Aubrey took a moment to steal her attention away from The Barden Bellas that were stood with her in the large venue hosting the World’s Afterparty, to glance across the room, looking for Jesse.
Jesse Swanson. The last guy on the planet that she’d ever expected to fall for. He was handsome with a kind smile and good manners, sure. But he was also younger than her by a couple of years. And he used to go out with Beca! She never once fancied him when she’d actually been in college with him. But that was probably because he’d only been nineteen back then. And he’d seemingly fawned after Beca like a lost puppy for some reason.
Aubrey felt her stomach sink when her eyes finally found him. There he was, stood beside Beca - his ex-girlfriend - and the blonde felt disappointed. This was a reason why she couldn’t envision them ever getting together. He clearly couldn’t stay away from the brunette.
She watched as Jesse and Beca looked over at her and Aubrey’s heart began to race. So she quickly turned back to her friends just as Emily grabbed her arm while laughing loudly at something Fat Amy said. But Aubrey wasn’t laughing. She wasn’t even smiling. Inside she was panicking.
The past few months that she and Jesse had been texting had been amongst the most exciting few months of her life. Any time his name popped up on her screen her heart would skip a beat. They’d gone from a casual text every few weeks to see how the other was getting on after life at Barden, to texting one another almost constantly - particularly in the evenings when Aubrey finished work.
Jesse Swanson had been Aubrey’s constant for eight weeks. They’d gotten into this routine of texting one another first thing in the morning to wish the other a ‘good morning’ and ‘kick-ass day’, texting one another here and there throughout the day, then texting in the evenings until one of them caved and bid the other goodnight.
The length of their texts had once been a couple of sentences. Now they were so long that they had to click the ‘read more’ option whenever a new text was sent from the other. Aubrey had never been that way with anyone before. Nobody had ever made her feel as excited and hopeful as Jesse had done these past couple of months. It was a bunch of feelings that had blossomed to the point that Aubrey had found that her every waking minute was consumed with thoughts of the handsome man.
She tried her hardest to forget about him. Tried to ignore the crushing heartache she felt knowing he could never be hers. Tried to remind herself the reasons Jesse had told her that he’d broken up with Beca: because they lived so far away from each other that they never saw one another. Aubrey lived in Georgia. Jesse in California. A long distance apart. Jesse would never want to date her if he couldnt even handle dating Beca from that distance.
Aubrey was gutted. She’d hoped he’d find her long before now. That he’d pull her to the side just after she and The Bellas had left the stage, and talk to her face to face. Perhaps offer to whisk her away on a tiny date or something. Hell, maybe even kiss her in a moment of impulse. But Jesse had been nowhere to be seen. And now he was stood with Beca.
Suddenly The Bellas around her stopped talking and seemed to look at someone over her shoulder. Someone tall. And Aubrey felt a gentle warm hand cup her elbow to gain her attention. She turned and her heart leapt into her throat as her deep green eyes met a pair of soft, dark brown eyes. It was him.
“Hey.” Jesse said and Aubrey almost squealed with excitement as he looked at her with that charming lopsided grin. She wasn’t sure what was happening, but she found that a warmth was rushing through her body from her chest as she looked into his kind eyes. She couldn’t remember him being this handsome when she’d last seen him three years ago..
“Hi.” She managed to choke out, a soft smile spreading across her face while she shuffled a little awkwardly on the spot. Suddenly she wondered why she’d had so many doubts about him being here. About them both being here in the same room.
“Can uh…” Jesse asked, pausing to scratch the back of his head nervously, his eyes flickering over to The Bellas who were grinning at the two of them, before his focus resumed on the beautiful tall blonde before him, “…can I buy you a drink?”
“Um..” Aubrey said quietly, her eyes looking just past Jesse and over at Beca and Chloe who were beaming at her from their position across the room. Their expressions filled her with hope. They were okay with this. Beca was okay with this. So she looked back at Jesse, “Yeah, that’d be nice.”
“Cool.” Jesse breathed out with a huge breath of air, his nerves clearly having built over the time he’d been here. They both smiled nervously at one another, then slowly began to walk away from The Bellas who were still grinning away at them both.
