“Okay. Thank you, Ellery.” He smiled.
I took his hand and led him over to the table. We sat down, talked, and ate our bagels and drank our coffee.
“Do you have any plans today?” I asked.
“Actually, I do.”
I was disappointed when he said that because I was hoping we could spend the day together.
“Oh, what are you doing?” I asked, as if it was any of my business.
“I’m spending the day with you.” He smiled.
A wide grin spread across my face as I leaned over and kissed him.
Jake stood in the living room, looking at one of Julia’s paintings while she was upstairs getting her things together.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” I said.
“Yes. It’s stunning. Who painted it?”
“Julia,” I replied.
Jake turned around and looked at me with a shocked expression on his face.
“I know. That’s how I felt when I saw her mother’s paintings for the first time.” I smiled.
“Wow. Julia told me that she painted, but I had no idea that she could paint like that.”
“She gets her talent from her mother and my sister, Cassidy. I own an art gallery in Chicago where more of her paintings are on display, along with Ellery’s. Maybe, sometime soon, you can fly with us to Chicago and you can see for yourself.”
“Thanks, I would like that.”
“Listen, Jake,” I said as I looked at him. “I don’t know what Julia has told you about me, but I’m very protective of her, and I look out for her safety.”
“And you should, because that’s what a father is supposed to do for his children. You don’t have to worry about Julia when she’s with me, Connor. I’ll make sure she’s always safe. I know I’ve only known her a few days, but I already feel like I’ve known her forever. I can’t even describe the feeling I get when I’m with her.”
“You don’t have to, Jake. I already know that feeling. Just do me a favor and be really careful, if you know what I mean.”
“Oh my God! Dad!” Julia exclaimed as she and Ellery walked into the room.
She took Jake’s arm and the two of them left. Ellery walked over to where I was standing and wrapped her arms around me. “Did you just give him permission to have sex with our daughter?”
I took in a deep breath and sighed. “I just told him to be careful. It’s inevitable, Elle. It’s going to happen. Look at the way they look at each other.”
“They remind me of us,” Ellery said as she tightened her grip around me.
“I know they do, baby,” I said as I kissed her on the head.
Jake and I spent every day of the summer together. The first time we had sex, it was the most amazing experience of my life. He was gentle and loving and I couldn’t have asked for anything more. We had sex a lot. Now I understood why my parents acted the way they did. I felt like I couldn’t get enough of Jake, and I wanted him all the time. Just the way he looked at me sent an ache down below. It amazed me to see that, after all those years, my parents still had that same feeling for each other. Collin and I were very lucky to have Connor and Ellery Black as our parents. Sometimes, we didn’t always see eye to eye and we argued, but what kid doesn’t argue with their parents? This was the best summer of my life, and I still missed London so much, but Jake helped me through it and helped me to accept it. He took me to her grave, so I could put flowers down and talk to her. The anger that I had built up towards her for doing what she did started to subside each time Jake and I talked about her.
My mom and dad loved Jake, especially my dad. The way the two of them talked about corporations and finance bored me to death, but they had something in common, and it was good to see them get along. We packed up what we needed and traveled back to New York. I drove back with Jake and we stopped at his house first before he took me to Columbia for a tour. We walked hand in hand across campus as he showed me each building. It was packed as students were moving into their dorms and sorority houses. People were everywhere. We ran into a few of Jake’s friends and he introduced me to them. They seemed like really great guys and I couldn’t wait to get to know them better. Out of the six friends I had already met, only two of them had girlfriends. We all went out that night and had a lot of fun. We laughed, drank (don’t tell my dad), and Jake and I tore up the dance floor at the club. When it was time to leave, we said goodbye to our friends and walked down the streets of New York.
“Your friends are great,” I said as I laid my head on his shoulder.
“Yeah, they’re pretty cool, and I could tell they really like you.”
“I hope so.”
“I love you,” Jake said as he kissed me on the head.
I stopped the moment he said that and looked at him. My heart was racing and my skin started to heat up. “What?”
“I love you.” He smiled.
Neither one of us had said those words yet. As much as I knew I loved him, I didn’t want to be the first one to say it just in case he wasn’t ready.
“Why do you look so shocked?” he asked. “I love you, Julia Rose Black,” he screamed through the streets of the city.”
People smiled at us as they walked by. We were near an alleyway and I grabbed Jake’s arm. I pulled him towards the brick wall as I leaned my back up against it, wrapped my arms around his neck, and then my legs around his waist. He held me up and smiled as he kissed me.
“I can’t help falling in love with you. You’re an amazing woman and I love everything about you. I’ve wanted to tell you for so long that I love you, but I didn’t want to scare you.”
