“I want to take it back.”
Her second try was more decisive. “I take it back.”
“Uh – Veronica…?”
“When I said I was cool with you asking Parker out, I didn’t mean it.”
Logan sighed. “Great.”
Veronica pursed her lips at all the sarcasm he managed to get to permeate through one single word. “Great,” she echoed, hard, but she wasn’t sure what she was offering the qualificative to, other than as an echo of his own declaration.
“And now what the fuck, pray tell, am I supposed to do?”
“I…” she faltered.
He moved to shut the door in her face, which – yeah, okay, fair, but that wasn’t really how Veronica had pictured the conversation going.
He swiveled around and looked at her wordlessly, door still in hand.
Veronica tugged on her sleeves nervously before exhaling and standing up straighter. “I know it’s my fault.”
Logan stayed silent. She really could have used one of his wiseass comments right about now. He blinked, and the tiniest sass he included in the gesture reinvigorated her.
She cleared her throat just the slightest. She confronted criminals on a regular basis – which was one of her problems, yeah, yeah, she knew – so she could do this. No sweat.
“There was – okay, there it is.” She kept psyching herself up, out loud, and he probably thought she was crazy, but by then he knew already, along with everything else there was to know about her. “I shouldn’t have told you I was okay with you dating Parker when I wasn’t, and it’s… mean… to both of you, to take it back now. But that’s not the first thing I shouldn’t have done. There’s – well, there’s several things, but…”
She took a steadying breath. There it was. She had to say it now, or else that (humiliating) trip would have been entirely useless, which would have been a shame because it was really embarrassing to be stammering like that, and it would be even more so if she didn’t get it together and get to the point. Also, it was too early in the day to claim she was drunk and didn’t think going to her ex-boyfriend’s hotel room through.
She actually hadn’t – thought it through, that is. It was an impulsive decision, which was the only way she could still show up to this doorstep even if she had every chance of getting trampled over.
But – her breath. That was taken. She took another, just in case. Oxygen was important, after all. “I shouldn’t have broken up with you.”
Logan’s face went white. “What?”
“I’ve been debating the veracity of that statement for… weeks. Because – well, you know why. Never getting past it and all that. Which –” she cleared her throat again. “I don’t feel like I should be joking around with right now, given… yeah. And I can’t pretend it doesn’t still hurt, ‘cause it does, and I’m a mess, you know that, but I kind of… hate it, that fake friends thing we’ve got going on. I mean, we’ve done friends before” she unnecessarily reminded him, gesturing with a casualness she wasn’t feeling. “This isn’t it.”
“Yeah, well. You kinda had never broken up with me, the last time we were friends. We’re totalling two and a half now – three?”
“You broke up with me once too…” She let the rest of her sentence evaporate when Logan raised his eyebrow. “Okay, that’s not the point. Point is, I don’t want you to go out with Parker and I don’t want you to sleep with Madison.”
Logan sounded tired when he interrupted her, the side of his face resting against the door he was still playing with. “Veronica…”
“Let me finish. I know you dating Parker is, like, another scope totally, but, I figure, that means something. That I hate it so much that I wouldn’t hear her out when she brought you up and that I hate it so much that I can’t stop thinking about it now when I’ve just turned in my TA for murder.”
“Oh, uh, Tim Foyle – you remember, the TA who kind of tried to frame me for plagiarism? – he’s the one who killed the Dean.”
“Oh. Alright, carry on.”
Veronica took a second to reflect on how fucked up their lives were if such a revelation only got a “alright, carry on” as reaction. Honestly, it was about the magnitude of how it had been on her radar, too. Just a blip; solve a murder, jail an asshole. They needed help, probably, the two of them.
“Right. Um – what was I saying? Oh yeah, the, uh, the Parker thing. Parker’s great,” she rushed to say. “She’s sweet and considerate and she’d probably be good for you, so – that means it shouldn’t hurt that you like her. Not like the Madison thing. And it doesn’t – not nearly as much. But I haven’t had visons – okay, no, I’ve had visions, but no dreams – about it – you and her – in over a week, so it wasn’t forever. So maybe… maybe I can get past it.”
“You… you can?”
His voice was slightly hopeful, which Veronica took as a good sign. Maybe not entirely good, but on the bad/good scale, if horrible was 0 and excellent was 10, Logan’s voice right then ranked at a solid 7. And then there was the way he looked, which always ranked a 10, but that was really neither here nor there. Still though – that maroon Henley straining on his chest (that was getting more sculpted with every weightlifting class) deserved a mention.
