Disclaimer: All recognizable The Bold Type characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners including, but not limited to Freeform. The original characters and plot are the property of the author of this fan fiction story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No financial gain is associated with the publishing of this story. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's note: Happy 100th story to me! I seem to be on a roll with these Janequeline pieces. These two characters are so easy to write! This will be a slower, emotional piece that won't necessarily dive right into angst and won't be a tedious slow burn like "Waiting for This to Evolve" was. It's of a safer rating than the last two as well. I'm pretending for the sake of plot that Ian isn't in the picture. I hope you enjoy it! Likely will be the last one until the new season starts in a month. –dkc
Not For Long
It had stung to end things with Ben. He was a wonderful man, a sweet and kind human being. But she knew it was the right thing to do. She couldn't in good conscience allow him to help her with her fertility problem. His offer of a domestic partnership to help her afford having her eggs frozen was sincere. He had no ulterior motive. That's just the kind of person he was.
Jane missed Ben, but she wasn't lonely. Her life had gone on without missing a beat. In fact, she'd been able to really focus on her work with the time she had on her hands. With Kat attempting to "find herself" in the wake of breaking up with Adena and Sutton attached to Richard, Jane was on her own often. She wasn't lonely or so she kept telling herself.
"Jane?" a familiar voice pulled her out of her thoughts. "Why are you here so early?"
Jacqueline Carlyle looked stunning in black. Jane had long thought this about her boss. Her skin tone and hair color looked all the warmer against the dark backdrop. Even at a few minutes before six in the morning Jacqueline looked amazing.
"I couldn't sleep so I thought I'd get an early start on today's edits," Jane looked and sounded tired. She had dark circles under her eyes.
"Is everything okay?" the boss looked concerned as she leaned against the corner of the desk and folded her arms. "Why aren't you sleeping? Is this about the fertility treatments?"
Jane occasionally managed to forget how much Jacqueline knew about her life. It was an occupational hazard. Jane wrote best when she wrote about issues that were personal to her. The fallout Jacqueline had endured after Paris was largely due to Jane's very personal article on her fertility treatments. They had taken a hit for it. Even though the party in Paris had been a success, the failure of the new website rollout and overall loss of readership was put on the Editor-in-Chief.
"No, I wouldn't say that. Sleep is hard to find. It'll pass. Why are you here this early?"
Jacqueline pulled up a chair and sat near Jane at her workstation.
"Would you believe that I, too, had trouble sleeping for no particular reason?" she smiled.
"Can't decide about fertility treatments?" Jane's sarcasm made Jacqueline laugh.
"God, no. That ship has sailed."
There was something relaxed about Jacqueline this morning. Perhaps it was the emptiness of the office at the early hour, the lack of chaos that would inevitably have her worn down later in the day. Perhaps it was how at ease she was with Jane. What she had done for her promising writer while they were in Paris had developed a friendship that had teetered between nothing and something over the last six months. Jane liked seeing this side of her.
"If you want to talk about it," Jane was serious in her offer. "Whatever it is, I'm here."
Jacqueline was moved.
"Thank you, really," she stood and nodded before going to her office to start her day.
Jane was curious, but wouldn't push. She was only starting to find her footing in this new space where she and Jacqueline seemed to exist as friends. She also understood the precarious nature of sharing their personal lives. Jacqueline was still an ethical, careful superior and professionalism was a priority to her.
"Jacqueline? Do you have a minute?" Jane stood at the glass door, waiting for an invitation to cross the threshold.
"Do you mind if it involves coffee?" the response came from the woman whose eyes were glued to something on her laptop screen.
"Do you have to ask?" Jane entered.
"Have a seat on the couch," she was instructed before Jacqueline stuck her head out the door to ask Andrew if he would get them coffee before he left for the night.
"What's up?" Jacqueline took a seat near enough to Jane on the couch that a hint of perfume touched the brunette. She'd come to love that fragrance.
"I was working on the edits to my piece and I'm finding it impossible to make sense of the vibe I'm getting from digital. Should I apply your notes and call it good or how do I incorporate both when they are polar opposite?" she asked.
Andrew came in and placed a tray with coffee on the couch in the space between the two women.
"Thank you, Andrew. You may call it a night. I will see you in the morning."
"Goodnight," he exited and they both doctored their coffee.
"You pose an interesting question and I'm going to be perfectly honest with you, I don't have a fucking clue."
Jane was not expecting the honesty or the profanity and sprayed her first sip of coffee in response.
"Oh my god!" she turned bright red and grabbed for the Kleenex box to clean up the mess she had made. "I am so sorry!"
Dabbing up the coffee, Jane breathed a sigh of relief that she didn't get coffee on the red couch or on her impeccable boss.
"Don't worry about it," Jacqueline grabbed the coffee tray and moved it to the nearby table to get it out of the way. "I caught you by surprise."
"You could say that, yes," Jane laughed nervously.
"I tend to avoid using profanity around the office. But Patrick, well... Here is some more honesty for you: I have no idea how this arrangement is supposed to work with one person over digital and another overseeing print in a magazine as small as ours. This is uncharted territory for me. It's understandable that you and your fellow writers are unsure how to do your work," Jacqueline sounded tired.
