Awakening a Nightmare: Chapter Thirteen



Eli’s master plans were falling apart at the seams. She wanted to believe that she had everything under control still, but nothing could be further from the truth. What had happened with Aria made it too clear that she was incapable of using her better sense when her ex was around.

Eli had always been a victim of Aria’s punishing beauty. For years, Eli was caught in her lost lover’s riptide. Yet, how she felt for her was unlike anything she had ever experienced. Love. Aria was her first love. Her only love. Perhaps, her true love. And yet, being near her left her feeling gored. Like Aria had taken a knife, sank it into her midline, and carved a path straight to her chin.

Being near her hurt. Seeing her with someone else hurt, too. Seeing her as a stranger, sitting atop a mountain of secrets, practically killed her.

Eli should have taken advantage of the moment of boneless oblivion and left. But, instead, she allowed herself to be suckered into another night. Another night spent listening to the television drone as Salena aimlessly tapped on her cell phone.

It was a relief to hear the door open. Aria’s voice rang clear over the television’s humming. A few words were exchanged—little more than the pleasantries one would expect of a couple who made their domesticity a routine. Eli’s ears perked when she heard Aria ask about her specifically.

“Has she left her room?”


Eli could all but imagine Salena flipping absently through her phone.

“Did you eat?”


“Did she?”

There was quiet. Undoubtedly a shrug. “She didn’t ask.”

Aria scoffed. Soon after, Eli heard the sound of kitchen drawers opening and cabinets closing. The microwave dinged and whirred. Soon, the apartment was filled with the scent of something savory. Her stomach rumbled loudly.

It was near impossible to make out what they were saying over the kitchen sounds, but Eli imagined she heard their farewells. The front door clicked open, and soon after, she saw Salena’s figure appear on the sidewalk.

A timid knock came soon after. Eli turned to face the door. “Yeah?”

“I brought some food….”

Aria froze when she saw her standing in front of the window. Her knuckles tightened against the tray. “Oh,” she said, giving her the once over. “You’re up.”

“I am.”

Aria cleared her throat. “I figured that you’d be resting. You shouldn’t be moving around too much.”

Eli’s mouth pinched as she studied her, wondering if any subtext could be read in her concerned chiding. “You weren’t complaining about me moving around last night.”

Aria’s cheeks flooded with color. She set a tray on the bed. There was what appeared to be a ham and mayo sandwich with bright yellow cheese and a bowl of what appeared to be some kind of cheesy potato soup. Eli thinly resisted the urge to comment that if Aria was concerned about her straining herself, perhaps she shouldn’t serve her diarrhea-inducing food. Instead, she kept it to herself and moved to sit at the edge of the bed beside her dinner.

“Oh,” the redhead cleared her throat and reached into her pocket. “Salena… told me that she took your cell phone last night,” she grimaced and offered it to her. “I’m sorry that she’s… like this. She’s just a bit paranoid.”

“Why would she be paranoid?” Eli asked, keeping her tone light and airy—as if she didn’t know exactly why she might have worried about the stranger in their home.

“I told her about… what you told me.”

“Ah,” Eli took the device and clicked the lock button, relieved to see that it was, at the very least, charged. The lock screen indicated a staggering amount of missed messages and calls. Her insides ached with the worry of how many had been left unanswered.

Poor Yui.

“I hope you don’t mind,” Aria pressed. “I wouldn’t have said anything. But we… live together, so it’s… something that affects her, too.”

“I get it,” Eli said, perhaps too hastily. She turned the phone over in her hand, marveling at it as if it were a foreign object.

“She just worried that it was being used to track you.”

“If that were the case, keeping it in the house at all wouldn’t have been smart. Besides,”—her eyes darted to meet Aria’s—“I got this phone after I left. It’s safe.”

Aria nodded, shifting self-consciously.

Eli wondered if she had passed a test. Or, if she had misjudged the situation. Perhaps Aria wasn’t someone to be afraid of. Maybe it was Salena who she should be suspicious of? Her thoughts circled rapidly, and a headache blossomed too quickly behind her eyes.

She needed a drink. And a cigarette.

“Am I allowed outside to go have a smoke?”

Aria’s expression shifted into one of pure horror. “‘Allowed?’” she scoffed. “Of course, you’re allowed. You’re not a hostage here, Eli.”

Eli’s lips pursed, and her chin lifted.

The redhead’s expression fell, her brows furrowing. “I’m sorry. That wasn’t how I wanted you to feel.”

“Not you.”

Aria’s expression crumpled further. “Do you want some company?”

“Company? Or are you watching me, CO?”

She grimaced in response, seemingly not finding Eli as amusing as she found herself. “Joining,” Aria replied, shifting her weight from one foot to another. “Do you think you’re okay to make it down the stairs, though?”

“I should be able to,” she said, adding uncertainty to her words. The truth was that she was more than capable. In fact, she could go for a run if she wanted to. But she wasn’t about to tell Aria that much.

“Okay. Do you want to eat first?” Her ex asked, gesturing at the offerings on the bed.

“I’ve been craving a cigarette for days now. I’ve only been hungry for a few hours,” Eli scrubbed her palms over her thighs as she walked toward the door.

“Sure,” Aria said, having not quite moved.

They were perilously close. Eli could taste her breath as she inched nearer. She could feel the warmth rolling off Aria in waves and watched as a flush crawled across her cheeks and down the length of her neck. She could even see the pink kiss her collarbones, inviting her fingers to trace it.

