A Different Kind of High

I came stumbling into the house around 8 p.m. from a night out with my girlfriends and almost immediately, upon looking at it, found myself caught up in my old senior Christmas dance picture. I looked so happy in that picture, there was a noticeable glow in my face, framed by thick curly hair. It’s pathetic how typical it all was. The divorce of my parents had ripped apart our family in a way that left me feeling broken. It was my fault. All of it. But senior year it all changed. My parents no longer fought and all the pain from the years past was no longer in the forefront of my mind.

Even though the conflict was finally over, I knew I couldn’t go through it again, I knew I wasn’t going to let my children follow in my footsteps. If I could, I’d spare them the pain that comes with a broken family. That was my goal. The pain of a broken heart, the pain caused by all the lies and secrets, and lack of support, all of that wasn’t going to touch my children. I didn’t want them to grow up fast and take care of themselves while I fought with their dad. I wanted that happy healthy family that looked happy and was happy. I wanted that family that was ruled by both parents and was overflowing with love.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I sat down in my grandmother’s old rocking chair holding that picture. That picture was no longer the truth. I had been lying to myself, convincing myself that I could protect my children from pain. The reality was that I had to jump into the fire before them. I would have to put up with the misery of a failing relationship, hide it, and live with it just to shelter my children. And I was willing to do that too. Darius, was gone again on another one of his “business trips”. Why did he lie to me when I knew I wasn’t the only woman in his life anymore? Maybe the embarrassment of admitting it was too much for him. His actions made me question why he’d been so willing to destroy our marriage and expose our children to the pain of a broken home. That was the burning question that kept me up at night, that was killing me. Why?

It started with subtle hints. Not calling me back, coming home late, not talking to me as much, and just not wanting to touch me, even in a simple hug. He was reluctant to go on family trips and gave lame excuses that I presented to my children, cleaning them up a bit so they were believable. But the only problem was that our eldest son Aidan, was beginning to see through the facade. His suspicions were confirmed when he found me crying one night. It changed everything, especially how he looked at me. There was anger in his eyes, almost like it was my fault this was happening. I had ruined his happy home.

I walked into the kitchen, the picture still in my hand, and made myself a cup of tea. My hands slowly ran over the cold but smooth table top as memories of our long forgotten family dinners poured into my head. They use to be full of vibrant conversation. Darius’s stories of his days as a youngster always left the children in fits of laughter. I slowly sat in my favorite chair and sipped my tea. I wiped away the tears from my face as I watched the clock secretly hoping that time would go just a little bit faster. Darius was due home soon and I really couldn’t wait for him to be back. I needed to talk to him, tell him I knew, and tell him that I was willing to live with it but that he needed to think about the well being of his children. I had to voice myself instead of just staying quiet and facing the hurt single-handedly.

Little footsteps pattered down the stairs and she rounded the corner rubbing her eye and saying barely in a whisper, “Mommy I’m thirsty…”

I smiled at my little angel, Jayla, and got up to fix her something to drink.

“Now, what would the princess like to drink this lovely evening?”

Jayla grinned at me and said cautiously, “Apple juice?” She must’ve thought I’d get on her case for drinking juice after having already brushed her teeth but I feeling generous and decided to fulfill her request.

I turned the light off in the kitchen after handing her the cup of apple juice. But before she walked up to her room she asked, with an innocent look, “Mommy, when’s daddy coming back?”

I replied kissing the top of her head tenderly “Darling, go back to bed, okay? Daddy will be home when you wake up.”

She smiled at me for reassurance before wishing me a good night and going up to her room to return to her imaginary castle and her role as the head princess.

I was just pleased to see that Jayla was convinced of my answer, and sought out no reason to question me more. I watched her disappear around the corner before making my way into the living room. I made myself comfortable on the couch, sinking deep into the cushions and covering myself with a quilt my mother had made for our 1st anniversary. Then I turned on the television. This was my only hope at speeding up time. The minutes turned into hours before my eyes finally started to droop. I could feel my breathing evening out and found it hard to concentrate on the complicated plot unfolding in front of me.

Suddenly the front door opened and footsteps came quietly creeping into the house. His briefcase was set down next to the door and he put his hat and jacket on the coat rack. Then he slowly walked over to the family room where I was coming in and out of sleep. I heard him turn the television turn off and say my name in a low whisper, “Angela…”

I stretched as I came up off the couch slowly.  Then I replied, “I’m glad you’re home…”

He smiled slightly and sat down next to me in silence.

“What’s wrong?” I asked noticing the melancholy look in his eyes.

“Oh nothing,” he started dismissively waving his hand, “I just wanted to see you before I went up to bed, I’m really quite tired.” A moment of silence passed before he added, “The drive was really long. I don’t think I want to go on a trip like that again, too many hours on the road.”

“Well then,” I got up from the couch to stand infront of him, “since you’re so tired we can talk in the morning, okay?”

His brow furrowed as he asked, ”Talk about what?”

“We’ll talk about it in the morning,” I repeated as I turned to go towards the stairs. I was also ready for bed, even if it meant sleeping beside the man that had just spend the last couple days in the arms of another woman.

He stood up and followed me as he exasperatedly said, ”Please don’t tell me you’re pregnant.”

I stopped in my tracks before turning around and folding my arms over my chest in irritation, ”And if I was, why would that be a problem?”

He sighed heavily and paused before answering, “It wouldn’t, I was just thinking that we’re almost done with Aidan and Jayla is already in 2nd grade.”

“Then don’t worry, I’m not pregnant,” I scoffed. Then I harshly whispered, “And anyway, how would I possibly be pregnant? It’s not like you’re ever home.”

“Come on Angela, you know I’ve been busy with work,” he replied frustratedly, “it’s not like I like to be away from my family.”

“Really? You’ve only been busy with work?” I said sarcastically.

He came up right behind me and grabbed my arm to turn me around. I looked into his dark eyes as he questioned, “Angela what the hell are you talking about?”

“I’m not a complete idiot,” I sneered. “I see the guilt in your eyes every time you lie to me Darius. I know.” I turned away from him to to walk up the stairs. But he grabbed my hand and pulled me back to him.

“So you’re saying that just because I haven’t been home that I’m cheating?” He narrowed his eyes in disbelief.

“Don’t deny it, Darius, because I don’t think that ‘just work’ would make you push me away.”

“Why would I do that?” He threw his hands up in defeat. “This is ridiculous.”

I glared at him before spitting back, “You tell me, Darius. Why would you? Tell me what you follow, you brains or

your balls?”

His face suddenly went red in anger and he said louder, almost in a yell, “Angela, why? Why would you do this?”

“Why would I do this?” I scoffed, “don’t you mean why would you do this?”

I stormed into our bedroom and began to undress. My night dress was draped over the dresser. As I reached for it, he grabbed me by the waist and pulled me into his chest. My bare back against him, I felt as he tightly gripped me, his voice trembling by my ear, “I’m so sorry baby. Please, listen to me.”

I pulled away from him quickly slipping the night dress over my head, “I don’t know how you expect to make this better right now Darius. I really don’t want to listen to your lame fucking excuses.”

