The three quarter moon was high in the sky and shining brightly, lighting their way to the river. Emily stopped at the edge of the water and turned toward Heather. “There is only one reason why I brought you down here.” Emily began.
“I’m not swimming, it’s way too cold.”
“Yes. You are.” Emily said and shoved her into the water.
“What are you doing?” Heather asked, dripping with water on the early October evening.
“You’re going to break up with Travis.” Emily said.
“I’m not breaking up with him, why would you want me to? Oh, you’re in love with him, aren’t you Emily?”
“Yes and he’s mine, he just doesn’t know it yet.”
“You’re crazy if you think I’ll give him up...” Heather said.
Grabbing a hold of Heather’s hair, Emily punched her in the face, leaving Heather dumbfounded. Again, her fist connected with Heather’s nose, knocking her backwards into the water. Grabbing a hold of Heather’s jacket, Emily held her under the water. Heather fought relentlessly but she suddenly inhaled the water and her body shook violently then went limp. Emily knew she was dead.
Pushing her body into the current, Emily washed her hands in the cold water before climbing up to the road. Her entire body was shaking as she realized the horrible thing she had done. Her walk was long and she tried to calm herself before she returned home.
Sitting in the living room with the lights on were her parents, waiting up for her. “Emily, where the hell have you been? It’s nearly midnight.”
“I was out, so what. You let Emily stay out this late.”
“Not on a school night we don’t. She’s home and in bed for your information. This has got to end, coming and going when you please, you take no responsibility for anything you do. You’re grounded for homecoming weekend.”
“Then I’ll sneak out of the house.” She mumbled as she climbed the stairs, ignoring her parents responses.
With the news of Heathers mysterious death, the police had no leads but suspected foul play with the fresh bruising and gashes on her face when her dead body was found the following day. The town was whispering with gossip over the incident. No one knew anything about what happened to her that night, except one person. And she wasn’t incriminating herself.
Sitting on the steps outside the front of school, Casey stared at the bright autumn blaze maple that was always fire red this time of year. She waited for Travis to greet her but he was running late. Coming up behind her, he covered her eyes and whispered in her ear. “Guess who?”
“Um… it’s Mickey Mouse.” She joked.
“Mickey Mouse? You’re funny.” Travis said as he sat down beside her.
“I knew it was you the whole time.” Casey smiled.
“Come on, I want to take you somewhere.”
“Not today, I need to get home, I have a lot of homework to do.”
“But it’s your birthday. I want to take you somewhere, I promise I’ll help you with your homework, and you can help me with my algebra.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“I can’t tell you that, it’s a surprise. Just for a little while then I will take you home.”
“Alright.” She said, standing up.
Following Travis to his car, Casey got in the passengers side. Just two miles out of town was an apple orchard that advertised it’s attractions and hours of operation. After sampling some cider and doughnuts, they indulged in the horse drawn hay ride through the orchard, the field and the forest.
It was romantic as Travis wrapped his arm around Casey. She looked up at him. “Thank you Travis, I’m having a great time with you.”
Travis looked into her deep brown eyes and without a word, leaned down to kiss her. It was their first kiss as they had been best friends for years. Pulling back, Travis looked down at her to see surprise in her eyes. Then she slightly smiled and leaned to kiss him back.
It was all new to Casey. She had never kissed a boy like this and she was surprised to find the first to be Travis. And Travis had never kissed anyone the way he was kissing Casey. She had been buried in his heart for years but now, there was a different kind of admiration. Kissing her was something he’s wanted to do for a long time.
Pulling back from the kiss, Casey wiped her mouth. “I’m so sorry Travis.”
“Please don’t apologize Casey, I was the one who started it. Besides, it wasn’t so bad, was it?”
“No.” She smiled and looked into the darkened forest. By the time they were finished with the hay ride, it was nearly dark.
Returning home, Casey hadn’t paid any attention to all the vehicles in the road as her and Travis got out of the car. Walking in the front door, she turned the corner to the living room to hear the crowd holler ‘Happy Birthday’! It was a surprise birthday party for her and Emily. But Emily was not in attendance.
