jess and caroline

Blessed (TRR MC, Liam, Party!Twin, Blake)

So, this fic has been rolling around in my head for a while.  It’s long, 3000 words, but I could not make it any shorter.  It’s a fluffy, happy fic and I honestly think it’s one of my favorite things I’ve written in a while.  Enjoy!  

Summary: When Caroline decides to take a page from Leo’s book and escape her royal duties, she meets a woman who turns her whole day around…

Rating: T… one f bomb, y’all

Word Count: 3000… whoops.

Originally posted by semiconductorwave

Caroline

She looked up from the itinerary, her mouth dropping open.  “Are you serious?”

               “You heard the doctor,” Liam said as he stood in front of the mirror, adjusting his tie.  “You need to take it easy, so we had to make some adjustments to your schedule and took off some activities.”

               She let a hand drop to her stomach and gently caressed the growing bump.  Yes, her doctor had advised her to limit herself, but that didn’t mean she was an invalid!  Besides, she’d been looking forward to this trip for months, even before she’d found out that after three years of trying, they were expecting not only one, but two babies this winter.  

“But everything you’ve taken off are all the fun things,” she protested. “I’d much rather to go the Met than sit through another dinner with the ambassador.”

               Liam sighed as he turned and picked up his jacket. “Non-essential things, Caroline.  I’m sorry.”

               “Please, can’t you talk with Dr. Dresner?  I’m sure she’s willing to…” she trailed off as she realized that not only was Liam not looking at her, he hadn’t looked at her since he’d given her the adjusted itinerary ten minutes ago.  Eyes widening, she gasped.  “This was your call.  You made the changes.”

               A guilty flush crept up his neck and cheeks, but he didn’t deny it as he slipped on his jacket and adjusted the pocket square. “Yes.”

               She sat down on the bed with a huff.  Her back was killing her, but she wasn’t about to admit that now, not when she was already starting to be locked up like some fragile flower behind a glass vase.  Liam walked over to her and reached for her hand, but she turned away and folded her arms, refusing to look at him.  It was a childish act, but she couldn’t bring herself to care.  Between the jet lag, the disappointment of not being able to do what she wanted in New York, and the pregnancy hormones that were screwing with her brain, she was surprised she didn’t dissolve into a puddle of tears on the floor.

               “I’m sorry,” he sighed. “But I’m not changing my mind.  You all mean too much to me.”

               She bit her lip to keep from crying.  She knew how scared he was; her doctor had made it clear that her pregnancy was high-risk and that she would need to watch her blood pressure.  But, dammit, this wasn’t helping that at all!

               “Well I hope you have a good day,” she muttered, getting up and walking to the window.  “Not everyone is that lucky.”        

               She heard him sigh and leave the room, shutting the door softly behind him.  Satisfied he was gone, she leaned against the glass, staring out onto Central Park in all its glory.  Her heart ached as she watched people laugh and stroll the pathways below, and if she closed her eyes, she could already hear the street vendors, the honking horns, and the rustle of leaves as they blew across the grass.

               Opening her eyes, she gritted her teeth.

               “Screw it,” she muttered, going over and knocking on the adjoining door to their suite.  

               At once, a young blonde woman opened the door. “Yes, your majesty?”

               Caroline smiled sweetly, pressing a hand to her stomach. “I’ve got the most insane craving for some cronuts… do you think you could run to the bakery down the street and get me a few?”

               “Of course,” the woman said with a smile. “How many would you like?”

               “Oh, six should be enough.”

               “Six?” the woman’s eyebrows went up.

               “That includes one for you,” Caroline winked.

               The woman smiled.  “Thank you, ma’am.  I’ll be right back.”

               Satisfied, Caroline waited until she heard the adjoining room’s door close and the woman’s footsteps fade down the hallway.  She hurried as quickly as she could, grabbing her purse, cell phone, and a light jacket before going to the door and opening it, peering into the hallway.

