As the aircraft touched down on the runway I looked out of the window in excitement. New York City. Anything was possible! I leant back in my chair and waited for the seatbelt sign to come off so I could grab my bag. This past year had been such a whirlwind, I felt like I had aged 10 years. Finally I was off to college, to pursue my dream of being a therapist. It was actually happening! I glanced around the cabin and noticed most people were business passengers or families on a trip. I turned my phone off flight mode and sent my parents a text to let them know I had landed. This was so exciting! I had arranged accommodation with the University, it was off campus but not far from Manhattan so I was ecstatic. I was so nervous though, there was so much going on here and I was just from a small town. I reached up and grabbed my bag when the sign went off, stretching. I followed the line of impatient passengers from the aircraft through the tunnel and into the airport. It was bright and busy and my heart lurched. I was really doing this! My phone beeped and I saw my parents were sending me good lucks and be safes. I smiled as I searched made my way to baggage collection, managing to spot my bright pink suitcase immediately. I heaved it off and looked for the signs to the taxi ranks, moving carefully through the crowd. I already loved the buzz of the city- everyone was already on their phones and moving quickly. I grabbed a free paper from someone handing them out and made my way out of the revolving doors and into the crisp New York air.
I stood and breathed in the air as I checked my email on my phone for the address. I was concentrating so much I didn’t notice someone falling straight into me.
‘Oh shit, I am sorry. I didn’t mean to literally fall into you.’
I looked up and saw a handsome guy with a football jersey on grinning at me. ′I’m Josh.′
He stuck his hand out and I smiled.
‘Thats great Josh, but I am not talking to a strange guy in a strange city.’
I stared back at my phone as he laughed.
’No, thats a good point to make actually. Are you here on business or pleasure?′
I finally found the address and looked around for a cab. There were a long line of them and a queue of people waiting. I made my way over to the line with Josh in tow. He was certainly persistent.
‘Look Josh, I mean this in the nicest way. I am not going to engage in conversation with you so I will see you around, ok?’ I smiled and moved away from him.
His face fell as he held his hands up.
‘I’m sorry, just a sucker for a pretty face.’
I laughed as he moved onto another girl, who seemed a little more receptive than I. Eventually I was in a cab, riding through the bright lights of the city heading for my apartment! I was excited to meet my roommate, the rent was surprisingly good so I had hoped it wasn’t going to be in too bad an area. I marvelled at the Skyline as it fell into view and I inherited that famous New York Gawp I had heard about. The cab made it’s way through the traffic, the driver reluctantly answering my many questions, he seemed bored to tears to be honest. I sat back in my seat and marvelled that I was finally here! Slowly but surely my cab pulled onto a residential street that actually was very pretty, considering it was still quite central. I pulled out my dollars and paid him, being sure to give him a tip as he pulled my luggage from the boot for me.
I had a longing for Cal suddenly, as I felt exposed and vulnerable. He hadn’t been in touch before I left, telling me he was really shitty at goodbyes but that we would try the long distance thing. I sighed, pulling my suitcase up to the steps to the door that read 11A. I searched my phone once more, making sure I was pressing the correct buzzer. I waited patiently as I heard footsteps come towards the door. I gulped trying not to be nervous, this was after all, my new roomy. The door opened to reveal a very striking brunette with large brown eyes studying me.
I stuck my hand out.
′I’m Gretchen, from Winterburg? You must be...′ I racked my brain to recall her name.
She shook my hand limply and moved back so I could walk in, not offering to help at all. She wore black thigh high boots which left a gap of flesh between them and a long red shirt that hung over one shoulder. Her dark hair was poker straight and her lips were painted red. She closed the door behind me as I dragged my case in awkwardly. She folded her arms and sighed.
′So we share the top floor.′ She eyed my bags. ′There’s no elevator so it’s gonna be a struggle with your things.′
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a silver key.
′This is yours. I will see you around.′
She turned on her heel and walked out of the door I had just come in. I closed my eyes and wished more than anything Cal was here. How the hell was I going to get this case to the top floor?! Why was my roommate such a bitch? She literally had waited to let me in then she had left, without offering to help. Urgh, was this what all New Yorkers were like? I gazed at the stairs, trying to think of a solution. My phone beeped and I felt my heart lurch when I saw it was Cal.
‘Settling in ok? I miss you already.’
I felt tears prick my eyes as I imagined him back in Winterburg, in his cosy house all alone. He better be alone, I thought, texting him back quickly.
