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Authors: marian gard

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BOOK: To See You Again
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I don't answer him at first, and then I say, "Is
it as horrible as you'd worried it would be?"

"Right now isn't horrible at all, actually." He
extinguishes his barely-smoked cigarette and takes a step toward me. Just then,
the doors burst open and out stumbles Ryan with a very wasted Spencer draped
over his shoulder.

"I think homeboy's check's been cashed," Ryan
announces. Ryan had appeared pretty trashed in the bar, but he seems
surprisingly sober in contrast to Spencer's current level of inebriation.

Spencer opens his eyes halfway, and gives me an
unfocused once-over. "There you are," he slurs.

"It got hot on the dance floor. I just needed some
air." I take two steps closer to him, but just before I reach him, he vomits
all over the sidewalk.

Ryan jumps back half a foot. "Whoa!"

Spencer stumbles toward a small patch of bushes
and proceeds to empty his stomach further. I don't glance over at Collin, but I
think I hear him softly chuckling. I turn my attention to Ryan. "My God, Ryan!
How many shots did you idiots do?"

Ryan's hands are obscuring most of his face, but
he widens his eyes in my direction and mumbles an apology. "Listen, I'll take
him home, OK. I'll get him to drink some water and return him to you tomorrow,
all right?"

"Sounds like a plan, Ryan. Thank you."

I'll admit it. I'm pleased that I don't have to
spend the rest of my night dutifully crouched near the toilet with him. Ryan
rights a groaning Spencer and then practically drags him down the street.

"I'll call you tomorrow, Rachel," Spencer calls
out, and it sounds like an apology.

Collin is smirking at me.

"Getting drunk seems a whole lot less appealing,"
I observe.

"Yeah." He nods his head in agreement. "That
pretty much did it."

"I'm calling it a night. Walk me home?"

Collin can't hide his smile. He's relieved to be
leaving the bar scene. I guess when he isn't in pursuit of his typical
objective there's not much here that interests him. I leave Collin to enjoy
some more nicotine consumption and head back inside to let Vanessa know I'm
going home. I swim upstream through a sea of pulsating, perspiring bodies in
search of my friends. I reach Vanessa and explain about Ryan and Spencer's
exit.

"Yuck. I have no idea why those two thought it was
a brilliant idea to drink themselves stupid. Um, do you care if we stick
around? Tabby just got us all another round." She takes a swig from her beer.

It's so loud, I have to lean in and yell into her
ear. "Absolutely. Do you care if I go?"

"Collin's walking you back?"

I nod. "Yeah, he said he would. You guys have
fun."

"Thanks, doll." She leans in and gives me a hug
and kiss on the cheek. "Let's do breakfast tomorrow."

"Sounds good," I call out as she pushes back
through the crowd toward the dance floor.

Vanessa turns back around once more and cups her
mouth as she shouts to me, "And by breakfast, I mean greasy food sometime
after
twelve-thirty!"

"Got it. Call me when you get up!" I scream back,
but I don't think she hears me. She's already been swallowed up by the rhythmic
swell of the crowd.

 

 

Collin

 

Raven pushes through the doors and finds me
leaning against the wall.

"What took you so long, Rave? I had to resort to
chain smoking over here!" I gesture around me with a lit cigarette balanced
between two fingers.

"Huh?" Raven glares at me, then, registering my
joke, she retorts, "Yeah, nice try. As though you need an excuse to chain
smoke."

"I can't just stand out here doing nothing without
looking like some kind of creeper." I start walking down the sidewalk, and
Raven follows a half step behind me.

She raises her eyebrows and gives me a gentle
nudge with her elbow. "You think a cigarette makes you look like less of a
creeper?"

"Less of a creeper? Ouch!" I smile at her. "How
ya' feeling?"

She looks up at me. "A little drunk…you?"

