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Falcondell (The Devil's Son)

 

 

 

Falcondell

 

The Devil’s Son

 

By S J Crabb

 

Also By S J Crabb

 

[The Diary Of Madison Brown
__]

[Premier Deception
__]

[The One That Got Away
(Part 1 of The Hardcastle Saga)
__]

[A Matter Of Trust
(Part 2 of The Hardcastle Saga)
__]

[Payback
(Part 3 of The Hardcastle Saga)
__]

[Scarlett
(The Devil’s Daughter)
__]

[Falcondell Part Two
(Retribution)
__]

[Lucas
(The Devil’s Son)]

 

 

[[[sjcrabb.com
]]]

 

 

Copyrighted Material

 

Copyright S J Crabb 2016

S J Crabb has asserted her rights under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the Author of this work.

 

This book is a work of fiction and except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without written permission of the author, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages for review purposes only.

 

 

[]Contents

 

Prologue
Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four
Chapter Five
Chapter Six
Chapter Seven
Chapter Eight
Chapter Nine
Chapter Ten
Chapter Eleven
Chapter Twelve
Chapter Thirteen
Chapter Fourteen
Chapter Fifteen
Chapter Sixteen
Chapter Seventeen
Chapter Eighteen
Chapter Nineteen
Chapter Twenty
Chapter Twenty one
Chapter Twenty two
Chapter Twenty three
Chapter Twenty Four
Chapter Twenty five
Chapter Twenty Six
Chapter Twenty Seven
Chapter Twenty Eight
Chapter Twenty Nine
Chapter Thirty
Chapter Thirty one
Chapter Thirty two
Chapter Thirty three
Chapter Thirty four
Chapter Thirty five
Chapter Thirty six
Chapter Thirty seven
Chapter Thirty eight
Chapter Thirty nine
Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty one
Chapter Forty two
Chapter Forty three
Chapter Forty four
Note from the Author
Falcondell Part two Senior Year, Retribution
Bonus chapters and gift
Scarlett
More Books

Prologue

 

Cally

 

Pushing the curtain back into place I sigh heavily. As I hear the motorbike roaring away I sink down on to my bed and wish for the thousandth time that things were different.

I hate this town. Why can’t life be just normal like you see in the movies? I mean surely I should be able to fancy whoever I want to without the fear of getting beaten up.

Thinking about Jacob I sigh again. I think that I have always liked him. We have grown up together living side by side all these years. We used to be friends until he joined Ash’s gang and took on everything that went with it. Now he doesn’t even look at me let alone talk to me.

The trouble is he is now way out of my league. They are the baddest guys around with the meanest girlfriends. Jacob is going out with Teagan Hicks and I hate every last thing about her. They go to my school so I have to watch them together every day. If they caught me looking though I would be dead meat. Thinking about what happened to Jessica Parker last semester pulls me sharply back to reality. No it’s best that I fade into the background with the rest of the invisibles. We call ourselves that because we may as well be. Falcondell High is not the place to stand out. It’s best just to fade into the furniture and try to get on with your life as best you can without any trouble.

It doesn’t help living next door to your childhood crush though; who also happens to be drop dead gorgeous. Life certainly dealt me a wicked card there, oh well the new semester starts tomorrow and you never know something might happen to change everything.

 

 

Jacob

 

I see the curtain move and can picture Cally behind it. I know that she likes me and probably has done for some time. She doesn’t know that I see her watching me when she thinks that nobody is looking. The trouble is I can feel her whenever she is near me. It is like the air suddenly becomes supercharged and I am in tune to her every move. What she doesn’t know is that I have always liked her too.

We used to have fun growing up as friends which turned into something more the older we got. When I started hanging around with Ash though I quickly realised that his gang was no place for her. As much as I love Ash as a brother I know that he is evil. He has no soul and cares for nothing or nobody. His uncle is no different and the town lives in fear of them both.

I have also grown up with Ash. His mother has never been around and he only sees his father in the holidays. I used to see him watching my family with hunger in his eyes. I know that he craves a loving family, which has been denied to him all his life.

I protect him as best I can, in fact I would die for him. Teagan, my girlfriend is best friends with Ash’s girlfriend Skylar. When I say girlfriends I mean it in the loosest possible sense. They are just there to serve a purpose. We don’t love them and just use them to fulfil a role. We are never faithful and they wouldn’t dare say anything to us, however I know that they give the girls we target hell. Take Jessica Parker for instance, now that was brutal. No, its best that Cally stays invisible for her own protection. Maybe one day things will be different, in fact hope is all I’ve got really because I sure as hell can’t see things changing.

 

 

Gabe

 

As I head off to football practice I think about how my life is about to get extremely complicated. I have grown up with just my mom for many years now. Sadly my father died in a car accident when I was seven years old and it has just been us since then. I don’t have any brothers or sisters, but that is due to change tomorrow.

My cousin Grace is coming to live with us and it will be my job to act as her protector and God only knows she is going to need one. I have met her several times over the years and she is the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen. We know that she is special but even I don’t know the true extent of it.

Her guardians are related to us and Aria is my mom’s sister. They have moved around an awful lot since they took charge of Grace but have decided that she needs a safe environment to see out High school.

If they think that Falcondell High is safe then they need their heads examined. I will have my work cut out for me that’s for sure. If Ash Knight takes a liking to her then I will have big trouble on my hands. Nobody goes against him and his gang and after what happened to Jessica Parker last semester I am not sure that I will be able to keep her safe.

I only hope that her guardians have provided her with strong enough protection because if anyone saw her as she really is then all hell would break loose. No this is going to be one interesting year and I can sense that this is just the calm before the storm.

 

 

Skylar

 

Not a word all Summer. Some boyfriend he is supposed to be. It’s been three months since I last saw him and not even a phone call. I know that he spends his holidays at his father’s but surely they have phones there? If he wasn’t so incredibly hot I would ditch him like a shot.

As mad as I am though I know that it will be short lived as I can’t keep my hands off him when he is around. Being Ash’s girlfriend sure is a full time job.

Not that I actually spend much time with him though. We only meet up at lunch time and at parties. Most of his spare time is taken up with causing trouble and doing his uncle’s dirty work. The rest of it is spent shooting pool or working out at the gym. Not that I’m complaining though, his body is to die for. The full time job is keeping the other girls away. They all want him and who wouldn’t? I’m not stupid and know that he plays around. In fact they all do, it’s too easy for them. Girls throw themselves at them wherever they go. Once they have had their fun though it’s my turn.

I keep those girls from going back; take Jessica Parker as just one example. No, I make it my business to keep my guy and God help anyone who tries to take him from me.

Chapter 1

 

“I am not sure that this was such a good idea. Don’t ask me why but I’ve got a bad feeling about this place.” Laughing to myself I look at Aunt Sarah as she fiddles with her hands looking extremely worried. Placing my hand on hers she visibly relaxes. “That’s not fair Grace, you’re cheating.” She admonishes me, but I notice the sparkle in her eyes as she looks lovingly at me.

I am staying with Aunt Sarah because I am running out of options. I have moved schools several times and I need to find somewhere to settle down in time for my final exams. Aunt Sarah’s son Gabe goes here so it was decided that I would be better off in their care. He would act as my protector and I would make sure that I kept my head down and worked hard.

We are interrupted by the door to the Principal’s office opening and I am interested to see an older lady bearing down on us, her hand outstretched.

Looking at her she is just what I would have expected from a Principal, two piece tweed suit with a silver bun in her hair and glasses. Her features are severe but I notice a tell tale twinkle in her eyes and I instantly relax.

She shakes hands with Aunt Sarah and then as she turns to me her smile falters and she looks immediately worried. Coughing nervously she extends her hand to me and I shake it smiling warmly at her. Clearing her throat she ushers us into her office and we wait for her to take her place behind the desk before we sit down.

As she looks at us it strikes me that she looks worried and I wonder why. However she appears to shake off whatever is bothering her and proceeds in a businesslike fashion.

“Welcome to Falcondell High, Miss Gray, my name is Principal Adams and I am sure that you will be happy here. I can see that you are a grade A student and have a string of accolades that have followed you from your other schools.” She then looks directly at me, her dark green eyes piercing right through me.

“You will need to keep a clean sheet and work hard to catch up though. I notice that you haven’t studied for a few months now, is there a reason for that I should know about?”

Aunt Sarah once again fidgets nervously beside me. “Grace fell ill and was in hospital. It was the result of a nasty accident but she is fully recovered now and keen to get back to the books.”

Looking thoughtful the Principal says, “I am sorry to hear that Miss Gray. If at any stage things become too much for you then you must seek me out immediately.” I smile at her and once again she looks flustered. I am trying to tone it down but I always have this affect on people. Grabbing hold of the locket around my neck I wonder if it will be strong enough. Aunt Sarah sees me and once again visibly pales.

She tried everything to talk my Guardians out of this placement but they were adamant. It was the best place for me and they would ensure that I was well protected. Feeling sorry for her I smile reassuringly at her and once again she frowns. Sighing I sit back in my chair. There is nothing more that I can do. I will just bury myself in my studies and keep myself occupied in my spare time. The time will pass quickly enough and then I can move on, away from Aunt Sarah and Gabe so that they can relax again.

Principal Adams passes a form across the desk for Aunt Sarah to sign. “Whilst you complete the formalities Mrs Rivers I will assign some students to take care of Grace and show her how things work here. If you will excuse me I will ask my secretary to send for them.”

I watch as she exit’s the room. Aunt Sarah starts filling in the form so I take the time to study my surroundings. As I look around me I feel quite at home already. Falcondell High is a good school with a good record. Gabe has always been happy here and I love living with them in their cosy home. I love Aunt Sarah dearly and she is everything that I would imagine a mother to be.

My eyes mist over as I think about my own mother. I miss her so much, even though I can’t actually remember much about her, it’s all just a distant memory to me. I was very young when she was taken from me and I was raised by a nice couple who were assigned to be my guardians. Even though they are kind and caring I have spent most of my life at school and haven’t really had a normal upbringing. I expect that is why I was looking forward to coming here so much. I will do whatever is necessary to fit in and stay here as I don’t want to have to move on again, it’s too lonely.

As soon as I settle in and make new friends something happens and I am moved again. This time I will make sure that I am not discovered.

The door suddenly opens and Principal Adams returns with two girls about my age. They are dressed in the usual trademark jeans and sweaters and have huge rucksacks slung across their backs. One of the girls has the biggest pair of glasses on and her brown hair is pulled back into a ponytail. The other one has blonde hair that is held back by an Alice band and she looks quite pale with the most terrible acne on her forehead. However as I look at them my heart sinks as I see the horror on their faces. They are looking at me as if frozen to the spot and once again I wonder just how good this locket is.

Principal Adams clears her throat and then looks kindly at me. “Grace allow me to introduce Cally Miller and Piper Young. They will show you how it all works here and will help you and look after you. If you have any questions at all they should be able to answer them. Now as the time is getting on you had better get off to lessons.”

I smile at the two girls and then turn to hug Aunt Sarah. She clings on to me as if for dear life and I see tears come into her eyes. She whispers, “Be careful honey. Find Gabe as soon as you can. He will look out for you.” Shaking her head as if to clear it she says, “Anyway, I’ll pick you up later as Gabe has practice. Have a good day.” Hugging her once again I turn towards the two girls and smile weakly. I don’t want to alienate them so resolve to keep my eyes lowered and say little.

Following them outside they turn to me and just stare. Feeling uncomfortable I wonder if the jeans and white top that I wore is ok. I haven’t put on any make up and my blonde hair is braided into a plait that hangs down my back. The two girls look incredulously at each other and then Cally narrows her eyes as if assessing me.

“You need a serious make under girl. I think the first stop should be lost property. We can’t let you out there loose on the school like this, you won’t survive the day.”

Piper looks at me her eyes shining. Suddenly she laughs. “This is going to be an interesting year that’s for sure.” Then to my utter surprise they both link arms with me, one on either side and march me off to what I assume is the lost property office.

Chapter 2

 

Luckily it isn’t far and we soon reach a door with a sign outside saying – Lost Property Office. The two girls drag me inside and then moving away once again stare at me in fascination.

Cally is the first to speak. “You are probably the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen and so all of the other girls will instantly hate you.” Looking at her in alarm I go to speak but Piper interrupts her. “Stop it Cally, you’re scaring her.” Turning to me she looks apologetic. “Look don’t worry it’s not that bad. Just dress down like us and keep away from the cool kids and their hangouts. If we do a good enough job on you they won’t give you a second look. They are all so self obsessed anyway we all may as well be invisible.”

She then turns and starts rummaging through the various boxes on the shelves behind us. Cally joins in and they pluck a variety of outfits from the confines of the boxes. Mumbling to themselves they soon have what they think is a passable outfit. Cally comes over with a huge checked shirt and tries to put it over my head. The fact that I am close to 5ft 9” in flats doesn’t make it possible so I put her out of her misery and haul it over my head. Piper thrusts a beanie hat at me. “Here pull this down over your head.” Then she turns and grabs some glasses off the counter. “You will have to make do with these until we can get you some with clear lenses. If you tuck your hair into the hat and then with the glasses you may just pass as invisible.”

Both girls step back to view their handiwork. They grin at each other in triumph and high five each other. “Right then Grace; let’s get you to the first lesson. Do you know what it is?” Bemused I consult the schedule in my hand that I have just been given by Principal Adams. Squinting through the glasses I can just make out that it is English. “Um, it says English, room 310.” Letting out a breath Cally says, “Good, you’re in my group, I’ll take you. We’ll find your locker later, I think there’s one on our block but we’ll have to wait until first break otherwise we’ll be in trouble with Miss Peters.”

As I follow them out of the room I wonder what on earth I’m going to find here. They make it sound awful and I vow to try to shrink into the walls and not stand out. The last thing I need is trouble.

Cally takes me to room 310 and I follow her inside. I can feel several pairs of eyes regarding us but I keep my head down and follow her lead.

Going up to the teacher Cally hands her a slip of paper and Miss Peters looks at me and smiles warmly. Clapping her hands she addresses the class. “Listen up guys, we have a new student. This is Grace Gray, everyone say hi.” I hear a few mumbled greetings and just smile weakly and wish for a vacant chair that I can sink into. Cally pulls me down beside her and I am grateful that the lesson carries on.

