Destructively Oblivious

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Chapter 19: Raspberry

rasp·ber·ry

/ˈrazˌberē,ˈrazˌb(ə)rē/

noun

1. a soft, tasty fruit that consists of a cluster of druplets; can be used to alter the way things smell.

______________________________________

*Asher’s Point of View*

“Fuck off, Asher! God!”

A laugh broke free from my lips when I heard Dolphin yell at me after my fifteenth plea for her to hurry the hell up.

Danny chuckled next to me after the harsh sound of her voice hit his ears, and he shifted to me. “You sure have had an impact on her personality.”

Andy, with a smile, swung his head from side to side with amusement. “You’ve turned her into one of us.”

He bowed down, kissing Jamie’s nose half a second later.

We were going to a New Years’ party tonight. Or at least that’s what I got ready for. With how long it was taking Chloe, you’d assume we were going to the Grammy’s.

While my friends continued their friendly banter, the only thing on my mind was the memory of waking up next to Dol that morning, not to mention her falling asleep beside me the night prior. She drifted off almost the moment she’d surrendered to my need to hold her. She was soft against me and incredibly warm, and I knew in that very moment that nothing compared to having Chloe in my arms.

I’d never been one for cuddling, but I assumed the feeling I was having last night was the reason people were so fond of it. She woke up before me, per usual, but didn’t leave my room, or my bed. She didn’t pull her usual tactics, going downstairs to make coffee.

I awoke to her head on my chest, the smell of raspberry wafting from her shampoo (the one I regularly misused thinking it was my own), her fingers dancing along the skin on my arm. My heart seemed to begin negotiating with me over when to beat next.

I cleared my throat, putting the memory of her in my bed behind me as I moved towards the bottom of the stairs and called up to her slow-ass once again.

“We were supposed to leave fifteen minutes ago, Dol. You look beautiful, now get your ass in gear!” I yelled towards her, pausing to assess the damage I’d done by granting her the compliment in front of our friends, who all cast me a similar, confused glance.

Chloe’s voice was softer this time, less annoyed, and came from right around the corner at the top of the stairs. “You haven’t even seen me yet. How would you know that?”

Locking eyes with Danny a few feet away, he furrowed his eyebrows at me, probably reminiscing about the hour-long intervention that he’d organized to counsel me out of my crush. I disengaged my eyes from him, staring up towards where Dol’s voice came from.

“Safe to assume,” I replied.

Finally, finally, I heard her heels at the top of the stairs. She rounded the corner and I gaped at her, struggling to close my mouth before anyone could see nor scold me for it. Clad in some strapless dress, the remarkably tight, short, red fabric did what it needed to turn on the majority of the male population, myself included.

Jamie screamed something about how good she looked, receiving a bright smile from Chloe, who had initially looked nervous when she’d bounded around the corner. She had nothing to be nervous about when it came to appearances. I already knew she looked better than 100% of the party.

I stood there, motionless, watching her ache with a beauty that made my stomach plummet a hundred stories.

Regaining control of my mouth and lungs, I held out my elbow when she reached the bottom and she grasped it, her eyes crinkling with amusement.

“Beauty takes time, Ash,” she asserted gently.

I shook my head at the epitome of allure that clung to my arm. “Congratulations. You clean up well.”

She delivered me a gracious smile, glimpsing down at herself. “You really think so?”

A frown pulled all my features downward. “That’s a stupid fucking question,” I told her with a sudden laugh. “You know you’re gorgeous.”

She looked away from my gaze, a smile turning up the corners of her mouth. The more she tried to hide the expression, the more her happiness seemed to grow. I grinned, amused, then reached out and plucked my leather jacket from the hook, heading out to the car. Sitting in the seat next to her, I plopped the coat onto her lap, watching her smile resurface. She knew as well as I did she’d be cold within the hour.

*Chloe’s Point of View*

Feeling the buzz of my phone on my lap, I watched Jamie’s text notification pop onto my screen. Despite there being an extra seat in the front of the car between Danny and Blake, she was illegally relaxing on Andy’s lap in the back. Wondering why she couldn’t say what she needed to aloud, considering I was sitting right beside her, I picked up the device.

Jamster: You look HOT.

ChlHoe: Gracías. As do you.

