tagRomanceSilver, Blue & Gold

Silver, Blue & Gold

byPennLady©

© 2009 All rights reserved

*

Jacob Scott stared at his desk. Not so much at it as through it. He couldn't believe she was gone. It had been a week and he still couldn't wrap his mind around it. Chelsea had left him.

"I'm sorry, Jacob," she had said, standing by the door with the last of her belongings in a small bag. He had come home to find she'd moved nearly all of her things out while he was at work. As he stood there, dumbfounded, she'd continued. "It just isn't working. I want different things than you do, and it's ridiculous to stay here and pretend otherwise." Then she had left.

Two years, he thought. It took her two years to decide it wasn't working? What the hell does that mean anyway? He had been taken completely by surprise. He had loved her, and thought she loved him. They had been living together in his place for several months. They had even started talking marriage a couple of months ago.

Now she was gone and his world was in shreds. What did I do wrong? he wondered. How could she just walk away? On top of that, someone had snuck into his apartment and taken out some of the treasures he had from his father. Military medals, an old pocket watch, and a few other things simply turned up missing, and he had no idea who could have done it. He'd reported the theft to both the police and the landlord, but nothing had turned up.

"Hey, you." Jake turned at the voice. A wad of paper flew at him and he wasn't quick enough to dodge it. It hit him dead center in the forehead and bounced onto his desk. "Come on, man, wake up."

"Leave me alone, Cam," said Jake. He threw the ball of paper into the trash can next to his desk.

"I've left you alone for a week," Cam told him from the doorway. Cameron Riverton was Jake's best friend. They'd gone into business together and somehow managed to keep the friendship, for which Jake was usually glad. In his current mood, he wasn't sure.

"Then you're getting good at it," said Jake. "Just keep practicing." He resumed staring moodily at his desk, as though if he stared at the papers on it long enough, they'd go away. Perhaps by bursting into flames.

"Look," said Cam, coming over to stand in front of Jake's desk, "I'm really sorry, man. What she did, it sucks. But you have to snap out of it. I know it hurts, but life goes on."

"I don't feel like snapping out of it," Jake grumbled. It was true. In a strange way, it felt good to feel so sorry for himself.

Cameron rolled his eyes. "Of course you don't. No one ever does. Wallow, wallow, wallow. That's all we want to do when someone throws us a curve. So, I've given you a week to do it. Now knock it off."

"I loved her, Cam," Jake said. There was a little heat in his voice, a little anger.

"I know," said Cameron. "And again, I'm sorry. It didn't work. Sometimes it doesn't."

"It was---" Jake began, but Cam cut him off.

"I know, I know. It was two years of your life. You thought you'd marry her. How could she do this? Why didn't she say something sooner?" He shook his head and brown locks fell in his face. He brushed them back. "You've said something like that every day for the past five days, and the answers -- or lack of them -- haven't changed." He cocked his head at Jake, wondering if he was pushing too hard, but continuing anyway. "Frankly, man, it's getting tiresome."

"Tiresome?" Now Jake was angry, and his green eyes flashed. He got up and stalked out to their small lobby to get a drink of water from the cooler. "What the hell do you know anyway? It's easy for you. You get to go home to Madeleine every night, don't you? You don't worry about her leaving, do you?"

"No, I don't," said Cameron evenly. He followed Jake out. His back was starting to get up, too, but he kept his temper in check. Jake might want a fight, but it wouldn't help anything. "But I've been where you are, you know that. When I was with Beth, I thought she was the one. Then she dumped me. I hurt, but I got over it. Then, I admit, I got lucky and met Maddy."

"You can't expect me to act like two years of my life didn't happen," Jake said. He wanted to be angry at Cameron, if only because he was the closest person, but Cam's level tone made it difficult.

"I never said I did," Cameron pointed out. "But you can't sit here every day reviewing the past two years and trying to figure out what you did wrong. Because that's what you're doing, I know it is. You'll drive yourself crazy until you realize the answer: you didn't do anything wrong."

Jake was about to reply when a burst of color whooshed through the door. The burst resolved itself into a woman, probably his age give or take a couple of years. She had golden blonde hair, deep blue eyes, and a metallic silver jacket that nearly hurt his eyes because of the way it reflected the sunlight. She also talked rapidly, like she couldn't get the words out quickly enough.

