Chapter Twenty- Four
The wispy pink fabric brushed against her legs as she made her way toward me. I enjoyed the view of her entrance rather than going to her. Strappy silver heels encased her small dainty feet. The hem of the dress brushed her skin right above her knees. The waistline was high and the chiffon was belted with a wide satin sash. Directly over her heart the familiar filigree heart twinkled as the lighting hit each small pink stone. There were no straps and the soft skin of her shoulders were visible as was her elegant neckline. Normally, I enjoyed her hair down but there was something to be said for having all that mass of brown silk piled up high on her head leaving her neck and shoulders bare.
When she was only steps away I moved toward her and held out my hand. She slipped her hand into mine and the connection of our palms sent warmth flooding through me. The light charcoal that outlined her eyes caused the green to stand out more. I was taken away by the depth of her beauty as she gazed up at me. After taking in every perfect part of her appearance as she entered the room it would almost seem impossible for her soul to exceed her outward beauty. But as I soaked in the beautiful soul I saw so clearly through the window of her eyes I knew it did.
“Dank, we got to get on stage bro. If she’s here then let’s go,” Loose, my drummer, interrupted me. Scowling, I swung my gaze around to meet his. The long blond dread locks the girls were so crazy about were pulled back in a ponytail tonight. I was tempted to reach over and jerk one out of his head.
Pagan had just arrived. Her mother had dropped her off for me. She’d been spending extra time with Miranda and her mother since her return. Both seemed to need reassurance that she was in fact alive. When she’d “washed up” on the shore a few miles away after her accident her memory had been temporarily gone. Well, that was our story. Leif was believed to have drowned. Although the memory of him would fade away soon enough. Many people were already forgetting him.
“I’m just saying it’s time,” Loose whined.
Pagan giggled beside me, “It’s okay. Go on and rock the house.”
I slipped my hand through hers and pulled her with me,”Not without you up there so I can see you.” This was her prom too but I didn’t like the idea of other guys dancing with my girl. She looked entirely too gorgeous tonight.
“No complaints from me,” she chirped and followed me backstage.
We stopped to the left of the stage and I kissed her softly on the lips. I’d only meant to drop a quick peck but her arms wrapped around my neck and she nibbled against my bottom lip and I decided the crowd could wait.
Pulling her against me I enjoyed the sweet taste that was only Pagan. Her soft lips molded under mine and I fought to stay focused waiting on the moment her soul would release. A soft moan escaped her throat and my blood began to heat under each small lick and teasing touch from her tongue. Concentrating was becoming more difficult.
Pressing her soft chest against mine caused a shiver to run through me and a low growl began in my chest. Why wasn’t her soul releasing yet? I couldn’t keep this up or I’d completely lose all train of thought. Warm fingers grazed my abs as she worked a hand underneath my shirt.
Panting, I pulled back and stared down at her heavy eyelids and swollen lips. “Your soul, it isn’t releasing,” I managed to croak out.
Sliding her hand up higher on my chest she grinned wickedly up at me, “I noticed that too. Why did you stop?”
Had Leif’s claim on her soul been affected it? Shaking my head I decided at the moment I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to turn down this unexpected gift. I reached down and picked her up then began taking long strides toward the back room where we’d left all the storage containers for our equipment.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m going to enjoy a long overdue make-out session with my girl. That’s what I’m doing,” I explained, stepping into the room and closing the door behind me with one shove of my foot.
“Oh,” she gasped before I pressed her up against the wall, wrapping her legs around my waist and feasting on her mouth for the first time ever with nothing crowding my thoughts but how incredibly lucky I was.
Dank’s band sung four of their more popular songs and the Breeze High School graduating class of 2012 was loving every minute of it. We only had two more months until we walked across that stage and received our diplomas.
“Hey gorgeous, you’re all kinds of distracting,” Dank drawled in the dark smooth voice I loved so much. Loose was telling the crowd they’d be back after a ten minute break. I wrapped my arms around his waist and rested my head on his chest.
“You guys sounded awesome out there,” I told him then tilted my head back to stare at his ridiculously perfect face.
“Les is a little off tonight but I think it’s all the girls screaming out our names and the fact they’re so close. Normally there is more distance between us and them and seeing who the screams belong to is hard if not impossible.”
“Hmmm, so you’re telling me Les is checking out the chicks?”
Dank chuckled, “That is one way to put it.”
