Previous – Vibes
After Timothy left my place to catch his flight to the District, I dig out the note Emilian gave me from my backpack.
We’re not done. Text me. E08-312.
I trace my finger over his fancy handwriting, remembering what he said when he gave this to me.
His seductive voice remains, whispering on repeat in my mind. I haven’t texted him. But I want to.
I roll over in my bed and close my eyes, waiting for the ceiling fan’s hum to drown out his voice. It’s impossible. Emilian Grim’s presence is long-lasting and penetrates every desire in my body into a lusty, blissful stupor. All I imagine is our tangled, naked bodies twisting between my sheets with deep kisses.
It’s not like we’re dating. He hasn’t asked me and I’ll never ask him, that’s for sure. I don’t do all that. Besides, we’re having fun. So, what would it hurt if I sent Emilian a text?
I’ll sleep on it first.
The doorbell scares me so much I leap off my couch.
Who is that?
I run to the patio to check outside. It’s pitch-black, way too late for visitors, and I know it isn’t Timothy. I got his text that he landed in the district hours ago.
I ignore it. Besides, I’m an hour into Redemption of the Accountant. There’s a sex scene coming up between the bad girl and the good guy I’ve been dying to see.
The knocks continue. Heavy thumps that sound like the authorities now.
Maybe something bad happened in the complex…
I keep watching my movie with the remote in hand as I jog to the door. I press pause as I open.
“Good evening, Misa.”
My breath catches so hard I almost choke. “Emilian?” My lips keep moving, but no sound comes out.
I slam the door in his face and sprint to my couch. My chest is heaving. I look terrible right now. What is he doing here?
I glare at my TV. Stupid movie got me all distracted.
The knocks continue. Softer this time, like a strategic melody. Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap.
I shut my eyes tight, imagining the knocks washed away with rich blue walls of the ocean. It’s my way of blocking unwanted thoughts out of my mind. Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap. It’s not working. Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap. There’s a strange resistance I feel in the back of my head, making my ocean thoughts harden to slick ice I’m suddenly standing on. Up ahead is my door.
Tap. Ta-tap. Ta-tap, ta-tap, ta-tap.
“Coming.” The word leaves my lips, but it doesn’t feel like I’m talking, or approaching the door, but I am… I no longer feel in control of my thoughts or movements.
I turn the lock and stop breathing.
“Good evening,” Emilian whispers.
Through my cracked door, I look up at him. I need a screen door like he has, so I won’t be out in the open when I answer.
“I missed a text from you.” He continues.
Tonight… I hear him in my head again.
I look down and squeeze my eyes shut. Being put on the spot makes me uncomfortable.
“It’s okay. I wouldn’t text me either.”
I close the door a little more to shield myself as I readjust and fasten my robe tighter. I took a bath before the movie and wrapped my hair in a towel so it could dry faster. This is the worst timing. What possessed me to answer this door?
Emilian moves to the door crack to see me better.
“Misa, may I take a sliver of your time? I would like to tell you something, if you’ll please allow me the honor.”
Why is he being so nice? This must be a trick.
I look back at my TV, double checking it’s paused. It is. “Uh… Y-yeah, okay.”
Emilian straightens his posture and clears his throat. He looks laid back with his dark, messed to perfection hair. He’s wearing a short sleeve black t-shirt, black joggers and blood red sneakers. His taste is surprising since he never dresses like this in class.
“Misa, I am sorry for my sickening treatment of you. For being rude on your first day, for hurting your hand, and for my embarrassing words in front of class. It was uncalled for, undeserving, and unlike me. After much thought, you are neither boring nor distracting.”
“Oh.” That was unexpected. “Okay…”
“I would like to start over. A friendship, perhaps.”
Emilian extends his palm forward. I open the door further to see.
The head line of his palm bulges and splits open. Black liquid seeps out, dripping down his hand and wrist.
“What—are you okay?”
Emilian grins, completely unfazed.
I keep watching. The liquid fades. Then, a hairy green bulb rises from the open gap in his palm and expands slowly, unveiling a circle of sleeping yellow rays. They rise in unison, stretching upward then backward surrounding an inky black circle of tiny seeds.
My breath catches at its hypnotic beauty.
“Forever sunflower.” We say at the same time.
Emilian’s big brown eyes widen. “You know about this flower?”
“Yeah… The library in Fortune had a guest speaker from the crown drop in to teach kids gardening. I worked there and assisted with the event. I remember the speaker mentioning this sunflower and its uniqueness for growing from the palm of a hand. It’s eternal, she told us, but explained growing one is only done by a specific bloodline of Black Mountain origin…”
I look up at Emilian. His eyes darken like he knows a secret.
I gasp. “Grim.”
Suddenly, it feels like I was meant to move to Black Mountain. To be here in this moment.
“May I?” I ask, gesturing to his hand. The sunflower stands tall from his palm.
Emilian grins. “Go for it.”
I grip the chunky green stem and pluck it from his palm. He moans a little when I do. Ohmygosh. Ohmygosh. I hold it to my face, breathing it in. Regular sunflowers don’t have a distinct smell, but this one is sweet, like… honeynut.
“How did you do that?” I ask him. This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.
“Family secret. However, I can show you things that are not. Text me… I’m around.”
I nod as I gaze at my pretty flower. The yellow petals are soft as silk. Each one hugs my finger like a long-lost friend as I glide across them.
This is special.
“Thank you, Emilian.”
I close the door a little more and slink behind it to hide my hot cheeks. I’m probably red as a tomato.
“It is my pleasure.” His eyes dance all over my face in delight. “I’ll see you in class tomorrow?”
He walks back to his apartment across from mine.
“Emilian?” I call.
He spins around fast. “Yes, Misa?”
“I forgive you…”
His shoulders slump as he exhales in relief, but he catches himself and straightens his posture.
“I figured you would,” he whispers, grinning sexily. “Thank you.”
He stands outside my door watching me as I close. I lock up fast and fall against it, hugging the sunflower to my chest. In return, the yellow petals grip my skin, hugging me back.
I can’t believe Emilian created a flower from his sexy body that’ll never die… For me!
I forget about my movie and run to my bedroom. I need to figure out what I’ll wear to class tomorrow. Ooh!