Survivor’s Diaries: Chapter 24

Chapter 24: Surprise

“Alright, Fiona, we’re here,” Jesse’s quiet, musical voice sounded.

I felt his hands meandering through my hair as my eyelids fluttered open.

“Where are we?” I asked groggily.

“Come outside and look,” Jesse whispered.

I rubbed my eyes and tried to muster the energy to erect my body, but failed, slouching over the seat.

He just laughed.

Jesse opened the driver’s door, got out of the car, and shut it, making his way over to my side.

A gust of ice cold air hit me as he flung open the passenger door, making me shiver.

Did he take me to Antarctica?

He reached over and undid my seatbelt, then scooped me up with his arms and pulled me into his arrest.

“It’s okay, Jesse, I can walk,” I murmured incoherently, although I wasn’t even sure that was sincere. My knees would surely buckle if I tried.

He just chuckled.

I followed the sound of his laugh with my eyes, searching for its beautiful source, and landed on his perfect face.

My heart stopped momentarily at the sight of his magnificent smile, white and floating in the darkness.

The hyper-sharp, vampire-esque fang teeth which anchored his top set were even more pronounced against this night sky.

So sexy.

“Gosh, Fiona you’re so light,” he muttered disapprovingly, so quietly I didn’t think he intended for me to hear.

Well, I thought sarcastically, if that was such a concern, all of the hiking from this trip would only make matters worse. If it were up to me, we both be laying on a beach in Hawaii doing nothing, as was originally planned.

If I could roll my eyes I would.

Leaves crunched beneath Jesse’s feet as he carried me to the unknown destination.

After a few minutes, he stopped.

“Okay, Fiona, open your eyes,” Jesse whispered into my ear.

My eyelids drifted.

I stared into the dark.

Before me, nestled inside a cove of redwoods, was a beautiful, spacious log cabin, colored amethyst by the light of the stars. It belonged here so absolutely it seemed as if it must have grown from the forest, a natural formation. The wood logs which layered the sides were the same color and texture of the towering trees of the surround, which enveloped the cabin like a protective crest. A thicket of green vines climbed up the length of the walls like a lattice, winding up and over the windows which were bursting with yellow light from the inside. Leading up to the structure was a little path of flat stones, which ended at the stairs, each covered with a layer of foliage. The roof was coated with a down of flora, supplied by the generous canopy of the nearby trees, cocooning the cabin like a magnificent floral blanket. The focal point was the large arched, wooden door, which soared from the floor to the ceiling like a medieval gate, blooming with elaborate metals and ornate handles, dotted with iron hinges, the body criss crossed with diagonal bracing, and the edges engraved with quaint, fairytale-esque carvings like something out of a Disney movie.

The structure was so at peace with this scene it seemed almost an outgrowth of the surrounding nature.

I didn’t realize my jaw had dropped until Jesse gently closed it shut with his index finger.

“This — this is where we’re staying?” I gasped.

He chuckled, setting me down, then ran his hands through his hair. “Yeah. I had a feeling you wouldn’t be able to last more than a day hiking and tent living like we were so I booked this place.”

Normally, I would respond to the dig he made about my stamina but I was so enamored I let it pass.

“This — this is amazing,” I marveled. “It’s huge!”

It was huge. Three stories high.

“This is just for the two of us?” I confirmed, jumping up and down.

“Yes,” he laughed.

“Oh my god,” I breathed.

“Let’s go check it out,” he smiled, pulling my hand.

I sprinted toward the house as fast as I could, towing him behind me.

He laughed as we raced up the steps.

“Oh my god!” I exclaimed again in unbridled excitement.

There was even an iron door knocker. I slammed it against the wood over and over again. Jesse chuckled.

He punched in the entry code and opened the door.

The room illuminated automatically as we stepped inside, clearly the result of some sensor activated lighting system, and everything in sight was flooded with warm color.

The floors were cherry hardwood and the oak ceilings a deep shade of cognac. Two massive leather sectionals, whiskey hued, plush, and swathed in a sheath of fur blankets, squared off the room. The kitchen adjacent was gorgeous and immaculate, replete with hanging sconces and glass bubble chandeliers, with every place setting and accent piece perfectly in place, like something straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. The granite countertops were definitely the star of the show, soaring through space like a shooting star frozen in place, so astral was the marble blend of black, gold, and aureate. Color swirled around the slab in cosmic spirals and galactic clusters so ethereally the whole piece really did look like an art form, a constellation trapped in stone.

I drank it all in again and again with my eyes and then, shamelessly again, started jumping up and down and clapping.

Jesse examined my reaction with an amused look on his face. Clearly, he was accustomed to a lavish lifestyle, replete with deluxe cars, five star vacations, and sophisticated living spaces but this was all new to me.

I turned to face him, glowing, and a slow smile spread across his face.

“Do you like it?” he asked, reaching for me.

I threw myself at him, wrapping my legs around his waist and my arms around his neck. “I love it.”

We pressed our tongues against each other’s.

From there we got settled into what would be our abode for the next week. Jesse unloaded all of our bags from the car while I ran giddily though the house from room to room, excavating every little nook and cranny.

The master bedroom on the third floor had a balcony that overlooked the sprawling sea of snow capped redwood trees. The bathroom had a huge tub with jets in addition to a walk in shower. There was even a jacuzzi in the backyard, although it would probably be too cold to enjoy this time of year and I didn’t bring a swimsuit. Even the curtains and linens were all luxury satin and silk blends.

