Every Last Kiss

Page 33

“You’re never going to believe who’s here,”she breathed.

From her tone, however, it was actually pretty easy to guess.I looked across the crowded room to find Derek standing with a group of his friends.It wasn’t painful at all to see him, I realized with a jolt. I didn’t feel anything for him.Not even anger.Strange.

I shrugged my shoulders at Jenn and went back to picking at my Lo Mein.But Derek had spotted me.When I looked up again, he was almost to our table.I groaned, but met his eyes as he approached.He was alone- he had left his friends congregated across the room.I could feel them watching, just as I could feel Jenn and Jess holding their breaths for my reaction.

“Macy, can we talk?”he asked hesitantly, his face hopeful and afraid at the same time.

His class ring sparkled on his finger as he thrummed it nervously against his skinny leg. I couldn’t believe that I had ever thought he was beautiful.He was cute, in a pale toddler-sort-of-way, but he was nowhere near Hasani’s level of devastatingly good looks.

“What about?”I asked brightly.Jenn choked on her egg roll and I shot her a look.

“You know what about,”he responded patiently.“Could we speak alone?”He gestured toward a nearby table, but I made no move to get up.

“I’m good here,”I replied, smiling at him politely.“I don’t have anything to say.”

“Macy, please,”he begged.“Please don’t throw away two years over this.Please.”

His light green eyes met mine and he gave me a heartbreaking look.But I found that it didn’t break my heart.Mine had been broken by a situation much bigger, much more important than this trivial bullshit.

Looking at him steadily, I replied firmly, “I’m not the one who threw away two years, Derek.You did.I hope that you and Tara are very happy together.”

Breaking our gaze, I went back to my food dismissively, making a point of pushing it around on my plate and not looking at him again.

“Macy…”he began, but Jenn interrupted him with an acerbic tongue.

“You should go now, Derek,”she instructed sharply.“Macy is done with you.Say hi to your new girlfriend for us.”

Jenn and Jess collapsed into giggles and he glared at them angrily before he stalked away.Jess stared at me incredulously.

“I guess smashing all of his things and delivering them to his doorstep was more cathartic than I realized,”she grinned.

I couldn’t help but smile back.My heart was still broken, but it wasn’t because of Derek.For all I cared, he and Tara Wilson could get married and have twenty kids together.He was nothing to me.

My thoughts were consumed by another face... a beautiful, darkly handsome face framed by long shiny hair.I inhaled sharply at the memory and Jess’ perceptive eyes flew to my face.

“Are you okay?Was it too soon to joke?”Worry creased her fine features.

“No,”I shook my head.“Derek is the joke.It’s fine.”

Even though I loved these girls, I found myself desperately missing Cleopatra.She would understand- I wouldn’t even have to explain.I sighed a heavy sigh and continued eating my noodles.

* * *

Days turned into weeks.Non-eventful, unexciting weeks.My thoughts frequently returned wistfully to Alexandria, missing the sharp tang of the sea air and the fragrance of the jasmine.I managed to conveniently forget the drawbacks of ancient Egyptian life- including the lack of electricity, plumbing and modern medicine.Oh- and the crazy eunuch who had wanted to kill me.

On one restless afternoon, I went back to the mall alone and found a perfume store where they created custom perfume oil.I tried to recreate the perfume that I wore in Alexandria- the soft, subtle scent that had made me feel so sexy. The perfume maker managed to get close, even if it wasn’t exactly the same.But it was close enough to remind me of Egypt every time I inhaled it.  

I also managed to find a tattoo artist that specialized in henna… and I had a phoenix tattooed on my back, just like I wore in Alexandria. My mother almost had a heart attack until she realized that henna tattoos were temporary and would wear off in a matter of weeks.

I all but ignored Derek at swim practice, something that at first troubled him, then later pissed him off.He had conveniently forgotten that he was the one who had erred, the back-stabbing cheater.In his mind now, I was being a bitch.Perception is a strange thing. And surprise, surprise.Within a month, Tara Wilson was wearing his class ring on her short orange finger.Puke.

Ever since she had divorced my dad, my mom had become ultra-sensitive to break-ups, in part because of her psychiatrist friends.She bought a stack of self-help books to help me deal with the grief of losing a relationship, thinking that I was depressed over Derek.It was a logical, if inaccurate, assumption.

Little did she know that my lingering, all-consuming sadness stemmed from losing Hasani, Cleopatra and Antony in a previous life. That would have been a little impossible to explain. It would also have resulted in me being harnessed into a straight-jacket. But whatever- that was a moot point because I would never say a word.

My mom was trying her best to be understanding and was being incredibly patient with everything around the house.I had forgotten to pick up my ice cream bowl the other night and she had gritted her teeth and simply smiled at me.That part was nice because she was usually a little OCD about things like that.

