Cos I'm slipping away
Like the sand to the tide
Flowing into your arms
Falling into your eyes
If you get too near
I might disappear
I might lose my mind
-Too Lost In You
Aiden Michaels and Ava-Marie Lockewood lay strewn together in a gilded fortress of their making. Their beautiful brown skin tones glistened with sweat from their love, shimmering beneath the sunlight like they were carved from zircon and smoky quartz, their breaths soft and deep, calm -their insatiable hunger for one another temporarily satiated. For a few minutes everything was still, suspended in time; Ava with Aiden's large frame nestled against her, his head on her stomach, eyes shut, breathing in her scent of spiced honey while she ran her fingers through his glossy black curls.
For a few minutes he allowed them to be this.
He allowed them to be perfect.
Aiden opened his eyes and looked up at her. She was starting to drift off, nipping at her blushing lips, eyes twinkling and almost smiling. He rose swiftly out of the bed, the moment of clarification of what happened between them swooping down on him with frightening speed.
He'd taken Ava's virginity.
He hadn't expected making love to her to be like that; so feral and inundated with need. He'd expected her to rediscover her meekness and force him to take his time with her, but instead she'd opened up and blossomed for him right in front of his eyes, being exactly what he wanted without being told. It solidified his thoughts of fancy -there was something special about this girl -and that incessant tugging, the invisible thread strung between their souls that kept them returning to each other with such heightened passion, was more than just in his head. She had to have felt it too. After what they did, how effortlessly she'd climaxed like a storm every time he willed it, there was no way he was in this on his own. This was more than just physical.
He looked down at her long, modelesque figure lying amidst the white crumpled Egyptian cotton sheets that swooped and piqued around her like a castle in the sky, housing his new princess of the underworld, and a flash of heat burst inside of him. He'd just had her and already he wanted her again. He wasn't sure if this was a good or bad thing. History pointed to the latter.
He shook the thought away and picked up his belt.
The familiar clinking stirred Ava's soon to be sleeping frame. She groaned and unfurled herself lazily like a pampered pussy cat. When her eyes found his her content expression became one of uncertainty. The once blurred line had definitely been crossed but now she was unsure of which side they stood on because Aiden's walls were back up, his eyes guarded and his face unreadable. After having him wide open it was an awkward situation for Ava to deal with. Yes, she knew he was as mercurial as they came, but surely this new territory came with new privileges, him being a little less complex being one of them.
Forcing her exhaustion aside, she sat up. "You're leaving?" Her voice came out higher than she wanted it too. She wanted to be cool and aloof, comfortable in her new found sexuality but it was hard to do that when her lover looked like he wanted to run a mile.
Aiden tugged on his jeans, "I have things to do, Ava-Marie." He grabbed his top from the ground and flung it over his shoulder with his belt.
Ava scuttled forward as he made a bee line for the door, "Aiden..."
He paused with his hand on the handle and looked back over his shoulder at her, frowning at her needy expression, "Yes?"
She retreated back into the cloudy peaks of the rumpled bedsheets and knotted her fingers together, "Can you stay with me for a little longer...please?" she asked into her chest, embarrassed to have to ask that of him when it was clear that he didn't want to. His sudden coldness made her feel awkward and unwanted, and although she knew it wasn't true, it didn't make the feeling lessen.
"No. I told you, I have things to do."
Ava's expression tightened along with a pang in her chest. "Can't it wait?"
He would love nothing more than to lay and waste the day away with her curled up next to him, but they'd been found, so his time was not his own. Contrary to hurting her feelings, Aiden did have things to do. Soon he'd have to take his life off of pause and pick up where he left off –at the centre of a mob war with a dead ex-girlfriend, brother and his brother's baby mother looming over his head, along with his recently orphaned 8-month-old nephew, Jamie. Aiden had to get his head back in the game and be ready for anything, especially where Ava was concerned.
"No." He swept out of the room and closed the door behind him.
The click of the door closing was like a switch, making Ava feel his absence and shutting their 'perfect moment' off completely. Like a tidal wave, shame and regret came crashing down on top of her, washing away the rosy haze and making her confront what she'd done head on.
She had slept with the enemy and it had been wonderful, intoxicating, liberating, this glittering madness that seemed like it could be a habit hard to break, but no matter how she dressed it up, she'd betrayed herself.
She'd betrayed her father.