‘Roommate isn’t too friendly. I have to get my case up three flights of stairs. Any suggestions?’
I tried to be jovial but I just sat on my suitcase.
‘Leave it downstairs and pay someone to take it up for you later. Are you ok Raven?’
I laughed in spite of myself. That was so Cal. Pay someone to sort it for you. I started to type back my response as I heard footsteps come down the stairs. The guy had platinum blond hair, a shirt complete with a scarf and the tightest jeans I have ever seen. He glided past me and opened front door. I turned to see the guy from the airport beaming at me.
‘Hey it’s you! Ooh are you my roomy?’
‘Erm no..I am sharing with Nancy? You have just missed her actually..’
I mumbled, looking at his case pointedly. ′
There are no elevators.′
The guy with the blond hair looked bored.
‘Floor 2. I’m Nicholas.’
Josh reached his hand out to which Nicholas shuddered.
‘I don’t shake hands unfortunately. Germs.’
He sniffed and ran his hand through his perfect hair. I stared at his waist which must’ve been the width of my thigh. Wow. Josh laughed.
′You’re kidding me right? I’m sharing with a germ phobe. Brilliant.′
Nicholas glared at him.
‘I am NOT a phobe of any kind. I just don’t like to take risks with strangers.’
I smiled secretly, aware that was the second time today Josh had been called a stranger. Nicholas looked at me disdainfully.
‘Are you going to sit on that until an elevator magically appears?’
I flushed, standing up quickly.
‘No. I am going to probably break my back getting it upstairs. But thank you for your concern.’ I found myself replying sarcastically.
Nicholas’s eyebrows rose approvingly.
‘Oh, you have spirit. I like that.’
I glared at him. I wanted to dislike him but his demeanor had something about it I quite liked.
Josh yawned. ‘Look curly, I can take it up for you. You can buy me some beers later. Deal?’
I felt myself smiling broadly.
′Yes, deal. I cannot face this on my own, I hate being such a girl...but I really can’t do that. Thank you so much.′ I gushed.
He nodded, his playful side suddenly replaced by a tired version.
‘No worries Curls. I got this.’
He reached down and carried my suitcase in one hand and his in the other. Nicholas and I met eyes and lifted our eyebrows up.
′How galliant of him. He must be very strong.′ Murmured Nicholas watching Josh as he walked up the stairs effortlessly. I was truly grateful as we followed him up the steep stairs. By the second floor I was completely out of breath and holding onto the railing for dear life. I heard my phone beep as I pulled it out.
‘Raven, don’t tell me you are trying to drag that case up three flights of stairs.....’
I grinned as I typed back,
‘No, someone else is doing it for me. Gretchen 1, NYC 0’ No sooner had I sent the text did a ping come straight back. I smiled knowingly.
‘Who is he? Don’t forget, you are mine. I do NOT share.’
I heard Josh calling me from the floor above.
‘Curls! Come on I am not up here for my health.’
Nicholas had disappeared in to his room. I followed the direction of the stairs, legs protesting. I made it to the top floor and gasped.
Josh eyed me carefully.
′Are you ok? You really need to get fit. You are gonna be doing this at least twice a day?!′
I pulled out my key and ignored his comment, rolling my eyes.
′Thankyou Josh. I owe you.′
The door swung open and Josh pulled my case in for me. ′There you are my lady. Right, I will meet you on the second floor at 7. You owe me those beers. Ask your roomy to come. Is she hot?′ He looked at me wickedly.
′Stupidly actually. Really hot.′ I shrugged walking into the apartment.
′Yeah?′ Josh looked interested. ′Definitely bring her. Laters baby.′
He tipped an imaginary hat and smiled as he backed out of the door closing it softly behind him. I walked into the main room and saw a mustard sofa with cream throws and cushions tossed over it casually. The floor was natural wood, the windows were bay fronted and overlooked the street. It was open plan so the kitchen was tiny, a coffee machine and a hob dominated the small side. I smiled to myself and squealed. Omg I am in NEW YORK CITY! I opened a door and saw a small but tidy bathroom, complete with a mirror over the basin and a shower in the corner. I walked on and saw what must be Nancys room, it screamed her. Black sheets on the bed and a blood red chair in the shape of lips. There was a floor length mirror with fairy lights hanging over it with make up on the floor in front of it. I could smell her perfume and imagined she had zero problems with me smelling and looking as she did. I moved along and opened the door to what was clearly to be my room. The bed was in front of the three large windows with a bedside table on each side. A lamp sat on each table, and along the side of the wall near the bed I saw a wardrobe. A desk was on the other side, with room for my books and my laptop. I loved it! I pulled my case in, and started to put my things away. My phone rang and I saw it was Cal.
