I wasn’t sure.
Maybe it was his mouth that wrapped around my earlobe, or the gentle touch of his tongue that made me wake up.
Maybe it was his quiet laugh as soon as I sighed softly.
Maybe it was his hand that forced me to come around as it slid under my T-shirt and covered my belly.
And maybe, maybe it was in his muffled voice, whispering to my ear: “Rise and shine, Princess. It´s time to get up.”
But I was one hundred percent sure that it was the sounds coming from the hallway that turned my brain immediately on.
Jim came home from work.
Yes, I know. It wasn’t the first time the hellish envoy spent the night with me. However, my Uncle always left in the morning. And now, he´d just returned and planned to stay.
I was starting to panic a little as I had no idea how to make Eric sneak around Jim without him noticing. I didn’t want to kick my demon out the window.
“Don’t worry, Dove,” he managed to soothe me. Or it was his nose, running through my neck that made me forget all about Jim. “He had a pretty rough night. He´s tired and all he wants to do is go to bed. Go say hi to him. I’ll stay here until he falls asleep.”
I couldn’t help but look at him suspiciously as he was extra fawning this morning. Hey, what the hell that supposed to mean? Those kisses he kept planting on my shoulder? I laughed as it tickled and preferred to pull away from him. I rather got out of my blanket fort before he would make me beg to repeat last night’s events.
I wanted to obey him, to take his advice. I headed to the door, really intending to greet my Uncle when his deep voice stopped me.
“Princess?” He peered out from behind the blankets. With a sleepy look and messy hair. For a moment, the urge almost overwhelmed me. The irrepressible desire to go back to him and ignore the rest of the world. And never get out of there again.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to wear my T-shirt when you meet Jim. He knows it´s mine.”
His words, exactly these words were responsible for my complete awakening. I was grateful, so grateful that at least one of us was in possession of a working brain.
“Thank you,” I also said it aloud, “for saving me.”
Because that was what he did, he saved me from having a hard time explaining myself. However, instead of a smile I was naively expecting from him, I only got a narrowed, suddenly pretty piercing look from him.
“Don’t thank me,” he said gravely.
“Maybe I wanted to save you.”
“And maybe I just wanted to see you half-naked,” the corner of his lips rose into a crooked smile.
And I burst out laughing.
I wouldn’t have even thought of it, and he would have gotten what he wanted if he hadn’t mentioned it. Now, I was being extra careful by changing his T-shirt for a new tank top so he wouldn’t see anything. And then I laughed even more at the torturous moan, coming out of his throat as I turned with my back to him.
“Hey!” He muttered desperately. “What the hell is that? How many of those tiny tank tops do you have left?”
I failed to suppress another fit of giggles as a clear frustration grew in his beautiful eyes. But then it changed, I swear I saw a flash of determination in his irises when he looked me up and down.
“Just so you know,” he declared definitely, “I accept the challenge.”
What kind of a challenge?
To tear up every tank top I have?
And that determination turned into a heat. An alluring lust. It overpowered his expression as he kept staring at me, and I… Although I meant to protest, to tell him my opinion, maybe I even opened my mouth, I got out of the room instead. Before he would manage to engulf me.
“Jimmy,” I met my Uncle in the hallway, “you look awful.”
It immediately caught my attention. The black circles under his eyes, the very tired expression on his face. I guessed he’d been up all night.
“Honey,” he smiled weakly at me, “I actually feel the same way. I’m heading straight to bed. Is everything alright with you…?”
“Of course!” I blurted out not wanting to linger him. “Just go. And sleep well, okay? We´ll see us after school.”
“Have a nice day,” he ruffled my hair, and thank heavens, he disappeared in his room.
It must have been the fifth kiss the hellish envoy admired my lips with as I tried to drink coffee in the kitchen. I honestly admit it, I didn’t do very well with the swallowing thing. And he made it even worse when he pinned me to the kitchen counter, resting his hands on each side of me on the counter to keep me from escaping him. When he stared at me like that.
And I let him.
I let him kiss me, I didn’t stop him from imprisoning me. I didn’t have the strength nor the free-will to pull away from him. Or send him away. Or at least say something.
