I feel myself being pummeled with scorching rocks and chunks of ice. My jaw drops and for a minute I try to remind him that I'm naked in his bed to see if he's just having one of those moments where he pretends he doesn't have a brain. But it doesn't work. He is actually adamant about not sleeping with me. "We're starting a business together," he says. This is true; Ben and I have agreed to become the minds behind Shred City, a street-ware clothing and identity line that's been in the failing works for years before Ben and I started getting serious about it. "I'm not Mary," I say. This is also true; Mary is Ben's ex-girlfriend who he previously tried to start Shred City with, only to find out that mixing business with pleasure through a relationship with a psycho woman only ends in disaster. "You're not one of my sluts," he rebuttals, and this shuts me up almost instantly.
That right there is the Ben way of saying what every guy tries to say to me on the second date. It's the Ben way of saying what every guy says when they realize how different I am from everyone else and that they see something more in me. It's the Ben way of saying something that I've been unsure about since meeting him, and something I've been waiting to find out is true. That right there, albeit unconventional, is the Ben way of telling me that he truly cares about me; that he loves me. Never have I known Ben to turn down sex, not to mention we've done it once before since my return, and I've spent the last two nights in his bed with his hand on my ass and we haven't made a move on each other. I'm horny now and I want to fuck his brains out, but here he is telling me that he can't bring himself to sleep with me because he can't let the same thing happen twice with someone who is potentially more valuable to him. After all, I'm not just one of his sluts now, and that's a title I'm sure many girls battle over every time they gather at Esox and the man himself shows up with me. The prize suddenly switches from being the one to get him to being the one who he refuses to take.
I get up and put my clothes on, telling him I have to leave. "Are you mad?" he asks, and his question makes me laugh to myself. "No," I say, and it's true. I'm not mad. I'm more surprised than anything, but the gesture gives me hope. I'm probably the only girl he knows who wouldn't get offended by it and instead take it as a positive thing, a move that shows he cares more than I gave him credit for. He has, for the first time, truly floored me with this surprise compassion, and I've got not choice but to commend him for thinking with his heart and not with his dick; something I didn't figure him capable of doing. He says he's spent a lot of time thinking about it which only floors me again. I ask him if I'm ever going to be anything more than a friend to him, and he tells me I'm already more than his friend. I ask him if we're ever going to have something more than what we have now, and he says "I'm not going to say we never will." I climb on top of him and hug him while he kisses my hand and my fingers. I tell him I love him and he says "I love you too, Styles." This is a good note to leave on, so I walk up the stairs and out the door, through the snow and to my car, to my house and to my bed, where I sleep alone, blown away but strangely content, because now I know everything I need to know.