"Thank you, Daniel," I say, smiling. He nods and turns back around. I dry my hair and torso before tugging on the soft t shirt, the cottony fabric cool against my raw skin. "I'm decent," Daniel turns, holding his hand out for the towel.
"Give me your clothes, too, I'll put it all in the dryer," I hand over everything, and am left alone in his room once again. I take the opportunity to clear a small space to sleep on the floor, shoving magazines, cords and clothes out of the way. While I wait, I pick up a boxing magazine, flipping through it. The pages are dog eared and wrinkled, and I take it to mean that Daniel boxes. For some reason, this knowledge makes me feel safer. I hear him padding back and set the magazine down, putting my hands in my lap. When he sees me on the floor, he shakes his head.
"No, you can sleep on the bed, I'll sleep on the floor," I know I can't boot him out of his own bed after I've barged in on him uninvited, and I tell him so. "Then you can sleep with me, my bed is big plenty big enough for two," when I hesitate to answer, he steps over and starts pulling blankets down on the floor, sitting next to me. "If you're not sleeping with me, then I guess we'll share the floor," I gape at him. "Well, don't just stare at me, make your bed," he shoves a pillow into my lap.
"Well, alright, if you insist," I shake my head in disbelief, smiling. Daniel nods and stands, tossing the blankets back onto the bed.
"Good, I really didn't want to sleep on the floor," he motions for me to climb in and I do, pressing close to the wall. He shuts off the light and settles in next to me, closer than I was expecting. His warm breath washes over my face and I feel myself almost rolling into the dent his body has made. After a long silence, just when I thought he had fallen asleep, he speaks.
"Why did you come to my house? Why not James' or someone else's?" he asks me quietly. I realize how strange this must be for him, considering we've only hung out a few times, and always with the other guys. I take a minute to think about it before it hits me.
"I knew you wouldn't ask questions," I answer honestly. He's silent and I wonder if I've offended him.
"Okay. Goodnight, Annabelle."
"Sweet dreams, Daniel."
I wake up the next morning and panic momentarily, having no idea where I am or who's body I'm curled into. Then the events of last night come crashing back, knocking the air out of me. I look up at Daniel, and his normally hard features are slack. His dark eyebrows aren't furrowed, as they usually are, and his eyes aren't squinted. He looks absolutely beautiful. Poking my head up, I see that it's half 7 and know I should leave before he wakes up. I slide my body out from his arm and edge to the bottom of the bed. When I'm safely standing, I realize I don't have my clothes and will have to go searching through his house to find them, which might be difficult considering his family is probably still here. I tiptoe to his door and pull it open slowly, wincing when it creeks, and slip into the hallway. Leaving the door open, I creep down the hall, peeking into every doorway until I find the laundry room. Fortunately, I manage to get my clothes and sneak back into Daniel's room without incident. When I've safely closed the door and am sure Daniel is still asleep, I tug off his clothes slowly, still painfully aware of my back, and start to redress myself. When I've got my pants on and am standing in the middle of the room, shirtless and trying to figure out the best way of going about putting my jumper on, I hear a soft voice call my name. I shut my eyes tightly and freeze, hoping it was just my imagination.
"Annabelle?" I hear again. I take a deep breath and turn around to see Daniel propped up on one arm, looking at me with tired eyes and worry lines creasing his forehead. I go to his bedside quickly and kneel in front of him.
"Remember when I told you that I came here because I knew you wouldn't ask questions?" Daniel nods cautiously, "I need you to not ask, okay? Don't ask me and please don't ask James. I need you to pretend you didn't see anything. Please, Daniel, I'm begging," I put a hand on his shoulder and look at him, my eyes pleading. He looks at me, saddness clouding his features.
"Okay. But will you promise me that if you ever need anything, anything, that you'll call me or text me or something," I let out a breath I didn't realize I'd been holding and nod, taking my hand off his shoulder. Before I can stand, he wraps his warm fingers around my forearm. "And I'm going to leave my window unlocked from now on, so if you need somewhere to stay..." the sentence hangs, not needing to be finished for me to understand what is being offered. He looks me in the eyes, completely serious. I can't stop myself from wrapping my arms around him as tightly as I can. At first he's stiff from surprise, but after a moment he returns the hug, snaking his arms low on my waist, avoiding the gashes that cover my back. I pull away after I remember I'm not actually wearing a shirt and try to tug it on, failing miserably. Before I can ask, Daniel is there, helping me. He gently pulls it over my head and down my body, not once letting the coarse fabric touch my back. After I get my arms into the sleeves, I thank him and tell him I have to go. He nods and I go over to his window, tugging it open. When I turn to tell him good bye and thank him one last time, his arms wrap around me again. I hug him back, smiling. You'd never guess from the way he's treated me that he acts like your average teenaged delinquent. After what he's done for me, I will never look at him the same way. He lets go and we say our awkward goodbyes.