Hmm, I'm still not entirely sure about this story, but I've written the first chapter anyway :) I might leave it as a one-shot, not sure yet! Let me know your thoughts! x
Jenny paced nervously around her bedroom, feeling both unsettled and impatient. Every now and then, she pulled back the scarlet curtain to glance absently down the street before resuming her pacing again. She cursed inwardly, knowing that she shouldn't let the thought of seeing him turn her into the blithering mess she was now, but she couldn't help it - it was the same every other weekend. She knew they had to get along and both try and act like adults, but every time she opened the door to him, she felt like she was transported back to five years ago. One look from those eyes, and she felt herself being reeled in again. That's why she always kept their encounter's as brief as possible, never letting him stay long, and refusing point-blank his insistence that they needed to talk. What would they have to talk about? Everything had been said months ago, and it was all over now. All that was left for her to do was try and piece the scattered shards of her life back together and find some way of carrying on without him.
She had never wanted things to turn out like this. There was a time that they had been happy together, but that period of her life seemed like a dream that she had been shook awake from violently. Perching on the side of her bed, she let a sigh escape from her lips as she closed her eyes. Yes, there had been very good moments; she remembered them well. But why think about it? There was no way back, and there was no point in torturing herself by going over everything and tearing herself apart over the finer sub-text of each crossed word. What had happened had happened, and she needed to try and forget about it. Try and look forward.
"Mummy, mummy, mummy!" Ben's enthusiastic voice rang through the landing.
Standing up immediately and hurriedly straightening out her skirt with her hands, she hitched a fake smile on her face just as her three-year-old son rounded the corner, skidding on the rug in his excitement.
"Dad's here!" he continued, his face shining with happiness. "He's in the dar!"
"The car," Jenny corrected him with a smile, pulling back the curtain to peer into the street again.
She saw him getting out of that tin can of a car he insisted on driving - 'a classic', he had called it. She glanced back down at Ben's cute face alive with anticipation, and batted away the twinge of jealousy she felt at his excitement. He should be looking forward to spending time with his father; it didn't mean he loved her any less. Still, she wondered if he was this excited when he was getting dropped off back home.
Ben was the image of his father, which made things even more difficult. Same colour and shaped eyes, same nose, same chin; his features were a constant reminder of the man she had once promised herself to. The only mark Jenny's genes had seemed to have made was the brown hair that sat in a mop of untidiness, despite her constant attempts to tame it.
"Come on then," she sighed, letting the curtain fall back into place slowly.
She bent down and picked him up, ignoring his protests that he could 'walk his self' and carried him down the stairs, her heels clicking on the wooden floorboards. She put him down when they reached the bottom, and he immediately ran off to the front door, bobbing up and down impatiently as the doorbell rang. With a sinking feeling, she opened the door slowly.
And there he was.
As handsome as ever, of course. As his eyes crept up to meet hers, she felt her stomach back-flip.
Still, after all these years, the effect he had on her had never changed.
"Dad!" Ben shouted eagerly, elbowing his way past Jenny's legs and into his father's arms.
"Hey little man," his dad beamed, lifting him up high. "If you don't stop growing, you'll be taller than me soon."
"Really?" Ben asked, his face glowing.
"Sweetie, why don't you go and get your shoes and coat from your room," Jenny interrupted, trying to keep her voice as warm as possible when addressing her son.
Reluctantly, Ben was put back down and ran off in pursuit of his things, leaving Jenny alone with her ex. An awkward tension hovered between them as she held the door half open.
"Do you want to - ?" she asked, pointing behind her, indicating that he should come in.
"Please," he nodded politely, stepping into the hall; she caught the distinct smell of his aftershave as he brushed past her, and to her complete frustration, her heart skipped a beat.
She made a point of keeping the door open to ensure that he understood that he was not staying long. He hovered in the hallway, looking wary as he stared at her, obviously wanting her to speak first.
"Umm - so, what have you two got planned this weekend then?" she asked in an annoyingly unsteady voice.
He shrugged. "I was thinking of taking him to the cinema tonight to see that film he's been banging on about. And then tomorrow, I was going to take him swimming."
"Don't you need his swimming things then?"
"No, I've got some things in my place from the last time."
"Oh, right," Jenny nodded, desperately wishing that Ben would hurry up; she didn't know how much of this casual conversation she could stomach.
After a few seconds of silence, he spoke again, clearly not enjoying the suffocating air between them.
"Have you got any plans this weekend?" he asked quietly, his hands in his pockets and his gaze set determinately at the floor.
"Not really," she answered, unable to stop her voice sounding cold. "I might go out tomorrow night."
"That's nice," he nodded, half glancing up at her. She felt his eyes linger on her legs, and reluctantly it seemed, travel up to her chest, making her feel like she was being examined. She flushed, and he seemed to remember himself and looked away abruptly. "You, look - you look great . . ." he stammered.
"Thanks," she said, feeling her heart soften slightly.
He pulled his hand out of his pocket and ran it through his windswept hair in a way that she still found so adorable that for a wild, fleeting second, she had to fight the urge to close the gap between them and pull his mouth onto hers. She gulped and everted her gaze from his lips, her eyes instead falling on his finger, and with a pang, she noticed that he still stubbornly wore his wedding ring. She herself had stopped putting hers on a while ago. It wasn't so much that she had wanted to stop wearing it, but more because she grew tired of feeling tears well up every time she glanced down at it. For some reason, it made her feel self-conscious that he still brazenly wore his ring, and automatically, she put her arm behind her back.
He looked on the verge of saying something, but before he could open his mouth, Ben came crashing back into the hall with the velcro on his shoes sticking up and attempting to put his coat on the wrong arm.
Glad of a reason to cut their conversation short, Jenny bent down to do up his shoes properly, and fix his coat. "Now, you be a good boy for your dad, okay?" she said to him warmly.
"Yes mummy," he said with his cute little lisp.
"Okay," she smiled at him, doing up his zip. "Kiss."
Ben lent in and kissed her on the cheek, and threw his tiny arms around her neck. "I love you mummy," he said, his voice muffled in her hair.
"I love you too," she said softly, feeling a familiar lump in her throat as they broke apart; she hated not having him on these weekends.
"And I'll see you on Sunday," she added to Ben's father, who nodded.
"Yeah, see you then," he replied, holding her gaze for a little too long. After a moments hesitation, he leaned forward and rested his hand on her shoulder, clumsily pecking her on the cheek, before turning his attention to his son. "Want a race to the car?"
"Yes!" Ben shouted excitedly, running past him and out into the front garden.
Jenny waved goodbye to her son before closing the door after them, finally able to drop the fake smile. She leaned her back against it with a sigh, squeezing her eyes shut against the painful throbbing in her heart.
No matter how much time went by, no matter how much she thought she had changed, he was still him.
"Nick," she whispered to herself, touching her fingers to her cheek were he had left a warm, breathy kiss.