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A Soul to Guard
Author's note: Music
I can only think of one word that is stronger than the word b**ch. But why use it to describe me? The hurt that overwhelms me sears from the tip of my tongue, to the bottom of my feet, as I find myself looking back into those eyes. Those eyes that used to be unfathomable pits of love, and now are just the opposite. How blue eyes can ever manage to look mutinous is beyond me, but they are in front of me now. The long lashes fringing the death cage unnecessarily, and I take a deep breath, feeling as if just issued a punch to the stomach. Pain overwhelms me as a tear falls from his perfect lashes and streaks the smooth cheeks, allowing one stream of silver in its wake. Although I am the one being hurt here, I instinctively feel my own eyes watering. How could I not, when I had never seen him cry before? Him the one that had always been the first to stop my crying with his thumbs, gently pushing away the salty fluid while whispering hidden promises into my unwilling ears, and yet here he was; dying in front of me, and I was the one hurting him. I knew it had to be me. Why else would such a perfect creature hate me? I had never spurned him once, and yet here he was, cursing me. Words overflowed unsaid on my tongue as I let my mind whirl. I had never been very good at standing up for myself, especially when I had obviously done something so terrible that would warrant a tear from the sun. My sun. It was like telling the stars that she had just done something awful to upset the moon. Of course you wouldn’t question if the stars had done something wrong in the first place, because the moon was so much out of their league in the first place, that her paying attention to the stars was huge, and so by anger, t he stars must have really blown it. You didn’t question it; just merely accepted it as fact. I tried not to gaze up at his face too much after that, but failed miserably. I was hurting him. Who cared that he had hurt me, what was a name when he was crying? I reached a finger up to flick it away, but moved to soon, without thinking. The slap came hard and fast, and I couldn’t help buy cry out after receiving the blow full in the face. Confusion crowded my face, and for once in my life I was filled with such a rage toward him, that I didn’t recognize myself. How dare he slap me? The question burned through my mind with such intensity, that I stopped for a split second, examining the new feeling surging through my body. Anger. I had never known anything like it, and yet here it was, hot and new, pushing through my body; urging to be unleashed. “No.” The word escaped noiselessly from my mouth, before I knew it, and then erupted again, time with fervor and power. “NO!” I clambered away from him, his perfect face twisting into sheer bewilderment, as if wondering where I had suddenly gotten the strength to stand up for myself. As if he was the proverbial lion, standing over the lamb, ready to come in for the kill, and yet suddenly the lamb bleats and runs away. I stood before him watching in dismay and horror at his face. Who was this creature that stood before me, and how had I not recognized him for what he was before? Anger took over his perfect jaw, and I watched as he flexed one perfectly toned bicep. Normally, I would have been petrified, the angry bruise that pounced on my face, stinging in the early morning air, took away all normality from me. I stood before him, my knees knocking dangerously together, and yet I would not back down; he had never hurt me, and in that instance he had knocked some sense into me. Tears formed in my eyes, and this time it had been him who had made them occur. I bit my lip, vowing anxiously to not drop one single tear in his presence, I would not stoop that low. I raised my hand, not quite sure what to do with it. Not even quite sure how to form a fist, let alone how to do much damage with it; but I found my fingers interlocking into some sort of fist- ready to throw a punch. A scoff appeared on his face, and I watched as he stepped toward me, daring me on as he turned one perfectly smooth cheek to me. “Hit me. I dare you.” His five words hit the air with little force, and yet the way they were spoken mocked me. My eyes narrowed and I tried to steady myself, trying to figure out where to hit. Slowly I pulled back my hand, and I could see it tremble as I tried to find a target. The profanity was whispered again, and in my rage, I hit him. I had wanted it to be hard and fast, something that would make him know that I wouldn’t take his trash. You know, in the movies where the innocent little girl finally gets to beat up the one who bullies her, but it didn’t quite end up that way. In my rage, I had tucked my thumb inside of my fist, and punched him, straight on the face. Not even leaving a mark, but breaking my thumb instead. Scorn appeared on his handsome face, as he looked down on me. Disdain etching lines onto his perfect brow, and the tears I had tried so hard to not show, poured unchecked down my pale cheeks… And that was when I woke up.
Sweat doesn’t drip from a body attuned to enduring marathons, and so in the same way pain should have at least given me the same grace, but no she was my best friend, and I was not exactly accustomed to her not so subtle cold shoulder. She was my best friend, and here she was with her-the skank in our grade, and for what? - To make me wish that I hadn’t gone with Jasper to New Port? I sighed, well if she could stoop the low to blow me off, then I didn’t need her. I squared my shoulders, and tried to place one foot in front of the other as I headed off toward chemistry, hoping beyond hope that Jasper would be here. I wouldn’t be able to stand Brittany’s blow off if he wasn’t here, somehow he made me feel relaxed and calm and in control. I staggered a little under the weight of my backpack but somehow kept my balance on the cool tile floor. I felt a hand slip under my slim frame, and shuddered, but then relaxed as I figured out whom it was. “Hi Jasper.” So much for practicing being cool and everything, my words slipped out eagerly and way to fast, as I dropped an arm as to let it rub against his fingers that enclosed my side. “Hey.” The voice was husky, and non-familiar. I tried to slide out of the grasp I found myself in, but it wasn’t working, and before I knew it, I was pinned up against the locker facing Jason Atwood, Lysonville High Quarterback, and one of the hottest guys ever, so he was accustomed to girls throwing themselves at him; but he was also accustomed too drinking way to much. This was the first time he had ever dared lay a finger on me though. I wanted to scream, but I became numb, my teeth chattering in my mouth so loud I was sure my jaw would pop as I tried to protest, but my pleas ended in one single weak shriek. “Shut up b**ch.” A hand covered my mouth as he worked to move his fingers from my side to my hips. My eyes began to roll backwards, and I tried to struggle, but coordination had never been one of my things. Frantically I bit his hand that covered my mouth, and then kicked him in the groin. Immediately he doubled over in pain, and I tried to step over him, but tripped, landing on top of him and sending my book bag flying. “I knew you’d come around.” His voice was low and husky, and before I knew it he backhanded me across the face, whipping the wind out of me, and leaving a bruise. I gasped in pain, and tried to move, but knowing that I would be stuck. Where was everybody? The halls were empty, and I guessed that class had probably started already. I had never been late before. I could hear Jason still groaning about getting hurt, and I tried to pick myself up, but found myself tripping again. Where was Jasper when I needed him, then I remembered, he wasn’t going to be at school today because he was going to be surfing in California. A tear dripped down my face, and I sent a silent prayer to God to save me, help me, anything. My right leg was cramped from Jason’s weight, and I knew within seconds he would turn his attention to me again, and that was when I remembered, the silver necklace Jasper had given me that was shaped like a locket, but didn’t open. “Squeeze this love, and I’ll be there, no matter what.” His words echoed in my head, and I lifted a hand to it, and squeezed. Please, I begged, wondering why at least a teacher didn’t find me. It was then that Jason remembered me, and shifted his weight, dragging me upwards into his arms, and down the hall towards the bathrooms, and that was when I blacked out. I awoke to the sound of fighting, and that was when I saw them. I lay in a heap on a floor, it was wet and smelled something awful. My world spun as I looked up at the two above me. Jason’s face was bloodied and he narrowly dodged a punch from my unseen hero…Jasper. I stared at him, his face black with rage as he hit Jason again and again. “Stop.” My voice came out in a whisper, and my head hurt. “Stop. Stop. STOP!” I shifted, and gazed up into their faces, as they stood frozen staring down at me. “Stop it Jasper. Stop it.” While I spoke, Jason took his leave, tearing from the room, and I sat there dazed, looking up into my beloved’s face. Before I could speak again, he was down on his knees, picking me up into his arms. “Don’t look in the mirror, we are going to get you through this okay? Just don’t faint, just look at me, okay?” I tried to stare into his beautiful eyes as his cool breath washed over my face, as he slowly began to walk. I could feel my eyes wandering though, as he reminded me again to look at him, and then finally cupped a hand around my chin. “Stay with me, okay? I’m so sorry.” “What?” My voice was rough and I tried to take a deep breath, but my throat killed. He opened the door, and it was then that people surrounded us. Some glanced at me, some glared, while others outright exclaimed, “Wow Jasper that’s awesome, scoring during class eh bud?” “Jasper that’s number what…?” The jokes followed us, and I could feel Jasper’s hands trembling, feel his rage as he carried me. “Just look at me. Don’t pay any attention to them you hear me?” His voice was rough, and his fingers tightened under my chin. A shiver shook my spine, and I tried not to move because it hurt to move. “What happened?” My voice was thin, and I could feel myself shaking despite my best attempts not to. I could see the pain in his eyes as he stared back into mine, and I couldn’t fathom what had happened. We stepped outside, and I could feel him visibly relax a little bit, but the intensity never left him. “That bastard tried to take you.” His voice was incredibly even, and I tried to understand what he was saying. Then it hit me: rape. I began to scream and cry, as every shake that my body emitted racked my body with pain. I looked into his eyes as I panicked, hitting at him with my hands and kicking my feet out as I screamed and cried, probably scaring the living crap out of him, but he calmly held me tighter, pulling me against his chest as if this was an everyday thing. I sobbed, my tears pouring down my face and soaking into the thin layer of shirt that covered his muscular body. I glanced down at my body, and noticed now why people had been glaring at me. My shirt was ripped, buttons were missing, and blood droplets littered my jeans, or what was left of them, as they too looked like a lion had tried to maul me. My tears grew more abundant as I looked at myself, shame filling me, and I tried to wriggle loose from Jasper’s hold, embarrassed that he had to see me like this. “Hold still...” He hissed, and then in an afterthought he turned his great big beautiful eyes on me, and inserted a, ‘…please,’ as well, but I couldn’t; somehow I was too far gone for him to have any effect on me. I continued to struggle, until he was forced to tuck my legs under his arm and sprint the remaining distance to his car. “Now will you please stop being so stubborn and hold still?” He questioned, opening the door, reclining the chair and laying me carefully onto the seat as if I was a fragile doll. I nodded, glancing up into his face and his shoulders dropped into a more relaxed position. Before I knew it, he was in the car, sitting beside me and we were cruising along the road. “What happ…” my question hung in the air as he abruptly shut me off, “Save your energy, try not to talk.” He warned, pulling a blanket from the backseat and somehow still managing to tuck me in with it while still driving, and maintaining a steady speed of lightening fast. “I’m going to take you to my house, where maybe Dowan can fix you up, you hit your head pretty bad, and I think that your still in a lot of shock and your ankle is broken.” His voice tensed as he listed my injuries, and I couldn’t help but ask a question. “Did he succeed in hurting me? What about you” “HURTING YOU?” His voice exploded into the air. “Hurting you? Do you think that I just list off those things as if they don’t hurt you, and yet you ask me still? He tried to rape you; he nearly succeeded… I almost didn’t get there in time, and just seeing that, that thing touching you…” His voice broke off, and I could hear him take a deep breath. A curse slipped into the air, and he suddenly looked over at me, compassion filling his eyes, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, I should be quieter, are you okay?” A hand gently touched my forehead, and then slid down to my chin, cradling it. “We’ll be home soon, I promise, and I’ll take care of him. You don’t need to worry, nobody will ever hurt you again, you got that?” I tried to nod, but my head throbbed with every movement. Concern etched itself into the fine lines of Jasper’s face, and I tried to say something to get our minds off what had just happened. “It’s okay…” I began, but I could hear a faint growl emit from his throat, and I knew I had started that sentence wrong. I prepared myself for him to give me another speech, but he held it in, and so I tried to start again. “I know that everything will be okay.” I said, trying to believe my own words as they hung final in the air. I saw him shake his head, and turn aside, facing once again the road, as he made a last second turn. I tried not to scream, his reckless driving habits never ceasing to stun and worry me. Nausea crept into my throat, and I tried to close my eyes, but it was too late, and then I was throwing up, somehow out the window, and he was cradling me. Anguish burned into his eyes as he spoke, “my fault love, I should have paid more attention to you, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.” His fingers squeezed into my sides, and I could feel the rush of his blood flowing through his pale fingertips as they bit into my flesh. I took a deep breath, and tried to lay still in his arms, daring to gaze up into him, his eyes a wreckage of sorrow and anger. “I’m thirsty.” I croaked, needing water to clear the bitter taste of bile from my tongue. Before I knew it, water was pouring into my mouth, and I was lying flat in the car again, speeding with him once more towards his house. The next thing I knew, we were pulling in, and he was cradling me in his arms as we walked up the steps. As soon as we entered, I could see his family sitting around a huge table, as if expecting me by the amounts of pillows they had on hand, and covering the table. “Dowan?” Jasper’s voice was dry and low, and suddenly everybody was moving, getting into action as I was laid onto the table. I felt like a new doll that everybody was suddenly interested in getting to know. “Jordan?” Dowan’s voice nestled in my ears, and I tried to relax as his ice-cold fingers touched my ankle. His cold hands felt so good around my ankle as they numbed the beating pain that overtook me like a knife. “Yeah?” “We’re going to give you a couple of shots to take away the pain, and then I’m going to set your ankle. You’re going to have to lie very still.” I nodded and closed my eyes. “Give her something to kill the headache too,” whispered Jasper. Good ol’ Jasper, always looking out for me I thought. A sigh escaped me, and then I was falling asleep. I awoke, not quite alert. In that place of semi-consciousness, where you can hear voices, but not quite talk. “Did anything happen to her?” Dowan’s voice was low, and severe. “No. Not that I came upon, though I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself from killing that bastard if he would’ve... It’s hard enough as it is to control myself; especially to think that he touched her!” Jasper’s voice was quiet and I could hear the anger mounting behind his words. A shiver chilled my spine as I tried to block out today’s events. “And why did he pick her?” “God knows why. Why does it seem like trouble is following her everywhere? It’s like she has a sign on her back, alerting all creepers to follow her.” His voice tightened, and I realized that I had been holding my breath. I sucked in air, and tried to speak, but a weight felt like it lay on my windpipe, instead all that came out was a cough. “Jordan?” I could hear his footsteps toward me, loud and clear on the perfectly spotless wooden floor. He laid a hand on my forehead, and I opened my eyes. “Well the headache’s gone.” He remarked, and I blinked. He never failed to astound me at how acute he could sometimes seem to read my mind. I tried a small smile, and he smiled back, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Can I move now?” “No need. Tell me where you need to go, and I’ll carry you.” “The bathroom.” A blush spread on my cheeks, and I lowered my eyes. I sat up, but way to fast, the world around me spun as if on an axis, and I could feel myself falling, but I landed into his arms. “As I said, let me carry you.” He lifted me once again into his arms, and before I knew it, he had set me in the bathroom. “Do you think you can manage?” He asked, complete seriousness filling his face. I nodded, but immediately proved otherwise, as I came down hard on my left ankle, tripping once again. “Oops.” The word slipped out of my mouth, and I prayed that he would just leave, so as I would not embarrass myself anymore, but he didn’t seem to take the hint. Slowly, he picked me up, and placed me on the toilet. “Now I am going to turn around, and you can do your business.” He promised, his voice especially soft and low. I blushed even deeper. “Can you stand outside the door, maybe?” I asked, and he complied, bowing slightly in his leave. I gingerly pulled at my jeans, and winced in pain as my ankle throbbed. I didn’t know how much more of this I could take. It was already one thing for him to be constantly trying to rescue me, but I felt like an infant not being able to do anything. I wasn’t being fair to him, he had to bend over backwards all the time for me, and I was consuming him. Somehow, I would have to let him go, though I didn’t even know the first place to start.
I could hear him humming above me, and I gazed up into his face. I had been crying, but I hoped that somehow he wouldn’t notice, I didn’t need him worrying about me any more than he had been. I lowered my eyes, and took a deep breath. I couldn’t do this anymore. I was a magnet for trouble, hadn’t he said that himself, the words tumbling through his perfect mouth? I wiped away the tears from my eyes as I gazed at him from my bed, nervously pulling at my covers.
I wasn’t sure how to do this: How to say goodbye to somebody I had loved this desperately, this intensely, but I knew I had to. I had to cut this off. I wasn’t sure I was strong enough, even though I knew I needed to be. But how strong can you be, when waiting for the imminent death of your heart? I crossed my fingers, and coughed, my signature move for getting a persons attention, and immediately he turned, smoothly walking towards me in fluid motion, none of the halting steps that I was liable to do. He walked so fast over to me and climbed onto the bed. He leaned his body over mine and without pausing held my head between his hands. His body was as ice-cold as the weather outside. When his lips found mine, everything felt normal. My mind started to ask so many questions, but I managed to block them out. There was only one thing that mattered now. My body started to shake, not just from the cold but from the touch also. There was a force behind the lips; I had never felt so much pressure. His hands slid down the curves of my waist and I broke away from the kiss. My breathing was irregular as his lips slid down my throat. My hands outlined the curves of his athletic body. Finally he looked at me, both of us trying to breath and stop shaking. There was no point in talking. He rolled over to the side and held me. I couldn’t cry even though there was tears in my eyes, I was to numb. After moments of silence he finally said, “What’s wrong Jordan, did I do something wrong?” His dark eyes burned into mine, and I was tempted for a moment to forget about the whole plan, but I knew I couldn’t. Instead I shook my head a silent, ‘no.’
“I need to know what’s wrong. I can feel there’s something you’re not telling me. If we are meant to be together than I need to know everything.”
I thought the sentence over and over through my head, before it rose to my tongue, the sheer effort of it killing me. “Then maybe we aren’t meant to be together.”
His voice broke, “You, you don’t mean that.” I tried to tear myself from his eyes…his face…his lips. How could I do this to him? Hadn’t he just saved me from unknown terrors? How could I pull an angel from the sky, only to trample him in the mud? A single tear fell from my eye, and I knew that before I could do any more damage I would be crying pathetically. But how else could I ensure that he would be okay? I loved him too much to be with him. I was dragging him down, and he couldn’t see that. I was the weakest link.
“Yes I do. It’s me. You- me, it’s not working out. I need to stop hurting you.” My voice came out in a whisper, and I couldn’t stop the tears that fell down my cheeks.
“And this isn’t hurting? Jordan, I never knew that a person could impact my life the way you have. The way I feel for you will never change, can’t you see that?” Of course I did, his love was the only thing that kept me going.
“You don’t belong with me, you belong with someone like, like Brittany.” I choked on the name as I said it. An image of her flitted into my mind; head cheerleader with her perfect platinum blonde hair, and name-brand clothes. She had been one of my best friends, but now…my thoughts grew interrupted at the sudden intensity of Jasper’s voice.
“I don’t want her. How the hell did she get in this conversation?” He started to raise his voice.
“If you don’t lower your voice, my mother is going to wake up and we are going to have bigger problems.”
“Yes. I do. I can’t be what you need.” The silence between us started to become unbearable. I looked away, the tears running freely down my face as I pulled my covers up higher. He took my hand and kissed it.
“I’ll always be there for you, but one day you’re going to wake up and wish you had the love that will last a lifetime, and I’ll be waiting for you.” With that said he walked over to the window. He looked back at me one last time and hopped out. After what seemed like hours, I finally broke down and sobbed, wishing back all my words, but knowing that it had to be for the best. But why did the best always seem to bring out the worst first?
I kept repeating to myself that this was going to be okay, that I had to do this to help him, but it was like my mind was rejecting my words. I hadn’t slept last night, the scene of Jasper saying goodbye kept flitting through my mind like a broken VCR set on repeat, I had cried until my head hurt and my throat felt on fire. I had cried myself dry until all I could do was lay on my bed and shake. It hurt to think about it, but I had to somehow try and talk myself out of this stance I had been in. But how do you suddenly accept the fact that you are no longer friends with someone whom you have known practically your whole life? I could still remember the first time I met him when I was 4 years old, eating snack in a new school for the first time. He had stuck a spider down my shirt, and I had kicked him in the balls. My daddy had always told me that if a boy tried to hurt me or scare me, I should always kick him there, a little self defense for my little girl, he had promised, tucking a flyaway piece of hair behind my ear for me. Jasper had cried for what seemed hours, and I had been made to apologize, and then had to talk to Mr. Winters, our teacher about it. A smile crept on my lips, and then disappeared as I thought about it. 12 years ago and so much had changed. Dad was somewhere, where I didn’t know. Ever since he had switched to the FBI I barely got to see him anymore, let alone talk to him. Occasionally he still sent packages, all of them with foreign stamps, and letters covered with, “I hope to see you soon, and I love you’s,” but letters could never fully replace being actively involved in my life, of course, when your parents are divorced it is hard to be fully active in your daughter’s life with shared custody. I sighed, thinking, and then of course there was the whole Jasper deal. My eyes burned with unshed tears and I lazily crawled out of bed, knowing that I didn’t have much time to make it to school this morning. I would have to ride the bus for the first time, seeing that before I had always been accustomed to riding with Jasper in his car. I hated this, and it didn’t help that my mother, being super paranoid about teens and driving, refused to take me to get my permit, and I was 6 months past my 16th birthday.
