1 Secret Notebook

I jolt up in bed, panting as my heart quickly scampers away like a startled wingless creature, fleeing from the scene of this guilty place that I have once again found myself in. There is a warm blooming desire still spiraling deliciously where his hands were. And his hands were everywhere.

He visits me every night—this unknown stranger in my dreams. And every night, I have to awake and scribble down every detail, every tender touch and nibble and caress… committing to paper every teasing trail that he leaves on my skin until it feels like he is in the room right there next to me in the dark, watching his own story spill out onto the pages of this secret notebook. Until it feels like this specter of seduction is real.

One of these days, I am going to be discovered. One of these days my perfectly put together life will come crumbling down around me, because there is no room for scandalous daydreams as an intern at Möbius Media—especially when I want to become an Advertising Executive one day. Especially when the CEO's son, Lawson, just asked me out on a date for this Friday.

How am I supposed to date him or anyone else when I can't get through one night of dreams without being haunted by this mysterious, fictional person? How am I supposed to even just get through a regular workday without someone noticing the shadows under my eyes from sleepless nights?

My pen works feverishly, tracing this path the fictional character from my dreams has left on my skin. I bite my lip and shift uncomfortably in bed, avoiding glancing up at the disarray my previously folded sheets are now in. I have kicked them free during sleep. I have tousled and broken out of their tightly bound security.

'Once he was satisfied and my own trembling finally ceased, he tilted my chin and kissed down the length of my neck… each feathery kiss softer than the last until finally the kisses disappeared altogether.'

"And I woke up," I say aloud, staring at the final paragraph a little breathless. "Again. I woke up again. Sixteen nights. Sixteen entries. Why? Why?" A whimper breaks in my throat. "When will this end?"

I flip through the pages of the journal, looking back at only the dates—not the words. I can't read those scenes over again. There's something threatening about revisiting them, like I might conjure him if I do. Like they hold a sacred power. Should I read them aloud—or who knows, maybe even just silently—he will materialize next to me with real hands, with real lips, with real… everything.

"Shit," I whimper again.

It verges on a cry, and I have to catch it—swallow it back, push it down, take deep breaths. The journal gets shoved in my drawer out of sight, and I open my mouth to inhale before I realize that's not right—I'm already doing it wrong.

Shaking my head quickly, trying to dispel the mistake and shake off this flustered state, I wiggle in the sheets to find a proper position. "Deep breaths," I whisper to myself, closing my eyes to concentrate.

This time, I clamp my mouth shut and breathe in. Slowly, air is pulled in through my nose, and then my lips part to let it back out into the room. In through the nose. Out through the mouth. In. Out. In. Out. Slower and deeper.

A deep growl of approval reaches through the memory of the dream, and my eyes shoot open.

"Oh gods. Shit shit shit shit shit." This time it is a cry, strangled with rising hysteria, because what the hell was I just repeating? And what beautiful, seductive growl was I just hearing in my mind—in my WAKING mind? Have I now been totally and completely corrupted? And it only took sixteen days out of the twenty four years of my life?!

The cursing is unlike me, but words like that are nothing compared to these dreams! To these thoughts! They are nothing I could have ever come up with on my own, and they will not cease. They are throwing my life into absolute turmoil. But now I'm actually HEARING him?

"No, Auraya," I whisper harshly to myself. "This is not happening. It always goes away when you write it down."

I pull the drawer back open in a panic, the pen crashing against its interior, and grab again for the journal. My eyes scan the scene I wrote down tonight… making sure I got every detail. Him sliding into bed next to me, teasing the hem of my night shirt and drawing slow, lazy circles on my stomach. The way he tilted my chin and took my mouth with the flat of his tongue rolling against mine, his thumb trailing down my neck.

My thighs clench together, heat rising in my groin, in my cheeks, in my… everywhere. But tears are pinching my eyes and blurring the writing, because… this is madness. It's madness that I can't get away from. It's aching, thrilling madness.

"I got it all," I whimper. "Every little bit. What did I miss? Why are you haunting me?"

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