“I could probably make a few introductions for him if he is really interested”
Dank shook his head, “No, please don’t. I want to keep these guys in a small section of my life. Not around me all the time. The last thing I need is for one of them to start dating a girl in Breeze.”
I liked that this part of his life was off to the side in its own little box section. I already shared him with... the dead. I didn’t want to share him with anyone else.
“You want to dance... or maybe go back to that storage room again?” he asked reaching behind his back to take both my hands in his.
“Yes to the dancing and yes to the storage room. In that order please,” I replied feeling my skin heat up at the memory of having Dank’s hands on me again.
We didn’t walk down to the crowded dance floor. Dank pulled me up against him and began to sing in my ear as he twirled me around in our own little private spot, tucked away backstage. This was by far the best prom any girl had ever gone to.
* * *
“Haven’t we been to every store in this mall already?” I moaned as my feet began to rebel.
Miranda glanced back at me and frowned, “We need the perfect dress and shoes to wear under our graduation gowns. We have to take them off and head to the party my dad is hosting for us directly after the ceremony. I’d think with your hot rocker boyfriend singing up on stage and all the girls fawning over him you’d want to make sure you looked hot.”
Dank had not only had Cold Soul sing at our Prom he was now agreeing to bring them to our graduation party. Of course I was more than positive Miranda’s father was paying them well. Dank had to pay the boys something. It was how they supported themselves.
I sank down on the nearest bench and took a big whiff of the cream cheese pretzels in the bakery directly across from me. It was the most heavenly smell on the face of the earth. Or at least right at this moment.
“Okay, if you go get me one of those yummy pretzels with the sweet cream cheese filling I’ll continue to torture my feet in the search for perfection.”
Miranda rolled her eyes, “Fine. But you have to share. They smell incredible and I don’t need to eat a whole one by myself. Last thing I need is a belly while trying on dresses.”
Miranda had never even come close to having a belly. It was my turn to roll my eyes. The girl was a nut.
I shoved a ten dollar bill at her and leaned back in the seat, “Please just go buy one. Heck, buy two. I’ll eat one and a half.”
“No, you won’t. Remember you have the hot sexy boyfriend you need to look incredible for. One and a half of those one thousand calorie pretzels is not a move in the right direction.”
“It’s mostly pretzel Miranda. Those are fat free,” I reminded her.
She opened her mouth to argue then snapped it closed before spinning around and marching off to the bakery.
She was back to her old self. It had taken awhile but she was definitely back. Some days she wanted to talk about Wyatt. Other days she couldn’t bear to bring up his name. I just felt her out and went with her mood. Watching her stand with her hip cocked to one side and her hand placed on it as she waited impatiently made me smile. Her spunk was back.
An attractive guy turned around and noticed her. He spoke to her and looked to be offering to let her go first. But she didn’t budge and her posture remained stiff. The guy looked a little let down that she’d blown him off and turned back around.
She wasn’t completely back to normal and maybe she never would be. The old Miranda would have flirted her way to the front of the line. This one could hardly stand the sight of the opposite sex.
“Is this seat taken?” a warm sexy drawl asked and I lifted my gaze and smiled up at Dank.
“Yes. I’m saving it for my smoking hot boyfriend,” I replied teasingly.
Dank slid in beside me and put his arm around my shoulder. “Hmmm, well he should have got here sooner. You snooze, you lose.”
Giggling, I snuggled up to his side. “Save me from Miranda. She’s trying to kill me via shopping.”
“Impossible. I happen to know Death has a thing for you and you can’t be killed off that easily.”
I pinched his washboard abs through his t-shirt. It felt so good to be close to him and not have to worry about anything but normal teenage stuff like a best friend who has got part of her groove back and is now wearing me out.
“You ever find out anything about Wyatt?” I asked quietly peering up at him.
He nodded, “Yeah. Um, let’s just say his death was an abnormal... er unique event. So his return is just as unique.”
“What?” I asked sitting up so I could read his facial expression better.
Dank reached over and tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Just wait. You’ll understand soon enough.”
“Ahem, excuse me lovebirds but this is a shopping emergency day and I have our fuel. Now Dank, you need to run along and go be all smoldering and sexy somewhere else. I need all Pagan’s attention today,” Miranda had taken on a slightly bossy tone.
Dank kissed my mouth softly then cupped my face and whispered, “I love you,” in my ear before standing up and leaving me in a puddle of mush on the bench.
