Chapter 45 - One Kiss Short
She wrapped her arms around my neck as she pulled me even closer. I gazed deep into her sapphire eyes and felt the ever so familiar stab in my chest.
Her eyes narrowed down to my lips, tempting me into another tantalizing kiss, as if I wasn't already under her spell.
I didn't give in easily though. Well, actually, I did, but I was coming back to my senses because I needed to talk to her.
I needed to listen to all she had to say. All her fears, all her worries. I needed to hear it so I could do something about it.
I needed to keep my sanity in this moment of pure weakness.
I don't even know what number we were on right now. My mind was too distracted to count the number of kisses we exchanged these past few minutes. Or was it hours? I don't know.
I don't exactly trust my sense of time right now. I felt high. The feeling was too immense.
I placed a hand on her cheek, tracing my fingers down to her collar bone. I trained my eyes into hers so I wouldn't notice her lack of a shirt, but I was very much aware of the very tempting sight right in front of me.
I'm impressed at myself for this new level of control.
Unholy thoughts... Go easy on me.
She suddenly let out a snort before breaking into a fit of laughter. I stared at her confused before she shook her head.
"Yes, tell your unholy thoughts to go easy on me too."
I said that out loud?
Mouth, who told you to coordinate with the unholy thoughts at that exact moment?
Before I could make up an excuse for that embarrassing slip of the tongue, she gripped on my broad shoulders and continued giggling at my expression.
She definitely enjoyed torturing me.
I never expected her to be this bold. And I could say the same for myself too.
"Thirty-three," she said all of a sudden, her voice almost hushed like a whisper. I looked at her as if I was in a daze. Seeing her caged beneath my shirtless body threatened my heart to burst out. "We'll start counting the kisses at thirty-three."
When I realized what she had meant, I hid a silly grin.
"I think we've kissed more than that though," I answered, my hand moving traitorously on its own on her flat stomach. I was teasing her and she knew it.
Seemingly unaffected, she held that hand and placed it right above her chest. I could feel her heart pounding against my palm.
"I know," she said, tilting her head before narrowing her eyes at me again. Was she aware how attractive that simple move was? Did she do that on purpose? "But the last number I remembered was thirty-three, so let's just start there."
She gripped my hand tight. I know she was nervous right now, so was I.
I wasn't confident in my self-control right this moment. I was scared of taking it to the next level under these conditions.
And if she wanted it too, there was no going back.
Shut up. Shut up. C'mon.
"How about we just start over?" I suggested; mischievously but hopefully. It was something to distract me from my thoughts. "More kisses?"
She sent me a teasing glare before she rolled her eyes laughing. I knew very well what she was going to say next so I shrugged my shoulders as a silly grin formed in my face.
"Worth a try," I said.
After that, there was a short while. My eyes were fixed on hers for a while before I slowly sat up, pulling her along with me.
Her legs were set on each side of my hips, and I pulled her closer again, her weight sliding easily to my lap.
My heart thundered in my chest as the sight of her exposed skin neared my face. Her hands were curiously roaming over my shirtless body, making me stifle a grunt.
Was this really happening?
If this was just a dream then I'd be highly disappointed in myself.
I raised my head as she lowered hers so our eyes could meet. My arms were wrapped on her bare waist as hers were now resting on my shoulders to keep her balance.
I took a quiet breath of admiration at the lovely sight before me.
Slowly, I pressed my lips on her chest, just a little above the curve of her bra. Her heart knocked on my lips a few times.
"Don't lose count," I said, hiding a grin at the way she reacted so cutely. "Or else we'll have to start over."
She nodded carefully before taking a deep breath, as if preparing herself. That action just made her chest rise and fall right before my eyes. Well damn.
Guess my mind is as corrupted as she says.
I started by placing a hand on the small of her back, and gently guiding her to lie on the bed again.
She was quietly looking at me the whole time, her eyes filled with anticipation.
I cleared her long hair away from her chest, exposing her delicate skin. Without a word of warning, I trailed soft kisses down the slope of her neck. I heard a sharp intake of breath.
"Thirty-four, thirty-five, thirty-six..." She said, keeping her voice steady.
