Making Of A Match
"It's only for a couple of days."
"Come on, man. Everything was fine the last time."
He sighs. "Okay, I'll pay for the hotel room."
I can't resist to roll my eyes. "Oh no, Jim, you won't! Mom's definitely old enough to take care of herself. And she can pay for her own hotel just fine."
Jim looks almost hurt now. And worried. "Do you care to tell me why you suddenly have a problem with your Mom staying with us? You nearly begged on your knees the last time."
Ah, Jim. "It's... complicated."
"What in your life isn't? Come on, Sandburg, spill it."
Oh, how I would like to! But not in the middle of the bullpen. Having this little scene here is embarrassing enough already.
"Not now, Jim."
"Blair..." Can Jim Ellison, hard ass, no-nonsense cop, actually make puppy dog eyes? It seems so. My palms begin to sweat.
"Not. Now. Listen, I have to be back at the University in 30 minutes. I'll see you tonight, okay?"
"Okay?!" I have to get out of here!
I turn around and walk out as fast as I can. A big part of me, most prominently my southern anatomy, wants to stay. But I go. Strike one for mind over matter. If Jim only knew...
I smelled the sage already before my keys touched the lock, but still, her pleased greeting and wide smile hit me. More than I thought they could.
"Mom! What are you doing here?" I blurt out and almost regret it when Jim shoots me a look of utter reproach. Mom, of course, doesn't mind or doesn't notice, but jumps up from the couch where she was sitting with Jim - shoulder to shoulder, I might add - and flies over to hug me.
I let myself being hugged, return it slightly and stare over at Jim. If looks could kill, I'd be flat on my back now. His eyes are red because of the sage, but he doesn't seem too bad off.
"All the hotels were booked solid, there's some kind of convention in town. So I agreed to let her stay here."
I start counting to twenty in my mind, trying to keep calm. English, French, Spanish, Greek. It doesn't help. I thought we were deciding essential things like who we had staying overnight together, but Jim's posture clearly tells me he thinks differently. It's his loft after all, so I'm in no position to complain.
I have to get this off my chest. "Jim?"
Mom grabs my hands and starts pulling me towards the living room. "Sweetie, you look tired. Why don't you sit down with us? I made tongue."
So she did. And by the looks of the plates on the couch table - by the way, we never eat dinner on the couch - they already had a good helping of it. Along with wine. The 50$ bottle of Pinot Noir I had stacked away for special occasions. My neck hairs start to rise.
"She also brought beautiful afghans for our beds." He points over to my room and I see a colorful bundle lying at the foot of my futon. A matching bundle peaks through the rail of Jim's bedroom. How sweet.
"They'll look even nicer once I rearranged your rooms. I can't believe how you two..."
I wince at the sudden silence that follows my shout and stare into two shocked faces. But I'm too far gone to care. "Elevator. Now."
Jim's eyes darken, but he understands and I turn around, smile sweetly at Mom, tear at the doorknob and stalk out into the hallway. "What's going on?" I hear Mom ask somewhere behind me and Jim answers it with a calm "We'll be right back, Naomi." I thump my clenched fist against the wall all the way to the elevator while behind me, the loft's door slides shut.
Jim beats me to the elevator and punches the call button repeatedly. Good, that gives me more time to try and get my act together. Jim's hand clenches around my shoulder and I shrug out of it with a sideways stare.
There haven't been many times in my life when I felt angry enough to nearly erupt like a volcano. Anger or even rage normally aren't emotions I have to deal with. But sometimes, things surpass even my pretty high threshold. I go ballistic, literally. It's not a pretty sight and Jim's been the only one so far not to be intimidated by it. He grabs me, shoves me into the nearest elevator, puts it on hold and lets me ramble, rage, cry, punch the walls, whatever is necessary to bring me down again.
I love him for that. Amongst other things.
With a soft bing, the elevator announces its arrival and Jim grabs the swing door before I might take it off its hinges. He shoves me in, switches the car to hold as soon as the door closes behind us and crosses his arms over his chest.
"From the top, buddy."
