Show Me Your Soul

What happens if life throws you off track? What if someone asks you to trust him, even though you know nothing about him? Would you trust him?
Cecily Martesse is a normal student in her second year at college. Just when the next normal semester starts, she meets Ace - a handsome boy that throws her life upside down. Compelled by his words, his voice, his behavior, she finds herself getting dragged into a world full of secrets, unfaithfulness and deceit.
Just when she hears some devastating news about her brother, she has to face things she never knew she could endure.
A story about love, trust and friendship. Rated Mature for adult language and hot love scenes.

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6. Scars

 

CECILY

 

When I woke up, Mom was sitting beside me. “Chérie, you’re awake” Her French was reassuring and already giving me the feeling of being home.

Coughing a bit, I managed to form a sentence. “Salut, Maman.”

“Oh là là, you sound awful. Here, drink some water.” I straightened up as she placed the glass in my hand. “And I’m very mad at you! I told you yesterday we should see the doctor or at least you should have stayed at home today and talk to Professor Philipps. Next time you shouldn’t be so stubborn!”

I felt guilty. She was right. She came straight from work at school to me, Dad couldn’t make it, he was stuck in a meeting.

After having finished her lecture and giving me a bad consciousness, she caressed gently my hair. “But I’m glad that you’re okay. That boy was here the whole time until I came–”

“What?” Ace stayed after I fell asleep? Our whole conversation was like a blur, I remembered only fragments of what we talked about or what he’d done…for example taking my clothes off and my shoes. Oh my God, I can never look him in the eye again.

“Yes, that friend of yours. Anna told me when she came shortly after I arrived. He even brought your jacket and bag and told me that he found you on the ground and brought you here to the hospital. That was really nice of him. We should invite him someday to dinner or you should buy him a thank-you present.”

My mind was spinning. Inviting him to our house? Presents?

“Whoa, whoa, Maman, calm down. He didn’t cure me from cancer, he just brought me to the hospital. Anyone would have done the same thing; it was just coincidence that he saw me on the street.”

“Okay, don’t fret about that, it was just an idea. Just focus on getting better now.”

 

After that, the doctors came in and checked my temperature and vital parameter. Thank God, everything was more or less normal. My fever went down to 39°C and they gave me some antibiotics and other pills.

I put on my socks, shoes and jacket, feeling the fabric of Ace’s sweater awkwardly around my body. The thought of putting something that belongs to him on my bare skin made me shiver. Thankfully, Mom didn’t ask any questions where that sweater did come from.

 

Arriving at the front porch of our house, Mom waited a second before putting the key in the keyhole. “Chérie, I have a surprise for you.” She beamed with delight as she opened the door.

“Cecily!”, a familiar voice called me.

Walking to our kitchen, I saw Noah coming through the door and hugging me tightly. I don’t know when exactly I started to cry, but my face was wet the moment he started talking.

“What? How is this-? Eh?” I was totally perplexed.

He smiled and told me that the lawyer’s request had been accepted and that he was released this morning. The charge still wasn’t completely dropped, but the lawyer said that the office of the district attorney would have now difficulties trying to find anything incriminating.

He was free, at least.

He was free. He was free.

I don’t care about the case for now, I was just too happy to feel his warmth, to hear his voice longer than an hour per week, to see those happy tears in his eyes just made me cry even more out of joy.

Stefan and Sandra came by but unfortunately, I couldn’t talk to them a lot since the doctor told me to stay in bed the whole day.

We relaxed.  

We all relaxed and that tense atmosphere at home finally vanished. For now, at least.

 

~ § ~

 

I stayed at home the whole week and recovered completely. My voice was still funny, but my coughs dry and lungs feeling normal.

Ruby, Cassy and Anna filled me in with everything that I missed the last days.

I apologized deeply to Ruby for letting her down like this and putting her grade in danger.

“Don’t be stupid, Cecy. It’s not your fault. But promise me that you’ll never push yourself so hard!”

“I promise”, I said honestly.

Karen wasn’t delighted at all that Ace couldn’t conduct the presentation with them, she just kept snorting the whole day which made me somehow grin.

I guess there won’t be any make-out sessions with Ace anymore.

