This is how I wanted The Golden Lily to end. I by no means claim what was written in Richelle Mead's book, and I can't even claim the idea, because I'm sure almost everyone out there has had the same idea I have. I'm only putting it into words. You may want to read the last chapter of The Golden Lily, or you could get confused. Starts when they kiss and ends at… well, the end. Enjoy :)
"Don't dodge this. You know what I mean. You've known how to drive stick for years."
His silence answered for him, telling me I was right, even if his face was hard to read.
"Why?" I demanded. Now I was nearly pleading. Everyone said I was so exceptionally smart, I could string random things together and make remarkable conclusions. But this was beyond me, and I couldn't handle something that made so little sense. "Why would you do that? Why would you act like you didn't know how to drive?"
A million thoughts seemed to cross his mind, none of which he wanted to share. At last, he shook his head in exasperation. "Isn't it obvious, Sage? No, of course it isn't. I did it so I'd have a reason to be around you – one I knew you couldn't refuse."
I was more confused than ever. "But… why? Why would you want to do that?"
"Why?" he asked. "Because it was the closest I could get to doing this."
He reached out and pulled me to him, one hand on my waist and the other behind my neck. He tipped my head up and lowered his lips to mine. I closed my eyes and melted as my whole body was consumed in that kiss. I was nothing. I was everything. Chills ran over my skin, and fire burned inside me. His body pressed closer to mine, and I wrapped my arms around his neck. His lips were warmer and softer than anything I could've imagined, yet fierce and powerful at the same time. Mine responded hungrily, and I tightened my hold on him. His fingers slid down the back of my neck, tracing its shape, and every place they touched was electric.
But perhaps the best part of all was that I, Sydney Katherine sage, guilty of analyzing the world, stopped thinking.
And it was glorious.
At least, it was until I started thinking again.
My mind and all its worries and considerations suddenly took over. I pulled away from Adrian, despite my body's protests. I backed away from him, knowing my eyes were terrified and wide. "What… what are you doing?"
"I don't know," he said with a grin. He took a step toward me. "But I'm pretty sure you were doing it too."
"No. No. Don't get any closer! You can't do that again! Do you understand? We can't ever… we shouldn't have… oh my God. No. Never again. That was wrong." I put my fingers to my lips, as though I would wipe away what had just happened, but mostly I was reminded of the sweetness and heat of his mouth against mine. I promptly dropped my hand.
"Wrong? I don't know, Sage. Honestly, that was the most right thing that's happened to me in a while." Nonetheless, he kept his distance.
I shook my head frantically. "How can you say that? You know how it is! There's no… well, you know. Humans and vampires can't… no. there can't be anything between them. Between us."
"Well, there had to have been at one point," he said, attempting a reasonable tone. "Or there wouldn't be dhampirs today. Besides, what about the Keepers?"
"The Keepers?" I nearly laughed, but no part of this was funny. "The Keepers live in caves and wage campfire battles over possum stew. If you want to go live that life, you're more than welcome to. If you want to live in the civilized world with the rest of us, then do not touch me again. And what about Rose? Aren't you madly in love with her?"
Adrian looked way too calm for this situation. "Maybe I was once. But it's been… what, nearly three months? And honestly, I haven't thought much about her in a while. Yeah, I'm still hurt and feel kind of used, but... really, she's not the one I'm always thinking about anymore. I don't see her face when I go to sleep. I don't wonder about-"
"No!" I backed up even further. I don't want to hear this. I'm not going to listen to this anymore."
With a few swift steps, Adrian stood in front of me again. The wall was only a couple inches behind me, and I had nowhere to go. He made no threatening moves, but he did clasp my hands and hold them to his chest while leaning down to me.
"No, you will listen. For once, you're going to hear something that doesn't fit into your neat, compartmentalized world of order and logic and reason. Because this isn't reasonable. If you're terrified, believe me – this scares the hell out of me, too. You asked about Rose? I tried to be a better person for her – but it was to impress her, to get her to want me. But when I'm around you, I want to be better because… well, because it feels right. Because I want to. You make me want to become something greater than myself than myself. I want to excel. You inspire me in every act, every word, every glance. I look at you, and you're like… like light made into flesh. I said it on Halloween and meant every word: you are the most beautiful creature I have ever seen walking this earth. And you don't even know it. You have no clue how beautiful you are or how brightly you shine."
I knew I needed to break away, to jerk my hands from his. But I couldn't Not yet. "Adrian-"
"And I know, Sage," he continued, his eyes filled with fire. "I know how you guys feel about us. I'm not stupid, and believe me, I've tried to get you out of my head. But there isn't enough liquor or art or any other distraction in the world to do it. I had to stop going to Wolfe's because it was too hard being that close to you, even if it was all just pretend fighting. I couldn't stand the touching. It was agonizing because it meant something to me – and I knew it meant nothing to you. I kept telling myself to stay away altogether, and then I'd find excuses… like the car… anything to be around you again. Hayden was an asshole, but at least as long as you were involved with him, I had a reason to keep my distance."
