Jocelyne was fairly certain she was going to vomit. Literally. She could actually feel the contents of her stomach churning as she stared at the hard wooden door in front of her. She could not see very well through the frosted glass, but she heard the soft tapping of typing and occasional click of a mouse on the other side.
You can do this. She told herself firmly. You have to.
With a deep breath, she put on a smile, lifted her fist and knocked.
“It’s open!” Mark’s deep voice called from the other side.
Jocelyne’s boss looked up at her, a smile coming to his face the moment he laid eyes on her. “Hey.” He said brightly. “How’s it going out there? Need some help with crowd control?” Mark suggested.
The young girl shook her head. “No, it’s still pretty dead. I left Theresa out there to fend for herself… I’m sure she can handle it.” Jocelyne forced a smile, and hoped her voice sounded casual.
“Do you need anything?” He asked kindly. “Or were you just hoping to analyze those horrible new Moonlight Massacre TV spots?” A loud burst of laughter escaped his lips.
“Oh God, they were pretty awful, weren’t they?”
Mark nodded in agreement. “I thought the previews were supposed to show the best parts of the movie…” He sighed, then appeared to be looking her up and down for a moment. “But something tells me that’s not what you’re here to talk about.”
Jocelyne almost smiled. He really knows me better than anyone. “Yeah, I um… I just wanted to talk for a minute… About something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.”
“Of course.” He gestured toward one of the chairs across from him and walked around the desk to sit beside her. “What’s on your mind?”
You. Jocelyne wanted to say. All the time. She hesitated. Where could she even begin? “I… I broke up with Elliot yesterday.” The words burst from her lips before she even realized what she was saying. Oh Jesus. Nice one, Joce. Smooth.
Mark’s brow furrowed in concern at her words. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He said softly. “I know everyone always feels sorry for the person on the receiving end, but… Being the one who does it it can be just as hard.”
Jocelyne nodded. There it was again… He was so deep, so sensitive. So smart. No, wise. She corrected herself, recalling the conversation they’d had before her visit home. Was that when things had changed? She wondered. Or maybe they never changed at all… Maybe I changed.
“How are you holding up?” Mark’s soothing voice called her back to the present.
She shrugged. “I’m okay.” Her voice was soft. “It was hard, but I know it was the right thing to do… It wasn’t fair to keep stringing him along.” Jocelyne explained. “I thought I loved him… But I finally realized I don’t.”
He nodded in understanding. “Sounds like you did the right thing.” When he smiled, those familiar little wrinkles appeared in the corner of his eyes. Jocelyne’s heart fluttered at the sight of them. “It can be easy to fool yourself into believing you love someone… But when you know, you know.”
“Exactly.” She replied. “And… that was how I figured it out, actually.” Jocelyne admitted. “I thought I loved Elliot… Until I realized I was already in love with someone else. I could feel it.”
Mark raised an eyebrow at her. “The plot thickens!” He laughed. “So… who’s the lucky guy?” His voice was teasing. “You don’t really have to tell me, by the way.” He assured her with a small wink. “I’m just pulling your leg.”
Jocelyne’s nausea suddenly returned. “I… I don’t mind telling you.” She said at last. “It’s, uh… someone you know, actually.”
“Yeah… He’s… Well, he’s really funny. No one can make me laugh the way he can.” Jocelyne locked her eyes with his as she spoke. It was like she was in a trance… Or under a spell. She simply couldn’t look away. “And he’s so kind, and caring. He has a bigger heart than anyone I’ve ever met.”
Jocelyne was on her feet now, her eyes still never leaving Mark’s. “And he’s a genius. The way he looks at the world is so deep. He’s always amazing me with how smart he is… Or, wise, I guess…” Her smile widened.
Mark was on his feet as well as she began closing the distance between them. He said nothing. He simply watched and listened as Jocelyne drew closer and closer. “He’s the most amazing person I’ve ever met in my entire life, Mark. He’s everything to me.”
The girl reached out and ran her hand down the coarse stubble on his cheek.
For one beautiful moment, everything was absolutely perfect.
And then, all too quickly, it was gone.
Mark stepped back from her, shaking his head back and forth. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”
“W-what?!” She spluttered. “B-but… But I thought…”
“I don’t know what you ‘thought’, but I am your boss!” He snapped at her. “I could fire you for this kind of behavior!”
Jocelyne felt like she couldn’t breathe. It was like there was a thousand-pound weight pressing down on her chest. Crushing her. Suffocating her. “Mark, I… I just –”
“You need to leave.” His voice was cold. “Now.”
She could already feel the hot sting of tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry. I just… I thought that you –”
“I’m not asking.” Mark interrupted her. “Go home, Miss Rosebrook. You’re done for the day.”
Jocelyne opened her mouth once more, and tried to speak… But no words would come.
She wept the entire way home.
And, on that happy note… today’s update was my 200th chapter! 😮 I almost can’t believe how far we’ve come since Alex hopped on that plane to Windenburg back in December 😉
Thank you so much for sharing in the Rosebrooks’ crazy, soap-opera lives. They all love you (And so do I!)
I also want to give a super special shout out to ra3rei and JoieWilder, without whom this story seriously wouldn’t be possible. If you are a fan of this story, you definitely have them to thank for helping it be what it is 🙂 Between making sims & builds for me, pre-reading a million chapters, and giving me feedback and ideas on my plot, they have both helped me so much. You guys are great friends and I appreciate you both so much ❤