I wake up to a soft moan and movement next to me. I see Annie and start to close my eyes again, when I realize the bed is warm. Too warm. Sure, my bed is usually warm when Annie's with me, but never this warm. Without moving too much, I raise my head to examine the scene. Shit.

"Hey," Annie says, turning over, blowing her red hair from her face.

"Hey," I chuckle and help her. "Well, if that isn't the cutest thing I've ever seen."

She smiles, "We, um . . ."


Silence envelopes us as we absorb the situation. But I don't feel regretful at all.

"You okay?" I ask, lowering my voice, rubbing her arm with my fingers.

"Yeah," she replies, nodding while tapping her finger in the center of my bare chest. "Perfect."

"I mean, you know."

"I know. And I'm perfect. Really."

I nod and go to take her hand in mine. We lace our fingers together. Annie's hand is soft, warm. I'm not letting it bother me, but I do wonder about when she's gone. When I won't be able to hold her like this. A knock on the door makes us both jump. I stumble out of bed, moving around for a pair of boxer and pants. Annie covers herself with the blanket and scurries to my closet. I open the door and find Jacks there, his knuckles raised to knock again.

"Oh," he says, dropping his hand. "Mom and Dad went out to do some shopping. You and I have soccer practice in three hours. Um . . . Did Annie ever go home last night?"

"She's here," I reply slowly. "Just woke up."

"Okay, well; will she be coming with us?"

"I'll ask her and be out in a few."

My brother nods and heads down the hallway. I blow out a sigh of relief and close the door. Annie comes out of the closet, giggling.

"You find this funny?" I ask, raising an eyebrow as I pull her to my chest.

"Hilarious," she replies, grinning. "I'd love to watch you practice, if you wouldn't mind me tagging along."

I smile and kiss her nose. "I don't mind. Every moment you're willing to give me means everything."

Annie's smile softens and she leans her head against my chest. I hug her shoulders and kiss the top of her head.


Coach runs drills with the rest of the team. I did a few plays until he sent me back to the bench. Now I sit with Annie snuggled into my side. She won't stop giggling. And not that I'm afraid or anything, but I feel like her giggles will give us away. Yet, I could care less if anyone figures it out. It's none of their business what we do. I'm not even worried about Coach Taylor finding out. He already told me I'm good for his daughter.

"Do you think Jacks suspects us?" Annie giggles, holding my hand as she turns it repeatedly.

"I have no idea," I reply, resting my cheek on top of her head. "If he does, I'm sure he'll say something."

"I don't know what is up with me, Eric. I just feel like I want someone to know, but I have no one to tell."

"You could tell your mom. You did say that she's known everything from our first virtual soccer game."

"Yeah . . . but I kinda want to bask in this glow for a little while longer. Before all the gloom and doom hits us."

"What gloom and doom?"

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