Waiting on Morning

After the recurrence of her terrifying nightmares, Nebraska-native Maeva Blake has to find out why she's having them again. In the midst of be courted her charming Sebastian, Mae has to learn the truth about her gruesome dreams and their ominous messages. Unfortunately, she has to dig through her painful past to find her answers.

( Have an open mind going into this story! It can get a little vulgar and violent, sometimes even a bit risque. Comments, likes, critiques, all is welcome! Enjoy! )

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3. A Gentleman

            “This doesn’t make any sense,” I muttered under my breath. Calculus was definitely not my favorite, especially since I failed it last semester so I had to take it again. I went over each function again, still not seeing where I went wrong or where the path to right answer would be.

            I sighed and leaned back in the stiff chair. Gazing around the library, I admired its magnitude. It was enormous; the vaulted ceilings were at least eighteen-feet high and the width felt as thought it had to be at least half a football field. Back in little old Nebraska, we had libraries that were nice, but nothing extravagant where I lived. I rapped my pencil on the table and ran a hand through my hair, dragging my attention back to the tedious work that I so dreaded to complete. With my peripherals, I saw as a book was placed gently on the opposite side of the table I was working at. I glanced up. Sure enough…

            “You think I’m convinced that you aren’t following me?” I smiled and crossed my arms as Sebastian sat across the table from me, his smile radiating warmth.

            “Hey, it’s not my fault that you didn’t see me here first. I was two tables over,” he nodded to the left, “and then you started making a bunch of frustrated sounds. I figured I could help.” He set both elbows on the table, closing the distance between us a little more. He tilted his head in an attempt to read my work; apparently calculus isn’t too easy to decipher upside-down. “What’re you working on?” he asked.

            Letting my guard down slightly, I restored my posture, “Calculus.”

            He hissed, “I hated calc. But I got a B, so maybe I can help. Maybe,” he emphasized.

            I nodded, accepting his help, “So, I’m on this function right now and—“

            “Do you like tea?” he interrupted. I looked up startled.

            “What?”

            “Do you like tea?”

            “Where did that come from?” I was genuinely confused at how his train of thought ended up there.

            “Well, you said you don’t like coffee. So, do you like tea?” He said, a small smile peeking out.

            “Er… yeah. I like tea. Better than I like coffee, anyways,” I admitted.

            “Good, let’s go,” he stood up.

            “I thought you were going to help me on my calc homework?” I stayed seated, my palms open-faced.

            “I am, I just want a change in scenery,” he confessed, “here, let me help with your stuff.”

 

            It had been three hours since we arrived at the small, hole-in-the-wall café, and we hadn’t touched my calculus homework. Sebastian captivated my attention almost instantaneously, his conversation was interesting and I felt comfortable being honest around him. We discussed a variety of topics, laughed at each other’s banter, picked apart movie plots and literary masterpieces. I found myself actually enjoying his company, which was a rare gem for me. And he was a real gentleman, not just for paying for my cup of tea, but by opening doors for me and being kind to those that engaged him in conversation. Time became irrelevant in his presence. It was intoxicating.

            He set down his second round of coffee, “So, what’s your story?” he asked, casually draping an arm on the back of the sofa.

            “What do you mean what’s my story?” I chuckled.

            “I don’t know much about you. I mean, I know now that your favorite movie is A Nightmare on Elm Street and that you lived in Nebraska until about two and a half years ago. Why did you move out to California?”

            I looked down at my hands, “I don’t really talk about that,” I replied honestly.

            “Oh, damn. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you upset,” he cooed.

            “Stop, really, it’s okay. I just don’t tell people stuff like that about me.”

            “Why not?” He reached for his coffee.

            “It’s heavy.”

            “What is?” he said before taking a hearty drink.

            “What I’ve been through.”

            He removed the cup from his mouth and turned his head to face me, “Sounds like you’ve been through a lot.”

            “Well, it hasn’t killed me, so I guess I’m handling it pretty well.”

            “That’s really attractive, by the way,” he mentioned, setting his cup down.

            “What? What is?”

            “Your optimism. You talk about life in a surprisingly optimistic manner. And if you have been through as much as it sounds like you have, I find that to be a really attractive quality of yours. You’re perseverant. It’s kind of sexy,” he admitted, lifting his eyebrows and tilting his head to the side a bit. I melted a little.

            “Thank you,” I murmured, looking right into his eyes to know that I really did appreciate a compliment like that. His green eyes held mine locked in place, and knots began to form in my stomach. I ripped my eyes away. “I should probably get home soon…” I trailed off. I stood and began to collect my things.

            “Oh, okay. Er… should I give you a ride back to your car?”

            “My what?” I hadn’t mentioned that I still don’t drive.

            “Your car? It’s back at the library right?” He raised himself off the sofa and I finally judged his height in comparison to mine. He was breathtakingly tall.

            “I don’t drive…” I admitted accidentally.

            “What? Did you walk to the library?”

            “I walk everywhere,” I confessed. I hiked up my book in my right arm and slung my leather bag over my shoulder. “I’m used to it.”

            “Well, then let me give you a ride home.”

            “Thank you, Sebastian, really. I appreciate it, but—“

            He laid a large gentle hand on the side of my face, beaconing my eyes to his, “I’m going to take you home. No questions.” He lifted my hefty calculus textbook out of my hand effortlessly. He ambled toward the door, thanked the barista, looked at me, and swung open the door. “You coming?”

