Missing someone is a sure sign you care about them. But when you let them know that is when they actually can understand your feelings. “I missed you,” “I’ve been thinking about you,” are great simple moments to include in a romance to build the connection between characters.
#100ways note: “I miss you” follows after “time together” with Elena promising to take Jess on her laundry errand.
I struggled writing this one because Elena is struggling. I hope that it comes through all right. ~ LZ
Elena’s mind and body vibrated each time she was able to step close to Jess. Standing next to her to unlock the trunk, she said, “You can put the bag in here.”
The way the blonde hugged the bag as she took it off her shoulder, it looked like Jess might keep the bag with her instead. But after a moment of looking from Elena to the open trunk and back again, Jess finally tossed the bag into the dark space. Elena backed up, reached toward Jess who took a step back as well, and closed the trunk.
She walked to the passenger side and unlocked the door. “Here you go.” She smiled at Jess and pulled the door open, standing behind it as Jess walked up to get in. Her hands on the frame trembled. Jess’s gaze met hers briefly then she nodded. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome.” So many other words, questions really, clamored behind the easy polite words she knew. Elena hoped they’d get to share those other words and she’d understand Jess better by the end of the day. After checking that Jess had hands and feet safely inside, Elena closed the passenger door and hurried around to the driver side.
As she went through the start up of the car only glancing occasionally at Jess, Elena asked, “Where’s the laundromat you use?”
“Next to the high school. There’s a library branch in the plaza.” Jess pulled out a small card. “Here’s the address. It’s just a few miles.”
“That’s fine.” Elena tapped the address into the car’s dash GPS and pressed GO. The computerized female voice started directing them out to the roadway. When the GPS voice spoke, the radio, playing a Latin jazz station, would fall silent.
Jess didn’t move much and looked forward out the front windshield as Elena drove.
Elena spotted the high school first, its two-story adobe over concrete facade a relic of the 1970s. The plaza was the next turn in past the bus lane, its street directory proclaiming blandly “library” and “laundromat” one under the other, along with a Cuban diner and a check cashing store. She found a parking space close to the library. Jess met her at the back of the car, retrieving her clothes bag as soon as the trunk lid popped up.
Again, Elena let Jess lead. Of the dozen industrial washers, four or five were occupied, guarded by a stoop-shouldered Black woman who looked up from behind reading glasses to take them in and dismiss them in the same glance.On the opposite wall was an equal number of dryers, two of which were currently running. Jess moved to an open washer at the front of the line and started pulling clothes from her bag resting on the floor.
Elena commented as she looked around. “It’s been a while since I’ve been in one of these.”
Jess looked up and around before she said quietly, “This is weird, right? You don’t have to stay. I can deal from here.”
Elena put her purse down on the top of the front-loading washing machine Jess had commandeered and leaned in close so she could look directly into the blonde’s green eyes. “I said I wanted to spend time with you. I miss you.”
A worried furrow of Jess’s brow followed Elena’s words.
“I mean it,” Elena said, grasping Jess’s hand stalling the toss of clothes. “I know you were busy, and I understand you said no, but I miss you.”
Jess swallowed. “I got scared.”
“I get that. Maybe not entirely why, but I already understood you don’t like dealing with big things. And while I didn’t see it as much, you saw the offer as a big thing.”
“You and Eric took me to dinner and everything.”
“You saw it like a proposal.” Elena nodded; she and Eric had discussed this too. And confirming Eric’s thoughts, Jess had told her just today about the boyfriend who’d moved them into an apartment only to lose that, and him, in a drug bust. “I had been thinking of talking to you. I chose the wrong time and place. That night was magical for me, too, Jess. With everything I was feeling, I just couldn’t stand the idea you might leave.”
“My room at the hotel comes with the job. I have a roof over my head.” Jess pulled back and finished loading the washer, added quarters, pushed the button for detergent and cycle, and hit start.
As the machine rumbled to life, the noise almost drowned out Elena’s reply. “How much though does Hector not pay you, or take back, for you to have that room? You could save money living with Eric and me.”
“But I wouldn’t feel right.”
“Didn’t you say you roomed with friends before?”
“Coworkers,” Jess corrected. “A few dollars for a mattress in a corner.”
“We’d treat you better than that.”
“We were having fun. Living together might change that.”
“It might make it better,” Elena insisted. “Think about the few times you spent the night. Wasn’t it a nice way to wake up? Together?”
She could see Jess thinking hard about the question. She sat down in a metal frame chair. Jess sat down next to her. She wanted to reach across the space and take Jess’s hand, hold her, tell her it wasn’t going to be terrible. But Elena realized Eric had been right. She’d jumped the gun and put pressure on Jess she wasn’t expecting.
So she exhaled, and shook her head. She blew out a breath; giving up was something she seldom did. “All right. Topic tabled. I won’t mention it again.” Jess glanced at her from the side. “I’d still like to be able to see you.”
Jess straightened slowly and nodded. “I’d like that too.”
Elena smiled and was gratified to see Jess smile back. “What do you usually do while the laundry is in?”
“Read, but I didn’t have a book I was reading right now. Was going to check out the library.”
Elena nodded. She stood and grabbed her purse. As they walked the couple doors down to the library entrance, she eagerly shared her own enjoyment of reading. “I used to snap up the abandoned books on planes when we were cleaning the cabin. Read some wild stuff over the years. What sort of books do you like?”
“It’s silly,” Jess hedged. She held the door open for Elena to enter first.
“No, no, share. I’d love to know.”
“Fantasy, quests, magic, stuff like that.”
“All right. So let’s see what we can find.”
So what do you think? Are Elena and Jess back on the road to falling in love?