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“You were attacked by a wolf?” Dalia screeched, staring at me with wide eyes.
We were all sat around a picnic bench, earlier the next morning. Ellie demanded to know what had happened on my date with Jamie. In fact, they were all curious. I proceeded to tell them the basics, leaving out my feelings about it. When I got around to the wolf, they all held their breath.
I didn’t tell them about what I said to Jamie. I was still feeling a tremendous amount of guilt.
Georgia drove me to school today earlier than usual, apparently unaware of what happened last night, just so the cheerleaders could question me before school started. They wanted the nitty-gritty details before word spread around school.
“We were nearly attacked,” I corrected, quietly. “We managed to escape before we were mauled.”
“I can’t believe that happened to you,” Ellie murmured, shaking her head in disbelief. Her green eyes were large with worry.
“Since when did we have wolves here?” Sammy questioned, thinking aloud.
Ellie pursed her lips together and looked away. Georgia remained silent throughout, her mind elsewhere. I wondered if she was thinking about Matt.
“If there are wolves around this area, I’m going to start bringing a taser with me.” Dalia declared, dramatically. “There is no way I’m leaving this earth by being ravaged by a bloody wolf.”
The girls snorted.
“Oh look, Jamie’s over there, staring at us.” They all whipped their heads in his direction whilst I refused to even glance at him. My heartfelt so heavy with guilt. I had hurt him.
Georgia turned back to me, her hazel eyes burning with unasked questions. She wasn’t stupid—she knew the both of us very well. Georgia could tell something was wrong. She would find out eventually.
Would she view me differently? Would she hate me for hurting her cousin?
We had always stuck by each other, through thick and thin. What if this tipped her over the edge?
“He can’t keep his eyes off you, Celeste!” Sammy announced, giddily. I wanted to groan and bury my face in my hands.
I wanted to make them stop talking about him.
Rising to my feet, I sent them a wobbly smiled and marched off into school, avoiding the car park.
Inside, I spotted Lazarus, leaning against my locker casually. His eyes locked onto mine as soon as I turned the corner. He sniffed the air and stilled in his spot for a moment, frowning. Confused, I wondered if I had forgotten to apply deodorant or something this morning. Did I smell so bad he could smell it from over there?
My heart skipped a beat at the sight of him. I couldn’t see Raegan around anywhere, which was nice.
“Hi,” I smiled, tucking a strand of loose hair behind my ear shyly.
Lazarus straightened his back and offered me a quirk of the lips. There wasn’t any malice in his eyes, he didn’t look mad anymore.
“Celeste,” He nodded in acknowledgment. “Are we still on for a piano lesson later?”
I completely forgot about that. I had been so caught up in my guilt and fear that I forgot about what I agreed to.
“Um…yeah sure,” I stammered, clearing my throat awkwardly. He opened his mouth and leaned closer to me, his fingers twitching by his side. It was as if he wanted to touch me and tell me something.
He smiled for the first time. His smile took my breath away—I was enchanted. He was so beautiful it hurt.
“Meet me at lunch then,” He informed me, his eyes so bright.
He spun around on the balls of his feet and sauntered away, attracting the attention of many people as he passed them. He had this aura around him that demanded attention. He was somebody you couldn’t look away from.
In homeroom, Jamie didn’t look at me. I didn’t know whether I was grateful for it or not.
Georgia bounced her hazel eyes between us, trying to work out what was going on. My next few lessons dragged on. I had Chemistry with Dexter and Marianne who both tried to engage me in their conversation. I grinned when they grinned and laughed when they did, but I wasn’t entirely present.
“Hey,” Marianne called softly, pulling me out of my thoughts. “You okay?”
There was nothing fake in her eyes. She was genuinely worried about me.
“Have you ever seen a wolf before?” I didn’t know why I asked her that. It was so random and unusual.
She froze, staring at me in shock. “W—What?”
There was something odd about how she was acting. Marianne was a confident girl; she wasn’t somebody who got nervous easily. She hid it well, but I could see she was anxious about this topic. She bit her lower pink lip and averted her eyes to anywhere but me.
“I mean—” I laughed uncomfortably, “Are wolves always threatening?”
Marianne continued to chew on her bottom lip. “It depends, I guess. I don’t really know a lot about wolves.”
She was lying. I just knew it. Her behavior wasn’t believable.
“Right,” I replied, forcing myself to sound convincing.
She tilted her head to the side, staring at me with those beautiful blue eyes. “Why do you want to know?”
I felt compelled to tell her the truth. But would she feed it to Lazarus? He knew about the date, but he didn’t know about how it went.
My feelings were all over the place. It felt silly to keep this from him. With Georgia it made sense but with Lazarus, a man I barely knew who had no connection with Georgia, it was just silly. I just knew Lazarus wouldn’t tell anyone if I didn’t want him to.
I was all over the place.
Maybe I wanted Lazarus to feel jealous? I wanted him to feel the same way I’m feeling. It was beyond petty but true, nonetheless.
“Stowe has never had any wolves before and now, all of a sudden, I’ve seen two in the past few weeks,” I told her; my confusion apparent. I had first seen one the night I saw Lazarus for the first time, at Georgia’s house. The second time I saw one was yesterday when it tried to kill me and Jamie.
Was there a reason? Or was I reading too much into this?
She spluttered, choking on her own spit. Dexter heard what I said and gave me his full attention now.
“What did you say?” She demanded, sharing a look with Dexter.
I swallowed, “I’ve seen two wolves in the past few weeks. Ever since you guys arrived…”
They both exchanged another look, but I wasn’t concentrated on that. I was mulling over what I had just said. It was true as well. The first time I saw a wolf was the day they arrived.
