“Emerson, I would never cheat on you. You have to know that no other girl compares to you. There’s no reason for me even to need anything from someone else, when everything I want is here with you.” I nodded my head, even though I knew that he couldn’t be one-hundred percent sure. He hadn’t come across every girl. One day, he would get tired of my crap. “You have to stop worrying that you’ll lose me. There’s nowhere else in this world that I want to be. I love you, beautiful girl.”

I gasped at his exclamation. Love? When did we get to love? How could I possibly say that back to him? I had never said those words to anyone after my parents’ death. Not even Quinn or Ellie. Those words were permanent.

He grabbed both sides of my face and looked into my eyes. “Relax, I won’t say it again for a while. I just want you to get used to the fact that one day, when you’re comfortable with it, I’ll tell you every day, multiple times a day. I want you to know how much I love you every single damn day, but for now, I’ll just let you soak it in.” He kissed my eyelids, nose, and each of my cheeks. “Besides, I know you feel the same way even if you can’t say it. It’s not possible for us to feel this deep of a connection and for you not to. I can’t be the only one feeling this.”

I pushed him back down onto the couch and started kissing him hungrily, and he matched my fervor. “You’re the most amazing boyfriend a girl could ask for.”

From underneath me, I saw his eyes shoot wide open in delight. “BOYFRIEND?” he hollered excitedly.

“Yes, I can at least admit to this right now. Will you be my boyfriend, Jaxon Riley?” I laughed at him and my ridiculousness.

His face relaxed into a happy-contented look and he quietly responded, “Baby, I thought you’d never ask.” He flipped me underneath him with one hand in my hair and continued kissing me. Our hands started roaming each other’s bodies, enjoying this new step for me. For us.

“Em, can we come out now? I really want to see if Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling hook up!” Quinn yelled from down the hallway.

Still not letting go of Jaxon’s mouth, I shouted back, “NO, GO AWAY!” Although I don’t know if they could actually understand me.

Jaxon chuckled into our kiss. I grabbed him through his pants. He instantly lost the grin and lust immediately consumed his expression. He dipped down to grind against me and we both moaned into each other’s mouths.

“Ew, guys, stop it. Not on the couch.” Quinn was right next to us, batting me off of Jaxon.

“Oh, like we haven’t gotten plenty of fluids on this couch already, sweetheart,” Cole laughed from behind her.

“All of you are disgusting, shut up, push play and keep your fluids to yourselves,” Jace complained.

“Y’all couldn’t have come at a worse time,” Jaxon grumbled.

“Quinn, you don’t even care about Ryan Gosling. You just want to watch it because you think Emma Stone is hot,” I added.

“Hell yeah, that’s my girl!” Cole shouted proudly. Quinn laughed and smacked Cole in the chest while sticking her tongue out at me.

“Hey Quinn, guess what?” Jaxon said looking around Cole at her. “Emerson asked me to be her boyfriend.” He was teasing me, but he had a huge grin on his face. I didn’t realize it would be this easy to make him so joyful.

Quinn started clapping and jumping up and down. “Emmy, you finally put the poor guy out of his misery!”

I instantly turned to face Jaxon. I knew Quinn was playing with me but, there was also truth in her statement. I pouted my bottom lip out at him. “Misery?” I asked.

“Baby, there hasn’t been a second of misery for me since you said you were mine and mine only.” He leaned down, sucked my pouty bottom lip into his mouth, and nipped at it between his teeth. I started running my hands through his hair again.

Jace had turned the lights back off and resumed the movie. Jaxon and I sat stock still in our spots, but I was still riled up from earlier and my need wasn’t going away.

“Babe, I don’t think I can sit here...“ I started to say.

He was already standing up with me in his arms. “Oh, thank God!” he shouted.

“You two are so damn annoying sometimes. At least go to her place,” Jace grumbled. He sure was frustrated a lot more lately.

“Good idea, bro,” Jax said as he turned around from the hallway and headed out the door. “Oh, and I swear to God, we are getting you laid when we get home. You’re grumpy!” He pointed straight at Jace. Cole burst out laughing at the scowl Jace made.

As we were walking down the hallway, I frowned at him. “You’re going to go prowling for girls when you get home?” He walked us over to Quinn’s and my couch.

“Oh Beautiful, is that jealousy I hear?” He nuzzled into my neck.

“What? No. I don’t get jealous.” It was true. I’d never gotten jealous of any other girls. Could I be jealous of the idea of another girl hanging around Jaxon while I’m halfway across the country? That idea had never crossed my mind before I hadn’t thought about him going home in a couple of days and spending time with all of his friends from home. Audrey would be there, no doubt. “Well maybe… a little bit. But only because I’ve seen how gorgeous one of your exes is. I can only imagine what the others look like.”

“Trust me there will be no prowling on my part. I’ll probably spend most of my time depressed because I’ll be missing my girlfriend.” He flashed all of his brilliantly white teeth at me. He was enjoying that word a little too much, already.

“Emerson, I miss you when you go to the bathroom and now I’m supposed to go weeks without you?”

The winter break was a month long. We all promised each other to come back before the month was up, because that was a long time to be separated. But a good majority of that time would be spent apart at our own families’ houses.

“I know that I’ll miss you too,” I whispered into his neck. It was still hard for me to be this upfront and exposed about my feelings.

“Come home with me. Please, you can meet my mom. She’s great and I know she’s dying to meet you.”

“I can’t, Jax, I need to go see Ellie. I’d invite you back with me, but I know how much you miss your mom.”

“Yeah, I can’t leave her during the holidays…” he said sadly.

“Hey, I understand.” I grabbed his face. “It’s only a couple of weeks, then we’ll come back here and lock ourselves in your room and not come out till we’re forced to go to class,” I laughed.

