Dark Secrets

Page 79

But even with the warmth in my soul, weightless from his touch, the small silver locket around my neck felt heavy under the pain of imminent separation. It had felt that way for so long now, but only in his arms, with his lips once again belonging to mine, I could finally see that it always would—and I wasn’t sure I could bear it.

I yanked the chain loose and held it out to David as I pulled away from the kiss. “I’m sorry. I just can’t do this.”

“Ara?” His voice overflowed with confusion as he held the locket in his open palm.

“It’s too painful for me. I can’t keep this as a memory of you. I need to forget. I need to try to move on, and every time I do, this is a constant reminder that you’re no longer a part of my life.” My voice broke—shattered, as I delivered the words I knew were tearing out his heart.

His rounded eyes burned through me, deep into my soul; he wanted me to feel what he felt right then, but I already knew. I could feel it myself—in my bones, breaking my resolve.

I looked away. It hurt too much to see that on his face. It would only destroy me over and over again.

The locket sat in David’s outstretched palm, shimmering like moonlight on sand in the soft, dull light of our eternal darkness.

Placing my thumb against the heart, I closed his fingertips around it and held my grip there for a second. “This is not goodbye, remember?”

“Not yet, anyway.” He nodded solemnly as he placed my heart into his pocket, and then, like so many times before, without a word, without a smile, the darkness was the only thing I saw in his place.

Chapter Twenty-Nine

With my back against the wall outside Mr Benson’s class, I hugged my books—the books David usually carried—and watched everyone pass. They didn’t talk to me. They hardly even gawked at me anymore, and the horrid yellow linoleum just seemed to be a part of the scenery, ironically, like me. Didn’t mean it fit, though.

“Hey, did you hear?” Emily came bounding over.

“Depends. What was I supposed to hear?”

“The benefit? We raised enough to cover Nathan’s funeral.” Her lips practically touched her ears. “And due to an anonymous donation, Mrs Rossi won’t have to pay the hospital bill, either.”

“Wow, that’s really great.” We moved aside for Mr B to get into class. “So, who’s the donor?”

Emily glared at me. “Ara, the point of being anonymous is that no one knows who you are.”

“Oh, right.” I closed my eyes for a second. “Sorry. I’m just—I’m not really with it today.”

“Are you ever?” she asked; I shrugged. “So, what happened to you anyway, after the show? You just…disappeared.” She fluttered her fingers as if throwing a handful of butterflies into the air.

“I uh—”

“Is it Mike? ‘Cause you guys seem pretty friendly.” She paused for a moment. “Is Mike taking you to the ball? Since David had to go New Hampshire?”

New Hampshire, huh? “I haven’t asked him. But, I guess he will. It’s been really busy around my place lately.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. We haven’t even gone shopping for my dress yet.”

“Oh, my God. Emily. I’m so sorry. I totally forgot.”

“I don’t blame you, not with a hunk like that hanging around.” She elbowed me softly, hugging her books to her chest.

“Can I make it up to you?” I asked.

“Yeah, okay.” She lifted one shoulder and dropped it. “Hey, why don’t we go tonight? Maybe have some dinner out?”

“Yeah, you know—” I grinned, “—that may be just what I need. What time?”

“Six fine with you?”

“Sounds—great.” Really great, actually.

We parted ways and I suffered the trials of obligation for the next seven hours in silence. It was during this desolate wandering I had a revelation; school was so boring. I decided I wouldn’t be coming tomorrow and probably not for the rest of this week, actually. I wanted as much time with Mike as I could get before he boarded that plane next Monday and, if I decided not go with him, disappeared from my life forever.

It seemed to be the way with people I loved; I’d get to hold them, love them only long enough to realise I couldn't live without them, and then they were gone. A blink of an eye.

There was no going back to the simplicity—the uncomplicated rose-coloured glasses of love. Love was not enough anymore, and if love were truly blind, then I’d surely be running away with David.

But the heart must not be allowed to rule the mind. At least, that’s what I kept telling myself. Though, I was starting to wonder which one was which.

* * *

Mike sprawled out across my bed and sorted through the playlists on my iPod while I fussed about in my wardrobe, choosing a dress to wear out. “So, what’s this shopping trip for again?” he called.

“Um. Emily needs a dress for the ball. I was supposed to go with her last week, but…” I shrugged to myself.

“Ball?” The words came from directly behind me.

I spun around, cupping my hands over my bra. “Mike? Get out of here!”

“Relax, kid, I’ve seen it all before.”

“No,” I scoffed, shoving him. “Get out. You can talk to me when I’m decent.”

“You look pretty decent, now.” His smug grin made me smile, but common sense took over and I shoved him again.

“Out. Now!”

“Okay, okay.” He laughed as he backed away, palms raised. “So, are you going to the ball?”

“Well, I—” I looked at the dress, hanging in all its glory on the hook beside me.

“Was David supposed to take you?” Mike asked from right behind me again.

“Hey. I said out!”

“Just answer me and I’ll go.”

“Don’t give me that cheeky grin, Michael Christopher White. I said out. Now, out.”

He grabbed the finger I pointed in his face. “Make me.”

“I shouldn’t have to. You should give a girl some respect.”

“I do respect you.” He pulled me close, cupping his warm hands on my bare waist. “I’m also just very attracted to you. So—” he grinned, running his thumb from my rib to my hip, “—can I escort you to the ball, since the flesh eater isn’t here?”

Flesh eater? Oh, right, he was referring to the bruises on my neck. “Don’t talk about him like that, Mike,” I said. “Besides, I thought you hated getting all dressed up?”

