Conflicted Affection

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15

I know I don't deserve that hug, but I can't let go.

The best I can do is say, "I don't deserve a hug."

"Everyone deserves a hug." Ryland says, laying his head on my shoulder and hugging me tighter.

I don't want to disagree with him, because it wasn't really worth it, so I just let him hug me.

We pull away, but still hold hands. The door is closed, so no one, especially my mom can come in and see what I am going to do. I turn around and lean into him and he put one arm around me and left one out to play with my hair.

Each time I feel his fingertips touch my head, my heart flutters and I shiver, especially when he bends down to kiss my cheek. When he does, I look over at him and we stare at each other for more than a few seconds before he leans in and kisses me gently.

"What are we?" I whisper to him.

"I don't know, that's up to us I guess. I don't mind what we are, as long as we have some kind of relationship." He says.

"What do you mean?" I ask, confused with what exactly he meant. I know he wants to be around me, but if he likes me why wouldn't he just want to be with me.

"If we don't work out, I still want you to be in my life. We don't have to be anything, as long as you're here I'll be ok." He says, making me think.

Before I can say anything else, the door burst open and we pull away fast, causing me to fall off the side of the bed and to the floor.

"Pizza is here!" Sean shouts at us, then runs away.

Ryland soon calms down, chuckling at me. Hearing him laugh calms my shock down a lot, and I laugh along with him.

He stands up and walks over to me, helping me up. He still holds my hand as we walk out into the hall, but we let go when we reach the bottom of the stairs.

I keep remembering how we first met, how our relationship had been throughout the years. I never knew this would happen, me beginning to accept my sexuality, Ryland wanting to be with me. I especially didn't expect me and him alone in his room, him holding me close, and him holding my hand as long as he felt comfortable, and him forgiving me for all the hell me and my friends put him through.

I never expected for me to truly realize my feelings for Ryland, I never knew we would kiss and we both would feel something. I never expected such a bond between us, a bond that maybe I only realize, but it's the most amazing feeling ever.

When he holds me, when he touches me at all, I feel this overwhelming warmth inside and out. My whole body seems alive, my heart jumps and twists, even when my mind says this is wrong, that there is no way this is real and there is no way he truly wants me in this way.

No matter how my mind reacts, my heart seems to win, and my body is working on its side. I know this because I unconsciously lean into him whenever I can. Even just being around him brings me a warmth that is undescribable.

I can't explain it, but I need it. I don't know if this is love, but my mind tells me there's no way I can fall in love that quickly, but the sensations I get when I am around him tells me otherwise as well as the way I think of him.

Yet, I felt this sense of attraction to him for a long time, not the type that means "wow this person is beautiful", even though a part of it is that. This type of attraction is one that tells me "there is something about this person and you can't let this person slip away from you."

Only now, I have realized I have had this feeling for years. I guess I have repressed my feelings so much that I never knew.

Max is back now, sitting at the table, already eating a triple meat pizza as if he is ripping off someone's head with his teeth. That's the only way I can describe how he is eating, or it's the only thing I could think of because of how I know him.

"We have triple meat, pepperoni, and cheese! I personally love cheese but I will save some for you, don't let Ryland tell you I won't." Sean says with a smirk, speed walking to the table and grabbing three pieces of the cheese pizza, and sitting beside Max who gave him a glare and returned his eyes to his plate.

Ryland leans in to whisper to me, "If you want cheese get it quickly, or he will think you don't want it and take it for himself." He grins wide and walks to get himself a plate.

He hands me a plate, to which I respond with a thank you. I decide to take at least one cheese pizza as well as a pepperoni, and I grab another plate to give to Alexa.

I normally cut up her pizza into little pieces. She always liked it like that, and that tradition doesn't stop now, "Does anyone know when Alexa is?"

"She is upstairs with May." Sean says gingerly, and his already cheery emotion seemed to increase as Lela comes into the kitchen.

I take the plate of cheese pizza bites--as we call it--and attempt to find her. The sounds of giggling and soft talking led me to her.

"Alexa!" I say loud enough for her to notice.

"Cheese pizza bites?!" She asks, grinning wide.

I respond with a nod and she runs over to grab her plate. I turn to Maybelle, "I assume they would be looking for you. You might wanna go get some dinner." I say kindly.

"Do they have pepperoni?" She asks.

"Oh yes. I got one myself. Hurry before they go out." I say, and that makes her jump up and run downstairs.

"Wait, I wanna come!" Alexa shouts, running after her.

I chuckle, and continue back into the kitchen.

When I sat down at the table, I see Sean giving me odd looks. They aren't mean, but they seemed to be a look of knowing but also a type of joking look. It is suspicious nonetheless.

My anxiety sparked after remembering him opening the door when me and Ryland were sitting close and I fell to the floor in shock. I wonder what happened while I was gone and I wonder what Sean may or may not know.

Lela seems to nudge him a bit and he turns his expression back to normal and continues eating his pizza.

Lela seems to be the only one who can truly put sense into him and he normally doesn't joke with her like he does other people, he only did that once and she walked away in tears. At least that's what people said, but I didn't really see anything except Sean talking and laughing and Lela walking away.

That was long before they were dating, which was 7th grade. I remember that being the only time Sean knew when to stop laughing and joking when someone ran off.

I try my best not to stare at Ryland, but I glance at him as little as possible. I watch him out of the corner of my eye and I can't help realize that even the smallest things he did makes my heart jump to life.

My head slowly turns towards him when I feel no one was looking, and I don't notice I had a smile on my face until Ryland looks over at me while smiling back. My smile grows wider, but soon fades when I turn my head back and notice Max looking at us.

Instead of being confused--like I assumed he would be--he just smiles at me and shakes his head while looking down.

I try to force my smile down, but it won't budge. My heart keeps pounding and I can't get that smile out of my head. I used to never see Ryland smile, but when I did, something inside me just sparked, which made my anxiety jump as well because I didn't want to like him at that time.

In my opinion, Ryland had an still has the best smile in school. Not only that, but the best hair, the best eyes, the best everything. I even admitted it back then, without hesitation.

I remember allowing myself to think of him for once. I was 14, sitting alone in the dark at midnight, unable to sleep. He crossed my mind, his rare smile, his shy and handsome laugh, the little mannerisms he had. That was the only time I let my heart control me for once.

At this day and time, I don't think I regret that moment. I don't think I ever did from what I remember--not even a little bit.

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