‘I wasn’t joking.’ I heard his voice and my insides melted. I fell backwards onto the bed.
’I know. His name is Josh and he was kind enough to bring it up to my room for me. He is probably going to be more interested in my roomy than me, so please don’t worry. I just owe him some beers.′
I twirled with my hair, remembering Josh calling me ‘curly’ and thought I would leave that bit out.
‘Your roommate cannot be hotter than you. Although I am praying she actually is. Are you coming back yet?’ I heard the longing in his voice.
’No, I’m not qualified yet.′ I teased.
’So whats your plans city girl?′ He asked curiously.
’Well Josh said I owe him some beers so he is going to come here at 7. He wants to meet my hot roomy.′
There was silence on the other end and I laughed nervously.
′I have to get to know people baby....′
Silence. I rolled my eyes. This was ridiculous.
‘Yeah? Listen, be safe. Don’t be on your own with him. Ok? Don’t trust anyone. I love you.’
With that he hung up and I started at my phone in surprise. I get that he is jealous but what did he expect me to do? Not speak to anyone? I sat up and hugged my knees. I had no idea where we were heading tonight but I should probably get a shower and get ready. It was five pm now.
New York City waits for no one.
By seven I was dressed and ready for wherever the night was going to take me. Nancy still wasn’t back so I imagined Josh was going to be disappointed. I had jeans on with a silk grey top that tied at the neck and bottom of my back. I left my apartment, feeling slightly nervous as I made my way down to the second floor. I knocked on the door of Josh & Nicholas apartment and smiled as the door opened to reveal Josh. He whistled and ran his hand through his hair.
′Looking good Curls.′
I rolled my eyes and told him my name was Gretchen to which he shrugged. He looked behind me hopefully and I laughed.
′She hasn’t come home. Sorry....′
We heard the entrance door slam as our eyes met.
′Ooh...′ I teased as we watched the staircase curiously. Sure enough it was Nancy. But she wasn’t alone. An older man followed her in a suit with his tie loosened, his salt and pepper hair loose. Nancy stopped and I smiled as I introduced her to Josh and Nicholas, who had peered over Josh’s shoulder to see the new arrivals. I stepped back as Josh stepped forward, totally unfazed by the man by Nancys side. Nancy eyed him appreciatively, taking in his muscular body and all american good looks.
′I’m Josh. You must be Curlys roomy.′
Nancy raised her eyebrow at me then looked back at Josh.
′Have you anything to drink in there?′
She walked past him into his apartment, to which he smiled wickedly, following her. The man in the suit smiled and I looked at him awkwardly.
′I’m Tate, Nancy’s brother.′
His voice was deep and masculine, but friendly. Unlike his sister I noted. I smiled.
′I’m Gretchen, Nancy’s roomy.′
His eyes twinkled.
He laughed sarcastically and I laughed with him.
′Shall we follow?′ He gestured into the room behind me. I jumped, laughing.
′Yes, better than congregating in the hallway....′ I felt nervous as I noticed his eyes on mine a beat longer than they should’ve been.
We followed into the apartment to find Nancy and Josh doing shots. Josh beckoned us over and I looked at Tate and Nicholas who looked as uncomfortable as I did.
Shouts Josh, raising his shot. He nodded to the table where many other shot glasses lay full. Tate shrugged and leant over, picking one up for me and one for him. Nicholas grimaced as Nancy pushed one into his hands. We all knocked it back, and I began to cough. What the hell was that vile liquid? Josh laughed, handing me another. I shook my head, no way was I having another of those.
′You owe me little lady. One more!′
I met his eyes and sighed. I was a student after all.
I woke to beaming sunlight in my face. I blinked, shielding my eyes. Urgh. My head hurt. And my mouth felt like it was filled with cotton wool. I glanced around the room, looking for my phone. It was strange waking up to my new bedroom, but even so I was happy to have made it home in one piece. We didn’t even make it out the apartment last night, instead we ordered pizza and sat drinking. It was quite enjoyable but today I was meant to be looking for a job. I felt so sick and wondered again what those shots were. I needed water. I groaned as I swung my legs out of bed, I really needed to pick up some blinds. I opened my door to see Tate laying on the sofa in a paid of navy joggers, his top half bare. I averted my eyes and cleared my throat so he knew I was there and could pull a top on or something. He tilted his head and smiled.
