I inhaled deeply when I reached the door, some lunatic knocking nonstop until I heard it over my music. I swung it open and stared at Ellicia blankly as she put on a big smile, obviously thinking everything was all okay now.
No. It wasn’t. I can’t just forgive and forget that easily.
“Look,” her smile fell as she sighed, figuring out by my look that I wasn’t in the mood. “I know your poor little heart’s been pulled and pushed around a lot so I’ve got something planned for tonight if you want to come?”
“Depends on what it is,” I shrugged, leaning against the doorframe.
“It’s a surprise,” she shrugged back, moving forward to take my hand as her smile came back. I looked into her eyes for a while but there wasn’t really any excuse I could use to get out of this.
After a sigh, I gave a hesitant nod before I moved back to grab my phone, keys and jacket.
“No way you did this,” I said in bewilderment as I stared over how she had the roof set up. There was a large grey rug on the ground, blankets and pillows set up with snacks and drinks in the centre, a laptop too.
“I was thinking I’d take you to a club or something where we could get drunk and dance all night but Ebony informed me that I couldn’t always think just about myself.”
“That’s so kind of you,” I muttered sarcastically before a smile ripped open because I really couldn’t believe she’d done this for me. “Snacks and movie, that’s my kind of night.”
“I know. I told her that, she helped me do the rest.”
“Oh so, she did this?” I questioned, slipping my arms around her waist, liking how natural it felt to do that again while she pierced her lips softly.
“It was still my idea,” she replied, shrugging before she took my hand and pulled me towards the setup. I took in the fairy lights next, lighting a circle around in a nest kind of look, the lights bunched up and going around but then up and over where we sat, the pillows and things against the wall of the small block.
“This is so Ebony’s style.”
“I know, right?” She snorted a laugh, making me smirk as I sat down next to her, inspecting all the food. Lots of chocolate, lollies and chips but there was also a fruit platter. The drinks were obviously picked out by Ellicia. A small bottle of tequila, mini bottles of wine, cans of beer and cider plus some coke too.
“You’re lucky I have a late start tomorrow,” I murmured, grabbing one of the beers as she opened up the laptop. I sat back, surprised at how comfy it really was.
“We’ve got Edge Of Tomorrow.”
Only my favourite movie, I thought, smirking again as I moved my arm behind her as she sat back too with one of the mini bottles of wine.
“I hope we can be cool again,” she said quietly, pressing play as I leaned down and kissed her cheek softly because maybe we could be ‘cool’ again. She was definitely going the right way about it, to get on my good side again and it doesn’t take much until I forgive people, she knew that.
“I reckon we can,” I whispered back and caught as her lips quirked a little into a small before she fell down and leaned into me, her head laying against my chest while the movie started playing.
As the movie finished up, I could tell she wasn’t focusing on it anymore. She was thinking deeply, her fingers tapping to my knee gently. Maybe she was preparing herself to tell me something more about her and her past? I wondered, an ache suddenly touching to my chest as I shifted forward to close the laptop.
We’d eaten some of the food, not a lot because I’d only just had something for my dinner and I wasn’t too hungry. She drank most of the wine and some of the tequila and I noticed throughout the movie that she’d drunk more and more frequently by the minute.
“Thanks for that,” I told her, turning to her when she laid down behind me. I laid down too, up against her and half over her, kept my head up to look at her. “What’s bothering you?”
“What?” She asked, whispered and looked at me weirdly before it all fell and she just shook her head softly. “Nothing.”
“Mhmm,” I hummed, not believing her. I raised my hand to brush back the hair on her forehead, felt as she touched her hands to my sides, slipping them under the blanket I had around me and my jacket and shirt.
“I know you know there’s things I’m keeping from you,” she whispered back and I looked at her again, wondering if she really was going to spill to me. When I saw the tears in her eyes, I felt my heart sink into my stomach because I didn’t like it when she was upset. It made me upset.
“But,” she breathed, tilting her head slightly as she wiped her eyes with her palms. “I can’t tell you. I-It’s too hard,” she whispered, her voice cracking slightly as I looked over her face, trying to get anything else out but all I got was sadness and anger mixing together.
“It’s okay,” I told her softly, leaning down to hug her and pull her into my chest as she took breaths to take control of her emotions again. “I would like to know but I can wait until you’re ready… but how long do you think that will be?”
“It’s already been four years. It could be forevermore,” she shrugged lightly and gave me a sad smile as she sat up and looked up at the sky, the dark sky and glistening stars.
Four years? Two years before me. She was sixteen when something happened. Something bad enough to make her turn to the bottle, make her take the drugs and change to this person.
“What were you like before?” I asked softly.
“It’s not what, Rubie,” she whispered, glancing to me as I sat up and moved my arm around her back. “It’s who.”
“Who were you then?” I asked, looking deeply into her eyes, trying to keep my desperation in but this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to know about her past self and what had happened. It happened four years ago, four years is a long time to not be over something so I know it’s going to be bad.
