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Only You

For Ben

Pulling the covers over her head, Paige tried to blot out the bright sunshine streaming into her room. A glance at her clock told her it was well after eleven. Groaning she sat up, rubbing her tired eyes. Almost instantly, the phone on her bedside table started to ring. For a moment she contemplated leaving it for someone else to answer but then she remembered that everyone else was out. Reaching over, she lifted the receiver.
“Hello?” She answered groggily.
“Paige?” A familiar voice asked.
“Hey Xav. Hows you?” she asked, trying to conceal the unfounded happiness that flooded through her at the sound of his voice.
“Not so great, you?” He muttered, a trace of bitterness in his voice.
“Fine. What’s wrong?”
“Nothing, forget it.”
“Xav, tell me.”
“Well it’s just that I had a bit of an argument with Abi yesterday.”
“I’m sure you two will work it out, you always do.” She couldn’t help but mentally add “unfortunately” to the end of her sentence. Instantly she felt guilty, though there was no way he could know what she was thinking.
“I’m not so sure. This time I think this is the end.” His voice cut through her thoughts.
“Oh Xav, I’m sorry. You know if you ever need someone to talk to...”
“Yeah, I know. Thanks Paige.”
They carried on talking for a few minutes, and then said their goodbyes.

As soon as she put down the phone, Paige flopped back onto the bed. She could hardly believe what she had heard. Xavier and Abigail, over? It was what she had wished for time after time, with no hope of it ever coming true. It wasn’t like she actually had a chance with him, even if they did break up. And she still wasn’t sure if she even wanted a chance. Xavier was a total flirt, and though Paige was forced to admit she loved flirting back, she wasn’t sure she’d be too happy going out with the guy. She wasn’t even sure how she felt about him.

The following day, Paige came home late and on the edge of exhaustion, went straight to bed. She was drifting on the verge of sleep when the phone brought her back to earth. It was Xavier. And he was absolutely devastated. They talked for almost two hours. He poured out his heart to her, telling her everything. All about his conversation with Abi, how she had told him she was in love with someone else, and how she had refused to talk to Xavier again. Almost a year and it was all over. Paige listened, knowing he just needed to talk. She had never heard him sound so vulnerable. All she wanted to do was make his pain go away, and all she could do was listen. He told her all about the good times, all the romantic things he’d done for Abi before they broke up, and all the ways he’d already tried and failed to win her back. When he’d finished, Paige made him promise to give her a call anytime he needed to talk, whatever time of day or night. Then they said their goodbyes and hung up.

After the phone conversation, Paige couldn’t get Xavier out of her mind. All she wanted to do was help him. She wanted to scream at Abi. Ask her why, how, she could possibly have given up someone as wonderful as Xavier. That’s when it really hit her. She wanted to be the one to make him happy, not Abi. She wanted to hold him and never let him go, wanted to comfort him whenever he was hurting. She was falling for Xavier, hard. And there was absolutely nothing she, or anyone else, could do to stop it.

For the rest of the week, Xavier and Paige spoke for hours every night. Abi was still refusing to take Xavier’s calls, and he had finally accepted that he wasn’t going to get her back. He had heard through a mutual friend that Abi had started dating Justin, the guy she was in love with, a few days after the break up. More often than not, Xavier would wind up crying at some point in the conversation. And it was breaking Paige’s heart. By the end of the week Paige had decided she needed to cheer Xavier up, big time. She had already suggested that they go catch a movie during the week but he had refused, saying he couldn’t cope with going out. By Sunday, Paige had decided that “no” was simply not an acceptable answer. When they spoke on Saturday she asked him if he would come with her to pick up a present for her grandparent’s anniversary from a shop in Central London. Eventually he agreed and promised to drop by her house the following day so they could go together. Telling him she was worried about going into London alone had worked like a charm.

The journey to Leicester Square was surprisingly short, and Xavier seemed much happier than he had done in a long time. They quickly found the shop Paige was looking for and within five minutes they were outside the shop again, shopping bags in hand.
“Is that all?” He asked, sounding more than a little surprised that the shopping trip had been so short.
“Not quite.” She said, skilfully hiding a grin. “You don’t mind do you?”
“I’m actually having quite a good time.” He smiled. “You were right, I needed to get out of the house.”
“That’s all I needed to hear.” Paige smiled, before grabbing his hand and rushing off down the road. It was time for phase two of her plan. Moments later they were standing outside the Trocadero, Leicester Square.
“Don’t say anything!” She said quickly, sensing he was about to object. “You’re gonna have fun today if it’s the last thing I do!”
She watched as a slight smile spread across his face.
“Thanks Paige. You’ve been a really great friend.”
Impulsively she gave him a one armed hug and he looked down at her, slightly surprised.
“So what do you want to do first?” She asked brightly, avoiding his searching gaze.

