Watered Down

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Chapter Sixteen

Spending a few hours with Tally and Theon had been fun.

Anytime I get to hang around with them I can feel normal again. Even though I do really like the other girls, they are just reminders of what we’re in together, so being able to forget for a while is nice. Tally was a little quieter than usual. She told me that she had had a good day at school, but that it had been a long day.

When she was distracted by some sand crabs Theon came to sit with me to fill me in on his plan. He told me that had already started to line some things up. I was going to ask him about who the people were, but then I decided it was probably better if I didn’t know the answer to that.

They’d stayed with me for a while, and Levi and Cassandra finally came onto the beach with us for the last twenty or so minutes. They loved Tally and she was in heaven being fawned over by all of us. Theon was a little more social with the other girls, and I noticed that he didn’t have any issues with looking them in the eye which made me feel…Not jealous, but weird.

There was a general weirdness between me and Theon now. Something in the air between us. Every time he moved I felt attuned to it, like I should move too. Every time he’d look away I’d get caught up in watching him, studying his profile and wondering where he got his thick scar from.

I had to stop myself, knowing the girls were likely watching me carefully so that they could bombard me with accusations like usual.

Of course, as Theon and Tally left, Levi and Cass pulled me out to the water with them, Grins on their faces already telling me my suspicions of them were correct.

“You’re totally in love with him.” Levi accused, her mouth open wide and Cassandra nodded her head with her.

“Oh my god!” I said. “I’m so not!” I denied the obvious. “We are just friends, and I don’t know how many times I need to remind you both about Asher, but I would never cheat on him, even if we aren’t technically together right now.”

Levi bit her lips but smiled and Cassandra shrugged, flipping her long hair over her small shoulders. “Well, you might not be in love with him, but I totally think he’s in love with you.” She smiled.

I made a face, but Levi agreed. “You’re blind if you don’t see it.” She said. “The way he watches you, and he’s so…I don’t even know how to say it, it’s like he looks at you like you’re the love of his life.” She giggled.

“You’re exaggerating.” I mumbled.

She snorted a laugh. “No, I’m not.” She insisted. “He’s obviously really into you.”

“It’s intense.” Cassandra said. “Just being around y’all it felt like I was intruding on this super special thing that you guys have got going.”

I rolled my eyes at them both. “We. Are. Just. Friends.” I said slowly. “Hardly even that.”

“Whatever.” Levi smiled. “You’ve got some serious chemistry, that’s for sure.”

“You’re both boy obsessed.” I laughed it off. “It’s like neither of you have had a boyfriend before.” I smiled but they both made a face. “Have you not?” I asked surprised.

Levi shrugged. “Kind of hard to find someone to date when you’re in and out of the hospital.” She said and I felt so bad for bringing it up. “Maybe I am just living vicariously through you.” She smiled sadly.

“I’m sorry.” I told her, and reached over to brush her hair behind her ear. “You’ll have boys beating down your door when you get back home.” I told her. “You’re going to get to really live.”

She smiled at me. “I hope so.” She whispered.

“Oh, you will.” I insisted. “I’m sure of it!” I proclaimed. “We’re getting out of here and you’re going to find your own Asher.”

“Maybe I’d rather have a Theon.” She winked.

“Whatever.” I laughed at her devious smile. “You can find a guy with a real life six pack when you get home.” She and Cassandra giggled. “What about you, Cass?” I asked. “You’ve never had a boyfriend?”

She blushed, even in the darkness. “I mean, I’ve had boyfriends, but I’ve never…” She shrugged. “I’ve not ever been like in love with anyone, but…”

“But what?” Levi and I both asked her.

She smiled softly, dropping her eyes down to the water, her expression was distant and I recognized that look. “There was this boy back home.”

“I knew it.” I clapped my hands. “Spill.”

She chewed on her lips but she was smiling. “His name was Dean.” She said. “We’d been talking for a while, and I think he really liked me.” She told us. “I think…I think I could have fallen for him.” She blushed again. “If we’d had some more time.”

I looked up at the crescent moon over us, the two of them copying my action. “If Theon’s plan works, you’ll have all the time you need.” They both smiled and then a thought hit me. “Wait a second.” I said dropping my eyes back down to them. “How am I the only pure one if you guys haven’t dated?”

Cassandra blushed again. “It was literally one time, and it lasted all of two minutes.” She groaned. “I was so stupid, we weren’t even dating.” She covered her face with her hands. “It’s so embarrassing to think about.”

I stifled a laugh then looked at Levi who had a shadowed expression. “Wasn’t really by choice.” She said softly.

Cass and I both hugged her quickly. “You don’t have to talk about it.” Cass told her and Levi smiled a little, looking up at the moon. I felt so bad, Levi had had such a hard life. Out of us, she deserved more than anyone to get to go back to a new life.

“We’re going to do this.” I told them both again, feeling determined. “We’ll be out of here in no time.”

The next morning, Theon showed up on the beach early, waving me over.

I walked up the cove and met him by the tree line. “Hey,” I waved. “I wasn’t expecting you.” I smiled. He frowned and I furrowed my brows. “What’s the matter?” I asked.

He huffed and sighed. “Can I talk to you?” He asked and I nodded. He ran his hands both through his long hair roughly and I felt nervous. “I’m just,” He said strained. “Pissed.” He said. “I’m pissed off.”

“Why?” I asked, standing in front of him awkwardly.