But then, who cares, even?! Ugh, she can make out with him as much as she wants; it doesn’t affect me the bit.

Professor Philipps finished her lecture on Thursday yet the moment I walked past her, she cleared her throat, “Oh, Miss Martesse, Mr. Aurenglade. Could you two come please?” I knew I should have sit somewhere in the back where I could steal away without getting noticed.

As we headed to the desk, she basically told us that we were the last ones that didn’t conduct a presentation. So, we were put together and had a new subject: The retrospective study of orthodontic space closure versus implant.

“It’s a very delicate issue and the doctor that published the paper is a very renowned one that lives here in Los Angeles. Therefore, I expect good teamwork and a good performance from you two.” Softening her features, she added, “I’m sorry if you have any plans this this Valentine’s Day, but you need this weekend to prepare the presentation.”

And how the hell am I going to accomplish that with Ace?! Oh my gosh, Valentine’s Day? I had totally forgotten about that! Not that I had planned anything but I just wanted to read a book or watch a movie.

Looking at me through her reading glasses with her severe gray eyes, she somehow reminded me of Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. I swallowed.

“Miss Martesse, I hope that in the future, you won’t be so reckless and stay at home when you’re not feeling well. If you believe it or not, we professors are human beings with compassion. Next time, maybe you won’t be that lucky to find someone like Mr. Aurenglade here to look after you.”

I bit back the urge to roll my eyes and make a comment about how exaggerating it is that Ace was “my hero”.

Instead, I said, “I’m sorry Professor Philipps. It won’t happen again.”

Her face softened a little. “Well, at least you have recovered and are back on your feet, Miss Martesse.”
And with that she turned to her notes on her desk which was our signal to leave.

Heading to the door, I quickly made my way to the hallway. I need to process the fact that I must work together with Ace on our next presentation.

And how the hell am I supposed to do that when I can’t even look him in the eye because the thought of him having seen me half-naked already makes me feel more than just embarrassed.

On the other hand, I just have to tell myself that it is as if he had seen me in a bikini. Why do I make a fuss about that? He just saw me in my bikini, that’s all. More than my belly and arms and my covered breasts, he didn’t see anyways. But there was something in those piercing eyes. It was as if he was X-raying me, his eyes stripping me and making me feel completely naked.

Shivering at that thought, I didn’t realize I was slowing down my pace so that Ace caught up, his fingers lightly squeezing my ear. I nearly jumped up the ceiling. “Don’t–! I’m ticklish.”

“On your ear?” He sounded amused.

“Yes, everywhere, except–” Oh no, I’m not going to tell him that.

He smirked and looked curious. “Yes?”

“Nothing.” I blushed and looked away. “What do you want?”

“Talk to you about that presentation”, he rolled his eyes. “After all the work with Karen… and now I have to do it again.”

I felt guilty, is he trying to make me a bad conscious?

I frowned. “Yeah, you’re right. You should’ve just let me there lying on the ground until I had woken up or someone else would have found me.”

Biting his lower lip, he put his lips close to my ear, his breath tickling me more than anything, “And give someone else the chance to see you in your underwear? No way. I would conduct ten presentations for that sight.”

I was frozen, feeling the goose bumps spreading all over my body. How can he–?! “You’re a pig! And that’s not funny. If this is going to work, you need to be more professional.”

“That’s hard imagining you in your black bra”, he continued.

“Stop it! I mean it.” Feeling my face burning from my ears to my cheeks, I half-shouted, “It’s already too embarrassing looking you into your eyes!”

I wanted to scream, at the same time hit something. This was a hundred times worse than back then when I fainted in anatomy!

“You don’t have to feel embarrassed”, he said, putting his hand on my head, his smile warm and not at all like his typical twisted one or his sardonic one. It was so un-Ace-like. So gentle and soft.

“I won’t mention it again, I promise. It’s just too tempting teasing you.” Exhaling deeply, he added, “So, back to our presentation: We basically have this weekend and that’s it. My place or yours?”

Eh? I blinked several times, not understanding anything after “this weekend”.

“What?”

“My place or yours?”, he repeated. “To prepare that. Or rather study that, ‘cause I have no idea about that study of that L.A. dude.”

