Daggers & Dresses (Enlighten Series Book 2)(6)

By: Kristin D. Van Risseghem


Aiden told her about me? I snapped my mouth shut.

“He’s in his room unpacking. I told him he needed to get some of it done before school on Monday. Head on up if you want.” She glanced at Mom. “Oh. If you would prefer she stay down here, I can go get him.”

“Oh, no,” Mom said sweetly, sounding nothing like herself. “If he’s busy unpacking, Zoe can go upstairs.”

I stared at her, speechless. Who was this lady sitting next to me? If I’d thought my mouth had hung open before, it was now on the floor. My mother had given me permission to go into a guy’s room—alone. She smiled and nodded.

Okay, you don’t have to tell me twice. I have enough questions swirling around in my head that my mom doesn’t need to overhear.

I headed for the staircase, leaving Stella to sit next to Mom.

“Last door on the left,” Sarah called cheerfully.

“Thanks,” I replied.

I could barely contain my excitement. I had to force myself to take one step at a time when all I wanted to do was to run and pepper him with questions. At the top of the stairs, I drew in a deep breath, letting it out before walking the short distance to the end of the hall. His door was open, and I lingered in the hallway so I could watch him. He sat on the floor, unpacking boxes of movies and books.

Eventually, I knocked on the doorframe, but he didn’t look up from the stacks of boxes. I knocked a little harder, and this time his head snapped up. His eyes locked with mine, and we stared at each other for a few moments.

He broke the silence. “Hello.”

“Hi, Aiden. Your ... your sister said I could come up here,” I stammered.

“Sure.” He motioned me in, his eyes intent on me. In that instant I experienced a strange, uncomfortable feeling. Like I was prey being stalked by a lion. Could this be the same Aiden that Kieran knows?

The previous owner had used this room for her quilting, sewing, and other projects. It looked very different now that it was Aiden’s. He hadn’t gotten far with unpacking. His bed was made, but most of his clothes still lay in opened boxes.

“Sit ... or whatever.” He waved his hand at the bed, and never took his eyes from me.

I chose the floor, and his eyes widened slightly with surprise at my choice. Neither of us spoke. I mean, what I was going to say? “Hey, did you know that my boyfriend looks like you?” How crazy would that sound? I wasn’t sure why he wasn’t talking, though. Maybe he was shy, or maybe he was nervous about having a girl in his room. Somebody had to soften the atmosphere, so I spoke up.

“Do you have a lot to unpack?” I asked.

“What you see is what I have.” He pointed to the pile of movies and books in front of him. “It’s mostly clothes once I get these sorted. It’s Zoe, right?”

Had I told him my name? “Would you like help?”

He shrugged. “Sure, if you want to.” He pushed a stack of movies toward me then pointed at the tall bookcase next to his bed. “Alphabetize these and then put them on the lower shelf.”

“Um, would you like them sorted into genres then alphabetized?” Lowering his head, he hid his mouth.

It was a bit weird that he wanted them alphabetized, but whatever. I lifted a few plastic containers to show him what I meant, taking advantage of the opportunity to look him over more closely. Now that the initial shock was over, I could study him. There was a definite similarity to Shay. He looked about the same age, maybe a year or two older, but with the same aqua eyes, hair color, and build.

He chuckled. “Sure. I wasn’t going to ask you to do that. I thought you’d think I was weird.”

“That’s how I would do it,” I said. “What’s the point if I alphabetize them now, then you have to redo it all into genres?”

He howled, and his whole body shook with it. Oh, he was beautiful. Knock it off. You have a boyfriend.

“What?” I sort of snapped at him.

“Nothing.”

“No, it’s not nothing. You keep doing that, laughing at me. What’s funny?”

“You. You’re what’s funny.”

Was he being mean? I started to stand, uncomfortable. He didn’t need to laugh at me.

Seeing me move, he jumped to his feet and nearly tripped over a stack of movie cases. “Wait! Why are you leaving?”

I glared at him. Was he that dense? “You just told me you thought I was funny. I offered to help you, and you laughed at me. I don’t need to take that. Especially from a stranger.”

“Oh, hey. I’m not laughing at you. The situation is just funny. I thought it was cute. Most people wouldn’t ask if they should sort into genres first and then alphabetize them.” He stood and reached for my hand but then lowered it. “And then for you to go on a little tirade about it, well, that’s what I meant was funny. Okay, so maybe funny wasn’t the correct word. I’m sorry. I thought it was cute ... your behavior, I mean.”