Since Ava had been allegedly attacked by Annika, Beck had tried to be by her side as much as he could. That was impossible as Bruce wouldn’t let him to get close to her. Then there was the fact that guilt couldn’t let him show his face to her.
Why did Annika have to ruin his life? Her death should have been his chance of freedom. However, it imprisoned in the worse way he could ever imagine. He had finally found a woman he was sure he could love if they had the time to build their relationship and hopefully start life afresh with, but Annika’s haunting was going to cost him his chance at love and freedom.
Right after Dr. Bernard left Ava’s ward, after she’d discussed with him that she needed to be with her sister for an hour and didn’t want any disturbance, he lied beside her on her hospital bed, reading to her the novel Bruce had gotten for her from home.
Though he read, his mind was far in the future when Anna would be conscious once more and force the truth out of him. She’d already been upset at the final moments of the ritual. Now, that she’d exchanged words with Sara, there was a chance she would have known that even the tales of the townspeople weren’t true as well.
He thought he should have affirmed the story Sara gave Ava. Now, when he’d be forced to tell the truth, she’d hate him and probably never want to speak with him again. He simply wished Ava couldn’t have asked for Sara’s presence and demanded that she should do whatever she could to save Anna. He didn’t understand why she changed her mind by this morning after Sara’s visit the previous day.
He stopped and looked down at Ava, thinking that it was better he confessed now than later.
“Why’d you stop?” she asked, looking up at him.
“I need to tell you something important.”
She sat up. “What’s that?”
“I lied to you, about a lot of things. And you probably are going to hate me after I tell you.”
Ava squeezed her mouth. He couldn’t read her facial expression and that left him uneasy.
“Ha!” he said, lightly pinching the bridge of her nose. “I got you!”
“I was just kidding!” He burst into laughter.
“Oh!” She chuckled, though she didn’t seem amused. “I really taught you were serious.”
I was! But he couldn’t bring himself to tell her. Her straight face had made him wonder the aftermath. After concluding that it wouldn’t end well he decided he would enjoy his blissful moments with her till his truth would ruin it.
He shook his head while smiling. “I wasn’t.” He chuckled. “I wanted to see your reaction.”
“Well, it’s a good thing it was a joke. I hate it when a man I’m trying to get intimate with lies to me.”
He gasped at her words. She too had her eyes wide open.
“I . . . I . . . uh . . .”
He smirked at her. “You want to get intimate with me?”
She swallowed as she stared at him. Then she turned her face away as her cheeks turned red.
He held her chin and turned her face to meet his. Her eyes met his, full of desire and want. His mouth became watery as he stared back at her the same way she did him. Then his eyes went to her lips. Though they looked small and rough he still wanted to taste them one more time before he never would.
He leaned forward and settled his lips on her, holding his breath at the contact. Ava’s reaction got the better of him as he felt his manhood react slowly to her touch on his chest. He held her chin and drove his tongue deep into her mouth, savoring its bitter taste and drowning in her melodious moans.
“Ahem,” he heard at the moment his hand slowly made way to grab her breast.
They both let of each other as if the other were on fire. As he glanced at the entrance of the ward, there stood Bruce with two paper cups in his hands and a scowl on his face. If Beck were younger than Bruce, Beck sure as hell would be afraid of what Bruce would do to him.
Sara stood beside him with a very big red handbag hanging on her shoulder, looking pitiful. He turned his head away knowing that she knew how things would turn out once Anna was up.
“I’ll set up for the ritual,” Sara said.
As she turned to go, Beck said, “I’ll help.”
She stopped and turned around while he climbed down the bed. He took one cup from Bruce, who still scowled at him, smiled a little, and nodded at him before grabbing Sara by the arm and pulling her out the door. Once they were out, he let go of her, taking a sip of the smoothie in his hand.
None of them commented on what had just happened as they made their way to Anna’s ward, being discreet in not letting any medical worker catch them. They got in when no one was around.
No one said anything throughout the time he placed the red candles on the floor in a rectangular format big enough for Anna’s body to be placed in while Sara dressed Anna out of the white dress she wore for the other ritual into a red dress. That was after she had used the light blue curtains to cover the window of the ward.
As he lit the candles with a lighter, she cut a little of Anna’s hair and put it in a small wooden calabash. She also cut a nail from a finger and using a razor, cut some skin off her finger, ensuring that no blood was spilled. She placed them also in the calabash and gave it to him to light up the content.
