5:21 a.m. | Cailean’s Room
Cailean starts awake after a sharp burst of cold air hits his face. His mother liked to crank the heat up unnecessarily high during the winter, and opening the window helped dissipate some of that warm air so he didn’t feel like he was in an oven. He slides his phone out from beneath his pillow and checks the time, it was much too early to be getting ready for work, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep and decides to kill the remaining time.
As he stretches his back on the edge of his bed, Cailean takes a moment to glance at his collection of photos on top of his desk; he was looking forward to printing some of the ones he took yesterday and adding them to the wall.
Yesterday… Cailean thinks with an audible sigh. Everything had gone fairly well when he’d given Aislyn her Christmas present, but the same couldn’t be said for afterwards. He had replayed the day’s events countless times in his head before falling asleep and came up with a different scenario as to how the evening could’ve went much better each time. Shaking his head, as if that would somehow erase the memory from his mind, Cailean rises to grab a towel from his drawer and makes his way to the bathroom.
He preferred to take showers before work, but since he had an hour to kill, Cailean figured he might as well draw a bath to warm himself up and mull over things.
As he lets his tense muscles relax in the hot water, Cailean’s thoughts drift, for the hundredth time, back to Aislyn. He was slightly frustrated with himself for tiptoeing around her, that wasn’t his normal approach when it came to people he liked, but Aislyn wasn’t like other girls and the fact that she’d been in a relationship with his best friend complicated things.
In the time he’s gotten to know Aislyn, Cailean has learned that she’s not only hard to read, but also good at steering conversations she didn’t want to have away and distancing herself whenever she didn’t want to share what was on her mind. As was the case during the party when he’d picked up that she had wanted to talk, right before she had begun backing away for some inexplicable reason. One of Cailean’s regrets of the night was not reaching out for Aislyn’s arm to prevent her from fleeing at that moment and asking her outright what was on her mind, as she had done a terrific job of preventing him from getting another chance to do so for the rest of the night.
Another, and arguably the greatest, regret of the evening was not kissing Aislyn when he’d had the chance, regardless of Kim’s interruption. Cailean wasn’t sure if Aislyn had just been caught up in the holiday spirit and wanted to thank him for his gift, or if she had genuine feelings behind her reasons for drawing him there, either way, he’d wanted to kiss her, badly, and now he wasn’t sure when he’d get another chance. When he notices his fingers begin to prune, Cailean decides there isn’t anything he has to gain from reliving the evening, and hops out of the tub to prepare for his day.
After racking his brain for the better part of the hour he had to kill, Cailean comes to two conclusions. The first being that he had no idea what was running through Aislyn’s mind or if she was paying this – him – as much thought as he was her, and second, he didn’t want to find out if that was or wasn’t the case by asking her over the phone.
Since her family were still visiting, barging over to their hotel to speak to Aislyn in person didn’t seem like the wisest idea, so Cailean decides he’ll wait until Aislyn is back at home in her normal routine before he tries anything else. With another sigh of frustration, Cailean reaches for his briefcase and heads out for what will most likely be an overly long day of work.
8:07 a.m. | City Hall
Cailean pulls into the parking garage a few blocks down from City Hall and begins making his way to the building on foot. Despite the falling snow, the breeze blowing against his face as he walks isn’t harsh. He already had a pile of non-urgent police reports he hadn’t finished going through before the holidays waiting for him, and wasn’t looking forward to working through them.
When he’s nearly at his office at the end of the hall, a voice to his side draws Cailean out of his thoughts. “You alright, Cailean?” He turns and sees his coworker, and friend, Roger. “Morning, yeah I am. Why?” “Because I tried to get your attention three times.” “Oh, sorry, lost in thought I guess. What’s up?”
“Well, me and the guys were thinking of taking a break later and grabbing a bite since we’ll probably be here late catching up on the paperwork that’s built up.” “I think I’m going to have to pass on that, but thanks for asking.” “If you change your mind, let us know.” “Will do.” Cailean continues to make his way down the hall, eager to immerse himself in work to let his mind think of something else for the next few hours that wasn’t Aislyn.
8:21 p.m. | Merrow Rose Hotel, Suite 210
Aislyn was sitting on the edge of her tub, watching as the water of her bath drained down, deliberating what exactly she should do next, when J.D. enters. “Your hair is even shorter than mine now.” He says while running a hand through his gray locks. “I know, I kind of regret not taking a photo when Chad styled it for me, I doubt I’ll ever get it to look that nice again.” Aislyn says with a half-hearted smile.
“Alright, what gives, Sunshine? You’ve been in here for a while.” J.D. says, picking up on her not so subtle tone of distress. “I’m thinking.”
