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Ten years later
“You know, I think we should go to the party tonight. Jamie is going to be there,” Georgia said, absentmindedly to me. She twirled a strand of her glossy blonde hair around her tanned finger, keeping her light hazel eyes on me.
“I don’t know, George,” I replied, biting my lip nervously. I didn’t want anything to happen again.
Georgia rolled her pretty eyes, “Stop being a loss. I’ll get Jamie to stay with you the whole night. I know you’ll like that.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively, causing my cheeks to turn an abnormal colour.
I sighed, aware that I wasn’t going to get out of this one. Georgia was very persistent when she wanted to be. She didn’t worry about danger. She didn’t have to. There wasn’t a man with a scarred face after her.
“Fine but I’m not drinking any alcohol,” I relented, keeping my voice firm.
My friendship with Georgia was quite different. Different from how it used to be, at least. After the third attack, that landed me in hospital, I became more closed off. I tried to be a good friend to her but having someone after me changed me. I was always looking over my shoulder - always looking for exits in a room.
Georgia, despite her many flaws, was always a good and loyal friend, nonetheless. When we started high school, instead of ditching me for someone cooler, more popular and prettier, she dragged me along. She got me into the school’s cheer team with her and made me hang out with the other popular kids. She stuck by me.
Sure, Georgia could be quite self-centred and egotistical, but she did care about me. She had a heart.
She’s always been there for me.
The bell rang for the first class. I let out a tired sigh and parted ways with Georgia. I would see her late in History.
My first lesson was English.
I sat in my usual seat at the back with the other cheerleaders. Even though I wasn’t too keen on most of them, I wanted to fit in. I wanted to be normal. So, I always acted friendly and approachable. I was friends with most of them.
“Hey, Ellie,” I greeted, smiling slightly. It wasn’t a fake smile. Ellie was one of the few people I liked. I got on with her.
Ellie’s bright green eyes stared into mine. Out of all of the cheerleaders on the team, she was the nicest.
“Celeste! Did you hear about the party?” She asked, practically bouncing in her seat. Ellie, like most of the junior girls, loved to party. It was one of the only things to do here, in this extremely small and plain town.
One of the many reasons I liked Ellie was because she treated me like a normal teenager, even after knowing about the attacks. Whilst they would never show it openly, people stared at me. Everybody knew about the attacks and the man.
“I know for a face Jamie’s going to be there,” That was the second time today somebody hinted at me having a relationship with Jamie. I must admit, I did have feelings for Jamie. He was a nice, handsome guy.
My friends loved to tease me about it on a regular basis. They claimed to ‘see’ the chemistry between us. They all wanted us together.
My cheeks tinged a red colour for the second time today, to my utter dismay. Ellie noticed, of course.
“I heard,” She whispered, leaning in closer to me. “That he has feelings for you too.”
Whilst everyone thought he had feelings for me, it was never confirmed.
My heart rate spiked, and my eyes widened.
“Who told you that?”
Matt Johnson was Jamie’s best friend. They were thicker than thieves. Matt would know if Jamie was interested in me.
I pursed my lips together. I liked Jamie - I couldn’t deny that. But was there any hope of a relationship? With my current predicament, I doubted it a lot. It wouldn’t be fair to him either.
“Ellie,” I murmured, shifting closer towards her. “I don’t know...what if something happens? What if he doesn’t want to be with me? I’m the girl who keeps getting attacked. A freak." I spat the last part, loathing the word.
Ellie drew her eyebrows together, ” Celeste, you’re being such an idiot.”
I shook my head, “I’m not. I know what people say about me behind my back.”
Thankfully, before Ellie could protest, my English teacher waltzed into the classroom.
At lunch, I sat with the cheerleaders. They were all giggling about the party tonight, telling each other what they were going to wear. Georgia insisted that I go to her house straight after school. I had a feeling she did that so that I couldn’t try and get out of it.
“I’m going to wear my pink velvet dress,” Dalia announced, grinning manically. Dalia loved dressing up.
A few of the girls squealed in delight, gushing over the dress.
Georgia, who was sat to my right, shuffled closer to me. “You’re going to wear one of my dresses, Celeste. Don’t bother arguing.”
I wasn’t going to. There would be no point. What Georgia wanted, she got.
Instead, I dug into my salad. There was an unspoken rule that all cheerleaders ate a salad at lunch. We had to stay in shape.
“Oh my gosh! Jamie is staring over here, Celeste. He’s staring right at you!” Ellie squealed girlishly, capturing my attention.
I snapped my head in his direction, spotting him sat with Matt and the rest of the football team. His hazel eyes were concentrated on me. The corners of his lips quirked upwards. I felt my heart thunder in my chest.
“Hi,” I mouthed, smiling shyly. It was a real smile. I didn’t smile very often so when I did, I meant it. Jamie always got this reaction out of me.
He smiled back; waved at me.
