Monday, October 09, 2017

Character Spotlight: Jess Lambert (Hiding Behind The Couch)


Another CV / character profile from the Hiding Behind The Couch series.

Profiles posted so far:

Hiding Behind The Couch is an ongoing series about a group of friends—‘The Circle’ (the original main characters in the series), which has expanded and changed over time to include the ‘extended circle’ (additional main characters, below the circle on the right).


Today, it’s Jess Lambert’s turn. She seemed like a good choice to follow Sean (for reasons that become apparent in the stories—see teaser excerpt later in this post).

You can find both the writing and suggested reading order for the series on this page: deb248211.blogspot.co.uk/p/hiding-behind-couch.html

Jess appears in both prequels and books 1–5. I shall say no more on’t.

Jess Lambert
Name: Jessica (Jess) Lambert
Eyes: Grey
Hair: Blonde, straight.
Complexion: Fair
Height: 5’ 9’
Weight: 10 stone
Build: average
Tattoos/Piercings: Both ears x 1
Education: LLB Law, PGDip (LPC)
Accent: Northwest English/RP.
Languages: English

Quickfire Questions:
Place of Birth: Northwest England
Siblings: One – Daisy, RIP.
Children: none.
Places lived: Northwest England.
Jobs: Solicitor - family law.
Interests: Shopping, fun evenings out.
Pets: None.
Greatest Success: Starting my own business.
Worst thing you've ever done to someone: Deceive my friends.
Biggest Trauma: Losing Daisy.
Do you have a secret: Many.
Favourite Book: Catcher in the Rye.
Favourite Food: Pizza.
Favourite Drink: White wine.
Strength: Single-minded.
Weakness: Overly Ambitious.
Best way to spend a weekend: With friends.
Closest Friends: Josh.
Love of your life: my career.


And here are some excerpts featuring Jess (and her favourite men, mostly):


Ruminations

(Setting: A pub near the university—with Josh.)

“Are you all right?” Josh asked.

“Sorry? Oh, I was just thinking about Andy.”

“Wow, you really did move on quickly.”

“Ha ha. I wasn’t thinking quite that far ahead, although I might invite him over for a visit. He bought a car with his grant.”

“What’s he going to live on for the rest of the term?”

“His mum.”

“Hm. While the rest of us are struggling and striving for our independence.”

“Oh, yeah, struggling, Joshua,” Jess sniped in jest.

“Hey, just because I’m doing OK doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate how hard it is for other students.”

“Me, you mean?”

“No, I meant Sean. His grant still hasn’t come through.”

“Blimey. So he’s got no money? I don’t mind lending him some for a couple of weeks if he needs it.”

“It’s OK. We’ve come to an arrangement already, but thank you.”

“I wasn’t offering you money,” Jess joked, nudging Josh with her elbow.

“I didn’t think you were,” Josh said, nudging her back.

“So you were thanking me on Sean’s behalf?”

“No. I was thanking you for proving that you’re still the same old Jess. Even if you did fall for a twerp.”

***

(Setting: Sean’s room in the halls of residence—with Sean.)

Sean couldn’t keep his eyes off her. She was his idea of the perfect girl―not too slim, wide hips, large breasts, her long, smooth hair cascading like water over her shoulders. She took his hand and steered him over to his bed. He resisted.

“I’m too bloody cold to stand around while you do battle with whatever it is that’s bothering you.”

He sat on the edge of the bed and she clambered in behind him, pulling the duvet tight around her and shivering for effect. She poked a foot out and ran her toes up Sean’s thigh. He turned so he could see her.

“The thing is, Jessie. We’re friends. And then there’s Josh. What if we break it?”

“We’re only having sex, Sean.”

“But is it ever only sex? Like your girl Imogen―is she not an exception to the rule?”

“Which rule?”

“I always thought women were after a relationship, and just put up with the sex.”

“We want the same as you do.”

“Oh.” Sean frowned and nodded. He was really too drunk and too aroused for a deep conversation like this, but it mattered enough to try and do the right thing, for Jess, for himself, and most importantly for Josh. Sean was pretty sure he and Jess would cope, come what may; Josh was newly stepping out in the world, childishly inexperienced in some respects, far beyond his years in others. But the one thing he had taught Sean was that sometimes straight-talking was the only way to say what needed to be said.

“All right, so what happens if we do this tonight and we can’t so much as look at each other tomorrow?”

“Then we’ll find a way to work around it, for Josh’s sake if nothing else.”

“Or if one of us changes our mind and decides we want more than sex.”

“Do you?”

“No, but―”

“Sean. Just get your clothes off and get in this bed, will you?”

***


The Harder They Fall

(Setting: Jess’s office—with Lois Simpson-Stone.)

“I’m gonna go out there and slash his damned tyres in a minute,” Jess said to no-one at all, because Lois couldn’t hear her and Eleanor had finished for the day.