Minutes later I was dressed, pulling a brush through my dark hair, and forgetting makeup. I stumbled down the steps, noticing a note on the counter that mom had left.
‘Have fun at school. Don’t forget to eat breakfast. Supper at Denny’s at 6.’
I smiled, and grabbed a doughnut that she had placed beside the note, good ol’ mom, even though she was half psychotic sometimes.
The screen door slammed behind me, and tumbled down the flight of steps and landed on my butt on the sidewalk. As I said before, clumsy was my middle name. As I sat there, ankle throbbing, head beginning to hurt a red jeep pulled up. I glanced up, gazing into the face of Jason.
“Need a ride?”
My throat constricted, he was obviously drunk, and I really didn’t want to see him again. “No.” my voice came out in a whisper and I tried to stand up, but my ankle gave in, keeping me on the ground. “No, no, no.”
“Why don’t you get in honey? We can start where we left off.”
Panic bled through me, and I tried to scream, but only a whimper rose in my throat. When he turned off the engine, I thought I was going to die. You know how in the movies when the girl’s feet just kind of stay there, that’s how I was. A movement behind me, caught my attention, and I turned around. Clenching his jaw tightly stood Jasper.
“Go. Get in my car. Now.” Somehow, I managed to get onto my feet and limp to his car. His voice was hard, but somehow it calmed me down, like a sudden rain after a drought.
I listened as best as I could to their conversation, but only managed to catch bits and pieces. Jasper leaned against Jason’s car and said in the most menacing voice I had ever heard, “I swear, if you ever come near her, talk to her, touch or even breath around her, I will kill you.”
Jason didn’t even look scared, his smile just got bigger. “Oh, do you promise?”
Jasper just gave him a long look, and walked away, leaving Jason sitting there, a grin spreading from ear to ear. Disgust filled me, and rage. I felt like the princess who always needed rescuing from her prince. I didn’t want this life, I didn’t want Jasper to keep rescuing me, I didn’t want Jason to keep following me, the scream that I couldn’t produce before, rose to my tongue, and before I knew it I was screaming. Jasper reached the car, and took one of my hands.
“Why do you keep insist on running away from me?” He went straight to the question, no beating around the bush this time. I shrugged, but he wouldn’t buy it. “I’m not so stupid as to not tell when you’re lying to me.” I tried to glare up at him, but his eyes probed into mine, as if forcing my answer to my tongue.
“Life sucks, and mine just happens to suck a little more than anyone else’s. I’m glad you came when you did, I-I don’t want to think about what would have happened if you didn’t, but things like this just happen to me. It was my fault.”
He jumped up, and grabbed a hold of my shoulders. “Your fault?! Are you crazy? That disgusting son of a bitch tried to take advantage of you again, and you blame yourself? How do you figure that? Do you know how badly I want to hurt him?” His voice shook as is his fingers dug into my shoulder blades. I could see his lips trembling as he spoke. I tried to take a deep breath, but ended up choking. His eyes penetrated into mine, the storm clearly raging in them, and I began to speak.
“Jasper, there are a lot of things you don’t know about me. I’ve never told you about them because I wanted to save you from…I don’t know, the whole thing scares me so badly, but I guess I need to tell you now.” I took a deep breath, and continued. “My father as you know, is an FBI agent, and he has put away a lot of criminals. One of them was Jason’s father who was a murderer, and wanted on high levels of crime from countries around the world. Jason seems to think that he cannot rest until he has seen me through - one way or another, and many other people in the world believe that too. By getting me, they think that my father will fall for the trap and comply with any of their wishes, you know, national secrets, people going free from jail, money, you name it.” I bit my lip, and lowered my eyes, not being able to take the scrutiny of his gaze anymore. “But that’s not even the worst of it. Ever since I’ve moved here, I’ve gotten so much hate mail; death wishes, you name it. My father is going crazy, blaming himself, and ordering for me to move to California where he can keep me with him, or he’s going to send 2 security guards to come live with me. And now this…no one has ever taken a serious attempt on my life, or at least dared to touch me.” I started to shake again, and couldn’t continue. Suddenly I was folded into his chest with a crushing hug, his hands holding my sides pulling me to him.
“I won’t let anyone hurt me. I promise.” He promised in my ear. I tried to believe him, but I was too hurt.
“I’m sorry for pushing you away.” I murmured against his shoulder. “I’m sorry for not telling you before.” My apologies melted against his chest as his cold lips kissed my throat. I sighed, and pulled away, staring up at him. “How did you know I was here?” I questioned, awed at how he could always seem to find me so quickly.
“Um, I, uh, guess we are on the same frequency.” His voice sounded stilted to my ears, and I frowned. He sounded different, weird sort of. A laugh bubbled out of his throat, sounding in the silence, but sounding forced, fake.
“Jasper?” My eyes searched his face for some sort of reason behind his actions, but his face was suddenly devoid of whatever I had seen in it before. I blinked; maybe I was just seeing things.
“We better get you to school.” He mumbled, pulling the car into gear, and turning on a CD. Seconds later my favorite song came through the speakers, and I began to relax, almost forgetting the mishap that morning. Almost. We drove on, Evanescence’s, my immortal, ringing in my ears.
I tried to ignore the stares as I walked into school, but after about 5 minutes I was panicking. Words like, “hoe” whispered past my ears as I walked past groups of girls, while leers followed me from guys, suddenly seeing me for the first time. I could feel Jasper walking behind me like a shadow, and I made my way towards my locker. I stopped, 10 feet away from my locker, but still close enough to see the signs that were pasted onto it. Hoe’s don’t belong here. Go home. Wh***. Sl*t. I felt like I had been sucker punched in the stomach as I read them in their bright fluorescent colors, and in my best friends handwriting. Or should I say, ex-best friend. I promised myself that I wasn’t going to cry, people skirted past me, some laughing, some outright adding their own insults to my face as I stood there, my eyes still fixed on it, and then zooming in on a smaller note, ripped from a piece of notebook paper. I will get you honey. Honey. I knew I was going to throw up-Jason. It had to be. I recognized his handwriting. I took a wild step forward, half limping, half walking, and pushed myself to my locker, pulling the note off with as much force as I could, and ripping it into a million tiny little pieces. In my stupor I pulled off the others, and ripped them apart to, letting the trash slide through my fingers onto the ground. Hot tears flashed in my eyes, and savagely I yanked open my locker door. Hundreds of condoms fell out, and that was when I lost it. Before I could seriously hurt myself, I found myself locked in Jasper’s iron-hard grip, and outside. “You’re going home.” He said, firmness in his voice. In my numbness all I could do was agree stupidly as my tears fell. How dare they? How dare they? I watched as Jasper ran toward the school, promising to have this all taken care of in a minute. I sat on the hood of his car, profanities falling from my lips in my anger. Wasn’t it enough that I had already suffered enough pain? Why make me feel more? I wished that I were stronger so that I could just club somebody to get my anguish out. I bit my lip hard enough to make a drop of blood appear, only adding to my anger as it stung in the cold air. I watched as Jasper faded from my vision, and I tried to fill him with my thoughts instead of my miserable life. How someone so utterly perfect had found me, was completely beyond me. How had he picked me, when there were so many Brittany’s in the world? I glanced down at my brown fingertips…let alone pick a girl from another race. It felt so odd for me to be with a white boy, not that I thought different of him for it, but because of the status that would give him. So many people said we were over the whole racial thing, but I could still feel it. I remember the looks people gave us when he said hi to me for the very first time. I thought he was crazy, standing by my locker with this big smile on his face, like I was the sun or something. I had rolled my eyes, and quickly turned my back to him, but he had turned me around, with an, “Pretty girls should still need to make new friends.” Nobody had ever called me pretty before except my dad. A smile slipped onto my lips as I remembered, and then there he was before me. “What are you smiling at?” A blush grew on my cheeks, and I was thankful that I was dark so he couldn’t point it out, but somehow he noticed it anyways. “You’re blushing,” he added, as if having to state the obvious. “I know. I was remembering what an annoying jerk you were when you stood by locker that one day, remember?” He smiled. “Well, I’m glad that I can at least make you smile. I wish I didn’t make you cry as well.” His voice was serious, and I glanced up at him. Apparently he had noticed when I was crying about him after he left, but how had he known that? I slid off the hood of the jeep, and hobbled to the door, and sat down, struggling with my seat belt. “You’re all clear to go home Jordy.” His nickname for me, made me smile again, for a second erasing all thoughts of school and lockers. “Thank you.” I whispered, and gazed out my side window. I felt like I had been in his car an awful lot lately. I tried to keep him on my mind, and it wasn’t hard to. His scent filled the car like a drug. I took a deep breath, letting him fill my senses, and then asked the question that had been bugging me ever since school. “That was Jason’s note on my locker, wasn’t it?” I saw his hands tense on the wheel, and his jaw flex as he stared out the windshield. “Don’t try to hide anything from me, please Jasper, I need to know.” I could tell that he wasn’t going to tell me as he quickly said, “Thank god for no homework today.” “Stop changing the subject Jasper Dunn Howard, if we are going to be all honest with each other, than you need to tell me.” “Than maybe we aren’t meant to be.” His voice was strangely low, and I stared at him in shock. He was using the exact same phrase I had, and I tried not to gasp out loud, as the words made connection. I couldn’t believe how much such a little phrase could hurt. My mouth opened with a little popping sound, and I lowered my head, feeling as if nothing else could make my day any worse. “Jordan.” His voice echoed in my thoughts, but I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing down my cheeks. “Jordan…. Jordan, don’t do this. Talk to me. I just, I can’t tell you right now, okay?” I knew he wanted me to tell him that I forgave him, but I was tired of this. He always expected me to tell him everything, or call him whenever I was slightly afraid, but he never opened up to me. Man, I barely knew anything about him. We had first been friends at 4, but my family had moved a lot, and so the things I did know about him, I had learned recently since we had moved back. I looked up at him, and he moved a hand off the wheel, to try and wipe away my tears, but I jerked away. “Something’s different about you.” I began, pieces suddenly clicking in my head. “You know things, you find me when I’m hurt or about to be hurt…even before I press this, this necklace thing you gave me.” I stared at him, trying to gauge his reaction, but besides a tightening of the jaw, nothing changed. “It’s like you have me on some kind of leash…” my voice broke off, “it’s like you’re my dad almost, finding people that are in trouble…it’s like I have a…” Horror masked my face, and I pulled off the necklace that was around my head, and rubbed my fingers over it. “…Tracking device.” I didn’t know whether to scream or to hit him as he suddenly pulled off the road, and looked at me, his eyes filled with hurt, and compassion, and, and anger. “Jordan.” His voice broke as he said my name, but I was too furious. “You USED me? I FELL IN LOVE with a SECURITY GUARD that my FATHER HIRED? And you KISSED me! Or did you use me for that too? What did my father tell you? Steal her heart so that you can keep her safe without having to back up your reasoning? Are you even a teenager, or did you get some plastic surgery done for that to?” My temper rose as I continued shouting at him, way past mad, pissed was more the word you would use in these types of situations. I glared at him, wanting to hate him, but somehow finding that I couldn’t. Sure I was mad at him, pissed beyond recognition, but somewhere deep down, I knew I still loved him, or did I fall in love with a fake? Hot tears poured down my face, and I tried to open my door, but he locked it. I turned and glared at him, watching as he stared back into my face. “Let. Me. Go.” I ordered, trying to reach over him to unlock my door, but he held me away, his fingers enclosing over my small wrists. I bit my lip so hard that it bled again, splitting the wound from earlier, but I didn’t care. “I. Hate. You.” My words fell into the air with venom, and I watched as he struggled to maintain his calm composure, but not before I noticed his sudden intake of breath, and narrowing of eyes. “I know my dad can hear you, somewhere. What do you have, a walkie-talkie?” I mocked, and then noticed a small clear thing in his ear. “DADDY! Tell your man to get off of me!” I screamed, and instantly, I was released, falling backwards into the door. I watched as Jasper leaned forward as if almost instinctively to catch me, but then thought better of it. “Let me out.” I tried again, but he still didn’t budge. “Jordan.” His voice was stern, the brokenness gone now. “What?” My voice was sharp, and cold. I didn’t know I could sound so mean. “I don’t want you here. Can you just leave me? Take me home please?” He looked at me for a long moment, and started the car, but then killed it as if reconsidering my suggestion. “I never meant to hurt you.” I coughed, and rolled my eyes. “Leave me alone.” “Sorry, can’t.” His voice was monotonous, and I could see the hurt in his eyes, but I didn’t care. He had led me on, saved my life for the purpose of my father, made me fall in love with him to use me and gain my trust…I choked as I thought about it, my tears drying on my shirt. “So, what is going to happen now?” I didn’t mean to ask the question aloud, but it slipped past unchecked. “I get sent back to some other duty. I’m to hot here.” He murmured, and I glared at him. How dare he? How dare my father? I turned onto my side, and glared out the window, hoping to God that this was all a bad dream, but it wasn’t. “Jordan, before you shut me up again, please…” His voice broke off, and I saw him grab his ear bud out and turn it off for a second. “Nothing that I did, or said changes, I meant everything I ever did.” I laughed aloud, the sound not quite right, but bubbling out of my mouth all the same. How dare he tell me that he meant all those things, when he was being paid for them, let alone told to do them? I’d bet money that he was hearing voices in his head telling him when to kiss me, or when not to. Disgust and rage filled me, and I turned my back to him. “Please, just take me home.” I whispered again. He started the engine, this time rolling onto the highway, and started back the way we had come. I could feel him looking at me several times as we drove, but I didn’t bother to look back. Somehow I couldn’t help but think that this was the worst day of my life. Not only had I lost my best friend, my reputation, my love, my trust, but my boyfriend and life as well.
(So, what’s worse? Knowing that you should hate him or knowing that you don’t?)
We rode the rest of the way in silence; all the while I laced and unlaced my fingers together. How could this be? Every kiss, every look, every hug a mistake. Anger mounted in my heart and soul, and I couldn’t help but feel cheated. Tears no longer coursed down my face, and all I could do was stare blankly out the window at the scenery, although the scenes didn’t connect with my mind. A little part of my brain reasoned that I couldn’t completely blame it all on him, that my father partly shared in the blame as well, but I ignored it. He had stolen my heart and handed it back in thousands of unfixable pieces. My dad had always told me that I should be careful to whom I would give my heart…little did he know how right he was. As much as I tried to take my mind off of him, his scent filled the car as the heater turned on, and all I could seem to remember were the things I wanted to forget. Jason, Jasper, school, my locker, Brittany. With my thoughts little sentences that Jasper had spoken before seemed to click now. “…I don’t care about Brittany…. I guess we are on the same frequency…I will always protect you….” I could feel my hands clenching and unclenching in my lap as we drove, and it was all I could do to keep them in my lap. Questions burned through my mind, and finally I turned to him, brushing my hair from my face as to see him better.
“How old are you?”
“17.” His voice sounded tired, as if he had aged within the last minutes.
“What is your real name?”
“Jasper Howard.” I could see a frown slip onto his perfect lips. With his answer came more pain, how could he have done this to me? How? He of all people should know, that I hated deceit and yet he had blatantly ignored that. Why had my father turned my own friend against me? I bit my lip to keep from cursing, and asked another question.
“When you first saw me at my locker…you were assigned to me weren’t you?” My voice trembled as I thought of it, the first friend I had made in a new school, had proved to be fake.
“Yes.” I could see his jaw tighten, but I pressed on, needing the answers.
“When you asked me out, you were told to ask me out weren’t you?”
“So every kiss, every hug, every word of love and affection you were TOLD to say? And not only that, but everything I said was heard and recorded through you, because you were probably being echoed all over kingdom come because of your status, wasn’t it?” My voice was growing louder, and my breathing began to grow ragged, but I couldn’t stop myself. “I believed in a lie. You told me that you loved me, and yet you lied to me? Wasn’t it you that told me that honesty and trust were the keys to every relationship? Or was that just a way to get me to tell you more things?” My voice cracked, and I could no longer look at him.
“Jordan. Please, don’t do this. Listen to me.”
“Listen to you? I think I’ve done more than my fair share of listening.” I stated. Minutes passed and I heard profanities I had never thought would come out of his perfect mouth, as he continued driving. “Jordan.” His voice was back to professional, all business like. “You can’t let your emotions rule you, listen to you.”
“Emotions?” My voice turned into a shriek. “EMOTIONS? I thought I loved you, I let you have my heart, and you broke it, and now you tell me not to be emotional. Well, let this be an emotion for you, you self-centered, deceiving piece of shit. I. Hate. You.” His face paled, and then instantly regained composure, I saw him open his mouth as if to speak, but then he closed it. Slowly he picked up the ear bud that lay on his lap, and stick it into his ear once more.
“Yessir, sorry, I had a momentary problem…no, it is all fixed now. Yes, Midnight is flying.” I saw him dare a glance at me for a second. “No sir, she’s quite alright…no sir, I’m aware of the dangers and I’m prepared to deal with them…. Yessir, I understand…I will be leaving at the end of the week. Yessir.” I couldn’t help but overhear his conversation, and I slouched in my seat, impatient to get home.
“So you’re leaving?”
“Yes, at the end of the week.”
I counted the days on my fingers. 3 days. I pressed my lips together, I should be ecstatic to get rid of him, after all, he had brought nothing but trouble to my life, but somehow my heart couldn’t help but complain about it.
Minutes later, we arrived at my house, reluctantly Jasper unlocked my door, and I crawled out, hate still quite clear on my face. Hesitantly I walked up to the door, and tried to open it, but it was locked. Then I remembered, I was supposed to eat at Denny’s that night. I glanced at Jasper still sitting in the car, and I couldn’t help but see the shadow of a smile appear on his face, as I stood there, and then trudged back to his car. As soon as I reached his car, and was safely strapped in, he began driving.
“Where are we going?” My voice was loud and panicky. No response. “Jasper Dunn Howard, where are you taking me?” Still no response. I twisted my hands in my lap, and glared at him, how could he possibly annoy me so much? Somewhere in the depths of my heart, I found this rather exciting, and knew I still loved him…but that knowledge lay too deep in my heart for it to make a difference at the moment.
I dozed in and out for the next hour, and when I awoke, I found myself sitting in the car in the middle of the woods, Jasper nowhere to be seen. I rubbed at my eyes, and glanced at the clock. 4:23, but it was really dark, and I could see that a storm was definitely coming. I shuddered, and wrapped my arms around me, trying to warm myself up. Where was he? Not that I really cared, but I didn’t really care for being left alone in the middle of the woods, with a storm coming. After five minutes, I began to get worried and unwillingly unbuckled my seat belt, and opened the door. Dangit Jasper, know I had to look for you. I took a step, gingerly, trying to balance my weight on a bad ankle, and somehow found to my surprise, that I could walk, or at least limp, without too much pain. I checked my watch, 4:30, and tentatively took steps into the woods. I would look 20 minutes, but that was all I would look.
It was dark, and cold, and rain began to fall, dampening my thin sweater, and chilling me. I always hated the cold, was terrified of the dark and rain didn’t really help me when I was already cold and frightened. In my fear I began to shout Jasper’s name, he had to be around here somewhere, right?
“Jasper!” No answer, I wondered if he was mad at me because I had told him that I hated him, but I had every right to hate him, didn’t I? I rolled my eyes, and continued walking. “Jasper…Jasper!” My teeth began to chatter, and the rain fell harder, bouncing from the tree branches onto my thin frame. I took a deep breath, and glanced around. The woods had always scared me, and today was no exception. With no leaves, they looked haunted, and I pulled my arms tighter around my body, my fingers shaking in the cold. I looked at my watch, trying to see the time…5:00. I turned around, I had spent too much time looking for him as it was, and I was cold, wet, tired, scared and angry. How dare he make me look for him? I needed to get back to the car. But where was back? Anxiety tightened in my throat, and a shiver raced up my backbone. Instinctively I reached for the necklace that was laced around my throat, but my empty fingers found themselves closing around emptiness. In my anger, I had dropped the necklace on the floor of Jasper’s car. I slammed a hand into my forehead. How could I have been so stupid? Tears blurred my vision. I was tired of crying, but it felt like that was all I was good at anymore. I was cold, my ankle hurt, I was wet and tired, and now I was lost as well. I took a step, trying to find myself back in the darkness and cold. Minutes passed as I stumbled on, tripping over roots and leaves, but always picking myself up and continuing. My eyes closed momentarily as drowsiness seemed to overwhelm me, I stopped for a second, resting my back against a tree. Rain fell on my head, cascading down my hair and cheeks and then dripping into puddles at my feet. Mud caught at the hems of my jeans, and pulled me down into the souse earth. I wiped a hand across my face, and tried to breathe, but I was too tired. Thunder rumbled the ground beneath me as I stood there, my face uplifted towards the heavens, mouth opened to catch the raindrops that wettened my tongue. Lightening flashed before my eyes, bigger and brighter than I had ever seen it before. A scream rose in my throat, but it never went heard. I was falling, fragmented images and little spots of light dancing before my eyes…A tree cracking in half…branches…lightning…and then everything went dark.
