One last box and everything was packed into the moving van. Jensen took a step back and looked at the collection of boxes and furniture that constituted his life. Former life? He wasn’t sure anymore. All he knew was that staying in the apartment he and Carrie had shared for four years was just too damn hard now. And he wanted their daughter to grow up closer to her remaining family.
“That the last box, kid?” Jeff asked, walking up with Kaylee resting on his hip.
“Yeah that’s everything. Thanks again, dad.”
“Don’t thank me,” he said and patted his son’s shoulder. “I’ll get her settled in the truck.”
Jensen nodded and looked back at the building. It really wasn’t anything to write home about, but he had made a lot of memories there. He recalled the day Carrie and he had moved into their apartment on the fifth floor. Their “honeymoon” had consisted of not leaving the apartment for nearly a week because they couldn’t afford to go anywhere nice. They had always planned on it, but fate seemed to have other plans for them.
After locking the back door of the truck, Jensen stepped up into the cab. Kaylee was secured in her car seat and gnawing on her teething ring. Jeff looked over at Jensen, concern showing clearly in his dark eyes.
“Yeah, let’s go,” Jensen replied, looking from the windshield to his baby daughter.
The drive took a little over an hour on the interstate. Jensen knew the route well from his trips home from college. Back then he only had a basket of dirty laundry and a duffel bag in the backseat. He wondered what had happened to some of his college friends. A few had come to Carrie’s funeral to pay their respects, which had been kind of them. A noise from Kaylee interrupted his thoughts of the funeral.
“What’s up, baby girl?”
“Da?” she held up her teething ring to him.
“That’s okay, Kaylee. I don’t need that,” he said with a smile. With his index finger he gently tapped her nose and she giggled. Always such a happy baby.
Jeff pulled the truck up to the new house and put it in park. Jensen looked at it through the window. It was a nice ranch style home with a fenced in back yard. He wanted Kaylee to grow up with a yard to run around in, not a parking lot.
“You know, that is your house and you can go inside.”
Jensen nodded and climbed out of the truck with Kaylee in his arms. He walked up the short stone path to the front door and fished out his key. “Well, this is it, Kaylee Marie, this is home.” He opened the door to the empty house and stepped inside, his footfalls echoing loudly against the bare walls.
Shortly after their arrival, Samantha Ackles arrived with a stack of Tupperware almost above her head. She walked in the open door, calling out to her husband and son as she did. Jensen saw her by way of the pass through window in the kitchen and jogged over to take the containers from her.
“Thanks, sweetie,” she kissed him on the cheek, “but I can handle it. I just need to know where the kitchen is.”
“I got it and it’s right over there.” The containers were freezing cold and heavy. “Mom, did you freeze me dinner for the next month?”
“Yes. I have to take care of my boy and grandbaby, don’t I?”
“Mom, I know how to cook.”
“Ordering Chinese does not count.”
There was no arguing with her and he wasn’t about to refuse free food. “Thanks, mom.”
“You’re welcome, baby, now where is my little peanut?”
“With dad in the kitchen.”
Samantha walked through the small dining room to the kitchen with Jensen behind her. He set the Tupperware on the counter beside the refrigerator. Kaylee was busy being talked up by her adoring grandmother. It hadn’t occurred to him just how much he missed his family being so close. All throughout high school, he had been ready to get out on his own. Now when he really needed them, he was very glad they were there for him and Kaylee. He put the meals in the freezer and took a seat beside Jeff at the table.
“Jensen, why don’t I take Kaylee to the park while you two finish unpacking?”
“You don’t mind?”
“Of course not.”
“That’d be great. Her bag is in the living room and there are some bottles in the fridge.”
Later that day, after Jensen’s parents had said goodbye, he sat on the couch with Kaylee lying on his chest. From the sounds of her breathing, she was already asleep. Jensen stared up at the unfamiliar ceiling. Even with all of his old things scattered around the house, it still didn’t feel like home. He wondered when that feeling would go away, or if it would ever go away. What he thought had been too much stuff turned out to be not enough to adequately decorate a house. Maybe tomorrow he would see if he could find anything. He didn’t really know much about interior design, so he figured asking his mother would just be the best idea. She didn’t like anything too flowery, so he could trust her.
Jensen eased onto his feet, holding Kaylee against him. He turned out the lights in the living room and wandered back to the nursery. Somehow he had managed not to wake her in the process of putting her into her crib.
“Sleep tight,” he whispered and kissed her forehead. “Love you.”
He put the gate back up and left the room, making sure to turn the baby monitor on beforehand. In his own room, Jensen changed into a pair of pajama bottoms and got into bed. Unlike his daughter, Jensen found it difficult to sleep that night. Once he did fall asleep, however, it was far from restful. He dreamt of Carrie's sudden death after she had given birth. Then he was standing at her grave with a tiny baby in his arms not knowing what the hell to do next. At five thirty, he had had enough and went into the kitchen to start a pot of coffee. There was a lot to be done in the house today, might as well get started early.
