowly in what appeared to be agreement but slight confusion, eyes lingering on Jess's.
"Well isn't it so nice that you traveled all the way here to see your friend?" Cece crinkled her eyes mockingly, a smirk glued to her face.
"I guess it is. However, there's been this really weird smell that's been polluting the air around here. You see, New York has restrictions on the use of marijuana."
Ally smiled, tilting her head slightly. "Yeah, well I think marijuana is a good thing for New Yorkers. Keeps them from being so uptight all the time, you know?" Cece's smile dropped as Ally stepped closer to the model, shrugging innocently. Jess felt like walking out of this conversation until she was back home in the safety of her bed.
"Well," Ally continued, ignoring Cece's death glare. "I'll see you both at school." She looked at Cece once more, a cheeky smile glued to her face. "If you ever come back to visit, of course. Nice meeting you!" Ally replied, dismissing the conversation as she waved, walking away to meet her other friend's. Jess turned back to her friend, a hard frown dragging her face.
Cece huffed and shook her head. "You know, I thought all Californians were supposed to be nice. I guess they had room for bitches."
"Cece, where the hell did that come from?" Jess furrowed her brows, placing a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"No, enough about me." The brunette replied, waving it off. "I can only handle one hazing at a time. We need to find your boy toy. Where is he, anyway?" She placed her hand on her forehead as if emphasizing her search.
"He's probably not here." Jess replied in annoyance, taking a bacon-roll-up from a serving plate. But of course, she spoke too soon. Cece noticed her friend's lingering stared, and joined to see what she was looking at. Or, who, rather.
"Now," Cece started again, a smile welcoming her lips. "That is a good hunk a' boy." Jess looked at her friend in annoyance, but glanced back to really take a look at the boy.
He was no longer wearing his hippy attire- oh no. Dare she say, he looked absolutely fine. Nick must've found that there was more to his closet than bell-bottom pants and plant t-shirts. A black leather jacket hugged and shaped his torso and arms. Between the unzipped jacket revealed a dark red shirt and regular blue jeans. He was borderline-aesthetic. She felt a flutter in her chest as she whipped around, smoothing out her brunette locks. Distracting herself from the situation at hand, she huffed in annoyance. "Cece, you're drunk. Why did you drink so much?"
Cece blinked a couple of times, suddenly looking at everywhere but Jess. She noticed the weirdness in her friend and was about to ask further, when she suddenly smelled a familiar cologne from behind her.
"Didn't expect to see you here." Nick smiled as Jess turned to the voice, raising her brows. Play it cool Jess, this is your weird hippy friend who sits behind you everyday.
"Hard to believe that I have fun outside of school? Nick gave her a knowing look and crossed his arms.
"Jess, you hum show tunes in the hallway and wear skirts with animals on them. I believe that you'd have more fun by writing songs in your house-alone."
Jessica frowned and narrowed her eyes at the boy. "Well, clearly I've proved you wrong."
"Not necessarily. I still think you'd rather be making songs right now with a plate of nachos." Jess fought a potential smile as she took another bacon-roll-up. She picked another up and held it in front of Nick's face.
"Stuff your face, Miller." Jess shook it in front of him, Nick eventually taking it and eating it. Shrugging, he set down the toothpick, mumbling that he's made better.
Before their conversation went further, Jessica was interrupted by the sounds of cheering and laughing from behind her. Nick's brows raised as his lips parted. Confused, Jess turned around and saw Cece.
Dancing on a table. She was moving her hips from side to side as she danced around in a circle. "To senior year, bitches!" She yelled, making everyone raise their drinks and cheer as she took a shot. Breathe Jess, breathe. Jess moved closer to the table and looked up at her friend. "Cece, get down from there!" Some people holding drinks gathered close to the obliterated girl; some cheering, and some sharing puzzled expressions.
"Who is that?"
"Does she even go here?"
"Quite the scene." Nick murmured from behind her. Jess shook her head as she grabbed her friend's arm. Cece sighed exasperatingly as she jumped down from the table, Jess dragging her to a corner of the room.
