Authors: Linda Oaks
by Linda Oaks
Blue Tulip Publishing
Copyright © 2015 LINDA OAKS
This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are ficti
tious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.
Copyright © 2015 LINDA OAKS
ISBN 10: 1-942246-42-0
Cover Art by P.S. Cover Design
This one is for you, Shane.
I love you!
HE SUN CEASED TO SHINE THE DAY
my older sister, Natalie died. She was a bright meteor of pure heat, magnetically drawing every celestial force in the heavens and the center of my universe. An eighteen-year-old version of Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn rolled into one vivacious cheerleader, whom everyone adored… even me.
With her bubbly personality, she reminded me of sunshine sparklingly on a dew covered meadow at sunrise. At first sight, she'd steal your breath away. Her features were classic but understated with elegance; she was more typical old school Hollywood glamour with her long heavy honey blond hair, mesmerizing hazel eyes that radiated with the pure bliss of life and a contagious smile that lit up my world. She was truly beautiful; not just on the outside but the inside too, where it mattered the most. I was her biggest fan and she was mine. I missed her funny laughter, and her silly jokes. I missed the regular Wednesday night ritual of settling in the family room with popcorn and root beer as we indulged our shared love for classic nineteen fifties movies.
Not one day went by that Natalie didn't cross my mind. She was always with me, whispering along the edges of my thoughts, teasing me and reminding me of what I had truly lost.
It was always the worst on holidays or the first day of a new school year. Hell, who was I kidding? It was horrible no matter what day it was. I should have been with her that morning, but instead I'd promised Kara I would ride the bus with her and Brandon on the first day of school of our freshman year. We had finally made it to high school.
At the end of my first period class, my name had been announced over the intercom to come to the office. I'll never forgive myself or that asshole who'd run the red light, T-boning Natalie's brand new, baby blue Volkswagen Beetle. She'd died instantly.
The noise in the room was loud, interrupting my thoughts and drawing me back to the present. It buzzed with a jumble of hushed excited whispers that sounded somewhat like the gentle roar of a pissed off beehive. Behind me, I could hear the twins, Miley and Mia Triton describing their three-week vacation to the Bahamas. I liked to refer to them as the Triton Terrors; rich, snobby first class witches who thought that their wealth entitled them to make everyone else miserable. Their dad was a surgeon, and I wanted so bad just to turn around and tell them to shut the fuck up. I wasn't jealous. Well, maybe just a little, but they didn't have to rub everyone's noses in it.
I was pretty sure I wasn't the only one who was sick and tired of hearing about how much money they had or how wonderful their life was. When I glanced over at my best friend Kara and rolled my eyes, she confirmed my suspicions by sticking her finger down her throat as if she were gagging. I smiled back at her.
Kara wore her blond hair streaked red just like mine; a bright, ass-kicking red that we constantly had to recolor since it faded after only a couple of weeks. Kara wanted so badly to be a Goth princess, but she didn't have the heart to give up her natural color. She reached up and tucked a wayward strand of straight hair behind her ear, revealing a glittering row of tiny white rhinestones piercings. Her face was heart-shaped with delicate brows arched over wide blue eyes, a button nose that was adorable, and lips that I'd swear were collagen injected if I didn't know better. She was all natural; sweet and loyal but she didn't take any shit. Those who were fooled by her appearance and all that sweetness soon realized she was as fierce as a lioness.
Her outfit was similar to mine. We both wore concert tees, holey jeans and flip flops. We'd talked on the phone for an hour last night finally deciding to downplay the dramatics of the first day of school and dress casually. We were seniors, so it didn't really matter. I hadn't cared either way, and it had taken my mind off the huge fight my mom and dad were having downstairs.
I admired the new tattoo Kara had gotten over the summer. It was a tiny pink and purple butterfly that peaked through the jagged hole in the leg of her faded jeans. The bright colors were startlingly visible against the tanned skin of her thigh. Her mom was way cooler than mine.
I mumbled to myself, "Thank God," when the bell finally rang! It was almost drowned out by the noise and frantic sounds of the shuffling occurring behind me. Those that were still standing were quickly rushing for their seats. The noise level dropped dramatically when Mr. Shilon walked into the room wearing one of his usual button-down oxford shirts along with a routine pair of sharply pressed khakis. Even his shoes gleamed beneath the fluorescent lights overhead which glared off the black patent polished toes of his loafers and his balding round head.
"Good morning,'" he said, and a loud snort came from the back of the class room. "Quiet, please."
Someone kicked my desk, and my pencil rolled to the floor before I managed to catch it.
"I trust we all had a great summer break," Mr. Shilon muttered, talking more to himself than to the rest of us. He knew we weren't really listening anyway. He closed the door then walked over to perch upon the corner of his desk, gazing out over the classroom. He reminded me of a hawk patiently awaiting the right moment to strike his unsuspecting prey.
"Now, it's time to get back to work." He reached behind him, drawing everyone's attention to the roundness of his stomach straining against his yellow and tan striped shirt. He picked up the sheet of crisp white paper, which was more than likely the new class roster.
I leaned down, my long hair brushing against the freshly waxed linoleum floor. The combination of my mango shampoo and the foul smell of the wax made me want to gag. My pencil had rolled into the middle of the aisle and was just beyond my reach.
I glanced over at Kara silently searching for help, but she was too busy texting on her phone; lost in the hearts and smiley faces she was exchanging with her long-time boyfriend, Devon. I stretched, finally managed to snag it, and quickly straightened in my seat.
