Jackie has a heart to heart with Marissa, telling her to show Chase a little more affection. Jordan and Brian demonstrate how close they’ve become, virtually reading one anothers minds.
The men came in with a pitcher of fresh lemonade and glasses of ice. There were bowls with sliced strawberries and sprigs of mint.
“I’ve been wanting mint most of the day,” Heath admitted as he poured lemonade in the glasses. “But I sensed that you wanted strawberries, my love.” He handed Jackie a glass of lemonade with sliced berries in it.
“Perfect, I do. Jordan, what would you like?” Jackie raised an eyebrow, her eyes moving between her daughter and Brian.
“She wants mint,” Brian said.
Jordan’s eyes widened. “I do! And I know you want berries like Mom.”
Brian chuckled as he poured her lemonade, dropping three springs of mint into the glass before handing it to her.
Marissa’s face fell and she hid behind her hands. Chase sprang across the room, kneeling at her side. His hand caressed her pale blonde hair.
“Hey, no tears, Riss. I know—I know it’s not easy with me. I’m a dumb jock. I’m—I’m a pain in the ass, babe. I know that.”
The others drifted off, taking their lemonade with them. Jackie lingered in the doorway, watching the dynamic between them, nodding.
“I’m so sorry I’m such a jerk, Marissa. I don’t mean to push. I just—”
“I see how happy everyone else is. I want that, too, Chase. I don’t know how to get that for us.”
“Would you be happier—without me? With someone—not me?”
“Now you’re talking nonsense.”
“It’s just, Heath said that sometimes the Circle messes up. That we get one do over. One of us can leave the Circle and another mate is found.”
“You want to cast me aside for someone else?” Marissa’s tone changed as her temper rose.
“Dammit, Marissa, I’m not casting you aside! I’m giving you the opportunity to decide if you really want me. If you want to continue with the Circle, find another mate, I’ll bow out. I’ll do that for you, Riss. Because—ice crystals on my dick and all, I love you. I would die for you. But I need more from you. And I’m not talking about sex, cause God forbid I say anything of the sort!”
His temper rose, feeding off hers. Taking a deep breath, he put that old argument aside.
“What I’m saying is that I need a hug once in awhile. I need a kiss on your lips. I need to know you love me, Marissa. Because, if you don’t, I’m giving you the chance to change your mind. If I’m not the man for you, say so. I’ll step aside graciously.”
“If I do, that means you get a different woman,” she replied, angrily tight lipped. “Is that why you’re being so magnanimous? You’d get rid of me.”
“No!” Chase sobbed, collapsing at her feet. “No,” he whispered. “It means my heart would shatter. It means that I would fall to pieces. But I would give you this, Marissa Pennybaker. I would free you from our bond, if that’s what you want.”
“Well, I just don’t know,” she replied stiffly, her movements sharp and birdlike. “I will have to pray about this, Chase.” Her mouth worked, her lips tugging downward. “Is this what you want?” she squeaked, her voice high and girlish. She wouldn’t look at him, her hands working in the folds of her skirt.
“I’m on the floor, at your feet, Marissa. Does it look like this is what I want? It’s killing me,” he sobbed. “I’m dying and you don’t even care.”
Marissa burst into tears, pulling him to her. She kissed him on the mouth, holding his face in her hands. Her prim attitude shattered as she wept, hugging him tightly. Chase’s arms went tentatively around her, pulling her to him as he knelt at her feet.
“Dammit, I love you, Marissa. You make me angrier than a broke back snake, but I can’t live without you.”
“That’s the sweetest thing you ever said to me,” she whispered, running her fingers through his hair.
In the kitchen, Jackie smiled. Not all the issues were resolved, but they’d made their choice. She was glad, because she knew that this Circle, of them all, would face many challenges. They’d already been tested more in the last two years, than her Circle had since its birth.
Heath came in, pulling her close. “I guess what we said helped. Thank God. I hate to think where we’d be if they had to initiate two new members.”
“Their Circle would falter without Chase and Marissa. They stabilize it.”
He nodded, holding her close. “You scared the shit out of me with that fried food meal.”
Jackie giggled, giving him a kiss. “Sorry about that. I couldn’t resist. I have been craving it, but the girls think it might be Louisa.”
“I just thank God it’s not us. I love our kids, but I’m ready for it to be just us two. Miles and Maribelle are nuts to have Elise so late.”
© 2017 Dellani Oakes