The Devil Within

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Chapter Four

Like every year, Tristan had set up the fire pit in the back garden. The flames illuminated the area around us with an orange glow, making the sand that belonged to the lake beach visible.

Music could be heard from the inside of the house where a few of the people were hanging around, most people had left the garden when the temperature dropped, but a few of us were still by the warm fire.

I was having a conversation with Lily about how her and Jaxon are thinking of getting their own place when they graduated next year. They had been together since freshman year. Lily was actually the one to introduce me to Mason in the second year of college when the guys moved in together. She is on my course, and then the more I came over, the more I felt comfortable. I ended up bringing Nora with me on occasions, and we just clicked with the group immediately.

At this point, I couldn’t imagine not being friends with everyone. We all had a rough idea of what our futures looked like and what careers we wanted to go in. Our plans were quite similar.

“So when are you and Mason going to make it official?” She asked after a moment of silence, making me take my eyes away from the fire to look at her as she gave me a knowing look. It was a look our friends had been giving us for the past year.

“I don’t know if we ever will, to be honest, like we both have feelings for each other, but he’s watched his parents fall out of love, so I think he’s scared that when we make it official we’ll lose feelings.” Everyone knew about Mason’s home issue and how his father treated his mother, so I didn’t feel bad talking about it.

During my explanation, my eyes drifted over to where he was standing beside Wyatt, a beer was in his hand, and he had now put a coat on over his skeleton costume. He had rubbed off the makeup I had done for him hours ago when his skin started to react to it, but there were still dark rings around his brown eyes from the eyeliner.

Mason smiled over and raised his bottle when he noticed me staring. I also raised my now empty solo cup in a greeting before looking at Lily, who watched the whole encounter. “We all know how Mason feels about it, but what about you? Do you think it’s enough for you?” I just shrugged my shoulders at her words and pulled my feet to my chest on the seat. I had never really been asked that by anyone other than Nora.

“I guess so.” I paused to look back at him and watched as he laughed about something Wyatt was saying. I felt my stomach flutter whenever I saw him laugh like that. “I mean, I know he’s not seeing anyone else, and neither am I. We know how each other feel and don’t need a label to confirm it.” She nodded her head as she took in my words.

“Don’t get me wrong, if he asked me tomorrow to be his girlfriend, I would jump at the opportunity, but I’m not going to force that on him, and I’m okay with what we have right now. I wouldn’t want to ruin it by putting pressure on him.”

We were both silent for a few minutes before she broke it, her next words making a huge smile appear on my face. “He called you his girlfriend the other day.” She whispered, her voice was low so that there was no way the guys could hear.

“Really?” To say I was shocked would be an understatement.

“Yep.” She nodded her head enthusiastically and turned in her seat to face me better. “Apparently, the guys were just having a conversation, and Avery, being Avery, commented on how you are hot, and Mason went all defensive and told him not to talk about his girlfriend like that.”

She made quotation symbols with her fingers as she said the word ‘girlfriend.’ “How do you know?” If the guys were having private conversations, they wouldn’t do that in front of us girls.

“Jaxon called me straight after to tell me. I swear since being with me, he has turned into a right gossip.” She joked, causing us both to laugh at the fact that it was true.

My laugh died in my throat when I felt soft lips being placed on my temple. Mason had walked over to where I was sitting, and Wyatt was nowhere in sight. “I’m going for a quick whizz in the woods. I’ll be back soon.” I craned my neck to give him a funny look.

“Why don’t you go in the house?” The house was only 30 yards away.

“Because then, I would have to take my boots off to go upstairs, and I think I’m too tipsy to figure out the laces.” I shook my head at his explanation that clearly made sense in his alcohol-induced mind but not in anyone else’s. “I’ll see you in a minute, babe.” He bent down to peck me on the lips before attempting to jog as he made his way to the forest.

Lily nudged my arm with her elbow and wiggled her perfect brows, teasing me. “See, he even calls you babe.”

Lily and I continued to talk for what felt like another 10 minutes before it dawned on me that Mason hadn’t come back, don’t tell me he had passed out or something.

“I’m going to find Mase,” I announced and cut her off from her sentence. I know it was a little rude, but we were just discussing makeup, and it was too cold for him to be out for too long. At least me and lily were by the fire.

“Okey dokey, I’m going to go inside to Jaxon.” She stood up and handed me the blanket that was wrapped around her, “It’s getting too cold, so take this.” She gave me the fluffy blanket, and I threw it over myself as quickly as I could.

