“Nice night,” Eran muttered.
“Uh huh,” I replied.
He sat in the plastic chair next to me, which was positioned cattycorner so although we faced each other, we weren’t looking directly at each other.
“There was a night like this in Texas…clear, fresh air, countless shooting stars. You were headed to El Paso…”
“Johnny Marringer,” I stated, noting the name of the Fallen One I had gone to find.
“That’s right. You had pulled off the highway and there wasn’t a single light…generated by electricity…for miles. There was only the full moon and the stars to brighten the desert floor. When you stopped, you walked out in the brush and looked up at the sky. And you stood there…looking up…for a long time.” His eyes were on me now, waiting for my response. “There was a cool breeze but other than that, nothing moved. No snakes, no desert mice, no bats or owls. It felt as if we were completely alone.”
“I did feel completely alone out there,” I reflected.
He sighed, allowing his head to dip slightly. “I can’t tell you how often I wanted to show myself, Magdalene. It took every bit of my willpower to stop. Because I knew the moment I had, you would find some way to try and lose me. It was just…better to stay hidden.”
“I understand,” I said and he looked at me skeptically. “I do. I know guarding me isn’t the easiest job in the world.”
His jaw slackened in shock. “You admit it? Do you know…you have never once admitted that to me? Not in all the centuries I’ve known you have you ever spoken those words.”
“Well, don’t expect me to repeat it.”
“Oh,” he laughed to himself. “I wouldn’t dare get my hopes up.”
His feet swung down and landed with a thump on the balcony’s wooden floorboards. Then, to my surprise, he leaned forward and took my hands. The heat radiating from his skin was both comforting and thrilling, coaxing my stomach into flip flops.
“Do you know what I’ve missed most about you?”
I shook my head, unable to speak. After all these years I was still exhilarated at the very touch of his skin.
“This…this right now. Being able to sit with you and know that you see me and I see you. It is such a precious gift…” His hands tightened around mine before he dropped his head and laughed to himself. “Before I fell, before I came here in human form, I would sit this close to you.”
My eyes widened. “You did? When? I never saw you.”
“And you wouldn’t have. But I was there with you…always. Here on the balcony, beside you in classes at your new school, next to you at The Square. I was always with you. But I could never touch you.” He rubbed his thumb along the contours of my hand. “That was the most difficult part and that was what I went through again these last weeks.”
“So, you do want to touch me?” I asked innocently.
He tilted his head back and released a bellow of laughter. “You think I don’t?”
“Well, you haven’t…not since I left you…” My head tilted to the side briefly. “I mean, not since I thought I left you.”
“I was giving you time, Magdalene, to readjust.” He said this while trying to hold back a smile.
Instantly, I felt foolish. “Ah…”
He released one of my hands and I worried he might be pulling away, despite what he’d just mentioned. To my relief, he cupped my chin in his hand and said, “Your health and safety is my first priority. As your guardian it needs to be this way. My need to feel you comes second.”
I swallowed, excitement growing in me the longer he stared. “I’m healthy…and I’m safe.”
His face tightened then as a wave of passion coursed through him. I could almost see the intensity of it feverishly boiling in him.
He leaned closer, his breath quickening, and placed his lips on mine. They were soft at first but our passion took over and before I knew it, we were standing, our hips pressed against one another. My fingers were in his shaggy, curly hair; his were gripping my waist, pulling me closer.
In the heat of it, he picked me up, his arms wrapping iron-clad around my waist, carrying me into my bedroom. A few steps across the room and the door was kicked closed. I was on my back then, his warm, firm body on top of me. His hands were in my hair now, entwining with my curls. My lips crushed his and he responded with equal enthusiasm. The bed gave way to our weight, creaking slightly as we moved towards the headboard. His thumbs were in my jeans, pulling them down. Our bodies moved in a rhythm, following each other as they lifted and fell, twisting together until the bed covers were tangled around us. He groaned and roughly yanked the covers aside and then he paused.
“What?” I asked. “What’s wrong?”
He drew in a ragged breath. “Not like this…,” he muttered and rolled to the side, his arms coming off me and lifting above his head. He was still breathing heavily when I laid my cheek on his shoulder. “Not like this…” He reached down and brushed the hair from my face. “You deserve better.”
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