Generation 5, Chapter 8


Oh, my God.. My head was killing me.. What the hell happened last night? I remember coming home from Riley’s, talking with Pia and blowing up at her like an asshole, then leaving to go to the bar.. But, that’s it. I couldn’t remember anything else. Oh, shit.. I must’ve blacked out.. Fuck, I really hope I didn’t do anything stupid last night. Starting that early drinking was stupid enough, but drinking all day and into the night and not remembering a second of it? Shit..

I still couldn’t open my eyes after waking up. I could see through my eyelids that it was too bright to open them just yet and I sat up on what felt like a couch beneath me. I let out a tired, painful groan and I brought my hands up to my face, rubbing my cheeks and my eyes as I tried to remember what had happened last night.


“Good, you’re awake,” I heard my brother, Niko’s, voice and I struggled to open my eyes, looking to where I heard his voice and I saw him standing in his kitchen drinking a cup of coffee.

“W-What.. How did I get here?” I asked, my eyes continuing to struggle to focus as I stood up with weak legs from the couch to join him in the kitchen. 

“Wow, you really were trashed last night.. Trashed enough to drive here at three in the morning and wake us up,” Niko pointed out in slight frustration and I watched as he grabbed a second cup of coffee he had already made for me and handed it over. I leaned against the counter as I took the mug and let out another groan as I felt how weak and hungover my entire body was. 

“Thanks,” I said quietly, my vision fuzzy and my ears ringing from a massive headache, “I came here that late last night?” I asked, taking a sip of the coffee.

“Yeah.. You seemed pretty upset, too. You were going on and on about Riley, and something about Alani, too, but I could barely catch any of the points you were trying to make you were slurring so much. Something about love and what not and not knowing what to do about.. Something..? I honestly don’t know,” he reminded me, although it wasn’t much to go on, but I could put two and two together and knew I was probably rambling about what I talked to Pia about.


“I’m sorry, Niko, I didn’t mean to do that.. Was AnneMarie mad?”

“No, more-so concerned.”

“..She isn’t going to tell Riley about this, right?” I asked in worry, but he shook his head.

“No. You asked her not to and she said she wouldn’t, but who knows.. She went out to get something for dinner for us, mostly you, so you’d hopefully feel better.”

“W-Wait, what? Dinner? What time is it?”

“It’s almost five. You slept all day,” he said with a rather displeased expression.

“Jesus..”

“It seemed like you had a lot to drink last night.. And I’m kind of pissed you drove here like that.. You should’ve just called me, I would’ve come and picked you up. You could’ve got pulled over, or worse, gotten into an accident.. You’re really stupid sometimes, you know that?” He disciplined as if he was Dad or Pops and I chuckled softly.

“Heh, yeah, yeah, I do.. And I probably did try to call you, but with the condition I was in, I don’t doubt that I fucked up trying to dial you and just gave up and decided to drive here.. I can’t believe I did that,” I replied with disappointment in myself, taking another sip of the coffee before putting it down onto the counter top.


“Well, it’s fine now. You’re safe, so that’s what’s important,” he said with a forced smile and I smirked.

“Again, I’m sorry.. I didn’t mean to barge in like that and I didn’t mean to get that drunk. It really was stupid of me, but thank you for taking me in,” I said with my smirk still on my lips.

“Always,” he then replied with a genuine smile and I could tell he was finally over it, “So.. About last night, though.. What were you so upset about, anyways?”

“No.. I don’t want to talk about it,” I shied my eyes away to the ground.

“You don’t get to do that, Luca. You don’t get to come here in the condition you were in and not tell me why you did it. I have a right to know, especially when you seemed like you really wanted to talk about whatever it was,” he insisted and I sighed.

“..You’re right.. How long ago did AnneMarie leave? I don’t want to talk about it if she’s here,” I replied, not knowing if AnneMarie really wouldn’t tell Riley about what I did last night and with what I was about to talk to Niko about, it’s the last thing I needed her to overhear.

“She left about ten minutes ago, although I think she’s probably going to that diner across town that serves the really greasy stuff for occasions such as this, so we have time.. Spill it,” he said in his kind, ‘I’m listening’, tone and I appreciated his open ears.

“All right, well.. It pretty much can just be summed up to Pia getting it out of me that I think I already love Riley, but I don’t want to tell her. And somehow the subject of Alani came up and I may have admitted that I still do love her and part of me is, maybe, holding back from telling Riley something that serious in hopes that Alani might eventually come back.. Or not.. I don’t know, really.. I don’t want to tell Riley that I love her because then what if Alani eventually does show up again and I decide I want to be with her? I can’t do that to Riley. I’d be leaving her the same way Alani left me. Tell her I love her, then bam, I’m gone.. All of it makes me feel like such shit and I’m an asshole for even holding onto the shred of hope that Alani will ever come back,” I explained and there was a long silence around us before he spoke.

“Well, that’s, uhm.. Pretty serious, Luca,” he seemed bothered by my words and I didn’t blame him.. AnneMarie and Niko were the ones that set me up with Riley in hopes of maybe trying to help me forget about Alani, but seeing as their attempt at helping me didn’t work, it made me feel even more like shit. They had good intentions and I appreciated it, but I couldn’t help what I still wanted deep down.

“Look, I know you and AnneMarie wanted nothing but the best for me by introducing me to Riley, and so far it’s been really great, obviously, since I feel this strongly about her, but.. There’s still a part of me that I don’t think will ever get over Alani and I don’t know what to do. I’ve already told Riley about Alani and I told her I didn’t love her anymore, so I can’t go back on what I said. It’ll make her think she can’t compare to her or something and the last thing I want is to make her feel like shit over something that’s completely my fault for not being honest about,” I answered.

“Forgive me if this is a little straight forward, Luca, but there isn’t anything you can do. Alani hasn’t come back to you, so there’s nothing to figure out..? The only thing that’s making you think that you still have a chance with her is because you refuse to let her go. You need to let her go, Luca.. If you love Riley like you say you do, then you need to separate yourself from the past and move forward or you’ll never be happy. If you can’t move on, then don’t drag Riley along with you if you’re not one hundred percent sure that you want to be with her,” his words hit harder than I thought they would and my heart started to race a little in nerves.

“You.. Think I should break up with her?”

“Well.. It isn’t fair to her. If you’re thinking about someone else when you’re with her, then-”

“-I don’t.. I don’t think about Alani at all when I’m with Riley, not ever.. It’s just the downtime’s.. And especially last night when she came up in conversation with Pia. I promise,” I answered sternly and he shrugged his shoulders.

“You don’t have to promise me anything or prove anything to me, Luca. The only person you need to be honest with right now is yourself.. And Riley,” he implied.

“I-” I didn’t know what to say, “I.. Can’t.. I can’t do that. I told Riley that I didn’t love Alani anymore, I can’t just go and talk to her about it and admit that I lied straight to her face.. And telling her that I’m in love with someone else that I haven’t seen in this long? It just sounds ridiculous,” I replied.

“The worst that could happen is you break up, and everyone goes through them, Luca-”

“-You never did,” I pointed out and he shrugged again.

“I’m just lucky, I guess.. But, that’s not the point. People break up every day. It’s nothing to be scared of, it’s just something you’ll have to prepare yourself for just in case. You have time to prepare yourself for the worst this time, too. She’s not going to up and leave you without some kind of notice and vice versa. It won’t be anything like how you and Alani ended it, if it does, that is,” he pointed out and I did agree with what he said, but I still didn’t think I could do it.

“But, I think I love her-”

“-And if you do, you’ll be honest with her,” he insisted, “That’s mostly what keeps love alive, Luca.. Honesty. And if you don’t have that, it’ll never work out,” he added and I knew that to be true, but I was nervous about it.

“Well, what if I just try it out a little bit longer and see if it goes away?”

“Now you’re just trying to avoid something you should do. I know it’s scary-”

“-I’m not scared.”

“Whatever.. The point is, you’re putting it off because it’s something you don’t want to do, but it’s something you should do. She has a right to know that even though you may love her, there’s someone else that’s still in your heart, too. You shouldn’t have lied to her in the first place,” he gave me a parental eyebrow raise and I rolled my eyes.

“I know, I know, but, she asked, and since it was so new, I didn’t wanna blow it so early into us dating. It made me uneasy already dating someone for the first time in so long and I didn’t want to blow it, so-”

“-You told her what you thought she wanted to hear, and what you wanted to believe, yourself,” he finished for me.

“Man, you really like completing my sentences for me, don’t you?” I said with an annoyed snicker.

“Luca, we’re brothers. I’ve grown up learning exactly who you are. I just know you, that’s all, and I’ve come to understand what kind of person you are,” he put simply.

“What, a coward? Selfish? Dishonest?”

“Hey, you said it, not me,” he said with a teasing grin and I sighed heavily.

“We had sex two nights ago for the first time,” I brought up randomly, hoping that maybe giving him that piece of information would trail him away from insisting I tell Riley the truth. Niko’s eyes widened in surprise and he seemed deep in thought for a long moment.

“That’s-” He didn’t know what to say for another long moment, “That.. Makes things a lot more complicated,” he said.

“I know, right?! I can’t tell her something like that when she’s been waiting until she completely trusted me in order to be comfortable enough to have sex with me. I don’t know if she loves me back, of course, but something tells me that she might, or at least have strong feelings towards me, and if I told her about how I truly felt about Alani after she brought her walls down and let me in like that, I just.. I can’t. Not now, at least,” I replied, my eyes going down to the floor again and I felt ashamed for how I felt.

“Shoot.. So, now, if you tell her the truth, she might take it wrong and think you just wanted the sex and are making up some excuse to break up with her once you got it,” he came to a possible conclusion and I nodded.

“More than likely, yes, and that’s why I can’t tell her because I don’t want her to think that for a second.. Had this realization happened before we had sex, sure, I could probably do it, but after all of that and how great it was and how amazing I know she is, I can’t, Niko. I’d double hurt her, and I don’t even want to hurt her once..”

“Jesus.. Why does sex make everything more complicated?”

“Pft.. Like you would even know, virgin,” I teased.

“I realize you’re hurting right now, Luca, but pointing out virginity as a flaw isn’t something I’ll stand for. I’m waiting for a reason and it’s to experience it with the woman I love,” he got defensive and I chuckled half-heartedly.

“Lighten up, I’m just joking around.. It’s beautiful and you’re lucky and blah blah, romantic shit and what not,” I brushed off.

“I don’t really know what to tell you now, Luca. I still want you to be honest with her, but I can understand how it would come across after you two have been intimate. You’re in a really crappy situation and I don’t know what I can say to help you. I think this is something you might just need to figure out for yourself, as hard as it sounds,” Niko spoke at a loss, but before I could answer or try to talk more about it with him, the door was being unlocked and AnneMarie came inside with the food she had gone out for.


She stood there for a moment in slight confusion before fully coming inside.

“Jeez, what’re ya’ll so gloomy about?” AnneMarie wondered as she shut the door behind her. Niko quickly went to her, helping her bring in the food by taking it from her hands.

“Nothing, babe,” he leaned in and kissed her lovingly, “I’ll get us some plates. Thank you for going out and getting dinner,” he continued.

“It’s no problem,” she said with a smile and I walked over to the couch to sit down.

“So, how are yah, sweetie? Feelin’ okay?” She worried about me with a sweet smile, coming over to sit with me and tapping my knee twice before withdrawing it and I nodded.

“Yeah, I’m fine, and thanks to you, I’ll be much better when I get some food in me,” I replied, trying to momentarily erase my emotions from my face and tone while in her presence, “You’re a life saver.”

“Oh, go on,” she said with another smile and I chuckled softly. As much as I wanted to forget about Riley and how much of a piece of shit I was while with AnneMarie, Riley was all I could think about. AnneMarie had the same accent, the same glow in her green eyes, the same kindness. I couldn’t handle it.

“You don’t happen to have anything a little stronger than coffee, do you, Niko?” I asked with a sense of slight shame, but I felt like I needed it.

“This early?” AnneMarie wondered and I chuckled nervously. She thought that drinking at five was early?

“Hair of the dog,” I answered and she nodded in understanding.

“Uh, I think so?” He answered and Niko went to the fridge and checked for me, “Yeah, I got a few beers. But, you only get one, got it?”

“Yes, dad,” I teased and AnneMarie giggled softly.

“Shut up, you know I hate that,” he scolded and I kept my grin. Even with everything I was dealing with, Niko always managed to bring out a little humor in me during hard times and I really needed it. Niko handed me a beer and I took it, hearing the carbonation escape the bottle when I twisted the cap off and took a quick chug of it before setting it down on the coffee table.

“So, what were yah so upset about last night, Luca? You were a drunkin’ mess and we could barely understand yah, but I thought I could’ve sworn I heard you mention Riley.. Is everythin’ between you two goin’ okay?” She wondered in worry and I glanced up briefly to see Niko putting the food onto plates, but he was staring at me, as well.

I put my attention back on AnneMarie and thought of a quick lie, “Oh, uhh.. I-It was nothing.. I just got really drunk and I didn’t want you to tell Riley about me getting plastered like that. I don’t want her to get the wrong impression of me,” I replied, meaning that statement in more than just one way and she nodded.

“Oh, well, don’t worry, sweetheart, I won’t tell’er. Everyone needs to have some fun by themselves every now and then, right? Besides, after convincin’ her to go out with yah, I wouldn’t say anythin’ bad about yah to her,” she replied with a smile, but it took me a few seconds to dissect her words.

“Wait, what?” I wondered and her expression seemed surprised.

“What? What did I say?” She asked.

“You.. You said that you had to convince her to go out with me.. I thought that you told me she wanted to, and I was the one that took the convincing?” I replied and I could tell that AnneMarie was getting a little uncomfortable by the question I asked. Niko came into the room and set down three plates full of food and attempted to change the conversation.


“What does it matter? You two are together now, so that’s that,” he put simply, but I ignored it and continued talking to AnneMarie.

“What exactly did you need to convince her about?”

“I.. Don’t think this is appropriate timin’-”

“-Why not? Because you happened to slip out the truth instead of the lie that you told me?”

“Luca, chill out, okay? It’s not that big of a deal,” Niko jumped in to try to protect AnneMarie and I understood why, but it didn’t help calm me down at all. He must’ve been in on it, too.

I looked at Niko, “So, you can lie to my face, but I’m the one that should be telling the truth?” I referred to our conversation earlier before AnneMarie had gotten there and I could see the guilt in his eyes, “I’m.. I’m just gunna go. Thanks for the dinner, but I’m not that hungry anymore. Sorry again for barging in last night,” I spoke with a tinge of anger, getting up from the couch and walking to the front door to leave. 

“Luca, come on,” I heard Niko say before I shut the door, but I was too frustrated to turn back to hear him out. Why was it that everywhere it seemed I went lately, the conversations always turned into arguments?


I heard the door open and shut behind me as I walked to my poorly parked car and I knew it was Niko.

“Luca, you know what you’re doing right now, right? You’re reaching. You’re finding things to get mad at Riley about so that maybe telling her the truth won’t seem so hard, and that if you do break up over it, you’ll hurt less because you have something on her, too,” Niko called out, still following behind me.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” I brushed off.

“I think I do, Luca-”

“-Fine,” I stopped walking towards my car and faced him, “Then cut the crap, stop trying to be the best man in the entire word by shoving this honestly bullshit down my throat and tell me why it took Riley some convincing to date me. Or at least just to meet me. What has AnneMarie said about me behind my back to her all these years? I mean, they’ve been friends since before she met you eleven years ago, she’s known me that long, too, and girls love to fucking gossip, so I don’t doubt there’s been some bad shit said about me to AnneMarie from you, and from her to Riley,” I pointed out.

“If you say that, then you must know already. I don’t need to tell you,” he said with furrowed, worried brows.

“Maybe.. But, I want you to say it,” I challenged and he sighed heavily, “What? I’m not allowed to lie to someone, but you are? To your brother, no less? This isn’t about Riley anymore, this isn’t about some girl, this is about us now. Family. Just tell me what you’ve told AnneMarie and what she’s told Riley about me. That’s all I’m asking. If you can tell me that, then yeah, maybe I’ll take your shitty advice and have the courage to be honest with Riley, too, but if you can’t, if you can’t take your own damn advice, then what’s it good for?” I asked rhetorically and I could see the nerves he was feeling through his eyes.


“Fine.. You’re just.. You just have a bad reputation, that’s all,” he said with a shrug.

“That’s all, you say? And what kind of reputation is that?”

“Please, don’t make me say it, Luca,” he somewhat begged, the hurt evident in his eyes, but I wasn’t letting him off that easy and he finally gave in.

“.. A womanizer,” he said in a way as if he was truly uncomfortable with the word, but I could see why. He was an angel, always has been, and he’d never be anything like me. I grew up knowing how perfect he was because our parents would never shut up about it.

“Well.. Only the ones that believe it are the ones that spread it, right?” I replied and I could tell he felt terrible for even saying it.

“I don’t spread lies, Luca. Every time someone’s talked to me about you and how you are with women, depending on the severity of the situation, I either don’t say anything, or I deny it. I always have your back, but everyone knows that you like coasting through life getting women on theirs,” he answered and I chuckled sarcastically.

Coasting through life? You can’t be serious..”

He continued, “Riley knew this before going on a date with you, because, well.. Yeah, AnneMarie has talked about it with her because Riley’s her best friend and AnneMarie’s practically your sister, she has been for a long time and she’ll be officially part of the family when we get married. But, you can’t blame her, because who knew you and Riley would eventually end up together? And who knew that you would be this.. ‘Charismatic’ with women? ..But, the point is, even when she knew about your reputation, she still agreed to meet you, and things have been great ever since, right? You told me no more than twenty minutes ago that you think you love her and you think she loves you, too. If her view of you hasn’t changed from since before she met you, then how the heck can you stand there and say that? How can you possibly believe she could still think those things about you? She’s gotten to know you and she likes who you are, maybe even loves who you are, so why does a little bit of convincing on her side make that much of a difference? And, really, how could you blame her? ..You needed convincing, too, you know.. Or did you forget that part?” he pointed out.

“Yeah, I had my doubts, too, I didn’t know anything about Riley at the time and she knew all about me. But, I needed to convince myself that I needed to get out more and actually take dating seriously, but she needed to convince herself to go out on a date with a ‘womanizer’.. It’s completely different convincing reasons,” I continued to argue.

“But, you’re still missing the point. If she still thought that, she wouldn’t still be with you. You proved that reputation otherwise to her and she likes you for who you are, not the rumors about what people think you are. I still think you should be honest with her, and I know you’re going to say you’re not scared, but you are. I can see it. And with the heartbreak you went through with Alani, you’re scared it’s going to happen again with Riley, but she’s nothing like Alani and you know that. If she loves you like you think she does, she’ll look past it.. Tell her the truth about both things,” he implied.

“Both things?”

“Yeah.. About you loving her and about Alani. She deserves to know about both,” he continued to insist I be honest with her and myself, but I was still unsure if I could.

“What if I’m not ready to do either?”

“Then keep pretending you’re happy and continue to live your life.. I don’t know, Luca, but I can tell you that the longer you keep it a secret, the more probability that it’s going to come out sometime,” he said with slight frustration, completely at a loss with how to help me.

“Which do I do first?” I asked, still needing help and Niko sighed as he approached me more and stopped just a few feet away.

“Luca, I don’t know.. If it were me, I’d.. I’d probably tell her about how you still feel things for Alani, and if she understands, then tell her the truth about how you feel about her. Maybe she can still look past it and focus on how you feel now about her. But, I want you to understand that this is all about how you want to go about it. Whether you talk about one thing or the other first, who knows how she’ll react to either. You just have to figure it out yourself and hope she’s understanding about both. Other than that, I don’t know what else to tell you,” he tried to explain and I could tell he was getting more and more exhausted by the conversation the more I dragged it out and avoided the deep shit situation I put myself in. He was so used to being there for me through thick and thin our whole lives, he was the mature one with all the answers, the one that always tried his best to help out his siblings, especially me. You could tell that whenever we had deep conversations like this, it took a lot out of him. I was a pretty exhausting person, I guess. Most of the time I often forgot that I was the older brother and I was the one who should be taking care of him.

“Before you leave, I do want to apologize,” Niko added, hanging his head in slight shame for a moment before looking back up to me, “I never wanted you to find out about that, but, at the same time, it should’ve never been something that I kept from you. That argument is exactly why I wanted to avoid telling you, but I should’ve told you sooner, anyways.. I don’t like keeping things from you, or anyone, really,” he said with complete sincerity and I smirked.

“..Don’t worry about it.. I mean, it’s not like I’m completely oblivious to what people say about me, I was just surprised to hear that AnneMarie might be one of those people that help keep the rumors alive. And I understand why you couldn’t tell me about it when you and her first brought up introducing me to Riley. I get that she probably didn’t want me to know and you couldn’t tell me when she was around, which is always,” I chuckled softly, “Not saying her being around is a bad thing, but.. It takes away from time we should have together, you know.. To talk about stuff like this.. It’s been a while since we’ve hung out, just the two of us.. And, if you wanted to tell me, you could’ve hit me up sooner and we could’ve just went out for a bit and grabbed a quick beer together,” I pointed out and he smirked back.

“You’re right. It won’t happen again.. I wish you luck, with whatever you decide to do, and be sure to let me know how everything goes and if there’s any way I can help out, if you need it,” he added and I nodded.

“Will do.. Thanks, bro,” I replied, “And, uh.. Sorry about your lawn,” I said as I looked at my horrible parking job from last night when I was trashed.

“I needed to re-grass it anyways,” he brushed off and I chuckled before getting into my car and pulling out of his driveway.


I pulled out my phone as I drove and I noticed I had a text from Pia she sent earlier this morning.

  • Hey, I’m sorry for what I brought up last night. I hope you’re doing okay.

It read and slowly, as I drove and tried to remember everything that we talked about, it all started to come back to me.. How she was only trying to help me understand the feelings I really had for Riley, and also, how much of an asshole I was towards the end of our conversation and how I just walked out on her.. I felt terrible with how I treated her and she deserved an apology. After talking to my brother about everything, it was all a lot more clear. I wished I had realized it sooner and not been such an asshole to her.

  • Hey, Pi.. Don’t worry about it. I’m sorry for flipping out and leaving you high and dry like that. I know you were just trying to help and I appreciate it. I’m okay, too. I’ll see you later.

I texted back, then scrolled through my contacts and found Riley’s name, wondering what I should do.. Should I text her and see if she wants to hang out? ..Was I ready to do that? I wasn’t even sure if I was ready to talk to her about what Niko and I discussed, but, at the same time, the longer I wait on this, the more it was going to eat me up inside and the more she deserved to know. Was tonight the night I was going to tell Riley I loved her? ..And also someone else?


Fuck it.. I might as well take Niko’s advice and man-up and talk to her. Better late than never and it’s better she find out from me than someone else.. Aka, AnneMarie, just in case Niko were to blab to her about anything we talked about. I took out my phone from my pocket again and decided to text her.

  • Hey, wanna hang out tonight?

I sent, tapping my finger impatiently on my knee with my phone tucked under my thigh as I continued to drive. After she didn’t answer within a few seconds, I already started to think the worst. My anxious mind started to run wild and I already assumed AnneMarie had said something and Riley wants nothing to do with me anymore. What if she never texts me back? It’s Alani and I all over again..

But, suddenly, my phone chimed and I scurried to look at what she said.

  • Yeah, I’d love to. I’m almost done at the salon, wanna swing by and pick me up? Maybe go out to eat?

She replied and relief escaped from between my lips in the form of a sigh and I smirked. However, I didn’t want to go anywhere public. I wanted to get this off my chest as soon as possible and I didn’t want to be around people when I told her. I wanted to be alone with her. What if she cried? What if she blows up, calls me a pig and slaps me? Wouldn’t be the first time.. And even if we get passed the first part of my confession, I didn’t want to be in public when I tell her that I love her. I’d definitely like to be alone for that.

  • Yeah, I can come get you. Would you rather just pick something up and go back to your place?

I wondered, hoping she’d be okay with that.

  • No, let’s go out, silly. My treat.

I sighed heavily, “Fuck,” I said softly, trying to think about what I should do. I really didn’t want to go out, but I didn’t want to make it obvious that I wanted, needed, to talk to her about serious stuff.. I was trying my hardest to avoid using the classic line ‘we need to talk’. I didn’t want to give her the wrong idea.

  • All right.. I’ll go home and shower and change and I’ll come by to pick you up.

I replied.

  • I’m almost done with work now, I’ll just take myself home and do the same. Let me know when you’re on your way!

She answered, sending a smiling emoji next and I couldn’t help but smirk. She was so cute, I couldn’t believe the bullshit I was going to unleash on her tonight..



When I got home, I parked my car and noticed that Tavish’s car was in the driveway, but not Pia’s. She must be at work. I went inside and went straight upstairs, hearing music blasting from inside Tav’s room and I doubt he even heard me come home. I decided not to bother him, going straight to the shower and getting last night’s booze smell off of me. I guarantee I reeked. After my shower, I went to my room and picked out some new clothes, trying to look nice for Riley and I’s outing, even though I wasn’t sure what kind of outfit I needed to wear for the type of night we were going to have. I suppose an in between of casual and formal could do the job.



As I put some cologne and deodorant on, I could still hear Tav’s music blasting and he must still not know I was home. It was a good thing, I really didn’t want to talk to anyone else before talking to Riley. I pulled out my phone, texted Riley that I was on my way and headed out of the house. The closer I got to Riley’s, the more my stomach turned and I was starting to feel nauseous, although I couldn’t tell if it was my hangover making me want to vomit or my nerves. 


When I got to Riley’s, I sat in her driveway in my car, starring at her place as I tried to figure out how I was going to go about this. I think I was going to take Niko’s advice and start with how I lied to her about how I felt about Alani, and if she was still able to listen without throwing me out, I’d then tell her, somehow, that I loved her. It would just be too shitty of me if I did it the other way around. Niko was right, I needed to be honest with her, and if she appreciated my honesty, I think I could go forward with telling her how I felt about her. Even though I had figured out what I was going to tell her in which order, I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the ‘how’. I was never good at talking about my feelings, Pia knew that the hard way, but if I wanted this to work out with Riley, which I did, I’d have to find a way.



Riley must’ve heard the loud purr of my engine running and she came outside, watching her lock her door behind her and she was wearing a dress that almost made my heart stop. Fuck, she was so gorgeous.. I almost completely forgot what my plan was to talk to her about. The closer she got to my car, the sound of her clicking heels on the pavement filled my ears and I put on a smile as she opened the door and got in.

“Well, hello, handsome,” she said with an enthusiastic smile, leaning towards me and I quickly leaned in, too, to kiss her lips for a long moment.

“Hey, beautiful,” I replied quietly, reaching gently towards the back of her head and pulling her back into my lips for a longer kiss. I hadn’t realized how much I had missed her in the less than forty-eight hours we’ve been apart. 

“You okay?” She asked after pulling away from the kiss.

“What? Y-Yeah, I’m.. I’m fine,” I brushed off quickly, “So, where did you want to go?”

“Well, I was thinkin’ about somewhere nice.. Like that one place that’s right on the water on Coconut Drive that’s kinda close by AnneMarie and Niko’s house?” She suggested and I couldn’t help but know exactly what she was talking about.

