For the first time in weeks, Keeley woke up feeling refreshed and rested. She didn't know how that was possible though, after the night they’d had. Physically and emotionally, it’d been a night of firsts and revelations, she realized as her eyes scanned the room and landed on the wheelchair beside the bed. What an emotional night. What an emotional night.
But, she thought as she turned over and looked at Clay, who was still sleeping peacefully, his brown chestnut brown hair rumpled and his mouth slightly agape, it turned out all right, didn’t it Keels?
She slipped slowly out of bed so as not to disturb him, grabbed the tee shirt sitting on his chair, slipped it over her head, and headed to the kitchen, trying to make coffee and breakfast as quietly as possible. Small feat, Keeley Burns, she laughed to herself.
Keeley Burns, PhD. A warm feeling washed over her as she remembered that and all the emotionally intense stuff from the night before left her mind for a brief moment. She did a little jig as she looked for a spoon to measure the coffee with.
As the coffee brewed and she tried to scramble some eggs, she let her mind come down off of the success high and think again about last night. About how good it felt to be so intimate like that with Clay. She remembered how he looked when she explored his body; how he didn’t swat her away like he normally tried to. She flushed as she remembered how she reacted when he explored hers.
They’d been dating for a few months; it’s not like it was their first time sleeping together. But—even though they didn’t go all the way—it was like it was the first time they’d made love. The first time he had fully trusted her and let her in.
Keeley hadn’t felt this way in such a long time. Light and ethereal because of a guy. She’d forgotten what it was like.
Ah, there were still some things she had questions about. The foremost of these in her mind being what exactly did Clay mean by preparation? She sighed aloud. Not that she was going to go there again any time soon. “No more questions, Keels,” she said to herself with a small ironic laugh, as she scrapped at the eggs that were sticking to the bottom of the skillet. “Well, at least they’re not smoking,” she mumbled, sliding them onto a waiting plate.
“No, but you are,” she heard a deep voice behind her say.
Keeley set the plate on the counter in front of him, rolled her eyes and grinned. “That was terrible, Mr. Whitlow.”
Clay grinned crookedly and shrugged as he wheeled towards her. She noticed he had a strange look on his face. He grabbed her around the waist and pulling her down into his lap, close against his bare chest. He nuzzled her neck and whispered, “I love you, Keels.”
She sucked her breath in and tensed up. It was a knee-jerk reaction, she couldn’t help it. She wiggled around in his lap and turned to face him. The look in his green eyes was so intense; the look of complete and utter adoration on his face unmistakable. Keeley felt strange inside, her stomach was full of butterflies and she had this weird welling feeling in her chest. She cupped the side of her face with her hand and kissed him gently on the lips. Keeley closed her eyes and leaned her forehead against his. “Clay . . .” she breathed, her voice almost cracking. “I made eggs…” Keeley felt him shake his head. “I worked so hard not to burn them . . .”
Clay laughed softly.
A thousand thoughts were running through Keeley’s head. She remembered how she’d felt when they were sitting around the campfire with Tuck and Sarah, how everything felt natural and right. She remembered how she’d felt this morning when she woke up in Clay’s bed after an amazing and emotional night. She remembered how great Clay had been the past two weeks, never distracting her (except with food) and how he made he feel special. She thought back to how much she’d missed him while she’d been working on her dissertation—how really, all she’d wanted was to be with him. She remembered how even through their marriage, Brent had never made her feel quite as special or quite as extraordinary as Clay Whitlow did.
A tear slipped out of her eye as she realized she loved Clay too. She opened her eyes, meeting his. He wiped the tear off her cheek with his thumb. “I don’t know why I’m tearing up,” she said. “I just . . . I . . .” she kissed his mouth. “I love you too.”
Clay smiled and hugged her tighter; he kissed her tenderly and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Those eggs will still be good in a little while, you know,” he said with the mischievous grin that she’d grown to love over the past few months. He kissed her again. Keeley giggled at his implications and nodded at the bedroom. Clay waggled his eyebrows at her and wheeled them that way.
“Sorry I’m late,” Keeley said in a rush as she slid into the booth beside Jan. She took a sip of the margarita her best friend had waiting for her.
“Now you’re a PhD you think you can just show up whenever you want, huh?” Jan replied with a raised eyebrow. Then she bust into laughter.
Keeley rolled her eyes. Nodding at the margarita, “That’s not your first one, is it?”
Jan grinned. “Ten years of your tardiness, it’s driven me to drinking.”
The friends shared in a laugh as the waiter came up to take their order. Over dinner and margaritas, Keeley recounted every bit of her defense to her best friend, from start to finish. She told her of how Brent had called right before, to which Jan responded colorfully.
“What else is there, babes?” Jan asked as they were paying the check a few minutes later. “You look like there’s something on your mind.”
Keeley grinned and nodded. “We said it.”
Jan literally screamed in the middle of the restaurant and ran around to Keeley’s side of the booth. She hugged her tightly around the shoulders, still squealing. “How?! What’d you say back at first?”
“I just tried to get him to eat his eggs before I said anything.”
Jan smacked her in the arm. “You’re never going to learn how to not be awkward, are you?”
“Probably not,” Keeley laughed. “But, he loves my awkwardness and bad jokes and terrible cooking skills, so. . .”
Jan squealed again. Then she raised an eyebrow. Before Jan could drunkenly and loudly ask if they’d had sex, she nodded and grinned sheepishly. “Tell you about it over froyo?”
Jan was up and out of that booth in two seconds.