I’m not sure how I did it but I managed to get through the end of August and the September long weekend with remarkable poise and calmness. Angela and Mike showered me with gifts and things-- trying to pacify me and probably to keep me silent about the truth. I still couldn’t believe that they had managed to keep this so silent from our whole family! How had people not noticed that I had just popped up out of nowhere? I was already such a hotbed of irritation and confusion over the things going on around me that I figured this was one of the least of my concerns. For all intensive purposes I left Anna in the dark; no need to make her hate me or my parents any more than she already did. Claire and I had yet to Skype-- I’d gone as far as to message her on Facebook…. I’d told her I was okay, but that Anna had needed me so I had literally fallen off the face of the planet for my sister. It was a whopping lie, and I didn’t like lying-- but I found it was coming to me more naturally as I hid all sorts of things; the Fairlands, my adoption, the strange voice that I heard when no one was around or worse when Topher was around-- even Topher and how whenever he touched my skin I would burn-- I hid from everyone-- that and the hellish nightmare that was stuck on repeat only getting more and more intense.
I spent all my time that weekend in my room stuck on my laptop reading about crazy legends and trying to put all this crap together; trying to make sense of it all. Angela and Mike gave me a wide berth-- but Annabelle gave me an even larger one. Anna completely ignored me which made it easier somehow to keep the truth from her. She was different when she came home from the hospital-- more quiet and reserved. I often found her in the bathroom her fingers clenching the sink counter for dear life-- her eyes bloodshot, her face pale as death. I knew something was bothering her but she refused to talk to me and I had nothing to say to her. When Anna did see me she slammed doors in my face-- Angela took good care of her; she forced Anna to eat-- she was on a strict diet of green veggies and lean proteins, along with a host of pills she had been prescribed by the doctors.
Marissa popped by on the Sunday and we went for a drive. Neither her nor I spoke but it was nice to get out of the house for a few hours. We went downtown and wandered the sea wall, I ate ice cream like there was no tomorrow and Marissa bought at least five sun hats making me try each one on before we headed back to my house. I liked the fact that Marissa and I didn’t have to talk to have a good time, we could just be-- she never asked me about my ‘date’ with Topher and I didn’t feel the need to tell her. Sunday had been a perfect golden day-- the weather I mean. I was even more afraid of nighttime now that these creepy dreams were plaguing me; and as we pulled up to my house I wished the sun would never set…
“Don’t forget! I’m picking you up for school tomorrow!” Marissa had called as I left her car.
Right school... I had almost pushed it completely from my mind. I spent the evening puttering about the house, trying on clothes-- packing my purple side bag, and pacing my room. Something had to change or I was going to go crazy-- I had already decided I didn’t want to date Topher and had texted him telling him as such; but he had yet to reply. I was concerned that he wasn’t taking me seriously or he really was a possessive psycho… I would have to deal with that when I saw him next; which would be hard because Mike and Angela really really liked him-- and thought we were the ‘cutest couple’… like gross. No Thanks. Then there was Marissa. I really wanted to talk to her about well-- her; like what was bothering her so much and what did she know about my sister? What was this creepy ‘marked’ thing supposed to mean? When I finally couldn’t put it off any longer I threw on my princess pj’s-- which was ironic given the situation; and I took a melatonin, I didn’t have creepy dreams when I passed out from the nice over the counter drug.
OKAY; So the first day of school was a shmoz. Anna left before I’d even woken up; which I was fine with. I really didn’t want to deal with her anyways. The Melatonin really did a good job, I woke up with my alarm and felt like I’d actually rested-- which felt like a rare thing; especially recently. I didn’t change my outfit too many times; and I only threw on mascara. I tried to Skype Claire while I scarfed down a slab of buttery contraband toast which Mike had snuck in the house against Angela’s wishes-- the call failed. That seemed to be the only downside to my morning. When Marissa picked me up and we drove in silence to school, it was nice.
I don’t know what I was expecting but Acroft High School was unlike anything I had ever encountered. As we drove up I realized Marissa was right about one thing, they really did only let certain types of people into this school. Everywhere I looked there were expensive cars in the parking lot; I mean really drool worthy cars that I would love to be able to drive. The school was gated and you had to have a key card to scan to even get past the massive iron wrought gates. We drove up a winding drive which seemed take us at least three or four minutes to even get up before we saw the parking lots. There were three buildings-- one which was directly in front of us seemed to be the main building where the office probably was-- most people headed into those doors. On either side of this massive building was a smaller and definitely older looking building. One was covered in ivy and looked in bad need of a new coat of paint and a good window wash-- this one had kids heading towards it, but the crowds of students were thinner and fewer in number. The building on the right was dark-- no one entered and the doors appeared to be locked. I wondered why the building would be closed still-- it looked like there were enough students that all three buildings could be so full they would explode! Perhaps someone had forgotten to unlock the building?
I tried to take it all in; the students that was. The female students were exotic looking-- they reminded me of the way that Annabelle’s friends looked; the ones I had seen in the Starbucks all those weeks ago and I wasn’t sure that was a good thing; the way they were dressed was super scandalous. Was that a requirement? To dress super skeevy? I glanced over at Marissa and noticed for the first time she also had on a super low cut, clingy top and leather pants. The male students were out of this world. When I say out of this world I don’t mean they were all amazing looking, but you couldn’t help but stare at them! A lot of the guys had blue or green hair or eyes that were fluorescent colors, they reminded me of Sebastian in a way-- or the people at Plumanara, or even that house party I had been at while looking for Anna. What kinds of people attended this school anyways, and was I going to fit in?
