William Nylander - Part 4
Four days pass. I don’t text Will. Rian hounds me about it every day. She says that I’m being a bitch. I don’t think I’m being too irrational, he mangled my damn face. The swelling as gone down completely and I’m able to cover the stitches with a bandage, even looking in the mirror now the black and purple has turned into yellow.
I’m able to cover the remaining bruises with makeup and balance out my face somewhat decently. Nathan said that he would take my stitches out in a few days for me. He’s still been mother hen over me, checking every day that there are no signs of a concussion. I had to make Rian promise not to tell him or Jake about Nylander giving me his number. At first she had pouted, but she understood. What I wanted more than anything was to not hurt Nathan’s feelings.
I let him take me out yesterday, mostly because I was tired of him asking. I was pleasantly surprised at what he had planned for us. No fancy dinner or movie, just a walk through downtown Toronto. Our coats pulled tight around us and our hoods up, but our fingers entwined through thick gloves. Ice cream may sound crazy for a Canada winter, but we couldn’t help ourselves and the parlor had been warmer than outside.
We had finished the night at the front door of my apartment, he didn’t ask to come in and I didn’t offer. Instead he had kissed me for the first time. A feather light brush at first, then a little firmer. It had felt nice, a pleasant warmth had flowed through my veins and I kissed him back. Nathan had smiled at me when he pulled away, the faint tingle from his lips remaining on my own. We said goodnight to each other and he waited until I closed the door and peeked through the peep hole to walk back down the hall to the elevator.
Now my phone buzzed on the countertop, interrupting my dancing and singing as I do my hair.
I had fun last night. Hopefully you let me take you out again tomorrow?
Against my better judgement, I smile down at the screen. I do care about Nathan, but now I’m even more confused about what I’m doing. We have a beautiful friendship, my only constant companion since I was six years old and I accidently broke his nose with a basketball. Do I want to ruin that? I hesitate before I reply back.
I heard the theater is having a play
You wanna go?
Play it is
I should smile, I get to go watch Shakespeare. Instead my stomach sinks, an uncomfortable feeling taking place instead. What am I doing?
I take a deep breath and return my attention to my hair, straightening every tendril meticulously. I need a distraction. After a few minutes of pondering, I walk back into my office and see the stack of manuscripts has been depleted, and I’m still waiting on a few more to come in, so I have a free day.
Grabbing my purse, I head out of my apartment and to my car waiting in the adjourning parking lot. Dusting the snow and ice off, I hop in and head towards the mall. Being a Sunday, the place is a madhouse. After hunting down a parking spot and I pull my hood up and trudge through the freshly plowed parking lot. Getting inside, I hit my usual targets. After a trip back to my car to dump off the heavy bags that had laden my hands, I go back inside for the place that takes me the longest.
I step inside the shop and inhale, the smell of new books is intoxicating. I float down the long aisle, wondering where I should start first. Mystery? Sports? Drama? Young adult? I quickly skip over the romance. That’s not my forte.
I decide on the sports section first, seeing what’s new and what I haven’t already got on my bookshelf at home. I dodge between people without seeing faces, my eyes only for the covers and words before me. Unfortunately, I don’t find any that I don’t already have or that interests me. Instead I make my way down to the young adult section, being twenty I still think I qualify.
My hands flirt over each cover, grabbing at random and ignoring covers, reading the words inside the flap first. I take my time, picking up several and putting them back. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle and I stiffen, I glance around and don’t see another person for the first time I’ve walked into this store. But I can feel someone.
I narrow my eyes and stalk slowly down the aisle, peeking around the corner and again see no one. Confused, I turn back to where I had been standing in time to see the tail of a coat disappear behind the next aisle. Rolling my eyes, I make my way back to where I had left off and continue my search. Out of the corner of my eye I see movement to my right, but I ignore it.
Only when I round the corner to go into the next aisle of YA shelves do I catch a whiff of something familiar. I’m brought back to the ACC, into the small room where my face had gotten stitches and where Mr. Blue Eyes had held my hand. I chew on the inside of my cheek for a moment and plot an idea. I can still feel him in the general area, my senses hyper aware in the impossibly quiet store. But I guess books will do that to people, it feels like a library so why wouldn’t people speak in soft tones.