Luckily nobody seems bothered by me and I soon settle into the lesson. English is one of my favourite subjects and I am pleased to learn that we will be studying Tess of The D’Urbervilles. This is one of my favourite books and I look forward to reading it again. Because I am keeping my head down I don’t look at my fellow classmates and hope that I can get through the day without any problems.

In no time at all it seems the bell rings and Cally pulls me quickly from the room. She whispers, “Let’s go and grab you a locker and then we can go outside for a break.”

Grabbing my schedule she studies it. “Ok, maths next. Looks like you’re in Piper’s class for that. Mr Matthews is the teacher. He’s ok but doesn’t like any talking and is quite strict. Anyway come on before the others spill out.”

I run after her as she appears to be on a mission. Reaching a set of lockers she stares thoughtfully up and down the rows. Finally it seems that she finds what she is looking for and looks triumphantly at me. “Here you go; I knew there would be a vacant one here. Jessica Parker moved schools last week so hers is free. Do you want to put anything in it?” Shaking my head she grabs the key and hands it to me. “Here take this, mine and Piper’s is in the next bank along. Come on let’s go and find her.”

Before we can leave though I hear her mumble something under her breath. “Too late, cool patrol heading this way. Don’t say anything just follow my lead and with any luck they won’t even notice us.”

Keeping my head down I walk beside Cally and we soon go to pass the girls. We almost succeed when one says, “Hey, Cally, whose your friend?” Cally’s shoulders sag and pasting a smile on her face she turns to face the girl. “Oh hi Skylar, this is Grace, she’s just started.”

Keeping my head down as low as I can I raise my eyes to look at the girl standing in front of me. She has long jet black hair and flashing green eyes. She is extremely beautiful and looks really hot in tight skinny jeans and a black strapless top. I can see that she is appraising me and obviously coming to the conclusion that I am no threat she just waves her hand dismissively saying, “Oh Hi.” Seemingly bored already she turns to her friend and nudges her and they both snigger and move away.

Cally lets out a deep breath and leans back on to a neighbouring locker. “Well that’s the first test passed. Hopefully the rest will be as easy.” As we go to find Piper I say, “Who was she?” Cally raises her eyes. “Skylar Banks. Self obsessed doughnut with a brain to match and queen of the cool gang.”

Giggling at her description I say, “I’ve met her type before.” Cally looks at me with a serious expression. “I doubt that very much. Nobody crosses Skylar. All the time you are invisible to her, no problem, but as soon as she thinks you’re a threat or cross her in any way, well I wouldn’t want to be that person, that’s all I’m saying.”

Mystified I say, “She can’t be that bad.” Cally stops suddenly and looks at me with a worried expression. “No I mean it Grace, she’s evil personified. Keep away from her and her cronies. They all form part of a group that dominates this school. It’s why the rest of us try to fade into the background. You cross their path and you always come off worse. Steer well clear of her and her friends and don’t even look at their guys and then you’ll be ok.”

Thinking about her words I follow her outside where we find Piper talking to a group of guys. They all look similar to them, dressed down and unobtrusive. Piper waves and smiles as we approach. “Grace come and meet the gang. This is Cameron, Owen and Pax. We are all self confessed nerds and officially the Invisibles.”

Smiling at them I see their eyes widen and colour flood to their cheeks. Damn this locket, I am definitely getting it checked out. Shaking themselves the boys look at me with curiosity. Before we can say anything though the bell rings and we head off to our next lesson.

The morning passes fairly quickly and soon it is lunch time. Piper drags me to a shady spot underneath a tree where there is a picnic table. “Come on we have our lunch here away from trouble.” I wonder what she means but don’t have long to think about it before the rest of the Invisibles join us. They seem a great bunch and I am enjoying being part of their gang. With any luck my days will all be like this, free from problems and drama.

Half way through lunch a shadow crosses the table and I see the others look up in surprise. Following their gaze and much to their surprise I jump up and hug the person standing there. “Gabe, I wondered when I’d run into you.” Gabe is my cousin and the Captain of the school football team. He must be 6ft 5” and is a huge mass of blond hair and muscles. He is also extremely good looking and appears to have a different girlfriend every week.

Cally looks at us in amazement. “Well well. Do you two know each other?” Laughing I hold on to his arm. “Gabe is my cousin.” Piper sniggers. “Well that explains a lot.” Gabe looks around and I notice that he looks extremely cross. Pulling me to one side he says angrily, “Didn’t you think to come and find me straight away? It’s taken me ages to track you down. How on earth am I supposed to look after you if you’re hanging out with these kids?”

Pulling away I feel cross. “These kids have been really kind to me.” Then he stares at me and snaps, “What on earth are you wearing?” Giggling I say, “I’ve had a make under courtesy of Piper and Cally. What do you think?”

Looking thoughtful Gabe says slowly, “Actually I think they may just be the right people for you to hang with. They’ve done a good job. Nobody has mentioned you so you have obviously managed to stay well hidden. This might just work.” I can see the others looking at us in amazement and whisper to Gabe. “Look don’t worry. I’ll find you if I need you. Just leave me with them. I’ll keep well hidden and nobody will give me a second look. I’m more likely to draw attention to myself if I hang out with you and your friends anyway.”

Nodding in agreement Gabe says gruffly. “Just stay low and keep the locket close to you. Don’t go anywhere near Ash and his gang and you’ll be ok.” Before I can ask who Ash is he strides purposefully away. Watching him go I wonder what on earth can be so bad about this person Ash if Gabe is worried about him.

 

Chapter 3

 

As the day wears on I settle down into life at the school. Luckily one of my new found friends is in every class with me and they have well and truly taken me under their wing. I feel relieved to have met such a great bunch of people and feel optimistic about my new situation.

Mostly I am ignored by everyone else and I soon realise the hierarchy of the school. There are the cool kids who apparently are presided over by the mysterious Ash and Skylar. Their friends are mostly avoided by everyone else as they appear to intimidate the others. Then there is the sporty set which Gabe sits at the head of courtesy of being the Captain of the football team. They are the Jocks and their group also consists of the Cheerleaders and any other sporting groups. The group that I appear to have joined is the Brainiacs. These kids just try to blend into the background and not draw attention to themselves.

This clique suits me fine as I am not searching for any more drama in my life. Pushing the thoughts away of my turbulent year at my last school I vow to keep my head down and not to draw attention to myself.

When the final bell rings I make my way to my locker with Piper and Cally. As we put our books away they shout over to me. “Hey Grace do you fancy getting a coffee at Violet’s?” Looking interested I say, “What or who is Violet?” They laugh and come over. “It’s our local diner. Most of us head there after class to catch up and arrange our study sessions. Are you in?” Nodding happily I suddenly remember that Aunt Sarah is picking me up. Sighing I say, “I would love to but my Aunt is picking me up. Maybe tomorrow though.” Cally smiles. “No problem. We go there every day so it won’t matter.” I walk beside them to the main entrance and wish that I could go with them. It would be much more fun than going home with my Aunt.

As we go to leave somebody pushes past us sending Cally flying. Her bag falls to the ground and she lands with a thud on to the concrete step outside. Looking up in surprise I see a large body clad in a leather jacket turn around and laugh at us. His lip curls up in a sneer and his eyes flash as he laughs. Feeling extremely angry I shout, “Hey watch who you’re shoving.”

I hear Piper draw in her breath and see Cally pale in fright. Turning around the leather clad brute moves towards me menacingly. “What did you say?” Piper pulls on my arm and says fearfully, “She didn’t say anything Jace, its ok no harm done.” From the look on his face I know that I’m in trouble. He moves until his face is within an inch of mine and hisses, “Watch who you’re talking to nerd. I don’t like kids like you thinking they’re something they’re not. Talk to me again and you’ll suffer much worse than a push to the ground.”

Before I can respond I see his eyes narrow as he looks at me. He stares as if trying to place something. Then almost immediately I hear a deep voice behind me say, “Come on Jace, Principal Adams is coming. She’s not worth it and the others are waiting.”

Throwing me another evil look he storms off and I turn to see who intervened. I watch as Cally’s face lights up and then as I turn I see an extremely handsome guy behind me. He has the most velvety brown eyes that I have ever seen and his dark hair curls up at the ends as it hit’s the collar of his leather jacket. He looks at me with a worried look and then turns to Cally who has struggled to her feet. “Keep her away from him for all your sakes and I’m not just talking about Jace, understand?” She nods and he walks off after his friend.

As I watch them go I can see that they join a similar group of guys all wearing leather jackets congregating around a bunch of motorbikes. I can also see Skylar and her friends waiting for them and one by one they jump on to the backs of various bikes and soon the hum of exhausts fills the air as they move away.

Leaning back against the doorframe Cally sighs. “That was lucky.” Piper nods and I ask, “Who was that?” I detect a slight flush in Cally’s face as she says, “Jacob Cole. He’s my next door neighbour and we grew up together. The trouble is he fell in with that gang and hardly says two words to me now. He goes out with Teagan Hicks, Skylar’s best friend so I daren’t be seen even talking to him.”

As I help her grab her bag from the floor I can tell that she likes this Jacob guy. We head outside and I can see my Aunt’s station wagon waiting for me. Saying farewell to my new found friends I rush over.

Once I get in Aunt Sarah looks at me worry etched all over her face. “What just happened?” Shrugging nonchalantly I say, “Oh nothing, it’s fine.” Starting the engine I can tell that she is not convinced. Shaking herself she plasters a smile on her face. “So how was it, good day?” Settling back into the seat I smile at her. “Yes, good actually. Cally and Piper gave me a make under as they put it and then introduced me to their friends. Gabe found me and agreed that it was best that I stayed with them, so all is good. They did invite me to Violet’s for a coffee but maybe I can go with them tomorrow instead.” Looking a little happier my Aunt says, “Good, they seem ok and Violet’s is a decent place to hang out. There’s never any trouble because the owner is good friends with Mr Knight so nobody would dare try and start any trouble there.”

I look at her with interest. “Who is Mr Knight then?” Aunt Sarah looks grim. “He owns most of the town. He is very unscrupulous and doesn’t care who he upsets to get what he wants. People are afraid of him and anybody that crosses him soon knows about it.”

Feeling confused I say, “How does Violet fit into it?” My Aunt grins. “Violet is a sexy woman who Mr Knight adores. Her husband died and she opened the diner with the Insurance money. She doesn’t tolerate anything bad in her diner and because he worships her he would go after anyone who tried. Needless to say, the rougher element avoids her place at all costs for fear of upsetting him.”

Laughing I like the sound of Violet already. As we carry on my Aunt looks at me sheepishly. “I hope that you don’t mind but I’ve sort of found you a voluntary job on Saturday mornings.” Surprised I ask, “Where?”

“The library. Mr Watson is in dire need of some help and can’t afford to pay anyone. The library is in a terrible state and nothing is where it should be. I figured that you wouldn’t mind helping him out re-arranging the shelves into some sort of order.” I smile at her. “Of course not. I’d be glad to help him poor man.” Smiling softly my Aunt says, “I knew you wouldn’t mind. Also if nothing else it will keep you occupied in some of your spare time, away from harm.”

As we head off home I feel quite excited at the thought of a job, even an unpaid one. This day hasn’t turned out too bad after all.

Chapter 4

 

I help my Aunt with the dinner and soon Gabe returns from football practice. Aunt Sarah throws him a can saying, “How was it?” Sinking heavily into his chair Gabe shrugs. “Ok I guess, although we need all the practice we can get before the big game.”

I look at him with interest. “What game is that?” Gabe looks worried. “With Freyview High. It’s still a few weeks away but the rivalry runs deep. We have to win for honour’s sake.” My Aunt laughs. “You and your honour.”

We all sit down to eat and I relish being part of a family for once. This is all I have ever wanted really. I don’t have any brothers and sisters and have been raised an only child. I don’t have any family just two guardians who took the place of my parents and I love them as such. Any friendships that I have made are short lived and all I have ever wanted is to be part of something loving and nurturing. This is the closest to it that I have ever got and I feel extremely protective of it.

After I have helped my Aunt with the clearing away I head to my room to study. Finally I am alone and stretching out on my bed I savour the feeling of peace. Taking off my school clothes I put on more comfortable joggers and a sweatshirt. Finally I can let my hair down and enjoy brushing it, feeling its silky smoothness as I go. This is more like it. I can be myself again in the confines of my own room.

Fingering the locket I pull it from around my neck and place it on the bedside table. I instantly feel the rush that accompanies the move. It is as though I have been set free. My true self is released and I feel the power surge through me. Peace descends upon me and the feeling of power that it releases in me lights up my very soul. I bathe in its cleansing waves as it rejuvenates me.

As I lie here enjoying feeling myself again there is a sudden knock at the door. Before I can say anything though it opens and Gabe comes in. “Grace I forgot…” As though frozen he stares at me in wonder. His eyes look at me in disbelief and then they fill with tears.

Sinking down into a nearby chair he puts his head in his hands. In a faltering voice he says, “Please Grace, put the locket back on, somebody might see you.” Guiltily I reach for it. I always forget the effect that I have on people and feel cross that I didn’t lock the door.

As soon as the locket is in place I feel as though I am being once again drawn back into my own body. It makes me feel oppressed and dare I say it – normal.

Looking up Gabe says softly. “It’s like the sun rising with the moon after having captured the stars. It’s just too much to look at Grace. Promise me you will wear the locket at all times. Nobody must see you like that, they wouldn’t understand.” I nod sadly. “I’m sorry Gabe, you’re right I forget that’s all.” Coming over Gabe sits on the bed. “Look Grace, I know it’s hard for you but you will find a way. It must be difficult being you and we forget that sometimes. You know that I am here for you though don’t you?”

Hugging him I can feel the tears pricking my eyes. “I know Gabe, I love you and Aunt Sarah and am so grateful to you both. I promise to try and keep hidden.” Gabe nods and then pulls away awkwardly. Clearing his throat he says, “Anyway, I meant to say that I forgot to warn you about Ash.” Looking interested I say, “Go on then.”

Gabe looks at me with a solemn expression. “He is evil Grace. He doesn’t care who he hurts and what he destroys. He does it all to amuse himself. Anything bad that happens in this town always leads back to him.” I look at him in surprise. “But Aunt Sarah told me that Mr Knight ruled this town. Can’t he stop him?”

