Chapter 31 - Meant to be
CHAPTER 31 - MEANT TO BE
When I woke up, my smile was still there. I couldn't even believe it. Is it real? Am I seriously in a relationship? With Eric Rivers even! Only weeks ago I would have shivered at the thought of time alone with him, now ... well, now I could only think of those precious secluded moments with him. Nothing more.
As I smiled, staring at the ceiling, awake just a minute at 7 am on Saturday morning (yes, Saturday morning!), my phone buzzed. My smile obviously widened, because I knew, just by instinct, who it was.
Good morning, princess. Hope you had pleasant dreams.
Giggling to myself, I rolled over, burying my face in the pillow, phone in hand, as I kept smiling like an idiot, too happy to even care about anything. And you know what's odd? I had no idea why was I so happy. I just was, and something inside me suggested this feeling wouldn't expire so soon. At least I hope so.
When mom entered my room, clothes in her arms, I barely noticed, as I was typing a response to Eric, to my boyfriend, to be precise. My boyfriend. Wow. Sounds so cool. Eric Rivers is my boyfriend. If I could shout it to the world, I would, but we have to keep the secret for a while, which I don't mind at all.
Actually, I find it enthralling. My fangirl mind was already picturing him grabbing me out of the blue and dragging me to a secluded place where no one could see us, just to ... well, do couple things. Yeah, yeah, I know, I sound a little pathetic, but who cares. I'm too happy right now to even think of how do I sound. I'm just on cloud nine and I plan on staying here for a long while.
When mom saw me lying on my bed, eyes open, phone in my hands, she frowned, clearly surprised. "Now, this must be the end of the world. My daughter awake so early! On a Saturday even!" She mulled.
I rolled my eyes, although giggling, especially as my phone buzzed again in my hands. My response to Eric had been kind of a cheesy one: very pleasant, thank you. I dreamed of my prince. Which is true, I did dream of him, better said, of us. I kind of relived our moments of yesterday, but while in reality we parted, in my dream we remained there, me in his arms, forever. Cheesy, I know, I know. So his reply couldn't be anything but the same: I'm flattered. I wish I'd been there to cuddle you ...
I blushed at that. Not because he'd implied ... something more, but just at the thought of having him in my bed cuddling me. Just cuddling me.
My ... it's going all so fast! My head is in a complete turmoil! And yet there's this certainty. This feeling ... that all of this, for how unsettling and maybe scary, it's right. It is right, because all of a sudden it all makes sense. All of those conflicted emotions, my dreams, my tangled thoughts ... I was simply fighting my feelings, wasn't I? It was my system fighting back not to let the lethal poison that feelings are infect me.
Well, I surrender now. I like Eric Rivers. I like spending my time with him. I feel attracted to him. I like it when he kisses me so passionately. I like it when his hands are on me, causing all of a range of new and odd emotions that make me feel lightheaded and dizzy and hazy. I like it. I like that I can call Eric my boyfriend.
Mom sat down beside me, smiling tenderly. "Ah ... the first relationship. All so new and perfect, isn't it?" She said in a dreamy voice.
I inhaled deeply, sitting up. "It's all so fast. I feel a little dizzy." She arched an eyebrow at me as I said that, and I knew what she implied, so I grinned, even if blushing a little because of what she'd silently suggested.
"No, mom, don't worry. I didn't mean fast in that sense. We have ... merely kissed, nothing more. I explained and her features relaxed a little, but then she eyed that little thing on my neck, the one that yesterday I was able to hide all day and Aisha, when she came over to help me get ready for my date with Kyle, hid underneath her foulard. But now, of course, I was wearing only my PJ ...
"Merely kissed?" Mom repeated, now disbelieving, frowning as she stared at that spot.
Unconsciously, my hand reached for it and grazed it, a smile erupting on my lips without my will. "Oh, uh ... yeah, this ... um ... it wasn't ..." I had no idea how to explain actually, but I wanted to, just not to make it look like we'd just started dating and I was already allowing my boyfriend to touch risky zones, something she's always warned me about, always because of that simple thing about her getting pregnant because she'd trusted my biological father too easily and too soon.
Not that she shouldn't have, but because she trusted him and loved him, she was fooled by the belief that he'd be keen on facing the thing with her. Turns out that no, he wasn't. He was just an immature child scared to death of commitment.
In the end, mom couldn't keep the grin anymore, so it erupted, brightening her already beautiful face. "I trust my daughter to be enough responsible." She said. "I don't trust this boy. I know his reputation and I am not so keen on turning a blind eye on it, but ..." She sighed. "I trust your judgment and if you say you can trust him, then I believe you. I won't ask to meet him so soon only because I don't want to embarrass you, but, will this relationship, and I hope so, if that's what you want, last more than two weeks, then you can scream and shout and pull your hair and everything, but I will want your boyfriend here for dinner and we'll talk about you and his intentions with you. Understood?" I blushed at the thought, but nodded, conscious that she only wanted my own good.
