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Get Used To It
It was a song that she had written a while ago, but it fit her thinking at the time and her memories now. So many guys in the clubs she had been playing at lately looked like him, but she knew with absolute certainty that they couldn’t be.
But what she didn't know was that he was watching her tonight. The one man that had left when she had needed him the most had left her to deal with things that he thought more important than his obvious feelings for her.
Jaynie's stomach flipped when she thought she saw a familiar glimpse of a seemingly identical stance of his, but she pushed that thought away. â€˜He couldn't be here,’ she thought. â€˜He would have called me first…. right?’
He watched her carefully, knowing that he was staring and yet not able to look away for even a second. His ocean blue eyes filled with unwanted, unshed tears as he and so many other strangers listened to her as she sang about him once again that night. It was obvious she was. And there was no mistaking the look in her beautiful eyes, eyes Cole that adored; the look was one that he saw only when she was lost in her music and in her thoughts.
She crooned softly to the crowd and forgot all about appearance. When she went backstage, she knew that she was going to get lectured about appearances and how she should have looked, the emotion that she shouldn’t have had showing on her face. But with the song list that they had assigned her, she couldn’t have done all of their demands. She couldn’t be indifferent or even happy when the songs that she was signed on to sing were all the ones she had written on the some of the worst days of her life. All she felt at that moment, all she lived for at that moment was her music. A tear slipped past her defenses, unnoticed by her, as she fell deeper into the chords she played.
And those eyes she sang about caught her attention again in the crowd, but she still shrugged it off. â€˜He wouldn’t show up without telling me first.’ It was the mantra that kept playing inside her head. Even as she kept repeating it, she couldn’t seem to make herself believe it. He hadn’t told you that he was standing you up on your first official date and leaving the country either,’ said the other voice in her head. â€˜He had never been known to be predictable.’ Both of the little facts that didn’t count in his favor.
â€˜That line she had just finished was a huge lie,’ they both thought at once. She wasn't over him, never would be, just as he would never be over her. They would never fully get over each other. They both knew that, both accepted that on some distant level.
The tears were starting to leak out by now and Jaynie tried desperately to hold the flood back. For now, she could win the fight. But not for very much longer. The words were shoving harder and harder against her unsteady defenses. She didn’t know how much more she would be able to keep enough control over her voice and keep it from cracking.
Memories flashed through their minds at the same time.
Jaynie driving his favorite car on her 16th birthday.
The kiss that came later that night after the disastrous party.
The song she’d written about that horrible, heartbreakingly memorable night.
Days of just messing around in the studio, acting like little kids.
Cole saw the first tear fall and run down her cheek, and it took all the restraint he had developed throughout his twenty-six years to keep from running up to her and taking her into his arms like he had longed to do for almost three months. Now, seeing her lose the fight to hold the rest of them back, he nearly sprinted towards the doors to the back of the small building to carry out his pre-set up plan. He would wait for her to come to get her guitar case and then.... Hopefully she would be willing to listen to him.
Jaynie quickly stood and walked briskly off the stage, even as the audience applauded her performance. She needed to get out of here, away from all of the people. She gasped at who she saw leaning against her personal dressing room door.
â€˜I'm going crazy,’ was the first thought that came to her mind, even as the damn holding her tears silently broke. â€˜I must be.’ She collapsed back against the wall behind her, a hand over her mouth to hold in the sobs that were now threatening to sound.
"Colton?" She hiccupped quietly as he moved slowly to stand in front of her. “Oh, God. Cole, is it really you?”
He nodded in affirmation and she silently wrapped her arms around his neck and held on with every ounce of strength that she had left in her small body. His arms went around her waist and he backed them both up into her dressing room, shutting out the people who had been staring at them.
“I’m so sorry,” he whispered into her hair. “I didn’t have a choice but to leave. She needed me.”
When Jaynie heard â€˜she’, her spine stiffened. She pulled away, her grey eyes sparking in the low-lighted room as her anger came to the surface and took over. “â€˜She,’ huh?” she asked, her voice cold. He actually had the nerve to smile at me just now, she thought, both surprised and angry.
Cole watched her stiffen, watched her face become stony and full of rage. He had expected it, had prepared himself for it. But his imagination had been nothing on the real thing.
