Her name was Naomi and she was an enchantress, he was almost certain of it.
At least, that was the closest name for what she was that he could come up with without further information. He wondered how accurate he was, but focused on observing her with an almost obsessive attention to detail. Whatever she was, he was determined to learn as much about her as he could without letting things get hostile. Graeme knew so little about the world he lived in; the absence of his knowledge was astounding, even devastating; he felt at a loss for everything, and he struggled to keep his brain from short-circuiting as he processed it all.
“There is a limit to how many half-truths I will accept, Naomi, and you’re rapidly reaching it. Maybe it’s time you start telling me the whole truth.”
Naomi pursed her plum lips at him and rolled her eyes. There was something so enticing about the way her lips moved around her voice. He enjoyed watching her eyes study him, watching the way her thoughts ticked quietly away behind the curtains of her tepid eyes. He wanted to read her thoughts, to dive into the pool of her mind and swim until he found the secret hidden at the bottom. Graeme wondered what she was. Wondered how dangerous it would be to kiss her.
It did not strike him that it was the fifth or sixth time he’d thought of kissing her. Somewhere in his head he was filing away all the small things she was doing to draw him in, but on the surface of his thoughts he was enjoying the sight of her sitting so close to him. Now and then her finger would twist a lock of her sunshine blond hair and he wanted to pin her to the mattress.
“I can’t tell you everything, Graeme. You have to trust me, you have to take some of this on faith.” There was a specificity to her tone, something he was supposed to pick up on. Some hidden clue. He filed it away for later and leaned back against the headboard, ignoring the twitching pain in his stomach.
“You can start with what you put in that tea.” Every move he made hurt, but he was grateful for the pain. It reminded him that he was alone in his body. He didn’t think he’d ever look at his physical discomfort the same way again.
She crossed her arms. The dull light caught something on her wrist, his eyes were barely fast enough to catch it.
A small cross was branded into her skin, it glistened like a scar when the light hit it exactly the right way, but it was so small and discrete that he wasn’t certain he’d seen it at all. It was possible his eyes were playing tricks on him.
“It’s an herb, all right? It would have helped with the pain, but you chose not to trust me so I hope it hurts.”
He made a disbelieving face and shook his head. “Be snarky all you like, Naomi, but you can’t fault me for being distrustful. At least, you wouldn’t if you’d had the same few days I’ve had.”
“Why don’t you tell me about it?” She leaned over his legs, propping her head up with her palm against her temple and her elbow digging into his bed. The warmth of her body touched his legs through the blankets.
“Why don’t you tell me why you have the lights so dim, or why there’s something about you that makes me feel like I’m losing my mind for you? I might just be a man but I’m not an idiot.” His distrust flickered, waned, and sprung back to life. It seemed every time he blinked he gained some semblance of intelligence back, of logical skepticism, but when he opened his eyes again it vanished when she came into view.
“What’s that supposed to mean? That you’re just a man? What else would you be, Graeme?”
“If you’re going to act like you don’t know anything, you should leave. I told you already I don’t have time for this shit.” He straightened his posture, one palm pressed firmly against the bandaging, keeping pressure on the wound even though he knew it had long ago stopped bleeding. He didn’t even feel the bed shift when she did.
Her fingers pushed into his shoulder, a mild force that implied she was not afraid to shove but wanted to spare him. For a long, pregnant moment, they both simply stayed there – connected, barely separated by a foot of breathing space, her scent invading his senses and her mouth rapidly becoming the target of his attention. Despite his self-reminders that she was dangerous, he wanted her. He didn’t care that his stomach would tear itself open if he acted on it, he didn’t care that he couldn’t trust her as far as he could throw her, he didn’t care that he hardly knew her and he’d just gotten through the hardest week of his life.
None of it weighed nearly as heavily on him as her presence. Her touch was magma pouring into his body, incinerating every other past version of himself he had ever known, waking him up, making him feel like he was alive for the first time in his entire life. She was a fire he’d never known he wanted to burn him up.
Where the fu*k had she come from?