Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.52
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.52

           Bailey Ardisone


  I awoke without opening my eyes, blissful, and realized my lips burned with longing. I could tell through my eyelids that it must've been in the middle of the day, because the sun screamed into my face.

  I had an amazing dream and would give anything for it to have been real. I slightly stirred, not wanting to open my eyes; afraid my euphoria would end upon doing so.

  In that split second, my eyes tore open as my heart jumped to my throat. I was held in place by a lean but muscular arm with incredibly soft skin and a human-sized heating pad attached to my back. With my heart swelling, I went to move my arms and then realized my right hand was interlaced with much larger fingers than mine, and my left hand grasped that same soft arm that rested around me.

  That was when his familiar, delicious woodsy scent flooded through me.

  It wasn’t a dream. Each soft stroke of his breathing against the back of my neck told me that this was very real. I felt my grin grow from ear to ear, and there was nothing I could do to stop it as my heart thumped in my chest. All we did was sleep, but it was still the most amazing night I have ever had.

  I began ever-so-lightly to trace patterns with my fingers over the silky skin of his sun-kissed arm. His breath caught, setting off those dang butterflies in my stomach again, which started doing somersaults at the wondrous sound of him softly moaning in appreciation.

  “You have no idea how beautiful you are, do you?” he whispered against my neck, setting off a whole new wave of acrobatic butterflies inside me. I turned my head to bury my face in my pillow, trying to hide my flushed cheeks.

  He chuckled softly, then kissed my head. He got up and went in the bathroom. I quickly turned on my back, throwing my hand over my eyes, grinning at this amazing moment and this amazing person who was now in my life. I could barely believe that it was real—that at any moment I wasn't going to wake up and realize it had all just been a crazy, wonderful dream. I pinched myself—just in case. Nope, wasn't a dream. This was reality. I bit my lower lip as I quietly squealed and danced against the bed.

  And then it hit me.

  I still had no clue who this "amazing person" was. He wouldn’t tell me. He wouldn’t tell me what he was or why he was dangerous. How could I trust someone like that?

  Especially since one minute he was kissing me, and the next he was telling me he couldn’t stay here. Yeah, he may be in my life now, but that could change at any second. He had already left abruptly once before. Eventually he would go back to Chicago. I didn’t know what we were, but we were definitely not a couple. If I let him in, truly let him into my heart, then I’d only be giving it a death sentence because it was clear sooner or later he was just going to smash it to pieces.

  Moments later, any thoughts I battled with were quickly erased. I watched as he returned dripping wet wearing nothing but a white towel low around his waist, and I swear it was in slow motion as he casually sauntered into the walk-in closet in all his swagger. He had no shame and clearly had no reason to. Words could not describe the incredible sight before me, as his perfectly tight abs cut and disappeared down into the towel and every other muscle glistened in the sun. I knew I was blushing. The hottest guy I had ever been around was Rydan and not once had he paraded half-naked in front of me. It was a sight I certainly was not used to, but even still the level of lust I suddenly felt for this guy overwhelmed me and took me by surprise.

  “Did you want to shower too, love?” he asked once he stepped out of the closet, dressed only in black jeans that hung from his hips. He pulled a fitted long-sleeved shirt over his head, then pushed up the sleeves to his elbows—a look I was becoming familiar with. Yet, even with him now fully clothed, I was still left breathless as I tried to recover from gawking.

  I cleared my throat and pretended not to be bothered by him.

  “Umm…that would be great, but it’d just be a waste. I have to get home and clean before the dance tonight. Ray will be back,” I explained dejectedly, the words leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. If he came home and it wasn’t completely spotless, I’d need Dr. Mycah again. Not that that’d be the worst thing…

  “Ah, yes. The dance. Rydan your date?” he asked without looking at me. His mind had focused on something entirely different than mine.

  “No, I’m going alone. Dances aren’t really Rydan’s thing.” I laughed, remembering how any time I’d begged him to take me before, he immediately refused with a look of disgust.

  “The poor chap probably can’t dance.” Mycah pointed a finger at me for a split second before grinning. “I, on the other hand, am an excellent dancer.”

  “Shocker,” I responded sarcastically, smiling. Who was he kidding? Was there anything Mycah wasn’t excellent at?

  “I could go with you.” He met my eyes seriously. I sucked in a breath, really taken by surprise this time. Marie said he wasn’t going to the dance so I never even let myself entertain the idea before. “Unless you don’t want me to.” He mistook my silence for rejection.

