Alex pulled out the Pine Ridge file, figuring she would brush up on the details of the house. 8 bedrooms, 10.5 baths, with huge sliding glass doors in the master bedroom and views out to the lake. Custom built kitchen with top of the line cook top and fridge. All marble counters. The list of gorgeous amenities went on and on, but she knew that all it would take was for the Mr. and Mr. Samuels to see the house to be sold on it. They had been looking for a house above the lake for 6 months, and this one just came on the market 3 days ago. They had 2 kids, both of whom were in college, so the huge house was really just for them. They wanted a home that the kids would want to come back to, but more importantly, a home they could host all of their lavish parties in. Mrs. Samuels was known for throwing formal dinner parties almost every weekend. Alex heard the gossip from her mom, as she was usually invited.

Despite the high price tag, the houses in that area sold very quickly, as it was rare for them to come up for sale. She even had a list of people on file that she was supposed to call every time one went up. Mr. Samuels had been at the top of the list, and it only took him 2 days from when she called for him to come in for an appointment. She just wished he hadn’t ‘assumed’ Alex would be available whenever he wanted.
Alex wiggled her mouse; her computer had gone to sleep while she was out talking to Sarah. She scanned through her emails; she had about 40 junk emails, a few requests for info about homes, and a few she actually cared about. Her dad had sent her a joke, her mom had sent her some article about dating, and Val had sent her a comment on her MySpace. Her dad’s jokes tended to be funny, her mom always sent her dating advice, and the MySpace comment from Val was probably about how hung-over she was. She decided to ignore the emails and went straight to her RSS feeds. Clicking on her folder for Perez Hilton, she was excited to see what was going on in the world of gossip.

She heard a knock at her door, and looked at the clock, surprised that it had already been 10 minutes. She called out ‘come in’ and looked back at her computer screen, clicking on the next post.

“Hey Alex”, the deepness of the voice surprised her. She had expected Sarah, but when she looked up, she locked eyes with a 9 year older, but still just as handsome as ever, Jackson Taylor.

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She hopped out of her car, grabbed her purse off her seat and shut the door. She clicked the lock button on her remote and listened to the beep of her car locking. It was such a bubbly sounding lock, it always made her smile.

She reached her office back door and unlocked and opened it. It led her directly into her own office, giving her the ability to come in and work, without having to open the front door. Since her office was in the middle of downtown, if she came in the front entrance, she was often stopped by locals who wanted to chat. She liked being able to sneak in unnoticed.

She sat down and pressed the buttons to turn on her computer. While it was firing up, she noticed the red light blinking on her answering machine. She picked up the receiver and dialed in her password. The first one was from her 10:30am appointment. He wanted to change it to 10am, and was assuming that it was okay, and would see her then. She hit delete, shaking her head. Why did people always think that their schedule was the most important? Just because he wanted a 10am appointment, didn’t mean he could have it. Luckily, she didn’t have any appointments before his planned, so it was okay, but his assumption frustrated her. She looked at the clock, 9am. She heard her voicemail tell her she still had 2 more messages, but she needed to get ready for the meeting, so she hung up the phone. Just as she placed the receiver back into the cradle, she heard the lock in the front door. Her assistant was always right on time, it was really nice to not have to worry.

“You’re stubborn and can’t handle not being in charge” Alexis yelled, still in shock of what he told her.

“No I’m not! You just can’t handle change.” Jackson responded, wishing he could stop this argument.

“I can handle change, I just love Rakesford. I don’t want to leave my family and friends”, she was trying to maintain her cool, but it was getting difficult.

“Why is it so hard for you to see that it is a chance for a future?” he continued.

“With you? You can’t even tell me that you love me!”  She was flabbergasted.

“You know how much I care about you. Why are you so adamant about me saying I love you! Can’t we just move in together and see where it goes?” Jackson couldn’t believe his own words. He loves her! More than anything in the world, so why couldn’t he just tell her?

“No, if you can’t say those 3 words, I can’t say yes.” She wanted to say yes, but she had to maintain her strength.

“Well I’m not ready, so what can we do?”

“Apparently nothing. I’ve tried. And I can’t try anymore”. She was hoping that he wouldn’t go, but his next words destroyed her hopes.

“If that’s your choice, then fine”, as he turned and walked out the door. Headed to California. 

What had she done? She just wanted him to understand that she couldn’t just give up what she loved to move with him. Her life was here. She wanted to be with him, but how was she supposed to just say goodbye to everything she knows, without even hearing ‘I love you’. No, she wouldn’t do it. She was staying and if he didn’t get it, then he could do whatever he pleased. At least this was she was trying to convince herself as the tears began to fall down her cheeks. She collapsed to the floor, pressing her back against her couch, beginning to sob. She just watched the her heart walk out the door. 

Valerie and Alexis became friends their freshman year in high school when they met at an intramural soccer game. The day of their first practice it was pouring down rain, and the team was about to cancel the first practice. Valerie had been running late and as she ran up to the group, she slipped and slid through a huge mud puddle. She stood up, dripping wet and laughing. The mood switched right away, and the team immediately started playing, slipping and sliding over the soaked and muddy field. At the end of the practice, Alexis came up to Valerie and asked if she wanted to grab dinner with her and a few of the other players. Val agreed and she and Alex spent the entire night learning about each other, by the end of the night it was as if they’d know each other for ages. They spent the next 4 years as best friends, confidants, study buddies and party partners. And the end of High School, they decided to head off to University of Texas together, Alexis heading into Real Estate Law and Valerie into Restaurant Management. They stayed best friends and became roommates.  

Hey darlin’,” Scott drawled, “taking the horse out today? You ought to ask Jackson to go, he’s leaving in two days and he’ll want to say goodbye to Stone.”

His last comment was followed by a little wink. Her father knew about the crush she had on Jackson. At 6’1″, dark unruly hair, shinning blue eyes and a cowboy’s build, he was definitely the heartthrob type. Her mom and dad knew she had a romantic side under that tomboy exterior; she was just damn good at making sure others didn’t.  Being a tomboy had kept her from acting like a fool around the guys like most of her girlfriends did.

            “Yeah dad, I planned on it, thanks.”

She plopped down at the table and downed the glass of OJ in front of her.

            “Sweetie, you might want to take it easy on him racing today”

            “And why is that, mom?”

            “You know how much he hates to lose baby, and it is his last couple days in town.”

            “Well then, tell him to stop treating me like a little sister and I might give in,” Alexis chided back.

She got out of her plush bed and stepped down onto cold hardwood.

            “For it being summer and hot already, you would think the floor might be warm,” she griped to her empty room.

She walked into her closet; she had always had a shopping fetish, especially for a tomboy. She threw on a pair of jeans, cowboy boots and a lightweight fitted t-shirt. Green. It brought out the hint of it in her eyes. As she walked downstairs to join her parents for breakfast, she could hear the pounding of punk rock music coming from Brandon’s room, he was a pain, but she loved him. At only 11, she couldn’t blame her brother for being a pain; he was just at “that age” as her parents said. Katherine, her mom, and Scott Venn had been great parents, a tad protective, but with Alexis’ wild streak and her brothers age, who wouldn’t be?