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The Centre: Jarod’s Apartment
“Oh man, I was just ready to go home too.” Broots went in with the extra security key clearance Sydney gave him. You know, so Sydney could rest and he could drag himself into the lower levels at almost midnight. He turned on the lights and looked around. White seat. Yeah, there was a white armchair. He scooted it back but saw nothing. “Maybe it’s caught underneath.” He flipped the chair over and saw something. It was caught a little on it’s side. He pulled it away, put the chair back down and looked at it.
What was he looking at? “It’s pretty.” Almost like fused metals. Oh yeah, it was fused metals. Broots grabbed his phone and called Sydney. At least he stayed by his phone. “Yeah, I found something. I could see how The Centre missed it. Nothing really significant.”
“What is it, Broots?”
“It’s weird. Different metals look like they’ve been fused together,” Broots said, moving it around in his hand. “It’s like? Not a washer. Pretty smooth. He held it in his palm. “Pretty metals actually, some of these look downright.” Ornamental? Broots looked at it in a different way now. He placed it on his smallest finger and turned it around. “Sydney. Um? Why did I need to find something under the white chair?” Oh. Okay. “Sydney? I, uh? I really think you should come down and see this. I-I know it’s late but you should come see this.”
Broots waited for twenty minutes for Sydney to open the door. He held it out to him, in the way it should have been presented. “I think? He did the best with what he had.” Sydney rushed to take it. He examined it just like Broots did.
“My God, this would have taken time Jarod wouldn’t have wanted to waste away. He had no reason to make such a ridiculous thing unless?” Sydney looked at Broots. “Unless.”
Jarod hung out at the edge of the hotel room, not wanting to miss the call. He couldn’t go to sleep. She had lost something and it was in his apartment. Something that could explain the missing three weeks. Then he heard his phone. He answered in on the first ring. “What was it?”
“Jarod.” Sydney sounded strange. “Broots found something you made. I fear this is not going to have good repercussions on you.”
“I don’t care,” Jarod said. “They stopped my heart and I have to deal with that. What could be worse? What is it? Tell me.”
Sydney took a deep breath. “It is a ring forged of metals that were in your room or from your sims in October. They tend to be very delicate. Polished. Ornamental, Jarod.”
“Ornamental?” Jarod asked. “What was it?”
“Marriage ring or engagement ring perhaps?”
Uh? “Engagement ring? You sure, Sydney?”
“Is that the first thing that gets shouted? Ugh. Can you just not be surprised?” She answered from the bed. “Okay, alright, Jarod. You win. As usual. If I don’t, you’re going to go down the wrong way of thinking.” She groaned. “We were friends. Very close friends. But, each of us felt more. I was scared to pursue anything after Alex, or what he did to Faith. I didn’t want that again. You didn’t want to be seen as anything even close to him. So, we went right on being friends. Until you made the first move. You gave me a ring you had been working on.” She held her finger up quickly before he could say anything. “Not a wedding ring or an engagement ring.” She lowered her finger. “You made it for me so I would never forget you. I promised I wouldn’t. You put it on my finger, and took the moment to steal a small kiss.”
“Oh?” Jarod smirked with a small ‘ha’. “Boyfriend gift.”
“Yeah, a boyfriend gift,” she said. “Day nineteen. Two days left.” She shrugged. “We made the best of every minute afterwards.” She looked at Oliver. “I knew about protection. I told you about it. You did your genius scheduling magic, figured out it was a terrible time to be risky. We worked around it, but . . . we couldn’t do it. Never knowing if we’d even see each other ever again. Knowing there’s no guarantee of what tomorrow brings at The Centre. Nature took over. After that though, doubt settled in.” She took a deep breath. “And you warned me, if anything happened. If it was a boy it needed to be named Oliver. If it was a girl, it needed to be named Marina.”
“Oliver sounds like I love her.” Jarod barely hung up the phone before he went to the bed. Oliver wasn’t an accident due to them being put together or him not knowing anything. It really was in his name.
“Yes, and Marina sounds like ‘my ring’. Could you get more literal?” she teased him. “But no, Jarod, couldn’t just wait ‘til morning even, could you?”
His face lit up as he bit his lip slightly. “I be-caaaame your boooy-friennnnd.”
“Why are you saaa-ying that with such enthuuu-siasm? You don’t even remember.”
“Don’t need to.” No more diving into her psyche, wondering about the three weeks or anything. He got it. “Mister Parker wasn’t happy about the new bedmate, but he was waaaay more aggravated by your Pretender boyfriend giving you a pretty ring.” He grabbed her hand and interweaved hers with his. He looked down at Oliver between them. “He knew we made a connection, a deep one he didn’t allow, and if I ever found a way to run away?”
“You’d find a way to take me with you, of course. You said that when you gave me the ring.”
“Yep, and whenever someone tries to take away his precious daughter.” Now excitement was turning into anger. She was mine. Not just by an accidental pregnancy. By a ring. By love. So what does he do? Blame his own brother Raines? Oh no, no. Put him in more dangerous circumstances. A death simulation. Damen. He probably delighted in it! And, as soon as Jarod broke free? He took her so I couldn’t!
“Jarod? Are you okay?” She asked. “You don’t look happy anymore. What’s wrong?”
