Chapter 1: Just The Beginning
Claire grimaced as she looked at her pale reflection in the mirror. Her hair fell lanky and matted around her face. Her nose was taking on a pink and red tinge. She dragged herself out of the bathroom, still dressed in her tank top and cotton pyjama shorts. They were Shane's favourite because they were soft and had little white clouds on them.
She crawled beneath the covers of her bed, shivering. Claire curled up in a tight ball, clutching her queasy stomach. She didn't even hear Shane enter the room; she only looked up when he settled himself cautiously on the edge of her bed. "Hey." His voice was quiet and smooth, and he hadn't combed his wild bed-head down. Claire didn't mind though, in fact she quite liked his hair that way, he always looked beautiful to her. She gazed up into his large brown eyes and smiled
"Hi." Claire was taken aback by how hoarse her voice was. Shane noticed this.
"You don't look well. You're staying home." He said confidently.
"No!" She protested. Claire tried to sit up but Shane immediately pushed her shoulders back down onto the mattress and held her there with his muscular hands.
"No arguments. You look like hell." He stroked her cheek and moved a piece of hair from her face to tuck it gently behind her ear. Claire moaned and hid her face in the duvet. "Do you want anything?"
"I want a lot of things, Shane."
He chuckled. "You always do." And in that moment he climbed into her bed and slid his strong arms around her. Instant warmth. "You're freezing." His warm breath on her neck made her shiver in delight. Claire moaned and nuzzled her face into Shane's chest. His fingers trailed down her spine. "You're wearing my favourite pyjamas. It's like you planned on being sick today."
"Well, somehow, my other pyjamas shrunk in the wash."
"I wonder how that happened." Shane flashed his cocky grin at her, when she looked up he kissed her passionately on the lips. It made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
"I'm sick, Shane. You'll catch it." Shane simply shrugged in reply and held her closer, but gently, as if she might shatter into a thousand tiny pieces any second. She laid her head on his chest and closed her eyes, soon enough she was sound asleep.
Claire woke up alone. She sleepily opened her eyes to the blinding sunlight creeping in from the slender gap in the curtains. She rubbed her eyes and sat up, wincing at the pain in her chest and neck. After sliding out of bed she pulled on the white, fluffy dressing gown that Shane had bought her for her birthday, along with a matching pair of slipper socks, with little pink bunny heads on the sides. Claire made her way to the door, opening it only slightly to peak out at the empty hallway. She looked around her room with a look of confusion upon her face. Then she spotted a yellow sticky-note stuck on her bedside lamp. She pulled it off and read it.
You looked so peaceful, didn't want to disturb you.
Gone to play video games.
Claire let a smile tug at the corners of her mouth, looking at Shane's scrawny handwriting with little hearts over the I's that he only did for her. She re-opened her bedroom door and made her way out into the hall, silently. Eve was at work at Common Grounds and Michael had found a job at Amelie's office, he hadn't said exactly what it was he did there, but it must have been important because he came back with a broad smile across his angelic face, the day he had told them. She sat down, halfway down the stairs, watching Shane kill zombies on his video game. The smile stayed on her pale face, even watching him violently kill zombies with machine guns made her heart flutter. The step on which she sat creaked under her as she shifted her by Deal Top" style="z-index: 2147483647;"> weight, Shane immediately paused his game and turned to luck at her.
"Afternoon, sleeping beauty." He said, smiling at her through the bars of the stairs. She stood up and he winced sarcastically at her appearance. "Maybe not so much the beauty."
Claire rolled her eyes, descended the last of the steps and made her way over to the couch. Shane's gaze followed her as she moved, and when she got close enough, he grabbed the belt of the dressing gown and pulled her down onto the couch. Shane cradled Claire in his arms in a way that made her want to say there for eternity. He kissed the tender skin of her neck and stroked her hair gently. "How are you feeling?"
"Better... Kind of." Claire whispered in reply.
"Kind of?" The leather of the couch creaked as Shane carefully shifted himself and Claire to a more comfortable position.