The air was thick, her chest tight and the white walls reminded her of being shut away in an insane asylum, and they were closing in. Now stiff and uncomfortable in the bed they'd discovered each other in, suddenly Ava wasn't so hung up on Aiden sticking around anymore.
The residue of the sparkly languid feeling she basked in moments ago made her feel dirty and on edge -she wanted him off of her skin. She wrapped herself in the sheets and stormed out of the bedroom and into the bathroom.
She spun the tap and stepped into the bathtub under the stream of hot water from the detachable showerhead posted above it. It made her burns burn, but there was some sort of twisted relief in the feeling. She was punishing herself, convincing herself that she deserved to be uncomfortable in her sinful skin, but no matter how much she lathered up and vigorously scrubbed herself she couldn't remove the feel of him. Aiden had seeped into her pores, into her being, and he'd gone too deep to be eradicated. Even as she went through the motions of cleaning each area, the feeling of Aiden's sex imprinted in her own was ever present, ever reminding her and ridiculing her for what she'd done. She sniffed as angry tears poured from her eyes and into to her mouth, wetting her gritted teeth. She slammed the heel of her palm against the tiled wall and growled. It was frustrating to be here, to be with him. Her emotions were like a yoyo, up one minute, down the next, everything so heightened that at that moment it was exhausting to just be her. What she wouldn't give for the simple familiarity of being back at Excelsior with her friends, in the operating theatre tending to the injuries and ailments of the animals from the local shelter, attending protests with Max at her back making sure she didn't get too carried away, preparing vegan meals in the dorm kitchen and arguing with her flatmates about whose turn it was to empty the bin, watching re-runs of Friends...she missed just being a normal student, ignorant to the lure of the underworld and it's vices. She was useless here; an unarmed pawn being shipped from pillar to post with no say in her life and with no foreseeable good to come from it, her happiness fleeting and attached to the one thing that made her the saddest...
She slammed her whole palm against the tiles, "Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid!"
She got out of the shower and returned to her assigned bedroom and opened the closet. Everything was black. Black bottoms, tops, dresses, shoes, you name it, it was black. She looked to her white tank top and light denim jeans stained with blood and soot, crumpled in a pile in the corner, and wished they weren't in such a desolate state so she could wear them. All of this black was more than just clothing. They had a weight to them; another step in the wrong direction. It was conformity. It was the Diamond Mafia colour and if she wore it what would it mean for her? That she had given in and crossed over to the dark side?
'No, of course not', she thought to herself. After all, it was just clothes and it wasn't like she had anything else to wear.
She yanked a t-shirt and a pair of ripped skinny jeans from the hanger and threw them onto the bed. She moved to the chest of drawers next and what she found was copious amounts of underwear made from silks, satin and lace, some plain, some with indulgent detailing. There were corsets, garter belts, suspenders, nothing Ava would have picked out for herself –all in black. It was all so sexual; generally a contrast to the clothes Aiden filled the closet with. The clothes in the closet were more practical, the underwear was like Victoria's dirty little secret beneath it all.
'When did he have time to get these?' she wondered.
She pulled out the plainest set she could find; a balcony bra that fastened in the front with a tiny diamond clasp and a thong. She lotioned up and slipped into the set just as the doorbell rang.
The last visitor Aiden had, and to her knowledge, the only other person who knew where they were, was Dougie. After encountering him yesterday she was in no rush to see him again. She scrambled over to the bed and reached for the jeans and t-shirt, needing to be ready in case she had to make a run for it. She slipped the t-shirt on but the jeans took a little more effort. She tugged and tugged, trying to pull them over the slight swell of her hips when the door opened.
It was Aiden. Alone.
Her heartbeat slowed.
"These jeans don't fit," she scowled.
He raised his eyebrow at her tone, "I can see that."
Ava stopped tugging and huffed irritably, letting her arms go slack at her side, "You bought me the wrong size."
Aiden frowned deeper than Ava thought the situation called for, "They weren't..." he trailed off and avoided her glare. "Try the leggings."
She gave him a quizzical look. It sounded like there should have been more to the sentence, an explanation of sorts, but he didn't say anymore. She was tempted to ask, but her rekindled distaste for him told her not to care, that it didn't matter. She stomped back over to the wardrobe, cutting her eye at him as she crossed the room.
However, there was one question she could not afford to pass up, "Who was at the door?"
