Theon’s phone started to buzz, letting us know that fifty minutes had passed.
He quickly pulled over the bag he had earlier and pulled out the little outfits. “Hurry and pick what she should wear.” He said.
I shifted through the things and picked out a little purple dress that had an attached pink cardigan and a pair of matching pink leggings. “Tell her to wear this with sandals.” I told him. “The same two sandals.” I added when I remembered her mismatched shoes from the other day.
He smiled and stood up, offering me his hand to help me off of the couch. I was tempted not to, but once I was up, I let go of it as he walked me to the door. Even though I let go, it didn’t stop me from noticing how good it felt to have his warm rough hand in mine.
We lingered in the doorway, and he was trying not to make eye contact with me. “Why do you do that?” I whispered.
He looked at me confused. “Do what?”
“Not ever look at me.”
He looked uncomfortable, and I could tell he wanted to look away right now, but he kept his eyes on mine anyway. “I don’t mean to.” He whispered back, fidgeting his hand at his side. “You’re just…” He let his sentence drop. “You know.” I furrowed my brows and he rolled his eyes and sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. “Don’t pretend to not know how you look.” He huffed.
I gasped a little, understanding now, then I smiled. “You don’t look at me because you think I’m hot?” I laughed, the feel of it after all my crying was such a change.
His face flushed a little as he tried not to laugh too. “Whatever.” He muttered. “You’re the one who asked.” He reminded me. I smiled at his embarrassed expression. We stood there, staring at each other, a growing tension between us. Finally he cleared his throat and looked at his phone. “You’re down to six minutes to make it back to the water, so you better hurry.” He told me, dropping his eyes again. “You want an umbrella or something?” He asked. “I can walk you back if you want, you know, since Ms. Kay stayed.”
I shook my head at him and grinned. “I think I can manage.” I told him. “Also, I’m waterproof, so…”
“Right, of course.” He nodded, remembering. I wondered for a second if he had actually been able to forget that I’m a soul stealing siren, and thought of me as just a regular girl he was saying goodbye to at his door.
Right after that I had the thought of how many normal girls has he had at his doorstep before. I shook my head at myself. That was none of my business. “See you tomorrow I guess?” I asked as he pulled open the door for me.
“Um, yeah.” He mumbled. “Tomorrow.”
I stepped out into the heavy drizzle and looked back at him, catching him watching me. We smiled at each other one more time before a crashing of thunder made me jump, then giggle. “Bye.” I called, holding up my dress and breaking into a run.
I felt like I made it to the water just in time.
“Serena!” Levi called as I rushed into the waves.
She and Cassandra were wading out just passed the sand bank. “We were so worried about you!” Cassandra told me as I swam over. “What happened earlier? Where did you go with him?”
I sighed. “I don’t want to talk about what happened earlier.” I told them, a cold feeling moving up my spine at the very thought of it. “It was bad, and I wanted to die but…Theon saved me, again.” I remembered him doing it already before. I need to remember to thank him. “Anyway, he took me to his house, it’s just a little ways up through the trees, and he came up with a plan.”
Levi inched closer. “What kind of plan?” She asked curiously.
I shrugged my shoulders. “I don’t know if he’ll be able to for sure, but he said he’d try to get some more men to come through here, I’m not sure how.” I told them. “He said he’d get ones who aren’t innocent.”
Cassandra looked confused, her big bottom lip in her mouth. “What do you mean not ‘innocent’?”
I bit my own lips. “I don’t really know.” I admitted. “We didn’t have long to talk about it, but I guess he’ll try to lore bad people to come around here so that we can get their souls instead of all of these random people who just accidentally happen upon us.”
Levi nodded her head. “But how will he know who is innocent?”
“I don’t know.” I said again. “Whatever the plan is, I like the sound of it better than killing more totally innocent people.” I told them. “I’m done doing that.” I said. “If this plan doesn’t work out, I’m killing myself.”
Both of their eyes widened. “Serena.” Cassandra scolded me.
“What?” I asked them defensively. “I can’t do it, it’s not worth the price.”
“But what about Asher?” Levi asked me.
His perfect face popped into my head, and it made my heart heavy. “I’m really trying to do this for him, but I truly think that if Asher knew so many innocent lives were being taken just to save his, he’d hate it.” I told them. “You don’t understand Asher, he’s like…The sweetest person, he hasn’t ever said a bad word about another person, and I just know he’d hate this.” As I said it in my defense, I realized it really was true. “Asher would understand.” I whispered. “He’d want me to do the right thing. That’s just the kind of person he is.”
They both nodded and dropped the subject. We floated most of the night on the surface of the water, looking up as we watched the lightning show going on above us.
