"Gay guys are sure missing out," Tom remarked, as his gaze lingered over my mostly unclothed body (I'd slipped back on my cream blouse for warmth). We were lying facing each other on our sides and Tom's arm was over my right hip.
"Yes, you're certainly a lucky chap," I told him, in mock seriousness.
He chuckled. "I certainly am." He leant close, so that his breath fell on my neck, and lightly kissed me.
He withdrew and looked into my eyes.
"You're so beautiful, Belle."
I smiled, trying to hide the fact that my heart was pounding slightly faster. On occasion, there was a guy who truly made me feel special, and not like my sole purpose as his girlfriend was to be his bed-mate. Tom was such a guy. In the days leading up to this, he had bought me chocolates, jewellery and a soft jumper made of llama wool, and even a fake red rose. He had said that he had bought a fake one so that it never died, which was very romantic. Yet I knew it would be over in a month or so. Teenage relationships were rarely meant to last. You just had to make the most of them, as you did anything other short and sweet experience.
Tom stroked my hair. I resisted the urge to snuggle up to him - he wasn't the sort that liked soppy girls and besides I wouldn't be feeling clingy if I weren't tired.
"Do you want to go back downstairs?" he asked.
"I don't mind," I replied. "Though - " and here I lightly danced my fingers over the skin of his chest - "surely we've not made full use of our time yet?"
"You're right," he said, and he pushed me down so I was on my back and he was on top and kissed me again - though less passionately since we had already reached the climax of the night.
I found myself barely kissing back, even though I had been the one to suggest we kiss again. The truth was that I lacked the energy. When Tom noticed that I wasn't kissing him as intensely as I probably could, he rolled off me.
"Sorry," I apologised.
He waved a hand dismissively,
"You were so good a few minutes ago I'd be a jerk to be annoyed at you."
"Oh believe me," I muttered, "I've had my fair share of jerks."
Tom smiled wryly.
"S'pose that's inevitable when every guy wants you."
"Yeah," I replied.
Tom propped himself up onto his side and tilted my chin so I was looking at him.
"You just tell me if any guy tries it on with you, baby. They'll regret that they were ever born. Even after this (if this relationship finishes), I'd like us to be friends, and I'll continue to protect you."
"I'll love you for as long as you love me," I told him, as I'd told half a dozen other guys - because this was what guys liked to hear. "And I'm sure we'll still be friends if that doesn't work out."
Tom smiled and eased himself up into a sitting position. He stood up and grabbed his stuff off the floor, putting it back on. He passed me my clothes too and I slowly redressed.
"I'll have to be the host now, darling," he said. "You want to rejoin the party or stay upstairs?"
"I'll come," I said, sliding off the bed. "It feels like you're exercising some sort of magnetic force on me."
Tom grinned widely and led me downstairs.
In the dining room, no chaos seemed to have erupted, which surprised me a little.
A boy with dark hair rose from the sofa and walked over to us. He was Tom's best friend, Tony. He regarded me with the usual disapproving expression he gave me, that made me want to tell him ‘I'm not what you call me in your head! I only have sex in relationships and I don't go out with guys who treat girls like objects! You don't know anything about me!'
"Have you been controlling this rabble?" Tom asked, smiling at Tony, oblivious to the hatred the other guy felt for me.
"I've been trying to," Tony said.
Tom looked around.
"Seems like you've done an amazing job."
Tony nodded curtly.
"So, you free tomorrow? I was thinking we could go kick a ball around in the park."
"Sure," Tony said, shrugging.
"I see how it is," I teasingly said to Tom. "Football over your girlfriend."
He chuckled as the three of us went to sit on the sofa Tony had just got up from.
"That's exactly how it is."
Tony just rolled his eyes like he thought I was seeking attention.
Around us, people were dancing, chatting and drinking: much as they had been when Tom and I had gone upstairs. Two couples were kissing in quieter corners of the room - Sid and a girl with short dark brown hair and two guys I didn't know.
"Will you be okay while I go ‘round checking everyone's having a good time?" Tom asked me.
"Of course," I answered, smiling. "I'm sure Tony's great to hang around with." The last sentence was a lie but I wasn't about to tell Tom his best friend didn't like me: it wasn't worth what it might cost me.
Tony moved away from me slightly as Tom stood up. It was like he thought I was going to launch myself at him or something.
Tom kissed my forehead before walking around to talk to his friends.
"So you took him upstairs," Tony said coolly. This must have been the first ever time he had spoken to me.
"He took me actually," I said, struggling to keep my tone mild.
"You don't deserve him."
I failed in my attempts.
"Look, what's your problem?!"
"He wouldn't see it if you just saw him as inferior: I'm sure you realise that," Tony said, his eyes flashing. "He's had his heart broken by witches before."
"So I'm a witch, am I?" I asked furiously.
"Perhaps you are," Tony said. "I'm warning you: don't you dare take advantage of him. He's like my brother and you will regret hurting him."
"I'm not that kind of girl," I said, annoyed by the fact he thought I was.
"Yeah, whatever." He got up and joined someone else's conversation, looking for all the world like he was sickened to have talked to me in the first place.
‘Why even bother?' I asked angrily in my mind.
"I see that Tony is harder to entertain than me," murmured a voice in my left ear. I jumped.
"Tom!" I cried, startled.
"That's my name," he said, grinning. He pulled me close to him and kissed me on the mouth. "Are you having a good time?"
"Yeah, of course," I lied.
"Great. There are going to be a lot more nights like this one."
He kissed me in a way that would have made me believe his statement, ... had he only been my first or second boyfriend.