Just inside the main school building Sebastian was surrounded by a crowd of people; he seemed to be quite popular. He spotted us and he excused himself from his friends to come over and join us. It was easy to see why Sebastian would be popular in a crows like this-- while all the other students seemed kind of thin and willowy; Sebastian was thick and muscular-- he was without doubt that football player who was a total hot jock. Marissa was so lucky to have ended up going out with such a hottie -- blue hair aside.
“Welcome to Acroft High.” Sebastian said to me his white teeth gleaming.
Oh yeah I’d forgotten about his creepy white shark teeth.
Sebastian pulled Marissa into a hug, sweeping her off the ground and smooching her like there was no tomorrow.
“Gah-- too much guys!” I moaned.
Sebastian laughed, and Marissa tried unsuccessfully to untangle herself from Sebastian’s long arms.
“Trust me-- one day you’ll feel the same about someone.” Sebastian winked and clung to Marissa who had stopped struggling and given into being squashed.
“Oh get a room…” I threw back. Claire would have been pumped I actually managed to throw out a comment like that-- I really missed her that moment.
Sebastian laughed, and Marissa went purple. “Problem is-- I have, and we aren’t in it right now.”
WOW he was bold. I felt heat building beside me-- furious angry heat. I turned ever just so slightly so I could see-- yup; Topher was standing beside me and he was looking pissed.
“Marissa. Sebastian.” He snarled. “Stop fooling around.”
Sebastian rolled his eyes at me; and I laughed. Topher grabbed my arm and heat seared my bones.
“As for you Genevieve; I ignore your foolishness. You’re mine now-- and you will do as I say.”
Sebastian dropped Marissa to his side; both of them looked like they wanted to jump Topher and tear his eyes out. Well, I wanted to too! Who did this dick think he was? King of the world? I had gone on one date with him-- a date I wanted to cancel nevertheless; I was not nor would I ever be his girlfriend.
“You keep your grubby hands off the girl.” Hissed Sebastian.
“Or what?” Topher countered.
As they continued to argue I walked to the glass doors and stepped out of the school building into the early morning air, I was sick of drama, trauma and everything else that went with it. Marissa followed behind me--
I don’t know what she was about to say because her voice was obliterated by the roar of motorcycles. Marissa and I looked down the drive as a group of bikes and riders rode into the parking lot. Now who were these guys? I tried to count the bikes as they rolled in-- ten, maybe twelve? Were they students? As they came to a stop Marissa reached out and grabbed my arm and pulled me close to her side.
Marissa looked terrified. “Stay by my side. Don’t move.”
Sebastian bust out the door, his fists raised, Topher slightly behind him. “Say that again you arrogant son of a D--” Sebastian’s voice cut off as Marissa grabbed his arm and began whispering in his ear. Sebastian’s eyes narrowed as he muttered. “Show offs.” He pulled Marissa into his arms and growled at the group.
Well this was interesting-- did Marissa know some of these bikers? I looked away from my friends and back at the group; they had parked their bikes and had begun to pull off their helmets. I was so intrigued by them-- I watched almost entranced at the guy who was standing nearest to us; he was like the rest of them wearing tight black jeans, a white t-shirt and a black leather studded vest. It was when his helmet was finally off his head I really felt shocked-- his hair was normal looking… In a sea of neon hair he stuck out like a sore thumb; and so did his friends. They all had rather ordinary hair actually which was kind of a relief-- suddenly I didn’t feel so alone. I felt drawn to them, I wanted to talk to that one guy-- the one with dark brown hair all askew from running his fingers through it… Now there was someone I would love to go on a date with-- I blushed. Oh man, he was so hot. I needed to know his name.
“Genevieve!” Marissa’s voice sounded strange, was she scared or angry? Was this guy an ex-boyfriend? “Get back here!”
I blinked-- what was Marissa talking about; I was standing almost right next to her and her blue haired boyfriend! I glanced over my shoulder and realized I was halfway across the parking lot. How had I gotten here? I didn’t remember walking away from my friends… I had just wanted to talk to this guy…
Up close I could feel the guys confidence-- it oozed off of them along with a strange nuance of power and sexiness. They were all tatted up-- some right pretty ink too! It reminded me of Marissa in a way. I wanted to get closer-- I needed to get closer. A heated hand grasped my forearm. “That’s enough Gen.”
Leave it to stinking Topher had to ruin everything. Dude seriously had to learn what boundaries were-- because he had way crossed mine by just existing.
He, the biker dude, looked up at me or maybe it wasn’t at me more as it was through me… Now if this was the guy in my hell nightmare I’d have given in a long time ago-- even if I had to die in the end. Had he seen me? God-- please let him have seen me.
My heart was hammering… not sure that was because I was attracted to this guy or because I wanted to punch Topher in the gut for being such an ass. Topher dragged me back across the parking lot towards the main building, I couldn’t move my feet-- I felt oddly out of it; even though I was furious.
