Into the Hollow
My sleep was dreamless. At least, I didn’t remember anything when I was awakened by an anguished cry from Dex’s room followed by a deafening thud that shook my walls and caused a painting on the wall to fall to the ground.
“Dex!” I yelled, bolting straight out of bed. I stumbled over the blanket and made my way blindly to the door between our rooms. I quickly unlocked my door and thankfully found his unlocked.
I shoved it open and burst into his room.
It couldn’t have been an eerier scene.
The room was dark except for a light coming from the bathroom vanity area. The light didn’t do much to illuminate the room, however, because a bed, the same bed I had been sitting on earlier, was flipped entirely over and propped up against the bathroom door.
Dex was standing in front of it, back to me, an unmoving silhouette in a weary pose.
“Dex,” I said cautiously, my heart in my throat. I walked carefully across the room, avoiding the bedding and pillows that had been scattered around.
I stopped right to the side of him. He was wearing a t-shirt and pajama pants and shaking lightly, from his loose fingers that hung down at his sides, all the way up to the flashing whites of his eyes. His gaze never left the flipped over mattress. He was staring at it like it was going to attack him any minute.
“Hey,” I whispered. He didn’t acknowledge me until I reached for him, touching his elbow. Then he jumped and spun around to face me, sucking in a giant rush of air. If he looked dazed before, now he was awake and aware.
And more afraid.
He shook harder, swallowing harder, as his eyes tried desperately to tell me something that his mouth couldn’t.
It scared the living shit out of me, causing my skin to prickle down my back.
I quickly grabbed him and brought him close. The action was instinctive. I wrapped my arms around him and brought his head down into my neck. He was almost hyperventilating.
I had no idea what to do or what to say. I had no idea what happened. Had he flipped the bed over and thrown it against the vanity? The mirror behind it was cracked and glass had scattered on the ground. Why? Was he angry? How could he even flip the bed by himself? Why was he convulsing in my arms like a punished dog, making whimpering noises at my throat?
“It’s going to be OK,” I told him, holding him tighter. “Do you need help? A doctor?”
He shook his head violently and I squeezed him again.
“That’s OK,” I reassured him. “Let’s go to my room. Come on.”
I led him out of the room, keeping my grip steady on him, and ushered him through the doors. I closed his and as I did so, his head snapped up.
In the darkness of my room I could only see the glinting whites of his eyes.
“Lock it,” he said in an ominous voice.
I nodded and quickly threw the lock over. I did the same to my door and led him over to my bed, sitting him down. I leaned over and flicked on the bedside light.
He propped his elbows up on his knees and held his head between his hands. I kneeled down in front of him and was suddenly reminded that I had in fact seen him like this before. In an alley in Seattle, when Abby had decided to pay him a visit.
That thought made my lungs constrict painfully, making it hard to breathe. Abby was gone. Abby had been destroyed. I couldn’t deal with the alternative, I couldn’t.
Now I was shaking. I took his hands off of his face and replaced them with mine. I got a good grip around his ears and hair and moved my head up until he had no choice but to look at me.
I didn’t want to ask the question because I didn’t want to hear the answer. But I had to know.
“Dex, please, what happened?” I asked, my voice cracking in its whisper.
His eyes, so close to mine, ebbed and flowed like a tumultuous tide.
“Please tell me.” I brought my eyes off his and focused on his lips. Wanting him to talk. Wanting to kiss him. I blamed the adrenaline that was rushing through my body. I wasn’t thinking clearly.
“I saw her,” he said in a voice that seemed to float, delicate as air.
My heart pounded hard in my chest, as if it was just waking up. I struggled to breathe.
“Abby?” I squeaked.
His head shook, barely. “Not Abby.”
He closed his eyes, brow furrowed in some internal pain. I stroked the side of his face with my fingers, feeling the solidness of his high cheekbones, the ever-present scratch of his facial hair, rough and hard under my touch. I hoped it was calming him as much as it was calming me.
“Who, Dex?” I repeated. I smoothed the skin under his eyes with my thumb until he finally looked back at me. They were wet with tears and my soul felt like it drained out of me and onto the floor. I didn’t know if I wanted to know anymore, about someone worse than Abby. Someone that could reduce this strong man to this. I could feel his fragility in my hands, like I was holding eggshells.
His lips moved and a puff of air and words came out, words I couldn’t understand. I moved my face closer to his and brushed his lips with mine. The room seemed to vibrate but maybe it was the beating of my heart.
“Please tell me,” I whispered into his mouth.
His eyelids lowered as he gazed at me. “I don’t want you to know. I can’t…” he paused and licked his lips and his tongue invariably caught the inner rim of mine. It took everything I had inside to not go further with it. My chest heaved with the breath I was trying to control.
As scared, as curious as I was, I didn’t want to upset him further. Not tonight.
