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After cheer practice, Matt dropped me home.
I showered and changed into a more suitable attire for this evening, opting for a pair of blue skinny jeans and a white crop top. I took my hair out of my ponytail and dragged my hands through it.
I had an hour and a half until Georgia would pick me up. I decided to be productive and complete the homework my evil teachers set. Georgia would not approve. She always left her homework to the last minute.
My mother waltzed through the door at around half five, looking knackered. The shift at the hospital must have been tough today.
Mom was a doctor. She was extremely proud of her position and for good reason. She came from a family who had never been to university before. She left this small town and attended the University of Washington. That was where she met my dad, who was also studying to become a doctor. They fell in love, got engaged in their final year, and got pregnant.
They both wanted to settle down somewhere calmer. Mom suggested moving to the small town she grew up in. Dad was thrilled, admitting every time he visited mom’s family here, he loved the town. They married here and bought a house a few minutes away from my grandparents.
“Hey sweetie,” Mom greeted, tiredly.
I bounced down the stairs, eager to see her. Since it was just the two of us now, I was close to her. Very close to her. She was my protector—guardian.
“Hi mom,” I replied, pecking her on the cheek. “How was work?”
She fluttered her eyes closed and sat down at the dining table in the kitchen. “It was busy today. There was a car crash a few miles out of town and they sent the injured couple to our hospital. I had to do surgery on one of them.”
Pride bloomed in my heart. My mother was amazing.
“Let me get you something to eat,” I suggested, already gathering the necessities.
Mom shook her head, getting up from her seat. “No, honey, I don’t mind making myself something.”
“Mom, you look like your about to drop to the floor in exhaustion. Let me make you something. I want to.” I insisted, giving her a pointed look. She sighed and relented. I smiled victoriously.
Mom went upstairs to change into some comfortable clothing.
I floated around the kitchen, deciding to make something simple but filling. I choose to make an omelet with new potatoes.
“I’m going to Winston’s diner tonight,” I announced when she returned, glancing at her whilst the omelet sizzled in the frying pan. “Georgia’s going to pick me up at quarter to six.”
“Have you done your homework?” Mom asked, peeking up at me.
“Yeah, I have.”
She studied me to make sure I wasn’t lying. To my mother, school was very important. She was always on my back about school work.
After plating the omelet up, I headed to the living room and watch some TV.
Punctual as ever, Georgia messaged me at 5:45, telling me she was outside. Swiping my keys and purse from the coffee table, I rushed out to the foyer and slipped my converse on.
“I’m going now! I’ll see you later!” I yelled.
“Okay, honey. Love you!”
I slammed the door shut and speed-walked over to Georgia’s car. She smiled at the sight of me.
“How’s your mom?” Georgia asked, accelerating out of my small street. Georgia was always close to my mother.
“Tired,” I replied, simply.
For the rest of the short journey, we made some small talk.
The diner was fairly busy when we arrived. It wasn’t unusual, even if it was a Monday. Since there really wasn’t a lot to do in this small town, Winston’s Diner was the place for teenagers to hang out. Every evening you would find a cluster of teenagers around a table.
The football team and cheer team often spent time here on a Monday and Wednesday.
Georgia parked her car in an empty spot close to the entrance. I examined the packed car park, searching for a familiar car. One that stood out was a red Porsche. That car definitely stood out like a sore thumb. Nobody around here owned a car that fancy.
“I bet that belongs to the newbies,” Georgia mused, gracefully stepping out of the car. She was wearing one of her many designer dresses. It was white with black lines and it reached the middle of her thighs.
After locking her car, we strolled over to the diner.
The gang was already there, sipping on a milkshake. I spotted Ellie cuddling up to Wilder, chatting to the three new students. They all looked up at our entrance.
“Did you guys order our drinks already?” Georgia asked.
Ellie nodded her head, gesturing to the two strawberry milkshakes that were untouched.
Ellie, Wilder, Matt, Jamie, and the three new people were sat around the biggest booth in this diner. Thankfully, the booth was in the shape of a semi-circle that could fit all of us.
We slid into the end of the booth. Opposite me were the three gorgeous, new people. Lazarus was directly opposite me. Dexter was sat next to him and Marianne was beside Dexter.
“I’m surprised you’re five minutes late, cous. We all know you hate being late,” Jamie commented.
Georgia pursed her lips together, ”Ha, ha, hilarious,” Georgia said sarcastically.
“How long have you guys known each other?” Marianna piped up, darting her eyes between all of us.
“All our lives,” Ellie replied, casually. “We’re all trapped in this boring town.”
“Hey! It’s not that boring,” Matt protested. He was the only one here who enjoyed living in this town.
“Yes, it is. This place doesn’t even have a shopping mall,” Georgia deadpanned, shaking her head in disbelief.
“Oh, the horror,” Matt said, mockingly.
Before Georgia could bite back—because she would—I changed the subject. It was the first time I had spoke to them; I felt nervous.
“So, are you guys moving here permanently?”
They all snapped their eyes to me. Lazarus stared at me with so much intensity. He viewed me as something delicate.
“We’re just visiting my sister for a while,” Lazarus explained, maintaining eye contact with me. His penetrating stare ignited my body.
I blinked in surprise, “Oh, who’s your sister?”
This place was so small, most people knew each other. And if his sister had inherited his gorgeous genes, she must look as beautiful as him.
I immediately recognized that name and stiffened. The rest of the group knew who Leah was too.
My mind transported me back to that fateful day three years ago.
I was sitting in the library, completing the homework my ruthless math teacher had set me. The clock on the wall to my left ticked loudly, disrupting me from my train of thought. The sky outside was dark, a sign it was going to rain.
It was late. I hadn’t realized how late until two older girls collected their things in a rush and sprinted out.
