The Golden Girl @creativewoman88
Chapter 14

Chapter Fourteen

Jessica got permission from her mom to start cleaning out the extra room for Steve that weekend. It was supposed to be a guest room, anyway, and there was already a bed and a dresser, but the bed was covered with – well, a lot of different things, and Jessica didn't know what it all was, really. The dresser was surrounded by boxes, and Jessica didn't really know what was in them either. They blocked the closed closet door.

It was going to be quite the job, but she would eventually get it done.

"Do you want help?" Dustin asked from his place on her bed.

"Maybe. I was thinking that we could go through a little each day and then Steve could help move the stuff sometime next week. Put it in the cellar or junk it, depending on what it is."

"I think some of Dad's stuff is packed up in there too," Dustin said. "It'd be nice to go through it before we put it in the cellar."

Dustin's voice had gone quiet, which caught Jessica's attention because Dustin was hardly ever quiet while speaking. When she looked at him he was sitting there not looking at her. She could tell that the mention of their dad had gotten to him. That was usually a topic they just skipped over whenever they talked. It was painful still even though it had been years since their dad had passed away.

"You know . . . maybe you can keep some of it in your room. We don't have to put all of it away."

"You don't think Mom would care?"

"Of course not. She kept it so we would have something to remember him by."

So they began that day, going through some of the boxes around the dresser. The first one was filled with baby clothes, both Jessica's and Dustin's, and Jessica laughed at them, at how tiny the clothes were. She knew they'd both been that small at one point, and she even remembered Dustin being that small, but it was still hard to believe.

"Toss it or keep it?" Dustin asked.

"Mom would kill us if we tossed these," she answered and laughed. "We'll put them in the cellar."

She put that box to the side and moved onto the next one, which held arts and crafts supplies. Definitely their mom's stuff, and since it had been stored in this box and left in that room it probably wasn't important, but she would ask before tossing it.

The next box was full of some of Dustin's old toys, which he went through but said they could toss without a hint of hesitation.

The fourth box they went through contained books packed from the time they'd moved to Hawkins, Indiana, and had forgotten about since. A few of them were Dustin's, but most were Jessica's.

The Call of the Wild; Oliver Twist; Alice's Adventures in Wonderland; To Kill A Mockingbird; Animal Farm; Anne of Green Gables; The Secret Garden . . .

Jessica had always been a big reader, more so before they'd moved to Hawkins, and definitely more so before she'd begun working at the movie theater, but she still loved to read. She would move the box of books to her room so she could go through them more thoroughly later. She had a bookcase that wasn't fully stacked yet in her room, so a few more books wouldn't be a problem.


The next day, Sunday, Jessica went through a few more boxes, only this time she was by herself because Dustin was over at Mike's. Steve would be over later, but at the moment . . . she'd found boxes of pictures from before their move, shoe boxes – many of them – full of moments captured on film, mostly birthdays and holidays spent with people she only spent time with once a year now.

Deep into the stacks of pictures she came across pictures from her first birthday. Obviously, her dad was in those pictures. It stopped her short, and her throat began to fill clogged. At the sight of her father tears burned behind her eyes. Her family usually actively avoided talking about her dad, so to see him there in the pictures in front of her was a sort of shock to her system.

Her dad was the reason Dustin liked science and that Jessica liked to read. Sure, their mom supported them with everything she had, but their dad had been the one to do things with them. He had been into sports, hockey mostly, but hadn't been offended when neither of his children had been athletic. He'd done science projects with Dustin, had taken Jessica to second-hand book stores to pick out books for him to read to her, and then when he'd gotten sick, she would read to him. They both had been partial to Charles Dickens novels. Jessica didn't know why she liked them, but she did.

She continued looking at the pictures, the ones that featured her dad, until her throat hurt from holding back tears. She realized she hadn't cried for her dad in years. Of course, she hadn't seen pictures of him either, until just them. They were a reminder of how much she missed him.

The fact that they had packed up and moved almost as soon as he was gone hadn't helped any. She'd never really grieved properly.

She hadn't cried since that time she'd freaked out in the diner with Steve, but she felt like crying now and so she did, though this time it wasn't from panic. It was from the gaping hold she had in her chest. She only ever felt it when she allowed herself to.

