Read Sweet burden Online

Authors: K L Ogden

Sweet burden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

sweet burden

 

 

 

 

 

K. L. Ogden

 

 

 

 

 

 

The events portrayed in this book are fictitious.

Any similarity to persons, living or dead, is coincidental

and not intended by the author.

 

 

Sweet Burden

 

Copyright © 2012 by Kristi L. Ogden

 

First eBook edition February 2012

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

 

 

sweet burden

 

K. L. Ogden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To my mother,

 

for always believing in me.

 

And my friends and family,

 

for never letting me quit.

 

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

 

 

 

 Chapter 1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The alarm screamed in Hitomi’s ear. The repetitive beeps causing her to squeeze her eyes shut and smack the plastic box. She took a deep breath and rolled over toward the wall. Slowly opening her eyes, she stared at the dull blue of her bedroom. The room was dark and the tapping of rain against her window could be heard. There was a deep crack of thunder and she sat up quickly. The room lit up with a bright flash of lightning. It felt as though the storm was hovering right over her house.

 

There was a light knock on the door and then it creaked open letting in a flood of light from the hallway.

 

“Hitomi? Are you awake?”

 

Her mother’s silhouette appeared in the doorway blocking half the light. The outline of Regina Beaumann’s hair was the only thing that made her recognizable. She had long brunette locks, but always kept them gathered in a tight bun on top of her head. Hitomi rubbed her eyes as they began to adjust and noticed her mother had her scrubs on. Her mother worked as a nurse at the local hospital and most of the time pulled double shifts, leaving Hitomi home alone often.

 

“Yup,” she nodded. “Heading to work or just getting home?”

 

“Heading. Now get up sleepyhead before you are late again.” She quietly shut the door as there was another crack of thunder so loud the window shook. Hitomi fell back onto her pillows dreading pulling back the covers and loathing the idea of another day of high school.

 

After forcing herself to get up she pulled on her jeans that lay on the floor and rummaged through drawers to find a t-shirt. She slipped on her sneakers and buttoned up a cardigan over a t-shirt depicting a beach resort. She had never been to the beach. Actually, she had never been anywhere outside of Beach Village, Ohio. Hitomi couldn’t help but think when they moved there when she was a baby that Regina thought there was actually supposed to be sand and an ocean. But there wasn’t. There wasn’t anything in Beach Village.

 

Hitomi secured her long hair into a ponytail and grabbed her backpack as there was a blaring honk from the driveway. Opening the bedroom door she stuck her head out into the hallway.

 

“Mom! Tell Kerry I will be right out!”

 

She hurried around the room grabbing keys, wallet and a cell phone. There was another short honk and she realized her mom had probably already left. She ran downstairs and out into the rain. It was cold out. Unseasonably cold and she immediately wished she had grabbed a jacket. Hitomi plopped down into the warm velour of Kerry’s passenger seat quickly pulling the door shut.

 

“About time Hitomi. We’re going to be late,” Kerry smiled and backed out of the drive. Kerry was her best friend since grade school. She was the lucky one graced with curves, gorgeous blond hair, and rich chocolate eyes. Not to mention a car and a boyfriend. She felt a twinge of jealousy towards her friend. Hitomi was the exact opposite of her, long straight brownish-blond hair that always just hung there and not much in the curve department. She was barely 5’4” and built like a pole. The only thing going for her was the blue of her eyes, which Kerry described as the color of the ocean. There was another twinge of jealousy. Kerry had been to the ocean.

 

“We’re always late,” Hitomi rolled her eyes and dug through her pack hoping she had remembered everything.

 

“We arenotturning around if you forgot anything,” Kerry laughed, knowing Hitomi too well.  “You’re coming with Shane and I tonight, aren’t you?”

 

Hitomi shrugged. “I haven’t asked my mom yet. So, probably no.” Her mother had always been protective of her. Hitomi chalked it up to the fact she was an only child and her mother had never married, but now she was almost 18 and was beginning to expect a little bit of freedom.

 

“Oh, c’mon. She has to let you out of the house sometime.”

 

“Not according to her,” Hitomi sighed and leaned back deep into the seat. She glanced out the window and up into the sky. It was sinister and caused her to shiver. The cold was affecting her more lately, as if the chill was creeping into her body and trying to take over.

 

Within a few minutes the car pulled into the school lot. They were one of the last cars to pull in forcing them to park near the back with the freshman. Hitomi dug through her pack again searching for an umbrella.

 

Damn.She had left it by the front door. Kerry was already out of the car hurrying towards the building with her umbrella hovering over her head. Hitomi swung the door open and secured her pack on her shoulder. She hung her head down starting after Kerry as she concentrated on pacing her steps quickly and not the thunderous sky looming overhead.

 

Once inside, the school lights flickered with promise of a power outage. Hitomi combed her fingers through her ponytail and tried to brush any water from her.

 

“Ladies, finally,” a deep voice boomed with a laugh. Hitomi glanced up as Kerry practically bounced into the arms of her boyfriend. She turned away from the couple trying to fight off another twinge of jealousy. Shane Noble was as good as boyfriends could get. He was tall and muscular. Hitomi let out a slight huff.Okay, Shane is more like a Scandinavian god.She shook her head and turned back to them forcing a toothless smile. They were quite perfect for each other; blond god and goddess. And there stood Hitomi, plain and alone. The bell rang and they hurried off to their classes.

 

After school, the weather had decided to calm. Glad that she left a jacket in her gym locker, Hitomi pulled it on and headed for the doors. She walked outside to the clouds releasing a misting of water. Again she shivered. But this time it was from the odd sensation that she was being watched. She felt eyes burning into her skull. Hitomi looked around trying to spot the origin of the creepy feeling. There was no one even looking at her. Most everyone had left for the day, while she had struggled with the lock on her locker.


Page 2

 

Shrugging it off as paranoia, she practically stepped in front of Shane pulling up in his midnight blue Bronco with Kerry in the front seat. The car let out a squeal from the tires.

 

“What are you doing Hitomi? Trying to get yourself hurt?” Kerry yelled at her out the open window.

 

“Sorry, I was just…”What were you exactly doing?“thinking,” Hitomi finished.

 

“Well, do you want a ride? I’m going to go with Shane, but we can drop you off.” Kerry gave her a warning look to say ‘no’.

 

“Yah, c’mon,” Shane motioned behind Kerry in the driver’s seat.

 

Hitomi shook her head. “Nah. I’ll walk. But thanks.” Shane gave a shrug and Kerry mouthed ‘thank you’. “Can you pick me up later though?”

 

“Are you coming with us?” Kerry beamed.

 

“Yah. I think I could use a Friday night out. Mom will just have to deal with it.”

 

“Okay. We’ll see you at nine then,” Shane gave her a wink and they pulled out of the lot.

 

Hitomi let out a loud sigh and started walking. It really wasn’t a long walk and she decided she could use the time to think. The wind had picked up and she tightened the jacket around her. Her hair whipped around behind her and her fingers started to hurt from the cold. She wanted to kick herself for not taking the ride offered, but she knew that Shane’s parents weren’t home after school and Kerry was eager to get to his house.

 

A blast of frigid air suddenly swirled around her causing her to stop and shake. Hitomi felt the gaze on her again.Is someone following me?She trembled not wanting to turn around but sensing that someone or something was there. Her heart began to pick up speed. She was starting believe herself to be crazy. She wanted to turn around and prove herself right. But she was also scared she’d prove herself wrong. Rubbing her hands together, Hitomi leaned down and pretended to fix the laces on her shoe. She closed her eyes slowly turning her head and then quickly opened them. She abruptly stood up and turned around. There was no one there. The wind howled and the rain started to pick up again. Satisfied that shewasgoing crazy, she picked up her pace and rushed home.

 

She passed a few neighborhood stores and hurried through the park. The small white house sat across the park with a perfect view of the slide and swingsets. In the summer she would spend hours in the recreational area taking photos. These days the amount of summer days was growing shorter and shorter. She passed by the bus stop bench and hastily carried herself across the street and up her front steps.

 

Once inside, Hitomi couldn’t help but peek out through the curtains in the living room out to the street. She glanced up and down both sides, but saw nothing. The rain was falling harder now and she lay down on the couch happy that she was not soaking wet.

 

Hitomi faintly heard the beeping of her cell phone indicating there was a message. Sitting up in the dark room, she wiped the sleep from her eyes and turned to the clock on the DVD player.8:30!She scrambled up from the couch catching her toe on the leg of the coffee table.

 

“Damn it!” she yelled, hobbling over to her back pack on the floor by the door. Three missed calls all from Kerry. She flipped on the light and hit send on her phone, then went up to her room.

 

“Where have you been? I was getting ready to call the police!” Kerry said with worry in her voice.

 

“I fell asleep on the couch.” Hitomi stripped off her jeans and started to pick through her closet.

 

“Are you ready to go?”

 

“Umm.” Hitomi frowned at her options. “I will be.”

 

“Wear something tight and black,” Kerry giggled.

 

“Sure. Ididjust get back from Whores ‘r Us.”

 

“Enough sarcasm Hitomi. I’ll bring something for you then. Be there in a bit.” Kerry had hung up and Hitomi closed her phone. She walked over to her vanity and sat down. Pondering why she hadn’t started to fill out a bit, she started to put on a bit of make-up knowing that Kerry would add to it when she got there.

 

“See, it fits perfect,” Kerry said as she lay on Hitomi’s bed moments later.

 

Hitomi turned in the mirror. “My butt is practically hanging out.” The black pleated mini skirt and black tight t-shirt left more skin uncovered than she was comfortable with. “And my legs are going to freeze.” The fishnet stockings left little to the imagination.

 

“That’s why I brought you my boots.” Kerry held them out to her and Hitomi slipped them on lacing them up to her knees. The boots easily gave her another inch of height. She looked at herself in the mirror again. “You look great,” Kerry nodded behind her.

 

“I look like a hooker.”

 

“Perfect! We’re going to a club, not a library.” Kerry had already painted up Hitomi’s eyes with black eyeliner and mascara; the outfit completed the whole transformation.

 

Great. I’m a goth-reject.Hitomi shrugged to herself and Kerry pulled her out of the room. She left her mother a note and they were off to Club Scarlet.

 

“So, I wanted to tell you that Bradley was asking about you today. He’s going to be there tonight,” Kerry said leaning over the back of the passenger seat.

 

Hitomi tugged at the skirt trying to pull it down a bit and glanced up at her. “Why was he asking aboutme?”

 

“He’s got the hots for you. And dressed like that, he won’t be able to keep his hands off you tonight.”

 

“I don’t like Bradley.” Hitomi continued to struggle with the skirt.

 

Kerry rolled her eyes. “Give him a chance. He’s nice.”

 

“Maybe Hitomi doesn’t want a nice guy. Maybe she wants a bad boy,” Shane mused as he gave her a smirk in the rearview mirror.

 

Hitomi sunk into the backseat bench. “I don’t know what I want,” she said under her breath. The rest of the ride consisted of Shane and Kerry arguing over what to listen to on the radio. Hitomi wanted to tell them about the odd sensation she had been having of being watched, but she knew that Kerry would start going on about something paranormal and Shane would shrug it off as paranoia and then joke that maybe she had a stalker. Needless to say, she kept her mouth shut and listened to their argument over hard rock or club music.

 

 

 

They only had to wait a short time to get into Club Scarlet. Shane seemed to know every important person within a thirty mile radius, and that included the bouncer for Club Scarlet. Hitomi scurried past the overweight tattooed man, holding onto Kerry’s arm. The club was bathed in red and the dance floor was lit up by the occasional flashes of strobe lighting. On the dance floor, Hitomi could only make out various moving shapes clad in fake leather and chains. The light reflected off the black shiny material and the silver glistened every time it flashed. The club smelled like sweat and alcohol and her feet stuck to the floor with every step.

 

“Pretty cool, huh?” Kerry yelled as they followed Shane to the bar. Hitomi just gave a nod trying not to get lost in the sea of people. Once at the bar Shane handed them each a drink and Hitomi took a sip fully expecting some sort of alcohol, but was surprised to find it just a simple sparkling water with lime. They moved over towards the wall and found an empty red velvet couch near the dance floor. Hitomi yanked on her skirt again as she sat down, careful to keep her knees together. She looked around at all the people feeling incredibly out of place. Her Friday nights were usually spent either doing homework or pouring over photography books.

 

Hitomi held the straw of her drink in between her teeth when she felt the shiver of someone’s eyes again. People were glancing over at her, but no one was outright staring. Her body shook so hard that her glass fell out of her grip and crashed to the floor.

 

“You okay Hitomi?” Kerry nudged her with her eyebrows furrowed in concern.

 

“Yah, yah. Sorry.” Hitomi blinked hard and shook her head. “I’ll be back. Just going to run to the bathroom.” Without waiting for directions from Kerry, Hitomi got up and started pushing through the people still feeling the gaze on her. She was hoping to escape it within the walls of the ladies’ room. She felt panicked and rushed not paying attention to where exactly she was going. The place and lights made her dizzy. Just as she had broken through a large group of people into a somewhat open area, she tripped over someone’s foot. Hitomi quickly put her hands out in front of her to try to soften her fall on the concrete, when she felt an arm around her waist and a hand on her back.

 

Whoever it was had caught her and she stumbled back upright to reclaim her balance. The boy removed his arm around her and rested his hands on her shoulders.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked.

 

Hitomi straightened out non-existing wrinkles in her clothes and nodded. “Yes. Thank you.”

 

“You should watch where you’re going. If you end up on the floor, you might not get back up,” the boy chuckled.

 

She shivered again and raised head up to look at the boy who had saved her from another skinned knee. He looked incredibly out of place in the club, dressed in jeans, black t-shirt, and sneakers. His hair was hidden by a grey beanie. Then Hitomi gasped taking a step back from him. His eyes were as crimson as blood.

 

His hands dropped to his sides. “Maybe you should sit down.”

 

“Your eyes…” she mumbled and then clasped her hand over her mouth. The music was still loud in the side area and she wasn’t sure if he had heard her. Slowly a grin crept up the left side of his mouth.

 

“Contacts,” he winked. “You should get back to your friends.”

 

“Um, yah.” Hitomi felt like a bumbling fool, fidgeting and staring. “Thanks again…” she pressed for a name.

 

He continued to smirk, “You’re welcome, Hitomi.” He turned and disappeared into the crowd.

 

Hitomi spun around searching for him but immediately lost sight of him. Her jaw had dropped.How did he know my name?She shuddered again. Maybe he hadn’t said her name. It was very loud and she could have misheard him. She closed her mouth and pushed back through the people back to the couch where Kerry and Shane had been. The couch sat empty, only their drink glasses left as evidence that they had been there. She scanned the dance floor but couldn’t find them. Desperate to find them or the beanie boy she stood up on the couch and scanned the crowd. Finally she spotted the bright glow of Shane’s hair during a blast of light. He was over at the bar again, but she didn’t see Kerry.

 

“Hitomi? What are you doing?” Kerry appeared below her.

 

“There you are.” Hitomi dropped down to the floor and plopped back down on the couch. Kerry sat down next to her. 

 

“You’re shaking. What happened?”

 

“I’ve been having these weird feelings that someone is watching me,” Hitomi sighed and went into the entire story of her walk home and the odd boy she met by the restrooms. She still felt like there was some sort of presence around her. Kerry launched into ghost stories just as Hitomi had predicted, stating that a strong paranormal entity must be around her.

 

Hitomi pushed her hair away from her face and just let Kerry continue to talk. She knew that is wasn’t some ghost following her around. She didn’t believe in ghosts. This was a person. It was a person that followed her and watched her. As Kerry rambled on, Hitomi adjusted her top and glanced at her shoulder. She yanked at the neck of the shirt and saw a red handprint left on her skin. She hadn’t felt burned and it didn’t hurt, but it was definitely a handprint. Ignoring Kerry now, she looked at her other shoulder seeing an identical mark. Her head shot up as she looked for the boy.Is he the one following me?


Page 3

 

Hitomi adjusted her shirt, not wanting to share the new revelations with Kerry. The rest of the night, Hitomi searched for the boy. When Bradley had approached her later in the evening, she brushed him off and continued to weave her way in and out of people.

 

After Shane dropped Hitomi off at home, she rushed up to her room to strip off the goth gear and hide it. She put on her pajamas and then went to the mirror to inspect the handprints more. She gasped when she saw they were gone. She curled up on her bed with her laptop, but couldn’t help but think of the night. The boy’s hands hadn’t felt hot or cold. But she felt herself tremble in his presence. Maybe Kerry was right and he was some sort of spirit following her. She shook her head at the notion.

 

The sound of the car pulling in the driveway brought Hitomi away from her thoughts. Hitomi put her laptop on the floor and shut off the light only minutes before her mother came in to check on her. She had just arrived home and had no idea that Hitomi had even been out. Hitomi pretended to be asleep as her mother closed the door.  As soon as the door was closed again, Hitomi leaned over the edge of her bed and grabbed her laptop. Maybe there was something that could explain it on the internet.

 Chapter 2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cavern was dark, except for a flicker of light emanating from a single candle. Outside the cavern opening, voices could be heard talking in groups. A figure rested on a makeshift bed, his head leaning against the cool grey rock. Someone pulled back the thick fabric covering the entrance and entered, letting in a stream of yellow and green light. The colors quickly faded as the fabric fell back down.

 

“There’s a new list,” the short portly figure stated. The small minion fidgeted stroking his white beard that seemed to glow in the darkness.

 

Slowly the figure on the bed opened his eyes revealing red glowing orbs. Any other features were hidden in shadow. He turned to the minion and motioned for him to come closer. He took apprehensive steps towards the silent figure. Once bedside, the thick paper was snatched from the minion and quickly he dismissed him with a wave of the hand. The small man bowed and scurried out of the room.

 

The figure stood revealing his lean muscular body. His crimson eyes scanned the list and he let out a yawn. Laying the list next to the candle, he relaxed back against the rock for a nap before heading out for the night.

 

****

 

The weekend had passed by with nearly a blink. Hitomi found herself up Monday morning late again. She dressed quickly realizing that she had slept through her alarm and Kerry’s horn honking. Even though her cell phone was dead, she threw it in her bag while slipping on her shoes. She rushed downstairs to find a note from her mother reiterating that she would be home late that night and had left early. Hitomi pulled on a jacket and remembered to grab an umbrella.

 

She practically ran the entire way to school and was surprised to find herself barely late. The first bell rang as she rushed towards the entrance. Not concentrating on her steps, she tripped on a crack splattering to the pavement as her back pack knocked her on the back of her head. Her head and hands scraped across the concrete.

 

Hitomi winced as she sat up. Holding her fingers to her forehead, she pulled her hand down revealing blood. She brushed the dirt and blood from her hands against her jeans and then noticed the gash in her jeans and her knee. Letting out a defeated sigh, she pulled herself up from the ground and went directly into the bathroom to attempt to fix herself up.

 

In first period, Hitomi got scolded in front of the class by Mr. Bardall for being lateagain. When she was finally able to take her seat, Kerry leaned over to her.

 

“You look like hell,” Kerry smiled.

 

Hitomi’s lips tightened and she gave Kerry a glance with the undertone of ‘don’t ask.’

 

“Where were you this morning? I sat outside and honked until your neighbor threatened to call the cops.”

 

“I couldn’t wake up,” Hitomi mumbled.

 

“Still being followed by a ghost?” she changed the subject.

 

“I didn’t really sense anything the rest of the weekend, but I don’t really think it’s a ghost,” Hitomi shrugged.

 

“Maybe you have a secret admirer,” Kerry raised her eyebrows.

 

“Ladies, since you are wasting my time, I will waste yours. Detention tonight Ms. Beaumann and Ms. Belden,” Mr. Bardall said loudly. Kerry and Hitomi both sunk down in their seats.

 

At lunch time, Hitomi avoided the lunch room and went to the school nurse. She was going to get her cuts cleaned up and bandaged, but upon the nurse’s observation, none of the cuts or scrapes looked to be bad. The nurse even asked her if they had happened over the weekend, instead of just a few hours ago.

 

After detention, Kerry drove her home and Hitomi sacked out on her bed. She pulled open her school books and started on homework.  Later she made dinner and put the leftovers in the refrigerator for her mother, then headed upstairs for a bath. She went into her room and started to undress when she heard a loud bang on the roof above her room. Hitomi grabbed her robe and pulled it on as she turned to the window. Realizing she had forgotten to draw the curtains, she walked over to the window and peered outside. The streets were practically empty. She closed the curtains and started back to the door figuring she had imagined the noise.

 

Abruptly feeling an overwhelming sensation she was not alone, the hairs on the back of her neck stood and she spun back around. Everything was in its place. There was nothing out of the ordinary. Hitomi shook her head and went to take her bath convinced she was losing her mind.

 

****

 

The dark figure paced back and forth on the roof of the white house. Pushing his shaggy black hair from his face, he took a seat and pulled the paper from his pocket. Black lines were drawn across names, only one name visible at the bottom.Hitomi Beaumann.

 

He stuffed the list back into the pocket of his jeans and lay back on the roof resting his hands behind his head. Staring up at the sky, he waited to hear the girl re-enter her room. The sky was a vicious black and faint cracks of thunder could be heard in the distance. It wasn’t long until a car pulled into the driveway. He sat up in a crouch and watched a woman wearily walk into the house. Leaning over the edge of the roof, the girl’s bedroom light went out.

 

Waiting until the woman went to bed, he entered the house. Picking locks was something he had become accustomed to. He silently shut the door and crept up the stairs, stopping to examine a few photos. Calculating exactly which door was the girl’s, he carefully twisted the handle and stepped into the room. He was immediately filled with her scent and the overload caused him to take a step back. He could taste honey and vanilla pouring from her skin.

 

He swallowed hard and entered the room. The girl lay silent and motionless in front of him. He took a few steps closer and saw the slow rise and fall of the blankets. A few more steps and he heard the sound of her breathing. He felt himself being drawn towards her as if she had her own gravitational pull. Now standing over her, he couldn’t look away from her. Her golden hair cascaded around her face. She had prominent rosy cheeks and full cherry lips. He knelt down next to her taking in another deep breath of her scent. No one had ever had such a compelling smell to him before.

 

He continued to watch her sleep as he sat back and rested his chin in his hand. Confusion flooded his mind. He had never been drawn to human before. Without even considering what he was doing, he reached up and meant to brush a wisp of hair away from her face. The second he touched her, he felt a shock of heat burn his fingertip. He pulled his hand away as the heat traveled throughout his entire hand and started up his arm.

 

The girl let out a small sigh and he rushed from the room.

 

Arriving back in his cavern, the warmth had moved through his entire body. He sat on the edge of his bed and stared at his hands as they shook. He wasn’t sure what the girl had done to him or what power she possessed. His stomach turned and knotted. He dropped his head into his hands and tightened his fingers in his hair.

 

His room lit up as someone pulled back the fabric and entered.

 

“Done already?” a boy asked.

 

“She did something to me,” his voice waivered and he lifted his head. “Guri, I don’t feel right.”

 

Guri stepped closer and took off his grey beanie revealing a mass of silver hair. He attempted to smooth out his knotted hair and knelt down in front of him. “Her, who? What happened?”

 

His chest ached with a raw burning sensation and he couldn’t even bring himself to say her name out loud. “I feel like my insides are ripping in half.”

 

“What happened?” Guri asked with more demand.

 

“All I did was touch her. She was sleeping and I touched her. I couldn’t stop myself.”

 

He noticed a hint of a smile cross Guri’s mouth, but quickly it was gone. “Just get some sleep. You should be alright. You can take care of her tomorrow.” Guri forced him to lie down.

 

“But the council? The list?”

 

“Tomorrow,” Guri repeated. “Get some rest Obsidian.” Guri left the room and Obsidian thought he heard Guri mutter. “You’re going to need it.”

 

He shook his head and rolled over in his bed.What have you gotten yourself into Obsidian?His insides continued to wage war until it finally subsided and he was able to drift off to sleep.

 

When he awoke hours later, the girl was the first thing he thought of. He needed to take care of her immediately, but more he just wanted to see her again.

 

****

 

“How’d you do on the math test?” Kerry asked as she and Hitomi walked out of school.

 

“Terrible, I’m sure,” Hitomi sighed rubbing a spot on her forehead that had hurt all day. She had checked in a mirror in the morning and nothing was there, not even a mark. But it felt sore and she had been exhausted all day.

 

“How could you do terrible? All you do is study,” Kerry nudged her as Hitomi let her gaze drift up to the sky.

 

The clouds had parted for the day and there was even a slight glimpse of the sun. She smiled as the sun hit her face and she closed her eyes feeling the heat. When she opened her eyes back up, she saw a guy sitting on the ledge of the school roof.

 

“Kerry.” She looked over at her friend and pointed up. “Do you see…?” Hitomi peered back up and the guy was gone.

 

“See what?” Kerry tilted her head back.

 

“It was nothing. Nevermind. It must just be my imagination,” Hitomi said unconvinced and smiled at Kerry.

 

“Maybe it was your ghost,” Kerry wrapped her arm around her and gave her a squeeze. “Do you need a ride?”

 

“Um, no. I think I’ll walk.”

 

“Call me later,” Kerry kissed her cheek and hurried off into the parking lot.

 
Page 4

“Bye,” Hitomi mumbled and sat down on one of the benches outside the entrance. She adjusted her back pack and glanced back up to the top of the building. She swore she saw a guy up there seconds ago. Staring at the roof, she squint her eyes spotting an odd red sparkle. With a blink it was gone. Someone had to be up there and maybe it was the source of her odd feelings lately. But she wasn’t feeling the eeriness from previously.

 

Not really considering what she might encounter, Hitomi rushed back into the building and started up the steps that accessed the roof. The lock to the roof door had been broken for years, so she knew she would have no trouble once at the top. Her legs burned as she hauled herself up. Once at the top, she swung the door open to the roof and stepped out. Catching her foot on the door’s lip, she tripped and fell to the ground.

 

Hitomi let out an irritated, “Hmph.” She stood up and dusted herself off, then glanced around. “Hello?” she called out. “Is anyone up here?” She placed her back pack in the doorway just in case the door happened to lock and walked over towards the ledge. “Hello? If you’re up here, show yourself.”

 

****

 

 

 

Obsidian stood with is arms crossed leaning against the ledge facing the girl. His eyes were wide with shock that she had sensed him. Obviously, she still was unable to see him staring right at her. But she had seen something or sensed something to cause her to come to the roof. Obsidian silently cursed himself for being careless with his invisibility. He brushed his hair from his eyes as she neared him.

 

“Hello?” she called out again with a sense of defeat.

 

He stood perfectly still as she moved beside him, but couldn’t help but let out a slight gasp noticing her sapphire eyes. They reflected the color of the bluest oceans. He closed his eyes as her hair blew in the wind and he inhaled her scent. The ends of her hair whipped in his face and he found himself longing to touch her again.