Mom grinned, then patted on my leg from above the blanket. "Good. I am going to work now. Sophie called and asked if you needed this Saturday off too. I said I wanted to ask you first ..."
She trailed off so I picked up on her assumptions and shook my head. For as much as I'd like to spend my Saturday with my boyfriend, duties come first, right? Besides ... we might have to keep the secret, but nobody forbids him to drop by Sophie's while I'm working ... right?
Case in point. When this morning I told Eric I had to work, he said it was a bummer, but it didn't waste his plans. Said he was free all day and had this impellent need of drinking his green tea, so much green tea ... in fact, I had barely arrived at work since an hour when my prince charming entered from that door, making me blush and almost sear a client with black coffee as his lips twitched into a lovely smile once he saw me.
Of course, we have to keep pretending. So he can't be different with me. People know him for being rude and hostile with everybody, certainly he couldn't just be that with everyone but me, could he? So he went to take his usual place in the corner booth and once I'd served another client, I strolled to him.
"Hi, I'm Natalie. What can I get you?" I asked, using my standard phrase and trying hard not to smile.
Eric kept his stern expression, but, now as ever, he did struggle not to smile too. "Green tea." He answered, voice harsh to whoever, but to me, it sounded like he did his best to keep it that way. Honestly, I am not sure why should we pretend, I mean, who would want to put a stoke in our wheel? But, if he says so, he must have a reason, so I'll just comply.
In a few minutes I was back to him, but the café was pretty full, so I couldn't even use the excuse of us having to adjust our fairy tale for the recital in two months to sit with him. Therefore I just went to and fro from a table to another, Sophie helping me as much as she could.
"Maybe I should hire somebody else." She suggested as she took a break in one of the easy moments as I was grabbing a muffin for a girl sitting at the counter.
I turned to my employer and nodded. "Yeah, it might be useful." I agreed, already tired, and she nodded.
"Great. I need a job actually." I heard a male voice inject from the other side of the counter. When I spun around, I found exactly who I expected and, believe me, I had to almost bite my lips not to grin.
Eric stood there, a pretty insolent smirk on his face, gazing at me with a mischievous glint in his blue eyes that normally would have scared me and to anyone it might have looked bad, but to me ... I knew he was offering only because then he could be closer to me.
It's odd how now it seems so clear why did he act so oddly these weeks with me, why did I have his eyes on me so much, why did he appear everywhere I looked ...
Looking in between us, Sophie grinned, I bet reading in between the lines. She placed her hands on her hips, looking around then sighing. "I guess you're free today, so you start now. Natalie, show him the tools and everything. I'll take care of your clients."
I nodded, trying hard to keep the smile, then waved at Eric to reach me behind the counter as I grabbed an apron for him. Just as we headed in the back, Sophie called: "Your break lasts no more than five minutes. Enough to show him around, right?"
I lowered my head, just not to be seen blushing. It's incredible how perceptive my employer is, I swear. Sometimes I think she's got some kind of sixth sense or so, but after all, since the very first time Eric came here she implied he was more than a friend ... maybe she's soothsayer too.
I giggled when, just as we'd reached the kitchen, I obviously found myself in my boyfriend's arms, which encircled my waist as he crashed his lips on mine. It was all so intense and sudden that my back hit the kitchen counter behind me and we made some noise as the stoves moved a little, but we didn't mind, especially not as, as naturally as ever, I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, deepening the kiss as much as I could. I'm trying to both learn and keep up with his experienced rhythm, in case you hadn't noticed.
"Now, this is the good morning I wanted to give you when I arrived." Eric commented once his lips left mine.
I grinned, pecking them. "Well, belated good morning then." I joked and he smiled, pecking my lips.
It's odd. Really. Because it all seems so right and natural and easy. Like we were supposed to turn out like this since the beginning. We just delayed the moment ... of like ... eight years. Well, ok, maybe eight years ago we wouldn't have been having a steamy make out session in the kitchen of a café, with people out there swarming and eating and drinking, but ... well, you get the sense, don't you? Besides, you can't expect me to reason when I have my bad boy literally taking my breath away with his kisses and caresses.
Too bad Sophie summoned us exactly after five minutes, so we headed back, although I exploited my having to explain to the new employee how the coffee machine and all the tools work to be a little close to my boyfriend, even if without being able to touch him or anything.
In the end, working was better than usual. Yes, I did notice some female clients ogling my boyfriend, yes, I did nearly dig my nails in my hands as I experienced this new emotion called jealousy as they tried to flirt with him when he served them, but I also noticed how did he reject every single one of their attempts. Maybe because his girlfriend was right there, or maybe simply because he didn't care about other girls. He cared about me. Because I am all that he wants.
