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What If

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Sophie was absolutely elated, though she was utterly unable to show it. The intensity and truth of her feelings had to be pushed down, polite happiness being portrayed instead. Keith’s hard work had finally paid off with a permanent position in the symphony. His life was going to change for the better, and she was going to be able to be right by his side the whole way.

‘Look at how happy he looks’ she thought to herself, as she discreetly glanced at him. She had to try very hard to look away in order to avoid her actions being noticed by Megan and Lauren, who were currently discussing celebratory ice cream.

“I’m alright thanks” she replied as their offer of ice cream was directed at her.

“I guess just Lauren and I will celebrate then” Megan said and disappeared into the kitchen. As Megan vanished, Sophie struggled to contain her urge to look up at Keith to congratulate him properly. ‘Lauren is still at the table, don’t give anything away’ she said to herself, before noticing Lauren standing from her seat across from her.

“I’ll come help you mom” Lauren said, giving her dad a proud shoulder tap before disappearing into the kitchen like her mother had seconds before.

Finally alone, Sophie immediately raised her gaze and locked it onto Keith’s. Wordlessly, she tried to display the immense joy she was feeling for him, quickly seeing the corresponding gleam in his eyes as he stared into hers. Slowly, without taking her eyes off of him, she slid her hand along the table until the edges of their pinkies were lightly resting against each other on the table. In that moment, she desperately wished she could climb into his lap, thread her fingers through his hair and properly show him how proud and excited she was.

Neither of them aware, or even capable of stopping themselves they slowly started to lean towards each other, eyes still locked in a touchless embrace. Just as the pair had forgotten where they were and the impropriety of their current situation, the kitchen door opened as Megan backed out of the kitchen, hands full, eyes luckily facing the direction from which she came. This gave the nervous couple just enough time to separate and return to their respective plates before Keith’s wife and daughter returned to the dining room.

‘We almost got caught’ Sophie thought, trying to simultaneously calm her heart and not let on the fact that it was beating as though she had just climbed Everest. ‘I’m going to have to be a lot more careful, I can’t believe I started to lean in... he’s just so irresistible, especially when he grins like that; I just can’t control myself’ she thought, returning to her plate.

Keith was having what was likely one of the best days of his life. He already was leaning towards that conclusion as him and Sophie returned home from the reservoir (separately of course). He had never felt as connected with another person as he did when he was with Sophie. Just being in the same room as her gave him a sense of contentment that he never knew he was missing. Getting the chance to hold her in his arms, stroke his fingers through her hair, feel her lips against his were like gifts he knew he could never deserve. All he knew was that he wanted to be around her in any capacity, for as long as she would allow.

There wasn’t much he thought could distract him from his thoughts of Sophie, maybe an earthquake, maybe the zombie apocalypse – then he got a phone call. ‘I got the chair. I got the chair’ was all he could think of as he took a second to process the news before returning to the dining room. ‘I can’t wait to tell her’ he thought to himself. Somehow, despite only knowing her for a couple of weeks, her reaction was the one he cherished the most.

He thought he did a good job of purposefully not looking at Sophie as he announced the good news to the three women in his life. He could see the plain happiness on the faces of his wife and daughter, and was pleased, but he was still desperate for a moment he could share with Sophie. ‘Maybe it’s because I know that she will be able to truly and completely relate’ he thought, trying to figure out why her opinion seemed so different than those of Lauren or Megan.

When they finally did get a moment to share between them, it felt like the news became suddenly real. It finally sank in the moment he looked into her eyes, eyes that were so eagerly displaying her glee. ‘I am no longer a teacher’ he thought. ‘And it’s all thanks to her’ he realized as he gazed into the hazel eyes of the young woman beside him, feeling her fingertips brush his.

Completely entranced, he was unaware of his body taking over and leaning closer and closer to her, that is until the kitchen door opened and he had to quickly jerk away. Luckily, he managed to return to his meal inconspicuously, and his thoughts were allowed to return to dream of a bright future filled with musical achievement, hazel eyes and piano keys.

Lauren was pissed at Sophie. Not even in a friendly, we came to a disagreement way, a pent-up anger-filled rage kind of way. ‘She knew how I felt about Aaron, and then she goes and whores herself out to him like it’s no big deal. This was probably her plan all along, the minute she met him she was hoping to steal him from me’ Lauren thought to herself as she drove home from school. ‘But Aaron is not yours to take’ a traitorous voice in her head piped up. ‘Not yet, but we are meant to be together eventually’ she argued back, cranking up the music to drown out the sound of her unwanted thoughts. ‘Once he takes a minute to think, he’ll realize how much he means to me, and what I would do for him, and then we’ll be together’ she resolved, pulling into the driveway of her home.

She kept to herself, avoiding Sophie all evening, only appearing for dinner. She was momentarily distracted from her pining with her dad’s big news, and despite being happy for him, she quickly returned to thoughts of anger and despair. She avoided looking at Sophie throughout the whole meal, only glaring in her direction once or twice, although Sophie seemed completely oblivious of any malice directed towards her. ‘I’ll get my revenge eventually’ thought Lauren, as she returned to her ice cream.

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Things had been very tense in the Reynold’s house for the past couple days. The pleasant aura that arrived with Keith’s good news was quick to disperse and all that was left in its place was the conflict between the house’s inhabitants. Keith and Megan were distant and barely talking, only really exchanging words regarding who was cooking dinner or who was using the Jeep. Sophie and Lauren hadn’t shared a word with one another in days. They’d shared plenty of dirty stares and awkward nights in the same bedroom, but neither had attempted to bridge the gap between them. Sophie had been avoiding Megan even more than she had Lauren in order to make it easier to forget her guilt.

In these few days, it finally occurred to Sophie how tough of a situation she had found herself in. One of the Reynolds already hated her, and another would if she knew which man filled Sophie’s thoughts and dreams, therefore Sophie’s only reprieve was school. Well, not really school, more like piano class and lunchbreak.

Sophie and Keith had been trying to steal as many moments as they could together. Sophie had very suddenly become the model student when it came to piano class. She showed up early to have a minute with the teacher before the rest of the class arrived, stayed late to organize sheet music, and even came in during lunch breaks to pick the teacher’s brain.

Keith loved these secret meetings with Sophie, especially considering their inability to get any quality time together away from the school. He took the opportunity to get to know her to an even greater depth, finding out about her childhood, listening to stories about her uncle, and gently trying to uncover her hopes for the future. All the while, he memorized her appearance. Every mole, dimple, or wrinkle that was visible he soon became aware of, the pattern of gold flecks in her eyes was quickly imprinted into his mind to be readily recalled in moments where he was away from her, the way that one strand of hair would always fall in her face. Countless times, he had to restrain himself from reaching across the modest gap that was always between them now and brushing that strand out of her face.

Sophie, much like Keith, came to feel like the moments they shared together in the music room were the only ones that mattered. It was almost as though they were living in different worlds; one being reality and another being one of their creations. In one world, they were merely acquaintances, having to hide their true connection and feelings from his family and everyone else they knew. In the other world, they were the only two inhabitants and they felt the freedom to truly be themselves. The laws of this world of their creation allow them to escape from all external pressures and opinions, and just be together. They could willingly enter this universe together at any time with the brush of their fingers, or the meeting of their eyes.

Sophie loved trying to distract Keith from his lesson each day. She found it adorable when he would lose his train of thought as he lectured because he was too busy staring at her (or trying hard not to). As the student, it was normal for her gaze and focus to stay entirely on him for the length of the class, but Keith had to distribute his attention amongst the other students. Keith had difficulty keeping his attention away from her when it seemed as though every cell in his body was tuned in to her frequency, making him hyperaware of her presence and gaze. More than once, he found his stare directed towards her for just a bit longer than it should be, though he hoped the other students brushed it off as him just favouring his star pupil.

Lunchtimes quickly became the best part of their day. Under the guise of extending her learning, Sophie joined Keith in the music room each day to not only share a meal, but also some inconspicuous strokes of their hands, and extended looks of longing. They both wished for another day of complete privacy, like they had at the reservoir, but were also content just being in each other’s company.

One Tuesday about a week after Keith and Sophie had snuck away to the reservoir, Sophie was on her way to meet Keith for lunch when she ran into Lauren. Not ‘ran into’ figuratively, quite literally turned a corner and crashed into one another, books going flying like debris.

“Oh, Lauren… Hi” Sophie said, unsure of what to say to her estranged roommate in this situation. She didn’t even move to pick up her books, just stood there stubbornly looking at the equally rattled Lauren.

“Sophie” Lauren replied, not hesitating to send a glare towards the girl opposite her.

Silence quickly fell between the two girls as they stood at a standstill. Both of them knew that a discussion or more likely a confrontation was due to occur sooner rather than later, but neither one knew how to cross that threshold.

Lauren eventually tired of looking at the girl who betrayed her trust so she picked up her books, gave Sophie one last dirty look, and quickly started to walk out of the building.

‘If we don’t do this now, we never will’ Sophie thought, so she gathered up her courage and tried to push aside how annoyed she was with Lauren, and instead started to follow her.

“Lauren wait” Sophie called as she crossed the parking lot, seeing Lauren stop just before she reached her car.

“What do you want Sophie?” Lauren asked, not bothering to try to hide her contempt.

“I didn’t sleep with Aaron, Lauren” Sophie insisted, though she could tell Lauren didn’t believe her. “I swear Lauren, I am not interested in him in that way and I never was. If you bothered to ask me about it rather than jump to conclusions, it would’ve saved us a lot of trouble”

“Oh, sure you didn’t Sophie, why would he say that you did then?” Lauren said, still unbelieving.

“I don’t know, maybe he wanted to seem cool, or maybe he just wanted to get back at me for turning him down, I have no clue.”

This statement seemed to get through to Lauren, and their conversation paused as she processed Sophie’s words.

“Did you really turn him down?” Lauren asked after a long pause.

Sophie just nodded in reply.

“Why did you do that?” Lauren continued, curious as to Sophie’s reasonings.

“I honestly wasn’t interested” Sophie replied casually. “He’s not really my type, and even if he was, I would never do that to you. I know you like him, but he’s an asshole Lauren, you could do so much better” Sophie continued, figuring that she had nothing to lose, Lauren already hated her so may as well tell the truth.