"Can I ask you a personal question?" Jane's voice softened to appear as nonthreatening as possible.
"Of course," Jacqueline nodded with some trepidation in the unknown.
"Would you do it differently if you had it to do over? Not you as leader of Scarlet, you the..." Jane didn't know how to word it.
"The generally level-headed, rule-following badass?" Jacqueline threw the writer a lifeline.
Jane smiled at this.
"I was going to say woman."
Taking a slow sip of her coffee, she hoped a wise thought would materialize. Jacqueline wondered what exactly was being asked. Was Jane asking if she regretted going to bat for her? If not, then what?
"Not for a second," she reached a hand out to offer reassurance. "You are worth it."
No sooner had the words exited her mouth, Jacqueline was kicking herself. She should have said she didn't regret printing the piece despite the heartburn it caused the board of directors and the investors. She shouldn't have made it personal.
"That's nice of you to say," Jane bashfully looked down into her lap.
"Can I ask you something?" The blonde's voice was low and unmistakably hesitant.
"What is it?" she began. "You aren't sleeping. You're working longer hours than even the workaholic boss. There's something. And it has nothing to do with my choosing to publish that piece."
Tears burned in Jane's eyes. How could someone being so nice be this hard to handle?
"I broke up with Ben," she said finally looking up into comforting, gentle blue eyes.
"I'm sorry, Jane."
Jacqueline realized her hand had never left the other woman's knee. She gave an apologetic squeeze. She still didn't pull away. She felt an inexplicable pull toward Jane and a need to touch her.
"It's okay. Really."
"If it is preventing you from sleeping, it's not. At least in my experience that is how these things play out. It will get better, though."
Jane tilted her head into her hand, an elbow now propped on the back of the couch.
"I believe you told me once that heartbreak takes time. I don't doubt that. It already is getting better," she said. Whether she was saying that because of this budding friendship she wasn't sure.
"What is it you're doubting then?" Jacqueline asked.
"Is my doubt that obvious?" she chuckled.
"Your mind is a beautiful thing, Jane."
A light tint of pink reached Jacqueline's cheeks. She was still capable of surprising herself. Twice in less than two minutes she had uttered something that she wasn't expecting.
"I doubt my motives," Jane let Jacqueline off the hook. "Don't you ever make a decision you're certain was the right one, but you can't be sure which reason you actually did it for?"
"If it's the right decision, does it matter?"
"Shouldn't it? Shouldn't we care that we act for the right reasons and not for unacknowledged ones?" Jane's final words were laced with mystery.
"Can you elaborate or would you rather not?" The blonde had many, many questions.
"Another time? It's late and we've been here for a very long time. Maybe another day I'll have these thoughts sorted into something coherent."
Jacqueline's hand touched Jane's where she was holding up her weary head. The way she looked at Jane exhibited such regard and adoration.
"I am not in the habit of doing this, but I want you to call or text me, day or night, if you need to talk or even to have someone who can speak over all that noise in your busy, brilliant mind."
The young woman was choked up.
"Clearly, it's time to go home," Jane rolled her eyes, frustrated with her tears. "Thank you."
Jacqueline was about to pull away her hand when she gave in to what her heart most wanted in the moment. Her hand found Jane's cheek, the pad of her thumb wiping away the few tears that had fallen. Jane's eyelids briefly shut as she burned the feeling into her memory.
"Would you like a ride home?" Jacqueline's voice was unsteady in a way Jane had never heard. She had pulled her hand back slowly despite it feeling as if she had been scalded by those tears.
"Thanks, but I think I'll walk for a bit and then catch the subway. Some air would do me good," Jane stood.
"Be careful." The words sounded so peculiar to Jacqueline once she heard them. "Try to get some sleep tonight."
"I should say the same to you."
Jane was turning toward the door and Jacqueline to her desk when the younger of the two did something that she didn't overthink.
"Jacqueline?" she all but whispered.
The tall blonde turned and found herself enveloped in a hug. For as many times as a hand had touched another in reassurance, rested on a knee to show support or held the other's in a moment of distress, the two women had never hugged. It fed their broken souls and bonded them. Clinging to one another for a few beats, when they parted there was no embarrassment or awkwardness.
The writer whispered a similar statement as she exited through the glass door to the empty, dark bullpen.
"Good morning!" Jacqueline strode into the conference room either with a newfound energy or going through the motions.
The staff took their seats and quieted down.
"I hope you all got a good night's rest. Today is going to be a lot of work."
As she mentioned sleep her eyes looked to Jane. She didn't much care if the staff got sleep, but she did care if Jane did. She cared a great deal.
"Let's hear reports from department heads and then I'll hear a pitch from each of the writers. Kat? Why don't you get us started? Tell us what's going on with social media."
Jacqueline sat down and jotted a few notes as Kat gave her report. She looked out the corner of her eye at Jane to gauge how she was. She seemed less tired than she did the night before, but her mind was clearly elsewhere. As Kat directed everyone's attention to the smart board with each platform's numbers for the week, Jacqueline took a post-it from her things and, in her flowing handwriting that was recognizable to anyone who had ever worked for her, wrote a question: Sleep? it read. She slid it to Jane, reminded of passing notes in junior high school. Looking at the note and then glancing at her boss, Jane gave an appreciative smile and a subtle nod. Jacqueline was relieved.
