I yawned and opened my eyes, stretching out my body as well as looking out the window. It was dark outside, but not from it being early in the morning; it said 10:49 A.M. on the alarm clock beside Grayson’s bed. Storm clouds let rain fall through the sky in light patters. It was pretty. I quietly sat up and looked down at Grayson. He slept soundly, eyes closed peacefully. I blushed and stroked his hair. He was adorable and really beautiful when he slept.
“Baby,” I whispered, nosing his cheek, “It’s time to wake up. Weren’t we going to go and get a couch and a bed for me today?”
He murmured and yawned sleepily, sitting up and leaning his face against my shoulder, “What?...”
“It’s late morning. Almost eleven,” I said.
“Oh,” he said calmly.
“I’m gonna go shower,” I said, “Where is it?”
“Across the room behind that door,” he said sleepily, his head drooping softly into my lap. I blushed bright red, gently pushed him off, and pulled the covers over him. Getting out of bed, I walked across the room and outside. Going downstairs and twirling Grayson’s car keys in my fingers, I unlocked the car and unpacked silently. He didn’t need to help me unpack all of the crap I’d brought. After putting the boxes in my room, I took my towel and a pretty white dress and underwear with me into the bathroom. Switching on the shower, I rinsed my hair quickly and smiled as I recognized the Tresemme’ Grayson used regularly on his hair. Optimistic about how I smelled, I used a bit of it and the soap I’d brought with me.
“You really know how to make a girl feel at home,” I called out, smiling.
Grayson smiled at me lovingly and stirred the rice. We were both at the stove, cooking. He was cooking rice; I was cooking orange chicken. Grayson was making so much rice that I guessed he wanted me to eat something other than meat. He was vegetarian still, so I let him handle his stuff and he let me handle mine when it came to food. Although I still really wanted to make Lo Mein for him, I knew he would despise the teriyaki that I usually put into it.
I turned my side of the stove off and sat down on the floor, legs crossed, wondering where we could go to get furniture. I had $450 from my grandmother and mother to support my needs. $250 of it could go to furniture and the other for my needs until I found a job in the area. Grayson handed me a bowl of rice and ate behind me, pressing his back against mine. We leaned against each other’s backs like you would in chairs.
“So,” I said.
“Soooooo,” Grayson poked me and I almost dropped my spoon. Dang it.
“Are we going to Ikea today?”
“Yeah,” Grayson said behind me, “I’m tired of sitting on the floor.”
“Me too,” I said, poking him right in the back.
Grayson finished eating and began putting his shoes on. I wasn’t used to seeing him wearing socks. It made me feel warm on the inside, kind of happy. It was like… Well, I couldn’t explain it. I kept my mouth shut because I couldn’t describe my joy at being with him in our new apartment.
I followed him downstairs to the car. Grayson frowned, “Someone stole your stuff.”
“No, I unpacked it so you didn’t have to,” I said, smiling.
“Are you alright?” he asked, “That’s a long way up the stairs.”
I nodded and he nodded back. Grayson started the car and we drove to the Ikea.
“It finally looks like home. Yet, it felt like home when I saw you,” I said cheerily, sitting on our black couch and hugging one of the red satin pillows. Grayson sat beside me, playing his Xbox, “Awww, arigato! You’re so adorbs!” He pressed Pause on his game and hugged me, tackling me to the couch.
I stared up at him, frowning. One of his nails had scratched my arm in the process. He noticed the beads of blood dripping from my arm and sat up, “Gomenosai. I didn’t mean to.” Grayson got off of the couch and ran to the kitchen. He came back with a Band-Aid and a paper towel. As he placed it on the cut, he blushed, saying, “I really do want to make you happy, you know. I still want to make you the happiest girl on the planet. I want to hold you in my arms and let you know I’m yours. Annelise, you make me happy. When I hurt you it destroys your happiness.”
I stroked his face, “You’re doing a good job… Just cut your nails, ha-ha.”
Grayson nuzzled me and put the paper towel in the laundry basket. I sat in his lap and nuzzled his throat, kissing it with my lips. Warm arms circled my waist and I smiled warmly at him, happy that he cared so much. I wondered if our classes at Texas A & M would be the same, but maybe not. He was going into culinary classes while I was going into veterinary. Snuggling up against his warm chest, I realized that the only time we’d have together once college began would be here or at work. I glanced up at Grayson silently, dwelling on that. He looked down at me with a warm brown gaze, “Sweetie?...”
“I’m fine,” I said, “Just trying to enjoy the time we have together, since we might not get it again.” To be honest, I was annoyed with society at that moment. It was getting ready to steal us back into the world of school and work soon, ruining our time together and complicating our relationship just slightly. Hopefully once we had master degrees we could get great jobs and make so much money that we’d retire by 35 or 40. Our kids would be well off until college; I’d make sure they had the money to get to college, unlike my parents had done for me. They were going to have a better life than I had, and I was going to be damn sure of it.
“I wonder what our kids will be like,” I wondered out loud. Grayson’s warm gaze was still on me and he smiled, “I think our kids would be fucking Otakus.” In response, I burst out laughing. He was probably right; two nerds making more nerds.
“I just want two.”
“Yeah,” I said, “Three makes it complicated. My family was never very open for giving attention to the three of us siblings.”
