Screw this. She was tired of sitting around moping. She got up abruptly, taking Dorian’s now empty plate from him and headed in the kitchen.
“Bring me back some more cake,” he called out. “…please.”
“Dude, you’ve had like three pieces already and it’s not even eight in the morning.” She stopped and turned toward him, arching an eyebrow.
“And? What are you, the cake police? ”
She rolled her eyes and shook her head, crossing through the archway into Tori’s mid-sized kitchen.
She would clean the kitchen, which wasn’t even actually dirty because Tori didn’t play that, and then she’d go write. She had a freelance article on a singer named Aly that she was supposed to be working on anyway. She moved toward the stove to slice another piece of the cake that Dorian had haphazardly left exposed. She sighed just as she heard someone entering the kitchen.
“Dorian, I’m getting your cake, okay,” she said irritably as she turned.
But it wasn’t Dorian. Brian paused for a second and she inhaled, taking him in, her heart immediately going into overdrive. He had on a Cardinals baseball cap turned backward on his head and a plain black t-shirt with olive cargo shorts. There was something about him when he was in ball caps that she loved, maybe because he didn’t wear them often. He still hadn’t shaved, like he just threw on some clothes and drove over. And though his expression was composed as usual, his eyes were trained on her, full of unsaid things that hit her again in a rush, the pain of the previous day landing in her stomach.
His eyes quickly roamed over her. Her hair that was pulled into a sloppy bun on the top of her head, her face freshly scrubbed. She was wearing a simple pair of cotton sleep shorts and the Arizona State t-shirt she “borrowed” from him months ago. He met her eyes again.
She turned away because it hurt to look at him but then lifted her head again and watched as he silently crossed the room toward her because she couldn’t not look at him. He came and stood directly behind her as she redirected her attention to the half-covered cake on the stovetop. His presence was warm and reassuring, even in her anger, and she closed her eyes, breathing deep. He seemed to be doing the same and stepped closer, bringing their bodies in contact, just barely. He reached, bracing his hands on either side of her on the stove, and lowered his head, just breathing against her neck.
They stood like that for a full minute, neither one of them speaking, just soaking up each other’s presence. He lifted his head and she turned to look up at him. The ache she saw in his eyes matched her own and without thought, she tilted her head up as he lowered his. Their lips met in a soft kiss, their mouths just pressed together as he exhaled and she inhaled him. He still had her locked between his arms but he pulled back slightly, and she opened her eyes again.
“I’m sorry,” he said, meeting her eyes, the sincerity in his unmistakable. She hesitated a second and then nodded. He dropped his forehead to hers and she felt some of the tension in his body leave. She closed her eyes, leaning into him.
“I love you,” he said quietly.
She looked up at him and as if he couldn’t help it he leaned in and kissed her once more. Again, the kiss was soft, lasting only a few seconds, and she released a breath. This is what she needed. Him. Honestly, she didn’t even need the verbal apology, as good as it was to hear. She’d forgiven him the minute he’d stepped into the kitchen.
“You’re up early,” she observed when he pulled back slightly, keeping her locked between his arms, his hard chest pressed to her back.
“I couldn’t sleep.” He buried his nose in her neck as he spoke. “I waited as long as I could to come over here this morning. I needed to see you.”
“I couldn’t sleep either…I needed to see you too,” she admitted softly, because as weak as it made her feel sometimes, where he was concerned she couldn’t be coy.
She had enough of that early in their relationship and once she tore down the walls she’d constructed with him, that was it. She poured herself out to him, into him and it was liberating. She actually thrived on the thought that with Brian, she could always express herself, with no judgment. That her honesty, her truths, were safe with him.
“I’m sorry, baby. I’m sorry for taking that shit out on you,” he said, his baritone strained, “especially when you’re the only thing in my life that’s making any sense right now.”
She tilted her head to the side as he nuzzled his nose, back and forth against the curve of her neck. The caress wasn’t sexual though—it was comforting, as if he just needed to breathe her to restore his calm. She remained still, waiting for him to speak. She could almost feel him debating on what to say...
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