“About whether or not I should go to Cailean’s.”
“What happened? When you came back from your ex’s place you were all, ‘I’m going to freshen up and march over there and tell him how I feel.’” “Yeah, well that was before… and now I’m not so sure it’s a good idea.” J.D. crosses his arms and leans on the counter. “If I could roll my eyes at you I would. What are you so afraid of?” “You’re going to laugh.” “Try me.” J.D. says in a rather serious tone. “Okay, well… for most of my life, the guys I’ve dated have… approached me first so I’ve always known how they felt before I shared how I did…”
“Yes, I recall you telling me how you often had the guys wrapped around your finger without really trying. So what?”
“That’s not how I put it, but yeah… Even Gus came on kind of strong until I caved and decided to go out with him.”
“Again, so what?” With an exasperated sigh, Aislyn continues, “So, I have no idea how Cailean feels and I’m afraid that if I go over there and dump my feelings on him, I’ll–” “Get rejected?” J.D. guesses, finishing Aislyn’s thought, she nods. J.D. bursts into a fit of laughter. “I told you not to laugh!” “No you didn’t, you told me I would laugh not that I couldn’t.” J.D. says after collecting himself. “You’re adorable.”
“Shut up.” Aislyn says with heat of embarrassment creeping into her cheeks. “Are you saying it’s the man’s job to express interest first all the time? Come on, Sunshine. I thought you were a much more forward thinking woman than that. The times have changed; women can propose to men too you know.”
“That’s not it! It’s just… if I had a better insight into how he felt, I’d feel more confident going to him, but I can’t read him at all.”
“You told me he almost kissed you yesterday, sounds like he’s plenty interested to me. Seriously Aislyn, I don’t know when you started to become so self conscious, but maybe you should reach back into that younger you that did what she wanted when she wanted. Again, I find myself doubtful that you were ever so brash.”
“Well, I was.”
“Prove it. March over to pretty-boy’s house, tell him how you feel, and plant one on him. And then tell me all about it afterwards.” J.D. says with a grin. Aislyn rises from the tub and gazes at her reflection in the mirror. “You’re right.” She says. “I always am.” J.D. winks. “I told Kim she needs to be honest, and she told me to do the same. I’m going to stop over thinking and just go for it.” “That’s the spirit. And you should know, any guy who isn’t capable of seeing what a catch you are, probably isn’t worth your time anyway.” “Thanks, J.” Aislyn says with more heat rising to her face. “Well, I’ll let you get to it then.” J.D. says and he disappears.
9:01 p.m. | The DeCarlo Household
As her taxi pulls up in front of Cailean’s home, Aislyn wasn’t having any doubts about coming, but she was second-guessing her decision to drop by without giving Cailean a heads up. She figures it’s too late to worry about it now, and makes her way out of the cab after handing over the fare to the driver.
She hops up the snowy steps in front of the house and stands back after ringing the doorbell. As the door swings open, Aislyn finds herself surprised to see Commissioner DeCarlo, having forgotten once again that she’s Cailean’s mother. “Aislyn, what a pleasant surprise. How may I help you?” While her words were kind, Aislyn couldn’t help but feel like, similar to Kim’s mother, the commissioner wasn’t too pleased to see her.
“Hey Commissioner DeCarlo, I–” “Please, I said you can call me Daphne.” “Right.” Aislyn says as she takes a moment to swallow in an effort to expand her slightly constricted throat; without her having to try, Daphne’s presence in itself was intimidating. “I wanted to give this to Cailean… and talk to him.” “That’s sweet of you, but unfortunately he’s still not back from work yet. He called me to say he’d be in late.” “Oh…” Aislyn makes no effort to hide her disappointment; the decision to not give a heads up in hindsight was not just a bad idea, but a terrible one.
Suddenly, something softens in the commissioner’s expression, “Why don’t you step in, it’s cold out there.” She says. Aislyn nods and mumbles a thank you as she enters the house, feeling a blaze of heat course over her as she does. “He normally returns home at around six, but on days when he stays late he usually arrives before ten. I’m actually heading out myself to wrap up some things at the station. You’re more than welcome to wait for him upstairs if you’d like.” Daphne says with a motherly smile that eases some of Aislyn’s nerves.
“If it wouldn’t be a problem, I’d like to do that.” Aislyn says with a small smile of her own. “You’ve changed your hair.” Daphne says. “Yeah. I figured it was time for something new.” “Well, it’s quite nice. Have a pleasant evening, Aislyn.” “You too.” The commissioner walks out, and Aislyn hears the door lock after her. After standing in silence for a moment, she makes her way upstairs.
