She took a deep breath. There was no point in delaying the inevitable. Clutching the second boot to her chest, Jessie hopped over to the doorframe and leaned there, pulling on her boot. The boys had no alternative but to acknowledge her presence. She looked wryly up at John Paul, who noticed the humorous glint in her eye. He grinned and threw up his hands as she stood there smirking, both boots on her feet now, arms crossed.
“Look, you’re hot, Annie, and I had a great time last night but…” he approached her and, with his forefinger, suddenly hooked the ring she wore around her neck and lifted it. He wanted to be sure there were no questions as to why he didn’t want to pursue things further with her. Instinctively, she grabbed the ring as her face fell. Josh’s ring.
John Paul softened. “Honey, any girl who wears some guy’s engagement ring around her neck is likely better off on her own for a bit. At least until she deals with her shit. Okay?”
Somewhat relieved that the burden she carried with her each day was now publicly acknowledged, Jessie held John Paul’s gaze as she pushed the ring back down under her top. She blushed, embarrassed. She could see Jacob hunched over at the counter sleepily spooning cereal into his tired body. He was quietly observant, and she was fairly certain he had noticed the ring. For some reason, she didn’t much care if John Paul was witness to its presence, but Jacob seemed so damned serious and distant that for some reason she felt she ought to protect her soul from him. Something to do with his music and lyrics, she thought. Jessie was a sucker for those who, like herself, communicated through song.
She chanced a glance over at Jacob, and their eyes met briefly. The reason women were attracted to him was readily apparent. Besides his poignant presence on stage and the touching melodies he willingly shared, he had a boyish look; a momma’s boy demeanor despite a strong body and obvious need for independence. He didn’t smile easily and seemed, like her, to rarely speak as well, at least verbally. As with Jessie, his music spoke for him. Jessie found him intriguing, captivating, dangerous. She forced herself to look away first.
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