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At school, there were stares. And whispers.
I expected that. As soon as people saw Officer Martinez driving me into school, they put the two pieces together. Everyone at school knew something about the scarred man.
Officer Martinez stayed parked outside, surveying the area. He wasn’t allowed to follow me in school, so he had to stay outside. If he saw anything suspicious, he would come in and take me to the police station.
After my first lesson, I saw Lazarus. He was leaning against my locker, an unreadable expression planted on his face. I approached him uneasily.
Last time he saw me, I was sitting on a park bench, numb.
“Hi,” I murmured, cautiously opening my locker door.
He shifted his body so that he was closer to me. I could feel the heat from his body. Sparks flew between us. The sensation was otherworldly. I wanted more. So much more.
“How are you?” He immediately asked, desperate for answers. He must have heard something from someone else. Word traveled quickly here.
I inhaled sharply and peered up at him through my lashes, “I’m okay.”
He didn’t seem to believe me. “Are you sure?”
I nodded my head. “Yeah.”
He studied me, deciding whether or not to believe me. When he looked at me like that, I felt like I was under a microscope. Everything was on show. He could see every flaw, every bad decision I made, every thought I had, and every secret I hid. It felt extremely intimate.
He lowered his head to my ear and brushed his lips against my ear. It was as if he knew what that would do to me.
“I don’t believe you,” He whispered, his deep, manly voice causing goosebumps to erupt on my skin. I shivered in delight.
I couldn’t move. I was under a trap. At his mercy.
“What happened on Saturday, Celeste? Who were you running from?” He questioned.
I started to pull away, coming out of my daze. I didn’t want to tell him the truth. Not yet. Not here. He didn’t like that though.
Lazarus wrapped his arm around my body, forcing me closer to him. A small gasp of shock passed through my lips. My body molded against him perfectly. It was as if we were both crafted for each other.
At first, I tried to resist. But deep down, I was happy we were in this position. I loved being held by him. I felt safe and content.
My body went slack, and I hesitantly lifted my head to him. Our eyes locked. We were so close I could see flecks of gold in his beautiful forest green eyes. They were so bright and alluring, I could get lost in them forever. I wanted to as well.
“Celeste,” He mumbled my name. “Why won’t you tell me the truth? I can help you.”
“You said you wouldn’t push me,” I protested, weakly.
He loosened a breath, “That was before you showed up to school with a cop. Everyone is talking.”
I averted my eyes to his broad chest.
He must have heard something about me. Perhaps he was already linking what his sister, Leah, told him about the time in the library three years ago. He could already be finding a connection.
And then he would either want nothing to do with me or he would look at me differently. With pity. Or a freak.
Panic blossomed in me. I would lose Lazarus. A man I didn’t even have.
“You shouldn’t listen to them,” I told him, my tone colder than I wanted. It was the first time I spoke to him in such a manner. Was this me going on the defensive? Was I starting to protect myself? “People have a tendency to create false rumors.”
“That’s why I want to hear the truth from you. There is something you’re not telling me. You are in danger—I know it.” He said, certainly. “If something were to happen to you…”
He shook his head at the mere thought. As if it petrified him.
It was moments like this when I wondered if he really did have feelings for me. But then I argued he was only looking out for me as a friend.
“Nothing will. I have twenty-four-hour protection. I’ll be fine,” I assured him. For a second, even I believed what I said.
“But why do you need that? Who wants to hurt you?” He demanded, angrily.
I sighed. I was getting nowhere. He wouldn’t leave until I told him something. People around us ignored us, rushing to their lessons. Speaking of lessons, mine was due to start any minute now.
“Lazarus…” I said his name fearfully. “Not here.”
My fear must have finally registered with him because he released a long breath and backed off.
“Okay,” He relented. “We’ll talk more in the music room at lunch.”
I opened my mouth to argue with him, but he held up a hand, silencing me.
He then unwound his arm from me and walked away. I was left with his musky, dreamy scent, and the memory of his touch.
My heart was still pounding in my chest. He had such an effect on me, and he didn’t even know it.
Ellie, Wilder, and Georgia all sat around me on the picnic table outside and quizzed me on what happened on the weekend. Georgia filled in a lot of the blanks when I struggled to answer.
I ate quickly, despite feeling reluctant about going. The prospect of being alone with Lazarus was enough to make me rush to see him. And after this morning, how could I not want to see him again? I wanted his arms around me.
They all raised their eyebrows at me as I speeded back into school.
Lazarus was sat at the piano, playing a slow and sad song. I froze and listened to the gorgeous song. He played it with so much intensity and soul. I couldn’t listen to anything else. I was fascinated.
“Beautiful,” I said breathlessly when he finished. He didn’t seem surprised I was listening. He must have heard me come in.
Lazarus swiveled around on the stool to face me. “Thanks.”
I walked into the room and sat on a desk behind the piano. Lazarus watched me like a hawk.
“So, are you going to tell me what’s going on Celeste?” He asked.
“No, not yet” I replied, calmer this time. Externally, I was as cool as a cucumber. Internally, on the other hand, my heart was thumping in my chest painfully.
“Why won’t you tell me?”
I let out a shuddering breath, “I don’t want you to look at me differently.”
He knitted his eyebrows together in confusion. There was a look of disbelief written on his handsome face. He couldn’t understand what I meant by that.
“Why would I do that?”
“Everyone else does.” Was my simple reply.
Lazarus rose to his feet and approached me carefully. He stopped right in front of me and gently grabbed my hands. A tender look flickered across his face.
He knelt down on his knees so that he was eye level with me. I sucked in a breath nervously.
“Mi amore, I could never look at you in a different light.” He promised in a quiet voice. There was no deceit in his eyes. He was speaking from his heart. “You have nothing to fear.”