Mom wouldn’t be home until half ten, so I had plenty of time to get home.
Sighing, I rubbed my eyes tiredly. My vision was beginning to blur, causing the words on the sheet to dance around. I think I had done enough.
I started to gather my things together. Annoyingly, as I was picking the papers up, a hidden pet popped out and fell to the floor. Cursing, I picked it up.
As I crouched down to pick up the pen, a pair of big boots came into view.
Slowly, I rose from the ground and lifted my gaze to the stranger. My breath hitched at the sight of a scarily tall man with a jagged scar running down the left side of his face. There was a deadly gleam in his red eyes.
I immediately knew who this man was. How could I not know this man? He was the person who tormented my dreams—who had me screaming out in the dead of night. The fear must have been evident on my face because he sent me a wicked grin.
Gasping in fright, I stumbled backward and raised my hand up in a pathetic way to protect myself. It was futile of course; this man was nearly twice the size of me. I was merely a fourteen-year-old skinny girl.
“Y—You,” I stuttered, facing him with wide eyes.
“Dear Celeste, it’s good to see you again,” He said, feigning happiness. I knew better than to think his intentions were good. He had been trying to kidnap me since I was seven years old.
“Leave me alone,” I managed to choke out. “Please.”
My pleas were unheard.
He took a threatening step towards me. At this moment, I felt petrified. Was this where it was going to end? Or would he whisk me away from my family and friends?
He went in for what I thought was the kill. I leaped backward instinctively. His nail swiped my cheek, creating a cut. Blood oozed out of my cheek and trailed down my face. I had no time to pay any attention to it though, my focus was solely on the stranger.
I ran away, zigzagging through the many different isles.
He growled impatiently.
I could see the library doors not too far away. Relief bubbled in me. Perhaps I could get outside and attract someone’s attention.
But before I could reach the doors, hands circled around my center and lifted me off the ground. A scream passed through my dry lips. Instantly, I began to struggle in his arms.
“Gotcha,” He laughed, cynically.
Suddenly, everything changed.
The scarred man let go of me and dropped to the floor, landing with a thud.
A woman with dark blonde hair held a broken bookshelf in her hand, her eyes pinned on the unconscious man. She looked disgusted by him.
After kicking his foot cautiously and coming to the conclusion that he was flat out, she turned her attention to me. She scanned my body for any injuries, concern etched on her extremely beautiful face. I had never seen anyone so pretty before. She had sharp features, cat-like emerald green eyes, and glossy blonde hair. She was tall and had curves in all the right places.
“Are you okay?” She asked me, clearing her throat.
I scratched my bare arm, shaking like a leaf.
“I—I,” I stammered, my eyes welling up with tears. I was nearly caught by him, again. God, was this going to keep happening to me?
Sympathy swirled in her hypnotic eyes. She glided over to me and wrapped a comforting arm around my shuddering form. She guided me to the staff room and made me a cup of tea.
“I’m sorry that happened to you,” She apologized on his behalf as if she had anything to do with it.
“It’s alright, it wasn’t your fault,” I said after a few moments.
She pinched her lips together and hesitated. “I’ve got to ask you this, but do you know why that man was after you?”
“No,” I shook my head, exasperated. This was the third attack and I still had no idea why he did it.
She eyed me and after a short amount of time, decided I was being truthful.
“My name’s Leah Ward, what’s yours?”
“Celeste. Celeste O’Connor.”
I didn’t see much of Leah after that. I avoided the library like the plague. It only reminded me of nasty times. I told my friends about what happened since word traveled around here fast. They were extremely sympathetic.
We bumped into Leah once, at the local shop. She recognized me instantly. I introduced her to my friends.
I shouldn’t be surprised Lazarus is related to Leah. They both have that startling beauty and radiance. And how could I forget those eyes? The same shade of green.
“Hey,” Georgia’s soft voice called out, bringing me back to reality. Jolting in my seat, I blushed under the eyes of everyone. The quiet conversation they were having come to a sudden halt. I suspected most of them carried on the conversation for my sake, not wanting the new people to see me in such an unsettled state. I was grateful. “You okay?”
Georgia stared into the depths of my blue eyes, no doubt trying to determine if I was truly okay. Since she knew who Leah was and what memory was attached to her, she could work out I was going through a moment.
I rolled my lips together and nodded my head, absentmindedly.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed Marianne lean into Dexter and whisper something in his ear.
Lazarus’s unwavering gaze lingered on me, concerned. His hands that rested on the table twitched. If I didn’t know any better, I would have thought he wanted to touch me. Perhaps to comfort me.
“How long are you staying then?” This came from Ellie, who still had a charming smile planted on her lips. Wilder had his arm around her shoulders, possessively.
“We’re not sure yet,” Dexter answered, casting a look at Lazarus. Did he have some sort of say over them?
“Well, I imagine you’ll still be here this Friday,” Ellie continued, excitedly. “You two could totally so be on the football team.”
Dexter was the only one who appeared genuinely thrilled about it. “That would be cool. ”
We all spoke for a bit longer. They were quite nice...once you broke through their first wall. The way they spoke though was so different—it was more controlled and elegant. I inputted a few things every now and then but for the most part, I kept to myself.
At around eight, my mom messaged me, wanting me to come home. I bid everyone a farewell, standing up from my seat. Georgia copied my movement and tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder sassily.
Strangely, it looked as if Lazarus was about to stand up too and...what? Offer me a ride home?
Mentally, I brushed the thought off. Don’t be silly.
“Bye,” I said, stepping away from all of them.
Lazarus stared at me as if he didn’t want me to go. As if he couldn’t stand the mere idea.
As I walked away, my heart couldn’t help but feel heavy. So heavy.
Thank you so much for reading this chapter! What do you think of it? I hope you stay tuned for the next one!