“Joey?” Bessie pushed open the door to Joey’s bedroom, leaning against it as she regarded her curiously. “Aren’t you working today?”
Joey lifted her head off the pillow and felt a stinging sensation behind her eyes. She squinted at Bessie as the partial sunlight filtering in through her bedroom window blinded her.
“Um…yeah. Why?” She croaked the words out in a hoarse voice.
“Well, because it’s almost 9:00 am. If you want to get a ride with Bodie, he’s leaving in ten minutes.”
Joey quickly sat upright in bed and dropped her head into her hands, momentarily feeling as if it were too heavy for her neck to support. Her temples were throbbing with pain now and her stomach lurched a bit at her sudden movement.
“Oh, God…can you tell him to just give me a minute.” Joey groaned. “I’m supposed to be covering brunch. They are already understaffed because it’s the holiday weekend.”
“Okay.” Bessie said dubiously as she watched her for a moment before she turned to leave the room. “Just get your ass in gear.”
Joey jumped out of bed and ran down the hall to the bathroom. She quickly washed her face and pulled her hair up in a messy ponytail, but then needed to sit on the edge of the tub for a minute as her head started to spin.
“Joey?” She heard Bessie’s annoyed voice coming from the kitchen.
“Yeah, yeah. I’m coming.” She grumbled and slowly stood up again. Picking up her toothbrush, she tried not to gag on the sharp, minty taste of the toothpaste.
She jogged back down the hall to grab one of her uniforms out of her closet and realized for the first time as she began to undress that she slept in the clothes she had been wearing the night before. She grabbed her bag and emerged from her bedroom, clumsily buttoning up her shirt as she hurried towards the front door.
“Hey.” Bessie called out as she passed by her. “It hasn’t warmed up out there at all yet. You’ll need a sweater.”
Joey saw a familiar sweatshirt hanging off the back of one of the kitchen chairs and picked it up to pull it on. As she tugged it over her head, she was suddenly hit with the residual odors of smoky wood, salty sea air and a faint trace of fruity rum, all mixed with a scent that was uniquely and unmistakably Pacey. Joey froze on the spot as all the color drained from her face, scenes from the previous evening flooding her memory. Her stomach lurched again, both from the smell of the alcohol and from the realization that she had kissed Pacey.
Bessie looked at her, raising an eyebrow suspiciously. “What’s with you?” She asked. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“N-nothing.” Joey stammered, picking up her bag again and hiking it up over her shoulder as she turned to leave. “I’ll see you later.”
“Okay.” Bessie watched her go and shook her head.
Joey quickly crossed the yard to where Bodie was waiting for her in the truck. She opened the door and climbed up into the seat, sitting back with a soft groan as she closed her eyes.
Bodie glanced over at her in amusement as he started down the driveway. “Tough one this morning, Joey? Did you overdo it a bit at that party last night?”
“You have no idea.” She muttered, shaking her head in mortification.
Joey leaned back against the service station, watching the lines of people browse by the buffet tables. One of the other waitresses had given her some aspirin and the pounding in her head was finally beginning to subside. At least working the brunch shift, all she was required to do was fetch coffee and juice. That was about all she could handle at this point.
She began to chew nervously on her bottom lip as she glanced out the dining room windows that looked over the marina. Every so often she would catch a glimpse of the launch arriving or departing from the dock.
On one hand, she thought, if she was going to do anything to monumentally embarrass herself, at least she did it with Pacey, who was her friend and who would most likely laugh it off with her. On the other hand, she then thought with a sinking feeling, she probably couldn’t have picked a worse person than Pacey. As if he would ever let her live this one down.
The one thing Joey didn’t want to think about at all was the why of the situation. What had possessed her to kiss him? It was true that their banter and teasing over the years had gradually shifted away from the pointed barbs and sarcastic quips to a subtler, almost sexually suggestive tone, but it had always been a sort of a harmless game they played with each other. There were really no hidden meanings behind any of it, Joey assured herself. Perhaps she had just taken it too far under the influence of alcohol. But it wasn’t like she’d never been drunk around Pacey before. She’d certainly been able to keep her lips to herself on all those other occasions.
Joey sighed heavily and looked back over to her tables as she picked up the pot of coffee behind her. As much as she didn’t want to admit it, she had been thinking about that kiss long before it ever happened. There was a certain part of her that was curious about Pacey, for lack of a better word. Knowing how experienced he was, seeing how other girls at school practically threw themselves at him, a person couldn’t help but wonder.
