9 Chapter 9

Almost as soon as my lips touched his, he gasped and pulled back, which was definitely not the reaction I was hoping for. My stomach sank as I retreated slightly. Oh no.

"I'm sorry," I said, quickly. Oh god, how did I end up making things worse! Embarrassment flashed across my face and I hoped to God the ground would just open up and swallow me whole.

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"No, sorry, I'm sorry. I just - you scared me," he said, relaxing. I stared at him for a moment as I realized that it might have been a little unsettling in his position for me to just kiss him out of nowhere. I didn't give him any auditory or tactile indication that I was about to do that.

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to," I said, apologizing as sincerely as I possibly could. "I wasn't thinking, I'm so stupid."

"Hey, it's okay. You're not Stupid, Kells, " he said, reaching over and finding my shoulder. He scooted closer to me before lifting his other hand up to search my face. I held my breath, anxiously, as Vic slowly leant in and connected our lips. His lips were soft and slightly wet. My stomach flipped as my heart rate sped up. Yet at the same time, I relaxed, moving my lips gently before he broke away again.

His hand lingered against my face for a moment, before lightly brushing against my hair. His lips were pulled into a smile.

"That was nice," I told him, honestly, unable to suppress a smile myself.

"Yeah, it was, wasn't it?" He said, fondly, holding me there just a little bit longer before standing up. I stood up with him, stretching and trying to shake off the butterflies.

"Are you heading off to class now?" I asked him. He started making his way down the steps. Philosophy was just about over by now, so he probably needed to get going soon.

"Yeah, do you want to come over later?" He asked, sweetly. I kept looking at his lips, delighted by the new memory I had of the way they felt against mine.

"Yeah, that would be cool," I said, so glad that I had something else to look forward to that day. "Can I um, give you . . . Um."

"A goodbye kiss?" He asked, laughing to himself. I brightened, glad that he got my gist even though I was incredibly bad at vocalizing it. I obviously didn't want to seem too forward, despite the fact that he was my boyfriend.

"Yeah, that," I said, awkwardly.

"Of course you can, boyfriend," he assured me. I sighed and softly pecked his lips.

"Bye," I breathed, watching as he left. I waited just a few moments before turning to the rack to find that I had once again forgotten to lock my bike. Darn.

---

"Are you going home for Thanksgiving?" I asked Vic. He shrugged.

"I mean, we live like an hour from here so it's not that far to go home. I don't know exactly though. We've still got over a month to go, anyway," he chuckled.

We were sitting together on the couch in the common room of his apartment. Vic had his arm draped around my shoulders as I leaned into him. We were by ourselves spending time together, because all three of his roommates had stepped out for a while.

"Oh I was just wondering. My mom called earlier today and said she bought my plane tickets for that weekend," I shrugged. He nodded, but didn't give any opinion about it either way. Honestly, as much as I missed home, I wanted to stay at school with Vic because . . . well, he was Vic and I didn't want to leave, even if it were just for a week.

"And you're from Vegas, right?" He verified. I smiled and nodded, pleased that he remembered. I loved it when he remembered things about me. It was like a reminder that he cared about what went on in my life.

"Oops, I mean yeah," I said, catching my mistake. Hey, I was getting better at it anyway.

"Well, I'll miss you while you're a away, but it'll go by quickly I'm sure," he laughed, pulling me closer to him. I felt a few butterflies in my chest as he did that, and I responded by leaning over more and reaching my arm across his middle.

"You're warm," I told him in a quiet voice. "Is that good?"

"Yep," I assured him, laying my head against his shoulder. My mind started wandering as we sat there in a comfortable silence. The first thing I thought about the fact that I hadn't eaten in a while, and that dinner actually sounded great.

And of course, as a result, my stomach quietly rumbled. I hoped that Vic hadn't heard that. "Hey, someone's hungry," he chuckled. Right. Vic had superb hearing. Of course he heard it.

"What?" I said, feeling a little bashful. He sat up straight, breaking away from me a little, baring his teeth in a wide grin.

"I heard that, silly, and I'm starving, too," he said. I watched as he got up and maneuvered his way from the couch to the kitchen. I watched as he felt around on the counter for a few seconds before picking up

what looked like some sort of take-out menu. "There's literally the best pizza place down the road. . . do you like pizza?"

"Yeah, of course," I said, smiling.

"Great . . . um, can you come here for a minute?" he asked. I walked over to him and leaned against the counter. He put the paper back down on the counter and slid it in my direction. "Could you please read the number for me?"

