Borders and Barriers

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"He made her into a crashlander who was seeing reality for the first time, and she was happy to plummet."
When someone hears the name Emelia Archer they think of the Instagram famous trendsetter, the daughter of Archer Enterprises, and the one who crashed herself into a scandal.
When someone hears the name Jackson Andrews they go...huh? Then they think of the art-loving boy, the one who stayed in the shadows for the fun of it.
Push those two opposites together and you've got a story, maybe not a love story, but a story nonetheless.

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10. The world is never easy.

 

Chapter Ten

 

The world is never easy.

But that is the fun part,

To work out the maze

And who we are meant to meet along the

Crooked way.

 

Jackson

The day they had to leave Trinity was the day Jackson opened his eyes with a groan, scrambling for the water and the tablets on his nightstand. His head pounded, and he wanted to dive back into the duvet instead of slapping blearily at his phone.

Jackson, you awake? The car comes at 10 remember?” Emelia called through and he groaned. He knew what had happened last night, he danced with Emelia and realised that he had a crush on her, one that didn’t want to go away anytime soon.

When he emerged from the safety of his bed Emelia didn’t say anything and they ate breakfast quietly before going back to their rooms to pack the rest of their things.

While Jackson packed a bag to take with him in the car he noticed both a polaroid from last night and a drawing in his sketchbook. He left them in the top drawer of the nightstand; a drawing of Trinity done high saturated colour and a polaroid of them smiling eagerly at the camera. With a post-it note he wrote a single string of lines; thank you, Trinity, for giving me everything I never knew I needed – Jackson Andrews.

Then he sobered and met Emelia outside who locked up the Cabin.

“Leaving so soon?” a voice said and the Croft’s stood looking at the car instead of them.

“Yeah, Brigadier calls to us,” Jackson called back and walked towards them, pretending not to see the way Emelia stalled near the door. “Thank you.”

“For what boy?” Harold asked as Jackson moved to hug the pair.

“For being you, for being there, for helping us and for providing Therapy Cake,” he muttered in Mary’s shoulder before moving onto Harold.

“It was no problem dear, you were both delights,” Mary uttered back and forced Emelia into a hug as the girl finally moved towards them.

“After all you have Trinity a great service by re-doing that damned sign,” Harold joked and didn’t say a word when Mary slapped him on the shoulder.

“We almost don’t want to leave you but life calls,” Emelia said withdrawing wetly from the Croft’s with eyes that had started to look damp.

Mary smiled, and she looked awfully young at that moment, “You’ll have to come back some day, sometime soon.” Then the pair was pulled into a group hug and they stayed there until Emelia sniffled and proclaimed that they had to go.

They could contact them at any time, Emelia had given them her number, not telling them about her real identity but taking a risk anyway and they had Jackson’s email and Instagram account. Emelia knew that she would have to have a phone call about why they had cover stories, but she reckoned that it would be done once the media was handled.

Then they said their final goodbyes and got into the car, not saying anything for the tense minutes while they drove out of Trinity. They both craned their necks to the back window when they passed the sign and Jackson felt an overwhelming sense of pride.

Goodbye Trinity; the home of trees.

Trinity had truly put them back together piece by piece and turned a car crash into a masterpiece worthy of a museum.

The car ride was held in silence, a far cry from Jackson’s train ride into the small town. Emelia spent the journey looking out the window and turning the keys for the cabin around in her hands. Jackson tried to read, to blur out the world with music, but he found that he was more distracted than ever before.

Brigadier was quiet and still when they reached it, late afternoon showing no congestion or media fan-fair. It was strange being back there, almost like it didn’t count for their home anymore even when three months had passed. Three months sounded like nothing, but it meant a lot.

When they pulled into the share carpark and stopped in a parking space Jackson felt Emelia still and inhale deeply. Her hands were screwed tightly around the keys and she looked panicked, not really listening as their driver told them that their parents were waiting in their usual office. Jackson leaned over the seat and placed his hand on hers, forcing her to look at him. He smiled thinly and assuredly and slapped a bright pink post-it note onto her hand.

