~Whenever you’re ready, can we surrender?~Natalie Taylor.
Chapter Theme Song: ‘Surrender’ by Natalie Taylor.
I open my eyes to find my face nestled into Ansel’s neck while my thigh is casually thrown over him.
I gently lift my head, careful not to wake him since the image in front of me is the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. Ansel is laying on his back, sleeping peacefully while his chest rises and falls in breaths. His lips appear red and full, slightly parted as warm air passes through them.
The rain is still beating against the rooftops as I glance at the red numbers on my bedside clock.
I try to move away but he has an arm clasped around me, restricting my movement. My gaze dips to where our bodies are tightly knitted together, and I smile softly.
I take this rare moment to admire his features. He has a perfect nose; his eyelashes are long, and his eyebrows are naturally arched. His face is symmetrical, like an art piece.
He is beautiful.
I snap a mental image of his peaceful state so that if life somehow takes us separate places, I will always remember this moment. People come and go, and it is sometimes not their fault; I am mature enough to know that and be at peace with it.
Suddenly, his eyes flutter open. I should move away but it is all so sudden. I freeze in my spot as his sleepy orbs connect with mine. A silence falls upon us, the sound of the heavy rain filling the quiet void that lingers in the air.
“Are you alright?” He breaks the ice; his voice is calm yet raspy.
His hair lands over his forehead in a messy tuft, and since he is laying right beneath the bed lamp his eyes appear alluringly sparkly.
It must feel awfully creepy to wake up to someone staring at you so intently, but he does not seem bothered by it at all. However, that does not make me less embarrassed.
I break eye-contact with him as waves of humiliation flood my face. My first thought is to disappear from the scene. “Y-yeah…I’m fine.”
I pull away from him and begin to get off the bed when he gently grabs a hold of my hand, tugging me back to lay down. He hovers above me instantly and my eyes enlarge apprehensively as I peer up at him.
His hair now falls in his eyes but between the dark strands, he regards me intensely. “Rain…”
I feel small beneath him; my feminine figure is an obvious contrast to his masculine one.
“Can I ask you something?” His gaze travels down to my lips, and I swallow hard, nodding my head. He brings his forehead down to press against mine and the air gets caught in my lungs.
“How do you feel?” He whispers.
My heart skips a beat as he lifts his head to look me in the eyes. I slightly squirm beneath him, nervously. His expression is so intense that it sends shivers down my spine, or could it just be the cold night air that flurries the beige curtains of my room? Either way I am close to trembling, and the goosebumps trailing my skin is evidence.
“Like what do you mean exactly?” My voice quivers a bit. I am genuinely uncertain about his question. Does he mean my health or something else?
“I mean…when we are this close,” he clarifies, “How does it make you feel?”
Unsure how to respond, I lower my gaze from his. “I don’t know…”
He smiles a little, both his hands palming the bed to keep his weight above me. “You don’t know or are you scared to say?”
I peek up beneath my lashes, shrugging my shoulders. “I guess I like it...I like us being this close…”
His smile stretches wider while he studies my expression. The dim glow from the moonlight, partially covered by rain clouds, shines on his face, making his eyes appear darker than before.
Above the scraping noise of the tree against my window, I can hear my heart as it pumps through my eardrums. Slowly, his head begins to move in closer. I watch him intensely as he closes the small space between us. Without hesitation, he latches his lips onto mine; a kiss so enchanting that the whole world feels like it is standing still.
His lips are soft, like marshmallows and cotton candies. While he uses a hand to palm the bed, the other comes up to grip my cheek. I have never kissed anyone before, and I have never imagined that it would be this magical.
Skillfully, he slips his tongue into my mouth, it catches me a bit off-guard, but I keep the surprise at bay while he deepens the kiss. His palm leaves my jaw to roam down my waistline, slipping beneath my tank top. His touch against my skin is enthralling, igniting a hidden fire within me. He gropes my waist in his hand, pressing his body against mine.
We seem to fit perfectly, so perfectly.
His hand trails further down my body and the desire grows unbearably, but he suddenly halts his movements and breaks the kiss. My eyes are still closed as I breathe heavily. He strokes my jaw with his thumb then I hear a slight chuckle.
