The Beauty of Grey

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Chapter 25

Chapter contains sexual content.

*

Sleep came and went sporadically. Wakefulness and restfulness meshed into one, and at some point I stopped trying to decipher which was which. I just allowed the swirls of black and the wisps of white to mingle and create streaks of grey. Everything seemed so dark, even in my dreams.

When I was awake, and was able to stay awake, it was light outside. But there was no sun. A blanket of grey hung in the sky like smoke, thick enough where the outline of the sun couldn’t be distinguished. My nose twitched as I picked up the smell of appending rain, my skin feeling sticky with anticipation...and sweat. It felt strange, being able to predict the weather on a more personal level.

I was alone, which was mostly a relief—although also, in a way, unusual. I remembered Zacharias had told me I was going to need him last night, and that he would be there. But he wasn’t there, and he hadn’t been there at all since he left. I wondered for a moment if he ran for the hills, then wondered if he was going to run back. And I hated that it mattered.

My undergarments were still soaked from my body-wide perspiration. I was thankful it was cool in the room, because my sweat glands were closed and production was inhibited. I needed to have a shower. I felt grimy and gross.

I sat up slowly, my joints feeling as though they needed to be oiled. I was rusty and creaky, like a tin man beginning to oxidize. I winced as I straightened my back, feeling the muscles pull, and hearing them pop as I stretched. How stiff I was. But at least the worst part was over. At least, I believed it was over. I hoped the pain wouldn’t return again tonight. Or any other night.

But I knew this would be a new common theme, excruciating agony every full moon. I worried my lip as I stood to my feet, doubtful that I would ever get used to the pain. How could I get used to it? It was almost as if it was a punishment for not being able to shift; for not possessing the exact same traits as Zacharias. As if my imitation genes weren’t suitable or patriotic enough. Therefore, I needed the pain to remind me what I was missing out on. What a waste.

The window was still open. Well, of course it was. I definitely didn’t have the strength to open and close it, and the open window proved Zacharias hadn’t returned during one of my unconscious phases. I pondered if him and his pack had run the whole night, and felt abstrusely jealous. They had been able to run effortlessly, while I was paralyzed by agony. I huffed, but swallowed down the bitter envy.

I tried to turn away from the window, but instead found myself strangely drawn to it; compelled to approach it. Again, I tried to turn away. But to no avail. I knew that I absolutely had to step outside or my desire would never be satisfied, like a thirst that couldn’t be quenched even with gallons of water.

I stole a shirt from one of Zacharias’ drawers, feeling perturbed with the thought of going outside in only a bra and panties. It was a black t-shirt that came down to my knees, covering the vital areas. I ran my hands over the fabric before I approached the window bench, resting my knees on the bench, gripping the sill with my fingers.

I inhaled the sweet, musty air and closed my eyes. For a second I was brought back to the first time I had tried to escape while being here. I remembered crawling on my knees, cracking what seemed like an airtight seal on the window, slowly crawling backwards on the wooden shingles, then hanging off the edge of the steep roof and dropping. I remembered the fear and adrenaline that had mixed with one another.

But the fear...

I remembered thinking that this place was a cult, or a village of brothels. I remembered running and running and running for my life, then falling to what felt like my death after being pursued by the wolves. I remembered Zacharias coming to my aid, then revealing to me once he brought me back to his cabin how he was one of the very things I had tried to outrun. I remembered trying to run over and over again, until I accepted I could run no more. And that was only recent.

I swallowed, feeling my chest and abdomen clenching. Suddenly I felt suffocated by grief, as if mourning my will and bullheadedness that I possessed upon arrival. I felt disappointed with how I was behaving now...easygoing and just...going-with-the-flow. When had I become so passive?

I stepped out onto the roof, throwing my caution to the wind as I stood strong on my legs. A gust of wind rustled the shamrock-green leaves of the trees, sending a flock of chickadees fleeing from one of the left-bound canopies. But I still stood firm and rooted. My hair whipped around me wildly, the t-shirt blew up like Marilyn Monroe’s white dress; however, I didn’t try to suppress the billowing fabric.

For a moment I wished the window would falter and lock me out. Even as I stood on the roof, I knew that I couldn’t try to make a run for it again—at least, not with the window open. The open window, it seemed in that moment, was a window to hell as I stood in purgatory. The world below me was heaven, and I wasn’t allowed to have another taste.