I looked over at him and the tears in his eyes as he said, “You’re right. I wasn’t thinking, it just happened. I’m so sorry. She came on to me, and I-“

“Couldn’t say no, right? You just had to finish what you started, till… let me guess,” I sarcastically pretended like I was thinking before I continued, “till she broke up with you because she noticed your wedding ring, unless you weren’t wearing it when she hit on you. Or maybe she dumped you for someone younger and richer.”

I shook my head in disgust and walked over to the closet. I could hear him crying behind me, but all sympathy for him had flown out the window a long time ago. Shifting through the blankets, I grabbed a few before taking a pillow from the bed and handing them to him.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” I said sternly.

His mouth dropped in shock. This new me was just that, new. My need to protect was over. He could spend the night on the couch and when our children saw him in the morning and asked, he could tell him why. There was no more room for lies and secrets. We had reached the end of this journey. If we were going to find a way back from the mistakes made I was going to have to remain strong, despite my one weakness, my love for my family and my fear of a repeat of my childhood. I was going to have to do this for us.

He took the blankets and pillow from me. Then he left the room, gently closing the door behind him. I sat on the bed, let out the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding, before throwing my head in my hands and crying. 

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Accidental Death

Shout out to a old story I wrote in middle school. I decided to revise it and post it 🙂

 

Just buy you’re prescription, Jamini, nothing else, I think to myself as I pace into the CVS Pharmacy near my house. It’s fucking freezing outside and my thick black hoodie doesn’t seem to rid me of the chill. I pull my hood up over my head and jam my iced hands inside my pockets as I stroll into the store.

I’m greeted by the loud ringing of the bell, informing the rest of the store that someone has walked in. There are so many rows of random crap I have to pass before reaching the counter where my favorite Pharmacist is smiling at me.

Tammy, her name tag reads, though I doubt that’s what her birth certificate says. Her eyes are hidden behind her tiny glasses that hang on the end of her wide flat nose. She pushes up her glasses, “You back for your refill?”

I smile sweetly at her and nod, “Yes Tammy, I finished it yesterday and my mom didn’t have time to drop by earlier today.”

She takes the bottle I hand her before disappearing into the rows and rows of random pills. There are usually a few minutes I spend wondering around the store, indecisively looking at candy bars and other ridiculous snacks. But this time I’m only here for the medicine and decide to kill the temptation to buy anything else, that I’d just sit in the chair by the counter and wait patiently for my refill.

It doesn’t take long before Tammy is calling to me, “Girl!” I look up and greet her stern look. “It’s ready.”

I stand up and approach the counter, smiling at her. She looks down at the paper bag then at me. Then she says, “You remember the rules?”

“Yes,” I reach out and take the bag. “I remember.”

After a quick ring up, I walk away saying, “Thanks Tammy.”

Now to go home and curl up in my bed with a nice hot cup of Milo and a good book. That’s how ice cold Seattle days should be spent… indoors. 

I pop my headphones in and crank up the volume till my eardrums ache and I start to lose my sense of direction. A few songs later I find myself arriving home. It takes a moment for me to get the door to open before I take the bottle up to my room to put it in my bathroom cabinet. The eerie quiet of the house makes me feel strangely alone. So I continue to listen to my music as I make my way into the kitchen. The whistling of the kettle reminds me of my purpose and I pour myself some Milo. A moment later I’m on my room, cozy under my thick comforter.

My newest obsession is resting on my lap, stealing all my attention. My mind floats away into this alternate reality where I am no longer me and my life is no longer mine. Where my heart functions like a normal person’s. Where pills don’t effect me and where drama gets fantastically resolved every time.

I’m pulled out of my trance and find my Mom standing in the door way. She comes in, “There is soup on the stove. Please make sure your brother is in bed by 8 tonight. I’ll be home late.”

I sit up, throwing my legs over the side of my bed so I can get up. “Yeah, sure thing Mom.”

She comes over to me and kisses my cheek, “Thank you Jamini.”

After dinner I look over at my brother, “It’s time for bed.”

He frowns, “Can’t we have desert first please!”

“Did mommy say you could?” I ask seriously. He’s giving me a guilty look, and I know he’s trying to figure out whether or not he should lie.

But he decides against it and whispers, “No…”

I smile at him and say, “If you don’t tell her I gave it to you, then sure.”

Then I get up from the table and take our bowls to the sink. Once the dishes are clean I reach into the freezer and pull out the tub of ice cream.

“You promise not to rat me out?” I joked as he followed me into the living room.

He nearly shouts in excitement, “I promise! I won’t tell!”

We spend the next thirty minutes devouring the ice cream and watching Fuller House. After a spoonful too many and tons of laughs, it’s time for bed. I tuck him in with a goof night kiss, a song, and a story before making my escape to my room. It’s time for my medicine. So I walk into my bathroom and open up the cabinet. Then I take out a bottle, plop two pills in my mouth, and go back to bed.

The sound of my heart thumping in my chest wakes me up. It’s pumping so hard and so fast I can hear it in my ears. My throat is painfully dry, so I get up, take a few deep breaths before walking into my bathroom. There’s a loud crash of thunder outside that makes me jump slightly. I fill my glass with water and try to get it down my throat.

The pounding is getting worse, filling my head, and making me feel dizzy. What the fuck is wrong with me? I reach into my cabinet and pull out my pill bottle. My heart drops into my stomach as I grip the sink.

This is wrong. This label, this name, everything. It’s all wrong.

Suddenly my legs give way and I have to sit down on the side of the tub. Take deep breathes Jamini, you’re going to be fine. In and out, I breath, doing what the doctors have always told me to do when my heart beats like this. Anxiety only makes it worse. Freaking out will only make it worse. I breath in. I breath out. I stay calm.

Another crash of thunder rumbles through the house and I hear little feet quickly making their way down the hall. Breathe Jamini, breathe. The room is spinning. My heart isn’t relaxing, and my brother is standing there whining.

“Jamini, I’m scared!” he calls to me.

“Go get mom,” I say. It takes all my strength to speak. “You need to get mom now.”

I’m leaning over, resting my elbows on my knees as I try to keep breathing. He doesn’t move, he just stands there. “But I’m scared. It’s dark out there.”

“You need to get mom now!” I nearly shout. The blood rushing through my veins is too much for me. I can’t breath this away anymore. I can’t hold myself up anymore. The room is spinning way too much. I feel myself slip from the side of the tub onto the ground with a thump.

He jumps back, but keeps staring at me. I don’t know what else to tell him. I need my mom, now.

“Adien!” I manage to squeak out as I lay on the ground.

I can see him, and hear him, but I can’t breathe right and I can’t even tell him what’s wrong. He starts to freak out at the sight of me gasping and shaking before he runs out of my bathroom shouting, “Mom, mom, here’s something wrong with Jamini!”

I can hear her follow him back to my bathroom, where I’m twitching on the floor like a fish out of water. I’m freaking out, he’s freaking out, and she’s freaking out. I’m lying there thinking, This is it…

Screams. That’s all there is before the I fall into the spinning room. Screams.

People Change

It sometimes doesn’t feel like it’s worth it. And I only know this because of the pain I’m faced with. It’s like a hole has been punched through my chest. It’s like my heart is half missing. It’s like the world is closing in around me and any minute I might be crushed by the loneliness. There’s this painfully empty hunger burning in the pit if my gut whenever I think about him. But why? That’s my only question. Why?