“Hey To-to.” Sebastian laughed as we got closer to him and Marissa. “Looks like your Princess prefers a different kind of Prince.” His face sobered and suddenly he looked serious. “Look bro-- I hate you. Straight up; and I always will. You’re manners are appalling, you’re rude arrogant and a downright ass.”
“Sebastian!!” Marissa’s face paled.
“Hold it Mar-- I’m not done yet.”
Topher growled. “Make this quick blockhead.”
“While I might hate you-- I hate them more. I don’t like this situation--” He pointed at me then Topher. “and I never will, but for as long as you keep kidding yourself and not taking action like your stupid ass brother-- I’ll look out for this one.” His hand came down hard on my head.
Topher nodded. “Then we are at a stalemate.”
“Truce?” Sebastian stuck out his hand.
“Truce.” Topher agreed, shaking Sebastian’s hand.
In the distance, a low loud bell chimed, the warning bell for homeroom. Students began to scatter. Marissa and Sebastian turned to leave as well-- Marissa pulling me into an awkward hug before heading off. “Be careful.”
Pretty soon almost all the students had left and Topher and I were alone-- besides the boys on bikes still hanging out in the lot. I would have lingered outside to maybe get an opportunity to talk to the biker dudes or even notice me in some small way before heading into school-- even if it meant being late but Topher grabbed my arm and for the second time that day dragged me. Now I was super pissed. Who did Topher think he was? King of the world? I mean obviously he hadn’t got the hint that we were definitely not an item-- even though I had messaged him the other day. I guess I was going to have to try to sit him down and explain it to him-- like I would have to do to a toddler. I rolled my eyes. What a piece of work! I dug my feet into the floor as we headed down the white linoleum hallway. If Topher wanted to be such a jerk then I would constantly make it hard for him; maybe if I kept it up he would get tired of me and LEAVE ME ALONE. Topher issues aside, I still felt weird. Like I couldn’t stop thinking about those guys on bikes and the way people had reacted to them or the oddly decrepit looking school buildings that appeared to be locked; in fact I felt like I couldn’t think at all-- and my reactions to things were completely off-- and not me at all. I never would walk towards a hot boy or want them to notice me… I was the one who hid at parties and tried to avoid being surrounded by too many people. Maybe it was because out of everyone here; they were the most normal looking. I had to meet them.
I was jerked to a stop suddenly-- and I realized that we had reached an open door leading into a full looking classroom. I tried to peer in over Topher’s shoulder but he grabbed my face with his stinking hand and made me look into his eyes.
“You don’t get it. You don’t have an option. You are mine now and that is all there is to it. Get it?”
Anger I had never felt before with such intensity ran through my whole body as I tried to shake free of his burning touch.
“And I don’t appreciate other people touching what belongs to me-- so stay away from those jerks.”
“They’re one of the reasons I have to be here in the first place.”
What on earth was he talking about?
Topher pulled my face to his and pecked a kiss. My entire body was on fire-- I WAS GOING TO KILL HIM. “No, you won’t.” He whispered, releasing me.
Had he just replied to my thoughts?
Topher smiled, patted my backside and walked away. “Although I’d love to see you try.” He called over his shoulder.
I stood stunned, too shocked to make my body move from the hall into the classroom, but then I realized I was going to be marked late-- and I was completely embarrassed by what had just happened and I really really hoped that no one noticed what Topher had done or said to me; so I scuttled into the classroom and headed right for the back row where there was still an empty seat. As I slid into the hard plastic seat my IPhone began to vibrate in my pocket. I slouched down trying to make myself invisible so no one would notice I was on my phone when I wasn’t supposed to be. I took a quick glance at the screen -- it was a text from Marissa.
“Sorry about this morning.”
WELL -- that wasn’t helpful or insightful at all!! I mean she should be sorry for this morning… she should never have left me alone with Topher.
“Don’t fight Topher. It’s not a fight you can win.”
“That’s about all I am allowed to say.”
ALLOWED? What the heck?
That was the weirdest and most infuriating text I’d received in a long time. I casually slid IPhone back into my pocket and looked around the room-- what I wanted, what I needed right now was a friend. Like someone not Marissa, Sebastian or even Topher... Deep down I really hoped I would see a friendly face, maybe meet another Claire or Marissa-- someone who would reach out to me; but all the students leaned away from me as if I had a disease; made me feel like they MUST have seen Topher with his hands all over me, I felt my face begin to burn with embarrassment.
While I was busy wallowing I noticed a man walk into the classroom-- which wouldn’t have seemed odd except I was pretty confident that all the students were here and that we were just waiting on our homeroom teacher; and this man couldn’t possibly be our teacher, he barely looked old enough to grow a beard.
“Good morning class.” The man’s voice cut through the classroom and caused everyone to cease chatting.
This was unreal. Was this guy actually our homeroom teacher? I mean he was tall and imposing with his white blond hair and pale skin against his black suit, but just because someone looks imposing in a suit does not mean that they are old enough or qualified enough to be a teacher.
“Before we begin I would like to re-introduce myself although many of you already know who I am. My name is Desmond Melrose; I am and have been Dean of Acroft High for the last few years, and it is my greatest pleasure to host homeroom to grade twelve students.”
