[Happy Wednesday, Heather.]
"Was it awkward?"
I looked up from my miserable attempt at physics homework to see Murph turned around in his desk chair. It was a change of scenery for me, doing homework in the fishbowl as opposed to the lounge on the fourth floor. Dev was at a mandatory movie thing for Soc and Murph was workin' on something. Or flat-out Facebookin'. Not that it mattered.
Well, okay, maybe it did matter in the grand scheme but right now neither of us gave a shit.
"Was what awkward?" Call me clueless. It should have been my default setting.
Murph closed the lid on the laptop and turned to straddle the uncomfortable wooden chair the Colleges provided in every room. "Being at the game by yourself."
Oh. That. Ridiculously awkward, truthfully. "Not bad."
His eyebrows crawled for his hairline.
I ducked my head, cheeks burning. "Okay, it was awkward as hell." Put aside my papers and grinned in a slightly chagrined way. "I didn't know where to sit." Which had been the least of my problems that afternoon. Between that, wearing Murph's hat (the sweatshirt seemed a little much), and having no one to talk to between plays, it had been more of a nightmare, really. A semi-social nightmare I didn't want to repeat anytime soon.
"You didn't know who they were, did you?" There was only gentle amusement in his eyes. And a kind of understanding.
"Not a clue. And, I don't want you to feel bad, but I probably wouldn't have sat with them because it would have been the first time meeting them and I'd like to have you there for that."
The unspoken just like when you meet my parents hung between us, practically tangible.
Which, actually, led to my next question. When I worked up the courage to ask it.
"Yeah," he said. "I know what you mean."
Glad one of us did.
I twirled a curl between two fingers. I'd been leaving my hair down a lot more recently. Murph liked my curls and, well, it made me feel more feminine in contrast to slide-tackling an opposing player a couple times a week and generally channeling my more manly side. It was also one of those easy ways to make my boyfriend's hazel eyes soften without much effort. Not that I wouldn't make an effort, but sometimes the easy stuff was worth just as much as the stuff that required a ton of effort.
Murph, however, would always be well worth whatever I needed to give.
To a point. I wasn't a completely moron about some things.
"Murph." I looked at him fully, fighting the urge to fidget with Smokey. The stuffed dragon sat to my left, balanced upright by dark red pillows. "Look, you don't have to answer right away, and I won't mind if you say no, but I just wanted to ask you because it might be something you want to do. Or you might not want to because it might be too soon." Rambling much, Olivia? Holy shit.
Murph stood, crossing the three steps to the bed and planting his palms on the mattress on either side of my hips. He brushed his cheek against mine as he whispered in my ear, "Breathe. Slow down, and breathe." He backed up enough for me to look at without going cross-eyed. "What's up?"
"What are you doin' on Sunday?"
He shruggled. "Nothin'."
"Not that I'm aware of."
Took a deep breath. Then another. "Do you want to come with me to my house for dinner?" Where I'd found the focus and courage to ask that much was a total freakin' mystery.
"You mean where you live when you don't live here?"
Maybe I wasn't the only one with...issues. "Yeah. With my parents, and my sister and niece, probably, too and if you don't want to I understand and it's fine, really - "
"Yes," he blurted, stopping me mid-ramble. I stared. "Yes. I want to come to dinner at your house. With your family."
Could I kiss him? Was that a good way to show relief? Either way, it was what I did, and I don't think he minded.
He touched his nose to mine, hands now close enough to rub the outside seam on my jeans with his thumbs. "Stay tonight?" he asked softly.
This was the first time - other than when that creeper had tried my door - that we were considering spending the night together during the week. It was usually only on the weekend - Friday and Saturday - and the other five nights I slept in my own bed with only Edgar to snuggle with. We hadn't talked about keeping it strictly to weekends. We hadn't talked about it at all.
Then again, with my tendency to over-think and subsequently freak out, maybe discussing things like that wasn't something we should do. Seemed to be doin' just fine on our own.
I was nodding before my brain had worked out I was saying yes. "Yeah, I'll stay tonight. The room's locked."
There had been a bit of time to kill once lab had gotten over with, and having the necessary books and things - in preparation of some time between that and practice - had meant spending a couple hours in the library had been a necessity. Which meant I hadn't been back to the room since leaving that morning.
"I've got stuff you can borrow." He pulled back, flushing. "If you want. If you'd be more comfortable in your own, I get that - "
Cue flaming cheeks. "I'm a little lazy right now, so if you've got anything you can spare, that'd be fine by me."
"I think I can find somethin'." He kissed my jaw. "How much do you have left?"
"Bit more physics and maybe some reading for T-S Britain." Which, considering he was a history major, why wasn't he in class with me? "Murph?"
"Yeah?" He retreated to the dresser. "Shorts, sweats, boxers?"
