Approaching Phoenix

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Chapter 3

“Damn it, Blyth!” The girl on the bed yelled as he reached over and pulled the book from her hands. The heavy metal music that filled the room instantly stopped as she tried to rip the book back away from him.

I stood back as he sat down on her bed and started flipping through the pages, “I don’t think that this is on the reading list.”

He stopped her just before she slapped him in the back of the head and handed the book back to her, “What do you want?”

Blyth’s raised his hand directing her sight towards me instead of him, “Kasey this is Ashley. Ashley, Kasey.”

As she stood up her blonde hair fell down around her shoulders, and about three inches of the bottom was dyed black. She had thick black eyeliner, and her lips were a deep red. Not like a cherry color, but more burgundy maybe. After she studied me as well, she turned back to Blyth, “Wouldn’t she fit better with Sophie?”

“Ash, your stuff is on the bed there, and the bathroom is through that door over there.” Blyth noticed that my expression was less than amused at this point. It was apparent that Kasey didn’t want me here. He turned back to her as I found my dad’s suitcase sitting on the other bed, “Kasey, she needs a new look to go with her new life.”

My eyes went from the things in the suitcase to Blyth’s as he held up his hand pausing me from saying something. “New life, new look, new heart. Now Kasey when you are through with her, I don’t want her dad to even know who she is okay? It could be considered extra credit if you want.”

“I’ll do it on one condition,” Kasey put her finger in Blyth’s face, “Stop coming into my room. Go to the door like normal people and knock!”

“But I’m not normal, so why should I?” Blyth started laughing.

“If not, I won’t do what you ask. Besides I’m sure now that there are two of in here it would be less appropriate.” Kasey now turned her finger to the door, “I’m sure Ashley wouldn’t like it when you just decide to pop in whenever.”

“Actually, I’m kind of used to guys doing that. After a few years, you just kind of get used to it, trust me.” I tried to add my opinion, but it wasn’t welcome from Kasey and Blyth just looked at me kind of funny.

“He’s been doing it for the past six months that I’ve been here, and it is getting irritating.” Kasey added.

Blyth put up his hand in defense, “Yes, but this was the only place that I could find Alec.”

“True, but he was at least able to let me know when you were coming.” Kasey pointed out, “Where is he anyway?”

Blyth’s eyes found me again, “Well, since he rudely let me get run over this morning, I left him in the yard to chase her down.”

“Good for you.” Kasey exclaimed as I finished pulling everything out that I needed for a shower. “Now would you please go?”

“Sorry, I can’t.”

“Why not?”

As I started going towards the bathroom I looked over at Blyth, “I promise I won’t kill myself in the shower. You can go.”

“Nope, suicide watch. You are under my supervision for at least the next twenty four hours or longer depending on your mood.” I turned and sulked into the bathroom.

As I shut the door I heard Kasey talking, “Twenty four hours with you, and she will end up killing herself.”

The music began as I started the shower. I couldn’t wait to feel the hot water pouring over me. It would not doubt sooth all the feelings that I had inside. When I started undressing I saw it. A scar close to three inches stretched over my heart. I ran my finger down over it knowing exactly what it was from. Marcus’ blade tore right through me, right through my heart ending my life. I looked at it in the mirror and turned around to try and find the exit wound in my back, but I couldn’t see it.

I opened the door just a tiny bit and without looking out I asked, “Kasey, could you come here for a second?”

She peeked inside the door as I wrapped the towel around my body, “Yeah?”

“There is a scar on my back. Could you tell me where it is?” I felt odd asking her, but there was no one else that I could.

I turned around as she came in and shut the door behind her. Carefully she pulled down the back of my towel, and her finger traced the line, “It is right here. Any further over and it would have been straight over your spine.”

“Thank you,” I turned back towards her, “But he was aiming for my heart. I just wanted to know where it went through.”

“Wow,” Her eyes grew wide as she looked at the scar on my chest, “How did you survive that?”

“I didn’t.” My eyes went back down to the scar trying to figure out how it was there when it never really happened, “I had a vision and he killed me. I guess I brought it back to remind me just how dangerous he is.”

“Who?”

I shook my head, “I’m going to get in the shower. Thank you for showing me though.”

“Blyth could remove that for you, if you wanted it gone.” Kasey reached for the door.

I touched her arm lightly to stop her, “Please don’t. I would rather keep it I think.”

“Alright.” She smiled and walked out leaving me to get in the shower.