I was entranced.
“You have no idea how much I want to protect you. I want to take you away and hide you from your monster.” He revealed, tucking a loose strand of my hair behind my ear. My eyes briefly fluttered closed in desire.
And, once again, I was unsure of how he felt about me. His hot and cold attitude towards me was unnerving and perplexing.
The next thing that happened was totally spontaneous. A rush of confidence flooded me.
I kissed him.
It was better than I thought it would be. A million fireworks exploded in my body. I was in heaven.
It felt like it wasn’t the first time we kissed. Like we had done it before. But I couldn’t recall ever kissing him.
He didn’t immediately react to my kiss. I guessed he was stunned. A couple of seconds passed until he started moving his lips against mine. They felt so soft and warm.
As time passed, the kiss grew more urgent. We had deprived each other of this for a while and now that we were doing it, we needed to make up for lost time.
I tangled my fingers in his dark hair whilst he placed a hand on my waist, tightly.
Our mouths moved in synchronization. We were one.
His tongue darted out of his mouth and into mine as soon as I gasped slightly. He explored every contour of my mouth. I was in his control. I was lost in him.
Eventually—to my dismay—we had to breathe. I pulled away first, needing oxygen desperately.
Lazarus looked just as out of it as me. We stared directly into each other’s eyes, not wanting the moment to end.
Something shifted between us. Like something snapped into place.
Lazarus leaned forward and rested his forehead against mine. This moment was complete bliss. I never wanted it to end.
“What is happening, Lazarus?” I asked, wondering what was happening to me—to us. That was something else entirely. I never felt like that before. “Why do I feel like I can be completely safe with you?”
I also wanted to say: why do you make me crave you?
He softly caressed my cheeks. I melted at his touch. Again.
“I can’t tell you,” He replied, his tone sad. “I can’t tell you yet.”
What was he hiding? Did it have something to do with me?
He sighed, looking agitated and slightly alarmed. “Uh—because…”
And before Lazarus could continue, we were interrupted by somebody marching into the room. We both jerked backward and snapped our eyes to the culprit.
Wilder bounced his eyes between the two of us, trying to work out what was going on. By the sparkle twinkling in his eyes, he already knew what was happening.
“Hey…guys,” He greeted.
I forced myself to smile. “Hi, Wilder.”
“I’m not interrupting anything, am I?” He directed that at Lazarus, almost as if he was seeking his permission.
I turned to Lazarus, curious to know what his reply would be.
“No, you weren’t,” He answered, nonchalantly.
My heart deflated. How could he act so cool? Did he not care about what happened?
“Oh,” He blinked, also not expecting that answer. He looked…disappointed. “Well, sorry to barge in anyway. I was hoping I could practice the drums.”
Wilder played the drums. It wasn’t anything he wanted to pursue professionally—at least, that was what he told us—it was a hobby. He was actually very good. I think he played them when he wanted to let some anger out.
“Go for it, we were about to leave,” Lazarus told him. He stood up and indicated for me to do the same.
So, we weren’t done with our conversation yet. Good.
I followed Lazarus out of the music room, all the way outside.
He led me to the bleachers. I purposefully sat close to him, needing to be in close proximity to him.
“Why are you so secretive? I basically know nothing about you,” I finally said what was on my mind. Lazarus had so many secrets.
He exhaled loudly and lazily dragged a hand through his hair. “I’m afraid you’ll run for the hills when you find out everything.”
“Everyone keeps saying that,” I countered, furrowing my eyebrows together. “But why would I? What do I mean to you?”
He shifted his eyes to me and stared at me silently, contemplating what to say next. I was practically on the edge of my seat with anxiety.
“Everything,” His reply was instant.
The blood was coursing in my body with great speed. I was feeling giddy. I was filled with glee.
I meant something to him. I was important.
“I won’t run. I promise,” I assured him, inching closer.
Vulnerability shone in his eyes.
“You can’t say that when you don’t know the truth,” He retorted, his breath shaking.
Looking into his forest green eyes, really looking, I could never see myself being scared of him. No matter what his secret was, I would stick by him.
“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” I teased, hoping to lighten his mood. Unfortunately, it didn’t do a lot. This was seriously bothering him.
We hadn’t established anything yet, but I knew that if I didn’t reassure him now, we would never be anything. His fears and doubts would always prevent him from getting closer to me.
“Lazarus, I have very…strong emotions for you,” I started, gathering the courage to say this. I was putting myself out there, for him. For me. For us. He cared about me, he basically said so. I could do this. “I don’t think I could stay away from you, even if I tried.”
His face remained passive. My nervousness prospered.
I was revealing my true feelings, I was shedding a part of myself that most people didn’t see, and he didn’t say anything.
“Say something,” I pleaded.
“Celeste, as much as I want to tell you. I can’t. Not yet. Please just be patient and trust me.” He begged.
I bit my lip. He really wanted to wait. I couldn’t say no to him. I can trust him.
He released a long breath, clearly relieved. Lazarus came up to me and hovered his lips over my forehead. He hesitantly placed a kiss there, lingering on that spot for a while. I closed my eyes in pure happiness.
“Thank you,” He whispered, quietly.
And then he ripped himself away from me and sauntered back into the school. I remained in that spot for some time, collecting myself together.
That actually happened. We kissed. That meant he liked me. It confirmed it.
My heart soared at the knowledge.
Nothing could ruin my elated mood. Not anymore.
It’s too bad something did ruin my mood; change everything.
Aww! I loved writing this chapter. I hope you enjoyed reading this chapter. Please leave a review or comment letting me know what you think. My next update will be Friday. Have a good week.