Tales of a Broken Soul
Leah is plagued by her memories. Leaving La Push behind, she strives for a new life in New York. But when she returns for her brother’s graduation, her life gets irreversibly turned upside down.
9. fire tends to burn
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But I had to admit to myself that even though I still felt love for Sam, something was defiantly different when I was with Mike. And what was wrong with loving two men at once? Sam loved two women at once and his relationship turned out okay. But I didn’t love Mike so it was a moot point anyway.
The phone’s annoying ringing stopped all my thoughts dead cold. I squeezed my eyes shut and prayed that Seth or someone would pick it up.
Please don’t be Mike…just give me a few more minutes to figure things out.
“Leah! It’s for you,” Seth called up the stairs. Damn.
I silently picked myself up off the bed and trudged down the stairs. I was in a deep foray of emotions. On one hand I was scared of loving again. On the other, I was excited about it. And on another, I was heartbroken over Sam. And, yet on another I was filled with hate. I was like a freaky little centipede--- to many hands to keep accounted for.
I snatched the portable phone from Seth, who had a strangely smug smile on his face. I narrowed my eyes at him before stalking out of the room.
“Hello?” I snapped into the phone. I heard a gasp of air before Mike answered.
“Hey, Leah,” he answered giddily. I squeezed my eyes shut again and bounced up the stairs into my room. I closed the door behind me and plugged up the area under the door with blankets to keep what I said inside my room. I had no doubt that I would have two eavesdroppers behind my door.
“You want to set a date,” I stated.
“Yep,” he said. I plopped down on my bed and played with a fringed blanket. “And Seth already told me that you are completely free this whole week, so you have no excuses,” he joked.
“Ha-ha, yeah,” I agreed awkwardly. Shoot, now I had no backup plan. I was just going to have to go along with what Mike wanted. I did agree to give him a week…
“So, how about tonight at eight?” he piped up quickly. I cracked my knuckles nervously. I thought back to when I used to date. Was I supposed to play hard to get or something? Switch the times around to get the upper hand?
I almost smacked myself when I realized what I was doing. These weren’t real dates. There was no reason to get the upper hand.
“Hm…I don’t know,” my mouth said without my own approval. “I’m kind of in the mood for ice cream or coffee before hand.”
What. Was. I. Doing? Was I flirting with Mike?
“Um, okay, sure. Why don’t we make it five, then,” he said after a few moments. I cracked a smile when I imagined his confusion. “Maybe we can make it a nice walk in the forest or something,” he offered.
Just say yes, Leah, my inner conscious told me. But I had a very nasty habit of ignoring my conscious at very inopportune moments.
“A walk in the park?” I asked in mock disappointment. I actually played with my hair and smiled into the phone. “Is that the best you can do?”
Someone shoot me.
Shut up, Leah. But Leah was far, far gone. This flirty monster took her place.
“I’ll think of something,” he squeaked into the phone. I cracked a smile and stretched myself over the bed.
“Okay, bye,” I chuckled before hanging up the phone. I smiled to myself for a few moments before I came back to reality and realized what I just did. I clamped my hands over my mouth and my eyes grew wide. I threw myself off the bed and paced around my room.
Oh, crap. How was I going to explain that to Mike? ‘Oh, sorry, my brain just flew away to crazy land and that’s why I flirted with you’. I bashed my head against my wall in an attempt to clear my had.
“Ow…” I whimpered when my skull made contact with my wall-which I found out wasn’t just drywall.
I fell back onto my bed and rubbed my aching head. And I doubted that the whole wall-to-head contact was the only reason for the headache.
Footsteps stomping on the stairs were like nails drilling into my skull. My door burst open to reveal a very excited looking Seth.
“Oh man!” he exclaimed while waving our other home phone in his hand. I groaned when I realized that he was listening in on my conversation with Mike. “You actually flirted with someone! With Mike!”
I narrowed my eyes at him and pointed towards the door.