               There was no security left, and for a moment, she almost felt guilty.  She’d been nothing but the perfect Queen ever since she’d become engaged to Liam, and she doubted it would have even crossed their minds that she’d go AWOL.  But they would from now on, and she knew she’d probably never be left alone again after this, so she’d better make today count while she could.  Besides, she knew it would only be a matter of time before they traced her phone.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want to be found; this was more about sending a message than an escape attempt.

               With a deep breath, she slipped out the hallway, down the elevator, and out into the city, alone.

Jess

               She would not cry.  Not today, and definitely not in front of Blake.  

               Gritting her teeth and tossing her dyed, cherry-red hair over her shoulder, Jess went to each of the ten small tables in their restaurant, adjusting the cutlery and making sure that the dried flower décor in the small vases weren’t too dusty.  

               Satisfied that everything was as nice as it could be, she went to the glass door and turned the sign from “CLOSED” to “OPEN.” She remembered how thrilling it had been to turn that sign over the first day, and how every day since, she’d hoped that that would be the day that their little restaurant finally made it. It had been six months of hoping, six months of barely scraping by, six months of worrying, and finally, after today, six months of heartache.  And now, she was turning it over for the last time.

               As she wiped an errant tear from her cheek, she felt Blake’s strong arms wrap around her, pulling her towards his chest.  “You okay?”

               “Fine,” she chirped, gently nuzzling her head under his chin as it began to pour down rain outside.

               “You know I can see your reflection in the door, right?” he asked, pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

               She frowned and turned, pressing her cheek to his chest.  “I’m sorry, Blake.”

               “For what?” he asked her, rubbing her back gently.

               “I’m sorry this place didn’t… I’m sorry it didn’t turn out the way we wanted.”

               “Jess,” he whispered, hugging her tightly. “There’s nothing to be sorry about. You know I always wanted a place of my own, and for six months, I had it.  It hasn’t been easy, but it’s been fun. Besides, I got to do it with you.”

               She looked up at him, smiling sadly.  He looked down at her, brushing some hair from her face as he gently caressed her cheekbones.  “There’s no one else I’d rather open and close this place with than you.”

               She went up on her tip-toes to kiss him. “You’re too good for me, Blake Yasuda.”

               “And you’re too rotten for me, Jess Yasuda.”

               She grinned against his lips and squeaked a little when hand slid from her waist down to cup her behind.  She danced away from him playfully, wagging a finger at him. “Not now.  You need to get started in back.”

               “I don’t know,” he said, looking around the empty tables. “This place looks pretty insane right now.  Think you can handle it?”

               “Go,” she ordered, pointing towards the kitchen in back.

               As he disappeared behind the doors into the kitchen, Jess sighed and looked down at their menus.  They’d gambled on the concept for their place, and even though she supposed they’d lost, it didn’t feel like that.  She knew that they’d touched some people through their food and their restaurant… she just wished it could have been more.

               She looked up as a heavily pregnant woman stopped out under the awning in front of the restaurant, holding a newspaper over her head.  It wasn’t doing her any good; she was soaked from head to toe with rainwater dripping from her brown braid and jacket.  She threw the paper down covered her face with her hands as she leaned up against the window, her head bent over in frustration as her shoulders shook with sobs.

               “Damn,” Jess muttered, pushing herself up off the small table and moving to the door.  She opened it with a jingle, peering out into the rainy weather.  

               “Are you okay?”

               The woman looked up at her, tears and rainwater streaking down her face.  “No.”

               “Come on,” Jess said, grabbing her by the hand and dragging her inside.  “Come sit down.”

               The woman didn’t protest, but continued to cry as Jess moved her to a chair near the front.  She didn’t even protest when Jess took off her jacket and hung it on the coat tree near the door where it dripped onto a mat.  It was only when Jess came over with a handful of towels that the woman sniffled and began to form words.

