Chapter 9

Jennifer couldn't even keep track of how long she sat there, staring after where Peter had flown away and wiping angrily at her eyes without even thinking. Somewhere in the background, she could hear a voice trying to comfort her, to calm her down, but she wouldn't have any of it. Nothing he said could make her feel better.

They had been dancing, and twirling, and nothing had seemed off. For the first time since her arrival on the island, she and Peter had been able to stand each other's presence for more than a few seconds without fighting. And she had definitely liked the feeling.

She wasn't sure why she was so angry, or so sad, or so anything at the moment, since she had been the one to demand that she be taken back to James's ship. And after all, Peter had fulfilled that request, so she should have been happy…right?

"What the bloody hell is going on here?"

Finally, it was Smee's voice, and not James's, that broke through her tears and made her pay attention. She turned towards him, bleary eyed and puffy cheeked. "What?"

"What is wrong with you?" he cried, his dark eyes widening as he took in the sight of her tear-stained cheeks. "You look as if you just saw a fairy die!"

Sniffling, Jennifer finally managed to pull herself to her feet, although her knees still felt a little like Jell-O. "I'm fine. It's nothing."

He looked skeptical at best. "Doesn't look like nothing."

Frustration. On top of everything else, Smee was quickly frustrating her, which just added to her hopeless attitude. "I said I'm fine," she said through gritted teeth. "Just leave me alone."

James held out a hand towards Smee, warning him to listen. At another moment, Jennifer would have laughed. It was obvious that both men knew very well how dangerous a woman could be in an emotional state like the one she was in now.

Nodding in understanding, Smee slowly backed away until his hip hit the railing to the stairwell, where he quickly turned and ran down the steps.

Jennifer tiredly turned to James and stared expectantly, waiting for the inevitable questions. What did he do to you? What did he mean? What were you doing with him?

But none came. Instead, James crossed the short distance between them in one long stride and folded her into his arms, pressing her firmly against his chest.

Which was, in theory, a good move on his part. In practice, however, it only brought forth a brand new torrent of emotion. Damn, she thought. This was the most emotion she had shown in a year; twelve months of barely a laugh or a tear, and her she was, crying twice in the short span of only about two hours. This was not like her at all.

With a lot of thought, Jennifer eventually fought for control of her emotions and wrestled her tears to a stop without stepping from James's arms.

"Now do you want to explain that?" he asked softly.

No. That was her first instinct. Just dodge the question and keep feeling inside like usual. Things didn't hurt as much that way.

But she owed it to James to tell at least part of the truth. He was the only one in Neverland who hadn't done a single thing to make her suspicious of him. So she took a deep breath and stepped away from him, leaning onto the ship's side and gazing out towards the open sea.

"I don't know what came over me," she began uncertainly. "I mean, we fight nonstop. Peter and I. I can't seem to do anything right when I'm around him, since he's always pissed off. But we were just dancing in Pixie Hollow

"I just wanted…actually, I'm not sure what I wanted," she lied. "But the next thing I know, he's walking away. So I demanded that he bring me here if he didn't want me around. Obviously, I was right."

She took a deep, shuddering breath as the breeze kicked up a notch, rushing the sea air up to meet her face. She didn't dare turn her head, but without looking, she knew James was approaching again. The sound of his boots thumped against the deck reassuringly. Then without warning, his arms wrapped around her waist once again.

"He's an idiot," he whispered into her ear, sending a shiver down her spine.

But almost immediately, she pushed any of those feelings from her head and shoved herself away from him. Her hormones were going haywire, and the last thing she needed was to get romantically involved with either guy. She'd already learned her lesson on that front.

Glancing back at him, mentally preparing herself for the hurt expression on his face, she was surprised when he wasn't looking at her at all. He gripped the side of the ship in his hands, staring out at the water just as she had been, his jaw set stubbornly.

"I'm sorry," he said, hesitating slightly. "For that. It was uncalled for, and not a very gentlemanly thing to do."

Right away, she could feel herself melting with his words. There was no way she could deny what she was feeling, and right now, she was feeling an intense pull towards him. Slowly, she stepped closer to him, reaching out a tentative hand to rest it on his shoulder.

He breathed out harshly through his nose, flinching as her hand came in contact with his shoulder. "You don't have to do that," he said lowly, his voice full of remorse. "I don't have that right; it was the wrong thing to do."

Her heart ached as he spoke, and she inched closer to him. Then on an impulse, she quickly pressed a kiss to his cheek, startling him. As he turned his head with a look of surprise, she smiled and grabbed his hand. "Thank you. I needed to hear that. You're right. He is an idiot."

In that moment, any awkwardness between them vanished as quickly as it had appeared. He grinned back at her, using his hold on her hand to pull her back to him, holding her as close as possible.

"Any man who doesn't think you are the most beautiful girl on this island is an idiot," he continued, caressing her cheek with his free hand. Then she tilted her chin up, closing her eyes and seeking his mouth.

The moment their lips met, warmth spread to her fingertips where they rested on his chest. For the second time that night, she gave herself to sensation, to emotions. Let them carry her wherever they pleased.

His lips were soft and pliable on hers, his teeth tugging gently on her full bottom lip. That's all she could feel. James. His kindness, his warmth, his amazing kiss.

Whatever little piece of her heart Peter had just broken seemed to disappear. It didn't mend itself, but it didn't hurt anymore. Finally, she felt…normal. For the first time in a year. She let her hands tangle in his thick, dark hair as she deepened the kiss, parting her lips as the passion consumed her.

Then all of a sudden, he was wrenching himself away from her, breathing heavily as he gazed at her. For that brief moment, her heart sunk and she felt ready to burst into tears once again.

"I am a gentleman," he breathed, straightening out his coat. "And as a gentleman, I must insist that we say goodnight, before we do something in the heat of the moment that we might regret in the morning."

And she couldn't help herself. A short laugh bubbled up from her chest and escaped her lips before she could stop it. He cocked his head to one side, obviously confused, which only amused her further. "I'm sorry. It's just that…I was worried for a second that I was getting rejected twice in one night. And then you said something so completely sweet."

He smiled, finally understanding. "I'm glad you think me sweet," he replied, stepping back to her and taking her hand. "But really, I cannot bring myself to treat you as an object of lust. And so, goodnight, my lady." With that, he brought her hand to his lips, pressed a quick kiss there, and gently walked away, leaving her alone on deck to find her way back to the guest room.

And also, to contemplate what the hell had just happened.

Sure, she was intensely attracted to him. Like a mosquito to a bug zapper, she just couldn't stay away. Not that she even wanted to.

But kissing two guys in one night? Well, at least trying to kiss two guys in one night and succeeding at one. It wasn't something she was used to. At all. She'd barely even had a boyfriend in three years, and now all of a sudden she was trying to kiss every guy she met?

It all gave her a headache just thinking about it. She ran her fingers through her hair, resting her hands at her temples as she stared one last moment at the moons before calmly deciding to go to bed. Maybe while she slept, she would dream up a solution to this conundrum of hers.

A/N: Okay, this is a shorty. And I'm well aware that this is MUCH overdue. For that I apologize. It's been a little crazy at college, both emotionally and mentally, so cranking this chapter out was a little difficult. And I just couldn't keep going on this chapter. I need a new start, so I needed to wrap this chapter up before anything else happened. I just couldn't subject my Jennifer to too much in one day. She deserves a little bit of a break. Anyway, I am going to be starting NaNoWriMo tomorrow, so these updates might get even a little more sporadic, but stick with me, because hopefully at the end of the month, there will be a new story to make up for it! Wish me luck, and enjoy!