My shower was nice, hot and refreshing just like I had hoped. I opened the door from the bathroom and the smell of fresh baked brownies filled me. Suddenly I was aware of how hungry I was. I hadn’t eaten since Friday just before the game. Blyth was lying on my bed reading the book that Kasey was reading, and she was busy it seemed at her desk organizing it.

The music stopped as Blyth tossed the book onto her bed, “I really don’t know how you can read that stuff.”

“It is a good story.” Kasey turned and looked at me, “Feel better?”

“Yeah.”

“Romeo and Juliet were stupid. You can’t just love one person for the rest of your life, and then die for them. They were your age. They didn’t even get to live at all.” Blyth seemed to continue on about the book that she was reading, “Kase, you don’t plan on spending the rest of your life with Alec do you?”

“No, but I think it would be nice to always have someone love you and be there when you need them.” Kasey held up the plate of brownies that I had smelled.

“Ash, what’s your opinion on Romeo and Juliet?” Blyth asked as he sat up allowing me to sit down on the bed as well.

I sat and thought while eating the brownie. I remembered how I loved Michael and I was ready to die to end everything because it was loved that killed us. If he had never loved me or I him, we could have went about of lives without any regrets. But saving him from the pain of loving me was the reason why I had decided to end my life. As I finished off the brownie I felt the blade going through my heart again.

I realized as it stuck me, it wasn’t because of my love for Michael that Marcus killed me. It was because I didn’t love him. Marcus stabbed me through the heart just as I had done to him. Now I had given Michael purpose to end my life as soon as I turned. It was as Marcus said, ‘If you don’t love him, he kills you in every future.’

“Ash? You still with us?” Blyth waved his hand in front of my face bringing me back to reality.

I looked up at Blyth, “Do you think Romeo would have killed Juliet if she didn’t love him?”

“No,” Kasey answered as Blyth continued staring at me as if he knew exactly what Kasey was going to say, “That isn’t love that is obsession.”

“You know what?” I stood up looking between both Kasey and Blyth, “Romeo and Juliet were stupid. Love isn’t for everyone, and I’m so sick and tired of it controlling my life.”

Kasey got a smile on her face and handed me another brownie, “Ready to get started on your makeup?”

“Just a minute.” I walked over to her music collection and devoured the other brownie faster than the first as I put in different music. The fast beat kicked me from the mood that I was in and I turned to Kasey, “Ready.”

“I would have typed you off for a softer sound,” Blyth smiled as he started eating the brownies as well.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover,” I said as I danced over to the chair that Kasey had pulled out for me.

“Whoa!” Suddenly a guy appeared in the room with black baggy jeans and t-shirt with a picture of a band on the front. His hair was just as long as Blyth’s but it was blonde just like Kasey’s. “Who’s started the party without me?”

Kasey danced over to him, “Ash this is Alec. She is the one that started it.”

The music turned up as she left his side and turned me around so that I was no longer facing the mirror, “You’ve always been a red head?”

“Yeah, never changed it.”

“Dark mahogany with some splashes of red would look good. Have you ever had it short?” She started studying my face pulling my hair up and down trying to get an idea of what to do with it.

“No, I like it longer though.”

“One of the best things about being a witch, you can have it short one day, and the next it is long again.” Kasey started working her magic on me.

I sat patiently watching both Blyth and Alec watching Kasey working on changing me. It was nearly half an hour later when Kasey spun the chair around allowing me to finally look at myself. In the mirror I found green eyes staring back at me. Dark brown hair fell down over my shoulders with spirals, and the red splashes that she was talking about were several strips of my hair dyed. She had also added her makeup which was much darker than I would normally use, but it did look good.

“Now, you need to change.” Kasey walked over and opened her closet allowing me to chose, “Guys what do think?”

“She’s definitely not the red head that I saw this morning.” Alec looked me over as I walked to the closet.

After going through her closet I turned and looked at my suitcase, “Do you have any skirts?”

“No, I don’t have the legs.”

“Here,” Blyth looked me over as he stood up handing me a credit card, “Kasey take her to town, and get some new stuff. Whatever she wants.”

“I can’t.” Kasey sat down on the chair, “I’m not strong enough.”

I pushed the card back at him, “I’m not spending your money. I’ll just wear something else.”

“Come on, new life, new look, you have to wear new clothes.” Blyth started, but I walked over to my suitcase and started pulling out different items.

I held up a pair of jeans and tried to think of how I could use them to make a nice short skirt like I was used to wearing in my future. Even though I wasn’t able to use magic I was sure that I could physically make them into something decent. Just as I thought about each cut I would have to make it started by itself. I concentrated on creating my skirt and when I was done I looked around at each of them staring in disbelief. “What?”

