Breach of Privacy
I wondered if I was in some kind of a trance. My mind was numb and it couldn’t comprehend what was actually happening. My head felt detached from my body, and I was so tired. Why was I the only one so tired? Grey never got tired, nor did Dani.
It was weird how they were all so strong. Me on the other hand? I could try and try but there were some limits that bordered on inhuman.
′Inhuman.′ I said again, something about that word made me feel strange. There were so many strange and inexplicable things in this world, such fascinating things, mystical things. I remembered a project I had done in school on mythology, the scary yet mesmerising stories I’d read. I sat there for a minute or two more, before reality crashed into my consciousness like a ball through glass.
I was alone in the middle of a dense forest!
And it was getting so cold.
And I could barely feel my body.
And I had no idea where my friends were!
Were they okay?
At that last thought, I willed myself to my feet, using the tree trunk as support.
As I stood up better, and took in my surroundings, the more I was sure that something was wrong. It was eerily quiet and the silence was giving me chills. My arms automatically went around my body.
It felt like all the living things had cleared out of the area apart from the trees. I was getting privacy I didn’t ask for, a privacy that felt lonely and scary.
My head whirled once more and I decided to sit back down.
I had no idea how much time had passed, but I knew that there was something seriously wrong with me.
From nearby, I heard a twig snap and I froze, trying to stifle my heavy breathing.
Were there wild animals in this forest?!
My heart was thumping so loudly in my chest that any animal was going to hear it from far away.
Then there was no further sound and I took calming breaths that were very much required. Maybe it had gone away, maybe there was nothing, maybe I was going crazy.
Maybe I should stop thinking altogether. I chided myself.
I tried to stand again and this time managed to get up much more easily. I had one aim and that was to get home immediately. I made up my mind and gathered all my strength, more determined than ever.
That was until I heard another twig break and this time it was right behind me.
For a moment time stopped still, and I was a statue.
Then I heard the unmistakable sound of an animal breathing deeply and by the feeling of the moist hot breath on my neck, I knew that it was huge.
The hair on my neck was rose and for the first time in my life I was contemplating death.
I knew I had three choices; to run, to fight or to stand perfectly still and let it think I was dead, or inedible.
But in the dead silence of the night, where I could hear my own pulse racing, option three was no longer an option.
I decided against fighting because I was not stupid - I had no strength or skills and luck was rarely on my side.
That left running, but to run where? Around the tree? Zig zag? Straight?
Time was running out and I knew I had to make a decision fast. It would make its move.
Directly in my line of sight, I saw a tree which curved at a rather low height. It would be easy to climb. If I could just get to that tree and climb out of reach, maybe, just maybe I would last.
Without wasting another moment to procrastination, I shot ahead at full speed. If it was following me then I had no idea. I couldn’t hear anything except my beating heart which I was surprised hadn’t exploded yet.
I reached the tree and began climbing, thanking God for those wall climbing sessions I took with Xena.
I didn’t dare look down even for a second as I launched myself higher up the bark. I could hear the animal’s paws in the mud now, as it raced forward in my direction. I reached out to another branch directly above me. I didn’t notice the stray piece of wood jutting out on the upper surface. My hand clamped right on to it and recoiled reflexively as it felt the sharp needle like splinter draw blood.
And then I lost balance and hit air.
The single most scary moment of my life and I could do nothing except fall.
My eyes slammed shut as I waited for the ground to meet me, and to think of the horror afterwards.
Instead, I landed on a warm, soft and comfortable surface. Electric sparks ran through my entire body from the contact and they made me feel alive. It was exhilarating if I wasn’t about to just die. The powerful tingles left me breathless even in the short period of a few seconds.
And then I bounced right off to one of the sides, landing on my stomach with my hands breaking my fall.
I had enough sense left to know that I was still alive, and to know that I had most likely landed on the animal. But what I lacked, was the common sense to realize that it could not have gotten worse, I had literally hit bottom.
I was going to die!
I turned around on my back and sat up, my hands and the rest of my body seemed intact with the exception of some minor scratches. And that was when I saw it.
A regal, elegant and incredibly terrifying monster.
It’s gold eyes were staring into mine. It had black fur, straight, attentive ears and a moist snout. It was also the biggest wolf I had seen! Impossibly large and deadly. It’s claws were razor sharp, and it wasn’t baring its teeth yet but I was sure that those were not blunt. It could kill me with a swipe of its paws.
A horrified scream escaped my lips and I heard someone calling my name.
“Flora! Nothing is wrong, wake up!”
