5:00 p.m. | Aislyn’s Room
“So let me get this straight… You took your ring off, the one you’d assumed was an accessory this whole time?” Aislyn asks. “Yes.” J.D. replies. “And inside you saw an engraving that says J➳J?”
“Yeah, and as soon as I saw it I had this image pop into my head.”
“What kind of image?”
“It’s hard to explain… for some reason it’s really fuzzy and blurred and no matter how hard I try to remember it, I can’t. It’s like fragments of memories are trying to come to the surface but I can’t grasp them.”
“Could you make anything out?”
“Yeah, there was a woman… and myself. I think… I think I was married.” J.D. says solemnly. “How pathetic am I? I could have a family I’ve left behind and I wouldn’t even be able to recognize them if they passed me on the street.” He adds with a dark laugh.
“So that’s what you were up to these past few weeks? Searching for traces of what could’ve been your family?” Aislyn asks softly; J.D. nods. “Well, that’s great news; it’s the first real lead we’ve gotten on your life so far.” Aislyn says. “It’s crazy to think that your name actually starts with a J. Guess I won’t have a hard time adjusting to your real one once we figure it out… and we will.” She says firmly as she bends down in an attempt to lift J.D’s spirit.
Of course she couldn’t touch him, but she figured the gesture would be comforting regardless. She raises her hand and lets it hover above where his knee is, feeling a warm tingly sensation in her palms as she does so. “Thanks, Sunshine.” He says with a hint of the smile Aislyn was hoping to see. “We’re in this together.” She adds with a smile of her own.
“I know. Now, don’t you have a sleepover or something to get to?”
“Oh, right.” Aislyn says as she returns to packing her overnight bag.
8:52 p.m. | Merrow Luxury Apartments
Aislyn had the taxi driver follow the address Gus had texted her earlier off of her phone. He didn’t exactly provide the floor or room number, but it didn’t matter as she happened to run into Chad outside. “Here for the party?” He asks as he catches sight of her. “Yup.” Aislyn responds. “Well, I’m being kicked out, as I am every time Mai does this, so make sure you have fun so I’m not suffering needlessly.” He says with a wink. “I’ll do my best.” She says with a grin. “Where are you headed?”
“Your boyfriend’s place.”
To this Aislyn wasn’t sure what to say, the fact that she was in a relationship now still felt foreign to her. “Speaking of which, he happens to be bad at giving directions; our place is on the 17th floor, room 1705 to be exact. I guess I should let you go then.”
“Thanks.” Aislyn says. Chad nods and walks off in the direction of the open parking lot as Aislyn makes her way inside.
9:00 p.m. | Mai and Chad’s Apartment
After arriving on the 17th floor, Aislyn rings the bell of the last door in the hallway labeled 1705. “It’s open!” A voice Aislyn recognizes as Mai’s says from inside. This place isn’t called luxury apartments for no reason… Aislyn thinks as she enters.
“You made it!” Mai says with a smile as she walks over to greet Aislyn.
“I promised you I’d rain check our get-together, this seems like a fun alternative.” Aislyn says with a smile. “You got that right.” Mai says with a smirk. “Follow me, the others are already here.”
As Aislyn follows Mai into the living room, she lays eyes on Kimberly, whom she had noticed didn’t particularly like her during the other time they had met, and another attractive dark-haired girl who gave her a soft smile as she entered.
“I know you and Kim have already met.” Mai says as they come to a stop in front of the other girls. “But I believe it’s the first time you’ve seen Lexi, so introductions are in order. “Nice to meet you.” Aislyn says with a smile. “Likewise.” Lexi says.
“Great, now that we’re all acquainted…” Mai says, drawing the attention back to her, “time to let this evening of de-stressing begin.”
9:29 p.m. | Gus’s House
“I’m telling you man, it was crazy. I’ve never seen anyone pay attention to something like that before.” Gus says for what Cailean feels like is the hundredth time.
