|I kept having the same dream, over and over.
Eventually I made the connection that the voice was Ryan's, but it didn't help me come to any type of compromise. It kept me up at night, kept me awake before I got to sleep, and haunted me in the bright daylight. The only thing that changed was the time each night. It wavered between three to five in the morning, and I'd always wake up at the same time it had read the night before.
I didn't like it.
Stephaney didn't call, or text, or E-mail, or contact me in any way. Nor, for that matter, did anyone. My boss had noticed how distracted I was, and when I told him about the bad dreams, he generously gave me some time off. Not that it did me any good.
Yet, strangely, I was addicted to the dream. I craved it as much as I dreaded it. I jumped into bed and lay awake. I was never content.
Finally, I'd had enough, and as soon as Drew had a party again, I was there, just like last time, only with a lack of Stephaney in tow.
I lingered by the door for almost three hours, my hands fidgeting, my breathing coming out in gasps. I didn't know what I was waiting for. Ryan, perheaps, to demand he explain what he'd meant by his Morpheus comment, and to rid myself of this cycle every night. I felt like a zombie. I knew I looked like one. Not even the hammered-guys hit on me.
Just as I was about to leave, I heard a voice behind me, a voice I had heard every single night for the past two weeks.
"Had enough, yet, Iona?"
I spun around, and all my practiced and carefully planned words flew out of my head. "I-I..."
"Shhh...I know, my dear, I know. Let me fix that for you."
Before I could protest, I was being carried to my car and plopped into the passenger's seat, numbly handing my keys over and giving directions to my house. I was in no shape to face anyone.
And I'd just given him the keys to my apartment.
He carried me into my small abode, lttered with empty take-out boxes and old clothes I'd been too stressed out to clean up. He sat me on the bed and ran cold water in the sink. Placing a damp washcloth on my forehead, he said, "You haven't been sleeping well."
It wasn't a question, but I felt like I should nod.
"You've been having bad dreams."
"Dream." I corrected, though my voice sounded weak. "Over and over and over and-"
"I know, darling, I know. I can fix that."
Ryan took a deep breath, tangling his hands in my hair and forcing me to look into his eyes. "A kiss. But you have to say yes."
"Will the dreams stop?" My hands were shaking now, though whether with hope or dread, i didn't know.
"They will get better. But you won't be here."
"Where will I be?"
Ryan took another deep breath, smiling a little. "With me. In a realm of darkness, where dreams are all that is."
Ryan grew serious. "No. Not forever. For as long as possible...but I won't make you stay there forever." He pulled me closer. "Is it a yes or a no?"
I felt my bottom lip tremble. "Do I have a choice?"
"Somewhat." I watched the way his lips curled, his brown hair falling just the right way over his eyes, his hands in my hair driving me crazy.
"Kiss me." I whispered. "Please."
Ryan smiled. "If I kiss you, you have to promise you won't scream....."
His lips pressed into mine, and I knew that there was no going back.