 

She leaned against the ledge and looked down. She made a slight hum as if she was confirming a thought in her head. He looked sideways at her as she pulled a cell phone out of her pocket.  She gave a dismayed look at the time and turned back around. If Obsidian had been smart, he would have taken the opportunity to move a few inches from her. She came within millimeters of touching him. He wanted her to accidentally touch him. He wanted her to know he was there watching her.

 

She hurried through the door and it slammed shut. Obsidian let out a sigh and turned around to watch her leave the building below.

 

****

 

When Hitomi arrived home, her mother’s car was in the driveway. She was surprised to see her home and she rushed into the house.

 

“Hitomi, is that you?” Regina called from the kitchen.

 

“Who else would it be?” Hitomi replied dropping her bag by the front door and walking into the bright kitchen. The room was spacious with a small table for two. The cabinets were painted in a once vivid yellow that had faded over time. The countertops were littered with all the modern day small appliances.

 

Regina Beaumann stood at the sink munching on something and reading over a letter. She was still dressed in her blue scrub pants and a scrub top depicting numerous pictures of butterflies and flowers. Her brunette hair secured tightly on top of her head, she barely noticed Hitomi walk into the room.

 

“Mom, what are you doing home?”

 

“I just came home early.” Regina folded up the letter and turned to her daughter. “How was school?”

 

“It was just school,” Hitomi replied with a shrug. Although her mother was protective of her, she was never one for prying. There was no reason to worry her mother with the suspicions that someone was following her.

 

“So, how about a girls’ night? We can watch a silly movie and eat popcorn,” her mother suggested as she leaned back against the counter and folded her arms. “We hardly spend any time together.”

 

“I’ve got homework.”

 

“Okay. After your homework.” A smile spread across her mother’s face.

 

Not wanting to disappoint her, Hitomi nodded. “Alright.”

 

Regina moved across the kitchen to Hitomi and planted a kiss on her forehead. “Is everything okay? You seem a little jumpy.”

 

“I’m fine,” she lied. “I just have a lot of homework to do.”

 

“Anything I can help you with? I’m pretty good with math,” her mother gave her a nudge.

 

“English and History?”

 

Regina laughed, “You’re on your own.” She moved around Hitomi and left the kitchen. Hitomi grabbed a can of soda and went up to her room. Tossing her bag onto the bed, she sat down at her desk and opened her laptop. She really didn’t have any homework for the night. She clicked the icon for the internet and typed ‘ghosts’ into the browser box.      

 

After reading many definitions of ghosts and clicking through dozens of photos of supposed ghosts, Hitomi’s eyes widened as she opened up a website dedicated to ghosts and angels.Angels. Is that what I could be sensing?

 

She hadn’t realized she had been looking up information for over three hours, until her mother poked her head in the doorway and asked her to run to the store for a few items for dinner. She bookmarked the website and shut her computer.

 

Hitomi shoved the grocery list into her pocket along with money and started down the sidewalk. The market was only a few blocks away and Hitomi enjoyed the warmer air that was passing through. She glanced up at the sky as it darkened for evening and was surprised to see a few stars. She hadn’t been able to see the stars for weeks.

 

Inside the store, she picked up pasta, chicken, and some sauce. Apparently they had nothing at the house that her mother wanted for dinner. Hitomi picked up a few sweets for dessert and snacks for movie night. After paying, she gathered up the bags and started home. The street was quiet, only a few cars parked on the curb and a man leaning against the outside of the store. She adjusted the bags in her grasp, when she heard steps behind her.

 

She felt fear again as she stopped. The steps stopped. She glanced behind her and saw the man from outside the store peering at a parked car and fumbling in his jacket apparently looking for his keys. Hitomi let out a deep breath and shook her head, almost laughing at her new paranoia. She started walking again, but the footsteps behind her continued. Her eyes widened as she picked up her pace. Her heart began to pound. She looked around at the empty street and paused. Hitomi’s body tensed as the steps halted. She wasn’t sure if she should scream, but she was convinced that no one would even hear her. She squeezed the bags in her arms and closed her eyes.

 

“Everything alright honey?” a man’s voice said behind her. Hitomi spun around and faced the man. He was a tall husky man that she was almost sure she could outrun.

 

“Yah, fine.” She faked a smile and turned back around to another man standing in front of her only a few feet away.

 

“You sure are pretty,” the shorter lanky man snickered. He rubbed his chin as his mouth curved slyly.

 

“Just leave me alone,” Hitomi rose her voice, but it still waivered practically announcing her fear.

 

The man behind her cackled and she heard him coming closer. The man in front of her shook his head. “I’m afraid we just can’t do that love.” He took a step towards her.

 

Hitomi screamed and pushed the bags towards him. Without waiting to see if they hit him, she took off running. She squeezed between two parked cars and ran across the street. She could hear their thunderous steps trailing her.

 

“Come back sweetie. We’ll only hurt you a little bit,” the larger man yelled.

 

“Don’t make promises,” the second man hooted.

 

The thumping of her heart drowned in her ears as her eyes swelled with tears. She couldn’t believe this was actually happening to her. She tried to see how close they were, when she tripped on the curb and landed hard on the sidewalk. She felt the pain shoot up into her hands and she quickly pulled herself up to her feet. Hitomi began running again up the sidewalk, her lungs aching for air. The pounding of the men’s shoes was getting closer and suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder.

 

Where in the hell is everyone?Hitomi let out another scream as the shorter man pulled her back and muffled her mouth with his hand.  He secured his other arm around her tightly as she squirmed to get away.

 

“It’s no use trying to get away,” the man said pulling her head back against his shoulder. Her nose flared at the smell of whiskey on his breath and she let out a whimper. He tightened his grip more and dragged her back into an alleyway. The stench was horrendous as he pulled her further back into the darkness. She struggled kicking her legs at the strewn trash bags as tears began streaming down her face. The heavier man came into view and walked up to them.

 

“There’s no need to cry,” he said as his face became visible. He gave her a sinister grin and reached up touching her face. “But I do hope you struggle. That always makes it so much more fun.”

 

Hitomi’s eyes widened as she tried for another scream, which was still muffled by the other man’s hand. She struggled against the man and tried to kick at the one in front of her.

 

“Oh, she’ll struggle alright,” the man behind her cackled.

 

The man in front of her leaned forward, his lips at her ear. “Don’t worry. It’ll only hurt for a minute. You might actually enjoy it.” He rubbed his head against hers and Hitomi let out a squeal. She squeezed her eyes shut as his fingers began fumbling with the buttons on her shirt.

 

Hitomi couldn’t believe what was happening to her. She felt her shirt being pulled back and her skin exposed, when there was a loud series of thuds.

 

“Daryl? Daryl?” the man holding her yelled. “What’s going on? Who’s there?” The man let her go and pushed her down into a pile of trash bags. She couldn’t bear to open her eyes as she grasped at the edges of her shirt pulling it across her. She held her shirt closed with one hand and covered her eyes with the other as she sobbed.

 

She heard the second man yelp, another series of thuds and something that sounded like skin dragging on pavement. Hitomi curled herself into a ball as her entire body shook. She had been released, but she couldn’t bring herself to move.

 

It was quiet for a few moments until she heard another dull thud and then footsteps approaching her. They stopped beside her, but she couldn’t bring herself to lift her head.

 

“Please leave me alone,” she whimpered.

 

“Are you alright?” a voice asked. Hitomi shivered and brought her head up. Through blurry eyes, she glimpsed a hand outstretched to her.

 

“I’ll be fine,” Hitomi mumbled in between sniffles and shudders while trying to make out who the hand was connected to. She wiped away her tears and saw a boy standing there. He was tall and slender, but his face was hidden in shadows.

 

“You should get out of this alley,” he pushed his hand closer to her, motioning with his fingers to come with him.

 

Apprehensively, she stretched her hand out and placed it in his. Instantly her crying ceased and he pulled her up from the ground. Hitomi felt a sense of calm wash over her. She steadied herself on her feet and tightened her grip on her shirt.

 

“Are you sure you’re alright?” he questioned.


Page 5

 

She looked down at herself. She had been terrified, but had not been physically hurt. Her gaze shifted to their hands still clasped together and she nodded. Hitomi lifted her head to see him as he squeezed her hand, but then he quickly let go and turned away from her.

 

“You should fix your shirt,” he motioned glancing at her, but then turning away again.

 

“Oh,” Hitomi brought her hand back, feeling embarrassed, and buttoned up her shirt. “Um, thank you for saving me.”

 

“Don’t thank me,” he grumbled and shook his head. “What were you thinking walking around alone?” He sounded angry at her.

 

“I just…I was just running to the store. Or back from the store, I guess. I’ve done it a million times before…”

 

“Don’t do it again,” he huffed and completely turned his back on her. He started to walk towards the street. “Go home.”

 

“Wait,” she hurried after him, stumbling over unseen things at her feet.

 

He stopped at the beginning of the alleyway, but did not turn. “What?”

 

“What happened to those two men?” she stepped up behind him. She had the most incredible urge to put his hand on his shoulder and spin him around. From the lights of the street, she could now at least make out his shaggy hair which was as black as the sky on a moonless night. 

 

“Are you really concerned with them?” he turned his face to the side and glanced at her. She was barely able to get a good look at him before he turned forward again. “They won’t bother you again.”

 

“Um, okay.” Hitomi fidgeted with her shirt making sure it was buttoned. “Thank you again. I’m Hitomi.”

 

He glanced over his shoulder again, revealing the glow of red eyes. “You’re welcome…Hitomi,” he whispered and rounded the corner disappearing.

 

Hitomi stood there stunned.His eyes…they were glowing red. Actually, glowing.Her mouth opened and closed, trying to formulate words. She hurried to catch him. “Wait!” she rounded the corner expecting to see him. “What’s your…” The boy was gone- vanished. “…name?” she finished in a whisper. She looked up and down the sidewalk, but no one was there.

 

After the incident of the evening, she didn’t want to stand around any longer than necessary. Hitomi rushed across the street and gathered up her bags, then hurried all the way home. She arrived home and plopped the bags down onto the counter. Her mother wasn’t anywhere to be seen.

 

“Mom? Mom?” she called out. When there was no answer she went up to her room, stripped off her clothes and put on her robe. She went into the bathroom and started the shower. She sat down on the edge waiting for the hot water and thought about what had almost happened to her. She thought about whatcouldhave happened to her. But she had been saved.Hehad saved her. She didn’t even know whohewas. His hand had been warm and his touch calming. His hair was as black as midnight and his red eyes glowed with fierceness. But not even that scared her from him.

 

Hitomi shook her head and stepped into the shower. She hadn’t been able to clearly see his face. She wished she had seen his face. Now sheneededto see his face.

 

****

 

 

 

Obsidian peered down at her from the roof as she searched for him below. His chest was rising and falling rapidly from his interaction with her. His fists clenched tightly digging fingernails into his palms. He could still smell Hitomi’s fear in the air and the salt of her tears burned his tongue. He gritted his teeth in pure rage as he gave a sideways glance at the dead bodies of the men next to him.

 

He was never going to be able to explain his actions to the council and he would pay dearly for the slaying of two humans not on the list. There weren’t many rules to abide by, but sticking to the lists was one of them. Among the few other rules was no fraternizing with humans. Obsidian turned his gaze back to the girl as she hurried down the sidewalk. He looked back at the dead bodies and couldn’t help but smirk. Figuring he’d dispose of them later, he brushed his hair out of his eyes and started following Hitomi. For her, he was willing to break some rules.

 

Settling himself on the roof above Hitomi’s room, he dropped his head into his hands. He knew he needed to return and report to the council, but he could not bring himself to leave her quite yet. Besides, her name was on his list and he couldn’t return with an incomplete list. If he returned now, there would be even worse consequences. For now, he still had time to figure out what to do.

 

He watched through the windows as she spent the evening with her mother in the living room and then she went to bed. She hadn’t moved for a few hours, when her mother came into her room and turned off the bedside light. As soon as all the house lights were off, he found himself outside the girl’s bedroom. Obsidian could no longer smell fear, but the scent of vanilla and sugary honey wafted from her room. Opening the door silently, he slid into the room and over to her bed. She was curled up in her bed tangled in the covers with her eyes squeezed tightly shut. The serenity was gone from her face. He knelt down next to her and reached out to touch her, but quickly pulled his hand back.

 

Obsidian had held her hand, but did not feel the same sensation he had felt before. Instead he had felt calmed. He had felt connected to her. He grabbed one of her blankets and pulled it up to cover her shoulders, brushing his fingers against her cheek. He felt the heat of her skin, but still did not feel the scorching that had passed through him previously.

 

He relaxed back on the floor and then leaned forward bringing his face within inches of hers. He took in a deep breath tasting her scent in his mouth, replacing the taste of salt and tears. Obsidian rested his chin on the edge of the bed and watched her. Every time she would exhale, her breath would tickle his nose. He felt as if it had been a lifetime since he had last slept and he found the rhythm of her breathing slowly made him tired. He fought to keep his eyes open, but gradually fell asleep.

 Chapter 3 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She ran as fast as her legs could carry her. Footsteps thundered behind her. She tried to turn, but only saw shadowy figures trailing closely. As she turned forward, there was a bright white light ahead. Her eyes squinted and she stumbled ahead. Sweat fell down the sides of her face. Just as she thought she was about to reach the light, the ground gave out underneath her and she fell into blackness.

 

She hit a hard surface with a thud. The footsteps were gone and she could see nothing in the darkness. She began to tremble as she raised herself up to her knees. The ground beneath her felt like cold sand. She squished her fingers into the sand and stood up.

 

“Hello?” she called out. Her voice echoed and she spun around looking for any bit of light or direction on where to go.

 

“Hitomi?” a voice said.

 

She turned around again and was met with glowing red eyes.

 

“You?” she whispered. “Who are you?”

 

She could see a hand outstretched to her, but his face was shrouded in shadow. Slowly his body came into view. She bit at her bottom lip and put her hand in his. He pulled her from the ground and wrapped his arms around her. She looked up to see his face, but all that was visible were outlines and his eyes.

 

His hands smoothed down her hair and just as his face was coming into view, he disappeared. She was left feeling cold and empty.

 

“Wait!” she screamed as she grasped for his hands unaware of which direction he had gone. She was alone again in the dark. “Please come back!”

 

“Wait!” Hitomi screamed as she sat straight up in bed. Her eyes fluttered open and adjusted to the dim light as she pushed her hair back from her face. Drenched in sweat, she panted while scanning the room. “It was just a dream,” she whispered as she fell back against her pillows. She rolled over on her side and took in a deep breath trying to calm her racing heart. She couldn’t stop thinking about the black haired boy and his hand outstretched to her. She closed her eyes as the scent of rain and fresh pine filled her and she fell back asleep.

 

A few hours later, Hitomi woke up to her alarm. She wiped the sleep from her eyes and looked around her room. Something felt different in her room, it smelled different. She inhaled deeply; the fresh rain and pine smell still filled the room. She noticed that her door was ajar. Figuring her mother had looked in; Hitomi shook her head and got out of bed.

 

Pulling her back pack over her shoulder, she stepped out onto the front steps. It was another sunny day. She tilted her head up drinking in the rays and a smile spread across her face as Kerry’s car turned into the driveway. Kerry honked the horn and Hitomi rolled her eyes. She hurried to the car and hopped in.

 

“You look happy this morning,” Kerry commented shifting into reverse.

 

“It’s the sun. It always makes me feel better.” Hitomi rolled down the window. The air smelled of burning leaves and fresh pumpkin. The leaves were turning brilliant shades of red and gold and they were starting to fall to the ground. The wind whipped through the park as they passed by and Hitomi watched as a cluster of leaves danced to the ground. But she didn’t get to see them hit the grass. Her eyes had suddenly focused on a figure relaxed on the bus stop bench.

 

His legs were stretched out in front of him and crossed at the ankles. His hair was as black as midnight and blew into his eyes. His hands were stuffed into his pockets and his gaze appeared to be staring right at her.

 

Hitomi quickly looked away and sunk down in the seat. Her stomach twisted as she let a gasp escape her lips.

 

“You okay?” Kerry asked.

 

“Um, yah. I just forgot about some homework.” Hitomi shifted in the seat and peeked back up out the window. They had passed the boy and she looked into the side mirror to get another glimpse of him. His posture had changed. He was sitting forward, knees bent, and feet flat on the ground. His elbows rested on his knees and his eyes were following the car. Something about him seemed familiar. He became smaller in the mirror and all Hitomi wanted to do was turn around and go past him again.

 

“Did you see that guy?” Hitomi asked.

 

“A guy?” Kerry raised an eyebrow. “Did you really notice a guy?”

 

“Yah. He was sitting waiting for the bus. Did you see him?”

 

“Sorry. I was, ya know, driving.”

 

“Kerry, you always have a second to notice a hot guy,” Hitomi huffed.

 

“You just said a guy, not a hot guy?” Kerry adjusted her rearview mirror trying to get a look. “I don’t see anyone.”

 

“Well, we’re too far away now.”

 

“Want me to turn around?”

 

Desperately Hitomi wanted to say ‘yes’, but she shook her head. “We’ll be late.”

 

All day, Hitomi could only think of the boy on the bench and the boy that saved her. The boys were beginning to mold into one. The black hair, the lean body…Could they be the same?If they were the same guy, why was he outside her house? It could simply just be a coincidence. But the way that his gaze followed her in the car, it made her stomach twist and knot. Perhaps it was just her wishful thinking that she had seen her savior in the daylight. She was upset at herself for not getting a better look at him. His face had been tilted down hiding any features and she didn’t see his glowing red eyes, but she felt his stare.


Page 6

 

As school ended, Hitomi decided to walk home in the hopes of the boy possibly getting off at the bus stop. She didn’t divulge anything to Kerry, because that would mean going into the story of her…incident. She wasn’t ready to share that yet. Kerry would turn it into some sort ofLifetimemovie when she retold the story. Hitomi wasn’t ready to be the center of some dramatic incident.

 

She walked home quickly with anticipation. She rounded the corner by the flower shop to cut through the park, but decided to take the long way around to purposely get a good look at the bus stop. Hitomi paced herself as the bench came into sight. Instantly she recognized his utterly relaxed body. The black haired boy sat there just as he had that morning.

 

Hitomi’s eyes widened and she stopped abruptly. Her pulse had quickened and suddenly she wanted to turn around and go through the park.

 

“He was the only reason you came this way. You better walk past him and get a good look,”she told herself. She tried to compose herself, wiping her sweaty palms on the hips of her jeans and taking a deep breath. Her feet shuffled forward and she rounded the corner to walkright past him. She kept her eyes down, moving closer to him. She was about six feet away from him when his position instantly shifted. His body went rigid and he sat up. She couldn’t bring herself to look directly at him, instead settling on a sideways glance as she hurriedly walked past him.

 

She rushed across the street and into her house. Shutting the door behind her, she leaned back against it and gasped for air. She hadn’t realized she had been holding her breath. Her body shuddered and Hitomi raced up the stairs to her room.

 

****

 

 

 

Obsidian sat on the bench eagerly awaiting the girl to come home. He knew she had seen him that morning while in the car. A slight bit of recognition had glinted in her eyes and then she hid. It had taken all his effort not to smile as he thought about it. His body was still stiff from the position he had slept in. Luckily the girl had started to stir very early in the morning waking him and he was able to slip out of the house before she awoke. He couldn’t even imagine how she would have reacted to waking and seeing his face inches from hers. He sighed at the thought.

 

He needed to know more about this girl. He needed to know why she suddenly had a pull on him. Obsidian found himself wanting to know everything about her. His thoughts were far away from the council and the punishment that would eventually be handed down to him. Right now, he needed answers. He needed to know this girl.Hitomi.

 

And just as if he had beckoned her, Hitomi’s scent wafted through the air. Every muscle in his body tensed and he sat up. He turned his head to view the girl that was becoming his undoing. She was quite beautiful. Her long honey hair trailed down her back bouncing with every step. She had her eyes turned down, like she was refusing to look at him. Obsidian’s mouth went dry as his eyes followed her. Then she looked at him. It was only a brief glance, but she had definitely looked at him. That small peek confirmed that she was as interested in him as he was with her.

 

Obsidian watched as she rushed to her house and disappeared inside the white building. He quickly took a deep breath as his insides unclenched. He stared at the house wondering what the girl was thinking. Did she feel the connection between them as he did? Was she scared of him? Because he was scared of her. He was frightened of the way she was making him suddenlyfeel.

 

“Who are you, Hitomi?” he whispered into the wind, his gazed locked on the window to her room.

 

****

 

 

 

Hitomi pointed the lens out the window zooming in as much as possible. The lens focused and she realized that he was looking right at her. She ducked down under the windowsill and shook her head at herself.

 

“He’s the one sitting outsidemyhouse,” she told herself, quickly perching herself back up and pointing the lens. He was no longer looking in her direction, but instead looking up at the sky. She took the opportunity to snap a few pictures of him. He was tall and sculpted, from what she could tell, but this was the first time she was getting a decent view of his face. His eyebrows were as dark as his hair with a slight arch. His perfectly symmetrical nose led down to a full set of lips. He had cheek bones and a jaw line that actors and models would have killed for and a slight cleft in his chin.

 

However, she still could not get a good look at his eyes. She snapped a few more pictures and then suddenly his gaze returned to her. There was a small twinkle of red and then his gaze was gone again. She ducked down under the windowsill again, her mouth gaping open.

 

“Red. His eyes were red,” Hitomi muttered to herself. She wasn’t sure she had snapped a photo at that moment. She needed confirmation of what she saw. Scanning through her photos, she stopped at the last one. The red sparkle was emanating from his eyes.

 

Hitomi gasped and dropped all the way to the floor. She stared at the photo. The boy had glowing red eyes.

 

“It’s HIM!”exploded in her head and repeated over and over. Her hands shook and she laid the camera down. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t know if she should go thank him or hide in her room. He was obviously following her. She shook her head. He was protecting her.

 

Hitomi squeezed her eyes shut and chewed on her bottom lip. She fought with herself over what to do, and then she pulled herself back up to the window. Her pulse quickened as she opened her eyes. A sudden intake of breath filled her lungs and she desperately fumbled with the window locks. She threw the window open and stuck her head out peering up and down the street. He was gone!

 

She pulled her head back inside, but not before knocking the back of it on the window.

 

“Ouch,” she rubbed her head, but the pain seemed fleeting as she rapidly pulled her memory card from her camera and shoved it into her laptop. She tapped her fingers impatiently on the desk and waited for the memory card to open. She clicked to open the photos and scrolled down to the last ones.

 

There he sat in all his perfection, staring off into the sky and then staring at her. His eyes were even brighter on the computer screen. She couldn’t tear her eyes away from him. Something inside her quivered.

 

Hitomi fell asleep that night on her side still gazing at the beautiful boy that had saved her and made her insides tremble.

 

****

 

 

 

Obsidian slipped into Hitomi’s room that night through the window. He shook his head, upset that she had left it open for anyone to enter. He glanced at her intertwined in her sheets and blankets. He half hoped that she would open her eyes and scream. She should have been afraid of him. He had never met anyone that didn’t instantly feel fear in his presence. If she were afraid of him, she would stay away from him. But he felt it every time she looked at him; she was drawn to him as he was to her.

 

He pulled his eyes away from her dreamy face, flushed skin, plump mouth, and turned to her computer. His finger barely grazed it when the photo popped up on the screen. Obsidian rubbed his hand over his face and then took the memory card from the machine. He turned back to her saying a silent apology and then damaged the flimsy piece of plastic. He slipped it back in to ensure that it was unreadable. Satisfied with his work, Obsidian moved over to the bed. He sat down on the floor and studied her face.

 

He knew the situation was not good. He had killed two ‘innocents’ and had not completed his list. As drawn to Hitomi as he was, he knew he should stay away. Not convinced he could stay away from her, he needed to instill fear of him into her. He sat there pondering while relishing her soft features. Obsidian wanted so badly to touch her. He wanted to run his fingers along her silken hair and smooth jaw.

 

He argued with himself all night; between wanting to keep her away from him and wanting to pull her into his arms.

 

By the morning, he had decided to try at least one time to make her fearful of him. If it didn’t work, if she still was drawn to him, then he would take things from there.

 

The blue sedan pulled into the driveway and honked. Obsidian sat on the bench after leaving her room, relaxed and focused. He watched as the girl got into the car after a quick glance his direction. She had a noticeable scowl on her face. She had obviously discovered her memory card damaged, erasing the photos of him. He watched as the car passed him and Hitomi stealing a look at him. He narrowed his eyes at her and sighed as the car continued down the street. He knew a menacing look was not going to be enough to deter the girl.

 

Groaning, he leaned his head back as the stench of death filled his nose. A figure appeared behind Obsidian.

 

“Hello Guri,” Obsidian sighed.

 

“Hey Obi. What’cha doin’?” Guri hopped over the back of the bench and landed perfectly seated next to him.

 

Obi closed his eyes as his nostrils twitched at the smell he was beginning to loathe. He desperately wanted the smell of vanilla bean and honey playing about his tongue. “Sitting,” Obi replied with irritation.

 

“Yah. I see that. Why?” Guri inquired. 

 

“Because there is no need to stand.”

 

“That’s not what I mean. Why are you hanging out here?”

 

Obi cleared his throat and turned his head to Guri. He was an unkempt mess. His silver hair protruded from his head in every direction and he noticed a few buttons missing from his shirt. “Guri, why are you here?”

 

“Who was the girl?” Guri asked, completely ignoring Obsidian’s question.

 

“No one,” he shook his head.

 

“Didn’t look like no one. And why was she looking back at you?”

 

“She can see me,” Obi groaned.

 

A simple ‘o’ formed on Guri’s lips and Obi turned away from him. That wasn’t exactly the response that he had expected. They sat there in silence for what felt like an eternity until Obi leaned back against the bench. “What do you think they will do to me?” he whispered.

 

“Nothing good,” Guri shrugged. “I actually came down here because I need to talk to you about something.” Obi did not say anything so Guri continued. “There is something going on. There have been whispers and rumors that the God of Light has returned and possible dissension among the council and judges. Now is not the best time to be going against them Obi.”

 

“I’m not going against them,” Obsidian protested, then rolled his eyes at himself. “Who am I kidding?”

 

“Who is that girl?”

 

“I don’t know. Shouldn’t you know something about her? You’re the one who marked her.”

 

“I just do what I’m told,” Guri shrugged. “Unlike some of us.” He gave Obi a nudge. “So, what’s the deal?”

 

Obsidian tried to pick words wisely. He wasn’t sure how much he could trust Guri, even though he had been one of the few to actually accept Obsidian. He wasn’t even sure he could explain it for Guri to understand. Hell, he hardly understood it himself. Obi shrugged figuring he was already in a heap of trouble.

 

He started at the beginning. He told Guri about the first time he saw Hitomi. He told how he had touched her and that was when Guri had found him in his cavern shaking with pain. He whispered the story of her being attacked and how he saved her and held her hand. From that day he had not left her; following her to school, sleeping next to her at night, and watching her from a distance. Obi started trying to explain the connection he felt with her and how he felt he couldn’t stay away from her and being around her just simply wasn’t enough. At the end of everything Obi turned to Guri.


