Upon opening the door to the bus, she immediately heard someone crying and a man’s voice speaking. She stopped to evaluate what was happening before slowly climbing the stairs and peeking in.
“It’s Coll, it’s fine.” She heard Angela say through her sniffling.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m back here, Q is with me.” Angela replied, her voice drawn and stressed.
Coll proceeded into the bus, dumping her bags near the couch on the way. She found Angela sitting on the edge of her bunk with Q on his knee in front of her.
“What’s up?” She asked, concerned.
Angela shook her head sadly, “It’s Jen.”
“What did she do?” Coll asked kneeling down next to Q and placing her hand on Angela’s back.
Angela looked at Q as a tear rolled down her cheek.
“She said something to Angela about us.” Q explained, looking briefly at Coll.
“She said it’s not appropriate...” Angela added.
“You know how she is.”
“I mean, barely... but... wow.”
“She said ‘I’m not going to stand in the way of true love but either keep it under wraps at work or don’t work together’ so basically...”
“You’re always at work, what does she expect?”
“And neither of us are quitting our job.” Angela said firmly looking at Q with wide eyes.
“So what now?”
“Maybe she’s the one who needs a new job.”
“We will have to tone it down I guess.”
Coll looked between them, “I was completely clueless until I was told expressly what was going on - how much further could you possibly tone it down?”
“That’s exactly right. She’s just bitter.” Q said, squeezing Angela’s hand in his.
“I’m sorry guys. That sucks.”
“I just wish she had said it a little differently.”
“She made it sound like we were ... bad people.”
“I understand her position, but she definitely could have expressed it better.”
“You have to go.” Angela said quietly looking at Q.
“I know, I’m sorry,”
“I’m here!” Coll smiled.
“I’ll see you later alright?” Q said and leaned in to kiss her before leaving.
“I feel so bad.” Coll said sadly after Q had left.
“Don’t worry about me.” Angela said as she brushed some tears off her face. “Tell me about last night! You two were the only ones who didn’t come out!!” Angela smiled and managed to look about as excited as she was despite the redness of her eyes and cheeks.
Coll smiled, “Will that make you feel better?”
Angela nodded as she slid into her bunk and laid down while Coll sat on the edge of the bunk across.
She took a deep breath. “We went to the pool like I wanted to.”
“And then to his room.”
“And then he kissed me.” It sounded so much simpler than it felt.
Angela smiled widely and shimmied her shoulders. “YES! Carter! Okay, more details please.”
Coll shook her head, smiling in disbelief this was a story that she was now able to tell, but unsure how to properly put it into words.
“It was perfect.” She said. “I’ve never kissed so much and slept so little in my life and I... can’t wait to do it again, honestly.”
“Yes yes yes!! Ugh I’m so happy for you.” Angela looked delighted, “Ugh you’re so lucky you don’t work here.”
Coll pouted, “I’m so sorry this is a thing for you.”
“Me too. More details though, please.”
“I don’t know what to say, we just… kissed. All night.” She explained, “It was incredible.”
“That’s so hot.”
Coll nodded, biting her lip.
“Did he say anything?”
“There was not a lot of talking …”
“Just kissing and like, truly nothing else?”
Coll looked at her and nodded slowly, “It was really good kissing though. Such good kissing.” Her eyes wandered off, “Very intense. But yeah. It was virginal even for me.”
Angela laughed, “I’m just surprised! I didn’t know he was capable of stopping there.”
“Maybe you were right about what you said … about him doing things differently.”
“I guess so. I didn’t think it would be … THAT different across the board. I’m impressed. You’re rubbing off on him… all mature and stuff.”
“I think it was really just so enjoyable as what it was…”
Angela took more notice of her friend’s demeanour, “Girl, you are like… glowing.”
“I feel like i am going to fall asleep sitting here though.”
“You really did not sleep at all?”
“Not a single minute.”
“Holy shit. Did he?”
Coll shook her head.
“Nick!” Coll called to him from down the hall as she approached. He turned to look back at her.
“Hey.” He smiled, “What’s up?”
“Hey.” She blushed looking at him, “Umm, can I borrow your phone? I promise I won’t leave the building with it.”
“Yeah of course, it’s in my bag in the dressing room.” He adjusted his earpiece while maintaining eye contact with her.
“You don’t really have to ask.”
“No of course, I-“ She began, but didn’t finish. She couldn’t think straight for a moment.
