One More Year Ch. 04

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Disclaimer: In case it is not clearly stated in the narrative, everyone in this chapter engaging in anything approaching or including sexual activity is at least 18 years of age. (Although this particular chapter hasn’t gotten around to any actual sex yet. Be patient.)

Note: This is written in British/South African English, although almost all similar media I consume is American, so that will have its influence too. For the sake of keeping the note short, I’ll post a comment to explain my use of language and obscure terms, if anyone asks or I think of something in particular.

* * * * *

I sat up in bed, groaning, as it took my groggy brain a few seconds to catch up to the rest of my aching head. I hadn’t had so much to drink the previous night that I was puking or passing out, but it seemed like I had at least done a good enough job to make my morning miserable. It was probably a bad idea to have gone from vodka — cheap vodka, no less — to beer, and then onto gin.

But like so much other alcohol advice from my siblings, I didn’t know whether Brian was trying to scare me or Candace was just being an idiot, so I made a mental note that ‘mixing is a bad idea’ could be considered true. I suppose I was just going to have to do that with all of their drinking wisdom. Ah, the scientific method.

It wasn’t as if I’d been about to say no to Jamie’s pre-drinks, anyway. I was also unlikely to continue drinking vodka after that either, because the pre-mixed things you usually found at parties were just always way too sweet, and they made me feel sick. I liked the taste of beer better, anyway. Then Eric had kept bringing me those gin and tonics, and I was hardly going to pass on the choice that would make me fit in. I had also been in no state, at that point, to say no to him.

Oh, right. Eric.

I felt a small thrill as I looked over to the other side of the bed, where he was still fast asleep. His shirt was off, and he’d climbed under the covers. I think I could just make out his jeans on the floor, past the edge of the bed. I’d passed out where I was, so I was still lying fully clothed on top of the blanket.

Even though I was in no state to be feeling horny, the sight of him there, shirtless and in my bed, still sent a shock of excitement through me. I possibly should have been more worried — more nervous, like I usually was. I probably would be, once he woke up. My so-called love-life had gone from purely theoretical to very real in just one night. I didn’t know yet whether I wanted to high-five myself, or hide from him until he left. I was processing a lot of new information, including my first real hint of a hangover.

Getting up as slowly and as quietly as I could, I wandered over to my mini-fridge, grabbing a bottle of water, hoping that it would get my mouth to stop feeling like a desert. I basically inhaled the bottle, and got another one out and was half-way through it in no time. Water had never tasted so amazing. Just getting rid of the dryness of my mouth already had me feeling a lot better.

I wondered what to do about Eric. There wasn’t exactly a clear social etiquette for dealing with a guy who you’d brought home to make out with and was now lying nearly naked in your bed. Not that I knew of, anyway. I didn’t quite want to touch him — I mean, I really did, but not while he was unconscious — but I also couldn’t just pace around the room all day waiting for him to wake up.

I thought I’d try making a bit of noise, so I went to the bathroom. The door squeaks and drags, so I was kind of hoping that it might be loud enough to wake him, but at the same time not seem like I was trying to. While I was in there, I tried to make sure I didn’t have morning breath, but I don’t know how successful I was. Of all the mornings to be out of mouthwash.

I’d started to worry that I’d been in there for too long, so I made my way back out. He must have woken up just as I’d gone in, because he’d pulled his t-shirt and jeans back on already, and was sitting on the bed, starting to put on his shoes.

“Are you… leaving?” I wasn’t sure how to deal with him, now that he was awake. Maybe I should have gone with hiding.

“Not necessarily.” He looked up at me, apprehension showing on his face. “Uh, sorry. I can’t sleep in clothes, so I just-“

“Oh, that’s okay.” I could feel myself blushing slightly. “Do you want anything? I don’t drink coffee, but I can make you tea, or hot chocolate.”

“Um, no, thanks. Maybe water?”

“Yeah, okay!” I grabbed a bottle from my fridge, and handed it over to him.

“Thanks.” He opened the bottle and took a huge gulp, then wiped his mouth and set it down.

I felt a bit awkward looming over him, so I sat down on the bed, putting a modest gap between us. I was still a bit too nervous to look directly at him, so I fiddled absent-mindedly with a cuff button on my shirt while I tried to figure out what exactly I should be saying. My usual strategy was to try and figure out what the most normal thing to say in any situation would be, and say that, kırklareli escort but I definitely had no script for this particular interaction.