About a week following the move in, Jensen had found his rhythm pretty well. The house looked a lot better with some extra furniture. His mom had put an arrangement of framed photos of Kaylee on the wall above his desk. He loved it and thought it was better than just leaving the pictures on a memory card. The house had lost its initial strangeness. All those noises Jensen wasn’t used to hearing in the middle of the night no longer caused him to go for the bat in his closet.
With his Internet hooked up, he was able to get back to work. One of the perks of being a freelance writer was that you could more or less set your own hours. Also, he could watch Kaylee during the day and not have to pay a babysitter to do it for him. His work had been pretty steady since college. During his time there, he had made some very good contacts who always pointed him in the direction of a decent paying job. Though lately, he had considered looking for editing jobs at a publisher or maybe working for the local paper.
He had met a few of his neighbors, all of whom were very nice and brought him some sort of baked goods. The double chocolate chip brownies from Mrs. O’Malley across the street were high on his list of favorites. Like most people he knew they were all completely taken with Kaylee. A few even offered to watch her if he ever needed to get out of the house for a few hours.
An old friend of his from high school, Christian Kane was still in the area. He came over one afternoon and caught up with Jensen. It had been a very long time since they had seen each other, each having gone to different colleges. Chris had opened his own bar downtown and business had been going great.
“You have to come by some night, Jen. I usually just work the bar on weekends. Rest of the week I’m up in the office being a grown up.”
“Being a grown up is overrated. Kaylee, don’t grow up, okay?”
Kaylee responded with a few random sounds and patted his hand. Both men smiled at her.
“So how are you holding up?”
“Fine, I’m getting the hang of things here. Mom and dad have been a big help.”
“I have to hand it to you, man. I don’t know if I could be this together in your situation.”
“Yeah, well it’s not always easy but raising Kaylee has kept me from going too crazy.”
“Damn, who’d have thought you’d have a house and a family and I’d have my own business at our age?”
“Definitely not me. I did expect you to be getting thrown out of bars, but not owning one,” Jensen added with a grin.
That Saturday, Jensen and Kaylee took a trip to the local library. The stone building was old and just to the right of a park. He thought of taking Kaylee over there after picking up some books. Inside, it was pretty calm for a Saturday afternoon. Jensen took Kaylee over to the children’s room after getting his library card. Little kids were scattered all over the brightly decorated room. Some were playing computer games. Others were at tables with their parents and reading books. Jensen found some books for Kaylee and took a seat in one of the armchairs in the corner. She took one of the books and held one side while Jensen held the other and began to read.
About a half hour later, Jensen decided to check out the adult section of the library to get something for him. Most of the books he came across, he had already read or had no intention of reading. He finally found one that looked pretty interesting and when he looked down, Kaylee was gone. Immediately, a cold wave of panic hit him. His eyes scanned the area for the little blonde head of his daughter. He ran to the end of the row he was in and looked to either side, still nothing.
“Kaylee?” he called, not caring about the “quiet, please” policy.
Where the hell is she? She was fast, sure, but there’s no way she could’ve gone that far, he thought as he searched each row. Just as he was going back to search the children’s section again, he heard Kaylee’s voice call to him. He turned around and saw Kaylee holding the hand of a very tall, young man who Jensen had seen at the reference desk.
“I think you’re missing someone,” he said cracking a smile.
“Jesus,” Jensen sighed, his entire body relaxing. He grabbed up Kaylee and held her like he’d never let go. “Don’t run away from daddy like that, Kaylee.”
For a moment, Jensen forgot the guy was there.
“Thanks for bringing her back.”
“Not a problem,” he said before turning and walking back to his desk.
Jensen’s eyes followed him all the way back. He looked back at Kaylee and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “You scared me,” he kissed her once more, “c’mon, let’s go home.”
Their second visit back, Jensen found himself looking over at the reference area to see if the guy was there. He wondered to himself why he was looking. The guy was definitely good looking, but Jensen wasn’t interested. Or, at least, he hadn’t planned on it.
Each week, Jensen and Kaylee made a trip to the library for more books. Jensen also made a habit of looking for the guy. Jared. He had heard his name once when another library worker was talking to him. It was nice to have a name for him other than “the guy”. Watching Jared from the stacks made Jensen feel a bit like a stalker. Not looking at Jared was proving more and more difficult every week.
While Jensen and Kaylee were in the children’s section one afternoon, Jensen saw Jared walk into the room. He leaned on the edge of the desk and began talking to the brunette librarian behind the desk. There was something wrong with her computer. Clearly, from the look on her face, she was just as happy as Jensen was to see Jared. And it had nothing to do with him being able to fix her computer. He was pretty sure the black button down Jared was wearing had something to do with it.
Jensen turned his attention back to finding books with his daughter. And this worked as a good distraction until Jared came over to talk to him. He hoped to whoever was listening that Jared hadn’t noticed him staring at him the past couple weeks.