“Your place…mine…”, I mumbled. I had no idea what he was talking after that. “Can’t we just prepare those things here at the university?”, I babbled. Where there are people and witnesses and no bedrooms. Cecily Martesse, what was that thought about?!

He considered that for a second, but then shook his head. “Unfortunately no. I have to work tomorrow after school and on Saturday. So, there’s just Sunday to discuss everything. And on Sundays the libraries and basically the whole university is closed.”

He was right. Dammit.

“And you can’t cancel your work for two days?”, I said almost pleading.

“I’m afraid no. Imagine or not, there are people who need to work to pay for their studies and rents, Princess.”

Oh.

His eyes snapped as he looked at me, his voice bored and unaffected. “Don’t tell me you have any plans for Valentine’s Day.”

“W-What? No, I don’t. Sunday’s Valentine’s Day?”

“Yup, I think so, at least.” Counting in his head, he nodded. “Yes, Sunday’s Valentine’s Day. Oh, don’t be sad. What is better than spending Valentine’s Day with me? You can consider yourself as lucky, Cec.”

“You are unbelievable.”

“I know. I hear that a lot.”

How am I supposed to endure all his comments the whole Sunday?

Rubbing my temples, I contemplated about what he just said.

He cannot, under no circumstances, come to our place. There would be too many questions and too little answers.

Besides, Noah was driving Mom and Dad insane at home with his stubbornness and urge to go to New York. So guests were the last thing they needed right now. Especially male guests.

I sighed. “Your place. At 10 a.m. I want that thing done as soon as possible.” And then go home as soon as possible. “And don’t get too comfy those days. You need to do the preliminary work before we meet. Otherwise it’s going to take longer.”

“Don’t worry, you baby.” He grinned wickedly. “I know what I’m doing.”

 

Friday and Saturday went by in a blink of an eye. I did most of the work on Saturday asking Ruby at least twenty questions about since she was the expert in orthodontics. She explained everything patiently and very good and at the end of our talk, I felt like I could now discuss about that topic without making a fool out of myself.

On Sunday, I woke up at six in the morning and jogged along the beach, as usual. After taking a shower, I looked into my closet and tried at least four outfits before I shook my head and realized that it’s just Ace I’m going to and not a freaking date! I decided to put on a pair of blue jeans and a cute khaki green blouse that suits my light brown hair color and stuffed it in my jeans while examining myself in the mirror if my butt isn’t too noticeable. No, I think it’s “normal”.

“Where are you going?”, Marlene asked curiously through my door. I smiled at her. Her hair was tousled, she probably just woke up and her glasses laid askew on her nose.

“Look at you, you little monkey”, I teased her. I adjusted her glasses, petting her head. Man, soon she will be taller than me. Clearly, she has Dad’s genes. She even resembles him more than Mom; her eyes were round and hazel just like his.

“I’m going to meet a friend to prepare a presentation for tomorrow.”

A friend. That word alone is giving me nausea. Ace and I are everything but friends. But he was nice to me and showed me a gentle side. If he could stay like that, maybe we could be really friends. Suppositional, he can maintain his gentleness and puts aside his rude behavior. 

She nodded curiously. She’s so cute. Noah and Stefan had never included her in their activities because she’s “just a girl” and much younger than they and I’m mostly busy with my studies, therefore she has always stuck her nose in books or watched documentaries. Thus, she’s very bright and intelligent for her age. But sometimes, I fear she’s lonely and with everything she went through so young, she dealt with it extraordinarily well.

“Hey, Marlene, if you want we can go see a movie next week. I’ll be free from studies and have my deserved vacations.”

“Yes! Can we go to Finding Dory?”

“Yeah, sure. You choose. It’s a present”, I said, caressing her hair. Taking a step back, looked at myself in the mirror. My hair hung wavily over my back, the tips ending a bit under my bra latch. It was still dampish, but with the jacket and bonnet, it’ll be fine.

Nonetheless, I needed to do something with my hair. I lifted half of it up and tied it.

You look pretty with your hair half up.

The thought of it straightened the hair on my neck. No way I’m going to be intimidated any further by him! I like that hairdo, in fact it was my favorite – even before Ace had made that comment.

“You look pretty.”

“Thank you. I’ll be back in the evening”, I said, hugging her.

