First, I don't know if I'd call Jessica nerdy-looking, "cute nerd" or not. Some girls look good in glasses, and you can count Jessica among that number. She fills her jeans nicely, has a neat, cute haircut, a cool laugh, and a confident air about her. I suppose when she starts talking about police procedure with expertise beyond what one would surmise from her appearance, one might be tempted to label her that. But 'Lyn's one of the popular girls with the big boobs so anyone with glasses probably looks like a nerd to her.
I kid, a little. I don't think Jake's gone native to that extent, but it's something Jessica talked about. I asked her if she had had a feeling she could tell her mother the truth before the time when she first started getting through. After all, she'd implied it just wore off. Not that my vague feeling was proof of anything... Well, she said, that requires a little explanation, as she hadn't just wanted to tell us everything right off.
She said we were lucky to have turned into adults, because nothing in her twenty years as a police officer had prepared her for the viciousness of teen and "tween" girls. We apparently only think we know what having weird hormones assaulting our system is like, and junior high was especially rough for her. She thinks that she might have started to doubt her memories of her previous life if it wasn't the only thing keeping her sane. But her second adolescence was an angry one, and when her mother told her that her grandfather had died, Jessica's response was "well, that sucks, but it's not like I knew the guy. That earned her a slap, but also got her mother to thinking that maybe something was really not right.
Jessica and her mother must have a weird relationship, though I haven't observed it first-hand. She refers to her mother without qualifiers, and I half-expected Jessica to call her by her first name when they were on the phone. Jeff does that when talking about the family he wound up with, and Jessica might have been older than her new mother - or at least more experienced. But that woman (whose name I just realized I don't know) has at least done the job of a mother for Jessica, so I guess it's not too strange. Still, she's not just a kid, no matter how much she acts the part, and they know that hte real - or maybe that should be the first - Jessica is out there somewhere, and who knows what a ten year-old girl does when she becomes someone else? Our Jessica must be a constant reminder of that for both of them, and even if by dumb luck the curse just made her a different pre-teen, that's got to feel lousy.
There's been more going on in my life since then, though. Another thing 'Lyn mentioned was that I probably couldn't just tread water with Stewart until the real Liz gets back, no matter how ideal that would have been. I've tried valiantly, though - I get to work just on time, I don't stay late when he's running the week's new releases off to make sure the print is in order, I screen my calls. But you can't force things to stay the same for any great length of time; there's too many outside forces in the world.
In this case, the outside force was Liz's best friend, Zoe. Stewart and I were just winding up a friendly-enough day shift when she came in, rolled up copy of the daily Metro and smacked me on the nose.
"Bad girlfriend! Bad, bad, bad girlfriend! How could you not tell me Raymond had proposed?"
The whole staff was in the lobby, so there was nowhere for me to escape. "What do you m-- How do you know?"
"I ran into him in Downtown Crossing in January, when he was looking in all the jewelry stores. He said he was going to pop the question on Valentine's Day. I see you after with no ring and I think, okay, maybe with the storm and all, he was just waiting for a better time. I saw him this afternoon, though, and I asked why..."
"Uh, Zoe? Not here and not now."
"Okay," she says, "but if you give me 'not ready', I want to know when anyone could be expected to be ready."
So that's awkward. Nearly as much as Stewart walking me out the door.
"So..." He looks kind of pleased with himself. "I gather you said no. And to think I'd been beginning to wonder if you didn't like me any more."
"Well, I couldn't very well say yes if I was still sleeping with you, could I? I'm not that person, and that's what I told him."
"You told him?"
"I'm not going to lie in that situation." Well, no more than I had to.
"So where do we go from here?"
"Well, I'm going home to keep trying to see what Ray and I are going to be, because we're both pretty determined that it's not going to be people who hate each other. As for you and me... Well, to be blunt, the days of commitment-free hookups because we're keeping a secret are over. It's time to figure out what you and I really want from each other."
He took my hand but I extricated it. "No, seriously, think about it, because I'm not going to stumble around blindfolded any more. It's been going on for far too long and I can't take it."
Stewart looked surprised to hear that, at first, but then shrugged his shoulders and turned toward the T station. "Okay," he said, with just a little "no girl's worth this much trouble" in his voice. "You go home to the guy who took you for granted. I'll see you later."
So, I may have screwed things up badly. I wrote Liz about it, but haven't heard back yet. Hopefuuly she'll cut me a little slack on this.