by silly escape

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the authors. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.

Thanks to Bronzehairedgirl, and Butterscotch who are both spectacular betas!

Part 1: Jessica's Boyfriend

I couldn't understand why Mike had broken up with me. He'd used every cliché in the book. It's not you, it's me. We can still be friends. I need space. Seriously. Actually, I did know what it was all about, no matter what he said. Bella Swan. He'd had a crush on her from the beginning, but when she somehow snagged Edward Cullen, it made her the forbidden fruit. It was the beginning of the end for us. Maybe the same thing would work for me. I had to give it a try.

It hadn't been easy to find someone. I needed someone who would make him jealous. He was friends with all of the cool guys, and none of the others would bring out the green-eyed monster in him. But fate had finally smiled on me in the unlikely embodiment of my cousin Nick. Or, more specifically, Nick's college buddy, Kyle. They'd come up to Forks for a couple weeks of hiking and fishing. I'd never met Kyle before in my life, but Mike didn't know that. The thought made me smile as I entered the Newton's store.

"Hi, Jess," Mike called from behind the counter. He frowned briefly, then, with a tentative voice, asked, "Can I help you?"

"As a matter of fact you can. I'm looking for a present." I fluttered my eyelashes.

Mike emerged from behind the counter. "Did you have anything specific in mind?"

Damn! I hadn't thought about the fact that I would actually have to buy something. Something utterly useless, as I couldn't really give it to Kyle. Maybe Mom and I would draw Nick's name for the family gift exchange at Christmas.

"Something romantic," I sighed, making sure to lift my chest.

Mike's eyes wandered for a moment. He grinned sheepishly and asked, "What about a price range? That might help me make some suggestions."

"I don't know, fifteen, maybe twenty dollars?" I shrugged. "Maybe more if it's something just perfect." Let him think about that.

"Who's it for? That might help, too," he demanded.

That was easy. "My boyfriend. His finals are over, and he came to visit for a while. Blowing off some steam now that his freshman year is finished."

He took the bait. "You're dating a freshman?"

"In college," I added coyly. He raised his eyebrows. I had him hook, line and sinker. Now to reel him in. "He's on the soccer team. Lots of muscles. Soccer players have to be such great all-'round athletes, you know."

Mike went into sales mode. "How about a battery powered shower?"

I wrinkled my nose and shook my head. "That sounds kind of girly for someone like Kyle."

"We have micro-tools in all price ranges," he assured me.

"What's a micro-tool?" I feigned interest.

"It looks kind of like scissors or pliers, but it has lots of tools you can use for hiking or camping." He held up some contraption with little parts coming out all over.

Looked like something that geek, Eric Yorkie, would use. "No." I puckered my lips as I spoke. I'd made sure to use a new lipstick that made my lips look pouty.

"Here's a Coleman LED Micropacker lantern. It has two really bright LEDs, and this reflector slides up so it will project light, too." He showed me how it worked, exhibiting all the moving parts.

"Hmmmm, that's nice. What else?" I looked up at him, batting my eyelashes again.

He glanced around the shop, his eyes landing on a higher shelf. "If you're willing to spend a little more, this is a really cool lantern. It has a remote control. You can turn it on from up to thirty feet away." He picked up a clicker and squeezed it. The lantern began to glow.

Oh, this was tedious. How did people get excited over these things? It wasn't like it was a new purse or a trendy skirt. This wasn't anywhere near as cool as an iPod. I couldn't imagine working here like Bella did. Sure, Mike's parents owned the store, so he was stuck. Maybe Bella liked leading Mike on. Oh, what was Mike saying?

"Maybe a hammock? You can get a pretty good hiker's hammock for around twenty bucks. Not anything deluxe, but a decent nylon corded one." He led me across the store.

"That could be fun even when you're not hiking," I mumbled just loud enough for him to hear. I flashed him a grin to make sure he picked up on the implications of that statement. He handed me what looked like a bag of rope. Fine. It was under twenty dollars. I tried to look a little embarrassed about what I'd said – I wished I could blush like Bella. "Kyle would love it. I'll take it."

While Mike rang up the hammock, I leaned against the counter. It hit right at my chest, so I could accentuate the positive. Sometimes, being short was a blessing. I handed him the cash, and he tossed the receipt into the bag with my purchase. "Don't you have gift wrap?" Mike just rolled his eyes.