Jamster: How are you feeling? Sorry again for the concert. I’m surprised my mom even let me out of the house for this party.

ChlHoe: It’s okay. I’m feeling much better. And I called Tate.

Jamster: Oh, thank goodness. I was beginning to fear I’d have to call him myself. And how was the concert? Because I cried myself to sleep last night thinking about it.

ChlHoe: As amazing as I expected it to be. You really missed out. Like really.

Jamster: God, don’t rub it in. Did you go with Asher?

ChlHoe: Yes sir’ee

Jamster: Please never say that ever again. Did he have fun?

ChlHoe: I think so. He seemed like he did. He said that it was his first concert.

Jamster: His first concert?! What a loser.

I glanced up from my phone to give her a stern look, then back at the screen.

ChlHoe: Don’t be mean...

Jamster: Sorry, I forgot how defensive you were over your boyfriend.

ChlHoe: Casual friend*.

Jamster: Casual as in casually in a relationship? Speaking of which, have you finally hopped on?

ChlHoe: What does that even mean?

Jamster: Slept together, C. Have you finally put your differences aside and snuggled beneath the sheets? (Differences meaning stubbornness).

ChlHoe: I mean... technically yes...

As I was typing out the ‘we slept in the same bed’ response, the loud gasp that escaped Jamie was enough to steal my attention away from my phone. If the gasp didn’t bring every pair of eyes over to my best friend, her exclaiming, “What do you mean you technically slept with him?” definitely did.

With full eyes and an agape mouth, I peered over, watching her slap a hand over her mouth as she came to the realization of what she had done. The car fell into a heated silence, whatever conversation the guys had been having ending immediately. I flinched away, feeling almost physically pained by the reaction of the car, praying that the ground would open up and swallow me whole.

I flung my phone back onto my lap and whipped my head in the direction of the girl to my left. Through clenched teeth and what I’m sure was a horribly red face, I sputtered, “I meant we slept in the same bed...”

Andy let out a chuckle next to me, his glances cast with unmistakable amusement. “Ohhh, Chloe, what have you been up to-”

“Shut up, Andy!” I whined, not knowing who I wanted to kill more, Jamie or myself. I was radiating heat like a hot pan, soaking in the cruel humiliation. The back of my hand on my cheek, studying how my embarrassment had affected my rising body temperature, I reinstated my previous statement, simultaneously wondering why the Universe hated me.

Blake turned around, a grin spreading across his face. “Who’s the lucky guy?”

Debating whether to admit it was Asher or keep it to myself and not sure which was worse, I stayed silent, my gaze plummeting downward to avoid the confrontation.

Annoyed, but not the least bit ashamed, my roommate’s voice pinned the air. Asher’s eyebrows knitted together and his tone dropped as he mumbled, “I assume you were talking about me?”

Though no wounds on my body, I felt discomfort from the topic, my mortification traveling bone-deep. But besides everyone’s initial shock of Jamie’s statement, I had no real reason to be so uncomfortable with the situation and, regardless of how my breath felt like it was trapped somewhere in my body, I ground my molars together, trying to at least look as confident as possible.

Sure that I looked about as confident as Courage the Cowardly Dog, a smirk caught the corner of my mouth. “Yes, I bunked with Asher last night. And it was my idea too. Comments?”

A silent conversation was exchanged between the members of the car before they all shrugged like it was no big deal, and I exhaled, grateful the conversation was over. By the time we got there, it was forgotten as well, and my face had almost returned to its normal color. Almost.

Asher and I made our way into the party, arm in arm, and the number of people who found our closeness interesting was made apparent. I felt like every pair of eyes was on me as he and I made our way into the kitchen of the unfamiliar house. Whether he was used to it, didn’t care, or had one hell of a poker face, Asher remained unbothered by the attention.

Holding a red solo cup directly in front of my face, almost as if it was a consolation prize, his mouth fell open to give me the famous Asher-party-rules. In nothing short of defiance, I snagged the cup from his hand, repeating the rules to him before he could to me. “Don’t take any drinks from someone who isn’t you, got it. Thanks, Mom.”

Asher’s gaze worked its way over my face, loaded with unwavering pleasure. A voice behind me yanked me from our eye contact, and I flipped around.

