Actions

Work Header

I'm Not Letting Go

Chapter Text

“Hey, Az,” I say, walking through the corridor out into the main area. I’m still in my pjs, & turn the corner, stopping the second I see him. Jay. Sitting at the island bench. “Woah!”

“Hello to you too,” he replies.

“What are you doing here?”

He opens his mouth to reply, but-

“Ah, good!” Aaron says, walking out behind me. “I see you’ve met our new client.”

I look at Aaron, shocked. “New client?!

He nods. “Yeah,” he says as he walks over to Jay, placing paperwork in front of him. “This is our first meeting. The one I told you about last night.”

“And we're having it here?” I ask. “In our kitchen?”

Aaron looks confused. He then looks at Jay. “Excuse us for a minute.”

Jay nods. “Sure.”

Aaron walks over to me, taking my hand & pulling me out into the backyard.

“What's got into you?” He asks.

Me?” I reply. “What's got into you? Holding meetings with clients in our kitchen?”

“We don't have an office.”

“Well, maybe you should invest in one.”

“You're just annoyed because you're meeting him in your pjs.”

“Uh, no, I'm annoyed because I should be able to walk out into my own kitchen in my pjs, & not be blindsided by some random client!”

He crosses his arms, burrowing his frown. “What's got a bee in your bonnet?”

“My business partner dumping our new client on me at home,” I reply. “The least you could have done is told me that he was here. It's simple, Az. You knock on my bedroom door. ‘Morning, Erin! Get changed before you come out. Our new client is sitting in our kitchen’.”

He looks at me, trying to figure out why I’m like this. His eyes widen. “Ooooo! You like him!”

“What?! Noooo!” I reply. “I barely know the guy.”

“Give it up, sis,” he replies. “I know you two met yesterday.”

I frown. “How?” And then it hits. I shake my head. “Sheila.”

“She told me, cause she gave him my contact details,” he replies. “She thought I should know.”

“Urgh! I should have known she’d go spreading it around! She's the gossip queen! One woman rumour mill of Erinsborough!”

“She's also looking out for you.”

“Did she tell you she ditched me mid-meeting just to make me talk to him?”

“Erin. You’ve been through a lot. Just… Just let yourself have some fun. If you like the guy, go flirt with him. Live a little,” he says. “Don't put your life on hold.”

“I’m not putting my whole life on hold.”

“Mark told me how sad you got around him, Paige, Tyler & Piper the other day.”

Great,” I reply. “Everyone's talking about me behind my back.”

“We’re just looking out for you, Erin.”

“By gossiping behind my back?”

“You're our sister,” he says. “We want to see you happy.”

I sigh.

“Look, I’m here for you,” he says. “Being single sucks. And it's hard to get back out there, when you’ve had your heart broken. But you’ve just got to take that leap of faith.”

I sigh again. “I don't have the best track record when it comes to relationships.”

“Don't let two bad eggs put you off dating forever.”

“I… I don't know,” I reply. “A part of me hates the loneliness that I’m starting to feel, & yet…” I sigh. “We were having a good time yesterday, sitting there talking… And… It was nice to have that sort of attention again.” I shift my weight from one leg to the other. “There was this one moment, when… I was about to leave to get Felicity, &… We almost kissed.”

He looks surprised. “No wonder you're little miss cranky this morning.”

I glare at him. “I feel there's an attraction between us, & I want to see where it goes...”

“But?”

“I… I'm petrified to open my heart up again.”

“Have you told him that?”

I shake my head. “I left because I felt like an idiot.”

“Right, well… Here's your chance.”

What?!

“He’s our client now,” he replies, guiding me over to the door. “And I’m giving him over to you.”

“What? No, no, no, no!”

“I’m busy with other clients,” he replies, pushing me back into the kitchen.

“Yeah, & I have a toddler.”

“Oh no, you're not gonna get out of it by playing that card.”

“I could quit,” I reply. “I can be a full time PR manager at The Waterhole.”

“Or you could quit & be just my manager,” Jay says.

I look at him, suddenly realising he can hear us again.

“I…I…”

He smiles at me. “I think it would be best for you & I to work together, Aaron,” he says, looking at my brother. “At least, for now.”

“Are you sure? You're not just saying that cause my sister's protesting?”