“Listen,” he said slowly, “About last night. I’m sorry if I took advantage of you.”

“What?” I asked, flustered. “What do you mean?”

He looked slightly pained. “Do you… remember everything we did?”

I had been mostly sure that I’d remembered everything. I hadn’t been anywhere near drunk enough that I thought I’d have something to worry about, and I’d woken up fully clothed. But he looked kind of nervous, and it was beginning to affect me.

“I… think so,” I said, cautiously.

“I just…” He sighed. “I don’t want you to feel like we did anything wrong. There’s nothing to be ashamed about.”

“Did we do something wrong?” I was getting confused. What we had done had felt very, very right. Maybe I should have said that instead.

“No.” His eyes widened slightly. “It’s just that some people… You know, you said it was your first time… kissing a guy.”

“OH!” I suddenly relaxed. A little, anyway. “That’s… I’m gay. I know that. I’m comfortable with that. That’s fine, right?”

I’d never said that out loud before, but it was true, at least in theory. I wasn’t comfortable with myself in general, but I was no more uncomfortable with my sexuality than I was with any other facet of my personality. He blinked slowly, and his jaw unclenched.

“Sorry, I just thought… it looked like you were freaking out.”

“I am.” I laughed — partly nervous, partly relieved. “Just not about that.”

“Oh shit. Sorry. Are you okay?” He looked very worried again.

“Yes. Stop apologising. I just… It’s very, very new, you know? I’m not good at… Sometimes I have trouble saying the right thing around new people.” I don’t know why I was feeling so honest. But I guess I felt that once you’d kissed a guy, and dragged him home with you in the early hours of the morning, he deserved some candour. Maybe I was just trying to find the right words. Something I could say to make him stop looking so worried and miserable.

“Oh, okay.” He looked a bit perplexed, but more relaxed. “Maybe I should have gone home last night.”

“No.” I reached across and grabbed his hand, more by instinct than anything else. “I really wanted you to stay.”

That made him smile again. He shifted closer, and put his hand on the back of my neck. The remnants of his sandalwood soap mixed with a faint smell of the sea and gin, and the whole thing felt like a scent-based summary of the previous night. A bit of dust would have been a nice final touch, but that was hardly what I cared about at that moment. He pressed his lips against mine, and it was every bit as shocking, and every bit as wonderful as it had been last night. Yet it felt so much more real, somehow.

“I probably have morning breath.” I turned my face aside as we broke apart for air the first time.

“You’re fine.” He wrapped his arms around me and pulled me in again, gently turning my head with his hand to bring our lips back into alignment.

It was like we hadn’t ever stopped. He was still kissing me slowly, and luxuriously, and I was still impatient and rushed, trying to get as much out of this moment as I could, as if at any second the universe might snatch it away. My head still hurt a bit and I felt like I needed a shower and maybe some breakfast, but none of that mattered as much as his lips against mine, and his tongue in my mouth, and his hand on the small of my back. I couldn’t see, smell, taste or even think about anything else.

He pulled away, and held his face a few inches from mine. I waited for him to say something, getting frustrated at the way he just held me there, his vividly blue eyes moving across my face, with an infuriatingly sexy smile on his lips.

“What?” I asked, feeling slightly self-conscious.

“Nothing, I just needed to look at you some more.”

I groaned in frustration, eliciting a small chuckle from him. He did, however, have a point. With our faces pressed together, I hadn’t been able to study him, and suddenly I could. The way his medium length hair draped down over his face and beautifully framed his eyes. The way his stubble — which had already chafed away half the skin on my lower face — enhanced the sharpness of his jawline. The way his body seemed to loom over me, even though we were similar in height.

“Well, I’m done with that for now.” I threaded my arm around the back of his neck and pulled him down to the bed, mashing my face against his.

He only indulged me for a few seconds, and then pulled away again, smiling. I exhaled sharply, and he laughed.

“So impatient. Are you like this with all the guys?”

“Yes.” I laughed. “But to be fair, they’re imaginary. And they always do what I say.”

“Well how do I compete with that?”

“You’re doing pretty well so far.”

“Oh yeah?”

“Yeah.”

He smiled, and leaned down to give me a quick peck on the lips.