“I can’t believe the nerve of you,” she forced out from between her gritted teeth. “Make me believe we had something and then go back to your woman. Do you think that I would be okay with being â€˜the other woman,’ Cole? Did you think that I would accept that I wouldn’t be your number one? Is that why you left? Because you came to the semi-smart conclusion that I would never be alright with that?”
As she ranted at him, venting her anger, her red hair swinging wildly as she paced around the room, yelling loudly at him in her normally soft voice, a pair of green eyes peeked over the top of the small love seat in the room. They watched her, grateful to finally be able to put a face to the woman that had taken up so much of Cole’s time while he hadn’t been home.
The woman before her was beautiful in her own way. Her pixie-like nose was just a little crooked in the middle, like she had broken it once before. Her grey eyes were fiery and slightly happy, furious and glad, all at the same time, and she wondered how so many emotions could be visible in such little eyes.
Finally, Cole grabbed her arms and turned her to face him, clamping a hand over her mouth at the last second. “Stop,” was all he said. She did, appalled that he would still order her around. And he was laughing at her at the same time. The curses she hurled at him were fortunately muffled behind his hand. If they hadn’t been, he would be answering questions later in the night that shouldn’t be asked until years in the future.
“Jaynie, will you just give me a minute?” he asked. When she reluctantly stopped moving, he reverently slid his hand from her lips down her arm to her tightly clenched fist. “I’ve wanted to introduce the two of you for almost a year now, actually. She’s the reason that I’ve been taking so many long weekends. Kacey, come out here, darling.”
Straightening her spine as her Grandmamma had always told her to, she left her crouched spot behind the love seat.
Jaynie could only stare.
She was gorgeous. Her hair fell in black ringlets all the way down to her tiny waist, and thin strands of bright red showed themselves off boldly. The clothes she wore made it feel like Jaynie was looking in a mirror. Their outfits were exactly the same, all the way down to the punk way she had had her make-up done that afternoon, right before the performance. The heart shaped earrings in her ears were the same, just a size smaller, as the ones that Jaynie had put in could have been a bracelet for her.
All of the little details seemed to slap her in the face. The one that surprised her the most was her height. The little girl only stood at about four and a half feet tall. Jaynie, even without high heels, easily hit five and a half.
“Do you understand now, Jay?” Cole asked from her side, having not let go of her as she had studied the pre-teenage girl. Gently he turned her to look at him again. “Do you understand why I had no choice but to leave? I had to go get her and deal with all the legal junk that comes with adopting a younger kid.”
A knock on the door prevented Jaynie from saying anything, and the head that poked in was a welcome one. “Hey, Kacey! Do you want to have your nails painted while you’re here?” Jaynie’s make-up artist asked the teenager, showing off her own shining manicure. “She’s one of the best at what she does.”
Kacey didn’t even wait to get Cole’s permission before she bolted to the door. Left alone, Jaynie and Cole turned the focus back to each other.
“My adopted sister and her husband were killed in a plane crash the weekend I left. Word was sent back to me, as I was her only other guardian. I wasn’t even supposed to stop in and tell you that I was leaving; I almost missed the flight because I did. But I couldn’t leave you to wonder what had happened,” he explained quietly, stroking a strand of her hair. “She’s only my niece, Jay. Nothing else.”
Slowly lowering her head onto his ever-steady, always-there shoulder, Jaynie took her time letting all of the information sink-in. When she was sure that she had processed it all, she looked back up at him. “So you left so suddenly because of her? There was no one else? There was no other horrible reason, like you changed your mind and couldn’t stand to be with me?”
She squeaked shrilly when he suddenly crushed her to him tighter than before, burying his face in her vanilla scented hair. “No!” The declaration came out a mere whisper of a breath, and yet affected her the same way it would have if he would have screamed it.
“No, no, no! How could you think anything like that?” he demanded, brushing firm kisses all over the pale skin that he could reach. “My mind won’t ever change about you. You’re mine, so you had better get used to it. Okay?” The last word he added with such nervousness and uncertainty that she could only laugh and lightly kiss his lips.
“Of course,” she reassured him, closing her eyes. “Just remember that the same goes for you. You won’t ever be able to get rid of me now.”