The Reluctant Psychic Ch. 16byonly_more_so©
If you are new to my Reluctant Psychic series, please consider starting from the beginning. The story, characters and events in this chapter will make more sense when given context from the preceding chapters.
If you're returning, welcome back and I hope you enjoy the story.
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I didn't wake up so much as I became aware of my surroundings.
I was in a small room, lying on a narrow bed that squeaked in protest as I moved. The scent of a cherry scented candle filled the air. I sat up and looked around the room, trying to puzzle out where I was. The room seemed familiar, with textbooks neatly arranged on a bookshelf, two carefully aligned movie posters, and a not so carefully arranged bulletin board.
I walked over to the bulletin board and looked at the variety of things that were pinned up. There were tickets to concerts, old friendship bracelets, photos of people I couldn't recognize. In the center of the board, in a place of honor was a Valentine's Day card. The card was propped slightly open by the pin through the back page.
My hand was shaking as I reached to push back the front page of the card. I saw that the colors on the heart had run, and the edges of the paper were worn as if the card had gotten wet. As I open the card, I saw the writing inside was in my handwriting, "Dear Anna," it began.
I pulled my hand back as if I'd been bitten by a snake. It wasn't possible. It couldn't be possible. I looked around the room and memories started crashing into place. The books were the usual freshman texts, but also included Introduction to Psychology. The posters on the wall were for "Casablanca" and "Back to the Future." I looked back to the bed and recognized the quilt I had been lying on, a memory of a long dead, but loving mother.
I turned back to the bulletin board and began to remember some of the events that the ticket stubs and bits of paper represented. Concert tickets, play programs, and matchbooks from restaurants I could hardly afford were placed in a rough circle around the board, hidden amidst all the other signs of an outgoing life.
Only two things stuck out, the Valentine's Day card, and a single movie ticket. The ticket was torn in half and had once born the words, "Admit One." It was the old roll type movie ticket that the classic theater in town used. I touched the ticket remembering the event that it symbolized: my first date with Anna.
"I was about to give up hope," she said. I turned to find Anna standing at the foot of the bed. She looked exactly as I remembered, exactly as she did—I looked back at the bulletin board, following the circle around to its end, a matchbook for the Mandarin. It was where I took Anna for our six month anniversary, the night when we—Anna touched my shoulder, pulling my attention back to her. "I thought you'd never ask me out on a date."
I felt my heart hammering in my chest as she stood before me. Her eyes were blue and clear, gazing up at me, piercing my soul. Thin twin braids pulled her pale blonde hair back from her face, leaving her small slightly elfin ears, and long delicate neck expose. "In the study group you always seemed so sure, but when I got you alone you became so bashful."
"When you finally asked me out, I was so excited. I didn't think I'd like an old movie like Casablanca, but I was afraid if I said no, or suggested something else, you would be scared away." Her hands were pressed against my chest as she stood so very close. I felt the heat from her hands, and the nearness of her body.
This was exactly how it'd happened, all those years ago. It was happening again. I braced for the kiss that I knew was coming, closing my eyes in fear, just as I closed them years ago in anticipation. But the kiss never came, and I felt the cool air replacing Anna's presence. I opened my eyes when I heard the bed squeak, and saw Anna sitting on the bed, her legs crossed demurely.
"I fell in love with you that night. I had liked you for a while, but when I turned to look at you at the end of the movie, and I saw the tears in your eyes, I was in love. I couldn't tell you then, I couldn't even tell you months later when you slogged through the Valentine's Day blizzard to give me that card. You wouldn't even come inside to get warm, you were so afraid of being improper."
"What happened to that man?" she asked.
I couldn't answer. I felt all the confusion, all the self-loathing returning.
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"...you would be scared away." Although my hands didn't shake, I could feel the anxious energy burning through my body. My hands rested on her slender hips and I closed my eyes and bent my head. I felt her nose slide slowly against mine, as we guided our lips blindly together.
Her soft lips pressed against mine, gently. I felt them withdraw slightly, and then press against me again. This time her lips were parted slightly, wrapping softly about my lip. Our lips parted again, this time we pressed a little bit harder, but her lips felt just as tender.
