Stronger Than Before
Raven was frozen in place as she looked past Chelsea with wide eyes and down the hallway at Devon. Apparently, he was none the wiser about the fact that she and Chelsea had been a split second away from kissing, judging by the grin that broke out on his face.
Chelsea took a step to the side as Devon began making his way toward them. Her heart nearly beat out of her chest as he bypassed her altogether and pulled Raven into a hug. Jealously like she'd never felt it before flared up when he pulled back just enough to plant a deep kiss on her mouth. That jealousy quickly turned into anger when she realized Raven wasn't pulling away.
Not trusting herself to speak and certainly not wanting to see anymore, she quickly walked the short distance to their room where Devon had been waiting and let herself in. Her hand shook as she fumbled with the key. When the door was finally open, she entered the room quickly, not daring to glance back.
Raven was pulled from her stupor by the sound of the door slamming. She immediately pulled back from Devon and looked past him to see that Chelsea was gone.
"Baby, it's so good to see you," Devon said, pulling her into another hug.
"Devon, what are you doing here?" Raven asked. She was worried about Chelsea, but she couldn't completely ignore Devon either.
"Well, I felt so guilty about cancelling our visit that I thought I'd make it up to you and surprise you," he smiled, bringing her hand up for a kiss.
Raven returned his smile as best she could, but there were so many thoughts going through her mind that she couldn't concentrate.
"So, I was thinking that maybe we could hang out while I'm in town. It's been so hard without you," Devon said, looking into her eyes.
"Umm…I was actually supposed to do something with Chelsea tonight, but…would you wait for me while I go and check with her?" Raven asked, desperate to get to her girl.
"No problem," Devon smiled as he leaned in for another kiss.
Raven quickly turned her cheek to him and smiled tightly as she hurried to the room.
Chelsea was sitting at her desk, seemingly engrossed in something on her laptop when Raven entered. She quickly began scrolling through the screen, not wanting Raven to realize that she had just been staring.
"So, how is Devon?" she asked with a weak smile.
"Chelsea, I'm so sorry," Raven said desperately. "I didn't mean to let that happen…I was shocked." In the midst of her newfound love for Chelsea, she had actually forgotten all about Devon. It had been months since she'd seen him and after he cancelled his visit, she figured it would be a very long time before she actually saw him again. Considering she had been questioning how she felt about him anymore anyway, it hadn't been all that hard to forget. "Please say something," Raven said softly, on the verge of tears.
Chelsea wanted to hang on to her anger, but she couldn't. She could see the regret in Raven's eyes and she knew she was sincere. Standing, she faced Raven, who immediately reached for her hands and pulled her closer.
"It's okay," Chelsea said softly.
Raven breathed a sigh of relief. "He's waiting for me in the hall. I'll tell him right now." She was terrified to do so, but she knew it had to be done.
"Maybe you shouldn't tell him yet," Chelsea said.
Chelsea took a deep breath, forcing herself to speak. "Raven, it wasn't all that long ago that you were debating whether or not you still loved him…maybe now is your chance to figure it out once and for all," she said, hating every word she just spoke. "Maybe you should spend some time with him."
"Chelsea, no!" Raven said firmly. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. "I love you and I want to be with you," she said as a tear fell down her face.
"I love you, too…you know I do," Chelsea said sadly as she smoothed a hand down Raven's face. "But we're about to move in to an apartment together and start the rest of our lives together. You owe it to yourself to make sure you don't have any feelings left for Devon." Raven tried to argue, but Chelsea cut her off. "Rae, I know you and I know how much you loved him. Those feelings don't just go away."
"And how is this any different from you and Ben?" Raven asked angrily. She didn't understand why Chelsea was doing this.
"I didn't love Ben the way I was supposed to. If one small kiss from you could make me forget about him then there was never any contest. It was hard to hurt Ben like that, but I don't regret it," Chelsea explained. "Devon hasn't even had a chance."
"How is this fair to you, Chels?"