Joey had to admit that in some ways sex was just as big a mystery to her as it had ever been. When she and Dawson had decided to make a commitment to one another again, they had agreed to wait an appropriate amount of time. It had seemed to be the right thing to do. Unfortunately, analyzing and planning it out so carefully beforehand tended to make the event itself somewhat anti-climatic. In every sense of the word. Things eventually improved in that area, of course, but Joey often wondered if it would have been any different if they had ever let themselves just get swept up in the moment. How things might have been if they had gone ahead and had sex that infamous night she offered herself to him in his bedroom the beginning of junior year, for instance. Or that equally as fateful night she crawled back into his window at the end of junior year. In retrospect, however, she supposed she wasn’t exactly in the best of emotional states in either instance. And she realized now that sex wasn’t even exactly what she had been looking for either time.
Although she was no longer a virgin, Joey still had a difficult time viewing herself as a sexual being. Pacey, however, seemed to have some natural ability to set her at ease and instill her with self-confidence, and the way he had of making her feel comfortable in her own skin could sometimes actually make her feel sexy. He also had a certain way of looking at her every so often that sent her mind right to places it shouldn’t go. Joey sighed again. Maybe it was true that men and women couldn’t just be friends. Maybe sex had to always enter into the picture somewhere.
She crossed the dining room, stopping to refill cups and check on her tables. She noticed a group of girls in perfectly matched tennis attire sitting at one of the big round tables by the window. There was a time when Joey had felt awkward and self-conscious waiting on the young country club set, but now that she knew she would be leaving this all behind for Worthington at the end of the summer, she found that they had little affect on her anymore.
Joey couldn’t help but smile, remembering how that was partly due to Pacey. He had told her that she had the satisfaction of knowing she deserved her place at a prestigious college because she had worked so hard for it, while most of them would only be there because their parents had bought their way in. Joey didn’t know how much truth there was to that, but somehow the fact that Pacey wanted her to believe it made her feel good. Just being around Pacey made her feel good. And, for some reason, she was starting to hope she might have the same effect on him. Maybe there was a little something behind all their joking and teasing. Could it be possible that Pacey was having these same thoughts? How weird would that be? Her and Pacey? After all this time? Joey shook her head and tried to stop thinking about him.
At that moment a man sitting at the table next to them flagged her down. Joey grimaced as she walked over to refill his cup, noticing for the first time that Leah White was one of the color-coordinated girls sitting there. She carefully slid past the table so that her back was to them.
“More coffee?” Joey forced a cheerful smile to her face. She could overhear bits and pieces of the conversation going on behind her.
“So, then the asshole comes by my house last night at two in the morning looking to get laid.”
“Oh, Leah! What a jerk! I heard that he used to do the same thing to Melissa Martin. What did you tell him?” One of the girls responded in a high-pitched voice.
“I told him that I didn’t know what he expected, just showing up like that, but I didn’t appreciate it. I told him not to bother calling me again. He was pleading with me to reconsider, but I’ve finally decided I’m officially done with Pacey Witter.”
Joey froze in position for a split second, feeling her stomach drop and the heat rise up in her cheeks. She gave the man at the table she was waiting on another quick obligatory smile before turning and making a hasty retreat to the waitress station.
Pacey leaned down to hold the side of the launch steady with his hand as his passengers began to disembark onto the dock. He glanced over his shoulder to look up at the Yacht Club again. He had seen Bodie’s truck pulling in to drop Joey off that morning, but there had been no sign of her since. Pacey nodded his head as he watched the last person hop down to the dock, thanking him as they went. He was familiar enough with her schedule to know that her break time had most likely already past. Any other day, she would have made an appearance by now, even if it was just to wave to him from the porch.
He heard his name being called out over the radio but there was too much accompanying static for him to decipher where his next pick-up was. Sighing heavily, he climbed back up on the boat and picked up the receiver. He turned around to look up at the club one last time and almost dropped the radio, fumbling it in his hands, as he saw Joey walking down the swaying wooden ramp that led to his dock. His heart began to pound against his chest wall as he watched her approach him.
“Hey.” She said softly when she finally reached the launch, a small smile playing around the corners of her mouth.
“Potter.” He replied quietly as he smiled. Cringing inwardly as he heard his voice crack slightly on her name, he loudly cleared his throat.
