Chapter 8 - Melody
I woke up feeling like shit. My mouth felt dry and parched, and my neck hurt.
I yawned, and I slowly opened my eyes, immediately sensing that something was different. And that’s when I realized that I was sleeping in Connor’s arms.
My eyes widened and I was immediately wide awake, although my head pounded and I couldn’t think clearly. His heavy arm rested across my waist, and no wonder my neck was sore, because I wasn’t sleeping on a pillow, but on his arm.
‘What the hell happened last night?’
My heart shook inside my chest. I looked down, and thank God, I wore clothes. My memory was kind of fuzzy on details, but my evening dress was lying crumpled on the floor, and I was wearing leggings and a t-shirt. I had no recollection of when exactly I got changed, but I was fairly sure nothing happened between Connor and me, because the last thing I remembered, we were talking to each other about our problems and complicated love-lives.
But as surprised as I was to wake up like this, I also knew that I hadn’t had this amount of uninterrupted sleep in weeks. Since that day I nearly drowned... because dark dreams invaded my mind when I fell asleep these days, and it was always the same thing - that darkness, that feeling of not being able to get oxygen into my lungs... Sometimes the dream ended when I felt that strong hand latching onto mine. But sometimes I felt myself sinking deeper and deeper inside that dark place where I felt so cold, and then I’d wake in a cold sweat, gasping for air, feeling like I wasn’t able to breathe again...
Just then, Connor stirred, and he pulled me closer into his warm, hard body.
“Hmmm... Hail...” he mumbled, and I started giggling because then I remembered his confession from the previous night. He had one big, fat, crush on my sister, but he was too afraid to say anything to her, and kept coming up with a list of excuses as long as a ten-year-old’s Christmas list as to why he couldn’t say or do anything about it. And I still was left under the impression that I only knew half the story, as well.
I delicately tried to lift his arm off my waist, but just then, his eyes flew open, and his jaw dropped.
“Fuck. I fell asleep, didn’t I? Shit, I just called you Hailey, didn’t I?” And Connor Blake looked the most embarrassed that I’d seen him in my entire life.
I laughed; I couldn’t help it. “Yes, and yes.” But the moment I said those words, my smile faltered because I realized they were his words to me the other night, just before he asked if he could kiss me.
And immediately I felt like crying again, because my heart hurt for some reason. Why didn’t he show up like he said he would? Was he there, but for some reason, decided not to talk to me? I could go in circles the whole damn day about this, wracking my brain to try and come up with answers to questions that didn’t have any answers, to begin with.
Connor squinted his eyes and looked at his wristwatch. “Shit. I’ve gotta go. It’s after ten-thirty already.”
“Thanks for the talk last night,” I smiled as I hopped out of bed, and he stretched his arms.
“No problem. But damn, Mel, for such a little thing you’ve managed to do a great job numbing my arm,” Connor said with amusement, flexing his left bicep, which incidentally was quite the sight to behold.
I winked. “Thanks for the comfy pillow as well, I should add.”
He shook his head in amusement at me and stood up. “Now let’s hope we don’t run into your dad on the way out, because I really don’t fucking feel like explaining myself.”
We both started laughing, and I shook my head. “I have a fair idea my mom and dad are both out. You should be fine.”
I ran a hand through my disheveled hair and opened the door. But just then, I nearly had a heart attack, because my older sister Aria was walking right past with her famous boyfriend, who was supposed to be halfway around the world right now, touring with his band.
She stopped dead in her tracks for a second, looking startled, placing her hand on her heart.
“Geez, you scared me, Mel,” Aria said, looking at me with wide eyes. And then her jaw dropped as she saw Connor standing right behind me.
“Is that...” she asked with disbelief.
“Yes, it is. Please keep your mouth shut, and I’ll shut mine, okay?” I whispered urgently, not wanting Hailey to see Connor coming out of my room and get the wrong idea.
Aria’s eyebrow shot up, but she nodded. “Not quite the same, Mel, but fine. And good to see you again, Connor,” she smiled and dragged Austin along to her room further down the corridor.
“Shit,” Connor muttered under his breath. “Was that Austin Johns?”
“Yeah. My sister’s seeing him.”
“You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that, Mel. They’ve been all over the media,” he said dryly and smiled. “Your sister is raising the bar. How is a regular guy supposed to compete for one of the Davis girls, now?” He joked, and I laughed again. And I realized that Connor made me laugh more during the past couple of hours than I’d laughed in a long while.
“You’re a great guy, Connor. I hope you know that. Any girl would be lucky to have you in her life.”
And I thought we were out of the woods when we walked down the stairs and the coast seemed clear. But the next moment, Hailes came walking around the corner with a cup of coffee in her hands, and her jaw dropped as she saw the two of us, Connor still in his tux from last night.
