The second she sat down, she reached for the knob to the heater, but pulled herself back wondering why she had. The first night had been the only time. Confused at herself, Kairi massaged her hands in her lap. "Don't feel like breaking my car some more?" It was a tease to lighten the mood. To his relief, she gave the smallest hint of a smile. "I was about to, but I thought maybe I should be nice after all the rides you've given me." He chuckled, glad she was playing along.
They traveled for two blocks in silence, thick silence that could only come from a break in laughter. Both tried to think of a topic well away from the question he had asked, but it hung too heavily in their minds. "Are you hungry?" The question came quickly. "I didn't eat anything at the show, and I know you probably haven't had anything since before you worked this afternoon." Once again he was right, and it was easy enough for him to guess what her response was going to be.
"I didn't buy you flowers or anything like that to congratulate you on that show, so I would like to buy you dinner.
Nothing fancy, I promise. We'll eat a McDonalds if that's what you want." Realizing how set he was in his desire, she gave in. "There's a bar and grill at the end of this block; it's not bad." Without further discussion, he made the turn into a lot off the right side of the road, pulling into the only open slot he could find at the back of the bar.
Though he wished he could open the door for her, he knew she would be out just as quickly as he was. To compensate, he was sure to be the first to grab the door leading inside, stepping aside too allow her in with a slight glow of achievement in his eyes.
Kairi gave him a bit of a look, but walked in all the same. The music was fun and loud. One look at those inside and anyone could see that there would be nothing but country and rock spilling from the speakers. "Just two?" A waitress asked as they ended through a long hallway from the back door. Receiving an agreeing nod, she led them through the room. Jasen quickly saw that the music came from a karaoke setup on a small stage. At the moment, no one was singing, though a girl was standing at the DJ table looking through a binder of songs.
They were led to a booth just a few feet away from the stage with a promise that the waitress would be back to take their orders soon. "So what's good?" Jasen flipped through the laminated menu, only two pages long. "Anything with barbecue sauce." "I think that's a rule just about everywhere." Kairi gave a sly smirk, as if she knew something he didn't. "It may be a rule everywhere else, but it's law here.
Barbecue sauce." Once again, she showed her passion, even in something so simple and insignificant. When the waitress returned, he ordered a burger that had both BBQ and barbecue in the name, along with bacon. Kairi, shaking her head and laughing at his decision, asked for the same.
A few minutes after she retreated back toward the kitchen, Jasen looked around the room again. "You know, I've probably driven by this place at least ten times and never noticed it. I like it, though." "It's not a place for everyone, and it doesn't want to be. People drive by this place all the time and never really look at it. You need a reason to take a glimpse inside before you do, and when you do, you realize what you've been missing all along.
Some people have the door opened for them, but they just don't step in, their loss." He understood immediately that she wasn't just talking about the bar, nor was she making reference to only herself, but many things in life.
He shook his head, unable to help from smiling. "How do you fit all that passion inside of you?" Instantly, Kairi's face turned red. "I use a funnel." She was all too aware of how awkwardly the statement came out, but could think of nothing else to lessen his statement.
To her relief, the waitress returned with their food at just that moment. "Wow. That was fast." "We've got a good system here," the waitress joked. "Here you two go. Enjoy!" With a toast of their water glasses, Kairi and Jasen dug in, eating without hesitation.
"You weren't kidding," Jasen managed to get in between bites, "I will never eat barbecue sauce from anywhere else again." This left Kairi in a fit of giggles, shaking her entire body. No matter how many times he saw her laugh, Jasen never tired of watching it, and it never ceased to bring a feeling of warmth to him. The laughter did not seem to stop until the food was done, leaving them with empty plates, teary eyes and refilled waters.
Kairi passed hers between her hands, nerves beginning to rise to a level she hadn't known before. "I want to answer your question." She spoke to the table. Jasen watched her move, seeing the change in her eyes and all over. He didn't want to hurt her and never intended to, almost regretting that he had asked in the first place.
"You don't have to right now, or even tonight. Just, whenever you're." "No." Looking back up, she met his eye, and the sadness in them knocked the air from his chest. "I have to tell you now or I'll never be able to." Every moment she was not speaking, she chewed the inside of her bottom lip, and unlike the first time he had seen her do it, it didn't look erotic. It looked lonely, vulnerable. She took a deep breath and then another, needing to settle her racing thoughts.
