Rose’s room is dark, lit only by a lamp at her bedside swathed in a silk scarf. Its dim glow barely illuminates the tremble in her shoulders where she sits at the edge of her bed.
“It’s really you, isn’t it?” she asks, and her voice is quiet and steady. Noah, standing awkward in the middle of the room, nods in reply. Rose stands, slowly, and makes her way towards him. She stares up and places her hands on either side of Noah’s face. Her palms are hot on his cheeks.
“You feel the same,” she says. “Your skin’s still so cold. I thought you’d be warmer.”
Rose is close enough that Noah can feel her soft against the length of his body. She fits against him so perfectly in this form, as though she is the snake rippling and coiling to follow every curve. His hands are at her waist and he pulls her closer. He’s been waiting, since she fell into his arms in the hallway he’s been waiting, perhaps since a very long time before that. She sighs, and her breath makes his hair flutter against his ear.
“You’re the only one who knows me,” Rose says. “I’d always wondered what it would be like if you were…”
Noah can feel Rose’s heart thudding in time with his own. His hands have moved from her waist, unbidden, and now they rest on her shoulders. Slowly, almost hesitantly, he hooks his thumb around the strap of her dress and pulls, leaving the white of her skin exposed. His pulse quickens. He knows the rules, and the consequences, and he knows there is another body clothed in soft white skin waiting in his bed for him. And still he leans down and presses his lips to the join of Rose’s neck.
Rose’s fingers twine in Noah’s hair. They are stumbling back to the bed, and Noah does not know whether he pushes or she pulls, maybe it’s both. His skin burns where she presses into him, her body is hot all over.
“I won’t see you again after this, will I?” she asks as Noah’s hands slide up her thighs.
“Close your eyes,” Noah tells her.