A/N: This chapter was done and sitting listlessly in my computer, and I just recently thought, "Hey, I should write that story." So I'm going to give it a shot, although this may be a bit risqué for many of you. Previously, I probably wouldn't have stuck it out and read this story.
Julie is NOT like my other characters. That is all I will warn at the moment, and that is pretty much just for those of you who have read my characters and are used to my other girls. She is flawed, she does foolish things sometimes, and she doesn't always make the right choices—I love her anyway.
And there is a reason, despite the G-rating of this chapter, that I've filed this under M. There will be thematic elements and whatnot.
Despite having very little time left before class, Julie Kingsley sat on a bench, staring distractedly out at the murky river, wondering how in the world she had gotten where she was.
On reflection, she knew exactly how she got where she was.
By being stupid. Extremely stupid. Stupid, she had learned, was her superpower.
Somehow –she wasn't sure how—Julie found herself sitting on a park bench in downtown Chicago failing miserably as she attempted to study for her sociology midterm.
Why? She really didn't even like Chicago, so why had she moved there in the first place?
Again she asked herself, why?
Jack was attractive all right, with his moody hazel eyes and his roguishly longer dark brown hair. He was Italian on his mother's side, so while his last name was Gelman, he had a nice light tan all year round without ever walking into the sun—and when he did walk into the sun… well, he looked better. His eyes were somewhat large and expressive—although they were selectively expressive, and only expressed whatever feelings he wanted to you believe he was feeling.
What he wanted you to believe was almost never the case though, as Julie knew too well.
She could still remember the night she had let him talk her into this ridiculous idea. It had been the perfect time. She had been feeling a little on the vulnerable side, because she was in the end of getting over a bad relationship. She had sort of dated Jack before, although there was a fine line between "We were dating," and "we were just friends," that she was never quite certain they had crossed. But he held her hand, hugged her, kissed her, hung out with her—he liked her. He told her so several times, making her increasingly uncomfortable, because she wasn't comfortable lying to him and saying she felt the same way. That had been when she was 17 going on 18, then newly 18.
At 18 she thought she met Mr. Right in the form of a blonde haired, blue eyed silent type with a goatee and a sense of humor that she thought only a few select people –herself included, of course—got to see. Now this was a good guy, she decided. Not like Jack, who claimed to care about her, but then made out with three other girls the first time she got mad at him over something stupid he had done. Mr. Right was a decent guy, he looked at her sincerely, and unlike Jack, he never lied to her.
Jack had told her on the first maybe-date that this was not possible, that guys are after one thing and one thing only, and if they happen to hurt people who love them to get it, they may not even realize it. He also told her that a guy will say anything to get what he wants from a girl.
She wasn't charmed by any means, and she was certain that he wasn't very good at telling girls things to get what he wanted either, because he was surely never getting anything from her. After their first maybe-date, their relationship took a turn, and she decided she didn't like Jack anymore, that he was a terribly cynical 19-year-old and she was an idealistic, romantic almost-18-year-old.
Then she met Mr. Right, and she knew she was correct, that good men did exist—their names just weren't Jack Gelman.
Jack, meanwhile, decided to move to Chicago, something he had been talking about doing since high school, but never really getting around to. When he lost his job, he decided it was the perfect time to said adieu to his friends and skip town for a brand new life.
Julie didn't care. She said farewell, glad that he wouldn't try to cause trouble with Mr. Right.
However, after 6 and a half months, Mr. Right turned out to be Mr. Not So Right. He went back to his ex-girlfriend and pretended their entire relationship had never happened. The time she spent with him, the kisses and everything they had shared, the movies they watched together in his room in his mother's house—she made it all up in her head. She had been infatuated with him, naturally, but he had not reciprocated. In fact, it was as if he and his homely girlfriend of four years had never even broken up—she must have imagined him telling her that they did.
And she had believed him. Perhaps that was her tragic mistake.
That was in February. Unfortunately, she worked with Mr. Not So Right, so she had to see him every other day. He seemed to think that since things didn't work out between them it was his personal job to "playfully" terrorize Julie. He put her down at every turn, criticized everything she did, rubbed his girlfriend in her face, and got mad if any guy happened to pay attention to her as more than a cashier. He played emotional yo-yo with her, and to her great surprise, she continued to let him. She didn't mean to, didn't want to, but somehow she still loved him, even though he treated her like dirt beneath his feet.