“He’s not an asshole” Lauren said, though her conviction seemed to be wavering. “He’s just… I don’t know he’s just complicated” she said, almost as though she was trying to convince herself. “You really didn’t sleep with him?”

“I really didn’t sleep with him.”

Lauren nodded, appearing very contemplative. “I’ve got to go get lunch now, I’ll see you tonight for dinner?” she said.

“Yeah, I’ll be there” Sophie said as Lauren got into her car. ‘Well, it isn’t an apology, but at least she didn’t seem to completely reject the idea that he was lying’ Sophie thought. ‘Hopefully, we can at least be civil from now on.’

Sophie was interrupted from her musings by the bell that signaled the end of their lunch period. ‘I guess I missed out on eating with Keith today’ she thought as she walked back towards the school. ‘I can't believe I miss him already’ she thought as she remembered what it felt like to run his hair through her fingers, and feel his lips on hers. Shaking herself out of those thoughts, she grabbed her books and went to class.

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Keith missed Sophie at lunch. He figured she got caught up in a class or something so he didn’t get too concerned about it, but he really missed her presence as he ate alone. The rest of the day passed by slowly, Keith was counting down the days until winter break arrived, signalling the end of his teaching career. He just had to finish the term and then he would finally be free.

As he reorganized sheet music, caught in his daydreams, he didn’t realize that 15 minutes had passed since the final bell had rung. He was brought back to reality as someone cleared their throat behind him. Quickly glancing over his shoulder, he noticed Sophie standing by the piano with one hip leaning against it and a flirty smile on her face.

“Oh hey” Keith said, fully turning to face her. “I missed you at lunch” he said quietly, making sure no one could overhear them.

“I’m sorry, I had to talk to Lauren about something” she replied.

“Don’t be sorry” he replied. “I’m happy you were talking with Lauren; she’s seemed strange in the past week.”

“Yeah, I’m hoping it’s all been resolved now” Sophie replied. She was unsure of how much of the details she should share with Keith. Not for her sake, but for Lauren’s. As much as Lauren and her had been disagreeing lately, she wouldn’t use her leverage with Keith to taint Lauren’s privacy.

Keith was curious, and as a father he wanted to make sure that his daughter wasn’t in any trouble, but he trusted Sophie. If she didn’t feel the need to tell him, then he would just accept that, and leave it be.

“I actually came here to see if you were ready to leave, you’re my ride” Sophie said, changing the subject.

“Yes, I’ll just grab my things and we can go, give me a sec” he said, turning to grab his bag. Facing Sophie again, bag in hand, he finally noticed how irresistible she looked. Her eyes were sparkling, and the fading light peaking through the leaves outside was making her face glow. ‘Why can’t I just hold her’ he thought to himself, before quickly banishing the answering thoughts of his wife.

“Are you ready?” Sophie asked, noticing his pause and feeling the effects of his stare.

Keith just nodded and the two of them walked shoulder to shoulder through the halls. Both of them were simultaneously worried that everyone could see through their façade, and assured that their secret was safe. The slightest brush of their fingertips as they walked was the only indication of their feelings.

The minute they pulled out of the parking lot their hands found one another. Keith stopped at a stop light and looked over towards Sophie. Their eyes quickly locked, sharing more with the other than words could.

“I miss you” Sophie said, stroking his hand gently with her thumb.

“I miss you too” he replied, letting go of her hand to brush his hand across her cheek.

The light changed and Keith turned back to the road, but was eager to continue their conversation. “I’m playing this weekend in the city, and I was thinking that maybe afterwards, Shelly and I could go for drinks.”

“Oh, that sounds like fun” Sophie said, unsure of his sudden change of topic.

“Well, I’m thinking maybe something else could come up in the city that might be more enticing, and I may be able to be persuaded to forego the drinks” he said, eyes still on the road.

‘Does he want me to go meet him in the city, or is this just a really elaborate change of topic?’ Sophie thought, feeling her heart quicken at the idea. She stared at him questioningly, trying to decipher his meaning from the look on his face. Luckily, they hit another red light, and Keith immediately looked at her with a sneaky grin on his face.

“Do you want to go on a date with me?” Keith asked, grin disappearing, a hopeful vulnerability replacing it on his face.

“I would like nothing more” Sophie replied, a large smile plastered to her face.

Keith returned her grin, already urging the seconds to pass more quickly so that the weekend could arrive sooner rather than later.

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Everything was all planned. Sophie had told Megan a few days previous that she was planning on staying with her friend Jessica for the entire weekend, asked Jessica to cover for her (explaining she just wanted a weekend in the city to herself) and then had booked 2 nights at a hotel near the theatre. Thankfully, she hadn’t spent any of the free cash she brought with her when she came to the states, and had just enough left to cover the cost of a bus ride and a hotel stay.

As she rode the bus into the city, she thought about the weekend to come with excitement. She had left right after school, and would have some time to check in and explore the area before Keith’s concert. She was definitely excited to watch Keith play again, and finally get some alone time with him where they could be themselves, in public too; but she was also looking forward to being able to explore the city by herself, and finally experience New York on her own terms.

Keith and Sophie’s night flew by. Keith had never performed better, knowing she was in the audience watching. Sophie hung on his every note, entranced by the sound of his cello and the image of him on stage. Before she knew it, the performance was over, though it felt to her like the blink of an eye.

Realizing it was over, Sophie rushed outside to where she had agreed to meet with Keith, and soon saw him standing next to the theatre through the crowds of people passing between them. Overjoyed, she started to run towards him, Keith turning at the last second, giving him just enough time to brace himself before being barreled into by a happy brunette.

‘It feels so nice to be able to do this with him, and not have to hide my feelings’ Sophie thought as she was wrapped around him. ‘I probably went a little overboard though,’ finally releasing him from her grip, but he didn’t let her get very far. His arms held her close, bodies still pressing against each other as his eyes scanned her face, hovering over her lips. Her gaze quickly mirrored his, locking onto his lips. They stayed like that for a while before Keith broke them out of their trance by grabbing her hand and pulling her down the street.

“Come on, we’ve got lots to do tonight” he said excitedly as they walked.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise” he replied.

They walked for a few blocks, before Keith led her down about 6 stone steps to a door that was straight out of history. Keith didn’t hesitate to push the door aside and she trailed behind him as they entered one of the most interesting pubs she had ever been to. The first thing she noticed was the sound of live music coming from a small stage around the corner. There were packed tables spread out throughout the room, although it wasn’t so busy as to feel crowded or almost claustrophobic as some pubs could be. Soft yellow string lights hung off of the wooden rafters, creating an almost romantic ambience.

“What do you think?” Keith asked, having been watching her intently to gauge her reaction.

“I absolutely love it” she replied, still looking around the room, trying to take it all in. The walls were plastered with old guitars and what looked like old show posters. The live music was incredible as well, currently a blues band was playing which only added to the magical setting. “How did you find out about this place?” she asked.

“I used to play here sometimes” Keith said. “It was one of my favorite venues to play, I could never quite pinpoint it there’s just something about it that seems… I don’t know it’s almost like – “

“Coming home” Sophie finished for him.

“Exactly” he said, once again amazed at her intuition. “Let’s go find a table” he said, leading her as they weaved through the obstacles towards an empty booth.

They found a table in the corner, far enough from the stage to be able to talk comfortably, but close enough to have a good view. The couple chatted about everything and anything, both just glad to let loose and no longer having to hide. Sophie questioned him thoroughly on his past shows in this venue, as well as some of his other favorites. They ordered some food, Keith insisting that even without everything else here, he would come solely for the delicious food, which Sophie could soon attest too.

Once they were finished eating, they remained in comfortable conversation, sometimes waning so that they could better appreciate the soft lilt of the music. It flowed through the room so effortlessly, it almost felt like it was resonating through their entire beings.

“Do you want to dance?” Keith asked, breaking the silence that had fallen between them as they focused their attention on the stage.

Sophie smiled softly back, feeling a little insecure. She had never really danced in a place like this before and had no idea what to expect from Keith’s offer. “No one else is dancing though” she replied, hoping he might pick up on her reluctance to make a fool out of herself. Dancing in a club was one thing, this just seemed so much more intimate.

“I didn’t ask if anyone else wanted us to dance, I asked if you, Sophie Williams wanted to join me in a dance” he said, recognizing her unwillingness. Keith assumed Sophie was just self-conscious. “If you don’t want to dance, that’s okay, but if you do, I would be thrilled to have you in my arms.”

Sophie thought about it for a second, her heartbeat increasing. ‘I really do want to dance with him’ she thought ‘but I wish we were alone, with just us and the music.’

“Okay, I’ll dance with you” Sophie said, pushing her nerves aside and taking his offered hand.

Rather than pull her towards the stage, Keith just looked into her eyes assuredly. “It’s just me and you, just keep your eyes right here” he said pointing towards his own, before flashing her a cute smile.

Sophie nodded, and Keith gently guided her towards the small open space in front of the stage. He cupped her hand in one of his, placing the other at the small of her back. Sophie placed her free hand on Keith’s chest as he slowly started to sway to the music. ‘This is actually quite nice’ she thought, taking a half-step closer to him until there was next to no room between them.

Their eyes met. Sophie couldn’t tear her eyes away from the glow of his gaze. The way that he looked at her was just… she had no words for it. The way that he looked at her made her feel like she was the only thing that existed in the entire universe.

Keith had never been more content. The look in her eyes was unparalleled, and the feeling of her in his arms was for lack of a better word – perfection. He felt such pure fondness for her as he looked down into her eyes.

The music led the way as the rest of the world fell away around the swaying couple. Sophie broke their gaze to close her eyes and rest her forehead against Keith’s, removing any miniscule amount of space that was still between them. The bluesy notes swirled around them as their two bodies seemed to move as one.

The song ended, and Keith and Sophie finally opened their eyes which quickly found each other’s longingly once again. Sophie leaned up slowly and pressed her lips to his, stroking his cheek with her hand. Their kiss was chaste, and over entirely too quickly for either of their tastes, but they were both still aware of their whereabouts and their moment therefore had to be cut short.

Keith and Sophie shared a smile before they took in their surroundings. A few other couples had joined them on the dance floor, each of them looking up at the band, waiting for the next number. Keith turned back to Sophie with a grin still plastered to his face. Emboldened by the idea that he could finally freely touch her, he brought his hands up to cup her face, tenderly stroking her cheek. Once he had her attention, he bent his head down and kissed her forehead.

