“Why did I come back to you then?”
I asked, I asked the question aloud only automatically. Because suddenly, it all fit together, it made sense to me. And I…, I was no longer afraid. Now, I just came to terms with it. He didn’t have to say anything, I already knew his answer.
“You always come back,” he repeated, perhaps for the thousandth. “Whenever you try to escape, I don’t even have to look for you. You always come back to me.”
He was my demon, and I was his.
“What do you want from me?”
I shivered as the smile faded from his face. And all that was left was coldness and callousness. They dominated his expression; they dominated his eyes as he pressed his hand to my chest.
“Your heart,” he uttered quietly, “is mine.”
And then that unbearable pain paralyzed me.
I shot into a sitting position, gasping for air. Perhaps only the lack of oxygen made me immediately collect myself and wake up. I didn’t need an extra second to realize that my nightmare had tortured me again.
It had come back on Friday; it had prevented me from sleeping on Saturday as there had been no demon near me who would have been guarding my dreams all night.
Spotting the dying fire in the fireplace, I recalled what had happened couple of hours ago. I was his and he was mine, we fit together perfectly. And suddenly, the fear of my dream vanished and there were only goosebumps that controlled my body. Yes, reminiscing about the way he was touching me last night, I failed to suppress the feeling that I would never stop shivering.
He was lying next to me, his hand wrapped around my belly. His divine chest rose and fell regularly, his damn hot naked body seemed to be completely relaxed. There it was, the peace I loved about him so much, literally shone from every his pore.
But this time, I wasn’t drowning in the deep brown of his irises. I wasn’t losing myself in their glow as my demon´s eyes were closed. Yet, I was bewitched.
He must have fallen asleep, he´d managed to fall asleep. And at that moment he simply looked so stunning, so incredibly calm, that I wouldn’t hesitate to endure another thousand of bad dreams if it meant that I could look at him like that after waking up.
Suddenly, I was dying to know whether I really was the reason he looked so peacefully. Whether he told me the truth couple of days ago, whether there was at least a tiny part of that beautiful sight in front of me that I was responsible for.
I laid back into the duvets, letting my night fears fell into oblivion. I just wanted to keep staring, I just wanted to enjoy his closeness. I desperately wished for some of his calm to pass on me. However, no. Instead, I only felt uneasiness growing inside me.
I was his and he was mine. But I loved him. I loved him so fucking much while he wasn’t capable of feeling anything.
Yes, we fit together perfectly. But I had no idea what it would be like between us now. Now, after the moment of passion had passed.
I did it, I really did the one thing I was afraid of. I let him conquer me, I succumbed to him. We both succumbed to the lust that overwhelmed us. And all that was left for me, was wondering what it would be like when he woke up.
Whether I would manage to make him feel.
Or I would become his trophy.
And lying there next to him, I swear I felt everything just not the peace I so desperately longed for. I needed to stop thinking about it. I needed to keep believing that my heart wouldn’t suffer once again. I just craved to fall asleep again. However, it was all, but not the sleep that took over me.
We had an hour and a half before we had to get up. I didn’t want to wake him yet. I carefully freed myself from under his arm as I decided to use this time properly. I wanted to go home and get dressed as I couldn’t go to school in his T-shirt, still wet jeans and without panties.
As quietly as I could, I tried to find some paper to leave a message on. But I gave up as soon as my demon mumbled something unhappily. I mean, I really didn’t have the heart to rouse him. Not when it was rather rare that he´d fallen asleep at all.
I planned to make myself a cup of coffee as soon as I crossed the threshold of Jim’s house. Yet my phone immediately discouraged me from doing so. It was roaring all over the place, and I couldn’t shake a bad premonition off me as I ran upstairs to pick it up. Exactly that bad premotion that multiplied when I saw Eric´s name on the screen.
I didn’t even have the chance to say hi to him.
“Dammit, Dove!” he hissed pretty angrily. “Please, tell me you’re somewhere at my place and I can’t find you only because I’m freaking out right now!”
I should have left the message.
“No, Eric, I …” I tried. I truly tried to say at least something.
“Why?” He immediately interrupted me. “Why are you keep running away from me? Did I hurt you?”
“No!” I blurted out, intending to get that nonsense out of his head. I wasn’t allowed to speak though.
