|Red Running Shoes
Author: aditus PM
..."You can't run away from your problems, because you take them with you." Can Jonah ever again regain the confidence to trust a new love ? MxMRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Chapters: 20 - Words: 69,914 - Reviews: 77 - Favs: 45 - Follows: 25 - Updated: 02-15-11 - Published: 08-06-10 - Status: Complete - id: 2835693
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Red Running Shoes
"You can't run away from your problems, because you take them with you." Jonah knows this; he runs anyway.
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead is purely coincidental. The Author holds exclusive rights to this work. Unauthorized duplication is prohibited.
These are events of my real life, mixed with fiction of course. Edited by Lisa.
All right, the epilogue. I'd like to thank everybody for commenting on /reading this story.
Reviews are very important for me, because they help me to see my characters and stories through the reader's eyes. I got a few very awesome reviews for this story, thank you! You helped me a lot.
Seriously Now! ~ An Epilogue, Sort Of
Eighteen months later…
I so hate it, standing in front of my door, bags with groceries in one hand, while desperately fumbling with the keys in the other hand, to finally get in the house because the phone is ringing inside.
"Hello?" I say, pretty annoyed with everything at this point.
"Hey Jonah, it's me Mel."
"Mel! How are you?"
"And he got me, right with the first question…"
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Well, you know I'm pregnant, right?"
"Mel? Of course I know that you're pregnant; as a matter of fact, I knew it before James the father knew it, duh…. Everything okay with little Noah?"
"Yes and no. I'm at the clinic right now and I have to stay here at least for the next four weeks…"
"Oh shit… What happened?"
"Yeah, um, well it has something to do with me working too much, carrying some of the moving boxes around when James didn't look, and not going for prenatal care…"
"I just don't believe it!" I exclaim.
"Well, believe it. To reassure you, everything is fine now. I just have to lie down, and of course I'm not allowed to work. And that's the reason I'm calling you. You know how happy I was when I got this large project? To be the chief editor for this big-ass, bi-monthly company journal? Well, the project starts next Monday, and it definitely has to start without me. As you can certainly imagine, my client is not very happy about the whole situation. They are rather understanding, but nevertheless, they need a new chief editor. So, I recommended you."
"Yes you. You are the only one I can think of who can do the job, at least on such short notice. However, the first two or three weeks you'd have to work at the agency which got the contract to coordinate everything, but then you can work at home and only have to go there for some meetings. What do you think?"
"I don't know… I have some projects lined up already, and Alec wants to start his new book soon…"
"Jonah….please. You'd really be doing me a favor here. When Noah is born and everything is settled, maybe I could even take over, if you don't like it that is. Please Jonah? Pretty please?"
"Yes, yes with a cherry on top. Okay, I'll talk to them, but I'm not promising anything…"
"Thank you Jonah. I'll send you an email with the contact data. You need to contact them today though. I owe you one. Okay, the doctor just came in so I have to finish. Bye Jonah, and thank you again."
I call the agency right after and we arrange to meet tomorrow morning at nine.
The meeting goes surprisingly well, and they look through all my references. I have to answer a few questions, they answer some of my questions, and then I have the job. The contract pays well and the work seems to be very interesting. They tell me they have to confer with their client though, but that should only be a formality. I leave my contact data with them when I leave, and I already have a very good feeling about this project
I'm just about to leave the house when the phone rings. Ha, it must be my lucky day; I didn't close the door yet.
"This is Jonah de Rossi. Hello?"
"Hello Jonah, this is Ren."
"Please, don't hang up. I know I promised to not contact you, but this is important. Jonah? Are you still listening?"
"Good. Our company is the client you will be working for. I am responsible for the project. I'll be there almost all the time in the first three weeks; you can not avoid seeing me, or working with me. I just wanted to tell you, in case you want to possibly reconsider. Please do not misunderstand me though; I don't want you to reconsider. You would be perfect for the job. I just wanted to give you the chance for an out."
"When do you need my decision?"
"We need it by tomorrow morning, at the latest."
"Okay, I'll call them tomorrow morning." I state.
"Thank you Jonah. I'm glad that you didn't immediately say no. Good bye."
Shit! Fuck, fuck, fuck! What am I going to do?
