Scales and Scars

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Two Halves to a Story

The following day I had called Johnathon in the morning to decide on a time for dinner. I hadn’t slept at all the night before; I spent the whole night feeling betrayed. I thought Tadeas wanted the same things I did.

Johnathon was a perfect gentleman, a safe choice. He picked me up, we went to a small Italian restaurant across town. When he dropped me off, he walked me to the door but didn’t attempt anything further.

A few days later he had called to ask me out for another date. I hadn’t seen Tadeas since the night at the art gallery. The longer I went, the more the hole in my chest grew. I tried to throw myself into new distractions.

I thought about driving to the waterfall. Something about being back at a place where everything seemed so possible, was enticing. Bethany never mentioned Tadeas after that night. She didn’t ask why I left early or how I got home.

After ten days passed, I was unable to control myself any longer. I needed to do something to feel like I did with him again. After my third date with Johnathon, he tried to kiss me. I ended any further expectations that night.

I wasn’t the type of woman to lead someone on for no reason. I felt awful using Johnathon that night at the gallery to get a rise out of Tadeas. It didn’t work anyway. If it had, at the very least, I would have received an explanation.

I went to the place where it all began. As the sun rose, I hiked up to the stones that covered the entrance to the cave. It looked to be slightly more hidden than before, I didn’t remember the heavy moss. I climbed to the top of the stones over the entrance and took a seat. Unsure if I should enter.

I gave my word that I wouldn’t return to the cave. I had kept it so far; I had thought about entering on the way up. He did say if I went on a date with him, he would show me. He didn’t hold up his end of the bargain, I held up mine.

After an hour and a half of sitting above the stone, I climbed down. I looked over my shoulder at the entrance one last time before heading back down the trail. A few animals rustled in the brush on the ground, I looked around searching for the distraction.

A low growl came from behind a large tree trunk. I slowed to a steady, regular pace, careful to listen for any larger movements. The large mountain lion slowly climbed over the tree giving away position. I continued, turning to keep my face on theirs.

A second growl came from the opposite side of the higher ground. It sounded to be a good deal bigger than the one I currently had my eyes on. I took a deep calming breath. I knew if they sensed fear, it would be over for me.

This is a fairly public area. These animals are oddly aggressive no matter the time of day. I wondered if something caused them to act out of character. At the current moment, my focus was more on survival than their mommy issues.

The crashing sound came first from behind me. It was quick and knocked me off my feet before I had the chance to pivot. I felt the scratch on my back as the air hit fresh blood. I heard the leaves on the ground crunch as both animals encroached on my body.

I was certain my head was bleeding from the branch I hit on the way down. It stung like a papercut. I heard another set of footsteps approaching the area. The mountain lions stopped circling but before a low growl came from each.

I thought it was only two feet I heard coming across the woods, it must have been four. The growl that came from the newcomer was deep and nearly shook the earth. I was still lying flat on my back, careful not to make any sudden movements.

The two mountain lions sprung off in the opposite direction of the third party. With their movements I sprung up onto my feet in a crouching position facing the direction from which they ran.

“Looks like you do need saving after all. Though you probably could’ve have taken them both depending how they planned to attack.” Tadeas’ husky voice was raw, primal, possessive.

“I would rather die than be saved by you. How did you growl like that anyways?” I paused getting to my feet. “You know what! I don’t care.” I said enraged.

“This seems to be where we fight, why would you come back here?” He questioned curious.

“Thanks for the help. Have a nice life.” I said as I huffed down the trail angry.

I could hear his footsteps following at a safe distance behind me. I knew I was angrier at myself than I was at his presence. As soon as I saw him, I wanted to run and jump into his arms. After ten days of nothing, no calls, no visits, just a memory of him with a beautiful woman to torture me.

“I am not with her you know.” He almost yelled from behind me.

“Excuse me!?” I shouted. “No! I do not know. I know you rushed off from our date for ‘duty’ and shocker it was literal ‘doodie’! You said nothing in front of her, nothing to me that night or after. None of it matters anyways. I am not interested in your games.”

“Her family has always been close with mine; she is one of my sister’s… Tia’s best friends. We used to joke when they were little because of their names, Tia and Mia. She was recently divorced and has received some… threats from her ex. Our family’s thought it best if I escorted her in public until those threats were assessed.” Tadeas’ voice grew closer as he spoke.

I could feel his body-heat behind me as I stopped walking. His hands gently rested on my shoulders, helping my body to turn and face him. His eyes seemed to have a strange pain inside them.

“Okay, say I believe you. Why didn’t you tell me that night? Or come over the next day like you said you would.” I questioned trying to keep a grip on my self-control.

“I couldn’t shout it on the street. We didn’t know if he was lurking somewhere close by. I tried to stay away like you asked. Only making sure you were safe. I didn’t think the mountain lions were going to give you a fair shot.” His voice was lighter, he began tracing his hands up and down my arms sending warmth into my bones.

“I didn’t know what to think.” I said slowly accepting his apology. “I thought we were on the same page, suddenly we weren’t even in the same book.”

“Love, not only are we in the same book but we are two halves to the same story.” He said as he pulled me into his chest.

I inhaled his scent deeply. It was as if my body was deprived of a drug for far too long. I wanted him closer to me. I no longer cared if he was playing a game or what was going to happen next. I wanted him, all of him. If he was lying, I didn’t want to know the truth.

We walked back to the house together like we had the first day we met. I was happy to not have a sore ankle this time. My head I was told was only a small scratch which he planned to clean when we arrived.

I didn’t want to keep pushing him away, or did I? I couldn’t seem to make up my mind. My entire body screamed to get closer. That he was made for me and only me. My mind went back and forth changing direction at the last second.

Feeling my hand in his as we approached the house was oddly comforting. I had never in my life felt so in sync with someone without knowing them. This wasn’t love… was it? Is it?

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