I stared at the springs of Caroline’s top bunk, reaching absently for a stray thread hanging from the sheet. Damn, my hand was still shaking. I wedged it underneath my pillow, digging my fingernails into my palm, and started counting the tight black coils. One. Two. Three.
The springs groaned; Caroline would be getting up in a minute. There was no way she wouldn’t ask. What was I supposed to say? Ten minutes ago, I’d have said it was incredible. Laughing over dinner. Walking back to campus hand in hand. Our not-quite kiss goodnight.
Four. Five. Six. Seven.
It had been amazing. I wasn’t imagining that. Even this morning, both of us bleary-eyed from too little sleep and too much longing, the air between us practically crackled. I’d been worried that I was the only one who had gone to bed with my blood racing, replaying every word, every touch on an endless reel until I’d fallen into a dreamless sleep. But at least I’d slept. He admitted that he’d gone home and watched mindless TV, unable to get me out of his head. I’d laughed in disbelief; guys like Dylan did not lose sleep over girls like me.
“You don’t think so?” His blue eyes were electrifying. He’d meant it. That made it worse now somehow.
Caroline’s springs protested as she shifted to slap the off button of her alarm. I took a deep breath. She’d be gone in minutes; I could do this.
“Hey Car,” I called.
“Chloe?” She peered over the edge of her bed through a curtain of thick black hair.
“Hey. I didn’t want to scare you,” I said.
She leaped gracefully onto the nondescript beige carpeting. “What are you doing here? Didn’t you go to class?”
“I went to math, but I don’t feel very well,” I said. That was true, at least. I had nearly thrown up in the hallway. There was no way I could sit through another class.
“Are you alright?” she asked, her eyes widening in concern.
“I…I just,” I choked on the requisite fine that both of us expected. “I needed to lie down.”
“No shock there. We went to bed around two and there was definitely no sign of you,” she teased.
“I was late, although don’t get too excited. That wasn’t why,” I warned. “Speaking of, when I feel better I’m going to kill you.”
“Why? What did I do?” Caroline’s eyes widened.
“I just happened to pull out your condoms with my wallet at the restaurant. I thought I would die of embarrassment,” I accused.
Caroline’s hand flew over her mouth to stifle a giggle. “Oh shit. I’m sure you were appalled. What did he say?”
“He was cool about it,” I said, remembering his easy laugh and his reassuring hand on my arm, where it had then stayed, lightly but deliberately.