It took approximately fifteen minutes for them to come out and I’d not had time to ask a very stressed-looking Eli what was going on because two minutes prior to their exit, the bell signaling us to get to first period had rung. I’d waited as long as I could and just as I started to leave (having no other choice), I heard the main office door finally opening, their voices spilling out behind me just after I’d passed it. I briefly considered turning back, so what if I was late to class, but then realized that I was not the only variable in this equation. Eli would be late, too, and he was never late, being the model student and all. I decided that I could live with waiting until later. If his approach earlier had signaled anything, it was that we’d hang out more throughout the day; whenever our schedules allowed, that is.
Sure enough, at lunch, I was mid-sentence explaining to Dave how a vampire could totally kill a werewolf (Autumn was not with us) which was a question he’d asked based on a movie we’d recently seen, when a guy slid in next to me and rested his head against mine. I’d immediately known by the guy’s scent that it was Eli. Plus, Dave wasn’t looking alarmed.
“Hey,” I said with surprise, lightly resting my hand on Eli’s knee. “No lunch with friends outside school?”
“Not today. I’m in no mood for their protective bullshit.” He changed the subject, “how are you?”
Dave was staring at his tray. I worried he was feeling like a third wheel but he didn’t actually look uncomfortable. If anything, he looked like he was holding back some other emotion. Couldn’t figure out what it was, though.
I looked back at Eli, and caught him staring at me wistfully. I felt self-conscious.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said before I had a chance to think of something to say.
Oh, god. I tried to look away to hide the blush that now crept into my cheeks, but Eli turned my head back towards him. “I’m not lying.”
“Eli, what’s wrong? I’m not…I…if anything, you’re the one that’s beautiful.”
“Oh my god!” Dave burst out, “You are so fucking cute!”
We both looked at him just as he snapped the picture on his phone.
“Dave!” I objected.
He held no regrets, as was evident in the slightly-evil cackle that escaped him. I’ll admit that was pretty funny to behold.
“Kiss me,” Eli said at once.
That sentence unsettled me. I mean, why would Eli want my straight brother to kiss him? It didn’t make a lick of sense until I actually looked at Eli and realized he’d meant me. Okay, well, yes, kissing was great but, see, problem was he was clearly upset, and as much as I desperately wanted to feel those lips on mine, I felt like I’d be taking advantage if I did so right now.
“Eli, I want to—”
“So do it!”
“Luke” His eyes flashed, warning of his temper.
“No, listen!” I persisted. “If I kiss you right now, I’d feel as if I was taking advantage of you. Clearly you are upset and I just…respect you too much…” I trailed off as tears welled in Eli’s eyes. “Eli?”
Had I hurt him this badly??
Without a word, he got up and rushed out of the room. I looked at Dave, so horribly confused, and starting to mentally beat myself up.
“Dude!” He urged. “Go the fuck after him!”
I hurried. Just as I exited the cafeteria, I saw Eli disappear into the bathroom. I followed. When I walked in, he was leaning over a sink like he was about to throw up, body trembling as he attempted to stifle the sobs that were not going to be held back. I said nothing as I walked over and pulled him into my arms. I expected him to resist; instead, he leaned heavily against me and broke down. God, how my heart broke for him.
It ran its course in ten minutes; once coherent again, he left my arms to clean up.
“Guess I’m not so beautiful now,” he mumbled, glancing at himself in the mirror before reaching for a paper towel and blowing his nose.
“You’re wrong,” I said softly.
He looked at me in the mirror with surprise.
“Oh?” He sniffled, wiped his nose, and then tossed the wad into the trash.
I moved in closer and took his hands just as he turned towards me.
“Eli, what’s wrong?” I could tell he was about to say ‘nothing’, so I stopped him. “And don’t bullshit me. Nobody breaks down over nothing. Was it me?”
He scoffed and slapped my cheek, only…it wasn’t really a slap, it was more like one single pat, firm enough to send his message but nowhere near firm enough to cause any pain at all.
“Don’t you dare,” he warned. “You’re amazing. Hell, I’m crying because you’re amazing.”
