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It ended at Midnight -Chapter 9

by myjaspercat


Soft music filled my ears as I tried to keep myself asleep. Its sweet melodic sound aroused me awake and before I opened my eyes I already knew that I would be waking up in the same bedroom as I had before. This time it didn’t make me uncomfortable. I don’t know how long I had been out this time but from the shadows on the wall opposite the bed I guessed it was probably around mid-afternoon. Just like before I was alone but this time instead of the door being closed it was cracked open. The music drifted its way through from somewhere close by. I sat up, looking down at my arm which someone had carefully wrapped up in a sling around my shoulder. It was probably that man if I had to put my money on it. I sat there for a second trying to pick out what I was listening too but I couldn’t quite place the sound. Sad really. I happened to enjoy music a lot. Maybe if I got closer I could make it out. Moving my legs over the edge of the bed I made sure that there was no chance in hell I would trip again. Clumsy really was a bad look on me.

I stood up and tested my balance, if the man was right earlier then I had been lying down long enough to make my balance a little unsteady. After a moment of standing there I started to walk towards the open door. When I reached it I cracked it open just enough to slip through it without making too much noise. I didn’t really want anyone to realize I had woken back up again. Especially that man. I don’t know why but the idea of him giving me that disapproving sympathetic look again didn’t settle right. I didn’t want to disapprove him for some reason. Carefully I made my way down a long hallway towards the room at the end, soft light filtering its way from under the closed door.

The music was coming in clearer now and I recognized the slow beat of an old folk song. I hadn’t heard it since I was a little girl. It was one my mother used to sing to me and Veronica when we were scared. She said she learned it when she was little, that it was a song the woman in her hometown sang around candlelight to ward off evil and it would protect us. I wonder why it is playing here now. Everyone else I grew up with had no idea what the song even was. When I reached the door I stopped, my hand resting on the handle tentatively. I so wanted to open it and let the song playing on the other side embrace me fully but I was afraid. What if the man was on the other side? There’s no doubt he would be mad that I left the bedroom where he left me. I would probably get yelled at for roaming his house without permission. But the soft lull of the music drew me in and without a second thought I pushed open the door.

As soon as I stepped inside the room I could feel the warmth of a fire kiss my skin. It was some kind of office and there wasn’t anyone currently occupying it, the music just left to play. I stepped into the room fully and looked around. A large desk sat in the middle of the room scattered with papers. Behind it was the largest window I’ve ever seen. It spanned the length of the room and looked out into dense trees. I still had to be somewhere in the middle of the forest. On the right side of the room were a couple of sitting couches with a table between them and I wondered why the man would have such a formal looking seating area in his home. It was a little weird, I mean we had an office at home and of course my parents furnished it the same way they furnished the rest of the house. You know, like we were a wealthy upper class family when in reality we were just like all of the other middle class families on the street of our small logging town. But it wasn’t anything like this. So pristine and regal looking.

It wasn't until I turned to look on the other side that I gasped softly. The entire left side was dominated with overflowing bookshelves that held what had to be hundreds of beautiful novels. I hadn’t seen so many books outside of the school library. My parents never believed in them, they said reading fiction was dumb and that it would do nothing but rot my brain with pointless fantasies. My copy of Twilight that Veronica ruined was one of my few cherished novels. I picked my way over to the shelves, running my fingertips across the spines. I read the titles carefully, trying to find the one that really jumped out at me. Some of the titles were familiar, books I had read at school throughout the years and some I had managed to sneak into my bedroom. However the majority of them I hadn’t even heard of, I’m pretty sure many of them were in another language altogether.

I don’t know how long I stood there reading through the titles but eventually one of them caught my eye enough that I carefully pulled it from its place. Turning the worn book around to read the back I made my way over to the couches and curled myself onto the end of one. Hopefully whoever that man was wouldn’t mind if I just sat here and read a while. He had brought me here against my will, technically, and it’s been a hot minute since I was able to enjoy a new novel. Opening the book I started to read, letting the music and fireplace pull me into a quiet rhythm of flipping pages.

