‘It’s like… 3am in the morning’ I said, having to check the digital clock upon Kate’s bedside table to ascertain this. As far as I could tell, Kate was still sound asleep. I wondered would she think if she woke up right now. I mean, I wasn’t even entirely sure what was going on myself; I felt rather lightheaded.
‘I couldn’t sleep.’ He whispered ‘I feel too guilty about how I acted towards you earlier.’
I sat up, and my face was now those few extra inches nearer his own ‘That’s exactly why I couldn’t sleep either’ I admitted ‘so are you finally going to explain to me what’s going on?’
‘Yes’ He said ‘Come with me? - I don’t want to risk waking Kate’ and he rose to his feet and held a hand out towards me.
Bubbles born from both excitement and fear fizzed inside of me as I took his hand and let him help me to my feet. With my foot still too unstable to put weight upon, and the airbed surface I stood upon less than sturdy, I toppled slightly. He placed one hand to the side of my upper arm to steady me, and his other was still gently clasped around my fingers. Why oh why was he doing this to me?
He dropped the hand from my arm but still didn’t let go of my hand as he lead me out of Kate’s bedroom and into the hallway. How I managed to pull off the action of putting one foot in front of the other, I’ll never know. It felt like all my brain could actually focus on right now was the fact that he was touching me.
He released me – to my disappointment – when we halted in front of his bedroom, in order for him to open the door to it as discreetly as possible. My hand literally itched to reach out and hold his again -- luckily, I managed to restrain myself. He stepped aside and I took this as an indication to enter, so I limped past him, into the dark room by myself, tugging anxiously at the bottom of my tank top as I did so. He followed after, closing the door behind him and flicking on his bedside lamp so that the room was swamped in a dim orange glow.
The light wasn’t very bright, but its sudden appearance still hurt my eyes and I had to blink furiously for a moment, before I could actually properly see anything. Finally, Ryan’s room came into focus. It was not that different then I remember it being last time I was in here, give or take a few posters… and a bit more floor space. I didn’t spend too long studying the room though – couldn’t really, when he was standing right in front of me.
He was wearing a baggy black hoodie that he hadn’t been wearing earlier -- which possibly explained why he appeared more threatening than he would have done otherwise, when I had seen him in the dark. His hair was ruffled cutely and he wore a shy smile on his face ’Um’ He said, gesturing towards the bed to his side ‘make yourself comfortable.’
My internal organs were having a riot as I sat down anxiously upon his bed. I didn’t exactly make myself comfortable like he had suggested – I actually perched sort of awkwardly on the edge of it, rather. Ryan sat down in a similar fashion beside me at first, with probably about two or three feet between us. Then -- probably realizing, like I just had, that this wasn’t the most efficient way to talk to each other -- he brought his legs up onto the duvet and turned so he was sat cross legged, facing straight in my direction. Of course I then felt obliged to copy him, and I swung my legs round carefully so that I was facing him right back.
I tried to focus on being eager to hear what he had to say, but I was very nervous. He could probably tell by the way my hands fumbled as I waited for him to speak; I had no idea what was about to happen and it was unsettling.
‘I thought you loved Spencer as well’ Ryan said, and I snapped my eyes away from my fidgeting hands and up at him ‘Like…’ He said, keeping his eyes focused on the duvet which he tugged at ‘earlier, when we were in the car and I saw you say it to him, I thought you meant in…in the same way Kate thought.’
He looked up at me to catch my slightly confused expression ‘Wait’ I said ‘So… so that’s why you’ve been off with me?’ – I shook my head – ‘I don’t understand.’
‘I guess… I guess I kind of felt like you were messing me around or something’ – he shrugged, and I nodded – ‘Messing him around too… and with everything that’s been going on lately, I’ve just felt so stressed out and I guess I sort of ended up blaming you for it … somehow, and I came across like a real asshole earlier, and when you said you’d broken up with Spencer I felt insanely bad, especially….especially after…’ – He scratched his neck – ‘I really do appreciate you coming here and cheering Kate up.’
