DISCLAIMER: I don't own Degrassi or anything else.
This is a two-shot and I wrote it for my wonderful friend LiteraryLolita's birthday (though I didn't even get the first half up before then. Oops!)
This fic is actually pretty significant for two reasons.
1. This is my 50th Degrassi fic. That's pretty crazy. I know that number is so large due to the fact that I started out writing oneshots, but I'm pretty proud of the fact that I've been consisting writing fanfiction for more than two and a half years.
2. This is the first fic I have ever written in third person, present tense. It actually turned out better than I expected though I know it's not the greatest thing I've ever written. But I'm kind of glad I tried it. I may try some third person fics in the future though I am definitely going back to past tense. I like to have my characters think about the past WAY too often to make present tense work consistently.
Since this is somewhat of an experimental fic, please go easy on me. There's nothing more disheartening than getting a bunch of flames because you tried something new or because people don't like when you write stories in the middle of the long fic that they prefer.
Thanks for all your support and Happy Birthday Cortney!
Clare hopes that no one notices her bruised lips and flushed cheeks when she and Eli arrive at Fiona's party, nearly two hours after the Battle of Bands ended and one past fashionably late. She has a new curfew now and access to the truck, and even though she spent most of the last two hours trying unsuccessfully to get up the courage to invite Eli to lay down in the back of it with her, she feels like she's accomplished something tonight.
She tries to convince Eli to dance with her though she knows she'll never look as good as Bianca, who is currently putting on quite a show. But Eli is preoccupied with complaining that Adam and Becky Baker are now a 'thing' which means Eli will have to spend more time with that "narrow-minded Suzy Sunshine control freak." Clare reminds him that he may be more tolerant and wear black clothing but he's every bit as controlling as Ms. Sunshine herself. Eli whines and Clare makes amends by standing on her tiptoes and sucking that pouty bottom lip between her own.
Drew's catcalls and Adam's vomiting noises are the only things that can tear her away.
"One dance?" she asks.
The music is slow and sappy, and the other couples are paired off: Drew and Bianca, Adam and Becky, Fiona and Imogen. Eli rolls his eyes, but accepts her hand and pulls her to him.
"This is the first time we've ever danced," Clare says. Eli's not a clumsy dancer but his insistence on holding Clare as close as physically possible tangles their feet as they sway to the soft beat.
"Not true," Eli corrects.
"In public," she says pointedly.
"It's better in your bedroom," he smirks. "Much like some other things."
Clare blushes and lightly socks his arm. "You mean you didn't enjoy yourself in the front seat of the truck just a little while ago?" she teases, though she lowers her voice and leans into Eli's ear so no one will overhear. She can't help but grin at the memory of their long, lingering kisses and Eli's gentle hands caressing up and down her sides through the fabric of her shirt.
"Of course I did," he says without lowering his voice. "But I like it better when we're lying down and you're on top of me."
"Jesus Christ," Adam says as he and Becky spin past them. "Can't you stop it with the dirty talk when you're in my presence?"
"Adam!" Becky admonishes. "You shouldn't take the Lord's name in vain." She blushes. "Or talk about Eli's sinful words."
"Sorry Becky," Eli says dramatically. "I will keep my sinful words…" He gave Clare a devilish look. "And my very sinful hands to myself."
Becky shoots him a disapproving look and Adam pulls her away, dancing her across the floor at a tempo too fast for the slow ballad.
"You have to learn to get along with her," Clare reminds Eli again. "For Adam's sake."
He stares off at his best friend, who is placating his new girlfriend with a quick peck on the lips. "At least I got the non-judgmental Christian girl." He leans down for a kiss of his own, a decidedly longer and deeper kiss than Adam and Becky had shared. "The sexier one as well."
Clare misses his lips as soon as they leave hers. "We still have an hour until my curfew," she says, enjoying Eli's raised eyebrows and pleased expression. "Did you want to try out the back of the truck?"
"Goodnight Fiona!" Eli calls as he heads toward the door, dragging Clare behind him. "Bye Adam, Drew, Imogen, Bianca! Everyone else!"
Eli is a little grumpy when Clare wakes him up at 10 a.m. and tells him to get out of bed and that she'll be there in 30 minutes. It's all he can do to hop in the shower and pull some clothes on before she arrives. He's slightly mollified when she hands him a thermos full of coffee, prepared with exactly the right amount of sugar.
