Shifting in the sheets, I sighed as I slowly awoke to the sound of a running shower. I buried my face deeper in my pillow, wondering what I should make for breakfast. Since Mari was already up I assumed she would be preparing it, though. I didn’t remember if we had any eggs left. Unless she bought them yesterday I didn’t think so.
I frowned as the water stopped, realizing that this scenario didn’t make much sense. Mari almost never woke up earlier than I did, nor did she take showers in the morning. Rubbing my eyes, I opened them. My frown deepened as I looked around the familiar yet unfamiliar room. My gaze landed on the wine glasses and the discarded bottle on the floor.
Groaning, my head fell back on my pillow.
Shawn, alcohol and a too comfortable hotel bed. I’d say he took advantage of my loneliness, but perhaps I had taken advantage of him just as much. And nothing serious had happened, so there wasn’t much to regret. Though, the idea of having something spontaneous to regret felt tempting. I couldn’t say I’d ever been in a situation like this before.
The door to the bathroom clicked as Shawn walked out. I peeked at him from over my shoulder as he dried his hair with the towel slung over his shoulders. Rather nice looking shoulders.
Before my eyes could wander any farther, a knock sounded on the door, followed by a feminine voice calling, “Room service!”
Shawn went to open the door and let the woman roll in her cart. She was young, probably younger than I was, with caramel skin and chocolate brown hair. She was both beautiful and adorable as she smiled. Though, I couldn’t help myself from noticing her dark eyes being practically glued to Shawn.
I shouldn’t have cared as much as I did.
“That would be all, thank you,” Shawn said, handing her some cash.
“If you don’t mind me asking, Mister Clifton,” she said in a honey sweet voice, “but why did you order so much food for just yourself? Or are you expecting someone?”
Shawn raised a brow, glancing over to where I lay. “You really don’t see her?”
“See who, Sir?” Her eyes went right through me as she glanced my way as well, confusion on her brow for a split second before her smile returned. “Would you like me to accompany you?”
“Please leave.” Shawn sighed, almost forcing her out of the room and slamming the door shut harder than necessary. “Would you like to take a shower before we eat or are you taking one after?”
Propping myself up on my elbows, I rolled over so I was facing him. And he was a lot less clothed than I expected. “I—I'll go after.”
A smug grin spread across his face as his eyes followed mine. I wanted to say I wasn’t checking every inch of his body out, but that would be the biggest and most obvious lie I ever told. He was slim with visible muscles, the kind one would expect on a model.
Shawn took a few steps closer, his fingers trailing over my exposed ankle as he bit his lip. “Like what you’re seeing?”
I pressed my lips together, gathering this wasn’t a question I should answer. Not if I wanted to come across as any other girl he has probably met. But I supposed that ship had sailed the moment I had turned to him. The shudder that ran through me at his touch wasn’t helping either.
“Not even the maid ogled me as intensely as you are doing right now.” Leaning forward, he put his hand on either side of me, the mattress sinking in under his weight. “And I think I’m kind of into it.”
Sucking in a sharp breath, I pulled my knees up to keep him from moving closer. “You’re just pretty to look at, nothing more.”
“You sure know how to charm a guy,” he said, turning his head to rest it on top of my knee. “Now, would you like to join me for breakfast?”
My shoulders relaxed, only then realizing how wildly my heart was beating in my chest. “Only if you put on some clothes.”
“Deal.” Placing a kiss on my knee, he pushed himself off the bed and turned to his suitcase at the other end of the room.
Holding my hand over my chest, I closed my eyes for a second to collect my thoughts. It was strange, to say the least. But as surprising as these sudden rush of feelings were, they weren’t unpleasant.
A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth. For the first time in a long while, I actually felt like I was alive, that I was living.
“Your hair,” I said as Shawn closed the door behind him, “it’s curly.”
“Clever observation, Miss Chenceller.” Shoving his hands in his coat pockets, he shot me a smug grin. “You could say it’s their natural state.”
I hummed, tilting my head at the golden strands. “It’s always styled in such a manner that I didn’t expect it to be naturally curly.”
The echo of our footsteps followed us until we reached the elevator. Shawn pressed the button before turning back to me. “And which do you prefer?”
Reaching out, I curled one of his strands around my finger before brushing it from his face. “I like the curls.”
Heat rose to my cheeks as I pulled back my hand, realizing what I had just done. Clearing my throat, I turned back to the elevator, glad to see it had arrived. I stepped inside, pressing the lobby button before standing in the back. Crossing my arms, I tried to avoid looking at Shawn until I was certain my cheeks were no longer red.
“Don’t hide it now.” As soon as the elevator doors closed, he stepped in front of me. “I want to see all of it.”
I laughed a bit nervously, looking to the side, at anything but him. “What is there to see?”
Shawn lifted my chin with his finger, forcing me to meet his gaze. Although his smile was soft, his eyes were needy, desperate almost. “I realized something the first time we met, when you stormed out.”
I swallowed, now unable to look away. “What?”
“I’ve been craving someone to look at me so badly,” he whispered. “And having you last night and this morning, you make me feel so alive with a single look.”
As much as this warmed me to my very core, it also left an icy chill. And as Shawn started to lean in closer, I didn’t hesitate to turn my head and push him away. He said exactly what I was feeling, and that was what made this all wrong.
“We probably shouldn’t,” I said, wrapping my hands around myself once again. “If the only reason you feel attracted to me is because I don’t look right through you, then what is the point? We barely know each other, and last night we were simply lonely.”
“What if that isn’t true?” He reached out to me, but I slipped past him, right as the doors to the lobby opened. “Darcey, wait.”
“It’s only the curse,” I said, fastening my pace as I heard him follow behind me. “We have nothing in common, there is nothing between us, just the curse and nothing but a curse.”
“Who are you trying to convince?”
“Sir, is everything alright?” the porter at the door asked, seemingly confused to who Shawn was talking. I sighed, out of relief or strain I wasn’t sure.
“Fuck off,” Shawn said before following me out the door and grabbing my shoulder, pulling me back to him. “Darcey, look at me.”
“What for?” I snapped, only realizing tears had wet my cheeks when the winter air tried to freeze them in place. “You don’t know me, you don’t know anything about me. Last night meant nothing. Not for either of us. We were lonely. Neither of us cares about each other. I don’t want to be used, and I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want—I don’t—”
I shook my head, unable to find the right words. I didn’t want to become a burden, I didn’t want to use another person like I used my sister, and I didn’t want to be used like I used her. All I wanted was to disappear from existence. This feeling of being alive would fade, so will it for Shawn. And once that happened there would be no reason for us to be together. I couldn’t bear being invisible to someone who once saw me. I couldn’t do it.
I turned and ran, freeing myself from his grip probably forever. How stupid. So stupid. Stupid to think this would last. Stupid to think he might like me for anything besides a shared curse. Stupid to believe last night meant more. Stupid, stupid, stup—
“You’re not rid of me yet, Dracey Chenceller!” Maybe it was my imagination, but I dared to think I heard a smile in his voice, even as he shouted. “Probably not ever!”