Sophie felt so cherished standing in Keith’s arms. Being able to be in public as a couple added another facet to their relationship, it gave their connection a degree of credibility. Sophie felt reassured that this was not just some fling for Keith or some distraction from his life. All it took was one look in his eyes and the truth of his feelings for her were unmistakable.

She should be scared at the depth of his conspicuous emotions. It was natural for her to want to run far away, to avoid being vulnerable; she’d done it so often it was second nature for her. But somehow, for whatever reason, she felt no urge to run. On the contrary, Sophie had never felt such a strong sense to stay. Standing here with Keith, sharing grins, feeling his chest under her fingers; she knew this was exactly where she was supposed to be.

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The band started to play to next song, breaking Sophie out of her thoughts. This one was a little more upbeat, too upbeat to resume their gentle sway. Keith and Sophie looked at each other for a moment, both uncertain as to their next move.

Keith was the first to act, releasing Sophie from his grip, taking a step back and proceeding to dance one of the silliest dances Sophie had ever seen. She couldn’t help the laugh that came to her lips at the sight of him.

“Come on Sophie, aren’t you going to join me?” he asked, his movements not faltering. He looked completely unashamed of his horrible dance skills. It was refreshing.

‘Why not’ was all Sophie thought before joining him in his hurried dancing. She grabbed his hands and started to swing along with him. The couple spent the next few songs laughing, jumping and spinning around, never straying further than arms length from one another. They were the picture of freedom. Any other curious pub customer watching the pair could clearly see the deep affection they held for each other.

Sophie and Keith danced away, embracing the roll of the major keys and minor scales as the tempo kept them moving in orbits around each other. Soon, they got tired of dancing, smiles still locked onto their faces, and returned to their table. Keith settled their bill before they left the pub, fingers clasped together.

It was getting late, so Keith insisted on walking Sophie back to her hotel.

“It’s going to be lonely at home without you tomorrow” Keith said as they walked down the dark streets, lit only by street lamps and passing taxi cabs.

“I’ll be back before you know it” Sophie said, giving his hand a reassuring squeeze.

Keith asked her about her plans for her free day in the city, curious as to which attractions brought her to this area in the first place. They chatted all the way back to her hotel, Keith suggesting some of his secret local spots. Before they knew it, they were in the lobby of her hotel.

“Come up and have a cup of tea” Sophie said walking backwards so she could face him as she tried to pull him towards the elevator.

“Sophie… I want nothing more than to join you, but I should probably start driving back” he said.

“Just one cup of tea?” she said, pulling him close to her and running her hand through the hair at the nape of his neck.

Keith was unable to resist her. He didn’t want to resist her, every moment he spent with her just made him greedy for more. He nodded, following her into the elevator. They were silent on the entire ride up and the walk to her room. Keith followed Sophie into the room once she unlocked it.

Sophie went to fill up the kettle as Keith took a look around the room. There was a double bed against the left wall, a tv and cabinet directly opposite, a fully-equipped bathroom and a large window through which the flickering lights of the city could be seen below.

He was gazing out at the lights below when he felt her embrace him from behind. He spun around to face her, placing his hands on her hips. They had no audience now, and potentially all the time in the world. Sophie’s gaze drifted away from his eyes down to his lips. Keith found his gaze copying hers, her lips looking more enticing than ever.

Their lips finally met, neither knowing who made the first move. It didn’t matter. The second their lips touched they both knew something was different about this kiss. This kiss was all-consuming, it was stars colliding. It was coming home. Sophie lost all concept of time as she kissed him, it could’ve been seconds or it could’ve been hours, the whole world fell away. All that existed was the two of them and their little bubble universe that they created together that night. All Keith knew was that he had never experienced anything like it.

Their kiss got even more heated as Sophie reached her hands under the hem of his shirt to stroke his chest. This drew a groan out of Keith, and he quickly grabbed her by the waist and pulled her closer to him. Sophie started to back up, never separating their lips, or taking her hands away from his bare skin. When the backs of her knees hit the edge of the bed, she fell backwards, pulling Keith down on top of her.

This brought Keith back to reality, realizing their compromising situation. He quickly broke their kiss, trying to stop them before they got too carried away.

“Wait Sophie, we shouldn’t” he said, looking down at her for a second before moving to sit up next to her on the bed.

“It’s okay Keith, I want to” Sophie said, sitting next to him on the bed, placing a hand on his chest.

“I want to too” Keith said “I really, really want to, but we can’t.”

“Why can’t we?” she replied, though she knew all too well what was on his mind. He was still married, he was her teacher, he was 20 years older than her, the list of why was long, but none of that seemed to matter when she was with him.

Keith just turned to look at her, his eyes speaking everything that his words couldn’t.

Sophie understood. She really did, but she also couldn’t completely hide her disappointment. “I’ll go finish our tea then” she said, getting up from the bed, and trying to walk to the kettle before Keith grabbed her hand to stop her from leaving.

Keith stood up to face her. “Sophie, I’m sorry, you have to understand how much I want to… how much I want you” he said, looking deeply into her eyes.

“I can imagine, if it’s anything like how much I want you” she replied softly, looking into his eyes. “It’s okay Keith, I can wait. I know we haven’t really discussed it, or at least said it explicitly, but I really care for you Keith. As long as we’re together, it doesn’t matter what we do, I just love being with you” she said, unable to hold his gaze as she bared her feelings.

Keith was stunned, and unbelievably happy at her words. He grabbed her chin and tilted it so that she would meet his eyes again. “You mean so much to me, Sophie, I love every single millisecond that I get to spend with you” he replied before leaving a sweet kiss on her lips, careful to keep it chaste so that they would not get carried away again.

They shared a long post-kiss grin, before Sophie turned back to the kettle. “I’m going to finish making the tea now” she said, giving him a peck on the lips before leaving his arms.

“I’m just going to use the washroom, I’ll be back in a minute” Keith said, giving Sophie one last smirk and a wink before he disappeared into the bathroom.

Keith was dreading having to go back home that night, having to get into bed with his wife. God, his wife. ‘What am I doing’ he thought, looking up to face his reflection in the bathroom mirror. Before he could stop himself, he removed his phone from his pocket and sent off a text to Megan and then went back to join Sophie.

As he exited the bathroom, he spotted Sophie sitting against the headboard, holding a cup of tea with both hands. He crawled onto the bed to join her, mimicking her seated position and she handed him his cup of tea. They sipped in silence; legs pressed against one another for a while before Keith was the one to break it.

“How would you like a little company tonight?” he asked Sophie, adoring the surprised and hopeful look she gave him as she considered his question.

“Company like you?” she asked him.

“Well, when I was in the bathroom, I texted Megan saying that I drank a little too much with Shelley and that I can’t drive home tonight. I told her I was crashing at his place, but if you’ll have me, I’d much rather stay here with you” he confessed.

“I think I might be able to be persuaded” she replied, shuffling even closer to him on the bed, resting her head against his shoulder.

Chapter Text

Sophie awoke from her dream to the sun peaking through the blinds. She hovered in that haze between sleep and reality for a while before she slowly registered the presence of someone else in the bed with her. It all came back to her in a flash, watching his performance, dancing in the pub, kissing him in her hotel room, the two of them falling asleep in each other’s arms.

She opened her eyes, finding herself staring at Keith’s profile. He was still asleep, laying on his back with her in his arms, their legs tangled together. He was still wearing pieces from his tux. She snuggled closer into his chest, softly stroking it with her hand. ‘I think this is one of the most peaceful moments of my life’ she thought.

Eventually he opened his eyes and turned to meet hers. ‘I could get used to waking up with her everyday’ he thought, ignoring the part of his brain that was trying to remind him of every reason why that could never happen.

“Good morning” she said, stroking her fingers through his hair and turning onto her side to face him in the bed.

“Good morning” he said, mirroring her position and softly stroking a loose strand of hair out of her face. Their eyes stayed locked as they shared grins and featherlight touches. A silence fell between them, and they leaned in, lips meeting in the middle.

Their kiss started light, lips gently brushing, Keith’s beard tickling Sophie’s skin. Sophie got greedy, sticking her tongue out to request entry to his mouth, loving the sound of Keith’s responding groan. Granting her request, Keith opened his mouth and moved his tongue to stroke against hers. Quickly their kiss became heated, both loving the feeling of the other’s lips against theirs.

Keith placed on hand on her waist, rolling them over so he was lying on top of her, never breaking their kiss. One of Sophie’s hands stayed on Keith’s chest, while the other wrapped around his ribs to keep him close. Simultaneously, Keith moved his hand to stroke up from her waist, her shirt being pushed upwards in the process. Sophie gasped at the feelings of his fingertips on her bare s kin, breaking their kiss.

“We should stop” Keith said, panting above her. His fingers spoke something else, still softly brushing the skin below her ribcage.

“We probably should” she replied, though like Keith, her hands told a different story. As one of her hands reached up to tug his hair, the other slipped under his wrinkled dress shirt to lightly scratch at his chest with her nails.

Keith groaned, fiercely kissing her again, hand grabbing at her waist with renewed vigour.

Sophie was lost in sensation, his hands gripping her possessively, his tongue stroking hers. She was completely enthralled, even more so as she felt him getting hard against her hip.

The second Keith realized what was happening, he quickly sprang away from her, apologizing profusely.

“I’m so sorry Sophie, I never should have… I’m so sorry” he said, sitting up with his back to her.

“It’s okay Keith, honestly I don’t mind it” she replied reassuringly. “I actually really liked it if you truly want to know.” With her words, Sophie sat up and placed her hands on his back, resting her cheek against him. “As much as I would enjoy making love to you, you mean more to me than just sex” she continued.

“I just – I think we should wait” he said, finally turning back towards her.

Sophie just nodded in reply.

“It’s just, as your teacher, and foster…parent, and with the whole Megan situation, I just feel like that’s the one line we shouldn’t cross” he said, looking into her eyes as he finished.

“It’s okay Keith, we don’t have to keep talking about it. I respect how you feel and I understand where you’re coming from, I’m just happy spending time with you” Sophie said, trying to show him how she felt with her eyes.

