Nocte (Page 31)

Nocte (The Nocte Trilogy #1)(31)
Author: Courtney Cole

“You were drawing me,” I say simply, my hands dropping to my sides.  I don’t know how I feel, other than confused.

He actually seems flustered.

“Yeah.  I…it’s a hobby.”

“You’re really good,” I tell him.  “So good that you were able to draw a birthmark you’ve never seen before.”

Long pause.

Finally, Dare sighs.  “What do you mean by that?”

I sigh back.  “The birthmark on my side.  You’ve never seen it, so how did you draw it?  Have you been watching me?  If so, why?”

Another long pause.

“Uh, I’m not stalking around spying on you, if that’s what you’re implying,” Dare finally answers.  “I sit outside sometimes, and you go outside a lot.  When you came back from sailing the other day, you weren’t wearing a cover up. I noticed it then.”

Oh.  Obviously.

“I’m an idiot,” I breathe. “I’m sorry.”

He shakes his head.  “No worries.  I can see where you might jump to that conclusion.”

Yeah, because I’m wacko.

He glances at me again. “I should be apologizing to you.  For drawing you in such an… intimate way. I’m sorry.  I hope I haven’t made you feel uncomfortable.”

If by uncomfortable, he means incredibly flattered, then yes. He has.

“It’s okay,” I tell him quickly. “You made me look beautiful. Who could be mad about that?”

“You are beautiful,” he says evenly, his eyes flickering with a million different things.  The air is charged, thick with something exciting, and I long to reach up on my tiptoes and kiss him. 

“You never said what you’re doing out so late,” Dare reminds me, interrupting my tempting thoughts.

I look around, hunting for a feasible answer, but the quiet forest doesn’t give me a thing.  “I just couldn’t sleep.  I saw your light….”

“I couldn’t sleep either,” Dare confides.  “I draw when that happens.”

“You draw me,” I say slowly.  “Why me?”

Of all people in the world, why me?

He grins, a slow, sultry grin that seriously curls my toes.

“I don’t only draw you, Calla-Lily.  I draw everything that I find interesting.”

He finds me interesting.   My heart hammers, and I forget that a few minutes ago, I thought he might be a stalker.

“You do?”

He nods.  “I do.”

I’m shivering now from the night breeze and  Dare notices.

“You should run up to bed, Calla,” he suggests. “It’s cold out here.”

I nod wordlessly.  “Ok.  Good night, Dare.”

“Good night.”

I scamper up the walk, and the entire way, Dare watches me go.  I feel it.  But when I turn around at the top of my porch steps, he’s gone.

I feel buoyed and amazing and wonderful, until I get back to my bed and remember that Finn’s in it.  Next to the bed, my flowers have been smashed, by Finn, presumably.

All of my amazing feelings plummet as I realize that I can’t feel wonderful about Dare.  I can’t feel wonderful about anything, as long as there is something so seriously wrong with my brother.

I fall asleep with dark clouds hanging around me, consuming my joy.

20

VIGINTI

The ocean crashes against the shore, the mist spraying against me as I lounge against one of the rocks in the inlet.  It’s low tide, so I can linger here for hours before high tides comes back in to cover all of the exposed pools.

All I want to do is daydream about Dare.  To fixate on the fact that he fantasizes about me naked.

But I can’t. Not right now.  Because in my jacket pocket, my fingers rest on the tattered leather cover of Finn’s journal.  After realizing last night that Finn is even more troubled than I realized, I know I’ve got to figure it out.

So when he and my dad went out to work on the fence, I took his journal.  It’s something I had to do because he’s obviously not going to tell me himself.  He’ll think it’s lost… and I’ll have to go along with that.  It makes me feel dirty, and awful for lying to him, because I know how much his writing means to him.

But he’s just going to have to write in something else.

I’ve got to do whatever it takes to protect him from himself.

My breath hitches in my chest as I pull the book out.  Because the last time I read it, it scared me for weeks.

His hidden thoughts terrified me then, and they’ll terrify me now.

Regardless, I open the cover with shaking fingers.

And then I’m still.

Absolutely, completely still.

A folded paper is inside the front cover, but I can already see what it is.

Dare’s drawing of me.

When did Finn get it? In the middle of the night?

Unable to breathe, unable to feel, I unfold the paper carefully and then my heart spasms.

MINE is scrawled across the beautiful sketch. Everywhere.  Big letters, small letters, in-between letters.  Scrawling bold writing.

MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE MINE.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t think.

All I know is that my fingers are trembling and my heart is spasming and what the hell is going on?

Finn crept out of my bed, down to Dare’s house, and stole this picture in the middle of the night.  Hell, he might’ve even been watching me the whole time and that’s how he knew it even existed.

Chills run down my back, causing me to shiver and shiver and shiver.

Why?

What is wrong with my brother?

Forcing myself to focus, I flip through the pages of his journal because this is where I’ll find answers.  There’s a tarot card hidden in the pages, which is odd, but I tuck it back in and fly through the pages until I get to where I’d left off the last time I’d read it.  The writing is bold and heavy, which is odd since Finn’s fingers and arms are light as a feather, scrawny and thin.

My chest constricts as I read his words.  They’re written in all different sizes, in scratches and scrawls, the scribbles of the insane.

Nocte liber sum  Nocte liber sum

By night I am free.

Alea iacta est  The die has been cast.  The die has been cast.

The die has been f**king cast.

Serva me, servabo te.  Save me and I will save you.

Save me.