Hey everybody! I’m so sorry for the lack of updates! I had chapter 5 all typed up and ready to go when my computer crashed and all my files went missing. Talk about bad luck huh? Anyway, I was completely amazed at all the responses I received for chapter 4! You guys totally rocked my world!
To Slshadowfox, I would love for you to be my beta! Unfortunately, your email was lost in the review you gave me for the last chapter. If you’re still interested, send me an email (my email should be in my profile!).
Disclaimer: It’s always the same thing every time. I don’t own anything you recognize!
Hope you all enjoy this chapter!
On Saturday night over dinner, Jake stared across the table at Syd, a faint smile playing over his lips.
“What are you smiling at?” Syd asked.
Jake seemed to come back to her, a sheepish look on his face. “I’m sorry; I was just daydreaming there for a second.”
Syd let out a quiet sigh. “Am I that boring?” She sincerely hoped she was. Maybe then he would want to end their date early and she could go home.
“Not at all, I’m just glad you were able to come out with me tonight,” Jake smiled, bringing up his napkin to dab at the corner of his mouth.
Syd forced herself to smile.
His eyes met hers. “Have I told you how lovely you look this evening?”
The pink ranger resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Earlier in the evening she had been flattered. But there was a huge difference between being flattered and being annoyed. “About a dozen times.”
“Do you want me to stop?”
“If you don’t mind.”
The evening dragged on and Syd kept glancing at the clock on the wall of the restaurant. She couldn’t wait to get back to the Academy. Even training and the thought of sweating was better than this!
The weather was still warm when they finally finished eating and left. Expecting him to offer his hand or arm, she was surprised when he did neither. Syd was relieved, but part of her wondered if he was just losing interest or holding back because he sensed that she’d been caught off guard by his kiss earlier that week. The other part of her wondered why Jake had chosen that night to tell her that he had been married once before. Wasn’t that the kind of thing you would find out on the first date?
She was trying her best to look interested as Jake kept up the conversation, she really was. Just as she was taking a bite of her spaghetti, Jake said something that caught her interest.
“I guess I should mention, that I was married once,” the businessman was saying. “To a woman named Susan.” And then he fell silent.
Though she was a little surprised, Syd said nothing. She could feel him debating whether or not to go on, but when he did, the tone in his voice was flat.
“I don’t know what went wrong. I could spend all night talking about it and trying to make sense of it, but I still wouldn’t be able to figure it out. In the end, it just didn’t work out.”
Syd inwardly shrugged, dismissing the fact that he had been married once before. Jake was probably a private person and kept things to himself until he felt like sharing. Syd could understand that, after all, Sky was exactly the same way.
Jake smiled at her and immediately she knew that he didn’t want the evening to end just yet. The pink ranger bit the corner of her lip. She could handle another hour or two right?
“Stop pouting Sky.”
Sky grunted in response. Jack raised an eyebrow and tried again. “Come on Sky, lighten up.”
“It’s not attractive,” Z added.
“Are you saying Sky isn’t attractive? Or that he is attractive, but not attractive when he’s looking like that?” Bridge asked.
The yellow ranger blinked, not having a clue of what her friend just said. She decided to say the first thing that came to her mind. “Um yeah, the second one.”
Bridge nodded, leaning back in his seat, satisfied with her response. “I thought so.”
The four rangers had decided to go out for the night. Or rather, Jack, Z and Bridge wanted to go out and had decided to drag Sky along to the local hangout and keep the blue ranger from sulking all night.
Their efforts were proved useless as Sky sat around and sulked anyway. While they had been waiting for their food and drinks, Bridge had taken the time to explain why his roommate was in such a foul mood in a few simple words. “Syd’s on a date with that rich guy,” the green ranger had announced, “Sky’s jealous.”
Both Jack and Z snickered as Sky flushed a dark red and had immediately replied, “I’m not jealous!”
And thus, began the teasing and sulking.
All week long Sky had been in a bad mood. Ever since he had seen Jake kiss the pink ranger, he had been next to impossible to deal with. He would mutter to himself about the unfairness of it all so regularly that even Commander Cruger had begun to notice something was wrong. At least one good thing had come out of the situation though, Sky blew off his anger in all of their battles during the week. Containing criminals had never gone so quickly.
