Today’s the day before Fall Fest. “November 15th, Friday; 6:00 PM,” I wrote onto my project journal. “Project Pride and Prey-I-don’t-die starts tomorrow.”
Troy chuckled at my unenthusiastic face.
It’s been two damn weeks. Fourteen days since I last saw or heard of the wild redhead. It seemed like she had stuck to her word when she threatened to shy away from the world the following morning.
But it dragged on, and the interaction at school was similar. Gabriella was practically a ghost, entering classes before anyone and leaving first. All the while, she covered herself under hoodies. “You think she needs more time to recover?”
“I most probably think not, dude. Seeing her more alive in schoolwork than you makes the probability less likely,” Troy reassured, flipping through my AP chemistry notes.
“If you say so,” and continued jotting down stuff.
“You aren’t keen about this partner project, are you?” he asked me curiously with an air of humor. I glared at my pen. “You? The King of all Playboys. Finally settling down his ass to study,” he went on as if not believing. “With a girl.”
“And what about you smart ass. You’re stuck with Angelique for the school’s Art exhibition next week,” I smirked back. Troy gave me an unruly face together with a middle finger.
“Why you sneaky thing,” he barked. “She told you, didn’t she?”
“Who?” I feigned innocently.
He sighed and gave a toothy smile. “Ariel?”
“Bingo,” I chuckled. “I knew it from that day itself. But how you and that other demon will get along, I have no conception.”
“The feeling is mutual then,” he surrendered as I grinned triumphantly. “But before...”
I forced myself to ignore him for the rest of the hour he stayed until he finally gave up and decided that messing around with my things was a great idea.
He hadn’t given up.
Troy had gone out after complaining about how I started to become a boring person and left.
Now he’s returned...with this.
“And what the fuck is that?”
“What it looks like! Let’s see how you look in silver,” he grinned evilly.
“I hate you.” I cursed as Troy came barreling right into me with what looked like a - wig? Before I could protest a match, he already shoved my hair back and attached the uncomfortable furry material on it.
“Just stay still, will you?” Troy complained as he struggled to fit it around my head. “There! Whoa, you look like Jack Frost,” he laughed as he took a snap of me with a bewildered expression. “Here, look.” I froze.
I appeared anything like the Old Man Winter; instead, I resembled a freak.
“Argh, get this shitty thing off me, Troy!” I bellowed in frustration. But he declined and preferred to watch me suffer.
After five minutes of trying, I gave up, and he didn’t even seem to have any intentions of assisting as he hopped onto my bed. On the other hand, I went back to complete my work with a scowl when my laptop beeped with an incoming e-mail from our Literature teacher. “I’ll get back to you on this, bitch. Mrs. Corray had just granted me access to the sources and PDFs.”
The room grew to a compromising silence.
“Has she texted you back?” he asked meekly, trying to distract me. A frown found its way on my forehead, but I contemplated answering him.
Gabriella asked me a while back if I did have second thoughts about our important Exam project and that it wasn’t too late to switch partners. I was confused, so I typed a simple “No” and asked if she was the one possessing ideas of changing.
She then answered me in the form of a series of questions and explanations to her inquiries that seemed rather too rhetorical, not giving me a chance to answer any of them.
Girls and their uncanny minds.
Finally, after what felt like a whole day had just passed, my phone stayed still. I lifted only to see that she hasn’t answered my text. I had only asked whether she wanted me to come pick her up, and I was left—on seen!
Troy’s phone suddenly began to vibrate. “Sorry, gotta get this. Sisters trouble.”
“Please, God, don’t tell me they’re with some fetish gang again or hanging at the edge of fucking Empire State Building with Percy Jackson.”
“I reassure you can relax, dude,” he said. “Nothing of the sort is happening. I’m supposed to pick them up from the Mall along with you’re sister.”
My hand slapped against my forehead,” Fuck, how did I forget?”
“Should I answer that?” He grabbed his keys grouchily from my nightstand. “You wanna hang out by Aqua’s Ridge later?”
“Yeah, why not,” and got up from my desk.
