~: PROLOGUE :~
“Hey, what are you staring at... so intently?” Aiden asked me.
“Um... Aiden, wood comes from trees, right?”
“So this bed and this furniture are also made of wood that comes from trees, right?”
Aiden smiled. “Yes, it did.”
“So, all these trees they have branches and leaves...” I looked at him with a questioning glance, noticing the glints in his eyes caused by the lights from the sun. “Then why doesn’t my bed grow branches and leaves if they are made from the trees?”
Aiden gave an adorable laugh.
“You know, one might wonder, but for a five-year-old, it’s the most intelligent question.” He leaned closer, putting all his upper body weight on a pillow next to me.
“You see, trees have roots underneath the ground. Those roots go deep down and find water. Under the sun, trees grow big and tall and form branches and leaves. Your bed has no roots, and it cannot drink water, so it doesn’t grow any branches or leaves. Simple.”
I was five and Aiden, was smart.
“Aiden do you know that light can travel faster than anything in this world?”
“Yes. But you know what travels faster than light?” he asked.
I shrugged both my shoulders and pouted my lower lip out.
“Thoughts,” he said.
“Thoughts?” I blinked.
“Yes. Think of a place you want to be right now, these very seconds?” he asked me and I quickly answered him.
“See, your thoughts already reached there. Faster than light.”
I was Seven and Aiden was smart.
I’m Ashley, and I asked Aiden all kinds of silly questions. And Aiden, who was fifteen at the time. He would always find an answer and explain it to me.
My father, Victor Valentine, and Aiden’s father, Daniel Castle, were business partners. My parents tragically died in a helicopter accident. Thereafter the Castle took me and raised me.
Aiden’s father decided to send me to a boarding school in London, and the decision was final.
My heart sank, and the emotional feelings moistened my eyelashes. I sniffled, crying silent tears. I dipped my spoon in the soup, but my hand trembled as I picked up a spoonful of soup to put it in my mouth, then I swallowed it hard. The asparagus soup wasn’t something I liked, and the whole ordeal made it even more tasteless.
“You’re being harsh, Dad,” Aiden said, confronting. My eyes darted at him.
“Her parents died, and she’s only Seven. She needs to be close to us and not sent far away.” Aiden continued.
“Daniel, I agree with Aiden. This poor child needs a home and not a hostel.” Mrs. Castle said, supporting Aiden.
I looked up at Aiden with soft eyes. He gave me an assurance nod, and my heart began melting for him.
Mr. Castle didn’t speak. Nobody talked anymore at the table. We just sat in silence, eating the four-course meal.
After I brushed my teeth Mrs. Castle came to tuck me into the bed.
“Ashley, you know I was very close to your mother, and I know how much you miss her. I miss her too.” She consoled me with tenderness. She was a mother too; love, affection, and tenderness are embodied in the flesh. Mom had said once, “God cannot be everywhere, that’s why he made Mother.”
Seeing her eyes brimming with tears, I was heartfelt. “C-can I call you, Mama?”
“Oh, Ashley.” She hugged me. “Of course. You can call me Mama.” There was a caressing tenderness in her voice.
“Go to sleep now, good night.” She said and left me in a huge bedroom with a big bed all alone. I wanted to ask her if I would get scared in the dark. Can I come and sleep next to you?
Though we both shared the same sadness. It was still different. I missed my mom. She used to cuddle me and read to me until I fell asleep. I miss her so much. Those memories came rushing into my mind and took my sleep away. So I picked a book.
After some time, a knock came on the door with a low voice, “Ashley!”
I got frightened by the sudden interruption, and I closed my book and pretended to sleep.
The door creaked open. I gripped the cover in my fist tightly.
“I see someone is still awake.” It was Aiden. He’d let himself in.
I thought if I stay perfectly still he’ll think I’m asleep, and he will go away.
“Hmm... you can open your eyes, I know you’re not sleeping. And I’m not here to scold you.”
“How do you know?” I blurted out.
“I saw the light coming from under the door so I came in to check. And then I saw your eyeballs were still moving.” Aiden had caught me red-handed.
I rose from my sleeping position and peeked at him. I kept my gaze low. “I can’t sleep. I’m scared of the dark, and I also wanted to see the pictures inside this book.” I revealed my little secret.
“Let’s see what you are reading… I see you like Clifford,” he said, looking at the book. “I like him, too,” he added.
“Really,” I felt my eyes widen slightly. I thought how cool it was to find out Aiden also liked Clifford.
“Aiden, could you read it to me?”
“Why not? I can’t sleep either. Maybe I’ll read it to you.” He offered.
“Okay!” I was delighted. Aiden had the gentlest smile I’d ever seen.