“Chloe, hey!” Hayden looked me up and down, his eyes scanning each part of me that the dress highlighted. Smiling at his gesture, I could simultaneously feel the sharp prickle of disappointment, lacking a fluttery stomach, something I’d felt when I’d previously been given the same stare earlier in the night. “Wow... you look... wow...”

“Thank you,” I beamed. Asher murmured something behind me, setting his hand on the small of my back as he stepped in line with me.

“Hey, I’m going to go hang out. I’ll see you later. Don't get into trouble.” His eyes flickered swiftly towards Hayden, visibly narrowing before he turned on his heel. I nodded at his retreating figure, looking back over at my date.

“I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been bored out of my mind,” the blonde boy shared. I smiled as he held out his hand and led me out of the room. Weaving our way through the hot mess of bodies, he led me into the middle of them before grabbing me encouragingly.

I grinned as he pulled my hips against his, giggling and throwing my arms over his shoulders. He had me pinned close to him, his body operating against mine, his hands running over my waist. And as we moved together inside the giant mass of intoxicated teens, I couldn’t help but wonder if Asher was nearby.

______________________________________

*Asher’s Point of View*

As soon as I walked away from Chloe and Hayden, I thankfully located a couch in a somewhat empty room. I collapsed on said couch with a scowl, ready to sulk my way into the new year.

“What the hell’s your deal, man?” I heard someone around me say, and I was able to pull my attention off the couch fabric and look the person in the eyes — Andy.

I frowned, not that the expression was much different than what my mouth had already been frozen as.

“What?” I asked, wondering why he looked so pissed off. The frustration on his face told me our conversation was going to be trivial at best.

“You’re over here pouting like a bitch instead of just telling her how you feel,” he snapped, his tone devoid of any foul play. My pulse began thwacking like a drum roll at his bluntness.

“That’s what this is about?” I scoffed, my emotions pushing right past annoyed and slamming into furious. “You’re mad at me because of Chloe?”

He stood beside me, hovering like the devil on my shoulder. Or maybe he was the angel, and my own thoughts were the devil. “She likes you,” he said.

“She likes Hayden,” I said back.

His green eyes alighted with what I could only assume was the evil side of Andy, seeing I’d never witnessed him being as asshole-ish as he was right then. “And you like her, you jackass.”

I showed off my middle finger proudly, leaning backward on the couch and grumbling, “What does it even matter?”

Why did he have to mention the stupid crush in public? And so loudly, at that.

“Because you’re in deep shit and you know it. It’s killing you that she’s off with Hayden right now and not here with you.” Andy’s answer was honest and utterly true, but I shook my head, knowing I couldn’t admit it. I’d never been a fan of lying, especially not to myself, but lately, it seemed I fed myself untruths to maintain my own sanity, and I couldn’t stop now.

“It doesn’t matter to me if she’s with him. She can do what she’d like,” I lied again, feeling an emotion akin to dread that I wasn’t able to convince myself.

Andy was nowhere close to convinced either. “Really? It doesn’t bother you that they’re probably off in a dark corner right now, doing exactly what you want to be doing with her?” he snarked, and I instantly attempted to suffocate the visions of what he had said. The thought of Hayden’s hands anywhere near Dol nauseated me.

Rage gripped me quickly, holding on tight as my tone dipped into a growl. “Stop.”

Andy’s shoulders tightened, his stance proving he was ready for a challenge. “Imagining her screaming out his name doesn’t make you sick?”

I wanted to rip Andy’s head off. After another moment, I realized it was my own head I wanted gone. I couldn’t get the visuals out of my brain. My anger faded into a whine and I leaned forward, shoving my palms over my eyes.

“Shut up, Andy! Please, I can’t...” I breathed out, begging, unable to finish what I had been trying to say. “I can’t...”

There were multiple things I couldn’t do. I couldn’t keep thinking about the two of them together. I couldn’t be happy knowing they were doing God-knows-what. I couldn’t continue to ruin myself over a relationship that wasn’t mine. And most importantly, I couldn’t tell Dol how I felt, regardless of how many times Andy pushed me to. I just couldn’t.

Andy finally fell onto the couch beside me and, it appeared after seeing me in my psychotic state, he felt some sort of guilt. “I’m sorry, okay? I don’t like seeing you like this.”