Gabe laughs hollowly. “Not really. Mr Knight is Ash’s uncle. He lives with him in that big house that you can see from the ridge. They probably cook everything up between them. I just wanted to say stay away from him. He loves nothing more than toying with people’s feelings. He’ll pick on a pretty girl and give them attention. As soon as they fall for him he tosses them aside and leaves them to Skylar to sort out.”

Feeling worried I look at him nervously. “What do you mean?” Gabe sighs. “Ash uses Skylar to keep most of the other girls away. She believes that she’s his girlfriend and in most senses of the word she is. However he doesn’t care about her anymore than the next girl. If she feels that he is interested in another girl she makes their life hell. Her and her cronies have beaten up, bullied and publicly humiliated any girl that gets his or his friends attention. He just laughs and carries on causing mayhem and she gets to call herself his girlfriend for another day. It’s all a game to him as Jessica Parker found out last year.”

I can see Gabe’s face fall as he says her name and I realise that there was more to Jessica Parker than he is telling me. He shakes himself saying, “Anyway, that’s all I came to tell you. Just keep away from them all and you’ll be fine, ok?”

Nodding I smile at him as he leaves the room. Nestling back against the pillows I think about what he has just told me. I am not going anywhere near any of them, that much I’m sure about.

Chapter 5

 

“Hi Grace, over here.” Pushing my way through the bodies clamouring for their lockers I make my way to my new friends. Cally looks at me and I can tell that she is itching to tell me something.

“What’s up Cally?” I can see the excitement flashing in her eyes. “My mom says that I can go to the party on Saturday night.” I can also see Piper’s excited expression and say, “What party?”

Piper turns to me her eyes shining. “It’s the end of summer beach party that the school has every year to say goodbye to the old year and hello to the new. Everyone at the school is invited but some parents don’t like their kids going in case there’s trouble.”

Their excitement is contagious and I hope that Aunt Sarah will let me go. Cally grins at me. “You must ask if you can come too Grace. It will be so much fun and everything.”

Laughing I say, “Everything?” Blushing Cally lowers her voice. “It’s not unusual to pair off with someone at one of these. I am so long overdue for a boyfriend. Not that I have anyone in mind though.” She blushes and Piper shoots me a knowing look.

Hearing a commotion we look around and see Skylar banging her locker door shut. Her friend Teagan looks wary and we hear Skylar say, “Not even a phone call. I mean what’s he playing at? I must have call and texted him millions of times over the summer and yet nothing. Well I’m going to have a lot to say to him when he bothers to show his face.”

Teagan looks at her warily. “If it’s any consolation Jacob hasn’t heard from him either. I think he went to stay with his father for the break. Jacob did hear from Jace that he will be back by the end of the week though.”

Slamming her locker Skylar stalks off, closely followed by Teagan. Looking at the others their eyes are wide in amazement. Cally lets out a deep breath. “Wow, the Queen of cool is anything but. Mind you it must be a nightmare having him as your boyfriend.”

Piper nods and I say, “What were they talking about?” Pulling me in closer Cally says in a whisper. “Ash took off for the summer and hasn’t been seen since. Skylar is obviously pissed that he hasn’t called her. Despite her words though I bet as soon as she lays eyes on him she’ll be all over him like a rash.” Piper laughs. “Who wouldn’t? The ultimate bad boy. Who can possibly resist him?” The bell rings and we head off to our first lesson.

Once again I have a good anonymous day and enjoy discovering more about my friends. I discover that Cameron has a wicked sense of humour and has me in fits at break, mimicking the teachers that took our morning lessons. He appears to have relaxed around me now and I have enjoyed his company.

It amuses me to see Gabe at lunchtime being followed by a group of girls who gaze adoringly at him. Nudging Cally I nod towards them. “Who are they?” Her mouth twitching Cally raises her eyes up. “Wannabees. They want Gabe and wanna be his girlfriend. It’s some badge of honour to be the girlfriend of the Captain of the football team, especially one as hot as Gabe.” Laughing to myself I vow to tease him about it later.

The day flashes past and soon I am excited to be heading into town to Violet’s with my friends.

As we push our way in through the violet coloured doors I am blown away by the place. It is spotless and done out in a retro style. The waitresses have on really cool violet tunics with white frilly aprons wrapped around their waists. The place is filled with loud music and it is quite difficult to find a seat. Luckily we do and wait for our server.

Looking around I am mesmerised. The vibe is relaxed and fun and it would appear that business is booming and we have to wait some time before we are served. Our waitress is a pleasant woman whose eyes twinkle as she takes our order. Just before she goes I am interested to see a striking woman come out from the kitchen. She is obviously the manager as she has on a different uniform to the rest and watching her command attention I realise that this must be Violet. It is obvious that she runs a happy ship and there is a lot of laughing and joking amongst the staff.

I watch as she places a notice on the door. Craning my neck I see that she is advertising for staff. Nudging the others I point to it saying, “Should we apply?” Their eyes wide Cally and Piper say, “You should Grace. We can’t because we already have jobs and our mom’s won’t let us have another in case it interferes with our studies, but you go for it.”

Jumping up I decide to do just that. I would like a job as I want to be able to contribute something to my keep, or even just treat my Aunt once in a while. Nervously I pull my hat off and wipe my sweating palms on my jeans. I approach Violet and wait for her to finish talking to another waitress. Soon she spins around and I cough nervously and indicate the ad. “Um I would like to apply for a job if that’s alright?” I watch as she appraises me and then notice her expression change as she takes in my appearance. A puzzled look comes across her face. I recognise the look. The locket acts as a filter. It confuses people and directs their brain away from my appearance. Usually they just think that they have seen me somewhere before.

Gesturing to a nearby chair she sits down next to me. “So tell me about yourself,” she says looking at me with interest. “Well my name is Grace Gray and I have just started at Falcondell High. I am staying with my Aunt Sarah Rivers and my cousin Gabe and I would like a job to help contribute to my keep. I am a hard worker and can be flexible.”

Violet looks at me and smiles. “Well, I could certainly use the help and I have a feeling that this may the safest place for you young lady. When can you start?” Smiling happily I say incredulously, “You mean I’ve got the job?” Frowning Violet looks at me and I am suddenly aware that I have let my guard slip a little. Looking perturbed she says, “I have a feeling that you are going to need this job more than you realise Grace. However to start with I think I’ll put you to work in the kitchen, probably for the best.”

Seeing my quizzical expression she says lowering her voice. “It’s not often that somebody as beautiful as you comes to town. I have a feeling that you may attract some unwanted attention and for all our sakes I think it might be best to keep you away from prying eyes for your own safety. How about putting in a shift after school tomorrow? If your Aunt has any questions she can come and see me, ok?”

Gratefully I say, “Thank you Miss…” “Call me Violet dear. Now go on back to your friends. You may as well enjoy yourself whilst you can.”

Cally and Piper whoop with delight when I tell them and Cally beams at me. “Good old Violet, she’ll look after you. You don’t have to worry about any of the cool kids coming here. They don’t set foot inside the place. They prefer Monty’s on the other side of town.”

Relaxing back into my seat I feel happy that I have sorted out two jobs now. Things are definitely working out well here for me.

Chapter 6

 

Aunt Sarah and Gabe are not as thrilled as I am about my new job, however when I tell them that I will be working in the kitchen they relax a bit.

I also broach the subject of the beach party at dinner and my Aunt looks over at Gabe with a worried look. Gabe thinks for a minute and then says, “You should be ok if you stick with us. Bring your friends over and just try to go unnoticed. It is unusual for Ash and his gang to come to it anyway so you’ll probably be ok.” Grinning I begin to feel excited. My first proper party. I have never been allowed to go to one before and I feel ecstatic.

By the time the weekend comes I have already completed a shift at Violet’s which I enjoyed much more than I ever thought I would. It was busy but the time just rushed by. I was exhausted at the end of it and Violet appeared pleased with my work.

I was working with some older ladies who kept me in fits with their constant chatter. I am going to do an afternoon shift after the library so the day will be extremely hectic.

Gabe drops me off at the library saying, “I’ll pick you up at 1pm and drop you to the diner if you want.” I nod at him gratefully. “Thanks Gabe. Where are you off to now?” “Training. I might have lunch at the diner as I’m always so hungry afterwards so I’ll probably see you later, good luck.” Waving to him I walk up the stone steps towards the door of the library.

Pushing open the door I take in the dim, dusty interior. It is quite dark in here and smells musty. The room is crammed from floor to ceiling with rows upon rows of books and there are several tables dotted around housing piles of books that have apparently been abandoned there.

Walking in I see a man sitting behind a desk and as I approach him I notice with a pang that he appears dishevelled and unkempt. As he raises his eyes to look at me he looks tired and weary, worry lines evident on his face. Tilting his glasses forward he says, “Can I help you Miss?”

“Um my name is Grace Gray Mr Watson. My Aunt Sarah Rivers may have told you to expect me.” Suddenly jumping up he smiles saying, “Of course, welcome dear. I am pleased to meet you. It is kind of you to give up your Saturday morning to help out an old man like this.”

I smile brightly at him. “It’s my pleasure Sir. What would you like me to do?” Looking strangely at me he clears his throat and then points to an area in the corner of the room. “Would you mind making a start on the literary classics section? I need them in alphabetical order by Author. Follow me and I’ll show you where to start.”

As I follow him I take in my surroundings. It all looks a complete mess and with the dingy lighting and dusty shelves it is a depressing place to be. Libraries usually excite me as I love books and enjoy reading so much. This one though will need a lot of work before it is a relaxing place to hang out.

I get on with my task and soon start to enjoy myself. I must have been sorting the shelves out for an hour before I come across a copy of Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Rocking back on to my heels I open the pages and start to read. I can’t help myself and know that I should be working but the story sucks me in. All at once though the book is plucked from my hands and somebody crouches beside me saying, “Can’t you hear me, where are the Thomas Hardy books?”

Surprised I look to see who has disturbed me and find myself staring into the most beautiful face that I have ever seen in my life. Two of the blackest eyes are staring at me and swallowing hard I jump up in confusion. Pulling back I can see that they belong to a guy who must be about my age.

As he stands up I notice that he is taller than me and has an extremely muscular body, very evident through the T Shirt that he wearing. He has jet black hair that is slightly unruly and he reeks of testosterone and a heady aftershave.

He looks extremely irritated and is staring at me angrily. Shaking myself I look down and mumble, “I’m sorry, I’ll find them for you.” As I go to move he moves in front of me blocking my exit and looks at me intently. “Wait a minute. Do I know you from somewhere?”

I am suddenly glad of the dingy light and say, “No, I don’t think so. I’ve just arrived here.” Looking into my eyes I can see that he is trying to place me. His expression is puzzled and breaking away I say, “Follow me.”

Luckily he does just that and I soon hand him several volumes of Thomas Hardy’s work. Coughing nervously I say, “Are you sure you want them all? I mean you can only take three books out at a time.” Looking lazily at me he says, “Who said I wanted to take them out. I just want to look at them here.” Nervously I gesture to an empty table and then place some more books on to it. Looking back he picks up the book that I was reading and studies the cover. Smirking he looks at me with a look that almost takes the breath from my body and says, “Tess of The D’Urbervilles. How interesting.” I look down and say quietly, “Why is that interesting?” Leaning forward he says in a whisper, “It’s my favourite book that’s why.”

Shocked I look up and once again he looks at me with a puzzled expression which is soon replaced by a wicked grin that makes my heart beat faster than it ever has before. “So my little Tess,” he says raising an eyebrow. “The question is do you prefer an Alec or an Angel?”

Flustered I look down. “Neither.” Laughing he drops the book on to the floor and moves to sit down at the table. Flicking his gaze back to me he says, “It might be interesting to find out.” Backing away I hurriedly pick up the book and return to my work.

There is silence in the library as he reads and I work. Occasionally I glance up at him from across the room and can’t help but be drawn to him. He has stretched his legs out and raised them up on to the table. He is engrossed in the books and my heart flutters every time I catch sight of him. I have never before witnessed such a beautiful face on a man. The sight of him gives me palpitations and I can’t concentrate on the job in hand whilst he is here. Mr Watson ignores him completely, even though he is lounging on the table with his feet up. If anything he appears to make him nervous and he soon disappears outside for a break.

I watch in fascination as he takes each book one by one and flicks through them. There is intense concentration on his face and he doesn’t so much as read the books, but absorbs them. Suddenly in shock I realise that is exactly what he is doing. It can’t be. I have only ever heard of someone doing this, I have never actually seen it happen though and I wonder if I am right.

Suddenly I notice the time and jump up. My shift is due to start in Violet’s soon and I mustn’t be late. Quickly I grab my things and then after saying goodbye to Mr Watson who luckily comes back at the same time I head for the door. However I have to pass his table and as I do a foot shoots out and he blocks my exit. Looking at me with a strange look on his face he says softly, “Where are you going?”

The way he says it makes me think that I am doing something wrong. Nervously I suck in my lower lip and watch as his eyes flash. Clearing my throat I say, “Um, I’m meeting someone.” Just as I say it the library door bursts open and I am relieved to see Gabe standing there.

Seeing what is happening he races over with a grim look on his face and grabbing my arm pulls me behind him. Staring angrily at the man sitting down he shouts, “Leave her alone,” in an extremely menacing voice. I am surprised as Gabe is not normally like this.

The man just laughs wickedly. “It would appear that little Tess likes Angel. Now isn’t that interesting.” Feeling myself blush Gabe looks between us in confusion. Pulling him along with me I say, “Come on Gabe, I don’t want to be late.”

Throwing the man an angry stare he follows me outside. Once I am seated in his car he says angrily, “What was that all about, what did he say?” I look at him warily. “He was just reading, or at least I think he was.” Gabe looks confused and I ask, “Gabe who is he?” I am surprised when Gabe hits the steering wheel in anger. “Your worst nightmare Grace, that’s who. I told you to stay away from him.”

I had sort of guessed but for confirmation say, “Ash?” Letting out a deep breath Gabe nods. “Yes. As soon as I drove up I noticed his motor bike outside. That’s why I came in. He didn’t touch you did he?” Shaking my head I say, “Of course not. I wouldn’t let him.” “Good, that’s one thing I suppose. Look Grace, you’d better not tell Mom. She will only worry and you may get shipped out. With any luck it was a one off encounter and he may have just been there for the books anyway.”