They spent the rest of the day playing arcade games, from car races that he always won, to air hockey where Paige could really hold her own. By the time they left, Paige had to admit she’d had a fantastic day. And she could tell from the smile on Xavier’s face that he’d had a good time as well. He had managed to forget Abi for a few hours and that was the one thing he needed more than anything. She glanced at her watch. She couldn’t believe how late it was. But she wasn’t ready to say goodbye to him yet. As they started walking back to the station, a Starbucks sign caught her attention.
“How about a coffee?” She asked impulsively.
She watched nervously as he glanced at his watch.
“Sure, why not?”
She almost sighed in relief. She still had another hour or so before they had to say goodbye.

When they arrived at Starbucks, he insisted on treating her to a drink to thank her for the fantastic day out. They found a couple of seats in the corner of the room and Paige curled up on the sofa with her hot chocolate. She expected Xavier to sit in the chair opposite her but instead he sat down next to her on the sofa. As she sipped her drink, she watched him through her lashes. He was staring into space, his face an expressionless mask.
“Are you OK?” She asked after a while, lightly resting a hand on his arm.
“You know... I am.” He said smiling. “I just spent the last five minutes thinking of Abi and for once I didn’t feel like crying. I still miss her more than anything but it’s getting easier.”
“Xav, that’s great.” She said, putting down her drink so she could give him a hug.
“Thank you for today, it’s been amazing.” He said, hugging her back.
As she shifted to look at him, he dipped his finger into the whipped cream on her drink and ran it over her nose.
“Xav!” She shrieked, grabbing a serviette to wipe it off. But she couldn’t help the giggles that formed in her throat.
“Cheeky!” She said, hitting his arm playfully.
Pulling her into his arms he gave her a huge bear hug.
“You know you love it really.” He winked.
“Oh sure.” She agreed sarcastically, hoping her voice didn’t betray too much.

Eventually, it was time to leave. They spent the whole journey home teasing each other about embarrassing defeats in the arcade and laughing at Xavier’s terrible jokes. When they arrived back at Paige’s house they were both sorry to say goodbye and end the day, but both of them had things they needed to do. On the curb next to his car, Xavier gave Paige a hug to say thank you again. Then he gave her a quick kiss on the lips. Surprised she looked up at him questioningly.
“What?” He asked grinning.
“I just wasn’t expecting that, that’s all.” She blushed.
Kissing her once more, he winked before getting into the car.
“I’ll call you later.” He called out the window.
And then he was gone. Left standing on the curb, Paige lifted her fingers to her lips that were still tingling from the split second contact. Her heart was pounding, she couldn’t think straight, couldn’t breathe. Forcing herself to calm down, Paige took several deep breaths before going inside.

The days passed by in a blur. She continued to speak to Xavier every night. And the topic of conversation was no longer exclusively Abi. They talked about everything from first kisses to favourite movies. And though Abi still featured, Paige knew Xavier’s hurt was beginning to heal. Two weeks after their outing to the Trocadero, Xavier called sounding very near to tears. Eventually Paige managed to find out what was wrong. Abi had called. Their conversation hadn’t lasted very long but from what Paige could tell, Abi and Justin weren’t getting along so well and Abi was wondering if maybe she had made a mistake ending things with Xavier. It took Paige over an hour to calm him down. And an extra thirty minutes to make him realise Abi was just feeling insecure and knew that he would jump at her call. By the time they got off the phone, Paige was on the verge of murdering Abi for what she had done to Xavier. Abi didn’t deserve the love of someone as amazing as Xavier, not after the way she’d treated him.

The following day, Paige pushed aside her thoughts of Xavier for something far more important. Shopping! However, she was ready to give up. She had been shopping for well over four hours and she had everything she could possibly need for her grandparent's 50th wedding anniversary party. Except a dress. She'd had no idea that a simple black dress was so hard to find. She knew exactly what she wanted; an ankle length slinky black dress, with a slit up one side and spaghetti straps. After two hours, she had resigned herself to the fact that her dream dress did not actually exist. Sitting down on a bench to rest her aching feet, she shifted her bags from one hand to the other. She had tried on every black dress she could find, but there had been a problem with every one. Paige had a figure that many girls would kill for, but it was near impossible to find clothes that fit properly. The few dresses she had tried on, had, either looked absolutely awful or were too short or revealing for her grandparents conservative taste.