I circle around a few aisles and pick a book up at random and lean against the end cap, flipping open the front cover and reading the synopsis. He appears before me, looking the opposite way, not seeing me until I speak.
“You know, growing up with two younger brothers I learned how to play a lot of games,” I say nonchalantly, slapping the book closed and looking up at Will. “And I learned how to play them very well. You play hide and seek long enough, they always come to you.”
He eyes me for a moment, not a trace of embarrassment crossing his face, only amusement.
“Two younger brothers you say? Try having two little sisters,” he says after a beat, putting his hands in his pockets and smiling softly at me.
“I have one. You reduced her to a puddle the other day at the pizza place,” I reply, moving back down the aisle to return the book to its rightful place.
“That was your sister? I don’t see a resemblance,” he says, following after me and watching my hand flicker book to book.
“You’re right, she could pass as your sister more so than mine,” I say not looking back at him.
“How old are you brothers?” He asks to my surprise.
“Twins, twelve year old crazy boys,” I say, a smile finding its way onto my face. “Lucky they have hockey to get their energy out, otherwise I think my parents would both have gray hair by now. Rian as well for that matter.”
Will eyes me, a smile on his face. “So you’re the oldest?”
“I could tell.”
My eyes flash to his and I frown. “How?”
“The way you talk about them,” is his reply, brushing past to me to stand on my other side and I turn my head to keep him in my sights.
“How do I talk about them? I barely said anything,” I question and he laughs.
“I could just tell. Something tells me you’ve never missed your brother’s games, or Rian’s for that matter if she indeed plays anything,” he picks a book at random and opens the front cover like he’s been watching me do.
I pause for a moment before reaching out and taking the book from him. It’s the one I had been looking for. I tap the cover and show him it’s the third book of a series and he gives me a goofy smile that causes my cheeks to heat for some reason.
“You can’t tell all that from just a few words,” I eye him before moving farther down the aisle, forcing him to back up a few steps. “By the way, the whole stalking thing?” I raise my eyebrows at him and he has the decency to blush.
“First time I’ll admit, I went there to see you. Here was purely coincidence, I swear,” Will says and I laugh and immediately his face lights up.
“Don’t worry, I’m into it,” I tease and wink at him before walking behind him and make my way to the register.
I think I catch him off guard, which was what I wanted. Though he catches up to me quickly, he’s a few inches taller than me and his legs are longer.
“Glad it didn’t make you run away screaming,” he says, a grin on his face and I have to smile back.
“Who says that’s not what I’m doing right now, just acting calm so I don’t tip you off and give you time to run away?” I ask, my tone serious but he just rolls his eyes at me.
“You would have done that five minutes ago,” he replies and I roll my eyes.
“Maybe I wanted you to admit that you were stalking me.”
“I didn’t, I told you it was chance that I saw you here. I walk in through this store because it’s usually not as busy as the rest of the mall, easier to go unnoticed,” he says and I notice the hat on his head is pulled down and the way he’s been staring at the floor pretty much the entire time we’ve been walking.
I nod slowly and get in line for the register, to my surprise Will stays with me. I eye him questionably and he knows what I’m asking.
“You never texted me,” he says simply and I again nod.
I shrug my shoulders and lower my gaze. “I didn’t think there was anything for you to make up for.”
Will stands in silence until it’s my turn to pay. He hovers at my elbow, keeping his head down, focused on me.
When we get to the exit that leads back out into the mall he catches my elbow in his hand. I stop walking and stare at him.
“Get a coffee with me at least?” He asks, his blue eyes searching mine as he waits for my answer.
“Why?” I ask.
“Because I like talking to you and would like to do it some more,” he replies without hesitation and I again blink at how forward he is.
“You know, it’s weird having someone give answers to everything you ask,” I say slowly and nudge him in the direction of the food court.
“I don’t see a point in avoiding questions. It only creates more,” Will says and I nod thoughtfully. “Speaking of which, I had a question to ask you.”
Immediately I get that apprehensive feeling in my stomach that I get whenever says those words.
“Okay, what is it?” I ask, keeping my eyes down by my feet and relying on Will to steer me in the right direction.
