“Mae,” The tiniest whisper fills my ears, “Mae, wake up.” The tiniest kiss is placed on my forehead. “Mae, you have to wake up.” The gentle shake of my shoulders begins to stir me from my sleep and Rolan’s muddied voice begins to sound clearer to my ears.
“Hello?” I whisper, voice groggy and scratchy as I turn over, “What time is it?”
“Four in the morning.”
“Four?” I say, “Why are you waking me up so early.” I pull the cover over my head, snuggling back down into the bed in which I lay in.
“Because we need to get you home before your mum gets up so you don’t get in trouble or at least get into less trouble. She called a couple times yesterday but you were asleep and I couldn’t answer it. I didn’t want to get you in trouble.”
I push the cover off my body, sitting up in the bed, heart thumping.“Oh my God, I’m dead!” I say, flinging my legs over the side of the bed. Rolan gently clasps my wrist, pulling me back down flush against his chest.
“Allan is coming to bring you home. He’ll be here in about forty minutes.” Rolan says, kissing my shoulder lightly. He leans close to my ear and whispers, “So we can cuddle.”
I smile as some of my fear dissipates. I turn around in his lap, laying my head in the crook of his neck as he tightens his grip on my waist, laying us both down. “I never got to thank you for yesterday. It was really nice by the way.” I place a kiss on his jaw as he traces patterns on my back.
“Really?” He asks, a slight blush appearing on his cheeks, “You liked it?”
I nod, smiling, “I liked it a lot.”
“Oh, I also saved you the desserts. You can take them home with you when Allan comes.”
I hug him tightly, “Thank you! Honestly you are the best.”
“Hey you guys aren’t fucking in their are you?” Someone shouts from outside the room.
“If you are, can we watch?” Someone else yells and then I hear a thud and an, ‘ow, it was a joke’
I feel Rolan sigh behind me as and I look up at him just in time to catch his not so subtle eye roll.
“No, we’re not fucking, you can come in.” His voice lowers slightly, “Cause you’re going to anyway” I laugh, kissing his cheek.
The door is pushed open and two people walk in the room. “Hi there,” a girl says. Her eyes are what catch my attention first, they are a bright, vivid green that seem to possess this iridescent glow in their depths. Beneath them her pale skin is sprinkled with freckles, reaching the tops of her high cheekbones. She flips her long, midnight hair over her shoulder, “Sorry to interrupt but we asked Rolan if he could bring you downstairs for us to meet but the dufus refused so we came to you. I’m Vrey and this is Jake.” She points to the guy standing next her his sandy blonde hair seeming to shimmer under the light. His shoulders are broad and his arms muscular, stretching the material of his t-shirt slightly. He stands like a soldier toned legs shoulder width apart, head held high.
I try to sit up to meet Vrey’s outstretched hand but Rolan holds me back, keeping me locked securely in his grasp.
“Hi,” I wave at them instead, “Sorry, I would shake your hand but he won’t, he won’t let me go. Rolan let me shake her hand.” I say, trying to pull away from his grip.
“No,” He whines, “Don’t engage with them. They’ll take it as a sign that they can continue to talk to you and then we won’t be able to cuddle.”
Vrey rolls her eyes, “Honestly, he’s like a man-child sometimes.” Jake sniggers underneath his breath, nodding in agreement.
“I think you’ve mistaken a simile for a metaphor there, Vrey.” Someone walks into the room and I recognise them as Ethan. “He is a man-child.”
I smile at their banter, trying my best not to laugh loudly into Rolan’s ear.
“You see what I have to put up with?” He whispers in my ear, “Bullies, the lot of them.”
“Aww, you’re adorable.” I kiss his cheek lightly. Rolan lifts us up so that we are now sitting, his arm still wrapped around my waist.
“Alex told me to tell you guys that breakfasts done and also to tell you that Colton’s in a particularly bad mood today. So brace yourselves.” He says.
“When is he not in a bad mood?” Jake asks.
“Come on,” Rolan gets up off the bed, “Let’s get you something to eat.” We file out into the corridor, making our way down to the dining area where a guy stands cracking eggs expertly with one hand.