“That’s why I’m planning on taking a different approach this time around.” Gus declares. “That’s great.” Cailean says in what he hopes sounds like a convincing voice. “Crap! I just remembered I didn’t give Aislyn Chad and Mai’s apartment number; I should call her.” Gus says as he rises. “You do that.” Cailean says.
“I hope I’m not too late…” Gus mutters as he stands by the window as the line rings.
Isn’t this exactly what Cailean wanted? For Gus to not just fool around with Aislyn like he did with countless other girls and take her seriously or end things altogether? Then why did he feel so… dissatisfied? Maybe because he didn’t think his friend would do the former. He and Gus hadn’t been talking to each other as comfortably as they always have for these past few days. In fact, Cailean was finding himself uncomfortable around a lot of people lately, Aislyn included. He figured tonight would be as good a night as ever to get a grip on whatever it was that was making him act this way and move on…
9:30 p.m. | Mai and Chad’s Apartment
“I’m telling you, the barista was too attractive.” Lexi says. “So why didn’t you ask for his number?” Mai asks as she washes some fruits in the sink. “Why else? Because she was intimidated?” Kimberly teases as she prepares some coffee. “I was not!” Lexi says defensively. The girls giggle altogether as Aislyn watches on.
She had offered to help, but the girls – excluding Kimberly who remained silent – told her to relax and just have a good time given what she had gone through these past few days. The scene before her reminded her a lot of her high school days. Contrary to the lifestyle she led now, Aislyn held quite a lot of parties and watching the girls now gave her a sense of nostalgia. She was interrupted from her thoughts by her phone ringing.
It was Gus. “Hello?”
“Hey, look; I totally forgot to mention this earlier, but Chad and Mai live in room 1705.”
“Wow, thanks; it’s not like that information is half an hour late.” Aislyn teases.
“I take it you found her already then?”
“Yeah, I ran into Chad outside, he was on his way to your place. Is he not there yet?”
“Nah; well, I’m glad that worked out then… So what have you decided on for our next date, you mentioned when we were texting earlier that you had something in mind.”
“Oh yeah, one of my favorite books has become a film and it’s showing downtown…”
“That sounds nice. When do you want to go?” As Gus carries on his conversation, Cailean drops his head and chides himself for eavesdropping. Thankfully the doorbell rings and stops him from feeling pathetic for too long.
“Hey, about time.” Cailean says. “Yeah, yeah; I know you guys don’t know how to have fun without me.” Chad says with a smirk.
“What’s he up to?” Chad asks, tilting his head towards Gus whom he sees pacing around in the corner. “Oh, he’s talking to Aislyn.” Cailean answers as he steps back to let Chad enter.
“Ah that explains it, of course he is.” Chad says with a grin. “What’s that supposed to mean?” Cailean asks.
“Oh, nothing. So, what do you guys want to order for takeout?”
11:17 p.m. | Mai and Chad’s Apartment
After having a long chat about the most random things in the dining room, the girls split up to change and freshen up before deciding on a movie. Mai pulled Aislyn aside as the others went on ahead to talk with her. And though she was reluctant at first, Aislyn ended up opening up to her about her past few days and new relationship with Gus.
“I just feel like… I’m going to mess things up somehow before we really start.” Aislyn says.
“I know how you feel. It’s like that for any new relationship, but that feeling of uneasiness stems from a desire for things to go well, right? It shows you care.”
“I guess.” Aislyn says pondering this.
“Look, the most important thing is that you’re happy, and you feel like you understand, connect with and can rely on the person you’re with. If your relationship feels like a chore, that’s a no-no and you need to jump that sinking ship.” Mai says matter-of-factly.
“Right.” Aislyn was surprised at how much better she was already feeling in the short time she was speaking with Mai, why hadn’t she befriended her sooner? “The others are probably almost done getting ready by now, we should go.” Mai says while rising. Aislyn nods and follows her lead.
After changing into her pajamas, Aislyn walks into the screening room and is impressed at the abundance of food and activities.
She notices Kimberly and Lexi deep into a playful debate about the pros and cons of spray on nail polish and smiles to herself.
