Chapter 37

As Close As It'll Ever Be

Summer turned out to be the best time in our relationship. We spent every day together and didn't take any of our time for granted. One day as we were driving home from having coffee with Wyatt and Trent, I glanced over at Jackson.

"I feel bad," I murmured.

"What for?"

"You never hang out with your friends anymore. Now you just hang with mine."

He shook his head. "Your friends are my friends. The only real friends I've ever had, 'cept for Brooke. Thank you for introducing us." He kissed my cheek. "And I'll get you guys into college parties."

"Are you gonna start drinking a bunch again?"

"No. I won't. Not after how hard you've worked to help me. We're going to Mom's tonight for dinner."

"What're we eating?"

"Who knows? Something good. It's always something good."

We went home and got cleaned up, then we went back to house where I had more memories than I did in my own home. Shannon opened the door, smiling at us in her motherly fashion. She hugged Jack, then me and let us inside.

"I'm making lasagna," she said.

I grinned. "Yes!"

"I know how much you like it, Lila. Sam is up in his room… he and Terrah just broke up. Maybe you should go talk to him, Jackson."

Jack nodded and headed toward the stairs.

"I'll help you cook," I said.

She bit her lip.

"Or I'll just keep you company so that I don't catch anything on fire."

"That sounds like an excellent idea."

Jack came down after about 20 minutes. "You know, I'm glad Sam and I made up without causing a bunch of shit. We both messed things up…it was good of him to apologize first. It feels nice to talk to him again." He peeked over his mother's shoulder. "Looks delicious, Mom. Where's Dad?"

"He went to the grocery store to get soda. Sit down and quit trying to stick your finger in the food. Tell me how you've been. I've barely seen you since you graduated. It's been weeks."

"Sorry. Been working a ton… and when I'm not working I'm trying to spend time with Lila." He sighed. "I hate having a job and trying to make time for everything. I just wanna enjoy my last summer at home."

"Growing up is a bitch, ain't it?" Shannon asked wryly.

"Yes it is, mommy. Is there anything I can do? I feel sort of restless just sitting here."

"You can go out in the living room and relax with your girlfriend. I can feel the tension from here. Take it easy, Jackson. You're going to be a burnout before you even get a real job."

He sighed heavily and rose from the table, then helped me to my feet.

We settled ourselves on the sofa and I glanced over at Jackson.

"Are you bored with me?" I asked him.

"Why would you ask that? Of course I'm not."

"Because it's not new anymore… we do the same thing everyday. You go to work, you come home, we eat dinner, talk, and have sex… it's almost like we're married… except for the having sex every night."

"If I was bored with you, we wouldn't be having sex. I like having a routine, it's nice. But if you don't like it, we can change it up. I mean, we go places and shit… it's not like we're recluses or something."

"I just wanted to make sure."

I was sort of getting sick of doing the same thing all of the time, but if Jackson was happy I didn't want to mess things up. Mark walked through the door and grinned at us.

"Hey son, hey Lila."

We both said hello.

"It's so weird to see you guys here… together still. How long has it been now?"

"Let's see, we started dating on January 5th—"

"The 3rd," I corrected.

"Sorry. The 3rd. Anyway… what's today?"

"June 25th," his father said.

"So about five and half months." Jack grinned. "Congratulations, Delilah, this has been my longest relationship."

"You and Brooke never dated longer?"

"We did, but we broke up a few times, so it doesn't really count." He kissed my forehead. "Almost half a year already."

It was odd, it felt like we'd been together so much longer than Sam and I had. Probably because we were living together and didn't go a day without seeing each other. I was amazed that Jackson wasn't terribly sick of me yet.

"You wanna grab the other box of soda out of the car for me, Jacky?"

"Got it."

Dinner was delicious, but I felt horrible for Sam. He looked so sad and he barely touched his meal. I wanted to know why they had broken up, but I couldn't ask. I didn't let Jackson put his arm around me, the way he usually did while he ate, because I felt like we were rubbing it in Sam's face.

"Are you all right, honey?" Shannon asked Sam.

He nodded. "Yeah. I'm cool. She wasn't that great anyway."

"You could do better," Jack said.

"I never liked her," Shannon said. "She was dumb and impolite."

"He'll never find someone as good as you," Jack whispered in my ear.

"No secrets at the dinner table," Mark scolded. "It makes everyone uncomfortable."

"Sorry, Dad."

I loved dinner at the Ross's. It made me feel like I had a real family, and it was nice. Maybe I'd marry Jack, just so I'd always have his mother and father in my life… that and I loved him, of course. I almost laughed aloud. I was thinking about marrying Jackson Ross? Sure, we were in love, but neither one of us would be ready for marriage for about another thousand years.


We finished eating and went into the living room to have "family time". When that was over, Jack and I headed home.

"We're closer now that I've moved out," he said. "You'll still go to dinner at Mom's when I'm gone, right? She'll miss you if you don't."