Sighing, she got back onto her feet, exhausted and beaten. She had gorgeous new shoes; black sandals with wedge heels, and a beaded black choker with a matching bracelet. She even had some new expensive make-up. But it was all useless without a dress. Miserably she started threading her way through the crowds towards the station. She paused in front of a shop she had passed thousands of times before. She made a point of avoiding the overpriced shop as she almost always saw something she liked but couldn't afford. Even the accessories were too expensive for her. But the dress in the window had caught her attention on more than one occasion. It was nothing like her dream dress except for the length and the straps but there was something about it that attracted her. She knew bright red was not the most practical colour, but it would match all her black accessories... and besides, she was desperate! Determined, she pushed open the door and stepped inside, smiling slightly at a "sale" sign she saw in the window. It didn't take long to locate the dress and up close it was even more stunning than it had appeared in the window. She reached out to look at the price and her fingers brushed the silky fabric. She would give anything for that dress. She grimaced slightly as she caught sight of the price. Even at half price it was a long way over her budget. But she couldn't walk away from that dress anymore than she could go to her grandparent's party in jeans and a T-shirt. Taking a size 10 off the rails, she went into the changing rooms. A moment later she was standing in the centre of the mirrored room, her eyes wide with awe. She almost didn't recognise herself. The dress fit her perfectly. It clung in all the right places, the scoop neckline emphasised her natural curves, and the vibrant colour set off the natural streaks of red in her light brown hair.

She did one final twirl in front of the mirrors, loving the feel of the soft fabric, of the flared skirt, swirling around her ankles. Then she put the dress back on its hanger and took it back out to the shop. As she walked out the shop, she felt as if her heart were breaking. It seemed as if she were walking away from her dreams, not just a dress. Impulsively, she pulled out her phone and punched in her home number. Her mother answered on the second ring. Briefly she described the dress to her mother, adding as many complimentary adjectives as she could think of, before dropping the rather expensive bombshell. The dress was well over the amount she had planned on spending at £67.50, but she had to have the dress even if she paid for most of it herself.

When she hung up the phone, her mother had agreed to pay £40 towards the dress. The rest would come from Paige's rapidly decreasing bank balance. A few minutes later, she left the shop, her beloved dress tucked carefully under her arm. As she walked down into the station, she still couldn't believe the dress was actually hers. She couldn't wait for Xavier to see her in it. Collapsing onto a seat on the train, she almost groaned aloud. Where had that thought come from? And who was she trying to kid? Xavier would never see her in the dress. She'd been told weeks ago that she could bring a date, but she'd held off asking anyone else because she wanted Xavier. But she knew that even if she worked up the courage to ask him, which was unlikely, the chance of him actually coming was near impossible. She wanted it too much for it to actually happen.

As soon as she walked in the front door, Paige went up to her room and changed into the dress to show her mother. She came downstairs just as her mother was about to go out.
"What do you think?" Paige grinned, twirling at the bottom of the stairs.
"You were right, it is a beautiful dress, and it looks wonderful on you." Her mother replied, smiling at her daughter’s excitement.
"I know!" she half screamed, spinning around again. "I love it!"
Laughing, her mother waved goodbye as she left, closing the door behind her. Paige knew she should take the dress off but she was unable to resist one more twirl in front of the mirror, loving the feel of the soft, silky fabric next to her skin. She had just turned to go upstairs and change when the doorbell rang. Assuming her mother had come back for something she had forgotten, Paige thought nothing of opening the door in her dress.

Pulling open the door, her breath caught in her throat.
"Xav!" She gasped trying to control her racing heart.
“Paige…” He half whispered. “You look… absolutely stunning.”
As she stood aside to let him past, it was impossible to miss the look of pure desire that had spread across his face. And she was terrified it was mirrored in her own eyes as she gazed at him. As he followed her into the living room, there was an air of awkwardness between them that was impossible to ignore.
“I’m just going to get changed.” She forced herself to say before backing out the room. As soon as she was outside, she raced up the stairs and into her room, closing the door behind her. She collapsed trembling onto her bed. His face was vividly emblazoned in her mind. She could hardly believe that look had been meant for her. But she knew it had, she had felt it. And there was no ignoring the raging fire burning deep within her, making her crave him with every fibre of her being. She would never forget that look as long as she lived. Slowly, she got up, before hurriedly changing into jeans and a T-shirt.

When she got back downstairs, Xavier had turned on the television and was in the process of completely ignoring a re-run of an old episode of “Friends”. He looked up when she entered, the smile on his face easing the awkwardness. She sat down next to him and within minutes they were chatting as if the awkwardness had never even existed. A half hour later, they were still talking. She had just finished describing the ins and outs of her shopping trip and he had expressed his approval of all her purchases, especially the dress. Suddenly she was filled with a burst of courage.
“Xav… I’ve got a question for you…” She said quietly.
“Go on…”
“I was wondering if, maybe you’ll be my date for my Gran’s party.”
She glanced at him from under her lashes.
“Just as friends of course.” She added quickly, nervously awaiting his response.
“I…” He started, then paused.
“You don’t have to, if you don’t want to. I was just wondering if maybe you’d like to… it’s fine if you don’t.” She rushed desperately wishing she had never even asked him.
What was the point in courage? It just made everything ten times worse. If only she had…
“Sure I’ll come.” His voice cut through her thoughts.
“What? Really?” She said, relieved that her surprise hid the elation in her voice.
“Well, so long as you wear that dress anyway!” He said, grinning wickedly.
“Thanks!” She grinned, unable to stop the laughter bubbling up in her throat. “You’re the best, Xav!”
“I know!” He replied, with his usual modesty.
She hit him playfully and he retaliated by tickling her. As they tumbled off the sofa in fits of laughter, Paige felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders. For one night he was hers, even if it wasn’t in the way she wanted it.

