She took the final sip from her glass and placed it carefully on the smooth pavement surrounding the pool before pushing back off the wall gently and paddling away from it and in Nick's direction.
It was well past eleven o'clock, and they had finally made their way out to the pool an hour or so ago.
"I know you don't know what you're going to do, but… what do you think you'll do after graduation?” He asked as his arms slid easily around her waist underwater as she approached him. It was a discussion they had started earlier in the day, she had mentioned feeling clueless, and he knew she was too smart to have no ideas.
"I don't know anymore… not most of it." She smirked, her body floating in closer to his, letting him hold her, "It's not so straightforward."
"Parts of it..."
She leaned back against his hands, her hair splayed out on the water, and the moonlight caught the lines of her collarbone and jaw. Her arms floated out to either side of her body, completely relaxed. It made him feel lightheaded.
Her comfort with him, her smile, their entire day so far… he watched her for a minute.
His voice sounded serious, and she looked back to him. It means something.
"Yeah?" she raised up out of the water, his hands slid up her back.
The curve of his bare shoulders created an unsettling feeling in her belly. His hair was slicked back and falling in pieces near his ears. He was perfect.
"What about the stuff you know you want?" He asked, "Tell me that."
There was a tingle in her spine and anticipation coursed through her belly. Considering how to articulate so many things succinctly, she gently bit the corner of her lip into her mouth. Some new ideal. Safe enough. "I know that I want to do good work and that I want to be with you."
The relief reflected in his posture, his shoulders relaxed. He hung his head as his hands went to her shoulders, she anchored herself - wrapping her arms around his body.
"I was hoping you'd say that."
She pursed her lips, her eyes landed on a droplet of water on his cheek. The image of him standing above her at the fountain that night in Italy came to mind. The conviction strengthened. Everything. Tell him everything. "There's more."
They were both quiet, indulging in the moment while simultaneously their individual thoughts were running wild, the calm ambiance of the night surrounded them.
"There are a million things I don't know… There are things about this that I'm not sure about… logistically or …" Jane, Jen, fans, media, school, tours… It doesn’t matter, “Whatever. But I am..." “...no risk to my potential.”
She took a deep breath, "so completely sure about one thing."
"I trust you. Entirely. You know that." Now. "And I-" His hands crept up to her face, and she paused to savor it, taking in the way his eyes were glinting, the way his skin felt against hers, the way everything just made sense with him. Her foot slid easily along the smooth bottom of the pool. Say it. "I know that … you're it." The words left her mouth, and she felt the tips of her ears burning and a rush of blood to her face… Her mouth twisted into a smile, and she shook her head. Now. "You're it. I've known it since Italy."
For her, it felt like an eternity that it took for him to process the sentence. For him, he couldn't wait to respond. "Italy?"
"At the fountain." Her hand slid up his side easily. "I was looking at you, and I saw it… I saw everything. Just… I saw everything, Nick." Her eyes were brimming with tears, but she didn't want to let them out. "I didn't want you to feel pressured or obligated before, and I don't want to scare you now."
"You're not, I swear, I'm not scared." he pressed his forehead into hers, "I love you."
She closed her eyes, releasing the tears.
“There are hundreds of things I am not sure about with this, but I am so sure of that. You're the one. For everything." Everything. She was speaking quietly - her voice navigating along the lines of her breath. "I am completely sure about that. About you. About being with you - wanting to be, needing to be… everything with you. I was sure then, and I still am. It was … unmistakable. You're the reason."
His eyes were dark, staring at her. "I could be the one, Colleen. I want to be good enough for that."
Relief. "You are… both of those things. You know that."
"I want to be."
"You are. I am so sure about it. But I want you to know it's more... it's bigger and... deeper. I saw the best version of you. Everything you are and everything you can be and everything I want. Everything I want to have. I just realized… that's it. You're it..." Her whispered words filled him with excitement, "I felt it. Like something that was missing had shown up, like things just made sense… Everything I want, I want with you. It was like all of a sudden, I realized - why I never wanted to go all-in with anyone else. Why I waited. I should have told you, but I didn't know how to say it without it sounding crazy or scary and like I said I didn't want to push you, and even today, I don't know I just-"
"It doesn't scare me." His voice was confident. "It did - or it might've - but it doesn't anymore. You just make so much sense of me… to me. I didn't know what that was like. You are so perfect, and I didn't want to break you. You deserve everything. I knew what you wanted but I didn't know if I could be that. I didn't want to fuck it up. I always fuck it up."
He moved his hand to the back of her neck. "Colleen, this feels different."
Her entire body felt so weak and weightless, but safe and secure in his arms.
"This is really intense," she whispered.
"You make me feel things that I don't know about, you make say things I don't usually say."
She smiled shyly at him, "You're vulnerable."
"I'm in love with you."
"That’s kind of the same thing." She whispered as he kissed her along her jawline. "Nick…"
"There's more." She felt his finger creep under the strap of her bathing suit. She felt serene and energized at the same time by it. "You make me feel a lot of things." "when I think about you and everything … there is always more. There always will be, and I love that. I love that there is more of everything with you." She breathed in deeper as he looked back to her, "But," her heart was pounding. She felt so close. "I-" What is this? What am I trying to say, actually? What's left? "That's what I want. Now that I've thought of that… of the reality of a life with you in it. My life with you in it like this. I don't want to think about any other option. It's not scary."
"That's what I want, too. I want to be with you. Nobody else." His eyes locked on hers, and the universe she existed in changed, again.
Everything she had ever known about him felt new again. She knew him but not like this. She had heard his voice before but not with this undertone. She had been kissed before but not like this.
For a moment she was caught between the euphoria of breaking into new territory with him and wishing she had experienced everything with anyone else just to be able to feel it new again with him…
She didn't have to ask him if he was sure or what should happen next. She just nodded as his thumb pressed gently against her lip.
"Let's go back inside", he said quietly.
There was something in his eyes that told her that was exactly what they should do. "Okay."