Chapter Twenty Six
The past two weeks of being home have been the best I’ve had in years. I can’t remember laughing with my dad in I don’t know how long, and the best part about everything is that I get to share all of this with Elena. She and I have grown closer than anyone in my life, surpassing Dion and even Mia.
“Aren’t they supposed to be fluffier than this?” Elena scrunches up her nose as she analyzes the sheet of chocolate chip cookies she’s attempted to bake.
My mom takes a look and lets out a slight laugh before she picks up one of them and studies it herself. “I think they look fine. I think we should have Xavier be the taste tester.”
The cookie lands in my hand as I send a joking expression towards Elena’s way and arch my eyebrows up. “You’re wanting me to taste this to see if I die first? Real nice.”
“Shut up.” She teases. “Just taste it, please.”
My eyes become alive in humor from her sentence, and almost as if she can read my mind she bites on her lip to keep from smiling. The cookie goes into my mouth and it’s actually way better than I expected it to be. I take another bite and nod my head. “It’s really good.” I tell her. “Honestly.”
She and my mom both take one for themselves before my dad strolls into the kitchen and peers onto the counter. “I smelled those all the way from the bedroom.” He chuckles. “Mind if I grab one too?”
“Oh, go ahead.” Elena smiles at him. “They’re for everyone.”
My mom licks chocolate off of her fingers and goes in for another one. “So what are you two planning on doing while you’re up here?”
Elena looks at me before she shrugs her shoulders. “I’m honestly fine with whatever. This past week has been great. I’d be fine just kind of hanging out. I know it’s been awhile since you’ve seen Xavier.”
“Yeah. I mean, we didn’t really have anything planned. We don’t have money to do anything else anyways.” I chime in. “I blew through the money you gave us to come up here already, mom.”
“I think I have an excellent idea for you guys.” My dad suddenly beams and grabs his wallet that’s sitting on the dining room table. “This is Elena’s first time in New York, right?”
We both nod.
“How about you guys go down to Niagara Falls for the weekend? You can’t come upstate without seeing the falls. Plus, I know the guy that owns the Marriott there. He can get the two of you a room.”
Before I’m able to ask how that’s even possible, he pulls five hundred dollars out of his wallet and passes it over to me. I’m gawking at all of the bills before my gaze meets his. It’s not like my parents are poor, but I know that five hundred dollars is a lot of money for them.
“Dad, don’t you guys need this?” I push it back but he immediately shakes his head.
“Xavier, it’s the least I can do.” He sends me an apologetic stare and clasps my hand around the money. “Go have a fun weekend. Take the truck.”
Elena cheers with excitement as she claps her hands and does this little dance. “Thank you so much!” She smiles. “I can’t wait to see the falls. I’ve heard so much about them.”
When Elena looks at me I can’t say anything back to her. We’ve both been so giddy and happy around each other lately. It’s impossible to ignore the chemistry between us. After what happened last week, after we did more than we ever have, I can’t help but be infatuated with her. Before her, I never would’ve imagined myself dating anyone else ever again, but here I am wanting more than anything to make this girl mine.
“Oh, you two are going to have so much fun.” My mom radiates with joy as she’s bouncing around the kitchen to clean up. “You have to go to this restaurant there. You can go so high up and see all of the falls while you eat. What’s the name of it, honey?” She looks at my dad.
“I’m not sure.” He shrugs with a mouthful of cookie. “You’ll have to google it.”
“We’re leaving tomorrow then, right?” Elena beams and bites on her lip again. “Is it bad that I want to go pack already? I’m so excited.”
“Go.” I usher her with my hands and appreciate the way her tank top emphasizes her breasts. God, I’m dying to see more of her again.
As she scurries out of the kitchen to head towards the guest room, my parents are looking at me with smug expressions.
“What?” I laugh. “Why are you staring at me like that?”
“Oh, nothing...” My mom trails off. “Just saying that I would be extremely overjoyed if she became my daughter-in-law.”
“Oh, god.” I groan. “Please, stop. That’s way too soon to be saying that.”
“I’m sorry.” She smiles. “I’m just so happy for you, baby. You’ve gone through so much that it’s just nice to see you with someone.”