“Open your eyes, Rain…is this how naughty your dreams are? Is this how wet I make you?”
My eyes fly open with a loud gasp. I blink at the white ceiling above me, sweating profusely while my chest heaves in breaths. I sit up, frantically glancing around the room. It is morning and the rain has ceased, now replaced by a bright morning sun projecting onto the thin curtains. The sudden shift causes Ansel to open sleepy orbs, blinking owlishly while he tries to look at me.
I am immensely flushed so I leer my face in the opposite direction, attempting to catch my breath. “Uh, yeah…I just had a dream…that’s all.” I press a palm over my face, embarrassed at my thoughts.
God, why would I dream about something so utterly inappropriate? The fever was certainly playing tricks on me.
Ansel is concerned as he eases up on his elbows, his brows drawing together. “About what, Rain?”
“Nothing…” I bite down on my lower lip, wiping sweat off my forehead. I feel the bed slumps as he sits up, tucking his feet beneath him. He sighs.
“Are you sure? It must have been something to have you sweating like that...Was it a nightmare?”
Far from it.
I finally shift my face to look at him. His chest appears sturdier in the daytime, a noticeable beauty spot right under his collarbone. He is wearing a thin silver necklace; I had not noticed that last night and his hair is messy but looks effortlessly attractive. His sleepy half-opened eyes are evidence that I abruptly interrupted his sleep with my immodest antics.
I can still feel the kiss on my lips despite it being just a dream, and involuntarily my eyes dip to his, which appear fuller and pinker than usual. My whole face is scarlet as I look away from him.
“Uhm…no, just a dream.”
A dream that felt so real. Too real.
A loud knock on the door followed by my mom’s voice makes me groan exasperatedly.
“Rainey Slate, Open up!”
I bury my head in my hands. “She’s going to be so mad…”
The knob begins to rattle, and I get off the bed hastily, grabbing onto Ansel’s hand and pulling him toward the bathroom.
“Woah…is everything cool?” His forehead creases as I position him to the wall, my hands tightly gripping his biceps.
I nod. “Yeah…I mean no, the thing is…my mom took my cell the other night and she told me that I can’t see you or Riley…she’ll make my life a living hell if she catches you in here.”
He sighs, then nods comprehensively. “Oh, so that explains why I couldn’t get through to you yesterday. I understand…I’ll stay in here until she leaves.”
I smile a little, staring up at him. His gaze dips to my hands on his arms and I pull me them back awkwardly, just before my mom decides to knock again.
“God, can’t you wait?” I groan under my breath. With a sigh of frustration, I leave the bathroom and move to the door. I unlock the notches and open it to see her with a frozen fist in the air and a clear frown on her face. “I was just about to knock again, child.”
“I was sleeping.” I shift my weight from one foot to the next, the cold tiles numbing my bare feet.
She regards me rebukingly while she places a palm on her hip. Briefly peeking over my shoulders, she raises a plucked brow. “Jeff said he heard a boy’s voice in here.”
I glance at Jeff, who is standing behind my mom with big arms coiled across his chest. I roll my eyes, pulling my gaze back to her. “There’s no boy in here…”
Jeff’s eyes drift to Ansel’s shoes by the bedside and I swing into his view. He is way too nosey for his own good. It will not bother me if he learns that Ansel stayed the night and is now hiding in my bathroom, but my mom? She would make a big deal out of this and her constant bantering is enough to drive anyone insane.
“Did you go to school yesterday? Jeff went to pick you up and he said you weren’t there…”
“I was sick all day…” I scratch an eye impatiently. “I had a stomachache and fever.”
She tilts her head to the side. “Mm. Okay. Get ready and get to school, don’t waste my money.” She turns away and heads toward the stairs. However, Jeff still stands there despite her departure.
I twist my lips, cocking my head to the side. “Uhm, you can fuck off now.”
His jaws tighten and his gaze travels back to Ansel’s sneakers before he walks away. I roll my eyes at his back before slamming my door. I quickly return to the bathroom where Ansel stands against the wall patiently, his hands tucked into his pockets.
“Is everything okay?” He asks while he eases up to meet me halfway.
