31 Chapter 31: The story continues!

As Gwen continued feeding Luke, her suspicion that he was exaggerating his condition only grew. His satisfaction at being pampered was apparent in his contented sighs and relaxed posture. While Gwen didn't mind caring for him, she wondered if his weakened state was merely an act to gain her attention.

Deciding to test her theory, Gwen intentionally let some fries slip from her fingers, missing Luke's mouth. His reaction was instantaneous - his eyes snapped open, confusion and mild irritation flashing across his face.

"Hey! You're spilling them!" He protested, his tone lacking its usual playfulness.

Gwen couldn't help the knowing grin that spread across her face. "Oh really? I thought you were too weak to eat by yourself?" She arched an eyebrow, clearly onto his ruse.

A faint blush colored Luke's cheeks as he realized he'd been caught red-handed in his dramatics. He averted his gaze, a sheepish yet impish smile tugging at his lips.

"Maybe I played it up a little," he admitted with a nonchalant shrug. However, as he attempted to lift his burger with visibly shaking fingers, Gwen's amusement shifted to concern.

"Luke, what's really going on? Are you actually not feeling well?" She pressed gently.

Luke's eyes lowered, his brows furrowing as he contemplated coming clean. With a resigned sigh, he set the burger down and met Gwen's earnest gaze. "I may have...overdid it a bit with some strong medicine this morning," he confessed. "I was trying to deal with this nasty injury, but I think I took more than I should have."

Gwen's worry spiked at the mention of an injury, her eyes scanning him for any visible wounds. Before she could interrupt, Luke continued, "I'll be okay, I just need to let it run its course." He offered her a reassuring smile, hoping to ease the crease of concern that marred her forehead.

Gwen wasn't fully convinced, but she decided not to push further. With a soft sigh, she lifted another fry to Luke's mouth, the earlier playfulness replaced by a tender care.

"Just take it easy, okay?" She chided gently. "And maybe lay off the 'strong medicine' for a bit?"

Luke's lips quirked into a sheepish grin around the fry. He gave a small nod of acquiescence before taking the morsel from her fingers.

A comfortable silence settled between them as Gwen continued hand-feeding Luke. The bustle of the diner faded into background noise, the moment feeling unexpectedly intimate. Gwen found a certain delight in caring for Luke, his obvious enjoyment at her attention making her heart flutter.

As the meal wound down and Gwen crumpled up the burger wrapper, Luke reached for her hand, his touch light but full of meaning. "Thanks, Gwen," he said, his voice uncharacteristically soft. "For everything."

Gwen felt her cheeks grow warm, a tender affection welling up inside her. She gave his hand a gentle squeeze in response. No more words were needed.

Together, they sat in companionable silence, hands loosely entwined on the tabletop. The moment, while unexpected, felt strangely right to Gwen. Being there for Luke had brought out a surprisingly protective, nurturing side that she hadn't known she possessed.

As the meal wound down, Gwen noticed Luke seemed to be regaining some strength. His responses were becoming more alert and his posture less slouched. She felt relieved to see the medicine wearing off.

After crumpling up the burger wrapper, Gwen turned to Luke. "Feeling any better?" she asked.

Luke rolled his shoulders experimentally before nodding. "Yeah, seems like whatever I took is starting to wear off finally," he replied, a sheepish look crossing his face. "Sorry about all this. Not exactly how I pictured our da- I mean, not-date going."

Gwen smiled, waving off his apology. "I'm just glad you're recovering. But maybe next time skip the strong medicine, okay?" she said lightly.

"Duly noted," Luke chuckled.

A comfortable silence settled between them for a moment. Around them, the diner hummed with activity, but Gwen was focused just on Luke. Despite the rocky start, she was glad they had spent this time together. She felt like she was seeing sides of him she hadn't before - both playful and vulnerable.

"So...should we head out?" Luke finally asked, moving to stand up. He swayed slightly but quickly steadied himself, the grogginess nearly gone from his eyes.

Gwen nodded and rose to join him. Side by side, they made their way out of the diner and back onto the busy city streets. The afternoon sun warmed the sidewalks, reflecting off car windows and storefronts.

As they walked, neither feeling inclined to part ways just yet, their hands brushed occasionally, sending little thrills up Gwen's arm. She wasn't sure where this unexpected connection with Luke was heading, but she was curious to find out. For now, she was simply enjoying exploring this new dynamic between them.

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