I Know You're There: Malevolent Innocence

*Conclusion to the I Know You're There trilogy* Reuben's dead. Never to return. Tori doesn't grieve, she gets on with her life. In fact, her and Damien's wedding is coming up. Sure, she loves him, but not like she loved Reuben. Everything's fine; absolutely fine. Despite the fact she cries herself to sleep, and prays for Reuben to come back every moment, everything's fine. What am I saying? It's Tori Hills, nothing's going to be fine, especially when she's about to devote her life to the wrong guy. 'I swear, if mine and Reuben's love was fire, we'd be nothing, but ash.'

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4. 'Anything for our best customer.'

A/N
Okay, so my spelling of Hawaiian was wrong... Close enough, though. Just missed the third A. Anyway, back to the story...

 

Suicidal thoughts raked my brain, like nothing I'd ever experienced before. I'd promised myself to get over Reuben's death, but... I couldn't. I was betraying him, by marrying Damien, I just couldn't do it anymore. It was a tough situation, though. If I married Damien, Reuben would hate me for doing so. If I didn't, I'd go into depression, more than already, and he wouldn't want that. There's no alternative guy I could magically be in a relationship with, to keep Reuben happy. I didn't care if he was dead, I'd do what I could to make him happy.

But I've been doing this for several years, and Reuben hadn't made any sign of disapproval. Maybe he liked the idea of his best friend having me? Surely he'd want Damien to be happy, too. Why did he have to leave me with so many unanswered questions!?

"Tori, you should come in, it's cold out here," Damien tenderly whispered, taking a seat beside me.

I slowly exhaled, and leant into him, "I know, just a few more minutes," I compromised. 

I felt him nod, as I let my eyelids close. Damien's strong arm around me, kept the warmth inside of me, and I knew I needed to apologise for being so horrible to him. 

"Sorry," I mumbled.

"For what?" he curiously asked, rubbing my forearm on the opposite side to him.

"For being such a terrible girlfriend-"

"Fiancée," he corrected me, and I could practically hear his smile.

"Right, for being a terrible fiancée, and more or less putting you through hell," I laughed slightly, at how cheesy it sounded.

"Don't be. you've been through a lot, and you're still getting over it..." he replied, and we both knew that 'a lot' and 'it' was Reuben.

I hugged him in thanks, and he picked me up, carrying me back into the house. Warmth immediately enveloped me, and my eyelids felt heavy with exhaustion. No doubt I'd have more nightmares, like I had been for the past five years, but I promised myself not to snap at Damien again. I knew I was going to have these horrific nightmares for the rest of my life, and there was only one person I could talk to, to get them out of the way. 

In my subconsciousness, I felt Damien lie me down on the bed, and slip in beside me, holding me in his firm grip. Sleep drew me in, and I knew it was too late to back out, and soak in the comfort of reality. I was too far into the next terror to escape it. It had me.

*

"Baby, wake up," I heard a soft whisper, and I groaned.

"No, I'm asleep," I replied, burying my face in my pillow.

"Seriously, Tori?" Damien chuckled, shifting slightly.

"Yeah, now let me sleep," I murmured, turning my back on him.

Instead of letting me have ten minutes, like Reuben would have, wrapped up in his arms, Damien persisted until I opened my eyes. 

"What's the emergency?" I said, turning over to face him.

"Nothing, I just wanted to see your eyes," he smiled, tracing his thumb over my cheekbone.

Damn, he's so sweet sometimes. Actually, he was sweet all of the time, even when I was awful to him. I blushed, a smile playing with the corners of my lips. Okay, if I couldn't have ten minutes, an adorable comment like that made up for it.

"Well, Ollie's downstairs, so is the kitchen, I think that may count as an emergency," he joked, and I laughed - funny, too.

Funny, sweet, good looking, you name it, he's got it. Me? Well, I was moody, snapped at a lot of people, had mood swings, and I'd lost any sense of my humour. Sometimes I appeared all right, on my good days. I was on my best behaviour when I was around Mollie, because I didn't want her to not like Ollie, because of me. I could be my normal self around Ollie, Cade, and Bella, because I they're family, and I've known them forever. As for Damien, he got the short straw.

"Call the fire department, then," I joined in with the joke, deciding I should have a good day.