Bryce Jackson was sitting behind me. He was Mia's boyfriend, jock and asshole extraordinaire. He kicked my seat once again.
"Stop it," I whispered angrily, throwing the words over my shoulder while keeping my eyes glued straight ahead. I didn't want an after school detention the first day back.
"Stop it," Bryce mocked. He acted like he was ten instead of eighteen. Then, he did it again just for spite.
I sat there gripping my pencil. It was miracle it didn't snap. He was just mad that I hadn't taken him up on his offer to screw him this past summer while Mia was away on vacation. One day while I had been waiting for Kara and Brandon, he'd cornered me at the park. Kara's boyfriend Devon worked, so it had been the three of us most of the time hanging out during summer break.
I thought of all the ways I'd like to murder Bryce, but chose instead to open my notebook and doodle his demise on the first page. It looked pretty good. Especially, the hangman's noose I'd drawn around his thick neck along with his bulging eyeballs ready to pop out of his head at any given second.
Mr. Shilon had already begun taking roll, and I raised my hand when I heard him call my name. The classroom door suddenly opened, and the room grew silent. "Come in," I heard Mr. Shilon say, but I was so focused on the drawing in front of me I didn't even bother to look up. "Class, we have a new student."
Only then did I glance in his direction with my pencil pausing in mid-air. When I saw him, it was as if the sun had finally poked its head out from behind a lingering gray cloud which had haunted me for the last three years. A hand slapped my arm hard, and I forced myself to look away and glance over at Kara.
She was dramatically fanning herself as if she were in the middle of the Sahara instead of sitting in an air conditioned classroom. "He's hot," she mouthed, and numbly I found myself nodding my head in agreement.
"Class this is Chase Logan. He recently moved here over the summer. Let's all make him feel at home," Mr. Shilon announced.
I turned my attention back on the new guy standing at the front of the room.
"Oh, I'll make him feel welcomed alright," Miley whispered, making sure that she said it loud enough for the whole entire class to have heard her. Miley Triton changed guys as often as she changed underwear. She wasn't shy when it came to getting something or someone that she wanted, which had secretly earned her the nickname of Slutty Miley, but no one ever dared to call her that to her face.
A few loud snickers arose from the class, followed by a couple of cat calls and, of course, the expected booing from the jock crowd sitting in the back of the room. Jealous sons of bitches! Mr. Shilon ordered everyone to be quiet.
The new guy would have to be deaf not to have heard what Miley had said, but if he did, he didn't let on and instantly scored points with me; not that he needed them anyway. Here was a guy who wasn't floored by the Barbie twin's perfection. Hell, every other girl in the room and probably even a few of the guys were thinking the same thing as Miley. Shamefully, I had to admit, I was just as bad as the rest of them.
"Take a seat anywhere," Mr. Shilon instructed.
As Chase turned and scanned the room, the harsh overhead light showed off a faint yellowish hue over the arch of his cheekbone. A fading bruise. It was almost nonexistent, but within the bright glare of the fluorescent lights and the way he'd cocked his head studying the room, I just happened to notice it. His gaze flickered across the faces staring back at him, and then he ran a hand through his thick black hair which brushed his shirt collar. It didn't seem to bother him that everyone was watching him. He was obviously deciding where he should sit. Then, his beautiful green eyes momentarily landed on me, or it might have been the empty seat in front of me.
A timid smile curved my lips. The pencil slipped unnoticed from my fingertips and landed on the desk. Heat instantly flooded my cheeks when I realized I was staring at him. Quickly, I glanced away, picking up my pencil before it ended up back on the floor. The intensity in his eyes was too much, and even though I hadn't been openly gawking at him, I was now aware of his every move.
Playing it cool, I resumed doodling and desperately tried not to look at him. I failed miserably. When our eyes met and held, the air was suddenly sucked from the room leaving me breathless. He walked toward me, and I gazed at him frozen in place, realizing that he was either going to sit directly in front of me or he would have to pass between me and Kara to find an empty seat.
I tried to concentrate, focusing on the lines I'd drawn on my paper, but that didn't work. When I looked up, he was standing directly alongside my desk. "Is this seat taken?" he asked in a gravelly whisper that immediately sent my pulse racing.
Whatever I'd been about to say froze in place on my tongue. Up close, he was even more potent. "It's empty," Kara said.
"Thanks," he replied, his gaze slowly drifting from mine to Kara's. Then he slid into the seat in front of me. The wonderful way that he smelled reminded me of clear days with bright blue skies and warm breezes laced with a hint of citrus and the subtle but manly smell of musk. His addictive scent teased my senses, kicking my heart into overdrive.
"No problem," Kara whispered, and when I glanced over at her, she was frowning at me. "What's wrong with you?" she mouthed, but I couldn't explain it. I felt hot and feverish. Maybe I was getting sick.
Someone poked the back of my arm with a sharp fingernail. It was Miley, who was sitting directly behind Kara, frowning at me. "Trade seats with me," she whispered, but when Mr. Shilon chose that exact same moment to start calling the names of students to help him pass out textbooks, I pretended that I didn't hear her.
"Shit," I mumbled. Now I had to walk past him. Kara was smiling at me when I stood, obviously aware of my thoughts and enjoying my discomfort. The textbooks were located at the front of the room, stacked in neat rows behind Mr. Shilon's desk. This was just great, I thought sarcastically as I walked to the front of the classroom feeling extremely self-conscious. I'd worn my best jeans today; the ones that hugged my ass and showed off my legs. They weren't long like Kara's, but they were tanned and toned and not too bad in my opinion.