“Do what you have to do.” He said and looked around to see the others had made their way fully down the hall, “Hang out after?” He asked.
She could feel her cheeks turning red again, she knew they were off to the next city overnight. “On the bus?”
She smiled, “Should I bring my pajamas?”
“Obviously.” He replied happily as he leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek quickly before hurrying off down the hall, leaving her standing there grinning, savoring the feel of his lips on her cheek and looking forward to the night ahead.
She had spent a lot of the day in her own head, remembering things she had said to him, things he had said to her, things they had done… and she revisited some of the highlights again as she made her way back to the dressing room.
“You’re amazing.” She wanted to say more but settled on something true but short.
“I just want to keep kissing you.” The memory made her blush - she had done a handful of things that felt incredibly forward, but he made her feel safe enough to do them and that filled her with a sense of joy she had not known before.
His hands in her hair, caressing her shoulders under the sleeve of her shirt, his lips on her face… it made her feel dizzy with bliss.
“To go all in.” She was thrown off by the fact he had remembered this specific phrase she had used in conversation with him only once. He remembered and she felt a million emotional things about that.
“Going somewhere.” It gave her chills.
It felt like months had passed but it was mere hours ago that she was calling him to come into the pool with her. In less than twenty four hours, the axis her world spun on had changed.
After locating his phone she found soft chair to sit in and settled in for a longer than average chat with Becka. She covered everything from the robbery, to the fountain to Brian’s ‘long corridor of life’ and topped it all off with the events of the night before.
“Holy shit Colleen, this is your life.”
“I am the absolute happiest person on the planet today.”
They had barely boarded the bus before they were kissing each other again. They came together hastily, he was throwing his duffel bag wherever it would land, she was kicking her sandals off. They both wanted the same thing.
“I thought about this all day.” He said as he leaned in to kiss her, holding her face in his hands. It was rapidly becoming her new favorite thing.
“I’m so tired but I ...” his word words drifted off as her eyes grazed over his face, “don’t care.”
She smiled and he continued kissing her.
Her brain was full of gray space and her body felt weak in his embrace. They moved slowly to the back of the bus where his bed was and fell easily into it together.
They had been kissing for fifteen minutes when he pulled away from her and said he was sorry.
“I have to take a shower.”
She pushed him gently off of her and wrinkled her nose, laughing lightly. “Hmmm probably true..”
“I’ll be fast.”
While he was showering, the bus lurched into motion and she changed into her pajamas. As much as she had loved and appreciated the gesture of the duck pajamas she had to admit it all felt too innocent for how she felt and how she wanted to be seen by him. Regardless, she smiled at her reflection in the mirror - they were not exactly the right size even though he was with her when she chose the others. These were a little more form-fitting and clung more closely to the curve of her hips on the bottom, while the top accentuated her chest. It was as good as she could have hoped for from such an innocent and modest garment.
She was sitting with her back against his headboard mindlessly playing with the ends of her hair when he returned to the bedroom. He crawled over to her and sat as close as he could.
They looked at each other briefly before moving into action again, eager to resume what they had started. They didn’t have to speak about it or fuss with formalities right now. They just fell into it and stayed there for a while each time.
“Nick,” Coll said with a laugh in her voice, smiling as she pulled away from him twenty minutes later. His hand was on her back and her legs were tangled up with his.
She wasn’t even sure what she wanted to say. “Did you sleep at all today?”
“For like, an hour.” He said, “somehow there was an hour… and I slept through it. So I’m fine.” He smiled and leaned into her again, but she stopped him.
“Wh-“ She began to speak but it was hard, he was looking at her and his eyes were scintillant.
“Colleen.” Her name on his lips lit her up, she felt feverish.
“We won’t even get where we are going til seven a.m. tomorrow, plenty of time to sleep… later”
“Okay.” She was barely able to get the word out before his lips were on hers again.
The two of them carried on their passionate kissing fest for the next several hours, pausing only for more direct access to air or to reposition. The night went on around them, they each had their unanswered questions, but nothing else mattered.
He woke up the next morning with her head on his shoulder, a streak of soft morning light stretched across them in his bed. Her entire body was snuggled into his side. He knew they had fallen asleep around 1 am, after having fought off the fatigue as long as possible. He felt the unfamiliar happy feeling again as he laid there quietly next to her. He resolved to lay there and enjoy it for as long as it lasted.