“Hey,” Jared said, and then turned his attention to Kaylee. “Hi, sweetheart.”
Jensen smiled. “I think she remembers you.”
“Well, I certainly remember her.” He stuck out a hand. “I’m Jared, by the way.”
“Jensen,” he said, shaking his hand. “This is Kaylee.”
“That’s a pretty name,” he cooed at the little girl, who smiled and leaned her face into her father’s neck. “How old is she?”
“Almost two in a couple months.”
“Jared! It’s doing it again!” called the librarian, panicky.
Jared looked back at Jensen apologetically. “Sorry, duty calls.”
“It’s okay, we probably should get going.”
“See you next week, maybe?”
“Bye, Kaylee,” Jared said before going back over to help the woman.
“Bye bye!” Kaylee called, one little hand waving at him.
Jensen felt his face getting hot and decided to exit as quickly as possible. This time, he didn’t look at Jared. It would’ve just made things worse.
That night, with Kaylee sound asleep in her room, Jensen had time to unwind with his book. Its plot had finally picked up pace and was now getting more interesting than before. Trouble was, Jensen couldn’t focus on the book. His mind kept wandering back to Jared. That dark shirt that he had worn that day fit tightly around his biceps. A little odd, Jensen thought, for a computer guy. Other parts of Jensen’s body responded to that image as well. God, it had been song long since… well, anything. Raising his daughter was his whole life. Carrie’s sudden death had been incredibly difficult to get over. He just had other things on his mind. Until now, that is.
Jensen set the book on his bedside table, removed his glasses and placed them on top. He rubbed a hand over his face. Obviously his mind wasn’t going to let this go tonight. Jared wasn’t even his type, if he had a type of guy. The last, and only, time he had been with a guy was college. That had just been bad all around. Too much Jaeger and a drunken dare ended up with his roommate’s dick in his mouth. There had been nothing remotely sexy about it. His roommate had watched entirely too much porn and confused Jensen with one of the performers. Some people could deep throat very well and Jensen wasn’t one of them. Gagging is definitely not sexy, especially when you’re drunk. He shook his head and laughed at that somewhat fuzzy memory. Regardless of that incident, he still had been interested in men as well as women. Soon after, he started dating Carrie and never really looked back. He turned out his light and settled down under the covers. Soon after, Jensen was asleep.
Jared led Jensen into the back of the library until they found an empty office. He made the first move, his large hands cupping Jensen’s face and his mouth covering his. So soft, so damn soft and sweet. He kissed Jared back without any hesitation or reserve. Jared’s tongue slipped past his lips and teased and coaxed until Jensen moaned into the kiss.
“God, Jared just fuck me,” he growled, breaking it.
Jared grinned and kissed along Jensen’s jaw line, his teeth nipping at the skin there. One hand had moved down to cup Jensen through his jeans. Jensen pushed his hips into his touch, trying to create some kind of friction, to feel something. Jared continued to tease him through the fabric and his mouth sucked at his neck. The jeans were too tight now and he ached for some skin to skin contact. Closing his eyes, Jensen dropped his head back and groaned.
“Want me to fuck you right here? Want my cock buried deep inside of you, hmm?” Jared purred in his ear. He undid Jensen’s zipper, fitting his hand inside against his straining erection.
A small whimper escaped Jensen’s mouth and he happily complied. He leaned his weight against the desk in front of him. Jared fitted himself up against Jensen’s back, his breath was hot against Jensen’s ear. “Going to take those off or do I have to do it for you?” he breathed, running a hand over the front of his jeans. Without a word, Jensen pushed them off his hips and then pulled his white t-shirt off. Jared grinned and did the same, leaving only their boxers between them. His hand rubbed up Jensen’s abdomen and he smiled against his shoulder. He pulled Jensen’s head back for a rough kiss, tongue delving deep into his mouth. They pulled back panting.
“Please,” Jensen begged breathlessly.
“Since you asked so nicely…”
Jensen awoke to the sound of his alarm beeping angrily at him that it was 6:30 in the morning and time to get up. God fucking damn it. He dragged himself out of bed, smacking at the off button and stumbled into the bathroom. After turning the shower on to just the right temperature, he stepped in and let the warm water cover his body. The dream had left him achingly hard. With one arm against the wall for support, his hand enclosed his cock and he stroked up and down steadily. Disjointed images from the dream still flashed through his mind. Hazel eyes burning into his own with a desire he’d never seen before. A pair of strong arms pinning him against the wooden desk. The feel of Jared’s hardness against his ass. Before he knew it, he was coming hard, nearly falling forward with the force of it. “Shit,” he gasped. If these dreams kept up, he might have to drive to the next town over to use their library. He hoped to God there weren’t any more ridiculously good looking workers there as well. Why the hell couldn’t they have just hired bitter, old women who shushed you at the drop of a hat?