Then You Look At Me

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My Soul Is Now At Ease

~When you lose your way and the fight is gone. Your heart starts to break and you need someone around now. Just close your eyes while I put my arms above you and make you unbreakable. She stands in the rain, just to hide it all. If you ever turn around, I won’t let you fall down now. I swear I’ll find your smile and put my arms above you. And make you unbreakable~ Jamie Scott.

Chapter Theme Song: ‘Unbreakable’ by Jamie Scott.

••

Ansel

Thirty minutes earlier.

Alaric opens the door, skeptically glancing behind him before looking back at me. “Hey.”

I adjust the hood of my pullover. “How is she?”

He exhales, resting a palm against the edge of the door. “She’s not doing so good. I think we need to keep a close eye on her.”

I puff air from my cheeks before leaning against the transparent wall. Alaric steps out and closes the door quietly behind him, coiling his arms across his chest.

“I think I should just let her know I am still alive,” I say. “You know last night after I heard her crying in her bathroom, I came up to check on her. She was asleep in bed and she looked so frail. She didn’t look like the Rainey I know at all.” I shake my head. “What we are doing could potentially hurt her permanently.”

“But I think her also knowing that you’re alive could hurt her too. Look what happened last time. I just feel like if she knows that you aren’t dead, she’ll go after Ron just to protect us. I just want us to lay low until we’ve gotten rid of him. Rainey can be stubborn, and we barely made it out alive the last time. I can’t afford for that to happen again.”

Patently, the reason we are hiding the fact that I am still alive is not only to make my death appear real to Ron Moretto but also because we don’t want Rainey to get involved. If she knows that I am still alive she may attempt to sacrifice herself again. I almost witnessed her getting killed on that cliff and I cannot allow the incident to reoccur. My ‘death’ is serving as a distraction until we have dealt with what we need to deal with.

I can still recall how devasted she looked when the bullet met my chest. When Ken and Joe, along with my brothers and a few SWAT members found me, I was unconscious. I was told that I was unresponsive for three weeks, and it has only been half of a month since I have woken up. I am slowly recovering, but the wound is still fresh, alongside a few small bruises I have attained as well.

“But we should keep a close eye on her,” Alaric continues. “Today we went to the courtroom with her.”

“Yeah, I was there. I saw you guys.”

“She wasn’t happy even after they got sentenced. And then she just cracked on us, saying she needed space. She came home and asked us all to watch a movie and then earlier she went up to her room without eating dinner.”

I sigh. Each time I am informed of her failure to eat, my chest tightens. I don’t know how much longer I can withstand this hide and seek business. I miss her and seeing her becoming so underweight and frail isn’t easy on my heart or my conscience.

“I’m going to get her mint ice-cream. I know it’s not healthy but at least something is going into her stomach.” I ease up to walk away but turn back around to face him. “By the way, strawberry isn’t her favorite flavor, it’s the mint-chocolate chip.”

Alaric scratches his head culpably. “You heard that too?”

I smile in amusement. “I hear everything.” I titter as I turn away, and Alaric purses his lips before returning inside.

As I head toward the large gates, my heart swells with this yearning to see her, to hold her, and to just be in her presence. I miss her terribly--so terribly that I can feel it in every fiber of my being. I stop at the car by the gate and release a sigh, turning my head to look up at her room.

But what I see next causes me to stiffen.

I narrow my eyes when I notice her—Rainey—climbing over the railing outside her balcony door. She stands at the narrow space behind the metal bars as she peers down at the hard ground below her. I turn my torso in her direction, my forehead rumpling in bewilderment.

What on earth is she doing?

My eyes are squinted to slits as I watch her climb back over, safely landing onto her balcony floor. She puts her palms on her waists and raises her head to the rooftop in what appears to be contemplation.

No... she isn’t trying to do what I think she’s trying to do, is she? Shit.

“Damn...” I hasten toward the penthouse while she begins to climb up the ladder to the rooftop. “Rainey!” I try to yell her name, but the whistling wind is much too loud, drowning out my attempt.

I hurry up to the front door, banging on it several times until it opens to reveal a lethargic Aiden. He narrows his eyes in wonderment. “Ansel.”

I hurriedly push past him, grimacing at the pain in my chest as I enter the living room. My brothers are sitting on the couch and they inspect me with confusion as I assertively head toward the stairs.

