DISCLAIMER: the characters don't belong to me, but to Katherine Brooks. I'm just borrowing them for a while. After I'm done toying with them, I'll give them back in one piece, I promise *evil laugh* Please don't sue, all I have left in my wallet is a couple of Euros. Really not worth the hassle.
WARNING: 1: English isn't my mother tongue, so you'll probably encounter a lot of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes along the way. It's my way of annoying the hell out of everyone lol. 2: I haven't seen the movie yet, I'm anxiously counting the days for the DVD to come out. Anyway, this means that I had to rely on other people's detailed plot spoilers to get this thing written. So erm Sorry for plot mistakes you might encounter. 3: I've added things to scenes, just because I can mwuhahahaha. Nah, did it because I wanted to explain things and so forth ..
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
THANKS: to my Beta for all the help.
All Over Me
Her emotional catharsis at the beach house and the subsequent drive home in total silence, not really knowing how to act or what to say to Annabelle how do you thank your pupil for being there at your most vulnerable?-, left Simone distraught and wrung out. Who knew it would take a seventeen year old to cut through all the crap and make her emotional walls come crashing down? Who knew Annabelle, in the eyes of the law still very much a minor, would be mature enough to recognise her pain and piece together the story behind her sadness, when neither Emaculata nor Michael ever could, despite the obvious clues? She had kept her heart under lock and key for so many years, keeping her wild side hidden under a veneer of respectability and conventionality, keeping everyone at bay out of fear of getting hurt again. She went even as far as starting a relationship with Michael, knowing it would be unfulfilling, both emotionally and physically, just because he was safe. He didn't pose a threat to the emotional walls she had erected around herself.
She was so used to people respecting her boundaries and protective shields that the ease with which Annabelle had penetrated them had startled her, yes even scared her. Annabelle could read her so accurately; Simone didn't know whether it was natural intuition or simply personal experience, all she knew was that the special bond she seemed to share with the young woman had her spooked, so she did the only thing she could: she ran. She desperately wanted to go back to the way things used to be, before Annabelle came along. Tucked away in her safe little world without emotional demands, without threats to her heart, mind and soul . But everything had irrevocably changed.
Sitting up in the bathtub, hoping the lukewarm water would chase away the inner chill that her emotional turmoil had brought, Simone picked up the well thumbed picture of Amanda. "The real voyage of discovery consists not of seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes" was the advice she had given Annabelle and though she had been surprised to be given the advice back, she supposed Annabelle had been right. It was time for her to look at her past with different eyes, the confrontation at the beach house finally giving her the emotional maturity to do so. Taking a deep breath, she looked at the picture with the mindset of a stranger and for the first time since Amanda's death, she didn't feel that all searing pain. She could feel the strong love she still had for Amanda, but bubbling underneath the surface was also a mixture of anger, regret and hope. Anger at being left behind, forced to deal with it all on her own, regret at having a future together stolen away from her in the blink of an eye, but hidden away in that undercurrent of negativity, there was also hope.
For the first time, she realised that she couldn't cling to the past any longer, that she needed to carve out her own future, without Amanda's ghost shackling her down. It was time to say goodbye, only then could she move forward to a future unknown. Tenderly rubbing her thumb over Amanda's smiling face, she whispered: "after you left, I felt so lost without you. I just fell apart. My whole world came crashing down and I couldn't take it anymore. I felt I was going slightly mad, that I was slowly losing my mind. I just missed you so much. I was angry with you for a long time for leaving me behind, for that cowardly goodbye, for not fighting harder I even thought about joining you for a while, but I never did. Instead I closed myself off and buried myself right here at Saint Theresa's, surrounded by memories. I know we always talked about leaving Saint Theresa's as soon as we could but without you I couldn't see the point. I needed to be near you. Not a day went by that I didn't think of you, I heard your laughter everywhere I went, I even thought I saw you a couple of times, only to find out I was mistaken.
You always said that I was the strong one, but you couldn't have been further from the truth. I've been hiding like a frightened child, closing myself off to everyone and everything. Sure, I love teaching, making a difference to these childrens lives, but . I've just been punishing myself, forcing myself to live with my haunting memories out of love, guilt, I don't know . I haven't kept my promise to you, that I'd rebuild my life if ever something happened to you. I've realised that I haven't been living, merely existing. I can't keep living in the past, I have to live in the present, have to make plans for the future. It's time for me to let you go. I want to be happy again, I want to live again and I can't do that as long as I keep holding on to you and what could have been. So I guess what I'm saying is goodbye. I'll always love you, you'll be in my heart and thoughts forever, but I've got to let go of the past, I've got to let go of you." With a final glance at the photograph, Simone let it slide into the water.
