DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.

Twitter: themusiksnob / Tumblr: musiksnob

I'm sure most of you are well aware of my bout of fanfiction depression either from my Tumblr or from the first chapter of I Only Want To Be With You. I'd really like to thank you for your overwhelming support. So many people took to time to write a review of that story or send me a tweet or a Tumblr message, and it truly made me feel happy and ready to continue in this sometimes difficult world of Degrassi fanfiction. I really wanted to send you author review responses and tell how how much I appreciated it directly but my free time is limited nowadays and I think most of you would prefer that I spend it writing.

My only request is that you don't disappear on me. A few people mentioned that they don't review often because they feel like they just say the same thing over and over. You don't have to tell me I'm amazing. Pick out a line you particularly liked or a detail. Reviews that say, "I cracked up when Eli was going to whip it out right there on the patio," or "You did a good job of keeping Jake in character" are more helpful than you could ever know. I'd rather have a one sentence review like that, than a three paragraph essay on why I'm awesome (although those of course are always welcome).

This is the final chapter of Into Your Arms. I'll be finishing up I Only Want To Be With You hopefully soon, and then I'll be starting my next chapter fic. I've outlined it and right now it's set to be 21 chapters long – which is rather frightening. I'm very nervous on how that one will be received and I hope you can take your good feelings toward me and apply them to any concerns you might have over the premise of that fic.

Just an FYI, this plot has been in my outline since before the episode descriptions were released and before I read Takethecurve's somewhat similar premise as well. Oh well. No fist fights will be happening here.

Chapter 10


"I know a place where I can go when I'm alone. Into your arms, whoa, into your arms, I can go." – Into Your Arms as popularized by The Lemonheads

(a few months later)

"Thanks for the ride, Jake," I said. "Are you sure you guys don't want to come with us?" We had just picked up Alli and Jenna, and Jake was dropping Alli and I off at Eli's since we were going out together to celebrate my 17th birthday.

"That's okay," he said. "Jenna and I have been wanting to see Damaged Goods for a while." He and Jenna had decided a while ago that they were better off as friends, but they still spent a lot of time together.

I climbed out of his truck and pushed the seat forward so Jenna and Alli could hop out. "Happy Birthday, Clare Bear," Jenna said, giving me a hug before getting back in the car. I wrinkled my nose; that nickname was one thing I hadn't missed during the time Jenna and I weren't friends. But I was glad that we'd made up, especially since she spent a lot of time at our house since the Bhandaris were so strict.

As Alli and I waited for Eli to answer the door, I noticed that Jake's truck hadn't moved. He and Jenna were talking and I wondered what they were doing. Jake noticed me watching them and waved, turning the car back on.

"So are you sure you're ready for tonight?" Alli teased, her eyes sparkling.

"Shut up," I hissed. "He doesn't know." She rolled her eyes. I wanted to respond but Eli answered the door, looking especially handsome in a black buttoned down shirt.

"M'lady," he said, leaning in for a kiss.

"Get a room," Alli groaned.

"I have one upstairs," Eli grinned. "Shall we?"

"That wouldn't be very nice of us," I said. "Is Adam here? Should we get going?" We had decided to go out for dinner at a nicer place than Little Miss Steaks or the Dot – where we usually hung out. Eli had suggested that he take me out himself, but I requested that we invite Alli and Adam along – wanting to share the night with our best friends.

"He is, but I think Cece wants to give you your present first. They're down in the basement."

I stowed my purse on the dining room table and headed downstairs. For some reason the light that usually lit up the basement were out and I had to grip the banister carefully as I led Alli and Eli down the stairs.


I almost fell over as Eli flipped the light switch and I saw the room was filled with people. There were balloons and streamers everywhere and I turned around to see Eli looking very pleased with himself.

"I can't believe you did this." I threw my arms over his shoulders and he pulled me closer in response.

"What? You don't think I'm the party throwing type?" He grinned at me and though I knew a lot of people were watching me, I couldn't help but lean in and give him a kiss.

"Hey, none of that," Jake joked, coming up behind us. "That's my sister you're defiling over there."

"I thought you were going to the movies," I said, slugging him in the arm.

He shrugged. "Just an excuse. I thought it'd look weird if Jenna and I crashed your double date."

Alli frowned. "Eww, me and Adam? That's just wrong." She found Dave standing over near a table that was set up with snack food and bounded over to him, planting a huge kiss on his lips as if to show us all he was hers.

