Chapter Five

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Wow. Trace noticed me. A warm glow settled within my chest and my nerves moved to the background. We were sitting so close, turned towards one another and the air felt charged.

Trace wet his lips, before they parted and he began to lean towards me. His eyes fluttered closed, and pulled like a magnet I moved towards him as well.

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What should have happened next was simple. We should have kissed. I would have loved it, and it could be the start of something new. Instead, my mind started racing as time slowed to a grinding halt. Why is he about to kiss me? This was just supposed to be about dessert. I don't want him to think I want anything else. I'm not ready for this. It's too much, too soon.

And I stopped within a few inches of Trace's perfect lips before I jerked away. I'd forgotten I had the box of sweets on my lap and the sudden movement made it tumble to the floor.

"Oh no!" I exclaimed, moving off the couch and onto the floor, picking up the fallen pieces and pushing them into the box. "I'm sorry. Everything is ruined." I'd dropped them by accident but I was glad I did. My palms were already slick with sweat and my heart was hammering against my rib cage.

Trace met me on the floor, helping me put everything into the box. He was quiet and I felt like I'd offended him.

Unable to stop myself, I was blabbering. "I'm such a klutz. I'll personally redo each of these desserts and get them to you somehow."

"Darius—" Trace said.

But, I was just staring down at the icing smear on the hardwood. "And I'm sorry for being so weird. I should've paid more attention during the episode."

"Darius—" He said again.

"I don't want want you to think I just drop desserts because I'm careless. I'm definitely not a careless person. I mean, maybe I miss some obvious things sometimes but not usually."

Trace touched the inside of my wrist and I finally looked at him. He was frowning. "If you didn't want to kiss me that's okay."

I swallowed. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry." Trace said softly.

The mood shifted, and I stood up awkwardly, knocking my knee into the coffee table. Fuck, that hurt.

"Uh," I stammered. "Did you want water? I'm just going to get some water."

I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water and Trace followed me there. "I think maybe I should be going now."

"Oh," I said feeling disappointed. God, I'd totally fucked everything up. Why couldn't I just be normal? My eyes burned but my voice was even. "Okay. I guess I'll..." My brain was just going double time and I had no idea what to say. I was going to have an anxiety attack, and I needed him to leave before I did.

"See me next Sunday for a movie?" Trace said, leaning in close to me and watching my face. He interrupted my line of sight and touched the inside of my wrist again, rubbing there for a moment.

"Okay." I said, feeling like I was out of breath.

"And maybe, ice cream afterwards?" Trace said quickly. He was looking at me so intently I felt like he knew each and every one of my insecurities. Sweat was beading on my forehead and my chest was in so much pain from my heart hammering.

"Definitely." I said, mentally trying to count to ten, while walking with Trace over to the doorway. Once we got there, it was awkward. He'd never taken off his shoes so we were just standing there. I unlocked the door and Trace went out into the hallway. I tried to take deeper breaths, rubbing at my chest.

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