Chapter tune: Pixies – Where is my mind
“Don’t you think I deserve an explanation about what happened before?” Yes… that would have been a million times better. Or maybe a simple goodnight paired with a glare or a hair flick – or both – would suffice. Anything than the way she really handled things after the unavoidable relapse to his icy ways. Anything that didn’t make her sound so.. desperate.
It had always been like this. Raina’s mind getting wrapped up in scenarios that would never happen, or mentally fixing her meek behavior, finding better answers a little too late, with no chance of them ever escaping her lips.
By the time her eyes were beginning to shut, the sun had already risen. And once again, her thoughts were invaded by an image of Andrew embracing her from behind, brushing his lips against her hair, her neck, her… Nope. There was no sleeping anymore.
Might as well get up, eat a couple of cookies – the big, soft, chocolate chip kind -, make a bucket of coffee with a ton of sugar and cream and finally get some work done. Oh, and pray that Andrew was still sleeping. She would definitely try to avoid him for a couple of days, at least until the sting of last night’s rejection began to mellow down.
But of course when she got downstairs, he was already in the kitchen making breakfast. Just my luck. And apart from the usual good morning he muttered when he saw her, there wasn’t another exchange of words between them. Which admittedly was pretty convenient, since she didn’t even want to face him right now; but still kinda hurt.
She approached the counter, reaching for the open box of cookies she knew was left in one of the cupboards, and stopped dead in her tracks. Whatever he was cooking smelled delicious. “…have you eaten anything yet?” he suddenly asked, apparently sensing that her stomach was one fried egg away from growling.
“Um, don’t worry about me. I’ll just grab this box of cookies and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“You have to eat well, Raina.” he said, echoing his words from the night before, although if it was intentional or not, Raina couldn’t tell.
“Well aren’t you considerate.” she hissed, partly because she was finally getting mad at him for all the emotional turmoil he was able to put her through so easily last night, and partly because sleep was her vice – or one of them anyway. And the lack of it made her cranky as hell.
There was an awkward tension between them, which apparently Raina seemed to prefer more than relenting to Andrew’s weak invitation to talk. Leaving her remark hanging in the air, he sat on the counter to eat. “I’ve made more eggs and orange juice than intended, so I served the extra for you.” he stated. “You should drink the juice while it’s still got all its vitamins.”
More silence. Andrew fumbled a bit with his phone, which Raina took it as a sign that he didn’t want to be disturbed. No surprise there, she thought bitterly. She did eat the breakfast though. Just before she was ready to retreat to her room again, he spoke, not lifting his eyes off his phone. “Ah. There’s this movie being released on Simflix tonight, that I’ve been meaning to watch. They say it’s the next Simdonia in June.”
“I didn’t know you were into foreign films.”
“I haven’t watched many of them, but I remember Simdonia was truly something.”
“Um… okay then. Well, have a good time watching it.”
This time, he finally raised his face to look at her. “You can also watch it tonight if you want…uh, I mean, with me. I mean… if you’re interested in this kind of a movie.”
What? What kind of hot and cold game was that? “Are you sure you want me to? I mean, you won’t change your mind later? Because – ” she abruptly stopped herself from continuing her sentence. Well done, Raina. What about a simple “No thanks” or “I already have plans”?
“The things is, I’ve not been a good roommate Raina, more like a terrible one. I would like to rectify that. And I just thought it would be a good idea to watch a movie together… as roommates, I mean.”
She should say no. Gosh darn it, she knew she should say no. And yet – “I’ll think about it.”
I’ll think about it. It was probably the least enthusiastic response she could possibly give and yes, Andrew knew he deserved it. At least she didn’t say no. But what was he supposed to do with I’ll think about it? Would she come or would she ignore him? The uncertainty made him fidget in his seat. Breathe it out. Control yourself.
Not that he had planned on asking her to see a movie with him. That was so far away from the plan, he never even saw it coming. Until his stupid brain stopped cooperating and he blurted it out nonetheless. What was happening to him? Being that close to her… that wasn’t part of the plan. And if there was one thing he was good at, it was always being able to stick to his plans.