“You regret what happened, don’t you?” he breathed defeatedly. And the broken voice I heard on the other side, I swear, it he had the power to wreck me.
Fuck! I really should have left the stupid message!
“Damn, stop it!” I blurted out for the second time, maybe a little upset. I collected myself straightaway though when I recognized fear that was speaking out of my demon.
“I woke up too early,” I tried to explain it to him in the softest possible tone. “You were still asleep, and you looked so cute, and I didn’t want to wake you. I simply thought it was a good idea to go home and put on some dry clothes. That´s all, okay? I don’t regret anything, and I didn’t intend to run away from you. I swear I didn’t! “
That silence after my speech was killing me but I endured it. I gave him a moment to realize the meaning of my words.
“I’m sorry, Dove. I’m just, I’m …,” he sighed heavily. “You always do it, you always run away from me. I panicked when I woke up and you weren’t here. I got scared that I screwed up with you again.”
Something stabbed me right into my heart when I heard his confession. I was forced to admit that he was right. I´d always ran away from him. I’d been doing it often lately because I was afraid, he would smash that beating thing underneath my ribs again. I guess, it was just my self-preservation instinct. I guess I simply hadn’t wanted to wait for it to happen. I guess I´d wanted to leave him before he left me.
But now, now I was determined not to give up on him.
“You didn’t screw up, Eric. Everything´s fine, okay? Everything´s absolutely perfect! I’ll see you in an hour, right?” I hoped he could somehow hear me smiling. “You better think about a place where you’re taking me for our date. I expect it to be phenomenal.”
He burst out laughing, my demon finally loosened the tense tone. Yet there was still a little doubt in his voice when he asked: “Do you promise?”
I didn’t quite understand what he meant exactly. Whether he needed to be sure that our date still stood. Or he needed to be sure that I wasn’t lying, that we would see each other in an hour. However, whatever he was asking about, I was willing to agree.
I threw myself heavily on my bed dropping the phone from my hand after I ended the call. Suddenly, I wasn’t sure either. Whether I felt relief or, on the contrary, whether it was tension, growing inside me.
Because the blister pack, lying on my desk caught my eye.
I was aware that we didn’t use any protection. And I could only hope now that the birth control pills which I took only occasionally since the breakup with Jayce, were enough.
“Lara, this is not good!”
I jerked when Jessica grabbed my hand and squeezed it so tightly that I could swear she stopped blood from flowing through my fingers. It hurt a little bit, it did. But the worst part was that she was right. “Dammit, do something about it!”
I stood at the parking lot, waiting for my demon as I wanted to show him that I´d meant every word I´d said earlier in the morning. I longed to see him already, I needed to know how he would look at me. And my best friend found me there, she joined me to say hi to me.
And it would have been perfect, I might have been happy that I didn’t have to wait alone if only she hadn’t been accompanied by Kyle. And Colin.
I noticed how he looked me up and down, I noticed the smile on his face. However, it didn’t bother me. He acted this too nicely way since the evening we´d watched movies at my place and I simply got used to it. He still hadn’t said anything, and I had the impression that he didn’t have the courage to confess his feelings to me.
But what I didn’t manage to notice was Eric’s Mitsubishi, which he parked right next to my car. I found out that my demon was already here only due to the horror that suddenly appeared on Jessica’s face.
In those six months, I learned a lot about him.
I knew how he looked like when he didn’t like something. I saw him angry. I knew how he reacted when something pissed him off. Yet, I´d never seen him raging so much as he was raging at that moment.
I didn’t have to guess because of whom.
“Jess, get Colin out of here!” I told her automatically, whispering. “Do it now!”
I didn’t look at her anymore, there was no time for it as I needed to put out the fire burning in the demon’s eyes. I literally ran to him only to stand in his way.
“What’s going on?” I didn’t hesitate to ask. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Dove,” he jerked as soon as he spotted me. He stopped abruptly only to assure me that the anger had hazed his mind so much that he didn’t see me coming to him.
I narrowed my gaze at him. I guess, I was trying to show him how much I disagreed with his overreaction. Because it must have been for the millionth time, he didn’t like something about Colin.
“You don’t know what he was thinking about!” he suddenly sounded like a small child who needed to convince me of his truth.
