Oh girl, it’s you
Neither of them had a clue what time it was, nor did either of them care to check. The sun was peeking in through the wooden slats in front of the windows, covering them in a golden light. Their apartment was a quiet serenity, filled only with the sound of their breathing breaking the silence.
Alex turned her head and the moment Steph’s face came into view, her lips automatically curled up into a smile. She let out a soft sigh when she felt Steph’s hand squeeze her side, pulling her closer, giggling softly at how endearing it was. Locked in Steph’s arms, Alex was unable to properly turn onto her other side. Though she didn’t shy away from a challenge without at least trying first.
She tried to take Steph’s hand-in order to move it, but it only caused Steph to hold on tighter. Alex couldn’t help but chuckle and shook her head, still determined to succeed. She wiggled her butt backwards, pushing against Steph and for a moment Alex thought she’d won. But as Steph scooted backwards a bit, she pulled Alex along with her.
“She can’t possibly be serious…” Alex mumbled amusedly, wondering if Steph was actually still asleep. “Steph, babe?” There was no response, confirming that Steph was indeed still fast asleep. Alex decided it was time for a different tactic. She placed her fingertips on the back of Steph’s hand and feathered them over Steph’s skin. This had the effect Alex had hoped for; Steph drew back her hand. Without wasting a second, Alex turned around so she faced her girlfriend. It was only a few seconds later that Steph’s arm draped over Alex’s side again, her hand now resting on Alex’s lower back.
Despite her vision still being blurry, as she hadn’t put on her glasses yet, Alex admired Steph’s face as her girlfriend slept. It felt incredible to wake up and feel Steph’s body pressed against her own, to be held close even when they were both asleep. Even though she still got nightmares and night terrors occasionally, Steph was always there to pull Alex out of them and comfort her.
The first time it had happened was still fresh in Alex’s mind. Steph had been nothing but patient, caring and extremely sweet. Apparently Alex had let out a scream, which woke up Steph and she had responded instantly. She remembered how Steph’s voice had been soft and reassuring as she held her and gently caressed her hair. She had been shaking like a leaf, her heart racing in her throat and ears ringing, but Steph was right there and helped her out of her panic attack until they’d both witnessed the sunrise in the early morning.
“Morning, babe.” Steph’s sleepy voice pulled Alex from her thoughts and caused her lips to curl up into an adoring smile.
“Hey, you’re awake,” Alex replied, her voice no louder than a whisper. She brushed some hair from Steph’s face, tucking it behind her ear, then let her hand rest on Steph’s cheek.
“Awake might be too big of a word for it, but yeah.” Steph chuckled and pressed a kiss on the tip of Alex’s nose. “How did you sleep?”
Alex shrugged in response, “I slept.” At least she hadn’t had any nightmares, or if she had, she didn’t remember them.
Steph nodded as she hummed, “Well, that’s good.” She yawned, stretching out her arms and legs simultaneously. “Would you like some coffee?”
Alex thought for a few moments, then she nodded. “Sounds nice.” After Steph kissed her softly, Alex watched as she got out of bed and threw a tank top on. As Steph walked towards the door, Alex sat up with a confused expression. Alex raised a brow as she put her glasses on and her vision became clearer. “You’re going downstairs like that?”
Steph turned around to face Alex, then looked down at herself, then back at Alex. “Yeah?” she said, “what’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”
Alex chuckled and shook her head, waving dismissively. “Nothing, I guess. Just surprised you’re about to go downstairs in just undies and a tank top. I don’t mind the view, so no complaints here.” The way Steph smirked caused a frenzy of butterflies to erupt in her stomach, intensifying even more when she winked at her before finally walking out.
She put her feet on the ground and stretched out her arms high above her head, then stood up and opened the drawer of her dresser. Hmm, what to wear today? Alex shrugged and decided to leave that for later, instead she just put on her sweats.
Just when Alex flushed the toilet, she heard the front door open and close again, meaning Steph had returned.
“Bathroom!” she replied, went ahead to splash some cold water in her face and brush her hair before leaving the bathroom. Steph was already waiting for her with coffee on the couch, smiling. “Thanks.”
“My pleasure,” Steph replied and snuggled up against Alex as soon as she sat down next to her. She let out a soft, content sigh and inhaled the scent of freshly brewed coffee. As Alex got up again, Steph frowned but didn’t say anything. She watched as Alex walked to the record player and put a record on, soft music chasing away the silence. “Great choice,” Steph whispered approvingly and took another sip of her coffee.
They just sat without speaking, sipping their coffees and listening to the soft music playing. It was nice, knowing that neither of them had to work that day and would be able to just do whatever and take their time waking up. The whole day was in front of them, with no plans but to do what they’d feel like.
Once they had finished their coffee, they both got dressed as they discussed what to do. Since the weather was so nice, they decided to have an impromptu picnic at the park.
Alex swung her guitar case onto her back, the strap hanging onto her shoulder, then glanced at Steph. “Ready?” she asked.
Steph grabbed the basket, checked to see if she had her phone and nodded with a smile. “Ready,” she replied and grabbed Alex’s hand into her own. She followed when Alex opened the door for them and waited for Alex to close and lock it when they got to the small hallway.
They were greeted by people as they got downstairs to the bar, but kept conversations short. Nevertheless, it was nice to see Ryan, Duckie and Charlotte. They would undoubtedly see them again later today.
