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.

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-”

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“-I just thought that-” I couldn’t believe how stupid I was, “I.. I don’t know what I thought.. I’m sorry, Riley, I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me,” I said in complete disbelief, as if I had no clue what the hell my hands were thinking.. What the hell was I even thinking?

“Luca, don’t.. It’s really not you, I’m just.. I’m not ready, is all, all right? It’s completely all me, I swear. I’m sorry I panicked like that and scared you, I don’t know why I did that,” she continued to try to put the blame on herself, but her apologizing to me for what my stupid, idiot self did make me sick to my stomach. I don’t understand why I can’t keep my damn hands to myself.

“Don’t apologize to me for stopping me, please don’t.. You’ve already made it completely clear that you’re not looking to move that quick and I don’t know what I was thinking.. I.. I don’t know what I was thinking,” I kept repeating, sitting there with a storm cloud over my head, gloomy and disgusted with myself.

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“..I’ll take you home,” I assumed she wanted to leave, about to get up to my feet, but Riley stopped me.

“No, I don’t wanna leave like this,” she urged, reaching out to touch my face and she made me look at her, “Listen to me. It’s o-kay. I’m sorry I reacted like that. I-” she paused for a moment, “It’s been a while for me and you just startled me, all right? I ain’t used so movin’ fast, but I do want to do things with you, just not yet.. Okay?” She tried to make me feel less bad about it, but that wasn’t going to happen. I was so disappointed in myself that even if she didn’t want to go home yet, now wanted to.. 

“..I’m still sorry,” I replied and she gave me a warm smile.

“I know, and I forgive you.. Believe me, when I’m ready, you’ll definitely know,” she encouraged and I nodded in understanding, giving her a fake smirk and Riley leaned back in again to briefly kiss my lips, “Have you stopped punishin’ yourself yet?” She asked and I nodded.

“Yeah,” I lied.

“Good.. Then now you can take me home,” she said with another smile, standing up and I stood up with her, leaving behind our empty bottle of wine and walking off the dock back to my car.

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Driving Riley home was agonizing. She tried her best to lighten the mood, trying to talk to me or make me laugh or whatever else, but all that I could really give her back were one-word answers and half-assed laughs that I forced myself to muster up to not make her feel bad. No matter what she tried to do, I still couldn’t get my mind off of what I did at the dock. God, I’m seriously such a fucking idiot! I’m used to getting what I want, but this was something else. This was me trying to get what I wanted without permission and I couldn’t get my stomach to stop turning as I replayed the scene over and over in my mind. Riley’s voice and the tone she used kept replaying, too. She sounded so startled and even a little scared.. Just the thought of me possibly scaring her made my stomach turn even more.. This wasn’t who I was, so why did I act that way?

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When I parked my car in her driveway, I didn’t even have the confidence or the strength to walk her to her door. I stared down at the steering wheel for a long, silent moment, and it wasn’t until Riley had reached over and touched my hand did I come out of my trance.

“Are you all right? ..Truly?” Riley asked, looking over to her and nodding a lie.

“Yeah.. I’m fine.. Are you?”

“Yes,” she said with another smile, “Do you wanna do somethin’ next week, or next weekend again?”

“Yeah.. Call me whenever you want to,” I offered back, feeling a lot more comfortable if she were the one to do it first and she nodded.

“All right, I will,” she replied, a quick, awkward silence then filling the car as she continued to sit in the passengers seat.. I thought she would’ve bolted out of my car by now.

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“Are you gunna kiss me goodnight?” She asked next and I chuckled softly.

“Only if you want me to,” I replied and her expression filled with a slight concern. 

“Of course I do.. You don’t need to ask permission for every little thing, just the more serious things, okay?” She made clear and I nodded, seeing her lean towards me and I did the same, meeting in the middle and our lips were locked for a few long seconds before she pulled away with a smirk on her plump lips, “Goodnight, Luca.”

“Night,” I answered, watching her get out of the car and I sat in her driveway until she had gotten into her place safely. 

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I pulled out of her driveway and went straight home, coming into the house and hearing Pia and Tavish and a few other people they brought home from the bar in the living room, being loud and laughing and drinking, but I wasn’t in the mood. Luckily, I managed to come inside undetected and I went straight up to my bedroom.

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I left my lights off, stepping over to my bed and throwing myself onto it, lying on my back and staring up at the ceiling and letting out a deep, heavy sigh. I was so disappointed with myself. I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me.. Why did I do that? Why did I touch her like that when I knew well enough not to? I just can’t get anything right..

Not a damn thing. 

Generation 5, Chapter 3

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I’m done. I’m done feeling sorry for myself and I’m done being this pitiful, little thing that does nothing for himself in order to change the current path that they’re on. A week ago, after that whole terrible situation with Becca, Tavish and I had a long talk at the bar and I was able to get buzzed enough to tell him exactly what was going on with me. I told him the good news first, announcing Niko’s engagement to AnneMarie and how he made me his best man. Tavish bought us both a couple shots after that news. I then proceeded to tell him how I was a little jealous of Niko in general and Tav put it so brilliantly that I was forced to take his advice. I’d be stupid not to. From what I can remember, I think it went something like this..

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“So, what’s going on? Seriously, you’re acting all mopey and sad and I don’t like it,” Tavish began after our first few beers and some bullshitting to keep the silence away, but I knew this was bound to be brought up. For as long as he tried to avoid asking me, I knew he was going to eventually, and I kind of did want to talk about it, even though I thought I didn’t at first..

“I don’t know anymore,” I replied, starring down at my fresh beer, “So much shit happened today and I don’t know how to feel about any of it. It’s all made me confused on what I even want with my life anymore,” I answered.

“Just tell me what happened,” he offered and I chuckled softly.

“Fuck, where do I start?” I asked rhetorically, “I guess I’ll start with the only good thing about today.. Niko came home from college with AnneMarie, that’s why we all got together for dinner. He finally proposed to her tonight and asked me to be his best man,” I said with a smirk.

“Really? That’s awesome, man! Congrats to him, and to you for getting that awesome responsibility,” he expressed his excitement for the situation, finding a waitress we knew and calling her over.

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“Hey, guys! What can I get you?” Our friend, Cassandra, asked.

“Four shots of whiskey, please,” he ordered and she smiled.

“Oh? What are we celebrating?” She asked.

“Luca’s brother is getting married and he made Luca the best man,” Tavish announced the good news and Cass looked at me with her excitement about to make her burst.

“Oh my God! You mean little Niko? Finally?!” She asked and I nodded.

“Yup. Little brother’s finally all grown up,” I replied.

“That’s so great! Congrats to him and you!” She then leaned into my ear a little, “Invite me if you get strippers for the Bachelor party,” she added and I laughed.

“I’ll see what I can do,” I answered and she winked happily before going off and filling our order.

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Tavish then continued the conversation, “I always thought it was weird how all that the best man has to do is plan the bachelor party, while the maid of honor has to cater to the bride hand and foot and break her back for her.. Seems so.. Unbalanced,” Tav answered with a chuckle and I snickered.

“Huh.. Never thought of that before.. Sucks for AnneMarie’s maid of honor.. Which, actually, is probably going to be this girl that AnneMarie is trying to set me up with..”

“I thought you hated blind dates?” He guessed and I nodded.

“Oh, I do, it’s just a favor for her and Niko.. A wedding gift, I guess. The girl just moved a few towns over not too long ago and she doesn’t know anyone.. AnneMarie seems to think we’d be good for each other, so I told her that I’d think about it,” I answered with a shrug.

“The two best friends of the happy couple getting together.. It seems like the quarterback dating the prom queen type of cliche shit,” he added and I chuckled.

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“Okay, here you go,” Cass came back to the table and set down four shot glasses, which Tavish and I downed two each quickly and gave them back.

“Thanks, Cass,” I replied.

“No problem. You give that little cutie my best, okay? Congrats, again, that’s a huge honor being a best man, too! ..And I was very serious about you inviting me if there’s strippers at the Bachelor party,” she added again and like before, I couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’ll talk to him. I’m sure he won’t mind a few of my friends coming along for the good time,” I gave her a little something to believe in and she seemed excited all over again.

“Yay! Okay, I’ll leave you two alone. Let me know if you need anything else!”

“Will do, Cass,” Tavish replied and she happily went off back to the bar.

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“So, what else happened?” Tavish wondered and I appreciated him sitting here and listening to this boring shit, but I also appreciated that he could tell there was a lot more for me to get off my chest.

“My dad brought up my ex and asked if I was seeing anyone steadily because he doesn’t think I’m over it yet.. And my Pop’s ‘joked’ again for the millionth time that he wants grandkids..”

“Fuck.. Again?” He asked with exhaustion in his tone, as if he was just as sick of hearing it as I was.

“Yup.. And August stopped by, but none of us saw him except for my dad. I guess he showed up, made my dad feel like complete shit like he always does, then left.. And you know my dad, he’s just.. Sensitive, really sensitive, and one little thing can make it so he can’t appreciate the good in front of him no matter how hard he or anyone else tries..”

“Kind of sounds like what you’re doing now, too,” he pointed out and I chuckled.

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“I’m not that sensitive.. I don’t know, man, it’s hard to talk bad about my dad, but he’s just weak, you know? Really, just.. Emotionally weak, and we all know it, but we cater to it because he needs us to in order to get better.. We try our best to make him feel better, too, because we love him and it sucks seeing him like that, but August is the only one of us that could give a complete shit about him. It’s like he goes out of his way to knock my dad off his rocker and it’s up to all of us to pick him back up.. Well, I try to pick him back up, at least, because I seem to be the only one that really notices their beef.. But, I just want to know what it is between them that makes August hate him so much,” I explained.

“I’m sure Augie doesn’t hate him.. Maybe they just don’t get along anymore?”

“Yeah, but, why? That’s what I want to know.”

“Have you asked your dad about it?”

“Yeah, but he refuses to tell me..”

“Well, not to be a dick, but.. It’s between them. I know you want to protect your dad against the wrath of the mighty beast we all call August, but it just doesn’t concern you. They’ll work it out eventually, I’m sure, you just gotta give stuff like this time. If it was hurting all of you guys, yeah, butt the hell in, but it just sounds like it’s between those two, so just let it go,” Tavish advised and although I didn’t like hearing that there was nothing I could or should do, he was right.. But.. Maybe going to the problem starter was better than going after the victim..? I haven’t asked Augie about any of this yet, whereas I’ve asked Dad plenty of times.. Hmm..

