"This is it, honey. This is our new home." My mom said warmly at me from the front seat of our seven- seated jeep, twisting in her chair and smiling at me hopefully as I stared, expressionless, out of the window. I pulled my earphone from its former position blasting sweet soul music in my ear and glanced uninterestedly at her small, blonde figure.
"Hmm." I responded monotonously, turning the volume on my IPod back up to full blast. Thumping beats vibrated through my body.
"Sappho, honey, please, at least, try to understand." My mum tried again, unfastening her seat belt so she could twist to see me better. I didn't even look at her - I couldn't. She would be acting all pathetic and hurt; and that would only anger me further. I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes in annoyance.
"Don't call me that." I growled at her, almost imagining my hackles rising. She blinked her large, blue eyes for second, surprised at my vehemence, before settling her mouth into a little, hard line.
"I see." She muttered, twisting the key in the ignition and sighing as the smooth engine purred quietly to a stop. "Your father can have any kind of nickname he wants, but me - oh no, I'm just the mother, the mother who's looked after you all your-" she was off on a rant again, and I'd just have to sit it out or grab the house key from her and go inside. But she stopped abruptly and gripped the wheel of the car hard, her knuckles white and strained. She seemed to be trying to calm down, taking deep, noisy breaths through her nose and staring straight ahead. Finally, she spoke again. What I heard didn't please me.
"You know he was the one who left us, he was the one who drove us to this...this change." She tried - her voice no louder than a hiss. I clenched my jaw and wished she would turn around to look at me again so she could see the glare of death that I threw her way. I opened the door and swung one long leg out, hitching my duffel up my shoulder and grabbing the top of the car to unfold myself gracefully out. Then I tugged my hood up around my head and bent down, halfway in the car again.
"We all know whose fault that is." I said quietly, but venomously, enjoying her sharp intake of breath and look of pure rage. Then I stepped away and slammed the door hard, not surprised that she revved the engine up again, skidded, and swerved away from the house, the silver shininess of the paint job almost scratched by her reckless driving. I stared after the truck for a bit, annoyed, before turning to the new house.
First impression - big. No, not big, it was massive. A large, mansion sized house with: colossal bay windows, hanging baskets at the front, flower beds, winding cobbled paths, neat hedges, little trees, even a tower at the back. Everything was originally gray stone, and I tried to imagine the front garden overflowing with tangled weeds and gray shadows. The image was all too easy to conjure up. But now, since the old inheritor of the property decided to sell up, it's been modernized; the walls have been white washed, the stone pillars painted over, the balcony wood lain. I hated the wrong transformation of what might have once been an atmospheric building, which, of course, meant that I'd probably hate the building itself.
I couldn't get in because my cheat of a mother had driven off with the keys, so I decided to explore the grounds outside. I hitched my ever slipping bag back up my shoulder and began to explore. I realized that the back of the house was unattainable - to most people. A thin, spiked metal gate separated me from the narrow passageway between the house and the boundaries of the side wall. I wondered who our neighbors were briefly...then remembered that this was a very, very, very detached house, as my mother put it, which meant it was totally in the middle of nowhere, which was how I put it.
Shaking my head clear of unpleasant deserted thoughts, I curled my fingers around the paint chipped metal and hoisted myself up. My trainers easily found footholds and soon I was leaping over the spikes with the grace of an Olympic jumper. Not even my baggy jumper snagged, and I was pleased that I 'still had it'. The narrow passageway was uninteresting. Moss scattered stones, and that's all. But, as I got further into the depths of the unknown, I realized that the paint had faded away to nothing and the stone bricks were back to a charcoal gray. Smiling, I dragged my fingers along the dark, dusty edge, pleased when I emerged at the other side of the passage.
The back garden - now that's what you call beautiful.
I'm not much of a nature-y person; you could say that I hardly garden at all. But one thing is for sure - I like my green untouched. And you could tell this place hadn't been touched in a long, long time.
