Not That Kind of Man
Lisa Reisert had known that it was going to be a bad day from the moment she had woken up, which had been quite a bit later than she had intended. The alarm had gone off at six a.m. as she had set it to do, however, Jackson, who had slipped in sometime after three in the morning, had sent it hurtling into the wall on the opposite side of the room when the annoying beep beep beep had disturbed his slumber. With a growl, he had lay back down and pulled Lisa's sleeping form closer to him. Unconsciously, she had let out a little whimper of delight and cuddled deeper into his warm embrace. It was somewhere around two hours later that her eyes finally fluttered open. She smiled when she saw Jackson sleeping soundly by her side. She hadn't heard him come in. She wiggled a little closer to his body and kissed the tip of his nose, smiling even wider when he stirred ever so slightly in his sleep. Wondering if she had time to wake him up for a quickie before work, she leaned up to peer over his shoulder at her clock. The smile faded from her face when she found that the clock was in fact missing.
She sat up rather abruptly in bed, Jackson's arm falling from its place across her shoulders into her lap. Lisa's eyes scanned the room before finally landing on the shattered pile of rubble that had once been her alarm clock. Looking down at Jackson's arm which was currently draped across her lap, she grabbed him by the wrist and twisted it toward her to see the time. The sudden movement startled Jackson and on reflex, he seized Lisa by the neck, slammed her back down against the mattress and straddled her hips. When his clear blue eyes focused on Lisa's shocked face, he released his hold on her throat. As soon as his grip had relaxed, Lisa swung a balled up fist and caught him right in the jaw. The blow knocked him off of her and Lisa sat up glaring at him. The hand that was a moment ago on her neck was now caressing his jaw.
He glared at her, his pretty eyes narrowed. "What the fu…"
"You killed my alarm clock!" Lisa growled, using both of her hands to shove him from the queen sized bed.
Jackson was fast though. He caught her by the waist and pulled her off as well, dragging the tangled mess of sheets along with them. Interestingly enough, the only thing that her little temper tantrum had succeeded in doing was turning Jackson on. Lisa was just about to get to her feet when Jackson caught her by the leg, flipped her onto her back, and pulled her to him so that her legs were on either side of him. His hands shoved the hem of her nightgown up to her hips and he leaned down to kiss her neck. And people wondered why she and her boyfriend fought practically all the time, but never seemed to stay mad at each other.
"Jackson," Lisa protested, though her eyes had already closed and at some point, though she hadn't noticed when, her fingers had ended up in his hair, "I don't have time for this. I was supposed to be at work ten minutes ago."
"See, you're already late and I'll be quick." Jackson said, dropping to kiss along her collarbone.
"Last time you said that, I wound up blindfolded and handcuffed to the bed for more than an hour and a half."
"That was quick for me."
"I know." Lisa smiled, "That's why you need to let me up."
She pushed on his shoulders in attempt to get him off of her, but it took Jackson all of two seconds to capture her wrists and pin them above her head. Lisa was starting to get upset. As much as she didn't want him to, she needed him to stop so she could get to work. She was already late and every second that he held her there was costing her precious time from work. As Jackson began to kiss his way down to her stomach, Lisa bucked her hips; catching him off guard she was able to knock him away from her.
"I have to go to work." She said sternly, climbing to her feet.
Jackson watched her walk into the bathroom and shut the door before crawling back into bed. He was still a man. They practically had on/off buttons. As Lisa closed the door to the bathroom, she couldn't the chuckle that rose in the back of her throat. Only Jackson could piss her off and turn her on so completely within the span of a minute. However, the bastard was still gonna buy her a new alarm clock for her apartment.
Lisa had never gotten ready for work that fast in her life. She managed to only be forty five minutes late, which was good considering she woke up fifteen minutes after she was already supposed to be there. Things consistently kept getting just a little bit worse as the day progressed. First, an ice machine on the thirty-third floor literally blew up, causing minor structural damage that she was gonna have to have fixed. Then, Mrs. Rodriquez, a platinum club member, had gotten more than a little pissed off at her husband and locked him out of their room in his underwear. That was something that Lisa definitely could have gone without seeing…ever, as could the gymnastics team of ten year old girls that happened to walk by at the exact moment he was shoved from the room. A group of high school kids on vacation had decided it would be hilarious to dump three gallons of Mr. Bubbles into the Jacuzzi and one customer, whom shall remain unnamed, had returned to the hotel accompanied by a prostitute. By the end of the day, Lisa was not only ready to pull her hair out, but she had had serious fantasies about calling up Jackson and asking him to blow up the hotel as an anniversary present.
