This was one of the few times Ellie felt completely out of place and awkward in her life.
She had ridden alone with Mr. Kenway in his car before, but this time was way more awkward. He had at least talked to her the other times she did. Now, the silence was just plain weird.
They were heading down to Connor’s first home game of the season and Ellie’s poor bug broke down a few days before, which led to her reaching out to Mr. Kenway for a ride until it got fixed.
He seemed tense, for some odd reason.
“Is everything alright, Miss Johnston?” he suddenly asked, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.
Ellie jumped a little before managing to put a smile on her face. “Y-yeah! Everything’s okay.”
“Uh, yeah?” Ellie was confused. What did he mean by that? Did he think she should have a reason to not be okay?
“I just heard that you have just made a huge decision. Connor was going mental when he did.”
“So you expected me to be the same way?” Ellie laughed, thinking about how much Connor worried when he was choosing a school.
“Nah, you don’t have to worry about me Mr. Kenway. I got it all sorted out. I’m going to talk to the track coach before the game actually.”
“So that’s why you wanted to come early?”
Mr. Kenway grinned and focused fully on the road again. Despite the light hearted conversation, he still seemed tense.
They finally made it to the campus and Mr. Kenway dropped her off in front of the building the track coach’s office was in. “I’ll wait out here. Take your time,” he said, opening the door for her.
“Thanks, I’ll try not to take too long,” she replied with a grateful grin.
He waved it off and got back into the car as Ellie walked toward the building.
“Here goes,” she whispered, walking inside.
It was the bottom of the last inning and Connor’s hands were almost trembling as he stood on deck. They were behind one run and Saint Rose had one runner on third and there was one out. The whole game depended on Jack’s hitting and Connor’s at-bat.
Connor had played the whole second game and his nerves were shot. They barely scraped by the first game and everyone was snappy and on edge the second game.
Deciding not to think about that, Connor focused on what he was going to do and only on what he was going to do.
His heart rate wouldn’t go down, though.
A soft, bell like laugh happened to reach his ears over the sound of the small crowd, and he couldn’t help but sneak a glance over at Ellie.
He watched her talk to Myriam for a few moments and found himself relaxing while doing so. She finally looked at him and she gave him a beaming grin with a thumbs up. He couldn’t help but grin back before he focused on the game again.
The umpire called ‘strike three’ and Connor’s heart sunk. Now there were two outs with the tying run on third, and he was up to bat.
He took a deep breath and approached the box. He cleared his mind and raised his bat, staring down the pitcher. I’m not going to let you win, he growled to himself, tightening his grip on the bat.
He kept repeating the mantra even after 5 pitches.
Connor honestly hated full counts, but the pressure helped him hit better. Time seemed to slow down as the ball left the pitcher’s fingertips. The ball slowly rotated through the air and Connor didn’t hold back. He swung as hard as he could and felt a surge of satisfaction when he felt the ball connect with the bat.
He took off at a dead sprint toward 1st and didn’t even wait for his coach to tell him to go to 2nd. Rounding the base, he looked up with a grin to see that the tying run had scored.
He searched the crowd for Ellie again as he stood on 2nd, waiting for the next batter.
Connor’s eyes met hers and his heart started to thud in his chest when he saw how happy she was.
Damn, he was lucky.
Ellie stood near Saint Rose’s dugout with Myriam, patiently waiting for Connor. Rocking back on her heels, she glanced over at Mr. Kenway, who was leaning up against the chain link fence nearby.
“I still can’t believe that’s his dad! Dads aren’t supposed to be attractive,” Myriam sarcastically commented, playfully elbowing Ellie.
“Connor got it from somewhere I guess. His mom was pretty too,” Ellie mused aloud, giving Myriam a teasing look.
Connor finally walked out of the dugout and Ellie didn’t hesitate to run up and give him a huge hug. Normally, the dirt and sweat would have bothered her, but she couldn’t find the gumption to care at the moment.
She ignored the wolf whistles from some of the other boys and gave him a peck. “You were great,” she whispered in his ear before stepping away.
He cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck with a small grin. “Nia:wen.” Then, he surprised her by wrapping his arms around her. “I can’t tell you how happy I was to hear you decided to come here next year.”
Ellie looked up at him with wide eyes before grinning from ear to ear. “Well, someone has to help you keep Desmond in line,” she teased.
