Nocte (Page 15)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(15)
Author: Courtney Cole

Dare smiles and holds up his hands.  “Calm down,” he says soothingly. “I was just making an observation.  Not everyone cares that much, family or not.”

I stare at him.  “That’s a sad thought.  Why are you out here anyway?  In the dark?  Alone?”  I throw his words from earlier back at him in an effort to change the subject.  He smiles in appreciation of my effort.

“Because I was bored.  And I thought I could see the stars better from here.”

He’s right.  We definitely can.  Up on the mountain, the trees block them.

And he likes the stars?  Is it possible for him to get more perfect?

He points upward.

“That’s Orion’s belt.  And that over there…. That’s Andromeda.  I don’t think we can see Perseus tonight.” He pauses and stares down at me. “Do you know their myth?”

His voice is calm and soothing and as I listen to him, I let myself drift away from my current problems and toward him, toward his dark eyes and full lips and long hands.

I nod, remembering what I’d learned about Andromeda last year in Astrology.  “Yes.  Andromeda’s mother insulted Poseidon, and she was condemned to die by a sea monster, but Perseus saved her and then married her.”

He nods, pleased by my answer.  “Yes. And now they linger in the skies to remind young lovers everywhere of the merits of undying love.”

I snort.  “Yeah.  And then they had a corny movie made for them that managed to butcher several different Greek myths at once.”

Dare’s lip twitches. “Perhaps. But maybe we can overlook that due to the underlying message of eternal love.”  His expression is droll and I can’t decide if he’s being serious or just trying to be ironic or something, because the irony is lost on you.

“That’s bullshit, you know,” I tell him, rolling the metaphorical dice.  “Undying love, I mean.  Nothing is undying. People fall out of love or their chemistry dies or maybe they even die themselves.  Any way you look at it, love always dies eventually.”

I should know. I’m Funeral Home Girl. I see it all the time.   

Dare looks down at me incredulously.  “If you truly believe that, then you believe that death controls us, or maybe even circumstance. That’s depressing, Calla. We control ourselves.”

He seems truly bothered and I stare at him, at once nervous that I’ve disappointed him and certain that I’m right.

I am the one surrounded by it all the time, after all…by death and bad circumstances. I am the one whose mother just died and I know that the world continues to turn like nothing ever happened.

“I don’t necessarily believe that death controls us,” I amend carefully. “But you can’t argue that it wins in the long run.  Every time.  Because we all die, Dare.  So death wins, not love.”

He snorts.  “Tell that to Perseus and Andromeda. They’re immortal in the sky.”

I snort right back.  “They’re also not real.”

Dare stares at me, willing me to see his point of view and I’m suddenly confused about how we started out talking about love and are now talking about death. Leave it to me to work that into conversation.   

“I’m sorry,” I offer.  “I guess it’s a hazard of living where I do. Death is always present.”

“Death is big,” Dare acknowledges. “But there are things bigger than that.  If there’s not, then this is all for nothing.  Life is worth nothing. Putting yourself out there, and taking chances and all that.  All of that stuff is bollocks if it can just disappear in the end.”

I shrug and look away.  “I’m sorry.  I just believe in the right here and right now.  That’s what we know and that’s what we can count on. And I don’t like to think about the end.”

Dare looks back at the sky, but he’s still pensive.  “You seem rather pessimistic today, Calla-Lily.”

I swallow hard, because I do sound like a shrew.  A jaded, ugly, bitter person.

“My mom died a few weeks ago,” I tell him and the words scrape my heart.  “It’s still hard to talk about.”

He pauses and nods, as though everything makes sense now, as though he’s sorry because everyone always is.  “Ah. I see.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to open a wound.”

I shake my head and look away because my eyes are watering and it’s embarrassing. Because God.  Am I ever going to be able to think about it without crying?

“It’s ok.  You didn’t know,” I answer.  “And you’re right.  I’m probably jaded.  Being surrounded by death all the time… well, I guess it’s made me ugly.”

Dare studies me, hard, his eyes glittering in the light of the driftwood fire which reflects purple flames into his black bottomless depths.   

“You’re not ugly,” he tells me, his voice oh-so-beautiful.  “Not by a long, long shot.”

His words make me lose my train of thought.  Because of the way he’s looking at me right now… like I’m beautiful, like he knows me, when I’m really just Calla and he doesn’t.

“I’m sorry I’m so emotional tonight,” I tell him.  “I’m not usually like this.  It’s just… there’s a lot going on.”

“I see that,” he answers quietly.  “Is there anything I can do?”

You can call me Calla-Lily again. Because it seems intimate and familiar, and it makes me feel good.  But I shake my head.  “I wish.  But no.”

He smiles.  “Ok. Can I walk you back up to the house at least?”

My heart leaps for a second, but the idea of facing Finn right now isn’t one I enjoy.  So I shake my head.

“I’m not really ready to go back yet,” I tell him regretfully.  Because it’s the truth.

He shrugs. “Okay.  I’ll wait.”

My heart thunders in my ears as I pretend that I’m not thrilled with that.  We sit in the sand, so close that I can feel the warmth emanating from his body, so close that whenever he moves, his shoulder brushes mine.  I shouldn’t get so much pleasure from that, from the accidental touches, from his warmth.

But I do.