“Well, we’re not together.” I tell her. “Not technically.”
She rolls her eyes before she sends a look towards my father. “What’s up with kids these days? If she’s here with you to meet us, and if you both act like you can’t get enough of each other, you’re together.”
I can’t sit here and explain why it’s so much more complicated than that. There’s so much more to the story, but I don’t need to talk about it with them. This whole thing with Elena and I is for she and I to discuss, and right now things are going just fine. I want to make her mine more than anything, but her mental state is the most important thing to me right now. I’m not going to do anything to set her off and push her to a point where she’s uncomfortable.
“Whatever.” She waves her hand when she realizes I’m not saying anything. “I have laundry to do. “All I’m saying is that I approve of her. She’s good for you.”
I grab another cookie as she disappears down the hallway, my dad giving me a smirk once she’s gone. “Thank me later for getting you out of here for the weekend.”
“What do you mean?” I ask with a mouthful of cookie.
“You’re here with your whatever-she-is, stuck in a house with your parents, and now you’re going to go to a hotel that overlooks the falls for the weekend. I’m not an idiot, Xavier. I used to be nineteen too. I’m just saying have fun.”
My cheeks flame when he pats me on the shoulder and walks away to watch television in the living room. He doesn’t even know that we honestly haven’t reached that step yet. We’ve done virtually everything else, but that has been off limits to her so far. I’m not upset because I knew this before I started all of this with her, but it’s definitely on my mind a lot about what it’ll be like when we finally do.
“Dad?” I call his name from the kitchen before he turns his head around on the couch to look at me. “Thank you... for all of this. I mean it.”
We arrive in Niagara Falls around two in the afternoon. It only took about two hours to get here, so it wasn’t that long of a drive. More than anything I’m just ready to see Elena’s face when she sees the falls. Pictures don’t do it justice whatsoever. When you see it for the first time it’s unreal.
We’re staying at the Marriott, an expensive hotel that overlooks the falls. When my dad’s friend got back to him about making a reservation for us I was surprised to find out a suite was still up for grabs. Then again, it is winter. There’s not a lot of tourists here this time of year.
A bellhop comes over to take our luggage before I hand my keys over to the valet driver to park our car. We’re so close to the falls that you can actually hear the roaring of the water. Elena looks like she’s going to burst with happiness.
“I just can’t wait.” She gushes.
“I know, I know.” I chuckle. “We’ve gotta go put on our coats and mittens and stuff. It’s windy when you get there, trust me. You’re going to appreciate me when you’re not as cold.”
We head into the lobby, marble floors and fancy furniture spaced out around the room. The receptionist hands us our room keys after we check ourselves in, and on the way up in the elevator to our room I see Elena staring at me with that same look she’s been giving me.
“You’re wanting to say it?” I guess, letting out a little laugh.
“Very much so.” She says quietly.
I watch her twirl a piece of her long, brown hair with her fingertips before she brings her gaze down to look at her boots. The elevator doors open and it’s only seconds before we find our room.
“No way.” Elena gasps when the floor to ceiling windows show us a complete view of the falls. “No WAY!”
Our bags have been delivered to our room, so I grab them and put them on the large king size bed with the dazzling white comforter.
“Xav, look!” She points out towards the falls and puts her hands on the glass to look down at them. “Oh my god! We have to go see this in person.”
“We can.” I tell her. “Come on, let’s get our stuff on.”
Elena looks like a little kid from how happy she is. I want to pick her up and kiss her. I want to throw her down onto this bed and make love to her until the morning in front of this incredible fucking view.
Did I honestly just say make love?
Pushing the thought out of my mind, we put our coats, hats and mittens on. When we’re about to leave, she points to the bathroom before her jaw drops open.
“Look at the bathtub!” She shrieks. It’s a huge jacuzzi with a small basket of complementary rose petals on the edge. I refrain myself from thinking about all of the things we could do in that tub.
“Come on.” I tug on the sleeve of her jacket and let out a laugh. “Let’s go.”
