|Once in a Lifetime
Author: minervanyx PM
A Cooper Barrett / Georgie Jones story. Totally AU. ON HIATUS.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Georgie J. & Coop - Chapters: 2 - Words: 4,280 - Reviews: 7 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 5 - Updated: 06-08-09 - Published: 03-11-09 - id: 4917381
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
"Is she going to be okay? Should we bring her to the hospital?"
"She's gonna be fine, Maxie. It's a good thing you caught her, man. That cement floor would have left a nasty bump on that pretty little head of hers."
Georgie could hear all three voices above her as the fog of unconsciousness began to recede from her mind and she struggled to remember where she was and what had happened. The first voice, high-pitched and mildly panicked, was most definitely her sister's. That meant she was in Las Vegas, and also that the second voice, a soft Texas drawl, was Logan's. And the third voice…
With a start, Georgie's eyes shot open, immediately squinting against the harsh artificial lights of the airport. The airport. Maxie and Logan's wedding. The best man. Cooper Barrett. Shit.
"Oh thank God, you're awake." Her sister's voice spoke from above her, and Georgie tilted her head to see Maxie staring down at her, concern evident in her light blue eyes. "Are you okay?"
Georgie eased herself upright, still feeling somewhat disoriented. "Yeah," she murmured, bringing a hand to her forehead. "I'm okay."
"Don't ever scare me like that again!" Maxie chastised even as she hugged Georgie tightly. "I can't have gray hair at my wedding!"
"How inconsiderate of me," Georgie retorted. "Next time I faint, I'll be sure to keep that in mind." She heard a low chuckle behind her, knowing it was Cooper but refusing to turn around. She couldn't face him now, not after she fainted at the very sight of him. Her face flushed with embarrassment.
"Georgie? You're not going to faint again on me, are you?" Maxie persisted, noticing her sister's reddening face.
"What? Yes – I mean no. I mean… the heat and the altitude change just made me light-headed, that's all," Georgie rambled nervously, trying desperately not to let the fact that she fainted because of the blue-eyed man behind her. Even now, she could feel his eyes on her, but she refused to meet his gaze.
Maxie didn't look convinced, but Logan spoke before she could say anything further. "Don't worry, darlin'," he drawled with a teasing grin. "I get that reaction from the ladies all the time. I'm used to it."
"You'd better not be," Maxie warned, turning to glare at her fiancé. "You're getting married in five days – you're off the market!"
Georgie didn't know if Logan had seen her discomfort and was purposefully trying to distract Maxie or if this was just a natural part of their relationship, but she was grateful for the distraction regardless. As the pair continued to mildly squabble, Georgie slowly attempted to push herself to a standing position. Faltering slightly, she froze as a pair of warm hands cupped her elbows, sending instant sparks through her body.
"Here, let me help," the owner of the baritone voice murmured, gently assisting Georgie in rising to her feet.
"Thanks," Georgie mumbled, keeping her eyes trained on the ground, still embarrassed and stunned and unwilling to meet the blue eyes she felt boring into her forehead.
Cooper couldn't help the small smile that appeared on his face as he noted the slight flush still coloring Georgie's face and neck. She had always been completely adorable when flustered, and now was no exception. He himself had been thrown off by her sudden reappearance in his life, but his stunned disbelief had shifted into a hopeful determination – to catch up, to keep her in his life, to make things right. There was so much unsaid between them, and Cooper knew that was primarily his fault. He had to make it right, to clear the air, but he knew that would be difficult. Of course, he first needed to get her to look at him, which was proving to be tricky in and of its self. He silently thanked Logan for recognizing the lingering tension between him and Georgie and for providing a distraction so that the initial reunion would be less painful and awkward than it would have been had Maxie been observing them, wondering why the childhood best friends were so nervous around each other.
"It's… it's good to see you again, G," he said softly, gauging her reaction.
Georgie's eyes slowly rose to his, the use of a nickname only he had ever called her by compelling her to look at him. Unconsciously, her gaze traveled over his face, taking in his clear, aquamarine gaze, his perfectly sculpted cheekbones and jaw, the full lips that curved into a sincere smile as he looked at her. He was even more handsome now than he had been as a teenager, even more capable of making her feel calm and safe with just one look and the sound of his even, calm, unintentionally seductive voice. As she refocused on his eyes, she could feel her emotions waging war within her. A large part of her was hurt and confused both by his sudden reappearance in her life and by the way they had left things six years ago. A smaller part of her wanted to be angry with him for losing all contact, for making her wonder and worry, for leaving things so unresolved. And a third part of her just wanted to throw her arms around him, welcome him home, and tell him how glad she was that he was alive and well. Tamping down her inner turmoil, she offered him a genuine smile and stepped toward him.
"It's good to see you too, Coop," she replied as she embraced him hesitantly, almost unsure if it was okay.
Cooper, however, pulled her to him tightly, and Georgie couldn't help but relax as his strong arms banded around her and his cheek came to rest on top of her head. She had imagined this moment many times, but nothing quite compared to the feeling of being wrapped in Cooper's arms. This was how she remembered her best friend's embrace, only better, because it wasn't a memory. It was real.
"I missed you so much," he confessed to her honeyed hair, his voice barely more than a whisper, so quiet that Georgie almost didn't hear him.
But she did, and his words brought a light sheen of tears to her eyes, moisture she quickly blinked away before stepping out of Cooper's embrace. "I missed you, too," she admitted quietly, her eyes boring into his, so much being left unspoken. Why didn't you call? Why didn't you write? What happened to you – to us? Don't you know how much I've needed you?
"Are you two ready? We've got dinner reservations at 6:30," Maxie said, interrupting the silent conversation between Cooper and Georgie and causing Georgie to jump slightly, her eyes flicking to her sister.
