Chapter 29

Eve

When I open my eyes, I shake my head and peer through the hazy light. The room is dark and shadowy with only small amount of rose-pink light slanting through the barely closed curtains. I let my vision adjusts, letting my gaze roam over the room again- and I realize I'm not in my room. No fluff, no frills and no fuss. The room is purely male, bigger, slightly disorganized with jumble of books and clothing scattered on the floor and zero stick-on glow-in-the-dark constellations on the ceiling. I inhale the air and catch a whiff of familiar masculine scent that I recognize right away.

I stretch my limbs. I never feel so relaxed and refreshed before, waking up in a large bed with its soft quilt and covers. I relish the warmth on my skin by the oversized pajama shirt I'm wearing and my bare legs tangling comfortably around the soft sheets. I squirm a little at the feel of something heavy draping across my stomach- someone's heavy arm.

I smile and turn to the sleeping form right next to me.

My boyfriend.

Adam looks so sweet when he's sleeping with his hair sticking up in tufts on top of his head and his tanned bronze skin stark against the cream colored cotton bed sheets, his strong arm wrapping around me protectively. I lift a hand, tracing the outline of his cheek with my fingers. Last night, he'd been really patient and considerate with Max, after what happened between them. I think it shows maturity though, that he'd shown clemency, compassion and condolence toward Max's unfortunate turn-out. After all this time, I thought he's hiding beneath the tough fa├žade in front of those who aren't close to him. Who knows behind Adam's fragile and callused put-on, he actually has a heart. There's nothing sexier than a guy who's not afraid of vulnerability and baring his entire soul.

I quit stroking him when he stirs a little from the motion. I don't want to wake him up. But I guess I'm not being flimsy enough, considering now he's lying on top of me, his mouth nuzzling my neck. I giggle softly from the tickly feeling. When he pulls away, he stares down at me with those beautiful brown eyes- looking sexily dozy. The corner of his lips curves up slightly in a soft, dazed smile.

"Morning baby," he murmurs drowsily, his nose touching mine.

"It's still dawn," I remind him, lightly tapping the corner of his mouth with my finger.

He smiles that dopey smile again and pulls me into his arms, clasping me close to his bare chest. I close my eyes and savor the feel of his warm bare-flesh against his pajama shirt I'm wearing, his strong arms folding around me and his clean, masculine fragrance. I love how he makes me feel safe, protected, loved and desired.

"How I wish everyday to be like this," he's grazing his lips across my forehead, thumb stroking my cheek, "to wake up every morning seeing the person I love the most lying next to me," he kiss the tip of my nose, my cheek and my lips. His kisses are slow and sweet, it makes my emotion soar.

"Me too," my hands skimming his bare biceps and come up to thread my fingers into his hair, pulling him closer to plant a soft kiss on his jaw.

His mouth hovering close to me again and his whisper of love word so sensual, engulfing me just as thoroughly as the shadows. He moves his mouth to my jaw, lightly brushing his lips there. His fingers sweeping open the collar of pajama shirt I borrowed from him, and I blush hard when my bra is revealed to his glance- and his touch. My eyes fluttering close again when he dips his mouth on the skin beneath my ear and the tingling sensations begin, first on the crook of my neck, my collarbone and then down to my chest, just at the above line of my bra. I let out a low sigh of such longing as the sensations washing over me.

"I love your scent...so sweet..." he whispers sweetly, his mouth shifting from my chest, to my neck and back to my mouth.

He tilts his head a bit more and settles his lips against mine. He brushes his lips across mine several times before the kiss deepen. His mouth dragging against mine, tasting and sucking my lips, I find myself craving more of him. After a moment, they nudge mine open and demand more. I willingly give him the access, letting his tongue sliding in and sweeping the inside of my mouth. I'm all but sinking deeper and deeper into the softness of the duvet- all from the wave of emotion and pleasure.

All at once, the air in the room becomes thick and our breathing labored, filled with intoxicating arousal. Not that I could catch my breath anyway since he's kissing me so deeply, so urgently- mouth pressing hotly against mine. And his hands touching me everywhere, slipping beneath the hem of the pajama shirt to caress my flesh. My body goes completely limp, melting against his. The hot sensations seem to overwhelm me.

I gasp when I feel something hard pressing against my inner thighs, a shock that shot through me is like nothing I've ever experienced before.

"God! Evey...I..." Adam pulls away instinctively, his voice ragged and heavy. He stares down at me for a moment, panting from lack of breath. Then, he rolls over to his side and stares at the ceiling, his chest still rising and falling in an erratic movement. "I...I'm so sorry."