Eli's not sure he'll ever get used to Clare driving him around in Jake's red pickup truck. It was kind of hot at first, watching her face light up as she puts the car in gear and gently taps the accelerator. But it's making him miss Morty, and having a driver's license, and the freedom that provides.
It doesn't help that Clare's not the greatest driver either, and her inexperience shows as she narrowly avoids a semi-truck as she merges onto Rt. 400, before admitting that this is her first experience on the freeway as she's just gotten her G2 license. But soon she settles into a rhythm and Eli's grip on the door handle relaxes.
She won't tell him where they are headed, but it's spring break and Eli feels ready for an adventure. He's surprised when the trip takes nearly two hours and he feels foolish when he begins to recognize the few buildings along the dark and twisting backroads after Clare exits the highway. She's taking him to the Martin family lakehouse, and Eli recalls the trip he made out here on his bike last summer.
And the horrible trip home where Clare flirted with Jake openly while Eli pretended his heart wasn't breaking all over again.
But things are different now and Eli can only appreciate how wonderful things are between him and Clare. How supportive she's been even though he knows that leaving her next year is going to be hard on both of them. He's glad they can spend this time together, away from their parents and even their friends.
When they arrive, Clare unpacks the cooler she had thoughtfully packed and bungeed down in the back of the truck and sets a blanket out on the dock so they can eat a picnic lunch together. They are quiet, much like most of their ride up, but it is a comfortable, companionable silence.
Clare opens a Tupperware container filled with strawberries and holds one out to him. He shakes his head and watches as she bites into the fruit, her innocent gesture filling him with unexpected lust. To break the silence, Eli says, "I wish you had told me we were coming here. I could have brought my bathing suit."
Clare giggles. "It's April! The water is freezing."
"Is it?" he teases. "How do you know? Maybe I should throw you in and you can tell me for sure."
He reaches out for her and Clare scrambles to her feet. "I have my phone," she warns. "And I don't relish the thought of explaining to my mother why I need another new phone this year."
Clare has told Eli the story of her time with the drug dealing cult but Eli still can barely believe it happened. But her words remind him that Clare's rebellious actions hadn't stopped once she'd left. "So where does Helen think you are today?"
"I told her we went to the lake," she says defiantly, but backs down right away. "Lake Ontario."
Eli grins. "Don't you think she's going to notice the mileage on the truck?"
Clare's eyes widen but she shrugs off the thought. "If anyone noticed it'd be Jake or Glen and I doubt either of them would care. Mom only drives the Civic. Besides, Jake is going to freaking Mexico, so I think spending a few hours at the lake with my boyfriend is pretty reasonable."
"A few unsupervised hours," Eli jokes. He glances at the thin dress she's wearing and is grateful for the sunny weather. "We could go skinny dipping," he suggests though he knows Clare will never go for it.
"Not even if it were 38 degrees right now," Clare says.
"Really? Not even then?" Eli asks skeptically.
She sighs. "Maybe in our underwear."
"Really," Eli says, his voice chirpy with this unexpected bit of good news. He pulls his t-shirt over his head and is surprised at Clare's outburst of laughter.
"Not now!" she shrieks playfully. "Only if it was blazing hot, which it definitely isn't."
"I could make you hot," Eli says gruffly. He's never this direct with her, always gentle and loving, but Clare's suggestion that they strip down is all he could think of. He unzips his jeans, waiting for her to protest, but she's watching him with a slackened jaw, putting on a façade of shock and horror that Eli knows is covering up feelings she doesn't know how to deal with.
He's in his boxers and she's staring at his chest and his legs and everything in between, and Eli takes advantage of her distraction and grabs the phone out of her pocket, tossing it onto the grass, away from the lake's lapping tide. "No phone," he taunts and Clare looks nervous. Eli wonders if he's pushing her too far but decides that if Clare wants this to stop she'll let him know. "Do you really want to drive home in a wet dress?"
It takes a few seconds but Clare bravely meets his gaze before pulling the dress over her head. She is wearing a plain blue cotton bra and underwear and she looks fucking brilliant and Eli is shocked when she pushes him off the dock and into the water. It's freezing and he's glad he's got boxers on because the water is doing cruel things to his junk, and he wonders if Clare is playing him when he hears a dainty splash next to him. She comes up sputtering and squeals at the cold and he wraps his arms around her, loving the feeling of her exposed wet skin.
The moment is short lived. Clare pushes him away and climbs the ladder to the dock, grabbing her dress in one hand and her phone in the other before Eli can even process what's happening. "First one to the house gets the shower!" she yells before taking off at full-speed.
