Dreamy Dylan

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#39 Rebound

Andre buzzes me into the building when I ring the doorbell downstairs, and by the time I step out of the elevator, I’m trembling. He’s waiting for me in the doorway, wearing sweats and a wrinkled T-shirt. He looks like he just got out of bed, and his mussed hairdo confirms that suspicion.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

He waves away my apology. “No problem. You’re welcome anytime. It’s really good to see you again. A week is a long time to go without my daily dose of Dylan.”

I follow him inside, feeling better already. “We talked every day.”

“I know, but it’s not the same, and you didn’t respond to any of my texts yesterday, so I figured…” He shrugs, sitting down on the couch with a slight yawn. “I don’t know. I thought maybe I crossed a line again and you decided to cut me off.”

Ah fuck, that’s so not how I wanted to make him feel. “I’m sorry, I was busy yesterday.”

“Sure,” Andre says, sounding a little gruff. I think I might have really hurt him. I told him I’d come by the bakery the day I got back into town, and then I didn’t even text. Instead, I ignored him all day long. Of course he thought I was ghosting him again. Wouldn’t be the first time, after all.

“I had to get all my stuff out of Kian’s place,” I explain, taking a seat as well. “We broke up.”

Andre’s eyes go wide, and a small smile pulls at his lips before he controls it and his expression turns serious again. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

“No, you’re not.” I roll my eyes at him. “Let’s not pretend here.”

“I’m sorry that you’re hurt,” he verifies. “Am I truly upset you’re no longer with Kian? No, I’m not. But breakups are brutal, and for you to move out the very same day… It must have sucked.”

“It did. It still does, but…” I shrug. “To be honest, I don’t think it’s losing Kian that makes me sad, it’s the way it happened. We were heading for a breakup anyway, but the way it all came about…”

“How did it?” Andre asks softly. “Why did you break up?”

“Two reasons.” I could easily only tell him about the cheating, but I don’t want to lie. I’ve been lying to myself long enough, and I’m done with it. “I realized something this past week.”

Andre tries to fix his hair, only messing it up more. His beard is in cute disarray as well, but when he rubs a hand over it, it kindly gets back into shape. “What did you realize?”

“I didn’t miss Kian.” My eyes lock with his, and I take a deep breath. “Instead, I missed you.”

He looks like I just told him I’m pregnant with a dragon baby, and I will lay an egg in a few minutes. “You missed me?”

“Why do you think I texted and called every single day?”

“Because we’re friends?”

“I didn’t talk to anyone else as much as I talked to you. I barely even talked to Kian. Plus, you know…” Ugh, why is this so hard to spell out? “The feelings.”

Andre is still staring at me. “There are feelings?”

“Aren’t there?” For a split second, I wonder if I imagined it all. If I’m the only one feeling the tension between us.

“There are,” he confirms, saving me from my downward spiral. “So… did you… I mean… I can’t believe you broke up with Kian because of me.”

“Yeah, that’s not exactly what happened. I went home late at night instead of the next morning, because I wanted to talk to Kian. I was going to tell him about us. Well, about you. I mean, he knows you, but he doesn’t know that there’s something between us. Not that anything ever happened, because I’m not a cheater like him, but… you know what I mean. The feelings.” For lack of a better way to explain things, I keep getting back to that word. “I wanted to be honest with him, and I knew that I would probably end up single after that talk, but I was okay with that, because… well, because of everything you already know. And then-”

Andre holds up a hand to stop my rambling. “A cheater like him? He was cheating on you?” He sounds angry now. “After all the crap he put you through, and how hard you worked to fix things with him, he cheated on you?”

It’s so sweet how enraged he is for me. “Yeah, I got home to find them in bed together.”

“You walking in on them fucking?” Andre shudders. “That is the worst way to find out.”

“Not true. Somehow, this was even worse. They were sleeping, spooning and everything. Judging by Silas’ stuff being all over the place, they’ve been playing house the whole week I was out of town.”

“Silas?” Andre looks at me like I’m crazy. “But… but…”

“I know.” There’s no need to rehash exactly what happened. “It’s been going on for two months. So I got out, spent the night at Thomas and Tracy’s place, and yesterday I moved all of my stuff out of his house and stored it in a shed. So… I guess I’m homeless now. That’s why I didn’t text, call, or stop by the coffee shop. Not because I didn’t want to see you, but I honestly was busy and I was a bit… you know. The way you feel the day after a breakup.”

“I do know.” He reaches out to squeeze my arm. “It’ll feel that way for a while, but you will be okay.”

Electricity sizzles between us the moment he touches me. It’s not even skin-on-skin contact or anything, but it still feels like my whole body is humming with anticipation. His breath catches, but unlike the other times this happened, neither of us pulls back.

“So… I’m single now.”

“Yeah,” he breathes. “You’re single.”

“And you’re single too.”

“And I’m single too.”

We’re still staring at each other, and somehow the space between us grows smaller. Or maybe I move closer. I don’t know. All I know is that somehow, my hand ends up on the side of his face, feeling his beard prickling against my skin. He squeezes my arm harder, and moves in even closer, our faces so close together that I can smell his breath. It’s minty fresh, which means that he spent the few moments he had between me ringing the bell and reaching his apartment to brush his teeth.

“We shouldn’t do this,” Andre murmurs, leaning into my hand.

Terror grips me. Did I read this wrong? “Why not?” I stroke my thumb over his cheek, loving that I can finally touch him like this without having to feel guilty, while at the same time terrified of rejection.

“You’ve only been single for five seconds.”

“One day.”

He sighs. “Really, really briefly.”

“So?” I lean in closer, my lips almost brushing against his.

He pulls back like I burned him. Fuck. I must have been reading into things after all. He doesn’t want to kiss me. Why would he?

“I don’t want to be your rebound.”

“Oh.” I drop my hand, putting it in my lap. What do I do with that comment? “You wouldn’t be.”

“You discovered your boyfriend, who you’ve been with for over a year, was cheating on you. You no longer have a place to live, and you haven’t even begun to process everything that happened. We can’t just…” He motions between us. “Like I said, I don’t want to be your rebound.”

I’m disappointed, but at the same time I get what he’s saying. It’s the same thing Tracy said. What Thomas warned me about. I shouldn’t try to move on so soon. If I want a shot with Andre, a real one, I need to take some time to be by myself. It just sucks, because right now I want to kiss him so fucking badly. At least he’s not completely shutting me down, right? He’s not saying never, just not now.

“We can still be friends, right?”

Andre smiles, and he finally takes his hand off my arm, only to put it on my knee. It’s not helping much with keeping things strictly friendly. “Of course we can still be friends. And when you’re truly ready to move on… If you’re still interested by then, I’d love to go on a date with you.”

“I’ll definitely still be interested.”

His hand moves up a little, rubbing my leg. “Good.”

I groan and put my hand over his. “Stop that.”

“Oh, sorry.” He looks away guiltily, but we’re still touching, now basically holding hands. “I know, I shouldn’t be touching you.”

“It’s not that I don’t like it. I just don’t think it will help if I’m sporting an erection while we talk about how we’re not allowed to be anything but friends right now.”

He lets out something that sounds an awful lot like a growl, and his grip on my hand tightens.

“Too late,” I murmur, my dick stirring. “I’m officially hard now.”

“Fuck this,” Andre grunts, closing the space between us and pressing his lips against mine.

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