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I was subconsciously afraid that with talking, we could wake Jim up.
Maybe those kisses silenced me.
Maybe I stayed quiet because of his eyes.
And maybe I simply wanted to stand there with him like that.
I just knew I didn’t need to deal with what had happened yesterday.
I had no idea whether something would change between us, whether he was looking at me in a different way. I couldn’t say I didn’t care as that would be a lie. But at that moment, I had no idea what to say.
Because I no longer knew where the imaginary boundary of friendship lies.
Because I still didn’t know what he wanted from me, what his - everything - meant.
Because I suddenly recalled my dream.
And just so, suddenly, all the calm inside me turned to a confusion.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it as he pressed his lips to mine for the sixth time. I couldn’t help but think about it when I got in the car. I failed to suppress thinking about it during the whole first period.
About the gaze he had for me as I walked toward him. As I walked to the altar. The moved look on his face when he said I do to me.
I couldn’t get it out of my mind all fucking day.
I admit that it tormented me, I tortured myself by replaying the dream, our wedding, over and over in my head. Now, in broad daylight, my reasoning became clearer, I didn’t panic so much. Nevertheless, there remained one fundamental…, actually, the most fundamental fact, which I couldn’t ignore. I was going, I wanted to, damn… If I hadn’t woken up, I would have said yes to my demon. I really would have.
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I was so disconcerted because I didn’t panic over my decision anymore.
Maybe it thrown me off balance so much that I didn’t panic, even though I should panic.
But what I knew for sure was that I was reconciled with my decision. With the idea that I would be connected to him, that I would stay with him for the rest of my life. Until death do us part.
I had a little trouble facing him when the classes were over and he found me again. I was a little afraid to look at him. I was scared I would be searching for the emotion I saw in his eyes last night. My locker happened to be my salvation, I just pretended to look for something in there when he appeared next to me.
“What about a walk Princess?” he suggested. “The weather outside is beautiful.”
Oh yeah, he was right! And I was very tempted to agree. There was only one problem left.
“I’d love to,” I sighed heavily, and told him the truth, “but thanks to the high-heels I had to wore yesterday, my feet really ache. Your sister is devil, you know?”
He burst out laughing, my demon laughed heartily, and I would probably join him. I guess, I would have overlooked the fact that it was my sore feet and the abuse of his sister that he was laughing about right now. If it hadn’t been there. If he hadn’t said quietly: “I don’t get what´s so special about high-heels either. Those Converse sneakers suited you much more.”
Maybe it was a tenth of a second, maybe it lasted an eternity when I was standing in front of him. I stood there and just stared at him, I kept staring until his words reached my brain. Until all the right neural pathways connected.
“What?” I said softly as my mouth went dry in an instant. “What did you say?”
I stood in front of him and watched, I could watch in detail how his smile disappeared. The boy froze, he pressed his lips together, and… Here we go! That was a damn guilty look that appeared on his face.
What the fuck did he mean by those Converse sneakers?
Which “those Converse sneakers”?
Did he mean some specific ones?
Like the ones I wore to the wedding?
How the fuck does he know about that?
There were so many thoughts, millions of thoughts running chaotically through my head. Yet, I was sure it was just a dream. Still, none of this made sense to me. He said it, hell, this couldn’t be a coincidence! Not when he looked like he had a bad conscience, like he really had a very bad conscience.
“Eric, what did you say?” I insisted as I simply needed to know his answer. “How do you know about those Converse sneakers?”
I held my breath as he exhaled heavily. As if he had done something he shouldn’t have done, and now he was expecting trouble.
The air around me, I could barely gasp for it when he let his gaze fall upon the floor beneath us, confessing: “Because they were my idea, because I made it up. Because I let you dream about it.”
A second or an eternity, I was standing in that damn hallway, millions and millions of messy thoughts overloaded my mind as I stared at him blankly. There were things I already knew about him, yet I remembered the most important one straightaway.
He was my demon.
He could read minds; he could hear too good.
And I took a sharp breath at the moment the next theory flashed through my head.
That he was probably able to manage it the other way around as well.
