I plant my feet into the freshly mowed grass, lips parting in awe at the surrounding maze. Hedges soar above my head, neatly trimmed to perfection in the shape of squares. Going on for what seems like miles upon miles around me, surrounding me in their piney scent. When Magnolia told me about the winding maze here, I almost didn't believe her. Until I looked up the pictures, of course. But this--this is too much for words. This place plucked from the pages of a magazine is almost too perfect for a place like this. Full of asshole murderers and vindictive peers.
The squeals of other students from the inside of the maze fly through my ears. A smile blooms across my face, imagining them wandering around the maze, clueless on where it ends. Adrenaline pumping through their hearts at the thrill the maze brings. It seems so endless. Never-ending. How could they possibly find their way out?
A few moans mixed with more exited squeals drops the smile from my face. Filling the thick air with lust and wanting. The unmistakable sound of lips attacking each other's drifts through the gaps in the hedges. Other gross noises echo from within the intricate maze. Skin on skin smacking together. Groans. Moans. Curse words. And I can't even fathom what that other weird sound is..... What the hell is going on between the hedges? An orgy? My body shudders at the thought of a public orgy. Making me wonder what the hell I got myself into with Chase. If he expects me to do any of that with him, he's way off base. Way, way, way off base. Well--maybe not off base. Hmmm. My mind and body have other ideas thinking about him, remembering our kiss from when we were kids. Something had sparked between us back then, never really going away. We spent a month together, just me and him in the darkness of the movie studio. Talking. Playing. Just typical 10-year-old stuff. Until the kiss broke the barriers down, and we fell into a children's love story. It had been our last day together, and then we never saw each other until now.
Still, in his presence, for the whole two times I've seen him, he brings a desire deep inside of me to life. A sickness inside of me no one has brought forth since Eli, and even Eli was more of an 'I want to experiment' type of situation. Chase is a gorgeous specimen. Especially as a man. That golden hair and bronzed skin, with muscles for days. Football really does the body good and him and his friends are proof of that. But fuck! I can't go down that road right now. Murder suspect. Dammit, Kaycee. You're here for one purpose and one purpose only. To ruin him. Annihilate his existence for torturing your best friend with the help of his gorgeous friends. Why couldn't they be ugly or something? Why did they have to be so damned beautiful? Curse me.
I bring my mind to the present, looking around me. The school's property expands for acres upon acres. 100 acres, to be exact. Situated on top of one of the famous bluffs, they named the town after. Filled to the brim with sports stadiums, ponds, and beaches. Everything a spoiled, pretentious little teenager's heart desires. All here on one property. I have so many vivid memories from my childhood here. Football. Bodhi and Callie's enrollment here. The famous football field seems like it's a mile away, but the memories aren't. Back in the day when Bodhi played here, magic sparked in the air. He was unstoppable back then, even now. The best football player I've ever cared to take an interest in. Even if he's my brother, I'm his biggest fan. A baseball field stands a few miles away, complete with its own stadium. This school isn't famous for its academia, but sports? That's where it's at for these kids.
More groans penetrate the air, among other things. My head tilts to the side, ears perking up at the sounds from the inside.
"I'm so lost!" One girl squeals with a high-pitched laugh.
"Let's make use of our time then." Comes a deep voice from beside her. A deep voice I recognize from breakfast this morning. But instead of the rage I heard come from him towards Piper, now I hear the raw lust leaking from his raspy voice. My body stiffens as I listen to a zipper come undone. Lips smacking. I really don't want to listen to Carter and some chick do the do in the maze.
"Kind of a peeping tom, aren't you, New Girl?" My entire body jumps as I whirl around. Chase is standing behind me with the biggest grin on his face, fighting off laughter. I'm sure my face is as bright as a tomato at the thought of getting caught peeping on two people I didn't want to peep on, but here I am. Red as a tomato, embarrassment tingling through my body. Great...just great.