I felt Dean Melrose yellow eye’s staring at me. I shivered. He had to be lying; but if he was lying wouldn’t any of the other students say something?
“Yes, I do so love getting to know the ’seniors’ before they head out into the world.”
A chuckle wafted around the room to some unknown joke. I didn’t find anything the Dean had said funny.
“Now now.” Dean Melrose chided. “We mustn’t get too ahead of ourselves.” He grinned, and I noticed that his teeth were the whitest I had ever seen. “As I am sure you might have noticed-- we have a new student amongst us.”
Good lord, I hope he wasn’t going to call me up to the front to talk about myself that was the last thing I wanted to do. Twenty plus sets of eyes turned to stare at me. GREAT. Was it really that obvious that I was the new student?
“Don’t stare.” Melrose practically purred.
The class moved as a unit, rotating back towards the front where Dean Melrose stood leaning against the teacher's desk. CREEPY-VILLE.
“Genevieve Pradora is joining us this fall. Many of you will note that this is the second Pradora to join us in this last decade.”
Last decade? Pretty sure none of my family had ever come here before…
“In that you would be incorrect.”
I jumped in my seat-- rattled. My iPhone fell out of my pocket and hit the floor. Had the Dean just replied to one of my thoughts?
“In fact there have been many Pradora women who have attended Acroft High-- and although it has never turned out well for them in the past; I am hoping that you and Annabella will turn out differently.”
Annabella? Was Dean Melrose also not aware that my sister’s name is Annabelle? Surely he would know. Also what the hell? ‘Although it has never turned out well for them in the past…’
“Now, it’s not often easy entering a school in the later grades-- especially since classes can become so--” He paused so briefly I almost missed it. “Close-knit.”
Another chuckle reverberated through the room. I felt like I was trapped in a tripped out horror movie. This was too much for me to deal with -- the creepy young Dean; the even creepier way the students had stared at me and then turned away all at the same time and now these oddly interspersed chuckles as if everyone in the room was on the same page except for me… even the way the other students were dressed-- like wasn't there a dress code here?
“Please focus Genevieve.”
I forced myself to think of nothing but blue sky. It was a technique I had learned to calm myself down when I was anxious but perhaps it would work in this situation too-- whatever the hell situation it was that is...
“That’s better.” Dean Melrose paused. “Class please do your best to be friendly and welcoming.” He continued in a much different tone. “Genevieve could you please join us up here; we would very much like to meet you-- properly.”
A part of me didn’t want to stand up and listen to the Dean, wanted to stay slouched in my seat and be invisible-- but they were all looking at me again, and their silent stares were worse than the thought of speaking in front of the class. Awkwardly I stood and made my way to the front. The room was deathly still-- I couldn’t even hear anyone breathing, it was unnerving.
“That’s a good girl. Let me formally introduce myself,” he stuck out his hand which I grasped and shook. His hand freezing. “I’m Dean Melrose. It’s wonderful to finally meet you.” His face contorted briefly when we shook hands-- a micro expression, but what of? More importantly, why was he so cold and how was he a Dean at such a young age?
“While I am the Dean of Acroft, I like to know who my students are. I’ve found that if I lead the senior home room I get to do just that--” He gestured at my classmates who looked like marble statues wearing outrageous wigs and costumes.
Again I shivered. Why was this place so… so strange? Nope. Not the word I was looking for… it was something else.
“Concentrate please.” He glared at me for a moment. “Why don’t you tell us something interesting about yourself.”
Now that I was finally at the front of the class I could see everyone so much clearer and I wished with everything within me that I had declined Dean Melrose politely and told him it was too much of an imposition for me to speak and let it be. I couldn’t think-- I could barely breathe! I just wanted to run for the door and escape this… this...
“Well-- you have the floor.” Melrose swept his arm out in a wide arch. “Go on.” He leaned against the desk he was standing at and began to tap his long white fingers on its surface; he might as well have said I’m waiting…
“Hi.” I muttered to the dead classroom; my voice seemed dampened-- like I was in a soundproof room and had no mic, no way to project at all. “Like Dean Melrose told you-- my name is Genevieve. I--I guess something interesting about me is that I like to read books. I’ve probably read close to two thousand books since I have started counting; mainly fairy tales and historical fiction and fantasy novels.”
“Well, that is interesting.” Melrose cut in. “You must have a very keen mind for studying.”
I nodded, just glad something had come out of my mouth that sounded at least half decent. “Yes; I really do love academics.”
“Interesting-- Er.. I mean excellent. I love a keen mind. Make sure you put it to good use this year and I am sure you’ll do wonders. Please keep it to studies however and not idle fantasy.” He smiled but it wasn’t a kind smile.
“Of course.” I found myself whispering which still sounded loud in the quiet classroom. Well now that was interesting to me-- what had Dean Melrose been about to say about my interests before he had changed to ‘Excellent?’
A bell went off signaling the end of homeroom.
“Well-- that is all for this morning class. I am very excited for all of you to be here. Remember that homeroom is mandatory-- every morning I will do roll call-- if you are not here there will be serious consequences; as it is we have run out of time this morning, so please check your own name off the list by the door as you leave.”