“He’s lucky he’s dead.” His heart ached. Six years. Mister Parker tore his own daughter apart to go after him, just to twist that knife. He held her hand so tight, and looked between her and Oliver.
“Nuh uh.” She sat up. “Don’t. You don’t know how long the good will last, don’t waste it on the bad feelings. They don’t deserve to tear you up, Boy Genius.”
Sitting up was it. He couldn’t take it anymore. He reached over and drug the top half of her to him, kissing her for all he was worth. The good feelings were never a waste and he was in short supply.
Her touch. Her taste. It was easy and right. A short time on Carthis was all he needed to invigorate that feeling. It was why she kept saying ‘just wait’. Their connection was so in tune to each other that-
“Are you ever going to go to sleep?”
Jarod stopped kissing her and realized he dragged her down right beneath him. Or she dragged herself beneath them. Either way, they were both getting eyed by one grumpy five year old. “Eventually.”
Oliver sat up in the bed and massaged his ear. “Why are you on top of my Mom, kissing her Dad?”
Oh. Now he was using the word Dad. “Checking for . . . bad breath?” He felt himself playfully getting hit and started to laugh himself. He pulled her up, and gave her one last kiss before letting her go on the other side of Oliver. “I got one more phone call to make. I’ll be back. I won’t wake you up any more.”
“Good ‘cause I need rest,” Oliver said. “Who knows what’s going to happen out there tomorrow! Got to enjoy it while it lasts.”
“Yeah.” He stroked his hair like he saw Miss Parker do earlier that day. “Get some rest.” He looked back at her. “The guy you want to drive out to the middle of nowhere, shoot in the head, set the car on fire of and finish off with a cliff? Found your ring.” He gave her a quick kiss on the forehead. “I’m going to call to arrange to get it back. Tomorrow.”
“You don’t have to get it tomorrow,” she said. “I know you want to have fun tomorrow with Oliver.”
“Nah. I’m not going another day without getting that ring back first. Besides, I can do both.”
He left back to outside so he wouldn’t bother Oliver. He dialed Sydney. “Sydney? I need that ring back.”
“What is it, Jarod?” Sydney asked. “I’m sorry if my lack of preparing you for real women resulted in you misunderstand marriage or commitment or-“
“Nope, not that,” Jarod said with a pinch of excitement. “I made it for my girlfriend. Miss Parker was my girlfriend.” No. “Miss Parker is my girlfriend.” That’s better. “I need her ring back.”
“Are you sure, Jarod?” Sydney didn’t sound as convinced. “What about Oliver?”
“We were friends for nineteen days, Sydney. We shared everything as friends. I shared things with her I never shared with anyone before. I tried to not become romantically involved because of what happened with Alex. It didn’t matter.” He leaned against the hotel wall. “We never could stop those feelings.”
“I. Jarod? Those feelings might not be quite the same still. She did chase you in The Centre.”
“Yeah, I know it’s strange, but they are. I almost kissed her on the isle off Scotland. That little bit of time, just us?” He smiled. “Almost. Just a small bit.” He shrugged. “Just made out with her in the bed a few minutes ago. Way better there. Good thing Oliver’s here!” He laughed. “Probably be making a Marina.”
“Nothing, Sydney.” Ah, he couldn’t darken his mood for anything. “Anyhow, it wasn’t any ‘boy girl trapped with knowing nothing’ situation. I knew the risks. So did she. Oliver’s here.” Yeah. “I’ll call you tomorrow to meet somewhere to get that ring. It belongs on her finger.”
“Well?” Sydney sounded happy too. Jarod’s voice and feelings must have been coming through the call. “I’m glad your happy, Jarod. Is she better now?”
“Almost. She’s got everything. She’s got more than me,” he said a little jealously. “The chasing years as my Hunter. Those are on the horizon. I need to make sure that I . . . I show her as much as possible how much she belongs here with me. I want her with me, Sydney. Her and Oliver. If anyone tries anything, she can and will get out, and she’d take anyone down in the process.” He chuckled. “My girlfriend doesn’t pull punches. I really like that word for her.”
“I can tell. Well? I can honestly say I did not see this coming. Not from the one that pursued you the most.”
“Yeah. Oooh, her Daddy wasn’t happy with me. He sent her in just because of what happened. It doesn’t matter though, I’ll make her see that. I have to. I will. When it all hits?” He looked up at the sky. “I want her to feel like nothing’s changed. I don’t want her to want to leave with my dad with Oliver because of the past or the hurt. We hurt each other when I was running. I know we did, but we reached a turn. I just need a little more on the turn. To change that ending, I need a bigger turn. I want them both here with me.”
“Jarod. I wish you luck with all my heart that you find your happiness then.”
“I already found it,” Jarod said. “I just need it to stay with me.” He hung up and went back inside. Yeah. Past bedtime. He crawled in on the other side of the bed. She was resting now along with Oliver. He stroked her hair the same way he did for Oliver. He was rewarded with a groan but she held his hand. He closed his eyes, but kept wanting to keep them open.
Three weeks of just sharing. Hearing her side of it all. Finding out how much she knew about him. Oh, he wanted that so bad. He could start though. Tomorrow.
“We’ll be here tomorrow when you wake up,” she muttered half asleep. “Get some rest, Jarod.”
Right. They would be.
For now. But how would she feel when she remembered the true days of Miss Parker?