I smiled as my lips were still pressed against her skin. Propping myself up, I redirected my kisses on the other side of her neck.
"Thirty-seven, thirty-eight, thirty-nine..."
Each time she said a number, her voice would get lower, more breathy. And I couldn't help but find it alluring.
I nibbled on her prominent collarbone before planting a light kiss, then slowly made my way downwards.
"Forty, forty-one, forty-two, forty... forty... three..."
I had menacingly hooked a finger behind the strap of her bra, and slid it over her shoulder to take a small bite on a particular spot.
"Hey." She warned, her cheeks reddening in color. I chuckled before giving her a quick peck as an apology.
"Forty-four," I grinned, sliding my finger back and forth her collarbones. I drew on her skin with my finger, tracing it up to her jaw, to the nape of her neck, and down to her ample cleavage.
It earned a pleased reaction but it was followed by a glare. Denial at its finest. I just smiled at my little act of mischief.
Changing my course of direction, I quietly reached for her left hand. My eyes were locked in hers as I trailed kisses from the back of her palm, to her wrist, to her arm.
Her skin was soft and warm, but upon holding her hand, I noticed how it was slightly cold. She was nervous, but I knew she didn't hate what I was doing.
"Forty-nine..." She counted in total as I kissed the crook on her elbow. I noticed how she got goosebumps after that. Did she feel excited? Should I make her feel more excited?
I mentally slapped myself. Shut up. Not now. I needed to concentrate.
Don't build up the mood. That's not the goal here.
The promise is more important than anything. Don't ruin it. Just don't.
Nonchalantly shaking my suggestive thoughts aside, I took her right hand and did the same as the other. But this time, I kissed until her shoulder.
"Fifty-seven... Fifty-eight..." She released a quiet breath as I neared the slope of her neck again.
The whole house was only occupied by the two of us, so the room was very quiet. The only sounds we could hear were the sounds of my lips brushing on her skin.
It was causing a certain effect on her, and I felt a sense of pride in that. The way her brows furrowed slightly as she closed her eyes were adding color to my very active imagination.
But I suppressed whatever it was I was thinking and feeling because she was too precious to me. I just loved her enough to do that.
"Thank you," I told her, my mouth pressing against her earlobe. A sigh escaped her lips.
"What for?" She asked, breathlessly.
I pretended like she said that normally, since the way she asked such a short question was too inviting.
Don't give in.
I nibbled on her ear, enjoying her reactions and hoping to gather more of it. She was clearly liking it as she had tilted her head, granting me more access to the more sensitive parts of her skin.
"For granting this silly request," I answered her question.
She was unable to reply as I had pressed my mouth on her pulse. She laid her hand on the back of my head and the next thing I knew, I was already leaving a mark.
I watched her for a brief moment and saw her bite her lip from the burning sensation. If I said I wasn't turned on, I would be lying.
Though it seemed like I was the one stealing her breath away, she was actually the one causing this storm in my heart. It was thundering in my chest and I couldn't control it even though I had already tamed my mind.
Controlled it somehow, at least.
Hearing no words from her after a while, I called her attention.
"Sixty-one," she replied a few moments later. She opened her eyes to meet mine briefly before closing it again, scarlet coating her cheeks. "It's not a silly request. It's our promise."
I smiled like an idiot.
She really was too good for me.
And I'm the biggest butthole in the planet.
The bliss that filled my senses in that short moment was quickly replaced with anger. Disappointment.
How could I do this to her? How could I leave her knowing she had her fears and worries whirling about in her mind? How do I reassure her that I was going to do everything to make this work?
I didn't want to lose her. Not again.
My thoughts were still messy in my head. Contradicting thoughts. Positive thoughts. Angry thoughts. I didn't know how to organize them. Especially not now, when my full attention was completing the promise.
I placed a hand on her flat stomach again and felt her flinch. Her sensitivity was rising by the minute.
I was getting dangerously comfortable with exploring her body. I didn't cross any lines, but I wanted to.
Should I slow down?
After seeing the look on her face, I changed my mind. She was liking this; it would be too difficult to deny it on her part. She was very responsive.