Of course, plans could go to hell when other people had a say in it – like starting a family; this had always been part of it, albeit it arrived much, much sooner than expected – an accident, unfortunate or not, depending on how one saw it. For Andrew, it was strangely a more than welcome detour, one that had weaseled its way into his hopes and dreams, one that would make his desire to finally have a proper, a “real” family true… and one that had ultimately blown to a million pieces when Ingrid’s psychologist showed up in front of their door one day and declared the child she had given birth to only a couple months back, was his. The paternity test confirmed it as well. Plan ruined.
And most importantly, heart ruined as well. Not that he had ever loved Ingrid desperately, not really. He was enamored by her her at first, and he did grow to love her, sure – plus, her being the exact opposite of his mother in more ways than not was a more than welcome trait. But the kind of love he felt in the long run was mostly fueled by habit; and Andrew was far and foremost a creature of habit.
The pain he felt when he discovered her betrayal though, that was 100% real. As were the tears he’d shed when he was screaming his lungs off – hopefully for the first and last time of his life – before he left both Ingrid and a new baby that wasn’t his for good. What a joke.
And now Raina… what was that strange feeling he got whenever she was around? The peculiar, warm, fuzzy kind that made his insides flutter, that happened every time she was around. Not that she or anyone around could ever realize it, because controlling his emotions was one if the things he did best. Nobody could tell, but he had totally frozen the first time he saw her again, that night he went to pick up his sister at the club. She was everything he remembered her to be, and at the same time she wasn’t. She was sweet like she used to, but breathtaking at the same time. If only she knew how much strength it took for him to walk away from her last night… that one night his emotional state almost spiraled out of control. But he had, and it was probably for the best.
He was being unfair comparing her to Ingrid, he knew it. But he found himself doing just that. They were both so… different from him. Like Ingrid, Raina was a dreamer, a romantic, a whimsical creature almost unfit for this world. And he wasn’t any of those things, never had been. Who knew how much time it would take her to get sick of his cold, practical ways and decide that someone else was a better fit? Who knew how long it would take her to realize it and, even worse, come clean about it? He’d seen how she treated that poor idiot who was lastly with her. Not even daring to tell him what was on her mind and stringing him along until the truth blew up to his face. How much time could he waste like this? Or how much time until he finally broke her heart? Because he wasn’t even sure he could do feelings again. Feelings led to attachment and attachment led to… all kinds of disaster.
He wasn’t up for any more of those.
Raina waited for Charlie at the small café near her old home. She desperately wanted to talk to someone about everything, and that someone had always been her beloved cousin.
Charlie arrived a bit later, looking even more striking than usual. She obviously just had another photoshoot at Posh – their favorite vintage clothing store – and they obviously let her keep the dress.
“Whoa, that’s a killer outfit you have there! And… suddenly I feel underdressed.”
Charlie beamed. “Please. I’m way overdressed. And kind of freezing. But isn’t it fabulous? Do you see how it pushes up my boobs and shit?”
“I think the whole place has seen it, actually.” Raina said, motioning her hand towards a dumbfounded group of guys.
“Good. Let them stare.” Charlie replied with a wink. “So, you up for some action tonight? We could go to a bar, have some drinks… I could lend you this dress. What do you say?”
“Well, I… sort of… have a thing for tonight. Although I’m not sure if I should go or not.”
“Oooh, do tell! Is it a date?”
“Nah, it’s… Andrew asked me to watch a movie with him. As roommates, not like a date or anything like that… and I’m n-not sure what I should do.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow, then broke a huge smirk. “Dude! You like him! Did something happen between you two? Ah, I knew you had your eye on that guy – didn’t I tell you from day one?”
“Yeah yeah… I guess you were right.”
Raina then proceeded talking about everything that had happened last night, up to the very last detail.
“Wait… are we talking about the same Andrew here? Mr Tightass? Well well well…” Charlie fanned herself with her hand “I gotta say, that was hot! Who would have thought..!”
“He definitely wants you.” Charlie stated.
“You think so?”
“Girl! First of all, you’re a total knockout, how many times do I have to tell you? Who wouldn’t want you? And second… well, wasn’t it kind of obvious last night?”
