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Mistletoe & Memories Chapter 6

He fell asleep.

Not right away, but pretty damn fast. He'd pulled me tight to him, and kissed my forehead, neither of us able to speak. I snuggled into him, and just as I was ready to say something, he gave a soft snore.

Well that's just rude.

I had to suppress a giggle, though. If my body hadn't still been buzzing, I'd probably have gone to sleep, too.

Sex with Declan was kind of... naively perfect. Like I'd said, it was nothing like movie sex, where every angle, every movement is performed with ease and grace. But is was us. Young, horny and slightly awkward, yet a million times better than I could have imagined. Unlikely as it was that two people who spent most of their lives hating each other would fit together, it worked. Well enough for him to keep me close instead of hurrying me out of the door afterwards.

For the longest time, I stayed tucked up in Dec's arms, loving the contact of skin on skin, while letting myself get hypnotised by the Christmas lights.

An hour passed, and Dec still hadn't woken up. Content as I was watching his chest moving gently up and down, if I stayed all night, my mother would flip. She didn't even know where I was. I'd told her I was going out with Kara because it was easier than explaining I was going to Dec's. I'd made a gigantic leap with him I hadn't expected to make so fast, and if she'd known I'd been at his place, she'd have wanted to know what happened and I would have failed at hiding the truth. Just because she knew I liked him, didn't mean she'd be happy to know I'd hopped into bed - or on the sofa - with him. Besides, I needed time to process it myself before letting anyone else in.

Somehow, I managed to disentangle myself from Dec's arms and get dressed without waking him. I was almost proud of myself for exhausting him. I covered him up with a blanket that perched on the back of the sofa, but not before raking my eyes over his still-naked body. Damn. Maybe if I wake him up, we can have another go before I leave...

He looked too peaceful. I didn't want to sneak out without saying anything, so I spun around a few times, looking for something to write on, and spotted a notepad sticking out from underneath the coffee table. I bent down to pick it up, then rummaged around in my bag for a pen. Opening the notepad, pen poised, I stopped. No amount of university education would help with the etiquette of creeping out of someone's house after sex.

Dec, thanks for - No.

Dec, sorry I couldn't stay, but - What? Your mummy demanded you go home? Mature.

I took a deep breath and sifted through an array of polite words to use to explain why I left but everything sounded either too soppy, or too uncaring. This was where the awkwardness kicked in again. The strangeness of knowing him for so long but not knowing him well enough to know the right thing to say.

After a ridiculous ten minutes spent staring at the paper, hoping some words would appear for me, I eventually wrote: Sleep well, we'll talk soon. Xx

Not exactly Shakespeare, but it would have to do. I propped the notepad up on the table so he'd see it when he woke up, then quietly crept out.


In the morning, I woke up convinced I'd find a message from Dec on my phone. He must have dragged himself to bed at some point during the night, and he'd have seen my note, and text me to say goodnight or... something. Disappointment flooded through me when I found nothing on my screen. Of course, if he had woken up, it would have been dark. Maybe he hadn't seen the note and just shuffled off to his room. The time on my phone told me it was just after eight, which meant he might not even be awake yet. It was Sunday, after all.

Relaxing a little, I rested my head back against my pillow and let memories of the night before flood through me. Two things stood out in my mind more than anything else. Firstly, the way he'd stopped me from hiding myself when I got nervous. Many times in my life, I'd gotten the impression he was looking through me, like he saw everything I was thinking, but that was the first time I'd ever seen it as a good thing. He knew how to take away my slight discomfort, and look at me like I was the most perfect woman in the world. Secondly, his honesty about not having had sex in a long time. The old Declan would never have admitted that. He'd have lied, or found some other way to stop my hands roaming over him. He'd changed a lot, and instead of second guessing everything he said or did, I was finally confident enough to stay calm, safe in the knowledge that he would call.

Except, he didn't call.

By ten-thirty, I became anxious, and by lunchtime, I was practically bouncing off the walls with panic. Why hadn't he called, or text, or anything? He must have found my hastily scribbled note by now, so why hadn't he responded? What happened? Did he regret what we did? Did he think I was such a dreadful lay that he didn't want anything to do with me?

I gave myself an actual, physical slap across the face to stop me from driving myself into a pit of self-doubt and misery.

Get a grip. Just text him and see what's up. You'll probably find he's just had a really long lie-in.

Right. Yes. That seemed logical.

This time, I didn't overthink my words. I grabbed my phone and tapped out: Good morning! Sorry I left without saying goodbye but I didn't want to wake you. Give me a call when you're awake. Xx

There. Done.

There is absolutely nothing more aggravating than waiting for a message or a phone call. Especially when it's from someone you had sex with the night before – and extra bad when you add in the fact that you think you want way more from them than just one night. I had zero experience of morning-after-waiting. I'd slept with precisely one man in my whole life before Declan, and I'd been dating him for a few months beforehand. How the hell did Meg do this most weekends? Actually, that wasn't such a big puzzle. She never intended to see the guys again afterwards. A phone call from them for a follow-up was a bonus, but not necessary for her to get on with her every day life.

For me, it was as if I was holding my breath. Every now and then I paused to come up for air (fetch more chocolate and coffee), but once I'd oxygenated, I held my breath again. Tense. Scared I'd made a gigantic mistake.

It was six-thirty when he finally got back to me with the most underwhelming message ever: Sorry. Had to go out to buy some stuff. Tired now. Talk soon.

Had to go out to buy some stuff? What kind of stuff? Was he talking Christmas gifts, or some matches to set fire to his couch after we got naked on it?

What. The. Hell?

Surely courtesy dictates that after you shag a girl you've known forever, you should at least check-in with her? Talk soon? Yeah, he said that to me once before and it was a year before I heard from again – and only then because he was meeting Lucas. He didn't contact me.

I rubbed at the back of my neck to try to ease some of the tension that settled there; so tight I thought my head might pop off.

Logically, I realised his message wasn't a total disaster. I mean, he did at least answer it. Maybe he really meant we'd talk soon. I was tired, too, and maybe talking right away wasn't the best thing.

One day wouldn't kill me. Right?

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