As they stepped outside, the sun greeted them, shining brightly in a nearly cloudless sky. Alex looked over to Steph with a smile before crossing the street and walking into the park. It was relatively quiet, most people were probably working or inside.
“Where do you wanna sit?” she asked as she looked around, looking for a nice spot.
“How about over there?” Steph replied and raised their linked hands to point at a big tree. “So we’re not directly in the sun,” she added.
Alex nodded and led them to the spot Steph had pointed at, underneath a big tree.
She set down her guitar case while Steph shook out the blanket they had brought along, Alex grabbed the other end and they laid it down on the grass. They sat down and ate some of the food Steph had packed, taking turns drinking the soda Alex had taken with them.
Once most of the sandwiches had been eaten, Alex took her guitar out of its case and started strumming without really putting effort into it. Every now and then Steph would feed Alex a grape as she listened to Alex play her guitar. They didn’t bother to check when both their phones chimed simultaneously, figuring that if it was important people would simply call them.
“Well hello, Stephanie, Alex.” Both of them looked up to see Duckie standing a meter or so from the blanket they were sitting on.
“Oh, hey Duckie,” Alex said as she stopped playing, smiling at the older man.
“Mind if I join you ladies?” Steph and Alex looked at each other, to gauge each other’s thoughts.
“Go ahead! Take a seat, Duckie,” Steph said with an inviting gesture. Duckie sat down and took off his hat, respectfully declining when Steph offered him some grapes.
After Duckie, more people joined them. First it was Charlotte, then Eleanor. Eventually Ryan also joined them, followed by others. They were surrounded by a small crowd of people, all listening to and enjoying Alex’s music. At some point Steph joined in by drumming onto her legs with her hands, to which Alex grinned. Alex started to sing as she felt more comfortable.
When the sun was at its highest and the heat at its peak, Alex and Steph announced the mini concert was over.
“Thank you for that wonderful performance, Alex and Stephanie. Looking forward to the next one!” Duckie said while putting his hat back on. “I wish you both a most wonderful day,” he added after he got up.
“Glad you enjoyed it, Duckie.” Alex smiled and shook his hand, waving when he walked off.
“Gotta love Duckie,” Steph said with a chuckle, shaking her head. “I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready to cool off.”
As she put her guitar back in its case, Alex shot her a quizzical look. “Oh yeah?” she asked, to which Steph nodded. “Did you have anything particular in mind?” Instead of answering, Steph just looked towards the small lake, then back to Alex. When Steph didn’t respond verbally, Alex cocked her head, her brows knit together with confusion.
When Steph embraced her from behind, Alex’s eyes closed unprompted. As Steph’s hands rested on her stomach, Alex put her hands on top of them, their fingers intertwining. Steph’s lips brushed lightly against her ear and Alex let out a shuddery breath, her lips curling up into a smile.
“How about we go for a swim?” Steph’s voice was no more than a whisper, sending pleasant shivers through Alex’s body. Her mind went hazy for a bit, the skin where Steph’s lips had touched tingling. “Let the water cool us off…” Alex nearly shuddered when she felt lips brushing against her ear once more, causing the tingling sensation in her stomach to intensify. “Just the two of us…”
Alex swallowed with effort, desperately trying to clear her head, but not quite succeeding. Especially when Steph’s lips slowly moved to her neck, it became harder to not completely lose herself into it. Alex desperately tried to hold it in, but despite her efforts a nervous giggle worked its way through her parted lips. Alex tilted her head to the side, granting Steph free access.
“So, you like that idea?” Steph asked. When Alex nodded slowly, Steph smirked mischievously before suddenly letting go of Alex and stepping away to grab the basket. “Perfect! Let’s go then!”
Alex whirled around and looked at Steph with disbelief, “You are such a—”
“Irresistible girlfriend?” Steph interrupted, a smug grin plastered on her face.
Alex rolled her eyes playfully as she slung the strap of her guitar case over her shoulder. “I was going to say ‘a tease’, but yes. That too.”
“Me?” Steph feigned shock by putting a hand to her chest, “a tease? I would never.” Alex snorted in response. “Unless you want me to.” Steph winked and grabbed Alex’s hand, leading them back to the apartment to drop off their things. As well as to grab their swimwear and towels, Alex made sure to also take a bottle of sunscreen.
When they had asked Duckie if they could borrow his boat, about a week ago, he’d been extremely generous. He’d made sure to explain how to operate the motor with precision and wished them a nice boat ride.
“Duckie is so kind,” Alex said with a smile as she watched Duckie walk off into the heart of the town again. “The fact that he just trusts us with his boat…”
“He knows you’d never intentionally break it and that you will be careful with it.” Steph held out a hand, which Alex took, and helped Alex into the boat. “Duckie trusts you, babe. Probably even more than he trusts me.”
Alex scoffed as she sat down, putting the bag with their towels and sunscreen between her feet. “Well, you’re gonna be the one who’s gonna steer.” Alex grinned as she saw the flicker of panic in Steph’s expression. “You did pay attention when Duckie explained everything, right?” Alex couldn’t help but snicker at Steph’s reaction, but decided to reassure her girlfriend. “I can steer if you need me to.”