That was far too vague for Ava's liking. "Dougie?"
"Good." She kicked off the too tight jeans and pulled out a pair of leggings.
Suddenly his hands were on her waist, his body pressed against her back and his breath on her neck. "You're mad at me again," he said softly, his stoic iciness melted as quickly as it had formed, "Why?"
She shrugged him off, "When am I not mad at you?"
"You weren't mad at me this morning," he said in that low attractive voice, making her reminisce about how lovely it had been before she was tragically brought back down to earth. Her tummy fluttered, highlighting the feeling of his imprint inside her.
"I was under the influence."
"I didn't drug you, Ava-Marie," he said coolly.
She turned to face him and his eyes, usually orbs of seamless gleaming ebony, had separated in the stream sunlight that caught them through the window, revealing the smooth dark brown ring that encased his pupil. The new dimension stunned her, "You don't need to..." she said quietly, her mesmerisation blunting the sharp edges of her tone. Aiden was the drug.
He offered a prelude to a smile and tucked her braids behind her ear, "Is that the only way I can make you happy?"
"You can't make me happy. You can only ever distract me." It sounded dramatic and very 'woe is me', but it was the truth. There was no one moment that she could pin point during her time with Aiden where she was genuinely happy through and through, which was why she hated the idea of being stuck with him.
She could never really be happy with him.
Aiden's eyes flickered between solid black and liquid brown as the curtains fluttered between the stream of sunbeams, seeming to glow as he stared at her. Although he'd heard her words, he found it hard to take them in when she was standing there in only a t-shirt and lingerie. He pulled the leggings from her hands, "Would you like to be distracted right now?"
"No." She made a grab for the leggings.
He moved it away, "Didn't you like it?"
"Yeah, I did...that's the problem!" she confessed haughtily. "It was great up until you got up and left and I remembered how fucked up this_"
Aiden pressed his mouth to hers, kissing her with the lightness of a feather, making her words get lost somewhere between her waning protests and the gentle flick of their tongues.
It was that easy, like a positive to a negative, like their bones were made of magnets, attracting them to each other. They came together and everything was perfect again. As much as Ava wanted to refute what was happening between them, and with good reason, it was this factor that constantly threw her off. Her mind switched off when Aiden wanted her. All she could do was feel him and enjoy him, each moment binding them together so faultlessly that it felt like to tear away from him would mean leaving vital pieces of herself behind.
That wasn't a good thing.
Ava groaned regrettably and pulled away, fighting against her body's natural instinct to entwine herself around him like honeysuckle, leaving her with a hollow ache. The feeling could be compared to picking up your cup when thirsty and tipping the liquid into you parched mouth, only to find that there was only a trickle of your drink left. It wasn't enough. She wanted more of him; her sweetest poison, tailor-made to pull her beyond the realms of safety and righteousness and spark to life the curious dark thing within her that she wasn't ready to claim ownership of.
But she would claim it soon enough; Aiden would make sure of it. The fact that she bowed so willingly to him every time he used his powers of persuasion was evidence that he was right for saving her. She was the girl for him. She just didn't know it yet.
"Stop it," she snapped, staring at his mouth, "I'm mad at you."
"You're always mad at me, Ava-Marie." He pulled her back in, kissing her again with more fervour. Just as it was difficult for Ava to keep herself from him, it was harder for Aiden to keep himself from her. One, because he had no qualms about her, Ava was good, and two, that tugging she felt, he felt it too. When she said 'stop', even as firmly as she did, there was still that dreamy sigh laced in her undertone.
This time Ava melted against him as her body naturally willed her too, mouth ravishing, hands clutching, legs quivering. How magical it was to have someone do that to her -to turn her into a mess of heightened nerves and short breaths.
Aiden lifted her into the air, walked her over to the bed and sat down with her in his lap. She waited for his hands to wander, for him to touch her in places only he had seen, but he didn't, he just kissed her, and held her, and undid her, running his hands up and down her back, unravelling the knots of tension until she was back to her almost happy place.
He stopped, withdrawing his mouth and resting his forehead against hers. "Have you decided on a name yet?"
Ava moved from his lap and glared down at him. It was like nothing she said to him registered with him unless it was what he wanted too. "I don't want to pick a new name. I like my name."