Aubrey’s heart was ramming against her chest with nerves as she waded her way between the hoards of people to get to the bar, Jesse leading the way just ahead of her. The blonde lost sight of him for a moment and she began to panic a little. She didn’t want to embarrass herself in front of him. She didn’t want to look so weak that she couldn’t battle her way between all the people that stood between them and the bar. But she didn’t panic for long, because she felt a hand reach out ahead of her and take her hand, holding it firmly. It felt warm. Soft. And as she continued being guided, her eyes followed the arm right the way up to Jesse’s kind face and he smiled at her, leading her through the crowd. Aubrey smiled back at him. She felt certain she’d never had a guy take her hand and lead her like this before. It was…nice.
They arrived at the bar with sighs of relief, trying to calm their nerves, and their hands separated while they looked at one another, chuckling slightly they were so nervous. Aubrey kept her eyes on Jesse, hardly able to believe that they were finally here. Finally in the same room together. After months of texting. And those texts hadn’t ever been suggestive or over-affectionate. Just friendly and warm and assuring.
She watched as the young man ordered himself a beer and asked her what she wanted to drink - to which she’d answered that she wanted a mimosa. And while the barman busied himself with the order, Jesse turned to Aubrey with a smile.
“You look amazing tonight.” He managed to say, and Aubrey thought she could feel a blush creeping across her cheeks. She never had compliments thrown her way. She worked in a rather isolating role at The Lodge. And that role meant she had to live on-site. Which meant she was rather isolated in the evenings too. Nobody approached her after the working day had finished. Nobody asked her out on a date or for a drink. Nobody complimented her when she had her hair cut or if she’d spent an extra thirty minutes really putting some effort into her makeup for the day.
Aubrey realised this was the first time a guy had offered to buy her a drink in three years. Three years! This was the first time a guy had given her a compliment since leaving college three years ago. And this was the first time ever that a guy had said she looked ‘amazing’.
She was intimidating. She knew she was. Her ambition and drive. Her determination. Her ability to put her walls up and keep the world out. It all drove people away. But somehow and for some reason…Jesse seemed to look past all of that. He seemed to be able to through her eyes and into her soul. And it caused a warm rush to cover her body, like a giant hug. Being with Jesse felt safe.
“Thank you. Nobody’s ever said that to me before.” She admitted with an embarrassed smile. An embarrassed smile that only grew when she saw Jesse looking back at her in disbelief.
“What?” He chuckled nervously, shaking his head slightly, “How??”
Aubrey turned to her cocktail that was placed on the bar before her by the barman and she shrugged, “Guys just…I dunno, get intimidated by me or something. They never talk to me. So I just hang out at the bar alone while all the other women around me get hit on.”
She noticed Jesse leaning forward against the bar, and she turned back to him, watching while he handed some money to the guy behind the bar, “Well those guys must’ve been blind. Or stupid. Or both.”
Aubrey blushed again, a soft smile wiping across her face as they both turned their bodies to face one another, their respective drinks in their hands. She looked up into Jesse’s kind brown eyes while he looked back at her affectionately. There was a pause while they held one another’s gaze. He was being so nice. Why was he being so nice?? Sure, they’d been texting lots - particularly in recent weeks since he’d split up from Beca. In fact, Aubrey felt she knew more about Jesse now than she even knew about herself! But she’d not been given any impression until Jesse approached her moments ago that he might be as interested in her as she was in him.
“So..” Jesse began, pausing to shuffle on the spot slightly, clearing his throat nervous, “..I just want you to know that if you hadn’t been here I wouldn’t have still come over to Copenhagen.”
Aubrey felt her heart skip a beat. It was no lie that Jesse had bought the flights and the competition ticket at the beginning of the year when he’d still been with Beca. He could’ve easily got a refund. Could have skipped this whole trip all together. But he hadn’t. He’d come here for her!
“I really wanted to see you. Like, really really wanted to.” Jesse continued, a coy grin on his face as Aubrey’s small smile grew slowly, “And I figured this would be the only way that I could.”
Aubrey couldn’t quite believe what she was hearing. There was finally a man in this world who actually wanted to see her! Like, actively fly to Europe just so he could catch a glimpse of her and maybe talk to her. Aubrey was a little overwhelmed.
“Well I’m so pleased that you did.” She said, tapping her fingernails gently against her cocktail glass - something she did when she was nervous, “I got really excited earlier when I saw you in the crowd.”
Aubrey’s heart danced as she watched Jesse laugh then nod, “I saw your little wave.” and the woman brought her hand up to cup her mouth in a bit of embarrassment. Oh yeah..she had waved a little bit at him. God, she’d hoped it hadn’t been that obvious. She’d tried to be really discreet.