"We can share," Eli yells back before pulling himself out of the frigid water and picking up his own clothes. He finds a linen closet once he gets back into the house and wraps himself in a large beach towel, shivering as the freezing droplets trickle from his hair to his shoulders. A hot shower sounds like heaven but there's only one bathroom and he knows Clare isn't ready for him to join her – no matter how much he wants to.
As his upper body dries he wraps the towel around his waist and pulls off his boxers, wringing them out in the kitchen sink. He hopes Clare gets out of the shower soon, and realizes that she most likely will have to drive them home wearing nothing underneath her dress. That thought makes him hard and the thought of slipping a hand up her skirt while she's driving makes him harder and he wishes not for the first time that Clare didn't have a purity pledge that she was insistent upon maintaining because all he wants to do is join her in that shower, push her against the wall and fuck her until she screams his name.
Clare opens the washroom door while he's thinking of this, and she's got the towel wrapped around her hair rather than her body and it's clear there's no bra underneath her dress. Eli rushes past her but not before he sees her eyes go wide at the sight of his cock, hard and unmistakable underneath the towel. He can't even enjoy the hot water because all he can think about is Clare as he jerks off, holding his breath to keep himself from moaning her name.
He can't wait for the day when she'll be the one to do this to him. Soon, he hopes.
Clare always spends Sundays with her family but this week it's more of a punishment than a choice. Last night, her mother was less than delighted when Clare had returned home from a lake not ten minutes away from their house over seven hours later, and when she took the truck to the grocery store since it blocked her Civic into the driveway, she realized that Clare had burned through nearly a full tank of gas in two days.
During breakfast before church, Clare is unable to lie at her mother's questioning and her mother is decidedly not pleased with her unchaperoned trip to the lakehouse with Eli, so at her mother's insistence, Clare spends her Sunday making sandwiches in the church kitchen and helping to distribute them to some of their shut-in parishioners. Although she had initially been reluctant, sitting down and talking to some of the elderly members of her church makes her realize that she has been distracted for the past two years and needs to increase the amount of volunteering she does. She knows it'll look good on her university applications – admission to Columbia is competitive – but she also misses doing something productive with her time that actually benefits someone besides herself.
Clare recalls that Degrassi has compulsory volunteer hours required for graduation, but the school doesn't provide much structure for completing them. Most students spend a few hours half-heartedly collecting pennies or canned goods to fulfill the minimum requirement. She wonders if there is a way for the student to collaborate school-wide on a large scale service project that would really make a difference in their community. During dinner with her mother and Glen – Jake has left for Mexico – Clare brainstorms possible volunteering ventures. Glen suggests that Clare run for Student Council so she'd have the power to implement her ideas, and Helen is so pleased at Clare's thoughtfulness that she allows her to go to the movies with Eli.
She is not allowed to take the truck.
Clare and Eli hold hands during the bus trip downtown and they don't let go until they are seated. Ever since Eli decided to apply for film school, he only wants to see arty, independent movies. Clare can appreciate a well-told story, but has grown tired of the amount of sex and nudity found in these films, as she worries that it will remind Eli of what he's missing out on. But tonight they manage to agree on a film – an indie dramedy with just enough darkness for Eli and just enough lightness for Clare.
When the lights go down, Eli links their fingers and stares straight at the screen. Clare smiles and does the same. While she loves kissing Eli, she's happy that he actually wants to watch the movies they see – at least the ones in the theatre.
As the film progresses, Clare can tell that Eli is loving it judging by the faint grin on his face that she can't help but glance at every few minutes. But halfway through the film there's a twist that hadn't been revealed in the trailer of the film and the main character's girlfriend dies unexpected.
The change in Eli is immediate. His breaths are deeper, his hands tense. He's blinking fast and Clare knows he's trying not to cry even though tears are streaking down her own face. She takes his hand in both of hers and strokes his fingers until he's able to relax them. The movie continues but Clare is back in reality.
She rests Eli's hand on her knee so she can reach down and grab a pack of Kleenex from her purse. But Eli shakes his head at the proffered tissue, and his fingers start to caress first her knee, then the beginning of her inner thigh. Clare is conflicted. They are in public, but his touch feels nice. They haven't done anything sexual below the waist yet, but Clare is astonishingly pleased that she didn't put her tights back on after her shower.
