Watered Down

By Shelby_Painter All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter Thirty Six

My eyes fluttered open lazily and I was slightly disoriented for a half second when I saw the pink birds all over the wallpaper, but then I could hear it. The steady thump thump of his strong heart beneath my head was a reminder of where I was and why. My smile stretched slowly across my face as I sat up slowly, looking down on a sleeping Theon breathing lightly.

I don’t even remember falling asleep. We were up so late, just kissing and talking, then kissing some more. I hadn’t meant to spend the night. I looked over at his face again, but when my eyes landed on his scar my smile fell. I can’t imagine how hard I must be to go through his life with that constant reminder of what he had done on his face. That kind of guilt would have killed me, but yet Theon can push through it and do everything in his power to make things right again.

We have to find a way to save Tally, but my hopes aren’t high. Theon said he researches, but as long as he has been trying he hasn’t been able to come up with anything that seemed helpful. There are all kinds of websites you can search for information about sea witches, but the issue is that they don’t involve stories about a witch cursed to the sea by the gods. That is even far-fetched for the people who write blogs and post websites about sea witches. Just thinking of it seems hopeless, but I know in my heart that there is one thing I could try.

I stretched my arms over my head and yawned, then carefully got out of the bed, afraid to wake Theon, and also marveling at the fact that I had actually managed to sleep in a motel bed. I pulled out the little black phone Theon had gotten me since my phone now resides at the bottom of an ocean, knowing I needed to call my parents and let them know I was ok. The last thing I wanted to do was worry them again. In the moment I was a little glad that I no longer had my other phone. After everything last night I’m sure I would have been bombarded with messages and maybe even videos about what had happened last night. Not to mention Asher would have probably been calling me all day.

Even thinking his name made me angry. His betrayal was one I’d never be able to get past. He knew me, told me he loved me, and then gave me away and put me in the hands of Alana, all so he could have what he never did before. The joke is on him though because if it wasn’t for all of that, I never would have met Theon.

“Good morning, princess.” Theon’s raspy voice whispered and I went to sit beside him after shooting a text to my dad letting him know it was me and I’m fine. Then I leaned over, brushing Theon’s hair out of his eyes.

“I never would have thought I would start to hear that as a compliment instead of an insult.” I smiled.

He reached up to put his hand behind my neck and pull me down to kiss him gently. “It’s always been a compliment.” He smiled back.

I sat up and I could feel him watching me carefully. “So,” I grinned. “What do you want to do today?” I asked.

He sat up and frowned. “I’ll have to get to the airport soon.” He told me.

“No.” I replied, crossing my arms.

He smiled at my childish expression and held my hand. “I have to get back.” He said gently. “I have to work and be with Tally. I don’t like to leave her for too long.”

I was still sad, but I understood. “How long do you have?” I asked and he checked the time.

“About two hours before I need to head to the airport.”

I sighed and hugged him, my head pressed to his chest. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too.”

“Will you come back?” I asked hopeful.

He pursed his thick lips. “I don’t know, it is really hard to do.”

“I will pay for it.”

He smiled at me. “I’m sure you would, but I still have to work.” He reminded me. “I can maybe do like once every month or so.” He told me. “It’s hard to get days off, and then a baby sitter I can trust for Tal.”

I shrugged. “I’ll take whatever I can get.” I smiled, then kissed his cheek, beyond happy that I was free to do such things.

“I’m going to call you every day.” He promised. “And so will Tally. I will memorize your number and address and whatever else I need to so that Alana can’t interfere again.”

“Good.” I grinned. “Now come on.” I said yanking on his arm.

He laughed as he stood. “What are you doing?” He asked.

I winked at him. “We are going on a date before you go and leave me again.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yep.”

He grinned from ear to ear and I wasn’t sure if I could pinpoint any other time where Theon looked so carefree. “Let’s do it.”

I cleaned up my face and ran my hands through my hair, wearing my same wrinkled red party dress from last night and we ran hand in hand out of that motel in the Valley and caught a cab to my favorite part of downtown. First I took him to my favorite ice cream parlor and we got cones stacked with scoops as high as they would go and we sat outside in the sun trying to see who could eat theirs the fastest without letting it melt or getting a brain freeze. “I feel like you’re cheating.” Theon laughed, his face covered in green mint flavored ice cream. “You seem to have some experience in this.”

I shook my head. “Maybe if you didn’t talk so much you wouldn’t be losing.” I said and stuck my tongue out at him.

After ice cream, we ran up the sidewalk, probably looking like a couple of crazy people, but we didn’t care, and we ducked into an arcade. The little electronic noises from all of the machines reminding me of being a kid. “You might have won with the ice cream, but I’m about to kick that little princess butt of yours at this.” He said, gesturing around the dark lit room.