Aside from the leather jacket she'd had to get rid of last November, she hadn't had anything to remember her dad by. They had buried everything in boxes and now Jessica had found them. She wouldn't let them be buried away again.


That was where and how Steve found Jessica when he arrived at the Henderson house at three. He'd knocked but let himself in, had said hi to Ms. Henderson and she'd told him where Jess was.

He hadn't expected to find her surrounded by pictures, hadn't expected to find her with red-rimmed eyes. She'd obviously been crying, and he assumed it had something to do with the pictures around her.

"Jess?" he called out gently, not wanting to disturb or scare her by being loud.

He saw the tension seep out of her back and shoulders and could hear the relief in her voice when she said his name.

"Uh . . . are you . . . do you want me to leave?"

His instinct was to go to her, embrace her, try to make her feel better, but the truth was that he really didn't know what to do. She didn't cry a lot, so it was always a surprise when she did.

"Come sit with me," she said and moved some of the pictures around to make room for him on the floor beside her. She beckoned him over, so he went.

"What's wrong?" he asked as his butt hit the floor.

"The pictures. My dad's in them."

Jessica slumped against his side, her head hitting his shoulder. Steve let his arm wrap around her so he could hold her closer. His hand rested against her hip, over the pajama shorts she hadn't changed out of. He squeezed gently and he heard as she sniffled.

"You . . . you've never talked about him before."

The only thing Steve knew about Jessica's dad was that he had passed away and that Ms. Henderson had packed her kids up and moved to Hawkins because of it.

"Yeah, it's not something we do." She huffed out a breath that sounded like a laugh but definitely wasn't one. "I didn't know these pictures were up here. He's my dad and I could've had these the whole time, but instead they've been hidden in here!"

Jessica's voice had risen as she'd continued talking. Steve was afraid she was going to start yelling any minute now, which would just draw her mom's attention upstairs. If Ms. Henderson came to check on Jessica, Steve was sure Jessica would hurt her mother by turning her words on her. After all, it sounded as if Jessica blamed her mom for putting the pictures of her dad in the storage/guest room and just leaving them there.

"Hey, Jess . . . Maybe . . . maybe your mom couldn't look at them. Maybe she still can't. She wasn't trying to hurt you. She was protecting herself."

Jessica stiffened against him even as he felt her begin to shake with silent sobs.

"I don't wanna leave him in the boxes, Steve!"

"You don't have to," he said, and turned her to face him. "You don't have to. Maybe you need to see them. You can put them in the closet in your room – or you could get photo albums, keep them in there. We could look at them together one day, if that would help. But don't be mad at your mom for not being able to look at these. Might be too painful for her."

She lifted her head to place a wet kiss against the side of his neck before settling against him again.

"I'm sorry I'm such a mess. I was – I was going through the stuff in here, trying to figure out what we should keep and what we could get rid of and I wasn't expecting the pictures at all and – and there they were. And I found books last night, ones that he used to read to me, so I was thinking about him anyway."

She was speaking so quickly that she was almost stumbling over her words, but Steve understood anyway. He understood the fact that she'd had a relationship with her dad that he would never have with his own. He couldn't imagine his dad ever reading anything to anyone unless it was a contract of some kind.

"And then the tears came, and now here I am. I'm a mess! I haven't even gotten dressed yet, and I haven't done anything to my hair. And there you are, looking as good as ever. It's not fair!"

Steve turned his head to bury his face in the hair she was so worried about. He didn't want her to see the smile that had taken over his mouth when she'd started fussing about how she looked.

It was true that she was in her pajamas and that her face was a little blotchy from crying. It was even true that her kinky curls hadn't been tamed down to . . . less kinky curls.

"Jess, I think you've forgotten that I've seen you first thing in the morning." He pulled away so his mouth wasn't so much against her, so his voice wasn't muffled. "Prettied up or not, you're still beautiful to me. And I kind of like the kinky curls."

"You do?" she asked, sniffling one more time. "Really?"

"Well, yeah." He caught one of her curls between his fingers and pulled gently before letting it go. It went back to its original place, as if he'd never touched it. "I can do that and they just bounce back."