The silent catacomb of a classroom was no longer still. Students pushed their way towards the front of the class in an eager rush to leave the room and head to classes. I was caught in a stampede of chatty pushy students-- I fought to remain calm and breathe; however I didn’t have to wait long, the stampede was over in seconds and I was left standing alone in the empty classroom with Dean Melrose.
“Genevieve-- please mark yourself as present on the sign in sheet.” Melrose said slowly. “And please remember what I said about fantasies; I would so hate to see history repeat itself.”
I nodded but really had no idea what the heck he was talking about and I was a tad too afraid to ask; so I scribbled my initials in the present column of the sign in sheet and I walked to my desk and grabbed my bag. I could feel the Dean watching me but he didn’t say anything else to me.
“Gen?” Marissa stuck her head into the room. “Coming? I think we’re going to be late for class if we don’t head!”
I spun on my heels and made my way hastily to the font of the room-- finally a somewhat friendly face. I just wish Marissa would tell me what was going on! Maybe if I bugged her enough about it she would eventually tell me...
“Ahhh Marissa.” Melrose stood and in a few quick paces, he had joined us. “I leave this newbie in your hands.”
Marissa frowned. “Dean?”
“Take care to not tread too deeply in matters of the Fallen.”
Okay-- what the heck?
Fear and sadness flashed across Marissa’s face.
“You remember how that turned out the last time.”
Marissa grabbed my arm tightly, her face a white sheet -- her rose and thorn tattoo swirling on her face.
“When it is time-- you will have to choose.”
“You will know in time.”
Marissa nodded, her hair falling forward hiding her face. “Yes of course Dean.”
“Excellent.” Without another word he turned and glided from the room.
“Right-- well we’re going to be late!” Marissa dragged me out of the classroom and down the now empty hallway to our next class.
Each class was made up of about twenty to twenty five students; all who looked pretty much the same as my homeroom; though luckily no other teacher got me to come to front and introduce myself. Besides that I felt completely disorientated by the layout of the school; there were so many hallways that seemed to curve every which way… it was dizzying; like I was trapped in a maze. Marissa was in two of my five blocks, and Topher in one and Sebastian in the last. They literally met me at the door at the end of each class and never let me out of their sight. Though I was glad to have someone guide me around the school; especially on my first day-- I had to admit this whole situation stunk. When I was with my ‘friends’ no one else talked to me. Marissa was kind and sweet but she glared at every person who looked my way-- Topher was handsy even when I stabbed him repeatedly with my black ball point pen he wouldn’t stop; then there was Sebastian who was witty and could make me laugh-- while also sending dagger darts via his eyes at anyone who so much at winked at me. What a start to the school year! Like for real. I missed Claire for what felt like the millionth time.
That first day slipped by and then the next and the next-- each day an exact copy of the one before. Every morning at six thirty, Marissa picked me up in her Mercedes Benz, so I didn’t have to ride with Annabelle who still wasn’t talking to me and was avoiding me at school. I fell into the routines of homework and my awkward social life. Topher took me out Friday nights for dinner-- I would barely speak. Topher would glare at me, and I kept hearing the creepy voices in my head. We still weren’t a couple-- and I would tell people that as he dragged me down the hallway at school-- loudly and obnoxiously. He would tell people we were a couple when we went out for dinner, and he even told my parents that when he picked me up one time. I would never have agreed to the pretentious dinners but he would drive up, park in my driveway and sit there-- creepily waiting and for some reason I can’t explain I knew innately that he wouldn’t leave until I complied; that and my mom thought he was the best thing since baking had been invented. Truth was... Topher? He was a creep.
Saturday nights, Seb, Marissa and I went dancing at Plumanara, where I recognized almost half the faces since a lot of the people there were from Acroft High-- I still have no idea how I and the other students were able to get in. Saturdays were my favorite days. Marissa and I would hang out, go shopping-- grab a coffee; Seb would sometimes join. We’d all hole up at my house until we’d head to the Club-- where we would stay dancing until the ‘sun was rising’ and I was so tired that Sebastian would have to carry me back to the car. I swear I have never laughed or danced that hard in my life.
Sunday was a sleep in day. It was my catch up before the school week started again. I mostly stayed home on Sunday’s -- sleeping until noon, drinking way too much coffee, sometimes too much coffee and a few too many Red Bull’s. I did homework, read if I had time or felt the need-- researched the Fair Folk and Hell… Anna was never home on the weekends. That was the other best part about Sunday; no Anna, no Topher, no noise and no stress-- just me, my iPod and tunes.
By the time Mondays rolled around and it was all happening again I was frustrated anew. I felt like I was on Groundhog Day, my life on repeat with very little change. I hated it. Even worse was the fact that Claire and I kept missing each other’s Skype calls. Stinking time difference. I wanted to ask Claire what she thought of my situation-- if she knew what I should do to get out of it… Then there was the fact that through it all I had these stinking hellish nightmares which were getting more intense. The red eyes man-- or Topher, as he now appeared-- had become more forceful… He had begun to drag me up the cliff towards the black tower; he had kept telling me it was time I surrendered. Night after night I went there in my sleep-- and I wished for the Fairlands-- anything would be better than this! I wasn’t sure I could keep the red eyed man at bay for much longer, I just wasn’t strong enough.
