Learning from Wisdom
Jared opened the door to the small room of the Motel he and Julia had just checked-in. Their rental car had broken down two miles from the cheap accommodation in the middle of nowhere. Ironically enough this was the only room available. Julia and Jared had been sent to Montana to take the statement of a witness in one of their current cases. Unfortunately the cowboy named Joe Connell was on a cattle drive and so they had to drive through almost whole Montana to find him. And if that wasn’t bad enough he had looked like one of the guys from a commercial spot on TV and had been flirting bluntly with Julia through the whole interrogation. But what had Jared really pissed off was that Julia apparently seemed to enjoy it.
They still hadn’t talked about what happened in the last year. With Joe and Stephanie out of the picture one would think that things would become easier but they still barely spoke to one another and now this:
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Max exclaimed when she looked into the small room over Jared’s shoulder. In the middle stood a small bed which barley held space for two grown-ups least of all when these two grown-ups were not exactly on speaking terms.
“I’ll go and asked for another room,” Jared said and was gone before she could stop him.
“It’s useless,” she mumbled to herself and inspect the room further. After all it seemed to be clean she noticed and in the bathroom she found even fresh towels and a shower that seemed to be built in recently. She put her suitcase on the bed and searched for her night gown. She was planning to call it an early night in a desperate try to avoid the awkward small talk with Jared or even worse the uncomfortable silence. She knew that all of this wasn’t just his fault but if she would make a list enumerating all the moments where he had messed up big time, she would only be able to see his red tail lights. She wished so desperately that things would improve. Everything was better than this silence. But she didn’t felt like making the first step. He had hurt her and she was not sure if she was over it just yet. She was interrupted in her thoughts when Jared stepped back into the room.
“There’s no other room,” he sighed helpless and let his gaze wander through the room in search of a place where he could spent the night but to his despair there was not even an armchair in which he could have settled down. “I’ll just take the floor,” he shrugged and was about to take his pillow when Julia stopped him.
“This is ridiculous Jared. I know things are not at its best between us, but if you believe that I let you sleep on this floor and hurting your back and then have you complaining all day long about it, you’re wrong,” she forced herself to smile which didn’t reached her eyes.
It didn’t go unnoticed by Jared and he knew that she was only offering it because it would be barbarous to let him sleep on the ground. He let his hand ran through his hair and nodded in approval knowing that it was no use arguing about it with her.
While Julia got ready for bed Jared decided that he had to flee the tension and went for a run. It helped him clear his head. He took a deep breath and then headed down a small forest trail. The early night air was mild and somehow light and he felt himself relax. He knew they couldn’t go on like this, but he was too afraid to approach the topic. Julia’s engagement to Joe had made it crystal clear to him what he felt for her but still it was hard for him to express these feelings. Why was it so hard to just go to her and tell her what he felt? Without thinking of the consequences? Of course there where work issues but if he was honest to himself he knew that there would always be a way for them to work things out with the Admiral and that it was only a convenient excuse for him not to take things to the next level. Maybe this was the reason? Taking things to the next level with Julia would mean to take things to the ultimate level. He knew that there would be no turning back. It would mean to go all-in. Was he ready for this?
Without really knowing he ended up in front the Motel again and strolled slowly back to take a shower. Julia was already in bed reading one of the many books she used to take with her on every trip. She looked up shortly when he entered the room before she had her eyes fixed on the book again. Somehow hurt he went into the bathroom and stepped under the warm flush of water and just stopped thinking for awhile. When he returned from his shower Julia had already switched of the lights and appeared to be fast asleep. What Jared didn’t notice that she secretly watched him walk through the room wearing only a pair of boxers. Just for a second she let her gaze linger on his muscular chest and then let it wander upwards to his ruffled hair. He looked scrumptious. And she suddenly regretted that she offered him half of the bed. As angry as she was with him and about their situation it wouldn’t be easy to spent the night beside this gorgeous man in this small bed, not touching him.
He turned around and she closed her eyes quickly and felt him slip under the cover being suddenly unbearably near. She tried to relax but had no success. She felt his presence the warmth that radiated from his body, his unique smell mixed with the scent of his shower gel.