"Was it something I said?" Jake joked.

I laughed. "Alli and Adam are friends – through Dave at least. She'll just take any excuse to make out with him."

I recalled for a second how Alli had once made out with Jake himself. It had taken me a long time to get over that – and once I did, the damage had been done. She was the last of all my friends to accept my apology, and she had only given me a chance to do that when I had gotten Mr. Betankamp to assign us as partners on a physics assignment and I'd started the apology in front of her parents. But it was just enough that she was willing to talk about it, and once I found out that Dave had cheated on her and that she'd kissed Jake because he was there and she was hurting, I felt a lot better. Fortunately, she'd missed our friendship as much as I had and she was willing to give me another shot.

And thank God I had her. She had given me so much helpful advice over the last few months as I tried to navigate my relationship with Eli. I didn't think there was anyone else I could have gone to – not even Jenna – to ask some really embarrassing questions that left both of us blushing. She'd even gone to the store with me to purchase the condoms I had hidden in my purse upstairs.

"Seriously," Jenna said. "The second her parents go out, she texts Dave to come over and kicks me out of our room. So annoying."

"Poor baby," Jake teased. "Her parents keep you from being homeless."

"Hey, watch it. If she kicks me out, I'll be crashing at the Edwards-Martin household."

"On the Edwards-Martin couch," Jake said.

Jenna tugged on his arm. "Come with me. I'm gonna get a beer."

I swung around and noticed that that there was quite a bar set up next to the food table and looked at Eli skeptically. He shrugged. "Can't have a party without booze."

"I'm pretty sure you can," I said. I wasn't sure exactly what kind of party he was intending, but it was my birthday after all.

He shook his head. "Come on, Clare. Half of these people have never even drunk alcohol before. No one here is going to get too crazy. I'll make sure of it."

I saw Wesley holding a can of beer, his other arm draped over Hannah's shoulders as they talked to K.C., who had a can of Coke in his hand. Connor was studying Bullfrog's record collection, emptyhanded. Imogen was on the couch with Fiona, laughing at something that would probably only be funny to her. A tiny blonde girl whom I didn't know but looked vaguely familiar was perched on the edge of the loveseat, looking uncomfortable. Drew was sitting in Bullfrog's chair with Bianca on his lap. There were red solo cups on the side table next to them, but they were too busy making out to notice them.

Adam came over with a plate piled with chips, pretzels and every other snack food known to man, and a beer in the other hand, awkwardly holding up his arms so I could give him a hug despite the stuff he was carrying. "Happy Birthday, Clare."

"What are your brother and Bianca doing here?" I asked. I had gotten pretty close with Adam in the months since Eli and I had started dating, but I hadn't had more than a conversation with Drew, and the last time I'd talked to Bianca was when she drove me up to Jake's lakehouse.

Adam shrugged. "I told them there'd be free alcohol."

I gave Eli a pointed look. "They're not even drinking," he protested. "They'll probably have sex in that chair before they get wasted."

"Gross," I said, thinking of all the times I had sat in that chair.

"Come on," he said, placing his hand on the small of my back. "The birthday girl needs a drink."

"No, I don't," I said.

"I got your favourite," he teased. He pulled a bottle of wine out of an ice bucket and I recognized it as one that Cece had opened one night when I was over for dinner. I'd been surprised to discover I liked the taste and consumed three glasses of it – way too much for a lightweight like me.

"You're trying to get me drunk so you can take advantage of me," I whispered accusingly, though really I didn't mind. Though I certainly would have let him do it eventually, the alcohol had given me enough courage to let Eli take off my shirt for the first time after my self-imposed "taking it slow" period. I had wanted to for a while, but I was nervous about taking the leap again, and I ended up being very happy with the result.

He put his hand on my face. "I would never take advantage of you," he said seriously, but his face immediately broke out in a smirk. "You're the one who can't resist me even when you're sober."

"Ha. Ha." I said.

He poured a large amount of wine into a glass goblet and handed it to me. "Go entertain your guests."

I felt a little foolish drinking out of a fancy glass when everyone else had beer or soda cans or solo cups. But I made my way through the room, thanking everyone for attending. K.C. told me about his plans to drive out to British Columbia with his mother this summer to check out UBC. Wesley asked me if I knew that the alcohol content in my glass of wine was the same as a shot of vodka.