“Hey! I heard that!”
Ellie looked to see that Desmond just walked out of the dugout with a broad grin.
“And I can keep myself in line thank you very much,” he declared, walking past the couple toward the parking lot.
The soft, breathy chuckle Ellie loved so much reached her ears and she looked back up at her boyfriend. She stepped away and reached for his hand. “I have other good news.”
“And that is?” he asked, walking toward his dad with her.
“I talked to one of the track coaches before the game.”
Connor halted in his tracks and looked down at her. “What did they say?”
“He said that he would come to the state track meet. So, if I make it there again, I might have a chance to get a scholarship here.”
He wrapped an arm around her shoulders and squeezed. “You’ll get it. I know you will.”
They eventually made it over to Mr. Kenway. “I take it you told him the good news?” Mr. Kenway asked, stepping away from the fence he was leaning on.
“She did,” Connor answered.
“Well, now that’s out of the way. May I borrow him for a moment, Miss Johnston?”
Ellie glanced at both of them before shrugging. “Of course. I’ll be by the car.”
She wondered if this conversation was the reason why Mr. Kenway was tense the whole ride down.
Connor had to literally force himself to look away from Ellie. He missed her more than he thought he did.
But, there was something in his father’s tone that suggested no distractions.
“I…” Haytham cleared his throat. “I spoke with your grandmother.”
“Grandma Tessa? How is she? Is she okay?”
Worry started to fill Connor. Tessa had not been given good results from her last hospital visit and it left everyone on edge around Christmas. Her femur was getting weaker, despite the fact that it healed from her last fall. Connor refused to let her pick up anything when they visited their house.
“She’s fine. I was talking about your other grandmother.”
Connor’s eyes widened. “You…talked to Ahkso? Why?”
Haytham sighed, tucking his hands in his jacket pocket. “Well, you suggested it at some point and I didn’t want to be a coward. And I thought it would give me some closure.”
Connor set his bat bag down and leaned against the fence. “What did you guys talk about?”
“Well, she told me I was an idiot. Nothing new there.”
Connor couldn’t help but grin. “Anything else?”
“We talked about you and your mother.”
Connor knew that he wasn’t going to get a lot of details with the short answers he was getting. “I’m glad you did that.” He paused and considered a different topic. “How is Grandma Tessa?”
“She’s doing well. Sorry to worry you for a moment.” Haytham glanced toward the parking lot and tilted his head toward it. “Let’s go. I don’t want to cut into your Girlfriend time. Not that you won’t get an infinite amount of that next year.”
Connor pushed away from the fence with an eye roll. “Doesn’t mean I don’t want it.”
Haytham chuckled. “You say that now…”
Connor ignored him and picked up his bag. “Whatever.”
“What did I tell you about saying-“
Connor made his getaway before Haytham could say another word.
He was determined to get some ‘Ellie Time’ before they had to leave.
Graduation managed to sneak up on Ellie and before she knew it, she was walking across the stage at Saratoga High School. She made it back to her seat with a small sigh of relief. It was over. High school was finally over.
She scanned the crowd for what seemed like the umpteenth time. She knew Connor was here, she saw him in the crowd at some point, but she couldn’t seem to find him again. The ceremony seemed to drag on after that and Ellie had never felt more impatient in her entire life.
When the ceremony finally ended, she didn’t hesitate to get out of the auditorium and out into the open. She looked around the crowd for any familiar face and almost grumbled when she couldn’t find any.
Ellie squeaked and looked over her shoulder in shock.
Connor was standing right behind her with a bouquet in his hands. “Congratulations,” he said softly, holding them out awkwardly.
Ellie’s heart flopped around in her chest at the action. He was too adorable sometimes. She took the bouquet, which happened to be a bunch of tulips, and smiled up at him. “Thank you.” She reached up on the very tips of her toes to give him a peck on the cheek.
“What do you want to do after my graduation party?” she asked, reaching for his hand.
Connor shrugged. “I’ll do whatever you want to do.”
Ellie pouted a little. She had no idea what she wanted to do. Claudia was still in Texas and wouldn’t be back for another week and Desmond was on a trip with his parents and she knew they wouldn’t be able to go out to eat or anything due to the graduation crowd.
There was only one thing left to do. “Lake trip?”
