The House

Chapter 7

Her

So he was hers. She grinned so fiercely she felt like she might growl. That crazy hair, the dark, playful eyes. The lips—she couldn’t even imagine. That neck and those shoulders, ropy arms and torso that went on forever.

She’d consider the rest later.

“I think you might be a little unbalanced,” he said, watching her reaction with a smile.

Delilah shrugged. “Probably.” She moved closer, closer than she’d ever been to him, and reached up to put her hands flat on his chest.

Gavin sucked in a giant breath, startling her, and squeezed his eyes shut so tight his face contorted as if she’d hurt him. But when she tried to pull away, he stopped her with his palms covering the backs of her hands.

Had he been touched before? “Haven’t you had girlfriends?”

He opened his eyes. “A couple. But I didn’t want them for long, and none of them made me feel this way.”

“What way?”

“Relieved. Maybe a little terrified.”

She dropped her hands this time before he could stop her. “I terrify you?”

“Yes.”

“That’s. . . not good, is it?”

“For me it is,” he said, and followed it with a little one-shouldered shrug. “I’m just overwhelmed by you. I finally have you. I don’t want to mess this up.”

She considered his expression. He looked almost desperately hopeful.

• • •

Gavin walked her home, away from the scrabbly bushes surrounding school to the neat lawns of her neighborhood. Tiny pastel houses were set back an equal distance from the street and only an arm’s length away from each neighbor.

Delilah didn’t think these houses would look very interesting to Gavin, having grown up in a sprawling, living mansion, but even so, he looked around her neighborhood with barely concealed hunger. “What time do your parents get home?”

“My mom gets home around four. She does hair down at the Supercuts. My dad used to be a manager at the plant.”

“What does he do now?”

Delilah shrugged, surprised that Gavin didn’t already know this. The rest of the town seemed to. Looking at the dark windows of her house, she wondered if one or both of her parents were watching her from the living room. What would they think, seeing her talking to this tall, slim shadow on the sidewalk? She found she didn’t really care and was more surprised it hadn’t occurred to her sooner. Her parents had lots of opinions, but most of them seemed to be about unimportant things. Delilah wondered where Gavin would land on their spectrum of relevant worries. Knowing them, they wouldn’t think to look out the window to see who had walked her home, but they had noticed this morning that her skirt was an inch shorter than the one she wore yesterday.

“Is your dad home?” Gavin asked, prompting.

“He might be. He’s looking for work. I guess there isn’t a lot in this town for managers right now.”

Gavin nodded as if this made sense, but Delilah had to wonder what he knew of parents being out of work and what it cost to run a household. He worked in a movie theater for a few hours a week. How much money could he really have? She could hardly ask that. Who did he talk to about careers and school? What did he do if he got stuck on his math homework?

“You should go in,” he prompted, lifting his chin toward the porch. Her mom now stood there, waving.

“I know. But I don’t want to.”

“You’re not going to go in there and freak out on me, are you?”

She looked up at him, stretched to kiss his cheek but made it only to his jaw. “See you tomorrow.”

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