               “I’m so sorry about this… I was trying to find the Harmony Café.  I mean, it used to be around here.  I lived in New York for seven years, you’d think I could find my way around the city… but I’ve been gone so long and everything’s changed and then it started raining and I had no umbrella and I…”

               The woman dissolved into sobs again, hiding her face in the towel.  Frowning, Jess reached out and patted her back, rubbing slow circles between her shoulder blades.  “It’s okay…”

               After another moment, the woman cleared her throat and looked up, an embarrassed flush creeping up her cheeks.  “I’m sorry… I’m just so tired and so hormonal.”

               “This is nothing,” Jess said with a dismissive wave. “You should have seen my older sister when she was pregnant.  Her husband surprised her by flying in her favorite celebrity chef to their house in Napa for her birthday and she sobbed throughout the whole dinner before she threw it all up.”

               The woman smiled.  “I’m Caroline.”

               “Jess,” she said and stuck out her hand. “Welcome to Bless.”

               “I don’t suppose you’re open for lunch?  I’m starving.”

               “Not usually,” Jess smiled with a wink.  “But we make exceptions for sobbing, pregnant women.”

               She reached over and pulled one of their menus down.  “We’re not traditional here.  You don’t pick what you’re going to eat… you pick how you want to feel.”

               Caroline raised her eyebrows, but she took the menu anyway and looked it over.  They had six feelings listed for the day…  nostalgic, warm, surprised, hot, bubbly, grateful. After only a moment, she handed the menu back to Jess.  “Surprised.”

               Jess smiled and disappeared into the back. After a quick explanation about what was going on to Blake, she prepared the herbal tea that went with the dish and brought it out to Caroline along with two teacups.

               “Here’s the first part.  It’s an herbal tea, and very gentle on the stomach, I promise.”

               She poured it into two cups and sat down across from Caroline with a smile.  “Try it.”

               Caroline picked up the cup and inhaled deeply, smiling. She took a sip, then her eyes widened as she swallowed.  “Oh my god… it smells like flowers but it tastes like… like…”

               “Chocolate,” Jess laughed.  “Exactly.”

               “This is amazing,” Caroline sighed, taking another sip. “How do you do this?”

               “Family secret,” she laughed.  “But really, it’s my husband.  He’s amazing in the kitchen.”

               As if on cue, Blake came from the back, bearing a simple plate with a small pie.  He put it down in front of her and smiled, winking at Jess as he turned and went back into the kitchen.

               Eagerly, Caroline dug into it, chewing.  Jess watched as her face went from curious, to surprised, to elated.  “How do you get so many flavors into this?  I mean… it starts off tasting like carrots, but there’s something else there that finishes it… what is it?  Mint? I can’t…”

               “I’m glad you appreciate it,” Jess said, a waver suddenly in her voice as she watched how much Caroline enjoyed their creations.  “There’s nothing like seeing someone like what you make.”

               Caroline paused her eating, frowning.  “Jess? What’s wrong?”

               Jess shook her head, waving a hand in front of her eyes.  “It’s nothing… I’m just happy that you like it.  You’re probably going to be the last person to ever eat it.”

               “What do you mean?”

               “Today’s our last day in business.”

               “Why?” she shouted, dismayed as she looked down at her food.

               As the tears began to fall, Jess told her about starting the restaurant, all the troubles they’d had since, and how they’d finally decided to cut their losses and try a new adventure.  Before she knew it, Caroline was frowning too and then they were both crying into their tea.

               “Jess… I’m so sorry for you.”

               “It’s fine,” she forced herself to smile through the tears.  “We have each other… that’s enough.”

               Caroline glanced down at her ring.  “You’re right… there’s going to be disappointments in life. The important thing is making sure that you have someone beside your side while you go through them.”

               “Sounds about right,” Jess sighed, wiping at her eyes with a napkin.  “Look… I don’t want to pry or anything, but are you in any kind of trouble?”

               “Not yet…” Caroline sighed, finishing her food, “but give them twenty more minutes and I bet you—“

               As if on cue, two black SUVs pulled up in front of the street, screeching to a halt.  Jess watched as all eight doors flew open and men in suits jumped out, looking down the street as two of them went to the front door and opened it. She stood up, moving in front of Caroline, who picked up her cup nonchalantly and finished her tea.

