"Thorn," I whispered, unwilling to turn around, to leave the idealistic dream world in which Thorn had never set out from England on a mission to kill me.
"So cheats do think about their boyfriends from time to time? Interesting."
"I'm not a cheat, Thorn," I said quietly.
He snarled. "What did I tell you about lying to me?"
I turned to face him, finding him startlingly close, behind me.
"I have never ever lied to you."
But turning was a mistake because it meant I was instantly faced with his soft blond hair, his sharp, angular features and his eyes: light blue and sparkling in the sunlight. The tears began to flow freely, all the tears I'd suppressed in Alex's presence, the tears that were all for this.
I remembered it all: stroking his hair which was fine as a cat's fur: silky and caressing; gazing into those crystal depths which opened up and caused me to feel like I was falling, kissing his smooth, flawless skin as I myself yielded to his touch.
Memories of his voice resounded in my head: him whispering my name and sending tremors through my entire being, him proclaiming the wonders of the beauty of my character and soul so joyously that glass shattered and we were allowed to gaze upon the realm of True Happiness, and lastly, him reciting heartrendingly beautiful poetry to me; the sound had been like the sight of an angel's perfect, downy, snow-coloured wings, the feel of a cool, refreshing summer's breeze, the scent of vanilla wafting in the air and the taste of chocolate as it melted on your tongue. It had been all these things and so much more.
And for his unending magnificence I cried like there was no tomorrow.
When my sobs had subsided into sniffles (almost struggling to cease at all when no comforting arms encircled me and no voice murmured words of reassurance into my ear or in my mind, the way I was used to), Thorn asked "Are you quite finished?"
I raised my eyes to his and was met by a torturous sight. For in those wondrous aquamarine caverns were walls of solid rock. Walls that I had caused to rise, to block out the sunlight and hide the wondrous rivers of his heart.
"I dreamed about you," I told him. "I've missed you more than words can convey."
"How touching," he stated emotionlessly.
I looked away, unable to bear the sigh of what I'd done any longer.
"Just thought you should know," I murmured.
"Don't worry: you'll have plenty of time to ‘pour forth your heart' before it stops beating. I have the best plan ever; you want to hear it?"
I shrugged resignedly. "I suppose so."
He lifted my chin. His eyes were burning excitedly yet the fire was cold.
"We are going to pretend to be dating again."
I stared at him, even as he let go of my chin.
"We're what?" I asked, shocked.
"But ... but...," I spluttered. "But why?"
Thorn looked distinctly uncomfortable.
"Perhaps because there's a part of me," he confessed quietly "that wants to remember how it used to be."
And for one brief second, the walls in his eyes came down, revealing a land whose king was Pain, whose suffering was indescribable, whose oceans and rivers were bodies of tears. In that second, I saw the justification for my forgiveness of his actions and an echo, though broken and discordant, of the person I'd fallen in love with just under three years ago.
They rose as fast as they'd fallen and now Thorn was smiling nastily, as if that lapse in his tight self-control hadn't happened, as if he had perhaps been acting for a lark.
"But definitely to hurt you," he said.
"What about Alex?" I asked in a hushed voice. "He says he loves me. What will I do about him?"
"No girlfriend of mine should even associate with a werewolf. You can tell him I'm your boyfriend and watch him break down."
"He knows about you. He's made it his purpose to kill you."
"He doesn't know who I am, though. If I walked into his house, right now, all he'd say is ‘Get out, you disgusting leech'."
"He knows you're blond, you have blue eyes and you're British."
Thorn shrugged. "If you don't convince him I'm safe, you'll regret it."
I sighed heavily.
"Okay," I said wearily.
"Now let's go to your house. Shall I drive?"
"Yeah," I murmured. "I don't think I have the energy."
I wasn't surprised when he led me to the Porsche nor when he reached into my jeans pocket and pulled out my keys. I was more than used to hanging out with a vampire. One thing that had always confused me, however, was that he hadn't used his psychic abilities to find out whether I was really lying when I insisted I wasn't guilty of the crime he thought I'd committed.
He unlocked the car and we climbed in. I found myself admiring his smooth movements and the control he had over his muscles. He noticed me looking at him before we left. In an unexpected bout of wistfulness, he murmured "You used to love the fact I seemed to have so much control. The thought of courting me in itself was a seductive one."
I swallowed hard as familiar shivers ran down my spine.
"Who's to say anything's changed?" I whispered.
He looked out of the windscreen and started up the car.
"Everything's changed," he replied shortly.
I sighed discontentedly and gazed out the window at the blurred landscape passing before my eyes.
‘Doesn't he wonder why I so readily agreed to his idea?' I wondered.
"Simple," he said, almost making me jump. "You have no choice. You know that you can have more time if you comply and also, the life of your silly puppy friend depends on it.
"I still love you," I whispered.
He growled loudly.
"Next time you lie, I'm suppressing your mind," he threatened.
For the rest of the journey, we were silent. It was an icy silence, somehow managing to capture all of Thorn's fierceness and all of my gloom and hold it there like unhappy flies caught in a spider's web.
He parked outside my house and a few minutes later, he had rung the doorbell to hypnotise my dad to make sure that no one tried to interfere with our new ‘relationship'.
As the door opened and Thorn quickly entranced my dad, I watched him and dared to ask myself if maybe, by some miracle, life would turn out all right because Thorn was back in it.