“What the fuck did you say?” I hissed, slamming the stupid locker door, removing the last obstacle between us.
The corners of his lips twitched as soon as I cursed. I didn’t miss it and it turned me on even more. That he found it funny after what he had done to me, what he had just confessed to.
One step, or two that divided us, I didn’t hesitate to bridge them to get closer to him. To pin him against those lockers. And he let me, he didn’t pull away when he finally realized the seriousness of the whole situation.
“You let me dream about it?” I began to realize the anger growing inside me. “How? How did you do that? Did you get inside my head?”
He always had something at disposal. Words, expression, gesture, anything. And now, suddenly, his silence was strange, too suspicious. In fact, he didn’t even have to say anything, the silence, only his silence spoke for him.
And it all dawned on me.
I understood how he was able to control everything. Why he was so captivating. How he every time achieved what he wanted.
“You made me dream of…” I couldn’t finish it. I couldn’t believe that it could be true.
“Our wedding,” he said calmly.
He was really calm.
Despite everything he had confessed to, he was really calm.
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I was upset because he was capable of something like that. Because he used it on me.
Maybe I was furious because he let me dream of marrying him.
And maybe I almost exploded because of all the bullshit that the dream caused in my head.
But what I knew for sure, my demon crossed all my lines this time, and I had never been angrier with him before.
He got inside my head!
He dared to get inside my head!
“Why?” That was the first thing that interested me. I punched him in the chest, and then I got even angrier as I recalled that it didn’t hurt him. Still, I hit him again and again.
“Why did you do that?” My voice broke. I didn’t want him to see me like that. I didn’t want him to know how betrayed I felt, how much my heart ached. I wouldn’t expect it from him. Not from him. Just because he always claimed that he respected me.
His whole perfect chest served me to soothe my rage. And I kept beating him as it helped me relax at least a little. Without hesitation, I punched him again. And again. And again.
Until I couldn’t punch him anymore.
I blinked once, twice; it took me those two seconds to realize why couldn’t I move anymore. It was no longer him, but me, who was leaning against the lockers. It was no longer me, but him who pressed me against them.
With his body on mine, with his arms wrapped around my back, he didn’t even let me move. And the intense gaze which he imprisoned me with, didn’t really help me to sober.
“Because it was important to me,” he finally replied. He said dead serious. “Because I wanted to know. Because when I asked, you didn’t answer me.”
I couldn’t tell whether it was his tight embrace that didn’t allow me to breathe. Or whether it was his words that took my breath away.
“What?” I whispered with disbelief. “You manipulated my head just so you… Damn! What did you achieve then? Huh?”
He exhaled heavily; he loosened the grip around my body. And then it was a defeated tone I recognized in his voice: “It’s not what you think, Dove.”
He started his explanation with my favorite phrase. Exactly the one which I was beginning to be allergic against. But this time, I let him. This time, I needed to hear what he had to say.
“It was not about manipulation. I can think of a story, I can compel you to dream about it. But I can’t influence how you react to it, how you feel. Or… to be more precisely, I didn’t want to influence it. I wanted your honest reaction.”
How do I feel?
How the hell do I feel?
“So?” I gave him one of my most murderous looks, thanking all my lucky stars inwardly that I woke up before I said yes. “What did you learn?”
What’s the point when I didn’t answer you at all?
And the corner of my demon’s lips rose into his damn divine crooked smile. “You didn’t say no,” he whispered softly. “And that’s enough for me. For now.”
What the fuck?
He’s kidding me, isn’t he?
My face ended in my palms. I rubbed it without hesitation as if it should help me shake off the unpleasant feeling. Suddenly, I needed something, some kind of impulse that would restart my brain activity. Anything that would change my point of view.
“You know,” I wanted to scold him. I really wanted, I NEEDED to explain to him what´d caused. What kind of a huge mess he´d evoked in me. But finding the right words to describe it seemed too hard. “Do you even know… Damn! I… How did I…?”
“I know,” he interrupted me, the guilt overwhelming his face again. “I saw the confusion in your eyes.”
Why did you go so far?
Why didn’t you stop?