Page 7

 

“You must think I’m crazy.”

 

Guri had an odd smirk on his face. “Not really. Maybe there is a reason this girl ended up on your list.” The way that Guri said it made Obi think that possibly Guri knew more than he was saying. He narrowed his eyes at him and Guri turned his face to the sky. “It’s a nice day.”

 

“Don’t seriously try to change the subject to weather,” Obsidian warned.

 

“Just making an observation. I’ve never understood the aversion to the sun. It seems pretty nice to me.”

 

“Guri.”

 

“So, when are you coming back?”

 

Obi shrugged. “I don’t know. Have they found out yet?”

 

“No. But they will soon.” Guri closed his eyes and stretched out as if he was trying to get a tan. “What do you plan on doing? Are you prepared for punishment or are you going to complete the list?” Guri opened one eye peering at Obi.

 

“I don’t know.” Obi shifted his entire body towards Guri. “But will you do something for me?”

 

“What’s that?”

 

“Will you keep her safe…if I’m not capable?”

 

“So, you’re opting for punishment?” Guri closed his eye.

 

Obsidian’s lips mashed together and a slight, “Um hm” came from his throat.

 

“I’ll do what I can Obi. But you know I can’t promise anything. We can’t know if they will send someone else or not.”

 

Obi nodded and turned back forward. The entire conversation had just confused him even more as to what he should do considering her. She needed to stay away from him, but would he be able to stay far enough away from her.

 

“When was the last time you showered?” Guri asked.

 

“Like you’re one to talk,” Obi crossed his arms and jabbed Guri with his elbow.

 

“Well, maybe I just won’t give you the bag I brought you,” he teased. Obi just let out an irritated huff and then jabbed him again.

 

****

 

 

 

The boy had given her the dirtiest look that morning, like he was disgusted with her ogling. Hitomi hadn’t been very stealth with her curiosity. And how could Kerry have completely missed him again? The first thing she tried to do this morning was look at the photos of him again, but somehow her memory card was badly damaged. Any kind of proof of his existence had been erased. Then she got the silly idea that he had done something to it with his eyes. She laughed at herself, but she was upset nonetheless.

 

She was getting tired of stealing looks at him or secretly taking his picture. She had decided that today was the day she was going to confront him. All she simply wanted to know was his name and she wanted to thank him again. If she got past that, maybe she would continue with other inquiries.

 

Hitomi was confused though about the nasty look she received this morning. Maybe he was angry his picture had been taken. Or maybe he tired of her drooling about him. He even infiltrated her dreams. Perhaps he wouldn’t even be on the bench when she arrived home. She instantly frowned at the thought as she walked out of the school building.

 

“Hey! Hitomi!” someone shouted behind her.

 

She spun around as Bradley Whitmire jogged towards her. “Hi Bradley,” she forced a grin. Not that Bradley was a bad guy, but he was the quintessential high school jock. He also happened to be one of Shane’s best friends. Kerry had been gushing about Bradley since last Friday, practically planning a double wedding and family vacations with the four of them.

 

“Need a ride?” he asked.

 

“No thanks. I’ve been enjoying this bit of rare weather we’ve been having the past few days.”

 

“Oh, yah. No rain. I think it’s the first time the soccer field has been dry in months,” Bradley nodded, his light brown curls bounced around his head. Hitomi stood there waiting for him to say something else as he rocked back and forth between heel and toe.

 

“So…” Hitomi started.

 

“So, the October formal is next weekend. Are you going?”

 

“I guess,” she shrugged. “I was just going to tagalong with Shane and Kerry.”

 

“Oh, because I was…”

 

Hitomi’s phone vibrated in her pocket and she quickly flipped it open. “Hello?...Hello?” There was no answer and she pulled up the number that had called.Unknown.She sighed and closed her phone glancing at the time. It was starting to get to the time that she normally arrived home. “Um, sorry Bradley. I have to go. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

 

Hitomi rushed down the sidewalk and hurried for her home. More so, she hurried to find out more about her rescuer.

 

Today, she decided to cut through the park and come up behind him, if he was even there. She kicked through the fallen leaves and peeked around a tree trunk. She bit at her bottom lip as she saw his statuesque form draped along the bench. She had no idea what she was going to say to him. She had practiced different openings all day, but they either sounded corny or like a stalker.

 

“I’ll just wing it,”she thought as she stepped out from behind the tree. She moved towards him watching his back. Within a few feet of him, she noticed his body tense. She stopped wondering if he knew she was there.

 

Hitomi took a deep breath and took the last few steps and moved around the bench. She sat down right beside him, but did not look at him. She could feel his gaze on her as her palms started to sweat. Her bottom lip was beginning to feel raw. Continuing to stare ahead, she watched as a man walking his dog passed. The boy did not take his gaze away from her. When the man and his dog were out of hearing range, she pulled her back pack off and tucked her hair behind her ear. Her heart was beating so hard inside her chest, she wasn’t sure he couldn’t hear it. Wetting her lips she turned to him.

 

“Are you following me?” Hitomi blurted out.

 

His eyes widened and then quickly narrowed. He turned forward and relaxed back against the bench. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

 

She instantly recognized his voice, but she couldn’t tear herself away from his eyes. They were deep crimson, or the color of fresh blood. “Who are you?” she tried another question.

 

“Just a guy waiting for the bus,” he huffed.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

“Do you always ask so many questions?” he crossed his arms and glanced at her. As if just remembering the oddity of his eyes, he blinked a few times and turned away again.

 

“I don’t know. I don’t usually approach people on benches,” she smiled.

 

“Why start now?” he replied coolly.

 

She shrugged to herself and turned her entire body towards him. She had definitely imagined her savior to be friendlier. “Are you going to tell me your name?” She watched as he swallowed hard and tried to come up with an answer. How was it that she could make him uncomfortable? She continued to smirk. “It’s really not that difficult. You either know your name or you don’t…”

 

“I know my name,” he cut her off. Sighing, he faced her again and leaned towards her. She pulled back from him and felt as though she could easily topple from the bench. “Obi. My name is Obi.”

 

Hitomi’s grin widened. “See? That wasn’t so hard.” Hitomi was unable to look away from him. Although he was attempting to be menacing, she wasn’t afraid of him. He had saved her after all.

 

“Why are you staring at me?”

 

“Sorry.” She quickly lowered her head. “Your eyes are just…”

 

“Scary?” he interrupted.

 

“No.” She withheld a laugh. “Intriguing.”

 

“They’re contacts,” he added.

 

“Yah. I know. I’ve seen them before,” she shrugged nonchalantly. “Guys wear them at the clubs all the time. But theirs don’t glow.”

 

She watched his jaw tighten as he leaned back from her. “What do you want?” Obi crossed his arms.

 

Suddenly her pulse went into overdrive. She clenched and unclenched her hands. “I, um…” Her nervousness was climbing up her throat. She wasn’t sure how he was going to react to her knowing that it was him that saved her. Furthermore, he seemed to be in an irritable mood due to her presence. However, she barely knew him and this could have been his normal demeanor. But she couldn’t imagine her hero being somewhat of a jerk. Just say it Hitomi! “I just wanted to thank you.” The words tumbled out of her mouth awkwardly.

 

“For what?” he lifted an eyebrow.

 

“For saving me the other night. If you hadn’t been there the other night…” she trailed off not completing her thought. Since that night she had pushed everything from her memory except for him.

 

Obi’s body shuddered, but he quickly composed himself. “I don’t know what you mean.” His voice was cold and emotionless.

 

“You know exactly what I mean,” Hitomi said swiftly watching his reaction carefully. He was refusing to look at her now. “What are you? Are you an angel or something?”

 

For the first time, Obi showed her a definite emotion. He laughed for a few seconds and faced her. The humor dropped from his face. “Are you crazy?”

 

“Maybe,” she shrugged exasperated. He had seemed humored, but the joy of laughing at her never quite reached his eyes. He was guarded and secretive, causing her to wonder what he exactly was or what had caused him to close off so easily. Her gaze tried to penetrate what was going on in his mind.

 

Obi shook his head. “Go home Hitomi,” he said sternly.

 

Hitomi’s mouth straightened into a tight line. “If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then how do you know my name?” A smug look came over her face. She had caught him and he knew it.

 

“You said your name,” he mumbled.

 

“No, I didn’t,” she replied without her voice wavering. Obi narrowed his eyes and turned away from her fixating on the other end of the street. Hitomi continued, “The only reason you know my name is because I told you the night you saved me.” She waited for him to respond. She needed acknowledgment that she had found who she was searching for and who she was dreaming of. Seconds ticked by feeling like hours.

 

“You keep talking about ‘that night’. How many times do I need to say I don’t know what you’re talking about?” Obi replied annoyed.

 

“But…”

 

“I said go home and leave me alone,” he said raising his voice. “You’re just a silly little girl.”

 

Hitomi’s mouth opened and closed like a fish. His manner drastically changed from irritated to infuriated. She leaned back grabbing her bag and scrambled off the bench.

 

“I just appreciate what you did for me,” she said quietly.

 

Obi pivoted back to her and his face seemed to be enraged. She trembled and took a step back from him. Obi moved and within a blink he was standing over her glaring down. His hand grasped around her wrist. “Stop thanking me. Stopappreciatingme. Just go away!”


Page 8

 

His grip tightened on her skin. Even though she was frightened, she couldn’t help but feel the way the heat from his hand traveled up her arm. His hand was searing and calloused. Peering up at him, her body visibly shook. She pulled her arm away. “Stop trying to scare me away from you!” she shot back. She wasn’t sure what had possessed her to say such a thing, but she was immediately embarrassed and turned running for her house.

 

Once inside, she slammed the door behind her. Muttering under her breath, not only was she completely mortified, she was frustrated. He was the one sitting outside her house. He was the one possibly following her. He had saved her. But all he seemed to want was to be left alone. “Then why are you always around?” she yelled and stomped her foot. “Call me a silly girl. Well, you’re a stupid boy!” She kicked the door and trudged into the kitchen.

 

Hitomi mindlessly sifted through the refrigerator, still thinking of Obi. He was obstinate and bigheaded. And now seeing him up close, he was utterly gorgeous. She groaned at herself as she sat down at the table. He was becoming an obsession and she knew it wasn’t good. She just couldn’t accept that he was truly that rude and cold. There had to be some reason that he was pushing her away from him. Just as she rested her chin in her hand, her cell phone beckoned her in the living room.

 

Pulling the phone out of her bag that she had thrown to the floor when she entered, she flipped it open.

 

“Hi Kerry. Need help with the math homework?”

 

Kerry laughed on the other end. “You think I’m doing homework?”

 

“Sorry. My mind is elsewhere.” Hitomi plopped down on the couch and kicked her feet up onto the coffee table.

 

“Perhaps on your make believe boyfriend?” she teased.

 

“He’s real,” Hitomi protested. “And I talked…” She stopped, knowing that if she finished the sentence it would just turn into her having to relive the entire conversation. Kerry would then tell her that he sounded like a snob and not to waste her time.

 

“You talked? You going to finish that thought Tomes?”

 

“Um, I talked to a lady there and asked if she knew him. That’s it.” Hitomi bit her bottom lip at the lie. She seemed to be doing a lot more lying these days and she wasn’t very happy with herself. But she decided to consider it as withholding the truth to save her from drama. “What’s up?” she changed to a cheery disposition.

 

“Well, don’t be mad at me.”

 

“Why would I be mad at you? Kerry, what did you do?” Hitomi’s feet hit the floor as she sat straight up.

 

“It’s about the October Formal. I kind of invited someone to come with us.” She said the words slowly letting them sink into Hitomi one by one.

 

“You didn’t!”

 

“He’s got a big crush on you and he was going to ask you himself. But he said you completely blew him off after school today. He looked so depressed. He just kept kicking the soccer ball around.”

 

“That’s what they do in soccer! Kick a ball! And I highly doubt he was depressed. Kerry, I don’t like Bradley. I mean, not like that. He’s very nice and good-looking, but I’m just not interested in him.”

 

“Tomes, just give him a chance. You haven’t even really hung out with him. Besides, he’s real.”

 

“Obi is real!” Hitomi practically shouted back.

 

“He has a name now?”

 

“Oh, forget it,” she replied and rolled her eyes. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

 

“Yah, at school. Bradley’s going to pick you up so be readyon time.” The line at the other end went dead. She had hung up before Hitomi even had a chance to protest. She flipped her phone closed and tossed it onto the table as the front door opened.

 

Her mother’s weary body entered the house. She tossed her bags onto the floor and pulled the tight bun from her head.

 

“Hi mom.”

 

“Oh, sweetie. I didn’t even see you there,” Regina forced a tired smile and sat down next to her. She put her arm around her daughter and kissed her cheek. “How was your day?”

 

“Alright,” she shrugged as she watched her mother run her free hand through her hair, shaking out the brunette tresses.

 

“Uh-oh. What happened?”

 

Hitomi shrugged again. “When you met dad, did you instantly know you liked him?” she changed the subject.

 

Regina smiled warmly. “Something happen with a boy?”

 

Not a boy. The boy.“Sort of. So, did you and dad get along immediately?”

 

Regina let out a laugh and shook her head. “No. I thought he was a complete show-off. He always knew every answer in class. He dressed in the finest clothes. Other girls were constantly around him. I will say, he irritated me.”

 

“But you fell in love with him anyway?”

 

“Once I saw past his exterior I found out who he really was. He was a wonderful man.” She gave Hitomi a squeeze and got up from the couch.

 

Hitomi saw the sadness in her mother’s face. Regina hardly talked about the only man she loved, but when she did, Hitomi could tell that she relived every moment with him inside her head. Hitomi never met her father, for he died only days after her birth. Her mother didn’t even have a photo of him, although she swore that Hitomi looked like him.

 

“I’m going to go take a long hot bath and we’ll make some dinner,” her mother smiled and disappeared up the steps.

 

Hitomi fell back against the couch and her thoughts filled of Obi. He was mysterious and intriguing. Beautiful and dark. Irritating and snotty. She huffed and decided to work on homework to keep her mind occupied with something other than him. It didn’t work. Before dinner, she snuck a peek out the window to see if he was still there. He sat there, elbows rested on his knees, appearing to be deep in thought. His gaze was not directed at her house.

 

Regina and Hitomi made dinner together and ate in the kitchen. Her mother was telling her stories of the patients at the hospital and laughing. Hitomi made an effort to be entertained, but all she could think about was if he would still be there when she looked outside again.

 

After dinner, Regina stalked off to her room for much needed sleep and Hitomi cleaned up the kitchen. She put all the leftovers on a plate and started to wrap it up when she thought of Obi sitting on that bench all day. She wondered if he even left while she was at school.

 

She sighed heavily to herself and grabbed a fork from the drawer. Quietly, she carried the plate out the front door. Sure enough, Obi was still perched motionless on the bench. She shut the door and started across the street. She knew that he was trying to ignore her, but he made it obvious that he had noticed her, for his body went tense again and he made a point to not look in her direction.

 

Hitomi shook her head slightly aggravated as she sat down next to him, making it a point to sit closer than she had this afternoon.

 

“Here.” She held the plate out to him with the fork resting on top.

 

He glanced at her and then at the plate. “What is this for?” Obi asked taking it from her.

 

“It’s for you to eat. Do you ever eat? You’ve been out here for four hours.”

 

“You were watching me?” He turned his eyes back up to hers.

 

Her heart drummed against her chest rapidly and she felt her cheeks flush with pink. She turned away trying to hide her reaction to his gaze. “No! I just noticed…Oh, never mind,” she threw her hands up in despair, accidentally smacking him on the arm. She turned back to him. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hit you.”

 

“I probably deserved it,” his brows furrowed a bit, possibly confused by her sudden amount of fidgeting.

 

She marveled at the way his eyes were still noticeably red, even in the darkening of the night. She stared at him and instead of flinching away or trying to hide his eyes, he stared back at her. Her stomach did flips, twists and knots all at the same time. She needed to know who he was.

 

“Anything else?” he interrupted the silence. “Do you want to hit me again?”

 

“No,” she replied almost breathlessly. “Why won’t you…”

 

“Then you should go,” Obi cutoff her question.

 

Without a word, Hitomi lowered her head and got up from the bench. She started across the street when she heard him faintly say a ‘thank you’. She wasn’t sure she was actually supposed to hear it so she kept walking without looking back.

  Chapter 4 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitomi woke up the next morning and pulled a blanket around her shoulders. It was cold again and she could hear the tapping of the rain against the window. Wiping the sleep from her eyes, she got up from the bed and immediately walked over to the window. She had been making it a habit to leave her curtains open a sliver just so she could easily peer outside. She pulled the curtain back and gazed down at the empty bench.

 

To say she was let down was an understatement. She let out a heavy sigh and closed the curtains, only to immediately turn back around and open them partially. A shiver ripped through her body so hard her fingers uncurled from the blanket and it fell to the floor. All she wanted was to see him. She couldn’t believe he wasn’t there and she couldn’t believe how disappointed she was. 

 

Hitomi tried to push the emptiness from her insides as she started to get dressed for school. She said a silent thank you that it was Friday as she pulled on a thick cotton sweater. As she yanked on her jeans, she realized she had completely forgotten about Bradley. She quickly brushed her hair and teeth and ran downstairs. While throwing her books into her bag, her mother came from upstairs.

 

“There’s a black SUV in the driveway,” her mother yawned. “Did Kerry get a new car?”

 

“No mom. Another friend is picking me up this morning.” Hitomi tried to hurry to escape any further inquiries.

 

“Another friend?”

 

“I have to go mom.” Hitomi hurried to the front door and pulled open the door. Just as she was about to take a step, she noticed the empty plate and fork at her feet. She knelt down and gently picked it up. She wasn’t sure what she was expecting to find. Maybe a clue, maybe a note- something or anything that would give her a little more insight into who Obi really was.

 

“Don’t forget your umbrella! And I won’t be home until the early morning,” her mother called to her and trudged back up the steps.

 

“Okay,” Hitomi muttered in reply still inspecting the plate and fork. She was brought back to reality when Bradley sharply honked the horn. She practically dropped the plate, but steadied herself. She put the plate back on the ground to the side of the door and stood up. She knew that her mother wouldn’t even notice it. Grabbing an umbrella from beside the doorway, she hurried out to the SUV trying to avoid as much rain as possible.


Page 9

 

Hurriedly, she pulled herself up into the passenger’s seat and shut the door. Brushing water off her shoulders, Hitomi turned to Bradley. He sat with his hand coolly draped over the steering wheel and a smile on his face too big for that early in the morning.

 

“Good morning,” he beamed.

 

Ick! He’s a morning person.She forced a grin and rested her bag down on the floor. “Hi. We should go before we’re late.”

 

Bradley let out a little murmur of agreement and he backed out of the drive. They started down the road as she buckled her seatbelt.

 

“I hope you don’t mind that I picked you up today,” he commented.

 

“No, its fine,” she sighed as they passed the empty bus stop. She glanced around the surrounding area for just a glimpse of the black haired boy, and then relaxed back in the seat feeling a twinge of pain in her stomach. How could she miss him? She barely knew him.

 

“Are you alright? You look a little pale,” Bradley commented as he turned the corner.

 

“Yah,” Hitomi nodded and turned to him forcing a grin. “Just a little tired. How could I not be pale with all the rain anyway?”

 

“True,” he laughed. There was a long silence between them until Bradley spoke again. “I hope you don’t mind that Kerry invited me to the dance.”

 

“The more the merrier,” she shrugged, not really feeling the words. Hitomi was occupied with other thoughts.

 

“What color dress are you wearing?”

 

“Um, I’m not sure yet. I’m going shopping tomorrow.”

 

“You’ll have to let me know so I can get you the right flowers.”

 

She almost choked as she comprehended the words. He actually thought it was a date. Was it a date? Hitomi nodded her head at him and turned back to the window. How could it be a date if he hadn’t even asked her and she had never agreed?

 

She listened as he talked about the dance and about soccer. She would nod in agreement or mumble a “um hm” from time to time to signify she heard him. When they arrived at school Hitomi could hardly wait to get out of the car. Bradley wasn’t a bad person, she just wasn’t interested in him.  Her mind was desperate to find out more about her dark hero.

 

Hitomi walked through her daily routine at school. She felt exhausted and tried to recall her dreams from that night. She had been dreaming vividly, mostly about Obi and bright lights, but this morning she couldn’t remember what she had dreamt. Even by lunch time she had not snapped out of her stupor. Kerry tried to ask her questions about what happened with Bradley, but Hitomi merely shrugged and continued to ponder every word Obi had said yesterday. Eventually she became irritated with herself for spending so much time even thinking about him, but she couldn’t seem to stop.

 

Her chest felt heavy and her stomach ached as she walked out of the building. She wasn’t sure she even had the strength to walk home. She waved goodbye to Kerry and Shane and sat down on the bench outside the doors. Hitomi found herself staring up at the roof, wondering if whatever had been watching her was up there now.

 

“Hitomi? Do you need a ride?” a voice asked.

 

She dropped her gaze to Bradley in front of her. The idea of walking home alone and having to go past the empty bus stop wasn’t sitting well in her stomach. “Um, yah. If you don’t mind.”

 

Bradley’s face lit up with a smile. “Let’s go.”

 

Hitomi stood up and suddenly felt faint. Her knees started to buckle and Bradley quickly grabbed her arm and steadied her on her feet.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“Yah, I’m fine. Just a klutz,” she forced a grin.

 

Bradley wrapped his arm around her waist to support her. “You really don’t look so well.”

 

“I just need to go home.” She tried to pull out of his grip, but he wasn’t about to let go. He had an iron grip around her and he pulled her arm around his neck for better support.

 

“I’ll get you home.” Bradley helped her to his car. She felt awkward with his arms around her, but she let him help her. “Did you eat anything today? Maybe that’s why you’re weak,” he commented as they started towards her house.

 

“I, um, I don’t remember.”

 

“You don’t remember if you ate?” he raised an eyebrow.

 

“I’ve been kind of out of it today,” Hitomi shrugged and leaned back against the leather seat. She stared out the window confused about how she felt. All day she had been thinking of Obi and numbly moving through the daily motions. She couldn’t even remember if she ate or if she had grabbed her books from her locker. She felt her bag, able to discern a few books, but still not sure which ones she had grabbed.

 

It was only a few minutes until Bradley pulled the shiny SUV into her driveway. She had barely glanced at the empty bus stop bench, knowing he was not there. Bradley was quickly out of the car and pulling her door open for her. He helped her out and up the front steps.

 

“Thanks Bradley,” Hitomi grinned as she opened the front door. She pulled out of his grip, which he didn’t let go of so easily. She gripped the handle and leaned against the door. “I guess I should get something to eat and rest.”

 

“Good idea. Do you need any help? I mean, I could make you something to eat,” he suggested.

 

“That’s okay Bradley. You’ve already done enough. Thank you for the ride home.”

 

“So, if you’re feeling better tomorrow, would you want to go to a movie?”

 

“Um, maybe. I’ll call you.” Hitomi shut the door and went over collapsing on the couch. She had only been sitting there a few minutes when there was a light knock on the door. She rolled her eyes and got up.  She wondered what Bradley wanted now as she opened the door, and then she took a step back firmly grasping the door handle. Her eyes widened at the figure leaning against the door frame.

 

Obi stood there with his arms folded and gaze turned down. His hair was shiny from the rain and his eyes appeared even darker. His white button-down shirt stuck to his skin and his green corduroy jacket was two shades deeper than intended.

 

Hitomi held onto the knob for balance. She would not be the first one to speak, she repeated to herself. He was the one at her door. He should say something first, but he just stood there.

 

“Hi,” she mumbled. A growl erupted in her head at herself.

 

“Hi,” he adjusted his arms and looked up at her. Then there was just silence. Not really an uncomfortable silence, but a silence filled with unspoken questions.

 

Hitomi’s hand squeezed the knob so tightly her fingers began to ache. Her heart thundered in her chest. Why was he standing in her doorway looking utterly delicious?

 

“Did you make the food last night?” he finally asked as he nudged the plate by the door with his foot. Dear lord, even his boots oozed coolness.

 

Hitomi’s brow furrowed in confusion. “Is that seriously what you’re asking me?” she blurted out.

 

“Yes. It’s a logical question,” he cocked his head slightly. “It’s definitely more logical than asking if you’re an angel.”

 

Her cheeks heated up embarrassed, but she instantly went on the defensive. “You just came here to fight?”

 

“I’m not here to fight.”

 

“Then why are you here? You made it pretty clear that you don’t like me.” She huffed and pulled her aching fingers from the knob.

 

“That’s not true,” he muttered. Hitomi’s heart fluttered as she waited for more of an explanation. He couldn’t just say that and not follow up with anything else. “You just threw me off the way you approached me. People usually leave me alone.” She watched as he licked his lips and shifted his feet. She could have sworn that he looked uncomfortable and nervous. “I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

 

Hitomi held back a smile. “Okay.”

 

Obi lifted his head again. Something in his gaze brought goose bumps to her arms and her body shuddered. “You forgive me so easily?” he questioned.

 

She nodded and gave a shrug. She wasn’t sure that she could formulate any response. Then Hitomi did something that even she couldn’t understand. She pulled the door back and stepped from the entryway. “Do you want to come in?”

 

Obi unfolded his arms and stuffed his hands in his pockets. He stepped into the house and Hitomi shut the door. She stared at his back as he glanced around.

 

“You should really invest in an umbrella since it rains almost nine months out of the year these days. The other three months it snows,” Hitomi commented.

 

“I don’t mind the rain,” he shrugged as he walked over to a table of photo frames and began inspecting them.

 

Hitomi was trying to recall exactly what photos were displayed. She prayed nothing embarrassing. She continued to stare at him as she suddenly realized that she no longer felt faint or tired.

 

Her face must have held a perplexed appearance because he glanced back at her and asked. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing. I’ll go get you a towel.” She sprinted up the stairs and into the bathroom. She was afraid to leave him alone, but she was even more afraid to be in the same room with him. She needed to escape for a few minutes to get her bearings. She yanked a towel out of the linen closet and then started checking herself in the mirror.

 

Hitomi fluffed at her hair and applied fresh deodorant. She scowled at the reflection thinking she didn’t have much to work with. She wasn’t really sure why she was trying to prep herself. Grabbing the towel, she went back downstairs to find the room empty.

 

“Obi?” she nervously called out, deciding that he had probably left. “Obi?” She clutched the towel as she walked into the kitchen. Obi was standing at the refrigerator examining more photos that were neatly hung by bright colored magnets. He turned to her as she entered.

 

“Did you take these?” he motioned to the photos. Luckily the photos were mainly of the town and nature. There were a few silly photos of Kerry and one photo of Hitomi. She said a silent ‘thank you’ that the picture was recent and actually one she liked.

 

“Um, most of them,” she nodded.

 

“They’re good,” he commented.

 

“Thanks.” She moved across the kitchen and held the towel out to him. “Here.”

