Chapter Twenty Six
Two days had passed since Axel had been gone and Nova wished she could say she was happy about it.
Her entire being was telling her to contact him, to reach out to him. But he’d hurt her, he’d tore her heart up and stomped on it.
She constantly questioned whether she meant anything to him or not. How could someone tell you all those things and then completely disregard the person those sweet words had defined?
“Nova hunny, are you sure you’re alright?” Her mother questioned once more, staring at her daughter with a questionable concerned look.
Nova nodded, she didn’t want to delay her and Tom from leaving when she knew they had to continue with their lives. Their jobs depending on them.
“I’m fine mom, I promise” she said, the lie slipped from her lips so fluidly no one was any wiser.
Her mother gave her a gentle smile and pulled her into a hug, “When I get back we will have a girls day and spend all the time in the world together”
Nova had heard that before, it was a line her mother used every time she had to leave because it usually ended up being right after she’d just gotten back from another trip.
“I know mom, I’ll be waiting” was her usual reply. Sometimes her mother would come through, but that same day they had a girls day she’d drop the bomb about having to leave again, other days her mother would swoop in and out without a so much as a how do you do.
Her mother smiled, her red lips stretching. She grabbed her bags and marched to the car, her expensive heels clicking against the floor.
Tom hesitated before giving her a slightly friendly yet awkward smile, “Take care of yourself” he said before striding out of the door after his new wife.
The front door slammed with a loud bang and once again, Nova was alone.
Three months later
The quiet all knowing whispers surrounded her as she strode through the halls of her high school with her head held high.
Everyone was talking about the not so important scandal of her and Luke. Someone she’d almost forgotten about. After everything with Axel he seemed nonexistent.
Sarah had yet to make an appearance, and it helped that Nova was avoiding her like the plaque.
The cheer squad circled her protectively as they walked through the halls together. She was grateful that they were being so helpful and considerate. The ugly rearing head of the latest gossip was like a serpent waiting to strike.
Luke had spilled all the dirty secrets of her first time and the few times after.
“Cody said he’d have no problem confronting Luke for you” Crissy said as she stepped closer to Nova.
Shaking her head she felt her stomach drop as Luke and his friends came into view, they stood off to the side, at the end of the hallway. Dark lustful looks fell on her.
She bit down on the inside of her cheek and lifted her eyes to meet his. She stared him down, she wasn’t going to let him walk all over her.
His eyes widened slightly, he seemed surprised.
The group around him continued to leer, Nova met each of their nasty states with one of her own. She wasn’t going to take any of their crap and of course it helped that her group of friends were giving each male a glare of their own.
By the time they passed the group, all the guys had looked away, surprise and shame written across their faces as they’d been caught red handed.
“Nova! Nova!” A voice called out from behind her.
Turning she came face to face with Cody Brock, one of her high schools star football players. His dark black hair was short and messy, his hazel eyes were a rich swirl of green and brown as they looked down at her. His features were strong and slightly boyish.
He was handsome, but he wasn’t him.
“Hey Cody” she said smiling slightly in greeting.
Her friends gave her encouraging smiles before walking away towards their classes.
“Are you okay?” He asked as his eyes searched hers.
She shrugged, “As good as I’ll ever be”
He focused on something over her shoulder and she knew he was looking at Luke. His eyes hardened and he glared at the boy she once thought she’d loved, how wrong she’d been. She hadn’t known what love had been until Axel had kissed her.
“Did you need something Cody?” She asked glancing at the clock that sat on the wall. She didn’t want to be late for class.
His attention turned back to her and she watched his entire demeanor soften, it was no secret he’d had a crush on her for the past few years, “If you need me to... you know... rough him up a bit... just let me know” he said leaning close to her.
Nova took a step back, creating distance between them, “Thanks, I appreciate it. Well I have to get to class, I’ll see you later ok?” She said waiting until he nodded before she turned and walked away.
With time she’d heal from Luke.
The memory of Axel beating Luke was brought to the forefront of her mind and she found herself smiling softly, wishing he was here to help her now.
Six months later
“Nova!” Tom yelled from the kitchen.
