I gasped just to know I was still alive.

My eyes opened to see the immobile vent on the ceiling. Beside me the bedside lamp was still lit and I knew it would remain. I was sweating, heart galloping faster than a horse. The same nightmare had plagued me tonight, well no, not really the same. The sight was different—but its concept was the same. I rubbed my hands over my face. When did my life get so messed up...?

Oh yeah, about two weeks ago.

"Mel,"

I blinked looking down at the blond ash head resting on my stomach. Intoxicating brandy irises stared up drowsy.

"I'm sorry... I woke you up, didn't I?" I whispered softly.

Nathaniel had been sleeping in the weirdest position ever—no not the strangest, I reminded myself. Two weeks ago, I had done things I never thought myself capable of. I went to an assassin asking him to find my missing boyfriend, then I went to get Nate on my own like some fearless heroine straight out of a comic book—and I murdered a person.

Nate's adoptive sister, Drew Armstrong. I've been haunted by what I did ever since. Every time I fall asleep I have nightmares about it—if it's not about killing her, it's about killing other people, people I care for. It's horrible. I'm not sure how many days I've gone without more than three hours of sleep... I lost count. My brain was starting to punish me with headaches, though.

"No," He said in a clearly sleepy tone.

I wanted to hang myself for waking him up. If I was doing bad in the sleeping department, Nate was worse by far. He wouldn't admit it, but I knew he wasn't sleeping much, either. I knew why too. It was all because he was locked up in that minuscule, dark cell... thinking about it made me want to shoot Drew's dead body. Yeah I was completely fine—not. Anyway, when I'd found us a motel and snuck Nate to our rented room I took care of him, like I said I would. I played his nurse, never left him alone—only once, when I had to buy food. I bought enough for a month so I wouldn't need to go out again; everything to stay beside him. Those first nights he didn't sleep, it was understandable, but the longer it passed the less he slept. One night, I fell asleep while drawing, my nightstand light was left on—when I woke up with one of my nightmares he was asleep as blissfully as ever. I was relieved and turned the light off—that was the biggest mistake I could've made. Nathaniel had sprung awake like he'd caught fire; I'd fought with the switch trying to get it to turn on anew. So my twenty-two year old boyfriend couldn't sleep without the bedside light on. Just because of that I wanted to kill Drew over and over. It was her fault Nate thought he was back in that hell hole every time darkness came around him. I was sorry to wake him because he was still recuperating his sleeping habits. The light on helped him go to sleep, it didn't mean he didn't have dreams like I did. While Nate's nightmares were silent, meaning he just woke up suddenly, mine weren't. I kicked, punched, tossed all over bed—sometimes.

"You're lying," I framed his cheek, he leant into the touch. "I'm getting good at catching your lies."

He snorted softly.

"I never said I was a good liar." Hum, that was true.

"Mel," Nate's arms came around me, pulling my body to his. "Are you going to tell me about them?" He meant the dreams. I hadn't told him anything about them. It was strange how before it was me the one who had to beg him to open up with me. Though, I still had to—my point was that now Nathaniel had to do it too. At least, when it came to the nightmares…

"It's nothing," I snuggled into his chest.

Nate's red sweatshirt was freshly washed but it was all sticky because of my sweating back. I wrinkled my nose.

"Now who's lying?" He said in a slight amused tone. "Did you forget how your voice goes up?" His finger moved in a circle on my hip. "How you blush?"

I was blushing alright, but right now it had nothing to do with lying. Nathaniel's hand roamed the waistband of my cotton panties.

"You know you can tell me," Nate's nose rubbed my cheek. "You should tell me."

Yes, I should. I wanted to, but how could I burden him with my fears and craziness when he had so much on his plate? Nate was the one who'd been incarcerated for five days. Five days with no food, drinks—nothing.

"You were sleeping so well," I caught his wondering hand. "I ruined it." My thumb stroke his palm, his fingers.

Nate's forehead leant on my head; my long russet hair was parted in the middle allowing me to feel his breath wash over my neck.

"I thought you were the righteous one out of the two of us."

