'Let's go into London, for a walk,' I smiled. Usually, that was what I did when I needed time to think, but it would be nice to have the company for a change. She looked slightly surprised though I'm not sure why.
We took a bus to a spot by the river and I bought some food from a café to eat as we walked.
We went for about an hour before we stopped for another coffee and sat down to drink it.
Alesha turned her body to face me, she looked serious now, 'Matt, thank you. For being here after everything that's happened… I just wanted you to know that I'm really grateful.' She smiled softly and in that moment she looked more beautiful than I'd ever seen her before.
Her skin looked so smooth in the cold air, yet her dark skin somehow seemed radiant. Her lips were slightly parted, the air escaping in small bursts of clouds. Her eyes gazed into mine and she leaned in. She kept eye contact until her face was centimetres away from mine and I could feel her sweet breath on my face.
Lost in the moment I leaned down to close the gap and our lips touched. The kiss was short, only a few seconds longs, and our lips barely moved under each other, but somehow I'd never kissed with such emotion in my life.
Alesha pulled away, keeping our foreheads together and I felt her smiling.
'I love you.' I said it again.
'I love you too,' Alesha responded, I could tell she meant it. I grinned. I'd never felt so committed to anyone in my life.
'And I'm sorry,' she added. I pulled my head away from hers and looked at her, 'For what?' I was confused.
'Underestimating you. I thought you would withdraw from me after what had happened, that I would lose my friend because of his sensational phobia of commitment,' she smiled. 'I'm still puzzled though. You've been out with all these different girls, haven't you ever wanted to settle down?'
'No, but then I've never met anyone I felt strongly enough about to settle down with,' I paused, teasing, 'until now.' I smiled and pecked her on the cheek.
I lay back on the bench and curled my arm around Alesha, pulling her closer to me.
I felt her snuggle even closer as she lay her head on my shoulder and we sat there, I couldn't say for how long, in silence.
'Let's go into London, for a walk,' I was a little surprised he did that kind of thing but I supposed it would be nice.
When we got of the bus, Matt bought a couple of paninis and we walked along the river together.
He continued with his questions, this time asking about school and uni.
We walked for another hour before we stopped for coffee, sitting down on a bench to drink and rest our legs.
I turned to face him, intent on thanking him for all the support, 'Matt, thank you. For being here after everything that's happened… I just wanted you to know that I'm really grateful.' I smiled at him and thought for a moment. What was holding me back. It sounded stupid but the rape was over and Merrick was gone, I wanted to move on.
Before I knew what I was doing, I leant my head in until we were close to touching. I felt his cool breath on my skin. He leant down until we were together. We kissed for a few seconds, not too much movement, but it didn't matter.
I pulled away, resting my forehead against his in an effort to stay close.
'I love you,' he said again. I smiled.
'I love you too.' It was my automatic response but my smile grew on hearing the words aloud. I did love him. He cared about me, he was funny, clever, unbelievably attractive, and most importantly, I felt utterly safe when I was with him.
We were both beaming now.
'And I'm sorry,' I'd never told him how I'd felt but I wanted to.
'For what?' he asked with innocent eyes.
'Underestimating you. I thought you would withdraw from me after what had happened, that I would lose my friend because of his sensational phobia of commitment,' I smiled and decided to ask him something that had crossed my mind a couple of times before, 'I'm still puzzled though. You've been out with all these different girls, haven't you ever wanted to settle down?'
I waited for him to respond.
'No, but then I've never met anyone I felt strongly enough about to settle down with,' he paused, hoping I'd react to that but the smiled and happiness in his blue eyes gave him away, 'until now.' He beamed and kissed my cheek. I could feel the warmth his touch left.
He leaned back on the bench, still unable to stop smiling and wrapped his arm around me. I shifted my body to get as close to him as I could and rested my head on his shoulder.
I felt protected and in those moments, everything was perfect.
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