What Time Can Fix
Jocelyn let out a frustrated sigh and gave up trying to make her room seem more welcoming.
This was just getting stupid. Summer relaxation. Yeah right. Why Gabrielle would ever want to return to that God awful place was beyond her. Didn’t she realise there were fifty-thousand different places to hold a wedding besides their childhood home in Kentucky?
Jocelyn ran a hand through her chestnut, brown hair in frustration. She loved her sister, she really did, but sometimes she just couldn’t understand her. If it would have been her choice, they would have been off in some exotic location or maybe even in some time of history’s past. I mean, why come from a long line of time travelers and not use some of its perks?
Another sigh escaped her lips, as she buried her face in her hands trying to ignore the strong early July summer heat.
“Still feeling sorry for yourself, are we Jocelyn?”
She whipped her head up to see a tall young man with a messy crown of brown hair lounging against the door frame that insufferable smirk on his face like usual. Jocelyn held back a groan
“I guess some things never change,” Nicholas said mockingly from his spot in the doorway. Jocelyn just wanted to smack that smirk off his annoyingly handsome face.
Nicholas was twenty-two years old, the same age as Gabrielle, and had grown up with both her and her sister. He had always been annoying, a show off, and a know it all, and, for some reason, had taken great pleasure in pestering her every waking moment. Gabrielle had simply found it cute, and had harboured a very strong desire to see the two of them get together. The thought alone was enough to make Jocelyn want to throw up. The sadistic part of her had hoped that the heavens would rain justice upon him and give him the worst genetics possible, but instead he hadn’t even gone through an awkward puberty stage and had grown up into a very attractive young man, built like a model, with neck length brown hair that made you want to run your hands through it, and shocking sky blue eyes. It was both infuriating and deliciously ironic. Sadly, time had done nothing to improve his personality.
“What do you want Nicholas?” she muttered angrily, a scowl etching itself onto herself when his smirk widened at her words.
“Gabrielle sent me,” he stated airily, stepping into her room. “Apparently she believes you need help doing —whatever it is you are to incompetent to do.”
Jocelyn fought down the urge to curse her sister and kill her.
Why couldn’t she mind her own business? Her half-assed attempts at pushing a romance between her and Nicholas was really starting to tick her off.
“Well, as you can clearly see, I don’t need your help so leave.”
He ignored her instead choosing to focus on her hand.
“I see you have your first ring. Congratulations.”
His tone was clearly mocking, and Jocelyn felt a great need to punch him. Instead, she breathed in deeply and started to fiddle with the ring on her left middle finger. To any onlooker the ring would have just looked like a very expensive trinket. The band was made of gold, and a dime sized amethyst sat in the middle of it, being hold delicately in place. What most people wouldn’t realise was that the ring span from the days of Queen Victoria and help a secret compartment under the stone where a clasp kept locked away thousands upon thousands little grains of pure white-gold sand that allowed the user of the ring to be sent back in time. Jocelyn took off the ring, ignoring Nicholas’s heated gaze, and placed it on top of one of the nearest pillows. When she turned away from the ring, his eyes were still glued to it.
“Can you stop that,” she demanded irritably. He only raised an eyebrow at her.
She gritted her teeth.
“Stop staring at my ring.”
“I’m so sorry. It’s just I’m shocked that they already gave you a Time Traveler licence,” he said airily.
“I don’t have one,” she said painfully through her teeth, “I get one next month when I turn eighteen.”
“Oh right. I forgot you were a child.”
Nicholas went to pick up one of the dress in Jocelyn’s suitcase when she slapped his hand away, picking up the dress, and glaring at him viciously, her temper boiling very close to the surface.
“So aggressive,” he huffed out, leaning against the empty dresser, “I know that my natural allure has you all hot and bothered, but there’s no reason to be so obvious about it.”
She really wanted to wring his neck.
“Really? And here I thought it was because you are an insufferable jerk,” she shot back, folding the dress and placing it on the bed, “And what’s with all the leaning against surfaces? Are you trying to make up for everything you lack?”
