Mixed feelings about tonight. Was it right or was it wrong? Who can tell when the world is upside down?
I woke up and found getting ready a real chore. Ross woke up and came downstairs while Jack and I were having breakfast. I could tell he was still in a mood at me. I didn't blame him. I'd been really nasty. I apologised but he took no notice of me. I think he'd grown out of that age where I'd be forgiven quickly.
At school, I managed to get all work done before the afternoon during which I had sports. It was quite therapeutic and helped clear the bad things from my system. I was slightly happier when I got back to Jack's house.
After dinner, I went with Jack to his room, assuming I was still in Ross's bad books. I was slightly mystified when he closed the door.
Jack sat on the bed and patted a space next to him.
"You poor thing," he murmured. "Your kingfisher hates you, you're not getting enough sleep and you get loads of work at school."
"Hopefully it's not for too long," I said wearily.
"However long is long enough. You must be really stressed."
I shrugged. "I suppose so."
Jack spoke more quietly. "I know so. And, that's why you need (well, I feel you need) a proper form of stress relief."
"What do you mean?"
"Wait a minute. I'm getting there. It's quite delicate. I just need to know one thing."
"Do you still love me?"
"Of course," I replied, brow furrowing.
"Then, this should help you feel better."
I suddenly realised what he was about to do. I was too slow to move, though, as he leaned in and kissed me. I pushed him away before I could let myself lose myself in him.
"Jack, no," I whispered. "You can't."
There was only concern and love in his eyes. My heart was melting as he continued to gaze at me.
"I'll only do it to help you. I don't want to punish Ross or get my own kick out of it."
"No!" I said as he leant in towards me again. This time, though, I did lose myself. I found myself kissing him back. I also found a few tears were coming down my face.
Jack broke away. "Are you crying?"
I nodded. "I love you and I can't resist you... Also, I really have been stressed over the last few days."
"Would you like some release from it? Or would it add to the stress?"
"No, I definitely feel better. It's just... how could I justify doing something so wrong? You know me - I wouldn't cheat on a guy."
Jack nodded. "And that's very admirable. As I said, I only want to help you. I'm not being opportunistic or anything; I just care about you."
"Jack... This is going to sound awful, but I don't want to think about these things. I need a release, even if I'm not getting it in the most ideal way. Could you... help me lose myself for a few moments?"
Jack nodded. "I'm sorry this makes things so much tougher for you. Yeah, it's a reprieve, but at such a cost if we get found out..."
Jack leant in and kissed me again. I allowed my thoughts to be swept out of my mind as we shared in that sweet yet terrible moment.
When we broke away, I felt almost carefree but awfully guilty.
"We shouldn't have done that," I murmured.
"Just tell yourself I kissed you. If I'm the one doing this to you, you can feel slightly better about yourself."
"You're so wonderful."
"Am I, Rosa? Am I really? Maybe there's part of me which does want to be an opportunist."
"You can't help that. You love me."
"Do you want the psychic link?"
"That would be brilliant. You won't mind, will you?"
"No, I only care about you not feeling as if I'm invading your mind."
"You'll only really be at the back of it."
Jack got out his amber and cast the spell. Then he put his arms around me and kissed me for the final time that night.
I felt his immense love for me and protectiveness over me spill into my mind across the wide expanse that was our connected minds. I found myself surrendering to those strong emotions as once again, I lost myself. There was pain in Jack's mind and I felt that too, but his admiration and affection overwhelmed all.
When we finally broke away, I felt different.
Jack smiled. "You're looking at me the way Ross used to look at you, darling."
I shrugged. "I guess I needed to totally rely on someone for support."
"Do you want to stay here a bit longer?"
"I would love to, honestly, but I think I also am in great need of some sleep. I'll see you in the morning."
"I look forward to it."
I stood up and forced myself out of the room. It was really difficult to resist the impulse to run back and throw myself into Jack's arms. I knew I'd probably never be able to resist him until Ross was back to his normal self.
Saturday 4th December
I'm starting to think bringing Ross's wall down was counterproductive. He's not warmer, he's colder. At least this will all be finished in about 9 days. Ouch. That actually seems quite a lot.
I awoke on Saturday morning to find Ross kneeling in front of me, holding a bit of shoelace which he'd attached his sapphire to with sticky tape.
"Hm, that's pretty," I murmured sleepily.
"Don't talk to me patronisingly," Ross said. "I want you to watch it."
To my alarm, he started swinging it. I quickly looked elsewhere.
"What are you doing?!"
Ross put the sapphire down and crossed his arms. "What do you think?"
"Well, my room's a massive mess..."
"Then I'll help you," I interrupted.
"I don't want you to help me; I want you to do it for me. I think having a slave's quite cool."
"Well, I don't."
"Naturally." His voice had an awful drawl to it.
"We could work together to get it done quicker."
"Nah, I have stuff I want to do."
"Well, I'm not doing it for you."
