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{I never wanna leave you but I can’t make you bleed if I’m alone}

~~~3:30 PM~~~

Elliot is apparently the kind of guy who requires a written eviction notice to figure out when his company is unwanted.

He stays rooted to his seat on the far side of the couch, hands up in a 'back off' gesture. "Whoa, Liv, okay. I get it. Just come sit back down and let's talk about this."

You've heard that voice before, because it's the same one you remember him using when he'd get a phone call at work from an irate Kathy. All he needs to do is call you 'baby' and history will have officially repeated itself. "Don't treat me like I'm your wife. Just...don’t. Now, I told you to go. So go."

"I'm not trying to upset you-"

"And yet you succeeded anyway. Goodbye."

"Liv..."

You're shaking again and it has nothing to do with the cold. "Please. God. I can't do this now. Just leave me alone and, fuck, I don't know. I need some time."

"Time for what? Nothing's going to change, but if I let you kick me out on my ass...well. I'm not gonna let you."

"Are you fucking insane? Leave, goddamnit. Leave." You point toward the door as if a lack of directions is the only thing keeping him in the apartment.

"Look. I get why you don't want to talk about it and I'm fine with that."

"Oh. Well then. Thank you for being so understanding."

He doesn't seem to appreciate your sarcasm. "I know-"

"You just know everything today, don't you? Do you think you're an expert on my life because you're capable of reading the paper?"

"No, but I know that they don't charge people with multiple counts of three different sex offenses if nothing happened," he says quietly, voice rough. When you stay silent, unmoving and generally refusing to acknowledge his existence, he sighs and goes back to the angry Kathy tone. "Liv. Ba- you can't think..."

"What did I just fucking say to you? I'm not your wife, I'm not your anything, and I sure as shit don't need you to come here and tell me-"

"Sorry. It slipped out, sorry," and he sounds preprogrammed, like he doesn't have the faintest idea what he's apologizing for but he knows he has to get the words out of the way before he can say what he really wants to, and since when does he think he can talk to you like that? When did you become the hysterical, unreasonable little wife who needs to be placated? "It's not like I'm telling you something you don't already know! It's public record, Liv, it's...you know that."

Of course you know that. But what he doesn't seem to know is that you already made the conscious choice to believe that everyone around you has stayed purposely ignorant of the facts- and if they haven't, they sure as hell have enough respect for your privacy to not announce it in front of you. There's no use trying to explain this to him, though, because he'd probably just try to convince you of how delusional you are and you don't need that. You're well aware already, thanks much. It's time for him to either get with the program or get the fuck out. "So what's the point of all this shit, Elliot? What are you trying to prove?"

"Nothing! I...nothing. Jesus, you honestly fucking think that I'm. I don't know. Tell me what you think I'm doing."

"That's what I'm asking you! What the hell are you doing, showing up here and throwing that shit in my face?" You're gripping the corner of the shelf behind you so tightly that it'll leave marks on your palms, trying to distract yourself from the thought that he knows, that in his head you're weak and disgusting and a victim.

He seems like he's about to give you one of those angry laughs you've heard from him so many times, but at the last possible second it turns into a huff when he asks "Why? Listen to what you're saying. Why would I do that to you?"

"I don't know, why do you do anything? Why did you walk out on me for years without so much as a fuck you? Why did it take me being- getting hurt and Kathy getting on your ass about it for you to show up again?"

"And you don't think I regret it?" he asks, the volume of his voice rising to meet yours. "I mean, fuck that, if you wanna talk regrets, then lemme tell you...do you really not get it? Jesus fucking christ, do you not realize that I wake up every goddamn day thinking that you were fucking brutalized and I didn't do a goddamn thing to keep it from happening?"

"What the hell do you think you should've done, put a bug in my fucking apartment so you'd know every single fucking thing that went on?" and there's no need for that right now, because your neighbors are certainly able to hear every single word coming out of your mouths in stereo quality sound.

"You don't get it, Liv!"

"What the fuck do I not get?!"

"If I hadn't fucked everything up years ago-"

"What the hell does that have to do with-"

"Because you should've been coming home to me!" he shouts, and you're screaming almost incoherently before his fist even connects with the wall because this is it, you are all out of words and ideas and plans and thoughts and absolute fucking sanity and God it feels good, it feels cathartic in all the most excruciating ways possible and your only fear is that there is no turning it off now. He's yelling and you're yelling and nobody is listening but that's not what this is about, it's just a competition where the more tortured you are, the louder you become and to hell with it all, he doesn't get to show up at your door to kiss you and fuck your head over multiple times and then put a motherfucking hole in your wall, you are by far the winner of this contest and now...

Both of you are stunned into momentary silence, save for the harsh sounds of your breathing. "Did you just fucking slap me?!"

"There's a goddamn hole in the wall!" you point out, shaking your hand (yes, the one you had just used to slap him) toward the hole in question. "How am I supposed to explain that?"

"That's what you're worried about? Hide it! Put that cute fucking picture of you and him right up there and look! All done!"