When she finally stumbled back into her apartment, her feet aching and head pounding, all she wanted was to curl up into a ball with Jackson and let him take away all the residual stress from the day. Instead, she was greeted by the sight of Jackson running around the bedroom, gathering armfuls of his neatly pressed suits and tucking them into his suitcase. Lying on the bed beside his bag was an airplane ticket and his passport.
"Hey, Leese," he said without looking at her, "I was just about to write you a note."
Lisa dropped her purse and glared at him. A note. How considerate. She wondered to herself if it would have been a full page or simply a post-it stuck on the fridge right beside the one that said need more milk. She shed her lavender blazer and walked to the opposite side of the bed, positioning herself directly across from him. She stood with her hands on her hips, waiting for him to acknowledge her. After a minute, she grew impatient.
"Where are you going?" she asked as nonchalantly as she could muster.
"I can't tell you." Jackson said simply.
Lisa's mouth formed a tight line and she licked her lips, struggling to keep herself under control. "A job?"
"Lisa," Jackson said, his own patience seeming to wear thin which confirmed Lisa's suspicions. He was always in a pissy mood when they discussed his work. "You don't want to hear about this."
"What?" Lisa said, her voice raising, "I can't ask where you're going or what you're going to do?"
Jackson checked his passport, "I don't have time for this, Leese."
"Make time." Lisa snapped.
Jackson slammed his suitcase shut and zipped it up, his glazier eyes glaring at her from the tops of his lids. "I don't wanna do this."
"Too bad." Lisa retorted stomping around to bed and coming to a stop right in front of him. In truth, she didn't want to do this either. She had had a bad day and all that she wanted to do was have him hold her.
"Lisa, we've been together for about a month now. You had to know that eventually I would get another job." He snapped.
His words hit Lisa like a slap in the face, though she didn't know why. What had she been expecting? Had she really thought that he would change his life completely just to be with her? Was she really that naïve? Jackson grabbed his suitcase and headed out the door. Not quite sure why, but overwhelmed by the sudden need to attack him, she grabbed the novel she had been reading from her nightstand and threw it at him. It hit him directly between the shoulder blades and he stopped and spun around to face her. His eyes narrowed in a dangerous manner, he released the handle of his bag and advanced on her. Instinct screamed at Lisa to scramble away from him, but she made herself stand her ground. Without blinking, he took hold of her neck and slammed her into the wall behind her. She grabbed his wrists in attempt to pry his hands away from her throat, but Jackson only responded by tightening his grasp. He pressed himself against her and leaned in close so that as he spoke, he lips brushed against her ear.
"You see, I know you better than anyone else. Even better than dear old dad. You want me to tell you that I'm flying to some third world country to kill a guy who's taking orphans and selling them as slaves, when more than likely I'm going to Europe to sneak into some politician's hotel room, the kind that you yourself struggle to make safe, and while I'm there, I'm going to slit his throat." He hissed.
Lisa felt tears welling up in her eyes, which she closed immediately, unable to look at him. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked.
"Because, I want you to understand who it is you're involved with. I want to shield you from what it is that I do, but you have to let me. That means no asking questions. That means accepting that occasionally, I'm going to disappear for a while." His voice suddenly softened, "but I will always come back to you, Lisa. Just don't ask me about what I've done."
Lisa forced her eyes open and looked at him. "What if I can't live like that?"
"Can't or won't?"
Lisa trembled beneath his hands. What could she say? Her silence was all the answer he needed. She saw the hurt flash through his pretty eyes, but it was soon replaced with anger. He slung her away from the wall and let go of her, letting her lose her balance and fall to the floor. "What do you want, Leese?" he demanded starting after her.
Lisa climbed clumsily to her feet and stumbled into the kitchen, trying to get away from her. He caught up to her in less than a second and caught her by the shoulders and slammed her back against the counter. "Do you want me to stay here with you? You wanna get married and have two kids and a dog? Is that what you want?" he growled.
Lisa couldn't bottle up the emotions that were overflowing out of her as he spat every girlish dream she had ever had at her as though the words themselves left a foul taste in his mouth. Was it so wrong to want to be his wife? Was it so wrong to want to have his children?
"It is, isn't it Lisa? That's what you want." He said, "Well, let me tell you right now, I'm not that kind of man."
