I watched her with bated breath as my words slowly sank in. I could see each and every emotion flicker across her face. First, she merely blinked at me before quietly chuckling almost nervously. Aerolynn sat up and raked a hand back through her dark silky hair. She glanced down at me; her face showed a mixture of fear and happiness.
To be honest this wasn't quite the response I had thought I was going to get. Sure, I expected her to be shocked, but then I figured that shock would turn into overwhelming joy. The more she stayed silent though, the more nervous I became. I started thinking that maybe telling her had been a bad idea. Even though I knew that telling her now may not be the best of times, I figured she needed to know where my feelings lie. I didn't want to keep her balancing on the thin line of how I felt about her. I didn't want her to have any more doubts. I wanted her to be confident in the way I felt about her so she could proudly and gladly say that I, Zak Bagans, was in love with her, Aerolynn Richards.
She quickly turned away when she saw how sad I had become at her lack of response. Did I misjudge things? Is she not attracted to me the way I thought she was? Had my kissing her so suddenly been too forward and aggressive? But she didn't seem to dislike it…she kissed me back. Why was I having all of these doubts like some schoolgirl that just received the first text from her crush with a smiley face? This wasn't who I was. I didn't get all choked up and embarrassed like this. What was wrong with me? Why did my heart feel like it was breaking right now all because she had yet to respond to my confession?
Well, whatever this feeling was I wanted it to stop.
But I had a feeling that this ache would only grow as time went on.
All I could do was sit there and stare. I mean…what else could I do at the sudden confession? Ok, scratch that. There were plenty of other things I could do, but that's not irrelevant at the moment. What is relevant is that Zak Bagans, THE Zak Bagans, had just said the words I have dreamed of him saying to me for years. I had even planned out how I would react in a situation like that and this was NOT what I had planned out. At all. I should be jumping up and down on the hospital bed, kissing him like crazy, and repeating those same words. By him saying this, it erased any sort of doubt in my mind of how he felt about me.
So why couldn't I find myself able to move and express to him my happiness at those words?
When I had seen his bluish-hazel eyes lower in sadness, my heart had sunk down into the depths of my stomach because I knew I had caused that sad look in his eyes. Something I had never wanted to see caused by me. But I was still so shell-shocked over what had just occurred a little more than a couple of days ago from when he had swept into the restaurant and kissed me. And now he was telling me he loved me? Don't get me wrong, my heart was about to burst with joy, but there was still that little itch in the back of my mind. That small itch you always seem to get at the worst or happiest times of your life that make you stop and THINK. We had been together for no more than three days and we were apart for four months. Was it possible to know you were in love in such a short time together, but a long time apart?
From what I have read before, based on a psychological study, a crush only lasts a maximum of four months. If it exceeds…then you are in love. But you figure that would apply to the fact that you spent a lot of time around each other. Maybe not though. I knew there had been something between us just on that first day when we met and butted heads.
I released a long sigh and turned to look at Zak.
He held up his hand to stop me. He shook his head. "It's alright. You don't have to say anything. I understand," he quietly replied.
"Zak, just lis—"
Zak sat up continuously shaking his head. He propped his foot up on the bed and rested his arm on his knee. He dragged a hand down his face.
"What I said was uncalled for. I shouldn't have sprung that on you during a moment like this. I'm sorry," he apologized standing up from the bed.
"No, Zak, if you woul—" I tried to explain.
He cut me off again. "It's alright, Aerolynn, really it is. I just wanted you to know where my feelings stand. Anyways, I should probably let you get some re—"
"Goddamn it, Zak, would you just fucking listen to me for one goddamn second, please?" I angrily shouted. He glanced back at me, eyes wide with alarm.
"You're not allowing me to talk and explain my end of things. You're just making an ass of yourself by automatically assuming things that you don't even know are true or not," I snapped.
He folded his arms and motioned for me to continue.
"What I was GOING to say before you decided to interrupt me three damn times," I growled, "was that I don't feel disgusted, angry, or what other negative emotion you had going through your head. I'm just…overwhelmed at the moment. First, you leave me for four months and don't so much as even call me to make sure I'm doing ok. Then you just suddenly waltz back into my life and sweep me up into this searing, passionate kiss. Not that I'm saying I mind, but then I get shot that very day and wake up two days later to hear you telling me you love me. Do you see how I might not be as joyous as you may have first thought? There are too many things going on at once for me to fully process right now!" I explained.
Zak continued to stare at me after I finished with my little speech that he wouldn't let me get out the first three times. After a while he nodded his head.
"Alright, I understand," he softly agreed.
"Good," I sighed although I was sure he still didn't quite get what I was trying to tell him. Then again I wouldn't immediately understand either if the person I loved showed no reaction to me saying I love you to them.
I patted the empty, now cold spot next to me where his large, warm body had previously been lying.
"Now will you please come back to bed and keep me company through the rest of tonight?"
For a split second, I saw Zak hesitate like he wasn't sure if it would be a good idea or not. But then he smiled a small crooked grin and lay back down on the bed beside me. He pulled me down to lie across his chest. We were back to our former position before he had gotten up the courage to declare his feelings for me.
Our fingers were intertwined and lying on his stomach like before; his thumb rubbing circles on the back of my hand. Although the warmth of the moment had gone, there was still that feeling of happiness and relief.
I had a strong feeling that I returned Zak's love. It wasn't too awfully hard to figure out, but I was concerned about Zak. I didn't want to get caught up in his words only to have him realize that maybe he doesn't love me the way he thinks he does right now. That maybe it is more lust than love. I just didn't want either one of us to end up hurt. So that's why I couldn't tell Zak I loved him.
Not until I was sure.
Not until whatever darkness that was surrounding him…was gone.