Chapter Thirty-Five

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Trace told me he'd be at my apartment in an hour and I freaked out for a few minutes before calling Manny.

"Its all my fault," I said as soon as he picked up, "I don't know why I reacted like that. I just hate the way he looks at me like I need to be taken care of."

Manny was quiet before he replied, "But what's wrong with that, mijo? You deserve to have someone who wants to take care of you."

"But, it's just—"

"Not masculine to want that? It makes you feel insecure? It reminds you of when Carter took over your life? And before you argue with me, you have to
remember I've known you since you were in diapers. Maybe you're more of a follower, so what?"

"Followers are—" the words didnt come out but they circulated in my mind: weak, unattractive, easy to take advantage of.

"Darius," Manny said sharply, "there's nothing wrong with who you are. So what if you want your boyfriend to take the lead, he must appreciate that you trust him enough to let him have it. You need someone to take care of you so just let him. He needs someone to take care of, too. As long as your relationship is healthy, it doesn't matter how it operates."

I squinted, feeling so many things and unsure which emotion to focus on. "He's really serious about us. It's really intense and I don't find it overwhelming anymore but I feel like I'm just starting to understand how serious he is."

"You need to talk to him, Darius. For what it's worth, I think he's really good for you and he helps you be more confident.Don't be afraid to fall in love."

We clicked off after that and I wondered if it was as simple as that. Maybe I was afraid to fall in love.

I paced in my apartment, thinking. I had to start telling Trace how I felt about things or our relationship wasn't bound to last. That thought threatened to turn into a panic attack and I opted to take a shower instead.

I just needed to calm down and breathe. I took a shower and focused on the possibilities of what Trace and me might do before or after our talk. If things somehow moved to the bedroom I wouldn't want to smell like I'd been moving boxes all evening...which I had. So I primped a little and when Trace arrived at least I could say I was squeaky clean.

Soon I was opening the door to Trace and he usual overnight duffle he brought when he slept over. Most of the times Trace slept over at my place it meant sleeping together, but I didn't know if I was up for that tonight.

Trace kissed me at the entryway, pushing his body up against mine as he gave me a slow and lingering kiss that was asking for more. It was sweet, but for some reason it made me sad. Trace was comforting me he always did.

I broke the kiss and said something about needing to sit down. My home was now a mess of labelled boxes and most of my furniture had already been moved over. I just had a single couch left that I wasn't sure how to move effectively. It was a gift from my brother and he'd spent a lot of money to get a giant couch that was custom made for my measurements. It meant Trace's legs dangled when he sat back on the couch and mine were able to sit comfortably on the floor. It was one of the most comfortable things I owned.

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