Chapter 4: "Now or Never"

January 01, 2008|By SARA MARTENS / Pulse Correspondent

Finally, school let out and Nicky had Christmas break. She spent most of it with Jay, either working on their song or just hanging out. He was fun, and he made her laugh.

Nicky invited him over for New Year's Eve. Just because he was a good friend.

But with less than hour before he arrived, she was rushing around, frantically trying to get ready. She rejected one outfit after another until her entire wardrobe covered her room. She sighed heavily as she decided on a black shimmery tank top with a red jacket layered over top.

She wasn't sure why she cared so much. After all, it was just Jay. But she did care, though she didn't know why.

When he knocked on the door, Nicky rushed down to greet him, pausing in front of her mirror for one last glimpse.


"Hey!" she said brightly, opening the door and letting him in. "Come on, let's go downstairs."

"OK," he answered, looking around with a slight smile.

She had set up a table with snacks and sodas; she chose a bottle of Sprite. A stack of movies sat on the entertainment system.

"Go ahead and pick out what you want to watch first," Nicky said.

"Could I have some water?" Jay asked.

"Sure." Nicky ran up to the kitchen to fetch a bottle.

"Who's that, Nicky?" her mother called from the family room.

"It's just Jay Harrison," she answered. "I invited him over."

"Jay from next door? Do you like him?"

Nicky rolled her eyes. "He's just a friend."

Downstairs, Nicky and Jay watched movies for hours, with time flying by. At just two minutes until midnight, they switched channels to watch the ball drop. Enthusiastically, they joined in the countdown to the new year.

"Five, four, three, two, ONE! Happy New Year!" Nicky turned towards Jay, smiling happily.

Suddenly, she realized how close he was. She found she liked it. She looked up to meet his eyes and found the same mixture of emotions she was sure were reflected in her own. She wasn't sure who moved first but they closed the distance between them in a sweet gentle kiss. They touched tentatively, at first, but doubt quickly disappeared as he wrapped his arms around her, holding her close. She didn't want him to let go.

The next day, Nicky woke up late. She couldn't believe she'd let go last night. She couldn't believe she'd actually kissed Jay. He meant nothing to her! She had to make him see that it would never work out between them.

She saw she had a text on her cell from Jay. She sighed, got dressed and walked over to his house. He stood waiting for her. She approached, but forced herself to stop 10 feet away from him.

"Hey," he said softly.

Nicky remained silent.

"So about last night " he began, his eyes seeking hers. She dropped her gaze.

"It was a mistake," she said.

"A mistake?" he asked in disbelief, pain lacing his words. "How can you say that?"

"Because it was," she answered, forcing out the words even though her heart begged her not to. "It would never have worked out anyway," she said with a forced laugh.

"You don't know that," Jay cried in protest. "Why not? Just answer that. Why not?"

Nicky glanced up at him, but she saw the hurt in his stormy gray eyes, and she knew she caused it. It was too much. Her eyes got wet, and she turned and ran. She heard him call out to her but she didn't stop.

The next two days passed by painfully slowly. She moped around her house, missing Jay's smile, his easy friendship. She wanted to be with him, but, of course, it could never work out between them. That was obvious. They were like oil and water. She couldn't be with Jay, she just couldn't. Even he must see that.

But she hated herself for feeling this way.

On the last day of Christmas break, Nicky lay on the couch, doing nothing. Thinking of Jay.

She heard her mother arrive home and reluctantly got off the couch.

"So, it's finally over" she heard her mom mutter under her breath.

"What's over?" Nicky asked, halfheartedly.

"Mrs. Harrison finally kicked her husband out," her mother answered. "It was about time, the way they'd fight. I just feel sorry for their poor boy What is his name?"

"Jay" Nicky whispered. She ran outside, forgetting her coat.

She found Jay sitting on his back porch, holding his guitar and mindlessly strumming chords. She thought she saw a single tear fall down his cheek.

"Jay," she said softly as she moved closer to sit next to him. "I just heard. I'm so sorry. Is there any way I can help?"

Jay stepped away from her.

"Yeah," he said, bitterly. "You can explain to me why I'm not good enough for you."

She was shocked by the anger she heard in his voice. He turned away from her, trying to control himself. She took a deep, shaky breath before answering.

"Jay, it's not that. I ... I was scared. I can't explain it, but I was afraid so I bolted," she said, trembling. "I am so sorry. But these last couple days all I've done is miss you. I need you and that scares me more than anything."

He finally turned to face her, without saying anything he set his guitar aside and pulled her close, holding her tightly. "I missed you, too. OK, I forgive you, Nicky. I'm just happy you're back."

She pulled back slightly to look into his eyes. She kissed him softly.

They sat together for a long time, reconnecting, holding each other and enjoying their last day before school started back in session.

This is Chapter 4 of a holiday-themed romance story. Chapter 5 will be published next week in Pulse. To read previous chapters, go to and click on the newspaper on the floor.

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