Finally at home, Jessica sat up in her room with music filling the quietness. This time it wasn’t helping her like before. No, this time it was as if the music wasn’t even on. Replaying what was witnessed at the diner earlier over and over in her mind she wondered if Jason had finally ended things with that slut. But why now and did it have to do anything with last night? It was apparent that they were arguing about something. Watching Jason’s lips as he said “wife” was clearer than anything else. Jessica knew the argument was about her and for some reason that made her feel really content.
The ringer on her cell vibrated loudly on the night stand next to the bed. For a brief moment Jessica thought it could have been Jason. She knew from his reaction as he searched the diner that he noticed her car in the parking lot. It wasn’t Jason however, it was her brother.
“Hey Robbie,” she answered, lying back down across her bed.
“So why do I have to hear about your divorce from Jax instead of you telling me yourself?” Rob questioned her as soon as she picked up.
With a heavy sigh and rubbing her temple to ease the throbbing pain from imbibing too much alcohol she finally answered. “I didn’t want to bother you with all the drama. I know you’ve been busy.”
“Jess, how can you say that? I’m never too busy for you. You’re my sister. I will always be there for you. I want to be there for you,” Rob said with emotion, brining tears to her eyes.
“I know. It’s just that I wasn’t sure what was going on and when I finally made a decision I just had to get away for a few days. I was going to tell you the next time I spoke to you, I swear.”
“So what happened? Jax told me some serious stuff. I need to know if it’s all true. You know how Jax is when he gets pissed at someone. Wait, first I want to know how you’re holding up.” Jessica knew exactly what he meant about Jackson. He had a stubborn temperament. Once he was mad at someone he only focused on the bad.
“Honestly, I don’t know how I feel,” she admitted. “I’m confused. I know what I should be feeling and I’ve felt that. But then it changes and I feel…”
“You’re just scared sis. You have loved him for so long and now this change…it’s scary. It’s natural to be confused about it,” Rob summarized.
“What did Jackson tell you happened?” Jessica really didn’t want to discuss it but her brother was the only one right now who could look at this from the outside and give his perception of the situation. Rob had that ability to weigh the circumstances before casting judgment.
“That there was someone else. He said you found out and actually walked in on them.”
“That’s pretty much what happened,” she quietly replied as vivid memories flashed through her mind.
“So you filed for divorce already? What did Jason have to say about everything?”
“He said he’s going to try to change my mind before the 30 days is up. He says he wants a chance to try again,” Jessica’s voice was tinged with sadness.
Rob was quiet for a moment before he asked, “Do you think you can forgive him? I know it’s something you won’t forget, but can you forgive and move on?”
Now it was Jessica who remained silent.
“It seems you do still love him but at what price? Losing your sanity wondering who he’s talking to or sleeping with? You’ll drive yourself insane with insecurity. I’m not saying you shouldn’t give him another chance and I’m not saying you should either. Just walk away for awhile and weigh your feelings. Don’t let anyone tell you one way or the other. Just do what’s best for you. Most importantly, take time to heal. Then you can decide without a doubt.” He always gave her the best advice. She felt she could tell him anything and he always had an answer for her. It was weird because it should be the other way around. She was the older sibling here, but he was always more settled…down to earth even though he was also the joker of the family.
“Thank you, Robbie. You always know what to say. And you’re right. I need time before making up my mind. I need time away from Jason, away from California. Spencer suggested I take a leave of absence for a few months. I said no but now I think it sounds like a good idea. I was planning on visiting when Jane has the baby but I think I might just go now and help out until then. It’s only a couple of months anyway.” Making this decision was easier now that she spoke to Rob about it.
After they hung up she immediately called Spencer before changing her mind and took him up on his offer. He hated to lose her at the office but it was only for a few months. It was agreed that she would not go back to the office. Spencer would take care of her items there at her desk. After that was taken care of she grabbed her laptop and made flight arrangements. The next available flight was the red eye. That worked out fine, the sooner she left this place the better off she would be. After booking the flight she started packing.
The afternoon slipped away into early evening. Jessica went downstairs to see what was for dinner. Since her parents would be gone all weekend she had given Karen the day off. There was no sense in keeping her around to tend to her alone. Jessica was perfectly capable of making her own food and cleaning after herself. The fridge was packed with food. Not really wanting anything too heavy she settled on a banana instead. The doorbell sounded when she was half way up the stairs heading back to her room so she turned back around to see who was at the door. Jason was standing there looking disheveled when she pulled open the heavy white door.
“Jason! What happened?” Jessica was beside herself with worry as she ushered him inside. His dirty blond hair was tussled out of place. His shirt which was usually nicely pressed and tucked was now wrinkled and partly hanging over the waist of his pants. There was blood on his shirt from his busted lip. His left eye was in the early stages of bruising and was slightly swollen. “Oh my…are you alright?” Jason sat down on the sofa with a grunt and misery etched on his battered face. “Let me go get you a cold compress. I’ll be right back,” she said hurriedly as she started to stand up.
