CHAPTER THIRTY NINE
A Dream-Like State
We are lulled to a half-sleep, a dream-like state in which we existed weightlessly. Naked limbs entangled together, our bodies acknowledging and accepting the magnetic pull we had always denied, finally allowing ourselves the pleasure of each other's much needed touch. The warm summer breeze kisses our damp skin as it enters through a window in the moonlit room.
We refuse to acknowledge the fact that it was well into the night, that I had never made it home.
We refuse to come back to reality. For there was no reality much grander, nor more perfect than the one we had created.
Enclosed in this space, in this time, in this place, I lived only for him and him for me.
For now, for the time that remained, our world consisted of only two things: The moonlit summer breeze, and the ecstasy that had clouded our drowsy brains.
As I lay my head upon his warm chest and listen to his heart beat, I could hear his breathing deepening. He was falling asleep.
I felt my own eyes close as I wrapped myself tighter to him, his hand pulling me closer to his side.
"Hmmm?" He mumbles drowsily, petting my head in a soothing motion.
"Who was your first kiss?"
He chuckles sleepily, "Her name was Cecile. She was a foreign exchange student."
"Was she pretty?"
"I don't remember. I was eleven, princess."
"That's really young. Was it a proper kiss then?" I tease.
"Proper snogged her at eleven, I did."
"Shut up, no you didn't."
I knew he was smirking, I didn't even have to look at him.
"When was yours?" He asks, continuing to stroke my hair.
"Last year?" He asks in utter surprise. "Eighteen then?"
"I...I don't remember." I say sheepishly.
"You're lying." He doesn't say it in an accusatory tone, he simply states it as a fact, implying that I didn't want to tell him.
"I'm not actually. It was my first uni party, I think he was the lad that owned the flat, but I never really figured it out. I was bloody pissed."
"Reasons why you don't drink til you drop at uni parties." He says kissing my forehead.
"You aren't bothered?"
"Why would I be bothered? What matters is being a girl's last kiss, anyone could be her first."
I shake my head slightly, snuggling into his warm, bare chest, "Still full of cliches are we?"
"Mmmhmm." He replies turning on his side and embracing me to him. Bare skin to bare skin.
I relish the contact, try to memorize what it felt like, his touch, his smell. I would store this away for when I was at home, alone in my bed, wishing he were there with me.
"I can't believe this is happening." I whisper into his torso.
"Life is crazy." He replies.
"But so utterly perfect."
I could hear the smile in his voice as he says, "Go to sleep, princess."
I close my eyes, wrapped in his embrace I could be lulled to sleep easily. My heart no longer raced in his presence, it was calm. It felt so right.
"What happens when the sun comes out?"
"We do it all over again." He mutters into my neck.
"Every. Last. Thing." He says in between fluttering kisses that he placed upon my collarbones.
"Goodnight." I finally say, knowing that he was fighting off sleep at this point.
He starts to snore lightly almost immediately, and just as I feel myself in that limbo between dreams and reality, a sound goes off that makes me stir.
It was unrecognizable at first, almost as if it was miles away. No where near the world we were inhabiting at the moment.
But suddenly it grew louder, more frequent.
"What was that?" Niall says as he shoots up in bed at the sound.
"Was that the doorbell?" I ask sleepily.
"Might be the neighbor, cat always wanders over here. I swear if it's her asking for that bloody cat one more time." He mutters, untangling himself from me and making his way across the room to switch on the light. He yawns loudly, "Bloody cats. Always wandering off. This is why we're going to have a dog. They're not as fucking annoying."
I have a brief brush with panic, but talk myself out of it. Rationalizing that it was well into the night, that if anyone were to come here, it would be the woman looking for her cat once more as Niall pointed out. It couldn't possibly be...no.
I assure myself once, twice, three times that the feeling that was growing in the pit of my stomach, gnawing and replacing the happiness with anxiety, was foolish.
"Don't go." I mutter, wrapping myself in the light comforter and sitting up in his bed.
He walks around the room picking up his pants and putting them on, "I'll be right back, princess."
"Okay." I mutter, watching as he turned off the light and looked back at me.
"Keep my side warm, I'll be back as soon as I catch that bloody cat."
I could hear him going down the steps, one, two, three, four, five. I couldn't hear him walking through the kitchen because he was barefoot. But I kept imagining him going out into the garden, chasing after a fat orange tabby, fighting the cat for dominance as he grabbed it firmly and brought it back to its respective owner. Not without a scratch or two on him though. He would come back, complaining how "The fucking cat is that fat, yet it's still able to escape the house? Really? Bloody thing couldn't even escape me, but it can escape a sixty five year old woman?" And then I would kiss the scratches on his arms, even the one he got on his face. And he'd look at me, the moonlight shining in his crystal blue eyes, and tell me "This is why we're getting a fucking dog." And we'd laugh and collapse back into the bed, he would shed his clothes and once more his body would press against mine, bare skin to bare skin, as we talked about which kind of dog we should have. As we laughed and filled the room with love and sarcastic comments. As we made love once more, well into the night.
But this isn't what happens.
"Where the fuck is she!?"
Reality hit me hard, so fucking hard so fucking fast.
"Where is who?"
"Don't play stupid! I know she's here! Where is my daughter!?"
And I struggled to accept that our reality had been trespassed upon, broken so harshly so suddenly.
"She isn't here!"
"Where the fuck else would she be, Niall? You're going to tell me if I go upstairs right now, I'm not going to find Emma?"
"No, you're not."
"Then you won't mind if I check."
"Yes I fucking mind! It's fucking one in the morning, and as far as I'm concerned we're not on the best of fucking terms mate. What gives you the right to come into my house and search for her? Do you have a fucking warrant?"
But I realize that I am done. So done with trying to fix everything. I am ready to face what is coming. More ready than I ever thought I could possibly be.
"If she's not here, then you won't mind me having a look then?"
This is where I draw my alliances, where I decide on what comes first.
"I told you to get the fuck out."
"Not without my daughter."
And perhaps, this will be the end to it all.