“I… about last night?”

“What about it?” Eli asked, subtly leaning into her.

“We should probably talk about it.”

“Should we?”

They were so close—their noses were practically touching. She could claim Aria’s mouth as her own with a slight nudge. With a push, she could have her back against the wall. The Beast within her roiled, snarling awake at their closeness.

At the scent of her.

And by God, Aria was wet.

Eli drew in a deep breath, barely able to contain herself and her growing need.

“I don’t want you to think that’s… you know. How I am.”

“How you are?” Eli asked, her voice coming out as a purr.

“You know. I’m not… I don’t cheat.”

Eli smirked. “And you didn’t.”

“Well,” Aria’s expression twisted into something unreadable but not entirely pleasant. Guilty, perhaps? “I mean, it wasn’t purely platonic either.”

“Trust me. I’ve done far more with my platonic friends.”

Something else flickered across Aria’s features. An emotion too subtle to name. It was gone again before she could get a chance to study it.

“It can’t happen again,” Aria whispered. There was no conviction in her words. In fact, her body arched slightly, practically making an offering of her chest.

Eli took the invitation and inched them closer to the wall. She pinned Aria there, their hips barely an inch apart. Resting her weight against her forearm, she caged the redhead against the plaster. “So, it won’t, then.”

“Okay,” Aria sighed. “Good.”

Eli’s lips quirked in the devil’s smile. “Good.”

“We… Won’t do that again.”

“Yes. Not that.”

Aria swallowed audibly, her eyes falling to her mouth. Then, after what felt like an eternity, she drew in a trembling, shallow breath. “Eli…”

There was a warning in her tone, but she couldn’t bring herself to heed it. “What?”

Aria’s tongue darted out, tracing her lips. The same lips she so vividly remembered claiming. She remembered the shape they took when she was filled to the brim, stretched, soaking, and desperate around her fingers. The Beast inside her was desperate to see if she remembered it correctly. She wanted to pin the redhead by her throat against the wall and claim her. Taste her. Fuck her.

“You know what.”

Still, her smile didn’t fade. Instead, it only grew more wolfish as her eyes roved over Aria’s face, tracing down her now pink throat and over her flushed chest. “I’m afraid I don’t. I’d ask you to explain it, but if you blush any darker, your skin will melt off your bones.”

Aria cleared her throat and pushed forward, clearly trying to create space between them. But space was the last thing Eli wanted. She refused to be moved. Instead, she held her ground, offering a vulpine smile as their chests met. And so did their hips.

Taking it as an invitation, Eli pressed Aria back against the wall. “You did nothing wrong,” she said, leaning forward, her nose brushing against Aria’s. “Actually, I think you did something quite right for yourself. I saw how pent-up you were. How badly you needed to come. How long had it been?”

Aria’s breath hitched, her teeth grinding together. “That’s an awfully personal question, Eli.”

“Does that mean you won’t answer it?”

Emboldened by their closeness—or perhaps, riled to anger by Eli’s directness—Aria pressed against her, letting her hand find the curve of her waist as she pushed her back. “It’s time for that cigarette.”

Eli couldn’t help but notice how her ex-lover’s eyes darted to her mouth. Nor could she help but notice how Aria’s flesh pebbled in want. Eli’s mouth watered at the thought of feeling her pulse beneath her tongue.

It was difficult, but eventually, she managed to rein her emotions in. “It is.”


Dinner was had, and so were a few more cigarettes. They spent the night together, lounging on the couch. Eli was more open than she should have been, indulging Aria in some truths when they were asked after. On the other hand, Aria tried to keep everything close to her chest. Eli knew there were nerves. She just hadn’t decided whether she wanted to needle them.

It was nearly two in the morning when they decided to say goodnight. Eli tried not to seem too eager as she disappeared to her room. She feigned a lack of attachment to the phone so as not to alert Aria to her intentions. Eli was in this strange place where she was unsure if she was being held captive or free to go. 

Guilt curdled in her stomach when she saw a never-ending slew of text messages and missed calls from Yui. Her best friend had been texting her every day. Every message grew increasingly more concerned. Eli’s heart hurt too much to read many of them. Her thumbs raced across the keyboard.

Eli: I’m safe. It’s a long story, but I got shot, and I’ve been taken somewhere to heal.

Yui: Oh. My. God. Eli. I’ve been so fucking worried sick!

Yui: Why didn’t you text me?!

Eli: I know. I’m sorry. They took my phone.

Yui: They?

Eli: It’s a complicated mess. Just sit tight for a little longer. I’ll be out of here in a bit, okay? I’ll explain everything then.

Yui: I don’t like the sound of that, but I don’t think I have much choice but to accept what you’re saying.

Yui: I found her, by the way.

Eli: Who did you find?

Yui: Aria. Here in Sanctuary Hills. I gave her my number in case she found you. I figured that you’d want to know! Maybe it’ll make you heal up faster so you can come the fuck home.

Eli stared at the screen for a long moment, her thumb tracing the edge of the screen, carving the button’s paths. She looked up, her gaze locked on the door. But further past that, to the room beyond where Aria slept.


Eli: I’m trying, Yui. I’ll tell you all about it when I get home.

Yui: Soon?

Eli: Soon.

She locked her cell phone and set the device down on the nightstand. She lay there for a long while, staring at the space where she imagined Aria must have been lying.


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