*TWO WEEKS AGO*
My natural instinct was to let Zach kiss me. I kissed him back, passionately, but slowly the drowsy feeling dissipated and I became fully conscious of what was happening.
I jerked my face away, as if I’d been burned. Zach looked at me with question, eyebrows raised. I could barely make him out in the dim light.
“Zach... I... I’m seeing someone.”
“Oh,” he said softly. Then more firmly, “Oh. I’m sorry, I didn’t know.” He shifted in the seat, away from me. We were still under the same blanket.
“It’s okay, we aren’t officially together, and I guess we really haven’t had an exclusivity talk.”
“Do you love him?”
“I’m not... I don’t know.”
“You know, Aleah, I love you.”
I sighed. “I know Zach. And I love you, too. I’m sure I always will, no matter what.”
“I’m thinking about changing my plans.”
“What do you mean?” I furrowed my brow at him, though I’m sure he couldn’t tell.
He reached over and started running his fingers through my hair on my scalp. One of my favorite things, ever. “I applied to med school at Nebraska, too. I may come back here.”
My heart stopped. This. This is what I have wanted. Or had wanted? I don’t know if I knew the answer to that. All I could manage to utter was, “Oh, wow...”
“I want you, Aleah. You, and only you. I screwed up by not transferring and completing senior year here.”
“No, Aleah. You don’t need to give me an answer, or try to say something sweet, or make me feel good about anything, or even let me down. Right now, it is what it is. I don’t want an answer right now. I just want you to know how I feel, and what I want. And please, just think about it. Even if the answer is yes, you want me, please just think about it.”
“Okay.” I scooted back over to him, and felt him drop his arm around me, once again, pulling me against him.
I woke up the next day, in the same position, still in Zach’s arms. Zach had decided to stay there the week, but would stay longer, or come back if I wanted him to. I spent time with him every day. We didn’t talk again about med school, or feelings for each other. But being around him felt natural, and we fell right back into old habits of holding hands, sweet kisses, silent gestures of love. We didn’t sleep together.
I didn’t see Aaron again until Valentine’s Day. My matches that weekend were on Friday and Sunday, so I had the whole day to devote to him. I did drag him along to the other two teams were going head to head, so I could scope out my competition for the following day. I wanted to do something special for him, but it’s difficult when the weather is terrible.
I decided to rent a few of his favorite movies (Office Space, Super Troopers, and Green Mile), and have a movie “in home” theater night. He had already insisted on taking me out for dinner to a nice place, so I let him have that. Along with the massive bouquet of stargazer lilies he had brought me. Afterwards we went back to my house. Sarah was at Matt’s, and Maddie was at Gavin’s, so we had the place to ourselves. I had set up earlier in the day before we had gotten together. I had turned the couch and ottoman to sit directly in front of the tv so it looked like a massive couch bed, and thrown somewhere around 8-10 pillows on there with my massive down comforter. I had bought a bunch of snacky/dessert foods that I knew he’d like (stuff for sundaes with a bunch of different toppings, fudgey brownies, popcorn).
We both had changed and were in sweats and sweatshirts, curled up under the blanket together. We were halfway through the first movie (Office Space), when he paused it. I turned to look at him, and he had a very serious look on his face. I immediately grew worried. Maybe he hated my simplistic plan. “What’s wrong?”
He looked intently into my eyes, and ran his fingertips down the side of my face, sending chills up and down my spine. “Absolutely nothing.”
He leaned towards me slowly, cautiously, searching my face for any sign of hesitation. He gently, intentionally, placed his lips against mine, and lightly kissed me. My eyes closed in happiness and peace. I had been waiting months for that moment. He pulled slightly away, but my eyes were still closed, taking in every single sense that he was igniting.
The smell of his laundry detergent, the slightly sweet taste of ice cream from his lips, the burn of his hand on the side of my face causing butterflies to wreck havoc in my stomach. My heart was speeding up, my breathing quick.
He pressed his lips against mine again, this time hungrily. I was just as eager as he was, and I kissed back. The tip of his tongue lightly flicked the tip of mine. It felt like hours that we sat there making out, like teenagers. When we were done, it didn’t seem like nearly enough time. I couldn’t stop the big, goofy grin that was taking over my face. Aaron stroked my cheek with his thumb, then leaned back over and kissed the tip of my nose.
He cleared his throat. “Aleah, I know this sounds really corny and cheesy, and I’m actually sorry that this is on Valentine’s Day... but, I don’t want to see anyone else, and I really don’t want you seeing anyone else either... I guess what I’m asking, is will you be my girlfriend?”
I felt the past week with Zach flashing before my eyes. The touches, the kisses, the natural ease and comfort I felt with him. The stability. That he could possibly be here with me, once again.
Then thinking about Aaron I felt electricity, safety, mutual adoration, and respect. But I didn’t know if I was ready to give up Zach.
Aaron’s hands grabbed both of mine, under the covers and he squeezed. I looked into his eyes, full of hope and excitement. I looked away and thought of Zach’s, and how when he looked at me, they were filled with love, memories, and promises.
I looked back at Aaron. He was looking at me expectantly.
I knew what I needed to do.