“..Are you talking about my Pops’ place?” I asked and she shrugged.

“Uhm, I.. I dunno, maybe? He owns a restaurant?”

“It’s a restaurant and a bar, I guess, yeah.. But, I’d rather not, actually,” I replied.

“Aw, why not? I swear, I didn’t know, I’ve just always wanted to go there.. But, we don’t have to if you don’t want to,” she said with sincerity and I wasn’t even close to being in the mood to deal with what I wanted to talk to her about, let alone going to my Pops’ place and make a huge deal about meeting my girlfriend. I know he’d go completely overboard and embarrass the hell out of me.

“I really don’t, sorry.. Maybe another time..”

“Okay, well, then.. There’s another nice place by the volcano on Palm Avenue?”

“Sure.. Let’s go there,” I agreed, giving her a quick smirk and pulling out of the driveway.

We got to the restaurant and this wasn’t the usual place I’d be seen at going to, I was more of a mom and pop’s type of guy, or a pub with shitty bar food type. I felt a little uncomfortable here and I also felt under dressed. I could already feel the nasty looks I was getting as we passed tables of people that seemed like they were better than me.

We sat down at our table, a surprisingly secluded corner of the restaurant that made me feel a little better about being here since we were not hidden from dirty glances.

“A waiter will be right with you,” the host said, handing us our menus and walking away and I looked at Riley. She looked so beautiful in the candlelight and when she glanced up at me to give me a gentle smile, I liked how I could make out the flame of the candle flickering in her pupils. The literal fire in her eyes made my heart skip a beat.

“You sure you’re okay, hun?” She wondered and I brought myself out of my trance to give her another quick smirk and I nodded as I then put my eyes down to the menu.


We ordered our food, made idle chit-chat during our meal, and when we had nothing left but our drinks, my heart started to pound a little harder the more I thought I couldn’t hide what I wanted to talk about anymore. I could tell that she could see something was bothering me and I appreciated her not prying to get the information out of me, but the more I sipped on my drink, the more I was being brought back to how drunk I knew I still was when I woke up at Niko’s. I had a little liquid courage flowing through my veins and I thought that, maybe, this was as good of a time as any to start getting this heavy shit off my chest.

“Hey, I, uh.. I need to talk to you about something,” I spoke quietly.

“Oh? What is it?” She asked with a smile, taking a sip of her red wine before setting it back down and giving me her full attention. I secretly hoped that she was a little buzzed so she would be a little more casual and understanding about what I was about to spew.

“Promise you won’t hate me?” I asked and her smile slowly slipped off her lips.

“Is everythin’ okay?” She wondered, now seeing the worry begin to fill her green eyes and my heart was pounding out of my chest.

“..Please, don’t say anything until I’m done talking, okay? I need to say everything I need to before you respond,” I slightly begged and she nodded nervously. 

“The only reason I’m telling you this is because I care about you, I care about you a lot, but.. I lied to you.. Back when we had our first date on the dock, you asked me about my ex and if I still loved her and I said no. I said that because at the time, I wanted to believe it so badly that I’ve been telling everyone for years, even myself, that I didn’t because I didn’t want it to be true anymore. It seems so, so stupid for me to still feel that way because I haven’t seen her in so many years, but the reason why I think I still do is because it never officially ended. We never broke up, she just disappeared and I loved her so much at the time that I continued to so that just in case she’d come back, I’d still hold that torch for her and she wouldn’t feel as if I gave up on her, even though it’s clear to me now that she gave up on me. I know it’s stupid of me to still have feelings for her, but I do, I won’t deny that.. I’m sorry for lying to you.. I think I said that I didn’t love her, too, at the time because I wanted you to like me and I wanted my first official date date after so many years to go smoothly because I didn’t want to fuck it up. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d still even call it love, more so that I still care about her because I still do wonder what happened to her.. But, I shouldn’t have done that to you and I should’ve been honest straight out of the gate.. I’m sorry, Riley,” my eyes slowly went up to her face and she wasn’t looking at me, she was staring at our hands like I had been, but when she went to open her mouth, I stopped her. I reached forward and took one of her hands within my own, knowing she could probably feel it shaking a little, but I needed something to focus on while I talked. 

“Please, I’m not done yet,” I added, seeing her eyes meet mine and I could tell that she was hurt, “Thank you for listening so patiently so far and not walking out yet, because there is still one more thing I really need to say,” I added and she nodded. I squeezed her hand a little tighter and rubbed my thumb over the back of it.

“I know after what I said, this probably isn’t the right time, but, I don’t want to hide anything from you and I want you to know exactly where I stand when it comes to us.. Ever since we’ve been hanging out, spending all this time together, getting closer and everything else, I’ve loved every minute of it. Every second that we spend together is another second less that I think about my ex. I care about you more than I care about her anymore. I don’t want this to sound like I’m making up more lies, either, but, honestly, in the time that I’ve been telling you all of this.. Looking at you, touching you, even just being in your presence, I realize that you make me happier than I ever was with her. I won’t deny that she is still on my mind on very rare occasions, but you are on it so much more and I want to do my best to show you that you’re everything to me now,” I could tell Riley was getting emotional, her eyes getting glossy and her eyebrows curling upward as if she was touched by my words, “I know we haven’t been dating long and I hope you know how hard for me this is to get off my chest after everything I’ve been through, and knowing what you’ve been through, too, I don’t want to be a disappointment to you and I don’t want to hurt you. I want to be completely honest with you from now on and I’ll try my hardest to make myself into a man that you can look at and adore and love as much as I adore and love you,” I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest and I was going to look at it beating on the white table cloth as I looked into her now surprised glossy eyes.

After a long silence and Riley still not saying a word yet, I wondered if I should repeat myself, “I, uhm.. I love you, Riley,” I tried again, seeing her then somewhat snap out of her trance and she let out a nervous breath.

“I-I,” she started, but stopped. I blew it, didn’t I? 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to spring all of this on you out of nowhere..”

“No, no, it’s-”

“-I’m such an idiot,” I pulled my hand away and out of her grip, “I admit something so fucking selfish and terrible and then on top of that, add in something serious and completely uncalled for right after as if I expect you to just forget about the bomb I dropped and I’m just.. Out of my fucking mind,” I started rambling, trying to fill the incredibly awkward silence with literally anything and I felt like such a fool. 

“Luca.. If we’re bein’ honest, I.. I brought yah here to tell yah the same thing,” she replied and I looked up to her with the feeling of relief setting my heart a little.. However, something wasn’t right.

“I feel like there’s a ‘but’ coming..”

“..Listen.. I do, too.. I do love you.. But.. Now that I know you still have feelin’s for that girl, I don’t know if I can trust what you’re sayin’ to me-”

“-I don’t, Riley.. Not anymore.. How else can I prove it to you? I mean, sure, I still wonder about her, but.. She’s nothing to me now, not anymore.. It’s been years, almost eight damn years and I’m fucking stupid for holding on, but ever since I met you, she’s been in my mind less and less and now barely at all.. I don’t love her anymore, I love you,” I continued to press.

“Five minutes ago, you said you still thought you did.”

“And I also said that now that I was explaining myself, it turns out to be less of a ‘love’ and more of a simple curiosity of what happened to her. I promise you, I’m not just saying this just to say it. I don’t love her. What can I do to prove that to you?”

“Luca, how can you come to such a serious conclusion like that in a matter of minutes? I can’t believe that.. If you want to continue to be honest with me, then stop sayin’ things you want me to hear and start sayin’ things you really do feel.. I love you, too, Luca, I really do, and it’s hard for me to admit that, as well, but.. I-,” she paused for a long moment, her eyes going down to the top of the table and avoiding eye contact. Her eyes were starting to tear up a little more. Oh, fuck..

“..I think that, maybe, until you can get your feelin’s straightened out, we shouldn’t see each other anymore.. Just until you can truly only love me,” this was it.. She was breaking up with me. Here I thought that when I talked to Niko, I thought I might have to break up with her for the same reason she was giving me. I thought I was in complete control over our relationship, but now that I proved to her that she can’t trust me like she thought she could, she called the shots before I could do the right thing and break up with her first. I should’ve did it first. Maybe she’d still have some trust in me if I had respected her enough in the first place.

“Luca..?” She seemed concerned and I bit my bottom lip in pure frustration with myself.

“..I get it,” I said quietly, staring down at the table top in shame, but she caught my attention and I looked up to her.

“Hey.. I love you.. I do.. But, you understand why I can’t do this, right?” She asked and eventually, I nodded.

“I’ll give you a ride home,” I replied in a weak tone, but she denied me.

“..I think I should take a cab,” she answered and that was the icing on the cake of how much I realized I fucked up. She didn’t even want me to be in the same car with her.


After paying our bill, I walked her to the side of the road, my hands tucked into my pockets and my eyes glued to the ground as I waited with her for her cab to arrive. Standing there in complete silence with her was both awkward and agonizing. I didn’t know what else I could possibly say to her to make her reconsider. I wanted to say anything else that I could if only I knew what I could say to change her mind, but I also hated the idea of begging and groveling, even though I was deathly close to dropping to my knees and giving it a shot. 


My eyes looked anywhere but at her, although I couldn’t help but look to her feet when I noticed them face me and she stepped closer. Slowly, I felt her hands slide over my shoulders and her arms wrapped around my neck, holding me tightly and the breath that escaped her nose onto my neck gave me chills down my spine. I shut my eyes, pulled my hands out of my pockets and wrapped my arms around her, my hands gripping her tightly and pulling her as close as I could. Thankfully, the silence that was swarming us a moment ago wasn’t agonizing or awkward anymore, it meant something that I couldn’t put into words. I heard her sniffle, no doubt trying to hold back from crying and I hated to admit that I was trying to do the same, too. This was harder than anything else. I thought trying to forget Alani after her disappearing was hard, but actually saying goodbye to someone I loved was so much harder. So, so much harder. I guess that’s how I knew now that I loved Riley more than her, but it was too late now.


As we continued to hug tightly, I heard a car pull up and I assumed it was her cab, but she didn’t let me go. Not yet.

“Thank you for being honest with me,” she cooed sweetly into my neck and I nodded.

“I’m sorry.. For everything,” I whispered back and she then pulled away and looked up to me.

“Don’t forget about me, yah hear?” She said with watery eyes and struggling a sweet smile.

“Never,” I replied sternly, “..I love you,” I said one last time and she kept her smile as she slowly leaned forward and pressed her lips to mine for a long, long moment. I held her tight, trying to keep her with me as long as I possibly could, deepening the kiss by massaging out lips together for an even longer moment and she breathed in harshly towards the end of it, needing air as it seemed that I had taken it all away from her. 

The second we finally let one another go, she quickly turned and walked towards the cab, curling my lips into my mouth and licking them as I watched her get in and shut the door. I sniffed harshly, trying to gather myself as I watched it pull away and I quickly tucked my hands back into my pockets and headed towards my car. In the back of my mind, sure, I knew there was a chance that tonight would turn out this way, but, the majority of me thought that it would’ve turned out a hellova lot better than this. I knew she would be upset, but I didn’t think she’d break up with me. I guess I deserved it, though. I lied to her, kept the truth from her for months, then when I finally gained all of her trust, I threw it out the window. I hated myself. I didn’t deserve her, but I definitely deserved to feel like this much of a piece of shit. I was a child in thinking that nothing bad would happen, and I was foolish to think that she wouldn’t have enough respect for herself to break up with a loser like me for treating her like I did. She made the right choice, she always did. I need to be more like her, more like Niko, more like everyone else in my life that had more than half a fucking brain as me.. Maybe then I wouldn’t be such a cruel joke in human form.

Generation 5, Chapter 7



I was so tired this morning. Last night, Riley and I had sex for the first time, then a couple more times, but only because I was lucky enough to find more condoms in the glove compartment of my car, and we ended up falling asleep around three in the morning. But, man, how tired I felt this morning was worth it. Last night couldn’t have turned out any better. Her bed was so comfortable and I didn’t want to move, even though I woke up about ten minutes ago. I woke up without Riley next to me, but I could hear clattering downstairs in her kitchen and I knew that she was still here, at least. I guess she’s a morning person.


Her sheets and bedding smelled like fresh laundry and a hint of something berry, probably rubbing off onto the fabric from the perfume she wore or the shampoo she used, but the sweet scent is also what made me so reluctant to get out of her bed. Every time I lifted my head and put it back down onto the pillow, the scent would fill my nose again from escaping the pillow. I couldn’t get enough of the smell of it. But, that delicate smell was eventually taken away from me and replaced with the warm, calming aroma of fresh coffee and I figured I should probably get up now. My clothes were still scattered all over her floor and I couldn’t help the coy grin that crept over my lips, the sight of the disorganization forcing me to think about everything that happened last night all over again and I especially enjoyed waking up completely naked.


I sat on the edge of her bed, rubbing my face to help wake myself up a little more and I grabbed my underwear that was under my foot. I stood up and slid them up my legs, looking over the railing and seeing Riley in the kitchen, her back facing me and getting things out of the fridge to perhaps start making some sort of breakfast. She wore a short bathrobe that showed off her amazing legs and I couldn’t wait to get downstairs to check and see if she was naked under it.



I walked through her room and quietly down the stairs, not trying to hide my steps from her, but somehow she didn’t hear them and I propped myself against the ladder that went up to a quiet living area I hadn’t been to yet. I stared at her, watching her bleach blonde hair that was still in a bun bounce whenever she took a step. I stretched out my neck to help get a better look at her legs and when she opened a cabinet to reach up high for coffee cups, I stared at the bottom creases of her ass that I caught glimpses of peaking out from under her robe. God, she was so sexy without even trying to be.


“Jesus!” She said as her whole body shook in a gentle fright when she happened to glance behind her, “You scared the hell outta me,” she added when she noticed me standing there, turning back towards the counter as she got our coffee cups ready.

“Sorry.. Didn’t mean to,” I replied with a coy smile, unable to get rid of it as I walked over towards her and stood behind her.

“How do you take your coffee?” She asked, reaching for sugar and milk and pulling it towards the cups as she waited for my answer. I slid my hands over her hips, pressed the front of myself against the back of her and pulled her close from behind.

“No milk.. Plenty of sugar, though. Make it as sweet as you are,” I flirted.

“Okay, you said you weren’t tryin’ to be cheesy last night, but that line definitely was,” she said with a soft giggle and I kissed the back of her neck as I held her, “And I still don’t know how much sugar that is, exactly,” she implied she needed more direction, but I made her put the sugar down and I turned her around to face me.


Riley looked at me as if she was surprised, but she knew exactly what I wanted. I leaned in more and put my hands on her hips, her expression quickly going softer and I leaned in to press my lips against hers. I kissed her for a long moment, massaging our lips together and I could feel her body weakening under me. I both hated and loved how I couldn’t get enough of her. There was just something about her that drove me crazy and I could barely contain myself around her. After ending the kiss abruptly, needing to explore her more, my lips went straight to her chin and I kissed down to her neck.

“Do you ever turn off?” She asked with a soft giggle after her words and I chuckled into her neck before pulling away.


“Nope. And I never will if you keep looking this damn good,” I replied softly, kissing her skin as my hands found their way to the tie that kept her robe closed to undo it.

“Lucaaa,” she wined softly with a smile on her lips, pulling me away from her neck as she turned around within my arms and continued attempting to make coffee for the two of us, denying me the ability to take her robe off, “I have to be at the salon in an hour to open. I need to make breakfast and shower and get ready to go,” she insisted, pulling the coffee mugs closer and my hands traveled up the front of her body.

“You don’t need to make anything, I’ll grab you something on the way to dropping you off.. And we can always conserve water and shower together?” I suggested as one of my hands ventured up to cup her breast and the other slid down towards her stomach, but I was denied again when she took hold of my hands and removed them from exploring her body.

“No, you’ll just make me late.. Plus, I’m a little sore from last night.. I didn’t know my legs could stretch like that,” she said with another giggle and I laughed softly as I buried my face in the crook of her neck and placed my hands back onto the counter top around her.


“When you say things like that, it only makes me want you again more,” I replied with a slight whine to my tone, kissing her shoulder and her neck.

“Luca, I’m serious,” her words matched her tone and she turned around to face me again, “I need to get to work and you’re only goin’ to make me late. I have an appointment at exactly ten so I need to get there at nine forty five and prep the station I’m workin’ on her at,” she then glanced to the clock and sighed, “And I don’t have an hour anymore.. Now I only have forty five minutes,” she pressed on and I sighed.

“All right, all right.. I’m sorry.. I’ll go get dressed and get out of your hair,” I answered, pulling myself away from her, but she stopped me by grabbing my wrist.

“No, Luca, that’s not what I meant.. You’re not a burden or anything being here. You’re just.. Really distracting,” she said with a sweet smirk as she pulled me back towards her, “I just have work, my own business, that I need to take care of. It’s not good if I’m late to my own clients.. You wouldn’t want to be late to one of yours with your client, right?” She wondered and I couldn’t help but smirk back.

“No, no, you’re right.. I-” I stopped for a moment, my smirk fading off of my lips when I remembered I had an appointment today, too, “Fuck! I totally spaced that I have an appointment today!” I panicked and she giggled as I ran away from her to go back upstairs and grab my clothes.



I nearly tripped running up the stairs and I grabbed my pants, slipping those up my legs quickly without even worrying about the zipper or button, then grabbed my shirt and threw that on, too. I didn’t bother with my blazer, leaving it on the floor by the bed and I grabbed my shoes. I slipped on one, then bounced on one foot towards the stairs as I struggled to put on the other and when I had, I raced down the stairs back to Riley.


I spoke quickly, “Hey, so.. Shit, uhm.. I’m sorry I can’t have coffee or breakfast with you or give you a ride, but-”

“No, no, I get it. Go, go. I’d hate for you to be late on my account,” she encouraged with a smile and a wave of her hand and I nodded. She then looked down and grabbed the rim of my pants and I raised my brow.

“Oh, now you wanna do that?” I teased.

“Oh, hush,” she said with a giggle, “I’m buttonin’ and zippin’ up your pants,” she pointed out and I chuckled, reaching up and putting my hands on her hips.




“All right, well, uh.. Last night was.. Just-” I shook my head in amazement as I remembered it and she shied away her eyes with a blush in her cheeks, “-Amazing.. I had a lot of fun with you and I just really liked the whole day with you.. Dinner, the movie, talking.. The sex.. Multiple times,” I pointed out and I could see how red her face got.

“Oh, my God, Luca, shut uuuup,” she whined, completely embarrassed and I laughed softly at how cute she was.

“Would you wanna do something later? Or maybe tomorrow, or.. Something?” I asked and she nodded without hesitation.

“Yeah, sure. I’ll call you soon and we’ll figure somethin’ out,” she suggested.

“Cool, uhm.. All right, well, I’ll see you later.. Have a good day at work.”

“Yeah, you, too,” she replied and I smiled, leaning in and kissing her for a long, long moment before pulling away and racing for the door to get to my car.

I lied.. I couldn’t figure out why I just lied to her. It seemed like the only option for whatever reason. As much as I enjoyed sleeping over and having a great time with Riley, my first reaction was to get the hell out of there. I couldn’t tell if I was still going in the pattern I have been with other girls or if it was something else. Something deeper that was a new fear of mine entirely. On my drive home, I felt a certain weight being lifted off of my shoulders the further I got from her house, but a new weight was settling in on me that I couldn’t pinpoint what it was exactly. Whatever it was, it settled into the pit of my stomach and sat there until I got home.



After parking my car and heading inside, I pulled out my phone for the first time since yesterday and I had a few texts from Pia that went ignored for good reason, I had been a little preoccupied, but instead of texting her back, I thought I’d check if she was home first. I looked around the kitchen and living room for her before trying her bedroom, knocking on her door after not seeing her in the other rooms and I heard her make some type of noise, indicating I could come in and I opened the door.

“Hey,” I announced, seeing her sitting on her bed and still in her pajamas.

“Heeyyy,” she implied something with her drawn out tone and I smiled, “You didn’t come home last night.”

“Nope. I ended up sleeping over at Riley’s,” I replied, coming in and sitting down on the edge of her bed and she was taken back a moment, trying to process my words.

“Wait, really?! You guys finally-?”

“Yeah.”

“Luca, that’s so awesome! How was it? Tell me everything!”

I chuckled softly at her excited reaction, “Well, we ate dinner and watched a movie, then as I was about to leave, she didn’t want me to go yet. She just.. Took her shirt off and everything quickly escalated from there,” I gave a brief explanation, but of course that wasn’t good enough.

“Oh, come on. I need more details than that and you know it,” she pried, “Can’t you at least tell me if her tits are real? Because those things are out of this world,” she continued and I laughed.

“Really? That’s your first question?” I asked and she nodded excitedly, “Okay.. Well, yeah, they are.”

“I knew it,” she exclaimed, as if proud of herself for guessing correctly, “But, really, though, how was it? I mean, after everything we found out about her, I can’t imagine it was wild and crazy sex,” she assumed.

“Well, you’re right, it was nothing crazy. It was nice.. Really nice, actually.. After the first time, we ended up doing it two more times,” I admitted and she gave an impressed smirk.

“Damn, Luca, your first time together turned into your first three times together.. Is your dick magic or something?” She asked and I laughed again.

“What?”

“I dunno, I’m just saying, I didn’t expect you guys to do it so many times for your first encounter. She doesn’t strike me as a person that would do something like that,” she answered simply with a shrug.

“Maybe it is magic then,” I joked and she chuckled.


“Sorry if this is a little straight forward, but.. You seem less excited than I thought you’d be. And a shitload less braggy,” she pointed out.

“I’m not braggy after I have sex with a girl..”

“Wow.. Yes, yes you are. Even if we’re eating, you spare no details and sometimes I can’t even finish my breakfast with the details you give. But, now, you seem like you don’t want to share too much. I’ve never witnessed you holding back this much.”

“Well, maybe I don’t want to be disrespectful.. She’s my girlfriend, not some random chick you guys are never going to see again.”

“Good point, I guess.. So, you guys made love then?” She assumed and I was completely thrown off by her words.

“W-What?! No-”

“-Was the first position missionary?” She guessed and I didn’t answer her, “So that’s a yes. Did you make a lot of eye contact?” Again, I didn’t answer, “Okay, so, yes.. Anddd were you asking her how she wanted it the whole time? Making her comfortable? Kissing passionately?”

“It wasn’t like that the other two times..” I tried to defend, although, I didn’t know what I was defending.

“Were you in positions for those where you could still see each other’s faces?” Yet again, I didn’t answer because she was right, “See? You made love. What’s the big deal in admitting that?”

“I.. I don’t know, it just.. It sounds so-”

“-Personal? Which is something that you’re not used to? Look, I get that you want to have this persona about you that’s this amazing lay and a player and all that, but you need to start opening yourself up a little more to the possibility that you really like this girl, and that’s okay to say out loud. I’m your best friend, you don’t need to try and fool me by being this guy that doesn’t have a heart. Just because I met you when you had this reputation doesn’t mean you need to keep it up and you can’t change. Change is good, especially for you,” she explained and I was curious as to why she used those words.

“Why especially for me?”

“Well, because.. You know.. You hung onto a girl for years that broke your heart, so you put up this huge barrier just so you wouldn’t be hurt like that again. But, now that you found someone that’s genuine and you really like, it’s okay to bring down that wall a bit and be human again. You should open yourself up a little more now that you have someone again that cares this much about you, and who you obviously care about, too. Sometimes people will go their entire lives without having the privilege of saying they’ve made love with someone instead of just boning. Love is something to be proud of and embrace, not run away from,” she continued and I shook my head.

“Okay, hold up, no one said anything about love,” I tried to stop her from delving deeper into this.

“Yeah, but.. It’s kinda obvious,” she said with another shrug.

“What is?”

“That you, you know.. Might love this girl,” she guessed and I sighed.

“Just because our first time was passionate doesn’t mean it was love making, and just because that it happened that way doesn’t mean I love her.”

“All right, true, but.. Once you fall, you fall hard, Luca. I know you. When I see you acting this way, it’s very out of the ordinary because the last time I saw you like this, you were in love and happy with-”

“Don’t..” I stopped her from saying my ex’s name.

“Sorry.. But, can’t you see why I think this? Can’t you see it, too?” She asked, her expression serious with a hint of happiness in her eyes and I didn’t know what to say.

“Look, I get it.. You don’t have to admit it and I know damn well you don’t want to, because you probably feel like once you do, everything’s going to turn to shit like it did last time. But, you gotta learn to open yourself up again and have the potential of finding love again. I don’t know if you guys might break up eventually or one day get married and have seven babies, but, you also gotta learn to let go of the past and not let it hold you back from being happy. It’s torturous to play with your own emotions like that and you’re going to drive yourself crazy if you do,” she explained more and I knew she was right. I was already starting to feel the repercussions of denying how much I liked Riley. I left her house this morning because I lied about needing to be somewhere.. Did I do that just to run away from how much fun I had with her and how much I liked being with her? ..From how much I might love her?


“You’re not wrong,” I admitted quietly.

“I know,” she said with a proud smile and I chuckled softly.

“And.. Maybe you’re right, too, about me not wanting to admit it. Like, if I say it out loud, the universe is going to rub it’s hands together and figure out a plan to fuck it all up..”

“Do you want it to?” She asked and shook my head.

“No.. But, I shouldn’t hide from it, either.. I.. I like her. I like her a lot, and.. I think we did make love,” I admitted and I felt that undistinguished weight from before starting to lift from my shoulders.

“See? How did that feel saying it out loud?”

“A little intimidating, but.. Good,” I said softly, my lips beginning to curl into a slight smile, but once Pia noticed my tone, I regretted it immediately.

“Awwww, Luca’s in looooove!” She teased.

“Pia, shut up, I am not,” I continued to defend.

“Then why haven’t you been looking at me?” She teased more, but I was getting nervous by the fact that I actually might be.  Maybe that’s why I practically ran away from Riley this morning.


“Listen, Luca, all’s I’m saying is that I think you need this,” Pia explained, “I mean.. You obviously have strong feelings for her.. So..? Why is that so scary to admit? You know I won’t judge you.. You don’t always need to be this guy that gets every damn woman that lays eyes on you.. You can be taken, and you can be loved.. Why do you have the look of horror on your face whenever you think about the fact that you might love her back..?” She questioned, but I didn’t answer as I dropped my gaze to the floor.

“And, hey.. Forgive me if this is too far, but,” she hesitated for a moment, “Just because someone likes you as much as Alani did, doesn’t mean it’s going to end in tragedy.. When you put yourself in a position that you, yourself, sets you up for disaster, it is going to end in disaster, if you keep up that mind-set.. Let yourself open up again.. You’re still going to be the amazing heart-breaker that we all know you as, but.. Who says that that’s your mold? You do.. So, just change that.. Love her.. Give it a chance.. Alani is nothing but the past.. Riley is something new and great and exciting and you obviously like her enough to love her eventually, if you don’t already, so, just.. Do that. It’s okay to,” Pia ended and a part of me felt ashamed, feeling as if I’ve held myself back this entire time from giving Riley all that I was because, yeah, I think I was still hung up on Alani and what she did to me and I’d never admit that out loud, but.. She was right.. That was years ago.. That was in the past and Riley was my now. She’s my new rock and I shouldn’t hold back from that.. But.. Pia even as simply bringing up Alani still provoked my old feelings for her.. She, and now Riley, too, had the strong capability of clouding my mind and my judgement. 

