A/N Thank you guys, you're AWESOME! More than 20 reviews for a chapter is a number I'd never hope for, really! Millions of thanks to you for reading and leaving your comments! I love your reviews :)
Paul smiled at me. „Good then."
„Yeah. Look, I.. uhmm, I have some homework to do. Do you mind?"
Still smiling, he put his hands up as if surrendering. „Not at all. Should I go?"
„No!" And then I added calmly. „I mean, I won't be long. Then we can talk or whatever."
„It depends on what you mean by whatever?" Paul asked with a raised eyebrow. I smacked him on the hand. „Okay, okay, just do what you have to do, I'll rest for a moment." He went over to sit in the armchair, and let out a relieved sigh as he made himself comfortable. „Hey, if I snore, just throw a shoe at me or something."
He smiled at me and closed his eyes. When I got up to take my books, I could swear he was already asleep.
Homework took longer than I had expected. There wasn't much to do, but there was a certain someone in my room that took most of my attention. I kept stealing glances in Paul's direction every now and then, and for a few times I caught myself smiling like an idiot. He looked gorgeous in his sleep. I had to say, I was fascinated by the fact that he was sleeping and that I had an opportunity to observe. Usually I have been the one who was being watched, it was nice to have things vice versa.
He looked calm and relaxed. I could see the tiniest trail of his temper in the way he furrowed his eyebrows, but that was it. I couldn't believe that just a week ago my opinion on him had been that bad. Paul turned out to be maybe half as bad as I had expected. He wasn't completely nice, and I had to admit – I liked it when he was being rough, that helped me stay in reality, that meant he hadn't changed a lot. I hoped his attitude wouldn't change as things progress, I didn't want to have a babysitter, I needed him to respect my ability to do things on my own, to trust my own decisions and actions. Something, that to my disappointment I had to admit, Edward never did. Wow, I would've never imagined myself as a supporter of tough love.
Love. Did I really know what that was? I guess I did. I loved Edward, even now I did. But, as I had noticed earlier, something had changed about that. There was still great deal of warm feelings towards him, despite what he had done, but it didn't hurt to be thinking of him. I had to admit, I was making up the pain in my head. Because letting him go this easily would mean that it wasn't real, that our love wasn't real. But it was. It just had changed into something I couldn't yet understand.
Finishing my homework, I got up again to put the books on the desk. I was confused. What should I do? We never covered the subject of what should I do when I'm done. We agreed that I'd let him know in case he snores, which I of course didn't do. He looked too nice to wake him up like that. But I had to wake him up somehow. I wouldn't be able to sleep knowing that he's somewhere in the dark, close to me. Not that I was afraid of him or something, no, I'd just feel I'm losing an opportunity.
I went over to Paul. Being so close his face looked even more relaxed. I could tell he was having a dreamless sleep. I doubted that I could even wake him. But, well I had to at least give it a shot.
I took one more moment to take a good look at him. I had never looked at him so directly, I was always aware of the fact that he knows I'm staring. Now I could stare all I want. I tried to take a strong and livid picture to remember it later. I had never noticed that he was this beautiful. At this moment he looked more like a Greek god to me than Edward ever did. And that was logical, Greeks weren't pale and sparkling after all. I was afraid to admit it, but picture of Edward kept fading in my mind every single minute. I was worried that it would go away absolutely. And at the same time, I could recall Paul's features clearer, the image of him was fresh and alive in my head.
I fought the urge to run my fingers through his hair. But I couldn't fully resist touching him, so I put my hand on his shoulder to wake him up. His body was so warm, I could feel muscles under his skin. I shook his shoulder and called his name. No reaction.
„Paul!" I called again, this time louder.
A huge smile appeared on his face, it was hard not to smile back. Then his eyes fluttered open. The motion was too quick for me to get the silly grin off my face, and Paul sure noticed that.
„Oggling me in my sleep, aren't we?" He said, still smiling. And I noticed that my hand was still on his shoulder. I rushed to take it away.
Immediately Paul caught my wrist gently. „We both know you like touching me, so you don't have to run away from your opportunities." And he cocked his eyebrows in a way that was meant to be a seductive gesture. It got me giggling and blushing at the same time.
„So, no point of using my talents of seduction yet, huh?" He acted like being insulted.
„Nope." I shook my head seriously, trying not to smile.
„Well, don't worry baby, there's gonna be a time when you'll be drooling all over me and I'll play hard to get." There was the seductive tone again, but this time it got us both laughing. I was happy about getting out of the awkward situation with waking Paul so easily.