As she takes in the gorgeous sight outside, she casts a glance at the clock on the wall that reads midnight, causing her to let out an involuntary yawn. “I hope you aren’t planning on calling it an early night.” Mai says behind her. “I have a lot of things planned for the rest of this evening… or should I say morning?”
“No worries, I’m good to go.” Aislyn says while turning around. “Thank you, Mai.”
“For having me over, for being kind, for reaching out a hand of friendship when I’ve been distant at best at work–” “Hold it right there, missy.” Mai says, cutting off Aislyn’s flow of remorse.
“I could tell that there were things you were going through, and I have a few regrets of my own when it comes to not trying harder to get closer to you sooner, but the past is the past, and what’s important is right now. If you want to thank me, you can start by picking out our movie.” Mai says. Overcome with some emotions Aislyn hadn’t felt in a really long time: thankfulness, comfort, and genuine happiness, “You got it.” She says as she walks with Mai over to the DVD rack.
After choosing a horror flick that none of the girls had seen before, Aislyn was having an enjoyable time to say the least. “I’m telling you, something is going to pop in that mirror when she looks back up.” Kimberly groans. “Shhh!” Lexi says.
Sure enough, a gory figure pops into frame and while Aislyn remains silent, Lexi and Mai gasp while Kimberly lets out a scream and covers her eyes with her hands. “EW. TELL ME WHEN IT’S GONE!” She yells. “Goodness, Kim; you nearly gave me a heart-attack.” Mai says clutching her chest.
“How are you so good at watching this?” Lexi asks, nudging Aislyn as she leans forward to take in the gore on-screen. “I didn’t know someone could be good at watching movies.” Aislyn says with a grin. “You know what I mean.” Lexi adds with a smile. “Well, I tend to find real-life more scary than anything in any film.” Aislyn says. “Too true, my friend. Too true.” Mai chimes in.
It was the most fun Aislyn had had in ages, as the night dragged on she was laughing more, talking more, and getting more animated. She could feel herself changing… perhaps for the better. She could even feel Kimberly being less tense around her, before eventually treating her normally and dropping all hostilities altogether.
After hours of snacking, nail painting, game playing and non-stop laughing, the girls had fallen asleep on the fuzzy carpet in the screening room with an enormous blanket Mai had brought in.
In the weeks following Mai’s sleepover, Aislyn was slowly emerging from her shell. She and Mai were growing closer to one another the more time they spent together…
Things with Gus were going well too. They’d talk on the phone when they couldn’t see each other and go on dates when they could.
“Wasn’t that movie amazing!” Aislyn exclaims. “If you say so.” Gus says with a grin.
“What? You didn’t like it?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t say you the opposite either.”
“Well, I found a lot of things confusing.”
“That’s because you didn’t read the book. I told you it was an adaptation of my favorite author’s novel.”
“I know, I know, Graylord or something?”
“Grayham.” Aislyn corrects with an eye roll.
“Right.” Gus says with a chuckle.
Aislyn found herself often thinking back to the advice Mai had given to her on her girls’ night regarding how she should feel in her relationship. And while she did feel like she could rely on Gus, a part of her still felt like something was… missing, but she figured whatever it was would develop over time…
– 3 WEEKS LATER –
7:21 a.m. | Liberty Library
When Aislyn wasn’t working part-time, going on dates, or hanging out with Mai, she was doing what she could to research what J.D. had uncovered about his past. For some reason she couldn’t see him as being a married man, but she still searched for any news in the past few years regarding any marriage between two people starting with the letter ‘J’ in Oldmerrow. Her searches were yielding less results than she expected; practically nothing.
After a few hours of searching on one of her Sunday library shifts, she decides to take a break to re-shelve some books.
As she steps into one of the reading rooms, she is surprised to come across someone else, especially at this time.
“Cailean?” She says upon getting a better look at the figure in the light. “What are you doing here?” She notices he’s reading A World of Time by Willem Grayham, it wasn’t the more popular books penned by him, but it was her favorite. It takes Cailean a moment to notice her. “Oh, Aislyn, hey; not much, just killing some time.”
