AN: Thanks for the feedback! This chapter will contain some character building for Odette, I'm not too experience with that so we'll see how well it turns out.


Odette stretched herself out across her bed, the light sheet she often used as a blanket twisted and wrapped around her hip and thigh, taking up almost the entire bed. Glimpses of the past night returned to her with the realisation that she hadn't slept that well in ages. The man responsible for that was nowhere in sight, but that she had expected, and in some way she even appreciated not having to deal with the 'morning after' awkwardness.

It was only after her feet touched the floor, when she noted the unusual placement for her issue of the Financial Times on the bedside table and the number scribbled down on the edge. She smiled for a second - at least the guy was polite, unlike many of the guys in her past, and there had been quite a few. She snapped a picture of the number, just in case the cleaning maid were to toss it, but she really had no real urgent aim of calling him. She had enough on her plate.

Odette showered, dried herself off, moisturized her skin and brushed her hair, allowing it to dry naturally. Opening her bathroom cabinet, she took her complex B vitamin, folic acid, along with Q10 and vitamin E and a few drops of vitamin D in oil form. Unlike her mother, who clearly preferred the nip-tuck verison of aging, she wasn't like that. Sure, she dyed the grey out of her hair, spent a small fortune on supplements, organic smoothie powders and lotions, but this way she at least felt like she was doing it the natural way. She really wasn't bothered by the shallow crows-feet in the corner of her eyes, it was rather the state of her ovaries that she was worried about. And despite getting a clean bill of health from the clinic in January, she still knew that the odds of getting pregnant for a woman above the age of 35 was almost half of that of a twenty-something, plus even lower if doing it by the IUI. While she had the facts, she had still had high hopes for the first try, and the failed attempt had left her a little discouraged. Maybe it was already too late? And maybe it was not meant to be?

Odette was in no hurry to go anywhere that morning, hence she simply pulled on a comfortable bamboo wrap dress, she often wore at home, and headed downstairs for breakfast.

"Good morning," she greeted Rory who was sitting at the kitchen table, reading the New York Times, having slept late after her early morning dessert feast, now sipping on a fruit smoothie of some sort.

"Hi," she replied.

"How's your hand?" Odette asked with concern, glancing over her hand and arm, covered almost up to her elbow in a gauze. Odette began making herself a banana blueberry spirulina smoothie bowl, one of her favourites.

"It's painful, but they said that I'll probably be fine. I just need to go in every couple of days to change the dressing and see if the anti-inflammatory meds are enough. Showering is going to be tricky," Rory noted.

"Well, tell me if you need my help," she offered. It was not that they were exceptionally close, but as she was at home, mosty upstairs checking on her stocks, reading and trying to keep her brain fresh by listening to some professional podcasts, she was available to help her when Logan wasn't around.

"I should be fine, tomorrow is the weekend already," Rory replied.

Odette blendered her smoothie, and poured it into her bowl, adding a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and some dried strawberries for color. She liked eating with her eyes.

"Do you want some coffee?" Odette offered putting the water on the meanwhile.

"I just had some coffee earlier," Rory replied, having just gone cold turkey on caffeine that morning because she'd gotten a positive pregnancy test at the ER the night before. It was too early, and she was too scared to really tell people, having already lost one baby early on just months ago.

"Well, I hope it heals fast. Burns suck," she replied, beginning to wonder if she'd ever in the couple of month's she'd known Rory, heard her refuse coffee before.

As Odette took her coffee and smoothie bowl up to her room, having her own routine of checking over her messages and news alerts, some of them were still set up from the time she was actively working in London. As she walked up the stairs she wondered whether Rory was aware of her visitor last night. She wasn't going to bring it up if she wasn't, but briefly she did consider whether Rory would have a problem with it. Surely, Rory was happily married, as happily as possible under the shadow of the ongoing pretence, but Jess was still her ex and her friend.