The grin on Connor’s face was her answer. Peter and Eliza finally found them and they mingled for a while before piling into Peter’s truck.
“So, what are you kids doing after the party?” Eliza asked, beaming back at them.
“We were thinking about going to the lake,” Ellie answered, twining her fingers with Connor’s.
“And doing what?”
“Just hanging out. We shouldn’t be gone for long,” Connor answered with a grin.
Eliza smiled back and faced forward again. Ellie stared up at Connor in wonder. She never got out of a question session with Eliza that fast. Connor was able to get out of question sessions with record speed though.
The party also dragged on, since it was mostly Peter and Eliza’s friends, the rest of the Auditores, and some people from their church, Ellie didn’t have too many people to talk to once the Auditores left.
Everyone finally left and Connor and Ellie were on their way right after they cleaned everything up.
The lake was surprisingly quiet and Ellie was pleased to find that she and Connor were the only ones at the park they picked.
They walked hand in hand along the shoreline and Ellie couldn’t remember a time she was this at ease. Everything was just…good.
“Ahkso keeps asking when I’m going to bring you down again…and my grandparents want us to come up to their cabin this summer. I didn’t even know they had a cabin,” Connor finally said.
“They have a cabin? That sounds fun. And I’ll see what my schedule at the pool is this summer and we can plan a trip to the Rez.”
Ellie had managed to get a lifeguarding job this summer and she honestly was excited. The only downside was that she couldn’t spend as much time with her friends and Connor.
“Okay, I’ll tell them you’re interested.”
They stayed out on the beach until the sun set before reluctantly walking back to the mustang. Ellie glanced up at Connor as they walked and her breath hitched in her throat. The setting sunlight was hitting his eyes just right, causing them to look like an amber color more than brown.
Her eyes trailed down the broad, rugged lines of his face and she literally felt a deep ache inside her when they finally reached his lips. It had been a while since she let him steal a base…she wondered if he would want to right now.
Connor unlocked the car and gave her a questioning look when she didn’t get in the passenger seat right away. “Is everything okay?”
“Get in the back.”
“Get in the back,” Ellie ordered again, nonchalantly walking toward the car. She opened the back door and calmly got inside. She leaned out when he didn’t automatically get in and she gave him a ‘come hither’ motion.
Thankfully, he got the hint and basically dove in behind her, shutting the door quickly.
Ellie immediately climbed into his lap and pressed a hard kiss to his lips, placing her hands on either side of his neck. She started to press kisses all over his face and the deep ache from before settled in her stomach as he ran his hands up her sides.
His fingers started to trace the small amount of skin that was exposed above her shorts. Ellie arched into him when his fingertips started to slip underneath the fabric of her tank top. Ellie trailed her lips down his neck, sucking a little when she neared his collarbone. A small hiss and his hands clamping down on her waist only caused her to suck harder.
Ellie moved her lips up his neck again and lightly bit his earlobe.
She squeaked when his hands suddenly moved down to her rear. He stiffened and Ellie dug her fingers into his hair, silently telling him that it was okay.
Ellie moved her lips back to his and darted her tongue out, hoping he would reciprocate.
Connor was never one to disappoint. The kiss was slow and tender. Ellie kept one hand on the back of his head while the other trailed down his chest, earning her a small groan from him.
His grip on her rear tightened and Ellie let out a small whimper when the action caused her to press against him more. Her heart rate quickened when she realized that she was pressing herself against his groin. Well, at least she knew he was enjoying this.
Connor suddenly broke the kiss and leaned back in the seat as far as he could, looking away. His hands went to his side and she could see his Adam’s apple bob in his throat as he swallowed heavily.
“Hey, what’s wrong?” Ellie asked, bringing both of her hands up to his neck again. She ran her thumbs over his jawline, hoping that the touch helped a little.
“I...it’s nothing,” he mumbled, still avoiding her gaze.
Ellie gave him a bewildered look before she realized why he would be embarrassed. Connor was a guy after all and guys reacted to stuff like this.
“Hey, it’s nothing to be ashamed of…especially when we’re making out silly,” Ellie tried to say lightheartedly. She knew he got embarrassed easily, and extra teasing was probably not the best remedy right now.
