Alight [Completed]

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Chapter 23 - Melody

We had one day left. One final day before it all came to an end. And I was wondering how the hell I was going to say goodbye to him and pretend that the past three months never happened.

The writing was on the wall; we were nearing the moment I’d been dreading since I found out we were on a timer, that clock fast racing out.

And as much as I knew from the start that I should try to keep a safe distance, not to give everything to him, in the end, it just happened regardless. It happened slowly, gradually. I gave myself to him piece by piece. Because I didn’t feel half-heartedly. I didn’t live in half-measures. I’d rather have it all for a little while, than have nothing for eternity.

Knox and I went out for a quiet dinner. Emphasis on quiet - because the whole time, we barely had a word to say to each other. I felt sick to my stomach, actually. I was playing with my food, just trying to breathe, trying to both get through this torture, and to remember every single moment, at the same time.

“Is your food okay?” He asked perceptively, because we were attuned to each other - we just immediately picked up if something wasn’t right with the other.

“Yeah, thanks. Just not very hungry,” I tried to smile, but I just felt sick again, my nerves making my stomach cramp.

He sighed deeply, then looked me right in the eyes. “This is hard, Snow. So much harder than I’d ever thought it would be. I’ve been dreading this moment since we started.”

I felt the warmth of tears prickle in my eyes, and I was too scared to say a word, because that prickle had traveled right into my throat as well.

“Let’s talk about this after we leave here. I... I don’t want to cry in the middle of a restaurant. Everyone might think you’re breaking up with me...” I tried to make a joke to lighten the atmosphere, but then I saw him flinch, and I realized that was exactly what was happening here, in fact. We were on the verge of breaking up, weren’t we?

“Sure,” he said, his voice sounding forced, and we just ate in silence the rest of the time.

We were quiet in his car after we’d left, too. Every molecule of air was laden with tension, with sadness, with emotions too big to give a name to.

“We should... talk,” he suddenly broke the silence, and I almost-jumped.

“I’d like that,” I said softly, feeling that lump inside my throat all of a sudden again.

“Let’s go to my place. There’ll be more privacy,” he suggested, and I tried to smile, but even that hurt.

“Sure.”

His car rolled into the driveway, and involuntarily my mind went back to that day, three months ago, when Connor and I turned up here for the first time for Isabella’s masquerade party. I couldn’t help but smile a little at the same time that my heart ached, thinking back to that night. How he revealed himself, how we gave ourselves to each other the first time. That night had magic written into it, and I wished so badly that I could’ve bottled a little bit of it to keep with me, always.

“Let’s go upstairs,” Knox motioned as he looked around and saw his two housemates watching television in the lounge room.

And much like that first night, he took my hand and led me up the stairs. If I closed my eyes, I could almost see those party-goers crammed inside the room, almost feel how hard my heart thundered inside my chest with anticipation. That night held so many promises. But then he told me that he couldn’t make me any, and I told him that I didn’t need any. Thinking back, perhaps I lied, because my heart was craving a promise right now.

He shut the door behind us and then leaned against it with his back, sighing, circling his arms around my waist.

“This is so damn hard, Snow,” his voice cracked, and my heart cracked right along with it.

I just nodded, too scared to say a word. Scared that I would cry. That I’d say things to him, I shouldn’t.

“The last thing I ever wanted was to make you sad, you know?”

“I know,” I whispered, biting my bottom lip to try and stop the tears.

“I... know I said at the start of this that we’d have to end. But I’m selfish enough to ask if I can call you, if we could stay friends?”

Each word ripped something out of what was left of my heart.

“Of course. I’d love to stay in touch.” And there it was - I felt a warm, treacherous tear slip out of my eye, down my cheek, settling on my jawline.

He thumbed away the tear and looked at me with something that looked like devastation inside his eyes.

“I wish I could’ve met you later, Snow. When we both were older, and in a different place than where we are right now.”

I sobbed and nodded, trying my best to compose myself, because this conversation was hurting like hell.

“You’re perfect, Snow. Absolutely perfect. You’re beautiful and generous, and kind. If things were different... if I could offer you more, I would.”

And that didn’t help either, because those words were like a dagger to my soul, piercing giant, gaping holes - I could feel the life seeping out, almost. And I felt more tears flow...

“Thank you. And... you’re perfect, too, Knox Vaughn,” I said through my tears, tracing my thumb over his defined cheekbone, wanting to touch him so bad.

“I feel like I should thank you. When you came into my life, I was such a mess, Snow. I could barely sleep most nights. And somehow, you’ve managed to fix me, for the most part,” he exhaled heavily, sounding as tormented as I felt.

“I’ll always be grateful for you, Knox. You’ve saved my life that day on the beach, and then you showed me what life could be like. That I shouldn’t settle for less than what we had,” I ripped the words from my throat, smiling through my tears. Why did this have to hurt so much? Why did we have to become past tense?

And then, it was as though neither of us had words again, and we just looked at each other with anguish in our eyes, and then he pulled me close into his chest and just held me as my tears seeped into his shirt, and I felt him exhaling in a shudder.

“It’s so fucking hard to let you go...” he said just above a whisper, and my heart shook inside my chest.

“For you and me both...”

“I’ll remember this. Remember you. Because you’re impossible to forget, Melody Davis. And... I don’t want to make this harder than what it already is, but... perhaps... in a few years, who knows?”