Her room covered in a veil of darkness, Simone sat up in her bed, her inner turmoil reigning high again. Annabelle was at the forefront of her thoughts, day and night and in all honesty, it frightened her to death. This was so much more than a simple case of lust; she knew how to handle lust, there were ways. No doubt Emaculata would prescribe a truck load of Hail Maries, but personally she preferred a more hands on approach. But that wasn't the case here, it was so much more than that. Though she desperately wanted to, in the solitude and relative safety of her own bedroom she couldn't deny that Annabelle was doing something to her, something deep inside. She was stirring up feelings she thought to be long forgotten, buried beneath the icy exterior and almost clinical detachment she had adopted so long ago in order to survive.
Though Annabelle was making her feel again, little by little chipping away the brick wall she had built around her heart, Simone knew nothing could ever come of it. However much she might want to, she knew she couldn't allow this to go any further. Annabelle was far too young, she was her pupil, it was against the law, she was with Michael, . It would be the biggest scandal. Besides, she needed to protect, not only Annabelle but also herself. She couldn't afford giving someone her heart, only to have it ripped out again, she was sure she wouldn't survive a second time. Annabelle would get over it, she was still young, she'd bounce back . Yet every time that Simone tried to justify keeping her distance, something Annabelle said or did made her melt all over again: her comforting, protective embrace when she broke down at the beach house, crying on her shoulder, the way her embrace had even lasted through the night, consoling Collins after her pet porcupine had died, her dignified acceptance of Emaculata's preposterous punishment in order to keep true to her beliefs and feelings .
Annabelle Tillman, rebellious senator's daughter, born with a silver spoon in hand, stirring up trouble wherever she went. That's how the world viewed her, but Annabelle was so much more than that. The 'spoilt little rich kid' tag didn't do her justice. From personal experience Simone knew exactly how lonely Annabelle's childhood had been. Perhaps materialistically she had everything she could ever want or need, but she was denied the one thing she truly craved: her mother's love and approval. That's what you really want and need, your parents' attention and from what Simone had seen so far the senator even denied her daughter the odd phone call. Annabelle's rebellion was just a reaction ho her mother's indifference. She had realised that she could never live up to the senator's expectations - no matter how hard she tried, it would never be enough for her mother - so she simply gave up, no longer trying to get her mother to acknowledge her existence. Deciding to keep honour to herself, she started carving out her own path, following her own rules, her mother's norm, either to make her proud or to be unseen, far too stifling for Annabelle.
That didn't make it hurt any less though; Annabelle might act all tough, Simone saw right through that, she knew it was just a pose. Beneath all that macho defiance and self assured, cocky attitude, Annabelle was a vulnerable, sweet and sensitive soul, looking for love and affection. Perhaps that's why they shared such a strong bond? Perhaps that's why Annabelle understood her so well? However close they were, Simone feared that they were destined to be ships that pass in the night, so close, yet not close enough, only a look and a voice, then darkness again and silence. Her musings interrupted by stockinged footsteps outside her door, she looked up; somehow she just knew it was Annabelle and that knowledge made her heart quench. Frozen in place, she held her breath, only to release a shaky sigh when the person walked off again, unclear to herself whether it was a sigh or relief or of regret.
All this thinking was getting her nowhere. She knew she was falling in love with Annabelle and although her heart was screaming 'go for it", she knew she should listen to her head and fight her feelings. There was simply now way they could be together, not now. Every time she was near Annabelle though, the young woman managed to capture yet another piece of her heart, so the only solution was to break off all personal contact with her. Only that way could she remain in control, only that way could she keep holding on to her heart and her sanity. The gloomy black and white of night reinforcing the notion that there really was no middle way, it was all or nothing and sadly it had to be nothing, Simone sighed deeply, grieving the love that couldn't be.
Paraphrasing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 'Tales of a Wayside in"
It was movie night in the dorm and Annabelle was lingering at the back. Truth be told, she wasn't really interested in the stupid teen flick, but she had shown up anyway, realising that Simone would be there too. She wanted, no needed, to be close to her, but Simone had made it a point of ignoring her these past couple of days, avoiding her eyes, never calling on her and the outright rejection hit her hard. At first she had been okay with Simone's emotional withdrawal, thinking that perhaps the older woman needed some space, some time on her own to work things through and Annabelle wanted to give her that, resolving to wait until Simone came to her. But she was tired of waiting, she didn't wait well. She thought that if she'd just give Simone some time to come to terms with her feelings- the loss of Amanda and her burgeoning love for Annabelle Simone would come to her, but she was taking far too long. She was denying their connection, she was letting her head rule her heart again and Annabelle couldn't take it any longer. She needed to be near her, she needed to touch her, she needed to feel her again.
