Conflicted Affection

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9

It couldn't have been anything I ate! All I ate was a pop tart for breakfast! Maybe the lack there of of food was the issue.

"Dillan?" Ryland's voice broke my detective headspace.

"Hmm?" Is all I can manage, as I am trying to numb the burn in my throat.

"Are you ok?" He almost whispers.

"Mm." I groan in response.

"Oh, my dad said if you get hungry I should give you crackers like saltines, which I hope you have."

"Mm." I reply, and weakly hold my thumb up. I feel better, but I fear that if I move it will only make me sick again.

"Hang on," Ryland says as I notice him get out of sight and listen to the opening and closing of cabinets until I hear Ryland whisper-shout, "Yes!"

He nearly runs over and feeds me saltine crackers, which actually really helps with the sickness.

I guess I needed to eat because I feel less weak, and soon grab the tea and box of crackers from Ryland and eat two whole packs of saltines from the box. Ryland has to fix me about six more cups of ginger tea after that.

My mom then tells me she has to go, and soon after, the silence finally breaks.

"I'm sorry for ignoring you." Ryland speaks up.

"You ignored me?" I ask quietly, gulping as if I thought it would take the throat pain away.

"Yeah," He pauses, "I just was bitter and being an asshole."

"It's ok, I deserved it." I chuckle, but he doesn't return a laugh.

"I guess?" Ryland replies, unsure of himself.

"I'm just glad you're here." I don't know what I mean by that, I keep telling myself I am happy we were friends and that is all, but I don't think I really know what I meant.

"Oh," Ryland replies, with the same expression of confusion that I am feeling inside.

"Listen," Ryland continues, "I'm just dealing with a lot right now. I don't know what to do."

I begin to return the expression of confusion, "You can talk to me about it, I mean if we are friends by now."

Ryland just nods, staring at the floor, and bites his bottom lip for a couple of minutes.

"My family is just putting pressure on me to accept something that I don't want to accept. Yet, if I don't, something bad can happen. It's really complicated and I can't completely explain it." Ryland says, then bites his bottom lip again.

"We can do the project to get your mind off of it. Maybe you can have some ginger tea too." I smile.

"No, those are for you. I'll take a soda or juice. But, we do need to finish that project." He finishes and finally looks up at me, and slowly smiles at me.

Something feels odd again, but I can't help but smile back. It is like we both are lost in thought while looking at each other, and it just turns to staring.

"I hope you aren't too sick." Ryland speaks with a sudden fruity tone.

"Me either." I reply, slowly getting captivated by him. I forget all about my sickness, the throat pain--everything.

"Dillan?" Ryland's tone gets quieter, more tender. As my eyes focus on him, my heart beat grows louder and faster.

"Yeah?" I ask a little too quietly. I can barely get it out.

God you're so beautiful, I think to myself. At this point, I don't care about "being normal" or yelling at myself. I just want to grab him and smash my lips onto his, or just hug him close until the next day.

I didn't realize how much I missed him until this moment.

"I-" Ryland starts, "I don't know." He chuckles.

Before I know what I am doing, I got close to his face, our noses inches apart. Gently and slowly, I place my lips on his.

I don't want to stop, but I want to make sure he actually likes it, so I pull away.

I look at him, and he just stares at me. He has this look of confusion, surprise, and another I couldn't quite get down. Then, he smiles shyly, but charmingly, at me.

He laughes shortly and softly, "Not bad." He nearly whispers.

"Thanks." I chuckle, "I hope it was ok."

"Yeah, I'm ok with it." He smirks.

"Can I-" I start, but the door soon opens and we jump away from each other. Mom's excited and kind vibe booms through the barrier of silence.

We still look at each other, but in small glances. Ryland soon looks nervous, and the shock of the moment seems to catch up to him.

I see him take a big gulp and look at me once more, but longer this time. He smiles for a second then clears his throat before standing up.

"Well, I gotta get home. Dillan," He says to me, but looks at the floor, "I will take the project home with me today." He chuckles nervously.

"It's upstairs on my bed." I say, and with that he rushes upstairs.

"Are you having hot flashes?" Mom chuckles.

"No, why?" I chuckle back.

"Well your whole face is bright red and," Mom pauses and put her hand on my arm, "You're burning up!"

"Oh," I look down, and think about what happened. It surely isn't helping my case at all.

Ryland soon runs down the stairs, and I can't hold back my smile when I see him.

I wish I could've kissed him again, I find myself thinking. There is no use fighting it, I like Ryland.

I like Ryland.

"Thanks Miss Norwell!" Ryland says, panting.

"No, thank you." Mom replies, smiling.

Ryland just nods and rushes out, not once looking back at me.

Wow, I chuckle to myself, I like Ryland.

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