Status: Completed

Chasing the Missing Paths

The Seventh Encounter

The seventh encounter only happened a few weeks after Emma’s trip to Iceland with Alex. Their relationship went back to what it was before the whole Twitter thing as soon as Alex left to go to his connecting flight and Emma went to the exit. Neither attempted to make any contact after it. It was like they were strangers again, strangers with a very intimate secret. It especially caused distress for Emma. She at least expected an angry message that said she had caused a fight between Alex and his girlfriend.

She was leaving a building in LA when another significant person happened to be walking past from a lunch date he had had with friends. One was extremely happy, while the other had only been having countless bad days right after each other.

“Emma!” Jack shouted to catch her attention when he spotted her coming out of the large glass doors, jogging up to her. “What are you doing out in LA?”

But when he got closer, he could see that Emma did not look good at all. He knew her as the girl that was confident enough to get up on stage with a stranger without being drunk, the girl who knew her self worth and wouldn’t just give her number out to random people, and the girl who trusted so much she was okay with a strange man going on a trip with her. Her face showed that she was broken and it made Jack feel horrible for being so cheerful himself.

“I just had an audition for a movie,” she explained gloomily, leaving out her usual bubbly greeting and hug. “It didn’t go all too well. The character’s supposed to be this always happy best friend, and I couldn’t exactly portray that right now.”

“What’s been going on?” Jack asked laced with concern. He knew Emma even less than Alex, but he couldn’t leave her like this. “Is it because of your trip with Alex?”

“This has nothing to do with what happened with Alex,” Emma lied, still trying to forget about what they had done, what she had done.

“I knew something happened! Alex was being way too quiet about it all!” Jack exclaimed, trying to quiet down his accusation a little. “And this so has to do with it. I’m taking you out for coffee right now so we can talk about this.”

“I’m really not up for coffee right now, Jack,” she sighed while longing to get back to her hotel and just climb into bed.

“You need to talk, you can’t just bottle it up. I’ll pay.”

And so, Jack took Emma to one of his favorite cafes. He ordered them both a coffee and bought a cookie along with it for them to share--although he hoped Emma would either not want it or leave him a bigger piece. He brought the drinks from the check-out counter and put them onto the table as he slid onto the chair across from Emma at their two-person table.

“Okay, spill,” he said as he carefully took a sip from his own coffee.

Emma, however, just had her hands wrapped around this coffee cup and refused to say anything other than, “but I don’t know you.”

“So? Forget about that for now,” Jack shrugged, breaking the cookie in half and starting to nibble on his piece. “I know Alex really well, so I can practically tell you anything you need to know. It will be like talking to him about whatever’s on your mind without the pressure of it actually being him.”

She didn’t do anything for a couple of seconds, but eventually drank some of her own coffee, making Jack smile. It wasn’t much, but it showed that she caved and was actually going to do something a little social. There was some sort of trust she now had.

“Do you really want to know?” She double checked, pulling up one side of her mouth to show her uncertainty. “Because there’s no way to say it nicely and it will be very direct.”

“I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong,” Jack confirmed and watched as Emma broke off a half from her side of the cookie, putting the other piece closer to him to show that he could have it.

“Alex and I had sex,” she deadpanned and casually bit into the small piece of cookie.

Jack, however, choked on his coffee and nearly spat it out. “I knew something must have happened. But I expected some kind of a moment, not actually sex!”

“Yes, and I feel horrible about it. It was bad. The sex itself wasn’t bad, but the situation is bad.”

“Did you catch feelings for him?” Jack genuinely wondered, knowing the root of the problem but not what was causing her to be so down.

“No… I just feel guilty,” Emma mumbled as she opened a packet of sugar and poured it into her coffee before slowly stirring it. “He was like a rebound--my boyfriend broke up with me just mere days before. But he has a girlfriend. I helped him cheat on her. I’ve been cheated on myself, and it’s the worst feeling.”