  “No! I...I want you to. I mean, that’d be nice. Thanks.” I swallowed and forced myself to keep calm. I hated every moment my heart betrayed the logic that I firmly held in my brain. I didn’t know what this meant or if it meant anything at all. It could just be a friendly gesture since I was dateless. But I didn’t even know if we actually were friends. He didn’t exactly treat me like one. Didn’t friends tell each other things? I couldn’t let myself get carried away with him. He was lying to me about so many things. I wouldn’t let myself get any deeper until he confided in me.

  He dropped me off at home, and I immediately got to work taking care of the house. I didn’t know what time Ray would be back so I moved as quickly as I could just in case, expecting him to walk in at any moment. I wouldn’t have much time to get ready for the dance, but preventing bruises sat at a higher priority for me.

  I wiped down the counters and every surface or item in the kitchen, took care of any dishes, mopped all the floors, vacuumed any carpets and rugs, dusted every inch imaginable, cleaned the bathroom. I even washed the windows. Then finally, several hours later, finished with the last load of laundry.

  A figure moved outside in the yard, making me do a double-take. It was Mycah. I moved closer to see what he was doing out there, surprised to see him. He walked in a line, holding his hands to the ground, and with each step he took the leaves that littered the yard disintegrated back into the earth. He must've just finished taking care of the entire lawn, because not a loose leaf was in sight. I completely forgot about the yard. I was overcome with relief that Mycah thought of it and deeply grateful.

  He looked up and saw me in the window gawking, then smirked in his sexy way. He jerked his thumb behind him toward the road, signaling he had to go, and waved goodbye. I waved back feeling disappointed he was leaving.

  But just as he pulled away, I suddenly remembered I had yet to finish my dress for the dance and still figure out how to give myself a makeover worthy of the fancy occasion. I was horrible at doing makeup and my hair, only just learning the bare basics. Normally I wouldn’t care, but there was something in me that burned to look extra nice tonight.

  I tried not to get overwhelmed with dread as I ran to my room to finish up my dress, now having only two hours until Zaylie picked me up.


  I could feel myself panicking. There was no way I’d be able to do anything special with myself. Maybe I could at least accomplish "decent."

  After a while, I went to assess my dress one more time just as the doorbell ringing pulled me out of my concentration. I just finished it and had little over an hour to get ready. I didn’t have time to deal with whoever was at the door. I barely had time to shower and take care of myself. I had no idea how to get ready for a dance. An incessant knock made me grunt as I sprinted to the door. I opened it to find a grinning Zaylie clad with bags hanging from her arms.

  “Surprise!” she exclaimed in a high-pitched voice.

  “What are you doing her
e?” I asked, pleasantly surprised.

  “I’ve come to help you get ready!” she squealed, holding up the bags in the air. Her pretty accent painted her words, and I had to stop myself from knocking her to the ground in a bear hug. Her hair and makeup were done to perfection so I couldn’t possibly do anything to mess it up.

  “Seriously? You have got to be my fairy godmother.” I laughed, carefully pulling her into a gentle hug. “Thank you so much!”

  “Don’t thank me yet! We don’t have much time. Point me in the right direction.” She shook the bags and waggled her eyebrows, reminding me of her twin brother.

  “Follow me.” I grinned back and took some of the bags she carried to lighten her load.

  I showed her my room and then quickly jumped in the shower. I worked as fast as I could, shaving my legs and massaging my face under the hot water, and used a special body scrub that Zaylie said would brighten my skin. I was instructed to stand under cold water for a few minutes when I was done with everything else. I didn’t know what it did, but I obeyed.

  I eventually dried and put on a button-down shirt, per her request, and sat down in a chair for her to work her magic on me.

  “You have such captivating eyes, you know that?” Zaylie said as she ran mascara through my lashes. “I would kill for your eyes. Not to mention you don’t even need fake eyelashes! It already looks like you’re wearing some,” she gushed with a laugh.

  “Thank you. But you have gorgeous eyes.” I smiled up at her, truly appreciative of the compliment. Ray hated my eyes—I grew up with him constantly making fun of me and telling me not to look at him. I thought they were ugly because he had always told me they were.

  “So, tell me about your mum and dad. Are you close with them?” she asked with genuine interest.

  “Oh, uh...no. I used to be close to my mom. But not my dad. Actually, they’re my foster parents. And I don’t actually call Ray dad or anything,” I explained as she moved to apply mascara to my other eye. I wasn't entirely sure how much I wanted to open up to Zaylie. Yes, she was my friend of course, but it took a lot for me to open up to someone.