But tonight had been the last straw. While Bridge, Jack and Z knew and understood why Sky was being so grumpy and negative, the three of them were also becoming annoyed with his attitude. All night long, the three of them had tried their best to engage him in their conversations, asking for his input, trying to pull him out of his misery and all they would get were glares, grunts and sarcastic comments in return. Finally, they saw that no matter what they said or did, Sky’s mood would not change. So they gave up and had decided to tease him once more.
“You know Sky,” Jack spoke as he reached for Z’s drink. The yellow ranger had gone to the bathroom moments earlier. Jack knew that the bathroom lines were huge and it would take Z awhile to get back. The red ranger had already ordered another drink to replace the one he had just taken. “I’ve said it a bunch of times this evening, but I’ll say it again. You need to lighten up.”
Sky just grunted. Things should’ve not been this way tonight. Syd was supposed to be with them. Syd was supposed to be the one sitting next to him, smiling and laughing and maybe even flirting with him a bit. And she would’ve been if it wasn’t for Jake.
He hated that guy.
Didn’t know him. Didn’t want to know him. Didn’t matter. Simply hearing his name caused him to scowl, and he’d been scowling a lot, all evening long.
“My, aren’t we in a mood this evening,” Jack commented, exchanging an amused glance with Bridge.
“You guys have been bugging me all night,” Sky muttered.
“Considering the way you’ve been acting all week, you deserve it. We had a great dinner. Bridge and I have been engaging you with our sparkling personalities all night long, and Z’s been making sure that you’re not always sitting alone at the table like some loser whose date just stood him up.”
Next to him, Sky saw that Bridge was nodding his head in agreement with everything the red ranger had just said. Sky scowled. “That’s not funny.”
Jack shrugged. “It wasn’t meant to be funny. I’m just speaking the truth. When in doubt, when you need answers, just come to me. For instance- you need to lighten up about this whole situation with Syd. You’re letting it ruin the whole night.”
“Look- I’m doing my best okay?”
“Oh,” Bridge spoke up, raising an eyebrow, “I see. Sorry. I guess I’m just imagining all the deep sighs coming from you huh?”
The blue ranger glared. “Yeah, yeah. You guys are funny. The both of you should head to the circus with your act. Believe me, I’ll be the first to pack your bags.”
Jack leaned back in his seat, grinning. “Aw, c’mon Sky. We were just having a little fun.”
“Yeah- at my expense.”
The red ranger smirked. “No need to get hostile.”
Bridge grinned taking a sip of his drink. “Besides, you’re the only one here that’s sulking. Who else can we pick on?”
Sky glared at them once more before turning away.
“Alright, alright... we’re sorry,” Jack held up his hands, “But listen- I’ll say it again. Just because Syd’s out with Jake doesn’t mean that you’ve lost your chance forever. She doesn’t even like the guy. Instead of moping around, use it as a challenge. Maybe this should inspire you to ask her out.”
“I was planning on that.”
Both Bridge and Jack sat up straight. “You were?”
“Yeah, after I saw Jake kiss her, I decided to do exactly that. You know, take charge and fight for her, that kind of thing.”
His teammates still looked incredulous. “Really?”
“Tonight was supposed to be the night I ask her out,” the blue ranger muttered.
Jack studied him. “Good,” he finally said, “it’s about time. I’m proud of you.”
Sky waited for more, but Bridge and Jack stayed silent. “What? No jokes this time?”
Bridge shrugged. “No reason to make jokes.”
“Because you guys don’t believe me?”
“No, we believe you,” Jack answered, “We kinda have too, I guess.”
The blue ranger was confused. “Why?”
Jack smirked. “Because we’ll get to see you do it.”
“Looks like your opportunity has finally arrived, my friend.”
“What do you mean?”
“The gods are with you, Sky.”
“Jack, what the hell are you talking about?”
The red ranger raised his chin, nodding in the direction of the door. “Guess who just walked in?”
Jake wrinkled his nose with disgust as he stepped into the local hangout after Sydney. The place was bustling with laughter and chatter, but the wealthy businessman took no notice to any of it.