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“What else? I know there’s more.. Like, who did that bikini top come from? You came home a lot more wound up than I thought you’d be after seeing that,” Tavish hinted as he pointed out the top Becca had left behind in the back seat of my car and I sighed heavily.

“Fuck, I dunno.. Everything just didn’t sit right with me at my parents place and I wanted different company.. Becca texted me telling me to come over.. I was glad to get out of there and go see her, take my mind off of things, you know? But, we started everything and it was good for a little bit, but then in the middle of it all, she drops the bomb that she’s had a boyfriend and this is the last time we’re hooking up because she’s moving in with him,” I explained and Tavish seemed more pissed than I was.

“What the fuck? She never told you?”

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“Nope.. Never even told me about the other boyfriends she’s had other times we’ve fooled around, too.. You know me, I don’t like messing with other guys girlfriend’s, it’s just fucked up, so I got pissed and stopped everything and told her to never talk to me again. She got mad, started an argument, belittled me and called me pathetic, so I said some shit back that I’m not too proud of now and left. I don’t even remember all of what I said to her, I was angry, so.. Yeah, that’s it,” I put simply and he shook his head in disbelief.

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“Fuck, man.. I’m sorry you had to go through so much today. That’s just not right, though, her not telling you something like that. It’s like, we protect ourselves for a damn reason, you don’t know what kind of stuff he’s working with down there, you know? Then what if she has it, too, and the condom breaks or something? You’re totally fucked,” he gave examples and I nodded strongly.

“Exactly! Or, what if he finds out and he’s a master of jujitsu or a fucking assassin or something and puts you in the hospital or worse just for sleeping with his girl?” I exaggerated a bit, “Taken girls just aren’t worth it.. I’ll never do that again. From now on, I’m asking straight off the bat,” I made a promise to myself.

“Well, it’s good that things are over between the two of you, though. Good riddance,” he replied and I chuckled.

“I know, right? I don’t even know why I ever thought hooking up with her more than once wouldn’t came back to bite me in the ass later. Fuck, was I wrong..”

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“Anything else to get off your chest?” He asked and I still hadn’t explained how I thought I was going nowhere in life, not accomplishing anything useful, and also being jealous of my little brother made me uncomfortable to admit.. I didn’t want to talk about it.. It made me feel like I was being weak like my dad and getting too sensitive over things that didn’t make all that much sense to be bothered about.

“Nah, I guess not..”

“Come on, Luca.. You left your parents house only because you didn’t like seeing your dad upset? Don’t you dare think that I don’t know how happy he was after Niko proposed to AnneMarie.. I bet he completely forgot about August when he found out one of his sons was getting married. There’s obviously something else that bothered you enough to leave a celebration you all have been waiting years to have,” he called my bluff and I sighed.

I love you, Tav, but fuck you, too, for knowing me so damn well..

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“I don’t know.. It’s a little difficult to talk about because I feel so stupid saying it..”

“..But?” He encouraged.

“But, I guess I’m just.. A little jealous of my brother,” I admitted and he chuckled.

“How so?”

“He just has everything, you know? Great education, free ride in college, pretty much the perfect woman, he’s getting married, probably will have a baby on the way soon after.. With everything he does, he makes my parents so fucking proud, he just.. He has it all, you know? And I don’t have shit,” I described.

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“What the hell are you talking about? Did Becca fuck the ‘stupid’ into you?” He seemed bothered by my words and I looked up from my beer, “You have everything, too, Luca. You didn’t want to go to college, so you didn’t. You don’t want to get married, so you’re not going to, and no one’s forcing you. You don’t want kids, so you avoid the seriousness of a girlfriend that could lead to the marriage that you don’t want, too. Your parents are proud of you no matter what the hell you do. I’ve seen how they look at you and it’s the exact same way they look at Niko, or the girls, or Jiro, and even August, for fuck’s sake, and look at what a delight he is,” he said sarcastically and I couldn’t help but smirk.

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“You don’t need a crazy-good education, either, because look at the job you have and look at how much you help Blair and the rest of your clients. If you’re looking for your parents approval or something, just be yourself, because that’s all they want. Sure, they might hound you to find a girlfriend, and sure they might hound you for grandkids, but that’s probably only because they have each other and want you to experience love, too, and they want you to experience what it’s like to have kids because yeah, it could be fun, but they don’t realize it’s just not for everyone. My point is that if you want to do something, then you do it, and if you don’t, then you don’t. You have full reign and freedom over your own life and that’s something to be really proud of.. Just because your brother has a different life than you doesn’t mean he’s doing life better than you. Your paths are just different, simple as that,” he put so perfectly and immediately I was feeling a lot better about all of this.. Why didn’t I just call Tavish after I left my parents place instead of going to Becca’s?

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“And if I’m way off and you’re starting to want the things that Niko has, then do it. It’s been a long seven years, I know, but maybe it’s time to start doing things a little different if you’re not feeling fulfilled enough? Go for the change.. Go out with the girl AnneMarie wants to set you up with and enjoy yourself, take her out, talk to her, maybe kiss her at the end of the night, marry her eventually, or maybe not? Who fucking knows? Do whatever you want, though. If you’re not happy, then change things, and if you are happy, they keep doing what you do in order to keep it that way,” he concluded and I felt as if I was at a loss for words.

“You’re a wise, wise man, Tav,” I replied and he smiled.

“It’s been said,” he replied with a full ego and I chuckled softly.

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Ultimately, what I took away from all of that was Tavish was right.. I needed to start taking charge of things that I wanted, that I was jealous of, that I was sick of not having. I needed to stop feeling so sorry for myself and look at the bigger picture, focus on something more and focus on things that didn’t revolve around my own self pity and what brings me down just thinking about it. The first thing on my list of stuff to figure out? What the hell was wrong with August and Dad.

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I went out for a run this afternoon, but after thinking about what Tavish and I talked about a week back, my feet led me to August’s place. I walked through the open parking lot to the elevator that led up to the condos, but I didn’t look forward to seeing him. I’m not even sure if I ever really did.. I could already hear August’s voice in my head whenever he would answer the door, asking what the hell I was doing here or maybe just getting the door slammed in my face, but it as worth a shot, anyways. I wanted to get to the bottom of this.

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I lifted my right hand and balled it into a fist, pounding on his door and standing there, waiting, listening and trying to see if anyone was coming to answer it. After a long wait, I raised my hand again and pounded on the door once more, finally hearing some life from the other side.

“I’m coming! God!” I heard, although the annoyed, feminine voice that came from behind the door didn’t sound anything like Blair’s..

Oh, fuck.. Not her.. What the hell is wrong with you, Augie?

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The door flung open and Lien answered, a terrible woman that none of the family liked and someone I was surprised to see after the advice I had given August a while ago about how to get Blair back.. Clearly, however, he managed to fuck that up if she was here.

“Luca? What do you want?” She asked and the moment I realized she was wearing one of August’s shirts, I rolled my eyes with a face of disgust, pushing passed her and ignoring her to go look for my brother.

“Ew, you smell!” She exclaimed as she shut the front door and followed me into the condo.

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you run for exercise instead of making it through the day on your back,” I insulted and she didn’t seem too amused, “Where’s Augie?” I asked as I looked around the living room and kitchen, but no Augie in sight.

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“He’s in the shower.. Something you should consider doing a lot more often,” she replied with a snappy attitude that I was all too familiar with from her.

“Ever thought of washing all that ‘bitch’ off of you, or is that just permanent?” I asked in return, looking to her as I stood in the living room and she smirked.

“Well, this bitch can get you feeling pretty dirty in other ways,” she flirted, a trait of hers that seemed more dominant than the rest of them, but I cringed at the thought.

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I gagged a little, “Wow, sorry, I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit..”

“Oh, is the smell of all the meaningless sex and self pity you reek of making you sick?” She rebutted.

“..Are we still talking about me? Because that’s rich coming from you and where you are right now.. Wha’d Augie do? Call you out of the blue after ignoring you for a few months because he was with Blair? It must suck to always be the backup, huh?” I spat back and that seemed to be the one thing that phased her, but before she could reply, August came into the hallway with a towel on.

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“..What are you doing here?” He asked, though he seemed to not even care as he then walked to his bedroom before I could respond.

I followed him, wanting to get away from Lien and I stopped at the doorway of his room.

“I came to ask you something,” I replied.

“And, what? You wanna ask me something when my dick’s out as I change? Get the fuck away from my room and gimme a second,” he replied harshly before slamming the door in my face and I had no choice but to go back to the living room.. It seems I received both greetings from him in a little under ten seconds.

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After a few minutes, being forced to listen to the deafening silence of the room as Lien looked me up and down the entire time, August finally came out of the bedroom to where we were.

“Why’d you come here?” He asked, watching him walk passed us towards the kitchen and he grabbed a beer from the fridge.

I looked to Lien, “Do you mind, Medusa?” I said towards her and she rolled her eyes, walking out of the living room and going to the bedroom, shutting the door behind her.

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“So? What do you want? Come to steal my watch again, or maybe one of my records this time?” He named a few things I had swiped off of him in the past.

“I deserve that, but.. What the fuck is she doing here? I thought you patched things up with Blair?” I brought up immediately and he was quiet for a moment as he shut the fridge and twisted the cap to his beer off.

“..You didn’t tell her, did you?” I guessed, knowing he didn’t take my advice and he didn’t tell Blair that he loved her like I thought he would.

“No, I didn’t.. I wanted to get what we fought about behind us first, but.. It just didn’t work out that way,” he explained, taking a sip of his beer and standing by the counter.

“Coming from a guy that’s constantly looking for a fight.. How surprising,” I said sarcastically, “How hard is it? If you feel it, then why don’t you just say it?”

“Yeah? And how’d that turn out for you? Please, enlighten me,” he rubbed in my face with a hostile tone and I threw him a hard grimace as my anger rose quickly. I was getting really fucking sick of being reminded of that by every damn person in my life.

