Chapter 2 - Melody
“Are you going out in that?” My twin sister, Hailey asked, scrunching up her nose.
“Is there something wrong with this outfit?” I asked, slightly annoyed.
I loved my sister, but even though we looked alike, we were vastly different people. She was the outgoing, popular one, whereas I’d always been the more reserved, serious one. There were a few ways to tell us apart: I was slightly taller than Hailes - only about half an inch, but still. And whereas my eyes were a deep, dark blue, Hailes also had the same blue eyes, but with specks of green inside her irises if you looked closely. Hailes had a scar on her knee from where she fell off her bicycle when she was younger, whereas I had a tiny mole just beneath my collarbone on the left-hand side.
Most people had trouble telling us apart, unless we were standing right next to each other, or they knew us really well. My parents and close family had no problem immediately telling us apart. But we even managed to fool our friends sometimes...
“I wouldn’t, personally,” Hailes pulled a face, and I rolled my eyes at her. “It’s a shame Aria took her best clothes with her, and her wardrobe is no longer at our disposal,” she sighed as she exited my bedroom, heading towards hers.
My older sister, Aria, had recently gone on tour with her boyfriend, the famous, hellishly handsome rockstar, Austin Johns, and we were still coming to terms with the fact that she was gone for weeks. I missed Ar, probably more than Hailes did, because I tended to confide in Aria more than Hailey. Perhaps it was because it always felt like I was competing with my twin. And inevitably, somehow, she always seemed to fare better than I did, no matter what the situation or objective.
“Here - try this one,” Hailes threw a dress onto my bed as she entered again.
I held it up. It looked kind of small...
“Fine, I’ll try it on,” I agreed.
“We only turn twenty-one, once, Mel. We’re going all out tonight,” she encouraged me, helping me to zip up the tight-fitting dress.
My eyes widened as I took myself in, staring at myself in the mirror. “Hell no! This is... revealing!”
The dress clung to every curve. It had a low neckline and a built-in padded bra, and it pushed up my cleavage, making it look at least two cup-sizes bigger than what it was.
“Live a little, Mel. You’re so uptight,” Hailes shook her head in exasperation. “You look really good in this!”
I looked like her. Like Hailey. Sexy and sophisticated, flaunting my assets. She was all dressed up and ready to head out, waiting on me to finish. We had plans to meet a large group of friends at a new club, and even though we usually had our own groups of separate friends, we decided to combine our celebrations tonight, because we wanted to celebrate with each other as well.
“Davis is here!” She announced when her phone chimed, and I pulled at the hemline of the dress, knowing that I’d be feeling self-conscious the whole damn night. “Let’s go, you look great, really!” She tried to reassure me again, and I just sighed, knowing that I was out of time. We were just heading out with a group of friends, in any event, it wasn’t as though anyone was going to judge me tonight.
When we arrived at the club, it was already kind of packed. Smoke blew out of machines surrounding the dance floor, enveloping the entire club in a hazy mist. Warm bodies were gyrating on the dance floor, and the alcohol seemed to be flowing freely, case in point made out when a giant tray of tequila shots suddenly appeared at our table.
“You look great tonight, Mel,” Heath said, looking me up and down with admiration. He was looking at me differently, somehow. And I should’ve felt flattered, but it grated at me, given the conversation we had about a week and a half back.
The reality was that Heath was becoming restless. It was clear that he’d become bored with our relationship. He actually made the suggestion that we should consider having an ‘open relationship’ for a while, so we could both see other people. His rationale was that we’d been together since high school, and he didn’t want to end up married one day only having had ‘the experience’ with one girl - and those were his exact words. But at the same time, he didn’t want to let me go.
We ended up having a massive fight. And that was how I ended up on that beach that day, going for a swim by myself. I was highly upset at Heath after that conversation, which didn’t end well. I decided to drive to my family’s beach house up the coast for the weekend to think things through, because I just didn’t know anymore. And then I had a sleepless night and woke up before dawn, and I thought that an early-morning swim would help me clear my head.
If I were being honest, there wasn’t much of a spark between Heath and me anymore. We weren’t the same sixteen-year-olds who got together in high school anymore. And although part of me resented him for even suggesting that we should consider seeing other people, deep down inside a part of me also felt restless, and I wondered about the truth of his words...
He’d apologized, of course, particularly after my near-drowning a week ago, but things were still strained between us. We weren’t the same anymore. That old ease between us was gone. And it felt as though we were drifting apart... as though we were trying to delay the inevitable, skirting around each other...
“Three, two, one...” Hailes counted down as everyone held their shot-glasses filled with tequila in their hands, and the next moment, I felt the liquor burning a heated path down my throat. I pulled a face, licking a line of salt from my hand, then putting the slice of lime between my lips.