"Oh, yeah," I said, taking the menu for a place called Franceschi's Pizza . "Do you want me to just place the order?"

"No, I can do it," he insisted. I complied and went on to read out the numbers to him, then watched as he dialed them into his phone. I wondered how he knew where the numbers were, but I guess after like, sixteen years or whatever it was of being blind, he'd be able to memorize it.

I set the menu back down and waited as he placed an order for one large pizza with odd toppings like pineapple and prosciutto and arugula. I was used to just . . . I don't know, normal toppings like pepperoni, but it didn't sound bad. It sounded really interesting, actually.

"Oh my god," he said, as soon as he hung up the phone. "I totally didn't even ask what you like on your pizza, I feel bad."

"No, it's fine, that sounds interesting," I said, softly. "Actually it's kind of cute how excited you get about food."

"I mean, what can I say? Food is great," he laughed. "One of the good things about being blind is that I can't see my food, so I'm never turned off by the way things look. . . I just try everything."

"What's the weirdest thing you've eaten?" I asked, leaning my elbows against the counter, just beaming at him.

"I've eaten an eye ball before," he smirked, his tone playful. I groaned in disgust before he added, "I thought it would give me the power to see again."

"Ew! You're so weird," I giggled, as he let out his own loud fit of laughter. I loved his laugh. It always sounded so happy and genuine, and it was even better when we were laughing together. It was fun.

"Nah, I'm totally kidding," he said, still laughing.

As our laughter faded out, the lock on the front door turned and I looked up just as it started swinging open. Interestingly enough, his brother walked in followed by Justin.

"Hey Spence," Vic said, without turning around. I guess he didn't need to turn around, because it wasn't like he could see him anyway. It still caught me off guard.

"How'd you know it was him?" I asked, curious.

"I put a tracking device in his brain -" Vic joked, laughing as Mike cut him off.

"Yeah, yeah, you're hilarious," Mike chuckled sarcastically, going over and giving Vic a light shove. He stumbled a bit, but still laughed, shoving his brother back. "It's your stupid echolocation shit."

"It's not echolocation," Vic scoffed, before turning back to me. "I can tell when people I'm really familiar with are around me. Like, they walk differently and they just feel different. And the way he opened the door. Mike jiggles the door handle a lot when he turns the key."

"It's creepy," Mike teased, before walking off towards one of the bedrooms. I could tell he was just playing by the way he was smirking. For some reason, it made me so happy to see how well he and Mike got along.

"Hi Justin," I said, smiling as he nodded. "What are you guys up to?"

"We were stopping by to get Mike's fake ID because he forgot it," Justin shrugged. I cocked an eyebrow and he rolled his eyes. "We're going to the bars tonight with some of the guys. You know, pledge stuff."

"Right," I grinned. "Well, I mean, have fun."

I shifted uncomfortably, as Mike came back out of the room, holding up his wallet.

"Got it," he said, nodding to Justin as they headed back out. "Catch you later, Helen." I stared at Mike with wide, unbelieving eyes as the pair headed out the door. "Helen!" I gasped, as the door shut. "Did he seriously just-"

"Yeah, don't worry about it," Vic laughed. "It's a joke."

"It's kind of messed up though, isn't it?" I wanted to know. I mean, I assumed he was referring to Helen Keller and that was just wrong. Offensive, really. And from his own brother, too!

"Yeah, but it's normal . . . as in it feels normal. That's one thing I like most about my brother, he doesn't walk on eggshells around me. And I don't want him to, you know? I'm a person. You don't have to pretend to be nice to me just because I can't see," he explained. He got a little heated in that moment, which left me wondering if he'd had some bad past experiences. He softened a little. "He knows that I can take a joke like anyone else can, and I appreciate it. He knows I do, so . . . don't worry about Mike, alright? He's a good guy."

"That's good," I told him, honestly. "I'm glad you've got Mike."

"Believe me, so am I. Don't know what I'd do without him," he smiled. I leaned against the counter again.

"How long have you guys been-" I said, cutting myself off because I wasn't sure how to word my question. I was so bad with words, honestly.

"How long have we been brothers?" Vic offered, seeming pretty nonchalant about the question. That served as extra reassurance that he was cool with answering the question.

"Yeah," I breathed.

"Well, I met him when we were like, five, I think? And then my dad married his mom when I was six," he shrugged. "So I barely remember life without Mike. Might as well be blood."

"That's sweet," I smiled.

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