Trying to ignore the thoughts of Hayden and Chloe that Andy had unburied, I laid my head against the back of the couch and sealed my eyes. “I don’t like feeling like this,” I whispered, unable to speak louder because I knew the words would only snag in my throat.

He sighed. “She should know that you feel this way. You owe it to yourself to tell her.”

I opened my eyes, asserting, “I can’t tell her how I feel!” I was right about my words getting caught; I sounded more like a pre-pubescent teenager than a man as I spoke. “You guys are right; I’d ruin her. She deserves to be happy.”

“And that means you don’t?” He tended forward to eye my reaction very carefully, but I didn’t respond right away. I didn’t know what to say.

I swallowed a while later. “I need a drink.”

I stood after that, eager to leave the room, the conversation, and the emotions within myself behind. Unfortunately, those feelings clung to me like they were covered in tar. They were unwavering and unavoidable.

I turned the corner at the end of the hallway at full speed, running headlong into the person standing around the corner. We collided and I heard the girl gasp as her drink hit the carpet. I neared an apology, but when she and I finally met gazes, my shoulders plummeted and my justification faded.

Upon realizing it was me, Olivia sent me an extensive smirk, winding a hand through her platinum hair. “Asher, long time no see.”

“Fortunately,” I grumbled, watching her grip the arm of the friend beside her, giving it a squeeze. Olivia’s accessory nodded briefly before scurrying around the corner in the direction I’d come from, out of sight, leaving us alone.

“It’s strange to see you without that little girlfriend of yours. Did she finally remove the handcuffs?” Olivia snarked, crossing her arms over her vacant chest.

A glower tugged at my features and I groused, “She is not my girlfriend.”

“Right, how could I forget? Asher Freed doesn’t date.” She paused like she was evaluating how angry I already looked before venturing in to piss me off more. “Plus, she seems to be pretty cozy with Hayden Larkin, or so I’ve seen. I guess your shiny new toy isn’t so shiny after all.” She chuckled.

I mentally cursed her, Hayden, and Andy for unknowingly teaming up to ruin the last day of my year. Usually, I would have been defensive over her comments, or even slightly fed up, but I was tired, sad, and would be spending New Years’ with no one by my side, which only reminded me how little I had to say.

“I don’t want to do this with you right now, Olivia.” I sighed, searching the hallway for an empty area to finish my sulking alone.

She frowned, puzzled that she was unable to press my buttons tonight. I began to walk past her, but she snagged my arm, forcing me to face her again. “What’s your problem?”

“Everything’s my problem and you’re quickly climbing the list,” I snapped. She jolted back slightly at my tone of voice.

“Mhh,” she sounded, her once amused expression melting into vexation. “And here I was going to ask you to join me in the bathroom for old times sake.”

She shifted to leave the hallway and I gripped onto her bicep, turning her back to face me. She smiled as if she’d won like she knew I was going to take her up on the offer. I smiled back, muttering, “The fact that I actually used to fuck you only proves I had nothing better to do.”

Her smile was gone when I whirled around to exit the hall.

*Chloe’s Point of View*

After an hour of being pressed together alongside the sweaty partiers, Hayden dragged me out into the backyard, the cold air of winter hastily hitting my skin. The jacket in my arms, the one Asher had appreciatively tossed on my lap in the car, had never felt better as I slipped myself into it.

Hayden led the two of us over to a swing seat, the itchy cushions cold as they came in contact with my legs. The view from the backyard was outstanding. My eyes drifted to the horizon; the sky was dark blue and the sharp prongs of bare trees had poked through the mountains. Hayden’s face split into a wide grin.

“Look at the mountains,” I awed, still smiling out at them.

His eyes never left my face. “I can see those anytime. I want to look at you while I can.”

My small smile grew from the sound of his words and I faced him. “Cheesy.”

“You are a hopeless romantic.” His grin was absurdly cute as he studied my reaction.

I tilted my head to the side, confusion tugging my lips into a pout. “So what does that make you?”

There was an endless amount of confidence in his tone when he responded, “Your knight in shining armor. And you’re the princess.”

