Laila turned her back to Sterling as she pulled her sweater off and replaced it with one of his t-shirts. She felt modest around him now, even though she knew he wasn’t after anything that evening. She turned around slowly, blushing as Sterling smiled at her. He had always claimed to like seeing her in his t-shirts, the hem reaching just at mid-thigh, the sleeves coming down to her elbows.
“Is my toothbrush still here?” She asked, breaking the silence.
Sterling frowned and shook his head. “No, I threw it away.”
“Oh,” Laila tried not to look hurt but knew that her face had deceived her.
“Not because I wasn’t hoping you weren’t going to need it again. I just got angry one day and threw it against the wall. It landed next to the toilet so I had to throw it away.” Sterling looked embarrassed but Laila smiled at his confession.
“I packed yours though,” he offered, a smile coming to his lips as well.
“Thanks,” she said awkwardly and reached for the bag he had packed for her earlier in the day. Once the police had left, Sterling had helped Laila dress and quickly packed some of her things, insisting that she stay the night as his apartment. She hadn’t put up a fight as being alone just hadn’t seemed like an option.
She walked quickly past him, hurrying to the bathroom so she could get ready for bed. It was early still, but it had been a long day and neither had slept much the night before in the hospital. She tried not to think about Will as she turned on the shower and felt the warm water hit her tired body. But without Sterling in the room to distract her, she found that task rather difficult. She knew she was lucky. If Sterling hadn’t come back when he did, Will could have easily waited until she had passed out and then had his way with her. She tried to shake that thought of out her head.
She had argued with Sterling for the better part of an hour over whether or not she should go to the hospital. Finally, he gave in, saying that he wasn’t letting her out of his sights and would carry her there kicking and screaming if she showed any sign of pain. She agreed and the two of them walked through the snow to Sterling’s apartment as soon as Piper and Alistair had returned from the airport and heard the story.
Laila showered quickly and dried off, slipping into a pair of underwear and Sterling’s shirt before brushing her teeth. Looking in the mirror, she was startled by the girl staring back. Her eyes were red with dark circles underneath, her skin looked sickly pale and her wet hair hung in stringy clumps around her face. But she didn’t care at the moment. All she wanted to do was sleep.
Sterling had changed and was waiting for her outside the bathroom when she opened the door. “Are you all right?”
Laila nodded and stared at him, wishing she could find the words to thank him enough for everything he had done for her.
“You can sleep in my room, if you want,” Sterling was saying, “and I’ll take the couch. Or I can make up the bed in the other room.”
“Can you stay with me?” Laila heard herself asking before she had even thought about it.
“Of course,” Sterling looked relieved. “I’ll be right in.”
Laila gave him a small smile and walked to his bedroom. Everything was just as she remembered. The pictures hadn’t changed, the bed was still as comfortable as ever. She climbed under the covers, smelling Sterling on the sheets that were now wrapped around her. She lay with her eyes open, staring at the ceiling, until she heard him come in the door. He smiled at her timidly and then turned off the lights.
Grinning in the darkness, she listened to Sterling feel his way to the bed, swearing quietly as he stubbed his toe on something. She could feel him pulling back to the covers and climbing in next to her and she waited for him to reach for her, to pull her into his arms and kiss her. But it didn’t happen and she started to worry something was wrong.
“Yes?” He sounded closer than he felt.
“I love you.”
“I love you, too. So much.”
Laila scooted closer to him and smiled as he finally reached for her, his hand lightly finding her cheek.
“I’m afraid to touch you,” he admitted softly. “I don’t know how you’re feeling and I don’t want to scare you.”
“It’s easier not to think about it when you are holding me,” she told him and wrapped an arm around his waist, pulling herself into his chest.
Sterling reacted instantly, hugging her tight and kissing the top of her head. Her warm breath against his skin was calming his nerves, her hand on his back was relaxing. Sterling had been fighting against his anger all day. Once Laila was safe inside his apartment, it was as if his sense of calm had snapped and all he wanted to do was beat Will within seconds of his life. He was worried for Laila, scared that she would snap as well and fully realize what had happened to her, and that was the only thing that kept him from taking out his aggression on the inanimate objects of his apartment. He didn’t think he would be able to get through the day if he thought she was afraid of anything and had prepared himself for a sleepless night of waiting for her cries.
But luckily she had asked him to stay with her. He hadn’t wanted to suggest it himself, still unsure of where they stood, if they would be able to pick back up right where they left off or if Laila would need some time before things became intimate again. But now she was touching him like she always had, her soft hands warm on his skin.
“Do you remember the first night we met and I kicked you out of my bed?” Sterling heard her ask.
He smiled at the memory. “Of course I remember. I couldn’t believe you wouldn’t let me sleep with you.”
Laila laughed softly and kissed his chest. “That seems like such a long time ago.”
“It wasn’t so long ago,” Sterling mused and ran his hand down her back.
“Did you think back then that things would turn out like this?”
Sterling didn’t know exactly what this was, but he didn’t worry about it. “I knew that I had found something special. And I knew that I was falling for you.”
“Not after the first night,” Laila giggled in disbelief.
“Yes, after the first night,” Sterling assured her.
“But it took you so long to ask me out,” Laila yawned and kissed his chest again.
“You weren’t like other girls. I knew I had to take it slow so I didn’t scare you off.”
Laila sighed, he knew her so well. “I’ve missed you so much, Sterling,” she said, snuggling against him so she could feel as much of him as possible.
“I’ve missed you too. But that’s all over now.”
Laila smiled, sleep was pulling at her and she was about to give in. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Beautiful.”
Will’s eyes roamed his jail cell, a certain curiosity about his new surroundings had overcome him. He had refused his phone call earlier in the day, unsure of whom he would try to contact. His parents would certainly fly down to get him but he wasn’t ready to face them. His sister, who had completely fucked him over, didn’t have the money to bail him out and was therefore completely useless. His roommate fell into the same category, which left no one.
Part of him wanted to stay locked up. He remembered very little of that morning’s events but those fuzzy memories were driving him over the edge. He could still feel Laila’s skin on his hands, the way her breasts felt as he squeezed them. What he had done was wrong, completely wrong, but he still craved more. What had turned him this way, he didn’t know. Nor did he care. He was mad, completely insane. He had hurt the girl he loved yet given the chance, he would certainly do it again. That’s why these bars were a necessity, however uncomfortable and unwanted they might be. He didn’t want to hurt her, he didn’t want her to be afraid. But if he were free, he knew he wouldn’t be able to stop himself.
He didn’t know what was going to become of him. The police seemed to know everything and he hadn’t denied any wrong doing. He was sure his lawyer, if he ever bothered to get one, would reprimand him for that. But maybe he would just defend himself, explain to the judge that he had been so in love it had driven him insane. He wondered if he would get to see Laila again. Would she take pity on him and show up to voice her support? He doubted it. But he could always dream. He might be crazy, but he knew that his dreams were the only thing he had left – the only thing that wouldn’t be taken from him. Shame, guilt, judgment, all those things would be handed to him, replacing his freedom and his livelihood. Yes. He’d have to get used to these bars.
A/N: Only two more chapters after this one! I'll be posting them both tomorrow :) Thank you to everyone who has read and commented on this story! You are my inspiration to keep writing :) Much Love ~ Pink
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