Gazing at Simone, she felt lust, frustration, love, tenderness, confusion and uncertainty war within her. She settled down directly behind her and felt a hot rush of love and desire course through her, butterflies fluttering wildly in her stomach at her mere nearness, the smallest hint of Simone's perfume driving her wild. Creeping even closer, she watched goose bumps appear on Simone's skin, realising that the older woman wasn't as unaffected as she made out to be. Looking at Simone's profile, it suddenly hit her how much she loved her. She had never felt like this before, not even with her girlfriend. How did Neruda put it again?
I do not love you...
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
that this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
She needed to touch her, being near her wasn't enough to quell her hunger. Annabelle knew it was risky, but she couldn't help herself, she had been without Simone's touch for far too long. Slowly advancing her fingers towards Simone's outstretched hand, she let them trail over her soft skin, her fingertips tenderly caressing the top of her hand, the touch so finger light and fleeting, yet rocking her to the core. And then it was over, Simone moving her hand away, looking around to see whether anyone had noticed, the rejection sending her to depths of despair, especially as Simone left.
Feeling Annabelle behind her, Simone tenses, afraid the other students might see them and witness their closeness, witness how utterly weak she was when it came to Annabelle. Feeling Annabelle's breath on the back of her neck, she shivered as desire coursed through her, feeling goose bumps appear. Knowing she couldn't jump up without attracting everyone's attention, she sat still, desperately hoping that Annabelle wouldn't do anything more, but at the same time praying that she would. She had told herself over and over again to keep her distance, to stay away, but . couldn't she give in for one second, just one second? She craved Annabelle's touch on her skin, her thoughts in her head, her words on her lips and then there it was, Annabelle's fleeting caress, sending an electrical surge of heat and desire through her, making her feel alive again. And for a moment, she was perfectly happy . Until someone coughed, breaking the spell and making her tumble back into reality again, the reality of a dozen students perhaps watching her every move. Snatching her hand away, she felt her phone vibrate, Michael's incoming message adding to her guilt.
Knowing that she needed to put an end to this charade before she hurt him even more, Simone agreed to meet up with Michael. Their initial conversation stilted and awkward, silence now reigned over the car, the radio a soft background murmur. As she stared outside the window into the ink black night, their emotional and physical distance couldn't be bigger, Simones mind on Annabelle once more. She could still feel the light tingling in the pit of her stomach at her being near, the electrical shockwaves that surged through her at the feather light touch, the memory of Annabelles warm breath at the nape of her neck making her quiver with lust and desire once more. The mere thought of Annabelle was making her yearn, like Eve in the garden of Eden she wanted to taste the forbidden fruit and the impossibility of it all was breaking her heart. As the song on the radio drifted into her mind, she had to swallow a strangled sob.
Young girl, get out of my mind
My love for you is way out of line
Better run, girl
You're much too young girl
With all the charms of a woman
You've kept the secret of your youth
You led me to believe
You're old enough
To give me love
And it hurts to know the truth
So lost in thought, so focused on her heartache and pain, she didn't realise Michael had pulled to a stop in front of the school. As he leant in for a kiss, all Simone could think about was Annabelle and how she longed to feel the velvety softness of her lips on her own, how she wanted to close her eyes and completely immerse herself in that kiss, slowly caressing her body and feel her quiver beneath her touch. As in slow motion she watched him come closer and overcome with apprehension and guilt, she turned away from him, leaving him hurt and confused about her sudden withdrawal.
Looking over, seeing the pain so clearly etched on his face, Simone felt a stab of guilt and regret go through her. It pained her to do this to him, he was a good man, he deserved better than this. He had been her safety buoy, he had kept her sane when her whole world was falling apart. Though her burgeoning love for Annabelle could never lead to anything, it wasn't fair on him to continue this farce. Attracted to the veneer of respectability and normalcy he offered, she had allowed herself to become involved, thinking that perhaps she could learn to love him, but that wasn't how love worked. Though she hated hurting him, the best thing to do was to end it right here.
Michael had always felt that there was something fundamentally wrong with their relationship, that Simone was holding a big part of herself back, that she wasn't giving him her all. He felt that he could barely scratch the surface; as soon as he wanted to reach deeper, touch her heart and soul, she clamed up on him, shutting him out. He knew that she didn't love him as much as he loved her, it was painfully clear in her body language, but he had hoped, perhaps against all hope, that she would learn to love him, but as her latest rejection painfully showed, it wasn't meant to be. He couldn't continue fighting windmills, he was at a point in his life where he wanted stability, a family. Swallowing his heartache and pain, he whispered emotionally: "I want to be with somebody who knows they want to be with me."
