After Talia’s revelation, I leave her in the hallway and venture back to my room. Like a coward.
Immediately, I start searching for my phone. I find it amongst the pile of clothes from last night. I must have been so drunk I didn’t even realise I had left things so messy.
Scrolling through my known contacts, I click on my most used number and dial it. For a few minutes, all I hear is the ringing noise. And then, to my relief, the sound of my sister’s voice.
“Amber,” I breathe in relief. Sitting down on the edge of my bed, I make sure I’m comfortable. “I’m so happy you answered.”
A few seconds pass in silence. Eventually, she speaks, in a monotone voice. “Why did you call me, Lily? What do you want?”
I hate how emotionless she sounds. I hate how it sounds like she doesn’t want to talk to me. I’m her twin sister—her best friend. Yet, she just doesn’t care anymore. I thought if she spent some time away, she would get better. But right now, it doesn’t sound like that is happening. Is she even trying to help herself? Does she want to move on? I know I’m not doing very well either but at least I want to get better.
I care about her so much, yet it seems she doesn’t reciprocate the feelings. Not anymore.
Swallowing harshly, I reign my thoughts in. I need to have a clear mind when I tell her this. “I, um, discovered something today.”
She doesn’t say anything, but I can imagine her nodding her head, pressing me to continue.
“About mum and dad.”
Silence ensues again. I can hear her breathing over the phone, informing me she is still on the phone.
“Go on,” She eventually says, her voice cracking at the end. That little action makes me somewhat happy. She still feels things—she isn’t blocking all of her emotions out.
Sucking in a breath, I recite everything to her as if it was a story. She listens intently, never once interrupting me. When I finish, I lean back on the bed, suddenly feeling exhausted. That emotionally takes a lot out of me.
“That—that is—how?” Amber stammers, her reaction similar to mine.
It feels great to tell my sister this, to not be the only one to know this. However, I do feel guilty for telling her this when she is not coping with my parent’s death well.
“I don’t know,” I sigh, tiredly. “Trinity hates me so much. How am I going to spend a year with this girl?”
I can imagine Amber shaking her head right now, out of ideas. God, I wish she was here right now, sharing this room with me.
“I think you should avoid this girl as much as possible. Just don’t interact with her or wind her up. You should be fine.” Amber suggests the most unhelpful thing ever. Yeah because I can totally ignore the things, she says to me on a regular basis. Yeah, Amber, avoiding here will be so easy. It’s not like I’m in the same room as her or anything.
I obviously don’t say this to Amber—I don’t want her hating me.
“Sure,” I reply, unconvinced.
Before I can ask her any questions about how school is, I hear someone talking to Amber on the other end of the phone.
“—so, if you want to join us, you can meet us at the Cherry Tops in thirty minutes with Iris and Esme,” Jealousy, a feeling I am beginning to feel too often, courses through my veins at the sound of this girl’s voice. Amber has made friends with other people—which I am happy about but also upset about at the same time. What if they get really close and she forgets about me?
God, when did I become so insecure?
It’s hypocritical of me since I have friends here but I’m keeping a distance. I know what to say and what not to say. I still see Amber as my best friend—no matter who I meet.
What if she’s doing this because can’t look at me without seeing our parents? What if the reason she is so distant is that she doesn’t want to be associated with me anymore because it hurts to be reminded of them? What if she thinks making new friends will solve that problem?
What if she leaves me behind?
It hurts so much to even think these things. I need my sister, desperately. I miss her so much.
I don’t even hear Amber’s response because I’m too caught up in my own thoughts. It’s only when she speaks to me, that I break out of my mental talk.
“I’m sorry, Lily, I have to go,” She announces, abruptly.
Before she goes, I ask her if we will talk again soon.
“Um…I’ll try. School is piling up and I’m trying to balance it with my extracurricular activities. I’ll see what—”
“It’s fine,” I interrupt her, not wanting to hear anymore. Truthfully, it’s not fine. Not to me, it isn’t. Call me selfish but I want to spend some time with my sister. Even if it’s on the phone. I love her—more than anything else. Yet, I fear she doesn’t love me anymore. “I love you.”
“Bye, Lily.” She says and ends the call.
She didn’t say it back. She didn’t say ’I love you’ back. The worry only increases; the thoughts return, stronger than ever.
Placing my phone on the bed, I tilt my head towards the window and stare outside at the beautiful forest. It appears so tranquil and settling. There is something about the forest that feels familiar and safe. I don’t feel scared at all about going in there and getting lost. It’s like my brain believes it's safe in there.
