She tossed her hair over her shoulder, as was her habit when she laughed. The right side of her mouth slowly stretched upwards in a gorgeously crooked smile as she listened to her companion's story, which culminated in laughter from both of them. Her hair settled over her shoulder again, glowing all shades, from deep mahogany brown through chestnut and autumn reds, to a scattering of blonde, catching the low lighting in the bar. It was all natural, just like her. She rarely put on a show these days. She no longer had anything to hide.
Clearly, she was close to her companion. Close, not intimate though. To the casual observer, it might seem that way. Her eyes warmed when they lighted on the young man by her side. They were stood close together, in their own world, talking and clearly enjoying the company of the other. Yet even when he pulled her into a hug, still laughing, he noted that her companion's arm did not stray below the waist, like a lover's might. It was the causal embrace of a brother, or best friend.
"Hey." Her voice seemed to cut through the noise of the bar, though she was softly spoken. The bartender, a not unattractive young man, turned and smiled.
"What can I get you?"
His fist tightened around his drink as he saw the bartender's eyes darken with lust slightly. She was a beautiful girl, yes. What was more alluring was that she scarcely believed it. But he hated the way men would rake their eyes over her in the street. How their eyes would linger on her chest like a woman on the street, an object. His fury melted as he heard her voice again.
"One Corona and a Singapore Sling please." She smiled, handing over the correct change.
She leaned on her elbows, on the bar, as her companion mirrored her. Despite all the subtle signs telling him that they were nothing more than friends, he could not suppress the vicious flare of jealous rage that arose every time another man looked at her. If he touched her, it was worse. When it was someone like this, whom she was obviously close to, it was all he could do not to go over and knock him out cold.
She was not perfect. Her skin was not porcelain, it was normal. She did not have a perfect figure, she was curvy, slightly too curvy in places. He knew from the past that she was insecure, shy, yet had a ferocious temper and was sensitive, easily upset and hurt. She was full of contradictions and that made her intriguing. She was also loyal-even when it was stupid. And she cared deeply, loving passionately. For all her flaws, she was a beautiful person on the inside and that shined through.
Their drinks arrived. Her companion made to steal the cherry from hers and she slapped his hand away, narrowing her eyes in mock anger.
"Don't do that, idiot, she loves cherries." He muttered under his breath, watching the pair intently. A few drinks later, they left a modest tip on the bar and left together. Moments later, he followed, leaving his half-finished beer on the side of the bar, in the perfect position to be unnoticed from the corner of the bar the pair had just vacated.
He followed them through the city streets, starting to fill as the bars emptied. He watched, leaning nonchalantly at the corner opposite the bus stop that was their destination. There was a sadness about her now, less laughter.
From across the deserted street, he could hear what they were saying.
"I missed you." She was snuggled against him, her mouth set unhappily.
"Well I won't leave it so long next time, alright?"
"You'd better not." She said, smiling a little.
"What'cha gonna do about it bitch?" He laughed, teasing.
She laughed back. "I'll deprive you of Corona!"
He gasped in mock horror, leaving both of them laughing.
They carried on chatting until the bus arrived, drawing a heartfelt sigh from her.
"I mean it, you'd better be back soon." She murmured, her arms around his neck as they held each other. His arms tightened subtly.
"I won't. Promise." He replied in a low voice.
Reluctantly, she let him go. She kept a smile up until the bus disappeared. Then came another deep sigh, the smile fading. She crossed the street, her head low. She passed by him without really registering his presence. A few moments later, she tossed her head, lifting her chin and straightening her back, shaking off the sadness.
He ached to hold her and soothe her, like he used to. But he knew his presence now would do nothing more than upset, anger and hurt her. Instead he watched her walk away, like he had done a year ago. He watched and followed her until she walked into the university accommodation where she was living now. A couple of times, she had looked around, as though sensing his presence, though never seeing him. He saw her window light up and eventually left, satisfied she would be okay until morning.
Twenty minutes later, he was settling into his own room. Yet, he knew he would never fully relax. He was haunted by the ghosts here. Her laugh had once filled the rooms, his bedroom. Her voice still seemed to echo in the rooms, yet he knew it was in his head.
Most of all, it was her eyes that haunted him. Though he would have never said it himself, he knew that she would say they were the gateway to the soul. With her, it was true. She was a brilliant actress, except for her eyes. They always gave her away. When he closed his own eyes, he was haunted relentlessly by their ethereal beauty.
Her storm grey eyes never left him. Just like the memories. Only, it had been a year since her presence had filled his life. Now, she was a ghost, only part of his life while he watched her. When she did see him, her eyes went blank with the walls she put up to hide the pain. Invariably, she would say nothing and act as though he was a stranger. Invariably, he would hide his own pain and act likewise. Invariably, there was never a word between them.
Her storm blue eyes. Still, they would not leave him.