Lois did, however, pick up on the fact that she had said something and paused the playback on the voice recording she was transcribing. “Is everything all right?” she asked in perfect RP.

“That alarm’s been going off since half past nine. It’s driving me nuts!”

Lois smiled. “On the plus side, the battery will be flat soon.”

“It won’t just be the battery that’s flat if I find out who owns the blasted thing,” Jess growled.

Lois giggled and stuffed the loose earphone back in her ear, the sun reflecting off the silver chain dangling from her earlobe. Jess moved closer to get a better look at the tiny, sparkly gemstones, suspended like droplets of rain from the end of the chain.

“Sorry. Was there something else?” Lois removed the earphone again.

“Lovely earrings.”

“Thanks. They were a twenty-first birthday present. Aquamarine is my birthstone—oh, that reminds me. I meant to give you this earlier.” She lifted a stack of files and retrieved a small, white envelope from underneath, handing it across. Jess read the names on the front and frowned.

“Andrew and Jessica Jeffries?”

“It’s from—”

“Your Uncle Rob. I know! It’s a very old and not funny joke. He’s getting married again, is he?”

“Not that I’m aware of.”

“Oh.” Jess had been convinced it was a wedding invitation. “I guess I’d better open it and see what’s inside.”

***

(Setting: A restaurant—with Rob Simpson-Stone.)

Their table, against the back wall and secluded by a well-placed pillar, bore a candle, a single rose in a vase and two half-empty wine glasses. Jess had been telling Rob about a recent case, where the wife was having an affair and wanted out, but her husband refused to leave the jointly owned marital home. It was a dull and only vaguely pertinent story, but she was finding it difficult to converse tonight. In contrast, Rob was laid back yet receptive, listening attentively to all she said.

“I’m sorry. I’m so boring.” Jess laughed to hide her embarrassment.

“Not at all,” he assured her and took her hand. “I’ve always found you…fascinating.”

She blushed but brashly held his gaze. “In what way?”

“Only in a good way.”

“And yet you play so hard to get?” she remarked lightly in reference to their parting in the early hours of Sunday morning, when she had invited him to stay the night. His refusal was all the more frustrating when they had remained physically close throughout the party, and he was clearly aroused by her. She licked her lips—an unconscious gesture, which only registered a split second later—and quickly picked up her wine glass.

“There’s no rush, is there?” Rob didn’t want to put any pressure on her. She needed to be genuinely receptive to his advances.

“Well, you tell me. After all, you’re the one with the potentially fatal heart condition. Was that why you went home?”

“No.” He laughed. “Although I didn’t think of that. It’s not much of a turn-on, having a hulk of a man collapse on you mid-climax.”

“I’d be prepared to take that chance,” Jess responded.

“All in good time.” He lifted her hand and kissed it, his lips lingering against her skin and sending a thrill chasing around her entire body. “You need to decide what you want most.”

“I know what I want most.”

***


In The Stars Part I

(Setting: A coffee shop—with Josh.)

Josh picked up his cappuccino and scooped out some of the foam with his finger. “Here’s an idea,” he said. He put his finger in his mouth. Jess turned and placed a knee up on the sofa, creating a barrier between them. He glanced down and then looked her in the eye again. “I’m still going to suggest it.”

She shrugged. She wasn’t going to agree to anything until she knew what it was, but she kept the eye contact.

He went on, “I’ll answer your question, truthfully, and you pay me the same courtesy. How about that?”

Jess shrugged again, this time by way of consent.

“You want to know how long my depression lasted? Nearly two years.” It was kind of the truth. She hadn’t specified which depression. “And you were a massive help to me,” Josh continued, “not that I imagine I was particularly gracious about it at the time. Mental illness makes you terribly selfish.”

“Yeah, tell me about it.” Jess rolled her eyes. She was tormenting him, making light of how difficult it had been to support him at the same time as trying to complete her own studies.

“I hugely appreciate you being there for me,” he said.

She waved her hand dismissively. “I didn’t do that much. I mean, I was only across campus, so it really was no hardship.”

“Just accept my thanks, OK?”

She smiled. “OK. Accepted.”

“Of course, Sean’s appreciation was much, much huger than mine,” he added with a smirk.

“Ah, I wondered when we’d get around to that.” She giggled and blushed a little.

Given their gregarious nature, plus the amount of time she spent in his company when Josh was depressed, it wasn’t especially surprising that Jess and Sean had, on more than one occasion, ended up sleeping together. Neither of them had mentioned it since, and Josh had also kept it to himself, because it was just one of those things that happened at uni, or so he’d been led to believe, for it had never happened to him.

“How is Sean these days?” Jess asked.

“Same as ever. Full of his own self-importance and charming the pants off all the females on campus.”

“He never married?”