“Ansel, where are you going?” Alaric asks.

“I told you guys to keep a watch on her.” I frown as I scurry up the staircase, and they trade looks before getting up to follow me.

Luckily, her door isn’t closed tonight, and I get the feeling she left it unlocked intentionally. I cross her room to get to the balcony door as my brothers enter the space anxiously. Arden notices a paper on her nightstand, and he reaches for it, his eyes enlarging as he inspects it. “Shit.”

Aiden grabs it from him to see what is written there while I step out onto the balcony, cold vapor transpiring from my mouth as I breathe heavily. I begin climbing the ladder in a rush, praying and hoping that she’s still standing up there. I can hear my heart rapidly pumping through my eardrums and my eyes prick with worried tears.

Come on, Rainey. Please don’t do this to me.

As soon as I get up to the rooftop, I spot her at the far end of the flat surface. She’s standing motionlessly and my chest aches once again. I grimace as I clutch the bandaged wound under my shirt while speedily plodding toward her.

As I get closer, her body motions to move off when I quickly grasp her arm, pulling her backward and into my chest. She lands against my torso firmly, and the irritated wound throbs painfully as I clench my teeth hard.

My breathing is uneven, fear still coursing through me from the thought of losing her. Though I am physically in pain, I grip her tightly to me as my heart thumps anxiously against my ribcage.

“Wh-what on earth are you doing, Rainey?” My voice breaks and I feel her body stiffens at the sound of it.

I grasp her shoulders and whirl her around, and my soul tears at the water brimming in her chocolate eyes.

She’s shocked out of her wits, her lips parted with disbelief. I can’t blame her for being this flabbergasted. She thought I was dead, and to suddenly see me standing here in front of her, she must think she’s getting crazy.

But she isn’t the only one who feels as if she’s losing her sanity. Not being able to talk to her for almost a month was slowly killing me. My dreams were filled with her; I kept seeing her face and I constantly heard her voice. Being without her has been severely painful.

I don’t want to think about what would have happened if I had left without taking one last glance at her room. I would have surely lost her. I would have lost the only girl I have ever been this deeply in love with, and it would be my fault. The thought scares me.

Teardrops escape my eyes as I grip her cheek in my hand, feeling her body trembling under my touch. “Do you want to see me go crazy? What-what on earth were you just about to do?”

Her mouth opens and closes as they quiver from astonishment, and the desire within me rises tremendously. I just want to kiss her; I’ve missed her so much. I just want to hold her and be reminded of how good she felt in my arms. It is long overdue.

Groping her nape, I pull her into me and passionately plant my lips onto hers.

••

Third-person Pov

The kiss reignites their lost souls as their lips move perfectly in sync, repairing the two broken hearts and making them whole again.

Rainey cannot understand what is happening. Ansel is dead; he is supposed to be dead, then why is he standing here right now, kissing her so sensually? Is she dead? Have their souls already reunited? If that is the case, the demons did keep up their end of the bargain after all.

Though she finds it hard to believe that this figure isn’t just a figment of her imagination or simply a phantom version of him, she cannot deny the life in the kiss, the warmth of his body, and the beating of his heart against her chest. She can feel the love, the longingness, the hurt, and the pain. She can feel it all. It is real. He must be real.

He slowly breaks away, and she searches his glassy eyes with hers. Has she finally lost her mind? Is she imagining things now?

She battles to pull her voice from her throat. “I must be getting crazy...”

Ansel stares at her with watery orbs, and she raises her hand to grope her head. “I have finally lost it. A-am I dead?”

His face soothes a little and his eyes cloud with remorse and compassion. “No, you’re not dead, Rain,” he whispers. ” I got you.”

She stares at him. She can’t understand how he is standing right here in front of her. It just doesn’t make sense. She raises her hand to his cheek as fresh tears make their appearances. “Are you real?”

He puts his hand over hers and her breath hitches when she feels the warmth of his skin. His touch is the same—it still sets her body aflame. “I am not dead; I am real, Rain. I am right here, and I am so sorry I didn’t let you know sooner.”

Her eyes travel behind him where his brothers are standing tensely, and it finally hits her. He is alive.

She burst out in tears as she springs into his arms, wrapping her hands around him as she sobs into his sweater. “I-I thought I... I thought you were gone...I—”

“It’s okay, I am here. I am sorry, Rain. I am so sorry that I did this to you.”