“The people on this damn island!” He snapped. “They…”

I took a step towards him, but he gave me a look that told me that was close enough. “What happened?”

He shook his head, balling his hands into fists at his sides. “They are all superstitious little pricks and they rub their close minded opinions off on their little brat children!” He yelled, his face red.

“Tally?” I asked.

He nodded his head. “She’s having such a hard time, and she won’t let it show, but god, I know it bothers her.” He said. “She’s constantly picked on.” He told me. “I just don’t know what to do about it.” He shook his head. “She loves school, loves to learn and play, but she can’t enjoy anything with the little assholes telling stories all the time.”

I just stood there awkwardly, trying to think what I should do or say. “Why do they pick on her though?” I asked. “I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t like Tally.”

“I told you, they’re superstitious.” He said. “They think she’s…” He shook his head. “It doesn’t even matter, but she’s paying for it every day when none of this is her fault.”

“Theon,” I said, trying to pull his attention to me. “I don’t understand if you don’t tell me more than that.”

He shrugged. “I want to, but I can’t.” He said. “It has to do with my stupid parents.” He told me and I was surprised that he would talk about his dead parents that way. “The decisions they made, ruined mine and Tally’s life.” He whispered sadly. “She’ll never have a normal one.” I could see the pain on his face and I instinctively reached for him, hugging him. He leaned into it, laying his head on my shoulder and holding my shoulder blades. I could feel him shutter a little and I tried not to let myself get upset, knowing it would only make it worse. “I’m sorry.” He whispered into my neck and then pulled away, turning his back to me, leaving me cold without his touch.

“Don’t apologize.” I told him, wanting to hold him again, but keeping my hands to myself. “I know how much you love Tally.” I said. “Is there anything I can do?”

“No.” he said, shaking his head. “I’ve got to get to work.” He muttered.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” I asked.

He nodded, turning back to me. “Yeah, I just needed…” He shrugged. “Someone.” He said, looking down into my eyes, and I could feel the intensity that Levi and Cass were talking about.

I nodded my head, knowing exactly what he meant. “Anytime.” I whispered and he reached over, putting his hand on my shoulder.

“Thanks, Serena.” He said softly, his thumb caressing the side of my neck for a second before he realized he was doing it. “We’ll be fine.” He nodded, his usual strong front coming back. “We always get through it.” He told me, dropping his hand back to his side. “The plan is on for tonight, by the way.” He told me.

“Really?” I asked and he nodded.

“Come to my house at…” He started to say a time, but then he smiled. “Sundown.” He smiled.

I grinned at him. “Ok.” I said nervously. “We’ll be there.”

The nervousness between me and the girls was obvious. We hardly spoke as we waited for the sun to make its descent. When the sun finally did hit the water, we quietly walked towards Theon’s house, me in the lead.

“Do you think this will work?” Levi whispered as we weaved through the trees.

“I hope so.” I whispered back.

When we got to Theon’s house, I knocked on the door but no one answered. “Where is he?” Cassandra asked, the disappointment in her voice was apparent. “He said sundown?”

“Yes.” I said, trying to figure out if maybe I misunderstood him, but then I heard voices coming.

“I don’t know about this, man.” I heard an unfamiliar voice say.

I pulled Levi and Cassandra over to the side of the house, peeking around to where the voices were coming from.

“Yeah, kid, what are you trying to pull?” Another man said.

“Just chill.” I heard Theon say. “The girls are just around here.”

“They better be as hot as you said.”

“And young.”

I wanted to gag at the cackling laughter of the men, but I waited patiently for them to come into the small clearing in front of the house. “Girls?” Theon said, a little shake to his voice.

Levi nudged me to come out from the side of the house first, then she and Cass followed right behind, flanking me on both sides as we came nearly face to face with the little group of men.

“Well, hello, baby.” The chubby man in front of me leered and I smiled at him.

His expression dropped and his eyes were glassy.

I looked at the other men and they were all watching us carefully.

There were six of them, all of them greasy and in their mid-forties at least.

I started to back up and two of the men followed me as I could feel my powers fliting through me. Behind the men, Cass and Levi lured their men with them too. I glanced briefly back at Theon and I could see the sweat on his shirt and forehead, but he gave me a thumbs up.

The men followed us silently out to the water, and under.

This time I closed my eyes, not wanting to stare into their blank expressions as they died, but going by what I overheard them talking about, it didn’t sound like these guys were completely innocent at least. I replayed their creepy words and pictured the disgusting sideways glances the men were giving us as I counted to ten and waited for the lulling from my amulet to stop before I popped my eyes open, and they were gone.

The girls and I walked back up onto the beach. “It worked!” Levi smiled.

Theon walked out of the trees, looking over at me with his eyebrows up as he walked towards us. “All good?” He asked and I nodded. “Good.” He sighed. “I’ve noticed those guys hanging around the resort for a while.” He told me and the girls. “They’re always watching the younger girls, so I asked them if they were looking for some fun.” He explained. “They thought they were coming out here to meet up with some of my call girls.” He said shaking his head like it was gross just to say it. “I told him I had a girl who was twelve, so you girls should not in the least feel bad about what you just did.”

I sighed, wishing that I didn’t, but even knowing that, it still was hard to kill someone, but if I’m being honest, if they are all going to be sleaze balls I think I can make this work.

After two more weeks we were already up to forty people.

Theon’s plan was working, and we are going to get out of here.

Every night I stare up to the moon, knowing that soon, I’ll be back in Asher’s arms, all thanks to Theon.

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