28 - Jen

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Watching him go she let out a long breath. It was as if she hadn't breathed most of the afternoon. He was extremely patient with her as they went about their work. She used to have Sterling help her, but he would get impatient quickly. Now she usually had Lexi come help although before March it was always Trevor.

Jen called Avery when she returned from the house to find out about the weekend.

Avery said, "I know we're staying with Alex, but I'm not sure what else."

"He lives steps from the beach. It's supposed to be nice."

"Is it your beach?" Avery asked.

"No, it's another one."

"Will I see you? You'll be done working right?"

"The house will be done tomorrow. If Alex works on Saturday, we could get together. I want you to meet my parents."

"Oh, I want to meet them too. Are you nervous?"

"Nervous about my parents?" Jen asked confused.

"No, about the house..."

"Oh, I always am."

"Listen Jen, Tom just walked in. I'll talk to you when I know more. Bye."

She was gone and Jen spent time with her parents finishing her drawing of her father. When she went to bed, she tossed and turned thinking of Sydney seeing the house. Deep sleep came late and she was up early. She wanted to be downstairs to see Alex when he stopped for coffee. This time she didn't miss him. He was talking with her father about Mrs. Blake.

"If I hear anything, I'll let you know," Rick said and turned to Jen and said, "Good morning Jenny-girl."

"Morning, Dad, Alex."

"You ready for your big day?" Alex asked.

"No," she said looking down at her shorts and tee shirt, "I have to get dressed."

"She'll love it. You have no reason to be nervous," he assured her. Somehow she believed him. "So I guess I'll meet Avery tonight."

"You'll like her. Have fun with them," she said. Before he could respond she turned and said that she had to get ready. She felt awkward because Avery was coming, but she'd be with Alex. Jen felt as if she couldn't be with Alex, because ─because it was stressful, because of rumors, because she didn't trust herself, because, because.

She had fresh cut flowers delivered to finish off her designs. She spent a few hours taking pictures from every possible angle. Viewing each to ensure she captured what she wanted.

Jen paced the floor while she waited for Sydney. Dressed in her typical professional way with more makeup than she had worn since she left New York, she felt like an imposter. She had never felt the need to wear makeup to impress Alex. Thinking of him, she smiled when a text came through, she's gonna love it!

She responded, it's your house

Yes, but you made it a home

Before she could respond she heard the car and rushed out to meet Sydney. The whole family was with her for the long weekend. The children raised to be polite greeted her. Her husband, Philip was quietly reserved. She told them to take a look around. She followed them in but stood back as they explored. She heard many positive reactions. Secretly she hoped the children would like their rooms. She always loved designing special spaces for children.

They gathered back downstairs one by one, each bubbling with excitement. In the midst of the commotion, there was a knock on the door and Sydney ushered Alex in.

"Oh Alex, you did an amazing job and then Jennifer's designs. It's just stunning."

"I wanted to see for myself how you liked it," he smiled.

"You, two are incredible. We're having a gathering tomorrow night. You should come. It's casual," she said.

"My brother is coming home for the weekend," Alex said.

"Bring him. Just stop by, you might be able to get some business out of it," she said and added, "Jennifer can I expect you?"

"I'll stop by. Alex, what about you?" Jen asked.

"Alright," he smiled.

"Excellent!"

Jen announced, "Spend some time looking around and let me know if you want any changes. I'll get out of your way and let you enjoy your new home."

Alex said his goodbyes and followed her out. "I told you not to worry," he said, "Come on it's lunchtime."

The first thing Jen did was text Avery to tell her to bring a dress for the party and ask her to get one of Jen's too. She also told her to warn Tom.

When she entered The Landing, he was waiting for her. "You eating?" he asked.

"My stomach is still in knots. I'll sit with you," she said grabbing a bottled water. "Do you really want to go to the party?"

"No, but it's good for business. I also figure that Avery might want to see your work."

She was surprised at how thoughtful he was and added, "Your work too."

He said, "You look different... professional."

"I have an image to keep," she said, "This is just the way I dress every day in New York."

"Except when you go to fancy parties and you wear a dress that..."

She smiled at his loss for words and said, "You liked that dress."

"Yes," his voice was husky.

"Do you have work to get to, because you're starting a conversation that we probably shouldn't be having," she said as she looked deep into his eyes. She smiled as she watched him retreat.

She spent the afternoon sending the pictures to Lexi. Lexi called her and raved about them. Sterling called too and said, "Darling, those pictures are incredible. I see a full spread article. You and Lexi can work on sending the pictures out."

"I'm glad it's done. Sydney's having a party tomorrow night. I'll make an appearance. Avery and Tom will be here."

"In Maine? Why would they?" he asked.

"For a weekend at the beach and to get out of the city."

"I've got an appointment for us on Wednesday late in the afternoon. Avery recommended this woman," he said, she acknowledged the date even though he had told her before. He added, "I'm flying to tell my parents in the morning."

"Don't worry. They're going to be thrilled that I'm out of the picture," she said. "Have a good weekend." As she hung up, she no longer cared that the Dixons never liked her.

Jen was eating dinner with her parents when Avery called. Excusing herself she walked into her mother's living room. She realized it looked much the same as when she was growing up. Sterling would cringe, but she loved the people, not their furnishings.

"Hi, Avery. Are you all packed?" she said.

"Almost. I've got your dress. What's this other party?" she asked.

"Sydney Thompson's. You'll get to see the house!"

"That's wonderful. Listen I have a big favor to ask you. Can you pick us up tonight? Tom didn't bother renting a car," she asked.

"Of course. What time?"

"We land about ten-fifteen. This is why I love you!"

"Me too. Tom will know where I'll be parked."

Who is excited for this weekend?

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