Arriving at our kitchen, Mom waited for me with a big cake and some sweets.

Oh Lord…

“Maman, you are exaggerating!”

“Chérie, that’s the least we can do. You know it’s rude to go there empty-handed.”

I rolled my eyes. Stuffing the things in Mom’s car, I typed the address in the GPS and started driving.

 

I arrived at his place after half an hour. The apartment was at the corner of a big crossroad, so I parked at the next possible opportunity. Looking at my watch, I realized I was half an hour too early! Ha, for the first time, I’m not extreme late or running to get to a lecture. Maybe…NO! That has nothing to do with the fact that I’m seeing him.

The main entrance of the apartment was already open and a cute old couple passed by me. Surely, they wanted to enjoy their Valentine’s Day and go for a walk. The weather was relatively mild for February.

And what am I doing? I have to endure a guy that pisses me off instead of laying in my cozy bed.

He told me that it’s on the third floor, so I took the stairs, each step harder to take.

Ringing once, he didn’t seem to hear me. Or maybe ignores me. I rang a second time. Nothing. Hm, is he even there? Oh man, if he bailed on me–

The door flung open, revealing his shape leaning against the frame: tall, sleepy, hair tousled and most of all, only in extremely low-waisted jeans.

“God, Cec. I know you miss me, but it’s way too early. Why can’t you be late as usual?” He rubbed his eyes while yawning impolitely.

My brain must have stopped working, because I felt myself becoming a drooling monkey. Okay, I did not drool, but my eyes were wide-open and I couldn’t come up with a grammatically correct or reasonable sentence for a couple seconds. “Uh… I… I”, I cleared my throat. “W-Well, obviously, you would have still slept even if I had come half an hour later. C-Can I come in, or do you need a couple minutes?”

He looked over his shoulder and opened the door further. I went inside and was very shocked to see how un-Ace-like his apartment was:

It was one big room with a little kitchen and a table on the left, and a modern king size bed with white sheets on the right. Does he need that much space to sleep? The whole wall in front of the entrance was glazed, so the light floated into the room as if we were outside. The whole room smelled like him: his soap, oranges that were on the kitchen table and something else I couldn’t quite identify. He also had a desk at the end of the room, but it was a chaos of wires, some hardware and other electronic things. It seemed as if he had disassembled his computer.

But altogether, his apartment made a neat impression. Too neat.

It was as if this apartment could belong to anyone. Nothing was here that was typical Ace, well except his scent. But there were no pictures, posters or souvenirs from a vacation. The total opposite of my room, with many pictures of every trip we went or my first day in school, my art and paintings all on the wall.

“Um, I…”, I turned around not quite knowing what I wanted to say, because he was standing next to me still topless. Then I remembered. “And just for the record, I didn’t miss you. I’m only here this early because I want to finish early and go home as soon as possible.” I swallowed. My throat seemed dry. “And could you please put a shirt on. This–” I pointed with my finger at his six pack and circled it in the air. “is distracting”, I admitted.

He leered at me and came closer. “Maybe the problem is that you get too easily distracted?”

I rolled my eyes but he thankfully turned around and grabbed his shirt from his bed. As he stuck his arms through his sleeves, I saw something on his muscular back. Three long scars. One on his shoulder blade, the other was in the middle approximately four inches long and one finger wide, laying diagonal between his spine. And the last was smaller on his waist at the beginning of his jeans. I don’t know how I got there but the next second I was touching the middle one, tracing it with the tip of my finger.

He turned around in a hell of a speed and grabbed my hand squeezing my fingers a bit. His grip was firm but not painful.

“What are you doing?” He sounded alarmed.

“I- Sorry, I didn’t mean to…I just saw your scars. H-How did that happen-?”

“An accident.”, he said and his voice signalized that this topic was over. He let go of my finger as if my skin had burned him.

I nodded, while looking away. Why do I have to stick my nose in everything?

“Here, I brought you your sweater”, I said, remembering that I was still holding it in my hands. “It’s washed, don’t worry.”

“What’s in the bag?”

“Oh, a piece of cake my mother baked and some sweets. She’s still beaming with delight that someone found me and brought me to the hospital that day.”

I put the cake on the table, together with the sweets.