Jasen waited, having no desire to push her beyond comfort. Releasing her fingers from the cool glass, she looked him square in the eye. "You saw that guy who was. getting friendly with me that night, didn't you? Him and his friends?" Jasen nodded, needing no time at all to understand who she was referring to. "Yeah. Yeah I saw that." "Did you see the guy who came up and took me away from them?" This took a bit longer for Jasen to pull from his memory, but he did and once again nodded.
"That was Zeke. He's the owner's nephew." "You pushed him away from you." Until the words crossed his lips he hadn't even realized it was something he knew. As soon as it came to him, though, he recalled the expression of disgust on Kairi's face when she had done it, a dark moment that broke even the pretend cheerfulness she wore.
Another moment passed through his thoughts, "And you looked annoyed when you talked him later, just before you left. You were kind of behind the bar, so I didn't see much." It was Kairi's turn to nod, extremely embarrassed that someone had noticed. "You don't get along with him?" "He and I had a. a. a disagreement." "That night?" She shook her head. "No. No, before then." "About what?" As prepared as she thought that she was to tell him this, the words caught in her throat, choking her.
Making it hard to breathe. It took two deep breathes before she found herself about to speak. "About the meaning of the word 'no'." There was no lapse of time between her statement and his understanding of what she met.
His mouth fell open very slightly. "Jesus." "It was a few months before you and Hank played. I was working closing shift. Mark, the manager, wasn't there and the waitress who was supposed to give me a ride, as per her personality, blew me off. Zeke was there, though, and he told me that if I stuck around until he closed everything up then he would give me a ride. And, you know, he can't close up until everyone else has left." "You told someone, right?" Heat and shame rose to her face as she dropped her eyes, not feeling like she deserved to look at him.
"This is the first time I've said it out loud, and I haven't even actually said it. I should have told someone, but by the time I realized it wasn't my fault it was basically too late. And I was worried that people would believe him over me and I would lose my job.
That wasn't something that couldn't happen, you know? I can barely afford life as it is; without that job…" She looked up to him. "Regardless of whatever stupid justifications I made for my… inability to admit that something was wrong, I didn't tell anyone. I went back to work the next day and basically every day after that like nothing happened. I thought if I just moved on, I would be fine. "The thing was, though, he completely controlled my life after that. At first I was scared of him.
When I showered, I rubbed myself raw. When I tried to go to sleep, I saw his face. When I was at work, I didn't want to go anywhere near him. And he would smile at me like…" She shook her head, unable to finish the thought. "Eventually, I stopped being scared and started being mad. Furious. But even then he controlled me. I still thought about him and about. that all the time. I wanted to be in control of myself again; he took my control.
"When I realized that was when I figured that if I slept with someone because I wanted to, someone I chose and said yes to, then I would get some of it back.
So I decided I wanted a meaningless, emotionless one night stand. That's what I went for." For the first time since she began, her words stopped completely, as if she were done. As if she had said all she could say.
Jasen had given more attention to what she was saying than he had ever remembered giving to anything in his life. Everything she had said played over in his head until it was completely ground in.
Still there was something missing. "So that's why you had sex?" Shifting her eyes quickly from him, to the table, and back to him in a circular pattern, she nodded. "Yeah, that's why." "That answers half of my question, but it doesn't tell me." "Why you?" Jasen affirmed the stolen words with the smallest movement of his head. "I don't want to make myself out to be more important than I am, but I know that you've had guys hit on you while you were working.
I've seen guys hit on you. I've seen guys want you and try to get you. Why none of them?" Kairi couldn't lie. It would be more than unfair to bring herself to tell him something that wasn't true, but she didn't need to lie to keep her feelings safely tucked away. "Most of the guys who had tried something with me, flirted with me, 'suggested' things to me. they're regulars. I see them all the time, and they know me. There was no way I could risk having someone else control me the way Zeke did.
Having someone who was just passing through. his last night in town. someone I would never see again, it was perfect." Jasen felt his heart drop. More than his heart. Everything inside of him that held hope for that night seemed to shift downward.
He had been a tool to help her forget. He had been a perfect circumstance. Nothing more. "No." Her voice broke through his thoughts as she shook her head. "You wanted complete honesty." There was a struggle going on inside of her. From the looks of it, a painful one, as she fought to find the right words to say. "Even guys who were just passing through. I turned down any flirtations or anything that came from them.
