Nicholas followed Alana up the stairs and into her bedroom. He stopped abruptly at the door, inhaling the scent deeply. The room smelled like her; a warm mixture of newly bloomed roses and vanilla. Never again would he see a rose quite the same way again.
As he stepped over the threshold, Alana disappeared into the bathroom leaving a trail of clothes behind her. Instead of using the power of invisibility to slip inside the bathroom and watch every graceful move she made, he chose to sit in the chase lounge and wait for her. There would be plenty of nights they would share the shower together.
A rare smile appeared thanks to that thought. After caressing her soft skin last night, tasting her sweet lips; being with her again had been all he could think about. He wanted to explore every inch of her body with his lips. He wanted to run his fingers through her hair as her body writhed against his. Dear God how he wanted her.
His thoughts were cut short when he heard the shower cut off. Within minutes he was treated to the beautiful sight of his future companion, wrapped in nothing more than a plush towel, fall into bed. She pulled the pillow close and closed her eyes. A harsh knock outside her door startled them both. Nicholas stood up ready to defend her. Thomas’s challenge to win Alana’s affections first had never really left his mind.
“Sis? You awake?” Matt asked from the doorway.
“If I was, I’m not now,” she mumbled. She rolled over to look at him. “If you’re here to lecture me again you can forget it. It’s late and I’m tired.”
“I’m not,” he assured her. Thanks to his long legs, it took him all of five strides to be at her bedside. “I just wanted to tell you I’m sorry. I shouldn’t push you like that.”
“You shouldn’t, but I know why you do.” She sat up, securing her towel tightly. “One day maybe I will find somebody. Maybe even have a family. Right now though. Right now I just can’t think of things like that. Ben did a number on me, Matt. I can’t just forgive, forget and move on just like that. I need time.”
“The nightmares are back, aren’t they?” His eyes begged her to tell him different, but he already knew she couldn’t.
“I had one last night.”
Matt’s green eyes shot to a scar just visible above the fold of the towel. Nicholas looked closer. Anger rose when he realized it was in the shape of the heel of a boot. The son of a bitch had stomped on her chest so hard he’d left an imprint. How could he have missed that the night before?
“Does it still hurt? Your chest I mean.” For months after the attack she’d told him it felt like needles were constantly being shoved through her chest. Even after x-rays and MRI’s none of the doctors could say why. “They did say it wo-”
“Not as much anymore,” she said covering the spot quickly. “I’m really tired, Matt. Can we have this talk some other time?”
“Nah, we don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.” He leaned over and kissed her forehead. “I wasn’t kidding when I said I was sorry. As much as I hate seeing you this way, its time I learned to accept that this is the way things are for you.”
“Thank you.” She wanted to say more, but tears of relief had choked off the words.
“None necessary,” he said. “I should’ve accepted things a long time ago.”
Alana laid back and stared up at the ceiling. Leave it to him to knock the relaxed feeling right out of her. Her brother always means well, but he never will understand exactly how much his questions hurt. Physical pain is all he sees. The emotional scars are the ones that run the deepest for her. The scar on her chest was nothing compared to the scar she now wore on her soul.
Suddenly a feeling of security settled over her. It covered her with the warmth of a freshly dried blanket. Nicholas had crawled into bed unseen beside her. His power of persuasion tricking her mind. She couldn’t remember what she’d been thinking. It was unpleasant; that she could recall, but as to what the thought was specifically she had not a clue.
Nicholas placed his cool hand on her cheek slowly taking her memories and etching them into his. She would never forget the pain of her brutal attack, but he could make them harder to remember.