"Sutton? What does Oliver have planned for tomorrow's photo shoot?" she transitioned back into HBIC.
Reviewing her notes on her piece, Jane tuned out everyone until it was her turn to speak. When she was called on she looked at Jacqueline with confidence and explained both her pitch and it's origin. Focusing on work was the best thing for her. The affectionate support of her newest friend also helped.
"If I hadn't seen you get on the elevator occasionally, I'd think you lived here," that pleasant voice drifted through the once again empty bullpen.
It had been several days since the two women had been alone together. Jacqueline hadn't been kidding when she told the staff it would be a hard week. The current issue was to be their most ambitious. The newly named digital editor seemed annoyed that the entire staff had shifted focus to the print edition and he was in turn behaving like a child.
"I'd say you're keeping tabs on me," Jane playfully shot back.
"Hmm... Can you blame me?" Jane gestured to the chair next to her and Jacqueline sat down.
"Oh, of course. It's because I'm so wild and crazy. Highly entertaining."
Jacqueline smirked at this.
"When alcohol is involved, maybe."
Jane refused to look over. She was afraid she would give away too much. She quite enjoyed their time together drinking on a certain red couch.
"Hey, I have been largely professional. I haven't said anything crazy or mortifying while drinking in your company," she fake pouted.
"That you know of," she teased.
"If I had said certain things, there's no way you'd be able to keep that to yourself."
"Is that so? What certain things would those be?" Jacqueline said as she grabbed Jane's bicep playfully.
There was pleasant pushing and pulling, a game of wills as well as physical teasing fueled by apparent sexual tension. Both women thought it best they pull back, but neither did so. When Jacqueline pulled Jane's chair toward her by its padded arm, they were side-by-side and looking at one another. It was when Jane's eyes traveled lower, mesmerized by Jacqueline's lips that the two of them became untethered from the situation and surroundings. Leaning over, Jacqueline instigated a kiss, if it could even be called that. Her lips barely brushed Jane's before parting. Yet it was the most charged kiss Jane had ever shared.
"I suppose that's my cue to go," the blonde's voice was gravelly, no sign of regret in it.
"You don't have to for my sake," Jane looked down at her feet and then back up at her boss. Her boss! What the hell were they doing? she wondered.
"I should for both of us. I am supposed to be the one with an eye on the line between professionalism and... well..." she had no good definition for she and Jane.
"Us." Jane was candid.
Nodding and humming her agreement, Jacqueline stood, straightened her skirt and looked to Jane's screen.
"Don't stay too late. You need to spend some time outside this building."
The taller woman smiled before placing a hand on Jane's shoulder and briefly clutching it. God, what had she gotten herself into? Jacqueline questioned.
"Goodnight," Jane spoke as Jacqueline was walking away.
She received a wave in response before a different kind of wave overtook her, this one carrying a metric ton of feelings. The wave crashed right into her.
"Good morning! Where are we at?" Jacqueline walked into the meeting with her face glued to her phone. It wasn't until she looked up that she realized Jane wasn't in the room.
"Will Ms. Sloan be joining us?" she asked the room, but looked at Alex as if he would know where she might be.
"I believe she called in sick this morning," Alex shrugged.
"Onward and upward then," the boss said.
Jacqueline attempted to get back into the zone to hear pitches, but her mind was on the missing writer. The night before was fresh in her mind. She had briefly kissed the younger woman. She would be extremely concerned had she not received a text late into the night from the woman at issue.
I know this isn't what you meant when you said I could call or text you anytime day or night (I do apologize for the late hour), but if you could see my face right now you'd know exactly where the mind-blown emoji originated.
There was nothing in the text indicating Jane was freaking out. She wouldn't be the person she was if she wasn't playing it over and over in her mind, but she would have bluntly called it a mistake if she had felt that way. Jacqueline had always valued Jane's honesty.
Jacqueline didn't think it was a mistake. In fact, she felt it was the best decision she had made in weeks. It may have been problematic professionally but on a personal level it was thrilling. She needed thrilling.
After slogging through far too many bad story pitches, the editor-in-chief left the conference room for the quiet of her office. She had a lunch to get to and an afternoon board meeting. She needed to get her head in the game.
Using her passcode, Jacqueline stared at her phone for a minute before pulling up her messages. She opened a new message and scrolled through her contacts before arriving on Jane's name. She thought out what to text that might not appear overbearing.
You owe me one good story pitch that makes up for your esteemed coworkers' lack of interesting pitches, she typed and hit send.
She watched those three little dots dance on screen.
That bad, huh? I'll up my game just this once, Jane was coy.
Jane had an unusual ability to get her characteristic tone into text.
Everything okay with you?
The thing is, it didn't matter if her employee called in sick for reasons other than illness. But she was curious what had kept Jane away.
Yes. I hadn't planned ahead for an appointment and had to take a sick day to swing it. I may be back in this afternoon. Will you be around? Jane asked
After the board meeting, yes. Come find me.
Their texts now over, Jacqueline put her phone down and began gathering her notes for the board meeting. The thought of seeing Jane later would get her through whatever absurdity the board subjected her to today.