I clutch the front of the pajama shirt and close my eyes, trying calm my rapid heartbeat and my uneven breathing. It is when the comprehension dawned in me; we both want it. I'm almost eighteen and still a virgin, but it doesn't mean that I know nothing about sex. I know guys are easily aroused early in the morning, sometimes they even have erection. The profound strength Adam has to not lose control is as much as a turn-on as the control is getting lost. And I'm not going to deny that all those heated kisses and endless touching seem to have direct correlation to the strange, pleasant feeling I'm experiencing between my legs.

I know Adam had had sex before and I'm fairly positive making love with him would be earth-shattering. I love him enough...but I don't think we're going to give in, just not yet.

"Evey," he's looking at me now, his eyes soften. "I know I gave you my word I wouldn't touch you more, but..." he pauses for a moment and takes a quick inhalation of breath, "if you let me kiss you and touch you further...I...I don't think I have the desire to stop."

I look at him through the streak of rose-pink light of dawn, thinking someone so beautiful could actually exist.

"I promise, baby," he adds, reaching out to touch my cheek with his fingers. "This isn't just about sex, it's more than that. You're nothing like those girls I had been with. You're too special to me, Evey. You make me feel what it's like to be loved and loving someone- and I love you so much I won't do anything to hurt you."

I smile slightly, feeling relieved and overwhelmed by his words of tender reassurance. It's not just about keeping my reputation- and my purity intact, but it has a lot to do with him losing his control and to assure me our relationship is much deeper, more than just physical intimacy and sexual desire for each other. He looks into my eyes, tenderness and affection gleaming in those brown depths of his, making my heart flutters. He opens his arms to me and I waste no time snuggling deeper into his chest.

"Thank you," I whisper against his skin, and then look up to meet his gaze. "I love you."

He smiles softly, pulling my head back to his chest again and kisses the top of my head. "I love you too."

It isn't long until unconsciousness claims us again.

Adam

When I wake up for the second time, the sun shines brightly through the opened curtains, scorching my skin. I look at the green-illuminated digits on my bedside clock; 9:05 a.m. I lift my head up and realize Evey is no longer in my bed. A sudden, overpowering alarm strikes me for a moment, thinking she'd left me without saying a word. But I guess I'm just being paranoid, as soon as a distinct aroma of fried bacon hit me, my panic-stricken feeling ceasing altogether. I smile slightly, letting my head falls back against the pillows.

God, Evey really drives me close to fucking insanity with her soft skin, her warmth, her girly scent, her kisses and her touch. Man, I nearly lose it all from the sweetness of her gestures. She may look innocent but she also can be tempting. Am I lucid to think that she looks sexy wearing my pajama shirt? And not forgetting to mention, without the pants? It takes a lot to stay in complete control and keep myself from pawing her- and to remain myself she's still a virgin. I'd had sex before, but I'm not the type of asshole who sleeps around. God knows I have a normal amount of testosterone for an eighteen-year-old guy. I love Evey so much and respect her. I so completely respect her I'm determined to push my own urges aside to care for her wishes, raging hormones or not. I'm willing to wait until she's completely ready for me.

I push myself off the bed, put on a shirt, brush my teeth and freshen up in the bathroom. After a quick wash, I stomp downstairs and make my way to the kitchen. The delicious aroma of chipped beef and pancakes makes my stomach growling. Reflexively, a grin spread across my face as I step into the kitchen. Evey looks really cute wearing my mom's old floral dress and an apron, battering several pieces of raw bacon and then lower each piece into the hot oil with a pair of tongs, the resounding sizzle and crackle waving through the room. I walk up to her, grasping her shoulders from behind and kiss the top of her head.

"Good morning to you too, Mr. Lazy Slob," she says sweetly.

"I smell pig skin, pancakes and love," I wrap my arms around her waist and kiss her cheek. "Need help? You know I can sport an apron too if you wish."

"Okay then," she twirls to face me, handing me a pair of steel tongs. "Put on an apron and give me a hand with this. We'll see how you work your angles, bello."

"Ow! Sassy," I tease her, snatching one of mom's canvas apron from the iron hook against the wall, slip it over my head and tie it round my back.

With a set of tongs, I settle thick slices of fried lean bacon on the plain white plates while Evey is watching over the flapjack batters on the hot stove griddle. Few minutes later, we grab several plates of foods and set them down on the breakfast table.

"You set them up?" I ask her, looking at the table that now looks like one of those tables in add-on breakfast room used by many B&B owners to serve spectacular breakfast.

"Uh-uh," she nods, sliding onto a seat. "I even replaced the wilted flowers on the vase with fresh ones."