First I call Mel. "Mel? Do you know which company I will be working for?"
"No, they made a big secret out of it. Why?"
"It's Arnold Technologies."
"Crap! I'm sorry Jonah, but I really didn't know. I…"
"It's okay Mel, I didn't think you knew."
"So what are you going to do? Will you quit? Think about it Jonah; it's a big chance. Not that you'll see him very often anyway."
"On the contrary; I'll see him every day for the whole fucking three weeks. He just called me to… I don't know, warn me or something…"
"He called you?"
"And how are you?"
"I'm fine. It's been eighteen months Mel. That's in the past…" And I realize it's true, kind of. This is about me; my chance, my career. I can't let myself be influenced by these things anymore.
"Oh. If it's in the past, then you can work for him right? And I'll take over as soon as I can. I mean if you want me to; it's your job now." Mel says.
"I …guess. All right, get better and don't you dare annoy my godson anymore, do you hear me?"
Eighteen months. In the last eighteen months I have seen Ren exactly three times. The first time was at a restaurant where he was dining with some business partners. I don't even know if he saw me; I left the restaurant as soon as I saw him though. The second time was at a new club Michael wanted to go to. I think this time he left as soon as he saw me. And the third time I saw him was at the park, running with a friend. He saw me but didn't acknowledge me, which I found somewhat strange, for whatever reason. Maybe he didn't think it was me because of the crazy fur ball at my side.
I never gave him his ring back. When we met at Michael's apartment I didn't have it with me; I forgot it in Sicily. Later I didn't want to trigger old hurts, so the ring still lies in one of my desk drawers. I could give it back to him now…nah better to avoid the matter totally.
When I think back to his call, his voice was very distant. How would I feel working with him when he'd be like this –all businesslike? It's been eighteen months. Maybe it's time to take this opportunity which arose so surprisingly, and face my last demons. I said I was done with running after all. Prove it Jonah!
I take the phone and call the agency to tell them that I'll be there, Monday morning at nine.
Monday morning, 8:55, and I stand in front of an enormous information desk to tell the girl behind it my name. She's wearing a headset and is hacking away on the keyboard in front of her with very long blue fingernails, ignoring me totally. When she finally acknowledges me, she tells me snappishly I have to go to conference room 13A, second floor, just like everybody else. Huh?
Most of the seats are already taken when I enter, but I find one beside the guy I had talked to for the job interview the other day.
He turns to me. "Good morning. So Mr. Arnold called you, and you decided to work for us?"
"Well, I'm very glad. You're a good editor after all."
"Thank you. And it would have been very difficult to find somebody else on such a short notice, hm?"
"That too," he grins conspiratorially.
"Thought so." I wink at him.
At 9 o'clock on the dot Ren enters the room, along with some other obviously very important guys. Our eyes meet briefly, and my heart starts to beat faster. What can I say; he's looking gorgeous? There seems no other way for me to describe him. He's still wearing his hair in a simple ponytail; it's longer than I remember though. And of course he's still wearing all black, including his dress shirt and tie. And when he gestures with his hands, I can see he's still wearing the bracelets, although by now they're pretty frazzled looking bracelets. It looks like they could fall apart any minute.
After the introduction Ren talks about the project in general, and its possible future should it be a success. Then he gives everybody a folder where we can find more details of our respective tasks, as well as the room number of the office we will be working in for the next few weeks. All the while he is very businesslike, almost cold. There is only one thing which is a little bit out of the ordinary, he insists on calling me by my first name every time he addresses me. With that, everybody knows that we know each other on a more personal level. Especially when I call him Mr. Arnold and he corrects me. "It's still Ren for you Jonah."
And so it is hardly surprising that the questions are starting as soon as we are on our way to our respective offices. I share my office with the lay out artist, Kenny.
"So you know the big boss then?" Kenny asks.
"How so? Did you work for him before?"
"Something like that yeah…" I reply, a little uncomfortably.
"Jeez, if it was something you can't talk about, you only have to say it…. it isn't published yet huh?"
"Uhu." I mean What? It isn't public knowledge yet, that we were together I mean, and I'm not planning on letting people know anytime soon.
