Please note: This is a sequel/spinoff of another story I wrote, called Roses. I would suggest reading that first.

Content warnings: Cursing, violence, death, and sexual harrasment.

Warmth spread across my back and head as sunlight hit, making the wisps of hair I could see outside the corner of my eye turn gold. The seasons were turning from summer into winter, one that would be bitterly cold like always, but it was warm now. I could feel warmth all around me.

Not inside. Inside, I was cold, calculating, and emotionless. As always. Even now, as I looked into their eyes- the one I was meant to love- I couldn't feel warmth.

I couldn't see any warmth in their eyes either, nor any love. Their eyes were filled with awe, admiration. They didn't see me as a human, a partner, an equal- I was worshiped by them. I didn't want to be worshiped. I wanted to be loved. They looked nearly intoxicated, nostrils flaring as they breathed in the scent of my rose perfume. Drunk on love- no, not love, that's stupid. On lust. Devotion. Blind obedience.

Whatever I wanted to call it, it still wasn't love.

But it was the best I would ever get, wasn't it?

No one loved me. Not my parents, who wanted me to conform perfectly and obey every suffocating rule, who would... who would punish me whenever I didn't. And I never did, because I was a girl with loosely buttoned shirts and plum lipstick and rose perfume, and I snuck into the woods with anyone enamored with me, and I isolated myself, and watched suffering with a strange fascination.

Not my peers. At best, they feared me, tiptoed along every word for as long as I can remember. Maybe before. At worst, they hated me. I was a freak, a slut, an object. Anyone who treated me with any semblance of kindness only wanted the chance to fuck me, because I was still an object to them. The price they thought they deserved for not calling me a freak was my body, thought they were entitled to it.

But the sunlight-bathed figure in front of me, they weren't like that. They treated me kindly and expected nothing in return. Their house was a place I could go after school when I couldn't go to my own. They asked if I was okay when my classmates were particularly cruel. They weren't like that.

I thought. I thought they genuinely liked me, for me. I thought they loved me when no one else could. I thought it would be different.

It wasn't. They only liked me because I was beautiful, or strong, or different. A mystery. A golden, rose scented mystery to solve and worship. Not a person to love. Not really.

Why did I think it would be different?

I kissed them. I kissed them anyway, tasted chapped lips. I leaned in, tangled a hand in their hair, and they closed the gap. I kissed them, and tried to forget that they were kissing me for all the wrong reasons. I tried to enjoy it anyway, because this was the best I would ever get, no one would ever kiss me for the right ones.

And I pulled away when I couldn't pretend anymore.

We started dating. They kissed me, and made me laugh, and we shared hot chocolate as the days got colder.

It was nice, I supposed.

They said they loved me. Did they not know the difference between love and desire?