Not just why I’m feeling this but why it has to be this way. Why did it all fall apart, leave me bleeding on the sidewalk? Why did he push me away? Why did he turn into an enemy, after so many good times?

There is no one in this world that can replace him. No one in this world that can fill this empty space. He was my other half. So why?

They say that the pain goes away with time, but it only seems to grow bigger. The love I felt for him was so real, so raw, it was painful. I gave him everything. I forgave his mistakes. I took the blame for all the wrong that happened between us. But it wasn’t enough and now I’m left to feel hallow.

Everything he gave me I kept. All the pictures still remain on my wall.

He liked to draw. He liked to write. He was creative like me. He inspired me to start all of this, to take the images in my head and put them on paper. He was the reason I started sharing my love of words. Every scrap of paper with sappy words, every hand drawn picture, neatly outlined and smoothly colored, remains taped up. They will never be replaced. They will forever remind me of the love I lost.

I miss him, a lot, because I wanted so badly to be his. I wanted him and I to be close all the way, throughout our lives. We were suppose to be more than this, I can feel it. Maybe it’s my fault. It can’t just be that all good things have to end. It can’t.

I just know now that I ache and no amount of time will ever heal that throbbing. No amount of comfort will erase that pain. Nothing will save me now.

I just wish we had never met.

I wish I wasn’t so blind or weak.

I wish it would all just go away.

The one good thing that came out of this is the realization that people change. That’s what happened. That why this is all my fault. I changed and he just couldn’t live with it. I changed for the better, but for him it was for the worst. Instead of learning to love in a new way, he just walked away. Now, I’m losing touch with it reality. All I can do is try to forgive and forget, but it’s not that easy, is it?

No, it’s fucking impossible.

Reunion – Part 5

  • Disclaimer: if you are uncomfortable with sexual scenes I would suggest skipping this story. It is meant for mature audiences (17+ )

 

DAY 368

I paced back and forth in anticipation. The shinny aluminum floor beneath me was scuffed from luggage, heels, and only God knows what else. Hearing people bustle around me added to the overall panicked theme of my mind. Then came the crackling of the intercom with a high pitched voice conveying random, but important messages, adding to my frustration. I glanced back up at the screen to locate the flight number. It said the flight had landed, but she wasn’t here with me. Did it really take that long to get off a plane?

As yet another crowd of people came pouring through the terminal exit I scanned for her familiar face. Yet again I was disappointed when her beautiful brown locks and big bright smile weren’t among the crowd. I paced a little more, pulling my phone out and typing: Are you still on the plane?

A couple seconds later I got a reply: Yes 😦

That explained the many minutes wasted frustratedly waiting. I looked back down at my phone and saw another message: Our gate was occupied so we’re still taxing.

I rolled my eyes and sighed in annoyance. Why was there so much damn traffic at this airport. She should have flown into one of the smaller ones.

I typed back: I might just run out onto the runway and get you out of there myself.

She replied: I can’t wait to see you too… I have a surprise for you.

Surprise? I instantly responded. It was cruel of her to tease me, given my vexed state.

I saw the little bubbles pop up, then go away, a couple times before a message appeared. Getting off now! See you in a bit!

I looked behind me at all the other people waiting on their loved ones. It made me wonder how many of them had people on the same flight as Danielle. They were all probably frustrated by the tardiness, shaking their heads and legs in impatience. At least for me, the anticipation had reached critical level and I was ready to explode any minute. All it would take was one strange look or rude shove.

I paced around a little more until I noticed another crowd was pouring out of the doors. Once again I stood right up front franticly scanning the crowd. They moved so fast, like cockroaches released from a cage, I was afraid I’d miss her and she’d end up somewhere else, swept away by the horde.

But I saw her, hair tied up in a bun and grin so wide and toothy, I couldn’t help but mirror it. Her eyes began to tear up as she rushed towards me, jumping up and wrapping herself around me. We hugged each other so tightly for what felt like forever. The feeling of her body pressed to mine, her arms wrapped around me, hit me like a tidal wave. I pulled away and kissed her over and over again. It was only then that I started to feel relief.

It had been too long since I felt her lips on mine, tasted her. I needed this so badly.

“God I missed you so much,” I said once we had recovered from the initial impact of our reunion.

“Not as much as I missed you,” she countered lacing her hand with mine.

I followed her to the baggage carousel. We stood here hand in hand as bags were dropped onto the belt slowly. She grabbed the first bag, then pointed to another one for me to grab. They were both huge and rather heavy. When she went to get another one I laughed, “How many bags do you have?”

She grinned at me, “Four?”

I felt stunned. Why would she need four bags for a month long visit. It felt a little excessive. 

“Four, really?” I asked as I put the third bag on the cart.

She found the last one and pulled it off the belt. “Yep… that’s it!”

I put the last bag on top before pushing it towards the parking garage. “I’m not even going to ask why you need four bags…”

“Good…” she teased kissing my cheek.

By the time we got all her bags into my tiny apartment we were both out of breath.

“What are in those bags baby,” I asked as I collapsed on the couch. “Please don’t tell me a dead body.”

“Very funny.” she said. Then she landed beside me, breathing heavily. “How would I have gotten that past customs?”

“I don’t know, but you’re smart.” A moment passed before I looked over at her and smiled. “I can’t believe you’re here right now.”

“Me too…” she scooted a little closer and kissed me gently. “I’ve really missed you so much.”

I gripped her hips, kissing back fiercely. This was her cue to move on top of me where she held my face tightly and kept kissing me, over and over. The passion was still there, even a year later.

“Baby,” I said against her lips. Even though I would’ve loved to just make out with her, we needed to get her settled in and possibly eat something. But she just said, “Hmmm?” and kept on kissing me.

I pulled away, “Danielle, we should-”

“I don’t want to!” she whined. “Let’s just keep doing this.” She kissed me once more before I stood up, pushing her off gently.

“I really want to, but I know if we keep kissing it’ll lead to something else and we won’t do what has to be done.”

She pouted at me briefly, before sighing in defeat when I reached my hand out to her. She took it and stood up before saying, “You just wait for tonight.”

“I can hardly wait.”

We managed to push her bags into my room before heading to the kitchen for a meal. She looked through my fridge, scowling. “What do you even eat Cory!”

Honestly I ate out almost every night, so grocery shopping hadn’t really been something I thought to do, even when she reminded me she was coming a week ago. But now that we were hungry and she wanted to make a meal together, there was no food to cook. My fridge had a pack of beer, a box of baking soda, and maybe a stick of butter.

It was truly pathetic.

“Babe,” I said wrapping my hands around her waist. “I haven’t gone grocery shopping yet.”

“More like you’ve never gone grocery shopping!” she complained as she turned to look at me. “And buying a pack of beer doesn’t count.”

I grinned at her. She looked so adorable when she was mad. Gently I leaned down and kissed her soft lips. It felt so good. Being without it for nearly six months made this feel even more fantastic than I’d anticipated.

“Don’t try to distract me,” she giggled as she pushed me away. “What are we going to do about dinner?”

