Chapter Fourteen: Silent Kisses
When she opened her eyes the next morning, Anastasia felt as if something had been lifted from her back. The dream she had of Alexander and the wings, the conversation with him on the balcony (which could also be a part of the dream) was put in the back of her mind. She felt as if someone had lifted Alexander away from her, and it felt so good. But then…
Her near - kiss with Louis made her shiver, even under the covers. He liked her. She knew that for sure. He was always watching out for her, cheering her up when she was depressed, and was always there for her when the dreams of…of him came to haunt her.
She was so stupid that she took everything as the gestures of friendship. No, Louis felt more than friendship about her, and she certainly felt something about him. Only there was someone in the way. And she kept telling herself it was not Alexander.
Last night, Alex had told her outright that he didn't want her. And that, in the subtle way of his, that he wanted her to stay away from him. If that wasn't his way of saying 'I don't want you,' then she didn't know what else was.
If she liked Louis, who was to tell her she couldn't be with him? What she felt for Alexander is just fantasy. It was something that had sprung up because of her crazy dreams.
She couldn't let her stupid dreams take control of her. No. No way. She kicked back the covers and wrapped a shawl around her bare shoulders. She knew how cold the morning was. She flung open the windows and took a great gulp of crisp morning air. God, it was cold.
And footsteps padded from behind her, and she turned to find Louis standing in the doorway, smiling at her.
"Morning, sunshine," he smiled, and held up a coffee packet, "Espresso? Extra shot?"
She smiled back, the first real smile in weeks. It was dazzling, and Louis was clearly very much dazzled. She walked towards him, and then rested a hand on his arm.
"Of course. And bacon and eggs, just like the old times, Louis."
He grinned and took her hand in his, "Something tells me you are in a good mood, Anastasia O'Johnson."
"And why shouldn't I be? It's a fine morning," she laughed.
"Hmm…" He slipped a hand underneath her collar and traced her shoulder, "you are making me lose focus, Ana."
She slapped his hand away from her and pushed him out of the room.
"Then you are going to have to get it back. How much time do you need making a coffee?"
He raised his eyebrows.
"How much time do you want me to take?"
She studied him, and shrugged.
"Alright. Let's just stay focused. I am gonna change, and you-"
"I am gonna make a breakfast fit for a queen," he finished for her, holding up both hands and backing out of the room.
She shut the door behind him and leaned onto the wooden door. It felt so right. So carefree, with Louis. Yes, with Louis, the guy that even her Christian friend Dorothea fancies.
She hadn't seen her friend for so long. She had not been very religious lately, well, since the dreams became frequent. She had missed Church, and she hadn't prayed. But she was going to make amends, right now. She was going to call Dorothea, and her friend will fill her in with the sermons she had missed, and she will return to Church with her this Sunday.
Everything was going to be just fine, if she could forget her dark fantasies and impossible love. Don't forget your heart's desire. Oh no. No. She was not going to let Josie Carter destroy everything. She was not. She was -
Anastasia, why are you doing this to him?
Wait. Josie told her she could hear her thoughts if it was about Josie herself. Was that even possible? Crazy stuff was happening around her, and now, when she finally could get a shot at a normal day, Josie Carter could hear her thoughts. No. No, it couldn't be Josie. Telepathy wouldn't work at such a long distance, if it even exists. It's just her brain playing tricks.
Anastasia, you can't believe everything Alexander says.
Anastasia, you are hurting him.
She covered her ears and pressed her palms to the side of her head. And slid down the door to the ground, willing Josie's voice to stop. Then suddenly, her head fell silent. She slowly let go of her head, taking several deep breaths to make sure Josie was gone. Or, her insanity had ended.
A knock on her door.
"Ana? Come down."
She opened her eyes, and blinked at the sunlight from her window. Everything's fine.
She snatched a white T-shirt from her hanger, slipped off her silk nightgown and pulled the T-shirt over her head. After stumbling into a pair of shorts and throwing on a sweater, she slammed the door behind her and hurtled down the stairs.