“Maybe.. Maybe you’re right.. I do love..” It was still hard for me to say, “I do.. Love.. Riley.. Or, at least I think I do.. I just.. I.. It’s still hard for me to say in a complete sentence without stammering a bit,” I admitted more.

“And that’s not a problem,” Pia chimed in, “You can be unsure about something, but you can also say it out loud, at the same time, to test out how you actually do feel about it.. How does it feel, saying that you love her?” She inquired. It made me nervous, but.. 

“I.. I guess that, yeah.. I do love her.. But.. Is it bad of me to say that I don’t love her as much as I once loved Alani?” I was desperately seeking advice now.. Things just got serious. Two minutes ago, I couldn’t care what she thought, but ever since her words stopped being playful, all of this came crashing down on me and I didn’t know what was right and wrong, but, still.. I still needed guidance for my own feelings.. I couldn’t do this on my own.

“..I, well.. To me, no one is ever going to compare to your first love, or your first time, or all that nonsense bullshit.. But, Luca.. You were lucky enough to have love right off the bat.. Well, at least you thought it was love-”

“-It was,” I cut her off, seriously, and she took another moment to gather her next words.

“..Well, even Tav and I have been through that, too.. Not our own, in this instance, but yours.. And, please don’t take that personally-”

“-No, no.. I understand.. Just say what you want to,” this was open grounds now.. Grounds that I hardly ever opened, and she knew that, so she knew her next words were going to be dissected by me and not just thrown out as rubbish.

“No judge?” Pia made sure I was okay with it again, and I nodded, “Okay, well.. We all came into Freshman year together new, even Alani, and we’ve always been your friends.. We’ve always been there for you, but.. I don’t mean to speak ill about your first fling, or.. Love.. Whatever it was, but.. I mean, come on, Luca.. You only dated for a year..? Sure, she was your first, but.. Everyone has that experience, right? We all have a first, but, it ends, you know..? And, I’m sorry if this is harsh, but.. It does end..” She shrugged helplessly, “I’m not speaking ill of her on purpose, but.. She left.. Out of nowhere.. It’s been seven, almost eight years now, Luca.. What are you holding onto? What do you want me to say that I haven’t said already when she left?” Pia asked, and she had a good point that I couldn’t deny.. Alani has been gone for so long and has never made contact with me since then that made we realize we were nothing anymore, so what was I holding onto?

“What I mean, is.. What are you so scared of? Riley is here for you now.. She’s here for you.. She likes you, a lot, and even though you’ve said to me that you love her, you’re worried as if she’s already heard it through the grapevine and she’s going to suddenly stop liking you back or just leave because you’ve admitted it out loud.. That’s my point.. You’re afraid to admit to it anyone else because you think that it’s going to become an ‘Alani’ situation all over again.. But, Luca, you already told her about Alani at the dock, you told Tav and I that she was fine with it.. Riley is your new Alani.. Embrace it.. You love her and, honestly, I think that she’s loved you before you even said you loved her today, so.. Tell her,” she said with a shrug, making it as simple as she could, and it was just that simple, it really was, but my mind couldn’t grip the complexity.. I just couldn’t. 

“I.. I get where you’re coming from, but.. I just.. I don’t know how to describe it.. I get that everyone has their ‘first’ for everything, but.. What I can’t get over is that there was never a true end to it.. I never got broken up with, I never broke up with her.. It’s almost as if we’re still together, been together, this whole time, because there was no end.. No end at all.. So, even though it might sound weird, it seems as if I’m cheating on her.. Because nothing ever ended.. Even after all this time.. I never knew for sure if I should move on, or if I should wait.. So, selfishly, I waited.. That’s why I haven’t been with anyone as serious as I was with her.. There’s still a small part of me that wishes one day she’ll show up at the damn doorstep,” I admitted something that I wished I hadn’t.. Fuck.. How selfish do I sound now? After admitting I loved Riley, now I’m pretty much admitting I’d dump her if Alani showed up.. Fuck, what is wrong with me?


There was a long silence in the room after my words, Pia appearing to be a little uncomfortable, but she didn’t back out from the conversation.

“Wow, that’s..” Pia started, but stopped.. I guess she didn’t have anything sassy or witty to say anymore, “She still has quite the pull on you.”

“What gave that away?” I asked sarcastically as I folded my arms and stood from her bed, stepping towards one of the windows to look out into the day. The room fell completely silent now that you could hear a pin drop. And, within that silence of the room, I started to get angry and I couldn’t hide it. I got furious.

“You know,” I began again, “I was on such a fucking high today. I felt like I could do fucking anything because I finally had everything again. I thought that maybe, just maybe, admitting something as serious as loving someone other than Alani, I’d be able to finally forget about her, and here you go bringing her up, and then getting onto whatever the fuck conversation this fucking turned into.”

“Luca-” Pia tried to interrupt, but I didn’t let her.

“-No,” I turned to face her, “I’m sure that I’ve said way more than I wanted to already, but I’m on a roll now, so why the hell not keep going? You wanna know what I think about every day? Alani. Sure, lately I’ve been thinking of Riley a lot more, but that still doesn’t mean that I don’t think of Alani.. Every day, even for just one second, I think of her. I can’t help it. I don’t know why, I don’t know how to get it to stop, but talks like this sure as hell don’t fucking help. It’s hard enough for that one split second where I think of her and luckily I’m able to stop a second later, but to actually have a conversation like this about her that lasts for longer than that one second I allow myself to think of it, fucking sucks. It’s like burning myself on a hot pan I just took off the stove, but then going back and holding my hand there, knowing full well that I’m going to get fucking hurt by it again. But, I do it anyways, like I am now. And why? Because, yeah, I do still love her. I can’t deny that. I lied to Riley, I lied to my family, I lied to you and Tav when I said that I didn’t anymore. All of those thousands upon fucking thousands of times I’ve said I didn’t anymore, I was lying. I’ve been lying for seven years. And you know why? Because I was trying to convince myself that I didn’t anymore. I needed to do that for myself. But, low and behold, she gets brought up into this conversation that was supposed to be about Riley, and now it’s just not going to stop. Now, I feel as if she left me all over again just yesterday. But, I have you to thank for that. Thank you so, so much for fucking bringing her up again. Really, this talk has been such a big fucking help. I thought I had a good thing with Riley, I thought I maybe, just maybe, had the chance to fully get over Alani if I continued on with Riley, but no. Now it’s worse than ever and I’m right back to where I was seven years ago the day she disappeared,” I ended my rant and went towards her door.

“Luca, wait!” Pia called out, and I stopped before walking out her door, looking back and seeing her standing from her bed.

“I’m.. I’m sorry, okay? I had no idea.. Where are you going?” She wondered.

“..Out for a drink.”

“We have plenty of stuff to drink here.. Just stay here and we’ll talk abo-”

“I need a drink alone,” I added, seeing her expression drop and you could see the guilt in her eyes from miles away. When she didn’t speak again, I continued out of the house and pulled the keys out of my pocket, my hands shaking as I felt every emotion there was known to man and I could barely unlock my car door. When I finally regained enough composure to hold my hand mildly steady, I unlocked it, buckled myself into the drivers seat, felt my car engine roar when I started the ignition and I pealed out of the driveway.

Memory Lane Challenge

Thanks so much to blamsart for nominating me to do this! This seems really fun! (btw, sorry it took so long to get this done T_T )

Rules:

Congratulations! You’ve been nominated for a totally legit award.
1. Get a gold star and stick it on your forehead like a boss.

2. Share FIVE of your favourite moments from your legacy/challenge/story so far.
3. Nominate 3-5 blogs to do the same.

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BTW.. IF YOU’RE STILL CATCHING UP, THIS UPDATE HAS SPOILERS!!!!

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Memory One: Generation 1, Chapter 13

When Marrick kills Archer.

Marrick killing Archer was a huge thing showing that Marrick was losing his mind. The first HUGE implication, at least, despite the writing subtly hinting at it. The fact that he was able to kill his one, true companion, before he met Sadie, meant that it was a huge hint that he was starting to lose his mind, and couldn’t separate the truth from his own thoughts in his head.

Memory Two: Generation 2, Chapter 15

Faline’s POV.

I felt like this chapter meant a LOT to the readers. Faline was innocent, for the most part, and this is the first time I showed her being vulnerable to Jason, and the readers seeing Jason and how he acts from an outside point of view. I think this chapter is important, also, because it lets the readers see something else in Jason. Every chapter I do, I do from the heirs POV, so, when there’s been nothing but Jason chapters, there’s sympathy, but from Faline’s POV, there’s empathy. It’s a very important chapter. Not the most memorable, but, in my mind, it does mean a lot to Jason’s story, still. Faline played a huge part in Jason’s “turning”.

Memory Three: Generation 3, Chapter 16

When Gareth made his “official” move on Hannah.

The second that Gareth thought that he had been abandoned, like both him and Gibson felt when Jason went AWOL, Gibson went a different direction with it, while Gareth took it more personally. He was jealous that Gibson was able to move on, so he felt the need to remind Gibson every day of his life, since they were kids, that their lives were never meant to be normal. The time when Gibson showed signs of that, found of potential wife and (later) had kids, Gareth tried to ruin it from the very start. After Oliver was born, Gareth felt him slipping away even futher from (his) reality, Gibson still ignoring Gareth, and that’s when he made his final move to take everything away from his brother like their father had did for them. Remind him, in a way, that they can never have the “normal” life they always wanted. He made every conscious effort to show him that, even if it came to betraying him.

Memory Four: Generation 4, Chapter 13

When Isaiah got Ambushed

Oliver has been lying to Isaiah for so, SO long, that even by this chapter, he still had never told him the truth. Isaiah has been in the dark with Oliver from the very start. Gibson, showing up to defend the man that he found worthy of loving his son, was a HUGE chapter that I’m sure everyone can remember. Most thought it was Gareth, at first, and with good reason, since Gareth is the “natural” one to come for those who need.. “Exterminating”.. But, however, Gibson showed up, and he protected his son, by protecting what his son loved most. Gibson had been watching Oliver for a while, keeping an eye on him, just in case Oliver would ever get into trouble that Oliver couldn’t handle, which proved to be so, since Oliver would never be capable of killing another human being (which we later on learn is not true). We have this thought of him being a perfect, innocent soul, and so many people helping him “try” to achieve a normal life, but Gibson coming into the picture did help.

Memory Five: Generation 4, Chapter 20, Finale Part 1 of 2

Oliver Gets an Unsuspected Surprise

When Oliver gets stabbed in the first part of a two part Finale, everyone went crazy! LOL It was unexpected and that’s what I love about story telling. I honestly think that Oliver’s generation was the most impacting of a generation that I’ve ever written yet, and I’m so proud of it. Maybe that’s why I feel like I can’t do better than this, so that’s why Generation Five is so, so hard for me to write, but.. I honestly believe that this was, by far, my best end to a generation I’ve done so far and I’m so, so happy and proud of it. Everyone didn’t expect Jody’s Father to come back eventually, so that’s awesome, but.. Maybe this is just my subconscious talking or not, but.. I think I ended that generation perfectly. 

Again, which is why I find it so hard to continue Gen 5.. It’s taken me this long to update chapters on a “regular” basis like I used to, so, maybe me taking this long to update it again is why I feel this way, too. I don’t know where to go. I’m almost convinced that Generation 4 was my, by far, greatest accomplishment. 

Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like updating Generation Five as much as I used to update my other generations.. I feel like I’ve met my match. I feel like I’ve met my “writing capacity” match when it comes to this legacy, but.. There’s still part of me that wants to continue it so, so badly, but, yet, it’s still a very SMALL part of me.. 

All of you that are continuing to read and don’t un-subscribe from the email updates of my legacy, thank you, so, so, so, so much.. I love each and every one of you. However, honestly, I’m struggling to get pics and continue even writing this story for Luca. (life and what-not aint what it used to be when I was posting sooooo much).

I don’t want to give up on this story, or myself, either, so, please, if you’re subscribed to this, please stay subscribed, but, I honestly don’t know when there will be another update.. I just wanted to add that.

I love you all, truly. The lurkers, the readers, the commenters, my friends, my everything.. You know who you are. I might be taking a break, until I can find my love for this story again. Believe me, the next chapter, as well as the next, is completely written.. The next chapter? Half done with pics! So, there’s still hope. Don’t unfollow. It’s still a thing, I just.. Don’t know when I’ll be able to complete the chapter. Or the next, for that matter. I’m just at a hard time in my life right now where I can’t update as often, aka life stuff, so.. Anyways.. Life stuff.. But please, have faith in me to continue this story like I do for myself, eventually. I haven’t given up yet on this, and I hope my readers haven’t either. I hope to get my inspiration back for this story, which I will, but I don’t know when. That’s all. 

I love you all to death <33

Generation 5, Chapter 6

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“So you two haven’t done nothin’ yet?” AnneMarie asked me, watchin’ her look at herself in a gorgeous wedding gown and she saw me shake my head in the mirror.

“No.. I just don’t know if I’m ready yet, you know?” I said with a shrug.

“Yeah, but why? Jeff was a huge jerk, obviously, but Luca’s sweet. I’ve known him for a long, long time, I’ve known that whole family for a long time, and I can tell you that Luca’s someone you can definitely invest yourself in because he can do the same if you show him you’re serious.. I wouldn’t have introduced the two a’ya if I didn’t know that for sure,” she said with an ‘I told you so’ smile and I smirked.

“Yeah, I know, it’s just hard to get to that place.. He’s tried a couple’a times, but I got scared and made myself look like a idiot. He probably thinks I’m a virgin with how I’ve reacted, the poor thing,” I added and AnneMarie laughed softly.

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“Well, you did get scared and with good reason, but you need to detach Jeff from yourself, and especially from Luca.. Luca is the farthest thing from him, so you gotta give him a chance, otherwise he is goin’ to think you’re a virgin and that boy will end up breakin’ up with you before he waits for you to be ready. He’s been around too much to not know when somethin’ ain’t workin’,” she added, but that still made me a bit worried, “I’m sorry.. That came out wrong.. That ain’t what I meant, exactly..”

“It’s all right, I get it.. What he’s done in the past with other people ain’t none of my business and I wouldn’t want to know, either, but.. You don’t think he, you know.. Has anythin’, right?” I asked and she laughed.

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“Oh, honey, no. He’s smart when it comes to stuff like that. He’s just an outgoin’ guy that likes to have fun and there ain’t no problem with that, my point is just that he’s used to doin’ those things pretty early on and if you make that poor boy wait too long, he’ll end up not bein’ there when you finally wanna because he’ll think you’re not into him.. I’m not sayin’ he’s only datin’ you for sex, ’cause I know he ain’t, but if you don’t show him that you wanna do stuff like that, I don’t think he’ll take you seriously.. It’ll just seem like you guys are friends and nothin’ else because what if he thinks you ain’t attracted to him?” She asked rhetorically and I sighed softly, knowin’ she was right, “And, well.. If it’s any consolation, I heard he’s pretty dang good,” she replied and I gave her a surprised face.

“AnneMarie!” I scolded with a smile and she giggled.

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“What? You think after livin’ out here for this long that I haven’t heard rumors about that boy? Plus, I am marryin’ his brother, you know. I know a lot more about Luca than I’d care to,” she pointed out.

“So, you’d tell me if you ever heard anythin’ serious about him, right? Even from Niko?”

“Even if Nikolai asked me not to.. If it was somethin’ I felt you deserved to know, then yes, in a heartbeat, sweetie,” she replied and that made me feel a little better, because so far, she hasn’t told me anythin’ bad about him, “How does this one look?” She asked, doing a cute pose and I looked at her from her neck all the way to her feet.

“You look gorgeous in everythin’ you put on and you know it, too, so I don’t know why you keep askin’ me,” I complimented and she smiled in a way where she knew I’d say that.

“I’m gunna go try somethin’ else on.. I think I have one left to look at,” she added and I nodded, watching her walk off to get another dress and I waited by the mirrors until she was ready.

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AnneMarie was right, I really did need to detach myself from Jeff and get it out of my head that Luca is or would be anythin’ like him.. He’s never given me a reason to think that so far, anyways, besides that one time at the dock, but there’s no way he could’ve known that I’d freak out like I did, so it wasn’t his fault.. I was still embarrassed about that, even though I didn’t let it show.. I just felt like such a ditz with how I reacted and I hated that I made him feel so bad about it. I definitely overreacted. All he wants to do is be intimate with me and he has no idea why I can’t yet. The poor thing probably thinks he’s the reason why and that couldn’t be anymore further from the truth..

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We’ve been seein’ one another for about three months now and ever since the situation at the dock, he’s barely touched me. We still kiss a lot, he likes holdin’ me and I like holdin’ him, but he’s completely stopped makin’ moves on me. In a way, I appreciated it, but at the same time, I didn’t want him to treat me he had to walk on thin ice around me.. It’s my fault that he does that already, but I couldn’t help but think that AnneMarie might be right.. I don’t want to wait so long to the point where when I finally am ready, he won’t be there anymore. I wanted him to be the first one that I’d be intimate with after everythin’ that happened because I trusted him, but trustin’ him as much as I do so soon into our relationship also scared me.

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“What about this one?” I heard AnneMarie ask and she snapped me out of my thoughts, watchin’ her walk up to the mirrors and I was completely floored.

“Throw out everything else, that’s the one,” I said without even a second thought.

“Really?” She asked excitedly and I nodded, then hearing her gasp when she finally saw herself in the mirror.

“Oh, my goodness.. Yes, yes, I love it! Riley, it’s so perfect!” She said happily, unable to wipe the smile off her face.

“It is! How much is it?” I asked, but when she looked at the tag, the price was the one thing that could take that smile right off her lips.

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“Too much,” she said sadly, “It’s eighteen thousand,” she whispered to me and I gasped softly.

“Holy hell.. How much are your parents pitchin’ in?” I asked.

“Only fifteen, so where the heck am I gunna find three more?” She seemed desperate, looking at the dress longingly in the mirror.

“Well, what about you and Niko?”

“We spent most of our money on everythin’ else.. The venue, the decorations, the reception’s food and music, the cake and the flowers,” she listed off a lot of important things and I could hear the despair in her voice, “It just figures that when I find the perfect dress, I can’t get it,” she continued and I hated seein’ my best friend so torn up. 

“I could help you, if you want,” I offered and she looked to me as if I were crazy, but I wasn’t. I had a good amount of money saved up from openin’ my salon a couple months ago and business has been good to me, so I had the extra money she needed.

“Are you kiddin’? I made my girls buy their own dresses for the weddin’ because I knew we couldn’t afford it. I can’t have you buy your own dress and pay for some of mine, too. That just ain’t right,” she replied and I knew I didn’t have to help her, but I wanted to. 

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“AnneMarie, is this the dress you want Nikolai to see you in?” I asked and she pouted a little.

“Well, yeah.. But-”

“Nuh-uh. If this is the one, then this is the one. I don’t care if you don’t want me to help, I’m goin’ to. Just take it as a gift,” I encouraged and she gave me a look as if she was touched beyond belief.

“This is why you’re my best friend, you make me so happy.. Thank you, Riley,” AnneMarie said with a warm smile and I blew her a quick kiss, watching as she turned back around to face the mirror and I watched her glowing as she looked at herself. She looked completely stunning and so happy, which made me happy for her, but even though this was our day together, I couldn’t stop thinkin’ about Luca.

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“Oh my Lord, would you just go call him already?” AnneMarie snapped me out of my thoughts again and I looked to her through the mirror.

“Call who?” I played dumb.

“Lover boy,” she teased and I laughed softly.

“I wasn’t even thinkin’ about him,” I lied, but AnneMarie could always tell.

“You are such a liar, Riley Reese. Just go call him while I go and get this dress off,” she insisted and I smiled, nodding to her words and she might have well of skipped away from how happy I could tell she was.

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I stepped outside and pulled out my phone from my pocket, going through my contacts until I came across Luca’s name and I hesitated before I called him. What am I even goin’ to say? What’s my reason for callin’ him? Well, I guess I actually didn’t really need a reason, seein’ as he was my boyfriend and even just hearin’ his voice would make me happy, but.. Oh, what the hell.. When I finally convinced myself to just suck it up and call, I finally pressed send and put the phone to my ear.

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“Hey, I was just about to call you,” he answered after only a couple rings and my heart was already flutterin’.

“Oh, really?”

“Yeah.. Why’d you call, though?” He sounded intrigued and just by his tone, I could tell he was smilin’.

“Well, uhm, I’m just out with AnneMarie.. She’s tryin’ to pick out a weddin’ dress and I’m helpin’ her. She’s changin’ out of a dress, so I thought I’d just call to see what you were up to,” I replied.

“Oh, sweet. Did she find anything?” He wondered, knowin’ he probably didn’t care, but it was nice of him to ask.

“Yeah, she did.”

“And what’s the damage?”

“..Eighteen,” I whispered, not knowin’ if AnneMarie would want me to be spreadin’ around the price of her dress or not, but just to be sure, I tried to be quiet.

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“Eighteen hundred? That’s not that bad,” he asked and I genuinely laughed at his lack of knowledge about weddin’ dresses, “What?”

“No, sweetheart, eighteen thousand,” I corrected.

“Holy fuck?!” He reacted like I thought he would and I laughed again.

“Yeah.. Weddin’ dresses ain’t cheap, hun. At least the good ones aren’t.”

“Wow.. I had no idea. I’m glad she found something, though. I bet she looks great in it. Niko should be happy,” he answered and I smiled.

“Yeah, she looks amazin’,” I replied, hesitatin’ a moment before continuin’ the conversation, “So, what were you goin’ to call me for?” I wondered.

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“I was actually going to see if you wanted to meet up with me tonight.. The thing is, though, I wanted to make you dinner and I can’t do it at my place. Tavish and Pia are having some people over, but I’m not really in the mood for that, so I thought I’d see what you were up to,” he wondered and I smirked softly.

“So you’re invitin’ yourself over, huh?” I teased and he chuckled.

“Yeah, I guess I am.. If that’s all right with you?”

“You know how to cook?”

“Well, no, but I thought I’d give it a try..”

“Aw, aren’t you sweet,” I replied as I smiled warmly, “Yeah, I’d love it if you came over,” I agreed.

“Really? Awesome.. Is eight all right with you?” He asked and I nodded even though he couldn’t see it.

“Yeah, that’s fine.”

“Okay, I’ll be over around eight then,” he answered and when we said our goodbye’s, I couldn’t keep the smile off my lips as I hung up.

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After paying for AnneMarie’s dress and leavin’ it at the store for safe keeping, we cut through a park on our way to a coffee shop just down the street.

“So, wha’d you two talk about?” She wondered, knowin’ I wouldn’t want to talk about it until after we got out of the bridal store.

“He invited himself over tonight,” I started and AnneMarie giggled.

“Sounds like somethin’ he’d do.. What for?”

“He wants to make me dinner,” I said somewhat proudly, as if I had any reason to show off and AnneMarie gave me a surprised look.

“Really? Now that doesn’t seem like somethin’ he’d do.. It’s pretty sweet, though. What else are you guys gunna do?” She implied a little.

“I dunno. Probably nothin’.. Watch a movie maybe,” I brushed off.

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“He’s makin’ you dinner and you’re not even goin’ to let him up your shirt?”

“AnneMarie,” I scolded again like I had before and she giggled, “You gettin’ married soon sure has changed your outlook on intimacy. I’m startin’ to think you might be some kinda tramp underneath it all,” I teased and she scoffed.

“You watch your mouth, Riley Reese. I’m no tramp, I’m just gettin’ a little impatient and excited. Niko and I have done everythin’ else except for sex, but if everythin’ else feels half as good as sex will, then I’m excited to experience it, that’s all, especially if he’s the one I get to experience that with,” she reasoned and her words made me think of Luca and I..

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AnneMarie made we wonder if Luca was feelin’ the exact same way towards me, too.. We’re not gettin’ married or anythin’, but likin’ him as much as I already do made me think about how it would feel with him. He’s been patient with me, he’s respected my boundaries.. Ever since I told him I wasn’t ready, he hasn’t made me uncomfortable ever again and still, he wanted to be around me even when he was fully aware that nothin’ like that would happen until I was ready.. With Jeff, even if I didn’t want to, I’d do it anyways so he wouldn’t hurt me.. There were never any times where I’d say ‘no’ and he’d force himself on me, because I knew sayin’ no would never result in anythin’ good for me.. But, every time I’ve said no to Luca, he’s stopped. 

That really resonated with me.

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“What are you thinkin’ about?” AnneMarie caught my attention as we continued to walk.

“Luca,” I replied softly.

“You are head over heels for that boy, aren’t you?” She said with a coy smile and I smiled nervously.

“I dunno.. I just know that I like him a lot and I wanna have sex, but-”

“But, what? If you want to, then do it. You already know that he’s not anythin’ like Jeff, so what’s holdin’ you back exactly?” She wondered and I couldn’t even give her an answer.

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“I.. Don’t really know..”

“Then do it. What are you afraid of? He’s already proven that he’s gunna be there for you. You two are boyfriend and girlfriend now, after all, and that’s very surprisin’ considerin’ his past relationship, so you should feel good that he’s chosen you to get back on the horse with and vice versa.. That really says somethin’ about him,” she pointed out.

“I guess you’re right.. But that’s another thing, I know about his past, but I’ve been scared to tell him about mine because I don’t want to him to treat me any differently.. I think he has a right to know that before we make anythin’ more serious,” I added and she looked at me.

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“..You still haven’t told him about it?” She seemed surprised with me and I shook my head ‘no’ to confirm it, “Well, I really think you should.. From what you’ve told me about the times when he’s tried to touch you, it sounded like you scared the heck outta him, so if anythin’, he’s already treatin’ you differently because he hasn’t tried anythin’ since.. He probably already knows that there’s somethin’ you ain’t tellin’ him, too, but he doesn’t wanna ask. You should tell him when he comes over tonight.. Find out what his reaction is,” she offered and I sighed softly, knowin’ AnneMarie was right, but it was goin’ to be a hard subject to bring up.

“What if he reacts badly? What if he doesn’t want someone that’s been through what I’ve been through..? What if he thinks I’m damaged and doesn’t want to deal with it?” I asked and AnneMarie stopped me from walkin’ any further.

“Oh, goodness, you ain’t damaged goods, sweetie, you’re just someone who’s been hurt, but, you know what? He’s been hurt, too. You were strong enough to get out of that situation yourself, you even went to a clinic to ensure that you had absolutely no ties with that devil of a man, and you got out alive. Luca, he’s had his heart broken and he’s been abandoned. I highly doubt he’ll have a problem with your past because he’s had a rough one, too. If anythin’, I think he’ll sympathize,” she advised and I had no reason not to believe her.

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“I suppose you’re right..”

“Tell him.. And then, heck, after you guys are done talkin’ and you get passed all of that, you can break in that bed of yours properly,” she teased and I smiled as I laughed.

“AnneMarie!” I scolded, “You are like a dog in heat, I swear it,” I teased back and she giggled innocently as we continued on to the coffee shop.