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“Fuck you, dude-”

“No, fuck you! Don’t give me that shit! You come here wanting answers to something I probably don’t give a shit about, but then you question me about my relationships when you haven’t had a real one in years? I’m not taking advice from a man who failed and got walked out on after he said it, that’s just pure stupidity,” he continued and I hung my head for a moment before I looked back up to him again.

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“You know what? You’re right. I did fail. But, what you have with Blair is so much different than what I did. You still have her, she didn’t abandon you and she still lives right here in town.. You let her go on without knowing what you really feel because you’re too much of a chicken shit to do it! At least I’ve fucking said it! What’s your real reason for not, huh? That thing in the bedroom cannot be the reason, either, I know that for a fact without you even saying it,” I argued back and the look on his face that he gave me told me all that I needed to know. He regretted not telling Blair when he had the chance, but I could also tell that he was already getting pissed off about my presence in general.. How surprising..

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A large sigh escaped passed his lips, “What do you want, Luca?” He changed the subject, which was probably better for the both of us.

“I wanna know what’s going on with you and Dad,”  I explained and his eyes held a hatred that I was familiar with, but I summed it up to his normal look, anyhow, and didn’t know how to read it.

“None of your damn business, that’s for fucking sure,” he replied harshly.

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“Come on, man.. Niko invited all of us to the house for a reason and you talked to Dad for two seconds, then split.. Do you have any idea what happened that night? What you missed out on because of whatever the hell you and Dad have going on?” I asked and he gave me a questionable look, as if he really hadn’t heard the news and I was disappointed all over again. He must be on his monthly binge of ignoring everyone’s phone calls..

“No.. What happened?”

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“..Niko proposed to AnneMarie,” his eyes widened behind his blonde hair, finally seeing an emotion besides anger from him.

I saw guilt.

“He did it at the beach behind the house after dinner.. A dinner that you missed, even a simple hello that you missed out on because you saw Dad, made a bee line towards him, did whatever the fuck you did, then left,” I continued and he looked down at his beer in his hand, shaking his head gently at himself.

Yeah.. You missed it.. So, tell me why,” I continued, but more so demanded, and he looked back up to me.

“You wouldn’t understand,” he said quietly.

“Try me,” I challenged.

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August came over into the living room and set down his beer on the table, sitting on the couch and I walked over to join him, sitting down as well and waiting for him to explain himself.

I spoke up first, “You know you can talk to me, man.. We’re brothers, I want to know what you’re dealing with so you don’t have to do it alone.. I know how you can get a little quiet about stuff and hide yourself away and I admit that I do the same, but come on.. I wanna help, if I can,” I continued, still watching him staring down at his beer and he made an expression I hadn’t seen in so, so long.. A look of hurt, maybe even a look of betrayal.. What the hell was happening between the two of them?

“I don’t think you can help,” he answered.

“And why not?”

“Because only Dad can, but he refuses to..”

“Stop being so damn vague.. What are you trying to get out of him?”

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“Well, you know that I wasn’t born from Cybal, right?” He asked and I squinted my eyes slightly in suspicion.. 

“..Yeah?”

“I just wanted to know who my mom was, that’s all, but Dad hates talking about her. It took me a long time to even find out what her name was, but he eventually told me..”

“And where are you going with any of this? Why is it so important to you?”

“I just want to know what happened.. Why they didn’t work out and why she left me in his custody.. Why she gave me up so easily,” he answered and I sighed softly.

“Have you ever maybe thought that you don’t have a mom? Because you don’t. None of us do, we just have Dad and Pop. Why isn’t that enough?”

“Because it’s not,” he stressed, frustration in his voice, “You all grew up knowing exactly where you came from, but I didn’t. Instead of being born from someone that wanted to give a family some kids, I was born from someone that wasn’t a surrogate.. It’s completely different, Luca.. Cybal isn’t your mom, but I had one.. Why don’t you think that that would bother me?”

Shit.. I guess I could see what he was trying to say, but.. Why now?

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“But, Augie, why the hell now? It’s been twenty six years and now you’re curious about it? That doesn’t make any sense,” I tried to understand.

“After finally learning her name, I tried to find her to get my own answers,” he admitted and I scoffed softly.

“Behind Dad’s back?”

“He had every chance to tell me this shit himself,” August immediately defended himself and I guess I couldn’t really argue with that, “Plus, it’s not like this is out of the blue. I’ve asked him a few times before to talk to me about it and he just really doesn’t like to. He says he doesn’t know what happened to her, but I can tell he’s lying,” he said with a rather solid attitude.

“What’s he told you, exactly?” I wondered.

“He said they had a home birth.. After I was born, they tried to get sleep and the next morning, she wasn’t there. It’s like she just disappeared into thin air. One day she’s giving birth, the next, nowhere to be found and no way to find her. She didn’t leave and check herself into a hospital to get checked-up, she didn’t go home, never went back to college.. She’s just.. Gone,” he went on and I found that to be very odd.

“That’s.. Weird..”

“Tell me about it,” he said rhetorically.

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“What’s so weird about it, though, is that whenever I try to talk to Dad, I really can’t tell how he feels about everything.. I can’t tell if he hates her and hates talking about her, or if he actually loved her and it pains him too much to talk about.. Kind of like how you are about your ex,” he brought up again and I was so over this subject.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake.. For the record, I don’t fucking love her anymore, okay? Let’s just.. Stick to one subject,” I expressed in slight annoyance, “And either way, Augie, it obviously upsets him no matter which way he feels about it. Why do you torture the guy?”

I’m torturing him?” August repeated my words in anger, “He’s the one that’s torturing me by not just telling me the damn truth! I don’t give a shit if it hurts him, what about me? Don’t I deserve some information? Some closure? Why the fuck did he never even sit me down and talk to me about it? Why was I the one that had to bring it up first? And then when I do, he wants no part of it! How the fuck is that far, Luca?” August was starting to get upset to the point where I didn’t know how to calm him down.

“Hey, hey, take it easy, okay? Listen.. Have you ever considered that maybe he’s protecting you from something? What if she was a complete bitch and treated Dad like shit? What if she just stuck with him long enough to give you up and after, she didn’t want to be a part of it? Ever think about maybe that’s why she can’t be found, because she doesn’t want to be? What if she just didn’t want anything to do with Dad? I know it’s harsh, but it could also be absolutely nothing against you, so why are you-”

“But, I want the reason. The real reason. I can’t just keep going off of what-if’s. None of this shit makes any sense and it’s driving me nuts not knowing.”

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“I can understand that, but why is this so damn important to you to the point where you’re breaking Dad down? I’ve seen the look on his face after he gets done talking to you and it fucking sucks! He looks as if he does hate himself for something, but maybe it’s just him being mad at himself for how upset you are over how he withheld all of that information? He hates making any of us mad or upset and you know how he gets.. But, he’d never intentionally hurt any of us, you know that.. It’s not like he’s getting a kick out of this stuff. This shit really does upset him, but if he gets so upset about it, then maybe you would get upset, too, if you knew the whole truth and he could just be trying to prevent that.. That’s just the type of guy he is,” I explained and August scoffed.

“You stick up for him way too much-”

Someone has to! You can’t be understanding about any of this shit. I bet even if he did tell you the truth, you’d still be acting like this and being a complete asshole! Lying or truth alike, it wouldn’t fucking matter and you’d still put him through hell for no damn reason. You fucking know you would, too,” I spoke the truth and he shook his head lightly.

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“I knew you wouldn’t understand,” he said softly with disappointment, standing up and taking his beer, “Don’t let the door hit you on your way out,” he finished coldly, walking away from me and I stood up quickly.

“Augie, come on, man, don’t be like that-”

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His bedroom door slammed shut and I sighed as I stood there alone, knowing he wasn’t going to come back out until I was gone and I had no choice but to leave. Well, at least I can say that I tried to help, and at least now I know what’s going on between Dad and August.. Tavish was right, yet again, maybe this is something between them that they need to figure out on their own.. August was right, too, I really don’t understand and I felt a little bad for acting like I did, but I can at least see why this bothers him so much.. I just have no idea how to help and that’s what bothers me the most.

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I left Augie’s and began the long run home, so caught up in my thoughts on the way to August’s that I hadn’t realized just how far I ran. I tried my hardest to understand what kind of position Augie was in, but it was hard to do because he was alone in this. I’m the first born from Cybal and all my siblings after me have only ever known Dad and Pop and we never have to worry about who our mother was because we didn’t have one, simple as that. But August was right, he actually did have a mother and she left him behind. Hypothetically speaking, if I had a mother that left Dad after the second I was born, I’d like to think I wouldn’t care and say good riddance because anyone that doesn’t like me can fuck off, but then again, I can’t honestly say what I would do because I’ll never be put into a position like Augie’s been forced in and I’ll never truly know how I’d react.. I think the thing that bothers me most about this, though, is that August isn’t happy with just Pop and Dad like the rest of us are. He wants more and it makes it seem like neither of them is enough for him. His mother had to have left for a reason, right? So why bother with the bitch at all?

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The only difference is that we came from different places. Cybal’s not our mother, she’s just the woman that brought my little siblings and I to life for Dad and Pop, but she’s still been a huge part of our lives, even August’s. She’s taught us all Spanish, she babysat us all the time and she loves all of us as if we were her own kids, like Juliana and Napoleon.. Well, I guess we technically are her children, but that’s not the point.. I would think that August would look at her as his motherly figure that he seems to crave and call it a day, but it’s just not good enough for him. He has all of his siblings, Cybal, our parents, Blair and even gross Lien.. How many more people does he need in his life before he’s happy? I just don’t get it.. I truly don’t.

I just hoped that August hasn’t been trying to look for her because of how differently his life is from all of ours, because it really isn’t at all and I fear the worst for him if he continues down this rabbit hole.. If Dad really is hiding something from August about his mother, then he must be doing is for a damn good reason.. He has to be.

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When I got home, I went straight upstairs to the shower. I took my hair down, jumped in and washed all of the stink off of me that Lien so nicely pointed out. I tried my best to stop thinking about August and how I could help him because I really couldn’t think of anything. This problem was so foreign to me and something I’ve never dealt with before, and as much as I wanted to help Augie so him and Dad could put this behind them, I just couldn’t. I hadn’t the slightest clue as to were to start helping, either.