“A woman after my own heart.”
She ignored his jab and reached into her suitcase to keep on folding her clothes. They both fell into an uncomfortable silence, as she tried to ignore him to the best of her abilities, and he kept in staring at her, burning holes into the side of her head.
“You realise you can’t ignore me forever right?”
Jocelyn let out an irrupted sigh and turned around to look at him.
“Look, I don’t know what you’re playing at, but just stop it already. I’m not in the mood for any of this.”
“Any of what?” he asked coming uncomfortably closer to her. Jocelyn pushed herself farther back on the bed.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” she spat, “You always do this thing where you act all frustratingly irritating, and then snark out some stupid comment and leave because you need hobbies. Well, guess what? I’m sick of dealing with you so just leave.”
“Oh, is that what you think,” he snorted, “You realise there is more to my life than you right?”
Jocelyn sprang up from the bed, the mattress creaking from the loss of weight, and stood dangerously close to him, her jaw clenched and eyes burning with rage.
“Don’t you dare try to bring this back to me Nicholas,” she hissed angrily, “Don’t try to make it seem like this is all in my head and that my so called “arrogance” is to blame for this. You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
He took a step closer.
“Oh I do, do I?”
His voice sounded dangerously quiet, and Jocelyn felt a retort die in her throat when she noticed how close they were. She could see the golden flecks in his dark green eyes, the way the vein in his neck pulsed along with his temper, and the splatter of freckles along his Roman nose. Jocelyn felt her throat turn dry.
“Yes,” she managed to say, her voice sounding raspy to her own ears.
Nicholas’s mouth quirk up slightly.
“Am I making you uncomfortable Jocelyn?”
Her heart fluttered in her chest, and Jocelyn suddenly felt extremely uncomfortable.
“Leave. You’re invading my personal space.”
He quirked an eyebrow at her.
“Really? Last time I checked you are the one that stepped closer to me first.”
Jocelyn felt something in her snap.
“You know what fine,” she shrieked, pushing him away from her with all her strength. He took a few steps back, but she wasn’t so sure if it was because of her or because he was shocked by her reaction. “Be that way. I don’t care. All I wanted was to spend one summer —just one summer— where I could relax and watch tv until I got bored, but apparently I can’t even have that.”
Nicholas bristled at her tone and glared at her.
“What are you saying this is my fault?”
“Yes this is your fault!”
He scoffed in disbelief. “I fail to see how any of this is in fact ‘my fault’.”
“You parade yourself into my room whenever you feel like it, and are constantly doing anything in your power to push my buttons.”
“That’s a lie and you know it.”
Jocelyn grabbed one of the decorative pillows off of the bed and lounged it at Nicholas.
“What on earth Jocelyn?”
She grabbed another pillow and threw it at him to far gone to care anymore.
“I hate you,” she screamed as she kept assaulting him with over-stuffed pillows, “I hope you find a hole to crawl in and die.”
“Don’t you think you’re being a bit excessive,” he shot back, as he dodged another pillow.
“You know what? I wish I could go back to the day before we arrived, so I could convince my past self to get out of this mess. That way I wouldn’t have to deal with you,” she screamed in frustration, snatching the pillow closest to the edge of the bed into her hands.
His shout made her pause mid throw to see Nicholas running towards her arm stretched out and a glint of something shinny and purple flying through the air.
Her face contorted in horror before her ring hit the hard-wood floor, the clasp of the gem shattering against it. She felt something warm and rough grasp her fore-arm, and then her world was overtaken by darkness, as she was sucked into a time vacuum.
The voice called out to her from the darkness, and Jocelyn let out a tiered groan.
“Jocelyn wake up. We have to go.”
Another groan escaped her lips and she batted away at the hand that was grabbing on to her shoulder.
“What?” she asked groggily. Why couldn’t everyone just leave her alone?
“Jocelyn, we need to leave before someone finds us. You aren’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow.”
It took her brain a few moments to catch up with her ears, but, when it did, her eyes shot open in shock. Images flashed through her mind: fighting with Nicholas, throwing pillows at him, her ring falling and shattering the clasp against the floor.
