“I wouldn’t tell you, you like to gossip too much,” I tease her, giving her a kiss on the crook of her neck. She rewards me by wrapping her arms around my shoulders, and planting one of her own on my neck.
The knowledge of what I’m going to do tonight keeps me from pushing for more. It keeps me from wanting more, it keeps me from lifting her ass up and pinning her against the wall.
“Are you okay?” I ask her, holding her close and not letting her go just yet.
“Me?” she questions and I nod against her, feeling her hair tickling along my stubble as I reply, “Yes, you.”
“I feel better in a way,” she confides in me and stands upright so I let her go. “It feels good to say it all out loud and still be able to stand afterward.”
Staring into her gaze I admit to her, “You don’t strike me as a girl who would ever not land on her feet, cailín tine.”
“You know, I forgot to tell Laura that,” she murmurs and sways slightly. Enough that she feels the need to take a step back and steady herself.
“How much did you drink?”
She shrugs and then says, “The normal amount when we go drunk shopping.”
“No bags though?”
“Oh, well there’s this thing where I owe this guy some money so I’m on a tight budget at the moment,” she jokes with me and her smile is infectious. “Really, I just wasn’t interested tonight in shopping.”
“Yeah,” she answers and then says again, “I can’t believe I forgot to tell her.”
Walking her to the bedroom, I ask her what she forgot to tell Laura.
“The nickname.” Her answer stops me just outside the door although she continues, “I think she’d understand better, if she knew.”
It’s different here. Maybe because it’s his room. His house. His place.
He’s different here. He’s more transparent. Less hidden with his emotions. Other than anger and dominance… and lust, he hasn’t shown me more than that beyond these walls.
Or maybe it’s just tonight. Maybe it’s just the wine talking or the relief that I finally told Laura what’s going on.
I don’t know, but when I look at Jase, he’s different.
And he’s not okay. Pain riddles every move he makes. Not the physical kind, the kind that wears away at your mind.
His head hangs lower as he asks me what we did. As if he doesn’t already know. His voice is duller, his grip less tight on my waist as he pulls me into the bedroom.
With every step my heart beats slower, wanting to take the agony away from his. The answers I give him are spoken without thinking. I’m more concerned with watching him than I am with making small talk.
With his back to me, he pulls the covers back and tells me to strip and get into bed, which I do.
My mind starts toying with me. Insecurity whispers in my ear, “Maybe it’s you.”
“Are you okay?” I ask him, letting a tinge of my insecurity show.
“Fine,” he answers shortly, but he gets into bed with me.
“You’re still dressed,” I comment, listening to my heart which is quiet. I think it’s waiting for him to say something too. For him to tell us what’s wrong.
“I know,” is all he gives me as an answer and the high I was on, all that relief I felt, vanishes.
I feel sick. Not hungover or drank too much sick, but the sickness that comes when you know something’s wrong. The awful kind where you can guess what it is, but you don’t want to just in case it’ll go away if you never voice it.
I know what I need, but I don’t ask him for it. Instead I pull the covers up close around my chin and lie there. My pride is a horrid thing.
I’m aware of that.
If I could simply let it go, I could communicate better. I know that. I’ve known it all my life. But still, I don’t ask him to hold me.
I don’t have to though. I don’t have to tell him what I need to feel better.
The bed groans as he moves closer to me, wrapping a strong arm around my waist and pulling me closer to him. It’s a natural reaction for me to close my eyes and let out an easy breath when I take in his masculine scent. It engulfs me just as his warmth does, just as his touch does.
“You promise we’re okay?” I ask him and then my eyes open wide, realizing the mistake I made. The Freudian slip.
Kissing the crook of my neck, he murmurs a yes.
He gives so much and I feel so undeserving. The ringing on my skin comes back, the bell of what happened earlier reminding me that it’s okay. That it’s better than okay.
My hand lays over his and he twines his fingers with mine before planting a kiss on my cheek.