I’m working on my calculus homework in the living room and sigh in frustration for what seems like the fifteenth time.
I should have just asked Mike for help again. After the debacle at the bleachers, he hasn’t spoken to me and I feel like he’s almost trying to avoid me now. I really should just start looking for a tutor before I end up failing the first exam.
“Whatcha working on?” Adrian suddenly says behind me. He’s wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt that I love and an easy smile I haven’t seen in a while.
“Calculus,” I reply.
“Fun. You need help? You kind of look like you do.”
“Um yeah. It’s just this derivatives section that’s driving me crazy.”
“Hmm. Let me see if I can remember this stuff.” He takes a seat next to me and I point to the section in my textbook.
“Shit. Secant and tangent lines, huh? Well you gotta plot this stuff on your calculator first. Annoying, I know.”
I hand him my trusty old TI-89 calculator and he proceeds to show me how to do it. I’m really trying hard to pay attention, but I’m having a difficult time processing the fact that the captain of the soccer team is helping me with advanced math at the moment.
“Shit. I forget how to do this part,” he tells me. He starts flipping through my textbook and I involuntarily let out a giggle.
“What?” he asks me with a grin.
I see Nico approach us and I’m surprised to see him out here. He’s been acting like a hermit lately. “What are you guys doing?”
“Adrian is helping me with my calculus homework. Well, at least what he remembers of it,” I tell him.
“Hold on,” he responds. “I’ll be right back.”
Adrian and I look at each other curiously as Nico leaves.
“How are you feeling?” he asks me.
“Better. Thanks for taking me back to my room yesterday,” I tell him and try not to blush. I woke up this morning peacefully in my bed, so he must’ve brought me back there at some point after I fell asleep watching the movie. I really hope I wasn’t drooling.
“You’re welcome,” he smiles. “I slept really well on the couch actually.”
“Yeah, I think I did as well.”
He wrinkles his eyes and his expression changes a bit. “Can I ask you something?”
I look at him hesitantly but nod.
“Why aren’t you eating?” he asks.
“I am eating,” I defend myself. Although the way he asks the question sounds more out of concern than anything.
“Let me rephrase then. Why are you barely eating?”
I shrug and look away from him. “It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve just lost my appetite and I get nauseous easily. I am trying though.” I’ve never admitted that to anyone before, but after last night I feel like I owe him some answers.
“Have you gone to the doctor?”
“No. I think it’s mental more than anything. I don’t know.”
He looks like he has another question lined up, but he stops when we hear Nico coming back into the living room. He dumps a bunch of notebooks in front of us on the table. “All my notes from freshman year are there. They’re probably not very good, but I think it might help.”
“Nico, this is crazy. Thank you,” I immediately say.
He suddenly wraps his arms around me in a hug. “I love you, sis!” he yells loudly and he’s off on his merry way again.
Adrian laughs, probably at the dumbfounded expression on my face.
“Why is he in a good mood all of a sudden?” I ask him.
He shakes his head. “I’m just as surprised as you are.”
I turn to look at the big stack of notebooks. “I almost feel like this is cheating,” I tell him.
He sorts through the notebooks and pulls one out labeled Calculus on the front. “Not necessarily. His handwriting is barely legible,” he says.
He studies the notebook for a few minutes. “Oh right. Now I remember,” he says. “How about I hold on to it? Then it’ll be like I’m a real tutor.”
“Are you sure?” I ask him.
“Yeah. Let’s just get this over with before I fall asleep.”
“Okay.” I’m certainly not going to complain if he’s willing to help me.
Surprisingly it doesn’t take him long to explain everything after using Nico’s notebook and I’m grateful for both of them. Things seem like they might be taking a turn for the better.
I let out a yawn as we’re wrapping things up. “Thank you for helping me with this.”
“It’s not a problem, Sofia. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”
“Okay,” I tell him. It’s simple advice, but somehow I hadn’t thought about it before.
“Are you tired?”