Cooper observed Georgie carefully, watching as she regained her composure. He had clearly seen the questions in her eyes – those brown eyes that revealed so much more than she ever realized, especially to someone as skilled at reading her as Cooper was. He owed it to her, to the both of them, to answer those questions, but an airport was not the place to have that conversation.
Pasting on a smile, he nodded at Maxie. "Sure," he said in agreement before letting his gaze slide to the younger Jones sister. "Georgie and I can finish getting reacquainted later."
The meaning of his words was not lost on Georgie, who merely nodded. They would certainly continue their conversation later, once she had the chance to regroup and attempt to sort through her feelings and the past. With a silent sigh, Georgie followed her sister out of the airport and to her car.
The moment the door to her hotel room swung shut, Georgie dropped her bags next to her bed and pulled out her cell phone. She quickly dialed and paced anxiously as she waited for the person on the other end to answer.
Finally, someone picked up. "Georgie! Are you calling to tell me that you have arrived safely in Sin City?"
Georgie smiled at the infectious happiness in her best friend's voice. "Yeah, Brooke, I'm here. And you'll never guess who else is," she added, her voice cracking slightly.
"Who?" Brooklyn Ashton asked, her voice still light and excited.
"Cooper," Georgie tentatively revealed, anticipating the kind of dramatic reaction she had come to expect from her best friend and roommate.
A beat of silence of ensued. Then, the explosion. "Cooper Barrett? As in Brenda's nephew Cooper?" Brooklyn screeched in disbelief. "Are you kidding me? Are you freaking kidding me?"
"Believe me, I am just as surprised as you are," Georgie said with a weak laugh.
"Well, what the hell is he doing in Vegas?" Brooklyn demanded.
"Serving as the best man in the wedding, apparently."
"What? So he must know Logan, then. How? Have you seen him? Did Maxie know and not tell you?"
"He and Logan know each other from the Army. Yes, I've seen him, and no, Maxie didn't know either. She was just as surprised as I was to see him," Georgie responded.
"Well… how was it?" Brooklyn asked with concern. "Seeing him again, I mean. How did you react?"
"Uh… I fainted," Georgie admitted somewhat sheepishly. Her confession was met with a burst of laughter across the line.
"You fainted?" Brooklyn exclaimed through her chortles. "Like fell down, passed out, had to be revived fainted?"
"Yeah," Georgie confirmed, once again flushing at the thought of how she'd reacted.
"Oh my God, you swooned!" Brooklyn choked out before collapsing into another fit of giggles.
Georgie rolled her eyes at her friend's antics, but couldn't help the smile that crept onto her lips as she listened to her friend. "While I'm glad you find this so amusing, I was actually calling for some support and guidance. What do I do, Brooke?"
"I'm sorry," Brooklyn apologized as she gained control of her laughter. "It was just a funny mental picture. I'm good now."
"Thank you," Georgie replied with a dry laugh. "But seriously, Brooke… How do I handle this? How do I handle him? I mean, this is the first time I've seen him since the party, you know?"
And Brooklyn did know. She was the only one Georgie had truly confided in about what had transpired between her and Cooper. Even Maxie didn't know the whole story. If she did, she would have been much more observant of Georgie and Cooper at the airport. No, Brooklyn was the only other person who knew that, for a brief, stolen moment in time, Cooper and Georgie had been more than just very good friends.
"I think the best thing to do would be to just go talk to him," Brooklyn said honestly. "He owes you an explanation, Georgie. After what he said and what he did, you deserve to know why and what it all meant. The whole dynamic of your relationship changed that night, and you need to figure out what it means for you, the both of you, now. Of course, that's assuming you want to reconnect and continue any kind of relationship with him. You do, don't you?"
"Of course I do," Georgie said softly. "You know how much I've missed him. It's just… I'm scared that if I ask the questions, I'm not going to hear the answers I want. I don't want to lose him again, Brooke. I don't think I could stand it."
"Honey, something tells me you won't," Brooklyn reassured. "I mean, how did he react to seeing you?"
"Well, he reacted by catching me before I hit the ground," Georgie joked. "Other than that, he was surprised, I would guess. He hugged me and told me how much he's missed me, and I think he definitely wants to talk about what happened."
"Those are all good signs," Brooklyn observed encouragingly.
"I know," Georgie sighed. "But if he's missed me so much, why didn't he call? Why did he just leave like that? Why didn't he stay in touch?"
"These are questions you need to ask him, Georgie. When are you going to see him again?"
"Tonight. We're going to dinner with Maxie and Logan and then, as Maxie put it, 'getting our drink on.'"
"Excellent. Your sister will be too busy getting plastered to interrupt your conversation. Talk to Cooper tonight. Just, try not to swoon again when you see him, all right?" Brooklyn teased.
Georgie giggled. "Thanks Brooke. I'll try not to. And thank for the advice."
"Anytime, girl. Just tell me one thing: is he still as gorgeous as he was as a teenager?"
Georgie bit her bottom lip as she pictured his light brown hair and blue eyes, his finely sculpted figure. "Even more so."
"You lucky bitch!" Brooklyn exclaimed enviously. "No wonder you swooned."
"You're ridiculous," Georgie laughed. "But I love you anyway. I'll talk to you later, okay?"
"You better! I want to be kept apprised of all developments," Brooklyn ordered. "Got it?"
"Yes ma'am," Georgie replied sarcastically. "Love ya, Brooke."
"Love you too, Georgie."
Shutting her phone, Georgie tossed it on the bed before grabbing her bags off the floor. Dinner was in an hour, and she needed to be ready.