Looking out the airplane window, Jackson watched the city drop from view. He took a deep breath, as flying always made him a little nervous, and leaned back into his chair. He closed his eyes and tried to get himself to relax. His mind drifted back to the last time he had been in Texas, 9 years ago, and how he felt like he would never love a place like he loved Rakesford. It had been his home for 18 years, and he had loved every detail about it. When he left, he thought he would go back and visit as often as he could. But he never did.
It hadn’t been easy to get adjusted in the beginning, but much to his surprise, he had fallen in love with the big city life, where he was always busy, always with something to do. He got so involved at UCLA with school and extracurricular, that it just never seemed right to go home. Plus, his parents loved to travel so they had no problem coming to visit him, and usually did about every six months. His friends and he spent weekends traveling the coast, from Santa Barbara to San Diego and during the week they were either on the lawn playing soccer or in class. He worked hard and in 4 years, he had his degree in Business Marketing. When he graduated, he was offered a position with Modern Vision, one of the top marketing and ad agencies based in Los Angeles. He was a started as a junior copywriter and worked his way up to Vice President in just 5 years. Which was the reason he was sitting on an airplane flying to Texas. Jackson’s boss had been so proud of the work that he had done in Los Angeles, that his boss asked him to open their new office in Austin, Texas. The company had already expanded to Chicago, Manhattan and Miami, so the southwest was the next place to go. He had hesitation as he had built a life for himself in LA, and didn’t know if he was ready to go back to the heat, humidity and small town lifestyle. Although Austin was a big city, similar to LA, he knew his parents would want him to live in his home town again, as it was only 20 minutes away. It would be difficult to say no, as he did miss his horse, Stone, and he could never say no to his mom. She was the toughest and sweetest woman he knew. About 6 years ago, doctors discovered ovarian cancer, but after a year of treatment, she was cleared. She fought it and survived. She had been healthy for 5 years now and the experience had made her a stronger woman, and Jackson looked up to her for her strength.
The other reason he had hesitated saying yes was because of Leslie. In his sophomore year he had met what was to become his first love. Her name was Leslie Banning and thinking about her now made his heart hurt. The instant they met, he was attracted to her, much like the rest of his friends. She was blonde, tall, bubbly and beautiful. She was also smart and funny, but had been born with a platinum spoon in her mouth, and every once in a while, it was made very apparent. They had immediately become best friends, studying, partying and enjoying life together, but never as more than friends. It took 2 years and his graduation for them to finally take that step towards a relationship. During the planning of their graduation party he finally admitted he wanted to date her. Their 5 year relationship had its ups and downs, but they fell in love and made it work. When he was offered the job to go to Texas, he had to take a long hard look at his relationship and decide if he was ready to ask her to come with him. Asking her to come with him would mean that he was ready to settle down, and as much as he loved her, he wasn’t sure if he was ready to make it forever. When he told Leslie he was struggling with his decisions, she made it easy, telling him that without a proposal, she wasn’t going. Giving him the ultimatum made his decision easy, as he was never one to be told how things were going to be. Despite the fact that it was his decision to end their relationship, it still wasn’t easy to say goodbye.

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