“I want an easy going relationship with my PR manager,” he says. “And right now, I can see that the best fit for that is you. I don't want to push your sister into being around me.” He looks at me. “Even though it would be nice to see her smile regularly.”

“Good, then it's sorted,” I reply. “Anyway… I don't really like mixing work &… Uh… Pleasure.”

There you go again, Erin. Losing your words cause you're staring at him again.

****

“Hey,” She says, following me out the front door.

I stop on the verandah, turning to look at her. She's still wearing her pjs, arms crossed over her body to try & keep warm.

“Hey,” I reply.

“Look, I just… I wanted to apologise for that,” she says. “For making things awkward.”

“It should be me apologising,” I reply. “I didn't realise you lived with your brothers. If I had, I wouldn't have agreed to having the meeting here. I don't want to interfere with your life.”

“You're a new client,” she says. “Hard to not interfere.”

“Exactly why I told him that I’d work with him.”

“What exactly is it that you do? Why do you need him?”

“I'm a singer,” I explain. “I wanna get my music out there, but I need help getting people to see it. Find the edge that I’m clearly missing. Sheila suggested your brother, said something about him being an ex entertainer, so she thought it would be good for me to ask him.”

“Of course Sheila recommended Aaron.”

I frown. “Have I done something wrong?” I ask. “You seem rather agitated.”

She sighs. “No. It's stuff going on in my head.”

I nod. “I like you. And you like me,” I reply. “It's clear that there's a strong attraction between us. And… Maybe… Someday, it will turn into something more.” I watch her swallow, her eyes darting to my lips & then back to my eyes. “But you need to work out whatever is going on in your head that has you so over the place with me. I really hope we can be friends… For now.”

She smiles. “You're not upset at me? For being so… For leading you on?”

“We barely know each other,” I reply. “I’m honestly not surprised that there's some hesitation.”

She nods. “Well, in that case,” She says. “I’d like to be friends. Get to know you more.”

I smile. “I’d like to get to know you more too.”

She nods.

“Anyway… I should go. Let you get back inside before you freeze.”

“Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Have a good day.”

“You too.”

“Bye.”

“Bye.”

I watch her head back inside, before heading down the stairs as I smile to myself. There's still hope.

****

“You kissed him yet?” Paige asks from the kitchen as I close the front door.

“Does the whole house know about him?” I ask Aaron, who is sitting at the island bench.

“For someone who kicked up a fuss about being his manager, you are stepping into lovesick puppy territory,” Aaron replies. “You did rush out after him.”

“Yeah, to apologise for how unprofessional I was,” I reply. “Which is all thanks to you surprising me with a pre-breakfast meeting.”

“Important question though,” Paige asks. “Is. He. hot?”

“Is who hot?” Mark asks, stepping out from the bedrooms with just sweat pants on.

“A singer guy that Aaron’s taken on as a client but your sister met him yesterday at The Waterhole & they both like each other but she’s too scared to go for it, even though it's clear that she wants to get all hot & heavy under the covers with him.”

PAIGE!!!” I exclaim.

“What?” She replies. “Just telling it like it is.”

“In front of two of her brothers,” Mark replies, stepping beside her. “There's some things we don't need to know.”

“Or see,” Aaron adds, scrunching up his nose.

“So?” She asks. “Is he hot?”

“I'm not answering that,” I reply.

Paige looks at Aaron.

“Nuh uh,” Aaron replies. “Leave me out of this.”

Paige huffs. “Oh come onnn!”

“You’ll have plenty of time to see him for yourself,” Aaron replies.

“I expect you to introduce me to him very soon,” She replies, shaking a finger at him.

"Why are you so keen on it?"

“I want to find out who my future brother-in-law is.”

“Okay, you're getting way ahead of yourself.”

“Hey, if he's got you this fired up, I think he's got a really good chance.”

I roll my eyes. “Nothing's going to happen between us.”

“Uh… So explain the sparks flying between you two?” Aaron asks.

“We're just friends.”

“Because you're scared to let him in because of what Eddie did to you.”

Mark looks shocked. Then worried.

“Is that true?” Mark asks me.

“Not exactly,” I reply. “I’m just… Scared to open up again, because I keep thinking about what's happened in my past. Eddie turned out to be a psycho, & Zack?” I shrug. “Zack fled when I told him I was pregnant.” I fight back tears. “I know it's crazy, but… I feel like I’m not meant to be with anyone.”