I was elated.

And exhausted.

I collapsed onto the master bed, not even bothering to remove my clothes, and closed my eyes.

Surely the nightmares would return tonight. I wasn’t foolish enough to believe they would abscond two nights in a row. More saliently, I wasn’t about to get excited and give myself false hope only to be devastated beyond imagining when they struck later. No, I had spent way too many years in that merciless cycle, too many seasons begging for relief in the doldrums of the evening, when the darkest hours slowly approached, just to be wrecked with misery in the middle of the night when the dreams attacked and I woke up crying into my pillow.

I didn’t do that to myself anymore.

No, no.

Now, being older, wiser, I did not allow myself to hope, to be optimistic, to think such things. Actually, I strictly forbade it.

Any time an encouraging thought would creep into my head I would obliterate it, then obliterate it again. The disappointment of false hope hurt too much. The insult after an injury, the infection after a sore. It was better to silence those voices and keep them locked up rather than entertain them.

The nightmares would be back, of that I was certain. I would not be spared for two eves. They would return, and I would be ensnared in their stinging depths once again, the question was just how deep and how long.

Soon my eyes started to glue shut. My heart rate and breathing began to fall.

It wouldn’t be long now. . .

I held the blackness at bay by inches for as long as I could but the nightmares kept coming at me and I no longer possessed the strength to resist.

Jesse’s footsteps sounded.

My heart fluttered and my entire being filled with warmth.

For a moment, all my fears went away.

I turned over and opened my eyes. Jesse walked in, smiling, then soared onto the bed.

He landed almost completely on top of me.

“Hey,” I laughed.

He grinned and pinned my wrists against the bed, getting up onto all fours.

My heart rate soared. Jesse leaned in and kissed my neck all the way down. I exhaled, melting beneath his sweet touches.

If I could stay in one place forever, it would be right here.

He brought his lips back to my face and where my mouth was open, waiting.

Then, all the softness was gone.

He kissed me aggressively, demandingly, pressing his tongue forcefully against mine. I kissed him back as hard as I could but he was still more forceful than me.

A small moan escaped my lips. I wanted him so bad.

He got up onto his knees, still straddling me, and took off his shirt, throwing it on the ground.

The sight of his half naked body never failed to shock me. Beautiful, snow white skin. Long, lean muscles. Gorgeous arms and shoulders, where sinew wrapped around bone in thick, braided ropes.

His face was red with anticipation.

He undid his belt then leaned back into our fiery kiss.

The intensity only increased with each passing second.

Jesse kissed my jaw and neck again, making his way down to my chest bone. Then he pulled the sleeve of my shirt down.

I froze.

Your cuts, Fiona, your cuts.

“Jesse,” I gasped.

He continued kissing my exposed chest without stopping.

“Jesse!” I repeated, breathless.

He groaned. “What?”

The sound was muffled against my skin.

“Maybe — maybe we should slow down a little bit,” I suggested, not knowing exactly what I meant.

He moaned into my skin. “I love you. I want you.”

“I love you too,” I replied wistfully, reflexively.

He sighed. “Then what’s the problem?”

I reached for an excuse that was true, that he would believe. “Jesse, I — I cant have rough sex tonight, okay,” I started. “I’m just covered in bruises all over, all the time, and I’m just in pain a lot and I need a break, okay; everything hurts.”

Everything was true. I did my best to oblige Jesse with any and ever sex fantasy he possibly wanted, and that almost always involved very rough sex, so rough I was seeing stars. But I bit my lip and rarely ever complained. I loved him, I would do anything for him. I didn’t see it as a burden. But at some point my body needed a break to heal.

Even if I wasn’t trying to hide the fact that I had self harmed the night before.

If I didn’t bring it up now I would have at some point. My body was already black and blue from falling so many times on the hike and being thrown around in the bedroom wouldn’t much help matters.

What I didn’t expect was his reaction.

The expression on his face.

He was crestfallen. Like I had just sapped the life right out of him.

My heart broke its meter.

“Fiona,” he whispered.

I reached for his face, instinctively.

We were so connected now, it hurt to witness him sad. Seeing his pain set off little stabs of my own.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” His voice broke. “I told you in the beginning to tell me. . . when it gets to be too much.”

I held his jaw in my hands. “Shh, shh,” I cooed softly. There was no need for him to ever feel somber on my account.

Then, in my hands, his face became exasperated.

Angry.

I knew why.

He hated it when I kept things from him like this, and pretended everything was fine. It really pissed him off.

I sighed, and the truth escaped again. “I didn’t want to disappoint you. I never want to deny you.”

He reached for my face. “You will never disappoint me.”

Then he pressed his lips against mine. Soft, sweet, like before, not aggressive or harsh, and we resumed.

As we kissed, I reached behind me and turned off the lights.

Everything went black.

Through the darkness, Jesse’s voice sounded. “Why did you do that?” He asked, annoyed.

I reached for an excuse. This one wasn’t true.

“Just insecure tonight that’s all,” I squeaked, the pitch of my voice giving me away.

Jesse’s eyes narrowed in the darkness. He didn’t believe me. I could only imagine the wild activity going on in the workings of his lawyerly mind, trying to understand why I did that. But before I could let that train of thought go any further I grabbed his jaw and pulled him back toward mine, determined to make him forget about anything else but me for the next hour.

I felt all of his skepticism in his being melt away as I kissed him with as much passion as I could muster. Our clothes disappeared.

And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.

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