She didn't stop until she entered the living room, and Louis was there, impossibly strong and beautiful. He was sitting at the table, folding a napkin beside the plate.
As soon as Anastasia came near the table, he looked up, and his face broke into a smile.
At the sight of that irresistible smile, she stepped behind Louis, and slid her arms from his back to his chest, her hand grazing his tightly muscled front. He didn't push her away, he just closed his eyes and slid his hand up her hand, past her arm, then to her shoulder.
She slowly lowered her face to his forehead, and pressed her lips on his skin.
"What's this?" He whispered, his blue eyes open now. They were misty, and filled with confusion.
"Just a selfish woman… to the best friend she could ever have," she whispered back.
He heaved a sigh, and rose up from his chair. Taking that as rejection, she hopelessly slid her arms off him and moved away from him. He seized her arm, and yanked her against his body. She gasped in surprise.
Then they did a sort of weird dance across the living room, their eyes fixed on each other. He pressed her against the wall, and cupped her face.
The heat from his body, and from his blue eyes, scorched her from the inside. She trailed her arm up his abdomen to his chest, and cupped the back of his neck. His other hand touched her thigh, and his touch burned her, scorching her skin, even underneath the shorts. He hitched it up his waist, close to his body, and Anastasia's heart beat even faster.
"Oh, Anastasia…" He breathed, his peppermint breath swirling round her brain, "Sweet, lovely Anastasia…"
She smiled at the intimate way he said her name, and she knotted her hands together behind his neck. They were so close now that Anastasia knew the kiss was coming. Only…only she was scared of what she was doing. But Josie's voice was silent. And there were no flashes of memory to stop her.
Anastasia was alone, truly alone, with the guy she had always wanted, and had always neglected. She knew she needed to try. To try falling in love, to try touching the guy she wanted. She folded her lips against Louis' slightly opened ones.
It felt as if something had burst free inside her. Something was pricking at her back. The same pricking she had in her dreams. But it didn't matter. None of it mattered, because Louis was responding to her, clasping her close to his chest. She ran her hands all over him, his biceps, his arm, his stomach. At last she wrapped her arms around his waist. And he was so gentle, so careful…
He held her close to him, as if never letting go, and with a little urgency, touched her lips with his. His hand moved down her back to press her closer against him. His lips moved to her cheek, then down to her jaw, and then to the side of her neck. Her lips parted, and when his lips pressed against her throat, she sighed in happiness.
Then his lips moved back to hers, and she kissed back more urgently, as if trying to pour her desire and her love for him into one soft kiss.
"Stop," Louis murmured against her lips, holding her back with a hand on her shoulders. "Stop before I go crazy for you."
She quickly stifled a moan, and her lips left his. She looked at him apologetically.
"I am sorry. I just…"
She shook her head, "I am really… I didn't know…"
"No, stop apologizing, Ana. Don't ruin the most perfect morning I have ever had." He held her face in both hands and his thumb stroke her cheek. "I stopped because I thought it would feel too intense and wrong for you."
She lowered her eyes, still shaken by what she did. And so blissfully HAPPY. He tilted up her face, and kissed her forehead. "Thank you."
Anastasia closed her eyes at his touch, and when he moved back, she clasped her hand on the back of his neck to draw him closer.
"No. Don't leave, Louis. Please."
He chuckled in a low, seductive grunt.
"I don't wanna leave, but our breakfast is getting cold and I am starving. Kissing with an empty stomach is not something you would wanna try, trust me. But-" He nudged her lips into his without warning, sending Ana into a frenzy again. "Believe me when I say I would choose kissing you over anything in the world."
She laughed, and he took her hand and led her back to the table. Pulling out the chair for her, he gestured grandly for her to sit.
She closed her hand around her cup of coffee, her hand slightly shivering from her excitement. Louis brushed his hand across her shoulders and sat down beside her. Her mind was still silent, as it had remained ever since she saw Louis this morning.
Don't forget your heart's desire.
Well, she didn't. She couldn't be more sure of her heart's desire right now.