A couple hours passed, or at least I think it was a couple hours based on the growing darkness that seeped its way into the trees outside the window. I had sufficiently made my way through half the book and by god it was good. My stomach growled a little, I don’t know when the last time I ate was but I was definitely starting to feel the hunger claw its way out. I really didn’t want to leave the office though, this was the most at peace I had felt in a long time and I selfishly wanted as much of it as I could claim. As if on cue, to ruin my serenity, the air in the room shifted. Someone was standing behind me and a shiver ran itself down my spine. Damint. I was so going to be in for it. I knew I should put the book down and turn around and face whatever anger was most likely waiting for me. Instead I just continued to read, hoping that maybe if I ignored him then I could put off facing him.

The sweet chocolate and pine scent filled my nose again, just like it did in the forest and back in the bedroom and it eased my nerves a little. His presence was overwhelming and yet comforting all at the same time. I could feel him shift his weight behind me, his breath tickling the back of my neck as he leaned in.

“That just so happens to be one of my favorites. How are you enjoying it so far?”

His voice sent shivers running down my spine. I swallowed back the nervous spit in my mouth. Suddenly it got very hard to focus on the words in front of me. I’m pretty sure I’ve now reread the same sentence like three times. I could still feel his breath on my skin and if I didn’t know any better I could v say with 100 percent positivity that he was smirking. After about the fifth time in the same sentence I finally took note of the page number and closed the book, gulping before I turned around to look at the man who so rudely disturbed my peace. The second I did I regretted it. His face was inches away from mine and just like I guessed the biggest smirk was plastered across lips. I sucked in air so quickly it made me a little light headed. His eyes stared into mine, waiting for a response to his question.

“I uh, I’m sorry for barging in here. I just heard the music and wanted to investigate a little but then I got distracted by the books.” I said, my eyes moving from his and down to his mouth.

“What music?”

“What?” I asked, still watching his mouth as his lips moved.

“There’s no music playing. How long have you been here, little one?” He chuckled, the sound making me feel a little queasy.

“Oh?” Was all I could muster as I finally tore my eyes back up to his, leaning away a little so I wasn’t so close to him in an attempt to regain a little mental clarity. “I don’t know. I think I’ve been here for a couple hours. If I’m intruding I really am sorry.”

Trying to turn away to hide the blush that was most definitely making its way across my cheeks I put the book down and got up. My legs tingling back to life from being crisscrossed for so long. The man chuckled again and I could hear him move around the couch until he stood right next to me again. God why did he keep having to do that. I couldn’t think clearly when he was near me.

“No need to apologize my dear. You are more than welcome to come in here and read whenever you wish. I’m pleased to see that you are recovering well, you had us all a little worried for a bit.”

I turned around and looked at him again. This is the second time in I don’t know how long that he's confused me with what he’s saying. What does he mean ‘us?’ I could see the amusement in his expression in my obviously confused one. It seemed like this was all a game to him. The vagueness. Kind of rude if you asked me.

“Um, thanks.” I said as I picked at the hem of my shorts.

The silence between us now was starting to get deafening and it was making me uncomfortable again. There were so many things I wanted to ask him I just didn’t know how. He seemed to guess my apprehension and sat down where I was sitting moments ago and patted the spot next to him. Inviting me to take a seat too. Like before, when he first entered the bedroom I pictured my parents. This time it was the endless lectures they would give me in our living room about how awful I was and how I was ruining the family. It made me queasy. I looked at the spot next to him and shook my head. I couldn’t get the courage to sit.

“Melody please sit.” He said, reaching a hand out towards me now, “we really need to have a conversation. I’ve put it off longer than I should have.”

“I know… I have so many questions for you. I just -I don’t know, I just really can’t do it here.” Those stupid tears started to prickle at my vision again. Why the hell couldn’t I just control my emotions for once. I’m normally so good at it, what is it about this man that makes me so not myself.

“Okay. Then where would you like to talk?”

I looked at him and then at the window. Nodding in the direction of the forest I walked past him and out the door. Absolutely without any clue on how to get outside but determined to regain a little control back into my life. If we were going to talk then it was going to be in a place I could easily escape from if things started to get weird. Not like they hadn't already but you know. I didn’t even look back to see if he was following me, something inside me told me that he was. 

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658 Reviews

Points: 82143
Reviews: 658

Fri Mar 03, 2023 1:33 pm
RandomTalks wrote a review...


RandomTalks here with a short review!

This was a nice chapter - it slowed the pace down a little and gave us a chance to just get to know the characters. There was not much progress in terms of plot, but it still managed to capture the essence of the novel that is usually a little more fast-paced.