"Hi. Sorry to bother you. I'm Molly, Molly Sugden. Haven't been here long and I'm just looking for the library. Do you know where it is? Have to check email and all that, you know? Gosh, this is a nice place. You must be really busy. I'm sorry to interrupt." The words tumbled out and Jake and Cameron could only gape. Then Cameron got a curious look in his eye.

"Wait, did you say your name was Molly?" he asked her.

"Yes, that's it, Molly Sugden," she said with a nod. "Well, actually it's Mallory but I never really liked that or being called Mal, so Molly it is. Sorry, do I know you?"

"Don't tell me you've forgotten Sister Laura's U.S. History class already," Cameron said with a grin.

Molly's eyes brightened and a smile grew on her face. Jake thought it was the loveliest smile he'd ever seen. Then he tamped the thought down. I'm depressed, he reminded himself, my girlfriend of two years just broke up with me a week ago.

"Cameron? Oh, my gosh, Cameron Riverton?" Cam nodded. "Oh, wow!" said Molly. "I just got here and I can't believe I ran into someone from high school! How're your Mom and Dad? And your sister? Oh, she must be all grown up now and running her own business or something! And you, this is your place?"

"You bet." Cam came over and gave her a hug which she enthusiastically returned, bouncing all the while. Jake was unexpectedly jealous. "Molly, this is my friend, Jacob Scott. We're in this together."

"Hi, Jacob!" She held out a hand and he took it.

"Hi," he said. He wanted to say more but he'd never met anyone like her, and it was hard to keep up. She seemed to be in constant motion.

"Well, look, you must be really busy and I didn't want to interrupt so if you can just tell me where the library is I'll let you get back to everything." Jake almost laughed; it didn't seem she needed to take a breath.

"Just down the street and left at the light," Cameron told her. "Stop back when you're done, if you'd like. We can catch up. Maybe dinner?"

"Maybe," said Molly. "I'm not sure what I'm doing. I never am. You remember. Thanks, Cam. Bye, Jacob." As quickly as she had burst in through the door, she burst out.

"Wow," said Jake. "She's... something." He half-expected to see papers floating through the air in her wake.

"She's always been like that," Cam told him. "Always with the nervous energy. She used to run, sometimes even before school, just to calm down." He paused, remembering. "She was on the track team. Distance runner."

"Before the days of Ritalin," Jake observed.

"No," said Cam with a considered shake of his head. "I don't think it was anything like that. She just had a lot of energy. Good student, it wasn't like she couldn't concentrate. I think her parents made her nervous, and that's how she dealt with it."

"I just used to go to my room and put on headphones," Jake said.

"So, come to dinner tonight," Cam said.

"What?" Jake was generally used to his friend's abrupt changes of subject, but occasionally they caught him off guard. "Dinner? Why?"

"Why not?" Cameron shrugged. "Beats going home and eating cold pizza and staring at ESPN, which I know is what you're going to do. It's what you always do when you're depressed. You've probably raised your cholesterol ten points in the last week. So come and be social for a while. It won't kill you."

"It would be hot pizza," Jake stalled, "I ate the last piece yesterday." Cam simply stared at him. "All right, all right." Jake gave in. Cam would only badger him for the rest of the day if he said no. "But no talking about Chelsea."

"Deal," said Cam with a nod, and went back to his office.

Jake suddenly realized he hadn't thought about Chelsea since Molly had come in.

x-x-x-x

Molly put her hands in her lap, willing herself to stop wringing them together. She was actually having a lovely time, but she just couldn't sit still. Her mother had always complained about that. "For heaven's sake, Mallory Ann," she would say while her father looked on in his vaguely disapproving way, "it won't kill you to sit quietly like a lady for a few minutes." Maybe, thought Molly, I would have if she hadn't made me so nervous.

She had stopped by Cameron's office on her way back from the library, and he'd invited her to dinner. Since it had been such a nice surprise to find a friend from high school in a town where she knew no one else, she had taken him up on it. Cameron was as friendly as she remembered, and his wife, Madeleine, was wonderfully pleasant.

His friend Jake was there, too, and Molly wasn't sure what to make of him. He was cute, she wouldn't deny that. He was close to six feet, maybe slightly over, and had dark hair and green eyes. Those eyes, Molly noted, were not happy. She could imagine them lighting up when he smiled or made a joke, but for now, they seemed dark and a little sad. She wondered what had happened.