I look at him thoughtfully. “I think he was. But that’s not all Gabe, he didn’t read the books; I think he’s an absorber.” Gabe’s hands tighten on the steering wheel and I notice that his knuckles have turned white. “I know,” he says huskily. “He is the cleverest guy in school but appears to do no work. His memory is almost photographic and it almost seems as if just by touching someone he instantly knows everything about them. You mustn’t go near him Grace. It’s not safe in more ways than one.”

Now I know why Gabe is so worried. He mustn’t find out who I am and I will make sure that I keep well away from him in the future.

 

Chapter 7

 

As I set to work at the diner I can’t get the image of him out of my mind. His face fills my head and all sorts of images flash across it. I must get him out of my head. This is dangerous unknown territory and I have been well and truly mesmerised by him. I am glad that I am secreted away in the kitchen with my thoughts and by the time my shift ends I am exhausted. Gabe comes and picks me up and as soon as I get home I am glad to reach the sanctuary of my bedroom.

I spend the evening with my Aunt as Gabe has gone out, just glad to be here safe and sound away from dark compelling eyes and wicked grins.

The weekend passes and soon it is time for school again. Gabe gives me a lift in and as I walk towards the entrance I hear the distinct sound of a motor bike. My heart leaping I turn to look and am glad to see that it is Jacob.

Pulling my hat down firmly on to my head and hiding behind my pretend glasses I set off inside. Luckily I don’t see him and listen to Cally and Piper talk excitedly about their weekend. I am finding it difficult to concentrate as I keep on expecting him to walk around the corner at any moment.

At break time we are getting stuff from our lockers when Cally nudges Piper and I see Skylar and Teagan by the lockers. All of a sudden the conversation stops and everyone turns to look as the hall is filled with guys in leather jackets. There is a hushed silence as everyone looks at them. All eyes though are on one person only. There in the middle of the group looking every bit as dangerous as I remember is Ash.

He walks down the hallway looking bored and just flicks irritated looks around him. I watch in fascination as Skylar approaches him. Her walk is suggestive and standing in front of him she flicks back her hair and juts out her hip. Speaking in a sultry tone she says, “I wondered when you would be back.”

I watch as he lifts his hand and runs it around her waist. His eyes glitter dangerously and he pulls her against him. Gripping her backside he runs his other hand down her front. Then raising his hand he winds her hair around his fist and kisses her a crushing, bruising kiss that almost sets the place alight with its intensity.

His gang stand there grinning lasciviously and I notice that Cally’s eyes are as wide as saucers. I will myself to look away but can’t seem to manage it. After what seems like forever he pushes Skylar away. She stumbles back and I can see that her face is flushed and her lips bruised and trembling. Feeling a flush creep through my body I turn away. By the time I look back they have gone.

Fanning herself Piper says, “Oh my God, that was sooo hot. Only in my dreams can I imagine that.” I’m inclined to agree with her. I have never even been kissed although many have tried. I can only imagine what it is like. I wonder what it would be like to be kissed by him. I have never wondered before but then again I have never come across anyone like him before either.

 

The morning passes and I join my friends for lunch underneath the tree as usual. It is an extremely hot day and I fan myself with a text book and stretch out on the grass. Cally plops down beside me and rolling over we both lay there our elbows to the floor propping up our chins and watch events around us.

I see Gabe with his ever present band of followers. He also has a commanding presence and I know that the girl who eventually wins his heart will be very lucky indeed.

In the distance we can see the cool gang. Due to the heat of the day they are minus their trademark leather jackets which only makes them seem sexier, as now their tight fitting t shirts just accentuate their rippling muscles.

I hear Cally sigh beside me as she watches them and I know the reason for it. I can see her watching Jacob as he lounges against a tree. He takes a swig from his can and then pushes his hair back from his eyes.

In a whisper I say, “You like him don’t you?” Turning to me in alarm Cally says breathlessly, “Ssh Grace, they’ll hear you.” Laughing I say, “They haven’t got super hearing you know.” Grinning Cally raises her eyes. “They’ve got super human everything else though.”

We laugh and watch with interest as Skylar and her friends join the group. Teagan goes over to Jacob and I feel Cally tense up beside me. She sits in front of him on the grass and then sets herself between his legs and kisses him, bringing his head down to meet hers. Cally sighs and I know that this is agonising for her to watch. I think about asking her to come to the rest room with me but then I watch as Skylar approaches Ash and takes hold of his arm. With interest I watch as he turns to face her and even from here I can see an expression of irritation on his face. However she either doesn’t notice or ignores it and runs her fingers down his arm and moves closer. He just pushes her away as he would an annoying insect and I can see an expression of hurt cross her face.

Cally whispers incredulously. “Goodness, that’s interesting. Normally they’re all over each other. Obviously absence hasn’t made the heart grow fonder in this case.”

Nodding in agreement I jump up. “Look I need to use the rest room before the bell. Do you want to come?” Cally nods and we grab hold of our bags and head off inside. It is some relief to reach the air conditioned interior and I don’t hurry myself. I need to cool off in more ways than one.

Just before I finish I hear voices outside and recognise that it is Skylar and her friends. Deciding to stay put until they have gone I hope that Cally does the same.

I hear Skylar say angrily. “Whatever he’s playing at I’m going to find out what it is. If he has found someone else I am going to break her.” One of her other friends says, “Quade hasn’t said anything to me. Apparently he has been with his father all summer. You know what that does to him Skylar, he always returns like this.”

I hear Skylar say, “Yes, you’re probably right. I’ll just have to sit tight and weather the storm because if I’ve got it right there is about to be a major one if he’s pissed at his dad.”

The bell rings and I hear them leave. Pushing open the door I see that Cally does the same. In a whisper I say, “What was that all about?” Cally grimaces. “Whenever Ash comes back from visiting his dad he’s always in a foul temper. He tends to take it out on everyone else and trouble normally follows.” As I wash my hands I say, “Don’t they get on then?” Cally shrugs, “I’m not sure, but I once overheard Jacob in the yard on his phone. He appeared to be calming Ash down and I heard him mention his father.”

Her eyes shining she says, “That’s what Jacob does for him. He is like a brother to Ash, a calming presence unlike Jace who likes nothing more than a bit of violence and trouble. They are like chalk and cheese but both serve a purpose in their friend’s role.”

As we walk to lessons I ask, “Who are the other members of his group?” Cally lifts her fingers and starts checking them off one by one. “Well there’s Lucian. He is the quiet one and Quade, he is the funny one. Then there is Killian, the clever one. So as you can see the perfect band of brothers.” Before I can probe any further we reach English and I scurry into my seat and set about getting my things out of my bag.

Miss Peters stands up to begin the lesson but is interrupted by the door banging open and we all look to see Jacob enter the room closely followed by Ash.

All eyes turn to look at them and I notice that Miss Peter’s looks resigned to their late entrance. “Hurry up guys we’re about to start.”

They move to their seats at the back slowly, seemingly in no hurry at all. As they pass me I look down. I mustn’t make eye contact with him. Jacob moves on past but as he reaches my table there is a slight hesitation as Ash stops, then leaning down he picks up a pencil that has fallen on to the floor. Banging it down on the table in front of me I can feel his eyes on me. Without looking directly at him I mumble my thanks and then look down again. He moves away and once again I feel the heat flood through my body. Cally is looking at me in shock and I will myself not to blush. Luckily Miss Peter’s starts the lesson but I can feel his eyes burning into my back. I don’t even need to turn around I can just feel it and I know that I’m in trouble.

Trying to pull my thoughts back to the job in hand Miss Peter’s starts reading from the book Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Feeling uncomfortable once again I can feel his scrutiny.

Trying to focus I enjoy hearing Miss Peter’s read the story and I am soon engrossed in it. The hour flies past and as soon as the bell rings I shake myself out of my trance and bundle my books into my bag. Before I can get them all though my copy of the book is knocked off the table and looking up in surprise I see a pair of black menacing eyes level with mine as Ash crouches beside me as he picks up the book.

Feeling uncomfortable I clasp my hands together in my lap feeling suddenly scared. Turning towards me he holds out the book saying in a whisper, “Always dropping your book little Tess, didn’t your mama teach you to respect the written word?”

His eyes glitter dangerously and trying not to touch him I take the book from him and mumble my thanks. Once again he looks at me with a puzzled look and lowering my eyes I can feel myself blushing.

Jacob comes up behind him. “Come on Ash. We’ve got Mr Clark next and you don’t want to give him an excuse to kick you out of the lesson again.” Standing up Ash throws me another look over his shoulder as they walk away.

Cally jumps up alarm on her face. “Oh no, we have a problem.” Following her I say, “What do you mean?” She looks at me agitatedly. “Look Ash never picks up anything for anybody. He would more likely kick it across the room and watch as you go to get it. Also the way that he looked at you showed that he was interested. If Skylar gets wind that he’s interested you’re in danger.”

“Interested! You’re joking aren’t you? I don’t even know him and I’m certainly not interested in him.” Cally looks at me and raises her eyes. “Methinks the lady doth protest too much. If you’re not interested then why did you sit for most of that lesson looking hotter than I’ve ever seen you before? Also as soon as they came into the room you changed.”

I look at her in alarm. “What do you mean changed?” Shrugging she says, “I don’t know. I mean despite all of our best efforts we still can’t make you look ordinary. But when he passed you you seemed to glow from within. There was an aura around you. It was like the sun was trying to get out.”

Her words fill me with fear. Leaning back against the wall I can feel the tears springing into my eyes. Cally rushes over. “What is it Grace, do you feel unwell?” Swallowing hard I try to look normal. “It’s ok just a headache. I’ll be fine.”

The trouble is I am anything but fine inside. I know that he affects me and I can’t risk anyone seeing the real me. This locket is meant to suppress things and works most of the time, but what if it’s not powerful enough? I could be in danger. The last thing I want is to have to move again. I must try to avoid Ash and his friends at all costs.

Chapter 8

 

Luckily I manage to avoid Ash and his friends for the rest of the week. I finally begin to feel normal and just enjoy being ordinary. My shifts at Violet’s are going well and I enjoy spending time at the diner.

One evening as I finish the last of the dishes I hear Violet talking on the phone. “It’s ok Jake, meet me here in fifteen. It won’t take me long to lock up and then you can spend the evening making it up to me.”

She giggles flirtatiously and I wonder who she is talking to. Hanging up the phone she catches me looking and grins. “Every girl loves a bad boy don’t they Grace? It’s one of life’s mysteries. However don’t ever let them know that they’ve got you otherwise they give up the chase, and that my dear sweet Grace is the greatest part of all. It’s all in the chase.”

Miranda one of the other ladies in the kitchen laughs loudly. “How many years has he been chasing you now?” They all laugh and I think about what she has said.

As we leave I see an impressive large black car waiting outside the diner. Slowly Violet walks towards it and then gets inside. The car races off and I wonder if the mysterious occupant was Mr Knight, Ash’s uncle. I feel strangely subdued and what with the events of the past week I feel in need of a boost.

Instead of cycling home I decide to go for a bike ride instead to clear my head. I set off down a track that I have never seen before and enjoy feeling the sense of freedom that the ride gives me. My journey takes me further into the mountains and with no sense of time at all I soon reach the top of a hill. I can see the whole town from here and notice the lights twinkling below me like stars in the sky.

It is a gorgeous evening and the moon is particularly bright. There is still a lot of heat left though and coupled with my bike ride I now feel extremely hot. As I walk next to my bike I come across a clearing in the trees. To my amazement I see a sparkling pool of water before me. My breath catches in my throat. It is beautiful here. The reflection of the moon dances on the lake and reflects around the clearing.

I drop my bike down on to the ground and suddenly feel the urge to take a dip in the cool clear water. This is just what I need, to cool down and to clear my mind and re charge. Listening keenly for any sounds all I can hear is the sound of nature. An owl hoots nearby and I hear nothing; everything is as still as can be. I quickly remove my clothes and put them on a nearby rock. With a slight hesitation I remove the locket from around my neck. I know that I am alone so five minutes won’t matter.

As soon as it is off I feel the tremendous feeling of release. I lay back into the cool clear water and my hair fans out behind me. The feeling is pure heaven. I savour the feeling as my body bathes in the moonlight. The water laps against my body, cooling me down and I feel so alive. The feeling of being myself again is invigorating. Every part of me glows and I re charge myself in the light of the moon.

Suddenly I hear a twig break near to me and open my eyes in alarm. There like a tiger stalking its prey he sits, his black eyes flashing in the darkness like two stars. In alarm I dip down underneath the water and try to swim to the other side. He mustn’t see me, not like this.

Frantically I look around for an escape but remember that I am wearing nothing but my underwear and so won’t get far. Clambering out of the pool I am amazed to see him in front of me. How on earth did he get here so quickly?

Resigned to my fate I lift my eyes to his and he steps back in shock. I know that he won’t recognise me as Grace and my only hope is to convince him that I am not from here.

As he steps closer I can see the wonder on his face. He can’t tear his eyes away and my only hope is to dazzle him. Lifting my eyes to his I put everything into the look. All of my new found energy is directed at him and I watch as he falls underneath my spell. However he is stronger than most and we are soon locked in a battle of wills.

His eyes darken dangerously and draw me in. He shifts closer and not breaking eye contact says in a low husky voice, “Who are you?”

Shaking my head I say softly, “I’m nobody.” To my surprise he reaches out to take my hand and I recoil in shock as if I’ve been burned. He holds on and I can feel his power as he tries to read me. His touch is sending such raging heat through my ice cool body and the mixture of the two colliding is very powerful indeed.

Slowly he pulls me towards him until our faces are centimetres apart. He lifts his fingers to my face and traces the outline of my features. The water from the pool is dripping from my body but I feel hot inside. He says in a whisper. “You are the most beautiful thing that I have ever laid eyes on. I cannot read you though. Who are you, what is your name?”

Shaking my head I whisper, “I can’t tell you.” I lower my eyes and in surprise feel him lifting my chin up towards him. “Why do you make me want to protect you?” He says, almost as if he is talking to himself. Then to my surprise he removes his T Shirt and I gasp at the sight of his well toned body, glistening with sweat from the heat. Tenderly he places his T Shirt over my head and I feel the soft fabric falling around me, caressing me with the heat of his body.