“Yeah. I can. And I want to.”
“What…” he hesitated for a moment, and suddenly he was the nervous one. “What does that mean, concretely?”
“That I hope you haven’t asked Parker out already?”
Logan let out a laugh, and his shoulders relaxed. “I haven’t.”
“So when I said… that I didn’t want you to go out with Parker or sleep with Madison…”
“It’s because I want you to go out with me. To sleep with me.”
“That’s – oh.”
“Yeah.” A beat. “So, uh, I guess I’ll go now,” Veronica declared, suddenly uncomfortable again, and awkwardly pointed to the end of the hallway, to that darn elevator she’d retreated to the last time she’d come to that suite and been (implicitly) rejected. “Just thought you should…” she made a swirling gesture to encompass all she’d just jabbered about. “…know.”
“Uh – yeah? I said everything, you’re not interested, I’ll just go my merry way and leave you to… whatever I interrupted.”
Logan’s muttered “God, you’re absolutely insane,” and his hand reaching out to pull on her arm were the last things she registered before his lips crashed down on hers.
Then she registered, vaguely, that she was inside his room and the door was closing, but really not as much as the fact that Logan was kissing her and maybe he was interested in what she was offering after all and his silence had been – well, she had no idea what it had been but she didn’t particularly care in that moment.
Because, hello, Logan was kissing her, like really kissing her, with that way he had of fluttering his eyelashes against her cheeks but she was 99% sure he never even realized he did it, with his hands literally everywhere on her body. She could taste that peppermint and honey combination he always somehow tasted like for no reason because she wasn’t even sure she’d ever seen him eating honey, and that combination was like the tea her mom made her when she was sick as a child but better because she didn’t even need to be sick for his kisses to make her feel better, with a limitless power. And his tongue was just greedily having a taste of her and she had no idea what taste that was – probably not as good as his miraculous feel-better non-tea – but he’d always seemed to like it alright.
And Logan was bending to reach her lips, which – it made sense given their height difference, but he was bending just a little too much in his fervor, in a way that made her bend backward and she could potentially give a fuck (maybe even two!) about how that was fucking up her back’s health every time they did that but right now she really didn’t because that was always a good indication of the best kisses she shared with Logan. That moment when he was so fucking into her – needed her so bad – that he didn’t really notice he was overshooting lit up something inside her, flaring up and making the two of them connect in a deeper level of understanding she’d never had with anyone else. It was beyond the physicality and the limits their respective bodies imposed on how they could fit together, how they could kiss, because they were just pushing through those barriers to be closer closer closer and their souls were twisting up to fill each other’s hollows. Veronica wasn’t sure she believed in souls being an entity besides body and mind normally, because she balked at anything that sounded vaguely idealistic or optimistic or, God forbid, magical, but she forewent that skepticism when Logan was kissing her like that because there was no other way to describe the plenitude she felt. And souls felt like exactly the kind of romantic crap Logan believed in because of his mom, so maybe they did exist when she was with him.
Logan repeated, “Insane,” and Veronica didn’t remember why he was saying this (her? him?) was insane, but she agreed. Insane how well they worked together, insane how good it felt to kiss him, insane to think there was a world in which they weren’t together, insane that they hadn’t always been this way, insane that she had once thought it rational to throw it away for one mistake plaguing her mind at all times.
Fuck, fuck, no, no, get that back out of your head, Veronica.
But she’d gone slightly stiff and fuck Madison Sinclair because Logan pulled away, kept her in his arms (thank God) but pulled away.
“Nothing,” she replied quickly.
“Was it something I did –”
“No. Just… my mind can’t turn off and it went where it shouldn’t have, but it’s fine, it doesn’t matter now.”
“Look, if we’re gonna give this another try, you’re going to have to stop lying to me.”
“I – fine.” She pasted on her insolent everything-is-fine-what’s-your-problem smile that he always saw through anyway. “I thought about Madison again.”
Logan let out a dejected breath and turned away from her, passing both hands in his hair. “Great. Just great.”
“I’m not trying to think about her –”
“I know. You said… you said you could get past it. What can I do? How do you get the images out of your mind?”
She hadn’t expected Logan to try to offer a solution, and she felt both surprised and strangely touched.
“I just… need to trigger another memory and get that one at the front of my mind, I guess.”
“Okay, uh, how about the last time you showed up at my door?”
Veronica’s lips twisted upwards and a warm flush spread in her chest. “Well, what part?”
