Pretty Lies (Cruel Boys of Raven Oak Prep #2)

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~Chapter IV~

~Monster~

Three Months Later

THE WAVES OF WIND BLEW SOFTLY THROUGH my hair as I stared down at the rushing waters driving down into the riverbank. The same waterfalls I took Madelyn and almost killed us both. I was supposed to take her to see the very man we both shared blood with, and yet the thought of it now seemed stupid.

We should have waited.

The time was never going to be perfect unless I have her trust.

Instead she picked them.

I spotted a rock hidden deep in the grass and lifted the rounded pebble. With angered thoughts I chucked it across a vast, empty space of air with as much feeling as I felt inside, and wishing I could terminate the source.

The Sparrows.

Kieran Holmes was their leader. Ridley Sweet the backbone and less level-headed. Hansel Hargrove on the other hand liked to play muscle man when things became something more intense, and Phoenix Gage operated from his computer. But I know from the reasearch Mako gave me he also spent three years in a dojo in Tokyo with his father, who forced him to take Takwando after the incident with their precious ex-girlfriend's murder.

All of them have trained at some point in their life.

The only one not a threat to me was her ex-boyfriend, Hannibal Pembroke. I learned he was convicted of Second Degree Manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison, but got released for good behavior three years later.

He was the one I met that night we worked together to keep her alive and fight off my mother.

He saw my face.

I wonder if he will recognize me when we meet again? Soon. My primary objection is to break the wall of male testosterone between me and my sister, and as much as I want to put each of them in a grave I have be smart.

Time was not on our side.

Madelyn needed to be aware of Charlotte and the mental instability she possessed. Needed to be prepared when our unstable mother decides to come to Seattle. We all needed to be on guard in consideration to the wild lengths Charlotte Monroe will go to reunite with her children, and kills us.

"Are you going to stare into space all day?"

I tilted my head to the side as my best friend came into view a few spaces behind me. "When did you get here?"

"I followed you."

Of course he was there the whole time.

"What are you doing here, Mako?"

I raised the bottle of Jack in my left hand, to my lips. The hot burn of liquor down my throat settled the demons on constant radio in my head. It was the closest solution I had that didn't follow the familiar territory of drugs I relinquished myself to, a couple years before I met Mako and our friends Sydney and Annabelle.

And yet they still visited me.

"This" -Mako stole my booze and chucked it into the river with a whistled splash that echoed- "is why I came."

I was not in the mood to argue with him, nor did I ever let my emotions get the best of me despite the thought of wanting to punch my best friend.

The bastard could be hard to get along with at times, but I respected him after the shit we went through together. We were the only people left from the Hell we escaped. Him more so than me.

Whereas I still continued to relive the past, Mako returned the favor and kept my sanity grounded on planet earth instead of the land of the dead.

"I was going to finish that."

He swiped his hands up and down together, then down his clothes as if to brush off invisible dust. Clean freak. "I know. That's why I did it."

"You're such an ass."

He smirked. "Thank you. Now tell me why you are really here?"

He knew me too well.

I took a seat on the cliff, legs dangling. "The voices are back. Started the night after my sister rejected us. Let's not forget I have a psychotic mother that may be in Seattle looking to kill me and my twin."

His eyes went wide. "What the fuck? Why did you not tell me your mother was alive?"

I gave him a look over my shoulder. "Relax. I just found out she wasn't actually dead. My father thinks someone might be keeping her hidden."

"Charlie?" he guessed.

I thought over the possibility of him too. "I wouldn't be surprised if he is. He always had an obsession with my mother and Madelyn."

Mako stepped up to my side, hands in a pair of dark sweats. "Like you."

"Yes. But I am not dangerous. His attempt to fake his death was no coincidence. There will be more problems for us up ahead if we cannot find Charlotte in time. And soon."

Mako sat down beside me, a strand of balck ink curled above his eyes in waves. He observed me with concern. "Why does she want to kill you and your sister?"

I shrugged. "I would love to know myself. I plan to ask her when we do find her. Before she decides to make a move, or makes chaos for the mayor."

"I have a hunch that is exactly what she wants to do."

I frowned. "What do you mean?"

"For some reason the person keeping your mother hidden wants to be patient. He wants to wait until the moment is on point. Your sister's arrival in the city seemed to be the perfect time to create a distraction for the world."

"Or an introduction," I finished. That bastard. "It was Charlie's idea to provide the poets and poems. He knew she would solve them."

"But why? You were the one who signed all of those crazy ass riddles."

"Not all of them."

He shot me a look of befuddlement. "Then who-?"

"Charlie created the Tell-Tale Heart. Inside that box he gave her, was the real Jonah Treehouse's heart. My riddle of Hansel and Gretel helped her find Charlotte Moon and lead them to an afternote within her stomach warning them of someone I believe to be a copycat of Charlotte Monroe's grandfather."

"You mean Carver Jack?"

I nodded. "I assume it is him. Charlie. He was the closest to knowing that man just as the rest of the men in my mother's romantic life."

"So what do you want to do about your sister? If this is Charlie, he'll be coming for her. Obsession and all that intented." He looked to me with determination and loyalty I very much appreciated.

"My whole plan pertained to a fraction of hope that my sister would have the sense to come with us when the time presented itself. She was suppose to see what we'd done was to protect her. There are worse enemies out there than us. Apparently, it was not the case when little rose chose them."

