Author's note: Hope you enjoy! If you want to read the next chapter just post me a comment and I will. ^_^
Matchmaker's Mansion: Ch. 24The tears were blinding, making everything she saw turn into blobs of color in her vision. But she knew Matchmaker’s Mansion by heart, and when she felt the face of the angel statue that guarded the boy’s hall, she knew she was going in the right direction.
Her fingers trailed along the cold brick walls of the hallway, pausing when she felt wood. Her shivering grasp found the metal doorknob. She wrenched the door open, and felt herself stumble blindly in, the tips of her sneakers
Her eyes lifted to see the dark shape of one of the boys. She let out a sob and reached out for him. Arms wrapped tight around his warm body, she let all of her tears go.
Looking down at her with wide eyes, Shay gulped down his nervousness. He was standing stick straight with his hands raised in the air, like he was being arrested. His eyes glanced down as he gulped in a breathe of air, her arms squeezing him tighter. He slowly lowered his hands in hesitating movements to pat her back methodically. Her tears were creating a huge wet spot on his shirt, but he found that he didn’t mind too much. When her sobs grew louder, he wound his arms tight around her, one hand cradling the back of her head. It sounded as though someone were pulling her heart out, with the way she was crying.
When Asha finally stepped back from him slightly, her hands gripping the loose fabric of his shirt, her eyes lifted shyly to meet his. He was looking down at her with questions in his grey eyes, but his mouth never opened to ask them. Instead, he unwound one of his arms from around her to catch a tear that was falling down her cheek.
With the tear on the edge of his pointer finger, like a perfect dewdrop, he casually lifted his finger to his lips.
“Your tears taste like the ocean,” he said with innocent wonder.
Asha let out a little laugh that cracked, but her smile still stayed on her face. “You’re so weird. But…you’ve never tasted tears before?”
Shay lowered his finger as he said, “I’ve never cried.”
Asha’s eyes widened, “I don’t believe you.” But Shay’s face stayed serious.
Asha sighed, “Well, I have plenty to spare,” At that, Shay smiled.
“Well, well, well—“ Ever leaned against the open doorway. “You two are getting cozy.”
Shay looked up from watching Asha’s peaceful face as it rested on his lap. He made no move to comment.
Once Ever was comfortably situated beside him on the couch, Shay said, “She’s hurting. A lot.”
“Chase took care of her scummy ex-boyfriend for the moment, so I can’t tell you what else could’ve harmed her,” Ever said, and picked up his guitar that had been leaning against the couch.
Shay gazed down at Asha’s sleeping figure as he said, “Why won’t Chase see her? It’s like he’s just handed her over to me.”
Ever played a harsh note on in his guitar. Shay glanced over at him with a quirked eyebrow. “You are so contradictory it’s almost sickening. First you tell Chase to stay away from Asha because he’s hurting her, but now you’re doing exactly what you told Chase not to do. And you’re asking why?”
“How else can I protect her? She keeps coming back.”
“Don’t worry about that,” Ever said as he got up. He looked over his shoulder at Shay, “Chase has been protecting her in the areas that you haven’t. And I must admit that Chase is doing a much better job than you.”
Ever strolled away as he strummed his guitar, Shay’s eyes piercing holes in his broad shoulders.
Asha wrote down the order quickly, scratching down grilled cheese and hot dogs, but she wasn’t focused at all. Her eyes slid to the side. Her scalp tingled, like it always did when she knew someone was watching.
“I’ll be right back with your drinks,” she smiled at her customers. She swiveled on her black high heels and caught the jerky movement of someone lifting their menu. As she passed by the table, she noticed blonde hair peeking out from under his cap, but the menu obscured her view of his face.
When she returned with the drinks, he was gone.
Ever glanced over at Asha and noticed how her shoulders slumped.
“Are you cold?”
Her head jerked up to look up at him as if she had just been woken up. With a haze over them, her eyes focused on him.
“You make me feel so underdressed,” she said, not answering his question. He looked himself over- his suit, tie, and dress shoes. Honestly, it wasn’t that he dressed up, but that it was the clothes he was most comfortable in.
“You have no reason to feel bad. This is a very relaxed date. No fancy parlors.” He smiled, and she returned it in a weaker form.
As they continued to walk, he felt like draping an arm around her shoulders to ward off cold, but he didn’t. She was too distant, and he felt like if he touched her that she would flinch. So he opted to strolling along beside her, brushing shoulders often to make sure she was still awake.
At one point, Ever lifted his eyes to spot their destination. A wheel of lights lit the sky, turning slowly.
“There it is,” he whispered.