“No, no!” Steph sat down and inserted the key, then ignited the motor; making it come to life. “I can do this!” She nervously took a breath and calmed her mind, ordering her brain to focus. Come on, Gingrich. It’s not that hard. It felt silly how her cheeks flushed when Alex winked at her with a playful smile, not exactly helping with the nerves.
When she noticed a deep purple hue appearing around Steph, Alex bit her lip, fearing she’d teased too much. “I know you can, Steph. You’ve got this,” she assured and smiled as she turned her head to look into the distance.
It didn’t take very long for them to get close to the small waterfall towards the far end of the lake. Just a few moments later, Steph shut off the engine. Alex became aware of how much noise the motor had produced, it was a stark contrast with the quiet they were now left with.
While Alex was simply enjoying the quiet, Steph started to take off her clothes. Alex felt her cheeks grow hot at a record speed, her throat tight and thoughts going faster than she could keep up with. Even though she’d seen Steph undress a number of times by now, it still had quite an effect on her.
“You alright?” Steph asked with an amused smirk and raised one of her eyebrows, completing the look. Alex wondered if Steph was aware of just how attractive it was when she did that. “Are you gonna jump in like that?” she asked, nodding at Alex in reference to her clothes.
Why Alex looked down at her clothes, she wasn’t sure, as she knew what she was wearing. “Tempting, but no.” She closed her eyes in order to avoid being distracted by Steph undressing, and started to take off her own clothes.
When Alex was done and opened her eyes, she found Steph staring at her with flushed cheeks and mouth hanging open. Though Alex felt like she wasn’t far off from having a similar expression on her face.
The way Steph’s bikini fit her was kind of … mesmerizing? Alex couldn’t really get herself to look away, nor did she want to. Its bottoms were a burgundy shade of red, with black lining the edges. The top honestly looked like a sports bra, with the same colors, though it had a familiar looking D20 dice where the straps started. It was so very Steph, which was partially why it looked so good on her.
Steph didn’t even realize she’d been biting her lip, until it started to sting. She let go and licked her lips, making a mental note to apply chapstick to them later. Alex’s bikini may have been simple, but it looked really good on her. The black and blue ombre color scheme suited her so well, and the cut of the bikini emphasized Alex’s curves.
“Hmm? Did you say something?” Alex asked, blinking as she took off her glasses. She grabbed her sunglasses from her bag and put them on, sighing with relief. Much better.
“N-no? Nope, nothing!” Steph answered, nearly tripping over her words. “I gotta cool off, though. Hold on!”
As soon as Alex processed what Steph had told her to hold on for, Alex sat down and held both sides of the boat just before Steph jumped into the water. The boat rocked a little, but luckily nothing too intense. She let out a shriek when Steph popped her head out of the water and spit water at her, catching Alex by surprise.
“Gotcha!” Steph said with a triumphant grin, hanging onto the edge of the boat.
“Shit, Steph!” Alex tried to look mad, but she failed miserably. Her laughter came through despite her efforts to hold it in. “Fuck it.” Without any explanation, she took off her sunglasses and carefully put them down safely, then dove into the water.
The way Alex dove into the water was almost mesmerizing. Alex looked graceful seemingly without any effort and Steph couldn’t help but stare. That was until she got splashed as Alex’s body hit the water. Steph looked over her shoulder, waiting for Alex to resurface. When Alex didn’t, she let go of the boat and tried to locate her girlfriend in the water. As two hands suddenly grabbed her waist, Steph yelped in surprise.
“Gotcha,” Alex teased when she popped her head out of the water, pressing the side of her wet face against Steph’s cheek. She wrapped her arms around Steph’s waist and stomach, pressing her body against her girlfriend’s. “Now we’re even.”
Alex’s chest filled with flutters when Steph laughed, causing herself to chuckle in response.
“Yeah, dude. You got me,” Steph said as she turned around. She admired Alex’s freckles and the way her eyes looked in the bright light, only emphasized by the sunlight that reflected off the water. “I’m glad you do,” she whispered softly, tenderly tucking some of Alex’s wet hair behind her ear. Her hands cupped Alex’s cheeks as Steph continued to look at her girlfriend’s facial features. The curvature of her nose, her brown eyes that seemed almost golden in this light and then there were those lovely soft lips. Steph vaguely registered that she licked her own lips as she admired those of Alex, then leaned in until their lips met.
Her eyes closed as Steph’s lips kissed hers, soft but eagerly. Alex held onto Steph a bit tighter, kissing back enthusiastically. Just for a moment Alex felt a little spike of anxiety, afraid they’d go under unintentionally.
“I’ve got you, I can stand here,” Steph reassured her, and kissed Alex again. Alex relaxed and let herself get lost in the kiss, aware only of Steph’s body pressed against her own and the sensation of them making out. Steph’s tongue brushing against her own at a slow, almost lazy pace. It was exciting yet calming, in a way. Her mind was hazy, her skin seemed to tingle and a fluttering sensation had spread to both her chest and stomach.
When Alex’s grip became a bit tighter, Steph let out a content sigh and couldn’t help but smile as she made out with her girlfriend. This euphoric feeling was honestly kind of addicting, she just couldn’t get enough of it. Steph’s hands wandered, finally settling down on Alex’s hips, pulling her even closer.
“There, all done!” Steph handed the bottle of sunscreen back to Alex and pressed a kiss on the top of Alex’s head.
