Dreams Unwind

[t e n]

“So how come you live with your dad and uncle?”

I nearly choke on my mouthful of beer; Harry’s voice was unexpected, his question even more so. In the last five months of us being together, he’s never asked about the reasons behind me living with with my father and Henry. He smiles apologetically and pats at my back, and I manage to swallow down the drink. Coughing lightly, I take another sip then set the bottle on the table. I don’t speak immediately, trying to gather my thoughts in a way that won’t make me sound pathetic when I voice them.

The heat of the day still hasn’t fully disappeared, though the sun went down hours ago. The lights from the pool illuminate the sharp lines of his jaw, the curve of his lips and brows, and his green eyes, steady on me, seem to glow fluorescent in the glare. My smile falls flat - even I know that - but he doesn’t call me out on it. I draw in a steadying breath and tell him all about Dianne and her disappearing trick, the way she suddenly vanished from my life completely the second the divorce was finalised. It wasn’t like she was around much once she decided the marriage wasn’t working out, but there wasn’t anything keeping her in one place after the papers were signed.

Harry reaches for my hand, and our fingers lace together immediately. It isn’t but two seconds later that he tugs on me; I laugh softly and move from the lounger I’m on to curl up next to him on his. I lean my head against his shoulder, closing my eyes as I relax into the scent of his cologne. His lips are warm on my forehead. I’m just glad he doesn’t try to offer platitudes or pity about the fact that my mother abandoned our family years ago. It no longer bothers me - what bothers me most are the sympathetic looks I get whenever someone new finds out about Dianne’s departure.

I sigh softly, stare at the sky dotted with stars. It feels nice to be here with him. We haven’t been able to see each other much lately, and the date he took me on that day seems so far away, though it’s only been a week and a half since then. It had taken me fifteen solid minutes to be able to formulate a coherent sentence once he ended the call with Stevie Nicks, and I am still in awe that they know each other enough to have each other’s phone numbers.

We lie there together under the late-night sky, his heartbeat strong under my palm on his chest, and not for the first time, I wish this never ended. Not just the relationship, but the tranquillity and happiness he brings to my life, how content I am when I’m with him, the way he causes my heart to race and my blood to boil just with the looks he gives me or his soft kisses. There’s a sense of confusion under it all, however, one that keeps me up most nights as I struggle to figure it out. I let out a shuddering breath and turn my face into his shoulder. His arm tightens around me.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I whisper, because no matter how muddled my emotions feel right now, I am okay. I’m better than okay. “I’m all right.”

“Tired?”

I hesitate for just a moment then sigh. “A little. But I don’t wanna go home.”

“You - you can stay if you’d like.”

His voice is strained, somewhat shaky, and I pull back enough to look at him. He stares up at the sky, studiously avoids my gaze. I bite my lip, press the tip of my index finger to his chin, and nudge his face down so I can look into his eyes. His lips quirk up at the corners, though the smile is gone as quick as it appeared; I lean up to kiss him gently.

“Do you want me to?”

He nods after a few seconds. Something in my gut clenches with that simple movement, and I push myself to my feet, reach out my hand to him. His fingers wrap around mine as he stands, and I let him guide me into the house. The only areas of his home that I know are the living room, kitchen, and the first-floor bathroom, and tonight isn’t the time to make a fool of myself by going to the wrong room. He leaves me by the foot of the stairs, promising to be quick. The click of the lock on the front door sliding into place echoes in the otherwise silent house, then Harry is back by my side.

I nearly collapse in awe when the light comes on in what I’m assuming is his bedroom: The bed alone is a work of art. The posts of the frame are a deep mahogany, gauzy black curtains pulled back on the sides, and the mattress looks large enough to fit four people comfortably, five if they don’t mind touching. My toes itch to bury themselves into the thick rug that stretches out underneath the bed, from one side to the other with plenty of extra material to actually be useful. I can feel Harry’s gaze heavy on my face, and I turn to face him.

There’s something in his expression that I can’t read properly, but I assume it’s worry. Maybe he’s afraid that this is my end goal - to fuck him and leave him? It makes sense in a way, I suppose, considering any time I’ve attempted to move past kissing and cuddling, he’s stopped it. I glance down at his hand, link our fingers together. When I look back up at him, his head is tilted to the side in question.

“Thank you.”

