Drawn to You: Volume 1

By: Vanessa Booke



“What are you in the mood for? Keats? Byron? Clifton? Melville?”

“Byron!”

Her excited face sends a smile across mine. I take a seat next to the bed and skim through the pages looking for the perfect poem.

“Here’s a good one.”

Emily leans against my pillow and rolls to the side to face me. Her eyes flutter sleepily as she tries her best to stay awake. I read through several of Byron’s poems, but it isn’t until I get to She Walks in Beauty that I have Emily’s attention again.

“She walks in beauty, like the night... Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright... Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light... Which heaven to gaudy day denies…”

“Tristan?”

I look up to find Emily staring at me with a tired gaze and a small grin.

“What’s wrong, Lily Pad?”

“Do you think I’m beautiful?” she asks, drawing a circle on a spot next to her pillow.

I feel my heart in my throat as she stares at me waiting for my response. Emily’s grown up so fast over the past year. Every time I take my eyes off her, it’s like she’s grown another inch. I love her like the little sister I never had, even if she isn’t mine. The truth is there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for her.

“You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever met,” I say, leaning into ruffle her hair once again.

Another smile sweeps across her face as she leans over and wraps her warm little arms around my neck. She hugs me tight, bringing me closer to her as she places her cheek against my chest. Her familiar smell of lavender invades my senses permanently affixing to my clothes. I don’t think I’ll ever get the smell out, but I guess it doesn’t really matter because if I had a choice, I wouldn’t do it anyway.

“Tristan?”

“Yes?”

“Will you kiss me?”

I can’t help but laugh at her request. She reaches up and grabs a hold of my black hair. I feel a slight tug as she twirls a piece of it in her fingers, carefully studying it as if there’s some secret message written in my DNA. She leans back against me, and before I have a chance to answer her question, her eyes flutter closed. It’s only a few moments before I feel her chest moving against me. I reach underneath her and pull her small body from my bed. Despite how much Emily’s grown this past year, she’s lighter than she looks. She reaches around my neck and pulls herself closer to me as I carefully carry her back to her room. She doesn’t wake again even after I roll her onto her side, covering and tucking the ends of the bed sheets beneath her.

“If you still want me to kiss you when you’re my age, I will,” I whisper to her through the darkness. “Goodnight, Lily Pad.”



***

“Stefan, please don’t do this.”

I’m halfway down the hall from Emily’s bedroom when I hear the broken plea echoing throughout the house. The eerily familiar voice propels me forward through the darkness of the hallway. A ray of light cascades down through the study reflecting shadows on the wood floor. Two rays to be exact. I quietly step closer following the voices coming from inside. As I cross the front of the doorway, I hear the voice call out again. The realization of who is in there hits me like a freight train. Mom? What is she doing up so late? I step closer, carefully positioning myself outside. The door sits cracked open just wide enough to see their blurry figures standing close together.

It takes me a moment to recognize the other voice as being that of Stefan. The few times I’ve heard him talk it was only to bark orders at the help in the kitchen. To my surprise, my mother presses herself into his arms. The intimate gesture leaves me reeling in shock. What the hell is going on? I’ve never seen Emily’s father anywhere near my mother. He’s always kept his distance around the both of us. I’m halfway through the door when my mother’s voice pierces through the air.

I watch in confusion as she sobs into Stefan’s jacket quietly pounding her hands on his chest. Stefan grips her shoulders and slowly takes a step back in what I can only assume is an effort to keep her at arms distance.

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