"Sure. I'll go."

It was funny to think of how scared I'd been of Shannon just over six months ago. Now I felt like I could tell her anything. I rested a hand on Jack's muscular thigh and he smiled over at me.

"Love ya, Lila."

"Love you too. Why did Terrah break up with Sam?"

"He was 'smothering' her."

"Hm. He sure seems to be good at that, huh?"

Jack nodded. "Eventually he'll figure out that not all girls need constant attention. Goes back to Caitlin, I think, she was so needy. She'd threaten to start drugs again if they were apart even one day."

"God… that was such an unhealthy relationship. It was ridiculous… how did they even end up together?"

"Have no idea. I always thought it was kind of weird. She was a bit of a creeper. She'd always listen to that screaming music shit and it drove me nuts. You were really Sam's best girlfriend. Sometimes I feel bad for taking you… but when I have you in bed next to me, I sure as hell don't feel bad anymore."


Jack and I continued to live by our routine for the remainder of the summer. He'd come home from work, have a cigarette, we'd eat dinner either at home or at his mother's, sometimes we'd go out with the gang after we ate… but usually we just bummed around the house until bedtime. I didn't really feel like we wasted any time though, 'cause we were always together. Of course, the constantly being with each other did occasionally lead to getting snappish, but we didn't have a lot of major fights.

He worked his last day the night before he left for college. We'd gotten into a pretty big argument about it a few days ago. I wanted him to spend his last days at home with me, but he wanted to work until he had to quit. Two days after the fight, he still wasn't completely over it. I didn't want him leaving angry; I decided to make a nice dinner, as nice as I'm capable of, anyway. I lit candles and cleaned up the apartment and hoped he came home in a good mood.

The door opened at 5:20. I was sitting on the couch, watching Trading Spaces.

"Hi cupcake," Jack said casually. He plopped down on the couch next to me.

"Hello, Jackson. How was work?"

"Long. Smells good. You cookin'?"

I nodded, turning the TV off. "Yep."

"Are you gonna burn the building down?"

"Gonna try not to."

"Good. At least you're giving it some effort." He kissed me lightly. "Are we still mad?"

"I'm not."

"Me neither. It was my fault… sorry. So whatcha making me?"

"Steak. I'm trying real hard not to burn it."

He grinned. "I'm sure it'll be delicious… and if it's not, I'll pretend it is."

Dinner didn't turn out too badly. The steak was a little well done, but it wasn't blackened. The rolls were perfect, and the candles were romantic.

"It's good," Jack told me. "And I'm not lying. I'm impressed."

"Thanks. Your mom has been trying to teach me to cook. Guess it's paying off."

He gathered the dishes and took them into the kitchen. "Whatcha look so sad for? I know tonight's my last night for the week, but I'll be back in three days." He took my hand and led me to the couch. We sat down and he held me close. "It's not that long. You can hang out with Ellie and Wyatt and everyone."

"But I'll always be the odd one out! They're all couples."

He pursed his lips, looking pained. "I'm sorry, Delilah. You'll be in school soon though, that'll pass time."

I rested my head against his broad shoulder. "Do you really have to go tomorrow?"

"Mm-hmm. I start class on Thursday, but I wanna get settled tomorrow. I'm rooming with a couple other guys down there, and I wanna have some shit in the apartment."

"How am I gonna pay for this place, Jacky?"

"My parents have gotcha."

"I feel bad for 'em paying."

"It'll be okay. I'll make it up to them someday. They just want us to be happy, Lila. You deserve to be happy, for once." He kissed my hair, hugging me fiercely. "You know I love you, and I don't wanna leave, right?"

I nodded, tears filling my eyes. After a few seconds, I felt a tiny teardrop hit my forehead. I looked up just in time to see Jackson drying his eyes.

"See, now ya got me all worked up," he said, smiling crookedly. "Jeez, cupcake."


Jack got up, seemingly restless, and blew out the candles. He came to stand in front of me, backlit by only the light of the moon shining in through the sliding glass door that led out to the balcony. He looked so strong and sad standing there, looking down at me. I wanted to say something to make us laugh, to eliminate the awkward intensity of the moment, but no words came. We stared at each other, silently; each one of us feeling some powerful, undefined emotion. One minute stretched into two, then three. Finally, he sighed heavily.

"Let's go to bed, Delilah."

He swept me off of the couch and carried me to our room, gently setting me on the bed. He undressed, his eyes never leaving mine. When he finished, he came to me, carefully pulling my tank top over my head. I got myself out of my jean skirt and panties and he lowered his head to kiss me. We made love slowly, sensuously. As we laid in silence when we were finished, I thought to myself: It wasn't perfect… but it was as close as it'll ever be. We said nothing for a long, long time. Just waited for our heart rates to return to normal. Finally, just as I was drifting off, Jackson whispered "I love you" in my ear… and then I was out like a light.

