Alex sat beside her on the old sofa and handed her the TV remote. Beth just snuggled up to him. Wrapping her arms around his waist, she put her head on his shoulder and sighed, finally content. Then all her thoughts from earlier on came crashing down on her and she involuntarily held Alex tighter. He noticed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I’m just worried,” she said, trying to dodge the question.
This was her chance to lie to him, to tell him it was about something silly, like the Maths test or something. But he’s lying to me, she thought. There was a secret he hadn’t told her. It wasn’t as if she’d told him everything either, but she didn’t keep secrets from him. So she didn’t lie to him, not completely.
“About us,” Beth said quietly. “I feel as if there’s something that’s pulling us apart, but I don’t know what it is.”
Alex didn’t say anything. He just tipped her head up so she was looking at him. Then his lips were on hers again and Beth felt as though her head was exploding. Alex trailed kisses along her jaw. He paused at her throat and whispered, “I love you. I mean that.”
Beth’s throat clamped shut. He hadn’t just said that, had he? Had he told her that he loved her? Or was it just her mind wanting to hear it? Her head was completely blown. A million questions raced through her mind. Then she realised Alex was looking down at her, waiting for a reply, waiting for something.
She wanted to say that she loved him too, but instead, it came out as: “What were you and Cat talking about earlier?” In her mind, she slapped herself over and over again for saying that.
“When?” he asked, irritated. He knew what she was talking about; Beth could see that in his face.
“In the kitchen,” she murmured.
Alex didn’t reply. Beth could see that he was angry. He still didn’t say anything. He just looked over her face with steely eyes.
“I’m going out!” Catalin shouted from the entrance hall. Then the door slammed and true silence fell.
After a while, Alex finally spoke. “You were listening? How much did you hear?” Now he seemed slightly worried again.
“I only heard Cat telling you to tell me something, then you saying no. You were worried about what I would think if I knew.”
He moved out of her arms and stood up, walking away from her. Beth suddenly felt scared. What was he going to say? Was he going to shout at her? Would he hit her? No was the resounding answer to the questions in her mind. He would never hit her. It was just something Beth knew. She didn’t know how, but she knew it.
He wouldn’t shout, and he most definitely wouldn’t hit her. Alex had some odd customs with regards to their relationship. He looked away when she was in any sort of state of undress, much unlike any other boy of seventeen; he couldn’t stop blushing when she wore a short skirt, or even shorts; when they argued, as rarely as it was, he would always give in to her with as little fuss as possible; and he often protected her, even when she didn’t need it.
“Why?” was all he said.