“Happy birthday!” Our friends cheered, then miraculously, another tray of shots arrived. The trays kept coming and coming, and I felt myself getting more and more light-headed with each potent shot.
“I think I’ve had enough...” I said after round three, but some of Hailes’ friends openly booed me.
“Don’t be so uptight, relax, Mel!” Someone laughed, and I felt that familiar pang again, knowing that I’d never be my sister.
I ended up having two more rounds before I bowed out, already feeling unsteady on my feet.
“Let’s go dance!” Someone else shouted, and our group made our way to the already-packed dance floor.
The music was pumping through the loudspeakers, the bass vibrated through my body like a drum, making my heart shake to the addictive rhythm. Heath started grinding into me from behind, circling his arms around my waist. But it didn’t feel sexy, I felt hot and irritated, wishing he’d step away. I still hadn’t forgiven him, and that unresolved tension was still hanging between us like thick smoke.
“I’m going to the ladies’” I made up an excuse, and he nodded, turning his attention to one of our other friends.
I fanned myself as I walked slowly towards the bar, asking for a bottle of water. I opened it and headed for the nearest wall, inwardly berating myself for not really being in the mood for this. It was my twenty-first-birthday dammit, and yet, I wished I was anywhere but here, in a dress that wasn’t me, trying to be someone I wasn’t, either.
“Hey, what’s a beautiful girl like you doing here all by herself?” A male voice suddenly spoke right next to me.
My creep-radar immediately went on high-alert, and I raised an eyebrow, sizing up the guy who’d planted himself right next to me against the wall.
“I’m not here alone, actually. My boyfriend is just over there, with my other friends,” I corrected him coolly, but he didn’t seem deterred in the least.
“Right,” he smirked. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“No, thanks,” I lifted my bottle of water, wondering how far I should let this conversation go before bluntly telling him to back the hell off.
“What’s your name, gorgeous?” He tried again, and I sighed. He really wasn’t getting the message.
“Look...” I decided to be blunt, but before I could get another word out, the whole club went pitch-black, and the music stopped...
Panic ensued immediately, and I felt a wave of anxiety rise up within me. Suddenly, I was back inside that deep, dark, cold body of water, threatening to swallow me again. I felt my heart pound like a hammer inside my chest, and my palms felt clammy. And the next moment, I felt a set of hands roaming over my hips.
“I’ll keep you safe, darlin’...” Creep-guy’s voice spoke right against my ear, and I tried to shove him away from me, but he clung like an octopus.
It felt like I was drowning again, I couldn’t breathe, it was confusing as hell, I couldn’t see anything except for the faint light of mobile phone lights starting to flash dimly around me and some fluorescent exit signs in the distance. And creep-guy moved in closer again as I tried to pry his hands off me, feeling like I was choking, I couldn’t get a word out. I was starting to get a full-blown anxiety attack, and I knew it.
But all of a sudden, I felt his hands being ripped off me, and an angry male voice thundering a mere step away from me...
“Get your hands the fuck off her, right now.”
I couldn’t see much, except for the dim light of his mobile phone illuminating me, but I felt relieved instantly. I managed to inhale a shaky breath, still trying to orient myself.
“Sorry, I thought she was my girlfriend, I couldn’t see in the dark,” Creep-guy’s voice sounded, now further away from me, but I felt another presence moving in closer to me.
"Bullshit. Stay the hell away from her, if you know what’s good for you.” For some reason, that voice instilled a feeling of trust; I didn’t know why...
“Are you okay, Snow?” That voice. It was familiar. And he called me Snow... My heart shook inside my chest, but not from anxiety this time...
"You...” I said just above a whisper, trying to take a look at him in the dark, but I couldn’t make his features out in the dim light of his phone screen that was pointing towards the floor, illuminating our shoes. All I could see was that he was taller than me - by more than half a foot, if I had to guess.
“Who are you?” I asked, feeling almost breathless, that anxiety starting to lift like the sun burning through fog.
“Which one are you?” He evaded my question, and all of a sudden, I was hyper-aware of him, even though I couldn’t see him.
“Which one?” I asked breathlessly, that feeling of excitement in my veins increasing by the second.
“Yeah, are you Melody or Hailey?”
He knew my name. He knew both of our names, actually. How the hell did he know that? Was he some kind of stalker, perhaps? Was I in danger, here? I panicked again for a second, but then realized that I owed him my life. That, if he really had dishonorable intentions, he could’ve had his way with me, instead of saving me.
“Melody... but my friends call me Mel...” I said breathlessly; then I remembered that I hadn’t actually thanked him for saving my life yet.
“Thank you... for what you did last weekend. If it weren’t for you...” my voice trailed off...
“Why?” He asked simply in return. And I wished so damn hard that I could see his face. There was something that seemed kind-of-familiar about him, but I couldn’t place it...