Aqua’s Ridge was not a water park like everyone who hears it for the first time thinks. It’s an entertainment building. Me and the guys would head there during the weekends and go bowling or playing around in the arcades. There’s even an ice rink in it large enough for the dang whole community. I’d recommend eating in their food court because the dishes there taste paradisiacal.
A carnival had opened a fifteen minutes walk away, and it came to life at night. Due to being situated in a busy location near the sea, the building got its name. “I feel the need to storm around the festival tonight. The adrenaline of getting into actual trouble is itching inside. Care to tag along?”
“Eh, why not. You think Sam and them are up for it?” Ty-pi-cal.
When I wanted it to be the two of us, like old times, Troy will make way for more, and he’ll pay for them if I was involved.
“I know that look. The answer is going to be a yes, and they’re joining. And whether you like it or not, you’re getting yourself to socialize tonight after being stuck in this house for 48 hours.”
“Oh, piss off. You sound some like a wife threatening her mother-in-law,” I mocked and dropped into bed. “But if you insist. You’ll be paying for dinner.”
“Whatever, but make sure you show up, Ander,” he hollered as he exited my room.
I hadn’t felt like getting out ever since the drama. There wasn’t a soul who knew, but I had discovered something that night to make me doubt my life.
I slid out a crumpled Lustre photo paper from a drawer. At first glance, it seems I had torn it from a magazine, and maybe it was beside the fact it was far from that.
I had accidentally found it in the trash bag along with the remnants of our dinner when I hauled it out of her car. My watch had slipped out and fallen in, and as I pulled it just wounded, uplifting the paper with it.
Now, I’ve repeatedly mused about it, in the same continuous routine for the past few weeks.
An obscure force stirred deep inside as if attempting to communicate about something to me. I had a hair-raising feeling that the beast within was going to be unleashed. But I would have no notion what it would be. Yet, I was to anticipate it soon. And it screamed through my veins.
I wouldn’t be able to hold back and fight it anymore.
As I sifted my fingers through its smooth surface, reading the same words over and over, someone knocked on my door and a head popped in. Quickly, I shuffled the paper into my chemistry book that Troy had left sitting on my duvet.
“Hey,” Esperanza called, knocking softly. “How are you feeling?”
“Hungry,” I snickered as I arranged my books on my desk. I could tell she entered as footsteps neared and the sound of my bed creaked. Why does everyone like my bed so much?
“Because it’s the most comfiest one in this house. Even better than mine,” she grumbled. “You should get out of your room before we call Dr. Kane again. And this time for a different case.”
“Shut up, brat,” I snapped. “I already have plans tonight so you can stop you’re bickering. Don’t you have anything else to do?”
“Yeah, actually, I have a date later.”
My hands stopped. As if it has its mind, my body automatically walked over to where my sister sat with a huge grin. “What did you say?”
“I’ve got a date. And it’s with Kaden,” she said maliciously. Why the ungrateful little-
“No,” I responded firmly.
“And who are you to control me?” she pushed.
“I’ll kill him,” I snapped, surprising both of us with non intended pun. “I forbid you going out with the guy you farted at.”
My sister’s face flushed, and her eyes slit as she stuck her tongue out like the kid she is. “This isn’t fair, Ander. Every time I play nice with you, it always backfires. Now, you know the reason why I torment you.”
“Speak for yourself,” I said. “But you’re still not going.”
“I’m anyways not,” she shrugged, crossing my room and reached the door. “I knew this would happen with you, so I rejected Kaden. Boy isn’t my type; I saw him lip-smacking a girl in the janitor’s closet.”
My eyebrows knitted. I knew the guy smelled foul.
Esperanza wasn’t obtuse to fall for his so-called charms. I knew how an asshole like him works around. I had been one too, and back in Spain, guys stayed clear off my sister. I’ve yet to implement it here. But at the same time, I felt bad for her. “You know this isn’t the right age to mess around, and what about school? Your dream to be an Architect before Mom and Dad are grey and old? You can’t let that all go to waste.”
My disappointment was evident, and she knew it. With a sullen face, Esperenza made her way towards me and wrapped her arms around my waist. I embraced her back awkwardly. “You know I’ll always have your back no matter the situation, right?”
