“Well now you have to tell me,” I said.
Passengers were still filing in, struggling to find space for their carry-on luggage. A man a few rows back was swearing under his breath and then barking at the flight attendant.
Tyler looked back, assessing the situation. “It just sucks spending a long weekend with you, and then going home alone to my apartment.”
He frowned. “He’s never home. He’s always at Falyn’s. Besides, he’s not the roommate I want to come home to.”
I blinked, instantly realizing where the conversation was going. “Is she still coming to the party?”
“She’s supposed to,” he muttered, used to my deflection.
“What?” I said, nudging him. “You don’t like her?”
“We don’t fight. Not anymore,” he said. “Not for another few days, anyway.”
“I want you to move in,” Tyler blurted out.
“Where is this coming from? We’re one month in. Baby steps, Maddox.”
He glanced around, trying to keep his voice down. “Maybe I just need a little more commitment.”
I was no longer amused. “What the fuck, Tyler? You’re becoming an overly attached girlfriend. Get a grip.”
“What? It’s not like we just met. Every time I go home, all I see is you. The headboard you made, the decorations … that’s all you.”
He spread his knees apart, slumping in his seat. He looked like a pouting child.
“You are being so weird right now I don’t really know how to respond.”
His jaw muscles danced beneath his skin. “I’m not looking forward to this party.”
“I’m worried that things will get awkward. And we’re in a fragile place anyway.”
“A fragile place? Who are you? And why would things get awkward?”
The flight attendant began her announcements, going over the safety information and asking passengers to put their electronic devices into airplane mode. Tyler’s mind was spinning, but not about anything to do with the flight.
“Yeah?” I asked, bracing myself for what he might say.
“It was Falyn,” he said finally. “I kissed Falyn.” He turned to me, desperate. “It’s like what happened with you and Taylor. She thought I was him, I thought she was flirting with me…”
“You kissed Falyn so you’re asking me to move in with you?”
“I’m so confused. What does that have to do with me moving in?”
“I don’t know, Ellie, I’m freaking the fuck out. I’ve never—” He grabbed my hand and kissed it. “I’m in love with you. You haven’t said it since Thanksgiving. You balk every time I mention moving in. Okay, yeah, I might be a little desperate, but I don’t know what I’d do if you told me to kick rocks.”
Tyler waited for me to say more.
“You’re asking me to move in with you because when I found out about Falyn at the party it would have been easier to keep me from dumping you?” I snapped. “Are you fucking kidding me right now?”
“Yes, but not because you kissed Falyn.”
He looked down, a little lost. “The last month has been amazing, Ellie. Exactly what I thought it would be. I’ve been sweating New Year’s Eve since I found out she was going to be there.”
“Then maybe you should have told me the whole truth the first time. If you remember, I didn’t care then, either.”
“Okay, I did, but it wasn’t a deal breaker.”
“You’re right,” he said, angry with himself. “You’re right. It won’t happen again.”
“Kissing Falyn, lying, or asking me to move in with you?”
He turned to me, his eyebrows pulling in to form a deep line between them.
“Wow,” I said. “I think this is the first time you’ve actually been mad at me.”
“It’s not a good feeling,” he said, still frowning.
The plane taxied out to the runway, and within five minutes, the engines pushed us forward, racing down the asphalt and then into the air.
Tyler slid his hand over mine, resting back against the headrest. “I didn’t realize how scary this would be,” he whispered.
His eyes popped open, and he turned to face me. Even with circles under his eyes and yesterday’s scruff on his face, he was ridiculously beautiful.
“And I said it’d be worth it.” He squeezed my hand. “And it is.”
I grinned. “Just because I don’t say it doesn’t mean I don’t.”
“That you love me? Why is that so hard for you?”
I shrugged. “Your family says it a lot. Mine doesn’t. It just doesn’t feel natural to say. But I do. Love you.” I had to force out the words, but not the feeling behind them.
He kissed my forehead, and then I leaned over, snuggling against his arm and hugging him to me. He rested his cheek on my head, his breathing evened out, and he slept until the flight attendant began her final announcement.
“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seat belt is securely fastened and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Thank you.”
Tyler stirred, rubbing his eyes. “Wow. How long was I out?”
“Well, we’re landing, so a little over two hours.”
“Holy fuck. I must have been more tired than I thought.”
I stretched my neck and leaned in to kiss his cheek, then settled back as we began our descent. The Denver airport was busy and chaotic as usual, but we navigated our new roller luggage through the terminal, to the tram, and finally to level five toward the exit.
Tyler slowed just as we passed through baggage claim, recognizing the couple waving to us before I did.
“Oh, fuck,” I said as my stomach sank.
Finley pulled her newest sunglasses from her face and walked quickly to me in six-inch Louboutin heels, her arms outstretched.
She threw her arms around me, and I looked to Tyler in a panic.
“Finley,” he said, opening his arms to her. “Good to see you.”
“You too, but I’m hugging my sister for the first time in almost a year,” she said, continuing to squeeze the life out of me. “You can wait.”
“Fin,” I said, trying to keep the contempt from my voice. “What a surprise.”
“I know,” she said, finally releasing me. She wiped her cheek. “I didn’t warn you. But I knew you’d say not to come. It’s been ten months, Ellie. I couldn’t give you one more day of space. You’re my sister.”