“Okay, you beautiful girl, scoot over.”
I moved to make a space for him next to me. I was super happy now that Aiden was here.
He began reading a story from the book, cuddling me in loving adoration. There was a soothing comfort under his arm. I enjoyed it all the way through, feeling his warm body combined with his sweet voice that lulled me to sleep.
The next night I asked Aiden if he could sleep with me in the bed as I got scared of the dark.
And this quickly became our nightly ritual. We even made a real connection. From this day onwards and every night, he’d read to me and cuddle me, and it became a prime time for us.
Mom Died. Dad Died. I was left alone. Then there was Aiden—my saving grace, my Angel.
He taught me to swim and ride a bike. Aiden simply became my idol, and I began to worship him. He also tutored me in my studies.
Ever wondered why many teenagers have crushes on their teachers?
And just like that, I began to develop a deep affection for Aiden. At the age of Seven, I decided I want to marry Aiden and no one else.
But when Aiden turned eighteen, he invited girls over, crushing all my dreams. He’d spent most of his time with them in his room. I could hear their laughs followed by some weird noises. All my hope was broken. But, Aiden still came at night to my bedroom to sleep next to me and cuddled me.
I was on cloud nine being able to have him next to me… made me so happy. But I knew my love for him, it’s going to be unrequited.
Aiden went to Stanford which was close to home so he’d visit me anytime he wanted. One night, Aiden came to my bedroom after his late-night party.
“Mmmhh...” I moaned and made a space for him, thinking he came to sleep beside me.
“Ash, get up.” He was trying to wake me up.
“Just go to sleep, A...”
“Ash, I want to ask you something?”
“Go away, Aiden.” I spat his hand on my shoulder.
“Please, Ash.” He made me sit, and I fell on him. “Wake up.”
I opened my eyes slowly to look at him. Honestly, I wanted to kick him and throw him out of my bedroom, but I was too drowsy from sleep. The full moon had illuminated the room, and under the moonlight, Aiden looked like a dark shadow, standing next to my bed.
“What do you want?” I asked him, rubbing my eyes.
“Come with me.” He took my hand and got me out of bed, and began to lead me.
We then walked down the stairs and ended up in the kitchen.
“Aiden, why are we standing in the kitchen in the middle of the night?” It was still dark outside.
“I’m high, and I’m hungry. Can you fix something for me to eat?”
“Are you serious?” I was so annoyed with him now.
“Please…” He gave me his cute, pouting expression that I couldn’t say no to.
“Fine,” I said with frustration.
“You’re the best!” He hurrayed.
Since it was five in the morning, I thought of making him an omelet. I went to the refrigerator and took two eggs. I was going to ask him to toast two slices of bread, but I saw Aiden sitting on the counter next to the stove; he’d lit the griddle and was smiling.
“It’s a cold night, isn’t it?” he said.
“Aiden, be careful you’ll burn yourself.”
“Okay. I was just warming the griddle for you. See, I’m helping.”
‘Oh, boy, he is high.’
I broke the eggs, whisked them with the fork, and began to prepare an omelet, then I toasted two slices of bread.
I brought that on a plate. Aiden asked me to climb up and give him company. I did and watched him eat hungrily.
“You want to hear something funny?” he said between his bites.
“I jumped over a big ass puddle.”
“O…kay.” I stretched the word. I didn’t find that funny at all.
“Rick, Josh, Luke, and all the other guys were laughing at me. I got annoyed and asked them why they were laughing at me. They told me the puddle was the size of my feet, and I was freaking out.”
“Wow! You were high. Must be a great party?”
“It was. I was at a college fest.” He said and he giggled, no, literally he did.
“Ew! Aiden.” It grossed me out. I know what kind of party he was talking about, but Aiden jumped right in and spoke.
“But I didn’t do anything. I swear. I just drank and smoked weed.”
I raised my eyebrow in disbelief.
“While I watched other people doing it.” He averted his gaze to look down at his plate and ate more. If I know Aiden, the one thing I know is that Aiden never lies. Never. The only reason he looked away and didn’t meet my eyes, was because he felt shameful. He didn’t want to tell me he’d enjoyed watching it.
“Ash…” he was still looking down at his plate.
He looked up. “Can you make a promise to me?”
“Promise me that you’ll NEVER EVER go to such parties. Promise me?” He was all serious. There was an undeniable fear in his eyes.
Aiden is not afraid of death. His only fear was losing me. He didn’t just wake me up at the crack of dawn to make him a snack. He wanted a promise from me.
“I won’t go, Aiden,” I promised him.
He was happy. He was so happy he even ate his food while smiling. He was that happy.
