Chapter Twenty Nine
WINTER BREAK ENDED way too quickly. As I help Elena unpack and get situated into her dorm room, I can’t help but think about how lonely it will be tonight alone. Since when the hell did I ever give a shit about sleeping alone?
“Well, I guess that’s everything.” I drum my fingertips on the wood of her headboard, trying to figure out a way to stay longer. I don’t want to seem clingy, but damn. It’s going to be weird being without her.
“Yep. I’ll be fine.” She sends me a reassuring glance as she begins to take out her pajamas for the night. “You should head back to your place. It’s getting dark and you still haven’t unpacked anything.”
It feels like she’s trying to kick me out almost, so I just nod my head and head for the door. I’m not going to seem like some clingy ass boyfriend. If she wants space then she can have space.
“Wait.” She grasps onto the sleeve of my sweatshirt and pulls me in to kiss her. I smile into her lips and tug her closer, running my hands down to gently squeeze her backside.
“Goodnight, Elena.” I whisper when I pull away. “I’ll call you tomorrow.”
My eyes pop open to Elena poking me in the arm. I have no idea what time it is, but it’s early as hell because I didn’t fall asleep until around two.
“What are you doing here?” I mumble groggily.
“Um, Dion let me in. He was still up. There’s just a lot of, um, silence. It was weird. Ameila isn’t getting back until tomorrow, and I’m just so used to sleeping with you lately that I just... well, I don’t know. I just came over. I wasn’t thinking. I probably should have-”
“Elena.” I groan and put a pillow over my face. “Can you please just get in the bed and stop talking? I’m so tired.”
She crawls in beside me and doesn’t say anything back, the silence surrounding the room. I turn on my side to face her and pull her towards me so that her back is against my chest. I listen to her breathing for a few minutes, and just when I think she might be asleep she lets out a sigh.
“What is it?” I mumble against her ear.
“I just can’t sleep.”
She rolls onto her back so that her head is resting against my bicep, her teeth tugging on her bottom lip. It looks as if she might cry.
“Hey,” I grasp her chin so that she’ll look me in the eyes. Suddenly I’m not as tired as I was a few minutes ago. “Are you okay?”
“It’s just one of those nights that I really don’t want to be alone.”
I kiss her forehead and grip her tighter to somehow make her feel better. I don’t know if I’m helping any, but it feels good to know that she came to me when she’s in a bad place.
“Do you want to talk about it?” I ask her.
She stares up at the ceiling for about a minute, letting out another sigh before she closes her eyes. “A lot of the times I just don’t see what talking about it will do. I know what my group tells me and what they preach about, but it’s easier said than done. I try to make it seem like nothing about my past gets to me, but at times it feels like the weight of the world is on my shoulders from how much shit I carry.”
“So give me some of that shit to carry.” I offer. “Lay it on me. Let me try to help.”
“There’s nothing you can help with, Xav. How are you supposed to help me forget about what happened? I lay in the dark alone and all I can think about is my dad coming through my door and doing it all over again to me. Isn’t that crazy? It’s been years since it happened, I was so young, but I still can’t sit in a dark room alone without getting petrified that I’ll see him again.”
I lean up and reach over her so that I can switch on the light. “You’re not crazy.” I tell her. “I’m the same way, Elena. I don’t like sleeping alone either. Demons can be such a bitch.”
“Yeah.” She agrees.
“Can I ask something? About your past?”
Silence surrounds the room until she nods her head, reluctantly agreeing.
“When did you go into foster care? How did anyone find out?”
She thinks about it for a second before she says, “I guess I told my teacher something that didn’t sit right with her. Is it bad that I can’t even remember her name? The one person that helped me and I never even got to say thank you.”
“You were young.” I explain. “That’s not your fault.”
“It doesn’t matter. I still wish I could have at least told her my gratitude for saving my life. If it weren’t for her, I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I can guarantee that.”
“Well hopefully you see her again one day.” I tuck a strand of hair behind her ear and watch her bottom lip tremble. I wish I could take all of this pain that she has away. I can just see all the shit she’s been through reflecting in her eyes right now, the pools of sadness swimming in the caramel brown swirls.
“I love you.” She says, biting on her bottom lip once more. “I’m so glad that I found you.”
“And you’re never going to lose me, Elena. We started this whole thing between us without even realizing it and I think that’s something worth noting. You’re my best fucking friend. I mean that. You’ve got me for life whether you like it or not.”
This causes her to smile, and when I see those pearly whites of hers a sense of relief comes over me. I want to be able to be her safe place. I want to be able to make her feel better when she’s down.
“Okay, you can turn the light off now.” She bites on her thumbnail, sending me an apologetic stare. “I’m sorry that I brought all of this on you tonight.”
“Elena, you don’t have to be sorry.” I tug her close so that her chest is pressed against mine, feeling her nuzzle her forehead into the crook of my neck. I pull away slightly just so that I can pull my phone out from my pocket and bring up the spotify app. I search up a relaxing playlist and let the white noise fill the room.
“No silence.” I tell her. “And let’s just sleep with the light on tonight, too. I want you to get some sleep. I’m here and I’m not going to let you get hurt ever again. That’s my promise to you.”
Almost as if that’s exactly what she needed to hear, she lets out a yawn and slumps into my body as her eyes flutter shut. I love watching her sleep. If I weren’t so tired myself I’d stay up to make sure she’s alright.
“I love you, Xav.” She mumbles.
“I love you too, baby.”
I freeze once the nickname leaves my mouth, my body stilling as I wait for her to answer. I don’t know why I called her that. It just came out. How the hell am I falling so fast for her?
“You’re so corny.” She giggles and entwines her leg with mine underneath the covers, easing any fears that I just had. “But I love it, baby. Goodnight.”