Playing With Fire

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Without answering her question, I passed Sydney her coat and backpack. As I was sliding my lunch into my bag, the doorbell rang.

"I'll get it!" Sydney bounced to the door. I zipped up my bag and grabbed my leather gloves off the counter. "Kiera!" My little sister's excitement echoed through the house as she jumped into my best friend's open arms.

"Hi Cindy!" Kiera scooped Sydney up and wrapped her in a bear hug. "How are you? Did you learn any new ballet moves since I last saw you? You've changed already!"

I couldn't help but smile. Kiera had such a wonderful personality anytime, but she had enough energy to connect with Sydney like none other.

"Yeah I did!" Sydney smiled brightly, elated at the attention. "Do you want to see them?"

Kiera put her down and leaned down to touch noses with her. "After school, okay? We're going to be late if we don't get going!" She turned towards me. "Hey, Ella. What's up? Did you plan to make an entrance in school today?"

I quickly slipped my boots on. "No! No entrances!" I hated the idea of being center of attention.

"'Cause that's what we'll be doing if we don't move it!" Kiera glanced at the clock above the door. "Holy crow! Come on!" She smiled brilliantly as Sydney took her hand and they skipped out into the snow. I locked the door behind me and followed them, still zipping up my leather jacket.

Kiera turned back to me, eyebrows raised, sideways grin. "Nice. Going for the leather look, gangster style?" she smirked.

"No," I smiled. "I'm taking Dad's motorcycle, remember?" I looked at the bike, my smile vanishing. It looked terrifying.

She followed my gaze. "Right. I guess I wouldn't be dropping Cindy off at her school if you still had your car."

"I do still have it!" I insisted. "It just needs some fixing." My 1999 Pontiac Sunfire wasn't drivable as of yesterday. Tarry had to pick Sydney up at the elementary school, then come and tow my car home. It was embarrassing, and now I had to take the motorcycle, so Kiera was going to drive Sydney to school until I could again.

"I'll say! You can't even drive it!" she laughed.

Sydney opened the door to Kiera's car. "Yeah, it's broken, right Ellie? So I get to go with Kiera!" she hopped into the car. "See you after school!"

I waved at her through the window, then turned back to Kiera. "Hey, drive safe, okay? That's my little sister in there."

She laughed again. "Of course. Don't worry, I'll be careful. I promise."

"And as soon as my car is fixed, I'll take her again. But until then, thanks for doing this." I gave her a hug.

"No prob," she said over my shoulder. "I never get to spend time with your sister. This'll be great!"

The car door opened again, and Sydney's head appeared. "Are you coming, Kiera?"

"Yup! I'm coming!" She glanced back at me as she walked around her car to the driver's side. "See you at school."

"Yeah, see you." I watched them drive away, then approached Tarry's bike. The 2005 Kawasaki motorcycle was black, with a slim frame and one seat. It looked intimidating. Tarry taught me how to use it yesterday. We spent hours practicing. I hoped I'd make it to school in one piece.

The bike surged to life and jerked forward. I grasped the handle bars and accidently caught the throttle. The bike raced faster. Gasping, I loosened my hold and started to slow. After that, I kept at a slow speed and drove out of Dilworth into Fargo, North Dakota, and reached Davies High School intact. I turned the motorcycle off and kicked out the stand, then worked to undo my helmet. Everyone seemed to have stopped what they were doing to watch as I drove up. It was embarrassing, and I didn't want to look at anyone, so I ducked my head and whisked through the school doors.

At my locker, I took off my jacket and backpack, and hung them on the hooks. Kiera appeared at my side.

"Took you so long I thought you'd be late!" She smiled broadly, then curled her lips into a smirk. "Nice entrance."

I sighed. "Yeah, well that wasn't my intention. They didn't have to look," I added, taking out a binder.

She laughed and closed my locker door. "See you at lunch?"

Nodding, I smiled and we parted ways. She was on her way to chemistry, and I had history. Our classes were different in the morning. We'd meet up at lunch in the cafeteria, then we both had the same afternoon classes, consisting of biology and calculus.

"Hey Ellamae! Nice ride you got today."

