Home > Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(9)

Demon Kissed (Demon Kissed #1)(9)
Author: H.M. Ward

Before I gave it much thought the hairs on my neck prickled. My stomach churned in response, feeling like I ate a glass sandwich. Something felt off. Turning, my eyes cut through the darkness, looking to see what was unsettling me. It was Collin. The shadows couldn’t hide the anxiety in his body. His stance was rigid, his tension echoing my own. His arms were folded over his chest, as his muscles flexed, pulling his arms tightly into his body. His hair swept across his eyes, and appeared to be damp, like mine. Did he run here? I watched his chest rise and fall slowly, as he drew in long breaths. It was only Collin.

I dismissed the feeling, thinking my brain was fried, and too paranoid to distinguish danger from craziness. I wasn’t going to throw all my friends away because of Jake. The betrayal stung, but I wouldn’t let it make me afraid of everyone. And this was typical, mysterious Collin. Showing up when I was a wreck, like he always did.

Breaking our gaze, I turned my face down, and stared at the floor. And just in time, too. The tears welled up in my eyes and overflowed. I hated crying in front of people, but after everything I’d been through, my brain finally caught up with my heart. Betrayal, fear, lust, love, and anger all swirled bitterly together.

I didn’t hear him approach. Collin sat down beside me, not saying a word until the tears slowed. Eventually, he reached into his pocket and held out his hand over my lap. As I looked up at him, he opened his palm. A silver-colored ring with a blood-red stone gleamed at me. He pressed it into my hand.

“What’s this?” I sniffled.

“Your present.” Before I could protest he said, “I’m not taking it back. I got it for you. I thought you could use it today. It’s a ruby in white gold. I heard that it’s supposed to purge the sorrow from your soul. Maybe it’s an old wives tale, but all the same, I thought you could use it today.” He smiled weakly at me, knowing he was treading in dangerous territory.

I slid the ring onto my index finger and looked at it wondering if he just made that up. “I don’t feel any different.”

He smiled, “Maybe it takes longer than two seconds.” He scooted closer. Aware of his proximity and my sweat-coated body, I felt awkward. It should have made me feel better that his skin was dewy too, but he smelled good, and I reeked. I stood up, and held out the ring in the moonlight. Could rubies really absorb sorrow? My hand touched Apryl’s pendant without thinking. If it could, even a little bit, I’d wear it.

I turned expecting to find Collin on the floor, but he stood behind me. Misjudging the distance between us, I aligned my body too close to his. I sucked in a deep breath, startled. When I looked up, we were nose to nose, almost touching, but neither of us moved. We stayed there, gazes locked. Something stirred inside of me. The sensation made my arms feel light, like they could float up to drape around Collin’s neck on their own. Wrapping my fingers in his soft hair would be so easy, but my arms remained at my sides.

A dull image washed through my mind. It felt like an old memory, dull and hazy with age. It echoed of fingers touching flesh, sliding slowly across a soft cheek. The sensation scraped my stomach softly, causing my heart to beat faster. His warm breath caressed my skin, as we stood surrounded by shattered glass. My pain melted away, flowing out of me, taking my anger and sorrow with it. There was nothing left, except me. And him.

Warmth shot through me, forcing me to breathe deeply at the unexpected response. Collin’s fingers neared my face. Hope filled me, wishing he would do what I just saw in my mind. I stood still, looking up into his eyes, too afraid to breathe. My lips parted, as I took a shallow breath, closing my eyes and slowly opening them again. The realization that I wanted the premonition to happen consumed me. I’ve never felt like that before.

There was so much emotion connected to a thought, and his presence. His hand slowed, nearing my face. It froze in the air, almost touching me. Butterflies plagued my stomach, as anticipation got the better of me. Yet when he moved again, his fingers touched only a curl, avoiding my flesh. I waited for him to slide his hand across my cheek. I waited for the sensation on my skin. Instead, he placed the stray curl behind my ear, and withdrew his hand. Disappointment surged through me, as our gaze broke. The magic of the moment shattered, and he stepped away.

What was that? My body shivered, as I turned away from him, taking a few paces. I wrapped my arms around my torso, looking over my shoulder at him. His gaze looked anywhere, and everywhere—except at me. We rarely locked eyes. We never touched. And it was because this kind of thing happened. It felt like mind games, but I didn’t want to admit it was more than that.

My voice came out gravelly, “Why’d you come here, Collin?” I didn’t look at him.

“You called to me,” he said softly. “I had to come.” He turned, not knowing what to do. I bristled at his unexpected response. Something was bothering me, but I couldn’t really put my finger on it. I liked that he showed up when I needed someone, but I never knew how he did it. Or how he found me. Or why he wouldn’t touch me when he found me shattered. Most friends would at least offer a hug. But he didn’t. It felt intentional, like he avoided touching me at all cost. Suddenly the idea was intolerable.

Irritation surged through me. Not knowing how to answer I simply said, “I did not call you.”

Collin was silent for a few minutes. He seemed unsure of himself, which was strange for him. I could hear his breathing, slow and deliberate. He made a few false starts and then said, “You should go home, Ivy. Don’t come out here alone. It’s not safe.” Slowly, he turned away from me to leave.