He notices us all coming in and begins to plate the food, placing it onto the grey marble of the island in the middle of the kitchen. He waves at us as we enter.
“Hey Alex, thanks for breakfast.” Vrey says as she pulls me with her to sit at the counter.
“Yeah, thanks dude, this cooking thing is really great for us,” Jake says. As he takes a few rashes of bacon from one of the plates, “For you, I meant for you. It’s good that your developing new skills” He corrects as he pats Alex on the back.
Alex shakes his head, his shoulder length brown hair shaking as he does so, a small smile on his lips as he continues to cook.
“Thanks,” I say quietly to him before I sit down. He nods and smiles, a light blush tinting his cheeks. “It’s my pleasure.” He replies quietly.
“So where were we? Oh yeah, I’m Vrey,” She extends her hand to me, her smile seeming genuine and I shake it.
“Mae.” I reply, smiling.
“So um, how was you date yesterday?” She asks as she places a few rashes of bacon between two pieces of brown bread.
“It was good, fun. Um, Rolan took me to dinner. Although you probably already, like , know that.” I say, laughing lightly, nerves getting the best of me.
“Yeah, he wouldn’t stop taking about you. All good things, all good things though.” She assures and I laugh.
“Exposed.” Ethan says between bites of his sausage. Rolan gasps and coughs, trying to expel the coffee he had just inhaled from his lungs.
“I’ve never seen him like this before.” She whispers to me. “You’ve turned him to putty.” We both glance over at Rolan wiping spilt coffee from the table. He swats Jake’s hand away from his back, mumbling a “I’m fine,” as he straightens his spine, chest puffing in the process.
The door to the kitchen swings open, revealing Colton on the other side. He walks in without a word, a scowl on his face as he drops a bunch of folders onto the island, the contact making a loud bang ricochet throughout the room. I see Jake visibly shudder at the sound and he grabs the edge of the counter tightly, knuckles turning white. “I told you not to do that!” He shouts, chest heaving.
I stare at my plate, nibbling quietly on the piece of egg on my fork. The atmosphere is thick with tension and hostility as both people stare each other down.
“Come on, Colton,” Rolan says, ” You know he doesn’t like it.”
Colton clenches his jaw and I can almost hear his teeth grinding together as he mutters, “Sorry.”
“Don’t do it again.” The tone in Rolan’s voice sends a shiver down my spine. It is authoritative and leaves absolutely no room for argument. I feel like I’ve just been told off and I’m not even the one he’s even talking to.
“Um, so uh, do you wanna get changed? I’ve got some spare clothes.” Vrey says to me, cutting through the almost tangible silence that hangs in the air.
“Sure.” I reply and begin to get up from the table, going over to the sink to wash my plate.
“Leave that, it’s fine.” She says, linking arms with me and pulling me gently towards the door, “You’re too polite.”
“Hold up, ladies,” Jake says, rising from his chair, “I’ll come with you guys.”
“No you’re not. She’s going to be changing.” Rolan interupts.
“I’ll have my back turned,” Jake replies, with a wave of his hand as he follows us out the kitchen.
“Sorry about that earlier,” He says as his arm rests on the back of my neck.
“It’s fine, you don’t have to apologise.” I say, “Um, is Colton always like that?”
“He has moments, fleeting moments where he makes you think that he really does care but other than that yeah pretty much.” Vrey says.
Three turns to the left, two to the right and eight doors later we make it to Vrey’s room. “This place is huge.” I say, “I would genuinely be lost without you. And your room, it’s so beautiful.”
Large, billowy white curtains hang over two massive glass doors, beyond those a balcony. A flat screen tv is screwed to pastel green walls as well as paintings, most of them wolves though some of them are of landscapes.
“Did you do those,” I ask.
“Yep,” She smiles, “I could do one of you if you like. Add it to the collection.”
I nod, “Could you also teach me?” I asks, “I do pencil drawings but when it comes to paint it’s like I’ve reverted back to a child just starting nursery.” Vrey and Jake both laugh and I do as well.