She twisted her mouth into a crooked half smile and rolled her eyes as a faint tinge of blush colored her cheeks. “So…” She began slowly, drawing out the word. “Rumor has it that I may have had a bit too much to drink last night and I, um…may have done a few things to embarrass myself.”
Pacey raised an eyebrow and tilted his head to regard her playfully. “Really? Such as?”
Joey just met his eyes with a smirk and shook her head at him. “It’s okay, Pacey. Let me have it. Give me your best shot. I’m ready.” She sighed as she placed her hands on her hips.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Pacey shrugged his shoulders, but couldn’t hide the mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes.
“Okay, fine. Be that way.” Joey shook her head at him again, looking out at the water.
Pacey dropped his head and smiled, lowering his voice as he watched her. “Well, there was that kiss, if that’s what you’re talking about.”
Joey glanced back at him and Pacey was caught off guard temporarily as her wide gray eyes met his. He looked back to the ground, swallowing nervously as he opened his mouth to speak, and tried to determine which of the approximately two hundred things he wanted to tell her would be appropriate under the current circumstances. Before he had a chance to say anything, however, Joey’s voice interrupted his thoughts.
“I don’t even remember it, really, if that makes you feel any better.” She said quickly, throwing her hands in the air. Pacey did not think she could have possibly said anything to make him feel worse.
“It’s just kind of this brief flash of something that that went through my mind when I was thinking back on last night.” She continued with a quick laugh. “So, I know I’ve given you ammunition to use against me for the rest of the summer, but I just wanted to apologize.”
“Apologize?” Pacey repeated her word and dropped his head again as if he were considering this, feeling like someone had just knocked the wind out of him. He took a deep breath and felt the familiar dull stabbing pain in his chest. He exhaled loudly and looked up at her. “Well, there’s really no need to apologize, Jo. After all, you’re only human.” He chuckled softly.
Joey rolled her eyes and smiled, appearing to be relieved by his familiar teasing. “Yeah, yeah. I know, Pace.” She watched him for a moment but he didn’t say anything else. “Well, then…I guess I should get back to work.”
Pacey smiled quickly and nodded his head. “Okay. I’ll see you later.”
“See ya.” Joey started to walk back up to the Yacht Club. She had only gone a few feet when she turned to look at him again. “Thanks for not making a big deal out of this, Pace. I appreciate it.”
Pacey smiled again, giving her a wave before he picked up the radio and turned away. “No problem.” He muttered under his breath with a sigh.
Joey closed the door of the B&B behind her, leaning back against it. She was physically exhausted, having worked double shifts all week covering for another waitress who was on vacation. Even though it was barely dinnertime, all she wanted to do was soak in a hot tub, put her pajamas on and go to sleep.
“Oh. There you are.” Bessie came into the kitchen with a stacked of folded linens in her arms. “I need you to help me strip and change all the bed sheets. The families are going to be arriving any time now.”
“Families?” Joey repeated weakly.
“Yeah.” Bessie replied. “For that wedding this weekend? You do remember we are booked solid, don’t you?”
Joey closed her eyes with a groan. “Oh no…it figures.”
Bessie looked at her, her face softening a bit. “I know you’ve worked an insane number of hours at the club this week. Just help me make these beds and you’ll be officially off duty, okay?”
“Okay.” Joey sighed, pushing herself off the door to follow Bessie down the hall to the bedrooms.
After the beds had all been made, Joey walked into the bathroom and stripped out of her uniform. The window was open a crack and she could hear the sound of tires outside crunching on the gravel driveway, the first of the guest arriving for the weekend. She turned the faucet on in the bathtub, opening the cabinet to look for the fizzy bath salts Bessie had given her for her birthday.
All of sudden there was a loud rapping on the door. “Hello? Is this occupied?” There was a gruff male voice on the other side.
“Yes. I’ll be out shortly. I’m running a bath.” Joey called back, rolling her eyes as she tried to sound polite as possible under the circumstances.
“Well, please don’t be too long. We have ten people here who have been traveling all day and need to get ready for a wedding rehearsal dinner in an hour.” Over the sound of footsteps retreating down the hall, Joey could hear voices beginning to fill the house, men laughing, children yelling and women calling after them.
She turned and looked at the tub starting to fill up and sighed, reaching over to turn off the water and unplug the drain. At least she could still take a quick shower before cuddling up in her bed for the night.