She shook her head and huffed out a breath. This time it was a laugh.

"And as for these little short shorts . . ." He placed a hand above her right knee and tickled the skin there with the tips of his fingers. "You can wear them whenever you want. They show off your legs."

Jessica's whole body had a softness to it. She was fit without being athletic. Her skin tone was almost the same as Dustin's, a shade lighter, maybe, especially in the winter. She went out only when she had to when it was cold. Though she didn't like the full heat of the summer, either, unless she could hop in a pool to cool off. Spring and fall, those were Jess's seasons.

"Steve!"

She hid her face against him, probably to hide the flush in her cheeks. His fingers slid to the inside of her leg and she allowed him to reach about mid-thigh before squeezing her legs together and catching his wrist with her hand. He stopped, let her remove his hand from her leg. He had only been teasing her anyway.

"Okay?" he asked. She looked up then.

"Yeah. I, um . . . that was . . . well, good, kind of ticklish, but Mom's here and that would've looked . . . not good."

Her voice was quiet and cautious, unlike how it had been earlier. She was never overly anxious about her choice of words unless she was feeling insecure about something.

"I mean, I know you weren't doing anything, but –"

"But it looked like I was."

"Yeah."

She kissed the spot on his neck that she'd kissed before, only this time she scraped her teeth over his skin and he let out a small gasp. He hadn't been expecting that, not from her.

She pulled away and the look she gave him was downright mischievous, insecurity forgotten.

"I can play, too, Steve."


After Jessica felt a little better, at least, she put the pictures back in the shoeboxes and moved them to her room. She needed to get dressed anyway, though she was going to leave her hair as it was. Why waste time on it now that she knew Steve liked it even when she didn't tame it all the way down?

Besides, the whole point of Steve coming over was so they could have dinner together – well, make dinner together and then eat it. Something that most people wouldn't believe was that Steve could cook. With his parents gone all the time, he had to learn. He hadn't wanted take out all the time, so he'd learned to make simple things.

They were making spaghetti that night. The hardest part would be the homemade sauce, and that was only because they had to dice up the tomatoes to put in the sauce.

They continued their play from earlier, bumping hips against each other, grinning whenever their eyes met. It gave Jessica's stomach butterflies, and sometimes she felt like giggling. It was a complete contrast to how she'd felt when he'd first arrived.

She hadn't been lying when she'd said the pictures had taken her by surprise and that was why she'd been crying about them. Steve had been so good, had even asked if she'd rather be alone instead, and of course she hadn't wanted to be. He'd hit the nail right on the head when he'd said she'd been mad at her mom for hiding her dad's pictures away, and she still was a little upset about it, but she wasn't going to let her mom know. Maybe it was like Steve had said and she just couldn't look at the pictures, couldn't face them because of who was in them.

Steve had made her feel better more quickly than anyone else would have, and the playful touching had been nice and something she hadn't expected but was completely okay with. It was Steve, though, so of course she was okay with it. She knew he'd never do anything she didn't want him to. If she said no, he would stop. He'd never hurt her that way or make her feel uncomfortable by pushing too far.

She knew that Steve felt that he'd maybe pushed Nancy a little when it came to them – in more ways than just the sex area – and he'd told her he hadn't wanted to make the same mistakes with her. That was why he hadn't ever really even mentioned sex in the few weeks they'd been together, and he was taking his cues from her.

At the moment, though, they were both at the stove, Jessica stirring the sauce in one pot and waiting for the water to come to a boil in another so she could put the noodles in, and Steve standing behind her with his arms around her and his chin on her shoulder so he could watch what she was doing. His fingers were tracing some kind of pattern over her stomach and she enjoyed the warmth of him pressing against her back and the feeling of him holding her while she was cooking. It was all very domestic and it made her feel happier than she had been in a while.

She brought the spoon up with a little bit of sauce and blew on it to cool it down before tasting it. She had put some sugar in it to get rid of the acidic taste from the tomatoes, so it was sweet – just the way she liked it.

Jessica turned her head toward Steve to ask if he wanted a taste, but his lips were right there, a few inches from hers, and she lost her train of thought. She allowed herself to lean closer so she could kiss him, just a soft brush of skin-on-skin, but then Steve moved on to her jaw and then, moving her hair to one side, her neck.

