( For his brother’s friend …. 😇 )
Written by:- Williams Kendall____✍🏽
🏈 CHAPTER TEN🏈
“Archer?” I asked as I pulled the door open partially to peak out. He stood in the hallway with his fist still raised, ready to bang it against the door. When he saw me his face broke into a slow grin as he slumped forward against the doorframe. His chest invaded my space and I had to pull back slightly to look up at his face.
“Hey,” he said with a smile I had never seen on Archer before. His ‘smile’ was normally more smirk or snark than true happiness. But this was different. As I inspected his face closer I noticed his pupils were large, and the tension that normally resided in his jaw had left.
“Archer… are you drunk?” I asked hesitantly.
“Whaaaaat? Me? No way,” he said with another smile. It reminded me of the smiles Oliver gave me when he had a secret he wouldn’t share.
“Mhm. Sure. So, what are you doing here?”
“Well, aren’t you going to invite me in?” I hesitated for a moment. Was I? Curiosity about what he wanted flooded my mind, but he was drunk and not acting like himself. I stared into his eyes for a moment, as if I could find my answers there. He gazed back at me with both eyebrows raised, waiting for my answer. Just as I took a shaky breath to answer, he slowly stuck out his lower l-ip into a pout and I burst into laughter.
“Okay come in,” I chuckled with a shake of my head as I pulled the door open wider. He strode past me confidently with a proud smile as though he had just won an award. The door to my b£droom was still open, and he bee-lined it right in there with me trailing after him.
When I walked through the door I stopped as he flopped down on my b£d and tried to get comfortable against the headboard. In contrast to his size, my room looked like it was meant for a doll. Even sitting up, his feet almost reached the end of my b£d and if he reached his arm out I think he’d be able to touch my closet.
“Your b£d is too small,” he whined as he shifted his bum around.
“No, you’re just too big,” I rolled my eyes from my spot at the door. My voice pulled his attention back to me and his eyes darkened as he dropped his gaze down my body. Why was he angry? Looking down I realized that I was wearing his hoodie still.
“Oh shoot. Archer I-I’m sorry. I should have given this b-back…” I stuttered as I crossed the room to stand in front of the b£d.
“No!” he said somewhat aggressively making my eyebrows snap up. “I mean… keep it. I never wear it anyways.”
“But isn’t this your team hoodie?” I asked as I tilted my head.
“Yeah, I don’t need to advertise that I know those f-cks,” he said dramatically as he dropped his head back, extending his strong chin to the roof. My brain went fuzzy for a moment as my gaze locked on his jawline. It was impressively sharp, making my mouth water as I gulped.
Glancing back at me, Archer reached out and grabb£d my hand to pull me down. There wasn’t much room but I managed to tuck my bum on the edge so I could sit facing him. Nerves prickled my skin as I tried to make myself comfortable. This was entirely new territory for me. Having a man in my b£d—especially Archer—at such close quarters was intoxicating.
“So… why are you here again?” I asked softly as I tried to hold onto my composure. He let out a sigh as he stared at our hands that were still intertwined. Bringing his other hand over, he fiddled with my f-ngers as though he was nervous. Concern outweighed anxiety as I asked, “Archer? Are you okay?”
“Hmm? Oh yeah… no, I’m good. I just…” he ended his s£ntence with a gro-n as he dropped his forehead on my shoulder. I froze not knowing what to do with this new Archer. “Please don’t make me say it, Sweetheart,” he mumbled against my shoulder. Oh Lord… there is that name again… He called me that when I broke down after his football game. It had melted my heart then—much like it was doing now. Though it felt more intentional now, less like a sl-ip of the t0ngue.
“S-say what?” I whispered back, still unable to move. A shudder ran through Archer’s shoulders as he lifted his face to look at me.
“I just…” he started with a grimace. Seemingly giving up—Archer flopped over and wriggled down to shove his face in my pillow. It was comical honestly. This big man acting like a drunken baby while his feet hung off the end of my b£d. He grumbled further into my pillow before turning his face towards me, “I don’t know how to do this. I can’t talk about feelings and shit.”
“Okay… so you have feelings you want to talk about?” I prompted gently as I stared down at him. Archer gave a slow nod to that. I smiled as he stared at me unsurely. This entire scenario was wh0lely overwhelming for me, but Archer seemed like he needed this. I mean, whatever it was had brought him to my dorm at midnight.
