"So, what do you do?" Jake asked as they walked. It was a nice late summer night. The temperature had dropped slightly and the humidity was low. A slight breeze fanned through Molly's hair.
"Me?" Molly asked. "I'm, um, I'm a nurse." She managed not to say that it was a choice her family had not supported. It didn’t seem fair to lay that on him when they'd only just met.
"No kidding?" Jake asked. "In a doctor's office or at the hospital?"
"The hospital," she said. "I'm scheduled to start in a couple of days. I've met everyone and they seem really nice but it's always weird when you start a new job and don't know many people and…" she sighed. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to go on like that."
"It's all right," he assured her. Barely realizing he was doing it, he rubbed her shoulder in reassurance. Molly hid a gasp at the touch. "I think that's great," he continued. "I don’t think I could ever make it as a doctor or nurse. It takes a lot of dedication. You should be proud of yourself."
"Thanks." Molly felt warm inside and it was all she could do not to hug him. Those were the words she had wanted to hear from her parents and doubted she ever would.
They walked in silence for a little while. Jake pondered his own reaction to touching Molly. It had felt very natural, like a reflex when he touched her shoulder. He wanted to take her hand but wasn't sure if he should. It was confusing. He was on the rebound; he shouldn’t be considering other women in any capacity other than friends, if only for their sakes.
Molly, though…something about her was getting to him. Molly was colorful, he thought. That had been his very first impression when she had spun through the office door. It wasn't that her clothes clashed, or that she wore garish colors or patterns. At dinner she'd worn a pair of dark purple slacks—Maddy would have called them "plum," he was sure—a blouse with a small print, and that pretty necklace. I could use some color,
he thought ruefully. Chelsea, he recalled, had usually dressed in dark, neutral colors. She had even started redecorating his apartment a little, adding lots of what he considered "blah spots." Tan throw pillows. Beige throw rugs. Nothing terrible, but then again, nothing special. His apartment, he realized, had begun to look like an Ikea display; attractive but devoid of personality.
Molly, on the other hand, was like a walking rainbow. Since Chelsea had left, he had let everything else fade while he concentrated on his feelings of betrayal. Maybe Cam was right. Maybe he needed to let it go and let things get brighter again.
"If you don’t mind me asking," Molly said, "is something bothering you?" Jake looked at her blankly, still wrapped up in his own thoughts.
"What? Me?" he asked. "Sorry?"
Molly couldn't help but laugh at the confusion on his face. "I didn't mean to be nosy. It just looked like something was on your mind while we were at Cameron's. Even though I talk pretty fast, I'm a decent listener, if you ever want to talk about it."
Another few steps and then out of nowhere, Jake found himself telling her everything about the breakup. He told her how Chelsea had started pulling away not long after they moved in together, and he'd put it up to the stress of the change. She had insisted on only the toniest restaurants and kept saying that he needed to "dress the part" if he wanted to succeed. How she had started calling him Jacob all the time, instead of Jake, as though even his name was too informal. At first he hadn't minded, but after a while it had made him feel like the butler.
Then he'd come home to find her waiting on him only to tell him good-bye. "But it was so weird." He shook his head.
Molly listened to it all intently, saying nothing, waiting for him to get it all out.
"In between all that, she would say she thought about getting married. Things would be different, she loved me, and all the problems would go away. Then all of a sudden, she decides it's not going to work. And she leaves. Just like that."
Jake took a deep breath, stunned that he'd poured everything out. God, she must think I'm a complete nut. He was almost out of breath from having said it all and it took a minute to get his bearings. When he dared look at Molly, he found her staring at him with a hint of sadness, but no pity, in her blue eyes. That was good, he didn’t need pity. He'd managed to find an endless source within himself.
Cam was right. It was tiresome.
"I am so sorry." He gave a short laugh and ran a hand through his hair. "I didn't mean…I had no intention of saying all of that. You didn't need me to lay all that on you. I'm really sorry."
"It's all right," she said. "You needed to say it, and I didn't mind listening."
He noticed that any nervousness seemed to have left her. She was calm and her words weren't tumbling out on top of each other.
"Okay, then." They resumed walking. "Hopefully, the next time I see you, I'll make a better impression. Honestly, I don't usually regale pretty girls with a sob story like that."
Molly blushed when he called her pretty. "You made a fine impression," she assured him as he walked her to the door of her apartment building.
"I did?" He grinned. "Well, that's a load off my mind."
Molly laughed. "Glad to help." She bounced on her feet for a minute, then impulsively reached up and kissed his cheek. "Thanks for the walk, Jake. I appreciate it."