Jake was making an effort not to think about Chelsea or the breakup and hence could think of little else. Come on, he told himself, shake it off, just for a couple of hours. The one thing that did distract him, at least a little, was Molly.

He got the impression she was nervous, and figured it was only natural. She was among strangers, despite knowing Cameron from high school. He'd be nervous in that situation, too. He had seen her put her hands under the table and had to stifle a smile, sure that she was trying to hide her fidgeting. Jake tried to distract her by asking for stories of Cam in high school. Molly had a few, and Cam blushed more than once.

After they'd chatted for a while, Molly found she couldn't sit any more, and began to help clear the table. She hoped it wasn't gauche, but she had to do something. Her father's voice rattled in the back of her mind, reminding her that guests should always be helpful. He never cleared his own plate, she thought idly. Carefully, she carried the dishes into the kitchen and laid them on the counter by the sink. She didn't want to go so far as to wash the dishes; that, she was sure, would just seem weird.

Why can't I just be normal? she wondered futilely, pressing her hands to her eyes. Why can't I just stay focused on one thing? Sit quietly while someone else talks? Surely other people in the world go to dinner with people they don't know well, and it all works out.

"Feeling okay?" Jake's voice nearly made her jump.

"What?" she asked. Her mind was blank.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you," he said, feeling slightly guilty. "You were just standing there with your hands and... I just wondered if you felt all right." Way to go, he thought irritably. Try complete sentences next time.

"I'm fine, thanks," she said. "Just... a little overwhelmed, I guess." Molly smiled a little and he felt better.

"That's a pretty necklace," he said. "It really catches the light." Molly's fingers went self-consciously to the chain around her neck. It was silver with small topaz and sapphire stones woven in.

"Thanks," she said. "I actually... I made it myself." She blushed.

"Really?" Jake asked, surprised. "It's great."

"It's a hobby," she said, willing herself not to babble. "A friend of mine got me into it and I like to do it when I'm off work. It relaxes me and I can even give the odd gift and I'm sorry, I'm babbling and I'll stop now." She smiled nervously and her eyes darted around the kitchen.

Jake laughed. "You weren't babbling, honestly. It sounds interesting. Do you have anything else with blue stones? They're my sister's favorite."

"I have a bracelet," Molly said. "I don't usually wear them and I was just trying to use up some chains and stones and that's what I had lying around and..." She stopped, took a deep breath, and mentally kicked herself. She was nervous, but she could at least try not to sound like a basket case.

"I'd like to see it sometime, if I could," Jake told her. He surprised himself by saying it and realized again that for the time he'd been talking to Molly, Chelsea had never once entered his thoughts. He wasn't sure he was ready to draw any conclusions from that.

"Oh." Molly was taken back. She told few people about her hobby, and showed the results to fewer still. But Jake seemed sincere, she thought. "Okay. Maybe I could bring it by your office one day."

"That'd be fine," he said. There was a short, slightly awkward silence for a moment and then Molly spoke.

"I, um, I'd really better be going," she said. "I start my job in a couple of days and need to get organized. Which means I'll never get organized but I'll pretend I will." Molly turned but then suddenly stopped and put her hands over her face again. "Oh, no," she groaned.

"What?" asked Jake, concerned. "What's wrong?"

Molly sighed. "I have a necklace for Cam's wife and of course I forgot to give it to her. It's in my bag but now I feel ridiculous and... I'm doing it again." She cursed herself for being an idiot and went to get her purse. Curious, Jake followed her.

Molly found her bag, brought it back into the kitchen and sat it on the table. Jake was wary of such a large purse and stood what he thought was a safe distance away. His brother had always said he wouldn't go into his wife's purse for fear of losing an arm, and Jake had similar fears watching Molly dig through hers. His fears dwindled and a smile played over his face as he watched her empty the bag, muttering all the while.

Out came a hair brush, a wallet, a cell phone and an MP3 player. So far, Jake considered, so normal. Then there were a few brochures, for the library and other buildings. All right, he thought. She's new in town and needs information. Hasn't had time to sort them out yet. His eyes widened as more items landed on the table. Chapstick, a small tube of something, a stuffed... octopus? A small bottle that might have been makeup. He finally had to laugh out loud when she pulled a rather thick book out.

"A History of the Vikings?" he asked, still laughing. "Do you always carry that around?"