“Damn, no! Not again!” I shook my head vehemently as I got on the verge of my patience. “Beat him when he thinks you’re an idiot, okay? Not when he thinks about being in love with me!”
And his eyes, his glowing, suddenly terrifying demonic eyes pierced me. He took a sharp breath, then said irritably: “He imagined fucking you in the school toilets!”
I jerked again.
His voice, something about it, the words he barked out, they stabbed me into my heart. My gaze fell upon the dirty concrete below us as I couldn’t deny the pain I felt. Because yes. What he´d told me really hurt.
He saw it. Whatever I had written in my expression now, he must have seen it. His heavy exhalation told me that. His whole body relaxed, all the anger disappeared, and there was only despair, radiating out of him.
He placed his hands on my butt, he grabbed me to lift me up. I automatically wrapped my legs around him, letting him lean me against my car. And I could immediately feel the weight of his conscience, as his head dropped on my shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Princess,” he muttered. “I’m really sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.”
And I suddenly couldn’t breathe. Maybe because of his arms that were pulling me closer to him. Maybe the hopelessness in his irises took that breath away from me.
“Will you leave me now?” he whispered. “You won’t you leave me, right?”
I cupped his face with my hand as I needed to make him look at me. I needed to look him in the eye.
“Eric?” I tried to search, to find the reason that had led him to come up with something like that. “Is something wrong?”
Because he seemed far too insecure, because he was suddenly behaving completely differently than I was used to. As if he was really scared. As if he put his captivating ego aside.
A soft kiss landed on my shoulder. My demon started to trail them all over my neck, making his way up to my lips. But he didn’t touch them. He didn’t dare to touch me.
“Tell me,” I insisted, letting the panic creep into the tone of my voice. “What’s happening?”
Didn’t he know he was tearing my heart with that desperate expression?
“I’m scared, Dove,” he whispered, “I’m terribly afraid that I´ll screw up again and you won’t give me another chance.”
I raised an eyebrow as his words surprised me because they did, they really threw me off balance. I didn’t expect it, I didn’t expect such a confession. I just thought he was jealous of Colin again.
“I offered you peace,” he said, “I wanted to give you time because I needed you to forget about everything I´ve ever done to you. I needed the sadness to disappear from your face. I needed another chance so I could try to win you over.”
I stared at him, I kept staring, he…, his deep voice, the sounds coming from his mouth… Hell! It really took me a while before I understood him.
“It was fucking killing me to stay away from you, but I managed to survive somehow. We made a deal and I wanted to respect it. I intended to wait for the day when you let me start conquering you again. But you said nothing, Dove, and I was going insane without you.”
Is this the reason he didn’t talk to me for two weeks?
“I kept my distance; I swear I tried. But instead, I crawled into your room at two in the morning. And then you said you could never hate me and at that moment I knew that there is no power in the world that could tear me away from you.”
Something in his eyes softened but he didn’t let me admire their beautiful color. My demon closed them, and I simply failed to suppress the impression that he didn’t do it because he wouldn’t have been able to face me. But because he wasn’t able to face his thoughts.
“And instead of listening to what you want, I forced you to let me touch you. I let my own desire to have you, control me. And you ran away from me, you still keep running away from me.”
No, the pain I felt in my heart a while ago was nothing compared to the one that was crushing me as I saw the sadness overwhelming the only boy I loved.
“You´re the best part of me,” he looked at me again with a determination growing in his gaze. “You´re the only one I care about. I need you to be honest with, Princess. Please, tell me. Did I hurt you? I’ve never been so terrified as this morning when I couldn’t find you anywhere. And then I acted like a jealous …”
I covered his mouth with my hand as I wasn’t able to bear his despair anymore. Because anything he blamed himself for wasn’t true, and I´d never seen him so vulnerable before.
It was tearing me to pieces.
“Eric…,” I had no idea what to say, what I wanted to say. And it didn’t really help me start thinking when he distracted me with those kisses, he covered my palm with.
But staring into his eyes, I stopped fighting with myself. I told him the truth anyway.