"Pretty darn sober, but that's OK." We keep
walking. We're just a few minutes away from her apartment and thoughts are
rolling around in my head. I almost told her how I felt before Spencer came out
and showered the sidewalk. What a dipshit. Of course, if he hadn't done that, I
wouldn't have her alone with me now. I look down at her and she shivers,
hugging her arms across her chest.

"Cold?"

She nods.

"C'mere." I pull her alongside me and tuck her
under my shoulder. I put my hand on her arm, attempting to warm her, and she
leans into me and sighs. Body language like this from any other girl would be
an indication that I'm green-lighted for the next move, but with Raven, I'm not
sure. Everything is different with her. I release her when we reach the front
door to the apartment and she unlocks it, takes two strides inside, and flops
on the couch. She begins removing her boots in a way that suggests doing so is taking
every last bit of energy she has left. I clench and unclench my hands.
Sometimes, when I'm not smoking, I have no idea what to do with them. Their
need to spasm is a reminder that I want a cigarette. I
really
want a
cigarette.

"Do you think you'll go to bed now, or are you
going to be up for a while?" If she's really drunk all bets are off. I'm not
sure what the hell my next move is, but I know I'll need her coherent for it.

Raven sits up and appraises me with her
crystal-blue eyes. "I'm up for hanging out for a while. I think I'll go get
changed, though. Do you want to scan the movie choices and see if there's
anything decent?" She gestures toward the TV where a big box of discarded
movies sits. Spencer dropped it off earlier this week. I guess some of the frat
guys were cleaning some crap out before graduation. He knows Raven loves
movies, but what he can't seem to comprehend is, like me, she prefers films
that
don't
suck. I follow her gaze to the box and decide to restrain
myself from uttering a single one of the slew of jokes that has just flooded my
brain.

Raven rises from the couch and heads toward her
room at the end of the hall. When she passes me, a single finger grazes my
chest and she says, "Something's up with you tonight. You're not yourself."

She has no idea.

I ignore the collection of mindless, blockbuster,
caveman shit that undoubtedly occupies the cardboard box and head to the
bathroom. I wash my face and hands and then brush my teeth thoroughly. I avoid
looking at myself in the mirror until seconds before flipping the lights off; I
can never stand to stare at myself for very long. I come out to the living room
and collapse onto the couch. Raven is sitting on the floor in a pile of DVDs. She's
already changed into plaid pajama bottoms and a light blue tank top. I
definitely favor this bedtime getup over the boxer shorts she wore last night.
I'm pretty sure they belonged to Spencer.

"I didn't even know they made this many shitty
movies," she mutters, "and then like half of them have sequels! It's
disturbing." She tosses another one behind her and then lays back on the floor
for a second before rolling onto her stomach and looking up at me.
Holy shit.
She looks so sexy in that position. If I don't look away right now I fear
my feelings will be obvious. I'm not sure what's come over me tonight, maybe it
was all her talk about things ending and graduation, but I don't feel like I
can hold out much longer. I have to say something to her. Tell her. She huffs
out a sigh, stands, and walks over toward where I'm sitting. I pat the green,
beat-up couch that doubles as my bed and she plops down next to me, curling her
toes into a crevice between the cushion and my leg.

"Sorry if your night got ruined, Raven."

She clicks the TV on and starts flipping through
channels. "It's no big deal. I had fun. It's just a night of drinking and
dancing at a crappy bar, nothing special." A moment passes and my brain is
stuck in second gear. I can't seem to formulate a reply to her worth uttering. After
another beat Raven murmurs, "I guess I just don't want to look back and feel
like I missed out on something." She turns and locks her intense eyes on mine.
"Isn't there
anything
you want to do before this is all over?"

My breath freezes in my lungs. I open my mouth,
but my brain remains clogged.
Pathetic!
I hear Victor's voice ring out
in my head. I can't even manage to speak, let alone properly compliment her. I
don't have the words to answer her innocent question. The moment I've wanted,
no
needed
, is right here and I'm at a total loss.