I had used my magic sparingly and to my surprise it didn’t leave me drained. It was just like Michael starting me off with something small. It was when I used it excessively or out of anger that it weakened me. I couldn’t help but smile at my small accomplishment.

Blyth grinned, “Looks like you can make your own wardrobe.”

“What are you?” Kasey sat down and leaned against Alec. I watched Alec whisper into her ear before I could even say anything. “What I wouldn’t give for that kind of power.”

“It doesn’t matter though.” I lost all the happiness that I had gathered and fell onto my bed, “It will be gone soon enough.”

Blyth clapped his hands together making everyone glance at him, “So who has the brownies?”

“Sorry man, I ate the last one.” Alec didn’t seem to sorry as he wrapped his arms around Kasey, “She’s the best baker that I know.”

“Ash, are you hungry?” Blyth turned his attention from them to me again.

I stared at the skirt that I had just made, “I’m starving. Mind if I get changed first?”

“Go for it,” He smiled, “I’ll be out in the hallway waiting.”

“Kasey, you wouldn’t mind if I borrowed a shirt would you. I don’t think I have enough in me to do one of them too.” I picked up and headed over to her closet as she nodded. “Thanks.”

I pulled out a simple button down white dress shirt and went to change in the bathroom. After changing I stared at my pitiful sneakers sitting on the floor I began wondering if I would be able to pull my money from home. I shook my head there was no way I would be able to do something like that without draining my energy. I put on my sneakers and walked out into the room tossing my clothes on the bed. Kasey and Alec were both gone from the room.

I stuck my head out the door and found Blyth leaning against the wall waiting, “You can come back in. They seemed to have disappeared.”

“I figure that they might have,” Blyth turned and came back in, “When they get a buzz on they always disappear.”

“A buzz?” I questioned as I walked back into the room and gazed at myself in the mirror. I wasn’t sure how different I would look to everyone else, but I thought I look almost as different as I had the night that Marcus had taken me to Paris.

“We’re not allowed to smoke on school property, but no one said we couldn’t make a nice batch of brownies. You seemed to enjoy them.” Blyth looked me over when I kind of glared at him, “Sneakers don’t work.”

“You got me stoned?” I yelled at him, “Why?”

He inhaled deeply as he stared at the ceiling then his smile found me, “Don’t tell me that you weren’t feeling just the tiniest bit happier and relaxed.”

I sat down on the bed and took off my sneakers. He was right I was happier. Both Michael and Marcus seemed to flee my mind for the last hour that I have been in here. “I wished that I had some boots, but all I have is my sneakers.”

Blyth sat down beside me and put his arm around my shoulders. I tried not to but my body instinctively leaned against him, “We’ll get you some boots. I can’t take you out tonight with you looking hot and stuck in sneakers that don’t match.”

“I have money at home, but I don’t want to waste my energy getting it. I feel so useless like this.” I knew that I was no longer happy from the brownies it seemed.

“How much?”

“How much what?”

Blyth lifted my chin up, “How much money do you have at home?”

“About a thousand dollars.” I wasn’t sure how much I had right now, but I knew that I didn’t have much more than that.

He kept his arm around me and the swirls started again. Before I knew it we were sitting in a shoe store. “You can pay me back if you wish.”

“Blyth.” I looked at him sadly. I didn’t want him to do this for me.

“Shh. Now go find your boots. I’m starting to get really hungry.” He lifted me up and pushed me off into a row of shoes leaving me no choice but to pick out a pair of boots.

Walking around in my socks left me feeling quite odd, but it also pushed me to find a pair of boots faster. I grabbed the first pair that I had seen and tried them on. I walked over to Blyth still sitting in the back waiting for me, “Better?”

He nodded and then stood up. “Better than sneakers.”

We walked over to the counter and went I started to kneel down to take off the boots Blyth’s arms were under me lifting me. My hands latched a hold of his shirt as he positioned me so that my feet were on the counter. The man behind the counter started laughing, “Do you plan on buying just the boots, because I can’t help if you want her too.”

“I’d take her, but it seems that she is still too young yet.” Blyth laughed right along with him.

I covered my face from near embarrassment. It seemed that he was having fun so I might as well just let him enjoy himself.

“All the girls are too young for you Blyth.” The guy rang up my boots, “So is she a new student?”

“Yeah, I am.” I finally brought my hands from my face as Blyth put me back down on the floor.