Jared on the other side had to deal with the same misery, she was so close that if he moved an inch he would be touching her, she smelled of chocolate and something special that was uniquely Julia. He imagined her soft skin, knowing that this was the worst he could do right now, but with her being so near he just couldn’t help it.
At some point during the night it happened, his arms slipped around her waist and pulled her close. Julia was suddenly wide awake unlike Jared who was soundly asleep. For a second she thought about pushing him away but then gave in to the feeling of total security. Never had it felt more right to lie in a men’s arms and she decided to be selfish just for a while and enjoy it knowing it would be over in the morning when reality would hit her hard.
When Julia awoke the next morning she felt his absence. His strong arms that had held her through the night were gone. She sighed. She was more disappointed than she wanted to be. Wondering if he had released her during the night without knowing what had happened or if he had crept out in the early morning hour hoping that she hadn’t notice. One way or the other it didn’t make any difference to her. She slowly started to accept the fact that he would never come around his feelings for her if they were still there after all. She decided to get up to take a shower. He would return anyway sooner or later.
Meanwhile Jared was talking to the guy from the garage which was located a good three miles north of the Motel. When he had realized what he had done during the night he had felt the immediate urge to bring as much space between him and Julia as possible. She would kill him if she was ever to find out. He had no idea how it had happened. It had sacred him as so many other things when it came down to his feelings, when on the other hand it felt so good. He had decided to do what he always did when his feelings were in tumult, running. And so he had ended up in front of the garage where they had left the car the other night.
“I could fix the problem at least for now,” the mechanic told him, “You should be okay until you reach the car rental. But tell them to check the wires I didn’t have the right spare parts so I had to improvise.”
Jared paid for the repairs and drove to the diner they had seen on their way which was close to the Motel. He had the perfect idea to brighten Julia’s mood.
Julia was just stepping out of the bathroom only covered in a towel, when Jared returned. He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw her standing in the middle of the room. Her hair still wet and one drop of water slowly making its way down her neck and then her cleavage. He swallowed and with pure will power managed to meet her eyes in which he could see indignation and to his surprise also amusement.
“I brought breakfast,” he finally stuttered, a foolish grin on his face.
“Good, I’ll just get changed,” she said and for the first time in what felt like ages to him she smiled. Not one of those forced smiles but the kind that lit her eyes in this sparkling way.
She returned five minutes later and since they had no table or chairs they sat on the bed. Jared handed her a cup of coffee and a muffin and couldn’t help but laugh when she nearly gulped it down in one bite.
“I’ll take it you’re hungry,” he said and received a nod.
“Starving! Where did you get these?” she asked reaching for one of the donuts in the box.
“I got the car from the garage,” he started to explain.
“Oh so it’s fixed?” she looked up at him.
“Sort of,” Jared frowned. “The owner told me it should be okay to reach our destination.” He took another bite from his muffin before he continued, “And then I drove back to that Diner we saw on our way through, to feed my hungry marine.” The words were out before he could stop them he glanced up at Julia to see if she had notice but she kept on eating like nothing had happened.
Truth was she had heard it loud and clearly but was too shocked to act on it. He hadn’t used these words in a long time and although she didn’t want to allow it they warmed her heart.
They were nearly done packing when Julia’s phone rang. She picked it up and answered a big smile suddenly playing around her lips.
“Well hello to you too, Joe,” this caught Jared’s attention immediately and he suddenly felt the urge to snap the phone out of her hand and to tell the guy what he thought about him. But of course he didn’t say a word he just listened to Julia’s conversation with this cowboy. Julia ended the call after what felt an eternity and looked into Jared’s piercing eyes.
“What?!” she asked already starting to get angry. She knew this look! It meant trouble.
“Ah nothing,” he said sounding like a huffy school girl.
“Yeah sure,” she hissed and grabbed her bag.
“You know that’s your problem,” he suddenly said while throwing the last item into his bag with more force than necessary.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” she asked angrily.
“You just throw yourself at men! Whenever there is a guy who is the slightest bit attracted to you, you’re hooked,” he waved his hands about in a desperate manner.
“Excuse me? Who are you to judge me?! “ she couldn’t believe they were having this conversation again. “You’re so selfish! You’re acting like this all the time. Every time a man shows interest you act like a dog who tries to keep someone off his patch. Well to your information Mr. Jared Smith I’m not your patch. I’m so tired of this. You can’t just push me around like this. Making reproaches as soon as a man is interested and the minute they’re gone you act like nothing has happened,” she was furious now.