“Who me?” His eyes flashed with mischief. “Ara, I would like nothing more than to dress like a penguin and dance with the most beautiful girl in the room. Besides, we both know I look hot in a suit.”

I glared up at him, making my eyes small. His hands clasped together so tightly behind me then that I couldn't really move. I wanted to tell him to get out, but I also wanted him to stay. I just wanted it to feel right. But it wasn’t right. Not yet.

“So, what’d ya say—will you let this lowly Aussie hunk escort his princess to the ball?”

“No, but I’ll let my best friend do it.”

“Great. I’ll go buy a suit tomorrow then.”

“Okay, thanks, Mike.”

“No worries, baby.” He rested his head on mine, cradling me close, continuing his welcomed intrusion.

“Um, Mike,” I said into his warm, firm chest, my lips practically eating his shirt with each word. “Kinda need to breathe.”

“Oh, sorry.” He let me loose. “I always forget how fragile you are.”

I rolled my eyes. “Okay, now, out. I need to get dressed.”

“Ara?” Vicki called. “Emily’s here.”

“Send her up,” I called back and glared at Mike.

“Okay.” He laughed at my ‘nose in the air’ stance, then turned around, but didn’t leave. “Maybe I’ll take Sam to another movie.”

“You two are getting pretty close.”

“Yeah. He’s a good kid,” he said, leaning on the wall, forgetting he was supposed to be looking away.

“He’ll be sad when you go.”

“Maybe I just won’t go then?” I could hear the question in his suggestion. He wanted me to ask him to stay.

I shrugged instead, buttoning my jeans. “I’m not having this conversation with you right now, Mike. I have too much on my mind.”

He went quiet, nodding, then wedged both hands into his pockets, took one last long look at me and left with a cheeky grin on his face.

After a less than successful shopping trip, Emily and I sat empty handed at the café and ordered a burger. “Mike seems nice.” Her eyelids fluttered. “You were definitely right about his cuteness.”

I nodded, swallowing my mouthful. “He feels really bad for practically shaking you the other day.”

“It’s okay. Really. I get it. He was worried.” Her smile subsided to a frown. “Really worried, actually.”

I nodded, feeling pretty awkward.

“So, how’s David?” she asked. “Have you two run up a huge phone bill yet?”


“Oh.” She blinked a few extra times, looking at her plate.

I placed my burger down. “I uh...I actually haven’t spoken to him since he left.”

“Why’s that? Has he lost his phone again?” She grinned.

“Um, no.” My jaw tightened to hold back the quivering lip. “We broke up, actually.”

“What?” she screeched; everyone in the café turned to look at us. “What do you mean? Why?”

“He…he wasn't going on holiday, Em. He...was moving away—permanently.”

Her face contorted—an illustration of her thoughts. “But…he didn't even say goodbye.”

“I know. He hates goodbyes,” I lied.

“But, he was my friend!”

The waitress nearby stopped walking and looked at Emily.

She cleared her throat, blinking back tears. “He wouldn’t just leave without so much as a goodbye.”

“I'm sorry, Em. He did.”

Her lip trembled. “But…I knew him longer than you. Why would he just…that’s so mean.”

“And you’re surprised? You know what he’s like.”

“Yes.” She scowled at me, like this was my fault. “But he was never mean to me, Ara—never intentionally, anyway.”

“Well, I don't think he left to be mean, Emily.”

“Why did he leave—did he tell you?”

I sunk my chin against my hand with a huff. “His uncle got a call to move, and David had to go with him.”

“His uncle?” She frowned. “David doesn't live with his uncle anymore.”

I sat taller. “How do you know—did you ever go over his house?”

“House? Ara, he lives in an apartment.”

My stomach dropped through my legs and onto the floor. “So you went there?”

“Of course I did.”

“Oh. Um.” Ouch. “Well, I'm sorry he didn't say goodbye, Em. Maybe he’ll call you or something.”

She looked down at her meal, folding her bottom lip over her top one, her eyes awash with thought. “How are you coping then?”

“Me? Fine.”

She smiled, her eyes glassy. “Liar.”

I laughed once. “No, really, I knew this was coming, so I'm okay.”

“How long have you known?”

I shrugged.

“Did you know at the sleepover?”


“Oh.” She nodded. “Not planning to marry him. So, that’s what you meant that night?”

I nodded.

“I'm sorry, Ara.”

“I'm okay.”

She stared me down. “Ara, I’m your best friend. You don't have to be strong around me.”

Funny thing was, she had become my best friend, and I knew I could tell her about David—and she’d understand. “Thanks, Emily. But I really am okay.”

“Did he say where he was even going?”

“No. Only that he won't be back. That’s why we broke up.”

I could see the thoughts flickering across her brow, in her eyes and over her lip, changing, forming into questions. “Why didn't you go with him? I mean, if I loved someone as much as you loved David, I would’ve just jumped in his suitcase.”

I laughed. “Um, well, because I didn't want to.”


“He…he wants a kind of life that I…well, we want different things.”


I swallowed. “Well, I want a family one day, and he—”


“He wants a career in…” Punishing naughty vampires. “Politics. He can't have distractions, like a family.” Or food he’s in love with.

“Kids?” Emily practically spat. “You let David go because you want kids?”

I nodded, knowing it was a poor argument.

“I don't get you, Ara.” She dabbed her teary eyes with her napkin.

“Not much to get, Em. It is what it is.”

She shook her head, leaving her burger abandoned on the plate. “It’s getting late. We should probably go.”

“Okay,” I said softly, grabbing my bag as I stood up. “You okay, Em?”

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