  “I’m so sorry to hear that. Close your eyes,” she quietly instructed. “So what happened? How come you’re not close to your mum anymore?” She said the words softly as she gently swiped my closed lids with a soft brush.

  “Ummm...” I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let the words escape my mouth, and my brain desperately fought to keep the images hidden away. “I can’t really talk about it right now. I’m sorry.”

  “Oh, no problem. Sorry, I didn’t mean to pry.” She smiled down at me. “Look up,” she instructed next. She began working underneath my eyes.

  “No, don’t apologize. It’s just hard for me to get into it. I don’t want to ruin our night.” I felt guilty. I hoped I didn’t make her feel bad. Especially after all the trouble she was going through just to be friendly toward me. I sucked.

  “No worries.” She laughed as she finished up my eyes and moved to my face. After applying some fluffy brushes powdered in a light pink, and once she felt satisfied, she started on my hair. I wasn’t allowed to see the makeup until she was completely done with everything over an hour later.

  I touched my fingertips to my lips and then slowly reached out to touch them in the mirror. My eyes lifted and went to the purple eyes reflecting back at me. I knew it was me—I could see that I was looking at myself. But I looked...foreign. I didn’t look myself. I looked...pretty. I felt pretty.

  “You are incredible, Zales. Thank you so much,” I whispered with gratitude, unable to overcome my shock. I’d never felt so good before. I was happy and excited, and for once I didn’t feel shy. I was now prepared to face tonight. Courage burst into my gut, and a small idea popped into mind.

  “I’m very happy to do it.” Zaylie smirked as she squeezed my bare shoulders. “My turn to get my dress on!”

  “Okay.” I laughed as she ran to the bathroom carrying her garment bag. The idea floated through my mind again. Maybe I could do it...I sucked in a deep breath and steadied my hands.

  Of course I could do it. I was able to make the finishing touches to my dress, shower, Zaylie fixed my hair and makeup, and now our ride would be here at any minute. It didn’t seem possible that I could finish in time, but I did. I could do anything.

  This was it. I was about to go to a dance with Mycah and my friends. I had friends. That was a huge accomplishment all on its own. I was growing into a different person. I could feel it. This should be easy. I could be brave. Tonight, I would be brave.

  I was going to ask Mycah where we stood.

  The small idea might have seemed simple and innocent, even easy for some. But for me, it was a big deal. I needed to know if he thought of us as friends, or if he was just going to up and leave without ever seeing or hearing from him again. And if we really were friends, I needed him to show me by opening up. I needed him to trust me. I needed to know more before he left and I never got the chance to find out.

  And I was going to beg him to tell me.

  My hands started to shake so I squeezed them closed. I could do this. I had no idea if Mycah was coming to my house first, or if he’d be meeting us at the school. We never did hammer out those details, which only made not knowing magnify my nerves. But I needed to stay confident. After the dance tonight, I was going to make him tell me.

  I twirled one finger around a strand of my long hair. Zaylie carefully straightened it into a perfect satin curtain that now hung low across my back. My hair was slightly curled on the ends in its natural state like loose ringlets, but the top half was mostly straight. So using a flat iron, Zaylie worked to provide a more sultry look. In the end, she added a bit of my favorite bubblegum lip conditioner to my lips. I checked my smoky eyeliner one more time, making sure I didn’t cause any smudges.

  I ran a hand over my black form-fitting silk dress. It hugged my curves and dropped several inches above my knee. I hadn’t meant to make it so snug—I wasn’t used to making dresses, especially silk ones. I adjusted the strapless sweetheart neckline bodice that cinched my waist and tugged on the A-line skirt. It would have to do.

  I had never felt more grateful of Ray’s inability to get rid of my mother’s things as I put on the killer pair of black strappy heels I found in her box of shoes. Though she was a size eight, my size seven feet would just have to make it work. I also couldn’t be more grateful that he wasn’t home yet. We might just be able to get out of there without seeing him.

  I walked around my room, practicing the foreign height. It wasn’t so bad. It was all about balance. I could do this. I looked up once I heard Zaylie enter my room.

  “Zaylie! You look amazing!” I gushed openly. She truly did look beautiful. She had her hair curled in an up-do with a few ringlets to frame her face and crisp eye makeup that spelled jungle cat. Her dress was a cute shimmery forest green that brought out the gold in her eyes. It was a fun spaghetti strapped number with a short balloon skirt and chunky belt to cinch her waist.

  “Thank you, doll.” She posed with her arms in the air and leg bent up to her knee.

