Rhythmic pounding of waves on the sand echoed my heartbeat. A sense of peace swept through me. Living off campus allowed me to take advantage of the perk of listening to the real thing at night helping me to black out for the few meagre hours I had for sleep. Being parked across the island meant that I could maintain my privacy especially from my nosy little brother. Yeah. Last thing I needed was him running to Father and having my allowance cut again for ‘dreams filled with air and pixie dust’. Two college applications lay side by side on my desk mocking me. One, a business degree to help me run the family business I don’t want and the other centred around architecture. One would keep me in the family fold and the other meant I would need a job to pay for college myself.
Drawings sat incomplete on my table for the latest tiny house I planned to complete under the guise of it being another ‘school project’. Deep down, I didn’t want them to be projects. I wanted to live the life I researched about so diligently. I wanted to reduce my carbon footprint to the point that I floated across the surface of the planet rather than making gouges in the earth with my greed. Sure I liked having money but I didn’t like the way our family company made its money. I hated it at home even more. The apartment was silent, cold and empty. The corporation full of yes men all out to please my Father while secretly lining their own pockets at the expense of the people they were supposed to be helping. My soul craved a more simplistic lifestyle.
Deeply breathing in the night air, I caught the underlying hints of ozone and petrichor signalling rain would sweep across the island hopefully taking with it the dark thoughts I was having. Padding through my tiny house in my bare feet, I deposited my mug in the sink before pulling on an old pair of shoes. Things needed to be secured in the yard before the storm hit. Rubbing a towel through my hair I eyed the stacks of paper waiting for me neatly stacked on my desk. My pin board was full of schedules for all the teams and things that needed to be discussed at the next student counsel meeting.
All I could think about was her. Her carefully pinned up crown of blonde hair, eyes expressing pain, and the iron will to keep doing what she loved. She seemed lost inside her own head tuning out the conversations swirling around her. While I hated this school and nearly every one in it I had learnt to manipulate the system to work for me. She seemed stuck, not reaching out to make new friends beyond Meghan and Atticus. Atticus would ruin her in a heartbeat. He was only looking for her weak spot to expose it to the entire school and make her bleed. She was already bleeding too much.
‘Hello Seb.’ Bella separated herself from the shadows. Swallowing the string of swear words that rose to my lips I unlatched her hands from around my bicep and stepped back from her waiting. ’I think that you and I would be so…so good, ’she was drunk. Stumbling her way over to me in the dark she continued, ‘you’re everyone’s golden boy and I’m…’ ‘Drunk.’ I cut in coldly, ‘Go home Bella. I’m not interested tonight or any other night.’ Her mind was struggling to comprehend a simple lifetime rejection. ‘B..but you and me we’re supposed to…’ ‘Not happening ever. Why do you do this to yourself huh? They don’t care about you. They sure as hell don’t care about me. I’m not signing any arranged marriage contract to save a business I don’t give two shits about.’ Frustrated with her stupidity I continue securing my home leaving her drunk ass behind me. A little rain storm never hurt any one.
Lightening killed. Deeply aggravated at the surf gods and whoever thought it would be a good idea to let her drink alcohol on the night I was meant to host the council meeting. Throwing her over my shoulder, I dump her under the shower and turn on the water. Leaving her to work her way out of her stupor, I grab some of Atticus’s sweats and an old shirt that might fit her. Leaving them in a neat pile on the bench, I shut the door only to hear a fist pounding on my door. Fucking brilliant.
The elite thought that they were in control of the school but we knew differently. I wasn’t a president who was merely happy to enforce the school rules. As much as I hated it here I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people around me. Ed stretched out on one of my sofas hair sweeping down on his forehead in a tousled mess with notebook in hand ready to go over the notes he had waiting. Ty slid down on the floor in front of the sofa sans shirt his face void of expression. Meghan perched daintily, her stature all but obscured by the overstuffed armchair she had gained her membership to my inner circle by stating that we needed someone in the girls quarters who could remain impartial to the hormones running rampant.
‘Problems?’ I opened the meeting with my standard statement. ‘Ciara Grey and Bella Montgomery.’ they said in unison. ‘What about me?’ Bella materialised from the bathroom sober and relaxed. ‘Anything you need to tell me brother?’ Atticus raised an eyebrow silently digging for juicy information. ‘She was drunk. There’s a storm outside. I live by the beach. She’d have gotten herself killed.’ irritated that he thought there could be anything between us I snapped, ‘Go wait in the bedroom Bella. Meghan will make sure you get back to the dorms safely when we’re done.’ Pointing her to the only other interior door I waited until I heard it close with a snap. ‘She has to go tonight. I have no wish to be married to her the minute I step foot out of college.’
’I’ll take her back.’Ty patted his hip pocket where we all knew he kept a flask of bourbon. They would have no trouble believing that he had once again attempted to corrupt her innocent self. Moving on to consider the matter raised I asked, ‘What’s the story behind the animosity?’ ‘Frenemies.’ Meghan offered before adding, ‘There’s more to it than that. Word around the main dorms is that Ciara took Bella’s spot in Russia. Bella’s holding a major grudge because Mother always wanted her to be a prima Ballerina not a model.’ Power plays we all understood, it’s a necessary evil in the world we live in but not to someone we called friend. ‘Solutions?’ Ty asked already bored of the conversation. His vote would be firmly behind his ‘girlfriend’. Ed slid around to lounging against the back rest with both feet on the floor. ‘I have to write an assignment with Ciara. I can get close to her.’ ‘I move that we leave the matter on the table and observe until the end of term. Only act if it spills over to the rest of the seniors.’ Meghan raised the motion. ‘Agreed.’ We all muttered. Ed noted the decision as the first lightning strike split the air and the thunder rumbled to answer it.
Waiting for the others to bundle Bella out of my room Meghan joined me at the window, ‘You like her.’ she spoke softly, ‘She’s sad Seb. Depressed even, hiding it behind her smiles and perfect turns. If you’re going to invest in anyone this year she needs your help.’ ‘Our help.’ correcting her before turning to read the concern on her dainty freckled face, ‘Don’t let Bella get to her.’ Nodding her head in understanding she turns to leave not before noticing the dilemma still sitting on my desk, ‘You’ll have to decide soon.’ Left on my own with the echoes of my friends laughter still in my head its a while before I reply, ‘I know.’