My leg was cramped, light rain fell through the shrouded forest, and I was stiff. I tried to talk, but my lack of water tightened my throat, letting no words drip from my lips. I swallowed, trying to wetted my parched throat, but it was of no use. Darkness enfolded the forest like a curtain, and I whimpered, ghostly shadows flitting through my vision. I glanced up into the night sky, small beacons of light casting miniscule amounts of radiance in the deadened forest. I couldn’t stop shivering and shaking, my clothes thoroughly soaking as they clung to my body. My teeth shattered loudly, and I couldn’t help but wonder if I would die from hypothermia.... or if some wild beast would find me. I sat up, my leg still pinned under half of the tree that I now lay in front of. I tried to push it off of me, but couldn’t manage, the brute of the weight pinning me down. I sat there, frightened to the bone, helpless to do anything but A-cry, or B-sit there and wait...wait to be rescued...wait to die. So I settled to do both, and it didn’t help that I had to pee. I managed to make my watch glow, and I read the time. 8:47, my mother must be worried as hell. I tried to shift my weight, but found that my butt was asleep, and the extra movement did not help my bladder situation. I had to pee really badly, but I wasn’t exactly accustomed to peeing my pants at the age of 16. I swallowed again, and then opened my mouth, trying to catch water and dampen my throat so that I could at least yell. Horror stories filled my head, of murderers and other creepy guys that wandered forests alone at night, devouring their prey, or at least making the prey wish they were dead. Chills ran up and down my arms, and I couldn’t help but scare myself as I looked around at every shadow, and heard every sound. Why had I watched scary movies again? Oh right, because Jasper loved them...Jasper. The name caught in my throat, and I couldn’t help but curse him. He was the one who had gotten me into this mess in the first place. After 10 minutes I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I have to admit, I pissed myself. When you are already wet and miserable, not much can beat a little bit of warmth running down your legs, as disgusting as that sounds. At least I couldn’t smell it...yet. I swallowed again, and tried to yell, but what do you yell? I didn’t exactly know if there was a search party for me, and I couldn’t exactly say that I was looking for Jasper, so I started to scream, “Help” the only logical thing that seemed to fit. “HELP! HELP!” My voice was weak at first, but seemed to warm up as I began to put it into exercise. My screams ricocheted in the night air, and I tried to keep screaming, but thirst overwhelmed me, immediately shutting me up…saliva really doesn’t help much when you are thirsty and can feel the rain, and hear streams running nearby, but cannot possibly reach it. I lay there, staring blankly at the dark forest, and tried to wait, my butt growing anesthetized by the second. I wanted to sleep, but dared not close my eyes, for fear of what could happen in the night. Hours passed, and I waited, until sometime in my stupor, I heard footsteps, and then a light, shining in my face. I looked up, fear tightening my throat, what new form of hell could this be? But it was Jasper, his face pale and anxious.
“Jordan…” His voice came out like a whisper, and suddenly he was pushing the log off of me, and I was in his arms. Kisses feathered my forehead, and I could hear his voice speaking to someone. “Yes, I’ve got her…um, let me check…” His cold fingers raced along my vitals, checking my head, my arms, my legs for injuries. “She’s cold, blankets would definitely be good, and she should probably go to the hospital.” He placed a hand under my head, and continued, “her ankle’s broken, but that was from before, other than that her leg should be looked at. I found her pinned under a tree…yessir…I will be right there.” Within minutes, he had us out of the forest, and men I had never seen before except one suddenly surrounded me.
“Daddy?” My voice broke, as I strove to see him amidst the searchlights, and the flashing lights from the ambulance. Within seconds he was by my side, holding me in his arms.
“It’s okay honey, I got you.” Compassion floated in his eyes, but I could see the hidden rage beneath them. “You lie still now, and be a good girl for daddy, okay?” He talked to me like I was three, but I didn’t mind. He was here. I managed a slight nod, and then I was being placed on a stretcher. People blurred past me, and I struggled to keep awake, as I heard my father’s angry voice behind me.
“…I gave you one order: protect her at all times. That was the only thing I asked, and I come here to find this? My daughter, not only has a broken ankle, but a broken leg as well? How do you explain this? You told me you had it all together, that you didn’t need another guard.” His voice was low and deadly soft.
“I know sir, I…”
“You WHAT? You broke a direct order, and it was a simple one: Protect her. You could have kept her in house arrest if that’s what it took, but no, this occurs.’
“Sir, she’s your daughter. You don’t pen her like an animal, she needed to be free.” Jasper’s voice was determined, and I tried to look at them, but couldn’t quite turn that far.
“Don’t try to teach me how to raise my daughter. My goal is to keep her safe, not have her bleeding like a dog like you have. You’re dismissed.”
“I’ve made my decision.”
“Sir, you don’t understand her…”
“Like you do? If you truly understood her, you would’ve never used her like you did, you would have kept her safe at all times, and you didn’t.”
I could see my mother pacing worriedly outside of my room, and I rolled my eyes, wasn’t my night already long enough? I glanced around my room, trying to find something besides the immaculate whiteness of everything, but failed. It was utterly absurd that they were insisting on keeping me overnight, it wasn’t like I had hypothermia or anything, though I was still shaking and I had been here for over an hour. I gripped my fingers lightly to the cool bedrail, and braced myself as I saw the door slowly opening. It was mom…. and dad. I bit my lip; they were never together. Hate was too strong of a word in their case, but they couldn’t last a minute within each other’s presence without fighting. Their angry words bit into the silence of my room.
“…If you hadn’t taken that stupid job, this would have never happened.”
“If you would be half the mom you were supposed to be, she would’ve been home, safe with you.”
“So, now you are going to blame it on my parenting skills? If I remember right, you were the one who was always half way around the dang earth for months if not years at a time.”
“You could’ve gone with me.”
“And done what? You cannot raise a child, when you move every month to some new spot.”
“And since when can you raise children, when they end up like this?”
Their argument circled in the same pattern that it seemed to take every time. I raised my head, and tried to pretend like I didn’t know them, though it was hard when they were the only ones standing outside my door. The handle opened, and my mom came in, slamming the door on my father’s face. Her blonde hair was flying every which way out of her messy bun, and she looked tired. I could tell that she had come straight from work, because she still wore a skirt and a blouse. She worked as a secretary for B&I Models, though at 38, she was plenty pretty enough to work as a model herself.
“Darlin’,” her voice came out in a southern twang, like it always did when she was upset. “I’m so sorry, I came as fast as I could.” Within seconds her arms were wrapped around me, and before I knew it I was crying again. “Aww, love, don’t cry, I’ve got you now,” she cooed, which only made me cry all the harder. If only she knew what I had been through, but I didn’t dare tell her, it would only make her problems with my father all the worse. Tears flooded my vision, and I buried my head into her soft shoulders, my body convulsing with rage and pain. Rage at my father, at Jason, at Jasper…and pain, because I had believed in a lie, I had trusted and they had acted as if it was nothing. “There, there,” my mothers hands rubbed circles onto my back, and I ached to open up to her, to tell her everything, but I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let her share in my agony and nightmares, I needed to be strong, to protect her from…from my pain. We sat there, me intertwined in her embrace, her rocking me back and forth like I was two, until I fell asleep, but I was disturbed by nightmares. More than once in the night, I awoke, screaming, or gasping for air. At one point, I started yelling for Jasper, and even when I was awake, his name kept pouring from my lips like liquid fire.
“He’s not here darlin’,” mom’s voice was thick with sleep, and I stared at her, bewildered.
“Where am I? Where is he?”
“Shhh, honey…” I flinched as she used the word, which flitted through my dreams. Honey. Would I ever be able to hear that word again, without thinking of the horrors that it implied? The poor excuse of a slip I wore to bed was wet with my sweat, sticking to me like a shadow. I ran a limp hand through my hair, and tried to shift my weight from my side to my back. Pain seeped from my leg, why I had to break one leg, and break the other ankle was beyond me. Couldn’t the injuries at least have been on the same leg? I fell back against the cot, and gazed out the window, watching the stars twinkle from their far off galaxies. How I wished I could live like that, somewhere far away, shining brightly in the dark, but luck was not really with me. I thought about the past week. Luck if anything, out right avoided me. Sleep melted my brain, and before I could begin to think again, I fell once more into a fitful sleep.
Jaspers POV Her voice still rang through his head, as he tried to sleep. No matter how much he tried to erase her from his mind, all he could remember was her, and the way she looked when she found out who he truly was. The words she had spoken to him flitted through his mind like a CD stuck on repeat. “I. Hate. You…. you deceiving piece of s**t…. go away…leave me alone…” Profanities burst from his lips, chilling the air with words that should be kept locked in the dark. A hand crashed through the wall by his bed, his punches echoing in the air as he sat up, anger mounting in his chest. How could he have been so stupid? Hadn’t her own father said that he couldn’t possibly care for his daughter after what he had done? A thousand apologies couldn’t make up for what he had done. Not only did she have the nightmares of Jason to live with but also his own despicable deed. Jason. The word brought bile to his lips, and rage to his cheeks. He would kill him if it were the last thing he did. His hands calmed, and moved to his lap as his decision was made, but what about Jordan? He opened his left fist and gazed at her necklace lying stark across his palm, a constant reminder of what he had lost…what he had never truly attained in the first place. He couldn’t erase the memory of her eyes, hauntingly dead when he found her in the woods, and the way she had her arms wrapped herself, as if trying to hold herself together. He could still remember the chill of her skin against his, and the mud that streaked her face. He bit his lips, trying to hold back words that came from his earlier life, a life he didn’t even want to begin to remember, and yet, here in his despair it all came back, seeping through the walls of time that he had tried so hard to keep up… He hadn’t always been Jasper Dunn Howard, not until 5 years past anyway, before he had been Jasper Knave. Knave- what a name to give your child, wasn’t it bad enough that he lived in a shack, with barely enough food? Why add the shame of such a name as well? His father was drunk and abusive all of his childhood, if you looked close enough at Jasper’s back, you could still see the scar from a broken bottle that had served as a whip one night. He still remembered that night well, for it was the night that he ran away for good. Oh, there had been the countless times he had run away before, but he had always been found…he shut his eyes as he remembered his father’s rages after being found one night. Words echoed through his head, as he remembered the beatings, the words... “No good bastard of a son…” Even with all these years, the words still rang in his head and brought him pain. His hands gripped the sides of his bed as he sat there, remembering… His father’s hands grabbed him by the hair, jerking him back into the house as Jasper struggled, knowing what was to come. Curses flew in the air, as his father’s hand came down again and again onto the little boy, each blow bringing more pain than the one before. Unconsciousness blinked in Jasper’s eyes, as he tried to stay awake, but it was too late. A broken bottle flew through the air, ripping into his little back, and scraping his arms. His scream erupted into the air, and he ran, finding the strength to scream, let alone run was miraculous. His pace quickened even more as the darkness drew near him, clouding his mind and leaving only one though: Run. His bare feet pounded the ground and mud splattered up on his pale legs. Trees surrounded him and he closed his eyes tightly. It took all of his strength not to collide with the passing trees. They towered above him reminding him constantly that he was stuck, trapped in this woods he had grown to love... He opened his eyes, letting the memories fade from his mind. He was safe now; a lovely family had adopted him. He smiled as he pictured his mother rocking him to sleep when he was afraid. But he was 17 now; he was doing okay, although he wouldn’t have minded at that moment, if his mother wanted to rock him right now. Somehow he had convinced his parents that joining the FBI as an undercover agent was the best idea. His father had actually given him the idea, seeing that his father was already one of the best agents out there. He was glad his father hadn’t been there tonight. Chagrin filled his face, and he could feel his fists tighten around the steel beam around his bed, letting his pale fingertips run over the cold steel. He closed his eyes briefly, and took a deep breath. He had only himself to blame for letting things get so out of hand, he tipped his head up, and gazed out the skylight at the stars. How he wished he were one of them right now, to be far away from the mess that he had created. Jordan. The name echoed in his mind, and he was once again crushed with what he had done. “I’m sorry,” the words slipped out from his perfect lips, and a single tear fell from his eyes. He thought about what would need to be done once he left. She would move on. She would have to. Most likely, her father would all up and move her to Italy or Rome…anywhere out of the states. She would have to make new friends, learn new customs, and be assigned new bodyguards. His fingers locked around the bed rail, and it took all of his strength not to curse. He should have been enough to protect her. He loved her, or was it really love? Had he eluded himself into thinking that he could care for her, when in fact he was using her as well? What was that line from long ago? Love is patient; love is kind…it is not self-seeking. He bit his lip, and did something he had not done since he was a little boy. He closed his eyes, folded his hands, and prayed.
It had been a week since he had left. A week and 3 days since I had actually last talked to him, if talk is what you can dare to call it…fragmented images of his face in the car when I had told him I hated him. I had meant it, in a way. But how do you hate something, which has taken over your life? And why now was I remembering all of this? I tried not to remember that, and instead tired to pay attention to the teachers lecture. I tried, I really did, but it was hard…I could feel my brain loosing again into the memories.
Tomorrow I would be assigned two new guards; it was either that or move…again…and something about starting, as a sophomore in a new school in the middle of the year didn’t really please me at all. A sigh escaped my lips, and I looked up at the teacher, her voice moving with words that didn’t connect together in my head.
Chemistry; my worst period of the day. It didn’t help that I was missing him…missing his smell, missing the way he would dance his fingers along my neck causing me to laugh, or having his cool breath wash my face as he patiently explained the homework to me. I sighed-loudly, I shouldn’t be thinking of him, and yet he was all I could think of. I still felt the hurt that he didn’t trust me, but it was worse now that he was gone. I wanted him here, funny how that sounded in my mind, when mostly all I could think of was how he had lied. It was like some part of me had died with him when he left, the part that was funny, and mischievous, and could smile. I awoke from my stupor to finding all eyes on me. I must’ve been asked a question, but it was then that I noticed a sound…like somebody crying and not being able to stop. I looked around, wondering where it was coming from, until I noticed tears dripping onto my desk. It was from me. Chagrin filled my face, and I stood, briefly for a second, and then dashed out into the hallway to the bathroom.
The bathroom; my sanctuary away from home. Where was Jasper when I needed him? I fingered the necklace I wore, finding it different and, and utterly wrong from the silver one that Jasper had given me. Words flew unchecked through my brain as I cried. Who was I? I used to never cry, or was I always being wrapped around the whole, ‘tough girl image?’ I sobbed, letting my pain go, letting my anger and rage and at last my love for a fake go. I needed to find strength, in what I didn’t know. My hot tears faded into my shirt, and I couldn’t help but miss how Jasper would wipe them away with his thumbs as he pulled me into his shirt. Let him go. The voice in my head was soft but clear, and I sighed. I knew I should, but I couldn’t. It’s like I had become attached to him, take him, and you take a part of me, but I knew I couldn’t sit around and mope all my life. I needed to be able to mourn healthily, or at least differently. I stood up and dusted my butt off, determination filling my features. I would go out and live, or at least try as much as a girl with a lost soul could. And I would cooperate with the guards, maybe even try and live a little. “Yes.” The word slipped of my tongue with fierce determination, and I looked at myself in the mirror. My eyes were red, and the tearstains were barely visible on my dark cheeks, but I looked confident. Confident- something Jasper had taught me about, funny how I seemed to lose all of my confidence whenever he looked at me, or touched me…and especially now that he was gone. I sat on the cold tile floor, resting my head on my knees and wished to God that he were back, even though part of me still reeled in disgust from him.
I pushed myself away from the mirror, and made myself walk the few feet to the door. Class would’ve been over by now, but somehow I didn’t care. My cares had vanished with the one I had poured them one. Jasper. His name no longer left a bitter taste in my mouth, but in my heart. I missed him, even though he had hurt me, tore past every one of my walls to break my heart. I refused to cry; I wasn’t going to cry over something that I couldn’t change. Couldn’t love…even though I did. I ran a hand through my mirror, and took small shuffling steps to the door. Outside laid a world where emotions ran rampant, and people were cruel. With one push of my hand, I would welcome that world, and I would paste a plastic smile on my dark lips and try to blend in. That is what I would focus on: blending in. I would make it somehow. He would’ve wanted that. Memories filled my wandering mind of the countless times we had had together. The whispered I love you’s. He had always told me that he loved me more…enough to hurt me this way? I blinked, willing myself not to think about it, and pushed open the door, the slight breeze awakening the scents of the bathroom. Disgusting. I forced myself to walk out and blend into the crowd that filled the hallways. Lockers banged, couples strode hand in hand, groups whispered behind perfectly manicured fingers, and jocks blew kisses to the blondes that were mere shadows behind their brand new I-phones. I could feel the disgust filling my mind, and I scanned the crowd for a friendly face. I had never been very good at making friends, which was why it had initially surprised me that Jasper had talked to me. My mother always called me her shy fly, as I was always moving, but never outgoing enough to meet others. Jasper had told me I was absolutely perfect. Jasper, his name intruded on my mind, and I could feel my heart beating faster from the mere mention of his name.
I could feel myself moving to the rhythm of the crowd as we shuffled together down the crowd: my five feet 2 inches barely tall enough to keep myself from being trampled. I glanced at my watch, beginning the countdown for the end of the day. 2 hours and 33 minutes left. I rolled my eyes, and veered left to Spanish Class. As I entered, nostalgia filled me as I wondered how Jasper had always sat next to me in this class.
A smile filled my lips, as Senor Gomez filled my view, a broad smile on his thick lips.
“Hola Senor Gomez.”
“Donde esta tu novio?”
I sighed, he had noticed as well. Lies slipped onto my tongue, but I held them back. I couldn’t lie to him.
“El es…” I couldn’t bring myself to use the word, “gone,” so I sighed, and lowered my head, allowing my thick hair to obscure my vision.
“I’m sorry.” His English was thick with his Puerto-Rican accent, and he made a sort of tt’ing sound with his lips.
I sank down onto my seat, and made a promise to myself that I would pay attention in class. But as soon as the bell rang for class to begin, my eyes shut and soon I was asleep.
The day’s end came slowly, as I sat through endless class after class, and then wandered to the bus. I sat in the back and pulled up my hood, just reaching for my I-pod, when he filled my view. His black hair was a little past his ears, and wavy, and a thin gray T-shirt covered his muscular body. He was huge, at least 6’6’’ he stood on the bottom step of the front of the bus.
“Is Jordan Leoma here?” His bass voice sent shivers up my back, and I could feel my face begin to blush. Who was he, and how did I know such a hot guy? I stood hesitantly, my knees knocking together and slowly made my way to the front of the bus. A slight smile filled my lips as I saw the angry glares the majority of the female population gave me as I began my way up. Brittany looked especially upset, as she flipped a long strand of her bleached hair, and declared loudly, that,
“He like, really wasn’t that like, hot in the first place.” My feet somehow made it the front of the bus, and then I was gazing at him, my eyes taking in the perfection of his face. The smoothness of every plane, and his tan skin, and his eyes…. oh lord, his eyes. I couldn’t tear my eyes off of him, and I wondered if I was beginning to openly drool yet.
“Yeah?” I was surprised that my vocal chords still worked as I looked at him.
“Hi, I’m Ryan Thatcher.”
I blinked, and together we got off the bus, his large hands palming my backpack. “You’re who?”
“Ryan…your dad didn’t tell you?”
“Oh, are you the guard he was sending me?”
“Oh. I thought that he said they were coming tomorrow.”
“He had originally, but with the way things were going, he figured that we couldn’t waste a day.”
“Yeah, Josh and Lake are over there in the truck.”
“There are THREE of you?” My voice had reached an unnatural shriek. Most people would’ve been ecstatic that they were going to be protected by three very good-looking men, but I dreaded it. Suddenly picturing us walking into class, me-surrounded by them, us walking down the hallway…having to go the bathroom…shopping for bras…
“Yeah, is something wrong?” His voice was low, and I could see concern form in his dark eyes.
“No, that’s fine.” Nervously I shoved my hands into my pocket, and followed him to his truck.
“Good. The last thing we want is to make you feel uncomfortable.” His voice sounded comforting, but I couldn’t help but stifle a gasp. He stopped, and I could feel his eyes searching the vicinity. Jasper had done that all the time, and it had always driven me nuts. Jasper. How was he? Dare I ask them?
“Uh, Ryan, do you know Jasper?”
“Jasper, yeah, good guy.”
“Do you know how he is?”
He turned, and gave me a long look. “He’s fine.” His voice was slightly cold, and I retreated instantly within myself. Fine, huh? I willed my tears to stay inside as I covered the final distance to the truck. The truck was black and huge. Before I knew it, arms were lifting me, and placing me into the back seat. I couldn’t help but breathe in his musky scent. It was delicious. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the interior of the vehicle, I was greeted by, “Hi Jordan,” from Lake and Josh. Lake sat on my left. He had blonde short hair and a lovely tenor voice. Even in the dark, I could make out the muscles that filled his body. On my right sat Josh, he was gorgeous. Obviously Arabic, his olive colored skin shone in the dim car lights, and I couldn’t help but stare at him out right as he began to speak.