“But I also saw peace, Dove,” he fixed his gaze on me. And the guilt turned to tenderness as he bent down searching for my gaze, too. “That´s what you felt, standing in front of me, didn’t you?”
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I wasn’t able to even look at him due to what he´d done.
Maybe it was the emotion that appeared in his irises that made me love him even more.
I just knew that my confusion deepened. That I needed at least two hours of running to get the anger out of me.
“I’m sorry, Princess,” I heard him say. “I’m really sorry.”
I saw the regret in his face as I looked at him again. Yes, he looked like he felt a sharp pang of remorse. But he was my demon, and I knew him.
He wished that he hadn’t pissed me off that he hadn’t disconcerted me. And for that, he truly was sorry.
But he didn’t regret doing it. Not at all. Not by a chance.
And I wouldn’t deal with it anymore. So we almost got married. Whatever. I would probably just give up and go home to calm down. I wouldn’t argue with him anymore.
If it wasn’t that crucial thing which crossed my mind and made me freeze.
“Are you doing it?” I asked quietly, now unable to gather my own thoughts. “Are you responsible for the nightmares I have? Are you?”
In an instant, an uncontrollable fear surrounded my heart grabbing it tightly. Exactly at that moment when I realized that this hadn’t had to be the first time he’d gotten into my head.
I had my answer.
The second, I looked up at him.
I knew right away.
He stiffened, his eyebrows shot up to the heavenly heights, and the previous guilt, tenderness, or amusement… they were gone. They disappeared straightaway.
And it hit me that it had been a mistake to ask him.
“What?” He asked breathlessly, I swear he suddenly lacked his voice. “What nightmares?”
It had been a colossal mistake to ask him.
“What nightmares?” He raised his voice as if I couldn’t hear him, sounding urgently. He approached me, I felt as if he wanted to wrap his arms around me again so I couldn’t run away from him. So I would have to answer him. “Lara, dammit! Are you having nightmares about me???”
There were hints of panic shining in his eyes now, the whole desperate look on his face forced me to get stuck. It took me perhaps a nanosecond to decide not to tell him anything about it. Not to give him another opportunity to blame himself for dragging me into his supernatural world.
“I didn’t say they were about you,” I narrowed my gaze at him, giving him the answer, he was used to. Not a lie, not the whole truth.
In a demonic style.
“How many times have you done it?” I rather asked. Because yes, on one hand, I wanted to change the subject before he would start with his interrogation. On the other hand, I needed to know. “How many times have you gotten into my head? This wasn’t the first time, was it?”
We both exhaled heavily when he shook his head no. He, as he confessed, and I over his confession itself. It ached again, something in my chest really ached.
“It was the third time, Princess,” he told me softly, and my heart stopped.
I wished, I wished so badly for my ears to mishear him. But the whole posture of his body told me that he was being honest with me.
How the hell can I trust him now?
“Do you remember the December night when you also had a nightmare, and I came to soothe you?”
My eyebrows shot up as his question surprised me. But I nodded waiting where he was heading to.
“You wanted me to tell you a fairy tale,” his shoulders dropped as if carrying the weight of his guilt. “And I asked you about the thing that gives you good feelings or thoughts. You said dragons and I made you dream about them. That was the first time I got into your head.”
I held my breath as I remembered. I remembered that dream about a Viking village and dragons very well.
Because it was fucking awesome.
“The second one happened last Thursday.” He kept staring at the ground, perhaps he didn’t find the courage to look at me. And that was good. Because my eyebrows shot up even higher hearing that.
“You were feeling bad, you threw up pretty much. I wanted you not to think about your body sore. And that´s why I made you dream about the two of us, lying on the cliff.”
I remembered this dream very well, too.
Because it was even more awesome.
“And the third time…”
I almost married him.
“Why should I trust you? How can I trust you at all?” I interrupted him with the most important question. At least for me.
The anger that had accumulated in me suddenly vanished. I couldn’t be mad at him for those two previous dreams, I simply couldn’t. And maybe I wished him to give me a reasonable answer. A reason to believe him. A sufficient answer to stop my brain from attacking me with continuous advice that I should run away from it.
