Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.26
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.26

           Bailey Ardisone

  “Nari! Over here!” I heard Zaylie yell down the hall. I quickly walked over to her.

  “Hi,” I said with a grin.

  “Want to eat outside today? It’s a cloudless sunny day, so it’s not as cold as it’s been lately, and I could use some fresh air. They say the sun isn’t going to last long. It’s supposed to rain later.”

  “Sounds great. I’ll just go get my food and meet you out there,” I said with higher spirits than I had earlier. Half of me was terrified of Mycah and the other half, the half I hated to admit, got disappointed every morning I didn’t see him in my classes.

  After I picked out a meal, I walked down the steps outside that led to the grassy area of tables and lost balance of my food tray; quickly trying to recover, my water bottle fell over causing me to trip on the stairs as I tried to balance everything out.

  In that split second, I felt myself falling forward—my horrified heart had momentarily stopped as my body drew closer to the concrete. Just as suddenly, an arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me back up against a warm muscular body, and my food tray was no longer in my hands. I must've dropped it, so I waited for the sound of the crashing plastic and food to assault my ears. But it never came. Completely and utterly flabbergasted at what just happened, my lungs were panic-stricken, and I could barely breathe.

  Right against my ear, lips brushing my hair, I heard, “Are you okay, Nariella?” Mycah’s accented voice rasped through my veins as his sweet, woodsy smell washed over me.

  The sound of his voice and the feel of his warm stature made my eyes widen and my body paralyze as he held onto me. He slowly released me while lowering my food tray perfectly intact with not a thing out of place in front of me. I forced myself to recover and took it from him. Still trying to catch my breath, I turned my head slowly to look up at him. He was still standing incredibly close.

  “Is this becoming a habit? You rescuing me?” I breathed.

  He grinned at the ground, a gesture I found completely adorable and endearing. But then he slowly looked up into my eyes, smile melting away, and said, “I think it’s more of an addiction.” He shook his head as he snickered.

  Just before he left, he looked back to me saying, “Be careful,” in the most tender voice I had heard yet.

  I rushed over to Zaylie, who looked utterly shocked and amazed, and sat down. She barely waited for me to sit before diving head first into an interrogation, “What just happened?! I look up and all I see is you and Mycah hanging all over each other!”

  “We were not hanging all over each other!” I practically blanched as I said the words. “Zales, please, that guy is creepy! Don’t you think so?” I seriously wanted to know. I hated the thought of being the only one who found Mycah scary. Was there something wrong with me?

  “Did you just say creepy? That guy is H-O-T-T,” she sounded out each letter, “HOTT. If he’s creepy, then dang, why can’t all boys be creepy?”

  “Psh!” I shoved her shoulder playfully. “You’re crazy. Seriously, I guess I should be worried about your mental health instead of my own.” We both laughed.

  Zaylie moved on to talking about what she was going to wear to the dance. I already knew what I would have to do. Seeing that I was pretty much penniless and only going for Zaylie’s benefit, I would be making my own dress. I knew my mom had some nice dresses packed away, since I was the one who had to take care of all her belongings she left behind. My idea was to find one of hers and alter it to fit my style and size. It may not be amazing, but I loved to sew my own clothes using my mom’s sewing machine. This would be no different and no matter what, it would have to do. It was all I could do.

  Despite the Homecoming buzz, my mind kept drifting back to Mycah as I walked home from school. I really didn’t know what to think anymore. Apparently I was the only one who found something weird about him, and at the same time, something was drawing me to him. It was like my emotions were at war with each other, fighting until one broke free and claimed my heart as the victor. I didn’t trust him. Or maybe it was myself I didn’t trust when I was around him, because I also missed him when he wasn’t near. And I didn’t want to feel that way about a guy. I couldn’t feel that way. I wouldn’t allow it. Ugh…I was so confused.

  I finally got to the house and my heart dropped to my stomach. He was home early. Crap…I hesitated going inside at the sound of loud crashing noises.

  “What are you doing?” I asked. The clean house I left this morning was now a complete wreck.

  “What did you do with it?!” Ray yelled, practically growling.

  “Excuse me? Do with what? Just calm down...” I felt nauseated as fear began to grip my stomach and my heart pounded in my eardrums.