After the laughter stopped, we went quiet for a while. It seemed like none of us knew what to say. I was feeling a bit awkward because there we were – me and Paul, the guy who just a week ago seemed like a total asshole, - sitting in my room, late at night. If someone told me this would be happening, I'd tell him to get his head checked. And the weirdest thing was that it didn't feel weird at all. It felt completely normal, as if this is what's supposed to happen. I guessed Paul felt the same way. Or that's what I thought, I couldn't know for sure since I was too much of a chicken to ask him.
I was deep in my thoughts, so Paull getting up sharply startled me. I couldn't quite realize if he's leaving, but I didn't even manage to ask, because in a flash of a moment he hid behind the dresser. A second later Charlie walked in to tell me he's going to sleep. After my goodnights he took one last look at me and closed the door.
Paul walked out of his hiding place with a smile. I guess confusion was still written on my face.
„You didn't think I'm leaving, did you?"
„Well.. Kind of."
He just shook his head in disapproval. „You're not learning at all." I tried to figure out what he meant by that, and tried to ignore the tiny note of sadness in his voice. I decided to start talking, since I didn't want to waste time just sitting around, buried in my own thoughts. Not that I didn't like just being in his comforting presence, I wanted something more. This day had shown that we can have a normal conversation, and I was eager to get to know Paul better. Although it felt like I've known him for ages, there were many things I still wanted to know.
„Hey, can I ask you something?"
„Sure." He said, leaning against the windowsill in the same way I found him when waking into my room previously.
„How come you're not such an asshole anymore?" He cocked his eyebrows in surprise, then a grin appeared on his face.
„I would've never imagined you'd say those words right in my face, I'm impressed." As his grin grew even wider, he added. „I'm imprinted on you, if you haven't noticed. That changes people."
I rolled my eyes. „Thanks for explaining, now everyhting's so clear! I mean, when you first told me you were different. If I remember correctly, you even asked me a permission to hate me. What's changed?"
Paul's face grew serious. „I don't know. I guess I've finally made peace with the fact. I wasn't happy about it at first. I didn't want to give in, I tried to fight it." He sighed. „I guess, I just didn't want to seem weak. To myself. But then it turned out to be easier when I accepted imprinting, let it be a part of me. The wolf talked me into agreeing with him." He said with a smile. I smiled back, though that's not how I felt.
It was nice to hear that Paul had made some peace for himself, but it hurt that I wasn't a part of that. It had nothing to do with me, just his willingness to make his own life easier.
The thought had just appeared across my mind, when Paul added. „And also, I don't know if I should be telling you this considering your wounded ego, but at first I was still hoping you'd be a total mess. Not worth it. Not worth my time, I could say. But then you turned out to be okay. At some point I realized that you are worth it. Even with your obsession with leeches." He smiled at me so sincerely, it was hard not to smile back. „So, now, I can officially tell you, that I admit Jacob being right about you since the beginning. Cuz I've always thought he wasted time with you."
At first I didn't know how to feel. The embarassement was mixed with joy. It was hard to hear those harsh words about me, but I was happy he said them. I realized that I liked his honesty. He wasn't trying to be nicer, wasn't trying to hide something from me just to keep me out of getting disappointed. He laid out everything as it was, and I accepted it. Somehow it helped me see myself the way everyone else must see me. A mess. Not worth their time. A nothing. And instead of making me cry, it made me more confident that I could change.
But there was more that I wanted to know.
„When? I mean, when did your opinion change?"
Paul took a moment to think. „I don't know. I guess, something switched when you threw yourself at me on the beach. But I wasn't quite sure before we kissed, that's when I really felt that you're not that damaged. That I could still get you over that bloodsucker." I was not even trying to correct him, I knew by now that there was no use of trying to make Paul refer to Edward differently. „I mean, then I felt something from you towards me, something that gave me hope. And subconsciously I decided to stop being so negative about it, just be myself."
„So, this is the real you?"
„Well, yeah. With some of that sensitive imprinting crap added, this is me. I'm not that bad. An asshole, but not that bad." He said with a sweet smile. „And now I fell that I'm turning into a wuss, I've never been the one with a sweet mouth. And yet now I'm talking, and even thinking, like those other imprinted idiots. Though, they are worse, I have to admit that. Even now that I'm one of them, some of their sugary thoughts can make me gag. Mentally."
I nodded with a smile. „That bad?"
„Totally. It's difficult not to think of your imprint when someone brings her up. And you can imagine what kind of thoughts they are. I mean, since my imprint didn't start off too well, my thoughts are not that bad, I control them. Plus, it's not like we're together, I don't have much to share. But those two.. Sometimes I can't even look at Emily or Kim without laughing, because their guys have shown us something spicy. The girls don't like that and it's hilarious to watch those two trying to get out of the situation."