He gestures to put his lips to her head when she breaks away, anxiously scrutinizing the white bandage on his forehead. He looks noticeably unwell and worn-out, and Rainey can tell that he hasn’t fully recovered yet. “Are you alright?”

He sighs, using his thumbs to wipe away the tears from beneath her eyes. “I am fine. I am fine now.”

He puts his arms around her and pulls her into him, planting a kiss to her head. “I am sorry. I am so sorry, Rainey.”

She shuts her eyes and tears form pathways against her face as she cries against him, holding him tightly to her.

If this is a dream, she doesn’t want to wake up.

••

Rainey

“So... you all knew about this?” I stare at the floor, biting into the inner flesh of my lower lip.

My dad switch glances with Austin before pulling himself to the edge of the couch.

“We are sorry, Rainey. We didn’t mean for it to turn out this detrimental. We were just afraid that you’d impulsively put your life on the line again. We couldn’t trust if you’d lay low, sweetie.”

I jerk my legs. I am so close to cracking on everyone. I shut my eyes, counting to ten slowly. “Whose ashes did we scattered into the sea?”

Alex clears his throat. “No one...just some ashes from some burnt-out papers...”

I scoff, shaking my head.

“We’re sorry, Rainey,” Aiden says.

“I almost killed myself,” I mutter, reflecting on the fact that I almost threw myself from a high platform in hopes of reuniting with someone who wasn’t even dead. I feel greatly stupid. “I almost jumped from the rooftop for Christ’s sake.” I shake my head, burying my face into my palms. I am beyond humiliated.

“We shouldn’t have kept it from you.” Alaric inputs. “But we did it for your safety.”

I turn a menacing glare to him. “My safety? Lying that he’s dead was even more dangerous. Do you know how much I’ve suffered? I should have just followed my gut; I had a feeling you guys were being shady. Especially you, Alaric. You lied that you left that ice-cream in my room that night, but you suck at lying so damn much. Strawberry is not my favorite flavor so please do your research.”

He rubs his palms together. “Yeah...I know that now.”

“Don’t blame them.” Ansel sighs. “All of this is my doing. I just wanted to protect you, but I did it the wrong way. I am sorry, Rain.”

I pull my gaze to him, and he gives me a tight-lipped apologetic smile. I want to be mad at him, I really want to but how can I be when I am so relieved that he isn’t dead.

Riley is just as dumbstruck as she glares at her lap in silence, still in a state of disbelief. Alex scoots closer to her. “Riley—”

“You’re such a liar, Alex. Don’t talk to me.” She frowns.

He sighs, attempting to put his arm around her but she pulls away, turning her torso to him. “Stay at an arm’s length. You cannot be trusted. When I confronted you on your lack of ‘grief’ you told me that it was the only way to keep your ‘sanity.’ You even had tears in your eyes.”

“Look, those were real tears—”

“Really, were they? Such a liar.” She gets up, and he pushes a hand through his hair. “Riley, come on.”

“You cried! You made it seem so real! And it wasn’t Alex. You’re a fraud! I cried every night for absolutely nothing! Nothing at all!”

“Rileyyyyy...” He dramatically groans, reaching out to grip the hem of her dress. “I am sorry.”

She steps back. “I can’t look at you right now.” She shakes her head as she walks off, climbing the steps while glaring at Alex in disappointment.

“Rainey, we’re so sorry. I feel so guilty,” Melissa purses her lips.

Ansel reaches for my hand, but I draw away. “I am going to bed. I haven’t slept properly in a month.” I get up from the couch and walk away.

I understand that they couldn’t trust whether I would have laid low or not but keeping such a huge secret from me was just cruel. I suffered so much these past few weeks and I even contemplated killing myself. I became such a weak person for absolutely nothing at all. It was all in vain, and now I am massively embarrassed.

I enter my room and push the door up behind me, but it doesn’t snap close, and instead, two arms wrap around me from behind as Ansel snuggles his face into my neck.

“I am sorry. Forgive me, mm?”

I wildly wriggle away, using my elbows to nudge him off as I break free. “I want to be alone.”

“Ow...” I hear him groan, and I turn around to see him hunched over, clutching his chest with a grimace. Oh God, did I hurt him?

