The Grey Girl

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Chapter 45: For how long

Alex heard his father and brother speaking softly and then heard the lock click in the front door. He was now alone in the huge old house. Making his way down the hall, his heartbeat increased with every step. She turned to face him as soon as he crossed the threshold. Her sad smile shattered his heart. Chloe was going away soon. There was nothing either could do about that. Edgar was gone. The items taken by his brother had been returned. The other girls had been laid to rest.

Alex’s finger ran along the delicate gold chain. He wanted so badly to give it to her. He also wanted nothing more than to keep her with him forever. Her soft words twisted his stomach: “I am bound to this world through that.” Her ghostly hand caressed his.

A thought sprang into his clouded brain. “If you are bound to this, and I can take it from the house…” He got lost in thought. Could it actually work? Would she even want to go?

Her fingers glided along his face, caressing his cheek. She stroked his furrowed brow. “I think I may be able to leave as well.” Her eyes searched his. His hope filled her with its glow. “I would like to go for a walk with you,” she whispered.

Alex offered his hand. It was warm and alive to her touch. He could feel her presence yet not really feel her hand in his. It was enough. They proceeded together to the front door. He opened it for her; she smiled her thanks. Each step farther from the house scared her. Each step away also lifted her soul. She was farther away than she had ever been. There was no pain. No pull. Warmth rose from Alex’s hand up her arm. The night held a crispness of early spring. She could feel it on her face, a sensation she hadn’t known in decades.

Chloe let go of Alex’s hand. There was something there. Alex wasn’t looking at her. She opened her hand, discovering her necklace. She could feel the ground beneath her feet, the chill on her face. Her coat fluttered as she spun in place. She felt. It was like being alive. Her laughter pieced back together the ragged edges of his torn heart. He turned, not daring to believe. She flew to him, her footsteps clicking along the pavement. She was in his arms laughing.

He buried his face into the rough wool of the coat. Held her along her slender waist and ran a hand along her back. Her arms encircled his shoulders, holding tight. She was standing on her toes. They stayed that way for an eternity or a fleeting second; he was unsure. She relaxed to standing normally. The look on her face as she held on to his upper arms was unreadable. He held her, not willing to let her go. She was there. She was completely there, and she was staring at him with those stunning blue eyes. The world around them blurred and disappeared.

He was lost in those eyes, a sapphire sea as beautiful as the sky and as deep as the ocean. The feelings he held close poured back to him out of those eyes. He inched closer, not knowing what would happen. Her arms moved around his neck as she inched closer to him. She felt so solid in his arms; how long would it last? Could he do this? Her eyes closed slowly, and her head turned slightly. His eyes slid shut. Her lips were warm—her kiss the sweetest. It lasted a few seconds; he didn’t want it to end, but he didn’t want it to get awkward. She was smiling against his lips. He pulled back, slowly opening one eye.

“I may be the one who hasn’t had a kiss in seventy years, but you are the one who needs practice.” She laughed, pulling him into a hug. He kissed her again; this one went much better. The night was spent walking through the town. She told him of the past; he told her of the present. Stories were interrupted with the occasional kiss. They walked on as he pushed the nagging question further and further back in his mind: How long will this last?

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