“Yeah,” I respond truthfully.
“Me too,” he says. He looks at me intrigued. “I know a place … if you want to take a nap,” he winks at me.
“Really?” I know exactly what he’s referring to, but I’m surprised he actually wants to take a nap with me.
“Yeah, why not?”
I can’t find a reason to say no. In fact, his offer seems really appealing. “Okay,” I end up saying before I start over thinking it.
He leads me to the TV room and I feel like I’m in a daze. I feel like something has changed between us, but I’m not quite sure what it is yet.
I still can’t believe he saw me throw up yesterday. It was kind of mortifying and I’m afraid I might be regressing. He always seems to be there to witness me at my worst. I keep picturing the way he held my hair back and helped me. It was really sweet of him, but I just couldn’t handle him being there.
But then he went on a tangent about me being pregnant, and it was almost like he was mad at me. I know I’ve made a lot of stupid mistakes in the past, but I didn’t like how he automatically assumed that. And then I had to go and practically admit I’m still holding onto my V-card. Good job, Sofia.
Honestly, I don’t know why he still wants to hang out with me after all that. Feeling a bit defeated, I flop myself down on the couch.
“That’s my spot,” Adrian tells me.
“No it’s not. I was sitting here yesterday, and you didn’t say anything.”
“That’s because you were sick, but I usually sit there.”
“What’s the difference? Just sit on the other side.”
“No way. Scooch over.”
“I’m really exhausted, Adrian. I don’t have the energy to move.”
“Fine,” he responds. I think I’ve won the argument, but he bends down to pick me up and move me.
“Adrian, no fair!” I complain. I push against his chest, but all he does is laugh at my feeble attempts.
“Are you going to be a good girl and move? You have two seconds before I haul your cute butt to the other side,” he says looking down at me.
I scoff at him and automatically lift my hand to pinch his nose and cover his mouth at the same time. I’ve learned how to do this after way too many fights with Nico over the years. They might be stronger, but that all cancels out if they can’t breathe.
“Sofia,” he muffles behind my hand and now I’m the one laughing.
I feel something wet on my palm and it takes me a few seconds to understand he just licked it with his tongue. Nico would never pull that move on me.
“Gross!” I giggle, but keep my hand firmly placed over his mouth.
His brown eyes are wide with excitement and I get distracted gazing into them. He catches me off guard by licking my palm again and then proceeds to tickle me around my ribs.
I yelp and my hand immediately falls from his mouth, trying to stop his hands. I feel his body hovering over me, and we’re practically wrestling with each other on the couch as I try to pinch his arms.
“Do you surrender?” he asks me out of breath. He’s managed to pin my wrists down over my head with one hand and the weight of his body holds me in place. I couldn’t even move my legs if I wanted to. It’s a weird feeling because I should feel panicked like this, but I don’t, knowing he’s just playing around and would never hurt me.
“Never,” I reply trying to sound serious, even though I’m trying to hold in my laughter.
He chuckles and with his free hand sweeps a strand of my hair to the side, which was covering my face.
“Hmm,” he says studying my features. His gaze drops to my body and my cheeks flush.
“What?” I ask.
“I’m just wondering what I should do to you next … to make you surrender,” he says with a hoarse voice.
I gulp loudly and I feel my body heat up. “Can’t we just call it a truce?”
“Now why would I do that seeing that I have you exactly where I want?” His eyes turn a bit sleepy and I swear I feel butterflies dancing inside my stomach. It’s more like they’re having a full-on pool party with plenty of suntan lotion and piña coladas and I just got the invite.
“I think I have a better idea,” his lip curls up in a grin. “How about a compromise?”
He frees his grip on my wrists and lifts his body slightly from mine. He then scoots me over towards the edge of the couch and settles down next to me so that we’re both lying together horizontally on the couch.
I look over at him nervously as I realize his body is now flush against mine. This isn’t a compromise. It’s a compromising position. He feels extremely warm and I can’t help but fantasize how it would feel to touch his bare skin.