Greeting all the guests one by one, there were both friends and family there. Seeing her mother, Casey approached her. “Mom, is Emily here?”
“No, she isn’t. I didn’t think she would be.”
“I didn’t think she was here either, I can’t feel her. I don’t know what she’s doing. I guess I get all the presents.” Casey smiled, not bothered by her sisters nonappearance.
“I was afraid of Travis giving this away, but I think you were genuinely surprised.” Her mother said.
“I was. Thank you mom, this is great.”
“I just wish Emily was here too.” Her mother said.
Casey hugged her mother then kissed her on the cheek. “She just hasn’t been the same lately. Ever since Heather’s death, she’s changed.”
“I know, I just don’t know how to help her. I’ve tried everything I can think of. She’s taking the wrong road, getting in with the wrong crowd. She’s going to end up in jail, or worse.”
“Mom, Emily is just as smart as me. She’ll come around one day.” Casey reassured her.
“I hope you’re right. Come on, let’s get something to eat.” Her mother wrapped her arm around her and led her to the table. From across the room, she saw Travis talking to Jason, the Detective. She smiled at him then looked at all the food on the table.
As she sat to eat, Travis came up beside her with his plate of food. “Is this seat taken?” He smiled.
“It is now.” She responded.
Holding small talk, they sat at the table and ate, watching all the guests and greeting some that approached her. Casey couldn’t seem to get the kiss off her mind, it was all she could think about. It was a good thought and left a good feeling.
After eating, they lit the candles and sang ‘Happy Birthday’. Blowing them out, she made a secret wish that was near to her heart. But she could tell no one, not even Travis. After cake and ice cream, the remaining crowd gathered around her as she opened her gifts. Waiting for last, her father handed her a small box. Opening it, it contained a set of keys. She knew they were car keys.
Looking out the window, she saw the cars parked up and down the street but didn’t know which one was hers. Her parents laughed out loud at her. “It’s in the garage.” Her mother informed her.
Running toward the garage, Casey flung open the door to see the used car that was new to her. She jumped into the drivers side and started the car. “Travis, are you coming, or not?” She smiled.
Travis got into the car then Casey backed out of the garage and took her new car for a ride. Driving along the mountainside road, she parked her car along side the road and got out. It was a spot that over looked town. Although it was dark, she found the edge of the cliff and sat on the rocky ground.
“I love to come up here sometimes just to sit and think about things. I’ve been up here alone a lot lately, usually while you’re at work.” Travis admitted.
“What have you been thinking about?” Casey questioned.
“You, us.” Travis answered.
The moon was now nearly full as she looked at him and saw the outline of his face. “What do you mean?” She asked.
In the darkness, Travis found her hand and grasped it, intertwining his fingers with hers. “I’ve been thinking of asking you to homecoming.”
“What? Homecoming is only two days away and you haven’t asked anyone yet? Is it because of Heather?”
“No, I just haven’t asked anyone yet. There is only one girl I want to ask and that is you.”
“Me? Why me? Of all the girls?”
“What girls? You are the only one I see.”
“Travis...” She started but he pressed his lips to hers.
Knowing Travis since she was six years old, she felt comfortable with him and his kiss was nothing different. She knew how much she liked him and she also knew how much Emily liked him too. But Casey didn’t care, after years of being his best friend, she wanted Travis for herself. And Travis wasn’t interested in Emily. He was interested in Casey.
“By the way...” Travis said, pulling a small box from his jacket pocket. It contained a bright red ribbon and bow. “Happy Birthday.”
Handing her the box, Casey opened it and in the dim light of the moon, saw the beautiful ring. It was a shiny gold band with a brilliant pink birthstone. It’s beauty made her gasp. “Oh Travis, it’s beautiful. I promise I’ll never take it off.” She said as she slipped it on the ring finger of her left hand.
“You promise?” He smiled and kissed her again.
For approximately one hour, they stayed on the cliff, kissing, cuddling and trying to express their hidden feelings for one another. At nearly ten, Casey knew it was time to get home. They had both neglected their homework and would have to make up for it during first hour in school.