The bathroom is a lot colder than other parts of the room; hence, Ansel’s torso is lining with chill bumps. I sigh apologetically. “Yeah, I guess so. I am sorry I yanked you in here…you must be really cold.”
He smiles. “It’s not a problem. How do you feel?”
The question brings my mind right back to that bizarre, erotic dream last night. How he hovered above me, his dark hair shadowing his handsome face while his lips part to whisper the same sentence.
How do you feel? When we are this close…how does it make you feel?
My cheeks flush at the vivid memory. I fidget in my stance, avoiding his eyes. It is hard to look at him straight when that dream felt so real. “I’m alright…thanks for asking.”
Despite my response, he moves closer and presses his palm against my forehead. I immediately melt beneath his touch.
“Great…your fever is down.” He sighs in relief. “I am glad.”
I smile as he reclines his hand and we stare at each other for a while; quite longer than necessary. Breaking eye contact, I look around the bathroom anxiously. “So…uhm, let’s shower for school.”
I stiffen, realizing how severely weird the sentence sounded. I can tell Ansel is thinking the same since as I snap my gaze to his, a smile is pulling at his lips.
I justify it quickly. “I-I meant separately…not together…or anything like that.”
I should just shut up.
I close my eyes and Ansel tries to fight off a grin, salivating his lips. “I know what you mean, Rain.”
I shift my weight under his stare, jerking a thumb behind me. “There is an extra toothbrush in my cabinet, and you can use any shampoo or body wash you prefer…I have some sealed ones stacked away in there.”
“Okay, thank you.” He smiles, shoving his hands in his pockets.
“So…I’ll be outside.” I smile at him and leave the room.
I make my bed while Ansel takes a shower. After a while, the shower switches off and he exits the bathroom with damp hair. I try not to look at his wet torso as he moves over to the bed, where I had neatly laid out his dress shirt and white tank.
“Thank you.” He sends me a toothy smile and I offer one back while he grabs his cell off the bed-side table. “My family was worried sick about you yesterday, I told them I’d be staying with you for the night.”
I smile, fluffing the pillows and setting them on the bed. It is nice to know that they care about me. My mom showed no signs of sympathy when I told her I was ill this morning.
“Damn. My battery’s dead and I forgot to take my charger with me yesterday.” Ansel sighs, taping his cell on his palm.
“I have an iPhone charger if you’d like to give it some juice before we leave,” I suggest.
I hand him the charger before the sound of my mom’s engine pulls my attention. I move over to my window and shift the curtains, peeking out at the driveway. I smile when I see her car moving down the street. I was waiting for her departure so that Ansel and I could leave for school without her discovering that he had spent the night. I move to the bathroom for my morning shower, and while the water races down my body, my thoughts regress to the dream I had last night. Every part of me wish it were true; that he had kissed me, and it was not just a figment of my imagination.
Ansel is pulling his dress shirt on as I exit the bathroom. He swings his head around at the sound of my footsteps. I ruffle my damp hair, noticing how his eyes scan my attire, from the small tank top that barely covers my stomach, to the shorts that resembles one of an elementary kid. My face tinges pink from his stare while I reach for my uniform off the hanger.
“Nothing…” He bites his lip as he turns his head around, buttoning his shirt.
I insecurely tear my gaze away from him as I slip my skirt on. I slide the fabric up my legs, then frown when the zipper refuses to go up. I rattle the slide fastener, hissing when it is of no avail; another reason why I hate this uniform. Riley does not have to undergo this ordeal.
“Need help?” Ansel’s voice comes from the bed.
I nod my head, frowning. “Yeah, it just won’t go up.”
His footsteps approach me from behind and I drop my arms to my sides as his presence hovers above me.
“You know, the girls used to wear knee-length khaki shorts at Crosshill,” he comments as his fingers enclose around the zipper.
“Really? Well, that would have been better.” I sigh.
Ansel laughs. “Not a skirt girl?”
I shake my head. “Not really.”
The zipper vibrates as he slides it up, his fingers brushing my lower back in the process. I ignore the weird feeling the contact evokes as Ansel speaks again.
“I think you’d look equally as nice in both,” he mutters, almost inaudibly. I turn my face to look at him, an obvious blush creeping my face as he moves back to the bed.