______________________________________

Luca’s POV

______________________________________

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Riley and I have been dating for about three months now and ever since I found out what happened to her back in Alabama, I haven’t been trying nearly as hard to get into her pants. Actually, I haven’t been trying at all. I made a promise to myself to treat her better, I followed my dads advice in enjoying her for who she was, and I even started doing more romantic things with her to avoid the feeling of only being friends that made out on occasion, according to Tav’s words. I’ve been taking her out on more sentimental dates instead of casual hangouts, I’ve been showing her more intimate affection rather than lustful attention, and I’ve been treating her a lot like an actual girlfriend. It was still a little difficult to get used to, but I was trying, and I think it showed. I was making progress, that was for sure, and I was even a little proud of myself.

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Tonight, I offered to make her dinner, even though I’m not the best cook, but I looked up a recipe, at least.. I’ve been trying to ignore her past, but tonight, I was hoping to talk to her a little more about it, if I could get her to.. She’s been avoiding telling me about it and with good reason, but the more I talked to her and looked at her, the more I thought about it. I wanted her to get it off her chest, I wanted it to not be something she felt the need to hide from me and I wanted her to feel comfortable enough to finally tell me about it. I felt as if her past was holding her back from us moving forward as a legitimate couple.

Plus, I wanted her to tell me about it so I could stop pretending that I didn’t know all of it already..

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It was still a little difficult to forget what I saw from the police report.. Whenever I looked at her, I couldn’t help but sometimes think about the pictures I saw.. Her red hair all frazzled, her black eye, her bruised face, her bloody lip.. Every time that image popped into my head, it made me angry.. It used to make me pity her, it used to make me look at her with remorse, even though none of it was my fault, but now.. Now all I feel is anger well up inside of me at the thought of the man that did that to her. 

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“Is everythin’ okay?” She wondered, sitting on top of the island counter in the middle of her kitchen as I stood at the stove.

“Yeah, why do you ask?” I played off as if it was nothing, but maybe my actions and my expressions were more obvious than I thought they were.

“I dunno.. You just seem a little different tonight. You haven’t even flirted with me once since you’ve gotten here and that’s not like you,” she said with a worried chuckle and I honestly hadn’t even noticed. I had seen her plenty of times after knowing what she had went through, but for some reason, tonight I just couldn’t get the image of it out of my head and it took over most of my train of thought. 

“I’m sorry, I’m just, uh.. A little distracted, I guess,” I replied.

“What’s distractin’ you?” She asked with concern in her brow and I looked to her with a smirk on my lips.

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“You,” I answered and she smirked right back, instantly getting rid of the concern in her eyes.

“Oh? What about me?” She seemed intrigued.

“Well, I don’t want to sound cheesy or anything, but.. I just want to get to know you better,” I said with a shrug, glancing down at the tile floor.

“That’s not cheesy.. That’s sweet,” she replied and my gaze was brought up from the floor to meet her eyes again.

“Yeah?” I asked and she smiled with a nod of her head.

“Yeah.. I’ve been kinda feelin’ the same way. I wanna know you better, too,” she explained and I could kick myself for not bringing this up sooner. It seemed like we were always on the same page, but both of us were reluctant to make it known. It was like we both wanted the other to say these types of things, but neither of us wanted to be the first one to do it.

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“So? What do you wanna know?” She asked, moving around her legs as they dangled off the counter, as if they were a dogs tail wagging from excitement. I wanted to be as subtle as I could, I wanted her to talk about her past when she was ready to, but.. I felt as if we’d never get past the unsaid elephant in the room and we couldn’t move our relationship forward until it was out in the open.. I told her about my past, but why was it so hard for her to tell me about hers..?

“Well.. What made you move here? Like.. Are there better clients out here? Were you tired of the Alabama scene? ..Wanted to get away from someone?” I listed off a few examples, but of course, even for how simply I said the last example, the smile left her lips and my heart started to race a little with nerves.

“Why would you ask that?”

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“U-Uh.. They’re just examples, babe. I can understand coming out here for a better fashion scene or whatever, I can understand wanting to come to a place with more of a modern and city-like feel to it, I can understand just wanting a different scene in general, and I can also definitely understand wanting to get away from someone.. I’ve been wanting to get out of the house for a long time and I did it as soon as I turned eighteen. I couldn’t handle my Pop’s always needing to be in my business,” I smiled softly after my words, trying to play them off as best as I could and I slowly saw her expression return back to normal and a forced smile spread across her lips.. Dodged a fucking bullet with that one.

“Oh.. Well, if I’m bein’ honest, it’s a little of all three of those things,” she admitted and my heart continued to race a little in wondering if she was about to talk about her crazy ex. I wanted her to get it off her chest and out in the open so badly.

“Shit, I didn’t know I’d hit the nail on the head right away like that,” I said with a soft laugh and she kept her smile as she looked down at her lap.

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“It’s, well.. It’s a little difficult to talk about,” she replied and I nodded in understanding.

“You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to. I didn’t mean to pry or whatever,” I answered, hanging my head for a moment, but I looked back up when she caught my attention.

“No, it’s all right.. You weren’t pryin’, you were just askin’ somethin’ you didn’t know about and I appreciate you havin’ so much interest in me, especially wantin’ to know more.. It really is sweet of you,” she said with a genuine smile and I gave her one right back.

“We don’t have to talk about it now if you don’t want to.. Really, I mean it.. I know first hand how it feels to be asked about something and not wanting to talk about it, so just take as much time as you need. I’ll be here to listen whenever you decide to tell me,” I assured her and her expression seemed touched by my words.

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I turned back around towards the stove, staring down at the pot that was in front of me and there was a long silence that hovered over us in the kitchen. I didn’t want to turn around and face her again, she’d easily see on my face how much I was beating myself up over bothering to ask her something I knew was serious, but what other way could I have said it? What’s done was done and it went over a lot easier than I thought it was going to, I just kind of wished I had asked her after dinner instead of before it so I had an easier reason to excuse myself and go home. I wanted to bury my face in my pillow like I always did, but I couldn’t do that. I should’ve just minded my own business from the very start, but now I have to sit through dinner with her when all that I could think about is if and when she would finally tell me what had happened to her in the past so I didn’t have to keep hiding that I already knew. I need to be more careful with my wording, too, and never give away the fact that I already did know. 

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“I’m sorry,” she suddenly said, breaking the silence and I looked over my shoulder towards her.

“About what?”

“I didn’t mean to make things awkward,” she said with a disappointed expression and I turned towards her, stepping over to where she was sitting and I positioned myself between her legs.

“You didn’t make anything awkward. I told you that you can talk about it whenever you’re ready,” I assured her, hating that she was blaming herself for this when I was the one that purposefully tried to push her into telling me something she wasn’t ready to.

“But I bet that’s all that you can think about now, is what I’m hidin’, right?”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it ‘hiding’ something.. You’re just not ready to talk about it and I completely understand. Really, it’s not a big deal.. You’re making it a big deal,” I said with a smirk and she smiled as she rolled her eyes, “But, really, it’s not.. I’m fine not talking about it, I promise,” I continued to try to bring her back up from this low that I put her in and when she eventually gave a soft smile and a gentle nod, I knew she had stopped beating herself up about it. She was good at forgiving and forgetting.

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“Here, I’ll even change the subject for you,” I brought up and I knew she welcomed the idea when she smiled more, “I’ve been wanting to ask you something,” I continued, taking my dad’s ‘food for thought’ and making it a reality.

“Oh? And what’s that?” She asked curiously.

“..I was wondering.. If you wanted to,” I paused again, glancing down at the counter briefly before looking back up to her, “Maybe go to Niko and AnneMarie’s wedding? ..With me?” I finally asked and she raised her brow.

“What, like carpool?” She asked and I chuckled nervously.

“Well, in a sense, yes.. But, I mean more, like.. For you to be my date,” I finally made clear and her expression went softer, the smile on her lips coming back and she nodded without even really needing to think of her answer.

“I’d love that,” she replied and I couldn’t control the smile that spread across my lips.

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Riley lifted her right hand and moved a strand of my hair out from covering my eye, watching her observe my face after she did so, but I couldn’t stand being this close without kissing her. I leaned in slowly and she welcomed the kiss I planted on her lips, feeling her sitting up more to get closer to me and I brought my hands up from resting on the counter to hold her hips. A few soft pecks later, our kiss grew deeper with our tongues gently intertwining and the hand she used before to brush my hair away from my eye slid through my dark strands to the back of my head. My knees crumbled every time her fingers played with my hair and my hands gripped her hips in a wanting manner at the feel of it. I was still conscious enough to know this wasn’t going to go anywhere, I didn’t expect anything after this kiss, but still showing her that I wanted her through touching her body over her clothes and through passionate kisses was important and I wanted to show her that I could kiss her and touch her without being a dog about it.. It was a pretty difficult thing to control, though.

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I couldn’t help but pull away from her lips and give her soft pecks along her jaw until I got to her ear, gently nibbling on her lobe and sucking softly on her earring. She let out a hushed moan from behind her barely parted lips that she practically whispered into my ear and, fuck, this was hot. Her hand gripped a chunk of my hair again and I unconsciously pressed the front of myself against the counter she sat upon. I felt her head tilt upward and my lips let go of her ear to simultaneously lick and kiss the skin of her neck, her fingertips massaging my scalp and gently gripping my hair occasionally whenever my tongue hit just the right spot for a reaction and I tried so hard to keep myself from getting so turned on, but it was impossible. I couldn’t even put into words how badly I wanted to grab her and carry her upstairs to her bed.

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“U-Uhm.. Luca?” I heard her speak with a skip in her words and a soft pant in her breath, her whispered tone still keeping me completely turned on.

“Hmm?” I wondered, continuing to kiss her neck and hoping, praying, she’d tell me to take off her shirt, or to bring her over to her couch, or upstairs to her bed, or-

“I smell somethin’ burnin’,” she warned and I pulled my lips away from her neck quickly.

Definitely not what I thought she was going to say.

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“Shit!” I let out in a soft panic as I heard Riley giggle, stepping away from her hastily to go to the pot and I took it completely off the burner. I grabbed the spoon I had been using to stir and scooped up a small amount, bringing it to my mouth and tasting it, then dropping it onto the counter in disappointment. I burnt the sauce and now my pants were so tight from being turned on that I couldn’t even face her again until I talked myself down.

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“It’s fucking burnt.. Here I am trying to do something nice and make you dinner and I can’t even get simple spaghetti right.. I’m sorry,” I say as I shake my head and I hear Riley continue to giggle softly.

“It’s all right, it’s just spaghetti.. We can order a pizza or some Chinese or somethin’,” she said with a smile and I chuckled.

“Yeah, let’s just do that, because clearly I don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen,” I made fun of myself and I was finally able to talk myself down enough to the point where I felt I was in the clear to face her again.

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“A valiant effort, though, if I do say so myself,” she said with the smile still on her lips, putting her hands together and clapping softly and I furrowed my brow in suspicion with a grin.

“Was that sarcasm I detected?” I questioned and she shrugged.

“Maybe,” she teased and I couldn’t help but grin more.

“Well, if someone wasn’t so good at distracting me, this wouldn’t have happened,” I teased back and she scoffed.

You were the one makin’ dinner! You can’t blame me for burnin’ it when I’ve just been sittin’ here watchin’ you,” she made a good point and I stepped back over to her, positioning myself between her legs again and putting my hands on the counter top.

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“I completely blame you,” I looked at her lips and smirked, “Your lips,” I kissed them, “Your face,” I kissed both of her cheeks and she giggled softly, “Your skin,” I leaned forward into her neck and kissed that, too, “I like all of it too much to ignore it,” I admitted and her eyes went soft and sweet, leaning forward and pressing her lips against mine again briefly.

“Let’s order somethin’,” she said softly after our kiss and I nodded, backing away a little so she could hop down from the counter and pull out her phone to order food for us.

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We ended up ordering some pizza and putting on a comedy to watch, but I had been noticing out of the corner of my eye her looking at me periodically and it made me wonder if she was working up the courage to talk to me about something or if she just liked looking at me. Half way through the movie, she looked at me again and this time I decided to acknowledge the fact that she was doing it and I looked to her, too. 

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“What’s wrong?” I asked, extending out my hand and she smirked as she put her hand within mine.

“Nothin’, I just.. I-It’s nothin’,” she said with a reassuring smile, but I wasn’t buying it.

“No, really.. Tell me,” I encouraged, rubbing the top of her hand with my thumb and her eyes broke away from mine to look down at our hands.

“..I know I’ve told you already, but.. I like you,” she admitted again, looking back up to me and I smiled softly at her, “You’ve been so sweet to me and so patient with me. You make me feel safe, you give me butterflies every time you smile at me, and the way you kiss me makes me a little weak sometimes,” I couldn’t help but smile more, “I like you a lot, and.. It worries me how much I like you after only datin’ for a few months,” she said with a soft chuckle that sounded as if she was laughing at herself.

“Why are you worried about that?”

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“I’m just worried that I like you more than you like me,” she admitted and I turned more towards her, holding her hand a little tighter.

“What makes you say that?” I asked with furrowed brows, concerned by her words.

“I just.. Have a tendency to fall for a man really quickly and I tend to bend pretty easily after I’ve done so and I don’t like it, and.. I-” she stopped for a quick moment, “I feel like I’m not makin’ any sense,” she shook her head and her gaze went back down to our hands.

“Well, please try to explain, because you aren’t making any sense right now.. I like you a lot, too, and I don’t want you to think about how much. It’s not a competition or a game to see who likes the other one more or better or anything.. It’s just one of those things that just is, with no need for an explanation or a reason.. I’ll admit that it worries me, too, just how much I like you because, well.. Because of the stuff I told you at the dock.. But, what I wanna know is what makes you worried about it?” I asked, hoping she’d finally tell me about her past and what she’s been through so we could hopefully, finally, get passed it and start moving forward.

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Riley looked up from our hands to my eyes, keeping silent for a short moment before finally speaking.

“My last relationship was.. Unhealthy.. The man I grew to love didn’t show me exactly who he was until after I’d fallen for him and I was a weak person then.. I thought he’d get better, but he only got worse.. He hurt me very deeply to the point where I even had to get the authorities involved,” she explained and although I didn’t like being reminded of what she’s been through, I did like the fact that she was finally telling me these things.

“Like.. Physically hurt you?” I asked with caution and she eventually nodded.

“Yes.. I even have a restraining order against him, he’s not allowed to come within one hundred feet of me. He’s in jail now, though, thank goodness,” she answered quietly.

“..Do you mind if I ask what he’s done to you?” I wondered.

“He’d bruise me, sometimes make me bleed.. I almost always had a black eye and I avoided my friends because I didn’t want them to see me like that.. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’ve even had my nose broken, too, because of him.. And even in bed, I never said no to him because I thought that if I did, he’d only hurt me more and-” she stopped, looking away from me and shutting her eyes, bringing her other hand up to her mouth to cover it and I knew she was trying not to cry.

“Hey, hey, hey, no, don’t cry.. Come here,” I insisted, pulling her hand that I still held and she scooted closer to me, enough for me to hold her and I held her tightly. 

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“I was such a weak person then that it took me so long to leave him, but one day I just couldn’t take it anymore.. I locked myself in our bedroom and called the police and I haven’t seen him since, but he’s the reason I left and moved here.. I-I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, I-”

“-You don’t have to say any more, I get it now.. It’s all right,” I assured her, grabbing her legs and throwing them over mine before pulling her even closer and I could hear her sniffling, though I think she was successful at preventing herself from letting tears fall.

“I guess that’s why I’m worried.. I’ve been fooled once before.. I’m not sayin’ you’d ever do such a thing, but.. You can understand my concern,” she continued and I nodded.

“Of course I understand, but, Riley.. You do know that I’d never do anything like that to you, right? Men who hit women are the scum of the earth and it only makes them a piece of shit human being. I’d never hurt you or raise a hand to you or anything like that and you can take as much time as you need with anything. This isn’t a relationship that will be one-sided and I’ll never do anything to make you feel like you’re lesser of the person that you are, understand?” I made sure that she knew this and I felt her nod.

“If I ever do without knowing it, you can yell at me, throw me out, throw stuff at me, spit on me, anything you want and I’ll never retaliate like he did.. But, tell me if I ever do, because I don’t want to be that person, and I’ll apologize and kiss your feet and beg for forgiveness,” I heard her chuckle softly through her emotional state and I was glad that I was making her feel better. Even hearing her laugh made me smile and hold her tighter.

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When I felt Riley leaning back, I let go of holding her tightly and I could see on her face that she was passed the part of trying to keep herself from crying. She looked at me for a moment, seeing her eyes quickly flash to my lips, but she didn’t lean in to kiss me and she didn’t say anything. 

“What is it?” I asked. She seemed very deep in thought and I wondered if she was going to finish telling me everything about her past that I already knew about, but I could tell that wasn’t the only thing she had on her mind. 

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“It’s nothin’,” she finally replied and gave a brief smirk, “You’re just.. Very good to me..”

“You don’t deserve anything less.. Thank you for telling me. I know it’s hard to think about that stuff again, but it helped me understand you better and that’s exactly what I wanted,” I added and she smiled more, “Are you all right now?” I wondered and she nodded softly.

“Yeah.. I’m great,” she answered with a smile and I held the smirk on my lips as I leaned forward and kissed her cheek for a few seconds before pulling away and putting my attention back to the movie.

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I wasn’t even paying attention to the last fifteen minutes of the movie, I was too preoccupied thinking about Riley and staring at her soft, pristine skin that my hand touched. My fingertips slowly slid delicately up and down her arm, unable to take my eyes away from her body. Even though her arms were warm and relaxed, I felt a barely-noticeable layer of goosebumps whenever I guessed my fingertips were perhaps tickling her, exciting her, or teasing her. Whatever it meant, I continued to do it until the very end of the movie, but.. Fuck.

..I need to get out of here or else I’ll end up doing something stupid or something she isn’t comfortable with again. 

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“I should, uhh.. I should get going,” I announced as the credits rolled, Riley picking up her head from my shoulder and I removed her legs from laying over mine so I could stand.

“Oh.. Really?” She asked and I stood from the couch, but when I looked back at her, her expression seemed as if she was in a daze and her cheeks were a gentle pink.

I cleared my throat before answering her, a little caught off guard by the look in her eyes, “Y-Yeah, I mean.. It’s almost midnight and I don’t wanna keep you up,” I replied with a smirk, watching Riley stand from the couch, too, and she followed me to the door.

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“Thank you for attemptin’ to cook tonight,” she said with a humorous smile and I chuckled as I turned around to face her.

“And thanks for saving the evening and suggesting we order out because I can’t cook for shit,” I replied and she laughed, bringing my hand up to gently touch her face, “I’ll call you soon,” I continued and she nodded.

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I leaned down and pressed my lips to hers, keeping them there for a long moment before quickly making the kiss deeper and her arms wrapped around my neck to pull me as close as I could get to her. As our tongues danced together, her chest pressed hard against mine and I heard her let out a quiet hum of a moan from how good our kiss was and I didn’t want it to end. My hands slid down to her hips and they slowly wrapped around her, feeling the arch of her back and the dimples above her ass that were evident under the fabric of her shirt and I was getting so turned on again that I had to shake every thought out of my head in order to pry myself away from her.

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When I finally ended the kiss and pulled away, I immediately turned around and headed for the door, unable to look at her anymore or else my dumb ass would find some way to ruin the moment and I didn’t want that to happen.

“..W-Wait,” I heard Riley say softly, stopping dead in my tracks and looking over my shoulder towards her. Her cheeks were still flushed and pink and her lips barely open, but it was to help herself catch her breath and I could still just barely hear how labored her breathing was from where I was standing.

“What?” I asked, still feeling my heart race and how warm my face was from getting turned on for the hundredth time tonight. She hesitated a few seconds, trying to find the words to say whatever she was going to and she shied away her eyes when she finally figured it out.

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“I don’t.. Want you to go,” she answered, watching her play nervously with her fingers and her eyes came back up to meet mine.

“O-Oh, uhm.. All right, well.. What do you wanna do then?” I wondered, sticking my hands in my front pockets as I waited for another answer.

“Somethin’ I’ve been too much of a coward to do, but I want to now.. I really, really want to,” she replied and I watched as she slowly criss-crossed her arms, grabbed the bottom of her shirt and lifted it over her head.

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My eyes were wide, my head was completely empty and my heart was beating out of my chest as my gaze was indecisive on where it wanted to remain.. Do I look at her face, or her breasts that were being cupped so perfectly in her bra? She gave me a soft smile as she dropped her shirt on the ground and I felt as if I was frozen where I stood.. Is this finally happening? I really do hope this is real and it isn’t a dream or my mind playing tricks on me.

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“Come here,” she said softly and suddenly I remembered how to walk again, not needing to be asked twice and I quickly stepped up to her. 

“..Are you sure?” I asked, my eyes unable to pick one spot on her to look at for even one second, going all over her body and my hands slid over the soft skin of her hips.

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“I’m sure,” she replied, one of her hands coming down to grip mine and she held it as she turned around and pulled me along, guiding me back through the living room and over to the stairs that led up to her bedroom.

Holy shit, holy shit, holy shit-

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As we walked up the stairs, each step higher making my heart race that much faster, I couldn’t believe I was about to see and be in her bedroom for the first time. I could usually see some of it from the first floor, but it just wasn’t the same. There was an entirely different feel to the upstairs. I could smell the air filled with a soft perfume that lingered from when she had put it on earlier before I arrived, the room was warm and cozy and much more calm and inviting compared to the rest of her place, and the bed looked just as delicious as Riley did from behind with her back exposed and the clasp of her bra calling my name and begging me to unhook it.. I couldn’t wait to get her in that damn bed.

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When we reached the top of the stairs, Riley turned around to face me and brought her hands up to my cheeks, gently pulling me to her and our lips locked softly. One kiss after another, I slowly wrapped my arms around her, letting them adventure all over her back and she walked backwards as I followed, letting her pull me to her bed. Both of our breathing was already heavy and unsteady and Riley’s hands then came down to find the edges of my blazer and the bottom of my shirt, breaking our kiss for only a second so she could quickly pull them off and I went straight back to her lips to kiss her deeply as we continued our way to her bed.

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The second I reached the edge of her bed, feeling it against my knees for reference, I laid her down and fell on top of her, Riley pulling herself onto the bed more and I followed her every move until she laid down comfortably. I pushed back into her lips and our kiss grew passionate almost instantly yet again, her hands running through my hair, her legs rubbing against mine, my left hand traveling down her body until I reached her thigh and I gripped it longingly. 

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My hand then found its way to the front of her pants, undoing her button and zipper and slowly pulling them down and off her legs. I then took a moment to prop myself up and look at what I had before me. I loved seeing Riley’s face and how flustered it was, but once she noticed I was staring at her, she covered her face with her hands and I chuckled at how cute she was. I leaned down again and kissed her neck, her collar bone, the tops of her breasts, every inch of skin that wasn’t covered by clothing and already I was annoyed with the fabric that was in my way of giving her as much pleasure as I possibly could, and wanted, to give her. She eventually took her hands away from her face when she knew I wasn’t staring at her anymore, feeling one of her hands going through my hair and gently gripping it whenever I kissed a spot on her that I could tell she liked.

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“Take that off for me?” I implicated towards her bra and she reached behind herself to do exactly as I requested.

The second that her bra came off and she tossed it aside, I stared at her chest for a long moment, absorbing all of her body’s glory before finally bringing my lips back down to the tops of her breasts and slowly kissing my way to her hard nipples that I couldn’t even express how much I already loved playing with.

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Her body went wild the second I paid attention to her most sensitive spots and her moaning was just as expressive in pleasure as her waving body was. I had been waiting so long to touch her that I wasn’t looking forward to getting passed the foreplay, but I was looking forward to savoring it and making everything last as long as I could possibly let it.

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I spent a good amount of time on her breasts, messaging, kneading, biting, licking, kissing them, but even though I noticed she still enjoyed every bit of it, they were getting a bit red and raw and I wanted to move to other parts of her so she wouldn’t be too sore in the morning.. Although, the thought of her looking at her body in the mirror and even feeling what I’ve done to her the next day would force her to think of who she got that from, and knowing she’d think of me made me all the more excited.

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After finally prying myself away from her breasts, I came back off of the bed, kneeling next to it and grabbing the front of her thighs that were spread around me to bring her closer to the edge. I kissed the insides of her thighs gently back and forth until I heard quiet, soft moans coming from her, letting her calm herself down a little after what I had just done to her breasts before I start on an even more pleasureful task between her legs. I reached to her hips with my hands and grabbed her underwear, but looked up to her before continuing.

“Can I take these off, too?” I asked, keeping eye contact with her as I kissed the inside of her left thigh over and over and the second that she nodded ‘yes’, I pulled them slowly down her legs to her knees.. I then took them off the rest of the way with my teeth and she seemed to enjoy it by the way she excitedly giggled at the action with anticipation written all over her face. 

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The only light I had was that from the dim one next to her bed, but I really didn’t even need to see anything in order to know what I was doing. I kissed the inside of her left leg from the side of her knee all the way to her uppermost inner thigh that I could go without reaching her sweet spot, then did the exact same thing to the right leg. I repeated my licks, bites and kisses starting at the inside of her knee and kissing all the way down to her upper, inner thigh, though after completely pampering her right thigh and feeling her leg beginning to shake a little, I then went to her moist center between her legs that was begging for me to give it attention.

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The second that my tongue touched her, she jerked a little from being surprised, but she quickly calmed herself the more I asserted the presence of my mouth and how badly I wanted to make her feel good.. I held her thighs in place with my arms wrapped around them tightly, doing one of the things that I could do best with my tongue and hearing her moaning and feeling her body shake like a baby’s rattle within my grasp told me I was doing a pretty damn good job. I could do this for minutes, hours, days.. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner.. It didn’t matter, as long as she would let me.

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It was the thing I loved most that I knew I was good at and could make any girl weak from, but this time, I tried extra hard to make it the most pleasureful that I could, even pulling out some moves I hadn’t done in a while just to see how she’d like them and it seemed to pay off by how her body reacted.. It was almost actually a little difficult to keep her hips in place because she moved around so much, her hips pulsating involuntarily to some movements of my tongue that I couldn’t even explain, but the challenge of keeping it all centered and concentrated was never out of my reach. I was a very goal-driven man, given the right attitude and task.

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Eventually, however, she reached forward with one of her hands and grabbed a hold of my hair to get me to subside, but it only made me that much more turned on.

“S-S-Stop, stop, stop.. I can’t.. No more,” she expressed with an already seemingly exhausted pant and I pulled away, yet I went straight back to kissing her thighs delicately and soothingly to help her gather herself from what I just wrecked her with.

I’m not a show off, but.. That was probably my best work yet.

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“Do you, you know.. Have anything?” She implied, her voice shaky and hopeful and I nodded as I looked up at her.

“I, uh.. I do, actually,” I admitted rather shamefully, hoping she wouldn’t take it as if I was expecting this type of thing to happen at the end of the date, but honestly, I was lucky that I was always so prepared. 