Dropping her off at her house, he walked her to the door where he kissed her one last time for the night. Hearing a car door slam, she looked over and saw Emily walking toward the house. Without a word, she pushed between Casey and Travis and went into the house. Casey knew she was irate but Travis was oblivious.
“I won’t need a ride tomorrow morning, I’ll be driving to school myself. I’ll see you there?” Casey said.
“Ok. Good night Casey.” He said and kissed her one last time.
Walking through the front door, she was excited to show her mother the ring Travis had given her. Holding her hand out, she walked toward her mother. “Look.”
Drawing her attention to her daughter, Casey’s mother looked at the ring. “Oh Casey, that’s beautiful. Did Travis give that to you?”
“Yes. And I told him I would never take it off.”
“Oh, but I think you will, when he gives you an engagement ring to replace it.”
“Well, I’m not going that far. Who’s to say that will ever happen?”
“I believe it. Someday, he will ask you. Just wait.” Said her mother.
“I’m going to bed, tomorrow is a long day.” Casey said as she hugged her mother first, then her father. “You are letting me go to homecoming, aren’t you?”
“Well, you didn’t take the night off of work for nothing, did you? Of course we’re letting you go.” Her father added.
“Thank you.” Casey said before jogging up the stairs.
Standing in the doorway of her room, Emily waited for Casey to come up the stairs. “I see you moved right in with Travis, didn’t you?”
“I can’t help it if he’s more interested in me than you. I like him just as much as you do, remember?”
“It’s always been you. With Travis it’s always been you. With mom and dad it’s always been you. You get everything you want. What do they give me? A hard time. I’m tired of it. I hate you all and wished you were dead.” Emily said before slamming her door.
Casey could smell the aroma and knew Emily was smoking marijuana in her room again. She knew their parents would be highly upset and decided to just go to her room and mind her own business.
Waking with the alarm at six, Casey stretched and reached to turn it off. Yawning, she climbed out of bed and went straight for the bathroom. Knowing she was the first one up, she used the shower before everyone flooded the bathroom, getting ready for school or work.
Dressing in a bright red dress, she wore black heels and completed it with a black sweater scarf. Looking in the mirror, she brushed out her long, wet, wavy hair then applied some light makeup. It was a special day, it was Travis’s last homecoming as he would graduate in the spring. But Casey had another year of high school yet. She was one year younger than Travis.
Born seven minutes after Emily, Casey was the younger twin. They were identical and looked just alike. Only close family and friends could tell them apart. But to be sure, they were tattooed with the first initial of their first name on the outside of their right ankle. Emily with an E and Casey with a C.
Sitting at the breakfast table chatting with their father, Casey saw Emily enter from the corner of her eye. Sitting down, Emily gathered some food from the center of the table and put it on her plate. Starting to nibble on her food, she asked her father. “Dad, I was wondering if I could have like eighteen hundred dollars?”
“For what?” Their father asked.
“I found a car that I really want.”
“No, absolutely not. I know what you’ll buy with that kind of money. Drugs, and I’m not contributing to your habit.”
“I swear, I won’t. I want it for a car, please?”
“The answer is no.” Their father answered, Casey remaining out of the conversation.
“Why not, Casey got her car, what about me?”
“Casey worked for her car. What about you, get a job.”
“Casey gets whatever the hell she wants and I’m tired of it. Where is my generosity? I hate it. I fucking hate you and wished you were dead.” Emily slammed the plate on the table, shattering it, then stomped out of the room.
Casey began to clean up the mess, wishing her sister hadn’t acted that way. She knew they were fair to Emily, considering her drug problem and the friends she kept. “Please Casey, don’t worry about that, I’ll clean it up.” Casey said nothing, just continued to clean up the mess.
After dropping off their twelve year old brother, Avery, Casey gave Emily a ride to school in her new car as she was too late to catch the bus. Emily was rude and unappreciative but Casey wasn’t deterred by her sisters attitude. She just decided to not give her a ride any longer.