Logan matched her grin and stalked towards her, entrapping her between his arms again, this time pulling her back flush to his chest, his mouth easily just above her ear. “Well, there was the beginning… when you threw yourself at me and then jumped up to wrap your legs around me after I’d kicked the door close.”
“Hmm… yes. Keep going.”
He dropped his voice an octave, breath husky in her ear. “I only needed to use my hands that first time, I had you propped up against that wall,” he gave a bob of his chin towards the wall in question, “and you kept saying my name.”
“You have a nice name,” she justified, voice cracking.
“Mmh-hmm,” Logan nodded against her temple. “The second time, you were holding on to my hair and gasping, and you threw my belt against that table.” He pointed with his thumb. “There’s still a dent,” he whispered, and Veronica whimpered in response. “’Course, you were in such a hurry that between the second and third time, I tripped over my pants and fell all over you on the floor.”
“You could’ve kicked off your pants instead of keeping them at your ankles,” Veronica replied. “Not my fault.”
“Sure, okay. Tell me what happened next. Tell me, Veronica.”
“I finally pushed those pants away from you. Mine were already gone.”
“Because I’m effective.”
She kept going as if he hadn’t talked. “And your shirt, too. All gone. Because I’m effective and you were heavy.”
His breath made her shiver. “Then we went to your bedroom.”
“You’re forgetting a few steps.”
She huffed. “You tripped a second time, this time over your belt that was still on the floor.”
“And what else?”
“You got up and picked me up and kissed my jaw. Like that,” she agreed when he started doing what she had described, a line of kisses from her chin all the way to the sensitive spot below her ear. “And after picking me up you stayed inside me the whole way to your bed.”
“Uh-huh. Exactly. Then there was the third time. The fourth.”
Veronica gasped. “The fifth.”
“Hmm, the fifth.”
“The fifth was the best,” she dreamily pronounced, her mind in a haze when she thought back to it.
“The second was pretty good, too.”
Veronica hummed in agreement as Logan’s fingers swirled over her navel to reignite the sensory memories of that night. “Yeah, it was. But the fifth.”
“It’s ‘cause of that thing you do with your hips,” Logan murmured with a nudge of his nose on her cheek. “Changes everything. It’s a whole different game once you do that.”
“Yeah, and the fifth had that and how you touched –”
“Oh, yeah. You’re right. The fifth was the best.”
Veronica nodded in response and closed her eyes to lean her head back on Logan’s shoulder in bliss, a slight smile on her face.
“And then you fell asleep on me,” he pointed out.
“Oh, like you weren’t exhausted too.”
“I was, but I didn’t fall asleep right away.”
“What did you do?” Veronica asked, whispering like it was a big secret, tilting her head back ever so slightly and opening her eyes to look at his face.
“I watched you sleep.”
“You were beautiful. So peaceful. Completely naked, but you were so tired when you fell asleep that you didn’t take the time to cover back up like you usually do. I really liked that.”
“Yeah, I bet,” she laughed.
“No, not just because of the view – although, yes, I enjoyed the view. The vulnerability. That told me you trusted me. No one trusted me like that.”
Veronica’s breath caught in her throat. “Logan…”
He kissed her cheek tenderly. “Then I had to go and break that trust. But, Veronica, if I could take it back –”
“I know,” she quickly agreed. “And, by the way – that did make the other images in my mind disappear.”
“That was the point.”
“I think… I think I still trust you,” she admitted. It took her a lot of courage to let the words escape her lips, but not as much as it had taken to let herself accept them as true that afternoon as she’d grappled with what to do about her feelings for Logan.
She pulled her head to the side to look up at him fully, not just the profile that was visible when she’d been resting on his shoulder, and an astounded face stared back at her.
“Have I finally stunned you into silence?” she teased, raising her hand to skim against his face.
He turned his head to kiss her fingers. “Temporary silence. Already over. You’ll have to try harder.”
“What happens with us?”
“The current plan?” He waited for her answer, so she nodded. “Take you up on your offer. Take you out – tomorrow because it’s getting late – and sleep with you – for that one I was gunning for tonight.”
She smiled. “Okay.”
“Oh, yeah. We seem to be really great at make-up sex.”
“The past does seem to steer us in that direction,” Logan agreed.
“Give it another try to confirm our suspicions? College really has taught me to be thorough when gathering data for research.”
“You’ve attended more classes than me, I’ll take your word for it.”
“Let’s go gather some data.”
