• Chapter 9

    I slipped in my converse sneakers and zipped up my jacket. I didn’t have time to do my hair so I pulled a beanie over my knots. I opened my rusty window and climbed out. It was drizzling. I jumped to a branch in the tree near my window and climbed down. By the time I was at the sidewalk, the rain got heavier. But I didn’t care. That wouldn’t stop me. I jogged across the street to Nick’s house. I went over to the yard and climbed a tree and jumped over the fence. Taco saw me from his dog house and jumped up. He sauntered towards me and was wagging his tail. It began pouring. He whimpered and tugged at my pajama bottoms. “Let go, you dumb dog.” I whispered, pushing his saliva-wet face away. But he kept tugging so I gave in. He pulled me into his dog house which smelled like dog drool but otherwise, was warm. I was soaking wet and Taco’s hairs kept sticking on me. The house was big enough so I sat inside. Taco licked my wet ankles as if trying to lick the excess of water. I was shaking but at least the hut was warm. Taco cuddled next to me and I hugged him. Such a warm dog.

    I was about to doze off when the worst possible thing happened. A bright crack flashed in the sky. I knew what it was and my heart began racing. I heard the low rumble and began panicking.
    “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!” I yelled in unison with the thunder. Taco jumped up and pushed his cold wet nose at my hair. I was covering my ears and rocking back and forth as thunder struck out of the sky. I had to get out. I crawled out of the shed into the blistering rain. The drops felt like ice bullets on my back but I crawled across the muddy yard. I could barely feel my hot tears. I reached the tall fence. I looked up from my hood. Taco had never left my side. He was whimpering next to me. Such a good dog. I petted him reassuringly. I looked up again. I had to climb that tree to get out. I slowly stood up and climbed on a chair. I grabbed the nearest branch and climbed but as I did, a thunder reverberated and flinched causing me to lose balance and almost fall. I gripped the branch and panted. Taco was barking at me. I shushed him but he didn’t listen. I grabbed my sneaker and threw it at him. He whimpered and stopped barking. “I’m sorry.” I whispered. I looked up towards my house. The porch light was on. Someone was stepping out. Ben?

    “JADE!!!” He called out. He was looking for me. Matt was looking for me.

    I smiled. He’ll rescue me. I know he will. Lightning flashed again. I panicked.
    “Matt…” I barely whispered. I was scared. The sky rumbled. The thunder hit and I yelled with it. “MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATT!!!!!!!!” He didn’t hear me. He was stepping into the sidewalk facing the opposite way. He had no idea where I was. "MATT!!” I yelled louder this time.
    “Jade?” He turned my way. “Where are you!?” He jogged across the street looking paler than ever. “JADE!!!”


    “MAAAAAT!!!” I yelled before it striked. He found me.

    “Holy s**t. JADE!” He walked under the tree. I was scared. Tears trickled down my face but despite the lightning, the thunder, the rain, and that terrifying rumble… I was happy to see him. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE!?” He asked but shook his head. He grabbed a hold of the nearest branch and got closer to me. I was still hogging the tree branch with all my strength despite the splinters in my hands and ankles. “Grab my hand!” He whispered. I shook my head. I was too scared to let go. “GRAB MY ******** HAND!!!!”
    “NO!!!” I yelled. Thunder shot again in the sky.
    “EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE!!! TRUST ME!!!!” He said. I was about to yell no again when I felt his lips kiss my hood. “Trust me…” He whispered in a very slow way. Almost invitingly. I looked up. His blue eyes were enveloped by that shadow that formed when he furrowed his brows. His mouth was turned down into a pleading frown. His silky wet black hair was stuck to his face. I swallowed loudly and released a hand and gripped harder with the other one. I reached for him and grabbed me. We climbed down to the wet grass and he hugged me. Hugged me as if it were like breathing to him, when I felt his hand slip under my thigh and sweep me. He jogged across the street and into the house. No one was home. No cars were parked. Nobody.