               “What in the hell?” she asked, watching as a man with neatly trimmed facial hair stepped out of the car, running a hand through his dark hair as he stepped into the restaurant.

               “Forgive the intrusion,” he said with a small, formal bow before looking past her towards Caroline.  “Ma’am… we must go.”

               Caroline sighed and stood, pressing a hand to her stomach.  “If you insist.”

               “I do,” the man said as he grabbed her still dripping jacket.

               Jess stepped aside, one eyebrow going up. “Who are you, Caroline?”

“Just another satisfied customer,” Caroline smiled.  “Thank you, Jess.  For everything.  Good luck with whatever’s next.”

With a wink, Caroline walked towards the door stepped out onto the sidewalk before disappearing into the waiting car.  Jess watched as all the suits jumped back in after her and then the cars sped off, down the street and out of sight.

Caroline

In the car, Caroline looked over at Bastien with a smile.  “Took you long enough.”

The man’s cheeks bronzed in embarrassment.  “Don’t remind me.  We couldn’t trace your signal underground.”

“I’ll have to remember that for next time,” she quipped.  When he paled, she waved her hand dismissively.  “Don’t worry… there won’t be a next time.  I wanted to send a message, that was all.”

“It was received… loud and clear.  Your husband is quite eager to speak to you.”

“I bet he is,” she sighed, wondering how she’d apologize to Liam. “I’m sorry, Bastien.”

“I’m glad it’s over,” he sighed, “can you imagine what would have happened if the press found out?”

Caroline looked up, her brows furrowed.  “What did you say?”

Jess

It was just past nine when Jess and Blake got off the subway, their hands laced together as they walked up the stairs towards the street.  They hadn’t spoken much that morning, not because they were angry or sad, but because words were simply unnecessary at this point. They knew how one another was feeling, and they knew there wasn’t much they could do about it other than pack up their things and say goodbye to the dream that they’d tried to live.

He squeezed her hand as they rounded the corner, his voice low as he whispered.  “Thank you for this, Jess.”

“Thank you for everything, Blake,” she whispered back.  “You know that anything you nee—“

She stopped, staring down the street.  A long line of people, at least a hundred deep, were lined up on the sidewalk, chatting and sipping coffee as they milled about on the sidewalk.  

“What the hell is this?” she wondered as they hurried towards the door. They walked in the street, going past the line of people who only paid half attention as they checked their smartphones or read their copies of the Daily News.  It was only when they got to the front of the line that they realized everyone was lined up outside their door.

The dark-haired woman at the front of the line brightened as they reached the door.  “Are you Blake Yasuda?”

“I am,” he said, taking a step back.

“I read all about you in the paper!” she shrieked.  “Do you take reservations for dinner?”

“I’m sorry, what?” he asked.

She pointed at the story on the front page above the fold in her hands.  “This!”

Jess snatched the paper form her hands, eyes going wide as she read the headline.

LOCAL RESTRAUTERS SAFE LIFE OF EUROPEAN QUEEN

A photo of the both of them from their website was blazed across the paper, along with an official looking portrait of Caroline wearing a jeweled tiara.

“The fuck,” she muttered, reading the text.  The article described how Caroline, Queen of Cordonia had become lost in New York City the day before and had been in distress before being rescued by Blake and Jess Yasuda, who owned a small restaurant in The Village.  The article was mostly true, with some slight exaggerations that made their actions sound much more heroic than they actually were.  But most of the article was apparently an interview with the Queen herself, who talked about how amazing they both had been, how amazing their food was, and how Bless had become her favorite restaurant in New York City.

“So…. are you open?”

Jess looked at Blake, her heart in her throat and tears in her eyes.  He smiled back at her, his grin wider than she could ever have imagined.  With a deep breath, she turned, smiling at the woman in line.

“Absolutely.”