I’m standing in my kitchen now, gulping down a bottle of water. Relief that I’m free of Bash and Kaleb washes over me. I know it wasn’t necessarily Kaleb’s fault, but I was still mad at him. They were both acting like they had the right to own me, to make my decisions, to say what’s best for me.
Suddenly, my door slams open, hitting the wall. I step into the hallway to see who it is, my heart hammering in my chest. Kaleb Nixon stands in my door way, chest heaving and eyes wild. “Greer.”
“Kaleb?” I say, but my voice comes out a squeak.
“You can’t just run away like that.” He shakes his head and his fists clench.
“Kaleb how did you get here?” I ask him.
“That’s not important.” He shakes his head and closes the distance between us. I stay where I’m standing, my knees too wobbly to carry me away from him. Even if I could walk away, it’s the look in his eyes that keeps me rooted in place. “You can’t run away like that.”
“You’re bleeding.” I whisper, bringing my fingers to touch his face.
He tenses under my touch, “Yeah, pretty-boy actually has a mean right-hook.”
“I’m sorry he did that.” I bow my head and play with the hem of my shirt.
Kaleb’s fingers go under my chin and force me to look at him, “Hey, that wasn’t your fault, okay? Pretty girls can make a man go crazy.” He gives me a charming smile that instantly makes me feel better.
“You think I’m pretty?” I can feel my cheeks blush and I know I sound like a little school-girl.
Kaleb laughs, “That’s not what we were talking about.”
“That’s what you said though.” I shrug.
He studies me for a moment, the smile unwavering on his face, “Pass.”
“I pass on that question.” He tells me.
“You can’t pass. We weren’t playing the game.” I balk.
“You’re impossible.” I groan and spin around to walk away from him.
He walks after me, “where are you going?”
“Just shut up and go get the rubbing alcohol out of the medicine cabinet.” I snap.
He laughs, but listens to me. I push open my bedroom door and stop in my tracks. My heart comes to a skidding halt for a moment. A lump forms in my throat and chills work their way up my forearms. I take another few unsteady steps to reach my bed. There, sitting on top of my mattress, is a single black rose.
My eyes snap to my window and dart across my room to make sure it’s locked. Sure enough, the lock is still in place. My front door had been locked as well. How had someone gotten into my room just to give me a single rose?
“Black roses stand for death and farewell, you know.” Kaleb muses over my shoulder. “Who gave it to you?”
My chest tightens and I feel like I can’t breathe. The person that’s been following me isn’t just a figment of my imagination. Someone is actually stalking me. Which makes me afraid that whoever killed my parents has found me. They were toying with me, trying to make me afraid.
They’d done just that.
“Greer?” Kaleb asks, concern in his voice.
I snap out of my trance and run from my room. Kaleb calls after me, but I don’t pay attention. I run out the front door and toss the flower in the trashcan outside. Kaleb is waiting at the front door when I get back. I slam the door closed and lock it behind me.
“Greer, do you want to fill me in on what just happened?” Kaleb asks curiously, keeping his distance from me.
I shake my head, trying to get a handle on my shaking hands and pounding heart. “It’s nothing.”
“Was the flower from Bash? That’s weird that he’d give you a black rose.” Kaleb questions.
I shake my head, leaning against the counter. I still can’t speak. Terror grips me tight and it won’t let me go. I need to call Leo, but I know what will happen if he finds out. I’ll have to say good bye to Arden Prep and all my friends here. I’ll have to say goodbye to Adam and he’ll never talk or see me again. Even worse, I’ll never see Kaleb again.
“Greer, what is it? Who gave you that rose?” Kaleb steps in close to me, his hand on my back.
I don’t want to lie to him, but I also can’t tell him the truth. Silence is my only option. I don’t look up at him. I keep my eyes trained on the counter top. My fingers grip the marble so tight my knuckles are white.
I finally twist around and stare at him. We’re so close to each other. I can feel his breath fanning across my face. His eyes trail across my face, not stopping on one place. I suck in a deep breath, trying to keep my heart from hammering fully out of my chest.
Kaleb opens his mouth to question me again, but I stop him. I step forward to close the little space between us, cupping his face in my fingers. I don’t know what comes over me, probably the fact that Kaleb’s about to ask a question that I don’t know how to answer. Kaleb’s about to uncover my secrets and I can’t have that.
Our lips meld together, soft at first. Kaleb tenses under my touch. I can feel his heart beating against my own. His hands come to snake around my waist, pulling me closer. I can feel the heat of his fingertips through my clothes. Our kiss turns frantic, matching the beating of our hearts and the thoughts swirling in our brains.
I remember all the stories saying that your first kiss felt like sparks. Kaleb’s kiss didn’t feel like that. It felt like fire, all-consuming and burning. It was scary and overwhelming. My whole body felt like a firework show, coming alive and igniting under Kaleb’s touch. It took over until it was all there was.
Kaleb’s the first to break our kiss, his breathing heavy and erratic. His fingers stay where they are, pressing firmly into the small of my back. I drop my shaking fingers to his shoulders to hold myself up.
Kaleb stares at me with dazed eyes. He gulps, his adam’s apple bobbing. “Wow.” He finally says, his voice heavy.
“I know.” I answer, my voice merely a whisper.
“That just happened.”
“It did.” I nod. My eyes finally settle back on the wounds covering his face. The split at his lip is bleeding once again. There’s a wound at his eyebrow that’s caked in dry blood. I step away from him, taking his hand in mine and leading him into the bathroom. I usher him to sit down, he doesn’t even protest. He stares up at me with wandering eyes. I wet a piece of gauze with rubbing alcohol and start cleaning the scratches on his face.
“You should know that this doesn’t make you special or anything.” Kaleb muses, his wide eyes staring up at me as I finish clearing the dried blood from his skin.
“What doesn’t?” I ask, barely paying attention. My mind is focused on my work.
“Yeah know, the whole me being your knight in shining armor thing?” He smirks up at me.
My eyes stop moving and my eyes snap to his. “You’re kidding me, right?”
He shrugs, “Not at all. I mean, I basically saved your honor or whatever back there. I just wanted to make sure you know that you’re nothing special.”
"My honor?” I balk.
He nods, “Yeah, so your welcome. Just don’t go getting the wrong idea.”
I scoff, “Oh, believe me, I won’t. And you shouldn’t go getting the wrong idea about that kiss.”
His jaw clenches for a moment, “Just out of curiosity, what’s the wrong idea?”
“That you’re anything special. I just kissed you to get you to shut up.” I toss the bloodied gauze in the trashcan. I lean back against the wall, crossing my arms over my chest and giving him my best glare. “Besides, I have lots of other boys I can kiss.”
His smirk falls and he leans back with his arms crossed as well. His jaw clenches in the way that I know that he’s becoming angry with me. He stands to his feet then, crossing the small space that stands between us. He places one hand beside my head on the wall and cages me in. He leans forward, the tips of our noses almost touching.
“You should know something about me, dork,” He snarls in my face, his breath still smells like alcohol as it fans across my face. “I don’t like to share what’s mine.”