I clear my throat and shift my weight from one side to the other. "I wasn't peeping," I say with a stern voice. Or not so stern, more like throaty, and trying to not sound like I just got caught doing something naughty.
"Uh-huh, right? You definitely weren't listening to ole Cruel Carter bang his step-sister, huh?" If I had water in my mouth, I'd spit it all over the lawn in shock. Probably soak Chase in his tight, form-fitting t-shirt too. Hm--not a bad image. Fuck focus, you're supposed to be cool. So instead I sputter on the spit caught in my throat and make a fool of myself, anyway. Smooth move, Kace, real cool.
"St-step sister?" I ask through a stutter that makes me sound like the virgin I am.
Chase snorts at my reaction and doubles over in laughter, clutching his stomach like I'm a damn comedian. "New Girl! You should see your face right now. Oh, shit...." He cackles on and on about how gullible I am, turning my face redder and redder than it already was. Can a hole swallow me whole yet? Because that'd be great.
"Yeah, yeah, you're hilarious." I quip with sarcasm, flipping my wrist in his direction.
"I will have so much fun with you, I can tell. Now come on, let me show ya around this place. We'll start here." He points to the green bushes in front of us, excitement sparkling in his eyes as he starts his tour.
"First rule of East Point, don't go into the maze unless you want to get fucked or lost. That shit's impossible unless you know what you're doing." He says with a little wink meant to entice me.
"Do you go in often?" I ask as we walk around the outside of the maze. I keep my eyes on the miles of bushes. Trying and failing to not listen to the obscene moans coming from the inside of the maze. My body seems to spark to life at the sounds of their pleasure, bringing a desire to the tips of my fingers, spreading to my center. It probably doesn't help that Chase is my guide too. Damn.....
"Are you jealous?" He asks, quirking a brow and taunting me with his lop-sided smile.
"Absolutely," I reply, reconnecting our eyes. He stops his walking and stares over at me with surprise flashing in his eyes. His eyes dart away for a split-second and then reconnects our gaze, that Chase grin taking over his face. Any doubts in his mind are gone.
"Really?" He asks, lowering his hands to his side. His eyes bore into mine like he wants to use his football skills and tackle me to the ground and smother me in kisses. Or his dick.
"Now who's the gullible one?" I crack a smile and start walking again. Trying to calm the erratic drum beating against my ribs. Flirting with Chase in my mind to lure him in was easy, but the reality is always a bit more than expected. More intense.
Chase huffs and catches up to me, keeping our pace in sync. "That's not nice, New Girl, playing with my emotions like that." He says holding his hand over his heart again like I actually hurt his feelings.
I snort and eye the maze. "Is it really that hard to find the center?" I ask, pointing toward the hedges.
It's his turn to snort. "Some crazy guy built his house in there, it's at the center. Dante Van Buren. Dude was nuts, seriously bonkers! He had some seriously fucked up ideas. He thought the world would end, and the dead were going to come back to life, go rogue, or some shit like that. But who knows? That's the rumors I've heard." He gives a shrug and continues. "Zepp and Seger, my buddies from breakfast, have the keys to the house in there, so we know our way around pretty well, most do though. But most...well, you heard ole Cruel back there. They just want to fuck in peace, I guess. No one wants to do that shit in the dorms. Another piece of advice, they have security walk around the halls at night, and if they catch you doing shady shit. Well....you know." He shrugs again. Maybe having Chase show me around isn't such a bad idea., knowing my way around this place is one thing, but the tidbits of advice I'm getting are priceless.
"Any more advice? I certainly don't want to get into trouble." I say, eyeing his contagious smile as we walk. I bat my eyelashes a bit and he chuckles.
"Stay away from Cruel Carter and Piper, that piece was legit. Cruel, I don't even know how that asshole is still here. He has to be 21 by now?" He shrugs in confusion. "They really are step-siblings, I wouldn't be surprised if they were actually fucking. Can you imagine ole Piper during sex?" He laughs at his own joke, sparking weird sex scenes in my head. Old Piper and her ridiculous speech patterns getting down and dirty with 'ole mean Carter. I can't even imagine them together.