Kenny then tells me about some of the projects he did in the last month, and some of the ideas he has for our current project. The whole time he's talking, I try to get accustomed with my computer and the messaging system. Just when I'm about to look through my folder to decide what to do next, Kenny asks me to go with him for lunch. Reluctantly I agree, because I fear he'll pester me about Ren again, but surprisingly he doesn't talk about him at all. Maybe he got the message; he seems to be a smart guy after all.
In the afternoon we do a lot planning; scheduling meetings and dead lines. I only see Ren two or three times and he never talks to me directly.
When I finally sit on the subway on my way home, I have to admit my first day at the new job wasn't so bad. Ren was distant; businesslike, except for the strange first-name thing. Oh well.
Today it's two weeks that I'm working with Ren. Only one week left. At first everything was a little awkward between us, but after awhile I got accustomed to him being around, suddenly standing beside my desk or calling me on the phone. We even had some meetings with only him and me, but we got along quite well; not too friendly, but not behaving like strangers either. I think that was what he wanted to achieve with the first name thing. And he's right; it would have been counterproductive for the progress of the project, if we tried to behave like strangers, which we definitely were not.
There are some things I'd like to forget though. Today, when I walked with Kenny and Linda along the hall on our way to lunch for example, Linda suddenly asked, "The boss really is a hot piece of ass, don't you think Jonah?"
I really was at a loss there... "Um…"
"Come on, admit it; you'd give anything to have a piece of that ass for yourself, along with everybody else here by the way; I mean if you were gay. Although you would never stand a chance with him
"I heard that he had a bad relationship once; the girl cheated on him or something, and now he's very careful with relationships. Isn't that romantic; he's waiting for his true love. Or so it's rumored. I personally think a hot guy like him won't go without it for long, though. I mean, the girls throw themselves at him. He won't say no to every one of them, now would he?"
"God, Jonah! You are the chief editor; could you maybe be a little bit more eloquent? You must know something. What about this girl who cheated on him? Do you know something about her?"
"I heard she married another guy…"
"All right. You shouldn't listen to all this gossip Linda; sometimes it's just that… gossip, half-truths, whatever."
"Jonah, tell meee. I know you know something."
"No, you don't know something, or no you won't t…."
That was when Ren suddenly came from behind, and passed us on his way to the elevator. And he was grinning at my obvious discomfort. I could hear it in his voice when he said, "I'll see you three later at this new beer place, right? My treat."
I would have smacked him upside his head if the other two hadn't been around, but you can't smack your boss without getting weird questions, after all.
"Of course Mr. Arnold." answered Linda and Kenny.
"Tonight? Beer place?" What? Nobody has told me yet.
And that is why I'm at a beer place, sitting around a beer-stained table together with most of my co-workers, and Ren is pressed against me on this awful uncomfortable wooden bench. Because 'Hey, we don't need another table; there is enough space for one or two more!'
There will be a time I'll kill Linda for opening her big fat mouth. She sits at Ren's other side, happily leaning into him all the time, presenting her cleavage. This makes Ren lean against me; he's practically sitting in my lap, while my shoulder is squished painfully against the wall. Jeez! If the result wasn't so painful for me, I would find it kind of funny actually, how Linda is barking up the wrong tree.
Just when I'm about to yell at them to finally get another table, Ren asks Kenny the same thing, and finally, finally I have some space. And I so don't care that Linda is pouting because now she has no more reason to constantly press herself against Ren.
The rest of the evening is rather pleasant actually. Everyone tells something about himself, his living situation, hobbies, but it never gets too personal.
Ren is friendly, but slightly impersonal. He listens to everybody with interest, though, just really boss-like. And he doesn't treat me any differently than the others, which will hopefully silence the rumors that I know him privately, and will therefore stop them pestering me about his personal life. Jeez!
I am content sitting beside him and listening to his voice; and he still smells like cinnamon and… well Ren. What? It must be the beer! Jonah, get a grip on yourself! I think it's time to go home. And that I do right now.
It's Wednesday and everything is coming to an end. I only have to be at the agency for a meeting today; the rest of the work I can do at home.
During the meeting I have a slightly heated discussion with Kenny, who wants me to expand one of the texts, so that it fits better into his layout. I explain that it would be pointless blabber and I won't write that. So we needed the boss to decide what the outcome would be, and he did. I do not need to write pointless blabber, yay me. But of course Kenny has to spoil my good mood by murmuring that it's clear that Ren would decide in my favor. I roll my eyes at him.
