The following contains deleted scenes or alternative points of view. They are intended to enhance the reading experience of The Mason List. Please be warned – they will contain spoilers if you have not read The Mason List. Thanks SDH
Scene 1: Jess sees Alex for the first time after Paris
The air got pretty damn chilly this time of year. I didn’t feel it much anymore out on Sprayberry. My bones seemed to get used to it years ago. I took another look at my watch. Every minute of the clock ticked by slower than usual – every damn tick. When Henry said she was comin’ for Thanksgivin’, I didn’t believe him. He’d told me she was comin’ home before and well, Alex had a way of not showin’ up. I just hoped she would at least come this time – for his sake.
I missed her. I missed everythin’ ‘bout her. I wanted to see that crazy smile of her’s outlined in freckles. I wanted to see it the moment she stepped out of the car. I thought ‘bout nothin’ else today or any other day really. She haunted this place like a ghost. Her laughter mixed in with the wind. Her face popped up ‘round every corner. Sometimes I would catch myself, imaginin’ that I saw her. And then I would think she’s real, like she’d come back to surprise me. And then I would feel that damn pain in my chest, knowin’ it was my stupid head playin’ tricks on me.
I’d like to say I tried to forget her. But I never really wanted to, so I never gave it much thought. Somewhere inside my gut, I knew she’d come back to me. But that’s the thing ‘bout guts. Guts are nasty and disgustin’. I’ve seen plenty of them tore out of a poor animal on the meadow. So somewhere inside my nasty gut, lived the hope that Alex would come back to me. I guess that hope strangled my heart just as tight too.
Shit, it was brutal. Every damn day was torture, waitin’ for my life to begin. That’s how it felt. I was runnin’ Sprayberry. I was goin’ through the motions of livin’ a normal life but I wasn’t really livin’. Bobby gave me a hard time ‘bout it. No one really understood why she was so important to me. No one really could because they weren’t me and Alex. My love for her wasn’t explainable. I couldn’t make a bunch of guys in a pool hall understand that my heart beat in the body of another person.
I still remember the last time I saw her like it was yesterday. She’d been busy packin’ things up at the farmhouse. I’d stopped in for a drink of water – at least that’s what I told her. That orange hair of hers was pulled up in a mess on the top of her head. She’d had these little pieces fallin’ down in her eyes. I wanted to push them back up, but I didn’t. If I touched her, I would have kissed her again. And if I kissed her again, well that would have led to somethin’ else even worse.
Instead, I’d kept a safe distance as she laughed at my jokes – like she always did. She laughed and I knew I had to break my promise. There’s no way in hell I could watch her get on the plane the next day. I would do somethin’ downright crazy and stupid.
So I’d turned off my phone and rode out to the stump, and pretended it was any old Tuesday. I pretended because I had to let her go. Alex had to experience somethin’ outside of here. She couldn’t stay with me unless she wanted to be at Sprayberry more than any place else in the world. And I guess she needed to see the world, to know what already existed in her heart. It was a risk for me to let her go. But I really didn’t have a choice. She might not ever come back. But my gut told me she would darken the door of Sprayberry again. That nasty old gut told me it was true and my heart believed it.
It was gettin’ late. I headed back to the horse barn. I had several more hours of work to get done before I could see Alex. The damn ranch issues were pilin’ up on me again. It was hard but I didn’t regret it. Sprayberry was my home. Always had been. Always would be.
She’d already be in bed when I got done tonight. But I didn’t care. I’d wake her up just to hear that sling of insults come from her pretty little mouth. She’d tear me a new one then mold that body against mine in a tight hug. I bet her hair still smelled like peaches too.
I worried every day, what it’d be like havin’ her back here. Paris could have changed her. It wouldn’t matter, though. I’d love her anyway.
It was close to midnight when I drove over to the farmhouse. I knew Henry and Caroline would be gone until the mornin’. Parkin’ out front, I saw a light comin’ from her bedroom window. I stayed in the truck, watchin’ the house. I was nervous to see Alex. Maybe she didn’t want to see me at all. I wasn’t sure what I thought would happen tonight when I knocked on the door. I knew what I wanted to happen between us, but there was no chance in hell of her agreein’ to that one tonight. I’d settle for just seein’ her smile.
Climbin’ out of the truck, I headed for the front door, but I stopped and went toward her bedroom window. It was like old times. I remembered all the nights I’d climbed in that window. All the nights as her friend. All the nights when I wished I could have been more.
A lamp sparked a light out in darkness. I watched her. She seemed the same and different, all at the same time. Her long hair was hangin’ damp ‘round her shoulders. Damn. She was still the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
It hurt to see Alex. My heart constricted, realizin’ our time together would be over before it got started. I’d do just ‘bout anythin’ to make her stay. But I’d never ask. Seein’ her tonight wouldn’t be enough. I wanted to tell her how I felt. I wanted to touch her. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to run my hands over her skin. Knowin’ how I felt right now was dangerous. I should go home, but these boots just didn’t seem to understand.
I stayed in the shadows, feelin’ like a damn stalker. She still bit that lip of hers. I chuckled to myself, watchin’ her chewin’ on it as she read some piece of notebook paper. Her face twisted up. She seemed to be in pain. I remembered somethin’ Sadie told me years ago. Alex kept some journal. She said it held some of those rough pieces of Alex. I leaned closer to get a better look at her secrets.
My arm bumped the window, causin’ Alex to jump in her seat. She stuffed the paper back inside the book and pushed it in her desk. I swallowed hard, seein’ her face get closer to the window. The fear turned to excitement as she raised the glass.
“Jerk! You scared the crap out of me.”
“I know. Sort of the point.” I almost choked on the words.
“What are you doing here?”
“Figured you were already back. I wanted to see you.”
“You could have seen me tomorrow. It’s twelve-thirty.”
“Which is tomorrow, smartass. And I haven’t seen that rotten face of yours in a hell of a long time. I couldn’t wait any longer.”
I practically jumped through the window and slammed it shut. Grabbin’ her in my arms, I pulled her body tight into my chest. She felt the same. Her body fit snug against me. Her nose buried into my neck, right ‘bout the time I realized she wasn’t wearin’ anythin’ under that t-shirt. I was afraid to breathe.
I pulled back and looked at her. Alex had my damn t-shirt on. I swallowed hard. She must have taken it with her. In a split second, I imagined all the nights she’d slept naked in Paris, wearin’ nothin’ but my shirt. She let a part of me touch her even when I wasn’t there. Oh, she would deny it, but that’s exactly what she’d done.
“Is that my shirt?”
“You know that was my favorite, and you stole it.”
“I didn’t steal it. It’s been right there in that closet. You could have taken it back anytime.”
“Liar. I think it came back in your suitcase.”
I wanted to hear the slight sound she got in her throat when she lied to me. It was a game with us. But hearin’ her voice do it this time, somethin’ in my chest turned to mush. I reached up and touched the side of her neck. My fingers ran over her skin, then down through her loose hair. I wanted to kiss her. I wanted to run my tongue over her lips. Her eyes got a little wider. I knew Alex could read every thought in my head. I smiled at her instead.
“They not have any sunshine in Paris? You’re like crazy pale and just all freckles.”
“You jerk.” Alex teased, right before she pulled me against her body. I felt every inch of her through my old t-shirt. I tried to stop myself, but I needed to touch her, feel her. My fingers moved down her back and slipped ‘round her waist. They touched the bare skin on her hip. And then I froze, feelin’ her lips whisper against my neck. “I’ve really missed you, Jess.”
Jess sees Alex for the first time after Paris © Copyright 2015 by SD Hendrickson. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.