Mako groaned aloud. "You are still on that? Why do you care so much if your sister chooses those delinquents?"

If he was anyone else I would have punched him in the face. But he wasn't some stranger. Mako earned the right to speak to me the way he does because we developed a bond through the pain of our time at Olive Crest. What happened in that orphanage four years ago was a testament of strength we used to survive, despite the sacrifices it came with.

I pocketed my hands. "Trust me. It's not better for her. Madelyn needs me even if she doesn't know it. I'm her only family, not them."

Mako stared at me for a few, spaced heartbeats. His light brown eyes were assertive, and the wheels in his head tinkered as they always have done when he finalizes his decisions. He was too loyal to not be on the defense whenever it came to finding a solution to my dilemmas.

Not that I needed him to.

"He is strying to find a way to help you. Ideas are awoken in his mind."

I looked past my best friend's shoulder, unaffected by the almost transparent figure standing there and speaking to me as if he weren't a soul of the afterlife. He smiled at me the same as he had always done since his death four years ago and adorn in a bloodied shirt and ripped pants. The obvious tell he'd been through horrible things before he died.

Sydney Locke.

My former best friend.

The first person to ever look at me as more than just a freak who talked to himself because of the ghosts that visited me on a daily basis. Put in the system at age seven he found me at the brink of death on my second night in the orphanage after a group of older kids dragged me to the attic to suck their dicks. They'd kicked my ass into the ground for what felt like hours, but I never cried. At the end I was bruised and bloodied to the point I wanted them to end me. Abused by the several foster homes I was taken from and unable to fight the horrors of that night the willingness to live abandoned me.

That was until Sydney stumbled upon us.

He didn't hesitate to break more than several bones of the three boys twice his size and with the odds stacked against him.

Only a wooden bat used.

"Perhaps we-"

"Stop," I told him. "There is no we."

Mako glared. "Why? You and I both know you can't do this by yourself."

He was partially correct. "Maybe. But I am going to play this smart, and that entails not getting more people involved."

I started back up the cliff and walked past the luxery hotel. A bride and groom stood on the deck turned to each other, a set of over twenty guests watching them as vows were exchanged. Once we passed my best friend continued to scold me as if that would change my mind. It was not.

"You are being stubborn, Aydin."

"No. I am keeping you alive."

"If you play it safe your sister will be long lost to those boys before you reach her."

"Not if I plan ahead."

Sydney floated next to Mako like a river of smoke. "Your dear friend will forever be at your side no matter how guarded you are. Perhaps you should allow him to assist just this once. Or has the fear in your heart hindered you?"

"I'm going to ignore that," I said.

Mako has proved to be a good asset when it came to his allegiance, but as someone dear to me I had to refuse this time. I was not willing to have him face that danger for me.

I once lost the most important people in my life because of that. I will not lose him too.

Mako looked at me with squinted acknowledgement. "He's back, isn't he?" He knew my history with the dead people in my ear, so I nodded. "What has he said about this?"

"It is not his decision to make. I decide. And I choose to deny you any involvement in this matter."

Mako instantly scowled. "Why? You know I can help you."

I crossed arms with added hard stare. "Be that as it may I cannot afford more casualties."

We reached the parking lot. Lots of cars were around, but mine and Mako's were the most noticeable within the sea of SUVs and Toyota Highlanders. Family transporters as we like to say because half the population these days were all about having kids.

Not us. Kids were not in our endgame.

Abandonment issues really fuck with your mind as you grow up.

"Don't shut me out of this."

I didn't turn around as I said: "This is my mess. I should be the one to end it."

"Stop!" he shouted at me. I paused and reluctantly circled to face him. The sight of sadness and anger mingled in his eyes pinned me to the core. "Stop trying to embrace this on your own. You are not alone. Let me compensate for all the shit you have done for me. You know you can trust me with her."

I closed my eyes, emotions hot behind my eyelids. "I know I can, Mako."

"But can he trust you to keep him alive?" Sydney's voice echoed in my head, bringing to life the terrors in my heart I felt were akin to needles. "So much blood in your past has left you defenseless. How long will you carry this guilt before it swallows you whole?"

"Then what's the problem? Don't you want to get your sister back?"

I leaned against the hood of my car and thought it over for a moment. "Fine. I'll talk to my father about finding something for you to do. He already knows what you can tribute to his plans, but I always deflected until now."

Mako slouched next to me on the car. "You can't protect everyone, Aydin. Not even me. I would have found another way to help if you rejected me again."

I laughed and he joined in with a arm around my shoulder. "Still bad at listening."

"Only when it comes to everyone." He joked.

"Don't press your luck."

After a few moments of silence Mako leaned his head against mine, and I took comfort in the peace that settled between us once again.

"You can be so stubborn at times, brother," he told me in Japanese.

"Blame my parents. They are both fucked up."

He nodded. "Yes. But now you can be fucked up together when we convince your sister she chose wrong. We'll get her on your side. I promise."

My phone buzzed in my pocket. I fished the cell out and answered quickly when I saw Tobias's name flash across the screen. "Father."

"I have a job for your friend." Straightforward and to the point. That was so like him.

I looked to Mako and he met my confused expression as I replied to him with harbored concern. "What job?"

"I want to infiltrate Raven Oak Prep."

~

A first view from Monster's POV. How did you like it? What about his friend Mako, our new character who will soon play an important role in this story? What do you think Tobias needs him to infiltrate the school for, and why?

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