“I’m going to kırklareli escort bayan have to go soon.” He pulled himself upright. “But we should do this right. Go on a date.”

“A date?”

“Next weekend, probably. I can’t today — my parents will be home in a couple of hours. It’s Caitlyn’s real birthday today, so that’s the hell I have to look forward to.” He grinned ruefully.

I just nodded. Between my usual morning grogginess, the unpleasant minor hangover, and the extra layer of cognitive malfunction his presence was causing me, I was having trouble stringing words together. But I didn’t feel the need to fill up the silence as acutely as I had before.

“I really do need to go.” He looked at the time on his phone. “I’ve got like less than an hour to get home and get showered and dressed.”

“Okay.” I sighed deeply, which caused him to look down at me and grin.

“Here, give me your phone.”

I unlocked it as I handed it over.

He typed in a number and hit the call button. His phone buzzed in his other hand, and then he hung up.

“There. Now you have my number, and I have yours.”

“Cool.” I said, grinning like an idiot. I’d gotten a boy’s number! Sure, I made out with him first, so that was a bit backwards, but it still felt like a milestone. The order had probably been necessary, anyway. I’d always been such an idiot when it came to recognising if someone was actually into me, that without the helpful context I’d probably just assume it was a completely platonic exchange of contact information.

“Okay, can you let me out?”

“If I have to.”

“Sorry.”

“It’s fine. Just wait here a second.”

I opened up the glass door that led to the pool area, and checked to see no one was near any of the other windows in the main house. That was a conversation I didn’t need to have with my mother yet. I could have lied, if anyone saw us and she asked about it. I’m not particularly full of scruples, and I’ve lied to her less over my lifetime than my older siblings, so I feel like I was entitled to a bit of dishonesty. But I still preferred not to have to. I’d never really been all that good at it. Fortunately, it looked like everyone was still asleep, or busy in rooms that faced out onto the street instead of inwards.

“Okay, come on.” I waved Eric over.

He followed me as I quickly darted across the open space and into the pathway, with an amused look on his face. As we rounded the corner, and became obscured from the sight of the windows in the main house, he grabbed me and kissed me again. Quickly, playfully — and then he let me go. I laughed, and went to open up the gate.

I grabbed him as he headed out, and kissed him one last time.

“Don’t be a stranger,” he said.

He turned and started making his way down the street, and I just stood there, watching him. Wishing he didn’t have to go. He waved, just before vanishing around the corner at the end of the street. I sighed, then pulled out my phone, and saved his number.

Heading back inside, I got a notification of a message from Ellie.

[We need to talk]

No, we really don’t, I thought.

I left it unread. Whatever she wanted to chat about could, quite honestly, wait. What I needed was a shower and some breakfast, so I could begin feeling vaguely human again. After that, what I wanted was to spend a day luxuriating in the fact that I’d kissed a guy last night, and got his number, and so far it was all just thoroughly not-awful. Ellie, no doubt, wanted to do a play-by-play of the party. She often wanted to talk about that sort of thing, and I’d never really seen the point. She and I had also enjoyed the night for very different reasons, and while I liked Eric’s friends, they weren’t what I wanted to think about.

The shower helped a lot, and I was feeling a lot better in clean, comfortable clothes. By the time I’d gone through to the main house, only my mom and step-dad were still asleep, and no one had put on breakfast yet, so I took the initiative and started by making pancakes for the twins. Dot and Des were five, and their three great loves were Disney, swimming, and any food they could smear with chocolate-hazelnut spread. Since Candace left for university, I was winning the popularity contest for ‘best sibling’ and I needed to keep my competitive edge.

For everyone else, I made bacon and scrambled eggs, and periodically emptied the toaster onto a plate and refilled it. My mom always said that, in our house, it wasn’t cooking so much as it was catering. Even with the two oldest siblings having had moved out, there were still seven of us. That meant at least ten slices of toast, twenty rashers of bacon and a veritable mountain of eggs. And then the pancakes, of course, because I was pandering.

My stepsisters emerged for food, and ate their breakfast in front of the TV, watching whatever nonsensical cartoons were on because no one was brave enough to disturb the dreadful duo when they were quietly occupied. The little ones themselves escort kırklareli hadn’t budged — even for pancakes — so I’d just brought them a big stack and the jar of spread, so they could do it themselves. They were very grateful, and I suspected they’d give themselves more chocolate spread than anyone else would have. But I was the fun sibling, and I wasn’t going to get in the way of their dreams.