The man behind the counter stretched out his hand, “I’m Rob.”

“Ashley.”

After shaking my hand the guy looked at Blyth, “Mirena called and told me that you were at it again.”

I grinned watching Blyth scrunch his face up, “Yeah, guess I was. You want to hit me now or later?”

Blyth backed away from the counter and stretched out his arms as the guy started rubbing his hands together. My eyes grew wider as I backed away and saw Blyth flying out the store windows. I was completely frozen until I heard Blyth laughing from outside. I looked at the guy as he laughed as well, “I got you good that time.”

As Blyth stood up and stepped back in through the window that he just went through he looked straight at me, “You just needed boots didn’t you?”

After he got back into the store the windows began fixing themselves. Blyth and the guy started talking again as though it never happened, but I just kind of stood there staring at them. The thought of all of these people were just like me blew me away. Never once had I really met anyone other than Michael and Marcus that had powers.

“Ash, you ready?” I nodded to Blyth and we started out of the store. “Sorry about that.”

“Is everyone here, you know?” I still couldn’t wrap my mind around the thought of it.

Blyth grabbed my arm as soon as we were out on the street, and I waited to see him take me somewhere else. Instead he pulled me around the corner of the building. “Yeah, pretty much.”

“Isn’t that dangerous?”

“Well, we are quiet about it when people come into town, but that is very rare.” Blyth pulled something out of his pocket and when I saw him lighting it up I knew exactly what it was. “There are no big attractions here.”

I wrapped my arms around my body from the chill of the air coming in through my shirt. “Could we go back to the school so that I could get me jacket?”

Blyth inhaled deeply and blew everything right into my face, “Get it yourself.”

I coughed as the fumes filled my lungs, “I can’t.”

Again he blew more into my face, “Yes, you can.”

“Stop it!” I pushed him away from me, “I just want my jacket.”

When I pulled my hand away my jacket was there in my grasp. I looked it over and then at Blyth with the same huge grin that he had when I had made my skirt. I put it on, “Did you?”

“You did that yourself.” Blyth tossed what was left in his hand on the ground and stomped it out. He started back out onto the street as he continued talking, “Lesson number one, weed numbs your senses so you don’t think so hard about what you want, you just do it. I find it extremely useful when training, as you can see. I wouldn’t however use it outside of the school because it might cause more attention to yourself than you wish. But now that you know you should be able to control it a little better. I know they say that it is the gateway drug and all that, but any witch who tries other drugs are going to find that they have other reactions and none of them are good.”

“And here I thought I did that all myself.” I was a little disappointed knowing that I didn’t control my power like I had thought.

Blyth nudged me with his elbow. “But you did.”

“No, it was you and your drugs.” I shoved him back and started laughing as he was tossed nearly five feet from me. “I’m sorry.”

“Like I said, it isn’t a good idea to use outside of school.” Blyth came back over to me and threw his arm over my shoulders, “I’ve already been run over and thrown out of the shoe store I would appreciated it if you used as little force as you could behind your nudging if that is possible.”

I bit my lip trying not to laugh remembering when Michael had first saved me from Marcus, “You’re just lucky I haven’t broken anything.”

“I’m sure then you know you fix whatever you break, right.”

“Yeah,” I looked up from the sidewalk to him again and found that he was still smiling, “Are you always this happy? Even when I knocked you over this morning, or almost had your head taken off, or thrown out of that store you’ve never once stopped smiling.”

“Why do you think my parents named me Blyth? Blithe, carefree, merry, amiable everything that I am.” The smile that I had always seen actually seemed to drift away as he ran his fingers through his hair, “There was a time, a long time ago when I wasn’t like this, but I got over it swearing that I would never let anything get under my skin like that again. So far so good.”

“A girl?” It was the only thing that I would assume to make him unhappy. A broken heart would be the best guess.

The smile came back and he pulled me tight against his chest, “Does it look like I have a problem with girls?”

“No, it was just a guess. So what happened?”

“What were your words, it’s complicated.” He chuckled lightly as he pulled me into a diner. “After a while I got over it and continued living my life as happy as I could, just like I think you should.”

“Sorry but my problem won’t just go away.” We took a booth and he sat across from me. “Have you ever faced your own death?”

“Kasey told me about your scars. One straight through the heart,” I pulled my jacket together as he pointed to my chest hoping to keep it hidden, “So which one killed you?”

“What?” After I nearly yelled at him I looked around to find the waitress staring at me oddly.

“Which one was it finally ended your life?”