“It’s all right,” I told him softly, my lips bumping against his as we spoke. “Just tell me how to help.”
“Let me stay with you,” he asked gently. “Let me sleep with you.”
There was no hint of seductiveness in his voice, though his heavy eyes and parted lips suggested otherwise.
The question must have been on my face because he continued, smooth and gentle, “Just like this. I need you tonight, just like this. Please.”
I found myself nodding, not really knowing at all what he meant. When he said sleeping, did he mean actual sleeping or sex? And if it was sex, how come I wasn’t pushing him away or coming up with excuses? Where was my rulebook now?
He got to his feet and I followed. He picked up the comforter and sheets from the floor and threw them on the bed. Then he climbed in, leaving an open, inviting spot in the bed for me. He nodded at the light for me to turn it off.
As if in slow motion, I clicked it off and the room went black. I was terrified of two things; whatever “she” was in the other room, if she’d come in here and find us. And getting into that bed with a man I used to love.
I gathered up my courage and climbed in with him. I was right up against his body, now warm from the covers, feeling the silkiness of his t-shirt rubbing against my arm. Thank goodness he was wearing clothes.
He shifted beside me so he was on his side and I leaned toward his chest. He put one arm around me, bringing his head down to mine. He put one hand into my hair and stroked it soothingly. I wished my nerves would follow suit, but his touch only excited them.
“Thank you,” he whispered. My eyes adjusted to the dark of the room and I could see the outline of his face blocking everything else. “I just need you for a night. Just a night.”
His lips met mine with a startling suppleness. I should have stopped him. I should have said no. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to.
I let him kiss me, let my tongue dance delicately with his, feeling a wave of hotness flush down from lips to lips. Last time I had the strength to stop his kiss, this time I had none. I reached up with my hand and grabbed his bicep, getting excited at the firmness and strength he possessed. If he wanted me, he could have me and any way he wanted. And if he didn’t start to devour me, I would devour him.
If that thought didn’t surprise me, it was what Dex did next.
He gently pulled away and ran his thumb over my lip.
“Sorry,” he said. “This isn’t me trying. I just need to be with you.”
I cocked my head from the pillow, thoughts jumbled and hormones raging. He was being completely sincere and it still confused the hell out of me.
“Come here,” he whispered into my ear and pulled me in until he was spooning me. I could feel his rock hard erection now, pressed up against my ass, which only invigorated me more. He held me tight and I felt his lips at the back of my neck.
“Perry,” he murmured through my hair.
I cleared my throat, trying to find my vocal chords. “Yeah?”
Silence. I listened, waiting in the black for his answer. Heavy breathing was my reply. He was asleep.
Minutes later I joined him, drifting off in his arms. It was one of the deepest sleeps I’d ever had.
When I woke up the next morning, I wasn’t surprised to find Dex gone. At first I thought maybe the whole thing had been some crazy dream. I mean, I have had plenty of Dex dreams before, of course those all involved hot, uninhibited sex. Not purely kissing and spooning.
Then I heard a few muffled thumps from his room and I got up, feeling a chill as the morning mountain air seeped in through the thin windows. I pulled on a pair of jeans and slipped on a sweater and knocked lightly at his adjoining door.
“Dex?” I asked.
“Enter,” was his formal response.
I opened the door and poked my head in. The bed was back in its place, covers and bedding looking freshly made. The only sign that something had gone wrong was the mirror. It was shattered in the middle, cracks seeping outward.
Oh, and Dex’s wrist. He was standing at the sink, attempting to wrap a gauze bandage around it.
“Oh my God, what happened to you?” I asked and hustled toward him.
“Can you help me?” he inquired. I looked up at him, and seeing he looked fine, at least better than last night, I held up his wrist, the bandage falling away.
It wasn’t too bad but the outer side of his wrist was bruised and bloody. At least the bleeding had stopped.
“What happened?” I asked again, grabbing for the bandage. “Seriously. Tell me.”
He bit his lip momentarily and his eyes flitted to the mirror.
“I had an accident last night.”
“I saw. You flipped over your bed.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I guess I did.”
“Why did you do that?”
He looked down at his wrist and the tendons around his neck stiffened. “I told you.”
“You didn’t. Last night you just said that you saw her.”
“And that’s the truth.”
“Who is her?”
“She was in the mirror.”
My mouth gaped and the grip on his wrist became loose. “You saw someone in the mirror?”
He nodded. “So, maybe I’m having a hard time adjusting to being drug-free after all. You think they have a drugstore around here?”
“Did you smash the mirror with your hand?”
He was silent. I took that as a yes.
I sighed. “And then you flipped over the bed. Why?”
He rubbed at his forehead with his spare hand and avoided my eyes. “Perry, I can’t really say.”
“You were trying to keep something out,” I answered for him.