Sweet oblivion (sweet se.., p.68
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       Sweet Oblivion (Sweet Series #1), p.68

           Bailey Ardisone
 

  I clasped a hand over my mouth to stifle my scream. I had another nightmare. I wiped the sweat from my forehead and took deep slow breaths to steady my heart. It was a mixture of everything that had happened: my eighth birthday, my mother dying, Ray strangling me, secret agents interrogating me. All of it. But right before I woke up, I imagined something far worse and so terrible. Huge ugly monsters slowly and violently killed everyone I knew and have come to care about.

  Whatever Mycah said must have really gotten to me. If there really were worse things out there than the Black Eagles, what were they?

  And then it dawned on me. Call it clarity of the night. Or perhaps it was leftover feelings from the nightmare. Whatever it was, I was finally thinking clearly for once.

  Realization swept through me as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. These strong, all-consuming and overwhelming feelings that I had—I now knew what they meant—what they were. For the first time ever, I was in love.

  I was deeply in love with Mycah—One thousand percent head over heels in love with him. And as I saw him take his last breath while a horrible monster stood over him in my nightmare, that was when it hit me. The strange, deep connection I couldn’t seem to explain that was permanently mixed into my soul, and those all-consuming feelings I had when I was not with him and then are infinitely multiplied when I was with him, was what love was.

  I’d never felt it before, and maybe a part of me knew it all along, but I couldn’t—wouldn’t—have ever admitted it. Until now.

  And what was worse was that I had realized if I were to keep forcing myself to hold back this love I felt so strongly for him, then I would have been letting Ray win.

  For the longest time, I’d used him as a horrible example of what all men must be like. And I let him convince me I didn’t deserve to be loved, or that I could even feel true love for another person. He made me miserable, and the more I was miserable, the happier he seemed.

  If I didn’t let myself love and be loved in return, then Ray would win this battle he waged against me the moment he decided I killed his love—his wife. He didn’t want me to be happy because I took away his happiness.

  But everyone deserved love. Even Ray got to experience love. I was finally starting to believe that I, too, deserved it.

  And that was how I decided what to do.

  The next day, I would take Mycah to the Willow and open my heart up to him. Just like I realized with Rydan seven years ago that in order to be trusted by someone, you had to first trust them, I would trust my heart to Mycah. Maybe, just maybe, if I let him into my heart, he would finally realize he could open up to me, too. And if he didn’t, that was okay. I would still love him and could wait for him to be comfortable enough to tell me his secrets. But I couldn’t be a hypocrite and expect him to trust me when I hadn’t shown him that same trust. The next day, that was going to change. Because I realized that I did trust Mycah. Explicitly I trusted him, with all my heart. I knew he would do whatever it took to protect me.

  I would take Mycah to the Willow early before Rydan got there and tell him how I felt, and then hopefully I could convince Rydan to accept him as a part of my life—As long as Mycah wanted that, too. He could completely reject me and not feel the same way as I did for all I knew…

  Ugh. Great. Now I was extremely nervous. I’ve never had to tell a boy how I felt about him before. I had never done any of this before!

  I stared wide-eyed at the duck inside the painting to the left of my bed and felt the strongest urge to start practicing to it what I would say to Mycah.

  I turned on my back, taking with me the rose Rydan gave me from off the bedside table and rolled my eyes, refusing to succumb to something so ridiculous as speaking to a painted duck. I held the rose up to my nose and breathed in the floral aroma. It wouldn’t work, anyway. No amount of time spent practicing could diminish the nerves I now felt screaming under my skin.

  I put my hand over the alarm clock, ready to turn it off, seeing that it would start sounding in just one minute. I waited for it, and then once it was time to get up, I jumped out of bed and went to the shared bathroom to get ready for school.

  This was going to be a long day.

  I stepped down the stairs, giving myself plenty of time to walk to school without being late.

  I stopped on the last stair once my eyes sauntered up and found Mycah leaning against the door with his hands in his pockets and staring outside through the small side pane. I was instantly overcome with anxiety that my hands began to sweat and shake.

  Crap.

  He turned around and looked into my eyes before letting them sweep down over the rest of me, appraising me. I felt my cheeks flush, regretting the special time and care I put into making myself look extra pretty.

  I had pinned my hair to the side, letting it fall over my shoulder and kept down a few loose ringlets crowning my face. I added some mascara and a little smudgy eyeliner to create a smoky look like Zaylie taught me and then added my bubblegum lip conditioner to make my lips pop.