The grass was exactly waist height, and random, colorful wild flowers thrived between it. The ground was soft and damp underfoot. The trees running the length of the edge of the garden was nothing like the ones at the front - they were ragged and undomesticated, the gnarled brown of their branches curling high toward the cloudy sky. I understood that my mother had picked this very day to come here on purpose - it was one of the few and far between dry weathered days the town of Rhodes experienced.
Not minding rain, but walking quickly but, I trekked to the foot of the garden. A wrought iron, tall fence separated our new house from a crumbling, vegetation rich, river bank. The trees were thick and I couldn't see the river, but I could hear it; the distinct sound of trickling water could be heard beyond the silence of everything else. I so longed to climb over this barrier, too, and explore further what could be my new hideout, but I heard the distinct roar of the jeep as it once again pulled into the gravel driveway. Just as I was walking calmly back, my mother slipped out of the driver's seat and regarded me skeptically.
"Are you done insulting me?" she asked curtly, her nose rising in the air. I was angry for a moment at her haughtiness - parents hate hearing the truth about their faults, but I finally relented. I had no love for the woman, but the sensible side to me won out. I sighed and shrugged non-interestedly.
"Depends whether you're done talking to me." I shot back, which issued an exaggerated, dramatic, and drawn out sigh from her part. Then she fished around in her handbag for the keys. Apparently, all of our stuff was already moved in, already positioned. It only confirmed how much of this decision was made before I was even told, let alone confronted. Then she opened the door to my new house. Our new house. I refused to call it a home. Home was with my father, in his little studio flat, where he moved after his wife cheated on him with his best friend, and his mother died, leaving his incoherent, mad father in a home. All I wanted was to be with him, to comfort him, but I was just a law case; a law case she won. And with my father so far away now, it was impossible to ignore her. The thought was unimaginable.
I let my duffel bag slide down my arm to my hand as I looked around the place I would be spending my next two years in. It was OK, I guess. Very modern. Laminated flooring, open spaces, random sofas everywhere, electrical heating, top of the range kitchen appliances, small rugs scattered wherever my mother felt like it, and a huge dining room with a baby grand in it. Neither of us played the piano.
Despite I had shown clearly that I didn't like speaking to her, my mother's expression was still hopeful.
"So... what do you think?" she asked, laughing nervously, worry creasing her brow. I looked at her little porcelain doll featured; sleek, smooth blonde bob, big blue eyes, flawless skin, thin lips, high cheekbones, immaculate taste in clothes. I hated her. I shrugged.
"It'll do." I muttered, and it was like I'd released something in her. Her shoulders slumped and she clasped her hands together in a loud clap, her smile almost blinding me. Capped teeth.
"Now, what'll we have for dinner? The tower room's yours by the way. Your stuff's already unpacked." She beamed. I bit my lip. Did I want to eat? No - the answer was most frequently no. I could last days without the stuff, without any need for it, maintaining a healthy figure.
"I'll give dinner a pass." I said quietly and then, without another word, I whirled around and began to run up the stairs. My DC trainers made light tapping noises on the uncovered marble, and I realized that this was definitely not a cozy place. I felt a slight breeze pass my neck and I shivered as every fine hair stood to attention. Then it was gone. Shaking my head, I grabbed the banister and began to walk again.
The landing at the top of the stairs was huge. There were two directions - one with a closed end, which I thought might be my mum's part of the house, and then just a hallway with many, many closed doors. I ignored all of them, waiting till I got to the end one, which I opened quietly.
The door knob was rusty from lack of use, but after careful tugging it eventually opened. I peered in, or more, out. It was like a stone passageway separating my place from the main body of the house. The stone barrier reached my waist and, for a second, I felt the distinct presence of somebody next to me as I leaned out, staring at the back garden in wonder. I could see the river from here - it was pretty wide, and on the other side, there was just a forest, which spread as far as the eye could see. I really liked that. I could go, one day, have a picnic in the canopy of trees, find something to draw...