“Sorry to get right down to business on you, but your dad told us that the best way to obtain information about you, was to get it from you. Since we have rather a long ride to your house, we thought it best to start now. Are you okay with that?” I feebly nodded my agreement, breathing in the richness of their cologne that filled the truck. We began to move, and then the questions started to come.
“Jordan Lee Leoma.”
“Okay, and your African-American…” His voice rattled off as he scribbled down the obvious answers. “Okay, weight.”
“Never ask a girl her weight dude.” Ryan’s voice was light, and I couldn’t help but relax a little as the three of them began to banter.
“Well I don’t think she would want us to guess.” Chuckled Lake.
“Well maybe she does. What’s light for a female?”
“Yogurt.” chuckled Josh, and I couldn’t help but join in.
“No seriously, weight,”
“120.” I mumbled, turning my head so that I could gaze out the window. Lake’s suddenly began to blush, and I saw him whisper something to Josh. I wondered what I had said. Was it my weight? I sucked in my stomach, and tried not to glare at him. He didn’t have to be rude about it.
I ignored him; if he was going to make fun of my weight he could at least say it to my face.
“Jordan.” I rolled my eyes, wanting Jasper with everything in me. I heard him sigh, and suddenly his rough hand cupped my face, jerking it to him. “I need you to answer my question.”
“What?” I snapped, and confusion filled his face, and then he seemed to understand.
“I wasn’t making fun of your weight. Honest.” My face must’ve told him that I didn’t believe him, for he instantly began to back peddle. “It’s just that the next question, is…” he blushed again, and shoved the clipboard into my lap.
On what days and how long does your period last?
My mouth opened with a slight popping sound, and I stared at him like he was an idiot. “Why the heck do you need to know this?” My voice was loud, and I knew that my face was blushing. I gazed at him expectantly, waiting for his answer.
“So we know when to, you know, lay low on security.” He answered me stiffly, and I could tell he was as uncomfortable as I was. I felt stupid, as the realization that they were just trying to do their job rang in my head. There was never any reason for me to flip out or be afraid. I picked up the pencil that dangled precariously on the clipboard, and wrote the dates and handed it back to him, once again resuming my pose as I stared out the window. The endless woods blurred past as we sped along. Funny- when Jasper had driven, I had never noticed the long ride back home. Jasper. The name brought nostalgia again, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly sick again.
“Are you okay?” Ryan’s voice was soft, and his cool hand gripped my wrist. I looked at him, wondering why he was asking me that, when I heard the noises. Gasps, as if somebody was going to wretch. I glanced around; the noise too loud in the silent vehicle, when I noticed that it was coming from me. Instantly I shut off the noise, embarrassment crowding into my face as I nodded my head.
“Yeah. Fine. Thanks though.”
“Look, I know it must be tough having new security, but we aren’t so bad.” His voice was light, and I tried a weak smile at his attempt at a joke, but how could I smile when I was dying inside? I took a deep breath, and let it all out. Jasper would’ve wanted me to let myself live. If at least not for me, I would be good for them for Jasper. I tried to smile at them, but it was hard, my lips unaccustomed to the lift of my mouth.
“There’s a smile.” Ryan’s voice was light, and I realized that we would be home soon. Home. I combed my fingers through my hair, trying to make myself look decent for when we would arrive. I didn’t want my mother to worry any more than she had.
“You look fine.” Ryan’s voice sent shivers up and down my skin, something that only Jasper’s had done…was I forgetting him so soon? Sharp pains burst in my heart, and I vowed to never forget him, even though it had him that had done the abandoning. I focused out the window, trying to get my mind off Jasper, and instead on what I would say to my mother. She hated security with a greater passion than I did, though she did tolerate them. She said, I should try and look at the bright side…that had always been Jasper, now that he was gone. I winced.
“Talk to me.” I whispered, more voicing my feelings out loud, than actually to the guys by my side. I could see them exchange questioning glances between each other, and then Lake cleared his throat.
“What do you want us to say?”
“Get my mind off of him.” Tears blurred my vision, as I faced once again the finality that I wouldn’t see him again. He wouldn’t hold me in his arms again, or wipe away my tears. The salty fluid overflowed their banks, and ran down my cheeks, once again staining them. I guess they thought that I was talking about Jason, because their muscles instantly tightened. Lake whispered a curse; while Ryan made valiant oaths under his breath that Jason would never touch me again. Josh was the only one who kept his head. “Well today sure is pretty.” The weather. He was talking about the weather. I gazed outside, watching the dark clouds begin to roll in, and then drop angry raindrops onto our windshield. I couldn’t help but smile. Lovely. I hated the rain, and it hated me. Josh cleared his throat and turned on the radio, John Mayor’s rich voice filling the car with his single hit, ‘free falling.’ More tears flowed, as I remembered the first time Jasper had played this for me. Abruptly Josh changed the dial, hard rock blaring into the car, and I twisted my hands into my lap, gazing at the lone house that appeared in the distance. My house. Home. Trees shadowed the house, dark and barren because it was winter. They were dead. I felt strangely connected with them. They were missing their leaves, the part of them that glowed and lived and created shade, and I was missing Jasper. I sighed, and once again fixed my hair and dried my face, trying to get rid of the red eyes. It was time to face the music.
You never know what you have until it’s gone. I stared blankly over my Chem. Homework and cupped my head in my hands. It was still raining, the constant pitter-patter of raindrops somehow slightly calming to my nerves. I could hear my mom puttering in the kitchen, and the occasional sound of her voice as she tried to engage the 3 in conversation. Three of them, why don’t send a whole army to follow me around dad, why don’t you? I sighed, remembering my mom’s reaction as we had arrived home. Her mouth had dropped open with a slight popping noise, watching us as we stood in the rain as shock filled her body. Josh, straightforward as ever had cleared his throat, and offered a hand to mom, introducing himself and the others. It was interesting to see how she seemed to adjust so easily, opening the door to them, and instructing them to make themselves at home, as she went to fix the guest quarters. We lived in a big house, one that had been in our family for 75 years actually. My mom could never find it in her to sell it, even though there was just me and her living in a 6 bedroom house, with an heated in ground pool, and 35 acres, so it was good for something now that there would be 3 of them to fill some space. Knock, knock. The slight pounding noise on my door filled my ears. “Yeah?” “Can we come in?” I tried not to wince too much at the word, ‘we.’ It was hard enough being rather shy in the first place, and to suddenly start talking to 3 guys who were very hot was an extreme amount of pressure. “Sure.” The word slipped out too soon, as I suddenly realized that I was sitting in my bra and PJ bottoms doing my homework. Instantly I was on my feet and flung myself into the closet, trying to find a shirt, but it was dark, and I couldn’t see well. “Where is she?” Confusion filled the voice I recognized as Josh, and laughter followed. Oh dear, I wondered, what had I left lying around? Pads? No. Bras or underwear? I didn’t think so. “Hello?” Ryan’s voice penetrated through the closet walls, and I slipped on a shirt, and pressed my hands on the door. It was stuck. “I’m in the closet,” My voice sounded small to my ears, but it was enough to do the job. Instantly I could feel the closet doors opening, and suddenly I was standing there, blinking in the light. Nervous chuckles filled the room, and I gazed up at them, suddenly noticing their height of over six feet. Suddenly I felt very small, and very weak. I was glad that they were going to be protecting me. “Why were you in there?” I could feel my face heating up, and I lowered my gaze. “I uh, needed to get dressed. I forgot that I wasn’t appropriately dressed when I said come in.” Yet another change I needed to get used to. When Jasper was here, it hadn’t ever really mattered what I was wearing. I dared a peek at them, and I could tell that they were analyzing this information, obviously noting that I wasn’t used to having to get dressed when talking to others. I bit my lip, and lowered my gaze again. I hated feeling like a s**t, but it wasn’t like that with Jasper. He was my best friend, and he was always very careful with me. We had never done anything that would make me feel ashamed, as he had been very careful with the hugs that he had allowed, let alone the kisses that he limited. His voice filled my head. “Let’s just take this slow, okay? We have all of forever after all.” Forever…without him. The thought filled my head, and I tried to think of something else. I couldn’t handle it; I wouldn’t be able to handle it. “Jordan.” Josh’s voice infiltrated my thoughts, and I wanted to scream. Why couldn’t they just leave me alone? Oh right, because supposedly I needed them. Funny how needed could sound so much like a dirty word in this case; in my case. “Huh?” “Do you have any homework you need help with?” What? They came the whole way up here just to ask me if I needed help? I tried not to keep my sarcasm inside, but I couldn’t help but let some drip out. “All three of you were going to help me with my homework? Do I look like a SPed case?” I couldn’t help it that the last sentence had floated out, I was not in a good mood. I could see them exchanging glances, and I mentally hoped that none of them had Special. Ed siblings or parents. “No, we were just wondering, you looked like you had a homework by what your backpack weighed.” Offered Josh, and I couldn’t help but mentally cringe. “I don’t have a locker.” I added, not willing to explain the whole condom thing. I could see Jaspers face when he had seen it, so I replayed it for the sheer fact of seeing him in my mind again. “Oh. Well, do you mind if we just hang out up here?” Were they stupid as well as annoying? What about me said that I liked being around people? Goodness! I tried not to sigh out loud, as I said, “sure, why not,” and gestured at the couch and TV. “Make yourselves at home.” I turned around, and slouched onto a seat at my desk, and watched vacantly as they started pawing through my movies. They would probably find something good to them; Jasper had loved scary action movies. Josh stayed by my elbow, and I could barely make out his words. “You know, if we are invading your space, we can just take the movie and go to our rooms.” “No, it’s fine.” I didn’t know why I said that, but somehow as annoying as they were, I needed to be around people. I didn’t know what I would do if I was by myself. I stared back at my Chem. homework, and sighed, allowing my eyes to gaze around at the pictures on my wall. Pictures of me in my younger years stared back at me- fishing with my dad, Pikes Peak, standing around with his Cop friends, a close-up of him hugging me, and then there were the pictures of Jasper and I. I let my eyes linger on each one of them, washing my mind with his beauty again. I could tell that Josh was watching me closely as I stared at the pictures. “You really liked him, didn’t you.” His voice came out soft, as he stated the simple fact, not even questioning me. “Yeah.” I held my breath, and wondered if he was going to tell me something about Jasper, where he was, but he didn’t. Could I ask him? Dare I? I dared. “Where is he?” Automatically a front came on by Josh, and his face turned grave. “Sorry, classified.” His voice was soft, and I wondered if he felt sorry for me. “Could you talk to him for me?” My question came out before I realized I had asked, and I dared a peek at his face. “No.” “Could they?” “No, and please don’t ask them. It would cause trouble.” He allowed the last line hesitantly, and then became quiet as if he spoke too much. It was then that I realized something. Oh my gosh, how could I have been so stupid? Dad had never accounted on the fact that Jasper would fall for me, that part hadn’t been a scam. He had loved me. Truly loved me, and then he had to leave! My mind raced, suddenly putting together the pieces. What was the punishment for falling in love for the person you were meant to protect? A saying that dad had always drilled in my mind, suddenly raced through my head. “Never let emotion fuel your job, in fact don’t let emotion be in your job, for emotions are bipolar, and at the end of the day, you can’t place a person’s life on emotions.” Of course Dad would have pulled him out, Jasper’s emotions had gotten into the job. Slowly I lowered my head onto my desk, and mourned. Mourned for my stupidity, mourned for my current situation and mourned for Jasper.
I dreaded school. I dreaded going to face it with practically three strangers by my side. I dreaded the looks I would get, not that I really cared about that before, and I dreaded not seeing Jasper. Of all the things I had to dread, I tried not to focus on the last one too much, as trying to sleep with him filling my dreams was hard enough. I had purposely set my alarm clock way to early, as to give me enough time to get dressed. Typically I couldn’t be bothered to put on make-up but it was different now, so I grabbed all of the make-up my I owned and headed to the bathroom. “Uck, how do people wear this stuff?” I coughed as I padded foundation all over my face, trying to figure out how to brush the stuff on my face in fancy eights like they did on TV. I glanced at my watch. How had I managed to stay in the bathroom for a full half an hour already? I grabbed a brush, and began pulling it through my thick nest of curls, and then flattened it, letting it hang loosely by my shoulders. “Hello? Ready to go in there?” Josh’s voice rang through the flimsy door, and I grabbed eyeliner and started putting it on. “Yeah, just getting ready.” I heard him murmur some nondescript answer about women, but didn’t press the issue; I was already frantic as it was. Finally I opened the door and stepped out, my perfume wafting out before me. Lake lifted an eyebrow at me, Ryan winked and playfully lifted a perfectly toned bicep, and Josh rolled his eyes. I wasn’t sure what to think of all this, and I didn’t have a chance to look in the mirror as they hauled me downstairs, so I was clueless. Was something wrong with my makeup? Had I overdone my perfume? Was my hair sticking up? I managed to catch Ryan’s eye for a second and mouthed, ‘why did you wink at me? Is something amiss?’ He rolled his eyes, and didn’t answer. I was certain something was wrong, but we were already running late as it was, so I didn’t have time to change. The car ride there was quiet, and I slept most of it, trying to think of anything but going to school with three guys. They were all pumped, their hair perfectly combed and set. They wore matching outfits of black and then skater hoodies; I wondered how they would conceal their guns in the pockets, but it was an illegitimate fear as we walked in through the metal detective doors unnoticed. I could feel the stares as soon as we walked in, and I knew it wasn’t because of my makeup or new shoes. It was them. I tried not to hyperventilate as they walked behind me, their feet moving in perfect synchronization never noting the fact that they looked like they had just walked off the runway. Girls I had never noticed before, or simply avoided batted their eyes at them, and I tried to hold in my disgust. Hoping that they would just leave us alone, but it was all in vain. Jason stood mere feet away, for now disguised in the middle of his football friends, but I knew he was bound to notice us soon. Inadvertently I stopped dead in my tracks, and almost turned back down the hall and ran, but I knew I had to face this. Funny how he wasn’t in jail yet, but I couldn’t prove that it had happened besides a bruise, that wasn’t much to look at, and his word against mine. He was a jock and I was a nobody, of course it would be put off to a misunderstanding. I tentatively took a glance at Josh, and wondered if he knew about Jason, but I would not have needed to. His eyes tightened as he stared past me, focusing in on Jason, and I saw Lake and Ryan stop as well; their hands already pushing up their sleeves, allowing their muscles to show. No; please no. I just wanted a day to go by without drama, and yet here they were all ready for a fight already. “Please, just keep walking,” I hissed, urging them to continue as I took a step, lifting my feet slowly in front of the other. “We’re not going to just walk away.” Ryan said loudly, his voice carrying easily to Jason and his friends. I took a deep breath, and slowly turned around, and then ran, knowing that they would have no choice but to follow me. It was their job anyway. Protect me. Instantaneously they turned, I could hear their feet pounding down the cold linoleum in perfect sync, and I relaxed as I turned the corner, sinking into a squat. “What the heck was that?” Josh spat, and I could tell he had never run away from a fight before. “ I’m letting it be. I’m not going to let you guys get hurt on account of me.” “Get HURT?” Lake’s voice was loud, and full of sarcasm. “You thought that we were going to get hurt. Humph. There are three of us, trained in this kind of thing, and you think one guy is going to hurt us?” I lowered my eyes, and stared at his feet. “I just don’t want to see him again, okay?” Immediately his voice became soft, and he was lifting me to my feet. “We are not going to let anything happen to you Jordan. You can rest easy, okay? We’re not going to stop until you are safe forever.” He reached a hand down and gently helped me to my feet. “Lets get you to class.” “Okay.” We walked to Gym, and I wondered what they would do the whole time. Then a thought hit me. “What would you guy’s do if someone tried to attack me in the locker room?” “Break down the door, and shove the chic off of you.” “The door is a push one,” I muttered, and I could feel the tension easing as we made it to the locker room. “That isn’t going to happen,” Josh promised, and they watched me as I entered the locker room. Girls’ voices met my ears before I saw them. “…Did you see him?” “So cute! I wonder how old he is?” “And that Iraqi one, mmmhhmmm.” Their conversation started on a PG-13 level, and I cleared my throat, not willing to hear anymore about them. Funny how I felt so protective of them, even though they were the ones hired to protect me. “Oh, my, my, my, look who we have here.” Brittany’s voice hit my ears, and I turned to look at her. I ignored her and continued walking to my locker, and struggled with the combination lock. “Miss Retard Case herself. What did you do this time, fall down the stairs so you needed three to help you?” Her voice was filled with scorn, and I tried to ignore her. “How’d you swing the guys Leoma, I thought you were with that geek, uh, what was his name? James, no, Jasper, that was it, Jasper.” His name rang in my head, and I bit my lip. She would bring him into this. “Shut up Brittany.” “Wow, the slut has a tongue, I’m surprised after the way you kiss.” I could feel the anger raging inside of me again, and I tried not to say anything, but her hate kept on coming. “So, what about the boys? I didn’t know 3 timing was a sport you could play.” I turned around, smacked her across the face, my shirt falling from my hand as I stood there: half dressed, and pissed. “Bring it b***h.” Instantly she was in my face, and I tried to run, but as you know, klutziness is my middle name. Somehow I ended up falling over a bench, and she was on top of me, her fingers digging into my skin. I fought back, profanities dripping from my tongue as I tried to get up. I could feel my shorts falling off as she sat on me, and it was all I could do to keep my bra on. Suddenly the door opened, and the next thing I knew I was looking up into the face of Josh, Lake and Ryan. “Just had to see what we would do, eh Leoma?” Josh’s voice was filled with sarcasm, and I turned my body away, hoping to hide myself, as they looked at me. I couldn’t think of a comeback, so I just stared at them blankly until they stalked away. Girls’ voices filled the locker room again, and then faded as they left for gym, leaving me alone in the locker room, pulling on my shirt and sneakers. All I wanted was a normal day, was that too hard to get?