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“Oh, good,” she was relieved, “Put it.. Put it on.. Quickly,” she expressed with a panting, eager breath and I pulled myself away from between her legs to find my wallet in my pants hastily. I took the condom out and set it aside for now while I then quickly stood up and pulled my pants and underwear down to finally expose all of myself as she so graciously let me do to her and just from the look in her eyes, from what I could see, they still gleamed with excitement. I wasn’t nearly as shy as she was about taking off my clothes, that was definitely a dead giveaway. Her hips still swayed the slightest bit against the mattress in anticipation and when my eyes went from her face down to her chest and all the way down to her feet, I was completely ready.. Hell, I was ready to take her the second she took her shirt off downstairs.

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The instant that the protection was secured all the way down to my base, she pulled herself back to the pillow at the head of the bed to lie on and I quickly crawled on top of her and rolled my hips against hers, teasing her even more with my hard excitement and not even wanting to touch myself for guidance. I felt my way over her moist center until the head of me found exactly what I wanted and slowly, I pressed inside of her. Riley let out a quick moan she couldn’t hold back and it was a little difficult to work in at first. I don’t know if it was from lack of stimulation lately for her or maybe this is just how tight she was, but as difficult as it was, I pressed forward until I couldn’t go any more and she could barely even let out a moan because I had completely taken her voice away.

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When I pulled back slowly, then pressed forward again, I went with a little more pressure with the slightest bit of a quicker pace and her hands instantly grasped the pillow under her as if she was needing to hold on for dear life. 

“You feel so fucking amazing,” I said quietly, though I was getting a little concerned with how she wasn’t saying anything and it seemed as if she wasn’t controlling her breathing properly.

“Are you okay?” I asked against her lips as I held myself still for a moment, waiting to continue until she gave me something, anything, and eventually she did.

“Y-Yes.. Keep goin’.. Slowly,” she replied and I nodded quickly in understanding, my lips going to her neck and I kissed her sensually as my hips did as she asked and I went slowly.. As slowly as I possibly could.. As slowly as I felt her delicate little body could handle and after about a couple amazingly intimate minutes, I brought myself away from abusing her neck with my lips and tongue to see how she was doing again.

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“Want me to go a little faster?” I whispered against her lips and the second that she nodded, I went back in a little harder and her back arched immediately. 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t-”

“N-No, keep.. Keep doing that.. Go quicker, it’s okay,” she encouraged and I instantly obliged, going a little quicker for a few minutes, then fast after a few more, then harder a few more after that until she seemed used to me enough. When I seemed to have found the right amount of pace and pressure, she vocalized her pleasure loud and clear with her lovely little mouth open and moaning.

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I propped myself up so I could look down at her face and her chest to watch her breasts bounce every time I thrusted into her. I went at a quicker and harder pace now, her mouth agape and letting nothing but pleasureful moans and cries out of it, but even though I wanted to ask her so many questions, I must be doing this just as she’d like it to be done if she was reacting the way she was..

..But, I still wished I was guided a little more.. I like knowing exactly what to do like some of the many other girls would tell me when we fool around, but Riley wasn’t like any other girl anymore.. I actually wanted to please her as best as I could and the only reason I actually wanted for her to talk to me during this was to tell me exactly what she wanted and how she wanted it so I could do her justice, but, I seemed to be on my own for this one.. I needed to be so much more aware of the situation than I usually was and I was paying my utmost attention on how she reacted with everything that I did.. I’d never forgive myself if I hurt her or did any more than what she could handle or was comfortable with. She needed to be treated like the delicate flower that she was.

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Her eyes were tightly shut, her arms back and lifeless against the mattress, breasts bouncing exactly how I liked them to.. She was perfect. Her hands then came up to grip my arms and body and she seemed to be enjoying everything that I was doing, but I just couldn’t help but ask.. I needed to know.

“Do you like this?” I asked through my heavy breath, continuing to thrust just as I had been so if anything changed, I’d know exactly what to do, when and where and how.

“Y-Yes, yes.. Keep going.. Go harder,” she eventually expressed, her eyes finally opening and looking up at me and I almost completely melted in her arms before I managed to compose myself and do my absolute best despite almost losing it after seeing how gorgeous her green eyes were.

I went harder, just as she asked, her back arching as hard as I had seen it go and with every hard thrust I did, I left myself inside of her for a longer second than I normally would, just so she could get the sense of feeling me at the bottom of her stomach and she cried out in pleasure every time I did this.

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I hoped she didn’t mind how vocal I was, seeing as she wasn’t really saying anything at all.

“You like that? Tell me, Riley.. What do you want?” I asked again, though as if to shut me up, she reached up and grabbed what hair of mine that she could and pulled me down to her lips, kissing her passionately and I went even harder and quicker from the excitement of her kiss getting the better of me. The second that she wrapped her legs around me and her hips started to push back into mine in matching movements to make it that much more intense and to help me get as deep as I could is when I almost lost it.

This was, hands down, the best sex I’d had in a long, long time.

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However, the second I went as hard and fast as I could, she broke away from the kiss to catch her breath and we both moaned against one another’s lips. I was getting incredibly close to reaching my breaking point, but I’ll be damned if I come without making her do it, too.

I could feel her getting there just as I was.. I could feel her constricting and every time she expressed internally to me that she was close, I did everything in my power to get her where she needed to be. Within no time at all after giving her as much as I possibly could, really putting my all into it, she was calling out my name with one final arch of her back and coming and I came the second I heard my name being spilled out over her shiny, plump lips.

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“Holy fuck,” I couldn’t help but let out and I heard her giggle softly as I remained inside of her and she tried her best to catch her breath as I panted heavily into her neck. I struggled to breathe through my nose as I gently kissed her neck, her jawline, her earlobe, anything that was within the reach of my lips. The room was silent despite the sound of our hard breathing and once I managed to control myself a little, I laid on her to give my arms a break and her fingers delicately tracing over my skin comforted me in a way I couldn’t explain.

“I’m not crushing you, am I?” I asked in between gentle kisses on her neck and she giggled softly again.

“No.. I like this,” she whispered, feeling her fingers continuing to comb over my skin gently and it was so comforting and soothing that I could fall asleep in her arms within seconds if she kept it up.

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After a couple minutes of lying there, I eventually hoisted up my exhausted body, pulled myself away from her and I removed the protection. I noticed a small trash can near her bed, getting up and tossing it out along with the wrapper and I picked up my underwear to put them back on. Riley sat up and slipped on her underwear and there was a short silence in the room that oddly made me uncomfortable. I wasn’t too vocal during sex, was I? Did I sound like a needy person? ..Was I annoying? I probably was.. Maybe I should go so she could be alone to think about what we had just done and let her figure out if it was a mistake or too soon or not.

I stepped over to my pants to pick them up and put them on, but Riley caught my attention before I could bend down.

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“You can stay, you know.. If you wanna,” she invited and I looked back at her, seeing her standing with a gentle smile on her lips.

“Do you want me to?” I asked in return, a little confused at first because I was so used to bailing when everything was said and done, but I kept forgetting that Riley was different.

“Well, yeah,” she said with a shy smirk, “Of course I want you to,” she said as if it was a no brainer.

“I’m sorry, I guess I’m just not used to doing that,” I replied with a slight smirk, but she seemed to take it a different way than how I meant it.

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“Well, if you’d feel more comfortable goin’ home, then that’s completely fine.. I don’t want you to stay if you don’t want to, it was a stupid question anyways, so-”

“No, no, Riley, it’s not that, it’s just-” I stopped for a moment, stepping up to her and leaning in to kiss her lips for a few seconds before pulling away. I held her face in my hands, absorbing all of her beauty and I was surprised that she even thought for a second that I wanted to leave her after inviting me to sleep over.

“I’d love to stay,” I made myself perfectly clear so there was no confusion and the second that she smiled, I leaned in again and pressed my lips against hers.

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Without warning, I quickly picked her up into my arms and she let out a surprised yelp at the unexpected action, “Ready for round two?” I said with suggestive eyebrows and she laughed as I brought her back over to the bed. I crawled on top of her and pushed my lips back into hers the second that her back met the sheets, still completely awake and completely incapable of taking myself away from her. I haven’t felt anything this personal or passionate for a long, long time and I had to admit that I missed it quite a bit.. I had to tell myself that I didn’t miss it every time a girl left my bedroom, every time I snuck out of theirs, every time I had a quickie in my car.. I was telling myself that I didn’t miss it so much to the point where I really was starting to believe it, but.. Being here now with Riley and still having that deliciously fresh experience together on my mind, I realized it was something that I’ve needed for so long, I just never had the right person to do it with.. 

It feels good to be wanted again.

Generation 5, Chapter 5

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I don’t usually share my encounters with Tavish and Pia about all the stuff that happens between a girl and I, but today I kind of needed to. It’s been a little over a month, I think, since my big fuck-up at the dock with Riley, but ever since then, I’ve been doing a lot better. I was relieved to learn that she really didn’t care about what I did because we’ve hung out about six or seven more times since then and the time with her all of those days were fun and never awkward. She forgave and forgot, even though I hadn’t forgotten it, but it’s still been pretty okay, none the less. I haven’t tried anything with her, other than making out, since the dock, so I think I’m doing pretty good..? I guess the only reason I was with Tavish now talking about Riley was because we’re not moving fast at all, we’re not even moving at a normal pace.. Then again, I don’t really know what a ‘normal’ pace is anymore when it comes to dating someone, but this just seemed to be a little too slow for me.. We were getting nowhere and I couldn’t help but blame myself.. Was there something about me that she didn’t like?

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“You two haven’t fucked yet?” Tavish asked, his tone at an absolute disbelief and I shook my head as I stared up at his ceiling.

“Nope.”

“How long have you been seeing one another?” He wondered next.

“A month, I think, maybe more,” I guessed.

“Damn.. Why haven’t you done it yet?”

“I don’t know.. She just says that she’s not ready,” I didn’t know how else to put it.

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“What’s she waiting for?”

“How the hell should I know?”

“You haven’t asked?”

“What, to have sex with her?”

“No, dumbass, why she won’t have sex with you,” he continued his questioning and I felt like a patient talking to their shrink, except this shrink liked to give me tough love.. But, I guess that’s what friends are sometimes, right? A shrink that’ll tell you how it is straight up with no sugar coating?

“No..? Why would I ask that? If I did, it would just make me look like I’m getting impatient and trying to rush her or that I’m bored or something..”

“Well, aren’t you impatient?”

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“Yeah, I’m impatient as fuck, but I’m not going to rush her if she doesn’t want to. I’ve learned my lesson once already and I felt like shit because of it,” I referred back to a month ago when I tried to touch her at the dock and she freaked out, “Well, I mean, she does want to, just not yet, and I don’t know when,” I added to my explanation as I sat up and he looked at me curiously for a moment, even slightly impressed, perhaps.

“She’s told you that?”

“Yeah. She said she does want to do stuff like that with me, just not yet,” I repeated for the hundredth time it seemed.

“Wait, wait, wait.. Stuff? As in more than just sex? As in you haven’t hit any of the other bases?”

“Nope.. None of it.. We’ve only made out,” I answered and I heard him let out a heavy sigh.

“Damn.. Have you even touched her boobs yet? Please, tell me you’ve at least done that,” he nearly begged, a pathetic laugh that I couldn’t control escaping me and it was as if my body felt sorry for itself because of my lack of control to keep that laugh in.

“Not that, either,” even now, just listening to myself, it sounded like one big joke and I wanted to laugh along with Tavish and say ‘just kidding’ to all of it, but.. I couldn’t. It was just as sad as it sounded..

“Man.. How are you even alive right now? How fuckin’ backed up are you?” He asked rhetorically, no doubt teasing me and I chuckled softly, “Are you sure she’s not a virgin?” Tav suggested, my expression going from amused to focused, even slight shock, and I thought about it for a long moment..

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“No.. No way.. She couldn’t be,” I tried to wrap my mind around it and Tavish shrugged as he played with the rubix cube he stole from my room.

“Why is that so strange? She’s acting like she is, so maybe it’s true? I mean, it seems like she is the more and more we talk about it.. Think about where she was raised, too.. In the middle of the Bible Belt in a super small town, raised to be a proper lady, probably went to church every Sunday,” he gave examples, but I was skeptical.

“I don’t know, man, that just doesn’t seem right.. She was raised on a farm, so what makes you say that?”

“Well, look at AnneMarie.. She’s, like, the epitome of the perfect southern belle and Riley was raised practically the same way in the same town and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if they even made a pact with one another to save themselves for marriage and even get pregnant at the same time so their babies can grow up together like they did,” he explained and I chuckled again as I rolled my eyes.

“That’s quite the assumption you thought up,” I replied and Tav laughed softly, “And AnneMarie didn’t grow up on a farm like Riley did, she was in pageants and all that crap.. I know AnneMarie is a virgin because Niko’s never mentioned doing that with her yet.”

“Well, your brother is a gentleman and lot more subtle than you are.. They’ve been together for ten years and you really believe they haven’t had sex yet?” Tavish added with a grin and I glanced down at my chest as I thought about it..

“I guess that’s true,” I couldn’t help but agree, which then made me think how my brother and I were maybe slowly growing apart, if he hasn’t shared something like that with me yet, and I grew sad momentarily for a different reason than the no-sex-with-Riley talk.

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“Okay.. For shits a giggles then, let’s say that she’s not a virgin and she’s just trying to see if you’re worth it, or committed enough. Maybe she’s waiting for something that you haven’t shown her yet and you just have no idea what that is, so you gotta figure it out.. I mean, let’s face it, though, you’re not exactly the greatest example of ‘committed’.. But, regardless, my money’s on virgin,” Tavish put simply with a shrug of his shoulders and I was starting to not like how Tavish could be right.. If Riley was a virgin, who knows how long I’ll have to wait.. What if I have to marry her in order to finally get there?

..No, not happening.

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“..There’s gotta be a way to find out for sure,” I said out loud to myself and I sat up more and looked to Tav when he snickered at me.

“Yeah, there is.. One, ask her, but that’s a little too blunt.. Two, finally have sex with her and see if it hurts her or something, then you’ll know if she was a virgin. Or three, just wait for things to get a little more serious and see if she admits it.. Or just, I dunno, there’s always option four.. Wait until she’s ready and pounces on you or something because even she can’t hold out anymore,” he answered and I gave him a bored expression.

“That’s not helping.. I just want to know without asking or waiting, I want her to tell me why she doesn’t want to, or why she’s not ready.. I don’t care if it has to do with an ex or if she’s waiting for marriage or whatever the fuck it is, I just want to know. This shit’s starting to drive me crazy.”

“And it’s only driving you crazy because you haven’t gotten off in over a month,” he teased and I fake cried.

“It truly is sad, isn’t it?” I asked rhetorically and he chuckled.

“But, really, Luca, it’s not that big of a deal to where you need to get so wound up about it.. I don’t know what you want me to say, man.. You can either be patient and wait for her to be ready, or you can find someone else who’s ready to get down and dirty a little quicker,” he suggested.

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“..You don’t think I have the guts to wait, do you?” I challenged and he laughed.

Hell no.”

“Fuck you, I can be patient,” I blew him off and he laughed harder.

“Ha! Since when?!”

“Since always!”

“Hmm.. I guess you were patient enough to find the right girl to date after seven years of boycotting dating, so there’s one example.. Got anymore?”

Double fuck you,” I answered with a smirk and he snickered again. He really did love to mess with me, but I guess I always had it coming..

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This whole situation perplexed me. I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to have sex, or did she just not want to have sex with me? Was there something about me that she didn’t like or wasn’t too sure about yet? Or was it all really simple and she didn’t have any reason why she wasn’t ready yet? I used to like simple, the easy kind of simple, but Riley wasn’t that type at all and I was having a hard time accepting and understanding it. I looked to Tavish who was still playing with the rubix cube, but when I looked passed him towards his computer, ideas started to come to me and I wondered if he would be up for doing me a favor..

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“..You in the mood to do a little cyber-exploring for me?” I asked and Tavish stopped playing around with the rubix cube to look at me.

“..Excuse me?”

“You know.. Hack some shit or whatever it is that you do.. Find out what you can about her,” I suggested.

“..Cyber exploring?” He said with a smile, clearly making fun of me.

“Fuck off, you know what I meant.”

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“Are you really asking me to hack into her Facebook? Her computer? Her medial records? Her bank statements? Just to find out if she’s a virgin or not?” With each example he gave, he sounded more and more excited and intrigued about it, but then again, the more he listed off, the more I wished I never said anything.

“No, not all of those things, just.. You know.. The medical stuff maybe? That’d be the easiest way to find out, right? Doctor’s visits and such?” I replied.

“Man.. I haven’t done something like that in a while,” he said with the same smirk on his lips, my brow raising in curiosity.

“Hey, listen.. Don’t go overboard, just look for the answer to this one question, or at least clues that point to it. Don’t invade her privacy too much,” I made clear and he nodded, but I couldn’t tell if he was agreeing to my words or nodding at himself and his own thoughts of whatever the hell he was going to do.

..I really shouldn’t have said anything at all, but there was no stopping him now.

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“You sure are desperate to figure this out, aren’t you?” He asked, but I ignored it.

“How long do you think it’ll take?”

“I dunno, man, I haven’t even started. It might take me a few hours, so just go get your dick sucked or something and come back later,” he blurted out and I chuckled.

“Yeah, right.. By who? Everyone that knows me knows by now that I’m with Riley, or seeing Riley, or.. I don’t even know what the hell we are,” I said at a slight loss, not even sure if we were anything at all.. Even my own words from my own mouth sounded as if being with Riley was a boring or bad thing.

“Are you guys even really dating if you’ve only made out a handful of times?” He pointed out, “I mean, have you taken her to dinner? Like, a romantic dinner? Or have you guys just been hanging out?”

“Our first date was dinner and drinks and stuff.. The second date was just us drinking at the dock.. All the other times after that just involved us hanging out and having fun. Nothing’s ever been extravagant or super romantic or anything,” I replied.

“Whatever you two have going on sounds like every other mild hookup that’s happened at a frat party where nothing matters and everyone’s just trying to have fun.. It doesn’t even sound like you guys are official or even an item. It just sounds like you guys are friends that make out sometimes..”

“..Yeah, I dunno.. Maybe,” I eventually agreed.

At this point, it really did just seem like we were friends that occasionally made out because we were bored.. Or maybe just because I was bored.. Or just.. I don’t know for sure anymore..

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“Look, I don’t care what you do, man, all’s I’m saying is that you have no idea how long this is going to take, you don’t even seem all that serious about Riley, anyways.. To me, it doesn’t even seem like you guys are anything official, so I don’t think you should feel bad for going out and having a little fun.. Give me a couple hours, I’m sure I’ll have something about her by tonight, then you can make up your own conclusion from whatever I find,” he seemed very sure of himself and I nodded.

“All right.. Thanks, man,” I replied and I left him to it, watching him wake up his computer and already hearing him typing away at his keyboard before I even left his bedroom. 

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I went downstairs and outside, getting into my car and driving the ten minutes it took to get to my parents house. I thought maybe my dad could help me out a little with this whole Riley situation, he usually always had good advice. I appreciated Tav’s advice, he made a lot of points that even I agreed with, but I wanted one more opinion on it before I go out and do something stupid.. I hadn’t been over to my parents place since Niko proposed to AnneMarie, so it’ll be nice popping by to see them. I’m sure they’ll be happy to see me, too, even though I usually didn’t look forward to it all that much, but that was only because my parents, mostly Pop, liked to get on my case about certain things and I hated hearing the same shit over and over again.. I guess it was still nice to see them despite the bullshit, though.

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I needed a different opinion and a different perspective. My dad’s been through this kind of stuff already, so has Pop’s, so I figured I’d get some real ‘dating’ advice from one of them because Tavish was like me and didn’t date that much, either. I liked Riley a lot and I wanted to be intimate with her, but if she’s not on the same page, or if she’s not as eager to do something like that with me, then what’s the point? I admit that I did make it seem like I wasn’t truly interested in her in front of Tavish, maybe that was a defense mechanism or something, but the truth is that I do like her, I want to do those things with her, I want her to be okay with it before we do things like that, but how long does she need? What was holding her back? I wanted to know if it was the classic “it’s not you, it’s me” bullshit, but in all truth, I really did want to know if it was her and not me.. I’d hate for me to be the reason on why she’s holding back on being intimate with me. I wanted to know if there was something I could do, something that I could change about myself in order to make myself better.. Better for her.

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When I pulled into the driveway, I only saw my dad’s car and no one else’s. Petra, Umiko and Jiro must be out with their friends and Pop must be at work. I turned my keys and the rumble of my engine stopped, getting out of my car and tucking my keys in my pocket before heading in. I was kind of glad that Pop’s wasn’t here and that I’d get a chance to talk to Dad because Pop’s would only make a huge deal about me finally seeing someone after this long, and I felt like Dad would actually let me talk, and most importantly, he’d listen. Pop’s would eventually get to that point after asking me a million questions, but I just really didn’t want to deal with that right now.

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I went inside and didn’t see anyone in the kitchen or the living room, so I went straight to my parents room and peaked in, seeing my dad lying in bed alone with his eyes shut and rubbing his face. He seemed exhausted and for a split second, I wondered if I should let him have his nap or if I should disturb him, but if he eventually found out I was here without saying hi to him, I knew he’d be a little peeved about it, so I disturbed him anyways.

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“Knock, knock,” I said softly with a smirk as I tapped my knuckles on the door frame, my dad looking up to see who was in the doorway and a bright smile riddled with love spread across his lips.

“Luca,” he said softly, standing from the bed and I met him half way and was pulled into his arms for a warm hug.

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“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you,” I spoke as I continued to hug him and he rubbed my back in a comforting manner, as if he needed a good hug and I’d stay like this for as long as he wanted to.

“Oh, don’t worry about it.. It’s so good to see you,” he answered with a long inhale and letting it out in a pleased sigh.

“Yeah, you, too,” I replied.

“What made you drop by?” He asked, eventually letting me go and looking at me with the same smile on his lips.

“I came by to see you, actually,” I answered, Dad giving me a curious face, “I wanted to ask you some advice,” I continued and a smile replaced his curious expression.

“Oh, of course. Come over here, sit down,” he invited, taking my wrist gently and pulling me over to his bed and I sat next to him.

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“I’m glad to help you with anything.. What’s bothering you?” He asked, his tone full of immense love like it always was and he put his hand on my back to give me any extra comfort that I needed.

“Well, I-” I stopped for a moment, sighing softly before I continued, “I’ve been seeing someone..”

“Oh?” He seemed surprised, very surprised, but also happy, “For how long? What’s their name?”

“Before I go any further, can you not to tell Pop? I don’t want him to make a huge deal out of this,” I asked and he nodded.

“Yes, of course. You can tell him whenever you want to, if you want to,” he answered and I felt relief.

“Thanks,” I said with a brief smirk, “Her name’s Riley, she’s a friend of AnneMarie’s, and I’ve been seeing her for a little over a month now, I think..”

“Oh, AnneMarie’s Maid of Honor, right?” He asked and I confirmed with a nod, “And what’s the problem?” Dad wondered, giving me a welcoming smile that told me I could tell him anything in the world, good or bad, and he’d always love me, but it was a hard subject to bring up. I knew he wouldn’t think less of me, but I couldn’t find the right words to say what I wanted to without sounding like a huge pig. 

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“I.. I dunno.. We just haven’t, you know.. Done stuff yet,” I implied and a chuckle came out from behind my dad’s smile as he removed his hand from my back.

“And you’re, what? Impatient? Wondering if it’s you?” He gave some examples and I nodded.

“A little of both, I guess,” I admitted softly.

“Well, it’s obviously not you, because you’re perfect in every way possible,” he assured me and I couldn’t help but roll my eyes as I smiled, “But, why are you so impatient? Do you really like her and want to show her how much you care in other ways besides dates?” He asked, but suddenly, how he worded it, made me feel.. Uncomfortable.. As if I was in love with her or something and I wanted to make love to her and just.. Ugh, God, this got so awkward so fast..

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“Ahh, jeez.. This is already getting weird,” I stood from the bed, pacing a little around his room, “It feels so weird talking to you about my sex life, I can’t do this.”

“Oh, stop it, don’t be so immature.. It’s completely natural.. It’s not like I was never your age once and wanted that kind of attention from your father, but wasn’t getting it yet,” he explained and I was mortified.

“Oh my God, you just made it so much weirder by saying that! Why did you say that?” I put my hands over my face, as if somehow rubbing my eyes would rid me of what I just heard and the images that flashed inside of my brain, but it was no use. The damage had already been done and now all I could picture were my parents going at it.

I rubbed my temples roughly as I gave myself a quick pep talk. Quick! Think other thoughts! Think other thoughts, dammit! 

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“I guess I could’ve worded that differently.. But, anyhow, come back here and sit down, I want to help you,” he continued and I shook my head.

“No way! I can’t sit in your bed now,” I refused and he scoffed.

“Oh, Jesus, Luca..”

“Can we go into the living room or something?”

“Wherever you want to tell yourself is better, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to help you, so pick some place and we’ll go there,” he encouraged, not even wanting to question what the hell he meant by that, either, but I really couldn’t sit on their bed anymore. I had to get out of their room in general or else I wouldn’t be able to think straight.

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We came to the living room, it being transformed back into one from being a dining room the last time I was here and we sat on the couch together, but I still didn’t really know where to begin talking about this kind of stuff. My conversation with Tavish was pretty eye-opening, but I wanted an outside opinion, one from my dad that knew nothing about this and could give me a different view on it solely from what I would tell him.

“So, you two haven’t done anything yet? You’ve, what, only kissed?” He began the conversation for me and I nodded.

“Yeah.. Only that.. She’s told me that she wants to do stuff like that with me, just not yet.. But, I don’t know what that means.. Like, is she waiting for me to do something in particular that will show her I’m serious about her? I just can’t stop thinking that there’s a reason she doesn’t want to do that stuff with me yet, like she’s testing me or something,” I said suspiciously, but my dad steered me in a different direction.

“Well, if she’s told you that, then it’s obviously her, not you.. Something is holding her back, but you need to be patient and just wait until she’s ready,” he replied.

“It’s just.. I’m not really used to this kind of thing. I sound stupid saying that I don’t know how to be patient, but I really don’t anymore.. I keep asking myself if she wants me to tell her I love her or some crap before we do anything serious, and I’m definitely not going to do that.. I’m nowhere near ready to do that.. Or, what if she’s a virgin and wants things to be serious before we do that stuff? I don’t know if I’m ready to have both feet in yet..”

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“First of all, yes, you are used to this kind of thing. You’re being patient whether you know it or not because you’ve lasted this long with her without being intimate. You’ve even been patient enough to wait until you found someone you actually enjoyed being around to start dating again,” he explained and I was surprised I hadn’t noticed that until he said it, “Secondly, her possibly being a virgin is none of your business,” he pointed out, “If she is, you need to ask yourself if you’re willing to wait for her to be ready. And, if she is, are you willing to eventually put both feet in in order for her to be comfortable with you, because if you wait and eventually do that with her, you can’t leave her after something like that.. Virginity is a huge deal to some people and if she is one, but wants to make sure you’re the one she wants to lose it to, then that’s her choice and you need to respect that.. If she does want to share that with you, you should feel honored that she wants you to be that person.. You might want to ‘try before you buy’ or whatever nonsense, but you shouldn’t steal and then throw it out, afterwards, you know what I mean?” He added and I nodded in understanding.

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“Let’s say she is.. Do you like her enough at this point in your guys’ relationship to wait?” He then asked and I hesitated.

