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Jeremy Valen and Sebastian Santos had lived next to each other their entire life. Their mom's were friends and always set up play dates, putting the two together almost daily. It was easy for them to become friends, bonding over video games and other interests.
As they grew up, they began venturing out into the small woods that surrounded their cul-de-sac. Every day exploring a new area and seeing what they could do out there. Eventually they set up a hangout by a river that cut through the foliage.
Jeremy Valen was on the pale side with medium brown hair and dark brown eyes. Over the years, despite being active, he began gaining weight. His belly bulging out and his face rounded. The bigger he got, the more it slowed him down.
Sebastian Santos on the other hand was darker in complexion, as if he had a permanent tan. His hair was dark and his eyes were a unique grey that had girls swooning. He was slim with light muscle definition on his arms and a faint set of abs already building.
Though the two had drastic differences in their appearance, they remained friends. Sleepovers, gaming, and exploring during the summer. They stayed friends in school; Sebastian having to defend Jeremy at times when people picked on him for his weight.
The year they started 5th grade, she joined their group.
Evie Ambrose moved to Lake Mills the year she turned 10. She wasn't sure why her parents decided they needed to move but before she knew it, she was packed up and in a new state. The new house was much smaller than the one they previously had, not that she cared.
She was a petite girl with shoulder length black hair and exotic green eyes. Her skin was a medium shade that changed to a beautiful golden color in the summer.
The first time she laid eyes on the boys, she remembered being nervous. Not only was she new but she was use to having girl friends. At first, she tried to avoid them. She assumed they would have some "boys only" policy and didn't want to face rejection. Or worse; they would bully her.
Evie spent most of her time outside due to her parents constant fighting or her dad's drinking. For a while, she stayed in her backyard. She was afraid to venture out but soon became bored and pushed herself to check out things in the woods.
It was a few days before she ran into the boys. She attempted to run away from them but they trapped her. Heart racing and tears welling in her eyes, she stared at them with fear. They quickly began comforting her and apologizing profusely. She felt silly for being scared and was warmed by how kind both of them were.
Sebastian was cute, charming, and very outgoing. He took the role of leader of the trio and always had ideas for what they'd be doing that day. He always had the best ideas and came up with new things when they got bored.
Jeremy was on the quieter side. He was sweet but rather shy for the first couple of days. Whenever she would look at him, he turned away. She couldn't help giggling every time.
The three hung out in the spot the boys had carved into the woods. It was a small clearing next to a creek that she absolutely adored. They kept it clean, picking up sticks and garbage alike.
Sometimes they sat along the waters edge and talked. Sometimes they skipped rocks and sometimes they hung out in the trees, seeing how far up they could climb. One summer they tried making a tree house but only managed to nail a few pieces of wood to the truck of a tree. The steps helped them get higher on that particular tree but were otherwise useless.
Week after week, they hung out. Month after month, they grew closer. It was never a question if they were hanging out, they naturally met up at Jeremy's house and eventually walked off into the woods.
At some point, the boys noticed Evie wearing long sleeves or pants during the summer, no matter how hot it was. She'd go weeks avoiding swimming the in creek even though when they had jumped in before it had always been her idea. Jeremy was the one who mentioned to Sebastian that there was something wrong but neither wanted to say anything.
2 years into their friendship they noticed Evie was growing thinner and thinner. She had always been small but her usual clothes started to sag and they spotted a piece of rope tied around her waist as a belt one of the days. Again, they were afraid to ask her what was going on.
Jeremy began bringing lunches and snacks whenever they hung out and would watch her wolf down whatever he brought, confirming that she didn't have an eating disorder.
He was the first to figure out she was being abused.