Jasper’s POV Days didn’t seem to mesh together like they had before: the steady pace of them blending from one to next because he would be with her. No, now that there was no her, it was like taking the sun out of the day, but he couldn’t protect her anymore. He had been, ‘reassigned.’ He took a deep breath, and started his car, following the directions to the house of his new protectee. He wondered what she would be like. Of course he had the basics, name: Jennifer Lee. Birthday: March 28. Age: 17. Color: Caucasian. Weight: 123. Height: 5’5’’. History: series of misdemeanors with teachers, now on probation. What sort of misdemeanors? The thought flickered in his head and he ignored it. He didn’t want to know. He was a probation officer, and he was disgusted about it. He didn’t like being demoted to such a position. He wanted to protect people, not baby-sit a juvenile. His car pulled into the driveway, and he stopped at the wire gate that barred his way, and stared past at the huge white mansion that was surrounded by rose bushes, and a circular driveway. He was used to rich people, but this was extreme. He spoke his name, into the intercom, and waited for the gates to creak open. He was already not anticipating this. Rich people were the hardest to work for. They thought they knew everything and anything, and anything that they didn’t, money could certainly see to that. He took a deep breath, and watched as the ancient pinnacles of steel opened barely a crack, before stopping. He clenched his fingers and slowly unclenched them as he stepped out of his vehicle, to push open the gates. He hated being reassigned. The families always felt the need to scope him out, thus trying to test if he was any good or not. He was FBI - of course he was good. He wondered what the father who was probably monitoring the intercom, would say if he let few a good curse words he had learned. He opened his mouth, and then closed it again, resisting temptation. Sure he was pissed, but not stupid, he needed this job. Maybe he could get back into Jordan’s fathers good graces…maybe just maybe, he would get to see her again. Dream on boy. His conscious spoke in his ears, and he tried not to pay attention to the truth in the words. He had broken a direct order, of that he was well aware. He tried to ignore it, but Jordan’s face haunted him once again: pale white, and full of pain as she lay on the hospital stretcher. He had failed her. He took quick long steps back to his car, and couldn’t resist gunning the engine as he entered the driveway, and parked. He wanted them to know that he wasn’t going to fall for their stupid stunts. He ran a tan hand through his hair, and straightened his starched white collar, and stepped out. He could feel the stares piercing through the windows of the house as he walked up the steps, and finally knocked. Voices echoed through the door, and he imagined that the servants had been caught peeking at him. Great, he was expected, and not only that but anticipated. There goes my chance of completely screwing it up, he thought bitterly, and tried to smile as the door swung open. “Mr. Howard, it’s a pleasure. Come in, come in.” “Please, call me Jasper.” He tried to make his voice warm as he took in the man. He was an elderly gentleman with white sideburns, and a few age spots near his temple, facial hair. He didn’t bite his nails…they were manicured. His clothes confirmed that he liked to look nice, by his name brands and suit coat tails, his wealth wasn’t blatant, instead it seemed to complete him. They stepped into Mr. Lee’s study, and the girl greeted him. “Hi Jasper.” She was pretty, and she talked like she knew it as she easily flipped her hair, and subtly batted her eyes at him. He was used to his affect on girls, but she made him nervous. He didn’t like it. “It’s Mr. Howard.” His bass voice sent chills in the room, but she didn’t seem to notice as she continued to prattle on. “Daddy, is it okay if we get to know each other here?” Her voice was polite, but almost rudely so, as she glanced at her dad and then winked at Jasper. Mr. Lee however didn’t seem to notice. “No problem sweetheart, I’ll just let you two conduct your interviews in here.” He left, shutting the solid wood oak doors behind him. Jasper sighed. Discomfort was an unusual emotion for Jasper. Nervousness was even rare. However, in situations such as these, nervousness can’t but help but be understood. “So Jasper,” her voice purred at him, and he could feel goose bumps rise on his arms. He tried to distract himself by remembering all the ways you could kill someone, and instantly relaxed. “Hello?” Her high voice rang in his ears and he jerked away from his memories. “Mind if I ask the questions?” His voice was loud; too loud he decided. He needed to gain control. “Sure, ask away. Everything’s open.” She leaned toward him, the neckline of her dress open, exposing two perfect vanilla scoops of her breasts. He took a breath, and moved his eyes too anywhere besides her and her skanky attire. His eyes drifted around the room until they settled on a windowsill above her yellow head. “So, I understand you were involved in a few misdemeanors miss.” “Oh they weren’t missed, but they definitely were missing, if you know what I’m talking about.” Her voice was low and seductive. He took a deep breath, envisioning his thick hands around her throat in a strangle hold. Why did some girls make themselves so loose, so improperly seductive? Was she trying to make his job difficult? Of course she was. He had never wanted to hurt a female this badly…but she. She was an insult to all ladies. He crossed his legs, and switched the subject, keeping his eyes down. He wasn’t trained to feel inferior to anyone, but with her…he couldn’t help it, and he certainly wouldn’t fail this job. Nobody skipped a job. Once you were assigned you followed through, it was that simple. Always maintain a professional atmosphere. The rule jumped into his mind and a wave of guilt filled his mind. He had screwed that rule up…but he was in no mind to mess up again. He was determined to win his way back up the social hierarchy- up into his boss’s good graces- up back to Jordan. Her name filled his thoughts and he could feel himself relaxing. I can do this, he thought. I can do this. He wasn’t going to let her try and distract him. Instantly he was shifting back into professional mode, and cleared his throat. “The misdemeanors ma’am.” “Like I said,” she giggled, “They weren’t…” “Miss, according to your files they were. My job is to keep you safe, and I need to know what happened. Did these men hurt you or didn’t they?” He struggled to keep his voice level and professional. “Are you accusing me of LYING?” Her voice went into an unnatural shriek, and immediately she began to go into hysterics; he was sure the panic was fake of course. Within seconds, the door opened, and whom he assumed was Mrs. Lee appeared. “What did you DO to her? Honey, did he touch you dirty?” “MOMMY!” Jasper’s face began to heat up, and it took everything in him from saying some things he shouldn’t. How dare they accuse him, a federal officer of rape? He stood up and walked out the door, with a, “ma’am’ and then left. He was done with this. How was he supposed to work here, when he certainly didn’t like them, or wanted to keep that girl alive. She was on probation for heavens sake, for what she claimed was sexual assault from older men! The men however had claimed she had come onto them, and then molested them. He definitely believed the latter as of now; she was a tiger in sheep’s clothing. He went out the door, and leaned on the railing. His thick frame trembled as he struggled to maintain his rage. He had been set up, of that he had been sure. How could he have been so stupid, and thought he would be able to get back into the chiefs good graces? He had been sent here! He took the clipboard that he still held, and started ripping off the pages and crumpling them up in his large hands. He was beyond pissed. In seconds he reached his car, where he gunned the engine and took out of the drive, and to the gate. Dang it! He had to get out and unlock that as well. His hands touched the cold metal and he pushed them slowly out, as it began to rain. Although the cool spray did little to calm him down. He needed to get away from this accursed place. He rushed to his car, and pulled out, trying to figure out what to do next. He wasn’t going back there, of that he was sure, but what to do? What to do? He couldn’t go and find Jordan because…well, why couldn’t he? He had already broken one rule: falling for her, and how much more trouble could he get into? Especially now that the chief had probably gotten a hysterical phone call accusing him of rape. He gunned his engine again and sighed; he was not a Jason. He prided himself in his morals…and yet here he was running away from the person he was assigned. No matter that she was stupid, or a slattern or even a b***h. He was supposed to protect her, and watch over because it was his job. He loved his job. He loved people. But he certainly didn’t love her. Cursing loudly; the slew of words cascading from his perfect lips, he turned his car around. He had a job to do, and he had to do it, no matter if he liked it or not.
My feet felt like dead weight as I made my way into the gym, and started running laps with the rest of the class. I tried to blend in, but somehow Mr. Evan’s spotted me with a, “Miss Leoma you’re late.” I rolled my eyes, tell the whole world why don’t you? I mean, I knew I was late, and he knew I was late, who else really needed to know? It wasn’t like I was exactly skilled in gym. My feet never seemed to want to work with the rest of my body. It was hard enough to run in circles, let alone play volleyball, the current sport. Josh, Lake and Ryan paced themselves next to me, and I could feel their stares boring into my head. They weren’t exactly pleased with me after my locker room stunt, though it wasn’t like I had planned it. “2 Minutes!” Mr. Evan’s voice echoed off the gym walls, and I felt like I was going to collapse. He had told us that we were supposed to run for 5 minutes, and I swear we had been going for 10 by now, plus the 2 minutes now we supposedly had. I tried to focus my eyes on my feet, but managed to trip over a shoelace. Strong arms caught me as I fell, and placed me back on my feet, and I could hear their feet shuffle as it passed me. It was Josh. I sighed, watching his facial expressions. He must think I’m the stupidest klutz in the world. I wanted to yell at him that Jasper loved me klutziness and all, but I figured that might be a stupid move. After all, it wasn’t like he owed me anything…he was just here to protect me, not be my friend. Friend. I found myself stumbling over the word again as I ran/tripped/stumbled around the gym. I didn’t have many friends except for Jasper and he was gone. Was something wrong with me? I glanced around the gym, noticing as if for the first time the groups of people that ran together. The girls that paced themselves side by side, and the guys that sprinted just because they could. They all were friends. How was it that I was not? And then it hit me, because I had never really made an effort. I had always moved so much, that after a while, making friends was a pain, because it hurt every time we had to leave, with no promises of ever seeing them again. Oh sure we could write, but it wasn’t the same as seeing them, and with my father in the FBI, it wasn’t a good idea to give your address out. I had learned that the hard way, but that’s another story. “Okay, gather in.” Somehow my body got itself together enough to get to the circle, though I didn’t really know why I was all that motivated to get there. Brittany’s glare was enough to make me nervous, let alone tell anyone around her that she wanted to hurt me. Badly. Somehow, with my luck, the normal sport was changed that day from Volleyball to Wrestling. I bit my lip, I wasn’t exactly in the mood for wrestling, especially when I had three guys beside me that would seriously beat down anybody who tried to hurt me, although right now they were the ones I were must worried about. Brittany seemed to have other things in mind. “Leoma, you, me, now!” Her voice beckoned my command, and I found myself looking at my ex-best friend in a new light. She was scary, and reasonably so. First of all, she had gained a couple pounds, and next to my 120, 160 is rather a lot. Second of all, she was pushing 6 feet, and I was little over 5’2’’. I could feel myself mentally begin to scream. If my mother had been anywhere near to me, this would have been the time I would have started screaming for her, but it was more of a no can do. Because she was a girl, my threebies stood off. I vaguely turned around and looked at them. I swear Josh was smirking. Imagine a little mouse about to be eaten by a big orange Tom. That was Brittany and I. As soon as I stupidly took that first small step towards her, she was circling me. My klutziness took over by now, and before I could manage to even slightly think about circles, I ended up tripping again. That is why it should be illegal for shoes to have laces. I could make out a chuckle coming from the direction of the musketeers, and I slowly picked myself up again. This was no longer just a war between Brittany and I. This was about me proving myself. I was tired of being picked on, and being picked last, and lastly I was tired of Brittany’s s**t. A curse slipped out of her mouth, fueling my rage, and I took a step towards her. “What was that?” I sneered, “Did you say something to me, or were you just trying to make yourself feel better, because either way, I think we have a problem.” “You think we have a problem s**t? You actually just thought? Wow, I’m surprised you didn’t end up landing on your face, for all the concentration that must have took.” I could feel my face heating up as laughter surged around the room. It was then that I wondered where the teacher was, but I wasn’t going to break eye contact. I was going to kick some ass. I had never been very good at comebacks, so I tried to think of something I could say, as she kept on hating, each sentence bringing her closer to me. I tried to focus on a spot where I could hit her, my fury growing as her words kept flying. “…But I guess you’re used to concentration with your boy Jasper, I mean all the concentration it must have taken to get with him. Man, you probably used up all those condoms by now…” I bit my tongue to keep from talking until it bled, allowing myself to focus on the pain instead. “…Too bad everybody knows that’s the only guy you’ll get, because you’re to ugly to get with a real guy.” “At least I don’t check out other girls because I know I’m too fat and dumb to even be recognized by a guy, or cry at night because even your brother locks you in your room when his friends come over, or stuff tissues up my…” The slap came hard and fast, and next thing I knew I was looking up into her face. Her nails were tearing through my hair, and I wondered who was screaming. It was me. But I was tired of getting drug down by her all the time. Swiftly I punched her in the nose, using the flat hand gesture that Jasper taught me gave people broken noses. I continued pushing until I heard the successful crack, and saw the blood gushing out of her nose onto my shirt, but I wasn’t done yet. I stood up, and yanked her hair back, I wanted her to feel the pain she had wreaked on me. Just as I was about ready to kick her on her face, Mr. Evans appeared. “Leoma, in my office now!” Funny how the one time I actively participate in gym, I end up having to go to the principle’s office. I wondered how much worse my day could get. Josh, Ryan and Lake followed me as I made my way down the hallway to the principles office. I almost wished I were at the principles now, instead of having to take the five minutes of silence that the 3 were giving me as we walked there. “Jordan.” Lake’s voice startled me, but I was too mad. So much for bodyguards. More like, “watch her get hurt, and then in trouble.” Mom would kill me if I got in trouble. ‘Jordan.” Slowly I turned around and faced him. Ryan and Josh stood slightly behind him, and by the blush on their faces I could tell that whatever they were going to say was going to be awkward. “Look, we’ve been jerks.” You’ve got that right captain obvious, I thought, but instead I stared at them dumbly. Though I couldn’t help but flit my eyes between the bleeding scratches on my arms to them. They deserved to feel bad. My cat had never been like this to me, and she was evil. “We’re hired to protect you, and then we let you down, and get mad when you are in fights. We’re just trying to say that we’re sorry.” “You better be.” I mumbled, “If my father hears about this…” I couldn’t help but add the threat. Served them right. “You won’t tell, will you?” His voice was nervous, and I couldn’t help but feel slightly superior for once. I sighed. Where had he gotten these guys? They were def. not FBI agents, or anything else, but I guess I could make that deal with them, if they got me out of trouble. “I won’t tell, if you get me out of this, and make sure my parent’s don’t know.” “Okay.” “You can do that?” “Yeah.” I knew I looked skeptical, but somehow I believed them. I was saving their ass for mine, so I guess we were even, but I was still wondering where they were from. I knew they weren’t FBI. “Who are you guys? And don’t even try to tell me that you are FBI, because I’m not stupid.” Josh looked at the others, and they kind of shrugged their shoulders. “Um, honestly?” “Yes, honestly.” I mock sighed, and placed my hands behind my back, resting on the cool locker behind me. “We’re kind of the sons of FBI fathers. We wanted to get in on the job, so your father said he’d put us on you.” “On me, as if I’m some sort of object lesson.” the sarcasm dripped from my words, but I didn’t care. How dare they insult me like that, as if I was some sort of object that needed to be mastered! “Well, we figure that since you’re his daughter, he obviously trusts us a lot, because we are keeping you safe.” I placed my hands on my hips, and I knew I was about to give them an attitude speech, but I couldn’t help it. My father had placed my life in the hands of amateurs? “So, I’m supposed to believe that my father left me in the hand of amateurs? Is that why you needed all that information, because you honestly didn’t know? How am I supposed to believe that you are actually from my father?” My voice was loud and harsh, but I needed to know. Did my father think so little of me, to actually tear me from Jasper for them? Lake’s voice shattered my panic attack, and his ice-blue eyes forced their way into mine. “Amateurs. Do you think the FBI hires amateurs?” His voice was soft, but it commanded my attention. I couldn’t help but notice the way he accented the word, ‘amateurs,’ and the slight irritated tone his voice had. He obviously knew something about commanding people’s attention, I admitted. My hands clenched behind my back, and I pressed my palms flat against the coolness of the locker surface, allowing the sudden chill to invade my brain, so that I could calm down. But it was my life! “Have you ever worked on a case before?” My voice was still skeptical, and I intended to ask another question but Josh intervened. “Class will be out in a second, can we just talk about this later?” I glared at him, but knew he had a point. I would be in serious trouble if others overheard what we were talking about, but I didn’t like the fact that he was right. I rolled my eyes, and flippantly pulled out my cell. I needed to talk to someone. It was then that my mind clicked, and with hesitant fingers, I started texting. I had Jasper’s number. How stupid was I? Of course I could find out how he was. I began to hum, and sent it, waiting for a response. Lake was staring at me intently, but for now I could care less. My love was going to text me. My fingers itched for the vibrate that would signal his response. Would he be happy to hear from me? What would he say? My thoughts filled my mind, and then all too soon, the faint trembling filled my fingertips. Eagerly I looked down: 1 new message. My heart pounded irregularly fast as I opened it, and then disappointment washed through my system. Error, message returned to sender. Dammit. Dammit! The words slipped precariously through my lips, but I didn’t care. How could it be? I could feel someone breathing over my shoulder, the warm heat flooding my face with sweet smelling breath. Slowly I twisted my head, to find myself mere centimeters from Josh’s lips. “I didn’t know snooping was part of your protocol, sir.” I hissed, and tried to step away, but his hands enclosed my shoulders. Almost palming me. “Look. My job is to keep you safe, something your Jasper failed at. And yes, I, we, need to know everything you do. Don’t try and make my job any harder than it is, because I will do whatever it takes to keep you safe. Even lockdown.” The way he said Jasper made it sound like a dirty word, and I visually flinched. “Are you threatening me?” I sneered. “No, he’s merely informing you Jordan.” My dad’s voice was crystal clear from the ear-bud that lay loose on Josh’s collar. I could feel the blood rushing to my cheeks, and I turned away, chagrin overwhelming me. “Damn.” I couldn’t help but mutter it softly for fear of my father’s overhearing, but my poor efforts didn’t seem to help the issue. “We do not use that language Jordan Leoma, in this school.” I looked up to find the face of our principle staring down at me. I bit my lip, and glanced up at her. “ I believe you owe us an apology, and a trip to my office.” “Sorry Mr. Lee.” The words felt stilted as they rolled off my tongue, and I couldn’t help but turn around and stick my tongue out at the three of them, as childish as the gesture was. They were the ones that deserved to be in the office! I walked slowly to the office, or as slowly as one could when the epitome of doom lay before them. It didn’t help my walking pace to have Mr. Lee look over his shoulder now and then. I could tell he was obviously irritated, but what had I done? He pushed open the heavy oak door to his office, and sank down into his red swivel chair and faced me. I waited, what was he going to say to me? That fighting wasn’t appropriate and so I needed to have an ISS? But no, what he approached me with, was something far different. I watched as he waited until the door was perfectly shut, and then he hit some sort of switch. Whatever it was for, I assumed that whatever was going to happen it was not going to be good. “Look, Miss Leoma, I called you down here first in the purpose of settling a matter, but now that you have gone and gotten yourself in trouble, I figure we can make a deal.” Instantly warning signals in my head were going off, but all I could do was sit there numbly. “What do you know about Jasper Howard, formerly Jasper Knave? Don’t even try to say you don’t know him, because I know you dated him. What I want to know is if he ever,” He paused, and his face turned red. “If he ever touched you dirty. Now don’t get all up in arms, but here’s the deal. If you testify that in court that he did, then I promise you I will wipe all this clean, and make sure that you have straight A’s for the rest of your high school career.” He wanted me to testify in court about Jasper? Adrenaline seared through my veins, and I could hear my heart pounding as his eyes bored into mine. Was he bribing me? Fervently I looked around for a gun, but was not aware of any, and then it dawned on me. The switch he had turned had probably been the one for the cameras. How stupid are you Jordan? I groaned. If I screamed, Josh, Lake and Ryan would be here in seconds, as they stood right outside the door, but then it would simply come down to an nasty case of my word against Mr. Lee’s. So instead I sighed, and frantically tried to think of what Jasper would do…but the only thing I was getting, was that Jasper wasn’t here, and so I had to do something! I could feel the familiar moisturizing in my eyes as I thought about him. Mr. Lee cleared his throat. “Jordan.” His voice brought me spinning back into reality, and I jumped. “Yessir.” “I’m waiting.” His voice was powerful, and his neatly manicured fingers danced on his desk. He was clearly anxious. There it was again. The choice was up to me. If I said no, who knows what would become of me, and if I said yes…. the thought alone of lying about my love brought acid into my mouth, and I nearly choked. Lying brings you down to the level of common thieves. My father’s words echoed in my head, and so I knew what I had to do. I screamed, and then bolted. My clumsy legs’ somehow running to the door, but it was bolted. Instantly he was upon me, the fetid stench of his breath making me want to puke. His hands moved down my shoulders and fingers poked into me in places they weren’t supposed to be touched. I screamed even louder than before, and he slapped me. I went down, just like in the hallway, but instead of my head hitting the couch, it hit the wooden floor. I wasn’t unconscious this time, and I tried to crawl away. “No. Please Mr. Lee, don’t do this. Look, just stop and leave right now. I will forget about anything that ever happened, please I’m begging you to stop.” My tears were coming harder and harder now, and all I could do was shake, but his fingers continued to move. Words formed in my mouth and all I could say was, “Omygod not again. Omygod!” As soon as the words bursted through my lips, he stopped. “So he did touch you?” My sobs and screams erupted into the air, and before I knew it he stepped back, completely professional again. “Thank you Leoma, you may go.” “I may go?” My voice was loud, and I ran at him like a half crazed monster. How dare he finger me, and then dismiss me? “Why did you touch me?” I screamed, hatred dripping from me. How dare he touch me? Dirty perverted son of a b***h! “Touch what? Oh my, are you remembering again about what Jasper did to you?” “Jasper didn’t touch me you fool!” I stood in front of him and looked in dismay at what lay in his hand. In his hand he held a tape recorder. I watched in horror as he pressed play. Mr. Lee’s voice filled the room from the little speaker. “Did Jasper ever touch you dirty?” “Yessir.” “So he did touch you?” My screams and sobs erupted from the speaker, and then before I could hit it out of his hands, or even react he placed it back in his pocket. “See my dear, I always get what I want.” His whisper reached my ears along with the smell of his breath. I cringed back, and started to run backwards to the door, but tripped, and lay flat on my back, inches away from the couch. At that moment the door caved in, and something that looked like a blur crashed into Mr. Lee. I heard him scream, and I moved myself against the couch and covered my ears. I tried to block out the screaming by putting my head onto my knees, but it didn’t do any good. I could still hear the voices. “I could kill you now, it would be so easy. I don’t think I will though. It brings too much attention to us.” His voice was deadly, and I tentatively saw Ryan and Lake, around the speaker. It was Josh. “I know you’ve been watching her. You listen to me; you will stay away from her and never look at her again. Do you understand me, because if you don’t, we will rip you to pieces and burn the rest.” Something whimpered. “Look at me. You will never remember anything from tonight.” I heard Mr. Lee’s sudden shift, and his voice rose and fell in panic. “Where am I? What’s going on? “You were leaving,” the deadly voice spoke again. “You dirty son of a…” my scream left the air too soon, and Lake’s hand covered my mouth. “Later,” He muttered. “In the car. Now.” I wanted to swear, to scream, to throw a hissy fit like I was two, but his arms were like steel bands as he picked me up, and carried me to the car. As I sat on the clean upholstery, my tears running dirty stains onto the seat, they gathered in, and we started to leave. “Now,” said Ryan, breaking the silence. “Tell us what happened.”
I didn’t want to think about it, let alone speak about it aloud, because that just reminded me of it all over again, and made it that more final. If I didn’t speak about it, I could just pretend it didn’t happen. But they knew better, and I knew better. I took a deep breath, and my lips formed soundless words, but they didn’t come out, as tears burst forth from my eyes, the only audible thing being my wailing, and screaming of, “why? Why again?” Lake’s arms wrapped around my waist, and he smoothed my hair, as he murmured comforting words in my ears.