"No, you're a psychopath." She said, instantly regretting the words.
He released her arms and as if he had been the only thing holding her up, she slid down the counter to her knees, dropping her head into her hands. Her entire body shook as she sobbed quietly into her hands. She heard Jackson walk away from her and peeked through her fingers to watch him. He picked up his suitcase and began to make his way to the door once again. Still unsure of what she wanted from him, but knowing with absolute certainty that she didn't want him to walk through that door, she dropped her hands to her laps and called after him just as he opened the door.
"Jackson." She called, barely above a whisper, "Stay."
Jackson froze halfway in and halfway out of the door at the sound of his name. He glanced over his shoulder at her. She was sitting on her knees, a crumpled mess on the tiled kitchen floor. She stared at him with wide glistening eyes, chin quivering, mascara running down both cheeks. She looked so vulnerable and helpless and at that moment in time, Jackson hated himself.
She opened her mouth for one more plea, "Stay with me."
It took every ounce of strength within him not to go to her, but he was a professional. He turned away from her tear streaked face and disappeared down the hall. Lisa collapsed even further and ended up lying in the fetal position on the kitchen tiles. She felt as though her heart had dropped into her stomach and then died. She didn't know if she was going to make it through this one. She must have stayed there for an hour or so, her stomach contracting in bursts of hysterical sobs every so often, before finally, the tough little voice in the back of her mind started speaking up.
Get up it told her, and she obeyed. She got herself a bottle of wine out of the refrigerator and went to sink down in a scalding hot bath. When she emerged from the bathroom, she had consumed 2/3 of the bottle and was well on her way with the last bit. She crawled into bed naked and fought off a fresh batch of tears when she saw the brand new alarm clock that sat tauntingly on her nightstand. Bastard.
She called in sick to work the next morning, unable to wrap her mind around dealing with all the 'guests with special needs' that she knew she would have to if she actually got up and went. Instead, she opted to throw on a pair of comfy jeans and a tee shirt, cover her messy hair with a baseball cap, and go shopping. What is it about shopping that is so therapeutic?
She made her way through the mall, breezing in and out of numerous shops and wanting to gag herself every time some happy couple walked past and cry every time she saw a mother with her kid. It was expected though. The day after a breakup is always bad. Some say that it's the worst, but Lisa didn't agree with that. The day after, you're still in somewhat of a stage of denial. It's day four that really sucks.
She bought herself three new pairs of shoes, a pair of jeans that made her ass look incredible, a couple of new suits, and then she made her way into Victoria's Secret. She bought a basket full of different colored tango cut panties. Jackson loved those. See? Denial.
When she got home and walked into her empty apartment, it struck her that she had never really realized just how big it actually was. She dumped her purchases into her bedroom and took a moment to look around the room, her gaze lingering just a second too long on the alarm clock that Jackson had bought for her. She looked at the bed, more specifically, at Jackson's empty pillow, then to the bathroom, thinking back on a particularly interesting shower, and felt as though her throat had closed off. She needed to get out of that room. So, she more or less sprinted into the living room which it turned out was no better than the bedroom.
There were three or four books that Jackson had been reading scattered in various places around the room. Yesterday's newspaper was sitting on the breakfast counter where Jackson would sit with a cup of coffee and read it. Wanting to think about anything else, she pulled open the fridge and the first thing that her eyes landed on was the pot of leftover borscht that Jackson had made a few days back when he had found out that she had never had it. With a frustrated scream, she slammed the door. Everything everywhere throughout the apartment managed to remind her of Jackson. She grabbed her cordless phone and hastily dialed Cynthia's cell phone number.
After Lisa told Cynthia what had happened, she agreed to take a long dinner break and meet Lisa for a drink.
"So he just left?" Cynthia asked, sitting across the table from her friend.
Lisa nodded as she pushed her salad around the plate with her fork before finally just setting the utensil down and pushing the food away all together. "I don't know what to do."
"Well, it's not like he's the most normal guy you've could've decided to date." Cynthia said.
Lisa smiled, "But that's what I love about him."
Lisa pressed her lips together. Had she really just said love? She hadn't meant to. But, thinking about it, what other word was there to describe the way she felt about him? She didn't want him to change. She was ready to accept him for who he was and everything that came along with him. Could that be anything other than love? She didn't think so.
"Yes," she finally said, having just come to the realization herself, "Yes, love."