 

He took a hold of it, but she did not let go right away. Her stomach knotted and twisted. She was staring at him and she couldn’t seem to pull her eyes away. She knew she should stop, but she was completely drawn to him. His eyes were luring her in, raising her pulse. He was like a magnet pulling her toward him. And he was staring back.

 

Suddenly thunder rumbled over head, which was enough noise to briefly distract her enough to turn away. She dropped her hands leaving the towel in his grip.

 

“Do you want something to eat?” Hitomi asked as she tugged on the edges of her sweater.

 

“Do you?” he replied.

 

She tried to look at anything besides him. She focused on a yellow and blue plaid dishtowel hanging by the sink, afraid if she turned back to him she wouldn’t be able to stop herself from moving closer to him.


Page 10

 

“Not really,” she shrugged.

 

“Well, what do you want to do?” Obi replied as she heard his feet shuffle. She didn’t dare look at him, but she swore that she could feel him closer to her.

 

“It doesn’t matter. I really wasn’t expecting someone over.”

 

“I can go,” Obi said flatly.

 

“No,” Hitomi said much too quickly and lifted her eyes up to his.

 

“Who was that guy who dropped you off?” his eyes narrowed.

 

“Huh?” Confusion filled her.

 

“The guy? The one whose car you got out of?”

 

“Oh, um…” Hitomi bit her bottom lip. “Just a friend.”

 

He made a little grunting sound and nodded. He walked around her and started drying his hair off with the towel as he went back into the living room. Was that a twinge of jealousy she felt coming from him? She followed after him, unsure of where he was headed next in her house. She went into the living room and found him sitting on the couch. He had taken off his jacket, hanging it on the coat hooks by the door and sunk into the floral cushions. He looked so out of place in the overly feminine room. Obi placed the towel on the coffee table and looked up at her.

 

Hitomi wasn’t sure what to make of the dark mystery sitting before her. Yesterday he had been yelling at her to leave him alone and now he was comfortably relaxed in her house.

 

“What changed your mind?” she blurted out.

 

“About what?”

 

“About me,” she replied softly somewhat embarrassed as she sunk down to the floor and sat down.

 

Obi glanced around the room. “There are other perfectly good chairs.”

 

“You’re avoiding the question,” Hitomi grinned. She almost saw a hint of a smirk sneak across his mouth.

 

“Who says I have changed my mind?” Obi replied as his gaze pierced hers. All she could muster was a shrug in reply. “I don’t scare you, do I?”

 

“Should I be afraid of you?”

 

“Very,” he mumbled dropping his head.

 

Hitomi bit at her lip and continued to watch him, not sure how to gauge his words. He had saved her after all. How could she be afraid of someone like that? All she wanted to do was push his bangs to the side so she could see his face again. She clenched her fists in her lap fighting the urge.

 

“Well I’m not afraid of you,” Hitomi continued to grin.

 

Obi let out a slight huff and ran his hand through his hair brushing it from his face. Hitomi held back a sigh, already feeling better that she could see his face again.

 

“Obi?”

 

He lifted his head back up to her. She was nervous to ask him about that night. He had been so adamant about not wanting to talk about it, but she needed to know.

 

“You were the one who saved me, weren’t you?”

 

She watched him as he suddenly became uncomfortable. Hitomi was clenching her fists so tightly, terrified he might leave. Her entire body tingled waiting for his answer.

 

Obi hesitated for a second and staring into her, he slowly nodded his head. Hitomi felt her breath catch in her throat. She wanted to explode with questions, but she wasn’t sure if that would send him running out the door. She reluctantly bit her tongue still completely content that her thought had been confirmed. She could wait for more answers just to keep him around.

 

“I don’t think I could ever be afraid of you,” Hitomi mumbled.

 

He raised an eyebrow. “Then why are you sitting on the floor as far away from me as possible?”

 

“Um…” she mashed her lips together unsure what to say. What could she say? She was sitting away from him to get a better full look at him. She sat on the floor to avoid touching him. She stood up brushing imaginary dust from her knees. “Maybe I am a little hungry. I’m going to go make a snack.” She avoided looking at him and turned to go back to the kitchen.

 

“Who’s avoiding the question now?” Obi murmured.

 

Hitomi couldn’t help but hide a smile and continued into the kitchen. She wasn’t sure what Obi would do, but she was hoping that he would follow her in. She got into the refrigerator and riffled around pulling out a few items. She laid them out on the counter and got a knife from the drawer. As she started slicing up some carrots she heard footsteps enter behind her. She could feel him nearing her and then settled next to her in front of the sink. Hitomi watched him from the corner of her eye.

 

Obi grasped the countertop and stared down. He let out a slight sigh. “I should probably go.”

 

She didn’t say anything and resumed cutting up the carrots into thin strips. Hitomi didn’t want him to leave, but she couldn’t very well just say that. She wasn’t sure if he’d continue to be around or if their short time together had decreased his interest in her. She stopped paying attention to what she was doing and put a nice slice into her left index finger with the blade.

 

“Oh, ouch!” Hitomi dropped the knife and it clanked to the ground as blood began oozing out of the gash and dripping onto the cutting board. With the blink of an eye, Obi grabbed her wrist, turned the faucet on, and pushed her hand under the water. The red water streamed down into the drain.

 

“Are you alright?” Obi asked in a panicked tone. She looked up at his face and he looked just as terror stricken.

 

“I’ll be fine. I’m always getting cuts or scrapes,” she replied really not concerned with the cut. More occupied with his hand around her wrist, she focused on the fact that he was touching her. Her pulse went into overdrive.

 

After a few minutes, he turned the water off and grabbed a dishtowel wrapping it around her hand. He kept her wrapped hand tightly in his grip between his hands. She could feel the heat of his palm with her fingertips poking from the towel.

 

“Do you have anything to cover it up?” Obi asked keeping his head down.

 

“Yah. I’m sure I can find something. It’s not that bad. At least I heal quickly.”

 

“Not bad? I should probably take you to get stitches.” He finally looked up from their hands.

 

“It’ll be fine. If I need to my mom can stitch it up when she gets home.” Her gaze carefully monitored the concern on his face. He gave a nod but still did not remove his hands from hers. “Obi?”

 

“Hm?”

 

She smiled up at him. “I’m going to go wrap it up.”

 

“Oh. Yah.” He dropped his hands and stuffed them in his pockets. “I was just trying to keep pressure on it.”

 

“I’ll be right back.” She clutched at the towel and went up to the bathroom. Behind the closed door, she drew in a deep breath. Hitomi felt she needed to get away from him before she pushed herself into his arms. With her back leaned against the door, she took in another deep breath and unwrapped the towel from her hand. The bleeding had already stopped and the gash wasn’t even painful. She rubbed her fingertips together remembering the feeling of his skin.

 

Hitomi shook the thought from her head and went about covering up the cut with some gauze and tape. She headed back to the first floor and abruptly stopped on the stairs when the living room came into view. Obi was sitting on the couch with the television on and munching on the sliced carrots. Hitomi was frozen on the steps.

 

“Are you going to come eat your snack?” he asked without even looking at her.

 

Snapping out of her trance, she made her way over to the couch. She was nervous to sit next to him, but eager to prove she wasn’t afraid of him. Acting as nonchalant as she was able to pull off, she plopped down on the couch next to him and grabbed a carrot from the plate sitting between them. She glanced up at him, but he was refusing to look at her as he continued staring at the television. She wasn’t even sure what he was watching because she couldn’t take her eyes from him.

 

“Where do you go to school?” Hitomi blurted out unable to contain her questions.

 

“I don’t,” Obi replied shortly.

 

“You’re out of school,” she nodded completing his answer. “Do you live around here?”

 

“Sure.”

 

“Do you live with your parents?”

 

“Nope.”

 

She sighed frustrated that she wasn’t learning much more about him. “You don’t like to answer questions, do you?”

 

“Not really. Do you?” he finally turned and looked at her.

 

She grabbed another carrot and shrugged. “Ask me whatever you want.”

 

Obi raised an eyebrow and brushed his hair away from his face. He shifted his body so that he was facing her and rested his arm along the back of the couch. “Where’s your mother?”

 

“She works a lot. She’s a nurse at the hospital,” Hitomi replied smugly as she turned her body facing him as well.

 

“And your dad?”

 

“I never met him. He passed away a long time ago.” She nibbled at the end of the carrot.

 

“I’m sorry,” Obi mumbled.

 

“It’s okay. Any more questions?” she raised her eyes back up to his.

 

His head tilted slightly. “How old are you?”

 

“Seventeen. Almost 18. You?”

 

“Nineteen. Why aren’t you out with your friends tonight?”

 

Hitomi bit at her bottom lip and shrugged. “My best friend has a boyfriend.” She wasn’t really sure what other way to answer the question. She observed him waiting for more of a response. “Kerry is my best friend. We have been best friends since grade school. We used to do everything together. Every weekend we basically lived at my house. But as we got older, Kerry got the boyfriends and I got left at home. Not that I blamed her. We’ve just kind of grown a bit apart. But she has a great boyfriend now and they invite me out all the time. I just always feel like a third wheel I guess. I wish we were closer, but people eventually drift away from each other when priorities change.” Hitomi had just divulged feelings that she had never said out loud. At least she left out the part of her jealousy towards her best friend. But still, she was telling Obi things that she would never dream of telling anyone else. She wondered what compelled her to share her emotions. She felt close to Obi, tied to him in some way. She felt she could completely trust him.

 

Obi slightly pursed his lips as he thought and watched her intently. She wished that she knew what he was thinking. He never let emotion take over his expressions. She was positive she was an open book with her looks. Hitomi needed to know more about him. She wanted to know everything about him. There was something different about him. Something seemed off, but she couldn’t pinpoint it. Right now she wasn’t concerned with the oddities. Hitomi just enjoyed being with him.

 

Much to her delight, Obi changed the subject sensing her discomfort. “Besides photography, what do you like to do?” he broke the silence.

 

“Read. I don’t get to do much else.”


Page 11

 

“Why?”

 

“I don’t have a car. And if you haven’t noticed, this town has nothing to do.”

 

“True,” he agreed with a nod. “If you could go one place, where would you go?”

 

“Honestly?” She dropped her head and fidgeted with her hands. “The beach. I’ve always wanted to go to the beach. I’ve never seen the ocean. I’ve seen photos of the most beautiful waves rolling in on white sands.”

 

Obi continued to fire questions at her. She ended up telling him anything he wanted to know. She sat there talking about her favorite foods, books, and movies. She talked about photography for what felt like an hour, while he patiently sat across from her watching every word flow from her mouth. The topic eventually turned to how she wanted to move to California and go to college (something she had never told anyone). Then she slowly drifted into her mother. She talked of how she wished her mother had married so she could have siblings and a father.

 

The entire time, Obi sat gazing at her. His eyes never breaking from her face. A few times she eyed his hand lazily resting along the back of the couch. She wanted to rest her arm as he was and gently brush her hand against his. Then she wondered if her hand was there with his if he would try to touch her. She pondered if he longed to touch her the way that she wished to touch him. She kept her fingers tightly intertwined in her lap trying to occupy her mind with more conversation.

 

It had been awhile since she had reached over and turned on a side lamp. Hitomi glanced down at the clock under the television and realized she had practically been talking non-stop for almost four hours. Her stomach let out a loud protest to lack of food. She quickly put her hand over her stomach.

 

“I’m sorry. I’m keeping you from your dinner,” Obi commented.

 

“I’m alright.”

 

“No, I should go,” he rose from the couch. “I’ve taken up enough of your time.”

 

“That’s okay. It’s not like I have plans or anything. You don’t have to go.” She jumped up from the couch immediately losing her balance. Hitomi felt herself moving in slow motion as her body plunged towards him. Her hands moved in front of her to brace her fall, but quickly Obi was catching her by the shoulders. Her feet stumbled to get their balance as she stood back up straight. She felt utterly ridiculous and her cheeks instantly began burning red.

 

Obi’s hands felt hot on her shoulders and he slowly smoothed them down to her upper arms. “You’re very accident prone,” he remarked.

 

“Yah. I always have been.”

 

“How is your hand?” His fingers slipped from her arms and down to her hand. He cradled it within his and pulled back the tape and gauze. She looked up at him as he stared down at her hand. He was not hiding his shock well. “It’s practically healed.”

 

“I told you I heal fast.”

 

He peered back up at her and dropped her hand. “I’m going to go.” Obi suddenly started for the door.

 

“But…” Hitomi walked after him not wanting him to leave.

 

He spun back around to her when he reached the door. “Ihaveto go.” He grabbed his jacket and rested it over his arm.

 

“When will I see you again?”

 

Obi twisted the door knob and opened the door, moving backwards through the frame. He eyed her and she was dying to know what he was thinking. He leaned down and forward bringing his face severely close to hers. From watching romance movies, she almost thought he was about to kiss her but instead he gazed deeply into her eyes. If she hadn’t been so stunned, she would have taken the opportunity to study his eyes more carefully. She rocked back on her heels feeling probed by his intensity.

 

“Your eyes,” Obi said as he stood back upright. “They are the color of those oceans you wish to see.” He took a few more steps back. “Meet me at the bench tomorrow morning.” He turned and hurriedly disappeared down the street.

 Chapter 5 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obsidian pulled his hood up over his head and lowered his face as he stalked down the corridor. It was one of the first times he was thankful for the dim lighting. The few torches lit along the hallway cast an orange brilliance over the rock walls and created dancing shadows. It made him uncomfortable not knowing who might be lurking around that he was unable to notice, but he didn’t smell anyone in hiding. He stopped at one of the caverns attached to the hallway and threw back the thick fabric stepping inside.

 

Guri sat on his bed with his legs tucked up reading a book. He glanced up as Obi entered. “Hey…”

 

Obi was across the room in a second and had his hand over Guri’s mouth. “Shh.” He removed his hand and stepped away from him.

 

“What’s going on?”

 

“What do you know about that girl?”

 

“I already told you. Nothing.” Guri dropped his feet to the ground and laid his book aside. “But I need to tell you…”

 

“You need to tell me abouther.” Obi had crossed the room and pulled Guri up from the cot. He held Guri by the collar and pushed him back against the wall. “Who is she?”

 

“Obi, calm down.” Guri stared at him.

 

Obsidian shook his head and let go of him. Taking a few steps away, he rubbed his forehead and peered at Guri. “Don’t do that to me. Stay out of my head.”

 

“Sorry but you needed to be calmed. Tell me what happened.”

 

Obi moved over and sat down on the floor against the opposite wall. He had no idea where to begin. His head was overloaded and Guri’s intrusion was not helping matters. “Guri, I can’t get her out of my mind. Something is drawing me to her. Something I can’t explain. My stomach pains when I am not near her. When I am around her I want nothing more than to just touch her. I find myself intoxicated with her scent. It completely encompasses me.” His speech became more frantic. “She does something to me. What is she doing to me?”

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“You do know. You’ve been keeping something from me.”

 

“Obi, the council knows. You are to go before them tomorrow.”

 

Obi dropped his head back against the cool rock. “But Hitomi…” He thought of the plans he had made to meet her. After talking to Guri he had planned to return to her house and wait until she went to bed to see her again. Then he would be waiting for her in the morning. “Even now I feel the pain rising. I just left her minutes ago.”

 

“This would all go away if you finished your list,” Guri whispered.

 

Obsidian sucked in a staggered deep breath. He rubbed his fingertips together. If he hadn’t touched her that first night, none of this would be happening now. All these things he was feeling and thinking would not be present. He wouldn’t be worrying about punishment from the council. He’d be sitting alone in his cavern awaiting the next list. Alone. He’d been nothing but alone for the past 17 years.

 

“I can’t,” he mumbled. “I can’t let anything happen to her.” He looked back up to Guri who had a smile on his face. “Why are you smiling?”

 

“You have so much confusion swirling around in your head. It’s making me dizzy.”

 

“You weren’t able to feel anything coming from her when you marked her?”

 

“No,” Guri shook his head. “It was like she had some sort of barrier.”

 

Obi brushed his hair from his face. “And she heals fast. I mean, fast like us. How can she heal like us?” Guri shrugged in response. “I need to go back and see her.” Obi pulled himself up from the ground and Guri quickly moved in front of him.

 

“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”

 

“Guri…”

 

“I’ll have someone else watch over her. Just stay here so we can figure out what you need to tell the council.”

 

“Who?”

 

“Don’t worry about it. You can trust him.”

 

“You know something more, don’t you Guri?” Obi narrowed his eyes.

 

“Even if I did, I wouldn’t be able to talk about it yet.” He flashed another smile. “Stay here.” Guri hurried out of the room. Obi began pacing the room. He didn’t like leaving Hitomi unprotected. If the council knew his list was incomplete, anything could happen. But he was taking his chances trusting Guri and trusting the fact that the council never did anything without a meeting.

 

****

 

 

 

Hitomi woke up early Saturday morning. She jumped out of bed and rushed over to the window. The bench sat empty. It really didn’t surprise her that he wasn’t there yet. The rain was pouring down and the street lamps were still on. The sky was practically as black as night time. The street glistened from the yellow lights and Hitomi turned her face up to the sky.

 

Her body shuddered as she felt the cold wash over her. Someone was watching her again and she knew it wasn’t Obi. She swiftly closed the drapes and hugged her arms around herself. She stepped back from the window and started getting clothes from her dresser.

 

After a hot quick shower, she got dressed in a pair of hip-hugging jeans and a navy turtleneck sweater. She couldn’t decide whether to leave her hair down or put it up, but considering the weather she opted on a ponytail. She heard her mother banging around in the kitchen as she walked downstairs.

 

“What are you doing mom?” she asked walking into the kitchen.

 

Regina was kneeling on the ground with half of her body poking out from one of the lower cabinets. “I’m looking for something.”

 

“I kind of figured that. What are you looking for?”

 

“Have you seen our crock pot? I wanted to start something this morning so it will be ready when we get back.” Regina’s head appeared and she pushed her hair back from her face. “Oh, you’re all dressed and ready to go.”

 

“The crock pot is above the refrigerator. And where are we going?”

 

Regina let out a ‘hmph’ as she stood up and eyed the refrigerator. “Shopping. Did you forget about getting your dress?”

 

“Oh,” Hitomi’s shoulders slumped.

 

“Don’t sound so excited,” her mother glanced back to her and grinned.

 

“No, I am,” Hitomi tried to convince her. “I just have to go do something first.”

 

“Go do something?” Regina stood from the ground and adjusted the belt on her robe. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”

 

“Mother, I go to school every day. I get straight A’s, except for gym. I’ve never snuck out of the house, I don’t do drugs or drink. Can you give me a little slack here?”

 

“Hitomi, it has nothing to do with you. I just want you to be safe.”


Page 12

 

“I’ll be back before lunch,” Hitomi spun around and started for the front door.

 

“Hitomi, don’t you walk out of here!” her mother called after her, but Hitomi wasn’t listening. She had given her mother almost 18 years. She was doing this one thing for herself. Tossing on her jacket and grabbing an umbrella, she slammed the door behind her. She looked over to the bench, but Obi still wasn’t there. She opened the umbrella and hurried out into the rain. She rushed across the street and over to the bench. A thick tree branch overhead shielded her a bit from the pouring water, but the bottoms of her pants were completely soaked. She held the umbrella tightly for fear it would blow right out of her hand.

 

Glancing up and down the street a chill swept through her again. Her body shivered and she found herself looking for a pair of eyes on her. There was no one on the street and only a few cars had driven past as she waited. She looked behind her, but no one was in the park. She wasn’t sure what direction Obi would be coming from, but she was praying that he would get there soon. She was starting to get creeped out and didn’t like being out in the open.

 

She watched her house to see if her mother would even come looking for her, but the door never opened. Hitomi had left the house without her cell phone so she wasn’t even sure how long she had been waiting. She started to feel ridiculous for thinking that he would come. She wasn’t anything special. On the other hand, he was gorgeous and older. Why would he want anything to do with her? He had obviously just been being nice by staying so long with her last night. He probably pitied her.

 

Her stomach began to clench as she figured she’d probably never see him again. She was just about to give up and head back to the house when she heard the sloshing of footsteps behind her. Her body shivered again and she slowly turned around.

 

Expecting to see Obi, she became nervous when she saw the tall blonde haired guy stalking right towards her. She withheld a gasp as he smiled at her and gave a little wave. He stuffed his hands back in his pockets and he stopped before her.

 

“Hitomi?” his voice practically purred. She didn’t say anything as she stared at him. And she was almost positive that her mouth was wide open. But the guy was beautiful and had the same red eyes as Obi. Wearing a pair of baggy dark jeans, a plaid button down shirt, and a tan leather jacket, he would make any girl do a double and triple take at him. He appeared to be at least 20 to 25 years old with curly blond hair that came down to his shoulders. He had a chiseled jaw and prominent chin reminding her of what people refer to as the quintessential ‘movie star’ look. He had high cheek bones and a full mouth. He looked like he had just walked out of one of those high fashion ads where the models are all tan and blond. Except he didn’t have the broody expression. He was smiling and showing off his perfectly white set of teeth.

 

“Are you okay?” he waved his hand in front of her face. She snapped out of her trance.

 

“Uh huh.”

 

“You’re Hitomi right?”

 

“Yah.” She peered behind him wondering if there was another incredibly hot guy wandering around with brown hair so that the two of them and Obi could complete a shampoo advertisement.

 

He looked behind him and then back at her. “I don’t think anyone else is out here in this dreadful weather.”

 

Dreadful? She raised an eyebrow. “Who are you?”

 

“I’m Rediisu.”

 

“Okay. And you are?”

 

“I apologize for coming up to you like this. Obi is not going to be able to make it.”

 

“Oh, you’re a friend of Obi’s. I mean, I kind of figured with the red eyes and all.”

 

Rediisu gave a nod. “Let me walk you home.”

 

“Wait. Is Obi okay?”

 

Rediisu’s smile faded. “Don’t worry. I’m sure he will get in touch with you soon. He just had something he had to do.”

 

“Why do I not believe you?” she narrowed her eyes as her arm fell. The umbrella hit the ground and the rain started soaking her hair. Her heart sank in her chest.

 

“He’s fine. Let me get you home.” He leaned down grabbing the umbrella and held it over her. “Please.”

 

Hitomi stared down at the concrete as he carefully grabbed her arm and started walking her across the road. She felt a jolt of cold travel through her as he took a hold of her, but she really didn’t care. She was worried about Obi and she knew that Rediisu was keeping something from her. They stepped up onto the front porch and Rediisu collapsed the umbrella and brushed some water off of him.

 

“Will you please tell me the truth?” Hitomi whispered.

 

“I wish I could Hitomi.” He took a hold of her hand and placed a kiss on the back of it. “I’m sure I will see you again.” He slightly bowed in front of her and then jumped off the porch and ran across the street disappearing into the park. Rediisu was gone before she could even call out to him to wait.

 

Hitomi went into the house and ran upstairs. She heard her mother call out to her, but she didn’t answer and slammed her bedroom door. Throwing herself on the bed, she stuffed her face into the pillows. Her body was trembling with concern.

 

****

 

 

 

Obsidian sat at the desk in Guri’s room leafing through pages and pages of archives and books. He was trying to figure out just what Hitomi could be. He slammed a book shut and pushed himself away from the desk. He hadn’t found anything as Guri entered.

 

“Is Hitomi alright?” he spun around asking.

 

“She’s fine. Did you find anything?”

 

“No.” Obi turned back to the mess on the desk. “There are pages and excerpts missing from everything. But I have no idea what they could pertain to.”

 

“I’ll keep searching. How do you feel?”

 

“Like I’m being stabbed repeatedly from the inside of my body out.”

 

Guri let out a sigh. “Well, it’s time to go see the council. They just ordered you to their chambers.”

 

Obi’s shoulders slumped and he closed his eyes. Fluttering his eyes back open, he inhaled a deep breath and then straightened his shoulders out. He stood up turning around. “Please keep searching.”

 

Guri nodded and Obi started out of the room. He walked down the winding corridors to the very last cavern in the main hall. A few others had passed him and given him odd looks. Others were whispering. He stopped short of the tall bronze doors that towered above him.   Leaning against a side wall he clenched at his chest as a stabbing pain shot through him. He waited for the worst of it to pass and opened one of the doors. It creaked open and it easily slammed shut behind him. He walked into the oversized room. The ceilings were high and sloped creating a dome. There were torches lit around the circular room and Obi turned his attention to the east side.

 

The figures of the council, otherwise known as the Savetto sat perched up behind a large rock divider. Their seats were arranged in a half circle, with the head in the center. The seven figures were cloaked and Obi was unable to see their faces. Obi wasn’t even sure who the council members were since they were kept anonymous. But Obi had never even been in their chambers. He had never been in trouble and did not care to get into the politics of his world.

 

“Obsidian, please step closer,” one of them spoke. He had no idea which one.

 

Obi moved up closer and put his head down. He didn’t know what to expect, but he knew it would be nothing good. He wasn’t exactly sure what all they knew.

 

“You’ve been spending more time away Obsidian,” another one commented.

 

“There are only so many books you can read, my lord,” Obi replied.

 

“You have always done your duties well Obsidian. We were surprised to find one of your lists incomplete,” a female voice stated.

 

“Yes,” Obi nodded. “There is one proving to be difficult. I was hoping to get it handled before now. My apologies.”

 

“We’ve also found that you killed two innocents,” the first member added.

 

Obi gritted his teeth. “There was nothing innocent about them, my lord. But I apologize for not following the list.”

 

“Well, the question is, what do we do with you now Obsidian?” the female asked. “We can’t have you disobeying rules. Can you tell us the circumstances behind both?”

 

“I cannot. I have disobeyed,” Obi simply stated not willing to give them any information.

 

“Surely we can come up with something to suit his insubordination,” a fourth member said. “Obsidian has done everything we have ever asked him to.”

 

“Until now,” the female shot back.

 

Obi inhaled deeply. At least there was one that was somewhat on his side.

 

“It is obvious that we will need to discuss your punishment Obsidian. We will summon you later once decided. You are dismissed. But you are to stay in your cavern. Do not venture out.”

 

Obi hastily turned after a slight bow and rushed out of the room. Once in the hallway, he ran right into Guri.

 

“What happened?” Guri asked.

 

“They have to decide. They ordered me to my cavern, but I need to go see her.”

 

“Obi, you can’t,” Guri grabbed his arm. “They’ll just punish you more.”

 

“What does it matter now?”

 

“You don’t even know your punishment yet. Maybe it won’t be too bad. If you leave right now, they will find out. If you insist on seeing her, just wait a little while,” Guri practically pleaded.

 

“You swear to me she is fine?” his brow furrowed.

 

“I swear.”

 

Obi’s mouth tightened and his fist clenched. He swung his arm around landing his fist into the hard rock. He pulled his hand back and examined the blood sliding along his hand. He watched as the gashes in his knuckles instantly closed leaving no hint of injury. He had barely felt the impact. He huffed to himself and stomped off to his cavern.

 

****

 

 

 

The last thing that Hitomi had on her mind was shopping. Kerry showed up at the house around noon. Hitomi was still sulking in her room when Kerry walked in. She convinced Hitomi to get off the bed so they could leave. She tried to ask what was causing Hitomi’s horrid mood, but Hitomi wouldn’t give her any details.

