“Angelica, what are you doing here anyway?” He asked. “You should be on your way out, right? You said you were leaving early.”
“I want to come with you,” She murmured. “To your hometown.”
Leon shut his eyes tightly and thought about that moment he had planned out for months. When he’d finally see Gracie again. To say he had a crush on her was an understatement. He had liked her the moment he had laid eyes on her in that forest just outside Fortitude. The longer he spent away from her, the more he thought about her. That’s when he knew that he loved her. Even after she avoided him, he still wanted to see her. She was perfect.
He looked at Angelica. The girl who obviously showed an interest in him. He didn’t like her romantically. In fact, before she walked into the room, he was daydreaming about Graciela. Again. Except, this time she was in the room with him, purple lips and denim jacket.
“Hi.” She’d give him that shy smile of hers.
He’d smile back and ask, “how have you been? What are you doing here?”
“I came to see you. It hurt too much to be apart.” A dramatic answer, as she was accustomed to give. Then she’d reach her hand out to touch him. To make sure that he was real.
“I feel the same way. I miss you every day,” He’d tell her, sweeping her off her feet. He’d place his arm around her, and she’d melt into his touch. A warm kiss would be planted on her lips, and she’d kiss him back fervently as if she had been waiting for that moment for years.
“I love you,” She’d whisper. He’d feel her warm breath on his neck. “Can I stay here with you?”
“Really?” Angelica’s excited tone shook him from his daze.
“Huh?” He realized he uttered the word out loud and didn’t have the heart to crush the smiling girl.
“Thank you, thank you! I can’t wait to meet all your family and friends!”
Gracie had locked herself into a dark room, trying to face her fears. How could she deal with the darkness if she couldn’t even be near it without freaking out? That was a few days ago, and she still heard that shrill voice calling out to her. It hid in every corner. Every crevice. Every dark spot in existence. It’d find her and she’d hear it taunting her. She couldn’t do it. She was supposed to be leaving soon, but she just didn’t have the courage to.
Leon’s bright smile turned into one of sadness when he saw Graciela seated with her head in her hands. She looked terrible, like she hadn’t gotten any sleep the night before. Was something wrong? He walked up to her, hoping that seeing him would lift her spirits a bit.
She sensed him almost instantly, he could tell. But she wouldn’t look up. There was no where else to go. “Graciela, you look so different.” But she didn’t answer him. She seemed almost lifeless. “Gracie, are you alright?”
“Go back to whatever dark place you disappeared to,” She mumbled. “I don’t need you here.”
“Well, maybe I need you,” He retorted, inching closer to her. “It’s been two years. I couldn’t stay away any longer. I needed to see you.”
“Trust me and just go away.” She wrapped her arms around herself, no energy to even argue.
“Are you getting enough sleep?” He asked. “Is it…the darkness?”
“Just mind your business, Leon.” She wanted to get up and hide, but her feet wouldn’t move her. And where would she go anyway? Back to her dark house?
“The voices again?” He whispered. She didn’t answer, but looked up at him with tear stained cheeks. That was enough indication for him. “Hey, hey, calm down. They can’t hurt you anymore. I’m here. I will make sure they stay away.” And he hoped that was a promise that he could keep.
Angelica peered from behind a nearby tree. She had told Leon that she’d go exploring, but she wanted to see this Gracie girl up close. To be honest, she wasn’t impressed. The girl was more baggage than she was worth and Leon didn’t need a distraction like her. She crossed her arms over her chest, thinking of a way to deter him from worthless dedication to this girl.