CHAPTER TEN. poker face

Two tables over, one table back. America and Shepley were barely visible from my seat, and I hunched over, watching Travis stare at the empty chair I usually occupied before sitting at the end of the lunch table. I felt ridiculous for hiding, but I wasn’t prepared to sit across from him for an entire hour. When I finished my meal, I took a deep breath and walked outside to where Travis was finishing his cigarette.

I had spent most of the night trying to form a plan to get us to where we were before. If I treated our encounter the way he regarded sex in general, I would have a better chance. The plan risked losing him altogether, but I hoped his enormous male ego would force him to play it off the same way.

“Hey,” I smiled.

He grimaced. “Hey. I thought you’d be at lunch.”

“I had to run in and out, I have to study,” I shrugged, doing my best impression of casual.

“Need some help?”

“It’s Calculus. I think I’ve got it handled.”

“I can just hang out for moral support” he smiled, digging his hand into his pocket. The solid muscles in his arm tensed with the movement, and the thought of them flexing as he thrust himself inside me replayed with vivid detail in my head.

“Er…what?” I asked, disoriented from the sudden erotic thought that had flashed in my mind.

“Are we supposed to pretend the other night never happened?”

“No, why?” I feigned confusion and he sighed, frustrated with my behavior.

“I don’t know…because I took your virginity?” He leaned toward me, saying the words in a hushed voice.

I rolled my eyes. “I’m sure it’s not the first time you’ve deflowered a virgin, Trav.”

Just as I had feared, my casual demeanor made him angry. “As a matter of fact, it was .”

“C’mon…I said I didn’t want any weirdness between us.”

Travis took one last drag of his cigarette and flicked it to the ground. “Well, if I’ve learned anything in the last few days, it’s that you don’t always get what you want.”

“Hey, Abs,” Parker said, kissing my cheek.

Travis glowered at Parker with a murderous expression.

“I’ll pick you up around six?” Parker said.

I nodded. “Six.”

“See you in a bit,” he said, continuing to class. I watched him walk away, afraid to endure the consequences of the last ten seconds.

“You’re going out with him tonight?” Travis seethed. His jaw was clenched, and I could see it working under his skin.

“I told you he was going to ask me out after I got back to Morgan. He called me yesterday.”

“Things have changed a little bit since that conversation, don’t you think?”


He walked away from me, and I swallowed, trying to keep the tears at bay. Travis stopped and came back, leaning into my face. “That’s why you said I wouldn’t miss you after today! You knew I’d find out about you and Parker, and you thought I’d just…what? Get over you? Do you not trust me, or am I just not good enough? Tell me, damn it! Tell me what the fuck I did to you to make you do this!”

I stood my ground, staring straight into his eyes. “You didn’t do anything to me. Since when is sex so life or death to you?”

“Since it was with you!”

I glanced around, seeing that we were making a scene. People were walking by slowly, staring and whispering to each other. I felt my ears burn, and it spread across my face, making my eyes water.

He closed his eyes, trying to compose himself before he spoke again. “Is that it? You don’t think it meant anything to me?”

“You are Travis Maddox.”

He shook his head, disgusted. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you were shoving my past in my face.”

“I don’t think four weeks ago constitutes the past .” His face contorted and I laughed. “I’m kidding! Travis, it’s fine. I’m fine, you’re fine. There’s no need to make a big deal of it.”

All emotion disappeared from his face and he took a deep breath through his nose. “I know what you’re trying to do.” His eyes unfocused for a moment, lost in thought. “I’ll just have to prove it to you, then.” His eyes narrowed as he looked into my eyes, determined as he was before one of his fights. “If you think I’m just going to go back to fucking around, you’re wrong. I don’t want anyone else. You wanna be friends? Fine, we’re friends. But you and I both know that what happened wasn’t just sex.”

He stormed past me and I closed my eyes, exhaling the breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. Travis glanced back at me, and then continued to his next class. An escaping tear fell down my cheek and I quickly wiped it away. The curious stares of my classmates targeted my back as I plodded to class.

Parker was on the second row, and I slid into the desk next to him.

A grin stretched across his face. “I’m looking forward to tonight.”

I took a breath and smiled, trying to change gears from my conversation with Travis. “What’s the plan?”

“Well, I’m all settled in my apartment. I thought we’d have dinner there.”

“I’m looking forward to tonight, too,” I said, trying to convince myself.