He remembered briefly how they had left the amended contract on the fridge and grinned.

His message read; Everything will be okay, trust me, we will be fine.

She nodded and gulped.

Together they exited the car, allowed their driver to take care of their luggage and ascended through the lift to their parent's office.

“Everything is going to change now, you do know that right?” she said in the small space of the glass lift. She looked terrified.

“Yeah, but then again when have we ever been normal?” he retorted.

Quicker than he could blink her hands found the corners of his jacket and she hauled him close to her, their lips meeting briefly, chastely in the middle.

He gasped, and she took advantage of it and the world disappeared for a moment.

When they pulled apart the lift dinged on the floor they were meant to be on and she stepped out of the lift with grace and confidence. He had no choice but to follow her.

This time they were both out of place, in clothes made for camping instead of business. But the amusing thought vanished when he saw their families both in the room at the top of the needle.

“It’s so good to see you, son,” his mother breathed and hugged him. Over her shoulder, he could see his father and his brothers crowding around the table and Emelia hugging her parents off to the corner of the room.

“It’s good to see you too,” he murmured back to her and went around to hug the rest of his family. He had to stop his eyes from finding Emelia’s all the time when they finally sat at the table.

“How was your trip?” Michael asked, a glint in his eye.

“Good, I drew a lot, got some commissions as well,” Jackson said not rising to the bait his brother cast out.

“And you both kept to the contract, for three months without any monumental breaking of the clauses,” Richard Archer folded his hands and looked to his daughter when he said the word monumental.

“We did a lot of personal character building while we were in Trinity,” Emelia said, her posture tight and forced. This was the business Emelia, not the one that Jackson had become accustomed to over the course of their trip. It meant that she wasn’t going to back to her old ways and Richard nodded. “Good, now let’s discuss the future.”

Jackson allowed the world to blur around him and not in a good way as their families talked about future endeavours. He didn’t have a hand in the business, so he didn’t know why he was there. He did know however that every time he looked at Emelia, she refused to meet his eyes.

 

Emelia

Time had passed, like time often did. Her future had swelled and from the moment she had issued a statement about coming back from her hiatus and updated her Instagram account she had had more to do with AE. She worked alongside Michael Andrews to handle the social media side of the business and occupied her time with baking and reading instead of stealing hearts and being sugar pink.


The only thing that hadn’t gone right for her was Jackson. She had kissed him in that lift because she wanted to, and they were both sober. But ever since they had come back to Brigadier it had been radio silence from him. She checked his art account nearly every day and they texted casually about how life was going but they never met. For all she was concerned, he had become a turtle again.

She could have hunted him down, asked Michael for his address, but something held her back. It was a kind of nerves that she had never felt before. Did he feel the same way about her? He had kissed her back and it had been a nice kiss, different from the ones she usually had.

That excuse, the almost blatant lie that she had come up with of him not liking her back, was what kept her alive, and away from his flat or from dialling his number.

It was this reason why she paused from texting him when both AE and AI held a business gala. It was a standard affair, black tie and Emelia contented herself with a backless black dress and modest heels. But she felt so bored. She had limited herself to three glasses of champagne, even though she itched for more just to abate the boredom. The conversations were bland and too formal. Even the music seemed too classical and not uplifting in nature.

Therefore, she turned to her phone for sustenance and turned it over and over in her hands when it came to Jackson’s number. Finally, she breathed out and swallowed her pride.

You up? She texted, aware of the late hour.

As she waited for him to reply, if he even would, she scanned her eyes across the ballroom, finding his brothers in the crowd. Ethan was talking with a group of people, a glass of rum held easily in his hands. Michael was on his phone too, sat at his family’s table. She would have talked to him, but they saw each other nearly every day and it seemed awkward to attach herself to him just because she was bored and alone.