Jacqueline glimpsed Kat and Sutton exiting the fashion closet. Kat had a worried look on her face. Sutton appeared to have been crying. She had a sinking feeling, suspecting that it had something to do with Jane.
Taking a chance, the editor opened the door to the fashion closet and there stood the person she was afraid would be there. The brunette was getting herself together, the tracks of her tears quite evident.
"Hey," Jacqueline projected concern.
"Wasn't I supposed to come find you?" Jane chuckled while wiping her face.
"I saw the girls leave and I thought I'd find you here," she stepped forward and placed a hand on Jane's forearm. "What happened?"
Looking down at the caring hand and then up into glistening blue eyes, Jane saw a support she couldn't remember feeling from anyone other than her two best friends.
"I met with my fertility doctor this morning. The issue of freezing my eggs remains a financial one. The new obstacle is that given how young my mother was when she died, I need to have the ovary removal surgery immediately. I thought I had more time."
"Oh, Jane," Jacqueline pulled her into strong, compassionate arms.
As hard as she tried and as much as she thought she had pulled it together, Jane broke down. She sobbed. She couldn't have if she didn't feel perfectly safe with Jacqueline.
"It's going to be okay," was whispered over and over again.
A hand rubbed her low back and another held Jane's head tight to her, the sobs slowed, hiccups ensued and eventually the shorter woman calmed. She wiped the tears from Jacqueline's neck and pressed a soft kiss where her forehead had been. The blonde closed her eyes for a moment, opening them to see red, puffy eyes looking at her.
"Now you've seen me ugly cry," Jane shook her head. "I'm sorry."
"You have nothing to apologize for."
Jacqueline wiped a few remaining tears from Jane's wet face and rubbed away a mascara streak.
"Why don't you take the rest of the day? You don't need to be here," Jacqueline offered.
Shaking her head, Jane resisted: "If I go home I will day drink, cry on my couch and otherwise feel sorry for myself. Besides…"
"Besides?" the query came when Jane didn't continue.
Letting out a breath and looking down, she couldn't bring herself to say it. Jacqueline sensed that it was something Jane was ashamed of. She put a finger under her chin and tilted it up so she could see those brown eyes.
"What is it?" she asked gently.
"I need to be close to you," Jane rolled her eyes.
Encircling the writer in another hug, letting out a breath she didn't realize she had been holding, she kissed the crown of Jane's head. For all the analyzing she had been doing since Paris, Jacqueline could only conclude that what she felt for Jane was pure and worthy of exploring. She hadn't ever experienced this before. She knew her responsibility as Jane's boss, but she also felt an obligation as Jane's friend to be open with her feelings.
"There's nothing wrong with that," she meant it.
"You aren't just being nice?" Jane mistrusted it.
Pulling back to give a look that perhaps revealed more than she was ready to, Jacqueline tried to lighten the moment as best she could.
"Did you bump your head and forget that I kissed you?"
"Oh no, definitely not. That was unforgettable," Jane was unequivocal.
"Good," Jacqueline smiled. "I'd like to think I leave an impression."
Jane chuckled. Good god, this woman, Jane thought, she has no idea.
"If you're staying, you better work on that pitch. I believe you told me you'd step up and give me something I can work with since your esteemed colleagues dropped the ball."
"I'm on it!" she answered as they reluctantly parted.
Heading toward the door, Jane stopped Jacqueline.
"Hey? I feel like this happens a lot when we leave a room, but thank you," Jane said.
And the editor meant it. Anytime.
After keeping busy all afternoon, it was six when Jane looked up and realized the time. She hadn't pitched her piece to Jacqueline yet; she hoped that her going forward with the research and interviews would be forgiven. She thought about that old adage: 'Better to ask forgiveness than permission.' She suspected that wasn't her boss's view.
"Do you have a second?" Jane poked her head in the glass door.
When Jacqueline looked up and saw those chocolate eyes, she recognized how quickly she could fall for this woman and perhaps she already had.
"Can that second include a drink?" she asked.
"Hmm... I don't know. Somebody told me I might say things while drinking that I wouldn't have any memory of."
Jane had a way of putting a smile on Jacqueline's face when it was most needed. It had been a long day for the editor-in-chief, too.
"I promise to pay no mind to whatever you say should you become inebriated," she made the 'cross my heart' gesture.
"Hey, would you like to get out of here to have that drink? I know a place that's quiet with a fairly comfortable couch and copious amounts of wine," she didn't need to say anything further for the blonde to know she was referring to her own apartment. It wasn't a proposition.
Jacqueline gave pause to the offer. Her mental battle of late with her innate professionalism gave way to her own wants.
The writer smiled knowing that it wasn't an easy decision for her boss and yet her answer was firm and simple.
"Where is Sutton this evening?" she asked out of concern about their privacy.
"She has been spending most of her nights with Richard. They are going to a performance tonight."
Jacqueline began closing things down and packing her bag. She stopped at one point to look up at the young woman in her doorway.
"What is it?" Jane worried.
"You amaze me," she admitted.
"What? Why?" Suddenly self-conscious, Jane fidgeted with the handle of the door.
"You had a terrible morning, spent the entire afternoon buried in work and you're still able to bring levity to the moment—certainly levity to my life."