Connor gave me an awkwardly wrapped package with a bow on top. "Ms. Nelson made me put the bow on it."

I almost sputtered out my drink as I remembered that Alli and I had once stolen a very personal item from Ms. Nelson herself and wondered if she had figured out it was me. I was relieved to open the box to find a tin of homemade cookies. "Thanks Connor," I said, giving him a hug as he patted my back.

I was taking a sip of wine – realizing that I'd nearly finished this large glass and that if I wanted my plans for the night to go off without a hitch that I'd need to switch to water soon – as I stepped up to Fiona and Imogen. I realized my error in judgment at the last second. "Fiona, I'm so sorry." I shot a glare at Eli across the room who was chatting with Dave near the stereo. "I don't know why Eli thought we needed to drink at this party. I hope you're not uncomfortable."

"It's fine," Fiona reassured me. "I've got 10 months sober. And frankly, you couldn't pay me to drink this swill. There's no temptation here."

Imogen linked her arm with Fiona's. "Besides, she's got me to be her sober buddy for the night."

Imogen had immediately accepted my apology for the horrible remark I had made to her at the Dot months ago. I had never quite understood the quirky girl, but she was nice to have around when you needed a pick up. Fiona wasn't as welcoming as Imogen; Eli had explained that she was very guarded around people, but even after all these months, I still wasn't even sure if she liked me. But she had decided to attend my birthday party so maybe there was still a chance for us to be real friends – for Eli's sake anyway.

"Well I'm glad you guys have each other," I said, searching the room for friendlier faces. Most of my friends were out on the makeshift dance floor; Alli and Jenna were shaking their hips while Dave showed off some impressive dance skills. Eli and Adam were missing and I wondered what kind of trouble the two of them might be getting up to.

I headed back over to the bar, trying to decide if I would be okay if I had one more small glass of wine. As I deliberated I saw the tiny blonde girl trying to make a choice of her own, with a beer in one hand and a Coke in the other. "You don't have to drink if you don't want to," I reassured her. "Nobody cares about that here."

She smiled at me gratefully as she put the beer back in the cooler. "You're Clare, right?" She giggled nervously. "I mean, of course you're Clare, it's your birthday party. I'm sorry…I'm a little nervous." Her voice dropped to a whisper. "This is my first high school party."

I realized why she looked so familiar; she was Katie Matlin's little sister. "If it's any consolation, this is my first high school party too. You're Maya, right? I know your sister." Katie was the editor on the newspaper. She wasn't my favourite person in the world, but over the year I'd come to respect the hard work she put in to the job.

She grinned. "That's me. Katie told me to wish you a happy birthday. She would have come herself but well…" She nodded her head toward Drew and Bianca, still pawing each other in Bullfrog's chair.

"Who did you come here with?" I asked curiously. I didn't think that Eli would have known the Grade 9 girl.

"Adam invited me," she said. "That's okay, isn't it?"

"Of course," I said. "How do you know Adam?"

Her face lit up. "He and I are in this band together. WhisperHug."

Suddenly I had put the pieces together. Adam had been talking about a girl he'd had a crush on for a while but he had never mentioned her name. I was pretty sure the conversations had started right around the time he auditioned to be their bassist though.

"Oh right," I said. "I think he's mentioned that you're a really good cellist."

Maya looked pleased. "He talked about me? Wow, that's so awesome." She blushed. "I can't believe I just said that out loud."

"It's okay. I can keep a secret."

She looked around the room. "Hey, which one of these guys is Jake Martin? He's your stepbrother, right?"

I looked over at Jake, who was backing away from a conversation between K.C. and Jenna. "The tall one, in the plaid. Why, are you interested?" My heart sank as I'd hoped it was possible that Maya might return Adam's crush.

She looked coy. "It's not me who's interested." I raised my eyebrows at her implication. I wasn't sure I could really see Jake and Katie together, but I hoped that he would find someone who'd make him as happy as Eli had made me.

"Who's interested?" Adam asking, coming up behind her and putting his arm around her shoulder in a surprisingly slick move. Eli did the same to me and he and I exchanged amused glances. Adam's cheeks were bright red, and I wondered just how much he'd had to drink.

Maya smiled at him. "I'm interested…in dancing." She grabbed Adam by the hand and tugged him to the dance floor as he pretended to protest and shot Eli and I a huge grin over his shoulder.