"Looks like my girl have this whole Marta Stewart thing goin' on," I poke her ribs lightly, easing onto the seat facing her and set the condiments of whipped cream can and mom's homemade pancake syrup before her.

"I hope you're ready for the 'Evey and Martha annual Fall/Winter Smackdown' because I run these babies," Evey says with a winsome smile, pouring a huge carton of milk into her glass.

"You've always got something going on in your head," I chuckle, ruffling her hair affectionately.

"Hey, sorry I used all of your pancake mix," she says innocently. "You got them all boxed nicely inside your cabinet. It's like you're never out of food stock."

"It's totally cool, baby," I tell her. "That's the perks of being a guy who can't really cook scrambled eggs without burning it. Mostly, I eat cereals for breakfast," I pop a slice of bacon into my mouth. "Oh wow, this is too good to pass up."

"Thank you," she says amusingly. "I must say your dining room is bigger than my room," she comments, looking around. "You can totally earn extra cash by setting B&B here, just sayin'."

I give her a wistful smile. "Now you know what it's like living alone in this fricking big house," I mutter, taking a sip on a glass of milk.

She pauses momentarily to stare at me. No blinking of eyelids, no averting of gazes, or twitching of lips. A flash of emotion crossing her face and her eyes are so blue, they soften at my bitter remark. I lean closer and reach out for her small hand, "Hey. I'm okay now," I reassure her, stroking the back of her hand with my thumb. "I have you and it's more than I could ever ask for."

Her blue-eyed gaze narrows down to where our hands joined together. She puts another hand on top of mine and I'm instinctively warmed by her gentle caress. "I won't leave you, Adam."

The tone in her voice is so tacit, but sharp with firmness, resilience and sheer determination. I feel humbled by it. I lift a hand, tracing her soft cheek with my knuckles. "I know baby," I whisper, dragging my thumb across her bottom lip. "But if you're thinking of leaving me, I'm gonna have to take the anti-theft tracking device out of my car and put it on you," I say jokingly.

"I can have your car's anti-theft tracking device?" she utters inquisitively. "I was always wondering where my packs of Rainbow Twizzlers had disappeared to," but then she shakes her head and scrunches up her face. "Sorry. We're supposed to be in a romantic mode now."

I laugh inwardly and turn to my breakfast, dragging a plate of pancake in front of me. "Let's just pig out. Hey, have you tried this new strawberry whipped cream by Organic Valley? You should try this. This is really fricking good," I squirt out the creamy foam to my hand and then whip it on her cheek.

"Oh my God!" Evey cries out in alarm, wiping the cream off her cheek. "Are we doing this now?" she takes another can of whipped cream, oozing out a large amount of smooth paste on her hand and smears it onto my face.

We fool around instead of finishing our breakfast. But I know deep inside, this is one of those moments with Evey that I will truly cherish.

Eve

When I walk in the family room, I find Junior and Ethan crashing in front of the TV, watching Kick Buttowski. Ever since Ethan started pre-school, he's become a little too creative on his hands and has collected all sorts of coloring books on his favorite cartoons. Dad even bought him this huge set of Primascolor colored pencils. This explains my maladroit coordination when I nearly tripped over a pile of coloring paraphernalia scattered on the floor as I walk inside the room.

"Evveeeyyy!" Ethan screeches happily, but not moving a limb from where he's sitting.

"You bailed on us," Junior says accusingly to me.

"No, I didn't," I plunk right down beside him on the couch. "Of course, dad was like, not okay at first but then Denise shamelessly whispered to me to use..." I glance toward Ethan who's been oblivious on our conversation and keeps his gaze glued on the TV. "Am I allowed to say this? There's a four year old kid here."

Junior turns to Ethan. "I change his diapers until he turned two and I'm still in charge cleaning his doo doo potty- which I must say sometimes he would miss the bull's eye and often times he would threaten me with his pee wee. The policy remains unchanged until he's fully potty-trained. So I don't think the little guy completely understand what the frack we're talking about."

"I'm not having this conversation with you," I tell him eagerly.

Eww...do I want to spew all the little factoids on spending a night with my boyfriend- who happens to be my stepbrother's best friend- to my stepbrother? No way, Jose. Not a chance, Lance. Not in a million years. Nuh-uh. Na-ah. Niet. And no.

"According to Adam, I'm not allowed to grill him too. You guys are definitely driving some crapbox here," he let out a funny snort. "But I'm going to back up my persuasion because I have points for chasm and disparity."

Oh wow. Charlotte must be a good exemplary to him, shoving a whole bunch of euphemism down his throat and all.

"Which is?" I want to know.