Jane smiled bashfully and held the door open for Jacqueline.
"And here I thought I was making your life far more complicated than it need be," she was frank.
They walked through the bullpen without continuing the conversation in front of the stragglers that remained at workstations. Jacqueline said goodnight to a few employees before they reached the elevators.
Staring ahead until the elevator doors had closed, they remained silent.
"You don't really think that do you? That you are making my life unnecessarily complicated?" Jacqueline asked without turning her head.
"I don't know what I think, strangely."
Exhaling when they reached the lobby, they stepped out and made their way to the lobby doors. A black town car was waiting. The perks of being with Jacqueline Carlyle, Jane thought. Not with with her. She cringed.
Standing in the small kitchen, Jane watched Jacqueline's eyes scanning the apartment. She often wondered what was happening in Jacqueline's head.
"What?" she asked.
"You're staring," Jacqueline smirked.
Jane blushed. She handed over a glass of wine and took a long, slow drink of her own. How had she already managed to become a schoolgirl with a crush on the teacher?
"And now you won't look at me," Jacqueline teased. "Do you think you will ever be able to completely relax around me?"
They both understood the question.
"I relax just fine in a crisis or after several drinks," Jane dodged.
"Jane?" Jacqueline put her glass down, leaned a hip against the counter and put a hand on the brunette's shoulder. "If you and I are going to continue to spend time together, you're going to have to—"
"Stop thinking about you as my boss?" Jane sighed.
"Well, yes, that would probably help, but I understand why that's difficult. I can't stop being your boss. I can only do my best to put that aside when I am with you," her voice was airy.
"Let's sit down."
This time they sat without space or a coffee tray between them. Jacqueline put an arm along the back of the couch and Jane rested a cheek against that forearm. Kicking off her shoes, Jane pulled her knee up and placed her foot against the blonde's thigh.
"Can I...it's really none of my business..." Jane felt incredibly uneasy when it came to mentioning Jacqueline's life outside Scarlet.
"Here's the thing," Jacqueline placed a hand on the brunette's cheek. "I think it is your business. This is unusual, yes. You have been nothing if not forthcoming about your life. I owe you the same."
"But it's my job to be forthcoming about my personal life, isn't it? That's what I write about."
"You didn't write about Ben," she countered. "Unless I missed the pitch, you aren't writing about your ovaries. These are very personal things that you have shared with me not your boss."
"I'm going to say something and I don't want you to be offended. Have you done this? Have you... with another employee... another writer? God, I don't even know what this is. I'm sure you have had work friends before. But I, I mean—"
"Jane, you're rambling. Why don't I take it from here?" Jacqueline said, turning her body further toward Jane.
Jane could only nod. She hated when her insecurities turned into word vomit.
"It's a legitimate question to ask and I am not offended. You don't know about my personal life so there's no way for you to know if I have a history of getting close to employees."
"I didn't mean it in a lecherous way," Jane interrupted before being shushed.
"The answer is no. In all my years in publishing I have held myself to a hard rule about involving myself with my employees, even in a friend capacity. I want to be a mentor with boundaries. And I've never had—" Jacqueline was now the one struggling to find the right words. "There have been no office crushes, no flings, no affairs. Of course, I was married for the majority of that time."
Jane nodded, trying desperately to find words that wouldn't sound ludicrous.
"I have had work friends before, Richard and I are friends, but there are certain things he and I can't share with each other because of the nature of our jobs. I didn't know about Sutton before Paris. I've never had friendships with staff I directly supervise. I've enjoyed my staff over the years, but in my support of them I still kept them at arm's length. Which leaves the bigger issue."
"This." Jane need not say more.
The blonde allowed her fingers to graze an ear and slip into brown locks.
"Would it freak you out if I told you that I don't know what this is or where it's going?" she looked into Jane's wide eyes.
"That makes two of us," she muttered.
"I can't describe it. What once felt like intrigue, my captivation with you, became something like jealousy, my envy of your talent, but then something happened and I don't know what exactly it was."
"I need to..." Jane's thought trailed off.
"What, Jane?" Jacqueline had to know.
Without saying another word, Jane leaned in and pressed a kiss to unsuspecting lips. Unlike when she had been kissed, Jane pressed hard. There would be no doubting this kiss. There would be no wondering what it meant. She felt Jacqueline relax into it after several seconds and that's when she decided to try a bit of tongue. She was quickly rewarded for her confidence. It wasn't until the kiss ended that she realized her own hand had been atop Jacqueline's thigh and much higher than she would have intended had she not been lost in the kiss.
"Mmmkay, this works for me," Jane smirked, Jacqueline laughed.
"And you know what?"
"Hmm?" Jane's brow furrowed.
"We haven't even finished a glass of wine."
Jane laughed and again rested the side of her head against Jacqueline's forearm. After the blonde reached for her wine glass and had a sip, she held out her hand to also take a drink from her glass. She could feel Jacqueline's eyes watching her throat when she swallowed.
"Jane!" the sudden sound of Sutton's voice in the entryway startled both women. However, Jacqueline didn't make any attempt to pull back. She took her wine glass back and only mildly tensed. Jane felt butterflies in her stomach from that stubbornness.