The music was pretty loud and I wondered if we were disturbing anyone else. "Where are your parents, by the way?" I knew Cece and Bullfrog were pretty permissive, though Eli had told me they were much stricter now than they'd ever been before – which was hard for me to understand because they weren't even on the same planet as my parents when it came to rules.

"They decided the party would be more fun if they skipped town for the night," he explained. "Cece did leave a present for you though. I'll give it to you later."

My cheeks grew hot as I thought about what I had planned for us later that night and how his parents' absence could not have come at a better time. I was glad that they trusted Eli enough to let him through a party for me. I had been worried that his parents wouldn't accept me but after the first family dinner that I was invited to, it was clear that Eli was right – they were worried about him, not me.

Unfortunately, my mother had a similar reaction. It had taken a lot more than one family dinner to get her to trust Eli, and I was pretty sure I had Glen to thank for the fact that she had finally come around. She had even mentioned the possibility of bringing Eli up to the cabin with us this summer – provided that he slept in Jake's room, of course.

Eli took a step back from me and grabbed a Coke. "Not drinking?" I asked.

He shrugged. "I had one before. I'm not supposed to drink on my meds, so I'm not going to push it."

He sounded so mature and matter of fact about it that I couldn't help but give him a kiss. He tasted and smelled a little different than usual. "What did you drink?"

"Coke and whiskey," he said, smiling as he realized why I had asked him the question. "Do you like it?"

"I do," I whispered, leaning in to kiss him again.

A loud blaring pop song burst out of the stereo and we looked up to see that Alli had changed the music and cranked up the volume to interrupt our kiss. "Oh hell no," Eli said, charging across the room. "There will be no 'Call Me Maybe' in my house."

I sipped my wine and watched my friends dance after Eli selected a ballad on his Ipod. K.C. and Jenna were wrapped up in an embrace, and I wondered if just maybe the two of them had found a way to get back together despite everything they'd gone through.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. "I hate to kick the birthday girl out of her own party, but Alli and Jenna's curfew is rapidly approaching," Jake said.

I felt a thud in my chest as I realized that this party had not been part of my original plan. After our dinner, Eli was supposed to drop off Adam and then Alli, and then I was going to ask him to take me home with him. But now that Jake was here, using a sleepover at Alli's as a cover was not going to be a simple task.

"Oh, I can't leave yet," I said. "You go ahead. I'll have someone drop me off at Alli's once the party is over. Adam or Drew can take me."

Jake looked at me incredulously. "I don't know if you've noticed, but Adam and Drew are both shitfaced – and I'm pretty sure they walked over here so they wouldn't have to worry about driving home." A quick glance at the dance floor – Adam was slow dancing with Maya, his hands moving dangerously closer to her butt every moment – and the chair – where Drew's hands were clearly in places I did not want think about – confirmed his words.

"There's always the bus," I said, before backtracking at his alarmed look. "Or a cab. A cab's way safer at night. I've got money upstairs," I added weakly.

Jake stared at me. "You're going to spend the night here," he said, not even asking the question.

"No, I'm…Okay…you caught me. I'm going to spend the night here," I said slowly, hoping that Jake wouldn't make a scene. "I want to help Eli clean up and stuff. It'll just be easier."

"Clean up, my ass." He had the big brotherly protective face on but his kept his voice low. "Are you sure that you're ready for this?"

"Just because I'm spending the night here doesn't mean I'm…" I began, but I cut off at the look of disbelief on his face. "I'm ready," I told him honestly. "This isn't like…last time," I said awkwardly. We'd come so far since we'd dated that it almost made me sick to think I'd almost lost my virginity to him. "Eli and I…we're on the same page about this."

"Does he know?" Jake asked sharply, glaring across the room at my boyfriend, who was fortunately occupied with saying goodbye to Wesley, Connor and Hannah.

I shook my head. "I wanted to surprise him." Jake rolled his eyes. "Can you stop the protective brother routine and just be happy for me? I love him, Jake. You know that. And he's good for me. He makes me happy."

Jake's expression softened and I knew I had won the argument. Eli started to head back toward us and Jake leaned down to whisper in my ear. "Be safe," he warned.

"Don't tell my mom," I whispered back, and Jake nodded. I knew if anything went wrong tonight, Jake would cover for me.