“Who’s that?” I asked, my eyes narrowing in confusion. She clenched her jaw, looking away and out over campus as I leaned in to hold her better. “Tell me. I want to know.”
“Amelia Campton’s my birth name,” she looked back at me as I looked over her softly.
“Why change your name?” I asked next, wondering just how bad whatever happened was. Especially for her to change her name.
“Fuck,” she muttered, looking away from me and moving to get up but I didn’t let her.
“Please, don’t leave me in the dark. Not with this, it has you drinking until you forget and I can’t go on with it. I need to know. Tell me please, I promise you’ll feel much better,” I told her as she glared back at me, a tear falling down her cheek. I leaned in and kissed it before I caressed my thumbs over her cheeks, moved to kiss her lips softly. “I am here for you. I always will be. If I knew what happened and what you’re going through, then maybe I can help you heal,” I whispered, looking back into her eyes as they lightened, dropped before she turned her head away. “At least try, Ell. Try for me, please.”
“You don’t want to hear it,” she snapped back angrily, giving me a dark look again before she relaxed and looked down, taking my hand softly. “I did something. I went through things. I was hurt and I don’t know if I’ll ever heal completely,” she sighed and then looked up a little, her expression somewhat confusion.
“Told you,” I whispered, leaning in to hug her again. “You’ll feel better. It’ll be easier for both of us if I know. Tell me who Amelia Campton was. Tell me what happened to her. Tell me how Ellicia Walker came to be,” I murmured in her ear, touching my fingers along her jaw softly as she leaned her shoulder into my chest, set her head in the crook of my neck.
“I’m scared of what you’ll think of me.”
“Ell. I know you for who you are. I know you better than anyone else and you know me. You don’t have to be scared, I don’t want you to be,” I told her, kissing her cheek lightly as she took a breath.
“Okay,” she said under her breath and sighed softly, looking down as she rubbed her hands together in a way that told me she was already struggling. “Amelia had the perfect life. Rich parents, the best mum who cooked the best food. Her dad worked from home so he was always around, he was always playing with her and her brother.”
Brother? I thought in shock. She never told me she had a brother.
“They had an amazing house. Good family friends. She was always so happy, treated well and loved,” she smiled a little for second before it fell and I saw the tears build up again. She swallowed hard and let out a shaky breath. “When she was fourteen, her brother got into a crash with his friends,” she whispered and I looked at her softly, wondering if he was badly hurt or not. “He was the only survivor but he was different. He struggled with his friends’ deaths, he grieved every day and turned to alcohol and drugs.
“One day two years later, he came home late with a new friend he’d made that week. I was in my room, I had my earphones in so I didn’t hear the yelling… I heard the gunshots though,” she hesitated and closed her eyes as I felt my heart start to race, my mind going crazy to know what happened next. “I didn’t know what was happening so of course, I went down there. Thankfully, I didn’t scream when I saw my brother standing over our parents, the gun in his hand.”
“Why?” I asked without thinking, felt her hand squeeze mine softly.
“He couldn’t pay off for the drugs he wanted. He’d been asking for money all week and when they didn’t give it to them, his ‘friend’ convinced him to take it anyway,” she answered after a breath before she looked at me again, her eyes still filling but she was trying hard not to let the tears out. “But his friend took the money and disappeared once Theo handed it over. He knew I was still in the house when they took the money but he didn’t do anything to me, I never knew why until two weeks later when he showed up at our aunt’s, where I was staying.
“When she tried protecting me, he killed her. I saw it all and when he came after me, I fought and I don’t know how but I got the gun. Maybe he let me, I don’t know and I still wonder today,” she started crying then and I felt my own tears come to my eyes. I hugged her into my chest tightly, felt her tears fall onto my arm, one drop at a time. “I-I killed him, Rubie. I killed my own brother,” she sobbed and I swallowed hard so I didn’t start crying too. Bit by bit, I felt my heart tear a little as I felt and heard her.
This is all worse than bad, I thought, taking a sharp breath as she breathed to calm down.
“He was going to sell me to them for his drugs,” she whispered, her hands gripping my arms tightly as she closed her eyes, taking deep breaths. “And now his ‘friend’ is still looking for me. I’m under the protection of the FBI as they’re trying to catch Desmond Blaine, a drug lord from L.A who Theo owed a lot to. A lot, meaning thousands of dollars and me.”
“Shit, Ell,” I muttered, suddenly realising exactly what she was in now. “Holy shit, Ellicia.”
“You see where I come from now?” She asked, giving me a look before she wiped her eyes with her palms and took another breath. “My hair’s not even naturally blonde,” she muttered, raising a hand through her hair as I looked over her quickly. “It’s brown.”
“This is… this is insane,” I breathed, shifting slightly as I stared at her. Only then did I focus on how dark her eyebrows were compared to her hair, making that make sense. “If your brother, Theo, was using drugs then why do you follow him?”
“I’m not as stupid as him,” she muttered, giving me a hard look before she looked away and swallowed. “And it helps ease the pain. You wouldn’t understand.”
“I want to.”
“No. You don’t. Trust me.”
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