Eli's fingers creep up her leg, and she grabs his wrist to remove his hand from her skirt. "I'm sorry," he whispers.
"It's okay," she whispers back. "Just not here."
"Shhh!" a person behind them hissed and Eli settles for staring at Clare, gobsmacked by her response. She nudges her head toward the screen and they settle in for the finale as the protagonist decides to choose life over death.
When the film ends the theatre clears out, leaving Clare and Eli alone to watch the credits. "Are you okay?" Clare asks.
Eli nods. "Just wasn't expecting it. I'll have to read the reviews better next time." Clare stands and offers him her hand, but Eli remains seated. "Did you…?" He seems to be at a loss for words. "Did you mean what you said earlier? About not here?"
It takes Clare a second to realize what Eli is referring too and she's glad the theatre is still dark. "Yes," she says devilishly. "You can touch my knee anywhere else but this movie theatre."
Eli laughs grimly. "Should have known."
Clare grins and holds out her hand once more. "You can hold my hand everywhere."
Eli smiles in response and accepts, following her down the dark aisle toward the exit. "Okay, but you have to explain to Ms. Dawes why we had to move our desks together in English next week."
"And you'll have to explain to your NYU roommate whey you're also moving me in as well," Clare says. She's joking but a pang of sadness hits her when she remembers that won't be possible.
"If only," Eli says. He unlinks their hands, and Clare feels numb until his arms wrap around her. She buries her face in his neck and pretends that this hug makes up for the fact that she'll have to spend nearly eight months apart from him aside from breaks and scattered weekend visits.
She isn't ready to say goodbye and neither is he. They pause at the bus stop for just a moment. Then Eli walks her home.
Eli doesn't have any plans with Clare so he's surprised when she texts him at 7:30 and asks if he wants to go for a drive. When she picks him up she explains that her mother is out at choir practice and Glen said it was fine for her to take the truck. Eli has always felt a little weird around Clare's stepfather – he's a friendly enough guy but too outdoorsy for Eli – but he decides that from now on, Glen Martin is his new favourite person.
"We could go to the abandoned church," Clare suggests. "We haven't been there in a long time."
They hadn't, Eli recalls, and he'd used their lack of a car as an excuse to avoid returning as the remote area isn't well-serviced by bus or train. He knows that Clare has a different memory of what had once been a romantic hideaway for them. The last time Eli was there he had brought a shotgun and fired at a picture of his former love. He had never told Clare the truth about the depths of his depression preceding their breakup and he decides that there's no need to mention it now.
He's doing well, and he and Clare are happy, and the thought of Julia doesn't make him want to die anymore.
But when Clare pulls up to the abandoned church, it is clear that it's not only Eli and Clare who have changed. The entrance is gated now, and padlocked with a large chain. Eli climbs over the tall fence to see if it's even safe to enter their former sanctuary and it's clear that whoever discovered their secret place doesn't feel as fondly about it as they do. There are broken beer bottles everywhere and though Eli doesn't see any hypodermic needles, he wouldn't be surprised to find one. The sight of a condom wrapper followed quickly by the sight of the used condom is enough and he climbs back over the fence to give Clare the bad news that they'll have to find a new place to hide out from the world.
They find a clearing in the trees not too much further down the road and Clare drives onto the grass. It's darker here and Clare fishes a battery-operated lantern and a sleeping bag out of the large toolbox in the back of the truck. Eli wonders uncomfortably how she knew they'd be in there and hopes that it's not residual knowledge from when she dated Jake months ago. But as Clare unzips the sleeping bag and spreads it out in the bed of the truck for the two of them to lie down on together, Eli decides that it doesn't matter.
Eli pretends to look at the stars as he holds her hand but he wonders how long is appropriate to wait before kissing her. It's clear she has the same thought because before he can even turn toward her she wraps her arm around his chest and brings her lips to his. The kisses are slow and sensual and Eli caresses her cheek. Her hands slide underneath his shirt as she deepens the kiss and Eli wonders if she's going to take it off. It wouldn't be the first time but it reminds him of their trip to the lake and how she pulled her dress over her head and how he barely had a moment to enjoy it.
He lets his hands follow her lead, lightly touching her stomach and sides underneath her blouse. When she tugs on his shirt, asking him without words to remove it, he pulls it over his head. He can see her eyes light up in the lantern's soft glow and he feels like this is the best chance he'll have. "Can I?" he asks, tugging lightly at the hem of her blouse.
