“I just love your The Family collection. Incubus was my favorite book in the series, followed by Lilith. You know, I was a little disappointed that you gave up on fantasy to write mystery and thriller. I’m not really a fan of the genre but I read your books because they’re, well... yours,” the dark-haired girl in a pink trench coat trailed, giving me a big grin.
“Uh, thank you?” I said, signing the last of the twelve books of The Family series. The convention had started an hour ago, and I hadn’t had a break since I got here. Ethel has been trying her best to regulate things but I was still occasionally deafened by the screaming fans, and occasionally pulled into a bone-crushing hug by touchy ones.
Ethan was seating behind me reading a book with a pair of earpiece on. He’d already jumped to my rescue more than once since the start of the convention.
The girl in the trench coat was still smiling when I handed her back her set of books.
“Can I like, hug you?” she asked, laughing awkwardly.
“Sure,” I said, glad she’d asked before attacking me. Her smile widened as she walked about the table to give me a hug.
“It was nice meeting you!” she squealed before letting me go. She soon took her books and disappeared into the crowd.
I met a bunch of other people. Some were jumpy about meeting me, and somewhere just plain uncomfortable since they were coming on behalf of others.
I’ve signed everything from books to body parts and handheld devices.
I sighed in relief when Ethel called for a break. I was badly in need of one and my ankle hurt badly from being pressed against the ground for too long. I tried to reduce the pain by rotating it but it just made things worse.
“Are you okay?” Ethan asked, pulling out an earpiece before half closing the book he was reading to give me a worried glance.
“Yes,” I lied, getting up only to feel immense pain. “No, not actually,” I admitted, turning to meet Ethan’s gaze.
He nodded in understanding before dropping the book he was reading to head towards me.
“I’ll help,” he said, putting his hand over my shoulder in an attempt to help me walk. Some people in the crowd gave me worried glances, probably wondering what was wrong with me. Ethel seemed to be handling things, explaining the situation in the shortest way possible.
Ethan took me to the small first aid set up within the convention. The attendants were nice and they didn’t ask much questions, just attended to me as they saw fit.
Ethan sat on the floor beside my seat, refusing to leave me there on my own. They were soon convinced I was better and asked me to take a break every twenty minutes or so from sitting to avoid the pain.
“Ethel will be mad, don’t you think?” I sighed as Ethan helped me out the canopy.
“I doubt,” he said as we walked through the crowd. Ethan still had his hand snaked over my shoulder to provide support. People were giving us odd looks, and I suddenly felt the urge to hide behind Ethan. He seemed to notice and pulled me closer to himself, providing an odd sense of relief.
We got to our stand a few minutes later, and the crowd didn’t waste time to scream their apologies.
“They’re acting as if I’m wounded,” I whispered to Ethel as I sat back down.
“Well, it looks like it...” she trailed, making me give her a confused look. “I just guess you’re used to it,” she said, shrugging before leaving me behind with Ethan.
“She didn’t mean it the way you think she did,” Ethan said, making me turn towards him. I wanted to lie that I hadn’t actually taken offense at Ethel’s comment, but there was no use seeing as Ethan read through me so well.
“I know...” I trailed, fidgeting with the end of my sleeves like I usually did when I was frustrated or panicked. “But it still stings... sort of.”
“There’s nothing wrong with being a little challenged,” Ethan muttered, running a hand through his hair. “I mean, I ask for your help in my coursework all the time.” Ethan pointed out as he took his seat at the far corner.
I corked my brow in suspicion. I doubt he even needed the help eighty percent of the time. He was just fond of asking me ridiculous questions in an attempt to keep me a little while longer in the living room when I was meant to be locked away in my study writing.
“There’s nothing strange about you...” Ethan trailed, looking into the crowd.
“People are just a little scared, confused, or thrown off by things they’re not used to,” Ethan said as Ethel called out to me to get ready.
“Thank you,” I muttered as the crowd to move towards my Table again.
“There’s nothing to thank me for.” Ethan insisted as he shrugged before returning to the book he’d been reading a while ago.
I continued with the rest of the convention without a problem. The only thing different was that people were coming up to my table with get well cards and hastily purchased presents. It was touching and a little embarrassing that they cared.
“Look, I’m not here to get an autograph... Andrew?” the person in front of me suddenly said, making me take a look closer.
I felt my throat clog with many feelings. Anger, fear, affection. It has been more than three years since I last saw Christopher physically and seeing him here, right now brought on too many memories and feelings. I blinked realizing that my proclamation of getting over Christopher was far from true. Just getting to see him made me realize how much I haven’t gotten over him.