"Well I missed some classes today." Claire murmured.
"You and those classes." Shane tutted and turned off his game console. "Do you want a drink or something? I could make chili?"
Claire nodded. "Chili sounds good." She smiled and sat up just enough to let him slide off the couch and pad down towards the kitchen in his sock feet.
"Michael and Eve are going out tonight, they won't be back until late. They're going to watch a movie and go to dinner or something." Shane called from behind the closed kitchen door. "They told me to tell you."
"Okay. I'm going to get dressed." She stood up and jumped a little as Shane opened the kitchen door with a loud bang.
"You're not going out." He warned in a matter-of-factly kind of way.
"No, I know that you'd never let me. I'm going to put something warmer on." Which by Deal Top" style="z-index: 2147483647;"> earned Claire a disappointed moan from Shane.
"But I like those pyjamas." He stuck out his bottom lip and did his irresistibly adorable puppy-dog eyes.
Claire simply shrugged and headed upstairs to shower and change.
Twenty minutes passed.
The shower felt good, it seemed to give Claire back her lost energy, although she still felt a little groggy. She pulled on a pair of black sweat pants and a too-large T-shirt with a faded rose on it and her slipper socks. She padded down the stairs and was instantly hit with a strong smell of Shane's famous chili. She pushed open the kitchen door and lent against the door frame, crossing her arms over her chest. Shane was busy chopping unions to put into the pot and didn't notice her standing there. Claire smiled and continued to gaze at her boyfriend, she watched the muscles on his back tense and relax with every chop of the knife. She took her time to notice every detail about him, the way the ends of his shaggy hair brushed his shoulders, how familiar he was with making the chili that it had become his second nature and the instant smile that spread across his tanned face when he turned and saw her watching him.
"Hungry?" He asked, flashing her the smile he only gave her.
"Mm hmm." She nodded and stepped forward, letting the kitchen door swing shut.
Shane's hands slid onto her hips and pulled her closer. Their bodies seemed to fit together perfectly like two jigsaw pieces. Claire being a fair bit shorter than Shane meant that his chin only just brushed the top of her head. He pulled back a little and bent down to kiss her. It seemed like it was only intended to be a short kiss, but it soon turned into something more. Claire was hungry, not only for chili, but for Shane too. She ran her fingers through his soft hair and he picked her up, sitting her on the kitchen counter. Shane broke the kiss way too soon, Claire let a whimper escape her lips and Shane pressed his index finger to them. "Shhh. Call that a down payment for later." He smiled at her cockily and winked before going to the stove to serve up the piping-hot chili.
Claire sat curled up on the couch in Shane's arms as they both ate. The chili made her feel a lot better, it warmed her from the inside and the body head from being so close to Shane kept her warm on the outside. They stayed curled in each others arms for hours, talking, joking, laughing and Claire even attempted a few games of Zombie Killer 2, which she promptly lost.
At around 11 o'clock, Michael and Eve returned, their arms around each other as they walked into the living room. Claire had her head in Shane's lap while Shane stroked her hair like he always did. Claire looked up at Michael and Eve and smiled. "Hey. Have fun?"
"Yeah." Eve replied. Michael nodded. "Michael is such a sweetheart, he took me to watch that new romance movie and then out for the best dinner."
Michael grinned and kissed her hand. "I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, Mrs Glass." Michael motioned to Claire and Shane that he was going up to his room, and after re-appearing from the kitchen with a mug of coffee, Eve went upstairs too.
"Just me and you." Shane whispered.
"It's been that way all day." Claire replied, a little confused.
"Yeah, but now it's night-time." Which made Claire giggle.
"What happened to keeping your word?" Claire asked.
Shane chuckled and scooped her up in a princess carry. Claire rested her head on Shane's chest as, much to her surprise, Shane took her into his room. He lowered her onto his mattress and walked around to the other side of the bed and slid in, pulling the covers over them both and wrapping his arms around Claire's waist. Almost instantly, Claire fell asleep, feeling safe, warm and protected.