Naira was in the hazy state that lies between sleep and waking. She was dreaming she was protected and safe, James was lying behind her with his arm around her waist. He was never going to leave her, they had eternity to spend together. His breath warmed her neck, and she smiled.
James’s chin nestled into the curve of her neck, his lips brushing a feather light kiss on her cheek.
“Are you happy?” his voice had to be her favorite sound in the world.
“Yes, very much.” She lazily opened her eyes, expecting to see the soothing green of her bedroom walls and her dream over. Instead, she saw a wall filled with books. She remembered that she had fallen asleep in the study, on the couch, with James. It wasn’t a dream, his arm was in fact draped over her body. He sighed contentedly, lovingly burrowing his face into her hair.
Naira almost couldn’t believe this was real. Last night had been so perfect, like it was happening to someone else. If only this moment could last forever, this feeling that she had been searching for all her life. Naira rolled over to face him. He was so handsome, his jaw was chiseled and his lips soft and definitely kissable.
Naira’s slender fingers slowly traced his lips, memorizing them with her heart. His eyes sparkled with happiness. His hands gently captured the sides of her face and he kissed her passionately. She was surprised, even last night he hadn’t been this needy, this strong with his affections.
“Well, good morning to you too!” she said when the kiss ended. He laughed as she placed her head on his chest, only wanting to be held by his strong arms. Remember this moment, she thought to herself. Hold in your heart forever, because this is one less morning for James to live.
He sensed that she was upset about something and he kissed the top of her head, running his long fingers through her golden hair. His touch soothed her, a reminder that for this moment all was right with the world. James wanted her, that
was all that mattered, and it made her heart soar.
Meanwhile, Grant was fuming in the living room of Tony’s house. He was fingering the arrow that Naira had thrust into his chin, his thoughts dark. How dare she! She had taken the upper hand, and Grant refused to leave it at that. He had gone out after the incident, found a party and a very drunk girl… She was not even close to Naira though, and he wanted Naira. I’ll take her, he decided, whether she likes it or not. I just have to work out a plan to get her to trust me. Naira has a big heart, and I’m sure an apology would go a long way… His eyes narrowed to slits as he hatched his plan.
He heard high heels clicking across the foyer. Carolyn was up, she had probably gotten up a lot during the night to check for his return. He had only gotten back about half an hour ago. Carolyn walked into the room, and saw him on the couch. He was slouched down, his hair a mess and bags under his eyes.
“Everything alright?” her voice held a note of concern, but he knew she was reserving her true feelings about his absence the night before.
“It’s all good. Just a bit of girl trouble.” his voice was dripping with sarcasm, his teeth gnashing in displeasure. Carolyn fought back the urge to flinch at the tone in his voice. She had tried her best with Grant, at least he respected her enough to be civil to her. For Grant, respect and civility were as close as he came to love.
“Thank you for sending Clara home yesterday. Your father and I feel that she needs to go to the emergency room, however. Her fever hasn’t broken and we’re getting concerned. She’s very ill…” The blood she coughed up this morning had been the final straw.
Grant was a little surprised. The princess was that sick?
“I’ll call James, you take Clara.” Now it was Carolyn’s turn to be surprised. Maybe he did care a little, after all.
“Thank you Grant. Have James come to the hospital. Naira too, if she wants, and you know that you’re more than welcome to visit Clara, too.” She turned to go, but stopped to add, “She loves you Grant. To her, you’re equal to James, just as Tony is equal to her father. I’ve always appreciated that you’ve been good to her and to me.”
She walked briskly out of the room, and James heard voices in the kitchen. He listened as Tony carried Clara down the stairs, talking to he gently. Carolyn had the door open, and they went out to the car in the garage. “Goodbye Grant.” Carolyn sounded kind, which amused Grant. If only you knew what I was planning he thought.
He stood up, staggered a bit from the alcohol left in his system. He picked up the phone and dialed James’s number. However, it wasn’t a male voice that answered. It was a melodic, female voice that said, “Hello?”
Perfect, he thought. He let out a sob, smiling through his fake tears.
“Oh Naira, it’s awful! Clara has been so sick all night. Our parents just took her to the hospital! Oh Naira, Naira, I am so worried…”
“Grant, slow down, I cannot hear you properly!” Take the bait, take the bait, he thought.
“Oh Naira, I feel so low right now! I tried to move in on you yesterday, and now Clara is going to the hospital!”
“The hospital?” She sounded confused. He didn’t realize that was because she had never heard of a hospital before. “I am sure she will be fine Grant. You said yourself that she would… I will go get James. And do not worry about yesterday. It does not matter now.”
Grant smiled, and threw the bloodied arrow he had been holding into the dead center of the antique cabinet across the room. Bulls eye, he thought.