Nicholas was crouched in front of her, his eyes staring down at her with a mixture of exasperation and amusement.
“Are you caught up yet, or should I give you a few more minutes to figure things out?”
Jocelyn ignored the sarcasm in his tone, as she tried to regain her bearings.
“When are we?” she demanded, worry bubbling in the pit of her stomach, “Oh God, my dad’s going to kill me. I broke my first ring, and I don’t even have my Time Traveler’s licence yet. Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.”
She could feel the hysterics building up inside of her. How could she have been so stupid? They were never going to get back home now. They were going to die in some strange time period.
Nicholas sighed in annoyance.
“Oh stop being so dramatic. One, you only sent us one day back, so I don’t even know what you’re whining about. Second these types of things happen all the time. I doubt you are the first teenager ever to accidentally set off your ring. Now get up before someone finds us.”
He offered her his hand, but Jocelyn stubbornly ignored it. Her face was burning with embarrassment over her reaction. She came from a long line of time travelers. She should have know better than that.
“Ok,” she said dusting herself off, “Now what do we do?”
She scanned the room uncomfortably, avoiding his eyes.
“Well, know we wait.”
“What do you mean we wait?” she demanded whipping around to stare at him in disbelief, “Wait for what?”
“Do you know nothing?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at her mockingly, “Time works in a continuos circle. If you sent us back the day you arrived, this past you will do the same tomorrow. All we have to do is be there to take their places once this us travels back to this moment. It’s quite simple really.”
Jocelyn could feel her jaw hanging. “There is absolutely nothing that is simple about any of this.”
He rolled his eyes at her and walked towards the exit.
“Hey, where are you going?” she asked, trying to ignore the panic laced in her voice, as she quickly fell into steps behind him.
“Out,” he answered not even sparing her a glance, “It makes no sense to stay in here were we can be caught. Everyone’s busy inside, so if we spend the day in the grounds, no one will notice us.”
Jocelyn trailed behind him, as he led them through the suspiciously empty house and out the back door into the backyard. The warm summer air whipped at her face, and Jocelyn suddenly became very aware of the short, red dress she was wearing. If she had known she was going to be stuck in the past for one day, she probably would have picked something else. Nicholas didn’t skip a beat and continued to march towards an unknown destination.
“Nicholas where are we going?” she whisper-yelled at his back, as she trotted to reach him.
“I’m going to find something to do.”
She stared at his back in shock, until he looked over his shoulder at her with a smirk.
“What, did you think we were going to sit around for 7 hours doing nothing?”
"Do you think I want to spen the next 7 hours with you?" she snarked right back.
Nicholas's jaw ticked in annoyance.
"You realise I'm trying to be nice right?"
"You, nice? I'll believe it when I see it."
"Why do you hate me so much?" he asked through gritted teeth.
"Are you really asking me this?"
He cursed slightly under his breath and kept on walking without giving her a second glance. Jocelyn stared at his retreating form, hesitating for one second, before she followed him.
"I thought you didn't want to be around me?"
“So what are we doing?” she asked, ignoring his question.
He murmured something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like "women" before he shot her a grin over his shoulder.
“We're going horseback riding," he declared proudly, his grin only widening with his words. His eyes seemed to light up at the prospect, and Jocelyn was taken aback by how handsome he looked when he genuenly smiled.
Then his words were processed by her brain. Jocelyn stopped in her tracks gapping at him.
“Are you serious?”
“Of course I am. Now stop being such a baby.” She huffed in response, but he only shook his head with a grin and kept on walking towards what she now supposed was the stables.
The last time Jocelyn had gone horseback riding she had been ten before her family had moved to New York. She had been a pretty good ridder if she remembered correctly, but the only thing she remembered was how much her legs hurt after ridding for too long and how bad the horses smelled. That didn't seem like much fun in her book. Somehow Nicholas’s high spirits were infectious, and, even though Jocelyn was not completely onboard with the idea, a part of her started to get excited with every step they took. She they reached the entrance of the barn, Jocelyn was hit with the smell of fresh hay, and horse dung. She crinkled her nose at the smell, but followed Nicholas into the stables anyways. It was dark inside, and rang with the sounds of various horsey noises. Something warm suddenly nudged her arm, and Jocelyn jumped to a side her eyes darting around wildly until they rested on a mare that had was in the stall opposite to her.