"Eli," Jake said loudly, shaking his hand and going in for one of those one armed guy hugs. "Thanks for throwing this party for my little sister. I know it really made her happy," he said, looking directly at me as I glared at him for his condescending remark.

"Thanks bro," Eli said. "You heading out?" He gave me a disappointed look.

"Yeah, I promised Jenna and Alli I'd be their designated driver. See you Monday," Jake said, walking away from us. "Oh and Eli…enjoy your birthday present," he called over his shoulder.

I shot Jake a death glare. "What the hell is he talking about? And isn't he your ride?" Eli asked in confusion. "I'd drive you home, but I had that drink before." He misunderstood my expression and rushed to explain, "I'm not drunk – it would be safe – but if I got pulled over for some reason, I'd get in big trouble since I'm not 19 yet."

"Eli," I said softly, trying to get him to stop talking. Once his attention was fully on me, I leaned it and whispered in his ear. "I want to spend the night with you."

He looked surprised. "Oh! Well, sure, that's fine. I think people are starting to head out anyway, but you could crash here if you don't want to miss it."

"Eli," I chuckled. I couldn't believe he had completely missed the point. "I want to…spend the night with you spend the night with you."

His jaw fell open in shock. "Oh," he said, almost in disbelief, before his face lit up. "Oh," he said more assuredly, a smile spreading across his face.

"Yeah," I confirmed, smiling back at him.

He looked like he had a million thoughts flashing across his face. "Do you think it would be rude to kick everyone out right now?"

"Yes," I said, laughing. "Let's just make the rounds and start saying goodnight and see how that goes."

He put his arm around me but pulled away after a moment to look at me. "Wait a second…when Jake told me to enjoy my birthday present…was this what he was referring to?"

I nodded in confirmation and Eli grimaced. "Sorry," I said. "Your surprise party ruined my alibi."


I shrugged. "At least he isn't trying to beat you up to defend my virtue."

"I should have known better than to date a girl with an older brother," Eli joked. "I'm going to have to watch out at school on Monday. He's probably going to jump me."

"No he won't. I'll just tell him how wonderful you are."

"In bed?" Eli teased.

"We'll have to see about that."

We managed to stop kissing long enough to say goodbye to everyone, and I even managed to pick up a few of the stray cups and plates lying around the room before Eli came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Can we go up to my bedroom now? I don't really want to make love to you for the first time on the couch."

"I never thought you'd be Mr. Traditional," I teased, trying to cover up my nerves. It was one thing to couch the conversation in euphemisms and another when he directly said the words. But as nervous as I was, I had to admit that hearing him say "make love" sent tingles down my spine.

He looked at me tenderly. "I just want everything to be perfect for you."

"Don't," I said softly, continuing despite the look of hurt on his face. "That's too much pressure. It doesn't have to be the perfect first time." I thought about how I had tried that once before, and how epically I had failed. "It just needs to be you and me."

I interlocked our fingers and he smiled before tugging on my hand. I managed to snag my purse from the dining room on the way up to his room.

It was still a mess by any reasonable standards, but it obvious that Eli had come a long way since the first time he'd shown me his room. With my help and Cece's, Eli had started to throw out certain things that were clearly unnecessary, and moved many of the items he couldn't bear to part with into a stack of large Rubbermaid tubs.

"Sorry," he said, as he tried to untangle the sheets on his unmade bed. "I wasn't really expecting this." I noticed that his hands were shaking and I moved over to still his actions and took his hand in mine.

"Hey," I said softly. "If you aren't ready to do this…"

"I'm ready," he confirmed instantly and I couldn't help but laugh at how rapidly he was able to switch his mood to eagerness. "I'm just a little nervous."

"Shouldn't I be the nervous one?" I put my hands on his shoulders, smoothing over his chest. He shrugged and I stood on my toes to give him a kiss. "It's just one last step," I reminded him. "We've done everything else so many times. It might be my first time having sex with you but I already know what it's like to kiss you and hold you and feel your skin against mine. I know how it feels when your fingers are inside me," I continued with a bravery I didn't know I had. "I know that so many times I've wanted to beg you to stop holding back and make love to me like I've been dreaming about. This isn't the first time I've wanted you, Eli…and it won't be the last."

His eyes closed at my speech and I moved my hand to the collar of his shirt, slipping a button through the hole in hopes of undressing him. But he stilled my hands and I looked at him wide-eyed, wondering if there was something I was missing.

