Chapter 19 : Perfect <3
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With her breathing softly against his chest, Jase was reminded of the time and the level of exhaustion that Allie must be at right now. She had danced with her friends, with him, with Chase and Andy, and even Alec during the course of the evening. She’d looked like she was having such a good time that Jase couldn’t bring himself, not once, to break her from that to talk about what had been weighing on his mind since seeing her walk down the stairs towards him three hours earlier.
She’d been glowing. Illuminated by the flickering flames from the torches on the stone walls she seemed to light up and float down to him. He’d handed her the rose and seen the beautiful pink wash her cheeks, and then watched as she shared special glances with each one of her friends. There was something in those looks that told Jase he’d been right not to invite her officially, and he’d also been right the entire time. He'd just been a fool and ignored it.
Allie was perfect, in every way. Jase couldn’t find a single flaw in her person, not now, not ever. She’d always been the caring and concerned friend when he had crawled back to her after his latest horrific breakup. She’d always been the joy of each school year with their late-night Chip Pit rituals and she was the best person to talk to about anything whether it was school, Quidditch or whatever. He’d seen it all. He’d registered his feelings as love for her. But rather than tell her and risk everything they had ever had, he’d kept the friendship safe, and as Jase saw now, he’d also kept it distant.
He couldn’t hold off any longer. If he did he was guaranteed to explode with thought and feeling and then he might never get it out right. His gaze settled on the girl in his arms swaying naturally to the music as he turned them gently on the dance floor, hearing her soft snores, and he knew she’d fallen asleep. Now as much as he hated to wake her, he desperately needed to.
“Allie,” he whispered into her hair.
“Hmm,” was her only response. She shifted her head from one side to another, perfectly content with sleeping there on his chest.
He sighed heavily knowing that he was perfectly content with that too, but the Great Hall wasn’t the best place to spend the night. With his arms around her he gently shook her awake, “Allie, time to wake up.”
“Five more minutes,” she mumbled, prompting a light chuckle from him. The shaking of his chest must have jostled her however, and she popped one eye open and then the other. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she slurred, “I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I did this all wrong, didn’t I?”
“Did what all wrong?” Jase asked cupping her chin.
“Tonight,” she answered.
Jase shook his head, “Tonight was wonderful.”
“But I had things to say, to you.”
“I have things to say as well, to you.” He hooked his arm over her shoulder to keep her standing, and close. “Allow me to walk you back to your dorm, my lady, and perhaps we can still talk.”
This seemed to cheer her up quite a bit because she nodded with a little more enthusiasm than the half-asleep Allie she’d been two seconds ago. They climbed the first staircase with a little difficulty, but then the long empty corridor stretched out in front of them to allow for more steady footing, on Allie’s part at least. Jase was tired, but not as much as Allie seemed to be.
So Jase began to say what he needed to get out. It was now or never. Either that or it was no time like the present. “Allie, about what you said.”
“What’d I say?”
“About how you love me.”
“Did you mean it?”
“Yes.” She replied softly. Her eyes were on the floor.
“Did you also mean the part about loving me for the past two years?”
She nodded her head once. “Yes.”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
She looked straight ahead. “At first, I don’t think I could. I thought maybe it was some kind of lustful feeling toward you as a reaction to your waking me up on the Quidditch pitch that day. You remember when I’d fallen off my broomstick? That was the day it all started.”
“I remember that day. I thought I’d die of a heart attack if you didn’t open your eyes soon.” He confessed. There was no use hiding now, not with where he was planning to go on the horizon. “The Bludger had knocked you hard on the back of the head and when I saw you fall I think my heart stopped.”
“Well…when I opened my eyes, you were there already calling my name. It was like a lightening bolt to the heart. My systems jump-started and I could only call it love. I didn’t think it would last though.”
She looked over at him with a calm face. “I was fourteen. And despite my adoration to you at the time, I didn’t think I could find that kind of thing at such a young age. I thought it would be something fleeting; a shooting star across the heavens.”
They mounted another staircase, his arm still clasped tightly around her side. She was stumbling less, more awake now, and he was grateful for that. It meant she would remember everything that had been and was going to be said tonight.
Jase was silent for a while, and before he could figure out something to say to her, she’d asked him a question. “Why Nikki, Jase?” It was one of those questions he hadn't wanted to hear; still he couldn’t refuse her an answer.
“She was beautiful and she made me laugh. I guess you could say she convinced me that I was in love with her. I was happy with her, for a time at least. I saw the hole she was creating in my life though after she’d pushed you away at Christmas. I was an ignorant asshole, and I will regret pushing you away forever.”
She sighed softly. “Was it because she was sexy?” Her voice was little more than a whisper.