Archer let out a deflated sigh before turning on his side and propping his head on his hand. “I haven’t been able to focus since the Pep Rally,” he said as he picked at fluff on my comforter.
“Yeah,” I sighed sadly. “That night changed a lot for me too.” Archer grabb£d my hand again and pulled it towards his chest.
“Are you okay? I’ve been worried about you but I didn’t know what to do,” he asked as his eyes pooled with concern.
“I’ve been… trying to move on. It just feels like there’s nothing I can do but let it go. It still bothers me but…” I finished weakly with a shrug.
“I just. I hated not knowing if you were okay Charlotte. All I’ve wanted to do for the last month is come check on you, but I didn’t think you’d want me to.” The amount of concern behind Archer’s words hit me like a ton of bricks. His actions after the hospital had proven him to be a more caring person than he let on. But to worry about me—for a month?
Emmett’s comment about Archer being difficult flashed in my mind. Was it possible this had really been bothering him? It felt impossible that I could have impacted him that deeply, but yet it fits.
“If it bothered you that much Archer, you could have stopped by,” I said quietly, not knowing how else to acknowledge his surprising admission.
“Really?” Archer sat up more and stared back at me. “Because Charlotte I’ve decided something. I want to talk to you,” he stated firmly.
“Uhhh, we are talking.”
“No. I mean… on a regular basis. I don’t want to talk to anyone, ever. Besides Oliver—and sometimes James. But for some reason, I want to talk to you.”
My head spun as I considered what Archer was saying. He liked talking to me? Had he enjoyed spending time together in our bubble as I had? I almost allowed myself to revert back to my 16-year-old ways—gushing about whether or not Archer Johnson liked me—but then I realized he mentioned Oliver and James.
“A-Archer. Are you asking me to be your friend?” A coy smile played on my l-ips as I thought about how kindergarten-y this wh0le conversation had become.
“Do friends talk? And spend… time together? Like, often?” I thought he was joking at first, but one look at Archer’s tilted head and furrowed brow made me understand that he was serious. Bless his heart, this boy doesn’t know what friends do.
“Yes Archer, friends do both of those.”
“Okay then,” he said as he looked me directly in the eye, “Charlotte, will you be my friend?”
I gulped as I considered the ramifications of my answer. Could I be friends with Archer? I knew I didn’t love him anymore—if I had ever really loved him that was. But I did find him attractive. Was there a chance this could snowball again into me being a pathetic, love-sick puppy? I wanted to believe that I wasn’t that girl anymore. I was older, wiser, and more careful now.
“Okay,” I said with a small, unsure laugh, “I’ll be your friend.” No sooner had the words left my mouth, when his long, strong arms grabb£d me and pulled me into a bone-crushing hug. Once again, my face ended up smooshed into Archer’s chest, while his forearms squ-eesed the back of my head.
“Ugh! Do you know how nice you are to hug?” He asked as he wagged his upper body side to side, pulling my head with him.
“Okay, okay, OKAY!” I gro-ned as I ripped my head back. “As your friend, I think it is my duty to tell you that you don’t know how to hug, sir.”
“Well to be fair,” he replied as he rubb£d the back of his neck, “my only other friend is Oliver and we don’t hug.”
Laughing slightly—and emboldened by how dang cute Archer was acting—I leant forward and grabb£d his arms. w-rapping them around my back I reached forward to place my own around his neck.
“See? It’s not that h-rd,” I laughed as he t¡ghtened his arms to squash the ever-loving life out of me again. “Okay… We’ll work on it,” I wheezed, giving him a pat on the back to release me.
“So, what were you doing tonight that spurred all this on?” I asked as Archer settled back against the headboard.
“James,” he replied with an eye roll. He shuffled over close to the wall, before grabbing me and yanking me next to him. “The f-cker basically kidnapped me after practice today,” he continued as he shifted around until I was tucked under his arm.
Apparently being friends with Archer meant I would need to get used to him touching me—at least when he was drunk. He also didn’t seem to understand that you weren’t supposed to manhandle your friends, but that would probably need to be a lesson for another day.
I really didn’t mind Archer’s affection though. It somehow reminded me of Emmett’s physical comfort—while also feeling completely different, more… exciting? But the aura of protection that revolved around me like a shield was similar.
“We went to a ₱vb on campus and he ordered way too many tequila sh-ots. According to James, whisky makes me ho-ny—but tequila makes me friendly,” he said with a shake of his head like James was ridiculous. I’d say James has it pretty spot on… “So anyway… what do friends do now?” He asked genuinely.