I didn’t move. Staring blankly, tears ran down my cheeks, and a whisper fell out of my mouth, “Nothing is safe. Not anymore.”

Collin stopped and turned, looking at me. His lips parted, like he wanted to say something, but he didn’t.

I felt broken, standing before him, completely exposed. The rawness of it surged through me, making my stomach twist. My gaze avoided his eyes. The air felt thick, and the two of us stood around like we’d done something wrong, though we’d done nothing.

I couldn’t stand it. I wanted to ask, Why won’t you touch me? But I heard my voice ask, “How did you find me?”

His blue eyes held my gaze intently. His lips parted, as I waited for words. But, the only thing that I could hear was his breath escaping from his body. He broke my gaze and ran his fingers though his hair, pushing it away from his face. His skin was smooth and perfect. No scar. But, the Valefar hid it, like my mark was hidden now. Shock flooded me as I realized what I was thinking. Did I really not trust him? Is that what I think of him? No, I was paranoid. I could trust Collin.

He took a step toward me, but not as close this time. He folded his arms, holding them loosely to his chest. His voice was soft, “Ivy, you called me. You call out to me. I don’t know exactly how I know where you are, but I do. It’s like your spirit calls to me and I can’t ignore it.” My gaze fixated on his mouth as he spoke, “It doesn’t matter where I am, or what I’m doing, or who I’m with… When I hear you,” he paused, “when I hear your distress… I can’t ignore it. It’s like a siren song. I can’t resist it, Ivy. I have to come to you.”

His words penetrated my mind, slinking back into the dark spots that were becoming larger, and untrusting. My skin prickled, as my heart raced. I could feel his eyes on me, waiting for me to look at him again. But I didn’t know what to do. The desperate feeling of wanting to know, without a doubt, that he was normal drowned me. I didn’t know what insanity prompted me to do it, but I did. Taking a step towards him, I closed the gap between us.

Looking up into his face, I said, “Kiss me, Collin.” Vulnerability and doubt lined my thoughts. There was one way to prove it—a kiss. If he kissed me, I would know he was normal. Just Collin. If he didn’t, then he was something else. Fear and distrust were warring with the loyalty I felt toward him. I had to know. This was the easiest way to find out.

Collin’s face faltered. His certain stance melted, as he physically pulled back from me, hands rising, so I could see his palms. “Ivy. That’s not … a good idea.”

Fixated, I took a step toward him, watching his confident façade fade away. I could feel the lub-dub of my heart deep within me. This would tell me he was normal. I needed him to be Collin. Nothing more. Dear God, nothing more. “You wanted me once. I know you did.”

Collin slid his foot backwards, increasing the distance between us, but his eyes didn’t leave mine. “Ivy now isn’t the best time. I couldn’t take advantage of you when you’re like this.” His foot slid back another step.

My gaze was locked on his unblinking blue eyes. My voice whispered, “Just one kiss.” I took another step toward him, closing the space between us.

He put his hands up in the universal symbol for stop. We didn’t touch. He broke my gaze and looked away. “I can’t. Ivy. I don’t feel like that. I’m sorry.” The answer to my question was staring me in the face. He wasn’t normal. I just didn’t want to admit it. Not yet.

“Collin,” I asked softly, “What are you?”

His blue gaze was wide, as he ran his fingers through his hair. “What does that mean?” He sounded offended and started to shift away.

I shook my head, “You know what I mean. You don’t touch me. Ever. Why not? I know you like me, but you won’t kiss me. I thought it was me, that I wouldn’t let you. All this time, I thought you were respecting my distance. But that’s not it, is it?” My heart raced in my chest. I couldn’t handle another betrayal, and not from him. Just tell me, Collin.

Smiling his boyish grin, Collin started to say, “Ivy, that’s crazy. We’re just...”

But I didn’t let him finish. Reaching up to his neck, I threaded my fingers through his hair, pulling him to me. Collin’s body went slack in my hands, as I felt him press against me. It felt heavenly, until my hands slid, and touched his skin. An icy hot surge burst into me, traveling through my hand, and into my body like a gigantic static shock. We both jerked, breaking the contact.

Shock was painted across my face, as I looked at my shaking hand, then back at Collin.

His voice was strained, “What the hell was that?” Shaking his head, eyes wide, he continued to move away from me, “That was too much. I can’t be what you need. Ivy, I’m not that guy. I’m not.” He turned away from me, walking in long strides, disappearing beyond the doors at the back of the church and into the night.

Dread filled me as I grabbed my jacket, stuffing the painting under my other arm, and sprinted in the opposite direction. I ran toward the back of the church, and up a dim stairwell. Crashing through the first door I found, I slid into the room, and pushed the door shut behind me. Collin didn’t follow. Not this time. He was gone. And it was my fault. I hadn’t meant to run him off. I just wanted to know why he wouldn’t touch me.

What the hell is wrong with me? Emotions bubbled into a frothy mix of humiliation and regret. Anger seared through all of it. Collin was one of the only friends I had left, and I screwed it up. Growling in frustration, I turned and hurled the painting at a pile of books. It rolled behind them and out of sight. Sliding my back down the wall, I lowered my butt to the floor, banging my head softly into the wooden shelves behind me. He didn’t want to touch me. The reality crashed into me with a deafening blow.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)