He seemed to see through her, and quickly changed the subject. “I should probably head back home in a bit, but I was wondering if you wanted to get breakfast with me first?” he asked.

“I’d love to, just let me get changed really quick” Sophie said with a smile before hopping out of bed and disappearing into the bathroom.

‘That girl is the most perfect thing to ever happen to me, but I think she is going to be the death of me’ he thought, trying to reduce the tightness in his pants to avoid further embarrassment.

Chapter Text

Sophie and Keith ate breakfast in a small café down the street from her hotel. To a passing observer they were clearly besotted with each other, trying to steal glances while the other wasn’t looking. They chatted about music, and shared childhood stories both keeping the conversation pretty light. Neither of them wanted to think about their impending separation and return to reality.

As Keith walked Sophie back to her hotel, the couple remained silent. Both of them were trying to get the most out of every second they had together before they had to put their masks back on and return to reality. Once they arrived at the outside of Sophie’s building, Keith and Sophie paused and turned to face each other. They closed their eyes and put their foreheads together, trying to eek out as much as possible from the other’s presence.

“Have a fun day, I’ll see you soon” Keith said, breaking away from her slightly to place a kiss on her forehead.

“Thank you” she replied. “I had a great time with you this weekend Keith. It was nice to be able to spend time together just the two of us.”

Keith nodded in reply. “I don’t know when we’ll be able to do this kind of thing again” he said.

Sophie just nodded, unsure of how to reply. She knew that their situation wasn’t promising, and that it’d likely be a while before they could be truly together again.

“I don’t want to go back” Keith said, stroking her cheek.

He looked so vulnerable to Sophie in that moment, she couldn’t stand it. She reached a hand up to stroke the back of his neck before she spoke. “You just have to make it until Christmas, then you’ll finally be free. You can finally un-fuck yourself up” she finished trying to lighten his mood a little. She managed to get a small half-grin out of him.

“You’re right. And I’ll have you by my side helping me through it the whole time” he said. “I should go, it’s getting late and we don’t want…Megan to get suspicious.”

Sophie felt a sickening twist in her gut at the reminder that the man she spent the last day with was already spoken for. She just nodded, trying to push those negative thoughts away.

“I’ll see you tomorrow alright” Keith said, squeezing her hand gently. “Be safe today, I can’t wait to hear all about your adventure.”

“Thank you, and good luck with Megan” Sophie said with more conviction than she felt. She watched Keith’s form get smaller and more obscured as he walked away, though he did turn back once or twice to flash her a half-hearted smile.

As she returned to her room to get ready for her day, she decided she was going to try to forget all about Keith and her complicated life for just one day, and just embrace everything that was New York.

Sophie ended up having a fantastic day in the city. Before she came here and quickly got caught up in the drama of the Reynold’s family, she was intending on experiencing New York and doing a test-run to see if she liked it enough to maybe move here one day. Her uncle had told her all about the music schools out here and before he died, he told her everything he knew about the city that never sleeps.

It was only Saturday so she had the entirety of the day as well as Sunday morning for her exploration, so she did. She visited all of the places her uncle had said he would take her to after she graduated. It made her sad, thinking of her uncle and all of the time that was stolen from him. Despite her melancholy, she knew that he would be thrilled at the thought of her experiencing all of the places that they had once talked about.

The day flashed by, Sophie caught between feeling nostalgic, amazed, lonely and completely at home. She didn’t stay out too late, aware that being a woman alone in New York at night wasn’t the safest thing to be, so she had a quiet night in her hotel reading. Sunday morning called for a walk in Central Park before she took the train back to the Reynold’s house.

When Keith arrived home, he wanted nothing more than to have a shower and snuggle up with a book, but as he walked through the door, he found Megan waiting.

“How was your evening?” she asked, staring at him accusingly.

“It was fun, Shelley and I got a little carried away” he said, continuing past her to head up the stairs.

“How could you just get drunk and not come home Keith” Megan said, her voice steadily raising.

“I didn’t get drunk Megan, I just had one too many drinks and didn’t want to risk anything happening on the drive home” he said, turning around and slowly feeling less horrible about lying to her with every second that passed.

“Oh, sure Keith, that’s easy to believe considering how many beer bottles I’ve been finding lying around.” Her voice now close to a yell.

“I can’t have this argument right now Megan, I’m going to have a shower” he said, turning to flee upstairs.

“You can be such an ass sometimes” Megan said to his back as he continued his journey up the stairs.

‘What I wouldn’t give to be back in that pub with Sophie’ Keith thought, starting a mental countdown marking the time it would take until he would get to see her again.

Chapter Text

When Sophie arrived back at the Reynold’s house, she had to endure the nosy questions of Megan that were masquerading as friendly interest. All the while, she was trying very hard not to look towards Keith who was behind Megan sitting at the kitchen island. Keith was struggling with the same issue, a day and a half and he already missed her like crazy.

Sophie placated Megan with stories of her and Jessica spending the day in the city before returning to Jessica’s to watch movies and eat popcorn, and then retreated to hers and Lauren’s room. Luckily, Lauren was still away at a swim meet and Sophie had the room to herself to take a breath. ‘Hiding my feelings for him is just getting harder and harder every day’ she thought.

Lauren returned a couple of hours later, and the two girls were finally alone and awake together for the first time since their blow up in the school parking lot.

“Hi” Sophie said as Lauren placed her swim bag on the floor of the room.

“Hi” Lauren replied, sitting on her bed and looking over towards Sophie. “How was your weekend?” Lauren asked.

“It was fun thanks” Sophie replied, thankful again that Lauren and Jessica were not friends and rarely spoke.

Lauren just nodded as silence fell between them. She finally broke the silence, addressing the large elephant in the room. “I’ve been thinking a lot about what you said, and I just want to say I’m sorry” Lauren said.

Sophie was stunned. After Lauren turned on her so quickly, going from friendly one day to calling her a slut the next, Sophie had lost faith in her roommate. She never expected Lauren to apologize. It showed that she was a lot more mature than Sophie gave her credit for. “Apology accepted” Sophie replied plainly.

“Aaron really is an asshole huh” Lauren said, getting a shocked laugh out of Sophie.

“He really is” Sophie replied, and the two girls shared a smile. “What made you change your mind?” she asked.

“Well, when we were away at the meet this weekend, he slept with Daniella and then kicked her out of his hotel room the second after” Lauren replied. “And then he sent a naked picture of her to everyone on the swim team.”

“That’s horrible” Sophie said, disgusted. She knew he was a bad person, but that was just evil.

“Yeah, the coaches ended up getting wind of it so he got expelled, and apparently the police are opening an investigation” Lauren said.

“Wow, that sounds insane” Sophie said, still processing the news. “How are you holding up?” she asked, aware that despite Lauren accepting that he was a supreme dick, Sophie knew that Lauren’s feelings for Aaron were pretty strong.

“I’m more ashamed than anything really” Lauren said. “I can’t believe I was so foolish.”

“It’s not your fault Lauren, he is a manipulator and a narcissist and you didn’t know any better” Sophie said trying the reassure the upset woman across from her.

“Yeah, I still feel like I should’ve seen the signs.”

“Well, all that matters is that it’s all going to work out, and Aaron is going to get what he deserves” Sophie said.

“Yeah” Lauren said, still upset. “Thanks for trying to make me feel better Sophie, you’re a really good person”

Sophie felt her heart drop at Lauren’s compliment. She wasn’t being a good person; she was seeing a married man who happened to be the father of the girl sitting on the bed next to her. “Thanks Lauren” she said, remaining pensive. ‘At least Lauren and I seem to be back on good terms’ she thought. ‘That’ll make living here a lot more bearable.’

Chapter Text

A month and a half passed in a blur, Sophie and Keith trying to steal every moment they could but never getting another opportunity like New York. Sophie even had to stop joining him for lunches and before and after class to avoid any suspicion on Lauren’s part. They did manage to get one night to themselves, Megan at her cookie jar expo with Lauren as her helper allowed the secret couple a date night. Keith cooked them dinner, and then they moved to the couch for some snuggling and snogging. Sophie opened up about her uncle and her true reasons for her extra day in New York, to which Keith was incredibly supportive and kind. Other than that, they had had limited time together, both yearning desperately to further their connection.

Megan and Lauren remained unaware of Keith’s betrayal and Sophie’s secrecy, each just continuing on with their lives.

The opportunity for them to have some more time together presented itself when Megan’s 20-year high school reunion aligned with one of Lauren’s swim meets. Megan was set to fly to Maine for the week to visit with her parents and attend the reunion. Lauren was headed to Philadelphia for a 3-day meet.

Megan left on the Wednesday so that she’d have some time before and after her event, though she barely said a word to Keith as she departed. Lauren left afterschool on the Friday, leaving Keith and Sophie to drive home alone together. They hardly looked at one another, both finally getting the time that they desired but too excited and unsure to make the first move. It had been a while since they were alone.

The jeep pulled up at the house and they both proceeded to grab their things and walk up the drive. They still hadn’t made eye contact, though they were both very skilled at stealing glances inconspicuously after the last month and a half apart. Keith held the door open for her and Sophie shyly entered before him and sat on the piano bench.

‘How can I not know how to act around him already’ Sophie thought. ‘It’s so difficult having to pretend in 99% of our interactions that I have no clue how to act now.’

Keith had missed her so much that he didn’t know how to behave. He finally got the courage to openly observe her as she sat on her piano bench. ‘Hers’ he thought. ‘I guess that’s pretty accurate, it became hers the minute she first played its keys.’

Sophie finally extricated herself from her thoughts long enough to meet Keith’s eyes, her back to the piano.

“Hello” she said, a single word piercing the thick silence between them.

“Hi” Keith said with a nervous smile, keeping her gaze.

They remained in awkward silence for about 10 seconds before they both burst out laughing simultaneously.

“I don’t know why this is so difficult now” Sophie admitted. “I keep feeling like they’re both going to walk through the door and we’re going to have to go back to pretending.”

Keith just nodded in agreement. “I really despise having to put on an act around you” he said. “You’ve always been the one person I felt like I didn’t need to do that around.”

“Me too” she replied, their eyes openly displaying their sincerity.

After a minute of soulful gazing, Keith walked over to join her on the piano bench. “Do you fancy a duet?” he asked.

“Sure” Sophie said with a coy smile.