Alex turned around and smiled gratefully at Steph, “Thanks, you’re the best.” The way Steph beamed in response was honestly and utterly adorable, it made Alex giggle. “And the cutest.”
“Dude, you’re the cutest!” Steph protested, gesturing at Alex. “I mean, look at you! With your cute freckles and that smile!”
“You’re the one blushing, dude .”
“Babe, your cheeks are super pink. So I’m not the only one,” Steph replied defensively. “Okay, how about this?”
Alex quirked a brow as she cocked her head to the side. “Hmm?”
“We’re cute, you can’t deny we’re a cute couple.”
Alex just stared as her cheeks grew warmer, feeling flustered.
“Here,” Steph said as she scooted over to sit next to Alex. “I’ll prove it.” She wrapped an arm around Alex’s waist and kissed Alex’s cheek while holding her phone in front of them, with one press of the button on the side she took a picture. Then another, and another.
She swiped and went to the first picture, then slowly flipped through the pictures she’d just taken of the two of them. Steph melted when she saw the expression on Alex’s face in the pictures; she was practically glowing.
Alex looked at the pictures Steph had taken of them and could feel her cheeks aching from all the smiling she’d been doing. But Steph was right; they did look really cute together.
“I like this one.”
Alex watched as Steph put one of the pictures on her screen and smiled lovingly, “Yeah, I do too. We should have it printed.”
“Love that idea! Consider it done,” Steph replied as she put away her phone. “You wanna go for another swim, or are you good for now?”
Alex thought for a moment, then decided the idea was too appealing to decline. After making sure her sunglasses were safe, she got up and walked to the edge of the rocky plateau with Steph. “Ready.”
They looked at each other with giddy smiles, then put their hands above their heads, on top of each other and counted down from three. As if they had practiced a dozen times, they set off the plateau and dove into the water at the exact same time.
With her eyes still closed, Alex smiled so much it hurt. She swam and swam, until she finally had to go up for air. When she resurfaced, she turned to look for Steph. But Steph wasn’t around her, causing Alex to wonder if she was still underwater. Before she got the opportunity to think about it any longer, she heard her girlfriend call out her name.
“Damn, Chen! I didn’t realize it was a competition!” Steph called out. It was then that Alex realized how far she’d swam, which hadn’t even been her intention.
“Shit, I’m sorry!” she apologized and started swimming back to where Steph was. Once she reached her girlfriend, Alex apologized with her cheeks pink from embarrassment.
“Hey, you’ve got nothing to apologize for.” Steph’s voice was soft and comforting. “Just surprised me that you swam that far, that you’re able to hold your breath for that long.” She spread her arms invitingly and wrapped them around Alex’s shoulders when Alex held onto her neck. “Makes me wonder what other surprises you have in store for me…”
Despite hearing a lot of rummaging and scraping, Alex forced herself to stay put and not turn around. Whatever it was that Steph was doing, she was putting a lot of effort into it. Alex felt her heart flutter in her chest, the fact that someone loved her was already incredible. But the fact that said someone was also putting so much effort into a surprise for her was kind of mindblowing to Alex. When she heard Steph swear, Alex couldn’t help but chuckle.
“You okay, babe?”
There was some groaning and mumbling, causing Alex only to chuckle even more. “Y-yeah! I’m fine, no worries! Don’t look!”
She rolled her eyes while shaking her head with a grin, then replied back: “I’m not looking! Just want to make sure you’re still gonna be in one piece when you’re done!”
“You do realize I’m pretty sturdy, yeah?” Steph responded, followed by more rummaging. “Might not look like it, but…”
“What was that?”
“Talking to myself!” Steph looked around, searching. When she found Shu-shu, she let out a sigh of relief. “There you are,” she mumbled and grabbed the stuffed animal, placing it on Alex’s pillow. She got up and inspected her work, making sure she was completely satisfied. After walking around the rooftop once more to check she hadn’t forgotten anything, Steph nodded to herself with a satisfied smile. Perfect! Really hope she likes it…
“Hey babe,” Steph whispered as she wrapped her arms around Alex’s waist from behind.
“Hey,” Alex replied, reaching behind her and caressing Steph’s cheek. “Can I open my eyes?”
Steph shook her head, then pressed her lips against the exposed skin of Alex’s neck. “Not yet.” She lovingly took Alex’s hand into her own, then slowly turned Alex around. “Almost, though. Thank you for being so patient.”
Alex frowned, not sure why she wouldn’t be patient. Especially considering how patient Steph had been with her, it kind of went without saying. She blindly reached up to wrap her arms around her girlfriend and searched for Steph’s lips with her own. The kiss was short and sweet, nothing too intense. “Of course, take all the time you need.”
Without responding, Steph took Alex’s hand in her own and carefully brought Alex to the door that led to the rooftop. “Careful, you’re about to step onto the rooftop.” Steph patiently waited for Alex to step outside entirely before closing the door behind them. “Okay,” she said nervously, “I really hope you like it, but if you don’t that’s okay too. I just thought this would be nice and well, I just—”
“Steph,” Alex interrupted, squeezing Steph’s hand. “I already love it, because you did this for me. You put time and effort into it, wanting to surprise me. That, in and of itself, means the world to me. Nobody has ever done something like this for me…” Alex now opened her eyes, but only to look at Steph, to be able to see the expression on Steph’s face. “I don’t care what it is, I’ll love it because you did it. There’s no need to be afraid.” Alex cupped Steph’s face with her hands, got up to her tippy toes and pressed her lips on those of Steph. Unlike earlier, this time the kiss was a lingering one. Alex poured all her emotions into it, in an attempt to make Steph feel how much she meant every word she just said.