And then I wished the shingles would slide out from underneath me and send me flying down the roof. I hoped that I would scream bloody murder and alert the whole territory of my plummeting presence, then land in such a way that I break my neck. I was a person of vengeance I realized, just wanting to hurt everyone Zacharias was associated with. I couldn’t help myself.

I walked forward until my toes were balanced on the gutters, the rest of my feet still on the wooden shingles. I looked directly down, distinguishing the height. It was at least a ten foot drop, maybe the height of two me’s standing on top of one another. I had used to be afraid of heights, but looking down at the ground...I felt nothing. Feared nothing.

Would this kill me? With my mutated cells, would I be nearly invincible like Zacharias? Would a drop like this even do any damage to me? I felt tenuous in that moment. Never before had I felt so small even as I stood so tall. It was like nature was tormenting me, reminding me I would only ever be a half-breed; never fully human, never fully beast.

The trees began to shake far in the distance, but no longer from the sharp gusts of wind. They shook section by section, row by row. I inhaled, and even from where I stood I was able to make out the smell of their wildness. The wolves were returning. And Zacharias led them. His smell was overpowering, wafting into my body through my nose and mouth. I realized I needed to get away.

So like a coward I ran up the roof and snuck back inside, pretending as if I had never stepped a foot into the outside.

I ran the shower water until it was nearly scolding and stepped inside. I sighed as the steaming water rained onto my body, the hot mist making it hard to breathe. I needed to clear my head of my pity and nonsense. I was better than that.

The water offered me clarity, and I needed as much clarity as I could get. My thoughts had been so distorted and malicious and, quite literally, rancorous. I reminded myself that I wouldn’t be in this cabin forever...Zacharias had told me that. Unless that was a plot to butter me up before he broke the news: Hey, Edie, I actually pulled your leg! You’ll be staying here for the rest of your forsaken life!

I winced at the thought as if I had been slapped. Uncool, I thought childishly, uncool...

The door opened, but I felt no sense of panic. He smelt as wild as ever, hints of pine, soil, pollen and dew lingering on his skin like cologne. He had come in uninvited, but I was in no mood to kick him out. How odd it felt, wanting someone I had loathed so endlessly to just stay with me for a little while. A suppressed part of me wanted to scream at him to go away.

I stepped forward in the shower as the curtain rustled from behind me. I began to feel subconscious about my nude body, and weakly covered my breasts with my forearms. Zacharias had the type of persona that could either put me at ease or put me on edge. Right now, I was very on edge.

“Edie,” he breathed as he stood behind me in the shower, closing the curtain behind him. I chewed on my lip, closing my eyes. I was aware of how my soaked hair covered most of my face, making me struggle for breath on top of the thickness of the mist. ”My Edie.”

I dropped my chin to my chest, my whole body tensing and bristling at his presence. My legs ached with the urge to run for the hills, but unlike Zacharias if I ran for the hills I had no intentions of coming back. My lips suddenly felt dry, even as water streamed over them.

“I longed for you to run with me,” he said, my body tingling to the point of stinging as he took a step nearer to me. “I long for you, always. You will always overpower my thoughts.”

And you overpower mine, I thought but didn’t utter.

He took another step closer to me. His finger brushed against my pelvis, scraping backwards until it rested on my hip. “You are the greatest thing to have ever happened to me,” he pressed himself flush against my back, his hard manhood digging into me. “But you will be my greatest downfall.”

I licked my lips, took a gulp of misty air, failed to take a deep breath.

“You will lead to my demise,” he told me. “I know it.”

I wanted to speak to him, but the words formed and simply dissolved on my tongue. Jesus, now I knew what those lovestruck teens were always talking about in their books. Zacharias had an influence on me that veered me off the route of normal thinking. The map of my mind could barely keep up. Although I believed I was past the point of trying.

“Chasing you will be a slow death. I know, even with everything that affixes us, you will never completely reveal yourself to me,” his other hand rested on my other hip. Slowly his hands moved forward until they were laced together and rested against the skin just above my bellybutton. “I have to accept the constant strain between us. I’m sorry for everything I’ve ever done to you.”

My eyes opened and I stared only straight ahead, never looking back.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t be what you needed me to be. I will forever live with that guilt,” his muscled arms tightened around me, locking me in like a vice. “I want you to know that you are innocent in all of this. The remorse is only mine to carry. I’m taking all of the blame.”

One of the novelties of shame.

Suddenly, he removed his arms from around me, but quickly rested his hands on my waist as if expecting I’d make a break for it. Gently but doggedly he urged me to spin around to face him. My feet couldn’t seem to turn me around slowly enough, as if beneath it all I was expecting more violence from him. I realized that, beneath it all, I was.