My hands tightened on her waist, pulling her body towards me. Her arms wrapped around my neck, pulling my face towards hers. We kissed again, tilting our heads to being ourselves closer together. An electric thrill went through me as her tongue slid along my lips. My tongue quested outward, encountering hers and rubbing against it affectionately.
I held her tight, trying to pull her even closer. Her legs parted around my thigh, one leg wrapping around mine as her hips pressed against me. Her arms were just as insistent, pulling me into an ever deepening kiss.
As she kissed me and pressed against me, I felt myself growing hard. I knew she could feel my hardness pressing into her hip, both in the way she moved against me and feeling the excitement from her mind. I could also feel her wondering if I could feel the moisture and heat coming from her as she rubbed herself against my thigh.
I pulled back from the kiss, trying to block out her thoughts. But she was all around me, her scent filled my nostrils, her purring, moaning breath filled my ears. Her arms wrapped around me, her fingers entwined in my hair. Her body conformed to mine as if we were sculpted from a single stone. Her desire was such a perfect mirror of my own that I lost track of where her needs ended and mine began.
I panted, and tried to evade her questing lips. Instead of finding my elusive lips, she sought out a new target, and I a shiver ran through me as she sucked on my earlobe. Goosebumps formed on my arms as she kissed and sucked on my neck. I felt her hands open the top button of my shirt and froze in panic.
As the second button parted I pushed her away from me. It was too much, I was about to lose control. Already I could read her thoughts as clearly as if I were actively trying. I felt her need burning inside of her. I felt her confusion at being pushed away. I felt her hurt.
Her hurt broke my heart.
She thought I didn't want her. She thought I believed her a slut for coming on so strong. She felt every rejection in her life, amplified because it was from the man she loved. She tried to turn away from me, but my hands held her hips firmly in place. Her hurt compounded as she began crying, cursing herself for crying in front of the man who rejected her.
I collapsed to my knees. I had never been so overwhelmed by someone else's emotions. The only time that came close were the feelings pouring out from my mother when we heard of my father's death. But then I was so insulated by my own numbness that I wasn't overwhelmed. But now, with my own feelings in tatters, Anna's feelings tore through my mind like a cyclone.
I felt her confusion, and saw through her blurry eyes as we looked down at me kneeling on the floor. I wondered why there were tears in my eyes, as I rubbed them from my own. "What's wrong?" I said reaching out to touch my cheek.
Vertigo swept through me as her touch snapped me back to my own thoughts and my own body. Her eyes were tender and loving as she looked at me, even as tracks of tears shone wetly on her cheeks. Her hurt, anger and self-doubt were replaced by confusion and overshadowed by love.
"I'm afraid," I said. I couldn't tell her why I was really afraid. How can you tell someone that you can read their mind? That you can control their thoughts? How could I tell the woman I love that she'd be safer a thousand miles away from me, even as I wanted her even closer than she was now?
"I'm afraid I'll lose control, I'm afraid I'll hurt you." I never knew if I said it out loud, or projected the thought into her mind. I saw a hundred thoughts race through her mind, thoughts that I was trying to let her down easy, thoughts about a joke to allay my fears, thoughts about taking the warning seriously. As her mind worked on interpreting what I said, I watched as her thoughts coalesced. She decided to trust her original instincts on the kind of man I was, that I had spoken honestly. She believed that I honestly thought I'd hurt her, but she didn't agree with what I thought.
She knelt down, her knees on either side of mine. It was an awkward position, with her nearly sitting on my lap as I knelt on the floor. But it allowed her to hold me against her. She cooed gently to me, her thoughts only on giving me comfort and showing her acceptance and love. I cried on her shoulder, damning myself for being too weak.
She was still confused, but she refused to dwell on that. She'd made her decision, and her decision was to love me. If only I'd loved her enough to leave her hurt and confused. But, I needed her, more than anything or anyone I'd ever known. From the first moment my mind touched her mind, I needed her.