Tears started to form in my eyes. “I love you too.”
“You do?” he asked.
“Of course I do. I wanted to tell you months ago, but I was scared. I’m so in love with you, Jake Michael Jensen.”
His mouth crashed into mine as he kissed me passionately in the alley, on the streets of New York City. “You have no idea how happy I am to hear those words come out of your mouth.” He smiled.
“Actually, I do, because it’s the same way I feel when I hear you say it.”
“I want to make love to you so bad right now, but it’s getting really late, and your dad will kill me if I don’t have you home on time.”
“I don’t care about my dad right now. I just want to be with you.”
“I promise you a perfect night tomorrow.” He smiled. “I won’t let you get in trouble, Julia.”
“Fine.” I pouted as I unwrapped my legs from his waist.
“No pouting.” He smiled as he cupped my chin in his hand and softly kissed my lips.
That was the night that sealed the deal for our relationship. Those three words bonded us in a way we never could have imagined.
Thanksgiving was approaching and I was busy studying hard for my exams. The past few months at Columbia were amazing and I met some wonderful people. I was sitting on my bed doing my homework when my dad walked into my room.
“Do you have a minute to talk to your dad?” he asked.
“Of course I do, Daddy.” I smiled.
He walked into the room and sat down on the edge of the bed next to me. “I miss you.”
I tilted my head as I looked at him because I didn’t know what he meant.
“Dad, I see you every day. What do you mean you miss me?”
“You’re so busy, Princess, between college and Jake, there isn’t time for anything else, and I miss our little talks.”
“Aw, Dad. I’m sorry. I’m still trying to balance everything. You know I’ll always have time for you,” I said as I sat up and hugged him.
“I just don’t want us to drift apart because we get so caught up in the day-to-day stuff.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll always be here for you, Dad.” I smiled. “Now, I know you didn’t just come in here to talk about that.”
“No, actually, I need to talk to you about Thanksgiving. Your mom and I decided that we’re taking the whole family to Aspen to celebrate the holiday and do some skiing. We would like Jake and his family to come.”
“That sounds great; we can ask him when he comes over later. I think he said something about his parents wanting to go to the Hamptons for Thanksgiving.”
“Well, just so we’re clear, you’re spending Thanksgiving with us.” He winked.
“Of course I am, Dad.” I smiled.
He leaned over and kissed me on the head. “I’ll let you get back to studying.”
A couple of hours had passed and I was so engrossed in my studies that I didn’t even notice Jake leaning up against the doorframe of my bedroom. I looked up and he was standing there smiling at me. He was so sexy and, at that moment, I wished my parents weren’t home.
“You look so hot when you study like that,” he said.
I set my laptop to the side and held out my arms. “Come here.” I smiled.
He walked in, sat on the edge of my bed, gave me an amazing kiss, and then hugged me tightly. “I missed you.”
“I missed you too. What are your parents doing for Thanksgiving?”
“They’re going to the Hamptons and having some huge dinner with the rest of my family and friends. Why?”
“My dad decided that he’s taking the whole family to Aspen for Thanksgiving and he wants you and your parents to come.”
“Well, I know they won’t be able to because they’ve already made plans for the Hamptons. They invited you and I told them that I’d probably just stay in the city with you and your family because I know your dad would flip if you weren’t here for Thanksgiving.”
“Yeah, he already warned me.” I laughed.
Jake held my face in his hands. “I will go wherever you go, because I refuse to spend a holiday without you.
I kissed him gently on the lips. “I love you.”
“I love you more,” he whispered as he started to tickle me.
I grabbed his hands and tried to make him stop as I giggled so loudly that my dad came up the stairs.
“Sorry to interrupt your fun, but dinner’s ready.” He smiled.
“Okay, Dad. We’ll be down in a minute.” I laughed.
Jake and I walked downstairs and sat at the table for dinner. He had become part of the family and pretty much a permanent fixture at our house.
“Jake’s family is going to the Hamptons for Thanksgiving, but Jake is coming with us to Aspen,” I said as I looked at my dad.
“Great. You’ll have a good time, Jake.” My dad smiled at him.
“Of course he will. He’ll be with me,” I said as I scrunched up my nose at Jake.
“Hey, Jake. Do you want to play some Call of Duty after dinner?” Collin asked.
Jake looked over at me. “Are we going anywhere, babe?”
“No. You two can play. I have to study anyway.”
“Yes!” he said to Collin.
Once dinner ended, Jake gave me a kiss and went upstairs with Collin. My dad went to his office to do some work and my mom and I stayed back to clean up.