I woke up to the alarm trilling in my ear and I groaned. Jackson smacked the top of it, the way he did every morning. I looked at the time.

"It's six," I commented. We never got up this early.

"I know. I need an early start," he grumbled. After about five minutes, he rolled out of bed and meandered over to his dresser.

"I'm sleepy," I complained.

"That's all right. Don't get up. I'll wake you up before I leave to kiss you goodbye. Just go back to sleep for now."

I wanted to stay up with him, but I'd fallen back to sleep within minutes of him telling me to.

He shook me awake and hour later. The few boxes that had been scattered around the bedroom were gone, obviously already loaded into his car.

"I'll be back on Friday night, Delilah," he told me. "But let's talk real fast."

I sat up in bed, rubbing my eyes. "Mm?"

"I really don't know what the hell to expect. I mean, we haven't really been apart since we started dating… and… well, what I'm trying to say is…" he sighed and ran a hand back through his hair. "What I'm trying to say is, whether or not things work out, I'll always love you, all right?"

I thought it sounded silly. Of course he wouldn't always love me… Still it was sweet. Silly, but sweet. "We're going to be okay," I assured him.

He nodded, smiling slightly. "I'll call you tonight." He kissed me passionately, then rose. "Well… I gotta…" he gestured towards the door.

I stood up. "Let's go, I'll walk you to the living room."

We held each other for a moment by the front door. He kissed the top of my head and pulled away. "Last night I was thinking that 45 minutes really isn't too long of a commute. My first class isn't until 9:30… so if I stayed here, I really wouldn't even have to leave that early… but we don't have time to talk about it now. I'll be home by 8:00 on Friday, then we'll talk," he told me, and with one final kiss, he was gone.

Really though, he wasn't technically gone. It was more like he was on an adventure... an educational adventure, and he'd be back very soon… maybe even back to stay.


So, this is the end. Obviously. In case you didn't get that from the bolded text at bottom of the chapter. Anyway, I know a lot of you wanted to see what it was like with Jackson in college and stuff, but that really kinda eliminates room for a sequel, if I decide to do a sequel. And if I don't, I like to end my stories with a little mystery anyway. Use your imagination... some of you will imagine them working out for a long time to come, and some of you will probably imagine them falling apart. Whatever works for you.

Anyway, I'll have a new story posted within the next few days. I think it's going to be cute, so you should all definitely check it out or I'll miss you.

So, epilogue, no epilogue? It's up to you guys. I don't really care either way. If you're not very imaginative and want to know what I think happens after Jack leaves... well, lemme know.

Thank you for all your reviews and encouragement! Anyway, I need to do review replies and get to bed. So, here goes...

Review Replies

ArghImaPirate--Good luck on finals! Hope you aren't too sad about this being over... I know I am, though.

Mayuka--Glad you liked it.

Mindy--Yeah, I'm gonna miss it too.

midnightbeauty--Thanks for catching that error. I fixed it! I really need to start proofreading.

outsidersgirl--Guess you never know for sure.

restart--Oh no! I don't want you to cry!

ROFLMAOxP--I'm gonna be sad about our seniors graduating too.

X-Romantic-X--Well, it's up to your imagination to determine if it's smooth sailing or not.

Shut-Down-Angel--I actually think that the one I'm going to post soon will be my main one. This story has gone by much faster than Chaysing El. I'll miss this one almost as much.

Camelia Sinensis--Well... it was a happyish ending.

A. Nicole--Well, I'm excited about my new story, but I don't know if that makes it 'exciting' hehe.

Marisa Gittinger--Aw. Thanks.

TwinkleHeart--Ah, how I'll miss your one word reviews.

Stahlut--Glad I got the emotions right...I try.

chevy-luv--Yep. And it all depends on your perspective.

D-Mish--Well, I doubt you liked this one either, then... because it was equally rushed.

freeXspirit--As much as I love drama, I didn't want to drag this out any longer.

JasminevsJazzy--Yes, I always have to throw my Cardinals in every now and then.

Mariah--But when you do finish one, it'll be amazing!


dOrKy-GuRi03--Thank you.

Oooh. Look. A Cat.--Yeah, I didn't want any grudges.

FM Radio--Well, I messaged you. Glad we got it cleared up, hehe. Sorry for the misunderstanding!

people.are.strange.--Yeah, grudges against family are uncomfortable.

TotalEclipseOfTheHeart2114--Well, things didn't end badly, at least

babyonyee--Well, it's over now. No more dragging.

missindependant89--I think I love Jackson the most, too.

Midge-The-Hopeless-Romantic--Well, at least they're kind of okay

XanimeXXfreakX--I love tater tots.

SummerBaby94--Yeah, they're good together.

justlove.--Woo! I love balloons. And I'd say Jack has changed more than anyone.

xx Sakura Kiss xx--You'll have to use your imagination! Haha I feel like a kindergarten teacher telling you that.


Much love!