 

Regina drove them to the mall and the three of them started at the department stores and then went to a few of the designer stores. Hitomi was not being very cooperative, instantly not liking every dress she tried on. Many of them were nice, but none of them were right. Kerry had found her perfect gown at the second store. It was a fitted teal floor length gown with spaghetti straps and jewels decorating the center of the chest.

 

They walked into the last store possible for Hitomi to find a dress and as soon as she walked in she saw the one she wanted. It was a simple strapless red satin dress with a little black belt around the waist. She could picture herself in the dress. She pictured herself on the arm of Obi. She had been trying not to think about him, but the dress reminded her of him.


Page 13

 

When she pointed it out, her mother immediately said ‘no’. Hitomi countered with telling her she wasn’t going to the dance then. Eventually after Hitomi was allowed to try the dress on, her mother caved in and bought her the dress.

 

They finished up the day buying shoes and make-up. The girls even convinced Regina to go to Victoria’s Secret. Hitomi was allowed to get some new bra and underwear sets, but nothing sexy. Cotton only. Hitomi was able to sneak in a few pairs of lacy black panties when her mother wasn’t paying attention.

 

When they got home, Kerry left for Shane’s house and Hitomi locked herself in the bathroom for a long bath. She soaked in the water until she was practically a prune and wrapped herself in her robe. She shut herself in her room and dressed in a tank top and underwear. It was still early, but she was exhausted. Besides being upset all day, she hadn’t felt very well. Weird pains would stab her chest, but eventually dissipate. She opened her curtains enough to view the bench. It still sat empty.

 

She crawled into bed and yanked the covers up around her. She needed to know why Obi hadn’t shown up today. Did he not want to see her? Did he not want anything to do with her anymore? But she didn’t understand why he would have sent Rediisu to tell her he couldn’t make it. He could have just not shown and left her angry at him and disappointed. Instead she was disappointed and worried. If he hadn’t sent Rediisu, she wouldn’t be mulling over every possibility in her mind.

 

She sighed to herself and closed her eyes hoping to see him in her dreams.

 

****

 

 

 

A book crashed against the rock wall. Pages flew out and scattered all over the floor. Obi felt like a caged animal and he couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to see her. He needed to be near her. With no other thoughts, he trudged out of the cavern.

 

It was already incredibly late when he found himself outside Hitomi’s house. All the lights were off and everything around was still. Obi could smell someone’s presence, but was unable to pinpoint exactly who it was. Obi assumed it was whoever Guri had watching Hitomi.

 

He made his way into the house and up to her room. Carefully shutting the door behind him, he stepped over to the side of the bed. Hitomi lay sleeping soundly on her stomach. She had however kicked all her covers off of herself and slept in very little clothing. Her top was bunched up above her stomach and her lower half was only covered with panties. Obi’s eyes grazed over the subtle curves of her body. Her lean legs were tangled in the sheets. With the faint light coming through the curtains her skin looked like pure silk.

 

Obi clenched his hands into fists to keep from reaching out and trailing his fingers along the entire length of her body. The sight of her was more than he could handle and he quickly grabbed the comforter and pulled it over her. He didn’t even allow a slight fingertip to graze her. He sat down on the floor by her face. But even with her covered, he still could picture what was underneath.

 

He shook his head and realized that the pain that had been flowing through him was now gone. Her scent was playing on his tongue and he felt soothed. Obi was lost in his thoughts as she began to move. It took him a few seconds to realize that her eyes were open and she was looking at him.

 

“Obi?” she whispered.

 

Obi opened his mouth but nothing came out. He had no idea how he was going to explain the fact that he was in her room at four a.m.

 

“I was hoping I would dream about you tonight,” she mumbled.

 

“Yes, a dream. I’m a dream,” he quickly nodded. This was perfect. He could say whatever he wanted to her and none of it would matter. She would wake up later thinking it all a dream.

 

“I waited for you. I waited for two hours.”

 

“It’s not that I didn’t want to see you.” He hesitantly reached up tucking some hair behind her ear.

 

She gave him a tired smile. “I’m nothing special.” Her eyes slowly closed.

 

“Yes you are,” he whispered. “You are special to me. Now drift off into your next dream, but remember to look for me in the morning.”

 

She let out a little murmur that he couldn’t understand and watched her as she fell back asleep.

 

****

 

Hitomi sat up in her bed and pushed her hair away from her face. She rubbed her eyes and inhaled deeply. She had dreamt of Obi briefly but she swore she could smell the scent of him in her room. He had the most amazing scent of fresh rain and musk with a hint of pine and that’s exactly how her room smelled.

 

She fell back in her bed and stared up at the ceiling remembering the way he looked and what he had said to her. Her eyes widened and she jumped out of the bed rushing over to the window. She threw back the curtains and peered down at the bench. Obi sat there waiting for her. Hitomi ran around her room while trying to get her legs into her jeans. She grabbed a cardigan and wrapped herself in it. After a quick trip to the bathroom, she pulled her hair into a ponytail as she ran down the stairs. She didn’t even stop to grab an umbrella or a jacket as she ran out the door.

 

Hitomi stepped out into the rain and hurried across the street. Obi stood up as she neared and took a few steps towards her, but she abruptly stopped only a few feet away from him. She had been so worried about him that now she was mad that he had made her worry.

 

She crossed her arms over her chest and took a defensive stance. “Where were you?”

 

“I’m sorry Hitomi. There was something I had to do.” He took a few steps closer.

 

“That’s all you’re going to tell me? You could have just had your friend come tell me that again,” she shot back.

 

Obi sighed. “Hitomi, I shouldn’t even be here now. I shouldn’t even be talking to you. I’m not a good…person.”

 

“If this is your way of saying you don’t want to talk to me anymore, then I wish you would just say it.”

 

“Why are you acting like a child?” he tilted his head peering at her.

 

Hitomi’s jaw dropped and her eyes narrowed. “Excuse me? A child? Maybe you should grow some balls and act like a man.” She turned to walk away from him when suddenly his grasp was on her elbow. He spun her around to face him and she inadvertently stumbled into him. Her face crashed into his chest and she stepped on his foot. She felt like a bumbling idiot, but he didn’t seem to care. He wrapped his arms around her and pressed her tightly against him. Hitomi’s body melted into his.

 

“Believe me when I say that I wanted to see you. I just couldn’t.”

 

“Why?” she turned her head sideways and mumbled. The word barely escaped her mouth as her heart thundered in her chest.

 

“I can’t tell you. Please just trust me.” His voice waivered as his chest rose and fell hard. Hitomi felt completely calmed in his arms. She closed her eyes and brought her arms up wrapping them around his waist. They stood there silent for a long time as the rain beat down on them. She was entranced with the feeling of his chest against her cheek and the way her head rose and fell with his every breath. She could have stayed like that forever.

 

But eventually Obi pulled away and took a hold of her arms. He looked down at her with a fierce seriousness.

 

“You need to go home. Now.”

 

“But…” she shook her head confused.

 

“Listen,” he interrupted. “I am in some trouble. But I don’t want you to worry about it. I want you to go home and stay there. I don’t know when I will be back.”

 

“How can you tell me you’re in trouble and ask me not to worry about it?” she replied.

 

Obi leaned down bringing his face within inches of hers. He stared into her eyes. “You are everything good Hitomi. I don’t deserve your concern. Now, please, go.”

 

Hitomi’s breathing staggered and she stepped away from him. He dropped his hands from her and watched her back peddle. She could sense the urgency in his voice. Previously he had been so controlled and composed, but now he seemed desperate. It was starting to frighten her.

 

“Will you promise me something?” she asked as she continued to step backwards. Even though she hardly knew him she felt something for him. Something incredibly strong. Something she was not willing to give up feeling.

 

He swallowed hard. “What?”

 

“Promise me I’ll see you again.”

 

Obi gave her a slight nod.

 

“No.” She stopped moving. “I want to hear you say it.”

 

“Hitomi, get back to your house now,” he said even more frantically.

 

“Not until you say it.”

 

Obi glanced around, peered up into the air and then back at her. “Fine. I promise you’ll see me again. Go.”

 

Not sure if she believed his promise, she still felt his urgency. She took in one last good look of him trying to memorize every detail and then turned for her house and ran. She didn’t look for him as she shut the door behind her and locked it because she knew he would not be there.

 

****

 

 

 

As soon as Hitomi had shut the door behind her, Obi turned and started hurrying through the park. He wanted to make sure that Hitomi would not be able to see him struggling against unseen beings. He made it to the other side of the park when he clearly smelled the other two. He had smelled them before while speaking to Hitomi but he knew he still had a little time. Obi stopped on the sidewalk and waited. Within a few seconds there were two thuds behind him.

 

“Hello Domitori. And is that Deiman with you?” Obi said without turning around.

 

“Hm. You’ve been developing your power well,” Domitori replied.

 

“I’d recognize your stench anywhere.”

 

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

 

“What do you two want?”

 

“We have some orders. We were sent directly by the Savetto. It seems you’ve been disobeying them left and right,” Deiman answered.

 

“You have to come back with us,” Domitori added.

 

“I can go back on my own,” Obi turned around and faced them. Domitori was tall and muscular. His shaved head did nothing to conceal his red eyes. He had a menacing smirk on his face. Deiman stood next to him. A bit shorter than Obi and Domitori, he was more compactly built. He had his black hair slicked back into a ponytail and his arms crossed against his chest.

 

“Now if we let you go then we wouldn’t be following our orders. We wouldn’t want to be in the same position as you,” Domitori snickered and then disappeared in front of him, only to reappear behind him. He grabbed Obi’s arms and twisted them behind his back. Obi watched as a smile spread across Deiman’s face. “You sure have been a bad boy. It’s taken you about a week to go from highly regarded to fugitive.”

 

“I wasn’t running away. I’ll take my punishment,” Obi spat.

 

“Oh, you’re so noble,” Domitori said sarcastically. He brought his head closer to Obi’s ear. “Rumor is that your punishment is going to be pretty bad. I doubt you’ll come out with that righteous attitude,” he whispered.


Page 14

 

Obi’s nostrils flared and he flung his head back knocking Domitori’s head. There was a loud crack and Domitori cursed. Deiman stepped forward with his hands clenched in fists. He punched Obi in the stomach. As Obi doubled over forward, Deiman landed an elbow on the back of his skull. Obi’s legs wobbled and gave out. His knees crashed to the pavement. Behind him Domitori swiftly kicked him in the back and then Deiman’s foot cracked against his jaw. Obi’s head flung back and whipped forward.

 

Domitori let out a sinister laugh. “You definitely don’t look like much now.” He pulled Obi’s arms back tighter. Obi lifted his head up and licked at the trickle of blood coming from the corner of his mouth. “Tell me; is it true that all of this is over a girl?”

 

Obi tightened his lips but said nothing.

 

“I don’t know what you’re thinking. She’s just an insignificant human.”

 

“Stop talking about her,” Obi grumbled.

 

“You’ve formed some sort of attachment to her. Interesting.” Domitori pulled Obi up from the ground. “I’m sure they will fix that. Let’s get out of here. I hate this place.” He nodded to Deiman, who quickly injected a syringe full of thick green liquid into Obi’s neck.

 

“Are you going to be a good boy now?” Deiman patted Obi’s cheek. Obi took the opportunity to build up a good amount of saliva and spit it in his face. Deiman raised his fist and landed a punch right in his mouth. Obi’s head slumped down and Deiman and Domitori each took a hold of one of his arms.

 

They didn’t remove their grips until they stood outside the Savetto’s doorway. Domitori opened the council door and shoved Obi in. He landed on his hands and knees and heard the two of them snicker as the door shut. Obi’s skin was tingling from the effects of the poison given to him. The poison was a way for Obi to feel pain intensified to unimaginable levels. A combination of two plants, Stinging Tree leaves and Angelica root were used when conducting punishments among his kind. He had never been given the concoction, but he had heard that it brought about the worst pain conceivable.

 

“Obsidian, on your feet,” a member said.

 

Obi pulled himself up and straightened his body. He moved closer to the cloaked figures.

 

“You continue to defy us.”

 

Obi felt it was wise just to keep his mouth shut. Anything he said would just further enrage them at this point.

 

“Considering your most recent defiance, we will be altering your punishment,” the female said. Obsidian nodded.

 

“Your sentence will be as follows; you will be required to ingest the Angelica root which will stop your ability to heal. You will be taken to the lower chambers where you will endure 100 hours of torture. Upon your release, you are to complete your list within 72 hours.”

 

Obi scanned the shadowed cloaked figures from left to right and then nodded his head.

 

“Your sentence begins now,” the female stated. The doors behind him opened and Domitori and Deiman walked in. They grabbed his arms, but he knew it was pointless to struggle. He only hoped that he was strong enough to endure everything so that he could keep his promise to Hitomi.

 

They dragged him to the lower chambers where he was given another dose of the Angelica root and Stinging Tree leaves mixture and then strapped to a chair. Domitori tightened the leather straps around his wrists and then stepped back.

 

“Pathetic. I really hope she was worth it,” he shook his head.

 

Obi began to sweat feeling the effects of the plants. He could feel the poisons working their way throughout his body. His wrists were aching from the leather bindings. He lifted his head and glared at him. “Worth every second.”

 

With that, Domitori slammed the door on the small room leaving Obi in complete darkness.

 Chapter 6 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was the beginning of the third day without Obi and every hour Hitomi’s worry was mounting. She had spent the rest of Sunday in her room. She couldn’t bring herself to eat. Her mother hadn’t been home so it made it easier for her to wallow. She had attempted to do some homework to occupy her mind, but it didn’t work. She ended up spending most of the day staring out her window at the empty bench.

 

She relived every second she had been in his arms. She replayed every word he had said. She hardly knew anything about him, but she missed him.

 

Hitomi had woken up Monday morning with hopes that Obi would be back. But still the bench was empty. Bradley had come to pick her up again without a warning from Kerry. He asked her mind numbing questions about her weekend, adding in a comment about how she never called him. The rest of the conversation consisted of the dance. Hitomi divulged the color of her dress so that he could coordinate and they discussed the best dinner options.

 

Once at school the rest of the day was a blur. She trudged through her classes and hardly spoke at lunch. She could see a bit of concern from Kerry, but she never pushed the issue until the next morning. Kerry picked her up Tuesday morning with the intent of having a ‘talk’. Hitomi wanted to tell her about Obi, but she wasn’t exactly sure what to say. She decided just to say that she was upset with her mom for her lack of freedoms. The Saturday shopping trip was supporting evidence. The rest of the day Hitomi had to hear Kerry talk about how Regina was just protective and caring.

 

At least during the day Hitomi had school to numb her mind. The evenings were much harder. She couldn’t concentrate on her homework instead she would fantasize about going to the dance with Obi. After which she would fall back into analyzing all the interactions she had with Obi. She was even starting to think that some of her dreams had been real.

 

Wednesday morning was shaping up to be the worst day yet. Hitomi pulled herself out of bed clenching her chest. The pains had been intensifying every day, but now they were no longer going away. They were constantly present only fading in and out of full concentration. She got herself dressed and went into the bathroom. She examined the dark circles under her eyes as she pulled her hair back into a braid. When she got downstairs, her mother called her into the kitchen. As she walked in, her mother was sitting at the table holding her coffee cup in both hands.

 

“Hitomi, sit down. I want to talk to you.”

 

“Mom, I have to get to school.”

 

“Well, you’re ride isn’t here yet. Sit down.”

 

With a sigh, Hitomi moved over to the table and sat across from her mother. She kept her head down waiting for Regina to say something.

 

“Sweetie, I am worried about you. Are you feeling alright?”

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“I don’t think you are. This isn’t about some boy is it?”

 

Without thinking, Hitomi snapped. “He’s notsomeboy!”

 

Regina quickly leaned back and her eyes widened. “Who is he?”

 

“Never mind. I don’t want to talk about it.” Hitomi abruptly got up.

 

“Hitomi, have you been sneaking around with him?”

 

Hitomi narrowed her eyes. “How can I sneak around mom, when you’re never home? I know you drown yourself in your work to forget about dad.” She watched as hurt overwhelmed her mother’s face. She immediately regretted what she said. “I’m sorry. I’m just going to go to school.” Regina nodded as a horn honked outside.

 

Hitomi hurried outside and became instantly irritated it was Bradley who was picking her up again. She was getting tired of Kerry deciding everything for her and trying to push her into something she didn’t want. Although the entire situation could have been easily avoided. If her mother would have just let her get a job when she turned 16, she could have saved money to buy a car. But her mother had been so terrified that she’d get in a car accident. Hitomi was still surprised she was allowed to get her license.

 

She hiked herself up into the SUV quickly shutting the door before her mother had a chance to come running after her.

 

“Everything okay?” Bradley asked.

 

“Yah. Peachy. Can we just go?” Hitomi replied holding her bag against her chest. She thought somehow the pressure would take the pains away.

 

“You’ve seemed different the past couple of days,” he commented as he backed the car out into the road.

 

“I haven’t been sleeping well. I just want to get this day over with.”

 

Bradley was quiet for awhile and then started talking about his upcoming soccer game that just happened to be the same day as the dance- this Saturday. As they arrived at school her pains were getting even stronger and lasting longer. She trudged from class to class until lunch which she spent in the nurse’s office. She was exhausted and just wanted to avoid having to deal with anyone. The nurse left her alone in a small room with a cot and she laid down curling herself into a tight ball. She easily drifted off into sleep.

 

Hitomi opened her eyes, but she wasn’t sure they were actually open. The room was in complete darkness. She blinked her eyes to make sure they were actually open. The room was cold and damp. It smelled of sulfur and metallic blood. She could practically taste it on her tongue.

 

Her arms were bound above her head, her upper arms tight against her ears. She wiggled her feet realizing they were bound as well. She was hanging in the air, held by something unseen. She started moving her body to break free. She opened her mouth to yell, but nothing came out.

 

Suddenly there was a loud crack. Her back stung and she tried to cry out from the pain. A second crack sounded and she felt the skin on her back slicing open. Her body twisted and squirmed as the blows continued slicing her over and over again.

 

She screamed as she sat up in the cot.

 

“Hitomi, dear you were dreaming,” the nurse held her by the shoulders.

 

Hitomi glanced around the white sterile room and immediately felt at her back. Her skin was intact. She wiped away the sweat from her forehead. The dream had felt so real.

 

“You don’t look so well. I’ll write you a pass for next period,” the nurse said.

 

“No, I’m fine,” Hitomi shook her head. She shrugged the nurse’s hands away and swung her feet around. “I don’t want to go back to sleep.” She got up grabbing her bag and trudged off to her next class.

 

The dream disturbed her and by the time she got home from school all she wanted to do was crawl into bed. She didn’t even bother to change her clothes as she pulled her comforter over her and buried her head in the pillows. Hitomi laid there listening to the tapping of the rain against her window. Each drop sounded like a crash of thunder against her skull. Her mind wandered back to her dream and she worried about Obi. She knew he said he was in trouble, but after her dream she couldn’t help but think that he was in more trouble than he let on.

 

Hitomi heard her mother come home late that night before she was finally able to drift off to sleep. By that time, she had fully convinced herself that her dream had everything to do with Obi. Somehow she was feeling what he was feeling. She tried to flood her mind with good thoughts hoping that he was able to feel her emotions too.


Page 15

 

When her alarm went off in the morning, she sensed someone sitting on her bed next to her. She reached over turning the alarm off and opened her eyes.

 

“Obi?” she mumbled wiping her eyes until her mother’s form came into view.

 

“Obi? Who is Obi dear?” Regina asked.

 

Hitomi sighed and rolled over facing the wall. “No one.”

 

“Doesn’t sound like ‘no one’.”

 

“Mom, I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Alright sweetie, but if you ever do you know you can talk to me about anything.” Regina lightly stroked Hitomi’s hair. “I have to go to the hospital, but I should be home around dinner time. Okay?”

 

“Um hm.”

 

Regina left the room and Hitomi heard the car pull out of the driveway. She pulled the comforter up over her and groaned, not wanting to get out of the bed. The pains in her chest were dull today but she hadn’t had a good night sleep in five days. The snooze alarm went off and she reached over smacking the clock.

 

After crawling out of bed, she got ready for school and headed downstairs. She went into the kitchen to grab something to eat when she heard a loud bang from the front porch. The sound made her jump and she turned around heading for the front door. Hitomi was just about to open the door when there was a scratching sound, as if fingernails were being scraped across the wooden porch.

 

Hurriedly she went back into the living room to look out the window. She pushed back one of the curtains and peered outside. Hitomi glanced down across the porch and saw a figure lying by the door.  She gasped and ran back over to the door. She pulled it open and her heart felt like it jumped into her throat.

 

“Obi!”

 

Obi lay on the porch curled into a fetal position. Wearing only a pair of faded jeans, she immediately noticed blood smears covering his body and stained across his jeans. He was completely motionless and sickly pale.

 

“Obi?” she knelt down beside him and put her hand on his shoulder giving him a little shake. Still he did not move and she became more frantic. “Obi, you have to wake up?” She shook him harder and then pulled her hand back. Blood stained her fingers and she leaned over him to peer at his back. “Oh my…” She covered her mouth with her hand as tears welled in her eyes. Obi’s back was completely in shreds. His skin was torn in every direction, blood seeping from every tear.

 

“Obi, please wake up,” Hitomi reached over and moved his hair away from his face. “C’mon you have to open your eyes,” her voice pleaded. She shook his body harder as the tears started trailing down her face. “Please Obi.”

 

Her chest tightened and she started uncontrollably sobbing. She rested his head on her lap as her tears dripped from her chin onto his face. “You have to open your eyes…you have to open your eyes,” she repeated stroking the side of his face. She squeezed her eyes shut as she leaned over him. She didn’t know what to do, her mind overrun with hysterical thoughts and emotions. He couldn’t be dead. They had such a limited time together. There was so much she didn’t know about him and so much she wanted to learn.

 

“Obi,” she whispered as her lips trembled. “You can’t leave me.”

 

****

 

 

 

Hitomi’s tears slid down her face turning into bright illuminated drops. The drops twinkled as if made of liquid gold and dripped onto Obi’s face. One single tear shimmered across his cheek and trailed down to his lips disappearing between them. Obi’s face began to flush as the tears’ glow faded.

 

****

 

 

 

She held his face between her hands and leaned down pressing her forehead to his. His skin was warming.

 

Suddenly Obi’s body shook and he started coughing. Hitomi pulled back and opened her eyes. His skin was becoming flushed with color again and he let out another cough.

 

“Obi?” Hitomi whispered hopeful. His body shivered and he let out a groan. “Obi, stay still. You’re injured.”

 

His eyes fluttered open and he focused on her face. “Hitomi…” he mumbled and then his back arched and he grimaced.

 

“You’re alive.”

 

Obi winced again and then reached his hand up to her face, resting his palm against her cheek. “Why are you crying?”

 

“I thought you were dead.” Hitomi sniffled.

 

“You were crying for me?” Obi questioned.

 

Hitomi didn’t say anything and she took his hand from her face, squeezing it in between her hands. “We should get you inside. Can you get up?”

 

Obi pulled his hand away and braced himself sitting up. He gritted his teeth together withholding any screech of pain. His hands closed into angry fists. “How did I get here?”

 

“I don’t know,” she shrugged and wiped her face. “Let me help you.” She took a hold of his arm, but he immediately pulled it away.

 

“I’ll be fine,” he huffed and slowly struggled up to his feet as she stood too. His feet staggered and he fell against the house. He leaned his shoulder against the house by the front door as he tried to catch his breath. His nostrils flared with anger.

 

Hitomi wanted to reach out and help him. “What can I do?” she asked somewhat helplessly.

 

“Go inside and stay there.”

 

“What about you? Your back…”

 

“My back will heal. I can’t stay here.”

 

“Don’t even think you’re leaving. You are hurt and you need to rest,” Hitomi stated.

 

“Hitomi…”

 

“No Obi. I am not going to let you go back out there so don’t argue with me.” She moved next to him and put his arm around her neck so she could help support him. She could see Obi’s irritation on his face, but she ignored it and they slowly moved into the house. Hitomi slammed the door with her foot and they shuffled over to the bottom of the stairs.

 

“Where are we going?” Obi mumbled.

 

“Up to my room. You can lay down on the bed and rest.”

 

She felt Obi’s body tense, but ignored it and started moving up the stairs. He pulled himself up the stairs with the handrail, trying not to put much weight on her. She knew that he was in terrible pain but was trying to put on a brave face. They stumbled down the hall and then stopped outside her bedroom. Obi seemed apprehensive to go any further and he leaned against the door frame.

 

“This is my room,” she said as she looked up at him. He didn’t look at her but gave a nod surveying the room. Seeing him looking so weak made her insides ache. “Let’s get you over to the bed.”

 

“I can do it myself.” He removed his arm from around her and took a deep breath.

 

“Let me help you.”

 

“I don’t need your help!” he snapped.

 

Hitomi moved away from him and stepped behind him. She stared at his back. She couldn’t even begin to count the lashes. She turned away from him. “I should call my mom. You need to go the hospital.”

 

“No hospitals.” He pushed himself from the door frame and started across the room.  She walked behind him over to the bed and he sat down. She pulled the covers back.

 

“What can I do?” She bit at her bottom lip as there was a car horn outside.

 

He lowered his head into his hands. “Nothing,” he mumbled.

 

She let out a sigh. “I’ll be right back.” Hitomi rushed out of the room and downstairs. Bradley was waiting in the driveway. She grabbed her coat and went outside, quickly getting into the passenger side.

 

“Good morning,” Bradley smiled.

 

“Hi. Um, I’m sorry you came all the way over here. I’m not feeling well so I’m going to stay home today.”

 

“Is everything alright?” he asked concerned.

 

“Yah. I just need a day in bed.” She immediately thought about Obi lying in her bed.

 

“Okay. Are you still going to come to the dance?”

 

She wanted to roll her eyes, but she just gave him a slight nod. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow.” She practically jumped out of the car and hurried back inside.

 

She wanted to immediately go upstairs, but she figured she’d give him a few minutes to get settled and she needed a few minutes to compose herself. She was thrilled that Obi had returned, but scared about what had happened to him.

 

Hitomi made some tea and carried two mugs upstairs. She stopped outside her room and peeked around the doorway. Obi had lain down on the bed on his stomach. She stared at his muscular body completely torn apart.

 

“Obi?” she whispered as she walked into the room.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I brought you some tea.” She moved over to the bed having to turn her eyes to the floor unable to tolerate looking at his skin anymore. Placing the mug on the nightstand, she knelt down on the floor beside his face. “What happened to you?”

 

“I told you I was in some trouble.” He stared at her for a minute and then turned his head away pushing his arms under the pillows.

 

“Who did this?”

 

“Hitomi, just leave me alone.”

 

“Obi, why won’t you just tell me what happened? Your back…”

 

“It’ll heal. Just go away.”

