Chapter 7: Someone likes me
“Never be a prisoner of your past. It was just a lesson, not a life sentence.”
I watched my own hands. Green veins visible under the translucent olive skin. Lifting my head, I peered at the mirror strung at the level to my bed, my own teal eyes looked back at me; defeated and dreary.
“Crystal….” A tinkling voice called. I swiveled my head towards the door. My elder sister Camilla looked at me.
“Cam” I whispered, relieved. I ran towards my elder sister but she held me at arm’s length. Her blue eyes looked at me with so much sadness.
“They hurt me, crystal. Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.” She murmured.
“But Cam…” my steps faltered and horror filled my heart as I glanced at her wrists.
Both of them were slit and blood was dribbling out. My limbs turned leaden. A cold fire consumed me. I looked at her in terror.
“Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.”
But this time it was not Cam who spoke, it was a twelve-year-old who was standing right beside her. My mouth fell open.
Amber gave me a wry smile, but even as she smiled, bruises formed along her arms and face. A thin trail of blood leaked from her left ear sliding towards her chin.
“Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret,” she whispered.
Gasping, I opened my eyes, sheets clinging to my cold sweaty skin. I hurriedly swiped a glance over the bookshelves, desk, and window. It was a different bedroom.
What I saw was a dream.
I tried to calm my heart even though goosebumps trailed on my arms and an involuntary trembling started deep in my bones. Gritting my teeth, I stood up on wobbly knees and marched towards the window.
Brooklyn. I was in Brooklyn now.
The digital clock beside my bed read the timing to be 4:30 in the morning. Groaning, I entered the adjoining bathroom, it was no use trying to fall asleep again. The nightmare had seemed so real that it imprinted itself behind my eyelids. Every time I blinked, the horrifying image took over. Sighing, I decided it would be better to run to the gym for my kickboxing classes.
I skipped down the last four steps and went to get a bottle of water. Bred was sitting on the dinner table with many papers scattered around him in an orderly mess. A cup of long gone cold coffee sat at the brink of his ‘workstation’. It was only after I snapped my fingers under his nose that he noticed me.
“Oh, hello Crystal. Why are you not sleeping?” he asked with a small frown.
I glanced at his bloodshot eyes and stated, “Its 4:45 in the morning.” He started at this information and looked down at his watch frowning.
“Right. I got busy with my work.” He said, never taking his eyes off the file in front of him.
I sat on the chair across from him and peeked at one of the files out of curiosity. The file was of a famous A list celebrity.
“Wow, you have some very rich clients.” I breathed out.
“Yes.” He mumbled distractedly.
I know I was being borderline nosy but my next question was too eager so it bubbled out.
“Weren't you and mom living in Manhattan before?” I asked.
His eyes stopped scanning the pages.
“I mean, not that this place is not rich but shouldn’t you be living in Manhattan? Closer to your work?” I asked, pressing on. He showed the slightest amount of discomfort.
“Well, your mom wanted a place quiet and serene and Manhattan is noisy and this place is good because it’s quiet. And not noisy.” He finished in one breath and went back to work.
Yup. So much for being a good liar. Guess he was a bad liar. Before I could ask him more on the matter he interrupted me.
“Don’t you have to go somewhere?” he asked eyeing the water bottle in my hand and then at my workout clothes.
I did not want to bother him after all he was doing for us. So I simply bid him a cheerful goodbye and set off to a run.
There really was something weird in the way he almost started rambling. I knew he was lying and he did want to tell me the truth. But what was he hiding from me? He acted so weirdly.
“What is wrong?” I asked myself quietly.
“Maybe the fact that you are sitting in the middle of the road and blocking my way.” A deep voice stated.
That’s when I realized that I was actually sitting cross-legged in the middle of a wide road with my chin propped against my fist.
I looked up at the person who had spoken to me. It was none other than Maxwell Wester in gym clothes glaring down at me with his brows furrowed.
“I’m not blocking your way. Just in case you did not notice, there is a whole lot of space to pass through.” I replied.
