Beams of sunlight streamed through the open window, flooding the room with a golden warmth. I glanced up, my eyes watching the dust motes dancing in the still air, playing in the shafts of light; with a soft sigh, I felt my chest fill up with a calm happiness, making that moment feel infinite.

I glanced to my left, suddenly aware of the body lying next to me under the covers. Her body was tucked under the blankets, curled up into a loose ball; she was resting her head softly on a pillow, her arms hugging it tightly to her chest. Her eyelashes caressed her cheeks softly as she slept, and a soft breath escaped her full lips. The sun streaming through the window highlighted her hair, making it seem more golden than its usual tone. My eyes drifted from her face to her bare shoulders, taking in the pale, creamy skin. Unfortunately, the blankets were covering the rest of her naked body, halting me from eyeing the view I really looked forward to.

I just stared at her for a couple moments, a little surprised at how beautiful she could be even in sleep. Every single part of her screamed perfection—her soft, messy curls; the way her lips turned upwards as if she were smiling, even when she wasn't conscious. How could a girl like Clare ever be happy with a guy like me? She deserved so much better. She should end up with a gentleman, a handsome, perfect guy who could buy her things and make her smile every day—not some bipolar punk who had a meltdown and crashed his car in an attempt to make her stay with him. I wasn't the best option for her—she deserved so much more than me. The right thing to do would probably be to leave her, give her the option to find that perfect guy—but I was way too selfish for that. I wasn't what Clare deserved, but I was so incredibly selfish that I didn't care. I needed her.

Unable to control myself any longer, I leaned forward and pressed my lips softly against her cheek. I moved downwards, planting sweet kisses along her jawline, moving towards her neck. Everything about Clare was intoxicating—the soft feel of her skin, the flowery smell of her hair—and I couldn't get enough of it.

Her eyelashes batted slightly, and she awoke with a small groan. Her lips instantly twisted into a sweet smile, her blue eyes as clear as the ocean. "Good morning," She whispered happily. Her hands pulled up the blanket some more, hiding her beautiful body even further.

I kissed her nose. "You're beautiful."

Clare made a face, shaking her head slightly; she tilted away from me, trying to hide the fact that her cheeks were heating up, turning a little red. For some reason, she never seemed to take me seriously when I complimented her, and I'd made it my life goal to make her understand how perfect she was. Her nose wrinkled slightly, as if she found my compliment a tad distasteful, and changed the subject. "How was your sleep?"

"Good," I said casually, although I'd truthfully never slept better. Sleeping in the same bed as Clare and waking up to her every morning like this was something I looked forward to. "How about you?"

"Fine," She replied softly. She turned over so that she was looking up at the ceiling, and I saw her features twist; her cheeks burnt a bright red, and her lip curled shyly.

My eyebrows pulled down, and I smirked. "What?" I asked, intrigued as to why she was suddenly embarrassed.

She locked her eyes with me, giving me a shy smile. "Last night was fun."

My smirk grew. "Definitely."

Ever since I'd found out about Asher sexually harassing Clare, I'd sneak over and spend most nights in her bed. We never did anything—I'd just hold her, cuddle her, make her feel safe—but just being there to hold her when she woke up with nightmares seemed to ease her. That went on for weeks; even after Asher was given several sexual harassment charges and Clare's guilt vanished, I continued to come over just to spend the night with her. We never did anything but sleep—until last night.

I'd always known it was against Clare's beliefs to have sex before marriage. I'd been aware of that even before the whole hearse-crashing incident. I'd been expecting to have a pretty quiet sex life until we settled down—and trust me, I whole-heartedly intended to marry Clare—but she'd surprised me. After our usual fooling around and snuggling, she'd gotten a bit more hot and heavy than she was normally comfortable with. I'd questioned her, and she informed that she was ready. At first, I was a little hesitant—I mean, it's not everyday you have the option to destroy someone's beliefs—but then things took their course. And it was great. Better than great. It was absolutely fucking perfect.

Clare sighed, smiling to herself, and glanced over at her clock. For a second, she was still in her calm state, in a trance of happiness—but then, she gasped. She bolted into an upright position, her eyes widening. "Oh my god!" She whisper-screamed, turning to look down at me.