“Oh, don’t be so sure, Mr.” I grinned confidently. “You don’t know what kind of skills I have.” I joked, although I proved it to be true. It wasn’t a ‘cool’ talent, but I used to frequent arcades with my dad when I was little and we were close. He would tell my mom that he was taking me to piano lessons, but we’d really come here.

We ran around the arcade, playing, laughing, and sometimes taking short breaks to make out when no one was looking. After an hour and being beaten on over half of the games, Theon turned to me with a look of awe on his masculine face. “Princess may need a new nickname.” He chuckled warmly. “Badass, maybe?” He raised an eyebrow.

I inched up on my tippy toes and kissed him quickly. “No, I like princess just fine.” I grinned. “Now come on, I’ll let you beat me in air hockey.” I winked.

We were running out of time fast when we left there, but I wasn’t ready to lose him just yet. “You ready for the best sushi you’ve ever had in all of your life?”

He narrowed his eyes at me, those gorgeous eyes in the sunshine were breath taking. “I live on an island, I think I have had better sushi than you.”

“You’re incorrect.” I assured him.

After we’d finished eating, he agreed that I had won again. He checked the time on his phone and looked up at me under his thick lashes and smiled lightly, but it was a sad smile and I knew what it meant. “It’s almost time.” He said softly.

I reached out for his hand. “I know.” I nodded. “You promise you’ll come back?”

“Of course.”

“Good.” I smiled, standing from my seat and pushing my chair under the table. “I can hardly wait.”

He kissed me, ignoring the onlookers in the restaurant. “I’ll miss doing that.” He whispered against my lips.

I put my hands up into his hair, pulling him back again to kiss him harder, my lips parting slightly. “I’ll miss doing that.” I whispered breathlessly.

We cuddled in the back of the cab on the way to LAX. I breathed him in, feeling so loved as he ran his hands through my hair slowly and rubbed his foot against my leg. “I don’t want you to be sad.” He said softly as the cab pulled to a stop at the curb.

I looked up into his eyes. “I’m not sad.” I said truthfully. “I’m happy.”

Theon brushed my hair behind my ear and kissed me so softly it was almost like a breath of a kiss. “I’m happy too, Serena.” He smiled. “I’m glad I decided to come.”

“Me too.” I nodded, resisting the shutter at the thought that if he hadn’t come I might still be hating life with Asher and not knowing that he had screwed me over the way he had. “I’ll be here waiting for you to come back, and you better call me all the time and tell Tally how much I miss her, and that I kicked you butt while you were here. She’ll love to hear that.”

Theon laughed, the hearty sound of it warming my heart. “You’re right, she will.” He agreed. “I will call you as soon as I get home.” He promised. “Come here.”

I leaned into him and he hugged me tightly, kissing the top of my head. “I’ll see you soon, princess.” He smiled, the tiniest amount of moisture in his eyes as he opened the cab door.

“You better.” I nodded. “Have a safe flight, Theon.”

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” I could feel the tears coming, so I leaned in to hug him one more time and gave him a quick kiss on the lips so that I could compose myself. Theon has enough on his plate without needing to worry about me.

We shared one more smile before he slid out of the cab, the ice cream stain on his shirt making me laugh as he walked away, heading into the terminal.

I rode back to my house somberly. Our last goodbye had been so much harder because there were things that needed to be said, but were held back, and also, we thought we’d never see each other again. This time it wasn’t goodbye, it was goodbye for a little while and I’ll talk to you in a couple of hours. I feel secure enough in what Theon and I have not to worry about not being able to see him for a few weeks. If I only saw him for one day out of a year, I think I could still be ok. He loves me and I love him, and there isn’t anything artificial about it like it was with Asher. Theon and I are pure emotion. The fact that he is freaking hot is just an added bonus.

My black phone rang in my lap and I saw a number, a number I knew, but that no longer had a name. My dad must have given him the number. I ignored him, having nothing left to say to a liar like him. But when the cab pulled up to my driveway and I got out, I saw Asher sitting by the front gate.

I paid the driver, fully intent to ignore Asher’s very existence. “Serena.” He called, standing up and coming towards me. “Look, you can’t ignore me.” He insisted. “I did this for us.”

My whole ignoring plan went out the window. “No.” I said evenly. “You did what you did for you.”

Asher shook his head but then he looked down at me. “Where have you been?” He asked suspiciously. “Why are you still wearing that?”

“Those are two questions you no longer get to know the answer to.” I told him as I keyed in the code for the gate. He tried to follow me, but I narrowed my eyes. “Don’t make me call the police because there is some shady stalker trespassing on my property.”

He backed up and gave me a hard look. “You’ve changed.” He said, shaking his head like it was an awful thing.

I nodded and smiled. “Yeah.” I said. “Yeah, I have.”

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