 

“I want to help you,” she muttered unwilling to leave him. “Why won’t you let me help you? Because I’m not going to leave you…”

 

“I don’t want you to see me like this!” Obi barked.

 

She was taken aback by his outburst. She pursed her lips determined not to take his tone personally. “It’s too late for that.” She sipped her tea and then set it next to the other mug. Hitomi’s pulse continued to race as she reached up resting her hand on his shoulder. “Will you look at me?” she asked needing to see his face.

 

He let out a deep breath and slowly turned his head back towards her. “What?”

 

“Tell me what I can do to help you.”

 

“I just need time to heal.”

 

“Let me at least clean up your back for you. You’re covered in blood.”

 

“Sorry about your sheets.” He lowered his eyes from her.

 

“I’m not concerned about my sheets,” she rolled her eyes and got up from the floor. “I’ll be right back.” She left the room and returned minutes later with a bowl of warm water, a cloth, bandages and ointment. She pulled a chair over to the bed and sat down next to him. Placing the bowl down on the chair, she wet the cloth in the water. Hitomi rung out the cloth and held her hand over his back.

 

“I don’t want to hurt you,” she whispered.

 
Page 16

“Just do it. I can handle it.” He rested his arms under his chin and buried his head.

 

She wanted to run her fingers through his hair and assure him that everything would be alright. But she squeezed her fingers around the cloth as her lips mashed together. She carefully lowered her hand towards his back. Just as she touched his skin, his body instantly tensed. Although he made no sound, Hitomi pulled her hand back.

 

“You really should go to the hospital.”

 

“I can’t go to the hospital. You said you wanted to help.”

 

Hitomi took a deep breath as tears again formed in her eyes. She wiped them away with the back of her hand and cautiously started wiping away the blood from his skin. Hitomi moved her hand gently and slowly. The gashes were deep and some were still bleeding. She couldn’t imagine how much pain she was causing him, but he barely flinched after the initial contact. If he did flinch, she would stop and give him a few moments until she resumed.

 

They were silent the entire time. It took her over an hour to get his back cleaned up. By the end, the bowl of water was completely red. Most of the bleeding had stopped. She put the cloth in the bowl and uncapped the ointment. She was nervous about touching him, but tried not to think about it as she spread the ointment across each gash. Some were partially healed already and then there were two gashes along each shoulder blade that weren’t red at all. They looked like slits permanently in his back. She wanted to run her finger over them to see if the skin felt as rough as it looked around the two areas.

 

“Obi, what are these other gashes? The healed ones?” she asked breaking the silence.

 

“They’re nothing.”

 

She pulled the sheet up over him and stood up. Finally she saw his body relax. Hitomi muffled a yawn and picked up the bowl. “I’ll let you get some rest.”

 

“Hitomi?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I’m sorry I yelled at you. I just don’t like you seeing me like this.”

 

Hitomi wasn’t sure what to say. She clutched the bowl and started out of the room.

 

“Please don’t leave.”

 

She turned back to him. “You need to get some sleep.”

 

“I’ll sleep better if you’re here.”

 

Her body trembled as she moved back over. “Okay.” She set the bowl down and moved the chair back over to her desk. She sat down and opened her laptop as she heard him moving around in the bed. She listened to it creak as he got comfortable and then it was silent. Hitomi stopped herself from peering over her shoulder to look at him.

 

“Come here,” he mumbled after a few minutes.

 

“Obi, go to sleep.”

 

“Not until you come here.”

 

Hitomi turned to him. He was lying on his side facing her and he had scooted back towards the wall. Her heart began racing as she stood up. She wasn’t sure what she saw in his gaze, but his eyes looked different. They looked warmer. They were no longer the blood red. They were almost an amber color. She walked over to the bed.

 

“Do you need something?” she asked stupidly.

 

He quietly sighed and closed his eyes. Obi’s hand lazily lay on the empty side of the bed. He lightly patted the mattress. Hitomi’s body stiffened. She had barely kissed a boy let alone hopped into bed with one. She told herself that Obi was in no shape to try anything, not that she really would have minded. She felt something for Obi. Something she didn’t understand.

 

As she pulled back the sheet, it felt as though sparks were hitting all of her nerves. She slowly climbed into bed and brought the sheet up over her. She shifted onto her side facing him.

 

“Are you warm enough?” she asked.

 

He nodded his head as his eyes opened. Obi moved his free hand up to where Hitomi had hers tucked under the pillow. Reaching under the pillow, he laid his hand on top of hers. Hitomi wondered if he felt the wave of warmness move over his body when they touched as she did. He watched her as if he was waiting for her to pull away. But she didn’t. She welcomed his touch. He let out a little hum and his eyes closed again. Hitomi couldn’t take her gaze from him. She couldn’t believe he was in her bed and she was with him. It had been four long days without him and then she realized that the pains in her chest had completely disappeared. She studied him wondering if the pains had something to do with him. The lashes across his back reminded her of her dream. She was starting to realize there was a link between them that she didn’t understand when her eyelids got heavy and she fell asleep.

 Chapter 7 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The phone was ringing. It was barely audible from downstairs, but it continued to ring. It was starting to get irritating and Hitomi groaned. She opened her eyes and glanced at the clock taking in that it was almost two o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly she remembered everything from this morning and became aware of the body behind her. She could practically feel the heat coming from his body. While she slept, she had shifted from her left side to her right. She glanced over her shoulder at Obi still sleeping when she realized that his left hand was resting on her waist.

 

Finally the phone stopped ringing, but Hitomi was preoccupied with the intimacy of their position. Her body felt tingly especially where his thumb was tucked under her shirt on bare skin. She didn’t want to wake him, but she wanted to see him. She slowly twisted her body around, his hand moving around her waist and resting on her stomach as she moved onto her back. Her stomach fluttered and she twisted more ending up facing him. His fingers left a trail of heat across her midsection.

 

She stared at the beauty of his face, but then noticed he was profusely sweating. Hitomi reached up and placed her hand on his forehead. Obi was burning up, almost stinging her hand. Before she could pull her hand away, Obi groaned and his facial expression turned to anguish.

 

Rapidly his hand moved from her waist and grabbed her wrist. He pushed her onto her back grabbing her other wrist and pinning them over her head as he hovered over her. His grip tightened as a growl escaped his throat.

 

“Obi, what are you doing?” Hitomi said shocked.

 

His eyes blinked open and his expression changed to surprise. “Hitomi?” His chest was rising and falling deeply.

 

“What are you doing?” she repeated.

 

“Oh god.” He let go of her wrists and put his hand on his forehead as he slid off of her. He leaned his shoulder against the wall and covered his face. Hitomi sat up and rubbed her wrists. “I…I could have hurt you.” His body shook.

 

“Were you having a bad dream?” She tucked her legs up and reached over touching his shoulder.

 

“I don’t know.” He shrugged her hand away. “Are you okay?”

 

“You didn’t hurt me.” She rested her hands in her lap. “You should lie back down. You have a terrible fever.”

 

He let out a deep breath and lay back down on his side. “The poison is just working its way out of my system.” He rested his hand on her knee. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

 

“I’m fine. What do you mean ‘the poison’?” She looked down at him trying not to focus on his hand.

 

“Um, it’s nothing.”

 

“Will you stop saying that? It’s not nothing. Your back is torn to shreds and now you’re telling me you were poisoned? What are you in trouble for? Did you kill someone?” Hitomi replied frustrated.

 

“I just…I did something I wasn’t supposed to do. I was given a poison to basically enhance my nerve endings so that I felt more pain.”

 

“What? You say that so nonchalantly. Someone did this to you. Why?”

 

“Hitomi, I can’t go into it. You wouldn’t understand.”

 

“No, you’re right. I wouldn’t understand why someone would torture you and poison you. That’s beyond my comprehension.” She shook her head. “Nor would I ever want to understand.”

 

“I don’t want you to understand it.”

 

Hitomi lowered her head and turned away from him.

 

“But it’s not because of why you think.”

 

“And what do I think?” she turned back to him.

 

“You think I don’t trust you.”

 

She swallowed hard and got up from the bed. “I’m going to make us some lunch. Are you hungry?”

 

“Are you just going to avoid the conversation?” he raised an eyebrow.

 

“You’re not going to tell me anything anyway. So I’m not really avoiding it,” she shrugged and left the room. She hurried downstairs as the phone rang again. Recognizing the number as the hospital, Hitomi grabbed the phone. “Hello?”

 

“Hitomi, why didn’t you go to school today?” her mother asked.

 

“I didn’t feel good.”

 

“The school called me. I wish you would have told me this morning.”

 

“Sorry. I just woke up.”

 

“Well, just let me know next time.”

 

“Fine mom. I’m going to get something to eat.”

 

“There should be some soup in the cabinet. I’ll be home in a few hours to check on you. I might need to cover a shift tonight.”

 

“Okay. Bye mom.” Hitomi hung up the phone and dug through the cabinets. She found some soup and after heating it up carried two bowls upstairs. When she walked into her room, Obi was still lying in bed but had kicked all the covers down to his feet. He sat up as she walked over and she handed him a bowl. “Hope you like chicken noodle.”

 

“Thanks.”

 

She sat down at the foot of the bed facing him, unable to take her eyes from him. His bare chest was sculpted and smooth. “How’s your back?”

 

“Better.” He glanced up from the bowl and watched her staring at his upper body.

 

She lowered her head and started eating the soup. “Is there anyone I need to call and tell them you are here?”

 

“No.”

 

“No parents or friends? Siblings? Girlfriend?”

 

“No.”

 

Hitomi let out a little huff of irritation. She was never going to find out anything about this guy.

 

“What’s the dress for?” Obi asked.

 

“Hmm?” she turned and looked at the red dress for the dance hanging on the outside of the closet. “Oh. Just a dance I’m going to Saturday night at the school.”

 

“With that guy in the black car?”


Page 17

 

Her eyes moved back to his. “No. I mean, yes. Sort of.”

 

“Which is it?”

 

“He’s going too, but we’re going with friends.” She felt she needed to make it absolutely clear that she was not interested in Bradley. “He’s just a friend of a friend.”

 

“Mm hm,” Obi nodded.

 

“I mean, he’s not my boyfriend or anything.”

 

“You said that before.”

 

“Then why did you ask?”

 

“I didn’t ask.”

 

Hitomi rolled her eyes and lowered her head again as she felt her cheeks blush. They finished eating and Hitomi took the bowls and the bowl of bloody water downstairs. She did the dishes and went back upstairs. Obi had lay back down in bed and pulled the covers up over him, which she was grateful. She was having a difficult time focusing on anything except his bare torso.

 

“Is there anything else you need?” Hitomi asked moving towards the bed.

 

“I’ll be fine.”

 

“Is there anything you want to do?”

 

Obi raised an eyebrow and she felt her stomach do a flip. He stared at her for a minute and then glanced behind her. “Why don’t you pick out a book?”

 

She turned around eyeing her bookshelf. “What do you like to read?”

 

“Anything. Everything. Pick out your favorite.”

 

Hitomi scanned the spins of each title and then reached over grabbingThe Mists of Avalon. She carried it over to the bed and held it out to him. “Here.”

 

“Would you read it?” he asked.

 

She pulled the book back and clutched it to her chest. She thought about pulling the chair over to sit by the bed as she read, but she surveyed the empty area next to him. He scooted back even further for her.

 

****

 

 

 

Obi watched her wide eyed as she sat down on the bed and swung her legs up. She propped herself up against the pillows and opened the book, and then glanced down at him.

 

“I’ll read if you promise to get more rest,” Hitomi smiled down at him. Obi gave her a slight nod and she began reading.

 

He lay there listening to her velvety voice and watching the way that her lips curved around every word. After the hell he had been through, he felt as though he was finally in heaven. Obi had been angry earlier, but just her presence easily soothed him. He hadn’t been angry with her, but angrier with himself. He did not want her to see him weak. Obi didn’t want to need her help. He should be the one protecting her. He had let himself get too emotionally attached to her, so attached that his body ached when not near her or touching her. Wanting to hate her for making him feel, he needed only a glimpse of her smile or a whiff of her scent for those feelings to completely disappear. He had tried to stay away from her. He had even tried to push her away, but she wouldn’t let him.

 

Obi was designed to be a cold, heartless being. But he could not be that way with her. She brought out emotions he never could have imagined. She had changed him and he knew he would never be the same. She was constantly in his thoughts. Hitomi had simply become his reason for being.

 

“I thought you were going to rest,” Hitomi interrupted his thoughts.

 

“Hm?” His eyes widened as he realized she had caught him staring at her. “I am resting.”

 

She smirked slightly and he sighed closing his eyes. As soon as she started reading again he stole another glance at her. She was utterly beautiful. Her eyes shined like the glistening of the sun off the ocean. But it was her mouth that entranced him. The way her lips moved completely mesmerized him making his breath stagger.

 

Hitomi glanced down at him and he quickly shut his eyes. He inhaled deeply and let her scent travel through him warming every part of his body.

 

He had gone against his every instinct and endured so much for these moments with her. Obi would never let her be hurt. He would kill anyone who threatened her. No one would ever complete his list.

 

Obi woke up with a feeling of emptiness in his chest. His eyes fluttered open to the vacant spot on the bed. Instantly he felt overcome with worry. The book lay open to where she had left off reading. His eyes darted around the room as he sat up.

 

Pulling the sheets back, he got out of bed and started for the doorway. Suddenly a scent filled his nostrils that he knew he should recognize but just couldn’t place it. His pulse quickened as he raced downstairs. Hitomi stood at the front door with her hand slowly pulling back the knob.

 

“Don’t open the door!” he shouted.

 

She turned to him as the door creaked open slightly. Obi flung himself against the door slamming it shut.

 

“What’s the matter?” She gave him a quizzical look.

 

Flipping the lock, he glanced at her and then hunched over against the door catching his breath.

 

“Obi, you shouldn’t be out of bed.”

 

“I’m fine.” Standing back up straight, he brushed his hair away from his face and lowered his eyes to her. “Why were you going outside?”

 

“I heard a knock. But there was no one there when I looked out the window. What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing.” He shook his head and pushed her aside. He opened the door a crack and glanced around. There was no one there, but at the foot of the door was his bag. Letting out a sigh, he opened the door fully and stepped out. Grabbing the bag, Obi surveyed the area again and stepped back into the house shutting and locking the door behind him.

 

There must have still been some poison in his system. He had been able to smell another presence but he could not distinguish it. Realizing it had just been Guri, he was relieved. He figured it also must have been Guri who had brought him to Hitomi.

 

“What’s the bag?” Hitomi asked moving up beside him.

 

“Um, it’s mine.”

 

“Who knows you’re here?”

 

“A friend.”

 

“Rediisu?”

 

Obi’s head snapped down to her. “What did you say?” He thought possibly he had heard her wrong. There was no way she could know ofhim.

 

“Rediisu. I met him the other day.”

 

“When? What did he say?” Obi’s eyes narrowed. He couldn’t understand what Rediisu would be doing coming to see her. He typically kept to himself and under the noses of the council broke every rule imaginable, except for the two that Obi managed to break. Somehow Rediisu always got away with everything, including seducing humans. He raised an eyebrow. “He didn’t try anything with you did he?”

 

“Try anything? I’m not sure what…”

 

“Nevermind. But what did he want?”

 

“He showed up the morning you were supposed to meet me at the bench. All he said was that you weren’t coming,” she shrugged.

 

“Just promise me if you see him again that you’ll stay away from him.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Promise me,” Obi replied sternly. He was concerned as to what Rediisu’s motivation was for coming to Hitomi. Was Rediisu spying for the Savetto? Or was he who Guri sent to watch her while Obi couldn’t? But he didn’t understand why Rediisu and Guri would be working together. Obi obviously had not been completely informed as to what was going on.

 

He wanted to go find Guri for some answers, but he could not risk leaving Hitomi unprotected.

 

“Fine. I promise.” Hitomi huffed.

 

Obi easily sensed her irritation as he dropped his bag to the floor and stepped in front of her. He cautiously reached out and lightly grabbed her wrists. “Hitomi, I just want to keep you safe.”

 

“Safe? Safe from what?” Her eyes were wide and filled with so much innocence.

 

He had the overwhelming urge to pull her close to him just so he could feel her against his chest. Taking a deep breath, he settled for her soft skin on his fingertips. “From anyone that might hurt you.”

 

“Who would want to hurt me?” she laughed nervously.

 

“I don’t know.”

 

“You know, it’s so frustrating how you won’t tell me anything.”

 

“What can I tell you to make you not frustrated?”

 

Hitomi crossed her arms and thought about the question. “Can I get back to you with a question when I come up with a good one?”

 

Obi mashed his lips together to keep from smiling and gave her a nod.

 

“Okay. You should get back in bed.”

 

He picked up his bag from the floor. “Mind if I take a shower first?” He caught her staring at him, but she quickly looked away.

 

“It’s across from my room.”

 

He watched her for a few seconds and then headed upstairs to the bathroom. After he had taken a hot shower, he inspected his back in the mirror. The welts were already closing and healing. He knew that poison was still in his system and should have still slowed the process.

 

Pulling on some clean jeans and a black t-shirt, he ran his hand through his hair to untangle it when he noticed the difference in his eyes. He stared at the mirror as there was a knock on the door.

 

“Obi? Obi, get out here,” Hitomi said frantically.

 

Obsidian flung the door open and quickly grabbed her arms. “Are you alright?”

 

“I won’t be if my mom finds you. You have to hide.”

 

Hide? Obi raised an eyebrow as she yanked him across the hall. She pushed him into her closet and shut the door. He figured now probably wasn’t the best time to inform her that he could make himself invisible. That would raise way too many more questions.

 

He pulled the string for the light as the door opened back up. Hitomi tossed his bag in and it smacked him in the knees.

 

“Sorry. Just be quiet. She won’t be here long.”

 

Obi didn’t have a chance to reply as the door shut again. Sighing, he sat down on the ground and rifled through his bag. He could hear muffled voices but could not make out exactly what was being said.

 

Sitting in her closet, he was completely surrounded by her scent alone with his thoughts. This was definitely not a situation he thought he would ever find himself in. Always the efficient one, Obi was now branded an outcast. His life would never be the same. He scoffed at himself.Life.That was not something he was fortunate to have.

 

He was beginning to wonder what the hell he was doing. He was infatuated with a girl. A human girl. It was something he had seen others get destroyed for. Something he had mocked others for. It was something he wasn’t sure he could stop.


Page 18

 

Get up and walk out of here. Finish your list and everything can go back to the way it was.He shook his head at his thoughts. He could go back to sitting in his dark cavern and slowly wasting away. The notion made his chest clench as the door opened.

 

There she stood smiling. She was his own personal brightness and he wouldn’t trade that sensation for anything. Obi wanted to feel it forever.

 

“Sorry. She’s gone.”

 

Obi got up and went out into the room. “When will she be back?”

 

“Not until morning.”

 

He gave a nod and walked over to the bed.

 

“I’m going to go take a shower and then I’ll make us some dinner. Do you want to watch a movie after?” Hitomi clasped her hands behind her back and rocked back on her heels.

 

“Sure,” he shrugged and sat down.

 

She fidgeted for a few more moments and then went around the room picking out various articles of clothing. Within a few minutes she disappeared across the hall. Obi relaxed on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.

 

They sat on the couch munching on pizza after her shower. Hitomi couldn’t decide on what to cook so she settled for ordering out. After eating, Hitomi made some popcorn and she shoved a DVD into the player. He watched as she curled herself up on the other side of the couch. Flipping the light beside her off, she set the bowl of popcorn between them.

 

“What are we watching?” he asked.

 

She smirked. “Have you seenBraveheart?”

 

“No.” The only movies Obi had ever seen were a few inappropriate ones at Rediisu’s house. She started the movie and he watched her dig into the popcorn. While she stared ahead at the TV, he spent most of the movie eyeing her. He liked watching her reactions to certain parts in the film. By the end, Hitomi had drifted off to sleep. Resting his head on the back of the couch, he gazed at her for awhile and then moved the bowl to the table. Obi got up and moved over to her, picking her up and carrying her upstairs.

 

He laid her down in bed and pulled the covers up over her. She let out a little groan and smiled in her sleep. Obi moved around the house making sure everything was secure and all the lights shut off. He walked into her room like he had so many nights before, but now she would not be surprised to wake and see him there.

 

Standing at the foot of the bed, he debated what he wanted to do and what he should do. Finally deciding, he crawled into the bed behind her. He pulled the covers up and slid his arm under her pillow. The weight of her head rested on his arm as she shifted in the bed facing him. Obi reached up and moved a few strands of her hair from her face. He had never felt as tranquil as he did at that moment. Relaxing his head onto the pillow, he closed his eyes.

 

In the morning light crept through the curtains and hit Obi’s face. He opened his eyes and was immediately greeted with Hitomi’s face. During the night they had moved closer to each other. Her foot was pressed against his shin and their knees slightly touching. His fingertips were barely touching her abdomen and their faces were only inches apart.

 

Obi pulled his hand back and carefully maneuvered himself out of the bed so not to wake her. Someone was interrupting his constant waves of Hitomi’s scent. He left the room and went downstairs out to the front porch.

 

“I figured you’d be awake soon.” Guri sat in one of the porch chairs and glanced up at him. 

 

“What are you doing here?”

 

“I’m sorry. Did I interrupt you playing house?” he smirked.

 

“What do you want Guri?”

 

“I came to warn you.”

 

“Of?”

 

“They’re sending Domitori to make sure you complete your list. It has to be done by midnight tomorrow. Unless you want Domitori coming straight to her house, you better get away from here.”

 

Obi rubbed his face. “I don’t want to leave her.”

 

“I know.”

 

“Guri, what is going on? Why is Hitomi so important? All of this isn’t just because of one name left on a list.”

 

“No. You’re right. But I can’t get into everything now. I just wanted to let you know that Domitori will be here by tonight.”

 

“How are you finding out all this information?” Obi questioned. “And what the hell was Rediisu doing coming to see Hitomi?”

 

“I’ll eventually have the time to tell you everything. But first, you need to get rid of Domitori. Think you can handle that?” Guri stood up.

 

“If his plans are to hurt Hitomi then that won’t be an issue.”

 

“Good to hear. I gotta go. Places to see, people to mark.” Guri stepped off the porch out into the light mist of rain.

 

“Speaking of marking, how did you get the mark off of her?”

 

“Rediisu did. See ya.” Guri gave a wink and took off.

 

“Damn it Guri,” he mumbled and went back into the house. This new information definitely worried him. He hadn’t thought about what he was going to do concerning her and the deadline fast approaching. Kidnapping her and trying to hide was an option, but if Domitori could be eliminated then that would be one less he would have to fret over. After Domitori was no longer a threat then they could run and would have more time to figure out what to do.

 

He would have to make Domitori think that he was going to complete his sentence. Obi was going to have to leave Hitomi. Even though it would only be for a day, the thought made his chest clench. It was the only option though. At least he would have knowledge of where Domitori was until the last possible moment. Obi would take Domitori out at the dance. Hitomi would be safe surrounded by people and Domitori would not be able to cause a scene. From there he would take Hitomi and hide her somewhere.

 

Obsidian thought of the breathtaking girl asleep upstairs and he didn’t want to waste another second being away from her. He hurried upstairs and stopped in the doorway to her room. After watching her for a few moments, he walked over to the bed and moved in between her and the wall. Settling into his previous sleeping position, he pushed his arm back under her pillow when she started to stir.

 

Many nights he had watched her sleep and had fled the moment she began moving. Now he was going to be the first thing she saw and suddenly he became nervous.

 

Hitomi’s eyes fluttered open and she looked at him. A grin crept across her lips. “Good morning.” He didn’t say anything as she rubbed her eyes and let out a yawn. “What time is it?”

 

“I’m not sure.”

 

“Oh, school,” she quickly sat up and glanced back at her clock. “I have 20 minutes.” She relaxed back on the bed and turned to him.

 

“Do you have to go?”

 

“Well, I didn’t go yesterday. I’ve never missed two days in a row. And I am feeling better.”

 

Obi lowered his eyes and nodded.

 

“I guess I don’thaveto go.”

 

“No, you should go.” Obi sat up and attempted to straighten out his hair with his fingers. As much as he wanted her to stay with him, she would be safer at school surrounded by people.

 

“What are you going to do?” she asked. “You’re not leaving are you?”

 

“Not if you don’t want me to.” He lowered his gaze back down to her.

 

She bit at her bottom lip as she watched him. “I don’t want you to,” she said quietly.

 

“Then I won’t. I’ll even come meet you after school.”

 

“Okay,” Hitomi nodded. “I should probably get up.”

 

Obi watched as she slid out of the bed and went across the hallway into the bathroom shutting the door. He fell back against the pillows and closed his eyes.

 

****

 

 

 

Hitomi couldn’t believe she had gone to school instead of spending the entire day with Obi. She had instantly regretted her decision when she got in Bradley’s car and looked up at her bedroom window. Obi was standing there watching her. As soon as she was in the car, he let the curtains fall back down and she immediately missed him.

 

School was agonizing. But she could not contain the happiness she felt when she thought about him waiting for her outside when the last bell rang. Kerry questioned her many times for the cause of the constant smile on Hitomi’s face. But Hitomi just shrugged it off as conversations continued centered around the dance. She couldn’t even think about the dance. She had a steady replay of waking up next to Obi this morning in her head.

 

Classes were a blur and when it was finally a few minutes until the last bell, she could hardly contain her excitement. She packed her stuff up and watched the clock. It felt like an eternity until the bell rang. She was up out of her seat in a flash and heading for the door. Rushing down the long hallway to the doors, she felt like she wasn’t moving fast enough. She practically burst through the doors. It took her a split second to find him sitting on the bench. His legs stretched out in front of him, he looked like an ad for coolness. She walked over to him as he saw her and stood up. He smoothed out his black v-neck sweater and pulled at the belt of his faded jeans.

 

“Hey.” She smiled as she stepped up in front of him.

 

“How was school?”

 

“Honestly, I don’t remember. What did you do today?”

 

“Nothing really. Hope you don’t mind I used your computer.” He shrugged looking around at everyone and everything except for her. 

 

“I don’t care. Is everything okay? How’s your back?”

 

“My back is fine. We should get going.” He started walking, not even waiting for her.

 

She immediately noticed he had avoided the first question and she hurried to catch up with him. Hitomi tried to keep up with his fast pace as they walked home. She observed his rigid posture and he wasn’t talking. He took two steps at a time up the porch and then walked off to the side.

 

“Obi, what’s going on?” she asked as she followed him.

 

He rubbed his forehead and turned his back to her. “Nothing.”

 

She tossed her bag down on the chair and moved closer to him. “Something is wrong. Don’t tell me there isn’t.”

 

“Hitomi, most times things are not as they seem. Something that might be good for you just isn’t. Someone who might seem good is truly evil. And as much as you want to believe that someone is good, you just can’t change the fact that they aren’t.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Her face flooded with confusion and she reached up resting her hand on his back. She felt his body tense and he took a step away from her, her hand falling back down to her side. “I’m sorry. Your back must still hurt.”