I frowned. "What?" I asked.

She dove at me, covering my mouth with her hand. She threw herself on top of me, her legs straddling my waist—although, there was nothing sexual about it. Her hands continued to cover my mouth, her face so close to mine I could practically taste her lips. The blanket slipped off of her body slightly, but she quickly caught it, pulling it back up to cover her. "Eli! The alarm didn't go off!" She hissed under her breath, trying to keep quiet but still showing her terror. "We slept through it!"

My eyes widened, and I put my hands on her waist. "Shit!" I hissed, although the sound came out muffled because of her hands. "Is anyone awake? Can I still sneak out?"

Ever since I'd begun sleeping over, we had a very laid out plan; Clare had her clock set so that an alarm would wake us at five, before her mom and step-dad woke up. We would get up, get dressed, and I would be out the door before anyone had the chance to realize that Clare and I were having unsupervised sleepovers. This time, however, we'd missed it.

"Shhh," Clare murmured, sitting up slightly. She held her breath, and listened closely for any movement outside of her bedroom; downstairs, there was some cluttering, the sound of cupboard doors closing. She turned back to me. "Everyone's awake!"

Normally, my mind would instantly create a scheme to save our asses—but today, my mind was blank. My head was far too clouded with thoughts of Clare to come up with a slick idea to keep us out of trouble. I fell silent.

Her eyes widened, and her face was yet again incredibly close to mine. Her brow furrowed, and she glared at me. "What, you can't think of any plans? C'mon, Eli! You're supposed to be the schemer in this relationship!"

I chuckled and shrugged. "Sorry."

She frowned even further, and I couldn't help but realize how adorable it was. "I could go down there, distract them, and then…No, that wouldn't work. There's nowhere for you to hide!"

With a roll of my eyes, I gripped her hips a bit tighter and flipped her over, changing positions so that I was now laying over top of her. Her hands fell off of my mouth, and she gasped in shock. "Relax, Clare. I'll think of something. I think."

She giggled softly in response, and wrapped her arms around my neck. Pulling herself up slightly, she pressed her lips to mine for a long, drawn out kiss. When she pulled away from that, she continued in running her hands down my bare chest, making my skin tingle.

I groaned, my face scrunching up. "I'm not gonna think of anything when you're doing that, Edwards."

Clare grinned in response, as if she were teasing me. "I didn't think I'd have that much of an effect on you, Goldsworthy!" She whispered back.

I raised my eyebrows. "Do you want to get caught, or not?"

"Not particularly."

"As much as I would love for you to keep doing this," I gestured to her hands touching my chest, "It's distracting me from the task at hand."

She gave me a wry smile. "So you want me to stop touching you like this?" She drew out the words, saying them slowly, her tone giving me chills.

I groaned as she wrapped her hands around my neck, pressing her lips to my neck. I closed my eyes, trying to get a grip. "Ugh," I muttered. How the hell did she expect me to think up some master plan when she was so…distracting?! "Yes, stop, stop!" I hissed under my breath. "We can't get distracted."

Clare laughed quietly. "Wow—you've got willpower, Goldsworthy." She flashed me a brilliant smile, obviously pleased that she had so much control over me.

"You're killing me, Clare," I murmured, lowering myself so that our bodies were touching. I leaned in, my lips incredibly close to touching hers; I could feel her breath fanning on my face.

Her piercing blue eyes looked up at me, screaming purity and honesty and perfection. "I love you," She whispered, her voice breaking slightly. Her hands wrapped around my sides, holding my close to her.

My heart fluttered; it took all I had to not slam my lips against hers and relive what we did last night. "I love you, too."

Clare gave me a soft, passionate kiss, but we were quickly interrupted.

"Clare! Breakfast is ready!" Her mom's voice called from the stairs, breaking us out of our moment. "Pancakes!"

Clare pulled away, her eyes wide. She cleared her throat. "Um…be right down!" She cried, and then gave me a fierce look. "Alright, Eli—scheme!" She whispered harshly.

I rolled my eyes and gave her a quick, chaste kiss. I flipped onto the bed beside her, releasing her from my hold, and glanced around. "I could always jump out the window."