My being was shaken by his statement, it tore me up how he used the past tense—did he think I was an amoral human being? I did…

You were supposed to feel guilt when you pulled a trigger. I pulled it three times and felt nothing. Afterwards, when I thought about what I'd done, I didn't feel remorse or guilt. Sure Drew was an evil person, but she was still human. Normal people didn't take another life.

"I was..." I whispered hollowly.

Immediately, Nate's hold loosened and he whirled me around to face him. His hands rested on either side of my face.

"Don't do this, Mel. Don't shut me out—I can't help if you don't tell me..." Nathaniel's wavy strands fell to my forehead as easily as the worry filled his voice. "I know this isn't easy for you, stop acting like nothing's wrong—that's my part. You're the one who cries because you can't take anymore—"

"Nate—"

"No," He said with firmness. "I know why you're doing this—why you're keeping everything bottled up inside."

I tried not to bite my lip; I always did it when I was nervous.

"Mel..." Nate shook his head sadly; I lifted my hands to his face. "I know, okay?"

"Know what...?" I cracked knowing he could read me like an open book.

"I'm not at the top of my game—I know. But you don't need to keep walking on eggshells around me—I'm not going to break." Nathaniel stated the last part sort of undignified.

It still freaked me out how he always seemed to know what I was doing or thinking. It was too out there.

"Nate I didn't mean... I don't think you'll break..."

"Sure you do," My eyes avoided his. "I was a mess when you found me, princess. If I'd found you like that... I'd be worried, too." Nate's deep voice softened once more. "Look," He sighed. "It's not that I'm not thankful for what you were trying to do. I am." I smiled slightly... "But I'm not a baby, I can handle things. I don't need you to protect me from your problems." He looked up and I swear I heard a curse in the middle of prayer. "God, this is the most pansy thing I'll ever say..." Nate muttered meeting my eyes. "Your problems are mine, Melissa."

Brandy eyes shone into mine, mine were wild with emotion threatening to break through.

I loved Nathaniel; still I hated how he could say the right thing and make me cry...

I didn't hiccup or sob. They were just trails of water running down my face. His fingers worked quickly but tenderly, collecting my tears.

"Tell me what's on your mind, princess." He whispered when buried my face into his exposed chest.

I was aware of him brushing my hair, aware of his warmth... I couldn't imagine my life without him.

"Nate," I called at last. "What did you feel... the first time you killed a person?"

That was the thing I'd been dying to ask him. Had he felt like I did, now? Had he had nightmares accusing him of every blasphemous thing?

Nathaniel was glancing down into my eyes, thinking.

"I... that was a long time ago." I was about to frown, thinking he wouldn't share... "I was fifteen the first time." My eyes burst open again, Nate chuckled dryly. "Yeah," Was all he said for confirmation. "I felt relieved."

"Relieved...?" I asked with the softness and curiosity of a child.

Nate changed his hold me, sliding us a little lower into the mattress.

"Hum-huh," He chanted. "I was impulsive back then—"

"Back then?" I couldn't help state.

Nathaniel pinched my puffy nose—from crying—and I couldn't help a small smile.

"I used to be worse,"

Worse? That didn't seem possible somehow; I remained quiet so he could explain the rest, though.

"Anyway," He carried on. "It was John's—my Dad's job, I'd gone with him to Vancouver, though. The night before my Dad was supposed to kill the man I snuck out of our hotel. I was eager to convince my parents that I was ready to into the family business." Nate grimaced all on his own, without me saying or doing anything. "When I found our target he ended up shooting me—it hit here," Nate took my hand placing it on his right shoulder.

"There's no scar," I pointed out.

He shrugged. I couldn't imagine Nate getting shot, I'd seen a bullet graze him—his neck. But never shot, and I was eternally glad for it.

"I'm too handsome to be scared," I rolled my eyes, tracing the curve of his shoulder. "So, I was shot and it was the first time—"

"Did it hurt a lot?"