Connor sighed and finally looked at her again. “I just know that it’s offensive sometimes and-“
Ellie quickly placed a finger on his lips with an amused grin. “Okay, first, it’s only offensive if you are crass about it to a random girl. And second, I would be kind of worried if…well, you didn’t react while doing this.”
His eyes widened and Ellie thought he looked adorable as his blush darkened. Deciding to show him that she meant what she said, she slowly sat up straight and gave an experimental roll with her hips.
It felt as if an electric shock went through her with the action, and the heavy gasp Connor let out gave her the idea that he felt something similar.
Ellie let out a long sigh and she rolled her hips again, leaning down and capturing Connor’s lips in a sloppy kiss.
His hands slowly made their way up her sides and Ellie let out a soft moan when his thumbs brushed against the sides of her breasts. She arched against him, hoping he could take a hint.
The deep ache from before was becoming an inferno, and Ellie needed more than what she was receiving.
He suddenly grabbed her hips and stopped her movement, resting his forehead against her collarbone. Ellie suddenly realized that he was breathing heavily and that he was trembling a little. She rested her hands on the back of his head, gently running her fingers through his hair.
“You okay?” she whispered, pressing her lips to the top of his head.
He let out a strangled, “Yes.” He lifted his head and continued, “I just…I was…uh.”
Now he was super embarrassed and Ellie realized why. She rested her forehead against his with an apologetic glance. “Sorry.”
“Don’t be!” he quickly said, sitting up straight.
“It felt good…I just didn’t want to-“
“Okay, you don’t have to say it,” Ellie giggled, twirling some of his hair around her fingers.
An awkward silence suddenly came over them. Ellie looked down and realized that the reason why they stopped was still there.
Ellie would be lying if she said she didn’t wonder how big Connor was sometimes. It was purely mere curiosity most of the time when she thought about it.
Biting her lip, she mentally prepared herself for the next step, if there was going to be one. She slowly pushed herself back so that she was sitting on the middle of his thighs. “Do you-” she paused and cleared her throat, “Do you want help with that?”
Connor’s eyes widened almost comically and his whole body tensed underneath her. “What?”
Ellie took a deep breath. Okay, she read some romance novels in her time and she was able to get plenty of information about sex from other sources besides her foster parents. She could do this.
Slowly, she reached for the waistband of his jeans and ran her fingertips over them, giving him a questioning look. She tried to stop the trembling in her hands when her fingertips traced the button of his jeans.
His hands suddenly grabbed hers and her eyes met his. “Ellie, you don’t have to do this. I don’t expect anything and-“
Ellie had to stop herself from beaming. Goodness, this boy was something else. She gently pulled her hands away from his and rested them on his neck again. “Connor, I want to make you feel good. I want to do this, and I completely understand if you don’t want me to,” she whispered, giving him a small grin.
Connor’s worry over her gave her confidence for some reason and she was even more certain that she wanted to do this now.
She could see the conflict in his eyes and the blush on his cheeks was slowly spreading up to the tips of his ears.
It was now almost completely dark in the car and the streetlamp nearby was their only source of light.
Ellie knew that both she and Connor could get in major trouble if they got caught, but she couldn’t find it in herself to care at the moment.
“Tell me if you want to stop at any point, okay?” he finally whispered, giving her a serious look.
Having been granted his permission, Ellie took a deep breath and moved her hands to his jeans’ button again. Her fingers shook a little as she worked it free and her heart started to thunder in her chest as she pulled the zipper down.
She gently ran her fingertips over his still clothed erection and she instantly stilled when a soft grunt came from Connor’s lips.
Ellie looked up and her heart pounded in her chest even more. She was so nervous; she never really thought about touching Connor like this until now. She soon realized that the soft sounds escaping him were not ones of discomfort and she suddenly realized that she wanted to hear more of them.
With renewed confidence, she slowly started to change her soft touches to more firm strokes.
“Oh God,” Connor breathed out, resting his head back against the headrest.
Those small words were enough to give her to confidence to slip her fingers past the front opening in his boxers and free him from its restraints.
She leaned forward and captured his gasp with her lips, taking advantage of the moment to slip her tongue between his lips.
Connor was softer than she imagined he would be, and she almost stopped kissing him to see what he looked like. His hips slowly bucked up when she gently wrapped her fingers around his shaft
That was when Ellie realized she had absolutely no idea what she was doing. She pulled away, biting her lip. “C-Connor?”