-:BEING A MINOR:-
Aiden was now twenty-two and leaving home to get his law degree. He was going away, away from me, and I didn’t like that. It made me very sad.
While Mr. and Mrs. Castle was on a trip to Japan. Aiden took advantage of the occasion and organized a party.
Under strict orders from Aiden, I was not allowed to get out of the room. He told me to lock myself in the bedroom and not come out under any circumstances. And if I should only if there was a fire.
The music was upbeat. I tried my best to fit in with the noise, but it was just too loud. I was getting annoyed by the intermittent disturbances. Now and then, someone would knock on my door, wanting to either use the bathroom or the room.
The pounding music was getting wild, and so was my curiosity. I’d never seen a live party before, so I was itching to take a peek.
So despite the protocol, I left my room. I know it was a stupid idea for a teenager to be at the college party, but Aiden was there, so I felt rebellious.
This was my first time experiencing the party. I’ve heard from Aiden how wild these parties are. I wondered what happens behind this frenzy of excitement. I was so eager to know more.
When I got down the stairs, there was a big surprise.
O.M.G! The house was littered, cluttered, and chaotic. Oh, and I don’t even want to know the nasty things happening in the bathrooms. There were a whole lot of undisciplined characters inside the house.
People were making out; dancing with their drinks in their hands, spilling on the rug. I’d to snatch the cups out of their hands. Almost everyone was wasted, high, and intoxicated.
“Hey! put that down. That stuff’s worth a fortune.” I scowled at one of them. “You! Get off of that sofa.” Like a mother yelling behind a misbehaving child.
“Madness,” I mumbled to myself.
‘Papa will be so mad at Aiden if he finds out.’ I began to worry now.
I bypassed the crowded floor making my way to the pool, searching for Aiden, but found the other violent ones with a destructive mentality.
“Hey there, can I get you a beer, perhaps a shot?” An idiot drunk teenybopper approached me.
“I’m underage, asshole.” I shoved him to the side.
“And apparently, not for using foul language.” A boy, a very, very good-looking boy, said that. “You look like someone who shouldn’t be at the college party.”
“Um..I..I. Um..H-have you seen Aiden?” I asked him, looking away from his eyes; they were distracting me.
He replied, “I think I saw him in the kitchen.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“Let me take you there.”
“Um... I can find him myself.” I said and turned around to walk away.
“Well, I’ll just come with you in case someone tries to bother you again.” He insisted.
“If Aiden finds out I let you go alone, he’ll kill me, so come on,” he just persisted in doing it.
He began walking, and I followed him, weaving through the crowd. We got inside the house, and while we were trying to pass through a mass of people, I almost lost him. He stopped, turned back, and leaned down; his cheek touched mine when he talked in my ear.
“It’s too crowded. Stay close.” He said and grabbed my hand and began to haul me while dodging the bodies on the floor.
“The fuck! Where are you taking her?” It was Aiden.
Before the boy could answer him, Aiden punched him. The guy fell to the ground.
“She’s mine… minor,” he yelled. I thought I heard him mispronounce a word.
Aiden tackled the boy.“You fucking asshole,” and kicked him.
“Aiden, stop!” I yelled, but he ignored me and went to strike with his foot one more time at the boy who was already coughing and curled on the ground.
I grasped Aiden’s arm. “Aiden! Please stop it.”
His face was red with anger, and his eyes flashed in a fury. Even I got scared of him.
The music had stopped, and the dancing had ceased. Everyone stood still.
The party was over.
Angry, Aiden left.
I was sitting on my bed quietly reading—waiting for him to come, but he didn’t come for a very long time.
I know I broke his rule. I know he was partly upset with me. But I have never seen Aiden being short-tempered before, not like this.
His name was Luke, and he was one of Aiden’s best buds.
The door squeaked open, and I don’t have to guess, because the devil was here.
Knocking on the door never applied to Aiden; it’s been long gone—forgotten.
“I thought you must have slept already?”
“How can I? I was waiting for you.” I shut my book and removed my glasses, giving him my full attention.
He crawled onto the bed and caressed my cheek with the back of his hand.
“I don’t know why I got so angry.” He sighed.
“He was only helping me to find you, Aiden,” I explained calmly.
“It bothered me, Ashley. Seeing you with another guy. I guess I’m too sensitive when it comes to you. I don’t think I’ll ever overcome these feelings for you.”
“What feelings?” I asked.
“I guess I’m very protective of you,” he said.
‘It’s the complicated feeling you have for me in your heart, Aiden.’
“But I’m still disappointed in you.” He had a scowled look on his
“I know. I’m sorry.” I looked down and then up, gazing into his eyes. My slumped position on the bed made him seem even taller than his considerable height.
Suddenly the air around us became different…warm, and affectionate.