 

“I already said its fine.” He turned around and faced her. “You should go inside.”

 

“What about you?”


Page 19

 

Obi looked out to the street and didn’t answer her.

 

“Obi, what about you?”

 

“I’m leaving,” he replied flatly.

 

Hitomi felt a little knot form in her stomach. “Where are you going?”

 

“Not sure yet,” he shrugged.

 

She stared at his profile. He was acting so cold and distant. She wasn’t sure what had changed in the past few hours. It was only this morning that he had assured her that he wasn’t leaving.

 

“What happened?” she asked quietly.

 

He shook his head.

 

“Why won’t you tell me anything? You won’t tell me anything about yourself. You won’t tell me where you’re going. You won’t tell me whoyou are,” she added frustrated.

 

“Because you wouldn’t understand.”

 

“I wouldn’t understand? How do you know? You haven’t even tried!”

 

“There was no point to try. I wasn’t supposed to be around this long anyway. I am not who you think I am.” His eyes narrowed as he looked at her. “And you’re exactly who I thought you were. A silly little girl.”

 

Hitomi blinked her eyes holding back her tears. Her lips trembled and she felt a lump in her throat.

 

“As much as you want to think it Hitomi, I feel nothing towards you. I helped you in a situation, you helped me. That does not bind us in any way. That makes us even. Nothing else.”

 

His words were like a knife to her chest, but when she looked into his eyes she thought they weren’t true. “You’re a liar. And I don’t know why you are being such a jerk. But right now, I really don’t want to know. I don’t want to understand. You are intentionally trying to hurt me. And you won. It worked.” Tears started trailing down her cheeks. “Your eyes completely give you away. But it doesn’t matter.”

 

“I feel nothing for you,” Obi said sternly.

 

“I guess I had you completely wrong.”

 

“Yes, you did.”

 

Hitomi took a staggered breath and turned away from him grabbing her bag. “Just go. Get off my porch.” She didn’t look back at him as she hurried into the house slamming the door.

 

****

 

 

 

Obi lowered his head as she disappeared into the house. He felt like he had been punched in the chest. He only hoped that she would eventually forgive him. He left the house and walked across the street. Stepping up beside a tree trunk, he leaned against it and looked across at her house.

 

“Did you break her little heart?” Domitori asked moving from behind the tree.

 

“I hope.” Obsidian turned and gave him a sinister smirk.

 

“So, you’re taking care of it tomorrow night?”

 

“It’ll be when she least expects it.” Obi nodded.

 

“Good. Let’s go have some fun until then.” Domitori nudged him and turned walking through the park. Obi followed him.

 

I’m sorry Hitomi. Please forgive me.

 Chapter 8 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitomi watched Kerry’s car pull into the driveway. She let out a sigh and wiped fresh tears from her face. She glanced down at the bench one last time and then shut the window. The last conversation with Obi was still fresh in her mind. She had played it over and over again in her head. Every time she got to the end it opened a fresh wound in her chest.

 

There was still a part of her that was clinging to the hope that she would see him again, but every hour that passed stripped a little piece of that hope away. She wasn’t even sure why she wanted to see him again, but she felt empty without him.

 

She tightened her robe around her and lay down on the bed. Pushing her face into the pillows she could still smell him. She thought about waking up next to him yesterday morning and how everything seemed brighter all day. She wanted to hate him for letting her know that such feelings existed. But she couldn’t.

 

“Hitomi?” Her mother knocked on the door. “Are you getting ready?”

 

“Yah.”

 

“Kerry is here.”

 

“I know.”

 

The door opened as Hitomi sat up. Kerry walked in armed with her make-up case and her dress.

 

“Why are you not ready?” Kerry asked as Regina walked in behind her.

 

“I was starting to.” She stood up and forced a smile. “I’m just not good at this dressing up stuff.”

 

“No worries.” Kerry beamed, “That’s why I’m here. Alright lazy, let’s get you ready. I still have to do my make-up and yours. The boys are going to be here in an hour.” She steered Hitomi over to the vanity and made her sit down. “Now, what are we going to do with your hair?”

 

Hitomi stared into the mirror realizing she had been a fool. Someone like Obi would never have been interested in her. There was nothing special about her.

 

****

 

Obi hated himself. He was truly a despicable being.

 

He had been able to get away from Domitori for a little bit and he returned to check on Hitomi. He watched her, hidden across the street, as she peered out her window. Even across the street he could smell her tears. He hated himself, knowing he had caused those tears. It took all his strength not to go to her and beg for forgiveness.

 

He knew he had no right to want her. He was not deserving of the kindness she had shown him or the happiness she had made him feel. Forcing him to endure the pain of watching her, he deserved only the anguish and self-loathing that he felt.

 

“This is so boring,” Domitori said interrupting Obi’s thoughts.

 

“You can leave any time you want,” Obi mumbled.

 

“Do you think I want to be on the council’s bad side?” he walked over to the edge of the school’s roof and peered down. “People are starting to arrive.”

 

Obi moved over next to him and watched the few kids entering the building.

 

“Do you not see what this human has done to you? You’ve become pathetic.” Domitori sighed. “She caused you to feel. Why would you want that? I’m just glad that you realized what needs to be done. Especially so you can rid yourself of those disgusting mortal behaviors.”

 

Letting out a sigh, Obi mumbled, “I agree.”

 

“Then let’s just go find her now and be done with this.”

 

“No,” he replied quickly. “I’m doing this my way.”

 

“Okay. But I’m not really sure why you wanted to wait until this event. There are so many people.”

 

“Because she won’t suspect anything and she won’t be scared.”

 

“Still considering her feelings?” Dom huffed. “Or are you considering your own?”

 

“What do you mean by that?” Obi turned to him.

 

“This attachment you formed to her is rare. If you were alone with her for too long, you might not be able to do your task.”

 

“I’ve already assured you, I will do what I need to.”

 

“I truly hope you do…for your own sake.”

 

Obi’s brow furrowed and he turned back to watching the happy couples holding hands and smiling. Suddenly Hitomi’s scent filled his head. His eyes widened and his lips slightly parted. His eyes darted in every direction below searching for the red dress. He knew she was among the groups of people arriving. Every inch of his body knew it.

 

His eyes finally settled on her. Hitomi’s slender frame was hugged perfectly by the red satin fabric. Her honey hair rested down her back with half secured in a silver clip. She looked stunning. And happy. He felt the knot in his chest tighten as his gaze traveled to the guy next to her. He couldn’t tolerate seeing someone else next to her and holding her hand.She was holding his hand.Obi couldn’t help but think that he should be the one next to her.

 

Unable to stand the vision, Obi walked away from the edge.

 

“Where are you going?” Dom raised an eyebrow.

 

“She can see me. I shouldn’t be watching.” He moved over to the roof entrance door and sat down.

 

“Oh. So she’s here.” Dom’s eyes lit up with interest as he turned back and peered down.

 

Obi closed his eyes and rested his head in his hands.

 

“How much longer are we waiting?”

 

“Just a little bit. And will you stop talking? It’s annoying.”

 

Obi heard Domitori let out a huff, but he kept quiet.

 

****

 

 

 

Bradley kept a tight hold on Hitomi’s hand as they walked into the transformed gymnasium. Any other day she would have protested the hand-holding, but not this evening. She looked around at all the decorations.

 

“They did a nice job,” she commented.

 

Everything was decorated in fall colors. The room was illuminated with white Christmas lights and the orange tablecloths cast an orange glow over the entire room. Each table was decorated with tea lights floating in water filled vases. The room was littered with cutout leaves in various colors. The room was busy with people but not overly cramped. On a stage, a DJ played the newest songs and a few people were already dancing.

 

Hitomi suddenly felt overwhelmed and she wished Obi was next to her.

 

“Everything alright?” Bradley asked.

 

“Um hm,” she gave a nod.

 

“Wow, they decorated it really nice this year,” Kerry commented as she and Shane walked up behind them.

 

“Let’s go get a table. Preferably by the dance floor,” Shane said and gave Hitomi a nudge. The four of them weaved their way through the people finding a table that suited Shane. The boys left to go get some drinks and talk with the rest of the soccer team.

 

“So?” Kerry smirked.

 

“So…what?”

 

“Seems like you two are getting along well.”

 

“Huh?” Hitomi’s thoughts turned to Obi.

 

“You and Bradley.”


Page 20

 

“Oh. Yah.”

 

“So, do you like him?” Kerry smirked.

 

“He’s nice. A little into himself though.”

 

“All guys are like that.” Kerry shrugged. “I’m just glad you decided to give Bradley a chance. I mean, it is our senior year. You should have had at least one boyfriend when you go to college.”

 

“But I don’t want a boyfriend, just to have one.”

 

“You’re such a romantic.”

 

Hitomi gave a shrug and glanced around at the people wanting to get off the topic of boys.

 

“You haven’t said anything about the person following you lately,” Kerry commented sensing Hitomi’s irritation with the boyfriend conversation.

 

“I haven’t sensed it for awhile.” The last time she had the feeling was right before she met Rediisu.

 

“That’s good.”

 

“Punch for the ladies.” Shane set a glass down for Kerry and sat down next to her. Bradley gave Hitomi a glass and took a seat. They sat for awhile and talked and then Shane and Kerry headed to the dance floor.

 

“Do you want to dance?” Bradley asked.

 

“Um, maybe a slow one. I’m not a very good dancer.”

 

“Same here. But I would have embarrassed myself if it would have made you laugh.”

 

Hitomi smiled.

 

“You seem like you have something else on your mind tonight. You were quiet through dinner and you haven’t said much since we got here.”

 

“I’m sorry. I do have something else on my mind, but I’ll be fine.”

 

Bradley stood up and held out his arm. “Let’s go embarrass ourselves.”

 

She took his arm and they went out onto the dance floor.

 

****

 

 

 

Thunder began rumbling and Obsidian and Domitori both looked up to the sky as it lit up with lightning.

 

“Is it time to head in yet? It’s been a couple hours,” Domitori whined.

 

Obi stood up and dusted himself off.

 

“About time,” Dom mumbled following Obi through the door to the stairwell. Once they hit the stairs, Obi turned around and grabbed Domitori by the neck slamming him against the wall.

 

“Let’s get this straight. You are not to touch her,” Obi growled.

 

A sly smile crept across Domitori’s face. “As long as you take care of it, I won’t have to.”

 

Obi held himself back from squeezing his neck. He dropped his head and released the grip around Dom’s throat. “Stay here.”

 

“But…”

 

Obi took a few steps and turned back around to him. “I said stay here.” He hurried down the steps and ended up in a long hallway. He knew that it would only be a short time before Domitori would wander down to see what was taking so long. He had to make sure Hitomi would be alright. Walking down the hallway he became nervous about seeing her.

 

****

 

 

 

Hitomi and Bradley walked off the dance floor to the table. She sat down and looked around for Kerry and Shane.

 

“Do you know where Kerry and Shane are?” she asked.

 

“I’m not sure. There are a couple people I want to go talk to.”

 

“Okay. I’m just going to stay here.”

 

“I’ll bring you back a fresh drink.” He put his hand on her shoulder and slowly trailed it down her skin. She gave him a nod just wanting him to leave. He walked away and she picked up her empty glass. She rolled it in between her hands and then glanced up searching for Kerry.

 

Hitomi let out a gasp as her eyes stopped at the gymnasium entrance. Dressed in a black suit and red button down shirt and looking absolutely perfect, Obi stood there staring at her. She quickly turned away from him as her heart pounded. She couldn’t believe he was there. It had to have been her imagination or wishful thinking. So she turned back around to the entrance and peered at him again. But he wasn’t standing there, he was coming towards her.

 

Her mind raced. She didn’t know what to do. She was still upset with him, but just seeing Obi made her think about how much she had missed him. But she couldn’t talk to him now without running the risk of falling down into tears again.

 

Quickly she got up and started hurrying through the people.

 

“Hitomi!”

 

She didn’t dare turn around.

 

“Hitomi, please stop!”

 

She pushed her way through the dancing couples.

 

“I didn’t mean any of it!”

 

Hitomi stopped, but she couldn’t bring herself to turn around. She had no idea what to say to him, but she hoped that she had heard him correctly.

 

“Hitomi,” he walked up behind her and grabbed her elbow. He spun her around to face him and grabbed both of her arms. “I need to talk to you.”

 

She lifted her head and their eyes met. Her lips trembled. “I think you said enough yesterday.” She pulled her arms out of his grip. “You should go before my date comes to find me.”

 

“Not until I talk to you. Just a few minutes and then if you want me to leave, I will.” He had a look of desperation on his face.

 

“Fine.” She walked off the dance floor over to a side wall and turned back around to him as she leaned back against the wall. She crossed her arms in front of her. “Are you just trying to ruin my night?”

 

“No,” Obi shook his head.

 

“Then what are you doing here?”

 

“I needed to tell you that I’m sorry about what I said. I didn’t mean any of it.”

 

“Why did you say those things?”

 

“I wasn’t trying to hurt you.” Obi moved closer to her and she lowered her head.

 

“But you did,” she mumbled.

 

“I know. I’m sorry. I don’t know how I am going to live with the fact that I’ve hurt you when all I’ve wanted to do is protect you.”

 

She had no response. He was basically standing there telling her that he cared about her and her mind had gone blank.

 

Obi reached out his hand to her. “Will you dance with me?” She stared at his hand. “Please?”

 

She wanted to tell him ‘no’ and yell at him. But she couldn’t. The way that he stood so vulnerable in front of her with is hand reached out to her, made her want to jump into his arms and stay there forever.

 

Hitomi hesitantly put her hand in his. He grasped her hand and led her out onto the dance floor. Turning and facing her, he rested his other hand on her waist. She kept her head down as she moved her free hand up to his shoulder and they slowly started swaying to the slow song.

 

“I really am sorry. For everything,” Obi stated.

 

Hitomi gave a little shrug and stared at his chest. He let go of her hand and placed a finger underneath her chin tilting her head up to look at him.

 

“I’m sorry,” he said again staring into her eyes.

 

She felt her chest thumping harder ready to burst out and it was hard for her to catch her breath. She accepted that he was apologetic, but she still needed the reasoning behind his actions. Hitomi needed to know why he had said those things to her and tried to make her hate him.

 

“Why?” she asked quietly.

 

“Why am I sorry?”

 

“No. Why were you trying to make me hate you?”

 

Obi took a deep breath and glanced around, and then focused back on her. “To try to protect you.”

 

“Protect me? From what?”

 

His jaw clenched. “Partially from me,” he said. “I’m not who you think I am. I’m a bad…person.”

 

“I don’t believe that,” Hitomi replied quickly.

 

“And that’s why I said those things. If I hadn’t, you wouldn’t have been angry at me. I needed you to let me leave.”

 

“But why did you have to leave?”

 

“Hitomi,” his voice waivered as he leaned closer to her, “there are a lot of things I haven’t told you.”

 

“You haven’t told meanything,” she shot back.

 

“I know. I’ve been afraid to tell you, because it’s not good. But now is not the time. I promise I will tell you everything that I can. I wish I could keep it from you, but I want you to knowme.”

 

She watched him as he glanced around again. There was no way this boy could be as bad as he was setting up. He had saved her. For the most part, he had been nothing but concerned for her. Someone evil could never do those things.

 

“Whatever it is, I’ll understand.”

 

“Don’t say that,” he shook his head. “We don’t have much time.”

 

“What do you mean?” her eyes widened as her chest tightened again. “You’re not leaving again, are you?”

 

“Sort of.”

 

“Either you are or you’re not. Is this some sort of ‘goodbye’? Because I’m…”

 

“Hitomi.” Obi suddenly took her face in his hands surprising her. “There is some purpose to why I met you. I’m not here to say goodbye. I’m here because you’ve become important to me.”

 

His hands were hot on her face and she felt prickles of electricity shooting through her body. “Important to you?”

 

He drew his face closer and whispered, “Why are you important to me?”

 

Hitomi stared at his lips as they were slowly shortening the distance to hers. She suddenly forgot how to breathe. She watched his eyes lazily close as his mouth was nearly an inch away. She felt his breath hot against her lips as the excitement built in her stomach. Her mouth tingled with anticipation.

 

“What the hell is going on here?” Bradley shouted and Obi was quickly yanked away from her. Bradley stood behind Obi with a firm grip on his shoulder. Obi brushed Bradley’s hand away and turned and faced him. “Who is this guy?” Bradley inquired to Hitomi.

 

Hitomi opened her mouth, but before she could say anything Obi was already speaking.

 

“Who are you?” Obi replied.

 

“That’s my date you’re dancing with buddy.” Hitomi’s watched as Bradley’s face contorted angrily.


Page 21

 

“Bradley…” Hitomi started as she took a step forward. Obi caught her with his arm and moved her back behind him.

 

“I’ve wanted to handle this,” Obi mumbled and turned back to Bradley. “You might just want to walk away…Bradley.”

 

Bradley gave a slight huff of laughter. “I was just thinking the same thing about you.” Hitomi watched as Bradley’s hand closed into a fist and he took a swing at Obi’s face. But Obi was too quick and easily avoided it. Bradley’s expression changed to surprise. Then with the blink of an eye, Bradley landed back on the dance floor. Hitomi had barely seen Obi even move. Her lips parted in awe. Everyone on the dance floor was now staring at them.

 

“Hitomi?” Obi turned back around to her and put his hands on either side of her neck. “We have to go.”

 

Hitomi shook her head out of her state of shock and looked at him. “Go? Go where?”

 

“Do you trust me?” he leaned down as his thumbs stroked her cheeks. She gave a slight nod. “Then come with me now.”

 

“But…”

 

“Please,” he interrupted pleadingly. Hitomi stared up at him and gave another nod. He let out a deep breath and grabbed her arm. “C’mon.” He tugged on her as they started moving through the people.

 

“Get back here!” Bradley yelled after them. But all Hitomi could focus on was Obi. He was really here. He wanted her with him.

 

As they cleared the people, their pace turned to a run for the doors. Obi slammed into one of the doors and pulled her out into the hallway. He moved his hand down to hers and started pulling her along with him.

 

“What is going on Obi? Why are we running?” Hitomi asked as he tightened the grip on her hand.

 

“Just stay with me. I will explain everything”, he glanced back at her. “Can you run faster?”

 

She gave a nod and stopped. She slipped off her shoes and they started down the hall at a faster pace. Her heart raced at the sudden panic in Obi’s eyes as she tried to keep up with him. He looked stricken with worry and fear.

 

“Please, keep running…” Obi said almost pleadingly.

 

“I’m trying”, she panted. They were almost to the hall entrance that led out to the courtyard. “Where are we…?” Hitomi started to ask when suddenly there was a voice behind them.

 

“Obsidian!”

 

Obi suddenly stopped, practically jerking her arm off. She looked up at him as he closed his eyes and lowered his head. His jaw clenched as he steadied his breathing. Slowly he started to turn around, bringing his head up and opening his eyes. Hitomi gasped at the glowing reddish orange orbs. He pulled her behind him and took a defensive position. Hitomi looked down the hallway from behind him and saw nothing.

 

“Domitori”, he sighed in irritation. “You really should have stayed out of all this.”

 

“Council’s orders- can’t go against them”, the voice snickered. “Youreallyshould have done your job.”

 

“I’m doing what needs to be done,” Obi replied.

 

“For who? For you? For that girl? I knew you wouldn’t be able to go through with it”, the voice chuckled. “You’re pitiable. All you had to do was take her soul…”

 

“Shut up!” Obi yelled.

 

Hitomi’s eyes widened and she stared up at Obi. “Take…my…soul?” she stuttered.

 

Obi turned to her, eyes turning from anger to fear. “I can explain…”

 

“Explain? You were here to kill me?” her chest clenched and she wasn’t sure she would be able to take another breath. She pulled her hand from his grip and took a step away. Her legs started to shake.

 

The voice let out a burst of laughter. “She has no idea what you are?”

 

“Shut up Domitori,” Obi growled and turned back to her. “Hitomi, I could never have done that to you”, Obi practically whispered.

 

“What are you?” her brow furrowed in confusion and she took another step back.

 

“I’m…” he started, but quickly turned around. Suddenly Obi was slamming into the lockers lining the hallway and sinking to the ground.

 

“Obi!” Hitomi screamed when abruptly she felt cold hands around her neck pressing her against the lockers on the opposite side.

 

“What is so special about you?” the voice said so close to her she could feel the breath. “You look pretty ordinary.”

 

“Leave me alone,” she managed to say.

 

“Wish I could, but you seem to be a pretty big deal in the afterworld.”

 

“Afterworld?” she coughed out.

 

Hitomi noticed flecks of red materializing. His eyes were beginning to appear as was the rest of his body. Within a minute she could see his true form. His eyes were just like how Obi’s were previously and the corner of his mouth was turned upward in a sly smirk. He removed one hand from her neck and stroked the side of her face. She turned away and closed her eyes.

 

“Darling Hitomi. Sweet and innocent. Is that why Obi likes you so? You’re so different from the trash we see every day; the humans that waste their lives selling their bodies, infesting themselves with drugs, spreading diseases.” He tilted his head a little as she looked back at him. “But not you.”

 

“Get your hands off of her”, Obi grumbled as he lifted himself from the floor.

 

“I will enjoy taking such a pure heart”, he slowly started moving his hand down from her neck towards her chest. Hitomi held her breath.

 

“NO!” Obi tackled him from the side taking him down to the ground. Hitomi slid down to the ground and stared at them. “Hitomi, get out of here! Now! Run and don’t stop!” Obi shouted.

 

“But…you…” was all she managed to get through her lips.

 

“I’ll find you. Now- GO!” he screamed.

 

She pulled herself up to her feet as the body struggled underneath Obi. She put her hand over her mouth and turned for the door running as fast as she could.

 

****

 

“You fool,” Domitori spat. “Risking everything for that girl. She will eventually die, and so will you.”

 

“Get up,” Obi got up keeping a hold of Domitori’s shirt collar. Domitori slowly got up from the ground and Obi slammed him back into the lockers. “I told you not to touch her”, he sneered. Domitori smiled widely as his eyes brightened, then swiftly pushed Obi back. Domitori stepped away from the lockers and happily glared at Obi.

 

“I’m going to enjoy this,” Domitori commented.

 

“Not any more than I am,” Obi raised an eyebrow. Domitori gave Obi a wink and swiftly disappeared in front of him. Before Obi could use his senses, Dom reappeared behind him holding a short blade to his neck. Obi’s body stiffened.

 

“You don’t carry a weapon, do you Obsidian?”

 

“I’ve never seen the purpose. My hands are good enough to rip your head off.”

 

Domitori tightened his grip. “Honestly, I’ve never liked you. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when the Savetto sent me after you. You’re no longer their golden boy. You made the rest of us look bad. They always went to you when they needed something important done.”

 

“That’s pathetic,” Obi rolled his eyes. “Maybe you should have done your job instead of playing around with the humans so much.”

 

“That’s a bold statement from someone with a dagger at his neck. And for someone who has become so utterly obsessed with a human on a list.”

 

Obi’s nostrils flared and with the quickness of lightning, Obi grabbed Dom’s arm from his neck and brought Domitori over his back. Slamming Domitori first on the ground, then he picked him up by his collar and threw him towards the doors. He crashed through the glass, but easily landed on his feet.

 

“What can you do to me with a blade?” Obi tilted his head from side to side letting out a loud crack.

 

Domitori lifted his head and glared at Obi. He brushed the shards from his shoulders and spun the knife around in his fingers. “Come out here and find out. Or maybe I should just go track down your girlfriend.”

 

Obi’s jaw clenched as he charged Dom, but he quickly vanished before Obi could reach him. Obi stopped at the doorway and carefully stepped outside feeling the air around him.

 

“Too slow Obsidian,” Domitori called down to him from the air above him.

 

Obsidian gave a huff and pulled off his suit jacket. He dropped it to the ground and then started unbuttoning his shirt. He peeled it from his sweat soaked skin as a large set of jet black wings appeared from his shoulder blades. Each wing stretched out the length of almost seven feet. He rustled his wings as he dropped the shirt and quickly he took off into the air after Domitori.

 

Domitori flew up above the school as Obi caught up with him. He grabbed at his leg with the intent of yanking him downward, but the leg disappeared from Obi’s reach. Obi tucked his wings in spinning around to find Domitori behind him. Domitori slashed at him with the blade, but with Obi’s wings around him they acted as a shield.

 

Obi swiftly spun around and twisted landing a kick to Domitori’s chest sending him hurling backwards. Domitori tucked his wings in as he flipped through the air and then with a slight jerk his wings opened righting himself. Domitori smiled and then teleported again ending up right in front of Obi. He stabbed at Obi, but Obi easily blocked it and landed a punch to his face. Domitori shook his head, but the blow hardly fazed him.

 

Trying for another kick, Obi spun around only to miss Domitori as he vanished. Domitori again reappeared behind Obi. Obi avoided another stab and flapped his wings flying higher into the sky. Obi closed his eyes as he sensed the air around him. The vibrations in the air were smooth and they wrapped around him.

 

Suddenly the vibrations were disturbed. Obi reached out in front of him grabbing Domitori as he teleported. Domitori opened his mouth in surprise as Obi clung to him. With his other arm, Obi slammed Dom’s face with his elbow. Stilling clinging to him, before Domitori became completely aware again, Obi used his strength and pushed him downward. They fell quickly to the school roof, the weight and force of them causing the cement to crack. Obi landed on top of him and rolled over onto his back as his wings tucked back into his shoulder blades.

 

Domitori let out a cough as Obi pulled himself up to his feet. He glared down at him as Dom started laughing. Domitori shifted his hand revealing the blade in his grasp, now dripping with blood. Obi’s eyes widened as he looked down at his abdomen. He put his hands over the wound as he dropped to his knees. Domitori easily rolled over onto his knees and stood up. He walked over to Obi and carefully wiped the blood off onto his pants. Obi started to feel a burning sensation running through his veins.

 

“That’s how my blade can hurt you,” Domitori snickered and put his boot on Obi’s shoulder pushing Obi down onto his side.

 

Obi squeezed his fists in pain and let out a yell. “How…did…” Obi grunted in agony clutching his stomach. He let out another scream as Domitori knelt down beside him. Obi felt as though electricity was running through his body and striking every nerve one at a time.


Page 22

 

“A blade soaked in the blood of the living,” Domitori sighed. “Does it hurt? I’ve heard when our kind are actually killed it is excruciating. As their blood combines with ours…well, I’ve just heard it’s like you are on fire from the inside out. Is that what it feels like?”

 

Obi squeezed his eyes shut and tried not to think about the pain, but it was entering every single cell in his body. The burning was unbearable and he let out another screech of suffering.

 

“Just enough blood has entered your system to kill you, but it will take a little longer. It only takes one single drop. Watching you slowly die will be breathtaking.” Domitori sighed. “I have to say, your skills were quite disappointing. I thought we might fight a bit longer. Although you did give me a bit of a surprise.” He snickered. “I wonder how you’re little human girlfriend will handle the news. But don’t worry, I’ll be there for her.”

