What to read more? Check out Elara's World
For two hours, Nora sulked, tormented by the agonizing last moments she'd spent with her father and doubtful that she will ever see him again. She questioned whether having Robbie back in her life was a fair enough trade-off.
Although it seemed like her life is falling apart, the presence of Robbie in the next room made her depressing chaos bearable.
Nora wipes her face clean of any remaining tears or snot that may embarrass her before opening the door to the living room once she's had enough of feeling sorry for herself. She suddenly feels the impulse to flee as soon as she entered the small living room. The nightmares. Why now? I'm awake. How is this happening?
The room practically glowed. Nothing but beauty occupied the once-retched space. Nora tensely clenches her fists. Nervousness climbs her spine while looking around corners in anticipation of something surprising her. Waiting for the nightmare to start while taking deep, fear-filled breaths, she stops in front of the bedroom at the opposite end of the living room.
Large potted artificial violets border arched windows with white silk drapes. White leather furniture with wood trim sparkles next to the fireplace near the kitchen, making the room feel warm and inviting. Little lilac-scented candles garnish the glass tables surrounding the couch, filling the space with a subtle perfume.
When he notices her terrified expression, Robbie, who had been relaxing at the kitchen table, becomes tense with worry and rushes to her side.
"Come on! Where are you? I won't be too late this time. Where are those kids?" Nora demands answers from an unseen source as she braces herself for battle when she hears footsteps.
"No, Nora. There are no kids. Wake up! Wake up now!" she yells at herself.
Her stomach rumbles as her eyes jump from corner to corner, covering every inch of the house.
"Nora, what's wrong?"
"Robbie? You're not safe here. No! He is not here. Wake up! Wake up, Nora!" she repeats, hitting the sides of her head with both fists.
Robbie grabs her hands and pulls her to his chest.
"Nora, calm down. You're not dreaming; I am here," he says.
Nora takes another look around.
"You're not dreaming."
"What happened, Robbie? Where are we?"
"I hoped you'd like it. Sorry, I did not expect this reaction. I forgot that your father hadn't shown you this side of us yet. I should have considered that before changing things," he says.
For a moment, her speech is impaired.
"It's great, but—how and when did you have time for all this? What do you mean by this side of us? You need to help me understand what's going on here, Robbie."
She is led to the table by Robbie after he grins and takes her hand. She instantly becomes calm as soon as he touches her.
"I will. I promise. I am a bit more concerned about what was going on with you just now. How do you feel? What was happening to you?"
Nora sits in the chair across from him.
"Sometimes, I have very realistic nightmares. I'm fine. It's just—I'm so confused."
She calms down after a few more strokes of his hand on hers. Inquisitive, Nora flashes a curious grin.
"I will explain everything, but first, I will cook us something to eat," Robbie says, kissing her hand.
Spending some quality time together over a hot meal allows them to reset their emotional state. Nora and Robbie retire to the living room after dinner. Sprawled on the sofa, Robbie waits for Nora's reaction to the new TV. After seeing her eyes light up with delight and surprise, his smile widens.
"Robbie, what is this? How is it changing like that? This is unlike any TV I have ever seen," she says, kneeling in front of the television, stroking the screen.
"That is a flat-screen color television. Do you see that small glass dot on the front of it? That is what makes this hand controller work the TV. A Szion creates everything that is or will be on this planet. Boligon is over a century ahead of us. I thought it was amazing when my dad first brought one into our home. I thought you'd like it."
Nora stares at him with a query in her gaze. Robbie's grin spreads across his face.
"Lots of questions, I know. Later, okay," he says, pulling her on the couch by the hand.
"Hey, it's been a pretty hectic night for you. Why don't you get some rest and tomorrow we can talk. It will be midnight soon," Robbie says as he brushes a strand of hair from her face.
His stroke lingers down her cheek. With only his touch, she is persuaded to gaze into his eyes. He brushes her lips with a soft, sensuous touch, keeping his eyes on her and encircling her in a warm, passionate embrace. She squirms and yanks at her clothes in an attempt to shed the sudden heaviness that traps her body. Unintentionally she kisses his finger when it crosses her mouth again. Embarrassment rips her out of hypnosis, and she leaps from the couch.
"I'm sorry. Good night," she says, rushing to the bedroom.
"Good night, Nora," Robbie replies with a smirk.