“No,” Jason finally mumbled, reaching for her arm not wanting her to leave him.
“But, you need something. At least let me get you a wet cloth to clean off the blood.”
Jason reached down holding his ribs. This was the second beating he had taken in a week. He took it and accepted it as retribution from what he had done. It was karma that he had brought upon himself. “Just sit with me.”
“Are you going to tell me what happened?”
Jason shook his head slightly. This second beating had been worse than the first but that didn’t surprise him really. He understood exactly why this happened. The attacker was only trying to protect his sister. It would be something he would do himself if he had a sister with a jerk of a husband. It was better if Jessica didn’t know who did this. But he had made a promise to see her this evening and he wasn’t about to break that promise no matter how much pain he was in or what he looked like. When Spencer had attacked him in the restaurant he had an audience so there was mild damage. Tonight however, Robert had no audience. He had met him in the empty parking garage as Jason was leaving the office. He knew what was coming as soon as he laid eyes upon his brother-in-law.
With a sigh Jessica sat back down next to him on the sofa. “Who did this to you? Please tell me something.”
“I’m alright. Don’t worry, I’m going to be fine,” he refused to give up his assailant.
Tears were blurring her eyes as she looked at his battered face. She was not the type of person to turn her back on anyone in their time of need no matter how hurt or angry she felt towards them. “Come on, I’m going to get you cleaned up starting with a nice hot shower to ease the aches and pains. I think Robbie still has some of his clothes here so you can change.”
“Jess, it’s alright. Just sit here with me,” he said as he leaned back against the cushions. He needed to close his eyes for a moment. Things were looking a little blurry.
“Don’t close your eyes! What if you have a concussion? Stay awake,” Jessica demanded as she reached in her back pocket for her phone. Thank goodness she knew exactly who to call. Having a doctor in the family definitely had its advantages.
Her brother answered his phone rather quickly assuming she already knew. “Hello,” he said with trepidation. No one in the family liked to get Jessica mad. She could argue anyone into submission and have them begging for her forgiveness within moments. It must be the lawyer instincts in her.
“Robbie,” she cried out losing the grip she held and allowing the tears to fall.
“Jess, what’s wrong?”
“Oh Robbie…” she cried out even more.
“Jess, what is it? Are you alright? Is it mom or dad?” Robert became worried.
“Can you come over?” Jessica pleaded her request.
“I’m on my way,” he announced without thinking of anything else but getting to his sister. He rushed over to his parents’ house running through the front door calling out for her.
“In here,” Jessica called out relieved he was finally there and would be able to help. Robbie hurried into the living room and stopped in his tracks. He looked at Jessica as she hovered over Jason. Jason eyed him from where he still laid on the sofa. “Help him Robbie, please…” Jessica pleaded.
“Uh, what happened?” Rob kept his eyes focused on Jason.
“I’m not sure. He won’t tell me anything,” Jessica said as she looked back to Jason. “He just showed up like this. I have no idea what happened or who did this. You have to help him. He was feeling dizzy just before you got here and he keeps holding his sides.”
“Hmm,” Robbie said still standing in the same spot. “Are you still feeling dizzy,” he directed the question at Jason.
Jason shook his head slightly, “I told her I’m alright. You don’t have to do anything.”
“Stop Jason, you’re hurt of course Robbie’s going to help you,” Jessica insisted.
As much as he didn’t want to do this, as awkward as this whole situation was already, Robert couldn’t say no to his sister’s pleas. He walked over to stand before Jason. “Ok, I’m going to check your pupil’s.” Rob gently felt around Jason’s head, examining for any sensitive spots as he continued to exam him. Next he checked his ribs. “Nothing broken, but you will be sore for a few days. I can prescribe you acetaminophen with codeine to help ease the pain. You should soak in a warm bath with some Epsom salt.”
“Thanks,” Jason said rather sarcastically going unnoticed by only Jessica.
“Anytime, count on that….Jess, can I have a minute alone with Jason?” Robert asked his sister. She found nothing odd about this request as the guys kept their eyes set upon one another.
“Sure. I’ll just go start the bath,” she announced as she walked from the room.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell her you’re the one who did this,” Jason said bitterly.
“I don’t care one way or the other. What I want to know is why you’re here?”
“I told Jess I would come by after work today. I wasn’t going to break my word,” Jason said with a grunt as he shifted trying to sit up.
“Why would that matter now? You already broke your word when you cheated on her three months after taking your vows,” Rob threw up at him.
“I told Jessica it was a mistake. I love her and I’ll do anything to save my marriage, even take as many beatings as you can dish out.”
