One of my favorite moments between Jack and Stephanie was right before their first kiss. So much of Stephanie’s life had been about failure and her own inability to believe she was worthy of passion and romance and love. She verbalized her fears to Jack and figured he would agree, when he did the opposite. He didn’t want her to think and analyse anymore. He simply wanted her to feel…
Stephanie felt his face close to hers and wanted nothing more than to feel his lips on hers, but it wasn’t right. She backed away from him and he pulled back. “I’m sorry, I just can’t do this.”
Jack looked at her. “Do what?” He said to her, remaining close.
“This, you, me. I have not known anyone like you, Jack. You came out of nowhere to rescue me. You treat me with respect and you don’t ask for anything in return. I guess it has just been so long since anyone has been like that with me, that I don’t trust myself. I just need some time to figure out what I am supposed to do next. I have to make sure that Josh is taken care of. I have to make sure that you are safe.” She said softly.
Jack laughed. “You are not responsible for me, Stephanie. I have made a choice to help you, however resistant you may be, and I am not walking away. You can push me away and be vague and not trust me, but I will show you that you can count on me.” He walked over to the fire and put another log on.
Stephanie stood up and walked over to him. “This isn’t about me trusting you, Jack. Didn’t you think it was really easy when you found me? Don’t you realize that it was probably a set up and Josh was watching? It is only a matter of time before he finds us and if he thinks we are together, you are in terrible danger. Josh has been a jerk to me, that we have established, but more importantly, he knows that I have knowledge that he set the fire. It is in his best interest to keep me silent.” She sat down on a chair by the fire.
Jack looked at her. “Then why didn’t he kill you when he had the chance?” He saw her flinch. “I mean it, Stephanie, he had you, and all he had to do was finish the job.”
“Because that’s not what he wants. He wants me to suffer. He blames me for Nikki leaving him, and he wants to make me pay.” She sighed.
“So you have just decided to be alone for the rest of your life. Some psycho tells you that you are worthless for years and threatens to kill anyone you get close to, so you acquiesce and punish yourself. What about love, Stephanie? What about affection and connection to another human being? What about the joy of waking up next to another person who loves you unconditionally. What about sharing your joys and your failures with someone?” He walked to her and knelt in front of her.
“Who do you think you are? The last I heard, you were Mr. love them and leave them. Who are you to preach this to me? You don’t know anything about what I want or feel. Do you think this is easy for me? Do you think I want to be alone? I don’t want any of this.” She stood up and was yelling at him. “I would love to live a happily married life with a wonderful husband and kids who worship me. I want to work a long day and come home and eat out of paper boxes while watching television with my husband. I want to have fun and have love, but it isn’t easy. It is a fairy tale that won’t come true for me. You don’t get to stand there and analyze me like you have lived one second in my shoes. You just don’t understand,” She felt her legs wobble and the intensity of the moment took her breath away.
“Hey, hey, Steph,” He was there and holding her immediately. “Shhh, I’m sorry, you’re right, you don’t owe me any explanation.” He felt terrible, making her so angry when she was in a vulnerable state. “Let’s just sit for a minute.” He sat down on the couch with her and got her some water.
Stephanie looked at him, her heart pounding wildly. “You don’t understand what I see when I look at you.” She inched forward toward him. “Everything you said to me is everything I see when I look at you. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to be scared all the time. I wish my friend were here to tell me what to do. I wish I could erase the image of her lifeless body in my arms.” She let her tears spill over her cheeks. “I wish you had met me when I was strong and confident and open. I wish I could see the world like you do, opportunities and optimism. I wish,” She stopped, as he was inches from her face. She looked into his eyes and touched his face, his skin like velvet and his lips soft and slightly parted. “I wish I could let myself go and kiss you like you deserve to be kissed.” She said breathlessly and his mouth was on hers in an instant. She felt a rush of intense emotion overcome her as he wrapped his strong arms around her back. She eagerly welcomed his lips against hers and she gave herself to the moment. She wrapped her arms gingerly around him, pulling him to her. He pulled back after what seemed like a long time and they both were silent.
Jack looked at her, swollen lips and flushed cheeks. “Stephanie,” He started to speak, but for once in his life, a woman took his breath away. He simply looked into her eyes.
Stephanie didn’t know what to do. She wasn’t sure how to react. She knew it was wrong to give him false hope, but she knew it was too late. She was smitten. Jack traced her cheek and her chin with his finger. “You are so wrong.” He said to her.
“What?” She asked him with a puzzled look.
“I met you at the exact moment I was supposed to.” He tucked her long hair behind her ear.