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AS THE WEEKS went on, the more and more Marley began to see of Jess simply by her own free will.

She sought him out at school (when he was there, that was), she spent time with him after closing hours (usually editing his most recent work), and she'd found herself in Luke's apartment twice (once was talking about some stupid thing she couldn't bother to remember. The other had occurred when Marley had forgotten her wallet at the diner and had returned to grab it from the apartment and saw that Luke and Jess had Spaceballs on and there was no way she wasn't staying for that). It was a subtle change that the two of them barely noticed, as Jess had begun doing the same. However, it wasn't subtle to the people around them. Everyone else had noticed. Everyone else was only a little more freaked out than when they realized they were getting along.

It seemed as though when Jess wasn't with Rory or when Marley wasn't with Courtney or her family, the two of them were together in some way. It was a new sort of experience for both of them. Jess hadn't had many reliable friends back in New York and while Marley had a pretty good number of friends at school, she hadn't formed a connection like this with anyone since she'd met Courtney in elementary school. It was a change that was welcomed with open arms and proved beneficial for every party involved.

Marley had become gradually become less obsessed with keeping to her schedule. While she still stressed herself out about school (to unnecessary levels, Jess would say), she found herself taking just a little bit more time for herself. She was sleeping more, she was eating better, and she was happier. Jacob was very happy to see this change, as was her mother.

Jess, for the most part, was kept out of trouble. Between being with Rory, work, and now befriending Marley, he was almost too busy to cause destruction to the town. Even though the Wal-Mart thing still proved to be a controversial topic, he was doing better. He too was happier. The two people he liked in this town seemed to make everything just a little better.

Things, in general, were better. Especially now that Marley had confronted Ryan about the rumor. After some harsh words and quiet threats, Ryan eventually came forward and admitted the truth. Or his version of the truth. Marley knew he would never admit to the real reason they'd broken up, but she was pleased enough now that she wasn't known as a cheater.

Things were a better version of normal and that was all she could ask for.

Luke's had been busy the entire week, and this shift was no exception. She had a moment to breathe when Luke sent her up to the apartment to get some of the new utensils that had been shipped to the diner. She sighed as she went to go pick up the boxes, attempting to figure out how she was going to carry all of them down the stairs.

She jumped as the bathroom door to the right of her swung open. Marley put a hand over her heart and glared at Jess as he exited, ready to curse him out for scaring her. This look changed when she noticed that he had a black eye accompanied by a small gash on his cheekbone.

SILVER LINED DOUBT. [JESS MARIANO]Where stories live. Discover now