Author's note: So, my lovlies, this is the final chapter. I feel like this is a good place to end this, but I promise some more one shots. Maybe even some sexy ones. Look out for those.
Thank you for all the follows, favorites, and, especially, reviews. I appreciate it and I hope this has met your expectations.
"I thought you said you'd be here by 5." Adrian's text read.
"Running late. Ten minutes." I replied.
I shook my head and looked in the mirror one more time. I had dressed in a blue blouse Adrian had said once he liked on me. I smoothed my hand over a wrinkle and then headed for the door, pulling my purse strap over my shoulder.
Thankfully Jill had roped Angeline and Eddie into a long study session. She and Angeline had an exam and Eddie said he was very good at the subject. I claimed needing to study for all my other stuff and that I just wanted to be alone. I said I'd probably go to the coffee shop to explain my absence from campus.
I hated lying, but it was essential if I wanted to spend time alone with Adrian. I had my books with me, but of course I wouldn't be opening them. I knew the material like the back of my hand. I would pass easily.
I pulled in behind Adrian's mustang and hurried to the door. He answered and pulled me in hastily. I smiled and turned him, pressing him against the door.
He chuckled as I pushed myself up on my toes and kissed him. He wrapped his arms around me and held me close as we kissed lazily.
"I was starting to worry." He said against my lips.
I kissed him and then stepped back. "I got held up by Terwilliger. I'm sorry." I breathed in. "What smells so good?"
"Coq au vin. I wanted to be fancy. Should be done in about an hour." He kissed me and then walked into the kitchen. "But in the meantime, I have bruschetta." He brought over a pan of bread topped with the tomato salad. "Please just eat one, Syd. At least. I chopped tomatoes for hours."
"You wouldn't have chopped them for hours." I said, reaching forward and taking one. I took a bite as he took one of his own. "This is good."
"Thanks." He sat the pan down and took my hand. "Let's have a seat." He led me into the living room where two glasses and a bottle sat on the coffee table.
"Adrian, I don't drink."
"It's sparkling grape juice." He poured out two glasses and handed one to me.
I took it as I sat down. "Thank you. This is nice." I took a sip and sat back. I finished off my bruschetta. "Is this low calorie?" I asked, looking at the glass of juice.
He leaned toward me. "Will you make me a promise tonight?"
"Tonight, don't worry about the calories and the fat and the sugar. Just eat your fill and don't feel guilty about it in the morning."
I looked around me before I was able to look at him. "You know how hard it is for me."
"I do. It's like you punish yourself. Sydney, you're not like us. No matter what you do, you can't be us. And that's perfectly fine. You look ill. It worries me. I'm falling in love with you and I'd like…" He took the glass from my hand and put it and his on the coffee table. He took my hands. "I'm not telling you to stop watching what you eat. If you want to be thin, be thin. But there's a difference between thin and anorexic."
I rubbed my thumbs over the backs of his hands. I could feel tears filling my eyes. I wrapped my arms around him and pressed my eyes into his shoulder. "I can't."
"Can't want?" I could hear the strain in his voice.
"It's so hard, Adrian. I want to be perfect."
"For who? For your father or for yourself?" He pushed me away slightly and cupped my cheek. "If you can't do any of it for yourself, it's pointless."
I wiped at the moisture on my cheeks.
"I stopped drinking because I knew it was hurting Jill and upsetting you. And I knew that it was time. I did it because you make me want to be better. I'm asking you to do this because I care about you. But if you don't want to do it for yourself… I mean, don't try and fail because it's what I want."
"I'll try tonight. Take it one day at a time."
He leaned forward and kissed me softly. "That's all I ask."
I pushed him back on the couch and rested my head on his chest. His arms came around me, holding me, making me feel secure. I put my arms under his shoulders. We lay there silently. His hands smoothed over my back.
"I like this." I said after a while.
"I do too." He kissed the top of my head. "I could be like this every night for the rest of my life."
"I could too." I closed my eyes and listened to his heartbeat and breathing in my ear. I was completely relaxed for the first time in a long time. I was almost asleep when an alarm went off in the kitchen.
We both groaned as Adrian moved out from under me. I sat up and smoothed my hair down. I watched Adrian for a while as he took a pot from the oven and then went to work putting the last of the meal together.