‘Good morning. What a night eh?’
I nodded and walked over to the tap, pouring water into a mug from the draining board. I drank it gratefully before pouring another. I walked over to the sofa, tapping Tates legs so he could make room. He sat up and stretched. The door buzzer went off and I looked at Tate who shrugged as though to say he didn’t know how to answer it either. We both laughed as I saw Nancy come out of her room and press the buzzer angrily.
′Who is it?′ She hissed. The reply was muffled as she rolled her eyes and allowed the stray inside the building. She only had her underwear on and make up was smeared all over her face as she stomped back to bed. Tate and I started laughing, trying not to let her hear us.
Tate asked, getting up to make his way to the kitchen. I felt strangely at ease, and reached for my phone. Nothing from Cal. I checked my calls and it seemed I had called him last night, twice. He hadn’t answered though. I missed him so much, so I thought I would call him later. Really odd of him to not answer my calls though. I studied Tate and wondered what his story was. He was older than us for sure, definitely in his thirties. He walked over, handing me a mug of steaming hot coffee. I moaned appreciatively and sipped it. Suddenly there was a knock on our door, and I realised that whoever Nancy had let in had finally managed the stairs. Tate stood and walked to the door, peering through the spy hole.
′Looks like another of my sisters admirers.′
He said dryly and I laughed as he opened the door. I curled my legs under me and watched as Tate greeted the guest. I almost dropped my coffee when I saw Cal standing in front of me. He was taking in the scene- Tate half dressed, me with wild messy hair dressed in my nightwear- then back to Tate, then me. I stood, putting my coffee on the table.
′Cal?′ I murmured, in shock. He studied me for a minute, a frown on his face as his eyes met mine.
′Am I interrupting something?′
It was said so softly I almost didn’t hear him. My eyes widened and flew to Tate who looked as puzzled as I was. At that moment Nancy came out of her room heading for the bathroom. She left her door open and there in her bed was a very content Josh.
′Sup Curls!′ He called.
Cal turned back to me, looking at me with anger in his eyes.
‘No, it’s not what it looks like.’
I said, desperately looking at Tate for help. He leaned against the counter, arms folded as his watched Cal, clearly refusing to help the situation. WHY?!
′Tate, this is Cal, my boyfriend. Cal this is Tate, my roommates brother.′ I babbled as fast as I could. My god he was so beautiful I felt my body screaming for his. Cal walked towards me, taking me in his arms. When our lips met I felt like I was finally home. He pulled away from me slightly and his green eyes burned into mine.
′God I’ve fucking missed you.′
He picked me up and my legs wrapped around his waist as he kiss me deeply.
I kissed him back, my tongue exploring his mouth urgently as his hands cupped my ass.
′So, you are who woke me up.′ I heard Nancy say. We broke apart and Cal turned to see who was talking.
′Looks like it. So you are Nancy.′
I frowned. I didn’t recall telling him her name. She beamed at him.
′Thats right. The one and only.′
I saw a smile play at the corners of Cals mouth and I felt a twinge of annoyance. Did he like her? It was obvious she liked him. Josh leant in the doorway of her room, clearly coming to claim his woman.
′I’m Josh, good to meet you erm...′
Cal nodded at him,
‘Cal. You too. I owe you a thank you for helping Gretchen with her case last night. I take it that was you?’
Cal eyed him suspiciously. I snaked my arm around his waist and snuggled close to his chest, hearing the familiar heart beating.
’Yeah it’s cool. Nancy thanked me actually.′ He winked and Cal laughed in understanding. Nancy glared at Josh.
‘Urgh. My brother is standing right there. And you can leave now.’
She walked past him into her bedroom, closing the door behind her. Josh stared at the door in shock.
′Wow. She was MUCH friendlier last night.′ He laughed awkwardly. ′Guys I’m beat. I’m gonna hit the hay. Nice to meet you, Cal.′
He nodded at Cal and Tate as he left. Cal turned back to me.
′Where were we?′ He smiled as he leant down, kissing me softly. I pulled away and glanced at Tate who was still in the same position, sipping his coffee.
‘Come to my room.’
Cal smiled at Tate.