"Just one thing," he began. "And then I promise you I will stop holding back."

He bent down and opened up the drawer in his nightstand, digging around for something.

"I've got condoms," I offered, and he laughed.

"Jeez, you're anxious."

He pulled out a small unwrapped box. "Do we really have to open birthday presents now?" I asked. As much I was telling Eli this wasn't that big of a deal, it was, and I really wanted to stop talking and start…well…doing.

"It's not a birthday present," he explained. "I've got one of those downstairs. You can open that in the morning."

I looked at him curiously as I opened up the box. I found a claddagh ring, identical to the one I had on my left finger. When I removed it from the box, I saw the difference. Instead of the "Pure Hearts Wait" that my current ring had inscribed, this ring said, "Forever and Always."

"I thought you could wear this instead," Eli said. "That way your mother won't know, and no one at school will say anything. It took me a while to find an exact match but I think this is really close." He leaned in and kissed my neck. "I'm not embarrassed or ashamed to sleep with you, Clare. I would shout it from the rooftops if I could. But this means it can be something just for us."

The gesture was beautiful and his words meant more to me than he could ever know. I slipped the old ring off my finger and replaced it with the new one. But I placed the old ring into the box and held it in my hand. I knew that my decision to have sex with Eli was the right one for me, but I took a moment to reflect on the girl I used to be, who wore that ring proudly.

"Thank you," I said softly. "I'm going to wear this for a very long time." The romantic in me thought that if I were really lucky, that someday Eli might replace this very ring with an engagement ring. I shook the box a little in my open palm. "I'm going to hang on to this one though." Eli nodded – and I knew that he of all people would understand the weight an object can hold in memories.

I placed it on his nightstand and gave him a soft smile before leaning in for a gentle kiss. His hand cradled my face as he returned the kiss carefully.

In the last few months, Eli and I had experienced a lot together physically. From tentative "getting to know you" kisses to bruising passionate makeouts where he pressed me against a wall. He'd left marks over my skin, from my neck to my collarbone to my inner thigh. We'd given each other slow and sexy kisses, pressing our naked chests against each other for hours, not rushing to get to the end, but we'd also had nights of passion where we'd barely closed to the door to his bedroom before we were fumbling with hooks and buttons and elastic bands, each of us competing to see who could bring the other to the brink of ecstasy the quickest.

This was like all of that, but at the same time, like something completely new, something uniquely us. Our kisses were slow, sensual, erotic, but our hands just couldn't stop moving – grazing, stroking, grasping. I was on top, enjoying the amount of control I possessed, until he flipped us over, pushing his hips into mine as my head fell back against his pillow. We knew we had all night; there wasn't any rush, so we were content to enjoy each step, pushing forward only when frustration and desire told us it was time.

Eli was the first to get me undressed – as he always was – slipping my dress over my head and tugging on the strap of my bra. "Black, eh?" he teased appreciatively. I hadn't gone overboard this time – no special lunchtime lingerie purchase – but I'd tried to pick out undergarments that were flattering and matching for the occasion.

"I know it's your favourite." He proved it by planting a row of kisses down the line of the bra, starting at my shoulder and working deep into my cleavage. I took advantage of the fact that he wasn't pressed against me as tightly as he was before to unbutton his shirt and rid him of the garment. His guitar pick necklace was cold as it dangled against my breast. His mouth pressed into my neck, his fingers making quick work of my bra as my body arced off the bed

It wasn't long before his fingers hooked into the elastic of my underwear and slid them down my legs. They made an almost irritatingly slow journey back up, as Eli skimmed my ankles and calves sensually before he reached my inner thighs. He swallowed my moan with a kiss as his reached his target, two fingers easily slipping inside and his thumb pressing against my clit.

I could tell he wanted to keep touching me until I shrieked his name and shuddered under him but that wasn't what I wanted tonight. I pushed his hand away. "I'm ready," I announced, surprising even myself with the authority I commanded.

"But I want to make you come," Eli whined, trailing his wet fingers over my stomach and back toward his goal.

"I don't care about that tonight. I just want to be with you." He gave me a pouty lip and I leaned up to kiss it. "You can make me come tomorrow," I said blushing. It was much easier for me to do these things than it was for me to talk about them.

"Promise?" he asked.

"I promise."

