Fire roars to life inside of me, my blood sings with a primitive power that I’ve never known. I can feel the heat of that fire against the cool lips pressed to mine. I whimper, afraid of the emotions overwhelming me. Devon takes complete possession of me like some invading conqueror and I am helpless to stop him. Not that I want to, mind you. This is what I have wanted, dreamed about since the first day I’d met him. And boy can he kiss. It’s the kind of kiss little girls dream about and the kind big girls decide only exist on the pages of a book. It makes me forget everything.
His hand catches my hair at the base of my scalp and pulls it, tilting my head. He sweeps his lips over mine again and again. A low moan slides from me and I wrap my hands around his neck, urging him closer. I can feel his power coarse over my skin, through it. My own power flares to meet his and strokes it.
Then I am free and he is standing ten feet away, cursing violently. I slide down the wall, unable to stand. My breathing is hard and ragged like I’ve just run a ten mile marathon. I want to scratch every inch of my skin and the buzzing in my ears sounds like an angry swarm of hornets. And I want him to kiss me again.
He walks slowly back over to me and I see that he’s in much the same state. “I am sorry, Cara. That was a mistake.”
A mistake? Kissing me had been a mistake? I can’t stop the tears this time. It’s my first kiss, the one I will remember to my dying day, and he calls it a mistake.
“No, bellisima, don’t cry.” He squats down in front of me and takes my hands. “I did not mean it the way it sounded.”
“Then what did you mean?” I ask through a hiccup.
“No, Cara, I would not take back that kiss for all the world, but it can never happen again. I…”
“What is wrong with you, you stupid boy?” I cry.
“I am not good for you, Alexandria.”
“But why?” I ask, my voice ragged with tears.
Gravel crunched behind us.
“Get your hands off her.”
We both swivel our heads around to see Tom staring at us. He takes one look at my tears and lets out a bellow. He reaches Devon in about two seconds and hauls him up, his fist rearing back for the first punch. It never lands. Tom goes sailing backwards. Devon stalks towards him.
“Devon, don’t!” I push up run after him.
“Stay out of this, Alex.” Tom is on his feet and swinging. Devon ducks and his fist lands in Tom’s face. Tom curses and goes at him again.
I see Morgan sprinting towards us. Thank God. Morgan would put a stop to this. He reaches them the same time I do. Tom takes another dive backwards and into me. I go down, my hands scraping over the loose gravel that litters the ground.
“Ouch!” A sharp rock slices into my hand and a long jagged cut runs across the palm.
Morgan grabs Devon and tells him something to low for me to hear. Morgan gives me a worried look and drags Devon back inside.
Tom shakes his head and pulls himself up. “You’re bleeding.”
“It’s a scrape,” I tell him.
“No,” he takes my hand. “It’s more than a scrape. Let’s get you inside and cleaned up.”
Cleaned up? It’s only then that I realize what I must look like. My hair is mussed, my lips swollen from Devon’s kisses and I’m bleeding. What must Tom think of me?
“No, Alex, don’t say anything.” He steers me around the building. “I tried to keep an eye on Cameron all night. I saw the way he looked at you when we came in and I didn’t want something like this to happen. I’m sorry I didn’t get here sooner.”
“Tom it’s not your fault…your eye!” His eye is already swelling and bruising.
“I’ve had worse,” he dismisses and tries to take me back into the gym.
No way is that gonna happen. Janna would have a field day with this. “Will you please just take me home?”
He looks at me and nods. I crawl in his car and he goes back inside to get my sweater and coat. We are silent all the way home and I jump out of his car before it’s even pulled to a complete stop in front of my house.
“I’m sorry,” I mutter and run up the steps and into the house. I make it to the upstairs hall bathroom. Dad pounds on the door less than a minute later.
“Are you okay, honey? You came tearing up here.”
“No, no, I’m fine, Dad. Just had to pee really bad.”
“You don’t sound like you’re…”
“Okay, okay,” he mutters. “I’m going to bed so if you need me…”
“I’m fine, Dad, honest. Just tired.”
I hear him walk down the hall and his bedroom door shuts. I heave a sigh of relief. I glimpse my red, tear streaked face in the mirror and shudder to think about trying to explain to my dad why I’m crying.
I wash my face and clean the cut on my hand. My lips still throb with the force of Devon’s kiss and I brush them softly with my fingers. A mistake. Why did he think it was a mistake?
I creep back to my room and change into my pj’s. I think about going to bed but know I’ll just lay there tossing and turning. Instead, I go downstairs intending to get a glass of something, but find myself in my dad’s office staring at the picture of my mom on the mantle of the fireplace.
Alecia Reed was beautiful. Long sable colored hair framed a heart shaped face. Her eyes, my eyes, laugh out at me from the frame. She had always been laughing. She should be here. I need her. She should be sitting with me in the kitchen and listening to me tell her about how stupid Devon Cameron is. But no, she’d left, went and died on me and I had no one. I need my mamma right now more than I’ve ever needed her and she isn’t here.
“Why aren’t you here?” I ask the picture. Her laughing eyes are my only answer.
“I know you left us because you thought it was the right thing to do, but it wasn’t. Why couldn’t you see that?” I rail at the picture. “I need you, Mamma.”
“Shh, Sis, it’s okay,” Jason puts an arm around me. I didn’t hear him come in. He’s either getting better at being quiet or I was too upset for my heightened senses to work. “I’m here and you can talk to Emma in the morning.”
“It’s not the same, Jason,” I whisper. “I…”
“I know,” he soothes. “I need her too.”
I lean into my brother and stare at the picture of my mother. Maybe this is how it starts, I think, maybe forgiving her starts with letting out the anger. It is a start, I decide as we head upstairs. That’s all I’m willing to give her right now.