*** author’s note: Some suggestive & mature scenes at the end here~ Just a heads up :p ***
6:05 p.m. | DeCarlo Household
“Stan, this is Aislyn; Aislyn, this is Stan.” “Oh, I didn’t know you were expecting a guest.” The man, Stan, says as Cailean steps aside to let Aislyn enter and introduces them. “Nice to meet you; shall I prepare an extra seat at the table?” He adds. “That won’t be necessary.” Cailean says on Aislyn’s behalf. “She just came by to drop this off.” Cailean says gesturing to the book he now held in his hand.
Granted, Aislyn was going to decline anyways, but the fact that Cailean did for her so swiftly rubbed her the wrong way. “Nice to meet you as well, and I’ll be leaving shortly. I just had a few things I need to speak with Cailean about.” Aislyn says. “If you say so.” Stan says.
He turns to re-enter the kitchen, and Cailean begins to head upstairs. Aislyn noticed the odd way Cailean had introduced Stan, whom she had assumed was his father, but was now having doubts. “Coming?” Cailean asks over his shoulder.
“Yeah…” Aislyn says as she follows along.
Cailean places the signed book on a reading table in the corner of his room. As Aislyn enters, she does her best to keep her glances around less obvious.
Cailean’s room was similar to how she’d imagined it would be… not that she often went out of her way to think about it. She’d learned he was into photography and as she gazed around she noticed there were various posters and art pieces plastered onto the wall. She was also hyperaware of his bed and musky scent in the air that made her feel oddly nervous.
“Well? What did you want to talk about?” Cailean asks as he takes a seat and gestures for Aislyn to do the same. She notices yet again that he’s being less polite than usual, but disregards it.
“So, I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about Gus…” She says.
“Aren’t you two dating? Shouldn’t you know him well enough by now to ask him whatever you want to know?”
“Yeah, but even so, there are certain things I know he wouldn’t tell me if I asked, and can’t even if he wanted to.”
“Oh, really? Like what?” Cailean asks with a raised eyebrow as he leans forward. Aislyn found herself slightly annoyed yet again by his dismissive demeanor.
“Like does he normally get wasted after meeting up with his mother, show up unannounced and then pass out?” Aislyn says with intentional bluntness to crack Cailean’s calmness; it works. “Did he do something to hurt you?” He asks, dropping his arm and displaying what appears to be genuine concern, and Aislyn already feels guilty for trying to stir him. “What? No… That was just a hypothetical situation.” She lies with a slight flush, tucking her hair behind her ear as she does so. “I’m just saying those are the kind of things he wouldn’t be able to share…”
“Uh-huh…” Cailean says as if he didn’t quite believe her. He stares at her for a moment before picking up a book from his nearby pile and flips through it aimlessly as he speaks, losing his expression of concern and back to his disinterest. “Isn’t that a bit ironic coming from you?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Aislyn asks defensively.
“Well you aren’t exactly an open book or forthcoming about anything.” Cailean adds, keeping his eyes on the book.
“To you.” Aislyn says.
“To anyone.” Cailean counters.
“You don’t know that.” Aislyn says. She was once so appreciative of the lack of questions Cailean had while they were in Bayville; she had assumed that it was out of kindness, but it appeared now as though he was angry at her lack of information and just did a good job of hiding it.
“You’re right.” Cailean says. “In the time we’ve spent together you’ve done nothing to indicate that what I’ve said is true, so I must’ve completely misjudged your character.” He adds. Cailean’s tone would appear dead serious to anyone else, but to Aislyn it was dripping in sarcasm because he knew he was right, she just didn’t want to admit it.
She felt disillusioned with the person she thought Cailean was. She figured he was immensely patient and understanding but it appeared he had a tolerance that she had maxed out. With more heat rising to her face she stands, unable to conjure a response to what he said.
“Leaving already?” Cailean asks. The entire time he speaks he doesn’t take his eyes off of the page and this only fuels Aislyn’s anger more. “Well, it appears you have more important things to tend to.” Aislyn says.
“Thanks for the book.”
Aislyn doesn’t utter a response and makes her way towards the door.
She can’t help but glance over her shoulder, expecting Cailean to follow and apologize or explain his sudden 180-degree flip in character, but the silence indicates he has no intention to do either.
The anger that had begun swelling up inside of Aislyn turns into hurt the minute she closes the door…
When Aislyn shuts the door, Cailean chucks the book he’s holding across the room, and walks over to his bed. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. He thinks over and over as he rubs his face in frustration.