He looked over at Asha’s curious expression. “There’s our first activity,” he pointed at the ferris wheel. Her eyes lit up a little as she looked it over and then turned to smile at her.
Minutes later they sat in a booth, slowly rising higher into the night sky. It gently rocked them, the voices of the crowd below drifting away. Their only companions were the stars in the sky.
Glancing over at her and her starlit eyes, he felt his heart warm a little. He felt like asking her what had been going on recently, wanted to know why she had been crying a few days before. But instead, he just quietly took a loose end of her red scarf and draped it around her bare neck. Her lips parted as he bent forward to do so, but he resisted the urge to brush them with his own.
He sank back into the cushioned seat with a sigh. “I’ve always noticed something about life.” He paused and was about to look over at her, but stared straight ahead. “It’s just like a ferris wheel. When you get to the highest peak in your life, something always happens to bring it back down again. The good thing is that it never stays down. Eventually it rises. It’s not about circumstances that cause it to rise, but rather it’s the attitude in which you look at it and the choices you make.”
When he did look over, he saw that it wasn’t stars shining in her eyes, but tears. And that’s when he decided it was right to pull her close and keep a steady arm around her shoulders.
“Wow, I haven’t been on one of those in forever!” Asha pointed at the horses turning round and round with little kids screaming on them.
“Alright, let’s do it,” Ever headed towards the carousel. They boarded the ride, taking two golden horses beside each other. Ever’s knees touched the ground whenever the horse would dip down and Asha would laugh hard.
Ever laughed with Asha, thankful her tears were gone and the lights illuminated a joyful face. But just as he was filled with relief, he felt his heart constrict.
The lights transformed and flashed at him. Colors blurred together and a new image was born before his eyes. Pure green eyes stared at him in the golden glow of a sunset. Ella’s face shone pure white as she rode beside him on her black steed. The colors smashed together and he suddenly found himself staring down at her broken body. His hands were cradling her head, feeling for her pulse, knowing that she wasn’t alive. Her horse lay a few yards away, struggling to rise on its broken foreleg.
Ever drank in a breath of night air, his eyes snapping open.
“Ever? Ever! Are you alright?” He felt Asha’s hands on his face. His hands clutched the pole in front of him, the horse motionless beneath him. A feverish chill crawled over his body.
He groaned. “Let’s get off now.”
“Alright, alright…” Asha whispered to herself as she helped him stumble off the platform. With Asha’s shoulder to balance him, Ever reached a bench and collapsed onto it.
“Thank you,” he muttered.
“No problem,” Asha answered as she buttoned up the collar of his coat. Her cool hand felt his forehead again. “We’ll rest here for a while,” she said as she slipped her hand into the crook of his arm.
Ever remained still, his eyes flickering between flashbacks and reality. He was barely conscious as Asha’s head nodded and rested against his shoulder. Eventually, he lowered her head into his lap and draped his coat over her small body. The cold chill kept him awake to what was real. He forced himself to keep his eyes upward at the stars, not letting them drift down to Asha lest he see Ella’s face in her’s.
Asha groaned as she struggled to open her eyes. She was astounded to see ice crystals on the edges of her eyelashes. Slowly, she looked around, gasping as she noticed the street she had been on last night.
Jerking herself upright, her eyes took in a frozen looking Ever.
“This is the first time I have regretted being a gentleman,” he whispered, his blue lips barely forming the words.
“You should’ve woken me up!” Asha worriedly whispered back, helping him put his stiff arms into his jacket.
“You were so peaceful after a week of heartache, I couldn’t bear to do it,” he said, his breathe coming out in puffs of white in the twilight air.
“I’ll walk you home,” he said and forced his feet to raise his body. Asha hurriedly placed her shoulder against him, helping him walk. His feet shuffled along, his body swaying as though her were drunk. With his head hanging, Asha looked up into his face and noticed crystallized trails of tears at the corners of his red-rimmed eyes.
“Are you sure you’re alright, Ever?” Asha said.
“Don’t worry. I can never die.”
“Asha, I have something I must tell you.” He reached out to grab a lamppost on the edge of the sidewalk. There he clung as he looked down into her face. His hand gripped her arm with fierceness.
“We-Shay, Chase, and I-are something that you should not mess around with. You’re in extreme danger, Asha. Not from someone else, but from us. We are monsters, a grotesque form of human. It is our love, and your love that will be the end of us, Asha. You must stop this now. Go home and stay home.”
Asha shook her head hard. “Ever, what are you talking about?” She wanted to back away and yet wanted to cling to him at the same time.
“Asha,” he shook her a little, “remember the Deum. That is your clue. That and the first question of the Matchmaker’s quiz. If you value your life, you won’t see us any longer.”