Academically, I was doing well in my classes and Dean Melrose had commended me several times for my high grades-- but I still felt like I was missing something… That would be friends. In fact even though I missed Claire and had been trying to Skype her, she’d been messaging me and I had been ignoring her Facebook messages. As much as I wanted to talk to her-- what would I say? What could I say? My life is a lie? My so called friends; Topher, Marissa and Sebastian even-- refused to let me talk to any other students so I really didn’t have friends… Topher still refused to acknowledge that we weren’t in a relationship, which pissed me off so much-- and my sister still acted like she hated my guts and I couldn’t talk to my parents about any of it because they weren’t my parents?! FRICK. All I wanted to do was cry, all the time. By the end of the term I was sick of it.
It was late afternoon one Friday in December when Marissa and I were in my room, digging through my wardrobe closet for something new for me to wear out to dinner with Topher; a dinner I really had been trying to get out of when I finally snapped. I picked up one of my high heeled boots and threw it across the room. It hit the corner of my dresser and bounded off ending up in the middle of my floor.
Marissa put down the black sparkly dress she was holding up and admiring that we had purchased last week at Idrisa that I still hadn’t worn-- pretty sure she wanted to borrow it... “What’s wrong?”
I couldn’t believe that was her question. She knew very well what was wrong. I hated Topher-- I despised him. I was so sure he was the creepy guy in my nightmare and that he was trying to seduce me in the lava infested hell-- I was sick of how he refused to listen to a word I said-- but my ‘parents’ loved him and thought he was the best thing ever for me.
“I hate him.” I threw myself onto my bed, the tears I had been holding back for so long began to fall.
“I know,” Marissa whispered. “But--”
I didn’t look at her-- I couldn’t. She knew? But what? She never seemed to get that out no matter how many times we had this conversation. I felt her sit down on the mattress; it bounced as she scooted closer to me.
“I’m so sorry Gen. I really am.”
I let the tears fall. Once they started they didn’t stop.
“Marissa I can’t do this anymore. I can’t go out on one more pretentious date-- I don’t see how you could be friends with him! He’s so horrible!!”
Marissa’s hand patted my shoulder consolingly. “It took me a long time to be friends with him. Christopher is a hard to like person but he does have a heart and I believe he is very fond of you.”
“I’m serious. I don’t think I have ever seen him care about anyone and I’ve known him for a really long time.”
“Well, the feeling isn’t mutual.”
“I suppose he was hoping you would grow to care about him.”
I rolled my eyes even though Marissa couldn’t see my face buried in the blanket. “Never.”
“So what are you going to do?”
I sat up and took Marissa’s hands. “Thank you for being my friend.”
Marissa nodded. “Of course!” She gave my hands a little squeeze.
“I’m going to tell him to leave me alone.”
“I’m not sure that’s wise… AND I’m not even sure he would listen.”
Fair points on both accounts but I was tired of this charade.
“Look Marissa-- the first half of my senior year, my last year of school is over and I don’t want the last half to be as frustrating and depressing as this first portion has.”
“I and Seb are depressing?” Marissa sounded hurt.
“No Marissa! Of course not!! I love you two! Please don’t take this personally!”
Marissa bounded off my bed and scooped up her school bag. “Too late.” Her eyes looked so sad and I again thought she looked off… “I have to go-- I’m meeting Seb for dinner.”
“Marissa, please stay!”
“I’m sorry Gen.” She blinked. “I can’t-- I… Topher has had his claws in you for a long time-- he’s not going to give you up and I can’t be around to witness that. Not again.” Marissa genuinely looked terrified. “If he had done the-- if he had…it would be-- But he didn’t and now he’ll-- I have to go!” Marissa fled my room leaving me with so many questions.
I lay on my bed, my eyes red from crying-- my throat so itchy and sore… I was finished. I was done. I closed my eyes and fell asleep letting the lava burn my skin-- letting the hell take over.
“Genevieve…. Come to me, my scarlet woman!” The creepy voice called to me.
I opened my eyes. I was on fire in the lava lake. It hurt me but I made myself step forward until I was on the edge of the lake. The man; Topher pulled me out and into his arms. “It is your voice I hear when I’m awake isn’t it?” I queried. “Why do you look like Topher?”
The man released me and held me back so he was looking in my face-- his red eyes glowing like embers. “Yes. It is my voice you hear in your waking moments-- and I am Christopher in his true form. You are very good.”
“True form? But why? To what end?”
“Because.” Christopher hissed. “I have chosen you to be my mate. You are mine, and you must know that-- you cannot run from your fate.”
“There are so many things that are wrong with that sentence--”
“SILENCE!” Christopher roared; huge black oily wings unfurled from his back-- black feathers dropped to the ground as his wings moved. “You shall be mine, your life is forfeit. I shall love you; and you shall eventually love me… You shall see.”
“Let go of me!”
Christopher dropped me. “It matters not. My fraud is here-- I can sense him. When he takes you-- we will be one. Yes, yes-- finally free…”
WHAT a crackerjack…
Was that the doorbell?
“Awake my love-- it is time. He is here for you.” Christopher put his burning hand over my eyes and all went black-- when I opened them I was alone and the doorbell was indeed ringing.
Dragging myself off my bed I slowly headed down the stairs and went to let Topher in.