“That’s one hell of a way to shut me up, Chen.” Steph chuckled nervously and bit her lip, trying to get her brain to find the words to express herself properly. “I—I’m so lucky to have you as my girlfriend,” she whispered softly, looking into Alex’s eyes again and feeling the corners of her lips curl up into a smile.
“Right back at ya, Gingrich,” Alex replied and winked playfully. “Okay, now show me your surprise.”
Steph nodded excitedly as she turned Alex’s body, having her face the rooftop beside them. She just watched Alex’s face as Alex opened her eyes once more and took in the transformed rooftop. Steph bit down in anticipation, feeling the nerves whirling in her stomach as she watched Alex’s jaw slowly drop and eyes widen. When she noticed that tears started welling up in Alex’s eyes, Steph felt a wave of worry wash through her. Though before she had the chance to say anything or worry about it any more, Alex turned to face her again and hugged her tightly.
The emotions she felt were nearly overwhelming her, and thus Alex grabbed onto Steph tightly and hugged her as tears started to spill. The moment she’d seen the rooftop, her heart nearly burst. Steph had thought of absolutely everything; the mattress littered with pillows, the covers of course and she had even put Shu-shu on her pillow. There were candles on the ledge, the laptop in front of the mattress and the coolbox beside one side of the mattress. She’d also noticed the crate with an assortment of different snacks; cookies, chips, candy and even some fruit. Steph clearly had put a lot of thought into it and Alex was simply amazed, not sure how to articulate her feelings.
“Babe…” Steph whispered, “Alex? Need me to hold your glasses?” Steph smiled tearfully as Alex handed her glasses to Steph and held on even tighter. Steph didn’t say anything else, instead she hugged Alex and tenderly caressed Alex’s hair repeatedly. In a way it broke her heart, knowing that something as small as this had such an effect on Alex.
When she felt her emotions calm down a little, Alex loosened her grip on Steph a little and let out a shaky sigh. “Sorry ‘bout that…”
“Hey.” Steph took Alex’s chin between her thumb and index finger, lifting it up a little. “You have absolutely nothing to apologize for, Alex. Your feelings and emotions are valid.” She lightly brushed her thumb across Alex’s cheek, wiping away a tear. “How about we go and sit down?”
Instead of watching a movie, like Steph had originally planned, they just talked with music softly playing in the background. They had finished a bottle of soda and were halfway through a bottle of wine, which caused Steph to have to use the bathroom once again.
“I promise I’ll make it quick!” Steph called over her shoulder as she ran towards the door leading inside. Alex chuckled as she turned onto her side, watching Steph rush inside.
Hey Gabe? Just want you to know, I’m really happy. Of course I still have my hard days, but I’m genuinely happy. Honestly, I’m really glad I came to Haven Springs. I just wish we could’ve had more time… Alex sighed as she laid onto her back again, watching the stars with her hands under her head. Steph makes me really happy, she did all of this for me . She makes me feel special, I’m grateful to have her in my life. And that’s thanks to you, so… Thank you, Gabe.
When Steph got back upstairs, she saw Alex on her back watching the stars, her lips moving. She realized what Alex was doing and decided to wait for a bit, giving Alex the time she needed. A sad smile crept onto her face and her heart ached, her mind instantly going to Gabe.
“Oh Gabe, I’m sure you would’ve rubbed it in constantly how smitten I am.” Steph snorted, smiling as she could picture it in her mind perfectly. “I miss your ass,” she whispered softly with a grin.
Alex looked up when she heard the door creaking, smiling when she saw Steph. She repositioned, propping herself onto her elbows. As she noticed the hem of Steph’s tank top had crept up, exposing some of her abdomen, Alex bit her lip. “Welcome back,” she said in a soft voice, leaning against Steph as soon as she laid down next to her.
“Aww, shucks. Hope I didn’t miss anything exciting.” Steph leaned in and softly kissed the tip of Alex’s nose. When Alex shook her head, Steph responded with a simple nod. “I’m glad you like the surprise,” she whispered as her hand searched for Alex’s. Once she did, Steph curled her fingers between those of Alex and looked at their now linked hands.
“Steph, are you kidding me?” Alex replied, “I love it! This is incredible…” Alex let out a soft sigh and lowered herself down onto her back again, her hand still linked with Steph’s. “Did you reserve the clear weather too?” she joked.
Steph laid down next to her, letting out an amused snort. “Ha! No, that was just pure luck,” she confessed, “imagine though, if I could control the weather…”
Alex turned her head to look at Steph and stared blankly, blinking several times. “I… I think I’m glad I don’t have the ability, that would be terrifying…”
“You’re probably right,” Steph responded with a shrug, sucking in a breath as she witnessed a falling star. Naturally she closed her eyes as she made a wish, regardless if it actually worked or not.
From the corner of her eye Alex saw a star shoot across the sky, without thinking she closed her eyes and made a wish. When she opened her eyes again, Alex lifted her right hand and looked at her star tattoo. I really hope this one comes true.