You back away from him one long, slow step at a time, like you don't trust yourself not to spring forward and attack like a wildcat. It all makes sense now, and you can see everything in absolute clarity even through the alcohol, through the anger. "I know what this is, okay? I know what this is and fuck you, Elliot. How dare you."

"What the hell are you talking about?" he asks, still looking at the hole like he's about to go cover it up himself and it's only enraging you more. You would go and put yourself between him and the wall so he's forced to look at you, but you know it would only take one glance for him to realize that your flushed face isn't entirely a result of all the screaming you've been doing. You're hurt and disappointed and furious at yourself for being so stupid as to think that he really. That he would ever. That-

"This!" you finally snap back at him. "Me! I'm not your project, okay, I get that you feel responsible for some reason but you're going to have to sort that shit out on your own. I don't need you to protect me, I don't want you hanging around so you can work out your guilt issues and then...then what? What happens one day when you feel like you've done your time, all your sins are forgiven- you take off again? Will I actually get a goodbye this time?"

"Do you even listen to yourself? Do you ever hear the shit that comes out of your mouth? I don't even know where the hell you get this from!"

You laugh, righteous indignation building by the second. "Oh yeah, because I'm so far off base here...and for another thing," you add, "I love how your whole little scenario assumes that we would ever actually be together, that you would actually get off your ass and leave your wife, that I would even want any of that...what do you think would've happened, that you would sit down at your desk one day and tell me 'oh hey, Liv, Kathy and I are done for good this time,' and I'd run off with you just like that?"

"You're telling me you wouldn't?" he asks, and now it's his turn for a condescending laugh. "Isn't that what you were waiting for all those years?"

"Fuck you," you snarl, using it as a verbal placeholder while you figure out what to say next. You think back to the conversation you had after Munch's party and godfuckingdamnit, this is why you never would've told him what you did if you thought you'd ever see him again, because now you've basically handed him a weapon and showed him exactly where to aim in order to take you down. And when he shoots, he doesn’t usually miss.

"No, I wanna hear this. Right fucking now, if I told you I'm leaving her. Tell me what you'd say, Olivia."

"I would say you are out of your goddamn mind and-"

"Say it!" he growls, taking a step toward you and god help him if he thinks you won't slap him again if he comes any closer. "Look me in the eye and tell me that's not what you want."

"You son of a bitch! You have no right to come here and fuck with my head when I told you, when you promised that you would stop this shit, you lying prick, I don't even know what the hell to believe but I'm done with you. I'm done and I don't want to see you again because we are never, ever going to be anything, sure as hell not friends and I hate that I ever gave you a chance. It was a mistake that I let you talk me into it. It was a mistake that I ever thought- it was all a mistake and I should've just said goodbye for real back at that bar because you obviously don't give a shit about me," you say, words coming faster and faster.

"That's not true, and you didn't answer the qu-"

"You care more about your own guilty conscience! You're fixated on all these things you regret and somehow you think it's gonna make it all better by saying you're sorry you got back together with Kathy, you're sorry you left without a word for two whole fucking years, and now the only reason you pop back up is because you're sorry I got hurt. Is this some sort of masochistic thing where you're obsessed with all this guilt?"

"Could you stop trying to change the subject and just answer the fucking question?"

"If I told you every little thing that happened, would that be enough that you'd leave me alone?" You know you're going too far, that the only thing that would wreck him more than hearing it all would be feeling like he forced it out of you in a moment of desperation, but he was the one who wouldn't listen when you tried to warn him to stay away from you in the first place. He was so determined not to let you go, so he might as well know what he signed up for. "If I told you that he fu-"

"Shut the hell up, Olivia, is this really how you want to do this?" Once he's managed to get you to stop talking, his voice drops. "If you think you're gonna scare me off, then I'm really fucking sorry, because it's not going to happen. You wanna run again, that's on you. Run all you want. I can't stop you, but I'm not going to make it easier for you, and I'm sure as hell not letting you push me away so you can tell yourself that I'm to blame here. It doesn't work like that, so you might as well just admit it. You're the one who's scared. Hear that? You're scared."

"Are you done?"

"Answer the fucking question!"

You take a long stride toward him to close the distance between both of you, and you're definitely not going to stop at slapping him this time, and he reaches toward you to grab your arm and-

Dun dun du-dun dun du-dun dun du-dun.

"Son of a bitch!" You turn away and pick up your phone, confirming what you thought the message must be. "Brian's downstairs. Get your ass out."

"I'm not finished talking to you."

"Yeah, well, too bad. Unless you're going to tell me whatever it is you have to say in front of him, then you're shit outta luck," you say, throwing open the door. "Go down the back stairs. I don't want you two running into each other."

"This is so convenient for you, isn't it? Right when you-"

"I would tell you to go fuck yourself! There, you got your answer. Happy? Now go."

He barely has time to slam the door behind himself before you're slumped against it, letting yourself slide down to the floor.

{how many times will you let me change my mind and turn around?}

