“Jake, hurry up!” I yelled at my best friend, Jacob, who was lagging behind. I continued to walk, crunching leaves with each step. By the time you get you the waterhole the sun will be up again.” Jacob and I always came to the same waterhole every night at midnight. It wasn’t a dangerous place here. I had come to this waterhole since I was thirteen. Nobody besides Jacob and I knew where it was, due to the fact that it was on my private property.
“I’m coming, Bria,” Jake replied coming up behind me. I smiled. As the water hole came into view. The bright moonlight hit the water, allowing me to see the surroundings. The darkness of the night tinted the water a blue so dark it looked black. In the day light the water was almost always a clear blue, tinted a slight green from the trees, and you could always see through to the bottom. I wasn’t entirely sure how deep it was, but it couldn’t have been deeper than ten feet.
I didn’t have to see the roses and lilacs to know they were there. I could smell the in the surrounding air. I inhaled deeply taking in each smell. I caught a smell that usually wasn’t there. Vanilla. I shrugged it off. It was probably something Jakes sister, Lilly, sprayed on him. She loved the smell of vanilla and with good reason. It was a lovely scent.
I smiled and stripped out of my clothes and shoes, showing off my perfectly fitted black bikini. I smiled at Jake, who was still taking off his shirt. I rolled my eyes, laughing and jumped into the water. The water was cool and felt amazing against my sun kissed skin. I surfaced the water and looked at Jake. He was watching me.
“What?” I asked.
“I’ll be right back,” Jake said. “I’m going to go pee.” I nodded and went under the blue, crystal clear water. I swam to the bottom and grabbed a shell and resurfaced, placing the beautiful shell on the rock beside me. I heard leaves crunching, growing closer and closer.
“Jake?” I called. “Is that you?” Nobody answered.
“Who’s out there?” I tried a few moments later, searching through the trees. The leaves stopped again. “I know you’re out there! I could hear you!” I heard a voice mumble the word shit. It couldn’t have been Jake. The voice I’d just heard was blissful; divine. It wasn’t a voice you could forget nor would you want to.
“You know,” A voice boomed, scaring me in the process, “a beautiful girl, much like yourself, shouldn’t be out in the woods all by yourself. There are several things that could hurt you out here.” I searched in the shadows of the trees for the voice and found nothing once again. I searched for the flashlight Jake and I had brought with us, but couldn’t find it. Jake must have taken it with him when he went to pee.
“Who are you?” I called out. I looked around. I still couldn’t see anything. “Show yourself.” The thoughts that he was dangerous crept into my mind. What if he was a murderer or a psychopath or possibly something even worse than that? What could even be worse than that? I could what if all day and it wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
“Grab that black towel,” The voice said. I hesitated, but grabbed the towel. “Wet it, please?” I slowly wet the towel and got out of the water.
“Why do you need it?”
“I tripped on something and I can feel some sort of fluid on my hands, so can you bring me the towel, please?” I looked in the trees that stretched out in front of me.
“Come hand it to me.” I knew there was that possibility that he could harm me, but I wanted to know who he was.
“Well, I would, but I’m not exactly sure where you are.” I saw a hand appear in the bright moonlight. I smiled and placed the dark towel into his hand. I waited for a few moments as he stepped out of the shadows. He was young and couldn’t have been more than twenty-four. He was sexy and looked as if he’d been a character in a woman’s sexy fantasy.
He stood at a good half a foot taller than my five feet and three inches, maybe more. I wasn’t entirely sure. His hair was slicked back and his pink lips were plump; perfectly kissable. His eyes were a light brown. His long torso was lean and fit. He left the top two buttons of his black shirt were left undone, which allowed me to see traces of a tattoo that stretched from the left to the right side of his chest just below his collar bone. I instantly felt drawn to this man standing before me. In the twenty years I’d been alive, I’d never met a man so erotic and striking.
“Hi. I’m Julian.” I smiled and held out my hand for him to shake. He shook my hand.
“Bria.” The right side of his perfectly shaped lips twitched into a smile.
“Well, Bria, it’s nice to meet you.” I smiled.
So you’re looking for you friend Jake if I heard correctly?” I frowned, remembering that Jake still hadn’t come back, and nodded.
“We were going swimming and he told me he had to pee and he’d be back, but he still hasn’t come back and it’s been at least 10 minutes.”
“I’m sorry to hear that, but would you happen to have a flashlight around here? I mean I have one, but it doesn’t work very well.”
“Why would you need a flashlight?”
“I was going to go find out what that was that I had tripped on and I’ll help you find your friend.” I smiled and handed him a flashlight, but remembered I had no clue as to who this man was. He could still have been dangerous, but at the same time something told me to trust this man.
