Chapter 12 - Melody
Connor stormed out of there like a raging bull who’d seen a red flag. The conversation between him and Hailes clearly ended in a spectacular failure, and worst of all was, I could see that they both were hurting. He was trying damn hard, but Hailes was stubborn as hell.
I was fairly confident that she knew nothing happened between Connor and me, but she was trying to keep her distance from him for some reason, and using that as an excuse. I knew my sister, and I knew that she must have had a good reason for acting so out of character, because it was highly unlike Hailey to throw tantrums like that in public. But again - I was nowhere closer to getting answers, because neither of them wanted to tell me what the hell was going on. I just hoped that Angel believed me and that he didn’t think I’d been lying to him about Connor. Damn - this situation was messy.
I felt bad that Connor left like that, but to be blatantly honest - I’d been too selfish to go with him. Because finally, I had my chance to spend some time with Angel, and find out who he was, and put this hell of a mystery to an end. I wanted answers. No - I needed them. And hell would be freezing over before I’d leave here tonight without getting them.
The whole room was still silent, although murmured whispers started to spread like wildfire. But most importantly, Angel took my hand again, seemingly believing Connor and me. On the contrary, it was clear that my sister wasn’t going to let this go so easily...
“Connor was telling the truth, Hailes. Absolutely nothing happened; we just talked and fell asleep,” I tried to argue Connor’s case with my sister, but she looked a mixture of sad and livid, avoiding my gaze.
“So you say,” she sighed softly, raking a hand through her hair, looking anguished. “But I find it hard to believe that any girl can spend a night with Connor Blake without things getting out of hand.”
“What the hell was that about, Hailey?” Davis butted in, sounding highly unimpressed.
“It doesn’t matter, Davis. Let’s go dance,” Hailey said stubbornly. “I don’t want another scene. I’ve just had enough of everything.”
She dragged Davis by the hand, and somehow the music had started again, and party-goers were resuming their earlier activities.
“Is there something going on between Connor and your sister, Snow?” Angel asked curiously, and I shrugged.
“Neither of them want to tell me anything. But their reaction to each other appears to indicate that something has happened, and they have a hell of a lot to talk about, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.”
“Which brings us back to us again... because we also have a hell of a lot to talk about,” he said roughly, motioning with his head to go back upstairs, and there was fire in his eyes...
I nodded wordlessly, losing myself in his gaze, and my insides liquified again as we started climbing the stairs. That tension between us was rising again; with every second, every step, every breath, it felt as though I was closer to my destiny.
He opened his bedroom door, and I slipped in; it was still dark inside with only slivers of silver moonlight casting a dim light.
“Now, before someone else interrupts us...” he started, but I placed my fingers over his lips, silencing him.
“I want you to know that, no matter how you look, no matter who you are, this won’t change things between us. It won’t change the way I feel,” I said, feeling brave, laying my heart in the open.
I could see the outline of his lips curve upwards into a smile. “And you have a heart pure as snow, too.”
Then his tone changed, and it was a lot more serious when he spoke again. “And... exactly what is it that you feel?”
I swallowed, tracing the contours of his face that were not obscured by the mask with my fingertips.
“It doesn’t make any sense...” I whispered, and he interrupted me right there...
“It doesn’t have to make sense.”
“When you hold me, I feel like I’m exactly where I belong. When you touch me, I feel like I’m on fire. When you kiss me, I feel like I’m not in control anymore. It’s scary, but it’s an addictive thrill.”
“God, Snow... what do I even say to that? Except, I tried to stay away from you. I know that this has to end, but I don’t want it to...”
"Why? Why does this have to end? You keep saying that,” I asked, frowning, but I was getting distracted, fast, because he was swirling little circles with his thumbs on my arms, his touch just doing things to me again.
“Let’s start at the beginning,” he sighed. “I don’t even know where to start...”
“Let’s start by taking off these masks. I want to see you. I want to look in your eyes and not imagine what the rest of you look like. You know exactly what I look like – it’s only fair, right?” My heart was pounding wildly in my throat...
He reached behind him and switched on a bedside lamp. And with every passing second, the air became thicker and thicker inside that room.
“Please promise me one thing... give me a chance to explain. Don’t just make assumptions. I have my reasons...” There was an almost-pleading tone to his voice, and his words just served to escalate my already-struggling pulse.
“You say it like you think I’ll run...”
“I’m scared you will, Snow.”
“I won’t. I promise,” I placed a hand on my heart, and those perfect lips of his curled into a perfect smile as he raised his hand, and placed it over mine.
“I don’t take you for a snob, Snow, but you never know...” he said hesitantly.
“I’m not. I don’t care about anything else but the way you make me feel when I’m with you,” I said bravely, not even knowing where the hell I got the courage from. I was saying all these things – crazy but truthful things – that I’d never had the courage to say before in my life. Because for some reason, with him, I was shameless. I was without pride. I was willing to lay all of myself bare, taking a gamble that I’ll survive whatever storm he was about to unleash upon me next.
He reached for his mask, but I placed my hands over his, reaching behind his head, slipping my fingers inside the satin loops, then finding the ends. And I swear, I completely forgot to breathe as I pulled on those strings...