Reaching out her hand, rubbing her fingers along his cheek in a tender caress of goodbye, showing him more affection now that during their whole relationship, she replied: "I want that for you too."
Song: young girl Gary Pucket and the Union Gap
Back in the sanctity of her room, Simone sank down on her couch, the highs and lows of that evening leaving her emotionally drained. Absentmindedly rubbing the cross around her neck between two fingers, a gesture she did automatically whenever she was nervous or needed inner strength, she thought about the huge step she had just taken, freeing herself from the false sense of security being with Michael had provided. Suddenly she became aware of what she was doing and looking down, she put the cross in the palm of her hand, just staring at it, realising that as long as she kept wearing it, she was hiding behind another false sense of security.
Though rationally she had said goodbye to Amanda, come to terms with her sudden death a couple of days ago at the beach house, emotionally she hadn't been ready to take the necklace off yet. Taking it off would have meant standing on her own two feet, leaving her vulnerable, open to new pain, but now she realised she couldn't postpone it any longer, it was time to let go completely. Closing her hand over the cross, savouring its warmth for the last time, she reached behind her to open the clasp. Still holding the silver cross in her closed hand, she walked over to the wooden chest. Slowly opening her hand, she reverently picked the necklace up and put it in the chest, along with all her other memories of Amanda, determined not to let haunting ghosts of the past guide her life any longer.
The moment Annabelle walked inside the classroom and saw Simone standing behind her desk, so totally focused on her lecture notes, she felt her heart skip a beat. She just stood there, unmoving, staring at her, barely able to breathe as the enormity of her feelings washed over her. Weak with desire, she took her seat, her fingers suddenly trembling, her eyes never leaving Simones form. Throughout the whole class, she couldn't concentrate on anything but Simone, tracking her every movement with her eyes, trying to absorb every detail: the way the sun made her hair seem lighter, the way the light danced across her face, the way her blue eyes twinkled with joy as she explained the writer's poetic choice of words. The whole world seemed to fade away, the only thing she could hear was Simones soft, husky voice and she imagined hearing it early in the morning, whispering sweet nothings in her ear and the thought made her shiver.
Her breath shaky every time Simone passed by, she tried to catch her eye, feeling her heart constrict and sink when Simone refused to look in her direction. They were so close, yet they couldn't be further apart. Didn't she know how much she loved her? Didn't she know how much she needed her? Couldn't she feel the weight of her stare? Didn't she realise that a single smile would help her through another day? Simone acted like she wanted to forget, pretend that they didn't share something special and every little denial of 'them' broke her heart a little more. Simones denial was tearing her apart. She could see her, but she couldn't touch her; she could hear her, but she couldn't hold her. She wanted her, but she couldn't have her Simone wouldn't let her. She couldn't let anyone else witness how much Simones indifference was hurting her, she felt completely alone and miserable.
As the school bell rang and the other bundled through the door, Annabelle slowly rose from her seat. Knowing that the only way she would get an answer to her questions was to corner Simone, force her hand as it were, she walked up to Simones desk. She deserved to know where they stood, she couldn't take much more of this. One moment they were incredibly close, the other Simone was clamming up again, pushing her away. Determined to find out Simones feelings and intentions, yet at the same time scared to death of the answer, she hugged her books tightly to her chest, as if shielding herself against yet another rejection. Her eyes unable to conceal the pain she felt inside, she waited for Simone to acknowledge her presence, but when the older woman refused to look up, she asked: "why won't you talk to me?" As Simone still didn't look her in the eye, she continued: "you haven't said a word to me in two weeks."
Simone had known this conversation would come and though she had rehearsed her reply over and over again in her mind, it didn't make it any easier. She had no choice but to hurt Annabelle, there was no way they could be together, no matter how much they both might want it. Perhaps voicing this out loud would help? Perhaps this way, she'd finally start believing it herself? Perhaps out loud the words wouldn't sound so much as an outright lie? Avoiding Annabelle hadn't helped at all, she always felt Annabelle's piercing stare and it made her shiver, it rocked her to the core. She had so little willpower where Annabelle was concerned. Perhaps rejecting her face to face would push the young woman far enough away to leave her willpower unthreatened?
Slowly closing her eyes, she bit her lip, absolutely hating herself for what she was about to do. Straightening up as she plucked up the courage to deliver Annabelle that final blow, she closed the desk drawer with a thud, the sharp sound cutting through the absolute silence that had fallen. Finally looking Annabelle in the eyes, feeling a stab of pain at the hurt, sorrow and anguish she found in there, she said "I can't do this", pleading with Annabelle to understand. When Annabelle replied that they weren't doing anything wrong, she repeated, a little more forcefully: "I CAN'T do this."
