Watered Down

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Chapter Seventeen

“Alana wants to see you.”

Those five words were enough to make my stomach turn. I haven’t gone back down there since the time I tried to quit and she refused me. I lingered in the dark water, watching Armela’s tentacles shift color from a dark red to a lighter, almost pink color. “Do you know why?” I asked her.

“I’m just the messenger.” She responded, floating in front of me. I sighed and started to move deeper into the water, heading for the cavern, but she called to me again. “Can I ask you something?” She whispered.

“Sure.” I shrugged, welcoming any distraction from me going to Alana.

“How have you done it?” She asked, sadness in her voice. “You’re so close, and you still have so much time before you run out.”

I felt bad for her, like I usually do, and thought maybe I would rather go to Alana than to talk to Armela. I thought carefully on how to word it. “Well, I made a friend who is helping to bring people to us.” I explained to her. “Maybe you’ve met him, his name is Theon.”

She was quiet, just floating there ominously. “Yeah, I know who he is.”

“Oh, ok.” I said awkwardly. “He’s the one who has been helping us.”

“Nice of him.” She said shortly.

I nodded, feeling extra uncomfortable. “Yeah, well, he and I are friends.” I told her. “So, you said you know him?”

The water seemed to get colder and her light dimmed. “Yeah, I do.” She said simply.

“Can you tell me anything about him?” I asked, raising my eyebrows at her.

“I think you already know that I can’t.” She said. “However, I wouldn’t consider him one of my friends if I were you, and I know I sure don’t.”

I was taken back by her blunt words. “Why not?” I asked her. “How long have you known him?”

“Because you shouldn’t.” She said quickly, already moving away, ignoring the rest of my question.

I watched her go until her light was completely faded into the darkness, then I made my way to the narrow Cave opening that was glowing an ominous green.

I walked in, and found Alana standing over the orb, looking to me with her eyes narrowed. “My beautiful, Serena.” She smiled, the action not touching her eyes. “I’m so happy you’ve come to see me.” I walked over, stopping a few feet away from the other side of the pulsing green orb. “How are things going?”

I pursed my lips and dropped my eyes from her down to the orb. “Good, I guess.” I told her. “We’ve gotten 70 souls now.”

She smiled and I looked up to her, noticing she looked a little different. “That’s fantastic.” She whispered, noticeable wrinkles appearing around her mouth as it spread into a wide grin. “I knew there was something special about you.” She told me, coming to me and brushing my hair over my shoulder with her cold hands. “Very smart of you to trick my little friend Theon into helping you.” She said. “I’ve been trying to convince him of something similar for some time now, but he’s always refused. Yet now, when you need him, he’s more than willing to help.”

I stepped back out from under her touch. “I didn’t trick him into anything.” I insisted and she laughed.

“Of course you didn’t.” She said, still laughing.

“I didn’t.” I snapped at her and her face turned angry.

She reached out, grabbing me by the face. “It better be because you tricked him.” She said lowly into my face. With her so close I could see the wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, and the fine grey hairs beginning to sprout from the roots of her dark wavy hair. “You’ll do good to remember who you are doing all of this for, Serena, because it’s not Theon.” She dropped my face, and I rubbed my sore cheeks as she pointed at the orb. “That’s who you’re doing this all for.” She said as Asher appeared on the orb.

He was sitting at a desk at school. He was leaned back in his seat, chewing on the tip of his pen while he listened to the teacher lecture about the properties of an atom. His sandy blonde hair was combed over to one side handsomely, and he was wearing a nice polo shirt that looked new. Tears stung my eyes as I watched him raise his hand, his shiny watch reflecting the sunlight from the window beside him. “May I be excused, please?” He asked, and actually hearing his voice was like a punch in the gut. I didn’t want to admit it, but I had started to forget what it even sounded like. The teacher said yes, and he stood, striding confidently out of the room, his electric blue eyes turning to the side of the room, and almost seeming to meet with mine before he disappeared.