"Uh, I'll need a blanket and a pillow or something. I don't think I will be too comfortable on the floor without them," Nora says.
Approaching her slowly, Nora couldn't take her eyes off his. In what appeared to be a still moment of blissful sexual tension, their gazes locked. To Nora, he appeared to be moving in slow motion. Every stride he takes is a call to her body. One last heart-dropping step traps Nora between him and the bedroom door. As he leans in, she closed her eyes and puckers her lips, almost falling when the door opens. With his hand on the base of her back, he pulls her to her feet. Another moment of humiliation has her stumbling over her words.
"I... I thought. Uh... shit! I don't know what I thought," she whispers with her head down.
Giving Robbie no time to say or do anything she turns away. A gasp of shock slipped from her lips.
"My room? How did...you know what, forget it. I don't want to know. Thank you."
As she tries to retreat, he grabs her hand, turns her toward him, and lifts her chin.
"Why are you so nervous?" he asks softly, kissing her lips. "Good night, Nora."
Her body begins to heat up, and her cheeks start to flush a brilliant pink. She quickly enters her room while hiding her face.
Nora tossed and turned as she struggled to escape the memory of the kiss she and Robbie had shared for the second time in one day. She could still feel his warm touch tracing her skin and wanted more than anything to feel it again. With such profound thoughts roaming around in her head, sleep was not even a possibility. She sat up, frustrated, and grabs her pillow. What almost happened in there? Did anything almost happen? She sighed softly as she reclined against her headboard. Should I go back in there? Excitedly, she climbed out of bed and tip-toed across the carpet to the door, but quickly changes her mind and abandoned the idea. No, don't look desperate. Go back to bed.
As she closes her eyes, memories of her father and uncle's final moments with her, play tag in her mind. Tugging at her heart and preventing her from sleeping. She flips over the pages of a book on her nightstand, hoping the story will draw her in and take her mind off her unpleasant day. However, the first few pages she reads are about a young couple fighting their feelings for one another. She slapped the book shut and flings it across the room.
After a few minutes, Nora returns to her pillow and turns on the soft music on Robbie's small music box on her nightstand. When her eyelids become heavy, and her body sinks into the comfort of her bedding, she is soothed by the soothing music. The humming of the small engine in the music box calmed her mind and relaxed her soul like a sedative. She was finally able to sleep. Her chances of falling asleep were abruptly eliminated when the music stopped. She widens her eyes. Damn! Almost.
Defeated, Nora gets out of bed, hoping Robbie is still awake. She'd like to blame her restlessness on her eventful evening, fear is mostly to blame. It's not the first time her dreams have kept her awake. At times, her dreams appear to be flashbacks to a horrible past. Even though she's convinced herself that they're from all the stories she's read, they often seem more real than they should. There are times when she is dreaming and awakens, confused about what is going on around her. She has managed not to let her nightmares take over her life, but she fears that her dreams will prevent her from waking someday.
Robbie grins as he stands in the kitchen with two bowls of strawberry ice cream. His smile reveals his deep dimples.
"Hey, I was just headed your way. I heard you tossing and turning and figured you could use this."
Nora returns the smile and nods. There was no conversation between them as they savored their ice cream, even though they both had something to say. Robbie's spoon drops into his bowl, drawing Nora's attention.
"Say what's on your mind," he says.
"Robbie, will you sleep with me? I mean, next to me. I've been having nightmares. So, I thought maybe you could just lie with me until I fall asleep... I just thought that I may not be so afraid if you are next to me."
"Okay. Are you sure? You seemed to have a hard time just sitting near me earlier."
"Yeah, I know. That was just me being weird, I guess. But I'm fine now! Why wouldn't I be? We used to sleep in the same bed when we were kids. It will be nice. Just like old times," she says with uncertainty.
"Nora, we are no longer kids."
Nora gives a slight nod of understanding.
"If it will make you uncomfortable, then—I'm sorry. You're right. Bad idea. I don't know what I was thinking."
She gets to her feet and starts walking away. Robbie pulls her in and puts his arms around her waist.
"I have been waiting for a long time for the chance to sleep with you," Robbie jokes.
As she cradles her face in her hands, she lets out a giggle.
"Are you blushing?"
Robbie moves her hand and kisses her cheek.
"No," she bashfully answers.
