I was fast asleep when my phone rang. I rubbed my eyes. It was Caleb. Something was wrong for him to be calling me at one in the morning.
"Hello?" I said
"I-I gotta talk to you. Like right now. Can I come over?"
I sat up, frowning. "Yeah. Mom's out with her friends. Caleb, what's wrong?"
"I'll be there in five minutes," he said and hung up.
I bit my lip and called my mom.
"Hey Mirela! I'm still at the casino!" she yelled over the noises in the background.
"Yeah, I know. I need you to stay there until I call you, okay?"
"Hold on, Heather. Mirela, what's wrong?"
"Something's got Caleb seriously upset. He's on his way now. I'll call you when I find out what's going on."
"Okay," she said and I knew she was worried. "Let me know."
"I will. Love you."
I hung up just as Caleb knocked on my front door. I pulled on a hoodie and zipped it up. I opened the door and he came running in, pale as a sheet and shaking.
"Caleb, what's wrong?" I asked but he just paced in my living room. I was starting to get scared. Did something happen to Luther or Tom? "Caleb, talk to me."
He looked at me, his eyes desperate. "You were right," he choked. "Oh God, Mirela, you were right!"
He sat down on the couch and put his head in his hands. I sat down beside him timidly and put my hand on his back. He didn't answer for a while and he was still shaking. I moved closer and put my head on his shoulder, waiting patiently.
"She-She stayed behind," he whispered and I closed my eyes. Please no. "I-I was editing a family shoot. We've been backed up because we're getting busy, you know? I- She came in and-and kept asking me about you and why you weren't there. I tried to tell her no. God, I tried so hard, Mirela," he sobbed. "She took her shirt off and-and made me-"
"You slept with her, didn't you?" I whispered and his head shot up.
"No!" he yelled. "No, I didn't! She wouldn't take no for an answer," he said, taking my hands and holding them tightly. "God I didn't know what else to do! I-I got my webcam up while she was-was trying to- Luther answered and he saw everything. He-He fired her. I didn't know what else to do!"
I sighed, relieved, and pressed my lips to his.
"Calm down," I whispered. "You need to calm down, Caleb."
"But I betrayed you!"
"N you didn't," I said, shaking my head. "You didn't sleep with her."
"But I wanted to!" he groaned. "Not with her, though. With you. And then she-"
I kissed him again, crying a little. "This is my fault," I whispered, shutting my eyes tightly.
"How the fuck is it your fault?" he demanded.
"If I wasn't so... scared then you wouldn't be tempted," I whispered and sighed. "Caleb, if being with me is causing you too much pain, I understand. We-We can be friends."
"Open your eyes," he whispered and I did. He caressed my cheek. "I don't want to break up with you. I came because I feel so guilty."
"But if I would just get over my insecurities and sleep with you-"
"Mirela, the fact that you're not throwing yourself on me makes me love you even more," he said softly then groaned. "Ah shit. That's- This isn't how I wanted to- Fuck. This is a hot mess." He shook his head with another groan. "Look, the point is I should have told you sooner. She's been making advances all month but I didn't know what to do. I didn't know if I should tell you or just try to ignore her. I should've told you."
I wrapped my arms around him and put my head on his chest.
"Do you need me, Caleb?" I whispered.
"What?" he breathed.
"I know that sometimes it hurts and-"
He sighed and held me tightly. "I want you so badly," he interrupted, "but no. It's not like that. You're worried she turned me on?" I nodded and felt him shake his head. "No. If anything, she disgusted me. I can't believe she'd do that, knowing how I feel about you."
"You have nothing to feel guilty about, Caleb," I promised.
"You don't, either," he said.
"But you've had sex so many times and I'm not sleeping with you," I mumbled.
He kissed the top of my head. "When... when I was sleeping around, I taught a lot of girls how to do it. Now I'm the one learning. You're teaching me how to control that part of me. I'm sorry. I have an important question that you need to answer honestly."
"Do you hate me?"
I looked up at him and smiled. "No."
I laughed. "I promise. I hate Jenny, though, and I better not see her or I'll kick her ass."
He chuckled and kissed me. "Look, I'll be honest. I want to have sex with you but I don't want to do it if you're not ready."
"You've changed," I said, putting my head back on his shoulder.
"And it's all because of you," he whispered.
"Do you want to stay here tonight?"
"No. I should go back to the apartment and talk to Luther. He's furious."
I walked him to the door and he kissed me deeply.
"We're perfectly normal," I said and he smiled. "Next time, though, let me know if a woman is doing that, please."
He nodded right away. "I will. I swear."
He pulled me into a hug. "Thank you for not being mad at me."
"It's not your fault," I repeated, hugging him back. "I am a little upset you didn't tell me right away but now you know."
He kissed me one more time and I shut the door after him. I went back to my room and cried into my hands. I had been so scared. My phone buzzed with a text from my mom.
Safe to come home?
I was still crying when she got home and she ran to my room.
"What happened?" she asked, sitting beside me on my bed. Wiping at my tears, I told her. "Oh, sweetheart. What did he do?"
I gulped. "He rejected her but she wouldn't stop so he had to get Luther on the webcam."
"So he didn't sleep with her?" she asked and I shook my head. "Wow."
I wiped my nose. "He was so worried, Ma. He thought I was going to break up with him. In his mind, he had told himself he cheated on me."
"Are you mad at him?"
"I'm a little upset that he didn't tell me she's been hitting on him for a month, but he promised he'd tell me next time." I laughed. "I know there will be a next time."
She laughed, too, and I leaned into her. I sighed.
"There's something else," I muttered.
"I think he said he loves me."
She didn't say anything for a minute. "Are you sure?"
"I don't know," I said. "I was apologizing for not sleeping with him, and he said that the fact I don't just makes him love me more. Then he panicked." She kissed the top of my head. "What do I do now, Ma?" I asked, crying.
"What do you mean?"
"He told me how bad he wants me and if he really does love me...."
"You're not obligated to sleep with him just because he loves you," she told me. I nodded. "Just be normal around him, okay? When's your next day off?"
"Tomorrow," I said. "I was going to work in the studio but I don't want to push my presence on him right now."
She shook her head. "I think you should go. It'll be good for both of you."
I sat up straight.
"I have an idea."