"Anna, will you marry me?" I asked. It came from somewhere deep inside. I said it with the same longing and simple need of the Valentine's that say, "be mine." I finally understood why my mother died two days after my father, why my grandfather had gone crazy when my grandmother died. Their marriages weren't about the legal and religious trappings; they were about possession of each other's hearts. I had to give Anna the choice, before my powers made her decision to love me irrevocable.
I used all my will to keep my powers in check. I would not unfairly influence her decision. I wouldn't use my powers to answer her questions before she decided to ask them.
"We can wait to have sex," she said, although her tone turned it into a question. I could only guess that she thought I wanted to wait until I was married to have sex.
"It's not about sex," I answered. I paused and thought about it some more, wanting to explain. "I lo—" I stammered, unable to say the three simple words. "It's not about the sex. It's, it's the passion I feel. You make my emotions go haywire. Not just when we kiss. But, when you thank me for... for buying you a milkshake, I want to buy you a thousand more. If I couldn't buy them, then I'd steal them, just for the look in your eyes and a simple 'thank-you.'"
I wanted to tell her I was dangerous. That I was perhaps the most dangerous person she'd ever know, but I couldn't. She'd never believe me. Instead, I continued, "And I know you feel the same way. I see you light up when I stop by to see you. I hear tone in your voice when you speak to me, that you don't use for anyone else."
She looked at me, and she was crying. "Please, speak plainly. I don't want to hear about milkshakes," she said. She gave me a stern look for a second, "which you better never steal." I thought the look in her eyes turned to one of need and I felt myself reaching out with my powers to check. But I managed to stop myself, barely.
I stopped because I loved her, and it was time I admitted it. "Anna, I love you. I fell in love the first time I saw you, and have grown more in love every day since."
She wrapped her arms around me and squeezed. She squeezed so hard that her shoulder pressed into my throat was choking me. But when I heard her murmur into my ear, "I love you," I knew I would die a happy man. She eventually pulled back, and I tried not to reveal how close I was to suffocating.
"But why marriage? Isn't love enough, for now?" she asked.
I looked into her eyes, and desperately wanted to tell her the truth. But no matter how wonderful a person I believed Anna to be; no matter how much she loved me, there was no way she could accept the truth. Instead I told her the closest thing I could, "Anna, I love you so much, that I have to make a decision, tonight. Either I set your heart free and go far away from you, or we become one, forever."
"I think you know how melodramatic you sound," she said. She thought for a moment before adding, "But, I really think you mean it. If I say no, you'll walk out that door and I'll never see you again." I could only nod mutely in response. She stood up, and walked to the window, sliding it open. A crisp breeze blew in, causing the candle on her desk to flicker.
She sat against the window sill, backlit by the moonlight. The winded gusted, lifting her fine hair around her. If her face hadn't been covered in deep shadows, I would have said she resembled an angel. Instead she seemed to be caught between two worlds. Or perhaps I was the one who was caught.
"I also don't think you believe in divorce. Until death do you part, right?" She half-laughed and added, "Now, I'm being melodramatic."
"No, merely dramatic," I said as I stood up. I wanted to go to her, but she seemed to want the space to make her decision. I realized no matter where I stood in her small dorm room, I would seem to tower over her. So, I sat on the corner of her bed and said, "There has never been a divorce in my family and it is not because they didn't believe in divorce. It was because their love was so strong that being separated would kill them."
The breeze chilled me while I waited for her to say something, or do something. Her only action was to wrap her arms around herself, to ward off the chill, or perhaps my words. Another gust of wind managed to blow out the candle, leaving us lit by only the moonlight. As the column of smoke twisted in the wind, she said, "You're serious, aren't you?"
"But, what if we don't love each other more everyday? I'm not even nineteen yet, you've only been nineteen for a month. Neither of us has any family left. What business do we have getting married?"
I stood up. Trying to decide whether it would be kinder to remove her memories of me, or avoid the potential risk. As I walked towards the door, I decided I'd caused enough harm and I would leave her mind alone.
"Wait," she said. It was so soft that I barely heard her. When I stopped, she said a bit louder, "I haven't said no, yet."
My heart leapt in my chest, but I knew the ordeal wasn't over yet. She walked slowly towards me, the breeze catching stray hairs and lifting them up to be lit by the moonlight. She stopped at arms reach, and studied my face. "If you walked out that door, where would you go?"
