I let my eyes fall shut, let my fingers glide effortlessly over the ivory keys until Moonlight Sonata had consumed me fully. There was something so peaceful about the dark tone of the classic. A shime of hope in a wave of doubt.
If one thing was certain it was that I didnt belong here. Not just in the confines of the city, trapped on an island that was a breeding ground for sin, but in the world itself. I was so removed already. It wouldnt have been hard to just...stop.
The ringing telephone caused me to hit a wrong key, and so brought me from my trance. I cursed under my breath but rose to answer it nonetheless. Not picking it up was a sin in my house. Both my parents were actually pretty important, when my dad wasnt wasted and my mom wasnt out screwing every guy in the damned city but him. Any call might be the office with some crisis that needed immediate attention.
"Hello?" My tone was standard, cold and unfriendly. Why should I treat the world any differently than they treated me?
I swallowed back my thoughts of apathy at the sound of the voice in the reciever. If ever an angel had walked the earth, it was in the body of Riley Wilson, who was broken enough to make me look whole.
"Hey," I said, suddenly self-conscious and unsure how to act. Riley ws a delicate subject for me. Half the time I was sure we could save each other if only we tried, and the other half I knew I was only cutting him closer to the bone than he could ever bring himself to do.
"Will you come over, Harper? I'm all alone, and I'm just...things are getting to me right now. I could use something to focus on."
And that was the way it was with Riley. Always to the point. There was no way to pretend it was magical.
"Of course," I said, too soon, too desperately. Because I did want to help him, and I wanted him to help me. I wanted to forget that it was so meaningless. Somewhere in the world was the person I was supposed to be with. Maybe I didnt know who it was yet. Maybe he was completely oblivious to my existence. But it was never Riley's voice I heard or his fingertips drawn across my skin.
"I'll be there soon," I added before hanging up, because that was the sort of thing one said in situations like this. I thought about hurrying off to get ready, but the piano was tempting me to play just once more.
That's right, Harper, I told myself. Once more cant hurt anything.
Riley lived on the upper west side, less dramatic than my own, but equally as indulgent. Where my parents had gone for raw square inches, Riley's had lined the walls with art, filled rooms with books no one would ever dream of reading.
The door was unlocked when I arrived, so I let myself in. Moving past emoty rooms, up the stairs of the townhouse, I came to the closed door of his room. The dark wood faded into the even darker posters that plastered it, faces painted with pain, a symbol of defiance.
In spite of myself, I still knocked. Something about interrupting him scared me. He was pulling the door open in seconds, and without greeting taking me roughly into his arms and kissing me hard. The door slammed shut, such a finite sound. By then my arms were up around his neck, my lips and body working against his.
Riley pulled back only to take a gasping breath. "Hi," he said shakily. "Good to see you."
I offered up a hesitant smile. "You too." That was the extent of the talking, because then he was yanking me down into the bed. A soft moan arose from somewhere within me as he trailed his fingers across my stomach, at the place where my shirt didnt quite meet my jeans.
With my eyes closed it was easy to pretend I was somewhere else, far away from the prison that was New York. Instead I was here. I would always be here.