I came up with reasons why they weren't good enough. Why they weren't right. You. I couldn't find a reason for. "The truth is, Jasen, I used you to help myself. For that I am more sorry than I could ever express to you. But I hope that you don't think you weren't. something. I watched you on stage and I saw how much passion you had. Tyler, his friends, those guys who were passing through, I doubt they've ever been truly passionate about anything in their lives.
I. I'm rambling now. Sorry." He had meant something. Above that, he had not been chosen for simple convenience, but more. In an instant, he felt his spirits rise again and couldn't even begin to imagine being angry with her.
"Kairi," she flicked her eyes up to meet his. "Thank you for trusting me enough to share all of that with me. First of all. don't feel like you used me. If I helped, even the smallest amount, that's what matters." As if she knew something he didn't, she hid a shy smile. "I would say you helped, more than a little." His own feeling of joy was not as easily hidden. "I'm glad." A deep breath came before he could offer more. "That stuff that happened with Zeke, do you want to talk about it?" To his surprise, as well as hers, she nodded.
"I do. And yes, with you. I couldn't imagine talking to anyone else about it." that was more honesty than she thought she would ever share, ".but not right now. I'm not quite ready yet." Despite the anger that had welled within him at the thought of something so terrible happening to the kindest person he had ever met, Jasen couldn't help the relief at having meant something or the appreciation that he was the one she wanted to talk to.
"Thank you, for your honesty, and being able to share that with me." She smiled, almost awkwardly, unsure of what to say after having possibly said too much. Her focus shifted again to her glass of water, but in the silence took note of the music in the background. Took note of the amateur voice controlling the lyrics. "Do you want to do something fun?" The cheery yet mysterious note in her voice intrigued him and threw the lingering mood of the serious conversation aside.
He gave her an inquisitive look, tilting his head slightly to the side. "Do you trust me?" "Yes?" She glanced quickly over her shoulder, but it was enough for him to see exactly what she was looking at.
"Wait, you want me to sing?" With a energized smile, she bobbed her head from side to side. "We'll both sing." Even though she looked serious and excited, he wasn't sure. "You're going to get up and sing?" "You doubt me?
After I was just on stage dancing and singing?" He gave her a crooked smile, looking straight into her eyes. "There is very little I doubt about you after that. But, would you really get up there is sweats?" Looking down at herself, she gave a chuckle, as if she had forgotten what it was she was wearing. The laugh lit up her eyes, pulling Jasen in and showing her beauty. Even in the black sweatpants and gray zip up hoodie, she looked great, especially with that smile.
Rather than answer, she lifted a single side of her mouth to a sly grin and stood, walking away from him and over to the stage. Within seconds, she had a song picked out and was speaking to the DJ. The boy who was currently on stage finished up his song to a light scatter of applause before relinquishing the microphone to Kairi. Until that moment, Jasen had hardly had time to process what was happening, but the second she looked over at him she had his full attention.
"Hey, ya'll." She spoke shyly into the microphone, positioning it back on the stand. Before another word came, the music started, a strong chord followed soon by another. Jasen watched the tips of her fingers tap against her leg, keeping beat.
"Last night I got served a little bit too much of that poison baby. Last night I did things I'm not proud of, and I got a little crazy. Last night I met a guy on the dance floor, and I let him call me baby." Her hips swayed lightly as she went on. Unable to take his eyes from her, Jasen only sensed the turn of heads as she reached the chorus.
More than the tone of her voice, he believed people were drawn to how truly she performed, getting into the song and letting everything else go. "And I don't even know his last name.
Oh, my mama would be so ashamed. It started off 'Hey cutie, where ya from?', and then it turned in, 'Oh no, what have I done?' And I don't even know his last name." Her eyes closed at some moments as her fingers wrapped around the microphone, hips still swaying to the beat.
For the second time that night, she was dragging the audience in with her, some of the men watching every small swing of her body, enticing even in the unflattering sweats. Jasen was drawn in more than any of the others, seeing her movements in slow motion as they happened. Even having seen her dance as magnificently as he had earlier that night, the simple shifts were near perfection.
Jasen might have felt uncomfortable with the lyrics, but looking at her allowed him to experience no such thing. He already knew he had been more than nothing to her and was able to see it was a song she knew and enjoyed.
