Welcome back!!

Welcome back to the world of Jon and Erin - I hope you didn't forget too much. I had to adjust to an entirely new routine and lifestyle over the last month, so it took awhile to get back into the swing of things. But Chapter 28 is up now, and Jon and Erin are back - in the middle of the muck where I left them. Things will be unraveling fast now...

I hope you're still interested in the story, and you can always go back to the last few chapters (in the menu on the right) to refresh yourself.

Thanks for being patient! :)

~ B

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Erin slept fitfully that night.

No matter how hard she tried to forget it, the memory of the hurt she'd seen in Jon's blue eyes seared at her heart, almost mocking her in its persistence. He'd been so angry. So confused. It killed her to be the cause of that, but she couldn't help be slightly relieved that she'd done it. The burdening weight of her secret was finally lifted off her shoulders, and while the damage inflicted was going to take some time - and pain - to fix, she'd rather be on a path to open honesty than a darker web of lies.

But his words had stung. His accusations of her 'stringing them along like puppets', and his spiteful 'aren't you a saint' might as well have been slaps in the face. She wished he had yelled. The quiet, deadly voice was not the Jon Bon Jovi she knew - it was her first glimpse into the dark side of him she'd always heard of, but never wished to see. And certainly never wanted to provoke.

Another creak outside her door made her heart stop, and she began to cry again, stressed and overwhelmed. Her world had come crumbling down on top of her so suddenly - her ex-boyfriend was a psycho stalker, her current boyfriend hated her, she'd screwed herself over tenfold all because of a little lie that began months ago. What the hell was she supposed to do now?

Nothing, she answered herself wearily. She was in this mess because she had kept trying to manipulate the situation to benefit herself; staying out of it for once might be just what she had to do. Actively fixing it would probably only dig her deeper. It was like quicksand - the more she struggled, the faster she sank. She had to stop struggling.

Erin's mind was spinning. She could go over every detail of the fight that night, she could jump at every noise in the hallway, she could cry herself dry, and nothing would come of it. Sleep seemed the only obvious alternative - nothing could intrude on her tired brain while she slept. And in the morning, things would be different. They'd be better.

They had to be.


Jon jerked awake as his head slipped down the window and hit the door ledge. "Fuck," he muttered, rubbing his jaw. It was morning, barely. The sun was over the horizon, filtering thinly through the trees that lined the street. The birds were stirring, singing quietly, but the paved walkways at the houses were quiet and deserted. Jon glanced warily down at Erin's place - no different than the others. Her curtains were still shut; she was almost certainly still asleep. At least the psycho boyfriend wasn't around.

Jon yawned and grumbled, stretching as much as he could in his cramped front seat. The sleek sportscar might be a dream to drive, but he learned that night that it was a nightmare to sleep in. He checked his watch: 6:30 a.m. He groaned - he'd been asleep for two hours. Stubborn and defiant, he'd sat stone-still in that seat all night long, staring down the street for any sign of movement, arms crossed over his chest. Nothing had happened under his watch, except the mysterious leather-clad woman who'd emerged from the house across the street around 2 a.m., stumbling over herself tipsily.

Almost gingerly, Jon's mind returned to Erin. He was downright weary of thinking about the events that had transpired the night before; hours of silent reflection will drive a man crazy. But now that it was morning, and he'd had a two hour break, he couldn't help it. Somehow, though, miraculously, most of his anger had ebbed away in the dark hours of the night, replaced with an almost melancholy sadness. More than anything, as much as he hated to admit it, he was just hurt.

A movement down the street caught his eye, and he saw Erin emerge from the house, wrapped tightly in her robe, shuffling down the walk to retrieve her paper. She glanced nervously up and down the street, no doubt wary that the ex-boyfriend-stalker was going to jump out from behind a tree. Jon watched, silent and still, as she hurried back into the house and shut the door.

Suddenly he wanted to talk to her. He didn't want to turn the car around and go home - she was right there. He thought it would be stupid to be this close without trying to talk things over, now that they were both awake and calmed down.

He stiffly got out of the car and winced as he began to walk toward her house - his damn knees weren't getting any younger, and having been bent consistently for hours didn't help.

He knocked quietly, not wanting to alarm her. Several seconds later, the dining room curtain fluttered slightly to his left, and he stepped back to make sure she knew it was him. The door opened slowly a moment later.

"Hi," he said gently. She looked shy - timid and fragile. Her hair tumbled messily around her shoulders, her eyes were puffy and red. She held the newspaper in one hand, the doorknob in the other. He was sure she had slept about as well as he did. She looked altogether broken, and Jon felt his heart constrict in spite of himself.

"Hi," she replied meekly. The singing of the birds seemed to grow to a roar in the thick silence that filled the space between them. Jon cleared his throat.

"Can I come in?"

Erin looked surprised, but stepped aside and made way for him. He edged past her, trying not to notice the way she still smelled faintly of oranges.

Erin shut the door behind him and turned around, looking ashamed and almost scared, as if she were bracing herself for a tirade.

Instead, Jon stared at the floor for a moment before looking up. He paused, then spoke in a soft voice. "I'm sorry for the things I said last night."

Erin's eyes immediately began to fill, tears brimming thickly. Her lips trembled, and before he knew what he was doing, Jon strode over to her and wrapped her in his arms. She dropped the newspaper and buried her face in his chest, crying with abandon. "I am so sorry," she sobbed against into his shirt. "I'm so sorry..."

Jon held her tightly. "Shh," he said soothingly. "It's okay."

"No, it's not," Erin replied, shaking her head vehemently.

"Well, you're right," Jon said. "It's not. But it could be a lot worse."

Erin pulled away and looked up at him, her face streaked with tears and her eyes bloodshot. "Really?"

Jon nodded. "Yeah. I thought about it all night, and as much as I hate what you did...it's not the end of the world."

Erin blinked, clearly stunned. "You're not mad?"

"Oh, I was mad," Jon said without hesitation. "I was furious. But not anymore. I let it simmer all night - now it's out of my system."

Erin's mouth was open. "Really?" she said again.

Jon finally smiled. "Yes, really. I'm not saying I'm okay with everything, but..." he faltered. Erin looked at him expectantly, her sad eyes brightening slightly with hope.

Suddenly he frowned. "You never should have lied to me," he said. "But I know it took guts for you to tell me the truth last night. And I must be a crazy lovesick fuck, because as much as I want to be mad at you still, I can't be."

Erin's face broke into a bashful smile. "Really?" she repeated. Only this time, it had a whole new tone.

Jon kissed her forehead. "Really. But we have to work this out, you know that."

Erin nodded, stray tears breaking free. "I know. But I'm so relieved you're not mad anymore."

Jon nodded silently, thinking. "Erin," he said suddenly, his voice serious. "Before I can forgive you, I need to know something." His jaw was set, his features rigid and tense. He looked as if he didn't want to know the answer to his question. "I don't want to - I can't - more forward with anything unless I know..."

Erin's eyes softened in realization of his intention. Suddenly she knew, as clearly as if she'd known all along, but only just now realized it. "Yes," she whispered, before he could say anything else. "I love you, Jon. I always have."

Jon looked at her long and hard, apparently considering her response and testing it for validity. Then he kissed her, their lips meeting tenderly, sensitive to every emotion that had rushed through their veins that night, and he whispered against her.

"Thank God..."

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