SECOND PART RECAPS
***author’s note: Hello! One of the top 3 most criminal gaps between chapters yet *cries* Thanks for being so patient, there’ll be some rambling and explanations at the end per usual. Hope you enjoy~***
4:22 a.m. | Scott Guest Room
The sensation of Aislyn shivering in Cailean’s arms jolts him awake. The slight throbbing in his temple lets him know it has been a few hours since they’d fallen asleep as his hangover was beginning to kick in. Aislyn was nestled in his arms, fast asleep. Cailean gently rolls her onto her side, doing his best to not wake her, before easing himself off of the bed. He pulls the comforter they were laying on over Aislyn, wondering how her breathing remained so steady despite the rest of her body shaking, almost violently. Cailean rejoins her, propping his head on one of his arms, while wrapping the other over the blanket cocoon he’s just created. This was not the first time Aislyn has experienced such chills in his presence, and Cailean wonders if perhaps she has an intolerance to the cold.
He himself was feeling rather hot however, given their activities earlier in which he and Aislyn had spent a lengthy amount of time exploring one another’s bodies. As the memories of them alternating between lips and fingertips flood to the forefront of his mind, Cailean feels the heat that had begun to ebb away return to his face. He wasn’t normally one to give in to his desires like that, but he couldn’t deny that the drinks he’d consumed – thanks to the coaxing of Kim and Mai – had lowered his inhibitions, greatly. He’d wanted to ask Aislyn quite a few things, the reason why she and his mother talked at the graveyard as opposed to the station being one for starters. If his mother was worried about Aislyn’s character, she’d have told him instead of talking to Aislyn alone. After all, she’d tried to warn him about his last girlfriend, granted he’d refused to listen and she’d ultimately been right, but that was besides the point.
Aislyn had said his mother was kind to her, and though Cailean was having a tough time wrapping his head around that, the significance of that wasn’t lost on him. The expression on Aislyn’s face earlier also told him there was definitely something more she was hesitant to tell him… But for some reason, all of those things didn’t bother him as much as they had before. Based on what Aislyn had told him, it wasn’t that she didn’t want to talk to him, she was just concerned at how he’d think of her if she did. Beside him, Aislyn stills. Cailean presses the back of his hand on her forehead and is relieved that she’s warm to the touch. “I must be a simple man if hearing you say you care so much about what I think is enough to take my worries away, just like that.” He says in a low voice. He leans down and presses his lips to her cheek before quietly making his way out of the room.
Cailean finds Mai and Kim sprawled on the floor beside the table they were sitting at earlier. He wonders if Mai had told Chad she was planning on spending the evening out, and once again Cailean feels a pang of sadness for his friend who was clearly still in the midst of a rather complicated situation. Cailean grabs an icy bottle of water from the fridge behind the counter and downs it. Thankfully it was Saturday; he was not looking forward to experiencing his usual hangover symptoms, as minor as they were, but at least he didn’t have work to worry about. While the night’s events unfolded quite differently than he’d expected, Cailean couldn’t say he wasn’t satisfied. He’d gotten to see a side of Aislyn he hadn’t before, and he possessed a better understanding of where she was coming from. For now, that was enough for him.
Cailean tosses his empty bottle and walks over to Mai. Before he can help her up and into Kim’s room, the sound of bells redirects his attention towards the table. Neither Mai nor Kim stirs in the slightest at the noise and Cailean cracks a small smile, amused. He notices the slightly muffled ringing is coming from Aislyn’s jacket, and walks over to it to silence her phone. A quick glance at the glowing screen shows the word ‘Dad’ which remains for a moment before the call ends and Cailean sees Aislyn’s notifications: 13 missed calls and 27 messages. In addition to Aislyn’s father, Nicole’s name appears on the list, along with several others Cailean doesn’t recognize, but assumes are Aislyn’s coworkers. Minah, Randall, Axel… It appeared as though quite a few people were trying to get a hold of her, and after deliberating for a split second as to whether it could wait until morning, Cailean decides waking Aislyn is likely the best course of action.
