Phew, I'm glad that's over.
Exciting news! An agent emailed me and asked for some pages to review! Yay!!!!! I had to read the message twice, just to make sure. I even did a little dance. Woot!
Here's the next bit of Becca's story. I do think I'm going to take a break from this. I haven't been super motivated to write (thank you, Muffin) but when I am, I kind of don't want to deal with Becca's angst at present.
Thanks for reading!
I traded spots with Elsie mid-afternoon. As I munched the fries we had just bought at a drive-through, I realized sitting behind Kevin was worse than sitting next to him. He could look at me in the rear-view mirror without Elsie commenting on the fact that he was staring at me.
He wasn’t really. But every time my eyes strayed to the mirror, his would too, holding mine until I would blush and looked away.
It was a long day.
“Should we get a hotel?” Elsie asked as the sun set, pausing her witty, entertaining conversation. I felt a little better that Kevin mostly grunted in response, but he had laughed a few times.
He pulled off the freeway and wound through the gas stations to a chain hotel.
“Get us a room,” he told Elie, handing over a fold of bills. “I’ll get the bags.”
“Just one?” she asked.
He didn’t look over at her. “You want your own?”
She shot me a quick look. “No, one is fine. Two beds?”
“Not unless you and Becca want to share.”
She made a face even as I did. I smiled at her and she smiled back.
“Come on,” she said. The bored clerk checked us in and handed over three key-cards. As we passed the on-site restaurant, Elsie and I both breathed deeply and sighed.
“I’m starving,” she declared, jabbing the elevator button.
We stepped inside the small box. I pressed the button that read ‘5’ and we started up.
“So, have you known Kevin long?” She asked.
I cursed myself for being stupid enough to let her get me alone.
“No. Like a week.”
She hummed thoughtfully. “We used to date.”
I clenched my fists behind my back. “Yeah, he told me.”
“He’s a great guy, yeah?”
I could tell she was puzzled by my terse replies. No matter the thought of him made my heart tripped excitedly, I was still angry at him and he at me.
We arrived on our floor, saving me from any more questions. “This way,” Elsie directed. We went around a corner and found the correct room.
I flipped on the light as we entered. Two wide beds sat against the wall, a couch facing a television. I jumped as a heavy thump sounded from the balcony. Elise went to the sliding door and peeked out the curtains.
My pack sailed up and hit the cement. Then Kevin’s hands gripped the railing and he swung over the railing. He gathered up the packs and stepped through the glass.
“Here,” he said shortly, dumping my pack on the bed closest to him. “Either of you hungry?”
We both nodded. He dropped his backpack. It floated across the room and landed on the couch. I frowned at him as he snapped his fingers and one of the keys zipped from Elsie’s hand to his.
“Then let’s go.” He said. He walked to the door. It flew open before him and slammed shut after.
Elsie looked at me. “Okay, did I miss something?”
I stammered a little. “Uh, I don’t know.”
I grimaced. I had already apologized. I didn’t know what else I could say I was sorry about. “Come on,” I muttered. “Or he’ll frighten the waitress.”
We found him already seated in a booth peering at a menu. I was going to sit across from him with Elsie, but he looked up and stood. His glare told me I was going to sit next to him. I did, sliding into the tiny booth. He sat and opened his menu once more.
Our server came. She gave us the usual monologue about specials and drink menus. Kevin didn’t spare her a glance. I saw her look at him several times, frowning a little.
I looked as well as Elsie ordered. He was making no effort to hide what he was. I could feel the power in him. The air hummed with it.
I elbowed him discretely.
“What?” he muttered.
“You’re scaring her.”
Kevin glanced up. “So?”
“And for you?” the lady asked.
I ordered a hearty amount. I was starving, no matter I had done nothing all day but sit in a car.
We waited in silence until the food came. And we ate in silence. Even Elsie’s ability to make conversation failed her. She flicked looks between us, her eyes narrow.
“I’ve got to run to the bathroom,” she stated. I watched her walk away, nervous about being left alone with Kevin.
He didn’t say anything. His left hand, which had been on his thigh, moved to mine. It rested half way between my knee and my hip.
If Elsie noticed the slight change in our seating arrangement, she made no comment. Luckily, the booth was skinny enough our legs were completely under the table.
“Dessert?” the server asked.
“No.” Kevin said. He laid some money on the table. “Thanks.”
He stood and Elsie and I made haste to follow.
Back in the room, he tossed his key to his couch and went to the sliding glass door. “Why don’t you girls shower. Then we should get some sleep. I want to leave early.”
I exchanged a look with Elsie.
“You go first,” she offered.
I shrugged and gathered my things. After a quick wash and a blow-dry, I came out to find Elsie watching TV. Kevin was outside on the balcony.
She grunted and went in. I heard the lock click. Again, why?
Sighing, I went to the back door. It was locked, too. Undoing the latch, I stepped out.
Kevin was leaning on the railing, his elbows braced on the wrought iron. I stood next to him, looking out over the freeway. The lights of the cars made ribbons of white and red, the occasional yellow flare as one signaled.
“I can’t imagine everything dying,” Kevin said slowly. “All that life and energy.”
I nodded. “I know.”
“It’s not your fault, Becca. You didn’t do anything to cause it.”
But he had. He was holding it back. But still it made no sense. My life was not worth the world. To me, at least. What was I worth to him?
The fear that was always licking at me rose up. Malcolm had said will was everything. What could a man like Kevin do? One of the strongest in the nation, maybe the world, if he felt he had to? Could he really end the world?
“If we fail-”
“But if we do,” I persisted. “If we try everything and can’t find a way to stop it. If there is no other option, will you let me die?”