I gasp, moving over and putting my palm on his back. “Ansel? Oh god, I am sorry. Let me see.” I bend my head to look at his face, but a giant smirk greets me, and I frown lividly as he chuckles toothily.

“Really, Ansel?”

He stands up straight, salivating his lips with a smile, then in a swift motion, he lifts me by my waists. My legs reflexively snake around him while my hands interlace around his nape to keep my balance.

My cheeks are rosy as he stares up at me, his blue eyes filled with a bright gleam of repentance. I missed him so much, and I have longed for him to hold me this way. He studies my face as if it has been forever since he has seen it.

“I am sorry,” he whispers. “Will you forgive me?”

I stare at him. How can I not forgive him? How can I be mad that he is still alive?

“Mm...” I twist my lips. “I’ll think about it.”

He titters. “Really?” He takes me with him over to my bed, sitting down so I am sitting right onto his groin. He keeps his gaze on me while drawing circles on my waists with his fingers. “Whenever you’re ready.”

I smile. He’s still the same. Respectful and patient. “Thank you for that note, by the way. The one you told that cute little girl to give to me.”

His lips lift in a simper. “Which note?”

"You’re most beautiful when you smile.”

His brows knit thoughtfully. “Nope. I wasn’t the one who gave that to you. I left the ice-cream, but I didn’t leave that note. That was probably a ghost.”

Confusion transforms my face as my eyes grow larger, and Ansel starts laughing, causing me to smack his arm. “It was you, you liar.”

His chortle settles into a lingering smile as he gazes up at me. “You’re right. It was me...the words are true though.”

I flush at his statement.

His eyes drift to the suicide note on my nightstand and he motions to reach for it when I grab it before he could.

His face dims. “Can I see it?”

“Nope. You’re not dead, so.” I crumple it into a ball and sail it into the bin, and Ansel’s eyes reignite with guilt.

“What if I had lost you? I wouldn’t forgive myself, ” he mutters.

I stare at his belt buckle, hiding my vulnerable eyes from him. I felt so hopeless without him, and although it was a false alarm, it showed me how completely devastated I would be if he were to leave me here alone.

“I guess it was what I deserved for allowing you to take a bullet for me.” I half-smile.

“I did that on my own. You didn’t ‘allow me,’ Rain. I didn’t give you much of a choice.”

I sigh. “But all of it was my fault. I went ahead and—”

“Nothing was your fault, your intentions were—ow.” He flinches and I look up to see him groping his chest. Worry takes over my features as I reach for his clothes.

“Are you okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just my chest.”

I lift his sweater and his T-shirt, scrutinizing the white bandage on his chest. This must have been where the bullet hit him. He is still in pain; he is still hurting.

My eyes moisten, and he notices this and sighs. “No, don’t cry. I think I am gonna go crazy if I hear you cry one more time.” He raises a hand to my cheek, and I bite my lip.

“I am sorry.”

“Don’t apologize. It’s not your fault.” He zips down his sweater and pulls it off, then proceeds to lift his shirt over his head. I get a better look at the gauze taped to his chest as he drops his gaze to inspect it. Luckily, it isn’t bleeding.

“Your dad hired a nurse for me,” he says, and I look up at him. “She dresses it every morning and every night.”

“Where are you staying?” I ask.

“He got me staying at this penthouse a few minutes away from here. Right around the corner.”

I nod as he raises his hand to pry away strands of hair from my eyes. “I was there today. At the courtroom.”

My brows knit together pensively as he speaks again. “I was in the far back. I also heard what that asshole said to you.”

“Jeff?”

“Yeah.” He lays his forehead onto mine. “I paid him a visit afterward. So now he knows that I am not dead, and he’ll surely be paying for what he said to you.”

I pull back, my forehead wrinkling with confusion. “How will he pay for it?”

He leans back onto his palms. “We know a few men who are in that very same prison. They have been bored these past few months, wanting something fun to do. We will just make Jeff’s life a living hell in there. Both he and Greg.”

I smile softly, shaking my head as I lower my gaze.

He simpers. “What?”

“You’re a thug,” I say, and he laughs, his naked chest moving at the pleasing sound. He’s so perfect.

“Only when it comes to you...” he whispers, and I pull my eyes up to see him gazing at me intensely.

Those desire-filled eyes. I have missed how it feels when he looks at me that way.

My stomach leaps and my heart pumps wildly as he sits up straight, putting his hand on the side of my neck. The feel of his skin against mine sets my soul ablaze as he gently guides my head closer to his.

