I sat up and closed my eyes, willing the tears that threatened to spill down my cheeks to stay behind my eyes. They weren't just because of Alex's rebuff, though that was a major part of it; they were because I felt like I had betrayed him, even though he didn't care about me anymore, even though he wasn't worth loving. As Alex and I had deduced earlier, I was still in love with him. But thoughts of him rapidly disappeared as my brain got tired of such depression and the anxiety that invariably accompanied those painful memories. They were replaced by the memory of the hardening of Alex's eyes. I didn't have much of an opportunity to linger on these though since he was returning with a glass of water.
"Thank you," I murmured, not meeting his gaze.
"You're welcome," he muttered, taking his place next to me again.
I swallowed again, ensuring that the tears stayed in their rightful places, in their glands.
"Did he tell you what he wanted with me?" I asked bravely.
To drink from you," he stated simply, before adding in a darker tone; "I would've killed him if his fangs even grazed your skin,"
I gulped involuntarily. Slowly I looked away and mumbled "Would you think me crazy if I let someone do that to me?"
"Depends on the reason... is this going to lead to /him/?"
I smiled wryly. "Yeah, I guess." With unexpected courage, I confessed "I'm half talking about what I used to do and half speculating about the future, when he comes to get me."
"You'll have to make a choice, Flora... when he comes..."
"Between what?" I whispered, pained.
"You and ... him?" I asked, hardly daring to believe my ears.
"Flora I... I," he stammered, like something was caught in his throat and he looked away. "Ignore me." He smiled but there was so much pain in it that I almost couldn't bear to look at him. "It's nothing; don't worry, ignore me." His words were rushed and I couldn't detect the emotion behind them.
"No," I said. "What were you going to say? Are you saying I can't be friends with you if I don't want him to get hurt?"
"No, I refuse to say it!" He looked up, as if tears were fighting behind his eyes, "it doesn't exist! I won't fool you! I won't lie to myself, I won't!" He cried before hiding his face in his hands.
I stared at him, stunned. "It's not about /him/, is it? It's ... it's about me." I continued to stare, paralysed by shock, unable to even reach out and pat his shoulder. "You're saying ... something about ... me." I sounded so stupid but I couldn't bring myself to utter something along the lines of what I suspected. It was just too hard ... and too incredible.
"You must have felt it? Like a ripple in the air? Or was it only my... blood-pumping organ that beat irregularly?" Immediately after it was said he clamped his mouth shut and looked to the floor.
"I ... I felt nothing," I told him. "I ... Oh, Alex." Fighting my paralysis, I reached out and hugged him. "I'm sorry," I whispered
"It's fine, 'cause you know what? I don't believe. I don't. I never did..." He fought me with words, but didn't fight my embrace; instead he leant into me.
"It's nothing to be ashamed of," I whispered in his ear. "I'm only sorry I didn't feel it too. I ... I really like you, Alex. And if I could tell my heart what to do, I'd ask it to consider you. I really appreciate what you did for me today and your vow to protect me until your dying breath. I'm sorry for still being in love with ... Thorn." I fell silent as I realised that was the first time I'd spoken his name. It was the first time I'd even thought it. But feeling the word on my tongue, I simultaneously shivered, swallowed back strong emotion and felt a sharp pain in my heart. I pulled back from the hug.
"You don't get it. See? You're so love-struck you don't even see! I'm not ashamed, I hate it. I loathe it. I never want to feel it so long as I live!"
I looked away. I had no idea how to respond to that. I felt awkward but somehow isolated from the humiliation that should be rushing over me. I slowly stood up.
"You're probably right," I murmured. "I ... I should get going. Perhaps, ... don't worry about tonight. I need some time to ... think about things." And with that, I confidently walked out, finding the stairs and then the front door and leaving. I took a deep breath once outside and had to fight even harder not to cry. My attempts weren't very successful though, as tears sprang to my eyes.
Out of the blue came a low, pleasant voice, speaking in a British accent. A voice that chilled me to the core and froze me in my place. A voice that was impossible yet that I had been expecting ever since my dad and I had arrived here a fortnight ago.
"Who's upset you, baby? Want me to rip his throat out for you?"