With the heat of his gaze scorching my face, I ducked my head as I tried to make enough sense in my brain to form a reply ‘I-- I’ I started lamely ‘I would never have told you that I liked you if I was in love with Spencer’ – I shook my head -- ‘If I hadn’t have been planning to break up with him in the first place. I probably shouldn’t have told you anyway – ‘
‘That’s another thing’ He interjected. ‘I’m sorry about the way I reacted when you told me; I was just… surprised I guess.’
‘You were really that surprised?’ I asked, looking at up him, in slight disbelief.
‘Yes’ He said ‘I really was. Can you blame me? You were with Spencer. And before that I thought you liked Brendon. I wasn’t even sure you liked me at all sometimes.’
‘How could you think that?’ I asked incredulously, a slight hint of laughter in my voice, which had unintentionally gone up an octave ‘Ryan, I’ve never liked someone nearly as much as I like you.’
My exclamation was greeted with a sudden drop of silence and I became a little bit embarrassed at what I had just admitted; although it wasn’t like I particularly regretted saying it – it was all completely true. But I knew it was fast approaching the moment I had been waiting for – the moment I had dreaded since stepping inside this room. I buckled down and prepared myself for rejection. It wasn’t something I had ever experienced before, but I’ve heard it hurts.
My lightheadedness disappeared now, and the moment became a lot more real; the sound of the rain which remained from the storm, drizzling down the windowpane…the slight humming sound that came from the router that sat next to the computer. The way Ryan’s room smelt of boy’s deodorant and how the air inside it felt neither cool nor particularly warm. I felt the electricity that surrounded us, and wondered if he could feel anything at all too.
Ryan looked into my eyes and said ‘Really?’
I didn’t hide from his stare this time. I looked right back into his eyes – a slightly darker shade than usual due the shadows caused by the dim lighting – and said ‘Yes.’
Ryan didn’t look away, but he did something which took me by surprise; he smiled. Quite broadly for that matter and it had the same effect on me as it always does; my stomach cart wheeled and my limbs went weak.
‘I know I shouldn’t say something like that to you when you’ve got a girlfriend’ I babbled ‘especially as I broke up with your best friend only hours ago, and like I was saying, I should never have said anything in the first place, but it’s been driving me insane for ages because I couldn’t tell anyone about it – apart from Brendon –‘
‘-- and he told me you were going to break up with Jane, but it was clear you weren’t intending to do that when I saw you kiss the other day and I got so jealous.. I mean I’ve never felt so utterly heartbroken before! It was awful. I don’t know what I expected to gain from saying it… I mean I know you don’t feel the same way or anything and it’s probably just made this whole situation worse – ‘
‘I just don’t want things to be weird, because I love being friends with you and I don’t want you to think I’m like asking you to – to be with me or something, I know and accept that won’t happen for many, many reasons and I mean, you’re my best friends brother –‘
I stopped myself mid breath intake, and looked up to find him looking at me with the smile still lingering on his face. I shut my mouth. ‘Mmm?’ I said, a little high pitched;
‘There is no… ‘Brian’ … is there?’ He said, and his eyes locked with mine briefly - sweeping me out of reality on a tidal wave of ecstasy, like always. He chewed his bottom lip as he waited for my reply and it took my every effort to tear my eyes away from his mouth.
‘Oh’ I said, and feeling no need to voice my answer, I merely shook my head with a small, lopsided smile.
He nodded – more to himself than at me, and things became very quiet again. There was the drizzling rain, the humming, the smell, the lighting, the electricity… There was something about it all that felt somewhat familiar.
I remembered then, back to a few days before, during the first thunderstorm. Ryan had been in my room and it was my bed that we were sat upon; the perfect scene…the wrong scripts. Was it the same story this time?
He didn’t speak, and nor did I. I sat rubbing a hand up and down my arm trying to get rid of the mysterious goose bumps which had appeared on my skin, whilst I glanced around the bedroom for no particular reason. It was hard to make out much though -- among the shadows which had fallen across it.
