Sandra turned, confused.
“What d’you mean?”
Rhyley smiled and headed back for his drink.
“I’m not going to kiss you. It’s a good idea because, actually, you came over to my house so we could kiss more.”
Comprehension dawned on Sandra.
“Oh no! I take that back; no, I don’t like that idea.”
Rhyley smiled calmly.
“Too late. Let’s take our drinks upstairs.” He picked up his drink and walked past her, leaving the kitchen. Sandra had no choice but to follow, knowing it would look strange if Rhyley’s parents just found her standing alone in their kitchen.
“So what are we going to do?” she asked as they walked up the stairs.
“Um, I don’t know. I’ve thought of something I could draw, but you might just have to sit on my bed and be bored. You could listen to my iPod.”
“Thanks (!),” Sandra said sarcastically. “Aren’t you taking this too far?”
Rhyley’s smile grew.
“But that’s what you did, isn’t it?”
Sandra sighed slightly.
“I suppose so.”
And so, five minutes later found Sandra sitting on Rhyley’s bed listening to the rock music on his iPod - which, admittedly, she liked - and Rhyley sketching something whilst he sat on the chair at his desk, being very secretive about what it was.
Sandra waited patiently for Rhyley to finish, reflecting absently on how music was so amazing in how it could move you and how the songs you liked, when you listened to them, proved a diversion in themselves, leaving you not needing to do anything else to occupy your time. Finding this very type of song fairly often among Rhyley’s collection of iTunes, Sandra couldn’t really say that she was bored as she sat there with his earphones plugged in, leaning against his pillows which she had propped up against the wall behind the bed.
After a while Rhyley stopped sketching, looked at his picture as a whole and nodded slightly in what Sandra guessed was approval. He stood up and came over to Sandra, smiling.
“It’s done,” he told her. “You want to see?”
Sandra paused the song that was playing and pulled out the earphones.
Rhyley held up the sketchbook for her to see. He had drawn a rose, and he had drawn it amazingly. The picture was beautiful, and Sandra thought that the gesture of drawing it was terribly romantic.
“Wow, Rhyley,” she murmured. “I love it. Can I have this one?”
“Of course,” Rhyley said, smiling softly; “that’s why I drew it.”
Gently he tugged the sheet out of the sketchbook and, signing it with his name, handed it over to her.
“Thank you so much,” she said, touched and grateful. She was also glad that she could keep this one where Rhyley had kept his drawing of her. She placed it on Rhyley’s bedside table and crawled across the bed towards him, intending to kiss him. Her intention must have been obvious because Rhyley stood up, grinning, and said “Oh no, you don’t.”
Sandra sat back on her heels, put out.
“You’re still not kissing me?”
“Till when?” Sandra asked, a little desperately.
Rhyley’s smile was full of mischief.
“Until you beg, of course.”
“Beg?” Sandra echoed, mortified.
“That’s what I said.”
“I guess I’m not that desperate yet.”
“No. But you will be.” Rhyley winked cheekily. “Irresistible, I am.”
Sandra rolled her eyes.
“Shall we play Monopoly?” Rhyley asked.
“Might as well, I suppose,” Sandra answered.
“Wait here a moment.” Rhyley briefly left the room and returned with the game. He walked over to a spot on his bedroom floor and he sat down, opening the box and starting to set up. Sandra got up and joined him.
“What d’you want to be?” he asked.
“Dog please,” Sandra replied.
Rhyley put the metal dog on the starting space, as well as the iron.
They rolled the dice and Sandra got the biggest number, so took her go first.
At about half past twelve, Rhyley’s father called to say that lunch was ready.
“Wow, I’ve been here for about two hours,” Sandra commented, amazed. She was being half serious when she asked “Aren’t you getting tired of me?”
“No, actually. I’m looking forward to your begging me to kiss you. And I don’t mind Monopoly. Much better game than Scrabble.” He stuck his tongue out. “My dad knows you’re here; he’ll have made enough lunch.”
“Okay then.” She followed him downstairs, back to the kitchen where they had got squash.
Lunch was a simple but tasty sausages and mash, eaten with only Mr Quentin since Rhyley’s mother was out with a friend of hers.
Afterwards Sandra and Rhyley returned to his bedroom to continue the Monopoly game. Sandra glanced at the picture of the rose as they entered and found herself saying “Rhyley, I don’t want to go home without having kissed you again.”
Rhyley smiled slightly.
“So... I don’t have to beg?” Sandra asked hopefully.
Rhyley walked over to the game and sat down, his smile mischievous now.
“No, you still have to do that.”
“Fine. I guess I don’t really care.” She went over and sat on her heels opposite him. She caught his gaze and held it, saying “Please, Rhyley, would you kiss me again?”
Rhyley grinned in amusement.
“How much d’you want me to?”
“A lot,” Sandra answered, in a tone that she thought sounded quite heartfelt.
Rhyley looked down, smiling to himself, and pushed the dice across the Monopoly board in her direction.
“It’s your go now, isn’t it?”
“Okay, so ‘a lot’ wasn’t enough...,” Sandra deduced. “Rhyley, I want you to kiss me so much it’s starting to hurt. I love you and I want to feel your arms around me again.”
Rhyley looked up, his expression considering.
“A little bit more.”
Sandra frowned in thought, trying to come up with something heart-rending, but which didn’t sound too cliché.
Eventually she came out with “If you don’t kiss me now, I might feel empty for the rest of the Monopoly game. And then I won’t really enjoy it. My happiness depends on you.”
Rhyley looked touched.
“Aw. Now you’re not meant to make me feel bad for holding back from kissing you.” He leant in and kissed her. Sandra leant into it and was really glad she’d played along with the little game. She hadn’t minded trying to find something to say to make Rhyley kiss her, and it had been worth saying it for this beautiful moment of tender warmth.
When they stopped, Sandra sat up against Rhyley to continue playing Monopoly. He stroked her sides absently when it was her turn and occasionally kissed her hair, seemingly for no other reason than that he felt like it.
Sandra called her mum at about half four and left Rhyley’s at about five o’clock, not wanting to intrude upon the Quentins’ hospitality by attending dinner as well as lunch. He was sorry to see her go but she reminded him that they still had four days of half term left, which cheered him up slightly.
As her mum drove her home Sandra could barely think of anything other than Rhyley’s kisses, of which he had treated her to a lot more in the time between the kiss after lunch and her mother’s arrival. She felt like she was leaving something significant behind - it was almost slightly worrying how close she felt to Rhyley. But she consoled herself with the fact that she would see him again, probably quite soon, and thought about other things they could do when they hung out together, like bowling (though she thought it might be a little awkward for just the two of them to do that), a picnic if the weather allowed, or a trip to a museum (if Rhyley didn’t think that too ‘nerdy’). She barely remembered the distress and confusion of yesterday and this morning, her heart’s memory filled with love for Rhyley. As it should.