“Huh…” Jack frowned and gave a nod. “I don’t think she knows. I didn’t even get to hear anything from Alex. And I’m sure he would have had to sleep on the couch even if she found out and she was semi-okay with it.”

It made Emma feel even worse that they lived together and that she could have ruined their entire relationship. “That still doesn’t make what I did any better!”

“Well, no, not exactly. But you didn’t ruin their relationship. As far as I know and have heard, they’re still happily together. Those two are always a little confusing to me, though.”

“Even if I didn’t ruin it, I still can’t ever see Alex again. And I have a tendency of ruining into him at random moments!” She freaked out a little, rubbing her temples.

“Why? It’s not like you’re into him, and he’s still into his girlfriend. It will just be like the usual five minutes you see each other.” Jack didn’t see the problem. If Alex had tried to get with her at the party and was able to act normal again after that, then it shouldn’t be much different this time.

“Cause it was awkward as fuck!” Emma whisper-shouted and ran her finger through her hair.

“Having sex was awkward? Well, that’s no good.” He shook his head.

“No, no, the sex itself was great.” She slowly felt like she was gossiping with one of her best friends instead of one of Alex’s. It was taking a great weight off her shoulders, she hadn’t said a word to anybody else about it. “But before and after was awkward! The kiss was fine, so was getting naked and the little foreplay we had, but I’m not on birth control, so we couldn’t just get down to business. Alex said he didn’t have any condoms on him because he wasn’t expecting to have sex, but I just casually pulled some out of my bag--now bear in mind that I was going to go on this trip with my boyfriend, who broke up with me after I had packed my bag and I wasn’t just not going to go. So, that’s awkward number one. Awkward number two, I only had magnum condoms with me. Alex was like ‘oh fuck’ since he never used those before and never felt the need to try them--not my fault my ex-boyfriend preferred them. We managed to make it work, but it was definitely not a good one to pull.”

“Way to lower a guy’s self-esteem,” Jack snorted, finding the humor in the story Emma was telling.

“I know right!” She laughed along, her emotions slowly changing for the better. “But that’s not all. I had no clue what to do when we were done because we had to share a bed and I couldn’t just imagine lying there and starting pillow talk, so I got out there as soon as it ended and hid in the bathroom. I was literally in there for hours because I couldn’t just walk out. That was also awkward as fuck. Then the next morning I went to have breakfast before he even woke up. When he finally did come down, he sat at the same table and I had just finished so I left and told him we had to go to the airport in an hour. Also awkward. We didn’t talk until we finally decided to forget about what happened.”

“Man, that is a mess,” Jack apologized. “But how was your trip otherwise? Was it also that awkward?”

And so Emma described everything, from the slight awkwardness at the beginning to the game they made to overcome that, to all the different activities they had done. Although she obviously didn’t notice herself, Jack saw how she lit up when talking about all the ‘normal’ things she had done with Alex. To him, there was an interest in her that went beyond the ‘rebound’ she claimed to view him as. But he could see that she definitely didn’t notice it herself.

“Tell you what, if you give me your number, I’ll make sure to keep you updated if anything does happen between Alex and Megan,” Jack gave as a suggestion, both to keep her nerves down and as an excuse to contact her when Alex was single again.

And, just like that, Jack had scored Emma’s phone number, but for different reasons than he had always wanted it before. He really did root for the two.
♠ ♠ ♠
Here are your details from the previous chapter! Imagine having to go through that awkwardness twice, I figured it was better this way.

Okay, since we're nearing the end, I want you guys to come up with the last chapter! Like, the last last, final chapter, no more information after it, no more chapters after it. Right now my ending has an open ending, so you guys get to choose the path.
1) Do they end up together or not?
2) What happens in the chapter?
3) Do not make me write a wedding or engagement scene, those are the worst to end on.
4) If nobody comes up with an idea, I will be keeping my open ending ;)