Adrian was still holding my hands, his face eager and panicked and desperate as he spilled his heart before me. My own heart was beating uncontrollably and any number of emotions could have been to blame. He had that distracted, enraptured look… the one that he held when spirit seized him and made him ramble. I prayed that's what this was, some spirit-induced fit of insanity. It had to be. Right?
"His name is Brayden," I said at last. Slowly, I was able to quiet my anxiety and gain some control. "And even without him, you have a million reasons to keep your distance. You say you know how we feel. But do you? Do you really?" I pulled my hands from his and pointed at my cheek. "Do you know what the golden lily truly means? It's a promise, a vow to a lifestyle and a belief system. You can't throw something like that away. This won't let me, even if I wanted to. And truthfully, I don't want to! I believe in what we do."
Adrian regarded me levelly. He didn't try to take my hands again, but he didn't back away either. My hands felt painfully empty without his. "This 'lifestyle' and 'belief system' you're defending have used you and keep using you. They treat you like a piece of machine, one that's not allowed to think – and you're better than that."
"Some parts of the system are flawed," I admitted. "But the principles are sound, and I believe in them. There's a divide between humans and vampires – between you and me – that can never be breached. We're too different. We're not mean to be… like this. Like anything."
"None of us are meant to be or do anything," he said. "We decide what we're going to be. You told me once that there are no victims here, that we all have the power to choose what we want."
"Don't try to use my own words against me," I warned.
"Why?" he asked, a slight smile on his lips. "They were damned good ones. You're not a victim. You're not a captive to that lily. You can be what you want. You can choose what you want."
"You're right." I slipped away, finding no resistance from him at all. "And I don't choose you. That's what you're missing in all of this."
Adrian stilled. His smile dropped. "I don't believe you."
"Believe what you want, Adrian," I said quietly, turning my head so I didn't have to look him in the eye when I said the words. "I don't love you."
"But I can tell you are, Sydney." His voice was pleading and I knew that if I looked back at him, I would see the same thing in his eyes. "I can see it in your eyes."
"No, I'm not," I whispered stiffly. "I never have been."
"Then why are you crying?"
I hadn't even noticed the tears running down my face until I touched my cheek, the one with the tattoo on it. My fingers came away with salt water on their pads. I sniffled quietly and wiped them away as fast as I could, even if he'd already seen them. I felt his hand on my shoulder and I just knew that he was going to stop me from leaving, so I had to say something I knew I would regret.
"If you know me half as well as you claim to, Adrian, you'll understand why I have to go."
His hand dropped from my arm. "Sydney-"
"No." My voice was firm, but quiet. Worn out. "Good-bye, Adrian."
I had to take a deep breath as I walked toward the door, trying to hold the tears in until I got to Latte. If Adrian saw me break down while I was leaving, he wouldn't believe that I didn't love him.
Halfway to my car, I stopped walking, my lower lip quivering. My hands were balled into fists as my sides, the only way I could even begin to let out how I felt without saying anything. I started turning my head to look back at Adrian, whose eyes I felt following me out to the car. I stood in the grass for what seemed like forever. I couldn't tell if it had been three seconds or three hours, but eventually, I turned my head around and saw him, standing on the porch, leaning up against the door frame. I saw the sadness in his eyes, his heart on his sleeve.
And I couldn't walk away. Not even the few more steps it would've taken to make it to Latte. I just couldn't.
I snapped my head back around to face the road in front of me. This time, I felt the trail of tears leaking down my cheeks and I let out a quiet sob.
It went against everything I believed in to love a vampire. I'd been brought up believing that they were unnatural and that even though we 'helped' them, we shouldn't associate with them. I would be punished if I was accused of loving a vampire, a soulless monster that walked the night. I would probably never be allowed to return to my family. I may never get to say good-bye to my mother. I'd be fired and someone else would be sent to help protect Jill and none of them would be able to as well as I did.
But all of those beliefs washed away.
I tried to take another step, but I physically felt a pain in my heart. I sobbed again before turning around and running as fast as I could back to Adrian.
His eyes were wide and shocked – I only saw them for a split second – and I threw myself into his arms. He barely hesitated before wrapping his arms around me. I buried my face in the crook of his neck, which smelled like a mixture of spices and something sweet that I couldn't place. Tightening my grip around him, I tried to stop crying.
"You didn't leave," he gasped, holding me close. "Why didn't you leave?"
"Because they're wrong," I murmured into his neck. He knew who I was talking about. "About most things, I do believe they are right, but they're wrong about vampires being evil. They're wrong about you."
It must have been a good enough reason for him, because he crushed me against his body and walked backward into the house, kicking the door shut behind him. As soon as it was closed, he pushed me away only enough so that he could kiss me.
And what a kiss it was.