This one is not inspired by a photo, but a dream I had eons ago. It is also a repost, because with the move and all that's going on, I haven't gotten my computer completely up yet, so we're posting from the tablet. In any case, enjoy!
“Are you saying you want me to cancel the party?” Isabelle looks like I’ve just asked her to eat her arm.
I sigh. “No.” Lord knows you’d never let me cramp your social calendar. “I’m telling you not to invite Charles.”
She crosses her arms. “I can’t uninvited him. He’s got a lot of influence around here, you know. His dad is, like, a billionaire or something.”
“Fine. Then I’m uninviting myself. I’m staying upstairs, and if anyone asks, I’m not home.”
She rolls her eyes. “What happened, between the two of you?”
I lick my lips, trying not to remember the way he’d pushed his mouth against mine. At least it hadn’t gone farther than the attempt to shove his tongue in my mouth. I shudder at what he wanted from me. And I wondered why. Charles Delrey did not do anything without a purpose. There were lots of girls he could call for a quick lay.
“He came onto me, Isabelle. Didn’t listen to the word no.”
“Did he hurt you?” She asks.
Hesitantly, I shake my head. “He could have. But I nailed him between the legs.”
The brief glimpse of humanity leaves her face, and she flips a hand at me. “You’re overreacting. Charles Landry doesn’t need to attack anyone. He’s got hordes of girls who’d kill each other for a one night stand.”
I stand. “I told you what happened. I’m not repeating myself. Keep him away from me. Because if he touches me again, I can promise you the only one bleeding will be him.”
Her eyes widen a fraction. “You really mean that?”
I meet her gaze. “Do I look like I’m joking?”
Without waiting for her answer, I climb the stairs, sure to lock the deadbolt I’d installed that afternoon. I wished again I were just a few months older so I could be out from under my Aunt and Uncle’s guardianship and away from this place.
Still, I’m glad Raven encouraged the lock. I never asked how he knew things. He just did. I don’t know whether he saw today happening, but I doubt it. He’d never have left if that were the case. I dread the thought of telling him what happened.
But I’ll have to. He always knows when something is wrong.
I drop the quilt and shed my clothes, kicking them into the corner. I crank the water in the shower to the highest setting I can stand and then step inside, letting the water scald away the feeling of being coated in Charles’ slimy ooze.
I have just dried off my steaming skin when my phone rings on the bathroom counter.
I flip it open and answer.
“Are you all right?”
The concern in his voice brings tears to my eyes. “I’m fine.”
There’s a pause. He clears his throat. “Tell me what happened.”
“You’ll just get upset.” I whisper.
A humorless chuckle bounces through the phone. “Baby, I’m already upset. Tell me.”
I explain what happened, and the silence on the phone grows colder with each word. Finally I finish. “I’m home now. I’ve installed the deadbolt you told me to buy. Isabelle will keep her mouth shut.”
“I’ll kill him.” Darkness drips off each word. Rustling fuzzes the phone.
“Hello? Raven, don’t. It happened, and it’s done with. He’s not stupid, and he’s nursing sore cahones right now. He’s not going to try again. You don’t need to worry.”
“I’m packing right now. I’ll be there before sunrise.”
I pull away and glance at the time stamp on the phone. “Raven, it’s nearly midnight. You can’t get back here. Besides, I thought you said this was important.”
“Not that important. Sit tight, and don’t let anyone into your room. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Love you.”
I don’t argue. Truth be told, I want him here, though the tightly controlled anger I hear in his voice worries me. “Love you too.”
The line goes dead and I pull on long pajamas. Autumn has started to put a bite in the air, and I can’t seem to get warm enough. I pick up the quilt from the floor and wrap myself in it, collapsing into the fluffy arm chair in front of the small TV. From here I can see the door clearly, and my back is to the wall. Despite everything, I feel like the nightmare isn’t over yet. A feeling of dread has invaded me, hung over my shoulder for a couple of weeks. Now it’s smothering me.
Somewhere between talking to Raven and worrying myself silly while watching ridiculous television, I fall asleep.
It isn’t until a large hand lands on my shoulder that I realize this. I jerk awake, heart pounding, limbs flailing.
“Oph! It’s me, Psyche. Stop!”
I stop, blink, and realize that Raven stares down at me, an angry scratch down one cheek from my nails. Tears spring to my eyes, and I jump into his arms. “I’m sorry!”
I don’t even question how he got there, or how he got past the locked door. All I’m worried about is the tight embrace around me, and the feeling of safety that makes my knees weak.
He moves back, never releasing me, and sits on the bed, propping himself up against the headboard. His grip loosens, though he doesn’t let go.
I trace a finger across the scratch and press a kiss there. “I’m sorry. I panicked.”
His hand tucks a strand of hair behind my ear, and then settles against the headboard. He’s tired. I can see it in the dark bags under his eyes.
“Are you going to tell me what’s eating at you? And what happened tonight?”
I look up into his dark, dark eyes and swallow hard. There’s an edge of danger to Raven. Always has been. But tonight it’s closer. Fresh, like new blood in a paper cut.