My eyes shot open, taking in my surroundings.
I was in a lavish room, Basement three, still wearing the dinner clothes from yesterday.
A dream, it was only a dream.
A flash of déjà vu ran through me at my own thoughts. When I’d last thought that, Reece had actually been there.
He was sitting next to me, his one hand rubbing circles on my shoulder that eased some of my anxiety.
“You were dreaming.” He said, his face concerned. “What was it?”
I took a minute to straighten out my thoughts and calm my racing heart. He didn’t push any further, he was only looking at me in concern, holding back his worry and curiosity as I gathered my wits.
A dream, a dream. It’s only a dream. You’re fine, you’re here, Reece is here-
Memories from last night came back.
“What are you doing on my bed?” I blurted, immediately moving away from him to the center of the bed.
I was horrified, my face was burning.
My troubled feelings about the dream pushed to the back and a new fear arose. I’d gone back to my room with him. He’d slept next to me. Or was there something more?
“Relax, nothing happened.” He addressed the utmost important issue in my mind.
His words brought some sense of relief.
“You were drunk, I just got you back to your room.” He explained.
“And forgot to leave?” I couldn’t keep the mockery out of my voice. Reece sighed next to me, muttering something along the lines of ‘sober Flora.’
“You asked me to stay.” He said helplessly.
“Asking you to leave now.”
“First tell me what you dreamed.”
“We’re bargaining now?”
“Apparently.” He replied without an ounce of hesitancy and I struggled to maintain some civility.
“I swear, I’ll go. Just tell me first.” He interrupted me and I contemplated it.
But then I noticed that he was wearing different clothes.
“It’s afternoon. I woke up long back, in fact I just got back to check on you.” He supplied - his words careful. He didn’t want to alarm me. An annoying part of me was slightly stung by the fact that he’d left in the morning but then his words registered completely.
“It’s 12?!” I quickly got out of bed, my alarm at his presence forgotten. I grabbed my phone and double checked the time.
I’ve been sleeping a lot lately.
“Flo? What’d you dream?” He asked me again as I bustled around the room. I caught my reflection in the mirror and cringed. I badly needed to shower.
“Hey, hey hey listen to me.” He tried again but I only threw him an exasperated look.
“It was nothing, alright? Just a stupid repetitive dream about some woods and a huge wolf.” I gave in. Every time I had that dream it just felt more real.
His expression was guarded, “then why were you screaming?”
“Reece, does this really matter? It’s just a stupid dream.” I began to hunt for a fresh pair of clothes, and my toothbrush. He pursed his lips.
“How’d you get in anyway? If you left to change-”
“I’m the owner. I have the keys to this room.” He said it so casually that I almost breezed over it as well. Then I froze.
So he could enter anytime he liked?
“But I’m living here.” I turned around to face him, my hands on my hips.
“Yeah, I realize this is a breach of privacy.” He rolled his eyes in obvious disregard about the ramifications, “but I was worried about you.”
“Well, I’m fine.” I couldn’t help but be rude to him. Deep down I knew I was mad at myself for yesterday night.
What was I thinking asking him to stay? Bad Flora!
“Look, Reece, about last night-”
“Don’t worry about it. You hate me and would never in your sober state allow this, I know.”
Well, hate was a strong emotion..
“Err, it’s not like that...” Was that really what I put across? I thought I was friendly enough yesterday before dinner.
This seemed to get his interest, “oh?” His eyebrows raised, “so what is it like?”
“Reeceee..” I whined, being cornered in conversation was new for me. I usually had such great answers.
“Why were you screaming? Did the wolf frighten you?”
Why wouldn’t he drop this? It was the least substantial thing there was to discuss!
“I need to get ready for the day.” I said, clearly dismissing him.
“I’ll be right here.”
Did nothing deter him?
“This is my room!”
“This is my hotel!” He mimicked me and I looked at him crossly.
Why wouldn’t he leave me alone?
I fumed, spinning on my heel to head to the washroom. I didn’t dare look back.
Arrogant, stupid man! Why’d he offer me the room if he was going to pretend to live here anyway!
The cold water did nothing to relax my frayed nerves, the hot water just seemed to aggravate them more.
‘So what is it like?’ his question echoed in my head again.
Oh nothing nothing, just that I can’t be around you because I might end up throwing myself at you despite how much logic and practicality screams at me not to.
Staying here was getting tougher day by day. I wanted to avoid Reece because there was a high chance that I would fall for him again, not because he hurt me and I’m mad.