My sudden excitement was cut short as I heard something. Our place was deserted. It was damp, so there was no woodland animal or such anywhere near. My mum seemed a world away. And yet I heard the distinct sound of footsteps. They walked away from me, fading, going toward what would soon be my room. I tensed up - they were so real and unmistakable. The hair on the back of my neck did that rising thing again, and goose bumps ran up and down my arms. My shoulders knotted up, but, after a moment, there was silence. I exhaled in relief. I was so silly. I was so unwilling to come here, that I was trying to fault in every little thing. I had just imagined them.
Smiling a tense smile, I proceeded to my bedroom to catch some sleep and, maybe, draw something.
I hadn't been enrolled in the new high school I was to attend. My mother kept on putting it off, but I reckoned that it wouldn't matter anyway, because we were at the very beginnings of the summer holiday and that left plenty of time to do little things like that. My first month here, had been pleasant. It's been quiet and alone, which is what I liked most. It was really pretty good. Except for one thing.
No matter how much I try to put it down to my imagination, the strange occurrences keep on happening. My mother seems oblivious to them. Like, one day, I was in the kitchen getting a glass of water, and my mother was downing her morning coffee before leaving for work as a lawyer. I had been standing at the sink, and had been just rinsing my glass out, when I heard it. A low whisper, a voice, and then a light touch on my hand as I nearly dropped the glass, curling my fingers around it again in a sturdy grip. I didn't try to make out what it was saying, just turned and walked out of there.
And the time when I was on the passageway, and had been leaning too far forward. I was trying to see directly beneath me, but lost my balance, and my legs were lifted clean off the ground. I didn't even think to react - I would have fallen had it not been for the pair of large, strong hands at my waist pulling me back gently. As soon as I had caught my breath. I turned around. And there was not a single individual there.
The presence didn't seem to be bad; it helped me and, sometimes, tried to communicate. But my stubborn humane brain will not accept that fact that the coincidences and weird occurrences are not a figment of my particularly wild imagination. Until it happened.
I was down in the library, fighting boredom, flicking through each and every history book on the house, trying to get background on the place I was now living in. Everything was boring at first; endless pages on the descriptions of bricks or moss or something. But then I came across something different. It was an old book, leather bound in thick, black material with gold, engraved calligraphy printed across the front. It said, quite simply, History of Stone Manor. At first, I was like 'Stone' Manor? How original can you get? But a quick scan through the history of the family and I realized that this was actually their second name. A pretty cool second name, at that. Then I turned the fragile, yellowed page.
Everything was, of course, in black and white, but even that could not have dulled the wonderful beauty of the man that was drawn on the page before me. I wondered whether it was a fictional illustration - no one could resemble perfection like this man did. I read the little inscription: 'Leonardo Stone - murdered in his sleep'. The casualness of it sent shivers down my spine. I read on.
'Leonardo Stone was the youngest of the three Stone sons, and by far the most liked. This young man was a favorite with all the young women wishing to be courted; rich, handsome, and with respectable parents. His engagement to Rosaline Harmon of Wales was cemented when he was old enough to be properly courted, but, that very night before the morn of his wedding, he was found with an unknown dagger in his chest, blood spilling out across the white of the chamber sheets...' An image of the man flashed in my head, and, for some reason, he was in my room.
Well, it was my room but older, with a grand wooden four poster bed, embroidered sheets, a gilt framed mirror on the west side of the room, grand chests made of polished shining wood, stained glass in the window instead of the average double glazed I had. And then the dark figure of the man, lying as if asleep, the silky white of the bed sheets stained white. I shuddered and took another look at this Leonardo.