With America’s refusal to help, Kara was a reluctant assistant to aid me in choosing a dress for my date with Parker. As soon as I pulled it on over my head, I yanked it off and slipped on a pair of jeans instead. After brooding about my failed plan all afternoon, I couldn’t talk myself into dressing up. Keeping the cool weather in mind, I pulled on an thin, ivory cashmere sweater over a brown tank top, and waited by the door. When Parker’s shiny Porsche pulled in front of Morgan, I pushed my way out the door before he had time to make it up the walk.

“I was going to come get you,” he said, disappointed as he held open the door.

“Then I saved you a trip,” I said, buckling my seat belt.

He slid in beside me and leaned over, touching each side of my face, kissing me with his plush, soft lips. “Wow,” he breathed, “I’ve missed your mouth.”

His breath was minty, his cologne smelled incredible, his hands were warm and soft, and he looked fantastic in his jeans and green dress shirt, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. That excitement I had in the beginning was noticeably absent, and I silently cursed Travis for taking that away.

I forced a smile. “I’m going to take that as a compliment.”

His apartment was exactly as I had imagined: Immaculate, with expensive electronics in every corner, and most likely decorated by his mother.

“So? What do you think?” he said, grinning like a child showing off a new toy.

“It’s great,” I nodded.

His expression changed from playful to intimate, and he pulled me into his arms, kissing my neck. Every muscle in my body tensed. I wanted to be anywhere than in that apartment.

My cell phone rang, and I offered him an apologetic smile before answering.

“How’s the date goin’, Pidge?”

I turned my back to Parker and whispered into the phone. “What do you need, Travis?” I tried to make my tone sharp, but it was softened by my relief to hear his voice.

“I wanna go bowling tomorrow. I need my partner.”

Bowling ? You couldn’t have called me later?” I felt like a hypocrite for saying the words, knowing I had hoped for an excuse to keep Parker’s lips off of me.

“How am I supposed to know when you’re gonna get done? Oh. That didn’t come out right…” he trailed off, sounding amused with himself.

“I’ll call you tomorrow and we can talk about it then, okay?”

“No, it’s not okay. You said you wanna be friends, but we can’t hang out?” I rolled my eyes, and Travis huffed. “Don’t roll your eyes at me. Are you coming or not?”

“How did you know I rolled my eyes? Are you stalking me?” I asked, noting the drawn curtains.

“You always roll your eyes. Yes? No? You’re wasting precious date time.”

He knew me so well. I fought the urge to ask him to pick me up right then. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought.

“Yes!” I said in a hushed voice, trying not to laugh. “I’ll go.”

“I’ll pick you up at seven.”

I turned to Parker, grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

“Travis?” he asked with a knowing expression.

“Yes,” I frowned, caught.

“You’re still just friends?”

“Still just friends,” I nodded once.

We sat at the table, eating Chinese take-out. I warmed up to him after awhile, and he reminded me of how charming he was. I felt lighter, almost giggly, a marked change from earlier. As hard as I tried to push the thought from my head, I couldn’t deny that it was my plans with Travis that had brightened my mood.

After dinner, we sat on the couch to watch a movie, but before the beginning credits were over, Parker had me on my back. I was glad I had chosen to wear jeans; I wouldn’t have been able to fend him off as easily in a dress. His lips traveled down to my collarbone, and his hand stopped at my belt. He clumsily worked to pull it open, and once it popped, I slid out from under him to stand up.

“Okay! I think a single is all you’ll be hitting tonight,” I said, buckling my belt.


“First base….second base? Never mind. It’s late, I better go.”

He sat up and gripped my legs. “Don’t go, Abs. I don’t want you to think that’s why I brought you here.”

“Isn’t it?”

“Of course not,” he said, pulling me onto his lap. “You’re all I’ve thought about for two weeks. I apologize for being impatient.”

He kissed my cheek, and I leaned into him, smiling when his breath tickled my neck. I turned to him and pressed my lips against his, trying my hardest to feel something — but I didn’t. I pulled away from him and sighed.

Parker furrowed his brow. “I said I was sorry.”

“I said it was late.”

We drove to Morgan, and Parker squeezed my hand after he kissed me goodnight. “Let’s try again. Biasetti’s tomorrow?”

I pressed my lips together. “I’m bowling with Travis tomorrow.”

“Wednesday, then?”

“Wednesday’s great,” I said, offering a contrived smile.