He just sat there and stared at her not knowing what to respond. How could he have been so stupid? Why had he brought this up?
“You know what Jared it’s like on that night, out on the Admiral’s porch. You make easy things complicated and you know what I’m done with this, for once and for all.” She gestured in between the two of them, “There are men out there. Men who are attracted to me and I’m done with you telling me that there is something wrong about it!”
She grabbed her bag again and the car keys and was out of the room before Jared could say anything. He sat for a while on the bed before he followed her outside, being sure that she waited outside in the car. But when he arrived in the parking lot the car and Julia were gone.
He tried to call her but she didn’t answer. He couldn’t believe she had left standing in the middle of nowhere.
“Damn it!” Jared barked and threw his bag into the dusty sand. “I can’t believe it!” he muttered to himself and paced the parking lot. Somehow he hoped that she was just playing with him and would come back any minute but after he waited for another thirty minutes he finally knew that she was gone. “You’re an idiot, Jared Smith!” he ranted at himself and picked up his bag making his way back to the lobby.
“How do I get to Helena?” Jared asked not very friendly.
The man behind the desk looked at him confused, “I thought your car had been repaired.”
“Yes, but my partner had to head into other direction. An urgent affair,” Jared lied and let out a sarcastic laugh when he noticed the ambiguity.
“Well there’s a bus service from here to Lower Valley-Somers. There you can take the six o’clock train to Helena. The bus should be here in fifteen minutes.”
Jared nodded, “Thank you!” He stepped back outside looking into the clear blue sky. He still couldn’t believe that she had left him here. That was so unlike Julia. He had pissed her off more than once before, but this time it must have been really bad. But then again, how was he to know that she hadn’t drove back to meet this Joe. After all he had no idea what the two had actually talked about yesterday on the phone. He started pacing the parking lot again. Probably she had planed all this. She had never had the intention to drive back with him to Helena. He knew himself that this was ridiculous but he was so into his rage that he didn’t care.
Finally he saw the bus coming up the dusty street and he picked up his bag. He just wanted to get out of here. The bus was dirty and the air condition out of order. Jared sat in the last row and just stared out of the window. For a second he thought about calling her again, he fumbled with his phone for a while but he knew that she wouldn’t pick up
and frankly he had no idea what to tell her.
Five hours later Jared jumped out of the bus and stepped onto the station platform. He had to wait for another three hours for the train and let himself fall onto one of the benches that were placed in front of the small railway station. He heard someone chuckle and turned his head to his right. He hadn’t notice the elder woman that sat on the bench next to him, he cocked and eyebrow in a questioning manner when he saw her amused face.
“You look like a desperate man,” she said and smiled.
“That kind of hits the nail on the head,” Jared replied and looked back onto the tracks.
“You know I often come here to think,” she said not bothering if he was listening or not, “It helps me to sort things out and to understand.”
“I don’t think I will ever understand them,” Jared stated.
“Who is them?” she asked.
“Women,” Jared sighed.
“Ah, I thought so,” she smiled. “Women in general or one in particular?”
He had no idea why he was telling her this, a total stranger but he had to let it out, “Oh there is one very special that I have enormous difficulties to understand.”
“I tell you a secret,” the woman said while moving from her bench to Jared’s and sitting down right next to him. “We’re not that hard to understand. You just have to listen.”
Jared let out a sarcastic laugh, “Yeah, sure! You know I do listen, but it just makes no sense to me.”
“Maybe she waits for you to say something,” the woman looked at him.
Jared shrugged his shoulders not knowing what to say, “It seems that all I say is wrong!”
“Ah, I see. So, do you love her?”
Jared turned around surprised, “What makes you think that this is about love?” he asked.
“Well what are we talking about if it’s not love?” she asked back.
“It’s complicated,” Jared tried to avoid the topic.
“No, actually it’s not. It’s indeed very simple. You love her or not. The rest might be complicated but love itself is very simple,” she said and knew that she hit the right spot, because Jared just stared at the tracks, his mind racing.