On the wall across from me, there was a mirror. The girl in it had messy hair - bedraggled from the rain, and a plain makeup-less face… but I had no room inside me to care. Beside my reflection was his. Its chest was moving slowly up and down… and it was looking straight at me.
I looked away from the reflection, and to where he sat in the flesh. We did but look at each other for what I’d estimate to be 25 long seconds -- which I was actually perfectly content with doing. My chest rose and fell slowly as I waited…for what exactly? I mean, was our time here over now? Should I leave? Did he have more to say to me? Did he expect me to say more?
He ran a hand through his hair, only making my heart pick up even more speed. ‘I don’t know what to say’ he said eventually.
I wanted to yell: ‘Say you feel the same way!’, ‘Tell me it’s me you want to be with!’ But they would be pointless words that he wouldn’t be able to follow through.
‘…apart from… thank you? I guess.’ He continued, twitching the corner of his mouth up ‘Uh, it was… nice – what you said.’
‘Oh!’ I cleared my throat ‘Well… no problem?’ I gave a quick smile and we were back to a fidgety – in my case at least -- silence ‘Sooooo…’ I whistled, beckoning towards the door ‘should I uh, go now?’
‘No’ He said quickly ‘Don’t.’
I let my hands fall back down to my lap. ‘Ok…’
It was unclear to me what he could possibly want me to stay for. I mean we weren’t even speaking to each other…we were just…sat there. I was becoming more and more uncomfortable by the second; repeatedly shifting my weight around, scratching my cheek and continuing to rub my arms where the goose bumps were still present – despite the fact I felt very heated and flushed at this particular moment in time.
Ryan seemed slightly more composed. His arms were folded across his stomach whilst he looked at me. But I could tell at the same time that he was deep in thought about something; and it was driving me crazy, not knowing what. I was more than a little relieved when he finally spoke. ‘I feel like…’ he began ‘I have a million different things I want to say you, but I just… don’t know how to say them exactly.’
Ryan and I were pretty close to each other – there is only so much space on single bed after all -- and I was almost certain he must have been able to hear how hard my heart was presently slamming against my chest. I didn’t know quite what to say to him in reply and therefore settled for a measly ‘Oh’.
I wanted to leave now. Sitting right in front of him was like torture. I was tired; my energy was sagging – I didn’t know how much longer I could restrain myself from leaning forward and just kissing him. My nerves were building, my hand was twitching… I lifted it to my mouth –
It never made it. Ryan reached out a hand and took it before it touched my lips. The skin he held onto tingled and I had forgotten all about my previous intention. He pulled my hand gently closer towards him; my arm reaching out behind obligingly. He overturned it and brushed a thumb lightly along the tops of my fingers, as he studied the torn skin around them.
I gulped. ‘I know – my nails are dreadful aren’t they?
‘Sore?’ He said.
He looked up from my hand, and gently lowered it upon the bed between us, but he didn’t let it go. ‘Stressful week’ I shrugged, wanting the talking to continue, for I found that talking comforted me. ‘What with my Grandma and my mom, and my foot, and Spencer, and…‘ I paused to take a breath, but it got trapped in my throat.
Ryan was looking down at our hands and uncurling his, to lay it smooth across my own, his palm flat upon mine. I closed my eyes briefly and shook my head to try and get my brain working again ‘and Kate, and of course…’ But again, I trailed off.
Ryan was snaking his fingers carefully between the gaps of my own so that they curled round and lay between my knuckles. I let mine fall to his. He was no longer clutching my hand… he was holding it. They were entwined.
He looked up at me, and my heart pounded so loudly right now that it vibrated in my ears and I feared it may burst through my chest entirely. And the way he was looking at me, not only made me lose my train of thought, but all coordination entirely.
