Peter was right: I needed to find myself. How had I so quickly forgotten my thoughts from this afternoon, which, in my opinion, had given me a pretty good path to follow?
I looked at Romulus. "You know, you just drive every thought out of my head. It's makes life so confusing."
Romulus' brow furrowed. "Is this something bad about me? Something that might affect your decision?"
I shook my head. "I was just thinking aloud."
"Glad I don't do that. Peter would get most annoyed." He grinned at me.
I smiled faintly back at him.
I looked at Peter. "I wanted to stay with you because I thought you'd give me what I needed on my voyage of self-discovery. I didn't want to fall more in love with you."
"Then presumably you don't want to fall more in love with Romulus either," Peter said.
"Hey, wouldn't I help her on her voyage of self-discovery?" Romulus asked. "I could show her more of the dark side of things." He winked at me.
"But I could remind her how much she loved being ruled by her conscience," Peter pointed out.
"May I remind both of you that it's my choice?" I said.
"Of course," Peter said. "Only you can make this decision."
"But I highly recommend choosing me," Romulus said. "You can discover yourself and have fun."
"That's such an attractive thought," I told him. "You shut up or I'll be giving myself to you with chains around me."
Romulus grinned alluringly. "Who's to say you don't want that?"
"Stop it!" I hissed, feeling a rope somehow tied to him tug at my heart.
"Now play fair," Peter said. "Otherwise she won't be happy."
"You're right: she won't be happy," Romulus said gravely. Peter looked relieved until Romulus finished what he was saying "She'll be positively euphoric."
"I really love you," I told him.
"Why shouldn't you?"
I stood up. "Come with me," I ordered Romulus.
He stuck his tongue out at Peter as I led him to my parents' room.
I closed the door behind us.
"Very cosy," Romulus said approvingly. "And dangerous too. I like your style."
"I was inspired by you," I told him, playing along.
Romulus leant down and kissed me. It was a short one though because he wanted to talk to me and I wanted to talk to him.
"So are we here to try to work out how to tell Peter you've chosen me?" he asked.
"You're so self-satisfied," I said in wonder.
"You love me for it," he replied, shrugging.
"I do. And that's the problem. You're so damn alluring that I almost want to make the wrong decision if it involves being with you."
"Well, that's what happens when your dark streak is revealed," Romulus said patiently as if he were a teacher or lecturer. "You gravitate towards other dark people. Especially those who've had tons of practice."
"Thanks for the life lesson," I said.
"You're very welcome. You can convey your gratitude by giving me a kiss."
"I can't," I said, though I had stepped a centimetre closer. "I need to think. I have to make this decision."
Romulus sighed. "Fine. You should be proud of yourself: I don't often relent. Why did we come here?"
"I was worried about Peter," I replied sheepishly. "I mean, how horrified can a person get? I didn't want him to go insane." I frowned. "And I wanted to be alone with you."
"You have that," Romulus murmured, his face coming down towards mine.
"No," I murmured weakly.
"What are you saying 'No' to, Tilly? 'Cause it's not to me: I can see that in your eyes. What's wrong? I'll kiss it better."
He kissed me. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to forget the choice I had to make.
He broke away. "You can tell me."
"Nothing's wrong," I told him. "Nothing except the fact I can't stop thinking about Peter. I really want to find myself, Romulus. Think of how much more I'll be able to love you knowing who I truly am."
"You're truly Tilly, that's all you need to know."
"But who is she? Is she a girl ruled by her conscience or by the dark streak which has lain dormant in her for her whole life?"
Romulus kissed me again. "Both."
"That's not helpful."
"You know, I could help. I wasn't joking when I said that."
"But you'd 'help' me by just showing me more of my dark side. Why would you encourage my light side to grow?"
"And why would Peter encourage your dark side to grow?"
"I didn't want him to encourage any of me to grow. I knew he'd give me space. I need that space, Romulus."
"You don't want it, though."
"That's not the point..."
"Tilly, you can be whoever you want to be around me. I won't be horrified like Peter. I'll give you a good time when you've finished your contemplating for the day and at the end of it, you'll feel so much better. I'll show you stuff Peter would never show you - and you know Peter will just show you stuff you've already seen. Every place we go will have that element of danger you crave and you'll be with me. The one you know you can depend upon, the one who's not afraid to do bad to protect you."
He kissed me again. "Did you never think I wasn't just saying that stuff in your room to be cocky? Never consider that I was secretly torn up inside at the prospect of you choosing Peter?"
"I forgot how much you cared about me," I confessed quietly. "And you're a pretty good actor."
"I love you, Tilly. I know how impossible that sounds with my nature but it's true."
I put a finger on his lips. "I know. And it doesn't sound impossile."
He kissed my fingers and I could see the pleading in his eyes. "Don't choose Peter."
I sighed. "I think Peter's the right choice."
"Does that mean I'm not?" His words went deeper than a question on choice of how to find oneself: he was asking me if he was the wrong person to love, to tie my soul to.
"No, of course not," I replied.
"I can't bear to be away from you, Tilly. Please don't hurt me." He kissed my lips. My finger caressed his skin. Romulus looked so vulnerable that I was almost scared.
"Listen you," I said, smiling to lighten the atmosphere, "if I choose you, Peter will never hear the end of it."
Romulus smiled slyly. "You've already chosen me, Tilly. And yes, you're right: Peter won't hear the end of it."
He kissed me again, filling my thoughts with that dark passion I couldn't resist. He was right, of course. I'd known that before we'd entered the bedroom. He'd let his defences down to prove a point and so that I wouldn't think of him as totally evil, but he knew as well as I did that I couldn't bear to be away from him either. This had merely been a confirmation of my choice. I sighed. Romulus knew me too well.
I broke away. "So I guess we tell Peter now."
"Yup," Romulus said grinning.
Suddenly, I heard footsteps on the stairs. I froze. My parents were coming upstairs and I was in their room with a guy. Damn.