"You're very welcome." Part of his brain was stuck, repeating Hey, she kissed me in a loop. He tried to work past it. "Stop in the office anytime. Cam and I are always looking for an excuse to procrastinate."
"Yep, that sounds like Cam," Molly agreed.
Jake smiled and watched as she went inside. Things seemed just a little bit brighter as he walked back to his place.
Molly found herself regularly stopping by Cam and Jake's office on her way to or from work, depending on the shift. If she had a morning start, she'd often bring them coffee. In the evenings, they'd return the favor.
Much to her relief, she stopped talking to them as though she was under deadline to use up a certain number of words. She'd struggled with that personality quirk for years, but her nerves seemed to get the better of her. It would have been easier to stop talking all together, she had thought despairingly. She still had her moments, but less so in front of Cam and Jake as they got to know each other.
It had been a stroke of luck, running into Cam. She had taken the job at the hospital with no hesitation, but when the reality of moving to a town where she knew no one f hit, she had been apprehensive. She and Cam had been good, but not close, friends in high school. They got along better now, she thought. She considered that at certain points in life, people just wouldn't mesh, or not mesh all the way. Give them some time and some seasoning, and that could change.
How much time would Jake need to get over his break up? That thought occurred to her with distressing frequency. Maybe I should talk about it with Maddy,
she thought. They'd become fast friends, much to Molly's delight. Maddy was a petite, red-haired firecracker with dancing blue eyes and a ready sense of humor. Molly thought she matched up well with Cameron, who was taller and calmer, although he couldn't quite hide the mischief in his eyes.
What would she tell Maddy, though? Maddy, I've got a crush on Cam's best friend. Help me out, here.
Molly smiled wryly to herself. That would certainly be direct.
Since that first dinner at Cam and Maddy's, she and Jake had become friends in their own right. They went out to dinner occasionally, if she had a shift ending around that time and stopped by the office. He had never made any moves or done anything Molly could interpret as wanting more than friendship, no matter how she tried to. You're just scared,
she admonished herself. You should just take the chance,
she thought as she walked to work. You took a chance on your career, and that worked out.
Well, yes, she answered herself, but that was different. If a faceless admissions board rejects you, it's not quite the same as having the guy you like turn you down.
Going in circles with those thoughts, she sipped her coffee on her way to the hospital, then shook her head and tried to focus. She went over her day, trying to lay things out as best she could, given the uncertainty of her schedule. After her shift, she was going to Cam and Maddy's for the jewelry demonstration Maddy had suggested. That would be fun, she decided. She had picked up a lot of different colored beads and various chains to put them on. There should be plenty to play with, and she was looking forward to meeting Maddy's friends.
Focusing on work and the evening, she managed to push her feelings for Jake to the back of her mind. That, she noted grimly, was getting to be a habit.
"Cam, you free for a ball game on Saturday?" Jake stood in the doorway to Cam's office. "A client had tickets he couldn't use and gave them to me. Cardinals and Phillies, should be fun."
"Sorry." Cam looked pained; he loved baseball and went to games every chance he got. "We have to go visit Maddy's parents this weekend. I'll have to settle for watching it on TV."
"No problem." Jake shrugged. "I can go myself and leave the extra ticket at the box office, I guess. Or find someone who needs one."
"No scalping," warned Cam. "We're lawyers, you know. It wouldn't look good if you got busted for illegal ticket sales."
Jake laughed. "No worries. I'm not even sure where the seats are. I wouldn't know what to charge." He looked up at the clock when the hourly chime sounded. "Four already?" He gave a low whistle. "Time flies when you're buried in motions."
"Sure does," Cam agreed. He stood and stretched. "I've been sitting in that damn chair all day trying to answer emails and contact people. I would have been better to go knocking on doors."
"Think Molly will stop by today?" Jake asked. If she had come by in the morning, he missed her, having gone to the court house to sort out some of the never-ending paper work.
"I don't know. She didn't stop this morning, must have started early." Cam narrowed his eyes at Jake. "Why?"
"I thought maybe she'd like to go to the game," Jake said warily. "That okay with you?"
Cam sat back down and tapped a pen on his desk. "Depends."
Jake raised an eyebrow inquiringly.
"I think she really likes you, Jake. If you don't like her that way, you should let her know."
"Oh." Jake didn't know quite what to say. He liked Molly a lot. He also knew he was making an effort to keep things light, to hold her a little bit away. It had been nearly two months since Chelsea had left, and although the hurt was fading, Jake still wasn't sure how he felt. He told himself that he was protecting Molly by taking things slow, keeping everything platonic. It sounded logical.
"I don’t know."
It was Cam's turn to give him a questioning look.