A piercing pain shooting through her, Annabelle locked her eyes with Simone's, seeing her own pain mirrored in there. Having noticed the lack of necklace earlier, realising just how much that must have taken from Simone, Annabelle didn't want to add to the older woman's distress and hid the excruciating pain she felt at hearing those words, determined not to let Simone see how much she was hurting right then. With a short nod, she turned around and quickly walked out of the classroom, wanting to keep pride to herself, needing to lick her wounds in private, needing her tears to go unnoticed.
Seeing right through Annabelle's strong façade, experiencing the same pain and anguish, Simone hugged herself close, the joyous sparkle that had warmed her life since meeting Annabelle evaporating, making her feel cold, deserted and alone again. As tears started to flow, she pressed her hand to her mouth to suppress her sobs. Feeling rather than hearing someone come in, she tried to steel herself, forcing a mask of indifference to appear.
"Is something to matter?" Emaculata asked, having witnessed part of the exchange.
"I'm fine," Simone quickly replied, her clenched fists belying that statement.
"I'd like to think if something were wrong, if you needed anything, you would come to me," Emaculata said.
"No, I don't need anything," Simone replied, knowing that there was no way she could talk to her aunt about the emotional turmoil she was going through right now. Her aunt would never understand her attraction to Annabelle, she hadn't even noticed her love for Amanda all those years ago. Emaculata might think that she had controlled her, tamed her as it were by her strict ruling, nothing could be further from the truth. Simone had simply stopped living after Amanda's death and Emaculata had never even noticed.
Sleepwalking through the rest of the day, Annabelle attempted to focus on the classes to avoid thinking about Simones rejection, but to no avail . Her mind kept drifting back to "I can't do this", the words repeating over and over again in her head, getting distorted and twisted, pushing the knife in just that little bit further. She just wanted to curl up and cry, but she had to sit through endless hours of trigonometry, history and sociology before she could escape to a world of her own. She didn't even have a PE class today to work off her frustration. Throwing her books on the desk, not even caring that they toppled to the ground, she plopped down on her bed and sighed heavily, throwing her arm over her eyes, trying to shield out the rest of the world, tears of sadness slowly meandering their way down her cheeks.
For a long time she just stared at the ceiling, the peace and quiet of the empty bedroom giving her time to reflect on everything that had happened. Her silent contemplation interrupted by Collins, Kristen and Cat entering the bedroom, Cat obviously in a foul mood again, throwing barbs at Collins, Annabelle sat up, making sure all traces of her dried up tears were gone before adopting a vaguely bored expression. Wanting to be left to her own devices, rather difficult when you shared a room with three other girls, Annabelle picked up her notebook. Usually when she felt that she couldn't handle it anymore, she tried to make sense of her inner turmoil and confusion by writing it down, making a song out of it, the writing a good therapy to get her thoughts and feelings straightened out in her head.
The funny thing was . She knew Simone felt something for her, in all her rejections, whether in words or by simple avoidance tactics, Simone had never said that she didn't like her, that she didn't love her. On the contrary even, the way Simone refused to look her in the eye, the way she had thrown her a pleading look when she uttered the dreaded words, it told Annabelle that Simone in fact did feel strongly about her, and she just refused to do anything about it. Annabelle knew that the older woman was scared and perhaps not without reason, but she couldn't let fear rule her life. Didn't Simone know that fear would become her prison if she went on like this? She had to risk stepping out of its shadow to allow herself to feel free again. What was Simone so afraid of anyway? Was she afraid this was just a teenage crush for Annabelle, a simple infatuation for an older, idealised woman? A fad that would end as soon as it began? Was she afraid it was all just a game for Annabelle, a way to live up to her 'bad girl' reputation? Was she afraid what others might say or think? Was she afraid of what their love would do to her career or the lifestyle changes it implied?
Though Annabelle could understand how Simone could be afraid of the teacher/pupil aspect of their relationship, she had to admit that was a bit of a conundrum, she somehow thought it was a more fundamental fear that held Simone in a vice like grip. Simones past still had a big influence over her life; every time emotions got too much to handle, every time a situation got too hard, she walked away, trying to minimise the potential heartache. The loss of Amanda had been so devastating, distressing and painful that she never wanted to go through that again. She built emotional walls around herself, pushing everyone away who got too close, too afraid of ending up hurt again.
Opening up completely to someone, letting someone know her innermost thoughts and fears as simply inconceivable to her. It was much too dangerous; it would leave her in a far too precarious and vulnerable position. She needed to protect herself, hold onto her perceived self control. She was running away from her own nakedness, her own vulnerability, from being swallowed up by something more powerful. Simply put, Simone was so scared of the power Annabelle held over her heart that she didn't even want to give them a chance to be happy, she simply ran away. She didn't realise the paradox of her behaviour: so afraid of ending up hurt, she didn't allow them to even begin. Desperately wanting to avoid pain, she made them both miserable.