He was a slacker with a minor criminal record whose life ambition was probably to smoke marijuana until he died and get by in life by doing as little as possible, while Julie was a driven, straight A student attending a community college that she was paying for on her own, and planning to transfer to either Connecticut or Rhode Island within a couple years to finish out her bachelor's degree in English.
But she didn't deserve him.
After being burned by love and then unable to walk away from the flames, even as they continued to burn her, her old friend Jack came to town to visit his family for Christmas.
She knew when he called that it wasn't a good idea to go with him. Knowing Jack as well as she did, and knowing how vulnerable she was after finding out earlier that week that Mr. Right and his girlfriend were expecting a baby, she knew she should stay home with a pint of ice cream and a sad movie and not have contact with Jack.
Instead, she put on a new outfit, glossed her lips, and ran straight out to see him when he called and asked her to.
They ended up sort of reuniting that night. She didn't actually sleep with him –had never slept with him despite his best attempts—but things definitely went farther than she would have allowed in a stronger state of mind.
Jack had a girlfriend back in Chicago, which Julie knew about, but tried to forget given that she had played his mistress for the night. According to Jack, his girlfriend, Arianna, would be out of town the following week, so he suggested she come back with him and stay for at least a few days.
She didn't so much decline as neglect to answer him either way. She also made sure she didn't talk to him again –even casually—until the girlfriend was home, at which point she felt confident that he wouldn't suggest such stupidity with his girlfriend present. (They did live together, after all.)
Julie and Jack did converse casually over the phone a few times over the next couple of months, but she attempted to keep it strictly friendly in hopes that he would get the drift. He must have, because he never mentioned it again.
Then there was the drunken phone call at 2 a.m. telling her that he was falling in love with her, that he had liked her since he met her, and wanting to know if she loved him.
Talk about uncomfortable.
He let her get away with murmuring, "Mmhmm," in response, but it was still more dishonest than she wanted to be.
The fact of the matter was that she didn't love Jack; that was her favorite thing about him. While Mr. Right had her heart in the palm of his hand –convenient for when he felt like crushing it a little more for his own twisted amusement—Jack was in restraining order distance from her heart.
With a newly mending heart, that kind of distance was very appealing.
Jack called her one night –drunk again—and told her that he broke up with Arianna, that she needed to come see him.
Knowing Jack, however, she took it with a grain of salt, figuring he probably had a list of several other girls he was calling and telling the same thing –along with the "I love you"—and within a couple weeks she was positive he would have her replacement—another tall, thin blonde with ridiculously full lips, more than likely.
Since Julie had long, curly brown hair, stood 5'3" and a mouth not befitting a porn star, she doubted he would be waiting around on her. In fact, when she told him in the very beginning of summer that she would think about transferring to Chicago, she had no worries, knowing that in the next few months he was virtually guaranteed to let her right out of that agreement by meeting someone else closer to him. Even when he told her, "I want that so much," and "we'll be good for each other. I think you'll ground me," and the real cake-topper, "I'll wait for you," she let it flow in one ear and right out the other. He had never been single for more than two weeks, so he wasn't going to wait around on her for four months.
Julie's former Mr. Right became a daddy in early August, and it was around the time that Jack came back to town for another well-timed visit. Once again she told herself to stay home, and once again she ended up going out and getting in deeper than she meant to with Jack. Honestly, she didn't mean to, and she couldn't even figure out why she was letting stupid Mr. Right cause her to do so many stupid things, make such completely idiotic mistakes; how could she have not picked up on all that was wrong with him when she was gazing into those beautiful lying eyes of his? Then she could have just avoided the windfall of mistakes that he would cause to become part of her formerly predictable life.
She was so over love. It made her terribly stupid.
That was why she somehow found herself agreeing to transfer to Chicago. Jack, much to her surprise, seemed true to his word for once about waiting for her. She didn't like to believe him, because he rarely told her the truth, but it seemed that for once he did. He waited for her for months, and that after the initial two years she had made him wait first.
It was fun for approximately two weeks. The initial excitement of actually getting out of her mother's house (she had been a poor college student living at home before) and moving in with her boyfriend—who couldn't claim if they ever broke up that she had made it all up—was pretty exciting.