‘Sydney,’ he thought, ‘belongs at a glamorous party or in a gorgeous gown watching a soap opera. Not at a place like this.’
“I didn’t realize this place would be so crowded!” Jake shouted over the noise. “Are you sure you want to stay?”
“Of course! I always come here. It’ll be fun, you’ll see!”
Though he flashed a quick smile of agreement, privately Jake was doubtful. This place struck him as a refuge for those who drank to escape their problems or for people who were desperate for the companionship of a stranger. Sydney didn’t belong in a place like this anymore than he did.
“So that’s him huh?” Z asked, observing Jake with interest. This was the first time she had been able to get a glimpse of the man.
Jack nodded, casually taking a sip of his drink. “That’s him.”
The yellow ranger continued to stare. “He’s really something, isn’t he?”
“I think I heard one of the C-level cadets use the word sexy,” Bridge offered.
Z raised a pointed finger at Bridge as if he had made a valid point. “Yes exactly. Sexy… Very sexy. In a handsome stranger kind of way, I mean.”
Sky crossed his arms and sank lower into his seat. Could this evening get any worse?
“My thoughts exactly,” Jack nodded in agreement with Z.
“They make an attractive couple, don’t they?” Z continued watching Jake and Syd (whom were still standing at the entrance) with interest.
“They certainly stand out in a crowd,” the red ranger responded.
“It’s like one of those People magazine articles about Hollywood’s most glamorous couples,” Bridge added.
Jack nodded. “Like they should be starring in a movie together, huh?”
The blue ranger scowled. “Knock it off guys. I get it. He’s wonderful. He’s perfect. He’s Mr. Everything.”
Sky was met with three stares, each bright with amusement.
“We’re not saying that Sky,” Bridge offered, “We’re just saying he looks like he is.”
Z gave the blue ranger a meaningful look. “There’s no reason to lose hope Sky. Looks aren’t the only thing that matters.”
Sky glared at them. “Yeah, he’s good looking, rich and has a job,” he stated sarcastically, “I’m sure no girl would want that.”
“Uh Sky? In case you forgot, you have all that too, you just don’t flaunt it like he does,” Bridge pointed out.
Both the red and yellow rangers looked interested. “You’re rich?” they asked.
Sky ignored them and scowled even more. “That’s beside the point.”
Bridge leaned toward Z. “I guess you should know that Sky’s been having a hard time dealing with all this. It’s the first time he’s ever had to deal with being jealous when it comes to girls. And judging from his expression, I don’t think we’re helping.”
“Oh really?” Z asked innocently, raising an eyebrow while smiling.
“I’d be fine if you three would stop picking on me,” the blue ranger snapped, “you’ve been at it all night.”
“But you’re such an easy target this way,” the yellow ranger laughed, “Pouting does that you know.”
Another glare was sent her way.
“Take it from a woman who knows Sky,” Z dismissed Sky’s glare with a wave of her hand, “unless you want to lose out to a guy like that, you’d better change your tune before it’s too late. If you keep acting the way you’ve been acting all night, you might as well say goodbye right now.”
Sky blinked at her honesty. “So I should act like I don’t care?”
“No Sky, act like you do care, like you want what’s best for her.”
“How do I do that?”
“Be her friend.”
“I am her friend.”
“Not right now, you’re not. If you were her friend, you’d be supportive and happy for her.”
Sky stared. “Why should I be happy that she’s with him?”
“Because,” Z responded as if the answer was obvious. “You know Syd isn’t even interested in Jake. She’s just going out with him to keep her mother from getting on her case.” The yellow ranger gave Sky a sincere smile, “Do you really think that we’d be giving you such a hard time if we didn’t believe this was all going to work out for you two in the end?”
As much as they teased him, Sky knew that his friends were right and his stern expression softened. What Z said made sense.
He supposed he could forgive them.
Scanning the crowded area, Syd craned her next trying to see if there was any place to sit. Sometimes it didn’t pay to be so short. Her face lit up as she spotted Sky and the rest of her friends sitting at the table in the corner. “Come on! I see a place to sit!” And without stopping to wait for Jake, she took off in the direction of the rangers’ table.
“Hi guys!” She greeted happily once she had reached their table.