I laughed quietly, though I actually felt like panicking. If me and Paul would ever become a couple, the others would know everything, even see everything? That would be awful, I'd probably end up locking myself in my room just so I don't have to face the pack. And Jacob? How would I ever face him, if Paul and I become a.. uhm, something?
I guess my face displayed my thoughts because I found Paul looking at me amused.
„Once again, I've got to say, I'm impressed. I would've never thought you'd consider us doing something that others don't have to see so soon." As I was about to protest, he made me shut up with a motion of his hand. „I know what you were thinking. That's normal. And I'm flattered, really. But you don't have to worry about that, I'm pretty good at hiding my thoughts." He smiled. „Not completely, though." He added with a sly smile.
Stupid pack mind, I said in my head. It only now occurred to me that I've considered having sex with Paul, just a moment ago I thought of it and it seemed normal. Now my emotions went haywire. Though the sex was theoretical and unreal, the idea itself seemed realistic. I shook the thought away. I can't start thinking about this now, my head is a mess just with what is happening right now, no need to think about future.
Not quite realizing it, I yawned. I wouldn't have even noticed it if Paul didn't point that it's probably time for him to go and let me go to sleep. I didn't answer because I was desperately trying to find a way to make him stay. Tell him I'm not tired? Yeah, like he'd buy that. Tell him I want to talk more? Or that I'm ready to stay up all night just to spend as much time with him as I can? I shook my head to my own thoughts. Paul noticed.
„What are you thinking about so hard?"
„I.. uhmm.. I just..." Seeing Paul's smiling face startled me. It looked like he knew what I'm thinking about. „What?" I asked, trying to win some time.
„I'm just waiting for you to say the words yourself." Still, that smiling and amused expression on his face. What should I do? Ask a guy I barely know to spend the night? Well, it's not barely, I know him quite enough to trust. But it still seemed... Weird. As I thought about it, I knew I wouldn't feel uncomfortable, I'd probably just feel too comfortable to relax. Could it even be too comfortable? I guess it could, when you're so comfortable it becomes intense. I'd probably be aware of the fact that he's here, with me. And I wouldn't be able to sleep. So the best idea would to let him go. But I wasn't ready.
„I want you to stay." I said, looking at my feet, but somehow I knew he was smiling. I felt my cheeks turn scarlet. If it was dark in here, they'd probably glow. I was nervous while waiting for his answer.
After few moments of silence I heard quiet and simple. „See, you can say what you think." I looked up to meet his eyes. They were calm with a hint of quiet joy.
So, now the problem of Paul going away was solved. What next? I couldn't help but remember the nights Edward spent here, with me. He would just lay next to me and watch me sleep. I knew this wouldn't work with Paul. I can't ask him to stay awake, he needs sleep just like I do, maybe even more. I saw how he was sleeping previously, that was deep and much needed sleep. But how? Should I ask him to go sleep in the armchair? That's awfully uncomfortable. Should I go sleep there? Yeah, that wouldn't be weird at all! Thoughts kept spinning in my head when Paul's question rescued me. For I don't know which time today I noticed he was somehow reading my mind and helping me out of uncomfortable situations.
„So, what do you mean by me staying? Should I stand here and watch you sleep or should I go back to the chair or what?"
„No, no watching me sleep, thank you. That's pretty creepy when someone does that." By the way Paul clenched his jaw, I knew he realized who was I talking about. He took a deep breath and tried to hide his shaky voice.
„Okay then, I'll just take the armchair and move it closer." To my questioning look he answered. „If I'm staying here what's the point of me being in the other end of the room?" I nodded, that made perfect sense.
„But won't you be uncomfortable?"
He just smiled. „I've had worse. Slept on a bare ground, so this is not that bad. Plus," he added, „would you be comfortable if I asked you to share the bed?"
I shook my head slowly.
„Thought so." Paul said as he mover the armchair to be next to my bed. „All done. Get under covers, I'll turn off the light."
I did as he said and a moment later the room went dark. My eyes hadn't adjusted yet, but I heard Paul move a chair to put his feet on. A moment later I heard him shuffle to make himself comfortable. He was quiet, so I asked.
I giggled. „If I snore, nudge me or something."
„Yeah, right, like you threw a shoe at me when I snored before?" Damn, how did he know I didn't do that?
There was a moment of silence before he spoke. „For what?"
This time there was no answer, but a moment later I felt his hand find mine in the dark. His touch felt so warm and nice. For just a moment I even regretted not asking him to sleep next to me. I shook that off, wrong way of thinking.
The feeling of his hand holding mine was too much for my excited mind, it decided it was time to shut off. The last thing I saw was a pair of warm, yet shiny eyes looking at me from the dark. Lovingly. And a moment later I was gone.