Jase stopped in his tracks. Sexy? The word resounded in his brain as he processed her question. He looked down at Allie. Her head was bowed slightly, her shoulders hunched, and her hands holding her stomach. She was turned in on herself, a hard outer shell up to protect her from his answer. Then it dawned on Jase; she didn’t think she was sexy. She thought that that was the reason he’d never told her he loved her.
He let go of her shoulder and gripped her upper arms gently. With one hand he brought her chin up, forcing her to look at him. “Is that it, Allie? You don’t think you’re sexy?”
She shook her head.
Jase gaped at her. “What? Have you looked at yourself tonight?”
She shook her head again. He would think she was joking if it were not for the solemn look of truth stamped in her eyes. She wasn’t joking.
“Why not?” Jase exclaimed.
Her cheeks blushed the irresistible rose-colour that Jase loved. “The girls wouldn’t let me.”
He raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Really?”
She nodded. “They thought I would fuss over my image too much. So much so that they feared I would find some excuse not to go down. They hid every mirror in the dorm room, even stealing the one off the bathroom wall.”
Jase couldn’t help but laugh. He found it so amusing. Allie continued to blush but her eyes sparkled. “Allie,” he said after he finally stopped laughing, “you have no idea how sexy you are sometimes.”
A brief smile passed over her lips. But then a frown appeared. Then she shook her head. “You’re probably just being nice.”
Jase blinked. It had never been this hard before to convince a girl she was sexy. Mostly because Jase had always dated self-confident women who knew and usually abused their sexiness, and he’d never had to do much convincing before. He could only think of one thing to do.
He leaned in to her, cupping her cheek again and bringing his head down to meet hers. At the corner of her mouth, a place he’d wanted to kiss for so long, he whispered, “You are sexy.” He smiled as he felt her heartbeat quicken and her breathing go from steady to uneven. He planted the sweetest kiss he could produce on her delicate lips and waited. It wasn’t like kissing a best friend as some might have thought. It was like finding something you’d been missing for years. It was like matching up the last piece of a puzzle with the entire picture.
Kissing him was everything I had imagined and more. There was a sweet honey-taste that rocked me to my very core, not to mention the blown-away, breathless feeling I was experiencing. Shivers ran up and down my spine and I had to grip onto his jacket to prevent myself from falling over. I was swept away.
I didn’t want to open my eyes when our kiss finally broke. His lips pecked my cheek before I could hear the smile in his voice when he said, “Do you believe me now?”
His smile made me smile and I nodded my head, still refusing to open my eyes. “I believe you.”
He nuzzled his face into the side of my head and I threw my arms up around his neck and hung on for dear life. I could feel him pick me up by my middle and swing me around. Now I was really flying. It was the best feeling in the world.
My feet felt solid ground once more and both his hands found my face. “Open your eyes and look at me, please. I need you to see me for this.”
I blinked my eyes open and he was right there, where he’d always been. Except this time he was mine. “For what?” I breathed out.
He smiled. “I love you,” he said. All airflow to my lungs ceased and I was left in a perfect state of shock, mouth hanging open and everything. Jase laughed before grabbing hold of me around the middle again and saying in my ear, “For that.”
I swallowed several times before finding my voice. “You love me?” Sure I’d found my voice, but it still cracked when I tried to speak.
“Of course I do.” He pulled back to look at me. “How could I not? It was always there Allie. I’m so sorry I didn’t see it long before this. I could have saved you so much trouble, what with Nikki and Brad and the months we didn’t speak. I could have saved you all of that if I had only told you sooner. If I had only figured out it was worth it.”
“How long?” I managed to squeak out.
“Christmas was when I figured it all out. But I’ve loved you for years. You’ve always been there for me. You’ve always loved me. And I’ve always loved you. I just could never see it.”
My face grew solemn. He could never see it. I wondered why? “Was if because of the books I was buried behind?” I said quietly.
He laughed softly before kissing me briefly on the mouth again. It felt like a touch from heaven. “No. You’re books and your love of books is probably my favorite part of who you are.”
Surprise took me. “Really? Why?”
He shook his head. “You’re a storyteller, Allie. You always have been. The best parts about you are when you’ve been reading and feel the need to tell the same story to everyone else. You have a burning need, a never-ending fire within you, and a passion for those stories. It’s something unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. It’s beautiful.”
It’s sexy, I thought. I hadn't ever heard anyone say it to me like Jase had just then. It fit perfectly. I’d also said it all out loud because he was chuckling at me again. “Yes, Allie, it’s sexy.”
I blushed hotly. I swear there were too many feelings inside me at the moment I almost felt like I was going to explode. Jase loved me. He’d said it. He’d loved me for years. He’d said that too. He thought I was sexy. It was hard to believe after the supermodel-material girls he’d been dating, but he looked sincere. “You really think I’m sexy?”
He laughed again, his smile lighting up his entire face. He pulled me into his arms and swung me around again. “Yes, you crazy girl, your books, your hair any style, your contacts or glasses, you are very sexy.”
