He’s watching me.
My knees wobble and I try my best to smile at him but my lips quiver so I stop. I wait for him to approach as he comes up the stairs, his gaze never leaving mine, his always smiling mouth somber, his entire expression solemn.
Oh God, he hates me. I know it. And I can’t blame him. Maybe this won’t work out after all. I’m a liar. I broke his heart and he broke mine and there is no way we can play nice while trying to put a freaking project together. I’m delusional I just know it—
“Hey Luce.” His deep, warm voice washes over me, making me weak and I release a shuddery sigh.
He stops directly in front of me, scooting into the aisle so he’s not in the way of the other students leaving. “You look good.”
I glance down at myself. I’m wearing yoga pants and a light gray hoodie I picked up at WalMart for super cheap. My hair is in a sloppy bun and I have mascara and lip gloss on, that’s it. I thought about dressing up for him but was afraid that would be too obvious.
So I went for the extra shabby chic look instead.
“Thanks,” I finally say because how else can I reply? “You look good too.”
And he so does. He’s wearing jeans and a black long sleeved T-shirt that molds perfectly to his chest and arms. His hair is even longer than the last time I saw him and he is just mouthwateringly delicious.
I wonder if he’s moved on.
I wonder if he’s found another girl to replace me.
I frown. The thought is too depressing to contemplate.
“So I don’t know if you realize this,” I start, uncomfortable with how closely he’s watching me. His gaze is on my mouth, making my lips tingle and I shift away from him, feeling silly. I’m totally overreacting. “But Professor Bailey wants us to work on our project together. Since I haven’t been to class much and you haven’t either I guess…”
“Yeah, he told me.” He steps closer, the heat and scent from his body reaching out to me, making me feel all shivery inside. “You don’t mind working with me?”
“No.” I shake my head. “You don’t mind working with me?”
“Of course not.” Another step. He gets any closer and we’ll be touching. The room is empty save for Professor Bailey who’s down at the podium gathering up all of his materials. I really hope he’s not watching us. “I’ve missed you.”
Oh. I didn’t expect that. Not at all. “You have?” I ask like a dork.
He nods, takes another tiny step. I glance down, see that we’re literally toe to toe. What is he doing? My heart starts beating so hard I’m afraid he could see it moving beneath my sweatshirt. “Being away from you gave me time to think.”
“About what?” I croak.
“About you. Me. Us. Together.” He touches me and I close my eyes, savoring the feel of his fingers catching mine. We’re sharing the same air, the same space, his body brushing against mine and slowly I open my eyes to find that he’s watching me so very, very carefully. “I want there to still be an us. I know we’ve had a few rough starts but I think—I know you’re worth it.”
I curl my fingers around his, holding him tight. “You really think so?”
“I fucking know so.” He starts to chuckle. “Is that all you can do, Luce? Ask a bunch of questions every time I tell you something?”
He reaches with his free hand to tuck a stray strand of hair behind my ear, his fingers lingering, drifting down my cheek. “Do you still think I might be worth it?” he asks quietly. My skin flushes hot from his touch and my thoughts scatter everywhere. I have no idea what I planned to say so I blurt out the first thing that comes to my mind.
“Kiss me and shut me up before I say something really crazy,” I whisper.
“That sounds like the perfect plan,” he murmurs just before he claims my mouth with his.
I’m kissing Lucy in what I thought was an empty classroom when I hear the clang of the door shutting, startling us both so that we spring away from each other like pre-teens being caught necking in the closet. Her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are bright. She’s wearing that look she gets when she’s that adorable combination of flustered and aroused and I realize then just how damn much I missed her.
And how much she really means to me.
“I think that was Professor Bailey leaving,” she explains, her voice shaky as she glances around. “There’s no one else in here.”
“Then he probably saw just how well we’re going to get along as we work on our project together.” I grin and she smiles in return. But then my smile fades and so does hers. “Seriously Luce, are you okay with this? With us?”
“I missed you so much,” she confesses. “But I figured you were mad at me.”
“I was. I can’t deny it. What you did…I couldn’t wrap my head around it.”
She looks stricken by my words, like she wants to bolt out of here. I need to be honest with her and she needs to hear it. “I wondered if you were trying to play some sort of joke on me but then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized you just got…caught up.”
“That’s exactly what happened,” she whispers. “And I’m so sorry, Gabe. Really I am.”
“I know.” I smile at her, wanting to reassure her. “I’m over it. We both made mistakes. And I felt bad leaving you alone and having to deal with—everything.” I still feel like an utter shit for that. My heart is heavy with remorse over my stupidity.
She waves a hand like it was nothing but I see the flicker in her gaze. “It was a false alarm. Don’t worry about it.”
“A pretty scary one,” I add.
“But false, so no big deal.”
I haul her into my arms and kiss her again before she can say something else in that brush it off way she’s currently displaying. Forget that crap. What we went through was like an emotional hurricane and I’m glad we both came out okay on the other side. “It was a huge deal, Luce. I don’t ever want to leave you like that again,” I murmur against her lips after I break the kiss.
“Then don’t.” She kisses me again, dipping her head so she can kiss along my neck.
Ah Christ. I close my eyes, contemplating my next move. I should make her stop. I have more to say but her lips on my skin feels so damn good. I’ve missed her. In every little way I’ve missed her so much and it’s such a relief to have her in my arms again I almost feel like crying.
But I’m a macho ass so I refuse to do that.
“I love you Lucy,” I tell her, making her pause. She lifts her head, her eyes the widest I’ve ever seen them. “I’ve been in love with you for a while but I was too dumb to realize it.”
“But Gabe, your family…” I shake my head but she presses on. “Don’t they have certain expectations of you? Jade explained a few things. Things you never told me.”
“I didn’t want to burden you with my problems.”
“If we’re really going to be together, we have to share everything. The good and the bad,” she says and I nod my agreement.
She’s right. The good and the bad, it all comes as part of being in a relationship with someone. “I don’t care what my parents think. Let me deal with them. All I want is you. You’re the only thing that truly makes me happy.” Pausing, I take both her hands in mine. “I was just wandering through life before, acting like a selfish prick and always looking for the next big thrill. Then I met you and realized you were the only thrill I need.”