In the black and white picture, he was tall and broad shouldered, stood on the passageway where I had nearly fallen, leaning against the waist high support. Then, flowers curled around every support, and greenery hung from baskets. He was staring out at the back, and the wind stirred his dark hair. It was impossible to see what color exactly it was, because of the black and white, but in my mind, I imagined the darkest of the darkest black. His eyes were fixed on some spot in the distance, and his full mouth was unsmiling. Even from a drawing, I could make out his razor-sharp cheekbones and tall, six foot two figure. He was clad in formal attire, but with his tailored tuxedo blazer slung against the support instead of on and his bow tie loosened to just a ribbon of loose black around his shirt. He was an awe-inspiring handsome guy.
Feeling a wave of sadness and injustice wash over me, I shut the yellowing, crinkly book carefully and sighed. The cool leather felt heavy in my hands and I slid it into the bookshelf with care, thinking about it. Someone had been murdered in my very tower room. Not just someone. Master Leonardo Stone of Stone Manor had been murdered in my tower room. On the night before his wedding. How tragic. I shivered, suddenly feeling a gust of wind blow about my bare arms. Goosebumps played on my arms as I whirled around, rubbing the tops of my arms. The massive library stared accusingly back at me, the circular walls high and filled with every genre of book imaginable. The ceiling painted like a night sky, with an actual part of it all glass. The library was the biggest part of the whole house, as it ran the whole length of three floors. But no one was there.
I'll have to admit, crazy notions were muddling up my mind right then. His ghost? His presence? Someone trying to avenge his murder? I wasn't scared, more apprehensive. I made my way to my room slowly and turned the stereo up to drown out and footsteps or whispers. Pff. Ghosts. How ridiculous.
I was running. I wasn't running from something, exactly, more like running to something. It was like I was in a tunnel, but I knew I wasn't. The darkness just made it seem that way; like pitch black walls closing in on me. The strange thing was, I wasn't even looking for light. I was looking for something else. My heart was bursting out of my chest and my breaths shallow and raspy, but I carried on, seeing myself in slow motion. And then I found what I was looking for. A dark figure leaning against something, head down. I reached out to touch him...
The room was cold and dark when I woke up. The night outside was star-plenty and cloudless. I was breathing hard, tangled white sheets at the foot of the bed. A thin sheen of sweat cooled on my forehead. I sat up sharply and groaned, holding my throbbing head in my hands. When I finally moved my hands away from my face, the sight I saw was enough to cause me to shriek. Before the sound had almost escaped from my mouth, a cool hand was clamped over my lips. I struggled to bite it away, struggled to tear the iron grip from my face. There was someone in my room.
"Help." I gasped out, struggling against my resistant kidnapper, or serial murder or whatever. My cry, though, was so quiet it was in vain and the feebleness made me annoyed. I bit down on the hand hard.
"Ow." Someone whispered, and then the arms were gone. I scrambled back into a sitting position and twisted around to see my assailant. And then I gasped again. It was him. Leonardo Stone.
"What...?" I cried, stumbling in my haste to stand up. My feet hit cold stone; little had been done to change my room. But I liked it this way. I backed away until the bed was fully in between us. Leonardo, Leonardo Stone, seemed unfazed and was nursing his hand. He held it up for me to see. Deep red marks were imbedded in his skin, along with a little blood. I frowned, not having meant to dig that deep.
"You drew blood." He said, his dark eyes boring into me in a glare. His mouth was set into a little hard scowl. Even scowling, he was beautiful. In color, in life (is he alive?) he was a million times better than the picture. His hair was, as I suspected, black, and his eyes the deepest mixture of greens with a ring of silver around them. He was around six two, like I thought, with broad shoulders and what looked like not an ounce of fat on him. If he was alive, I would have looked twice or maybe thrice. But he isn't. Then it hit me. He wasn't alive!
"Oh my God! Mum! Mum!" I yelled, finally frightened, running toward the door which was on the other side of the bed, too. I grabbed the door knob, but before I could turn it, amazingly strong arms pulled me away.
