Three cupcakes and four and a half glasses of two different kinds of milk later, we decided that half a can of frosting would have been more than enough, but it was probably not too much of a waster that I'd used the whole can. At least I'd had some regular milk for Cayn. Dice and Lyra were always happy to share whatever rice milk I had around, while no one else really cared which was in my fridge, but Cayn refused to accept a substitute where milk traditionally was.
I crumpled the yellow paper from my cupcake and then rolled it into a ball. "Told you it'd be better than beer."
"Only because beer doesn't come in chocolate," Cayn retorted, then went back to sucking cupcake out of his paper.
It was getting late, but I wasn't really tired. Probably thanks to my nap in the tree. I flicked the rolled-up yellow baking paper across the room, just barely making it into the rubbish bin. "Four points."
Cayn followed up by flicking his soggy cupcake paper ball into my hair. While I shot him a stricken look promising revenge, he guffawed and scooted over to pluck the spitwad off me. "Ten points," he said, grinning like a jerk.
I wrinkled my nose and glared accusingly at him. "That was completely disgusting." He just laughed, which made me wrinkle my nose more.
"Heh, did you know your eyes cross when you do that?"
I hadn't, but I still said, "Of course. It makes me look menacing and ugly, like an impaired vicar."
Although I was fairly certain he didn't know what a vicar was, he still looked oddly sure of himself as he gave a slight but firm shake of the head. "No, you don't. You never look ugly."
"I do look menacing, though." I crossed my eyes to the border of headache country and grinned as smarmily as I could.
"Not when you do thatnot at all." He poked the middle of my forehead. "Cut it out."
I shut my eyes and tried to think of a different stupid face I could make at him. My imagination failed me, so I opened my eyes and shook my head. "Consider it cut out." I put a hand on his chest to push him back, but he didn't move. My fingers splayed on their own consciousness, then contracted a bit, scrunching up his shirt between them. I could feel his heart speed up under my palm, thumping like a burglar trying to beat down a door.
While I stared at my hand, I realized that it was getting bigger somehow. It had gone all but slack, and Cayn was pushing against it, moving closer to me. My breath caught painfully in my chest, he couldn't be
I was just daydreaming again, I did it so often lately. But he never felt so warm and soft and heavy in daydreams.
His hand rested high up on my leg, squeezing lightly. Experimentally. His thumb stroked my thigh as carefully as you might prod a tray of cookies out of the oven. As though he was aiming. He didn't take his eyes off mine for a second, not even to look at what he was doing, but there was a thick gloss over his eyes that made my limbs feel like water. He moved his hand up to my hip, thumb still stroking.
I forced my shallow breathing to keep up, felt my hand release his shirt and slide up to his neck. My lips parted with a soft sound that banged in my straining ears. His pulse was racing under my fingertips, and I was pretty sure mine had just stopped. The couch's armrest dug into my back as I let him bear down on me.
This was really happening. Cayn was nearly pressing practically digging his fingers into my hip with one hand, and reaching into my shirt with the other, fingers tentatively exploring. I was too scared to move either of my own hands, and the effort it took not to arch my back or buck my hips was making me sweat.
Cayn was sweating too
His face shone pink, beads of moisture glistening over his top lip and spreading to the corners. I was tempted to reach up and brush the sweat off, but I was afraid of breaking whatever had started all of this. His paralyzingly steady gaze flicked to my mouth as his eyelids drooped. I swallowed so hard my throat hurt. He was doing this because he wanted to, wasn't he? My hand was still on his neck, but I hadn't pulled him down on me, had I? I flexed my fingers. He started to lean in.
The immediate jarring din of the telephone startled us both so badly that we fell off the couch in a hopeless, painful tangle. More to stop the noise than anything else, I scrambled to my watery knees and yanked the phone off the hook. Habit drew it to my ear. "H-hello?"
"You sound out of breath. Did I wake you?" Christian.
I clutched the phone in both hands, leaning with my back to the couch. "Uh no, I haven't gone to bed yet."
"Excellent!" He sounded so
not far away. I bit my lip and looked at Cayn. He had curled himself into a tight ball next to the coffee table, eyes wild and darting in a circuit from door to window to feet and back around. "Happy birthday, love."
The sudden familiarity did nothing to steady me. "You what?"
Christian laughed, he was nervous. "Sorry, I
I didn't think you would mind. I just thoughtI mean, I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, and"
"Don't." Keeping my eyes riveted to Cayn, I could feel the tremor in my hands traveling to my face. It took all the power and strength out of my voice, leaving it a worthless quiver, too high in pitch. "Not over the phone. Don't do things like that over the phone."
He added to the silence already surrounding me. It was as deafening as a sonic boom, but without all the broken glass. Cayn was starting to stand up, but then he gave up and sat back down on the carpet. Christian's sigh traveled over the line and exited through the receiver. "Are you mad at me?"
"No." Hang up. I'm going to have a crisis and you are not helping
"I tried to explain in my last letter, but you
" He sighed again. "Listen, I've finished up sooner than I thought I would. I'll be able to come home in a few weeks. Three, at the most."
I watched Cayn get unsteadily to his feet. "Lovely," was all I could manage to say. This wasn't supposed to happen. Cayn wasn't supposed to try to kiss me. Christian wasn't supposed to do a lot of thinking and then try to start something over the bloody telephone from a million miles away. "I have to call you back in the morning," I said, almost breathlessly. "Please. I have company."
"Still? Isn't it rather late?"
There was a pause, and then he said, "Alright, I understand. I'm sorry I interruptedI just didn't want to let your birthday pass without calling you. Goodbye Van, I
you know I do. Even if you won't let me say it yet."
I swallowed a brick of fear and just said goodbye, then hung up. "He
" I couldn't say anything. Cayn hugged himself and waited for me to finish my sentence. I just shook my head.
"Sorry aboutI mean, sorry for
I shouldn't have
it-it wasn't" he cut himself off and clenched his fists. "I need to go home. I-I-I'll call you tomorrow, I promise." And then he headed for the door. I curled up on the couch and considered covering my head with my arms. The door clicked open, creaked, and then after a soft, "Happy birthday, Van," he was gone.