“You ok Jocelyn?” Nicholas’s voice rang from the other side of the barn, “Or should I come over there and scold the horse for scarring you?”
“Hahaha,” she called back, taking a step closer to examine the mare.
She was a pretty thing with a glossy white coat and friendly, soulful dark eyes.
“Hello there,” she murmured to the horse reaching a hand out to stroke her main.
The mare whinnied in response nudging her hand with her head.
“Hey, I think she likes you.”
Jocelyn jumped back slightly at how close Nicholas was to her. She hadn’t even realised he was there. He reached a hand out to the mare, and Jocelyn found her breath catching in her throat at his proximity. She let out a sigh of relief when he pulled away.
“Do you want to ride her?”
Jocelyn turned to look at him, seeing him standing there with the reigns of his own horse, a black stallion, in his hand.
“Sure,” she answered with a shrug moving to grab her horses saddle.
“Do you want me to help?”
She scoffed at him and slapped his hand away from the saddle.
“I grew up here too Nicholas,” she said, “I think I know how to saddle and mount a horse.”
Soon enough she had secured the saddle on her horse, and mounted her with a surprising amount of ease. Nicholas looked impressed.
“Ok, shall we go?”
Jocelyn just shot him a grin, and set her horse to a full gallop, passing him in a whirlwind of dust as she left him behind in the stable. With the wind in her hair and the feeling of the beast moving underneath her, Jocelyn remembered why it was that she had spent so much of her childhood on horseback to begin with.
Jocelyn sat down on the makeshift bed Nicholas had managed to make out of straw and a couple old blankets with a huff. Their afternoon ride had left her much more exhausted than she had thought. She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear, as she watched Nicholas lock the door of the barn from keeping anyone from walking in and seeing them there.
It was strange, but she had actually enjoyed her afternoon with him. He hadn’t been irritating or annoying. If anything his presences had been pretty tolerable, as they rode through the fields together.
“So, we’re just going to sleep out here then?”
“Yep, unless you have any better suggestions because I’d love to hear them,” Nicholas snarked back as he lit a couple of the old fashioned lanterns his parents kept in the barn.
Jocelyn rolled her eyes and lay down on the “mattress” and tried to get comfortable. Something was digging into her spine, and no matter how much she moved, it seemed to be quite content to follow her and torture her. She left out a small growl of frustration.
“You ok, princess, or do you need some assistance?” Nicholas asked jokingly. She could practically hear the laughter he was trying to force down.
“Haha very funny,” she hissed back and turned away from him curling up into a tiny ball.
“Suit yourself,” he said, and Jocelyn was very much aware of the shift of weight on the mattress, as Nicholas climbed onto it.
She was suddenly aware that this was the closest she had been to him since they were children. If she breathed to deeply, she was almost positive that her back would brush his chest. Her breath hitched in her mouth.
“You ok?” Unlike the last time he had asked that question, he sounded truly genuine.
“Yeah I’m ok,” she said so softly she doubted he could even hear her. She felt his hand on her shoulder before he forced her to turn around and face him. His face was two inches away from hers, and his eyes seemed to glow in the moonlight. Her throat felt dry, and all discomfort she had felt before melted away to be replaced by another much different type of discomfort.
“Did you know you are a terrible liar?” A small smile was playing on his lips, and Jocelyn found herself momentarily dazed by it.
“No I didn’t.” Her voice sounded foreign to her own ears, soft and delicate, and she found her eyes being drawn to warm depths of his. They stayed like that for a moment, before Nicholas teared his eyes away from hers and cleared his throat. Jocelyn shifted uncomfortably and moved a little closer to the wall to put some space between them.