Parker shifted in his seat. He was working up to something. “Abby? There’s a date party in a couple weekends at the House.…”

I inwardly cringed, dreading the discussion we would inevitably have.

“What?” he asked, chuckling nervously.

“I can’t go with you,” I said, letting myself out of the car.

He followed, meeting me at the Morgan entrance. “You have plans?”

I winced. “I have plans…Travis already asked me.”

“Travis asked you what?”

“To the date party,” I explained, a bit frustrated.

Parker’s face flushed, and he shifted his weight. “You’re going to the date party with Travis ? He doesn’t go to those things. And you’re just friends. It doesn’t make sense for you to go with him.”

“America wouldn’t go with Shep unless I went.”

He relaxed. “Then you can go with me,” he smiled, intertwining his fingers in mine.

I grimaced at his solution. “I can’t cancel with Travis, and then go with you.”

“I don’t see the problem,” he shrugged. “You can be there for America, and Travis will get out of having to go. He is a staunch advocate for doing away with date parties. He thinks it’s a platform for our girlfriends to force us to declare a relationship.”

“It was me that didn’t want to go. He talked me into it.”

“Now you have an excuse,” he shrugged. He was maddeningly confident that I was going to change my mind.

“I didn’t want to go at all .”

Parker’s patience had run out. “I just want to be clear; you don’t want to go to the date party. Travis wants to go, he asked you, and you won’t cancel with him to go with me, even though you didn’t want to go in the first place?”

I had a hard time meeting his glare. “I can’t do that to him, Parker, I’m sorry.”

“Do you understand what a date party is? It’s something you go to with your boyfriend.”

His patronizing tone made any empathy I’d felt for him disappear. “Well, I don’t have a boyfriend, so technically I shouldn’t go at all.”

“I thought we were going to try again. I thought we had something.”

“I am trying.”

“What do you expect me to do? Sit at home alone while you’re at my fraternity’s date party with someone else? Should I ask another girl?”

“You can do what you want,” I said, irritated with his threat.

He looked up and shook his head. “I don’t want to ask another girl.”

“I don’t expect you not to go to your own party. I’ll see you there.”

“You want me to ask someone else? And you’re going with Travis . Do you not see how completely absurd that is?”

I crossed my arms, ready for a fight. “I told him I would go before you and I ever went out, Parker. I can’t cancel on him.”

“You can’t, or you don’t want to?”

“Same difference. I’m sorry that you don’t understand.” I pulled the door open to Morgan, and Parker put his hand on mine.

“All right,” he sighed in resignation. “This is obviously an issue I’m going to have to work through. Travis is one of your best friends, I do understand that. I don’t want it to affect our relationship. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said, nodding.

He opened the door and gestured me to walk through, kissing my cheek before I walked inside. “See you Wednesday at six?”

“Six,” I smiled, waving as I walked up the stairs.

America was walking out of the shower room when I turned the corner, and her eyes brightened when she recognized me. “Hey, chickie! How’d it go?”

“It went,” I said, deflated.

“Uh oh.”

“Don’t tell Travis, okay?”

She huffed. “I won’t. What happened?”

“Parker asked me to the date party.”

America tightened her towel. “You’re not bailing on Trav, are you?”

“No, and Parker’s not happy about it.”

“Understandable,” she said, nodding. “It’s also too damn bad.”

America pulled the strands of her long, wet hair over one shoulder, and drops of water trickled down her bare skin. She was a walking contradiction. She applied to Eastern so we could move together. She was my self-proclaimed conscience, intent on stepping in when I gave into my imbedded tendencies to fly off track. It went against everything we talked about for me to get involved with Travis, and she had become his overly-enthusiastic cheerleader.

I leaned against the wall. “Would you be mad if I didn’t go at all?”

“No, I would be unbelievably and irrevocably pissed off. That’s grounds for a full blown cat fight, Abby.”

“Then I guess I’m going,” I said, shoving my key in the lock. My cell phone rang, and a picture of Travis making a funny face appeared on the display. “Hello?”

“You home, yet?”

“Yeah, he dropped me off about five minutes ago.”

“I’ll be there in five more.”

“Wait! Travis?” I said after he’d hung up.

America laughed. “You just had a disappointing date with Parker, and you smiled when Travis called. Are you really that dense?”

“I didn’t smile,” I protested. “He’s coming here. Will you meet him outside and tell him I went to bed?”

“You did, too, and no…go tell him yourself.”

