Shards of Us

K.R. Caverly

Chapter One

I enter Hotel de Galaxias as I always do: with my head down, my heart pounding. I can feel the red lipstick on my lips, the dark black dress snug against my body, and the familiar warmth in my stomach that races through me. My whole body is a rush of excitement and anxiety as I step through the double-doors into the huge, luxurious lobby. Chandeliers hang above me, and a silky purple carpet stretches the expanse of the floor, all warm and cozy beneath my feet. A few people play on flutes and violins by the fire in the corner, and others dressed in suits and extravagant dresses surround the lobby, drinking cocktails and laughing and talking with one another. The buzz of activity fills the air, but there is a certain softness to it, a quietness, like they're all talking in hushes as if they expect something terrible to happen.

Once I'm inside, I nod at the man at the front desk, who wears a sharp tuxedo and whose blonde hair is combed to the side. He smiles warmly at me, nodding toward the stairs. He knows me, of course, and he knows Sebastian has already paid for the night's stay. I've been here so many times before, it's almost a ritual at this point, one I can't do without. Sebastian is my addiction, my everything, but that doesn't even bother me. Nothing so incredibly right could ever bother me.

The air is warm here, toasty, and it wipes away the shivers from the snow outside. My body tingles as I reach the carpeted stairs, taking three at a time, knowing he is waiting for me just two floors up.

I've always loved Wednesdays, because Wednesdays mean Sebastian, and Sebastian means happiness. He is the one person who never fails to make me feel okay, feel normal. No--he makes me feel better than normal. He makes me feel alive. And I haven't felt alive since my parents died two years ago.

I brush my long black hair over my face as I make my way up the stairs, making myself as inconspicuous as possible. A few people pass by me, so I stay to the edge of the stairwell, practically flattening myself against the wall. I remember what Sebastian always told me: "don't get noticed. Not ever." And if there's one thing I've learned from these last four months, it's that Sebastian should always be obeyed.

Once I reach the third floor, the conversations from the lobby have totally faded. Light music pulses throughout the hallway, the sort of dance beat that makes me feel like I'm in some sort of club. My feet ache in my black high heels as I walk down the hall, and I hear the steady sound of my earrings hitting my neck--pat, pat, pat. I hate dressing up, but I know Sebastian likes it, and so I do it. I do lots of things for Sebastian.

One day, I wore makeup to the room, and Sebastian told me never to again. He said he didn't want me to look fake. He said he wanted me to be his. All his. And so… well, I obeyed that too.

I became his.

And I haven't turned back since.

I look around the hallway before heading to our room. No one is around. Perfect.

My legs carry me all the way down the red carpeted hall, past the small lights hanging over each room until I stop at the end, at the large brown door with the number "364" in thick brass numbers. A "DO NOT DISTURB" sign is already hanging on the doorknob. I can't help but smile at that. Sebastian must be ready to get right to get down to business.

I'm keenly aware of the pounding in my temples, the anticipation building up inside of me as I reach for the knob. My whole heart feels like it's in my throat, and my body hums with the familiar desire Sebastian gives me. I try to envision what he looks like today as I push open the door, try to figure out what he has in store for the night, what he will do to make me happy this time.

That's his goal, he says. His goal is to make me happy. And my goal is to make him happy in return. It's perfect, really, the way our relationship is set up. No questions. No drama. Just pure, unadulterated pleasure.

The door creaks as it opens, until after a minute, it hits the side of the wall with a little shudder. I hold my breath and step inside, closing the door behind me.

The room is dark. Pitch black, actually. I can still hear the steady thrumming of music in the distance, can feel the softness in the air, like a far-off song, thick with emotion. Sebastian is here. I know it then. I can feel him here--everywhere. I can feel his cocky little smile, the heat of his body, the feel of his hard muscles around my back. I can almost taste his skin, can just imagine trailing my tongue down his body, making a circle around his erection. The possibility is so close, so close it makes my body hum with energy.

I look around, feeling my throat catch. Everything creaks. The floorboards, the walls, the bed in the middle of the room. Winter wind howls outside, sending a shiver down my spine. My eyes search for Sebastian, but I find nothing.


No one.

My heart races in my chest, and the air in the room tickles at the hairs on the back of my neck, making my skin prick. Where is he? I ask myself.