“Yeah, in contrast to you, your Mom knows how to be grateful.” I turned around and opened my mouth, but he was faster. “Kidding”, he said still grinning. “But tell her thanks, that really wasn’t necessary.”

“That’s exactly what I already told her…”, I mumbled.

“What are you saying?”

“Nothing. Let’s get to work.”

And we started working. We sat on his kitchen table, because he only had his desk, but it was a mess and there was his bed, and THAT is not an option. Ever.

After gathering together all the information we had and putting an order, it was already 1 p.m.

We progressed very well considering that we had little time.

“Okay, I’m starving. I need to eat something”, Ace said. To be honest, I was hungry, too, but I wanted to finish everything first–

My stomach made a howl that was louder than a wolf’s. Holy moly!

His luminous eyes were wide spread. “Oh, the kitten’s hungry, too. I don’t have something here, you want pizza?”

“You sure, you don’t have anything? I can cook something fast.”

I opened his fridge and he wasn’t exaggerating. There was literally nothing but a coke, some oranges (Man, how many oranges does he eat a day?), a carrot that surely was older than me and some cheese. I took out the carrot and tossed it away. “Okay, you weren’t lying. You literally have nothing here! What do you eat all day?”

“I order something in general”, he said causally.

“Very healthy. How can you even stay–” Crap.

He arched an eyebrow. “So damn sexy, you wanted to say? I do a lot of sports, like running and swimming. And I have a fast metabolism. Sex helps, too.”

I nearly choked on my own spittle. WHAT THE-? I surely must have looked like I’ve seen a ghost because he laughed hard at my face expression. “Just kidding. Well, about the part that that is the reason I’m in shape.”

He grabbed his phone and dialed. “Pizza, right?”, he asked.

I think I nodded, unable to trust my voice.

When he hung up, he turned his gaze to me and pierced me with his pale blue eyes.

Before he could say something stupid or more intimidating – if that’s even possible – I asked carefully, “Did you also swim in Chicago?”, not wanting to cause another fight like that one in the elevator.

“Yes.” He put his long index finger on his lips and was absorbed in thoughts.

“Do you miss it being there?”

I was really weary of life. He could jump at me anytime if I ask too many questions about Chicago, but my curiosity is killing me.

“No. And I’m not interested in going back there ever again.” His determined voice made me feel more uncomfortable. Whoa, clearly something must have happened there. But if I push it too far, he might get mad. Better not risk it.

I looked around his room noticing the imageless walls. “Why don’t you have any pictures of you or your friends here? Or any pictures at all?”

“They aren’t necessary”, he said dryly, shrugging his shoulders. Leaning forward, he narrowed his eyes. “You ask a lot of questions considering that you don’t tell anything about yourself.”

“What? I tell a lot about my personal life! Ask Cassy, Ruby or the boys. In fact, I’m a chatter box”, I babbled. And that was the truth. I always tell Ruby stories about how my brothers had annoyed me, or about my aunt’s health. I even gossip with them about my sister-in-law sometimes.

“That’s not what I mean. Why did you cry that day on the bench? Why weren’t you eating or sleeping after that? Why did you push yourself although you knew that you were too sick to conduct the presentation? Those are questions you don’t want to answer I get that. But don’t be surprised when others don’t open up, either.”

I considered my answer a couple of seconds. “You’re right. I don’t like to open up to everyone. But I have a person. And my family. Maybe I’m not completely honest with Ruby and Cassy, but I have known them only for two years. Alex’s been like a sister to me since kindergarten. She’s my person.” I paused, trying to gather my thoughts together and ignoring his penetrative look as if he was X-raying me. “I think you have no one here. You didn’t visit your family once and never talks about them. Josh and Eric are great but I don’t think you’re so close to them as that you could talk with them about everything. Maybe I’m also too curious and that’s why I ask you all those questions. But let me tell you one thing: You need a person – whoever this is. And if you want to talk about anything, I’ll listen. That’s my way to say ‘thank you for being so caring’.” He was quiet the whole time. As I finished my speech, I looked up. He was still piercing me with his glance but his expression totally poker-faced.

Scratching his head, he finally opened his mouth. “Man, I think I need a shrink. You are driving me crazy.”