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I got done showering and went to my room to change, but when I was about to get dressed, my cell phone rang and I saw that Niko was calling me.

“Hey, man, what’s up?” I answered.

“Hi! Do you have any plans tonight?” He asked straight off the bat.

“No, not that I’m aware of.”

“Are you busy right now?”

“No, just caught me getting out of the shower,” I replied.

“Oh, awesome!” Awesome? Why awesome? “I was wondering if you’d want to do something fun tonight?”

“..You’re still in town?”

“Oh, uhm.. No, I’m not,” he replied and I was confused a little.

“Sooooo.. Would you drive here, or are you asking me to drive there?” I wondered.

“N-No, that’s not, uh.. Dang.. I wasn’t exactly talking about having fun with me, in particular,” he hinted at and I was slowly becoming more suspicious of this phone call.

“So, what do you mean by doing something fun and asking me my plans for tonight if you’re not even going to be there with me?” I asked and he hesitated a moment.

“Well, I won’t be there, but someone will,” he replied in a rather quiet tone and it all suddenly dawned on me.. The blind date him and AnneMarie had mentioned to me a week ago.. 

If he was about to say what I think he was going to, I was going to drive all the way to the southern end of Cali and beat the shit out of him.

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“Niko?”

“..Yeah?” He asked rather questionably with a high tone.

“What did you do?” I asked with a dead serious attitude.

“I-It’s.. It’s not really what I did-”

“What did AnneMarie do?”

“Okay, don’t be mad at her, please? Promise?”

“Niko, I swear to God, man.. What the hell have you guys done?”

“It wasn’t my idea! I swear!” Niko stressed, trying to save his own ass.

“Nikolai!” I heard AnneMarie scolding him in the background, “Let me talk to him!” I heard her again and the phone was being passed on to her.

This can’t be fucking happening right now.

“Luca?” I heard AnneMarie’s sweet voice, “Look, honey, I’m sorry, okay? It was my idea to, well, trick you into seein’ Riley, which Nikolai ruined the surprise of,” she said in slight annoyance, knowing she had just shot Niko a strong glare before she continued, “I told her that you might be interested in settin’ somethin’ up with her, but after a week without hearin’ anythin’, she started to get a little down on herself and figured you weren’t interested anymore. I felt really bad, so I ended up tellin’ her that you finally called and wanted to set something up tonight and I convinced Nikolai to call you to get you to meet up with her. It’s all my fault, all right?” She explained and it was so hard to be mad at her.. Even if it was Niko’s idea, it was smart of her to take the blame because I could never be mad at AnneMarie, but this situation still sucked.

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“So, she’s under the impression that I set up this date, am I right?” I asked in slight annoyance.

“Y-Yeah.. I’m sorry, honey, but a week is long enough to think about it, right? I just kind of thought you might not figure it out ’till you got there and saw how lovely she was, so then it wouldn’t be a big deal anymore,” she continued and I sighed, trying to figure this out as well as try to keep my anger down while I was talking to her.

“Well, you better hope I like her, because after this, I’m not doing you any more favors. I don’t care how hot or perfect your friends are, I don’t like being put into these situations, especially if I’m not even aware of what’s going on and I don’t like not being in control of it, either. This is completely blindsiding and that’s exactly what I didn’t want,” I expressed.

“Understandable.. Do you want me to call her and cancel?” She asked, the most depressed I had ever heard her sound and I let out an aggravated groan before answering.

“Ugh.. No, it’s fine.. Where am I meeting her?”

“Okay, good. She’ll be at the tiki lounge at seven.. I hope you have fun, and you best not be using that dirty mouth around her, neither,” she added and I fought back the urge to tell her to fuck off strictly out of anger and to spite her.

“Thanks for this, AnneMarie. No really, thanks,” I said sarcastically and I hung up, tossing my phone on my bed and I stood there in the silence of my room trying to talk myself down from being so pissed off.

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Dammit.. I’ve been trying to better myself and open up to things a little more, take better control over my life, but some things are still hard for me. I did want to agree to this blind date bullshit eventually, but only after I had a lot of time to think about it and prepare myself, and to me, a week wasn’t nearly enough time. I felt a little guilty about AnneMarie telling me that her friend was getting a little discouraged and sad about how I hadn’t expressed any type of interest for a whole week, I could see how that might make her think I didn’t want to meet her anymore, but I wasn’t trying to go at her pace, I was trying to go at mine, and if waiting a week, a month, or even a year is what I needed, then that’s what I’d do.. However, I wasn’t as lucky to get as much time as I wanted and was being forced into this tonight. From what AnneMarie and Niko have explained to me about her, I guess tonight was the night to put their words to the test.

She better be fucking worth it.

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After calming myself down a little from being rather put off by this whole situation, I stepped over to my dresser and grabbed my contacts case, unscrewing each individual cap and I picked up the right contact first. I put it into my eye, no problem, but when I started to think more about tonight being a date, I started to get a little nervous again. My whole mindset was fucked up because of what I talked to August about, and now I had to force myself to be ready to go on a date that I wasn’t even prepared for? Not ideal in the slightest.. I hadn’t been on an actual date in years and even the thought of it made my hands shake a little bit.. I handled the left contact longer than I needed to before opening my eye and dropping it in, but something was off.

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“Ow, ow, ow, fuck,” I let out quietly the second that the contact met my eye, quickly taking it back out and giving it a look over. 

I ripped it.

“God dammit,” I said under my breath, knowing I should’ve just left them in during my shower instead of taking them out to clean them..

“Just my fucking luck,” I added as I then quickly looked over the top of my dresser, through my drawers and around my room, but when I realized I didn’t have any backup lenses, I had no choice but to put on my glasses.. I hated wearing my glasses.. I looked way too much like my Pop and they were annoying to wear, but I wasn’t going to go to this thing without being able to see, so I reluctantly put them on and got myself dressed.

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I checked myself out in a mirror, trying to figure out if I looked okay when Pia suddenly came barging into my room.

“Damn, Pi! You don’t knock? What if I was jerking off or something?”

“That’s what I was hoping to walk in on,” she joked and I cracked a quick smirk.

“Whatcha need?” I wondered.

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“Nothin’, I’m just bored and wanted to see what you were up to. What are you doing?” She asked back, curiosity evident in her voice.

“Do I look all right?” I asked, turning around to face her and she whistled flirtatiously towards me, which actually put a genuine smile on my face.

“You look hot! What’s the occasion?” She asked as she continued to look me over.

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“Got a date to go on that I was forced into,” I replied with an annoyed tone.

“Ohhh! With that girl AnneMarie wanted you to meet?” She asked and I nodded.

“Yeah.. Kind of pissed me off, too,” I added reluctantly.

“Noooo, don’t be mad,” she expressed, walking over to me and straightening out my collar and my clothes, “You look handsome, especially with your glasses on. The girl isn’t gunna know what hit her when she sees you,” she said with a smile and I couldn’t help but smirk.

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“Thanks, Pi.. I just don’t know if I’m ready or not. I haven’t even had time to think about it and prepare myself.. I feel like a lamb being thrown into a pack of lions,” I said with a rather lost tone and she scoffed.

“Oh, shush. You’re ready. It’s been a long time, but it’s not like you lost that charm of yours. That bed of yours is rarely empty, I know that ‘dating Luca’ is in there somewhere buried among your need for flings and sleazy past fucks,” she said with a smile and her words were a little more insulting than she led them on to be, but I couldn’t really deny it.. I guess I have been around a lot and have been successful with a lot of women, but this was different. This was one woman I felt the need to impress, and it also came with the end result of possibly needing to see her again.. Something I’m not too familiar with.

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“Who knows, maybe I’ll get lucky and she’ll never want to see me again after this, so I’ll just need to get it over with and put it behind me,” I added and she quickly hit my arm with a balled fist.

“Ow! Fuck, Pi! I forget how strong you are,” I replied in slight pain, rubbing the part of my arm she hit.

“Well, that’s what you get for being stupid! Don’t go into this just looking to fuck her and get it over with or else it’ll never end, you’ll be dying to get out of there and you’ll be a complete dickhead that leaves having a terrible time and without getting any. Open your mind a little a just relax. Embrace the change. Test the waters, you know?” She suggested and I gave her a suspicious grin.

“Have you and Tav been talking about me behind my back?” I asked and she smirked.

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“Only a little, and we think it’s exactly what you need. Hey, Niko said she was hot, right? At least it’ll be easy for you to flirt with her since you’re so good at it. Plus, what if she’s really nice and you end up liking her? What’s so bad about that?” She asked rhetorically and my expression fell blank, “Nooo, nooo, don’t you dare start thinking about that witch, anyways. She obviously didn’t know how good she had it. And past is the past, right? Let’s keep it that way,” she encouraged, feeling her finish fixing up my outfit for me and I nodded.

“Thanks.. I guess I’ll try it out, see how it goes..”

“That’s the spirit!” She tapped my chest joyfully, “Now go and have fun! I want you to come back with nothing but smiles.. Oh, and if you don’t come back tonight, I’ll just assume it went very, very well,” she added with a wink and I was finally able to hold a genuine smirk again.

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“Thanks for always helping me, Pi, you and Tav. I don’t know where I’d be without you guys,” I said genuinely and she smiled, reaching forward and pulling me into a hug and I held her tightly in return.

“Never a problem. Now go on, go get her,” she pushed me towards the door, “Good luck, and I hope you have fun! Love you!”

“Love back!” I added as I left my room and went downstairs and outside to my car.

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I left the house after straightening out my hair a bit and putting on some cologne in my car, driving to the tiki lounge as my nerves were still getting the better of me and I could barely hold on to the wheel because they were constantly getting clammy. I’m usually so composed and confident when going out to find someone to potentially have fun with, but this was nothing to compare a fling to and there was so much more pressure to impress and I also felt like I had to be on my best behavior. I don’t do well under pressure and I especially don’t do well in situations where I know I’m supposed to be a gentleman. My parents can attest to that. I just hope that I don’t make an ass out of myself, because if I screw up and make myself look like one, this won’t only be between Riley and I, AnneMarie and Niko will hear about it eventually, too, and Riley isn’t the only person I need to make a good impression for.

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I got to the tiki lounge a little before seven and as I walked towards it, I decided to test myself and see if I still had at least some composure.. I needed to be on my game tonight and if I could pull this off, I’d feel a lot more confident in myself..