I held my breath as my body slightly trembled from his question. Unable to look at his smiling face I stared out the window trying to search for the answer that he wanted. I wasn’t ready to tell him my story, but it seemed that he might have known more than I would’ve wanted him to. It was clear from what Marcus had said one of them would always kill me. Did Blyth know Marcus to know his plan to get me to love him or kill me?

“Ash, breathe” Blyth reached across the table and touched my hand which I held over my heart, “I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“Do you know them?” I choked on the words as I spoke to the window and not to Blyth.

“Know them?” The confusion in his voice finally brought my eyes to him, “I was just wondering if it was love or the knife. I fear this is an interesting story though. Two men and one knife through your heart so who was the one that killed you?”

“Does it matter?” I said as I let my head fall against the table. I was a bit relieved knowing that he was still clueless, but I had given him more of a reason to want to know.

“Brownies good, smoke bad, paranoia check.” I refused to look up as he continued talking, “Hey, we’ll take two Beth. So have you ever got drunk before?”

I lifted my head only enough to shake my head, “I’m not old enough to drink.”

“Two years, I remember now. That made you what almost nineteen,” I heard something tap lightly against the table and turned my head slightly to see what it was, “Well, today you made it to your twenty first. Happy birthday.”

I pulled the card from his hand and examined it. It was my driver’s license except he had changed my birth date. “How did you get this?”

“It was in your file. I figured you might want it. Wait,” Before my eyes the picture changed to reveal my new look that Kasey had given me, “Now tonight you can party just as hard as the rest of us.”

I slid it back across the table, “I don’t drink, and I don’t want this.”

“Come on,” Blyth tilted his head trying to let his eyes into me just as Michael had the one time. I closed my eyes and put my head back on the table, “Look Ash, you only get to live once, well, in your case maybe twice, but technically you didn’t live at all.”

“I got to see Paris, I lived in the city like I always wished, and I loved more than I would have ever dreamed then I died. What more could I ask for?” My stomach started churning and I fought the urge from running to the bathroom.

Blyth’s head found its way onto the table and his eyes stared into mine, “A life without care or suffering. Actually just a life in general. I want you to forget the future and just live for right now.”

“I don’t feel good.”

Blyth’s eyes disappeared from my sight, but I could still hear his voice, “Hey, could I get something for her to eat?”

“No,” I lifted my head off the table and reached out for Blyth, “I don’t want to eat.”

“Trust me.” In his hand he was holding a plate with a piece of pie, “Just try a bite, it will make you feel better.”

I shook my head and he sat down the plate. Without warning Blyth took my face in his hands and I was staring directly into his bright blue eyes and was lost. Whatever was making my stomach churn and ache let him in my mind quite easily now that I couldn’t move my head to get away from it. “Eat.”

My fingers trembled as I lifted the fork and stabbed the piece of apple pie. My stomach screamed for me to put it down, but I forced it into my mouth. Each bite that I had eaten started going down easier until the whole thing was gone. When I sat down the fork I was glad to see that my trembling had disappeared as well as the pain inside my stomach. I looked up at Blyth who watched me eat intently, “Thank you.”

“You just have to trust me, Ash. I know I have odd methods, but I wouldn’t be me without them.” Blyth continued talking but I didn’t listen. I stared out the window at the small town surrounding us. Everyone looked so normal walking around. It was almost just like the town that I had lived in all my life maybe a little smaller and everyone here were witches and warlocks.

Blyth kept talking even after our hot turkey sandwiches arrived. I watched carefully as he pulled the hair band out and demonstrated the differences between a witch’s powers before they turn, and the effects of drugs. I never did honestly listen too closely. I watched the excitement in his face and the smile that never disappeared. His straight black hair flowing down around his cheeks swayed with him and caused his eyes to stare more directly at me it seemed.

His eyes. What I would give to see his eyes inside my mind again. Perfect emeralds staring into my soul is the only thing I could think of as I looked over Blyth. Slowly my eyelids fell and I tried to call Michael. Just as I had hoped I found his eyes there. As his brow rose slightly I remember that Kasey had changed my eyes to green. I fought inside myself trying to change my eyes back to brown so that he would know who I was. It must have worked when I heard him saying my name.

I bit my lip and fought back the tears of seeing him again, “I need you, Michael.”

“Where are you?” My heart jumped to my throat knowing that he heard me.

I tried to remember what he called this place, but I could only think of Institute of New England. “Some school for witches.”

Michael’s eyes faded away and Blyth’s voice took over, “Ashley, would you stop?”


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