“Just try to keep up” Keith said dramatically placing his hands on the keys and then starting to play the bassline for “Heart and Soul” (that duet song that everyone knows). His song choice drew the most shocked laugh out of Sophie, and she turned to meet his eyes which were glistening with mirth just inches away from hers.

“Oh, I’ll try” she said, her fingers joining his on the keys, plucking out the second part easily.

As they played, Keith started trying to brush his fingers against hers when they approached nearby notes. Sophie complied, allowing her part to fall behind slightly for the pleasure of feeling his skin on hers. Eventually, much like the last time they sat together on this very bench, the song was interrupted, their desire for one another taking priority over their impromptu performance. Unlike the last time, they didn’t have to hesitate.

Keith and Sophie moved their hands from the keys to rest instead on the other. Keith’s hands went up to cup Sophie’s face, whereas one of Sophie’s was placed on his thigh, and the other went to cover his on her cheek. They both gazed at each other, sharing information that words could not express, before they leaned in for a kiss.

All their earlier hesitation had completely dissipated, replaced by complete confidence in their feelings. Keith thought that Sophie’s lips felt like coming home. He didn’t know how in such a short period of time, this unique, funny, brilliant girl had come to be the person he valued the most. Sophie just felt relief as his lips pressed against hers. Being around Keith was like a warm blanket and a cup of tea on a rainy day.

Eventually they parted, both recognizing the need before they got too unruly.

“So, I’m thinking I’ll make us dinner and then we can watch a movie?” Sophie said, hands still stroking along his chest.

“Sounds perfect” Keith said. “Speaking of plans, do you have any for tomorrow?” he asked.

“Well… I was kind of hoping we could do something together” Sophie said.

Keith just smiled. “I’ve got the perfect thing in mind” he said before standing up and offering his hand. “Come on, you can put me to work in the kitchen.”

Sophie took his hand, and followed his lead, curious, yet thrilled at the idea of a weekend ahead of them all to themselves.

Chapter Text

Keith had forgotten how much he loved waking up with Sophie in his arms. This time, he was the first to wake and was able to use this fact to his advantage, trying to map out every freckle and wrinkle that he could see on her skin. They had had a low-key night, doing exactly as they had intended, homemade dinner and a movie night, and then they had tea and a chat before heading to bed together. Sophie tried not to think of the woman whose bed she was occupying, pushing all guilt and hesitation aside and focusing on enjoying Keith’s company. It was difficult for both of them to restrain themselves, especially with their bodies pressed against each other, though they eventually managed to fall asleep.

When Sophie awoke, the couple spent minutes with the usual doey-eye looks before they decided to get up and get ready for the day. It was Saturday, so they had to entire day to spend with one another. Keith had something interesting planned.

“What do you want to do today?” Sophie asked over toast and tea.

“As long as I’m with you, anything” Keith said honestly. “Though I was thinking we could head back towards the city so that – you know –“

“Yeah, that sounds like fun” Sophie said, aware that they couldn’t go out in public together as a couple in town and risk being seen; but if they went into the city, they just became another couple of people in a city of millions.

“Great, once we’re done eating, we could head out” he said, “make sure you bring something warm to wear though.”

Sophie nodded; she could see he had some form of a plan but he wasn’t revealing anything yet, even with their usual mind-reading stare.

Keith drove, handing the music responsibilities over to Sophie.

“I hope you don’t expect all my music to be classical and a little Unconscious Brothers thrown in there” she joked, plugging her phone into the aux.

“Why wouldn’t I expect that, that seems like a perfectly reasonable assumption” Keith countered, lightly squeezing her knee in retaliation.

“Well, be ready to have your horizon broadened” Sophie said, before playing some of Bon Iver’s album, For Emma Forever Ago.

They chatted about their favorite bands, Sophie talking excitedly about the songs she was most passionate about, telling Keith the entire backstory of each song, stopping only to tell him some fun facts about the band, or the singer, or someone somehow connected. Keith loved it. He wished he could just watch her as she spoke so passionately and so openly, but driving unfortunately made that impossible.

Sophie was learning not to be too shocked at her candidness. Normally she was so reserved around others, only sharing aspects of herself when it was absolutely necessary. Keith was an anomaly. Somehow, he broke down all of her walls without even trying to, making her identity and soul burst through all of the cracks for him to see and judge. It made her feel vulnerable to have someone else see all of the sides to her she could normally easily stow away, but because it was Keith it was equally comforting. Keith was seeing her as she was, not just the certain parts of her that she decided to show the world, and he still liked her. Nothing could make her heart quicken like that realization could.

Soon, they were entering the city, conversation pausing slightly as Sophie tried to catch glimpses of areas of the city she had yet to explore. Keith still hadn’t revealed their final destination to her, being surprisingly secretive. It wasn’t until Sophie spotted the Ferris Wheel that Keith’s plan was exposed.

“Coney Island?” Sophie asked, pleased with his choice.

“Yeah, everything is closing in a couple days after Halloween, and I figured it would be fun to explore” Keith said as he pulled into a parking spot. “We can go someplace else though if you’re not interested.”

“No, I’m very interested. It’s not at all what I expected from you, but I’m sure it will be wonderful” Sophie said, taking his hand. “Though, like you said, anything is perfect when we’re together.”

The couple shared a short but emotional kiss before leaving the car to start their date.

Chapter Text

It was nearly the off-season for Coney Island, so Keith and Sophie felt like they had the entire place to themselves. There were a few other tourists wandering about, but the couple hardly noticed them, walking hand in hand and taking in all of the sights.

They started at the Ferris Wheel, figuring it would be advantageous to scope out their next activity from higher ground. Sophie made sure she was completely pressed against Keith on the seat, wrapping her arms around his arm and resting her head on his shoulder. Once they had circled around to the top suddenly the wheel stopped, allowing them panoramic views of the city buildings and ocean around them.

“It’s so beautiful” Sophie said, taken aback at the perfectness of their situation.

“It truly is” Keith said, though his attention was being stolen away from the view by the image of her. Her hair was blowing slightly in the breeze, her nose and cheeks were red from the cold, her lips were glistening, and her eyes were alive with wonder. He couldn’t help himself and reached the arm that wasn’t occupied by hers and softly stroked a windblown piece of hair back behind her ear, getting her attention.

‘He is just the picture of temptation’ Sophie thought as she turned away from the scenic view to face him. ‘Especially when he looks at me like that.’

Sophie reached up to brush her thumb across his bottom lip, and then leaned towards him for a kiss. Their lips touched and a wave of contentedness washed over the couple. Keith’s lips seemed to fit so perfectly with Sophie’s that it seemed like the universe was telling them that their lips should never part again. They both got so caught up in their kiss that they had completely forgotten their surroundings, that is until they were jerked apart by the Ferris wheel resuming its previous speed. Sophie blushed as Keith continued to look deeply into her eyes. Sophie had to break eye contact to avoid spilling too much of her feelings into her gaze.

‘He is still married’ she told herself. ‘But it’s so easy to forget all about Megan when it’s the two of us together’ her mind reminded her. ‘How can something that is obviously so right, and feels so perfect be wrong’ she thought, once again ignoring that insistent voice inside of her telling her that it will never last.

It was one of those fall days where the coldness of winter was starting to set in so the air held a refreshing bite that nipped at your nose. Despite the cold, it was a fairly nice day, the sun casually peeked out from behind the clouds periodically before it returned to its hiding place.

As they disembarked from the Ferris wheel, Sophie shivered, her sweater not enough to stave off the cold.

“Here, I’m really warm, you can have my sweater” Keith said, taking it off to hand it to her. Sophie was unashamed at the desirous look she gave him as his shirt rode up in the process of removing it, revealing a toned abdomen.

“Thank you” Sophie said, knowing there was no use in arguing and honestly, she enjoyed his smell enveloping her as she wore it.

They explored Coney Island more, stopping at the original Nathan’s Famous for a hot dog lunch, wandering through the New York Aquarium and walking along the boardwalk.

“Let’s go to the water” Sophie said as they walked parallel with the beach, tugging him onto the soft sand before he could reply.

“I’ll race you” Sophie said, releasing his hand and turning to run towards the water, glancing over her shoulder to make sure he was coming.

Keith paused for a second watching her before he followed. He knew in that moment watching her laugh and grin as she ran towards the water, that he would follow her anywhere if she so much as asked. Exhilarated by this realization and the image of her happily running ahead of him, repeatedly spinning to look back at him, he sped up to catch her then lifted her into his arms and spun her around. Sophie threw her head back and laughed as he captured her, her heart racing from both the race and the feeling of being held so tightly.

Keith placed Sophie down after a spin or two but didn’t let her get very far, keeping his arms wrapped around her, only giving her enough room to move her head back so that she could look him in the eye. They could both feel the other’s heart beating wildly as nearly every inch of them was pressed together.

“I’m in love with you Sophie” Keith said, his gaze penetrating hers. He knew it was the truth, he’d been in love with her for a while, though he’d been too scared to admit it, even to himself. There was just something about being with her, he knew it was hopeless and that it would never change. He loved her, so he had to tell her.

Sophie was stunned. That nagging voice inside of her that had been telling her how bad of an idea getting involved with Keith was, was silenced. ‘He loves me’ she thought to herself, ‘he loves me, not some façade I create, me.’ She realized she had been silent for almost too long and that Keith was started to get nervous. Just before he was about to either take it back, or tell her he didn’t expect her to feel the same way, she interrupted him.

“I am so unbelievably in love with you too” Sophie said, watching Keith as her words sunk in.

‘She loves me back? She loves me back? How did this happen, how could this happen, how could this tiny woman just completely change my life in every way possible’ he thought. Before he could think of anything else, his desire for her, now endorsed with their admissions, took over.

Keith and Sophie met in the middle, lips chasing after one another’s as their tongues danced. They couldn’t get close enough to each other; chests bumping, knees knocking and arms tangling as their lips met. Every thought melted from their brains, their bodies taking over instead, hands grasping at waists, chests, arms and even clothing to try to dispose of any gaps between them. Without Keith’s arms holding her up, Sophie had a suspicion that she would’ve been a pile on the ground by now.

Eventually their need for more than just kissing, touching and holding each other took over, allowing them enough time to realize their compromising position, especially in a public area. Their lips broke apart, though their eyes snapped to find the other’s immediately.

