the First

Taken

Austin grins, still not letting me go. It's kind of funny actually, it's like we were dancing, he dipped me, and never pulled me back up. I decide to play a little hard to get. Hopefully this works.

"How was your summer?"

"Fine, thanks." I respond.

"Are you coming to my party tonight?" he asks.

"Maybe."

I begin to try and stand up, his arms are still holding me in place.

"Going somewhere?"

I finally wriggle out of his grip and stand, "Yes, actually. First period."

I turn my back to him and walk away, making sure to sashay a little more than necessary.

"And, Austin?"

I turn back to him to find that he hasn't moved, his eyes jolt back up from my butt to meet mine.

"You are gonna have to work for it."

I flash him a flirty smile and see his eyebrows raise, he's not used to a girl resisting his charm. I turn away and walk out without a backward glance. Nailed it! Now I just have to reel him in. Knowing Austin, he's going to try to use his money to get me to like him. I'm going to show him that it's going to take more than that to get a girl. I slide into a seat in English right as the bell rings, and my new teacher blabbers on and on about the class for the whole period. She lists the supplies we'll need, which I write down, and it's off to the next class. The day is like this the whole time, moving from class to class. By the time it's over, I'm glad we're out. I walk to my car and hop in, pulling out my sunglasses and putting them on. I back out of my parking space and begin the drive. I turn on the radio again, allowing myself to get lost in my thoughts about Austin and his party tonight. I'm going to have to look perfect, and turn up the flirting. Now I'm hoping this dream never ends! Even if this isn't a dream, I'm realizing now that I want to date him anyways. I'm not going to hookup with him right away like most do, but I still want to date him.

School was amazing. I got to feel normal again. I even managed to slightly ignore my aching pain in my legs. Luckily, the gray tinge is dull, and the pain hasn't gone past my knees yet. I'm doing good. I pull out my phone and text Mom that I'm going to pick up school supplies and I'll be home by four thirty. That gives me an hour and a half to grab some school stuff and hunt for an outfit to wear to Austin's party. I pull in to Office Max and get the stuff I need as quickly as possible, then I speed over to the mall to find some clothes. After a half hour of searching, I find nothing. Wandering into Abercrombie and Fitch, my eyes land on the cutest crop top I have ever seen. It's spaghetti-strapped and scoop necked, in a gorgeous red with blue and white flowers all over it. I snatch it up and run to the dressing room to try it on. It's perfect! Just enough skin to look very good, but not trashy. I buy it and exit the store, speeding back home. I pull into the driveway at four thirty exactly, and grab my bags. Mom isn't home yet, so I go downstairs and deposit the bags on my bed. I change into muck boots and go outside, where Knight is waiting in his stall. He whinnies at me and I smile at him, kissing his nose before I lead him out to the pen. I work with him on following me, making sure to get him some exercise, too. After an hour and a half I put him back in his stall, I won't be home in time to let him out of the pasture anyways. I go back inside and change out of my muck boots. I hop in the shower and wash the day's dirt away. I even use my yummy rose body wash. I enter my closet and select my shortest pair of dark denim shorts, and my push-up bra I only use on special occasions like this. I change out of the day's outfit and into my new one, and lace up my pair of brown ankle boots to highlight my legs. The effect is perfect. I rebraid my hair and reapply my makeup, and grab my phone as I head upstairs. Mom still isn't home, not that I'm surprised. It's six forty five, his party doesn't start until seven. I'm going to be fashionably late and not leave for another ten minutes. I flop onto the couch and shoot Savanna a text, "be there soon". She texts me back a few minutes later, "already here. he went all out for this one! he's trying to impress you!".

"whatever! see u in a few"

I stand and go outside, grabbing the house key from the plant. Who knows what time I'll be home! I hop into my truck and pull out of the driveway, cruising onto the main road. I turn onto a road that goes back through a vast valley of wildflowers and drive at least a mile until I get to the gate. A man sits inside, "Name?"

"Relia Pierce?"

"Who are you here to see?"

"Austin Roberts."

He takes a photo of my license plate and opens the gate. I drive through and into the trees. Austin's house is one of the biggest in this neighborhood, so it takes me a while to drive to the back. Soon, the houses spread out and get larger, and I pull into the driveway of his house. Tastefully decorated with twinkling white Christmas lights, but I know what lies within. I pull farther up the driveway, which is wide enough to fit at least four trucks, and park behind the growing line of cars snaking down his driveway. I check the clock before climbing out, seven thirty. Perfect. The faint sound of pumping music is up ahead. I follow the driveway to the top, where a massive fountain is located. It spews water in every direction, it glows with a soft light. It's actually kind of pretty. His house is monstrous. It sprawls ahead of me like a castle, each window is lit up with a different color as the strobe lights inside flash. I walk up the front steps and open the front door, stepping inside. I'm greeted by the smell of underage drinking and the sight of many people dancing. It's pitch black inside, save the strobes. They allow for brief flashes of light that illuminate couples grinding and making out as today's pop hits come blasting through high quality speakers all around the room. Kegs are set up along one wall, and the DJ is set up along the other. The floor is completely crowded. I sigh. This is why I hate parties, especially Austin's parties. His house is like a club. This is awful. But I'm here for Austin. I might as well look for him and try to have fun. I step further into the house, looking for Savanna and Austin. Savanna sees me first.