A man walked towards me on his way out, nice shoes, nice clothes, clean.. Right when he was about to pass me, I acted as if I didn’t see him, yet deliberately bumped into him.

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“Whoa!” The man said in slight anger.

“I’m sorry, man, completely my fault. I wasn’t paying attention,” I apologized immediately.

“Well, keep your eyes open, will ya?” He warned and I nodded.

“I will, I’m just a little nervous because I got a first date tonight. My apologies,” I said with a sincere tone and he accepted it.

“Oh, well.. Good luck, I guess.. Just watch where you’re going next time,” he kept a serious face, though he seemed genuine enough.

“Thanks, man, I’m gunna need that luck,” I said with a nervous chuckle, “Have a good night,” I added and he continued on his way.

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I stepped off to the side of the building where a fog machine was going, pulling the wallet out of an inside pocket of my sweater I had stolen from the man and when I looked inside, I found a little over a hundred dollars, some coupons for some pretty nice cigars, and credit cards galore.

“Well, thank you, Mr-” I looked at his I.D., “Elliot DuPont, for paying for my date tonight,” I said to myself with a grin.

I took everything except things that had his name on them and when no one was looking, I tossed it on the ground somewhat in the path he was walking so if he ever came back, it would seem as if it just fell out of his pocket. I was already starting to feel a little better about tonight, too, now knowing my sleight of hand was still spot on.

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I waited by the front of the deck for about five to ten minutes, but still no Riley, so I took it upon myself to go onto the deck to the bar and have a drink so I could hopefully get my hands to stop shaking and sweating. The bartender was a friend of mine, Dillyn Beck, whom I’ve always gotten along with. I loved flirting with her, too, but she always seemed not interested, which made it funner, for some odd reason.

“Well, well, haven’t seen you here in a few weekends,” she began as I approached the bar.

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“Always good to see you, beautiful. I don’t know why I don’t come here more often just to see your face,” I decided to test out my charm level and by the way she gave me a flattered, yet coy smile, I’d say I was already succeeding.

“So, what brings you here? On the prowl for your next in-and-out?” She teased and I chuckled as I shook my head.

“That hurts, sweetheart, you make me sound like a complete pig.”

“You’re not?” She teased and I scoffed.

“No way! Ladies don’t only fall for my incredibly good looks, you know,” she rolled her eyes with a smile, “If you’d ever give me the chance, you’d see that I can be pretty charming and I’m definitely a giver,” I added as I wiggled my eyebrows suggestively. 

“Oh, is that all? Please, tell me more about how amazing you are and what I’m missing out on,” she said sarcastically.

“I’m really good in bed, too,” I bluntly replied with immense prowess and she laughed.

“I’ll take your word for it,” she replied with an amused smile, though still uninterested, “What can I get you to drink?”

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“Just a beer for now, I guess. I’m actually a little nervous about tonight,” I admitted and she got my drink ready.

“Oh? Why’s that?”

“I have a date tonight,” I said with a sense of confidence, actually starting to feel a little proud of myself for taking this step, even though I was tricked into it.

“Wait, wait.. That word is actually in your vocabulary?” She teased again and I chuckled.

“You’d know it was if you ever went on one with me, but now you may never know what they could’ve been like. Look, I know you can’t keep your mind off of me and this must be hard to hear, but you’re just going to have to accept that I might not be available anymore and know that you had plenty of chances,” I teased back and she laughed.

“I’ll definitely lose sleep over it,” she said with her famous sarcasm as she handed me my beer.

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Dillyn went off to tend to other customers and I didn’t really take my time with my beer, finishing it within about three minutes and ordering another, but with this one, I tried to go a little slower so I wouldn’t lose track, drink a little too much, and find out too late that I was buzzed. I didn’t want to make that kind of impression on Riley and I wanted to do this right the first time, so getting a few drinks in me before she gets here was strictly to calm my nerves, not to get drunk and be a jackass straight out of the gate.

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Throughout my entire second beer, which I really did take my time on, I had been constantly looking over my shoulder and around the area to see if I could find a pretty woman with short blonde hair and green eyes that would appear to be lost or looking for someone, but I hadn’t seen anyone like that yet.

It was almost seven thirty by the time I finished my second beer and I didn’t know what to do. She wasn’t standing me up, was she? Didn’t AnneMarie tell me she was looking forward to this? I was starting to get a little discouraged, sitting there staring at my empty bottle just counting the minutes go by.. I even debated whether or not I should leave so I could avoid looking like an idiot that got stood up on a date that he wasn’t even ready for, but..

..Maybe I’ll give her a a little more time..

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It was about ten minutes before eight and I was sick of waiting here for nothing.. I gave it my best. I showed up even though I didn’t really want to and I waited for almost an hour. She wasn’t coming.

I knew this was a stupid idea and I can’t believe I agreed to this. I thought I wasn’t ready to get back into the dating scene and I was right, because shit like this happens and there’s no way to see it coming. I wasn’t ready to get turned down like this and I wasn’t prepared on how to handle it if I did, so I slouched in the stool I sat on like a defeated man and even though I never even met the girl yet, I felt as if I was being broken up with.. Well, being stood up and broken up with weren’t the same thing, of course, but for me, it hurt just as much.

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I got up from the bar at five after eight, threw Dillyn a few bills and a nice tip and made my way off of the deck and towards my car. This was such a mistake, a stupid mistake that just made me look like an idiot and I can’t believe I even gave this a chance. This is why I don’t do blind dates. This is exactly why I don’t date at all. There’s always a risk of the other person never showing up, being abandoned and making yourself look like a fool because you thought this was going to be different, but in all actuality, things are just never going to change. I’m a lost cause and I’m really not worth anyone’s time.

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“Luca?” I heard from the area by the dance floor and before I unlocked my car, I looked over, seeing the woman that had been described to me getting up from her seat at a table by herself. 

I was.. Wrong?

“You’re Luca, right?” She continued, walking away from the table to come over to me, “Have you been here the whole time?” She asked with worry, her accent just as sweet and smooth as AnneMarie’s and once she came into the light so I could see her better, I was in awe.

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“Shit,” I expressed as I looked her up and down, but it wasn’t until I saw her cheeks blush that I realized I didn’t say that it my head, I said it out loud.

“I-I mean, shit, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that.. I, uh-” I stopped myself from talking, taking a moment to calm myself down and she giggled quietly as I took a deep breath, “Yes, I’m Luca.. And you’re Riley, right?” I asked.

“Yeah, I’m Riley,” she said with a sweet smile and instantly, as if nothing had ever happened, my defeated attitude about this whole thing disappeared, “How long ‘ave you been waitin’?”

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It was a little difficult to find words to say when I couldn’t stop staring at her and getting tongue tied.

“I, uh.. I got here around seven and waited at the bar,” I replied, still unable to take my eyes off of her. Niko really didn’t do her justice with his description of her, but I was glad to see that he at least wasn’t exaggerating at all, and if anything, he didn’t exaggerate enough. She was pretty breathtaking. 

“I got here about ten minutes after seven, but I just kinda assumed we’d be eatin’ together, so I got a table. I thought you might’ve been runnin’ a little late, too, but you were just sittin’ at the bar, huh?” She said with another soft giggle and I nodded.

“Y-Yeah.. I thought I was getting stood up, so I was just about to leave,” I replied and she made a concerned expression.

“I feel so bad, I should’ve checked the whole place instead of assumin’-”

“No, no, it’s my fault completely.. I should’ve waited for you in a spot you could see me easily, so I apologize,” I took the blame and I dared to think that she seemed a little impressed with me already.

“Oh, there’s no need for that. I’d hate for you to have left feelin’ like I didn’t wanna come, so I’m just glad I stopped ya before you drove off,” she expressed genuinely and I smirked.

“Yeah, me too,” I replied and she smiled sweetly again, “Do you want to go back to the table, now that we’re both here?”

“Yeah, let’s do that,” she agreed and I guided her back towards the table she had been sitting at.

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Wow, she was.. Something else. Something else entirely that caught my interest immediately. Her hair was a lot more blonde than I thought it would be, or maybe it was a silver color? Either way, I liked it a lot, and AnneMarie also wasn’t joking when she said Riley had such pretty green eyes that you could stare at them for hours. I actually wouldn’t mind if I got the chance to.

But, I couldn’t believe that a swear was the first thing that came out of my mouth, then with the stuttering? What was wrong with me? She looked past it a lot better than I could’ve asked her to, but that’s still not at all how I wanted to represent myself. AnneMarie told me to pretty much be on my best behavior and if Riley was anything like her, swearing was a turn off, and so far I didn’t think I came off as much of a gentleman as I had hoped I would.. But, from here on out, I’d show her as much respect as I could so just in case this thing doesn’t work out, there isn’t all that many bad things she can say about me other than that it just didn’t work..

Fuck, I really needed to stop thinking like that.. I feel like my dad and how he overthinks things and I really didn’t need that, especially at a time like this.

Calm down, Luca, just calm down.

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I pulled her chair out for her and she took her seat before I then sat in mine, taking another moment to look her over with a cemented smirk on my lips.

“You’re, uhm.. You’re single, right?” I asked first, keeping to the promise I had made to myself and she giggled softly.

“Yes, I am..” Awesome.. I’m in the clear of any competition I didn’t want.

“Well, then forgive me for being so forward, but.. You’re pretty beautiful, you know that?” I complimented right off the bat and she blushed profusely, knowing she wasn’t expecting it.. I was trying to make a smooth recovery after that bad first impression.

“Oh, stop that. You’re too kind, truly,” she said with a bright smile and already, I could tell she was a gentle and kind person. She oozed charm, just like AnneMarie did, and solely by her choice of words and how polite she was, she had to be just as sweet, too.

“Just pointing out the obvious,” I continued and she was still blushing, but for her own sake and seeming to be a little embarrassed, she changed the subject.

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“AnneMarie has told me a lot about you. I mean, we’ve been friends for so long and she’s known Niko so long, you’ve been mentioned a few times before this whole setup ’cause you’re his brother an’all, but she always talks about how much she loves your family. I almost feel as if I already know you a little,” she replied and I found that a little amusing.. You haven’t seen anything yet, sweetheart.

