I walked into the apartment and took a deep breath with a satisfied smile. I commented, looking back at Will as he shut our door, "You know, I loved your parents' house, but there's really no place like home."
"I know what you mean." He hung up his coat in the closet and moved toward the kitchen. "I didn't think we would stay all day."
"It was fun though." I hung up my coat and gave a stretch, groaning, "I feel like I won't be able to eat for a week."
"So you're saying I should heat up these leftovers my mom sent with us?"
I grimaced, walking into the kitchen. "Please don't."
Will chuckled, finding a place for the leftovers as he asked, "How about I make a salad for dinner tonight?"
"That sounds amazing," I answered. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I asked as I pulled it out and looked at who it was, "What kind?"
"It's a recipe my dad makes all the time to get rid of our leftover turkey."
As Will went on to explain the sweet and savory salad, I opened the text I had with trepidation.
Hey, happy belated Thanksgiving, gorgeous. How about we go on that second date and see if we can burn off some of those calories? I mean dancing. ;)
"Hmm, it looks like we may have to reschedule our salad dinner," Will said, interrupting my thoughts. I looked up from the text from Charlie and saw his phone in his hand. He held it up and gave an apologetic smile, explaining, "It's a friend's birthday, and he wants to go out for drinks tonight."
"That's okay. I was just going to tell you the same thing." I held up my phone. "Looks like I'm going out tonight."
"Yeah," I answered softly, looking away from me. I didn't want to meet his eyes and see the anger and disappointment. I didn't know what was going to happen tonight, but it needed to, whether it be to say goodbye for the final time or to choose Charlie over Will. Whatever it was, I needed to figure it out for myself and for Will.
The hand on my shoulder surprised me. I looked up to see Will's face, none of the usual laughing mood in it. He said, staring me right in the eyes, "You can make your own decisions about him, but just remember what I said."
He gave me a slight smile and squeezed my shoulder. "You should go get ready then."
"You probably should too." I gave him an equally small smile. "Unless you want to wear slept-in clothes."
"I'd rather not," Will said, removing his hand. "Do you want the shower first?"
I watched him walk toward his room before my attention went back to my phone. I sent, Could we do dinner instead?
Sure. I got back. Pick you up in an hour?
Okay.I put my phone in my pocket and walked toward my room, giving a sigh.
I didn't wear anything fancy for my second date with Charlie. I wasn't looking to impress him with my black skinny jeans and black and white striped shirt. I even decided to wear my kicks.
Will was gone before I finished getting ready. The knock on the front door sounded ten times louder when it was just me in the apartment. I checked the braided cloth bracelet on my wrist for the hundredth time, something I did when I was nervous, before opening the door.
Charlie gave me his easy grin. "Hey, sexy. Ready for dinner?"
"Yeah." I stepped out of the apartment and locked the door behind me. "What are you in the mood for?"
"Well, you already know what I'm in the mood for," Charlie grinned as I rolled my eyes, "but for food, how about sushi?"
I shrugged. "Alright."
We rode in his car to a sushi bar he had been to before but I never knew existed. The food was good, though. As we ate, I blurted out, "Charlie, what's the longest relationship you've been in?"
"Does it really matter?" he asked. "You're the only one I'm thinking about right now."
Is this how he wants to play it? I placed my elbow on the table and played with the necklace I had on. His eyes flicked down. My shirt wasn't the most revealing, but leaning on the table like I was gave him a hint of what was underneath. I smiled and used the flirty, seductive voice guys seemed to love when I stooped to using it. "Indulge me."
"A few months," he answered, eyes flicking back up to my face.
"And, just out of curiosity, where do you see this going?"
He gave his easy grin. "To a room with just you and me."
"Surely you can't want me this badly. You hardly even know me."
"That doesn't matter. You're the one I want."
He seemed confused. "Why what?"
"Why do you want me?" I asked, dropping the act and staring at him intently.
He shrugged. "You're hot."
I stared at him. "Is that the only reason?"
"Isn't that good enough?"
I'm such an idiot. I thought. I forced a smile and sat back in my chair. I asked, gesturing to his plate, "Are you done?"
"Yeah. You ready to go?"
"More than ready."
He paid and we went out to his car. Turning to me with his grin, he asked, "My place or yours?"
"Just take me home," I answered.
"Home it is." He gave me a wink and pulled out of the parking lot. I looked out my window, sighing through my nose.
The drive to my apartment was long. When he stopped the car outside the building, I turned to him and said, "Charlie, I can't do this."
"Hey, it's okay. I can wait one more date." I opened my mouth, but he put up a hand to silence me. "Don't say any more. At least let me walk you up to your door."
I sighed, annoyed. "Fine."
