Chapter 3

So they gave it a try. By "dating" to start – going out to dinner, attending plays (with Jayda working on getting Gary to agree to try auditioning for shows again), and having dinner with Jayda's family. Gary continued to show up at Step Up! Studios to watch Jayda work and she came by the bike shop to visit Gary in his work place too.

He had moved into a small apartment over the bike shop about a year earlier. It was a bit of a dump but since Jayda was living at home it made sense to have his place serve as their primary hang out place.

Jayda added her own touches to Gary's boring apartment but she had yet to spend the night and although the two had shared their first real kiss (and several more) they hadn't taken their relationship to the next stage. Jayda was fully aware of her history of jumping in the sack with any guy who paid attention to her and Gary was happy to take it slow knowing sleeping together would be a huge step for the both of them.

"I used to think sex was love but now I know that you can still love somebody without the sex being the first step," Jayda told him over dinner one night.

Gary noticed that Jayda was much calmer and relaxed now, more even keeled and less dramatic than in her high school days.

"It's the meds," she'd joke, although she let him know that she was taking psychological drugs to help her maintain her disposition and prevent her from experiencing the highs and lows that bi-polar disorders could bring.

Gary found himself smiling a lot more these days even with the occasional soreness in his jaw lingering from the bike accident. He loved it when Jayda stopped by to watch a movie with him at the apartment, curling up against him on the couch with affection. They both felt safe in those moments, the sort of thing they might have done together in high school if Jayda's circumstances had been different. Gary felt like he had been given the rare gift of re-doing high school in a (better) way even though those years were long gone.

Gary was asleep late one night when he felt a presence in the apartment. He opened his eyes to have a flashback to that night in the hospital when he was confused about whether or not Jayda was there because – just like that time – he saw the image of Jayda standing in the shadows of his dim bedroom and for a moment he didn't know if it was real or not.

"Jayda?" He asked, trying to adjust his eyes. "Are you here?"

She stepped closer to the bed and leaned in, close enough that he felt her breath on his face. "It is I," she confirmed. "I let myself in. I hope you don't mind."

"I don't mind your bedside manners at all," he smiled, thinking of that first night in the hospital when all this started anew.

She came closer still, her hair falling in his face and she gave him a soft kiss. "Can I spend the night?" She asked hopefully.

At first Gary thought he had stopped breathing – or maybe he simply forgot how to breathe. He had imagined this moment forever and now it was here. She kissed him again and he loved the taste and texture of her lips. He was momentarily dizzy, much like he was in the hospital from the drugs and the injury but on this night Gary knew it was because Jayda was (apparently) about to join him in his bed. Or maybe her kiss made him feel dizzy. Or maybe it was because he had forgotten how to breathe!

"Relax," Jayda whispered, kneeling on the side of the bed, leaning in and kissing him again.

Gary lifted his hand and stroked her hair and Jayda reached down and brushed his hair from his bangs just like in the hospital. Then she hopped over him and rolled onto her back, lying on the mattress next to him. She lifted her legs up into the air and Gary realized she was removing her baggy pants and her panties and now she was naked from the waist down as she rolled onto her side facing him.

"I think you're going to like my bedside manner," she giggled.

Gary might have thought it was all a dream just like in the hospital if he hadn't awakened at dawn to find Jayda still in the bed, cuddled against him under the sheet, both of them naked and there was no doubt that it was all real, that there was no confusing vision or fantasy, and that her bedside manners had been everything he hoped they would be.

Gary smiled knowing they had both overcome the past and now he was pleasantly overwhelmed with the present, a happy presence of the only girl he ever loved. He looked forward to experiencing her bedside manners on most nights, hoping she would agree to move in with him to begin their new journey on a new stage.

Jayda opened her eyes and she saw Gary staring at her with a look of amazed wonderment in his eyes.

"Good morning, Laurence," she smiled. "I think I like your bedside manner too!"