He's in front of me. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Wanting me to say what he wants to hear.
His broad shoulders. His brown hair falling over his left eye. His chocolate brown eyes staring at me, willing me to speak. And he's close. So close. He's everywhere. He's all I can see.
"Say something," Jake whispers again. I can see his thinly controlled patience starting to unravel as he waits to hear my response.
"Tell him," my heart and my head say at the same time.
"Jake, you know I care about you," I start.
"Bullshit," he barks, shoving his hands in his pockets. His eyes flash briefly with anger and passion and something else... Before I can pick up on it, it's gone.
"What?!" I quip. I can feel my temperature rising. I know I'm starting to get angry.
Pointing his finger at me, he says, "Maddie, that's a cop out and you know it. I want you to tell me something real. Tell me how you feel about us." He takes another step forward. "About me," he says.
Crossing my arms, I blurt out, "Fine! Want me to tell me how I feel about you! Here goes!" Wow. Real mature sounding, Maddie. "When I knew I was coming back home before graduate school, I hoped I would get to see you. When we started hanging out together, I've been the happiest I have ever been. To wonder for a long time if we have any chemistry and finally finding out we do, it's amazing. If I'm not with you, I find myself thinking about you. When I am with you, you are all I can see."
Rocking back on his heels, he quips, "I just wanted to hear you say it."
"You are so arrogant," I state.
Shrugging his shoulders, Jake says, "I'd like to think of it as extremely self-confident."
His smugness is chaffing me. Does he think this is easy?!
Before I lose my nerve, I say, "But I don't think it will work."
Tilting his head to the side, he looks at me for a beat. Shaking his head, he answers, "Sorry, Maddie. I'm not buying it."
"Look, Jake. There are several reasons why this won't work," I point out.
Mimicking my stance, he crosses his arms and says, "Then let's hear it."
Holdind up my fingers, I start to tick off the reasons why we won't work. "One," I say, "long distance relationships don't work."
Interrupting me, Jake says, "Seriously? People do it all the time. Sorry. That's a bogus reason."
Continuing, I state, "Two, we haven't been together very long. Sure, we kind of knew each other in high school but we don't really know each other."
Jake throws his head back, roaring in laughter. "Maddie, my parents met, fell in love and got married within 3 months. They were married 30 years. Try again."
Ignorning his obvious smug satisfaction, I plow forward, "Three, there's Sam."
At the mention of Sam, Jake loses any trace of laughter and instantly sobers up. "Maddie, I know you care about Sam. And I feel bad that he saw us together. Honestly, I do. But you can't tell me you feel the same way about him that you feel about me. I see the way you look at Sam. And I see the way you look at me."
Reaching out, he places his hand on the base of my neck. My skin is on fire where he is touching me. Every time he touches me, my body reacts of it's own accord. I'm not close enough. I want to be closer. I want to climb into his arms. I want to melt into him. I want to feel my skin pressed against his. Wait! Focus, Maddie!
Lowering his head to look into my eyes, he simply states, "Maddie, you are a coward."
Okay, this really kills the romance vibe.
Feeling a sudden flare of anger, I push him away from me. I say, "I may be a lot of things but I am not a coward."
Spreading his arms wide, he says, "Maddie, you are scared of being with me. Scared of how it makes you feel."
Leaning down towards me, he braces both hands on the counter beside me. "Maddie, I know how I feel about you. And if you are honest, you know you feel the same way about me. We would be good together and you know it."
"Jake," I start.
Shaking his head he says, "Maddie, I want to fight for us. I just never knew I would be fighting you."
Suddenly, Jake reaches out, grabs my hips and pulls me to him. He brings his mouth to mine. He kisses me angrily.
Even though I know he's angry, I can still feel myself responding to him. His taste. His smell. He's everywhere.
As our kiss deepens, it turns sensual. His mouth is caressing mine as if to memorize every detail. Our bodies are pressed together and I can feel every detail of his lean frame. His hands push my hips into his and a soft moan escapes my lips.
Jake lets go of me abruptly and takes a step back. His cheeks are flushed and his lips are swollen. He runs a shaky hand through his hair. He is staring at me like this may be his last time.
Standing there gulping air, I try to slow my heart (and my hormones). I want him back in my arms. I don't want him to stop. Wait. That's not what I want. Is it?
Jake says, "Maddie, I want you. I want all of you. No more excuses."
I open my mouth to speak and Jake puts up his hand to silence me.
He goes on, "But it's up to you. You have to make a choice. Let me know when you do."
And with that, he turns on his heel and walks out of the house, closing the door behind him.
I lean shakily on the island in the kitchen.
He's right. Damn him. He's always right. No more indecision. I have to choose.
And here is another ginormous piece of the puzzle. This answers some questions from the very first encounter with these two but I still feel there is more stuff "in between".
The "in-between" is the good stuff! (Just think about a sandwich. The "in-between" stuff makes it a sandwich. Without it, it's just bread. And who eats just two slices of plain bread, nobody.)
So I'm gonna work on that...
For those of you new to 'Jake and Maddie', you can discover their story here. With more here, here, here, here, here and here.