I got out and didn't wait for him. If he wanted to follow me to my door, fine, but hell if I was going to walk with him. He got the drift and stayed a step or two behind me. Once at my door, I turned, ready to let him have it, but found lips already pressing to mine. I pushed at his chest, wrestling myself out of his grip.
"What the hell?" I exclaimed once my mouth was free.
His grin pissed me off. "Come on, Stevie. You know you want me."
"Actually, I don't." I glared at him. "You have no idea what I want. I'm not just going to be some fuck-buddy that you can dump when you get bored. It took me a ridiculously long time to figure it out, but I know who I want and it sure as hell isn't you."
Charlie's easy face had turned stony hard. He said tersely, "I thought you were going to be different than those other girls, but apparently you're just another clingy bitch that refuses to just have fun." He snorted. "Have a nice life."
He started turning away, but I said, "Hey, Charlie."
"What?" he asked, his tone far from pleased as he turned back.
My hand whipped across his face. He looked shocked, his cheek turning red from my slap. I snapped, "That's for calling me a clingy bitch. Now get the fuck out of here."
He looked like he wanted to hit me back, but he had the common sense to know it wouldn't end well for him. I glared at his back as he walked away. I mumbled, turning to my door, "Asshole."
The door was still locked. If Will was home, he would have left it unlocked for me. That meant he was still out with his friends. I unlocked the door, but couldn't bring myself to go inside. The emptiness in that apartment only emphasized the fact that I was alone tonight.
I rested my back against the wall next to our door and sunk to the floor. What if me going on a date with Charlie had been the final straw for Will? There were plenty of pretty girls at the bar. He could easily just go home with one of them to get over me. What if he decided to move on, just as I was ready to admit my feelings for—
I looked up, hopeful, and smiled. I said, "Hey."
"You want to come inside?" Will asked. He offered me his hand. "I don't think spending the night in the hallway will be very fun."
I shrugged, but took his hand. "Guess you've never spent the night in our hallway."
"No, and I don't plan to." He chuckled and lead me into the apartment. He asked as he walked over to the fridge, "How about some red velvet cake ice cream? You have yet to try it, and it looks like you need it right now."
"Alright. Go sit down. I'll scoop some for both of us."
I walked over to the couch and collapsed on it. I pulled off my shoes and dropped them beside the couch. I would put them away later. I had gotten rid of that jerk and Will hadn't gone home with another girl, which was a good sign. I was tired of hiding my feelings for Will. I already knew he liked me. I was just hoping it was for the right reasons.
"Will?" I asked.
He was right next to me, two bowls of creamy, red-tinged ice cream in his hands. I took the one held out to me and pushed the balls of ice cream around the bowl with my spoon, not looking at him. I asked, "Will, why do you like me? Are you attracted to me just for the sex?"
"I'm not Charlie, Stevie." He sat down next to me and admitted, "I heard what you said to him."
"You were right," I said, glancing at him. "He just wanted to sleep with me. I was stupid to think it could be anything else."
"Just because you hope for something doesn't make you stupid. Sometimes that hope is just placed on the wrong person."
"You never answered my question." I stared at him. "Why do you like me?"
"Because you're amazing, Stevie." When I did nothing but continue to gaze at him intently, he explained, "I've never met anyone like you. You're witty, outspoken, strong, and yet capable of being immensely tender and caring all at the same time. You protect yourself from getting hurt, but I've had the chance to glimpse past your harsh exterior to see something that amazes me. It's made me want to get to know every beautiful inch of you, inside and out. What Charlie wanted to use you for was horrible. You deserve someone that will love you every hour of every day, not just when you're in bed."
Will set down his ice cream and took my own so he could take my hands. He continued softly, staring into my eyes with his bright blue ones, "Stevie, I want to be that person."
I gaped at him, my mouth stupidly slack. I snapped it shut and forced my thoughts to come out of my mouth, "Wow... Where the hell have you been all my life?"
A smile tugged at his lips. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, how come it's take so long for me to meet you?" I asked. "You've lived with me for months and have yet to run away screaming bloody murder, you love cartoons and anime, you're great at playful and witty arguments, you have sexy blue eyes and dark hair, and you actually want to be with me, despite everything you know."
"More than anything."
I stared at him and said, utterly serious, "Just answer me one question. Are you positively sure you're not gay? That would be the perfect way for Fate to get back at me. I swear that bitch has some vendetta—"
"Stevie," Will interrupted, grabbing my face gently with both hands.
"What?" I asked, my heart pounding at the close proximity of his face.
His mouth moved closer to my own, and he breathed against my lips, "Shut up."