"Yeah, does she always talk like that?" I ask through a laugh and he nods.
"I've been going to school with her since freshman year, she hasn't changed a bit. Well---maybe she's gotten a little harder. I dunno. They're odd, I don't pay them much attention anymore. I just stay out of their way."
"Are..... are they dangerous?" I ask, dropping my voice an octave. When I came to this school, I knew my game held danger. But again, the reality is always harsher than imagination. I can't predict how any of this will go. Or how people will react. He shrugs again.
"I mean---I wouldn't trust them with my soul, but that's just me." We make our way towards the large football stadium looming in the distance. He smiles as we approach his haven. Just like my brother, I can see it written all over his face how much this place means to him. How much this place holds a piece of his soul in the soil and his happiness in the stands. This football stadium is to Chase as my computers are to me. It runs through our blood, brings us peace, and completes us. No one understands these havens, except us.
He spreads his arms wide, introducing me to the Van Buren Football Stadium. Named after the crazy guy who owned the house in the maze years ago. Passing it down generation to generation until his great-great-granddaughter sold the land to this school.
"And, this is my home away from home. We play Friday, you should come! Be my own personal cheerleader." He cracks a smile at that and turns towards me. I scrunch up my nose and look toward the stadium. A ghost of the roaring crowd echos in my ears. Bringing vivid memories to the front of my mind. Back in the day, I spent many Fridays here cheering on Bodhi as best I could. Large crowds and I have never been on good terms, but I tried my hardest with him. For my family. I love him. I wanted him to play well and win the game. Bodhi's goal has always been to play professionally, and that's half the reason they attended this school. But to endure it for a practical stranger? Sacrifices must be made.....
"Crowds really aren't my thing," I say offhandedly, turning my eyes back to him. He blinks a few times and nods.
"I can save you a VIP seat with my sister. She's kinda.... well, she takes some getting used to, but I always save her a seat. She's not a crowd kind of girl right now, anyway." He sighs and sadness settles into his deep voice. Almost like grief has taken hold of his heart, and he sighs again, shaking his head. "I'll save you a seat, if you want it, take it. If not, well that's OK too. But I'd really love it if you came out. School spirit and all, right?" He cracks a smile, pleading with me to take him up on his offer. I bob my head in agreement.
Maybe a football game wouldn't be a bad idea. It'd get me out to scope out more of my classmates in their natural habitat. Plus, getting close to Avery is a must. She's the queen of this school and Mags' main tormentor. I need to close in on all my enemies, not just the boys, to find any information.
"Besides, after the game we are throwing a KILLLLLERRR maze party, you won't get lost that night. You might get fucked though," He winks at me and I snort at his boldness. "I can even meet you at the entrance, help you make your decision." He licks his lips, eyes trailing over my body before he can stop himself. Hmm, maybe reeling in Chase was easier than I thought. I expected some work, but this is a piece of cake.
"I'll go to the game," I say with confidence, staring out at the football field. "And the party too." What I don't tell him is I don't drink. Or fuck. Well--not yet anyway.. By how Chase's hungry eyes are undressing me though, says he'll try at some point. It's all part of my game, though, right? I might even enjoy it.....
"YESSSS!!" He pumps a fist into the air and does a little dance in place with that smile on his face I can't seem to resist. I smile back at him, and he stops in front of me.
For the rest of the day, Chase is true to his word. He takes me around campus and points out each and every building in sight. He gives me brief summaries here and there, but the pointers he gives me are the meat of it all. I wouldn't have survived here if it wasn't for him and his weird hints about teachers. Who I can be late for, where to sit in certain classes, and which students to avoid. My guess is he's a way better tour guide than Piper. At least I don't want to gouge my eyes out right now.
"Avoid sitting in the front row of Ms. Martin's class, not only does she spit when she talks, but she sure loves the ladies. Especially those," he points toward my chest and waggles his eyebrows like the quiet perv he is.