“Wait. There’s something I have to do.” Veronica took a step back, keeping a hand on Logan’s chest to reassure him he hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Like, right now?” Logan asked, clearly puzzled.
“I’ll be right back.” Veronica picked up her bag, then paused in hesitation. “I know it’s not your thing, but I have to do this, for me, okay?”
“You’re kind of worrying me. Are you sure you’re okay?”
“Yes.” She pushed him down on the couch and kissed him quickly. “Wait right there.”
She barricaded herself in his bedroom, quickly shedding all her clothes and digging in her bag for the item she’d gone back to buy for no good reason a few days after leaving it there at the lingerie store the day of her run-in with Madison.
In the bedroom light, it looked perfectly fine the way Veronica held it up. After slipping it on, she moved to the en-suite bathroom to look at herself in the mirror. It was flattering. What was wrong with it? Nothing was wrong with it.
She looked great. Sexy.
Decisively, Veronica walked out of Logan’s bedroom and into the living room where she’d left him. He turned at the sound of her footsteps and his jaw fell open when his eyes fell on her.
She did an awkward little twirl and cringed inwardly. A twirl, really? That was good for modeling a sundress, not black lace that barely covered anything. Logan didn’t seem to mind her chosen method, though, because he looked her over appreciatively, speechless for a second. She saw his breath catch and he shifted uncomfortably on the sofa. Point: Veronica. She wasn’t currently competing with anyone, except maybe herself and the doubts Madison had put in her head, but it was always good to keep a few points in her favour in her running tally. Something always needed to be won.
Logan never stayed silent for long, and it was a matter of seconds before he regained his composure enough to ask, “Um, why would this not be my thing? This is very much my thing.”
“Really? You like one-piece numbers?”
“Uh… I like you in lingerie? One-piece or not… I don’t particularly care. It’s less clothes than you were wearing before, so…”
“Oh. I thought…”
“What’s going on, Veronica?”
She sighed and dropped down on the couch beside him. Immediately, he pulled her to him.
Logan looked even more confused than before.
“She said you weren’t big on the one-piece numbers,” Veronica clarified in an embarrassed mumble.
“Madison doesn’t know shit about what I like.”
Veronica nodded. “Okay.”
“Look at me.”
She did, but Logan took her face in his hands anyway, in prevention.
“There is literally no way she could ever possibly know what I like. Unless she was suddenly smart enough to realize what I like is you. Whatever you’re wearing.”
She just stared at him for a beat, then, with no idea what came over her, Veronica blurted out, “I love you.”
“You – oh. You… oh.”
His words – or lack thereof – lingered in the air a few moments.
“Well this is embarrassing,” she commented conversationally.
“Why?” were the words automatically out of Logan’s mouth.
“Why?” she repeated. “Logan. How is this not embarrassing? I show up at your door – unannounced – and take back my permission for you to go out with a girl that’s kind of my friend, then have an insecurity crisis after bullying you into agreeing to sleep with me, and then I tell you I love you and you don’t even have the energy to deflect after how needy I’ve been all night? God I should just go home.” She stood up. “Can we pretend this night never happened? I’m not sure I can face you if we don’t.”
How stupid was it to just blurt that kind of thing out? Of course it made no sense to just expect him to love her too, but she absolutely had. Veronica felt her cheeks flare up again in embarrassment because of the assumption. He’d asked her if he could ask Parker out, of course he had moved on. Of course it would take some time for him to fall back in love with her, if he ever did. The last time he had told her he loved her, directly at least, had been months ago. Since then, they’d broken up, gotten back together, and broken up again. She couldn’t expect him to just stay in love with her through that, even if she had.
The thoughts were whizzing in her head faster than she could grasp on to them, her vision clouded by mortification.
Fuck, she was so stupid. This wasn’t her. She wasn’t the person who didn’t get her feelings reciprocated because she didn’t say that stuff. God, why hadn’t she just shut up and let herself sleep with Logan like they both wanted to (at least in the moment)? That would have been easier.
Logan spoke up, interrupting her train of thought. “I don’t understand.”
“What?” Veronica asked, mid-pulling her pants back on over the lingerie. (She wasn’t wasting the time necessary to take the lace off and put on her regular underwear, it was embarrassing enough without having to linger.)
Logan pushed himself up and walked up to her, reaching out his hand to touch her arm softly to halt her movements. “This back and forth. It’s like you want me one second, and the next you’re back in your head and I have no idea how I’m supposed to deal with any of that. What you’re here for, Veronica – say it. Honestly.”
“I just did.” She shook Logan off and shimmied the pants all the way up, grabbing blindly for her shirt.