He falls onto his back and thinks about what exactly he just did. He had vowed to put some distance between him and Aislyn in a subtle and undetectable way the moment they left Bayville, as evident by his silence on the ride back.
But her showing up unannounced made him flustered, and having a deep conversation about Gus, whom he was already feeling guilty towards for just harboring these feelings for Aislyn that he didn’t act on, made him direct the frustrations he was feeling with himself – for getting into this situation in the first place – onto her.
It was obvious she was angry, how could she not be. To her, his change in behavior probably seemed to come out of nowhere. And because everything he said stemmed from truths he observed from her, but never planned on mentioning out loud, she was probably hurt. Cailean knew he’d have to apologize… but he’d hold off on that for now.
5:00 p.m. | Gus’s House
Gus had left Kimberly in the living room while he went to go and shower the chlorine scent off from his swim. He had to admit he was slightly surprised to see her. Granted they’ve known each other for a decade and they often talked, but Kim never went out of her way to visit him alone unless they had plans.
“So what did you want to talk about?” Gus asks as he approaches her.
“Oh, well… you mentioned your mom had one of her grand dinner parties at your parents’ place a few days ago… How was it?”
“Well, you know my mom, she has to unnecessarily fuss over things.” Gus says.
“Yeah…” Kimberly says with a soft laugh. Gus noticed she was meeker than usual. “Look…” She adds, before he can comment on this. “I know you’ll probably say you’re fine like you always do when I ask, but are you alright? You sure you don’t want to talk about anything?”
Gus pauses for a moment to weigh the words she says in his mind. He’s done a great job of up keeping his family’s facade in front of his friends for years. From time to time they’d sense something was bothering him, Kimberly in particular, and ask, but he’d always dismiss it and underplay just how severe the issues were.
While he was waiting around for Aislyn to show that attention and care he’d come to expect of her after they started dating, he didn’t realize that the people around him were already trying to do exactly that and he’d always just brushed them away. “You know what… I actually would.” He says.
Kim’s eyes widen for a moment when he says this, as she was clearly expecting his usual rejection. “Okay.” She says, giving him a smile he wasn’t used to seeing from her. “Go ahead…”
7:30 p.m. | Aislyn’s Home
“Where have you been?” Aislyn snaps when she sees J.D.
“Now, now, a temper isn’t something you’re known for, Sunshine. Has someone other than me managed to get under your skin?”
“I’d rather not talk about it.” Aislyn says as she takes the seat across from him. “But I’m sorry, I shouldn’t take it out on you.”
At this J.D. laughs, “No worries, it’s nice seeing you lose your cool for a change, you are unusually level headed most of the time.”
“So, ready to tell me about your friend, and where you’ve been off to?” Aislyn asks.
“To quote you, I’d rather not talk about it… just yet.” J.D. says.
– SIX DAYS LATER –
7:00 a.m. | Liberty Library
J.D. was at the house less and less, and Aislyn didn’t want to pry into what he was doing until he was ready since she also didn’t want to vent to him just yet. The days carried on unbelievably slow; perhaps because she was waiting to hear something from Gus and Cailean, both of whom were radio silent.
At her usual Sunday shift in the library, Ms. Tidwell and Nina, whom Aislyn hadn’t seen in a while, decide to swing by.
Being homeschooled, Nina often asked Aislyn for help explaining things that were out of the scope of her grandmother’s teaching.
Aside from Aislyn’s voice softly ringing throughout the room to Nina who couldn’t speak, it was a quiet and relatively empty morning in the library.
“I can’t thank you enough dearie, there’s quite a few things I’m unable to teach her now as it has been so long since I’ve learned them myself.” Ms. Tidwell says as Nina packs away her things. “No worries, glad I could help.” Aislyn says. She says her goodbyes to the ladies as they head on home and goes to look for Amber as she has a favor to ask her.
After searching the break-room, and periodical section in the basement, Aislyn finally finds her in the computer room. It looked like Amber was having a moment with someone, and so she turns to leave, but catches a part of their conversation.
“Come on now, why have you been avoiding me babe?” The man questions. “Back off, Ethan. I already told you, we’re done.” Amber says in a small voice. “We’re done when I say we are done.” The man, Ethan, says as he draws closer to Amber, the tone of the conversation indicated to Aislyn that she needed to intervene.
“Hey there, buddy, I think you need to clear out.” Aislyn says.
“I’m not your buddy, and this doesn’t concern you. So run along now, unless you’d like me to make you leave.”
“We can continue this conversation with the authorities present if you’d like.”
