Chapter 13

She wandered down Fifth Avenue pausing ever so slightly at each store window, as she made her way to her destination. In the early morning light, Tiffany's stood in quiet dignity beckoning her closer. Brenda approached the window and her brown eyes drank in what had to be the most amazing window display she had ever seen. Diamond solitaire rings unlike any she had ever seen, filled the window, begging to be tried on. Even though it was quite early in the morning, Brenda tried the doors, but to no avail. As the noises of the city swelled around her, Brenda could see through the door, into the famed jewelry store, an exquisite mannequin, holding a small velvet box. She blinked, and he appeared just on the other side of the glass, and tapped on it, first quietly, then louder and louder. Only when the noise became nearly unbearable did he start to take on human characteristics: two of the most exquisite eyes she had ever seen, pools of blues, grays and greens, gazed intently at her, and his hair seemed to be spun from pure gold. But it wasn't until a smile, and a faint chuckle graced his lips, that recognition dawned of Brenda....

The door!

Brenda rolled over and out of her bed, disgusted to find herself wearing a t-shirt, pantyhose, and the piece-de-resistance: the previous night's hair and make-up. She clamored down the stairs pulling stray bobby-pins from her hair, and felt absolutely humiliated when she found Lucy Coe at her door, horrified at her appearance.

"Brenda, Brenda, Brenda," Lucy clucked. "What happened? What is this?" She looked from the pantyhose and the PCU t-shirt, to the dried mascara tear-stains and smeared lipstick, and shook her head.

"Lucy, I'm sorry. I-Wait a second: Lucy, what are you doing here?" In a still-drowsy state, Brenda was pulled up the stairs by a blabbering Lucy, whose main idea Brenda managed to get, although most of the words flew right by. "Campaign... great opportunity... MTV... Mexico... Miguel..." Lucy dragged Brenda through the doorway, as she interrupted.

"What, Lucy? What? What-"

"Whoa." Lucy stopped in her tracks, and like a Vaudeville routine, Brenda bumped into her. Both Lucy and Brenda were shocked to find Jax, sans shirt, fast asleep in Brenda's bed, clutching a pillow in his embrace. Lucy turned to Brenda with a look mixed with shock, admiration, and pure jealousy. As a blush crept up Brenda's cheeks, Lucy smiled and nodded knowingly. "Okay, you're forgiven. Besides, a little romp in the hay is better for your skin than anything we can make. I mean look at you, all sleepy and smiley. I bet if we could bottle whatever it is that Jax gave to you-"

"Lucy!" Brenda, who had barely recovered from the shock of seeing Jax sleeping in her bed, cut Lucy off before she could make her blush anymore, and simultaneously roused the sleeping Adonis. He mumbled in his sleep, and seemed to reach out for her, but when his hand met only an empty bed, Jax rolled over and sat up.

Lucy and Brenda's mouths both fell open as sheet cascaded down Jax's body to reveal a broad chest and toned abs that Brenda recalled feeling when she was curled in his arms last night. His FULLY CLOTHED arms last night. Her anger mounted, but dissipated quickly as Jax got out of bed, looking far too drowsy and far too delicious just out of dreamland. Wearing only the pants of his tuxedo, he approached the ladies, and placed an arm around Brenda's waist affectionately. "Good morning." She noticed the tiny smile across his face, and Brenda was shocked to find that there wasn't anything sneaky or mischievous about it.

So intent was she on studying his smile, that she didn't notice as his lips aimed, and found their target at her hairline. She smiled involuntarily, and couldn't help but notice how pale blue his eyes were early in the morning, and how one renegade curl kept tumbling into his eyes. Against her better judgement, she reached up, meeting his eyes, and brushed the curl away, never breaking his gaze. They lingered there for a moment, until Lucy cleared her throat slightly, uncomfortable being present at such an intimate moment. "Good morning, Lucy."

Lucy's eyes roamed appreciatively over Jax, managed to return his greeting. "Good morning." A quirky smile graced his lips, and Lucy beamed at his show of affection toward her. Having glanced at Brenda, Jax noticed how her eyes had widened and darkened, and how she chewed her lower lip in frustrated thought, a look usually reserved for him. What could she be wondering so early in the morning? He prayed she wasn't angry at him. He doubted he could handle her wrath only a few moments out of bed.

But Jax had nothing to worry about; Brenda wasn't the slightest bit mad at him. It was Lucy she wanted to strangle. How dare she stand in our house-MYhouse, in our bedroom, she scolded herself again, MYbedroom, and stare at Jax like he was a piece of meat! Not like she cared. Not like she was jealous! Her train of though was derailed by the continuing, far-too-chummy, in Brenda's opinion, conversation between Jax and Lucy. "You throw a hell of a party, Lucy!" SHE threw a 'hell of a party!?!?!? What? WHAT? WHAT?She and Lois had planned the gala from top to bottom, but it was just like Lucy to take all of the credit! Who in the hell did Lucy think she was, forcing her and Jax out of bed! Damned Freudian slips: forcing her out of bed, and forcing Jax out of bed. Forcing them out of bed separately. Okay, it was the same bed, but…

"Yes, Lucy. We had a wonderful time." Brenda plastered on her most contented smile, and wound her arms around Jax's bare abdomen, trying to ignore the electric sensations that bombarded her senses. At her slightest touch, Jax head swiveled around, glancing toward the enchanting creature who was making his life more terrific and terrible than anyone ever had. That same smile appeared on his face, and he barely contained the chuckle desperate to escape. She was jealous. Interesting, very interesting.