"Cece. What. The hell, is your problem? This isn't like you. Trust me, if you wanted to get drunk on dance on tables, we could've easily done it at my place." She trailed off, resting her hands on her hips.
Cece furrowed her brows and waved her off. "Of course this is me. Models are only supposed to smile, have fun, and look pretty, and I sure as hell don't need to explain myself to you." Cece drunkenly replied, rubbing her forehead. Jess raised her brows and stared at her friend, beginning to see pain fill her eyes.
"Cece, don't say that about yourself. You're the most confident person I know. Why would you-"
"Because Jess. Because." Cece blurted, her hands wiping some tears beneath her eyes. "I lost the internship, okay? I lost it."
Jess's lips parted in surprise. "What?"
She took a couple of breaths and shook her head. "Look, I just need some air." Cece dismissed as she walked toward the door, opening and shutting it behind her. Jess followed her and stopped when she saw Cece leaning against the frame on the outside, covering her face with her hands.
Jess sighed and sat down on the love seat near the door, closing her eyes to calm her nerves.
"Is she okay?"
She paused and looked up, sniffing as she opened her eyes. "Yeah, she's going to be fine. She needed fresh air." Jess shrugged, gaze lingering on her friend as she rested her hands on her thighs. "It's been quite the night."
Nick's hands slipped out of his jean pockets as he tilted his head, wanting to comfort the girl in some way. He noticed her concerned look on her friend, knowing she wanted to step in and help her. "Do you want to talk about it?"
Jess's gaze went from Cece to Nick as she slumped her shoulders up and down. He took her silence as an answer and carefully sat down next to her, not too close, not too far. She noticed his presence sitting next to her as her eyes remained down. "You know, when Cece first came back, I thought it would be just like before. We'd have the same humor and the same thoughts. But honestly, I don't think that she's the same Cece I waved goodbye to at the airport."
Nick nodded as she clasped her hands together. "And tonight... I've never seen her that way. We've gotten drunk and stupid together, but this Cece was drinking to get away from something." She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, her face deep in thought. "I guess New York isn't completely what she thought it'd be."
There was silence after a while. Nick dropped his head momentarily, trying to think of what he could possibly offer this girl. He turned his head to her after a moment, shrugging. "Are you the same Jess she saw through those airport windows?"
She stood still for a minute, thinking about it. Months before senior year, Jess never sought to have any crazy adventures. She was gonna stay completely and utterly focused on work without any distractions in her way. And to never have any secrets from her best friend. Especially about a boy.
And well, here she was.
"No." Jess shook her head. "I suppose not." She pressed her lips together, sighing inwardly as her chest grew heavy. "Does that make me a bad person?" She wondered out loud, mostly to herself.
Nick shook his head, almost chuckling to himself. "Jessica Day. Lacking focus in her math class? Yes." She narrowed her eyes at him. "But a bad person? No. No, that's not you. You're probably the most... not-bad person I know." He added, a half smile on his face.
She smiled as met the boy's eyes, lingering her gaze for a moment that felt too long. Nick noticed a strand of hair right next to her eye, and felt an urge to caress it behind her ear. So why shouldn't he just do it? How would she react? He felt his muscles tense as he found his hand rising up to move toward her face, watching Jess's eyes.
Jess watched the reluctance in his action, her lips parting as his hand lightly brushed her temple, feeling electricity surge down her spine as his hand softly grazed her skin.
"Jess, can we talk for a minute?" The door flew open as Cece exclaimed, eyes set on the two. Jess, taken aback and a little dazed, moved herself away from Nick almost immediately as she stood up and faced her friend.
She nodded as they both went outside, Jess catching Nick's gaze once more before they closed the door behind them.
The two sat on the first step of the stairs as Cece explained what really happened behind the story of losing the internship. Jess watched as her friend took a reluctant breath, and slowly began.
"The internship was fun at first. It felt nice knowing i had a professional job in the city. That I'd left everything behind for such a mature step in the right path." She paused, eyes focused on the steps beneath them. "Well, not fun. They really just had me do a bunch of coffee runs and printing."