“Yes, Mare, me going out there to tell him I’m in bed is so gonna work.” She turned her back to me, walking to her room. I threw up my hands, letting them fall to my thighs. “Mare! Please?”

“Have fun, Abby,” she smiled, disappearing into her room.

I walked down the stairs to see Travis on his motorcycle, parked at the front steps. He wore a white t-shirt with black artwork, setting off the tattoos on his arms.

“Aren’t you cold?” I asked, tugging my jacket tighter.

“You look nice. Did you have a good time?”

“Uh…yeah, thanks,” I said, distracted. “What are you doing here?”

He pulled back the throttle, and the engine snarled. “I was going to take a ride to clear my head. I want you to come with me.”

“It’s cold, Trav.”

“You want me to go get Shep’s car?”

“We’re going bowling tomorrow. Can’t you wait until then?”

“I went from being with you every second of the day to seeing you for ten minutes if I’m lucky.”

I smiled and shook my head. “It’s only been two days, Trav.”

“I miss you. Get your ass on the seat and let’s go.”

I couldn’t argue. I missed him, too. More than I would ever admit to him. I zipped up my jacket and climbed on behind him, slipping my fingers through the belt loops of his jeans. He pulled my wrists to his chest and then folded them across one another. Once he was satisfied that I was holding him tightly enough, he took off, racing down the road.

I rested my cheek against his back and closed my eyes, breathing in his scent. It reminded me of his apartment, and his sheets, and the way he smelled when he walked around with a towel around his waist. The city blurred past us, and I didn’t care how fast he was driving, or how cold the wind was as it whipped across my skin; I wasn’t even paying attention to where we were. The only thing I could think about was his body against mine. We had no destination or time frame, and we drove the streets long after they had been abandoned by everyone but us.

Travis pulled into a gas station and parked. “You want anything?” he asked.

I shook my head, climbing off the bike to stretch my legs. He watched me rake my fingers through the tangles in my hair, and smiled.

“Quit it. You’re fucking beautiful.”

“Just point me to the nearest eighties rock video,” I said.

He laughed, and then yawned, swatting at the moths that buzzed around him. The nozzle clicked, sounding louder than it should in the quiet night. We seemed to be the only two people on earth.

I pulled out my cell phone to check the time. “Oh my God, Trav. It’s three in the morning.”

“You wanna go back?” he asked, his face shadowed with disappointment.

I pressed my lips together. “We better.”

“We’re still going bowling tonight?”

“I told you I would.”

“And you’re still going to Sig Tau with me in a couple weeks, right?”

“Are you insinuating that I don’t follow through? I find that a little insulting.”

He pulled the nozzle from his tank and hooked it on its base. “I just never know what you’re going to do anymore.”

He sat on his bike and helped me to climb on behind him. I hooked my fingers in his belt loops and then thought better of it, wrapping my arms around him.

He sighed and leaned the bike upright, reluctant to start the engine. His knuckles turned white as he gripped the handle bars. He took a breath, beginning to speak, and then shook his head.

“You’re important to me, you know,” I said, squeezing him.

“I don’t understand you, Pigeon. I thought I knew women, but you’re so fucking confusing I don’t know which way is up.”

“I don’t understand you, either. You’re supposed to be Eastern’s ladies’ man. I’m not getting the full freshmen experience they promised in the brochure,” I teased.

“Well, that’s a first. I’ve never had a girl sleep with me to get me to leave her alone,” he said, keeping his back to me.

“That’s not what it was, Travis,” I lied, ashamed that he had guessed my intentions without realizing how right he was.

He shook his head and started the engine, pulling out onto the street. He drove uncharacteristically slow, stopping at all the yellow lights, taking the long way to campus.

When we pulled in front of the entrance of Morgan Hall, the same sadness I felt the night I left the apartment consumed me. It knew it was ridiculous to be so emotional, but each time I did something to push him away, I was terrified it would work.

He walked me to the door, and I pulled out my keys, avoiding his eyes. As I fumbled with the metal in my hand, his hand was suddenly at my chin, his thumb softly touching my lips.

“Did he kiss you?” he asked.

I pulled away, surprised that his fingers caused a burning feeling that seared every nerve from my mouth to my toes. “You really know how to screw up a perfect night, don’t you?”

“You thought it was perfect, huh? Does that mean you had a good time?”

“I always do when I’m with you.”

He looked to the ground and his eyebrows pulled together. “Did he kiss you?”

“Yes,” I sighed, irritated.