I held back a frown at his honorable fairytale mention, my stomach turning from the thought of being anyone’s princess. Fairytales were boring and fake; I’d learned that a long time ago.

“I think I’ll stick to being the hopeless romantic,” I mumbled, struggling to maintain my lightheartedness.

Hayden smiled, unexpectedly drifting his hand to my hip, distracting me from my helpless feelings towards multiple children’s bedtime stories. It settled there and pulled me closer, and I inhaled sharply as it did.

Noticing how close we were, and not wanting to miss the opportunity, I leaned into him, our lips barely brushing together when the undoubtedly romantic moment was sucked away. The back door slammed open, a dark-haired teen I didn’t recognize stepping out from it.

“Hayden, you’re needed in the back. Your friend is puking all over the bathroom. It’s fuckin’ gross.” The guy made a guttural sound of disgust at the mental image of whatever was happening in that bathroom.

Hayden dipped his head in my direction, his eyes bouncing from me to the boy leaning against the doorjamb, silently making it obvious what he had been up to. “I’m a little busy.”

“It’s Garrett.”

Nose drawn up and wrinkled, he muttered a few words under his breath. Visibly annoyed at this so-called Garrett, he stood, turning to me with a constrained grin. “I have to take care of a friend. Do you mind staying here? It shouldn’t take long.”

Disappointed, I faked a smile and bobbed my head, taking a sip out of the red cup in my hand. “Of course, no problem.”

His hand slipped out of mine as he entered the house and I leaned back in the chair, sighing. After twenty minutes of waiting, my bored-out-of-my-mind self stood up and wandered into the house. I’d admired the view, I’d played every game on my phone, I’d even texted and asked multiple different people about how their break was going and he still hadn’t returned — I’d find him myself.

I fiddled my way through the crowd of people, trying my best to find just about anyone I knew. Unfortunately, most of the crowd members had a good couple of inches, if not feet, on me and I couldn’t look over any of their heads.

A majorly drunk person swung their arm over my shoulder and relief cushioned my lips with a half-smile when it was revealed to be Andy.

“Are you having fun?” he slurred, unquestionably intoxicated.

“I was, but I lost both Asher and Hayden.” My eyes snaked over the room of people again, hoping to spot one of the two.

Andy, who was trying to touch his tongue to his nose, let his grin widen at the mention of his best friend. “Oh, I know where Asher is. He chewed me out a while ago. He’s down there.” He pointed down a hall a few feet in front of us. Pausing for a single second, he pointed down the hallway directly next to it. “Or there. It was one of the two.”

A smile on my face, I glanced between the two hallways wondering if I could trust drunk Andy’s directions. I also momentarily wondered what he had meant when he said he’d gotten chewed out but decided I could probably get the details about that from Jamie later on. Andy was staring over his shoulder, pointing to a third hallway behind us. “Or maybe it was that one...”

I ducked out from under his arm, thanked him, and headed down one of the three hallways, outwardly sighing and visibly relaxing when I spotted Asher down the hall talking to a few partygoers. When his eyes landed on me, he excused himself and headed over.

“Asher! Have you seen Hayden?” I stared openly around the dark hallway, lit only by colorful bulbs of Christmas lights that weren’t taken down the week before. Hard to see anyone due to a lack of light, I was losing the hope of finding Hayden before the New Year arrived.

“No.” He shrugged, uninterested. “Why?”

“It’s almost midnight, that’s why.” He lowered a brow in confusion, and I rolled my eyes at his lack of Holiday knowledge. “New Years Kiss, Ash.”

He looked defeatedly bored as he mumbled, “Who cares?”

Shrugging, I scanned the area once again. “I care. I’ve never been kissed on New Years’.”

“If you want it that bad, just grab anybody here. They’d be willing, I promise.” He laughed. I sighed.

“Why would I want to kiss somebody random?” I heard people chanting about a ten-second countdown and my shoulders fell. Great.

9!

8!

7!

I peeked around the hall one last time before my eyes landed on Asher, his eyes dotting every section of my face as he gave me a strange, contemplating look. My brows drew together as I pondered asking him what he was staring at. The questioning look on his face dispersed, replaced with the familiar smirk that I was sure would kill me one day.

“Here,” he began, his one dimpled cheek looking oddly kissable. “If it’s that important to you...”