He shakes his head with a soft smile, and though I want to argue it, want to make sure he knows exactly what I mean, I don’t. Instead, I press a kiss to the back of his hand and look at the bed. It beckons me to sprawl out and melt into it. Harry follows me to the bed and frowns when I stop at the end.

“Which side do you sleep on?” I ask at his unspoken inquiry, and he points to the one closest to him. “Cool. I sleep on my right side, so this means uninterrupted snuggles all night.”

“I might have something you can wear to sleep in.”

I shrug and stare down at the shorts and tank-top I’d come over in. “That, uh, might be good. Denim is awful to use as pyjamas.”

Once I’ve changed into a pair of soft, worn-in sweats - during which Harry turned his back like a true gentleman, even though he’s seen me in less whenever I go to the beach - I slide in between the sheets and sigh blissfully. They’re the right level of cold that I enjoy whenever I get into bed, and I burrow deeper into the smooth silkiness of the fabric. Harry chuckles quietly before the room is doused in darkness as he flips the switch; the bed dips when he climbs in beside me, immediately scooting over so that he can slip an arm under my neck. I shift closer, placing my head on his shoulder and my hand on his chest, and soon, the only sound in the room is our breathing.

Here, lying with him so close in the dark, there is nothing on my mind but him. The puzzling enigma that is my emotional state is nowhere to be found; all I feel right now is peace, the kind that I have fought for so long to find again. I exhale slowly and close my eyes. I know I promised my dad I was going into this with my eyes wide open, but being with Harry is intoxicating, and I crave more of his time, his attention, his everything whenever we’re apart. I haven’t felt like this for quite some time. I have honestly missed the all-consuming warmth that comes with falling in love.

The thought, surprisingly enough, doesn’t fill me with fear. Or maybe it’s because my mind is altered by Harry’s presence. I’m not entirely sure, so I do what sounds like the right choice: I dive headfirst into the sleep that awaits me.

I fumble for my phone as it lights up yet again. I’m grateful for turning off the vibrate function before coming over, but it’s almost three in the morning. No one should be texting me. The message slowly comes into focus as I stare at it with one eye closed, and I groan low in my throat and type back a message to my uncle, swearing that I’m fine but if he texts me again in the middle of the night, he won’t be able to use his fingers for a very long time. His response comes in the form of two emojis: a middle finger and a thumbs-up. I lock the screen again and flop back onto the bed.

Harry sleeps on next to me, his left arm stretched out toward me with the other curled tightly against his chest. I scratch at the skin below my bra strap, sighing when I realise I won’t be able to fall asleep again unless I use the bathroom. I grab my phone and tiptoe toward the door. Once I’m in the hallway, I turn the flashlight mode on and make my way on silent footsteps down the corridor, checking each room that I pass. I finally locate the room I need and duck inside.

“You didn’t have to go hunting for a toilet,” Harry mumbles sleepily when I return, and I barely manage to bite back a squeak of surprise at the unexpectedness of hearing his voice. He gestures vaguely to one of the doors on the far side of the room. “I have one right there.”

“Well, I didn’t know that.”

“Sorry, love, should’ve told you.”

“Go back to sleep, sweetie, it’s not even three yet.”

“Was waiting for you to get back.”

“I’m here now. Sleep.”

I wonder if he was sleep-talking when not even a minute later, he’s snoring softly again. Rolling my eyes, I curl up against him and relax into the warmth and scent I’ve come to love. Love. The word bounces around in my brain, echoing deafeningly, and I wonder if it’s too soon in the relationship to feel like this. If it’s too soon after Wil. Thinking of Wil brings the question of how he would feel about my dating Harry, if he would approve, if I would still be just as happy with Wil years down the road as I was in the beginning. As I am with Harry.

I blink back tears and force the thoughts away. It isn’t worth dwelling over, I remind myself. Wil is dead, and he’s never coming back. Sure, it’s unfair, he shouldn’t have died so young, but he did. He died and left me scrambling to pick up the pieces of my heart without him. Blowing out a shaky breath, I try to focus on the contentedness I felt not even ten minutes ago, but everything leads right back to Wil. I stifle a broken sob, rolling to face away from Harry. How can I look at him right now, when I’m in his bed and thinking of another man that I loved? He’s been so wonderful, and it isn’t right or fair to him. Disgust and guilt swirl around in violent circles in my gut, stretching their icy fingers to eat at every molecule in my body, and I hate myself more in this moment than I ever have before.