Aiden sighed and rolled his eyes. Softening her up with kisses hadn't worked. "Fine, I'll pick for you." He stood up and regarded her; her singed cinnamon skin, wild autumnal eyes and dishevelled hair. She certainly didn't look like the primped and preened Ava-Marie Lockewood that had come to him initially. She looked a little broken. Angry.
The longer he stared at her the more he saw it; Ava looked less like herself and more like a reminder. The exterior was more exotic, her skin favoured the sun more than the moon, her eyes more like the land than the sea, and her mouth was the shade of love rather than lust, but her spirit was one and the same.
Despite her annoyance Ava leant forward. It wasn't her own doing; it was that thing, that tugging in her chest and the pull of Aiden's stare. He'd looked at her before, like really looked at her, but this...this was something else. He was looking at her in a new way but with old eyes. That was the best way she knew to describe it. They were open and there was history in them -but it wasn't their history. She wished it was. He was staring at her like she was the beginning and end of everything.
"Ashleigh?" He raised his hand to touch Ava's face.
She drew back, livid and to her surprise, jealous. "What did you just call me?"
She was about to lay into him when the bedroom door opened. Ava and Aiden sprung apart as a young girl around Ava's age with curly bleached blonde hair entered the room with a baby boy on her hip.
"You look like you've seen a ghost," the girl said eyeing Aiden carefully. She shifted her accusatory glance to Ava.
Aiden closed his eyes and curled his hand up into a fist. His arm trembled. It's not her. She's gone –Ashleigh is gone. "Trish, I told you to wait downstairs," he said once he was sure he could speak without his voice cracking and giving way to the confused emotions that tumble around in his chest.
Trish sat on the end of the bed watching Ava with dark amusement as she awkwardly scrambled to put the leggings on. "I've got work to do."
"It's just hair, it can wait. Ava-Marie, this is Trish and my nephew, Jamie." Trish slid Jamie off of her hip and into her lap. He too peeked curiously around at Ava.
Ava wondered if he looked like Keegan.
"Clearly you've never undone mircrobraids," Trish replied.
Ava stopped staring back at Jaimie and touched her hands to her overgrown braids.
Trish lifted Jamie out of her lap and held his wiggling body up in the air, "Take Jamie and go downstairs. He likes peekaboo, I mean really likes peekaboo so if you're gonna go down that route be prepared for aching arms. He also likes 'In The Night Garden'."
Aiden scooped Jamie up -the baby made him look ridiculously bigger. He tucked him effortlessly within the inner curve of his bulging arm with absolutely no indication that Jamie's weight, as small as he was, even registered to him. The baby squealed merrily and smiled gummily up at Aiden, bumping his tiny fat palms against his uncle's scruffy beard. Aiden smiled at him fondly and arched his brow, "The Night Garden? Really, J?"
"Leave him, he likes it," Trish snapped softly, coming to the child's defence.
Aiden lifted Jamie up to his face with a playful frown, "You don't like that mess do you?"
Jamie tugged at Aiden's beard and stuffed his fist in his mouth, chewing on his fingers and screwing his face up wondering why he could only taste his hand. "That's what I thought," Aiden nodded as if having his beard eaten by the baby was confirmation that Trish had simply been forcing him to like the senseless child friendly dribble that was Iggle Piggle and his friends. Jamie simply smiled and made another spitty grab for Aiden's beard.
"You should probably cut that," Trish said nodding at Aiden's shaggy exterior, "You look a little rough, Mr Michaels."
Bringing Jamie back down to his chest, Aiden looked at Ava who stood off to the side astonished and unsure, studying Aiden and this child. Aiden held tighter to Jamie and shifted his footing, "Trish is gonna do your hair. I'm downstairs if you need anything."
Left alone with Trish, Ava shifted backwards. She was a member of Aiden's team, which was evident from the all black attire, so why did he feel confident in leaving them alone together when all Trish probably saw was the enemy.
Trish stood up and swaggered over to Ava, scrutinising her as she went, "So you're what all the fuss is over." Ava was a beautiful girl, despite her damage, that much was clear, but Aiden was not one for being swayed by a pretty face, so what was so special about this girl? Upon her return to the compound, Dougie had filled Trish in (in clipped tones) on the infamous Lockewood girl who had Aiden all fucked up and was gonna get them all killed. Trish didn't' share the same hostility as her brother, but she was definitely wary. This was the Vince Lockewood's child, there were bound to be complications, but if Aiden Micheals himself had decided to save this girl then Trish saw no reason not to cut her a little slack. It wasn't every day that Aiden Michael's talked himself out of murdering a mark. That was unheard of. "I'm Trish," she stuck her hand out. Ava looked at it but didn't move. Trish frowned but nodded as if she understood, "I know you're feeling a little out of sorts. Adjusting is gonna take a while, but you're not going anywhere for now, so you might as well have a friend to help you through it." She sifted closer to Ava and touched her hair, "It's not as bad as you think it is, I promise."