Lucy watched the exchange of, well…she didn't know quite what between Jax and Brenda. "I bet you did."

Jax regretfully pried himself out of Brenda's grasp, and motioned to Lucy toward the door, much to Brenda's delight, and subsequent chagrin. "Can I get you anything, Lucy?" She smiled prettily, and nodded. "Let me just put on my robe, and I'll be right down."

"Don't do anything on my account."

"Or on mine." Brenda was trying to stay in the conversation, but her boss and her well, whatever Jax was…roommate, houseguest, whatever, were making it rather difficult. Her emotions calmed when Jax flashed her that simple, sweet, adorable, non-mischievous smile, and turned toward her on his way out the door.

"Do you want anything, sweetie?"

Her mouth ran dry, and she tried to clear her throat, to form a response. "Water! Orange juice! Coffee!"

Jax laughed. That had had the desired affect. "All three mixed together?"

She gave him a smart-alleck smile. "Whatever. Be down in a minute, Jax."

She shut the door, and quickly yanked open her pajama drawer. She hadn't had the need for lingerie in a while, but she knew it was in there somewhere. It was just like Lucy to show up, unannounced, looking picture perfectly beautiful, and flirting with Jax. She'd show her. She'd show both of them. He thought he'd gotten the last word with that "sweetie" remark. "Jasper Jacks, you've been playing with fire. And now, you're about to get burned," she said with a wicked smile.

**

It had been ten minutes, and Jax couldn't figure out, for the life of him, where Brenda was. Lucy was noshing contentedly on a bagel, while Brenda's juice got warm, her coffee got cold, her cereal got soggy, and her water…well, nothing much happened to her water, but it was sitting. Jax had just finished preparing his protein shake, and was pouring it from the blender into a glass, when the door to the kitchen swung open. He didn't feel the glass blender pitcher slip out of his hand, and he didn't hear it shatter on the kitchen floor, all he saw was Brenda. She stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame, her legs crossed at the ankles. All the bobby pins had been removed from her hair and her face had been washed; she wore a simple, short, beige silk robe. Her hair was still a beautiful cascade of tendrils, and her clean face glowed with a hint of blush and lip gloss. "Hey…sweetie."

Brenda beamed when she saw his reaction. She carefully sauntered over to him, and kissed him slowly, softly on the lips. Before he could even begin to get his bearings, Brenda slowly sank to her knees, her eyes trailing over every inch of him. "You'd better be careful, Jax." She smiled as she saw how blissfully ignorant he was of the shatter glass surrounding his feet. "There's glass everywhere."

"Yeah…glass. What?" A startled Jax started to jump back, but Brenda stopped him, and together, they quickly cleaned up the mess. Jax waited expectantly for Brenda to finish wiping the shake from his legs, which she did arduous slowness, and the second she was finished, he politely bolted from the room.

"Jax!" He turned to find her leaning against the island, with a far too satisfied grin on her face. "Don't you want anything?" Lucy took a sip of juice, as she anxiously awaited the next move in the extremely entertaining cat-and-mouse game between Jax and Brenda.

Two can play at this game, Brenda, Jax thought. He strode confidently toward her, and kissed her with the same slow sweetness that she had kissed him with only a few minutes prior. As she traced his lips with her tongue, he broke the kiss, moving his lips toward her ear. "Nothing like a little jealousy to get the blood flowing in the morning."

She didn't react to the fact that Jax knew she had been jealous; she wouldn't have expected less. But Jax was disappointed. He was sure that would do the trick, and cinch round one for him. "So I…feel," she retorted, pressing herself up against him. He smiled, conceding victory, and kissed her again.

"To the victor…."

**

Jax returned from a meeting with Jerry, to find Brenda's luggage stacked by the front door, and her dashing around the house like a madwoman, making sure she had everything that she'd need for nearly three weeks away from home. "So you're really leaving."

"Yep. This is an opportunity of a lifetime, Jax. Can you imagine…12 cities in 20 days! I don't know how Lucy is managing to pull this campaign off, or how she threw it together so quickly, but it's going to be so much fun! Especially Mexico. It's so cool that Miguel is performing for MTV's Spring Break! And that I'm going to be hosting Fashionably Loud! I mean, me and Miguel…it'll be just like old times!"

Inwardly, Jax scowled. He'd seen Miguel's video, the one that he and Brenda made together, and he'd be damned if his employee would muck things up this far along. "Don't worry, Bren. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I'll have something special planned for you. Hopefully, you'll have the same for me." He saw the reaction flicker across her eyes. Neither of them had mentioned the proposal, but with her out of the country, he'd have to work doubly hard, especially with Miguel about to entire the picture. "Are you ready to go?"

Brenda smiled at him. She wasn't going to let him win; not after she'd already tasted victory, literally, that morning. "Yeah. The limo'll be here any minute. Is there anything you want before I leave?"