Chapter 7 - Stay

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Dart carefully moves away from Jo, sliding a pillow under her head and covering her with a blanket. She looks so peaceful and he knows by looking at her that she won't wake up soon. These past few days were hard on her, it drained her from all her energy. He walks to the kitchen to get a pen and a piece of paper to write her a note, putting it on the table in the living room. He smiles as he reads it over, leaning over to kiss her forehead, grabbing his keys and walking out quietly. He needs to buy her something and he sure hopes he can find what he has in mind. He texts Jake to let him know Jo is asleep on his couch, tired from the talk they had. Jake will understand, but he doesn't want him to worry.

He walks into a jewelry shop and comes out fairly soon, smiling because he found exactly what he was looking for. He has to leave for work tomorrow, something he doesn't look forward to telling Jo about. But at least he has something to give to her, hoping it will help to express his feelings for her. On his way home, he decides to go by the cafe, to see Jake and to get some food to take home with him. He walks in and sees Jake behind the bar, looking at his phone with a worried look. Dart walks over to him and Jake looks up. "Hey Dart. Jo still sleeping?" Dart nods and replies: "I think so. Went out for a bit to get her a gift and was hoping to get something to eat from you, so I can take it back to her. I would really like to spend more time with her, if she wants to that is." Jake walks into the kitchen and comes back out after a bit with 2 cups to go and a small box. "Fine by me Dart. I know you will do right by her." Jake looks at Dart and notices he suddenly looks a bit worried. "Are you okay Dart? You had some difficult things to talk about with her." Dart looks at his feet for a few seconds. "Yeah, I am okay. It is hard. But it's love. A special kind of love. But I have to tell her something else today and I'm worried about how she will take it. I have to leave for work tomorrow. It's crappy timing, but I can't get out of it." He rubs his neck and sighs. Jake says: "It will be okay Dart, she will have me to lean on and if it's really love, it will still be here when you get back. Now stop worrying and take the food to her. It's veggie soup and cheesecake, she loves both. Go man, spend as much time with her as you can!" Dart takes the food and shakes his head with a smile, feeling encouraged by Jake. "Thanks Jake, bye!" He basically runs back home, missing Jo already.

Jo wakes up with a shock, not sure where she is for a second, she looks around as her eyes focus on her surroundings. The first thing she notices is a ginger cat, laying at her feet, on the blanket she is wrapped in. She smiles at the cat and sits up to pet it, covering it's body with the blanket. "Dart?" No answer. Where could he be? She notices the note from the corner of her eye and picks it up. She reads the message with a smile: You look so cute, laying on my couch, like you belong here. I did not run away from you, I will be right back, bearing gifts. I love you. Dart. She holds the note against her heart and looks out of the window, as Dart rushes into the garden and up to the door. She gets up and opens the door for him with a smile, he looks into her eyes and plants a small kiss on her lips. He walks in and puts the food on the table. "Hey beautiful. Have you been awake long?" Jo blushes slightly and shakes her head. "No I just woke up. Canelle kept me company though." Dart looks at the couch, seeing the cat sleeping there, wrapped up in the blanket. He raises his eyebrow and mumbles: "He looks way too happy about that." Jo laughs and sits down on the floor in front of the couch. "Did you bring me veggie soup? From the cafe?" Dart grabs two spoons from the kitchen and sits down next to her to hand her a cup. "I did. Jake chose the food though. Soup and cheesecake." Jo smiles wide and lifts the lid of the cup, smelling the soup, before taking a sip. She moans slightly and leans back relaxed. Dart eats his soup, a bit lost in thought about having to leave her tomorrow.

As soon as they finish the soup, he gets up to grab a fork from the kitchen and sits back down next to Jo. He opens the box with the cheesecake in it and turns to her to feed her a piece. She opens her mouth, staring at him with a twinkle in her eyes. He moves the fork closer to her mouth, her eyes getting a shade darker, before quickly putting the piece in his own mouth with a grin. She stares at him with her mouth open, squinting her eyes for a second, before jumping on him for a wild kiss, trying to take the piece from him with her tongue. He can't help but laugh at her actions, before he takes another piece of cake and holds it between his lips. He tilts his head slightly, looking at her with an amused look in his eyes. She doesn't waste time and gets close to him fast, sucking the piece of cheesecake from his mouth, all happy with herself and leaving him a bit flustered. She laughs softly and says: "I can resist a lot of things in life, but cheesecake is not one of them. And I love you, but I might love cheesecake more." She sticks her tongue out at him and he moves in to lick it, pulling her into his arms for a passionate kiss. He breaks the kiss and says: "I think I found my go to dessert when I'm with you. It brings out the spirit that matches your hair." He smiles wide at her and she stares back at him, giggling happily. He holds out the box to her, pulling it back right before she can get a hold of it. He winks at her and says: "You can have it all, on one condition." She raises her eyebrows, her eyes moving back and forth from the box to his green eyes. "I need a kiss after every bite." She grabs the box and laughs. "Deal!" She kneels in front of him, making a show of the bite of cheesecake she takes, closing her eyes, moaning softly. Dart swallows, staring at her mouth, while he chews on the inside of his lip. She opens her eyes and smiles, before kissing him wildly again, wrapping her arms around him and pulling his hair slightly. He groans and kisses her back just as wild, pulling her onto his lap.

