Used Ch. 05bynerd4music©
Author's Note: So, here is the long-awaited continuation of Used! I've decided for my sanity to split up the chapters. The final chapter is in the works as well as the third of Only You. Again, thanks for reading and continuing to bless my little stories with your kind words. You guys are kickass! Happy Reading, Sienna H.
She was flying down the highway in her pearl gray Highlander, the sounds of Keyshia Cole's Heaven Sent blaring through her speakers.
The music was so loud, she almost didn't hear her cell ringing.
Slipping on her Bluetooth headset, she pressed the answer key to her cell phone.
"What's up, Nora-poo?" she yelled.
"Jamie? Jay, turn down the damn radio!"
Giggling, Jamie did as she was told.
"Can you hear me now?"
Nora's high pitch laugh rang in Jamie's ear. "Yes, dumbass. I can hear you perfectly. How far away are you?"
"About twenty minutes away. I'm on 32 right now."
Nora squealed. "I can't wait to see you."
"Me either. It's been so long."
"Jay, it's only been two years."
She chuckled. "That's like a decade in the real world." There was a deeper chuckle in the background. "Is that Danny I hear?"
Nora let out a girlish giggle. "Yes, he's here waiting for you too. Hurry up!"
"Alright, already! I'll be there before you know it." She pressed the off button and sighed happily.
Two years. It had been two long years since she saw her best friend. Things just got in the way. Immediately after college she had gone to work at a major public relations firm in Manhattan. Her sister was so proud of her. She was a grunt and it was hard work, but it had promise, potential to move up the work ladder.
She had shared an apartment with a girl from work. Martha was nice enough, but she just wasn't Nora. Martha was more concerned with press releases and crisis communication plans than staying up late to eat ice cream or go out clubbing.
Though Jamie was good at her job, she just didn't love it. It disappointed her, staying in college, graduating with a degree only to discover it wasn't her passion. She had known from a very young age that her heart's desire was art.
Her father had discouraged it, calling it a fleeting fancy. It wasn't something concrete like journalism was. So she held off on her dream to pursue her father's in hopes that he could show her just once that he was proud of her. It didn't work out that way, however. He still criticized.
It was about seven months ago when she called the big 'Fuck It.'; fuck the job, fuck the apartment, and especially fuck Roger Kincaid. She left the apartment, moving into a small studio in the Village. She enrolled in a graphic design class at the local community college. But the biggest change was the job.
After talking to her boss about how unhappy she was working at the large firm, the woman actually understood. She referred Jamie to a friend of hers who was currently looking for someone with design skills to help him create webpages for arts and entertainment companies.
The company was relatively small, about twenty employees, but it was exactly what she needed. She could design at work and paint and sculpt at her leisure. When she told her sister Rina, she was initially shocked, but she stood by her decision.
Jamie reasoned that her sudden life upheaval was one of the reasons why she and Nora hadn't seen each other. They stayed in contact through the occasional email and odd phone call here and there. So to be able to visit Nora for a full week was pretty exciting. That is how she found herself on the road to Maryland to visit her best friend.
After college, Nora went to grad school and completed the master's program within a year for psychology. She was now working on her doctorate and was a guidance counselor at a private school. Danny worked as an architect in a high-end firm. They both lived together in relatively quiet Annapolis neighborhood.
She smiled at the thought of the two of them. They were such a shining example of true love. They had already begun to establish a life together while Jamie still struggled to pick up the pieces of her own. She was happy for them but also a tad bit jealous though she'd never admit to that aloud.
In no time at all, she arrived in the sunny tree lined neighborhood where Nora currently resided. Jamie shook her head. Nora would live in a place like this. It was just beautiful. Tall trees with crisp, verdant leaves outlined the picturesque houses with their quaint colonial structures. Children played happily on the sidewalk, the sounds of high-pitched laughter and sprinklers letting her know summertime in the 'burbs was here. She pulled a piece of paper with Nora's address scribbled on it out of her large bright yellow purse.
Her eyes darted this way and that, searching for the house number. 607, 607 she repeated in her head. After driving further down, she reached the moderately sized brick house. It was three-storied, with colonial columns that stood majestically on a large wraparound porch. Its dark green shutters added to the quaint feeling of the house. She parked her Highlander on the street next to the house and stepped quickly from the car.