“That’s the boy you love, right?” Alana asked, toying with my hair and giving me a big eyed, sappy expression. I couldn’t talk yet, so I nodded once. “Good.” She said. “Don’t forget that again.”

I turned my face from her so that she couldn’t see the hurt in my eyes. “I thought you’d be happy that we were almost finished.” I said under my breath.

“Of course I am, but I won’t let you mess things up for me either just because of a boy giving you goo goo eyes.” She snapped. “My circle needs a pure one, remember?”

My stomach dropped, my face burning red as I rolled my eyes. “Theon and I are just friends!” I yelled, everyone’s accusations getting to me. “I don’t have any feelings for him! I love Asher, not Theon, I don’t know why everyone can’t get that through their heads!” I huffed. “Theon’s just a guy who is here and we’re friends, nothing more!”

Alana strutted over to one of the little holes in the walls of the cave and pulled down one of the little vials, quickly drinking the liquid inside of it, and looking instantly younger. She looked passed me and over to the opening of the cave. “I told you that you didn’t have a chance with this one.” She said wickedly and I turned to see Theon standing in the opening, Armela at his side. He was looking down, but he had a hard look on his face, like he was made of stone.

“Theon, I…” I tried to say but he looked up suddenly, giving me a piercing look that made me stop.

“Little Miss Beverly Hills can only love people of her own kind.” Alana laughed. “It’s not her fault really, it’s in her blood.”

“That’s not true!” I yelled. “I didn’t mean that the way it all came out!”

“Oh, of course not, darling.” Alana said condescendingly.

I was so flustered I could hardly manage my words at all. I went to Theon, trying to get him to understand. “I do care about you, Theon, you’re a good friend, and I…” I couldn’t figure out what else to say without contradicting what I’d just told Alana. I do love Asher, but of course I have some feelings for Theon too, I just hadn’t wanted to admit it because it made me feel like I was being unfaithful to Asher. “Theon, come on, you kno-.”

He held up his hand, cutting me off. “It’s fine, princess.” He snapped. “It’s not like I care who you love.” He said meanly. “I’m only helping you so that you can get out of here sooner, maybe you shouldn’t read so much into it.”

He walked passed me, his shoulder knocking into mine as he went.

I looked back at Alana but she just smiled and waved me away.

I walked out, possibly feeling lower than I’ve felt the whole time I’ve been here.

I went up into the cove, sitting on one of the blankets that Theon had given me, and I plugged in the headphones to the mp3 player and pressed play. I’d been doing this a lot lately, listening to his music. It was different than the stuff I was used to, but I’d grown to love it. Instead of the fast paced pop dance music I listened to back home, he had all kinds of music. Soul, rap, rock, indie, everything really. What I loved the most was that all of the songs had messages to them. They weren’t just loud music with the same two lines of lyrics repeated over and over, they were stories with meanings. I wrapped myself up in the music, waiting for hours for Theon to come out of the water, but he never did.

I grew tired of waiting, and went back to the water, trying to creep up to the cave again to see if he was still there. I leaned around the cave opening, peering in carefully, and I saw no Theon, but Alana was humming to herself. I almost gasped, but stopped myself, when I saw her looking into the orb.

Tally’s little face was on it. She was sitting outside of her house, looking up in through the opening of the trees at the crescent moon over her and she had fat tears streaming slowly down her little cheeks.

I rushed back up to the beach. Theon had obviously avoided me when he left Alana. Levi was sitting in the sand, one of the books in her hand. “What are you doing?” She asked me when she saw me.

“What time do you think it is?” I asked her and she shrugged, looking up at the moon.

“Maybe like between ten and midnight?”

I sighed and stomped into the woods, on more than one mission.

First, I am going to make sure that Tally is ok. The fact that it is so late, and she’s outside alone, crying, means that she’s snuck out. I have to make sure that she is safe.

Second, I need to make Theon see that I didn’t mean the things I’d said the way he’d taken them. If that meant I have to admit to him that I actually do have feelings for him, then so be it.

Finally, I need to find out why in the world Alana is watching Tally of all people.

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