I snort, "thanks for the warning, I'll keep that in mind the next time I'm in science. I'll keep my boobs to myself." He swallows hard at the mention of my boobs but keeps going with his lessons.
"Never--and I mean never--- go behind the old baseball bleachers at any time. You think the maze is bad? Not to mention what they sell behind there. I wouldn't get caught dead there." He says putting his hands into the air as we pass the baseball bleachers. And sure enough, under them are a few couples messing around and swapping money for tiny bags.
"All right, it's been real, New Girl, but I should get going. I got practice in an hour." He smiles, pointing back towards the football field in the distance.
"Thanks for showing me around, it's been surprisingly pleasant," I say through a genuine smile.
"You wound me, seriously! Surprisingly pleasant?! I'm always pleasant, just you wait." He walks backward and with a brief wave, disappearing into the distance. When I'm officially alone. I wander around a bit, taking in the campus myself. Everything around here is seemingly perfect in each and every way. From the cobblestone buildings to their archways, there isn't a hair out of place.
I make my way past the football field and head toward the forest on the edge of campus. Perfect for a mile hike. Tall trees line the perfectly placed paths as the surrounding air thickens. An elephant compresses my chest the further I walk into the damp forest, the scent of nature drags through my nose. A slight breeze whips my hair over my shoulders and I stop myself. The bird's chirp and nature blossoms around me. My soul centers itself out here, in the confines of the forest and nature. Alone.
The sharp sound of a stick cracking behind me brings me back to reality. There are only a few chances in life to close your eyes and getaway. And this instance isn't it, apparently. There may not be actual wolves hunting in these woods, but other dangers lurk waiting to strike. I need to keep my whits about me around everyone.
I take a deep breath and slowly turn around. My eyes greet a pair of angry brown eyes staring hate into my soul, burning fire along my bones with just a glance. At least that's what it feels like to me. He's only staring down at me, twisting and contorting his face into such a rage, I'm surprised there isn't steam billowing out of his ears. Obviously, his sexy roll in the maze did nothing to curb his frustrations, because he looks like he needs to have another roll in the hay. Or evergreens. For a few days at least. He should consider talking to his partner and remedying that because by the look on his face he really needs a good lay. For all that... anger and such, I heard it's a good way to let off steam.
"You follow me?" I ask, raising my chin. His jaw ticks at my comment, and he takes a step closer, towering his lumberjack body over mine. Casting a shadow over my short stature. I suddenly feel like a child getting disciplined by her parent. All that's missing is the hands on the hip.
"You should walk away now. Leave this school. Pack your bags and get the fuck out while you can." He grinds his teeth with every word. I knew Cruel Carter, as Chase called him, was an angry person, but this? This is strange. Why would I want to leave?
"Why?" I ask, as his eyes flutter shut. He pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep, steadying breath. "To me, you sound like every cliche' asshole in those bully books. You know, those ' I hate you for no reason, I'll push you in the lake', kind of books." I say, pursing my lips as I say it. He grunts in my direction, about to attack like a bull, and pauses. Every muscle in his body seems to freeze. Brown eyes stare in my direction, realization flashing through them as quickly as it came.
"Because," He grinds out again. "Because you fucking need to." He says again, taking a step closer. We are almost touching, forcing me to look deep into the depths of his eyes. I can count every adorable freckle painted on his scarred cheeks.
"Any specifics?" I taunt, tilting my head to the side.
His eyes vibrate with such a fierce rage. If I held out a red cape, he'd charge. It hits me. He's wrestling with his inner demons, frozen in such an angered state; he can't control himself. He could slam his massive fist into me right here, right now, and no one would ever have a clue it was him. I'd have a massive fist-shaped bruise, yeah, but would I have the guts to point the finger at a guy with the nickname "Cruel"? Probably. I can acquire the evidence through the cameras mounted everywhere on this campus, so what's one more out here? I can hack them and make them my bitch.