“There’s this kick ass sushi place I really want to take you to tonight. We can go grocery shopping together tomorrow, okay?” I said holding onto her waist and pulling her up against me tightly. I never wanted to be separated from her again.

“I guess…” she teased kissing my cheek. She walked to the living room and grabbed her purse. “Let’s go, I’m starving.”

Dinner was awesome. The food came out quickly and was very satisfying. Throughout the meal we chatted about all the things that had happened while we were apart. Sure we talked nearly every day via text or phone calls, but it was nothing like being there together, sharing a meal. We shared a couple rolls, a bottle of sake, and some ice cream. All the while it felt a little surreal to be sitting across from her like that.

The last time I saw her was Christmas. She came home to visit her family for her winter break. She was here for a month as well, splitting her time between me, her family, and her other friends. It was hard not getting to spend every single day with her, but I realized I needed to share her, much like how I would have to share her this time too.

I dreaded that. Even when I had to share her with my family. Samara and her got along so well, it was almost as if they were sisters. She would take her out to spend time together getting their nails done, shopping, or watching a movie. She would sometimes bring her brother over too to hang out with us. She really wanted him to see that even with us dating, we wouldn’t just be wrapped up in each other. We still had priorities outside of our relationship.

So as I sat across the table from her I thought about how tomorrow would be our one year anniversary, and after that she would be off with her family on a trip for a week and a half. A day and a half wasn’t nearly enough time to make up for the six months spent apart. I knew she would be back from the trip and come stay with me for another two weeks, but I wasn’t ready to hand her off just yet.

“You said you had a surprise for me?” I asked suddenly reminded of her text.

She grinned before saying, “You’re going to just have to wait for that.”

It made me wonder what she had planned. Was it something she bought for me? Maybe it was new lingerie. Maybe it was something she wanted to tell me. I just hoped, if it was something she wanted to talk about, it would be good news.

I smiled at him from the other side of the room. Dinner had been delicious and being together after so long was proving to be really fun. We had spent the night together, catching up and joking around. It was light hearted. It was free and airy. But now there was a shift in the energy around us.

There was a carnal electricity pulsing through my body as I stared at him. He’d taken off his shirt in preparation of a shower and I was beginning to think I should join him. When he disappeared into the bathroom, I quickly stripped before following him. The bathroom was pretty steamy when I poked my head in. He was already in the shower, and I could see him, back facing me, through the foggy shower glass. I carefully walked up to the door, opened it and slipped in. Then I let my hands wrap around his firm tan body.

He looked back in surprise, but smiled once he saw my expression. The water beating down on us felt so good as his head bent down to kiss my neck. He pressed me against the wall of the shower letting his hands roam all over me. It felt so good to be up against him once more.

I wanted us to never be apart again. I wanted to stay in that warm shower, feeling him touch my body expertly forever. I wanted to taste his lips over and over again. And the way he ran his hands all over me, had me believing he wanted the same.

After a few minutes of torturous kisses and grinding, when our breathing had already begun to get labored, he turned me around. My hands pressed up against the cool shower wall and I arched my back as she roughly entered. It was passionate and fast. He pushed into me harder each time, making me moan loudly. I wanted this to never stop as I pushed back against him. One hand held onto my hip as his other reached around to grip my face. He pulled my head so our lips could crash together again.

Never had we made love so fiercely, but it was titillating and exciting. The roughness made me even more turned on. A couple moments later, his hand returned to my hips as he kept going, hard and fast. His groans and moans had me proud of how well we fit together. I’d never expected us to be here. A year ago, we were barely friends. Now we were so much more: best friends and lovers. It was perfect.

When we had gratified our initial carnal desires and emerged from the shower exhausted yet satisfied, we retreated to his bedroom. I watched him get dressed as I got dressed. I pulled on a fresh pair of panties before opening his drawer of shirts to put a clean one on.

When he saw me wearing his shirt he said with a wide grin, “You wore that same shirt the first time.”

I looked down taking in the lion design on a black canvas and smiled, “You’re right.”

Then we crawled into the bed, cuddling together. His arm held me close to him as I listened to the rhythm of his heart beating through his chest. It was soothing. I relaxed into him, feeling his lips on my wet hair. This was perfect. Tomorrow would be our one year anniversary, and I could hardly believe it. The quick pace had me thinking this would have fizzled out fast, especially since we didn’t see each other often. We’d seen each other  maybe three times after deciding to be together, including this visit. Yet it felt so familiar with him, as if I had seen him every day.

I glanced up at him to see he was already staring down at me.

“What?” I asked with a small smile. His loving gaze penetrated my soul in a way I’d never thought possible. It sent tingles up and down my spine.

He grinned as he said, “Was that your surprise? Ambushing me in the shower?”

I giggled as I leaned up to gently kiss his lips. Then I rested my head on my hand, my elbow supporting my weight. “No baby,” I said with a sly smile. “That was purely spontaneous.”

His eyes immediately lit up and he too sat up, letting his hand support his weight as he faced me. “Then what is it?”

I’d been working so hard at keeping this a secret for so long that even now I wondered if I should say it. It wasn’t set in stone, but it was what I wanted and now that it seemed possible, telling him would make sense. We’d spent so much time apart, getting use to the long distance relationship norms, that the thought of being with him all the time was a little daunting. Would he get sick of me faster?

I wanted to know how he felt. Sure, he loved me, but how would he feel if I just swooped in and crashed his bachelor pad? I didn’t want to rush anything. I didn’t want to be the one to ruin our happiness by suggesting this. But I also didn’t want to keep it to myself under the assumption that he would reject my plans. 

So I nervously bit my lip before blurting, “I’m graduating early.”

He didn’t seem disappointed as much as he looked confused. His eyebrows pulled together and his mouth got tight and small as he thought about what I said, trying to process how this could categorize as a surprise for him. I giggled at his expression as I continued, “So I’m not just staying for a month babe, I’m done with school.”

With that his eyes widened as he sat up all the way, staring at me. He looked like a mixture between a deer in headlights and an overexcited puppy.

“That’s why I had four suitcases. It’s pretty much everything from my dorm. I just have to get a couple of larger things shipped and all should be good.”

He threw his arms around me and squeezed tightly, “God Danielle, that is the best fucking news ever.”

“Well I’m hoping what I say next won’t ruin the moment,” I nervously whispered, mostly to myself. He was happy I was staying, but would he be okay if I stayed here? With him?

“The only thing you could say right now that would ruin the moment is that it’s all a joke.” Then he pulled away eyeing me suspiciously, “This isn’t a joke right. You’re really staying?”

I laughed at his worried look. It was adorable to see him freak out like this. “No, this is not a joke.”

He sighed in relief before pulling me back to him and planting a tender kiss on my lips.

“Well…” I started to say as he began to relax, laying back on his bed and pulling me down with him.

“What?” His arms wrapped around me tightly as I laid on his chest. I could hear him breathe, hear his heart beat, feel the warmth of his skin.

“I was thinking I’d stay with you,” I tentatively said. Gently I ran my fingers around his chest, savoring this moment, preparing for a disagreement. If it turned out not to be something he wanted then this would probably be our first major argument and I wasn’t sure I was ready to handle that. “At least until I can find my own place.”