"Someplace—" I stopped and gave her a slight grin, "melodramatic."
"I would hate to say no, and have you crawl out into the woods, living like a hermit and cursing the world."
"I could always move to the Riviera, trying to replace love with a string of meaningless relationships with shallow women."
She took half a step closer and said, "I don't think you could have a meaningless relationship."
"I don't think I could live like a hermit, but if I couldn't have you, I would curse the world."
She was a half step closer, close enough that the stray strands of her hair tickled across my skin as they were lifted on the breeze. "Will you always love me?" she asked, her brief playfulness gone.
"Until my dying breath," I promised.
She took my hands in hers, looked me in the eyes and said, "I do." I was expecting a yes or a no, so I stood dumb for a moment. "As in, I take this man to be my husband," she explained.
"I do, take you to be my wife," I replied. She looked at me expectantly, and I leaned down and kissed her. As our lips touched, I felt a tingle run down my spine, and I knew she felt the same. There would be no paperwork, or religious ceremony, only our commitment and our love.
I kissed her again, wrapping my arms around her. She managed to work her arms under my half opened shirt, placing her cool hands on my bare back. She broke the kiss so she could place her head against my chest, simply hugging me. I felt her nervousness, and excitement. She surprised herself by being nervous, since she hadn't been nervous before we'd exchanged vows. She also realized her makeup must be a mess, and a hundred other little things that would make this less than perfect.
"Would you like a minute to freshen up?" I asked. She gave a half-giggle half-snort, and I realized she had been crying against my chest. She gave me a kiss, nodded and went toward the bathroom she shared with the next dorm room over. She turned on the light before closing the door, and the sudden brightness momentarily blinded me.
She closed the door and turned on the water in the sink. She splashed some water on her face, trying to convince herself she wasn't crazy, or silly, or a number of other things. As she looked herself in the mirror, she saw a condom poised on the edge of the sink. The girl in the other room had teased her, saying she might just need it tonight. She took the condom and threw it in the trash. She thought to herself that she didn't need a condom to have sex with her husband.
I shared her thrill at the thought of me being her husband, and then withdrew from her mind, giving her a few minutes to prepare herself in privacy. As my thoughts pulled away, the last thought I picked up was her wondering what I was doing while she was getting ready.
I felt a bit ashamed that I had been eavesdropping on her thoughts, instead of getting ready myself. I went to the window, and lowered the sash until just a slight breeze blew in. I looked at the stereo and the unlit candle, but decided against them. I looked at the bed, and decided to turn back the covers. I thought about waiting under them, but didn't want to seem too anxious. I took off my shoes and socks then decided to take off my shirt as well. After waiting another minute, I decided to take off my pants as well.
I stood at the foot of her bed, wearing nothing but my boxer shorts and a silly grin. It took all of my concentration not to pace the room, and a couple of times I found I was about to sit on the bed. I wanted to reach out to her, to make sure she hadn't snuck out the far bathroom door.
I was growing extremely restless when the light in the bathroom went out. The door slowly opened and I saw Anna standing there. She still had on the dress she'd worn to dinner, but she'd taken down her hair and brushed it so it fell straight down her back. She stepped into the room, pulling the door closed behind her.
She was still nervous as she stood before me, and I let her feel some of the love and desire that was coursing through me. She flushed, took another step towards me, and let her dress fall to the floor around her. He pale skin seemed to glow in the moonlight coming in the window. My eyes drank in the curves of her body, the dark pink of her nipples and the near invisible golden curls forming a triangle between her legs. I took a quick step forward, but slowed my approach as her eyes widened in trepidation.
As I took the four slow steps toward her, I saw goose bumps form on her skin, and her nipples tighten. I stood before her, anxious to touch her, but afraid of doing something wrong and ruining the moment. She reached up and placed a hand on my chest. Her other hand touched my neck and pulled me towards her. I bent down and kissed her.
As we kissed it was the most natural thing in the world to lift her into my arms and carry her to the bed. I slid her between the sheets and flowed in after her. I felt her chilled skin against my body, and felt her press against me for warmth and merely to be closer to me.