Taking my hand he pulls me down beside him on to a nearby rock and once again looks into my eyes. “Well mysterious lady, here we are.” I look at him savouring the sight of him. I know that I must make the most of this moment because it can never happen again. I study every inch of his face committing it to memory. This is a special moment that we will never have again.

Looking deeply into my eyes I sense his struggle within. He is desperate to know everything about me but his power doesn’t work on me. He will be confused and after tonight he will wonder if it was a dream.

He leans closer and taking my face in his hands he says, “I am drawn to you and I don’t know why. Please tell me your name?” Quickly I think of a name that I can tell him. I strangely don’t want to lie to him, so I choose one of my other names. Looking gently at him I say, “It’s Ana.” He whispers my name, “Ana. A beautiful name for a beautiful woman.” Smiling sweetly I say, “What is your name?” He smiles gently. “Ash. So there it is Ash and Ana. Two people who have found each other against all the odds and yet are still strangers.”

As I look at him I feel mesmerised. Gone is the self assured, swaggering bad boy. In his place is a sweet, protective guy, showing more to me than I would have ever believed possible. His face is relaxed and his eyes sparkle.

As he gazes into my eyes he says, “You make me feel different Ana. I want to kiss you so much but something is holding me back. I want to protect you from me which surprises me. Why would I do that I wonder?”

Shrugging I look down. Pulling me back to look at him he says, “Don’t look down Angel. I want to look at you and imprint your lovely face on my mind forever.” Laughing nervously I grin. “Well we can’t sit here just looking at each other all night. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?” Suddenly his face changes and he looks angry. “You don’t want to know about me, it would only drive you away. Somebody like you will never understand.”

Reaching out I grasp his hand and he gasps as he feels the effects. “Tell me Ash, I won’t judge you.” I can sense the inner turmoil in him and he is obviously battling against something inside of him. I can’t read him, it is too complex and my images are blurred. I recognise that he is in torment so interrupt his thoughts saying, “Don’t worry Ash, I won’t pry, but can I ask you something?”

In surprise he looks at me. “Anything Ana, I just want to please you for some reason.” I smile shyly at him. “Will you kiss me Ash?” My words obviously shock him and he looks at me with a stunned expression. “I would like nothing more Angel, but why?” Looking embarrassed I say quietly. “I have never been kissed before and I want my first one to be with you.”

I can see the battle within him. I know that if I kiss him all will be lost to me, but I want to help him. If he kisses me I may be able to take away some of his obvious pain.

His eyes flash dangerously and I can see that he is trying to control himself. I just sit next to him waiting silently. He looks into my eyes and I know that he is a lost soul.

Tenderly he pulls me towards him. Tracing the contours of my face he leans towards me and tilting my head up to meet him his lips brush against mine. My legs feel weak and I can hear his heart beating in his chest. His lips press against mine and I part them to let him in. It is the softest kiss that I would ever have imagined from him. It shows so much love and caring with gentleness mixed with passion. He almost hesitates but then I feel him pull me even closer and his tongue enters my mouth, probing it gently, entwining with mine as I taste him. I feel the explosions around us. It is like fire and ice have collided.

My brain goes into meltdown and frantically I try to regroup. I need to put everything into this kiss. I need to heal him and soothe his battered soul. We are locked together, both fighting our own battle within and the kiss seems to last the night. Finally we pull away, both of us shocked to the core.

Chapter 9

 

Pulling back we just stare at each other in amazement. Ash recovers first. “I never knew it could be like that Ana. You have cast me under your spell; I will never be the same again.” Stroking the side of his face I smile. “I have never been kissed before Ash, I wanted it to be you and it was more than I ever dared dream it would be.”

I watch as a flash of pain passes across his face and I can see the torture in his soul. Holding me tightly he draws me to him saying, “I’m not good for you Ana. You deserve so much better than me.” Trembling I know that what will come next will be painful for us both. Pushing the thought away I reach up and kiss him softly on the mouth.

“You should just let yourself go Ash. You have love inside your heart and you shouldn’t be afraid of it.” Taking his hand I say, “Come on, let’s take a swim in the moonlight.”

Taking off his T Shirt I plunge into the water. It doesn’t take him long and he has soon joined me. The sight of his near naked body glistening in the moonlight takes my breath away. He dives underneath the water and then I feel him pull me under with him. Fastening his mouth on to mine we kiss sharing the same air until we break the surface again. He pulls me tightly to him and kisses me gently and romantically. There is none of the harshness that he portrayed with Skylar. This man is gentle and loving and everything that a girl could ever wish for.

After a while we get out and lay side by side our hands touching as we dry off. We gaze at the moonlight and enjoy the sounds of nature secure in the knowledge that the other is close by.

Soon I realise that Ash has fallen asleep. With a sharp pain in my heart I know this is it. I must go and he must never see me again in my true form. Silently I gather up my things and take once last lingering look at the man I love and with the tears burning behind my eyes I tiptoe silently away.

Once I am sure that I am out of earshot I place the locket around my neck and dress quickly. I cycle home as fast as I can with such a feeling of profound loss. What is the saying? It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

Well whoever said that must have been thinking about me. It may have been a brief encounter but it would have to last me a lifetime. Ash would wake up and think that it had all been a dream. I would have to carry on seeing him knowing what it was like to feel his lips on mine and the excitement that it lit within me.

Luckily by the time I get home the house is quiet and everyone has gone to bed. It is not unusual for me to get in when they are asleep due to my shifts at Violet’s. Putting my bike away I reach my room and change into my nightgown. Moving across to the window I look up at the moon and picture Ash sleeping peacefully by the lake. Tears run down my face as I think of what he will feel when he wakes up and I am gone.

 

The morning comes and I wake up with a heavy heart. The thought of going to school and seeing him is unbearable so I feign illness and my Aunt sends me back to bed. I know that I am being cowardly but I need to protect myself. Just a few days without seeing him will be enough.

By the time Saturday comes I tell my Aunt that I will be well enough to work at the library and Violet’s. Gabe drops me off and says, “Look if Ash comes to the library today, call me at once.” I look at him in surprise. “Why?” He pulls a face. “Because he is in a terrible mood. Luckily for you you were off this week. Nobody has been spared and he has been particularly evil. He seems angry about something and is even less tolerant than usual which is saying something. I just don’t want you around him when he is in this mood ok?”

Nodding I think about what Gabe has said as I push open the door to the library. He must be angry that I left and he has no way of contacting me. My heart tightens but I know that it is for the best.

Mr Watson looks as ill as always, and I worry about him. Gently I say, “Would you like me to get you a sandwich or a coffee from across the street? You look like you may need it.” Smiling weakly he says, “You are very kind dear, unusual for someone of your age, especially in this town, but no, I am fine, just not sleeping well that’s all.”

I look at him kindly. “Well I can look after things here if you want a couple of hours sleep. I have to be at Violet’s for 1pm but you can have until then.” He looks at me gratefully. “If you don’t mind I will my dear, thank you.”

Watching him stumble out I wonder what his problem is. I wish that I could find a way of helping him. The best thing that I can think of is to sort out his library so I set about the task.

After an hour I decide to have a break and pick up my favourite book Tess. Once again my heart feels heavy and as I read the words the tears start to fall.

I must have been so engrossed that I didn’t hear him come in. Suddenly the book is whipped from my grasp and my breath catches in my throat as I see Ash standing beside me. He looks annoyed. “Where have you been?” Blinking away the tears I stutter. “I have been ill, why?” Shrugging he sits on the table and says, “I like to know what’s going on that’s all.” I watch as his eyes narrow as he reads the page I was reading. He reads out loud saying;

 

The only exercise that Tess took at this time was after dark; and it was then, when out in the woods, that she seemed less solitary. She knew how to hit to a hair’s-breadth that moment of evening when the light and the darkness are so evenly balanced that the constraint of day and the suspense of night neutralize each other, leaving absolute mental liberty. It is then that the plight of being alive becomes attenuated to its least possible dimensions.”

 

As I watch him read the words my heart tightens. He looks so beautiful and I long to reach up and kiss his heavenly mouth. Before he finishes I look quickly down to the ground. I mustn’t give anything away. I feel him look at me and in confusion I jump up and walk away as if to carry on my work. Before he can say anything the door to the library flies open and Gabe stands there with several members of his team. They look quite intimidating and I see Ash look up at them in surprise, which is quickly replaced by a look of boredom. Gabe says angrily, “Come on Grace. We’re here to drive you to work.”

Ash looks at me in surprise. “Work? I thought this was your job.” Throwing Gabe an annoyed look I say, “It is, well one of them anyway. Gabe I’ll just tell Mr Watson I’m leaving. I won’t be long.”

I am as quick as I can be and my heart nosedives when I return and see Ash standing angrily in front of Gabe and his friends. I hear him shouting, “Don’t you tell me what to do Gabe Rivers. I’m not afraid of you or your team. If I want to spend time with Grace then I will and it’s none of your business.”

In shock I watch as he pushes a table over and all of the books clatter to the floor. Pushing his way through the team we soon hear the angry roar of his motorbike as it pulls away.

Gabe and his friends pick up the table and help me pile the books back. “What did he want?” Gabe says angrily. “Nothing, he had just arrived when you did.” Gabe frowns looking worried. “I don’t like it. Stay away from him Grace, he’s trouble.” If only he knew I thought with a sigh. Staying away from him was now my number one priority.

Chapter 10

 

When we get to Violet’s I find the place heaving with customers. As soon as she sees me Violet says, “Grace, you’ll have to waitress today. Linda is sick and I’m one down.” Quickly putting my things away I go to my first table. I have covered a few times now and know the drill. I quite like it and enjoy interacting with the customers. The place seems busier than usual and I am so engrossed in my work that I am surprised when I hear Violet say darkly, “That’s all I need.” Looking up I can’t believe my eyes as I see Ash, Jacob and Jace, sitting themselves at an empty table.

Ash catches me looking and grins wickedly. Violet notices the look and says under her breath, “I’ll put Tina on that table. They won’t mess with her. Just ignore them and carry on.” That’s going to be difficult I think to myself.

Trying to block them out I set about my work. After a while I come out of the kitchen with some dishes and find Ash blocking my way. Raising his eyes he says, “I didn’t know you worked here little Tess. Quite the worker aren’t you?” Blushing I just nod and try to get past. He grins, “I may have to come here more often now.”

Seeing what is happening Violet shouts. “Move out of her way Ash, she’s got work to do and if you obstruct my staff I will have to ask you to leave.” Ash’s friend’s laugh and cat call and grinning he holds up his hands and moves aside letting me pass.

He saunters back to the table and I can feel them watching me as I work. They stay for the rest of my shift and I can tell that Violet is annoyed. “I hope they don’t start coming here, they’ll scare my customers away.” Looking at me thoughtfully she says, “He’s not bothering you is he?” I shake my head. “No.” Her eyes narrow. “Well tell me if he does. I’m not about to lose another good waitress because of him.” As she walks off I wonder if it was the mysterious Jessica Parker. I vow to ask Gabe the story when I see him next.

As I leave I am worried to see Ash and his friends outside the diner on their motorbikes. Ash calls out, “Fancy a ride little Tess?” Blushing I manage a small, “No Thank you.”

Just then Gabe pulls up in his car and thankfully I race over to it. Gabe looks at them angrily. “What did he want – again?” I shrug my shoulders. “Nothing, it’s fine.” As we drive off I catch him watching us go with a strange look on his face.

Looking at Gabe I remember what I wanted to ask him. “Gabe, tell me the story about Jessica Parker. Did she work at Violet’s?”

I notice that Gabe grips the steering wheel and his knuckles turn white. In a tight voice he says, “Jessica was my girlfriend. We were really happy and then Ash took a liking to her. He has this way about him that no girl appears to be able to resist and she soon fell under his spell. He used to go where he knew she would be. She worked at Violet’s the same as you and he started hanging out there with his friends. She was flattered and it wasn’t long before he seduced her. Once Skylar found out all hell broke loose. With her friends she cornered Jessica in the rest rooms. One of them held her down and Skylar cut off her hair. They then beat her up and knocked her teeth out. She was lucky not to have been seriously injured.” My heart freezes inside as I hear him talk. That poor girl and poor Gabe, he must have been devastated.

“What happened next?” Gabe says bitterly, “Ash thought it was funny. He had got what he wanted from her and was bored with it all. Skylar and her gang were suspended for a couple of weeks and then came back to school as though they were heroes.”

I feel sick at what I have just heard. “What happened to Jessica?” Gabe looks upset. “Her parents sold up and moved to a different town. Jessica was badly damaged psychologically and they had no choice but to start over. So you see Grace, you have to keep away from him. It’s all a game and when he has had his fun he will drop you and then Skylar will have hers. It’s what they do.”

I feel absolutely devastated. I can recognise the same pattern emerging with me and if I hadn’t been so afraid of my secret coming out I would have succumbed to his charms. It was all probably part of his act and I feel well and truly taken in. Fighting back the tears I resolve not to let him get to me as he did poor Jessica Parker. I will not play his game and he can do his worst for all I care.

 

With my new found resolve I manage to avoid him all week. Every time I see them coming I dodge them and by the end of the week I congratulate myself on a job well done.

As we leave school for the weekend Cally nudges me and I follow her gaze. “Oh no this looks like trouble.” Looking I see Ash and his gang hovering at the foot of the steps, which means that we have to pass them to leave. There is no sign of Skylar and her friends which doesn’t surprise me. Straightening up in determination I grab Cally’s arm and walk purposefully down the steps.

As I draw near to them I pointedly look in the other direction. I can feel Ash’s eyes burning into me but I make myself look away. I almost think we have got away with it but then he speaks saying, “Well, well, little Tess and her faithful friend. Long time no see.”

I feel Cally stiffen beside me and I pull her along ignoring him. Before I go to pass his arm shoots out and he grabs hold of my arm. “Wait up there little Tess, where’s the fire?” His friends snigger and I feel the anger welling up inside me. Pulling my arm away I turn to him and say angrily. “Leave me alone. I’m not interested in being part of some sick game that you play because you’re bored. My cousin has told me what you’re like and I’m not interested in being yours and Skylar’s next target.”