After returning to the guest room, he sits on the edge of the bed. “Aislyn.” Cailean says, placing a palm on her shoulder to shake her. Her eyes flutter open slowly. “Cailean?” She mumbles and Cailean can’t help but smile at her visible confusion. “Were you expecting someone else?” He jokes. “Maybe.” Aislyn smiles. “I think there are quite a few people looking for you.” Cailean says as he holds out her phone. “Oh.” Aislyn says in surprise. She speedily sends a few texts before sighing. “I think I have to go.” She says after a few minutes. “Now?” Cailean says incredulously. Aislyn nods as she attempts to sit upright.
“There’s a deadline on Monday that we’ve made little progress on, so my coworkers were trying to get a hold of me to tell me we’re meeting up tomorrow… technically today.”
“Why don’t you rest for a bit longer, then go? Or just don’t go.” Cailean makes no attempt to hide the concern in his voice. He reaches out and places his palm on her cheek. Aislyn tilts her head onto it. “I sort of played hooky today, so I have to make up for it.” She says. “Besides…” She pauses to glance at her phone, “if I leave now, I’ll have just enough time to get back, get ready, and be punctual.” Cailean gives a defeated nod.
“I wish I hadn’t had anything to drink, I could’ve driven you back. It’s not like I have anything to do today anyway.” Cailean holds Aislyn’s jacket out, and she slides her arms into it. “I appreciate the offer.” She says as they begin making their way downstairs. “And, I’m sorry.” Cailean looks at her questioningly. “I’ve never seen you drunk before. I’m guessing that was my doing…” She adds quietly. “It was Kim’s doing actually.” Cailean says matter-of-factly. Aislyn raises a brow. “I don’t believe you, but thanks for saying that anyway.”
She slips her hand into Cailean’s as they reach the bottom of the steps and the naturalness of the gesture surprises him. He leans down and presses his lips to hers. “I’m regretting actually agreeing to let you go.” A blush spreads over Aislyn’s cheeks at his words. “Now that you’ve mentioned it, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you drunk either.” He says as his eyes drift along the color forming on her face. “I act more…” Aislyn stops herself. “More?” Cailean echoes to get her to continue. “…more like how I used to be.” She says with distaste.
“And that is?”
“More giggly, and emotional, and I hate it.” Aislyn says, her face reddening further.
“Everything you’re saying is only piquing my curiosity. Maybe our next date should be at a winery.”
“Sorry to dash your expectations, but I’ve sworn off of drinking for good. It would take something extraordinary to see me go for any kind of alcohol willingly.”
Despite the lighthearted nature of their conversation, there was a weight to Aislyn’s words, one Cailean wanted to carefully pick apart, but would have to wait until another time. When they reach Aislyn’s car, he considers asking once again if she really needed to go, but refrains from doing so, not wanting to seem clingy. At his silence Aislyn gives his hand a squeeze. “I’ll call when I get home this time, promise. Actually, I’ll text you, you’ll probably be sleeping by then.” She says, and Cailean chuckles. “A call is fine.” They kiss once more before Aislyn enters her car. Cailean waits until her taillights disappear in the distance before returning inside to tend to Mai and Kim.
7:51 a.m. | Aislyn’s Room
“Wow, you actually left?!” J.D. exclaims. Upon returning home, Aislyn had went straight to the shower after giving Cailean the call she promised. When she’d come out in her work clothes and not her pajamas, J.D. who had been waiting in her room, had demanded an explanation. And so, Aislyn gave him a shortened retelling of the evening. “Did you forget I ditched to spend the day with you? I’m the newest member of the team, it’s too soon for me to stop pulling my weight.” Though Aislyn believed what she was saying, she did feel regretful over having to cut her night short. She’d only planned as far ahead as patching things up with Cailean, but at some point along the way, had started looking forward to spending the weekend in Oldmerrow.
“Pretty-boy is a better man than me because I would not let my partner leave in the midst of all that.”
“The midst of what? I said that I managed to clear things up a bit. There wasn’t much else to say.” Aislyn says as she twists her damp hair into a bun.
“Oh please, Sunshine. You started your story saying that you found him at midnight, then cut to you leaving the place at 4 a.m. I took creative liberties in filling the night’s activities, and I don’t think I’m wrong.”
“I told you, we fell asleep.”
