Haze (The Rephaim #2) Online - Paula Weston

IN THE STILL OF THE NIGHT

I almost wish I still had the blood-soaked dream of the nightclub.

At least then I’d be asleep, not lying here in the dark chasing thoughts I’ll never catch. The jacaranda tree outside is still in the warm night; the moon casts a slight shadow of its twisted branches against the wall.

It’s the quiet moments like this that get me, when it’s impossible to pretend I have a grip on everything that’s happened in the past week. In the daylight, in this bungalow, I can fool myself into thinking I still have control over my life. But here in the dark I know that’s a lie. And my life already has too many lies. For a year I believed four things: that my twin brother died in a car accident; that nothing in my life would matter as much as that; that my violent dreams are not real; that my memories from before are so faded because I was badly hurt in the accident that killed Jude.

It turns out none of these things are true, and it’s the truth that keeps me awake. The biggest truth of all: Jude might be alive.

The shadow shifts on the wall, sharpens, blurs. The ache comes back into my chest. The possibility that I’ll see Jude again, the cruel hope of it, never fails to take the breath out of me.

A year of hurting and missing him.

A year of nightmares.

And now the truth. The impossible truth.

My eyes track to the mattress on the floor next to my bed; Rafa’s boots are beside it. The TV is on in the lounge room, volume low, blue light flickering under my door. Through the thin walls I can hear Maggie stirring in her room. Jason might be in there with her, but chances are he’s on the couch in the lounge room, ignoring Rafa or being ignored by Rafa, still thinking of ways to make amends for not telling her he’s one of us. Maggie’s forgiven me because I didn’t know.

How is Maggie sleeping? Is she dreaming of demons? Or of the three Rephaim who held her hostage up the mountain to get to me? I wish I could undo Monday and Tuesday night. I wish I could remember what it is everyone wants me to remember. What Jude and I actually did a year ago. It’s not that I don’t want to.

I roll over in bed, stare at the silhouette of the old tree outside and the smattering of stars beyond it.

Rafa says we’re safe for now, but given he’s sleeping on my floor instead of in his own bed at the shack he can’t really believe that.

Not that he spends all night on the floor.

I turn again, kick the sheet off. Pull it back over me again. God, I need to sleep.

The TV goes quiet in the other room. A few seconds later my door opens and closes, floorboards creak beside the bed.

Silence. I breathe as though I’m sleeping. I can feel him listening. And then a zip slides undone, clothes drop to the floor and Rafa slips under the sheet with me. Warmth radiates from him. His movements are slow, careful. His breath soft on my skin.

Like last night, he doesn’t touch me. The night before, Tuesday night—after the attack at the Retreat when we got Maggie back—I leaned against him when he settled behind me. As soon as our bodies touched he went straight back to the mattress on the floor. Shifted from my bed to his. It’s one of the more annoying talents of the Rephaim—their ability to be somewhere else in the blink of an eye. He didn’t say anything. No explanation. No smartarse comment.

So, since then, we don’t touch and we don’t talk and he stays. We’ve slept beside each other before—on the couch on Patmos, when Rafa told me who I was. What I was. Then he was teasing, testing me. This closeness is different. Almost restrained. There’s no sign of this Rafa during daylight hours. I know he doesn’t want to finish what we started in his bedroom, but why sleep in my bed if he doesn’t want the temptation?

He gets comfortable behind me, so close I can almost feel him. Almost. A deep sigh shifts my hair, tickles my neck. I close my eyes.

He knows I’m not asleep; he has to. So is he testing me or himself?

One week. That’s how long it’s taken to get this complicated. That’s how long I’ve known Rafa.