"Don't be stupid!" the ghost hissed, glaring at me even further. His green eyes had suddenly got darker, and another wave of fear rolled over me. He released me roughly from his arms, so I fell back onto the bed. He straightened up, and towered over me, looking at me strangely but intently. Whimpering softly, I scooted backward on the bed till I almost fell on the edge. I lost my balance, but he was there in an instant, pulling me back to safety. As soon as I was all right, I wrenched away from him, and, still making small noises, stood up to move as far away from him as I could. I pressed my back against the wall and looked anywhere but him.
What the hell was happening? It must be a trick of the light or something, there can't really be a long gone man in my bedroom, who's been dead for lord knows how long. I'm still dreaming. I'm ill and I'm hallucinating. Mum's playing a Halloween trick on me in January....This is real.
I blinked and glanced up. He was still there, staring at his hand like he couldn't quite believe it was there. Shivers coursed through my body and I almost yelled out again for someone, anyone to hear me, but they wouldn't get here in time and anyway, who knows what he could and would do to me?
Taking a deep breath, I decided to look at the situation rationally. I was in my bedroom which was his former bedroom. I'm with his ghost, which is incredibly handsome. I'm not dreaming. I looked at him again, and I couldn't bring myself to tear my gaze away. He really was abnormally handsome, with olive skin and ruffled dark hair, dressed in black pants tucked into riding boots and a billowing white shirt slit to the top of his chest.
I decided that this was stupid, just sitting around and waiting for something to happen. So I spoke.
"What are you doing here?" we both said the same thing at exactly the same time. I stared at him, and he stared at me for a moment before we both smiled tentatively and I shrugged.
"I live here." I offered truthfully, thinking about how odd it was for him to ask such an obvious question. His eyebrows furrowed.
"Um, no. I live here." He said, and I realized that his language had changed with the time era. I frowned at him.
"No, you used to live here, but now I live here."
His jaw clenched.
"I've lived AND died here, so I think it's safe to say that this is my place." He said lightly, like he hadn't just confirmed that he was a ghost. The corroboration made my mouth go dry.
"You...you're dead?" I asked hoarsely, leaning against the stone brick wall heavily. He gave a humorless laugh.
"You can cut that out. I was with you in the library." He said, like it might not be a big deal to me that I had just conversed with a dead man. The real truth finally bore down on me and I stiffened up.
"Well, you can't live here. I live here." I said, my voice shaking slightly.
"I'm not moving out." He glared at me, suddenly angry. I glared right back.
"Well, neither am I!"
His face was a mask of pure fury for a moment, probably because a woman challenged him, and then, without any glitter or puffs of smoke, he was gone. That left me to sinking back down into bed and digesting one of the biggest moments of my life.
"You know you really don't suit pink." Leonardo mused, sitting on the edge of my bed as I looked at myself disgustedly in the mirror. He'd been pestering me since last month, when we first met. Whenever he appeared, it was either to annoy or criticize me, and I was getting sick of it. His original plan was to drive me out of the ground altogether, I knew, but I was hanging in there and usually just ignored him. He was getting really annoying. He never left me alone or spent a second being nice and civilized. Except for one time, when I smashed a glass and cut my palm badly. He had taken my hand and sighed, telling me what a silly girl I was in soft, gentle tones as he cleaned up the cut, his amazing eyes distracting me from the pain. Ghost storied are really off the mark, though.
They aren't evil creatures, just recreations of the person they were before they died. They can't walk through walls or through us, but are in a solid sort of form, except cold, and without a heartbeat I think. They can vanish to wherever whenever they want to. They're phenomenally strong. And they're probably a million times hotter than they were when they were alive and if they were hot then, you've got a stunner on your hands, like me.
I smoothed the front of the hot pink dress down in the mirror, breaking away from my thoughts.
"Since when do you know what I suit?" I muttered, adjusting the spaghetti straps and cursing my mother for the 'spontaneous present' she wanted to see me in so quickly. More like spontaneous curse. Leonardo laughed behind me.
"Since I watch you change all the time." He said, and suddenly something dawned on me. He could be looking from an unseen corner whilst I changed my clothes! My cheeks flushed red and I turned on him.