Grayson kissed my cheek, “Well, you’re certainly getting it now.” I blushed deeply as he ran his hand across my hip to my chest and squeezed slightly. He leaned us over on the couch and I stuttered, “Grayson, I don’t think I’m ready yet-“
I was cut off as my stomach rumbled. Grayson blinked, “You’re hungry?”
“Er-Yeah,” I said. What a way to save to save myself, stomach! I did love him, I really did, but I just wasn’t sure if I was ready yet for what he’d meant to do. Grayson took my hand. As we walked down the stairs and towards the car, he chuckled slightly. I frowned, “What’s so funny?”
“You’re bright red,” he said, smiling cheerily. I flicked my mirror out of my purse. He was right; my cheeks had gone a deep red from blushing. I opened the car door and sat in the front seat, embarrassed. Grayson started the car, but not after laying a hand on mine.
“I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable,” he said quietly, blushing.
“It’s fine. Let’s go get Chinese food or something,” I said, looking out the window. Typically, he nodded and began to drive. I began to feel bad on the way, seeing his quiet demeanor turn into that of guilt. I flinched and said softly, “Grayson.”
He looked at me as he stopped in the parking lot.
“Don’t be sad. You’ll enjoy it more when I’m ready. Okay? I love you. I want to, just not now. It’s alright that you want to, just please respect me and let me get ready.” Grayson nodded and smiled, “Alright. Being a virgin for this long really nails on you though.” I laughed and got out of the car, walking to him and sliding my hand into his as we strode into the Chinese food restaurant. Grayson looked at his bag calmly. I blinked, wondering if I was being too expensive.
“Sweet wolf, let me know if I’m costing you too much,” I said, gazing at him questioningly.
“Sometimes you do,” Grayson said admittedly, “But you’re worth all of the money I spend on you.”
I blushed, admiring his maturity and how much trust we had. “I’m going to spend a ton of money on you soon,” I said happily, “But you don’t have to spend much on me to make me love you.”
“Likewise,” Grayson said, smiling as our waitress showed us to our seats in a large room. We went to get our food from the buffet in the back of the room and came back awkwardly. I couldn’t get all of the dead fish in the back out of my mind. Grayson looked mortified and I was glad I never asked him to take me to steakhouses. “Just don’t think about them,” I said, patting his shoulder reassuringly. He nodded and ate his food.
“Vegetarians,” I said mockingly, but in a good nature.
“Hey,” Grayson said, “Your ‘amazing and lovely and sweet’ wolf boyfriend is a vegetarian.” He nudged me in my chair and we ended up in an elbow fight. I laughed; it was just like eighth grade. I loved every second of it, not caring at who glanced at us with annoyed expressions.
I paid the bill this time; Grayson had wanted to, but I’d insisted. He got to be the girl tonight. I was going to spoil him rotten and try to outdo his gift of coming to get me to go to Kobe and our apartment.
“Where do you want to go tonight?” I asked, “I’ll go wherever you want. I’ll even drive. I just want to make your night awesome like you made mine yesterday, Grayson Childers.”
My lover smiled and thought for a moment. Then he looked up and said slyly, “The mall.”
The mall of all places.
“Hm… Okay,” I said, sitting in the front seat. Grayson tossed me the keys and I started the engine. We drove to the Stonebriar mall. It was 8:30 P.M. by the time we got there. Grayson grabbed my hand and we ended up racing each other to the movie theatre in the mall.
I got us candy with ICEEs, paying for all of it no matter how much Grayson protested against it. He finally forced me to put my wallet away and paid for our tickets. During the movie (Chernobyl Diaries 4), I moved the arm of the seat up between us and leaned against him. In response Grayson wrapped his arm around me and held me close.
As we watched the movie I thought about my parents and the people from the past that had pretended to be my friends just for their own benefits. A tear ran down my cheek and I ran out of the theatre, not wanting Grayson to see me cry. I hated it when people saw me cry; if I did cry around people, then I’d be called an attention whore. My freshman year of high school had been a nightmare with the constant heartbreaks and fake friends. Being made fun of for being an “attention whore” had become a daily thing, increasing frequently towards the end of the year.
I didn’t stop until I was in the parking lot. I leaned against the car, breathing heavily and sobbing. I could hardly take it; I knew I should’ve stayed in the theatre, sucked it back up like all of those other times during junior and sophomore year because of my loneliness. The noise of gravel scraping made me look up and I flinched; Grayson stood there, staring down at me with a confused expression on his face.
“I’m okay,” I said, breathing heavily as I stood up and got in the back seat of the car, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry if I ruined your night. You can go back and watch the movie if you want; I just need time alone.”
Grayson frowned, “You’re not okay. You look sad. Everything was fine until you stepped into the movie theatre. Now you’re all distraught. What’s wrong?”
“I just can’t stop thinking about all of those fucking rude ass people in my life,” I muttered, “My high school years were hell because of my parents and those fake friends. I never exactly got a peaceful childhood. Several years of my life were spent in nothing but fucking pain.”
Grayson looked at me silently for a moment, then slid across the seat right next to me to wrap me in his arms. I burst out crying and laid my head weakly against his chest.
Relief crashed over me like a wave.
All of the bullshit seemed to fade away.
I drifted off into the darkness, silent and calm.