~~~12:05 AM~~~

"Hey. Bri," you say, nudging his shoulder gently as you get out of bed. "I've gotta go. Got called in."

He doesn't answer, still asleep, so you keep the light off as you change into jeans and throw a hoodie on over the tank top you wore to bed.

"Liv?" he asks, sounding groggy. "That you?"

"Uh...yes?"

His eyes are still closed. "The squirrels. They all disappeared."

"Bummer," you say as you reach for your shoes, quietly so as not to wake him up. He's not necessarily a sleep talker, but you've learned that if you say something to him he'll ramble back nonsensically until you can't take it anymore.

"Yeah. Fuckin' squirrels."

"I'll see you tomorrow, hon." You have your phone in hand as you head out, texting him a reminder of where you went so he won't panic when he inevitably wakes up in the morning with no memory of your conversation.

With that taken care of, you scroll through your messages until you find the one you're looking for. «parked a block over in front of cvs»

«on my way now», you reply as you walk through the front door of your building and into the drizzly night.

{you put your arms around me and I’m home}

~~~2:40 AM~~~

You hear a knock at the hotel room door and glance through the peephole before opening it, tugging Elliot inside quickly and looking both ways down the hall to make sure there didn't appear to be any witnesses.

"So what unnecessary excuse did you go with?" he asks, taking his jacket off and tossing it on the back of a chair.

"Visiting from upstate. Car broke down and the place where we were supposed to stay didn't hold our reservation."

"And that went over well?"

"Don't know. I don't think she understood more than two words I said," you admit, sitting back on the bed with your feet up and rolling your eyes at his obvious amusement. "El, c'mon, this feels really sketchy. You know it."

"It was your idea in the first place," he argues, but you just ignore what he's saying and pull him into a kiss.

{I hope that you see right through my walls}

~~~12:10 AM~~~

You climb into the passenger seat and Elliot's not looking at you.

He's staring straight ahead at the puddles forming in the street, completely ignoring your presence, and it feels like it did when you were back at Brian's old apartment seeing each other for the first time in two years. Back then, you hadn't known whether you wanted to cry or kiss him or hit him, so you didn't do anything. Today, though...you've already kissed him and you've already hit him, and you promised yourself you wouldn't cry.

And yet that didn't stop you from launching yourself toward him from across the gear shift, clutching the sleeves of his jacket and dissolving into sobs.

"I hate you, you son of a bitch. I hate you and I meant everything I said and I'm not sorry," you swear, voice muffled when you bury your face against his shoulder.

"And you think I am? I don't need this, Olivia, I was doing fine. I thought I could finally have a normal fucking life, and I did. And I was happy with that, and then I hear that you've been kidnapped by some sick bastard and boom, everything's shot to hell again!"

"Oh, well God, I'm sorry I inconvenienced you! I'm sorry I disrupted your perfect little family, again-"

"Will you shut the fuck up and let me talk? What happened, it had nothing to do with...I don't blame you for that, jesus, we were bound to see each other again one way or the other. I knew I wouldn't be able to stay away from you forever. I'm not that lucky, shit."

"I was fine too, y'know!" you say through the tears. "I was happy. Without you. Things were good without you to fuck them up! I didn't need you to come back again, so why did you? Why can't you just stay home with your wife and leave me the hell alone?"