  I checked my clock, and as if right on cue, a knock sent our eyes to meet and kept us silent. I carefully strode to the door, conscious of my steps so that I wouldn’t break an ankle. I opened the door grinning, expecting to greet a similar smiling Seth who was about to get even smilier once he laid eyes on his date, Zaylie. Instead, my breath was knocked out of me upon finding a gorgeous Mycah, looking completely dapper in his black tux. Holy crap.

  I had never seen anyone look so stunning in all my life. I had to consciously unhinge my jaw and snap it closed. Every color in his blue eyes exploded in contrast to the blackness of his messy rock star hair and black suit. He left his white shirt unbuttoned at the top, and his black tie was loose around his collar, screaming debonair.

  He swept his eyes over me without even a hint of a smile.

  “Nariella...” he breathed my name in his sexy accent, and that r
ight there was enough to strike heat throughout my body. “You’re...stunning. Beautiful. Really.” He stepped onto the doorstep and grabbed my hand.

  “Thank you. And you look very dashing yourself.” I turned away from his intense stare, feeling self-conscious and embarrassed by the way he looked at me. I had planned on displaying confidence when this moment came, but now that I was actually living it I was quickly losing the battle. My small and innocent idea started to become a vague and hazy impossibility the longer he kept his eyes on me. Why did he make me so nervous?

  “Hi, Mycah. I didn’t know you were coming.” Zaylie grinned behind me, and I could hear the happy accusation in her voice. She was all too thrilled with this turn of events.

  “You look beautiful, Zaylie,” Mycah replied. I tried to pull my hand from his grasp, still feeling self-conscious, especially in front of Zaylie, but Mycah tightened his hold. “I hope you don’t mind my intrusion. Nari mentioned she was going alone, so I offered myself.” He smirked.

  “Oh no, no, no. Of course not!” Zaylie drew out each word, being completely overdramatic. I shot her a look, but she only grinned wider at me. Ugh. We were only friends. With...mind-shattering kissing benefits every now and then. This wasn’t what it seemed...I knew it wasn’t. Mycah knew it. Now she just needed to be informed.

  Thankfully, a car I didn’t recognize pulled into the driveway, saving me from the awkwardness, and I was finally able to free my hand from Mycah’s. Seth stepped out of the car, looking super handsome in his black suit, black shirt, and forest green tie that matched Zaylie’s dress. Awww. So sweet.

  “Wow, you girls look amazing,” Seth said with a grin.

  “Thank you!” Zaylie and I said at the same time. “Pinch poke you owe me a coke!” we both exclaimed while pinching and poking each other. We burst into laughter, and I could physically feel the nervous tension evaporate off my shoulders. The guys only smiled at us, looking confused and amused.

  “Hey, Mycah. We’ve never officially met before. I’m Seth.” He reached out his hand for a shake as he got up to us. Mycah gave him a slight nod and firmly took his hand.

  “Evening,” he greeted smoothly.

  “I promised my mum we’d take pictures. Let's stand in front of the tree,” Zaylie suggested as she darted over to it, pulling Seth along with her. I followed and took the camera that she handed over.

  I held the digital camera out in front of me and waited for them to pose. Seth stood behind Zaylie and held on to her waist.


  “Take a few more,” she commanded with a grin, so I obeyed. She moved to stand next to Seth with his arm behind her back.


  Now she stood sideways with Seth behind her again, only their faces were angled toward the camera.


  “Okay, now you and Mycah,” she exclaimed, with way too much excitement in her voice. It made me smile. She took the camera back, and I walked over to the tree, feeling Mycah following behind. I turned around to face the lens, and as Mycah stepped closer to me, my nerves bubbled over like an antsy volcano.

  He put a hand on my back and slid it up to my shoulders, pulling me into him, and his delicious scent flooded my system. My heart stopped momentarily as my eyes flickered up to his. He looked down at me, smirking.


  My head jerked to Zaylie with surprise, who stole a picture without me even being ready.


  “Zales!” I squeaked, feeling embarrassed.

  “You looked so sweet! Now let’s take a group photo. Ummm...” She looked around, trying to figure out how we could all be in the photo together.

  “Here,” Mycah said as he strode up to her and took the camera. “Place it on Seth’s car. Get into position, and I’ll set it on self-timer.” Everyone worked to do what Mycah said. Zaylie and Seth stood together, and I stood by Zaylie. After Mycah positioned the camera just right, he walked over and put an arm around me. I was determined to not be affected by his closeness and smiled this time.


  Chapter Thirty-Three

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