“See ya later Miranda. Don’t wear her completely out,” Dank teased as he turned to walk away. I glanced over at Miranda who was watching his butt in awe and I swung my shopping bag to slap her in the side.
“HEY,” she shrieked as she stumbled sideways.
“Stop looking at my boyfriend’s butt,” I replied to her scowl. I realized that maybe it was just guys who showed interest in her that she was opposed to. Those like Dank she didn’t view as a betrayal she still checked out.
Biting her lip, she tried to keep from smiling, “Sorry, it’s really hard not to.”
“Spoilsport,” she muttered and grabbed my arm to pull me up.
“Let’s walk and eat. I want to go see if they have a see through strapless bra at Victoria’s Secret.”
Groaning, I let her pull me up and grabbed my half of the pretzel from her hand. At least I had a treat to get me through this.
I went to open Pagan’s bedroom door when someone cleared their throat behind me. I hadn’t been careful and had gotten a little too comfortable with sneaking into her room in the morning. I’d have to face the music for that mistake. Turning around I found Pagan’s mom standing across the hall with her hands on her hips and her eyebrows raised. Her dark brown hair was a little mussed from sleep but she was already in her work clothes: sweat pants and a teeshirt. Complete with coffee stain.
“Good morning,” I tried to sound as polite as possible. It wasn’t like she could keep me from coming to Pagan’s room whenever I wanted but I still didn’t want to have her as an enemy.
“Good morning, Dank. To what do we owe this early visit?”
This time I cleared my throat, “I thought I’d wake Pagan up. Don’t want her to miss breakfast.” Okay, that sounded lame.
“Really? Well, just so we’re clear, I realize my daughter’s boyfriend is ... well... something that isn’t exactly human. But I still expect you to follow my rules.”
“Of course,” I replied.
She stared at me a moment longer then started to walk down the stairs. I stood frozen not sure if she wanted me to actually leave.
Stopping and glancing back over her shoulder at me she smiled, “Come on. I’ll feed you while you wait.” She then continued down the stairs and I smiled to myself while I followed her. Who was I to disobey her mom?
Once we got in the kitchen her mother opened a cabinet and got down the pancake mix, a large bowl and a spoon. “Here read the directions and start mixing up my batter while I get the griddle hot,” she directed as she shoved the items into my arms.
I hadn’t planned on cooking breakfast with Pagan’s mother but it was past time she and I talked. Our last private conversation had been the night I’d confronted her about Pagan’s soul.
“The key to getting pancakes just the way Pagan likes them is to use a lot of butter. Real butter. It makes the edges crisp.” I filed that piece of information away to use on a later date.
“When she was little I’d make her pancakes into the shape of Mickey Mouse. Well, his head at least. She loved them. She’d make eyes and a nose and a mouth with fruit and then cover it all with syrup.”
I remembered the green eyes too big for her face staring up at me from the hospital bed that day I’d gone to talk to her. She’d lost all her hair and her face was frail and thin but her mind had been sharp as a tack. After that day I’d always remembered her when I walked into the rooms of dying children to explain to them what was to come. Her face had always come to mind and I’d wondered what had happened with that soul. Even then she’d had a sort of hold on me.
Her mother took the bowl from my hands. Luckily I’d managed to stir the milk, eggs, and mix together properly. Her approving nod was oddly relieving.
“So Dank Walker, you ever going to tell me exactly what you are?”
I’d wondered if now that Pagan was home, safe and sound, free of voodoo spirits that wanted her soul, her mother would ever question me about my admission that I wasn’t human.
Clearing my throat I leaned a hip against the counter and crossed my arms over my chest. I wasn’t sure she really wanted the answer to this question.
“Well, that depends on if you really want me to tell you. It might be best if you just know that I will protect her for all eternity. She’ll never have to fear death.” I stopped on that last word and waited. Her mother had just poured some batter onto the sizzling griddle and she froze for a moment then slowly lowered the bowl and spoon to the counter. Her head turned as if in slow motion until her eyes were staring incredulously into mine.
“Are you saying... I mean you can’t be... are you saying... no, no that can’t be right,” she shook her head and gave me one last small frown before turning her attention back to the pancake in front of her. She flipped it then placed it on a plate and handed it to me.
“First one is always the best. Why don’t you get started... that is if you... do you eat?”
I didn’t hide my amusement as I reached for the plate. “Yes, I eat. Eternity would be awfully boring without food.”