The truth of the matter is, Cruel Carter doesn't frighten me as he should. Every inch of his flesh is muscly and heavily tattooed. Sending a bright beacon to strangers and friends alike, "don't fuck with me." Carter might send other people running with their tails tucked behind them, but there's something about him. Something inside of him connects with me, pulling me in to understand. A purity resides inside his soul no one else sees, but I see it, right in his eyes. His soul is screaming to tell me something that his mouth can't. So maybe his warning, although harsh, has an ounce of true warning to it.
"For fucks---" He says but narrows his eyes into tiny slits. Slow-paced footsteps crunch along the pathway, halting behind me. Liquid heat penetrates through my t-shirt, as whoever it is stops behind me.
"Problem?" a deep voice asks and Carter shakes his head. His hand waves in the air, dismissing the whole situation and stalks off deep into the woods. Letting the tall trees of the forest cover his massive form. Silence engulfs me again, but the presence is still standing like a statue behind me. I don't have to turn around to know its Zeppelin West. One of my 5 suspects. What a way to go through the day, meeting two murder suspects in the depths of the woods.
"Thank you," I say, keeping my eyes on the surrounding foliage. Wondering where Carter went. But I try to focus on the other danger lurking behind me. Although, he's more of the strong and silent type, keeping to himself unless it's his brother.
"You shouldn't walk out here alone." He says unmoved. His breath acts as a slight wind to my hair, blowing it forwards. I snort and finally turn around to face my knight in shining armor I didn't ask for. His deep green eyes meet mine and I shrug.
"He doesn't scare me." I look off towards where he went and Zepp scoffs. I'd scoff at myself too, but he doesn't understand why I'm here at this school. There's a murderer running around and no one knows. I'm putting myself into danger every time I interact with them.
"He should. He's a loose cannon. Watch yourself, New girl, you don't know who is capable of what around here." I meet his hard eyes again, and then he's gone, the forest swallowing him whole until he's no more.
"Tell me something I don't know," I mutter to myself, taking another look around. I'll return to this area again, despite Zepp's warning. No matter what he says, the woods call me, possess me. Chirping birds and crunching sticks are music to my ears, cleansing my soul one step at a time. Washing me in the serenity I need to stay sane here.
I make the long trek back to my apartment, peace settling in my bones. There's a reason I'm here, a reason I stepped onto this campus. I feel it in my soul, this is my ultimate destiny, calling me to do a job the authorities couldn't do. In the blink of an eye, I'm outside of my apartment door. The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, uneasiness pouring through my veins. I tilt my head at my cracked apartment door. No damage occurred to the doorjamb and no obvious tampering with the lock, but this isn't how I left it. Is it? Sometimes my mind is so distracted and caught inside my own thoughts, I leave things half-finished. But this? Could I have walked out without locking it? That doesn't sound like me, especially with my mission here.
I proceed with extreme caution and push my door slowly open with my fingertips. This may be one of those opportunities where I should report this break to administration. I should, but I won't. An eye for an eye and all that. My eyes scan every single inch of my apartment, but nothing is out of place. Brown boxes hide in the corners of my apartment, piled high like I left them. My computer is still dark from nonuse. Dresser drawers rest shut. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. So why do I get the odd sensation in the back of my mind, something is wrong? But why would someone enter my room and not take or look at anything? Or did they put it all back before I noticed? What. The. Fuck.
Not a damn thing is out of place, so I put my paranoia away in the back of my mind, spending the next few hours unloading boxes. Clothes into my closet on hangers and the rest in the dressers provided. After an hour, I take a break, making myself a quick dinner. I park my ass down in front of my computers, sighing with content. The sun's orange and pink hues paint the sky outside my window, as the moon looms overhead, ready to take over. I glue my eyes to the switching of the guards in the sky. Such a fascinating sight to see from the comfort of my own apartment. The beauty nature holds in the palm of its hand is unreal. Uneasiness descends on me again, prickling at my skin. Pushing my paranoia away into a box in my brain didn't have the effect I wanted it to. Still poking and prodding in my thoughts, begging for me to figure out what happened. From my computer, I can check the surveillance footage and try to figure out who crept into my room like a ninja. And knowing that takes a load off the uneasiness, but not all of it.
