Rachel stayed within her group of friends, reluctant to stand alone, and looked awkward, which was how she felt. She tried to give him the impression that she was absorbed in conversation with them, laughing now and then to make him think that she was not aware of him. But she was aware. She realised he had glanced across the room at her several times. She had not returned his glance because she was afraid of doing so; so afraid of what might happen should they gaze upon each other, even for a single moment. But she knew that he was looking at her. She knew that he was watching her. She knew he was burning too.
Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, they looked straight into each other's eyes.
They were both consumed with wild promiscuous excitement and a sense of wanton physical belonging. They were swept away by raging storms, dying stars, and galaxies that would not spin. They were in a world that was not a world; a spectrum that was black and white and yet was coloured, birds that could not fly and fires that would not burn. For one incessant moment, they held each other in this song of ecstasy and violence, where the sun was burnt up and the earth had ceased to turn.
Just a look, that's all it was. A glance across a room, a sense of recognition saying "I know you, I know that you are there, I know everything about you. I know your mouth is soft and warm. I know your smile, and I hear your laugh, what you sound like when you sing and when you cry and when you sigh and when you whisper. Where you go when you are sleeping. How you toss your head, and how you run your fingers through your hair. How you close your eyes. Touch me Rachel, touch me. Gently at first, then hold me, hold me like a bird. But I am touching you. I know.
For the next few days, she tried to make herself believe she had been dreaming, absent, somehow missing from herself. After all, such things were often caught within the spiral of our dreams, the trickle of imagination, seized upon by thought and thrown about in some internal night. It had been at best a casual look, and maybe she had just imagined it. But she knew she hadn't. Perhaps he hadn't even been looking at her at all; maybe he was looking at someone else. But she knew he wasn't.
Life went on as normal, but it didn't. Her body was insane. Her mind was hurtling towards the sun. She hardly knew she was alive. Everything she did and said was charged with rampant sexual excitement. A beacon had been lit inside her, and it radiated hectic light.
She was relieved when all the new fittings for the hotel arrived in time for summer. She hoped being busy would take her mind away from thoughts of David. But it didn't. She took several days to organise and itemise the new stock, and even longer to appropriate it. She was so tired at the end of every day she had no energy to think of anything at all, but she thought of David.
Just knowing he was there. Knowing he was waiting, as she was. Knowing there was sunlight on the sea. That great shattered night, the silken darkness that invades the sky and leaves it starless, the moon that shivers in the distance, and the wounded daylight bright with pain. I am here because of you, I breathe because of you, I am consumed by you. I was in the wilderness, now I am in the light because of you. We are wounded by each other's scent, lost within the honey-coloured night that trickles downwards through the dark green fields of centuries before. We have come across each other halfway through a dream and the light of all the world is in the wonder that we saw.
The next time Rachel saw David was when she went to collect the children from their Confirmation class. Usually a neighbour, Sarah, picked them up when Rachel was working, but this was her day off and she had arranged to collect Sarah's daughter, Alice, along with Rosie and Jack, and take them for ice cream.
David raised his eyebrows in a playful way and smiled at her as she walked into the hall. She smiled briefly in response, but was unable to react the way she longed to, without it seeming she had lost her mind. She could not take her eyes off him. It was as though a strong magnetic field was drowning her. She clung onto his movements as a sightless creature might. She made no attempt to moderate herself; she simply was unable to stop looking at him, as should she do so for a single instant she would cease the act of breathing. He was wearing black, but still the same seductive force was there.
He went round talking to the other parents, but he couldn't hear them. He was looking at them, but he didn't see them. Rachel was watching him. She was aware of nothing else – all other sights and sounds had vanished in the vast commotion that surrounded her – this uncommon, beautiful, extraordinary boy. For that is what he was: a child. A child with all the presence of a pack of starving wolves.