“It’ll be okay, we’ve got you, and nobody will ever hurt you again.” Funny. I heard those words before. The words that I had been trying to keep in escaped from my mouth, and I knew I sounded hysterical but I didn’t care.
“NO! It WON’T be okay! Why does everybody keep telling me that? Telling me that I won’t get hurt again, that nothing will ever happen to me but something always does! Jasper said that it was like creepers are attracted to me, and I’m tired of it! I’m tired of always needing to be rescued! What’s WRONG with me? I don’t even talk to people, and yet its like they still stalk me. Is it because of my dad? Is something wrong with me?”
Lake patted my head, and I despised that. Try and calm the insane raving girl eh? But I knew I wasn’t insane. Somebody wasn’t telling me something. I wanted the truth. I needed the truth.
“You guy’s aren’t telling me something.” My mind raced, and puzzle pieces seemed to click together. I voiced my ideas aloud, hoping that they would say something. “Why do I need body guards? I can’t honestly believe it’s because of my father? What is with everybody trying to get his or her hands on me? I’m really not even that pretty, and yet people keep trying to touch me. Why are their three of you? What is going on?” I stared up at Lake’s face, and I could tell he didn’t want to say anything, so I pressed him. “Please, just tell me.” He remained impassive, and it was then that I did something I vowed I would never do again. I raised my eyes up at him, and drew my lips close to his, and kissed him. At first he resisted, but I placed his hand on my thigh, and kept going. I could feel the passion beyond his kiss, and I enjoyed it. I hadn’t kissed anyone since Jasper left. Jasper. His name rose in my throat, and I tried to stop but Lake was too strong, so I bit down on his lip. Hard.
“What the hell?”
“Tell me.” I whispered, trying to keep my voice as sexy as I could, and I could see Josh’s glare in the mirror. He hated me, but if they could play dirty, so I could I.
Instantly he was back in command mode, and I barely made out the word, ‘slut.’ I frowned, and tried to hide the tears in my eyes. I tried Jasper, I really did…
Josh’s voice came loud and clear, and I prepared myself for a lecture, but he didn’t. Instead he said, “Lake, you know I will have to report this.” I could feel Lake stiffen, and for a moment I felt sad, but it didn’t last long. He had refused me. Ryan’s voice was hard, when he turned around and glared at me.
“You never did tell us what happened.”
“He attacked me.” My voice was flat, and the bad feeling was back. I need Lake here, he was nice, and I really didn’t want Ryan and Josh mad at me. I wasn’t sure why I felt like that, but I did. Ryan stared at me, his hazel eyes drilling into my own. I tried to move my gaze, but I couldn’t. I was transfixed, as I stared into his and saw the compassion and disappointment that lay in them. I tried to smile, to try and convince myself that everything would be okay, but it only brought on a fresh bout of tears. “I’m sorry.” I whispered into Lake’s arm, as I buried my head against him. “I just wanted to know, I didn’t mean to use you, and I mean I did but I’m sorry.”
Josh’s voice broke the silence. “That thing touched you, and your apologizing about acting irrationally?” His voice was stern, and I shuddered. Lake pulled his arm closer against me.
“It’ll be okay Jordan.” The sympathy in his voice did little to make me feel better. I tried to stop crying, but I couldn’t. It was like, I had never cried before in my life, and now all the tears were just spilling out. My head began to hurt, and almost instinctively Lake placed a hand on my head, his cool skin taking the heat of my hysteria out of my body.
“I still want to know.” I whispered to more myself than anybody else.
They glanced at each other knowingly, each of them keeping a secret against me: the one that they were protecting. I tried another tactic. “You not telling me isn’t keeping me safe.”
“Us telling you would put you in greater danger.” Josh’s voice was hard, and I knew he meant that the conversation was ended, but I wasn’t done yet.
“So I am in danger?”
“Nooooo!” His tone oozed with sarcasm, “just random people are trying to rape you, and you have three guards trying to keep you alive.”
I tried to play the dumb blonde, but they ignored me. Silence filled our car as we sped homeward, and I took a deep breath. So much for trying to gain information. My mind danced with the wild possibilities of why I needed to be protected. The answer couldn’t be simple because I needed three of them now. What was it that Jasper wasn’t enough? It couldn’t be simply the fact that he loved me. Or did he? A tiny voice whispered in my head, but I shrugged it off as I concentrated. But if keeping me alive was so important then why did I get amateurs? The thought flickered in my head, but when I thought about it, I wondered. Somehow, even with Jasper they always managed to get to me right in the nick of time. Were they testing me? How did they always get there before I got raped? Sure people touched me, but you would think if I were that important, they wouldn’t even be able to touch me…why was it so important to keep me safe? I was sixteen years old. And you’re adopted. Where did that thought come from? Being adopted had nothing to do with…I gasped. What if that nagging thought was right? Come to think of it, we had never talked about my adoptive background. Every time I brought it up, my father would come up with some nondescript answer, about the stork, and my mother would say, “Harry…” And that was that. I had never pressed the issue…until now. I could feel Lake’s eyes on me, and conscientiously I took my head off of his arm. Don’t ask questions. I began to panic, what was this? Since when did I begin to get voices in my head? I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the source of the voice, but it made it worse. My headache returned, and the voice grew louder. CALM DOWN! Instantly calm flooded through my veins, and I relaxed, but not on my own will. I glanced at Lake, and his gaze grew more intense. I was scared, what was happening? I opened my mouth to speak, but my lips wouldn’t cooperate.
“Jordan, what’s wrong?”
I shook my head, and instantly my mouth began to move again on my own will. “Voices.” My voice sounded weak, but Lake just nodded, his eyes fleeting towards Ryan. I watched as their eyes connected, and Ryan nodded. What was that about? “Huh?”
“Shhh, it’s okay. We still have about 20 minutes to get home, just take a nap.” His voice was calm, and his fingers stroked through my hair. “You’ve had a long day.” I yawned, and realized how tired I was. My eyes close, and my body began to droop as I started to fall asleep, but not before I noticed the hushed whispers.
“Do you think it’s starting?” Ryan’s voice was soft.
“Yeah, we knew that she couldn’t be one of the last humans for long.” Josh answered.
“When do you think she’ll turn?” I couldn’t help but overhear the anxiety in Lake’s voice.
“I think it’s already happening, you heard her talk about the voices.”
“Voices. Ahh, I forgot that. So long since I became one, you know?”
“Yeah, worst hell I’ve ever been through changing was.”
“Well, your all the better for it. Rumor is, your one of the best Elite there is now.”
Elite. My mind tried to tumble over the word as I fell asleep, no longer able to rouse my body to question them. What was an elite? And what did he mean about me being one of the only humans left? Is that why I was being protected? My thoughts broke off, as exhaustion overtook me, leaving me to my nightmares, and the whispered words that I had overheard.
A cold finger touched my face, causing my whole body to shake. I jerked awake, and glared at the person who was intruding on my space. Lake looked down on me with compassion, and before I knew it, he was cradling me up in his arms as he effortlessly dropped the mere inches from the car to the ground. “We’re home.” His breath spread over me, filling me with mixed feelings, half of which I knew I shouldn’t bench on. I was tired, delusional, and feeling very vulnerable at the moment. I was glad I was in safe hands. Or was I? Protests filled my mouth, but I was to uncoordinated to use them, as one word filled my head: elite. What was an elite? And what about the voice in my head… was I going crazy? I took a breath, and tried to keep my eyes open, but I was so tired that it took all of my concentration to just do that simple task.
The light changed, and I could tell we were inside, by the familiar scents, and the ceiling that replaced the blue sky. His feet padded lightly up the steps, and he gently placed me on my bed, and then sat cattycorner to me on a chair, all the while his eyes burning into mine. I lay balled up on the bed, and I finally felt the excruciating pain in my back from the fall I had had in Mr. Lee’s office. I let out a groan; partially due to the remembrance of Mr. Lee, and partly due to the fact that my back really did kill.
“May I see?”
I managed to nod, and instantly I felt his cold hands on my back, pressing against the swelling marks. “It’s bruised, but you’ll be fine. The swelling should go down by morning.” His hands moved down my spine, and I shivered aloud. It felt so good. His fingers trailed back up and I sighed. Immediately he pulled my shirt back down and I pulled my legs away from my body, and tried to relax. “Jordan.” His bass voice intruded on the silence, but I managed to acknowledge him with a slight nod. “I really am sorry.”
“Sorry about what?” My voice was thick with sleep, but his apology had gotten my attention.
“About Jasper.” Compassion colored his voice, and I wondered where he was going with this. Was he going to tell me where Jasper was? Was he going to let me talk to Jasper? My eyes roamed around the room, searching for any device that might be used in overhearing our conversation, but I didn’t spot any.
“Where is he?” I could hear the anxiety swell in my voice, and despite the pain in my back, I sat up.
“He’s…” Lake’s voice cracked, and a look of pure horror passed over his face, and then he was back in professional mode. “It’s classified.”
“What? You told me all that, just to tell me NOTHING?” Anger filled my voice, and my fingers clenched together in angry fists. What had just come over him? It was like he had changed right before my eyes. “Lake.” My voice was gentle, and I gazed up at him. Stony silence filled the room, and he looked older, aged even. “Lake.” And it was then that it hit me. “I know what you are.” My whisper carried through the room to his ears, and suddenly he gazed at me.
“What did you say?”
“I know what you are.”
“Elite.” I whispered the word, and I saw him flinch. “That’s what all of you guys are. Elite…” my voice trailed off and I tried to remember what else they had said when they had thought I was asleep. Oh. My. God. “What did you mean about me being one of the last humans?” Horror filled my body, and I began to openly tremble. “What did you mean Dammit?! What are the voices in my head?!”
“How did you know?” His voice was hoarse, and for once I could see the flicker of fear behind his dark eyes.
“I overheard you guy’s when I was asleep…” I cut my sentence off as I watched him close his eyes for a brief second, and then open them. His pupils that were once dark, were now emerald green.
“You will remember nothing.” His voice was monotone, but there was a force behind the words, and I could feel it building it in my own head, as my memories began to fade.
“NO!” My scream slowed things down, and I clawed at the air like a mad dog. I dragged my gaze away from Lake’s and instantly relaxed.
“Please.” His voice was soft, and I ached to look at him, but managed to keep my gaze on my bedspread.
“No.” and then, “what was that? What are you?” I dared to sneak a peek up at him, and I saw the struggle on his face. Like two sides of him were fighting each other, but I couldn’t tell which side was winning. Then, warily he began.
“I am an elite. I am originally from Kansas, but was taken when I was merely 15 years old. That’s when it started happening to me; the voices you see. I wasn’t sure what it was all about, I would be minding my own business when all of a sudden these voices would appear in my head. I thought I was going crazy, little did I know that that was just the beginning. After the voices came the nightmares, I couldn’t sleep at night, because they were so bad, and so vivid. When I did sleep, I would wake up with cuts all over my body because I had done it in my dreams.” His voice shuddered, and then he continued. “I was sure nothing was worse than the nightmares, but…” He pulled off his shirt, and the tattoos I saw engraved on him made me want to gag. Dark spirals that looked like they were engraved upon his chest wielded my attention, and so did the scars. He was full of scars.
“What is that?”
“Trasutes, every elite develops them before they turn.”
“And what does turning do to you?”
“It enables you to do things you couldn’t before, and it gives you gifts. Hypnosis for some, speed for others, strength, invisibility, you name it. It makes us the super race, the desired race.”
“How do you turn?” My voice was barely a whisper, and it was then that I realized I was shaking.
“Sex.” His voice was low, and I wrapped my blanket closer to me. Then it hit me. That’s why everybody was trying to get me, to turn me! But what about Jasper?
“Jasper…” I could barely let the name slip past my throat, and I saw Lake give a quick nod.
“He’s not one of us yet.” His voice was hard, as if he was deeply upset about this fact, but I tried to ignore it, my mind still spinning with questions.
“You’re father thought he could do the job anyway. Being an elite isn’t all benefits.”
“You never have your own privacy, every elite can hear every other elite’s thoughts. You can’t reproduce, and you must always work for the greater good.”
“Turning the humans.”
“But if you can’t reproduce, how do you turn the humans?”
He looked down at his hands for a while, and then answered. “We have been trying to figure that out for a while, because only some are born with the ability to even have sex, but out of the millions that we have, only 2% are born able to turn humans. Meanwhile, the humans have turned violent, and have been killing. So we do whatever is necessary to save ourselves. We kill back.”
“What about me?”
“You are a special case, a mystery in many senses. You were born human because your mother was still human when she met your father, and you were conceived. Because your mother is fully human, she will never be able to turn, but because your father was an elite, you inherit his genes because his were dominant.” He paused, allowing it all to sink in.
“Then why are you guys hired to protect me? Shouldn’t you be protecting me from yourselves?”
“That’s exactly what we are doing.” His voice was harsh. “We need to keep you human, so that we can learn how to reproduce our race.”
“WHAT?” My voice turned into a high shriek, as it dawned on me.” “You’re trying to keep me human, so that I will turn into some sort of mass prostitute?”
The silence I got from Lake affirmed my suspicions. I wanted to scream at him, tell him to stop, but I couldn’t. “ My mom. What about her?”
“There’s nothing that can be done.” His voice was final, as if he had already had this argument before and lost.
“What do you mean nothing can be done? Why isn’t anybody keeping her safe?” I choked out the words, thoroughly appalled that she would be left to defend herself in a world full of monsters.
“She’s refused help.” His voice was flat, and I wanted to protest, to defend her, but it sounded like something mom would’ve done. She never asked anyone to help her, it was just part of her nature. I sighed, my brain speed racing as it informed me that I was sitting near a monster. That I had KISSED a MONSTER!
“How long do elite’s live?”
“Forever, unless they die, and with the resistance that we are facing with the humans, it is key that we have you.” His eyes never lowered, but instead flashed with some sort of proud patriotism. I was his mascot.
“Oh. My. God.” The words slipped out through my parched mouth, and I knew I would have to forget about sleep for a while, if not forever. There was no way I would sleep with Lake around. But you slept on him in the car. I tried to ignore my conscious, but it was hard. Adding truth to the mixture of a very untruthful world was downright annoying.
“What do you mean about the human resistance? Is it possible to fight the effects of the elite?”
His eyebrows furrowed, and I watched him as he pondered telling me something or not. After a bit he spoke, “There is a drug that will remove the effects of the elite, and will leave you human.” My heart raced. There was HOPE! If I could just find it I could…my thoughts died immediately, and I hoped that he hadn’t noticed the enthusiasm that had crossed my face.
“Why didn’t you take it? Don’t you want to be human?”
A mixture of sadness and anger crossed his face as he spoke. “It’s too late. Once you become an elite, you’re always an elite. You must take the drug before you turn.”
I was dying to ask him where the drug was, but I held my tongue. “Thank you for telling me this, but I have another question. How do you expect me to get pregnant a million times?”
His laughter ricocheted off the walls, and minutes passed before he could catch his breath. “We are not as barbaric as you think Jordan. We have incubators that will hold the babies until they are ready.”
“Oh.” I took a deep breath, and pretended to play along. Act excited. Act excited, I told myself over and over again, but it was hard. I didn’t want to do anything but take the drug and be with Jasper. “Where’s the drug?” I asked, trying to act curious, as if I was wondering for pure speculation reasons.
“With the humans. Where, we don’t know. They are in hiding.”
Hiding. Drugs to keep me alive. Jasper. Humans. Hiding. Drugs to keep me alive…my thoughts spun over and over again.
“How long do I have until I turn?” I asked.
I had three months to save my own life.
He didn’t want to go back. His fingers tightened around his steering wheel, as he pulled over at the side of the road. Just until I make my mind up. He had thought. But he knew what the answer would have to be. He would end up going back somehow, to that house that reeked of lies, to the lady who wouldn’t listen to reason, and to the girl. The girl. He sighed, and somehow managed not to curse as he thought about her. She wasn’t a girl, of that he was certain; more like a demon in human form. His throat constricted on the word human, and he could feel a headache coming on. He always got headaches whenever he was stressed or upset, and ever since he had left Jordan, he had gotten more of them. Jordan. The name made the headache worse, and he placed one of his hands on his head. He was burning up. He was never burning up because he was always cold. But this was different.
Go back to the girl.
Girl? Which girl? Jordan? He would if I could, and what was this voice in his head? He tried to question it, but the heat grew more unbearable.
Put your hand back on the wheel and drive.
Willingly his hands obeyed, although he tried to tell them to stay put. What was happening here? He swiftly did a u-turn, and before he knew it was heading back to the Lee’s. Stop! He tried to pull his hands off the steering wheel, but it was like they were moving on a will not his own. Panic flooded through his veins, and curses flew hurriedly out his perfect lips. With one last wrench he tried to pull his hands off the steering wheel, and this time it worked. His tanned hands flew up into his face, momentarily blocking his view, and then back down on the wheel, but it was too late. The car had already made contact, and was veering into a tree.
Then all went black.
He woke to a throbbing headache. Groans emitted from his cold lips, and he tried to lift his head, but it was all in vain. He managed to move his head slowly until he could lift it up without getting too dizzy. Blood ran down one cheek leaving red stains in its wake. Ear bud. Ear bud. He glanced around for it, only to feel it hanging around his neck. Tentatively he reached a hand up, and pushed it back into his ear.
“Hello?” His voice was gravely, as if it was full of dirt. He spat out the broken window, only to feel disgust as his own blood littered the hood of his car.
“Yeah.” The voice on the other end sounded wary, as if already suspicious of him.
“Yeah this is Jasper, number 3117, I’ve been in an accident, could you send a dispatch to come and pick me up?” The words tumbled through his mouth sloppily, and he wondered how he had managed to speak. He spat again, and tried to keep back the bile that grew in his throat. Blood and stomach fluids never sit well.
“Are you okay?” The voice was warm now, and he tried not to be too sarcastic in his answer.
“No. I’m fine. I’ve just been in an accident, and I can’t drive, and there’s blood all in my mouth, and I ache like hell. But I’m fine. What the heck was that? I asked for a dispatch, of course I’m not okay.”
There was silence at the other end, and then he heard chuckling. He recognized who the eavesdropper had been.
“Josh, this isn’t funny.” Though he could feel the smile growing on his face. Josh had always goaded him about taking too many risks.
“Your-in-an-accident.” The words meshed together between Josh’s words, and then he sobered. “No, you’re okay though, right?”
“Yeah, fine, except I heard a voice. Weird.”
“Josh?” His voice sounded loud, and he wondered if Josh was playing a game, but he didn’t have time to wonder long as a car drove up and pulled over. Hmm, that was weird, he thought, but right now all he wanted to focus on was getting better.
“Three months.” I gasped out the words, as I looked into his face. His face betrayed nothing as he looked back at me, and I wanted to scream. “Is there nothing I can do to stop the effects of whatever it is in my blood?”
“It’s not in your blood Jordan. It’s in your soul.”
I could feel my mouth popping over, and I placed a hand over my lips to muffle my scream. Tears blurred my vision, and curses fell from my lips. This wasn’t fair. Not fair at all! As if reading my thoughts, his voice drew my attention immediately.
“Nobody said life was fair princess.”
Princess. I felt like I was trapped in Pirates of the Caribbean when he said those words. Except this wasn’t a movie, and I didn’t know the ending. I took a breath, trying to prepare myself for the inevitable. I must find the drug, of that I was sure, but how? I wasn’t exactly free at the moment, and I had three guys that would do whatever it would take to keep me alive. An image flitted through my brain of me holding a pistol and tying them up.
Too bad they live forever, and are stronger than any rope you own. I jumped. The voice was back. Timidly I glanced up into Lake’s eyes, and hoped he hadn’t noticed my reaction.
Go away, I thought, trying to order the voice away, but it was defiant.
I’m not going to leave you. A chill ran down my spine, and I tried not to let it know that I was scared of it.
What are you?
Your worst nightmare.
It was like that line in a movie, where the horrible creature has finally caught the girl. I was the girl. A scream flew past my lips, and then Lake was shaking me.
“What’s wrong? What’s wrong?”
How could I tell him it was the voice in my head? He after all, wanted me to turn into one of them so that he could use me!
“Nothing.” I knew I sucked at lying, but I gave it a try anyways.
“You’re no good at lying, so why do it when you are going to feel guilty about it later?”
“I’m not feeling guilty.” I snapped.
Just one of my many perks. The voice hissed. Everything feels good.
His eyes widened, and I knew my whole, ‘I’m not feeling guilty,’ was giving him a good idea about why I had screamed.
“Josh!” Lake’s voice was loud, and within seconds I could hear footsteps pounding up the wooden stairs. My door flew open, and I ducked, wondering if they could put any less force into it. Tear my door down, why don’t you? I thought.
“It’s the voices. Do you have the drug?”
I watched in horror as Josh dug out a syringe.
“What is that?” Somehow I had managed to keep my voice in my panic. “I thought you said there was nothing to slow this.”
“I lied, honey.” Lake deadpanned. I knew my expression betrayed me. He lied to me. Jasper would have never lied to me.
But he did. The voice hissed evilly. I bit my tongue, and tried to struggle away from Lake’s ironclad grip.