Aislyn’s threat seemed to do the trick, and Ethan makes his way to the door. “This isn’t over.” He says to Amber over his shoulder as he walks out.
“You alright?” Aislyn asks once she’s sure he’s gone.
“Yeah… Thanks.” Amber says. She looked unusually vulnerable to Aislyn whom had only ever seen her angry or indifferent. “Can we talk?” Amber asks.
“Was that your boyfriend?” Aislyn asks once they take a seat in one of the reading rooms. “Not anymore, but that’s not what I wanted to discuss.” Amber says. “I wanted to apologize.”
“For what?” Aislyn says, slightly surprised.
“We’ve been working together here for quite some time, and I’ve noticed some odd things about you. How you seemingly talk to yourself sometimes when you think you’re alone in the break room or when you’re stacking books away.” Aislyn swallows, unsure where this was going.
“Long story short, I may have said some unkind things about you behind your back to my friends… and for that I’m sorry.”
Aislyn was used to that kind of behavior from people around her she didn’t really know, and so she was unfazed by Amber’s revelation since they weren’t really friends, but she appreciated her apology nonetheless. “Don’t worry about it.” Aislyn says.
“So were you looking for me?” Amber asks, back to her indifferent self. Her moment of vulnerability and openness disappeared as quickly as it came and Aislyn almost forgot that she was looking for her because she wanted to ask for a favor.
“Umm… yeah, look, I know you covered for me last week, and I’d hate to trouble you again so soon, but–” “Done.” Amber says, not bothering to let Aislyn finish. “But you didn’t hear what I was going to say.” Aislyn says.
“You want me to cover for you again, right? It’s fine. I don’t like feeling indebted to anyone and consider it a thank you for earlier.” Amber says. “See ya.” She adds, before giving Aislyn a chance to say thank you.
“Bye.” Aislyn says long after she leaves.
1:00 p.m. | Liberty Square
“Hey, mind if we stop here for a second?” Cailean says to Chad; they were on their way to grab lunch, which Gus had opted out of saying he was busy. “Not really, why though?” Chad asks.
Cailean had yet to mention his feelings for Aislyn to anyone, nor did he plan to, especially to Chad whom had caught onto it long before he himself had. He didn’t want to see his smug expression. “I have something I need to tell Aislyn.” Cailean says, hoping Chad wont pry. “Of course you do.” He says, giving that very expression Cailean didn’t want to see. “Just wait here.” Cailean says before he heads inside.
The library is pretty empty for a Sunday, but Cailean still doesn’t see Aislyn right away. After a painfully slow week, he had figured it was time to apologize. He felt like doing it over the phone or text wasn’t right, so stopping by while she was working seemed to be the best route.
He sees her coworker in the reading room he’d spoken to Aislyn in a few weeks ago.
“Hey, is Aislyn around?” He asks.
“No, I’m covering for her. Is there something you need?”
“No, not really, I just needed to tell her something.”
“Want me to contact her for you?”
“No, don’t worry about it.”
Cailean was hoping to get his apology out sooner rather than later because despite wanting to push Aislyn away, he still cared what she thought of him and he felt the longer he put it off, the harder it would take to make things right. Since he didn’t want to sit at home for the rest of the day letting his thoughts linger on her even more, he decided he’d go to his office and get some things done after his lunch with Chad.
6:21 p.m. | Aislyn’s House
“Does that look straight?” Lexi asks as she readjusts the lights. “It’s fine.” Aislyn says. “We still need to get the back done before nightfall.” Aislyn had learned during Mai’s girls’ night that Lexi was an interior designer, and when she had reached out to her to ask where the best place would be to get holiday lights from, Lexi volunteered to go out with her to purchase and set them up as she quite enjoyed it. She had a busy schedule however, and could only make time on Sunday afternoon, which is why Aislyn needed Amber to cover for her at work.
After a few hours, they stand back and admire their work. Aislyn never bothered to decorate or celebrate the holidays, but since her father and Nicole were planning to come by in two weeks’ time, she felt the need to make an effort.
“Thanks again; that was more work than I thought it would be.” Aislyn says.
“I told you, it’s my passion; it didn’t feel like work at all. Thanks for letting me help you.”
“You don’t seem happy for someone who’s preparing for the holidays though.” Lexi says. “What’s wrong? Boy troubles?” She adds. Not wanting to discuss it, Aislyn merely sighs and nods.
Lexi laughs, “I feel you, girl.” She says. “So did you ever go after that barista?” Aislyn asks, remembering Lexi’s mention of him at Mai’s and wanting to direct the subject away from herself. “OMG! So funny you should mention that…” Lexi says as she begins to recount her story providing Aislyn with some welcomed distraction.