“What?” he repeated. He loosened his grip and shifted to lay on his side, removing me from his embrace. That’s when panic started to rise in the back of my throat. What could I say to remedy this?

“I don’t have to say there, I just thought-” I said, but he interrupted me with a wide smile.

“Baby,” he cooed scooting closer to me. I could feel his breath on me as he stared at my nervous face. Gnawing at my lip and avoiding eye contact was all I could manage. “I want you to stay with me.”

I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Thank God! I thought I was freaking you out a bit, asking too much too soon.”

He breathed out a chuckle, “We’ve always been a fast couple, why stop now.”

I laughed a bit too, staring into his gorgeous brown eyes. This was too good to be true. Cory agreed to let me stay, he wanted me to be with him as much as I wanted to be with him. I couldn’t imagine what had me thinking that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t want you to look for your own place,” he said letting a hand caress my cheek. “I want you to move in with me, permanently.”

Now it was my turn to be surprised, “What?” I jerked back a bit, out of shock, causing him to retract his hand. He looked down at the sheet below us then back to my face.

“I love you Danielle and I want you to stay with me,” he said. Maybe he hoped repeating himself would get me to fully understand what he was saying.

“A-are you sure?” I questioned looking him in the eyes. “You don’t think you’ll get sick of me eventually?”

“Eventually?” he laughed letting his hand wrap around my waist. He pulled me up against him as he teased, “If you don’t say yes then there’s going to be consequences.”

“What kind of consequences?” I teased back, flashing him a flirty grin.

He didn’t warn me, he just dove right in, embellishing my neck with endless sensitive kisses. I squealed from the ticklish feeling of his breath touching me and his nose barely skimming the surface of my skin. It only made him hold on tighter and torture me with more enthusiasm. Even though he wasn’t actively tickling my sides, my body registered every small moment of his body and hands as an attack meant to render me powerless.

“Cory!” I cried out, pushing against his chest. My strength was nearly gone as I collapsed in a fit of giggles. “Cory! Stop!”

He obeyed, lifting his head to bewitch me with his dreamy glance, “You surrender?”

The way he looked at me with so much desire and loving kindness made me melt into the mattress. Never had I thought this could be my reality. He was who I’d dreamed for, longed for, yearned for. Somehow we found our way back to each other. We were reunited, and it was wondrous.

I leaned up gently pressing my lips to his as I pulled him down on top of me, letting all his weight rest on my body.

“I’ll take that as a yes then.”

Reunion – Part 4

  • Disclaimer: if you are uncomfortable with sexual scenes I would suggest skipping this story. It is meant for mature audiences (17+ )

DAY 4

“I know,” she said looking down. She held onto my hands tightly, studying them like she was never going to see them again. We’d decided to go for a walk since she would be going to the airport tomorrow. The rest of the day had been pretty uneventful, and Alec didn’t try to stir any shit. When I saw my parents, I instantly felt nervous. It only increased when I saw her mother. What if they weren’t okay with this?

But she was leaving and I didn’t want her to leave without talking. We’d slept in different rooms and didn’t see each other after dinner until the next morning at breakfast. Everyone was always around and it felt like, as she packed to get ready to go, we were going to have to leave this as it was… unresolved. At least for me it felt that way, maybe her response yesterday about us being best friends was resolution enough for her.

So when I saw her in the kitchen leaning against the counter alone I asked her to take a walk with me. She nodded and we left the house, announcing our plans.

We were around the block leaning against a small wall when I said, “Danielle, I really don’t want you to leave.”

She smiled at me and laced her fingers through mine. She seemed a little sad, “Me too. I feel like we were just getting close again and I don’t want it to all go to waste when we don’t see each other for another five years.” She laughed a bit as if she meant it as a joke. But I could see the pain in her eyes. She really thought we weren’t going to see each other for a long time. Was that why she was keen on keeping it friendly?

“We have gotten close again,” I agreed. I backed her against the wall and took her other hand in mine, lacing our fingers together. “Closer than we’ve ever been.”

Then I leaned down to kiss her, but she moved her face and I got her cheek instead of her lips. I felt a little frustrated and confused. Just the day before we’d had sex. Why was she avoiding my kiss?

“What’s wrong Danielle?” I asked. I leaned back and crossed my arms.

“I’m scared,” she said looking away.

I stepped a little closer pressing my hips to hers, “About what?”

She looked up at me and replied, “That if I kiss you then leave for so long you’ll move on. This was so fast… it might not even be real.”

I grabbed her hands again as I said, “This is beyond real for me. You need to believe that.” Then I rubbed her cheek with my thumb. “I know this was fast and I know we might not see each other every day, but I can’t just walk away right now.”

A moment passed as I added, “The last couple days with you have been so amazing.”

“I know,” she said looking down. She held onto my hands tightly, studying them like she was never going to see them again. “But I’m in Oregon and you’re here in California. I only come during holidays to visit my family and even then it’s for such a short amount of time. We have to think about the distance.”

“I don’t care about the distance,” I said matter of factly. “It will be an excuse to visit you more, not an excuse for not being together.”

She smiled at me, “I never knew you were so sappy, Cory.”

“There’s a lot you don’t know about me,” I grinned back at her. Then I leaned down planting a tender kiss on her lips. This time she kissed back pushing against me eagerly. I chuckled as I pulled away.

“So that’s it?” I said with a bright grin. “You’re saying yes to this… to us?”

She nodded, bitting her lip slightly.

“I need to hear it Danielle,” I said softly resting my forehead against her’s.

She smiled as she said, “Yes… let’s do this.”

When we walked back through the door, it felt like everyone was staring at us, except for Ethan, who was busy playing on his iPad. Our hands were still tightly intertwined, but she quickly let go once she realized who was in the living room. Her mom, my parents, and our siblings were in the living room watching a movie.

“Come join us, loves,” my mom called waving us over. “We just started.”

My father grinned and I looked back at Danielle who was blushing so hard I sort of wanted to laugh. We’d forgotten to talk about how or when we were going to tell our parents about our decision. After she agreed to us being together, we’d spent a couple minutes making out by that wall. It wasn’t until we heard a person walking by with their dog that we realized we’d been out for longer than anticipated. At that point, nothing seemed to matter anymore. I gripped her hand tightly and we walked happily back to my house.

We sat on the couch next to my parents, and immediately I put my arm around her shoulder and she cuddled into me, pulling her legs up on the couch. It felt so great to feel her head in the crook of my shoulder. It also felt a little weird to be sitting here like this with our families. My heart was pounding from a combination of nerves and happiness.

“Looks like you two had a good walk,” my dad said with a slight smile.

I glanced over at him and cleared my throat, “Yeah, we did. It’s pretty nice out.”

Her mom exchanged glances with my parents, and for a moment I felt like a delinquent teenager, sitting there with my brand new girlfriend. It was crazy to think it… Danielle was my girlfriend. I was her boyfriend. And just four days ago we’d barely been acquaintances. How could this be my life?

The movie we were watching was some kid’s flick, probably to satisfy the youngest member in the room, who wasn’t even watching. But that was okay, because the movie ended up being pretty good and I started to feel more relaxed with Danielle in my arms. I looked down at her halfway through and she glanced back at me with a smile as she whispered, “You okay?”

