Title: Alive [Chapter Eleven]
Summary: Sage Alvi’s whole world turned upside-down when she lost her mother to cancer. Now forced to live with a father she never knew, she’s trying to navigate her way through a new home, city and school. To make things worse, her half-siblings hate her and she’s being bullied by the cool crowd. They say high school is hard, but this is just ridiculous.
They stayed up for hours, fooling around, talking and laughing until the sun came up bringing with it the inevitable blanket of slumber which Sage refused to give into. She had experienced the full gamut of emotions tonight, from the depths of despair to the highs of sheer ecstasy, and Aidan had been with her throughout it all. The last few hours had been surreal and strange in its newness, she didn’t want it to ever end.
Aidan yawned behind her, clutching her tighter, his breath tickling the hairs on the back of her neck.
“Nope,” he yawned again.
She smiled to herself. “Can I ask you something?”
“Do you know any other words?”
“Nope.” He nuzzled her neck.
Turning around, she tapped his nose gently with her index finger. “How many girls have you slept with?”
A heavy sigh escaped him, revealing his exasperation. “Do we really have to talk about this?”
“Yeah, I want to know.”
“Girls always say that but they don’t really want to know.”
“I’m not like other girls,” she huffed, offended by the generalisation.
He cocked his eyebrow. “No, you’re really not.” Charming smile in place, he tilted forward to drop a soft peck on her lips.
“So.” She levelled him with a keen gaze. “Tell me.”
“Not going to make it easy for you. You have to guess.”
“How am I supposed to do that?
“Your problem, babe. Not mine.”
She rolled her eyes. “Okay, fine. Ten.”
“Really? That’s it?”
She attempted to push him away but he grabbed her hand instead, placing it over his chest. There was no way she could stay angry, especially when he coddled her with a playful smirk. Drawing lazy circles on his skin, she returned his smile. “Was I even a little close?” she asked.
“That’s a lot of girls, you know.”
“I know.” A pensive expression crossed his face. “And no, you weren’t close.”
“Is it less?” she asked hopefully.
“What if it’s more?”
“That.” She paused to take a deep breath. “Would freak me out.” She smoothed her finger over his furrowed forehead. “But, whatever, I’ll deal.”
“Two,” he replied. “And a half, I guess. That’s it. That’s the number.”
“What the hell is a half? A midget?”
“Don’t be rude. They’re called little people, Sage.”
Chuckling, he tried to kiss her again but she placed her palm over his mouth, blocking his attempts. “Who were they?”
“Well…” he hesitated for a moment, swallowing audibly. “Cat. But you already knew that.”
Obviously. Her half-sister was always the elephant in the room with them.
“And this other chick at soccer camp before her.”
“Really? That’s it?”
He shrugged his shoulders. “You sound disappointed.”
“No, just surprised. I was expecting way more after everything I heard.”
“Because gossip is never wrong, right?”
He had a point, especially considering all the rumours about her. “Yeah, you’re right,” she sighed.
“But that doesn’t mean I want you going around telling people the truth.”
“Why?” she grinned. “’cause you want the girls to keep thinking you’re a player?”
“Maybe I will tell them the truth.”
He shot her a warning glance. “Don’t. You. Dare.”
“Or what?” she asked, jutting her chin out in defiance.
“Or.” He granted her an evil smirk. “You’ll regret it.”
Suddenly he started to tickle her. As she giggled and struggled against him, breathless and panting for air, he pinned her underneath, bestowing a smug smirk as he hovered above. “Say you’re sorry!”
“Fine, fine!” she squealed. “I’m sorry!”
At last he stopped, pressing himself down on her and peppering her jaw with soft, wet kisses as she caught her breath. Running her fingers through his hair, she left a tender kiss on his forehead. “You still haven’t told me about the half.”
It was a while before he spoke, his face nestled in the crook of her neck. “After Cat and I broke up, I just wanted to forget everything. Got wasted at a party, hooked up with this girl. Everything was going down the way it was supposed to until she saw the scars and freaked out.”
Despite his attempts at being nonchalant, the pain he felt was obvious. She wished there was some way she could erase all that anguish in him, make him realise he was worth so much more than the wounds that marked him, but the only reassurance she could give was a gentle hug. “You must have been really trashed to hook up with someone like that. She sounds like a fucking idiot.”
His gaze wavered from her eyes to her lips and back to her eyes again. “You think so?”
“Well, you do have really horrible taste in girls.”
“Must be why I like you.”
“I’m the exception, jackass.”
“If you say so, jackass,” he retorted, mimicking her voice.
She smacked him lightly. So as not to crush her with his weight, he slid half his body off of her, resting his head on her shoulder. No longer having the energy to stay awake, Sage reluctantly closed her eyes and gave into the fatigue that soon took over. Shortly after, with Aidan’s arms tucked around her and his soft breath humming in her ears, she fell asleep.