“Yeah, after covering a few bases I’m sure.” J.D. scoffs. Aislyn’s face burns in embarrassment. “You’re unbelievable.” She says as she rolls her eyes. “Try saying that again after you’ve finished buttoning your blouse.” J.D. grins. Aislyn spins towards her mirror in an attempt to conceal the blush she was suspecting was forming on her face from J.D. Once she’s sure none of the blossoming bruises that were starting to form along her décolletage are visible, she grabs her things and heads towards the door. “Later.” She says without a backwards glance. J.D. utters nothing in response, instead providing a very knowing laugh.
8:31 a.m. | Bayville Sentinel HQ
In her haste to make sure she was on time, Aislyn had forgotten all about the problem she’d made for herself through her conversation with Axel. As she lays eyes on him in the break area, yesterday’s encounter flashes through her mind. When Cailean had handed her her phone, Aislyn had seen a string of voicemails and messages from Minah and Randall asking if she’s alright and that they’d be having a makeshift meeting. She assumes they must’ve spoken to Axel when she’d failed to respond, because some time afterwards she’d received a single text from him that said ‘I know I said there’s no point in us being around each other, but we still have a job to do.’
‘I know. I’ll be there.’ She’d texted back.
After taking a moment to collect herself, she approaches him. He meets her eyes with a rather cold expression Aislyn feels she deserves. “Morning.” She says awkwardly. “Talking are we? Color me surprised.” Axel says as he takes a sip from the coffee he’s brewed. “Look, about yesterday… you were right. There was something else on my mind, I didn’t mean to project it onto you.” Axel raises a brow, seemingly unconvinced. “And… Something Minah said bothered me.” Axel’s brows furrow slightly, but he remains silent, indicating he was expecting her to continue. Aislyn gives a defeated sigh. “She told me that you had sketches… of someone that looks like me in your sketchbook.” Aislyn says this keeping her eyes fixed on Axel’s collar. She didn’t have it in her to see the expression he wore on his face. She suspects her own looks mortified.
“And I wouldn’t have cared, but then I remembered how you really didn’t want me to see it that time at your place… But apparently you had no problem showing Minah, so I don’t know, I just thought maybe there was something you were keeping from me…” I’m rambling. Aislyn thinks as she continues to divulge her embarrassing train of thought. After what feels like an eternity of painful silence, she lifts her eyes to meet his. To her astonishment, Axel looks more embarrassed than angry. Is he blushing? She thinks.
Axel pinches his nose bridge. After clearing his voice, he speaks, “Just so we’re clear, I didn’t show Minah anything. We were in the break room once, and she snatched it out of my hands and flipped through it before I took it back. I normally don’t show my work to anyone. No exceptions.”
Axel pauses to sigh, “But… if seeing it would put your mind at ease-” “No no no, that’s okay. You don’t have to do that!” Aislyn interrupts hastily. “Those were old sketches… of my friend, Tris. Not you.” Axel says in explanation. He had mentioned before that he had a friend that resembled her; if Aislyn had taken a moment to think about it, she could’ve logically come to that conclusion on her own. Great. Now he’s going to think I’m an egomaniac. “Sorry I made things weird.” She says. “Well, I gave our relationship a rather rocky start myself, so I suppose I can give you a pass this time.” Axel says with a smirk. Aislyn exhales a sigh of relief. “So we’re cool… again?” “I suppose so, for now.” Aislyn breaks out into a smile that Axel returns.
“Want some?” Axel points to the cup in his hand. Aislyn nods, and he begins brewing another after asking how she takes it. “Thanks.” She says, taking the steaming mug from his hands once he finishes. They walk over to the break room couches and drink in silence for a few moments. With each sip, Aislyn slowly feels the effects of the caffeine surge through her. Now that she had a chance to think about it, she was running on roughly three hours of sleep and would surely feel it as the day dragged on.
“So, should we start going over what we’ve got so far?” Aislyn asks, breaking the silence. “I wouldn’t say it’s fair for us to start working during our precious free time, when the ones who organized this meeting have yet to arrive. Wouldn’t you agree?” Axel says. Aislyn tilts her head and looks at him. “So we just sit around and wait until then?”
“No, I think we should go and take a front row seat to see Minah and Randall take the walk of shame.” Aislyn looks at Axel questioningly. “You didn’t notice the calls and texts they were sending were seconds apart? They definitely went home together.” He says with a wave of his hand. Aislyn shakes her head, “I looked at my phone so long afterwards, I didn’t pay attention.”