Considering there were two of us, better said, that there was a gentle knight to guard my back in case anything happened, Sophie let me close the shop for once without her. So when she saluted us, saying her daughter would arrive tonight and she needed to prepare a delicious dinner for her and her husband and two kids, Eric and I remained alone, me sweeping the floor, him cleaning the counter.
"You're surprisingly good at this." I couldn't help but comment as I glanced at him from the corner of my eyes.
Eric half smiled as he passed the cloth on the counter one last time. "I know it might surpise you, but I know what working means, princess."
I smiled at the nickname, but looked up at him to see what he meant.
"I have worked part time in a pub on freshman year." He explained and I nodded, returning to my task.
Not much passed before I felt Eric's arms around me, him placing a lingering kiss on my cheek, which made me giggle and him smile.
"I'm surprised you're not freaking out." He commented mockingly as he placed another kiss on my skin, but this time a little lower, his arms better wrapping me up.
I turned to look at him, a bit confused, but he took the chance to lock lips with me once more, silencing me for a moment, before letting me breathe again.
"I mean, I am not exactly known for being so ... um ... expansive." I giggled as he said that, shaking my head.
"To the world you're all but that, I know. But if you're asking if I feel awkward having you hug me and cuddle me like this, no, I don't. If anything, it's awkward that it feels so natural." I retorted, my eyes traveling from his to his lips as I still had the broom in my hands, only my head was turned to him of course, but I felt his hard chest on my back and, tell you what, it felt perfect.
"I mean ... it feels right. Like we were meant to be like this. We just ... delayed it."
I couldn't help but grin widely as she said that. We were meant to be like this. It feels right for her to be in my arms because we were supposed to be like this. My God ... if only she knew how my silly heart was interpreting that right now. If only she knew how I craved to tell her those three magic words right now ...
I love you. That's all I could think of as I gazed into her hazel eyes, and I craved to tell her, but of course, I couldn't. Not right now. It felt incredibly good to be able to cuddle her like that, but we've just started, this was just the second day of our relationship, I couldn't just come up and say those words, could I?
Knowing her, she'd freak out. Maybe not run away, but she'd definitely be scared. For now I am flattered and content enough to at least know she likes me and wants to be with me. At least that.
It won't be easy. If the wrong people come to know, they'll more than put a stoke in our wheels. If the wrong people, if he comes to know, Heaven will become Hell in the blink of an eye, but I trust in uncle Sam.
He told me that we're closing in. In a matter of months we might be able to pull off what we've been working on since three years already. By the time school ends I might be able to put everything behind me, all my crappy life, and finally reach out for the future I've always dreamed of.
No, nothing about becoming this or that, no. As pathetic as it sounds, the future I've always dreamed of was partly becoming real: me and my Natalie together. That's all I want and need. I don't care where or how, I just want and need to be with her. Just that.
As she watched me intently, her eyes traveling from mine to my lips, I pressed mine on hers, eager to feel the delicate taste of those pinkies, which resembled peach actually, and I highly doubt it's her Chapstick. Now that I'm so close to her, I can tell her hazel eyes shine of a brighter light I've never seen.
I can better smell that delicious and unique vanilla and raspberry scent that I could find nowhere else, because it's mixed with something else, like ... old books. Yeah, for a book nerd like her, that's the perfect scent. Even though, there isn't one. She just smells like that ... I bet from being constantly surrounded by those.
Now that I'm so close I can feel her soft curves that have been driving me insane since years. I can feel her soft skin. But even better, I can kiss those plump lips of hers. And that I was doing, believe me, with very much pleasure. Even more as I heard her moan in my mouth.
When she gripped my arms, kind of stopping me, the broomstick falling on the ground, I realized I'd got carried away, because my hands were beneath her hoodie, I was directly touching that soft skin and while I was fully enjoying it, she was probably taken off guard and maybe even freaked out, so I pulled back, also to breathe, and slowly retrieved my hands, but keeping them in between her skin and the stuff of her clothes. Just because I had to feel her underneath my fingertips.
"Sorry, I got carried away." I justified, lips almost brushing hers. I could feel her heart beating fast, her breaths erratic, but her smile was unfaltering on her lips, clear sign that while she was taken off guard, she didn't really mind my touch.
She pecked my lips and inhaled deeply before speaking, my arms better gripping her as her hands gripped my forearms, like asking me do to exactly that.
"I know you'll want it soon." She said lowly, eyes half closed. "But I have to ask you to wait. I ... I-I am not ready for that ... yet."
For a moment I frowned, but then smiled, knowing what she meant. Spinning her around, I enclosed her better in my arms, taking her breath away with a lingering and maybe hungry kiss before replying: "I can wait how long you want, princess." I assured her softly, grazing her neck, my forehead resting on hers. "I can wait a whole eternity. I just need to be this close to you. Nothing else matters."
a/n: yes,cheesy is the key word in these chapters,in case you hadn't noticed :P let me know what you think ;)