Love Incorporated
By Elena Lane
Date: July 30, 2021
Ch. 44

“To talk to you,” Braxton said smugly, “I think that I made that pretty clear in my text.”

“How did you even get my number?” Tabitha asked, annoyed.

“It wasn’t that hard,” Braxton shrugged. “That Kenzie girl gave it to me. She’s very friendly it seems. So, I gave her some attention and afterwards, I looked through her phone and found your number,” He said devilishly. Tabitha felt like slapping him, but she resisted the urge.

“So, you slept with her just to get my number? You’re truly deluded,” Tabitha spat, disgusted.

“No, that wasn’t what I was saying, Tabby. Just because Kenzie wanted more didn’t mean I gave it to her. I only went far enough to get what I wanted.”

“That doesn’t make you any less of a jerk.”

“So, I’m a jerk because I didn’t sleep with a drunk girl? Is that what you’re saying?” Braxton asked, scoffing.

“No, not at all. What I meant is that…” Tabitha trailed off, not able to put in words what she meant to say. Besides, she had come to realize that this was a battle she simply couldn’t win. So, she gracefully threw in the towel.

“Point is, I’m interested in you, not Kenzie.” Tabitha looked into Braxton’s blue eyes and watched as he put a hand nervously through his sandy blond hair. There was a boyishness about Braxton that was quite endearing and while he acted cocky, his sweetness showed through often enough that Tabitha could tell that there was something beyond that smirk- a genuine warmth and kindness about him. Though, that didn’t mean that Tabitha wanted anything to do with him. He was still annoying even if he was sweet (and very attractive).

“Well, I have absolutely no interest in you, Braxton Decker.”

Braxton laughed a little; Tabitha obviously missed the joke because her face remained stern. Braxton took a sip of his drink. He cleared his throat, “I think you’ll see how perfect we are for each other, Tabby. But since you aren’t in a talking mood, I’ll see you later.” He winked, “Be warned that I won’t give up.” Then, with one last smirk, Braxton stood up, buttoning his tuxedo jacket and leaving Tabitha to herself. She was sure of it; Braxton Decker was someone she didn’t need in her life, but at the same time, she also knew that she wouldn’t be able to keep him away.

At the end of the evening, Tabitha was relieved to finally be able to curl up in her bed. She had had a wonderful time as she did every year, but regardless, all the fun and festivities of the evening left Tabitha to feel worn out. All Tabitha wanted to do was close her eyes and go to sleep; well, until she saw a message from Jared on her phone. That text made her want to stay up just a little while longer.

I had a great time tonight.

Me too.

And Tabitha meant that with utmost sincerity. Spending time with Jared had been one of the highlights of her evening. Merely thinking about him made her feel excited. There was still so much to discover about him and that kind of newness exhilarated her. She wanted to know more about him and though she hardly knew him, she was already imagining Jared as being the one. Tabitha was a romantic; so, every time she liked a boy even a little bit her imagination began spinning, imagining her own perfect fairytale.

Tabitha groaned when the next text she received wasn’t from Jared, but Braxton, of course it was from him. He had a way of interrupting Tabitha’s perfect moments. From the day she ran into him for the first time, he had been complicating things. Tabitha hated that and whereas Jared was building up the conversation slowly and smoothly, Braxton got right to the point.

Hey, Tabby, I was thinking it’d be fun to go out next week. Like on a date.

Not in your dreams. Besides, I already have plans.

Tabitha didn’t have plans, but she hoped to. Regardless, she never would have said yes to Braxton Decker.

Really? What plans do you have?

Tabitha didn’t respond. Instead, she decided to text Jared again.

I was just wondering if you’d want to go on a date?

Tabitha wasn’t normally so forward, but she needed Braxton to know that he had no influence over her and that she had no interest in him. Jared was a million times better than Braxton and going on an actual date with Jared would only reinforce that idea.

It felt like an eternity as Tabitha was waiting for a response. She was tired and felt her eyes drooping, but forced herself awake. She refused to sleep until she knew if Jared was interested. Though it felt like a long time, the text came in ten minutes later and Tabitha sighed with relief as she saw the response.

Sounds great! I’ll text you with the details.

Perfect. Well, I need my beauty sleep. Goodnight.

I doubt you need sleep to look beautiful, but goodnight ;)

Tabitha went to sleep with happy dreams. Jared was the perfect fit in Tabitha’s ordered life. She was certain that he was something special even though she didn’t know him very well yet. She imagined kissing him and even marrying him some day. Of course, she didn’t see wedding bells in the near future, but it didn’t hurt to imagine what might happen. A girl could dream.

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