"You'd better not." I growled at him, and he laughed out loud, a deep laugh lined with humor. He shrugged and put a fake innocent expression on.
"I might." He grinned, making me almost choke on air.
"How dare you!? I ought to-" I began, but he cut me off.
"Ought to what?" he asked, and suddenly he was right next to me, up close, his hands clamped strongly yet gently around my wrists, face so close I could have fainted. I knew then: I was attracted to him. A full blown crush.
"I-I-I..." I stammered, staring right into those beautiful eyes that had a strange hypnotic quality. I couldn't tear myself away, no matter how much I wasn't trying. He scanned my expression with his eyes, and I swear I saw them linger on my mouth a moment longer than they needed to. He was so damn hot. My stomach flipped over, and then he released me and stepped back. His face was suddenly unsmiling. I stared after him and, finally, he looked up and smiled without meaning it.
"I don't watch you change. No matter how much I've picked up on modern things, I still have my old-fashioned values where we don't watch porn or rape women and treat them like the goddesses they are." He said sincerely, and my liking deepened with those very true words. All traces of a flush fell from my face but I looked at my feet.
"I better go and show mom this." I said, gesturing toward my dress. He shrugged.
"Yeah." His voice was vague and his mind elsewhere was elsewhere, and once more, he looked at his hands in that strange way.
Hoping that he would be there when I went back up, I raced down the stairs, quickly twirled in front of my mom and ran back up. He was in exactly the same position as he was before. I walked in quietly and carefully before turning to him.
"Could you...?" And he was gone. I stripped off my dress and chucked on my night clothes. "You can come back now, if you want." I said softly into the mid-air. No one appeared, and I didn't expect them to. Sighing disappointingly, I switched off the light and climbed into bed, drifting into a light, fretful sleep. I didn't dream the same dream that night. Instead, a video of prom played in my head, and, stupidly, I was in Leonardo's arms, swaying gently in a dress which flowed to the ground, in pure black...
Once again, I woke up too early - whilst the sky was still dark and dotted with stars. A brilliant moon filled the whole of my window, in a breathtaking puddle of white, illuminating a figure sat on my window seat. Leonardo, looking more beautiful than ever, looked up, his dark hair messy on his forehead. I felt the unexplainable urge to sweep it away, even though it looked good. He smiled; just a corner of his mouth curving upwards. My heart soared at the gesture.
"I would say good morning, but..." he gestured toward outside and then at my alarm clock, which read 2:32 am. I laughed.
"Sorry for interrupting your alone time." I shrugged sheepishly, sitting up and leaning against the headboard, my dark hair mussed up. His face fell.
"I was just thinking..." his voice trailed away and his face took on a forlorn look that I knew so well. It was the same look that dad wore whenever I mentioned mum in his presence by accident. His brown was burrowed in a frown and his face contorted handsomely with sadness.
"About Rosaline?" I asked softly, pondering on how lucky the woman was. I felt a stab of envy, but just a look at his face told me that if I cared for this guy at all, I wouldn't feel such things. She was a woman, and it wasn't her fault that he had fallen in love with her. Rosaline Harmon. She even had a pretty name. "Tell me about her."
Leonardo's face wore a dreamy expression as he stared out of the window.
"What is there to tell? Creamy skin, hazel eyes, blonde ringlets in the most perfect of spirals...kind of the complete opposite of you, actually." He looked at me and smiled, but that wasn't the best thing to tell me. That he'd fallen in love with someone completely unlike me. I didn't smile back.
"What did you like about her?"
He turned his face back to the window.
"Her confidence...her way with words. The subtle flirting. Her looks, obviously. The way every man wanted her and she wanted me." His voice was laced with fond sadness and my heart skipped a beat. He was so sad. Heart breaking sad!
"Were you in love?" My voice wavered, and a light flush dominated my cheeks. He looked at me and smiled.