Knowing that it was Simones fear that was keeping them apart, Annabelle vowed to show her that her angst was unfounded, that she'd be there for her no matter what, that she was in this for the long haul, to protect and shelter her from harm, to hold her, love and cherish her but no matter how she tried, she couldn't translate it to words. All she could hear was 'I can't do this' over and over again, Simones face haunting her, her one sided decision to end it ripping her apart. How could she just be her friend? Didn't she realise that every time she'd see her, she'd fall to pieces? Time would only add to the flame.
Her pain was so fresh, so raw that when Cat started taunting her, every little jibe felt like a knife through the heart. Though she realised that Cat was deliberately trying to provoke her out of jealousy and spite, that she needed to be the bigger person and walk away, just like she did last time in the cafeteria, she couldn't. Her temper and patience shortened by her sorrow and pain, she jumped out of bed and advanced on Cat, ordering her to cut it out once more. When Cat didn't listen but decided to twist the knife even further by making a disparaging remark about her music, Annabelle just saw red and gave Cat a shove.
This was what Cat had been waiting for; her anger at being rejected by Annabelle fuelling her on, she started shoving, punching and pushing her, not listening to Kristen's yells or Collins' screams, not even noticing the other girls of the dorm gathering in the room, chanting 'fight, fight, fight'. All she wanted to do was punish Annabelle, nobody rejected her without getting away with it and it was high time the high and mighty Annabelle Tillman realised that. She was the queen bitch around here. Pinned to her bed, Annabelle desperately tried to fend off Cat's flailing arms, the other girls crazed attack totally out of proportion. Cats fist connecting with her nose, she felt blood slowly trickle down, the slightly metallic pang heightening her senses, the physical pain only adding to her emotional anguish.
The ruckus alarming her, Simone fought her way through a hallway of chanting girls to get into the dorm room, the sight of a teacher soon dispersing the crowd. As she watched Cat paw into Annabelle ferociously, intent on inflicting as much pain as possible, her steps faltered for a moment, her heart bleeding at Annabelle's pain, though she fully realised the emotional pain she had inflicted earlier was undoubtedly bigger. Peeling Cat off Annabelle's lithe form, she watched Annabelle touch her nose, their eyes locking for a moment, Annabelles defeated, beaten look making her heart break, the sight of Annabelles blood tearing her apart. All she wanted to do was wrap her up in cotton wool and keep her in a safe place, she'd do anything to protect her. Before she could say or do anything however, Annabelle was out the door. Running after her, she pleaded: "Annabelle .. Annabelle, let me see."
Embarrassed about her weakness, not wanting to see the pity and disappointment in Simone's eyes, Annabelle just fled the room, wanting to get away, wanting to lick her wounds on her own. Hearing Simone pleas, she stops her mad dash down the stairs and turns to face her. Her anger was way beyond boiling point, fuelled by embarrassment. She realised it wasn't particularly big of her, but at that moment, she didn't really care; all she wanted to do was hurt Simone, just like everyone else was hurting her, so she hissed bitterly "don't touch me", before fleeing once again, leaving Simone rooted to the floor.
Paraphrasing 'I fall to pieces' Patsy Cline
Later that evening, Simone sits crying in her bathtub, Annabelle's bitter rejection a stab to the heart. Though she realised that it was probably for the best, all she wanted to do was wrap her arms around the younger woman and kiss away her pain and tears, comfort and console her, much like Annabelle had done while at the beach house.
Simone wasn't looking forward to tonight's dance; keeping an eye on overly hormonal teenagers, intent on spiking the drink and sneaking off for a quick fumble in the bushes not her idea of fun. The girls would all be standing to one side, dressed to the nines and marinating in perfume, giggling as they graded the Saint Paul boys and pointing out the fashion faux pas, tapping their feet to the beat as they secretly hoped the boy of their dreams would ask them for a dance and perhaps even more. The boys would be standing to the other side, doing their best to look cool and collected, but secretly wiping their clammy hands on their pants as they mustered up the courage to cross the great divide and ask a girl to dance, mortified by the possible rejection, but spurred on by their friends' dares. The nerve wrecking teenage mating game at its best; perhaps fascinating to witness from a psychological point of view, but ultimately boring and tedious. Besides she had other things to worry about.