The next few weeks passed in a blur. All she could focus on was the upcoming party and how desperately she was looking forward to seeing Xavier dressed in a tuxedo. She still continued to speak to him every night on the phone. And with every conversation, she fell for him more and more. She knew Abi hadn’t called again, but Xavier wouldn’t give up on the hope that he could still win her back if she split from Justin. They met up a few times for coffee and a trip to the cinema, and each time he had kissed her. She knew he had no idea how much it meant to her. And she hated that it meant nothing to him. But she couldn’t ask him to stop. Couldn’t give up the one thing she craved more than anything. She knew she was going to end up getting hurt, but she couldn’t help it, couldn’t break out of the downward spiral. Because she knew if he stopped, it would hurt her even more.

Finally the day of the party dawned. Paige spent almost three hours getting ready. Desperate to make him want her. Needing to see that look of intense desire she had seen only once before. At eight exactly, she heard the sound of a car pulling up outside her house and the butterflies that had been fluttering inside her suddenly took flight. When she opened the door, she was unable to control the feelings of total devotion that surged through her at the sight of him. But she knew nothing could possibly have prepared her for the image of the one person she wanted more than anything, standing on her doorstep in a tuxedo, holding a single red rose. Silently he handed her the rose and somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind she noticed how it exactly matched the colour of her dress.
“You look…” He trailed off, his eyes roving over her body, taking in every inch of her, as if trying to commit every detail to memory.
She knew she looked good. He had been hooked when he had seen her in the dress alone. Now with her new jewellery, her hair styled and her features enhanced by a touch of make-up, the effect was breathtaking. Catching her eye, he ran a hand through his hair. She could see the need in his eyes and in that moment, she knew it was reflected in her own. And she could do nothing to hide it.
“You’re beautiful.” He whispered softly.
“Thank you.” She said, her voice catching in her throat. “You look pretty great as well.”
For a moment they stood opposite each other, draped in an awkward silence.
“Well I guess we should get going.” He said finally.
She nodded silently. Taking her drape from the banister, she wrapped it around her shoulders before following Xavier out the door.

Xavier didn’t say a word for most of the journey to the hotel where the party was being held. The car was filled with an uncomfortable silence and Paige could almost feel the tension radiating from Xavier’s rigid body. She desperately wanted to reach out and rest a hand on his shoulder to relax him but she knew she couldn’t. She wondered if it would have been better to meet him there. But that hadn’t been practical. Her whole family was staying at the hotel, but there hadn’t been enough room for the five of them in the one suite so Paige had talked her parents into letting her stay at home. The original plan had been that she would get ready at the hotel and then her father would have driven her home at the end. Xavier had made it possible for her to get ready at home when he offered to give her a lift. And he would drive her back after the party.

A few minutes before they arrived, Xavier broke the silence.
“Abi called earlier…”
The mention of his ex-girlfriend was like a knife through Paige’s heart, but she had to know.
“What did she say?” She asked, careful to keep her voice level.
She knew it was only the second time Abi had called since the break-up.
“Not much. Just that she’s staying with Justin. They’re going to work through their problems…”
“Oh Xav, I’m sorry.”
“It’s not your fault.” He said giving her a sideways look. “Anyway, she wanted to meet up tonight.”
“I’m sorry I roped you into coming tonight, I know how much you wanted to see her.”
“Don’t be sorry, It’s good that I’m busy.”
“Well she needs to know she can’t just click her fingers and you’ll be there...” Paige said, trying to ignore the fact that the night was so important to her, yet so meaningless to him.
“I know…” He quietly trailed off.
Turning to look out the window, Paige wished she was more to him than just an excuse to Abi, but she knew that was too much to hope for. She felt the tears building up behind her eyelids and she quickly blinked them away, terrified he would see.

When they arrived, the reception room was full of relatives Paige vaguely remembered from when she was younger. Instantly she was pounced on by a million people telling her how grown-up she looked and how much taller she was. Shooting a desperate look at Xavier, she fended off questions from curious family members. After a while, Xavier made his way through the circle and taking her arm, lead her to the bar. As he handed her a glass of white wine she smiled her gratitude.
“Thank you for rescuing me!” She said, sipping her drink.
“Anytime. It’s quite fun being the knight in shining armour!”
“Well I’m not sure I like being the damsel in distress.”
“But you still like me being your knight.” He winked.
“Oh yeah, totally.” She said with as much sarcasm as she could muster, taking another sip of her drink to calm her frazzled nerves.

