I put the chocolate cake down on the floor, but didn't wrap it up. I turned the television set off, but still sat in front of it. I folded my legs on top of each other, but wasn't comfortable. I tried to be calm, but tears came anyway.

And although the house was filled with sleeping people, I felt like I was alone. They could have been awake and talking to me, and I still would have felt by myself.

My eyes started to swell up. My breathing shortened. My stomach heaved. And soon I was hunched on top of myself, sobbing like it was my last time.

I heard the front door open and I could have sworn my heart stopped. I didn't turn around although I had wanted to. I didn't move although my body was begging me to. I didn't even breathe, even though I should have.

"Hayden, I heard you before I even walked in." And then he walked in and sat beside me on the floor. He smelled strongly of cigarettes and only cigarettes, no alcohol. "What's eating you?"

The best I could do was sniffle in response because, for the life of me, I couldn't find my voice. I couldn't find anything.

He sighed worriedly in response but spoke calmly when he said, "C'mon. Let's get you cleaned up." I grasped his hand lightly when he offered and followed him into the kitchen. "Hop up." His rough hands graced my hips as they lifted me on top of the kitchen countertop.

And again, all I could do was sniffle in response.

My tears were at a stand still as I watched him run a washcloth underneath the tap and bring it to my cheeks. The abyss that lay in his eyes was soft as he avoided eye contact and focused on my damp skin. His eyebrows furrowed together before looking up at me. Straight at me. "I was never aware you liked staring at me so much, Hay." Thin laugh lines appeared for a moment before he dropped his eyes back down to my skin.

And I only sniffled again.

"There," he said in satisfaction as he tossed the washcloth aside and cocked his hands on his hips briefly. "All done." He teased before becoming serious again. He shrugged off his worn leather jacket and tossed it on the kitchen table--never breaking eye contact once.

And soon his calloused hands crawled on to the familiar place on my hips. And then he parted his lips to say something before I stopped him.

"I was almost done crying before you walked in."

He looked through me. "No, you weren't." His hands traced down to the tops of my knees as he continued looking at me, as if he was having a conversation with my unspoken words. And then Dallas Winston said to me, "you don't have to put up your walls with me, doll."
♠ ♠ ♠
Take a look at the comment page, please.