Around me, the girls watched with interest. A few of them even sent me winks when I turned back to them.
“You two would make such a good couple,” Another girl, Sammy, complimented happily.
For the past few weeks, they had all been making subtle comments about me and Jamie. Oddly, Georgia was one of the ones who was pushing me towards her cousin the most.
My sole attention was back on the girls again. I didn’t notice what was happening behind me until I felt a warm presence behind me. Ellie, the other person sat next to me, shuffled over making room for the person behind me.
To my utter surprise, Jamie slid into the now empty seat.
“Hello ladies,” He greeted all of us smoothly. His beautiful eyes landed on me and stayed there. It made me feel special.
A chorus of ’hello’s erupted around me. I manage to choke one out.
“I heard you were going to the party tonight,” Jamie murmured. I repositioned myself so that I was completely facing him.
“I was hoping you would save me a dance tonight,” He requested, in a gentlemanly manner. His whole attitude was so out of fashion yet so admirable. You didn’t hear many guys speak like that today. I knew he was being genuine too - I’ve known Jamie for years.
My heart was hammering so loudly in my chest. I was beginning to worry it would leap out of my chest. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Georgia nudged me, kicking me out of my mind.
“I would love that,” I replied, trying to sound smooth and cool but failing.
“Excellent, I’ll see you tonight,” And then, just like that, he stood up and left.
The girls swooned.
“He’s so hot.”
Georgia scrunched her nose up in disgust. She hated hearing people call her cousin hot or sexy.
“He is so into you,” Ellie claimed, her voice leaving no room for argument. “I wish Wilder would ask me to dance at parties. All he does is play beer pong and chat to guys.”
Wilder was Ellie’s long-term boyfriend. They had been dating for about three years now. It was safe to say they were serious. They clearly loved each other a lot. They thought a lot, but they always ended up crawling back to each other.
I liked Wilder. He was actually the one who helped me last year. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know where I would be today. Possibly dead. I wanted to gulp at the thought.
“Have you seen Wilder dancing?” Georgia snorted. “I’ve seen Gorilla’s dance better than him.”
Ellie pinched her lips together and nodded her head grimly, “You’re right, he’s atrocious at dancing.”
A few of the girls snickered.
“OMG, do you remember the time Diana tried giving Justin a lap dance?” Dalia reminded us. ”God, it was so funny! She had no idea what she was doing. Justin looked so uncomfortable.”
Everyone laughed at the memory. I didn’t. Diana was so drunk she could barely stand. Hell, she couldn’t even remember where she lived.
Georgia noticed me not laughing and shook her head. She knew I didn’t like us laughing at other people’s embarrassment.
The rest of the day went by so quickly. We had cheer practise after school, so I strolled over to the changing rooms with Georgia.
The uniform had our school’s traditional colours - pale blue and white. It fit me snuggly.
Georgia looked stunning in hers. It accented all of her curves, making her look sexy.
We all headed out to the football field where the guys were training. The sun was blaring down on us. Since it was May, the weather was getting warmer.
Georgia - the team captain - led us in our warm-up. It felt great to stretch and release any tension. One of the many pros to being a cheerleader was that I was in great shape. If the man ever came after me again - which he probably would - I would have more of a chance of running away.
Ellie plugged in her phone to the speakers. Bad Guy by Billie Eilish started blasting through the speakers.
We practised our routine for an hour until we were all dripping with sweat. I spotted Jamie gazing over at us a few times throughout his training. I would always send him a small wave.
Whilst, for the most part, I was extremely anxious about going to the party tonight, a small part of me was quite excited. I did and didn’t want something to happen with Jamie. I liked him and he apparently liked me. The normal thing to do would be to date.
But he made me scared. What if he targeted Jamie?
He always appeared every one or two years so he could be at the party tonight, lurking in the darkness.
“I know you’re worried about something happening to Jamie, but you shouldn’t be. He can take care of himself,” Georgia told me, coming to stand next to me with a bottle of water. I took it gratefully. “I know you’re not as happy as you used to be. I think Jamie might be able to help you.”
It warmed my heart to hear Georgia care so much.
“Sometimes it scares me how much you know me,” I admitted, sheepishly.
Georgia studied for a moment, “We’re best friends, Celeste. Of course, I know you. I know in your mind you’re counting down the days until he comes back. But you don’t know for certain. He might never come back.”
“You can’t know that for certain though,” I replied, quickly.
She exhaled loudly, “No, I don’t. But neither do you. You need to stop living in a shell. Forget about him and have some fun. He’s taken away so much of your life already. Don’t let him take any more.”
I never knew Georgia could sound so wise.
“What are the chances he’ll be here tonight?” She continued. “For tonight, just let loose and forget about your worries. Nothing will happen.”
Well, something did happen. Just not what I expected.
So here's the first official chapter. I hope you liked it. I'd love to know what you think! Thanks for reading.