REALLY

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The Free Fall

T A Y A

The full moon party was a party like no other. They got everything from a live DJ to fireworks, to bonfire at the beach, and even private rooms for... you know.

This was my very first high school party and I was beyond excited. Little did I know, I was about to learn the three most-important rules of partying— and I had to learn them the hard way.

Starting with Rule No.1: never drink anything they put on the drinks bar.

Ryder had warned me not to touch anything, drink anything, take anything, or talk to any guys at the party. But of course I wasn’t taking his advice, because that would practically leave me with nothing to do, while he was off somewhere gallivanting.

Now there was a big bowl of what I thought was fruit punch on the table, I was parched and the drink looked mighty refreshing. So I took down a few huge gulps, only to realize later on, those weren’t just fruit punch.

Fifteen minutes into my first high school party and I already felt like throwing up. Could I be anymore cool?

Meanwhile, Ryder was just chilling in the living room with his guys. Ryder and I had made an agreement: he agreed to loosen up the big-brother leash as long as I remain in the same room as him. He looked over to me and gave me a disapproving look when he noticed the red paper cup in my hand. I didn’t want him to think that I couldn’t handle myself, so I kept my cool, pretending as if the drink had no effect on me.

At this point, Ryder was a bit preoccupied. He and his friends were surrounded by these surfer groupies—consisting of the Taylor Sisters and their clan. The Taylor Sisters are like the Hawaiian version of the Kardashian sisters.

The oldest was Valerie Taylor who was nineteen and currently attending beauty school. People called her the ′manmaker’. You could probably guess why. Next was Vanessa Taylor, the Kim K look-alike. Her and Ryder were in the same grade. Everyone knew she had a major thing for Ryder, except Ryder himself. He was just too oblivious to notice these things.

Then there was Viviane Taylor. Funnily enough, we used to be best friends when we were little. But once we hit high school, she traded me off for cooler friends, as I was too boring for her liking.

The surfer groupies sat around the guys with their tight-tight dresses and high-pitched giggles. Those were the perks of being a hot young surfer in Hawaii. Girls threw themselves at them. They would do anything, and I mean anything in every position, just for a night with someone like Ryder and his friends.

Speaking of Ryder’s friends... my eyes darted around the room to see if Blake was around. Blake was a year younger than Ryder, so he was always in my grade, but we never really got a chance to talk. But who knows, tonight might change all that.

Uh oh— but suddenly I felt something wasn’t right.

That drink was totally not sitting well with me. My hand quickly went to cover my mouth as I dashed out, stumbling around the gigantic house in search of the nearest bathroom.

But here was where I learned Rule No.2: never go into a bathroom without knocking first.

I spotted a bathroom at the corner of the hall, and it wasn’t locked, so I barged right in. Not giving in a care in the world, I threw my head straight over the sink.

“Ughh,” I groaned.

It was the worst feeling ever, feeling like you wanted to hurl but your body wasn’t cooperating. Nothing was coming out. So I made all kinds of ugly noises, hoping that it would get me to puke. But still, nothing.

Maybe it was a false alarm.

“You alright there?” suddenly a voice said from behind me.

I looked up in an instant, and there he was, Blake Harrison, smiling that mega-watt smile.

Granted this bathroom was huge, but how could I not see that he was here all along?

“Ahh!” I gaped in shock.

“Sshh! Don’t scream,”

“What are you doing here?”

“I’m trying to hide from—”

“Blake? Blakey, are you in here?” suddenly we heard a girl’s voice and the doorknob began to rattle.

He quickly put his finger over his mouth, signaling me to not snitch on him.

“Err, no, he’s not here,” I replied back and the doorknob stopped moving.

“Oh,” we heard her mutter and the sound of her heels walking away.

After waiting in silence for a few more seconds, Blake turned to me with a relieved sigh and said, “Thanks for that.”

“Viviane Taylor? Is that who you’re hiding from?” of course I recognized that high-pitched bird-like voice.

“Yeah, I’m sorry but the girl’s kinda... crazy,”

“Ha-ha, yeah,” I agreed. She really could be. One time when we were kids, she bit off the head of my Barbie doll in rage because a boy she liked shared a sandwich with me.

“You’re Taya, right?” he said, his eyes studying my face intently.

He knows my name?

“Yeah. And you’re the Blake Harrison,”

He smirked when I said that.

“I almost didn’t recognize you with the new hair. They look great on you, by the way,”

“Thanks,” I couldn’t stop my lips from curling into a smile. “Those look great on you too,” I was referring to his gorgeous golden hair.

“What, these old thing?” he grinned, raking his hair with his fingers.

Hubba-hubba.

“I can’t believe you know my name,” I meant to say that in my head, but my mouth went and said it first.

“Of course, you’re RJ’s little sister,”

“Cousin... sister,” I corrected him quickly. As if that changed anything.

“Yeah, I’ve seen you around. But we never really talk, do we?” he said, cocking his sexy head to the side.

“No we don’t,”

“That’s a shame. I would have liked talking to you,”

“Yeah?” I bit my lip so he wouldn’t notice I was grinning. “Well why didn’t you?”

“I don’t know if you’ve realized this, but there’s a rule,”

“A what?”

“Every guy in our school knows that if they wanna get close to you, they would need RJ’s permission first,”

“That’s stupid. How the hell was that even a thing?”

That was a rhetorical question. Of course we both knew exactly how it happened, or who made it happened.

“Don’t blame RJ though,” he said quickly, as if he could read my mind. “It’s not his fault that guys around here are so damn thirsty and you’re just so beautiful,”

Wha—hold up, pretty boy say what?

I wished I had recorded that.