As she walked up the cobblestone walkway, she smoothed down the wrinkles in the pale green sundress she was wearing. She walked up to the steps and rang the doorbell.
The door swung open immediately, as if the person on the other side was watching her come up the walk.
"JAY! Oh my gosh, it's so good to see you!" Nora Masters grabbed her best friend in a crushing hug and pulled her into the house.
"Nora, you're making it difficult to breathe" Jamie said, even as she squeezed Nora tightly.
"Shut up, I miss you." She let go of her friend and stepped back. "Let me get a good look at you." Jamie felt a little foolish when Nora twirled her around. "Man, you look awesome; so different."
Jamie had changed. She had lost a little bit of weight due from walking all those city blocks. She was still slightly curvy but with a helluva lot more tone to her body. Her once short black hair was longer now, curling softly around her brown shoulders.
"I don't look that bad do I?"
Nora shook her head. "Nonsense, you look fabulous."
Jamie smiled. "So do you." And she was right. Nora had this glow about her. Her wavy blond hair was now straightened, its length about the same as Jamie's. Her amber eyes were still happy and thoughtful. "Love agrees with you."
Nora's pale pink lips curled into a sly smile. "And speaking of my love, he's in the kitchen waiting for you." Grabbing Jamie's hand, she led her down the hallway into the large modern kitchen. It was tastefully decorated, in warm green and black appliances.
Danny Eisenberg's curly brown head was currently stuck in the refrigerator. He emerged when he heard them enter. "Jamie," he said grinning. "It's so good to have you here. He grey eyes twinkled as he embraced her warmly.
"Thanks Danny. I'm glad you guys let me crash at your place."
"No problem. We're just happy that you could take some time off."
"Yes, Jay. How's the new job going?" Nora reached into one of the dark hardwood cabinets and pulled out three wineglasses.
"Good. I think I'm finally where I'm supposed to be, you know?"
Danny nodded as he pulled out a bottle of zinfandel from the wine cooler. "I know that feeling. I shopped around with job after job until I found the right one for me. It seems like only my baby knew exactly what she wanted to do as soon as she left school." He smiled at Nora who grabbed the bottle from him and uncorked it smoothly.
Jamie couldn't help but notice they way they moved as if in unison, their movements flowing perfectly with one another. It was ridiculously cute. "Yeah, Nora knew she wanted to be a psychologist since birth. Always trying to help somebody."
Nora smirked when she passed Jamie the wineglass. "I was always there to help you out, Jay."
She couldn't help the warm smile that spread across her face. "Yeah, you did. That's why I love you."
The two friends clinked glasses. "I love you too, girl. That's why Danny and I have a surprise for you."
"Really? What is it?"
Danny and Nora stole secretive glances at one another. "Well, we know we promised we'd take you out and all that jazz around Maryland but..."
"But what? Don't tell me you guys have to work? That would totally suck if I have to keep myself company."
Nora's blonde head shook from side to side. "No, nothing like that. We were planning to show you around Annapolis but something else came up. Something like Danny's parents' beach house in Ocean City."
Jamie grinned. "You guys are taking me to the ocean?"
"Sure," Danny said. "That is, unless you want to stay here."
"No, no, no. We are going on a vacation. That's just freaking awesome."
Jamie yawned loudly. She and Nora had stayed up late drinking wine and giggling about days gone by. It had felt like just another night in their old college apartment.
She grinned as Danny and Nora sang along together with the song currently playing in the car. They were holding hands, looking so ridiculously in love it made her hurt.
You could have had that, her stupid conscience reminded her.
God not now, she thought. She had been too scared to ask Nora about Nate. She knew he had kept in contact with Danny over the years. It didn't seem right to ask about him. With all the upheaval in her life she really hadn't thought about him until she saw Nora.
Not true, her conscience whispered. Okay, so there was the occasional dream.
"You alive back there?" Danny called out to her from the driver's seat.
Jamie forced a small smile. "Sure," she said. "How much further?"
"We're almost there."
Nora turned in the passenger seat to face Jamie. "You're going to really like the Eisenberg's beach house. It's on a private beach, so there aren't any tourists poking around."
"Sweet," Jamie said. She lowered the window, anxious to smell the salty sea air.