He grinned. "Maybe I can make it happen tonight anyway." He wiggled his eyebrows at me.

"Maybe," I smiled, though I was skeptical that would be possible. Alli and I had talked a lot about this, and she'd said she thought it would be impossible the first time around and based on the stories Jenna had told her, it didn't seem all that easy later on either. But I knew Eli loved me and would be really committed to making sure I enjoyed myself. I wasn't expecting it to happen this first time, but I was sure in the future, he'd do everything in his power to take me along with him.

I pushed on his shoulders so I could sit up and surprised him by pushing him onto his back and climbing on top of him. "You, my love, are overdressed." I straddled his thighs, undoing his pants with well-practiced hands. I tugged them down his legs, taking his boxers with them, as I was really starting to get anxious about getting this going.

Instead of climbing back on top of him, I lay down next to him, facing the ceiling. I could feel his eyes on me. "Are you okay?" he asked. "We don't have to do this, you know."

"I want to," I said plainly, linking our hands together. "I just…can you…?..." I let out a deep breath. "I've never done this part before."

He seemed to understand what I was getting at. "Would you like me to put a condom on now?"

I nodded, knowing my voice would be unsteady. The nerves I had managed to suppress earlier had taken hold of me. I tried to put on a brave face because I knew Eli would never sleep with me if he had even the slightest doubt that this was what I wanted. It didn't really make me feel any more confident when he turned back toward me, his familiar penis looking very different than I was used to, wrapped in latex.

"Clare," he began again and I knew he was going to try to suggest we could wait once more – which was exactly what I didn't want.

"Eli…I want this more than anything," I reassured him. "I just need you to take the lead."

A smirk appeared on his face. It was a very familiar sight but one I wasn't quite expecting to see in this moment. "That I can do," he teased in a sexy voice. Then he leaned down and captured my lips. His kiss was deep and desperate and passionate and his hands started moving over me and – God – I couldn't believe he was making me feel this way. His confident movements were making me feel so comfortable and full of desire, and though he made no movement toward entering me, it was all I wanted him to do.

"Eli, now," I begged, spreading my legs as I thrust underneath him.

His movements slowed but he did as I asked, gently entering me, using his hand to help guide him. It definitely hurt – but less than I was expecting – and then pain was gone in just a second. It was still uncomfortable, for me at least. Eli's face was twisted in pleasure and though he was usually pretty quiet even in the heat of passion, he let out a loud moan.

"Clare," he groaned. He kept moving once he'd entered me completely but limited himself to gentle pulses, barely thrusting to give me a chance to get used to how it felt. He was holding himself up over me, and I placed a hand on the small of his back to pull him closer.

"Kiss me," I whispered. His tongue met mine before his lips did, and things got more intense. His fingers tugged on my nipple and I realized that things were feeling less uncomfortable than they had. I ripped my lips from his and whispered into his ear, "More."

Even though this was the first time we'd had sex, Eli just seemed to know exactly what I needed. His hips moved into mine, just a little bit harder and a little bit faster. It was enough that I was feeling the difference but not too much that I was feeling any pain.

"Is this good?" Eli asked, in a tone that made it clear I didn't have to ask him that question.

"Yeah…I love you." I ran my fingers through his hair before dragging them against the skin of his back.

"Fuck, I love you too." I giggled at his words. Even though I usually hated when he cursed, it seemed appropriate for this situation. "I'm not going…to last much longer," he sputtered out, his breath hitching. "Are you close?"

"Not really," I admitted. "But it's okay. I want to make you come too, you know."

He reached down to where we were joined and strummed against my clit, but he was too close and I wasn't close enough. A minute later he was gasping and thrusting harder than he had before. The uncomfortable feeling was back even though I knew Eli hadn't intended to hurt me, but it only lasted a few seconds before Eli pulled out. He flopped down on the pillow next to me, breathing heavily.

"Oh my God," he said. "That was…you're so…Fuck."

"Language, Eli," I reminded him, snuggling up next to him.

He put his arm around me and my hand wrapped around his stomach. "Happy Birthday to me," he joked.

I scowled. "Please don't bring up my stepbrother when we're both naked and post-coital."

"Post-Coital?" Eli raised an eyebrow. "There's an SAT word for you. No standardized test words while we're in bed please, Edwards."

"Oh yeah," I challenged, grinning at him. "Then what would you call it?"

The look he gave me was completely serious. "I call it love."