“I’m just too happy right now,” I whispered back. Then I squeezed her slightly closer before returning to the film. What is it about new beginnings that are so exciting?

A moment later I said, “You want anything?” I got up before adding, “I’m going to the kitchen.”

She shook her head, but my dad said, “Yeah, I’d like a glass of water please.”

I rolled my eyes and he laughed as I walked off.

In the kitchen I poured him a glass before grabbing myself a beer. As I popped the cap off the bottle my mom strolled in. She eyed me slightly, making me cringe. I knew she was dying to say something, so I just blurted, “What is it Mom?”

“Is there something going on between you and Danielle?” she asked leaning against the counter. She grabbed the beer out of my hands and took a sip of it before making a face. I sighed.

“Yes…” I took the beer back from her to take a drink. It felt good going down my throat. Cool and crisp.

“And?” she asked looking at me sternly. “What does yes mean?”

“It means we’re… dating,” I said looking at her seriously. A moment passed as she stared at me. Then a smile broke out on her face, so bright and wide I thought I might be blinded by it.

“Yes!” she shouted. “I knew it!”

I rolled my eyes, but was smiling too. Her satisfaction only made this even better.

“You’re dad is going to flip,” she sang excitedly. She hugged me tightly before calling to my dad, “Cedric come here!”

I could hear him groan as he got up from the couch. When he reached the kitchen my mom said, “Cory and Danielle are dating!”

He crossed his arms firmly and stared down at me seriously. “Really?”

“Yeah, that’s what we were talking about on our walk.” I said awkwardly rubbing the back of my neck. I wondered if they were now going to go into the living room and tell everyone about this. I really hoped not. Danielle would break up with me for sure, if only out of pure embarrassment.

A grin covered his face too as he embraced me, “I’m happy to hear that son.”

Once my parents were done staring and smiling at me, they left me in the kitchen. I breathed out a sigh of relief. That part was over and I could take a moment to recoup before going back out there. It was no longer a secrete between the two of us, now that my parents were in the loop. All we needed to do was tell our siblings and Danielle’s mom. Hopefully they’d be just as ecstatic.

I came out of the kitchen and handed my dad his glass of water before taking my place next to Danielle again. I offered her the beer, but she declined. So I relaxed back into the couch.

Samara was beside Ethan watching him play. They were taking turns on various apps and Ethan tried to teach her a couple of games he really liked. Having grown up with two older brothers she was more than happy to comply with his action packed choices.

When the movie ended Ethan said, “Let’s go upstairs and play on the Xbox!”

Sadie warned, “Don’t forget to share…” Her son looked back at her with an angelic smile and responded, “I know!”

We all chuckled a bit as he, Samara, and Alec began to scale the stairs. When Ethan realized Danielle and I were still planted on the couch he frowned.

“You two, too!” he stated pointing at us.

Danielle laughed, “Okay! Okay!” She stood up to follow the rest of them.

When I stood up I said, “I’ll be up in a sec, I’m just going to throw this away.” She smiled back at me and nodded before disappearing upstairs.

As I retreated to the kitchen to throw the bottle I heard my mom spill the beans to her mom and I slightly wanted to melt into the ground just then. What if Sadie wasn’t okay with this? What if she got angry or felt it was too soon? After all, this was the first time in five years we were seeing each other, and we’d only been around each other for four days. Danielle was right, this was moving really fast. We went from acquaintances to way more than friends in less than three days.

“I knew this was bound to happen.” My mom said softly. “I’d always hoped it would.”

My dad chuckled, “I even warned her when we first saw them at the hotel. I could tell that Cory liked her. I just didn’t think she’d like him back.”

Sadie laughed a little, “Well they’ve been friends forever, so it makes sense.”

I cringed thinking about that. We’d been friends forever… not really… It was true we’d been really close in the past. But when Danielle moved away we lost touch and hadn’t really been friends for the past seven or eight years. It made me feel a little guilty. Was I suddenly so interested now that she looked different? A wave of shame hit me as I thought about it. She was more attractive to me now, but I was also really attracted to her as a person anyway.

I’d liked her in grade school but was just too shy to tell her. I’d moved on with plenty of other girls, but seeing her again reawakened that desire to be with someone I knew I could trust. She was that someone I could trust. She was funny, smart, and beautiful. She was my best friend.

“They looked so cute cuddling on the couch,” my mom cooed. Hearing her made my cheeks heat up. I bet even if she knew I was listening she would have still said that.

“I just hope it works out for them…” Sadie said with a hint of melancholy. “She’s just so afraid of relationships, I sort of think it’s because of me and her father. She’s afraid she’ll end up like us.”

I’d never thought about that, never even realized that would be a reason for her hesitation. Her parents were divorced and were on bad terms throughout her life. She and her brother had gone through so much, she was probably afraid of a repeat.

I walked out of the kitchen, holding a bowl of chips, before bounding up the stairs as if I hadn’t just spent the last two minutes listening to their conversation. I needed to be with my girlfriend, hopefully reassuring her this was the right choice. We could make this work.

I laid next to her on my bed staring at her. She had her hands under her cheek and her head resting on the pillow. Her light brown eyes were fascinating, with hints of green and gold in them. I wanted to study her face forever. How was it possible for me to feel so crazy about her in such a short about of time?

“Your family is awesome,” she said reaching for my hand. When she grabbed it, she intertwined our fingers and brought the mass of hands to her lips.

“So is yours,” I said back with a smile.

She closed her eyes and kissed my hand, “They love each other so much, it’s crazy.”

“Your family loves you too,” I replied. I removed my hand from her grip and pushed her soft dark brown hair behind her ear.

“It’s different…”

I scooted a little closer and held her tight, “I know why you’re so nervous about this… and it’s okay Danielle. I would be nervous if I went through what you went through.”

“You’re parents are like the perfect couple… what if I can’t give you that?” she said looking down. I could tell she was feeling insecure right then about her history, about herself.

“They are far from perfect. Just like every couple they’ve had their problems… trust me. And we are not our parents… Anyway, it’s way to early to be stressing about that,” I said before kissing her lovingly on the nose.

She giggled and pulled away sightly. I smiled at her saying, “There’s that gorgeous smile I love so much.”

The door bursted open and I sat up to see who it was. In walked Ethan, all cheery, “Mom says to come downstairs, dinner is ready.”

She smiled at him, “Okay munchkin, we’ll be down in a minute.”

He stared at us suspiciously for a moment before saying, “I don’t think Alec was joking…”

She looked confused for a moment before smiling, “Alec was right… Cory and I like each other very much.”

Ethan made a face of disgust, “Oh…” Then he walked up to me and frowned, “Are you going to hang out with her more now?”

I laughed a bit as I ruffled his hair, “No man! We’re still best buds, I swear.”

“Okay…” he glared at us for a moment before retreating out of the room. We sat there for a moment silent before trading glances and laughing loudly. This was going to be fun.

“I don’t think he likes the idea of us…” I said once we’d both relaxed a bit.

She kissed me tenderly, “He’s just going to have to get use to it.”

