Drip, drop, drip, drop, sounded the rain on the roof. In the last thirty minutes, that had been one of the things keeping Beck awake. The other was the fact he hadn’t said the part of the story that would really trigger them to get back on the road, only for them to walk right into the trap.
Deciding to tell at least one of them, he got out of bed and exited the room.
Stealthily, he opened a door, hoping it was Ava’s room. In the room, there was no light; the only form was that of moonlight through the window, which was faint. He tiptoed to the bed and lied beside the girl, leaning on his elbow. He stroked her hair away from her face, and with the moonlight he saw it was the one he wanted to see.
He stared at her profile, admiring her set jaw and smooth cheek. He wished the light was bright so he could register more of her features in his mind.
Remembering that he came for something else, he tapped her gently, softly calling her name and telling her to wake up.
Soon, her eyes fluttered open. She groaned before their eyes met. Her cerulean orbs were narrowed at his dark brown ones. “Beck, what are you doing here?”
“I wanted to tell you about something.”
She sat upright and rubbed her eyes. “What is it?” she sleepily mumbled.
“It’s about these woods.”
His statement caught her attention because she stopped rubbing her eyes and stared right into his. Her brows were now furrowed. “What about it?”
“I didn’t tell you the full story of this place. You guys wanted to sleep so I couldn’t finish.”
She shifted on the bed to face him very well. “What’s the full story?”
“First of all, you’ll have to leave here as soon as you can. The ghost once in a while visits this cabin.”
“What?” she exclaimed, her eyes already as wide as their country. She clasped her hands, fiddled with her fingers, and shouted, “Why the hell didn’t you say that?”
He put his hand over her mouth. “Don’t shout. Anna could hear us.” He brought his hand down. “I rarely stay here to avoid the ghost. I’ve never heard of any attack in the town, so I think the ghost is stuck in only the woods. That’s why I sometimes spend the night there.” The real truth was that the so called ghost only visited the cabin when he was alone after the failed sacrifices. She usually came to remind him that once the curse was broken sheʼd still have him.
He continued: “And, the place your car is right now is where I usually find dead bodies. I’m also guessing that’s where the person died. You know, ’cause people always die there.” That was true actually. It was the place where the woman who cursed him did so in her dying moment.
“But, Beck, there’s no way we could leave so soon even if we wanted to.”
His brows were furrowed. “Why’s that?”
“We don’t have gas, the battery’s dead, I and Anna are miles away from home, and there’s no way we can communicate with the outside world. Heck! Our G.P.S. doesn’t work anymore.”
Knowing that it was a result of the supernatural effect of the curse, he said the usual: “There’s a gas station at the town, so I can get some gas from there. I also know someone there who could help with the battery. But everything would take about two to four days because of the distance. Then, you and Anna can leave.”
She tilted her head to the side. “You know, you can come with us. I’ll make sure you start life afresh. That is if you don’t want to stay at Strangeville.” She had that same hopeful demeanor she had before they went to bed: the one which she looked like she pitied him.
This was the first time someone offered him what Ava just did. For a moment he wondered how there were still kindhearted people in the world. Or was her offer just an act?
He shifted his gaze away from her. “I’ve thought about that too.” He looked her way. “You really want me to come with you?”
“Sure. I could also find a way to let the government know about these woods. I’m sure if they knew how dangerous that road is, they’d do something about it.”
“You could really do that?”
“Of course I can. After all, I’m a citizen.”
“Don’t you think they might not believe the story?”
“You’re proof. And I’m sure if they investigate on the corpses you found, they’ll know you’re telling the truth. I just hope the bodies are in a place for that to happen.”
“Actually, they’re burned. The people in Strangeville didn’t want to keep burying them. If they did, there won’t be any more land for that.”
Both of them were quiet for a while before he sighed and said, “If things go as planned, I’d go with you.”
She smiled at him, seeming happy that he accepted her offer.
He got down from the bed. “You should get some sleep now. I’m sorry I bothered you.”
She gave a little smile. “Don’t be sorry.”
He turned around to go.
“Beck?” Ava called, causing him to face her.
He raised his brows. “Yes.”
“When are you going to have a haircut and shave? No offence, but I really don’t like seeing unkempt hair all over your face. It makes you look like a bear.”
“A bear you say?”
She shyly smiled at him. “That was what I thought of when I first sighted you.”
Unbelievable! She thought he was a bear! The townspeople had several nicknames for him—brunet Santa Claus, Abraham Lincoln, hair farmer—but never had he thought anyone would call him a bear. Was it that bad?
He wasn’t offended though; it was actually funny to him. So, perhaps it was high time he got a new look.
He tilted his head to the side, chuckling. “Do you want to give me a haircut?”
She shrugged. “If it’s okay with you, I could do it. But know that you’re probably not going to like the outcome. I suck.”
He smirked. “I don’t think I would mind.”
Within himself, a part of him was murdering the other, the one which drove him to suggest she could trim his hair. Why was he agreeing to let her do what she wanted? Why did he even ask her if she could? There were people he knew who could cut his hair for him while he would shave himself. Also, he had already told himself he wasn’t going to change his looks because of her.
He narrowed his eyes at Ava, being skeptical about who she truly was. Was she a witch who was able to change the thinking of men with her ravishing looks? What he had seen before she took her bath—and even when he explained the situation to her and Anna—was nothing compared to what he was staring at presently. Ava was truly an eye-catching beauty.
The way the nightdress on her hugged her sexy toned body knotted his stomach. He badly wanted to have her body against his. His eyes landed on her open cleavage, the area he’d been avoiding since he saw her in that dress. Her breasts looked so round and firm he felt like stepping closer and grabbing them in his hands; even the way her fair hair fell on her shoulders and back gradually woke the thing south of him.
His fingers formed a tight fist, his jaw clenched, and he bit the walls of his mouth. Was it really that long since he had a woman in his arms? He needed to get a hold of himself and his mind off Ava. He had finally admitted she was attractive, and that was all; he wasn’t going to start thinking of starting something with her. It was too soon. Besides, it wasn’t like he might ever see her after the end of the week.
He raised his eyes to stare one last time at hers. She too stared at him, as if in awe, with her mouth slightly agape.
He narrowed his eyes at her. “Why are you staring at me like that?”
She shut her eyes and opened them immediately. “I know Anna’s eyes are beautiful, but your shade of brown is just so . . .”
He raised a brow in a questioning manner.
“I can’t describe it.”
So . . . she too admires my eyes. His lips formed a complacent smile. “Ava, there are many English words to describe my eyes, so . . . you might want to try again.”
They locked gazes for a few seconds before she said, “They’re breathtakingly beautiful. I could stare at them forever and still not want to look away.”
He perfected the smile. “I could say the same for your eyes but . . . .”
She lightly tilted her head. “What?”
“I’ll leave my opinion to myself.”
He saluted with his hand like a soldier. “Night, Ava.” He wasted no time in getting out of there.
“Ava,” he whispered once he shut the door. Her name sounded so sweet in his mouth.
Beck shook his head, trying to shake out the thoughts of her. There was no point dwelling on them as he’d soon forget she ever existed. Once she was used to break the curse, he’d forget about her if it didn’t work; if it worked, she’d hate him and go back on her word of helping him start life afresh. He simply needed to be free, not to feel euphoric or handsome like in the days he was young.
“Remember the lesson of Annika, Beck:” he whispered, convincing himself, “never fall for a woman ’cause they’re all the same.” He nodded before advancing to his bedroom.