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Made of steel (made of s.., p.25
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.25

           Ivy Smoak
slower 1  faster

  Chapter 21


  "Do you want to grab some lunch?" Eli asked as we made our way out of the classroom. He grabbed my hand as we stepped outside.

  I immediately intertwined my fingers with his. I loved hanging out with Eli, but I was itching to do more research about the vigilante. "I'm not super hungry..."

  "Or we could take that nap instead." He smiled down at me.

  "Are you really that tired? I was the one up all night, not you."

  "I have 8 a.m. classes, unlike some people."

  "Well, how about you take a nap and I do some more research for our project? I'm really excited about what I found. I think we can spin this into a really in-depth study about his psyche."

  "Maybe I should have picked a topic that was a little less exciting. I'm starting to think you like him more than you like me."

  I couldn't possibly when Eli's smile was so endearing. "Yeah, I don't think that's possible."

  "Well, that's good to know. I guess I should let you get back to work then."

  I had gotten lost in his eyes. I hadn't even realized that we had stopped in front of my dorm room. "You can come up if you want. You can nap and I can work." I immediately felt awkward and nervous about asking him up to my room again. I wasn't going to sleep with him or anything. He knew that, right?

  "Are you sure? I can just head back to my place to get a few hours of sleep. We can meet up later."

  "No, it's fine. I have work at the diner again later, so I won't be able to see you until after otherwise. You should take a nap so I can keep you up late again." Why was everything coming out of my mouth laced with sexual undertones?

  He smiled. "I'd rather be tired than not get to see you."

  "Exactly. So, come on." I pulled him toward the doors of my dorm building. I waved the fob against the reader and the doors clicked open. I had this weird feeling that I was breaking the rules by allowing a stranger into my dorm. But Eli wasn't a stranger.

  We stepped onto the elevator.

  "Is your bed as uncomfortable as mine?" he asked.

  "Are you kidding? It's the most comfortable bed I've slept on in years." That was the truth. I had slept on a couch for the better part of high school. It definitely wasn't the bed here that was causing my insomnia. It was my mind refusing to stop.

  He laughed. "Wait, seriously? Didn't you say you had a nanny growing up? I kind of pictured you with a huge king sized bed with pillows everywhere. Did your parents make you sleep on the floor or something?"

  I suddenly understood the back story for the new identity Mr. Crawford had given me. He had given me a nanny and said my parents worked all the time because I was rich. My bank account proved that. I bit my lip. "I was just kidding. The beds here are the freaking worst."

  "I know. It's like sleeping on concrete." He smiled.

  I was starting to think the longer I hung out with someone, the harder it was going to be to maintain my identity. But it was worth the extra effort of being careful. I really liked Eli. I just had to watch what came out of my mouth.

  We stepped off the elevator and onto my floor. "My room is right down there." We were still holding hands. The closer we got to my room, the more nervous I got. He was probably reading into this. Was I reading into it? Did I want more? I didn't think I could handle more right now.

  I took out my key and unlocked my door. Part of me wished that Kins would be in the room, even though I knew she had class. Another part of me wanted us to be alone.

  "Is blue your favorite color?" Eli asked as he stepped into the room.

  "How did you know which bed was mine?"

  "The fact that you haven't taken off that blue hoodie since we've met was a clue. But I also can't picture you wearing any neon colors." He pointed to the wild neon patterns on Kins' bedspread. He kicked off his shoes. There wasn't anything about the way he was acting that made it seem like he felt uncomfortable. "Plus, I know how much you like the sky."

  "You're right. Blue is definitely my favorite color."

  He smiled as he sat down on the edge of the bed. "You're sure it's okay if I just take a nap? I feel like I should be helping you do research."

  "No, it's fine."

  "Okay." He pulled out the iPod from his shirt pocket and his phone from the front pocket of his jeans and set them on the stand by my bed. "Are you sure you don't want to join me?" There was this hopeful hint in his voice. But it wasn't pushy. I had wanted him to ask, even though I knew I wasn't going to say yes.

  "I should really focus."

  He nodded and lay down on the top of my bed, without crawling under the sheets. "Your bed is just as uncomfortable as mine."

  I laughed and opened up my laptop. No matter how hard I tried, though, I couldn't concentrate on the research at all. I was listening to his breathing. It was getting slower and steadier. The sound of it calmed me. I looked up from my computer. He was lying on his side with his eyes closed.

  I told my mind to go to hell as I stood up. I wanted to be wrapped in his arms. I kicked off my shoes and slowly climbed onto the bed. He didn't seem to notice until I rested my head on his outstretched arm.


  It was the tiniest noise. I wasn't even sure he consciously made it. But I loved that sound. I moved a little closer to him and closed my eyes. This was the feeling I had been searching for my whole life. He made me feel like I was finally safe.

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