I knew, then, that I would never feel fully safe in his presence, even if I were to ever manage to find comfort within him. Zacharias was right, there would always be a constant strain between us. It felt good to know I absolved myself from any blame, and I would have even if Zacharias hadn’t just confessed to me that he would take all of it. And he was right, I was innocent in all of this. Just a victim of circumstance, trying to survive.

Even if surviving meant I had my guilty pleasures.

My forearms still rested vertically on my breasts as I fully faced Zacharias. I swallowed nervously, even as my face still remained concealed by my hair. I closed my eyes again, overwhelmed by the minimal distance between us. My knees had that weak feeling all over again.

“I will never stop feeling what I feel towards you,” he reassured me. “Even though I know you might never return it.”

His hand, then, began to smooth my soaked hair away from my face, brushing it back messily and sloppily. Through the stream of water running down my face, I managed to open my eyes and look up at him. His eyes, such a bright and lively colour, had never looked so calm; like a field of grass on a windless day.

His eyes stayed locked on mine as his hands lowered to cup my cheeks. Slowly, he leant in until his lips settled over mine. For a second I was stunned, until he began to deepen the kiss. My body was still, but my lips moved against his. I felt my insides stir as turmoil rushed back into its rightful place.

I felt as though I was suffocating, the combination of Zacharias and the water withholding my breaths. At some point I gasped for just one, then Zacharias was kissing me again. His hands worked from my jaw back into my hairline as he closed the hair-breath of distance between us, our bodies fitting together like two jigsaw pieces.

My arms broke free from my chest so my hands could rest on Zacharias’. He was warm from the water, warmer than I felt, and I found myself moulding further into him. My hands wandered over his flesh, feeling his smooth, tan skin. The shower water seemed to glue us together. Both of us, needy for one another.

His hands, in a split second, were on my waist, and he was hoisting me up. Picking up on what he wanted, I wrapped my legs around his abdomen as he walked us forward, my back hitting the shower wall behind us. The wall shook, forcing me to grip Zacharias tightly for a second as I gasped, but the moment passed quickly and we were kissing once again.

His manhood was hard, pressing into the flesh just below my bellybutton. I felt myself getting excited as I realized what he was planning to do. I realized how badly I wanted this...craved it, even. I had never wanted Zacharias more than I wanted him in that very moment. I began to tremble all over, silently begging for him to do what I needed him to do. Just...satisfy me.

“Do you want me, Edie?” He asked as if he couldn’t sense that I did, in fact, want him.

“Yes.” I whispered, nearly inaudible even to myself above the roar of the shower.

“Tell me you want me,” Zacharias said, pressing a chaste kiss to my lips before he started kissing my jaw. “Tell me you want me, Edie.”

“I want you, Zacharias.” And it was enough for him.

Hurriedly, he kissed me on the lips. He pulled away, looked me in the eyes, and kissed me again. When he pulled away the next time, he buried his face in the crook of my neck, one of his hands wrapping around my nape, breaking a path through my clumped hair.

Slowly, carefully, he edged his way into my womanhood. Just the tip, teasing me to the point my hands fisted his hair in frustration. This was like him, slow, calculating—and, in a morbid way, playful.

He slid the rest of himself inside of me, proving how drastic his length and girth really was. A squeak passed out of my lips before I had the time to suppress it, and my grip on Zacharias’ hair faltered greatly. I didn’t know what I expected. Instantaneous relief, pleasure, complete and utter weightlessness. But, all I could feel was pain.

He hurt so bad it felt like I was losing my virginity all over again.

I felt my body go slack, but I felt heavy rather than weightless. Zacharias, unbothered, supported my weight as he began to slowly thrust; breaking me in instead of shredding me in half. It was in little moments like this I understood that he cared in his own strange, unearthly way.

My hands left his hair, and instead I wrapped my arms around his neck as he kept his face buried in mine. He was still going slowly, perhaps waiting for me to get comfortable before he began to pick up speed. I was grateful he knew what he was doing, instead of just going jackhammer like a teenage boy.

He kissed the skin in the crook of my neck as he slowly began to pick up speed, each thrust just barely faster than the last. His body rocked with mine, causing the wall behind us to continuously shake. However, it felt easier to ignore now. All I could focus on was Zacharias. The world, at times, seemed to revolve around him and him only. This was one of those times.