  “Don’t you tell me to calm down, you good for nothing brat! I know you took it! I had money right here in this drawer! I need that money! You better give it back to me right now, or you are going to be sorry you were ever born!”

  “Listen, Ray—I did not take your money. I promise you!” He suddenly sprinted forward. I pleaded, “Please, just, wait—” but it was too late. He had a vice grip on both my arms, pushing me back against the wall and then punched me right in the face, knocking me down onto my side over a broken pile of glass. I lay in his spot where he threw his latest empty bottle of Jack. I winced as my head now throbbed and my arm stung from the glass.

  “Please! I had nothing to do with your money! I didn’t take it!” I screamed at him, holding my head.

  “Stop lying to me!” he screamed back, grabbing my neck. His hot breath on my face reeked of alcohol. He started to tighten his grip and I involuntarily gasped for air. The corners of my vision started to dim as my eyes widened, and my lungs burned from lack of oxygen. This was it. He was finally going to do what he probably had always wanted—to make me suffer as he slowly drained the life out of me.

  In that instant, Ray was no longer gripping my throat as his body was flung across the room, hitting the wall with a loud thud. I reached for my throat, lungs pulling in ragged gasps of precious air. At the sound of Mycah’s voice, I looked up.

  “Don’t you touch her, you sick, sorry excuse for a man,” Mycah growled in Ray’s face. He had my foster father pinned against the wall with his hands around Ray's neck now. Ray’s eyes were wide. Probably as wide as mine were.

  “If you ever lay another finger on her again, I swear to death I will kill you. Do you understand?” His voice was so stern and rabid, I flinched. Too stunned to move, Ray barely managed a nod.

  Mycah moved his hand from Ray’s jugular and put it on the side of his head. His hand began to glow with a faint white light. “Now sleep, before I bloody rip your throat out,” he said through gritted teeth.

  At that, Ray’s eyelids shuttered and then slowly closed as his body finally slumped to the floor. Before Mycah could say anything to me or even turn around, I was out the door running.

  What the heck was that? I barely realized it was sprinkling out. I didn’t care. My breathing was heavy and staggered and my body wrecked with nerves, but I needed to get away from the house—and from Mycah—as fast as I could. I needed to think.

  I stumbled down the sidewalk while trying to run, but my brain was on over-drive so I couldn’t focus on getting my feet to move fast enough. They felt heavy, as if filled with sand and weighing a thousand pounds. I couldn’t seem to shake my gut-wrenching fear away because I couldn’t comprehend what just happened.

  My hands instinctively went to my throat as I remembered him strangling me. His wicked, cruel brown eyes boring into mine. I couldn’t have looked away or even closed my eyes—I had been so stunned. If I had died then, it would have been his eyes as the last thing I had ever seen. I shuddered.

  I looked at my upper arms and could see bruises starting to form where he had gripped them so forcefully. I went to feel my left eye. Ouch. It already started to swell. Great…I was going to have a black eye.

  At the sensation of something sticky from touching my eye, I looked at my hand
and saw blood, making me sigh. I looked up toward the sky as it began to pour down on my face. My breath quickened again as I realized: I didn’t die.

  Because...Mycah…tossed Ray away like he was a rag doll. How? How did he do that? And what was with that light coming from his hand? Did he seriously put Ray to sleep or…did he kill him? My chest hurt just thinking about all of that. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I couldn’t go back home. Not yet.

  I just kept walking aimlessly in the rain, wishing today never happened, and by time I noticed, it had already grown dark out. After a while, I looked up from staring at the ground and found myself in front of O’Malley’s Bed & Breakfast. The one where Mycah was staying. Maybe I was drawn here—my body unconsciously taking me to where I needed to go for answers. I didn’t know, and I didn’t care. I didn’t feel frightened anymore. I felt protected.

  I walked around the side, wondering if I could possibly see him. There, in his room, Mycah sat in an over-sized chair next to the window, reading. He looked so normal. His chest was bare, exposing his muscular torso; he was only wearing dark pants. His black hair was all ruffled and his ocean blue eyes were staring intently at the book. His face was serene, but I could still see the tight cut of his jawbone and the straight angles of his face. His brow furrowed in concentration, and he looked utterly gorgeous. He...saved me. The flicker of some strange, unknown feeling sparked in the deepest parts of my heart.

