Hundreds Page 2

I’d warmed to him.

I’d kissed him back.

I’d wanted him on the streets of Morocco.

Whatever was between us couldn’t be labelled but it had threaded us together, despite our uncommon introduction.

I’d never had that sort of connection with anyone. I’d never seen undiluted passion in a man’s eyes but trust him not to hurt me with it at the same time. His self-control drove me to do reckless things like daydream what it would be like to be with him with no baggage of my past.

I’d selfishly only thought about me. About what Elder was doing for my recuperation rather than what it would be like for him sharing his home with a crazy woman who didn’t like clothing, touch, or music.

My issues weren’t his fault, so why punish him?

Because you’re not well. You’re healing.

Yes, I was healing, and that was because of him. He was the reason I was alive with a functioning tongue rather than tongueless and dead.

I put too much on him—never letting go of my suspicion and fear.

I wasn’t easy to be around. Hell, I hated being around me most of the time. I hadn’t appreciated how draining it would be to live with a mute all while she struggled to return to her sexuality while abhorring it at the same time.

I’d given mixed messages.

To him and to myself.

Don’t give him excuses.

I sighed, drawing a love heart on the back of my hand.

I wasn’t giving him excuses. I was beginning to live like a normal girl again. A girl who wasn’t just wrapped up in herself and her plight. A girl who would shoulder some of what’d happened because she knew people weren’t perfect. I’d locked up so much of my previous life that it took time to open rusty lids and pull out age-covered recollections. With each memory, dust clouds fogged up the attic of my mind, blurring everything for a time before slowly settling and leaving clarity.

I was finally seeing clear after being in that dusty fog.

I’d studied psychology textbooks that’d given insights into inconsistencies and screw-ups of the human race. I’d learned from experience that the worst members of society could be manipulated through subtle body language. I’d educated myself on how to pre-empt a person’s mood by their mannerisms.

It was time I used those skills and analysed myself for a change, rather than remain unwilling to evolve.

So what if my skin crawled when I wore clothing? It made other people uncomfortable to see me naked.

So what if music made my heart bleed and my mind burrow into hiding? Elder needed to play to quieten his own demons.

So what if I was still at his mercy, dependent on his generosity for however long he’d keep me? The time he’d already given had to be appreciated and valued.

I was done being the victim.

And I was through living this way. This scared, timid, unhealing way.

Ever since Elder had let me cry in his arms—giving me a safe harbour for my tears—he’d been the utmost gentleman. Once my panic had receded, he’d slowly disengaged, leaving my body and heart empty of him.

For so long, I’d hated any form of touching. However, wrapped in my sadness with Elder’s body inside mine, something had changed. His intrusion had added an unwanted but deeper connection to our strange relationship.

Not once did he move or try to claim his own pleasure. He didn’t thrust or come or even groan in frustration when we disconnected. He’d placed me on his bed as if I’d shatter.

Pulling up his pants, he’d wrapped me in his sheets then carried me back to my quarters.

I’d tucked into his arms and let him care for me. I didn’t speak as he’d placed me onto my bed and kissed my forehead with every tenderness I’d been missing.

Stay.

I’d wanted him to stay. Despite our first sexual encounter being one-sided and rushed and full of music decaying any pleasure I might’ve found, I hadn’t wanted him to go.

My first words had been condemning and judgmental. I was afraid he’d leave, and I’d never see him again.

Stay.

But he hadn’t.

He’d given me another sweet, barely-felt kiss, brushed aside my hair, and stared into my eyes as if searching for something—hate, loathing? I didn’t know.

His jaw had clenched. His black eyes heavy and depthless. And then, he’d gone.

That was yesterday.

I hadn’t slept all night and spent most of the morning and afternoon reliving his body inside me—the thickness, the warmness. With him filling me, I’d suffered a complex recipe of fear and power. Fear because of my past. Power because of the way he looked at me.

He’d let me drown in those emotions until he withdrew, transforming us from one person to two again.

We’d technically had sex, yet it was nothing like any previous sex I’d had. I hadn’t enjoyed pleasure—just like all the hated times with Alrik.

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