After school let out for the summer, though, it was harder to keep my mind off of everything.Without school to occupy my thoughts, I decided to channel my sadness into writing.It seemed to be fairly therapeutic.One July morning, I was lounging at home writing poetry about an unnamed handsome warrior when my phone rang.

Picking it up, I saw that it was my mom, calling from her office.

“Hi mom,”I answered absently, scribbling down another line.His eyes melted into the darkness as he hovered above me and smiled.

“Hi sweetie.Could you do me a huge favor?I left my cell phone on the kitchen counter.Could you bring it to me?I feel naked without it.”

She sounded rushed and very professional.I knew she must have a full day of patients.I doubted she would even break for lunch.

“Sure, just let me throw some clothes on. I’ll stop at the deli and grab you a sandwich for lunch, too.”

I could hear my mom’s smile through the phone.

“Have I told you lately what a great daughter you are?”she laughed.“Thanks, sweetie.You’re the best.”

I threw on a pair of shorts and a tank top, yanking a brush through my long hair. I left it down, not wanting to take the time to find a ponytail holder.Grabbing my keys and purse, I jumped into my car and took off for the deli.

As I pulled into the parking lot, I groaned.It was packed- hardly even a parking spot.It was barely even 11:00, so apparently the lunch rush started early in this place. I sighed and slipped in the door, taking my place in the long line.

To kill the time, I eyed the variety of deli meats behind the glass counter. They were spread out in giant fan-like arrangements. I found my thoughts straying to the memory of Cleopatra’s elaborately loaded banquet tables.These cold cuts didn’t even begin to compare to the lavishness of her dinners.

As my eyes glazed over with memories, a sensation that I would never be able to explain suddenly came over me and I instantly knew beyond any doubt that someone was watching me. I lifted my head and turned to find a long, lean stranger making his way across the room.His dark eyes were fixed upon me.The eyes from my dreams.

Hasani’s eyes.

My heart stopped and I gasped, looking again.

Hasani stared back… his eyes a deep chocolate brown, so dark that they were almost black. It was no mistake. Familiarly jolted through my body and my heart leapt into my throat.Hasani!

Ahmose had been right.

I fought to keep breathing.It wasn’t that I had not believed him-- I just hadn’t expected to find Hasani so soon.I thought I would have to live a painful existence until I found him later in life… like when I was 30 or so.But he was here.Now.

He was almost to me, his purposeful, loping stride the same as it used to be.There were differences, of course.He didn’t have the cut warrior’s body anymore- because there was no need for it.He wouldn’t need to fight for his life now in hand to hand combat.His legs were still long and graceful, his face still beautiful.It was a different face, but he still had the same strong jaw line and the same eyes.I smiled in relief, remembering how I had traced that very same jaw line with my fingers.

As he approached, he had Have we met? written all over his face and my knees went weak.There was no way he could know me.  That was just wishful thinking on my part. We would have to start all over again from scratch.But I found myself not caring.I was just so happy to see him.Beyond happy… ecstatic.

“Excuse me, miss,”he approached flirtatiously, smiling a dazzlingly white smile.My breath caught in my throat.Same smile.

“This is going to sound crazy and I promise you that I’m not, but have we met before?”His face was perplexed.“I feel like I would remember that, but I can’t shake the feeling that I know you.”

He was dressed in khaki cargo shorts, a black tee and black flip-flops, an ensemble very different from the last time I saw him walking away from me in war regalia.But he was still beautiful.I noticed with relief that the same gentleness was still in his eyes.

“I don’t think so,”I lied.“I’m pretty sure I would remember you.”

“Hmm,”he smiled.“You must think I’m feeding you a line. You probably get that a lot.”

I smiled back, so full of shock and happiness that I couldn’t think straight.

“No, I don’t.Get that a lot, I mean.”

I grinned again, amused at my nervousness. I knew him.Every single part of him was familiar to me. There was no need to be so nervous.Ahmose had said… souls stay the same.He was still the same Hasani, he just had a different face.

I held out my hand.

“I’m Macy Lockhart.”

He took my hand and shook it.

“I’m Gavin Chase.”

Of course he was.Somehow that name fit him perfectly.He looked at me, his dark hair slanting across his forehead as his chocolate eyes twinkled.

“This is going to sound like another line,”he said laughingly, “but your perfume smells amazing.It feels like I should know it, but I don’t.”

With every word he spoke, he fascinated me even more.He remembered me… on a deep subconscious level.I found myself wondering if this was how it was in every life.

Each time, we probably felt an unexplained familiarity, but we were never quite able to put our fingers on it.This time, though, I was in the loop. It was a nice feeling.

“Thank you.Are you new here?”I asked curiously.

“Is it that obvious?”He grinned a disarming smile and I sucked my breath in.“I just moved here from the east coast.I knew I would stick out like a sore thumb.”

“No, you don’t,”I assured him.“I was just wondering because I haven’t seen you in this neighborhood before.What school will you be going to?”

“San Marino.Where do you go?”

I nodded happily.“San Marino.”

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