Uh. “But I thought you said—”
“You’re not the reason I cried, Luke,” Eli said firmly. “Stop thinking that. I cried because my father is trying to tear us apart. He’s trying to pull me out of school to home school me because he thinks I’m in danger because of you. You proved him wrong in the cafeteria just now. You’re the first guy to ever notice that I’m not feeling like myself. You’re the first guy to tell me ‘no’ to a make-out session because you were concerned about me. You’re the first guy to be conscientious about not taking advantage of me. Luke, do you get it? You’re the first guy to fucking care like that. And I just…” his breathing hitched, choking off his words. After a few seconds he got it back under control. “I cried mostly because I’m so fucking frustrated that he won’t give you a fucking chance.” He took a deep, shaky breath, and then looked down at my hands which were still holding his. “I feel like suddenly I’m fighting the whole world just to keep you.”
I swallowed hard. On the tip of my tongue I desperately wanted to say: then maybe I’m not the right one for you, but I couldn’t. Which was weird because, see, normally, I would say that in a heartbeat, the guy would get pissed, and I’d never hear from him again but Eli…he was different…he was more, and I wasn’t willing to let this go in some stupid self-sacrifice move.
“You’re not gonna be fighting them alone,” I told him.
He looked up at me with great surprise.
“Those are not the words I expected to come out of your mouth.”
I smiled faintly.
“Yeah, it’s new for me, too.”
He moved in closer.
“You’re not just talking about what you said.”
No, no I was not. The past guys I’d dated, if you want to call it that, I’d been in fight or flight mode, with the needle solidly on flight. I didn’t feel that with Elijah. I felt at peace. I felt…safe. I trusted him, which is not something that comes easily for me.
Eli put his arms on my shoulders.
“Will you kiss me now? I promise it’s okay,” he said softly.
“You’re really sure?”
He smiled, looked down for a moment, took a few steadying breaths, and then looked back up at me. “I’m sure, Luke.”
So I kissed him. We soon remembered where we were standing and how gross that was, so we moved out into the hallway and resumed kissing until a teacher, sounding amused, told us to break apart and get back into whatever classrooms we were supposed to be in. Eli and I walked hand-in-hand back into the cafeteria, and thus began our beautiful, wonderful, mesmerizing, fantastic, glorious, amazing, mind-blowing…I’m running out of things to say…relationship. I’d never been happier.
Senior prom; not a thing I would normally have any interest in attending, but my *see list of adjectives previously used above* boyfriend (whom had oh-so-marvelously talked his father down from home schooling him) wanted to go, and I was not about to say no. It’d been six months, to the day, that we’d been dating, and that evening after another successful date, he popped the question after a slight make-out session on the porch. I had kissed him so often and stared at his lips even more so that I could pick him out in a crowd if they were all wearing masks with just the lips exposed.
Anyways…of course I said yes.
And then we made out some more.
And then he went home and I went into the house with a boner. That’d been a thing lately. I hated that my mind was becoming too focused on the idea of having sex with Eli. I’m sure Eli didn’t have thoughts like that. Because why would he? I wasn’t sexually desirable.
Oh! Autumn got a girlfriend! Yes, I know, isn’t that great?? It’s been about four months but I’m still so super excited for her. She seems so happy, and her girlfriend was the greatest damned human (after Eli) that ever existed. Things were so fun whenever Eliza was around. We usually called her Lizzie.
Tonight the pair was together on the couch, cuddling and adorably asleep, while a rom-com played on the TV in the background. I snapped a picture of them and then snuck on past as quietly as I could manage on floors determined to give my presence away. They were deep asleep though, just my luck, and I made it successfully to my room.
…Where my brother was in the middle of it with his girlfriend. The horror! They didn’t notice me, so I quickly backed out, wishing like hell I could burn my eyes right out of their sockets, reach into my brain and sear that memory right the fuck out. The funniest part was they weren’t even being quiet. My head had really been in la-la land (okay, Eli-land) for me not to have heard them.
I decided to ask Eli if I could come over. In about two minutes he replied with one word.