Who enters a room and does nothing? Was there a maintenance problem that needed solving, and they failed to shut my door and inform me? No. At a school like this, I would have gotten an email. My fingers brush through my wild strands of hair and I sigh. Dinner's done and there's no homework yet since classes start tomorrow. I promised Tristan some Angel Warrior. Decisions, decisions.
I stand in the center of my darkened room, letting the darkness engulf me. It needs to take me over if I will survive here. Stain my soul with its roughness, If I plan to figure out who did this to Magnolia. I will find what I've come for, that much I know. I need the darkness to seep into my skin so nothing can touch me before the end comes.
My eyes peer around the shadowed room. What a strange feeling to stand in the middle of an apartment that's barely mine. With boxes still stacked in the corner with my favorite paintings and cracks on the walls, I didn't put there. It's barely mine, but feels like a home at the same time. It was barely Mags' to begin with. I wonder where she laid her head? Or how she felt each night she went to sleep. Did my best friend cry or feel worried about the next day? With everything that happened, I suspect tears stained her pillows every night. And I don't even know the half of what she went through. She told me in the emails, but they weren't complete, never divulging the entire story to me. Maybe to protect me? I need to find her stolen journals, but I have no idea where to look.
I sigh as I look around, fighting off the temptation to lose myself to memories I can't get lost in right now. Yes, I should put every last effort into finding out who did this to her, but for now, I'm exhausted. A three-hour car ride with my mother's "wise" words and Callie's constant texting to Dex, really puts a damper on the excitement. Even a day later I still can't shake it. The love I have for my family is strong, they get me, but I can only handle so much of them.
I shake my head again, ridding my distraction. The more tired I am, the worst my mind is. Nothing can bring me to focus. I lick my lips and move my body for the first time in five minutes. A nice hot shower sounds like the perfect way to end the day. So much has happened since I arrived, it's hard to tell what day it is. But I know in the morning, I must put my big girl, game face on, and get to business. Tonight I am Kaycee Cole, Angel Warrior level 55, but tomorrow I have to "Sherlock Holmes this bitch" as Bodhi so graciously put my detective skills.
My fingertips graze against the smooth wall, as I make my way towards my remaining packed boxes. The darkness of the room soothes me. It grounds me to this place, sending pleasant vibes to my soul. I don't know what it is about the shadows, but I could do this for hours. Close my eyes and lose myself in the serenity of it all. Shampoo, conditioner, towels, and wash clothes are on my mind. A shower is a must. I throw open a box and smile as they wait for me, still in their box. Easy, peasy.
The hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and my body stiffens. Something is wrong. Something is off. A red light, barely visible, seeps out of the vent in the ceiling. Almost as small as the end of a pen cap. Blink. Blink. Blink. The red flashes at me, capturing my every move. I swallow hard and look around my room again, searching for any other lights. But that's the only one. My tongue runs the length of my top teeth, as my brain tries to calculate my next move. My limbs freeze, fingers stuck around my conditioner bottle. Blink. Blink. Blink. More red flashes invade my darkened sanctuary, just barely. If I didn't know what it is, I would have missed it. If I hadn't been standing in a pitch-black room. I would have missed it.
But I didn't.
Someone. Someone I don't know entered my room. They may have taken nothing from me, but they left something behind. As small as a pen's end and as visible as bat's food, I don't know how I didn't think of it before. How could I not have suspected someone would put surveillance on me when I'm doing the same thing to them? How could I not suspect someone in this school would want to record my every move, just as I'm doing to them.
Someone put a damn camera in my room.
Someone wants to watch my every move.
Which means, someone knows who I am and why I'm here.
Thank you for reading, if you are enjoying, please make sure to like this story or leave a review! You'd make my heart sing with happiness. ❤❤