A short while later they were ushered in to the main room of the party. They were on the same table as Paige’s parents and several family friends. When the meal arrived, Xavier poured her another glass of wine, then another with dessert.
“If I didn’t know better I’d think you were trying to get me drunk!” Paige giggled, realising she was already quite tipsy.
“Now why would I want to do that?” He asked innocently, sliding an arm around her waist and leaning in close.
She giggled, fully aware that she was blushing but being unable to do anything about it. And when he moved his arm away, she felt the loss throughout her entire body.

They sat for a while in silence, watching the younger kids dancing to Steps and S club 7. Then the music slowed down and the older couples sitting near them got up to dance. Soon, Paige and Xavier were left alone at their table. As she watched all the couples wrapped in each other’s arms, in their own worlds, which included only the two of them, Paige wished she could join the elitist club she was being excluded from. She glanced across at Xavier, wishing he would ask her to dance, just once. But he was staring at a distant point somewhere on the other side of the dance floor, his mind clearly miles away. Looking away, she focused her attention on the music. It was a song she had never heard before, but it had an enchanting melody and she made a mental note to look it up sometime. Then the familiar notes of a song she’d heard a million times before filled the room. The lyrics began and she felt the tears beginning to build up. My All - Mariah Carey. With every word she felt as if someone was pulling at her heartstrings.
“Are you OK?” She was pulled out of her reverie by Xavier’s concerned voice.
She hadn’t realised he had been looking at her, or that her emotions had been showing so clearly on her face.
“Fine.” She said, forcing a smile.
“Paige, tell me what’s wrong.”
“It’s nothing, really.”
“Tell me.”
“Forget it, it’s nothing.”
“Sure.” He said, evidently not believing a word she had said.
But she couldn’t help that. How could she explain to him that the song seemed to describe her feelings for him? As the song ended, she kept her face turned away from him, so he wouldn’t see the tears shining in her eyes.

He grinned at her as the beginning of “Lady in Red” sounded over the loudspeakers.
“Your song.” He said softly, turning to face her.
Lifting her hand to his lips, he gently kissed her fingertips.
“May I have the honour of this dance, fair maiden?” He asked playfully, only his eyes betraying his sincerity.
“I would love to, gentle knight!” She grinned back, wishing she felt as carefree as she hoped she sounded.
Still holding her hand, Xavier stood, bringing Paige with him. Silently, he led her over to a space on the dance floor. She held her breath as he pulled her into his arms. She thought he would keep his distance, holding her at arms length. But he didn’t. Wrapping his arms around her waist he pulled her close. Automatically, she lifted her arms, draping them around his neck. Leaning her head on his shoulder, she allowed herself to relax, her body curving to fit the shape of him. She inhaled deeply, breathing in his familiar scent. She never wanted the song to end, but eventually it did. And as the last rendition of the chorus echoed through the room, Paige held on to Xavier as if he were her last breath of life.

As the song ended she was sure he was going to let her go. But he didn’t. One song blended into the next and he pulled her closer, keeping her locked in his tender embrace. It was as if they were dancing to one endless melody. But deep down, she knew it was getting late, there would soon come a time when the music would fade, the party would be over, and Xavier would drive her back to her empty house, only to leave her there alone. She turned her head so she could look out of the window over his shoulder. She looked out over the hotel’s expansive gardens where she could see a couple strolling along a path hand in hand, draped in the velvety darkness of the night. They looked so… together. And she couldn’t help wishing that one day she would be like that with Xavier. Feeling her movement, Xavier leaned back to look at her.
“Do you want to sit down?” He asked gently. She could almost hear the reluctance in his voice. Almost. It was just wishful thinking. She was going to say yes, not wanting to betray her true feelings, but the thought of leaving the warmth of his arms was too much to bear.
“No.” She whispered, resting her head on his shoulder once more.
Softly he ran a hand over her hair.
“Good.” He whispered so softly she could have imagined it. But she knew she hadn’t, deep down she knew he’d really said it. She could feel it in the tender way he held her. And for a moment, she let herself believe he had really meant it.

Soon after, the DJ announced the last song of the night and again Xavier pulled her closer. It felt as if he was just as reluctant for the dance to end as she was. She glanced up at him and was surprised to see him looking down at her. She smiled and he smiled back, lifting a hand to brush her hair out of her eyes. Her smile wavered slightly at his touch. Her eyes strayed to his lips and she found it near impossible to tear her gaze away.
“Xav...” She whispered, wanting, needing to feel his lips on hers.
“Shhh...” He said soothingly, brushing his lips across her forehead.
He knew. She could feel it. He knew how she felt about him, but it no longer seemed to matter.