“I know. I can’t let everybody down,” Zaza sniffled into my chest. I ruffled her hair around messily, earning a slap on my arm. “But you’re still an arse.”
I roared my head back. “Always will, silly-”
“Who the hell are you? Get out!” came shouting from downstairs, interrupting our sibling bond.
“Who can that be?” Esperanza wondered, and we had the same mirrored expression. In a thrice, we sprinted out of my room towards the commotion.
“Please, I just need to see her,” a male voice pleaded.
“You aren’t allowed here. How did you even get past security?” our butler, Maksim, yelled in his Russian accent at the supposing intruder. “This is off-limits for people who aren’t listed.”
We hurriedly followed the heated argument into the dining room. What in the world was going on in there?
Esperanza got in before I did, and a gasp escaped. “What are you doing here?” Standing next to Maxim was my not so new favorite person. “Kaden?”
“Hey,” he greeted and dared to even wink at her.
“How do you know where I live?” my sister asked in horror. I was under the impression that the kid had probably stalked her.
My nostrils flared on sight.
Kaden appeared to have tackled our head staff to the ground as he had Maxim’s jacket around his fist. But the nerd who tried to act Jockey wasn’t doing a witty job at it either.
“Who allowed you in here, boy ?” I asked, locking eyes with him. He loosened his clench on the red-faced butler and strode confidently to us.
“And who might you be? She never mentioned a lover,” He threw accusing glares at my sister. I stepped forward, and without a second thought, my fist collided with the guy’s nose; hearing the satisfying crack of bones brought thrilling pleasure.
He drawled in pain, scowling at me. “Fucking...hell.”
“What have you done?” Esperanza yelled as she pulled me back. I was in raging bull mode as my anger got the worst. How dare he! “Kaden, get out.”
“I have to speak with you,” he stubbornly prodded as he eyed Zaza’s hand resting on my shoulder blade.
“Motherfucker. You heard her.”
“You enter my territory, demanding things out of nowhere and proved violence towards us? Oh, I don’t think so Kaden,” I spat his name out like poison. The kid managed to back up against our butler, who hadn’t hesitated to move aside, causing Kaden to fall to the ground as he held his bleeding nose.
I then began to vociferate rather loudly,” Come anywhere near my cousin or this house again with the recurring audacity to shout here, and I’ll have your balls castrated into Christmas ornaments for you.”
“Evander,” my sister warned.
“W-What? Evander?” Kaden’s face paled, and his eyes grew to the size of tires when he realized who he had cussed. You could practically feel his fear. “I-I’m sorry, I-I didn’t know it was you because of that wig.”
Ah, Troy, that ingenious fool. Wait, why hadn’t my sister reacted to it?
“Did you hear me, boy?” I snapped at Kaden, who’s hands were occupied on the dented nose.
“What’s your business here, Kaden?” my sister asked him.
“I-I was going to apologize about what you had...seen today. I s-swear it wasn’t what you think it was!” he lied straight to her face, and I wasn’t going to let any sympathy to fill in. I knew what he was referring to, and I could sense the strings he was tugging.
“Get out,” I hissed, “Before I call the cops.”
That sent the kid running straight towards the entrance, and Maksim followed suit, not hesitating to push the kid roughly out the door and called security. I hadn’t missed the hint of mischief in his eyes as our butler enjoyed the little show.
“Well, that went quite alright. I’m surprised you hadn’t killed the clown yet, Master,” Maksim chuckled as he returned to the dining room.
“I didn’t want a blood bath in the place we eat and give thanks to the Lord for his blessing, Maksim.” I rolled my eyes. “Don’t worry. I’ve yet to work. Find out how he broke in and send me his details, pronto.”
“As you want, Master,” he bowed and walked himself out.
I turned towards Esperanza, who was lost thinking in her world. “Sis?” Zaza had a weird look hanging at the edge of her face making me snap my fingers at her, “Hey!”
She blinked in surprise before blankly moping at me. “You look like Jack Frost.” And with that, she waltz away.
“Eh? Zaza, wait up! We aren’t finished here, young lady. You better have a good reason how you lured in a psycho!”