My nightmare was one of my recurring ones, so I didn't flip out when I awoke. I was used to that one. If only Reuben was around to talk about it, and get the pressure off my shoulders.

"Come on, let's go get some breakfast," Damien laughed, picking me up.

Too tired to walk, I let him carry me downstairs, and sit me at the kitchen counter, where I had my flip out the previous night. He moved over to the other side of the kitchen, but I didn't pay attention to what he was doing. Instead, I stared out the window, at our back garden. Ollie soon interrupted my peace, by heavily sitting opposite me.

"Where's Mollie?" I asked, focusing my eyes.

"She went home, she has to babysit her brother," Ollie replied, picking at some grapes from the bowl on the counter.

"And you're still here, because...?" I teased, flicking a grape at him.

"Hey!" he laughed, defending the grape, "I'm here, because Mum is insisting on visiting my flat... Which I haven't cleaned since I moved in," he mumbled the last part, and I flicked another grape at him.

"Ollie, just tidy it up. Why don't you ask Mollie to move in with you? She'd keep you in check," I suggested, getting the grape thrown back at me.

"I know, I've been trying to ask her, for like the past month, but... uh..." he trailed off.

"You're too scared?" I burst out laughing at how ridiculous that was, "Oh, come on, Ollie, just ask her. I bet she'll say yes," I encouraged.

We were cut off by Damien carrying three plates over to the counter. He sat beside me,incredibly close, but I didn't feel the urge to squirm. I got over myself, and thanked Damien for cooking. He'd made French toast, which he knew was my favourite breakfast.

With a casual conversation going, we ate, and forced Ollie to do the dishes, in rent payment. I quickly showered, and got dressed, into an average outfit. I just wore knee length denim shorts, a white tank top, and some grey toms. There wasn't much else to it, I wasn't planning on doing anything. My job didn't start until Monday, and it was Saturday.

"So, you finally got rid of Ollie?" I laughed, taking note on the stillness of the house.

"Yup," Damien replied, lying on the sofa.

He was wearing plaid shorts, a white tee, and a grey beanie, much like Reuben's old one... That's enough Tori, stop thinking about him, today's a good day.

"There's some stuff I need to get, so I'm just going to head out," I lied, knowing that this lie was the only I could pull off.

"Oh, okay, see you later," he got up, and came over to me, to see me out the door.

I grabbed my bag, pecked his lips, and made my way down the road. I didn't want to drive, I may as well walk. I didn't even know I was going to go there, but I was; I just knew I was.

Within ten minutes, I'd made it to the local florist shop. As soon as I walked in the door, I was hit by a wall of perfumed flowers. There were two stalls outside, either side of the door, but I knew what I wanted. I always bought the same thing, and the owner knew me, as a regular customer. 

Before I'd even made it to he counter, she'd collected the flowers for me. It was my usual combination of black Magic Hollyhock, dotted with blue Veronica's. 

"Thanks," I smiled sadly, and paid her.

"Anything for our best customer," she grinned back, her grey bun releasing a few wisps of hair.

"Keep the change," I said, as she tried to hand me some cash.

"Thank you, sweet. Good luck," her smile vanished, as she watched me leave the shop, knowing where I was heading.

Silently, I clutched the bouquet to my chest, scared to let go. My good mood slowly vaporised as I closed in on my destination. I visited every few weeks, so I could get away with lying to Damien. If I told him where I was going, he'd want to come with me. If I went any more often, he'd suspect something. 

Taking a deep breath, I stepped under the metal arch, the words 'Bluebell Cemetery' engraved on it. Trees and hedges surrounded the cemetery, creating an eerie effect. Grass filled up the unused areas, as I walked by each headstone. Some were these magnificent crosses, taller than myself, then there were the typical ones, about waist-high. 

Eventually, I reached the grave I'd been hoping to be unable to find. Sadly, it stood there, taunting me. Engraved on a rounded headstone, read the words I hated to see.

Reuben Andrew Dane

30th November 1996 - 13th December 2012

And that was it. There was nothing else written upon it, as no one knew him, except for Damien and I. He was a a nobody, with an empty gravestone, plus an empty coffin. His body was taken away from us.

That was it. I couldn't take it anymore. I fell to my knees, tears freely falling.

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