My heart hurt. There were no promises. I wasn’t expecting any, but it still hurt to have to end like this.

‘I love you, Knox Vaughn, with every single beat of my heart,’ I thought, but I couldn’t say it, because I had a fair idea that he didn’t feel the same. Because if he did, he wouldn’t be able to walk away from us, like he was doing right now.

And I knew I didn’t have a right to ask for anything. He told me from the start exactly how this was going to end. But I needed to know if I was going to see him again...

“Would... would it be okay if I came to visit you? When you have a break between semesters...” I asked hesitantly. I was a girl without pride right now. My heart was slamming inside my chest, waiting for his answer. His arms tightened around me further.

“Of course,” he sighed, a twinge of sadness and defeat in his tone. “Friends visit each other, right?” He pressed his lips against my temple, and they burned on my skin.

“I want to kiss you, Snow. One more time. I know we’re making this thing harder, but...”

I slammed my lips onto his before he could finish that sentence. I needed to feel his lips exploding on mine, needed to feel alive one more time before I was alone again.

Our tongues tangled viciously, our lips meshing, moving, driving us both to desperation. I could taste my tears in our kiss; it was so bittersweet being kissed like that. He held me so tightly against his chest he whooshed the air out of my lungs.

“Knox...” I moaned into his mouth as I tangled my fingers in his hair, and he cupped the back of my head, deepening our kiss, losing himself in me like I was losing myself in him right then.

“Snow...” he groaned, lifting me up so that my legs tangled around his waist.

We kissed like the world was about to end. Because for us, it was, right then...

“One last time...” he whispered hotly against my lips, and I couldn’t help but smile into our next kiss. I wanted this so badly. I wanted him so badly. I didn’t want to lose this feeling of having everything. I didn’t want this ever to end.

I was on fire for him - my body, my whole heart. His kiss was a flame licking all over my skin, his warm breath like the sun. I felt so deliriously happy and heartbreakingly sad at the exact same time.

And so, we ended back on his bed, where we began. It was ironic, really, that we’d start and end at the exact same place. Images of that first night flashed through my mind as we stripped each other, garment by garment. That mixture of exhilaration of learning who he was, of seeing his face for the first time, and breathless anticipation for what was yet to come.

He worshipped every inch of my skin with his lips, his tongue, his hands. He dragged his teeth in between that valley between my cleavage, and my heart squeezed with longing, even though he was right in front of me, and I had him in my arms. He invaded every inch of me, taking whatever there was left of me to give.

I was sad. So damn sad and scared at the same time. I was scared that those dark, suffocating dreams would come back. I was sad to lose the thing that made me wake up with a smile. I was petrified that he’d meet someone else, and one day, we’d walk past each other on the street and smile politely, as though none of this ever happened, as though our lives weren’t changed irrevocably by these three months. I was dreading having to wake up each day with this dull, heavy ache inside my chest, because my heart felt so damaged, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to stitch the pieces back together again.

‘I love you, Knox,’ I kept thinking, over and over again as his lips kept smashing into mine with growing desperation, but I couldn’t afford to let those words spill from my lips.

And so he ruined me one last time. Ruined, because I already knew that I’d never have anything else that came close to this. Our passion burned through the oxygen in the atmosphere one last time. He stole my breath one last time. Our bodies belonged to each other one last time. But our souls never would, because this was where it ended for us.

It felt like I was fighting a war I’d never win. I was holding onto him, and I didn’t want to let go again. My fingertips dug into his shoulder blade; our movements became more erratic and furious. We were cramming all of the passion existing inside of us into this moment.

“I want to remember you like this... coming apart in my arms,” he whispered hotly as our gazes clung while our hips rolled together faster and faster, and our fingers clenched each other harder. There were shadows inside his eyes. There was so much anguish inside my heart.

I cried out his name one last time; he swallowed my plea one last time. We were both breathing heavily, our chests heaving against each other’s, coming back to earth from our high.

“Stay tonight, Snow. Please, stay,” his voice was bleeding melancholy, as much as my soul was bleeding out, right then.

And I knew it was going to cost me. But I’d already given him everything else, so what was another little shred of what was left of me?

“I’d love to...”

That was how it happened that I slept in Knox Vaughn’s arms for the third time. And we held on that night. We held on so tight. We drifted in and out of sleep that whole night, making love two more times, but we didn’t say a further word because we ran out of things to say to try and make this better.

As the morning broke and the time came, I memorized every contour of his face with my lips, with my fingertips.

‘I love you, Knox Vaughn.’

“I hope it all goes well. I wish you luck, even though I know you don’t need it. But above all, I wish you so much happiness, Knox.” I dug into my palms with my nails, trying to breathe through the pain that was ripping right through me, from skull to toes, threatening to tear me apart from the inside out. Was my heart still beating, or was it too broken?

“I... I have no words again, Snow. Except... be happy. And thank you.”

We were standing in each other’s embrace one last time, our foreheads resting against each other’s for a moment as we just breathed each other in. His eyes fell onto that angel wing necklace he gave me, and he had a hint of a smile on his lips.

“So this is goodbye then, Angel...” I whispered as a teardrop fell onto those angel wings.

“Until we see each other again, Snow.”

I left his place that morning, for the very last time. I carried with me an ocean of beautiful memories, but it felt as though my soul had been sucked dry. Because even though I only had three months with my angel, we packed a lifetime into that time.

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