Verum by Courtney Cole
Book #2 Nocte Trilogy
A Little Taste
Together, we float to the surface, still intertwined. We break through the top and I suck in a breath and Dare is staring into my eyes.
There’s tension here, but not the bad kind. It’s the kind that ignites you, the kind that intoxicates you, the kind that once you taste it, you’ll crave for the rest of your life.
I’ve forgotten that I was going to be careful, that I was going to reject him on every level.
All I can remember, all I can focus on, is how veryalive Dare DuBray is making me feel in this moment, how alive he alwaysmakes me feel.
For a girl who has been surrounded by death her entire life, this is a very big deal.
“I’m a little afraid of you,” I blurt honestly, and Dare still has his arms around me. Our treading water motions keep our legs rubbing together, the friction still there.
Dare smiles, but there is no humor in it.
My honesty makes me seem innocent, but I don’t know how to play games. I have no experience with the opposite sex at all.
“Because that makes you feel something.”
But he’s hesitant now and he looks away. There’s something he wants to say, it’s balanced on the tip of his tongue, but he swallows it.
“What is it?” I ask softly. “Just tell me.”
He wants to, I can tell. His secrets are killing him. He just wants to be normal, he’s just acting out a role.
I don’t know why I feel like I know this. It’s just there, suddenly resting on my heart.
“You don’t have to be someone you’re not,” I murmur quietly. His dark eyes snap up to mine and he pulls his hands away. There’s something in his eyes now, something guarded, and our easy afternoon has come to an end.
“What makes you think I am?” he snaps. “Pretending to be something I’m not, I mean.”
I’ve somehow annoyed him, and I don’t answer because I don’t know what to say.
“I’m not being someone I’m not, Calla,” he says coolly as he strides from the water. “I’m being who you need me to be.”
I’m utterly confused, and I’m dripping wet.
“We don’t have towels,” is all he says when I follow him. My clothing soaks up the water and it is a very cold ride back home.
Dare doesn’t say another word and I leave him in the garage.
I don’t see him at dinner, and I don’t see him the rest of the night.
But as I lay in bed around midnight, I see his car leave the garage.
I don’t see him come home, and I’m awake for half the night waiting.
I have no idea where he goes when he slips away.
Somehow, I think he wants it that way.
There’s a fork in the road and even though I see it, I can’t avoid it.
One road goes left, one goes right, and neither of them end well.
I feel it in my bones,
In my bones,
In my bones.
I sing a song of nonsense, and it sings back. The notes echo and twist in the air, and I swallow them whole.
“Come out,” I call behind me, because I know they’re there.
I can’t see them, but they’re always watching.
Eyes appear, blood red, and they blink once, twice, three times.
“I can see you,” I announce and there’s a growl and then I’m crushed beneath the dark, beneath the weight, beneath the oppression.
“You don’t scare me,” I lie.
There’s savagery here, there’s grace.
But above all, there’s oblivion and no matter what I do, I will be sucked into it.
I know it.
I feel it.
And it doesn’t matter.
I’m the rabbitrabbitrabbit and I’ll never be free.