"You don't really have a choice."
"I refuse to let you hypnotise me."
Ross picked up his makeshift pendulum and to my horror, pointed the sapphire at me and cast a spell. "Strengthen my hypnotic tone while her eyes focus on this stone."
Suddenly, I found I couldn't look away. The sapphire was really quite pretty when you looked at it closely. I tried to stop myself, but I was helplessly drawn in by its beauty. I couldn't deny that blue was my favourite colour and this didn't help as I found myself looking into previously hidden depths of the gem.
Ross started to swing the instrument and I found my eyes following the sapphire.
"Clear all your thoughts," Ross said, in an authoritative yet lovely voice.
I found my mind blanking.
"Let yourself relax."
I found myself feeling calmer. What had I been worried about again?
"Drift down into depths of calm where tranquillity reigns."
I floated down through the stages of deeper relaxation.
"When you're as calm as you can possibly go, let go of yourself..."
For the third time this year, I stopped being aware of everything around me.
"...up, up you come." It was Jack's voice. He sounded slightly angry, but no less compelling.
"And break free of that calm."
I blinked twice and came back to the room.
"Oh, Rosa, you poor thing. Let me just check, you don't feel any need to do what Ross tells you to, do you?"
"Um, I'm not sure. I don't think so."
Ross looked annoyed. "It was only going to be until she'd tidied my room."
"Don't be so lazy. It's not fair to hypnotise someone to be your slave. Especially not your rose-dove. She'd have happily helped if you'd asked nicely. Now, you can do it on your own." Jack sounded furious.
I reached up to stroke his cheek. "It's okay, darling. You rescued me."
‘Not here, Rosa. He still loves you - even if he has a funny way of showing it.'
I withdrew my hand.
"Now, apologise to her."
"Sorry," Ross muttered to me.
"Fine. I'm very sorry Rosa."
"You better be."
"Right. Now go and make her some breakfast."
"You heard. Make her some breakfast. Otherwise I'll tell Mum what you did."
Ross looked angry as he strode out of the room and down the stairs.
"I'm so sorry he did that to you," Jack said to me.
"No, don't worry. What matters is that you were there to stop him."
Jack stood up. "Do you want a couple of minutes to dress and stuff?"
"Yes please. And Jack, thank you."
Jack shook his head. "Any time. Though I hope that was the last."
It wasn't, though.
Sunday 5th December
Ross is so scary. I'm really worried. I even moved into Jack's bedroom.
Jack has been... amazing. Every night, he's helped relieve the massive amounts of strain I've been under. It doesn't feel like I'm doing anything wrong now. Ross certainly seems as if he couldn't care less about me. I get the feeling he needs comforting, but he won't admit it to anyone, least of all himself. It's just awful.
I woke up and slipped out of my sleeping bag. I caressed Ross's hair as he slept before going to the bathroom. When I came back, fully dressed, Ross was awake.
"Morning," I said cheerfully.
"You're too bright," he muttered.
"What, as in clever?"
"No, as in optimistic. You sound like you're in the mood for telling me to look on the bright side of life."
"That's not a bad thing."
"Yes, it is. It's annoying... but also, it's dangerous."
"Yeah. Much as I hate to admit it, I don't want you to get hurt."
"Well, that's sweet." Ross winced at my choice of word. I ignored him. "I'm sure I'll be fine, though."
"I don't think so."
"BREAKFAST," Jack called from downstairs.
"I'll see you a bit later," Ross murmured.
When I next saw him, it was in the living room. He was watching some TV but when he saw me, he switched it off and gestured for me to sit beside him. I was hopeful. Maybe, he was finally going to get warm again.
But it turned out that what he had in store for me was a nasty surprise.
"Give me your hand," he said.
I held out my right hand and wondered if he was going to stroke it. Instead, he took a hold of it and said, "Close your eyes."
I did so, mystified.
I felt Ross's thoughts, cold and brooding.
And then, he was scary. ‘I'm going to help you,' he thought to me. The words were horribly familiar but I couldn't quite remember why.
All of a sudden, the piercing iciness of his mind crossed the gap and entered my mind.
I gasped in shock as splinters of ice tried to break through my mental defences.
‘What are you doing to me?!' I asked, horror-struck.
‘I told you. Helping you.'
I tried to pull my hand free but his grip was too tight.
‘Let go! You're hurting me!'
‘I promise that little will hurt you when I've finished.'
I suddenly realised that he was doing what he had offered to do so very long ago after the incident at Mystic Wonders. He was trying to make me cold.
"JACK!" I yelled.
Ross quickly put his other hand over my mouth. ‘Don't ruin this. Don't you appreciate my help?'
‘No! It's not helpful. Just stop!'
I felt icy thoughts pushing down my walls. It was terrifying.
Jack ran in. "Rosa?! What's Ross doing to you?"
I couldn't answer, though. My walls suddenly collapsed under Ross's mental pressure and I lost consciousness.