It couldn’t be connected, not really. We were talking about wild wolves. I really was reading too much into this.
“When did you see the second wolf?” Dexter asked, his tone softer than Marianne’s.
“Last night,” I whispered, an involuntary shiver running down my spine at the reminder.
Marianne cursed under her breath and leaped to her feet. A few people turned to her, furrowing their eyebrows. Me included. She paid no attention to any of them and rushed out of the classroom before the teacher could even utter a word.
Dexter shot me an apologetic look as if he knew why she had done that. They were all hiding something. I was certain.
“What was that about?” I questioned, cocking my head to the side.
Dexter exhaled and rubbed the back of his neck. “She needed the bathroom.”
I arched an eyebrow, showing him, I didn’t believe him.
“She needed it desperately,” He added, forcing a laugh.
“What are you hiding, Dexter?” I asked, bluntly. I had never been so direct with somebody I barely knew before.
Dexter stopped laughing and pinched his desirable lips together. “I’m not hiding anything, I promise.”
“I don’t believe you.”
God, where was I coming from? What had gotten into me? I was normally so shy.
“You’re just like him,” Dexter muttered, so quiet I barely heard it over the chatter in the classroom.
“What did you say?”
He flickered his shocked gaze to me and gulped audibly. “I asked if you were looking forward to Friday,” He lied.
I let it slide, for now, knowing he wouldn’t budge.
“I guess…” I drawled out, doodling in my empty notebook. We were supposed to be copying down facts from the textbook. Dexter and Marianne distracted me.
“You don’t seem that excited,” He stated.
I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know…it’s nice of you to invite me but I’m curious as to why.”
“You’re our friend, of course, we would invite you.” He answered, confidently. Did Lazarus view me as a friend too?
“You barely know me though,” I pointed out.
“So? We enjoy your company. We all trust you. Just because we haven’t known each other for long, doesn’t mean we can’t be close friends. I bet your oldest friends don’t know everything about you.” He explained, making a very true point. Not even Georgia knew everything about me. She didn’t know how much the attacks affected me.
“You’re a cool person, Dexter,” I complimented, truthfully.
Dexter placed a hand to his heart and pretended to wipe away a fake tear. “That’s the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
I giggled at his theatrics.
“Not even your mother?”
Dexter scoffed, “My mother is too busy attending my other siblings.”
“How many siblings do you have?” I asked, curiously.
“Bloody hell,” I mumbled, taken aback.
“Once you start you can’t stop,” He recited, “At least, that’s what she said.”
“Sometimes I wish I had a brother or sister,” I announced, sadly.
“You’re an only child?”
I nodded my head, staring at my desk in melancholy. “My dad left when I was really little, and my mother has been so busy ever since. Mom only wanted one child.”
“They’re not that great anyway. They always steal your stuff and embarrass you. They can be so annoying,” Dexter offered and even though he tried not to, there was a ghost smile on his lips. They might drive him mad, but he loved them. There was no doubt about that.
“Are you the oldest?” I queried.
“Nope, I’m the second oldest. My older brother works for Layton,” He revealed.
So, their families really were close together.
“Where are you from originally?” I had no idea where they came from. All I knew was that they were visiting Lazarus’s sister.
“Oh wow,” I gasped in awe,” I’ve always wanted to go there.”
Mom hated traveling. We rarely got to go out of the state on holiday. When we did, we had to go by car. Canada always felt so appealing to me. It was on my dream list.
“You’d love it,” He commented, honestly.
“You came,” Lazarus’s surprised voice echoed through the empty music room. He was sat on the bench next to the piano, a music sheet placed on the stand. There was a grim expression in his eyes.
“I did,” I replied and made my way over to him. “Are we still learning All Of Me?”
I hoped he would say yes. I enjoyed learning this one.
“Yes, do you remember what I taught you last time?”
I nodded my head and inhaled shakily. Placing both hands on the keys, I wracked my brain, trying to remember what I had learned.
When I pressed down on the right keys, it didn’t sound right. I played at the wrong speed, my fingers slipping every once in a while, on the wrong keys.
I winced when I did it again and let out a loose breath.
Gently, Lazarus placed his hand over mine, setting my hand on fire. The sparks shot up my body, speeding up my heart.
“Here, like this,” He said in his velvety voice, guiding my hand. He pressed his fingers over mine, playing along with me. This time, the start of the song sounded so much better.
When we finished the first bit of the song, I smiled in delight.
“That was so much better,” I breathed, peering up at him in awe and happiness. His green eyes glistened with adoration—at least, that was what I thought it was.
“You did amazing, Celeste,” He grinned.
“I wouldn’t say amazing,” I muttered, bashfully.
“By the time I’m finished with you, you could be a professional pianist.” He boasted, jokingly.
A chuckle escaped my lips. We both knew that would probably not happen.
“Can I go again?”
He was more than happy to let me play again. He guided me through the song a couple more times. When we only had five minutes of lunch left, he ordered me to play without his help.
Sucking in some air, I delicately placed my fingers on the keys and started playing the song.
I only made a mistake once.
Lazarus started clapping when I finished, causing my cheeks to redden.
“That was brilliant! You’re a fast learner,” He claimed.
“Thanks, Lazarus,” I said, gratefully. In the corner of my eye, I noticed him shiver when I said his name. Did I affect him too? “I’ll see you later.”
We both parted ways—Lazarus heading back to the piano whilst I left the room. Just as I rounded the corner, I was bombarded by Georgia.
“We need to talk.”
Thank you so much for reading! I hope you enjoyed this chapter! What do you think Georgia is going to say?
My next update will be on Friday. Have a great week!