Nocte (Page 16)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(16)
Author: Courtney Cole

We sit in such a way for an hour.

In silence.

Staring at the ocean and the sky and the stars.

No one has ever felt comfortable like this to me before, with silence that isn’t awkward.  No one but Finn.  Until now.

“Did you know that the Italian serial killer Leonarda Cianciulli was famous for turning her victims into tea cakes and serving them to guests?” I ask absently, still staring out at the water.

Dare doesn’t miss a beat.  “No.  Because that’s an odd thing to know.”

I feel the laughter bubbling up in me, threatening to erupt.

“I agree.  It is.”  It’s something my brother shared with me yesterday.

Dare smiles.  “I’ll be sure to work that in at the next party I attend.”

I can’t help but smile now. “I’m sure it’ll go over well.”

He chuckles. “Well, it’s a conversation starter, for sure.”

I don’t move because I sort of want to stay here forever, even though the dampness of the sand has leached into my jeans and now my butt is wet.

But even though I don’t want this to end, the darkness is so black now that it swallows us up.  It’s getting late.

I sigh.

“I’ve got to go back.”

“Okay,” Dare answers, his voice low in the night, and if I didn’t know better, I’d think I detected regret in it.  Maybe he wants to stay here longer, too.

He helps me to my feet, and then keeps his hand on my elbow as we walk over the driftwood and through the tidal pools and up the trail.  It’s that thing that real men do, the guiding a woman across the room thing.  It’s gentlemanly and chivalrous and my ovaries might explode from it because it’s intimate and familiar and sexy.  

When we get to the house, he removes his hand and I immediately feel the absence of his warmth.

He looks down at me, a thousand things in his eyes that I can’t define but want to.

“Good night, Calla. I hope you feel better now.”

“I do,” I murmur.

And as I pad up the stairs, I realize that I actually do.

For the first time in six weeks.  

8

OCTO

Finn

JumpJumpJumpJumpJumpJumpJumpJumpYouFuckingCowardJump.

“Hey,” Calla’s voice is soft from my doorway.

I yank away from my open bedroom windows as though the sills are on fire.  I’d seen Calla walk up the path with him, but I hadn’t realized she was already back in the house.

“Hey,” I stammer, as I move far away from the windows and try to tune out the f**king voices that taunt me.  “About earlier. Are you mad?”

Calla sinks onto my bed, sitting on her hands.  She stares at me hesitantly.

“No.  I’m just worried. You know why.”

I do.  My journal. I also know that she still hadn’t ratted me out to my dad. Because she knows my deepest fear… of being locked away.

YouDeserveChainsChainChainsChains.

I grit my teeth.

“Don’t be worried, Cal. I’ve got this.”

She takes a breath so shaky that I can hear it from here.  “This is the thing.  I haven’t told dad about the things I read because I’m taking it on myself to make sure you’re fine. That you stay safe.  That you get better. If I’m not with you to do my job and everything blows up, then that’s on me.  And I don’t want to live with the guilt of something like that.  I carry enough guilt already.”

My heart feels like a concrete block as I stare at her vulnerability.

“Calla, mom’s accident wasn’t your fault.  You know that.”

Her eyes are so bleak as she stares back at me.  “Do I?”

“We’ve told you a hundred times, Cal.  You called. She didn’t have to pick up the phone.  It was raining so hard. She should’ve let it go to voicemail.  That was her choice.  Not yours.  She crossed the center-line.  Not you.”

Calla closes her eyes.  “Either way.  I wouldn’t be able to stand it if something happened to you. Do you understand?”

I swallow hard.  “Yes. But I promise. I’ll be ok.”

She raises an eyebrow.  “Promise?”

“Repromissionem,” I assure her, my entire being forcing out the lie.  It comes out sounding like truth which is fine because honestly, I don’t know the true answer to this question.  

Sound normal.

She rolls her eyes.  “Again.  Two syllables are easier.”

I smile.  “What did you need, anyway?”

Her eyes widen, then narrow.  “I just wanted to check on you. I hate it when you seem off.  It makes me nervous.”

“Don’t be.  Nervous, I mean,” I tell her. “It’s ok.”

She nods. “Ok.”

But she isn’t convinced and there’s nothing I can do to make her that way.  I know her better than the back of my hand, so I know that.

“I just wanted to say goodnight,” she tells me finally. “And that I love you.  And that if you change your mind, even if it’s the last minute, it’s fine.  I hate the idea of being apart, Finn. But more than that, I just want you to be ok. So if this is what you need, I’ll try to be ok with it.”

Her eyes fill up with tears and she looks away, but I reach out a hand and lay it on hers.  She looks at me, her chin quivering.

“It’ll be ok.”  My voice is assured. Confident.  “I’ll be ok.”

She nods.

“Reprommissionem?” Her voice is still shaky.

“Promise.”

Lie.

9

NOVEM

Calla

The ocean breeze blows back his hair, and Dare smiles in the sun.  His teeth gleam and I giggle at something he said.

I reach for him and he grabs me, holding me close.

“You’re going to be the death of me,” he says against my neck, his lips brushing my skin.

“Why?” I manage to breathe, my hands splayed against his chest.  He smells like the woods.

“Because you’re so much better than I deserve.”

I wake up in wonderment, because hello. I’m so not better than he deserves.  My subconscious mind must be on drugs, but regardless of that, my dreams are heaven.   

I shower and make my way downstairs for a late breakfast/ early lunch.  The pickings are slim in the pantry.