What was it about this woman that she seemed to have the power to read him like an open book? Never had he talked about his feelings like this not even to his closest friends or his mom. He thought about what she had said. Was it really that simple?
“I love her,” he heard himself suddenly say and then look into the smiling face of that old lady.
“You see it’s simple, maybe that’s what she’s waiting for. Maybe she waits for you to tell her and not an old woman on a bench in front of a railway station in the middle of nowhere,” she laughed.
“Still it’s complicated. Our carriers, one of us would definitely have to change,” he stopped in the middle of sentence sensing that again he was going to be proved wrong.
“For me that sounds like an excuse, because you’re actually afraid of something else,” she said and studied him carefully.
“I’m not afraid,” Jared defended himself.
“We both know you are. Work is not waiting for you when you come home from a long day. It’s not giving you comfort when you need it; it’s not going to take care of you when you are old and gray. So what are you afraid of?”
Jared sighed. He could as well admit it, “What if it’s not going to work out. I don’t know what to do if I was ever to lose her.”
“And what is your guarantee right now that you’re not losing her?”
“Well she’s my best friend,” Jared answered.
“I tell you something. I had a friend. Mathild and I had known each other since we were little kids. She’d been my best friend for almost sixty years until we had a very stupid fight about nothing actually. I never talked to her again in the next ten years until I found an old picture of the two of us and decided that it was really stupid to throw away sixty years of friendship because of something I could hardly remember. When I knocked at her door that evening her husband opened and told me that she had died two weeks ago. She had cancer and I didn’t even knew it. You know life is out there waiting and you’ll never know what it holds for you when you don’t grab it by the collar and see what’s waiting out there for you. If you love her and if she could be your special someone then you have to take the chance, you owe it to all the people who don’t meet someone in their entire life who is that special,” she placed her hand on his knee and smiled, “Think about it!”
She got up because the train was slowly rolling into the station and she was already waving at a young man who was looking out of one of the windows.
“My grandson,” she explained to Jared who stood at her side now.
“So will you think about it?” she looked at him once more.
“I guess I have enough time on my way home,” he smiled and offered her his hand. “Thank you,” he meant it.
“Don’t thank me. Do something about it,” she said and squeezed his hand gently. “Good luck!”
Jared got on the train his mind already made up. He would do something and hope that it was not too late.
Jared made a quick stop at his apartment when he finally got home a day later. He jumped under the shower and grabbed a pair of fresh jeans and a white shirt and was out of his apartment in less than twenty minutes. He couldn’t remember a day when he had been this nervous. This would change everything. One way or the other. Finally he pulled into the parking lot in front of Julia’s apartment. He looked up and was relieved to see that the lights in her apartment were on. He stepped out into the hot evening air. It was in the middle of August and it was one of the hottest days of the year. It was like the city was in a fever. And right now it started to rain buckets. Still the air didn’t cool down and Jared hurried to take cover.
Julia was searching through her cabinet for the dark green summer dress that she loved so much. She had forced herself not to think about Jared or about the fight they had. She was determined to let this all behind. She had meant it when she said she was done with it and true to her word she had called Tom Patterson, a nice, good looking man that she had met on a friend’s party. She did had no intention to call him when he gave her his number about six weeks ago but now she thought it was just the right thing to do.
“Ah, there you are!” she exclaimed and pulled out the dress she had been looking for. She put it on and looked once more into the mirror. She was satisfied. She looked good but not as if she was trying too hard. She heard a knock on the door and was wondering who it could be. She would meet Tom at the restaurant. She opened the door and looked into his face. She felt the strong urge to smash the door shut in his face, but knew that she had to get out sooner or later and he would be still there waiting for her.
He was drenched from the short way from his car to her building and just for a second her view lingered on his shirt that was clutched against his muscular chest.
“What do you want?” she asked and grabbed her purse and her keys, making it obvious that she wanted to leave.
“Talk,” Jared said and stayed put in her door way. She looked stunning in her dress and he couldn’t help himself but watch her intently.
“There’s nothing to talk about. I said what I had to say and now I have to go,” she stated and pushed him out of her doorway to lock her door.
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I don’t think that this is any of your business,” she hissed and took the stairs to get down to her car.
“Julia, I need to talk to you!” he said again, sounding more desperate now.
