❆ chapter twelve

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Though it wasn't rare for Nevada to be awake past midnight, her mind too laden with reoccurring thoughts to be able to drift off, she couldn't help but blink blearily at the sliver of light that shone just beyond the doorway. If she listened, she could hear the muffled sounds coming from the television, and a few seconds later, Sam's frustrated huff followed.

Nevada had spent the last two hours tossing and turning in the sheets, her legs curling around the blanket as she found the most comfortable position. But it didn't matter how she settled into the mattress: her mind refused to shut itself off, and when her anxious thoughts fluttered through her head, sleep never came easily.

She rolled onto her back, stared up at the ceiling for a long minute, then kicked the covers off. Rising to her feet, she plucked her glasses off her nightstand before padding into the living room.

Sam was alone, his eyes glassy as his attention was stolen by the GTA race he was in. His fingers flew over the controller, his thumbs working through the controls with ease. The light from the television gave him an almost iridescent quality, the tips of his locks glinting silver in the darkness. At the sound of her entrance, he flicked his gaze over to her.

"What are you doing awake?" He lifted his eyebrows, though his focus returned to the race once more.

Nevada wavered on the threshold. "I couldn't sleep," she said. "I heard the TV. Why are you awake?"

"I thought I told you — I have weird sleeping patterns." His eyes slid to her standing before he patted the spot on the couch beside him. "You can sit if you want. I don't bite."

She snorted, but complied, settling down onto the couch. The second her shoulders hit the cushions, the tension in her frame dissipated, and a shaky breath escaped between her lips. Reaching for the hair tie on her wrist, she gathered her dark hair into a messy bun while squinting at the screen.

She had to admit it: Sam's GTA character resembled him. From the blonde hair that stood straight up to his lean figure, it was almost a perfect match. Upon noticing his gamer tag, she snorted yet again.

"SilentSamule? Really?"

"Oh, come on. Appreciate the pun!"

Nevada didn't say anything in response, though a gentle smile graced her features. She had noticed that more recently. Her features naturally brightened without her realizing it, and she wondered if it had to do with the recent change in her own self-confidence.

While Nevada had never playing GTA before or understood much about the game, it was all too easy to become absorbed in the gameplay, and with Sam's constant flow of commentary, she never felt confused about what was happening on-screen.

Before they knew it, Sam finished another race, and the clock neared one. The exhaustion had kicked in, uncontrollable yawns overtaking her every couple of minutes. It didn't matter how many times she blinked: the gameplay was becoming blurrier, and she couldn't muster the energy to keep her eyes open.

Sam turned halfway only to find her slumping in her seat. He nudged her with his elbow. "You don't have to stay awake because I am," he said with a slight chuckle. "You can head back to bed."

"Mmm," Nevada hummed. "I can stay awake a little longer." She wasn't certain about that, but she could definitely try.

"You don't have to," he repeated. "I'll probably only stay up for another half hour."

Still, she couldn't bring herself to move. It didn't matter that the afternoon had transformed their relationship or that they didn't have an actual label slapped on them; she felt comfortable there. Her heart fluttered at a steady pace, and a sleepy smile overtook her features.

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