“..I-I mean.. I dunno.. It sounds bad, I know, but.. Doing stuff like that is kind of important to me and if we don’t, I feel like I might get bored and I don’t want to..”

“You don’t want to get bored? So you do like her?” He said with a slight grin, as if he had successfully pried something out of me and I sighed.

“I.. Yeah.. I guess I do,” I reluctantly admitted, and for the first time, admitting it to someone other than myself.

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“Well, then there’s your answer,” he said simply, as if the answer was right in front of my face this whole time, but I just couldn’t see it yet until now, “Don’t do anything stupid and mess it up. There are plenty of other things you can do to keep yourself occupied, or satisfied, whatever you want to call it-”

“-Dad.. Gross.”

“Oh, hush, I’m just pointing out the obvious.. If you like her, then you can wait for her, virgin or not.. You’re a strong man and you know what you want, so if you want her, then do whatever you can to keep her, and don’t do anything you’ll regret later until she’s ready.. You need to hone in your ability to be patient again, Luca.. It’s been a long time since you’ve had anything serious like this, so you need to get back into the groove of things. Sleeping around might be fun, easy, uncommitted and all that, but it’s always worth it to try things out and stick to one person if you like one another enough.. Plus, you said it’s only been a month, right? A little more than a month? That’s honestly not that long to be worried about this kind of thing already,” he tried to assure me.

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“..When did you and Pop..? You know..?” I implied, not really wanting to talk about it, but I needed something to compare my situation to.

Now you’re okay with talking about that?” He said with a sly grin and I rolled my eyes.

“I’m just curious, so answer with as little detail as possible, please.. I just need some kind of time frame to go off of,” I replied and he chuckled softly.

“There is no ‘time frame’ for this kind of thing, Luca.. It depends on the couple. A month into dating, you’re father already loved me and told me he did,” I saw my dad’s smile grow warm and loving, knowing he enjoyed looking back on the past with Pop and it made me feel good to see the love he had for him written all over his face, “After he told me that, we slowly eased into those things.. I didn’t tell him I loved him until maybe four or five months into our relationship, so he had to wait a long time for that, but you know what? He was patient.. The fact that he told me he loved me so early on helped me be able to get closer to him, it helped me trust him, and it helped me be comfortable with him to eventually tell him those words, myself, when I was ready,” he expressed.

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“Damn, you held out on Pop that long?” I teased and he curled his lips as if my words left a sour taste in his mouth and he ignored my play-fun towards him.

“And to answer your question, our first time was probably two or three months into our relationship the night we first moved in together, so we did that stuff before I even told him I loved him back.. I was the one that was stand-offish at first because I had never had a serious relationship before, and I had never loved someone before I met him.. I was incredibly shy, too, so I kind of side more with Riley, on this one.. Things like that just take time for certain people. Your father is a very patient man, though, and he never rushed me or did anything that I wasn’t comfortable with. He was so patient, in fact, that I was the one that had to initiate everything first because he was so worried about making me uncomfortable, which is why it took us a while to get to the more serious things because I was nervous, maybe even a little scared, too.. Maybe Riley could be dealing with the same thing,” he offered as an explanation for Riley’s lack of intimacy with me and I nodded as I thought about it more in depth.

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“So.. If I’m patient and don’t rush her or do anything like that, she’ll give me the signs when she’s ready?”

“Well, I don’t know.. She might. I don’t know her, Luca, I’m just telling you how it went for your father and I.. But, my guess is, yes, she’ll probably just let you know when she’s ready whenever she truly is. You can’t rush her or imply that you want to do those kinds of things because it’ll just make her uncomfortable and push back whatever progress you’ve made. It will seem like you’re rushing her. I can’t say this enough, but you really do just need to practice patience and you’ll get better at it to the point where you won’t even think about this kind of stuff when you’re with her. Whenever you hang out with her, just keep your mind from wandering too far off the path, know what I mean? Enjoy her for who she is and then whenever you guys finally do something intimate, it’ll be that much more special and it’ll feel ten times better than just some quickie with a stranger,” he added and I nodded again, taking his advice to heart.

Dad put in a better perspective, too. I never really admitted to Tavish that I liked Riley, I kind of just went along with the wall I put up when it came to being serious with someone, so his advice was to mainly not take it seriously, but.. I like her more than just a friend.. I like her more than I portrayed to him than I portrayed to my dad, so the advice was miles apart and I was glad I came over to talk to him.

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“What if we don’t do anything like that for a few more months? Or a year? No matter how much I may like her, how do you wait for someone that long..?” I asked next and my dad gave me a slightly worried expression.

“Well, now you’re just making up excuses.. When you say things like that, it makes me wonder if you truly even do like her.. It just sounds like you want to get into her pants and that’s it, and if there’s no sign of that soon, you’re going to lose something that might actually be good for you because your basing all of this on just sex, which is all that it is.. Just sex,” he pointed out and my view met the floor, “You’re scared of getting hurt again, aren’t you?” He continued and I looked back up to him, “Is that why you’re making up excuses? So you can maybe leave her before she leaves you?” He continued to pry and I couldn’t help but think he was right. Maybe I’m just using sex as a means to determine if we should stay together and I know I shouldn’t do that, but I am.. I didn’t realize that that’s exactly what I was doing until he pointed it out.

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“I-I dunno.. Maybe I am just using it as an excuse.. What do you think I should do? ..Overall?” I wondered genuinely and my dad looked at me as if he was proud, in a weird way.. I think he was liking the idea of me with someone more than he portrayed vocally, or maybe he was proud that I was opening my mind a little and actually heading his word. I truly was taking his advice. As weird as it sounds, I felt like it was helping my soul recover and talking to my dad was the best decision I had made today.

“I think you should do whatever your gut is telling you to do, not what’s between your legs is telling you,” he said with a simple chuckle, “Despite the excuses, I do think you like this girl, and I think you should see where this relationship takes you.. I know first hand how bad things can get and being broken up with is the least of your worries, trust me.. You’ll bounce back if anything happens. You’re very smart and strong and everything else that’s good under the sun.. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out, and if it does, then that’s great and you’ll look back on this in the future and you’ll be glad you can say that you stuck with it. You’ll be able to say that you tried, no matter what happens,” my dad said with a smile throughout his entire answer and he lifted my spirits up so much. My conversation with Tavish made me think I should break up with her, but my conversation with my dad made me think I could make it work and he gave me the strength that I was lacking to be able to keep this going.. I’m glad I came here to talk to him.

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“Thanks, Dad.. I think that’s really what I needed to hear,” I replied with a soft grin and the smile on his lips grew warmer from my words.

“Anytime.. I’m always here for you, Luca, and you don’t ever have to be embarrassed to talk to me about these things, okay?” He assured me, standing from the couch and I stood with him, both of us simultaneously coming into one another for a hug before pulling away.

“Where’s Pop, by the way? And all the others?” I wondered.

“Oh, he’s at work, Petra’s at a job right now giving an estimate on a remodel, and Umi and Jiro are out with their friends.. I think Umi’s at the mall and Jiro’s paint-balling with some of his friends,” he replied and I nodded.

“Cool.. Well, I don’t want to keep you from resting. You actually have the house to yourself, so go back to bed and nap.. I didn’t mean to disturb you,” I implied and he scoffed.

Disturb me,” he mimicked my words in a teasing way and I smirked, “It’s all right, really.. Were you hungry or anything? Do you want me to make you something?” He asked and I smiled at his kindness and still wanting to take care of me even though I could take care of myself.. But, well, after the conversation we just had, I guess I did make it pretty clear that I couldn’t take care of myself.

“No, Dad, I’m okay.. I should be getting back home, anyways. I think Pia’s making something,” I lied, I had no idea if Pia was making dinner tonight, but I just didn’t want to burden him anymore than I had and I didn’t want him to wait on me.

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“So.. Is Riley going to be your date for Niko’s wedding then?” He changed the subject out of nowhere and I sighed heavily, “What? She’s going to be there anyways since she’s AnneMarie’s best friend, might as well go together, right?” He implied and I shrugged.

“Yeah, maybe.. I dunno.. I don’t want to think about that just yet,” I tried to avoid talking about it.

“Well, I’m only suggesting it because it might be something that she’s been thinking about, too.. And, if you want her to see that you like her and are serious about her, inviting her to be your date for a wedding is pretty romantic, actually. A little serious, but not too serious, you know?” He tried to coax me a little and I had to admit that it wasn’t that bad of an idea..

“I guess you got a point.. I’ll think about it,” I said with a tone that cancelled out this conversation immediately and he respectfully backed off.

“All right, no pressure.. Just food for thought,” he said with a soft smile.

“I’ll see ya, Dad.. Thanks again, and give my love to everyone, yeah?”

“No problem, I will. Thank you for coming to me about this, I’m glad I could help in any way possible and it was good to see you.”

“Yeah, you too, Dad.”

“I won’t keep you anymore.. I’ll see you soon, I love you,” he said with a smile and a gentle, caring squeeze of my arm.

“Love you, too,” I replied, leaving the living room and going back outside to my car so I could head home.

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When I got back home, I came upstairs to Tavish’s room and knocked, hearing him make some kind of noise and I assumed I could come in, so I did. He still sat at his computer, typing away and clicking from tab to tab and I then noticed Pia sitting on his bed.

“What are you doing in here?” I asked Pia.

“I came to his room to see if we should order a pizza or something tonight, but he refused to give me a straight answer because he was distracted, so I asked what he was doing and he told me,” Pia replied, giving me a rather annoyed look as if she was disappointed in me and I sighed.

“Why’d you tell her?” I asked Tav, but before he could answer, not that he would’ve anyhow because he was too preoccupied, Pia butted in.

“Why the hell are you making him hack into your girlfriend’s accounts and shit just to find out if she’s a virgin? That’s none of your damn business, you perv,” she scolded, using some of the same words my dad did, but in a much harsher way.

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“I’m not making him do anything, he offered,” I defended myself.

“After you asked,” Tav said under his breath and I sighed again.

“..You’re not exactly helping me here-”

“-And I didn’t tell her,” Tavish explained, “She hovered over my shoulder like a gargoyle until she figured it out herself. After she figured it out, I may have mentioned the reason why I was doing this in the first place, that’s all..”

“All right, whatever.. So what’d you find?” I asked, coming up behind him as he continued sitting.

“Gimme a second, I need to find the right tab,” he replied, watching him still looking through the tabs he had opened.

Jesus, I told you not to go overboard.. How many things did you look up on her?” I asked, a little confused and already somewhat regretting this the longer I waited.

“You could always, you know, mind your own fucking business.. You still have time to do that before geek-face tells you what he found,” Pia added.

You know, so why shouldn’t he?” Tavish said to Pia and I looked to her.

“What? You know, too?” I asked, getting frustrated, “Why’d you-” I then asked Tav, but I stopped myself, “-You know what? Never mind. I can’t have the both of you knowing something about Riley that I don’t, it’ll eat me up inside, so just fucking tell me,” I gave up, looking back to Tav’s computer.

“Ah, here-” Tav found what he was looking for, “So, from the beginning, or just straight to the point?” He asked and my heart started to race a little, knowing that once I heard this, I couldn’t un-hear it, but, fuck, I wanted to know.

“The beginning, I guess..”

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“Okay, so.. She dated this guy named Jeff for a little less than a year. Apparently from her Facebook, the things that she deleted, that is, that I managed to dig up, was that in the beginning it was nice and fun and whatever and she really liked the guy, but once it hit the six month mark, her status’s changed and she sounded a bit more depressed and stuff. I found some photos she was tagged in that have since been deleted, but I dug them up, too, and in most of them, she has bruises on her arms and legs, some on her chest and neck.. Kind of just all over the place at different times and in different photos the longer the relationship lasted, so the dude was obviously roughing her up.. So, when I figured that might be the case, I decided to go digging for police reports and stuff and I found something,” he continued, looking through a few tabs until he came across the police report he had found.

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“The night they finally broke up and she got away from him, it was a nine one one call she put in because he was going crazy on her and she managed to lock herself in the bedroom of his house that he pretty much made her stay at, got a hold of a phone and called.. The audio from it is pretty scary.. The police report was of domestic abuse and there’s pictures, but I’m not going to show you those-”

“-No.. Show me,” I demanded and Tavish looked over his shoulder at me briefly before sighing and looking through his tabs again. From the beginning of the story, I felt sad for her, but now, I was angrier than all of hell and I just couldn’t believe someone as sweet as Riley could be treated in such a manner. I just wanted an answer to a simple question, not something like this..

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“She had red hair back then, but-”

“-Yeah, that’s her,” I confirmed as I stared at the photo from the police report, her beautiful green eyes full of tears, her face bloodied and bruised and swollen, her lip cut.. What kind of a fucking scumbag would do this to a woman?

“Poor thing,” Pia said with a sad tone.

“What’s the audio? I wanna hear it,” I insisted and Tav looked at me as if I had lost my mind and was fueling the fire to my anger.

“..Are you sure?”

“Yeah, just play it,” I stressed and he seemed reluctant to do so, but he searched through his tabs again and found it after a moment of digging it back up.

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I stood there quietly as I watched the green line bounce on a black background whenever a voice could be heard. Pia stood from the bed and stood on the other side of Tavish and she looked to me with a worried brow before looking back to the computer.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” The woman asked and at first, there was just loud banging in the background and you could hear someone whimpering and crying on the other line, “Hello? Is there anyone there? Do you need any help?” The woman asked and there was a few seconds of silence.

“I-I need help,” I heard Riley’s soft, whispered, rattled tone from the other line as the banging in the background continued, my heart sinking as I imagined what Tav had told me and it must’ve been her boyfriend trying to get into the room she had locked herself in.

“Ma’am, what’s wrong?”

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“M-My boyfriend, he.. He’s hit me a few times tonight, and now he wants into the bedroom, but.. I-I’ve locked the door and he won’t leave me alone.. He’s going to get in soon,” she continued to whisper.

“Please, stay on the line, ma’am, I’m sending a unit over to your location right now,” the woman answered.

“Riley? Open the fucking door!” I heard her boyfriend’s voice in the background, along with a few more bangs on the bedroom door.

“Please, please hurry!” She stressed in a harsh whisper, hearing her continue to cry over the phone and that’s where Tavish stopped the audio. I had goosebumps on my arms.

“After that, he just keeps banging on the door and within about a minute, you can hear the sirens in the background and they manage to get to her before her boyfriend does,” Tav filled me in.

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“Jesus Christ, man,” I let out, a little rattled already from all of this and that audio made me a little sick to my stomach. Even though it had already happened and had passed, I wanted to be there and stop all of that from happening, myself.. I felt the strong need to protect her.

“Keep going?” Tav asked, looking over his shoulder again at me and I nodded.

“Yeah, keep going,” I replied, trying to find all the strength in me that I could to not drive down to Alabama, myself, and track down this piece of shit.

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“She got a restraining order against him the next day and apparently, they haven’t been in contact since, thank God.. The guy went to jail for it and a few other things, but he gets out in a year,” he added and I couldn’t comprehend all of this.. Riley was so driven and strong and the most gentle woman I’ve ever met, I really didn’t know how she could get over something like this so quickly.. Or, maybe she was just hiding how she really felt about it. If he was abusing her like this, there’s no doubt in my mind that he was most likely sexually abusing her, too, so it made complete sense on why she was so jumpy whenever I tried to touch her without her fully knowing what I was doing first.

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“Fuck.. I feel so shitty for her,” I said softly, feeling Pia’s hand touch my back and she rubbed me softly to try to give me comfort.

“..There’s more,” Tav reluctantly continued and I looked at him questionably, “That break up was about six months ago.. I went and looked for medical stuff after all of that and two months after he had gone to jail, she, uh.. She had an abortion.. Two months later, she moved here, my guess is to get away from that guy even more and as far away as possible just in case he would ever find out about it.. So, yeah, about a month after she had moved here and got settled, she started seeing you,” he finished Riley’s blast from the past and I was dumbfounded, angry, and I pitied her..

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What made it worse, however, was thinking back to what I tried to do at the dock with her and how startled and scared she was.. This was the perfect explanation as to why she acted like that and I felt like even more shit because of it.. She tried to make it less of a deal than it was, so maybe she’s over everything that happened, but maybe her body still wasn’t? Whatever the case was, I still felt like an asshole now more than I did before.

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“..I don’t even really know what to say,” I spoke softly.

“Well.. Now you know she’s not a virgin,” Tav said, though I wasn’t sure if he was throwing a joke into this mix or not.

“Not funny!” Pia scolded, smacking him in the shoulder.

“Ow! I wasn’t trying to be! ..I’m just saying, now you know.. Fuck,” he replied, rubbing his shoulder and I sighed heavily.

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“I thought this would just be something simple.. Like some little clues on her Facebook or through some emails, like dirty gossip with her friends or something that you’d come across.. But this? ..This just sucks,” I expressed with a depressed tone, “I should’ve just minded my own damn business. I can’t un-know this shit now,” I came to the conclusion and Pia gave me a dirty look.

“I tell you to do that all the time, but you never listen,” she pointed out and I glared at her for a short moment.

“This makes me feel weird, though.. You’d think after something like that, something that traumatic, she’d want nothing to do with a relationship, or even men in general, for that matter, and I wouldn’t blame her.. She seems so cool with me, though.. I don’t know how she hides this stuff so well,” I was a little perplexed, stepping over to Tav’s bed and sitting down.

“Maybe she wanted to be with someone that she already knew and someone that AnneMarie trusted.. You have a good rep, for the most part, besides all the random sex with strangers,” Pia added and I glared at her again for her comment, “Hey, you’re a good guy, and your a big guy, too. Maybe she wanted someone that she knew wouldn’t do something like her last boyfriend did, and maybe she wanted someone for, like, you know.. Protection or something?” She said with a shrug and I furrowed my brows.

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“You think she’s using me?”

“Well, no.. Not exactly.. But, maybe? ..Kind of? ..I dunno,” she shrugged and she must’ve noticed that my expression was a little hurt.

“I want her to like me, not use me-”

“-And I’m not saying she doesn’t like you, I’m just saying that if someone roughed me up, I’d either come and get you guys to beat their ass, or I’d just use excuses to be around you guys because I know I’d be safe,” she pointed out and it made a lot more sense coming from her.

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Tavish jumped in, “Maybe just take it as a compliment, even if she partly is? She feels safe enough around you, you know? Making a girl feel safe is never a bad thing,” he added and I nodded.

“Yeah, I guess so.. It’s just that, if I’m being used, I’d like to be used in every way possible, you know?” I implied and he chuckled briefly.

“Still got your mind on the important things, I see,” he said sarcastically.

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“Sorry about your girl, man, that sucks.. No one should ever treat a woman like that,” Tavish grew serious again.

“I kind of wish that AnneMarie had told me a little more about her before we got this far..”

“Why? Because she’s damaged goods and won’t have sex with you?” Pia teased and I shook my head.

“No, because I would’ve never acted the way I did around her if I had known what happened to her.. I would never have tried to touch her or anything like that, too,” I said with slight disappointment. 

“You can’t blame yourself for this shit now, there’s no way you could’ve known,” Tavish explained, “The only reason you feel this bad about it now is because you know what happened to her.. And, you know, maybe even AnneMarie doesn’t know the extent of what Riley went through..?”

“They’re best friends, AnneMarie had to of at least known about her boyfriend and what a piece of shit he was.. The abortion, she could’ve easily kept to herself, but AnneMarie should’ve warned me to be a little more patient and gentle with her or something.. Instead, I’ve made an ass out of myself more than once because I’ve been completely unaware of what she’s been through and I’m a horny piece of shit.. It just would’ve been nice to get a heads up,” I said with a shrug and he nodded in understanding.

“Yeah, I know what you mean, but, you can’t do anything about it now.. At least now you know so you don’t fuck up anymore,” he said with a smirk and I suppose he did have a good point.

“Thanks for looking into it for me, even though I still kind of regret it now.. I know how time consuming that stuff is.”

“Eh, no problem.. Only took me an hour or two, and if it’s helped you at all, then it was worth the time,” he said with a brief smirk and I smiled appreciatively. 

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“What are you going to do now? Do you want a drink or something?” Tav wondered and Pia jumped in.

“We probably should so we can trick our minds into forgetting this depressing shit,” she encouraged, though she might just be using it as an excuse to drink, and I chuckled softly. 

“Actually, yeah, I think I really do need one,” I agreed and I watched as Tav faced his computer quickly.

“Let me just close this stuff out and wipe my computer clean,” he said rather impatiently and I nodded encouragingly. 

“So, what are you going to do when you see her next?” Pia brought up, making conversation as we waited for Tavish.

“I don’t know.. I guess just act like things are completely normal. I mean, I’ll have to, because if she ever found out I fuckin’ spied on her, then there’s no doubt in my mind that she’d break up with me. I just gotta be careful and watch what I say, and especially watch my fuckin’ hands, because I couldn’t stand myself if I tried anything with her and scared her again, especially after now knowing what I know about her. I’m a scumbag, in my own right, but not that much of one,” I burned myself.

“You’re not a scumbag, her ex is a fucking scumbag. You’re completely different breeds. He’s an abusive piece of garbage and you’re a slut. Big difference,” she teased and I chuckled, “Well, you’re not a slut anymore, I should say,” she added and I smiled, needing to agree with her since I haven’t fucked anyone since I met Riley and I had to admit I was little proud of that.. I guess my dad was right, I still do have the ability to be patient.

“All right, done.. Let’s go get shit faced,” Tavish announced when he was finished and we all went downstairs to the kitchen to make some stiff drinks.

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Even though I made it seem like I was a dog with a permanent bone, I’d like to think there was more to me than that. A small part of me still wanted to be intimate with Riley, but now, after hearing what I heard from Tavish and heading my dad’s advice, that was the last thing on my mind. My dad told me to enjoy her for who she is and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to try my hardest to not pressure her, I’m going to try my best to treat her as well as I possibly can, and I’m going to go out of my way to give her what she deserves.

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I wasn’t going to do this just because I felt sorry for her, either, I was going to do this because I cared about her and I was going to do this because she deserves to be happy and I want to be the one that makes her feel that way. I want to make her smile and I want to tell her how beautiful she is until she finally believes it and doesn’t tell me to stop saying it. I want to do so much for her that it made my heart race with nervousness while also making me weirdly excited.. I haven’t felt like this in a long time. 

..It feels kind of nice.

Generation 5, Chapter 4

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I can be pretty competitive. It depends on what it is, who’s around and if there’s a prize at the end, but even a friendly soccer game between my brothers and my friends can get a little.. Out of hand at times.. But, hopefully today, we can keep it together and avoid a fight at the end. The fights, if any, are usually between August and someone else, but I’m hoping that he can keep his cool today.

This is the first time we’ve hung out ever since I went over to his place last week, but so far he hasn’t mentioned anything about it, so neither have I. Even if I wanted to help him out of the situation he was in with Dad, I still had no idea how to do it, so for now, I think I’ll try to mind my own business like Tavish told me I should do from the beginning.. At least just until it gets out of hand, if it ever does. But, enough about that.. Today was about having a friendly game of soccer and that’s exactly what I intended this game to be. Friendly.

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Our games tended to draw in a small crowd sometimes and even though it was mostly made up of our girlfriends or friends, there were some strangers that would see the game and stop by just to watch for a little while, but for now, the stands were empty. Our games tend to be pretty entertaining, though. Not only did all of our competitive natures come out during these games, but also our athletic abilities and the games can get pretty rough at times. I got kicked in the face once, if you can believe that. We tend to pull off some pretty risky moves that could cause a sprain or even a broken bone, but that’s what made them so fun. Of course, we tried to avoid these things, but.. Accidents do happen.

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I was one of the strongest players, so was August, Pia and Tavish, but everyone else in the game was pretty good, too. Pia could definitely hang with the boys, but she was best at being a goalie and could block any shot that came to her. Tavish was usually always my backup to make goals, and I, his. Anthony and Ian were friends of mine and they attended the games religiously. Then there was Jiro, the one that was the baby of the game and was able to play only because he was my little brother, and mostly because he talked to Dad and Pop about it.. Even though I’ve told him to buzz off, our parents were able to convince me to be nice and let him play.

Niko was back in town solely for the game, which most of the time he can’t make because of school, but since it was the weekend and he didn’t have class or any assignments to turn in for a few days, him and AnneMarie drove out here. I loved seeing Niko and I wished I could see him more often, but the seldom times I did get to see him were that much more enjoyable. I was actually pretty fortunate to be able to see him twice in the past two weeks.

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“Are we playing football rules this time, or no?” Ian asked in the circle we had made, discussing the rules. Sometimes we played tackle rules where anyone that’s on your side of the field with the ball on the opposing team can get tackled by whoever is closest to them, so you gotta be fast if you want to score that goal.

“Nah, we did that last time. And Jiro almost got his elbow broken because Anthony tackled him so hard,” I replied with a smirk and Jiro rolled his eyes.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Jiro tried to brush off and Anthony laughed as he punched Jiro’s arm playfully.

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“You almost cried, little dude!”

“No I didn’t!” Jiro defended himself, but we all knew that he really did almost cry and he tried his absolute hardest not to let a single tear fall from his eye so he wouldn’t get made fun of.

“The next time that rule is in play, though, and we’re on opposite teams, you better watch out, kid,” Anthony poked fun at him and the group gave mixed laughs and chuckles as Jiro stood there a pouted.

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“All right,” I added, bringing the conversation back to the game, “So, no football rules, just normal play. Everyone know their teams?” I asked and everyone nodded, “Cool. Well, let’s do this, and try to avoid being dicks to each other so we can avoid a fight.. August,” I singled him out and he mockingly gave a fake laugh before we all separated and went to our designated spots.

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So far in the stands were only AnneMarie and Lien.. Dad and Pop sometimes came by to watch the games, but they weren’t here yet and I wasn’t sure if they were coming or not. I hoped they would. It was always nice seeing them on the sidelines whenever we were on a team of some sort in school when we were all little, so seeing them still come to our games now, even just-for-fun games, meant a lot.. But, then again, it was the weekend and all the kids were out of the house, which usually meant they enjoyed their alone time to do things that I didn’t dare even try to waste my time thinking about. They deserve these short breaks with one another after raising six kids, so I could safely assume they weren’t going to show up.

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I started the game off with August, AnneMarie coming to the middle of the field to drop the ball in to begin it all.

“I want a clean game, boys. No rough housin’ and be nice to one another. Ya’ll seem to forget sometimes that it’s a game just for fun and ya’ll are friends,” she instructed and I chuckled.

“You got it, sweetheart,” I replied.

“Can’t make any promises, but I’ll try,” August added and AnneMarie readied herself, holding the ball out and ready to drop it, though also standing in a way where she was ready to run, knowing August and I are rough players and she needed to get out of the way as fast as she could.

“..Okay, ready? Andddd… Go!” She called out, dropping the ball and running as fast as she could off of the field.

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August and I fought only a second for the ball, but I quickly got it from him and kicked it to Tavish who was already heading for their goal. Anthony was trying his best to get it from him and he eventually did before Niko could get close enough to take a shot, using a powerful kick of his to get it across the field and away from our goal. Tavish jumped to use his chest to stop it and he brought it back to the middle, more than ready to be the first team to get a point and I was right there with him. Even with only four people on a team, our games were still played at a very quick pace and taken just as seriously as a professional team, though I guess there was a little more leniency when it came to ours since we were all friends and family. Either way, it was still a blast every time because everyone always put in their best effort, aggressive or not.

