Suddenly as we stood there, face to face, I found it hard to breathe as our eyes held.
"Ellie..." he seemed distracted as our eyes held in that moment.
"What?" I managed, half-holding my breath and silently congratulating myself for getting the word out.
"You shouldn't be here," he gave a small shake of his head as he searched my gaze with his own.
It took me a moment for the words to sink in, and I hoped my face wasn't as flushed as it felt beneath his gaze.
My forehead creased as his words hit me, and I gave him a wondering look.
"I thought you said you wanted me here?" I managed a softly awkward and quietly breathless kind of laugh, regarding him curiously in the wake of his words at the thought.
"I do," his words were quiet as he searched my gaze, and I suddenly realized the quietly troubled look in his brown eyes as they held my gaze, "You shouldn't be here," he gave another small shake of his head at the thought.
"Why not?" I asked as he bowed his head before me suddenly, half-holding my breath as he lifted his head and met my gaze again, seeing him search my gaze as though he were looking for something, leaving me wondering what it was he was looking for in my eyes.
He seemed hesitant as our eyes held that time.
"You should go," he nodded towards the door behind me, leaving me at a loss and letting out a quietly incredulous laugh at his words as I saw him turn and start back across his apartment.
"You asked me to drive all the way out here to ask me to leave?" I asked him with another softly wondering and incredulous kind of laugh at the thought, feeling my heart trip as he stopped mid-step at the sound of my words, leaving him standing with his back towards me, "James, what the hell--?" I laughed softly again, my nerves breaking through in my voice.
"Ellie, I'm trying to do the right thing here," his voice was quiet as he half-turned his head towards me, and I realized he was keeping his eyes lowered as he spoke; that his shoulders were slumped.
"Do you want me here, or don't you?" I demanded quietly, crossing towards him with careful steps as I watched his lowered eyes, stopping to stand behind his left shoulder.
"It's not a matter of whether or not I want you here, Ellie," he sighed as he shook his head, appearing frustrated as he said it, bowing his head low.
"Then what is it a matter of?" I asked him, watching his profile from over his shoulder as we stood together just beyond the entryway.
My heart hiccuped as he turned his head and met my gaze from over his shoulder, his forehead creasing as our eyes held once again, and I saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed hard, making me wonder what it was that had him so off-balance suddenly.
"You shouldn't be here," he said finally as our eyes held, his look grave, and if I didn't know better, I thought I might have seen regret in his eyes.
"What's wrong?" I asked him, searching his gaze, my forehead creasing as I tried to figure out what it was about my being there that suddenly had him so ill at ease, "Is it something I said? Was it something I--"
"It's everything," he said, stopping me mid-sentence and bringing me to lift my eyes to meet his.
I swallowed hard, feeling my heart ache at the thought that I'd apparently done or said something that upset him, when that was the last thing I'd ever wanted to do.
"I'm sorry," I offered, feeling heat behind my eyes and blinking to keep heartbroken tears from falling as they rose to blur my vision, "Whatever it was, whatever I said, whatever I did--" I managed, feeling my heart ache in my chest as I heard my voice crack as I turned from him, to make my way back towards the door.
I was caught off-guard as I suddenly felt him reach out and take me by my right upper arm, and as I let him lead me to turn back to face him, suddenly I felt his right hand curve around the side of my neck, drawing me forward.
And then, suddenly, I felt the warm, insistent press of his lips against mine, and my eyelids slid closed instinctively as I found myself softly pressing back against his lips with my own.