This was the moment she had simultaneously dreaded and excitedly anticipated. So close that he could likely feel her heart pounding and hear her mind fighting to decide whether to stay put or back away.
Her eyes were drawn to his lips, butterflies battering her stomach, nerves closing her throat. She swallowed hard and forced her eyes up to his. She found there patience, but longing. He too had known this was only a matter of time.
The question now was whether she could allow it to happen. She had pulled away on that first day of term, not even giving him a chance to prove that he meant what he said – that nothing could change the way he felt about her. But that was what she did, what she had always done; erected walls around herself, to protect herself from pain. It had worked, mostly. Attachments had been on her terms and she had never invested deeply enough to be hurt when they ended. But Eddie was different. Despite the walls and the refusal to fall for him, it had hurt every day to see him with someone else. It didn’t matter that she had never let him know how she felt; that she had never let him tell her of his feelings. The relationship had never even started yet it crushed her to see it end.
So, the real question was, could she carry on watching him from afar, wondering what could have happened?
His breath tickled across her cheeks as he breathed out, sending a shiver through her body that brought with it a giddy exhilaration. A smile tugged at her lips as she realised she had her answer: She couldn’t fight this any longer. She ducked her head slightly as she felt a blush rise to her cheeks.
“Rachel?” Eddie whispered, his voice just carrying above the noise of the activity around them.
She lifted her eyes to meet his and felt her heart rate increase as their gazes locked and it became clear that he wasn’t going to pull away.
“Don’t fight this,” Eddie asked of her, his hands landing lightly on her waist, his body moving closer to hers.
She couldn’t help her smile at his words. “I don’t intend to,” she whispered and without another thought for the reasons why she shouldn’t do it, she closed the space between them and pressed her lips to his.
She felt Eddie’s momentary shock, as it took a second for him to respond to the kiss, but then his lips moved beneath hers and his grip on her hips tightened. She melted into him; every thought, every doubt, dissolving to nothingness as everything became about him; them; this moment. It didn’t feel awkward, it wasn’t scary; it just felt right.
The kiss ended when they needed air, and uncontrollable smiles crept onto their faces as they stared at each other.
Rachel breathed deeply, calming down her heart and the excitement in her head. Then she smirked teasingly and said, “After I beat you, do you fancy coming back to mine for coffee?”
Eddie laughed. “Oh, after I beat you, I would love to.”
They shared another smile and then Rachel said, “Well we’d better get on with it then. Prepare to lose.”
She turned away from him, her grin growing even further once her back was to him.
“I think you should take your own advice, Rachel,” Eddie called after her.
Giddy with anticipation for the rest of their evening, Rachel glanced back. “Bring it on, Lawson.”