He scraped his teeth against her skin, much like she had done to him, and wrapped his arms more tightly around her. She almost dropped the spoon as a shiver shot its way down her spine.

It was the first time she'd felt anything like this – this electricity – even when it came to Steve. She almost squeaked when Steve began teasing the spot right under her ear. Warmth began to pool in her stomach and her heart began to race. She'd never known her sweet spots, but Steve had obviously found one. It was lovely and she just wanted him to continue kissing her neck forever.

He was being so soft with her, she knew there wouldn't be any marks left on her neck for anyone to see, which she was just fine with. She still had to face her mom and Dustin later. They were all going to eat dinner together, and Dustin would tease her relentlessly if he saw anything that even resembled a hickey.

It was only when Steve pulled her fully against him that she realized exactly how into this Steve was. She felt him, half-hard already, through his jeans, and she tensed in his arms. Steve seemed to sense the change in her body language because he lifted his lips from her skin and loosened his grip from her waist without letting go completely.

"What's wrong?" His voice was a bit hushed and rough against her ear. "What happened?"

"We're in the kitchen. Mom could come in, and Dustin should be home soon."

She very deliberately moved her hips away from his and she felt Steve suck in a breath as if he'd been punched in the gut.

"Crap," he said as his forehead hit her shoulder. "Sorry. I wasn't – I mean . . ."

She turned around then. The first thing she noticed was that Steve's face was flushed. She didn't know if it was due to what they had been doing of if it was because he now felt a little guilty for taking it so far.

She knew his body had just been reacting to their bodies being so close together. The fact that she'd obviously been enjoying it probably hadn't helped him out at all.

"Hey," she said, voice barely above a whisper. "It's okay. That was – that was so good."

Brown eyes met blue, his filled with hope."

"I didn't even know I liked having my neck kissed," she admitted. Then she said, "We can definitely explore that later, but not when – not when someone could walk in and see."

"You're not mad, ya know, about –" He glanced down at what would have been a big problem if they had continued kissing. "I thought, I mean you went completely rigid, so I thought maybe I had scared you or –"

"I have never been afraid of you, Steve Harrington," she admonished. "And you didn't do anything wrong. As your girlfriend, I would be offended if you didn't get hot and bothered when we – when we do things like that."

Steve grinned even as he began rubbing the back of his neck with one of his hands. It was a nervous gesture he had, and it would have been adorable if it hadn't meant that he was, in fact, nervous.

"Hey." She grabbed his arm to bring his hand away from his neck and then pulled him toward her. "I mean it. You did nothing wrong."

She pecked him on the side of his mouth, lingering for just a second, before turning back to continue stirring the sauce.


After the events of earlier, dinner was calm in comparison. Steve and Jessica had both calmed down long before Dustin had gotten home and definitely before either he or her mother had come into the kitchen, and now they were just sending shy but knowing glances at each other.

"Did you have fun at Mike's today?" Ms. Henderson asked Dustin.

"Yeah. Will was able to come over."

"That's great."

For the longest time, if someone had wanted to see Will, they could only see him at home. Joyce had understandably been scared to let him out of her sight, but now Will could go out to his friends houses or to the arcade as long as someone dropped him off and picked him up. Sometimes Jessica would drop by after school to pick him up on days she didn't have to work and either take him to one of the others houses or to her own – or to the arcade. He was no longer allowed bike privileges at all.

As far as the general population knew, when Will had gone missing for that week in November he'd picked up a bug that had completely shot his immune system to hell and he still had to have weekly check ups to make sure he hadn't caught anything else. It helped explain why he was being homeschooled for the rest of the school year.

"Hey, maybe we could have a movie night," Jessica suggested. "Saturday night. You guys can have an arcade day and then we can pick up some movies. I'll provide the snacks."

"Mom?" Dustin asked, mouth full of noodles.

"Sure," she said cheerfully. "Especially if Jessica is going to babysit since it was her suggestion."

Jessica really had no problem with that. She loved the boys and she might even invite Nancy and Johnathan. Steve could come too, obviously, if it wasn't too awkward for him. She'd leave that up to him.

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