Not once did she look down at the screen to see the words. Her voice was strong through the rest of the performance, and the moment it was over, it was met with an equally strong applause, some people giving a whoop or whistle. Unlike earlier that night, Jasen found himself capable of applauding her, a cheerful grin covering his features. As he watched, Kairi dropped herself from the stage and rushed over to him.
"Okay, your turn!" Eyes still followed her as she moved, standing just inches away from Jasen and still catching her breath from the performance. Without warning, her warm hands clasped around his wrist and pulled him outward. "I got up and sang, now it's your turn." Overcome by her excitement, he allowed himself to be dragged along. "There's no way they're going to enjoy me singing as much as they did you." "Oh, shush! You know people love you.
Now get up there." She gave him another push toward the DJ table and his eyes fell to the open binder, immediately catching a song. "Fine," he said, his own excitement growing, "but you're coming with me." "No. No. It's your turn. Just go." Speaking a quick word to the DJ, he held tight to her wrist and went up to the stage.
"Hey, everyone. Kairi here wants me to get up and sing one by myself, but I'd like her to sing with me, what do you think?" A hearty cheer was the only answer he needed. Still having a list of protests, she was running short on time to give them.
The music started. It was a song she had heard several times while in his car, and he knew this would kill any attempt at saying that she didn't know the duet well enough to sing it. He'd heard her humming along the last few times it had come on. Jasen quickly snagged another microphone from the back of the stage, just in time to get in his first line. He hadn't been up in front of a crowd since school had started and the impact of turning to see so many eyes on him sent a warm rush through his body.
This was something he had truly missed. Despite her protests, when her part came up, she sang enthusiastically. The melodies collided and they held their parts perfectly. Jasen glanced over at her, not wanting to lose her from his sight for too long. He had sung countless duets with a number of people, but none felt as pure as singing with her.
Just as he was about to turn back to the crowd, she looked over and caught his eye. Her smile didn't hitch her tone, but the one he couldn't help but give bumped his up the smallest fraction of a pitch.
She thought of the night she met him. As soon as the tune was done, everyone in the bar began to cheer. Realizing he had barely given any of his attention to their audience, he turned to look at them.
More people than he had remembered seeing before stood and watched them, drinks in their hands and smiles of their faces. "Do another!" Someone yelled. The people cheered more. Kairi was laughing, the kind of laugh that comes only from circumstance, as if she couldn't believe what was happening.
"Want to?" Jasen asked her, tentatively, suddenly overcome by how much he wanted to continue to sing with her. She was open, fearless when she was onstage, and he needed to see more. Without a word, she hopped over to the DJ, microphone still in hand. He smiled and nodded at her request and the crowd erupted once more, glad their request was being carried out. Before she got back to her place at the front of the stage, and before any music started, she was singing into the microphone.
"Well, I feel no shame. I'm proud of where I came from; I was born and raised in the boondocks." A few heavy beats fell and Jasen replied to her words with the next line of the song, neither needing to so much as signal to the other how the words would be split. "One thing I know, no matter where I go, I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks." He looked straight at her as she moved back toward him, leaving her microphone limp at her side as he sang the single bit. As the next one came up, they sang together.
"And I can feel that muddy water running through my veins." She jumped up to a harmony on the final word, then back down to melody, making Jasen smile.
Kairi was far more talented than she had ever let on. "And I can hear that lullaby of the midnight train." The people in front of them began to clap to the beat.
Wordlessly, and flawlessly, the two swamped singing melody and harmony. Jasen felt a high that hadn't come to him in a long time. It was the same unexplainable high that had come to him the first time he'd seen her, the first time he'd seen her smile.
The twitch in his stomach that had come when she understood his Hulk reference. The pull in his heart when she looked him in the eyes.
"You get a line, I'll get a pole. We'll go fishing in the crawfish hole." "Five-card poker on a Saturday night, church on Sunday morning." A round came and they looped perfectly, ending on a dragging harmony, but before they could get out the last words of the song the cheering began.
Whistling and whooping once again. "Hey you two." Their waitress appeared at the front of the stage before them. Jasen thought for a moment they were going to get scolded for hogging the stage and began to hope that it wouldn't embarrass Kairi too much. "My boss says if you guys keep it up for another few songs and keepin' the folks going. and keep them buying drinks. you're food's on the house. It's been a long time since we've had anyone people actually liked in here." With a wink, she was gone.
