String notes drifted from her kitchen and echoed off the walls as Conrad walked down the corridor still rubbing remnants of sleep from his eyes. He willingly followed the trail of both song and singing voice, which seemed to be calling like a siren, a tempting call that he could no longer ignore.
I'm tingling right from my head to my toes, so help me, help me, help me make the feeling go
The scent of food and freshly made coffee, rich and sweet, enveloped him in a familiar sense of comfort once he reached the open space of the kitchen. And in spite of the sudden rumble in his stomach, the sight of her made him stop abruptly and lean against the nearby wall, entirely amazed.
There she was, with her back turned to him, smartly pouring batter into small round shapes on a pan, while music flowed from the cellphone. As the batter sizzled on the stove, and the air grew thicker with its sweet smell, her voice never wavered. To his surprise, Nic sang soft and clear, not entirely off-key. Conrad realized then he had not heard her really sing before, only the occasional broken lines muffled by the shower spray or humming along with the radio on the car, but never in complete abandon like this.
Clearly encouraged by the sense of being alone, Nic allowed her body to move freely to the beat of the song, while her voice carried the lyrics high up in the air. His eyes followed the sway of her hips, barely covered by the shirt she wore, his shirt, and then traveled down the long expanse of bare legs. The sight evoked vivid images from just a few hours ago, when he spent a luxurious amount of time caressing that creamy skin and committing to memory again the outline of her body. His heart beat fast once more, despite the remaining exhaustion of a night well spent, but he did not move to fulfill the desire that began rushing in his veins. Instead, he remained silent against the wall, watching her from a distance, not wanting to interrupt that rare moment.
Cause when the loving starts, and the lights go down and there's not another living soul around
Conrad enjoyed seeing her like that, away from the constraints and gravity of the hospital, as the weight of being a caregiver, which she carried heavily on her shoulders, was forgotten even if only for a brief moment in time.
You woo me until the sun comes up and you say that you love me
He did not recognize the song at all, even with the distinct guitar sounds of several decades ago, but the lyrics were clear enough. There was an easy smile as she sang, along with a sincerity that radiated from her whole body, which caught him entirely by surprise. It was plain obvious that they were falling deeper with each passing day, and even though the sentiment was woven all over lingering looks, tender touches and passionate kisses, neither had materialized their feelings into words yet.
Nic was far more skilled with emotions than he was, and still, she seemed reluctant to be the first to say how she felt about him. A few times he had wondered if she did not feel the same way, or if perhaps she was afraid of not being corresponded. Neither were true, for everyday he showed how much he cared, if not in words at least in actions. But how could she know for sure when he was unable to tell her?
Conrad always felt uncomfortable with the idea of revealing his feelings completely. Even long before Nic, those words had not been spoken frequently, the verbal expression of his emotions never came easily. But once or twice in the few months they had been together, he whispered them tentatively into her ear, as Nic slept snuggled against his chest, completely unaware of the tenderness that captured his heart like never before, or the struggle to admit it.
Say you love me, say you love me
Her voice rose in the air as the song entered the final melody, effectively bringing his full attention back to her. It was then that Nic used the spatula in her hand as a microphone and the sudden movement of her head to the beat released a few more strands of blond hair from the messy bun.
The vision was both silly and endearing to such an extent that Conrad struggled to contain the laughter that rumbled in his chest. And just like that, the words were right at the tip of his tongue again, begging to be said out loud without fear.
With mind fully aligned with heart at last, he finally moved towards her. His arms circled her waist from behind and she jerked abruptly out of surprise, song interrupted mid-sentence. Conrad buried his face on her neck, her own scent more tempting than any other, and allowed his lips to design a random pattern of kisses on the skin there.
"I love you." he whispered, the words coming out clear and effortlessly this time.
He felt Nic tense in his arms momentarily. There was a breath trapped in her chest along with an internal dialogue he was not private to. Conrad did not move, his lips remained motionless where they landed last until she eventually relaxed in his embrace and looked over her shoulder.
“That’s the first time you say it when I’m not falling asleep.” Nic said casually, though her eyes were brilliant with barely contained humor.
“You heard it?” he asked surprised.
She only nodded, smiling widely at him. "I love you too."