“Astrid? Astrid!” a familiar voice shouted, accompanied by some kind of loud rattling noise.
She looked around, but there were only trees surrounding her. Huge, tall trees with leaves that completely blocked out all the sunlight. Or was it night time? She had been walking for so long she had completely lost track of time. Her feet were so sore they were starting to go numb, but she had to keep going. It wasn’t safe here. She couldn’t see them, but she knew. The red eyes were watching.
All of a sudden, sharp, icy pain shook her to her core and she was jolted awake, shrieking as her eyes flew straight to the triumphant expression on the beautifully made-up face hovering above her.
“Bec, what the hell?” she groaned as she looked down to find her pyjamas and bed soaked with water. She rubbed the sleep out of her eyes and glared at her best friend who was carefully putting down the large mixing bowl on her bedside table.
“Don’t ‘what the hell’ me, sleeping beauty. Do you know what time it is? We leave in an hour! I know you love your sleep, but it’s the middle of the day already! Get your ass up and start getting ready - just be grateful I didn’t pour it on your hair!”
Astrid scowled as she was dragged her out of bed and pushed into the shower after making Rebecca promise to change her sheets. She sighed with relief as the hot water warmed up her freezing body, silently thanking her friend for not pouring the water on her hair; she had just washed it last night and sleeping actually gave it some extra volume and oomph.
“You know I don’t need a whole hour, right?” she asked as she walked back to her room with a towel around her, watching Rebecca apply some last minute touches to her make-up. She didn’t get a response, but she certainly didn’t miss the exaggerated eye roll in the vanity mirror.
Shaking her head, she slipped on an oversized T-shirt and trackpants, joining her friend at the vanity, who instantly launched into the newest gossip from the office while she half-listened and responded with “mhm”s and “wow”s as she concentrated on applying her make-up.
She and Rebecca had been inseparable best friends since they met at university six years ago, and had stayed best friends despite working completely different jobs and leading completely different lives.
She worked as a casual day-care assistant, looking after children while their parents were at work, picking up shifts at a local retail store on her off days. She wasn’t living paycheck to paycheck, but money was a little tight.
On the other hand, Rebecca worked in the financial department for Midnight Elite, a high-profile combat training organisation. Their headquarters and training grounds were about an hour and a half drive up the coast, spread out around an entire peninsula, but they had an office building for logistics in the city, which was where Rebecca worked. Astrid didn’t really know exactly what Rebecca’s job was (all she could remember was that it had something to do with tax), but it paid well and allowed her friend to live a very comfortable, cushy life.
That’s also where Rebecca met Georgia, the girl whose wedding ceremony they would be leaving for soon, with Astrid as Rebecca’s plus one. Georgia was a trainer at the headquarters and had popped into the city with a financial issue that Rebecca ended up helping with, and the two became pretty good work friends, going out for lunch every time Georgia had time to come into the city.
Of course, Rebecca would tell Astrid all the details every time they met up, to the point where Georgia’s crazy story was imprinted in her head.
Georgia was supposed to get married to her previous fiance who was the love of her life, but they were in a horrible car crash where he tragically died, leaving her in a coma. The doctors said there was no chance of recovery but she somehow miraculously survived against all odds, met Damien six months later and they fell head over heels for each other. Not long after that, they got engaged, moved in together, and were due to get married this afternoon.
Astrid loved a juicy story, but a story is how she preferred it to be - she liked her own life to be peaceful and free of drama, and was happy to live vicariously through all the stories from work Rebecca would tell her.
Astrid squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the setting spray gently mist her face and furiously fanned her face with her hands to make it dry faster.
“All done!” Astrid sat back to look at her reflection, admiring how even her eyeliner was and the way the eyeshadow brought out the warmth in her brown eyes. Compared to Rebecca, who was in full glam to match the dress she was putting on now, Astrid had on a much more subtle look that would go well with the playsuit she had chosen.
“Damn girl, you lookin’ fine!” Astrid lowered her voice and whistled as she looked her best friend up and down, brows raised in the same way she had seen many men look at Rebecca whenever they were out together.
Rebecca laughed, slapping Astrid’s arm lightly before shooing her towards the closet. Astrid giggled with her friend as she slipped into her playsuit, but she knew that Rebecca knew exactly how good she looked.
Rebecca’s forest green eyes and sharp features were framed by sleek, black, shoulder-length hair that only served to make her eyes pop even more. Not to mention, her love and dedication to running meant that her body was lithe yet athletic. She had on a deep red, body-hugging dress that came down to her knees and accentuated her long legs. A bit on the sexy side for the afternoon ceremony, but come nighttime, that girl would be on fire, and no moth would be able to resist her flame.
Astrid hooked her arm through Rebecca’s, both of them making last-minute adjustments in front of the full-length mirror propped up against the door.
Her own dark brown hair fell in waves down to her lower back, tickling her slightly on the areas that her backless emerald green playsuit didn’t cover. The thin straps also showed off the birthmark on her left shoulder which resembled a cluster of random freckles. She was curvier than her friend and it was very easy for her body to fluctuate, but regular swimming sessions kept her toned and healthy.
While Rebecca was a shining jewel, Astrid was more of a dark horse.
Unassuming on first glance, but if she wanted to, she could ensnare you in her web without you even knowing how you got there. Not that she ever used her charms much after their wild days at university - while Rebecca was actively trying to find someone to settle down with, she was content to live life one step at a time and see what comes her way. Her parents weren’t too excited about her being happily single, but they respected her choice.
She took a deep breath to calm the butterflies that suddenly blossomed in her stomach.
Being around a massive group of people she didn’t know wasn’t her ideal situation, and she was glad to have her best friend by her side.
A/N: Hi and welcome! I've had this story in my head for a while now, and have finally gotten around to writing it out. I really hope you enjoyed the first chapter, and let me know your thoughts - any and all constructive comments are welcome!