"Why did you text me just now saying you had to see me? Why not stay in that place that you can't afford and fuck your boyfriend and push me away like you always do?"

"Stop saying that! I didn't run. I'm here, aren't I?"

"So that's why you're here?" he asks. "To make a liar out of me?"

"No!"

"Then why?" and you are so sick of his fucking questions, and that's maybe part of the reason why you reach out for the back of his head, forcing him closer to you and kissing him hard.

But only part.

{I tried my best to never let you in to see the truth}

~~~3:05 AM~~~

"Liv."

"What?" you say in a disappointed whine when his mouth breaks contact with the side of your neck.

"You're, uh. A little overheated."

Under most other circumstances (well, at least the kind of circumstances where your tongue's in his mouth), it would've been the world's worst ploy to try and get you undressed. Right now, though, he was actually telling the truth. The heater in the hotel room seemed to have only one setting- sweltering- and you were still in your thick hoodie. Add to that the body heat of someone else in, uh, very close proximity, and you were feeling borderline feverish. "It's okay. I'm fine."

"Seriously. You're gonna pass out on me."

"El...you don't get it," you say, reluctantly propping yourself up on your elbows. "I was kinda in a hurry on my way out so I just threw this on over what I wore to bed, and so..."

You look at him beseechingly, willing him to catch on and not make you explain it further, but he just seems confused. "And...what the hell exactly do you sleep in?"

"No, no, it's...I've got a tank top on, but." It wasn't anything especially risque, otherwise you wouldn't be wearing it around the apartment in the first place, but the neckline dipped down far enough that you could see a lot more than you would ever reveal in public. "I've." You stop, staring down at your hands. "I've got a lot of scars that haven't healed yet, okay?"

"Oh," he says quietly, understanding dawning on his face when you peek over at him. "Shit. I'm sorry. I didn't...shit."

"It's alright," you assure him. Truthfully, most of them aren't going to fade much more than they already have, at least not without surgery, but that was a topic for another day.

"We can turn the lamp off," he suggests, and you look skeptically at the light from a full moon streaming in freely through the blinds. It would help, but not as much as you'd like. "Or, ah, I'll give you my shirt?"

You frown awkwardly at this, because the whole situation is dancing a bit too close to that imaginary line already and it really seems like if you're going to be in the same bed, everyone should stay fully clothed. But then again, if you're going to be in the same bed, you also need to do something to keep from dying of heatstroke. "No, I...it's okay. Just turn it off."

He looks a little relieved at your decision, reaching over to the lamp as you bite your lip and yank your sweatshirt over your head before you have a chance to change your mind. Now it's dark, and you realize too late that maybe that crosses a line too, but mostly you're focused on nervously inspecting your bruised palms again.

"Shit," he mumbles, and when you look up you see him scrubbing his hand over his face uncomfortably.

"Is there a problem?" you ask, instantly back on the defensive.

"No, God, no. I just...damnit." When he finally looks at you, he has this sheepish expression on his face. "I'm sitting here trying to come up with the right thing to say and all I can think of is...god I want you."

You'll accept that answer. And that's enough talking for now.

{you put your arms around me and I believe that it’s easier for you to let me go}

~~~1:15 AM~~~

"So what'd you tell him?"

"Hmm?" You'd been sitting silently in the car and listening to the rain falling steadily onto the roof, your cheek resting against his shoulder and the sleeve of his jacket still clenched in your fist. It would've seemed embarrassingly needy if he wasn't holding onto you just as tightly, like neither of you trust the other not to disappear at any moment.

"Brian. Where's he think you went?"

"Work. Where does Kathy think you are?"

"Not with her." When he can tell you're unamused, he adds "Trust me, she doesn't give a damn where I'm at right now."

"Wow, way to burn all your bridges in one day."

"Yeah, well. Go big or go home."

"Maybe that's what you should do," you say, twisting away from him as much as you can without him letting go of his hold on you.

"Is that what you honestly want?"

"You know, Elliot, I'm getting really tired of your questions today."

"But...?"

You sigh loudly, pushing away a few wisps of hair that have fallen in your face. "But what? No, I don't want you to go, okay? But that doesn't mean I want you to leave your wife either."

"There's a kinda huge difference between those two things."

"Exactly! I want you in my life- although sometimes I'm not sure why- but you can't make this into something it isn't. There is nothing you or I can do that's gonna turn back the clock. Believe me. I've tried every fucking day since ...I want to go back to the way I was before. You want to go back to something that could've been. Both of us are screwed."

