It's kind of unexpected the first time and almost feels kind of fly-by-night; she drinks a little too much wine and crashes at Leighton's, all borrowed pajamas and hairbrushes. Jess is light-headed from the wine but also maybe, she thinks, by the way she didn't text Ed to tell him her plans had changed, and the way that Leighton looks at night, loose hair and soft-peached skin and glasses, god, the glasses.
"This is such a slasher movie," she tells Leighton; sitting on the center of her bed like it's an island. "Someone's going to jump through the window and kill us."
"No they won't," Leighton promises, slipping her glasses off. Jessica reaches over and slips them on herself, blinking at the blurred-edge of her take on Leighton's worldview.
"I'll protect you." Leighton grins - then adds, offhand, "You look cute in glasses" - and shuts off the lamp. They climb into bed and face each other like it's a kind of unspoken protocol; Leighton wraps a couple of fingers around a strand of Jessica's hair and holds on. There's hardly any light in the room but she can see the way Leighton's eyelashes flutter around her cheek and close, like this perfect, doll-like kind of beauty.
She catches her breath.
"Jess?" Leighton asks, and her free hand taps against Jessica's cheek.
"I'm okay," she assures her. Pauses. "I just, you're seriously fucking beautiful. I know that sounds weird."
And maybe it's the wine that makes it okay, or maybe it's the way the room smells a little like vanilla and Leighton, but Jessica doesn't hesitate for a second when Leighton's lips brush against hers. She curves in closer, murmurs against her, and drinks her in. The kiss is delicate, tangy-sweet like the wine residue on their tongues, and something so - something so what kissing is just supposed to be like.
When she wakes in the morning, sheet-tangled, half-naked, and sated, Leighton is still there: her head nestled against Jess' breasts, arm carelessly thrown around her waist. Jessica smiles, closes her eyes, and goes back to sleep.
The second time is different - everything is different. Ever since the first time there has been this undercurrent of something, like they have a secret. They hold hands under blankets between scenes whenever they actually have down time together, and they clutch each other's arms and they actually giggle; Jessica feels a little like a giddy teenager again. It's so easy to get swept away, she thinks, when it's Leighton, so easy to make her a priority, the first and best priority.
Everything else fades into the background, men and work and even, a little, her friends - there's this gorgeous ingénue in her life and Jessica knows exactly what she tastes like, and to her, this second time seems so inevitable.
Leighton had been working a night shoot, though Jessica hadn't; she comes to meet her when she wraps, standing to the side with her hands wrapped around two cups of coffee. It takes a moment or two for Leighton to see her, catch her eye, but when she does she lights up like Christmas and comes right over.
"What are you doing here?" she asks, but she's smiling, and she takes an experimental sip from one of the cups. "This is so good, it's getting cold out - what are you doing here again?"
Jessica shrugs, and her grin is too big and a touch goofy, because goofy is somehow okay around Leighton, and she says, simply, "Missed you."
Leighton sidles up next to her. She puts one arm around her in a half-hug, but leans against her, into her, and the way Leighton shifts, rubs against her, Jessica knows, has to be deliberate; her nipple is hard against her, and. God. She shivers. Leighton puts her lips right next to Jessica's ear and says, "Come home with me."
After the second time the universe shifts and everything had been different before, that's nothing to Jessica now. After the second time she and Ed fall to amicable pieces; the day he brings a neatly packed box to her apartment they smile and joke about his anal-retentive need to clean her out of his life. She kisses his cheek, and he leaves.
She fingers the necklace he had given her earlier in the year, but doesn't take it off; it's beautiful, and she doesn't want to stain it with awkwardness or bad blood.
If their colleagues are curious, they don't show it around her, and she's grateful for that. She and Chace get along as well as ever, which she takes as a good sign, and Blake and Penn immediately offer to include her in everything they do. Jessica doesn't put out how "third-wheel" that is; they mean well, and Penn has that earnest look I'm nice look in his eyes that she just can't refuse.
A few weeks later, Leighton leaves Sebastian. The playing field shifts.
Blake and Leighton and Jessica go out together for a girls' night, Penn banished for the evening, and they drink cocktails in a booth; Jessica and Leighton one on side, Blake on the other. They talk about inconsequential things - movies, music, that insane Alexander McQueen collection and the amazing shoes.
When the talk turns to relationships - specifically, breakups, Jessica stays quiet, but shifts to rest her hand on Leighton's knee. They are unspoken.
"There must be something in the water," Blake says, "Jess, you and Ed, and then, Sebastian."
Leighton smiles, kind, and murmurs, "Not really."
Blake starts talking about her maltipoo, and the moment passes.
Later, Leighton will press a kiss to Jessica's shoulder, breathe into the hollow of her neck, and all the moments blend in together like a kaleidoscope of experience; later, Leighton will remind Jessica how amazing it is not to think. Later, Leighton will teach Jessica not to feel guilty.
That night is the third time.
After the third time, Jessica stops counting. She doesn't need to any more.