I stomp off and Cally follows me in disbelief. I can almost hear a pin drop such is the silence that follows. I almost make it to Gabe’s car when I feel someone behind me and then I am picked up off the ground and carried away from the cars to a clearing behind the bike sheds.

Struggling I shout, “Put me down now!” I hear him chuckle and then I am carefully placed on the ground and pinned against the wall. Looking up I see Ash looking at me with amusement. There is nobody around and I feel suddenly afraid. I try to get away but he holds me there and then looks at me carefully.

“I don’t know what on earth you are talking about but I do know that you have been avoiding me. That has made me curious little Tess and I like to know what’s going on.”

He leans towards me, his eyes searching my face as if looking for something. I can feel my face burning and then I hear, “Let her go!” Turning my face in the direction of the voice I almost weep with relief when I see Gabe standing there looking extremely angry.

Ash turns to him and says wearily. “You just don’t give up do you?” As he relaxes his hold I break away and run to safety behind Gabe. I pull on his arm. “Come on Gabe, let’s go, he’s not worth it.”

Gabe stands his ground and I can feel the menace in the air. As I look I notice that Jacob and Jace have moved in behind us and their expressions are threatening.

Feeling afraid I look at Ash and plead with him. “Please, just leave us alone. We don’t want any trouble.” Tearing his gaze away from Gabe Ash looks at me and gestures towards his friends. “Let them go, this can wait for another day.”

The others part and let us through. I pull Gabe away and thankfully we are soon at his car. Shaking I say, “Please, just drive Gabe. I don’t want to be the one responsible for you getting hurt.” Gabe is angry I can tell. Sinking back into the seat I know that a confrontation is only a matter of time.

 

Chapter 11

 

The next day is Saturday and I am due to go to work at the library. I decide to tell my Aunt that I don’t feel well enough to go. I just know that Ash will turn up and I don’t feel ready to deal with him yet.

Instead I have a lie in and phone Cally to talk about the plans for this evening. I have the afternoon off from the diner as well because tonight is the school’s beach party. Everyone is talking about it and are very excited. Cally and Piper are going to come and get ready here and we have spent the week planning our outfits and generally getting really excited. Ash and his gang are not expected to attend, and I heard Skylar boasting about a party that she was throwing for the cooler element of the school, stating that school parties were for nerds and losers.

Subsequently everyone is happy. They get to hang out with their cool friends and the rest of the school get to have fun without the threat of being bullied or ridiculed.

 

Around 7pm Cally and Piper turn up with their outfits and Aunt Sarah keeps us supplied with drinks and snacks as we get ready. I am having so much fun and feel more relaxed than I have in a long time. Gabe is going to drive us there and we have promised to stick close to him and his group just in case of unwelcome visitors.

As we get ready I notice just how pretty both of them really are. Like me they dress down all the time in case of drawing attention to themselves. Tonight though I think that they should pull out all the stops and look amazing. I decide to give them a little help and ask if they would let me do their hair and make up. They don’t know that I have special powers which enable me to heal things and give life to otherwise lifeless objects. Not that I am saying that this applies to them but I may just be able to give them a little bit of extra sparkle this evening.

By the time I have finished they both look amazing. I have styled Cally’s hair so that it hangs down her back in waves. The make up accentuates her beautiful blue eyes and her cheeks have a hint of colour to them. Piper looks amazing too. I have cleared up the acne on her forehead. She thinks that it’s make up but she will be surprised to find it gone in the morning. I have put her hair up in an elegant style and her make up draws out the colour of her green eyes.

They look absolutely amazing and both of them are over the moon with their transformations. Cally claps her hands in delight. “Thank you Grace. You are a miracle worker. I have never looked so glamorous. I feel amazing too; you have a real gift for this.”

Piper also thanks me. “Grace, I have never ever looked so good. Thank you so much.” I feel pleased that I can help my friends.

I decide that I will just wear my hair down with minimal makeup. I will leave the glasses behind though and just pick out a white sundress with a pale blue jacket to wear if it gets cold. I pull on some sparkly sandals and we are soon ready to go.

As we head downstairs Gabe is waiting impatiently. Aunt Sarah’s eyes mist over as she sees us and when I reach her she smiles at us all. “You all look lovely. Have a great time and make sure that you all stick together and don’t drink any alcohol.” Gabe looks at us in admiration and I notice with interest how he keeps on looking at Piper in disbelief. She has really transformed this evening and her slim figure and blonde hair are totally his type. This evening is going to be interesting.

When we reach the beach I am amazed at the transformation. There are little camps set up along it with fires burning in drums. The music is loud and there is a band playing on a makeshift stage. There is also a bar area and people are dancing and drinking and generally having a fantastic time. Gabe gets us seats with his group and we sit there watching his friends in amazement. I haven’t ever really spent much time with Gabe’s friends and I soon realise what a fun group they are. I feel proud that Cally and Piper hold their own against the cheerleading crowd and I am amused to see how much attention Gabe gives Piper. He is really fussing over her and I nudge Cally when he hands Piper a drink and leans over and says something to make her laugh.

Cally grins and raises her eyes. “At least one of us is set for a good time.” My heart sinks as I think of Ash and what might have been. I really thought that he liked me and I can’t believe that it had followed the same pattern as Jessica.

A couple of the team chat to Cally and I and we all get on really well. I can tell that they are interested in us but I don’t want to encourage them. If Cally is interested I will support her but I don’t want to get into anything.

After a while Cally pulls me up to dance and the two guys follow us. Pace, appears to have latched on to me and his friend Carter appears to like Cally. Its fun but I soon decide that I would rather not lead them on. I whisper to Cally. “Let’s go for a walk without them. They may get the message then.” Leaving Piper dancing with Gabe we sneak off down the beach.

We walk some distance from the party and sink down on to the sand. It is such a lovely night and we both lean back and watch the waves crashing to the shore.

Cally looks across at me. “Are you having fun Grace?” I nod happily. “I am. This is my first ever beach party and I have been looking forward to it.” Cally looks thoughtful. “You don’t really talk much about your past Grace. I worry that it hasn’t been easy for you.” Picking up the sand and letting it filter through my fingers I say sadly, “I’ve moved around a lot and haven’t had time to make many friends. As soon as I do we move away again.”

Looking alarmed Cally says, “You’re not going to move again are you?” I shrug my shoulders. “Probably. I can’t stay with Aunt Sarah and Gabe forever and when school finishes they will probably move me on again.”

She goes to speak but then we are aware that we are not alone. Two bodies sink down on to the sand beside us and in alarm I see that it is Ash and Jacob. I try to jump up but Ash pulls me down anchoring me beside him with a firm grasp. “Hi girls. Aren’t you enjoying the party? I see you’ve ditched your dancing partners.”

Cally looks at me her eyes wide. Jacob laughs saying, “Come on Cally; let’s leave Ash and Grace to talk.” He pulls her up but she resists him. “No, let me go. I won’t leave Grace with him. He’s dangerous and I don’t want her to get hurt.” Ash laughs and motions towards Jacob who all of a sudden lifts Cally over his shoulder and strides off up the beach with her.

I try to follow but he keeps me in his iron grip and says softly, “Just think of me as her Fairy Godmother. All of her wishes are about to come true.”

I look at him in alarm. “What do you mean?” Laughing softly he says, “I know that they like each other so I thought that I would give them a helping hand. The way she is looking tonight is amazing and Jacob is well and truly smitten more than he was before.”

“How do you know?” I say incredulously. He grins. “I make it my business to know things that will help me in the future. You never know when they might come in useful. Take tonight for instance, I wanted to get you alone and Jacob has always had a hidden thing for Cally. There you go, problem solved.”

Looking at him I say quietly. “Why are you doing this? You have a girlfriend and I don’t want to be part of your fun and games.” Ash suddenly looks serious. “So you said before. Anyway where were you today? I looked everywhere.” Snapping I say, “Avoiding you.” I see him smirking at me. “I thought so. I didn’t like it though.”

Shrugging my shoulders I look down. “I don’t care.”

Turning to face me I see his eyes glittering in the moonlight. Reaching up he touches my face. “It’s taken me a little longer than usual but I know who you are my little Tess or should I say Ana.” Jumping back as though I have been burned I try to jump up.

Pulling me against him he whispers, “I know it’s you. When you left me I was driven to distraction. At first I thought it had been a dream, then I realised it must have been real. How could I have feelings and memories so strong if they were just my imagination?”

Looking down I try to hide my face. I know that one look into my eyes and he would know. This can’t happen and I must do everything that I can to put him off.

However he is no ordinary guy and tilting my face towards his, even in the moonlight he can see everything. He gasps as he stares into my eyes. The very fact that he is so close to me means that I cannot disguise my feelings.

He whispers, “I know it’s you, you cannot hide from me. Leaning forward his lips brush against mine gently. I can feel the heat tearing through my body and I know that I am powerless against him. The distant sound of the music coupled with the crashing waves on the beach add to the intense atmosphere. His kiss is gentle and loving, almost hesitant as if he doesn’t want to scare me away. The very fact that it is so tender lifts my spirit and gives me feelings that I have never felt before.

Taking me in his arms he moves in time to the music, both of us dancing in perfect time with each other. It feels so right to be in his arms yet so wrong at the same time. For now there is nothing that I can do. I have been overcome and I know now that all is lost.

After a while he breaks away and still holding my hand says in a whisper, “Come with me Grace, I want us to be alone somewhere safe. You need to be free again and we need to talk about this.”

I know that I would go anywhere with him at this moment but I am still afraid. Sensing this he pulls me close whispering, “Don’t be afraid. I won’t hurt you. I just want to talk. Go and tell your friends that you are not feeling well and are leaving with Cally. I promise you that you will be safe.” For some reason I do feel safe with him, all of the fear that I did have appears to have left me. Nodding I look up at him and smile. His breath catches in his throat and he gazes at me an unfathomable expression on his face. He is fighting some demons of his own, I can tell. Maybe just maybe I can help him.

Pulling away I run back up the beach towards the party. I search for Gabe and ask one of his friends if they’ve seen him. Smirking he points to the dance floor and I stifle a giggle as I see him and Piper dancing together locked at the lips. Raising my eyes up I tell his friend to tell Gabe that Cally and I have left and I’ll see him at home. I feel better about telling him that as it’s the truth and I cannot lie. Grabbing my jacket I leave in search of Ash.

Chapter 12

 

I race back up the beach and then I see him, a shadowy figure in the moonlight. As I approach him he smiles and holding out his hand I grab hold of it, the feeling as I touch him sending little electric shocks through my body.

“Come on, I know just the place.” I wonder where we are going and he soon leads me to his motorbike. Grabbing his jacket he places it around my shoulders. As he sits astride the powerful machine he pulls me behind him. Hold on Angel, you’ll be perfectly safe.

Nervously I sit behind him and wrap my arms around his waist. I can feel him tense underneath my touch and I bury my face in his back. He starts the engine and the bike pulls away.

I have never ridden a motorbike before and the feeling is of pure exhilaration. As I cling on to him the wind whips through my hair and the feeling of speed lifts my spirits. The fact that I am with Ash intensifies the experience and closing my eyes against his broad back I lose myself in the sensation.

It doesn’t take long and soon the bike stops and once more there is silence. Opening my eyes I can see that we are in the mountains, back at the lake, our special place.

Turning to face me Ash’s eyes glitter in the moonlight and touching my face he says darkly, “You belong with me Grace; I felt it when you held me. We were meant to be together, you are my destiny.” He leans towards me and kisses me, his tongue gently probing and claiming mine. We come together in our special place once more and I know that he is right. Somehow this feels right, as if it was always meant to happen.

Pulling away Ash smiles sweetly and lifts me gently off the bike. “Come on, you need to be free.”

Leading me to the lake he takes off the jacket. As I feel his touch it is as though I am on fire. The feelings are so intense and I shiver as the jacket falls to the ground. As he looks at me I see him frown and then he reaches towards me and takes the locket in his hands. “Take it off Angel, you don’t need it here.”

Seeing my expression he laughs. “You think that I don’t know a suppressor when I see it?” Holding his eyes with mine I reach behind me, undo the clasp and remove the locket, laying it gently on the ground with his jacket. I watch the wonder on his face as I feel the release from my makeshift prison. I can feel the sensation rushing through me as my soul escapes.

Lifting my eyes I know they burn brightly as he can see all of me in them. I stare at him as I remove my dress and see his eyes darken as he watches me, then tearing my gaze from his I walk into to the cool calm water of the lake and lay back, stretching in contentment as I feel cleansed by the moon’s rays.

I know that he is watching me and I don’t care. It feels right that he sees me like this; he has to know who I am. Hearing a splash I know that he has joined me. I turn to face him and he takes me in his arms. “You have nothing to fear from me Grace,” he says seriously. “I won’t let anything happen to you, I promise. We will find a way to be together, I just want you to feel safe with me.”

Lifting my hand I run my fingers through his hair. “I do feel safe with you Ash, here in this special place, but I can’t be with you down there. If anyone discovers who I am I will be moved away and I will never see you again. If my Guardians knew that we were together they would take me away forever. It’s impossible; there is no way for us.”

I can tell that he doesn’t like it and his eyes glitter dangerously. “I will find a way; I am not going to lose you now that I have found you.” Reaching up I kiss him gently on the lips. For now we must just enjoy the time that we do have. As we kiss it feels so right. The perfect puzzle complete. Nothing else matters at this moment in time. The rest will have to wait.

 

We lay side by side once again, our bodies drying in the heat of the night, my head resting on Ash’s lap as he strokes my hair. Looking down at me he says in a whisper,

How very lovable her face was to him. Yet there was nothing ethereal about it; all was real vitality, real warmth, real incarnation. And it was in her mouth that this culminated. Eyes almost as deep and speaking he had seen before, and cheeks perhaps as fair; brows as arched, a chin and throat almost as shapely; her mouth he had seen nothing to equal on the face of the earth.

Smiling softly I say, “Quoting Tess at me Ash. If only Miss Peter’s could see us now.” Laughing he grins. “You bring out the romantic in me Grace. You may have several names but you will always be my little Tess.”

Sitting up I move to face him and say gently, “Thus, neither having the clue to the other’s secret, they were respectively puzzled at what each revealed, and awaited new knowledge of each other’s character and moods without attempting to pry into each other’s history.”