"Oh! Jacqueline!" Sutton was surprised, but she took it in stride. Her gaze noted her best friend's head resting on their boss's arm and her foot resting against their boss's thigh. What was this? she silently pondered. "I didn't realize you had plans tonight, Jane. I came home thinking you might need company after the day you had. I see you found company."
"We were having a drink," Jane explained.
Sutton stifled a knowing smile.
"I should be going," Jacqueline went to stand, Sutton holding up a hand to stop her.
"Don't leave on account of me. I should have texted."
"It's late and we've all had a long day. It's for the best," the blonde looked at Jane for her approval, the small woman nodded.
"Let me walk you out," Jane stood as well, ignoring her shoes and picking up the bag her boss had brought in with her.
"Goodnight," she smiled and then mouthed oh my god as Jane walked past her.
"I'm sorry about that," Jane said as they arrived at the front door. "I truly wasn't expecting her home tonight."
"That was nice of her to be worried about you. She's right, you needed company tonight," Jacqueline said.
"Thank you for coming over tonight and for today in general. I don't know how I would have made it through this day without you," she took a soft hand and brought it to her lips.
Eyeing her carefully, reading what wasn't being said, Jacqueline lowered her hand, leaned in and offered a tender, sensual kiss.
"Goodnight, Jane," she whispered.
The door opened and closed and like in a rom-com, Jane leaned against the closed door to catch her breath and still her rapid heartbeat.
Jacqueline Carlyle was standing at the mock up wall staring at proofs when she heard Alex call out a question to her. She made her way to his workstation and try as she might, Jane couldn't tear her eyes away. Tight, white pants were a temptation.
Jane had finally been given her old desk back and up until this moment she'd loved it. She was back amongst her fellow writers. Plus she could gawk at the boss in her glass-enclosed office whenever she wanted. Having her desk back was a blessing and a curse. The curse was playing out. As Jacqueline began talking to Alex, the writer pointed out for her a problem in his layout. Bending down to get the best view of his monitor, the leggy blonde had given the person behind her a glorious view of her ass. That person happened to be Jane. She gulped. Hard.
"Jane, are you having this same layout issue? Is it software or presets in Alex's interface?" Jacqueline turned around and immediately realized what she had done. Jane was red and squirming in her seat. She had been caught admiring her boss's ass. It hadn't occurred to the editor that she was putting her ass on display.
"Umm...let me see," Jane's voice cracked and it took her a moment to put together what was being asked and whether her computer had the same problem or not. "What am I looking for?"
Stepping behind Jane and leaning down to get a view of her screen, Jacqueline noticed the hitch in the writer's breathing. Pointing to the perimeters in the settings column, her arm grazed the brunette's upper arm. Her other arm sat on the back of Jane's chair, her fingers lightly touching the woman between her shoulder blades.
"Alex read me your settings again," she asked and listened to the numbers he rattled off.
Looking at Jane, the boss knew where her head was. She had caught those brown eyes exploring the slight bit of cleavage Jacqueline's shirt gifted her. The blonde could feel her nipples hardening and she knew how terrible the timing was. She was trying to do her job. She was trying to be professional. Dammit, Jane, she wanted to hiss.
"I'll make a call to IT. This isn't going to work for the final layout," Jacqueline said as she pulled back from the monitor, the side of her breast grazing Jane's shoulder as she did so. This time the brunette gasped.
"Thanks, Jacqueline," Alex said, his presence having been forgotten by the women.
"You're both welcome," she said as she walked away, those white pants doing her legs wonders.
The three of them were running in Central Park, Sutton insisting that a good run would cure the hangovers they were each experiencing to different degrees. Kat had the most to drink the night before as woman after woman bought her drinks. Sutton drank the least, oddly, and Jane was turning down every man that approached her, keeping her alcohol intake down.
"Are you ever going to tell us what's going on?" Kat stared Jane down as they stopped at a bench to breathe and stretch.
"I'm not sure what there is to say."
"Look, Tiny Jane, we aren't being judgmental, you know that. We want to be supportive and we can't if we have no idea what is going on. All I know is that when I got home the other night you were very cozy with our boss on our couch," Sutton said.
"Are you done?" Jane tilted her head.
"Would you like me to start in? Because I have things to say," Kat put a hand on her hip.
"IdontknowwhatitisandIdontwanttojinxit!" Jane spit out.
"So it is something!" Sutton stabbed at her friend.
Jane shushed her.
"Have you two…?" Kat couldn't help herself.
"No!" Jane shushed her, too.
"Alright, alright. We'll back off, but there's a time limit on our letting you figure it out. Sutton isn't very patient."
"I'm not?" she pinched Kat's ass.
"I vote for eggs and bloody mary's."
Jane took off running. Sutton and Kat rolled their eyes and took off after her.
"Hello, Jane, do come in," Jacqueline's tone was dripping with sarcasm.
Jane had flown into her office without any warning. Had Jacqueline seen her barreling across the bullpen she would have held her hand up in an attempt at stopping her. The likelihood it would have actually stopped Jane was slim. She was remembering a moment in that very space when Jane didn't respect the stop sign and continued to yell at Jacqueline in front of the staff.