Mark walks around & pulls me into a hug.

"You're going to find a man who will treat you right,” he says. “You can't give up.”

I pull back. “But what if I can't?”

“You just have to keep trying,” he says. “Don't go closing off your heart just yet, Aer.”

****

“Ahhh good! Just the woman I want to see!” Sheila says, as I cross to the bar.

“Hello to you too, Sheila.”

“Oh,” She replies, smile fading. “What's got you in a foul mood?”

“Other than the fact you encouraged my brother to take on the one client I wish he hadn't taken on?”

“Oh, love. Whatever insecurities you have, you should let them go.”

“You know what?” I ask. “I came here to do my job. To be professional. Not have another person meddle in my love life.”

I turn & walk towards the door. Sheila comes hurrying after me, basically trotting. She blocks my path & I sigh in annoyance.

“I’m sorry if I’ve upset you, love,” she says. “I’m just a hopeless romantic, & I can't help myself when I see a pretty, young woman like you shy away from having a romance.”

“Thank you, but… I can handle it on my own.”

“And I can see that now,” she replies. “Please stay. I’ll get you a drink on the house. I’d really like to run a few ideas by you for events we could hold.”

I sigh. “But only on one condition.”

“Name it, love.”

“That my romantic life stays out of it.”

She nods. “It will.”

“Completely out of it,” I reply. “Not even a hint.”

She thinks it over. "I'll do my best."

I nod. “Good.”

"Now, go find a table & I’ll go get you a drink.”

She hurries off before I can say what I want. I sigh, before looking around for a table. I find one, sit down & set up my iPad. A few minutes later, Sheila places a large glass down. I look up from my paperwork, seeing it's a cocktail. I look at her as she sits down & raise my eyebrow.

“Oh, relax! It's a new mocktail!” She says. “There's not a drop of alcohol in it! I want to see what you thunk of it.”

I pick it up, take hold of the straw, & take a sip- all under her stare.

“It's good,” I reply, putting it back down.

“Oh good!” She says, smiling proudly.

“You said you had ideas?”

“Yes. Well… idea.”

“Mmmm.”

“How about a singing competition?”

“Mmm,” I reply. “Cliché.”

She frowns. “I’d like to see you try.”

“No, oh Sheila! I didn't mean to upset you. I just… It could do with some improvements.”

“Well, it's a start. And you said you wanted to get back to the musical nights.”

“True.”

“So you’ll think about it?”

I nod. “I’d like you to think about ways we can make it more unique,” I say. “You won't always have me here to help. So you should learn early on to handle this without me.”

"How about we discuss it now?"

****

“Judges,” Sheila says. “You, me, our lovely Mayor Sonya… And… One of your brothers?”

“No,” I reply. “You're not abusing my family.”

She looks shocked. “But we need a male judge!”

“Find someone else!”

“Hmmm… What about that handsome young suitor of yours?”

I sigh, rolling my eyes. “How about you consider someone who isn't connected to me?”

She sighs. “Doesn't give me many options.”

“I'm sure you’ll come up with someone in the next three weeks.”

“Three? But it's a month away!”

“Yes, but you should have someone locked in by a week before the event,” I reply, checking the time on my phone. “Oh, shoot! I have to get going to pick up Felicity.”

“Oh, but I still have more ideas!” She replies, as I quickly pack up my things.

“Write them down, Sheila,” I reply, closing the cover on my iPad. “We can discuss them tomorrow.”

“But...”

“Sheila, I’m sorry, but I have to go,” I reply, picking up my handbag as I stand up.

I scoop up my things & leave. I push the door open, & crash into Jay. By some sheer miracle, I avoid dropping anything, especially when he holds my hips to stop me from falling over.

“You're in a rush,” he says, his thumbs gently rubbing back & forth over my shirt.

For a long moment, I forget everything. Everything but the urge to lean in & kiss him.

“Uh… Yeah,” I reply. I swallow. “I'm late… To pick up Felicity.”

He nods. “May I walk with you?”

I frown. “Weren't you going inside?”

“I came to find you.”

“If we hadn't agreed to be friends, I’d find that creepy.”

“I would have called, but I don't have your number.”

“Right,” I say with a nod. “I’ll have to give you that some time.”

“You could now,” he says. “If I walk with you.”

