The Rose Collection (18+)

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06 | sweet serenade (F)

My next door neighbor slash friend, Ezra, invited me to hang back in his dorm room since neither of us had any lectures for the rest of the day. Like any other time, I accepted with a wide smile.

Spending time with him became my favorite thing to do, aside from journaling to my mother and writing letters to my grandfather back at home.

The two of us had met in the most unconventional way. It was around 10:30 pm, during the first week of living on campus. I’d been in my room reading a book and It wasn’t until I heard crying through the paper thing walls of the building that I snapped out of my zone and went to investigate.

It was Ezra. Just the way we all do at some point, he was fighting some inner demons, but geez, was he the biggest jerk when he opened the door up to me that night.

Clearly that didn’t last long, but every time I think about that story I can’t help but smile. I helped him through that night and he later helped me jump some difficult hurdles of my own. Since then we’d been each other’s safe place and soon, happy place...

Together, it was effortless. We had endless conversations about just anything and everything.

Our most recent topic: colors.

"Umm, I'd have to go with purple," I answered.

Ezra cocked his head to the side, looking at me questionably. "You don't own a thing that's purple."

"And you said your favorite color is red but yet I see nothing around here that's red. You don't even own a red t-shirt."

"Touché," he said, swiveling around in his computer chair.

I sat in the center of his bed, munching on a bag of Doritos.

"Are you going to finish that whole thing? It says family size, yet you haven't shared with anyone but yourself,” he asked, eyeing the bag in my hands.

"If you want some, come get some," I teased, sticking out my tongue.

Like a loaded spring, he popped up out of his chair and walked over to the bed, leaning over it in front of my face.

"Feed me."

"What are you, three?"

"Precisely."

"Are you serious?"

"Deadly."

"Ezra, I'm not feeding you."

"Simone, I'm hungry!"

When I denied him, he lightly bumped my forehead with his own. An actual child.

"Will you leave me be if I do?"

"Of course not."

"You make me crazy."

"And you drive me insane, but you know this already."

I placed my hand in the bag to get a chip for him so he could stop pouting, and popped it into his mouth.

*crunch!*

He paused. "I want more."

This time I was grabbing chips for myself when Ezra took my hand with the chip that was partially in my mouth and brought it to his lips. Keeping his eyes on mine, he bit down before releasing me with a smirk.

"Delicious." He returned back to his chair like nothing ever happened.

Did he just-

"Do you wanna watch a movie? We might have to get more snacks because those chips won't last through the opening credits."

He spoke with his back to me as he skimmed along some titles on his shelf.

I rolled my eyes. "Sure."

After dusting my hands off on my jeans, I set the bag on the floor near the bed, but as I tucked it out of the way I felt something hard graze my hand. Curious as to what it was, I tugged on the object freeing it from underneath the bed.

It was Ezra's guitar.

"Ezra?"

He spun around in his chair facing me and his eyes went straight for the guitar. He never wanted me to find it, but I did and it was a complete accident.

"How about we put the movie on the back-burner and you play something for me?"

He once again made his way over to the bed and sat on the edge, reaching for the guitar.

I hesitated, but ultimately handed it over with pleading eyes. His fingers flew over the strings as he pondered whether to play it or not.

"Just one song?"

He cracked a half smile. "For you."

I sat with a childish grin on my face in anticipation as he tuned the guitar until he liked the sound. He brushed his fingers along the strings and I instantly recognized the beautiful opening to All Of Me by John Legend.

It certainly wasn't what I was expecting, but my heart was racing.

"What would I do without your smart mouth,

Drawing me in, and you kickin' me out...

Got my head spinnin, no kiddin, I can't pin you down"

Once his smooth alto voice hit my ears, I was hypnotized.

"'Cause all of me loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me, I'll give my all to you

You're my end and my beginnin'

Even when I lose I'm winnin'

Cause I give you all of me...

And you give me all of you..."

His voice was soft and caressed every note and every lyric that he sung. It rippled with warmth and confidence and if that wasn't enough to make a girl swoon then welp! I don't know what would.

"Cards on the table, we're both showing hearts

Risking it all, though it's hard...."

Ezra ceased and I applauded, whooping and hollering loud enough for 30 other people. He sat the guitar across his lap so that his arms rested over the base and dipped his head; I assumed he was a little shy.

"Ezra! I didn't know you could sing, and so well!"

He looked at me underneath the inky black hair that now covered his eyes. "It was nothing special."

"Don't be modest. It was beautiful."

"...thank you. It's been a while."

"What made you choose that song?" I asked, moving to the edge of the bed so we were a bit closer.

He smiled. "It was the first song I learned how to play, really. It's also my mother's favorite."

"Aw, that's sweet."

"She and my father's first dance as newlyweds was to this very song."

"Really?"

"Yup and I hope to dance to this song one day at my own wedding."

"You want to get married?"

"Of course." He answered credulously. "Obviously not for a while, but yeah I'd like to... you?"

I paused for a moment not really knowing how to answer. Honestly, I never thought about marriage and I've never thought too hard about falling in love. Hell, I've never even had a boyfriend. It'd always been me and my books until Ezra.

"Um... yeah?"

"Are you asking me?" He chuckled.

"I mean, I think I'd like to. You know, if I find the right person." I tried to smile away my conflicted feelings.

Ezra took my hand and lightly stroked the back of it with his fingertips.

"Any guy would be lucky to be bound to you for life."

His touch was innocent, yet it had affected me on a level beyond that.

"A guy who's ready for that will need to have a degree in Crazy," I said, brushing off the comment along with his hand.

"A degree in Crazy you say? That's coincidentally what I'm majoring in," he said.

I nudged him teasingly with my shoulder. "Oh, Walker, you couldn't handle me."

Ezra turned his head and looked at me, eyes brimmed with fervor.

"Is that a challenge, Miss Morgan?" He asked, encircling my waist with his large, veiny hands.

"I- no. It's not-"

"Judging by your flustered reaction to my touch, it appears that you can't handle me."

"Get over yourself. You just caught me off guard."

I tried prying his hands off of my waist, but they wouldn't budge.

"Now, let's say this was a challenge, Simone..."

He'd gotten so close to me that I could feel his breath fan against my ear with every word he hummed.

"If I won, you'd be mine."

I turned away, biting my lip to suppress an involuntary moan that was threatening to escape my mouth. The thought of being his...

I've experienced what a hot night was like with him, and I certainly wouldn't object to a repeat performance of his mouth on my body, but right now I couldn't give him the satisfaction. I didn't need his ego to become as big as his head.

"Look at me, sweetheart."

"No."

"Simone. I won't ask again."

"I don't believe you asked the first time."

His tongue quickly swiped his bottom lip.

"Do you want to get bent over my lap?"

Maybe.

I don't know where this domineering man was hidden, but I didn't exactly dislike him. In reality, surprising myself, I was really turned on. I slowly pivoted my head back in his direction.

So much for will.

"Good girl."

He kept one hand on my waist while the other wandered to the side of my face, titling my head upward ever so slightly so that my eyes were locked on his.

"Say yes."

His deep brown orbs were fixed on me, anticipating my next move. I didn't dare look away from him. I couldn't. A part of me was already attached to him, even if I were to say otherwise.

"Yes."

"Challenge accepted. Now, how about we start that movie?”

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