One Week 'til Christmas
Just under twenty-four hours later, I was at Declan's flat, confused as ever. Again, I hadn't heard from him all day, apart from when I text him to check we were still on for a movie, and he confirmed with a very simple: Yes :-)
At least he hadn't changed his mind.
I had no idea what to expect from Declan's place. Would it be messy or neat? Crammed with stuff, or minimalistic? Would there be dishes in the sink, or dirty socks on the floor? These little musings kept my brain busy while I waited for him to answer the door. It was freezing outside, and it took him so long to answer, I was concerned he'd forgotten me and gone out. The lights were on, though, and eventually I heard him thudding down the stairs, and he finally opened the door.
His t-shirt was slightly twisted at the top, as if he'd only just thrown it on, and his hair was dishevelled, like he'd just run his hands through it. Even though he was scruffy, my body reacted at the sight of him. Heart rate increasing, palms sweating just a little. I tried to subtly wipe them on my coat as I said, “Jesus, Dec! What took so long? There are snowmen that are warmer than I am right now!”
He smiled, a smile that both sent my heart galloping away and eased my nerves all at once. He tugged at the bottom of his shirt to straighten it. “You'll see.”
Declan let me in and led the way up the stairs. The scent of him attacked my senses; it was in the air all around me, startling me because I hadn't realised I was that familiar with him. He took my coat and hung it up on a hook by the door. Still shivering from the biting chill outside, I tugged the sleeves of my jumper down over my hands, then wrapped my arms around myself.
“Sorry I left you out there. You'll soon get warm, though. The heating's been on for a while.”
“Quite the romantic, aren't you?” I teased.
“Don't mock me, Eden. I put a lot of effort into tonight.”
He nodded, and opened the first door to the right which led to his living room. “Go in,” he said, grinning.
Unsure of what I might find, I took a tentative step inside. At first, I wasn't sure what I was supposed to see. The room was surprisingly tidy, and there was a widescreen television in the corner, facing towards a black leather sofa. A coffee table sat in the centre, and various games consoles and games were stacked up against the wall. I jumped as Declan rested his hands on my shoulders and gently turned me around to my left. In the corner behind the door was a Christmas tree, decorated with gold and white baubles and tinsel, and elegant white lights.
“It's a Christmas tree,” I said, dumbly.
“Yes. It's a Christmas tree. A Christmas tree I just put up, and risked my masculinity by decorating it with sparkly crap.”
I spun around to face him. “You just did this?”
He nodded. “I couldn't stand to hear you complaining about my lack of Christmas spirit, so I got my tree out.”
If I'd been more certain he'd catch me, I'd have leapt on him. I truly hated to see un-decorated homes at Christmas, but I'd expected Dec's flat to be void of anything even slightly seasonal. We'd already discussed how he disliked this time of year, so the fact that he'd done this made me want to squeal with joy.
“Declan Fox, did you do this to make me happy?”
“No.” He shook his head, but gave in to a chuckle. “I did it to stop you nagging me.”
I loved that he'd made an effort. It made all the doubts I'd let pile up in my head seem ridiculous. He did care. Instead of saying so, he sent messages, and decorated Christmas trees.
“Whatever,” I said, laughing. “It looks great, but you do understand you haven't finished yet, don't you?”
His brow furrowed in confusion, and I nodded in the direction of the box beside the tree, which had hanging decorations poking out of the top. “There's more decorating to do!”
“Oh no,” he said, shaking his head. “This is enough torture for me.”
I smirked. “Fine. I'll let you off for now. But by the time I leave, those decorations will be up.”
“And just how do you plan to convince me?”
A flirtatious twinkle sparkled in his eyes, making my pulse spike. He really was going to kill me if my heart kept thundering every time he looked at me that way.
A coy grin crept across my lips. “I'll think of something.”
Declan was right. I quickly warmed up, possibly helped along by the hot chocolate with marshmallows he handed me. The evening was relaxed, and again, I found him easy to talk to, just as I had in the car on the drive home. After a while of general chatter about what we'd been up to over the last few days – because we never talked about that during our text messages – Declan's mood grew serious.
“Eden, I really am sorry about last night. I planned to come, but-”
I waved my hand dismissively. “It doesn't matter. I understand, you had a long day.”
“I know, but I also said I'd be there. I shouldn't have let my mother get to me, but she always does.”