“What, cat got your tongue?” he asked, laughing as he ran his hand through his blond hair. I shook my head, not trusting my mouth to do the talking. I wasn’t sure if I was going to burst out in anger or turn into a puddle of tears in relief.
“You’ve changed...” he trailed, looking down at me with his green eyes. I muttered a small ‘I guess’ before diverting my eyes from his intense gaze. It was like he was inspecting me. He always used to inspect me.
“You did it,” Christopher said with a chuckle. “You got someone to publish your garbage," he said, letting the last part slip in a whisper.
“If you’re not here to do anything important I suggest you—”
“I miss you,” he said, cutting me off. I blinked and the anger he’d briefly stirred in me was gone at the mere statement.
It was things like this that made me hate Christopher and still have my feelings in a confused mess. He was horrible most of the time but sometimes, the things he said tend to prove otherwise and that confused the hell out of me.
“I was here to do a short interview with you. I wanted to see your take on being a new hit in the writing world,” he said, smiling sheepishly. “But apparently that would have to be postponed.”
My throat tightened. I was accustomed to the way Christopher spoke in circles and he was either asking me out right now or playing with my feelings.
“Postponed till when?” my mouth said, not listening to the logic of my brain. He was going to do something horrible again, but the odd joy of seeing him was making the logical part of me ignore the obvious.
“You look decent now, a little too much on the flesh and bones side but decent,” he said, ignoring my question regarding the postponing of the interview. He took out a sheet of paper to scribble the address of a restaurant instead. I watched him intently as my brain digested the closest thing to a compliment he’d ever thrown my way.
“You look decent.”
I replayed in my head again, not quite believing he’d actually said that to me.
“Meet me here, okay?” he muttered, looking over the table to Ethan who was preoccupied with reading and humming to the beat of the music playing from his earpiece.
“Who’s that?” he asked before shaking his head. “It doesn’t matter,” he muttered, giving me another tingling look before leaving.
The rest of the day went smoothly, but I was scolded by Ethel more than once for daydreaming. She hadn’t noticed Christopher had been to my table, it seemed she didn’t even know he was at the convention at all. I was happy about it because if she knew she’d have called my mother right away and kept me away from him.
You’re going to hurt yourself again. I thought as we packed up for the day. I leaned against the table, watching Ethan help Ethel and the other men dismantle the stand. They’d put it back up early tomorrow for the last time.
“You two should go on ahead,” Ethel said, waving me and Ethan off. He didn’t hesitate to get by me, throwing his hand over my shoulder.
“I’ll help you back,” he insisted, smiling softly at me. I nodded letting him walk me to the hotel we were lounging in.
We soon got to the room we shared together. Ethan closed the door behind us and I turned to take off my jacket, only to be engulfed by the soft feeling of someone up behind me.
“Ethan?” I called out, almost asking an unuttered question.
He didn’t answer me, just kissed along my neck. I shook periodically as he let his hands run against my hips and his lips kiss my exposed skin.
I gasped when he brought me to himself, expressing his need. I felt my mind go faint, into a state of partial panic and pleasure.
“E-Ethan...?” I stuttered when he turned me around, kissing me full on the lips with urgency and need. I moaned throwing my hands over his shoulders, whimpering slightly as he led me to the bed.
“You did great,” he muttered, as the back of my knees made contact with the base of the bed.
“You handled today perfectly,” he muttered as he pushed me down on the bed gently. He hovered over me, blocking the evening sun from the windows.
I shook gently as he continued his assault on my body; Kissing, nibbling and muttering sweet words. He pulled my legs against his sides, kissing me tenderly.
“Ethan?” I called out as he traced my face with his hands.
“Ethan, what’s going on?” I asked, looking up at him.
I watched as his face flooded with color and his green eyes diverted from mine.
“I’m not sure. I just really want you,” he admitted, looking straight at me. “Can I. Can we?”
I blinked, flushing with guilt. “Hell. Ethan, I’m sorry, we can’t. I—”
“It’s okay,” he said cutting me off. “I understand,” he said bluntly before crawling away from me to the other side of the bed.
I turned, sighing. I felt horrible anytime I refused. He was open about what he wanted and he asked often and I was forced to deny him every time. I wasn’t prepared to offer something I couldn’t handle.
I thought, caressing the sheets of the bed with my fingers.
There’s Christopher now.