Not to mention that Jack finally won what he had been trying to get since he met her: her virginity. At 20 years old, he knew she was still a virgin, because he tended to refer to her as a saint, but he had been hell-bent on taking her virginity since he met her when she was 17. Even then he had found her virginity extraordinary, so the fact that she had managed to hold onto it for so long while not being Amish, being attractive, nice, and around the opposite sex—completely remarkable.
So he was a pretty happy man for a little while. Technically, he was happy for longer, but the happiness started wearing off on her end.
Julie didn't realize until about a week after she moved in with Jack and his best friend Jacob that for one thing, Jack still talked to Arianna. Then there was Morgan, the conceited neighbor from down the hall who loved to wear skimpy clothes and wink at Jack as she licked her extremely full lips and made sure her shoulders were back, fully showing off her cleavage.
During her second week in Chicago, she also became acquainted with Jessica, another dime-a-dozen skinny blonde girl, Kristen, a tanned lingerie model with gorgeous brown hair, big brown eyes and a pretty pout, and Bridgette, the adorable Australian waitress (also blonde, also tall, and with truly remarkable green eyes) that Julie actually liked.
They all came around much more than Julie would have liked. And most of them clearly flirted with Jack right in front of her, aside from maybe Bridgette, who Julie suspected might just be genuinely too friendly for her own good.
Then there was her school. New professors, new courses, a vastly different environment from her former small town, and on top of all the other changes, she had to find a job so she could pitch in with utilities (since she just slept in Jack's room, she wasn't charged rent) and groceries. All she managed to find was a crappy job working at the local KFC/Pizza Hut around the corner, but it was in walking distance (everything was) and since they were the only ones to call, she couldn't be picky.
So as she sat on the bench contemplating her midterm and then the 4 to close she had to pull afterward, she wondered if she might luck out and find Jack out with friends so she could study for the midterm she had the following day, or if he would be home and inevitably guilt her into coming straight to bed without studying.
Not that she was getting any studying done anyway. There was a nice breeze, the sun was shining, and she wanted to people watch, not read pages and pages of notes about social class and consequences of social class. As interesting as her notes on marriage, divorce, religion and politics might be, she was more interested in watching the adorable little girl in the red dress toddling around, and once in awhile falling on her diapered behind. The little girl had blonde hair, and she couldn't be more than a year old. The baby's gaze landed on Julie, and Julie smiled at her, offering a little wave. The baby gave a big grin and a squeal, lifting her hand and waving back. Then, with a determined look on her face, the baby reached up to pull on the dress trousers of the man walking with her, and she pulled herself up and started to waddle over Julie's way. The man started to follow, but then his cell phone started ringing, so he answered it instead, turning just slightly in the other direction.
The baby waddled over, her red dress blowing in the wind, and she made it almost to Julie, but then she fell down about six inches from Julie's leg. Julie looked up at the man she assumed was the father, but he wasn't even paying attention, he was scowling at the river as he chattered into his cell phone.
Julie rolled her eyes, somewhat annoyed. What kind of parent is going to leave their completely trusting one year-old child to run around by a river –a fenced in river, but still—with strangers around and not even pay her a glance. What if Julie were some awful kidnapper? The baby wouldn't know that, and here she was, using the bottom of Julie's skirt to tug herself up into a standing position.
"Hey there, sweetie," Julie said quietly.
"Nana," it sounded like the baby said.
Julie smiled. "You're adorable. Where's your daddy?"
"Daddy?" the baby said, suddenly adopting an appropriately no-nonsense look. "Daddy," she said, pointing with her stubby little finger at the man in the dress pants.
Even with his name being spoken, the man appeared to be too busy to notice his daughter. He looked nice in his shiny loafers, his black dress pants and that black dress shirt underneath. Yeah, he looked the part of a man too busy to mind his toddling baby girl. He looked nothing like her, however. They looked like night and day. Where the baby had pale skin, luminous blue eyes and light blonde hair, her father had jet black hair and a naturally olive complexion. Julie couldn't see his eyes, because that would require his gaze actually being pointed in her direction.
The baby brought her mind back to her when she used her tiny fist to hit Julie's notebook, then snatch a loose page and squeal in delight.