Playfully nudging him, I said, “Luckily, you can always count on me to cheer you up!”
He shrugged, almost as if he hadn't heard me, then said, “So, how am I doing at making it up to you?”
I let my head drop to one side, putting on a show of thinking it over. “Well, so far, not bad. But I wasn't that disappointed.”
Declan scanned my face with a kind of amused intensity. “Liar.”
“Ha! Just when I think you're done with that old skool arrogance...”
“It's not arrogance if it's true.”
With a roll of my eyes, I said, “Right. You invited me here to make up for 'breaking my heart' over a missed movie date.” I used my fingers to make air quotes, highlighting my sarcasm, and he laughed.
“Not just that.”
“Because I wanted to see you. I could have taken you to the cinema, but this seemed... better. Nobody else around. No chance of seeing anyone we know, and them gossiping about us.”
My inner insecurities stirred at his words. “You don't want to be seen with me?”
Why would he? You're the chubby girl. The girl men bypass for your significantly hotter friends.
Like Meg? Who Declan bypassed for me. And for the record, I wasn't really chubby anymore. I'd dropped a dress size since the day I left college – but in my head – well, let's just say my confidence levels hadn't improved much from my school days.
Declan studied my face again, like I was a particularly unusual car part, or something, and he couldn't work out where I fit. Actually, that was a pretty decent analogy.
“That's not what I meant.”
“What did you mean?”
I asked the question with trepidation, knowing full well he could dash any hopes I had of starting something with him with his next sentence. I'd figured out during the evening with him that I wanted to explore this... thing. I just didn't know if it was what he wanted. Or if the “thing” was completely inside my own head. While I waited for an answer, my eyes flickered down to his lips. With him watching me so closely, like I was the only person left in the world, I wanted nothing more than to lean forward and kiss him. To relish in the warmth of his lips on mine, and to relax, knowing it wasn't just a dare, and we didn't have to stop because there were other people in the room.
“I meant what I said, Eden. Being alone with you is better.”
Unsure what to say, I took in a deep breath. Could he hear my heartbeat? It was pounding in my ears and nothing had even happened yet.
“So... are we going to watch a movie?”
I needed the time to calm down again.
Declan grinned. “I thought you wanted to put the rest of the decorations up.”
The mood lightened when he smiled, and I nodded. “Sounds like a plan.”
Declan paused, shuffling a little. His expression changed from a smile, back to seriousness. No. More like... nervousness. The same nervousness I'd felt just seconds before when trying to stop myself smothering his lips with mine. The same nervousness that crept back through me while I waited for him to elaborate. All I could do was wait, and watch as he breathed deeply for a moment.
It wasn't slow, or even take-me-now fast. Declan launched himself forward and kissed me like he'd been waiting his whole life to press his lips against mine. My eyes widened, but only for a second before they fluttered shut. I didn't care about the sloppy execution. I cared about the fact that I was getting the kiss I wanted, and in the time it took me to place my hands on his shoulders to steady myself, the awkwardness faded, and we sank into a perfect rhythm, lips moving in sync, bodies trying to get closer. I unfolded my legs from beneath me, and in a totally shameless move, I pulled him down on top of me so we were lying on the floor. He didn't appear to mind, and his hands cupped my face as his tongue nudged against my lips, seeking entry. A throaty moan slipped out of my mouth as his tongue found mine, and I finally, finally, raked my hands through his hair, finding that one part that always stuck out and gently tugging at it, winding it around my fingers.
I'd imagined a moment like this an embarrassing amount of times, not just over the last week, but sporadically over the years I'd known him. His hands exploring my body, mine trailing over every inch of his skin.
“Eden,” he whispered against my mouth. “I... This wasn't why I invited you over.”
I felt his smile against my lips. “I hoped. Didn't expect. But... if you want to stop, can you tell me now? While I still have some self-control.”
His words, and the warmth of his breath tickling against my cheek fuelled the fire inside me, but my brain screeched out a warning. What if this is all he wants? What if it's just sex?
How could I even ask? What would I say? Did it even matter? With his hands tracing soft circles up and down my waist, it didn't matter. My skin already tingled from just that tiny movement; how would I feel when he pressed harder, gripped my hips...
“I don't want to stop.”
Relief flashed in his eyes and he rolled away from me, then reached for my hand.
