We drove in silence- mine stunned- his wary.
He wouldn’t look at me as he drove through the city streets, navigating like the native New Yorker he was. I stared ahead as thoughts ran through my mind, wondering how much I really knew about the man I loved. What was classed as enough? Was it the way he made me feel? Did it matter about his life choices, did I sign up to whatever it was that he chose to be simply because I loved him? I watched as the streets whizzed by, my eyes aching with tiredness, my body alert with suspicion. I had to know, but wasn’t sure he would tell me. His jaw was set angrily as he drove, moving through lanes without indicating, taking sharp turns abruptly, causing me to grip onto the side of the car, biting my lip with annoyance. He pulled into a dirt track I wasn’t even sure they had in New York, which led to a small house hidden from the view of the street. He cut the engine and sighed, glancing at me briefly as he got out, slamming his door behind him. He walked around to my side, opening the door and gazing at me, those fucking eyes commanding that I left the truck.
’Are you going to explain to me, what the fuck you are doing with a gun?′ My voice shook with anger as he lifted his eyebrows, his face otherwise unreadable.
‘Come on , Gretchen. You know I’m not a fucking shopkeeper.’
His eyes blazed as he watched me climb out of the car, closing it firmly behind me. I shivered in the night air, and he moved his hand to the small of my back, pushing me softly in the direction of the house. I climbed the steps, as he unlocked the door before me, his broad shoulders hunched as he tugged the door open, stepping back so I could walk in before him. I stood at the bottom of the stairs, smiling softly as I saw the resemblance between the house in Winterburg and this one. He tossed his keys on the side, walking to the kitchen to grab a beer.
How could he be so composed?
‘Cal. Why do you have a gun?’
His green eyes burned into mine as he bit the bottle top from the beer, before tilting it to his delicious mouth that I tried so hard to avoid staring at.
‘Yes Gretchen, I have a gun.’ He sighed as he leaned against the doorway, his hair falling into his eyes. ‘Its not something you need to be concerned about, really.’ He shrugged simply as his eyes travelled up and down my body, causing goosebumps to raise on my arms involuntarily.
‘What did he say to you.’ His voice was irritated and I stared at the ground.
‘I don’t remember. He was drunk. Cal, you could’ve lost your temper tonight. With a gun tucked into your belt.’ I folded my arms and glared at him then as he smiled crookedly.
‘So? If he would have touched you in any way you didn’t want, I wouldn’t have hesitated in blowing his fucking head off.’
We stared at each other then, his eyes telling me this was a battle I was not going to win.
His words fell between us and I felt myself inhale sharply. He gazed at the floor, a soft smile on his face. He knew how much I wanted this, yet he had insisted I had tried to live a ‘normal’ life, with us both knowing that was not something I could live whilst living with him.
‘I now what I said, Gretchen, because I fucking said it.’ He laughed then and I felt myself begin to melt, suddenly wanting his arms around me. ‘But you aren’t safe there, and I’m tired of sleeping without you every night.’ He walked towards me then, placing his beer beside his keys, pulling me close to him as his eyes examined every inch of my face, his breath hot on my cheek.
‘I can’t risk anything ever happening to you Gretchen.’ His voice was full of emotion and I frowned.
Where had this come from so suddenly?
’Cal. Nothing will happen to me. I’m just me, a student living in New York with my incredibly protective boyfriend ready to come and save me with his fucking gun.′
He unhooked it from his belt then, dropping it onto the side with a loud clatter. He pushed me against the wall, his hands beside my face as he stared at me intently.
’First of all, you aren’t just you. I’ve never met anyone like you in my life. You are the air I breathe. I couldn’t live without you.′ His finger trailed down my face, resting on my chin as he tilted my head up to look at him, my heart swelling with pure love for this man, whatever he was. ‘Second of all, ’ He continued, his voice gruff, ‘Believe it or not, this gun could actually save our lives one day. Do you think a lion would fight another lion without his teeth or his claws? Of course not. You match the danger with danger. Do you understand?’
I nodded meekly, aware he was right. I didn’t know who he dealt with. I didn’t know anything. I dropped my head down as he tilted it back up to meet his eyes.
‘Thirdly, I don’t want you to need saving. I want you to live your life. But you look like you do,’ his eyes flickered down as he stepped back slowly, admiring me, ‘and you are stupidly fucking interesting, not to mention addictive. Who wouldn’t want that? I am territorial, and I am aware its my flaw.’
I grabbed the back of his head then, kissing him roughly as lifted my legs around his waist, returning the kiss deeply.
‘Baby. I mean it. Live with me.’ He rested his forehead against mine, the intimate gesture making me smile, biting my lip as I pretended to give it some thought. He slowly tugged my hair as his lips met my throat, as he murmured into my ear, ‘Will you say yes already so I can show you my bedroom?’
I didn’t need convincing anymore.
I nodded as he held his hand out to the stairs.
‘Straight up and any fucking room you want.’