It took me a long frickin' time to accept these
feelings toward her. I didn't want them. It scares the shit out of me to desire
her like this, so deeply. Being without her scares me more, though. Other guys
have managed to tell her—what's wrong with me? My mind fills with rotating images
of all the idiots Raven has dated since I've known her. I find myself focusing
on Spencer and the smug looks he gives me when he's got his possessives arms wrapped
around her. He knows what I want; he always has, even if it's been lost on her.
I shove all thoughts of him aside forcefully. If I'm going to get through this
somehow, then for tonight, that d-bag can't exist.

 I don't believe in love at first sight. In fact,
when people say shit like that I have no idea what they're talking about. The idea
of loving someone the moment you meet them feels more than improbable to me; it
feels insane. Still, there was something about Raven that drew me in
immediately, and it wasn't just physical attraction, I can admit that much. Things
have built between us for years and now I'm faced with the reality that I'm
about to lose her. I can feel it. I've been trying to ignore graduation plans,
moving, job interviews, all of it, but time is running out. She's all but said
it. It's goodbye, soon.

Raven is gazing at me and I see her eyebrow crook
up on one side. I'm acting weird; I know it. She knows it. I have minutes, or
more likely, seconds, before she says or does something that causes this moment
between us to collapse. I won't know how to recreate it, if it does. I hold her
gaze, attempting to will something,
anything
, to come out of my mouth,
but nothing does.  Instead, I just nod my head, and she releases her brow and
leans toward me like I'm about to whisper something. I lean in too, and I do
whisper.

"There's one thing." Her eyes widen and she's
looking at me. She's looking at me that way that only she does, and for a
moment I feel safe, a sensation that for me, is typically foreign and fleeting.
I use it, and the adrenaline that appears to accompany it, to reach out and
touch her, gently tugging her toward me until our faces are just inches apart.
I feel her breath hitch the same moment mine does, and I close the space
between us by running my lips over hers, teasing her mouth open.

Her shocked response tells me she didn't see this
coming, but the way her lips and hands move with mine, I know that she's at
least thought about it. We kiss for what seems like several minutes and I keep
waiting and bracing for the moment when she pulls away, but she doesn't. I move
my lips to her neck and kiss my way up to her earlobe, where I whisper, "Tell
me to stop, Raven, if you don't want this." I want her more than anything, but
I won't take her if she doesn't want to be taken. She shudders in my arms and I
open my eyes and pull back to look at her. Her blue eyes look three shades
darker, illuminated only by flickering glow of the TV and a distant light in
the kitchen. She searches my face briefly, and then, as though a decision has been
made, pulls me back down onto her, kissing me deeply.

My mind is racing. I can't believe this is
happening and I want so badly to feel her everywhere, see every inch of her and
memorize every single sound she makes. She slips her hand inside my shirt; first
kneading my back, then pushing her hand from my stomach to my chest up to my
shoulder, which she grips tightly, pulling me closer to her. Her touch feels
incredible and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind with want.  I shift her
clothing, gaining access to her bare skin, and caress her breast. She gasps and
arches in my arms.  If it's possible, I begin kissing her even more
passionately than before and a sudden wave of urgency runs over both of us. I lift
her swiftly from the couch; careful not to sever the connection my lips have
with hers, and walk down the hallway to her room, where I press her onto the
bed. It's dark in her room; a street lamp just outside her window provides us with
our only light. She runs her hand down my cheek and I lean into it.

"Collin," she says.

"Raven." I mimic her touch. "I want you."

"I want you, too," she whispers, and her eyes close.
I memorize everything I can about this moment. I know I'll want perfect recall
of it later.

I've been having sex since I was fourteen. Over
the years, I've done it with a lot of girls, and some of those encounters have
been incredible. I'm pretty sure by most standards, I would be considered good
in bed, and I've been with women who are as well, but
never
would I have
described what I was doing as making love. Not even close.

BOOK: To See You Again
10.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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