I shook my head a bit, clearing my thoughts.
It always hurt whenever I suppressed myself, but if it was for her, then I'm okay with the pain.
If I was the me several months ago, I would have never imagined ourselves in a situation like this. I never expected to fall so hard for her. She became both my strength and weakness.
I adjusted my position for my next course. I wrapped my arms around her back and pulled her closer to me. I sent her a lazy grin before I bumped noses with her.
Her eyes were narrowed as they opened, her eyelashes seemed to flutter gracefully as her piercing gaze met mine. After another moment of silence, her expression softened and gradually, she was at ease.
It was always like this. Whatever the situation, just a simple look from me could calm her down.
Ironically, just a simple look from me could easily piss her off too. Depends on the occasion.
Continuing with my quest to finish the hundred kisses, I set my lips on her jaw. Looking down, I held back another grunt.
She had discarded her shirt earlier, leaving her in only her bra, and I was determined to smother her exposed skin with kisses.
How she became so bold to remove an article of her clothing still appalled me, but I was absolutely not complaining.
Placing my hands on the sides of her waist, I held her in place. She gasped when I trailed butterfly kisses from her chest to her navel.
"Sixty-two... sixty-three... sixty-four..."
As my lips brushed against her skin, I felt her hand resting on the back of my head again. She had grabbed a part of my hair, ready to pull it in case I went to a dangerous zone, I guessed.
I snorted at the thought and earned a small glare from her. She knew exactly what I was thinking.
To torment her, I pressed my lips a little too hard below her navel and nibbled on her skin. I placed a finger on the garter of her shorts, teasingly tugging it down as I threatened to go lower.
Then she pulled my hair. I started chuckling in amusement.
"Butthead." She gritted her teeth. Her face was flushed.
"Aw," I cooed. I haven't heard that nickname in a while.
Feeling rather defenseless of her current position, she propped up her elbows to support the weight on her upper body.
In a reclining position, she shook her head to get her hair away from her face before shooting me another glare. It was to mask embarrassment.
"Don't make me kick you off the bed," she threatened, her leg curling around my waist.
"Your words and actions seem to contradict though," I mumbled in reply before burying my face on her shoulder. I don't know if this made any sense, but she was so soft. I wanted to cuddle with her after this.
Was this really me talking right now?
I was scarily honest today.
She giggled before pushing my head off. Sitting up completely now, she fixed her hair to the side. After watching her for a bit, I realized what she was doing.
She was stalling to calm herself down.
I noticed how ragged her breathing was getting, and her face was flushed. She's never experienced anything of this sort before. Of course she'd need a small break to calm her nerves.
But. Heh. I enjoyed getting on her nerves.
Not announcing my plans, I crawled on the bed around her and positioned myself behind her back.
I stared at her white and smooth skin with admiration. It was almost like satin, and running my fingers over it was a treat.
Brushing my palm against her spine, I felt her stiffen. Too bad her bra was on the way.
Keep it down, thoughts. Damn it.
Keep it down.
Without even realizing it, I had already started trailing another series of kisses, tracing her spine up to her neck.
She was too alluring.
I almost lost myself.
The thought of having her to myself, of being the only one allowed to kiss her and touch her like this gave me a strong sense of pride and a possessiveness I never felt before.
When I slid the straps of her bra down her shoulders, she didn't protest. I kissed her shoulder blades with much care but with utmost pressure.
What happens when I leave? What if I take a lot longer than expected again? What if this doesn't work out? What if another guy who actually deserves her comes along in my absence?
Those specific thoughts wrung my heart dry. I almost felt it bleed a little.
I didn't want that to happen. I never thought I'd be so scared of something so much. I was so scared to lose her.
I know I'll never meet another girl like her again in my life. I know I'll never love anyone like this again.
There was a war going on in my mind and in my heart.
Should I stay loyal to our business, face Richard and risk my relationship with the girl I've been in love with since I was six?
Should I stay loyal to this girl while facing Richard in some other way?
Should I just put more faith in us?
Love wasn't enough to solve all our problems. Or was it?
It was pathetic, but I wanted to complain. I wanted to whine. Maybe even tear up a little.