“Not that it’s our business, but it’d be amusing to see them get a little flustered, especially since they were making it so obvious something was going on.” Axel smirks. “That’s unusually petty of you.” Aislyn says. Axel shrugs as he rises off of the couch and she follows. “We have nothing to show Silva, so you can pretty much kiss your weekend goodbye.” He says as they wait for the elevator.
“I didn’t really have anything to do anyway, so I’m okay with that.”
“That’s lame.” Axel says under his breath. “I heard that.” Aislyn nudges him. “I meant for you to.” Axel returns the gesture.
They walk through the Sentinel’s front doors and take a seat on the steps. The street was quiet; hardly a car or soul out with no one having to rush to work or school. A few unfamiliar faces, likely with deadlines of their own to meet, trickle in and out the Sentinel as they wait. “How much do you want to bet they’ll be holding hands?” Axel asks as he leans back on the steps. “Why did you say that in such a condescending tone?” Aislyn notes aloud. “Did I?” Axel shrugs. “Can’t say I get the whole romance thing. Is being all touchy feely with someone really a big deal?”
“That sounds like something someone who’s never been in love before would say-” Aislyn had meant that as a joke, but the seriousness in Axel’s expression halts her. “Can’t say I have.” He says nonchalantly. “Have you?” Axel asks, he turns his head to meet Aislyn’s eyes and the change in his tone catches her off guard. Aislyn didn’t even have to pause to think about it. Yes. Is what she wanted to say, but the word was caught in her throat. She hadn’t explicitly thought it before, but she knew that was how she felt about Cailean. So why was she unable to vocalize it?
“I…” The sound of approaching footsteps causes them to break their locked eyes. Sure enough, it’s Minah and Randall making their way up the stairs, hand in hand, laughing and blissfully unaware of the two waiting for them. An identical look of embarrassment forms on both of their faces when they lay eyes on Aislyn and Axel, and they release their grip on one another. “A little late for that, isn’t it?” Axel says with a grin, his intensity moments ago nowhere to be found. He glances Aislyn’s way for a brief moment, but says nothing more as he rises and reenters the Sentinel.
“Come on.” Minah says, extending a hand to help Aislyn up. “Thanks.” She says, taking it. “Ready for some blood, sweat, and tears?” Randall jokes as the three of them ascend the steps together. “Mmm-hmm.” Aislyn says with a smile that she can tell does not reach her eyes.
– TWO DAYS LATER –
8:12 a.m. | Cailean’s Office
If Cailean had to make a list of how he spent his weekend, for the first time in what felt like ages, it would be relatively empty. He wishes he could say that it was relaxing, but he’d found he was stressed instead considering the reason why he had a lack of things to do: his non-existent Phillips case. He knew his mother was right and there was nothing he could do, and it wasn’t the first time a case didn’t pan out, but never had the circumstances been as odd as this. The rest of the world seems to have moved on though; the press and news had all run their stories saying the culprit had come forward and all was well. Cailean spent a great deal of time revisiting the events, but without being able to actively gather more evidence or speak with more people, he was unable to make any progress. It was time for him to put it all to bed and start working on something new.
While his work life wasn’t going so smoothly, his romantic life was. Aislyn had seemed different, brighter somehow. Though she’d told him she was working overtime with her coworkers, she initiated the majority of their texts and calls all weekend. As simple as it was, it was a nice change of pace. Cailean wondered if their conversation on Friday had helped to bring down some of that wall Aislyn had around her, he’d be happy if that were the case.
All Cailean’s thoughts, both the bad and the good, only served to make falling asleep difficult for him. By the time he finally manages to get some shut eye, it’s only an hour before his alarm wakes him. He had to cut his usual routine short during his preparations for work. The fact that his office door is already ajar when Cailean arrives doesn’t register until he hears a voice speak to him.
Cailean’s head snaps to the corner of the room where he sees the Ravensburg District Attorney, Diana Christenson, sifting through one of his bookshelves. “Morning.” He echoes, unable to hide his surprise. He glances at his watch. 8:12 a.m. of course he’d have an important guest the one day he shows up to work slightly late and unkept after his rather restless weekend. Ms. Christenson gives him a smile, one warmer than he thought she was capable of providing. Cailean looks at her curiously, “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Filip let me in, he was shocked you weren’t already here when he did.”
