Somewhere Above the Clouds

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Chapter 45 - A no go

November 2007

River

"Drink up, Taylor."

I sat another shot down in front of my best friend and he eyed me suspiciously. We had been at this frat party for hours and he'd looked at me that same way all night.

We were leaving in the morning to fly back to North Carolina for Thanksgiving break. It was only for a few days but I was dreading being back there.

"We should probably head back soon. Are you staying with me?"

I took my shot, then his, and nodded as pushed the disgusting liquid down my throat.

"I think that's enough."
Taylor stood and grabbed my hand.

He was right I had lost count of how many drinks I'd had and for someone who rarely drank, that couldn't have been a good thing.

Taylor opened up the passenger side door to my car and I climbed inside.

"Are you okay?"
He asked and I wanted to roll my eyes. But not at Taylor, never at him.

I wondered if he actually expected an answer. Because even I wasn't so sure what my answer was anymore.

"I'm okay enough."
It was the best that I could do. I didn't want to acknowledge what was going on in my personal life, so I didn't. I went to class, studied my butt off, and hung out with Taylor every spare second that I had. All of the minutes in my days were accounted for. It helped me make sure my mind was focused on other things.

Anything except him.

Nights were always the hardest. My mind would betray me while I slept. It would wander back to him and I would have the best dreams of my life.

We pulled into Taylor's apartment complex and walked inside. I stepped out of my boots and put them in their place in his shoe rack. To anyone else, it would seem as if I lived here too and sometimes I forgot that I didn't.

"I need some wine."
I sighed as I fell back onto the couch.

"No, what you need is some food. Pizza?"
He asked as he pulled the frozen pie out of the freezer.

"Sounds amazing."

I fiddled around his apartment for the next twenty minutes and when the timer dinged, we raced to the oven. Taylor beat me, bumping his side into mine. He slid his hand into the oven mitt and I moved so he could open the oven.

"Hungry?"
He asked as he saw me staring at the pizza.

I nodded and turned around to grab our plates.

We sat down at Taylor's tiny dining room table and I tried to hold down my laughter long enough to eat a slice.

"You are the goofiest drunk."
He teased as he laughed about something stupid.

"And you're the cutest."

"I'm not drunk."

"No, but you're still cute."
I winked at him and he sighed.

"Okay, let's get you to bed."

"No way. I'm practically sober, let's watch a movie."

He smiled at me and I knew I was winning.

"Fine."

I flipped through the channels until I struck gold.

"Oh my gosh, One Fine Day! This is the best. Have you ever watched it?"

Taylor was staring at me like I had grown an extra eyeball.

"Oh, right. What was I thinking? Boys and romance movies, a no go."

"Hey, I like romantic movies."

"Well, then you're in luck."
I settled back into the couch, pulling my legs up under my body and Taylor put one long arm behind me. We had sat this way hundreds of times before but I'd never allowed myself to look at him properly.

I tilted my head up a little and took him in. He had started to let his hair grow a little longer and even the hair on his face was scruffier. It made him look a lot older and attracted the attention of basically every girl that saw him. I leaned in a little closer and inhaled, God when did he start smelling so good?

"What are you doing?"
He was looking down at me with a big goofy smile on his face. I leaned back out of his bubble and started biting my nails.

"Nothing. You just smell really good."
I admitted.

"Thanks."
He squeezed my shoulder and turned his attention back to the television.

I tried to watch the movie but I kept catching myself noticing new things about him.

"What is it?"
He asked when he saw me studying him again.

I shook my head and looked at the tv screen. Freaking George Clooney was on it and that still wasn't enough to distract me from thinking about Taylor's lips. I needed to think about them. I needed to make sure I wasn't going to think about anyone else's.

"Taylor?"

"Hmm?"
He asked without turning toward me.

"Can you kiss me?"

He moved his head slowly in my direction.

"How drunk are you?"

"Not at all."

I was sober and I knew what I was asking for.

He smiled and relaxed back into the couch.

"We've tried this before River. Remember?"

"We could try it again."
I shrugged. Maybe I could give him more this time. I could try at least.

I stared at Taylor's lips then back in his eyes and his body moved closer to mine. I lifted my head a little and he wrapped one hand around the back of my neck but didn't move to kiss me.

"Please."
I whispered and he let out a long sigh before giving into me.

Taylor kissed me slowly, he slid his tongue in my mouth and took his time with me. I wondered for a second what he thought of me right then.

Did he think that I had lost it or was he enjoying this kiss as much as I was?

I didn't have to think about it too long, he pushed my body back so that I was lying flat on the couch and he was on top of me. It felt so nice having him that close, I wrapped my right leg around his midsection and he groaned. I slid my hands under his shirt and he pushed off of me and sat straight up.

"Shit, River. I'm sorry."

Sorry?

I sat up and grabbed his hand, trying to pull him back.

"Why are you sorry? Couldn't you tell that I liked it?"

"You don't though."
He shook his head.

"I do."

I could want him. I was capable of it.

"Come back."
I tugged at his hand again but he didn't budge.

"We can't do that again."

"Why?"
I felt the tears coming and silently cursed myself.

"It's not right."

"It could be."
I breathed.

Taylor stood up and ran his hand down his face before looking down at me.

"Let's go get some sleep."
He offered me his hand and I stared at it for a second.

He wiggled his fingers and I reached out and put my hand in his. He pulled me from the couch and we walked to his room. His bed wasn't made because, well why would it be?

I snuggled into one of the pillows while he went to the bathroom. Sleeping in the same bed had never been an issue before and I wondered if I had messed that up too. I felt Taylor's side of the mattress dip down and sighed in relief.

"I'm sorry."
I whispered. I couldn't just leave it open-ended. I had to at least apologize for crossing our line.

"It's okay. I wanted to kiss you too. It wasn't just you, River. But I can't do that to you, I know you still love him and I hate to break it to you but you might always feel that way. I don't think those sort of feelings just go away. But then again, what would I know?"
He laughed and I was grateful that we were able to go back to normal this quickly and that I didn't ruin anything.

Taylor might not have thought he knew much about the subject but he made a lot of sense.

Whether I filled up every second of my days with my Yale curriculum or mind-numbing conversations, it wouldn't make a difference.

Beau was still there in the background of every bit of it all.

I found it oddly comforting to think about. It made me feel like maybe he wasn't so far away, so out of my reach.

And even if he was, I could keep the thoughts of him tucked away for now.

Because there was no maybe about it, I was in love with Beau and that wasn't going anywhere.
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