“Don’t worry.” Jesse assured with a kind grin, “I only saw it because I was focussed on you. I don’t think anyone else saw.”
Aubrey gently dropped her hand from her flushing face, smiling gratefully at him. God, he was so nice. And handsome. Jesse was really handsome.
“So I’m gonna let you get back to The Bellas.” Jesse said, motioning in the direction they’d just come from, “You came here to see your friends, not me.”
And Aubrey found her hand reaching out to hold his arm. It was an automatic reaction for the blonde, and they both paused, looking at each other with soft smiles. Aubrey didn’t want to become that girl who ditched her friends just because a guy had finally taken an interest in her. For the first time in years.
“I’m liking seeing you though?” she said, a little sad that he might leave. What did that mean if he did? Would they just go back to their regular lives? Go back to just texting each other until it fizzled out and they got busy and these few months of texting became a part of the history of their ‘friendship’?
“I know.” Jesse said with a kind smile and Aubrey looked into his eyes, feeling safe in his presence. She’d never felt like this before. And she began to wonder if she’d fallen in love with him. Somehow. At some point. Completely by accident. “But The Bellas are important, and you’re not going to get another opportunity to be with them like this.” Jesse added, and Aubrey drew her bottom lip in between her teeth while a small smile grew on her face. He was right.
“But with me?” Jesse said, a brief flicker of nerves brushing over his face, “Did you maybe want to go on a date tomorrow? Like…for breakfast or something?”
Aubrey felt her entire body soar even though her feet were planted on the ground and a huge beaming smile spread across her face. A date!
“I’d love to!” She burst, then hesitated, a little embarrassed that she seemed too enthusiastic. But Jesse just chuckled and the blonde composed herself, clearing her throat slightly, “I um…that’d be really nice. Yeah.”
And she watched as a huge grin swept across Jesse’s face, “Awesome. I’ll text you the details?”
Aubrey nodded, a little dazed. She couldn’t believe this was happening. That Jesse Swanson had asked her out on a date. She’d be lying if she said that she hadn’t been imagining what it might be like to go on a date with him. What it might be like to kiss him and call him her boyfriend. Not that going on a date with him would necessarily mean they’d end up becoming boyfriend and girlfriend and that they’d kiss and stuff but-
Suddenly Aubrey’s breath caught in her throat, her heart racing with excitement and joy as Jesse slowly leant down towards her and kissed her gently on the lips. The first kiss she’d had in years. The first real bit of physical affection in her adult life from a man. And her eyelids snapped shut as she reciprocated the pressure of the kiss against Jesse’s lips.
The magic that she’d always heard about from ‘the perfect kiss’ was currently overwhelming her body. This kiss was everything. It was warm and soft and held an unspoken promise. A promise of safety and security and mutual love.
And as Jesse and Aubrey slowly parted, goofy grins spread across their faces.
“Wow.” Jesse breathed out, seemingly unable to believe how brilliant the kiss had felt. Aubrey just chuckled, licking her lips quickly then giving him a coy smile.
“Bet you wish you weren’t sending me away now, huh.” She said, rocking slightly on her heels, feeling playful. But Jesse just shrugged.
“I get to see you in the morning. That’ll keep me going until then.”
And they both chuckled again before glancing over at The Bellas - Beca and Chloe having now joined them - and all the women were looking over at Aubrey and Jesse, clearly thrilled that the two had just kissed.
“You’d better get back over there.” Jesse said kindly, nudging Aubrey gently with his elbow and the blonde turned back to him with a smile.
“Gee thanks.” She replied sarcastically, though they both knew she was joking. She loved her Bellas. And she loved that Jesse respected that. “I’ll see you in the morning then.”
“I can’t wait.” Jesse said with a grin. A grin that broadened when Aubrey stepped up on her tiptoes to place a kiss on his cheek.
“Me either.” She mumbled into his ear, before stepping back then making her way away from the bar and through the hoards of people, back to her Bellas. Her heart was still racing and she couldn’t remove the massive giddy smile on her face.
Jesse Swanson had asked her out on a date!
She was going out on a date in the morning with Jesse Swanson!
And for the first time in her life, Aubrey honestly, truly felt excited about something that didn’t involve her career or hobby..