With my arm wrapped around her shoulder and her head resting against my chest, Sophie had fallen silent. Listening to her deep and steady breathing, I realized she was asleep.
I used the quiet moment to assess my earlier reaction and examine my feelings. Even though I’d pursued her with a single-minded focus, I hadn’t meant for any of this to happen. At first I’d told myself we’d have a good time, enjoy each other’s bodies, but it wouldn’t go any further. But I knew I’d been fooling myself from the get-go. I’d fallen hard … and fast. So incredibly fast. The joke was on me though because for once I was the one looking for commitment from someone who couldn’t return the sentiment.
The way my chest hurt every time I thought about her leaving let me know I wasn’t going to handle it very well when the day came. I’d already watched her leave Ballycurra once with a lump in my throat. I didn’t need a repeat performance. What I needed was to put pull back now, put some distance between us while I still could.
I nudged her shoulder. “Sophie, wake up. We’re home.”
Sitting up, she rubbed her eyes. “Home?”
“My house,” I clarified.
Paying the driver, we exited his car and stood side by side on the wet pavement outside my house.
“It rained,” she observed groggily, wrapping her arm through mine. Looking up at me with a shy smile, she added, “Thanks for today, by the way.”
“I had a good time,” she continued, her eyes searching my face.
“I’m glad,” I answered, refusing to meet her stare. “Be careful, the tiles can be slippery, especially in those shoes.”
Clinging tighter, she whispered, “You won’t let me fall.”
“Nope, you’re safe.”
“I am, aren’t I?” she asked as I fitted my key in the lock. “Safe?”
I dragged my eyes to hers. I couldn’t be sure, but suddenly it felt like we weren’t talking about slippery walkways anymore, that there was hidden meaning in her words … and mine.
“Always,” I intoned, pulling her through the door and into me. With her palms resting flat against my chest, I was sure she could feel my heart hammering against my sternum.
Despite the pep talk I’d just given myself, I couldn’t deny how I felt about this woman. She was in my veins. I knew she didn’t trust me not to break her heart, not yet, but I was just as vulnerable. And even though I was probably setting myself up for further rejection, I needed her to know she had a home here. That there was a place for her in my life if she’d only let herself take it.
“You’re safe with me Sophie,” I repeated, my lips dropping to hers. “All you have to do is let me in. I’m yours for the taking.” I kissed her again. “Please, take me.”