“That guy that was holding the towel to your face at the game, is he your uh…” Will asks slowly and for the first time I hear uncertainty in his tone.
I have to laugh when I reply. “Boyfriend?”
Will just nods and avoids my eyes. I think for a moment, pondering his question and thinking back to last night.
Eventually I shake my head slowly. “No, Will. Nathan is not my boyfriend.”
He viably relaxes next to me and I laugh again.
“Why were you so tense?” I ask him, looking up to see him staring at me again.
“Didn’t know if I was possibly stepping on someone’s toes,” he answers, another smile on his face.
“Why? It’s only coffee,” I tilt my head at him and give him a grin.
This time he rolls his eyes at me. “I probably should have mentioned that coffee to me means a date.” He teases back, or is he teasing?
I press my lips together for a moment, thinking and he glances back down at me. Clearly pleased with himself because of the stupid grin still on his pretty boy face.
“Wow so needy. Don’t text a boy back and he comes and finds me,” I say eventually, nudging him with my elbow.
“What can I say? My dad always told me if you find something you want, do whatever it takes to get it. No matter how low you have to stoop,” he says and I give him a skeptical look. “I don’t kid about my dad, Y/N.” Will tries to say with a straight face but when I burst out giggling he can’t help but laugh too.
We get in line for our coffee and I stand closer to him than I really need to but he doesn’t seem to mind. He nods me ahead of him when it’s our turn and produces his wallet before I can protest.
“Thank you,” I say begrudgingly when we step to the side to wait for our order to come out.
“Least I can do,” he replies. His eyes slowly moving across my face to my eye that I’m sure he can tell is still a different color than the rest of my face. I freeze when he raises his hand slowly runs his thumb across the band aide and then just under my eye. My lips part not because of any pain, but because of the sharp flash of heat and tingles that rampage through my body.
His eyes flash down to my parted lips and slowly lowers his hand back down to his side, his own lips forming into a smile. Will brings his eyes up to mine and reaches to the side to retrieve both our coffees from the barista that I hadn’t even heard speak.
He leads me over to secluded table and takes the seat facing away from the majority of people. I sit across him and pull my coffee to me, pressing both my hands around the cup and sigh at the warmth. Will watches me silently, leaning back in his seat comfortably and stretching one leg out so it’s nearly touching me.
“Sure you don’t want a smaller table?” I ask sarcastically, referring to the table that’s less than two feet across.
Will grins at that. “Intimate,” is all he says and my cheeks heat again, my eyes dropping back down to my coffee. I can feel his eyes on my and press my lips together.
“Why don’t you take a picture,” I snap at him without looking up.
He chuckles and brings his cup to his lips and I fight the urge to watch him.
“You’re a funny girl, Y/N,’ he says, placing his cup back down on the table and pushing it back and forth between his hands.
“What do you mean?” I ask him, glancing up, grateful that his eyes are still on his cup.
“You seem like you don’t want to be here with me, yet here you are,” he says quietly.
I bite my lip before answering. “I just wasn’t sure if I should be here or not,” I reply just as quietly and his eyes meet mine once again.
I shrug. “I just kind of feel like you’re trying to make up something to me that I don’t need,” I say slowly, knowing my words probably don’t make sense but then again my brain scatters every time he looks at me.
He nods slowly, raising his cup again to take a drink and I know it’s only so he can think before he speaks.
“I’m not trying to make anything up to you, Y/N. Do I feel bad about your face? Yes. But you weren’t seriously hurt and it was an accident. Me giving you my number and saying that apparently wasn’t my best idea. I wanted to you to text or call me. And that was the only way I could think of doing it without you completely discarding it,” he explains, keeping his eyes on his hands the whole time.
“You could have just given it to me, I probably would have done exactly what you wanted,” I say after a moment, a smile on my face. Will looks up at me in surprise.
“I only didn’t text you because I thought you felt guilty,” I say and take a drink of my own coffee.
He eyes me a moment, a slow smile crossing his face as I watch.
“So, you do want to be here…” Will says slowly and I laugh.
“I wouldn’t still be sitting here if I didn’t,” I bite my lip and tilt my head.
His eyes flash to my mouth and back again.
“Thank god,” he says and downs the last of his coffee.