Meeting up with Travis, Casey saw him in the hallway at his locker and approached him. Catching her from the corner of his eye, he turned to look at her, nearly dropping his books. Sliding them into his locker, he turned toward her and looked her over. After growing up with her, he now looked at her in a different light. She suddenly appeared to be a young woman who he thought was beautiful.
“Casey… you look so… grown up. You’re so beautiful.” He said, swallowing hard.
“Thank you Travis, you look nice too.” She said and kissed him on the cheek. “What time do you have to be at the parade?”
“We have to start lining up at four. I thought we could get a quick bite at the restaurant before everything starts.”
“Sounds good. So I’ll meet you on the steps after last school?” Casey asked.
“Yes, I’ll see you then.” He kissed her just as the first bell rang.
Sitting on the steps outside staring at the same, bright autumn blaze maple tree, Casey waited for Travis. Meeting up with her, they walked to her car to leave. Stopping at the same restaurant where she had worked as a waitress for the past year, Joel greeted them when they came in.
“Hey guys, I thought tonight was homecoming.”
“It is Joel, just stopping in for a bite before the parade. Are you going to watch?”
“Of course. I’ll be taking pictures.” Joel smiled.
After a quick bite, Casey parked alongside the street where they were gathering and lining up for the parade. For the last week, she had been working hard on the teams float and knew it was ready. Pulling her up, Travis insisted she ride on it with the team. Waving and throwing candy, Casey greeted the crowd of people who came out to watch the homecoming parade.
Getting a bad feeling in the pit of her stomach, Casey knew Emily was guilty of doing something wrong. And she was right. As Emily was caught smoking weed by the police, she stabbed one of the officers in the leg with a pencil in her successful attempt to escape them. Emily knew she would have a warrant out for her arrest for assault and battery on a police officer. But she disappeared.
Travis kissed Casey before joining his team in the locker room, to change into their uniforms. He was the star quarterback of the team and couldn’t miss the game. Casey took her seat on the bench directly behind the three foot chain link fence. Seeing Taylor and Rand coming toward her, she waved at them. They took their seats beside her for the game.
“So, Casey, we were kinda wondering what was going on.”
“What do you mean?” Casey asked although she already knew.
“With you and Travis. You two look a little closer than you used to be. We saw him kissing you at his locker this morning.”
“Yeah, well, we’re just messing around.”
“Yeah right. I know better than that. He’s finally told you, hasn’t he?”
“Told me what?”
“That he’s been in love with you since he was in the seventh grade.”
“Well, not exactly that, but something like it.”
“It’s about time you two got together, I was thinking we would have to intervene.” Taylor smiled.
“Well, he did ask me to homecoming.” Casey smiled. “And he gave me this.” She held her hand out to show her ring.
“Oh wow, that’s so pretty.” Taylor said.
“You really have no idea how much he’s in to you.” Rand added.
“He’s been trying to show it.” Casey said.
The crowd roared as the home team ran onto the field. Casey stood and cheered, waving at Travis. After the National Anthem was played, the spectators took their seats and the game began. Scoring twelve points for the home team, Travis and his team won the game. The small town was invaded by excited teens, sporting their team spirit.
Returning to the school, they attended the dance where Travis and Casey were crowned homecoming king and queen. But after two hours in the hot, crowded gymnasium, she needed a break in the cool October night air.
Escorting her out of the room, they walked out of the building and toward the football field. By now the lights were off and the area was vacated. It was quiet and peaceful. Taking her hand, he led her across the field to the bleachers. The moon was full and lighting their way but in the distance, they could smell the rain, see the flash of the lightning and faintly hear the thunder. They knew they would have to get back inside soon or risk getting soaking wet.
Instead of sitting on the bleachers, he led her behind and beneath the bleachers. The bright moonlight cast long shadows from the steps and seats of the bleachers. Laying his jacket on the ground, he motioned for her to sit on it. Folding her legs, she sat on his coat and stretched her legs out, fixing the skirt of her red dress.
Sitting down beside her, he leaned on one arm. Reaching his other hand up to her ear, her rubbed her earring for a moment before spreading his fingers through her hair and pulling her to him for a kiss.
“Travis...” She whispered, “what’s happening between us?”