“Why should I believe that’s all? That you don’t do it all the time?”
And my demon looked at me.
I wanted to back away as he reached out for me. But I didn’t. With my heart pounding, I kept standing still, letting him touch me and take my dragon pendant in his palm. The dragon pendant he´d given me.
“Do you remember what I told you about the amethyst?” He asked quietly.
My thoughts automatically wandered back to October. To the course we shared together. To the class when we talked about it.
It is an amethyst, you’re right. But this one is magical, you know. It protects from evil spirits. That’s why it shines so brightly, to ward them off.
“I said it would protect you from evil spirits,” he reminded me his own words, making me realize that he wasn’t kidding back then. “For example, from me.”
It hurt to watch the sadness overwhelming his face. It hurt even more to understand the meaning of the words coming out of his mouth.
“Mia gave it to me; it really is bound with magic. If you’re wearing it, there’s nothing I can do to you. I can’t compel you; I can´t influence you in any way, I can’t force you to do anything. I can’t get in your head. And you´re wearing it all the time, aren’t you?”
That one question immediately occurred to me. However, my demon understood what bothered me before I could ask aloud. “The first time, you took it off yourself as you were in shower. Last Thursday, I pulled it off along with your T-shirt when you threw up. And it was me again yesterday. For my own selfish reasons.”
And I remained silent.
Cause´ I had no idea what to say.
“How much did I fuck it up?”
He couldn’t stand the silence between us; I could see that. Urgency crept into his voice again, letting me know that he truly needed to know. “Please, Princess, how can I fix it?”
A million-dollar question.
I needed to calm down, that was for sure. I knew, I needed not to deal with it right now when I still felt a little betrayed.
“First of all,” I told him truthfully, “give me time to cool off. At least two years.”
He raised an eyebrow at me, but I just shrugged. At the moment, I meant it damn seriously. I just turned around, leaving him standing there. I desired to be alone.
And he… Surprisingly, he complied with me.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
In the evening, 9 hours after his confession, I was sitting on my bed hoping to fall asleep. Instead, I kept thinking about the same thing.
I kept replaying the dream he´d given me.
But now, for completely different reasons.
Because if he made it up, if it was his scenario, then the moment was actually real. His answer was real. He said I do of his own free-will.
I didn’t want to, I swear, I fought tooth and nail to push the thought out of my head. But to do so, I would have to have some self-determination. Yeah… When it came to Eric Lestrad, I didn’t even know what this word meant. He conquered all of me.
“We cannot be apart, Dove. That´s not what soulmates are made for.”
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe it was due to those two dreams he´d given me that were absolutely perfect. Too perfect to be mad at him.
Maybe it was due to my heart that had always defended him. Every time. Even if it meant going against myself.
However, all I knew was that I simply couldn’t be angry with him.
Even when I heard the gentle knocking on my window.
I could deny it, I could pretend to refuse it. I could have disagreed inwardly. But willy-nilly, I eventually had to admit that I was still glad. I was glad that he came to see me. That he was here, that I would see him today.
“Two years haven’t passed yet,” I narrowed my gaze at him, trying to look strictly as I opened the window. “What for have you come?”
The corners of his lips twitched. However, he became serious straightaway.
“For a kiss,” he said, and he didn’t seem to be kidding, “and forgiveness.”
His answer robbed me of all my arguments. I just stared at him, I watched that envoy from hell who controlled my heart while he was sitting on a tree with an innocent expression.
Not that I had a choice, I didn’t. Cause´ that pounding thing in my chest decided it for me. It made no sense to argue with myself again, it was a lost battle in advance. I simply let him in.
Without hesitation, he crawled into my room and threw himself on my chair. And I preferred to go sit on my bed, creating a safe distance between us.
Just for sure.
If he meant the kissing thing.
“Let me fix it for you, Dove,” my demon uttered after a moment of silence when he was only watching me. Quite intensely. As if searching, as if guessing what my reaction would be.
“The nightmares you have, let me get you rid of them.”
I raised my eyebrows as he surprised me perhaps for a hundredth time this day. I didn’t need to think hard, it dawned on me immediately. How he wanted to do it, how he wanted to help me with my problem. He practically asked me for a permission to get in my head again.