“WHAT IS THIS?”
“Isn’t that a sleeping drug?”
“Yeah, but it also keeps the voice away for a bit. Nighty-night.” Something about the way he said goodnight made me suspicious. I tried to scream again, but a hand clamped down on my mouth, and before I knew it the needle jabbed into my skin. I struggled to keep my eyes open, but with every blink, more black filled my vision.
“Jasper.” I croaked, and then all went black.
A figure stepped out of the car and walked towards him. He tried to focus his eyes on who it was, but it was too dark to see.
“Hello?” His voice was weak as he tried to speak, and he wondered how much blood he had lost. The silence that filled the air was unbearable, and he wondered if the guy had heard him.
“Hel…” His voice cut off, and a hand slipped over his mouth.
“I heard you the first time.” The voice was hard, and he could smell cigarette smoke in the air. He tried to struggle, but it was hard, and he hurt all over. Most of the times you are in a car accident, you don’t have to fight for your life, when a car pulls over.
“What do you want?” His voice was muffled as he tried to speak, and all that earned him was a hard rap across the face with the end of the cigarette. He screamed in pain as the end burned into his forehead. Finally after what seemed like forever, the brand was taken off.
“Had enough have you? What about when my little girl screamed, wasn’t that enough too eh?”
“Got that right you fool. You’re going to pay, and your going to pay big. I have all the evidence.” He heard some shuffling around, and then voices emitted into the air, one of them a voice he recognized.
“Did Jasper ever touch you dirty?”
“So he did touch you?”
Screams and sobs filled the air, and he tried to talk, but his mind was full of questions. Jordan? What had she done? Was she really that low enough to tell lies about him? His mind raced with all the things that he had believed about her, how careful he had always been with her, and yet…the voices still rang in his head, and he shuddered.
“What did you do to Jordan?” His voice was hard and clear even though Mr. Lee’s hand still covered it.
“I said, what did you do to…”The hand covering his mouth disappeared, and he tried to sit up so that he could see him more clearly, but the man was gone. Immediately, he started speaking again, wondering if any of that had been overheard through his ear bud. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what sir?”
He sighed, and began to explain his situation, but at that moment his car went on fire. A second later, the gunning of an engine could be heard as the man sped away, leaving Jasper alone, hurt, and waiting to die.
Jasper’s POV Sometimes there comes a point that not even cursing helps. It’s a point beyond screaming, or angry words and emotions. It’s a place that has pushed back all your walls and left you broken and bleeding along the side of a highway. Messed up so bad that you don’t even know what your name is anymore: vulnerable. That’s where he was. Some may say it takes a special kind of person to be vulnerable, to let yourself be susceptible to the whole wide world. It takes a special kind of person to not be. A groan escaped his lips, and to be honest a couple of tears flowed down his cheeks. Blood splattered his clothes, and dripped relentlessly onto the floor of his car. Jordan’s favorite car. He tried to swallow, but ended up spitting up blood, and then succumbing momentarily to the empty space, but not for long enough. Pain filled his minds, and exploded into his veins. Slowly he moved his head; only to drop back down as dizziness overwhelmed him. He wasn’t used to being hurt. Not like this anyway. He had made a point to never get beaten like this again. Memories filled his head. Memories that he had tried for so long to rid himself of, but they came anyways. As if he needed more pain… His father lifted the belt, and he could hear the belt buckle whistle in the air seconds before it hit into him. He blinked. Not now. Not now. Not ever! He was stronger than this. He tried to move himself, tried to pull himself up, but was now facing the impossible. A scream tore through his cracked and bleeding lips. It was a scream that was beyond agony, but a scream of the dying, of the frightened, of the beaten. He shifted his weight, only to fall again, his head rebounding limply from the airbag. Blood dribbled from his lips as he succumbed once again to his nightmares. His heartbeat slowed. There wasn’t much more time for him. Close by a car door slammed, and two figures emerged in the night. There was no need for flashlights as they could see clearly in the dark. Their eyesight was clear, every leaf stood out to them, each edge as clear as glass. Their pale figures slipped lightly through the brush as they neared the accident site. “Is he still alive?” A voice asked, his unmistakable accent sounded foreign. “Of course he is, can’t you hear his heart?” “Right. Of course, silly me. Well, lets be done with it.” They approached, cautiously on tiptoes. One of the figures leaned down, and stuck his head in through the broken drivers window. “Ahh, like I said, still alive.” The figure cracked a grin, and then reached down. “Help me pick him up, we need to get him back with the other one. He needs medicine as well.” Deftly its fingers enclosed around the stranger’s wrists and pulled the inert body slowly out the broken window, careful not to bruise him. “Good God, what happened here?” The foreign voice asked again, the accent clearer in obvious nervousness. “It was an accident. What do you think we were coming for? A spilled glass of water?” “You mock me.” “I do.” “Never do it again.” “Or what?” “Or else you won’t live to tell about it.” “You can’t kill me.” “Don’t tempt me.” The foreign voice was grave, and he let go of the legs of the stranger, letting him flop to the ground. “Why are you so antsy?” “I just don’t feel right about this. Jasper is a good guy.” “And he still is a good guy, but he’ll be a better elite.” “I wish we had never come here.” The foreign voice was low, barely loud enough to hear, but heard it was. “What was that?” “I said I wish we had never come!” “You can’t go around defying orders!” “And you can? Somehow it is always you who gets away with it, always honing it off as for the greater good. But you know what I think? I think it’s for the greater, ‘Josh.’ You will never be happy until you rule everything won’t you?” Silence ruled the forest, and then Josh spoke. His words were deadly calm. “I will pretend you didn’t say that.” “And why should you pretend that, you self relying brat?” Turmoil filled the air, and hands flew as the first figure struck out against the second one. Their panted breath filled the air, and Jasper was momentarily forgotten. “What did you call me pig?” “You heard me bastard.” The sheathing sound of knife filled the air, the metallic ring filling the air as the first figure stood above the other. “I told you not to mess with me.” “Go ahead, kill me, I’m not scared of you. Your just a little s**t anyway.” The victims voice was deadly quiet as he looked up unblinkingly into his enemy’s eyes. The figure’s hands dropped and slashed a wound across the foreign voice’s cheek. “I’m not going to kill you yet.” He whispered, “You may come in useful as of yet.” The figure turned back around to pick up Jasper. But Jasper was gone.
His life was fading fast like a speeding bullet shot out of a 45. All he could do was lay there dying as the fire burnt inside of him. This unnatural burning fire not from anger or any other feeling that can consume a human body. It was fire from a beast a beast that wanted to come out of him. He could feel it consuming him. Blood surrounded his body, and he tried to move quietly, he needed to get away.
Peeking quietly through the brushes that engulfed him he looked out, hoping beyond that the figures were gone. Figures he had once called his friends. Angry bile surged in his throat and he tried not to speak as he saw the feet. One pair still moving, still dancing as they moved and the other pair, lying unnaturally still on the cold hard ground.
His body ached, and he tried not to groan as he shifted to his side. He needed help soon, or else he would die. Of that simple fact he was sure, but where to go? He wasn’t exactly in the best position to run anywhere lately.
Their car. The idea caught in his mind, and he tried to raise himself to his feet, but it was hard. Blood ran from his cuts and his mind swam in dizziness. He pulled himself up by a branch from a tree, and stood, panting hard. Slowly he tried to put one foot in front of the other, but it hurt. Pain overwhelmed all of his senses, and every time he blinked, black filled in his vision. Above all that, the voices started again.
Where do you think your going?
Shut up. He urged, and continued on his way, but it ignored him.
Suddenly an overwhelming sense filled him to turn around, but he fought it. Grunting he whispered, ‘hah, I’m in control now!” He knew he had to move faster, so he tried to speed up his pace. Blood ran down his nose, and his body begged him to stop, but he couldn’t. He had to keep going. Jordan. He whispered, ‘I’m coming.’
Scream! The voice commanded wildly, and he could feel his mouth open, but his throat was too dry to issue a sound. He could see the car parked along the side of the road in front of him, and he hurried to it. Please be unlocked, he begged, and it was. The keys were still in the ignition. He slowly eased himself into the seat, and he felt under the car for bandages. There was nothing but a shirt. That was right, he mumbled, elite don’t get hurt. He ripped the shirt apart, and tried to use it as makeshift bandages, and then slowly pulled into reverse. The car lurched backwards, and he managed to steer it onto the road.
“Bye-bye suckers.” He whispered, and slammed his foot on the gas. He needed to get to Jordan’s right away.
My eyes struggled to open, and I was aware of a hand on my forehead. I blinked and tried to focus on whoever it was. A pale face flickered in my vision, and I was stunned by how hard it was to actually focus on it.
“Jordan.” His voice was calm, and his fingertips brushed my forehead. It felt nice, the coolness mixing against my hot head. A sigh slipped through my parched lips, and I shifted slightly as I rolled onto my side. Lake filled my view, and confusion overwhelmed me. Weird emotions choked me, and I wasn’t sure why, but hate overwhelmed me. Lake’s lips creased in worry, as he stared at me. “What’s wrong?” He whispered, allowing his cool breath to wash over me. That felt good too, but why did I hate him so much? I could feel tension fill my body as his fingers touched my cheek, and then my chin. Worry filled his eyes, and my words felt awkward.
“I’m supposed to hate you.” The whisper slipped out of my lips, and hurt crowded his face, but I quickly tried to amend it. “I don’t know why though, I don’t, remember.” The hurt instantly disappeared, and he flashed a smile at me.
“It must be the Motrin, it brings on weird emotions.” Motrin. Bright images flashed through my head bringing on a headache, and I winced. Motrin. Needle. Screaming. Darkness.
“You.” I could feel my voice growing stronger, and the world no longer danced crazily about me. “You stuck me!” Accusation filled my voice, and I sat up, slapping his hands off of me. “How dare you touch me?”
I could see the anger grow in his eyes, but he covered it with a smile. But it didn’t fool me, and I took a deep breath. Apparently he had spoken too soon. My hands clenched into fists by my side, and I tried to take deep breaths before I spoke again.
His eyes burned into mine, and I promised myself to not lose eye contact, I could at least be stronger than him in that area. He reached for me and I lowered my eyes. I guess I wasn’t stronger. A cold finger touched my face, causing my entire body to shake. I didn't like not knowing what was going to happen. Would it hurt? My thoughts turned to Jasper. Jasper. I was trying hard to remember all the day's I had spent with him. Surely, one day we would be reunited with each other. Love always finds a way, right?
I peeked up at the person in front of me. He stared back. “Are you frightened?" He was wasting time. I just wanted it to be all over. I wanted it to be quick. “Why are you talking to me?"
"What do you think I should do?"
"Well, considering the fact that you want to kill me, I suggest you do it now."
"And why do I want to kill you?" He was playing games. It infuriated me.
“I know what you are. I know what you want so just get it over with. I know I should be begging you to let me live, but your playing games with me and it’s pissing me off!" I was out of breath by the time I was done speaking. He was looking at me like I was crazy and I continued to talk. For the time being it made me more relaxed, even though I was scared out of my wits. “Fine I’ll play along. If you don't want to kill me, which I know is a lie, what do you want?” Silence filled the room, and I dared another peek up at him. He was still staring at me, and I wondered what he was trying to figure out. Which way to kill me first? Though, I was confused at why he was going to kill me when my father would most likely kill him, when I was dead.
“He’s not going to kill you.” A calm voice spoke, and shivers ran up the small of my back. I recognized that voice. I turned my head slightly, and his face filled my vision as I honed in on him. Jasper. A gasp slipped out of my lips as I took him in. Blood ran down his perfect pale face and splattered onto his shirt. His eyes emitted a black fire, and I shrank back from him in fear as I noticed the silver blade in his hand.
“I knew you were coming.” Lake’s voice was calm, “although I would’ve expected the others to be a bit more of a challenge than this. Defeat them eh?” Jasper remained silent, and Lake’s eyes narrowed as he studied him. “Ah, I see, they had a fight…Silly boys.” His voice sounded tired at he stared at Jasper, and I wondered what was happening. It seemed like Jasper was giving him information without speaking. As they stared at one another I managed to slip away from Lake’s cold fingers, and scoot further against the wall.
Within seconds the spell seemed broken, and Lake’s leaned across the bed to where I was and yanked my by an arm. My world span, and a small shriek parted my lips.
“Let go of her.” Jasper’s voice was loud as he walked over to us, his weapon poised to kill.
“Or what? You’re going to kill me? I’m an elite. Death doesn’t scare me.” Lake’s voice was mocking, and he pulled me closer to him. “You won’t get me without her dead, and you know how important it is to keep the lady alive.” His fingers moved to my throat where they tightened, and I could feel the air die in my throat.
Worry crowded Jasper’s eyes, and I prayed that he wouldn’t do anything rash. I just want to live, I thought over and over again.
“Let go of her.” He ordered again, his voice ordering strict obedience.
“No.” Jasper’s hand poised in the air, and Lake’s grip on me grew tighter as he spoke. “You know what will happen if you miss don’t you? Either she’ll die, or the wound will force her into an elite. If it’s a life-threatening wound you will only have so long to get the drug before she turns. And you won’t get the drug. Ever.”
I bit my lip. Please let my death be short, I prayed as I wondered how much longer I could go before I died of suffocation. What was beyond death? Heaven? Would I go to heaven? Questions raged in my mind as I watched my beloved stand above me, ready to seal my fate. His lips moved silently, and then he dropped the knife.
Blood gushed from her body, and he stood above her, watching as she crumpled to the floor along with the dead body of Lake. Hurriedly he reached for her, and pressed blankets to her wounds to stop the bleeding as she lay there shaking. His eyes seemed mesmerized by her small form that lay convulsing on the floor, but he knew he needed to hurry. They needed to go, to find this drug before it was to late. He scooped her up in his arms, and laid her on the bed as he found the necessities for the trip. Food, money, clothes, bandages…what else? He ran down the steps to the car, and unloaded the supplies and ran back up for the girl, allowing his perfect arms to cradle her. Her lips parted in a small cry, and pain shot through him like a bullet. Silent prayers emerged from his lips as his feet bounded down the steps to the car. Pain shot through him, and he wondered how much longer he would be able to keep going. He reached behind his seat, and grabbed a syringe filled with painkiller, and then shot himself with it. Curses parted his perfect lips, and he sat at the driver’s seat shaking, waiting for the unnatural euphoria to fill him once again. Only when another cry sounded from Jordan did he start the car.
“I’m sorry love. I’m sorry.” His hand caressed her hot forehead, and he lurched the car into the darkness, driving to find a drug that he knew existed, but was not quite sure where.
The sun rose, blinding him as he continued on his way. He glanced at his watch, 4:17. He had been driving for 5 hours. Only. It seemed so much longer than that. Exhaustion filled his body, and he knew he needed to pull over soon, or else everything would be lost. Reluctantly he pulled the car over at the side of the dirt road, where he closed his eyes to catch some sleep just as she awoke.
Everything was hot, and sweat rolled off the sides of my face as I blinked.
I groaned. A bothersome light penetrated my eyelids, but my body refused to respond. Sensation seeped back into some of my muscles as I felt the stiff lead weights that were my legs begin to move. Every part of me was fatigued, but I willed myself to move. Slowly I rolled my head, and my eyes focused on the figure in front of me? Jasper. Was I dead? Was this hell? It sure was hot, but Jasper wouldn’t have gone to hell.
“Jasper.” The name came out in a barely audible whisper, but he stirred slightly. “Jasper.” My throat hurt, and I could barely rasp out his name. He didn’t move. My eyes glanced around the car, and I noticed a bottle of water near to me. My hands reached for it eagerly, and in my excitement I managed to spill a lot of it on me. Curses formed in my mouth, but I was too tired to even speak. The cool water dripped down my throat, and I gulped it down. Who knew water could be so refreshing? I allowed a minute for my dizzy head to level itself before I slid open the door. I needed to stretch for a little bit.
The morning air was chilly, and goose bumps arose on my skin. I hugged my arms around me and sat on the hood of the car as I stared up at the sunrise. Fragmented images filled my mind as I tried to figure out how Jasper had gotten me, but everything seemed so blurry. As if someone or something had tampered with my memory. I could remember some things, but it felt like the rest were hidden in some dark corridor in my mind. I sighed, and leaned back against the car’s hood and stared up at the sky. The car’s cold metal seeped through my light T-shirt, chilling me to the bone, and a slight shiver swept through my body, but I didn’t care. I watched the trees sway slightly in the wind and a few clouds trailing across the baby blue sky. It was all so perfect in spite of my dismally distressing life. Tears crept to my eyes as I swam through the memories in my head. Elite. The threesome. Jasper. Voices. The last thought tore through my body, and Lake’s words swept through my mind again.
“It’s not in your blood Jordan. It’s in your soul.” A scream tore through my lips, and a door slammed. Within seconds Jasper was standing in front of me. Blood dripped from a cut on his head, and a t-shirt was tied around what I assumed were wounds on his chest. One of his hands gripped the side of the car, and I noticed that he had been limping.
“What’s wrong?” His voice was low, and worry crowded into his dark eyes. And that was when I lost it. I hadn’t seen him in so long, and then here he was hurt…still protecting me. The anxious energy that had brought me this far began to wither away and my even breathing surrendered to desperate gasping. Warm arms slid around my shaking frame, and I breathed in Jasper’s scent. “It’s all right. I’m here.” His voice was low, and I tried to believe him.
“But will you leave me again?” Hesitantly I looked up into his face, and the pain that crowded his face, wrenched my heart in two. “I’m sorry.” I whispered, and buried my head into his chest. His fingers tightened around my arms, biting into them as he spoke.
“I will never leave you again.”
I faced him hesitantly, aware of the blood that had rushed warm to my lips; aware of my bare, tear-streaked face; but continued to meet his kind eyes with mine. He gazed at my face with compassion and intrigue, drawing his thumb to my cheek and caressing it slowly, removing a tear’s residue while still absorbed somewhere in the depth of my eyes. I was nervous, but I moved closer. His face was close to mine, and we drew together until we touched noses. His breath was feathery light across my skin, and tingles arose across my skin. Slowly, he pulled me into his arms, and he laid his head across the top of mine.
“Jasper.” My voice was soft, and tears still rolled down my cheeks. “Where are we going?” His arms grew hard, and he pulled away from me. His face was serious, and I mentally berated myself for killing the moment.
“To get the drug.” I blinked, unsure of what he was talking about for a second, and then remembered.
“The voices.” I whispered, and he nodded slightly. I slid off the front of the hood, and he slid his hand into mine. “Jasper” I whispered softly, and he stopped a moment to glance back at me. The fear in my voice was more noticeable now.
“What?” he whispered softly, but continuing to stare blankly ahead at the forest.
“What is going to happen to us?” I whispered softly and he turned and looked at me.
“You’re really scared, aren’t you” he said and I closed my eyes a moment.
“Is admitting, considered a weakness?” I asked and he smiled softly.
“No, but to me, yes” he said and I let a smile play on my pink lips.
“Yes, I’m scared,” I whispered and he stopped a moment.
“So am I” he said once, and stared at me for a moment, taking in my tearstained face. “But, I won’t let anything happen to you. I swear.”
“Don’t swear anything to me. Please. Instead, promise for your love for me.” My voice cracked as I spoke, and a faint smile arose on his perfect lips.
“Okay. I promise, by my love for you, that I will never let anything happen to you.” His cool breath washed over my face, and he gently squeezed my hand. Slowly I squeezed his back, and tried to push back my worries about what would happen to us in the end.
Sheets of rain slid down the car window as we drove on. Wondering if my emotions secretly influenced the weather, I heaved a sigh and frowned as I concentrated on the telephone poles-a blur as they whizzed by. Everything under the clouds was saturated with moisture, and the sidewalks and town centers were desolate. The privacy and seclusion from everyone else was all too appeasing in my mind, and I glanced over at Jasper. I hadn’t been expecting to see Jasper again, and every time I looked at him, I was afraid I was going to wake up from a dream. Maybe this was a dream. It was too good to be true. But I had never had this real of a dream before. But even if it was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up. I glanced over at him, and couldn’t help but stare. He was so perfect. His cheekbones perfectly cut, moving towards his luscious lips. His eyes were big and breathtaking, and set exactly the right space apart. I wondered if I was drooling yet, and Jasper slid a peek at me.
“What are you looking at?” His voice was sad, and I wanted so hard to make him happy.
“You.” I tried to keep my voice light, but it was hard. If this wasn’t a dream, then we were really screwed. I watched as he reached for something in his pocket, and a gasp slipped out of my mouth as I saw what it was. In his palm dangled the silver necklace he had given me so long ago. The silver chain slipped through his fingers as he gave it to me, and I saw a shadow of pain flash in his eyes.
“Here. Keep it.” A burning sensation rushed through my fingers as our fingers touched, and I pulled back to fast. Jasper kept his eyes on the road, but I swear I saw his eyes harden a little.