This just wasn't fair.
Just when I was starting to get genuinely happy with my life, I felt like this happiness was getting snatched away before I could hold on to it harder.
She was my happiness. Kristina. I loved her. So much. I can scream at the top of my lungs about how much I did but it still wouldn't feel enough.
She's the only girl I've ever dreamed about. She's the only girl I want to hold in my arms. She's the only girl I want to spend the rest of my life with.
She's the only one.
And I was leaving her.
I thought I've never dwelled in anything this much before, but I proved myself wrong yet again.
Suddenly, I heard a sharp intake of breath.
When I snapped back to reality, I realized I was already nibbling on the nape of her neck, the clasp of her bra was already undone and it was already hanging uselessly over her shoulders.
My hands were roaming all over her body. Her skin was so hot. My hands stiffened at the realization. Why didn't she push me away?
I noticed her hands were gripping my bed sheets. I could almost imagine the look on her face right now--her eyes shut tight and her lips bitten hard enough for it to bleed.
She refused to make a sound. Was she suppressing herself? Was she unsure how to react with all these new sensations?
After she released a long and sensual sigh, I stopped. I mentally smacked my head for losing myself again in that moment.
I needed to control myself before I really did take it to the next level.
"How many was that?" I asked, trying to keep my composure and behaved myself, placing my hands on her shoulders.
I was actually glad she wasn't facing me right now. My face was probably burning scarlet right now. My ears felt hot. I don't want her to see me like this.
With shaking hands, I hooked her bra and fixed the straps on her shoulders. She folded her arms against her chest and gulped.
"Exactly eighty," she whispered, her voice hoarse. That was hot. I mean. Oh God. Help me.
I got all tensed up.
When the number caught up to my damned brain, my eyes widened. Already eighty? How did I not realize?
How dare my body go on auto-pilot without my consent?
Shaking any more thoughts aside, I placed an arm around her shoulder and laid her down on my bed again. She was staring at me the whole time, and I was too self-conscious.
I actually dared to strip off the rest of her clothing. But she didn't complain. Did she want me to continue? Or was she just too stiff to react?
Impossible. Knowing her, she always had a reaction for something she disliked.
Using my free hand for support, I positioned myself again, leaning beside her. We locked gazes for a moment until my fingers began caressing her face.
I still can't get over how breathtakingly beautiful she was. Her piercing blue eyes, her delicate nose, her plump lips.
She was stubborn to a fault and only the people closest to her would know how honest she truly was. She cared for her friends, she even cared for strangers. She lost her temper quite a few times but she was always quick to forgive.
She cherished all the things I gave her when we were still kids. She cherished me. She was too pure.
Fixing my gaze on her, I started again by planting a single kiss abover her chest, just below her neck. I felt her heart knock on my lips again.
I threw my leg over her body and hovered above her, trapping her in my bed. Although she didn't let the flicker of distress show on her expression, her traitorous cheeks gave it away.
I poked my nose on hers and allowed my breath to spread on her lips. She stared at me in disbelief. I chuckled deeply before I nipped the nape of her neck slowly, my hands working their way towards her legs.
"Ninety..." She sounded like her breath got hitched in her throat. I took it as a good sign.
Her face was red and her breathing was frantic. The sight was both endearing and tempting that I had to stop myself from going further and do something beyond what we had agreed upon.
I pressed my lips right below her chin. "Ninety-one..."
I wasn't aware where I was planting my kisses now. I felt light-headed. I breathed in her scent and released a breathy sigh.
What was happening to me? It felt like I was under a spell. One very delightful spell.
Snap out of it.
Slowly and pleasingly, I nibbled on her nape and teased her by slightly brushing my lips on her delicate skin.
She was wincing and biting her lip so hard. It was so tempting.
Don't give in.
As I kissed the slope of her neck, it wasn't like the light ones I did before. I felt my mouth open and taste her skin.
I could tell she was fighting to keep her breath steady but it was to no success.
It reminded me of how weak I was for her, and how defeated she was by me. I sucked on her neck, unexpectedly finding pleasure in it.