The sensible me says no, because that means he’ll be near Felicity. And I don't know if I’m ready to let that happen. But before I can think properly, I find myself nodding. He lets me go. As he turns around I cringe.

We fall into step & there's an awkward silence.

“I… Uh… I need to stop by my car & dump these,” I say, lifting the folders I have.

He nods. “Lead the way.”

We walk over to the carpark & to my car. I awkwardly fumble to hold onto everything as I try to find my keys.

“Here,” he says, taking the pile from me.

“Thanks,” I reply, giving him a small smile.

“You're welcome.”

I find my keys & unlock my car. I open the back passenger door. Before I can take it back, he places the pile on the backseat. I reach in, grab my iPad & put it in my handbag.

“I hate leaving it in the car,” I explain as I shut the door. “I feel like it could be stolen.”

He nods as I lock my car. “Understandable.”

We head off towards the community centre.

“I… Don't know what to talk about.”

“How about you tell me what you like to do to relax at the end of the day?”

“That's… A very personal question,” I reply. “More like… A date question.”

“It's also fine for two people who are getting to know each other as friends.”

I hesitate. “As long as you answer it too.”

He nods. “You first.”

“I don't really have anything in particular I do,” I reply. “Felicity's routine keeps me busy in the evening. And when I do get to relax, it's mostly curling up on the couch & catching up with my TV shows.”

“I watch TV too,” he replies. “But I also unwind by playing music. Writing my own songs. Raising a child on your own must be hard.”

“It is, but… I couldn't have an abortion, or go through giving her away. It just didn't feel right,” I reply. “It gets hard, but… She's worth it.”

“I’m sure she takes after you.”

I smile. “You have to stop doing that.”

“Doing what?”

“Being so charming,” I reply. “I feel so guilty for making you wait for something that might not ever happen.”

“I’m not going to force you into having a relationship,” he replies. “I want you to be ready to start one before we go there. In the meantime… I get to know you.”

I smile, closing my eyes for a few seconds. “You're too good for me.”

He shrugs. “I get the sense that you need a friend.”

I nod. “I do.”

“Well, it's a good thing that Sheila encouraged you to talk to me yesterday then.”

I smile. I wonder what he would be like around Felicity. Normally I wouldn't rush into introducing her to a new friend, but… There's something about him that makes me feel so comfortable, even though I’ve barely known him 24 hours.

“This is a crazy idea,” I reply, as we stop outside the community centre. “But… Would you like to meet her?”

“If you're comfortable with letting practically a stranger meet your twenty-one month old, then… Yes.”

“If I wasn't comfortable, I wouldn't ask,” I reply. “Um… I think it would be best if I go in on my own & get her. You can meet her out here.”

“It's fine by me.”

****

It's a nervous few minutes waiting outside the community centre for Erin & Felicity. This could go either really well, or be a complete disaster.

The door in to the centre opens, & Erin emerges. She's got Felicity's bag hanging off her right shoulder with her handbag, & Felicity in her left arm. As they walk over to me, Erin points to me. Felicity gives me a shy smile.

“Felicity, this is Jay,” Erin says as she steps up to me. “Can you say ‘hi, Jay’?”

Felicity looks shy, before smiling & mumbling “Hi, Jay.”

Erin & I both smile.

“Hi Felicity,” I reply. “You're cute. Like your mum.”

I catch Erin blush in the corner of my eye. I reach out to Felicity, who reaches out & taps my hand. I tickle her palm with two fingers, & she giggles.

“Wow,” I reply. “She doesn't take to new people quite so quickly. Normally she's quite shy.”

“They say young children are good at telling who is trustworthy.”

She raises an eyebrow. “Is that so?”

“Or maybe she just senses that I’m friendly,” I reply. “She knows you know me. And I’m sure she knows you wouldn't introduce us if you didn't trust me.”

Erin smiles. “We should head back to my car.”

I nod. “I’ll walk with you.”

****

I watch Jay playing with Felicity as I make her dinner, & smile. When we reached my car, I took another leap of faith & asked if he wanted to come home & get to know me & Felicity more. He’s been here ever since.

He's so good with her. I find myself imagining what it would be like if he was here every day for her- if he became her step-father. What it would be like if we had our own kids…

I shake my head, dismissing the thoughts. Don't get caught up in fantasies, Erin. He's just a friend.

A friend that you have a massive amount of sexual attraction with.

Maybe you should give him a chance romantically…