“I’m usually more punctual.” Cailean says as he sets his bag down beside his desk. “Stressful weekend?” Ms. Christenson asks as she looks him over. “That bad, huh?” Cailean rubs his neck. “Your initial impression was rather… different from the one you’re giving now.”
“Sorry to disappoint.”
“Quite the contrary.”
Cailean is unsure of what to say in response to that. “I trust you recall our last conversation.” Ms. Christenson continues at his silence. “Yes, you mentioned you were looking for someone to eventually act as your replacement.”
“Correct, and I also said that I’d be keeping an eye out to see if you would be someone I could consider the right man for the job. I’m here to tell you that you are.”
“Oh.” Cailean utters, unable to vocalize anything else. Suddenly aware of the fact that he was still standing beside his desk and Ms. Christenson near the bookshelf, he gestures for her to sit. Ms. Christenson walks over to the chair closest to him, and Cailean steps around her to sit beside her as opposed to behind his desk. He had fallen under the impression Ms. Christenson wasn’t that fond of him; he wanted to speak face-to-face to see if he could get a clearer picture of what she may truly be thinking.
“While I’m honored that you think so, I can’t say I’ve done anything since I’ve seen you last to have you come to that conclusion.” Cailean says, and he means it. All he had to show for himself for the past few weeks was his fruitless Phillips case. “Winning cases isn’t all that matters in this position. What I value is competence and integrity, and you strike me as a man that has both.” Ms. Christenson’s steady gaze and stern tone convey her conviction.
“Are you uninterested in the job?” She asks, raising an eyebrow.
“No, that’s not it.”
“Perhaps you don’t wish to relocate to Ravensburg-” “That’s not it either.”
“If I’m being honest, I didn’t think I’d be considered seriously, so I hadn’t thought about it at all.” Cailean states, having been pressed for an answer. He thinks back to his initial meeting with Ms. Christenson, their conversation hadn’t crossed his mind much since. “Well, you aren’t just being considered, you’re being selected. So, I’m asking you to think about it now.” Ms. Christenson looks at Cailean patiently.
“Ms. Christenson-” “Diana is fine.” She interrupts.
“Diana, I’m flattered, but I don’t know if I’m the right man for the job.”
“The ‘right man for the job’ is someone who doesn’t blindly rush towards settling cases or putting just anyone behind bars.” Diana leans in, “The ‘right man for the job’ is someone who instead of happily running home knowing he wont have to deal with lengthy court preparations upon hearing there’s been a confession, instead decides to make late night visits to a victim’s home to hear the truth for himself.”
Cailean feels his face grow hot. “How do you know about that?” Diana smiles at his question. “I told you, I was keeping an eye out.” Cailean’s feeling of embarrassment grows. “I don’t normally do things like that, it’s just-” “Something didn’t feel right to you, did it?” Diana guesses, and Cailean nods.
“Do not worry, I wouldn’t be sitting here if I didn’t approve.” She smiles as she crosses her legs. “There are times when the course a situation takes is beyond our control, but what matters is the choices we make before everything is out of our grasp completely.”
“That’s a noble sentiment, but I didn’t really accomplish anything. My actions only served to leave me with more unanswered questions and some frustration.” Cailean hangs his head. “From your point of view perhaps.” Diana says quietly. Cailean turns to look at her questioningly, and notices that her eyes are fixed on the bookshelf behind him. “Pardon?” He says, and Diana returns her eyes to his.
“Look, Cailean, twenty-seven years I’ve held this job, and I plan to have my twenty-eighth be my last. I began my search months ago, and you’re the first individual I’ve met that I’d feel comfortable entrusting my legacy to. I can’t promise you that things in Ravensburg will be any less frustrating. The population is ten times as large as Oldmerrow, and the magnitude of offenses are much greater. It’s even more difficult to satisfactorily resolve cases there than here… But with all that being said, I wouldn’t be here asking you to take the position if I didn’t think you and the city of Ravensburg would both stand to benefit from it.” Diana’s expression is surprisingly soft.
To say he was flattered upon hearing those words felt like an understatement. Cailean had only begun working in this profession because of his father. He was content with the way things were. He never had any ambitions of climbing up the workplace ladder or leaving the town he’s grown to call home, but he suddenly found the prospect of doing both enticing.
