“To my room.”
Cassia lays her head on my chest as I carry her up the stairs and into the house, a place she’s only ever seen on the television screen in her room since the night I first brought her here.
Carrying her through the dark hall and into my bedroom, I lay her down on my bed amid the dark sheets and thick comforter. The sensation of her fingers leaving mine when I step away from her does something to me that I don’t fully understand. And against my strong need to let her hold onto me, I pull my sweater off and drop it on the floor. Afterwards the T-shirt I wore underneath it. She watches me with soft innocence as I step out of the rest of my clothes and stand naked in front of her before crawling into the bed next to her. I always sleep naked. She knows this. I know she expects nothing by the gesture.
I just want her near me.
Cassia curls up next to me, resting her head on my bare chest. I pull her closer as if she wasn’t already as close as she can be.
“Why did you bring me here?” She kisses my chest.
Tightening my arm around her I say, “Because I’m coming to my senses.” I kiss the top of her hair.
“Yeah?” I stare up at the ceiling.
“I’m sorry for what Seraphina did to you.”
“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault.”
Her small breaths warm my skin as she exhales.
“It doesn’t have to be my fault for me to be sorry for what she did.” Heartbreak lays in her voice.
My head falls to the side so that I can see her and even in the dark bluish hue of the room I can see the tears glistening plainly in her eyes.
“Why are you crying?” I ask, wiping them away with my thumb.
Her gaze falls away from mine. She doesn’t want to answer, but then she says, “Because I’m afraid that when you find her, you’ll forget all about me.”
I breathe in deeply through my nose, instinctively trying to force away the itching sensation building behind my eyes.
I roll over carefully on top of her, pinning her beneath me and gaze down into her softly pained face. My lips meet hers once. My hands cup the sides of her head, my fingers brush the soft, perfect contours of her cheeks. I’m intoxicated by her warm flesh against my own, the scent of her womanly skin, the heat of her sweet breath, the feeling of her rapid heartbeat thrumming down into my stomach and farther.
“Don’t think about any of that,” I whisper onto her mouth. “Because you have nothing to worry about.” My lips cover hers.
I slip her panties off and put myself inside of her to a sweet gasp that expels uncontrollably from her lips. She tenses at first, but then surrenders and melts into me. I’m instantly delirious to the sensation of her small, warm body wrapped tightly around mine in every way. She moans against my mouth the deeper I go, whimpers into the side of my neck the more forcefully I thrust my hips against hers. The pit of my stomach aches with ecstasy—I’ve never felt this before. Never. Not like this.
My mouth devours her lips, kissing her hungrily, stealing her breath away. The wet warmth of her tongue tangled around mine alone threatens to send me into sexual bliss. And when my mouth falls away from hers it searches her neck and the little hollow at the bottom, and then her br**sts, where I kiss them and lick them and bite them gently so that I don’t hurt her.
“Please don’t ever leave me again,” she shudders against my ear, pressing her hips toward me to take me deeper.
The sensation of her mouth makes me thrust harder. But I stop and hold myself deep inside of her and say, “I won’t leave you,” and then push my hips forward again to the sounds of her soft, pleading moans.
Cassia’s fingers wind within the top of my hair. Her thighs crush around my sides. Her head falls back against the pillow and I drag my tongue across the gentle slope of her throat exposed to me, until my mouth finds her lips again. I kiss her passionately, possessively. Because she is mine. She belongs to me just as she always has, and I don’t give a f**k who she thinks she is. She is mine and she’ll be mine until the day she dies.
I don’t know what’s happening to me.
But I don’t like it.
Fredrik gets out of the bed so late in the morning that I expect to smell chicken pot pie baking in the oven for lunch. Greta always makes it for me on Thursdays. The sun beams brightly through the bedroom window, nearly blinding me, not because I just woke up but because I haven’t seen the sun in a year. I’m quietly mesmerized by it as I lay on my side amid Fredrik’s sheets letting the light bring a flurry of black and yellow spots before my eyes.
Just as Fredrik is about to leave the room with a clean pair of boxers and a T-shirt crushed in his large fist, he realizes I’m awake and stops suddenly in the doorway. He turns to look back at me as if he’d forgotten something and I melt into his blue-eyed gaze.
“Come shower with me,” he says and then walks back over to the bed, reaching out his hand; a close-lipped smile plays softly on his handsome, stubbly face.
It makes me happy that he wants me to be with him for such a seemingly insignificant thing, but I can’t help but wonder how much of it is because he doesn’t trust me alone in the house unless I’m locked away downstairs. But I don’t care about that and I try not to think about it. I’m with him now in ways I’ve only dreamed of since he brought me here.
But why this ominous feeling of sadness in my heart all of a sudden? How can I be so happy because Fredrik seems to have given in to my feelings for him, yet I feel such a strange and looming sadness growing inside?
I take his hand and he helps me out of the bed. I stumble at first, so used to the chain always dragging behind me, but I quickly get the hang of it being gone. I just wonder how long that will last, but I try not to think about that, either.
Walking me down the short hallway with my hand clasped in his, I’m in awe of such small things. The beautiful dark hardwood floor under my bare feet, the cream-white paint on the walls and ceiling that make the dark crown moulding bordering the ceiling stand out. The rich marble accent table sitting at the end of the hall with a small Greek statue displayed in its center. Even the light fixture in the ceiling above me, dome-shaped with beautiful crystal carvings, holds my attention longer than something as simple and boring as a light fixture normally would.
When I glimpse the door to the basement, remembering him walking with me through it last night, my breath hitches and my throat dries out instantly.