"You have no idea how bad I think this is."
"You're right, I don't," Trish shrugged carelessly. She was trying to be nice but Ava had her walls up and was making it harder than it needed to be. She tried again, "I grew up on the block with everyone else. Lived next door to Aiden and Keegan..." she swallowed and shook the sadness away that came with the mention of Keegan's name, "Aiden is my brother's best friend."
Ava's eyes widened, "Dougie?"
Trish frowned at Ava's expression, "He said you two had officially met."
"He tried to kill me."
"Yeah, sorry about that. He can be a bit of an ass. They both can," she said gesturing toward the door Aiden had exited through, "But his heart was in the right place. He was just trying to protect Aiden."
"He hardly needs protecting from me."
"We'll see." Trish regarded her. Ava shook her head –the fact that these people thought she was a threat was preposterous. She wasn't one of the bad guys. Trish grabbed her bag from the ground and dumped it on the bed, "Well, let's get started."
"Your hair," she said pulling a fishtail comb and hairspray out of the bag. "Any look you want in particular?"
Ava though back to the way Aiden had looked at her before Trish came in, how he'd stared into her and uttered the name of his dead lover. It was silly to be envious of a dead girl but in that moment all Ava could think of was looking as different from her as she possibly could. The next time Aiden saw her he was going to see her only.
Aiden pulled his weary eyes away from the pile of papers with notes and the glare of the laptop screen to look over to the doorway. Jamie was asleep upstairs in his bed but the television was still on in the background with Nick Junior playing some senseless kiddie programmes. Outside the sun was setting, painting the sky the colour of an island romance, and faint rose coloured light filtered through the net curtains. He was mid-conversation, on the phone with his mother, his jaw tensed, looking like he was trying his best not to lose his temper whilst they finalised details for Keegan's funeral, when he stopped and his jaw slackened.
"Mum, I'll call you back." She was still running her mouth when he pressed the call end button but Aiden didn't care because of the vision that stood before him –Ava-Marie looking like the sweet dream to his beautiful nightmare, an otherworldly fantasy too mystifying for this time or even this world altogether.
Now Aiden was the one who couldn't remember how to breathe.
Trish bounced up and down on the balls of her feet with her hands clasped together, grinning at Aiden, revelling in his mesmerised expression of his...whatever Ava was to him. "Don't you just love it?" she cooed.
In contrast to Trish, Ava was silent, nervous and unsure. She'd seen the results of her new look and did indeed love it. It was so far from her usual style – so far from Ash – and it made hr stand out. That's why she'd done it really, so she could be spotted, and from the look on Aiden's face, people would definitely spot her. He hadn't looked away or even so much as blinked since she'd stepped into the room. He was staring at her in that way again -like she was the beginning and end of everything -but this time there was no history, only the present moment and something like hope. He was looking at her like she was where the future flourished.
Aiden stood up and put his hand out, beckoning her to him. She glanced nervously at Trish who gave her an encouraging nudge forward, and went to him. His hand went straight for her hair. "Subtle," he said taking a curly pink lock between his fingers. Her hair was the texture of cashmere, each fantastical strand following the wild, winding pattern of a tornado, her tight bouncy curls falling to her shoulders. He'd expected Ava's natural hair to be similar to the loose barrel curls that Trish had, but Ava's mother's genes definitely won out over her father's, giving Ava a soft, full, billowing afro of defined curls, now the colour of a candy coated valentine or even raspberry beret –in that moment he thought he loved her. Up against her cinnamon skin and those earthly eyes she almost looked inhuman, like a hybrid between a woman and twilight skies. She looked like she felt when he was inside of her, a physical expression of...
"Heaven." He nodded to himself with unwavering certainty and took her face in his hands. He ran his thumb across her lower lip, "Heaven Micheals."
So Aiden's getting ready to return to the hood with Ava...sorry HEAVEN in tow; what do you predict will happen upon their return?
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