“I’ll leave you my card. After you’ve given it some thought, give me a ca-” “There’s no need.” Cailean interjects, “I accept.” Diana gives him a crooked smile. “Excellent. I had a feeling you would.” She extends her hand and Cailean takes it. “So… what now?” He asks, mirroring her smile. “Now, we ought to start going through the motions of paperwork and contracts. You’ll also have to begin looking for a place in Ravensburg, preferably close to the office, and so on… but I’d much prefer jumping right into work first and dealing with the mundane parts later if that’s alright with you.” Cailean grins, “That’s fine, what did you have in mind?”
Diana clasps her hands together, “Do you have any plans this Friday evening?” She asks. Cailean smiles, “No, but it appears as though I do now.”
– FOUR DAYS LATER –
5:03 p.m. | Aislyn’s Room
“So it’s a party?” J.D. asks as he leans against the wall. “Not really. Cailean said it was some work networking thing happening here in Bayville. He was told he could bring a date, so he asked if I wanted to go and I said yeah.” Aislyn explains as she attempts to tuck some loose strands of hair into her rollers. “That sounds so fun.” J.D. says sarcastically, “If it’s a work function, he’ll probably be too busy for it to be considered a date.”
“I don’t care, I’d be happy spending any time with him at all.” Aislyn reaches into her drawer to pull out one of her makeup palettes and sets it onto the dresser.
“I can’t believe my ears. Is this the Aislyn I know speaking to me?” J.D. leans forward, and Aislyn turns away from his stare. She walks over to her bed and takes the dress carefully laid onto it into her hands. Hesitant to put it on, she twiddles the straps between her fingers. “Is this your not-so-subtle way of telling me I need to vacate the room for you to change?” J.D. asks as he appears at her side. Aislyn nods, pushing some of the hair still that had spilled out of her rollers behind her ears.
“Okay, what’s the problem?” J.D. crosses his arms. “What makes you so sure there is one?” Aislyn asks. “Because I know you, and you’re being obvious.” Aislyn feels her face redden, “I’d… rather not say.”
“Back to keeping secrets again, it’s only been a week.”
“It’s not a secret, it’s just embarrassing.” Aislyn walks back to her dresser, garment in hand, and J.D. follows.
“If you’re trying to make me give up on asking, you’re doing a terrible job.” J.D. says as he leans back. “Go on now, don’t be shy.” The smile he has on tells Aislyn he was enjoying her reactions. With a defeated sigh, Aislyn shares what’s on her mind. “Since it was sort of short notice, I didn’t have time to buy anything nice, so I borrowed something from Nicole…”
“And? You always say she has good taste, do you think it looks terrible or something?” J.D. tilts his head to take a better look at the dress. “It’s not that…” Aislyn’s eyes dart to the dress’s neckline, and J.D. follows her movement. “Oh.” He says, understanding clicking in. “Ohhhhh.” He repeats this time with a laugh he makes no attempt to hide. “Your step-mom is a bit more… how should I say it? Well-endowed than you.”
“I can’t believe I’m having this conversation with you right now.” Aislyn buries her face in the dress. She rarely wore anything revealing, and Nicole’s dress definitely accentuated the area she was least confident in. She’d have to utilize some extra undergarments so the dress wouldn’t hang loosely off of her frame. In her mind, it was a valid concern.
“So you feel like you’re false advertising is that it?” J.D. asks, amused. “We’re done talking about this.” Aislyn says, dropping the dress back onto her bed. “Sounds like pretty-boy has already seen what you have to offer, so I don’t know what you’re so concerned about-” J.D. is interrupted by Aislyn tossing one of her pumps on the floor in his direction.“ “Okay, okay, I’m going. No need to get so violent.” J.D. teases as he leans in the doorway. Aislyn doesn’t have to look in the mirror to tell she was likely crimson.
6:41 p.m. | Persefoni Home
“Coming!” Shortly after ringing the bell, Cailean hears Nicole’s voice echo from inside. “Cailean! My, don’t you look handsome.” She beams at him when she opens the door. “Hi, Nicole.” Cailean says as he’s drawn into a hug. “Come in, come in.” Nicole ushers him inside and he closes the door behind him. “This is for you, and Marco.” Cailean says as he holds out the present he brought.
“It’s a bit late for a housewarming present, but I hope you both like it.”
