All Alex could make out at first was a halo of hair. Lee was looking down, fidgeting with a loose button, hair combed through with her fingers and allowed to cascade over her shoulders. The suit hugged her frame like a glove, dark enough to make her a shadow among shadows until she looked up and the blue of her eyes caught the light. It was like watching lightning strike in the heart of the storm, illuminating Alex to the depths of her soul.
"Lee...you..." How did she speak again? What were words? Lee stayed. She chose to give her one last chance. "You look wonderful."
Should I even ask how you got this to fit so well? she asked, holding out her arms to admire the snug fabric.
Alex blushed, a nervous laugh bubbling into her throat. She felt like an electrical fire, warmth and current coursing through her veins. For the first time in weeks, she could adequately exhale. "I might have nabbed a hoodie of yours a little while back."
Is that where my maroon hoodie went?
"Sorry," Alex winced. "I was going to return it when...umm, everything happened."
Well, at least it went to good use. I gotta tell you. She did a tight spin and struck a model's pose. Nothing this fine has ever touched my skin, and I have no idea how you got my pants size...
"Lucky guess," she coughed, unwilling to commit to the admission of snooping while in Lee's room before this whole thing blew up in their faces. And just like that, the conversation dried up. One surprising act of kindness wasn't enough. They weren't mended, not by a long shot. Lee may have chosen to stay, but a month's worth of hurt still lingered like a raw wound.
"I'd like to talk about...that night," Alex hedged, tucking a stray strand of hair behind her ear. "I can make all the excuses in the world, and I was prepared to, but you don't deserve that. You deserve the truth no matter how hard it is for me to say. I made a mistake. I led you on. We should have talked a long time ago about what was happening between us, but I was scared. I'm still scared. And I don't know where to go from here. Where do we go, if we go at all?"
Where do you want us to go? Lee asked, unable to fully meet Alex's eyes.
"I'd like to start over, if we could? Not from the beginning. I'd rather not relive a stabbing. But maybe from that kiss in the tunnels the night you met Georgia?"
Lee turned in profile, and it wasn't hard for Alex to guess what she was thinking. They had both run roughshod through this whole fiasco and look where it got them. Broken hearts and bruised egos. And Alex knew she was the one to blame.
I can't make that decision right now. I'm still angry. I don't really know where up is from down. Alex's entire being fell, but she breathed through the sting and kept herself receptive. So give me till the end of the night. I owe you that much. Show me why you went through the trouble of making this suit.
It was something. It wasn't what she wanted, but it was something. Alex nodded, hugging her middle in an effort to keep from pulling Lee into her arms. "I can respect that."
Then lead the way, Miss Bailey, she said, securing her bone-white mask in place. Unsurprisingly, it fit just as snugly as the suit did.
"Have you ever been inside the Manhattan Center?" Alex lifted and settled her own mask: a black lacework concoction that resembled an owl or perhaps something more fae.
YOU ARE READING
Journalist Alexandra Bailey never believed she'd become another tragic statistic ripe for the front pages. Abducted off the street. Beaten bloody. Left for dead in the unforgiving winter. The article wrote itself. And her crime? Not even she knew, b...