I draw in a deep breath and let loose. "She invites herself to stay, not accepting no for an answer. She doesn't take care of accommodation, knowing full well you'll let her stay here and takes advantage of that. She waltzes in here, overturns every house rule ever made, she rearranges the furniture..."
"She hasn't done that yet."
"Don't. Interrupt. Me."
No, he still doesn't look intimidated, but he nods his head silently.
"She rearranges the furniture, essentially makes herself at home and she does all this even after I asked her not to! I don't think she would accept that behavior from me, but I'm supposed to take it. I'm supposed to take my crackpot mother the way she is!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Crackpot?"
Shit, I really said that? Sorry, Mom! Rambling is good, though. The pressure in my head is almost back to normal again. I wince and mouth a wordless 'sorry' in Jim's direction and he rolls his eyes.
"May I?" he asks and I nod.
"First of all, you're right with your complains. She did waltz in here, but I invited her to stay. I thought you'd like to spend some time with your mother and I know you do, so that can't be all."
Yep, there is a reason why Jim made detective.
"She likes you." I keep it vague and hope he catches my drift, but of course, he doesn't.
"So what? I like her as well and you like her, too."
"No, Jim. She. Likes. You."
"I dont... I... oh." You have to see his face to really believe it. Realization knocks into him like a sledgehammer and he almost swerves for a moment. "Oh." He looks over to where the loft is, back to me, back over to the loft and I decide to aim for the home stretch.
"And I like you, too."
My words float between us for a while and I watch Jim closely, his expression changing from shock to surprise to utter anguish. I sink against the cool metal behind me and rake my fingers through my hair. I fucked this up. I chose the worst possible moment for that confession. Were there any vacancies in the morning paper? I can't remember. Maybe Brad will let me stay for a few days, he still owes me. God, I can't believe...
"You like me?" I look up and to my surprise, there are tears in the corners of Jim's eyes. Eyes that gleam with... is that joy? "You're not kidding me?"
"I like you." I repeat. And softer, "I love you."
He moves forward, staggering, and his hands land on the wall over my shoulders. We're almost nose to nose and it's hard to resist leaning into him. Really hard. He closes his eyes, clearly composing himself and when he opens them again, I can see the truth long before he starts to whisper. "Would it be okay for me to like you back?"
Okay? Okay?!? My heart stutters, stops and then nearly jumps out of my chest. And then, our lips meet for the first time. And I don't want it to stop. Never. Not in this lifetime.
"Jim? Blair? Are you two okay?"
Startled, we move apart and immediately begin to giggle like some caught-in-the-act teenagers. Which is pretty much like I feel right now. And Jim probably too, judging from the red that creeps into his face."We're okay, Mom." -- "We'll be out in a minute, Naomi."
We breathe in deeply, quenching the hysterics and Jim cups my cheek to wipe away a wayward tear that I didn't even feel before. "Okay?" I simply nod.
"Want me to find her a room somewhere?" I nod again.
His fingers touch mine and it seems so normal to hold hands with Jim. As if we never did anything else.
It's official now. Blair Sandburg is taken.
Jim phoned whoever he could think of, but to no avail. There simply weren't any beds available in or around Cascade. Somewhere along the line, Mom bought a clue though. It might have been the looks Jim and I shared frequently. Or motherly instinct. Or a combination of both.
Suddenly, she announced she forgot that friend in Portland she promised to visit and in 5 minutes flat, she had her belongings packed and was on her way out. When we said good-bye, she squeezed me for a long time, not saying a word. Jim and I shared a look over her shoulder and when she whispered a soft "Be happy.", clearly only intended for my ears, we both smiled like idiots.
That's my Mom for you.
Jim only got a curt peck on the cheek. She'll get over it, eventually.
The afghans are beautiful. Mine will go to Goodwill, along with the futon, though. Looks like I won't need it anymore.
We still haven't agreed on the future use of my former bedroom. Jim wanted a guest room, just like he had before I moved in. But I refused. Whoever stays overnight can take the couch. Not that there will be any overnight guests for a long time coming. I so don't need an audience. It's enough that the neighbors hear us.
I want an office or a library. Jim wants a couch in it and maybe I'll agree. You never know where inspiration might hit you.
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