AN: Sorry for the long wait between updates. WoW expansion launched and that has been keeping me busy.
Thank you so much for the reviews. They all mean so much to me.
This chapter definitely took a life of its own and it has left me a little hesitant. This was not the direction I had initially wanted for the story but I'm going to try to roll with it.
There was someone at Jackson's regular table and it bothered him more than he wanted to admit. The disdain only lasted for moments, though, when he realized the person was Lisa.
"May I sit?"
Lisa jolted into a more upright position at his voice before nodding her consent.
"You're here early," he said.
"I deleted the first few texts you sent me. The recent invitation didn't have a time," she explained.
"Been here long?" he asked.
She only shook her head.
"I'm surprised you showed up. Our last chat seemed final," he said honestly.
Lisa was obviously having trouble remembering exactly what he was talking about. The server dropped off Jackson's drink without an order even being placed.
As soon as his regular server was out of earshot, he offered, "You thanked me for the 'quickie' and then walked away."
"You know, when I said it, at least other people really did think we were having se-"
"Who says that wasn't true this time?"
Jackson looked over to the bar across the street where her friends had been watching them the week previous. "Your bet?"
"Yeah." Lisa fidgeted with her empty glass. "I won, by the way."
Jackson thought back, how she had held his hand for the final minutes of their chat. Lisa had certainly put on a show for her friends. "Lisa, the only time I wasn't in their line of sight was when I got your drink." She must have followed him into the bar and hurried back out before he could notice her.
"That was like four minutes tops. I'm pretty sure it would take longer than that just to find a dark corner."
"I actually told them you couldn't get it up. I won on a technicality."
Jackson could only blink at her.
Half a Manhattan and too much awkward silence later, Jackson accidently let a stray thought slip out of his head. "You often take bets on sleeping with strangers, Leese?"
He expected her face to contort in anger and a face full of vodka. Instead, she shrugged. "When I know I can win."
Jackson had, until this point, done a decent job keeping his composure. When he started down this path, he had made sure to give Lisa complete control of their situation. It was not something he particularly liked, but he knew giving the reins over to her would build trust in him.
But now, this Lisa was someone he had never met before. Gone were the nights of television and scrambled eggs; they were now filled with less innocent things.
It was like opening a gift he'd always wanted only to realized, now that it was finally there in front of him, that he hated it but he still had to smile and say thank you all the same.
Jackson was never very good at turning the other cheek and saying thank you. "If I knew it was that easy I would have shown up months ago."
Everything in Lisa's body went on high alert. Looking back, she marveled at how easy it was for him to turn on his more menacing persona, but now in the middle of things, she reached for her purse on the table.
Jackson watched her with a bored expression as she pulled the bag into her lap and no doubt aimed the gun at him. "Tell me Leese, what's your going rate?"
Not even the implication of being a whore evoked a reaction from her. "Is that one of your questions, Jack?"
"Yes," he spat out after a stretch of terse silence.
"The promise that I would never see you again," she said. "No coming after me or anyone I know."
"How do you know I'd keep that promise after I've gotten what I want?"
"You never lie, Jack."
Any moment, he expected Lisa to call it off. She must be bluffing.
This was when something inside Jackson woke up and started screaming at him. How did the conversation turn so sinister so fast? It was bad enough that he was letting her bargain with her body what he would give freely, but he made it seem like he was only there for sex.
It was too late now. Jackson saw the cliff and, despite the screaming, put his foot half on and half over the edge. "You drive."
He left enough money for their drinks and followed Lisa into the parking lot. He walked three or so feet behind her and regarded her with cruel scrutiny. Jackson picked out hundreds of things wrong with her; flaws that weren't there when he tailed her years ago. Every one of those discrepancies clawed at his gut, but he marched on to the steady rhythm of Staccato Bitch.
When Lisa stopped at her car, she rooted around in her purse for her keys without looking at him. He could recognize the headstrong mode that she was in a mile away.
