The Secret Life
Text ©2003 Roger E. Moore (email@example.com)
Daria and associated characters are ©2003 MTV Networks
Feedback (good, bad, indifferent, just want to bother me, whatever) is appreciated. Please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Synopsis: Two college students from Lawndale finally realize they were made for each other—but will anyone else realize this, too?
Author’s Notes: This was one of a number of Valentine’s Day fanfics from PPMB. It is assumed the reader is familiar with the characters from the “Daria” show, so no explanation or introductions are necessary.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Deref, who got me to thinking that there had to be something good about Tom Sloane. You have a point.
He had planned his escape for weeks, and it was time to go. He paid his mercenary roommate to take notes for him in three classes, and getting out of the fraternity fundraiser scheduled for Saturday further drained his finances, but he paid up without question. It was imperative that he leave Bromwell on time if he was to be with her for the whole weekend. It would have been easier to manage a relationship if they had gone to the same college, but that was water over the dam. They had connected at last, and powerfully so, after false starts and a distant, curious friendship. He was determined that he would not lose the one true love. She was his secret life, his secret world, and no one on earth knew of what they shared but they.
Traffic in Newtown was bad, but he got to the airport late on Thursday afternoon with a little time to spare, even with all the security checks. He had only one suitcase, as there was no need for more with a weekend visit. The flight was uneventful. He rented a car at the airport and checked into his hotel room—paying cash, no credit cards for nosy parents to trace his visit—at eight that evening. He threw his suitcase on the bed, but first he sat down by the nightstand, gathered his wits, and picked up the phone.
She answered on the third ring in a tired voice. “‘Lo.”
“Hey. Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow.”
“Heeey!” she cried, brightening immediately. “Happy Valentine’s to you, too!” He could almost see her smile, see her standing before him. “How are you doing, Tom?”
“Pretty well, given that I’m about two miles from your dorm at the moment.”
She gasped. “You’re kidding! Where are you?”
“The Hyatt again. I’m on the fifteenth floor. My room isn’t facing in your direction, though. Can’t quite see you.”
“Oh, you! I can’t believe you! Are you really here?”
“I really am. Rented a suite for the weekend. You said you were free, so I—”
She burst into laughter. “I have a class tomorrow morning at ten,” she said, “but that’s all until Tuesday.” A wave of relief rushed through him. He had feared she would not be able to get away.
“I have to leave Monday night at six. I’m free, completely.”
“What if your parents call?”
“Taken care of. My roomie has a standard series of messages to pass along. Tom’s out doing this, he’s out doing that, and so on. I’ll check for messages, but I don’t expect any. My folks don’t call much.”
He waited. She sounded like she was checking papers, maybe a calendar. Her room was probably jammed to the ceiling with books and papers. College was truly her element.
“You want me to take a cab over?” she asked when she came on again.
“How about I pick you up instead, okay? I rented a Camry for us.”
She laughed again. He had never heard her so happy. “Well, I have to get to that class tomorrow, if that’s not—”
“Hey, no problem. I’ll drive you over and cruise around town, then pick you up for the weekend. What do you say?”
“What do I say? I say, sure!”
He laughed with her. “Don’t bring any homework,” he warned. “You won’t have time to do it.”
“I just bet I won’t. Don’t worry. Give me a half hour to get ready, okay? I have to grab finish things.”
“Want me to be there about, what, eight thirty? Eight forty-five?”
“Mmmm, eight forty-five. How about picking me up at, um, that bus stop next to my dorm, on Parkway Circle?”
“Done. I’ll be there.”
She was quiet for a moment before she said, “I love you, Tom.”
“And I love you,” he said. They blew kisses over the phone and hung up.
Twenty-five minutes later, he pulled up near the bus stop on Parkway. She wasn’t there yet, but he was patient. She was sometimes late by up to fifteen minutes, but he didn’t mind. He was the most patient guy he knew. She liked that about him. He gave her space in a way no one else ever did. He had learned to do this the hard way, with someone else, but she wasn’t worth mentioning now.
Ten minutes passed before he saw her hurrying down a sidewalk with an overstuffed overnight bag in one hand. He knew her at once by her red jacket, and his heart leaped. He quickly popped open the trunk, waiting at the wheel. She did not want anyone to see him get out of the car. He understood. Not everyone would understand.
She grinned as she walked up, waving one hand. He waved back, keeping it subtle. They kept it clean and straight when in the open. She tossed her bag in the trunk as he leaned over and opened the passenger door for her. She got in moments later, and they were on their way.
“I have to kiss you,” he said, holding her hand.
“Well . . .” She sighed, giving in. “Not while you’re driving, at least.”
He pulled over into a dark parking lot by a bank that had closed hours ago. He put the car into park, put on the emergency brake, then leaned over to her. She tilted her head and closed her eyes, as his arms went around her and her arms reached for his face. When they kissed with lips parted, it seemed that nothing existed in the universe but themselves and their love. He could not believe he had known her for a year before realizing she was the only one he really loved, the only person who was on his level, the only person he could ever be proud of as his partner in life.
She whispered in French when the kiss broke: “Je t’aime.”
“Je vous adore, mon bel,” he whispered back. “Vous êtes le soleil.” He kissed her face, smelled her floral perfume, tasted her hair and skin and a salty tear on her cheek—then he reached into the back seat and brought up the dozen red roses he had bought for her. She cried out when she saw them, and she held them to her face, breathing them in.
He wondered what she would say when she saw the ring he had bought for her. He was afraid of her answer, but he would ask, because she was worth it. She was worth everything, worth every penny and more of the airline ticket to Atlanta and his hotel and the payoffs at Bromwell and the ring as well. She was worth everything it took to spirit her away from Turner University to his hotel room for the weekend—and soon, forever.
She was worth it all. He hoped their fathers, who were best friends, would see it that way, too—if not now, then later in the fullness of time.
“I love you, Jodie,” he whispered. “Happy Valentine’s Day.” She raised her face as he bent his lips to hers, and they became one.
Shipper (Tom Sloane/Jodie Landon)