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I ran towards their goal and Tavish managed to launch the ball straight at me, jumping up to chest the ball like he had done to gain control of it and the second that it hit the ground, I kicked it hard into the goal straight passed Anthony and Ian and my team cheered.

“Fuck yeah, Luca!” Tavish called out.

“Woo! Already off to a good start!” Pia added from our goal and I went back to my side of the field, more than ready to do that again.

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“Nice job, man,” Niko complimented and I grinned.

“Why, thank you. Why don’t you take this next one, try and impress your lady?” I implied and he smiled.

“I’ll try.. I’m not as good as you three, though,” he said modestly, but he was just as competitive as the rest of us, just way less aggressive and the only one that actually tried to avoid hurting anyone the most out of all of us. If he could be goalie every game, he would, but one of the rules was that if you were goalie the last half of the last game, you couldn’t be the goalie again in the first half of the next. It was just to keep things interesting and to mix up the game a little.. Keep things fair, for the most part.

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A quarter of the way through the game, the score was already three to two and our team was winning thanks to those two goals being mine and one to Tav, and although August’s team was sticking close with us and it was hard to keep ahead of them in score for very long, we still managed to keep our team ahead. Every game, we played until one team got to ten goals and even though that seemed like a lot, if we made the score any lower, our games wouldn’t last long and we all wanted to make these monthly games worth it. We all liked making a day out of them and some of us even treated them like a vacation day because some of us had to work all the time or be at school all the time, so these games were a nice get away.

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Half way through the game, I switched out with Pia, standing in front of the goal and watching the game play out in front of me, but when I noticed a head full of shiny, eye catching silver hair, I lost my focus on the ball and stared.

..Riley came?

Damn.. AnneMarie must’ve invited her..

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As she scanned the field, I looked back towards the game to make it seem as if I hadn’t noticed her yet, but out of the corner of my eye, I could tell she noticed me. When she assumed I hadn’t seen her yet and I refused to look directly at her, she then stepped over towards AnneMarie and they hugged, then sat down together to watch the game. I don’t usually get nervous about this kind of stuff and even though I didn’t think there was anything between us anymore, I hated that I still had a strong urge to impress her. 

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“Luca, heads up!” I heard Niko yell and I looked to the field to see Jiro coming in and kicking the ball straight at the goal, but right before it was too late to catch it, I stopped it from going in by catching it before it devastated my face.

“Ha-HA!” I said cheerfully.

“Aww, man!” Jiro whined.

“You almost made it, it was a good try, bro,” I reassured him, but he still pouted.

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“Why are you the goalie? Why can’t Pia still be the goalie?” He asked and I tossed the ball at his chest roughly, Jiro letting out a sound of mild pain and the ball bounced off of him and I caught it again.

“Ow! What the fuck?!” He let out as he tried to catch his breath.

She would’ve been able to stop that and not have taken it like a bitch, so you wouldn’t have scored, anyways.. Plus, you know our rules, we switch out half way through, so deal with it or don’t play,” I pointed out with a smirk.

“Whatever,” he replied as he rubbed his chest.

“Stop complaining and go away. We still got a game to play and the goal isn’t to bitch and moan all the time,” I instructed and he grimaced at me before jogging away from the goal and I kicked the ball back into play, launching it across the field.

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The rest of the game was rough.. With me taking over as goalie for the last half of the game, I wasn’t even doing a good job at it since I couldn’t stop thinking about Riley and glancing over towards her.

Goal. Goal. Goal.

I don’t know how they were getting passed me, but they were, and I could tell everyone was getting a little frustrated with me. But, Riley was so distracting, especially in the outfit she wore. It was a simple outfit, not even all that revealing, but the memory of what she wore around me last weekend was still engraved into my mind and I knew a lot of what the clothes she wore now were hiding. I haven’t been with anyone in the week I haven’t seen her, which is something that was even surprising to me, but the build up without any release was starting to kill me inside and even a gentle breeze that would blow passed me and up my shorts made me hard. 

Fuck, I need to get laid.

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“Time out!” Pia yelled and I snapped back into the game instead of daydreaming about Riley.

“Why a time out?” I asked as Pia, Tavish and Niko came over to me.

“Luca, where the fuck is your head right now?” Tavish asked, ” It’s nine to six. They’re ahead by three points and it’s because you keep letting them score. They only need one more goal to win.”

“I think that’s the reason,” Niko pointed out, nodding his head over towards Riley. Tavish and Pia looked towards where he had gestured and slowly, they both smirked and looked to me.

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“Oooooh, that explains it. Now I’m going to be distracted, too.. She’s super hot,” Pia replied and Tavish chuckled.

“Makes a lot more sense now,” he teased and I scoffed.

What? I didn’t even know she was here,” I tried to defend myself and Niko laughed.

“You’ve been looking at her ever since she got here,” he continued to call out exactly what I’ve been doing, but I ignored it.

“What are you doing watching me and not the game, huh? You’re as much of the reason why we’re losing as I am. Let’s just finish this game so I can get out of here,” I expressed in annoyance.

“And where do you have to be?” Pia asked defensively, as if she knew I had nothing to do, and since she was right, I stuttered for a split second.

“N-None of your business,” I replied with a rather childish tone and Pia laughed at me as they all went back to their places on the field. 

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This time, I was focusing, or at least I was focusing a little better than I was a few seconds ago. I still glanced over at Riley a few times, but I didn’t nearly stare as long as I had been and I gave equal attention to her and the ball. Tavish was fighting August for the ball, but August soon prevailed and came straight for me and the goal. Pia and Niko tried to stop him, but Ian and Anthony helped clear him a path by blocking them off and when August was about twenty feet from the goal, he completely psyched me out. He acted as if he was going left and so did I, but when I noticed he was faking me out and going right instead, it was too late. I slipped on the grass trying to fix my error and the ball flew passed me, brushing against the tip of my middle finger and straight into the goal. 

“Dammit..” I let out in defeat as I continued to lie on the ground and August cheered for himself and his team and their victory.

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Tavish, Pia and Niko came over to me and looked down at me on the ground.

“I’m sorry,” I said with a large sigh.

“It’s no big deal, you were really close at stopping it. Augie’s really good at those fake out’s, that’s all,” Niko said with a warm smile.

“Yeah, I know. I noticed what he was doing too late and I fucked up,” I continued.

“Well, now that the game’s over, you can go and do whatever it is that was so important,” Pia teased and I chuckled, Niko holding out his hand, wanting to help me up from the ground and I accepted it, standing to my feet.

“Good game, guys. Next month I’ll do better,” I replied, grabbing the ball from the goal and walking over to the bench I had left my bag on.

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As I packed up a few of my things, Niko and AnneMarie came over to me to say goodbye.

“Well, we’re headed out,” Niko began and I zipped up my bag before looking to him.

“Always good seeing you, bro. Until next month, yeah?”

“Yup, until then.”

“And don’t forget about me. You can call me from time to time, you know.. We still have to discuss when you kids are getting married so I know when to plan the bachelor party,” I said with a grin and Niko smiled.

“Don’t worry, I’ll call you soon to keep in touch. And AnneMarie and I still have to talk about a date, so I’ll get back to you on the whole bachelor party thing,” he answered and I nodded.

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“AnneMarie.. Always good to see you,” I added and she came in for a hug.

“Likewise, Luca,” she replied, but hesitated a moment after our hug ended, “You know.. Riley said that your guys’ date went well, but she hasn’t heard from you since. Is she wrong in thinkin’ it went okay?” She asked and I sighed softly.

“N-No, it, uh.. It did go good, I just haven’t had a chance to call her again,” I lied, “I had a few appointments during the week and I’ve been a little exhausted, that’s all.”

“Oh, well, you should tell her that, because she’s gettin’ that feelin’ again like you’re not interested,” she pointed out.

“She still is?” I asked and she nodded.

“Of course she is! I talked to her the day after and she said she had a great time and couldn’t wait for another date,” she explained and I was surprised.

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“..She said that?”

“Yeah! What, did ya think she wasn’t interested anymore after that date?” She asked and eventually, I admitted it.

“Well, yeah, kind of..”

“You two really need to learn to communicate better,” she said jokingly, “Both of you are feelin’ the same thing when both of you couldn’t be more wrong.. Talk to her, you’ll see,” she advised and I nodded in agreement.

“I will.. Thanks.”

“See ya, Luca,” Niko said with a smile and AnneMarie gave me a smile, as well, before they both walked away to the parking lot.

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Tavish and Pia came over to me after everyone else had gone, though Riley was still sitting on the bleachers not too far from me, waiting for me, no doubt.

“Hey, we’re gunna go grab some drinks. Do you and your sexy lady friend wanna come with?” Pia teased and I smirked.

“Not now. I’m going to sit here for a bit and talk with her. Maybe we’ll meet you guys there later, just text me and let me know where you two end up,” I replied and she nodded.

“Want me to take your stuff home so you don’t have to worry about it?” Tavish offered and I smiled.

“Thanks, man, but I got it.”

“All right. I hope you meet up with us later,” he answered.

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“You better come out, it’ll be fun!” Pia added and Tavish wasn’t expecting her to jump onto his back for a piggy back ride, but he caught her after a second of catching on.

“I’ll see what she wants to do. Maybe I’ll see you guys later,” I answered and Tavish carried Pia back to his car.

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Well, the moment I was nervous about was finally here, but, what made me a little less nervous about talking to Riley was what AnneMarie had told me. I shouldn’t have assumed everything went to shit after I had left Riley’s house and I shouldn’t have avoided talking to her and just found out for myself what she thought of the date.. I need to get it through my thick skull that it was a date, not something that was only meant to last a night and getting turned down for something as serious as sex on the first date really wasn’t out of the ordinary. 

I threw on a clean backup shirt I pulled out of my bag and left my stuff on the bench, taking a deep breath as I looked over at Riley and finally walked over to her.

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“Hey,” I began and she looked up at me.

“Hi,” she said softly, a smile on her lips.

“Can I sit?” I gestured towards the seat and she nodded.

“Of course,” she answered and I smirked nervously as I then sat down next to her.

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“How’d you like the game?” I started the conversation with something less interesting than what we should really be talking about.. Us.

“Well, from what I saw, it was pretty excitin’. Your brothers and friends are all pretty competitive. I thought you’d be just the same, but you seemed pretty laid back standin’ in front of the goal,” she pointed out and I assumed she only saw the second half of the game where I was too distracted by her to do good anymore.. I usually always aimed to impress when I had the chance to, but my performance in the last half was anything but impressive.

“Yeah, well.. I wasn’t really into playing this one, I guess. I don’t like being goalie, so I don’t try as hard as I should,” I made up an excuse and she nodded in understanding. 

“I never knew you had such a big tattoo, as well. I only noticed the one on your arm last weekend, but you had your chest hidden. I was a bit surprised when I saw it. Didn’t know it was you at first,” she brought up, still holding a smile on her lips.

“You don’t like chest pieces?”

“No, no, I’m ain’t sayin’ that. I’m just sayin’ that I was surprised, that’s all. It seemed interestin’, but you were too far away on the field, I couldn’t tell what it was of..”

“Well, maybe I’ll give you a close up of it someday,” I couldn’t help but flirt, seeing her cheeks flush a soft pink and her view went to the grass in front of her. I’ve heard that remark from a lot of different women already, it was a good ‘in’ for them to flirt with me, but in my reply, I’d usually switch the word ‘someday’ with the word ‘tonight’. The reply I gave to Riley was out of my control and it just rolled off of my tongue, I don’t think I could’ve held it back even if I wanted to.

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“So.. AnneMarie tells me that you had fun on our date,” I began and she nodded as she continued to look down at the grass.

“I did, yes.. But, by how I hadn’t heard from you, I didn’t think you did.. Am I wrong?” She asked, looking up from the grass over to me.

“Yeah.. I had fun, too,” I replied, seeing her smile grow warmer and I couldn’t help but smile, as well, by how pleased she seemed to hear me say that.. But, I felt as if I should tell her the truth on why I hadn’t called her sooner.

“Look, I, uh.. I’ll be honest. I didn’t think you were interested because I might’ve been too aggressive and I wanted to apologize for that,” I said truthfully and her cheeks went a slight pink again as her eyes went right back to the ground.

“Oh, Luca, you don’t need to apologize-”

“-No, I do.. I don’t really date, like, at all, and it’s been a really, really long time since I ever even considered dating again. I’m used to, uhm, different company that doesn’t involve anything serious later on, so.. I, uhm.. Well, the truth is.. I was really bummed getting turned down that night. So much to the point where I overthought everything and assumed you didn’t like me as much as I thought you did.. Usually my behavior is welcomed, but when you told me to stop, it just.. Caught me off guard, I guess,” I explained. 

“So, you worked hard with no reward.. You ain’t used to bein’ turned down, is that what you’re sayin’?”

“More or less.. Yeah,” I admitted in slight embarrassment.

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“Well, thank you for tellin’ me that and I appreciate the honesty, but just because I turn you down doesn’t mean I don’t like you, and just because you told me that, doesn’t mean I won’t turn you down in the future, too, if you try anythin’ again that I ain’t ready for. I’m not goin’ to pity you just because you’re sad you didn’t get laid and I don’t feel guilt when turnin’ a man down,” she said with a grin and I chuckled. I actually admired that and it make me like her more.

“Understood.”

“And, since we’re bein’ honest.. I thought that you weren’t interested anymore because I turned you down. When AnneMarie invited me to the game today, I had already convinced myself you were just some kinda pig, but I decided to come anyways and when I saw you on the field, I didn’t think that was the truth anymore. I was nervous to see you and a little angry, but, I figured I owed it to myself to talk to you and see where things might’ve gone wrong before tryin’ to get you outta my head, so I came.. You actually played well in the first half,” she admitted and I loved everything that she had said, warmed by her words, even the insults.. It told me that even though she had some bad thoughts about me, I was still on her mind.

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“..So, you did see the first half of the game?” I asked and she nodded.

“I did,” she said with a sly smirk as she looked at me, “Please, tell me if I’m wrong, but I wasn’t the one that made you laid back during the second half, was I?” She put emphasis on her words, knowing that what she really meant was to say ‘distracted’ and I chuckled.

“And if I said you were?” I asked with my own sly grin and she giggled softly.

“Then I’d be awfully flattered, although I’d feel bad, too, since I’m pretty much the reason why your team lost today,” she replied and I shook my head, disagreeing with her.

“Well, you were right. I was distracted by you, but no, I’m the reason we lost today, not you. I’m even a little surprised the game didn’t come to an overall standstill when you walked up,” I complimented, my eyes traveling down her body as she faced towards the ground again with pink cheeks and a smile on her lips.

“I’ve thought about you every day since last Saturday, you know,” I spoke quietly only to her even though there was no one else around to hear me. 

“You have?”

“Mhm..”

“What about me?” She challenged and I snickered.

“I don’t think you’d like me anymore if I told you,” I replied and she laughed softly.

“And just what does that mean, huh?” She asked.

“Only good things, don’t worry.. And you can’t act so surprised, I was laying it on you pretty hard that night and you looked so gorgeous.. How could I not think of you?” I added and she let out a slightly nervous laugh, “And you can’t even act like you haven’t thought about me every day since, too, right?” I asked back with words abundant in self esteem and she smiled.

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“And what if I say I hadn’t?” She wondered and I put my hand over my heart.

“Damn, babe.. That hurts,” I said with a fake, pained expression and she giggled again.

“Fine. Maybe I had thought of you every day, but with each day you went without talking to me, the thoughts got meaner,” she admitted and I laughed.

“I guess I deserve that.. But, the phone goes both ways, you know,” I pointed out and she slowly began to nod.

“..You’re right. Let’s just both admit we messed up and leave it at that,” she concluded, looking over at me with a sweet smile.

“Sounds fair,” I answered, observing her prepossessing skin of her legs that shined in the sun, her alluring hair and enchanting green eyes that shined just the same, and I noticed all over again how completely beautiful she was.

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“My roommates are going out for a drink.. They invited me along and want me to bring you.. You interested?” I asked and she nodded almost immediately.

“I’d love to.. Are your roommates the ones that were playin’ soccer with earlier?”

“Yeah, Tavish and Pia,” I replied and she seemed a little confused at first.

“Oh.. From your team? I assumed one of the boys from the other team, but.. You live with a woman?” She seemed a little concerned, but I didn’t blame her since she didn’t know Pia.

“Don’t worry, we’ve been best friends since freshman year of high school and she’s like a sister to me. Even if she wasn’t, I don’t have the right stuff between my legs. I guarantee she finds you way more attractive than she finds me,” I pointed out and she gave a rather surprised smile. 

“Oh. Well, that’s a little relief then,” she answered and we both stood from the bleachers to walk back to my car.

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“..Isn’t it a little too early into this for you to be getting jealous already?” I asked with a sly grin, nudging her playfully and she scoffed.

“I am not jealous. And why would I be? This is only our second time hanging out.. We aren’t even that serious yet,” she pointed out and I kind of liked how she used the word ‘yet’.

“So, you’re dating other people while trying things out with me?” I asked and she looked at me as if I had insulted her.

“Oh my Lord, of course not! Didn’t AnneMarie already tell you that I don’t know anyone ’round here? I only know you, her, your family and a few clients from the salon, that’s it.. I’m there so much during the week that I don’t have time to go out, and when I do, it’s on the weekends and I usually just stay home.”

“Or go out with me,” I added with another grin and a proud nudge and she smiled.

“..For the past two weekends, yes.”

“Well, then hopefully we can have as much fun tonight as we did before so I can see you again next weekend. And of course, if you can’t wait until then, just call me and I’ll come right over. I’m sure we can think of something fun to do,” I teased and she giggled.

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“I think our ideas of fun, at the moment, are wildly different,” Riley joked back, stopping at the passengers side of my car and I stopped with her.

“All right, then give me some examples,” I requested and she thought for a moment.

“Hmm.. Mini golfin’, goin’ to the beach and swimmin’.. Snorkelin’ and maybe even fishin’,” she named a few things.

“That’s all you got? What are we doing, going on a vacation with our parents?” I teased again and she smiled as she shoved my arm playfully, “Hey! What’s that for?”

“Don’t you be makin’ fun of the things I like! Besides, I’m almost afraid to ask what your kind of fun is,” she said humorously and I stepped closer to her.

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“I’d be more than happy to show you,” I spoke smoothly, looking down at her lips briefly before looking back up to her eyes.

“I think I’d let the suspense kill me before I’d agree to that,” she replied, not going for any of my flirting or advances and she really did seem to have her do’s and don’t in order. This ‘hard to get’ game she was playing was killing me, but.. For some reason, I really liked it.

“Mind if we stop at my place so I can take a quick shower? I feel like I smell and should change,” I wondered with a soft laugh, “And I won’t even joke and ask if you want to join me.. Of course, unless you want to, then feel free,” I continued and she looked at me with smirk, though her eyes were scolding me.

“You can shower, but I’m definitely not joinin’ you,” she replied and I laughed, Riley putting her hand to my chest and giving me a gentle push so she could open the passenger side door to get in my car. A smile was cemented on my lips as I walked around my car and tossed my bag in the back, getting in, revving up the engine and driving us back to my place.

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When we got to my house, Riley and I got out of my car and walked up the steps.

“You live here?” She seemed skeptical.

“Yeah.”

“It’s huge..?” She added with surprise and I chuckled.

“Well, it wasn’t always a house. It used to be a law firm or something run by this guy and his two sons, but when they left, we all pitched in and bought it from them ’cause it was pretty cheap. We fixed it up a little and with a lot of help from my savings, it turned into this,” I explained as we approached the door, taking out my keys and unlocking it.

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“It looks amazin’. You guys did a great job,” she complimented as she looked around after we came inside.

“Thanks.. Tavish and I added a few walls to help separate the place, although this is mostly Pia’s work as far as decorating. A woman’s touch is one of the best things in this world, wouldn’t you say?” I asked, shooting her a quick grin and she rolled her eyes with a smile.

“Go take your shower,” she brushed off my comment and I chuckled as I began walking upstairs.

“Fine, I’m goin’.. Make yourself at home, I’ll be back in ten minutes,” I answered and she gave me a quick smile before giving herself a tour of the place as I went up to the bathroom.

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I quickly rid myself of my clothes, cleaning my hair and my body hastily under the water so I had time for some relief after today. No matter how much or how little I flirted with Riley and got nothing in return, not being able to have her was beginning to build up and although I’ve taken care of myself during the week without seeing her, seeing her today made it build up all over again. Normally by now I would’ve gotten off with a handful of women, but I couldn’t do that when Riley was the only one that clouded my mind and no one else would do. Instead of seeking relief with someone else while thinking of her, I started taking care of things myself. It just seemed easier that way.

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Getting hard was no problem since all day today I’ve been trying to fight it back and the warm water with the help of Riley’s lips and body on my mind instantly got me there. I shut my eyes and took a hold of myself, stroking slowly at first as I thought about Riley lying on my bed completely naked, starting at her mouth and imagining her biting her bottom lip in anticipation to my touch. Begging for it. Her neck, her bare shoulders, her clavicle, her breasts that lay so perfectly as I knelt on my bed before her. Her tight, lean, soft stomach. Long, smooth legs that I spread open myself to reveal her tight, moist warmth that I can barely wait to dive into. I imagine myself falling over her, my lips going straight to hers and I kiss her hard as I guide myself into her using only my hips’ sense of direction and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I knew exactly where I’m going and how to get there. I’ve had too much practice to not know exactly what my hips needed to do and I didn’t need guidance by anything else.

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How I imagine what she might feel like inside makes me breathe harder, makes me stroke faster. I plant my hand on the shower wall for leverage as I continue to shut my eyes tightly and think of Riley and how hard and fast I wanted to thrust into her. She’s panting. Moaning. Saying my name. Clenching the bed sheet under her. The warm water from the shower with the help of my clenched hand painted me a perfect picture in my mind of what she might feel like and the harder I went in my mind, the closer and closer I got to coming against the tile wall. 

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“Ahh, fuck, just a little more,” I told myself just above a whisper in a slightly desperate tone, now going full force at my thoughts and fucking Riley silly until I imagined her telling me she was close to coming. I squeezed myself a little harder to imitate the feel of her insides tightening from reaching her climax and with a few more rough strokes, I came against the tile wall of the shower and I hummed a long moan at the intense feeling of my own release.

God damn, did I need that. Knowing she was here in the house, too, made it a little more exciting.

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I panted heavily as I stood in the shower, finally opening my eyes as I now put both of my hands against the wall to hold myself up and I watched as the evidence of my release was slowly washed away from the hot water that continued to pour over me. After it was all gone, I finally was able to stand normally and support myself on my own two legs without the need of the wall, reaching up to pull my hair back and let the water wash over me for one last minute before turning the faucet off and stepping out.

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After rubbing down my hair a little and drying some of my body, I wrapped the towel around me and walked out of the bathroom, but I stopped in the hallway when I noticed my door was open. Riley was brave enough to venture into my room without asking? She better be wearing next to nothing and lying on my bed if she thinks she can just barge into my room like that.. I know I told her to make herself at home, but.. Really? She went as far as my bedroom?

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I stepped up to the open door and looked in, seeing her looking out my window closest to my bed and I leaned against the frame of the door as I watched her.

“You really took ‘make yourself at home’ pretty literally, I see,” I spoke and she turned around quickly.

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“Oh, I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to invade your space or anythin’.. I was just kind of curious about what your room looked like,” she replied, seeing her eyeing my body for a moment before turning her attention to the ground.

“How’d you know this was my room?”

“It smelled like your cologne,” she replied and I was a little flattered by the fact that she had memorized it already.

“You got a good nose,” I complimented with a smile and she looked back up to me with a smirk on her lips.

“How was your shower?” She wondered and I stepped up to my dresser.

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“Very relaxing,” I put simply, undoing my towel and letting it drop to the floor.

“Ah! Luca! Why did you do that?!” She exclaimed in a panic and I looked over my shoulder to see her covering her eyes.

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“Do what?”

“Drop the towel!”

“Hey, this is my room. If you’re going to invade my space, you best be ready for what I like to do in it, and what I like, is to get comfortable enough after my shower to change into my clothes. I can’t get dressed with my towel still on, now can I?” I put simply and she still seemed rattled.

“You couldn’t have asked me to leave?!”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

“J-Just.. Just put some clothes on, please!” She requested and I simply turned around and leaned against my dresser.

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“All right, all right.. There.. You can look now,” I replied and she dropped her hands, but instead of seeing what she expected to, I gave her a full frontal and she gasped.

“Oh, my God! LUCA!” She exclaimed again and I laughed as she put her hands back over her eyes and turned around as fast as she could, “What the hell?!” She asked and I continued to laugh.

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“Hey, I warned you.. My space, sweetheart. Don’t be surprised by anything I do, you asked for it by coming in here,” I continued to justify my actions.

“So this is what you do in your ‘space’? You flash women your genitals?”

“That’s usually what happens if there’s a woman in my room, yeah,” I agreed with a slight attitude, “But, most of the time the lack of clothes I have on is more expected and welcomed rather than shocking.. Although, no, some women have been pretty shocked, actually, when I drop my pants.. It’s a compliment, really, so I guess I should thank you for your reaction,” I said with a grin, turning back to my dresser and picking out some clothes to wear for real this time.

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“You’re unbelievable.. I can’t believe you just did that..”

“Did you like what you saw?” I asked with an ego that my room could barely contain and she scoffed.

“You’re a jerk, you know that?” She expressed with a little annoyance in her tone.

“What? How?” I asked, perplexed by her words as I slid a pair of underwear up my legs and secured them around my hips.

“Just because,” she answered and I chuckled as I slid a pair of pants on next, then threw a plain shirt.

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I stepped over towards her and stopped an arms length away, “You can look now, no more surprises,” I assured her, but she didn’t budge.

“I don’t believe you,” she replied with a stern tone.

“I promise.. You can even kick me in the nuts if I’m lying. Free shot,” I offered and I heard the tiniest giggle from her that I assumed she probably didn’t want or expect me to hear.

“I wouldn’t do that.. I’d leave and never come back, that’s what I’d do,” she threatened, but I knew she was bluffing.

“Okay, fine, do whatever you want. Just turn around, please?” I answered.

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Riley ever-so-slowly looking over her shoulder, removing her hands from over her eyes and she looked me up and down quickly, seeing that I was telling the truth. 

“See? I don’t break promises,” I added and I wasn’t sure if she was acting angry despite hearing her giggle a little just moments ago, or if she was actually a little angry with me now.

I stepped closer to her, closing the gap between us and I reached to touch her hips, expecting to be pushed away, but surprisingly, I wasn’t.

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“Hey.. I’m sorry, okay? A lot of the time, I don’t think before I do things,” I apologized with a slight smirk, slowly wrapping my arms around her.

“Well, maybe you should start usin’ that brain a’yours a little more often when I’m around,” she scolded and even her angry face couldn’t get me to stop smiling.

“I kinda like when you’re angry.. You pucker up your lips a little like you just ate something sour,” I pointed out and her cheeks turned a light pink.