As the song ended, the real world returned. Full of relatives saying a million and one goodbyes. Finally, they escaped into the darkness of the car park. Without Xavier’s arms around her, the cold night air sent a chill through Paige and went straight to her heart.
“Are you all right?” Xavier asked as they walked across the car park. “You seem a bit quiet.”
“I’m just cold.” She said, shivering as if to emphasise her point.
“Here.” He said, shrugging off his jacket and draping it over her shoulders.
“But Xav...”
“Take it.” He gently cut her off.
“Thanks.” She smiled at him.
“Anytime.” He grinned, wrapping an arm around her waist. She cuddled up to him automatically, loving the feeling of being so close to him, wishing it could last longer than the walk back to the car, yet knowing it couldn’t.
When they got to the car, she handed him back his jacket and he threw it onto the back seat. He opened the door for her and taking her hand, he helped her into the car. She couldn’t tell if he was just continuing their game, or if he was being sincere. Either way, something had changed between them. She’d felt it in the way he’d held her. He knew how she felt. But he didn’t feel the same. She’d known that all along. That it was Abi he wanted. But she had hoped, prayed he’d change his mind. And now she knew. It was hopeless.

The journey home was filled with meaningless chatter about random topics, but the underlying tension between them was impossible to ignore. When they pulled up outside her house, Xavier cut the engine and turned to face her.
“Thanks for coming tonight, I know it wasn’t much fun.” Paige said, wanting to let him know how much his company had meant to her.
“You’re worth it.” He said huskily, and Paige almost thought he meant it.
“Thank you,” she said again, “And thanks for driving me home.”
“Anytime.” He said, reaching across and squeezing her hand.
She reached for the door handle, ready to get out.
“No goodbye hug?” He asked, all sweetness and innocence.
Smiling, she turned and gave him a hug. As his arms closed around her, she felt so safe; she wished he would never let her go. Burying her face in his shoulder, Paige held him just a bit tighter. Eventually he pulled back slightly, but he didn’t let her go.
“I had fun dancing with you tonight.” He said softly, looking deep into her eyes.
“Me too.” She half whispered.
Softly, he brushed his lips against hers. On the surface, the kiss was no different to any other, but Paige could feel an underlying need she had never experienced before.
“Paige...” He murmured softly, pulling her closer, his hands creeping up her back, tangling in her hair.
Gently, he kissed a path from her lips to her neck.
“Don’t...” She whispered, but somehow it came out as a sigh instead.
She knew she should stop him, knew it was wrong. But she wanted him so much, had craved his touch for so long. And it felt so good to be in his arms, being treated like she was the only girl in the world, like she was really special.

Pulling her closer, Xavier kissed a trail back up to her lips. Then he was kissing her properly and her response was instant. She knew it was wrong, knew it with all her heart, yet he was everything she wanted. Running her fingers through his hair, she pulled him into her, her mouth opening to the gentle caress of his tongue. His fingers traced a path along her jaw and down her neck, gently stroking her shoulder. It was what she had wanted, what she had craved. But she couldn’t, they couldn’t. With all the power she possessed, she wrenched herself out of his embrace.
“Xavier...” Her voice broke, “I - you have no idea how much I want this, but I can’t. I’m no one’s second best, not even yours.”
As her eyes filled with tears, she fumbled blindly with the lock on the door. Finally getting it open, she stumbled out of the car, somehow making her way to the front door. Just as she was pushing the door open, she felt a hand on her arm.
“Don’t...” She whispered, silent tears cascading down her cheeks.
“Paige, please... Just hear me out.” He said, still holding her arm. “You could never be second best. I care about you and the last thing I want to do is hurt you. I can’t get you out of my mind, I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to hold you, to kiss you, to be with you.”
“Xav...” She whispered, her heart in her throat. All her dreams seemed to be coming true. Then the cold, harsh, truth of reality set in.
“No... You don’t mean it. You can’t. What about...?” She couldn’t make herself say Abi’s name.
Before he could say a word, she pulled her hand from his grasp and ran inside. But Xavier wasn’t ready to give up. Following her into the house, he caught up with her and grabbed hold of her hand, forcing her to face him.
“Abi means a lot to me. You know that. I was with her for a long time.” He said slowly, lifting her face so she had no choice but to look at him.
As she listened to him speak, she felt as if her world was ending. He’d given her the world, only to snatch it out of her grasp again. She couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t listen to him tell her he loved someone else. He was about to say more but she’d heard enough.
“Just go...” She whispered, “Please, just go.”
Tearing herself out of his grasp, she ran upstairs to her room, leaving him standing alone in the hall.

She didn’t know how long she stayed there, but when she finally emerged, her make-up smudged, and her eyes red and swollen from crying, the house was dark and empty. She glanced out of the window at the top of the stairs. Looking out at the empty space outside her house where Xavier’s car had once been, she felt the tears begin to trickle down her cheeks once more. She couldn’t help but wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t pulled away. All she could think about was the feel of his lips on hers. Her mind felt like a scratched CD, repeating the same sequence over and over. The moment when he had kissed her was forever burned onto her mind, playing on a continuous loop, to the soundtrack of the words he’d said that had given her hope for just a second. Lifting her head she looked up at the starry sky. The familiar words of the rhyme she had often whispered as a child drifted into her thoughts. Without realising it, she found herself murmuring the words to the empty house.
“Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight...”
Focusing all her attention on the first star she had seen, she took a deep breath and made her wish.

