Part 1: Chapter 20
I couldn’t believe it.
I didn’t want to believe it.
Here I sat, still holding the orb, wishing I really was Mallie. I was a horrible person before I wiped my memory clear. I was popular. I knew how to dress, what to wear, how to act. I was intelligent, but I was a total prick. I was rude and inconsiderate.
I treated my best friends, Isla and Trayen, with contempt because of their faults. I didn’t like Isla because she didn’t know how to dress. I didn’t like Trayen because he was shy. No wonder I had put them as weaknesses in my journal. I really did see them as weaknesses because I was too shallow to look any deeper than that.
Trayen was shy, but he was extremely intelligent and strong. Isla was happy and friendly, not unsure of herself. They weren’t the scum of the Night class; they were beloved because they liked everyone. It was just that not all of the Night class talked to them.
It was me that was the problem. Not them. I was so simple-minded. I thought I had everything, but I didn’t. I was missing me, the Mallie part of me that looked deeper and found things worthy of being liked. Mallie was rational, not unruly. She was compassionate and not malicious.
What sickened me most of all was how I treated Caiden. He loved me. He showed it to me every day, and I would tease him still. I manipulated him into doing things that he didn’t want to do. How could he ever forgive me for that? I used him in my former life to get things my way, because that’s what I did. I used everyone. I manipulated their wants and needs to bend to my will.
I wouldn’t place blame if no one ever talked to me again. My behavior was inexcusable.
The door opened behind me; someone was coming into my room. I could only guess that it was Caiden, as I knew he had permission to come and go as he pleased.
It made a lot of sense now. I knew who had rearranged my room, who had read my journal, who had added furniture to it. How he got in to help me when I nearly cried myself to sleep in the bath. Only someone who could access the room could’ve done all those things.
I turned around and stared at him. Tears were falling down my face.
He stopped as our eyes met. He had been crying as well, for they were reddened.
Even seeing him now, I couldn’t bring myself to apologize or ask anything that I wanted to. I just wanted him to hold me and whisper that everything would be alright when I knew that it might not end up that way.
We stared at each other as tears formed again and fell from our eyes.
Several times he started to speak to me, but he never mustered up the courage.
Sighing, I stood up and faced him. I still held the orb, but this time I wanted him to see that I knew everything.
He grew frightened at the sight of it. He stared at the orb and then at me.
“Is she okay?” I asked him, referring to the Shaper I had hurt.
He nodded. “She’ll be fine. She’s going to need a lot of rest.”
I nodded to myself. His answer confirmed my fears. “If you need to go and be with her, then it’s okay.” I was giving him permission to be with Mirabella. After all, even if she was my best friend from a former life, he obviously cared about her. That had been plain to see in my visions. He cared enough when he was dating me to kiss her on the cheek affectionately. I somehow knew that they spent a lot of time together, alone, before he met me. It was only fair and right that he should leave. They would always share something that I couldn’t ever have.
He crossed the room and took the orb from my hand. He put it down on the sofa. Taking my hand in his, he pulled it to touch his heart.
I felt it beating softly. He was calm, for someone who almost lost a person close to him.
“You don’t ever have to give me permission. I love you, only you.” He stared at me with adoration mirrored in his eyes.
“But then, why have you been dating her? Or did you date her?” I was confused. Was he using his relationship with Mirabella to fuel ours? I didn’t understand. Was he in love with the both of us? Or was he in love with me, but he didn’t want to break her heart?
He furrowed his brow. “You don’t remember? Surely the orb told you what we are.”
I knew only what I saw, not what was or what I used to know. There were still holes in my memory, like my family. I couldn’t remember them. But to Caiden and Mirabella, we were all friends and nothing more. What was I missing? “You and I dated then you and Mirabella…”
He cut me off by silencing my mouth with his fingers. “No. You and I are betrothed. Mirabella is my sister.”
I froze. New realization hit me then. It made perfect sense. He loved Mirabella and she loved him, but only because they were family. I was friends with the two of them. She loved me because I made him happy.
I started to panic with this new piece of information. He caught me as I sunk to the floor. He knelt down to place me in his arms. I almost killed my best friend, his sister. I couldn’t believe that I had done that.
My breathing came in fast gulps as I struggled with how I was going to apologize to her. “How am I…?” I never finished my question.
Caiden picked me up and carried me into the bathroom. He got the water to come on in the shower as he set me beside it. I still cried, as I realized that my best friend almost died, me being the cause of it. He disappeared, but as he came back he brought over some bottles that he poured into the marble tub filling it with the scent that set my senses on fire. Already smelling it, I was becoming more peaceful and less panicky. I stopped crying hysterically and began to sob quietly still in shock at my actions.
I don’t remember much of what happened; all I know is that I felt warm water engulfing my skin as I sunk into the soapy perfume-filled tub. I was feeling better now. Caiden was there with me. He pulled me into a hug, and when the tub was full, the water shut off.
My tears had stopped. I just breathed in the scent of the bathwater. It soothed my soul, causing me to relax. But as the tears subsided, a more powerful emotion took its place. I was calming down, but a faint hint of desire crept into my head. This wasn’t the time for this. I needed to be sad, not happy.
“She’ll forgive you,” Caiden said.
I didn’t respond, for fear of what I was actually feeling might reveal itself in my voice.
“Are you feeling better?” he asked.
“Yes,” I whispered.
I wasn’t afraid to be alone with him, much less naked in the tub as I realized my clothes were gone. After all, in my former life I was used to this. Even now, I felt safe and happy. I didn’t feel unnerved and shy.
A question formed on the edge of my thoughts and I grasped at it. All this time I realized that he never once addressed me by Mallie. “Who am I to you?” I asked him. I was afraid of his answer, more so now because of my true identity.
He smiled, and I felt it as he smiled against my head. “You are the only one that I love. No matter who you are now, I will always love you. You are my Aralisa.” He lifted my face to a gentle kiss.