“It’s you. No one but you. You´re the only one who owns my thoughts, whose kisses I want. The one who can touch me. Not Colin. No one else. You didn’t force me to do anything, I wanted you to have me as well. You didn’t hurt me, and I swear I don’t have regrets. I didn’t even think about running away in the morning, I really just wanted to change. I said I wouldn’t give up on you and I mean it. This time, I’ll stay with you, okay?”
I surprised him; I knew I did. He stopped his kissing attack, his eyebrows shot up. Suddenly, my demon just kept watching me, studying me as if listening intently to every single word I said.
“Mia told me,” I admitted to him. “She told me it’s not natural for you to feel something. But you´ve already made a great progress and I believe in you. I don’t want to be your trophy or a friend with benefits. And I won’t lie that I’m scared. I’m afraid that you´re gonna hurt me again. Nevertheless, I stand my ground. I will not give up on you. I promise.”
I ventured; I found the courage to take my hand off his mouth. Just to find his serious expression. He was looking at me, my demon was still watching me and now, my gosh, out of the blue, I was literally drowning in the endless tenderness that began to form in his eyes.
“Lara,” he whispered. He whispered my name just before he pressed his lips to my mouth. Before he passed the tenderness from his gaze onto his kiss.
I saw that he wanted to say something, but he got stuck, as if he didn’t know how to start either. I recognized there still was something bothering him.
“You and I,” I smiled. I spoke instead of him. “You´re gonna take me out tonight and we´re gonna talk about everything. Okay?”
I needed to assure him that everything would be fine. I needed him to know before the classes separated us. The school bell´s first ringing I heard from the distance told me that we didn’t have much time left. And there was one thing I wanted to talk to him about.
“I …, we …,” I began reluctantly, not even knowing how to proceed. And only for the peace in my mind, I forced myself to continue: “We didn’t use any protection yesterday …”
In fact, I had no clue what I wanted him to say to me. I had no idea how I wanted him to react. And my demon raised his eyebrows again but then he just exhaled heavily. Defeatedly. As if it was the last straw to break a camel´s back.
“I can’t make you pregnant,” he muttered tormentedly. “Even if I wanted to, I can’t. My whole existence isn’t right, the demons are abominations of Nature, Dove. We´re not allowed to reproduce.”
Is he saying that I don’t have to stuff myself with hormones anymore?
Why the hell does he look so unhappy?
I didn’t get it; I didn’t understand why his sadness returned. And it was he again who brought me back to reality: “I can’t have a baby with you now, or ever. I can’t really give you anything. Anything you deserve.”
Maybe few seconds passed, maybe we were standing there for an entire era until I collected myself. Until I understood the consequences of his confession. But before I could open my mouth and say something, I was standing on my feet and my demon dragged me to school, as it was the second ringing, we both heard.
I earned a kiss on my forehead. He prolonged that moment as he stroked my hear. Yet I didn’t overlook the damn despair that dominated his beautiful eyes again as he headed to his class.
It kept haunting me.
Well… Yes, fine, I know.
What he said to me in the morning was not a trifle, but quite a crucial thing. And maybe I really took it easy. However, I was seventeen. Seventeen goddammit! I had no clue what kind of relationship we had at the moment. How could I know what would happen in ten years?
I was thinking about it, I kept thinking and thinking but no. No ideas, no solution, nothing. And it became impossible to think at all as the restlessness slowly but surely overwhelmed me and I wasn’t able to defend myself against it.
Because my demon was nowhere to be found.
I searched for him everywhere after the first period. I searched for him everywhere after the second period. I didn’t mean to push him, as it looked like he probably had his own demons, which he himself needed to face. I simply knew that there still was something bothering him, and I wanted to give him space just as he´d given it to me. Whatever he felt, I longed for him to come to me because he wanted.
But willy-nilly, there came a moment when I couldn’t take it anymore. I needed to see him, to make sure that he was alright.
Eric, I miss you. Are you running away from me now? I´ll be at the vending machines during the big break in case you want to talk. I´m here for you, you know that right?
I texted him just a minute before the bell rang. Actually, I didn’t expect him to answer, I only hoped he would come.
I headed straight to my favorite hiding place. I leaned against the wall, I just stared at the playground behind the glass wall, searching for at least some peace I´d always found there.
And then, then I absolutely forgot about everything anyway.