“Casey, I can’t be just your best friend anymore. All I want to do is touch you, kiss you. I’m in love with you Casey. I have been for a long time.” Sitting in silence for long moments just looking at him, she was making him nervous. “Casey, please say something. Tell me you feel the same way.”
“I love it when you kiss me. I love it when you touch me anywhere. All I want to do is spend time with you, no one else. I guess I would say I feel the same way.”
Without a word, Travis pulled her closer and kissed her passionately. Having revealed her hidden feelings for him, she felt a sense of relief. As his kiss continued, she knew she could no longer control herself as she has wanted this to happen for a long time too.
Leaning over her, he pushed her back onto the ground until he was laying on top of her. “I’ve always dreamed of my first time being with you Casey.” He whispered in her ear then bit at her ear lobe.
“So have I Travis, with you.”
“Tonight is the night I’m going to show you how I really feel.” He said as he looked down at her. Looking at how her long, wavy, blonde hair sprawled out around her, he kissed her again. Sliding his hand across the silky material of the dress, Travis slipped his hand down inside and found her breast. As he caressed her, her nipple grew hard and she was quickly becoming aroused.
Rolling her to the side, he unzipped her dress and she pulled her arms out and shimmied it off, down over her hips and laid it on a crossbar of the bleachers. Laying back down, she kicked off her shoes and wore only her bra and panties. Pulling the straps of her bra, Travis slid them off her arms, then lifted it over her head. As his lips found her taunt nipples, his hand wandered over her body. Casey moaned and pulled him closer.
With one hand, Travis pushed and pulled until his jeans and underwear were down around his ankles. He changed positions and looked down at her, brushing her hair back with the palm of his hands. “Are you sure you’re ready to do this?” Travis asked her.
“With you, yes.” She whispered.
As Travis pushed himself deep inside her, she felt the pain of her first time. But slowly, the pain turned to intense pleasure and she moved her body in the same rhythm as his. It was the moment they felt the first drops of rain falling against them. As they continued with slow movements, the rain came down harder and the lightning cracked around them.
Not able to hold back the strong sensation, Casey’s orgasm crashed around her and she trembled beneath him. Continuing with the same speed and depth, Travis reached his orgasm, pushing himself in even farther, Casey moaning and gasping. With the rain falling around them, they lay still and quiet trying to catch their breaths.
“I love you Casey Anne Kingsley.” Travis whispered then kissed her again.
“I love you too Travis Andrew McAdams.”
In each others arms they lay for only a few moments later before he climbed off of her. Struggling to pull the dress over her wet skin, she wondered what excuse she could give her parents to explain why she was soaking wet. In her bare feet, she ran across the football field toward her car, Travis tagging along beside her.
Casey had no idea it was nearly midnight when she climbed into the car to go home. Taking Travis home first, she pulled into his driveway, only three driveways from hers. “I’ll see you in the morning.” Travis said and kissed her before getting out of the car.
Pulling in the street across from her house, she knew her parents left the door unlocked and she trusted the neighborhood enough to leave her keys in the car. Through the shaded window, she could see the lights of the living room still on and knew her parents would be waiting up for her. She stood just outside the door with her hand on the doorknob trying to maintain her composure and conjure up her excuses.
Opening the door, she closed it quietly behind her. Peeking around the corner, she was suddenly stunned. First, she saw her mother, laying on the floor in a pool of blood. It appeared she was dead. Then she saw her father, sitting in his chair slumped over, blood dripping from his head. Casey screamed and grabbed the phone as she ran to her mother and dropped down to her knees. Dialing 911, she heard a strange noise coming from upstairs but put the phone to her ear and reached to feel for her mothers pulse.
“Hello, 911, what’s your emergency?” Casey heard the woman’s voice on the other end.
“Help me...” Casey said as something caught her eye.
Looking toward the stairway, she gasp when she saw the man in the ski mask. Dropping the phone, she noticed the gun in his hand and looked at his face. All she could see was two different colored eyes and realized one was a glass eye. As the man came closer, she put her hands in the air but heard the gun as it discharged. Instantly her world went black.