I opened my eyes, feeling the soft touch on my forehead. My heart raced for a moment, fearing who might be there with me, but then I remembered Max had promised to meet me, after his meeting with Clara.
"I'm here, Mel... Sorry for waking you," his voice sounded calm, but at the same time concerned.
"You were screaming, when I walked in here... I thought you might have been attacked, after the other night. But when I came in to check on you-save you if I had to- you were just asleep." He reached out and rubbed his thumb gently under each of my eyes, I assumed there must have been tears.
"I'm sorry to have scared you... I have nightmares a lot of the time..."
He stroked my hair, "I know..."
I sat up and looked at him, "Then.. what's wrong? It was just a nightmare, Max, I'm fine..."
"You mumbled my name a few times,"
"Oh..." The memory of my dream hit me and I shuddered.
"See? You don't even like to remember what the dream was about... Are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm okay... It was just... You were fighting in my dream... Fighting with Adam."
He put a comforting arm around me and I felt myself lean into his side, gathering strength from him.
"You can tell me, if it will help..."
"Well... All I can remember is... Adam got in again and tried to get to me. You rushed in, trying to be a hero, and he bit you... I just remember feeling scared..."
Max tightened his arm around my shoulders and drew me towards him, "You don't have to be afraid, Mel... I swear to you, I'll keep you safe. Those things will never touch you."
"Max, that's why I'm, scared. I know you won't-you'll try to be a hero, just like in my dream... I need you to promise me something..." I bit my lip; when Max remained silent, I continued, "Never try to be a hero. Don't put yourself in danger for me."
Max's arm slid off my shoulders and his face took on a stubborn look, "I just promised you I'll always keep you safe. I brought you here, to be a member, I won't let anything hurt you... I can't"
"I can take care of myself, Max-"
"It's got nothing to do with that. I want to protect you. It's not a feeling of obligation! I don't ever want to see you hurt..." his hand touched my cheek, the feeling searing my skin.
Knowing I was blushing, I glanced down at the tangled mass of blankets and struggled to sit up more. Max tilted my face up, so I stared directly into the deep brown depths of his eyes. His lips looked soft and inviting; our closeness gave me goosebumps and made my breaths come faster. My chest felt constricted, as I got lost in his intense gaze.
"Mel... You're my best friend. I will do anything for you."
Without thinking, I felt myself lean forward. When our lips met, I felt electricity that was nearly painful, but it didn't stop me. I pressed my lips firmly against his and felt the hunger grow, as he kissed me back. I broke the kiss all too soon, "Max.. I love you..."
"I love you, too, Mel. That's why I'll never let anything or anyone hurt you again. Ever."
I kissed him quickly, "Well, If you get to protect me, I'm going to make my own promise to you. Nobody will ever hurt you again either. I'll fight tooth and nail, worse than an enraged mother bear, to keep you from getting hurt."
Max chuckled and ran his fingers through my hair. I suddenly thought about what a wreck my hair must be, "You don't need to do that... Just knowing you're safe is enough for me."
"I've already made my promise. I can't take it back now. If you can protect me, I can protect you. Don't go all chivalrous on me, mister."
"I thought all women believed chivalry was dead?"
"In most men, it is. But not in you. And women can be chivalrous, too. It's just overlooked, because we are females and men don't want to be shown up."
"Okay," He kissed me again, his soft, sweet-tasting lips causing me to get dizzy, "You got it. We will be a tag team. I'll have your back and you can have mine. "
I smiled, "Sounds good. So... what did you need to see Clara about earlier?"
Max blushed subtly, "Well... I just had to ask her a question about some thoughts I'd been having."
I snuggled into his shoulder, "Not gonna tell me what it was about?"
He chuckled, "Well, I wasn't sure if this was appropriate, so I figured I should ask her."
"If what was appropriate?"
"Being with you..."
It was my turn to blush again, "Oh... And what did she say?"
"Same as she always says. Follow my heart, let your conscience be your guide, blah blah blah. But it actually helped."
"But why would it be inappropriate to be with me?"
He kissed my nose as I looked up at him, "It's not. I was only making sure because you are still mourning the loss of your brother and I didn't know if it was a good time to make my move."
I kissed his lips softly, "It was the perfect time. It might sound weird, but when you're around... the nightmares don't seem so bad, if they come at all."
"Well, I'll be here any time you want me to be. You don't have to worry anymore."