Caleb dropped me off at my house and walked me to my door. He cleared his throat. I could tell he had been crying on the 30 minute ride back but I didn't say anything. He sighed, tired.
"Let me take you out to dinner or something," he said. "A real dinner this time."
I laughed a little. "You don't have to," I said. "I just-"
"Please?" he said and I laughed.
"All right," I said. "Tomorrow night is good for me."
"Me, too," he said and pinched the bridge of his nose. "I did the right thing, right?"
"Yes," I said firmly. "Now go home and sleep. Don't go into work tomorrow, okay?"
He just nodded and I kissed his cheek before going inside. I closed the door, put my house keys on the stand by the door, and walked into the kitchen. My mom was cooking and smiled gently at me. She hugged me and I sobbed into her neck.
Carol emailed me the next day to let me know that Tom was fitting in well and to thank me again. I did my usual work, having finished her website. Now I was just waiting on getting the pictures from Caleb and Luther. At shortly after 6, Caleb showed up at the Starbucks with a smile on his face. I unplugged my laptop and packed up.
"Where are we going?" I asked.
"My place," he answered. "I don't really feel like being around a whole lot of people."
"I understand," I said.
"How was work? Any other panicky old men?"
I laughed. "Not today. Just the usual tech support about websites malfunctioning and I have a new person wanting to work with me so that's always exciting."
"I looked at the website for the rehab center," he said, opening his apartment door for me. "You do really good work."
I gasped comically. "Was that a compliment on something other than my body, Mr. Parrish?"
He laughed. "Don't get used to it."
I smiled and put my laptop bag on the floor by the couch.
"So, what's for dinner?" I asked.
"Well, I wanted you but I figured we'd have barbecue chicken burgers instead," he said with a wink.
"That's a good choice," I said, sitting down. I looked around. "Where's Luther?"
He frowned at me. "You think I was going to have my roommate here while I was on a date?"
I flushed. "A date?" I blurted and he laughed, shaking his head at me.
"I hope you like sour cream and onion chips," he said. "They're all I could grab."
"Hey, they're chips," I said. "They're delicious either way."
"How do you keep that figure?" he asked, watching me as I ate eagerly.
I swallowed the food in my mouth. "I work out," I said with a shrug.
"What gym do you go to?"
"I don't. We have a treadmill at my place."
He nodded thoughtfully. "You should come to the gym with me one day." I was about to agree to when he leaned forward and said, "I'd love to see you sweat."
I wrinkled my nose. "Just eat your barbecue sandwich, Parrish."
He smirked but I was getting used to it and his comments. He frowned at me suddenly and I looked at him curiously. He wiped his mouth with a napkin.
"Did you really think I was going to rape you?"
I groaned. "You're still stuck on that?" He just stared at me, leaning back in his chair. I sighed. "Yeah, I did."
"Do I put off a rapist vibe or something?" he asked.
"No," I said. "But, ever since we met you've been talking about my body endlessly. I get it that I've got a good body but then you blocked me in that room."
"Are you a virgin?"
"No," I repeated.
He narrowed his eyes, leaning forward again. "Then why won't you have sex with me?"
I choked on my chips at his blunt question. I gulped down some water until I could breathe normally again.
"Because I don't look at sex as a random thing," I said, feeling my face go red. "I want it to be special."
"So why didn't you marry the first guy you slept with?"
"I almost did," I said and he looked shocked. "He cheated on me with several different women. The first time I was fool and forgave him. Once a cheater, always a cheater I guess."
He shook his head. "I don't understand cheaters."
"Have you ever been in a serious relationship?"
"Nope," he said. "They're never worth the time."
"How do you know?"
"My parents got divorced when I was ten," he said, toying with another napkin. "It was bitter and they took it out on me and Tom. That's why he's so messed up. Well, one of the reasons why. If true love really exists, then why couldn't my parents make it?"
I didn't have an answer but he didn't seem to expect one.
"If I were to ask you to have sex right now, what would you say?" he asked.
"No," I said immediately and he laughed.
"I figured," he said. Then his demeanor changed again. "I want to make it up to you. What you did for me and my brother," he said when I looked confused. "Here's the thing, though: sex is all I know."
I felt a little bad for him. I finished the burger and wiped my mouth. I looked at him. He was watching me somewhat nervously.
"How many women have you been with?" I asked and he shrugged a little.
"I've lost count," he said and I looked at him skeptically. "I'm being serious."
I nodded thoughtfully. "You really want to make it up to me?" He nodded right away. "Okay. Stand up."
"Why?" he asked.
"Do as I say," I said, drinking the rest of my water. "Now, we're going to pretend for a second, okay?"
"That, for the first time in your life, you actually have a girlfriend," I said and stood in front of him. He arched a brow at me. He really was handsome.... "The other day we had to kiss." I was blushing. Was this a good idea? I took a deep breath. "If you really want to make it up to me, I want you to kiss me as if I were your girlfriend."
His eyes widened. "Are you serious?"
"Dead serious," I said.
"Why?" he asked.
I sighed and looked away. "It's been a while and I miss it," I mumbled.
"Really?" he asked. "I'd think you'd have a guy on each arm."
I laughed. "No, I'm too weird. So? What do you say?"
He shrugged. "Sure. I like kissing your sexy lips."
I rolled my eyes but let it slide. He kissed me and I put my arms around his neck, my heart beating quickly. It was true: it had been a long time since someone had kissed me with any kind of passion; unless you counted the photoshoot. Even though this would be fake, I could at least pretend it was real for a few seconds. I closed my eyes as his bangs tickled my forehead. Honestly, I didn't expect what he did next.
He pulled me to him and I was about to stop but he didn't try anything. Instead, he held my chin gently and pulled on it so I opened my mouth. He slid his tongue in and went slow. My skin erupted with goosebumps at his gentle touch. He let go of my chin and ran his down my arm. I could tell he wasn't making a pass, though. He rested his hands gently on my hips.
The longer we kissed, the more real it felt. I tried to pull away but he put his hand in my hair, clearly begging me to stay. His other hand held onto me tightly. I could feel his heart hammering but I figured it was from lust. Like he said, sex was all he knew.
He tilted his head to the right, deepening the kiss. I put a hand on the back of his neck, enjoying the way it felt.
I wasn't sure how long we stood there, kissing, but he was the first to break away. He looked into my eyes. His were confused and he was breathing deeply.
"I-I don't know what- What just happened?" he whispered.
I smiled a little and wiped some of my lip gloss off his lips.
"You just kissed a woman without the intention of sex," I whispered. "Now you can say that sex isn't the only thing you know."