He raised his eyebrows. After a moment or so of staring at me, he huffed. I grinned at him, displaying all my teeth and stood up patting the dust off me.
“Aww, someone likes me.” I teased him and grinned.
He looked extremely shocked, “what?!”
“Well, obviously there was so much space around me but you chose to come up to me and then deliberately tried to hold a conversation with me,” I said.
He looked more confused than ever.
“I did not hold a conversation with you.” He said
“Well, YOU talked to ME,” I told him smugly.
He gave me a weird look before turning his back on me and jogging away. I jogged alongside him.
“Running away from the truth, aren’t ya?” I told him.
Usually, I was not such an irritating person, but something about his ‘no-nonsense’ attitude made me act like a burr. He did not deign to reply.
“See, now you are not talking to me because I guessed your deepest feelings,” I said
“You did not guess my deepest feelings,” Max replied with gritted teeth.
“There is no point in arguing over that right now, Max. What’s done is done. I know I can be quite charming but it’s okay.” I told him, trying to hold back my smile when he looked utterly shocked.
He stopped and I stopped too. He was looking at me with his arms slack at his side and his mouth agape. I could not stop grinning at his reaction. He threw his hands up and started running. Literally.
After a few minutes of overexertion on my part to keep up with him, I finally managed to form some words, “so, when are you officially going to admit your feelings to me?” I asked and then took a deep breath.
Boy, he can run fast!
“Why are you so annoying, so early in the morning?” he asked in an incredulous tone.
Well because I saw my worst nightmare and now I am trying to cope up with the distressed state of my mind.
“It’s you, teddy bear. Something about you just makes me act like an annoying fruit fly on a rotten peach.” I said with a small smile.
My legs felt numb to the point that I couldn’t possibly care about them.
He stopped. Again.
And gaped at me. Again
“Did you just call me a teddy bear?! No…. did you just compare me to a rotten peach?!” he asked.
Now I was feeling rather ecstatic, this guy barely blinked in school and here he was showcasing me an almanac of facial expressions! I was still trying to catch my breath while he was looking at me as if I landed from Mars.
Then he took off again. Guess who is clearly not a gentleman? Maxwell Wester!!!
I struggled to keep up with him. After 10 hours of torture or so it seemed he stopped in front of a massive building. The gym I had applied to.
“Dude, we are gym buddies,” I said grimacing at the stitch in my side.
He looked at me then at the building and stomped off towards it. I leaned against the pillar beside the gates trying to fill some air into my dry lungs.
Someone came and stood next to me. I took a deep breath and the slightest whiff of citrus filled my nose. Peeping my eyes open, I was met with the azure gaze of none other than Max. He looked at me. I closed my eyes and continued taking deep breaths.
“I told you.” He muttered.
“Okay, pumpkin,” I replied with my eyes still closed.
I felt a shadow loom over me. Opening my eyes again I looked up at Max. He was intently focused on me. My heart started fluttering like a hummingbird’s wings. His palms rested on either side of my head and he leaned ever so closer.
Everything about him looked intimidating as a smirk slowly passed on his lips. He was just centimeters away from my lips and I was frozen with a cold fire burning inside of me.
Just as he was about to kiss me, I whipped my head to the side.
Don’t judge me; I was scared of the feelings coursing through me!
And then I felt the dry softness of his lips on the corner of my jaw. My heart stilled and I stopped breathing. He pressed his lips on my skin for a few seconds and slowly leaned away.
The place where he kissed was burning.
My knees suddenly felt 100 times weaker than when I was running. I did not dare to look at him. My heart was now pounding so hard I could hear it pulsing in my eardrums.
He tilted my chin up with a finger. I narrowed my eyes to hide the fact that they were wide saucers just seconds ago. His eyes looked darker than usual and he gave me a sly smirk.
“I’ll see you at school.” He huskily spoke and marched into the building. It took me another 5 minutes to get my breathing back to normal.
Naturally, kickboxing sucked.
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