Sorry! I know it's been a while (*cough* 3 months *cough*) but I hope this chapter makes up for it! :)
A familiar voice awakens me, and I am met with two deep blue eyes staring intently back into mine.
I sit up fast – too fast – and my head spins. My bed's purple quilt shifts as I struggle to bring myself up to face Tod.
"Whoa! Easy there…" His arms are around me in an instant and, with great care, he helps me up.
"What happened?" I demand, hating how weak I must look. My mind is foggy from sleep and my head throbs painfully with each beat of my pulse.
Tod's eyes grow cold, his lips twisting into an icy scowl that might have once frightened me if it were aimed in my direction. "Too much Influence," he answers with contempt. "Nobody should ever be given that much at one time. Any bean sidhe in their right mind would know that."
Images from earlier tonight flash through my mind: Nash's friendly pretense. Tod's distrusting frown. My kiss with Nash.
Through all this however, the one memory that burns in my mind is the desperate expression worn by my ex-boyfriend as we fled, so lost, so full of sorrow. I frown. "That's the thing," I tell Tod. "Nash isn't in his right mind."
I close my eyes and all I can feel are Nash's cold lips pressing against mine, the burning influence manipulating my every thought to his will. I want to cry, but I know tears won't take back what he's done, so instead I let myself fall into Tod's safe embrace where no one can ever hurt me.
The scariest part of all that had happened wasn't the kiss, or even Nash's high-induced anger. No, what scared me most was how helpless I had been in his hands. Losing control - that's what frightens me more than anything.
I open my eyes as Tod gently brushes away a stray tear sliding down my cheek. Suddenly, it's all too much.
I break in his arms, my head pressed against his chest, unable to control my shaking body. He hugs me tighter and silently curses. "Damn it, Nash."
His voice is a whirlwind of emotion and I struggle to make out what exactly he's feeling; everything ranging from protective rage to dejected frustration crashes in his eyes, and I search them pleadingly, willing him to listen. "Tod. There has to be something we can do."
He shakes his head firmly. "No, Kaylee. You can't be near him. Not while he's like this." Our hands meet and Tod squeezes mine reassuringly in his. "He's my brother; it's my job to look out for him."
His voice is fiercely determined and I can't help but smile ever-so-slightly at this rare display of sentiment over Nash. It's obvious Tod cares a big deal for his brother - he did, after all, give his life for his - though he'd never admit it of his own will.
He sends a small smile back at me, his eyes giving way to the tiny spark of joy interrupting his otherwise darkening mood.
I want to see him grin, I think to myself. I want to make him laugh away all his worries, all my fears.
I want him to kiss me.
So many things I desire, yet even the tiniest gesture - his fingers reaching out to brush my hair out of my eyes - gives me goose-bumps I almost sigh at the warmth of his touch, at the gentle feel of his skin.
It's so bizarre; I've always assumed that being dead would mean the end of any real love, that this - us - wouldn't feel the same at all. And although the latter is true in a sense (things do feel very different) Tod is definite proof that not needing a heartbeat doesn't mean you can't find someone to help it beat for you.
I lean in and kiss him, surprising him for a moment, before he manages to kiss me back. He wraps his arms around my waist and brings me closer, his lips moving slowly against mine, savouring every second. This feels so different from our usual kisses, so gentle and precise, the others always driven by a wild sort of lust. I smile. His lips taste deliciously sweet and the purity of his hold on me is enthralling.
After what feels like a lifetime - yet nowhere near long enough - Tod pulls away slightly, his churning gaze never leaving mine. Our breathing is heavy, despite the slow pace of our kiss, and through what sounds almost like laughter he says, "Kaylee Cavanaugh, if this isn't love I don't know what is."
I raise an eyebrow in mock-disbelief. "Did you just say what I think you said? That you, Tod-the-big-bad-reaper, looove me?" Childish, I know, but it does receive the desired effect. Tod spouts a grin bigger than any I've ever seen, in life or death.
"Hmm, not those exact words, but... yes." His eyes burn a deep hue of blue, his expression sincere. "I love you more than anything in this world."
A warm ache spreads through my chest and suddenly I am consumed by an overwhelming urge to kiss the tough, sarcastic and hopelessly-romantic softie before me. So I do.
"I love you too," I whisper, as our lips meet once more.