Reunion – Part 3

  • Disclaimer: if you are uncomfortable with sexual scenes I would suggest skipping this story. It is meant for mature audiences (17+ )

 

DAY 3

Her warmth up against me made my eyes flutter open. I’d nearly forgotten we’d slept together the night before, but seeing her laying there wearing my shirt made me feel good. Never in a million years had I thought we would be here. We’d walked away from each other five years ago and never looked back. So the fact that she was laying with her body snuggled against mine was mind blowing.

The curve of her face was even more endearing while asleep. She seemed so peaceful and part of me hoped she was dreaming about me, about what I’d made her feel. I rolled over so her back was pressed against my chest. Then I let my hand gently drape over her waist. My face pressed into her neck, breathing her in and smiling to myself. She still smelt like us.

The moment I’d laid eyes on her I almost didn’t recognize her. To say the very least, I was nervous to see if her changed appearance would have changed her behavior. She’d never been the type to be stuck up or full of herself, though she’d always been pretty shy. Would she still be that way? I knew it was shallow of me, but I just couldn’t help but stare. She was beautiful. She’d grown up so much. She seemed more mature.

The way we’d been able to fall back into a pretty seamless friendship was crazy. And every moment spent in conversation, with a bit of friendly flirting, just strengthened an attraction that was undeniable. I wanted her to see how much I liked her, but I also didn’t want to jump the gun. What if she didn’t feel that way about me? Just because she let me hold her hand or put my arm around her could’ve just been because that’s how we always were, before we lost touch. Then, when she gave me the extra key and bolted I realized she felt how I felt.

When I finally was able to sneak into the room, she was in the shower. I wanted her to hurry up so we could spend time together, especially since it was already so late. It was past one forty-five by the time I heard the water shut off. Instantly I was eager to see her, to talk about what this was between us. Did we really want to go past that friendship line?

But that question was answered for me when she walked out in just a towel, hair dripping wet. Yes, I wanted to go past that line… way past it

My hand crept a little lower, slipping between her warm legs. I felt her stir slightly as a little sigh escaped her mouth. Thinking about her the night before had me wanting to have a recap. The taste of her skin was burned into my brain. The way her eyes closed tightly as I tortured her, how her hips moved against mine perfectly, replayed in my mind. I wanted a refresher.

Slowly she rolled onto her back her eyes slightly opening. I moved myself over her, letting my lips taste her neck again. Then I went down under the sheets. I heard her moan and I knew this was right. Each kiss and touch invoked more noise from her until I knew for a fact she was fully awake. Her legs quivered around me, snapping shut on my head.

“Cory!” she said suddenly concerned. “Are you okay?” Her hands reached for me and tugged to get me to come back up. She hadn’t finished, but her fear of hurting me outweighed that for some reason.

I grinned at her, “I’m good Danielle.” Then I kissed her passionately. She moaned against my lips making me smile again.

“Seeing you in my shirt really turns me on,” I said once we broke our kiss. I wanted her to know how badly I wanted her, though I’m sure my manhood pressing against her leg was indication enough.

“I see,” she giggled before giving me a gentle peck. “Roll us over.”

I complied, wondering what she was thinking. Once she was settled on top of me she smiled down, leaning gently against my chest to kiss me again. “I had fun last night,” she sang as her lips slid down my neck. My senses were on overdrive feeling her moisture against me. I wanted to be inside her again, so badly.

“Me too,” I said, trying not to sound too breathless. She giggled slightly before grabbing me with her hand. I exclaimed in surprise, groaning out loudly as she gently sat down on me. Slowly I felt us connecting. This was almost too much for me. My mind went blank, purely feeling her tightness and pressure surrounding me. Though I wanted so badly to press into her more, I remained mostly still, letting her control the moment. She let herself drop completely before leaning over me and kissing my lips again.

Maybe her goal was to torture me back. She kept it excruciatingly slow, even as my hands gripped her hips tightly. I wanted to press her down harder and faster manually, but she wasn’t having it. She smiled at me, giggled even when she saw the pained look in my eye. 

“Danielle,” I barely whispered. My breathing was so heavy I could hardly talk. “You’re fucking amazing…”

She leaned down again, letting her mouth get right by my ear as she said, “I know.” Then she nibbled at my lobe before attacking my neck again. Moments later she picked up the pace, letting out quiet moans and letting her head drop back as she rolled her hips against me. It wasn’t long before I was shuttering against her from feeling her contract around me. Then when I was done, she collapsed on my chest breathing heavily.

Both of us were out of breath, but it felt good to have her lay on my chest, nonetheless. I pushed some hair out of her face to kiss her forehead. Just then the phone rang by the bed.

I reached over to take it, “Hello?” I was trying so hard to control the volume of my breath, but I wasn’t sure if constricting myself was even helping in the overall tone of my voice.

“It’s like nearly noon-” Alivia’s voice shouted through the phone. “Wait, is this Cory?”

Instantly I blushed. What would she think about us being in the same room? Would she know?

“Uh…” I looked down at Danielle, who was smiling up at me. “Yeah?”

“Get your lazy asses up please! Sammy and Ethan are bugging us to go,” she barked. I guess the fact it was me on the line didn’t really matter to her too much.

“We’ve been up for a while,” I replied, smiling back at Danielle. “…waiting for you to call.”

I could almost feel Alivia roll her eyes through the phone as she said, “Just be ready in twenty minutes.”

When I replaced the receiver Danielle asked, “My cousin?”

“She said to be ready in twenty, so we better get up,” I said wrapping my arms around her tightly.

She giggled pressing a hand against my chest to push herself away. “Well holding me tighter is going to make it a little hard to get up and get ready.”

“I know,” I stated letting my lips graze her neck. “I just don’t want this moment to be over yet.”

She turned her head and kissed me gently. “Me too.”

But she pulled away and got up. As she walked towards the bathroom I called, “I’m going to need that shirt back, you know.”

She just stuck her tongue out at me before disappearing into the bathroom. I heard the toilet flush, the water turn on, and couple minutes later she emerged fresh faced and hair fixed, but still in my shirt. She walked over to her bag and pulled out some clothes. Then she looked over at me, “Cory, you need to get out of bed.”

“Well I need my shirt back,” I teased sitting on the edge of the bed. She frowned before pulling the shirt over her head and throwing it at me. I was blinded for a moment since the shirt landed in my face. Once I got it off and could see her standing there pulling fresh underwear up over her hips, I couldn’t stop staring. She was so fucking sexy.

“You have you’re shirt back now,” she teased as she faced away from me to get her bra on. I watched her fumble with the hooks for a moment before I walked up and took it from her hands.

“Let me help you,” I said hooking it for her. When she turned around and looked into my eyes I could feel the electricity bouncing between us.

She looked away to put a shirt on, “Thanks.”

That’s when I retreated into the bathroom to get refreshed. The look in her eye when I’d helped her with her bra was a mixture of appreciation and nervousness. It made me wonder if the escalation from friends to… I’m not even sure, was too much for her. Was she really okay with everything that had happened? Did she want more? I did, I wanted more. I wanted to claim her and tell the world. After all, what’s better than being with your best friend?

When I came out I said, “I think we need to talk.”

She had everything all packed up and ready to go. All I needed was to put my pants back on, which she had neatly draped over the bed. So I quickly pulled them on before looking towards her reddened face. She was bitting on a nail, staring at me intently.