’The ladies wish is my command man, what can I say?′
We went into my room, pulling the door shut behind us. I couldn’t believe he was here, in New York! I kissed him so much my tongue actually hurt. We fell into bed and he leant above me.
‘Only you could make me come back to this fucked up city.’
He kissed me in between words, driving me insane. My body arched towards him, begging for him to just take me.
He trailed kisses down my stomach as he pushed my underwear down with his tongue.
‘I didn’t like what I saw when I walked in, Gretchen.’
His eyes met mine as my body shook with anticipation.
‘What?!’ I gasped as he kissed me further down.
‘You’re mine, and I don’t fucking like him.’
His tongue licked my clit as he slid my underwear off with his long fingers. I almost screamed there and then the electric shot I felt inside when he did that was incredible.
‘Who do you belong to Gretchen?’ His tongue flicked again as he sucked and played with my clit. My hands pulled at his hair and I tried to find my voice. He slipped his tongue all the way from the top to the bottom of my sex, before slowly easing his finger inside of me. My body arched and lost any grip on reality. He pumped his finger in and out of me, as I gasped. He sat up, loosening his belt as he gazed down at me.
‘Gretchen? Who. Do . You-’ He entered me roughly, causing me to moan loudly. He thrusted hard, pulling my hair back as he gazed into my eyes, pausing as i clawed at his back. ‘Belong to?’
‘You.’ I gasped as the thrusts got deeper and faster, his mouth on my neck.
‘Say it again. Say it.’ His voice commanded. I would have said anything in the world at that point but I meant it.
‘You. You Cal, you!’
I was shouting now but I didn’t care. I could feel my body building up to the point of explosion. His mouth met mine and I felt him release, deeply inside of me at the same time i gasped, my body shaking and shuddering underneath this amazing man. He breathed heavily, still inside me. He kissed me slowly and I wanted him so much it hurt.
’Don’t leave me. Please.′
I begged him softly. He raised his eyes to look at me, rolling away from me. I pulled my underwear onto my legs from the bottom of the bed as he slid his boxers on. He ran his fingers down my back as I lay beside him. He was my everything.
′You left me if I recall?′
He teased. I closed my eyes and wrapped my arms around him. Maybe if I held him tight enough, he wouldn’t go.
′Why are you here?′ I whispered, looking up at him. He kissed my swollen lips and softly bit them.
‘Other than the obvious? I fucking love you. I can’t be away from you. If you are in New York, so am I.’
Our mouths met again.
‘But.... I will be living here. You have a house in Winterburg...how will it work? We said long distance- you said you couldn’t be in New York.’
He leant back on his arm, looking at me happily.
‘Thing is Gretchen.’ I felt myself shudder when he said my name. Will this man ever cease to have an effect on me the way he does? ′ I want to be with you. You want to be here, so I am here. Last night you called me when I was at the airport. You were drunk, and I couldn’t bare the thought of dirty bastards taking advantage of your innocence.′
He growled, looking towards the door, clearly indicating Tate.
I shook my head.
′No, hes not-′
Cal silenced me by pushing his finger that onto my lips.
‘If not him, it will be countless others. I am not fucking sharing you. You wanna be a student? Do it. But I want to be able to protect you and I can’t do that from Winterburg baby.’
I stared at him. ‘What are you saying?’
He smiled lazily. ‘I’m saying, shall we do New York together? I have sold the house in Winterburg, I can move here.’
I panicked at the mention of his house in Winterburg, remembering the reason I could never go there again. He sold it?! How did I not know this?!
’Verno?′ I asked him, my eyes meeting his, my heart pounding.
Cal kissed my fingers, something he had done since the day we met. My body tingled as I ran my hands through his hair.
‘I think I have redeemed myself in his eyes. He took care of the body. He isn’t a friend, but he doesn’t want me dead anymore.’
Relief coursed through my body. This meant Cal could stay in New York. Excitement ran through my veins. I sat up like a kid on Christmas morning and Cal watched me with a bemused expression on his beautiful face.
′Seriously?′ I breathed, staring at him in adoration.
′Seriously.′ He laughed. ′On one condition.′
I met his eyes with mine, prepared to do anything to be with this perfect man forever.
’Anything.′ I said confidently.
‘You call me Leo.’
I fell onto him, kissing him all over his face.
His mouth met mine and I realised that whatever his name, he would always be my moody Cal. I would always be his and he would always be Mine.