You know I’m a night owl – J

She smiled when he replied, and they conversed effortlessly, Emelia describing how boring the gala was but how she was unable to leave due to a promise to her mother. She had behaved perfectly for her parents, understanding that it would take a while for her scandal to disappear completely from the media’s memory.

Their texts reminded her of their post-it note conversations back at the cabin, the only way they knew how to talk to one another. The nostalgia whacked her in the face and she sat, draining the last drops from her glass.

Then a shadow fell over her phone and she looked up.

“Hi.”

Spencer, the PM’s son, stood there like he didn’t have a care in the world, probably because he didn’t. He had always been handsome, the kind of pretty and magnificent that would make any girl sigh before they found out his reputation and job. He was the full package, a dream and the last of a dying dating breed. In conclusion, he was everything that the Love Queen adored and everything that the new Emelia Archer needed to hate.

She gulped, not knowing what to say.

But he didn’t back off instead, he sat next to her and the space between them vanished.

“How are you?” he asked, nonchalant and easy.

“I’m fine, we really shouldn’t be talking,” she craved a drink, yet she knew that if she touched a drop she wouldn’t stop, and they would be right back to the beginning.

“Don’t be like that Em, we had such a good time together, remember?” his fingers trailed down her arm and revulsion crawled up her throat. She didn’t want to be this close to him, she didn’t even want to be near him. But she couldn’t find it within her to move.

“I remember us getting drunk and me crashing the car, that scandal ending with a restraining order. You shouldn’t even be here.”

“No one will know,” he crooned, and she stood quickly.

“Stay away from me, like you’ve been told.”

“But don’t you want to have more good times together, or at least apologise for the crash?” he stood with her and followed her as she took a step away.

“Fine, I’m sorry for crashing the limousine now go away,” she said, lifting the phone to her ear before she could register the motion. Her fingers were tapping Jackson’s icon and she begged him to pick up.

“Emelia what–?” he said before she choked out an answer.

“Spencer is here, the guy that I crashed the limousine with and I want a drink and the Love Queen is so close and I don’t want her to be. He’s following me, Jackson. I don’t know what to do,” her breaths came out panicked and she didn’t want to look behind her to see Spencer.

“I’ll be there,” the words were said quick and he hung up the phone. She was left to stare at it blankly and listen to Spencer croon behind her.

“Come on, you’re the famous Love Queen, loving is what you do best.”

“I’ve changed Spencer, I’m not that girl anymore,” she begged, turning to face him.

Nobody changes that fast, once a Queen always a Queen,” he chuckled.

Hey, asshole, when a girl says no she means no,” Jackson arrived quickly, striding to where Emelia and Spencer were from where the kitchens were located. He looked good, to say the least, a tux wrapped around his shoulders with a pair of black converse on his feet.

“Hey man Emelia’s taken,” Spencer tried to say but then a look of fury burrowed its way into Jackson’s face. In one fluid movement, Jackson elbowed in between them and his fist connected with Spencer’s face, sending him veering backwards.

When the PM’s son went down the room exploded into noise and movement. The men were pulled apart when a fight broke out, Spencer towards the door and Jackson towards the bathrooms, his brothers taking a hold of his shoulders.

The room was too loud for Emelia to decipher proper words, although she did hear the word scandal plenty of times, and she followed them into the bathrooms. 

“Why did you do that?” she asked stupidly.

“Because he was pestering you and being a dick,” he replied, hissing as his hands were forced underneath the tap. They were bruised and split, blood overtaking the place where paint should have been.

“How did you even get here so fast?” Michael asked, pulling out toilet paper to hold to Jackson’s hands.

“I’ve been waiting in the car for hours, debating whether I should come in or not, I had an incentive after all,” Jackson sheepishly said, looking towards Emelia.

“You stupid boy,” she murmured back and took his hands in hers when Michael was done holding toilet roll to them.

They didn’t need any incentive when Jackson leaned down and kissed her.

“I thought being a human was better than a turtle,” he muttered after they withdrew.

Emelia smiled and in the mirror she looked at the faces of Jackson’s brothers, both gawking in the distance. 

 

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