Joey emerged from the bathroom, pulling the sash on her terry cloth bathrobe a little tighter as she quickly padded down the hall. Bessie was waiting for her in her room.
“Joey, I need you to do me a huge favor.” Bessie looked slightly distraught.
“What is it?” Joey asked slowly, watching her warily.
“We’ve overbooked this party. They’re claiming that they told me that they might have additional people, but I thought they were going to call to confirm. So…now the extra people are here with the impression that a room was being held for them.” Bessie raised her eyebrows expectantly.
“So, you’re kicking me out.” Joey sighed wearily.
“You can stay with a friend tonight, can’t you?” Bessie asked.
“Who?” Joey threw her arms up in the air. “Jen is already up in Boston, and Jack and Andie are traveling in Europe with their father.”
Bessie looked at her, raising an eyebrow. “Well, what about Pacey? Can’t you just crash over at his place tonight? I’m sure he wouldn’t mind.”
Joey hesitated, feeling her stomach do that now familiar little flip at the mention of his name. It had been almost two weeks since the incident at the party and she had only really seen Pacey here and there at the Yacht Club. “Um…I guess.” She said uncertainly, feeling a little guilty as she heard the pleading tone in Bessie’s voice.
“Thanks, sis. I owe you one.” Bessie gave her a quick hug before hurrying out of the room and coming back in with a stack of sheets that she shoved in Joey’s arms. “Just change the bed for me before you go, okay?”
Joey sighed as she turned to drop the sheets on the bed and gazed thoughtfully at the telephone sitting on her nightstand.
Pacey met her at the door to the beach house, holding the phone to his ear with one hand and a beer in the other, and just motioned for Joey to come in.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got to go now.” Pacey lowered his voice as he spoke into the phone and walked towards the kitchen. Joey slowly followed him into the house, quietly closing the door behind her.
“Okay. Yeah. Whatever. Sure.” Pacey was obviously rushing whoever it was on the other end of the line. “I’ll talk to you about this later, okay? Yep. See ya.”
Pacey turned to look at Joey and smiled, his voice softening. “Hey.”
“Hi.” She shrugged her shoulders. “Sorry to interrupt.”
“Huh?” Pacey looked at her in confusion and Joey pointed towards the phone in his hand. Pacey glanced at it as if he were unaware he had still been holding it and tossed it onto the kitchen counter.
“Nah.” He shook his head as he turned to walk to the refrigerator. “You didn’t interrupt anything. You actually saved me. That was Drue.”
“Ah.” Joey nodded and smiled knowingly. “Yeah, I’m still trying to figure out what contest in hell I won to have him end up at Worthington with me.” She walked over towards the couch and dropped her bag on the floor. “So, thanks for letting me crash here tonight, Pace. Are you sure Gretchen isn’t going to mind?”
Pacey shook his head as he opened the refrigerator. “Nah. She’s said it’s fine. She’s got that new boyfriend down in Providence so she usually stays at his place on the weekends anyway. It’s no problem.”
Joey nodded silently in response to this, briefly wondering what Pacey did with a whole beach house to himself every weekend, and then quickly pushed that thought aside, not really wanting to know. She was already embarrassed enough that she had been so wrong in thinking he might be harboring some hidden interest in her as anything other than a friend. She didn’t need to be reminded that he had plenty of other options in that regard.
Pacey glanced at her over the open refrigerator door. “Can I get you anything? Water? Gretchen has some ice tea in here, I think.” His narrowed his eyes at her in amusement. “I’d offer you a beer but I don’t want to be fighting you off me all night.”
“Ha hah.” Joey replied sarcastically and rolled her eyes as she sat down on the couch. “I’m all set, and I think you’re safe, Pace.”
”Okay.” He chuckled as he walked over with his beer to drop down into the cushions at the opposite end of the couch from her, picking up the remote control.
Joey tilted her head to watch him. “I was actually surprised you answered when I called. What are you doing home on a Friday night anyway?”
Pacey glanced at her and shrugged, motioning towards the television screen with the remote in his hand. “Red Sox are playing the Yankees.” He explained.
“I never realized you were so into baseball that you would give up a perfectly good date night, Pace.”
Pacey grinned slyly. “Hey, so what if I feel like taking a night off every so often? I don’t have anything to prove. Not all of us spent every Friday night of our teenage years stuck in Dawson’s bedroom watching movies, you know.”
“Don’t remind me.” Joey muttered and rolled her eyes.
Pacey glanced at her out of the corner of his eye, mildly surprised by her response.