“Um. I guess it was… I can’t stop thinking about it actually. And the thing is…” Raina lowered her voice so that no-one else nearby could listen “I wanna do stuff with him that I’ve never done before.”
“Oh, now we’re talking! Like what?”
“Charlie, I’m not gonna tell you that!”
Charlie narrowed her eyes and put her finger on her mouth in consideration. “So do it. Just tell him. What single man in his right mind would pass up an opportunity for sex with a gorgeous woman he obviously has the hots for?”
“B-but… everything points to the fact t-that… he’s not ready for a relationship. And even if he was, I doubt he’d be the chocolates-and-roses kind of guy. I don’t know…”
“Okay, easy tiger… Who said anything about a relationship?”
“My dear cousin… you know what your problem is? You fall in love with guys too easily. Or more correctly, you fall in love with the idea of being in love.”
Raina stirred her strawberry milkshake with the straw. Her cousin wasn’t wrong. Did she care to admit it? Nope. “What’s wrong with that?”
“It all falls apart in the end, because you set your expectations too high right off the bat. You keep searching for your ideal prince charming, you actually forget to have any fun.”
Damn. That actually made sense. Raina did have the bad habit of jumping head-first into relationships, thinking every guy as the one, until it all crashed and burned spectacularly.
For some reason, Charlie felt suddenly very inspired by her cousin’s love life, so she continued blabbering. “This situation with Andrew is perfect. You already have the chemistry, plus you know he’d make for a bad boyfriend; so that’s out of the way. And say, how much time do you have until you leave his flat, four, five months? You can screw each other’s brains out until then and then you’re done. Finito. Sayonara. And the best part, no hard feelings when it’s over.”
Well. That didn’t sound so bad. Maybe a no-strings-attached fling was exactly what Raina needed. What was the point of so many relationships if she threw her heart on the line and every single time it got a little more damaged, a little more broken in the process? Maybe she could take her cousin’s example and take sex for what it was. Something simple and fun, nothing complicated or sentimental about it. Maybe trying to push things romantically lead to more harm than good eventually. Plus, she was going through a dry spell since Zach. And even with him – hell, every man of her past actually – they weren’t really clicking in bed. Something told her this would not be the case with Andrew.
“You’re thinking about it.” Charlie was practically grinning.
“It does sound tempting.” Raina said absent-mindedly. But the truth was, she’d already made up her mind. She would make Andrew an offer he couldn’t refuse. At least she hoped so. And most importantly, when the time came, she hoped she would be brave enough to actually propose it.
“You’re late.” Andrew said, having already taken his place on the couch for who knew how long. She glanced at the watch on the wall. Fourty minutes late? Shoot. No wonder he looked pissed.
And of course Raina was late. She took her sweet time preparing herself, both psysically and mentally, for tonight. And then debated for about an hour what to wear. That lacy skimpy nightdress? Nah. She would look ridiculous and frankly, a little desperate. Next. Those cute pink pajamas with kittens and bunnies all over them? Not the kind of impression she wanted to give at the moment. In the end, she settled for a simple sweater and a pair of jeans shorts. The simpler, the better. Just like her love… no, sex life apparently.
She sat at the other end of the couch, suddenly feeling quite self-conscious under his stern gaze. She tried not to show it. “It’s not like you waited for me outside – you’re in your place!”
“Weak excuse. Also, your pizza is getting cold.”
“You got us pizza?” she squeaked.
“Correction: I got you pizza.”
“Even better – more for me! But aren’t you hungry?”
“I’ll have something light. If I’m correct, the one you usually order is brie, bacon and…” he winced before he could utter the next word “cranberries?”
“Hey, I’ll have you know that it’s the best flavor ever created! But… how did you even know that’s what I like?”
“Don’t you ever wonder how the receipts you throw all over the house are magically disappearing? I already know what you usually order, Raina.”
Raina… She could listen to him saying her name for days at a time. The way his tongue rolled the “R”, the way his voice held the “a” for just a little longer… Suddenly her appetite grew stronger, although it involved something entirely different than pizza. This alone was a whole new experience for her.