“I’m sure they’re not that bad.” Jake comments as he lays down onto Vrey’s queen size bed, the cream coloured silk sheets looking like absolute heaven. Vrey does the same, head leisurely resting on Jake’s chest.
“You look so comfortable.” I say, “I wish I could go back to sleep.” I whine, sitting down on the chaise lounge, the velvet material seeming to lull my body to sleep.
“Looks like you already are.” Jake says as he taps away at his phone.
I push myself up, “Ok, so maybe sitting down isn’t the best idea.” I reply.
Vrey chuckles lightly, “Come on, I’ll get you some clothes to wear.” She walks over to a set of sliding doors, opening them to reveal a whole other room full of clothes.
“Oh my God!” I exclaim, “This is amazing.”
“Pick anything,” She says, “We’ll wait outside.”
“I don’t think I’m your size, you’re so much taller than me.” I say, hands brushing the bottoms of each piece of clothing.
“Take a look, you’ll find something.I’m outside.” She says as she closes the door.
“Ok,” I reply, a bit short of breath as my heart thumps. I feel a tingle race up my spine as I sift through the clothes and an excited squeal leaves my lips. The closet reminds me of one I has when I was younger. Of course back then it was filled with the outfits of princesses and heroines.
“You ok?” I hear Jake ask from outside.
“Yep, absolutely fine.” I say, hand going over my mouth to stop any other spontaneous squeals that feel the need to leave my body. Just pick a top and some bottoms and get out of here. I shrug my shoulders, trying to shake the childish excitement I feel.The method proves ineffective as another set of tingles race up my back.
My hands stop on a pair of three quarter length black trousers and a cropped pink jumper and I quickly change into them, coming out of the walk-in closet.
“Done.” I say.
“Told you you’d find something.“Very says.
“Thanks for letting me wear these, I’ll get them back as soon as possible.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Vrey says.
“Rolan says Allan’s here.” Jake says, pushing himself up off the bed.
We make our way out of Vrey’s room, walking through the corridors and I don’t know what it is but the look that passes through both Vrey and Jake’s eyes has me on edge. They look at each other quizzically, a small crease between their eyebrows.
“Is everything...ok?” I ask.
“Do you hear that?” Jake asks, “It’s like a -”
“A beeping.” Vrey finishes. I look at them both, trying my hardest to hear what they do but I can’t seem to.
The blast sends us all back, everything around us breaking into a million pieces, the sturdy looking walls crumbling like a house of cards being blown by the wind. Before I can really perceive what is happening I am being thrown backwards, crashing into the floor, head colliding on bits of broken wall. My vision whirs in and out and then fails all together.
Everything is out of sync, words pass through my head. They don’t make any sense. I cough, the smoke is dense and fire seems to cling to every corner it can. I blink, the soot and smoke stinging my eyes, burning my lungs. It’s impossible to take breath. It’s impossible to see.
Trembling hands wrap around my waist. I think they’re Vrey’s or Jake’s or maybe Rolan’s. Everything is too blurry for me to be able to deduce anything fully. I’m hauled up over his, her....someone’s shoulder and then I’m moving like a thousand miles per second. And even though everything’s a blur, the dead bodies still seem as clear as day to me. Burnt and bloody, staring at me, begging me to help them escape the flames even though their souls no longer reside within. They are forever going to be trapped in fire. I don’t even have the will to cry. My head begins to spin again, my vision twirling and waning. And I feel my head go limp.
I blink once, then twice, allowing myself to get used to the blinding light of the sun. I try to sit up, coughing violently, expelling whatever wretched soot has settled in my lungs. The fresh air feeling like a miracle remedy for my burning lungs.
“He-hey, you...you okay?′ Jake’s trembling hands wrap around my waist, helping me to sit up, back leaning against some fallen log.
