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Don't look at me

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"Teddy ?" Jo's voice vibrated in her attic, and a pernickety listener would have detected a slightly irritated note in her tone.

"Yes, Jo ?"Otherwise, Laurie's low voice sounded perfectly neutral,only a swift blink in the eye betraying his amusement.

"Could you stop staring at me, please ?". She plunked down her pen on the table,in a purposely excessive gesture.

"Define "staring", my dear..." . His almost unemotional answer provoked in Jo the exact reaction he wanted.

"Well, just stop looking at me with "that" gaze !". Jo raised her voice, her grey eyes trying to burn holes in the handsome face of her neighbour and best friend, who was sitting nonchalantly on his favourite armchair, looking completely innocent to a naive audience, but not to his companion, who knew him too well to be cheated by his pretence.

"Define "that" gaze,please...". She's trying to restrain herself,but I don't think she can manage for too long...his lips remained still,but inside he was smiling...thank God she's not a mind reader...I hope...

"Umpf, you're so annoying sometimes..." If he thinks I'm not able to restrain myself, I will show him what I can do...just play it cool, long as you can,or at least just a bit longer than him!

"I know...but you're still not giving me an answer – describe me the way I was looking at you".

"I...I can't !"

"Do you remember you're a writer, don't you ? And quite talented, if I may say..." maybe if I try to adulate her artistic works...sometimes...

"Flattering me doesn't work today,Teddy...don't push your luck...". She tried to sound threatening, but she knew it wasn't working: she wasn't really angry, only bothered by his attitude,and most by the fact that he was succeeding,whatever his goal was...

"Well,don't blame me for trying...but describing is part of your job,and...". she's falling in my trap...three,two,one...

"I wouldn't call it a's more a natural inclination of my soul..."

"See? You just did it ! You take one word and you have the rare ability to transform it in a wonderful sentence... Please let me understand the way I was looking at you..."

She didn't let him finish his adulation. "You're doing it on purpose,aren't you?"

"I don't know what are you talking about !". Now Teddy was starting to be as exasperated as it sounds.

"Really? Tell me what you really want, aside from me giving up on this tedious chapter I've been working on for three days, just to join you doing something you would describe as " glorious,breathtaking",and obviously very dangerous for ourselves ?"

"Do you really want me to give you a serious answer ?"

"Could you please repeat the sentence,without doing that thing with your eyebrows ?"

"Jo dear, for being a genius, you have a very poor vocabulary..."that thing"?"

"Teddy, you're doing it again!".Jo knew she was starting to sound like a whining baby,but she couldn't help herself: she was trying to fight her attraction for her Teddy (stop referring to him this way, Christopher Columbus !),and it was starting to be such a difficult task,with him wriggling his eyebrows like that... She was starting to feel butterflies, well not exactly butterflies,they were like a flight of nervous bees colliding in her stomach, and the sensation was so frustrating,because she knew that she shouldn't feel that way about him...

"Come on, Jo,doing what ?". Teddy's voice brought her back to reality.

"Theodore Laurence, you know it !"

"Josephine March, who's annoying now?". He couldn't help himself, and mimicked her tone and the use of first and second name.

"Fine! You won! I can't stand that allusive look of yours,like you want all you've in mind is..." . Jo couldn't find the right words...or maybe I'm just too coward to say the words?

"Is ?"

"" . Laurie understood that that was the exact moment to act; she was babbling, she was letting down her defence, and he was going to launch his attack. Now or never.

"Are you ok? Your voice is faltering..." . He stood up, and started to approach her...slowly, but steadily.

"Stop! Don't move!" Jo's voice was an octave higher than her usual voice, although she wanted to sound calm and determined.

"What are you afraid of ?" Laurie was just a few steps away, when she stood up and left her chair,moving away from him.

"I'm not afraid..." .The words lingered, but she knew she was lying. Lying to him,lying to herself, lying to her body and heart. And she knew she couldn't escape now, in her little attic. She coundn't escape him, and their feelings for each other, even if she was trying desperately to walk away.

"Aren't you? And why are you running away, hiding in a corner of the room?" When she heard his voice, she finally saw that he was right: she was in the furthest corner of the room, with no escape.

"It's too warm there...I prefer here, it's a little bit colder..." . Good excuse,really good Jo...and you call yourself an author ?

"I don't feel any change in the room temperature,unless..." . He purposely let his sentence linger on.

"I can't stand when you don't finish a sentence..."

"That's why I keep doing it..." . I knew you too well, Jo dear...why can't you accept it?Why can't you trust me, trust us, just for one time ?

"Unless what, Teddy ?"

"Well, you're trembling... And you feel too warm... Maybe you caught a cold...". She suppressed a laugh: he knew how to ease the tension...

"Since when you're a doctor ?" . Her response was banal, she knew it, but she couldn't find a more appropriate answer... She couldn't focus,not with him coming closer, so close.

"Since when you need me to be..."

Only three, maybe two tiny steps separeted them. Laurie decided to stop.

"There's no need for you to come closer, Teddy..."

He didn't need a permission. He just wanted to be sure that she was alright, he kept repeating himself while he raised his hand and moved his fingers towards her.

"And there's no need for you to check if I've a fever, so please stop caressing my forehead !" Jo loved the way his fingers were stroking soothingly her skin, and that was the reason he must stop it... She loved it too much.

Laurie stopped almost immediately. He let his hand fall, and started to lean on her, until his forehead touched hers. "I didn't say it to make you replace the caresses with you leaning your forehead on mine...". Her voice merely a whisper now..."I don't like this situation, Teddy..." . She closed her eyes, and sighed.

"And why aren't you running away ?" And the moment the words left his mouth, she had the epiphany. She understood that no matter how much fear she was feeling now, she couldn't escape. And not because she was afraid of him, of his reaction if she rejected him; no, she simply didn't want to go away. Everything was so clear now, and she had her strenght back. Everything was as it was supposed to be.

She opened her eyes, and let herself sink in his eyes, for the real first time ever. "Teddy ?"

"Yes, Jo?" . Laurie couldn't believe what was reading in her eyes: he couldn't interpret all the shades of her iris, but he recognized the main emotions: hope, and love.

Jo let her nose brush his, and in return he let a little smile open on his lips. "Stop looking at me like you want to kiss me...".

"What do you want me to do, Jo dear..." Just ask me, Jo...we both knew what we want,and we're not afraid to do it, anymore...

And he was more than happy to accomplish her request,finally. "Just kiss me,please..."