Despite the commissioner telling her he wasn’t home, Aislyn hesitates outside of Cailean’s door. She didn’t feel right entering when he wasn’t there, but also figured it would be a good opportunity to take a better look around as she hadn’t gotten the chance to last time she was here. After taking in a deep breath, she opens the door and steps in. There was a combination of leather, wood and a hint of fruit in the air and Aislyn found herself blushing at the fact that she was able to recognize the scent as Cailean’s cologne fairly quickly. It had remained ingrained in her memory after he had embraced her in the kitchen.
Aislyn walks further inside, and decides to place the present on his desk, noticing the board of photos above it as she does so. There were lots of scenic photographs, mixed with those of friends Aislyn could recognize and some she couldn’t. Feeling oddly bashful at staring at Cailean’s photos, Aislyn quickly steps away and decides to take a seat in one of his reading chairs as she waits. She taps her fingers on her thighs, hoping all of the confidence J.D. had instilled in her would remain when Cailean eventually arrived…
Cailean pulls into the snow covered driveway, feeling bone tired. He regretted not taking Roger up on his offer to head out for a bite as he could’ve used some caffeine to help him get through the paperwork. On the bright side, the excess workload and lack of breaks successfully prevented him from thinking about Aislyn too much, but since he was home now Cailean suspected that would change once he’d settled in for the night.
He doesn’t bother announcing his return after he unlocks the door, as Stan was on a business trip and his mother was at the station no doubt. Out of habit Cailean makes his way to the fridge to see what ingredients he has to work with for dinner. Assuming he had enough flour in the pantry, he could make a pizza. He closes the fridge and makes his way upstairs to change and prepare to cook.
Cailean swings open his door and quickly notices he isn’t alone. His first thought is that his exhaustion is causing his mind to play tricks on him, but when he sees Aislyn turn around from examining his painting to face him, and break out into a smile that makes his pulse quicken, he finds himself pleasantly surprised. “Hi.” She says. “Hey.”
Cailean already had a million questions crossing his mind, but before he has a chance to ask any of them aloud, Aislyn begins to speak as she approaches him. “Sorry for showing up unannounced; you must be tired.” She says with an apologetic smile. “Don’t worry about it, I’m fine.” “Good… So, I came first and foremost, to drop off your present that I’ve had siting around my place for a while now.” Aislyn points behind him, and Cailean follows her hand and sees a wrapped box atop his desk.
“Thanks, were you waiting here long?” Cailean asks; had he known Aislyn was going to come by, he would’ve left the office at a much more reasonable time. Aislyn shakes her head, “Not really, I ran into your mom when she was on her way out, she told me I could wait here.” Cailean nods his head, “While I’m pleased to see you, you needn’t have waited.” Aislyn takes a step closer and continues to speak, “Well, that brings me back to the other reason why I came. I wanted to let you know that I’m going to be moving back to Bayville; I’ll be heading there with my dad and Nicole when they are leaving tomorrow.”
“Oh.” Cailean says, feeling rather dumbstruck. He is unsure of what to say and fortunately Aislyn fills the brief silence by continuing to speak, “I kind of want to get my life together and for now that’ll entail me leaving for an indefinite amount of time.” All the thoughts Cailean had regarding his plans to approach Aislyn at a later time to clear things up suddenly flew out the window with her revelation.
“I wish you the best.” He says aloud. Aislyn closes her eyes and takes in a deep breath, and for a moment Cailean wonders if he’s somehow said the wrong thing. Tired of making guesses, he decides to just say what’s on his mind. “Aislyn, I–” “Hold on.” She says; Aislyn opens her eyes and meets Cailean’s with a look of blazing determination on her face. “There’s something I want, no, need to tell you.” At that moment Aislyn begins stepping closer, and Cailean takes an involuntary step back as she approaches. His movement doesn’t stop her, and Aislyn continues to come closer halting when they are only inches apart.
“Yes.” Cailean is surprised at how quiet his own voice sounds escaping his mouth. Aislyn’s sudden closeness made him flustered, and he was having a hard time keeping his head straight as his body yearned to pull her close and perform other actions. “I like you.” She says, her eyes never leaving his. “I like you… as more than a friend.” It takes Cailean a moment to process her words.
“I think you are incredibly kind, and smart, and witty. I like getting lost in conversations with you for hours because I can hardly feel the time pass. I want to know so much more about you and what you like and what you don’t, and I know my timing couldn’t be worse but I didn’t want to go another day without telling you how I feel.” Aislyn’s words come out in a rush, but ring as clear as day, and Cailean can’t believe his ears.
“And another thing.” She says. “I regret not doing this yesterday.”
With those words Aislyn places her hands on both sides of his face, and before Cailean has time to react, she pulls him towards her while shifting her weight to the balls of her feet. Cailean was so entranced by Aislyn as she spoke, that the break in their eye contact as she presses her lips on his, gives him the chance to collect himself.
