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There it was-flowing out of my eyes. Racing through my soul. Zinging through my heartstrings and electrifying every breath that I took.
I was in love with him.
I laughed as he kissed my nose, crouching over me in the dim light projecting from my small pink book lamp.
“Tell me something sweet!” I begged, reaching for the collar of his shirt-pulling his face closer to mine.
“What do you want me to tell you?” He smiled teasingly-his mouth doing that quirky-side-smile that all the girls fall for in romance novels.
“I don’t know…that’s for you to decide.” I captured his lips in mine, moving my hands up to cup his face. I felt his smile with my fingertips, his perfect dimples making soft creases in his skin.
He broke away, grinning,
“Hmmm…you want me to tell you I love you, don’t you? I haven’t said that in a while…”
My heart skipped a beat at his words. Yes. Yes. Yes. That’s what I want him to say! More than anything…
“No!” I cry out indignantly as he hugs me. “That’s not what I asked for you to say, specifically.” But it’s what I want.
“Okay…I tell you you’re beautiful all of the time, though!” No you don’t. You rarely say that. Half of me wanted him to continue, but the other half longed for him to go back to the whole “I love you” thing.
“No you don’t!” I laughed as he tickled my sides and continued to smile goofily down at me.
“Haha…well I never told you that I think you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” He tilted his head down a bit, letting his light bangs fall into his eyes.
I stopped laughing. He stopped tickling. A bright blush spread itself quickly across my cheeks and over my forehead.
“You do?” I asked, timidly. He’s never said such a thing before. My heart did a tiny jig in my chest.
“Why not ‘most beautiful girl in the world’?” I asked, poking fun at him as I grinned cheekily.
“Because I can’t prove that you’re the most beautiful girl in the world-I’m just telling you what I know to be true.” Stupid Chemistry Major. He always had to be freaking logical.
“Hmm…okay…” I’m willing to take that. He thinks that I’m beautiful and that’s all that matters.
We kissed for a long time-hearts melted together, eyelashes touching soft as butterflies, limbs tangled and intertwined, and hair on-end with static.
And then it was over.
We were tired-cuddled up like two mismatched spoons in the silverware drawer. He was a soupspoon and I was a tablespoon. I smiled as I closed my eyes, content.
“Hey…can I talk to you about something?” He whispered warily into my hair, breaking the sacred silence I had been basking in.
“Yeah. Of course-anything.” I turned around in his arms until our noses touched. The freckles on the end of his nose brushed up against the pale, unmarked skin of own.
“Remember yesterday…when you said ‘Okay. Bye. See you. Love you.’ before you went to class?” He began slowly, avoiding my gaze.
“Um…I don’t know why, but I thought that was really strange. And then I kept thinking about it.”
“Okay…” I wasn’t really sure where this was going, but it felt like he was wading into dangerous waters, and I was the sea monster.
“Listen. I really like you…and I feel a lot for you…but I don’t think I’m quite there yet.”
“What do you mean ‘quite there’?” I asked casually, but I knew exactly what he meant. I felt the panic racing through my spinal cord and the icy sheet of regret washing over my previously warmed heartstrings.
“I don’t…I don’t love you.” His eyes met mine. They were a deep, apologetic brown. Mine remained an icy and guarded blue.
“Oh.” I look down at the light turquoise sheets of the dorm bed. “Oh.”
He back-peddled quickly as my eyes filled up with salty misery.
“What I mean is-I’m just not there yet. I feel that way when we’re kissing and stuff…I really like you. I’m just not ready to say those words. I thought I was…but I realized yesterday that I’m not.” He’s pulling away from me now-his eyes traveling up to look at the unicorn poster that my roommate taped up on her side of the room.
“I knew it.” I sighed, wiping away a teardrop. “I told you that you didn’t have to say it if you didn’t mean it! Heck-I didn’t mean to say it that first time! It slipped out remember!? And you kept on saying it back! I told you it was fine if you didn’t say it!”
Words were jumbling together in my head as I tried to make sense of the situation. He loved me? No. He wanted to love me? Maybe. He was using me for make-outs? Possibly. I was acting pathetic and crying about it? Oh, heck yeah I was!
“Are you alright? I didn’t mean to hurt you-I just wanted to be honest. We’ve always been honest with each other.” He grabbed my hand on top of the duvet and squeezed it, looking into my sad, reddened eyes.
I took a deep breath. “I understand.”
He pulled me into a hug as I continue.
“It’s only been like, a month and a half, right? People don’t fall in love that fast. I get it. I was out of line. I said something stupid without thinking and you didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Now if you don’t mind-I’d like you to get out of my room now.” I started to cry harder as I pushed him away and pulled the duvet and sheets and blankets and thoughts of sadness up over my head.
“No, I’m not gonna leave-I just wanted to be honest with you.” He pulled the covers over himself, encasing us in a makeshift tent. “Just because I don’t have all of those feelings yet doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop being your boyfriend! I like you because you make me laugh and you’re fun to be around and a bunch of other things. Please don’t make me go.”
“Please.” I pull my knees into my chest. “I know I’m being stupid about this-but I’d really just like to be alone right now.” I buried my face into my kneecaps so that my favorite pair of denim jeans could soak up the tears.
“No. I’m not leaving.” He pulled me into another one of those gosh-darn-perfect hugs. I melted into his arms, feeling completely and utterly defeated-but safe.
He brought his lips to my ear as I continued to cry. “I don’t ever want you to feel alone.”