“Yeah, I thought you did, and then every time, after you say something, you double back on it and I don’t know what to believe. I don’t know if you’re just saying what you think I want to hear, or if you’re being honest, and which parts are the truth.”
Veronica frowned angrily. “It’s all the truth. I don’t lie to you.”
“I don’t get it! You say everything is the truth, but you won’t let a single thing you say stay there! You’ve spent all night saying things and then attenuating them. What am I supposed to believe?”
“I told you I wanted you to be with me, not Parker or Madison.”
“And then you started thinking about Madison.”
Veronica let out a frustrated huff. “Okay, well, afterwards, we were like, about to have sex. I said we were good at make-up sex.”
“And then you ran off!”
“I told you I loved you!” she screamed.
“And then you said you wanted to forget tonight ever happened!” he replied, as much heat in his tone.
“You couldn’t even form a coherent sentence!”
“Do you know how long I’ve waited to hear you say that?”
She started her next reply with the same intensity. “Well – wait, what?” Veronica deflated, genuinely taken aback, his words taking a second to register.
“Veronica, I’ve been in love with you since you kissed me at Camelot almost two years ago. That’s a heck of a long time in high school and college years. That’s much longer than you.”
“Then why don’t you just accept it when I say I’m in love with you too? Why did you stay silent?”
“How do you not know? How can you not know I love you? How could you interpret the silence as anything else?”
“I – I… I don’t know! I thought you fell out of love with me. We broke up twice since you told me!”
“You dated my best friend for six months after I told you the first time! And I still loved you after, how could I possibly have fallen out of love with you now?”
“You were in love with me last year?”
“’Course I was,” he said, both bashful and defensive. “Never stopped for a second.”
Veronica bit her lip. “I think I was in love with you the first summer, too. I wouldn’t let myself fall for you too much because I was scared. But I loved you.”
“And then you loved Duncan.”
She shook her head. “I don’t think I did. I mean, before Lilly… I did. But when we dated again? Not anymore. Did you love Hannah?”
“No. I cared for her, but I didn’t love her.”
“Now can you stop taking back everything you say?”
“I can do that.”
“And can you take your pants off?”
She laughed. “I can do that too.”
Logan took her shirt from her hands and threw it on the floor before bending down to kiss her, and there it was again, that all-healing taste that both soothed her and set her on fire.
She mumbled against his lips something unintelligible about it, dying to get her tongue past the commissure of his lips and get some more of him. Always more.
But Logan pulled back ever-so-slightly and she frowned. She pushed on her tiptoes to claim his lips again, but he stopped her with a finger.
“You call me honey now?”
“What? Oh, no no no. No. No. You, uh, you taste like honey.”
“I taste like honey?”
Veronica looked down. “Peppermint and honey, like the tea for when you’re sick, but better.”
A huge grin split his face. “Better than the tea you wouldn’t stop recommending to everyone who so much as coughed back in middle school?”
“It’s great tea!” Veronica protested.
“I love you so much.”
It was Veronica’s turn to grin. This time, when she surged up to kiss him, Logan pulled her closer and laced his fingers in her hair. As he nibbled her bottom lip, Veronica started pulling at his clothes, to level the playing field, because she was mostly shivering because of Logan’s kiss but she was also getting a bit cold in her slightly uncomfortable underwear.
Logan’s groan resonated in his throat once Veronica had managed to fling his belt away (with a clang, and she wondered – but didn’t check – if she’d made another dent in the coffee table) and was slowly lowering her hands down his pants.
“Lose the pants,” she whispered, her hand rubbing against the bulge in his jeans.
He merely nodded, shucking his pants as quickly as possible while she tugged on his shirt to communicate that he needed to get that off, too. He did, then scooped her up, both hands on her ass to encourage her to wrap her legs around him, that kind of thing that only really worked with the two of them because they had the perfect height difference, weight difference, and they’d found the perfect balance. Of course, Logan attributed it to some romantic ideal of being perfectly matched while she attributed it to a convenient coincidence, but it didn’t matter because they arrived at the same conclusion.
And when he dropped her on his bed before crawling up her body slowly, trailing his lips on every patch of skin he could find, from the inside of her ankle to the neck he’d grown so well acquainted with, Veronica knew that the conclusion would be a very happy one.
Probably even more than one.
She was aiming for five, like last time they’d gotten back together after too many weeks apart, like the number of times they’d given this crazy relationship a try.
Because fifth time’s the charm, right?