Ash’s eyes darken and he pulls me to meet him. His kiss sends powerful feelings through me of longing and this time the kiss is deeper and more passionate. I know that if he asked I would give myself willingly to him.”

As if reading my thoughts he pulls away and I can see the fire in his eyes. With emotion in his voice he says, “I want to make you mine more than I have ever wanted anything in my life before, but I can’t bring myself to take what is not yet mine.” Puzzled I look at him and he smiles bitterly. “I am not worthy of you yet Grace. I need to protect you from me, I said that before and I meant it. You are not ready yet and when I have proved myself to you then it will be your decision to make.”

I pull him against me and stroke his hair as he did mine. He is right; we have a long road to travel first if we ever stand a chance to be together. We will just have to be happy with the time that we do manage to steal.

Chapter 13

 

Ash and I fall asleep, my head on his chest as he cradles me against him. The first rays of the sun touch our sleeping bodies and with a start I realise that we have been here all night. Sitting up in alarm I look down in wonder at the beautiful man beside me.

As he looks at me I can see his eyes flash with excitement. Reaching towards me he takes a piece of my hair in his hands and says in wonder. “You are beyond beautiful in the moonlight, but the sun against your face is breathtaking. It is as though you are nature itself.” Laughing I say, “Careful, your reputation will be in tatters if you say any more.”

Laughing he jumps up and grabs hold of me and dips me to the ground. He kisses me with raw passion, a hard unyielding kiss that lights the fire within me and as he pulls away he laughs at my flushed cheeks. “That good enough for you?” He smirks and reaching up I touch my lips that he has just ravaged. Looking at him with what I know must be a wanton expression he gasps. “Put your locket back on Grace before I lose my resolve.”

Laughing I get dressed and we are soon back to the motorbike. Looking subdued he pulls me behind him again. “We will find a way you know, leave it to me.” I look at him in alarm. “You must ignore me down there Ash. Nobody can know about us, especially not Skylar and her friends. You must keep away from me.”

I can tell that he is angry and he looks at me petulantly. “I don’t want to. It will be difficult as I want you to be with me all of the time.” Shrugging I say, “It’s that or nothing. I will tell Cally that I left you on the beach and nothing happened. You get on with your life and I mine. This will be the only place that we can meet. Promise me.” Ash nods but then says urgently. “Meet me here again tonight, please Grace.” Touching his face I say softly, “I’ll try.” He kisses me gently and then starts up the motorbike. As we speed back to reality I wonder what the future will hold.

 

Ash drops me off some way from the house and I manage to sneak in before anyone gets up. I quickly change and jump into bed, hugging my knees to my chest as I re-live every moment from the night before.

I drift off to sleep and am woken up about 10am by Aunt Sarah who brings me a drink. Sitting on my bed she smiles. “It must have been a good night because I was fast asleep when you and Gabe got in. In fact where is he? I just took him a drink but his bed hasn’t been slept in.”

In surprise I wonder what Gabe has been up to and then remember Piper. Goodness what a lot must have happened to us all last night. Looking at her I shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know. I made my own way back. When Cally and I left he was dancing with Piper.” Thankfully I don’t need to lie as that was the truth and luckily my Aunt doesn’t push it.

When she leaves I grab the phone. I must know what happened to them. Punching in Cally’s number I am relieved when she answers, albeit in a sleepy voice. “Cally, thank goodness, are you ok?” “Hmm Grace hi…….Oh my God Grace are you ok?” Laughing I reply, “Yes I’m fine but I’m not sure about Piper. Why don’t you call her and we can meet up at Violet’s for a de brief.”

“Great, oh Grace I have so much to tell you.” Smiling I wish that I could tell her what had happened to me, but I know that I can’t. It’s our secret and no one must ever know.

 

When I get to Violet’s I can see Cally already sitting there waiting. She looks trashed and I smile as I see the flush in her cheeks and the sparkle in her eyes. Grinning at her I raise my eyes. “Good night?” Pulling me down beside her she says dreamily. “Oh Grace, you can only imagine.”

“Then tell me!” I say in desperation. Laughing she whispers. “Well, Jacob carried me up the beach and I couldn’t believe it. He put me on the back of his motorbike and drove us to the other side of town, to a beautiful place where there was nobody but us. He took me in his arms and told me that he had always loved me and had ignored me to protect me from Skylar and her gang. He didn’t want me involved with that crowd and the fact that he sees me every day has been killing him. Then he kissed me Grace and it was everything that I have ever imagined it would be. He kissed me all night long and then we spoke like we never had before. It was the best night of my life.”

Thoughtfully I say, “But what now? I mean won’t Teagan find out and then you’ll be in trouble.” She shakes her head sadly. “No, we have to go back to how it was before. He told me that once school has finished we can be together properly. He did say though that he would find a way for us to meet where it would be safe.”

Lowering my eyes I feel sympathy for their predicament as mine is the same.

Before she can question me Piper walks in a dreamy look on her face. Sliding into the seat opposite us she looks at us both with utter contentment on her face. “I’m in love with your cousin Grace. I’m just putting it out there, ok.”

Laughing Cally and I exchange excited looks. “Come on, spill everything.” Cally shouts. Dreamily Piper says, “Gabe and I spent the whole entire night together, talking, dancing, kissing and cuddling. We fell asleep on the beach and when we woke up he asked if I would be his girlfriend.” We stare at her in amazement and I think how lucky she is that she can be open about her relationship.

We are interrupted by our server and all order huge breakfasts. Violet stops by and throws us all a knowing look. “Looks like you all had a good night. Oh to be young again.” Winking she walks away and we all grin at each other.

The others look at me expectantly. “Well, your turn Grace. What happened to you?” Feeling myself grow hotter I say matter of factly. “Nothing. I told Ash to leave me alone and then I went home.”

Once again I miss out most of what did happen and I hope that they will buy it. Cally’s eyes widen and she says, “I was worried about you Grace. He had the look of a predator and I was afraid for you. It was like Jessica Parker all over again.” Piper looks confused. “What did I miss?”

As I look at Cally she says quickly, “Nothing much. Ash and Jacob showed up and Grace put Ash in his place. Hopefully he will leave her alone now.” Piper looks worried. “I didn’t know. I’m sorry girls. I was so wrapped up in Gabe I sort of ditched you didn’t I?” Laughing we do our best to lighten the atmosphere. It’s best that nobody ever finds out what we were really up to last night.

Chapter 14

 

When I get home I find Gabe lying on the settee watching the football. Sinking down beside him I tease him saying, “What did you get up to last night?”

Groaning he holds his head in his hands. “Quiet Grace you’re shouting.” Not giving up I say, “What about Piper. She says she’s your girlfriend now?” His eyes swivel round and he grins at me. “Sorry about that Grace. I know she’s your friend but when I saw what you had done to her I saw her in a whole new light. I never realised what a stunner she really is. I’m sorry but she’s mine now.”

Laughing I push him saying, “She’s still my friend, what do you mean?” He throws me a wicked look. “She’s not invisible anymore and will have to hang out with me. I’m not having her grab the attention of Ash and his bunch of goons. I need her with me to protect her.”

Snorting I push him playfully. “Some protector you are.” He jumps up in alarm. “Why what happened?” Feeling cross with myself I try to smooth it over. “Oh, Ash and Jacob turned up at the beach but I told him to leave me alone, that’s all no harm done.”

He looks at me and I will myself not to blush. Then with a thoughtful expression he sits back down. “That explains it then.” In alarm I say, “Explains what?” He shrugs. “I heard that Skylar was pissed last night because he never showed up to her party. Her and Teagan were out of control and hooked up with more than one guy there, probably in revenge. Apparently they are on the war path though and if they find out that they were with anyone else, then God help those girls.” His eyes narrow as he looks at me. “They weren’t were they?” Shaking my head I try to look normal. “Why are you asking me, ask them if you want to know.” Gabe settles back to watch the football but I feel unnerved by what he says. I am not sure that Ash can protect me from Skylar and I can definitely feel a storm brewing.

I spend the rest of the day lounging around indoors. I know that Ash wants me to meet up with him and I feel excited but worried at the same time.

After dinner I grab my bag and tell my Aunt that I am going out to meet my friends. Once again this is a variation on the truth as I am only meeting one person, although he is much more than just a friend.

Grabbing my bike I use the time that it takes me to get to the ridge to think about all that has happened. Despite my misgivings about my new found situation I ignore the warnings going off inside my head. My heart is well and truly winning this battle and I push away the warning bells that are ringing loudly inside of me.

As soon as I get there I see him waiting and my heart does a somersault as he looks over. As he approaches I see his eyes glittering and drawing me in. Reaching me he takes my hand and pulls me against him. “I’ve missed you Grace,” he says softly and then kisses me gently, blowing my mind in the process.

Pulling me down next to him he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a little black box. In surprise I watch as he offers it to me and when I open it I see a little silver heart on a chain. Looking up at him my eyes shining I say, “It’s beautiful Ash.” Reaching up he puts it around my neck and kisses me. “Now you have my heart Grace and all that comes with it. You have nothing to fear and my heart will work with your locket to protect you. Never take it off and then nothing can harm you.”

Looking puzzled I hold the heart in my fingers and immediately feel a sense of calm as I hold it. He smiles at me softly. “You’re not the only one who has magical powers.” Reaching up to him I whisper, “Thank you.” Then I kiss him gently. He crushes me to him and we just kiss enjoying the feeling of being together again.

Later on I say. “What did you do today?” Suddenly he looks annoyed. “Well after I got some sleep I was woken up by a visitor.”

Seeing my worried expression he grabs my hands and looks reassuringly at me. “Skylar came to the house, pissed that I never showed up to her stupid party. I told her that she didn’t interest me anymore and that I had heard that she had put it about last night. She got angry and blamed me but I told her that we were finished and that she had better stay away from me in the future. She didn’t like it and told me to watch out and if she heard that I had been seeing anyone else they wouldn’t be safe.”

I look at him in alarm and his face contorts with hatred. He hisses, “I told her that if she ever hurt anybody close to me then I would come after her. She wouldn’t be safe from me and I would destroy her.” Chuckling evilly he says, “I think she got the message. I can be very intimidating when I want to be.” I grow quiet. I know that he can and that worries me. We are poles apart, opposite ends of the spectrum, and I worry what he is capable of. Looking at me sadly once again he quotes from Tess.

I was born bad, and I have lived bad, and I shall die bad in all probability.”

Squeezing his hand I look at him steadily. “I too can quote with the best of them – You, and those like you, take your fill of pleasure on earth by making the life of such as me bitter and black with sorrow; and then it is a fine thing, when you have had enough of that, to think of securing your pleasure in heaven by becoming converted!”

Thoughtfully he says, “Is that what you think, that I could be converted?” He laughs sadly saying, “Like that would ever happen.” Then he grins. “Maybe we should read a different book.” Grinning I reply, “Why, don’t you like the ending of this one?” He shakes his head, “No I do not. It’s a tragedy and I for once want a happy ending. Anyway enough of all this, let’s not waste time talking about such things. I want to get to know everything about you. I need to lose myself in you to forget my own sorry existence.

Chapter 15

 

I am dreading going to school today. I spent way too long with Ash last night and am now paying the price for lack of sleep. It is going to be hard seeing him and not being able to speak or even acknowledge him. Thinking of my predicament I realise that Cally will also find it tough. Sighing I grab my bag and join Gabe downstairs.

On the way to school he says urgently. “Listen Grace. You had better join us today. Ash is unpredictable at the moment and seems to have more than just a passing interest in you. The last thing I want is another Jessica Parker situation so make sure that the three of you sit with us and we’ll protect you.” Looking sideways at him I smile. “Are you sure it’s not just because you can’t keep away from Piper?” He grins at me. “That’s just the icing on the cake. I get to spend time with her at the same time as protecting you.”

As we park up I see the usual group of motorbikes with their riders milling around with Skylar and her gang. Putting my head down I walk with Gabe, trying not to make eye contact. However as we pass I am surprised to see Skylar draped around Jace. They are kissing each other and his hands are all over her. Gabe whistles as we pass. “Well, well. I wonder what Ash will make of that new partnership.”

Saying nothing I head inside and find my friends. Gabe comes with me and I laugh as he makes a bee line for Piper. She is looking amazing as her acne has now well and truly gone and her eyes are shining, mainly due to my gorgeous cousin who can’t seem to keep his hands off her.

Cally laughs and winks at me, then drawing me aside she whispers, “I wish that I could be like them with Jacob. It’s going to be hell on earth seeing him around with Teagan hanging off of him.” I look at her in surprise. “Is he still with her then?” Nodding sorrowfully Cally says, “He told me that if he finished with her then she would be suspicious and he didn’t want it to lead to me. He reminded me of what they’re capable of and until he can think of another way we will have to carry on as before.” I squeeze her arm in sympathy. How horrible to see your guy with another and not be able to do anything about it.

The air then goes tense as the hallway is suddenly filled with leather jackets and testosterone. I try to look interested in my locker and out of the corner of my eye see Ash and his gang followed by Skylar and hers. They reach their lockers and I watch as Skylar walks up to Jace and reaching up pulls him down to meet her for a long lingering kiss. She does it right in front of Ash and there is a collective holding of breath from everyone around.

Looking disinterested Ash slams his locker shut and heads off to his first lesson. I see Teagan grab hold of Jacob as he goes to follow him and he just gives her a brief kiss on the cheek and follows his friend. Her expression is one of annoyance and she looks with irritation at his retreating figure.

As soon as he leaves Skylar moves away from Jace and flicking her long dark hair over her shoulder she says to her friends, “Come on. I need a pee.”

They head off to the restrooms and I see Jace grin at his friend Quade. “She’s one hot chick, that’s all I’m gonna say.” He smirks and after much slapping on the back from his friends they all head off.

Leaning against the locker Cally’s eyes are wide. “That was tense. I wonder what Ash thinks about his girlfriend going off with Jace?” Gabe turns around saying, “You’re joking aren’t you. She is obviously just trying to make him jealous. My guess is that he’s cut her loose and she’s trying to get back at him. Not that he’ll be bothered; he hasn’t got a heart anyway and has probably already moved on with someone else.” Feeling myself blush I grab my books and hurry off to my lesson. I am not sure how long this will work for. I just hope that Ash keeps his part of the bargain and keeps well away from me around here.