"Come on, let's get some rest," he says, leading her into the room. "Do you want to talk about these nightmares?" Robbie asks as they climb into bed.
Shaking her head, she snuggles up to Robbie's chest, which is the warmest spot, and drifts off to sleep listening to his heartbeat.
"Get up, you fool! Get up, traitorous bastard! Get up and face me! No? Fine!"
A woman with dark hair stands steadfast before a man. The man's head drops to the ground as she hits him with her blade, and his body becomes limp. She wipes the scattered blood from her cheek and licks her injured palm. She laughs in response to shrill cries, and a young man runs to the deceased man's body. Before leaving into the night, she shoves a woman aside and kicks the man's body. Just as she is about to go, she is paralyzed by pain.
The vile woman clenches her stomach and drops to her knees. Blood pours out of her mouth, and she grows weaker with each passing second.
"Did you honestly think that I wouldn't find you?" another woman says, standing over her.
"You know killing me means your own death."
"Then we will die together," the stranger says.
Cold travels through their bodies until they are no longer able to move.
The sound of Nora's howl wakes her up, and she panics when her airflow seems to be restricted. She takes deep breaths quickly, trying to regain her ability to breathe. Robbie observes her with widened eyes.
"You're safe, Nora! You're safe."
As she gasps for air, he squeezes her gently. After a few moments, she regains consciousness and rests in his arms.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, just a bad dream," she says, running her hands through her hair, trying to will her heartbeat to slow down.
"Some dream. "Maybe it's time to tell me about these nightmares."
"Sorry, I woke you."
"I've been up for hours, just watching you sleep. You scared me quite a few times," he says.
"Sorry about that. Was I the reason you didn't sleep?"
"No. I slept fine, and so did you until a few hours ago."
He quickly kisses her before getting out of bed and going to the kitchen.
"I'll be done with brunch in a few minutes. You get cleaned up, then you can tell me all about that dream of yours," he calls from the next room.
Why would he make breakfast in the middle of the night? Nora wonders as she glances at the time. It's 12:30 in the afternoon, and the sun is out.
"What do you know? I slept through the night. I need to keep him around," she says as she walks into the bathroom.
"I would like that very much," Robbie says, startling her.
He is standing in the bathroom doorway, grinning, when she turns around.
"You shouldn't sneak up on people," she says, playfully hitting him with a bath towel.
"I'm sorry," he says, wrapping his arms around her waist.
"I love you, Nora Langly. I meant what I wrote in that letter when you and your father moved away."
Nora's throat tightens. She waited so long to hear him say that. She just never thought it would come.
He kisses her cheek.
"Although it's been five years, my love for you has only increased. I know I hurt you, but can you look at me and tell me you don't love me?"
Nora shakes her head.
"I'll always love you," she whispers shyly.
"I want to keep my promise. If you'll have me. I want to make you mine for the rest of our lives."
Nora pulls away, wide-eyed.
"Was that a proposal?"
"Yeah, it may not have been a very good one, but it still deserves an answer. Take your time; I'm not going anywhere."
As he walks away, she waits patiently until he has closed the bedroom door before squealing into the towel. There was nothing to think about. No amount of time can convince her that she is not his. She has known this since she was sixteen. Nora joins Robbie in the kitchen, following her shower and changing into her bathrobe.
During brunch, Nora tried to conceal her excitement about everything that had transpired between them. But Robbie was able to read every emotion from her facial expressions.
"Are you happy?" his smile makes her cheeks flush with many shades of pink before she answers with a bashful nod. "Good, I hope I can always make you this happy," Robbie tells her leading her to the sofa by the hand. "But we have some important things to talk about that may make you unhappy."
As she braces herself for the worst in their chat, Nora's smile starts to fade.
"Things will change for you today, Nora. This, as well as many other topics, will be discussed. The most difficult thing you'll have to cope with is yourself. When your transformation is complete, the entire world will look different, including you," he says.
As sweet as his voice sounds, his words register an alarm. He takes her hand and leads her to the bathroom.
"Take a moment, look at yourself. If you accept me, this will be the last time you see this, Nora Langly."
"You're kidding, right?"
Robbie walks away, shaking his head. Nora fulfills his request. "The hardest thing you will have to face with is you," she says, dropping her bathrobe to her feet. Nora grinned as she ran her hands down her smooth stomach.
"I am far from perfect, but not bad," she says.