“All right, sweet Sophie,” he whispers, making me feel worse. He always does exactly what I want; he never pushes me.
I get off the bed and put on my bra and shirt before watching him pull his shirt back over his head. He follows me out into the living room, grabbing his keys. He always follows me home when I’m over here late. He walks me into my house to check everything out and then kisses me before leaving for the night, telling me to lock up after him while reminding me to set the alarm.
“I really wish you would stay,” he says gently.
“I just need time,” I tell him. Seeing the look on his face has me wanting to kick my own ass, but I don’t know what to do; I feel stuck.
“As long as you need, Sophie.” He hands me my keys.
I hope he’s not lying and doesn’t give up on me. I want to be better; I hate that I’m hurting him. I walk to him, wrapping my arms around his waist before lifting up on my toes while pulling his mouth down to mine for a kiss. I try to tell him everything with that one kiss. When I pull away, he looks at me and I can see that he’s searching my eyes, trying to understand. I wish I understood myself.
“All right. Let’s get you home.” He kisses my forehead before leading me out to my car.
I bite my cheek the whole way home, and I bite it harder as he kisses me goodnight. When the door finally closes behind him, I let the tears I’ve been holding in fall.
I quietly open the door to my house, not wanting to wake Sophie, who stayed over to watch Daisy. We have been seeing each other for a few months now. I’m head over f**king heels in love with her crazy ass, yet only Kenton and Asher know about her. This is not by choice; I want my family to get to know her. The day Asher found out about Sophie, he, Kenton, and I had spent the morning moving Kenton’s ex’s shit to her house. As soon as we got back to my place, Kenton and Asher pulled a bottle of Jack out of my cabinet, claiming they were toasting to crazy bitches. Kenton looked at me and smiled right then, and I knew he was going to start some shit.
“How are things going with Sophie?” he asked, and Asher looked at me with a what-the-fuck-is-he-talking-about expression on his face.
“Things are fine,” I gritted out. Kenton knew I had my reasons for not telling my family about Sophie yet.
“Who’s Sophie?” Asher asked Kenton, completely cutting me out of the conversation.
“Who’s Sophie? Now isn’t that the million-dollar question?” Kenton asked, tapping his chin.
“Who’s Sophie?” Asher turned his attention to me, and I glared at Kenton, who shrugged before I looked at Asher.
“Sophie is his boom,” Kenton said, cutting me off and laughing like this was the funniest shit in the whole world.
“What?” Asher asked in disbelief.
“It’s true. Why do you think he has been taking jobs that are closer to home and hasn’t been going to see y’all as often?”
“Jesus, do we need to go to the store so I can buy you some f**king tampons?” I growled at Kenton.
“At some point, you need to tell people what’s going on,” he said, making my temper flare.
“And I will when I’m f**king ready.”
“Why didn’t you say something?” Asher asked, and I could see him slipping into big-brother mode. I shook my head before looking at him again.
“Things with Sophie aren’t easy, and I need time before I bring her around everyone.”
“We’re your family.”
“Yes, and I will bring her around. Just not yet,” I told him firmly.
“Mom’s going to flip the f**k out,” Asher said, smiling.
I smiled back. He is right; my mom is going to be happy as hell I am settling down, but she is going to flip because I haven’t told her anything. I know my mom will love Sophie, and it kills me every time I have to go to my parents’ without her.
I’m brought back to the present by Daisy, who’s jumping around at my feet. “Hey, girl.” I drop my bag to the floor before crouching down to scoop her up. “Were you a good girl while I was gone?” I ask, flipping her onto her back so she can get a tummy rub.
When I walk into the kitchen, I see the note Sophie left on the counter. Like always, if she knew I was coming home late, she would leave a note letting me know where I could find dinner.
I turn at the sound of her voice to see her standing at the opening of the kitchen. She’s wearing one of my shirts, her hair is up, and her face is makeup-free. I love that she stays here when I’m out of town. I love even more that she wears my tees to bed when I’m gone.
“I am.” I turn away from her and start the microwave.
“Are you okay?” she asks softly.
I take a second, trying to think of a way to answer that question. Am I okay? Fuck no. Do I want to talk to her about why I’m not okay? Again, f**k no.
I turn to look at her. Jesus, she is so f**king beautiful that just looking at her makes my gut get tight. I want to do what she needs. I always want her to be happy. She told me she needs time, that she’s trying to work through some things from her past. I understand that. I know her mom died when she was young, and I know it had to have left a scar on her. She opened up to me about some things, but a lot of information she shared about her past is either from before her mother’s death or after she left home and went to Job Corps. There’s a huge chunk of time she always skims over. I know that whatever it is she’s holding in is the thing keeping us at a standstill.
I want to be with her; I want a future with her, but I need her to want it too. That’s why last night, after getting off the phone with her, I called Justin and had him do a hard run—also known as an extensive background check—on her. What I never expected was for him to tell me about a police report from right before she was emancipated from her father shortly after her mother’s death.
“Come here,” I tell her, setting Daisy on the ground.
“What’s wrong?” She shuffles her feet, not looking at me.
“Come here, Sophie,” I repeat more firmly this time. I hold out my hand, and she finally walks to me, her steps slow and unsure.
“I feel like something’s wrong,” she whispers, searching my face when my hand wraps around hers pulls her to me.
“We need to talk.”
“Oh no,” she whispers.