Don’t get me wrong, I was mad. But for some reason I also couldn’t seem to stay away. It was like an invisible bond that we’d formed that I just couldn’t escape.
Gaaaaah! Life was so frustrating!
I returned to the room a while later, all dressed and fresh to see Reece still sitting on my bed, typing away on his phone.
“Are we ready to discuss the dream?” he said without looking up at me and I poked my tongue out at him, not that he could see.
“It’s just a dream, Reece.” I sighed, deciding to not fight him for the moment.
I plopped myself next to him on the bed and he seemed surprised at my newfound ease.
“But why did the wolf scare you?” He looked at me, keeping his phone away now and I decided to humour him.
“Because! Self preservation?” I made it sound like a rhetorical question.
“Did he hurt you?” He asked me hesitantly and I stopped in my tracks. “Well, no, but I’m sure it would have. I mean, it’s a giant lethal wolf.”
This was absurd! We were discussing potential outcomes of a dream?
“Honestly Reece! It’s a dream. I wake up before anything happens. It’s not real.” I put an emphasis on ‘not’, my hands gesturing wildly.
He looked like he wanted to say something further but didn’t.
“How’s the shoulder?”
“You were hurt yesterday-”
“Huh? Ohhhhh. Yeah, it’s fine.” I lied through my teeth.
He let out a shaky laugh, “I don’t even need a lie detector with you.”
I turned slightly red but made obvious offended noises.
“What! I’m not lying.” I insisted blindly, even though I knew how horribly I sucked at the art of deception.
“Now, I have work to do, so perhaps I’ll see you later?” His tone was hopeful as he got off the bed, not bothering on the lie part.
Unable to make a firm commitment, I could only nod. Reece nodded back at me before giving the room a once over.
Then instead of stepping away, he stepped closer to me, standing at the edge of the bed.
He placed a hand under my chin, making the words stop in my throat. Familiar sparks raced around my skin, stinging at my throat and my chest in a pleasurably way. My mind went into a frenzy as he raised my head to face his. I couldn’t seem to move out of the daze he’d put my body in.
He leaned down a little, bringing our faces slightly closer and said, “I’ll find out why you’re lying, Flora.”
I think I gulped but I couldn’t be sure.
“And you’re not going to like it but you never liked sharing your problems anyway.” He continued and I stayed still as a statue. His words were a promising whisper.
And then just as suddenly as the moment had built, he disappeared. He was out the door faster than I thought possible and I just stared at the door he shut in his departure.
Goodness! What kind of a spell was that?!
I took a few calming breaths, my eventful afternoon needed a bit of a dull dose. Deciding to do just that, I ordered some light lunch, since it was too late for breakfast anyway, and began to work on my script, making a few final changes here and there.
But every now and then my mind would wander back to him. His hair, his eyes, his chest..
A pool of desire struck right through me, and I struggled to maintain focus.
I worked on my script for an hour or two before eventually accepting defeat and abandoning any plans to alter the document.
I needed to cool off.
I decided to clear my mind by going for a swim.
I went up to my bags and opened my suitcase, looking for my usual swimsuit, but after a minute of searching, I couldn’t find it anywhere.
Had I misplaced it?
I dug a little deeper into my bag and found no costume, but I came across something else - a white package in my bag with a note stuck on it.
I know you’ll be mad about this, but I just couldn’t help it. Trust me, I am actually helping you, even if it doesn’t seem so. You’ll thank me someday.
P.s. And while we’re at disclosure - I’ve cut up the old one.
I removed the note and tore at the paper packaging as my heart sped up.
Please, please don’t let it be what I’m thinking. God, please.
The wrapping came off and my worst fears were confirmed. Inside the package - and now in my shaking hand - was a flimsy, two piece swimsuit that screamed uncomfortable. I stared at it in horror, my mind trying to accept the reality which Xena had created for me.
Why that no good, always pushing your limits, best friend! I was going to kill her!
It wasn’t exceptional, in fact it was a rather usual swimsuit that one might see, but for me it was a whole other story. These were exactly the kind of clothes that were nowhere near my comfort zone. I didn’t mind dresses, shorts, or any other thing but bikinis - they were just too much. And she had gone and left me with no option but one. A rather bold one at that.
I was about to shove it back into the paper and abandon my swimming trip when another note slipped out from between the two scraps of clothing.
I knew you’d freak, so here’s a motivational letter:
Don’t be a pansy, nobody knows you there.
Seriously, grow a pair.
Wasn’t she wonderful?