When she comes up for air she laughs and states: "Oh forget it, I found something yummier than cheesecake." Dart laughs with her, hugging her close, smelling her hair, suddenly remembering the gift he bought her. "I have a gift for you. I bought it while you were sleeping. I hope you want to wear it." He hands the small box to her, looking down, feeling very insecure. Jo opens the box and smiles as she sees what's inside: a golden necklace with two charms on it, a dart and a small heart. She takes the necklace out of the box and hands it to him. "I love it! I will never take it off!" She turns around, lifting her hair and Dart hangs it around her neck. He closes the clasp and kisses her neck. She turns to face him again, touching the charms and looking at him with so much love, that it takes his breath away. He looks down again and mumbles: "So you won't forget about me." Jo feels her heart drop and strokes his cheek. "Why would I ever forget about you?" He takes a deep breath and blurts it out, afraid to lose his nerve. "I have to leave for work tomorrow. I can't get out of it. I am sorry." She holds her breath for a second and then says: "Dart? Look at me." He looks up at her with sad eyes. "I would never keep you from your job. And there's no way I can forget about you, ever. Even if you never come back to me. I love you." He hugs her tight, hiding his face on her shoulder as she strokes his back. "It is all so scary Jo. But I feel the same way. I will love you forever, even if I will never see you again after today. But damn this feeling makes me happy and scared at the same time."

They hold each other close, their hearts beating as one, trying to remember everything about the other. Jo is the first one to speak: "How long will you be gone for?" Dart looks at her, still a little sad he says: "Probably for a week or so. Depending on how the shoot goes." He can see her think, wondering if she is going ask him for more details. But she surprises him and asks: "Who will take care of Canelle and Minous?" He stares at her with his mouth open, totally caught off guard. "Err, usually my neighbor feeds them when I am gone. But this time I was hoping you would be willing to do it." A smile spreads across her face and she replies: "I would love to. I would miss them too much, if I had to miss them for a week." She tries to make herself feel better with the joke, because the idea of him leaving for a week is killing her. But she has to stay strong, he doesn't have to see her pain this time. He will come back and they will be fine. He appreciates what she is trying to do and says: "I knew it. Those cats came first the second you saw them. I shouldn't have introduced you to them." They both laugh softly.

"I will take you to Jake's later, because I have to leave really early tomorrow morning. And if I see you right before I leave, I will probably not leave at all.' He touches the dart around her neck with a sigh. Jo's sadness threatens to consume her and she gets up quickly. She holds her hand out to Dart and says: "Let's go for a walk. I need fresh air and I need to move." Dart gets up and takes her hand, walking out of the door, towards the beach. They walk along the beach for a while, both lost in their own thoughts, holding hands. Suddenly Jo lets go of his hand, turning her face to the ocean, touching the charms on her necklace. He hugs her from behind, with his chin resting on her shoulder he whispers: "I will come back to you as soon as I can. I promise." She lets out a sob and his heart breaks. He can feel her struggle, trying to control her emotions and knows she is desperately trying to stay strong for him. He takes a step back and gets his keys from his pocket, taking the key to his front door from the ring. He places the key into her hand, before turning around and walking away. Trying to make it easier to say goodbye to her, feeling the tears burn behind his own eyes. While he can still see, he pulls his phone from his pocket and texts Jake. After hitting send, he runs home, unable to hold back his feelings.

Jo sinks to her knees on the beach, letting her tears run down her cheeks, too broken to watch him leave. Her shoulders shake uncontrollably and she is about to fall over from the pain invading her entire body. But then two strong arms wrap around her, whispering in her ear: "It's okay. I've got you. It will be okay." As she realizes it's Jake, she knows Dart told him where she was. That makes her cry even more and Jake just holds her close, waiting for the storm to pass. 

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