Cece sighed, setting down her beer beside her. "They had me edit first. It's the price I paid for mentioning my computer experience with excel and all that crap. They had me edit all the models they took pictures of. Enhance their boobs, curve their waists, add all the magic of pure Photoshop. Guess you could say that they were a pretty generous internship having me edit and all. It was fine at first. I knew it was gonna be a while before I could actually become a model."
Jess offered her a water bottle which Cece gladly accepted. "Hydrate."
"And so um, a month or two later I asked about what I could do in order to take bigger strides toward modeling." Her gaze lingered behind Jess, sighing inwardly. "They told me I had to earn it." Cece's face hardened, swallowing uncomfortably as her eyes met Jess's again. "I didn't realize how naive I was until I was alone in my boss's office. He said 'this is what models do' and that this was my golden ticket to earn it." Jess gaped at her friend, eyebrows aligning in concern. "But," she caught her breath and shook her head. "I didn't let him do anything. I stormed out before he could touch me."
"Cece..." She put her hand on Cece's arm. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
Cece straightened her posture as she finished the remains of her water bottle. "I didn't want you to worry about me. You always see me as strong and I believed that I was because of you. And I handled it myself. But doing so is what cost me the internship."
Jess nodded, feeling her chest heavy again. "I can't lie and say it didn't mess me up somewhat psychologically. I guess there's some part of me that believes I wasn't worth it from the start. And that the only way to really make it into the modeling business was..." She trailed off. Jessica shook her head and covered Cece's hand with hers.
"No. There's no way in hell that's true. That isn't who you are and it wouldn't be. I know you." Jessica defended, shaking her head as she got Cece's full attention. A smile formed her friends face in response, eyes lightening with gratitude. They both leaned in and hugged one another.
"Let's go grab our stuff and get out of here." Cece stated as she stood up, a smiling Jess joining her as she tugged on her jacket.
"You're right." She said, flipping her hair out from under her jacket. "Let's." As she held her arm out to have Cece link it, Cece crossed her arms questionably.
"Aren't you gonna say goodbye to someone?" Cece smirked, her attention turning to the boy as she briefly opened the door. Quickly and without hesitation, Jess shut it in a swift movement and shook her head.
"No need. I think I've had enough of this party." She turned back toward the stairs. Cece skeptically stood by the door in her place as her gaze remained settled on her friend.
"Have you, though? You two looked pretty cozy when I-"
Jess slammed a hand over her friend's mouth. "No. That never happened. Alcohol is a very stupid influence."
"ifwasdethinitleeworezenzheakahol" Cece replied while the hand rested on her mouth. Jess huffed and removed her hand. "Okay, in English. It was definitely more than the alcohol. Haven't you noticed the little dance you two have been leading?"
"What dance? Cece, is this beer talk?"
Cece lowered her head and gave her a look that read, "really?" without any verbal explanation. "The one where you guys are doing middle school dance rules and you're spinning on your tap shoes trying to figure out your feelings."
Jess narrowed her eyes at her friend while crossing her arms. "Okay, seriously? A dance? Why does it have to be a dance? We're not dancing around each other. We're not doing the tango in the school hallway. There is no choreography being done in any place, anywhere." She waved her hands dismissively, causing Cece to chuckle.
"Alright alright, don't break a sweat, Day. Whatever you say." She shook her head, linking arms with Jessica. As they began walking down the stairs, arm in arm, the girl still couldn't help but glance from the corner of her eye. In her field of vision, she saw a specific boy leaning his elbow against the door frame. Jess felt Cece's knowing eyes on her and blushed uncontrollably.
"Shut up." She muttered as they bumped hips, walking side by side. After a while, Jess felt something dragging under her feet and stopped in her tracks. Lifting her leg to view the bottom of her shoe, she raised her brows. No. How?
She peeled a small sticky note off her heel, unfolding and reading it carefully.
A chapter a day keeps a Jess at bay. Till tomorrow, Day-dreamer. x
Hearing a stifled laugh next to her, she felt her cheeks heat up as she bit back a smile, covering it with an awkward frown.
OKAY OKAY i know its been wayyyyy too long. BUT I'm back. I've been revising this for wayy too long and being wayyy too picky. I hope 5k words can satisfy until I post next time. I hope yall liked this one :)