She gasped and pinched my shoulder. "Ninety-three."
If it weren't for that little pinch, I would've went further. Again, I cursed myself for losing control. I was sure what I did was going to leave another mark. Still pink and fresh.
I was also sure she was going to murder me in my sleep if she found out about it.
I went up to her face and gazed in her sapphire eyes. She looked at me with anticipation and braced herself for the last seven kisses.
So after this, what happens next?
Pushing my thoughts to the back of my head, I kissed her chin. "Ninety-four..."
Then her left cheek. "Ninety-five..."
Her right. "Ninety-six..."
After we finish the deal, was it really going to be over?
The hundred kisses promise held so much meaning to me, I realized. And I felt like I didn't to let it go just yet.
But my body was moving on its own.
I gave her a smirk before nipping her bottom lip, then her upper lip. Delightful sounds of our lips smacking filled the room. "Ninety-seven... Ninety-eight..."
I gazed deeply into her eyes once more.
I never want to let her go.
And finishing the promise was like letting her go.
She pushed the back of my head to claim my lips. I obliged to her desire and savored the bittersweet moment. Though dizzy and winded, Kristina kissed me back fervently.
We were able to hold our breaths much longer than we thought. Months of practice, I suppose. Still, we breathed briefly between kisses.
The passion reached its peak and then slowly melted into something much gentler.
I smiled as she kissed me back sweetly, tenderly, and then I slowly pulled away from her.
She didn't know this, but to me, this was more than just a sweet childhood promise I wanted to fulfill.
This was probably the last time we shared moments like this.
Stop thinking that way. That won't happen. I mean it might happen, but I won't let it.
Keeping our childhood promise didn't mean we were ending our relationship. But still.
I decided to stretch the deal until I was ready to let go of it. I never knew I grew so attached to it.
I flopped down onto my side of the bed and covered my face with my back-arm. That took up a lot of my energy.
What we did just now was exhausting in my part due to the fact that I tried my best to suppress myself the whole time, not counting the several mental breakdowns in between.
Kristina sat up with a flustered face. She held a blanket against her chest as looked at me with a stirred expression. "Ninety-nine? Did I count wrong?"
"No," I replied. "You counted right."
I wanted to save the last one for a special occasion.
She continued to stare at me.
"I thought you wanted to complete the promise?"
"I changed my mind," I mumbled under my breath.
I didn't have the answers to her questions. I didn't have the answers to mine too. But I was tired of thinking about it. It was mentally draining.
The back of my head was already sinking in my soft pillow. Kristina was still sitting there, looking all confused and flustered.
I opened my arms and gestured for her to come to me. She sent me a suspicious look.
"What are you scheming?"
I released a deep chuckle, genuinely amused at her distrust of me. I know I had a knack of pulling pranks or teasing her, but when I was tired, I was tired.
"You don't want to?" I asked, my arms getting sore from hanging in the air.
After holding her serious gaze for a few more seconds, she sighed defeatedly and laid her head on my arm. Immediately, I wrapped another arm around her, pulling her closer to me.
This is the life I want. Is that too much to ask?
I woke up the next morning feeling strangely satisfied.
I fell asleep in his room and the next thing I knew, birds were already chirping out the window.
We almost got late to school.
I made a dash for my house to change into my uniform and get my things. Mom and dad weren't home. There weren't any messages from them either, which was kinda strange.
I didn't come home last night and they didn't look for me? Or maybe they already knew where I was? Still, usually they would've called or something.
Daniel drove by as soon as he finished changing as well. I left the questions for later because of the urgency to get to school on time.
I'll explain to them later if they ask.
Daniel and I didn't speak of last night but there was no feeling of discomfort between us.
In fact, last night ended a little too quickly for me. And I wondered why he didn't finish the deal when he said he wanted to.
Remembering last night, my heart relocated to my throat and I swallowed hard to push it back down. I couldn't calm down.
Why did I want him to go further?
Why did he stop?
I felt the heat in my cheeks as I crossed my arms against my chest. Maybe I wasn't attractive enough for him?
I shook away those insecure thoughts. What did I want him to do anyway?