“I know, let’s play 20 questions,” Nicholas suggested with a grin. Jocelyn raised an eyebrow at him and couldn’t stop her lip from quirking upwards slightly.
“How old are you, five?” she asked teasingly, which only made his smile widen.
“Only in spirit.”
"Are you being serious right now?"
"Oh come on, Jocelyn. I know we didn't get off on the right foot. It's mainly my fault. Guilty as charge. So why don't we use this to start over? It'll be as if we never met. A refresh button if you will."
“Ok,” she said giving in, “Ask away.”
“Ok,” he said as he got into a more comfortable position, “What’s your favourite animal?”
Her lip quirked again.
“You can tell a lot about a woman by her taste in furry creatures, Miss Tabolt,” he quipped back. “So, let’s hear it.”
She rolled her eyes but answered anyways. “Coatis.”
“Really?” he said, “See I told you. You can learn a lot about a woman based on her favourite animal.”
“Oh really, then what did you learn?”
“I learned that you like small, fluffy things with big bushy tails,” he stated, making her raise her eyebrows again, “From this I can deduce that you have a secret sensitive side you don’t want anyone to see.”
“Ok then wise guy, what’s your favourite animal then?”
“That’s easy,” he answered, “Guanacos.”
“A guanaco,” she said with a laugh, “What even is that?”
“It’s kind of like a llama,” he said slowly, his brow furrowing, as he tried to describe it. “Just a bit smaller, and are normally only brown.”
She snorted softly. “Not what I expected.”
“Really?” he asked, a small smile growing on his face, “What where you expecting?”
“I don’t know. Maybe a snake or something like that?”
He laughed. His laugh was a smooth, clear baritone and so perfect it was a bit unfair.
“You wound me, Jocelyn. Why do you doubt my affinity for cute, fluffy things?”
“You don’t seem like that kind of person, honestly. Well, at least it spits.”
He laughed again and leaned slightly closer to her.
Jocelyn cleared her throat. “Ok my turn.”
She hesitated for a second, nibbling on her lower lip gently. “What’s your favourite food?”
“Ice cream cake,” he said with a laugh, “Yours?”
“Fascinating,” Nicholas said with a grin, “What’s your favourite movie?”
“Oh come on you have to answer,” he said, nudging her side gently.
She huffed in embarrassment, her cheeks turning red.
“Miss Talbot are you blushing?”
She avoided his eyes, trying to not focus on his smile.
“It’s embarrassing,” she muttered softly, duking her head to hide behind her hair.
“Oh come on. How bad can it be?”
“Fine,” she hissed, “Pride and Prejudice.”
He burst into laughter, clutching his side. She tried to scowl at him, but she couldn’t stop herself from smiling a little.
“Wait —wait I must ask: Are you expecting a Mr Darcy to come sweep you off your feet?”
“You can be so annoying when you want to you know that?” she grumbled turning around to face the wall instead of him.
“Oh come on,” he whined, “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
She ignored him, staring at the wall. Her cheeks felt as if they were burning. A stillness settled over them. She found herself wondering if he had fallen asleep. Jocelyn hesitated slightly before calling out to him.
Everything went silent for a second.
For some reason she felt relieved at the sound of his voice.
“Yes what?” he asked. She could see his brows furrow together.
“A part of me does want a Mr Darcy to come sweep me off my seat.”
He chuckled lightly, and Jocelyn was surprised to feel his body very close to hers.
“I’ll keep that in mind."
She felt the mattress shift under her slightly before everything went quiet again. Alone with her thoughts, Jocelyn came to the startling realisation that her first day back hadn't been as bad as she'd thought. Nicholas had been sweet, the countryside hadn't been that bad, and he had actually managed to get her to relax for the first time all day.
Maybe, just maybe, this summer wasn't going to be that bad.
“Goodnight Nico,” she whispered softly into the darkness, "I'm sorry. For everything"
No anwer came and slowly her eyes started to droop, as she was lulled asleep by the thick quiet that seemed to rest over the entire building. She vaguely noticed something warm curl around her waist, as if it had been from some strange dream.
"I'm sorry too."