“Oh, how thoughtful of you. I don’t doubt we’ll love it.” Nicole says as she takes the gift from his hands. Since Aislyn moved to Bayville, Cailean has never swung by the new Persefoni home. The realization hadn’t dawned on him until Monday night, when he told her he’d be picking her up for the fundraiser they’d be attending, and she texted him their address. As he glances around, Cailean recognizes some of the area from the background of their video calls. “Can I get you anything, some water perhaps?” Nicole asks.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
“Alright then, I’ll go let Aislyn know you’re here. I think she underestimated just how long it would take you to arrive. Those two hours breezed on by, didn’t they?” “They sure did.” Cailean smiles as Nicole ascends the steps. He waits until she’s out of sight before sinking onto the sofa. That two hour drive on a good day was now going to become well over three and a half once he moved to Ravensburg.
He and Diana had spent almost every day together during the week, and while he was feeling slightly overwhelmed with the whirlwind of new information coming his way, Cailean found himself feeling excited as well. He hadn’t told anyone he’d be leaving Oldmerrow yet, not even his mother. He wanted Aislyn to be the first. The added distance was going to be the only major downside to his new job. Considering how little they managed to see one another already, he wasn’t looking forward to having to bring it up.
The sound of footsteps brings Cailean’s wandering mind back. He turns to the staircase and sees Aislyn gripping the railing as she makes her way down, visibly struggling to maintain balance. He casts a glance at her feet and notices she’s wearing rather high heels. Cailean rises and meets her halfway up the steps, extending an arm that Aislyn happily takes. “I don’t know why I didn’t wait until I was downstairs to put these on, I’m terrible at walking in them.” She says as she grips his hand. “If it means you’ll be leaning on me for the majority of the evening, I can’t say I have a problem with that.” Cailean says. He pulls Aislyn into an embrace once they reach the bottom.
“You look beautiful.” He says as they break apart and he takes the sight of her in. “You’ve changed your hair.” Aislyn observes aloud as she runs her fingers through the locks that were hanging by his cheek. “It suits you.” She rests her palm on his shoulder and Cailean is surprised at how that little bit of contact is enough to quicken his pulse.
“I was wondering if, before we head out…” Aislyn pauses to clear her throat, “… we could take a picture…” The request was so simple, and yet, Aislyn’s expression looked as though she’d asked for something grand. “It’s just that, over the weekend I was talking to a friend, and she asked to see a picture of you, and then I realized that while you’re always taking pictures of me, I don’t have any of you, so…”
Something Cailean had noted about Aislyn – relatively recently – was her tendency to over explain when she felt embarrassed about something. How was the girl who’d suggested barging over to someone’s house in the middle of the night without batting an eye, suddenly unable to meet the eyes of her boyfriend when asking to take a picture? Cailean presses his lips against Aislyn’s briefly to halt her explanations. “You get so shy about the weirdest things.” He says, amused.
Unable to conjure up a response to that, Aislyn averts her eyes. Cailean places a hand on her face and guides them back. The brush of their lips wasn’t enough. After a moment in which they lock their gazes, Aislyn lets her lids flutter closed and tilts her chin upwards, letting him know the same thoughts were crossing her mind. Cailean takes a moment to let his eyes drift across her face, taking in the blush of her cheeks, the dark shimmer on her eyelids, the slight part in her red lips before leaning in.
“Did someone say picture?” Nicole’s voice rings from the top of the steps and Aislyn starts in his arms. She attempts to step back, but Cailean’s hands hold her in place. “Yes, would you mind taking one for us?” Cailean asks, turning towards Nicole who was happily bouncing down the stairs, blissfully unaware of what she’d just interrupted. Aislyn reaches into the pocket of her dress and pulls out her phone. “Here.” She says as she places it into Nicole’s palms.
“Come over here, we need that natural light!” Nicole exclaims. Cailean keeps his arm draped over Aislyn’s shoulder as they follow Nicole’s instructions. When they come to a stop by the window, he notices a lock of hair resting in the opposite direction of the rest of Aislyn’s curls, and runs his hand along her head to brush it back into place. “Thanks.” Aislyn says quietly, turning to meet his eyes. Cailean clenches his jaw to keep from instinctively leaning down to kiss her.