Alex turned her head to face Steph, “Hmm?” she replied.
“Can I say something?”
“You just did.”
“Har-har,” Steph said with a chuckle, bumping her shoulder into Alex’s playfully.
“Of course, babe. Go ahead,” Alex replied, squeezing Steph’s hand encouragingly. She looked up at the sky again as Steph visibly went over the words in her head.
Again, Steph followed Alex’s example and looked up at the starry sky again. Trying to figure out how exactly to say what she wanted to say. Come on, Gingrich. Be brave! She inhaled deeply, then slowly exhaled, desperately attempting to calm down her nerves.
“First off,” Steph started, “I just want you to know there is no pressure, if you’re not ready for it, that’s okay.” She didn’t really dare to look at Alex, in fear that if she did she wouldn’t be able to say the rest. When Alex squeezed her hand again, Steph smiled; it definitely encouraged her to continue. “You know this already, because I’ve told you before, but I’m just gonna say it again. You mean the fucking world to me, Alex. Being with you makes me incredibly happy and I am so incredibly grateful to have you as my girlfriend.” Steph’s cheeks were warm and achy from the smile she wore, but she paid it no mind; there was no time to. “Whatever comes next, I’m looking forward to experiencing it with you. You’re so very special, Alex… Don’t think you even realize just how special you really are.”
Alex listened, not even trying to fight the tears that started to well up in the corners of her eyes. Her heart was beating rapidly in her chest. The flutters in her stomach had grown more intense and she felt a pleasant warmth spread through her body. It was a foreign sensation, but Alex allowed it to happen, to feel these emotions instead of fighting them. Alex felt Steph’s thumb softly brushing the skin between her thumb and index finger, which was soothing and prompted her lips to form a smile.
“What I’m trying to say is…” Steph inhaled deeply, then exhaled slowly. As nervous as she was, there wasn’t the slightest hint of doubt in her body, of this Steph was as certain as she was about the color of the sky. “I love you, Alex.”
Time felt like it stopped right then and there. Alex was sure she felt her heart stop for a second, before it started hammering in her chest. Her ears were ringing and her mind was both empty and racing at the same time, it was dizzying. D-did she really just … say that…? The four words echoed in her mind, over and over again. Alex hadn’t realized she had started to cry until there were tears streaming down her temples.
When Steph finally dared to look at Alex, she felt an enormous spike of worry and anxiety, seeing Alex’s tear-stricken face. “Alex?” Steph asked with an unsteady voice, she used her free hand to wipe away the tears from Alex’s face as gently as she could. “I didn’t mean to—”
Without a word, Alex let go of Steph’s hand in order to support herself as she rolled over. She took off her glasses and almost carelessly tossed them to the side, where they landed safely on her pillow. Alex literally shut Steph up by firmly pressing her lips against Steph’s.
The moment Steph felt Alex kiss her, with almost a sense of urgency, her worries dissipated nearly instantly. Her body relaxed and her hands wandered, creeping around Alex’s waist and finally resting onto her sides; holding onto her. When Steph felt Alex part her lips, she complied willingly. The way the tip of Alex’s tongue brushed against her lower lip sent pleasant shivers through her entire body, causing Steph to let out an unintended whimper. Her breath hitched when she felt Alex’s right hand on her lower side, where her tank top had crept up. The skin-to-skin contact made her mind go blank, except for the registration of Alex’s touch.
Alex let her tongue find Steph’s as she felt Steph’s hands wrap around her waist and hold onto her, holding her close. The intensity of the feelings she currently experienced caused her mind to reel, all she processed was the way her heart beat rapidly in her chest in response to Steph’s touch. Feeling Steph’s fingers press into her skin, Steph’s tongue brushing against her own, their breaths intermingling as they made out. It made Alex feel dizzy, but in a way that wasn’t bothering her in the slightest.
The light feeling in Steph’s abdomen was one she had missed, but now that it was back, it was nearly too much. The intensity of the feelings she had for Alex were blowing her mind, but in the best way possible. Her heartbeat was fast, almost buzzing, her chest and stomach filled with warmth. It was incredible how much of an effect Alex had on her, and they were just making out. Steph felt herself get flustered as she thought of things going beyond that and how that would affect her. There was a nervous giddiness at the mere thought of it, though Steph was in no hurry. They had all the time in the world, after all.
When Alex broke their kiss, both of them were breathing somewhat heavy and took a few moments to catch their breath. Suddenly Steph chuckled, and before long she was laughing. Before either of them realized what was going on, they were both laughing so much that they started crying and their stomachs ached.
“Wow…” Steph muttered softly as her laughter finally faded. “That was…”
“Intense?” Alex offered.
Steph looked at Alex and nodded, “Yeah, it sure was. But also…”
“Incredible? Amazing? Mind blowing?”
Steph blinked a few times as her mind went blank. “Yes… Hard to think, sorry.”
Alex giggled and shook her head, “You and me both,” she said and laid down again. Her cheek rested just below Steph’s collarbone as her body was pressed against the side of Steph’s, with her right arm draped across Steph’s stomach and chest. “Thank you, Steph,” Alex whispered softly and pressed a kiss to the side of Steph’s neck.
“What are you thanking me for?” Steph asked, the confusion audible in the tone of her voice. “I recall you kissing me , babe.”