I nod, “Everything’s gone, everything’s...” I look around at the destruction before me. People are scattered around the place, clothes bloodied and burnt, their skin peeling and blistering. Paramedics rush about in a frenzy, attending to the wounded. At least ten fire brigades line the outside of the building, shooting jets of water at the burning building. My mouth hangs open as I stare at what remained of the building I was in. Flames have demolished the place, blackened the outside completely. All the windows are broken and smashed. My hands go over my ears, “They’re still screaming, people are in there and they’re screaming.” I can’t stop the tears from falling down my cheeks and onto my lap. I go to curl into a ball but shooting pain in my torso has me screaming in agony. Jake jumps up at the loud noise, looking completely helpless as he covers his ears and cries. I rise slowly, holding my side as I kneel down in front of him, my bloodied hands holding his.
“Jake, I- Sorry for screaming. I...didn’t mean to scare you.”
“It’s too loud, everything’s too loud. Not just you. It needs to stop, I want it to stop.” His voice is scratchy and broken as he sobs into his hands.
I rub his back and hold him as best I can, running my hands through his hair. The blonde strands no longer shiny but sooty and grainy and grey. “You need to get that checked out.” He says, gesturing to the burn on the side of my torso.
“I will- once someone’s free. There are people here who need more help than I do.”
“Vrey, uh, Vrey went to find Rolan. She should, she should be back soon with him.If something hasn’t-”
“They’ll be here.” I say, “And thank you. I haven’t thanked you...for carrying me out of the flames. I have legs, I should’ve used them.” He laughs lightly though the comic relief doesn’t last for long as he begins rubbing his face in frustration but he seems to have calmed down a little bit.
I rest myself slowly against the log and close my eyes, taking in short breaths so as not to aggravate the burn on my side. I can’t even call my mum. She’s probably worried sick about me. I can’t tell her I’m here either she’ll somehow find a way to connect Rolan to being the reason for the fire and then she’ll never let me see him.
“Mae!” I hear someone shout my name. I open my eyes, seeing Rolan sprinting across the field towards me. I breathe a sigh of relief and slowly stand up, hobbling towards Rolan. He gets to me in no time, hands clasping my waist.
“You’re alright.” He says
I nod, “Just about.” I reply.
“Oh my God, her side, Rolan.” Vrey says.
“I know, I know.” He says to Vrey, “Come on, I’m getting you to someone who can help.”
“But Jake-” I say, looking back at him as he rocks himself.
“Vre-Vrey’s going to stay with him.” He says.
“Are you ok?” I stop, looking him up and down. Most of his clothes are burnt and ripped more so than mine and they are covered in blood, whose I don’t know. He is covered in soot, face, arms, legs all covered in black ash.
“You look terrible.” I comment.
“No, I- You just, you look like you took a direct hit and yet here you are, um, walking.” He looks at me curiously, eyes making some sort of judgement.
“What? What is it?” I ask.
“You’re very observant.”
“Oh, uh, ok. I don’t know where that came from, but...ok.”
“I was outside when the explosion happened,” he started, “but I got a lot of soot on me from helping people out the building hence the blood.” His lie is smooth, it rolls off his tongue easily but something in me just tells me instantly that he is lying.
“Sure,” I reply, side-eyeing him.
“Hey!” Rolan calls out, waving down one of the paramedics on the field.
“She got burned on her side.” Rolan says, helping me to take a seat on the back of the ambulance. The man gets to cleaning the wound, carefully working around the blistering skin so as not to agitate it more before wrapping some gauze padding around the burn.
“Are you allergic to any medicines?”
“No, not that I know.” I reply.
“Ok, I’m going to give you some ibuprofen for the pain.” I nod, taking the medicine gratefully, knowing that in a few moments the pain in my side would ease.
“The burn is good for now but you’re going to need to get it checked out regularly to make sure there isn’t an infection and the dressing needs to be changed frequently as well, ok?” I nod at the instructions, watching as the man packs up his kit. He nods at Rolan and I before making his way into the crowd to help others.
“You’re going home.” Rolan says as he helps me to my feet.
I look at him in disbelief, heart beating rapidly in my chest, “I can’t, I can’t just leave. I can’t just...flee. That would be wrong. Look at everyone, they’re home has been burnt to a crisp. Why should I go home safe?” I ask him.