Be bold… right.
“C-can we talk?” she blurted out.
“Haven’t we been talking already?”
“R-right. Um… The thing is… I-I… kinda wanna talk about last night.”
Andrew froze. He never, in a million years would expect that the shy girl – no, woman – in front of him would willingly jump into a conversation that would prove awkward at best. Plus, what on earth could he say to justify his behavior?
Still, he nodded in agreement. “Sure.”
“Do you… want me?”
Well, he did not expect that.
“Do I want you?” he repeated, his mind working overtime trying to figure out what was happening and what to do to avoid the question.
“Yeah… Do you?”
As much as he fought it, Andrew couldn’t lie. “Yes. But -”
“Good.” she interrupted him, and exhaled in relief. At least she now knew she hadn’t imagined the whole thing. “I… I want you too.”
His eyes popped open and his mouth followed, probably trying to get out of this dangerous conversation as soon as possible. How had the roles been reversed so quickly? She raised a hand to stop him from speaking his mind. So bossy all of a sudden… for some reason he liked that.
“I think w-we should uh… act on it.” she stated, her newfound way of viewing intimacy making her feel strangely empowered.
He nearly choked on his wine. “Excuse me?”
“Since we both um, you know, want it. B-but there’s no need for things to get complicated. It will be like an… arrangement… of s-sorts. In four months I’ll be out of here and then it will be over; no harm, no foul.”
Andrew couldn’t believe his ears. Could things be that easy? No messy feelings involved, a clean cut exit for both… Nah. Surely, he must had misunderstood. “Raina…”
Again, she didn’t let him finish. Now it was all out there, and she knew that if she got interrupted, all her sudden confidence would fly out of the window faster than a speeding bullet. “We c-could uh… make a… a list of everything we want to do. And then it will be over. A clean break.”
Andrew’s face was still in shock, and Raina felt a little proud she was the one that managed to make that happen. “A list… Are you talking about a plan… for sex?”
“What, like a top ten? …that kind of a list?”
“S-something like that. Although it should have to be more than ten if we’re going to do it until I move out.”
Andrew felt the urge to pinch himself. Had he died and gone to heaven? “And you’re sure that’s what you want? Because -”
Raina interrupted him – again. She wondered how many times she could do it and get away with it. “I know you still have some specific memories of me but… I’m not that innocent anymore, Andrew. I want this.”
She noticed his nostrils flare. She must have said something very wrong… or very right. He shot her an intense look. Probably the latter. “So it will be like a contract? With clear terms – the list, like you said – and an end date?”
“Well, it’s not like we’ll write it down or anything…”
Oh, Andrew was so overflown with ideas, he could spend hours… days writing it down. Just thinking about it made his mouth dry and his pants grow tighter. Better stop before she freaks out.
He hadn’t even realized he had been staring at her for a while, his face so unreadable, Raina stopped feeling so sure about this whole proposal. Shoot. She was so unused to stating what she wanted, she belatedly realized she might have come on a little too strong. She felt her whole face turning hot pink and her voice came out weak, but still managing to interrupt his not so innocent train of thought. “I knew it… I’m… I’m so sorry. It was ridiculous to even ask. C-can we pretend this discussion never happened? I’m just gonna go, I… I have to -”
He grabbed her hand before she had the chance to flee, his eyes so hot they could burn holes in her flushed skin, his voice so raspy it almost came out like a growl. “We could start with the couch.”
A/N: Hey guys! I’m finally back after… wow, four months of absence! I am so sorry about that! The truth is, this chapter has been rewritten at least five times – I guess inspiration wasn’t on my side this time… but I now have a clear view of how the story will go, so that’s something at least lol! Be prepared for some saucy content very soon, hehe! 😉
I’d like to apologize for being greatly behind on the reader too… work was being a total b#&%$ again those months (the company that I work for is a healthcare one, so we were busier than usual), but things are finally cooling down at last! So if I haven’t yet commented, expect loads of comments soon! 😀
Anyway, I hope everyone is well and safe! Thank you so much for reading! ❤ ❤