“I promise I won’t take advantage of it,” he added whispering. “Just let me do it for you.”
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe I didn’t want to wake up again in the middle of the night, sweaty, with a heart trying to jump out of my chest.
Maybe the idea of undisturbed sleep sounded too tempting at the moment.
Maybe it was due to the sincerity, shining brightly in his eyes.
All I knew was that I was really considering his proposal.
“How would you do that?” I asked straight.
Because I was curious.
Because it was my head we talked about.
“Simply,” he smiled. “You´re gonna tell me what you want to dream about and I´ll influence your thoughts. I´ll let you dream about it. But it should be something, people, places I know, Dove. Otherwise, you´re gonna have to describe them to me first.”
I understood what he meant, but I failed to suppress the suspicion. “And then?”
Because he was my demon.
Because nothing had ever been easy with him.
“Then I´ll guard your dreams during the night.”
I admit it. It was truly appealing. I opened my mouth to ask more questions as I wanted to know all about it. However, not a sound came out of my throat when that one thought ruined my hopes anyway.
“Thank you for your offer Eric,” I fell into my duvet, defeated. “But it´s pointless, you know. Those nightmares may come after you fall asleep. When you´ll no longer control my dreams.”
The white ceiling seemed so dark as only my bedside lamp was filling my room with poor light. I heard him take a deep breath. Yet he said nothing. I assumed he realized I was right.
“I don’t need to sleep, Princess.”
Oh gosh, what?
I mean… WHAT?
Perhaps only automatically, I shot up back into the sitting position. There was a darkness in my head, there truly was. Because…, actually…
“You don’t need to sleep,” I repeated after him. I had to make sure I hadn’t misunderstood him.
“No. I’ll watch over you all night.”
“How come you don’t need to sleep?” My voice jumped a little bit higher. But right after that, a much more important thing occurred to me: “So what the hell were you doing all the nights you were lying next to me?”
Oh, here we go!
The corner of his lips rose up into a crooked smile. Sparks came to life in his eyes. And the amusement overpowered his expression.
For a brief instant.
“I once told you I liked to watch you in your sleep. I still think it’s the most peaceful thing I’ve ever seen.”
I recalled his words. I recalled the day he´d shown me his room for the first time. Including his library where I found my portrait on an easel. Me as Sleeping Beauty.
“There´re many battles raging inside me, Princess. But when you´re with me, when I´m lying next to you, I feel calm. No night I´ve spent with you was long enough for me to enjoy it sufficiently.”
I exhaled. Heavily. Because… Yes! The boy had his ways to take my breath away. And mess with my head.
“And besides,” he smiled, “I said I didn’t need to sleep. Not that I can´t sleep at all. To be honest, you´ve managed to lull me to fall asleep not just once. Remember the night after we watched Bon Jovi´s concert. Or the night after the boys left. I slept like a baby.”
The corners of my mouth twitched against my will. Cause´ I also recalled mornings that followed the nights he was talking about. I recalled the peace shining from him.
I looked at him, I kept looking at him as it dawned on me. He didn’t say anything else, yet I knew what he was asking about. My consent. And I… Despite everything he’d told me today, despite everything he’d confessed to, his last confession touched me.
I watched him, I kept staring at him. But there was nothing, no weapon could help me to protect myself against the tenderness reflecting in his eyes. The envoy…, my envoy from the middle of hell had never been so serious before.
“Do you trust me?”
I didn’t need as much time as I thought I would. Actually, I don’t even know how and when, who or what controlled my movements, I just reached for my dragon pendant and took it off my neck.
To my huge surprise, my brain didn’t protest.
I felt naked in front of him as there was nothing to protect me from him anymore. Only himself. There was no one but he, my demon, who had all the power. Over me, over my mind, over my dreams.
I fell back onto my bed, yet I still noticed it. The beautiful smile that beautified his face even more. As if he was moved by my gesture.
I wasn’t sure.
Maybe it was because he always took care of me.
Maybe it was because I simply loved him.
Yes, I was sure.
I really trusted him.