She gave me a worried face. "You're kidding, right? You'll break your legs!"

"Maybe not," I muttered, standing and walking over to the large window. There was a flat part of the roof directly in front of the window, large enough for me to walk on it—I could just hop off of there, and cushion my blow on the front lawn. "The only trouble is getting your families attention from the kitchen window. If I jump, they'll see me."

Clare raised an eyebrow. "If you think you can manage the jump, I can handle getting their eyes away from the window."

"You're sure?"

She gave me a fierce smirk. "I can handle it. Now, toss me my shirt."

I grabbed her shirt off of the floor, but held it tightly in my hands. "I dunno, Clare, you look pretty good without the shirt…"

She grinned, and bit her lip. "Well, you look good without those boxers on," She said, nodding at my batman boxers.

I smirked. "Is this the same Clare Edwards that couldn't say 'penis' without giggling a year ago?"

Clare shrugged. "What can I say? I'm a wild child now."

"Clearly," I laughed, tossing her the shirt. I glanced around the room. "Where's your bra?"

"By the door," She responded quietly. "My pants are over there, too."

I grabbed both pieces of clothing and chucked them over to her. Not wanting to go too far past her comfort zone, I glanced around for my own pants and shirt as she got dressed. By the time I found them and dressed myself, Clare was giving me soft kisses on the cheek, reminding me to be careful when I jumped.

"Don't worry," I responded, my arms wrapping around her waist. "I'll be fine. Just make sure they aren't watching the window, alright?"


I popped open her window and leaned towards it, about to hop out on the roof, but I paused. I glanced down at Clare, biting the inside of my cheek. Even here, in this short moment, her beauty brought me up short. I wanted to say something, but I didn't think there were any words to describe what I was feeling—it was more than love, more than being head over heels for her. "Clare?"

She'd already started walking towards the door. "Hmm?" She said turning to me, her eyebrows lifting.

I stumbled over myself, unable to think clearly when my head was clouded with her. "You're…it." I muttered stupidly, flinching when I realized how idiotic I must seem to her. "I mean…I love you."

Her face erupted in happiness. "I love you, too, Eli." She laughed slightly.

I gave her one last look, and then hopped out of the window, my jacket in hand. I stepped out on the roof, blinking when the sun shone in my eyes. I steadied myself, and then walked to the edge of the roof; I glanced down, trying to see what I would land on. If I hopped off, I would land directly in front of the large kitchen window—the breakfast table faced this window perfectly, so if Clare's family was looking, they would see me. I knelt down, and then hung myself from the edge of the roof; I prepared myself to drop, hoping Clare was successfully distracting them.

With a grimace, I let myself drop, silently hoping that my ankles wouldn't shatter on impact. Luckily, when I hit the ground I was physically safe and sound—but I wasn't so sure if I was in the clear yet. I glanced up, looking directly into the kitchen window, surprised to see that nobody was looking at me.

Everyone was turned away from the window, watching Clare, who was doing a weird sort of jig; her hair was bouncing and she had this strange grin on her face as she flailed around, dancing like she'd lost control of her body. Her eyes flickered up to me, and she burst into a wide grin, and then looked back at her family—who, I was sure were giving her strange looks. I was in the clear, just about to grab my jacket and leave, when Jake spun around, his eyes landing on me.

For a second, we just stared at each other. His eyes were wide. My eyes were wide. Our plan had failed. I'd been caught. Surely, he would understand why I was standing outside of his kitchen window—underneath Clare's bedroom window—and would tell his parents. Oh, shit. We were so dead.

Instead of opening his mouth to speak, though, Jake just gave me a nod. His face lightened slightly, and he gave me a silent thumbs up and a grin. With a sigh of relief, I gave him a nod in response, thanking him for not spilling the beans, and grabbed my jacket from the ground.

I took one last glance at Clare before I ran off; I gave her a smirk, and she blew me a kiss. I jogged lightly from the yard, turning the corner and out of sight. My heart pounded heavily, although it was more from Clare rather than physical exertion.

And in that moment, I realized one important thing.

There was no way I could ever live without Clare.