Danny eyed Jamie through the mirror. "Oh, and a couple of my friends are going to stay with us too but it's a big house, so no worries."
"Hey, no problem Danny. I'm just looking to have a good time and relax."
Nodding his head, Danny pulled into the driveway of a spectacular beach house. "Well, this is definitely the place to do just that." He turned off the ignition.
Jamie practically jumped out the car, anxious to get a look at the place. It was breathtaking. The large, three story property was bleached white, the soft blue shutters the same color and the afternoon sky. The driveway was paved with sea shells and lined with beach plants.
Nora enveloped her in a giant hug. "Isn't this place amazing? Danny's parents are going to give it to us someday."
Jamie nodded. "It certainly is something." She pulled Nora to the door as Danny grabbed the bags from the car. "Come on, let's go explore."
They ran up the shell walkway, skirts flouncing behind them. Nora unlocked the door and pushed it aside. Right away they were hint with a strong scent of sea breeze. To Jamie, it smelled like vacation.
The entrance opened up to a quaint foyer. On the right was a decent sized living room. A large modern kitchen was at the end of a marble-tiled hallway. "Come on," Nora said, tugging her arm. "You just have to see the view."
The women walked down the hallway and into the kitchen where there were two large French doors that led out to a generous sized platform deck.
The ocean view was breathtaking. The sun sparkled on the blue water, the waves gently lapping at the sand.
"Wow," Jamie breathed. "This is amazing."
"I know." Nora pointed back inside. "Let's go and get changed."
Jamie still couldn't believe how beautiful the house was. When Nora showed her the room she was staying in, she was taken aback. It seriously was the size of her apartment back in the city.
The room was done in mute colors, all sea blues and misty greens. There was a small balcony that overlooked the sandy beach below.
My mother always said she wanted to see the ocean.
Jamie sighed. She needed to pay her Momma a visit. It had been quite some time, almost a month to be exact.
Opening her small suitcase, she picked out a dark orange bikini, which she quickly changed into. Jamie put on a long sleeved black gauze cover-up and orange flip-flops.
She stuffed her music player, a towel in her large yellow purse. Before she left, she grabbed her sunglasses, putting them on before closing her door.
Jamie silently padded down the hallway. When she reached the room where Danny and Nora were staying she heard the soft giggles and muffled moans. Shaking her head, she bounded down the steps and walked outside to the beach.
It was a glorious day outside. The sun was going to set soon. Jamie opened her bag and laid out her towel. Stepping out of her flip-flops, she removed her cover-up and sat down.
Jamie watched the ocean for a while, the quiet tossing of the waves washed a feeling of calm over her. Reaching for her mp3 player, she slipped the earbuds in. Before leaving the city she made a playlist called "The Seaside Soundtrack". It was a collection of songs perfect for the beach. It was weird; she made it before she even knew she was coming here.
"Ahh, fate" she said aloud. Staring out at the azure waters, she let the sounds of Sigur Ros perfect the mood. Hoppípolla was still one of her favorite songs.
Above her, Nora watched her friend sit quietly on the beach. She smiled when Danny came up from behind and wrapped his arms around her slender waist.
"Ready for round two?" he whispered.
Nora shook her head. "The others will be arriving soon. You'll just have to be a good boy and wait."
She looked down at Jamie; her best friend had changed. She seemed comfortable in her life. Comfortable, but not happy.
"You're worried about her, aren't you?"
Nora met Danny's grey eyes. "How did you get so intuitive?"
"I just know you, Nora. You can't help but care."
She sighed. "I know. I just want to help her. Do you think we did the right thing?"
Danny nodded fervently. "I believe so. I think it's been a long time coming."
"I hope you're right, honey. I hope you're right."
Jamie hadn't realized she dozed off until she felt sand sifting lightly on her stomach. She sat up sharply to see a cute chestnut-haired guy staring down at her.
"Jamie?" he asked.
"Do I know you?" he did look familiar. She knew she'd seen those green eyes somewhere before.
The guy smiled. "Of course you do. Matt Wilkins. From Colson. I was in ATO."
"Oh Matt!" she exclaimed. He held out his hand for her and she took it as he pulled her easily to her feet. "Yeah, I totally remember you. How have you been?"
"Not bad, not bad. Yourself?"
"Can't complain. Did you just get here?"