I didn’t know what to say. What was I supposed to say? Thank you? For what? I was the one who had given it back to him in the first place. I sighed. I didn’t even want to think about what had happened, but I knew I needed to.
“Look, about then.” He held up a hand, silencing me.
“I’m not up for it right now.” His voice came out harder than what I was used to, and I sank back into my seat, and faced the window and watched as the telephone poles race by again. It was then that I convinced myself that this was all a dream. He had been harsh; he had never been like that before. I slapped my forehead with an open palm, and a small cry parted my lips. I could feel Jasper’s eyes on me, but I didn’t care. I wanted to wake up. I pushed my hand away from me, and was just about to hit myself again, when a hand closed around my wrist.
“What are you doing?”
“Trying to wake up.” I tried to jerk my hand away from him, but he held onto it all the tighter.
“You’re not asleep Jordan.”
“Sure,” I grumbled. “But you’re here so it obviously is.” Pain crossed his face for a second, and I took a breath. “You left me, and I have to wake up to get rid of Lake. He shot me.” Hysteria rose in my voice, and I began to tremble.
“Jordan. Listen to me. You’re not asleep.” His hand tightened even more around my wrist, and I began to wonder if I could lose an arm in my sleep.
“But Jasper would have never hurt me. And you’re hurting me! For all I know, you’re another elite. Let me guess, you want me to? Can’t wait until they make me a mass prostitute as well?” Tears dripped from my eyes, and I desperately wondered why I wasn’t waking up. Instantly the hand around my wrist dropped, and the car lurched to a stop in the middle of the road.
“Jordan, I do want you.” His voice was low and husky. “But not like that right now. Right now I want you sane.” His hand held my face, so that I was forced to look into his eyes. “And nobody is ever going to touch you again.”
I bit down hard on my lip, and tried to stop crying, but the tears kept on flowing. He cleared his throat and continued. “And this is not a dream. You just need some sleep love. I promise nothing is going to happen to you.”
I nodded, and closed my eyes, surprised by how sleepy I was. “So this isn’t a dream?” I croaked.
“If it was, it would’ve been a nightmare.” He said, and I managed to glare at him.
“But you’re in it, so of course it would’ve been a dream.” I managed.
“You put me too high up.” He murmured, and he kissed his fingers and gently placed them on my head.
“And you don’t put yourself high enough.” I replied.
He watched as she fell asleep, her head lolling to the side a little as he drove, and he wondered what to do. He hadn’t told her about the voices. Hadn’t told her about the fact that he only had 4 days left until he turned. He hadn’t wanted to worry her. The fact was that he was scared to death. He didn’t even know the first place to look for the drug, but as long as he could at least find the humans before he changed, he could drop her off. He would have to let her go again. A lump grew in his throat, and he thought about the promises he had just made to her. Somehow, he would find a way not to break them, he vowed silently as he drove.
The sun was high in the sky, and he pulled into a gas station. The elite owned practically everything, and he dug in his pockets for his ID card. Opening the door slowly, he emerged, catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His shirt was stained with blood, and the T-shirt he had used as a bandage, was still tied around his chest. His hair was sticking everywhere, and blood still dripped from small wounds on his face from the glass that had shattered. His mind spun with one sentence: a big enough wound will turn you.
He limped to the convenience store, past the staring eyes to the counter. A lady stood behind the counter with blonde hair, and a very robust figure. A shirt two sizes two small told him she was available, and he tried to look anywhere else than her overly large bosom. What was with ladies and trying to show everyone cleavage? He settled on staring at his fingers as they danced awkwardly on the counter. “Do you have any bandages?” His voice was clear, and he wondered if she was going to ask for ID.
“Yeah.” Her voice was as light as a musical wind chime, and he stood there dumbly for a second, wondering why she didn’t tell him where they were. He dared a glance up at her, and she stood there all smiles.
“Well, where are they? I’m kind of hurt right now.”
A scream emitted from her lips, as if she hadn’t seen the wounds before, and he wanted to slap her. Oh. My- his thought structure broke off when he saw two very strong Elites walking towards him.
“This guy giving you any trouble Honey?”
Jasper rolled his eyes. She was the one looking for trouble in that shirt of hers, but he bit his tongue. Why he was the one always accused of misbehaving was beyond him.
“No.” Her voice was low and husky, and he rolled his eyes, disgusted.
“Do you have an ID?” Said Elite number one. He stood a good foot over Jasper, and looked like one of those guys you’d meet in a cattle ranch out west.
Jasper pulled his ID out of his pocket, and shoved it at the guy. Most likely he outranked this guy, and they would have to do anything he asked. There was a good thing about having been assigned the captain’s daughter. Or having been assigned.
“How can I help you Mr. Johnson?” As if it wasn’t obvious, thought Jasper furiously.
“I need some bandages, and probably a doctor as well.” Blackness began to take over Jasper’s vision, and he swayed slightly. Large, strong hands gripped his shoulders, and seconds later he found himself lying down on a mat, stripped of his clothes.
“The doc will be with you in just a second.” Elite number 1 told him, and left. Jasper sighed; he hoped the doctor wasn’t Honey.
Moments later the door swung open, and a man came in. He had dark hair, and smelled like Calvin Klein. Jasper let his eyes linger on him for a second. The man was pale, and had a small mustache. In his hands he carried a black briefcase. He looked like a doctor, except for the big muscles under his tight white shirt. Jasper wondered what he had been before he had turned.
“I’ll have you all taken care of in a couple of minutes sir.”
Jasper closed his eyes, not wanting to see needles enter his body and went to sleep.
A hand roused him, “Sir, wake up. It’s 4:00.” He opened his eyes, and stared into the unfamiliar face.
“Where, where am I?” His voice was low and thick with sleep.
“In Dyersburg sir.”
“Oh.” He didn’t really know where that was, but he managed to sit up. He ached, but his wounds were all fixed up. Bright bandages covered most of his upper torso, and his hands searched for his shirt.
“I got a new shirt for you, because the other one was covered in blood.” She held out a bright blue shirt, and he slipped it on, and stared at her. It was Honey. He tried not to roll his eyes as he thanked her, and he hoped she hadn’t done anything to him while he was sleeping.
Jordan. The name rolled within him, and he stood up, and rushed past Honey to his car. His eyes searched the car for her, until he found her. She was still asleep, right where he left her. He sighed in relief, and opened the car door. They needed to be going.
“Jasper.” The word slid out of my mouth, and I looked at him. We had been on the road for two days, and yet we still showed no signs of stopping. The voice hadn’t shown up in a while, and I was desperate to use this time without it to talk to Jasper.
“What?” His voice was tired, and he wouldn’t look at me.
“Talk to me. What’s wrong?” He took a deep breath, and I hoped he wouldn’t explode. But instead he changed the subject.
“How did you sleep?”
I pretended to ignore his question, and launched into what I had been feeling. “Look, about after you left.” He held up a hand, and I knew he was trying to silence me, but I was tired of this. “Why don’t you want to talk about it?”
My voice was hard, and he turned to look at me for a brief second. “Because than it is easier for me to believe that it didn’t happen.” His voice broke, and I stared at him. He slid his hand into mine. I couldn’t bear to look in his eyes, so desperate for a return of affection, but I let my fingers hang limply in his grasp. Guilt weighed down my insides as I blankly stared out the window. I could feel the pressure of his gaze on the side of my face as I pretended to be immersed with the trees that flew by outside. I willed him to look somewhere else, or for me to stop wearing my emotions on my sleeve.
“Jordan.” His voice was quiet, and I dared a peek at him. “I have to tell you something.” his voice broke again, and my eyes began to moisten. I didn’t like where this was going. He pulled off to the side of the road, and stared at me, his perfect face absolutely serious and sad. “I have to let you go.”
“No.” I whispered, not this again. What had I done?
“It’s not that I don’t want you- I do, but I have two days.” Two. The word broke through my mind and seared my heart and soul.
“NO!” My ragged scream erupted from my lips, and Jasper pulled me to him, letting me scream into his shoulders. Tears raced down my cheeks, and I bit my lip until it bled. Jaspers hands massaged into my back, but I could feel him shaking as well.
“I’m going to drop you off with some humans.” He whispered. “They can keep you human.”
“I don’t want to be human if you’re not!” My voice broke and I began to sob openly again. I hated for him to see me this way, and I covered my face with my hands, ashamed at the way I had revealed my vulnerability again. He softly drew me into his lap, and held my hand in his. I clutched on to his hand in return, my hand no longer limp. He protected each finger with his palm, massaging each one and the spaces in between. My sobs faded, and he gently pushed me back, his eyes studying my face.
“I’m going to have to let you go.” He murmured, and I could feel my heart breaking all over again. I didn’t want him to. I wanted to stay with him forever and ever, and that was when it hit me.
“You’re going to be immortal- without me.” My voice broke, and his face grew sad again. Images of me old and gray ran before my eyes, while he stayed there: forever young and perfectly beautiful.
“I promise you I won’t last a day longer than you.” His dark eyes held mine, and I wondered if I was hallucinating the sudden moisture in his eyes. I began to panic again, and not even the scent of him could calm me down.
“I’m not going to let you go.” I vowed, the sudden whisper hissing through my teeth. I clenched my teeth together, and tried to look intimidating. His face grew sober, and I could tell I was frustrating him.
“Don’t you see, you have to?” His voice was deathly soft, and shivers rose on my back. “Can’t you see that this is ripping me apart? I want to be with you. Of course I do, I love you, but I can’t have you. I have to deal with that, and it’s killing me. I don’t want to let you go, if anything I want to hold onto you and fight with all that is within me, but I can’t. I know what’s going to happen when I turn. I won’t be able to be with you without craving for you.” A single tear rolled down his perfect cheek, and I cupped my hand around his chin, catching it.
“I don’t mind that.” I whispered, and suddenly he grabbed me fiercely.
“Don’t you understand? I won’t be able to control myself. I won’t be able to protect you anymore. I’ll be the monster.” He spoke the last word in a whisper, and I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks again. What was this? Some kind of sick joke? No. Not my Jasper a monster. NO! And then it all happened so fast. His lips were warm against mine, pressing…. urging for more; insistent on being as close to me as possible. I was just as unrelenting, discovering that his lips were necessary to live- replacing oxygen with his kisses. The salty taste of my tears was tangible as they moistened our lips and we molded together. Our hearts thumped ecstatically at each other from within our systems, reaching out of our chests to fuse together. Gasping and shuddering, strange noises escaped when our mouths separated, followed by silence. I stared into his eyes, and tried to fathom his expression as we got lost in each other’s eyes, looking for an explanation, a rationalization to make sense of our feelings. He gazed at me with such intrigue, and I could do nothing but feel disconcertion as to why he displayed such interest.
“Promise me you’ll go with them.” His voice was low and husky as he stared at me. His big dark eyes swam with unshed tears, and tentatively he placed his hands over mine. He knew I couldn’t refuse him anything when he looked at me like that, and I stupidly shook my head yes, only to realize after what I agreed to.
“You just agreed.” He moved closer to me, and I breathed in his scent, unable to think clearly at all now. “Promise.” His lips moved within inches from mine, and his cool breath tickled my face. My mind swam disconcertedly, and I tried to take a calming breath, but he kissed the sides of my lips. “Promise.” He whispered again, and his fingers tightened around my wrists, as he slowly brought them over my stomach. I couldn’t make a sound, and he lowered me onto my back, and rested his chin on my chest. “I’m waiting.”
I smiled- something I had not done in ages, not genuinely; not without having to try. I was free. My fingertips lightly grazed my lips where he had kissed me, still tingling with excitement. I had never been kissed like that before. “I,” my voice trembled, and Jasper slid his hand under my back and gave it a gentle squeeze.
“Promise.” He interjected. “Go on, you promise…”
“Promise.” The word came out lightly, and he leaned over me and kissed me lightly on the forehead and pulled away.
A sigh escaped my lips, “Hey that’s not fair.” I mumbled, and I glanced over at him. His dark eyes pooled with some hidden fire underneath, and I shivered.
“I don’t want you to do anything that you’re not ready to.” He said, and I lowered my gaze. I didn’t want him to think of me as a slut, but…tears came to my eyes, and I realized what I had just promised to do: leave him.
“I thought you said you would never leave me again.” I knew that was a low blow, and I could see the pain that registered in Jasper’s face as he stared at me. Silence filled the car, and slowly he leaned his face towards me.
“Jordan.” His voice was low, and sorrow pained his face. “You deserve better. I’ve made you promises, that I’ve fully intended to keep, and I can’t. But I promise you one thing, keep this necklace and use it whenever you need me. I promise I will be there. Always watching you. But I want you to live.” His voice broke, and he cut off eye contact for a second, and then gazed back at me. “I want you to marry, and have lots of kids.” My heart jumped, and then shattered as he spoke that. I wasn’t going to marry Jasper. I wasn’t going to have little kids running around the house that shared his good looks, I wasn’t going to have a best friend and lover to talk to. Tears coursed down my face, and gently he held me.
“Shhh. It’s okay. It’s okay.” His voice was soft as he whispered in my ear, and I held onto him for dear life until I fell asleep.
She had taken it better than he had expected. Slowly and minutely he gently pushed her head off of his shoulder, and reclined her in her seat. His hands gripped the steering wheel, and he slowly pulled back on the highway.
His body burned, and he tried not to think of the many scars and tattoos that now crisscrossed his body. He had once thought he was attractive. Now he was hideous. He was turning into a monster. Monster. The word did strange things to his head, and quiet curses spilled from his full lips. It was because of the stupid thing that he had to leave her. Leave. Images of the way she had looked when she asked him why he was leaving her again drifted through his mind. A tear slipped down his face, and he ignored it. She had looked so broken and forlorn, and to think that he had caused that. The stupid Elite had caused it. He glanced at his watch. 2:01am. He had 9 hours before he turned. He bit his lip, and tried to focus on the road, but his mind wandered. What happened if they didn’t find the humans soon enough? What happened if there were no humans around here? Doubts crowded into his mind, and he tried not to think of that possibility. A sigh escaped from his lips as he gazed out at the dark landscapes. The sun would rise in about two hours. He yawned, and tried to think of anything but sleep. The nightmares hadn’t gotten any better, and they were always of him being lost. Utterly and hopelessly lost, and Jordan needing him, while him not being able to be there. He bit his lip as he realized how close to reality his nightmares had become. Don’t leave me. Her voice played over and over in his head again, and his fingers tightened around the wheel. He wanted to take her in his arms and promise that he would never let her go, never let anyone hurt her- but he couldn’t.
A convulsion shook his body, throwing him to the side into the window, and the car lurched forward, as his foot hit the gas pedal. Instantly he pulled himself together, although his arms still shook. He had forgotten about the convulsions. He checked his watch again - 2:58, a little more than 8 hours yet. He had to get her to the humans before he turned. His eyes grazed her sleeping form, and he couldn’t help but gasp. She was so beautiful and so completely vulnerable, especially when she was asleep. Slowly he reached a finger over to her, and brushed his fingers through her hair, and then down to her cheek. She sighed, and he wanted to kiss her but thought better of it. Who knew if he would be able to stop in time? A shudder racked his body, and he returned his gaze back to the road.
It was still dark enough to barely see, and yet still light enough to make out the shadows of things. Fog permeated the air, shrouding everything in a color of pale gray and opaque. Dismal thoughts seemed to dwell within such clouds. Swamps filled the pastures that he drove by, and dead trees littered the sides of the road. The perfect place for people to hide, he thought casually and then stopped. It was the perfect place; it was dark, and damp and hard to see. Slowly he pulled his car off the road, and reached a hand over to shake Jordan awake.
Her eyes fluttered open, and he could see the fear in her unfocused eyes.
“Shhh. It’s alright, it’s just me; Jasper.”
“Jasper?” Her voice was soft, and something struck in his heart at her voice. He would never hear that voice again after 9 hours from now. Bile surged in his throat, and he tried not to think of that right now.
“Hey. I think we are there.”
Her eyes widened in surprise and then in anger. She tugged her arms around his arm, and pressed her face to him. “No. I’m not leaving you.”
“You promised.” He tried to make his voice hard, as if he didn’t care, but it came out all wrong, soft and husky. He cleared his throat, and tried to look stern. “Don’t make me have to carry you there.” Her arms tightened around him, and he wondered how such a small girl could have such a painful grasp. “Jordy.”
“Promise me.” Tears ran down her face again as she tried to speak. “Promise me that if we get there in time, you’ll take the drug to. Promise me.”
A lump grew in his throat as he stared down at her, and blankly nodded. She bit her lip, and slowly let go of him. “Then let’s go. We need to get you there as fast as possible,” she intoned, and he rolled his eyes. Funny how she could twist this thing around to being all about him.
Gray swirls of fog obscured my view of the figure in front of me. I squinted to try and see through the haze that swallowed the atmosphere. I knew it was Jasper, but I wanted to see him anyway. “Jasper.” My voice echoed through this gray hell, and the figure turned. We had been walking for 5 hours so far, and my legs ached from the sheer exertion of trying to keep up with him. “Yeah?” He stopped, allowing me to catch up to him, and my hand swiftly slid into his.
“How do you know they are here?” Worry crossed his face, and I could tell he had been agonizing over that same question as well.
“I don’t.” His voice was soft, and I was taken aback a bit. Part of me was hysterically happy. If they weren’t here, I wouldn’t have to change! But then realization overtook me, and I began to tremble.
“But you…” He cut me off, and began, obviously thinking I was talking about him not being able to change himself once he changed. Instead I was thinking of him not being able to remain human.
“I won’t hurt you. I promise.” He vowed fiercely, “If I even so much as think about hurting you, I’ll kill myself, so help me, I will. But right now, I will do everything in my power to get you to the humans.” His eyes bored into mine, and I bit my lip: a nervous habit I had developed whenever I was scared or frustrated. “I’d rather have you hurt me, then spend a life without you.”
“I wish you would stop being overly dramatic. You’re going to have to live without me.” His voice was hard, and I couldn’t bear to look into his eyes. My shoulder drooped, and his hands slipped around my waist and gently squeezed it.
“Are you so desperate to get rid of me?” My voice was small, and I could feel his stare on the side of my face.
“Desperate to get rid of you?” Shock wound into his voice, and he jerked my face upwards as he looked at me. His cold hands cradled my face and I stared into his dark eyes and noticed that a gold fire blazed within the depths of them. “Desperate?” His voice hissed through his perfectly white teeth, and he gripped my face harder and jerked it towards him, his cool breath washing over my face. Our lips crushed together, and my body folded into the cracks and spaces of his. His lips were hard and warm and melting as they touched mine, invaded mine, and I began to choke for air, but still he continued. A hand wound itself through my hair and suddenly we were falling onto the cold hard dirt, but he still wasn’t done. His hand slid across the flat of my stomach, and a slow whimper escaped my lips as he continued to press on. I turned my head to the side, allowing my long hair to obscure my vision, and his lips moved slowly down my neck, and I began to shake. Slowly he pulled his head up to mine, where he carefully balanced his face on my chin. His dark eyes burned into mine, and I couldn’t help but return his gaze, as my chest rose and fell with deep gasps. “If anything, I’m desperate for you.” His voice was low and husky, and I tried to avoid his gaze, but his fingers caught my chin, and pulled it upwards again, forcing me to look at him. “Never doubt my love for you Jordy. Never.” His breath did strange things to my mind, and I couldn’t help but continue to shake from the desire in his voice, but he rolled off of me, his still form lying beside my own.
Footsteps sounded in the distance, and Jasper stiffened.
“What is it?” I heard myself say, although I sounded different, as if I was speaking through water.
“Humans.” He spoke with confidence, and a sudden rage filled me.
“You KNEW they were coming?”
“I can smell them.” I gazed him, who was this stranger laying beside me?
“Since when did humans have a smell?” I asked. I could hear the contempt in my voice, and fear gripped my insides. He opened his mouth to answer, but suddenly he began to shake; small whimpers arose from his throat. He sounded like a small puppy that was dying as he lay there, convulsing on the ground. I glanced at my watch; his nine hours were nearly up. In my mind I knew I should be backing up, keeping a safe distance from him, but instead I bent down over his writhing form, and pulled my fingers through his dark hair. The locks of his hair swirled around my fingers, and tears pooled in my eyes as I watched him shake. I wanted to help him, take his pain upon myself, but I knew I couldn’t. Or could I? A hint of silver caught my eyes, and I yanked it from Jasper’s pocket. What was the deal with changing? A big enough wound? Yes, that was it. I closed my eyes and slid open the knife, allowing the thick blade to lay naked in my fingers. But where could I cut? Not someplace where it could ultimately kill me, but somewhere else. Anxiously I lowered the knife to my thigh, and began to press the skin. I had been this hyper to hurt myself, but then again, I never really had a reason to. My excitement numbed the pain for the first bit, but as I began to cut deeper, screams emitted from my throat. My eyes flickered open, and footsteps now clearly rang in my ears. I looked down at the perfect creature by my side, and began to cut deeper, but blackness began to fill my vision. Blood pooled from my leg, and then I disappeared into another place-somewhere dark.