Once again, Kairi was laughing. "If you're up for it, its your pick." Not wanting the moment to end, unwilling to surrender his high, Jasen went straight over the the DJ and got another song going.
The longer they sang, the more people seemed to congregate in the open area in front of them, and the more drinks seemed to be passed around.
They both danced around the stage while they sang, doing a few duets and singing harmony to each other for others. For what he planned to be their final song, Jasen really wanted to get them going. Leaning over to Kairi, he whispered loudly to be heard, and she responded with a quick nod. As he looked at her, he saw the light layer of sweat that found its way to her face.
She wiped it off with the sleeve of her sweatshirt, a smile all but cemented on her face. They sang together and both completely let loose, Jasen not wanting to hold back one bit if this was to be their last "Hey mister, won't you sell me a fake I.D.? There's a band in the bar that I'm dying to see. I got my money, you got what I need. Hey mister, won't you sell me a fake I.D.?" The crowd was singing a long, dancing and jumping around.
Kairi leaned forward over the stage, crouching down, and sang with one of the girls closest to her, laughing and smiling the whole time. Another sound ended, this time with the heartiest applause of the night. "Do you trust me?" Kairi's expression was still light, yet held the smallest degree of seriousness.
Jasen knew his stare was blank, not understanding what she was referring to. "Do you trust me?" She repeated. This time, he nodded. "Alright everyone, we've had a lot of fun tonight, but it's about time we relinquish the stage." A general groan ran through everyone.
"But," Kairi called over them, "before we run away, we're going to do one more song. This one will be a bit different than what we've been doing, so I hope you all won't hate it. Now, my friend Jasen here, he might need a little bit of encouragement, so keep that cheering going for him!" As the crowd followed orders, Kairi once again bounced over the the DJ.
Her words to him were longer than any other had been, but when she was done he smiled and nodded in understanding. "What are you planning?" She hooked her microphone back into its stand, and for a moment, he thought she was going to ignore his question. "You can do this, okay." Kairi nodded to the DJ who looked down to his computer. "Do what? What song." The music started, and from the first chord he recognized it.
The adrenaline which had been coursing through his body the entire time he had been singing went straight to his heart as he felt the onset of panic. "Wait. this song? Kairi." She was backing away, only a few steps, but away from the microphone. He was alone. "You can do it. I believe in you." He had no more time to disagree. "Something takes a part of me.
Something lost and never seen." His eyes went to the audience which collectively seemed to take in the slower pace.
In return, Jasen took them in, ever single pair of eyes trained on him. "Everytime I start to believe, something's raped and taken from me. from me." His nerves had not yet subsided, but he sang on. "Life's gotta always be messing with me." "You wanna see the light?" To his surprise, Kairi was back in the front, singing the accompanying part to a song he had played for her only once, several months ago. Her voice was steady and almost soulful.
Calming. "Can't they chill and let me be free?" "So do I." "Can't I take away all this pain." "You wanna see the light?" "I try to every night all in vain." ".in vain." The crowd still watched, memorized, as they rose in the chorus. "Sometimes I cannot take this place, sometimes its my life I can't taste. Sometimes I cannot feel my face. You'll never see me fall from grace.
Something takes a part of me. You and I were meant to be. a cheap fuck for me to lay. Something takes a part of me." The next verse came and went, Kairi resuming her soulful tone as Jasen felt himself completely loosened, losing himself in the song he never thought he'd sing in front of anyone, let alone a crowd.
An instrumental part began and he watched from the corner of his eye, as Kairi took a step back. "Go!" Jasen continued with the upbeat call and did not notice the body step up next to him.
"Oooo" She was following the string of vocalizations, leaning into the microphone and glancing sideways at the crowd. Only it wasn't her own microphone she was singing into. It was his, and she was only inches away. The vocalizations finished and they both turned inward, singing straight at each other. "Something takes a part of me. You and I were meant to be. a cheap fuck for me to lay. Something takes a part of me.
Part of me. Part of me. Part of me!" Jasen breathed heavily, having put too much of himself into the final moment. As the music faded, he was unable to tear himself from Kairi's eyes.
