He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began.
I can't look at him on the drive home. If I look, I will never stop. So I stare out the front window, at my hands, into the mirrors, anywhere but at him.
I don't know what is happening. I have never felt such …
The thought makes me blush. I shouldn't blush. I am a mature woman. I can talk about these things.
It started when our eyes met in the station, and crept over me watching him tonight. I felt Nick's arm around me, the champagne bubbling in my throat, and all I wanted was … him.
I felt him undressing me with his gaze, though his eyes never left mine. It is if he can see past me, past my clothing, my makeup, my perfume, to my true self. Tension radiates out of him, not nervous so much as … intently withholding. He is restraining himself, through tremendous force. I am excited by it, terrified of it. I feel safe with him, but don't. It feels as if he could lose control any minute, and … I want him to.
I am on fire. I cannot stay here with him, or I will do something I will … regret? Is that even the right word? I would not regret it. I want it… and don't.
Thank God, I am home. The car pulls up in front of the house. I want to dash up the steps, to shut the door on him.
Or do I?
No, I am lying to myself. I want to invite him in. I want him to accept. I want him in my house, in my room, in…
Stop! Where is this coming from?
I hardly know what I am saying, but somehow I get out of that car. I want him to watch me walk away… and am full of fear that he is. I can feel his intense gaze on me as I climb the porch steps. My hand shakes as I retrieve the house key from under the flower pot. I unlock it and… hesitate. I look down at it in my hand.
Since Nick isn't here, I should take it inside. I should put it on the side table. He saw me take it out. He knows where I keep it. To be safe, I ought to bring it in with me.
But I don't want to be safe. I want him to know where it is.
I return it to the flower pot, as he lingers in his car on the curb.He is just making sure I am safe, that I get inside. There is no other motivation.
Oh, I doubt that. He is waiting for an invitation.
Use it. Unlock the door and come in.
I shed clothing as I walk through the house, leaving my coat and shoes behind. My mind flits to him following me inside, coming up the stairs…
Quit! Juliette, what is wrong with you?
I want to go to the window and look out, to see if he is gone … but I don't. I don't want to know, but … is it because I want him to be gone or because I want him to be there? The pressure of my thoughts is intense, erratic, but each one as I direct it outward returns to Renard. To the curve of his mouth, to the touch of his fingertips, to …
This must stop.
I remove my earrings and leave them on the dresser, unzipping my dress and slipping out of it. My movements are methodical, for I am forcing myself to not hope.
I need a shower. A very, very cold shower.
I reach for the hot instead. I step inside and drench myself in it, trying to push him from my thoughts.
But I don't succeed.
I should not be here, but I am.
The key is where she left it, under the flower pot. I stand holding it a moment on the porch, hesitant. I want to enter. I want to watch her. I want to…
No, I can't. I don't like this uncontrollable urge to…
I turn on my heel to leave, to walk away, but I can't. I fit the key in the lock and step inside, softly… knowing I should not be here, that she will not want me in her house.
Or will she?
I see it in her eyes as well, a curious yearning budding into obsession. She darted little looks at me all the way here in the car, keeping the conversation light, avoiding any intimacies, yet she looked away from me too much, avoiding my eye contact. I know the feeling. I spent most of the time staring at the road, when all I wanted to do was gaze at her.
Her house lies in shadows. I feel wrong, violating her privacy, but I can't stop. I cross the floor as lightly as a cat, my hand grazing the banister rail as I climb the stairs. I can hear movement upstairs, footsteps, and then a shower.
I hate this. I am intruding. I ought to leave. I need to leave.
So why can't I?
There is a sinister calm in entering her room, in noticing her dress on the floor and jewels on the bedside table.
Leave! Leave now!
No, stay… stay and look at her…
My loathsome feet carry me to the bathroom door and I peer around it. Her back is to me, all graceful curves, her fingers in her hair as she drenches her face in the water. I can see too much, and not enough.
I feel the animal inside me rise up, and take a step forward.
No! No, I won't! I can't! I must not!
Stepping back is torment and relief in one. I force myself to look away, to stop thinking about the little beads of water trickling down her spine, and direct my focus to the dresser… to the photograph of her and Nick.
Nick … a Grimm… her lover, a man who should be here in my place.
I hate looking at it, thinking that she belongs to someone else—but I pick it up, forcing myself to look, to remember my place, to remind myself that she is not mine. She would not want me … or would she?
No, I can't think like that!
The photograph breaks when I slam it down on the dresser, splitting the glass between them, fracturing across them. I feel myself start to morph as the beast emerges and force myself to stagger out and down the stairs, every step burning like fire in my skull.
I must leave, now, before anything happens. Before we tempt fate too much. Before she sees me … because I don't know what she would do. I don't know what I would want her to do.
I want her to scream and throw me out, but I suspect she won't. I think the towel would drop and then it would be too late.
So I get in my car, and drive away.
Steam clouds the air as I step out into the cold house. I wrap a towel around me and peer into the bedroom, my heart thundering in my chest.
Is he here? Did he come up the stairs?
The thoughts repulse me, and I tighten my hold on my towel as I step out into the bedroom. My things are still on the floor. He is not here. Emotion washes over me, at his absence.
Oh, thank God, he isn't here.
I wanted him here.
No, I didn't.
Yes, I did.
I shudder and grind my teeth. He doesn't want me. I read too much into his eyes.
Yet … the photograph is broken. It wasn't before. I glanced at it.
I reach out to touch it, to trace my fingers across the split over Nick and my face, and a rush of cold sweeps over me.
He did come up the stairs. Did he see me? Did he look? Do I want him to have seen me?
Yes, I want him to have watched me, to have gazed at me, to feel desire for me, the same desire I feel for him.
I hate myself.
I'm glad he left.
Except … I'm not. What is wrong with me?
The street is empty. His car is gone. I breathe a sigh of relief. No, he was never here. He left, as he intended to.
I must know the truth.
My bare feet make a faint sound on the floorboards as I go downstairs. I open the front door and, glancing around to make sure no one is watching, tip up the flowerpot.
The key is gone. He did use it. He … has it.
Am I excited by that, or frightened? Will he use it? Do I want him to?
Why did he leave?
I don't know why, but thank God he did.