“But it's pretty in here.” I glanced over at the Christmas tree lights flickering slowly, casting a warm glow on the darkened room. “Can we just move onto the sofa?”
It was an odd thing to be focusing on; maybe it was an attack of nerves, but if this was to be a one-off, I wanted it to be memorable.
Declan nodded and rose to his feet, pulling me up too and drawing me back into him. My stomach flipped over with delight as his hands slid down my back, then slowly pushed my jumper upwards, and then off. His gaze rested on my almost-naked chest, causing my cheeks to flush. My instinct was to use my arms to cover myself, but the second they twitched, Dec rested his hands on my waist and drew me to him again, easing my momentary panic. He didn't look like the sight of me half-undressed repulsed him. If anything, it made him kiss me harder, pushing his hips into mine.
Everything was happening at a pace I would normally have tried to slow down, but Declan wasn't some random I'd picked up on a night out. Everything I'd ever felt for him, the good and the bad, had gotten mixed up together, culminating in this need to be as close to him as possible. To have him want me the way I wanted him.
I wound my arms around him, trailing kisses down his neck, and he manoeuvred me onto the sofa. As he climbed on top of me, he unclipped my bra, discarding it on the floor, and I couldn’t help gasping as his mouth closed over my breast.
Every concern, every doubt I'd had dropped out of my head. His movements dominated my mind, and every sense I possessed filled up with his touch, his scent, the sound of his laboured breathing.
I couldn’t reach to unbutton his shirt yet, instead I slid my hands underneath it, clawing lightly at his back. My heart raced when his hands moved downwards, unbuttoning my jeans, and I raised my hips so he could tug them off. I pulled him back to me by his shirt, but he didn't give me a chance to take it off. He pushed my underwear to one side, his fingers brushing teasingly between my legs as he kissed me, muffling my whimpers of desperation to have him inside me.
He was driving me crazy.
Mustering all the strength I had left in my desire-weakened body, I rolled over so I was on top. I put my hands on the top of his shirt, ready to tear it off, but briefly looked at him for confirmation first, unwilling to risk damaging something expensive.
Declan grinned up at me. “Rip it.”
My hands tugged at the shirt, forcing it open. I let my lips glide along his chest, relishing the feeling, the taste of him, and he let out a groan. The sound made me smile, spurred me on and I reached down to undo his jeans. We shed the rest of our clothes until we were both completely naked.
Declan flipped us over so he was the dominant one again, but slightly misjudged the size of the couch, and we both fell to the floor with a thump, him crashing in top of me. It took only a second for the shock of the fall to leave me, and while I burst out laughing, Dec looked horrified.
“Are you okay?”
I nodded, unable to control my giggling. “This never happens in the movies, does it?”
In truth, the tumble had chased away the last of my nerves. So, it wasn't going to be perfectly executed sex, but it pretty much symbolised everything we were about. For a while, everything was great until we hit a stumbling block. All that was left now was the part where everything got better after the blip.
“I can't concentrate while you're laughing,” Dec said, even though he was smiling, too.
Damn, he looks good naked and on top of me. The firmness of his chest and arms was nearly enough to bring me back to the moment we were having before he almost flattened me, but the image of the panic on his face wouldn't shift out of my mind.
“Well, you'd better distract me then,” I told him.
His eyes lit up at the challenge and without any warning, he sank a finger inside me, forcing me to let out a sharp gasp.
I hooked one leg around his hip and moved against him as his lips crushed against mine. I reached for the hardness between his legs, but the second my hand touched, he gasped, his fingers stopping their rhythm. “Sorry,” he closing his eyes. “I don't think I can hold off if you...” Declan's sentence trailed off and he groaned. “God, I sound like I haven't done this before. In case you couldn't tell, it's been a while.”
“For me, too,” I told him, trying to catch my breath. “So, let's not wait.”
Lifting my head, I kissed him, moving my hands around to his back again, and he slid himself into place.
This is it. It's actually happening. He sank into me, and we began to move together in perfect time. My hands moved from holding his waist, to raking through his hair and I drew his head down to kiss him again. I could feel the orgasm building, hot and fast and I moaned into his mouth and slid my hands down his back as his movements became faster and more precise. I was ready to burst, and all I could do was cling to him and ride the wave as I heard him call out his own release.