“I do not,” she defended and I laughed softly.

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“Yes, you do, and it’s adorable,” I complimented, pulling her in a little more and pressing my lips against her cheek that lasted only a few seconds, “You ready to go?” I wondered and she nodded with a smile, pulling herself from my grasp and I followed her out of my bedroom and back outside to my car.

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As I drove Riley and myself to meet up with Pia and Tavish, I kept glancing over towards Riley, seeing how relaxed she was in my car like she was already used to it. Legs crossed, arms and hands limp, her face relaxed as her eyes scanned both things close and far away, as if not wanting to miss a single inch of anything. My favorite, however, was watching her hair be tousled around by the wind that blew into the car and there wasn’t a single inhale I took in that didn’t have her scent all over it. I enjoyed how she looked at the world with such a sense of wonder and amazement and not as if she were bored seeing palm trees over and over again. 

“The trees and the ocean are my favorite,” she spoke softly, turning her head towards me and giving me a quick smirk before looking back out the window.

“You’ve never see a palm tree or the water?” I somewhat joked and she looked back over to me.

“Well, I saw the water when I was a little girl. My mom once drove me down to Mobile Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, so I saw the water, but palm trees don’t grow down there. So, I guess, yeah, I’ve never seen a palm tree before I moved here, and I absolutely love them,” she continued, keeping the smirk on her face the entire time she talked and it was easy to see that she really did genuinely enjoy her choice in moving here.

Suddenly, I didn’t want to go to the party anymore. For the first time in a long, long while, I actually wanted to, well.. Just talk.

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“Change of plans,” I announced, taking a turn down a different road when I was meant to keep going straight.

“Where are we goin’?” She asked with the same smirk on her lips, curiosity evident in her brows.

“It’s a surprise.. Do you want me to tell you where, or can you trust me?” I asked, giving her a quick grin and she gave me a suspicious smile.

“If it’s anything like the surprise you gave me in your bedroom, then no,” she replied and I laughed.

“No, no, nothing like that.”

“Well, all right then,” she agreed, putting her view back out the window and I kept my excited grin as I continued down the road of changed plans. 

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Before taking Riley to the surprise location, I stopped at a liquor store and grabbed a nice bottle of wine for us to share. She gave me another suspicious smile as I gave it to her to hold onto, but I didn’t say a word as I continued on our way to where I wanted to take her, as well as a place I knew she wanted to go. 

When we were finally there, I pulled into a small dirt path meant for a single car to park and Riley looked to me with a rather happy face.

“Is this the dock?” She asked and I nodded.

“Yup.. You still wanted to come here sometime, right?” I asked and she nodded with a strong sense of enthusiasm, “Well, let’s go,” I added, shutting my car off and getting out as she opened her own door and did the same. 

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“I should warn you that it’s a lot more boring here without a huge group of people to get drunk with, but it’s still nice,” I pointed out as we walked up to the dock and she shook her head, disagreeing with me.

“I think it’s beautiful and romantic and I like it better without a lot of people. It’s quiet, you can listen to the ocean and relax, and we don’t need a ton of people to get drunk with. I don’t mind spending the night alone with you, anyhow,” she replied and I gave her a rather mischievous brow with an accompanied grin on my lips and she suddenly changed her expression, “Don’t you look at me like that. You know exactly what I meant, so.. Whatever you’re thinkin’, stop thinkin’ it,” she disciplined me and I couldn’t help but give a quick chuckle.

“Yes, ma’am,” I replied as I bit my bottom lip and checked her out without her noticing.

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When we reached the edge of the dock, we stopped and looked out onto the water, standing there and listening to the ocean for a moment together.

“Thanks for takin’ me here. I already think this is a lot more fun than a party where I won’t know a single soul,” she expressed and I nodded.

“Sure thing.. Besides, I’d just be introducing you to people and I doubt you’d remember every single person’s name. Who knows if you’d even get any drinking in or even have any fun at all. Plus, the moment Pia met you, I bet she’d drag you away from me somewhere and that just won’t do,” I replied with a coy smoulder and even now, I could see her cheeks turn a soft rose hue. Riley then peaked over the edge of the dock and a gentle gasp came from her.

“My gosh.. This is the dock you were talkin’ about where you were drunk and fell off with Niko, right?” She asked and I nodded again.

“Yup. Long fall, huh?” I asked rhetorically, seeing her continue to look over the edge and I grinned as a playful prank came to my mind.

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I took a strong hold of her hips and pushed her forward a little, “Don’t fall!” I said, but quickly pulled her back so she wouldn’t and she let out a quick, quiet, panicked scream before whipping her body around and clinging to me. I couldn’t help but laugh as she held me, knowing she was trying to figure out what the hell just happened, and when she finally did, she released me and hit my chest.

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“You really are a jerk! You know that!?” She expressed in both anger and relief.

“I’m.. I’m sorry,” I tried to speak through my continued laughter, “I just saw the opening and couldn’t pass it up,” I continued and she hit my chest again before I managed to put my hands up to try and block the blows.

“My heart’s beatin’ so fast right now! Good lord,” she continued and I finally managed to die down my laughing enough to speak clearly.

“Okay, okay, stop hitting me, I’m sorry! I’ll never do that again, I promise, it was just a joke!” I said with a apologetic smile, trying to get her to not be mad at me and when I noticed a gentle twitch of a smirk on the edge of her lips, I held out my hands to invite her into my arms.

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“Come here,” I invited and she slowly stepped over towards me.

“You ain’t gunna try to push me again, right?” She stopped to ask just before she was within my reach and I chuckled.

“No, never again,” I assured her as I leaned forward so then she was within my reach and I grabbed her hips, pulling her the rest of the way into me and securing my arms around her. Riley put her arms around me, as well, although her lips puckered a little like I’ve noticed they do when she was a little angry.

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“Aww, are you still mad at me?” I asked as I observed her face, though she shook her head.

“..Just tryin’ to get my heart to stop racin’, that’s all,” she expressed with a slightly embarrassed smirk and now I was genuinely starting to feel bad.

“I’m sorry.. I didn’t think it would scare you that much, but it was a stupid joke and I shouldn’t have done it,” I apologized again, but she shook her head as she looked down to my chest.

“It’s all right, it just startled me, is all.. How about I get the wine from the car? You still seem to like makin’ me a little nervous, so.. Maybe that’ll help me loosen up a bit,” she admitted, her eyes coming back up to meet mine and I nodded.

“Yeah, sure. I actually forgot about it.. I left my car open,” I replied and let her go, watching as she smiled and let go of me, too, then walked back down the dock and back to my car.

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I liked how she admitted she was still nervous around me, because I was still a little nervous around her, too, even though I never really seemed like it. Her being nervous made me feel like she still liked me a decent amount and was still willing to put up with my stupid jokes, and really, overall stupidity, which was nice.

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Although I liked that she was getting the wine so she could loosen up to be on my level of apparent relaxation, I suppose I should do some compromising, too, and not be so loosened up to the point where it seems like I don’t care. I needed to try and stop playing it this cool because it reminded me of how I was with other girls, ones that I would only know for a single night, and I constantly needed to remind myself that she wasn’t one of them.. At least I didn’t want her to be.

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When I noticed Riley coming back, a smile grew on my lips as I watched her trying to figure out how to open the bottle, but it was no use. 

Riley handed it off when she reached me, “You got a cork screw?” She asked and I thought for a quick moment, then patted my legs looking for my keys, knowing I had a mini pocket knife attached to them that had a mini cork screw on it and I took the bottle as I pulled my keys out of my pocket. Flipping out the cork screw with my thumbnail, I began twisting it in and when it couldn’t go anymore, I put the bottle between my knees and pulled. A loud ‘pop!’ came from the bottle once I’d opened it and I handed it back to Riley as I tossed out the cork and returned my keys to my pocket.

“We’re just drinkin’ outta the bottle since we don’t have any cups, right?” She asked and I chuckled.

“Yup.. I guess I forgot to pick up some plastic ones while I was at the store,” I replied and she shrugged, not caring at all.

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“What should we toast to?” She wondered as she observed the bottle and I thought for a short moment.

“Hmm.. To avoiding a potentially awkward and crowded party.. And having a second first-date that isn’t a blind one, instead,” I offered up and a warm smile came to her lips as she looked to me.

“I like that.. Cheers,” she replied, taking a quick swig of the bottle and handing it off to me as I then took a quick chug, as well.

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I stepped over to the edge of the dock and sat down, letting one leg hang off the edge and the other lying comfortably on the dock and Riley came to the edge, too, and joined me in sitting. She hung both legs off, staring off into the ocean and I figured I should think of something to talk about since I was the one that decided to suddenly change our plans and choose to be alone.

“Do you remember any more of that day your mom took you to Mobile Bay?” I asked, bringing up the subject she was talking about in the car and Riley took another sip of the wine before setting it down.

“Yeah, I do.. I was about eight years old and my daddy had just passed about six months prier,” she began and I already felt bad for bringing it up again.

“Oh.. I’m sorry to hear that,” I added before she continued and she looked at me with a genuine smile.

“It’s all right, I’ve come to peace with it. He was very sick, so it was only a matter of time,” she looked back to the ocean, “But, that trip with my momma helped me recover from the loss, in a way.. My momma did everythin’ to distract me from grievin’ and she did a good job. The months after he died were rough, but, eventually my momma was thinkin’ that we need to move on and experience the world a little more like my daddy loved doin’ instead of bein’ sad all the time.. She’d cry alone by herself sometimes, like she didn’t want me to see it. I knew she was havin’ a hard time, we both were, but I think she mostly put it behind her for my sake. She wanted me to be strong, so she had to set an example..”

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“Understandable..”

“My parents first date was at Mobile Bay, actually, and she even took me to the seafood place that they had gone to on the shore that made the best crayfish dinners and pecan pies.. I absolutely loved goin’ there and eatin’ the same meal they fell in love over,” a bigger smile came to Riley’s lips and it was contagious, a smile spreading on my lips, as well. Her voice and the way she described things made me think I was listening to a narrator in the first opening scenes of an old, southern love story, or something like the opening to the movie Fried Green Tomatoes that Pia forced me to watch with her. It was actually quite soothing listening to Riley talk and I didn’t mind listening to her one bit.

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“What did your dad do? If you don’t mind me asking,” I wondered and she looked over to me.

“He was a butcher, a farmer, a fisherman, a tractor and heavy machinery mechanic.. Pretty much anythin’ that had to do with farm work, he did it. When I mentioned him experiencin’ the world, I meant that he would catch his own fish and crayfish, butcher his own born and raised cows, chickens, pigs, and what-have-ya and go around to so many different towns, cities and states and try to get them to buy their product from him. Everything he did was clean and natural, no added anythin’ to the feed of the animals or in the water he used to grow his crops. He was a kind, gentle, but very persistent man and he had an amazin’ way of talkin’. You ever heard of the sayin’ a good businessman can sell a ketchup popcycle to a woman in white gloves?” She asked and I shook my head, though it did paint a pretty good picture at how good he was, “Well, that’s exactly what he could do.. Every place he’d visit, too, he’d always bring me home a souvenir. My momma then took over the business after he passed and has kept it goin’ ever since. He built it up so good for us that whatever you find in a grocery store in the southeast is probably from our farm,” Riley finished and I took a quick sip of the wine before addressing her words.

“Damn.. With all that on his back, he must’ve been working twenty-four-seven,” I pointed out and she giggled softly.

“Dawn to dusk. Momma and I would help, of course, but it was hard work. She had to hire a few people for help after he was gone because he did so much around there that her and I combined couldn’t even do half of what he did.. But, luckily we could afford it thanks to him bein’ the good businessman he was and gettin’ the farm some buyers for our products before he was gone,” she answered.

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“Well, he sounds like he was an amazing man,” I complimented and she smiled with a nod.

“Thank you.. He was,” she answered, grabbing the bottle of wine and taking a generous sip of it.

“So, then.. What made you want to become a beautician? You didn’t want to work on the farm anymore?”

“Well, I’d always loved hair and nails and fashion and all that stuff ever since I was a little girl. There wasn’t much of a fashion scene in Maycomb, so when I saw stuff like beautiful celebrities in magazines and on TV with these perfect nails, perfect hair, perfect makeup, I kind of became obsessed with it because it was just so different from what I was raised ’round.. I used to always take tiny paintbrushes and paint my Barbie dolls’ nails, or take scissors and try to cut and style their hair,” she laughed at herself in such a cute way that it made me smile more, “I even cut our dogs hair, put bows in it, and painted their nails when daddy wasn’t lookin’. Man, they would be so pretty, though, running around all dolled up chasin’ the sheep,” she continued her laugh and I joined in with a genuine chuckle from picturing it. Seeing her this happy talking about where she came from and looking back on her past made my heart race a little. Every smile, every laugh, every look she gave me when talking about it was so pure and honest and if she talked about it for hours and hours more, I don’t think I’d mind.

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“What’s the craziest thing you’ve done? By yourself, with AnneMarie, anything,” I asked next and she thought for a moment before answering me.

“You know what a longhorn is?” She asked and already I was a little weary.

“Yeeaaahh..”

“Well.. We had this one named Pinky, but don’t be fooled by the name. He was huge, and so were his horns. My daddy let me name him when I was real young and he was all black with a bright pink snout, so that’s why, but.. We pretty much grew up together and one day, I wanted to try to ride him,” she explained and my eyes widened.

“Holy shit.. Were you able to?”

“Oh my Lord, of course not!” She said with a gentle laugh, “He was big and mean and hated everyone but my daddy. I don’t know what I was thinkin’.. But, when we were dumpin’ the feed off the back of the pick-up we had, he was walkin’ along the side of the truck and when my daddy wasn’t lookin’, I climbed over and jumped on his back. Huuuu-wee, did Pinky get mad.. He let my daddy pet him, so at first, for a split second, he didn’t notice because he was eatin’.. He probably just thought it was my daddy pettin’ him, but when he turned his head a little, he suddenly noticed me and the very second that Pinky made a fuss, my daddy saw me, too, and dropped the feed and grabbed me off of his back before he could lash about to get me off. Pinky sliced some pretty good gashes into the side of the truck from his horns, and the idea to ever try that again was far, far from my mind. I was terrified of him after that, but it was my own fault,” she finished and I sat there in slight awe.

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“Jesus.. I definitely need a drink after just hearing that story,” I replied and she laughed a little as I picked up the bottle of wine and helped myself.

“Enough about me now, tell me more about you.. Like, where’d you get that scar on your face, if it ain’t too much to ask?” She asked, taking the bottle from my hand when I was done with it and taking a sip, as well, then setting it back down.

“It happened about a year ago. I was hanging out with Pia and Tavish at a bar and we were pretty drunk, but Pia was completely wasted.. There was this guy that wouldn’t leave her alone and one minute she was there, the next she was gone and we knew he had something to do with it. Tavish and I caught up to him pretty quick, though, because she said she was going to the bathroom, but she was gone longer than we thought she’d be.. He had taken her behind the bar and of course we had to intervene. Dude had a knife, though, so he pulled it out and he managed to catch my face with it before Tavish got the knife away from him and knocked the guy out. It’s a boring story and I wish I could say that I saved the day, but I was useless and all credit goes to Tav,” I summed it up quickly, not really justifying it with any details because I believed it was more of a story that Tavish told best, not myself.

“You were anythin’ but useless. Doesn’t matter who knocked the guy out, you both stepped in and helped her. Who knows what would’ve happened if you hadn’t.. You’re a good friend, Luca, and the thing that matters most is how selfless you were in that moment.. Don’t sell yourself so short,” she replied with a smile and I had lost count on how many times I’ve heard that before.. Not from her, but from everyone else, too.. Especially Niko.

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“Besides.. The mystery of it before was hot, but the story behind it makes it sexier somehow,” she complimented and my left brow perked up curiously as a grin slowly crept over my lips.

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yup,” she replied casually, gazing back at me as she blindly lifted the wine bottle to her lips and took a quick sip before offering it up to me. I took it without question and took a generous sip before setting it aside and scooting a bit closer to Riley, one tiny scoot after another in a rather too-excited manner and she couldn’t help but laugh as I made it obviously how much I loved her words.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have said anythin’,” she joked.

“Nope, too late. Can’t take it back now,” I replied with the same grin on my lips and she giggled as she faced back towards the water.

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“Your stories are so short and I feel as if I’ve been talkin’ the most tonight.. Talk about somethin’ else now,” Riley brought up, leaning back and getting comfortable as my left hand came over to her leg and my fingers slid slowly up and down her thigh. But, Riley soon couldn’t contain a soft laugh and she stopped my hand.

“Stop doin’ that, it’s only ticklin’ me and makin’ my leg twitch,” she said with a smile and I chuckled softly.

“Can I just leave it here then?” I asked, pausing my hand in its place and gently gripping her left leg before then caressing her skin with my thumb.

Riley smiled and nodded, “I guess that’s all right,” she confirmed and I was happy that she seemed relaxed enough to let me get a little touchy with her.

“So.. What do you wanna know? Ask me whatever you want,” I offered and her view momentarily went to her lap before looking back up to me.

“You’d mentioned before that you haven’t dated in a long while before you met me, so.. Mind if I ask why?” She wondered and my expression fell blank very quickly.

Fuck.. Ask me anything else but that..

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Riley seemed to notice my reluctance, “I’m sorry, you don’t need to tell me if you don’t wanna.. I shouldn’t have asked, anyways,” she apologized, but I smirked softly and brushed it off like it was nothing.

“No, no, it’s fine.. It’s just kind of an annoying subject because everyone else but me seems to want to talk about it,” I let out a quiet chuckle and my view went down to her thigh that my thumb still continued to rub gently. I sat there silently thinking to myself about what I should and shouldn’t say, but, I suppose honesty was the best way to go about this, not to mention that I thought I might score some points with her if I opened up a little more, but.. Opening up to a woman like this was still a little difficult. It was a pretty foreign need of mine.

“Well, uhh.. Fuck, I don’t even know where to start,” I took another quick moment to gather my thoughts and Riley took that short time to drink from the wine bottle, “It was a long, long time ago.. I met this girl when I was sixteen and it was kind of an unhealthy infatuation straight out of the gate.. We were inseparable for the entire year we were going out and a few days after my seventeenth birthday, she kind of just.. Disappeared,” I explained and her expression went remorseful. 

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“That’s awful.. Did you ever find out what happened to her?” She asked and I shook my head.

“Nope.. Never heard from her again. No call, no letter.. She wasn’t even at school the next day, or ever again. The only thing that I managed to find out was that she left school without dropping out, so her mom must’ve took her out with the right paperwork or maybe made her transfer, I don’t know, exactly..”

“..Did you love her?” Riley asked next and the question made me a little uncomfortable, but I let out a soft laugh to cover it up.

“I don’t know.. Can you even be in love that young?”

“I believe so. Look at Nikolai and AnneMarie.. They’ve loved one another since they were preteens,” she gave an example and I scoffed.

“Yeah, well.. They’re both freaks of nature,” I replied and she giggled softly as I took the bottle of wine and had myself a hefty chug before putting it back to the side of her right leg.

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I cleared my throat before I continued the conversation, but finally decided that maybe taking a leap into the unknown might be good for me. I do it a lot anyways, just not really in these particular circumstances. 

“I was,” Riley looked to me, “In love with her, I mean,” I finally admitted, “It seems stupid now looking back and knowing I was, though. I even told her I did on my birthday and she said it back, but I didn’t realize just how much I was until she left a few days later.. Made me wonder if she was lying to me and just saying what she thought I wanted to hear, or maybe she just said it as a birthday gift or something and I actually scared her off.. I was young and dumb and obsessed with the ‘first love’ blinders I had on. But, I was just a kid.. I didn’t know any better yet,” I explained.

“..Do you still love her?” She asked, and although I only hesitated for a second, it still seemed like too long of a pause.

“No.. Haven’t for a long time.. I struggled a lot after that, acted out and was a huge pain in the ass.. I’m sure my parents hated me for a while, but eventually I got out of the angry-rebelling or whatever the hell I was doing to deal with her leaving and started to get my life back on track.. Tried to forget her and stuff..”

“So, you’ve been avoidin’ daitin’ seriously because you don’t wanna get hurt again, right?” She asked and I nodded.

“Yeah, I guess.. To be honest, I was soooo not looking forward to being set up on that blind date with you and I mostly didn’t want to go because I hated knowing that Niko and AnneMarie and probably everyone else thought I was lonely or some bullshit, and I agreed to it to kind of prove them all wrong.. But.. Turns out that the blind date was fun and I was fixed up with the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen,” I explained and I could tell how flattered Riley was just by the look in her eyes and how she shied away her gaze down to her lap to hopefully avoid me noticing how pink her cheeks were.

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“She was real stupid,” Riley said softly with a slight sense of anger as she stared down at her lap.

“Who?”

“Your ex.. I bet that leavin’ you was and will always be, by far, the biggest mistake she’s ever made,” she replied, my heart beating a little louder for a split second from her words and she finally lifted her gaze to look at me again, “You’re sweet and funny and outgoin’ and easy to talk to and fun.. So many great things in one package that any woman would be lucky to have,” she went on, but the more that she said, the less I believed it. I’m no prince charming, no knight in shining armor, and I’m not too good for her or anyone else, which is what she’s making it sound like. I just never saw myself that way.

“You don’t have to say those things to make me feel better about myself or to feel better about what happened or anything like that..”

“And I’m not. I’m sayin’ it ’cause it’s true.. All that you did was love her and look what she did in return. Forgive me if I’m comin’ off as rude or anythin’, but by how it sounds and how you describe it, I can tell you blame yourself for why she left and you have no reason to do that.. Maybe you should start thinkin’ that she was the mistake, not you,” she explained and I didn’t know what to say. Every person I talked to about my ex would just call her a dumbass or a bitch for leaving me. It would make me laugh and it did help, but only for a short time.. I’d never heard it put in the way that Riley said, though, and it actually did make me feel better about it all.. More at peace with it.. I hated admitting that the subject still bothered me, but it did, and I knew it always will, but hearing Riley’s view was what I needed to hear in order to truly realize that it really isn’t my fault.. It never has been.

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“Thank you for saying that.. I think it’s something I always wanted to believe, just never could.. It’s hard not to blame yourself for things going wrong when you get no explanation for why they really did,” I spoke quietly, my fingers idly fiddling with the fabric of my pants.

“I’m sorry it took this long for you to see that,” she replied and I couldn’t help but chuckle.

“Heh, yeah.. Knowing it a lot sooner would’ve been nice and would’ve saved me a lot of time beating myself up, but, had I realized it sooner, I might’ve already been dating someone and I wouldn’t have been introduced to you,” I answered, giving her a soft smirk and she gave a bashful smile.

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There was a long pause after my words, watching as Riley picked up the wine bottle we seemed to have ignored for a short while and taking a few generous sips from it before handing it off to me, and I did the same before setting it back down.

“..I like you, Luca,” she admitted with a hushed voice, staring down at her lap as she spoke and a smile slowly crept over my lips.

“Then you’re even crazier than I am,” I replied and she looked up to me as if she couldn’t believe that I had just said that.

“It’s really not all that strange for someone to like you,” she pointed out and I looked away from her and out towards the water.

“Yeah, well.. Didn’t go too well last time, so you can understand my skepticism..”

“Hey,” Riley grabbed my hand that I still had on her thigh and she held it tightly, “Look at me,” and I did, “I promise that if there’s anythin’ wrong or if there’s ever a problem, I’ll tell you. You know that I’m honest, I really do try to be, and I’m not goin’ to hide anythin’ just to spare your feelin’s. If for whatever reason this doesn’t work out, I won’t abandon you, I’ll tell you why it didn’t, but for now, there ain’t anythin’ wrong with you, or me, or us. I understand you not likin’ the idea of it and you don’t wanna get hurt again and I do understand your hesitation, but I wouldn’t have said it if I hadn’t meant it. I do like you, Luca, and I wanna keep seein’ you.. If you wanna keep seein’ me, too,” she answered, her last sentence sounding almost like a question and oddly enough, I felt a sense of relief.

“..I do want to keep seeing you,” I finally replied, making up my mind and deciding that maybe this could be worth it. Maybe, despite my reluctance and uncertainty, I wanted to see where all of this would go with her. I was still going to be careful, I was still going to just try this out instead of putting both feet in at once, and I hoped it wouldn’t turn out like last time.

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Riley has made me feel things that I never thought I’d feel again. The need to kiss and show affection, the need to share and be shared with, so many things that I couldn’t put into words just yet, but it felt good. It even scared me a little to admit it to myself because part of me, most of me, didn’t want to believe that someone like her could have the ability to put up with someone like me, but the affectionate side of me that only my close friends and family saw was something that I wanted to start showing her.. Riley was easy to talk to and she understood things without all that much explanation needed, and I thought that came in handy since it’s a little difficult for me to share, especially with a woman I just met, but..

I liked her, too, and that scared the hell out of me.

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I noticed Riley gently bite her bottom lip and I assumed she wanted me to kiss her, but even though I don’t much care for that kind of thing, I felt a strong want to do it with her. A need to. I leaned in rather quickly, but she wasn’t surprised by it, and the moment my lips touched hers, I was brought back to last weekend when we were standing outside her home on her doorstep, but this time was different. This time it felt less like a goodbye kiss and more like the start of something exciting, the start of something new and terrifying, but, fuck it. I was sick of living in the past and constantly being reminded of it, and I was sick of people looking at me as if I needed to be pitied or coddled because they thought I was alone and lonely. 

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Our kiss was electric and I felt a tingling down my spine as she made the kiss deeper by letting go of holding my hand and bring it up to grip the back of my head. She pulled at a chunk of my hair, her nails gently raking against my scalp, her mouth opening more for exploration and my hand that still remained on her thigh gripped at her a little roughly. She was so damn sexy and all I could think about now was touching her, pleasing her, making her feel the best that she possibly could and I wanted her to feel it with me.. I wanted to be the one that she’d remember and the first one that would come to her mind when she would think about a time she felt the best she ever had.

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We were breathing a little harder than normal, every now and then she’d even moan against my lips and it made me melt just knowing that a kiss between us made her feel this good. Riley brought her other hand up to touch my neck and she gripped another chunk of my hair that made my loins quiver in excitement. She didn’t strike me as the rough type, but with everything she was doing, pulling my hair, quietly moaning, her thigh tensing up every time my hand gripped it roughly which told me she was just as turned on as I was.. It drove me wild. I could even feel through her leg every single time her hips would gently flex as if she wanted to grind on something, my something, and I couldn’t control myself anymore.

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I brought my hand away from her thigh and it traveled straight up to the warmth between her legs. I rubbed her over the thin fabric of her shorts, giving her hips something to grind against until I could get her back to my car and have her grind in my lap instead, but what came next was something I should’ve known would happen..

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Riley gasped softly against my lips and immediately pulled back, No, please don’t-!” She let out in a panic and the second I heard the ‘no’, I had already jerked my hand as far away from her as I could.

“Shit! I.. I-I’m so sorry, Riley, I’m sorry!”

“N-No, it’s-” she stopped to take a deep breath, “It’s okay, I’m just-”

“-No, it’s not okay and I’m so sorry, I’m such a fucking dumbass,” I said with disappointment and embarrassment.

“Luca, really, you just startled me, is all.. It’s-”