The next morning wasn’t much better. The clouds hung full and heavy, seeming to just barely sit over the water, and an eerie fog rolled in. Drizzles of rain came and went for most of the morning, but the sun finally managed to break through for a few minutes around lunchtime. I knew Theon would be coming today, but I was too bored not to go ahead and help clean up the beach. The storm had made a mess of the usually so pristine island. I almost broke a sweat as I drug all of the debris up into the trees and then went about raking through the tan sand, adding a little design to it for fun.
By the time Theon’s boat finally roared through the bay I had already finished all of his work for him and I was relaxing in my chair, taking in the sunlight before it gets hidden away again by the gloomy grey clouds. Theon swam ashore, holding a big bag up over his head to keep it from getting wet, then shook his head looking at the beach. “I think I’ll just have to tell my manager to make my checks out to you know.” He joked, walking over to sit beside me in the sand, pulling his bag into his lap.
“Can you just call my dad and tell him you said that?” I smiled. “He’d never believe him if I told him myself.”
He grinned to himself. “I take it you’ve never had a job before.” He commented.
I rolled my eyes. “A princess like me? Nope.” I joked and he finally looked over at me and smiled. I’ve noticed before how great of a smile he has, but it has a whole other effect when he smiles right at you. It made my breath hitch just looking at him.
“Figures.” He said with an over done eye roll.
I smacked him on the shoulder. “I wasn’t technically allowed to work, thank you very much.” I defended myself. “I probably wouldn’t have though even if I could have.” I admitted. “If I ever get out of here, I’m getting a job.” I told him. All my free time had given me plenty of thinking space to realize how unhappy I am with myself on how I was living before. “If I survive this, I want to be a better person.” I whispered.
He surprised me when he reached over, grabbing hold of my hand and holding it tightly. “When you get out of here.” He corrected me. “You’re going to do it, and you’ll get to go back to your charmed life, and if you want to live it the exact way you were before, that’s fine. Or if you want to do what you consider better, then do that.” He said quickly. It was probably more words all at once that I’d ever heard him speak, so I just sat back and listened to his voice. “Whatever you chose to do is up to you.” He told me. “There’s nothing wrong with being a princess, Serena. As long as you’re happy it doesn’t matter what you come from, a mansion or a shack in the middle of the woods on an island.” He smiled. “I think you’re too hard on yourself, and you’re too focused on whether or not you’re a good or bad person, when really, I don’t think any person is just one or the other.” He said, looking me right in the eyes. “We’re all capable of being both, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.”
I was astonished by his speech. I wondered where it had all come from, and how much of it was really meant for me and how much was him trying to tell himself that whatever he is doing isn’t totally bad. Either way, his words did resonate with me. Maybe I’m not evil after all, maybe I just need to make better choices. “Thanks for that.” I whispered and he nodded, finally a little of his insecurity showed back up on his face as he looked away from me. I sighed, watching the angry water with him. “So,” I said, turning back to him. “What’s in the bag?”
He looked like he had forgotten and then passed it over to me. It was heavier than I had expected. “It’s just some stuff I thought you, and I guess the others, might want.” He said. “I know it gets boring out here sometimes.” He shrugged, standing to shake out his hair again, looking out at his boat. I opened the bag and smiled. There were some blankets, an old mp3 player, some women’s magazines, a hair brush, a couple of books, and a notebook with a box of crayons. I just stared into the bag, a huge grin on my face. I felt like it was Christmas morning and I was three years old. I looked up at him and I was so thankful I literally had tears threatening my eyes. He looked over at me and shrugged his shoulders. “It’s not much, and if you need something else or whatever just tell me.” He said nonchalantly.
I set the bag down beside me and I stood up, walking towards him. He looked painfully awkward as I reached for him, and his body stiffened a bit when I wrapped my arms around his waist, but he gave in after a second, hugging me back gently. “Thank you so much, Theon.” I whispered into his chest, not able to ignore the fact that he smelled amazing. A mix of some kind of spiced cologne and salt water.
“It’s not a big deal.” He responded quickly.
I hugged him tighter. “You have no idea how big of a deal it is.” I told him. “I appreciate it so much.” I leaned back a little to look up at him, his honey brown eyes meeting mine reluctantly. “Thank you so much, Theon.” I whispered. “Not just for this, but for everything. You have no idea how happy I am that you’re going to help me out.” I told him.
He looked down at me hard. “I want to do whatever I can to help you, Serena.” He told me, his voice low. “You don’t deserve what’s happening to you, and you don’t have to be alone in this.” He sighed. “Alana has all of us in some way or another, I understand, and I want to be there for you.”
“Thank you.” I whispered again. We looked into each other’s eyes and the desire to reach up and pull his face down to mine was strong, but I thought of Asher and took a step back, letting Theon go. I bit my lip and Theon swallowed hard, pulling his eyes away from me and back to the boat.
“I should go.” He said looking at it and not me. “I’ll come back tonight with Tally is that’s alright.” He said.
“Yeah, I’d like that.” I told him and he looked over to smile at me for a second before he trudged out into the water.
“Bye, princess!” He yelled from the boat and sped away.