Standing up, Beth stormed her way to the kitchen, determined to go straight up to Alex and kiss him, then demand to know what was going on with them. She stopped just outside the kitchen door as she heard her name in the whispers from inside. She stood there, listening.
“—tell her. You have to, eventually.” That was Cat, but what was she talking about?
“Catalin, just leave it. Let’s just focus on what we’re going to do.” There was Alex.
“Oh, I know, how about we tell Beth?” Cat suggested. Whatever it was, she certainly wanted her to know. But what was the secret?
“No Cat. Just leave it. Besides what would she think of us if she knew? Hm? Did you think about that? She’s your friend too. If you want to tell her, go ahead. Just know this: if you do, I’ll be angry.”
With that, Alex started towards the door. Beth panicked and ran back to the living room, throwing herself onto the sofa. Her heart was racing with panic. What if he knew she’d been listening?
Alex walked into the living room, smiling at her. He sat beside her and sighed, trying to relax.
“Are you okay?” Beth asked.
“Of course. Are you okay?” he asked, still smiling.
“Well, I think I bit my lip earlier, and it might need kissing better,” she said, smiling cheekily.
Alex brushed her hair over her shoulders and kissed her. Within moments, Beth forgot everything. She forgot that had happened at school, she forgot what she’d overheard, she even forgot about their Maths test on Monday. All she knew was that she loved Alex and that they were together.
When he pulled away from her, only by a few inches, there was a mixture of love and pain in his eyes. Beth stroked his cheek, wanting to take all of the pain away. She hated to see him hurt. He kissed the palm of her hand as she brushed his skin with the tips of her fingers.
Beth pulled herself into a more upright sitting position as Catalin came in. Beth watched as she went straight to the window and lifted the curtain to look outside. All there was to see was white – the white snow, the white ground, the white sky. Then, against the white, was a raven. As black as night, it stared at the house. It seemed to be alone. The darkness of its feathers contrasted with the whiteness of the tree it sat in. It spread its wings for a moment. They were easily a metre long each. It was, by far, the largest bird Beth had ever seen.
Cat dropped the curtain, a grim, worried expression on her face. She tried to catch Alex’s eye as she left the room, but he wouldn't look at her. She scowled and shut the door behind her.
Alex got up and went to the fireplace. Placing a bit of kindling in the old marble feature, he picked up the matches from the mantelpiece. He lit it and slowly built up the fire. It didn’t take long for the room to warm up.
Beth pulled her legs up. She looked around the room. It was old – Victorian or something, so Alex had told her – and the furniture, too, was old-fashioned. The cream sofa had a wooden frame and soft cushions. The wallpaper was a floral pattern, the foreground only just a lighter red than the background. Beth loved this room. It was her favourite room in the whole house, and that was saying something; there were rather a lot of rooms.