Her week continued as usual. She worked a little, as much as was needed to make sane, not too risky, analysis based decision on the stock market, she kept herself up to speed on the businesses she was concerned with, her former clients and, looking forwards, the clients of her contacts here in New York, as she had been considering at some point beginning to freelance for them again. She exercised - pilates, swimming and some type of cardio which she varied depending on the weather and mood from running to dance classes. She really wasn't too picky, and just aimed to keep things versatile. She read for learning, and for her enjoyment, almost never opening the TV. She liked to do her shopping herself, handpicking the groceries at the market, but usually having them delivered to save her from the hassle.

It was Tuesday night, when she'd just finished reading 'Midnight Sun' by Jo Nesbo, when she pulled up her laptop and started to browse new books. She did this at least every other week, quite often going by recommendations on Goodreads, Tastedive or some bloggers that she followed. After about three books in her shopping basket, she suddenly recalled another author she'd been meaning to look up. Typing 'Jess Mariano' into the search field yielded only one meaningful result on the site she usually ordered from, leaving her slightly disappointed. She was sure, he'd mentioned there were several. She googled a bit more, soon finding his author page with links to shops that carried his earlier books, along with his professional social media account. She ordered the three books that were in stock, from two different places, and clicked 'follow' on his professional Facebook page as a show of support. She briefly considered retracting it, wondering whether that could be interpreted as stalking. But as they had talked about books and this was just his professional page, she let it be.


"Hey!" Jess called Rory later that week. He had been meaning to call Rory all week about setting up her more permanent contract with Truncheon but his task load had taken up all of his time. He enjoyed working with her - there was never any question on whether her work was of good quality or on time, he wished he could lighten his own worload to her frankly.

"Hi Jess," Rory answered.

"Listen, Logan suggested I call and discuss your contract details with you. I figured I might just as well call, I've been staring at the screen non stop for a week now, it's my chance to catch a break if I called instead," he explained. His eyes were already dry and itchy, making a mental note to go buy some eye drops.

"Oh, sure," she agreed.

"So what are you thinking? Full time? Half time?" Jess asked, hopefully. He needed all the help he could get.

"Definitely half or a little less even, I have a feeling I'll have my hands full…," she said. Her tone was slightly apologetic, hesitant even, making him wonder why.

"Alright," he replied a little disappointedly. Based on Logan's words last week he'd almost been sure Rory wanted to work a lot more then she had in the past months. "Are you still working on that book of yours? We didn't really have a chance to talk much about that last week," he said, wondering whether the book was the reason for her hesitance. He thought for a long time how Rory should really write a book about her life growing up - there were too many stories out there, much like his, with broken families that hardly functioned. Rory's story was unique. It was dysfunctional but in a strange, preppy and comforting way, full of moxie. It showed how women are capable of incredible things, despite not being perfect. He would've loved to publish that book, and buy that book. But Rory was insistent on trying to do this independently, and had only accepted his recommendations writing her proposal and to list possible editors, which he had carefully handpicked and even called to check on them beforehand whether there would even be interest. He'd almost done the work of an agent for her without getting anything from her. He had been glad to do it.

"Yeah, sorry if I ruined your evening. Or maybe I didn't?" Rory said with an audible smirk.

"You didn't, don't worry about it," he replied. Rory's accident definitely hadn't ruined his evening, he still kept thinking back at it. It was rare that a one night stand made him reminisce, but it was almost comparable to getting to drive a brand new flashy sports car for an evening - something lavish, extravagant and normally completely unattainable. He wasn't even a sports-car kind of guy, really, but it was the closest comparison he'd managed to come up with. And while the topic was far from unpleasant to him, he didn't really want to discuss it with Rory of all people. "So how about that book?" he insisted, changing the subject.

"I'm sorry, I should've told you. I really appreciated everything you did for me, with the book proposal and everything, but I just haven't been able to pick it up again. I just can't make myself write it anymore... It's just dead," Rory admitted.

"That's too bad," he commented. He knew Rory had it in her to write that book, but there was only so much he could do in this case. He wasn't upset for having wasted his time and he wasn't about to rub it in, knowing she'd been struggling with a lot recently - her issues with her mom and the strange arrangement she had going on with Logan. He just hoped that maybe someday that book would in fact get finished. "So what are you keeping busy with then?" he asked, curiously.

