“All the time,” I say. “You?”
“Nah,” he says, and I start to laugh, but I realize he isn’t. “I just made my first one in years.”
“Oh yeah? You want Barbie back?”
“No,” he smiles. “I wished you were over here instead of there.”
More seconds pass, and I let them slip into minutes, my eyes unable to leave his. He didn’t ask. He didn’t come up with some transparent scheme. He was just honest—perfectly, beautifully, terrifyingly honest. We lie there for fifteen more minutes just looking at one another, this new feeling swallowing us both up whole, until Nate finally rolls to his back and then his other side, facing away from me.
More seconds. More minutes. I watch his body rise and fall with every breath, and it’s constant and regular, but I know he’s still awake. Being Cass’s friend, being Paige’s friend, even being Ty’s friend—that’s all part of healing. But what I’m about to do right now has nothing to do with my own personal growth and overcoming my trauma. Being Nate’s friend was a level I left in the dust the second I made his acquaintance. And right now is about me, and the pounding in my chest, and the voice in my head telling me to take what I want.
“Nate?” I speak, my eyes shut tightly.
“Can I come over?” I open my eyes as soon as I speak—amazed the words left my lips.
He rolls back over to face me, lifting his blanket open, and I somehow find my balance and tiptoe to the other side of the room, lying down next to him, in the most amazingly safe place I’ve ever felt.
He’s slow with his arm, pulling the top of the blanket over my shoulder and then reaching around the front of my body to pull me in close. He slides his other arm under my head for a pillow, and my head rests heavily on his bicep. I reach up and pull the tie from my hair, dropping it to the floor. Nate’s hand reaches along my arm when I do, and then he runs his fingers up my neck and into my hair, scooping my heavy strands into a pile along my skin. He continues to run his fingers from my hairline to behind my ear, each stroke like a wave crashing over me, making my eyes feel heavy.
“Hey Nate?” I say, my voice barely a whisper.
“Mmmmm,” he says, his nose pressed against the back of my head while he pulls me in closer, continuing to wind my hair through his fingers.
“You should make more wishes,” I say.
“I just made, like, about twenty. But don’t worry. I’m patient.”
Every nerve in my body is tingling from whatever it is we’re doing. This is no longer just flirting. This is levels beyond flirting. And I am about to fall asleep without the help of Ambien for the first time in months.