"Yes." He said simply, and my heart broke. He was in love with her. There's no hope for me. Then I caught myself. He was ghost! A ghost, for heaven's sake. We would never be, anyway. A weird relief cooled my face as I looked back to him. The fact that he was a dead man didn't bother me anymore - I was so used to his sarcastic comments, his dark looks, his fickle moods, by now that he was just another guy to me. Another special guy, but still. Suddenly I was broken out of my thoughts by his voice. "Come and look at this." He said softly. I obeyed, slipping my legs out of the bed and standing up sleepily. I was wearing white cloth shorts that tightened below my knee and a simple, plain t-shirt.
Walking carefully, I went over to where he was sitting. He stood up and pointed out of the window.
"Look. It's Aphrodite. She's smiling down on us." He whispered, tracing her face outline with a finger. I couldn't see anything. And she's smiling down on us? The goddess of love is smiling down on us? What was that meant to mean? "It gives me hope that me and Rose will be together again, somehow." And my hope shattered into pieces. I blinked.
"I can't really see what you're talking about." I said flatly, not even trying anymore. Leonardo came up behind me, close enough to touch, and pointed it out to me.
"There." He said. Seeing my puzzled expression (or rather oh my god he's touching me expression) he laughed and took my hand, guiding my finger around the glass, outlining the constellation. "You see, she's a real beauty, and these are her big, blue-black eyes and her flowing straight hair, nose and big lips that entranced many men..." his voice faded into nothingness as I just stared at his side profile. He still had my hand, his large, cold one closed over it, and his fully kissable lips dazed me as they moved. His neat, straight nose and ruffled hair complimented his amazing cheekbones perfectly, and all I wanted to do right then was to kiss him.
Eventually, he realized that I wasn't listening. The smile faded from his face as his eyes locked with mine in a breathtakingly intense moment. We said nothing for a long, long moment, before he dropped my hand and turned away.
"Tell me why you did that." He said sternly, his broad back to me. I was still in a daze.
He turned around in annoyance.
"Looked at me like that. Looked at me like I looked at Rosaline." His voice was shaking with, well, anger, I presumed, and his eyes darker than usual.
"I didn't." My voice shook, too, but more audibly and I stammered. He stared fiercely into my eyes again.
"You did. Tell me." He ordered, and I fell back into the window seat, curling up into a protective ball from this verbal onslaught.
"I d-didn't-" I protested, but my lie sounded unbelievable to me anyway. Then I realized that Leonardo was staring at his hand again. I spoke without thinking. "Why do you look at your hand like that?" I asked, breathing in the lingering lemony scent of him that wafted around me. He stared hard at me for a second, before sitting on my bed.
"I can feel you." he muttered, so quiet it was almost inaudible.
"I'm sorry?" I asked. He looked up at me, his expression softer.
"Ghosts or spirits can't feel. They can get hurt, but not feel the hurt. For instance, if I cut myself, it would bleed and heal normally, but I wouldn't feel the pain at all. I haven't felt anything for years now, just years of nothing. And then you come along and...I can feel you. I couldn't even feel Rose, on the few times that she came after my death. It confuses me." He explained softly, suddenly standing up and walking over to me. He extended a hand and pulled me up. His touch was cold, as always. "Can you feel me?" he asked, holding one of my hands in both of his. Dazedly, I nodded. "She couldn't." He said bitterly, dropping my hand and touching my cheek lightly with his knuckles. "Can you feel that?" he asked. My breathing was shallow as little electric sparks of pleasure ran around my body from his slight touch. I nodded weakly, and he tore away. His face was suddenly angry.
"Why? Why you of all people?!" he yelled hurtfully. Tears stung my eyes and I backed away from him. He saw my face and his expression softened. "I didn't mean it that way..." he tried to apologize, but I shook my head.
"No, it's all right. It is unfair of me. I shouldn't have invaded you privacy." I said, grabbing some clothes and my duffel with art supplies in it. "I'll leave now." Leonardo, behind me, was frustrated and angry at himself.