The bell rang. Pizza! His reply wasn’t what I had expected but that didn’t matter the moment I smelled the pizza through the door. Getting up, he grabbed his wallet, smiling warmly at me. “But thank you, Cec. I appreciate your concern.” Wow, that was unexpected but I just nodded.

It felt kind of weird to let him pay for it – after all it wasn’t a date. Grabbing my purse, he just frowned at me as he opened the door. “Put that thing away, Cec”, he said bossily and as if I was out of my mind. I already had some discussions with Aro when we used to grab a bite after college sometimes, so I didn’t argue.

We put the presentation stuff away and began eating. It was delicious. My stomach howled another time, but that was the last time.

As we finished with our presentation, we got even the time to make a tryout. I began and he was sitting on his bed interrupting me a couple of times, but also giving me some good advices.

When it was his turn, I sat reluctantly on his bed. The sheets felt soft and fresh under my hands, but I focused on him. He was so confident. Sometimes he looked at the notes, but most of it he did fluently. Yet when he made mistakes, I was the one to correct him.

The sun was already set, the street lights flickering though his big windows when we finished. I started yawning. I was tired. We accomplished a lot and now it was time for me to go home.

“I’ll bring you to your car.”

“That’s not necessary. I just parked here.”

He looked bored and impatient. “I don’t care. If something happens to you, I’m the one responsible.”

I frowned. “I’m not a baby. I can take care of myself perfectly fine.”

“I thought I showed you what could happen after the party last month?”, he said humorless.

I swallowed. No need to remind of that scene! I didn’t answer to that, so we silently walked downstairs. 

Arriving at my car, he put his hand on my front door. “Tomorrow, we’ll rock that thing. Philipps won’t have anything to nag on. We’re well prepared.”

I nodded. That’s true. We were actually a good team today. But I’d rather bite my tongue off than admit that.

He tilted his head. “Text me when you get home. And drive safe, you clumsy, heavy-handed, chaotic–”

“Are you done insulting me? Unbelievable. That’s not even true!”

“Do I have to remind you when we first met. You were totally distracted.”

Un-freaking-believable.

“Excuse me? And do I have to remind you whose fault it was? You were totally spaced out and didn’t see me.”

“Whatever, you baby. See ya tomorrow. Oh, and by the way”, his catlike eyes seemed to glow in the dark. “Green really suits you. It brings out the color in your eyes.”

And with that he left me. I got into my car, closing the door and recapping what he just said. He is utterly confusing me. In every way.

At home I put my pajamas on, chatted a little bit with my parents and Marlene while they told me that Noah got on a plane to New York after arguing with Mom and Dad. I so had no nerves for that right now.

As I was ready to close my eyes and plunge into a heavenly sleep, I remembered having forgotten to text Ace. I grabbed my phone, typing quickly:

“Hey there, arrived safely at home, sorry I forgot to text you earlier.” I put a smiley at the end, but I don’t think he was that worried.

After a couple seconds, my phone buzzed. He answered:

“Glad to hear. Good night.”

I wished him good night, too and turned off the light on my night stand, examining my room in the dim light of the moon and stars. It was really the exact opposite of Ace’s. So many pictures of me in the ocean, in Paris, Greece, Spain, Hawaii with the sea shell I collected beside the pictures; New York, Disneyland, a picture of my face after my first tooth fell off; Cassy, Ruby and me in our first week at the university, Alex and me as little children in elementary school and at the graduating ceremony in high school. And also my art: still life art that was the first things I drew, then Marlene’s tiny little baby hands. After that, I drew acryl paintings of the beach, our garden, the sky full of stars and lately I drew Zazzy when she was lying lazily on the couch which happens luckily often.

As I looked around, my eyelids became heavier and heavier until I fell asleep. Maybe Ace would hang something on the wall if it was self-made…

 

The next day, our presentation really rocked. Philipps had almost nothing to object.

“You were great!”, Cassy said at the end of our presentation. “It was so cute, that when you didn’t know an answer he spoke up and vice versa! You two are a really good team!” Oh boy, she was back in her dreamy mode.

I let her talk until she got tired and asked about details of his apartment and how it was. I gave her and Ruby a brief summary about what happened. I just left some parts out, like the scars, or the fact that I saw him half-naked – again.

 

 

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