“So, what is Gretchen up to these days?” Joey looked around the beach house. “Has she decided if she is going back to school?”
“Yeah. I think she probably will.” Pacey settled back, propping his feet up on the coffee table as he balanced his beer bottle on the arm of the couch. “She is pretty into this new guy though, so her plans tend to change week to week. I think he’s actually giving her the full court press to transfer to a school down there and move in with him.”
“Really?” Joey replied. “Wow.” She laughed softly after a moment. “Do you remember when Dawson used to have a huge crush on her? We ran into her when she first came home last summer and he was positively tongue-tied.”
“And that amused you?” Pacey raised an eyebrow and looked at her skeptically.
“Well, yeah.” Joey shrugged. “I mean, even though you might be in a relationship, you still notice other people. It’s only normal.”
“That’s very progressive thinking. Especially for you, Joey Potter.” Pacey chuckled. He looked at her, slowly raising an eyebrow as he lowered his voice. “So, are you going to tell me what other people you were checking out?”
“The Red Sox are playing the Yankees, you said?” Joey feigned interest in the baseball game as she turned towards the television, ignoring his question. Pacey grinned as he turned back to face the screen as well.
“Now, just to show you what a gentleman I am…” Pacey raised his arm and aimed the remote. “I will actually flip around the channels for you during commercial breaks.”
“Gee, thanks.” Joey smirked. Suddenly she sat up straight. “Oh, wait. “Pretty in Pink” in on!”
“God, no.” Pacey groaned under his breath.
Joey watched the movie for a minute and then quickly turned to look at him. “Do you regret not going to our Senior Prom?”
Pacey looked at her, raising his eyebrows. “Uh, no. Not really. Why? Do you?”
“I guess not.” Joey said slowly. “I mean, Dawson and I had just broken up, so even going as friends at that point was out of the question. I’m glad he still got to go with Andie. And I was originally planning on going...Jack was going to be my date until he blew me off for Tobey.” She looked at Pacey, narrowing her eyes. “But why didn’t you go?”
“Tobey blew me off for Jack.” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned as he picked up his beer bottle.
Joey smirked and shook her head at him before turning her attention back to the television. “You and I should have just gone together.” She said quietly, almost to herself.
Pacey choked slightly on the beer he was drinking. Recovering quickly, he carefully placed the bottle back down on the couch. “Ah, we would have just shown everyone up with our skills on the dance floor. It wouldn’t have really been fair.”
Joey smiled and covered her mouth with her hand as she yawned, looking back at the television. “Dawson told me once that this is one of those movies that they actually filmed a whole different ending to. Apparently the Molly Ringwald character ends up with Duckie in the other version.”
Pacey chuckled softly, resting his head back on the couch and was quiet for a long while. “So, why didn’t it end up happening that way?” He asked finally.
Joey shrugged her shoulders, yawning again. “I don’t really know. But, after he told me that, I started thinking that I might have liked that ending better. If you really think about it, that Andrew McCarthy guy was kind of a jerk. He was more interested in himself and was ready to toss her aside at the first sign of any conflict. Duckie was the one who was truly devoted to her. He was actually the better man.” Joey’s voice drifted off as she shifted her position on the couch, curling up with a pillow.
Pacey dropped his head and then glanced over at her, watching her for a brief moment. “What, did you work like twelve shifts this week or something, Potter? You’re going to run yourself into the ground.”
“I need the money.” She replied simply as she covered another yawn.
“Why don’t you just go in Gretchen’s room and crash for the night? I don’t want to have to cart your ass in there if you fall asleep on me out here.”
Joey smirked at him and leaned forward to reach for her bag on the floor. “Actually, I think I will just go to sleep now, if you don’t mind.”
“Let me make sure she cleaned up in there before she left or you won’t be able to find the bed.” Pacey stood up at the same time as Joey did and froze as she looked up to meet his eyes, her lips only inches away from his. Their eyes slowly drifted over each other’s faces as their bodies began to lean in towards each other, almost as if there was some magnetic force at work.
Joey suddenly jumped back. “That’s okay. I’m sure it’s fine. Goodnight, Pacey. Thanks again.” She turned and hurried away.
Pacey fell forward slightly into the empty air she had just vacated, blinking his eyes as he shook his head. “Yeah. G’night.” He dropped back down on the couch, running his hand through his hair and slowly let out the breath he had been holding in.
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16