“I’ve never been able to love someone like this before, or even feel like I’m being my actual self in a relationship before” Sophie said, her words too strong that she couldn’t maintain their eye contact.

“I didn’t even know I could love another person this much” Keith replied, trying to catch her eyes again.

“Me neither” Sophie said, finally returning to share his gaze. “Being with you feels like…it feels like coming home” Sophie confessed, unable to hold anything back now that she knew how he felt.

Keith’s heart dropped in his chest at her words. They so perfectly summed up how he felt about her, though how an 18-year-old girl became his home in less than 3 months, he had no clue.

Chapter Text

They stayed in Coney Island for the rest of the afternoon, reveling in the fact that their feelings were reciprocated. As the sun started to set, Keith started to lead Sophie back towards the car.

“Are we heading back?” Sophie asked, getting into the passenger seat.

“No, there’s one more thing I think we should do” Keith said, starting the car and reaching over to place his hand in one of hers.

They didn’t drive for very long, they were still in the city when Keith parked the jeep. By this time, twilight had passed, and dark was starting to set in. He led her to a very tall apartment building and then proceeding to press every single intercom button repeatedly until the door clicked open.

Sophie gave him a questioning look, to which he responded with a smug grin and a shrug.

“Hold the door” he said, then returned to the car to grab a bunch of blankets and a couple pillows before following her inside.

He led her up the elevator as high as it would go, and then dragged her towards the stairwell. They climbed one flight and reached a door labelled “No Access.” They shared another look as Keith confidently pushed the door open, propping it open with a rock that must’ve been left by the previous visitors.

Sophie was immediately struck at the sight before it. She was surrounded in lights. Every direction was completely lit by the inhabitants of the city below them. It seemed to go on forever, like an infinitely long sheet with light scattered randomly throughout it.

She turned back to find Keith watching her fondly, still clutching the pillows and blankets by the door.

“Get over here” she said, reaching a hand out towards him. He walked towards her slowly, keeping her gaze locked on his, dropped the blankets and pillows at their feet and used her offered hand to tug her into a kiss. Sophie knew she would never get old of the taste of him, or the feeling of his stubble scratching at her lips and cheeks.

“Thank you for one of the best days ever” Sophie said when they broke apart to gaze at the city below.

“I should be thanking you” Keith said, and Sophie had no reply. “Come on let’s set up these blankets and pillows and get comfortable” he said.

They spent hours up on that roof, discussing their fears and faults and the nature of the universe broken up by periods of mad laughter and horrible jokes.

Chapter Text

They were so content laying on the rooftop that they drifted off to sleep. Sophie was the first to wake in the morning light, gently rousing Keith to view the sunrise.

‘Do you remember falling asleep last night?’ Sophie asked him as the city started to wake below them.

‘Not a bit’ Keith replied as he sat up to lean against a wall and pulled her into his arms.

They stayed a while, watching the early morning traffic, and soon they were both ready to leave. It was Sunday, which meant they had to get back to the house before Lauren arrived.

As they left, Sophie knew that that rooftop would forever hold a special place in her heart, and that no matter what happened between her and Keith, she would never forget the day she spent with him at Coney Island so deeply and so madly in love.

Sophie slept as they drove back home, allowing Keith some time to reflect on their weekend. He looked over at her as she slept with her head against the window. ‘God, I’m in so much trouble’ he thought. He tried to just revel in the happiness Sophie stirred in him, but as their weekend was coming to a close, he couldn’t help but think about the reality of their situation. There was nothing he wanted more than to be in a proper relationship with Sophie, one where they didn’t have to hide their feelings or put on an act. At first it didn’t seem like big leap, they loved each other, shared similar interests, enjoyed being together and had this intangible connection that couldn’t be explained.

And then there was reality.

Keith was married. He had a daughter who was barely younger than the woman he was in love with. ‘Fuck I’m so screwed’ he thought. He glanced over towards Sophie once again as she shifted in her sleep, letting out an almost imperceptible sigh. His heart swelled just looking at her. ‘I love her so much, and I can’t do a single thing about it’ he thought.

Sophie woke just as they were pulling into the driveway, flashing Keith a sleepy smile and giving him a quick kiss on the cheek. Sophie immediately went in search of a warm shower, while Keith distracted himself from thoughts of her by making them breakfast.

“Oh, thank you for cooking breakfast” Sophie said as she entered the kitchen to see him finishing up their eggs, bacon and toast. “I’ll make the tea” she said, moving around him and reaching up to grab the mugs from the top shelf. Suddenly, she felt hands on her waist and breath on her neck.

“Mmm, you smell lovely” Keith said, hugging her from behind and nuzzling his face into her neck. Sophie shivered at the contact; the mugs completely forgotten.

“Thank you” she said breathlessly as Keith started to press light kisses to her neck. She moaned at the feeling as Keith’s hands pressed into her abdomen. “What’s gotten into you?” she asked, curious about his initiation of increased intimacy, but definitely not complaining.

“I just miss you already” Keith said, pulling back and twisted her around so they were face to face.

Sophie gave him a reassuring smile and reached up to run her fingers through his hair. “I love you” she said.

“I love you too” he said, closing his eyes and resting his forehead against hers.

“Come on, lets eat” Sophie said after about a minute of their embrace.

After their late breakfast, they moved to the living room to read, Keith laying horizontal on the couch with his head in her lap. It was peaceful. They didn’t feel like they needed to fill every silence with unnecessary words, just simply being together was enough. Sophie didn’t say it, but she was grateful to finally find someone who was just as happy to simply read the day away as she was.

Eventually, Sophie made them a small lunch and brought it to the living room so that they could eat together. Keith put his book away to share happy looks with Sophie over their grilled cheese sandwiches. After their lunch, Keith stood to put a record on and then offered Sophie his hand for a dance.

Sophie smiled and took it without hesitation, immediately wrapping her arms around his neck as they started to gently sway in time with the music. They laughed as Keith picked her up and spun her around quickly before placing her back on the ground. Their lips found each other, the motion now almost second-nature to them. Like usual, they had to break apart before they got too wrapped up and lost control, but they continued to sway, simply holding one another.

“Lauren is going to be home soon” Keith said, and though he was happy that his daughter was coming home, he regretted that it signalled the end of his and Sophie’s time. ‘If only I could have it all’ he thought.

Sophie nodded and released him, returning to the couch and picking up her book, but not opening it, keeping her eyes on him the whole time.

“I’m sorry we have to do all of this…shit” he said, walking towards her and leaning over to give her a chaste kiss.

“Me too” she said, looking up into his eyes.

Keith stroked her cheek one last time before he moved to sit on the recliner, rather than join her on the couch. They both returned to their books, but neither of them could focus. Instead, they settled on sharing resigned smiles and glances over the tops of their books, feet lightly brushing on the top of the coffee table.

Not long after, they heard a car pull into the drive and moved their feet back to their respective sides of the coffee table, pretending to be engrossed in their books.

Lauren walked in, complaining about the drive and looking quite exhausted. She joined them in the living room and chatted with Keith briefly about the meet that weekend. After about five minutes, Sophie excused herself to the kitchen, claiming her need for another cup of tea. The second she realized she wasn’t being watched, her shoulders sagged and she let her head fall into her hands. ‘It’s just so unbelievably frustrating’ she thought, on the verge of tears. ‘Leave it to me to find the perfect man but be doomed to never be together.’

Chapter Text

Things went back to “normal” for Sophie and the Reynolds family for the next week. Knowing that Keith was in love with her was the only thing that was helping keeping Sophie together, but it also made their separation so much harder. She was so helplessly in love yet every minute of every day she had to hide it, push it down and pretend it didn’t exist. She was so desperate for an emotional release, she felt like she was on the verge of snapping every day. Even the secret moments her and Keith shared in class were not enough anymore.

Keith was unbelievably confused. Megan had arrived home from her trip and they’d barely spoken, not that he cared. It’s just that getting into bed with her every night felt wrong. Having her drive him to work felt ridiculous. Even just being in the same room with her didn’t feel real. It was like his real life was the time he spent with Sophie or playing with the NYSO, and everything else was a dream. All these moments were just putting his true life on hold.

It was a normal day, like any other when Sophie got the call. Her phone started buzzing in the middle of her literature class, and she excused herself to answer it. It was her aunt back home.

Keith was teaching his junior band class, when he spotted Sophie in the window of the classroom, reminding him of a day that felt like a lifetime ago. He faltered in his explanation, then made an excuse to leave the classroom, worried about what Sophie’s visit meant.

He exited the room to find her in tears. Not a couple trails streaming down her face like the last time they were in this position, Sophie was in complete disarray. Massive drops were falling down her face, strands of hair were stuck to her cheeks and she looked on the verge of collapse.

At the very sight of her, his heart broke. He couldn’t help it, he immediately pulled her into his arms, uncaring of who saw them.

“Hey, hey, hey it’s alright” he said gently, holding on to her as she sobbed into his chest. She continued to cry for a few minutes, Keith mumbling words of comfort to her the entire time, not rushing her to explain her reason for being upset, just letting her slowly calm down enough until she was ready.

After a couple minutes Sophie seemed to relax, immediately sobering up.

“It’s my aunt” she said. “Apparently she’s – “ her voice caught in her throat. “Apparently she’s been having some health issues lately and she’s … she’s really sick” Sophie said, her eyes watering at she met his eyes.

Keith held onto her shoulders, his heart ripping apart for her. First her uncle, and now her aunt. “I am so sorry” he said, knowing there was nothing he could say that would take away her pain.

“I have to go” she said seriously, looking him in the eye.

“Yes, you do” he said, trying to convey how he was feeling through his gaze. “I’ll call Megan, she can come pick you up and we’ll go to the airport tonight so you can catch the first flight out.”

Sophie nodded, looking up at him gratefully, still very visibly shaken.

“Come with me, you can come wait in the back room while I call Megan alright?” Keith said, placing his hand on her back to softly lead her back towards the band room.

“Keith” she said, turning towards his and stopping them just before they reached the classroom. She looked ready to speak, but the words were not coming as she looked into his eyes. They stood there just staring at one another for a while, no words being said.

“I know” Keith said, and he did. One look into her eyes and he knew everything that was unsaid.

Sophie gave Keith a sad, teary-eyed smile before they started to move towards the classroom again.

