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Saint & Sinner – A Second Chance Romance
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(10 years previously)
“People will understand one day, but not yet. Not yet.”
The fire filled the windows of the house. It was yellow, orange, and bright red and it was spreading quickly, eating through the house, like a fiery, revengeful monster. Soon the whole house would be up in flames. It was terrible and awesomely beautiful at the same time. Like a saint who turned into a sinner right before your eyes.
I wished I could stay and stare at the beautiful destruction, but I couldn’t. I had to run and pretend to call for help. Pretend I was asleep in my room. Pretend I didn’t hear anything.
“Willow,” Caleb called over the crackling, angry noises coming from the suffering house.
I turned my head and looked into his mesmerizing eyes. Caleb had the most amazing eyes you ever saw. Piercing blue, with long, thick eyelashes that should have belonged to a girl. Staring into their beauty you could never imagine how much he had endured. I let myself drown in those magnificent blue starbursts for a few precious seconds.
I wished I could stay a bit longer. I wished we were somewhere else. I wished we had been born elsewhere, in different circumstances. But more than anything else in the world I wished I was not seeing the reflection of fire in his eyes.
“So, it’s done,” I whispered. I could feel the shock and wonder in my eyes. We did it. We actually did it.
He nodded slowly, his eyes never leaving mine.
“What do we do now?”
He reached out and took my hand in his. His flesh felt hot and damp. “We stick to the plan.”
“Are you afraid?” I whispered.
He shook his head calmly. “No. Are you?”
“I’m afraid for you,” I confessed.
“Don’t be. I will be fine. Even if they come for me they can’t do anything other than send me to a juvenile detention center. I’m tough, I can survive that no problem. Just stick to the plan. They will try to trick you. They will try to say I have confessed, but it will all be lies. I will never admit to anything and neither should you, and no matter what they say or threaten to do. Loyalty forever, Willow. This is our secret. Never trust anyone enough to tell them no matter how close you get to them.”
“I will take this secret to my grave,” I promised solemnly.
His chin jutted out with determination. “So will I.”
“If they don’t catch you, can I contact you then?”
“No,” he said immediately. “It could be a trick. There should never be a connection between us. After your eighteenth birthday if I’m not caught then we will meet at the bridge, but if I’m behind bars, then you can start to write to me wherever they’re holding me.”
I nodded. All the adrenaline rushing through my blood was making me feel jittery and almost high. As if I’d had a hit of Caleb’s pot. My fingers tingled. “Caleb, you won’t forget me, will you?”
His eyes flashed. “What kind of stupid question is that? Forget you? I would die for you, Willow. Are you planning to forget me?”
I shook my head vigorously. “Never. I love you, Caleb. More than I love myself.”
His face softened. “Then let’s swear it in blood.”
“Alright,” I agreed.
He took the knife, red with the other’s blood out of his belt, and wiped it on the grass first, then against his pants. When it was clean he used the sharp point to slice his finger open. Blood seeped out quickly. I held out my hand and he moved the knife towards my flesh, but as the knife touched my skin, he froze.
I raised my head to look at him. “What is it?”
The light from the fire licked the side of his face. “I can’t. I can’t cut you, Willow.”
“Why not?” I whispered.
“I can’t hurt you.”
I took the knife from his hand and pricked my finger. Then we touched our bleeding fingers together. “I love you, forever,” he said, his voice hoarse.
“I love you, forever,” I echoed.
Then he leaned forward and kissed me. It was a hard, desperate kiss. The wind blew against us. And I smelled the smoke and fire in the wind. Then he tore his mouth away, looked at me one last time with desperate eyes, as if he was memorizing me in his mind, and loped away towards the woods. I stood there alone with the burning house and the night stars watching me.
Tears started to well up my eyes. I had lost so much and now I was being asked to lose him as well. My heart felt as if it was breaking. “I will never forget you, Caleb. Never,” I promised. I hoped the wind would carry my promise to his ears.
Then I started to run.
I ran as fast as I could, until my foot caught on something, maybe a root, and I fell backwards. My head hit something so hard, maybe a stone, it made a cracking sound.