I could feel it. The unbridled and wild bliss that welled up from my toes all the way up to my head filled me completely. I was fit to burst right there in the arms of the boy I loved. Nothing had changed and yet everything had changed. Jase was still my best friend. But he was also a best friend who loved me as I loved him. Oh, and he thought I was sexy, did I mention that? I felt like screaming for joy but instead I just clung to him with a huge smile on my face.
I’d been so scared of tonight. So scared of his rejection, of the painful ending that might come to my dream, but it never came. I was loved. I was happy. I didn’t have anything to worry about. I wondered now what I had been so afraid of. What was there to find out that I didn’t already know? Somehow I had always known. Friend or no friend, boyfriend or not, Jase had always loved me. And now I knew for certainty, he always would. Funny how some things turned out, eh?
“Allie, look over here.” I looked. “Say cheese!” I said cheese.
“Oh how embarrassing,” I exclaimed as I buried my head in my hands.
“Hey now, none of that,” Jase said to me. “You look fine. Better than fine; you look beautiful.”
I leaned over kissing him briefly on the lips, “Liar.”
The demon with the camera who was currently wearing a short pink and frilly skirt came to sit beside me. “Don’t be such a party pooper,” Vic said. “It’s your birthday, and we, as your friends, have the right to exploit you to any extent we wish.”
“Oh yeah, even if it includes the feather boa, oversized clown glasses and party hat?” I asked.
Vic nodded, “Especially when the birthday girl is wearing a feather boa, oversized clown glasses and party hat. That’s what makes it so much fun.”
I shook my head. “Uh-huh.” I took off the items in question and set them aside.
Melody danced into the room. “Present time! Come on, time to open presents.”
“She got my something exploitive, no doubt,” I whispered to Jase.
His draped his arm over my shoulders, “She got you two books written by Allen Barker.”
“What did he tell you?” Melody accused.
“Nothing,” I replied innocently. “Give me your present first Melody. I want to see what you’re so excited to give me.”
She handed me the brightly wrapped package that had the same weight and feel of two books. Sure enough as I tore the wrapping away, Allen Barker’s name bounced off the cover at me. Evil and Shadow, and A Light in the Dark. Inside the first cover was the card she’d given me. Inside was written: “To contemplate and commemorate the year you kicked butt!” Both books were philosophical action books that, as the titles dictated, reflected on the choices made and the obstacles one overcomes to end triumphant. “Thanks, Melody!” I jumped up and hugged her before sitting back down.
“No worries. I told ya they were coming.”
“So you did. Who’s next?”
Gigi stepped forward, “Starr and I pooled our cash so this gift comes from the both of us.”
The box she held was huge…and there were holes in it. When she set it down on my lap I stuck my eye up to one of the holes on the side of the box and a little pink tongue popped out trying to lick me. “Oh my goodness!” I ripped the paper and opened the box to reveal a small golden retriever puppy. “OH MY GOODNESS!!!” I repeated at a higher octave. Lifting the puppy out of the box and holding him close to me he started to lick me again. I laughed as he scrambled around in my lap. “Starr, Gigi, he’s adorable. Thank you so much!”
Starr smiled, “We thought you’d like him. Oh and we also have this for you.” She handed me a small box. Or she tried to. My hands were full with the excited puppy so she handed it to Jase.
“It’s a collar and tags.” He held them up for me to see.
I read the small inscription on the tag. “You named him Slurpie!” I laughed.
Gigi shrugged, “It seemed appropriate.” He licked my face again.
“Yeah, it’s perfect!”
“Me next!” Victoire jumped up. I placed Slurpie on Jase’s lap and took the package from Victoire’s outstretch hands. “I really hope you like it.”
I smiled, “I’m sure I will Vic.” I took the package she held out for me. It weighed a lot. I curiously tore at the beautifully wrapped paper and let out a gasp when the present inside was finally revealed.
It was a white and gold, leather-bound notebook, with gold trimmed ivory pages, laid-in gold filigree decorations on the front and back, with an ivory-coloured quill that had gold-tipped feather strands. In a word, it was magnificent. “Oh Vic, it’s beautiful.”
“Good.” She clapped her hands eagerly. “I so hoped you’d like it. But you have to promise me to write in it. I know it’s beautiful, but it has a purpose. Promise to write in it?”
“Of course, yes.” For a minute I couldn’t fathom writing in such an exquisitely made notebook, but answered her nonetheless. “What should I write in it?”
“Stories, poems, whatever,” Vic replied. “It’s your book so you should decide. Personally I think you should write stories, like a novel or something, but it is your gift, so you do with it what you will.”
I brushed my hand over the leather and smiled. I didn’t want to, but I set it aside and stood to give Vic a hug. “Thank you, I love it.”
