Chapter 62: Ulterior Motives
Plum’s troubled expression showed she really upset about my sighting of her doppelganger. Truth be told, seeing it had deeply disturbed me. For those few horrible moments after the blinding burst of light, I was convinced that Plum died right before my eyes. The sense of loss was immediate and gut wrenching. To have finally gained a level of intimacy with her, only to have it snatched away felt devastating.
My emotions were still raw, from everything that happened that evening. Flashbacks of Hiromi’s death at my hands were distressing. I wanted to hold Plum and never let go. She had sunk down onto the couch and sat staring off into space in preoccupied silence. Craving physical contact but suddenly self-conscious, I went and lay a hand on her shoulder. Plum abruptly stood up and turned away. My hand fell back to my side. She had dismissed me like a servant.
I just stood there feeling awkward and foolish. Looking back on that whole situation, it’s easy to see my actions as a selfish attempt to satisfy a thirst for attention rather than actually comforting her. Wordlessly, Plum had walked away. Struck by the realization that she was actually going to retreat to her room and just leave me standing there, made me feel confused and rejected. My insecurity came out as petulance. I wanted to make her stay and pay attention to me.
“I thought you said that killing Hiromi would end the curse. If that’s the case, then why did I just see your doppelganger? Either she’s not dead or you made me kill her for no reason,” I blurted.
Plum turned back towards me. Her alarmed look made me instantly regret my impulsive words. It’s difficult to say which frightened me more; the fear in her eyes or the realization that something I said for dramatic effect turned out to be true. The idea that Plum might have made me kill Hiromi, knowing that my curse would remain unbroken, left a bad taste in my mouth. That would mean that she had used me again.
Of course, the only other explanation for seeing a doppelganger wasn’t much better. If Hiromi had somehow survived, not only was I still cursed but Plum and I would have to watch our backs. Being hunted by a powerful witch bent on vengeance was a chilling thought. I should have been shaking in my boots, but I wasn’t thinking clearly. Plum’s kiss had me head over heels in love…or was it infatuation? I’m still not sure. In that moment, my only concern was our relationship. So, I asked the question while dreading her answer.
“Which is it Plum? Did you force me to kill Hiromi just to rid yourself of an enemy…or were you really trying to break the curse on me?”