3!

2!

I was seized by the waist and pushed against the wall suddenly, Asher’s lips on mine. I took no time to think before responding, gripping the collar of his shirt to encourage his mouth on mine.

Cheers from the New Year were apparent somewhere, my mind far from there, well aware of the line of desire that was running from my heart to my stomach, down toward my inner thighs. Kissing Hayden was my farthest memory within nanoseconds, my energy too focused on the tongue confidently stroking against mine.

Our lips working together with mutual enthusiasm, he pressed every inch of himself up against me, like he wished we could be closer. His hand, light and sensual, curved around my thigh and gripped onto the back of my knee, tugging my leg up around his hip. I groaned when his body pressed into mine, taking a hand and running it through his soft hair, drawing him impossibly closer. Knowing I needed air, feeling my lungs scream for it, I continued to breathe Asher instead.

Unfortunately, the soft, heated lips began to slip from mine as he pulled back. His mouth was only an inch away and I wanted more than anything to close the gap between us. It would take a lot of self-control to not lean into him again, to not let his mouth consume mine once more, and I appeared to be clean out.

Not having the same mental confliction as me, Asher released me and my leg hit the floor with a jolt. He stepped backward and away and I gasped lightly at the loss. The sound of him clearing his throat stole me away from my hormone-controlled high and I watched the smug look return.

“How was that for a New Years Kiss?”

Taking a few moments to collect myself, I grinned and gave him a thumbs up.

Step one on How To Be An Embarrassment.

Chuckling lightly at my uncomfortable mess of a reaction, he melded my hand into his. “Come on, Dol, let’s get out of here. It’s hot.”

Dragging me through the crowd of people that I had just realized was there, he began leading us away from the hallway. I frowned, glancing behind me at that wall, wishing he’d push me back up against it.

______________________________________

After a while of wandering aimlessly throughout the house, Asher finally found the backyard and I breathed in a breath of cold, fresh air. As we continued along the edge of the yard, the sound of his voice cut clean through the heavy silence. “So, what happened to Hayden?”

Shrugging, I kept my face even to avoid letting him know I was somewhat disappointed by his question. “He went to go help his friend with something and I lost him.”

“That sucks.” I thought he was being sincere until his chuckle broke through the moment of consideration. “Except the only reason you wanted to be around him was so he could kiss you.”

“Shut up, Asher.”

He led us over to a large patch of lawn and sat down on it, pulling me down with him. “What? I’m being serious. You wanted him to take your New Years’ Eve Kiss virginity.”

“Well, he didn’t get to, did he?” I snapped, far past annoyed with the topic at hand. I’d almost felt bad for responding so rudely to him, but he only grinned, leaning back onto his elbows.

“Nope, I was the lucky guy.” He chuckled, his voice almost giddy.

Mirroring his position, I tended back onto my own elbows. “Congrats. I hope you’re happy.”

Asher broke into a gleaming smile. “I got to kiss a beautiful girl tonight and I get to take her home with me. Yeah, I’m happy.”

With a heated blush and a grunt, I laid onto my back, my skin itching everywhere the grass grazed. Following in sync with my movements, Asher was on his back a second later, staring up at the sky. Stars sprinkled the ink-black night and I began to count as many of them as I could.

“Tell me a story, Dol.”

Asher’s demand threw me off guard for a moment, but after a second of thinking, I nodded and began. “Under the star-filled sky, were two very lost souls. One named Aiden and one named Clara.”

“Sounds romantic.” Asher’s nose crinkled adorably.

“Now, Clara was shy but cute and Aiden was outgoing but crazy.” I giggled, flickering my eyes over the millions of stars above us. “Who would have known that a quiet, sweet girl would fall in love with the most narcissistic, asshole of a guy?”

Snorting, he looked over, observing me as I told my fictional bedtime story. “Where are you going with this?” His eyebrows knitted as his curious, caramel eyes shimmered under the moonlight.

I shrugged at his question, not quite knowing myself, and continued. “They both needed the spark in their lives. A true loves kiss.”

Faking a yawn, he threw his arms behind his head. “This is getting boring.”

I ignored him. “That once shy girl and narcissistic boy bonded, becoming friends. But do you know what happened after?”