I didn’t really get on with my step-sisters — Dan and Jenny. They’d just been unpleasant enough over the years that it had become pretty impossible to like them. Jenny was five years younger than me, and Dan didn’t seem to be going anywhere in life — she was about Candace’s age, but she hadn’t left for university, she’d just kept living at home and doing some sort of crappy marketing degree with a correspondence-based institution that seemed like a scam. Neither of them were likely to move out soon. They were just another thing I was enduring until the end of this year, when I could finally move out and go to University, like Brian and Candace had.

My mom was the last one, as usual, to come shuffling out of bed. She was a light sleeper who stayed up reading late into the night, so on weekends she tended to enjoy staying in bed as long as she could. I made her a tea, because like me, she was useless before her first cup. We had a lot in common. I had her colouring, although she tended to dye her hair a much deeper red than our natural shade, so we differed there. I’d also been taller than her since I was about fourteen, and I towered over her these days.

“How was your party? Did you have fun?” She asked, once she was capable of speaking.

“It was okay.” I’d definitely had fun, but hardly the kind I could’ve told her about.

“You got in quite late.”

“Yeah, we went down to the beach and got ice-creams. With Ellie and some other people.” I knew Ellie’s name would be enough to stem any excessive questions about who I’d been with — five children of her own was a lot to keep track of, so my mom tended to just fixate on one or two key friends we talked about a lot, and she’d never ask for a long list of names she was unlikely to remember. She also somehow considered Ellie to be responsible, which was a pretty funny thought.

“That sounds nice. You should have watched the sunrise.”

“I don’t think we could have waited that long.”

“Nerds.”

“Thanks, mom.” I rolled my eyes. “Really affirming.”

“It’s what I’m here for.”

She finished her breakfast, and eventually got up. “We’re probably going to go to the waterfront, take the twins up in the ferris wheel. Do you want to come?”

“No, thanks.” I loved those kids, but corralling them in public spaces was exhausting. “I’ll probably just try to get some homework done.”

I had precisely no intention to do homework, but dropping it in there as an excuse guaranteed she wouldn’t try and wheedle me into going. She used to basically manage Brian and Candace’s academics like a secretary, but — unlike them — I’d never turned anything in late and almost always got decent grades, so she mostly left me to it. Today I was going to relax, and maybe try and build up the courage to text Eric.

“Okay, I’ll leave some money for food.”

“Thanks.”

She went off to get ready, and I headed back to my room to avoid the chaos of their departure. With my family, leaving the house always felt a lot like the launching of an invasion. I pulled out my phone, wondering what sort of things I could say to Eric to get a conversation started. My brainstorming was cut short when I saw I’d received several more notifications of messages from Ellie, sent not long after the first one.

[Stop ignoring me!]

[I know you’re awake]

[You know I can see the path to your gate from my bedroom, right?]

I didn’t understand that last message at first, and then it hit me. Oh, FUCK. Fuck fuck fuck. Could that mean that she’d seen me and Eric? I couldn’t be entirely sure. I’d never actually been up to Ellie’s room, but her house did have two floors. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that there was a window at one corner of their building, and it would have looked straight down the path. Shit.

Maybe, my desperate brain reasoned, she only caught me coming back in after Eric had left, and she just meant that she knew I was awake. Maybe she’d seen him, but hadn’t seen us kissing, and just thought he’d slept here. I could probably convince her that he had been too tired to walk home and had just crashed on my couch, if I had to. There was still a chance that she knew nothing. If I just played it cool — easy enough to do, over text — then I wouldn’t give away anything she didn’t know.

______________[Sorry. Got distracted by family.]

______________[What did we need to talk about?]

It looked like she was typing, but then it stopped. Then it started up again, and stopped again. Waiting for her next message was excruciating.

[I’m just going to come over.]

I thought about telling her not to, but there was a chance that she probably wouldn’t even look at her phone again on her way over. Plus, if she didn’t want to tell me what she wanted to talk about over text, I’d basically just have to get paranoid about it until I saw her again — which would happen anyway at school the next day. I took a deep breath, and went out to the gate to let her in.

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