“Well I’m sure not all guys are like that,” I said coolly, trying to sound unfazed.

“Well maybe not. But once you’ve been in the game long enough, and seen what RJ and I had seen, you’d lose faith too,”

“So you’re saying that there’s practically no good guys on the island left? And I’m just gonna die sad and alone with my pet penguin?”

“You have a pet penguin?”

“No, but if I was gonna die all alone, I should at least get a cool pet,”

That got him to laugh. Even the way he laughed was gorgeous.

“Well... what about you?” I breathed suddenly.

“What about me?” he said.

“Aren’t you a good guy?”

His ocean blue eyes held his gaze on me, as if he was thinking of something.

“What do you think?” he said with a slight undertone.

“I don’t know,”

“Well, what about you?”

“Me?”

“Are you a good girl?”

Whoa there cowboy... is this what they call flirting?

“I don’t know,” I said, trying to sound cool and not the nervous wreck that I was.

“Should we try and find out?” he spoke, catching me off guard.

A small smile curved up his face, and without warning, he took one step closer towards me. My first instinct was to take a step back, but I decided to hold my ground instead.

He was so close to me now. I could even inhale his delicious scent and it was making my head spin. My chest was pounding. I hoped he didn’t notice I was having trouble breathing.

His hand then reached for my face, his fingertips landed softly on my cheek. My skin was burning at his touch.

“Your lips are so soft,” he commented as his thumb rubbed against the lower part of my lip.

He leaned in closer as his hand tilted my chin up. And the next thing I felt was his warm lips on mine. He tasted like mint and something sweet.

I’m kissing Blake-fucking-Harrison!

His other hand swiftly moved to grip my back, pulling me closer to him. My own hands flew up and held him by his shoulder blades. He was all rock-hard muscles.

“Mmhm,” he murmured, a sign that he liked my touch.

He deepened the kiss and his tongue gently brushed over my lip, asking for permission. I parted my lips slowly and his tongue delved right in. I gasped in response, but somehow it came out in a moaning-like noise.

What was that?

He gripped my body tighter and in one fell swoop, he lifted me up so I was sitting on the sink counter.

“Taya!” Suddenly we heard a familiar voice.

“Shit,” Blake pulled away in an instant.

“T, are you in here?” Yes, that would be Ryder, unmistakably.

He started knocking on the door and the doorknob rattled urgently.

I was so dead.

Judging by the look on his face, Blake probably had the same idea. He was just frozen in shock.

I quickly scanned the room, looking for a way out, and all I could see was this window on my left. Mind you, I was drunk on alcohol and high from Blake Harrison’s lips, I wasn’t thinking straight.

Also, I had a fear of heights. If I had looked down before I jump, I wouldn’t have jumped. So before I could change my mind, I just closed my eyes, leaped forward and out the window, as if I was freaking Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.

This was not my brightest idea.

I was falling head first, down the two-story window. I couldn’t see anything and I was just anticipating hitting the hard ground down below—but no.

Thud!

Instead, I had fallen on something... or someone?

“Ouw!” and it made a noise.

I peeled my eyes open and I found myself laying facedown on top of another person—a guy!

“Oh my...” I was struggling to get up but my hand slipped and my face fell to his face, with my lips right atop his.

There was a split second moment when both of us were just frozen in shock. The word ‘awkward’ would be a gross understatement to describe it.

“Oh god!” I pulled away and quickly rolled to my side.

“Whoa, you could at least take me out to dinner first,” the guy chuckled at my reaction.

“I am so sorry—” I was scrambling to get up, and I managed to do it in the most ungraceful way possible.

Meanwhile, the guy sat up slowly, not even slightly fazed by what just happened. He looked up and I caught a glimpse of his luminous amber eyes. It was such a rare color—I was entranced.

His eyes were warm, with a hint of danger in it. I had never seen eyes like these before. And actually, I had never seen this guy before.

“I’ve heard people in Hawaii are friendly, but I didn’t know they were this friendly,” he stifled a laugh, rubbing his jaw in the process.

“A-are you okay?” I said to him.

“Well I think you broke my lighter,” he pulled out a small metallic thing from the ground. Then he whipped a cigarette out of his denim jacket and stuck it inside his mouth. He flicked the lighter a few times, until finally the sparks turned to a fire and the tip of his cigarette burned.

“Ah nope, false alarm,” he said in a cheerful tone.

Uh-oh!

Suddenly I was feeling nauseous again—and I knew for sure I couldn’t hold it in this time.

“Oh no—” before I could do or say anything else, I had puked my guts out all over the ground.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” he moved away automatically.

It wasn’t the prettiest sight. I was sorry to anyone who had to witness that, my own eyes included.

“You okay there, Blondie?”

“Don’t... call me... that,” I said through labored breaths.

“Taya?” and suddenly I heard Ryder’s voice in the background, it seemed like he was getting closer. “T, where are you?”

I can’t let Ry see me like this!

“I have to go! I’m really sorry,” I covered my mouth and gathered whatever was left of my dignity and made a dash out of that crime scene.

“Wait—”

“Sorry!” I yelled through my hands as I ran.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, brought us to Rule No.3 in partying with Taya Williams: if you ever need to jump off a two-story window, make sure you look down first.


I couldn’t sleep that night. Apart from being excited for the first day back tomorrow, my brain was also busy trying to process everything that had happened.

In the span of twenty-four hours: I had dyed my hair platinum blonde, I found my cousin burning away his college future, I went to my first ever high school party, I got my first kiss from the guy I had been crushing on forever, and I fell out a two-story window to embarrass myself in front of a complete stranger.

I guess it was safe to say that my life was no longer just a blank white page.


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