“Hi.” He mumbled when I opened the door, he looked slightly confused when he saw I was still wearing my skinny jeans, wasn’t dressed up-- and that I had mascara running down my face from crying.
HA. DID I LOOK OKAY? Be calm Gen-- you have to be cool, calm and confident-- tell him who’s boss.
“Come on in.”
He entered, and I shut the door then spun to face him. I was suddenly so glad Angela was out, Mike was at work, and Anna or Bella as she was still going by these days was still off somewhere with her friends. We were alone; there wasn’t even Marissa here to pressure me to be kind or say yes to all the things I had wanted to say no to for so very long.
“We need to talk,” I said seriously, crossing my arms over my chest in a stereotypical way that said I was not happy.
“What’s up?” He asked cautiously.
Oh, he had to know what was up-- I wondered if he heard the voice too or if it was him sending it out to me… I refused to let myself look directly into his eyes afraid they might turn red and wings would burst from his back.
“You are going to leave me the HELL alone starting now.”
“I don’t think so.”
“DON’T ARGUE WITH ME.” I never shouted when it came to Topher-- I usually just didn’t talk period. He looked shocked. Good-- that’s what I was going for. “You are poisonous-- and I don’t want you in my life.”
“Get out of my house-- leave me alone or I call the cops.”
“You can’t be serious-- I haven’t done anything to you! What in heaven’s name would you even say?”
“Oh no, not in heaven’s name it’s more like what in HELL’S name would I say--”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.”
Topher’s eyes flashed but he didn’t say anything. I knew it. He had known about my nightmares. What an insolent, creep. What was wrong with him anyways?
“Stay the heck away from me and stay out of my head-- if I see you in my head one more time I swear I’m going to call the cops and have them arrest you-- even if I have to lie to do it.”
“You wouldn’t dare.” Topher hissed.
“Fine. I’ll leave-- but we’re not done; not by a long shot. I’ve marked you as my own-- so one day I’ll come for you.”
“What the hell are you anyways?”
Topher ignored me and stalked out of the house. “PS. I’m done keeping you safe.”
What the frick was he talking about? What an arrogant son of a bitch. “Great. I hated you babysitting me anyways. Maybe now I can make friends.”
Topher spun to look at me-- we were both standing on the front porch. “Friends?” He laughed a deep dark laugh. “If you survive the next semester without me I’ll be shocked.”
What an ass.
“Maybe then you’ll see reason and come crying to me begging me to take you--” His eyes flashed-- was that red? “Then you will be mine and no one will be able to take you from me.”
“Leave!” I hissed.
Topher grunted but didn’t hesitate after that-- he headed down the drive to his stupid blue mini. I stood there for what felt like an eternity as I waited for him to drive away. It seemed to take hours but I am sure it took only a few minutes. After he was actually gone I went back to my room and collapsed on my bed. I lay there for a moment thinking about what he had said to me; ‘PS. I am done keeping you safe.’
“Safe from what?” I mumbled to my empty room. I guess it really didn’t matter what Topher had been talking about-- he was a delusional crazy person-- and yes I would get a restraining order if I had to. I spent the evening continuing to look up what ‘the Fallen’ could be-- I continued to wade through a number of possibilities but of course every time I read things on them I knew it was all fiction…I mean it had to be right? I also researched more legends about the ‘fair folk’ otherwise called ‘Fae’ also which were fictional things-- they had to be. Was it possible that the supernatural and fantastical were actually real and people from those strange backgrounds were living among us? I could hear Dean Melrose’s voice in my head; ‘Stick to your studies not fantasy…’ What on earth had he meant?
The rest of the weekend passed in a blur. Sebastian texted me-- he and Marissa were cancelling on our usual Saturday plans to go dancing at Plumanara-- that worked fine for me. Marissa didn’t even bother texting me; that upset me a little. I thought we were friends! At least I heard from Seb. What did Topher hold over Marissa anyways-- that she would be so afraid of him? I managed to do all my homework on Saturday and actually go to bed early-- which felt kind of wrong, but I did get rest, which felt well needed. I did feel off though; and I knew it was because I missed Sebastian and Marissa’s company; and the electric atmosphere of Plumanera.
I got so much rest on Saturday night that I didn’t even sleep in on Sunday like I normally did. I woke up so early that I didn’t even know what to do with myself-- so I put on the coffee pot, pulled on some jeans and a hoodie and headed out by myself-- for the first time in a really long time and I took a long walk about our area. It was cool and crisp out-- like really cold, they said we might get a dusting of snow next week; but it was nice to have some time to think and just be me, Gen. When I had finally almost turned to ice and could no longer feel my fingers; I made my way back to the house then I asked to borrow the car. Yes-- I had finally taken the road test-- and I had passed with flying colours!! Mike had finally caved and taken me to practice.
I drove out of town and went to the Mall in Guildford in Surrey-- here I was less likely to see anyone from school, meaning mostly Topher. I had no immediate urge to see that douche anytime soon. I had to Google Maps it but it was worth it knowing I was completely alone for once. Grad events would be starting soon-- I think we were going on some kind of harbour cruise as well as a few other dances and dinners-- then there were photo’s that would need to be taken… I had yet to go shopping for dresses-- I mean my closet was pretty full of sparkly dresses from Idrisa, but none of them screamed Grad or Prom at me.