"Remember when I called you yesterday? To inform you about Max?" he sniggers. "That was when the universe speaks in the form of Alexander Graham Bell's greatest invention of all."

Oh. My. God.

"Don't tell me..." I gasp, my eyes are probably the size of eggs right now. "Could you even make out the sound?"

"Gee, I don't know. It was more like..." he looks thoughtful for a moment. "You were moaning. How's that for TMI?"

"Oh my God!"

A red hot flush rushes up my neck and spread across my cheeks, and then I rush to Ethan, who's sitting on the floor, and put both hands to his ears. "Look, Ethan! Roly poly!" I point hastily to the TV as the screen flickering to a mob of roly-polies scurrying toward the sidewalk in a state of panic and then there's this fat kid jabbing roly-poly after roly-poly to get them to curl into tiny balls.

"Dude, that kid's toes are like two plump peanuts," Junior cracks up, referring to the TV show.

I turn to him and hiss, "FYI, nothing happened okay? And we're not going to talk about this again or I will rip out chunk after chunk of your hair."

Who cares if he's nine inches taller than me and about twice my size? I could really cream him if I wanted to.

"Chill, sissy poo. We're adults for cripes' sake, you don't have to be so dramatic. And don't worry about it, I'll pretend like I'm too vain to understand and we'll forget this conversation ever happened," he reassures me, in that relentlessly annoying way he has taken to talk to some junior varsity basketball team member, just like the way he did when he was first personally courted by Coach Jackson to join basketball team in ninth grade.

As much as the idea of Junior being cool over the fact that Adam and I are so wrapped in each other is making my stomach go icy cold, I think it's pretty dumb to be all paranoid about it. I mean, isn't it great that he isn't so grossed-out over the prospect of seeing the intimacy between me and his best friend? I think it's probably his kind of grow-up thing though.

Downstairs, Adam is sitting at the dining room table across from my dad, who's talking intently about something. I hope he doesn't sputter all of his jokes to Adam, because most of dad's jokes are lame and prehistoric.

"You see, son," my dad begins. "When I graduated from college, all I thought of doing was to take a year off- and travel the world all by myself. Most of my friends were busting my nuggets because I was sort of a wimp back then," he continues on and Adam just nods politely.

I smile and skittle into the kitchen, taking out some of my homemade mini flapjack batters out of the refrigerator and reheat them in a skillet on medium heat for five minutes. Adam and I are planning to visit Max at the hospital again today. The doctors reassured us that Max has a good chance of complete and total recovery, but it would take some time- probably a month or so. While it may be great news, but chances for him to be held back and repeating twelfth grade is highly possible, since he's in most IB classes. Not forgetting to mention suspension of driving license since he's convicted under the zero tolerance law for driving under the influence of alcohol. Talk about bad luck.

Few minutes later, I heap a mound of mini flapjacks into a food container. I put the container inside a paper bag and take it into the dining room. I slide onto a seat next to Adam and while he's not looking at me because he's too busy paying an absolute attention to my dad's boyhood tale, he slips his hand over my thigh and starts rubbing it with his palm. If my dad sees our inappropriate display of affection, he'll go nuts. As much as I like Adam's sneaky intimate play- which is totally hot by the way, I have to squeeze his hand to make him stop.

"So, are you ready to get boxed in?" my dad asks him.

"Definitely," Adam says politely. "I know I'm in no position to judge something I haven't experienced yet but I'm willing to take it as a challenge."

I have no idea what they're talking about or what sort of interrogation my dad has shot him up with. I'm trying so hard to suppress my gagging over Adam's tactfulness toward my dad. I mean, it's not like he's a total stranger or hasn't been coming to our house every day for the past five years anyway.

"Moreover, I feel lucky enough meeting your daughter," Adam says to my dad, then he looks at me and winks.

At this very moment, I can't seem to tear my gaze away from him. I put my hand over his under the table, feeling my heart swells with emotion for this guy.

This is pure affection.

...

Hello! So I have some not-so-good-news: I want to apologize in advance because I won't be able to update new chapter next week as I'm flying to Spain for business trip and will be there for a week. If you're in Spain, give me a shout-out! I'll try to post chapter 9 of 'Paradise' series by Wednesday, I can't promise but I'll try :)

Thanks for responding to the previous chapter: innoc3nc3cuti3, Momo17, multicrazybabygirl, BaconRules101, dimitrilover101, koraandmako4ever, Raya47, Attack-of-the-blue-penguins, sunkissed-skin, Revolving Circles, colbyjackchz, tranniebear98, loveforever143, MrsTomlinson69, JJsMommy29, and New reader.

Thanks for reading. Hope you guys enjoyed this :)

~champagne kisses~