“I’m going to stand by whatever she decides to do. But know that if she chooses to give you the benefit of the doubt and give you another chance, I will not let you hurt her again. Or next time, those ribs will be broken along with every other bone in your body,” Robert threatened rather menacingly. It was very unlike him…Jackson would be so proud.
Jessica entered the room and both men dropped the conversation. “Can you help me get him into the tub?” She looked over to Rob as she asked for his help. She would never be able to get Jason up the stairs on her own. He was in too much pain and she was afraid of him slipping on the stairs. Rob didn’t really want to help but couldn’t say no to his sister. She had a good heart. Not many people would take care of someone who had hurt them as much as Jason had done. He helped Jason stand to his feet and supported one side while Jessica moved around to the other. Slowly they made their way up the stairs and to the steamy bath she had prepared. It shouldn’t have been awkward for Rob to be in there as Jessica helped Jason out of his clothes since he was a doctor and everything…but it was. It was especially awkward when Jessica gasped loudly at the sight of the bruises that surrounded Jason’s rib cage. He looked terrible as if he had been in a car accident. Jason winced a few times as he moved his arms out of his shirt. Robbie took pleasure in that. It was the least he could feel after what he put Jessica through. What irritated Robbie even more was how he continued to manipulate his sister by getting her to tend to him after all of this. It was sick.
Just then, while Rob had to turn away not letting anyone see the disgusted look on his face, he noticed Jessica’s travel bag sitting on the counter. “So you decided to go after all,” he asked using his chin to point towards the open bag. He didn’t need to elaborate any more on what he just asked. Jessica knew what he was talking about.
She hesitated a moment as she look towards the bag then back to Rob. It wasn’t something she wished to discuss right this minute in front of Jason. Not with him feeling as terrible as he was. A simple “Yes” was all she spoke.
Jason, who was now being lowered into the tub, looked at Jessica before following their direction to the open cosmetic bag on the counter. “Are you going somewhere?”
“She’s going to New York for awhile,” Rob answered for her. He was not going to let this opportunity to enlighten Jason pass by.
With a huff under her breath and an evil glare at her brother Jessica spoke for herself. “I was leaving for New York tonight on the red eye. I have some time off and I’m going to help out Jane and Jax since the baby is due soon.” There was really no reason to explain her plans…to either of them.
“Oh, I see,” was all Jason could muster.
“Yes, well I think it will be a good vacation for you sis. You know, just to get away. Enjoy yourself and spoil those nieces,” Robbie added with a wide grin. “Hey you never know right. New city, new you…”
Jessica was irritated and felt like an explanation was now needed. “I’m not going on a vacation, Robbie. I’m going to help out Jane. You know she’s going to have her hands full. I’m coming back after a few months. It’s not forever.”
“Of course not,” Robbie agreed with a wide grin. “But I know you Jess. Once you get over there and spend time with Summer and the new baby you’re going to have a hard time leaving them. There’s nothing keeping you here.”
“What about the firm,” Jason interrupted.
“There are plenty of law firms in New York,” he interjected before Jessica had a chance to say anything.
“What about your life here? Your family…” Jason persisted with ways she would want to come back.
“Mom and dad are fine. They have their own life. They always have and always will. You can’t stay here just for that.” Rob looked directly at Jason. They were talking about her future as if they had a say in it and what’s worse is they were doing it right in front of her. It was absurd.
“What about you? You guys have always been close,” Jason kept at it.
“I’m always tied up at the hospital. Once I get done with my internship who knows, I might just join you guys on the east coast. We could all use some change around here.” Robert crossed his arms over his chest challenging Jason to say the only other option for Jessica to stay. He knew Jason was just thinking about himself and he was waiting for him to admit it. He wanted Jessica to stay here in LA and give him another chance.
Jason looked at Jessica. She was furious at Robbie for talking about this now in front of Jason especially since he was badly wounded from whatever had happened to him tonight. What was he trying to do? Jason was in no condition for all of this right now. She would have preferred to tell him later at her convenience.
“That’s enough, Robert. Thanks for stopping by to help out but I think I’ve got it under control now,” she said seething with anger. “I’ll walk you to the door. I’ll just be a minute,” she said to Jason as she grabbed her brother by the arm and lead him from the room.
Robbie had his usual mischievous grin as he left the room. He knew from experience the she was about to let him have it. The grin never left his face as he strolled down, step by step, until they reached the foyer.
“Calm down Jess,” he finally said with a chuckle when she rounded on him, eyes blazing with fury.
“Calm down? What was that all about back there? What were you thinking? Isn’t it bad enough that he was attacked tonight without you pushing the dagger in even further?”
