Chapter 1: You Disappeared
I’m excited. I’m terrified. I’m back in my home town. It’s my first day at Palamino Bay University. The next stepping stone to becoming a physician’s assistant. I want to specialize in wound care. That’s the exciting part, continuing my education.
I haven’t been in this town for over six years since my mom and I moved. My friends probably think the worst had befallen me like death or being placed in a mental health facility. But the truth is I’ve lived and worked on a ranch while attending high school and community college. All of this for my mother’s and my mental health after the car accident that cost us, my father and twin brother. I miss them so much even though it’s been over six years.
The terrifying part is facing my boys. That is assuming they stayed in town. They are my broken boys that my mother wanted to blame for my depression but it wasn’t them. It was a girl and her minions. A girl that chose to kick me while I was already at my lowest point. Not that any of that matters now. The strongest of steel is forged in fire, and I’ve made use of that fire.
I walk into the first class, quickly finding a place to sit before the professor arrives.
“Well, well. Look who is back. Wait until Jase finds out,” I hear a familiar behind me say.
I turn around to men from my past sitting behind me. Men that used to be sixteen-year-old boys the last time I saw them. They certainly aren’t boys now that muscles and tattoos have taken over their once slender frames.
“We thought something terrible happened to you, baby girl. Where did you go?” The other man asks.
I’m not certain if I should tell them. My broken boys would’ve blamed themselves for something they weren’t responsible for. In the past they protected me, but they couldn’t have saved me from the monster that is depression.
‘I wonder if they are still my boys?’ A lot can change in six years.
“Not here,” I say shaking my head noticing the Professor has arrived by is taking his time getting situated at his desk.
My eyes roam over their once-familiar faces and bodies.
Lachlan Hartley, who spoke first, is fair-skinned with blonde hair and bright Caribbean blue eyes. A paint-stained t-shirt covers the wide expanse of his chest while colorful tattoos cover his arms and up his neck.
Weston Chancler is the polar opposite with olive skin, ebony hair, and chocolate eyes. The edge of a black and grey tattoo peeks out from underneath the v of his black long-sleeve shirt on his broad chest.
Weston notices where my eyes have and with a smirk, he whispers, “You disappeared. It’s for you anyway, baby girl. I have been missing you.”
A blush scarlet’s my cheeks. He got a permanent memorial from me inked on his skin. ‘Why did he do that?’ Weren’t we just friends? I could not have been that important to him.
What was that about him missing me? We were only friends for a little over a year considering I didn’t meet him until our first day of high school. He is the last of my boys I thought I would hear those words from. ‘Surely he would have forgotten by now right?’
Seeing the confusion and embarrassment on my face, Lachlan, my golden boy, grabs my hand from the back of my chair and gives an all-too-brief squeeze.
I look up into his Caribbean eyes to see so much sadness there in his gaze. Immediately I’m aware that I’m the one who placed it there. I left him. Mom and I left him.
I turn away from them when the professor starts talking. I’m glad too because I cannot bare that look in his eyes.
Lachlan was my twin brother’s best friend. They were inseparable since kindergarten. This meant growing up with Lachlan was like having another brother. He rarely went home so he was always at our house. It was safer for him to be with us than it was at his own home.
I take notes in favor of ignoring Lachlan and Weston’s questions they were whispering in my ears randomly throughout. But I managed to ignore them and escape quickly from them as soon as class is dismissed. I just cannot face Lachlan just yet.
I’m just about to shut my locker door, only to turn around and become trapped against my locker by two strong tattooed arms. These lack all the colors that Lachlan’s tattoos held.
“Where did you go, sweetheart?” A baritone voice rumbles in my face. I peer into the forest green eyes of Jase Alto with his ticking square jaw and roman numeral five underneath his right eye.
I have this urge to reach up and stroke the numeral on his upper cheekbone. The look he is giving me currently says that would be a horrible idea. It would akin to petting a rabid wolf. He would bite my hand if I touch him. My mind is screaming at me that this man is dangerous. It doesn’t matter to me though, he is my beast.
I can’t tell you here Jase. Please don’t make me,” I whisper to him. He grunts, showing away from me and walking off into the crowd. My legs feel like jelly as I lean against the lockers trying to remember how to breathe. That could have gone so much worse.
Jase has been able to take my breath away since I hit puberty. His presence does things to my body that I know would be volatile, and explosive if we ever gave into this magnetic pull between us. It didn’t use to be this way. In fifth grade, he would shove me down to the ground or push me in the hallway way until the day he became friends with Lachlan and my twin brother Carson.
I grew up with Jase, so why do I feel as though he is a wild animal bent on devouring me?