Chapter 4

As naïve, innocent and inexperienced as shy Leon was in the romance department, even he was able to figure out that Annabelle took him to Fifty Shades Freed to make a subtle gesture that perhaps it was time to advance their shy friendship to the next stage. The thought terrified him but Leon also recognized that he was ready to explore that final frontier if Annabelle was interested in helping him along, just as she had been helping him along in his social skills and communicative interactions during the past several weeks.

But he was uncertain as to how to proceed. He didn't want to scare her away or offend her by demonstrating affection if it turned out he was misreading the situation. Would holding her hand on the way to the dining hall be too forward of him, even if he used the excuse that he was helping guide her in the slippery dark?

And what about being bold enough to try kissing her goodnight before stepping across the hall to his room when they were back in the dorm? His shy insecurities were back in full force as he waffled between letting Annabelle know that he was developing a romantic affection toward her and keeping his mouth shut, which was his normal mode of handling uncertainty. Just ask Eleanor.

"Did you date a lot of guys in high school?" Leon asked Annabelle during dinner one night.

She burst out laughing, almost sending the noodle in her mouth across the table into his face. "You're asking me this why?" She asked with interest.

"No reason," he lied.

"No, I didn't date a lot of guys," she said with an amused look on her face.

"Well, did you date a few guys?" He asked.

"I dated a few guys," Annabelle acknowledged.

"What about here?" He wondered. "At college?"

"One guy last year," she said. "More of a fling than anything else."

"Oh," he said, playing with his food.

"Why do you ask?"

He shrugged. "I don't know," he mumbled. "Just wondering why somebody so attractive, intelligent and interesting wouldn't be garnering the interest of guys around here."

"Nice save, Leon," Annabelle said with a grin. Then she turned serious. "You know I'm almost as shy as you are."

"You handle it better," Leon argued.

"Maybe on the surface," she said. She stared at him so intensely that he had no choice but to look away. "What exactly are you trying to ask me?"

"I don't know," he sighed.

"Would somebody like you be interested in somebody like me?" She asked point blank.

"What would you do if I was?" He said.

She sat back in her chair and smiled at him. "Congratulations, Leon, you did it."

"Did what?"

"Finally found the courage," she said. "Finally said what you were really thinking and feeling."

Leon was thunderstruck by the realization. "I probably could have done it better," he admitted.

"You did it just fine," Annabelle assured him. "It wasn't that hard, was it?" She teased.

"I'm about to pass out," Leon revealed.

"Eat your dinner," she advised. "Get your strength back."

They didn't talk about what Leon had been asking for the rest of dinner or on the walk back to the dorms. They played a couple of games of Chess in Leon's room and then Annabelle said she was tired and that she was going to go shower and turn in.

"Good night," Leon said warmly although he was secretly worried that maybe he had ruined things between them. "Maybe this weekend I can show you my computer baseball game," he said. "You could even play a few games if you wanted."

Annabelle gave him a funny look before disappearing from the room and Leon was convinced he had blown it big time. He should have kept his stupid mouth shut and his thoughts and feelings to himself. She must have thought of him as the biggest loser on campus.

The room was dark. Leon was almost asleep when he heard the door open (he never locked it when he was in the room). He opened his eye and in the light from the hall he saw that it was Annabelle (who else?) slipping into the room, wearing a dark purple bathrobe.

"Something wrong?" Leon worried as she shut the door, returning the room to darkness.

"No," She said.

"I can't see you," Leon said.

"I'm here," she said.

He sensed her presence but had no idea where she was as his eyes tried to adjust to the dark. He had pulled down the shades to the window so there was no light anywhere.

He felt the covers being pulled back and a weight on the mattress. "Move over," she said.

Leon did what he was told, although his heart was beating in his chest. He felt bare skin against his arm and realized she had taken the robe off.

"Here," she said and he felt something being placed in his hand.

"What's that?"

"A condom," she informed him. "Do you think you can put it on yourself?"

"I can try," he said quietly.

She waited for him to pull his underwear down his legs and he fumbled under the covers in the dark to put on the first condom of his life.

"Can't we turn the light on?" Leon asked.

"No," Annabelle said.

"Why not?"

"Because I'm shy," she said quietly. " I don't want you to see me. Naked."

"Is this some sort of puritan Victorian form of prudence and respectability?"

"It's me being shy," Annabelle said. "Don't give me a hard time."

"I would never do that," he said.

"Did you get the condom on?" Annabelle asked.

"I think so," he said.

"Okay then."

