Chapter 23 - It's the Start of the End

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Sleep wasn't very friendly that evening. The twilight was unwelcoming. There must have been an owl scowling on a streetlight somewhere in the heart of the city. Mia could only second-guess what the universe wanted her to believe.

It was around four o'clock in the morning when she realized that she was never going to fall asleep, and to her frustration as well. She planned on looking her best for her first day at work, but she knew that regardless of what she'd wear or smear on her face, the tiredness was never going to go away. She hoped that her new boss wouldn't notice.

Mia swung her legs over the cushion and hopped out of bed, letting the plush of the carpet tickle her toes. She yawned as she untangled the blanket from her thighs, and most of it fell to the floor, only a single corner spread across the armrest of the sofa. Rubbing her eyes, she exited the room quietly, careful not to shut the door on the way out.

Her stomach growled. It was ridiculous, considering how much she had eaten not too long ago, but she convinced herself that the refrigerator was summoning her. Literally, profusely yelping her name. There was nothing like the desire for food.

She settled for an apple and sat at the dining table adjacent to the living room. There were only six seats, two of which placed, respectively, at either end of the table. She chose the one furthest away, near the window.

Her shadow greeted her the moment she snaked into the plush of the upholstered parsons chair. It wasn't moonlight that shone through the panes, but the streetlights outside. Soon they would be out, replaced by the sun's rays at dawn. Had it been a different time, just another sleepless night, the current darkness would have frightened her. Not by much, but just enough for all the horror movies to finally get to her head.

After every bite came a crunch that registered in her ears as scraps of paper. She was never very good at meditating — emptying the mind — and that was evident in the way she spoke to herself. Internally, like a monologue. Of course, there was only one thing bothering her: Richard's rosy lips that had been a hairsbreadth away from her own.

She wondered what they would have tasted like. Wine, definitely, from the bottle they emptied. Maybe some cigarette smoke with a pinch of mint. Maybe vanilla, or maybe she was mistaking it for his cologne. A hint of citrus, but usually overpowered by a bit of leather. Familiar, welcoming.

We nearly kissed, she thought. It echoed in her head. Nearly. Almost. Another maybe. Perhaps. She could have produced a whole thesaurus if she wanted to, but one thing remained the same: She wasn't ready.

It wasn't just about recently getting out of a relationship. Rather, she wasn't ready to relive the feelings she used to have for Richard before. She didn't want to relapse. Mia knew that she had moved on since, but the memory still haunted her. Rejection. No matter her age, she still feared it. There was nothing she was more sure of than the possibility of falling into a complete hysteria, one that would lead to irrational thoughts and impulsive decisions. She didn't want to make the situation even more complicated.

Reaching the core of the red fruit, Mia let her thoughts subside into a thin bubble. Maybe he was just horny, she convinced herself. Maybe it was the alcohol, or maybe it was all just a joke.

But then he asked me why. "Why, Mi?"

Why what?

I thought I knew what he meant, but now I'm not as certain. Why can't we kiss, or why can't we be together instead?

No.

Mia shook her head.

We already dealt with that before.

Take Me Away | Richard Madden [Completed; Editing]Where stories live. Discover now