I wake up the next morning with a loud yawn, and then smile at the memory of my kiss with Annie. I had wanted to kiss her one more time, but never got the chance. After getting back last night, after the game, Coach took Annie back to her dorm, even though I had offered to take her myself. I push up on my elbows, squinting in the bright sunlight as I look at the digital clock on my desk. 7:25am; I have about ten minutes before Annie shows up, and another twenty minutes before Jacks and Karissa show up. I should get ready, now.

After a shower, and frantically brushing my teeth, I return to my dorm. Annie is waiting outside my door, with her bag over her shoulder, wearing a huge smile.

"Hey," she says, letting her eyes wander down my body.

"Hey yourself," I say, grinning as I peck her cheek. "How'd you sleep?"

"I had this crazy . . . amazing dream," she replies as I let her into my room. "Would you like to hear it?"

"I would, very much, like to hear it, if you want to tell me."

Annie grins and sits on my bed. I pull the chair away from my desk and sit in front of her, waiting with a smile.

"You and I were at a game," she explains, reaching to take my hand in hers. "We were having a lot of fun, cheering on our team . . . you got up to get us lemonade and then this guy came up to me and tried to hit on me. He would not take a hint, but then you showed up and called me 'babe'. He walked away and we started talking . . . and then you took me behind the bleachers and kissed me."

I grin, "Would you like me to kiss you for real?" I ask, scooting the chair closer as I tuck one of her red curls behind her ear.

"Oh, believe me, that kiss was real," Annie replies, giggling softly. "But I would love for you to kiss me . . . right now."

I chuckle and cup her neck to bring her closer. Annie eyes close just as I touch her lips. She sighs; I can feel her melting into my kiss. Her lips part, an invitation I gladly accept. However, before I can explore further, there is a knock at the door. Annie whimpers, which make me chuckle.

"Look at you," I whisper, pecking her lips again. "And to think you didn't want us to start anything . . . Are you worried about . . . later?"

"I decided that I am not going to worry that far ahead," Annie replies, smiling softly. "I want to enjoy every moment we have, and take each day as they come."

"Good . . . let me let those two in before they make worse assumptions."

Annie rolls her eyes as I push myself up and go to the door. Karissa smiles when I open the door and holds up a Bagelman's bag.

"Two everything bagels," she announces as I take it. "One for you, and one for Annie, because I thought you guys might be hungry."

"Thanks," I say with a smile. "Where's Jacks?"

"He went to talk with Charlie for a bit," Karissa replies as I let her into my room. "Hey Annie, how're you doing this fine morning?"

"Is everyone feeling like today is something special?" Annie asks, laughing. "It's not just me?"

"It most definitely not just you."

We all look to the doorway as Jacks enters wearing a wide grin. He narrows his eyes at me, but says nothing. He knows I kissed her. I bring the bag to Annie, after taking out a bagel for myself. I hide a smile when I purposefully let our hands touch, longer than necessary. Karissa watches the exchange with a raised eyebrow, as if she knows something is different.

"Let's get out of here," I say, taking a bite of my bagel. "Sabrina is stopping by and wants to visit with us for a bit because she is leaving the twins with Mom."

Annie jumps up and I take her bag from her. She is about to protest, but I shake my head.

"No arguing," I say as I reach for my backpack from next to my bed. "My dad always taught us to carry a girl's bags every possible chance we get. Is that not right, Jacks?"

"That is correct," my brother, replies, reaching to take Karissa's purse from her arm.

"You are not taking my purse," Karissa teases, giggling. "I might need something."

Jacks' rolls his eyes and takes it anyway, placing his arm around her shoulders before leading the way out of the room. I smile at Annie, placing my hand on her back as we follow my brother and Karissa down the hallway.

***

"I'm serious," I say, holding my phone to my ear as I talk to Sabrina. "If you do that, I will just escape to the roof and not come down for the rest of the day."

"Eric!" she scolds, but there is a hint of humor in her voice. "You can't hide it forever! Come on; Gil and I have been bugging to see you happy and you do not want me to tell him? You talk to him more than you talk to me!"

"Not true, besides you know I am just getting the hang of this. If Mom catches wind of this, I will never hear the end of it."

I glance sideways at Annie, who is watching me with a puzzled expression. Jacks' and Karissa voted to sit in the back so she could sit in front. I have been talking with my sister for nearly the entire drive. I have been very vague about what we are talking about, and Sabrina catches on quickly, but I do not want Jacks' and Karissa to catch on yet.

"Okay," Sabrina relents with a sigh. "I will keep my mouth shut, but you know Gil. He will smell something and immediately know something is up. I get that you want to see how it works out first, but I have never heard you talk about something with this type of enthusiasm. She must really mean something to you."

"You said it," I say, pretending to check my left mirror to hide the smile from Annie. "In total honesty, if it were not for that matter, I would let you go for it."

"Well, at least do this for me: Talk to that lovely girl, who will most likely become yours, and see what she thinks about making it official. You both owe yourselves that, to say the least."

"Alright, I do that today. I am about to pull into the parking lot. I'll see you later."

"Love you, knucklehead!"

"I love you too . . ." I glance at Annie and then into the backseat. "Na-Na!"

I laugh when Sabrina begins to protest, but I end the call. Annie glances at me with an amused expression.

"What?" I ask, parking the car behind my parents' Acura.

"You are very close to your sister," she replies, smiling. "It shows when you try to convince her of something, but you let her in a bit more than usual."

I smile, "Yeah, yeah. Sabrina gets to see a lot more of me than most people. We're here; let's get our crew up there."

I open my door to get out when I notice my sister's minivan pull into the spot next to us. I sigh; of course, she would arrive at the same time.

"Was Gil listening the entire time?" I ask as I get out and stand next to her window.

"You know he was," she replies, motioning to her husband in the drivers' seat. "We don't keep things from each other. Our relationship is as open as it can get."

I roll my eyes but smile at Gil. "Hey man," I say, nodding at him.

"You and I gotta talk," he says, pointing his finger at me.

"Uncle Eric!"

I grin and open the sliding door to see my nephews. They cheer and clap their hands as I help unbuckle them from their seats. Suddenly, Annie stands next to me, smiling, while talking with my sister. Ethan and Micah jump out of the car, jumping up and down, yanking on my arms. Ethan then goes to Jacks and bugs him to go on his shoulders. He complies, chuckling as he lifts Ethan over his head. Gil comes around and offers to get our bags. I hand him my keys and pull Micah onto my back. Annie chooses this moment to look at me, biting her lip to keep from smiling. I smile back, winking as I start to walk towards the entrance of the building.

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