Our breaths mix and warm desire flow between us as he places his lips onto mine. He kisses me slow and unhurriedly, his tongue nudging at my lower lip, begging for entrance. I part my lips, and he enters, his hand moving from my neck and down to my waist.

The kiss remains gentle and soft, and I am now severely aroused. I begin to rotate my hips against his groin. I feel him harden beneath me as his hand slips under my shirt to caress my back.

His lips break away from mine and he breathes out harshly as his hand moves up and down my spine. “No bra?”

I shake my head. “No... I thought I was going to die tonight anyway. Why look decent?” I mumble.

He pulls away, curling his fingers under my shirt and pulling it over my head. I shiver slightly from the humidity, and amidst the dim lighting in the room, his eyes glisten with desire.

I watch as he rakes over my chest, then my neck then all over before his gaze softens benevolently. “You lost so much weight...did I do this to you?”

He trails his hands down my arm, meeting my eyes. “I am so sorry...”

My throat burns as he lowers his lips between the valley of my breasts, planting a sweet kiss there. Goosebumps trail my skin instantly, and while one hand palms one of the flushed circles, his lips find the other. I swallow thickly while clutching onto his sturdy shoulders. I have missed his touch so much. Impatiently, I move up and down against the bulge in his pants; sensually rubbing up against him. His arousal grows larger underneath me and he positions his hands on my waists, keeping me still.

He straightens his spine and I stare at him drunkenly.

He bites his lip, squeezing my waists. “I am still hurt so we can’t have sex yet,” he whispers.

Oh, how could I forget?

My cheeks heat up terribly. “Sorry.”

He smiles. “Why are you apologizing? I want you too. And when you move your hips on me like that you make me want to forget about my health just for tonight.” His eyes flash with lust.

I smile. “Your health comes first; I want you to get better. Now that I know you’re alive, we have forever. We can do it as often as we want and...” I trail off when I realize the words leaving my mouth. I redden in embarrassment.

Ansel laughs, his milky teeth lighting up the room, and I resist the urge to hide my face into my palms.

Humiliated, I slide off his lap and reach for my shirt, quickly dragging it over my head as I push my arms through the sleeves. “Forget I said that, please,” I mutter, and he turns his torso to me, placing both his palms on either side of me. I am now a prisoner of his strong arms as I lock his gaze nervously.

He stares at me with an intensely unsmiling expression. “I don’t want to forget it.” His eyes dip to my lips and I salivate them subconsciously. “I am all yours, so we can do it as often as we want...”

A wave of heat spreads across my face and I anxiously grope the sheets into my palms. A thick sexual mist hangs in the air as he places a hand over mine, drawing small circles with his thumb on my knuckle. He is touching an innocent area, yet it sends chills throughout my entire body. I want him, and I can tell that the abstinence is equally unbearable for him.

We stay like this for a while, his opposite thumb making little patterns on my other hand. He’s maintaining eye-contact, silently sending me sexual messages that I am easily decoding. Just as the intense passion grows to an uncontrollable peak, I writhe away and nervously pat the space next to me. “Lay with me?”

He smiles at my red face, endearment taking full governance of his.

He nods at me and I lay onto my side as he lays next to me, pulling me closer to him. I wrap an arm around his waist while he rests his palm on mine.

I raise my head to look up at him. “Will you be here in the morning?”

He trails his fingers through my hair, tucking a few strands behind my ear. “I will be here forever, Rainey. Get some rest, I won’t leave you.”

I smile at his response, shutting my eyes in contentment. I snuggle closer to him, careful not to press against the wound on his chest.

“I forgive you, Ansel,” I mutter.

I am still hurt that he hid for so long, but I don’t want to waste time being mad at him. Being without him for a month showed me that in the blink of an eye, the one whom you dearly love could be gone. Death is inevitable, and a person can be here today, then gone tomorrow. I don’t want to miss out on spending every waking moment with him. I don’t want to regret it.

He smiles softly then places a small kiss to my forehead. “I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I am happy that you’re giving it to me. I love you, Rain.”

I smile. “I love you too, Ansel.”

My soul is now at ease.

••

“True love is not how you forgive, but how you forget, not what you see but what you feel, not how you listen but how you understand, and not how you let go but how you hold on.“-Unknown.

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