24. BEAUTIFUL-EYED MONSTER
I rush to his room and twist the doorknob, sighing in relief to find it unlocked. I sure as hell didn’t want to attempt to kick down a door. Is that even possible? They make it seem so easy in the movies.
Everything in his room is a mess. His books are scattered on the ground, his desk chair broken into pieces. It looks like a wild animal has stampeded through his room.
But Ace is not here.
I follow the sound of glass shattering into the bathroom, twisting the handle and holding my breath. I don’t know what to expect and my hands begin to shake.
My eyes widen and my lips part in shock when the door opens, the scene unravelling right before me. There’s so much blood but that’s not what scares me.
Ace is repeatedly punching the broken bathroom mirror, his knuckles bleeding to the point where he can’t feel it anymore. There doesn’t seem to be any emotion in his eyes, just complete nothingness. I assume he is having one of his episodes that he told me about but I also remember Liv telling me at the party he doesn’t have them often anymore.
I walk towards him and place my hand on his arm, “Ace stop.” He doesn’t listen, it’s like he doesn’t even hear me at all. He retracts his fist again and again and it collides with the already shattered glass.
Blood is smeared on the glass shards and it’s dripping down his knuckles. “Ace, stop please!” I yell but nothing. I can feel the tears building up in my eyes, I feel helpless and I don’t know how to stop him from doing this. It’s hard to watch him hurt himself without even realising it.
I push him just a little so I can get in the middle of him and the mirror. I close my eyes and wait. What am I waiting for? I know he won’t hurt me, he only wants to hurt himself.
I slowly open my eyes and his are glaring into mine. Instead of blankness, there is anger present in them and I’m glad there’s at least some sort of emotion in the pure darkness of his grey eyes.
“Why the fuck would you do that?” he growls and his jaw clenches.
“You’re bleeding,” I tell him, my voice barely audible and I gently touch his hand.
He flinches away from me, “Calla, I could have fucking hurt you and you’re worried about a scratch?”
It’s not a scratch, his knuckles are completely busted on one hand and I don’t care if he can’t feel it – he’s making a mess on the bathroom floor. Liv isn’t going to be too happy about the chaos he made.
“You probably need stitches,” I say.
“Stop! Stop caring about me. I’m a fucking monster!” he yells and slams his knuckles into the glass next to me. He wants me to be scared of him, he wants me to leave him standing there with the consequences of his mistakes. I don’t.
I don’t even flinch. I bring both of my hands up and place it on either side of his face, forcing him to meet my eyes. His beautiful eyes are his prominent feature and I love the way they engage with mine. No one has ever looked at me before the way Ace does, and it’s tantalising, to say the least, and all I want to know is what’s running through his mind.
He instantly calms down, his expression softens and I can feel the connection between us – it’s almost electrifying, “Not all monsters are bad, Ace.”
His expression doesn’t change but I can see the way his eyes flicker for a second, he didn’t expect me to say that. He takes a deep breath and leans down, placing his forehead against mine. I can feel his breathing calming down with every single movement of his chest.
“What the fuck are you doing to me?” he mutters, wrapping his hands around me and bringing me closer. My cheek is against his chest, his heartbeat is amazingly slow for someone who just beat up a mirror.
I run my hands up his back and his muscles tense at my touch. I don’t know how long we stand like that but eventually, I take his hand and run it under the cool water; washing all the blood off.
“Sit, don’t move. I’ll go get the first aid kit,” I tell him when we’re back in his room.
“Ace, don’t move,” I warn him when I push him gently onto the bed.
“Or what?” he raises an eyebrow, challenging me and his lips turn up at the sides. It’s barely a smile but it makes me feel unsteady and warm.
I place my hands on his knees and lean over him. He lifts his head up to meet my gaze, “You don’t want to know,” I whisper, turning around and going to the kitchen to get the first aid kit.
When I get back, Ace is exactly where I left him. I stand in front of him and place the box on the bed, opening it.
I examine the back of his hand and when I’m satisfied that there is no glass stuck in the cuts, I clean it with alcohol. He watches me the whole time. I’m surprised the cuts aren’t as deep as I thought, there’s only one deep one. He really should get stitches.
“Ace, you should get stitch–”
“No,” he interrupts. I don’t look at him while I bandage his hand up but I can feel his gaze on me.
When I finish, he reaches out and grabs my arm pulling me towards him. He buries his head into my chest and I barely hear the “Thank you.”
I run my hands through his hair and twirl a small curl around my finger. Asher used to always put gel in his hair and it felt gross and sticky. Ace’s feels soft and I like it.
He lifts me up onto him and I place my legs on either side of his body. This position feels so familiar like we belong like this. Connected, is the word I have been using but it’s so much more than that.
“Ace, have you talked to anyone about...this?” I ask concerned, looking at his bandaged hand.
“Are you goin—”
I sigh. I can’t force him to do anything and I’m scared the more I say, the more he will push me away. I would do the same.
“Ace...” I begin again, running my fingers over his cheek, down his jawline to get his attention.
“Calla, no,” he tells me. I can hear the finality and sharpness voice. He doesn’t want to to talk about it and I will wait till he’s ready. My eyes drift up to his and his lips catch mine in a soft kiss. He places his hand on the back of my neck, his thumb running over my throat. I close my eyes and get lost in the existence of him.
After a minute, he pulls away and murmurs against my lips, “I’m sorry I didn’t call you.”
“You should be,” I tell him and he smiles, placing a kiss on the corner of my mouth.
Ace is the biggest paradox I have ever known. He hates himself for something he did but he’s also in love with himself to the point of outright narcissism. He an arrogant asshole one second but then sweet and alluring the next. He confuses me in every single way possible but despite all odds, I can see myself, maybe, possibly and unknowingly falling in love with him.
“Are you free next Saturday?” he asks, running his left hand up my shirt. I shudder from the warmth of his fingertips.
“There’s someone I would like you to meet.”