You woke with a start, half bolting out of the bed. A familiar honking sound assaulted your ears. For a moment, you listened, wide-eyed as the honks flew in through the open bed room windows… Before you crumpled back onto the pillows with a softly moaned “Noooo…” while a tiny part of you that lurked suspiciously close to your heart punched the air with a joyful “Yes!” You tried to shut it up, but as the honking outside grew more insistent, you picked yourself off the bed.
Slipping on the tight little skirt you had kicked off mere hours ago after an evening of club-hopping, you padded off to the front door, running both hands through your unruly hair. On second thought, you ran back to the dressing table and glided on a matte red lipstick over your lips. You sent a silent prayer that the paparazzi wouldn’t catch you in this state, before stepping out and locking the door behind you.
You caught sight of the classic black Mustang in the driveway, engine thrumming and the headlights off. Your heart, pounding since the moment you awoke abruptly, started beating even more violently as you picked out his silhouette in the car. How long had it been since you’d first laid eyes on each other? How long since you’d last turned your backs on each other? Rhetorical though they may seem, you knew the answer to both questions. And it was infuriating that in spite of everything your heart still betrayed you.
He popped the door open and you slid in, slamming the door close in your turn. You stared straight out the windshield, aware of his gaze on you; the intoxicating scent of worn leather, cigarette smoke and his aftershave which pervaded the car tried to soothe your irateness. But you wouldn’t be swayed. You hoped so, anyway. At last, he said, “Hey.” You crossed your arms and replied, “Hey right back at you.”
He spun the wheel around and you were off, off on another midnight ride with Levi Ackerman, whom the media superciliously termed as your ‘on-again off-again boyfriend’. At this point even you weren’t entirely sure what the both of you had: could a relationship be turned on and off, like some kind of switch? But there was something, and that something had drawn you out and into the night, no questions asked. It wasn’t unusual for Levi to come cruising in the wee hours; however, he generally texted before he came to pick you up. But given the drunken stupor you’d been in tonight, it was all but inevitable that you had missed his messages.
“You been drinking?” Levi’s question brought you out of your thoughts.
“You’re not gonna throw up in my car, right?”
Your head whipped around and your eyes landed on what, or whom, they’d been desperately seeking the entire time. Levi had his eyes locked on you too and you felt your body thrill. He looked… hot. And cool. It was like you were gazing at a freezing flame. Maybe it was in his eyes, those dark grey orbs that sometimes looked hazy, lost in daydreaming; at other times, they became stormy with emotion and threatened to suck you in. Right now, they were hard and piercing and made you want to run your hands through his glossy raven locks and feel his heat against your body. Instead, you said, “Does it look like I’m going to throw up?”
He studied your face intently for a few moments before switching his eyes back on the road, apparently satisfied that you weren’t going to besmirch his beloved car. But now, it was hard for you to tear your eyes off his figure. He’d clearly shaved before setting off for your place, and the spicy fragrance of his aftershave made your senses tingle. He was wearing a white V-neck tee that afforded a generous view of his prominent collarbones, and the black leather jacket on top sculpted his shoulders and biceps. His gaze flicked towards you again, a little lower this time; after a moment of contemplation he said, “That skirt looks good on you.”
Trying to keep a smug little smile off your face, you replied, “Thanks.”
“Then you’d been celebrating last night?” He guessed astutely.
“Yeah, we finally wrapped up the recording yesterday, so some friends and I went clubbing and partied it up.”
“Hmm… did the recording take longer than usual?”
“Not really, I just changed my mind a few times.”
He caught the would-be-casual note in your voice. “Oh? Who did you write a song about this time? Was it me?”
A corner of your mouth lifted in an ironic smile. “Why? Are you planning on breaking my heart?” He didn’t say anything, just smirked and faced the road again. You too sat straight and idly noticed that he’s turned the headlights on. That was his way, his Levi logic. He would show up with the lights off and switched them on after driving out of your neighbourhood. Same reason why he rarely parked his car overnight in your driveway. He did it so any paparazzi hanging around weren’t tipped off. These secret midnight drives were somehow special to him, or so you like to believe. Though it always seemed miraculous to you that his blaring horn never brought around a horde of papz. After everything you’d heard and read and seen about him, you cherished these ‘surprise dates.’ They were almost romantic and Levi Ackerman was not a romantic person.
So although you knew, you asked him anyways, “And what have you been up to these last few months?”
“Same old,” he said, reaching for a cigarette. The way he put the fag between his lips, tilted his head and cupped his hands to light it… Goddammit, why did every move of his have to be so bloody sexy? “Was on the road, played a lot of gigs.” This was his way of saying that he’d been touring three continents and performing at sold-out concerts. “Touched ground two hours ago, took a shower and came to pick you up.”
Damn him. You’d sworn you’d stay mad at him. But you could do nothing to fight those warm fuzzy feelings his last words elicited in you. “Mm, you’ve been pretty busy then.” You picked up the pack of cigarettes on the dashboard, only to find it empty. So you plucked out the one between his lips and took a drag from it. “No wonder I haven’t heard from you.”