“You. Out. Now,” I demanded. Seth skipped out of the room eagerly, clearly pleased with the situation.
“Your graduation present to me can be you actually having a good time!” he called back from the hallway. “And I expect you to not be sulky either,” he insisted. I rolled my eyes before placing my pillow back over my head.
It wasn’t the end of the world that I completely embarrassed myself. In fact, it could be a good thing. If I was willing to let myself go and be happy around Mike, then shouldn’t that mean that I was finally getting over Sam?
I rolled over and smiled to myself. Welcome back Leah Clearwater.
* * *
It took me a while to realize that I had no idea what to wear to my date. Skirt? Pants? Dress? Was this a casual thing or not?
I groaned to myself again and dug through my suitcase. After a few minutes of thorough searching, I managed to excavate a sundress. It was light and fairly casual but could go either way if the situation arose. I sighed in relief and slipped on some shoes that vaguely matched. I slapped on some---okay, a little more than some---makeup and brushed my short hair.
When I looked in the mirror, I was surprised at how I looked. I was beautiful, but I didn’t have a frown on my face. I did a double take---this was not something that I had seen in a very long time. I grinned before snatching up my purse and bouncing down the stairs and into the living room.
Mom and Seth had gone out to the grocery store, probably to give me some privacy. I was thankful for that and made a mental note to be extra nice to them. I was surprised by my train of thought, but didn’t think more about it. Thinking usually tended to spoil good things.
Mike didn’t keep me waiting in my anxiety for long. Once I heard him knock on the dark wooden door, my heart flew in my chest and doubts swam abruptly into my head.
Do I really want this?
Can I trust him?
I’m too heartbroken for this!
I swallowed my doubts and hesitantly opened the door.
Mike stood there looking as dashing as ever and a lump got stuck in my throat.
“Hi,” he greeted with a cracking voice. I nodded in hello and quickly squeezed out of the door and shut it behind me. I could almost feel his eyes roaming up and down my body. I blushed, just then realizing just how short my dress was.
We both turned and walked towards the car.
* * *
The ice cream shop Mike took me to was small, cute, and a light color of pink. We pulled into the tiny parking lot before he got out and opened the door for me. I smiled at him in thanks as he took my hand to help me out. The contact of his hand wrapped around mine made my stomach fill with butterflies.
I ended up ordering cookie dough while Mike got strawberry. I called him a sissy for at least five minutes before I quieted down enough for him to actually talk.
“I’m really happy that you came here with me,” he said. His voice was unnaturally tantalizing, which kind of confused me. Was he doing it on purpose?
“Yeah,” I responded, thrown off a little. “I don’t normally go out with sissies so consider yourself lucky,” I said in an attempt to make the sudden awkward situation more comfortable.
“Strawberry ice cream does not make me a sissy,” he snapped. He took an abnormally large bite out of his ice cream just to prove his point. I chuckled and took a large bite out of mine.
“Many ice creams label men as sissies,” I stated. One of his eyebrows raised. “If it’s pink or has any chocolate or vanilla in it, then it is only for girls,” I elaborated. He narrowed his eyes at me.
“That rules out almost all ice cream,” he mumbled.
“Yes, so to save your dignity, you have to give me your ice cream,” I stated. I reached my hand out expectably. He stared at me for a moment before bursting out laughing.
“You just said that to get my ice cream? You only had to ask,” he chuckled. I rolled my eyes dramatically.
“I could have done that, but this is more fun,” I said, almost shocked at how easy it was for me to flirt with him like crazy. I grabbed his ice cream anyway and rolled it on top of my own. I handed the empty cone back to Mike and grinned at my new blend of strawberry and cookie dough.
He glared at me jokingly for a moment before sobering up. “I can still eat chocolate, right?” he asked me.
I nodded and licked around the ice cream. “You can have chocolate and vanilla, but not strawberry.”