I was still wearing the leopard print jumpsuit, which kept me warm at first, but even my coat wasn’t helping fight off the cold anymore. I thanked her before heading in the direction I saw him wander off too. Surely, he couldn’t have gone far in if he only needed a wee?

“Mason, are you okay?” My voice sounded loud throughout the quiet forest, but the only reply I received was the sound of birds flying away at the sudden noise. The music from the house could no longer be heard, and it felt even colder the further I walked.

I used my phone torch to see where I was stepping in case I tripped over a branch and hurt myself.

“Mason!” My calls turned into shouts the further I walked in. Looking back behind me, I sighed in relief when I could still see the fire. At least I wasn’t too far in.

I noticed a light shining upwards in the corner of my eye and figured he had dropped his phone with the torch on or something. “Mase, I swear to god if I have to drag you back to the house, I’m going to kill you in the morning.” I huffed and stomped my way over to where the light was shining.

I regretted those words straight away.

A blood-curdling scream left my lips at the sight before me. My movements felt hazy as I rushed onto my knees beside him and disregarded the blanket. His brown eyes stared up at me lifelessly, but I refused to believe that he was gone. My hands found their way to his chest, and I started searching for the wound that caused all this blood, but deep down, I knew that it was pointless.

Thick blood coated my hands, and the strong metallic smell made me heave, there was a stab wound in his abdomen that brought tears to my eyes, but I blinked them back. Now was not the time for me to cry.

I called out for help for what felt like hours but, in reality, was only minutes.

“What the fuck?” Tristan’s voice made me jump in shock, and I looked back to see a few people standing there in shock as they took in the scene. I blocked out the sound of Lily’s cries and continued to put pressure onto the wound as a means of saving him.

Hands grabbed onto my shoulders to get my attention. “What the fuck happened, Tessa?”

“I-I found him like t-this. I don’t know what h-happened.” I stuttered out, but my voice was so quiet I was surprised he heard me.

“We need to get inside now!” Avery hissed and pulled me away from his friend. “Whoever did this might still be here.” What he said made sense, but I couldn’t get my body to move. I couldn’t even force myself to breathe as I stared down at the boy I spent most of my time with.

I was hoisted into someone’s arms as I watched Avery lift Mason in a bridal position.

Everyone who was outside scrambled to the house as quickly as they could. I bounced up and down as the person carrying me jogged towards the house, but fear gripped my heart when I noticed a dark figure standing at the edge of the woods watching us.

“He’s in the garden!” I screamed and felt whoever was carrying me pick up their speed as they ran up the stairs to the house. I couldn’t take my eyes off the figure, scared that even if I blinked, he would be closer.

You would have thought that my scream would have warned him to leave, but he stood there watching us as we panicked. A shiver ran down my spine when the person had the nerve to send me a small wave.

He was taunting us.

We had rushed into the house, and the door was locked straight away. Someone had cleared off the kitchen island whilst Avery placed Mason onto the surface. The room was hectic as soon as we burst in.

Wyatt was going round, locking every door and blocking the big windows that could be broken into. Lily and Nora were on the floor crying hysterically as the nursing student Wyatt was dating was checking over mason while Jaxon was pacing up and down on the phone to 911.

Tristan placed me on the worktop when he realised I wouldn’t be able to stand. He placed me in a perfect view of Mason’s body.

His head was tilted at an angle that looked like he was staring at me, his brown eyes lifeless, telling us all he was gone, but that wasn’t stopping the girl from performing CPR on him.

I realised then that the stab wound wasn’t his only injury.

A deep cut wrapped around his throat like he had been strangled with something thin like a wire. The sight alone was so gruesome that I couldn’t keep down the food I had eaten earlier. Vomit spewed out of my mouth, and I was thankful that I leaned over the sink in time. Once I was sure I wasn’t about to puke again, I struggled to stand to my feet.

My legs were shaky as I tried to stand, but somehow I managed the few steps it took to reach the kitchen island, and the first sob racked my body. Once again, I felt myself collapse onto my knees, but I wasn’t keeping myself together, unlike before.

My heart hurt.

My heart hurt, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe, it was like my chest was constricting, and my lungs weren’t getting enough air.

“She’s having a panic attack!” I could hear shouting, but it was like my mind couldn’t register the words. My vision was blurring. I could faintly see people surrounding me. All I could focus on was the fact that Mason’s lifeless body was less than a foot away.

It wasn’t long before my blurring vision blackened, and I was falling into a pit of darkness.

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