Connie's boat glides across the ocean current. I sip another drink of my 'spiked' fruity punch and hold on to the balcony's railing. The wind picks and I glance to the sky, noticing storm clouds brewing against the moon and stars.
I can't seem to ignore the tightening in my chest as I'm reminded Jeremy is up there. Somewhere. And then I am brought back to Todd's dream, his vivid reenactment of what could possibly lead to Jeremy's return to earth.
But of course, Jeremy could change his mind.
After all, he's now seen Evan and I kiss, share a tender embrace, and now - if he was watching - he's witnessed me telling Evan my deepest and darkest secrets. I shake my head and scold myself for my behavior. If I was him, I'd probably change my mind too.
No sooner does Jeremy leave me, and a week later I flit back to Evan's side.
I breathe in the ocean air and close my eyes, mentally calling out to Jeremy and begging him to come back to me. Though…I can't quite pinpoint what would happen if he did. What would that mean? That we were together? Would we get married? Would that mean he loved me? Or just wanted to live another life on earth with a woman he knew would sleep with him whenever he wanted?
I sigh and gulp down the rest of my punch. I'm ready for another glass.
I hear Evan come out to the balcony and approach my side. He moves his hand around my waist and gives my hip a reassuring squeeze. I was so sure after I told him everything he'd want nothing to do with me.
I mean seriously - telling someone I'm half demon, half human, have lived for thousands of years, and am now being sought after by a demon hunter - that doesn't exactly scream 'sane person.'
And yet strangely enough, whatever feelings Evan had for me before only seem to be intensified now.
"You doing alright, Stells?"
"Yea. I'm just thinking about everything."
Evan nods and follows my eyes to the clouds in the sky.
"Storm is coming."
"I wanted to thank you, Stella. For telling me and trusting me with everything. I can't tell you how much it means to me. And I believe what you said. Every damn word of it."
Evan grabs a hold of my shoulders and turns me to face him. He looks into my eyes with an intensity I've only witnessed in movies… or from the clouds above….
"And believe me when I tell you I will not leave your side until all this has been sorted out. I will protect you and care for you so nothing bad happens."
"But I - "
"- I know you're going to say you don't need me to. I'm not asking you to 'be with me.' After all, I heard about you and Jeremy….I know I messed up what we had and I have to work hard to get it back. And that may never happen. I realize that. But I'm not going anywhere. I will stay by your side until I know you are safe and protected. Period."
I know whatever argument I have is futile at this point. I smile softly. "Well, thank you Evan. I wouldn't mind someone protecting me for a few days."
The small lines around Evan's eyes crinkle as he laughs. I turn my back to him and let him drape his arms around me. The smell of his seductive cologne tickles my nose. I wonder how it is possible to have feelings for two men at once. I see men and women do it all the time, but just have never been able to wrap my head around it.
"I love you Stella," Evan whispers into my ear.
My eyes widen at his admittance, but I refuse to turn around, in fear of buckling under his tender gaze.
So I pretend I don't hear him at all.
"Now make sure you call me, alright?" Connie asks, her arms locked around me like a vice.
I chuckle and move away from her, my cheeks flushed with embarrassment and too much alcohol.
"I will, Connie. I promise."
I think this is the first time I've seen Connie more sober than everyone else. Apparently she was instructed by her doctor to limit her alcohol intake. I smile at her warmly and give her a pat on the arm. I am so happy she is alive and is standing in front of me that I want to leap for joy.
Ok, maybe the 'leaping' part is the alcohol talking.
Connie diverts her attention to Evan and suffocates him in one of her bear hugs. He lets out an uncomfortable laugh and squirms out of her hold.
"You better take care of my girl Evan or I'll beat the shit outta you. I'm serious!"
She points a finger at Evan and puts on a playful 'angry face.' Evan holds up his hands in surrender and then reaches for my hand. His slender, warm fingers intertwine with mine, and the action catches me so off-guard that I feel like a giggling girl in grade school.
Gavin watches all the action in silence standing obediently behind Connie. I watch as his eyes lock on Evan and I's intertwined hands. Slowly Gavin looks up at me and gives me a fleeting look, one that holds confusion and an underlying accusation. Or maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me. Why would Gavin be giving me such an accusatory look? Does he know about my feelings for Jeremy?
No. He couldn't.
Evan gives a final wave before leading me off the dock and back to his car. I adjust the seat and slowly clasp my safety belt in place.
"Ok driver, where to?" I ask, my voice loud and my words slurred.
Evan chuckles and his tires peel against the newly paved asphalt.
"I'm going to stop at my place and pack a suitcase. After that, I-"
"Pack a suit case?"
"Yea, a suitcase."
"To stay with you."
I open my mouth to protest but Evan is a step ahead of me. I blame the alcohol.
"I said I wasn't leaving your side, Stella. I meant it. I'm staying with you whether you like it or not."
Evan gives me a smile that makes my stomach tremble and my head tingle.
"A-a-and then what?" I ask, half afraid and half excited to hear the answer.
Evan's face turns serious as he glances back at the open road ahead of him. His voice drops and his words are almost inaudible.
"Then we're going to hunt that bastard Richard down….and kill him."