I knew Daniel better than that. He must've had a reason for stopping right before the very last kiss.
He looked like he wanted to ask me a lot of things.
We didn't exactly have the chance to talk about it properly yesterday. So maybe we could talk about it later after school, after our daily self-defense practice.
Ella entered the room and she greeted me with a wide smile. Her eyes scanned the whole place and there was a glint of approval in her eyes.
"I love how it already feels like Christmas in here."
I studied the room and nodded, agreeing to her statement. Our classmates definitely did a splended job yesterday decorating the room.
I still wanted to organize my thoughts. My chin was resting on my hand with my elbow on the desk as support. As I continued to zone out, Ella made a clicking sound with her tongue.
"You forgot your necktie. That's kinda unusual for you," she noted, thoughtfully.
I looked down on my chest and just realized I had forgotten an essential part of our uniform. My neck looked empty without it.
I was in such a hurry this morning that I totally forgot about it. I think I left it at Daniel's place.
Before I could reason out to my best friend, something else caught her eye, and her full attention.
Wide-eyed, she grabbed my collar and pulled it down, causing one of my buttons to come undone and exposing a small part of my chest.
I squealed before swatting her hand off and buttoning my shirt up again. Her eyes glinted with excitement as she stared at me and the sleeping butthead on the other desk.
"Ella!" I scolded.
She squealed herself, but covered her mouth to suppress it.
"Oh my God Tina!" She jumped up and down, as if unable to conceal her excitement. How many cups of coffee did she chug down this morning? "You have... you have hickies!"
The way she said it was in a hushed whisper, but the excitement in her tone was too much for it to be considered a whisper in any way.
Good thing the rest of our nosy classmates were busy and didn't hear a thing.
When the her words sunk in my brain, my eyes widened as well.
"What?" I almost yelled, touching my jaw, neck, chest... every place Daniel kissed last night. There were marks? How many? "Oh no."
Understanding what my actions meant, she let out a proud laugh before pulling me in for a hug. "I don't even know what to say! Oh my God. Details, Tina. Give me the freakin' details after class."
"What are you guys so excited about so early in the morning?" Anne suddenly joined in the conversation. She had just arrived.
Kristopher was right behind her. When he noticed his cousin asleep on the desk, he sat on the one right next to him, not even bothering to wake him up.
"Anne!" Ella exclaimed, grinning at her excitedly before clapping her hands in an impressive speed. "We're having lunch at the rooftop later!"
"Sure!" Anne easily agreed, but was oblivious as to the reason why.
It wasn't like I didn't want to tell them. I was already planning to, actually. I wanted to hear their thoughts as to why he suddenly stopped.
I couldn't deal with the hundreds of thoughts in my head right now. I needed help from my friends to sort it out.
A topic like that was too embarrassing. And since Ella found the evidence on me, there was no backing out in this one.
"Can we join?" Kristopher asked, also oblivious. Daniel looked like he just woke up from his nap.
This is all your fault. You damn butthead.
"NO!" Ella and I chorused. The three of them were startled at the sudden outbursts. Ella then came to my rescue and giggled our way out of the suspicious looks we were gathering from our friends.
"We just have something to discuss later at lunch. Girls only. So you guys go on a date somewhere while I borrow your girlfriends."
It wasn't a suggestion. It was an itenerary.
Confused, the boys looked at each other before nodding unsurely. Anne looked confused too, but she seemed to have a hint, judging by the gleam in her eye.
The bell rang, signalling first period. Miss Stanford walked in just in time and we all returned to our seats.
Ella sent me a wink before she went back to her desk.
Our teacher started writing something on the board, and as the rest if the class took out their notebooks to jot down the writings on the board, Daniel suddenly tugged on my sleeve.
His head was resting on his arm against the table. He looked really sleepy.
I couldn't help but find him endearing.
The corners of his mouth formed a ghost of a smile and immediately, I knew there was something bothering him.
I placed my hand on top of his, giving it an encouraging pat.
Was it about last night? Was it about the Watanabes?
"When we get home," he said, quietly in case Miss Stanford notices. I felt my heartbeat quicken when he averted his gaze. "Can we talk?"