He felt her lashes flutter, felt a warm puff of breath break the steady pattern she'd kept up the last hour. She was awake. Gabe pressed his lips to her hair.
Three o'clock in the morning. The occasional auto-buggy could be heard passing by on the street below, but otherwise, Gabe had found that three o'clock in the morning was the quietest that London got. It was that kind of quiet. The kind of quiet where he could actually hear the faint inhale and exhale of Annaleigh's breathing, could hear the brush of his fingertips against her skin as he traced patterns on her back. The air was cool in his loft, but he was warm with her half sprawled on top of him, and the blanket pooled at their hips. She was soft and warm, and his.
He pressed his palm flat against her skin and smoothed down, but couldn't go any further than the small of her back; his arm was trapped beneath her, and his shoulder was currently her pillow. Gabe didn't mind. He just smoothed his hand back up, fingertips dancing another patternless dance.
"Hmm?" He opened his eyes and could see her looking at him. The light coming in the window from the lamp post across the street illuminated the room enough that he could see her expression, brows furrowed ever so slightly.
"Do you do this with the other girls?"
The question was unexpected and he didn't answer immediately. They'd been it for each other for as long as he could remember. But knowing that at eight years old when she'd given him a shiner for an introduction, and eleven years old when they'd sorted into Slytherin together, and fourteen when they'd first kissed each other, and sixteen when they slept together the first time ... it was all just too early. They were both restless and reckless, thirsty for experiences. They both did what they want with as many other people as they cared to spend time with.
That didn't mean any of those people mattered. They hadn't ever spoken of it directly, but ... whenever he was ready, or she was ready, it'd just be them. No one else. He thought she knew that.
Gabe held her gaze, saw the hesitation there. She didn't show that kind of vulnerability very often.
But it was three o'clock in the morning and the quiet stillness was like a moment completely out of time and space.
"What girls?" There were no other girls. Only her.
Annaleigh's eyes warmed, and when she leaned toward him, his lips met hers halfway.