“Charlie…” he starts, almost as if my name is a warning.
“What would Silas say?”
He stands up and so do I. I watch him run a hand across the back of his neck, my heart pounding like it’s trying to break free and run out of the room before Silas can get to it.
“Are you sure you want to play?” he asks, raking over me with his eyes.
I nod. Because why not? According to our letters, it won’t be the first time we’ve done this. And chances are, we probably won’t even remember it tomorrow. “I’m positive,” I say, attempting to come off way more confident than I feel right now. “It’s my favorite thing to do.”
He suddenly looks firm, more planted in his own skin. It’s thrilling to watch.
“Silas says…take off your shirt.”
I raise my eyebrows, but do as I’m told, lifting the hem of my shirt over my head. I hear his intake of breath, but I can’t seem to meet his eyes. The strap of my bra slips down my shoulder.
“Silas says…lower the other bra strap.”
My hand shakes a little as I do. He takes a slow step toward me, staring down to where my arm is still crossed over my chest. His eyes flicker up to mine. His mouth turns up at the corner. He thinks I’m about to quit playing this game. I can tell.
“Silas says…open the clasp.”
It’s a front clasp. I keep my eyes locked with his as I unlatch it. His Adam’s apple bobs as I shrug off my bra and hold it on the tip of my finger. The cold air and his eyes make me want to turn away. His gaze follows my bra as it falls to the floor. When he makes eye contact with me again, he’s smiling. But he’s not. I don’t know he does that—looks so happy and so serious at the same time.
“Silas says come here.”
I’m not able to turn away when he looks at me like that. I walk toward him, and when I’m near enough, he reaches for me. He puts his hand behind my head and threads his fingers through my hair.
“Shut up, Silas,” I interrupt. “Just kiss me.”
His head dips and he catches my lips in a deep kiss that tilts my head up to meet him. He presses his mouth against mine in a soft kiss, once, twice, three times before parting my lips with his tongue. Kissing Silas feels rhythmic, like we’ve had more than just this afternoon to figure it out. His hand tightly gripping my hair at the scalp makes me weak in the knees. I am out of breath and my eyes are glazed.
Do I trust him?
I trust him.
“Charlie says take your shirt off,” I say against his mouth.
“This game is called Silas says.”
I run my hands up the warm flesh of his stomach. “Not anymore.”
“Charlie Baby,” I whisper, sliding an arm over her. I press my lips against the curve of her shoulder. She rustles, then pulls the covers over her head. “Charlie, it’s time to wake up.”
She rolls over to face me but stays under the blanket. I lift it over my head until we’re both covered. She opens her eyes and frowns. “You smell good,” she says. “No fair.”
“I took a shower.”
“And brushed your teeth?”
I nod, and her brow furrows.
“That’s not fair. I want to brush my teeth.”
I lift the covers from her head and she puts a hand over her eyes and groans. “Then hurry up and brush your teeth so you can come back and kiss me.”
She crawls out of the bed and makes her way to the bathroom. I hear the sink begin to run, but that’s quickly drowned out by the noises that come from downstairs. Pots and pans clanking together, cabinet doors slamming. It sounds like someone is cleaning. I look at the clock and it’s almost 9:00 a.m.
Two more hours.
My bathroom door opens and Charlie runs across the room and hops on the bed, quickly pulling the covers over herself. “It’s cold out there,” she says, her lips quivering. I pull her to me and press my mouth to hers. “Better,” she mumbles.
And this is what we do while I try my best to lose track of time. We make out.
“Silas,” she whispers as I’m working my way up her neck. “What time is it?”
I reach over to the nightstand and look at my phone. “Nine fifteen.”
She sighs, and I know exactly what she’s thinking. I’m thinking it too.
“I don’t want to forget this part,” she says, looking at me through eyes that look like two broken hearts.
“Me neither,” I whisper.
She kisses me again, softly. I can feel her heart racing through her chest, and I know it isn’t because we’re kissing under my covers. It’s because she’s scared. And I wish I could make it to where she isn’t scared anymore, but I can’t. I just pull her to me and hold her. I would hold her here forever, but I know there are things we need to be doing right now.
“We can hope for the best, but I think we should prepare for the worst,” I tell her.
She nods against my chest. “I know. Five more minutes, okay? Let’s just stay under the blanket for five more minutes and pretend we’re in love like we used to be.”
I sigh. “Pretending isn’t necessary for me at this point, Charlie.”
She grins and presses her lips to my chest.
I give her fifteen minutes. Five isn’t enough.
When our time is up, I crawl out of bed and pull her up. “We need to eat breakfast. That way if 11:00 a.m. hits and we freak out again, it’ll be a few hours before we have to worry about food.”
We get dressed and head downstairs. Ezra looks like she’s cleaning up breakfast when we walk into the kitchen. She sees Charlie rubbing sleep out of her eyes and she raises an eyebrow in my direction. She thinks I’m pushing my luck having Charlie in this house.
“Don’t worry, Ezra. Dad says I’m allowed to love her now.” Ezra returns my smile.
“You two hungry?” she asks.
I nod. “Yeah, but we can make our own food.”
Ezra waves a hand in the air. “Nonsense,” she says. “I’ll make your favorite.”
“Thanks, Ezra,” Charlie says with a smile. A mild look of surprise passes over Ezra’s face before she walks to the pantry.
“My god,” Charlie says under her breath. “Do you think I really used to be that awful? That it was shocking to ever hear me say thank you?”