He looks out the rain-soaked window, rubbing his face. "I probably shouldn't have asked you that, about Kathy. I get it now."

"Oh, you think? El...you have a good thing going there. Finally," you say, echoing what Kathy herself had told you not so long ago as you stood in their kitchen and watched this hint of dread wash over her face. "Can't you just be content with that?"

"Don't you think I would if I could? What, do you think I'm here because I can't get enough of your sparkling personality?"

"Like you're Mr. Congeniality?" you ask, because seriously, he thinks he's one to judge? Maybe it was like Fin once said when he tried to come to your aid while you were arguing with Elliot, only for you to snap at him in Elliot's defense- 'I give up. You two deserve each other.' But there are also some things you know you don't deserve. "I'm not going to be your punishment, okay, I'm not going to be this burden you take on so you can feel like you're doing your penance. I've been there, done that since the day I was born and- I'm finished. Don't put me through that again."

"Olivia...fuck," he says, turning toward you again with genuine confusion in his eyes. "You really have no idea what you are to me...?"

You've officially given up on answering any more of his questions today, but in the end it doesn't matter because his mouth is on yours before you can speak, and now it's his turn to be the one kissing you within an inch of your life. "This is real, okay, this is real," he keeps saying, and it's fierce and demanding and there's this edge of desperation in his voice and right then, it's impossible for you to do anything but believe him.

{I hope that you catch me cause I’m already falling}

~~~3:30 AM~~~

You know you need to stop.

You know you're in dangerous territory here on this hotel bed, that you're stretching The Line about as far as it can go before it snaps back on you like a rubber band. Those things only have a finite amount of elasticity in them, and if you push them past the limit they're going to break and probably hurt someone when they do.

But God you want him.

Before this summer, it had been a long time since you'd kissed someone like this, like it was an end in itself rather than the buildup to something else. There's an intimacy to it that makes everything seem more intense than if you just went straight to the fucking, where you pretty much already know what (hopefully) will happen. But tonight you're sure you're not going to sleep with him, you're sure that you'd shut down before you got to that point just like you have every time you've been with Brian, and right now it actually feels more like a relief than a source of frustration. It means you don't have to think about where this is headed or about anything beyond this very second and the look Elliot gives you before his tongue is pushing past your teeth, sliding against your own as he tightens his grip on the curve of your back right above your ass.

You scratch your nails down his chest and okay, you really need to stop, but then his head's dipping lower and he's trailing kisses down the valley between your breasts and yeah, it would probably be crossing the line, but you start to wonder how bad it would really be if that hand on your thigh moved just a little further upward...for fuck's sake, you'd probably come just from the thought alone before he ever actually touched you.

He mumbles something against your skin that sounds like a question when you hastily unzip your jeans and grab his wrist. "Liv...sure?"

His concern is endearing, especially because you know how much he's been holding back for your sake, but right now you're on a mission. "Just...yeah, there...good. Like that," you tell him, guiding his hand to exactly where you want it.

"Always knew you'd be a bossy little bitch," he teases gently, and there's something about the word 'always', how it implies that he's probably thought about this for as long as you have, that makes you shudder almost as much as the way he's touching you.

"What else did you- fuck. Right there, oh god, please," you groan, planting your feet flat on the mattress and spreading your legs further apart and you are so not above begging no matter how much shit he'll probably give you for it later. "I need...El. Now."

"No. Ask nicely," and that's what his voice sounds like in your dreams, deep and gravelly and with that demanding edge to it that you wouldn't put up with under any other circumstance.

"Please. Goddamit, El, please."

He hesitates for a second like he's not sure and you think you're going to cry from anticipation if he keeps you waiting like this any longer, but then his mouth is right next to your ear whispering let go, I got you. that's my girl. let it out, and he starts rubbing your clit between his thumb and forefinger roughly and when you come it's such a relief that it's almost painful, like you're shedding fifteen years worth of tension all at once. He keeps working you through it, refusing to let up even when you don't think you have anything left in you, that's it, c'mon. you're so good, until you finally cry out one last time and then collapse against him, limp and exhausted.

Jesus christ, what's it going to be like when he actually fucks you?

{I have learned that even landlocked lovers yearn for the sea like navy men}

~~~2:20 AM~~~

"I'm going to be a grandpa."