Care to add a stroke to that list with that last option? I'm not good with too many choices - picking a phone during my two-year upgrade? Takes hours. "Why aren't you in my class?"
"Well, you're a chem major, and in the science group for the teaching cert - " Forgot about that - "but for Kennessette's class, I've already taken it." He held up a pair of plaid boxers. Red plaid to match the comforter. Probably not intentionally. "These okay?"
I nodded. "How did you manage that?" There's a whole lot of information that comes through the newly made college email account in August - stuff about roommates, meal plans, and general information about campus - and there's also pre-made academic schedules that seem like they don't come with much wiggle room to change anything.
Then again, a science major has a pretty set, slightly unmovable path, anyway.
"I was supposed to take this four hour film course thing and that was not something I wanted to do." He held up the shirt I'd worn my first nap during pre-season. "So I took two of Kennessette's classes concurrently." He grinned. "Add-Drop forms are great."
That they were. "Oh." He tossed my new pajamas to my left while physics and I got reacquainted. And promptly decided this was a head-desk moment of epic proportions. Hate physics. With a passion. "Would that be why you get the Tudors and the Stuarts backward sometimes?"
"Like you flip the noble gases and the alkaline metals."
Touche. And why that happened was still a mystery to me.
Murph slid into his chair and opened the lid on the laptop; I went back to physics - half-assed using vectors - and more or less zoned out until he started chuckling.
"What?" Looking up at him was not required.
"Do you always swear like a sailor when you get frustrated with homework?"
That made me look up. He was straddling the chair again, smiling. "Was I talking to myself again?" Wouldn't be the first time. Or the last.
"More like swearing at every physics-related thing under the sun." He grinned. "I think it's cute. Funny, but cute."
Only for Murph would my potty mouth be cute.
I bit my lip, ducking my head. "You are somethin' else, Murphy." Somethin' else which had completely stolen my heart.
Somethin' else to break me in a couple months when this invariably went south.
"You know what?"
He rested his elbows on the back of the chair, curling his ankles around the legs. It was really the only way to be comfortable in those godawful chairs. He gave me his hit me look.
"I'm thinkin' I'm done for the night." Seriously. Freakin' despise physics. Snuggling with Murph? So much better than vectors and shit I don't understand and therefore get frustrated with.
"I like that thought."
Really? No kidding. You like almost everything that involves me pressed against your chest. Which is fine by me, too.
It took a couple minutes for me to repack my bag - so as not to forget anything in the morning - and he was the one changing in the bathroom this time. The boxers had to be rolled, the t-shirt was...big (no other way to accurately describe it) and everything smelled almost overwhelmingly of Murph. Tonight it was my clothes piled in his desk chair, my wallet next to his on the desk. I leaned against the bed, barefoot and contemplating how much and how well we fit.
And how hard letting go would be.
If there was a way for me to not be so uncharacteristically pessimistic, that would be fabulous.
"Murphy?" That was Dev's voice out in the hall. "Lock yourself out again?"
"Funny." Murph this time. One good - and bad - thing about living in a the fishbowl is that someone could be sitting on the couch on the other side of the lounge and sound like they were standing at the foot of the bed. That was with the door closed. "Ollie's in there. Changing."
Maybe this was not a conversation to be overhearing.
"Yeah. I - I asked her to. I know we usually do this on weekends - "
"Murphy. Not a big deal. S'not like you're attached at the hip. You guys have a better balance than you and Manda did last year."
That was heading into dangerous territory; could practically see Murph bristle through the blinds.
"Yeah. Ollie's not Manda. She's..."
"I know. I get it. So shut up before you embarrass yourself."
I grinned. Then padded across the room and opened the door, startling the boys so much Murph nearly dropped his jeans, Dev having found him waiting after he'd changed. "If you two are done having a bromantic moment, I'd like to steal my boyfriend and get around six hours of sleep."
Figured to catch hell from the bromance remark, but Dev slid right past that, pointed to my thighs, and asked, "Are you wearing pants?"
Murph did drop his jeans at that one - shirt, too - and punched Dev on the arm.
"What? It's a valid question," he squawked, rubbing his arm and gesturing in my direction. "It looks like you don't have any pants on."
I lifted the shirt hem, giving him a half-assed stink eye. "Pants." With that, I went back in the room, crawled in bed, curled around Smokey, and started slowly counting to ten. Murph and Dev were in the room by four, Murph in bed by nine, and thanking Dev for getting the lights shortly after he finished curling around me. He kissed the back of my neck.
"For the record," he murmured, "I don't have a bromance with my roommate. We're not the lacrosse team."
Oh, snap! I snorted. "Don't let them hear you say that."
He chuckled, one hand up under the shirt and flat on my belly. "They're good guys." He shrugged impossibly closer; Smokey was nearly strangled against my chest. Dev tapped quietly on his laptop, Beethoven barely audible in the quiet. Neither of us minded - it was almost like a lullaby.