"Relia!" she shrieks.

I turn around to greet her just as she smacks into me, a huge grin on her slightly drunk face. It's clear she's had a few drinks already. She shoves a Solo cup into my hand, and takes a sip from hers.

"Isn't this great?"

I smile and nod, "Yeah."

"I haven't seen Austin yet. Have you?" she asks.

I shake my head in response, "No, I haven't."

"Maybe he'll show up. It's his party anyway." she smiles at me and gives me a hug, then staggers back to her group. I'm alone.

I sigh and move off of the dance floor to the wall. If Austin doesn't make his appearance in a few minutes, I'm leaving. I drum my fingers on the wall, absentmindedly staring into the crowd. The song ends and a new one starts, even more auto-tuned than the last. That's it, I'm out. I turn towards the door and smack right into a man's broad chest. I plaster a flirty smile on my face. About time he showed up.

"Sorry. Hi."

Austin chuckles, "It's getting hard to keep you off of me! Dance with me?"

Ugh. He's so cocky. I smile up at him, "Sure."

He takes my cup out of my hands and sets it on a small table nearby, and slides his hand around mine.

"Come on."

He leads me into the crowd, I see a few jealous girls glaring at me, and a few guys trying to wink at me. Austin doesn't let go until we're in the middle of the floor, surrounded by as close to a mosh-pit as high school seniors can get. He grabs my other hand and places it around his neck, pulling my body right up against his. My hands stay behind his head, and he reaches down to grab my hips. He sways us side to side to the beat of the music, every inch of us touching each other. I can feel the energy buzzing between our bodies. I look up at him then, and I'm met with a look I've never gotten from Austin before. He looks almost... hungry. He lightly licks his lips and brings his head down to meet me, and instantly his lips are on mine in a kiss. A completely sober, very passionate, kiss. His tongue slips effortlessly into my mouth, igniting a warm fire between my legs. This is almost too easy. He pulls away, taking my hand and leading me to a little bar area along the wall. He opens up a small fridge and withdraws a tiny glass bottle. Is he going to make me a drink? He uncaps the bottle and pours the water all over my legs. Pain shoots through them, up to my waist. It's as if my bones are breaking. The pain is blinding, it hurts so bad! Spots begin to cloud my vision, but I see him smile with a set of abnormally sharp teeth. He reaches into his back pocket, withdrawing a small black pouch. He reaches inside, and pulls out a handful of familiar looking sand. Except instead of white, it's black.

"Wha-" I can't even form a complete sentence. I feel dizzy and sick, my vision darkens further. My legs feel like one gigantic knot. I can feel them twisting on each other, but they don't look strange to me. What's happening? I can't move. He takes a pinch of sand and blows it into my face. It's like a sleeping powder. I slump forward into him, his arms wrap around me in a tight hold.

I hear a soft chuckle in my ear, his breath warms my cheek,"Goodnight, Princess."

Everything goes black.


Drip.

Ouch.

Drip.

Ouch!

Drip.

OUCH!

My eyes snap open. I'm sitting against a wall on a cold stone floor. I can see a barred window on the right wall, where the light of the moon is hidden by thick clouds. There is a door on the wall across from me, it's metal with a small window at eye level. On the left wall, there is a cot and a sink. A cold liquid is dripping onto my legs, each drop causes them to throb with pain. Glancing up, I see a small hole in the ceiling, where a small line of pipe is dripping. Glancing down, I can see where the liquid has hit my leg. The spot is entirely silver scales, shimmering a rainbow of colors in the moonlight. It would be beautiful if it didn't hurt so terribly. Every drip makes the silver spot spread, turning my upper thigh into sparkling silver scales. Like a fish's scales, but infused with rainbow glitter. I lean forward slightly, seeing that with each drop, my skin seems to fade away. What the hell is going on!

Drip.

My skin really is melting off, that's why it hurts so badly. It feels like I'm being stabbed over and over in the same place. I try in vain to move my legs, but the slightest shift causes more pain than the liquid does. My bones feel shattered, and each movement seems to make the shards grind together and against my skin. I try to move my hands to brush the liquid off, and I almost succeed before the shackles stop me. Shackles?! It hits me then, I'm in a jail cell. I take in a quick breath. Oh my God. I'm in JAIL. What did I do? I think back to what happened before I was here, all I can remember are strobe lights and loud music. Was I at a party? Maybe the cops busted us. So now I'm here. Maybe I'm on drugs, and I'm hallucinating.

Drip.

Memories slowly trickle in: Luke, the two pirates, Austin. I just can't remember anything past those strobes… I try to move my legs again, and cry out against my will. A few rogue tears drip down my face, I rub them away. It feels like knives are being dragged along my tendons. I lean my head back against the stone wall, and take a shaky breath.

Drip.

At that moment, I hear a thunk. It sounds as if a lock is being turned. My door swings open to reveal a man standing in the doorway. He's wearing a long black trench coat, a black shirt, and dark jeans. He's holding a small but sharp looking dagger in his right hand, and a black pouch in his left. A familiar black pouch. Then, he moves into the dim moonlight.

I gasp, "Austin?"

His eyes are now deep yellow, like molten gold. He chuckles, his eyes flashing, "Please, call me Aleksander."

Drip.

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