"Wow, Leese, that's pretty heavy." Cynthia said, then she caught the time out of the corner of her eye, "Shit, Leese, I gotta get back to work. Uh, do you want me to come by later tonight?"
"Oh, God, no Cynthia, don't be silly. I'll be fine. Don't rearrange your schedule for me." Lisa said.
"Are you sure?"
Lisa wanted to roll her eyes. Out of everyone that she knew, Jackson was the only one who never asked her if she was sure about something. He took her for her word whenever she told him something. Yet another thing that she absolutely loved about him. "I'm sure, Cynthia."
"Okay, honey. I'll call you later, kay."
"All right. Drive safe." Lisa said as her friend disappeared through the door of the restaurant. Lisa sat there for a few minutes more, just not quite ready to go back to her apartment yet. She ordered herself another glass of wine and stayed there, just watching her fellow diners. She smiled as she saw a little old couple, probably around seventy or so. The man actually pulled his wife's chair out for her. At that age, he was still a perfect gentleman. Jackson had asked her if she wanted to get married and have kids. The answer was yes, she did. If Jackson couldn't give that to her, then maybe it really was better if he left her now.
She finished her glass of Zinfandel, paid her check and, with one last look of longing at the sweet little old couple, she left the restaurant to head for home. She had a renewed sense of hope as she rode the elevator up to her apartment. Maybe now she could get on with her life.
When she opened the door, her breath caught in her throat. The lights were off and there were at least two dozen candles lit all around the room. Leaving the door open, she followed a trail of lilies to the bedroom and her eyes landed on Jackson, standing at the foot of the bed with his hands shoved in his pants pockets.
"Hey, Leese." He said.
"Jackson." Lisa said, but it came out as rasp so she immediately cleared her throat and repeated herself, "Jackson."
"So, here's the thing," he began, "you know I don't go in for big romantic gestures. It's just not who I am. But, when I left last night, I realized something."
"And what was that?" Lisa asked, her hand unconsciously grasping the wall so she could brace herself on it as her knees went a little weak.
"I'm not the right guy for you." Jackson said plainly.
He was so serious, Lisa wanted to laugh. He wasn't the right guy for her. Talk about the understatement of the year.
"I won't quit my job, I damn good at it, but…okay, here it is. Yeah, I am so wrong for you but I'm also a selfish bastard because I really don't give a shit that I'm wrong for you. I realized that too, last night. I'm selfish, because even though I know that I don't deserve you, I want you. I don't know why, I don't know how it happened, but I do. So…" he pulled something from within the confines of his pocket and tossed it to her. It was a small black velvet box. After catching it, Lisa looked up at him questioningly, but he merely nodded his permission to her. She looked back down to the object in her hands and hesitated for another moment before opening it. For a very long minute, she completely stopped breathing. Winking up at her from that box was sparkling pear shaped solitaire. She had to be dreaming; this couldn't be real. Was this actually happening?
"What do you say, Leese," Jackson said, breaking her train of thought, "Think you can live with a psychopath?"
"I don't know," Lisa replied, fighting back the onslaught of tears that were threatening to spill over, "That's a pretty tall order."
"What if he promised to never let anything hurt you for as long as he was breathing?"
At that point, there was no stopping it. She began to cry. But, she began to laugh as well. She had cried so much in the past two days, that the laughter was a nice change of pace. Smiling at Jackson through her tears, she said, "I think that sounds very boring."
Jackson let out an over exaggerated breath. "Thank God! The sadist in me was starting to sweat!" He grinned, "Come on, what have you got to lose?"
"Yeah, but, trust me, life's more fun without it." He said, still smiling wickedly at her, "Marry me."
Lisa took a long shaky breath. Why was she hesitating? This was what she wanted. This was what she really, really wanted. Jackson for life. But, there was something…something that just felt off. Something about the whole thing just seemed wrong. Jackson studied her lovely face as he absently chewed on his lower lip in contemplation.
"What?" he said finally, breaking the long silence, "You want the whole shebang? Okay, fine." With that, Lisa watched as Jackson knelt down onto one knee. Her hand flew up to cover her mouth in attempt to hold in the squeal of delight that was desperately trying to escape her lips. This was not something that Jackson did.
"Lisa Henrietta Reisert," he said, placing his hands on her hips since both of her hands were currently out of his reach, "Will you marry me?"
And suddenly, with that one simple gesture, Lisa's world made sense.