I let him think in silence. Finally he sighed. He straightened and held his hand out. I took it.
“Yes.” He said.
“Thank you, Kevin.”
“I will hate myself, but I will let you die. No one is worth the world. Not even you.”
I leaned into him, resting my head on his shoulder. It felt nice, pushing back my fear and uncertainty. My parents had stood like this a lot. His arm was strong around my waist.
I couldn’t help but feel awkward, even as I relaxed into the embrace. It was a new sensation, knowing I was in a relationship, of whatever sort this turned out to be. I felt there should have been something more declarative. A voice of thunder. Something on the evening news. Top story this evening, cursed Rebecca Beckons and Kevin Walowitz kissed and are now sort-of dating until such time that she dies or the world ends. In other news, his gorgeous ex-girlfriend is traveling with them. More after the weather.
His arm tightened. Before I could resist, he pulled me out of the beam of light shining through the glass. The world whirled and I found myself against the wall, Kevin’s arms around me.
“What if she comes out?” I asked in a trembling voice.
“What if she does?” Kevin said gruffly.
“Shut up, Becca.”
I did. Mostly because he kissed me and I forgot what I had been going to say.
He groaned and I shivered joyously. A giddy laugh bubbled up.
“Why are you smiling?” he asked, lifting his head. I giggled a little and he groaned again, dropping his head to rest on my shoulder. His hair was soft between my fingers. “We should have gotten two rooms.”
My happiness slammed flat. I pushed him back, my heart lurching. “Now, hold on a minute!”
I could see the shape of his face, but not his expression. His eyes gleamed in the darkness. “What’s wrong?”
I could not make myself say it. I stammered incoherently until he figured it out.
“Oh. Oh.” He stepped back. “No, I meant - no, Becca, please, wait.”
I had turned to go back in the hotel room, hot from my hair to my toes. I flinched as his hand touched my arm. “I meant for me.”
“For you?” I repeated dumbly. He drew me gently back into the shadows.
“For me,” he said firmly. “I…well, I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much tonight.”
I was still flushing, waves of heat rushing over me. Kissing was one thing, even the way he had been kissing me. But anything else…
His hands were on my face, touching my cheeks, the corner of my mouth. “I meant what I said, Becca. It’s been all I can do to keep my hands off you. But,” He added as I stiffened. “But, I’m not about to ruin this. I’ve never felt like this before. Not with anyone.”
“Anyone?” I asked timidly, meaning Elsie and her dazzling features and sparkling violet eyes. Who had purple eyes? It was absurd and unfair.
I shook my head.
He sighed and I thought it might be with relief. “Look, I know declarations are pointless until this curse is gone, but honestly and truly? I think I’m in love with you.”
I had heard that those sevens words usually brought a budding relationship crashing down around its foundations. As it was, my lungs froze up, no matter Malcolm had told me and Kevin had said it himself this morning as we fought.
“You do?” I squeaked.
He laughed in a self-deprecating sort of way. “I think so. I don’t know. Sorry.”
“Why are you sorry?”
“I don’t know that either. I don’t know what to do.” He sounded tired. “Go inside. Before Elsie comes out.”
That was clearly snide. I took a breath to snap back. He turned away and I could see the tilt of his head, the listless slump to his shoulders.
He was tired. And worried. And terrified I would be dead soon and he would have to stand and watch helplessly.
“Kevin, please,” I begged.
“What?” He had turned gruff again. He was pushing me away.
“How come every time we kiss, we end up fighting?”
“You tell me,” he snarled.
“You bet I will,” I bit out. “You are an arrogant, jealous, pig-headed ass! That’s why!”
“Becca,” Kevin said sternly, his gleaming eyes on mine.
I sneered. “That doesn’t work anymore, Kevin. I’m magic, too, remember?”
I whirled away and wrenched the door open. I slammed it behind me so hard to rocked in its track. I stood glaring at the hotel room.
The bathroom door cracked open and Elsie’s towel wrapped head peered out.
“Are you okay?” she asked timidly.
I barked at her. “Fine!”
She retreated, shutting the door softly. Kevin’s hands closed around my arms and jerked me through the glass.
He held me still, my back pressed into his chest.
“I like to fight with you,” he said unexpectedly. “I broke it off with Elsie because she never stopped trying to make me happy. She’s nice enough, but I don’t want to be worshiped. I’m the strongest practitioner in a hundred years. Why do you think I went to CMR? I wanted to get away from them, get some space and do what I wanted without a bunch of pandering fools simpering at my heels.”
“You’re not helping your case as a arrogant jerk,” I commented.
His laugh rumbling along my spine. “I am an arrogant jerk. And you’re the first person who’s ever told me to my face.” He planted a solid kiss on the side of my neck. It was all I could do not to melt into a puddle of quivering goo at his feet. “Go.”
I obeyed. He stayed outside. I went straight to my bed and slid under the blankets. Elsie came out a few minutes later. I looked at the flashing TV screen as if my life depended on it.
“Where’s Kevin?” she asked, brushing out her hair.
I shrugged, turning away and closing my eyes. I listened to her get into bed as well. The glow of the TV died and the light went out.
“Night,” I returned.
I had watched the red numerals on the clock count off an hour before I felt a shiver of air. Kevin had stepped back into the room. The curtains made a hissing noise as they slid shut.
I lay still, wondering what he would do. Elsie was sleeping; I knew her soft snores well enough, now.
He went to the couch and stretched out, his feet up on the armrest.
“Sleep well, Becca.” He whispered.
He shifted, the springs of the couch complaining. “I’m here if you need anything, alright?”
“And I’m more than willing to…comfort you, should you have a nightmare.”
I blushed. “Oh, shut up.”