Chapter 26 - Begged
The second my lips grazed over River's it felt like I had sealed both of our fates. I'd wanted her for longer than I cared to admit and I knew what giving in would mean.
But I still did it.
And it was worth it.
Her skin was so warm underneath my fingertips and her lips were softer than I could've ever imagined.
I pushed my body against hers so I could feel more of her before I pulled away.
Because I absolutely had to pull away.
She dug her fingers into my arms, trying to guide me back the second she felt my retreat. And I've never wanted to give in to her more than I did at that moment.
I nuzzled my face into her neck and took a deep breath. I wanted to commit every last thing about her to my memory. So I could hold onto it for longer.
"Did I do something wrong?"
She whispered when I dropped my hands back to my sides.
That question alone was enough to make me take a step back, but I had to touch her one more time.
I brought my hand up to her cheek and let myself be memorized by her skin for a few seconds. I was close to letting myself get lost in her when I heard the back door slam.
I stepped away as River ran to her bathroom and locked the door.
Jackson's voice carried down the hallway, but I was willing to bet he hadn't made it past the kitchen yet.
I shut River's door behind me as I walked down the hall.
"Hey man, where'd you go? You want another beer?"
He was bent down, pushing things around in the fridge and I knew he was only half paying attention so he wouldn't notice if I only answered one of his questions.
Or if I had his little sister's chapstick smeared all over my mouth.
"Yeah, I'll take another."
I told him as I wiped the back of my hand across my lips.
I felt the need to explain to him what was going on, after all, he was my best friend.
But my innate desire to protect River won out.
It always won out.
The truth was, I had no idea how he would react if he knew my thoughts right now.
I could take a guess though.
"Why are you making that face?"
I asked as I took the beer he was holding out toward me.
"I don't know. You just look. . . Weird."
Probably because I just made out with your little sister.
And I wanted to do it again.
Actually, I was already trying to figure out the best time to sneak back down the hall.
"I think I'm going to start taking dating seriously."
Jackson blurted out. He never brought this subject up but I could see why he would now. Being deployed gave you too much time to think, not just think, but contemplate. It put things into perspective and I could already tell what he was focusing on.
"That's good, man. You should."
I tipped my beer back and drained half of it.
I noticed him looking outside and it occurred to me what he was thinking about.
"Probably shouldn't start seriously dating either of those two."
I pointed my beer bottle toward the backyard.
"Come on, let's go back outside."
I told him before I looked back down the hall at River's door.
What was she doing in there?
Was she reading?
Had she already passed out, curled up into a little ball under the covers like she always did?
Was she still in the bathroom?
Was she in the shower?
I couldn't afford to let my mind wander that far.
I stayed up and cleaned the kitchen after everyone had left. Jackson was sleeping on the couch when I turned the lights off and locked the doors.
I walked down the hallway and starred at River's door. I was sure she was asleep and if she wasn't, what would I do?
I had no idea but I knew I couldn't go to sleep without touching her again.
The feeling of being in the wrong was becoming smaller and smaller. Now it felt more like this was unavoidable. As if I was supposed to look at her and run my fingers over her skin.
Less taboo and more necessary.
I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open slowly. The projector I bought her was on, and I watched the stars dance across the side of her face. She was lying on her stomach with her face turned outward, I half expected her eyes to pop open but when I walked closer I could see how deep she was breathing. She was sleeping peacefully and all I wanted to do was lay my hand on her back and feel her lungs fill up with air and release it, over and over again.
So I did.
I carefully sat down on the edge of her bed and splayed my fingers across her upper back, letting her body heat sink into my palm. Then I did something that I hadn't done in forever.
I begged God to look after her.
I asked Him to protect her not only when I was around but also in the times that I was away. Because I knew that time was inching closer.
And I asked Him for forgiveness for falling in love with someone that I shouldn't have.
Because I knew without a second thought that I was too far gone to pretend that I wasn't in love with her.
It wasn't because I didn't try, trying to ignore my feelings for her took up most of my time. But I couldn't do it anymore. I'd tasted how sweet she was and I knew that I wasn't done, not by a long shot.
I leaned down and pressed my lips to her temple and she turned underneath me.
"You came back."
I twirled a piece of her hair between my fingers as she blinked up at me.
"Can you lay down with me?"
I shook my head.
"But you want to?"
She asked and I nodded my head.
I couldn't put into words how bad I wanted that.
"Tell me something you've never told me before."
She curled into a ball and pulled the covers up to her neck.
There was a lot to choose from. I wasn't exactly the type to share much but I wanted to tell her all of it.
"Both of my parents died in a car accident when I was thirteen."
The words came out a lot easier than I anticipated.
"I'm so sorry, Beau. That's awful."
Her voice was just a whisper but I could tell that it upset her.
I ran the back of my knuckles over her cheek. I didn't want to bring sadness anywhere near her, I just wanted her to know.
"Tell me something else."
"I want to kiss you again."
That was an easy one.
I leaned down and smiled against her lips as I watched her eyes close. She straightened her legs and I leaned down further into her mattress, resting my elbow close to her head.
I ran my tongue over her bottom lip, which caused her to open her mouth and I took the opportunity to get a better taste. I was just about to slide my hand under the cover so I could feel her skin when I heard a creak behind me.
A creak that I recognized well because it only happened when someone walked in a certain spot in the hallway.
And by the time I turned around, it was too late.
"What the hell?"
Jackson murmured from River's doorway and I knew right then that I'd made a massive mistake.
The look on my best friend's face said it all.
And none of it was good.