I felt his breaths pick up against my skin, even hotter than the water. I bit my lip to prevent myself from crying out or making sound, only because I had always viewed those wails and loud moans to be nothing but mood killers. It took all I had, however, to stay quiet.

For every breath he took there was a thrust. I bit my lip hard enough that I tasted blood. There was nothing but fire and agony in my womanhood, to the point I felt my eyes sting as I threw my head back, facing the ceiling. Zacharias followed my movements, keeping his face in my neck. I could pinpoint the exact moment his lips brushed where he placed his mark, because a chill lapsed throughout my body and I shuddered.

He knew, then, what to do. He suckled on the skin where the mark was placed, which sent a euphoric feeling into my veins, slowing my mind and the air around me. I closed my eyes as a puff of air wheezed from my opened mouth. I tensed myself for a moment, before I fell slack once more. And I was able to feel the weightlessness.

Zacharias was going full speed, thrusting rapidly as our bodies jostled against one another. I discontinued biting my lip, allowing my breaths to become synchronized with Zacharias’. Both of us were breathing heavily, desperately, feeling our essences mix with one another. My hands flew out, removing themselves from Zacharias’ neck.

One hand gripped the shower curtain, and the other laid flat against the wall to my left. I found my hips, subconsciously, jutting into Zacharias, helping him to please me. My stomach rolled and coiled with every pant I released and every breath I took in.

And then he stopped, falling slack against me as I opened my eyes. For a second I thought we would collapse onto the bathtub floor, but Zacharias recovered quickly. He pulled his face from my neck and looked me straight in the eye, his pupils taking over his irises. “Edie...”

I kissed him on the lips, shushing him. He took the hint, still remaining inside of me, his face back in my neck. He picked up his thrusts again, my hips matching his speed, and even though there was hardly ten seconds of pause, I had to get used to the feeling of him again. Once I did, however, I was able to appreciate what he could do.

And I...I knew what this was. In our own secretive, sick fashion, this was our way of saying goodbye to one another—a fuck and chuck.

He was going to have sex with me, then he was going to send me away, and who’s to say we would ever see each other again? I still felt like I was planning my life around Zacharias. I hadn’t even been here a month, but I had nearly forgotten what life without Zacharias was like. He had been so predominant around me that it was hard to imagine him as not there.

But I had lived nineteen years without him, and I knew I would be able to do the rest of my life without him despite what we shared.

Zacharias stopped, and slowly slid himself out of me; his seed spraying onto my thigh. Again, he kissed me on the lips; although I felt so weakened I could hardly return it. We both were still breathing heavily. The hot water behind us encased us in a suffocating heat. I couldn’t tell if my body was covered in water or more sweat.

“Edie, I—”

“No,” I said, already knowing what he was going to say. I didn’t think I could take it. It would’ve been too much for me to come to terms with. I didn’t know how I knew he was going to say it...I just, knew. It was just one of those premonitions, I guess. “Please, not now. Not like this.” Not ever.

“Edie, please,” he pleaded with me. As he looked at me, I realized his desperation. And I realized I needed to root my feet onto something solid again. I unwrapped my legs from Zacharias, and he let me down onto the ground. I took my hand from the shower curtain and wiped him off of my leg. “Edie, let me say it. I need to say it. Please.”

I shook my head, pursing my lips. I looked up at him with wide eyes, my vulnerability exposed. “Zacharias, please don’t,” it was my turn to plead. “Not like this...not like this."

Again, he kissed me on the lips, then rested his forehead against mine. I clenched my eyes shut, bracing for the blow.

“Edie, I love you.”

A sob wracked my throat, and tears threatened to fall from my eyes; but threatened was all they did. I found myself slowly nodding, as if declaring my acceptance, before I ran my hand free of Zacharias through his hair. I didn’t know what to do, didn’t know how to respond. I wished he hadn’t said it at all, because it left a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach. Now, things were different. Entirely.

I stepped away from him because it seemed to be the only suitable thing to do. My back hit the shower wall, and I gave Zacharias a sad smile as I slid down onto my rear. Zacharias, although delayed, returned my nod before he stepped out of the shower, then left the room; closing the door behind him.

I felt unattached in that moment. The final blow, they say, is the most painful. Zacharias had brought me great pain, but nothing as painful as this. This made things so much more serious and detrimental. And now I was going away. Was this, somehow in aggregate, Zacharias’ finale of a fuck you to me?

It was easier to think of it that way. But that wasn’t what it was.

Zacharias had given me a gift, and I realized that in my silence I had shunned it.

But I couldn’t say I loved him back if I didn’t love him back.

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