Smiling, I decided to see how far I could push friendly Archer. I got up to grab my laptop before placing it on my desk chair and rolling it to the end of my b£d. I pulled up YouTube and clicked on a playlist before settling back into Archer’s arm.
For the next hour, I proceeded to introduce Archer to my favourite youtubers. Some of his snark came back as I laughed at the ridiculous pranks—but he didn’t make me turn it off. I made a mental note to find out if our new friendship meant Archer would watch Tangled or Frozen too.
The next morning I woke up with a smile on my face as I opened my eyes. Archer had his back pressed against the wall with his arm outstretched under my head. He had tried to give me as much room as he could when we fell asleep but I think it’s safe to say this b£d was not made for football players.
A warmth pooled in my stomach as I considered that this was the second time I had woken up in Archer’s arms. Last time hadn’t been nearly as comfortable, but it was still crazy how quickly things between us changed.
Thinking about our last morning together, anxiety struck me. How drunk had he been last night? Would this be another repeat of before? I thought we had made progress at his house after the Pep Rally but then the next morning had been awful… Would that happen when he woke up? What if he didn’t even remember what he said last night?
My instinct had me sitting up to bolt away before I made a fool of myself. When I tried though, I was pulled back down as a large hand plopped on my face and brushed downwards.
“Shhhhhhhh. Sleep. Too early,” Archer grumbled deeply without opening his eyes. Shaking off his hand I huffed. Some of the anxiety seeped away but I still needed a moment alone to collect myself.
“Archer… I’m gonna go make breakfast,” I whispered.
He opened one eye to look at me and I froze. This was it. If he was going to revert back to old Archer, or if he didn’t even remember why he was here—it would happen now.
“Bacon?” He mumbled.
I almost laughed in relief, but instead smiled and nodded my head. “Bacon,” I agreed.
Ten minutes later I had the coffee brewing and bacon on the stove. Then I pulled some hash browns out of the freezer and stuck them in the oven. I felt a large pres£nce behind me before a stool squeaked and someone settled down at the counter. I knew it was Archer without turning around so I grabb£d a mug and filled it with coffee.
“Milk or sugar?” I asked as I peeked over my shoulder. His hair was rumpled on top of his head and his clothes were wrinkled. His slightly puffy eyes signalled how tired he was, as he shook his head. Apparently, we are at least back to quiet Archer.
It dawned on me as I passed him the mug that Archer’s sweatp-nts were still folded in my closet. I ran to grab them and came back out with a triumphant smile.
“Here!” I said as I passed them to him. “I only wore this hoody last night if you want it back to wear?”
“No. I meant it, you can keep it,” his gravelly voice responded as he grabb£d the p-nts and walked down the hall. “But it would have been nice to have these last night before I slept in my damn jeans,” he threw over his should, entering the bathroom.
“So sassy,” I grumbled while finishing up breakfast. By time Archer was back, the bacon was done and I cracked eggs into the grease to fry. Madeline’s door squealed open and she came stumbling out before pausing on Archer.
“Huh. So I wasn’t imagining it last night when I saw a man in your b£d,” she mused as though this was all super casual. Walking into the kitchen, she shoved past me to get to the coffee then settled next to Archer on the stools.
“Charlotte makes the best breakfast ever. You should definitely consider yourself lucky. I’m Madeline by the way,” she stated confidently as she held out her hand. “I know we’ve seen each other before but we haven’t been officially introduced.”
Archer looked down at her outstretched hand before slanting his face towards me with a look that very clearly said, “Save me”. I narrowed my eyes back and raised one eyebrow at how rude he could be. Was it so dang h-rd to be polite?
With a huff under his breath, he took Madeline’s hand and replied, “Archer,” gruffly. I rolled my eyes but figured that was some progress at least. With the food done I divided it up between three plates and we went to the living room to eat. Archer stayed quiet as he shovelled food in his mouth—which allowed Madeline to fill me in on her night out.
After breakfast, Madeline left to shower leaving Archer and me alone again. He watched me silently, as I collected the plates and stuck them in the sink to soak.
“Do you… I mean. Uhm,” I turned as Archer cleared his throat and continued, “We’re friends?” He said this as though he was confirming it so I nodded slowly. “Does that mean I can ask you to hang out with me today?”
Oh boy… here we go, Charlotte.
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