“We can’t do this,” he protested weakly.
“What are we doing?” she asked. “We’re just hanging out.”
He closed his eyes. He wanted to do more than hang out with her but… “It was a mistake for you to come here, Gaia.”
“Why was it a mistake?”
Zihan dragged his fingers through his hair in frustration. “If you don’t leave right now, something is going to happen.”
Muttering under his breath, he strode over to where she sat and hauled her to her feet. For a moment she thought he was going to bodily throw her out of his flat but instead he pulled her roughly against him, making her gasp and then, he was kissing her.
For a few minutes she was too stunned to do anything but when she felt his body pressing against hers and his mouth moving feverishly on hers, she put her arms around his waist and responded eagerly. After several minutes of kissing wildly, he broke it off to drag off his tee shirt, his breath harsh and unsteady.
In a matter of seconds, he was standing there stark naked. He moaned when he saw the way she was looking at his body and with trembling fingers, he quickly unbuttoned her shirt. She let him undress her, her heart pounding with excitement. She couldn’t believe that this was happening. Was it one of her dreams–fantasies? She hoped not.
His mouth was on hers again and she clung to him, her legs feeling weak and as if they were going to give out on her. Still kissing her, he picked her up and carried her to his bedroom. After putting her down on the bed, he covered every inch of her with kisses, driving her wild before he made love to her.
When it was over, they lay there, spent for several minutes before he got up from the bed and walked over to the window. The late afternoon sun streamed into the room. He could feel her watching him. What just happened shouldn’t have happened. He’d lost his head. He shouldn’t have done that but he wanted her so badly. He didn’t know when exactly his feelings for her had changed. It had been gradual. Subtle. And then it was in his face.
He remembered the morning when they were having breakfast at Tim Horton’s before he went to work and she to the University of Toronto. They were laughing about something and she put her hand on his thigh. Immediately, he stopped laughing. She didn’t notice because she was looking out the window. She had no idea that her touch had inadvertently aroused him. For one maddening moment, he had wanted to move her hand and put there so that she could feel it.
Instead, he rose abruptly to his feet. She didn’t seem to notice that his demeanor had changed and when they hugged as they usually did before parting company, he held his breath and was relieved when she drew back. He watched her walk away, wondering what he was going to do about this problem. At that moment, he felt jumbled like Jenga.
From that day on wards, he was afraid to be alone with her for fear of what he might be tempted to do. For fear of giving away or giving into his newly developed feelings for her. Lately, he had arranged it so that when they were alone, it was always in public but today, she had come over to his flat and now here they were in his bedroom.
He turned towards her as she sat there, holding the sheet against her. “Gaia, I think–” he started to say when the phone rang. He hurried over to the bedside table and answered it. “Hello?” He gripped the receiver. “Hello, Meiling.”
When Gaia heard that it was Meiling on the other end of the phone, she quickly got out of the bed and hurried into the living-room to get dressed. Meiling was Zihan’s girlfriend.
Zihan came into the living-room a few minutes later, wearing a robe. His expression was drawn as he met her gaze. “That was Meiling,” he said unnecessarily. “She called to say that she’s coming over in half-hour to take me out for dinner.”
“I’d better leave now, then.” She wanted to hug him and tell him that she loved him but now didn’t seem like an appropriate time and then there was Meiling.
He followed her into the foyer and opened the door. He wanted to take her his arms but didn’t. “I’ll call you,” he said quietly.
“All right. ‘Bye.”
“‘Bye.” He watched her walk down the hallway until she disappeared from his view. He closed the door and leaned against it. What a mess he had gotten himself into. Dinner with Meiling was going to be a challenge. His mind was going to be elsewhere.
A few weeks had passed. He had broken up with Meiling a couple of days after they had dinner. She was cut up about it. He felt bad about it but how could he continue dating her when he was in love with Gaia. Gaia. He had avoided her since that afternoon when they made love. He had called her as promised but he always found an excuse for why he couldn’t see her in person.
He had to go away on business for a week. He had never been to Chicago before. Apparently it was a great place to live and to work. He found himself wondering if he were to decide to get a job and move there would Gaia be up for that? She had one more year to finish at university. Would she want to leave Toronto and move to Chicago with him?
He missed her like crazy. During the day, he was fine. Busy with meetings and business but at nights when he was in his hotel suite, he couldn’t stop thinking about her and wondering how she was and what she was doing and if she was seeing anyone. The mere thought of her going out with another guy drove him crazy. He called her twice and texted her several times when he was in Chicago. She seemed glad to hear from him but he couldn’t be sure.
He stood there now, looking up at the apartment building where she lived, his heart racing. What kind of reception would he get? Instead of calling her from the lobby, he waited until a resident was going inside and followed him. He took the elevator up to the 10th floor. Hopefully, she was home. He rang the bell.
The door opened and she stood there, staring up at him. “Hi,” she said after a moment.
“Hi.” He wanted to pick her up and hug her tightly.
She stepped aside so that he could go in. After she locked the door, she turned to face him, her eyes running eagerly down his tall frame. It had been ages since they last saw each other. Her fingers itched to brush his hair back from his forehead. “How was Chicago?”
“Fine. I think you’d like it.”
“How have you been?”
Her expression changed. “Miserable? Why? Was it because you missed Meiling?”
“No! I was missing you.”
“What about Meiling?”
“I broke up with her before I went to Chicago.”
“Why did you break up with her?”
“It was because of you.”
“Yes. I couldn’t continue dating her when–when I feel the way I do about you.”
Her heart began to pound faster. “And how do you feel about me?”
He reached out and touched her face, his own heart racing. “I love you, Gaia,” he muttered thickly.
“I love you too, Zihan,” she replied huskily. This time she reached up and brushed his hair back from his forehead.
Groaning, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her fiercely.
An hour later, they were lying on her bed, entwined, sated and planning their future together. It was decided that after Gaia graduated from U of T, they would get married first and then move to Chicago.