“Hey Syd!” Jack responded as Jake walked up beside the pink ranger. “Going to join us?”
“If you guys don’t mind.”
“Why would we mind?” Bridge asked, as he stood up. Offering a hand towards Jake, the green ranger introduced himself. “Hi, I’m Bridge!”
Syd slid in and sat next to Sky as the other rangers introduced themselves to Jake.
“So Jake,” Z said, “Tell us about yourself.”
‘It could be worse,’ Sky mused as he sat at the table listening to the conversation around him. ‘At least now I sort of know what I’m up against.’
The conversation was stilted, almost and very awkward, because it was obvious that Jake felt quite uncomfortable around them. Jake had been reserved all night, he seemed kind of shy as he only responded to questions directly asked to him. His discomfort was very obvious and it was quite clear that Jack and Z’s outgoing personalities as well as Bridge’s friendliness was overwhelming.
He knew quite a bit about Jake Hemmington now, thanks to Z and Bridge’s constant questions. Jake was intelligent (and yes, good looking, but he wasn’t willing to admit it out loud), well educated and well traveled, and very financially stable. He learned that the businessman had once been married and had been very much in love with his first wife. He learned that Jake preferred fine dining, enjoyed watching theatre, and that his most favorite hobby was photography. And the way he felt about Sydney was obvious. Whenever she spoke, Jake’s eyes never left her face; he acted like a husband waking up on the first morning of his honeymoon.
Through it all, Sky kept smiling and nodding, hating Jake’s guts. The blue ranger hadn’t said much during the conversation himself, preferring to shoot glares at Jake when he wasn’t looking. When he wasn’t glaring, Sky was watching how Jake interacted with Syd. The businessman always looked at her with affection shining in his eyes, but Sky noticed that the pink ranger wasn’t returning the same look- which made the blue ranger very happy and it also gave him hope.
Jake cleared his throat and that pulled Sky out of his thoughts.
“Well, it was very nice to meet you all,” Jake said, standing up, “But we’ve got to get going. I have a meeting in the morning and I still have to get Sydney home.”
“Oh, that’s okay,” Syd quickly cut in, “you don’t have to drive me back to the Academy. I can just catch a ride with these guys.” The pink ranger gestured an arm around the table, indicating her teammates.
“Yeah, we can take her home,” Jack nodded. “After all, we all live and work at the same place.”
Jake frowned slightly. “Are you sure?” he addressed Syd, the tone in his voice hinted that he wanted to be alone with her. “I don’t mind driving you home.”
Syd smiled. She either didn’t notice, or pretended not to notice the implied meaning in his tone. “I’m sure,” she replied cheerfully, “no need for you to go out of your way.”
“But I don’t mind,” he protested.
“I’m sure you don’t, but you have a meeting in the morning and I want to hang out here a bit more with my friends, so it all works out.” There was no mistaking the stubbornness in the pink ranger’s voice.
Jake hesitated. “Okay,” he answered after a moment of silence. He began to lean down.
The pink ranger knew what was coming and turned her head slightly so Jake kissed her cheek. He pulled back and smiled slightly. “Goodnight.”
“Goodnight!” Syd called cheerfully, waving. As soon as the restaurant door closed behind him, she gave a sigh of relief. “Finally!”
In the car,
Jake sat for a moment frowning. What had happened tonight? The date had started
off well in his opinion, but had
Lost in his thoughts, Jake started the engine before pulling out of the parking lot.
“Now that wasn’t so bad was it?” Bridge asked. They were sitting around the table, waiting for Syd and Z to come back from with some food.
Sky shrugged, not wanting to answer.
“And he seemed nice enough,” Jack added, “Kind of quiet, but he was very polite.”
Sky reached for his drink. “I didn’t like him.”
“Oh, now there’s a surprise,” Bridge said, laughing.
“I don’t trust him.”
Jack smirked. “Well, since you missed your opportunity a few minutes ago, I guess we’ll have to hang around here for awhile longer.”
“You said tonight was the night you were going to ask her out, remember?”
“Shut up, Jack.”
Note: Again, I must apologize if there were any mistakes found in this chapter. I’ve been under a lot of stress lately and just writing has relaxed me. If there are any mistakes found, please tell me, and I’ll fix them right away.