Our connection was like a hidden force pulling us towards one another, and resisting it took a strength that I didn’t know I could keep up for much longer.
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Our connection was like a hidden force pulling us towards one another, and resisting it took a strength that I didn’t know I could keep up for much longer.

-Michelle Madow

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First I need to do something.’ He pulled me closer towards him until our lips were almost touching.‘What might that be?’ I managed to stutter, closing my eyes, anticipating the warmth of his lips against mine. But the kiss didn’t come. I opened my eyes. Alex had jumped to his feet.‘Swim,’ he said, grinning at me. ‘Come on.’‘Swim?’ I pouted, unable to hide my disappointment that he wanted to swim rather than make out with me.Alex pulled his T-shirt off in one swift move. My eyes fell straightaway to his chest – which was tanned, smooth and ripped with muscle, and which, when you studied it as I had done, in detail, you discovered wasn’t a six-pack but actually a twelve-pack.My eyes flitted to the shadowed hollows where his hips disappeared into his shorts, causing a flutter in parts of my body that up until three weeks ago had been flutter-dormant. Alex’s hands dropped to his shorts and he started undoing his belt.I reassessed the swimming option. I could definitely do swimming.He shrugged off his shorts, but before I could catch an eyeful of anything, he was off, jogging towards the water. I paused for a nanosecond, weighing up my embarrassment at stripping naked over my desire to follow him. With a deep breath, I tore off my dress then kicked off my underwear and started running towards the sea, praying Nate wasn’t doing a fly-by.The water was warm and flat as a bath. I could see Alex in the distance, his skin gleaming in the now inky moonlight. When I got close to him, his hand snaked under the water, wrapped round my waist and pulled me towards him. I didn’t resist because I’d forgotten in that instant how to swim. And then he kissed me and I prayed silently and fervently that he took my shudder to be the effect of the water.I tried sticking myself onto him like a barnacle, but eventually Alex managed to pull himself free, holding my wrists in his hand so I couldn’t reattach. His resolve was as solid as a nuclear bunker’s walls. Alex had said there were always chinks. But I couldn’t seem to find the one in his armour. He swam two long strokes away from me. I trod water and stayed where I was, feeling confused, glad that the night was dark enough to hide my expression.‘I’m just trying to protect your honour,’ he said, guessing it anyway.I groaned and rolled my eyes. When was he going to understand that I was happy for him to protect every other part of me, just not my honour?

-Sarah Alderson

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She loved him. But he didn’t know how to love.He could talk about love. He could see love and feel love. But he couldn’t give love.He could make love. But he couldn’t make promises.She had desperately wanted his promises.She wanted his heart, knew she couldn’t have it so she took what she could get.Temporary bliss. Passionate highs and lows. Withdrawal and manipulation.He only stayed long enough to take what he needed and keep moving.If he stopped moving, he would self-destruct.If he stopped wandering, he would have to face himself.He chose to stay in the dark where he couldn’t see.If he exposed himself and the sun came out, he’d see his shadow.He was deathly afraid of his shadow.She saw his shadow, loved it, understood it. Saw potential in it.She thought her love would change him.He pushed and he pulled, tested boundaries, thinking she would never leave.He knew he was hurting her, but didn’t know how to share anything but pain.He was only comfortable in chaos. Claiming souls before they could claim him.Her love, her body, she had given to him and he’d taken with such feigned sincerity, absorbing every drop of her.His dark heart concealed.She’d let him enter her spirit and stroke her soul where everything is love and sensation and surrender.Wide open, exposed to deception.It had never occurred to her that this desire was not love.It was blinding the way she wanted him.She couldn’t see what was really happening, only what she wanted to happen.She suspected that he would always seek to minimize the risk of being split open, his secrets revealed.He valued his soul’s privacy far more than he valued the intimacy of sincere connection so he kept his distance at any and all costs.Intimacy would lead to his undoing—in his mind, an irrational and indulgent mistake.When she discovered his indiscretions, she threw love in his face and beat him with it.Somewhere deep down, in her labyrinth, her intricacy, the darkest part of her soul, she relished the mayhem.She felt a sense of privilege for having such passion in her life.He stirred her core.The place she dared not enter.The place she could not stir for herself.But something wasn’t right.His eyes were cold and dark.His energy, unaffected.He laughed at her and her antics, told her she was a mess.Frantic, she looked for love hiding in his eyes, in his face, in his stance, and she found nothing but disdain.And her heart stopped.

-G.G. Renee

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