The events where I was left in the dark continued and I was already sick of them. Pacing between the couch and the first-floor landing, I shot a glare of irritation up the stairs every time I passed in front of it.
What had happened to Jack?
More importantly, why was I giving a crap? He was the asshole who invaded my home and life.
After a firm reminder to myself to focus on how much Jack pissed me off, the worry I was feeling began to dissipate.
His voice from behind me made me jump, as I hadn't heard anyone come down the stairs.
"Hey, can you come here for a second?"
Spinning on my heel, I quickly took in the sight of Jack's handsome face. From what I could tell, he looked just fine, minus a few wrinkles in his clothes. So what had been all of that craziness earlier?
Frowning, I eyed him suspiciously. "Why?"
"Do you want to know what's going on or not?" His face held a twinge of exasperation. "I promise, if you do this one thing, you'll be a lot less in the dark about everything."
Musing over my choices for a moment, I crossed my arms over my chest. "You aren't going to hurt me, are you?"
His bright blue eyes looked devastated. "What?! No!!" He stared at me like I was the crazy one here. "I just want to undo the seal on your memories."
Biting my lip, I slowly nodded my head. That would be nice, at least. But, wait, how is he going to—?
Before I could think too deeply, Jack pulled me into a quick hug, his lips—which were very cold—pressing against my forehead for a brief moment.
My thoughts all stopped at once.
My connection to the here and now was cut off, like a wire being snapped. Instead, my consciousness was sent spiraling into the past, memories I'd never known rushing through me like a dam breaking.
A young boy named Jack Frost, with dark brown hair and bright green eyes. We were inseparable, growing up together side by side from year one.
A family of distant, regal individuals who treated me with a strange mix of dislike and impatience.
The cold, silent observance of shadowy figures who waited on me hand and foot.
The warmth of Nana and a man I didn't recognize, but for the pictures of my father we had around the house.
All of these memories came back with the vividness of a movie as I watched a section of my life I had no idea existed pass by on-screen.
Jack was...well, he was my whole world.
We shared a bedroom, much like siblings. But from a very young age, I was told that Jack was my future husband. I didn't understand what that really meant, and was instructed that it meant I was going to love and be with Jack forever.
Jack, from my memories, had been a strangely mature child. He was quiet, soft-spoken, obedient to his parents, and well-behaved. But he was always very kind and caring toward me, treating me with a tenderness that I'd taken for granted as a child.
Still, there hadn't always been good times.
Jack had been very sickly. I was told we were stuck inside the castle we lived in because winter never ended outside. If I or Jack tried to play outside, we'd get sick and die.
Only, Jack got sick just from living, it seemed.
A lot of memories were of me and him reading books together or playing make-believe while sitting on our beds, as Jack would be bedridden and unable to leave our room. The older we got, the more things like movies and board games took over the more childish activities we used to amuse ourselves.
I remembered overhearing the adults talking about why Jack and I shared a room once.
Something about how I had been terrified of the dark shadows and couldn't see or hear them. This fragment of a memory lined up with my other memories of Jack always talking to the shadows when they showed up, while I held his hand tightly for comfort.
Dad had explained to me that the shadows were servants and since we were guests, they were only trying to help and take care of us. Still, my memories of those servants had always been laced with fear.
There had been a...tutor, yeah. Jack and I had been forced into taking lessons from a teacher from three years of age. But the teacher had wings and a tail.
She'd introduced herself as a wyvern and explained her task was to ensure Jack and I were properly educated to become the next Duke and Duchess Frost.
I'd learned many things from that tutor. So many fantastical things that made no sense with my knowledge as a human.
Once I’d reached the age of nine, Jack had gone to his parents and requested that we have separate rooms. I’d been confused and devastated, unable to understand why my best friend wanted to get away from me.
My memories of that time were filled with a lot of serious, tense expressions from the adults when they looked at me. As for Jack, all of the adults in my life had treated him with either pity or horror.
Neither my father nor Jack’s parents made any protest and I was promptly forced into a new bedroom. They had seemed worried about my mental state though, used to never being alone, so Jack’s younger sister had been moved in with me.
Millie, who was three years old at the time, had been quite excited to live with ‘Sissy’ and my time sharing a room with her had honestly not been bad. I’d still been quite upset about my separation from Jack, but Millie had been such a bright and energetic child who liked to keep me occupied with her ‘adventures’ that I’d found little time to sulk.
Even though Jack had requested our separation, he’d also been quite adamant that he wished to spend as much time with me as possible. Still, he would also act very awkward any time I tried to become physically close to him.
One instance, when I was around ten and a half cropped up, left me feeling embarrassed as an adult reliving these memories. But as a young child who had spent all my life sharing everything with Jack, embarrassment hadn’t even come into the picture at the time.
I’d visited his room after lunch to watch a movie with him and after he had set the VCR tape to rewind, I casually brought up a topic that had been swimming around in my mind since waking up. The night before I’d talked to Nana, telling her about some weird hair I’d started growing and that my chest had begun to feel itchy, sore, and lumpy.
“Do you think I’m sick, Jack?” I asked him innocently, honestly worried. “Nana said I had to start wearing something called a ‘training bra’ and it’s perfectly normal, but I’m scared.”
Green eyes wide, Jack’s cheeks flushed bright red and he started breathing funny, refusing to look me in the eyes. “U, um...N, Nisha, you shouldn’t be talking to me about this kind of stuff. Nana or Mother is your best bet, o, okay?”
I frowned, annoyed. “Why can’t I?”
His face drained of all color and he lowered his head, hiding his expression from me. “It’s not decent.”
Even more frustrated, I shook my head. “Decent? What does that have anything to do with it? I feel weird and I wanted to talk to you about it. We always talk about everything together. Why wouldn’t I tell you something like this? You’re my best friend, Jack.”
He let out a low whine, discomfort all over his face as he cautiously lifted his head and glanced at me out of the corner of his eyes.
“You’re almost twelve now. Did you feel like this at all a year ago? You never told me if you did, but considering how you’re acting, maybe you kept it a secret.”
Annoyed, I scooted closer to Jack, getting completely in his personal bubble of space without a second thought.
Jack quickly tried to move away from me, but the arm of the loveseat blocked off his avenue of escape. I reached out and grabbed hold of his shoulder, trying to stop him from running away. “Please, Jack. Won’t you look at me? Please talk to me like we used to...Please?”
Muttering half into his shirt, his head still turned away from me, Jack tensed up at my touch. “Things can’t be like they used to, Nisha.”
Confused, I squeezed his shoulder, leaning against him and trying to position my face so that I could see his. Jack cried out when most of my body weight ended up against him and he twisted on the couch, trying to climb over. He began struggling to get away, which irritated me even more.
Considering the fact that he was often sickly, he also wasn’t very strong. I was quite active and healthy, so I managed to overpower him.
By the time our short-lived wrestling match was over, Jack was spread out horizontally, panting, his head resting against the arm of the loveseat. I was straddled on top of him, bracing my hands to the side of his head, smirking in triumph that I’d won.
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