Matt shook his head. "About fifteen minutes ago. We've all been watching you to see how long you were planning on sleeping out here."
Jamie felt her cheeks flush. "Well, that's sufficiently odd of you." She picked up her black cover-up and slid her feet into the flip-flops.
Matt smiled. "You're still funny." He helped her pick up her stuff. "Come on, we're all getting ready to set up a fire on the beach and catch up."
"Which is code for get drunk and reminisce."
They both laughed. They were still smiling when they reached the wooden patio. Suddenly Jamie heard a voice that made her stop in her tracks.
That sexy Southern baritone. It can't be.
And that's when she saw him come out on the deck, his face blocked from view by a large cooler.
"Matt, you asshole! Stop talkin' to them girls on the beach and start helpin'..." His sentence trailed off as he set down the cooler and stood up to face Matt and her.
Jamie Kincaid. The woman who walked away from him two years ago, confused and angry.
This was Jamie, who he tried to forget but never could get out his mind.
His Jamie...who was never his to begin with.
The only thing heard was the waves slapping soundly against the shore. There were voices chattering in the kitchen, but all Nate could hear was the sound of his heart threatening to burst through his chest.
All at once he felt a wave of nausea hit. He hadn't expected her. What the hell was she doing here?
She looked good. Too damn good for his tastes. Her bikini was modest but ridiculously sexy, showcasing her luscious golden breasts, slender waist, tawny limbs; she was still hot as hell. Her dark hair was longer and he decided he liked it that way, hanging down by her shoulders. She was staring at him, her eyes cautious and hesitant.
Matt stood there, as if watching a riveting game of tennis.
Before Nate could open his mouth, Jamie spoke up. "I need...to not be here." She took her things from Matt and eased past Nate, careful not to let any part of her brush against him.
She practically broke into a run as she darted into the house.
"Wait," he called out but she was too far to hear him. "Shit," he muttered.
"Did you know she was going to be here?" Matt asked.
Nate shook his head. "It hadn't even crossed my mind."
"Are you going to leave?"
Nate thought about that one for a moment. "No. We can be civilized for a short amount of time."
Matt shot him a 'yeah right' look. "Whatever, dude. I'm going to go help with the food." He hopped up the steps and into the kitchen.
Nate exhaled. He was getting that weight of the world feeling again; he had worked hard to remove that burden. But seeing her again...he felt all at once light and heavy.
He would be a damn liar if he said he hadn't thought about her. It took him a week and a half and a long road trip to finally stop his hands from shaking every time he read that letter of hers.
She said I made her feel loved. And then she left.
When he returned home to Nashville, he threw himself into work. He had gotten a job with a major advertising company. He loved his job; it was fresh and exciting. Since day one, he knew that it was where he was supposed to be.
Life after Jamie Kincaid was finally starting to come together. He had a great job, a nice apartment, and was currently in the process of trying to buy a house.
Yes, all these things had kept his mind off the wild girl who, with one look used to have him aching with need. That is, of course until he saw her and all those familiar feelings came rushing back. He had a sudden desire to either kiss her or strangle her, he wasn't sure which.
"Dude, are you okay?" He turned to see Danny staring tentatively at him.
"You knew she was goin' to be here, didn't you?"
Danny nodded, not even concerned about lying to his friend. "I did." "I don't know why people can't stop meddlin' in things that ain't their concern..."
"Oh, come off it Nate!" Danny said. "You can't pretend like it's not good to see her."
"I didn't say that!" Nate hissed. "I just...it would have been nice if I was told is all."
"Right, so you could hide back in Nashville? Come on Harlow. You aren't fooling anyone."
Nate sighed. "It's just...I don't know if I can face her, man. I wouldn't even know what to say."
Danny slung an arm around his shoulder, leading him back to the house. "Just start with a 'hello'. The alcohol will take it from there. Speaking of, I'm going to need you to make a run."
Nate glared at Danny. "What am I, your beer bitch?"
Danny laughed. "Exactly. This ain't college anymore, Tex."
She slammed her bedroom door, her knees shaking. What the hell was he doing here, and why did he have to look so fucking delicious?
He looked the same, and yet somehow different. His blond hair was still close-cropped, his skin still nicely tan from the Tennessee sun. He was wearing khaki shorts and a soft blue t-shirt that matched his eyes.