Simone knew that Michael was going to be there and as they hadn't spoken since their break up, she didn't really know what to expect, except perhaps forced, awkward politeness. And then there was Annabelle. Still reeling from Annabelle's bitter, angry reaction on the staircase, they had both made it a point of avoiding each other and though it was what she wanted (or so she thought), their loss of intimacy was tearing her apart. She couldn't deny their connection, their shared bond any longer; she had to admit, even if it was just to herself, that she was attracted to Annabelle, that she loved her. And though breaking off all personal contact had been her idea in the first place, her way of protecting her heart, Annabelle's recent physical and emotional distance was killing her inside. Though she had fought it so hard, she craved Annabelle's nearness. And now there was this dance .
Perhaps it was a rather juvenile venue of love and romance, but still amidst soft music, slow dances and blossoming young love, she'd be forced to watch from afar, relegated to the sidelines. Look but don't touch, yearn but keep an impassive face, love but from afar and it would be hard, so hard. Only now could she fully understand what Romeo and Juliet, Pyramus and Thisbe and so many others had gone through, only now could she empathise with their pain and anguish. Though there were no feuding families here, societal norms and professional ethics made their love equally impossible and it was breaking her heart. Were they like Romeo and Juliet, star crossed lovers, destined to be apart. Should she take head of their Fates?
Though she had wondered briefly if Annabelle would even show up at the dance, she had been keeping her distance these past few days after all, Simone somehow knew that Annabelle was going to be there and that knowledge was making her heart beat faster. Although she would vehemently deny it when questioned, she dressed accordingly, trying on several dressed before finally settling on a very sexy, white laced one. Then another thought struck her, leaving a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. What if Annabelle didn't want her anymore? What if she was tired of her indecision? Would she be able to handle seeing Annabelle, watching her laughing and dancing with someone else? The mere thought consumed her with jealousy, her fists clenching at her side, but then she remembered the prayer beads. To her they proved that Annabelle wasn't that shallow, that her feelings weren't that fickle; when she loved someone, she loved them completely. Giving herself a final look in the mirror, Simone left for the dance, butterflies fluttering in her stomach at the thought of seeing Annabelle again.
Blocking out Kristen's enthusiastic ramblings about the yummyness of the Saint Paul boys and ignoring the venomous stares Cat kept throwing her, Annabelle sat down beside Collins on her bed. Taking her hand and giving it a light squeeze, she whispered soft words of encouragement and reassurance to the nervous and self doubting girl, convincing her that she looked great in that dress. When Collins offered her a watery smile, she got up and walked over to the vanity to put the final touches to her make up. As Kristen and Cat bundled out of the door, pushing and shoving each other as they wanted to arrive first at the dance to have the pick of the boys, Annabelle locked eyes with Collins and gave her a thumbs up, watching her as she closed the door behind her. Alone at last, Annabelle heaved a big sigh of relief; she needed the peace and quiet to mentally prepare herself for this dance. Would it be another night of frustration and unrequited love or would Simone finally give in to her desire?
Still smarting over Simone's heartbreaking rejection and the subsequent fight with Cat, she had kept her distance these past couple of days, needing time to lick her wounds. She had hoped that, if she'd give Simone some space to come to term with their changing relationship, some time to work things through, Simone would realise what she was missing out on, what she was giving up. She hoped Simone would seek her out, but nothing. Simone was taking far too long and Annabelle realised that it might take the older woman a whole lot longer, debating with herself, living in self denial and Annabelle was just so sick and tired of the wait. She had pushed down her more predatory instincts where it came to Simone and it had gotten her nowhere. It was high time for a change in tactics; she needed to embrace her inner alpha and fight for what she believed in, fight for what she wanted. It was time to seduce Simone!
Determined to show Simone exactly what she was missing out on, she twisted her hair up, keeping it in place with stylish chop sticks. Straightening out some imaginary creases in her very sexy, oriental styled silk red dress, she put on her favourite brown boots, just for luck and encouragement. Putting in her earrings, she gave herself a final once over in the mirror and as a determined look came on her face, she knew she was ready for battle. <Let the games begin>, she thought to herself as she got up and left the room, dressed to kill. Arriving at the dance, she stood in the doorway for a moment, her eyes scanning the dance hall in search of Simone. And then she saw her, a vision in white and Annabelle's heart started thumping faster, the smile on her face lighting up her eyes until she noticed Simone was dancing closely with a man, her arm around his shoulder. Pain seared through her and then, as if on cue, their eyes locked, Simone's expression so totally devoid of warmth and love that it sent chills to Annabelle's heart, her throat constricting. She felt she couldn't breathe. Her anguish was so excruciating that she had to get away, away from Simone, away from her heartache.