"Like a bitch," Nate gave me a look; I knew he wanted me to stop asking obvious questions. "It was bleeding really badly and I was on my own. I didn't imagine the guy had guns, I thought it was another business man or something." He paused looking to the other side of the room. "I thought I was going to die—obviously I didn't and I'll spare you all the gory details of my amazing survival—but the point is" Nate gazed into my aquamarine orbs. "At that point I wasn't killing the man because it was a job. I was killing him to live. That's why I felt relieved when he died—it meant I was alive."

Nathaniel waited patiently for me to break our staring game, for me to say something. He knew I wasn't the quiet type.

I didn't say a word for good measured minutes. I was thinking of the situations he'd been in, comparing it to mine. Drew would've killed me and dragged Nate back into the cell—then she'd pretend-rescue him, etcetera.

I knew I'd killed in my and Nathaniel's self-defense, I got that, but it still bothered me.

"You killed Drew because you didn't have a choice." I was startled when he spoke her name; he hadn't done it since I'd rescued him. He said it with enough spite for me to know he wished he could have killed her. "Survival of the fittest,"

Yeah… but she'd been way fitted than me. She'd been a trained killer—I was an art student who couldn't stand the sight of blood. How did that happen?

It's in my veins… I heard the thought.

Was it?

"Nate?"

"Yes?"

I shifted around, settling on my knees looking into his exquisite eyes.

"I'm scared," His hands sought mine, lacing our fingers together. "What if… what if this changes me? I killed a person. I know it was Drew," I continued cutting him off before he began. "But what if that means that I can kill… other people? I don't feel remorse about what I did and—"

"You acted in self-defense, like you said, there was no choice. Your instinct kicked in—everyone has it, Mel. Everyone is capable of killing," I frowned in disbelieve. "It's true, if people have the right motivation they are capable of it—the motives for killing someone may vary, but everyone is capable of it." His hands fell to my waist lifting me off bed and bringing us together again. "You're not going to start killing everyone—trust me."

I did trust him… but I was insecure, unsure. I didn't want him to know. I just wanted this doubt to vanish—it didn't.

"How do you get over it?" I asked earnestly.

Nathaniel draped an arm under his head, his stare lingering on mine.

"You want me to be honest?" Hesitantly I nodded. "It doesn't," I sighed irritated with my brain and its thoughts. "It doesn't mean that you don't find a way to deal with it."

"How do you do it?" Nate licked his lips.

Then his hand ruffled his hair—nervous.

"Every person I've killed has some sort of… shady past. I do background checks on targets before taking a contract—most of them should've gone to jail… they'd probably get the death penalty. I'm just doing clean up service."

Well, that was surprising. I never imagined Nate doing something like that—I knew he had good in him, sure, but not to that level.

"I didn't know you did that," I sounded satisfied and pleased, he could tell.

"There are a lot of things you don't know about me, sweetheart." He flicked my nose, smirking in my awed face.

True—when I thought I'd discovered every puzzle piece there was to Nate I kept finding more. He was a mystery, kind of like the treasure hunt my parents left me in charge of—only Nathaniel-puzzle I liked, a lot.

"I love you," I whispered.

His lips hovered in front of mine for a split second before making contact.

After all the times I kissed him my body was still set aflame each time, it was incredible how much I wanted him. In the middle of all this messed up state we were in our kisses remained untouched.

Booming thunder surfed the sky—purple light filled the room in a second.

I parted away from him, he laughed.

"Did you forget why we're crashing here in the first place?" Nate tucked a loose strand laughing.

Yes, I had. There was a bad lighting storm and he'd decided we should stop for the night—though we were only one mile away from Richmond. We were on our way to Georgia, our third, marked destination.

"You make it hard for me to stay focused," I said cheekily.

Chuckling he brought the covers over us.

"Didn't I say something like that once?"

"Yep," I pressed a kiss to his cheek. "It's called recycling."

Nate curled an arm around me and I allowed myself to simply enjoy how it felt to be held by him. Soon, the scent of cinnamon lolled me into sleep. There was no assurance that it was going to be a calm night, though.


First chapter is done! I hope you like it! Comment :)