"Sapphire, I'm sorry." He apologized, but I ignored him. Of course he hated me. I was just an inconvenience to him, just someone who got in the way of his dreams of Rosaline. I ran across the passageway and into the nearest bedroom in the main part of the house, changing quickly and putting my chocolate hair up in a messy bun. Glistening blue eyes stared back at me. I touched the shadows beneath my eyes for a second, and contemplating eating more regularly. My irregular diet couldn't be good for my health.
Then, without wasting a second, I was out of there, and making my way to the woods. As I had predicted, I had found a clearing that quickly became my new hideout. I arrived there now. Even in the star and moonlight, it was picturesquely pretty, with its long, single bladed grass and various flowers, and the large rock bang in the center of it. I made my way over to the rock and sat on it, pulling my art stuff out of the bag on my shoulder.
I took out my bag and began to draw with a soft piece of charcoal. By the time I had finished, an amazingly accurate drawing of Leonardo sat in front of me. The truth had dawned. I was in love with him. Tears trickled out of my eyes and the pad of thick artist's paper slid from my lap, along with the charcoal, onto the ground. I covered my face up with my hands.
The next thing I knew, cool fingers were pulling my hands gently away from my face. Leonardo looked down at me. I stared at my lap. He cupped my face in his own hands and tilted my head back up to look at him. His close proximity made me catch my breath.
"I'm sorry." He whispered softly, and my heart soared at his gentle tone. But I was still angry, and I moved my head away. He sighed. "It's hard, hard to feel these things for you, and feel as if I'm betraying Rose somehow." He explained, sitting on the rock beside me.
"Feel these things for you? Or just feel me?" I asked softly back, staring out at the distant horizon instead of him. He sighed heavily.
"I don't know. I don't know how I can be sure of anything, when I'm in this state."
Both our voices were very soft. He turned his head to look at me.
"Dead." He said simply before standing up. He stood in my view and began to unbutton his shirt, revealing a set of abs that six packs would be jealous of. I didn't understand what he was doing, but I didn't complain - it was quite interesting to watch, actually. My mouth went completely dry as his whole naked torso was exposed. His white shirt lay at our feet. "Look." He said, pointing to his chest. And then I realized. A long, brown scar ran about seven centimeters across where his heart would be.
"Oh." I exclaimed softly, sliding off the rock and making my way to him. I put my fingers on his chest without thinking and traced the length of it gently; ignoring the thrill it gave me. He turned around and I saw a small scar, but in the same place. I stroked it gently, and Leonardo tensed up.
"I can feel that, you know." He said, still turned away. I shrugged even though he couldn't see me.
"So?" I asked distractedly, feeling the soft mark. He turned around.
"So it feels good." He said, reaching down for his shirt and avoiding my gaze. Then, suddenly, I knew it. He felt the same way, but he just wouldn't admit it. He's known me for months now of course; it wasn't anything rushed. But what possessed me to do what I did next I'll never know.
I tugged the shirt from his hands and threw it behind me, my eyes never leaving his gaze once. Then, slowly, so to give him a chance to get away, I leaned in to kiss him. Neither of us was ready for the response he gave.
"Oh god." He groaned before pressing me up against the giant stone and kissing me hungrily, tangling his hands in my hair and opening his mouth to mine. I've never had much experience in this, but I did know that he was one good kisser. His lips ground against mine; cold, hard and needy. He nibbled my lower lip and varied the pressure he applied to my mouth. And all I could do was respond dazedly, not quite believing it was happening. My nerve endings were on fire, my skin hot and movements passionate. Then he pulled away. "I'm sorry, Sapphire, I'm so sorry." He murmured in apology, scrambling to find his shirt and pull it on.
My hand still tingled from the coldness of his chest.
"It's OK." He looked up at me. "No, really." I smiled. And something clicked. He walked forward, took my hand and smiled sweetly.
"I'm glad. Because I was planning on doing it again." He murmured and leaned din to kiss me again. And again. And again.