I spin around. Still nothing.

Is he even here?

Then, as on cue, a light goes on in the corner of the room. Right behind me.

I freeze, and ever so slowly turn to face whoever is here.

My gaze rests on a broad smile, which reveals two rows of perfectly white teeth. A thick, recently-shaven jaw is clenched below it, lips parted into a perfect circle. And then I look from his mouth to his eyes, and my heart beats faster. He's always had beautiful eyes. Such a deep blue, so strong, like a lake frozen over, like glass about to shatter.

I stare at him for the longest time, feeling the intensity between us, the heat that ripples between our bodies, until he finally speaks. "I've been waiting for you, angel," Sebastian whispers so softly it's as if it isn't even there.

"Sebastian," I breathe, my voice filled with desire.

He smiles, a wide, crooked, toothy smile. Long dark hair is parted across his forehead, all wavy and curly and perfect. His skin is sun-kissed, his lips thick and parted in that utterly kissable kind of way. I can see the muscle in his biceps, the way his shirt rolls off his chest and reveals a slice of muscular stomach, the hunger in his blue eyes.

Our gazes lock for a long moment. Heat rips through me as his eyes linger on mine, and I feel like everything is disappearing at our closeness, like Sebastian and I are in a whole new galaxy of a sudden. Like it really is just us--just us and the pieces of our broken pasts.

I know nothing about Sebastian, not really, and he knows nothing about me. All we know about each other is that we both are alone this world. Both of us have no real friends, no family left, no nothing left. I don't know Sebastian's real name, don't know where he works, don't even know where he's from or why he's here. I just know that he makes me feel better, makes me feel like I'm not so alone in this world, and for now, that's all I need.

Sebastian and I have three rules:

1) No sex.

2) No personal questions.

3) No leaving the hotel room until morning. Not ever.

We meet here every Wednesday night and have for the last four months. We're here to heal each other, really, heal the brokenness in our lives. Nothing more, nothing less. There's no sex involved in our relationship, no love, no emotional feelings, no strings attached. All that we have is each other.

It's a perfect set up, in a way, and I've learned not to question it--or him. After Sebastian and I met in a club one night and hit off so much that he proposed this little arrangement, I've felt happy. Truly happy. My what the therapists call "horrendous case of low-esteem and depression"--I guess that's what happens when you lose everyone you care about, and then soon after your one passion in life in one fatal week--has even gone away for now, so I don't have any reason to say no to all of this. Sebastian would never hurt me. We both know that. So it's not like there's any sort of risk to go along with it.

"Come to me, my angel," Sebastian coos after a minute. His words always sound so soft and poetic, like a distant song only I can hear.

I obey. My long black dress touches the floor as I walk over to him, feeling the gust of wind on the small of my back, where the dress wraps around. He stands up as soon as I'm in front of him, his eyes not leaving mine. Gently, he reaches out a thumb and touches it to my chin, rubbing his finger back and forth and back and forth along my skin. His body is so close that I can feel his heat wrapping around my body. I feel his breath on my lips, the tingling sensation I get when I'm this close to him. I press against him further, wrapping my arms around his well-muscled body and savoring it, savoring him, as everything else washes away.

"You are my everything," he whispers into my ear.

"I know," I whisper as he moves his fingers from my chin to my lips, trailing them in circles ever so slowly. I close my eyes, savoring the taste of his skin, wanting nothing more than for him to move his finger down lower and lower.

Just the thought makes me all anxious.

Hotel room 364 is huge. It's a suite Sebastian is always able to get for us--I have no idea how. He always pays for it, tells me it's perfectly safe, and so I don't question it. It's not like he has any reason to lie. The walls are long and perfectly white, stretching into another room. The air smells perpetually like roses and shampoo, and it's thick, intense, like him. Brown lacquered floorboards stretch across the expanse of the apartment, cool under my feet. A large dresser sits behind Sebastian's leather chair, and a couch and television are positioned in the adjoining room, with a refrigerator full of beverages beside it. A single chandelier hangs in the bedroom, where we are now. I look up at it as Sebastian brushes his lips against the space below my chin, nipping at my soft skin. The chandelier is always shining and moving, I realize, making a million tiny clinks as the pieces of glass hanging from it hit each other.