At that Alex chuckled, shaking her head. “No, I know that.” Alex playfully rolled her eyes and shortly after realizing that Steph couldn’t see it. “I was referring to what you said before that,” she clarified.
“Oh!” Steph felt her cheeks grow warmer and bit her lip as she tried to suppress a grin that would probably split her lips. “Again, I don’t expect you to say it back.” She moved her left hand and grabbed Alex’s hand, which was resting on her chest, giving it a reaffirming squeeze. “But I meant every single word, Alex.”
“I know,” Alex replied, the warm flutters moving around in her chest once again. “You mean the world to me too, Steph.” Alex closed her eyes and nuzzled into the side of Steph’s neck.
Her eyes widened slightly when she heard what Alex said, but only for a few seconds. Steph felt so euphoric that she could scream, though she wouldn’t of course. It was pretty late and she was certain the rest of Haven Springs wouldn’t exactly appreciate it if she did. Nor did she want to give Alex hearing damage, so she kept it in, but in her mind she was squealing. She squeezed her eyes shut and bit down her lip hard, curling her toes as to have some sort of an outlet. Her heart thudded so hard in her chest that she could feel it in the base of her throat and hear it pulsate in her ears.
“I’m—I’m so glad.” She squeezed Alex’s hand while turning her head a little and leaned forward to press a kiss on top of Alex’s hair.
They got underneath the covers as the temperature started to drop. They had put on their sleep shorts and tank tops and brushed their teeth, ready for sleep whenever it would wash over them.
Alex admired the starry sky, as the stars here looked extremely clear and bright. Back in Portland the brightness of the city had prohibited her from ever seeing many stars. But here, in Haven Springs, there was barely any light pollution.
“Honestly don’t think I can ever get enough of this view,” Alex whispered dreamily as she found one star after the other.
“Yeah, same.” Steph’s eyes weren’t focused on the starry night sky, instead she was looking at Alex’s face. She admired the light freckles that were scattered across Alex’s nose, below her eyes and her cheekbones. The way her girlfriend’s eyes shimmered in the light of the stars and lit candles, which also casted faint shadows on Alex’s facial features. Steph was in awe with just how gorgeous Alex was and the fact that she got to call Alex her girlfriend.
When Alex turned her head to look at Steph, she caught her girlfriend staring at her. She could make out the way Steph’s cheeks took on a pink hue and looked away while pursing her lips, causing Alex to giggle under her breath.
“You weren’t talking about the view of the sky, were you?” she teased, taking notice of Steph’s cheeks growing even more pink in response.
“Uh…” Steph stammered, “is that a trick question?” When Alex started to laugh, it was impossible not to join in. “Do I get a reward for being honest?” she asked with a mischievous grin.
“Hmm, you just might. Why don’t you try and find out?” Alex playfully bit her lip as she winked, eliciting a shuddery ‘oh’ from Steph in response.
It felt silly to suddenly feel the urge to hide her face, Steph fought it off by instead tucking some of her hair behind her ear. “Alright then,” she mumbled softly and cleared her throat. “You got me, Chen. I wasn’t talking about the starry sky.” She watched Alex with anticipation, waiting patiently.
“You’re a sap, Gingrich.” Alex shuffled closer, until their lips were only a breath apart. Alex looked down at Steph’s lips just as Steph wetted them with her tongue. The buzzing sensation of anticipation grew stronger and Alex longed to let her lips meet Steph’s. As Alex looked up into Steph’s eyes again, the tension grew more intense, especially when she caught Steph looking down at her lips.
“Haven’t heard you complain though,” Steph breathed, the nerves from the tension almost becoming too much.
Alex felt her breath hitch and her hand tremble a little as she reached out to cup Steph’s cheek, her touch as light as a feather. “‘Cause there’s nothing to complain about.” The moment her lips brushed against Steph’s, she felt an eruption of flutters in her stomach and her heart beating at an increased pace in her chest.
Her eyes closed when Steph felt Alex’s lips softly pressed against her own, the kiss tender and sweet, unhurried. Steph’s chest felt pleasantly warm and tingly, like her heart was glowing. She carefully turned her body onto her side without breaking the kiss, her hand reaching out, searching. As her hand traveled across Alex’s stomach, her fingers curled in a grabbing motion. Alex responded almost instantly and turned her body onto her side as well, allowing for Steph’s hand to take hold of Alex’s hip, pulling her closer.
When Steph pulled her closer, Alex responded eagerly and lifted her leg to lay it across Steph’s. As close as they were pressed together now, her body still yearned to be even closer. She deepened the kiss by letting the tip of her tongue trace the seam of Steph’s lips, to which Steph responded with eagerness. Her hand slid down Steph’s cheek, tracing the sensitive skin of Steph’s throat and side of her neck. Until finally Alex’s hand settled on the back of Steph’s neck, her fingertips curling into her hair. When a soft whimpering moan echoed into Steph’s mouth, it took Alex by surprise, but her body didn’t allow her to pull back; instead it tried to press even closer against Steph’s. Alex’s mind was swimming, as if a hazy filter had been put over it. There wasn’t a single coherent thought, only the registration of all the sensations that she felt. Like the way she felt Steph’s fingertips slide underneath the hem of her tank top, caressing her skin and causing goosebumps to erupt.