She bites her lip and shakes her head. Eli doesn't want to push her, but he also doesn't understand what has changed in the last two days. "You took your dress off at the lake," he reminds her gently.
"That was sort of like wearing a bathing suit," she explains. "But that excuse isn't going to work if someone finds us here."
"No one's going to find us," he whispers. He kisses down her neck and his hands creep further up her shirt. She has let him feel her through her bra but he would give anything to see exactly what he's touching. "And if they did, I'd cover you with the sleeping bag."
Clare's eyes flutter closed as he sucks on her earlobe. "Mmmm," she whimpers. She runs a hand down his chest. "Your skin feels so nice."
"Imagine it pressed against yours," Eli says suggestively.
Clare gasps as if the thought has just occurred to her and Eli grins at her innocence. He's very surprised when she pulls him close by his hips and spreads her legs to create room for him on top of her. "You can unbutton it," she whispers. "Don't take it off."
"Awesome," Eli says, smirking, his fingers making quick work of the row of buttons. "What about the bra?"
"Don't push it," she warns.
In the dim light of the lantern, she is ever bit as perfect as he's imagined.
When the doorbell rings after dinner, it takes Clare a second to realize that it is probably Eli on the other side – after all, she did invite him to help her work on an article she is writing to submit for publication in an online journal for high school students.
And she knows the reason the invitation slipped her mind is that Eli's mouth had been moving across the top of her breast and into her cleavage at the time she had made it. She had intended to distract him, as his newfound access to her breasts had left him uninterested in the talking portion of the date.
If Clare is honest with herself, she has to admit that she was also trying to distract herself; the sexy feelings Eli was creating within her were making her want more and the closer she got to him the harder it was to keep that from happening.
Clare's memories of their heated makeout are distracting her once again and she is unable to reach the door before her mother.
"It's Eli," Helen announces in an annoyed tone, without even greeting her daughter's boyfriend.
"Hi?" Eli asks more than says, looking to Clare for clarification. "Is this a bad time?"
Clare glances at her mother who has sat back down on the couch, folding her arms in front of her and staring at the TV. "Why don't we go upstairs?" Clare says quietly, pulling Eli behind her.
"What was that about?" Eli asks once Clare has shut the door behind him.
Clare sighs. "She's mad at me for taking the truck again, and mad at Glen for letting me. Especially since she's still pissed at him for letting Jake go to Mexico which pretty much escalated into fury when Jake called and told them they'd gone to Vegas instead. As if getting high on a Mexican beach and screwing Katie in a hot tub was such a wholesome spring break trip."
"Screwing?" Eli repeats, a look of amusement on his face.
Clare rolls her eyes. "Did you really think he and Katie aren't sleeping together?"
He laughs. "Uh, no, I knew that. I just have never heard you say that term before." He sits down on her bed, leaning back against her pillows. "Vegas, eh? Maybe Katie's going to break up Drew and Bianca's wedding."
"I don't know what happened, but they are flying home tomorrow instead of Saturday so something clearly went wrong." Clare is still hovering near the door of her room. She wants to join Eli on her bed, but she's nervous. Being close to him reminds her of all the thoughts she's had about him ever since last night and she doesn't want to do something that she will regret.
"So do you want to show me your article?" Eli asks, clearly concerned by Clare's nervous demeanor and the distance she is keeping from him.
Clare cringes. "To be honest, I haven't finished it yet. I thought I'd get more done today but I was kind of distracted." She grabs her laptop and sits down next to him on the bed.
"Everything okay?" Eli asks. "Or were you just distracted by thinking about getting me over here and taking my clothes off?" He is clearly joking; his whole face is twisted into a gleeful smirk. But as he leans in for a kiss, Clare jumps off the bed.
"No, not that, not at all." Eli's face lights up even further, realizing he has struck a nerve. But before he can tease her, Clare puts an end on the conversation. "But my mother is on the warpath and if she suspects that we are up here fooling around, she's never going to let me go out with you again."
Eli pouts. "Fine. Hand me the laptop. Let me look at what you've got so far."
Clare sits back on the bed and wraps her arms around her legs, biting her thumbnail as Eli reads through her work. She can tell by his expression that he's not in love with it and when he looks up at her a few minutes later, she winces. "That bad?"
He nods. "There's no 'you' in this."
"What do you mean?"
"You wrote it like a newspaper article that would get printed on page 10 of the local section. All it is are facts and dates. The names aren't even correct."