When we get to the falls, Elena can’t believe the view that’s in front of her. It’s cold as hell, and the wind is whipping around us so rapidly, but staring at her looking at the view is so worth it. I’d sit here for an hour to watch her be just like this. No worries, no anxiety, just... happy. There’s nothing like it.
“It’s so loud!” She squeals and takes her phone out so that she can snap some photos of it. It’s a frozen tundra for the most part since it’s December, but the water itself is still roaring down, drowning out everything except our voices. There’s only a couple of others here wandering around, some stopping to take pictures, but for the most part they just stand for a second before they go seek some warmth.
“Take a picture with me.” She says and smiles shyly. I grab her phone from her and open up the camera, flipping it around so that it’s facing us. We both look so relaxed and carefree. It’s a nice change for once.
I stand behind her and throw my arms around her neck, bringing her close to my chest so that the camera can come around in front of us. She grips onto my arms and gives the cheesiest smile I’ve ever seen. It makes me laugh, and then it makes her laugh too, so I snap a couple of us off guard.
She spins around in my arms, but I don’t release my grasp. Instead, I move my arms down to relax around her waist as my back rests against the railing that protects us from the falls.
“I like this one.” She gushes and shows it to me. We’re both laughing, and I can see in the picture the way I look at her. It looks like I’m completely infatuated with her. It’s true, though.
“I do too.” I tell her. “Can you send it to me?”
With a nod of her head, I see her take a mitten off so that she can message it to me. I like the fact that she hasn’t moved out of my arms yet. After she replaces the mitten and shoves her phone back into the pocket of her jeans, she looks back out to the falls and smiles once more.
“This is just... beautiful, Xav.” She whispers and then looks back up at me.
Her cheeks and nose are all rosy from the cold, but her brown eyes are filled with nothing but warmth. They’re like a caramel swirl, and, if possible, I’d get lost in them forever. I wouldn’t even think twice.
Before I met her, I didn’t know that being this happy was even a reality. Before I met her, I thought I’d be dealing with my demons forever. But as I look at her right now, I realize that those demons are diminishing day by day. She’s becoming someone that I can’t see myself ever being without. For the first time ever, I honestly don’t want anyone else but her.
“I’m in love with you.” I blurt out, letting out a huge breath once I say it.
My arms grip her tighter in fear that she’ll run away from me, and in my whole nineteen years of life I don’t think I’ve ever felt this vulnerable before. She makes me so nervous even though I’ve known her for months now.
She isn’t saying anything back. She just looks back out at the water and then back to me. I’d give anything to be able to read her mind right now. What the hell is she thinking?
“If you don’t feel the same, then...” I trail off and clear my throat. “I mean, I’ll understand. I knew when I met you that you didn’t want to fall for anyone, but I just can’t hold it in anymore. You just needed to know, and if that-”
“Xav.” She bites her lip to keep herself from laughing. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t in love with you too, I just...” She sighs and looks back out at the water. “It’s a scary thing for me, you know? I’ve never felt this way about someone before. It’s new territory. I just don’t want you to get hurt. I know what I’m capable of. I know how horrible I can be with this fucking addiction of mine.”
“But I knew what I was getting myself into.” I interject. “If I didn’t think I could handle it then I wouldn’t be here. I’m in love with you, Elena. Not just certain parts. All of you. I’ll take this however slow you want, alright?”
She nods her head and wipes away a tear that falls onto her cheek. “I just don’t want to ruin this. I’m so happy.”
I tilt her chin up with my fingers and pull her closer to me. “I’m not going anywhere.” I tell her. “You’ve got me. Always. There’s no ruining this. No matter what happens between us I’m always going to be someone you can run to. I promise you.”
“I promise you that too.” She giggles and wipes away more tears. “Damn, what the hell happened to us? We used to be assholes, remember?”
“Yeah...” I chuckle as I remember all of the memories from the past couple of months. “I don’t know what happened, but I’m glad it did.”
“Me too.” She says and shivers. She nuzzles her head into my chest and lets out a whimper. “Okay, we need to go inside. I’m so cold.”
“Agreed. Maybe we could try that restaurant my dad was talking about. Are you hungry?”
“Starving.” She replies.