“He did. And divorced. Now he’s in a very strange long-term relationship with someone he doesn’t even seem to like that much.”

“Why?”

“I think he loves her.”

***

NOTE: at least one HUGE spoiler ahead for anyone who hasn’t read The Harder They Fall, In The Stars and thereafter.

(Setting: Jess’s house—with Shaunna.)

“Hiya,” Shaunna called, dropping her bag in the living room. Jess was standing in the kitchen, a teabag dangling from her fingers.

“Hi,” she called back. Today, she was dressed—in light, non-restrictive clothes, but they were at least clothes, not a nightshirt and socks.

“How’re you feeling? You look loads better.”

“Yeah, I am, thanks. Well…”

Shaunna smiled, understanding what had been left unsaid. “You’ll have to take whatever good days you get, if you’re planning on staying with us a while.” It sounded callous, but it wasn’t intended to be. She’d nursed her mother to the end, and it was a truth she’d realised during those final few months: that the truth itself could not be denied, because the end would come, regardless, and it made the little things so much more significant, the tiniest of joys more important than ever. Together, they had sat in the garden and watched bees and butterflies for hour upon hour upon hour, hardly daring to stir, for fear of disturbing their beautiful toils. They had listened to the birds in the early morning, and to their absence at midnight, talked of everything, and nothing at all. When the darkest days arrived, they were brighter for the time they had shared together while they still could.

Jess interrupted Shaunna’s reminiscence. “What was that pain management thingy you were talking about?”

“Acupressure.”

“Like acupuncture?”

“Basically, but without needles. Josh says it’s all in your head, but they use it at the hospice, and it works for a lot of people. I’ll bring my book with me next time. It’s got all the pressure points in it—we can figure it out between us.”

“Or we could walk to your house in a little while and get it?”

Shaunna visualised the route and marked off in her mind the places they could stop so Jess could rest. “OK,” she agreed. There was the sound of movement above them.

“Andy’s up,” Jess observed. He’d been having trouble sleeping for weeks. Now it seemed he couldn’t get enough. “I’ll go and get my shoes and tell him what we’re doing. In fact, he can have my cup of tea. Ooh, I’m quite excited to be going out!”

***

(Setting: Jess’s bedroom—with Josh.)

Jess brought up on-screen the shirts she’d been looking at and showed him. “I wanted to ask you what you think of these?”

“For Andy?”

“Yeah. I’ve been trying to get an answer out of him for weeks about what he wants for his birthday, but he’s ‘still thinking about it’, so I thought I’d just buy him some clothes. I know it’s a bit crap, but I’m kind of limited in my options.”

Josh looked over the shirts and frowned. “I’m not sure they’re Andy’s style, but I don’t really take much notice.”

“Would you wear them?”

“Maybe. If they had long sleeves.”

“Like this one?” Jess clicked on a link and showed him.

“That’s really nice. How much is that?” He squinted at the price. “Do people pay that much for shirts? It’s only a square of cheesecloth with a hole in the top!”

Jess laughed. “It’s a bit more intricate than that.” She loaded a different page. “Then there’s these linen trousers.” She passed him the laptop again.

“Hmm. Andy’s not really a trousers kind of guy. Jeans in winter. Shorts in summer.”

“I thought you didn’t take any notice.”

“I’d have to be blind not to notice those legs.”

Jess gave him a questioning look.

“Yes, all right. Andy’s got a fine pair of pins. Muscular, well honed, not too hairy.” Jess grinned at him, and he blushed. “I can look, can’t I?”

“You can. I’m just surprised to hear that you do.”

“They are nice trousers, regardless.” Josh passed her laptop back. “And how many hundreds of pounds were they?”

Jess tutted. “It’s fascinating, the different styles people adopt. Do you think it reflects their personality?”

“Up to a point, I suppose.”

She nodded thoughtfully. “Like Kris, for instance, with his flamboyant printed shirts, and Dan with his perpetual white shirt and black pants, always casual yet professional.”

“So, would you describe yourself as emotionally open and outgoing?”

“It’s not entirely inaccurate.”

“OK. And what do my clothes say about me, Doctor Lambert, pop psychologist extraordinaire?”

“That you’re very guarded, with a common-sense take on life.”

“D’you know, you might be on to something here,” Josh tormented.

She ignored him and continued. “Whereas George is down-to-earth and open in most respects.”

“Down-to-earth, yes.”

“I did say ‘in most respects’. You’d never catch a glimpse of him topless in public.”

“No. Although he does sometimes wander around the house topless.” Josh let out an unconscious, contented sigh.

“Nice view, is it?”

“Oh yes. He’s kind of—perfect.” He smiled and went a bit mushy.

Jess laughed and nudged him with her knee. “Shame he hides it in baggy t-shirts, hey?”

“It’s certainly a shame for everyone else.”

***

Thanks for reading!
Deb x

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