Nicole excitedly circles them, snapping several photos with each change in her position. “Okay, that’s enough.” Aislyn says after a few moments, extending her hand for her phone. “Send me some of those, I’m sure your father would love to see his daughter all dolled up.” Nicole pinches Aislyn’s chin, and her blush darkens. Cailean once again finds himself intrigued at the things that made her feel embarrassed.
“We should probably get going.” Aislyn says as she steps out of Nicole’s reach and places her hand into his. Her eyes silently pleading with him for them to go. “Right.” Cailean says, making a solid attempt to stifle his laugh.
“Have a nice time, you two!” Nicole says once they’re at the door. “Pass my greetings on to Marco.” Cailean says.
“Will do!” She replies.
Aislyn pulls Cailean along behind her, leading the way from the house to his parked car. When they come to a stop at the passenger’s side, she releases his hand. “We’re not late, are we?” Aislyn asks, as she reaches for the handle. Cailean intercepts her and leans against the door. “We’re fine on time.” He says. He places his arms on her waist and draws her close. “More importantly, I’ve been waiting to do this.” He says quietly before leading her mouth to his.
Aislyn leans onto his frame, parting her lips to meet his tongue. Cailean wonders how some of the sensations he was used to: the curve of Aislyn’s back beneath his fingertips and shallow synchronized breaths they take as they turn their faces against one another, could cause him to feel as though he were experiencing them anew every time. It’s only when Aislyn slips one of her hands beneath his jacket to run along his abdomen that Cailean pulls them apart.
“Too much?” Aislyn says with a smile that stuns him. “I think you know the answer to that.” Cailean says in a near-whisper. He shifts his weight between his legs to dispel the tightening sensation that had begun in his stomach. “If we keep at this for any longer I probably won’t be able to think straight, which would be a problem considering I’m supposed to be on my way to do some work.” Cailean reaches for the handle of the passenger door. “After you.” He says as he holds it open. To his surprise, instead of going in, Aislyn takes a step closer towards him.
“So what you’re saying is, it won’t be a problem once you finish what you have to.” She says quietly. Cailean blinks, taking a moment to make sure he heard Aislyn correctly. “I suppose that’s one way to interpret my words, yes.” He says as he leans in. He expects Aislyn to retreat, but she shows no sign of moving until their faces are centimeters apart. “We should probably head out now, the earlier we get there, the earlier we can leave, right?” She says. The fact that Aislyn’s eyes never waver from Cailean’s as she says this doesn’t do anything to slow his already elevated heartbeat. The air between them feels as though it is charged. Aislyn reaches behind Cailean’s head and brings his lips to hers for a brief moment before finally stepping back and taking her seat in the car. “Well? Aren’t we going?” She says with a grin, knowing exactly what it was that she was doing to him.
Well, if you’ve made it to the end: thanks, and long time no see! Will this feeling of guilt at such lengthy gaps of time between chapters ever go away? I doubt it 🥲 If you are on tumblr you might have noticed that I said this chapter would be done last week, and that I was 99% sure of that, but to no one’s surprise that didn’t pan out. It’s spring break time in the states, so I had some relatives visit out of the blue and was on hosting duties, lol. Considering it’s been like six months since I’ve updated, I suppose a one week delay isn’t that big a deal, but I had to share that I had an excuse this time around, hehe.
Also, you may be wondering where is the fundraiser? Another not-so-surprise, the chapter got so long (think 13k+… I know) that I had to cut it into two parts, even though I reallyyy didn’t want to. So this chapter ended up being mostly build-up and prep for what’s to come. I guess some good news is that the other chapter just needs some clean-up and it is basically done too, so no months wait for the next one. Hooray 🎊 Those revelations/developments I’ve been teasing last chapter will finally 100% come up next post, I promise.
My excitement for finishing the chapter and getting back to reading and writing has been zapped by RL these past few months. But, I finally muscled through and got it done. I don’t think I’ve taken new story pics for close to two years now. That sounds absolutely insane, but the fundraiser pics for the next chapter have been sitting around since 2019 so I’ve got the time stamps to prove it – and I hate some of them in hindsight *sniff*. I’ll wrap this up now as it is getting quite long. Per usual~ Feel free to let me know your thoughts!
Hope everyone is staying healthy and safe, it’s been a wild couple of weeks in the real world.