“How do I know you’re not a psychopath or a kidnapper?” He chuckled, amused.
“If that was the case and I was going to do either one of those, which I wouldn’t, especially to a beautiful girl quite like yourself, would I have let you see me?” I bit my lip unsure, but something in the pit of my body told me to follow him. “Well?” I nodded briefly and he held out his hand to me. I took his hand and walked with him as he led me through the trees.
As Julian and I walked on, the smell of vanilla grew stronger. Around five minutes later, Julian stopped. I looked down and gasped his name with tears brimming in my eyes. My best friend, Jake, his body lied on the ground, lifeless and covered with blood. His normally tanned skin was pale white, though tinted light blue by the moon. I fell to my knees, beside of Jake, and I cried out.
He was my best friend. I had nobody else to talk to about everything. I had my dad and other friends, but they didn’t understand me, not like Jake did. I would miss him, of course I would, but I knew I had to get help for his body and get out of here before I was next. I would have time to cry and mourn for him later.
“We need to call the police or something,” I said with a sniffle, brushing Jake’s hair from his face. I looked up at Julian, who was peering down at me.
“Alright, I’ll go get them. You stay here with the body.” I rose my feet and looked up at him as if he was crazy.
“Are you fuckin’ crazy?! I’m not stayin’ here! Not when whatever killed him could still be out here.” He chuckled.
“Okay, fine. Grab on.” He turned his back to me. Was he serious? He was going to carry me all the way out of here?
“Really? A piggy back ride out of the forest?” He chuckled once more.
“Yeah, I’m serious.” I rolled my eyes and climbed onto his back and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Hold on tight.”
“If I hold on any tighter I’ll choke you.”
“Trust me, you won’t choke me.” I nodded as Julian had broken into a run. Being that close to Julian made me notice he smelt sweet, like a combination of vanilla, honey, and another sweet delicious scent I couldn’t recognize. I snuggled against his back after realizing that Julian was a fast runner; unnaturally fast. We reached my house within a few short moments.
“This is my house,” I told him. He nodded and stopped to let me down.
“Do you want to stay here?” I shook my head. I had some questions. I wasn’t sure what had killed my best friend and I wanted to find out, so there was no way in hell I was staying here.
“No. I need to know what killed him....” I trailed off and Julian nodded. Julian took my hand and led me down the road. He looked down at me as I watched the other side of the road. I looked up at him. He sent me a sympathetic smile. I returned a fake smile and continued on.
Thirty minutes later my feet ached from the heels I’d been wearing. I’d been on my feet too long. Julian looked at me.
“You know, I could just give you a piggy back ride.” I shook my head and came to a stop. I placed a hand on his shoulder to balance myself as I slipped off my shoes. “Better?”
“Much.” Julian chuckled. I looked over to the right and spotted a police officer. I ran toward him. “Oh, thank god,” I said to him.
“What’s wrong ma’am?” he replied. I looked back.
“In the woods, my friend,” I could barely speak without my voice cracking as images of Jake’s bloodied body flashed through my mind over and over, causing me to tear up. “He went to pee and never came back. I went to look for him. He....” I started to cry when I felt Julian’s hand on my shoulder.
“He what?” The officer’s tone was gentle.
“His body…covered in blood...dead! You have to help!” It was all I could manage to choke through my tears. I couldn’t finish a sentence. The officer nodded.
“Can you lead me to the body?”
“Yeah,” Julian replied. “It isn’t far.” He nodded. Julian and I lead the way to Jake’s body. I took one glance toward my old best friend and broke into tears and once again fell next to my best friend. I cried as I hugged his chilled body. I closed my eyes and flashback of the times we’ve had ran through my mind. The one that stayed with me was from earlier this morning.
I laughed as Jake chased me through the trees, trying to catch me. I had always been faster than he was. He laughed.
“Come on Bri!” I heard him yell. “That’s not fair! You’re smaller and faster than me.” I laughed and felt his arms grab me slinging me around into a circle. I laughed.
“Let me down, now.” He beamed down at me before setting me on my feet. “So, you were telling me you met a girl?” He nodded. “What’s she look like?”
“She’s beautiful. She has long red curls and beautiful blue eyes. She’s a goddess. I swear.” I laughed. She seemed like a fantasy he’d had.
Are you sure she’s real?” He rolled his eyes and I laughed. I knew he was serious. “I’m kidding. Where’d you meet her?”
“I met her in the back of the pub. She needed my help.” I laughed.
“She might be a vampire.” He rolled his eyes. “Kidding. Does she have a name?”
