“Regillion, why do you sleep with so many candles burning?” Nevaeh asked, walking into his room.
A snarled curse and a string of colorfully illustrated swear words came from his bed. “DON’T just walk in like that!” He yelled.
“Don’t use that language around me or I’ll wash your mouth out with soap.”
“–without warning me first!” He finished. “And I dare you to wash my mouth out.” He added after a pause.
Nevaeh glanced around his fully lit room. He should be asleep by now. Instead he was reading, but even then he didn’t need…
She counted all the candles he had lit. Thirty-seven. He did not need thirty-seven candles lit all over his room to read before he went to sleep.
“You still haven’t answered my question.” She said.
“And I’m not going to.”
“Because I don’t have to.” He gave her an irritating smirk.
He’d been a jerk all day. More of a jerk than usual. She sighed.
“For ever more, Regillion. Do you seriously sleep with all thirty-seven candles alight all night?”
He frowned. “Thirty-seven? Three must have gone out.”
“YOU KEEP FORTY CANDLES BURNING EVERY NIGHT?!?” She yelled at him.
His eyes turned stormy. “Yes.” His voice just dared her to yell at him again.
She pressed her lips together and glared icily at him. He glared back over the top of his book. After several minutes his gaze dropped down to the page and he began reading again.
“Answer my question.” Nevaeh demanded cooly.
“No.” He didn’t even look up.
“REGILLION!!! You are INSUFFERABLE!”
He leaped out of his bed and was half way across the room to her before she could even realize he’d moved. Both his hands clamped around her neck and his burning coal black eyes were inches from her own. Her mouth opened to scream but she couldn’t make a sound. He’d never done anything like this before, he’d never been physically violent toward her at all.
“Shut. up. about my candles. And go. to. bed.” She felt his breath on her face and it wasn’t warm. In contrast to his eyes, it was like a cold northern wind was blowing on her skin.
“Regillion,” Her hands worked again his fingers, trying to pry them from her neck. He wasn’t squeezing, just holding her, trapped, in his iron strong grip. It was like an manacle has been locked around her neck. And despite his command, he didn’t release her.
Tears slipped from her eyes and she didn’t even notice. But he did. His scorching eyes followed each tear that tracked down her face. Disgusted with himself he finally shoved her back and turned away. He heard her gasp and out of the corner of her eye saw her hands holding her neck.
She’d come so far. She used to be scared of his shadow, and every other shadow in his castle as well. That was almost two years ago and she’d grown back into the princess he’d stalked before kidnapping her. And now he’d just half strangled her and she was staring at him like she’d done that first night, when he’d stolen her away from her father’s castle.
“Stop it!” It came out so wrong, that wasn’t what he’d wanted to say. She cringed and took another step back, turning her face away from him.
“Look, I’m sorry.” He snapped, his voice sour, taking a step toward her.
Her head jerked up and she gasped, retreating away from him. But he followed her, his steps even quicker than hers.
“Look, I’m SORRY!” He grabbed her arms and yanked her toward him so she would stop retreating away from him. “Nevaeh, STOP!”
She was fully crying now, her shoulder shaking with half-sobs, like they were being wrenched out of her body against her own will. And as he kept yelling at her, he only made it worse.
It was so wrong, he couldn’t make it stop, he couldn’t say ‘sorry’ the right way, her eyes were so scared and she was literally curled up into her self even though he was holding her shoulders and she was looking up at him.
Suddenly he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her to him. She gasped, holding her breath for a moment, as if waiting for him to hurt her again. Then, when he didn’t, when he only held her, her tears were fully unleashed and she sobbed into his nightshirt, her hands clinging desperately to the white material.
“I’m sorry, Nevaeh, I’m so sorry.” He whispered into her golden brown hair. “I didn’t… I don’t… ‘Vaeh, I’m so sorry, I don’t know why I did that.”
She nodded, her face pressed into his chest, letting him know she’d heard.
Once she calmed down, he led her over to the couch and sat down with her. She tried to stifle her tears, wiping her eyes and dapping her face with her sleeve, but they still trickled down steadily.
Regillion sat with his head in his hands; he couldn’t bare to look into her eyes. Those eyes… the eyes he’d just broken. The beautiful, strong will inside her that he’s just crushed and walked on.
“Nevaeh…” He tried to begin, but didn’t know where to start. He felt her hand on his shoulder and almost barked at her not to touch him, but he bit his tongue just in time. Let her touch him. That’s what she wanted. She wanted to know he was still accessible to her, that he hadn’t cut her off.
“Nevaeh, I’m sorry. Those candles… those stupid candles… I don’t…” No, he would NOT tell her why he didn’t like the dark. Why he was afra–NO! He was not afraid of the dark. No, he wasn’t. He just didn’t like it. When it was too dark– NO! He wouldn’t think about that. The dark… it warped his mood. It made him feel black down inside. That was true. Yes, that’s what he would tell her. The truth. Not a whole truth, no, but– NO! It was a whole truth. That was the reason. That was the ONLY reason why he didn’t like the dark. That was it. That was all. “I hate the dark.” He finally said. “It blackens my mood.”
Even though his eyes were closed, he knew when she’d opened her mouth to speak, then abruptly slammed it closed again. He sat up and grabbed her hand.
“No, say it.” He said.
She looked up at him startled. “Say what?” She managed.
“Whatever you were going to say, say it.”
Her gaze dropped to her lap. “If it… if it… blackens your mood… when you’re asleep… you don’t have a mood while you’re asleep.”
I do. He thought roguishly. “Because I can’t snuff them out after I go to sleep.”
A weak smile crossed her lips. “I could–”
“No, I don’t like anyone coming in after I’m asleep.”
A gush of memories tried to assault his mind. He clamped his eyes closed, blocking them out. “I just don’t.” His voice was strained, thin.
Her cool palm cupped the side of his face and his jaw, her other hand hesitantly stroking his hair. “I’m sorry.” He whispered again, his eyes remaining closed.
“Shh,” Her soft voice soothed. “It’s okay. I’m sorry I made you mad.”
“You didn’t!” He yelled again before he could stop himself. He saw the battle inside of her as she tried not to pull away from him. He pushed her hands away from his face and got up. “I’m sorry. Nevaeh… just… go to bed. I’m…”
“I know. I’m sorry.”
“STOP APOLOGI–Nevaeh, no, I’m sorry! Nevaeh!” He grabbed her arm before she could run away.
She shook her head violently, fighting against more tears. “No, no, Regillion, no. We both… we both just need to go to bed and forget about it. I’m so–” She bit her tongue and flinched, remembering his vehement warning against apologizing. “I’ll… I’ll see you in the morning.” Detaching his hand from her arm, she went out, closing the door behind her.