I wake up when I feel something nudge me against the shoulder. I sit up immediately and look around bewildered. At first I think the dark shape looming over me, is a menacing shadow, but then he whispers, “It is just me.”
I frown and glance at the window at the same time. I see the white of his teeth as he smiles widely down at me.
“Scoot over,” he says as he lies down next to me. He stays on top of the bedding and I feel imprisoned as the duvet pulls tightly against me. He lifts himself and he pulls the material out from under him.
He settles back against the headboard, his legs extended along my body and he folds his one leg over the other.
I lift myself up onto my elbow. With my head resting on my palm, I look up at him amused. “What do I owe this sudden visit to? I thought you stopped pestering me and visiting me like a thief in the night, now that you and Candice have become so close.”
He looks down at me seriously. “Have I told you yet how amazing you are?”
I laugh softly. “I believe you have.”
“But have I ever told you, you are the one.”
Sitting up completely, I move myself back until I am sitting next to him. I nudge him playfully with my shoulder. “I bet you say that to all the girls. Candice practically beams whenever she talks about you.”
He looks down at me and his eyes pierce mine with unspoken words. I look away uncomfortably. I am not supposed to choose him. I am not supposed to imagine I like him more.
He takes my hand into his, and then he brings it up, level to his chest. With his index finger, he traces the lines in my palm. Softly he says, “Stay with me. Be with me and choose me.”
I try to pull my hand from his, but he holds onto it firmly. He turns toward me abruptly and my eyes fix on his chest. I know when I look up at him, I will want him to kiss me, but I am with Kieran. I am supposed to be with Kieran.
He hisses softly, “What Kieran keeps omitting to tell you, is that there is a possibility the shadows will take you. You will die, and.” He hesitates. “This time you might not come back or if you do, I won’t be here.”
I whisper scared, “I have died each time before my seventeenth birthday, you cannot stop the inevitable. If it is my time to go, then it is my time.”
He folds his hands around my shoulders, gripping them tightly and I feel him want to shake some sense into me, as his fingers push into the flesh around my shoulder bones. He says firmly, through gritted teeth, “Not if you make the right choice.”
I insist angrily, “Stop it with the whole convincing me thing. I have decided.” I make the mistake of looking up at him. He has not shaved and there is a three-day shadow along his strong jaw line. I feel my stomach drop when my eyes come to rest on his lips.
He smiles sardonically. “Do you want me to kiss you, Heather?”
I struggle to breathe and pull away from him roughly. “I think you must go now.”
He is standing by the window so fast I did not see him move. He turns to me and his words dump me into a deep pit of despair. “I’ll pick you up on Monday night, and take you to your mom so you can say your goodbyes. In case, you know, um, you don’t come back.”
On the Sunday, I spend every moment with my dad and Shirley, without telling them I might not be around as a living person for much longer.
When a moment comes when it is just the two of us sitting outside on the deck chairs, while the warm sun shines down on us, I tell him I understand why he and my mom are getting a divorce. He looks at me with a small smile playing on his lips.
Shirley comes back outside and I stop talking uncomfortably, but he gives me a look which makes me realize that even though there were times when I felt he did not love or care about me, he might have stopped calling me Princess, but I have always been his princess, he has always loved me.