Keith managed to find someone to cover his afternoon classes, and Megan arrived soon afterwards to pick the two of them up. Sophie packed quickly, and within an hour the three of them were driving towards the airport.

The tension in the car was unbearable for Keith. Every cell of his being was begging him to come up with some way to make her stay. One minute, they were in love and sharing secret kisses and the next, they might not ever see each other again. He was being insanely selfish just thinking about asking her to stay, and he knew it, but he still couldn’t help the desperate thoughts that were coming to mind.

Sophie’s mind was reeling. The day had been an absolute train wreck. The phone call with her aunt had been devastating and earth-shattering. It gave her no choice, she needed to go back to take care of her aunt, she wanted to… but she also desperately wanted to stay. Keith had been amazing. He had calmed her down, reassured her and comforted her when she needed it the most, and had completely put his own feelings aside to help her. When they were in the hall she had tried to tell him how much he meant to her, or try to express how grateful she was for everything, but the words never came. Luckily, he was Keith, therefore he could take one look at her and see into her very soul.

As she sat in the car with the love of her life and his wife on her way to leave the country for what could very possibly be forever to go take care of her sick aunt, less than a year after the death of her uncle, she almost laughed at her misfortune. She had never felt such a confusing mess of feelings. Dread at the idea of leaving Keith, relief at the idea of not hiding anymore and overwhelming worry for her aunt. She took a moment to look at the back of Keith’s chair, his messy hair peeking out from behind the heat rest and felt a tightness in her chest. She felt an extreme urge to climb into his lap, thread her fingers into his hair and beg him to come with her. ‘What a disaster’ she thought, turning to the window at the passing trees to quell the sadness.

They arrived at the airport entirely too soon, and yet simultaneously not soon enough.

Megan helped Sophie buy a ticket and brought her to security while Keith carried her bag, trailing slightly behind them.

They stopped to say their goodbyes at security.

“We’re going to miss you Sophie” Megan said, leaning in to give her a hug. Sophie felt sick. She met Keith’s eyes over Megan’s shoulder, trying to stave off the tears until she was alone. Megan finally released her just as Keith was placing Sophie’s luggage on the ground in front of her and trying to avoid meeting her eyes. His heart was shattered. Not only was she leaving, but they weren’t even going to get a chance to say a proper goodbye.

“Goodbye” Sophie said, extending her hand out for him to shake, trying to meet his gaze. Their eyes locked and palms brushed together. Somehow it felt even more intimate than most of their previous exchanges. Keith moved his thumb ever so slightly to stroke her skin, eyes still staring intently.

“Goodbye Sophie” he said, his voice much steadier than he felt.

It was over in a flash, Sophie committing to memory the very last part of her that touched his skin. It was the tip of her little pinkie as they pulled away.

She turned and grabbed her suitcase, feeling his eyes on her.

“Thank you, for everything” she said to the both of them before turning to walk away.

‘You can’t look back, she’s right there’ Sophie thought before she realized that she would likely never see either of them again. ‘Fuck it, if I’m leaving forever, I may as well see him one last time.’ With that thought, she stopped in her tracks and turned around to meet his eyes.

Keith’s eyes hadn’t left her since their exchange. As she turned around, their eyes met once again. Sophie poured all of her feelings into the gaze, willing him to see how she felt. Keith gave her an almost imperceptible nod, and a sad grin in response.

Then, Sophie turned back around and within seconds had disappeared from sight.

Chapter Text

Keith was sleepwalking through his life. It had been a month since Sophie had left and everything still felt dull. He didn’t cry, he didn’t get angry and yell, he just felt dull. It was like his life had lost its colour. The only times he felt like things were back to normal were when he was playing. It was the only time he felt like he could feel…something again.

Him and Megan hadn’t spoken to each other in a week. He didn’t know if she noticed how he’d been since Sophie left. I guess when he was around her, he’d been like this for years, and in all honesty, he didn’t really care whether or not she noticed.

He missed Sophie.

Sophie had been busy. Between going to chemo appointments with her aunt and enrolling back in school, she didn’t have much free time. In the little bit of free time that she managed to steal, her mind always wandered to Keith. Christmas had come and passed, and she wondered if he was still teaching. Did he think of her, or had he already completely forgot about their time together?

Soon, she had graduated and started working as a children’s piano teacher in order to help cover all of her aunt’s medical costs. She enjoyed her time with the children; their fresh, naïve perspectives of music gave her an increased degree of appreciation for playing. She was falling in love with the piano all over again; it seemed like the only time that she felt like herself was when she was alone in the studio playing. It allowed her an emotional release that her life otherwise didn’t provide.

Her aunt’s condition was improving. She was responding well to her new treatment, and her chances of survival and mood were slowly improving.

“I’m so sorry you had to put your life on hold for a sad old woman like me” her aunt said one day as they played cribbage on the edge of her bed.

“Don’t be ridiculous” Sophie replied, looking up from her cards.

“It’s true, you’re so young and smart; you should be out exploring your passions and experiencing the world not taking care of a sad old lady like me”

“Well first of all, you’re not that old” Sophie said, “and secondly, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I love you, even when you’re being silly; you should be focusing on getting better, and I’m going to be here the whole time” she continued.

“I guess I have to get better as soon as possible so you can get back to America” her aunt said with a cheeky grin.

“What makes you think I want to go back?” Sophie asked. She hadn’t really shared much about her trip with her aunt, and was curious as to why her aunt thought that she enjoyed it.

“I don’t know, there’s just something different about you since you’ve been back” her aunt said. “It’s almost like you’ve left something behind, or that you’re waiting for something.”

Sophie was silent. She had no idea how to reply to that. She didn’t realize that her aunt had been reading her behaviour so accurately, or was even capable of seeing through her to that degree. She tried really hard not to think of Keith’s lips on hers, or his presence next to her as they sat on the rooftop.

“Come on, lets finish our game, I’m not going to let you skunk me this time” Sophie eventually said, avoiding both the question and her confusing feelings on the subject.

Keith was no longer a teacher. As spring arrived, he was spending more and more time in the city and less time at home. Playing with the symphony was fantastic, he was pushing himself and his music every day, and doing it surrounded by some of the most talented musicians he’d ever met. Though there was one talented musician he was still missing. Sometimes he caught himself checking to see what time it was in London and wondering what she was doing. He hoped she was coming back someday. He didn’t know what he would do if she didn’t.

One day, he was preparing to leave for his performance when he ran into Megan in the hallway. She glared at him, over what he had no clue. He’d been sleeping on the couch for a couple months, sleeping with someone who wasn’t Sophie was too difficult and he would rather sleep alone. He’d known it for a while, but for some reason this was the moment when he knew it needed to be voiced.

“We should get a divorce” he said simply, watching her face change from one of annoyance to one of surprise.

“A divorce, seriously Keith, how can you ask for a divorce before you even tried to fix this, to fix our marriage?” she said.

“Fix what Megan?” he said. “We’ve barely spoken in months, we’ve got next to nothing in common anymore, and we really don’t even like each other anymore.”

She was silent for a while, just processing his words. “And you’re ready to just throw the last 19 years away, over…over nothing?” she finally said, tears coming to her eyes.

“It’s not over nothing, it’s about a choice” he said. “I want to choose to be content in my life, to be free, to be passionate about something again. We’ve just been going through the motions of our lives for years, we’re not living…we’re not feeling anything.”

“I didn’t realize that you’ve been miserable all this time” she said.

“I haven’t been miserable Megan, I wouldn’t take any of it back, I just…I just feel like it’s time for us to be over.”

“You don’t get to just decide when we’re done Keith, a relationship involves two people, I have a say” Megan said aggressively, her voice getting louder with her emotions.

“Yes Megan, I do get to decide. I think after the last twenty years with no choices, I’ve earned the right to decide at least one thing in our relationship, and I am choosing to end it” he said.

Megan huffed, pushing past him in the hallway, tears falling down her face as she slammed the door to their room.

Keith stood there for a while, letting his feelings wash over them. He felt guilty about upsetting her, and worried for how this is going to affect Lauren, but the most overpowering emotion he was feeling was relief.

Chapter Text

Keith had been leaning into his life back in the city for the past 2 years. His divorce was finalized about a year ago, Megan keeping their house and Keith moving into an apartment in the city. He was still playing with the symphony, which had given him the opportunity to travel to some incredible places around the world.

Lauren and him spoke often. She had moved to Miami to swim and go to university, and she seemed to be enjoying it. He had worried about her reaction to his and Megan’s divorce, but after the initial shock, she actually seemed happier not having to act as a bridge between her two parents. He was a very proud father, and tried to fly down to go to her meets whenever he could.

A couple months ago, he had started to date a woman from the symphony. He hadn’t forgotten about Sophie, or the time they spent together, but he’d given up on their future together. Nearly every day of the past couple years he had debated just getting on a flight and going to see her. There was a rope tied to his heart and sometimes the pull was so unbelievably strong that he almost couldn’t bear it. Even considering how long it’d been since he’d laid his eyes on her, he still dreamed about her often. Sometime he would wake up in the morning and swear that he could feel her presence in the bed next to him. He missed her, but he knew that he had to let her get on with her life. She’d likely realized by now that he was a horrible old man, and completely forgotten about him.

Addison was lovely. She was an accomplished flautist, very well-liked within the orchestra and had the most adorable laugh. He enjoyed spending time with her, and he think the feeling was reciprocated. They had very similar interests and they had fun together, and that’s what mattered to Keith. When they were together, he tried really hard not to compare their relationship to the connection he had with Sophie. It was no use making comparisons to a ghost.

One night, after a rehearsal with the symphony, he took Addison out to a bar that usually had live music playing. They were sitting at a table listening to the music and laughing about something that one of their orchestral mates had done earlier that day when he saw her.

‘No, it couldn’t be her’ he thought as he spotted her profile. She was sitting with a few other people her age at a table across the room, listening intently to something one of her companions was saying. His mind shut down at the sight of her, his body betraying him and physically leaning towards her without his approval. As though she could feel his eyes on her, suddenly her head turned towards him, her eyes meeting his.

It was like no time had passed between them as his blue eyes locked on to her hazel ones. He immediately felt such a strong sense of longing for her, his mind feeding him pictures of her disappearing behind the gates of airport security. As they stayed in their trance, he could tell that Sophie, like him, was experiencing a great deal of emotions at their unexpected reunion. He could see the shifts in her eyes as different feelings flitted through her mind. They stayed like that for what felt like ages before Keith was dragged back to reality as Addison shook his arm.