Pleasant shivers went through her when she heard and felt Alex softly moan into her mouth, and for a moment Steph wondered if she’d simply imagined it. But she didn’t have the chance to think about it, as the sensation of Alex’s fingertips curling into her hair made Steph’s mind foggy and her knees weak. She felt her heart beating so fast in her chest that it should’ve probably worried her, but Steph couldn’t get herself to care. Her mind was far too hazy to form any tangible thoughts beyond the awareness of Alex’s body pressed against her own. Her fingertips crept underneath the hem of Alex’s tank top and Steph couldn’t suppress a smug grin when she felt the skin underneath her touch form goosebumps in response. Though as tempting as it was, she didn’t move them up any further. Not without explicit consent from Alex to do so. She cared way too much about her girlfriend to just forego something so important, crucial even. Steph wouldn’t forgive herself for crossing boundaries, even if it wasn’t intentional.
The fact that Steph’s hand stopped moving wasn’t lost on Alex, though it surprised her. She leaned back a little bit, her teeth playfully grazing Steph’s lower lip as she did.
“Shit, Alex. Did I go too fa—?” Alex interrupted Steph by firmly pressing a kiss onto Steph’s lips, not allowing her girlfriend to finish the sentence.
“No, you didn’t,” Alex reassured while shaking her head with a small smile. “It just took me by surprise a little bit.”
“I—I just don’t wanna… You know… Do anything you’re not okay with,” Steph explained, worrying her lip.
Alex closed her eyes for a second, her lips forming a smile while her brows knit together. “Hey,” she whispered softly, “I really appreciate that.” Steph met her eyes and Alex saw the anxious glow slowly fade, to her relief. “That means a lot to me, Steph. It’s really nice to know you care so much that you keep possible boundaries in mind.”
“Of course! Alex, you mean the fucking world to me! I wouldn’t forgive myself if I’d cross any of your boundaries.” Steph winced at herself, as she hadn’t intended to raise her voice as much. “Sorry,” she apologized, “but I mean it, Alex. I don’t want to do anything which I’m not certain of you being okay with. Yes, you’re my girlfriend. Which I am super grateful for and happy about, by the way.” Steph paused to allow herself to smile, emphasizing her statement. “But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be respectful and just do whatever without your explicit consent.”
It felt as if her heart was swelling up, it nearly ached. I don’t want to cry, keep it together Alex! The soft yet determined expression on Steph’s face affected Alex more than she dared to admit, let alone the words Steph had just spoken. When her mind threatened to go to certain events from her past, Alex forced herself to stay in the present. That would be something to deal with another time.
“You’re really fucking amazing, you know that?” Alex said, smiling so wide it ached.
“So I’ve been told—hey!” Steph gave Alex’s side a hard squeeze in response to Alex tugging her hair, though it was playfully and didn’t actually hurt. “Oh, now you’re on!” Without warning Steph started to tickle Alex’s side, causing Alex to shriek and end up in a giggle fit with arms and legs thrashing around.
Despite her best efforts Alex didn’t manage to tickle Steph back; as she was writhing and squirming while laughing until her sides hurt and tears were rolling down her face. “St-Steph!”
“That’s me,” Steph said with a grin, pausing for just a second or two in order for Alex to breathe properly.
“You calling it?” After a moment Alex let out a groan and nodded, holding her hands up in surrender. “Alright,” Steph said with a triumphant smirk, pulling her hands away from Alex. She reached over and grabbed the bottle of water, making sure to stay hydrated. Once she finished drinking she handed it to Alex.
“You’re evil,” Alex muttered, still recovering and trying to catch her breath. She took the bottle of water that Steph handed to her and set it to her lips once her breathing got back to normal.
“I can be, but only if you want me to…” Steph snickered at Alex’s reaction. Alex nearly spit out the water that was apparently still in her mouth, her eyes widening. Steph wiggled her eyebrows after making sure Alex was okay. “We’ll discuss that some other time.”
“Hmm,” Alex mused, “intriguing…” She put the cap back on and handed the bottle back to Steph, then watched as Steph put it into the coolbox.
“You sure are, babe,” Steph whispered as she snuggled against Alex and kissed her girlfriend’s forehead. “I love you, Alex.”
And just like before, those four words released a frenzy of warm flutters through her body. Alex was looking forward to the moment she’d be ready to say those same words to Steph, once she was ready. “Thank you for today, Steph.”
“Right back at ya.” They shared another kiss, it was cut short however, as Steph yawned. “Sorry,” she apologized sheepishly.
“Sleep doesn’t sound like a bad idea,” Alex admitted, unable to hold back a yawn herself. “Good night, babe.” Alex took off her glasses and laid them an arms length away from her pillow.
“Sleep well, Alex,” Steph replied and put her right arm above Alex’s pillow. With her left hand she grabbed the covers and pulled it over both of them, then draped her arm over Alex’s side and stomach, holding her close. It didn’t take long for Alex to fall asleep, Steph listened to Alex’s breathing evening out and felt Alex’s chest slowly rising and falling with every breath. The corners of her lips curled up into a loving smile, she leaned closer until her lips were close behind Alex’s ear. “Sweet dreams, babe,” she whispered softly and nuzzled Alex’s neck as she draped one leg over those of Alex. Guess you were right all along Gabe… The patience did pay off. That was the last thought going through Steph’s mind before she too drifted off to sleep, with only the stars as their witness.