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Exodus(5)
Author: Kate Stewart

“What are you—”

Before I can get my question out, he snakes his arm around my waist and clasps his free hand with mine before leading us to the edge of the crowd.

“What in the hell are you doing?” I whisper shout. He wedges his knee between mine and dips low, one bounce, two. I stand limp in his arms as he squeezes our clasped hands.

“Come on, Pup,” he pleas as we start to gather attention. He rocks us in perfect time, dipping and swaying, urging me to do the same. “Come on, baby,” he prompts, his smile starting to fade when I remain immobile, “give me a sign of life.”

Butterflies swarm as he beckons me, impossible to ignore while rocking back on his heels with a sexy tilt in his hips. In the next step, I give in, letting the music fuel me as I dip with him and begin swiveling my hips. He winks at me in encouragement before he does a swift turn, gripping my hand behind his back and executing the move with ease. A few onlookers next to us call out with words of encouragement and cheers as a blush creeps up my neck. But this is Sean, his superpower, and he’s mastered it. So, I do the only thing I can. I give in to him.

And then we’re dancing, while he sings to me. His perfect physique sways along to the pace-setting bass, just as a harmonica chimes in. We rock along the crowded street, our footing effortless as we collectively twist apart before falling easily back together. We dance like we’ve been doing it for years, not a couple of months. Clear pride gleams in his emerald eyes when he sees me lighting up from within. Mid-song, the music suddenly stops as do the dancers surrounding us, and hands fly up as they collectively scream the lyrics, a pause hanging in the air a split second before everyone explodes back into motion.

I’ve never heard the song before—but I know I’ll never forget it—the lyrics far too ironic. They speak to me on the innermost level. And I take it for the gift it is. It’s here on Main Street that we steal time and fall back into the other, and just…dance. Together, we own our stolen moment and ignore the fucked-up world around us, our circumstances, and the odds stacked up against us. And for those short minutes of Indian summer, I breathe a little easier, and the ache lessens.

Nothing matters but me and my golden sun and the love I feel for him. I shake my head ironically as he struts us around, defiant, daring anyone to try and mess with our moment. It’s then I know we won’t let them, or anyone else ruin what we have. When the song ends, the crowd around us erupts in cheers as he leans in and takes my face in his hands. He bends briefly, a breath away before he claims my lips in a kiss so sincere that the ache I just evaded, gives way to agony.

Instinctively I know, today isn’t one day.

“I gotta go,” he murmurs in my ear, his hands pushing away the hair at my shoulder as his eyes beg for understanding.

“No, please—”

“I have to. I’m sorry.” I shake my head and drop my gaze as waiting tears start to fall. He tips my chin and searches my eyes, devastation in his own. “Please, Pup, eat,” he swipes his thumb across my chin, “dance, sing, smile.”

“Please don’t go.” Expression somber, he presses a gentle kiss to my lips, a sob erupting from me, breaking it all too soon. “Sean, wait—”

It’s when he releases me, that I palm my face, an agonized cry erupting from me as his warmth disappears.

Choking, I shake my head in my hands, unable to stand the clear rip tearing straight through my chest. My tears soak my palms as the crowd rallies around me, and I feel every step he takes away from me.

I can’t let go. I can’t do this.

Pulling my hands away, I look for any sign of the direction he went as I begin to push through the growing crowd, unwilling to let him leave me, unwilling to let that dance be our last because it will never be enough. My heart seizes when I lose sight of him. I turn in a circle searching in every direction, getting swallowed by a mob as they rush the stage. Struggling through swarms of bodies, I start to panic. “Sean!” I scream, looking in every direction before I catch a flash of spikey blond hair and give chase.

“Sean!” I push through a family, nearly knocking down a little boy with sticky hands full of candied apple. I right him and apologize before I dash through in the direction he went. Turning in circles, I spot a bench nearby and leap onto it, combing the sidewalks and nearby alleys.

“No, no, no!” Panic consumes me when I come up empty. Ears pricked; I search fruitlessly until I hear the faint but distinct rumble of an engine roar to life. I leap in the direction of it and run down an alley before I round the corner. It’s there I slam into an invisible wall when I’m met with a silver stare. Dominic leans against Sean’s Nova, his arms crossed as he drinks me in. Sean spots me from where he stands on the opposite side of the car, taking one last look at me across the hood before he climbs in the driver’s seat. My gaze drifts back to Dominic as his eyes trail me from head to foot. Heart lurching, I take a tentative step forward, and he jerks his head, refusing me.

“Please,” I whisper, knowing he can clearly read the plea on my lips as my tears fall rapidly. Emotions reflect in his silver eyes as he lets me in fully, his fingers twitching at his sides. I know he wants to erase the space, to erase the water pouring between us.

“Please,” I beg, unable to handle the ache. “Please, Dom, please don’t go,” I cry out to him. I can feel the struggle in his refusal as he slowly shakes his head in reply. It’s his eyes, not his posture that conveys the most. In his gaze I see longing, regret, and resentment for our collective positions. And it’s enough. It has to be.

I hadn’t imagined his affection for me. I hadn’t imagined a minute we spent together. No one can cheapen or dismiss what we had. No one. And I won’t ever let anyone take it away from me.

But I get no assurances from either of them as I stand there—bleeding out, and that’s what terrifies me the most.

Dominic tugs at the handle behind him and opens the door while Sean keeps his gaze trained forward, either to grant us this time or because he can’t look at me any longer. It brings me no comfort. I drink in Dominic one last time and let him see my tears, my love. Covering my chest with both hands, I close my eyes and mouth the truth.

“I love you.”

It’s when I open them that I see his raw reaction to my confession. He takes a step forward, his face marred with indecision a second before he snaps our connection and joins Sean in the car. And in the next breath, they disappear.

It’s then I know whatever battle they fought to keep me in, they lost.

And ‘one day’ may never come.

 

 

There’s a scene in one of the Twilight movies where Bella remains unmoving in a chair—riddled in heartbreak—while staring out the window watching the seasons pass before her eyes. And on my balcony, as the trees shed and deaden before giving new life to fresh blooms, I realized I’d lived the past three seasons of my life much the same way she did when she was deserted by love.

Love may have had its way with me last summer, but when the first snow began to drift toward the ground, it was my hate that grew. Hatred for a nameless man who took a large part of my happiness away by putting me in a state of exile.

Now when I ache for those that deserted me, I replace it with loathing for the fire-eyed man who gave an executive order to keep me in my respective place—which is nowhere.

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