Just when Cailean begins to return the sweet – and unexpected – gesture, raising his arm to pull her closer, their kiss ends and Aislyn draws back. She drops one of her hands but keeps the other beside his face and runs her hand through his hair. Cailean can feel the grin forming on his face, and a sudden realization appears to dawn on Aislyn’s as she takes in his expression.
Aislyn shifts her eyes down and takes a step back, a faint hint of color seeping into her cheeks. After sharing everything on her mind unapologetically, she now appeared bashful and out of words. The fact that she’d come to him was endearing, and added another attribute to the growling list of ways Aislyn wasn’t like other girls.
The ball was now in his court and as much as he wanted to share all of the thoughts he had running though his mind for the majority of the day, Cailean wasn’t satisfied with the brief brush of their lips, and felt that the talking could come later, now that he was well aware of how Aislyn felt.
Cailean reaches out for Aislyn’s arm and pulls her forward. She wasn’t expecting the action and nearly stumbles, but is steadied by the arm he wraps around the small of her back. In one swift motion, Cailean tilts his head and leans down to kiss her, and she doesn’t hesitate in kissing him back. It starts out gentle, but grows in intensity and the sensation sends a burst of heat through his body.
His teeth graze Aislyn’s lips, and when he parts his mouth Cailean feels Aislyn’s curve into a smile beneath his before copying the gesture welcoming his tongue. She was soft and warm and smelled like a mixture of vanilla and strawberries that was intoxicating. Aislyn slowly draws her arms out of Cailean’s grip and locks them around his waist, freeing his arms to explore. He raises a hand and runs it through her hair, tracing the side of her jaw with his thumb while his other arm moves along her spine. When he feels Aislyn tremble slightly as he does so, Cailean worries that if doesn’t pull back, he’ll bruise her, but he can’t let go. Not yet.
As they continue to kiss, taking shallow synchronized breaths, all of Cailean’s worries from the past few weeks disappear. Aislyn begins running her arms up around his back, feeling the planes of his shoulders beneath his jacket, and the gesture sends a particular twinge down his abs indicating to him now is the time to stop.
He begins easing up on the kisses and after a moment they break apart. Cailean leans down and rests his forehead on hers. The little bit of color that had seeped into Aislyn’s face moments ago, had now turned into a much more prevalent blush that only made Cailean want to kiss her again, but he refrains from doing so in case he isn’t able to successfully stop himself if things escalate.
Aislyn’s eyes rest on the hand that she leaves lingering on his chest. “So…” She says still slightly breathless. “Do I take that to mean you feel the same way? Or…” Cailean cant help but let out a small laugh in wonder as to how Aislyn could ask such a thing after a kiss like that. He supposed since he’s never said anything aloud to Aislyn herself to give her any indication of how he felt, it was a fair question. Cailean becomes serious again, and places a hand on the side of her face to make her eyes meet his.
“There are a lot of instances when we were together where I’ve regretted how I handled things out of fear of coming on too strong or too soon. And I assure you, that won’t be the case going forward.” He says, and Aislyn’s lips curve into a smile. Cailean redirects his attention to her eyes. “I feel like my actions just now conveyed my emotions better than my words can, but I’ll say it anyway. Yes, Aislyn, I do feel the same way. I like you, too.”
I bet you are all thinking the same thing: about time! *throws confetti* I felt terrible for ending last chapter before we had our Caislyn moment at the end, but as you can see, there’s no way this would’ve fit into that already enormous chapter, haha. If you recall me mentioning my computer crashing a million times, back in this bonus post, it was during that confession scene in Cailean’s room. I seriously considered scrapping the whole thing, partially because I still struggle with writing romance but I stuck with it and here we are. The cute close proximity poses while Aislyn was telling Cailean how she felt are from the tension posepack by the lovely Louise, which you can find on her site here.
It was totally not intentional, but Aislyn and Cailean had their first accidental kiss, in chapter 15 and now almost exactly fifteen chapters later, they have their second – well, technically first. At this rate, their next kiss shall be in chapter 45. Hehe, totally kidding… or am I? This chapter was initially double the length, probably not a surprise because it’s me, lol, so I split it, and I’ll just let you wonder how the rest of Caislyn’s evening shall go until you see for yourselves next week~
I feel like a fraud for having a ‘romance’ tag for this story, haha, but hey, now there totally is XD I’m quite curious as to your sentiments for this chapter, you probably thought I was going to be evil and drag it out even more, but surprise, I didn’t! Thanks for reading ❤ I hope you guys enjoy what’s left of your weekends 🙂