"I'm starting a course at NYU. It's part of the teaching program there, I figure I might get an early start. I got accepted to their programme that starts in the fall," Rory explained and only then Jess recalled her having mentioned that briefly when he'd visited.

"Huh, Rory Gilmore - a teacher. I can totally picture that," Jess commented. Rory had even tutored him once, though it hadn't been too successful thanks to the tension in the air and his reluctance to learn, but her attempt had been a strong one. It sucked seeing a friend so lost - Rory was great at so many things, but somehow she hadn't found that one thing that she was content with.

"Ahem… It's Huntzberger," she corrected.

"Now that's a useful bit of information to put to your work contract," Jess chuckled. All her e-mails still said Gilmore, but naturally it made sense - she was married but trying to hide it. "So alright, I'll put in part-time, leaving you with the flexibility but say with a minimum of 10 hours a week. You can have your pick of the fiction titles that are in the folder, which I'll share with you, and you report back to me. Hourly salary is the same as you've had so far, but with the permanent contract you can expect to have a yearly raise of 10%. There's insurance and dental, and all the standard HPG benefits. But you can read all about that once I send you the contract," he explained. "Though you probably have very little interest in the actual salary and benefits part taken from your new status," he added, realizing he'd just wasted a bunch of words explaining something completely irrelevant. Rory didn't really NEED to work at all these days, and in a strange way she was not working for him, even if she had a contract that said otherwise, but Rory owned the majority of the company which he essentially worked for.

"This all sounds fine, just send it over," she replied, friendlily.

"Hey, Rory," he began, after a brief silence, thinking whether he should even bring it up at all. He really wasn't sure why he was asking this, maybe it was just curiosity, or the thrill of the chase of the unattainable, or perhaps… he was screwed if it was THAT. "I was wondering - would a guy like me have a chance in hell to actually try to date Odette?" he asked. He recalled clearly what Odette's intentions were and that she didn't want anything serious, believing all relationships were more trouble than they were worth. However, he almost felt the challenge in this - a drive to prove Odette wrong.

"She hasn't mentioned you specifically but based on what I know of her past relationships I would say 'yes'," she replied, recalling Odette talk about one of her serious boyfriends, who hadn't been from a high society background either. While it hadn't worked out well, that was because of her family, not because she had an issue with it. Now, hopefully, her family was no longer an issue. Rory ponder whether that last statement was in fact true - Rory had herself thrown Odette a real curveball by marrying Logan, Odette just had the pretence protecting her and that wasn't going to last forever.

"Ahah..," Jess breathed out. He felt a strange sense of hope, he even tried to shake it off, not quite understanding his fascination with this particular chase. And with Odette's goals in life so clear to her, clearer than he'd heard from any woman so far, Odette certainly was not just someone who would just put all that on hold simply so he could enjoy his chase. But he wanted to try... something.

"I'm not sure if it's my place to say, but you know she is pretty imminent on having a baby like now, right?" Rory added.

"Yeah, I know. She told me," Jess replied.

"Oh, and you don't think she's….," she began.

"Using me?" he chuckled. "You trust the woman to be your stand-in or whatever, but you don't trust her enough to not trick me? You ever think that maybe instead of using me she might be just grabbing the opportunity to relax and enjoy herself and I happen to be one of the few people that's also in on the secret?" he huffed, defensively. Odette had been honest with him - why would she lie? - not hiding her agena while she easily could've. It was strange that just after knowing her for a few hours, he actually trusted her word.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that," Rory said. "I guess I just don't know her well enough to know what she would and wouldn't do in this situation. I know how badly she wants that baby, I've had her cry on my shoulder… I just got worried," she added.

"Just don't, Rory, I'm capable of taking care of myself," he replied. He regretted asking for Rory's advice, feeling like she was getting the wrong idea of this. She was getting her all wrong.