“I-I don’t know what to do,” she whispered. She had never felt more mortified. She knew about the pumping stuff, but what else do boys like? She had no idea.
“Y-you can stop if you-“
Ellie gently squeezed to get him to shut up. Her mortification was kicked out of her head and she took a deep breath before moving her hand up and down.
She squeaked in surprise when Connor pulled her forward for another kiss. Ellie braced her other hand on his hip and decided to just stop thinking so much. Connor was acting like he was enjoying it and that was the only reassurance she needed.
Connor’s hips were starting to buck up with her movements and he pulled away to let out a heavy groan.
The deep, fiery ache that Ellie felt before was now back tenfold at the sound. She quickened her pace and let out a small whimper of her own when he suddenly latched onto her neck as he buried his fingers into her hair.
She could get used to this aggressive side he was showing.
Unknowingly, she pressed her thumb against his tip and her only warning was him choking out her name in her ear.
His hips jerked sporadically and Ellie looked down as a warm, sticky fluid covered her hand.
Their eyes met and Ellie felt a small rush of pride to see how relaxed he looked. Connor wiped away a bead of sweat that was starting to run down her cheek with his thumb and Ellie’s heart fluttered at the adoration she saw in his gaze.
He gently wrapped one arm around her while reaching for the middle console with the other.
“Sorry,” he mumbled, as he pulled some napkins out of it. He got them both cleaned up in what seemed like record time before tucking himself back into his jeans. He looked up at her again with a bashful look before pressing a long, tender kiss to her lips.
“Did I do okay?” she asked, looking away bashfully. Ellie just realized what she did now that she was down from her Connor induced high. She never, ever, thought she would have the courage to do what she just did.
Connor’s arms tightened around her and she squeaked when he pulled her flush against him and pressed small, light kisses all over her face. “You were perfect,” he whispered in between kisses.
Ellie’s heart swelled at his words and she kissed him back. “That’s good. I thought I did hor-“
“Don’t even say it. You’re perfect,” he mumbled, nuzzling into her neck.
Ellie wondered why she was so nervous in the first place.
Connor was in a huge dilemma all summer.
He knew he cared about Ellie more than he cared about almost anyone else, but he had no idea how to tell her that.
He finally put a word with the feeling he felt whenever he was around her; whether it was just hanging out, talking, or even just holding her hand, Connor’s heart always swelled a little.
Connor finally admitted that he loved her to himself and he had no idea what to do about it.
Another dilemma was that he had absolutely no one to talk to about this without the risk of getting ridiculed in the process.
Desmond? Not a chance.
Achilles? No, the old man would probably give him a cryptic answer that involved a life lesson Connor was not interested in learning.
Connor groaned from his spot on the back porch steps. Haytham might honestly be his best chance in all of this. He honestly didn’t know how to bring it up to his father. What would one say in that situation? “Hey I want to tell Ellie I love her, how should I do it?” he grumbled snarkily to himself.
“What was that?”
Connor stiffened and whipped his head around to see Haytham standing at the threshold of the sliding glass door.
“I was going to tell you that dinner was ready, but you obviously have other problems,” Haytham said, turning to go back inside.
“Wait…can we talk for a second?”
Well, he might as well get it out now while he had a little courage.
Haytham groaned a little as he sat down on the steps next to Connor. “And what do you want to talk about exactly?” he asked, resting his forearms on his knees.
Connor sighed and looked down at his feet, resting his elbows on his knees before perching his chin on his hands. “How did you tell Ista you loved her?”
A small choking noise came from Haytham, causing Connor to glance over in worry. “Why in the bloody hell do you want to know that?”
“Because I want to tell Ellie that, okay?!” Connor snapped. There went his plan of being subtle.
Haytham stared at him for a moment before smirking and running his fingers through his hair. “You just do it when it feels right. I didn’t plan to tell your mother when I did. It just happened.”
Connor stared at him for what seemed like years. “Seriously? I thought it was a big deal.”
Connor sighed and buried his face in his arms. He was hopeless.
Haytham patted his shoulder before standing up. “I told her I loved her when I was walking her home from a date,” he said quietly.
Connor looked up to stare at Haytham in shock, but the sliding glass door was already closing when he did.