His eyes closed tight. “Is that all?”

“That is none of your business!” I said, yanking open the door.

Travis pushed it closed and stood in my way, his expression apologetic. “I need to know.”

“No you don’t! Move, Travis!”


“You think because I’m no longer a virgin, I’ll screw anyone that’ll have me? Thanks !” I said, shoving him.

“I didn’t say that, damn it! Is it too much to ask for a little peace of mind?”

Why would it give you peace of mind to know if I’m sleeping with Parker?”

“How can you not know? It’s obvious to everyone else but you!” he said, exasperated.

“I guess I’m just an idiot, then. You’re on a roll tonight, Trav,” I said, reaching for the door handle.

He gripped my shoulders. “The way I feel about you…it’s crazy.”

“You got the crazy part right,” I snapped, pulling away from him.

“I practiced this in my head the whole time we were on the bike, so just hear me out,” he said.


“I know we’re fucked up, all right? I’m impulsive, and hot-tempered, and you get under my skin like no one else. You act like you hate me one minute, and then you need me the next. I never get anything right, and I don’t deserve you…but I fucking love you, Abby. I love you more than I’ve loved anyone or anything, ever. When you’re around, I don’t need booze, or money, or the fighting, or the one-night stands…all I need is you. You’re all I think about. You’re all I dream about. You’re all I want.”

My plan to feign ignorance was an epic fail. I couldn’t pretend to be impervious when he had laid all of his cards on the table. When we met, something inside both of us had changed, and whatever that was, it made us need each other. For reasons unknown to me, I was his exception, and as much as I had tried to fight my feelings, he was mine.

He shook his head, cupped each side of my face, and looked into my eyes. “Did you sleep with him?”

Hot tears filled my eyes as I shook my head no. He slammed his lips against mine, and his tongue entered my mouth without hesitation. Unable to control myself, I gripped his shirt in my fists, and pulled him to me. He hummed in his amazing, deep voice, and gripped me so tight that it was difficult to breathe.

He pulled back, breathless. “Call Parker. Tell him you don’t wanna see him anymore. Tell him you’re with me.”

I closed my eyes. “I can’t be with you, Travis.”

“Why the hell not?” he said, letting go.

I shook my head, afraid of his reaction to the truth.

He laughed once. “Unbelievable. The one girl I want, and she doesn’t want me.”

I swallowed, knowing I would have to get closer to the truth than I had in months. “When America and I moved out here, it was with the understanding that my life was going to turn out a certain way. Or, that it wouldn’t turn out a certain way. The fighting, the gambling, the drinking…it’s what I left behind. When I’m around you…it’s all right there for me in an irresistible, tattooed package. I didn’t move hundreds of miles away to live it all over again.”

He pulled my chin up so that I would face him. “I know you deserve better than me. You think I don’t know that? But if there was any woman made for me…it’s you. I’ll do whatever I have to do, Pidge. Do you hear me? I’ll do anything.”

I turned away from his grip, ashamed that I couldn’t tell him the truth. I was the one that wasn’t good enough. I would be the one to ruin everything; to ruin him. He would hate me one day, and I couldn’t see the look in his eye when he came to that conclusion.

He held the door shut with his hand. “I’ll stop fighting the second I graduate. I won’t drink a single drop again. I’ll give you the happy ever after, Pigeon. If you just believe in me, I can do it.”

“I don’t want you to change.”

“Then tell me what to do. Tell me and I’ll do it,” he pleaded.

Any thoughts of being with Parker were long gone, and I knew it was because of my feelings for Travis. I thought about the different paths my life would take from that moment — trusting Travis with a leap of faith and risking the unknown, or pushing him away and knowing exactly where I would end up, which included a life without him — either decision terrified me.

“Can I borrow your phone?” I asked.

Travis pulled his brows together, confused. “Sure,” he said, pulling his phone from his pocket, handing it to me.

I dialed, and then closed my eyes as it rang in my ear.

“Travis? What the hell? Do you know what time it is?” Parker answered. His voice was deep and raspy, and I instantly felt my heart vibrating in my chest. It hadn’t occurred to me that he would know I had called from Travis’ phone.

My next words somehow found their way to my trembling lips. “I’m sorry for calling you so early, but this couldn’t wait. I…can’t go to dinner with you on Wednesday.”

“It’s almost four in the morning, Abby. What’s going on?”

“I can’t see you at all, actually.”


“I’m…pretty sure I’m in love with Travis,” I said, bracing for his reaction.