“Yeah, her name is Regina.”
“She seems nice. I wanna meet her.”
“Eh, she’s not much of a people person, but I’ll see what I can do.” I smiled and nodded.
I cried worse as I came to terms with the fact that I would never see him smile or laugh again. It hurt worse to realize I had lost my closest best friend. This couldn’t have been goodbye. It didn’t seem to be right, but then neither does losing a loved one.
“Okay,” The officer said. “I’ll need you two to go home. It’s not safe out here for either of you.”
I felt weak from crying. I didn’t want to move and I didn’t want to leave him. I couldn’t. I wasn’t ready for this goodbye. I knew I never would be. It would never be easy, but at least I knew he would never have to feel pain or hurt again, but still it pained me. I felt Julian’s kind arms wrap around me. He pulled me to my feet. I realized he was taking me away from Jake. I screamed and slung my arms at him to let me go. He didn’t. I kicked and I cried. I even went as far as to throw a few lashes at his back, but even still, he didn’t release his hold on me.
“Bria, stop fighting me!” I heard Julian exclaim. I couldn’t stop. I grew weak after five minutes.
I woke in my bed the next morning, the brightness of the day peering through the window. It was almost blinding. I didn’t remember falling asleep last night. It was then that I remembered the events of the night. Tears fell unwelcomely from my eyes. I buried my face into my pillow and let out loud sobs.
Jake, he was really gone. It was my fault. I was the one that dragged him out there. I was the one that told him it was completely safe, that nothing bad would happen. He died and I was to blame for his death!
After I’d calmed enough, I remembered Julian; his god-like looks, his voice. He wasn’t someone a person could easily forget meeting. It wasn’t his looks or his voice that made me wonder if I’d ever see that man again, but rather the fact that he was a complete stranger that had been there for me. He’d carried me away from there regardless of my protests. He must have brought me back home after I blacked out.
It was then that I wondered if I would be able to find him. I wanted to find him so that I could thank him for being so kind to me. I wanted to thank him for carrying me away from the scarring scene that was Jake’s murder. I also wanted to thank him for helping me find him. If it weren’t for Julian and my looking for Jake his body may have never been found, seeing as the forestry behind my home was private property. The thought of Jake’s body, alone, flooded my eyes with tears and blurred my vision once more, but I couldn’t think about that right now. I couldn’t mourn him right now. I would have time for that at his memorial service. Right now, I had to find Julian so I could thank him.
I got up from the bed and threw on my hooded sweatshirt over my black tank top and a then put on a pair of tight fitted boot cut jeans. The embroidery and sequins light up the jeans with fading, whiskering, crystal rivets, and silver logo hardware. I slipped a pair of white ankle socks over my feet and the slipped my black and white All-Star converse on. I began fixing my hair into a messy bun as I walked out the door with my car keys and wallet in hand. I unlocked the doors to my silver 2015 BMW M4 Convertible.
I loved this car. It was my baby. What I loved most was the black, genuine leather interior. Jake always loved this car. He begged me time and time again to let him drive it, but I had never allowed it. Jake had always been a careless driver.
I pulled out of my driveway and I traveled down the road slower than I would have otherwise, seeing as I was searching the sidewalks of Portland for Julian. I traveled down the streets and even got out and searched the cafés. I sighed ready to give up. I’d searched everywhere. Finally I parked in the parking lot of the local Starbucks. I strolled over to the glass door and walked in. I walked to the front counter. A woman with long blonde hair and dark brown roots looked up at me. The name on her nametag told me her name was Sydney. She gave me a kind smile.
“Welcome to Starbucks,” she greeted me. “My name is Sydney. What can I get for you on his fine morning?” I smiled back at her.
“Can I get a grande white chocolate mocha?” I ask. She pressed some buttons on the cash register.
“Does that complete your order?” She asked, looking back up at me.
“Erm, yeah, but erm, can I ask you a question?”
“Your total will be,” she glances at the register, “5.31.” I fetch a credit card from my wallet and slide it across the slot in the card machine I had no name for.
“Okay, you see, I’m looking for this guy. He’s about 5 foot and nine inches tall. He has dark hair that’s slicked back, full lips, light brown eyes, and he’s exceedingly good looking. Have you seen him?”
“Honey, if I’d have seen him it’d have been in my dreams.” I exhale sharply as she hands me my mocha.
“Thanks for your time.” She nods briefly as I return to my car sipping on the hot liquid. I looked at every place I passed asked them the same question. I even asked the airport. Nobody’s seen Julian. This was hopeless. It’s like he’d never existed at all.