“For what purpose? To insult me a bit more? To give me a lecture about my love life? No, I don’t think I’m interested in that,” she said and stepped out into the rain. “Damn it!” she exclaimed looking skywards. She started to run towards her car and Jared knew that he had to do something now or she would be gone.
“I love you!” he called out through the rain.
She stopped dead in her tracks but didn’t turn around, “What?” her voice was barely a whisper.
“I love you,” he said again but didn’t move, while the rain poured down on them.
“Why are you telling me this?” she asked, sounding angry, still not turning around because she didn’t want him to see all the emotions that were running through her mind right now and which were also evident in her face.
“What?” now it was Jared who was confused.
“Why are you telling me this? To justify your actions and then to turn me down again, because it’s complicated?” she asked, tears running down her face that he didn’t see.
“I’m telling you this because it’s true. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life wondering what could have been. I want you, Julia. No buts. No complications we can’t deal with. I want us,” he said and hoped that she would show any kind of reaction.
“What changed,” she asked.
“I realized that you were right. Love is actually a very simple thing,” he said quietly and reached for her shoulder to turn her around and now saw her tears that mixed with the rain drops and was afraid that his declaration of love came too late.
“Say it again,” she whispered and suddenly he understood her without having to ask twice.
“I love you,” he said and smiled. “I want to be with you and I want it all, the whole package!”
A second later her lips where on his, his arms encircled her waist and pulled her close. They didn’t care about the rain that was still falling steadily down on them; all that mattered was two of them. When they broke apart breathless, she cupped his face with her hands and looked at him like she had never done before. Suddenly her phone rang and she rummaged through her purse to get it out.
“Cote?” she answered and then blushed a bit. “Tom, yes I’m sorry!”
Jared eyed her curiously and she couldn’t help but stifle a small laugh.
“You know Tom, something turned up surprisingly and I think it’s something permanent as well. I’m sorry. Yes bye,” she ended the call and let the phone fall back into her purse.
“Tom?” he frowned.
“Not important anymore,” she smiled. “So where were we?” she grinned and placed her hands back where they had been a minute ago. “I love you, too. You coward,” she smiled and placed a soft kiss on his lips.
“I’m not a coward anymore,” he grinned and picked her up to carry her back into the house.
Six month later
Six month later
“Where are we going?” Julia laughed and looked out the window. They drove down one of the endless highways of Montana.
“I thought we pay cowboy Joe a visit,” Jared smirked and stopped the car in front of the railway station of Lower-Valley-Somers. The whole country was covered with a blanket of snow which was glistening in the winter sun.
“Where are you going?” Julia asked surprised, when Jared jumped out of the car.
“I’ll be right back,” he promised and disappeared into a small shop on the other side of the station.
“Okay it’s only three miles down the road, he smiled and he started the engine again.
“What is three miles down the road?” she asked getting more and more curious.
“It’s a surprise,” Jared grinned. “I think my wife needs to learn to be more patient.”
“I’m the most patient woman in the world. I waited for you, didn’t I?” she looked at him.
He leant over and kissed her, “That you did. And I couldn’t be more grateful for it.”
Jared stopped the car in front of an old farm house and helped Julia out of the car.
“Who lives here?” she asked and looked around.
“A woman of great wisdom,” he said and knocked on the door.
Seconds later the door swung open and Jared met the eyes of the old lady. At first she looked irritated but then she recognized him.
“It’s you,” she smiled and opened the door wider. “Come on in.
“I wanted to introduce you to someone,” Jared smiled and pulled Julia close. “This is my wife, Julia!”
“So you listened?” she asked and nodded satisfied. She offered Julia her hand. “I’m Rose.”
They stayed for the afternoon and Rose told Julia about her encounter with Jared and what she had told him. When they said their goodbyes, Julia embraced the elder woman and whispered, “Thank you!”
Back in the car and on their way to their finally destination where they would spent their honeymoon Julia studied her husband intently.
“What?” he asked and looked at her.
“Nothing, I just wondered if I should call you a man of wisdom now,” she smiled.
“I think time will tell,” Jared smiled back and took her hand in his. He was more than happy that he finally had stopped being a coward and was rewarded with more happiness than he ever thought possible.