Guildford Mall as it turned out was not the best place to find large selections of dresses. I scoured the shops, disappointed after a few hours that I had only found a few potentials… or some I loved that I was sure I couldn’t afford on my own -- and there was no way I was asking Mike or Angela for money to help me out. After I was tired of looking for dresses I wandered the mall-- looking for something, anything to make me less bored. I popped in and out of stores scouring shelves for something to distract me until I saw a sign for Chapters; that drew me in like a moth to flame-- it had been forever since I had read a book for the pleasure of actually really reading a book. As I followed the signs towards the bookstore I saw him-- the guy from the first day of school, the hot yet totally normal looking biker guy. I hadn’t had time to think about him since I saw him-- but now that he was in my sights I remembered how hot he was; how I’d wanted to meet him so bad. I almost hated how girly I suddenly felt-- and how stereotypical. I rolled my eyes at myself. But seriously, what was he even doing here? I mean I had made sure this was so far outside of Vancouver that none of my classmates would come here; not that I was going to complain. What didn’t make sense was how dangerous everyone wanted me to believe this guy and his friends were; I mean out of everyone at school they were the most normal looking-- I mean out of everyone else at the school they were. Who cared that they had tats? Just because a guy had tats didn’t make him an actual rough dude. That was so so… I was distracted as I stared at him; I couldn’t even think of the word I was just about to use. Crap. I shouldn’t stare; he was going to notice and as much as the girly side of me wanted him to see me… the logical side of me wouldn’t even be able to get my name out, probs. Books suddenly didn’t mean anything in that moment, they could wait.
Just like when I’d first seen him in September I unconsciously found myself following this guy. My feet started to move without my brain telling them to and I followed this guy from my school, who I didn’t know around the mall… I paused often realizing that this was a really bad start to any kind of acquaintance-- stalking I mean. Hopefully if he looked back and saw me he would assume I was one of the many Christmas shoppers out and about. I followed him for what seemed like half an hour but was probably only five-ish minutes before he finally looked over his shoulder and spotted me. I felt my cheeks go red as I hastily dove into Icings. I pretended to look at the purse on display. I could feel my heart hammering in my chest. I waited thirty seconds before turning around again, and when I did, he was gone. I felt a surge of disappointment; well I guess I wasn’t meeting him today-- maybe I would make more of an effort to meet him the next time I saw him at school… if I was lucky enough to spot him ever again.
“Rats,” I muttered, and then my stomach growled. I sighed, and went to the Food Court and bought myself a Subway sandwich.
My iPhone rang as I was about to sit down. I answered it, it was Marissa. “Hey, can’t talk, but I wanted you to know school’s been cancelled on account of all the snow we are expecting, in fact if you look outside right now, snow is like-- pouring out of the sky. Anyways gotta go. Bye.”
My phone beeped at me; ‘call ended’. I stared at its screen. It wasn’t like Marissa to say she couldn’t talk, and then hang up on me. She had only done that once ever, the night my sister was at that party. I frowned and finished my lunch, then slowly made my way out of the Mall.
Marissa was right. Snow was falling in huge white flakes. Already since I had been in the Mall, which was crowded with Christmas shoppers, around a foot of snow had fallen. I sighed and made my way out to the car. It took me around an hour to shovel snow off, and almost as long to get home. When I finally pulled the car into the garage and shut it, freezing and shivering, I found Angela and Mike sitting in the kitchen; Mike reading the paper and Angela cooking dinner, there was a mug of hot chocolate set aside for me.
“Anna home?” I asked cautiously.
Mike shook his head. “Some guy who I’ve seen a lot at Starbucks picked her up two hours ago, they were going to go sledding.”
I picked up the hot chocolate, and took a sip. So Anna had gone for the Barista boy, well that was interesting considering she was also interested in Topher and his brother Mark, whoever he was...
Angela turned around. “So we hear through Marissa that you’ve broken up with that nice boy Topher.”
NICE BOY? I sat at the table and sighed, if only they knew what he was really like and how I hadn’t ever been dating him. Go figure Marissa had told my ‘parents’ about the fact I had-- wait, Marissa had left before I had told off Topher-- he had to have talked to her; and for some reason she was afraid of him…
“Yeah, we were never a thing.”
Angela looked at Mike who looked at Angela. “You sure looked like a thing,” Mike muttered then went back to his paper.
“Appearances can be deceiving-- you of all people should know that,” I replied. I knew I had hit them where it hurt-- and it hurt me too… Even though I had to think of them as Mike and Angela to remind myself that they weren’t my parents-- they had raised me and they did love me. It hurt most to look at Mike-- knowing that I could never do our father daughter thing again-- he would never call me, the prettiest girl that he ever did see, the same way-- not now that I knew it was all a lie.
“Well whatever you two were-- you did look nice together.” Angela continued as she opened the oven and peered in. “Make sure you aren’t just letting a good thing go.”
If only I could tell her I wasn’t letting anything good go-- only the bad. From here on out it was just going to get better-- that was my new goal. “I will.” I took my mug of hot chocolate and headed out of the kitchen, I wasn’t hungry. I was starving. Starving for adventure and excitement and change.