He closes the book after marking his place as she walks over to slip the book she carried in to its proper place.“Long time no see. Interesting book you got there.” She says. “Yeah, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s my favorite.” Cailean says while pushing his hair back.
“No way, mine too!” Aislyn exclaims as she slips onto the bench beneath the windowsill.
“Most people tend to overlook it as it’s not one of his more popular pieces.” Cailean says.
“Exactly. It’s their loss.” They get lost discussing Grayham’s novels and before she knows it an hour breezes by.
“You know, he’s having a book signing next Saturday.” Cailean says.
“No way. I’ve been keeping tabs on his book tour and he’s not coming to Oldmerrow.”
“Yeah, he won’t be coming here, but he’s going to Bayville and it’s only an hour and a half from here.”
“Oh… right.” Aislyn says. Bayville, her hometown, a place she hadn’t set foot into ever since she left many years ago. Even though one of her absolute favorite authors would be there, she wasn’t sure it would be enough to get her to go back.
“Hey, you alright?” Cailean asks as he drops into the seat beside her from the window at her extended silence.
“Yeah, I just got lost in thought, sorry about that.”
“No worries, so are you going? Because if you are, I mean… I was planning on going anyway, so we could go together… just as friends, of course… not that us going together would imply anything otherwise… please feel free to stop my prattling any second now.” He says with a grin; Aislyn laughs. “I’d really like to go… but…”
Before Aislyn can answer, the door whips open and her co-worker Amber leans in. “Hey, where have you been? There’s a line forming at the check-out desk. Whatever you’re doing in here, wrap it up.” She snaps as she turns, slamming the door on the way out.
“She never is very pleasant.” Aislyn says as she rises. Cailean smiles as he gets up as well, “I seem to have gotten you in trouble, sorry about that.” He says.
“Oh, please, I instigated this particular conversation on my own and then lost track of time so it’s on me.”
“I should get going now anyways, I hadn’t planned on being here that long to begin with.” Cailean says.
“The signing is in six days, if you change your mind before then, feel free to let me know.”
5:24 p.m. | Aislyn’s House
Aislyn had filled J.D. in on her conversation with Cailean when she came home. “You aren’t actually considering missing out on this, are you?” J.D. asks. “As a matter-of-fact, I am.” Aislyn says as she gathers her laundry around the room.
“You’ve been going on and on about this Grayham guy whenever you get the chance, ever since I’ve met you.” J.D. says. “And?” Aislyn says as she separates her loads.
“And, who knows when you’ll get this chance again. What’s holding you back? The fact that it’s your hometown?”
“Yes.” Aislyn responds as she adds soap to the washer.
“Your BF’s pretty-boy friend offered you a ride, to a town not even that far from here, to see your favorite author, on a day you aren’t working; sounds like a perfect opportunity to me, Sunshine.” J.D. says as if it was something obvious and simple. “The way I see it, you’re being foolish; you don’t have any reason not to go back. Unless there’s something you aren’t telling me…. Is there?”
Aislyn sighs, “Since we’ve been attempting to delve into your past as of late, I guess I might as well let you in on mine…”
Thanks for reading! Wow, this is beyond late, lol. I was debating not posting anything at all this week since I was swamped, and I didn’t start writing until several hours ago despite having the screenshots. But I really want to be consistent with the story, so after a cup of coffee and a late night: ta-da; this is the end result XD I hope you’re following along with everything so far, next week’s chapter shall have a flashback and a new setting (assuming I get everything done in time; *fingers crossed*, lol) Until then, feel free to let me know what you thought down below. Take care~
p.s A few days ago, or maybe it was a week or two… Time is flying too fast XD As I mentioned in my blogiversary post, having made this site ages ago, but failing to use it until now, apparently it was my five year anniversary of having made this site, lol. I figured I’d share since I got this cute notification, haha.
Hope everyone has an enjoyable week!