Molly turned, startled, and blinked. "Not always. Last month it was a book on Cleopatra." She went back to rifling through her purse. Jake stared and couldn't help laughing again. The earnest way she'd responded to him cracked him up.

"Ah ha!" Molly said triumphantly. From the recesses of the purse, she held up a small, gaily colored bag. "I knew it was here."

"That's not a purse," Jake said, eyeing it carefully. "That's a TARDIS."

"My parents always said I must be from another planet," she said absently. "And the TARDIS was supposed to have a chameleon circuit. A purse would have been a great disguise." She took the little bag into the other room. Madeleine was delighted with the necklace, and Molly felt much better.

Jake was a bit nonplussed that Molly had understood the Dr. Who reference. Cam always rolled his eyes when Jake said such things. He said he could tell when Jake made a reference to the show because he had no idea what Jake was talking about. Chelsea wouldn't even watch with him. That hadn't been fair at all, he thought, after he had made himself sit through Desperate Housewives.

"Listen, I've had a great time, but I've got to be going," said Molly. "It was great to see you, Cam, and to meet you, Maddy."

"Come back anytime," Maddy said, standing and giving her a hug. "The necklace really is lovely."

"Oh, you're welcome," Molly said as she blushed slightly. "I could show you how to make them some time, if you'd like." She hadn't meant to say it; it just popped out.

"That'd be great!" said Maddy. "I have other friends who'd love it, too. We'll make it a party."

"I'm busy that night," Cam said automatically. "Jake is, too."

"Oh, never mind," Maddy laughed. "You weren't invited anyway."

"Molly, do you need a ride home?" Cam asked her.

"No, thanks," she said. "It's not that far and it's a nice night, so I thought I'd walk."

"I'll walk with you, if that's all right," Jake said. Molly had moved into an apartment complex just about smack in the middle between his place and Cam's. He didn't like the idea of her walking alone at night.

Molly smiled, a little shyly. "That would be nice, thanks."

x-x-x-x

"So, what do you do?" Jake asked as they walked. It was a nice late summer night. The temperature had dropped slightly and the humidity was low. A slight breeze fanned through Molly's hair.

"Me?" Molly asked. "I'm, um, I'm a nurse." She managed not to say that it was a choice her family had not supported. It didn't seem fair to lay that on him when they'd only just met.

"No kidding?" Jake asked. "In a doctor's office or at the hospital?"

"The hospital," she said. "I'm scheduled to start in a couple of days. I've met everyone and they seem really nice but it's always weird when you start a new job and don't know many people and..." she sighed. "I'm sorry, I don't mean to go on like that."

"It's all right," he assured her. Barely realizing he was doing it, he rubbed her shoulder in reassurance. Molly hid a gasp at the touch. "I think that's great," he continued. "I don't think I could ever make it as a doctor or nurse. It takes a lot of dedication. You should be proud of yourself."

"Thanks." Molly felt warm inside and it was all she could do not to hug him. Those were the words she had wanted to hear from her parents and doubted she ever would.

They walked in silence for a little while. Jake pondered his own reaction to touching Molly. It had felt very natural, like a reflex when he touched her shoulder. He wanted to take her hand but wasn't sure if he should. It was confusing. He was on the rebound; he shouldn't be considering other women in any capacity other than friends, if only for their sakes.

Molly, though... something about her was getting to him. Molly was colorful, he thought. That had been his very first impression when she had spun through the office door. It wasn't that her clothes clashed, or that she wore garish colors or patterns. At dinner she'd worn a pair of dark purple slacks -- Maddy would have called them "plum," he was sure -- a blouse with a small print, and that pretty necklace.

I could use some color, he thought ruefully. Chelsea, he recalled, had usually dressed in dark, neutral colors. She had even started redecorating his apartment a little, adding lots of what he considered "blah spots." Tan throw pillows. Beige throw rugs. Nothing terrible, but then again, nothing special. His apartment, he realized, had begun to look like an Ikea display; attractive but devoid of personality.

Molly, on the other hand, was like a walking rainbow. Since Chelsea had left, he had let everything else fade while he concentrated on his feelings of betrayal. Maybe Cam was right. Maybe he needed to let it go and let things get brighter again.

"If you don't mind me asking," Molly said, "is something bothering you?" Jake looked at her blankly, still wrapped up in his own thoughts.

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