  To finish my whole attire off, I wore a new shirt that Zaylie had given to me. It was a pearly white V-neck empire-waist-styled silk blouse with large blue and black colored flowers along the bottom and edge of the loose sleeves. I had thought it was stunning the moment I saw it in her closet and was shocked when she said I could have it. When I paired it with my favorite skinny jeans, it kept me looking casual instead of too dressy.

  “Good morning,” I offered with confidence. Well, at least I tried to sound confident.

  “Nariella, you’re breathtaking,” he whispered without removing his bright ocean eyes from mine. I tried not to squirm under the heat of his gaze, but he was making it very difficult.

  “You look great, too,” I decided to say to break the attention I had unknowingly put on myself by dressing like this. As I swept my own eyes over him, I realized how true those words really were. But, who was I kidding? He always looked great.

  Today, he looked exquisite in charcoal grey pants and button down linen shirt left open at the collar, leaving the bottom untucked and unbuttoned, and a thin dark jacket over top. And then I realized that it was actually the exact same thing he wore last night; I just wasn’t able to take notice until now. Did he stay up all night or something?

  He smirked at me in his signature way, and I knew right then he could hear my frantic heart beating.

  “What are you doing up?” I made myself ask, refusing to dwell on my embarrassment. I watched as he looked to the ground chuckling, making his black ruffled hair fall over his eyes. I also had just noticed he must've gotten a hair cut the day before because it was shorter on the sides but still long and choppy on the top. He looked exactly like a magazine model straight from the UK.

  “I’m more interested to know what you think I’m doing.” He grinned mischievously at me from under his eyelashes.

  “I don’t know, that’s why I’m asking. I haven’t thought of any reason yet,” I defended myself, not knowing what he was getting at. He lightly laughed and stepped over to me, putting a hand on the small of my back and gently guided me toward the door. He bent down so that his lips were just centimeters from my ear, creating a shiver down my spine.

  “I’m taking you to school, love. What else would I be doing?” he breathed slowly; each word given made my hair softly dance against my skin. I thought for sure at any second I was going to turn around and pounce on him, forgetting school altogether and showing him exactly what else he could be doing.

  But I didn’t. I kept my composure as he carefully took us to his car. And not without driving me completely mad with the way his hand sat right at the small of my back but barely touching me. Was he doing this on purpose?

  The usual two-minute walk to the parking lot felt like an agonizing two hours as my skin begged and screamed for his touch but never received it.

  He opened the passenger door for me and I begrudgingly got in, not able to stop the disappointment flooding through me
that his hands had to be so far away from my body.

  He drove me to school, fast, and I wondered how I would ever find the ability to open the door and step out, becoming separated from him for a full day.

  “So, you’re not coming?” I asked, hoping I wouldn’t have to say goodbye after all. He wasn’t exactly dressed for school.

  “No, I’m sorry, love. I can’t today,” he spoke softly as he gently brushed my bangs out of my eyes.

  “Right. Just wondering,” I fibbed, trying hard to disguise my disappointment with cavalier conversation. He stepped out of the car and walked over to my side, opening my door for me. I slowly exhaled and climbed out, resenting chivalry for forcing me to leave.

  I stood against the car after he closed the door, trying to muster up the courage for what I was about to say. He gazed at me, searching my eyes for that indefinable thing again.

  “Mycah, there’s somewhere I want to take you later. Will you be available after I’m done with school?” I asked in a small voice, afraid of his answer.

  “And where’s that exactly?” he chuckled, stepping closer to me and making it hard for me to breathe. Gosh dang it...Why must he be so...so...magnetic?

  “It’s a surprise. It’s my favorite place. No one else knows about it, so it’s incredibly special.” I tore my eyes away from his and looked to the ground, not wanting to give anything away.

  “Then I’m yours. I’ll be here waiting for you when you get out.” He caressed my collarbone with his thumb and licked his lips. I could feel myself spiraling out of control from his touch, so I forced myself to step around him and walked toward the school. I couldn’t look back or say another word as I desperately tried to catch my breath, afraid that if I did I would run back to him and never be able to leave.

  As I drew closer and closer to school, my heart soared toward the sky, and I could barely contain my excitement for what was to come.

  Chapter Forty-Five

 
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