She knew it was late, knew she should go to bed, but Paige knew she would never be able to sleep, so there didn’t seem much point. She knew it was crazy, just standing at the window, staring out at the place where Xavier had come so close to making her dreams a reality. But she couldn’t bear to leave. She knew she should at least change out of her dress. But she couldn’t do that either. Couldn’t let go of the one thing that had brought her dreams within her reach, even if it had only been for a moment. But she had to. Suddenly angry Paige turned bitterly away from the window, and fled back to her room. Wrenching down the zip of the dress, she pulled it off and tossed it carelessly over a chair. She went to her cupboard in search of a nightdress. As she opened the door, a bundle of shimmering cream silk fell into her hand. It was her favourite nightdress; long, silky and sexy. She drew it over her head, letting the soft fabric glide over her skin as it reached the floor. With only the light from the street to illuminate her, she looked almost angelic in the half-light. Her hair fell in soft waves around her face, and the pale colour of the fabric seemed to shine in the moonlight. She wished Xavier was there to see it and with that thought a fresh wave of tears threatened to overflow. She found herself being drawn back to the window and didn’t fight it. Tugging her long satin dressing gown from the back of her bedroom door, she pulled it on, leaving the sash untied, before returning to her stargazing.

Then she saw him. A lone figure walking along the road towards her house. His head was down, his shoulders slumped, but Paige knew it was him. It was as if she could feel his presence. She watched from her darkened house as he paused at the end of her drive, finally lifting his head. As the light caught his face, her heart jerked painfully and, almost instinctively, she lifted a hand, laying it on the cold glass. It was as if he could feel her watching him, because at that moment he shifted his gaze to the window she was standing at.
“Xav...” She whispered, though she knew he couldn’t hear her.
She saw him mouth her name and she couldn’t bear it anymore. Spinning around, she flew down the stairs and opened the door. He was already standing outside.

Once she was standing in front of him she could see the tear stains on his face. His bow tie was hanging undone around his neck and his hair looked as though he had been continuously running his hands through it. Instinctively, she reached out and smoothed it down. He caught her hand in his as she pulled back.
“Can I come in?” He asked roughly.
Silently, she moved back to let him enter. Closing the door behind him, he followed her into the house.
“Paige...” He whispered, his voice full of tenderness. “I want you. All I can think about is how amazing it feels to hold you in my arms. You have to believe me…”
She couldn’t respond. Couldn’t make her lips form the words. There was so much she wanted to tell him. So much she still needed to hear. As if reading her thoughts, he continued.
“Abi means a lot to me, but only as a friend. It’s you I want. Only you. It’s just that I don’t want to get into another relationship so soon. I don’t want to hurt you. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be with you because I really do.”
“Xav...” She whispered, needing to feel his lips on hers.
She knew she couldn’t have him the way she wanted, but for the moment, she had more than she’d ever thought possible and that was enough. Gently, she placed a hand on his cheek, running her thumb over his lower lip. As she let her hand fall, he pulled her into his arms before softly brushing his lips against hers. Then, running his fingers through her hair, he sought out her lips with his own and kissed her passionately.

Eventually the kiss ended, but they didn’t move apart. Kissing a trail down her neck, Xavier slid his arms around her waist, under her dressing gown. Then he kissed her again, and again. When they finally drew apart, he held her close, gently brushing her hair out of her eyes.
“It’s late...” He said reluctantly, as he caught sight of the clock over her shoulder. “I should probably get going.”
Paige looked at her watch. It was gone 2am.
“Don’t leave...” She whispered softly.
Xavier pulled back slightly so he could look into her eyes.
“You’d want me to stay?”
She nodded silently, dropping her gaze to his lips. He kissed her softly.
“OK.” He said against her lips.
“Really?” She asked, still not quite believing he was really there, really wanted her.
He nodded, as Paige looked deep into his eyes. Reaching up, she ran her fingers through his hair, before tracing a line across his jaw to his lips. He closed his eyes, and as she let her hand drop to his shoulder, she tried to take in every detail of his face. Wanting to remember everything about him, to keep her warm on all the lonely nights ahead when he wouldn’t be there to hold her. Then she kissed him softly.

“Can I see your room?” He said a short while later, grinning devilishly.
“Sure.” She giggled, taking his hand and leading him up the stairs.
When they reached her room, Xavier seemed much more interested in her than his surroundings, but she wasn’t complaining. Pulling her towards him, Xavier lifted her into his arms before dropping her on the bed. Laughing she pulled him down next to her. Then he was kissing her. Sliding her hands up his chest, Paige pushed his jacket off his shoulders and down his arms. Impatiently, he tugged his arms out of the sleeves and threw the jacket carelessly on the floor, freeing his hands to pull Paige closer. She whispered his name, as he kissed a trail across her jaw and down her neck. Then, tracing a line back up to her lips, Xavier kissed her once more. Finally they broke apart.
“We should probably get some sleep.” Xavier said, his breathing ragged, as he reluctantly moved away from her.
“The bathroom is at the end of the hallway.” She said, suddenly shy. “If you look in the draw there should be a toothbrush you can have.”
“Thanks.” He smiled, kissing her briefly before going off in search of the bathroom.

