Trouble and Strife - Part 29

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Rob unlocked his door in silence and I wondered if he was planning some kind of story or if I was reading too much into this. Maybe Anil was right; maybe there was nothing to Rachel's hesitation when I asked her if anything had gone on. I wasn't sure what to believe.

As soon as we were in the door, Rob took my books gently from my hands and set them on his desk. Then, he laid down on the twin bed and patted the space beside him. I climbed into the bed and snuggled up to him. It was always the same with him, even when part of me wanted to walk away, another part of me ached to be as close as possible. I could never seem to reconcile the two.

"What did Rachel tell you?" Rob asked, his voice quiet and deep, full of an emotion I wasn't sure I could name. There was no fear or worry though, it was something else entirely.

"She said that you two had kissed several times, not just once like you told me. She said that at The Breeze, she told you that she wanted to be more than friends, said she was falling in love with you, and then you kissed her. Then when I asked her if something had happened between you two since we got together, she hesitated. If it was really no, like she said, why would she hesitate?"

With my head on his chest, I could hear his heartbeat, steady and rhythmic. In comparison, my heart felt erratic and out of control. He didn't answer me for a few minutes, and I was starting to wonder if he'd actually fallen asleep.

"When you asked me about Rachel, I didn't want you to think I was a complete wanker. Yeah, she said those things. Yeah, I snogged her that night – it was the only time I ever did. Every other time it happened we'd been drinking and she sort of attacked my face with her mouth. I went along with it; I probably shouldn't have," Rob said, squeezing me closer to his side.

"I saw you snog Tim that night at The Breeze and I lost the plot. And then Rachel started saying all this stuff about me and for a moment, I didn't want to feel so much for you anymore. Cause every time I thought about you, I just thought about how hard it would be to leave you and we weren't even together." He turned his head so his eyes connected with mine.

"Even now that we're together, every time I look at you it's bittersweet. I'm so happy right now – so, so happy, but I know it's all going to come crashing down when I leave in May. I'm gonna be gutted." Rob traced slow circles on my arm as he talked.

My heart kicked up another notch, but this time it wasn't from fear. He shifted slightly so his lips connected with mine, and I pushed myself closer, deepening the kiss. He moved his arm around me, pulling me underneath him, and he nestled his body in between my legs. But, then I remembered Rachel's hesitation and broke the kiss.

He looked down at me and caressed the side of my face and gave me another soft kiss. His dark brown eyes were alight and for the first time, but nowhere near the last, I felt like the most important person in his life.

"Has anything happened between you and Rachel since we started dating? I have to ask or it'll bother me again and again."

He held my gaze as he started to talk, and sincerity shone through. "The other night at your party, when we were in the corridor. She was really upset and I went to hug her, but I think she misunderstood and tried to snog me. I pushed her off and told her she was out of order. I should have told you, but it was your birthday, and I didn't kiss her back or anything. I stopped it, and I told her that I was with you." He smiled at me tenderly. "You're my trouble and strife – just you."

I looked up at him, conflicted. I understood, but anger still whistled at the back of my brain. I wasn't sure if I was angry at Rachel or Rob or the two of them.

"You're going to make me look up trouble and strife?" I asked, searching his face for answers that had nothing to do with this question.

Amusement lit up his eyes almost immediately and then his expression turned serious again. "I'm going to miss you over the holidays. How am I going to survive not seeing you or talking to you every day?"

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