I walked in carrying both our drinks. "Can I help with something?"
"There's a lighter in my pocket. Will you light the candles?"
"You expect me to reach into your pocket?"
He thrust his hip out and shook it. "Come on. I know you're not going to do anything else. You're not that kind of girl."
"I could be." I walked up behind him and rested my hand on his hip. "I'm just reaching in for the lighter." I slipped my hand into his pocket and grabbed the lighter, taking it out quickly. "Okay. Done." I turned and walked over to the table.
I heard Adrian clear his throat and then take several deep breaths. I looked over my shoulder. He busied himself stirring something and then he took the pot off the burner and excused himself for a moment.
I lit the candles and walked over to the stove and stirred the pot. I was already thinking of all the sacrifices I'd be making in meals for the next few days as I looked into the thick sauce. Then I shook my head. I had never vocalized my promise, but I had decided not to worry about what I consumed tonight.
Adrian came back a few seconds later, a reassuring smile on his lips. "Sorry about that."
I shrugged. "No problem."
"I wanted to go out for a cigarette, but you have my lighter." He placed his hands on the side of my face. "And a good thing too, because if I had smoked, I wouldn't be able to do this." He pressed his mouth to mine, leaving it there for several seconds. He pulled back and smiled. "Have a seat."
I sat down—he pulled out the chair for me—and waited to see what he had planned. He brought the pot over and filled both our plates. And then he rushed over and shut off the lights. He came back in with the bottle of juice and sat down. He filled both our glasses.
"So, let's see how this turned out." He took a bite.
It was delicious. I had never eaten something so rich without any care as to what I'd have to sacrifice later. Tonight was for enjoyment. We talked softly, mostly just catching up. We talked a little about our childhoods.
"I never felt like I mattered. I was just something to throw money at." Adrian said after a while. "I know my mom loves me, but dad… he's different."
"Maybe we got the same rotten luck when it comes to parents." I commented.
"Maybe. But I plan on being a better father. I owe it to my kids and to myself."
I put my hand on top of his. "I think you'll be amazing."
"Thank you." He turned his hand over and curled his fingers around mine.
"I… I can picture a family with you."
He smiled and brought my hand to his lips. "What would your answer be if I asked you to marry me?"
"It would be no. For now at least."
"If I ask you again when this is all over?"
"I don't know. I can't see into the future. This could get messy. I don't want to make a promise I can't keep."
"Okay." He kissed my cheek. "I have something special planned for desert."
"I don't think I could eat another bite."
"You'll want this." He tapped my nose with his finger before he got up. He cleared the plates and then came back to the table with two bowls and spoons and then sat a carton in front of me. "Gelato." He announced.
I smiled. "Are you going to expect that at our wedding?"
He smirked. "It's fewer calories than any other desert I could have made or bought." He scooped some out into each of our bowls and sat down again. "Dig in."
I ate a few small bites. I was full, but I didn't want to be rude.
"So do you think you would marry me?" he asked after a long silence.
I stirred the frozen treat around in my bowl for a while and then took another bite. Finally, I said, "I think so."
"So can I get a rain check?" He asked softly.
"We'll just have to see."
After desert, we blew out the candles and then walked into the living room and stretched out on the couch the same way as before supper. This time I did doze off for a while. I didn't realize it until he whispered my name.
"You have to get back before curfew."
I kissed his neck and then sat up. I stretched. "Thank you for supper. It was great. Do you want help with the dishes?"
"No, I got them. You go on back before you get in trouble." He took my hand and threaded his fingers through mine. "I love you."
I smiled and kissed him. "You won't hear it from me for a while."
"I know. And that's fine. There's no rush in any of this, Sydney. None at all. I told you I'd wait for you. It that takes a year or ten, then I'm fine with that. Just know that I do love you. Very much."
I nodded and kissed him again. "You're sure about the dishes?"
He walked me out to my car and kissed me again before I got inside. I rolled down my window and he leaned in to kiss me again.
"We could just go back inside." I teased.
He kissed me once more. "Yeah, but then you'd get in trouble and be confined to your dorm and I wouldn't get to see you."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Adrian."
"I can't wait."
He finally stepped away and I drove away. I watched him light a cigarette in my rearview mirror.