“I hope whatever they’ve told you were all good things,” I said the classic line and she nodded.

“Yeah, they were all very nice things. So many nice things, in fact, that I can hardly believe you’re anythin’ less than a gentleman,” she expressed and I laughed.

“Well, I don’t mean to disappoint, but I am definitely not as good as I’m made out to be.. All of that was definitely one big hype, I’m sure.. I don’t want you to have the wrong idea about me and be surprised by anything that you wouldn’t expect me to do because of someone else’s description,” I explained.

“Oh? You make it sound like you don’t want me to get to know you,” she said curiously.

“Well, I mean.. Do you really want to? I’m told that I can be a bit of a handful..”

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“Who on earth would say somethin’ that mean? I only just met you and you seem real sweet,” she complimented and I nodded appreciatively. 

“I’m just warning you that I can be a little bit, you know, out there.. I’m spontaneous, I like to drink, and I love to do anything that gets my adrenaline pumping. I’ll try anything once,” I explained a little more, yet she seemed more intrigued than I expected.

“I think I’m up for that challenge. I’ll have to think of some fun activities for us to do to keep you interested in me, now won’t I?” She said with a warm, inviting smile and I couldn’t help but take it a little sexually, which made me grin slightly.

“I commend you for your bravery,” I joked and she laughed.

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“So what do you do, Luca?” She wondered.

“AnneMarie or Niko haven’t already told you?” I asked and she gave me a coy smirk.

“I’d like to hear it from you,” she replied and I obliged.

“My dad’s a physical therapist and I didn’t know what to do after I graduated high school. I’m pretty athletic and pretty good with people, I’m told, so he suggested I become a personal trainer for the people that he gets done doing therapy with. For example, he’s had this one client since she was a kid, her knees were pretty messed up, but eventually, with a lot of patience and therapy, he was able to get her walking normally again. Once I got my certificate, she stopped going to her other trainers because she never really connected with any of them, but she’s known me a long time, so she felt comfortable with me even before I got into making it my career, or hobby, whatever it is,” I explained and she nodded in understanding.

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“Oh, she’s the one that’s datin’ August, right?” Riley wondered and I didn’t want to get into what they were going through right now, so I simply agreed.

“Yeah, that’s her.”

“Do you not enjoy what you do?” She asked, “I just mean that you called it a hobby, so is it not somethin’ you’re that passionate about?” She continued and I thought for a moment.

“You know, I-uh.. I don’t know, really. I like doing it and I enjoy how happy my clients are after they’ve made even the slightest progress, but do I want to do it for the rest of my life?” I asked myself aloud, “I guess only if I can’t find anything else better,” I answered, a slight shrug lifting my shoulders and I watched her think for a moment to herself, which made me the slightest bit nervous again.

“You must think I’m a mess or something.. Don’t have anything figured out with no goals in mind and-”

No, no, Luca, not at all!” She said with a smile, “I like that you’re keepin’ yourself open for new possibilities. Takin’ a chance is what it’s all worth, right? At least you can say you tried it,” she pointed out and I smirked slightly at how her words sounded like my own thoughts that I’d been having the past week since my talk with Tavish.

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We ordered a drink for ourselves and some food, continuing to talk into the evening and I was surprised at the fact that I realized way later into the date that I was nervous up until we sat down together. I was completely fine now and she actually made me feel pretty comfortable. It was nice talking to her and I absolutely loved listening to her talk. She could call me every terrible insult in the world and I’d still love hearing it with that accent of hers. 

“So, you’re a stylist, right?” I asked, putting the subject back onto her.

“Yeah.. Well, actually, more of just a general beautician or cosmetologist because I don’t only do hair, I do it all. I do nails, massages, hair and makeup.. Pretty much anythin’ else you can think of that involves gettin’ pretty, I ‘spose,” she said with a soft smile and I nodded. After she finished her sentence, I couldn’t really focus on anything else but her. I loved the way she battered her eyelashes when you could tell she was thinking, or the cute expressions she made when she was sheepish and the way she held her lips tightly together to keep herself from smiling so much. I think my favorite thing about her, though, was the way she smiled when she laughed.

“And just what are you lookin’ at?” She asked with a wide smile and a teasing tone and I smirked briefly.

“You really are the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time,” I complimented again and her cheeks immediately turned red.

“Didn’t I tell you to stop that?” She jokingly disciplined and I chuckled at how embarrassed she was, taking her hand within my own and pulling the top of her fingers to my lips to kiss them delicately.

“Can’t help it. Can’t be mad at me for being honest,” I answered and I could tell that she was appreciative of my words, though she seemed like the type that doesn’t really know how to handle a compliment. She doesn’t say ‘thank you’ as if she can accept it, her cheeks turn a brilliant red as if every time she hears it, she can’t believe it, and it’s hard for her to even look me in the eye after I say it.. But, I’m up for telling her how beautiful she is a lot more, so maybe eventually she’ll start believing it.

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So far, tonight has been pretty entertaining and I really enjoyed Riley’s company. Honestly, I knew I’d enjoy spending time with her from what AnneMarie’s told me about her, but I didn’t expect it all to go so well. I thought that we were going to hang out, have a few drinks, then call it a night, but even though we’ve been sitting here for an hour longer than I thought we would’ve, I didn’t want to say goodbye yet. I even already wanted another date with her.

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Since I loved how she smiled when she laughed so much, sometimes trying to hide her mouth with her hand, I tried to make her laugh as much as I could. One of the main things women look for in a man is a good sense of humor, right? It seemed to be going pretty well for me. 

To me, the cutest thing that a girl can do is try to hide her smile when she laughs. It’s the most glorious thing you could ever witness, making a beautiful girl smile. It makes you want to pull her hand away just so you can see a glimpse of it before it leaves her face.

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“Are you tired at all? I don’t want to be keeping you from anything,” I expressed with some hope that she still wanted to stay.

“To tell you the truth, not really.. I wouldn’t mind another drink or two.. But, if you want to leave, then that’s fine! I-I don’t wanna keep you, either-”

“I don’t have anywhere more important to be than here,” I replied happily and her cheeks were a slight pink.

“I’m havin’ a really nice time, Luca. Thank you for bein’ so kind,” she said with such a genuine sweetness that I felt as if I was getting a cavity.

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I got up from the stool and stood next to her, holding out my hand as my Pop had done for my Dad in order to get him to go see Niko get engaged and she looked to me curiously. I wanted to dance with her and touch more of her than just her hand.

“Well? Come on. You’ve been looking at everyone dancing all night, so let’s go,” I encouraged and she laughed nervously as she shook her head.

“Oh! N-No, no, it was just something to look at! I really can’t dance at all,” she expressed in embarrassment and I chuckled.

“Then just follow my lead. It won’t be hard, I promise,” I tried to inspire her, but she was still hesitant. 

“Is this you bein’ spontaneous?” She asked with a suspicious smile and I smirked.

“This is me wanting to dance with a beautiful woman that I’m having a great time with,” I said with a simple shrug, still holding out my hand and finally, after a few long seconds of her thinking about it and batting those long eyelashes of hers, she slipped her hand into mine and I helped her down off of her stool and guided her to the floor.. I knew taking pointers from my parents would eventually help me down the road.

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“Don’t laugh at me, please,” she said with a rather low voice so no one else could hear her and I smiled.

“Why would I laugh at you?” I asked as I showed her where to put her hands.

“Because, I don’t know how to actually dance. All I know is the Do-Si-Do and Square dancin’ and what not.. Not any of this fancy stuff,” she added.

“You’ve never been to prom or anything like that?”

“Well, yeah, I just didn’t go with anyone special. I went with a few girlfriends, but we all kinda just stayed off the floor if it was a slow song,” she admitted and she avoided eye contact for a moment.

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“Nothing wrong with that. But, I have to admit, it’s hard for me to believe at least ten guys didn’t jump at the chance to have you as their date.. You sure you’re not lying to me?” I replied with a grin and she looked back up to me with an appreciative smile.

“No fibbin’ here,” she confirmed.

“I didn’t go with anyone special, either. My friends and I left practically right after we got there because it was lame and I got my older brother to buy us some alcohol. We just went to the dock, brought a boombox and drank all night. When prom got out, too, everyone had the after party at the dock, so everyone was on the beach getting wasted in their tuxedos and dresses. Pretty wild night,” I explained and her expression then went excited.

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“Oh! AnneMarie’s told me a lot about the dock when her and Niko have gone there for parties.. Tell me more about it,” she implied excitedly.

“Well, it’s nothing special, just an old dock, but it’s a place where boats had to stop coming to because the water level had gone down so much over the years, rendering the dock useless, so it’s abandoned and is a really popular place for high schoolers and college kids to hang out at now and party without too much trouble from the cops. If you’ve lived in Sunlit Tides within the past one hundred years, you learn quickly that the dock is the place to be and a good place young people to hang out, so the cops never really liked to ruin our fun because they know what it represents and have experienced it themselves when they were younger, too. Only when it gets a little too loud and routy do the cops come and warn you to be quiet, but that’s about it.. I actually have a funny story about the dock with Niko, too,” I brought up and she smiled.

“I’d love to hear it.”

“Well, I loved going there with Niko when we were young and drinking together. It was always hilarious watching him be a good citizen and go after my empty bottles that I would chuck into the ocean when I was finished drinking them.. I’d always make sure to throw them really far, too, so he had to go into the water at least up to his waist,” I began and Riley giggled.

I continued, “This one time when I was sixteen and he was fourteen, we were sitting on the dock and I went to throw the empty bottle of scotch we ‘borrowed’ from our parents into the ocean, but Niko went to stop me and it ended pretty bad. I lost my balance on keeping myself on the dock and Niko was holding onto my arm to stop me from throwing the bottle, but I ended up falling off of the edge of the dock down about twenty feet and Niko was brought down with me. Luckily, even though I was drunk, I fell in a way where I let him land on top of me to lessen his fall and I broke my arm in the process. Being drunk helped it hurt less, too.. Niko walked away with only the wind knocked out of him, but I walked away with a broken arm and probably a concussion.”

“Oh my gosh, you poor thing!” She expressed with worry and it made me smile.