Though Aislyn enjoyed listening to Lexi’s tale about her pursuit of the cute coffee shop worker, she had a weird empty and cold feeling after Lexi left. Hearing Lexi describe moments of her heart fluttering made Aislyn remember part of the reason why she decided to go out with Gus in the first place… which was for physical touch. With J.D. gone more than usual lately, Aislyn felt cold inside, and not just because of the growing winter.
As Aislyn thinks about this while she cleans up after Lexi’s departure, she’s interrupted by her phone ringing.
“Hello?” She says. “Hi.” Gus says on the other end. “Sorry for not reaching out… I miss you.” He adds. “Can I come over?” Aislyn blurts, flushing at her own forwardness. “I’d like that.” Gus says, and Aislyn can hear the smile in his voice.
Since the last time Aislyn was at Gus’s, the bare landscape had become covered with snow. It’s pretty here… She thinks.
“Hey there, stranger.” Gus says when he answers the door. Aislyn smiles, “Whose fault is that?” She teases, as it was he who had left without a word and remained silent all week.
“Guilty as charged.” He says as he steps back and opens his arms. Aislyn steps forward into his embrace and feels a bit of the warmth she’d been needing but not enough.
“Want to go upstairs?” Gus asks, cutting straight to the chase. Aislyn nods, thinking that perhaps it was a lack of physicality between her and Gus that was part of the problem.
He holds her hand on the way to his room, and begins kissing her while unzipping her vest and pulling her shirt over her head once they enter.
He pulls off his jacket and slips out of his jeans as he spins her around so her back is facing his bed.
He lowers her down gently and they make their way up to the top of the bed, kissing and touching one another the entire time. As they rub more and more of their skin with one another, Aislyn notices she’s not feeling the way she thought she would. Her heart wasn’t racing, her blood wasn’t boiling, she still felt empty despite Gus being so close beside her.
As he reaches towards her jeans, she doesn’t think going through with this any further will change the way she feels. Not knowing how he’ll take to her stopping him after agreeing to let things get this far, “Wait.” She says as she reaches for his arm and pulls back.
“What is it?” Gus asks. As Aislyn gets a good look at his face when he pulls away, she notices the lack of fervor in his expression as well and wonders if perhaps he was feeling the same way she does. “Does this feel… right to you?” Aislyn asks. With a sigh, Gus eases off of her and rolls to his back.
“I don’t know how exactly I’m supposed to be feeling; this is new to me.” Gus says after a moment of silence. “Same here…” Aislyn says, “…but the fact that we’re this conflicted is a problem.”
“A problem we can fix?” Gus asks. “I don’t know…” Aislyn says honestly.
“When I came to your place last week, did I do something I shouldn’t have?”
“Would you have told me if I did?” Gus asks, turning to meet her eyes. “I don’t know.” Aislyn says yet again with an honesty that surprises herself. They lie beside each other not speaking for a few more minutes, and the lack of any feeling in Aislyn despite being this close to Gus only reaffirms her belief that sleeping together wouldn’t dissipate whatever wall they had between them. She decides it’d be best if she leaves.
“I think I should go…” She says. Even with their close proximity and half-nakedness, lying beside each other and talking hadn’t made Aislyn feel awkward with Gus in the least. “Want me to take you back?” Gus offers. “That’s alright.” She says.
“Well, I’m going to go take a shower.” Gus says, rising off of the bed and heading to his restroom without looking back at Aislyn, which she assumes is so she can get dressed in peace. Despite Gus no longer being in the room, Aislyn decides she’ll put her clothes back on downstairs as she wanted to be out of his room as quickly as possible and reaches for them from the foot of the bed and heads to the door.
The doorknob begins to turn right as she reaches for it and she steps back in a panic. She lowers her gaze to the floor as the door swings forward and prays silently that it isn’t Gus’s mother since she already had a negative impression of Aislyn that her current appearance wouldn’t help. She notices men’s shoes and breathes a sigh of relief. “Well, it appears I’ve interrupted something.” An all too familiar voice says, and Aislyn’s relief disappears as quickly as it comes.
She looks up and sees that standing before her is Cailean.
Thanks for reading! Hehe, the chapter was initially a tad longer, but I cut it because I felt like that was an ok place to stop for now :3 Feel free to let me know what you thought, quite a few different things were going on in this chapter, and they may seem inconsequential now, but they shall be important later on, I promise 🙂