"They seriously are considering giving the entire operation over to Patrick?!" she fumed. "Are they fucking insane? Have they met that slimy son of a—"
"Stop. Now!" Jacqueline stood from her desk, cut her off and motioned for the writer to sit down in the solitary chair facing her boss. "There are dozens of eyes on this office right now. If you need to take a minute, compose yourself."
The editor-in-chief had her hands pressed palm down on her desk. The pressure she was exerting made her question the desk's integrity. From the outside of the fish tank she looked like she might strangle Jane in fury. From her side, she knew that if she didn't hold tight to that desk she couldn't trust her next move. Angry Jane was sexy.
"This is what is going to happen, are you listening?" Jane looked up at a stern Jacqueline and knew the tears in her own brown eyes did not match whatever it was the blonde was feeling. "We are going to talk about this. You and I. Not now and not here."
Standing and making her way out of the office without so much as a glance Jacqueline's way, she didn't hear the release of a shaky breath.
Sitting in a long silk robe over her pajamas, Jacqueline relaxed into the arm of her couch while reading a book. She appreciated the silence after the god-awful day she endured.
Her phone chimed and a message appeared: Are you busy?
Jane. The two of them hadn't talked since the younger's outburst at the office that morning.
No. Is everything okay?
Those often stomach churning three dots flitted on the screen as Jane apparently was typing and stopped only to do it again. Finally the message came across:
Can I come over?
Jacqueline's stomach was definitely doing something, churning it was not. The only time Jane had been to her loft was after the yelling incident in the bullpen. That, of course, was not why whatever was happening deep in her belly was happening. What did Jane have in mind?
It was an unnerving twenty minutes of waiting for the sound of the elevator. Jane, too, appeared as if nerves had been working on her on her ride over. But she was quickly distracted by Jacqueline's attire. She could see pajama pant legs out the bottom of the blonde's robe and thus decided there must also be a top on under that robe. The thought of there not being a bra underneath made her mouth dry. She had no shame admiring her boss's body before finally looking up and seeing the glasses she saw infrequently. Jacquelyn Carlyle was even more of a knockout relaxed at home before bed than in any power suit or party dress.
"Come in," Jacqueline was actually blushing after being so thoroughly admired. "Would you like a drink or tea?"
Jane responded only by reaching for a hand and using it to lead her boss to the couch they had once before shared. They sat much in the same position they usually did, but this time closer than even when they were at Jane's apartment.
"I owe you an apology," Jane began.
"For which?" The question provoked raised eyebrows from Jane who felt she'd missed something critical.
"For storming into your office and behaving unbecomingly. Was there something else?" she asked.
"You put me in a terrible position," Jacqueline answered and saw the pain cross Jane's face, believing how sorry the writer was. "You cannot raise your voice to the boss. If you want to have it out with me in private, that's another matter, but in that building you have to show respect and control."
"I didn't mean to show any disrespect," Jane bristled at that particular word. "I swear to God, Jacqueline. That's the last thing that was."
Curling closer to Jane and holding the small woman's attention, unbroken eye contact that no longer made either uncomfortable, Jacqueline asked the question she already knew the answer to: "What was it then?"
Taking a deep if ragged breath, Jane prepared to say something she hoped would not break whatever momentum had been growing between them since Paris.
"I was angry for you, sure, but I was defensive and protective—overprotective."
Jacqueline offered a soft smile that served as an promise that she wasn't afraid of this.
"Do you think I don't know that?" the older woman brought their hands together and lifted them so that she could press a lingering kiss to one of Jane's knuckles. When she lowered their hands she held them against her chest where they both felt her heartbeat. "I appreciate it, truly. It wasn't the right venue."
"Yes, I know that now. I don't know if you have noticed this about me but I can be a bit passionate and my hotheadedness surfaces at inopportune moments," Jane rolled her eyes.
Jacqueline laughed at this and finally lowered their hands to her lap. There was a hint of disappointment in Jane's mind when she didn't have the opportunity to even slightly brush the back of a hand on a tempting breast to answer once and for all the question of whether there was a bra underneath. In any event, she marveled at how perky those tantalizing breasts were.
"What was the other thing?" Jane wondered.
"You really don't know," it was spoken either as question or realization, neither knowing which outweighed the other.
A wicked expression on Jacqueline's face brought some understanding to Jane who felt her body temperature rising at the thought.
"You were turned on?" Jane's tone was almost reverent.
"Overprotective is a very sexy look on you," Jacqueline's voice was gravelly. "It took all of my energy to appear as if I were disciplining your behavior. I pressed my hands against my desk hard enough that they ached an hour later. I wanted to text you, tell you all about it. I also wanted you to think about why you could never do that again."
"It's a precarious position you are in and I haven't appreciated that as much as I should have," Jane took one of those hands that surely no longer felt the ache but warranted attention nonetheless. She began a slow massage.
"I'm not in this alone," Jacqueline all but whimpered at the relief from Jane's attentive touch.
"Am I going to have to quit my job again?" Jane asked with unsteady seriousness.
Jacqueline's eyes snapped up and saw both fear and something akin to sacrifice.
"Tell me why you think you would ever have to."
A supportive hand reached for Jane's hip, imparting whatever she could in that touch as they embarked on this conversation that probably should have happened before now.