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“That night was a mess. We walked home because I refused to let Niko call our parents to come get us, I wanted to try to sober up a little before I faced them. Niko cried the whole walk home because he felt so bad for what had happened, he was scared of what our parents would say and getting punished for it, and also because he’s an emotional drunk, so once those tears started, he couldn’t stop them. When we got home, I did all the talking and we managed to get away with it for a few hours, but after we got back from the hospital from me needing a cast, Niko’s conscious got the better of him and he told our parents the truth..”

“Aww, he told on you?”

“Yeah, I got into a lot of trouble after that.. It’s still funny to me looking back on it, though,” I finished.

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“I wanna go there sometime and see what all the hype is about. AnneMarie has been there so many times with Niko and she always had stories to tell me,” she brought up again and I couldn’t help but feel like she wanted me to take her.

“I’m sure you’d have a lot of fun there. Next time I know of a party, I’d love to take you. Or, even if you just want to go there with me? ..Either way, could be fun,” I offered with a sly grin and she smiled wide.

“You mean, like, some kind of beach date?” She asked and I nodded, “You just want to see me in a bathin’ suit, don’t you?” She teased and I chuckled.

“That would be an amazing plus, sure, but.. I do actually enjoy hanging out with you. I’ve had a lot of fun tonight,” I replied genuinely and I could tell she was flattered by my words.

“Me, too,” she agreed and I couldn’t express how comfortable I had gotten around her as the night went on. It was actually really refreshing.. I forgot what it was like to actually spend time with someone you enjoyed to be around instead of making small talk until either of you were brave enough to instigate fooling around, which actually didn’t usually take very long, in some experiences. But, this was different and I was actually enjoying myself without thinking too much of what she looks like naked. I’d say that’s quite the accomplishment.

..However, now that I noticed I hadn’t been thinking about it, suddenly it was all that I could think about. Dammit, I was doing so good, too.

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She was so beautiful. With every minute that passed, she was getting better and better at this, which made me think that she actually did know how to dance.. Either that, or she was just a quick learner.. There were a few times where I had spun her around or dipped her back and she was all for it, arching her back perfectly as I supported her and the moment she’d shut her eyes to lean back, my view draped down her jaw to her collar bones, then down to her prominent cleavage that I found hard not to stare at every chance that I could without her noticing. There was even a few times where I felt myself getting excited just by the curves of her body that peaked through her clothing, as well as what I could feel, myself, but it was as if a war was going on in my head every time I looked, too.. 

..Stop staring at her chest.

Stop thinking about sliding your fingers up her skirt..

..I constantly had to remind myself to be respectful, but her body was too incredible not to think about.

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Around eleven thirty, after a few drinks and getting her to be comfortable with dancing a little more, I paid the bill with the help of the guy I had stolen from earlier and escorted Riley to my car.

“You took a taxi, right? I can just give you a ride home instead of you waiting here,” I offered.

“Oh, no.. That’s not necessary. My place is twenty minutes in a direction you ain’t goin’, I don’t want to inconvenience you at all,” she turned down the ride, but I didn’t want to take no for an answer.

“I really don’t mind. Plus, I kind of want to hang out with you for as long as I can until you want to tell me goodnight,” I replied and her cheeks went a soft pink.

“Can you drive?”

“Yeah, I only had a few beers and my last one was about an hour ago. I feel fine,” I assured her and the second that she nodded, I went around to the passengers side door and opened it for her, watching every curve of hers that she had as she sat in the seat and I gently closed the door behind her.

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As she gave me directions to her place, I pointed out a few spots along the way that were nice hangouts, decent cafes, a place that had the best Mexican food around, and even a few bars that were somewhat like the tiki lounge if she ever wanted a drink. Even though I lived about half an hour away from her, I still knew a lot about the areas around where I lived and a lot more than she did since she had just moved here, and she seemed to enjoy everything that I showed her along the way. We made jokes, subtle flirtations, casual conversations, the works.. I had a lot better time tonight than I thought I would and I was actually a little thankful to Niko and AnneMarie for making me do this.

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When I pulled into the driveway she pointed out, I looked at the odd looking home of hers that resembled that of a small abandoned warehouse and I chuckled softly as I got out of the car with her.

“What’s funny?” She asked with a smile and I tried to not make it seem as if I was making fun of it at all.

“Nothing, I was just.. I don’t know.. How do you fix up an abandoned warehouse? You’re not bringing here to kill me, are you?” I joked and she giggled.

“Of course not! And if you’re goin’ to judge it just by its cover, then you best believe I’m not invitin’ you in,” she teased and I chuckled again.

“No, no, it’s not that.. I just kind of expected you to live in a condo or an apartment or something since there’s so many around here in this area.. You don’t usually get this lucky with stuff like this. They’re real treasures, actually. I like the whole industrial look about them,” I explained myself and she smiled.

“It was labeled as a loft when I saw it online and it was super cheap, which is exactly what I needed since I spent all my savin’s on openin’ my salon.. My momma paid for some of the remodeling on this place, but I’ve completely redone it inside and put my own touch into it. It feels like a nice home now,” she answered and I kept my smile as I followed her.

“I’m glad it makes you happy,” I added and she tried to hide her blushing face as I escorted her to her front door.

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I noticed the workbench just outside of her door as well as another station next to it with a large block, “You sculpt?” I asked.

“I dabble. I haven’t even had time to use it yet since I’ve been busy getting my salon all set up. You ever tried it?” She wondered and I laughed at myself.

“No way. I’m not artistic, I could never make anything even if my life depended on it.. I could probably make that block into a slightly smaller block and that’s it,” I explained and she laughed.

“Well, maybe I can give you a few pointers sometime and you’ll be able to make something besides a slightly smaller block,” she joked back and I nodded.

“I’d like that,” I replied and she gave me a pleased smile as she stepped up to her door.

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A few feet from her door, Riley stopped and turned to face me, her eyelashes bouncing again as she thought to herself and I could tell she was trying to decide whether or not to invite me in. I really, really wanted her to, but, if it’s taken her this long already to ask me, then I knew she wasn’t comfortable with it..

“Do you mind if I, you know.. Get your number?” I asked and she looked up to me with bright, joyful eyes.

“Yes! Yes, o’course.. I’d feel so stupid if we forgot about doin’ that,” she expressed with a nervous laugh and I smiled as I took out my phone, adding her to my contacts and I texted her, as well, so she had my number, too.

“All right, I got it,” she confirmed and I tucked my phone back into my pocket and stood there for a moment, wondering what the hell you’re supposed to do at a time like this when I hadn’t gone on an actual date in years and I wasn’t sure if you should kiss them on the first or third date.. Or, no.. Is the first date kissing and the third date sex? ..Honestly, at this point, I had no clue what to do.

I’m thinking way, way too much about this.

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“Well, I, uh.. I had fun, actually.. I’m glad I got to meet you, Riley,” I expressed as my departure and she nodded.

“I had fun, too, Luca. Thank you for teachin’ me how to dance a little.. That was a first for me and it meant a lot, so.. Thank you,” she expressed with a sweet smile.

“No problem.. I’m glad I’m a good teacher,” I answered, a short silence falling over us and I could start to feel my heart beat picking up the pace.

“Well.. Goodnight,” she said quietly as she looked at me, but I couldn’t tell what she wanted me to do.

“Y-Yeah.. Night,” I answered, watching her turn around and go to her door and I sighed as I turned around as well and slowly walked to my car.

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I was a little disappointed that she had said goodnight to me and I wished she had made it more clear whether she wanted me to kiss her or not.. It seemed like she did, but then again, by how she stepped away from me after saying goodnight told me she didn’t. If I couldn’t come in, then I suppose a kiss could hold me over, but leaving with nothing at all? ..I wasn’t used to it and I didn’t like it.

Fuck it, I’m going back. At this point, I don’t really care anymore if she doesn’t want a kiss.. I’m gunna get one anyways.

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I turned around after only taking a few steps and I caught her before she went inside, pulling her away from her door and she let out a surprised hum when my lips suddenly met hers. I could tell she didn’t know what to do with her hands, not pushing me away, though they weren’t really inviting me in just yet, either. Although, after a second or two of testing the waters and never feeling her pushing me away, I went the slightest bit further and kissed her a few for times in a massaging manner, something she was welcoming more and more as it went on and I finally knew she was liking it when her hand came up to the back of my head to slide her fingers through my hair.

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I was glad to have finally gotten my kiss, but all that I could think about now was going even further and I knew she didn’t want to, I could tell by how hesitant she was by a simple kiss, but I just couldn’t help myself. I deepened the kiss by adding my tongue and I slowly pushed her back up against the brick, then pressed the front of myself against her and she was such a great kisser that I found it hard to stop or even take a small break. I slowly slid my hands over her sides and down to her hips, gripping them tightly as I then pressed my pelvis against hers, a risky move, and one that didn’t seem to pay off as I then felt her slowly end the kiss and pull back.

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“I-I’m.. I’m goin’ to have to stop you there,” she said softly through a light pant that escaped her lips and disappointment quickly replaced everything else I had felt just a second ago.

“I’m sorry, I just got a little ahead of myself, I guess.. I must’ve read things differently,” I answered.

“No, it’s all right, I’m just not one to move very quickly and if I don’t stop ya now, I think we’d regret it,” she explained and I nodded in agreement, even though I felt completely different about the situation. She might regret it, but I wouldn’t.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I replied reluctantly, “I’ll, uhm.. I’ll talk to you soon then?” I wondered and she smiled as she nodded.

“Yeah. Real soon, I hope,” she answered and I smirked.

“Goodnight, Riley.. For real, this time,” I somewhat joked and she giggled softly.

“Yeah.. Goodnight,” she answered, slowly pulling my hands away from her hips and I watched as she stepped away from me and finally went inside of her home.

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The second that her door shut behind her, I let out a defeated sigh, sticking my hands in my front pockets and slowly pulling myself away from her home and walking back to my car. This was a first, not being invited inside of a girls place so we can mess around, and as much as I enjoyed Riley’s company, I admit that I was pretty surprised when she turned me down since I thought I had done a good job with impressing her tonight, but.. I guess I didn’t impress her enough as I thought I had. Did she even really want me to kiss her? I thought she enjoyed it, but now I can’t stop thinking, what if she was just letting me kiss her and waiting for it to be over so she could finally go inside? She welcomed it later, but at first, she seemed hesitant about it.. Was I too forward? Too aggressive? I probably just ruined my chances with her completely and it’s all thanks to my stupid overconfidence.. I should’ve known better.