Julie chuckled and held out her hand. "May I have those back, honey?"
The baby just made a happy noise and shook her head, taking the notes and toddling at what she probably considered a run away from Julie.
Julie wasn't sure at that point if she should really get up and chase after someone else's child, but she did need those notes. Would he even notice? That would probably be when he would notice, and then he would assume she was some sort of baby snatcher.
"Baby," Julie said quietly, trying to beckon the little girl back over. "I need those."
The baby merely smiled at Julie and continued to waddle away, waving her fist with the notes in the air.
The baby was getting way too close to the river, Julie decided. Yes, there was a little fence up to keep her from toppling into it, but there was nothing to keep her notes from blowing over into the river should the baby decide to let go, and even the baby could end up getting her arms stuck in the bars.
Throwing one last glance at the father, she saw that now he was turned completely away, going through his briefcase as he continued to talk on the phone.
Julie sighed and rolled her eyes, putting her book and her bag aside on the bench and getting up, walking over toward the baby.
Julie walked with her hand out, hoping to retrieve the notes before the man might notice. "Here, let me see those, please?"
"Please? I have a test in one hour, and I really need those notes, because my teacher said that those were definitely going to be on the test. You seem like a nice girl, you wouldn't want me to fail my test, now would you?"
"Test?" the baby repeated, tilting her little head to the side and looking at the paper.
"Yes, a very important test." She held out her hand again. "Give those to me, please."
"No," she said again. "Mine."
The baby was right there gripping the bars with one hand at that point, so Julie walked over there softly, not wanting to startle her and cause her to let go.
Too late, a strong wind blew and the page flew right out of the baby's hand, flying up and over the fence as if just to spite Julie.
"No," she said, leaning over the fence, trying to catch it, but the page was already heading down toward the river. "No, no, I need those. Come back," she said pointlessly, sighing and stomping her foot a little.
"Test!" the baby squealed, reaching out her arms as if the paper might fly back to her.
Julie was about to focus on her own misery over losing her carefully written notes, but then she saw the baby's little mouth pucker up and her little blue eyes started to well with tears.
"Uh oh," Julie said to herself. "No, no, honey, don't cry, it's okay. They're just silly old notes; it's nothing to cry about."
But the baby didn't seem to agree, as she let go of the bar, fell down on her bottom, shoved her tiny fist half into her mouth and started to cry.
"No, don't cry," Julie said, quickly looking up at the father, who still hadn't noticed, but surely would if the baby started wailing. "Here, I have another test," Julie said, beckoning her over to the bench where she grabbed a piece of paper from her notebook and rushed it over to the baby.
"Test?" the baby questioned, looking at the blank page suspiciously.
"Yep, that's a test just like the other one."
She seemed to think about this for a second as she carefully examined the blank piece of paper in her hand.
All of a sudden Daddy Dearest's phone call must have ended, because he apparently just realized he had misplaced his child.
"Anna!" she heard a bit frantically as he looked behind him at where she had been when he got the phone call.
Julie looked up and the man saw her kneeling down and the baby right there with her, holding up a piece of blank paper to show him.
"Daddy, test!" she told him, holding it up even higher.
Julie saw the look of relief on his face as he came walking over, and she noticed his eyes were brown. A really deep, warm brown, again nothing like the child's.
He flicked a gaze at Julie, probably unsure of why she was over there.
"Daddy, test water," Anna explained, pointing over at the river.
"What?" he asked. "Oh yes, that's the water," he said, misunderstanding her.
"Test go in!" she told him, her little blue eyes widened.
He must not have had any clue what she said, because he merely said, "That's nice. Where did you get this paper?" he asked, prying it out of her fist. He looked up at Julie. "Is this yours?"
"It was," Julie said, flicking a glance back at her stuff on the bench.
He followed her gaze and then offered her a sheepish smile. "I apologize. She has an infatuation lately with taking things that aren't hers," he said, giving Anna a reprimanding look.
Unconcerned, Anna just decided to clap her hands instead.
He unwrinkled the page and offered it back to Julie. "I believe this belongs to you."
"The one I needed is already sleeping with the fishes, but thank you anyway," she said, taking the blank paper.
"I'm sorry, was she bothering you? I didn't mean to—I'm not used to having her during work hours and… still, I'm sorry."