“I need you safe, ok.” He says, hands gently clasping my face as if I’m going to disappear right in front of his eyes. “Please, if any more bombs-”
“Bombs?” I ask. “I can’t...believe it.”
“Yes, this was planned, orchestrated.” Rolan answers, “And I don’t want you here if anymore go off. So you are going home. Please.” I breathe in deep, looking down at the bloody grass to avoid the desperate look in Rolan’s eyes.
“Ok.” I mutter.
“Good, you see that drive away, across the field.” I nod, “Allan is waiting for you at the end. Go to him.”
“Alright, where are you going?”
“I need to find my parents to make sure they’re alright.“He says. “Please,” He pulls me in close, kissing my forehead, “I can’t lose another person I love.” That hits hard. My heart feeling as though it is swelling in my chest.
“I know...how it feels lose someone you care about so please be safe too.” I say, hands wrapping around his neck as I peck his cheek.
“I will, now go, I’m not joking around.”
“See you soon.” He smiles and begins to walk away and I do the same.
As I’m walking to the driveway I see a child standing a few paces away in the middle of the field, clutching a teddy in their hands tightly. They look completely lost and alone and tears stream down their cheeks. I know Rolan told me to leave immediately but I can’t just leave the child there, especially if I can help. I walk over to them and kneel down.
“I’m Mae.” I start, “What’s your name?”
“El-Ellie-May.” She says through her tears.
“That’s a beautiful name. Are you lost, Ellie-May?” I ask softly. The little girl shakes her head.
“I can’t find my mum.” She says, sobbing loudly into her teddy.
“We can look for her together.” I suggest, offering a hand for her to hold. The little girl nods her head and takes my outstretched arm.
“What’s your mummy’s name, Ellie-May? We can ask around if anyone has seen her.”
“My mummy’s name is Jenny.” I nod.
“Don’t worry, Ellie-May. I’m sure we’ll find her.” But I’m not sure that we will find her but what else am I supposed to say. Her mum may very well be dead. A sinking feeling settles in my gut. No, I mustn’t think like that.
We look around for her mum, asking almost every person we can but nobody has seen her. And just when all hope feels lost we hear,
Ellie-May lets go of my hand and runs towards a blond haired woman. They both run towards each other with open arms and when she’s close enough Jenny picks up her daughter and spins her around. I can’t help but smile at the joyful sight that brings tears of happiness to my eyes.
I see the little girl point backwards at me, making her mum turn her attention to me. She beckons me towards her and I walk over to the two slowly.
“Uh, hi.” I say with a small wave. The woman takes my hand, holding it firmly.
“Thank you, thank you so so much, Luna. You have no idea how much you have helped me today.”
“It’s alright but, my name...” The lady looks at me expectantly, waiting for me to finish my sentence. “...uh, never mind. See you, see you around.”
“Goodbye!” The little girl calls.
I smile and wave at her before making my way to the driveway where Rolan said Allan would be. He stands outside his car at the end of the driveway and I pick up my pace.
“Hi there, Allan.” I say as he opens the car door for me.
“Miss.” He says with a nod.
I watch the chaos continue to unfold as we drive away. Who would do something like this? Who would cause this much pain? And for what? Money? Recognition? I breathe in rapidly, chest constricting as my blood begins to boil. Whoever did this, I hate them! So much! That little girl’s mum could have died, she could have been orphaned because of them. The amount of lives that have been ruined, devastated. I can’t even-
“Miss,” Allan’s voice cuts through my angry raving, “Are you ok? You’re crying.”
“Sorry,” I wipe my under-eyes quickly, “Yeah, uh, no I’m fine. Um,do you think we could take a little detour before I get home... to a friends house.”
Allan looks at me through the rear view mirror, eyebrows furrowing slightly at the request. “Sure. What’s the address?”
I give him the address and sit back in the car seat, closing my eyes. I’m exhausted, muscles aching and taut, fatigue washing over me in waves. I can get at least ten minutes of rest before I have to explain my debacle to Logan.
Once again I have managed to update a whole 3 weeks later than I said I would. I promise, one day I will update on time.
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Keep Well and Stay Safe,