She stares at her lavender toenails because she can't meet his eyes. "When I pitched it, they said that I had to change his name and the newspaper's. Otherwise we could be sued for libel."
"But it's true," Eli said sadly.
She shrugs. "Not in the eyes of the law." Clare had been disappointed to receive a letter from the Toronto Prosecutor's Office declining to pursue a criminal case against Asher since neither she nor Jennifer had any hard evidence to back up their harassment claims.
Eli sighs, his shoulders dropping. "Well even if you're not mentioning his name, you've left out everything else."
She takes the laptop off his lap. "I wrote about the lunch where he gave me alcohol and the kiss and the attack in his car."
Eli shakes his head. "But you left out how you felt. How you were too scared to tell Ms. Oh the truth. How you couldn't even tell me at first."
"That's irrelevant," Clare says dismissively.
"Clare, that's the story. You're looking at this like it's a news article, but the journal isn't going to print that. It's boring." Clare's eyes widen and Eli quickly corrects himself. "What happened to you isn't boring. But your telling of it is. Think of it as a personal essay. Like David Sedaris, but less funny. There's so much more to this than one inappropriate kiss."
Eli's joke doesn't even register with Clare. "It was hard enough to tell you," she says, tears welling in her eyes. "How can I just tell everyone?"
Eli laces his fingers in Clare's. "For every sentence you've got down, just ask yourself, 'How did this make me feel?' And you should make sure not to leave anything out. The Stuff Clare Says and the sexy director of Romeo and Jules will add some texture so the entire piece isn't bleak and depressing."
Clare stares at her laptop screen as if she has no idea where to begin. Eli reaches over and rests his hand on her heart. "Start here," he says. "Start with what made you happy and angry and sad and humiliated and vengeful. Write the story about how Asher tried to take away your strength and you didn't let him. Write it so that other girls don't feel so ashamed and alone."
Eli pulls his hand back and Clare misses it. It's not a sexual touch but a comfort to her. "Will you stay?" she whispers. "While I write it?"
Eli gives her his half-smile and leans down to pull his laptop out of his bag. "I'm working on production notes for the zombie film – and I've gotta fix the dialogue in that one scene. It's total shit right now."
For once, Clare doesn't admonish Eli for his profanity; she is wrapped up in her revision.
They work side by side for hours. Mostly it's quiet but occasionally Eli will ask Clare for casting advice (" Maybe Maya Matlin, Katie's sister…she's tiny but forceful. Perfect head cheerleader zombie. I'm not sure she acts though; she's a cellist.") or Clare will ask Eli to fact check ("Connor posted the first tweet on Thursday afternoon.") When Clare looks up at the clock once she has finished, she is shocked by how late it is. She is surprised her mother hasn't barged in to check up on them and wonders if she has fallen asleep on the couch in front of the TV.
Eli smiles at her and though she knows she should ask him to leave, Clare doesn't want him to go. "Give this another read?" she asks.
Clare knows the article is raw and painful so the grin on Eli's face while he reads it can only be because he's proud of how she's written it. "Much, much better," he confirms and she is relieved. "You're missing one thing though."
She glances at the clock. It's so late and she should get to sleep if she wants to finish this up and send it out tomorrow. "What's that?"
"You don't mention that you deleted the naked pictures before your sexy playwright boyfriend could see them."
"Maybe your last line should be: "I knew the kind of journalist I was and the kind of girl I was. And I was the kind of girl who only showed my naked body to my sexy and talented boyfriend."
"You're forgetting this is journalism. Not science fiction." Clare tries to lighten the mood because she doesn't want to think about what Eli would do if she ever got the courage to take all of her clothes off for him.
"I think you mean erotic fantasy." Eli smirks. "My erotic fantasies."
"I think you mean it's time to go home and take a cold shower and stop making my girlfriend uncomfortable," Clare says with a short laugh.
Eli immediately turns serious. "Am I making you uncomfortable? I'm sorry, Clare. I'm just kidding. You know I don't mind waiting."
Clare feels bad because she knows that it's not Eli that's making her uncomfortable. "You're not and I know you don't," she says softly, lowering her voice to a whisper as she continues, "but sometimes I do."
He slings his laptop bag over his shoulder and leans down to kiss her flushed cheek to say goodbye. "The article is beautiful, Clare. And so are you."
She wants to protest but she knows Eli hates it when she doesn't accept his compliments. "Thanks so much for your help. I'm going to send it in tomorrow."
He pauses at the door to her room. "Then we'll have to go out to celebrate."