Jake sighed. "I do like her, I do. I just don't know if I should do anything about it. I'm not dumb enough to ignore the fact that I recently had a bad end to a long relationship. That probably has me messed up."
"You were always messed up," Cam said helpfully.
"Thanks." Jake gave him a wry grin, then became serious again. "I mean it, Cam. I'm sure my perspective is skewed. Molly is great, I know that. She's sweet and funny and I'd hate to hurt her."
Cam was silent for a moment. "Hurt is always a risk. Maybe you should let her take it if she wants to."
Jake was about to reply when, just like the first time he'd seen her, Molly whirled in through the door. She was wearing her nursing scrubs, but they were just as colorful as anything else she wore. Her pants were plain blue but her top had stars and teddy bears on it. She was also carrying her TARDIS purse, as Jake now thought of it. He continued to be leery of it, sure that if he reached in he would come out lacking fingers.
"Hi, guys." Molly gave them both a bright smile.
Jake saw that despite the smile, she was tired. She hid it well, but he noticed the slight dark circles under her eyes, and the way she didn't talk quite so much. Even her smile seemed a little dimmer, which tugged at him a bit.
"Long shift?" Jake asked, and she nodded, rubbing a hand over her eyes. She looks adorable
, Jake thought. With her teddy bear top and her hair in a pony tail held by a silver scrunchie, she looked like she was ready to curl up with a blanket and drop off to sleep. How nice it would be, Jake mused, if she was curled up next to him. That thought brought him up short and he was grateful that Cam continued the conversation.
"Are you sure you're up for the jewelry thing?" Cam asked her. "I'm sure Maddy would understand. She and the others wouldn't mind at all."
"No, thanks." Molly dropped into one of their chairs. "It was hectic, but I'm better since getting out. Besides, it'll be nice to see some people. I feel like all I do is work, go home, eat frozen dinners, and go to work again."
"I know those days," Cam agreed.
"Absolutely," Jake said, able to focus once again. "I think you just described my entire last year of law school. Except we alternated between pizza and subs."
Molly chuckled. "It's a wonder you graduated at all, with a diet like that." She sighed and stood. "Well, I'd better go. I need to go get the beads and all for tonight. See you."
"Molly, wait," said Jake. He ignored the look Cam was giving him and walked over to the door. "I'll walk a little with you, okay?"
"Sure." What is this?
she wondered, and refused to let herself hope Jake was going to ask her out. You're pathetic, she thought. You could just ask him yourself. Women's lib and all that.
They stepped outside and started towards Molly's building.
"Are you busy Saturday?"
Molly's heart tripped a little but she kept her voice steady. "No, the scheduling gods smiled and gave me Saturday and Sunday off. I'll have to pay for it with tons of double shifts, I'm sure, but I'll take it when I can."
"Do you like baseball?" he asked.
"I have tickets to the game on Saturday afternoon. Would you like to come with me?"
Molly wanted to say, "Would this be a date?" Instead she said, "That would be fun. I haven't been to a baseball game in ages."
"Great." Jake was more relieved than he expected to be. "The game's at one, maybe we could do lunch before or dinner after?"
"Sure." Molly's heart had settled down, but now her stomach was fluttering. Stop it!
she ordered herself. It's just a game, not a date.
"It might have to be dinner," she said and felt the words building up to come rushing out. "I'm not sure how late I'll be on Friday because a lot of times I end up working extra hours with no notice so I may end up sleeping pretty late to make up for it and…" She sighed and dropped her head.
"Molly." Jake put a hand on her arm. She looked up at him and he was lost, for just a moment, in her deep blue eyes. "I didn't mean to make you nervous. Dinner on Saturday would be fine. I know you work hard, and your hours change. Don't worry, we'll work around it."
"Thanks." This time, she indulged her urge to hug him. He was so understanding of her work and schedule. Her family had never even tried. Her mother would go on for days when Molly had to beg off an event because of her shift. She had no concept of Molly's job or of the idea that there was a nursing shortage. Molly's hospital was luckier than most, but even so wasn’t carrying a full complement of nurses.
Jake, she realized, had never been upset when she'd had to cancel dinner at the last minute because of an emergency. She hugged him tighter for it.
When Molly's arms went around him, Jake instinctively brought his own up and wrapped them around her. He wondered why it had taken him so long. Well, if I'd known how good she'd feel, I would have, he thought. He had a feeling things had taken a turn, and found he wasn't as worried as he thought he would be.
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<a href="http://www.lushstories.com/stories/love-stories/silver-blue-and-gold-ch-02.aspx">Silver, Blue and Gold Ch 02</a>