When he returned, Paige was standing in front of the mirror, brushing her hair. She turned at the sound of his approach and it was everything she could do to keep from gasping aloud. He was standing in the doorway to her room wearing nothing but his boxer shorts. She had never wanted him as much as she did in that moment. She watched as he draped his shirt and trousers over her chair, then came over to her. Tenderly he brushed a wisp of hair out of her eyes before taking the brush from her hands.
“Let me.” He whispered in her ear as he turned her back to face the mirror.
Paige watched his reflection as he started running the brush carefully through her hair so as not to hurt her. After a while, she caught his hand in hers and removing the brush from his grip, placed it back in the draw. She held his gaze in the mirror as his hands came to rest on her shoulders. He dipped his head to kiss her neck and she closed her eyes lost in the feelings of ecstasy he evoked from deep within her. As she opened her eyes, Xavier slid her dressing gown down her shoulders, letting it fall forgotten to the floor. Turning to face him, Paige lifted her hand to his face, still not quite believing she wasn’t just dreaming. Pulling her towards him, Xavier kissed her so softly she felt as if she were the most precious and delicate thing he had ever touched.

Somehow, almost without Paige realising it, they moved to her bed. They fell down onto it, tangled in each other’s arms.
“Paige…” He said gently a moment later. “At the party this evening, why did you look so down when that Mariah Carey song was playing?”
“I hoped you’d forgotten that.” She said dryly.
“What was wrong?”
“Have you ever listened to the lyrics of that song?” She asked gently, sitting up so she could look at him properly.
He shook his head.
“I’d give my all, to have, just one more night with you.” She said softly, quoting the song for him.
“Would you?” He whispered as she finished the line.
Paige looked down, letting her hair fall across her face, the darkness hiding her flushed cheeks.
“Maybe... I don’t know.” She whispered, deeply regretting her choice of lyrics.
“Tell me.” Xavier said, sitting up as well and pulling her into his arms.
She took a deep breath, then stopped, unsure of what to tell him.
“Please...” He asked again, tilting her head so he could look into her eyes.
“Yeah, I would...” She said finally.
“You’re so cute, you know that.” He smiled.
“You think?” She asked shyly, looking up at him.
“I know.” He replied, softly.

Tenderly he ran his fingers through her hair, using his other hand to trace a line across her lips. Tilting her face to look at him, she couldn’t tear her eyes from his soft, full lips.
“Oh Xav...” She whispered. “I want you so much.”
In reply he pressed his lips to hers, kissing her passionately.
“I want you too.” He said finally, his breathing heavy.
“Really?” She asked, needing reassurance.
“Really.” He replied, looking deep into her eyes. “And I do want to be with you. I just need to be sure. I don’t want to hurt you.”
“I know.” She whispered, tearing her eyes away from his and looking down at her hands.
He covered them with his own and she lifted her face to meet his gaze once more.
“Don’t let me go.” She pleaded, craving his touch more than she could describe.
“I don’t plan to.” He replied before lightly pushing her back onto the bed, and showering her face with kisses.
The feel of his lips on her skin was like heaven. She couldn’t get enough of him. She still wanted so much more than he could give her, and she knew she would never stop wanting more. But for now, she had more than she had ever dared to dream of. He wanted her and that was all that mattered.

“Paige...” Xavier whispered half an hour later, leaning over her. “What would you say if I told you I was going to ask you out?”
“I wouldn’t believe you.” She responded, looking up at him.
“Because of what I said before?”
“No… because dreams don’t come true...”
“Sometimes they do.” He smiled down at her.
“Like wishes...” She whispered, almost to herself.
“When did you make a wish?” He asked, stroking her hair.
“Tonight. After you left, I wished on a star. And it’s coming true.”
“What did you wish?”
“I shouldn’t really tell you. It hasn’t come true quite yet...”
“Paige, tell me.”
She paused before she answered, looking deep into his eyes. But she knew she could tell him.
“I wished I could spend tonight in your arms.”
“A wish and a dream both coming true in one night.” He smiled.
“A dream?” She asked, as her lips curved into a smile.
“Go out with me...?” He asked, his voice betraying his vulnerability.
It was almost as though he expected her to refuse him.
“Are you sure that’s what you want?” She asked softly, still so unsure of his feelings.
“Then the answer’s yes.” She whispered, before he silenced her with a passionate kiss.

* * *

In honour of two of my supposedly good "friends" (you know i love you really), alternate endings to this story are as follows:

"...he silenced her with..."   

> a machine gun.
> a piece of gaffa tape.
> a little help from her friends.

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