His expression softened a little, a hint of amusement in the corner of his lips. “And what choices have you made?”
I blew out. “God, where do I start? I decided to get Corrine to alter my brother’s and my passports. We told our parents we were going to be in Scotland for the summer, when in fact we ran off to Hawaii. Then when you finally returned me to the island, I decided to leave again and ended up in Annora’s dungeon. Then I betrayed my parents again by going out with Micah when I was supposed to be grounded. And now here I am, apart from them again. All because I decided to befriend that stupid werewolf. And that’s just in the last few months. I’m not sure my parents will ever trust me again…”
Caleb’s eyes remained fixed on me, as though he was taking in my every word.
“So you now regret it all?” he asked softly.
I was about to exclaim, “Of course.” But I paused, biting my lower lip. As bad as I felt, I couldn’t honestly say that I did regret it all. Because without my trip to Hawaii, I doubted I would have met Caleb. But somehow, I felt shy to say this aloud. The way he was staring down at me made me feel butterflies. Blood rushed to my cheeks and I looked down at the floor. I hoped that would be enough of an answer for him.
It was. He twisted back toward the ocean. We passed more time in silence. I hated how awkward things felt between us. How serious he still looked. We’d had nothing but anxiety surrounding us for the past few days, I felt we both owed it to ourselves to take a break. At least for a few hours. We’d stolen this gorgeous boat. We might as well enjoy it while we could.
I cast my eyes around the deck and noticed a row of closets. I walked over and began rummaging through them. Bottles of liquor filled the first. The second was filled with spare towels and sheets. When I reached the third, I almost squealed with delight. A stack of CDs and a stereo player. I fingered through the disks and picked out some soft rock. I slid it into the player and turned up the volume.
Caleb rolled his eyes as I walked toward him, a big grin on my face.
“Not now, Rose. I’m really not in the mood,” he muttered as I gripped his hand and tugged him toward the center of the deck.
“When are you ever in the mood?” He allowed me to drag him away from the edge. “We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. You need to learn to switch off sometimes…”
I draped my arms over Caleb’s neck and pulled myself against him. He gave in and slipped his hands around my waist, resting them on my lower back. He still felt tense as ever. I wasn’t sure there was any way I could make him completely relax while he was around me. My blood was too much of a distraction for him to just be present with me.
As we began swaying to the music, I rested my head against his chest, closing my eyes and listening to the slow, steady beat of his heart. The first song finished, and the second started, more upbeat than the last. I drew away from Caleb.
“Now, I want you to dance crazy with me.”
Caleb looked at me in mock disdain, cocking his head to one side. “You mean, how you dance normally?”
“Precisely.” I loosened my hair and shook it out. “I’ll teach you how to really dance. No more of your perfect rhythm and crap like that… Now, watch carefully because it’s a skill not easily acquired.”
I cast a glance at Caleb before I began my performance. I didn’t have any particular moves in mind. The reaction on his face was my only guide as I danced about in the most awkward way I could manage—which wasn’t difficult for me.
I kept my expression deadly serious as I went about instructing him how to perform my impossible-to-replicate “moves”. My antics were beginning to work. He was smiling. A broader smile than I’d ever seen on him. I dared believe he was even close to letting out a chuckle.
I didn’t care that he didn’t join me. It didn’t matter. I was happy to make a fool of myself if it meant drawing a laugh from him.
Finally, he did it. A short burst of laughter. It was music to my ears. I couldn’t remember if I’d ever even seen him laugh. I’d seen him smile. Sort of. But never laugh.
I collapsed on the floor, spreading out my limbs as I lay panting. My mission had been accomplished. I’d made Caleb Achilles laugh.
“You’re a crazy woman,” he said, hovering above my head and frowning down at me.
I gazed up at his beautiful brown eyes, the smile fading from my lips.
Crazy for you…
But are you crazy for me?
The truth was, I still didn’t understand Caleb’s feelings toward me. I thought I’d understood them the night he’d kissed me like he was drowning. But that seemed so long ago now. And what with his mourning over Annora, I didn’t know where his heart truly lay. Truth be told, Caleb was still as much a mystery to me as the day I’d first met him. It felt like I’d come to know part of him more since we’d reunited, but most of him, the larger part, still felt closed off from me. Unreachable.
“You’re a free man now, Caleb,” I said softly. “All that’s left is for you to start living like one.”
He lowered himself to the ground next to me and lay on his side, his body parallel with mine.
“Maybe you’re right,” he said.
Our eyes locked again, but then his gaze fell to my lips. He swallowed hard, closing his eyes.
“What?” I whispered.
There was a long pause before he spoke again.
“I want to kiss you, Rose.”