    He climbed the stairs and went straight to the bathroom. He sat me in the shower just like he did when we were kids but this time, he turned on the hot water. It was very hot but to my skin it was heaven. My clothes were all dirty and muddy. He unzipped my jacket and my remaining shoe and looked at me. “What?” I asked. My voice was hoarse.
    “Bah your hair’s a mess.” He grabbed the shampoo bottle and climbed in the tub. I hugged my legs and he came closer. He poured soap all over his hand and let loose my hair band. He scrubbed my head gently at first, slowly applying force until I could feel the knots untangling. “There we go.” He grabbed the hose and I closed my eyes as he rinsed my hair. I opened them again and he stood up and got out of the shower. He turned the faucet off and looked at me. “I’m going to step outside. You uh… you take off those soaked rags and put on the bathrobe.” He said gesturing to the robe hanging on the wall. “I’ll be outside.” He opened the door and the sound of thunder came. I shuddered and he closed the door again. There was silence. Aside from the blaring storm that was going on outside and clattering of this godforsaken house, it was quiet. I got up and out. I took off my pants and shirt. They landed on the floor in a big heavy SLAP! I wrapped the robe around my body and looked at my trembling self in the mirror. I looked as pale as piece of paper and felt colder than ice. My eyes were wide opened and my heart was beating frenetically and the sky hadn’t stopped rumbling. I was frozen in place. I felt as if the world was set out to get me. Seconds passed by and the sky was still rumbling… to the point that it almost felt like it was growling down at me. My hands crept slowly to my ear, trying to block that petrifying sound. It was getting closer… and closer… and closer… when…

    Soft, beautiful music had replaced my trembling hands. I felt the house shake under the loud thunder but to me it was like a soft shudder at the melody in my ears. I looked up. Matt had placed headphones in my head and was playing Christopher Tye’s In Nomine from his Ipod. The sound was soothing. Like silk to the skin. And I closed my eyes and released the tense breath I held as a relieved sigh.

    Matt was shirtless and he had changed from his soaked jeans to a pair of pajama bottoms. I could see the JOE BOXERS printed on the edge of his underwear. Finally, I could see his body in broad light as he wrapped his arms around me. I was facing the mirror and I looked at our reflection. I looked like a ghost… but Matt… Matt looked like an angel… an angel who rescued me once again. He rested his head on mine and squeezed my shoulder. He let go and grabbed my hand. He guided us out of the bathroom and into my room where he sat me in my bed. To think I was here about an hour ago. It felt like it’s been forever. He remained standing, unsure of what to do next. He was nervous. He didn’t know I’d heard his apology. He probably still believes I’m mad at him. I should probably do something now.

    I looked at him. He was avoiding my gaze. I smiled, the rumble in the sky a distant sound now. I stood up and he turned to me. His face was flushed with guilt. I stepped closer and placed my hands on either side of his face. I looked into his eyes and for a second, I thought of the night he came into my room, the moment he noticed I was awake. It was the same as now, just switched roles. I smiled at him, almost invitingly and pressed my lips to his. It felt just as he’d once said “As if I’d been drowning for years and had finally resurfaced.” I kissed him. His mouth met mine and my lips opened, welcoming him. Feeding from him. At first he was shocked and barely moved but it lasted a second before his kisses trailed down my chin to my neck. I let my head fall back, grateful for air conditioner cooling the heat he brought off me in waves. His lips were hot and the trail of his kisses burned down my throat and over my collarbone.

    Each breath came faster than the last. Every kiss, every flick of his tongue against my skin, scalded me in the most delicious way. “Jade…” He whispered. I looked at him and his eyes filled with understanding. He smiled. “Oh Jade…” He pulled me towards him and hugged me. I nuzzled into his chest when a thunder flashed and I flinched.

    * * *

    He was twirling a lock of mine in his finger as I listened to more of Christopher’s genius. His leg was draped over mine and I was clutching the quilt against my chest. With my other hand, I held onto his IPod and browsed the music he had. He rubbed my forearm with his free hand which he had wrapped around my waist, as we laid together in my bed just passing off the storm just like we did when we were 5.
    "Did you know that... trees tend to attrack lightning?" He said matter-of-factly. I flinched. I could've killed myself. He chuckled. "You're scared now that you're here?" He kissed the back of my neck. "Silly..." He whispered into my hair. "Don't ever scare me like that..." He moved my hair aside and continued kissing my neck. I felt the goosebumps rise and the hot trail his kisses left.

    This was the most significant moment in my life. I wasn’t confused anymore. There were no doubts. Even the ones from the past were no longer there. After all these years, I was at ease with myself.

    But little did I know…