We all came to a complete standstill at the exact time. And I could see a flash of hurt across Hailey’s face, but then she was trying her best to keep her expression straight.
“Morning Mel, Connor,” she said coolly, her voice shaky.
“It’s not what you think, Hailes,” I immediately said, but I could see her eyes glisten with the onset of tears. And I wondered what really happened between them, further to what Connor had told me last night, because there seemed to be a whole lot of unresolved feelings there simmering underneath the surface.
“It’s none of my business,” Hailes said, scrunching her nose up, her voice sounding hurt.
“It’s not at all what it looks like, Hail,” Connor said softly, looking pleadingly at her.
“Don’t call me that. Don’t talk to me, as a matter of fact,” she snapped. And I knew my sister - I could see that her heart ached right now.
“Nothing happened, Hailes, we just had a late night, talking, and we fell asleep...” I tried again, but she turned around and walked hastily up the stairs, and a few seconds later, I heard her bedroom door slam shut behind her.
“This is a huge fucking mess,” Connor sighed, looking defeated.
“Sorry. I’ll talk to her, I swear. She’s upset right now, but you know what? It means that she cares about you too; otherwise, you wouldn’t have gotten that reaction out of her.”
Connor gave me half-a-smile. “I hope you’re right. I really hope you’re right, Mel...”
My sister refused to come out of her room for the rest of that day. And Aria disappeared with Austin as well, and I was on my own, with my thoughts tormenting me again. Why the hell didn’t he find me, like he said he would?
I decided to go to the university library to get some materials for an assignment I was meant to be working on. It felt like I couldn’t concentrate at home, and I hoped that the library’s structured environment would help me get into the right headspace to get some work done.
I sat down and logged into a terminal after grabbing a few journals off the shelf, and I stared at the blank page in front of me, not quite knowing where to start with this three-thousand-word-assignment...
But just then, my system blinked with a notification that someone wanted to send me an instant message through the university’s instant messaging system.
My pulse stuttered as I opened up the box, and it asked if I wanted to accept a message request from “Angel.”
And just like that, my palms felt clammy, and my heart was racing inside my chest again when I clicked yes without thinking, and a message appeared.
Angel: You looked beautiful last night.
I didn’t bother to set my chat name to something else, because hell, he knew exactly who I was. I wasn’t the one hiding here, that was for sure.
Melody: Why didn’t you come find me?
There was no message for about a good minute, and with each passing second, my heart was thundering louder inside my chest. And then, suddenly, another message appeared.
Angel: I’m sorry. I wanted to.
Melody: But? You had a date?
Melody: Who are you?
Angel: It’s not something I’d like to tell you like this.
Melody: Let’s meet in person, then.
Angel: I’m trying to stay away from you, Snow.
I swear, my heart ached, just then. His words were inflicting wounds upon me, and I was feeling so damn vulnerable.
Angel: Lots of good reasons.
Melody: Like what?
Angel: Like... there’s no way this can end well.
It felt like a six-tonne-truck had rammed right into my heart.
Melody: I’m not asking for anything, but to see you again and find out who you are.
If I were being honest, I knew that I wanted more than that.
Angel: You might be disappointed, Snow.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry in frustration.
Melody: Do you have something to hide?
Melody: Prove it.
Angel: Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This thing can’t end well.
Melody: So you keep saying. Consider me warned.
Angel: I have to go. I’m trying to stay away from you, Snow, but I don’t know if I can.
I closed my eyes for a second, feeling a rush of emotion threatening to overtake me.
Melody: Then don’t.
Angel: Are you sure there’s nothing between you and Connor Blake?
Melody: Yes. He’s a good friend, that’s all.
Angel: The two of you put on quite the show last night. Every set of eyes inside that room was on you, Snow. Especially mine. You stole the show.
Melody: You should’ve asked me to dance. I would’ve said yes, you know?
Angel: Next time, I promise.
Melody: Next time?
Angel: There’s this party next weekend... it’s a masquerade. Want to meet there?
Melody: Hiding behind a mask, are we?
Angel: The mask will come off, Snow. I swear.
Melody: Fine. But if you don’t show, I swear, I’m never talking to you again.
Angel: Consider me warned.
Melody: Where is this party?
Angel: I’ll send you the details. I’ve got to go.
Melody: Somehow, that’s always how it ends with us.
Angel: Seems like it, doesn’t it?
I shook my head, wondering what the hell to make of all of this. Wanting to smile and cry at the same time. Because more and more, it felt like he was just playing games with me to entertain himself.
I was a foolish girl. A girl that was falling for a guy whose name she didn’t even know. A girl who was starting to feel like a source of amusement.
And just then, I vowed that I’d put a stop to this thing if he didn’t show this time. I was done playing games with Angel. It was time for truth and the light. It was time for the masks to come off, or for this thing to end, once and for all.