She was trying to decide whether or not she should lecture him on his babysitting skills, but she knew it was really none of her business. On the other hand, someone could steal her someday, so she felt like she had to say something. "I'm not all that worried about the notes, she's just such a sweet little girl, I would hate for her to fall and get hurt, or… for someone untrustworthy to lure her away with a piece of paper while you're on the phone."
She expected him to be insulted, to maybe say something about her minding her own business, so she was a little surprised when he sighed instead and said, "I know, and that's exactly what I tried to tell her mother, why I need her to—I can't work and watch a one-year-old, I'm not that talented."
Julie smiled a bit reluctantly. "I don't think many of us are. Perhaps a babysitter would help?"
"We're trying to find a nanny," he explained, looking down as Anna pulled herself up using his leg and then tugged on Julie's skirt. "No, Anna, don't do that," he said, grabbing her little fist away from Julie's skirt.
"Nana," she said, ignoring her father and going right back to holding onto the hem of Julie's skirt to balance herself, then she smiled up at Julie and started walking again.
"A nanny? That would probably solve the problem."
"It would if her mother would decide one was good enough."
Julie smiled as Anna came back over to her babbling nonsensically. "It would be hard to trust someone else with your child."
As Julie responded to Anna, she felt the man watching her, and it made her squirm a bit and remember the notes she should be getting back to.
"You're good with her," he remarked, still looking at her.
Julie just smiled. "Yeah, I love kids."
Suddenly he was looking at her as if he had just realized she was an important person. "I don't believe I introduced myself; my name is Matt Turner," he said, offering his hand.
"Julie Kingsley," she replied, shaking his hand.
"Do you have experience with children?"
"I babysat a lot in high school and I have a little brother," she said, not sure why he would ask such a strange question.
"This will probably sound very strange, but you wouldn't be looking for a job, would you?"
He was right, that did sound very strange. "Um… what kind of job?" she asked slowly.
"You mean for her?" Julie asked, raising her eyebrows.
He nodded. "You probably won't think much more of my parenting skills for picking a nanny up off the street, but I'm in pretty desperate need, and she seems to like you, so would you be interested in an interview?"
To say she was shocked would be an understatement. Then again, pretty much anything would beat her job, and she wouldn't have to wash her work clothes separately from everything else anymore. Besides, she would have to make as much or more as a nanny than where she worked.
"Um, I've never been a nanny before. I mean, I've babysat on nights and weekends, but…"
"Inexperience can be a good thing," he said. "I can sort of mold you to be the kind of nanny I'm looking for rather than finding someone who's 45 years old and set in their ways." He seemed to be gaining confidence in the idea. "Listen, I only have," he flicked a glance at his watch, "about 15 more minutes, and I still have to drop her off, so I should be going, but if you're interested you could give me your number, maybe we could have lunch or you could come over to our apartment, something like that so we can see if that might be a possibility. I'll need to make sure you have a clean record, of course. I'll need references, the general information."
"Well, I'm perfectly normal, so that shouldn't be a problem," she told him.
He smiled. "You seem perfectly normal. I wouldn't typically offer to give my daughter over to someone I met on a bench, but I have a good feeling about you."
"That's great," she said, trying to wrap her head around it. Then she remembered he had to leave, so she said, "Oh!" and ran over to her notebook, grabbing a pen out of her bag and quickly jotting down her name and phone number on a piece of paper.
"Here you go," she said.
"Would you be available to come over Friday per chance? I know it's short notice," he began.
"I absolutely would. I work at four o'clock Friday, but I don't have any classes, so any time before that would be great."
"You're in school?" he asked.
She nodded. "College. I'm a sophomore."
"Good," he said, offering one last smile.
Anna tugged on his pants again, and he seemed to remember the time. "Oh, I really have to go. I'll be in touch," he told her, scooping up his daughter and picking up his briefcase.
"Okay," she said, offering a little wave.
Julie watched until they were gone, offering a wave at Anna, who watched her with a pleasant smile.
Only when they were out of sight did she remember that she should probably gather her stuff and head to class.
A/N: Just a brief Intro to Julie. I don't know if anyone will like it, but I stumbled back across it and thouoght, "Hey, why not?" Let me know if you'd like to see more! :)