It was almost three in the afternoon when Sage woke up. Yawning, she stretched out her arms and felt a twinge of soreness between her legs, a sensation that was new to her. Remaining in place, she thought back to everything that happened last night and a slow blush heated her cheeks. A part of her expected to feel regret, maybe even embarrassment about how uninhibited she’d acted with Aidan, but there was nothing of that sort. Instead, a smile formed across her face, growing wider when she noticed the note he had left beside her.
Hey babe, went to school. Didn’t want to wake you up. I’ll see you tonight.
School wasn’t something she had to worry about for the next three days, thanks to the suspension that was handed down to her as punishment. Reminded of the fight and the reason she had attacked Tish in the first place, Sage threw the blanket aside and slid off the bed, determined to scour every inch of this place to find if anything else was missing.
A short time later while still in the midst of searching she was interrupted by a knock on the door. A quick glance at the clock revealed it was close to six . Expecting Aidan, she practically ran to the door and swung it open only to find Theo waiting for her on the other side. From his crooked brows and anxious stance, it was obvious he was nervous. “Theo, what’s up?”
He gave her a small smile. “Just came to check up on you. See how you’re doing.”
“I’m fine. Thanks.”
“Do you mind if I come in? I need to talk to you about something.”
She stepped aside, and watched hesitantly as Theo entered her room. This was the first time her half-brother had come into this space, and it felt awkward and intrusive, so very different than whenever Aidan or even David were here.
Sticking his hands in his pocket, Theo turned to face her. “Can I ask you something?”
“What’s going on between you and Aidan?”
Stunned, she stood frozen in place. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Come on, I’m not an idiot. I saw Aidan sneaking out of here in the morning.”
Embarrassed, Sage averted her gaze from his.
“Look, I’m not trying to be an asshole. I know it hasn’t been easy for you here, but if Cat finds out you’re fucking around with her ex-boyfriend it’s only going to make things worse.”
Anger swept over Sage. Who the hell was he to lecture her on her behaviour when Cat had made her life a living hell ever since she moved in with them?
“Before we found out about you, my parents never fought, never argued… and that’s all they do now. I know it’s not your fault, I get that, but Cat… she sees you as the problem and messing with you makes her feel better.”
“Yeah well, I’m tired of being her punching bag.”
“I know. I don’t blame you. But it will get worse if Cat finds out about you guys. Are you sure you’re ready for that?”
Sage swallowed the lump in her throat.
“Or maybe that’s why you’re messing around with Aidan, to get back at Cat. Is that it?”
“No! That’s not what I’m doing.”
“I hope so, because he doesn’t deserve that.” Theo fixed his blue eyes on her, studying her intently. “I know he comes across like an asshole, and most of the time he is, but that doesn’t mean you can use him or treat him like shit.”
“I’m not the one hurting him.” She wondered if Theo would acknowledge the horrible truth they both knew about Aidan, but he didn’t.
“Good. Because Cat did, and I don’t want you doing the same to him.”
She didn’t know how to respond to that.
Theo’s gaze brimmed with concern when he spoke again. “Be careful.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Thanks.”
He left shortly after, leaving her alone to ponder his words.
It was almost midnight when Aidan turned up at her place with an apologetic smile and regretful eyes, crawling into bed beside her after she let him in.
“Sorry. I was going to come over earlier but I had soccer practice and my mom was nagging me to spend time with her,” he said, tucking his arm around her waist.
She scanned her hand along his back. “It’s okay.”
“I’ll talk to Cat tomorrow, tell her what’s going on.”
Her hand stilled. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Tension surged through him, which was never a good sign. “Why, you had your fun? You’re done with me now?”
Sitting up, she turned to glare at him. “Did I say that?”
“I’m not an idiot!”
“Then stop acting like one.”
Furious, he sat up alongside her. “Fine. Tell me why you don’t want me to say anything.”
“She and her friends are already making my life a living hell as it is. If they find out about us, it’s only going to get worse.”
“You think I’ll let them hurt you?”
“What are you going to do? Watch over me 24/7?”
“I can try.”
“That’s not what I want!” Spotting the frustration on his face, she realised fighting with Aidan wasn’t going to solve anything. She had to take a different approach. Taking a deep breath, she reached out to hold his hand. “I want to be with you, I do, but if others find out, it’ll fuck things up even more for me.”
“And you think keeping us a secret will solve that for you?” He raised his right eyebrow in disbelief. “Come on, you don’t really believe that.”
“Just do this for me, please?” she urged, squeezing his hand.
“I don’t know…”
A resigned sigh escaped his lips, his gaze finally softened. “Okay, I won’t say anything. For now.”
She offered him a relieved smile. “Thanks.”
“Stop talking already.” Gripping her shoulders, he pulled her closer and latched his mouth onto hers.
She didn’t know what the future held for them, but for now, they were here, together, and that’s all that mattered.
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.
A/N – Thank you to all those reading, especially those wonderful people who have taken the time to share their feedback. Whether it’s through comments here or via Facebook messages, I truly appreciate the wonderful support you guys have given me.