After the meeting is finished, Ren asks me to stay for a moment. I look at him with a lifted eyebrow and he immediately looks a bit flustered. "Jonah, would you maybe like to meet me at the beer place on Friday again?"
"Sure why not?" I think I'm almost as surprised as Ren by my answer.
"Oh…, good. At seven?"
"Yeah, seven would be fine."
I can't believe what just happened. I was like on auto pilot; I didn't even consider saying no. I really have to think this through; and maybe talk to a good friend.
Shit, shit, shit I'm late and Ren isn't answering his phone. This is one of those days where everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. After the meeting, I had to do something at home, then I spent so much time deciding on what to wear. I can't believe I did this by the way, going back and forth deciding on what clothes to wear! Then I had to get my car back from a friend because I didn't want to take my bike. I wanted to take Sox with me, so no bike. One thing led to another, as it always does, especially when you're nervous as hell and have to do half of the things a second time because of that. Now I'm at least half an hour late. Great!
Just when I reach the beer place I see Ren going to his car. Shit! He certainly thinks I'm standing him up. Rolling down the window I call to him from across the street.
He looks up and smiles. Wow! At some point I should probably start breathing again.
After parking the car and leashing Sox, I cross the street to where he's waiting for me.
"Hey sorry I'm late. I tried to call, but you didn't answer the phone."
"Yeah I know, my battery was so low it died. I didn't realize my phone was dead until I looked at it to see if you had called. I was just on my way back to my car to recharge it."
We go over to the entrance and Ren opens the door for me.
"Shall we go outside?" Ren asks me, and gestures at the benches and tables in the garden of the beer place.
"Yes, please. I like to be outside." The view over the river is nice and soothing. Not that I'd needed that.
"I know." He agrees.
Yeah, yeah he knows. Of course he knows. As a matter of fact, he knows more of me then I'm currently comfortable with…. I think.
We settle down on the still sun warmed benches, and Sox lies down under the table, never taking his eyes off Ren. With the setting sun on his hair it almost looks…Stop it Jonah!
The waiter brings our beer and we sit in silence for quite awhile. I look at his hand holding the beer. He's still wearing my ring; one frazzled bracelet is left on his wrist. He notices my gaze, but he doesn't comment on it. That's when I see the tattoo highlighted by the setting sun. It's changed. There is no more chain holding back the dove; instead the dove sits on sort of a branch, or a vine… I swallow.
But I don't mention that I noticed he had the tattoo changed; nor do we talk about our past. There is …something though, but it's too fragile to talk about… yet. Instead he tells me that he had been in Japan for four months to visit his relatives and sort some things out, to think.
He then talks about the sights he saw and that he did a lot of hiking, which cleared his mind. I tell him about Sicily and what I felt when I walked the same streets or stairs between the temples as the ancients Greeks and Romans did.
I don't think we ever talked like this to each other; so… I don't know… without any pressure, expectations, so… natural. There is no tension between us tonight; we're just comfortable being together.
When he walks me to my car he asks, "Could we do this again sometime Jonah?"
I smile "I'd like that."
I haven't seen Ren once in the last two weeks, although I was at Kenny's office several times. Maybe he's working more at his father's company again; it would make sense since the project is almost done.
The thing is, I'm thinking of him more often the longer he doesn't call. Somehow I get the feeling that's exactly the point, though. So I should put an end to all of this and call him. Tomorrow…
Or the day after tomorrow.
I'm staring at my keyboard and try to concentrate on the text I have to finish, when my phone starts to ring.
I try to find the right phrase here so fuck off, whoever might be on the phone!
Ah, but it doesn't stop. I grab it without looking at the caller ID and bark. "Yeah?"
"Am I calling at a bad time?" Ren asks on the other side.
"Uhm, actually yes, but I could have switched off my phone so… it's okay."
"This won't take long. Do you feel like going out for breakfast tomorrow? There is this café at the market place, where they have an awesome breakfast buffet…"
"Oh yes, I've heart of it, Lionel's, right?" I ask him.