I let her go and then looked around at the others in the room. Alec, Andy, Chase and Teddy were also there. “Who’s next?” I asked, looking at them.
“Allie,” Alec started, “We’re all really sorry, but we didn’t find out about this party until yesterday.”
“Which means it was too late to get you anything,” Andy continued.
“Mostly that’s due to our wonderful girlfriends who didn’t see fit to mention these things to their boyfriends,” Chase said.
“But because we’re such stand-up guys,” Teddy concluded as he reached around his chair to grab at something, “we figured we’d outshine all of them and get you something totally awesome!”
I laughed as he plopped the package down on the stool in the middle of our little circle. “What is it?” I asked curiously.
“Dunno,” Chase shrugged his shoulders, “You’re just going to have to open it and find out.”
I knelt down beside the stool and rather large and flat gift. I worked meticulously trying to get the beautiful paper off in one piece. When I had finally gotten every piece of tape, I lifted the paper off. Inside a very large frame was a map. It wasn’t a very old map, but it was very big. “Wow,” I said. “This is great.”
Andy’s chest puffed up. “Thanks. We figured it was better than if we rolled it up and gave it to you.”
“Definitely,” I laughed. “Thanks you.” I gave each of them a hug in turn before returning to sit beside Jase. “Thanks ever so much you guys. All the presents were great.”
“Hey,” Jase said from beside me, “forgetting someone?”
“Oh sorry,” I said sincerely, for having actually forgotten he was there. He’d been busy with Slurpie in his lap.
“You’d better be. Forgetting your best friend is one thing, but your boyfriend is totally different. I do in fact have something for you, but now I don’t think I’ll give it to you.” He turned up his nose in a huff.
He was just teasing. I could tell, so I leaned forward, gave him my best puppy-dog face and said, “Pwease could I have my pwesent?”
He looked at me and laughed. “You’re ridiculous. Somebody take this slobber-puss.” He handed off Slurpie to Melody before taking out a small box from his pocket. “For you,” he said. The box wasn’t wrapped. He just popped it open. Sitting on a bed of black velvet sat a silver-tone necklace. The pendant on the necklace was an open book and on one side of the book was a heart with three diamonds lining the edge.
My hand came up to my mouth in surprise. “Oh Jase, it’s gorgeous.”
He smiled, “Consider it a sort of double gift for the one I missed at Christmas.”
“Yes,” I replied coming in to give him a kiss. After the kiss I turned and asked, “Help me put it on.” He set the silver chain around my neck with the pendant resting right in the middle of my chest.
His arms slipped around my waist and he hugged me close as he whispered in my ear, “Very sexy.” A flash blinded me as Vic took another picture with her camera. I’d beg her for that picture later. I wanted a copy.
“Okay everybody,” she chimed, “I want a group picture. Gather around Jase and Allie.”
With minimal grumbling everyone crowded Jase and I. Victoire set the camera on the hearth and set the timer before she jumped in.
“Everyone say ‘bookworm’,” she laughed.
That produced more fits of laughter as we echoed ‘bookworm’ and the flash went off.
“Oh, I had my eyes closed,” Melody whined, “Let’s take it again!”
We all laughed at her and positioned ourselves in a circle again, settling in for a long and happy night, together.
Wait! Wait a minute, don't you want to know what happened to Nikki?
Well, Nikki did exactly what we predicted. She went back to Australia, tail between her legs, postage stamp on her ass beside the boot mark. I guess what she saw at the dance didn’t suit her fragile sensibilities. She went berserk; her and her two black eyes and broken nose had a little shit fit and packed their bags that night.
I don’t know if she learned her lesson. I’d like to hope she did, but then again I couldn’t care less what she did or did not feel. She was gone and that’s all that matters. She is out of my life and Jase’s life. I pray for those unwitting victims of her next pernicious scheme. Hopefully they have best friends who will talk them out of it long before anything truly awful happens.
But enough about the infamous Nicole Delarouso. She is ancient history as far as I’m concerned. Right now I want to focus on the future. My future. With Jase.
A/N: Well there you have it. The end. I might do a sequel but I'm gonna have to pull out all the stops for that one. You never know though. I'll keep ya posted.
I’d like to extent a special thank you to all my wonderful reviewers who loved Allie and Jase, desperately hated Nikki and Brad, and who stuck with me until the very end. Special thanks go to desibookworm, WickedWand and bfflsfred for reviewing for almost every chapter. You rock my world. Thanks a million to all my other readers who have gotten me through to this very moment.
Coming soon: Sequels to this magical story are coming soon. The one I have just started writing is called Dramatically Sexy. It focuses on Melody's love life this time. Each of the succeeding stories will be from the friends' point of view who were all involved with this story. I'll be posting a teaser chapter soon so you can get a little taste. I really hope you like it as much as you loved this story.
So leave a review, as always, and I hope you enjoyed reading. ~K :D
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