My eyes flicked repeatedly between our hands and his face; his eyes flicked repeatedly between my eyes and my… mouth? My eyes came to a stop and focused now, only on him. His stopped too, at my lips. It was certain and undeniable. I gulped dry air and said quietly and quite breathlessly ‘…you.’
And in less than a moment, it was a blink, and then just the brown of his eyes. Then it was the pink of his skin as my eyelashes brushed against the top of his cheek. Then it was just black. I lost four senses at once, for now I was only feeling. And what I felt was amazing.
It was the briefest kiss – couldn’t have lasted more than 3 seconds. But it made my head swim, and my heart burst, and my stomach flip and my skin tingle all over. It was the most flawless, perfect thing.
His lips left mine slowly and my senses returned gradually. His face hovered centimeters in front my own. I could hear our shallow breathing, and wondered whether he felt like he had just had the air knocked out of him too.
I bought my hand up to my lips; not to bite my nails this time, but just to touch. It felt as if stars were dancing upon them, but there was nothing there – just the remains of his taste. And I did all this whilst staring unblinkingly into his eyes. It was like they had put me into some sort of trance, and I couldn’t look away.
The trance was broken with the sound of a door opening and closing. We both turned our heads at the same time towards his bedroom door – both relieved to see it still closed. But then simultaneously realizing that it still meant…
‘Kate’s up’ Said Ryan.
I gave a shuddered exhale of the breath I didn't even know I was holding. ‘Does she know I’m not there?’
We paused and listened as footsteps descended down the hall, before the creak of another door opening was heard – followed by the shutting of it.
‘She’s gone to the bathroom’ He said ‘I don’t think she’s noticed. You should probably go back though – just incase she does when she goes back in.’
He stood up from the bed, and I followed suit – only just learning that my legs were as wobbly as jelly. I wobbled my way to the door and paused in front of it. I turned around, and Ryan was stood there. I wasn’t sure what to do now – what to say to him. ‘Good night.’ I decided upon eventually.
No, it wasn’t really enough -- and he didn’t seem to think so either. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around me, and it was the second best feeling I had ever felt. The material of his hoodie was warm and smelt nice – like fresh laundry. It felt so real. ‘Night kid’ He whispered into my ear before releasing me. He stood back and held the tops of my arms ‘We’ll talk tomorrow, yeah?’
He dropped his hands away from my arms, and I nodded, dumbly, and somehow managed to make my way out of his bedroom and across the hall into Kate’s room. That didn’t just happen. That wasn’t real! was all I thought as I shut Kate’s door behind me, and sunk to the ground, finally letting my legs give way. Impossible.
True; I was confused as hell, but there was no time to dwell on that aspect right now. Bottom line was that Ryan had kissed me. And then he had hugged me!
Suddenly, I was overcome with a new found wave of energy… giddyness. I rose to my feet and – I couldn’t resist it – I did a little jig. Albeit I probably looked a lot like a demented one legged chicken.
The door opened as I spun and I stopped very suddenly with my arms raised, balancing on one leg. ‘Steph?’ Said Kate sleepily ‘…what are you doing?
I slowly lowered my arms and placed my foot upon the ground. ‘Early morning Tai-Chi?’
Thankfully, Kate seemed too tired to properly comprehend what I had said, and question me further. ‘Oh’ she said, before making her way back towards her bed. I just had to hope she was too tired to remember this in the morning. God knows what I’d say.
I sank back down upon my airbed, and stared back up at those glowing stars, very aware that I was still unlikely to be falling asleep any time soon. That is; If I wasn’t already dreaming.
This chapter is dedicated to Becca Robertson, for giving me a smile via Twitter.
I think each chapter I post, I'm going to dedicate it to the person who gave my favourite review for the previous one. Yessup.
I'm sorry if this chapter wasn't too good...i've never written a scene like that before:\
Smilin_TJ : I'd like to think 3/4's of the way, yes, BUT, my estimating skills are terrible, I thought it would take like two/three chapters from the beach scene to get here - and it obviously took a lot more...
PS. You guys scare me.
PPS. I love you long time.