As I’m watching everything outside, I spot someone crossing the field, heading towards the woods with purpose. Glancing at the clock in my room, I notice it’s nearly five o’clock meaning tea is soon. Not only that but it’s getting dark as well.
At closer inspection, I can make out certain things about the person such as their hair and build. It’s a girl—a girl with raven coloured hair.
I frown, wondering what Kacey is doing at this time, alone. It’s getting late—it’s not safe going into the woods by yourself.
Follow her, my subconscious whispers. You know you want to. You might find out what they are hiding.
It’s tempting. So, tempting. I’d love to know what everyone is hiding from me.
The more time I spend around my friends, the more things I pick up on. They’re very bad when it comes to slip-ups.
Kacey is getting closer and closer to the woods. If I want to follow her, I should make a move now otherwise I’ll lose her.
Deciding I’m going to protect Kacey (against what? I don’t know), I leap out of bed and chuck a pair of shoes on my feet. I sprint down the hallways, mumbling an apology to everyone I bash into. I make it outside and zone in on Kacey. She’s on the outskirts of the woods, getting further away from sight.
Huffing, I sprint over to the woods as fast I can. I’ve never been a huge fan of sport, but I do enjoy running occasionally. However, right now, I curse myself for doing this. The field is about half a mile long and since I don’t do this on a regular basis, my body is protesting in no time at all. I must stop beside a lone tree to catch my breath.
Semi-recovered, I make a dash towards the outskirts of the forest, where I saw Kacey a few minutes ago. By the time I reach it, I can barely see Kacey. She’s a dot in my eyes, hardly visible.
As quietly as I can, despite the fact she is so far away, I sneak through the treacherous forest. Soon, my body starts to shiver from the cold. I didn’t notice it before but now that I have, I’m starting to regret not putting a jacket on.
I manage to catch up to Kacey without her noticing. She seems to know where she’s going as if she has been here before.
She comes to a halt at a small clearing where a hut is. Confused at the sight of a hut, I scan it with my eyes. Nothing unusual strikes out—it’s just a small wooden hut in the middle of a forest. It's so small, I doubt anyone lives here.
Perhaps students hang out here when there’s nowhere else to go.
“You can come out now,” Kacey suddenly declares. Startled, for a moment I think she’s talking to me, so I quickly sink to my knees, hiding behind a fairly large bush. But then, another man steps out from behind a tree. He’s a large man, with broad shoulders and thick muscles. He must be around 6”5 at least. His brown eyes scope the area, past me and back onto her. Oddly, he reminds me of Arden and Arlo. The colour of his hair and eyes is very similar.
“I don’t like you ordering me around, Kacey.” He tells her, stepping closer to her. She doesn’t react at all, remaining neutral.
“And I don’t like having meetings in the woods when it’s dark but here we are,” She retorts, a hint of anger in her tone. “So, let's get on with it.”
He nods his head, reluctantly, not at all pleased with the situation.
“Your nephew is struggling to find the perpetrators of the attacks.” She informs him, casually. I furrow my eyebrows together, confused by her sentence. Attacks? What attacks? And who is his nephew? “Every possible answer ends up leading to nothing. Arden hasn’t even told Arlo yet.”
My eyebrows shoot up in surprise. This man is Arlo’s uncle? That explains why I recognized him. Yet, it still doesn’t answer any of my more pressing questions. I want to know what attacks have been happening and why Arden must deal with them. He’s a school kid! Not a commander!
“I’m sure Arden doesn’t want to make it a big thing,” The uncle slices in. “I trust Arden. He must have a plan.”
Kacey doesn’t have the same confidence as him. “Arden is getting nowhere! People at school are getting antsy.”
He simply rolls his eyes and mutters something like ’silly overreacting kids’ under his breath.
“Arden thinks Arlo is hiding something—which he is—but he believes Arlo can’t help when we all know he can. He has more motivation now to help out as much as he can.” Kacey continues, cryptically.
The uncle—whose name I don’t know—cocks his head to the side and throws Kacey a questioning look. Even my eyes dance with confusion.
Kacey steps forward and glances around the area. She looks as if she’s going to reveal something top-secret. Unconsciously, I lean forward, wanting to know what she has to say.
“He’s found his mate,” She whispers, so quietly, I nearly didn’t hear it.
His eyes widen with shock and his mouth opens with disbelief. “Are you sure?”