“What?” I asked as I walked up to her. “Is everything okay?”

“I don’t want you to say it,” she sighed looking down.

“Say what?” Suddenly I was feeling nervous. Was she regretting this? Did she not want ‘us’ to be anything? Why was her face a mixture of sadness and anxiety?

She looked up at me briefly before saying, “That we shouldn’t have done what we did.”

I smiled slightly before pulling her against my chest. She was afraid of the same things I was afraid of. That was a good sign. However, that still didn’t mean she wanted us to be official.

“I would never say that,” I said kissing the top her head. “I just wanted to talk about what this means for us.” I pulled away so I could see her face. “I want to know what you want.”

She bit her lip and looked down. But before she could respond a loud rapid knock came at the door and she turned around to open it. There stood the rest of our group waiting on us. Alivia smiled and said, “You two ready?”

Danielle shook her head, “Let’s go.”

She walked ahead of me with Samara and Alivia. So I hung back with the other boys. Alec and Ethan seemed to be in a conversation, but I was so preoccupied with last night and this morning that I couldn’t focus on them. Then I felt Ethan pull on my shirt as he called to me, “Cory…”

I looked down at his puzzled face as he said, “Why weren’t you in our room this morning?”

I looked over at Alec, whose face was smug. I guess Ethan had asked him and Alec told him to ask me. What could I say? Danielle and I hadn’t talked about what we were going to tell people, about whether or not we were even a thing. Would she be pissed if I told her younger brother that we spent the night together?

I shot Alec a death glare before smiling down at Ethan, “I slept in another room last night so you and Alec wouldn’t have to share a bed.”

Ethan looked pretty stratified as he nodded, “Oh.” Then he took my hand before looking forward at the other girls.

“My sister never wants to talk to me when Alivia is here,” he grumbled looking at both Alec and me.

“Well you’ve got us,” Alec said with a grin. The way Alec was able to treat Ethan like just another kid in our family was awesome. He’d always been good with kids and I was definitely thankful he’d embraced the role of big brother to Ethan this past weekend. It gave me a chance to catch up with Danielle. Otherwise I would’ve had to play big brother to them both, and maybe the previous night wouldn’t have happened.

“She probably just doesn’t get to see her cousin much and so wants to catch up when they’re together,” I said to Ethan as I roughed up his hair a bit. “But like Alec said, wouldn’t you rather hang with us anyway? After all, boy’s are awesome.”

Ethan grinned widely, “Yeah… I like you guys.”

“We like you too bud,” Alec said. Then they got sidetracked into another conversation that I tuned out. My mind was once again back on the gorgeous woman walking in front of me. Her hips swung with the perfect about of sway. Her smile was bright and beaming. I wondered if she was thinking about me as much as I was thinking about her. She seemed preoccupied, chatting away with Alivia and Samara.

We spent a couple of hours walking around the mall, splitting up for the majority of the time. The girls went into clothing and makeup stores while Alec and I spent time with Ethan in places such as the LEGO store. It was pretty hilarious to see the look on Ethan’s face as he constantly saw new things he wanted. He would check the price then stand there looking incredibly focused as he thought about the allowance he had to spend. We spent nearly an hour in that one store as he bounced between multiple sets. When he finally picked one, it turned out he’d missed calculated and actually couldn’t afford it.

“It’s okay,” he said to the cashier. “I’ll just put it back and find something else.”

But I stepped up and handed the cashier my card, “No need, I’ll buy this for you Ethan.”

Ethan looked up at me in surprise, “Really?”

“Yeah,” I smiled down at him. “Just say it’s an early Birthday present.”

He jumped up and grabbed me, hugging tightly. “Thank you Cory!”

The cashier put the set in a bag before we walked out, a giant grin on Ethan’s face. My main motivation for buying it was the fact that I didn’t want to spend another hour in that store watching the kid agonize over toys he couldn’t afford. In the end we both won out, Alec and I were released from the overly crowded LEGO store and Ethan got a toy he really wanted. But as he walked through the crowd out in the hall Alec looked at me and said, “You know that’s not going to impress Danielle, right?”

“What?” I stared at him in confusion.

He just smirked, “She’s probably going to be mad that you bought him that.”

“I didn’t buy the toy to impress her,” I snapped. “I just wanted to get out of that fucking store.”

He laughed, patting me on the back, “Whatever you say Cory.” After a moment he added, “We both know why you actually didn’t stay in our room last night.”

“Shut up Alec,” I grumbled glaring at him. “You don’t know shit.”

“I know when my brother likes a girl.”

Ethan looked back at us saying, “Hurry up guys! Let’s go to the food court!” When he saw the serious look on my face he rushed over and grabbed my hand, “What’s wrong?”

I looked down at him with a small smile, “My brother is pissing me off.”

So he looked back at Alec and frowned, “What happened?”

Alec just laughed before slapping a hand on Ethan’s shoulder, “My brother has a crush on your sister.”

In that moment I wanted to punch Alec to get him to shut his damn mouth. My relationship with Danielle was still delicate, and I didn’t want anything Alec said to ruin it. What if her brother told her about this? My fear was that she’d get mad and not want to deal with me anymore. How could she trust me to keep this a secret when my brother so easily figured it out and was spreading it around like mayonnaise on bread. She would be pissed.

“Shut up Alec!” I shouted at them as they both grinned and laughed looking back at me. Shit… this isn’t good.

By the time we reached the cafeteria the girls were already seated at a table somewhere in the middle of the crowd, drinking boba and chatting with each other. Instantly my eyes caught Danielle’s and she blushed. I wanted to just stare at her beautiful smile all day. But we needed to talk now, before Ethan could run up to her and spill the beans. So I waved at her, and motioned with my head that I wanted to talk.

She looked at the other girls before saying something. Then she got up and walked over to me. She looked slightly concerned.

“What is it?” she asked once she reached me. Her arms were crossed and she was leaning slightly on one leg.

Ethan and Alec had joined Alivia and Samara. My heart was beating so fast in fear of what those two were telling the other girls. I needed to figure this out now. The last thing I wanted was for her to be subjected to their teasing.

“Alec told Ethan that I have a crush on you,” I blurted.

There was a moment of silence before she smiled and started giggling. “That’s what has you looking all stressed?”

“Yeah,” I said feeling slightly stupid. I let my hand run through my hair as I added, “I didn’t want you to think I told Ethan anything. Especially since we haven’t actually talked about last night…”

She smiled and took my hand, “Don’t worry about it, if anyone says anything we’ll just tell them to shut up.” Then she hip bummed me as she teased, “Don’t you remember all the teasing we use to get in school? People just don’t understand true friendship.”

My heart ached a bit hearing her say that. Did she only want to be friends?

“Yeah… I guess.” I squeezed her hand before following her back to the table. We would need to have a more thorough talk later. But for now I was going to have to deal with whatever dumb shit my brother might try to stir. I could do that for her.

Truce

smoke cigars, moonlit night

play the game until midnight

Fire in the air into the night

Fire in the air dead to the right

curious friendly scene

enemy war machine

Fire in the air into the night

Fire in the air dead to the right

peaceful time, singing songs

across the trench been so long