 

Obi let out another yell. The pain was getting more intense, but he was more concerned about Hitomi in the clutches of Domitori. “Don’t you touch her!” he managed to roar.

 

Domitori’s breath was at his ear. “Don’t worry. She’ll have fun before she dies. I give you my personal guarantee of that,” he whispered.

 

“I’m going to kill you!” Obi screeched.

 

“I don’t think you are in any shape to be making threats.”

 

Obi buried his head in his arm as his other hand clasped at his abdomen. He curled his body tighter into a fetal position. Every movement stung. The burning was getting hotter. It felt like acid was tearing into his skin.

 

“Oh, decisions decisions. Should I stay to watch your end? Or do I want you to die knowing that I am with your lovely Hitomi? What is a…” Domitori suddenly bellowed in agony. He heard Dom fall to the ground beside him. He forced his eyes open. Domitori lay on the roof beside him holding his head and screaming in pain.

 

Obi was barely able to lift his eyes to the shadowed figure that walked up in between them. Through the blazing of his body, he could not sense who it was and he dropped his head back down to the cement. He groaned and squeezed his eyes shut. “Hitomi,” he whispered.

 Chapter 9 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitomi ran the entire way home. Her legs aching once she arrived at her front door. Her feet were sore and bleeding. But none of that seemed to matter. She found the key tucked under a flower pot and opened the door, rushing into the house. Once inside she slammed the door and flipped all the locks. Trying to catch her breath, she leaned back against the door in the dimness.

 

She was thankful that her mother wasn’t home. She didn’t know if she should call the police, call her mom or just hide. Her chest still pounding, she ran upstairs to her room tripping the entire way. Shutting the door, she turned the lock and backed away towards her bed. She took refuge on her bed and grabbed her pillow hugging it to her chest. She sat in the quiet darkness and tried to understand everything that had happened.

 

Shaking her head, she tried to eliminate the revelation that Obi had been sent to kill her. But he had protected her. He had lain in the bed next to her. He had touched her gently. He had almost kissed her. She couldn’t believe that he was evil, but she had been wrong. She wondered if he had killed other people. Then she gasped as she thought of the two men from the alley. Had he killed them? Hitomi had let herself care for him. She ached when he was not near. She ached for him now.

 

But what was he? It was clear that he was not human. And the other guy was obviously not human. The damn guy was invisible. Her breathing staggered and she returned her thoughts back to Obi, or Obsidian as the other guy had called him.

 

She had been so stupid. She let him into her house. She took care of him. Her attachment to him was growing and growing every day. Hitomi dropped her head into her trembling hands. She had let herself start to love him. He had captured her heart.

 

Suddenly there was a banging at her window causing her to jump. Her body shook harder and she tried to stay as still as her heaving chest would allow.

 

“Open your window!” a boy’s voice said and there was another bang against the glass.

 

Hitomi’s fingers ached from squeezing the pillow so hard.

 

“I know you’re in there.”

 

Then she heard Obi shriek. It sounded like he was in pain.

 

“Obi?” she whispered as she lifted her head.

 

“Hitomi, open your window now. Obi needs help.” The glass rattled again.

 

“Obi wants to kill me,” she countered unable to remain silent.

 

“No he doesn’t. That’s why he protected to you. Now open your god damn window or I am going to kick it in. We are running out of time.”

 

Hitomi reached over and practically knocked the lamp off her table as she turned it on. Her entire body was shaking. She slowly climbed off the bed and walked over to the window. She was convinced the entire thing was some sort of trap, but she had heard the pain in Obi’s voice. Her fingers crept up to the drapes and she pulled them back.

 

Her eyes widened at the shirtless boy hovering at her window. She instantly recognized him as the boy who had stopped her fall at Club Scarlet. He was the one who had left the weird handprints on her. She blinked her eyes and then became fully aware of the large set of grey wings flapping up and down gradually behind him. Her eyes widened almost mesmerized by the elegant up and down motion.

 

“Open the window,” he said sternly.

 

Hitomi finally noticed the limp body of Obi tucked in his arm. She took in a sharp breath and quickly fumbled with the window lock. She pushed the lower half up and the boy grabbed onto the windowsill. With his other arm he shoved Obi through the opening. Hitomi tried to grab him, but the boy pushed him in too fast and Obi was too heavy. Obi hit the floor with a thud and let out a piercing scream.

 

“What happened?” she dropped down to her knees beside him and looked up to the boy crawling through the window. His wings had disappeared and he turned shutting the window. He locked the window and drew the curtains. “Who are you?” she asked as she pulled Obi’s head onto her lap.

 

He moved over to her and practically pushed her aside as he picked Obi back up and carried him to the bed.

 

“What is going on? What’s wrong with Obi?”

 

Still she got no response. He placed Obi down on the bed and Obi cried out as his back arched. The boy pulled his beanie off of his head and pushed it down onto Obi’s bare stomach. He turned back to her still on the floor and reached over with his free hand grabbing her wrist.

 

“Come here,” he demanded.

 

“What? Why?”

 

“Now,” he yanked her up from the floor with considerable strength. She stumbled to her feet and he pulled her next to the bed.

 

Hitomi’s eyes settled on the gaping, bloody wound in Obi’s abdomen. She gasped as she put her hand over her mouth. “Is he going to die?”

 

“No.” The boy grabbed her other wrist from her face. He moved her hands toward the wound.

 

“What are you doing?” She tried to pull her hands away. The boy did not pay any attention to her as she protested. He smashed her hands down onto the wound squishing her fingers into the warm blood. Hitomi had to hold back her overwhelming feeling to throw up. Her stomach churned as the boy held her hands in place. Obi had completely stopped moving or making any noises.

 

“Concentrate,” the boy instructed.

 

“On what?” she turned away.

 

“On him. Look at him. Think about healing him. Think about keeping him alive.”

 

“I can’t,” she shook her head.

 

“Yes you can. You have to or hewilldie.”

 

Hitomi’s eyes widened and she forced herself to turn back. She looked down at Obi’s face. He couldn’t die. He couldn’t leave her. She needed him. She closed her eyes as she leaned over him. “Obi, you can’t leave me now. You have to be okay. I need you,” she whispered. She put her queasy stomach aside and began to visualize the wound healing as the boy instructed. Suddenly her hands began to tingle and her fingertips got warm.

 

“Whatever you are doing, keep doing it,” the boy said releasing her wrists and letting out a loud sigh.

 

Hitomi opened her eyes and looked down at her hands. Her fingertips were beginning to glow with a bright white light. She didn’t understand what was exactly going on, but she didn’t dare stop thinking about Obi. She stared at the wound as her body became calmer. Without knowing why, she started to run her fingers along the open skin while visualizing the deep puncture closing. Her fingers became warmer as the light spread entirely over each hand.

 

The boy stood behind her watching. Unexpectedly she felt something blocking the healing. Running her fingers around the edges, she felt what seemed like a small pebble under his skin. She couldn’t stop herself from pushing her fingers inside the wound. Hitomi closed her fingers around the hard object and pulled it out. She dropped what looked like a red crystal onto the beanie sitting on Obi’s chest.

 

Immediately Obi gasped taking in a huge breath of air. He started to struggle against her as he let out an agonizing screech. Hitomi returned her hand back to his abdomen.

 

“Hold him still. He needs to stop moving,” Hitomi instructed as she glanced at Obi’s face. He was overcome with pain and she wanted to make it go away.

 

She turned her head away as the boy grabbed Obi’s shoulders and attempted to hold him down. His legs started to kick as she tried to concentrate, but his movements kept slipping her hands off of him.

 

“I’m not letting you die,” she said as her jaw tightened. She moved over onto the bed and straddled him, sitting on him to keep him from moving. She pushed her hands down onto him harder as tears streamed down her cheeks. “Please stop moving Obi,” she pleaded as her hands were completely illuminated now. She pressed down on him as hard as she could.

 

Her hands began glowing so brightly she had to close her eyes. She felt an energy moving through her entire body, traveling up and down through each vein and then flowing through her fingers. She was determined to heal him. Hitomi felt another little hard crystal object and she pulled it out.

 

Instantaneously Obi’s thrashing stopped and his screams turned into uncomfortable whimpers. Hitomi kept her hands in place remaining focused.

 

“Hitomi…” Obi said between staggered breaths and slight groans. “Hitomi…”

 

“She’s right here Obi,” the boy said releasing his shoulders.

 

Hitomi opened her eyes and looked at Obi’s face. The pain was dissipating and he was trying to catch his breath. She let out a sigh of relief as all of a sudden she felt light headed. The light quickly faded from her hands as her chest rose and fell deeply. Her body began to go limp.

 

“Hitomi!” the boy rushed over and caught her before she fell to the ground. “Are you alright?”


Page 23

 

“I feel really tired,” she whispered. She felt so weak she was having a hard time keeping her eyes open.

 

“You used a great deal of energy. You need to lie down.” He picked her up off of Obi and then maneuvered her over him, laying her down on the other side of him.

 

“I’m okay,” she mumbled. “He needs to be able to rest.”

 

“He’ll recover faster the closer you are. And you need to recover your strength,” the boy replied. “Do you have any medical supplies?”

 

“Who or what are you?” Hitomi mumbled as she stared up at the grey-haired boy.

 

He gave her a wide grin. “Just get some rest. I’ll tell you what I can when you wake up. Now, where are those medical supplies?” he said in a soothing voice practically lulling her to sleep.

 

“Bathroom.” She rolled onto her side and glanced at Obi before her eyes shut. A shiver ripped through her body. Without even asking, the boy placed a blanket over top of her and she heard him leave the room. She listened to Obi still taking in staggered breaths, but at least he was not screaming or thrashing around. Hitomi let out a sigh and drifted off to sleep.

 

****

 

 

 

He could still smell Hitomi. He may have been dead, but somehow he had the memories of her. Obi couldn’t have asked for anything more in death. He thought of the first time he laid eyes on her, the way he filled with anticipation of seeing her when he sat on the bench, and the way that her smile made him want to smile.

 

But even with the thoughts of her flooding his mind, he thought of Domitori’s words. She would be unprotected. Had Domitori found her? Was he hurting her? Was she calling for him? He squeezed his eyes tightly and tensed his fists. He could feel the anger inside him. He could feel his hands.

 

Obi fluttered his eyes open and he glanced around the room. Was this his hell? Spending eternity in the only place he had felt happiness and knowing he would never feel it again. Domitori had pierced him with living blood. He had to be dead. Well, as dead as he was able to be. But everything felt real. The pillow under his head felt squishy and soft. He pulled the fabric of the sheet on top of him between his fingers. It felt the same as it had the previous day. And the scent of Hitomi was so strong. He could practically feel her next to him. He wanted to turn and look, but the fear of her not being there overwhelmed him. His body shivered. He had to see.

 

He turned his head to the side and she was there curled next to him. Obi’s jaw dropped and he couldn’t hold back a sharp intake of breath. She looked pale and he immediately frowned. He rolled over onto his side, his abdomen tearing in protest to the movements. But the pain was the least of his concern. He reached up and rested his hand against her cheek. Her skin felt frigid and the rosy color of her cheeks was gone. His body trembled as he feared the worst until she drew in a shallow breath.

 

Obi let out a staggered sigh and closed his eyes in relief.

 

“She used most of her energy,” a voice said. Obi tried to look up. “Don’t move around.” The voice moved closer. “She saved you. Hitomi saved your life,” Guri peered over him.

 

“Guri,” Obi said relieved. “I don’t think I’ve ever been so glad to see you.”

 

“You’ve definitely had better days, although not lately.”

 

“The plan didn’t work. I wasn’t able to defeat Domitori.”

 

“Yah, I know. You’re lucky I was there.”

 

“Is he dead?”

 

“No,” Guri shook his head. “Just immobilized for a little while. Which means as soon as you’re up to getting out of here, we need to go.”

 

“I’ll be ready in a little bit.” He turned his gaze back to Hitomi. “Is she going to be alright?” He ran his thumb along her chin.

 

“She’ll be fine. She just needs to recover her energy with some rest. She was quite determined to save you, once she realized she could.”

 

“Why?” Obi stared at her. “Why would she want to save me? I was sent here to kill her.”

 

“But you didn’t,” Guri shot back.

 

“But I could have.”

 

“No you couldn’t have. You protected her.”

 

“Guri, what is going on?” he turned back to him.

 

“I don’t know everything. But what I do know I will tell you once we get out of here. We need to hide because Domitori will eventually be searching for us.”

 

“And where are we going to go?” Obi shifted back to Hitomi.

 

“I got a motel room for a few nights. It’s not too far away. Domitori will be expecting us to be on the other side of the Earth. We’ll figure out something from there. You should be okay to move soon and I can take Hitomi.” Guri sighed.

 

“How did she do it?” Obi practically whispered as he scanned her face. “I should be dead.”

 

“I’m not sure. I’ll be back in a few minutes. You might want to start trying to get up. We really need to go.” He listened to Guri’s footsteps stop at the doorway. “Oh, and by the way, she’s going to have some questions. She saw my wings.”

 

“What?” Obi pulled his hand from her face and twisted, sitting up and glaring at him.

 

“It was unavoidable,” Guri shrugged and smiled, then shut the door.

 

Obi groaned and fell back onto the bed, immediately worried that he had disturbed Hitomi. He grimaced as he turned back to her. Her chest rose and fell very slowly. He moved some hair from his face and ran the back of his hand along her cheek. He continued along her jaw to her chin and brushed his fingertips the length of her mouth. He had been drawn to those lips. He wanted so badly to know how they felt and tasted.

 

He pulled his hand away from her. He knew he was being foolish. There was no way she would want anything to do with him once he revealed what he was or the terrible things he had done. Placing his hand over the bandages on his abdomen, he rolled away from her.

 

He let out a groan as he forced himself to sit back up. He swung his legs over the side of the bed letting his feet hit the floor as he withheld another grunt. He gritted his teeth as he pushed himself up from the bed.

 

“Obi…” Hitomi mumbled and he turned back around to her. She flopped her arm over to where he had been laying. He reached down to take a hold of her hand, but stopped himself. He squeezed his hand into a fist and turned away.

 

He was going to have to tell her what he was. He couldn’t keep it from her any longer. His face went through the emotions of anger, frustration, hurt and fear. She was going to hate him.

 

He shook his head and noticed his bag lying on the floor by the closet. He went over and dug out a change of clothes. Slipping into his jeans and then grabbing a t-shirt, he pulled it on. He moved over to the desk chair and laced up his boots. He tried to keep his eyes on the floor, but they eventually drifted up to Hitomi and wondered how she had the power to save him. He had never heard of a human with healing powers. Even if she wanted nothing to do with him, he knew he still needed to protect her.

 

“Obi?” Hitomi mumbled again, but this time her eyes opened. Her gaze settled on him sitting across from her and he looked away from her.

 

“We need to leave soon,” Obi stated as he got up and went over to the window. He peeled the curtain back somewhat and peered out.

 

“You’re okay,” she sighed.

 

Obi let out a faint hum of acknowledgement and closed the curtain.

 

“I couldn’t let you die because…” her voice trailed off. Obi glanced over at her wanting her to finish her sentence. Her eyes were closed again.

 

“Because, why?” he whispered.

 

There was a light knock on the door and Guri appeared in the doorway as Obi looked over.

 

“Everything okay?” Guri asked.

 

“Yes. We should go.”

 

Guri entered the room. “Good. We’re running out of time. Are you sure everything is alright? I can sense frustration in you.”

 

“Everything is fine. Can you pack some things for her?” Obi walked over and moved past him towards the doorway.

 

“Don’t you want to stay with her?”

 

“No.”

 

“What is your problem?” Guri grabbed his arm. “That girl just saved you. Do you think she’d do that if she didn’t care about you?”

 

“She’ll never care about me once she finds out the truth,” Obi growled and pulled his arm away and pushed Guri back.

 

“How do you know?” Guri called after him as he walked down the stairs and into the dark living room. He rubbed his face and sat down on the couch.

 

Within a few minutes, Guri came down the steps. “Are you alright to fly?”

 

“I’ll make it,” Obi replied and stood back up. He looked at Guri, who had Obi’s bag and a bag for Hitomi secured across his body. Wrapped in a blanket, he had Hitomi tucked in his arms.

 

“Well, I hope I erased all traces of us being here,” Guri commented. “Ready to go?”

 

Obi gave a nod and they cautiously walked outside. They both scanned the sky and then Obi pressed his hand to his throbbing stomach. He tried to ignore it as he spread his wings and followed Guri up into the sky.

 

He still felt weak and his senses were dulled, but he kept up with Guri constantly searching the night sky. He periodically snuck peeks at Hitomi bundled next to Guri. It wasn’t long before Guri motioned down and Obi trailed after him as the ground became closer. They touched down each with a thud in the motel parking lot. Obi turned and followed behind Guri to a ground level room. They stood outside the door.

 

“What are we waiting for?” Obi asked.

 

“Well, you can either take Hitomi or you can dig in my pocket and get the key,” Guri raised an eyebrow. Obi huffed and reached into Guri’s back pocket pulling out the key. They went into the room and Guri tucked Hitomi into the bed.

 

“One bed?”

 

“Hey, I was only able to get a bit of human money. I’m not a millionaire like Rediisu,” Guri replied. “If you have a problem with one bed, go get your own room.”

 

Obi moved over and sat down in one of the chairs, resting his hand over the bandages under his shirt.

 

“You should lie down.”

 

“I’ll lay down when you’re done telling me just what exactly you know,” Obi sighed and glanced over at Hitomi snuggled in the bed. Part of him could wait for any information if it meant he could be next to her, but he needed to know what situation he had become tangled in.

 

“She’s not going to hate you. She’ll understand,” Guri commented. “But you need to make her understand.”

 

“Guri, stay out of it. Just tell me what you know.”

 

Guri shrugged and sat down on the floor leaning against the foot of the bed. “It’s not much. I’m just the errand boy, so to speak. But what I do know is that everything has happened for a reason. Hitomi ended up on your list for a reason.”


Page 24

 

“What do you mean?” Obi asked turning back to him.

 

“From what I’ve gathered, you were created for her. You were meant to protect her. I don’t know anything about your creation though.”

 

Obi grumbled. “Who put Hitomi on my list?”

 

“Everything was arranged by someone within the Juydisu. One that does not agree with Laebosu and apparently has never agreed with him since he came to the afterworld. There is another in the Savetto too. And don’t ask me to tell you who they are. They will not reveal themselves until they are ready.”

 

Obi thought back to his appearances in front of the Savetto. There had been one among them that seemed to be on his side. He wondered if that was the one working against Laebosu. However, Guri still wasn’t answering any of his questions.

 

“But, why was I meant to protect Hitomi and who is she?”

 

“All I know is that your true self was hidden until the time she needed protecting. Well, I guess that time came and you were sent to her. I don’t know her importance. But it has something to do with the Heavens.”

 

“Isshesome sort of angel?” Obi glanced over at her. She definitely looked like she could be an angel. At least she looked like how he thought an angel should appear.

 

“The angels were said to be exterminated or taken to serve in the afterworld. I assume some hid and survived,” Guri sighed. “And healing is one of the traits of angels.”

 

“How did you know she could heal me?”

 

“I sensed her powers. I can get inside other’s minds, remember? That’s how I immobilized Domitori on the roof and that’s how I know that you’re upset…”

 

“I’m not upset,” Obi snapped whipping his head around. 

 

“She’s not going to reject you.” Guri tapped his forehead. “Senses feelings. Did you suffer a head blow? Because if I have to tell you that again I’m going to get worried.”

 

“Just shut up Guri. And get out of my head and her head.”

 

Guri smirked. “I just took a peek. Your mind is much more interesting lately.”

 

Obi let out a slight groan. “You said I was meant to protect her. What does that make me?”

 

“We’ll get into that later.” Guri got up and started digging in his pockets.

 

“Later? No, you’re going to tell me now.”

 

“Nope. You need to rest. I told you enough.” He pulled a bunch of change out of his pockets and started counting it out.

 

“I need to know more.”

 

“I’m going to get some onion rings.”

 

“What?” Obi replied irritated.

 

“Onion rings. They’re sliced onions with breading stuff on them. They’re tasty. I’ll be back in a little while.” Guri shook his head as he walked to the door.

 

“I know what onion rings are. You need to tell me…”

 

“Yah, yah,” Guri interrupted and dismissed him with a wave. “You need to heal up quickly. Go get some rest. I’ll be back.” He hurried out the door and it shut with a thud.

 

“Irritating,” Obi mumbled and got up from the chair. He flipped the lock on the door and went into the bathroom. The light flickered when he turned it on and he lifted his shirt up. Pulling back the bandages, he examined the gash in his abdomen and then covered it back up. He looked up into the mirror at himself as he lowered his shirt.

 

He stood there staring at his face. Who he was for the past 17 years was no longer who he saw in the reflection. His need to protect her had changed him. But he didn’t want to just protect her. He wanted to touch her and hold her. He wanted to be the cause of her smiles. He wanted to make her laugh.

 

Obi rubbed his forehead and walked out of the bathroom after flipping off the light. He watched the sleeping girl in bed and then moved to the empty side of the bed. He carefully laid down so not to wake her. The wound was throbbing, but he instantly seemed to feel better being next to her. He closed his eyes exhausted and was on the verge of falling asleep when she started moving.

 

His eyes shot back open and he turned towards her. He rolled onto his side as he noticed her visibly shivering. Obi tried to fix her covers, but she continued to shake. He sighed to himself and then maneuvered one arm under her pillow and the other arm over her. Slowly he pulled her to him tucking her against the curve of his body. She let out a slight hum, nuzzling her head into the pillow. His entire body relaxed and he closed his eyes.

 Chapter 10 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitomi stretched her body and rubbed her eyelids. Her eyes opened to a grey room slightly lit from light creeping through the curtains. She glanced around the room recognizing it as a hotel room by the tacky patterned curtains and generic nature paintings. It could have easily been the same room that her mother and she shared when the heat went out in their house a few winters ago.

 

She let out a yawn and rolled over towards the door. Suddenly the events of last night flooded her mind and she shot up. She looked around the room searching for any signs of the winged boy or Obi. As soon as she thought of Obi her stomach ached. She had passed out after her hands had been illuminated. Hitomi wondered if Obi was still alive or if something awful had happened while she lay sleeping. And if he was alive, she pondered where he might be.

 

“Hello? Anyone else here?” She eyed every corner of the room and pulled the covers back. She realized she still had her dress on as she got up. As she poked around the room, she discovered a bag on the table. Reaching to pull back the zipper, she noticed the dried blood covering her hands. Obi’s blood. Filled with nausea she ran to the bathroom and immediately started scrubbing her hands. She glanced up in the mirror finding blood caked in her hair and on her face.

 

She turned on the shower and stripped off her clothes. The hot water was a welcome relief to her tired body. She ran the provided bar of soap against her skin and in her hair trying to get rid of any trace of Obi’s blood. She closed her eyes remembering how much blood there had been. The knot in her stomach tightened as she thought of Obi. She had been so scared to lose him. Obi had become so vital to her. He influenced every single one of her emotions. But what was he?

 

She sat down in the bathtub and let the water beat down on her as she curled herself into a ball. Hitomi knew that Obi was not human. She also knew that he had been sent to kill her for reasons she didn’t know. But he hadn’t killed her. He had watched over her, shielded her, and became the most important part of her life. Hitomi’s body trembled as the water cascaded over her skin. She had let herself fall entirely and utterly in love with him without even knowing who he was.

 

He had tried to keep her away from him. He insisted he was not a good person. But she had taken his actions with a grain of salt. Hitomi now realized that she had no idea what she was dealing with. She had no clue who she loved. And she gritted her teeth at the thought that she loved a being sent to kill her.

 

Her body shuddered again as she heard the creak of the door over the water pounding on her head.

 

“Hitomi?” Obi’s voice was suddenly in the bathroom.

 

She looked up startled and saw a blurry version of Obi through the shower doors. She noticed that he quickly turned his back to her, but she pulled her knees closer to her anyway.

 

“I’m sorry. I knocked.”

 

“I’ll be out in a few minutes,” Hitomi stuttered.

 

She watched him walk out and shut the door. Her body shook as she stood up and turned off the water. Instantly she felt cold and quickly wrapped herself in a towel. She really didn’t want to put her dress back on.  She could smell the caked on dried blood all over the material. She pulled the towel tighter and cracked the door open.

 

“Obi?”

 

“Yes?” His voice sounded far away.

 

“Are there any other clothes of mine?”

 

She listened to him walking around and then unexpectedly he stood in front of her. Obi held a bag in his hands out to her. His eyes widened at seeing her and she swiftly shut the door.

 

“I’ll leave it by the door,” he mumbled.

 

Hitomi’s skin quickly covered in goose bumps. She hadn’t been ready to see him quite yet. And she really hadn’t been ready for him to see her clad only in a towel. Her back pressed firmly against the door, she tried to calm her rapid pulse. She could still feel him on the other side of the door waiting for her, but after a few minutes she listened to his steps walk away.

 

She cracked the door open again and leaned down grabbing the bag. She pulled it into the bathroom and shut the door with a thud. Propping it up on the sink, she dug through it and found everything she needed. As she was slipping on her jeans, Hitomi wondered if it had been Obi who had gone through her drawers and riffled through her belongings to gather the items. After pulling on a long sleeve t-shirt and v-neck sweater, she found socks and her black Converse.

 

She towel dried her hair trying to put off the fact that she needed to leave the bathroom. Hitomi was curious, but scared at the same time. She let her hair fall down her back as she threw the towel onto the toilet and placed her hand on the door knob. Her heart raced as she opened the door and stepped out.

 

Obi was standing across the room with his back to her peeking out the window through the curtains. She took another step out into the room and he quickly turned around. His face was a combination of fear and sadness. He stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets and took a step back.

 

“How are you feeling?” he asked lowering his head, but still keeping his eyes focused on her.

 

“Alright,” she shrugged. “Where are we?”

 

“I’m not exactly sure. Hitomi, I…” he took a step towards her.

 

Hitomi panicked and moved back holding her hands up. “Stop. Don’t come any closer.”

 

“I’m not going to hurt you.”

 

She crossed her arms across her chest. “But you were sent to kill me?”

 

“Yes,” Obi sighed.

 

Hitomi bit her lower lip as she prepared to ask the inevitable question. “What are you?”

 

“Hitomi, please know that I was going to tell you. I just didn’t know how.”

 

Her chest rose and fell heavily. “What are you?” she asked again.

 

She watched Obi’s face contort to his own amount of panic. “I don’t want you to be scared. I promise I will never hurt you.”

 

Stopping her overwhelming urge to stomp her foot, she unfolded her arms letting them drop to her sides. She curled her fingers around the edges of her sleeves. “Obi, tell me what you are.” Her heart felt like it was pounding its way up her throat as her body quivered. She was scared to hear the answer, but she needed to know. She needed to know who she was in love with.

Advertising Download Read Online
Other books
rescue me by kathy coopmans
the darkest fire by gena showalter
untimely graves by marjorie eccles
days of ignorance by laila aljohani
unbound by jim c. hines