“Ashley…” Slowly, he began to lean down and before I knew it he’d pressed his lips to mine.
Yes, we kiss. Well, we used to, but it’s been a long time now. It started when a boy in my school asked me if he could kiss me on my lips. I told Aiden about it. He got furious. Aiden told me I shouldn’t, so I listened to him.
I guess curiosity got to me so I asked him. “How does it feel to be kissed?”
“I never felt anything special.” He shrugged both his shoulders.
I couldn’t believe him since he was speaking from his own experiences. I’d seen Aiden kiss quite a few girls on several occasions. How could one not feel anything? I wondered.
But, I wanted to experience it for myself, so I told Aiden I was going to ask the guy to kiss me. For once I want to try it out at least.
But Aiden got mad when I said that, and he suggested, “Then let me kiss you.”
“You want to kiss me?” I was staring, baffled, at what he just said to me.
“You want to experience it right? So instead of kissing some random person. Why not try me?”
The depth of our relationship has always been normal and natural; a kind of casual comfort that we’d had from years of being together. And doing this sort of intimate thing… with Aiden… entering in a world of intimacy, you wander a little. Will it ruin me or flourish me?
I don’t know…
I want to do it because an opportunity like this won’t come again… to connect with him in a deeply loving way.
“Okay.” I agreed.
“Are you interested in kissing me, Ashley?”
‘Ever since I met you.’ I didn’t tell him, though it was the truth.
We stared into each other’s eyes. He slowly came close, and my eyelids started to feel heavy. I couldn’t keep them open, but when he placed his lips on mine gingerly, or maybe it was my lips that touched his gingerly... my eyes closed all the way and my mind focused only on his touch. He began to kiss—sucking on my lower lip, then my upper lip. It was slow and sensual. And above all… it felt amazing kissing Aiden’s lips. I always wondered how his lips would feel. They were soft at first then he embraced my face in his hands and pressed it firmly and began to move more profoundly, he opened my mouth with his tongue and dived in. Our tongues danced, with each other, following the rhythm. I instantly fell in love and now I don’t want Aiden to kiss anyone else but me. He was mine.
But I know I would be chasing a cloud so for now I just enjoy this moment.
We parted our lips. I asked Aiden how he felt. Aiden looked somewhat dazed. He said nothing and took my lips again, he began to kiss me again and over again, and since that day we never stopped kissing.
We did it every chance we could get and made it out endlessly. We would sneak out to canoodle with each other. He seemed to know every hiding spot in the house. It was our little secret—imagine playing hide-and-seek around the house and trying not to get caught.
But I guess our kissing wasn’t enough for Aiden and he continued seeing other girls that bothered me a lot and made me very uncomfortable so I told him to stop the kissing. But now and then he would sometimes peck a kiss on my lips and if he lingered for too long I’d stopped him from kissing me. Aiden says—that kissing was like hugging, it was comforting so it was okay to kiss sometimes. I would still stop him though.
But today I made an exception because I miss kissing Aiden so much.
He grabbed my face and went for a deep french. He moved, putting his weight on me, making me fall back on the bed.
There was the heat. This was by far our most intimate kiss. I could sense his need, his hunger, his desire within.
Slowly the tempo and range of motion were picking up. Aiden was keen, and I was so into our lovely French—I was delighted.
Aiden’s hand crept inside my tank top. The feel of his touch on my skin had me breathless. I’d never been touched before, and as his fingers were caressing my skin, a rush of warmth flowed throughout my body. It was arousing. Aiden deepened the kiss, and his fingers were getting desperate. At this point, I could feel the difference between love and lust.
The passion quickly began to intensify. Now his fingers were rolling up. I needed to stop him, but I was slipping in and out of consciousness. The kissing and the gentle caressing on my skin—Oh, my mind was in a muddle.
“A..duhen.,” I spoke into his mouth, but he didn’t stop. I had to shove him hard.
He released my lips from his mouth. My lips were swollen red; I could feel the way they were pumping blood. I was gasping for air, and he was panting.
He cupped my face in his hands, “Ashley...”
He looked at me as if searching for something he’d lost years ago.
He moved back. “What the hell am I thinking?” he said and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Fuck! You’re a minor.” He mostly said as if reminding himself.
“I’m leaving. Good night.”
He shuffled to the end of the bed, lifting himself to his feet.
“Aiden... Are not coming to bed?”
“I’m drunk, Ash. And if I stay close to you... I’ll commit the sweetest sin of my life.” He kind of sounded regretful.
I nodded. I did not like what I heard, but I shook my head. Aiden walked out without another word. And that was the first time, Aiden didn’t sleep with me.
The Sweetest Sin—does he mean sex?