Her feet pounded on the stairs as she scurried downstairs. She felt sick with nervousness. The day was finally here. Tom had told her he was inviting Axel over for the holidays.
Her dark red silk dress caressed her skin, her hair was pinned up and her face was lightly brushed with small bouts of make up. She wanted to look her best for him.
After six months of separation, she’d had a lot of time to think.
The conclusion she’d come to? She missed him despite what had happened.
She wanted to ask him why she hadn’t been enough, why had he gone to Sarah? Did he find her prettier than her? She she do things that Nova hadn’t? What was so special about her?
Walking into the kitchen her stomach let out a large rumbling growl as the delicious smell of roasted turkey wafted across her senses. Her mother was mashing potatoes, she looked as though she were struggling. Her hair was tied back, her face was devoid of all her usual make up and her formal sparking white Christmas dress was covered by her large pink apron.
Tom smiled at her as she took a seat at the kitchen island, “You look great” he said. The black suit he wore looked expensive and out of place on him. Tom didn’t wear suits, normally he dressed in jeans and a simple t shirt. Her mother was the one who pushed him to wear the suits and oddly enough, this suit looked similar to the one Mr. Bianche wore not to long ago.
“Thanks” she replied stealing a small cubed cheese from the silver serving plate. She tapped her nails against the counter and tried to appear nonchalant, “So when are we expecting Axel to arrive?”
Toms face furrowed, a sad look passing across his face, “Um, he actually can’t make it”
Nova stilled, all hope she’d had vanished. Her stomach clenched and her heart began to weep.
She’d lost her chance.
He didn’t want to come back.
Why would he? He’d cheated for a reason, obviously She hadn’t been enough.
She forced a smile on her face, she refused to meet the imploring eyes of her step father, “That’s to bad. Well I hope he has a good Christmas with his mom”
Tom made a sound as if to say , Yeah right , before turning back to finish the meal.
Guests began to litter into the large home, quickly filling with loud chatter, obnoxious singing and drunken laughter. The strong scent of pine and peppermint flowed through the house from all the various candles.
The house was sparkling with beautiful white lights, the large Christmas tree sat in the living room completely decorated to the max.
Normally, she felt at peace, this was her favorite holiday. The smells, the lights, and the freshly fallen snow, gave her peace.
This year was different.
Peaking at her phone, as she’d done almost everyday since he’d left, she wished he’d text her.She wished he’d give her that Christmas miracle.
No such luck.
One year later
The library was crowded, nobody seemed to understand that while in the library you needed to be quiet. Instead large groups of college students roamed the sections, talking animatedly.
Scowling, Nova leaned closer to her book as if it would help block out the noise around her. Her highlighter hovered above the open text book as she tried to memorize the text before her.
The air was stuffy and humid, the air conditioners weren’t working and even in August the summer heat lingered.
A familiar smell caressed her senses. She swallowed thickly as the thought of the one person she’d tried to forget entered her thoughts.
The smell of his Spicy cologne drifted by her and she squeezed her eyes shut hoping to forget about him.
A pair of arms came around her and she gasped, her head whipped around.
Cody stood behind her, smiling from ear to ear, “What’s my girl doing locked in the library on a warm day like today?” He asked leaning down to peak her on the lips.
She flushed, feeling completely guilty. She’d hoped it was Axel. How could she scrub him from her mind?
Would he always linger?
Nova glanced up at her boyfriend and forced a smile, “Ive got to study Cody”
He sighed and took a seat in the chair next to her, “Babe, it’s two days into the semester” he said exasperated.
Running a hand through her hair she tried not to pull at the strands in agitation, “I realize that, but the professor said each week will hold a chapter test and I need to pass each and every one of them”
He held up his hands in surrender before leaning forward and placing his lips on her throat, he smiled against her skin, “I can think of better things to do than study”
Nova bit back a shudder of revulsion and bit down hard on her lip, she hadn’t been sexually interested in anyone since her step brother, maybe it was time to break that trend.
Maybe it’s what she needed to get over him.
Maybe he’d finally stop haunting her.