He was swept away in seeing how far she would take this charade. Without realizing it, Jackson had put his other foot halfway over the cliff. He could only teeter for milliseconds before falling forward or back.
When Lisa looked back up from her purse he was gone.
After the first time Lisa had met Jackson at the bar, she sat in her car for a long while and watched him. He did not follow her, as promised, but that didn't mean she wasn't going to do everything she could to protect herself. She waited until he left to see what kind of car he drove. She wasn't foolish enough to try to tail him, but she was looking for a heads up to possible sticky situations.
This time, anger dulled her sensibilities so when she saw Jackson's car leave the parking lot, she floored it after him.
Lisa was not trying to be sneaky or stealthy. She knew better than to fool herself into thinking she could track him.
She rammed the back of his pretty car and that was all it took. He hit his hazard lights and pulled off into the shoulder.
Lisa kicked her door open and didn't bother slamming it shut behind her. "What the hell is your problem?" She screamed at him as loud as she could – partly so that he could hear her over the passing traffic, but mostly because she was that angry.
"Are you insane?" he yelled back.
She marched up to him and shoved him as hard as she could back against his car. "You will not say a word, you hear me? You will shut the hell up and listen."
His lips tightened but he didn't say anything. He leaned back against his passenger door and glared down at the petite woman bossing him around.
She punctuated the start of each sentence with an unkind jab to his chest. "YOU are the one that insisted on coming back into my life. YOU are the one who sent me texts every week to meet. YOU are the whole goddamn reason we met in the first place, Jack."
She took a few steps back and held her arms out as if to put herself on display. "And now suddenly I'm not good enough for you?"
She crossed her arms suddenly. "Do you know why I started all this? Why I started going to clubs and getting wasted and, yes, even going home with some men I met that very night?"
Jackson knew why. He knew why all along but didn't want to admit it. It was probably, he thought in hindsight, why he was reacting so poorly.
"I am like this because of you," she said. Her eyes were bloodshot with the effort not to cry. "Did you really think I could have walked off that red eye the same person?"
He continued to watch her with a hard expression, deciding not to say anything. He knew his answer would only upset her anyway.
"Do you know what it does to someone? Thinking everyday could be the last?"
He closed his eyes and refused to open them. This was his fault. If she had gotten it into her head that he would come for her at any time, of course she would go a little crazy. What harm would drinks with strangers do compared to sitting home and waiting to be murdered?
Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen in the mean time? Getting raped again?
"I never said I was coming back to kill you, Leese," he finally argued.
"But you did say you were coming back," she said quietly, "and when has that ever been a good thing for me?"
His eyes narrowed.
"I'm sorry that you find me wanting," she closed the little gap between them, snarling up at him. "I'm sorry that I'm not perfect little Lisa anymore."
"You were never perfect," he growled.
Lisa's hand impulsively flew to her scar but she held her ground. "What was the plan, Jack? Fly back into Miami and save me from my terribly boring life?"
When his eyes finally fell to meet hers she knew she struck close to the truth. She smiled ruefully and started backing up towards her car.
"Not you, Jack. You're not allowed to judge me. Everyone else has, but you have no right."
Before she could get into the driver's seat, Jackson called after her. "Do you?" She stopped and turned her face to the side to indicate she was listening. "Do you need someone to save your from your terribly boring life?"
"Is that your third question?"
Jackson considered saying no and driving away. With the last question still up in the air, he had an excuse to see her again.
If he said yes, all his chips would be down. The payoff would either be astronomical or catastrophic, but luck was already against him. It was not a winning bet.
Jackson didn't care.
"No Jackson. I don't need rescuing."
Even if she did, Jackson wasn't exactly the rescuing type as he usually played for the other team. He hadn't the foggiest idea of what to do.
Lisa drove away without looking back and he just watched her with his hands deep in his pockets.
When her car was out of sight he punched the passenger-side window as hard as he could.