The pain he caused me, all those nights I wasn’t able to breathe, all the tears I cried for him. The days when he made me laugh, the way he cared. That I felt like a real princess because of him. Suddenly, it all made sense to me. Suddenly, I understood that everything that had happened should have happened.
Everything we´d been through led to this moment when the bewitching fragrance surrounded me. When his arms wrapped around my body and then it was his firm chest I leaned with my back against.
I simply knew I was exactly where I always wanted to be.
I almost failed to suppress the shivering as I heard his deep voice, the way he said my name. As if his lips couldn’t say anything nicer, anything more precious. He left an indelible mark on me as he ran with his nose through my shoulder, tickled the skin of my neck to press a gentle kiss on a sensitive spot underneath to my ear.
“I love you.”
There were some freshmen who spent their break running across the playground. I didn’t have understanding for their zeal. With every passing second, they moved closer and closer to their goal. With every damn passing second which I needed to realize the meaning of his words. To realize that he really said it. That I heard it.
“I want you to know,” he kept talking, not waiting for my answer. He kept whispering, yet I perceived clearly and distinctly the pain that crept into his voice. “I need you to know that I wished, I desperately wished to be worthy of you. I tried to do everything possible and impossible to deserve you, to be good enough for you.”
His arms tightened his grip around me. As if I was just a dream that could fade before his eyes. As if he was afraid that this wasn’t real. But I was scared as well.
“Don’t you ever think that I kissed you that I would dare to kiss you out of fun. You were never only a trophy to me, I never thought of you otherwise than with respect. You are my best friend, Dove. The most precious thing I could ever hope to have. My soulmate. I fell for you the moment I saw you, and although I had no idea what I felt back then, I know it now. And I need you to know it, too.”
I closed my eyes, letting only my heart listen to him. The unbearable urge to scream, to tell him I felt the same way almost overwhelmed me. But there was something radiating from the whole posture of his body that made me suppress my longing. My demon needed me to hear all he wanted to say. And he gently kissed my hair.
“I was jealous of Colin because I was afraid, I would lose you. Now, I’m jealous because of who he is. A normal human boy with whom you can have a normal human life. Family and children and all those perfect moments you once told me about. He can give you everything I can’t. I hopelessly want it to be me, but I can’t.”
I understood. As soon as his confession left his mouth, I knew where the source of his despondency came from. As if he had no clue that I didn’t care. As if he had no idea that he was perfect to me.
“You made me forget who I am and there´s no way to describe how grateful I am for that. But I can’t keep forgetting about it anymore. Not when it comes to you. You are the most important part of me, and you have to be happy. I wouldn’t fucking care if my world came crushing down but you have to be happy. And that why I can’t claim you, I can’t have you for myself, I can’t put you in danger anymore. Even if it means that I have to give up my chance to be happy, I can’t be that selfish with you.”
The boys outside just started to run their second round and I was still standing here, hidden in the arms of a boy whom I loved so damn much. And somewhere between his underestimation of himself and that nonsense that I could be happy without him, his words stopped making sense to me.
His palm caressed mine. So softly, so gently as if he was terrified that he could hurt me only with his touch. He intertwined our fingers as he leaned his nose to my cheek. And looking at our hands, I was simply convinced that they fit together perfectly.
“I want you to know,” his voice broke forcing my heart to start pounding at the light speed, “I need you to know that you’re everything to me. Everything I’ve ever really craved, the best I’ve ever had. Even though it was only for a while. Maybe I really wasn’t able to feel anything. But you made me, Dove. You made me feel it all. And I know that I love you.”
He fondled my neck with his tongue one more time, he kissed me as if he could do it only once. As if he needed to enjoy it one last time.
“I’m madly in love with you, Lara and I beg you to promise me never to forget it.”
Thousands, millions, trillions, so many thoughts flashed through my mind in an instant. As if every single second lasted for years, I was just standing there trying to wake up, I needed to wake up.
I should be beside myself with joy, I should be in seventh heaven, I should be walking on air. Because my demon just refuted everything I´d been afraid of. He was mine and in return, I belonged to him.
Yet, there was something, the tone of his voice, the way he spoke to me, that kept me from doing so. Cause´ I couldn’t ger rid of that suffocating feeling as if he was saying goodbye to me.
And then I froze.