Her chest rose and fell as his did, and neither heard the moment of silence that filled the room. Nor did they hear the honest applause when it began. A million questions ran through Jasen's mind, but before he could form them into coherent thoughts, she treated him to the tiniest smile, yet the truest, he had ever seen from her. Something close to an apology, mixed with nervous uncertainty, lay in her eyes, but the smile hit them as well. The corner of his lips twitched.
His heart fluttered. She turned away. "Thank you all!" As soon as she spoke, he became aware of everyone else and looked out toward them. Without a word himself, and only a wave, he followed as Kairi jumped down from the stage. "You two were great!" Their waitress was back, a big smile on her face. "The big man wanted me to tell you that he hopes you come back.
He'd come out and tell you himself, but he's a bit weird like that. You're bill is taken care of, so don't you worry about that, and I grabbed your coats for you. Didn't want to leaveTheir waitress had brought their coats to a set of chairs nearer the stage so they wouldn't need to worry as much about them.
Throwing his own coat over his shoulders, he handed Kairi hers and led her toward the back door. The second it closed behind them, she turned to him, nerves still behind her eyes. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have forced that on you.
It was wrong." "How." he cut her off, looking straight down into her eyes. "How did you remember that song?" He could see that she was about to break her eyes from his, but resisted.
"I. I wanted something to remember you by. If you want the CD back you can have it." "Thank you." The words were pure and without subtext. "Thank you for making me do that." Instantly, a relieved smile spread across her features. Unable to help himself, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her in for a tight hug.
"I never could have done that without you." She said nothing, but he heard her smile deeper. "I guess I've kept you out late enough. I'll get you home." Reluctantly, he pulled away and they walked together to the car.
"You said earlier that if you had helped, that was the important part." It was minutes later, and they were parked outside her apartment building. Jasen nodded in agreement. "Yeah." "I stopped dancing, after Zeke. Dancing isn't right unless I can free all of my thoughts and emotions, but I couldn't with him constantly on my mind. But after that night, you had me listen to that song that you felt so strongly about, one you were afraid of and.
everything that happened between us. I danced again after that. Because of you." His heart swelled larger than his chest would allow it, leaving him short of breath and unable to speak.
"Thanks for coming tonight, seeing me onstage. And letting me sing with you. I'll see you tomorrow, Jasen." "Night, Kairi." Was all he got out before the door closed behind her and she rushed through the cold toward her building. Jasen sat there, staring after her as his car ran.
As she disappeared from sight, all of his thoughts suddenly became clear and coherent. He had just finished singing the song that scared the hell out of him in front of a crowd of people. He sang it well, confidently, fully, and he sang it with Kairi. He sang it because of Kairi. Thoughts traveled everywhere. The bend of her body.
The sound of her voice. His heart spend up a noticeable degree. All this time he had been trying to get her to open up, and she had managed to open him up in a way that showed she already understood him. This girl took control of his thoughts the moment he saw her. She danced around in them, constantly filling it with more and more questions, and the occasional answer that made everything worth while. With a confused sigh, he shoved a hand into the pocket of his coat.
Unexpectedly, he felt a piece of paper inside of it. Pulling it out, he unfolded it until it lay flat in his hands. The watermarked stationary contained nothing but his own handwriting, a message he had scribbled months before. His eyes ran over the words, and without another thought, he killed the engine and ran after her. Up two flights of stairs and past the first door. Disregarding the hour, he knocked with more force than necessary. She was quick to open it, and looked at him with confusion.
"I didn't leave." ".What?" "That night, that first night. You said I left, but I didn't leave." Jasen pushed the note into her hands as her eyes fell to it, shifting from the printed words to the watermark of the hotel he had brought her to.
"I never wanted it to be a one night stand." Her mouth fell open, as if she needed to say something, but could think of no words. "Please.please say something." "You ran all the way up here to give me this?" Her eyes finally shifted up to his, her heart pounding in her chest. Jasen shifted, uncertain, but his body seemed to decide his next movements without his permission. "And this." His fingers caught the back of her neck, pulling her in quickly.
In a kiss that pulled all breath from his body, Jasen tried to reign back the urgency that surged through him. Unlike the first kiss, she returned this without hesitation. Shyly, after but a few seconds, she pulled herself back, biting gently on her bottom lip before speaking. "Do you. do you want to come in?" Before he could respond, his fingers were laced with hers, and he was drawn inside.