“Why?” I repeated his question, my pulse quickening again.
“Why were you trying to take your life?” He asked bluntly, and I drew in a sharp breath.
“I wasn’t. That wasn’t what happened,” I quickly assured him, my cheeks feeling warm with embarrassment that he’d think that.
“Why were you swimming alone at the crack of dawn, while it was freezing cold, then? Because most people would think you have some sort of death wish... pardon me asking, but I think I have a right to know, here,” he said adamantly, and I swallowed, my blood thundering through my veins.
It was as though the darkness heightened every other sense. I could smell his aftershave - it was a mixture of musk and sandalwood. I was memorizing that voice of his, so that I would be able to recognize it again...
“I was upset,” I admitted, biting my bottom lip.
“Why?” He insisted again, and I sensed his hand being planted up against the wall, right next to my head. His body heat smashed into mine; he was moving closer. That awareness of him increased again, and I felt short of breath... I had no idea what the hell he even looked like, but I was having one hell of a physical reaction to his proximity.
“Because... my boyfriend and I had a big fight,” I admitted softly.
“Why?” He asked again, and my lips curved slightly upwards, as I wondered why he was interested to know. I answered him, regardless...
“Because... he wanted to see other people...” I admitted, feeling embarrassed.
“Why the hell would he want to do that?”
That smile playing on my lips widened. For some reason, I wasn’t offended by this stranger’s questioning, in the least.
“Because... he said he didn’t want... the experience... with just one girl. We’ve been together since high school,” I explained self-consciously.
“I hope you’ve dumped his ass, Snow,” he said incredulously, and just hearing him saying that name again, made me feel this explosive heat traveling up and down my body in waves...
I laughed. Finding his reaction funny, for some reason, although it was the first time I’d thought anything about that episode was remotely worth laughing about.
“I don’t know...” I admitted, honestly.
“What do you want, Snow?” He asked again, and I felt the warmth of his breath fanning on my skin. He was close to me... dangerously close...
“I don’t know...” I said breathlessly, although there was this little voice inside my head that wanted to say that I wanted him to kiss me...
‘What the hell? Hang on; this isn’t me... Where the hell did that thought come from?’
“I think deep down inside, you know,” he voice was teasing, it was as though he was playing a game with me...
“I... I...” I started, catching my bottom lip between my teeth. And it must have been the five shots of tequila I had, because the next thing I knew, the words just flew out of my mouth... “I want you to kiss me...”
And not even a second later, I felt his lips on mine. The kiss started out tentatively, exploratively, his lips ghosting over mine in a whisper of a kiss... then he latched on again, this time more firmly, as I felt his arm circle around my waist, the other one still against the wall, boxing me in against it.
I heard myself moan, and that kiss intensified... my arms circled behind his neck, and I pulled him closer into me, wanting more of this, this euphoric rush that was thundering through my veins, paralyzing my system, weakening my defenses...
His lips moved leisurely, then his tongue darted past my parted lips, and I sighed as that kiss deepened, and he set me on fire, stroke by stroke... I felt his hard, muscled thigh moving in-between my legs, our bodies craving more of each other, more of that rapidly building heat between us.
We were kissing and kissing; time stood still. Everything and everyone in the background faded away completely, it was just him and me existing like we were the last two people on earth... and I knew beyond a doubt that I’d never, ever, been kissed anywhere close to this. I didn’t want to let go, it was as though I was under a spell of compulsion, and I had to keep doing this.
My hands roamed over his shirt, I felt the outline of his defined body under my fingertips, and my heart was a thunderous waterfall, unstoppable, smashing out contraction after contraction inside my ribcage. And this wasn’t like me, at all, but I wanted him. I wanted to keep going, and going, and I didn’t even care where the hell we were.
He groaned, our kiss was getting completely out of control, we were both sighing, moaning, tugging impatiently... I was almost out of air, but I couldn’t help myself, there was no way I was letting go. It felt too good; I was addicted; he made me feel so fucking good.
“Snow...” he groaned, trying to slow down our kiss, but I was unable to stop...
“Slow...” he grunted into my mouth as his tongue slipped past my lips again.
“No...” I resisted shamelessly, feeling aroused as hell, feeling the hardness of his groin against me as our lips kept smashing against each other’s relentlessly; it was clear as air that he was as disinclined to stop as I was.
“Mel?” I suddenly heard a familiar voice a few steps away from us, and we both froze mid-kiss.
“Shit...” I whispered against his lips, and he pressed his lips against mine again for good measure, before ripping his body away from mine.
I immediately missed his warmth; I didn’t want that kiss to ever end...
“Who are you?” I asked again, urgently, because I had to know.
“I’ll find you again, Snow...” he said, and then he was gone...