Talking to some other faculty members, leaning in closer to hear them over the band, who seemed to think that playing louder would get people on the dance floor, Simone suddenly felt someone walk up behind her. Turning around to face Michael, she heard him say "someone suggested that if we started dancing then maybe others will join in". As he chivalrously held out his hand to her, she felt everyone's approving nods of agreement and knew there wasn't a polite way to refuse him without raising suspicion, not wanting to voice the reason for their break up out loud. Though dancing with Michael was the very last thing she wanted to do, she reluctantly accepted his hand and allowed herself to be led to the dance floor, her annoyance plainly visible on her face for those that knew her well enough. As she was replying to his softly whispered words, she felt an intoxicating tingle down her spine, alerting her that Annabelle had arrived. Glancing over Michael's shoulder, Simone felt everything slow down to a stop, her heart thumping wildly in her chest as her eyes feasted on Annabelle. She felt frozen to the spot, gone were the others dancing around her, gone was the music . All she could see was Annabelle and how amazing she looked. Their eyes locked and dancing with Michael, Simone couldn't even let her know how much she craved her and before she knew it, in the blink of an eye, Annabelle was gone, leaving her alone as the cold of loneliness seeped through her again.
Her mind still reeling from what she had just witnessed, her emotions all over the place, Annabelle leaned against the railing and lit a cigarette, needing a smoke to calm her shattered nerves, needing some time to take it all in. As the nicotine rushed through her veins, she saw things more clearly and mentally berated herself for running away like that, like a spoilt little kid having a temper tantrum. So okay Simone dancing with some guy wasn't something she had considered when making her plans, but it was only a temporary set back. She had lost a battle, not the war. She just needed to convince Simone that she was lying to herself, denying her true feelings. Convincing herself that her flight was actually a good tactical decision, a retreat to adapt her strategies, she began to think about her next course of action.
Brought out of her musings when the band came out for a quick smoke, she looked at them and taking a long drag from her cigarette, she asked: "you're Cat's brother, aren't you?" When the guy nodded, a new plan was hatched. Running back to her room, she grabbed her note book and ripped out the page she had written the night before. Taking her guitar, she was already half way out the door, when another idea hit her. She was going to force Simone into owning up her true feelings, even if she had to shock her into doing it. Yanking the chopsticks out of her hair, she shook her head, her long hair slowly sliding down her shoulders. Pulling off her dress and tossing it on her bed, she looped her prayer beads around her neck before grabbing her guitar and exiting the room.
Going over the sheet music a final time with the band, Annabelle steps up to the microphone and without hesitation begins to sing, putting her heart and soul into the words, her eyes glues to Simone's form.
"In the space between what's wrong and right. You will find me waiting for you.
Let your fortresses go down in the night. To the dawn I'll take you to.
'Cause I know, that you know, you're all over me now. And it's clear. You're a show. Your curtains will go. And if your heart is cold, my sheets are warm.
I will shelter you through the storm. I will shelter you all through the storm."
Needing the distraction of idle conversation to avoid thinking about Annabelle and the feeling she stirred up in her, Simone stood talking to some colleagues. Stopping mid sentence when she heard Annabelle start to sing, she turned around and as if in trance, she walked closer to the stage, Annabelle's soft and husky voice her siren's call. As she stopped in the middle of the dance floor, their eyes locked and hypnotised by Annabelle's piercing stare, she let the words flow over her, the simplicity, accuracy and beauty of Annabelle's declaration of love rocking her to the core. Feeling herself lose control over her emotions, she gave Annabelle one final look before turning around and leaving the dance hall. Standing outside the iron wrought gate, the light drizzle only complimenting her inner turmoil as she so desperately wanted to give into her heart, she hugged herself tightly, unsuccessfully trying to convince herself that she was doing the right thing in listening to her head.
Absolutely refusing to let Simone walk away from them again, Annabelle finished her song before rushing after her, realising that it was now or never. Watching Simone on the steps outside, hugging herself close, looking so lost and forlorn, Annabelle felt her heart constrict and then Simone looked up to her, looking her straight in the eye and Annabelle felt desire course through her veins as the love and yearning in Simone's eyes were so palpable. She didn't know how long they stood there, just looking at each other as the rain fell down on them, but then the spell was broken as Simone turned to leave once more, her head clearly winning over her heart once again. Grabbing her by the hand, Annabelle pulled her close, their bodies touching, her hand snaking around her back. Her heart thumping fast, adrenaline and liquid desire pumping through her, breathing rapidly, she looked into Simone's eyes.
Annabelle's hand on her back burning her skin, the feel of their bodies touching making her tremble, her breathing shallow as she watched Annabelle' parted lips, Simone knew she couldn't fight this any longer. And as it started to rain harder, she snaked her fingers through Annabelle's hair, pulling her even closer, kissing her passionately, ferociously as she finally allowed her emotions to reign freely.
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