  It was still pouring rain, and I was cold and sopping wet. My hair was drenched and water dripped into my eyes, stinging at the spot that was cut and swollen.

  As I watched Mycah in his room, my whole body began to tremble as the realization set in. He saved my life. Mycah saved me. I didn’t care what he was, what he did, or how he did it. I had been completely terrified and almost died. Remembering what happened only a few hours ago, all those feelings came rushing back. As if I was right back in his rough, calloused hands squeezing the life out of me. My trembling turned to almost violent shaking, reliving the moment again in my head.

  All of a sudden, Mycah’s head jerked up as if he could sense me standing there. His eyes immediately found mine, and his expression turned from surprise to a pained but soft gentleness. Like he wanted me to be there—with him. I didn’t realize it at first, but I was crying.

  Mycah stood up and walked to the window. It was the kind that opened like a French door, swinging inward. Mycah reached for me and easily pulled me inside, like I weighed nothing. He didn’t say anything; he just stared at me.

  He turned and walked to a closet, pulling out two towels. My teeth chattered and my eye still hurt from my tears running down my cheeks. He began delicately patting my face, arms, and head, drying them with the soft towels.

  Slowly, he gently wiped a stray tear with his thumb. The towels smelled like Snuggle fabric softener—and he smelled like a dream.

  What he started to do next left me paralyzed, and my chest tightened. He reached up and tightly pressed onto my swollen black eye. It didn’t hurt though, his touch was so gentle. Oddly, I began to feel a tingling sensation. Then, like magic, the pain was gone. My eyes widened and my heart felt like it was racing out of control.

  Slowly, he put his soft, gentle hands on my neck. His skin felt so hot compared to my cold skin. I could feel my bruised muscles vanish away. His pulse from his fingertips throbbed next to my throat. He then moved to my arms; one after the other, and did the same thing to them—healing my sore bruises. My eyes never left his face, but he was looking at each scrape and bluish-purple spot, healing any he found and looking for more.

  Then, without touching me, he waved his left hand all around, hovering over each and every inch, making me dry from head to toe. He gradually put me back together, piece by piece. Raising each of my feet, he removed my shoes.

  Once he felt he got everything, I assumed, he then pulled me to his bed. Dragging down the sheet and blankets, I crawled inside and curled myself into a ball. He covered the blankets over my body and went to sit in the chair next to the window. With him watching me, I started to calm down. My crying stopped, and I slowly drifted off to sleep, feeling completely warm and safe.

  The next day, I quietly left the B&B without Mycah waking up. The sun was just rising, so it must've been very early. The sky was still a dark purple blue, and the horizon was a bright pink mixed with orange. It felt so calm and quiet.

  The morning air was chilly and filled with moisture. I wrapped my arms around my body, hugging myself. I didn’t want to think back to last night’s events yet.

  I made my way back home, trying to keep a clear mind, not really thinking about anything. I slowly snuck inside, hoping that Ray was still asleep. I crept in, and sure enough there he was, still lying on the floor where Mycah left him, snoring very loudly. He didn’t kill him after all.

  I tip-toed into the bathroom and turned on the shower. I put it as hot as it could go. I quickly peeled my clothes off and jumped in, wanting nothing more than to immerse myself into the scalding hot water.

  I was quickly surrounded by steam as my mind began to race. As the water slid down my face, I could no longer contain my tears or my quiet sobs. The sound of the water drowned out any noise I might have made.

  I felt my neck where my bruises used to be, felt my eye, and then looked at my arms. No bruises. It was as if they washed down the drain with the rest of the water. But no, Mycah healed them. He healed me. I couldn’t help but think so differently of him now. Before, I thought he was creepy. In fact, I was practically scared to death. Then after seeing what he did to Ray, I was frightened even more. But I wasn’t just frightened at what Mycah did. I was happy. And that scared me too. I shouldn’t be happy at what happened, but Mycah saved my life. If Ray got hurt because of it, then good! He deserved what he got. I owed Mycah my life.

  The sensation of Mycah’s gentle touch radiated throughout my entire body. I felt like I was changing—like something was being awoken inside me. I would never admit it to myself, but my heart soared at the thought of his touch, his smell, and just his presence alone.

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