Chapter Nine
The days that Jax was away flew by for Brenda, so much so that she nearly forgot that he lived with her. Nearly. He might have been easier to forget if she hadn’t received get well gifts from him every day, of the four days she was ill. The first day it had been a large bouquet of flowers with a card that read "Brenda, I hope you like them, and don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll look just fine dumped over my head. Jax." Brenda found herself showered with teddy bears, balloons, chicken soup flown in from New York delis, and a new pair of pajamas each day.

She had thanked Jax profusely during his many daily calls, when he claimed to only be checking up on the plans for the benefit. Brenda’s bout with the flu had set plans back and had Lois working overtime, so even after Jax returned, he had barely seen her around the house.

Arriving home after the first dress rehearsal, Brenda was startled but surprised to find Jax working in the living room and eating Chinese food. Dumping her purse and coat on the stairs, she had approached the white cartons gingerly. "Is this from New China?"

Jax looked up from his computer, and both felt that odd surge of energy as their eyes traveled over one another. "Yeah. I found the menu on the fridge." He grasped another piece of chicken with his chopsticks and pointed his head toward the kitchen. "There’s sesame chicken in there, if you’re feeling up to it." Before he could even explain that he had made a point of asking and ordering Brenda’s usual order, she had returned from the kitchen, holding onto her carton of sesame chicken for dear life.

"How are you feeling?" Perched on one of the rounded sides of the coffee table, Brenda was too busy eating her chicken to answer his question.

"Fine. Much better, thank you." Brenda tried to subtly look at him, out of the corner of her eye, and when he caught her, she pretended to be looking at his food.

"Want a bite?" Brenda let out a long, slow breath, smiled, and shook her head.

"No thanks." Most of the rest of the evening continued the same way. Jax was wracking his brain, trying to figure out how to draw Brenda out of the rut of polite conversation. He knew her, better than he’d known any woman, and yet he was at a loss for topics of conversation.

He looked up from his work, and watched her intently. Brenda was siting on the couch, listening to music on her headphones, working, he assumed, on the benefit. She had a pen clenched in between her teeth, and her hair was pulled back up into some sort of clip, allowing the firelight to cast glorious shadows across the back of her neck and into the tendrils that tumbled like some exotic waterfall out of the top of the clip. She took his breath away, and it was like he was seeing her for the first time, because he finally did see all of her, both sides to her personality, and he loved them both.

Even though she was sitting by the fire, Brenda could feel the heat of Jax’s gaze; she expected the smoke detector to go off as he approached the couch, sat down next to her, and slid the headphones off of her ears, taking extra time to brush his fingertips along her earlobes and down her neck. "Hi." Her voice came out breathless and shaky. Damn it.

"Hi." So did his. Damn it. Come on, Jax. Talk to her. You’ve done it a million times before. Just use your voice instead of a keyboard. It’s now or never. "So…How’s the benefit coming?" She smiled and tucked a few of the strands of hair behind her ears, as he felt his heart turn over in his chest.

"Good. The dress rehearsal today went pretty well. The little kids are so cute, Jax. Wait until you see them." Brenda couldn’t believe how beautiful his eyes were, and how genuinely interested in her plans he seemed. But why? He was paying for everything, that why, she reminded herself. That was it. There was no other reason. "Everything’s just about ready. Don’t worry. This’ll be the best fundraiser Port Charles society has ever seen."

"I have complete faith in you, Brenda." He saw the shock in her eyes, but chose not to kid her about it. Perhaps he was learning after all. "So what are you working on now?"

"Now? I’m just finalizing a list of songs for the band to play when the performances aren’t going on." She began shuffling through the papers, desperate to avoid the beautiful twin pools of his eyes, from whose depths she couldn’t escape. Jax was making progress; he knew it, and he wasn’t going to end it here.

"Do you need any help?" Brenda glanced up, and gazed at him from under her thick, dark lashes. Every little voice inside of her was screaming a resounding "NO!" and she couldn’t blame them. The last thing she and Jax should be doing was going through a list of love songs, so she was completely thrown when she heard herself answer:

"Sure!" She handed him a stack of song lists, and told him to highlight the ones he thought would be good for the dance. As she resumed her own lists, Brenda couldn’t help laughing as she noticed how much he seemed to deliberate the pros and cons of each song. "Jax! It’s not that difficult. All the songs have 'love’ in them. All you need to do is decide if it’s a good song to be played at the benefit, or not. For example, 'Love Shack’ has 'love’ in it, but it’s not exactly appropriate. Get it?"

"But if I highlight it, will it mean that people at the ball will dance to it? Cause I’d pay for another benefit entirely to Stefan Cassadine dance to Love Shack." Brenda’s laughter echoed throughout the house, and Jax didn’t know how much longer he could live without telling her exactly who he was, and how he felt about her.

As they sat on the couch, side by side, working toward a common goal, neither Brenda nor Jax could believe how right it felt, just spending time with one another. After a few hours, with a very complete list of love songs, Brenda headed up the stairs, to bed. "Brenda?" She turned and smiled at him, and he felt like a schoolboy. He’d asked plenty of women out on dates over the years, most of whom he hadn’t known half as well as he knew Brenda, so what was his problem?

Brenda’s heart was pounding; what did Jax want? Was he going to ask her to the Benefit? "Yes! I mean, yes?" They both smiled, hearts beating wildly, adrenaline coursing through their veins, each anticipating what the other was about to say.

"May I escort you to the Valentine’s Day Benefit, Ms. Barrett?" Jax made an overly dramatic sweep of his hand, and bowed to her as though she were royalty. He was rewarded with the soft peals of her laughter, and the answer he hoped she would give to all of his proposals. "Yes."