After a few moments of shocked silence, he hung up in my ear.

My eyes still focused on the pavement, I handed Travis his phone, and then reluctantly peered up at his expression. A combination of confusion, shock, and adoration scrolled across his face.

“He hung up,” I grimaced.

He scanned my face with careful hope in his eyes. “You love me?”

“It’s the tattoos,” I shrugged.

A wide smile stretched across his face, making his dimple sink into his cheek. “Come home with me,” he said, enveloping me in his arms.

My eyebrows shot up. “You said all that to get me in bed? I must have made quite an impression.”

“The only thing I’m thinking about right now is holding you in my arms all night.”

“Let’s go,” I smiled.

Despite the excessive speed and the shortcuts, the ride to the apartment seemed endless. When we finally arrived, Travis carried me up the stairs. I giggled against his lips as he fumbled to unlock the door. When he set me on my feet and closed the door behind us, he let out a long, relieved sigh.

“It hasn’t seemed like home since you left,” he said, kissing my lips.

Toto scampered down the hall and wagged his tiny tail, pawing at my legs. I cooed at him as I lifted him off the floor.

Shepley’s bed squeaked, and then his feet stomped across the floor. His door flew open as he squinted from the light. “Fuck no, Trav, you’re not pulling this shit! You’re in love with Ab…,” his eyes focused and he recognized his mistake, “…by. Hey, Abby.”

“Hey, Shep,” I smiled, setting Toto on the floor.

Travis pulled me past his still-shocked cousin, and kicked the door shut behind us, pulling me into his arms and kissing me without a second thought, as if we had done it a million times before. I pulled his shirt over his head, and he slipped my jacket off my shoulders. I stopped kissing him long enough to remove my sweater and tank top, and then crashed into him again. We undressed each other, and within seconds he lowered me to his mattress. I reached above my head to pull open the drawer and plunged my hand inside, searching for anything that crackled.

“Shit,” he said, panting and frustrated. “I got rid of them.”

What? All of them?” I breathed.

“I thought you didn’t…if I wasn’t with you, I wasn’t going to need them.”

“You’re kidding me!” I said, letting my head fall against the headboard.

His forehead fell against my chest. “Consider yourself the opposite of a foregone conclusion.”

I smiled, and kissed him. “You’ve never been with anyone without one?”

He shook his head. “Never.” I looked around for a moment, lost in thought. He laughed once at my expression. “What are you doing?

“Ssh, I’m counting.” Travis watched me for a moment, and then leaned down to kiss my neck. “I can’t concentrate while you’re doing tha…” I sighed, “the twenty-fifth and two days…,” I breathed.

Travis chuckled. “What the hell are you talkin’ about?”

“We’re good,” I said, sliding down so I was directly beneath him.

He pressed his chest against mine, and kissed me tenderly. “Are you sure?”

I let my hands glide from his shoulders to his backside and pulled him against me. He closed his eyes, and let out a long, deep groan.

“Oh my God, Abby,” he breathed. He rocked into me again, another hum emanating from his throat. “Holy shit, you feel amazing.”

“Is it different?”

He looked into my eyes. “It’s different with you, anyway, but,” he took in a deep breath and tensed again, closing his eyes for a moment, “I’m never going to be the same after this.”

His lips searched every inch of my neck, and when he found his way to my mouth, I sunk my fingertips into the muscles of his shoulders, losing myself in the intensity of the kiss.

Travis brought my hands above my head and intertwined his fingers with mine, squeezing my hands with each thrust. His movements became a bit rougher, and I dug my nails into his hands, my insides tensing with incredible force.


I cried out, biting my lip and clenching my eyes shut.

“Abby,” he whispered, sounding conflicted, “I need a…I need to…,”

“Don’t stop,” I begged.

He rocked into me again, groaning so loudly that I covered his mouth. After a few labored breaths, he looked into my eyes, and then kissed me over and over. His hands cupped each side of my face and then he kissed me again, slower, more tender. He touched his lips to mine, and then my cheeks, my forehead, my nose, and then finally returned to my lips.

I smiled and sighed, exhaustion setting in. Travis pulled me next to him, situating the covers over us. I rested my cheek against his chest, and he kissed my forehead once more, locking his fingers together behind me.

“Don’t leave this time, okay? I wanna wake up just like this in the morning.”

I kissed his chest, feeling guilty that he had to ask. “I’m not going anywhere.”