"You and I are... involved. You are the boss. Your job is in question on a daily basis if not from the board and the man who believes he is God's gift to the world, from the outside. The people in the industry who wait for you to fail in hopes of making themselves feel better that even the great ones stumble. I am impetuous at times. I don't have a poker face. My best friends more than suspect that you and I are... sleeping together. You have children, a life, a stellar career—all of which would be worth throwing me under the bus for at the first sign of trouble."
A single tear fell down Jacqueline's cheek at the idea of throwing Jane under the bus for any reason.
"Is that what you fear? That I will hurt you?" she whispered, barely holding herself together despite a valiant effort.
"Not intentionally. But if one of us is expendable, it is me."
Jacqueline would not stand for this and reached for Jane's face, framing it as she gave a genuine look of love.
"Hear me when I say this, Jane: You are not expendable. I would walk through fire for you. I would quit Scarlet; hell, I'd leave the industry long before I would allow for you to be hurt professionally or personally."
Tears met Jacqueline's thumbs as Jane was overwhelmed by the emotion she saw in the blue eyes that had roped her back in.
Leaning her forehead against the blonde's, Jane took a moment to find composure. She wasn't expecting this when she asked to come over. She had wanted to apologize. She had wanted to make sure they were okay. She didn't expect for them to discuss the future.
"If I might add to a day of inappropriateness and tumult, I'd like to...I need to... oh, fuck it! I love you."
Jane felt like she was falling up. Those three words were far from any she thought might leave Jacqueline's mouth today or any day. Her breath caught, her heart reached her throat. Pulling back to look at this incredible human being, she felt the stream of happy tears fall down her cheeks.
"Please say something."
Jacqueline never projected insecurity yet here she was baring her soul and scared to death that it was the wrong thing. It was the only way she could express how much she cared. Jane had no words to do the moment justice. But she had a kiss, a sensual, adoring kiss that started slowly until it became hot and heavy, passionate and frenzied. Even for this writer, words were overrated.
When they parted for air there was such relief on Jacqueline's face; the fear had washed away with the tears and adrenaline. Soon a goofy grin surfaced.
"I have to ask you something very important," Jane feigned consequence.
Raising an eyebrow, they were each preparing for very different emotions.
"What is under your robe?" Jane smirked.
The full on belly laugh that was released joined the relief on the blonde's face.
"You've been wondering since you undressed me with your eyes when you first got here, haven't you?" Jacqueline stood and slowly, teasingly released the tie around her waist. Underneath was a silk camisole that complemented both her robe and her pajama pants. "What were you imagining?"
"Well, I'd hoped for nothing at all, but your pant-legs sticking out ruined that. I must admit to having been on the fence about whether there would be a bra," Jane stood, pulling the tall woman toward her by the sash of the robe.
"And?" the voice thick with arousal had lowered.
"Mmm... I very much like you in a robe and pajamas. You relaxed is apparently as sexy as me when overprotective."
Tangling her fingers in tawny hair, Jane leveraged her position to pull Jacqueline into another kiss. Releasing the robe entirely, she used her free hand to trail up the side of the blonde's faultless body until she was in a position to trace the outer edge of a full breast, beneath it and to a flat sternum. The certain path confirmed what she already knew—no bra.
Jacqueline released a grunt into Jane's mouth when the hand dropped from her chest. She was turned on, so turned on; she accepted that they had both had an emotionally draining day and now was not the time to further explore these waters.
"Sleep," Jacqueline hummed. "Stay. Sleep. We can start afresh tomorrow."
She didn't require the answer be verbalized.
"Jane," the editor waved her to the glass office.
Standing, smoothing out her skirt and making her way to the boss, a few sets of eyes followed her, many of whom had witnessed her outburst the day before.
She walked past Jacqueline into the office, that intoxicating perfume wafting to her nostrils and reminding her of the comfort it had offered as she held the blonde in her arms as they slept. They hadn't seen each other since the early morning hours when Jane woke to kiss her before telling her she needed to go home to get ready for work.
The writer was relieved when Jacqueline closed the door behind them. This wasn't always a given when the editor-in-chief called someone into her office. She was equally relieved when Jacqueline chose to sit next to her in the chairs across from her desk rather than behind her desk. Turning so that her back was largely to the bullpen and shielded the writer from prying eyes, she smiled sweetly.
"I missed you when you left," she said.
Jane's body buzzed with what it felt like to be missed by this extremely independent woman.
"Let's get off on a better footing here today," she meant the office. Their day together had already started off on very sound footing.
"I can be contrite," Jane proposed.
"That isn't necessary. Professional is all we need to present."
"Present your pitch as usual at the meeting and nobody will be the wiser."
Jane nodded before deviously smirking.
"Except for Sutton. She was awake when I got home this morning. She could smell your perfume on me."
Color graced Jacqueline's cheeks. It was cute to see her react this way.
"You did say they think we're sleeping together," Jacqueline chuckled.
"That they do. Though I suspect our definitions of sleeping differ."
Jacqueline stood knowing this conversation couldn't continue and that they both needed to prep for the morning meeting.
"Not for long," she said with complete confidence.
Jane felt a rush and knew she would have a lot of work to do to keep from losing herself to daydreaming during the pitch meeting.
Not for long.