“Now isn’t a good time, Jane,” Jacqueline gets out, barely glancing in Jane’s direction. She bows her head then, her hands cradling her glass of scotch.
Choosing to ignore her boss’ words, before she can fully process what she’s doing, Jane enters her office, taking care to close the door behind her. “I got that idea, yeah.”
When Jacqueline looks up again, Jane bites her lip and gives her a small smile, just on this side of anxious. She’s never seen Jacqueline lose control before and doesn’t know what to make of it - or her own response to it, for that matter. The fact that her first instinct after watching the woman fling an object across a room was to get into said room with her says something - Jane’s just not sure what.
When Jacqueline smiles back, on the other hand, it’s just on this side of… dangerous.
Jane’s breath catches again.
Not missing a beat, Jacqueline drains what’s left in her glass in three large gulps, barely wincing as the liquor burns down her throat. Jane watches, fascinated, a voice in her brain telling her that paying attention to the long column of her boss’ neck as she swallows would surely be considered better than staring at her legs - her very long, very exposed legs -, open in an "unladylike" position, beckoning Jane’s gaze.
Not that Jacqueline appears to give a flying fuck about being ladylike just now.
Jane starts to wonder if getting into this office was a good idea. She’s thinking and feeling too many things, all at once - about Patrick, about her story, about Jacqueline’s ominous words to her earlier -, she can’t make heads or tails of any of it. She feels vulnerable. As for Jacqueline—
She sets her glass down on the coffee table in front of her, and then she’s back to staring at Jane. Her legs are still wide apart.
“What’s wrong?” Jane finally asks, breaking the silence, getting the words out quickly. She knows she has a deer-in-headlights look on her face right now, but in her defense, she has reason to be nervous. She nevertheless tries to push those feelings down to see if there’s anything she can do to help.
“My speech isn’t exactly going… well,” Jacqueline points out, her gaze moving from Jane to the boxes with Scarlet material spread around the room.
Jane barely hesitates before approaching her boss, moving a couple of the boxes to sit on a chair close to Jacqueline. Jacqueline who appears to be as fascinated with Jane as Jane is with her, for some reason, watching her intently.
Their dynamic feels very different, all of a sudden. It’s all so very sudden it’s enough to give Jane whiplash. All she knows is that it feels like they’re seeing each other for the first time - and the catalyst for that change appears to have been Jacqueline’s fear for her job security, of all things.
“What has you stuck?” Jane asks as she reverses the roles in their relationship. It feels odd but also instinctively right, her urge to do what she can to help the woman bypassing any discomfort she’s feeling.
Jacqueline smirks now, no doubt finding the humor in the situation. But the barely-there smile tugging on the corner of her lips doesn’t make Jane self-conscious or embarrassed, as it might have… before (before being a mere two days ago). It just makes her stare right back into Jacqueline’s blue eyes, which are slightly glassy and unfocused due to the however many drinks she’s had this evening.
When Jacqueline is the first to break eye contact, with a slight shake of her head, Jane feels a thrill she doesn’t really understand - and isn’t sure she wants to.
“I feel… adrift,” Jacqueline admits, looking down at her feet. “There’s so much going on, so much… change. I’m trying to focus on what Scarlet represents, on what this magazine means to me, and I can’t seem to find the words…”
“Maybe that’s the problem. You’re writing from a place a fear—”
Jacqueline looks up at Jane then. “— when maybe you should be writing about your fear.”
Jane doesn’t need to elaborate. Jacqueline stares at her in that same fascinated way she did earlier when Jane had excitedly updated her on her progress with her story on Pamela Dolan. Just like before, she lets out a laugh and shakes her head. The laughter then morphs into a dazzling smile - Jane couldn’t take her eyes off of it even if she tried.
“You’re full of surprises, Jane Sloan.”
“I could say the same thing about you, Jacqueline Carlyle.”
As they look at each other, understanding hits Jane like a freight train, and a couple of those emotions she couldn’t make sense of before suddenly become clear - they become so very clear and are the last thing Jane needs in her life right now and she doesn’t know what she’s going to do about this, about any of this—
A noise near Jacqueline’s door startles the two of them, and Jane nearly jumps out of her seat. She turns her head towards the door and sees Andrew, who doesn’t wait for permission before opening the door, precariously balancing a couple of cardboard boxes on his forearms.
“That’s ok, Andrew, I won’t be needing those anymore,” Jacqueline announces, getting up from her chair, her voice upbeat. Jane is pretty much panicking but still manages to be amused by the look on Andrew’s face as he stares at his boss incredulously before turning around and going back to where he came from, mumbling something to himself.
“I should get going,” Jane says after clearing her throat, watching Jacqueline as she retrieves her laptop from the table.
Jacqueline is serious as she says, quietly, “Thank you… for your help, Jane.”
“Anytime,” Jane replies with a small smile. Before she can get lost in her eyes again, or think about all the ways in which she is so very screwed, she leaves.