You're not sure how long the two of you have been sitting here in the front seat of his car, long bouts of silence interspersed with an idle comment here and there, other than that it's been long enough for the temperature to drop sharply and for your muscles to be screaming at you for putting them in this awkward position for so long.

"Oh?" you ask, pretending to be surprised. You're leaning into him as best you can with the center console in between you, fingers tracing patterns on the back of his hand as it rests on your thigh.

"A little boy. Benjamin." He reaches for his phone, showing you a 3D ultrasound snapshot of a tiny person with a huge head and raised arms. "They wanted to have a name chosen already so that they weren't calling him Baby until April. I told them shit, we didn't name Kathleen until she was three days old, and that was only because they wouldn't let us take her home until we signed the birth certificate."

"I guess times are changing, Grandpa."

"At least it gives me an excuse to tell Eli when he asks why he can't have a cat. Look at that, son, I got you a nephew instead. Hey- are you really that cold?" he asks when he sees you rubbing your arms for warmth.

"Yes, I am 'really that cold'." Elliot would feel completely at home in the Arctic, so this was an exchange that used to take place on a several times daily basis. He suggests that he could start the car and drive around for a bit, and you hesitate briefly. "Uh. Before you do...wow. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think we still need to talk about, well. A lot, probably."

He nods, pressing a lingering kiss to the top of your head and then sticking the key in the ignition. "Probably. Wanna find somewhere to go sit for a while?"

"No," you say a bit too quickly. "I...not tonight. I can't. Today's been..."

"Long."

"Among other things. But...I really mean it. I'm not just avoiding."

"I get it." The rain on the windshield is beginning to turn to sleet, blurring the world passing by outside and making it feel even more like the two of you are existing in a separate place all your own. "You've got a rough week ahead and...we'll deal with the rest later, okay? I'm not going anywhere."

"Me neither," and you can see the poorly veiled relief in his eyes.

"So where you going now?"

"I don't care. Brian's not expecting me back anytime soon, and..." And I don't want to let you out of my sight, you add silently.

He seems to agree with your unspoken request. "There's that diner right up ahead here."

You can't stand the thought of having to put your game face back on right now, of having to sit across the table a safe distance away from one another because that place is always crawling with cops and rumors travel faster than any bullet you've ever seen. You don’t want to share him, to have his attention turned away from you for even the few seconds it takes to ask for a refill on his coffee, and most of all you don’t want anything that might remind you how fragile and fleeting this thing between you really is.

When he notices your reaction, he tries another idea. "When's Brian leaving for work?"

"It's his day off." You lean back against the seat in frustration. "Goddamnit, why does everything have to be...is there nowhere else we can go, alone, besides this fucking car? Somewhere that doesn't charge by the hour? That's all I want."

He grins. "God works in mysterious ways, Liv."

"No," you say flatly when you see what he's looking at- a brightly lit hotel sign right in front of you. "Just...no."

"Why not?" he asks, chuckling.

"Why? Because it's shady."

"Only if you're doing something shady. You got any better ideas, short of sitting out here all night?" You glance over at the sign again. It doesn't rent by the hour, it looks clean, and you know it's not one of the usual haunts for the city's hookers and dealers, so it does have all that going for it. "When do you have to be back at the station?"

"Not until afternoon."

"See, it's perfect. I'll bring you back to your place in the morning and until then, no one's gonna bother us. And if it makes you feel any better, you can tell whoever's at the desk that we're not having sex. Problem solved."

"Now that's subtle." You reach back to redo your ponytail, not quite able to believe that you're actually considering this because, well, it just seems like one of those things Nice Girls don't do, sex or no sex. But more than anything, you want to keep him all to yourself for as long as possible, and your only other option for that is to stay in this cold car with uncomfortable seats for another ten hours while you struggle to get close to him without impaling yourself on the gear shift. This way, you'll get to wake up next to him- and when you put it like that, your decision's already made.

Besides, you think your Nice Girl days were finished for good long ago, back when the last of the flowers were beginning to blossom as spring gave way to summer. "Fine, fine. You win."

"Yeah, I always do," he says with a satisfied smirk. "Here, I'll even let you out while I go find a place to park. That way you don't have to be seen with me and you can give 'em whatever stupid story you want."

You unbuckle your seatbelt, and when you lean over to kiss him again you nip at his bottom lip just because you can. "This is a terrible idea," you say over your shoulder as you step out of the car and into the night.

Above you, snow is beginning to fall from the sky. Summer is finally over.