Wow, she really is mad he thought to himself trying to compose himself upright and losing the grin. “I just wanted him to admit what he is willing to do to keep you here. If he wants to work things out then let him fight for you. You know I’ve never been one to take sides without reasoning the situation out beforehand. I’m not telling you to never give him another chance. All I’m saying is take the time you need to heal. Take the time to forgive. Take time for you. If Jason is still the man you want then by all means, come back home and start again. BUT...” he said weighing heavily on the last word he spoke as he held her at arm’s length, “let him grovel a little for what he’s done. He deserves to be insecure just like he’s made you feel. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Robbie reached out to hug his sister and placed a kiss on top of her head. She grudgingly hugged him back losing the fight to stay mad at him. She knew he was right and he only had the best intensions where family was concerned. “Thanks Robbie. I’ll call you from New York.”
“So you’re still going then,” he asked brightly. He felt a tug at his heart. He would hate for his sister to be gone for the next few months but it was the best thing for her right now.
“Yup, I’m still going. Take care of yourself ok…and make sure mom and dad are alright. I’ll call them and let them know once I get settled.”
“Alright sis…I’ll miss you…love you…take care of yourself and just enjoy your time away.” The hug was longer than expected and Robbie held on tight. First Jackson had left and now Jessica. Robbie knew once she was away she would begin to live again. She wouldn’t want to come back.
Jessica went back to see how Jason was doing. He was laying back, eyes closed, soaking in the warm water. She leaned against the door frame, resting her head on the hard wood, silently watching him from a distance. He opened his eyes and they gazed at one another continuing the silence. They both shared a different misery but somehow it felt the same.
“So you’re really leaving,” Jason asked breaking the silence. His voice was tormented at the thought of her leaving so far when they had yet to settle the mess he had created here.
“Yes,” she answered honestly.
Jason thought of so many things he wanted to say but decided it was best to hold his tongue. He slowly stood deciding it was best for him to leave.
“What are you doing,” Jessica asked as she hurried over to help him out of the tub.
“I think I should go. You probably have a million things to do before you leave tonight.” He was still in so much pain she hated for him to be alone tonight.
“Nonsense, you’re staying here tonight. I’ll change my flight for a later time. It’s not a big deal, really,” she assured him as he looked over at her questionably. “Besides, you can’t drive home in the shape you’re in. Just rest here and we’ll see how you’re doing tomorrow.”
“I don’t want to impose. I can make it on my own,” Jason said just as he flinched while Jessica helped him into a t-shirt she had gotten from Robbie’s old room. She also found a pair of nylon basketball shorts for him to sleep in.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re staying here tonight. Besides, we should talk and this will give us the time to do that with no interruptions.”
Jason nodded in agreement. They did need to talk. After Jason was fully dressed and had taken some pain relievers Jessica had insisted he stretch out across her bed facing her as she lay down next to him. It felt a little uncomfortable as the stillness of the room engulfed them. Finally finding the courage to break the quiet Jason’s voice was low as he admitted, “I want you to stay.”
Jessica heard his words, his simple request, and it was touching but just not quite enough to change things. She closed her eyes as she shook her head no. “I can’t.”
“I don’t know what to say. I know you’re hurt and it’s my fault but I still want you to stay. I know I’m being selfish but I don’t want to lose you and if you leave to New York I feel like there’s no hope. Please don’t run from me Jess,” he pleaded with tenderness in his voice.
“I’m not running. I just need time…time to think…time to heal…”
“I want to help you with that. I want to show you that you can trust me again.” He sounded sincere but she still needed time away.
“I’m barely holding on and I need time away before there’s nothing left for me to hold on to. What happened last night…it made me realize…” Jessica started to say before Jason finished the sentence for her.
“…we’re not over yet.”
Jessica looked beseechingly into his eyes looking for some kind of answer to what she should do. No, their relationship wasn’t over yet but where do they go from here? “You said to give you thirty days…ok. I need to know things are honestly over with what’s her face.”
“It is I swear it…”
“I need to see that you are willing to make an effort by doing whatever you need to do to show me you still want this.”
“I will keep an open mind and we can go on from there, wherever this journey takes us.”
“So will you stay?” Jason asked with a glimmer of hope.
“I’m not sure,” Jessica answered honestly.
“But you just said…”
“I said I you need to show me you’re willing to make an effort by doing whatever you need to do to show me you still want this. So do what you need to do. I’m going to leave it at that. If I have to elaborate any more than it would be just like me telling you what you need to do and I want this to come from you.” It was important that Jason made the decisions himself without needing things to be pointed out. Hopefully he makes the right ones.
“Jess…” he started to say something.
“Just get some rest now. You always said your best plans came to you in your dreams.” Jessica closed her eyes and tried to get some sleep. Neither one of them spoke again for the rest of the night. Both had not found the serenity of their dreams as sleep evaded the two most of the night.