 

            He pulled up to the curb, expertly turning the wheel of his Bronco with ease. The car rumbled slightly as he switched it into park and removed the keys from the ignition. I tried to gather my things quickly so I could avoid him walking me to the door. He swung open the car door and extended a hand to me to assure I stepped the ground safely. Though I know it was unintentional, one hand rested on the small of my back as he shut the door, sending my skin on edge at his warm touch. I gripped my book tighter and spun around to face him. Man, was he tall. I took a step up onto the sidewalk to shrink the distance. He looked at me, shot me a half smile and flickered his eyes between the stairs and me.

            “Thanks for everything today, despite the fact that you didn’t really help me on my calculus homework…” I trailed off. Before derailing completely, I refocused my attention back on his face to show I wasn’t going to make this easy on him. “Either way, thanks. I’ll see you around, Sebastian.” I rotated on my heels and set off for the stairs.

            “Mae,” he called. I stopped and faced him slowly, roughly a yard between us now. Despite the distance, his long gait trapped me in an easy few seconds. With his height, I grew nervous and climbed a few stairs to be roughly at his eye level. He chuckled, his beautiful smile stealing the oxygen from my lungs.

            He continued, “Look, I just want you to know that I really enjoyed talking to you today. In all the time that I’ve spent here, I have not met anyone like you,” his eyes were like magnets, holding my gaze, “and I don’t think I will again. Do you have a pen?”

            I had to register that he was actually asking me a question. I rummaged a few moments in my leather bag and victoriously pulled out a measly black ballpoint. I handed it to him.

            “This is my number,” he said, holding my hand while gracefully etching numbers on my skin. “If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll be honest and say that it’ll be my loss. So I hope I hear from you.”

            I looked up and noticed that his face was awfully close to mine; his eyes seemed to glow with excitement. I felt my breath catch, his eyes scanning my face for a response of some sort. He planted a soft kiss on my hand underneath his number and flipped my palm towards the sky to place the pen in it. It felt so slow as his warm fingers dragged away from my flesh, and my body ached as he drove off.

            I was sure that I stood there for at least a five-minute window of time after he had pulled away from the curb. My body sunk onto the stairs and my mind raced through the past three hours trying to make sense of it all. I debated internally whether I had just been on a date or not, whether what I saw in his face was genuine interest or if it was simply just raging testosterone. From the recollection of the entire afternoon, it was real. Sebastian was real.

 

            “Hey, kiddo,” my dad said, peeking his head into my room. I looked up at him with exasperation. “That bad, huh?” He readjusted himself to lean in the doorway.

            “I hate calculus. I don’t hate a lot of things, either,” I shove aside the rotten textbook and run my hands through my hair.

            “I think you’ve worked enough on it for tonight. You hungry? I made stir fry.”

            “Thanks, Dad. I’m not too hungry right now. But thanks, I really appreciate it.”

            “Anytime. I’ll put it in the fridge, just in case. You should get some sleep, you’ve been working on that same subject for almost seven hours now.”

            “Oh… Has it been that long?” I asked sheepishly, knowing that the majority of that time I had spent with Sebastian.

            My father chuckled, “Get some sleep, Mae. It’ll be good for you. Good night,” he smiled.

            “Night, Dad.” I reciprocated the grin and decided he was right. Settling into my warm bed, sleep came easy to me.

 

            After what felt like an eternity, I breached the surface with a large gasp. I couldn’t recall how long I had actually been submerged; my awareness picked up only the warm, murky lake water that I barely maintained to tread and the bright glow of the moon. The horizon was a blur: the midnight sky matched the dark water, the light of the night barely trimming out tall trees that lined the lake. After a moment or two of catching my breath, I set off swimming in any direction, as any shore seemed equally far from me. I still kept a strong alertness nestled at the front of my mind, when suddenly before me were a pair of yellow eyes, flickering as their attention zoned in on me. Panic set in fast; I immediately changed my course to the opposite direction. I didn’t get very far before realizing that this was a group effort. Several pairs of yellow eyes hovered over the surface of the water, eyeing me as fear began to swell in my throat. I kept swimming, pretending that they didn’t exist, only to feel the flick of a tail at my feet. Overwhelmed, I froze, barely keeping my head above water. I searched for a possible escape route: nothing. Completely surrounded by my fate, my fear had nearly paralyzed me. I watched as the pack of scaly reptiles circled me as their prey. Then it began slowly. I felt nicks at my feet and hands, instinctively I would kick and punch whatever came at me. Adrenaline kicked in as my forearm was engulfed in the mouth of one of my predators. I screamed and hollered from the sheer pain of my muscles turning into chewy bits and my bones snapping effortlessly until I was dragged under water. I writhed hopelessly as my body was devoured bite by bite, my blood warming the swampy lake. Hardly alive, I inhaled the surrounding water, tasting my own blood. As everything began to fade to black, I felt a multitude of tiny knives jar into my ribs and the crunch of my bones piercing my entire chest cavity shocked me back into reality.

 

            “Maeva! Maeva, please, it’s okay!” filled my ears like a tall glass of water. My eyes snapped open, my hands thrashing to the floor beside me, my lungs filling with sweet air. Bright light burned my eyes, but the sensation of light calmed my breathing. My father came into view, “Are you okay? Can you breathe? Can you see?” His worried face looked awfully aged before me.

            I mustered up a sentence, “I’m awake.”

            As dumb as I sounded, this came as to a relief to my father. He pulled me into him. He sat there with me, clutching me to his chest as I came to. After a few minutes, I began to feel his chest hitch repeatedly. I wrapped my arms around him, cooing and hushing as he cried with me in his arms on the floor of my room.

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