“Because strawberry is my favorite and if you get it I’ll have to steal it from you,” I stated. I took another bite from the ice cream and shuddered when the cold hit my front two teeth.
“If strawberry is your favorite, why didn’t you order it?” he asked me. I paused and shuddered for a completely different reason.
Sam and I would go for ice cream almost every Sunday. He would always get mint chocolate chip and I would always get strawberry. For five years I was always careful to avoid that flavor. Being with Mike must have brought my guard down.
“I was in the mood for cookie dough,” I muttered before glancing down at my ice cream without any more appetite.
“You don’t want anymore?” he asked dejected. I shook my head and handed the ice cream over to him.
“Too much cold hurts my stomach,” I told him untruthfully. He seemed to buy it, though, and finished off the ice cream. I looked away from him and tried to focus on the bird that was tweeting in a tree. Anything but the memories something as simple as ice cream brought up.
We sat there awkwardly for a few moments before Mike jumped up and started to walk away. I hopped up after him, utterly confused.
“Let’s go for a walk,” he yelled to me and walked towards the forest. I groaned and ran after him. The ice cream sloshed in my stomach uncomfortably.
I quickly caught up to him and walked beside him. It didn’t take us very long to enter the forest.
Something about the trees surrounding us completely calmed me down. The scent of pine and the wilderness filled my nostrils and all else fled from my mind. Noise from cars and people became a thing of the past as we ventured deeper and deeper into the trees.
I wasn’t wearing high heels thankfully, so walking was a bit easier. But, the shoes I wore weren’t made for hiking either. While I was busy staring up at the canopy, my foot got tangled in a tree root. Taken completely unawares, I immediately toppled to the ground.
I squeezed my eyes shut and my arms flung out to catch my fall. But I didn’t fall onto the ground. Mike’s arms held me as I hesitantly reopened my eyes and realized where I was.
The heat immediately flushed towards my face.
I was so close to him. In fact, his face was only a few inches from mine. I could feel his breath on my skin and I was filled with prickles. I swallowed as I was immensely aware of the feeling of his arms wrapped around my back and waist.
All time seemed to stop and I couldn’t move. All I could think of was that he was holding me and it was so close and so right. Oh, god, it felt like I belonged there.
Then, ever so slowly he leaned in until we were practically nose to nose. My stomach and heart started to flutter in anticipation. And when his lips pressed lightly against mine, everything stopped. My heartbeat, my thoughts, and time itself was stilled. I wrapped my arms around him and closed my eyes.
The kiss seemed to last forever and for a moment I never wanted it to stop. But then, I opened my eyes and the magic was ruined. Thought returned to me and I yanked myself away from him and stumbled away. Sanity seemed to be ripped from me.
He kissed me. He kissed me. How dare he? I didn’t give him permission or anything! He-he took advantage of me! I was confused and preoccupied. I didn’t love him---how dare he kiss me!
I back away from him while he looked at me with shock and misery.
“Leah! Wait! Stop! I’m sorry!” He called after me. I narrowed my eyes at him and overwhelming anger welled up in me. I turned around and ran away as fast as I could. Mike wouldn’t possibly be able to follow me.
Branches and leaves whipped around me as I ran faster and faster. My thoughts were filled with rage at what Mike had done. He kissed me!
As I started started to slow down my pace, my thoughts slowed down also. And when I was finally out of breath, I tried to remember what I was so angry about. I was shocked when I couldn’t remember what is was.
He kissed me, but didn’t I want it, too? But I was confused and preoccupied with thoughts of Sam. I could have mistaken my feelings for him with my feelings for Mike…But still, my lips still tingled from where Mike’s lips had touched mine. I stared at the ground, starting to feel guilty for running away like that. But--but he kissed me without my permission…
I shook my head and started to walk back to where I left Mike. My mind was running through possible apologies for my actions. I still had nothing to say when I finally reached the place where I left him. But when I got there…he was gone.
I looked around at my surroundings, dread engulfing me.
What had I done?