“What happened?”

I smiled. “They fell in love with each other.”

Asher didn’t share my joy and instead peered over at me with a frown. “That was so boring. If you’re going to tell a story, at least let there be something interesting in it, like dragons or... blowjobs.”

The noise that burst from me was like a cross between a snort and a drunken laugh. Delighted by my reaction, he smirked at my embarrassing giggle and looked back at the sky. “I'm going next. Your story was lame. Once upon a time, there was a prince and a princess, and a big, scary dragon that was guarding the princess tower. One day the prince came to rescue the princess. He swung on a vine-”

I rudely interrupted him, doing the same thing he’d done to me. “Where did the vine come from?”

He shrugged. “There is a forest right next to her tower. So he swung from a vine, right past the dragon and-”

My forehead creased with mock confusion. “How did the dragon not see him? Wasn’t he guarding the tower?”

“I don’t know. So he swings through the window. It breaks and-”

“But-”

“No, Dol.” He shook his head, crinkling his nose at me. “You talk too much. Let me finish my story.”

I let out a soft laugh, drawing my hand to my mouth, pretending to lock my lips closed and throw away the key.

At my representation, Asher nodded graciously and proceeded with the story that he confidently thought was better than mine. “He broke in and they escaped out of the tower and ran into the forest. In that forest, they found a lake, and next to the lake, they found a nice picnic. After the picnic, the princess decided she wanted to give the prince a blowjob and so she did. The End.”

A shocked look struck onto my face before I let out another drunken snort. At first, it was some odd sort of spluttering chuckle, but after another moment, the laugh was whole-hearted. It was a peal of laughter that I could feel in my lungs; it almost took my breath away.

Asher, well aware his bedtime story was better than mine, pulled his eyes from the moon to grin over at me, the giggling mess. “See, my story had love and blowjobs in it. You really can have it all.”

Hardly controlling my laughter, I pursed my lips, partially in thought and partly to keep from losing myself a second time. “You think of me as a princess?” I asked.

His brows bunched together as he kicked me another glimpse, this one stuffed with perplexity, then chuckled. “Why do you assume the story was about you?”

I swallowed, realizing he’d never said it had anything to do with me. Embarrassed, I shrugged, afraid to open my mouth and humiliate myself further.

With a smile enticing his lips, Asher’s head shook, and he thankfully didn’t require an answer to his question. “You’re not a princess,” he whispered, quietly.

“Then what am I?” I asked, equally as hushed.

He blinked, once, twice, moments of silence passing us by before he answered, “You’re Dolphin.”

I lifted my shoulders, my skin still not used to the itchy, green grass I was sprawled across. I let out one more committed laugh and sat up. “Come on, let’s go back in.”

Asher made no attempt to move. “Or let’s not.”

“Why not?”

“I’d rather hang out with you than be in there.”

Not understanding what was so great about laying on the not-so-tender grass with me of all people, I glanced back towards the generously sized house, the sound of distant music permeating my ears. Fiddling with my fingers, and knowing I had no interest in heading back into the teen-filled sauna, I laid back down, this time encasing my arms around Asher, my head finding its way to his shoulder.

His cheek rested on the top of my head as his arms enclosed me, keeping me warm from the cold outside world. I couldn’t exactly disagree with him; I loved laying here with him too.

I heard my phone murmur and reached into the pocket of my, or Asher’s, or our jacket. I scanned a text from Hayden.

Hayden: Hey, sorry I took so long. I assume you left. Can I make it up to you?

I pondered telling him I was still here, but laying on Asher seemed much better than trying to find anyone at this party. Laying on Asher seemed better than anything.

Chloe: What did you have in mind?

Hayden: Picnic, tomorrow. I’ll make it and everything. Much more romantic than a party anyway.

Chloe: You got me there. Sounds good. :)

Hayden: Awesome. I will see you tomorrow then. And I’ll be looking forward to it. Goodnight, Beautiful.

I pulled my eyes up to the clock on my phone, the numbers reading far past midnight.

Chloe: You mean good morning?

Hayden: Ah, correct. It’s past my bedtime, I can’t keep track of the time. Good morning.

I smiled at his message and lowered the phone back into my pocket as I snuggled closer into Asher’s chest.

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