I don’t know what I was thinking agreeing to this date. I ended up making myself look like an ass, anyways.

Generation 5, Chapter 1

Hello all! Happy Birthday to TIDL (it was 3 years old yesterday), and today is the anniversary of me joining WordPress 6 years ago! :O

Enjoy the chapter! It feels awesome to be back for a new generation <3

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There isn’t all that much to me like everyone thinks there is. Everyone has it in their heads that I’m someone to be with, look up to, or someone to be jealous of, but in all actuality, it’s not true in the slightest. I’m really nothing special. Guys have this depiction of me like I’m some sort of God when it comes to women and they always ask me for advice or tips or whatever, but it’s so much simpler than that. All I do is treat women with the respect they deserve and men think that there’s some magic spell or something that I have up my sleeve. It’s a lot easier to not put on an act like I’ve see so many other men do, which ultimately gets them shot down.

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As far as women, it seems that I’m quite popular with them, but that doesn’t mean I’ll go home with any tail that comes up to me and bats their eyelashes. I have respect for women, but that also means I expect the same in return and even if they make it blindingly obvious that they’ll sleep with me if I so much as breath hard enough, it doesn’t mean I will. As far as looks, I’m not picky, but as far as everything else, I have my fair share of do’s and don’ts. The woman lying next to me, for example, had a lot more reasons behind the do’s.

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Although it didn’t matter all that much since we didn’t really plan on seeing one another again, her name was Jean and she was pretty fun. After I had met her at a beach party I had been invited to last night, we spent pretty much the entire time there joking around together and drinking, and then, well.. Now here we are.

I broke my view from staring at the ceiling and looked over to her, my eyes trailing from the back of her head all the way down to her pantie-less bottom and I enjoyed how her tan skin gleamed from the sunlight coming in through the windows of my bedroom. It made her look angelic. Hmm.. Maybe the guys were right, maybe I am some sort of God since all I ever have around me are angels.

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I glanced at the clock in my room and it was a little after one in the afternoon, realizing we had slept in a lot longer than I wanted to and I just remembered I had an appointment with Blair at two.

I scooted closer to Jean and put my hand on her hip, sliding it slowly down her leg and her skin was just as soft as I remembered from last night. I leaned into her a little more, her hair smelling like cherry pie and the lotion I could smell on her skin was that of warm vanilla, a calming combination that I very much enjoyed. 

“Hey.. Sweetheart.. You gotta be anywhere? Work or something?” I whispered softly and she let out a soft moan before replying ‘no’.

“Okay, well.. Normally, I’d let you sleep in as long as you wanted, but I got work in about forty minutes and I still have to shower and all that, so it’s time to get up, okay?” I added, trying my best not to be an asshole and rush her or make it seem like I was kicking her to the curb, although to anyone else, it would seem that that’s exactly what I was doing.

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I sat up when she did, a yawn forcing my jaw open for a few seconds and I cracked my neck as I watched her dangle her legs off the side of the bed. She took a moment to wake up a little more by stretching her arms over her head, my eyes finding so many little details about her skin and the way her muscles moved beneath it that I almost wanted to say screw it to my appointment with Blair and have one last go at this girl, but I quickly talked myself out of it within seconds.. I really didn’t have the time and doing things like sex more than once on separate days told them more than I ever intended to say. I wasn’t and haven’t been in the right mind for a long time to handle something as dedicated and difficult as dating, so one-time things have become a lot more frequent and normal for me.. More comfortable and a lot easier to deal with.

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Jean stood to her feet and walked around my room naked, watching her and trying to get one last good look before she covered herself. She picked up her panties first, slipping those up her legs and as she made her way over to her pants and shirt lying on the floor, she looked at me curiously.

“Can I ask you something?” She wondered as she pulled her pants up her legs and fastened them.

“Of course,” I welcomed with a smirk.

“Might be a stupid question, but last night is still a bit fuzzy, so.. Did we wear something?” She asked as she threw on her shirt, hinting at protection and I nodded confidently.

“Yeah, we did, and that’s definitely not a stupid question by any means,” I replied and she seemed relieved even though I was fairly sure she knew, but just needed a reminder to put her slight worry at ease. I’m big on any and all types of protection. There’s only been one time that I haven’t used anything and it was with the girl that took my virginity and I took hers, too. We mostly did it like that for the first half of it just to see what it felt like, but even then, we still didn’t finish without anything.

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“Well, uh.. I guess I’ll get going now and let you get ready for work,” she said with a brief and awkward giggle as she slipped her shoes on.

“All right. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime?” I threw out there casually, not really knowing what else to say and she shrugged.

“Yeah, maybe,” she replied with a sweet smile, walking over to me and kissing my cheek, “See ya,” she added.

“Bye,” I answered before watching her make her way to my bedroom door and seeing herself out.

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I let my body go limp and I fell back onto my bed, a large sigh escaping my lips and looking back up at the ceiling for a moment longer before getting up to get ready. My dad was a physical therapist and it was his idea that I go into personal training for a job since I had no desire to go to college. I still had to get some kind of certification, but it didn’t take me long at all. It was easy to get started, too, because whenever my dad was done with a patient of his, he’d recommend them to me to help keep up with their physical training and to keep their limbs and joints and everything else strong after their recovery with him. Blair was one of my dad’s patients for a long time, her knees being her weakness, and she’s tried many different personal trainers, but once I got my certification a few years ago, she started coming to me and it’s been working out pretty well. My dad told me she had a hard time finding a physical therapist when she was younger and he’s the only one she ended up liking. It’s been the same way with me, too, because she tried a lot of different people before finally coming to me. Maybe she liked the vibe our family gave off, maybe we made her feel the most comfortable, maybe she wanted to stay close to us so she could stay close to August, but whatever the reason was, it didn’t really matter in the end.. As long as she was getting the treatment she needed, which she was and has been since she met my dad and then starting coming to me, her knees would only get better and better.

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After lying in my bed for ten minutes doing nothing, I got up and finally jumped in the shower so I could meet Blair on time. I wondered if August would be there with her today? He’s a pretty jealous person and he’s protective of Blair, he didn’t even trust her being alone with me even though he had nothing to worry about. I’d never do anything with her in a millions years because of the fact that her and August had a past and she’d never do anything with me, either, for the reason that he’s my brother, but August was still kind of a freak about us together for whatever reason. I’ve told him a million times that he has absolutely nothing to worry about, but.. August never believed it. There have even been times where he’d come along and watch our routine together, but the second I’d put my hands on her to show her how to stretch or work out correctly so she didn’t hurt herself, he’d go ape-shit. She’s usually able to put him into his place whenever that happened and he’d stop being an asshole, but it still made us both uncomfortable when he’d just sit there and watch us, or rather, watch me, like a hawk. He’s been coming around a lot less when she has her appointments with me because she isn’t able to focus with him there.. Sometimes he’s good about it and stays where he’s told to stay like some kind of disciplined, trained dog, but he still sometimes doesn’t listen and shows up randomly because, well.. I don’t even know why.. Maybe he’s less of a good dog and more-so a puppy in constant training that no one wants to deal with.

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When I got out of the shower, put my contacts in and got dressed, I went downstairs through the house until I came to the kitchen where I saw my two best friends and roommates, Pia Salves and Tavish Woods, talking about something.

Pia was incredible. She was the life of every party wherever she went, she was funny and flirty and smart and beautiful and sassy and I could go on and on about her. She and I had a lot in common and although there was never a spark of romance between us, there was definitely a spark of something that drew us to one another and we’ve been together since high school. Tavish, on the other hand, was a lot different than Pia and I, but that’s what I loved the most about him. He’s funny and brash, sarcastic and incredibly smart, and we had a lot in common when it came to athleticism and especially women. It made it really easy to be able to open up to him since he’s been through a ton of the same stuff I have. Pia and Tavish were friends before they met me, so they went back a little further than all three of us combined, but they welcomed me into their duo with open arms and I’ve never regretted knowing either of them for a single second. I’ve never said anything like this to them and neither have they to each other or to myself, but we don’t need everything to be laid out on the table in order to completely understand one another. I know they care about me and they both know I’ll never stop caring about them.

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“Hey, what’s up, guys?” I announced as I came into the kitchen and the first thing I did was take Pia’s freshly poured coffee that sat in front of her.

“Pia fucked up last night,” Tavish announced as I took a sip of the hot coffee and I grew concerned.

“What, why? What happened?” I asked.

“Tell him,” Tavish encouraged with a smirk and Pia was already annoyed.

“Wipe that stupid smile off your face and I will,” she warned and Tavish chuckled.

“I’m sorry, it’s just funny,” he said with a shrug.

“It’s not funny-”

“Ehhhh, it’s a little funny,” he gave a rebuttal.

“Okay, okay, what happened?” I broke up their little battle and Tavish kept his mouth shut so Pia could explain.

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“So, you know the girl I’ve been seeing? Tessa?” Pia asked and I nodded, “Well, last night when we were at the party we all went to, somehow the subject of ex’s came up and-”

Somehow?” Tavish accentuated with surprise, “You always bring it up. It’s like some kind of bait you use on a hook to eventually real them in, then when they’re almost there, you catch them by telling them how great it is with them now to tug at their heartstrings and hopefully get lucky,” he pointed out and I smirked.

“You do do that a lot, Pi..” I confirmed and Tavish laughed softly.

“Because it fucking works, all right?” Pia defended.

“Not this time..” Tavish said under his breath.

“I will seriously burn you with my coffee,” Pia added, going to grab her cup, but missed because I had taken it. She shot me a look as if she was going to grab a knife off the wall and stab me with it, so I gave it back to her quickly before the thought could cross her mind.

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“So, anyways.. Continue,” I said politely to stay on her good side.. I’d hate to get stabbed after only waking up a little less than an hour ago.

Anyways.. I brought up the subject and it was all going fine, we were laughing and drinking, whatever, so I continue to talk about my ex and also how stupid her girlfriend was at the time because she was dumb and completely oblivious that her girlfriend was cheating on her with me while they were still together. I must’ve called her ten different s