“Promise.” I leaned in to capture his lips. We were going to enjoy our last couple of days together.

Jaxon and I had holed up in his room for the rest of the weekend. I’m positive Cole and Quinn did the same thing in her room, because Cole was leaving with the guys to go back home as well. I never saw Jace for the three days that Jaxon and I had together; he must have gone to stay at a friend’s house because we were so ‘nauseating,’ as he had repeatedly reminded us. I was starting to feel bad for leaving Jace out so much. He must be looking forward to having time alone with his brother and best friend back home.

Quinn and I dropped the guys off at the airport before we left to go home. Jaxon gave me the keys to his truck, in case I needed it for any reason at all. I made it known that there was no way in hell I would even attempt to back that thing out of the garage, let alone drive it down the street. I could just imagine crushing some poor, tiny car. He just laughed at me. I did ask if I could drive the motorcycle around though.

“Absolutely not.” All humor had left his face.

He grabbed the keys back from my hands and removed the motorcycle keys from the keychain, just in case. I never actually planned to drive it; I just wanted to rile him up before he left. Mission accomplished.

I’ll never forget the look on his face when he was saying goodbye. I swear if he had stayed in front of me at that security entrance any longer, I would have seen a tear slip down his cheek. I tried to reassure him that the time would fly by, but I was equally upset about this separation. I felt like we still had a lot of obstacles in our fresh relationship, and this was such an inconvenient time to be apart. I hugged him tightly and leaned up on my toes to kiss his lips.

“Bye, Beautiful, I lo...“ he stopped himself and sighed. “I’ll see you soon.”

I gave him a sad look as I waved goodbye. I hated that he had to hold back his feelings for me, but I still wasn’t ready to say those words back to him, no matter what my feelings were.

The next two weeks moved at a snail’s pace. Ellie and Charles had so many events planned for Quinn and me to attend. Not the fun kind either. The dull business function kind, that we had to get dressed up for, smile pretty, and make polite conversation. I tried to act as if I enjoyed it because it was good business for Charles and it was the least I could do for him after everything he had done for me.

Jace and Jaxon had been waking up extremely early every morning to help around their mom’s land while they were there. It was really hard to catch Jax on the phone. The two-hour time difference usually wouldn’t have been a big deal, but Jaxon was going to bed really early, while I was getting home late from the functions and then sleeping in late. I was becoming frustrated with the lack of communication we’d had lately. We originally planned to video chat every day, but we hadn’t been able to catch each other once yet. The most fun I’d had so far was sending him pictures of myself all dressed up for the functions. Every time I got a chance to check my phone later in the evening he had always sent me back a sexy message saying how much he enjoyed my pictures.

I know that the guys had gone out a couple of times to meet up with friends in their town. Quinn always got edgy when Cole would go out to parties with them. Being such close friends with Cole before he started dating Quinn, we got to hear about all of the girls he would hook up with when he went back home for visits. I think Quinn was worried about those girls. I’d lost count of the number of times I told her how ridiculous she sounded because Cole was absolutely crazy about her.

Recently, he had gone to a party and had gotten so drunk he ended up crashing on the couch there. When Quinn didn’t hear from him until the next morning, she was livid. Everyone in the house could hear her yelling through the phone. I realized he was explaining what had happened and was trying to reassure Quinn that there hadn’t been any girls in his vicinity when he crashed. She apparently didn’t care and eventually just hung up on him.

That was four days ago, and neither of them has even attempted to contact one another. At first, I wasn’t worried because Quinn was complaining to me while Cole was complaining to Jaxon, so I knew they would eventually cave. After four days though, I was starting to worry that their pride would get in the way and they might not be able to get past this.

Quinn had been walking around crying off and on. I was consoling her on the couch in the large living room when the doorbell rang. Ellie and Charles had gone out for breakfast together, so I knew that I would need to get up to answer it. I pulled the door open, completely surprised by Cole, who was standing there looking as sad and depressed as Quinn felt. He had bags under his bloodshot eyes, as if he hadn’t slept a wink.

“Sorry, Emmy.” He shoved past me, barely even noticing that I had spoken. He already had his eyes on Quinn in the living room. He reached her on the couch and pulled her up over his shoulder, her head hitting his strong back.

“WHAT THE HELL, COLE?” she yelled. “You can’t just come charging in here!”

“ENOUGH, QUINN! You’ve been ridiculous long enough.” He found the staircase and started climbing them with a squirming Quinn over his shoulder. I followed behind, giggling at the show. “Where’s her room?” he asked me.

“Take the left hallway. It’s the last one on the right,” I told him.

When she realized where he was taking her, she stopped fighting him. “Thanks, Em,” he called back, turning down the hallway at the top of the stairs. Thank God, he had come to work things out.

I walked up to my room to take a shower. I took all my clothes off and searched for ones to change into for the day. My phone started ringing, but it sounded different from my regular ringtone. When I found it, I realized that’s not what was ringing, and then remembered that I had kept my laptop open in case Jaxon and I could actually catch one another online. I positioned the screen so it only displayed my bare shoulders and face, since I was already undressed for my shower.

“Damn, beautiful, you’re a sight for sore eyes.” He looked tired, but he also looked really tan and if it were possible he looked even more muscular. As if all he had been doing this whole time was working out in the sun. Which is probably exactly what he had been doing.

“Wow, you don’t look so bad yourself,” I winked at him. “So… I’m pretty sure Quinn and Cole finally made up,” I told him.

“Oh yeah? Why do you think that? I thought I would’ve never heard the end of it from him, if that were finally to happen.”

“He just showed up here and dragged her upstairs,” I laughed.