"Just a bit."

He laughed, but then his eyes narrowed a little. "Speaking of the hen party, you never answered my question."

"What question?" My eyebrows came together in confusion. Which was no shock.

He was quiet for a moment, letting the dramatic atmosphere take over. "... Did you actually have a crush on me when we were children?"

Of course, he couldn't leave it alone. I croaked out a laugh and rolled my eyes. "Really?"

"Hey, I'm only trying to take your mind off what's going on in there." He held up his hands in surrender. His thumb pointed in the restaurant door's direction.

"Well, what did you expect me to say?" I said, placating him, yet experiencing a flash of anger at all the history talk. "We were kids. Why does it matter if I had a crush on you all those years ago? We didn't even know what that meant, really. This isn't appropriate."

His hands flew up in surrender yet again. But he had an air of sarcasm in his tone, probably to defuse the tension. "Oh, sorry. I didn't realise that I was such a touchy subject for you."

Straight away, I felt bad for snapping at him. I put my head in my hands once more and rubbed my eyes, not caring if my make-up smudged. Now I had something else to feel bad about.

"Look, I'm sorry." I dared to glance at Jared. "I'm just stressed out."

Jared looked unbothered by my previous aggression. He never took my anger seriously because I never truly meant it. It was almost always a knee-jerk reaction and I would regret it as soon as it left my lips, and I would no doubt apologise once I had time to think about it. He knew that, so he always took it in his stride.

"You're meant to be marrying the man of your dreams tomorrow. What is there to be stressed out about?" Jared asked, as if it was the easiest answer in the world.

"I don't know!" I breathed. Frustration took over as I shot up from the bench. I started pacing in small lines in front of where Jared sat. I verbally tried to rationalise my erratic thoughts. "All I know is that I freaked out when everyone was talking about routine." Then it all came flooding out, and I couldn't stop it. Every fleeting thought I'd had, but hadn't yet verbalised, spewed out of my mouth like vomit. "I don't want that. I don't want to be meeting my husband every day for lunch at the same place, probably eating the same thing. Nor do I want to attend every charity gala, where all I would do is stand there, attempting to look pretty, trying not to embarrass my husband, and talk about nothing but business. Not only that, but I don't want to give up a job I enjoy at the bookshop. I don't want to pop kids out left, right and centre immediately after we're married. I want my own life. I want to be spontaneous like I once was. I don't want to be following around in someone else's footsteps. I don't want my only personality trait to be 'wife'. I don't want a set routine!"

There was silence in the air as my outburst came to a close. My eyes widened as I realised the gravity of my admittance. I panicked for a moment, as I wondered if someone else had overheard what I had said. I didn't want to explain my feelings to anyone other than Jared. And that was only because he was right in front of me.

Speaking of Jared, he remained silent as he took everything in. He leant forward, placing his elbows on his knees, and clasping his hands in front of him. I watched him with wary eyes, wondering what he would make of this ordeal.

He broke the silence as he shrugged. "Well, it sounds to me like you don't want to be James' wife."

I stopped short and stared at Jared as if he had grown another head. "What are you talking about? Of course, I want to marry James."

"But why?" He asked, oddly persistent. "Everything you have described as not wanting is what being James' wife would entail."

"Why do I have to explain myself to you?" I grunted. What was this? The Spanish Inquisition? "I want to marry him because I love him!"

"But... are you in love with him?" Jared piped up.

What a stupid question to ask!

I scoffed and brushed my hair away from my face. I was a couple of comments away from turning nasty.

"No offence," I scowled. "But I don't think you're very qualified to be talking to me about love. I've never seen you hold down a girlfriend for longer than a month in all the years I've known you."

I take that back... I was already turning nasty.

My stress had made me unnecessarily harsh, and I was lashing out, but the frustration took over my mouth. Speaking of frustration, something must have triggered inside of Jared because he was now on his feet.

"That may be the case," he said through gritted teeth. My words had finally affected him, but I could tell he was trying so hard not to snap at me. Not while I was in this fragile emotional state. Though I knew he had every right to. "But don't act like I don't know what love is."

I found that incredibly hard to believe. All the reasons I fell out with him in the first place came bubbling to the surface, but I refrained from blowing up.

Instead, I took a deep breath as I settled in a mode I was comfortable in. I folded my arms and raised one eyebrow at him in a challenge.

"Go on, then," I said. I transferred back into the default mode of challenge and snide remarks. Rather than the anger that was dangerously threatening to appear.

"What?" He asked, stumped by my change of tactic.

"Tell me what love is." I took care to enunciate each word, so he didn't misconstrue my test.

"I'm not doing this," he scoffed and broke eye contact with me. Jared denying a challenge? That wasn't like him. Though I couldn't deny that our conversation had turned childish, and it was me who started it.

"Because you don't know," I concluded. The triumph in my voice caused a steely expression in Jared's eyes. This was the last straw, and he was so close to breaking. Do you want to know how I knew this? Because it would work the same way for me.

"Fine!" Jared exclaimed. I resisted a triumphant twitch of the eyebrow because I was proud that I had finally got to him. Jared sighed and licked his lips before replying. "I know about love because love is the reason you get up in the morning. Love is when you can't stop thinking about a certain person. When they're the last thing on your mind before you go to sleep at night. And the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning. When you would do anything for them." He paused for a moment and looked down at the floor. I took this time to roll my eyes and scoff at his cliché musings. What awful romance novel did he get that out of? But he continued, stepping his game up. He raised his eyes to make direct eye contact with me. "Love is... dropping everything you're doing, so you can replace your sister, to be the maid of honour for the woman that you love. Because you'd hate for her to have a wedding day that's less than perfect. Even if you're not the one she's marrying."

Jared's voice broke on the last word, and I had to strain to see the sheen of unshed tears in Jared's eyes. My entire world fell apart as I pieced together what he was saying. All the breath left my body. I gasped as I struggled to breathe.

"What are you saying?" I whispered, a catch in my throat. I had a logical idea, but some sick part of me wanted him to say it, wanted proof.

"What I'm saying is," Jared said, calmer than he was before. "I know what love is because I've felt it. I'm still feeling it. I'm in love with you, Felicity Park, and I always have been."


Well there we have it! This confession was eleven chapters in the making! Though I guess some of you saw it coming. What did you think of it? Did you see it coming? Or was it a surprise for you? What do you think will happen after this confession? Will it change anything? Let me know in the comments!

Also, I'm a little curious: are you Team James or Team Jared? I'm intrigued to find out!

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