He watched you puffing, lips parted and expression inscrutable. The glint in his eyes set your nerves on edge and the nicotine rush did nothing to calm them. You wanted to straddle him, right then and there, clutch that impossibly attractive face and peer deep into those unfathomable eyes for a hint of what was going on in that mind of his. “Well,” he murmured at last, “It’s not like you were a chatty Cathy yourself.”
You blew a smoke ring or two and nodded, “Fair point.” Placing the cigarette back where you’d snatched it from, you reclined back onto your seat. The warmth of his lips felt seared into your fingertips. Briefly recalling the manner in which both of you had last parted, you spoke with some effort, “So what all places did you play in?”
This was how it went with the two of you. Round and round. In an already dysfunctional world, you two existed in a dysfunctional realm of your own. The thrill you felt in Levi’s presence, you knew he felt the same about you. It was evident in the way his smoky grey eyes kept drifting away from the road and back to you, almost against his will; his mouth was clamped onto the cigarette, as if he could still savour the taste of your mouth on it. Yet in spite of all the anger, disappointment and bitterness roiling within you, all you wanted right now was for Levi to take you home with him.
He seemed to be thinking along similar lines, for after a few minutes, the Mustang pulled into the underground parking area of Levi’s apartment building. After manoeuvring the car into its slot, he climbed out and you followed suit. Stretching your body like a cat, you turned around and caught him watching you with a small smile on his face. A bolt of heat shot through your veins and crept into your cheeks. You straightened up and headed for the elevators, Levi following in your wake. The elevator whisked you off to the top floor and opened onto the lobby of his penthouse apartment.
Levi unlocked the door and you stepped in. The man taking off his black leather jacket might not look it but he had strong OCD tendencies and it reflected in his apartment. The décor was sparse and geometric, mostly in monochromes; everything was neat and tidy and in its proper place. He walked over to the couch while you wandered in the direction of the kitchen.
You looked back in surprise. Levi was bent over the coffee table, scrubbing at it with a dust cloth, probably for some non-existent speck of dirt. “Bloody cleaners! Always doing a half-assed job, can’t trust the lot of them!” You quickly stifled the laughter that threatened to burst out. “Do you want a beer?” you asked instead. Levi grunted by way of response. You took that to mean a yes and skipped into the kitchen, chuckling under your breath. Opening the fridge, you peered in. Empty, except for a row of beer bottles arranged neatly in the side rack. Seriously, does this guy even eat? You wondered in amazement. He looked pretty skinny with his clothes on but you knew from personal experience how chiselled his torso and abs were.
Picking out two chilled bottles and popping the caps off them, you turned around and nudged the fridge shut with your hips. Only to find Levi leaning against the kitchen doorway. You quirked an eyebrow and asked tongue-in-cheek, “Done playing the housemaid?” Levi cocked his head and sighed, “Just give me the damn beer.” You chuckled again and handed him a bottle. Leaning a shoulder against the other side, you took a sip and watched with lazy fascination how his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down as he swallowed; the shifting contours in his arm and the strip of waist which the hem of his T-shirt lifted to reveal each time he raised the bottle to his lips. The cold, bitter lager could scarcely cool the anticipation building within you.
Levi slowly turned his face, those grey eyes languorously travelling the length of you and back, resting briefly on your mouth before settling on your eyes. His gaze was smouldering and you could feel it in all the right places. Suddenly, the space of a few feet between the two of you seemed too much, too unbearable. You longed to close the gap, but held back. You licked your lips before venturing, “You know…”
“I’m not trying to guilt you or anything but… while you were on tour, I heard that you’d been seeing someone else.”
“Hmm…” The look on Levi’s face said that he’d been expecting to hear something like that. “Well, you heard right.”
Wow. At least he had the guts to admit it. But one of the things you appreciated in him was his honesty. He didn’t take crap from anyone, nor did he hand out any of his own. But it’s not like his answer satisfied you in any way. Then he continued, his eyes still locked into yours with stunning intensity, “But all the time I was with her, I just couldn’t stop thinking about you and I.”
Your breath caught in your throat. Lost for words, blown away… The last person you’d expected to hear something like that from was Levi. Yet there he was, dead serious and unwavering, meaning every one of the words he’d just uttered. Taking a shaky breath to steady yourself, you managed to say, “You know that’s kind of screwed up, right?”
“Yeah, well,” Levi reached across and pulled you to him, linking his hands behind your waist. “Aren’t we screwed up too?” He caught your lips in his, inching you closer to his body. You surrendered to the heady rush only he could induce and locked your wrists around his neck, skimming your fingers through his silky locks, all grudges forgotten. For now.
Not speaking to each other for weeks, fooling around with other people, sneaking off on midnight jaunts… Yeah, the two of you were screwed up as hell. But that was just your style.