“Is this okay?” he asks me softly.
“Um … yeah?” I don’t know why I just answered that like a question.
He smiles at me again and sneaks an arm under my neck, positioning himself even closer to me. “Good. Now we can sleep.”
I let out a deep breath and force myself to relax against him. I close my eyes and concentrate on the rise and fall of his chest against me. It turns out to be the most soothing motion I’ve ever felt and before I know it, I’m drifting off to sleep.
I hear Adrian’s voice in my ear, interrupting my dream.
“It’s late. Do you want me to take you to your room?”
After a moment of disorientation, I briefly open my eyes to a dark TV room. Adrian’s body is securely wrapped around mine. I feel safe, protected. Something I haven’t felt in a really long time.
I shake my head in response to his question. I wouldn’t move away from this even if someone paid me. “Tired,” I think I mumble.
“Okay. Sleep, darling.” His breath tickles my neck and I feel his arm latch around my waist as I fall back into a deep slumber.
I wake up to the annoying sound of my alarm on my phone. My body feels way too hot, and when I try to move, I notice I’m slightly trapped in place by a weight over me.
“Sorry,” a rugged voice says. Before I can panic, I feel a shift behind me and the weight is suddenly lifted.
I turn to see Adrian looking at me with sleepy eyes and my breath catches in my throat. I can’t believe I just spent the entire night sleeping next to him.
“I didn’t mean to pin you, are you okay?”
“Fine.” It’s the only word I’m able to say at the moment.
He looks at me cautiously, and then motions to my phone on the coffee table. “Are you going to turn that off?”
“Oh, right.” I sit up and reach towards my phone to silence it.
Adrian sits up next to me and stretches out his legs. “What time is it?”
“Damn, Sofia. Why do you wake up so early?”
“I’m a girl, remember? I need more time to get ready than you.”
He chuckles. “I’m very aware, trust me.”
“I um … better get back to my room. Especially before Nico wakes up.” I don’t know why I just mentioned that last part, but I have a feeling if he were to see us like this, he wouldn’t be happy about it. Even if all we did was fall asleep.
Adrian runs his fingers through his hair, messing it up a bit. I have the urge to fix it for him, but I refrain from doing so. “You have a solid hour before that happens, but okay. I’ll walk you,” he says standing up.
He unexpectedly reaches for my hand and we walk in silence back to my room. It seems silly to get caught up in the simple feeling of his warm hand around mine, especially after he held me all night, but I relish it anyway.
Once we reach upstairs, the corridors are eerily silent and I feel really nervous about this all of a sudden. Almost like I did something wrong and am about to be caught.
I open the door to my room and turn around, not really sure what to say. Adrian stands next to the doorway and glances down the hallway, towards Nico’s room. It feels strange, him dropping me off like this, as if he were taking me home after a date. I know it’s far from the case, but it’s the only way I can explain this indescribable mixture of feeling both giddy and skittish at the same time.
“I should start getting ready,” I tell him quietly.
He nods, but then takes a step closer to me, pushing me slightly inside my room. “Thank you for the best sleep of my life,” he whispers in my ear.
I’m too shocked to respond, but his words make my insides melt. There is no way that can be true for him, even though it was very much for me.
“We should do it again sometime … if you want,” he adds.
“Yeah, we should,” I grin back at him. Oh my god, what am I saying? Even if he had suggested we go throw eggs at the neighbor’s car, I know I would be stupidly nodding in agreement.
He leans into me and slowly kisses my forehead. “Done.”
I push him back a little, not because I want to, but because I’m certainly not used to this or whatever it is that is happening. It’s thrilling but I’m also very aware that Nico could come out of his room and catch us together at any moment. “Go,” I tell him.
He smiles at me and steps out of my room. He reaches the door to close it on his way out. “Bye darling,” I hear him say right before it clicks shut.
I stare at the door in stupefaction inside my now empty room. Did I dream it, or did he also call me that last night?