Your eyes are pretty

Your lips are too


Bobbi, my darling

I’m miserable without you

She examined the card for a long time before carefully tucking it into one of her jeans pockets. A headache was forming above her brow, and she slunk up to her bedroom, deciding to forego dinner in favor of a good night’s sleep.

“Bobbi,” her name was whispered directly into her ear and Bobbi sighed, before murmuring a protest and turning over in bed. “Bobbi, wake up.”

She groaned and batted at the person hovering above her. Her hand made contact with warm flesh.

“Ouch.” She frowned at the muffled exclamation and opened her eyes in confusion. The light was still off and she could just make out the dark silhouette of the man in her room outlined against the slightly lighter backdrop of the window.

“What . . .” She sat up and clutched her comforter to her chest, staring at the large figure in fright. “Who . . . ?”

“Ssh, don’t panic,” the very familiar voice whispered frantically. “It’s me.”

“Gabe? What are you doing here? Who let you in?”

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“I wanted to come in through the window, like in the old days.” He and Chase had often climbed the rose trellis below her second floor window and snuck into the house when they were children, and the three of them would then slink into Billy’s room and they would spend the night playing. By the time Faye would come to wake them up in the morning, the four of them would be piled on Billy’s bed, fast asleep, which had always resulted in a severe scolding from their parents, but it had never deterred them from doing it again.

“You didn’t?” She gasped, and could just make him shaking his head in the gloomy light.

“I think your security guys would probably have had me arrested if I’d attempted it. No I came in through the front door and your dad very happily told me where to find you—after ordering me to get rid of the orange and purple ‘monstrosities’ that were stinking up his house.” His voice was warm and engaging, clearly inviting her to join in his amusement, but Bobbi was too appalled by his presence in her room to feel anything other than alarm.

“My dad knows you’re up here?” she squeaked. “Oh God!”

“Relax,” Gabe soothed. “Firstly, you’re not exactly a teenager sneaking her boyfriend into her room, and secondly, your dad doesn’t know that I have licentious designs on your hot little body, now does he?”

“Of course he doesn’t,” she agreed bitterly. “Why would he? It’s not like it’s anything you wanted people to know.”

He didn’t respond to that and the silence seemed much too oppressive in the dark room. Bobbi reached for the lamp switch and flooded the area directly around the bed in a small pool of warm, yellow light. She still couldn’t see him clearly because he sat just outside the tiny circle of light, but she knew that he could see her and she immediately felt at a disadvantage.

“Why are you here?” she asked, keeping her voice cold as she folded her arms self-consciously across her chest.

“To see you.” The unspoken duh following those three words was so clear that he might as well have said it.

“I don’t want to see you. I want you to leave,” she said in her most authoritative voice. It lost its impact somewhat when the speaker was wearing a Daisy Duck nightshirt.

“Who are you going to the Valentine’s Day Ball with?” he asked unexpectedly, and she lifted her chin defiantly.

“None of your business,” she informed haughtily.

“Kyle Foster?”

“So what if I am?” She wasn’t going with Kyle; she had politely informed the man that while she liked him, it just wasn’t fair of her to keep seeing him when she was in love with another man. It would be like doing to someone else what had been done to her, and she understood the pain of unrequited love and passion too much to inflict it on someone else. He had very graciously conceded her point and had backed off.

“I would rather you went with me,” Gabe said.

“Well, I’m not. I’d hate to embarrass you in front of your colleagues with my lack of dress sense and grimy fingernails,” she said pointedly.

“I’d be honored to have you by my side,” he said, after a pause.

“Would you now?” she scoffed. “What if I chose to wear a tank top and jeans?”

“I don’t see why you would,” he said stiffly. “Your dad wouldn’t be happy.”

“Oh so you’re banking on me looking semi-respectable because I wouldn’t want to embarrass my father?”

“Bobbi, I know that what I said the other night hurt you, but you have to admit . . . the way you dress sometimes just wouldn’t suit my lifestyle.”

She swallowed painfully.

“And that’s why it’s best if we just aren’t together,” she said pragmatically, attempting to disguise the pain in her eyes by lowering her gaze to the comforter. “I can’t possibly fit into your life and you won’t fit into mine. I was never interested in the elegant dinners and the fancy events that my dad hosted when we were growing up. I’m still not. I wouldn’t have the faintest idea how to speak to some of the people you deal with. You were right, we were just never meant to be more than friends.”

“I never said that,” he protested.

“You implied it when you said that the way I am never bothered you when we were just friends. If being with you in a more intimate capacity means changing who I am, then I’m afraid it’s too big a sacrifice for me to make.”

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