She nods her head with certainty. “He won’t tell anyone, but I can tell. She’s hu—”
Kacey stops herself at the sound of a stick cracking. My eyes snap to the floor and land on my feet which just so happen to be on top of a broken stick. Mentally cursing myself, I force myself to stay as quiet as I can. Kacey searches the area, her eyes tracing over me. Since she doesn’t double-check the area, I’m in, I safely assume she didn’t notice me.
“I don’t think we are alone.” She announces. “I’m going to go. I’ll tell you the rest of the details later.”
He nods his head in agreement and dashes off into the forest.
Now that he’s gone, I can think about what the hell just happened. What is a mate? Why are there attacks? Why do Arlo and Arden have to stop it? And what are Kacey and that man doing here, in the woods? So many questions pour through my head, all of them leaving me clueless and frustrated. It makes me want to tug my hair out.
“I know you’re there, Lily,” Kacey suddenly calls out into thin air, jolting me from my thoughts. “You can come out, I don’t bite.” Her words give me chills for some reason. It’s as if there is a double meaning to it.
Sighing in defeat, I stand up. My knees click loudly, alerting her of my whereabouts. She smiles at me and heads over to me.
“I know you heard everything,” She states, shushing me when I try to deny it. “I need you to not tell anyone about this.”
“I don’t even know what this is,” I claim, waving my arms around. “I’m completely confused—I have so many questions. Who was that man? Why are you talking to him? What attacks are happening? Why are Arden and—”
She raises a hand in front of me, cutting me off silently. “I will only answer certain questions as long as you promise not to tell anyone about this.”
“Deal,” I say instantly, only to regret it later.
The corners of her lips quirk upwards slightly. “You really are a curious thing.”
Rolling my shoulders, I brush off her patronizing tone. I throw her a look screaming ‘hurry up'.
“I meet that man once a week. I’m an informant for him.” She answers my earlier question. “He likes to know things, to make sure things are running smoothly. Nobody knows anything about it and they never will.”
“And what about the attacks?” I pry, desperately wanting to know more about them and their connection to Arlo.
She gazes into my eyes for a moment, seeing the determination swirling in my eyes. “I can’t tell you anything about that. Top-secret.”
Her answer makes me want to scream.
“You have got to be kidding me,” I say, flatly. “You have to tell me more than that otherwise I—I’ll tell Arden what you are doing.”
Alarm flashes in her brown eyes, followed by fury.
“You will not speak a word of this to anymore, especially Arlo.” She commands. Everything about her frightens me, from her chilling gaze to her ticked jaw and bawled up fists. A powerful aura surrounds her, enclosing both of us. I feel like I’m suddenly being choked by its power.
It's only when I nod my head weakly that she steps back. Her anger simmers down, leaving me gasping.
“What—what was that?” I ask her, scared. I have never seen anything so terrifying before.
She sighs in resignation and drags a hand through her black hair. “That was nothing. I’m sorry. I just get mad when things don’t go my way.”
So, do I but not like that. That was something else.
“You scared me,” I comment, wanting her to know. She snaps her eyes to me, allowing me to see the guilt in her eyes.
“I’m sorry, I really am. I can’t control my anger sometimes,” She explains, sounding genuinely apologetic about the incident. She then lifts her eyes up to the now pitch-black sky and smirks. “I think we should head back. We don’t want the bad things crawling around to eat you up.”
I give her a funny look, letting her walk a few steps in front of me.
As we begin walking, I push all the memories and thoughts I have to the back of my mind. I’ll worry about all of that later.
“I’m sorry for demanding things. You don’t have to tell me everything. I’m just pissed that no one will tell me anything. I know you’re all hiding something. Instead of finding answers, I keep ending up with more questions.” I tell her, granting her an explanation for my behaviour. She glances at me through her peripheral vision and nods her head with understanding.
“I get it, I do. But you won’t be in the dark for long. Soon, things will be revealed. You just…you aren’t ready yet.”
Her reply reassures me for now. As long as I get answers, I will be happy. I don’t want to make people feel forced but at the same time, I don’t want to be left in the dark.
But when I look back at our conversation later, I realize she also said something else in her reply. Something I didn’t pick up on.
It went something like: ’And he isn’t ready for you to know either.’
So I know I said I would update this on Friday but I can't resist this book! Once I started writing this chapter, I couldn't stop. And so here you are!
What do you think? What do you think of Amber?
My next update will be on Monday or Tuesday now...not entirely sure yet.