I woke up to the sound of Jason answering his phone. His voice was clear. He hadn't fallen asleep. I was lying next to him on my couch, my head pillowed on his chest. His arm was firm around my waist.
“Hello?” he said, softly.
“Where are you?” I heard Jen's tinny reply.
“At my girlfriend's.” He grinned.
“That better be Chloe, or I will kill you.”
“Of course it is.”
“What do you say?”
“You were right. I owe you one, mean bossy big sister by three minutes.”
“And did she hear you say girlfriend?”
I looked up so he'd see that I was awake.
“Yes. And did you hear me get slapped? No.”
“You are lucky, mister.”
“And you have a plane to catch at six a.m.”
“I know, I know. I'll come. Gimme a few minutes.”
“No, you're right. Again. Doesn't that make you feel good?”
“Guess we don't get to see Chloe again this trip...”
“Next time. 'Kay, bye.”
Jason put his phone in his pocket and sat up. “I am really sorry.”
“How long did I sleep?” I smoothed my hair.
“I dunno. Look, this shoot's going to be seven weeks.”
“It's okay. You've been gone before.”
“This is different. Promise me the rules won't change back? We'll figure out sometime when you can come up and visit and-”
I kissed him, drawing it out long enough that I felt some of the tension go out of his shoulders. “I promise the rules won't change back.” He'd give up on me long before I got over him. I knew this for certain.
“I love you.” He gathered up the ice cream carton and the spoon.
“Love you, too. You don't have to do that,” I protested as he went to wash the spoon in the sink. I grabbed the carton and tossed it in the garbage.
Jason picked up his jacket from where he'd draped it over the couch, then paused to kiss me again before he left.
“C'mon, lie to him, he totally deserves it.” Jen whispered so forcefully that it came out like a hiss. I was at her parents' house with Kyra lounging on the couch nearby, Steve's kids running riot outside, and Jason's parents sitting across the table from me. Jen sat right next to me. It was just over a week since Jason had left for his shoot.
“You're busy all break?” said Jason over the phone.
“Some people got laid off at work,” I lied. “It's extra shifts for everybody.”
“You can't come at all, for the whole shoot,” said Jen.
I shook my head. “No,” I mouthed.
“Can you come for a long weekend in February, maybe?”
“Yeah, I can do that. I'm so sorry.”
“It's okay. Can't complain about your job when mine's got me up in Vancouver.”
“Look, I'll figure out my work situation as soon as possible and let you know.”
“Okay. I love you.” Normally, on Skype, this was when he would stroke the screen with his fingertips.
But this wasn't Skype so he couldn't see that I was sitting in front of his whole family. I took a deep breath. Yeah, this was embarrassing. “Love you, too.”
“He is lucky,” said Jen.
I put my phone away, not able to look his dad in the eye, but I got the impression both his parents were smiling at me. My face must've been beet red. It felt like my skin was burning up.
“Okay, so I booked flights for next Thursday to the following Tuesday,” said Jen.
“And Chloe,” said his mother. “We can cover hotel if you'd like?”
“I can cover the hotel,” I said. “I found a place not too far from his.”
“What my parents mean to say, is if you are getting your own room, they'll pay for it in Jason's hotel.”
I put my head in both my hands. “Yes, I will be in my own room.”
“We aren't judging,” said his mother, brightly. “You're both adults and-”
I cleared my throat. “Um... yeah.” Jason and I hadn't ever even been on a real date and this is where they thought the relationship was at?
Kyra rolled her eyes and I found myself exchanging a rueful smile with her. She burst out laughing.
“And Dad will be calling your room every night to check- just kidding,” said Jen. “Yeah, that was really not handled well, was it? Okay, so you need anything else for the trip?”