November. James and the McFarlows were back in Scotland, and the two weeks after their departure I’d spent near enough every waking hour with Ben.
He’d noticed that I’d ‘grown attached’ to James and that I was in a mild depression due to the sudden removed chore in my life. Basically, he was trying to say I was bored and had nothing to do now I didn’t need to look after him. If only he knew the half of it.
“Do you want to play something?” Ben asked out of the blue – we’d just been talking about a reality TV show.
“Ermm…” I murmured, unsure what exactly to answer. We were both sat on my bed just hanging out; like we had done for the past two weeks.
“How about… ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’?” he suggested. I shrugged a ‘why not’ and curled my fist into a tight ball ready to duel. Ben did the same, smiling his award winning smile… my heart melted away.
“Rock, paper, scissors!” we called out in unison, uncurling ours fists and showing our chosen choice. I picked paper… Ben picked scissors… he won.
“Go again?” I suggested. Ben grinned and nodded.
“Oh my god! What’s wrong with me today!?” I moaned dramatically. I’d lost all seventeen time we’d played. Ben just laughed and smiled.
“Stop whining, Case,” he soothed, “it’s just a game…” I was the one to laugh then.
“Says the most competitive guy I know!” I joked, relaxing against the wall with a pillow behind my back. He laughed along with me and sat against the same wall… right up next to me. His hand brushed mine and sent a chill down my spine.
Adrenaline pumped through my veins; I’d already done much more than just sitting on a bed with him.
Mum was out. The house was quiet… too quiet. Should I dare entwine my fingers with his? Or should I move it away all together? I didn’t even have to choose, Ben’s hand wrapped around mine, our fingers linking together as a zipper between us, and the warmth of his hand flowing through my skin and raising the temperature of the blood flowing in my hand by a quarter of a degree.
I turned my head to face him. His eyes were fixed firmly onto mine… hungry. I’d never seen him look at me like this before. If it had been anyone else, I think I would have been scared, but because it was Ben… I felt intrigued, feeling the same hunger in my gaze as he did.
I could feel the atmosphere becoming dense, almost invisible, the only thing I acknowledged was Ben. Did he feel this feeling too? My question was answered soon enough:
He pressed his lips hard against mine, the force necessary and firm. My arm instantly wrapped around his neck and his around my waist. He pressed against me, pulling me closer towards him. His lips were just as hungry as his eyes… ravenous.
I felt his hand roaming underneath my cotton t-shirt, his fingertips leaving trails along my skin. Surely this must just be a dream? Thing like this just didn’t happen in the real world.
My ears sprang to life when mum’s voice suddenly echoed around the house: “Casey, I’m home!” Ben and I sprang apart, sitting on opposite ends of the bed away from each other. My breathing was still heavy and my heart was racing triple times the speed it should have been. Ben sat perfectly still; motionless.
The murmur of the TV downstairs could be heard from the room below so I thought it would be safe to speak again.
“That was close…” I uttered, turning my whole body to face him. He didn’t move. I didn’t know what to do or say.
I had a minty taste in my mouth – spearmint? Peppermint, maybe? – and thought back… I hadn’t been chewing gum, had I? I then realized that the gum had been passed through to me during Ben and my little ‘episode’. Gross! I climbed down onto the worn, navy carpet and leaned over the bin to spit it out. Bleh! Horrible!
I turned back to face Ben. His posture had loosened and his face was much friendlier. His eyes matched his lips and smiled directly into mine. I smiled back, hands against my waist.
“Sorry about that,” he apologized, “for the gum, that is.”
“Don’t mention it… my mouth is now minty fresh.”
“Sort of.” He corrected me.
“Yes, sort of,” I agreed. I felt it was safe to sit back down next to him but I made sure I was not too close, “can we talk about what just happened?”
“Sure?” Ben cringed. He obviously didn’t feel comfortable bringing our complicated relationship up: friends who passionately kiss on a bed and have slept together whilst drunk at a party. Yes, rather complicated.
“I can’t lie to you, and I can’t deny the fact that I… enjoyed what just happened. It was amazing. But I somehow just see us as friends, but I don’t at the same time, you know?”
“I know we said we wouldn’t bring it up,” Ben interrupted, changing the subject, “but, what we did at Emelia’s party, well, was bloody fantastic and I haven’t stopped thinking about you.
“I don’t know if you know or not, but I broke up with Amanda pretty much as soon as you’d left last year. When you left, a part of me just… switched off.
“I realized that I had to wait for you, no matter how long; a year, two years, a decade, whatever! I would wait for you. And then, on that first day of college, when I saw you again, that part of me was turned back on again. I was whole and wanted you. I knew I had to be with you… I just didn’t know how to tell you.”
I was silent. I couldn’t conjure up any words to follow his heart whelmed monologue. I wanted to cry at the sweetness of it all yet I also wanted to cry because, if things progressed, the situation with James would become more difficult; especially if he found out he was James’ father.
“I think you are amazing, Ben,” I began, placing my hand on him, “and I value out friendship. I do like you – a lot, I admit – but, I want to be able to take thing slowly, one step at a time… we kind of jumped a hurdle much too soon last time.” He chuckled to himself and pulled me into a hug.
Unlike our previous embrace, this was more relaxed, more sincere, and more brotherly. I smiled.
Things were going slowly and smoothly… perfect.