He felt her lips on his and her hands were in his hair and he felt his skin against hers in all the secret places and she didn't resist when his hands explored places he had never explored before.

"Make love to me," she said through her ragged breaths. "But keep the covers on."

He kissed her and when she flopped onto her back he rolled on top of her. He managed to find his way in and he started to do what he assumed he was supposed to do but this was his first time and he wasn't very confident or sure and his nervous excitement caused him to shove a little too hard and fast.

"Slow down," she said. "Take it easy," she advised. "Not so..."

"Oops," Leon said nervously as he stopped pumping.

"What?" She panted.

"I think it came off."

"The condom?"

"Yeah," he said with embarrassment. "I guess I didn't get it on right."

"Geezo, Leon," she said.

"Is it still inside of you?" He asked.

Annabelle pushed him off of her and she put her hands between her legs. "Did you...?"

"No," he assured her.

"It's stuck in there," Annabelle confirmed, turning on her side with her back to him under the covers in the dark as she continued to try to pull the lost condom out. "Do something," she pleaded.

"Relax," he said. Un-tense your muscles. It should come out."

"Well, it's not," she said with annoyance.

"You have your hand in there?" He asked nervously.

"Leon," she grumbled.

"Did you ever read the James Herriot books?" He asked. "The vet? All Creatures Great and Small. All Things Bright and Beautiful? He always has his hand in places they shouldn't go. Breeched calves and stuff."

"It won't come out," She groaned.

"Let me try then," Leon said. "Like James Herriot."

"What?" Pause. "No." Pause. "That would be too weird."

"You want to go to the ER instead?" Leon asked. "Have the EMTs or nurse feeling around in there? Everybody knowing what happened?"

"Maybe it will come out on its own," Annabelle said in the dark.

"You could have bacteria in there," he warned. "That could lead to an infection. We really need to get it out of there now."

Long pause.

"Keep trying," Leon advised.

He heard squishing sounds and her grunts as she kept doing whatever she was doing in the dark under the covers.

"We should turn the light out so we can see," Leon said.

"No, I'm way too modest for that!" Annabelle insisted.

"I've never..."

"James Herriot," she told him. "Do the James Herriot maneuver."

Leon moved close and he slowly inserted his fingers inside of her.

"Well?" She asked, her breathing labored.

"I don't know," he said, embarrassed and intrigued at the same time. "Let me turn on the light so I can see what I'm doing."

"No!" She cried. "That's voyeurism."

"This isn't the best time to be a prude," Leon said gently.

He pushed the covers off of them and half climbed over her to turn on the lamp on his desk. Annabelle shielded her eyes from the light and she turned her head away.

"You're naked!" She exclaimed.

"You are too," he said. "It's okay."

He swallowed hard. It was the first time he had seen a girl nude in real life. Her small breasts were flat because her arms were up covering her face. He saw her bush.

"Open your legs," he whispered quietly.

"Oh God," she groaned.

"I won't hurt you," he promised.

"You see me!"

"I'm sorry," he said. "It's an emergency."

Annabelle reluctantly spread open her legs and Leon gently slid his fingers inside her again.

"I think I feel it," he reported.

"Just get it out," she said, keeping her head turned away from him.

"Try putting your feet on my shoulders and spread your legs more," he instructed as he knelt between her legs.

"You're not my OGBYN," She complained.

"Please?" He asked softly.

Annabelle did what he suggested and he worked his fingers further inside.

"Got it!" He exclaimed victoriously, pulling the condom out of her with ease. "James Herriot," he said.

Annabelle turned her head to face him, uncovered her face and opened her eyes to look at him as he knelt over her with the wet condom in his hand. He expected her to kick him off the bed with her feet, cover herself with the sheet, turn out the light and tell him to get out of there - even though it was his room.

Instead there was an unexpected curious smirk on her face as she stared into his eyes. She finally dropped her legs from his shoulders and she burst out into hysterical laughter.

"What's so funny?" A confused Leon asked but she couldn't stop laughing long enough to tell him.

She laughed hysterically for what seemed like forever. Leon tossed the condom into the waste basket and he lay beside her, the covers still down at the bottom of the bed and he watched as she laughed and laughed and laughed.

Finally, wiping tears from her eyes and holding her stomach that now hurt from all the laughing, she looked at him for a long moment.

"Tell me what you really think!" She said.

"I...I...I.." He stumbled with confusion.

"My James Herriot," she said happily as she cuddled against him. "How could I ever possibly be shy with you again?"