Things I liked:

I liked the monotone of the narration in this part; it kept me interested even though there was not much happening at all and we were just following Melody as she explored the house and lost herself in a book. I think this has something to do with your narrative style. I think I have said this before - the characters in this book narrate as though they are conversing with the readers. When you follow your narration and descriptions with thoughts that are unique to the characters and reflect their personalities, it makes us feel more involved in the story. And it definitely makes for an engaging read since it feels as though we are always connected to the characters and always learning more about them.

I hadn’t heard it since I was a little girl. It was one my mother used to sing to me and Veronica when we were scared.

Somehow, I faced difficulty in imagining any scenario where Melody's mother sang to her daughters, but this is mostly because it does not fit in context with the image of her that you have presented to us until now. Still this random thought in Melody's head implies that once upon a time, she did share a normal relationship with her family. It made me curious and I really wish we get to explore her family's dynamics at some point and understand what led them here.

It wasn't until I turned to look on the other side that I gasped softly.

I enjoyed the descriptions in this part. They provided us with some much needed visuals and helped us to imagine the scenes better and even form a more solid opinion about Jack. What I enjoyed more than the descriptions were Melody's reactions to them. Her curious fascination with the bookshelves and her comparing Jack's space with her parents' office simultaneously tell us much about both the characters.

I also enjoyed Melody and Jack's interactions in this chapter. Now that they are no longer overcome by the rush of emotions at finding themselves in this situation, I feel like we finally get to witness them interacting as they are rather than reacting to the situation. I liked how you have portrayed the awareness that they both have for one another - it seems like a tangible thing, especially with how responsive they are to each other's presence and reactions. It lays a solid basis for the 'mate' plotline that you have introduced to us before. I am definitely curious to see how Jack explains that to Melody.

Things to consider:

Now, I agree with Horisun on this point - the chapter does seem a little unrealistic in terms of Melody's reactions to the entire situation. Considering her panic and her passionate attempts at escape in the previous chapter, here it seems almost as though a switch had been flipped in her. She seems more accepting of the situation and it feels a little weird that in finding herself all alone in a strange house in the middle of nowhere with a strange man who happens to know her name, she did not once think of escaping. She had the perfect opportunity here, and instead she spent the afternoon reading a book in her kidnapper's house. Even if she views Jack as her saviour rather than her kidnapper, still her actions and reactions in this chapter do not add up.

I didn’t want to disapprove him for some reason.

For example, here, this would not be a normal thought towards someone who has confined you to their home and also happens to know your name for some reason. Now, if you were trying to establish their mate connection here it would make sense. But throughout the chapter, Melody seemed uncharacteristically polite and considerate of Jack and I am not sure if this is how a normal person would react under similar circumstances.

That's all!

Overall, this was a nice continuation of the story. And like Melody, I too am looing forward to finally hearing Jack's explanations in the next chapter.

Keep writing and have a great day!

Until next time!

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430 Reviews

Points: 4658
Reviews: 430

Tue Jan 17, 2023 11:55 pm
Horisun wrote a review...

Hey! Sorry for getting to this a little later. I hope you're having a great day or night!

This was a good chapter to slow down and get to know Melody better. After all the antics, it was great to see she's still the curious bookworm she was at the start! I wish we got a better description of the book she was reading. It would've given insight not only to her interests, but Jacks as well!

I did find her actions this chapter to be a tad unrealistic though. As much as I like Jack and Melody, I wish they met under different circumstances. The latter is awfully chill about her blatant kidnapping, and her choice to mosey around in the library for hours felt awfully odd. She didn't act the way I'd expect someone in her situation to.

That's not to say I'd expect her to go racing through the halls. I do think Jack was somewhat justified in his actions, being that he couldn't call 911 and found a person unconscious in the woods- but I feel like the text could've made that clearer.

All this is to say, I'd like Melody to have a tad more agency. I would've liked it if she sought out Jack and he explained the situation right away. If his intentions really were just to help an injured girl, he has nothing to be ashamed about. I do appreciate that they're going to talk more next chapter.

All in all, I'm very excited to read what happens next! I hope, despite getting off on the wrong foot, the two of them can clear the air!

Keep on writing, and have a great day/night! :D

See, we could have been called The Shoes.
— Paul McCartney