"Yes. You could bring Sox too; we could go for a walk along the river after breakfast."
"Okay. I'll be there. Around ten?"
"I'll see you at ten then. I'm glad." Ren replies.
Sox starts wagging his tail when he sees Ren standing in front of Lionel's. Whether it's because he's happy seeing Ren again, or because of whatever is in the two brown paper bags he's holding in his hand that smells good, I don't know.
I look up and Ren is smiling at me, holding a tray with two coffees to go in one hand, and the paper bags in the other. "Hey."
"Hey. I thought we could drive down to the river, maybe to one of the piers and have our breakfast over there. The view would be better, and we um, would be alone t-to talk?"
"Okay. Sox loves to be down the river, although…" I look up to the sky, where dark clouds are coming up. "…it could start to rain."
"If it really starts raining, we could always open the rear hatch and have breakfast in the back of my car."
And that's exactly what we're doing right now, as it started to rain the minute we got out of the car. I lean against the back rest of the rear seats and look out of the open rear hatch at the river. The rain is getting heavier; it is pelting on the car roof. It feels like we're sitting in our own world. Sox chews on the rest of his sausage and I hold my empty coffee cup. Only a few minutes ago we were talking about some normal stuff, but now, the silence is … foreboding?
Ren looks at me and then he suddenly jumps out of the car and starts pacing in the fucking rain!
"Ren! What are you doing? You're getting all wet."
"That doesn't matter right now. I just can't sit patiently in the car with what I am about to say… ask."
He stands in the heavy rain, looking at the river; then he suddenly turns to looks at me. He's all wet by now; his long black hair no longer blowing in the wind, but plastered against his face and shoulders.
He lifts his arm and shows me his empty wrist. "This morning on the way to the café I lost the other bracelet. I wanted to put them away after I left Michael's apartment, but I couldn't. I know it weirded you out, I know it was…"
I help him out. "Creepy?"
"Yes, probably. I promised I wouldn't contact you and I didn't. I saw you at the restaurant, at the club, and at the park running with Sox. But I didn't come to you, I didn't talk to you, because I promised you, although it almost…. I knew it wasn't my decision to seek out contact, but yours. I always hoped you would speak to me again, though, but of course you never did.
When the agency called me and told me who was going to replace Mel Winters, I started to believe in fate, karma, you name it, because I knew I had to call you. I needed to warn you, because it was my project and you'd have to meet me on a daily basis, if you decided to work for me at all.
I so hoped you wouldn't say no and you didn't. We could even talk without it being awkward. You didn't reject me; you weren't cold, but normal and friendly. When we met at the beer place, just you and me, it was relaxing. I felt at peace for the first time in a very long time.
Jonah I have to ask you this, because after these last five weeks I have the hope you… I still love you so much…I'll never ask you again after this one last time, but … please Jonah… take me back. Linda was so wrong when she said you'd never stand a chance with me; you're the only one who'll ever have a chance with me. The question is, do I have a chance with you?"
I stare at him standing there in the pelting rain looking at me, waiting for my decision. He isn't timid or insecure, but determined, and I wouldn't want have him in any other way. Ever.
"We probably should get you into a hot shower and in dry clothes, because I really do not want to play nurse. I don't want to make you tea or cook hot chicken soup for you, because you caught a cold, standing out here in the rain the whole day."
"You'd make me tea and hot chicken soup?"
"If I must. I'd even buy you cold meds, read you a good night story; get myself a nipple ring and kiss you to make you all better. If I must."
I have Matteo on the phone, he just told me that Sandro is living in Milan now, and that he thinks he has something going on with Daniele. I look over to the couch where my man is currently sleeping peacefully.
He moved in with me four month ago, because it was much easier than going over to his house after work, or him coming over to my house after work. Keeping up appearances for others was getting old.
Our friends and family said it was too early to jump right back into the relationship, but we knew it wasn't; I knew it wasn't. We fight; we argue, we don't speak at all, and sometimes he can be a possessive ass, but we make love, we discuss, we talk, he is generous with me and protective of me also. I'm wearing his ring again because I love him, just him.
AN: Some of you might have wanted to have some 'action', but it felt wrong for me, so I decided to write a one-shot instead, PWLP (porn with a little plot) sometime soon.