I glanced behind me and spotted Nicklaus Botchmen racing to catch up with me. Nick had history first class too. He smiled widely, his dark hair and eyes wild as ever as he reached my side. "Umm, thanks," I muttered, self-consciously.

He shifted his books to the hand furthest away from me and held out his free hand. "I'll walk you to class. Want me to carry your books?"

I blushed and looked away. "No, that's okay Nick," I mumbled shyly. "I can carry them."

"Okay." He was silent for the rest of the walk to history. Nick wasn't a part of my culture. He didn't follow the rule. He had dated before, and I'd heard several times that he had his eye on me. But then again, Nick wasn't the only one I'd heard about that seemed to be watching me. I chose to ignore it, because what else could I do? I certainly wasn't going to date him. Why go through the pain of break ups and shattered feelings? Sometimes, I knew life would be easier if everyone followed the rule.

At lunch, I followed the crowd into the cafeteria and sought out the table Kiera usually had saved. She was there, along with a few of our closest friends. To her right sat Aria Rowe, a quite girl with strawberry blonde hair whom I'd invited into our circle at the end of the year last year. Next to Aria, sat Susan Hawk. She was in grade eleven, but didn't really get along to well with most of those girls, so she hung out with us. She had lovely blonde hair that was perfectly strait, and very light blue eyes. To Kiera's left was an empty seat saved for me, and next to that one, sat Kate Jenskousky, who'd been my friend just as long as Kiera. Kate had gorgeous dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. Kiera's green eyes stood out amongst the group like dazzling lights, so beautifully emphasizing her light brown hair. I was so jealous of her, and I'd told her so many times.

After collecting my tray of food, I sat down in the saved chair and smiled at my friends. "Hey. How are you?" It was the best question to ask to get conversation going. I couldn't stand uneasy, awkward silence.

Kate smiled and set down her cup. "Good. Chemistry was really boring this morning though. Don't you agree Kiera?"

Kiera looked far too happy to have not liked everything that had happened. But she nodded in agreement. "Yeah, it was kind of lame. But did you see Lukas?" she laughed, her voice radiant. "He tripped coming through the door and nearly ran over Mr. Kennan! You should have seen the look on his face," she chuckled, looking at me. "He was so red!"

I couldn't help but laugh with her, as did the rest of our friends. Kiera's laugh was contagious. When she laughed, it was like electricity flowing though an endless wire. No one could help themselves. That was one thing I was absolutely positive would never change for me. I was sure during graduation, when I was on stage, I'd catch her laughing, and make a huge fool out of myself when I lost control.

The girls soon started up another conversation about the recent teacher who was substituting for Mrs. Schmitt, who was on maternity-leave. Kiera turned to me. "So, do you still have that book you wanted me to read so badly?" she asked, leaning closer to me so I could hear her better. "I can't promise I'll actually read it, 'cause you know I'm not much of a reader, but I'll give it a shot."

"Oh, you mean twilight, by Stephenie Meyer," I corrected her.

"Yeah, I think that's the one."

I nodded. "Yes, I have it. I'll give it to you when you drop Cindy off later." She nodded and turned back to listen in on the others' conversation. Silently, I laughed and smiled. I knew Kiera wasn't a reader, but I really wanted her to give twilight a chance. Most people I'd talked to thought they were just books about evil vampires. Gory and horrible. I hated when they jumped to that conclusion, because they were way off. The book was a pure, beautiful love story about an ordinary girl named Bella Swan, and a vampire, Edward Cullen. My mother gave the books to me to read. I remembered how she'd smiled and told me how she and I looked like vampires, with our pale skin and golden eyes. I'd read the books - all four of them- many times. They were my favourite, and I knew I'd forever love them. Not only did I love the story and characters themselves, I loved that the books always gave me a connection to my mother. We had both loved them so much... They were so beautiful. My father didn't like them, because they weren't good examples of the rule. Edward and Bella chose to be together. He didn't like the idea it might give me. But I always knew it was just a story. Not reality. And that was okay. But I still thought it was beautiful. And I hoped that one day, the boy -or rather, man- Tarry chose for me would be like Edward. Romantic, handsome, brave. I wanted to have an Edward, like Bella, and as a little girl, I swore one day I would.

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