"This way there'll never be any regrets. You'll never have to wonder if letting him go was the right decision."
Raven closed her eyes and shook her head. This was crazy. How dare Chelsea ask her to do this?
"Rae, I love you," Chelsea cried as she rested her head against Raven's, "But we have to know."
A few minutes passed and Raven took a deep breath before pulling Chelsea into a deep kiss. It seemed to go on forever, but in reality it was only a few minutes before Raven pulled away.
"Fine. I'll go with him," she said, her voice strong as she regained her composure. "But I'll be back, Chelsea Ophelia Daniels, and you'll see that you're wrong."
Chelsea watched as Raven left the room, the door closing loudly behind her. Her tears came immediately and she collapsed onto Raven's bed, her face buried in a pillow. She had just sent Raven into Devon's arms and all she wanted to do was run after her and say forget the whole thing. Raven said she had been shocked when Devon kissed her, but seeing it made Chelsea question whether or not Raven was really over him. They had to know for sure if they were going to be together.
It was hard not to think about Chelsea the entire time, but a part of Raven knew that she was right. What she had with Devon had been more special than anything she'd ever had with any other guy. It was hard for her to acknowledge it in light of what she felt for Chelsea, but maybe he did deserve a chance. At the very least, she would do it to prove to Chelsea that she was who Raven wanted to be with.
After dinner at Antonio's, she and Devon walked hand in hand through campus. He told her about school and his family and she listened quietly.
"Rae, I've missed you so much," Devon said as he stopped to pull her into a hug.
Raven laid her head against his chest. It was nice, but it didn't invoke the same feelings that it used to. She didn't want to do this anymore. "Devon?" she said softly. He pulled back to look at her. "I need to tell you something."
"Okay, but first, I have a surprise for you," he smiled as he pulled her over to a bench. "Look, Rae, I know that it's been hard with us being so far away from each other, but I don't want to lose you," Devon said.
Raven went completely still as he pulled a small jewelry box from his pocket.
"It's a promise ring," he said as he opened the box to reveal a silver band with her birthstone inlayed. "So you'll always remember that I love you." Taking the ring out of the box, he grabbed her hand. "I can't imagine anyone else being my girl, Rae."
Chelsea lay in her own bed, staring into the dark. Raven had been gone for a few hours and her tears had only just stopped.
Her heart nearly leapt from her chest when she heard the key in the lock and the door opening. The desk lamp came on and she closed her eyes tightly, afraid of what was going to happen next.
"Chels?" Raven said softly as she sat on the bed. "Chels, wake up."
Slowly, Chelsea turned over until she was facing Raven. "I'm up," she said, unable to look at her.
"I told him," Raven said as she reached out to run her hand through Chelsea's hair. "I told him that I couldn't be with him anymore because I had fallen in love with you. He was devastated and it was hard to hurt him like that because I'll always care about him," Raven said as her eyes moistened with tears, "But I don't regret it."
She had stopped him before he could put the ring on her finger. There was a time when she would have been ecstatic at receiving a gift like that from Devon, but those feelings just weren't there anymore.
Chelsea closed her eyes as relieved tears spilled down her face.
"All I could think about was you," Raven continued as she smoothed away Chelsea's tears, "And how much I wanted to be here with you." She felt the redhead tug her arm and she leaned down to kiss her. It was a frantic kiss, full of relief and reassurance. "Chelsea, don't ever ask me to do something like that again," Raven lightly scolded as she lay down fully next to her, one leg straddling her body.
"I'm sorry, Rae," Chelsea breathed in between kisses. "Never again."
"You're my girlfriend, my sweetie, my boo, my honey, my plus one," Raven said as she kissed a trail down to Chelsea's neck, smiling when the redhead giggled. "I don't want anyone else…ever."
Chelsea guided her face back up, her tongue delving deep into Raven's mouth. Every time they kissed, it felt like she fell a little more in love with her and she was sure that one day she would simply burst.