After the hair, skin, and nail were burned to ashes, she cut open a finger a little bit, letting the blood flow into the calabash of ash. As she mixed the blood with the ash, Ava and Bruce came in.
Without looking, Sara said to Bruce and Beck, “Put her in the middle of the candles.”
He went to the bed, likewise Ava and Bruce. With direction from Ava, he and Bruce removed the equipment attached to the young girl’s body. After that, he picked her by circling his arm around her armpit while Bruce picked her up by her legs. They gently carried her to the space in between the candles and slowly placed her there, putting her hands by her side.
They moved away while Sara moved there. Once they stood by Ava, Sara began chanting in a language he didn’t know. He guessed it to be the usual language she chanted in whenever she wanted to do anything that concerned the supernatural.
With the calabash in her hand she went to kneel at Anna’s head. She opened her mouth slightly and poured the mixture into her mouth. She dropped the calabash and spread out her arms and continued chanting, this time saying, “Let the soul of this body bind with it as this potion made of the essence of the body binds with it.”
Then, the lights in the room blinked as the machines beeped. Red smoke rose from the floor, filling the room slowly as Sara continued chanting—getting louder and aggressive—both in English and the foreign language.
All of a sudden the blinking and beeping stopped, leaving them in darkness. There was silence and stillness for a moment before the lights and machines came on.
Then, there was a loud gasp. Beck glanced at the floor where Anna was. She was coughing as she tried to sit up. As he still digested the sight of her moving herself, Ava rushed from his side to hers and Bruce followed behind her. At that moment, he noticed the candles weren’t lit.
Sara helped her to sit up. She hadn’t stopped coughing. The potion spilled onto the red dress, being almost invisible as because of the color of the dress. He watched as Ava comforted her and guided her to breathe normally.
As soon as she was able to take breaths with ease, she hugged Ava, expressing how much she regretted not listening to her the day she disappeared. She hugged Bruce too and Sara, being grateful to Sara for helping out.
Beck took that moment as his cue to disappear as she obviously wouldn’t be grateful to him for anything.
Just as he turned around, the very word she said when she laid eyes on him at the cabin the same night she supposedly died echoed in his ears. He froze, not turning to face her.
“This is entirely your fault!” Anna said, her voice so cold. “Things wouldn’t be this way if you had just told us the truth!”
He scoffed and turned around, getting a bit angry. “I highly doubt that. Seeing as you still got lost despite the story I told, you still would have wanted to”—he raised his hands to form an air quote—“‘explore the woods’.”
“What you guys talking about?” Ava asked. He looked at her, seeing confusion on her beautiful face.
“You know that story,” Anna said to Ava, her eyes never leaving Beck’s, “Sara told you yesterday?”
“Well, that’s what really happened. And for whatever reason best known to him, he didn’t admit to it.”
Ava removed her gaze on Anna and fixed it on him. She stepped close to him. “Is it true: what she said?”
He bowed his head. She was disappointed: he knew that. Though they hadn’t known each other too well, he was sure that this revelation would be the end of the life he could build with her. Yes, he knew that they probably wouldn’t last, nonetheless he needed her to start life afresh; that was his plan if the curse had been broken. Now, she would never be part of it. He didn’t know anyone that would help without having to fear they might try to hurt him in the process. He thought she would be his best chance at starting afresh, even if they didn’t have feelings for each other.
“You lied to me. I told you I don’t like it when men I try to get intimate with lie to me but you did anyway.”
“You wanted to sleep with him?” Bruce put in, sounding upset.
Beck ignored him, saying to Ava, “I already lied before you told me that.”
“And you think that’s an excuse? What prevented you from telling me at the time I said that? And that was literally about an hour ago.”
“I . . .”
“Have you suddenly become speechless?”
“I knew you would be mad anytime you found out so I decided it would be when Anna woke because I knew she’d make sure you knew. I wanted to enjoy the moments I had with you. I can already hear your mind telling you I’m selfish—”
“You think!” Anna interrupted.
“—but I really like you, Ava. It’s been years since I felt this way about anyone. I don’t know why but I’m very attracted to you. I just wanted to enjoy the feeling while it lasted before I’d feel rejected.
“Anyway, I’d be out of your life now. Sara said I have to stay away because Annika could hurt you if I didn’t. I just wanted make sure Anna was alright before I’d be gone.” He looked at Anna. “Thanks for trying to break the curse.” He looked at Ava one more time. “I’ll figure out a way to deal with Annika. Besides, this was all my fault, right?” He looked at Anna one more time before turning to go.