“Keith” she said still shaking his arm, that is until he broke his gaze from Sophie’s and turned to look at his girlfriend. “Are you alright, you got really spacey there for a second” she said, looking concerned.

“Yeah, sorry, I just saw someone I used to know a long time ago” he replied, his mind still reeling. ‘Why is she back, and why didn’t she come find me’ he thought. ‘You know exactly why; she doesn’t want anything to do with you’ his mind answered for him. ‘She never really loved you, she was young and didn’t know any better. You need to let her go’ he thought, realizing he needed to be happy for her, and excited that she had a whole life ahead of her.

“Oh, why don’t we go say hi” Addison suggested, completely unaware of his inner turmoil. His heart started to beat frantically in his chest at the thought of speaking with Sophie after all this time. His mind tried to come up with a reasonable reason as to why he couldn’t go over and say hi, but it was otherwise occupied with unwanted images of holding her in his arms, laughing with her in Coney Island, and feeling her hands in his hair.

He nodded, standing up and glancing back towards where Sophie was seated. Addison grabbed his hand as they walked across the room to see the woman he had been secretly in love with for more than 2 years.

“Hello” he said as they arrived at her table where she was seating with four other people in their early twenties. Not that he noticed, his eyes were locked on Sophie’s form, seeing her up close for the first time since that day in the airport when he thought he’d never see her again.

“Keith…hi” she said, looking up at him, meeting his eyes again.

“Nice to meet you, I’m Addison” said a voice next to Keith, Addison was ever the friendly person.

“Hi, I’m Sophie” she said, bringing her eyes away from Keith to first look at Addison, and then her gaze traveled downwards to their interlocked hands.

“So, how do you two know each other?” Addison asked when neither Sophie nor Keith knew what to say.

“Um, I stayed with Keith and Megan when I did an exchange here a couple of years ago” Sophie replied, looking back over at Keith.

“Oh wonderful” Addison replied.

Keith’s brain was slowly catching up enough to speak.

“How is your aunt?” he asked, genuinely concerned for Sophie. He knew that her aunt was really the only family she had left, and he knew that losing her would be devastating.

“She’s in remission now” Sophie said. “She was really lucky, for a while there, her chances weren’t looking very good, but she’s been cancer free for almost six months now.”

“I’m so glad” Keith said, keeping his eyes on hers for probably longer than was appropriate. “Well, we should let you get back to your friends, it was really nice to see you.” His mind was screaming at him telling him not to leave. ‘She’s finally here, you have to tell her how you feel’ it screamed, but he pushed it down determined to let her live her life without being chained to an old musician.

“Yeah…it was nice to see you too” Sophie said, letting him walk away.

Chapter Text

Sophie was devastated. Ever since she ran into Keith in that bar, it was like her heart was broken all over again.

She was back in New York for university, taking classes at Julliard. She’d arrived a couple months ago, and had immediately almost tracked him down. She had actually taken a bus all the way back to the school when she realized that she had no right to invade his life like that. He’d said he loved her years ago now. She’d been gone for a long time, and he’d probably patched things up with Megan now, and was living happily in his marriage. She ended up taking a bus right back to the city.

Her new friends had suggested the night out, and she was happy to join and experience New York a little more. Then she saw him. Instantly, all those feelings she’d been pushing aside for years came rushing to the surface, demanding her attention. When he came over and she heard his voice, it was like they had never been apart, her whole body urging her to just touch him to feel his skin.

Then, the woman next to him spoke. She hadn’t noticed her before; her entire focus was previously engaged by Keith. Sophie couldn’t help but feel devastated at the image of this woman’s hand in his. ‘How could he do this to Megan again?’ she thought. ‘Was I completely wrong about him; do I even know him at all? Is he just a cheater?’ She hid her inner conflict to finish their exchange, which luckily didn’t last very long.

As soon as they were gone, she made an excuse to her friends and immediately went back to her dorm and burst into tears. ‘Fuck, I’m still in love with him’ she thought.

Keith was in crisis. Seeing Sophie again completely overpowered all of his previous commitments to ignore his lingering feelings for her and forget about all their time together. After they left Sophie’s table, Keith told Addison that he was feeling tired and he walked her to her place before heading home. His usual goodnight kiss to her had never felt so wrong.

‘I have to see her again’ he thought that night, reflecting on his interaction with Sophie. ‘If not to get back together, to at least get some closure on our time together.’

The next day, he tried to hunt her down. He searched phone books, google and even social media attempting to get a clue as to where she was in this massive city. Eventually he found an article about new students at Julliard that contained her name. ‘Of course, she’s at Julliard’ he thought memories of her making a fool of him with a particular Chopin piece.

He took the subway there straight away. He didn’t know if she even had classes that day, but figured it was worth a shot, and if he couldn’t find her, he’d try again tomorrow.

Sophie was just leaving her class when she saw him sitting on the stairs by the fountain. Her heart started to race in a way that only Keith could spark in her as she slowly approached him. She was still angry with him, and was confused because despite her realization that he was likely a cheating bastard, she still loved him.

“Sophie” he said when he finally noticed her, standing so that they were eye to eye.

“Hi Keith” she replied. They stood there, taking the other in properly this time, with no unwanted observers around.

They both unknowingly shifted closer to each other, their bodies admitting what they couldn’t.

“I came to see you, I… I don’t like how we left everything last night and years ago” Keith admitted.

“Your girlfriend is quite pretty, how does Megan feel about her” Sophie asked, trying to sound indifferent, but her words came out with more bite than she intended.

Keith looked taken aback at her words. “Megan and I have been divorced for a year, but we separated soon after… soon after you left” he said.

Sophie instantly felt ashamed at her jealously and her unfounded anger at him. ‘You knew he wasn’t that kind of guy’ her mind told her. And she was right, Sophie had known him so well all those years ago, and she had loved every bit of him.

“Oh, I’m sorry” Sophie said, for both her reaction and for her role in his divorce.

“It was inevitable” was all Keith said in reply. ‘Was she just jealous?’ he thought.

“What did you want to talk about?” Sophie asked, trying to squash her hope that he would take her into his arms and kiss her senseless. ‘He may not be married, but he’s taken’ she thought.

“Are you free right now, do you want to go for a walk?”

“Yeah, that was my last class of the day” she said, trying to read him to figure out where this conversation was going.

“Great” he said, reaching his arm out to silently ask if he could carry her bag, and taking it before he started to walk towards the park, Sophie right next to him.

Chapter Text

They were mostly silent on the way to the park. They had both missed the other so much, but were still unsure if their feelings were reciprocated.

The sun was tinted orange and red as it peaked through the fall leaves that towered over them as they walked.

“How are you liking your classes?” Keith asked, breaking the silence with a safe topic.

They discussed trivial things for a while before taking a seat on a park bench watching the other New Yorkers move around the park.

“Keith, what did you really want to talk about” Sophie asked, finally gaining the courage to ask what she’d been dying to the entire time.

“I don’t know” he said simply, breaking their eye contact to look down at his lap. “I just really wanted to see you again” he confessed, making Sophie’s heart feel like it would drop out of her chest.

‘Could he really feel that way after all this time?’ Sophie thought to herself, finally allowing a little bit of that hope creep back into consciousness.

“I feel horrible about leaving” Sophie said, referring to her sudden departure back to the UK.

“Don’t. Family is always a top priority, it trumps everything” Keith said honestly. He never held it against her for leaving to take care of her aunt. If anything, it made him love her even more.

“We never even got to say goodbye” Sophie said, tears coming to her eyes as she thought back to that day.

“Yeah, that was kind of horrible” Keith said, getting a pensive look in his eyes. “I knew what you would’ve said though. And I’ve been telling myself that you knew what I would’ve said too.”

“What would you have said?”

“If it was just the two of us?” Keith asked and Sophie nodded. Keith took a deep breath trying to summon some courage. ‘You’ve got nothing to lose’ he thought. “I would’ve told you that I was madly in love with you, and that I was going to miss you more than I thought possible. I would’ve told you that the months we spent together were some of the best of my life and that I would…I would wait for you for however long you needed” he said, looking up to meet her teary eyes, pouring his entire soul into his words and gaze, begging her to see his sincerity.

“Do you really mean it?” Sophie asked him, processing his words. ‘Does this mean he still loves me?’ she thought, her mind racing nearly as fast as her heart. Keith nodded. Sophie held his gaze and spoke again. “Well, I would’ve told you that you were the love of my life and that I would come back as soon as I could so that we could be together.”

‘I’m the love of her life’ he thought, tears of joy coming to his eyes as he realized that his feelings were not unreciprocated. “Do you still feel that way?” he asked nervously, his voice nearly catching in his throat.

Sophie didn’t answer him, but instead leaned forward calmly and gently pressed her lips to his.

‘God, this is what I’ve been waiting for’ he thought before his mind went blank at the overwhelming feeling of her lips finally meeting his after too long apart. Sophie was over the moon. His lips felt even better than she remembered. When he slipped his tongue out to meet her lips, she granted him access immediately and completely lost her train of thought.

The two of them kissed for an eternity, as though they were making up for over 2 years of missed opportunities. When they eventually broke apart, they found each other’s gaze and shared the widest pair of grins imaginable.

Keith moved his hand to find hers and give it a reassuring squeeze. “I’m so in love with you” he said smiling softly at her, and baring the entirety of his soul in his eyes.

“I’m so in love with you too” Sophie replied, and it was the easiest thing she had ever said.

“I have to do something before we do anything else though” Keith said, thinking of Addison.

Sophie followed his train of thought and nodded, agreeing with him. “No more hiding” she said.

“Never again” he said, giving her a tender kiss on her temple. “I’ll walk you back, and then I’ll go have a talk with Addison” he said, standing up from their park bench.

“Alright” Sophie said, following him up from the bench.

“Do you have plans tomorrow night?” he asked as they started their walk back to her dorm.

“Not after 5 o’clock” she said, grabbing his hand and threading their fingers together. She’d forgotten how well their hands fit together.

“Great, I’ll pick you up at 5” Keith said, giving her that cocky grin she loved so much as they walked into the fading light of the sun.