His lips captured my own in a gentle kiss. They tasted like ice cream and red velvet cake. He must have taken a bite in the kitchen while he was scooping some into the bowls. My fingers reached up to his silky dark hair as I deepened the kiss, and all thoughts were abandoned that didn't have to do with the way his hands were touching me, the way his lips were trailing down my neck. I sank back into the couch cushions, pulling him down with me.
"...can't believe this is happening now. I thought you two would at least be in one of your bedrooms. My parents are going to be here any minute and my roommates are naked on the couch!"
My eyes cracked open. I mumbled, yawning, "What are you doing back? I thought you weren't coming home until Sunday."
"Thank god you're awake!" Ashley exclaimed, whipping around with our clothes in her hands.
"What time is it?"
I looked over my shoulder to see Will drowsily squinting at her. Eyes flicking to me, he smiled. His arms tightened around me as he said, "Morning."
"Morning." I smiled, craning my neck back to kiss him.
"Not that you guys aren't extremely cute together, and I'm so happy you guys finally got your stuff straightened out, but my parents—" A knock on the door interrupted Ashley's mile-a-minute speech, making her squeak. She whispered, tugging on me, "That must be them. Get up!"
"Give me a second," I mumbled, holding the blanket covering us to my chest as I sat up. Will sat up behind me, pulling the excess around himself. We stood together, making sure the blanket still covered both our naked bodies. Ashley pushed us toward the hallway leading to the bedrooms.
"Get something on," she demanded, shoving our pile of clothes into my arms. "I don't care what it is, as long as it's clothing."
"We get it," I said, rolling my eyes. I started walking toward the closest bedroom, but she grabbed my arm.
Eyes boring into mine, she warned, "And don't even think about starting anything in there while my parents are here. I've lived with you for three years, Stevie, and I know you're far from quiet. My parents barely even know about Will, let alone you're sleeping with him."
"I promise," I said. She turned, but I added, "Hey, Ash."
"What?" she asked, turning to me with a frantic look on her face.
I placed a hand on her shoulder. "I've known you and your parents since we were kids, so I know how old-fashioned they can be, but it's going to be okay. Just calm down."
Ashley took a deep breath and exhaled, saying, "You're right. Everything will be fine."
An impatient rap on our door made her jump. Grimacing, Ashley pushed us into the bedroom and shut the door. I heard her shout, "Just a minute!"
I rolled my eyes and turned to Will with a shake of my head. I said, "Sorry about that. Her parents are a little strict. She tends to freak out when they come."
"It's alright," Will said with a shrug, wrapping his arms around my waist, bringing me close to him.
"We should get dressed." I smiled up at him. "I promised Ash I wouldn't start anything."
"Well you're not staring anything." Will grinned. His mouth captured mine in a slow, tender kiss that sent my heart pounding. His tantalizingly slow lips moved from my lips down the length of my jaw before travelling down my neck. I gripped his hair as my breath caught in my throat.
"As much as I enjoy this," I managed to get out, my voice throaty, "we have to get dressed."
"Alright," he mumbled against my skin, but his lips only moved to a different spot on my neck.
My hands gripped his shoulders as I bit back any sounds that would only encourage him to keep going. I said through gritted teeth, "That's just not fair."
"The whole neck thing," I answered, giving a barely audible moan as he nibbled the spot right above the junction of my neck and shoulder.
He grinned at me. "You mean the fact that your neck is so sensitive?"
"Yes. I better not have any marks," I hissed, stepping away from him to look at the mirror hanging on the closet door. Seeing I had none, I looked around the room, realizing we were in Will's. I hadn't really been inside it since he moved in. Except for a few books, notebooks, and random papers scattered in little piles on his bed and around his nightstand, it was really clean. It was cleaner than even my room. My eyes wandered up to the band posters taped to the wall and then to the couple pictures he had of his family on his mirror.
Will came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Do you want some marks?"
I rolled my eyes at him, but mumbled, looking away, "Maybe later."
He chuckled and opened the closet. He asked, "Would you like some pajamas to put on?"
"Please," I said. "I think Ash's parents would be confused if I come out in normal clothes when it looks like I just rolled out of bed."
He handed me one of his t-shirts and a pair of red flannel pajama pants. He dug for clothes for himself as I put his on. They dwarfed my small frame, but they were amazingly comfortable and made me smile. I moved to the mirror to fix my hair and rub off some of the smudged makeup as best as I could. Stepping out from behind the closet door, I saw a fully clothed Will smirking at me.
"What?" I asked.
"You look good in my clothes," he commented, placing his hands on my waist.
"Thanks." I smiled, blushing.
He kissed me a final time and asked, "Ready?"
"Yep," I answered. We walked over to the door. I put my hand on the handle, but stopped and turned back to him. I warned, "Remember, keep it casual."
He held up his hands with a grin. "I'll keep these to myself."
"Good," I said with a smile, opening the door. "For now."