My fingers trembled as slowly, I took the mask and lowered it, as though in slow-motion. And with every inch of him that was revealed, I felt my pulse race harder and faster...
My lips parted involuntarily, as I took his face in. He was perfect - almost criminally so. His piercing blue eyes looked right into my soul. His lips - those lips that drove me to desperation with his kisses, were curved into a hesitant smile. His cheekbones - regal and prominent, defined his perfect face, framed by dark hair that I wanted to tangle my fingers in, and never let go. He took my breath away... but there was something hauntingly familiar about him...
“What’s your verdict, Snow?” He asked, sounding amused, raising a brow.
I smiled and felt the heat rushing to my cheeks. “You don’t disappoint, Angel. But you’re familiar... did we attend the same school?”
I frowned slightly, trying to place him. I knew that I’d seen him before, but I couldn’t remember where or when, although I had this feeling it was some time ago.
“No. But let’s get your mask off, too, because I want to look at you. Really look at you, like you’re looking at me.”
His fingers brushed against my hair as he reached for my mask, slowly untangling the ribbon, then letting it drop.
“Beautiful,” his eyes darted across my face, and he looked at me as though he was trying to memorize every single contour. “The face that has been haunting me in my dreams at night.”
“And finally, my dreams will have a face now, too,” I said breathlessly. “There’s been so much darkness recently... all I kept seeing was your hand, reaching for me, pulling me back to the light.”
“I’m glad that I was there when you needed me,” he said simply, and I drank in every expression on his face.
“Who are you?” I asked again, and that smile broadened again.
Why did it feel like I should know that name? Who was he?
“Knox...” his name rolled off my tongue for the first time, and I smiled.
“Have you been having nightmares, Snow?” He asked, his face contorting into a frown as he tucked a wisp of hair behind my ear, brushing my cheekbone with his thumb.
“Yeah. Almost every night. Except...” I hesitated, knowing that it would just complicate things again and give him the wrong idea if I said it.
“Except?” He brushed his thumb across my jaw, his eyes blazing with intensity.
“Nevermind,” I said quickly, averting my gaze, but he lifted my chin, so my gaze locked on his again.
“Except... the night Connor stayed with you?” He asked perceptively, a storm of emotion brewing inside those blues.
“Yeah,” I admitted softly, hoping he’d understand.
He nodded, clenching his jaw. “I hate to sound like I’m harping on, but are you sure there’s nothing between you and him? Because he seems to be everywhere around you these days...”
“Jealous, Knox?” I teased him back, and his mouth curved upwards again.
“Do I have a right to be jealous of something that doesn’t belong to me, Snow?”
The air felt too thick to breathe in again. Did he expect an answer to that question?
“Do you want me to belong to you?” I asked shamelessly, wondering where the hell I got the courage from to be so forward with this guy. But somehow, I was just different when I was with him. I didn’t weigh my words - I didn’t think - I just felt.
“Now there’s a question, and you’ve only just found out my name,” he teased, and I couldn’t help but smile.
“It’s crazy, I know...”
“It’s only crazy if it’s not mutual,” he corrected me.
“Is it?” I asked, my heart smashing out contractions again.
“Definitely,” he snaked his arms around my hips, resting his hands on my lower back. And I felt happy - deliriously happy. So happy, I felt the prickle of tears inside my eyes.
“You’re madness, Snow. I can’t think clearly. You’ve invaded my thoughts.”
“These games with you have been driving me to insanity, Knox. It isn’t just a game to you, is it?” I asked, panic and uncertainty licking at my insides again.
“No. I can’t say that I haven’t been enjoying it, though. But you’re more than just a game, Snow. And that’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
His gaze swirled with intensity, and there wasn’t a hint of a smile on his lips.
“Why are you afraid?”
“Because I’m running out of time.”
My heart skipped a beat. “Is there... something wrong with you?” I held my breath.
“No. Nothing like that,” he said, and I felt myself exhaling again.
“What is it then?”
“I’m graduating at the end of this semester, Snow. And then... I’m committed to going halfway around the world.”
My eyes widened. “Where?” My heart slammed inside my chest.
“London. I’ve been accepted into the London School of Economics for my post-graduate studies. It’s been a long time in the making - my dad studied there, too. It was always written into my future,” he explained, and all of a sudden I wanted to cry again, but not from happiness this time.
“London?” I echoed the word, feeling a sense of loss already.
He nodded, his expression sober. “That why I said... I was trying to stay away from you. Because this can’t end well. We’ll have to... end. Soon. And I was trying to end us before we began, but it has been futile, because I just kept running into you. It’s like the universe has been taunting me, constantly showing me what I couldn’t have.”
I crossed my arms behind his neck. Feeling waves of emotion rippling through me.
“I don’t care... if all I can have is right now, then I’ll take it.”
And just then, I knew. I’d rather have a sliver of this, than not have it at all. But I had no idea right then of what exactly I’d agreed to. That I’d be shown heaven, just to be dragged through hell again. But that was a lesson I still had to learn...