Nocte (Page 28)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(28)
Author: Courtney Cole

“And sometimes, there is.  In this case, the explanation is a telephone call.”

Dare shakes his head.  “It’s going to take some doing to convince you that you’re wrong. I can tell.”

“You can try,” I tell him resolutely.  “But if Finn and my father can’t do it, I doubt you can.”

“Challenge accepted,” he says seriously, and the look in his eyes takes my breath away.

“Why do you care?” I ask him suddenly. “You barely know me.”

He’s silent for a second, fiddling with the silver band on his middle finger.  When he looks back up, his eyes are filled with a hundred things I can’t name.

“Because I feel like I do. Because we’re the same in so many ways.  Because I know how horrible it was to lose my mother.  I can only imagine how hard it is when you think it’s your fault.”

Yeah, I think to myself.  It’s almost too much to bear.

“It is hard,” I admit.  “But sometimes, when you least expect it, someone tosses you a lifeline.”

His eyes meet mine and I see that he knows exactly what I’m saying. That he might be my lifeline. There’s no reaction, though, only a silent acceptance and maybe a spark of satisfaction. 

We fall quiet now, comrades in this special club of having lost our mothers.  It’s not a club that anyone enjoys belonging to, but I know that I, for one, feel even closer to him now.

After a few minutes, I can’t stand the silence anymore.

“You’d better be careful with those questions,” I tell him, feigning a smile.  “You’ve only got eighteen left.”

16

SEDECIM

Finn

My secret is eating me alive, clawing at my skin, trying to get out.  But I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.

You’reCrazyCrazyCrazyAndEveryoneKnowsIt.

I stare at my journal, at the brown leather cover, and I grab it, hurling it across the room.  It slams into the wall, then flutters unharmed to the floor.  I rush to grab it, to clutch it to my chest as I rock with it on the floor.

After a minute, something occurs to me.

Of course.

I can’t tell Calla, but I can tell my journal, the way I’ve spilled every other thing in my life onto its pages.

I grab a pen and then I press hard enough that it almost pushes through the page, as if my secret is bursting to get out as the words rush out through the ink.

Once it’s there, I feel better, calmer, as though I’ve confided in an old friend.  I close the cover and leave it on the windowsill.  As I flip off the light and walk through the door, I almost miss the hissing whisper in my mind….the sharp female voice that I just can’t get away from.

Coward.

17

SEPTEMDECIM

Calla

I take a cleansing breath and reach for the sky as I do my morning yoga on the edge of the cliffs.  From here, I can see to the edge of the horizon, all the way out to where the water meets the sky.

“Why do you do this here?” Finn’s voice comes from the trail, soft in the morning air.  “You know it’s dangerous.”

I hold back a smile.  “You know I’m not close enough to the edge to worry.”   I palm the ground, then hoist myself up into a Forward Fold.  I stretch to my feet, feeling every tendon, muscle and ligament elongate as I roll to my toes.

“Why are you up so early?” I ask without opening my eyes.  I count as I stretch.

Five.

Six.

Seven.

Finn sighs.  “I don’t know.  I can’t sleep.”

Eight.

Nine.

Ten.

I finally turn around, and notice that my brother’s face is weary and pale. This alarms me.  “You’re not feeling better yet?”

He shakes his head. “No.”

A surge of panic shoots through me and I fight to tamp it down.  It’s just insomnia, for God’s sake.  Not an instant red flag.

“You’re taking your meds, right?”

He seems to hesitate before he answers.  “Yeah.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Yeah?”

He nods.

“Do I need to take you to Group today?”

He hesitates again.  “Maybe.  I’m going to lie down for a while though.  I might go to the afternoon session.”

“Ok.” I desperately try to hide my concern, because I know he doesn’t want me to hover.  He wants to find his autonomy, not become even more tethered to me.  It hurts.  A lot. But he doesn’t need to know that.  “Just yell at me when you’re ready.”

He nods and heads toward the house, pausing when he hits the edge of the trail. I worry because he’s starting to stay secluded in his room. A lot. 

His shoulders are so skinny as he calls back to me.

“Calla?”

“Yeah?”

He smiles a watery smile.  “Did you know that Queen Victoria loved Albert so much that she insisted on being buried in his dressing robe, holding a plaster cast of his hand?”

I shake my head, rolling my eyes.  “You’re so weird and random, bro.”

He grins like everything is fine, like he’s back to normal. “I know.”

Then he disappears down the trail.

I sit back down in the reddish dirt, trailing my finger through it.  Before I know it, I’ve written Dare’s name, with a flourish at the end of the e.  A flourish shaped like a heart.

“A penny for your thoughts?”

Dare’s wry voice comes from behind me and I cringe because apparently the trail leading to these cliffs is Grand Central Station today.  And I’m humiliated because obviously I’m thinking of him.  I flush, the heat spreading from my chest to my face, and I don’t want to turn around.

But I do.

Dare’s handsome face is amused and a teench arrogant.  He’s dressed in jogging clothes, although he’s not sweaty, so he hasn’t run far yet.

“My thoughts are more expensive than that,” I announce.  He grins even wider.

“I’m sure.  We still have that little matter of secrets to discuss, by the way.”

This confuses me.  “Secrets?”

His eyes meet mine, gleaming ebony.  “Yeah. Everyone’s got ‘em, remember?”

Oh, yeah.  That’s exactly what he said when we first met.  “Maybe.  But not me.”

Dare rolls his eyes.  “Somehow I doubt that. You had Nocte hidden up your sleeve, remember?”