“Do you remember the first time we met?” he asked. I watched as he paced back and forth. “I heard you laugh and it sounded like an angel. Then I saw you and noticed you looked like one too.” He stopped and faced me. I thought he was going to sit down, but instead he leaned against the wall. His strong arms crossed his chest, pulling his t-shirt taunt over his muscles. “I walked over and introduced myself, but you gave me the cold shoulder faster than I could ask for your name. Eventually I pried it out of you and we hit it off.” He stared me down with his bold, green eyes. “We were great together. What happened to us, Vicky?”
I looked away. I didn’t like it when he looked at me like that. It made me feel small. It was odd enough that Christopher Jacobs, the star soccer player of the Arrowwood University Falcons, had decided to show any kind of interest in me. His strong physique paired with his handsome looks made everyone wonder what he saw in someone who was his complete opposite: a small girl known as the weirdo photographer, with short, frizzy, dark brown hair and dull brown eyes.
Chris may have been the one to approach me, but I was drawn to him months before that. I was wandering around campus taking pictures. I stumbled across him practicing by himself on the school’s old field. There was something about seeing him breathless and giving it his all. The passion that I saw in his eyes that day made me fall for him. Hard. It is still one of my favorite photos, but I’d never let him see it.
“Vicky!” he yelled. “Are you even listening?”
I jumped at his voice. I’d heard him yell at his teammates before, but I never thought he’d use that tone of voice at me.
“I-I’m sorry,” I squeaked.
“I don’t want a damn apology. I want to know what the hell is going on with you?”
I still couldn’t look him in the eye. I had always been a quiet person. I never liked much attention, but being with Chris meant going by unnoticed was no longer an option. There was also something about him that made me feel bolder. With him, I would find myself doing things I would never normally do, like getting angry and arguing with someone like him.
“You disappear for 2 days, not bothering to call or text anyone, then I find you sitting in front of my apartment door like nothing happened. What’s up with that?”
“I just needed a break, okay?” I huffed, trying not to yell.
I heard the astonishment in Chris’s voice. “A break? Like from us?”
I took a deep breath and prepared myself for the inevitable breakdown I was destined to suffer. “My parents are getting a divorce. My brother died from a drug overdose. My best friend is sleeping with my therapist. My application for the Tewller Photography Program was rejected. My idol called my work junk. My roommate kicked me out of our apartment for being ‘too boring’. And my boyfriend has been so caught up in his chance at going pro that he hasn’t even noticed that I’ve needed a whole crapload of pills just to get out of bed before noon! So, excuse me for needing to disappear for a couple of days without everyone on my case!”
I sat still on his bed, out of breath, waiting to hear any response from him. When I heard nothing, I hazarded a glance in his direction.
He was no longer staring at me, but at his feet. I could see his jaw working under his skin; a habit of his that presented itself whenever he was thinking. I knew he was trying to think of something to say, a way to make me feel better, but knowing that there was nothing he could do, I stood and gathered my coat, bag, and camera.
Noticing my movement, Chris lifted his head. “Vicky,” he started. When I looked at him, his mouth stayed open as he tried to find his next words. I waited for a moment, but when he didn’t continue, I walked to the door.
“Wait,” he said, covering my hand. I felt as his warm hand pressed mine against the cold knob of the door.
My breath caught as he stood close enough for me to feel him against my back. He leaned his head on my shoulder and wrapped his other arm around my waist. “Please don’t go, Vicky. Not again,” he begged.
“I need to leave,” I answered. I knew if I pulled away he wouldn’t stop me, but a part of me didn’t want to believe he would let me go.
I closed my eyes as I felt his breath on my neck. “Victoria Graham, you drive me crazy and I love you so much. I didn’t notice you were hurting. Please let me make it up to you.”
“There’s nothing you can do, Chris,” I whimpered.
“Let me try.” He pulled me back toward his bed and took my things from me. Sitting me down, he turned on my camera.
“What are you doing?” I asked. I didn’t like other people touching my camera, even if it was Chris.
“Smile,” was his only response.
He took my picture without another word.
“What are you doing?” I asked again.
He moved closer and forced me to fall on my back. I had heard the rumors about Chris being a playboy, but he had never acted this way around me. He knew about my past and he never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to, but this time he was different.
He kissed my cheek, and then down to my neck. My breathing quickened as his free hand moved from my knee to my waist. I bit my lip to keep myself from giving him the satisfaction of breaking me down. If he wanted to hear me say I forgave him, I was going to make him work for it and really mean it.
His attention turned to my face. His hand caressed my cheek as he hungrily pressed his lips to mine. His tongue slipped pass my lips and intertwined with mine, both dancing around in my mouth. When he pulled away, a sigh escaped me and I saw him smile. My face turned red as he raised my camera and took another unwanted photo.
“What’s wrong with you?” I asked, both embarrassed and frustrated.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Chris replied. “You are always stuck behind the camera. I want you to see you as I see you. You are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.”
For the second time that night he had me afraid to say anything.
He sat my camera on his desk and laid down next to me. “I can’t make you forgive me for not being there for you, but I can make sure you know how much I love you.” He pulled me to his chest and held me in silence in that dimly lit room. I listened to his heartbeat as he kissed my forehead and ran his fingers through my hair.
I tightly gripped his shirt and buried my face deeper into it. “I am so scared without you, Chris.”
“I don’t care if I get to play anymore,” he whispered, “I’m never leaving you alone again.”
I closed my eyes and decided to give in. “I love you.”
Chris tilted my head back so that he could see my face, lit up by the pale moonlight streaking through the window. “I love you, too.”