Ash and Darkness, Teaser #2
“Emory, can you . . . can you hear me?” A knot tightened in my throat.
“Leona?” He traced my hand back to my wrist, his gaze searching the air where I’d spoken.
“Uh . . . Emory,” I gulped. “There’s . . . there’s something I need to tell you.”
“This is fantastic.” His hand reached my shoulder and moved to my face, my hair. “I thought you were exaggerating, but this . . . what are you . . . how is this . . . ?” His fingers brushed my cheek and lingered on the tears, and he frowned.
“I’m invisible,” I moaned, explaining nothing. I caught his hand and squeezed my eyes shut against his wrist, suddenly trembling all over. “It’s dark matter, I can’t get it off. I put it on, and it got under my skin, and now I can’t get it off, and . . . and it’s eating me alive, and I’m going to be stuck like this forever—” And then I broke down and wept like a four-year-old.
“Hey, hey . . . stop it.” He cupped the side of my head and angled it to look me in the eye. “It’s going to be okay. We’re going to tell my dad. He’ll know what to do. We’re going to get you out of this, alright?”
I nodded, and a little whimper rose in my throat.
“Come here,” he said gruffly. He pulled me into a hug, and I collapsed shivering against his chest, arms tucked between us. In his strong embrace, I became real again, flesh and blood, touchable. I didn’t care that I was naked.
His arms paused on my backside, and my skin turned molten under the imprint of his palms. “Did it eat your clothes, Leona?”
My face flushed. “It doesn’t go on over clothes,” I muttered, eyes still dripping. “It’s not like you can see me.”
“Right, because this leaves so much more to the imagination.” His palm skimmed up my spine, leaving a wake of goosebumps before it froze on the nick in my shoulder. His body tensed.
In about two more seconds, he found the scab on the side of my rib cage where Ashley had jabbed me with the fireplace poker—I winced at his touch—and then the wound on my neck. “What happened?” he growled.
“Stop it . . . nothing,” I lied, burying my face in his chest to escape his prodding.
“Leona,” he warned.
“Can you please not ask about that right now?” My voice came out muffled. “Or ever?”
We lapsed into strained silence.
“I love you,” I whispered into his chest, trying to shut it all out, my cheek slippery against his bare pecs. Then I cringed, realizing what I’d just said. Can you not be pathetic for five seconds?
He pet my hair, said nothing. His chest rose and fell under my face. Probably wondering how to deal with the crazy, desperate, naked, invisible girl who’d snuck into his bedroom—
He sighed and reluctantly breathed into my hair, “I love you too.” Like it was barely true, or only true now and wouldn’t be later, or he didn’t want it to be true.
At his words, my heart floated up inside me like a helium balloon . . . before it popped and my body went rigid in horror. Uh-oh.
What the hell was wrong with me? What was I thinking?
“No, no, you can’t,” I gasped, pulling away. “There’s . . . there’s something you need to know . . . about me. Before I fade away completely.”
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