 

We have our lunch with Gabe and his group of friends and have a lot of fun teasing him and Piper. Despite the fact that the second best catch of the school has been taken the girls are surprisingly welcoming to the three of us. I see Ash in the distance but don’t make eye contact. Despite this I do feel his eyes on me whenever I am near him. They burn into my very soul and once again I wish that we could be together with no complications.

Gabe reminds us that the football game is tonight with Freyview High. There is an intense rivalry at these games and we are all expected to turn out to cheer our team on. Cally, Piper and I have decided to go together to show our support. Luckily, Ash and his friends don’t bother going to games, they are usually causing trouble somewhere else instead.

I am actually quite looking forward to it. I can’t wait to see Gabe and the team and it will be a break from the normal routine. I have told Ash that I won’t be able to get away tonight. My Aunt is becoming suspicious of the fact that I am out so late and I need to restore her trust in me. He wasn’t happy about it and I could tell that it made him really mad. For somebody who is so used to getting his own way all of the time, this situation is going to be harder for him than most.

 

The evening soon comes and it is time to take our places to watch the game. Armed with hot dogs and popcorn Piper, Cally and I take up our seats in the stands.

Looking around me with interest I see that the place is almost full and despite the fact that it is a home game, there are large amounts of visiting fans to support Freyview. The atmosphere is on fire and we watch as the cheerleaders do their stuff. I had once wanted to be a cheerleader but never fitted in. The other girls hated me and I soon left because it was too stressful and started impacting on my studies.

Cally nudges me and points as Gabe comes out followed by his team. We laugh as we see Piper jumping up and down in excitement cheering for him. Looking up, somehow he sees her and blows her a kiss and we all dissolve into hysterics. They are going to make a great couple, that much is obvious.

Before long the game begins and we get caught up in it. By halftime Falcondell is slightly ahead and feeling pleased we head off to get some drinks. We listen in amusement as Piper rattles on incessantly about Gabe.

As we wait in line I feel somebody pressing against me from behind. Turning around I see a guy wearing the Freyview colours laughing as his friends egg him on. “Hello ladies. Would you like to come and experience the joys of sitting with some real men for a change and not those boys from Falcondell?” I push him away angrily. “No thank you. We are perfectly happy where we are thanks.” Laughing they close in on us and we don’t have much space. Cally says angrily, “Stand back and give us some space. You heard her back off.” Holding up his hands the creepy guy moves back and they all laugh wickedly.

Quickly we get our drinks and make our way back to the stands. “Urgh, horrible Freyview creepy guys. Thank goodness we go to Falcondell.” Cally says pulling a face. “Could you imagine dealing with creeps like that on a daily basis?” We laugh and then turn our attention back to the game.

Luckily Falcondell wins and we all cheer and shout until we are hoarse. Her eyes shining Piper turns to us, “Come on, let’s go and find Gabe.”

Pulling us along behind her we tear off to wait for him to get changed. As we turn the corner my heart sinks as I see the creepy guys leaning against the wall. We will have to pass them and I know that we may not be lucky enough to avoid a confrontation.

As they see us coming they spread out and we can’t pass them. Nervously I look behind us to see if there is anyone around for support but there is nobody around in this part of the ground. Keeping our heads down we push past them. Then one of them grabs my arm and pulls me around to face him. He leers at me and I can smell the alcohol mixed with cigarettes on his breath. “Going somewhere honey?” Trying to pull away I look at him angrily. “Let go of me.” His eyes narrowing he says in a threatening voice. “Listen honey, I don’t like to lose and certainly not twice in one night. Me and the guys here figured to make up for it we would have some fun of our own and you lucky ladies are going to provide the party.”

Cally and Piper look frightened and I watch as they are also grabbed by two of the other guys. A further two move across to guard the exit and all of a sudden I feel myself pushed against the wall as he holds me with one arm and then moves his other hand down to my waistband. Cally screams and then her attacker puts his hand over her mouth and also pushes her against the wall. Trying to fight him off I am no match for him and tears run down my face as I am powerless against him. His mouth is all over me and I can feel his heart beating in excitement as he tries to remove my jeans.

Suddenly all hell breaks loose. In shock he raises his head as one of the guys on guard flies across the floor. With relief I see Ash and his gang standing there looking more intimidating than anything I have ever seen.

Before he can react, Ash is on the guy and hauls him off of me with a howl of rage. He brings his fist up to the guys face and in horror I see him throw a powerful punch that brings the guy down. He then starts kicking him mercilessly and I realise that the guy doesn‘t stand a chance.

At the same time I see Jacob inflicting the same on Cally’s assailant and Jace, Quade and Killian punching the lights out of the other guys. I feel sick, somebody must stop them. There is no respite and they carry on punching and kicking the guys who are overwhelmed and can’t even seem to fight back. Screaming at Ash to stop I don’t think that he is even registering anything other than his extreme anger. He shows no mercy and nothing is stopping him.

Suddenly Lucian appears as if from nowhere. “Guys it’s time to go.” We hear a shout and then people running towards us. I hear sirens in the distance and then everything stops.

Grabbing hold of me Ash pulls me along after him. I can see Cally and Piper being dragged along behind Jacob and the others and they don’t stop until we reach their bikes. Pulling us behind them we roar off into the night and I have never been as scared as I am at this moment. It appears that we all split up and as I cling on to Ash as he races off into the night I fear what will happen next.

Chapter 16

 

As I thought Ash takes us to the Ridge and as the powerful machine is silenced I sit there still clinging on to him, not quite believing what has just happened. He must feel me trembling and turns around his face looking anxiously at me. Holding me to him he says, “Are you hurt Grace?” As I look up at him his breath catches in his throat and his eyes fill with tears. “Don’t look at me like that, please I can’t bear it.” I know that my expression is a mixture of horror and disbelief and I feel stunned.

Pulling me from the bike he takes me over to a nearby patch of ground and sits me down. “Please say something Grace, I can’t bear to see you looking at me like that.”

Looking at him I can hear my voice trembling. “You could have killed him.” His eyes flash and turn black. Nodding he says, “I could have done and I wanted to.”

Hearing me gasp he says bitterly. “I warned you about me Grace. I wanted to protect you and in doing so I revealed that the person that you need protecting from the most is me.” Falteringly I say, “Why didn’t you stop?” He says angrily, “Because I can’ t. Once I start there are no boundaries. The saying - He has the Devil in him- well that ’s truer for me than most Grace. You must have guessed that. When I was born it was without any sort of moral compass. All of my life I’ve cared for nothing or nobody.”

Suddenly looking uncertain he says, “Until I met you.” Reaching up he takes my face in his hands. “You have made me feel again Grace. Around you I am a different person. I want to make you happy and I want to protect you. The fact that I can’t is tearing me up inside. If I had my way, and I usually do, I would have told everyone about us. I haven’t because I knew that you didn’t want me to. Do you know how hard that is for me?”

Shaking my head the tears fall and I can hear the pain in his voice. “Grace, before you came I was lost. I had no purpose other than to learn everything I could because knowledge is power. I am to use the knowledge against other people to get what I want. If anyone gets in my way I crush them. There are never any repercussions because my uncle is too powerful.” Waving his hands towards the lights of the Town he says, “There will be nothing said about what we did tonight. There will be no witnesses and those guys will never talk. Even if they did my uncle would sort it and if he didn’t…” He laughs a bitter hollow laugh. “Then my father would, and nobody ever goes against him.”

I feel the fear creeping through my body and I almost can’t look at him. “That’s all well and good for you but not for the rest of us. We have to live with your actions and now those guys will be damaged and probably word will get out about the three of us and Skylar and her friends will seek retribution. We will have to deal with the fallout not you.”

He looks at me angrily. “Nobody will say anything. If they do I will sort it. Skylar and her friends are nothing and I can deal with them in a matter of minutes.” Then his voice lowers and he looks suddenly uncertain. “What I can’t deal with is the thought of losing you Grace. For the first time in my life I have something pure and innocent that I will guard with my life, even if it means going against everything that I want.” Taking my hands he looks deeply into my eyes. “I love you Grace and will do anything that you ask. Please help me, I know that you can. Only you can make me believe in a better life than the one that lies ahead. Please say you will?”

As I look into his eyes I can feel my heart breaking. We are as far apart as two people can be yet bound together so tightly that one will not survive without the other.

I sigh softly. “How can this work Ash? I want it to more than anything I have ever wanted. My life is no different to yours. It has been mapped out for me since the beginning. I am expected to follow a path and my whole life has been charted along that course. I am sure that as soon as my Guardians find out about the company I am keeping I will be whisked away from here never to return.”

As I look at him my eyes mist over and reaching up I touch his face. “But I can’t imagine not being with you.” Remembering another quote from Tess I say gently, “Sheer experience had already taught her that in some circumstances there was one thing better than to lead a good life, and that was to be saved from leading any life whatever.”

His eyes gleaming in the darkness Ash pulls me gently towards him. He touches my lips with his in a gentle loving kiss. I know that he wants to protect me but I wonder just how that will be possible.

 

We sit together for a while thinking about the night’s events. Remembering Cally and Piper I say, “What about my friends, will they be ok?” He nods. “Jacob will see that Cally is ok and Quade will have taken Piper home. They won’t talk so don’t worry about them.” Thinking about Jace and Skylar I say, “But won’t Jace tell Skylar what happened?” Ash laughs evilly. “I told Jace to get with Skylar to get her off my back. She will only be happy if she thinks that I am jealous. Little does she know that Jace is just along for the ride.”

Shaking my head he looks at me and raises his eyes. “What? I’ve told you what I’m like. I never cared for her she was just convenient.” Snatching my hand away I say in a tight voice. “Just take me home Ash. I think I’ve heard enough for one night.”

Looking alarmed he says quickly. “Not you though Grace. You have changed me in here.” Grabbing my hand he holds it to his heart and I can feel it thumping in his chest. He looks at me with a gentle expression. “I want to make you happy Grace and if doing that means I have to change then I will. I need you to make me feel.”

Looking at him standing there as one big conflict of emotions I realise that he does need me more than anyone has ever needed me before in my life. One thing more I realise is that despite everything I have seen and heard I need him too. Pulling his face towards mine I kiss him and pour all of the love that I feel into it. Now I know I’m in trouble.

Chapter 17

 

Ash drops me off near to my house and I head off home with a heavy heart. I can’t get the images out of my head of the violent scenes that I witnessed. Pushing open the door I see Aunt Sarah baking in the kitchen. Wiping flour off her hands she smiles warmly at me. “Hi honey, come in and I’ll make you a drink and you can tell me what happened at the game.” As I sit there I just wish that I could. However I know that as soon as she finds out about Ash I would be out of here quicker than I could pack.

Looking around me I realise what I have missed out on all my life. I have watched other people have a perfect family life with two parents who love them and brothers and sisters to share and argue with. How I wish that I had had that too. This is the first time in my life that I have come close and I will do anything to stay here.

Interrupting my thoughts the door slams and Gabe flies into the room. Slamming his bag down on to the floor he goes to the refrigerator and grabs a can. Looking at me he says, “Where did you all go? I looked everywhere but nobody knew where you were.” Looking down I avoid eye contact. “We left when we heard there was trouble, sorry Gabe we didn’t think.” Sitting next to me he shrugs and then grins broadly. “We won though. It’s always good to beat Freyview. They are such a bunch of losers in more ways than one.”

Aunt Sarah looks pleased saying, “I’m glad you won honey.” Then she laughs and waves her hands towards me. “Although Grace looks a bit shell shocked after her first game, what did you mean that there was trouble though?” Luckily Gabe chips in. “Some guys from Freyview got badly beaten. They got carted off in ambulances.”

Aunt Sarah looks shocked. “Do you know who it was?” Gabe raises his eyes up. “No prizes for guessing who, but of course there were no witnesses and by all accounts the guys who were beaten up said they didn’t see who it was.” Aunt Sarah looks worried and turns to me. “You didn’t see anything Grace did you? I’m so worried that you could have been caught up in it all.” I look at them both nervously. “Don’t worry Aunt Sarah; I know that I’m to keep away from anything, that’s why I left.” Luckily they seem to believe me and I feel terrible. I know just what would happen if they discovered that I was very much involved and I can’t take that chance.

We manage to have our dinner without further mention of the game and the drama that unfolded afterwards. The phone rings and Aunt Sarah passes it to me. I hear the urgency in Cally’s voice as she speaks. “Grace are you ok?” Trying to sound light hearted around my Aunt and Gabe I say, “Yes, you?” “Not really. Shall we meet up at Violet’s? I’ve already called Piper and she’s going to meet us there in fifteen. We need to get our story straight.”

“Ok, I’ll see you there.” My Aunt looks up in surprise. I try to look normal as I say, “Cally wants me to meet up, she’s got something on her mind. Is it ok?” Aunt Sarah smiles. “Of course dear, but don’t be late; you look as if you need the sleep.”

Gabe looks up. “Do you need a ride?” Shaking my head I say quickly, “No need, I’ll cycle there. It’s not far and I’ll be fine.” He looks relieved. “Good. I’m just going to get changed and then I’m meeting the guys for a celebratory drink.”

Raising her eyes at me my Aunt laughs. “I can’t keep up with all the comings and goings in this house. Just be careful both of you.” Smiling reassuringly at her I too race off to get changed.

 

In no time at all I am at Violet’s and see them waiting with worried faces in a corner booth. As I slide in beside Piper, Cally looks at me fearfully and whispers. “Oh my God, I am still shaking. Did that just happen?”

Piper and I look as worried as she does and Piper says fearfully. “What will happen if Skylar finds out that we were with their guys? I can’t even tell Gabe because Quade warned me not to. He said that if I breathed a word of anything that happened he wouldn’t be able to protect me from Skylar and Ash.”

Cally looks equally worried saying, “If Teagan finds out I’m in so much trouble. Do you think anyone saw us?” I shake my head firmly. “Gabe seems to think that no one saw anything. I just hope that it’s true. We’re probably best just keeping our heads down and denying anything if anyone asks.”

Just then Piper says, “I’m not going to lie though, that was probably the most intense experience of my life. I never thought I’d be rescued by a bad boy and whisked away on his motorbike. I don’t think I’ll ever be the same again.” Grinning at Cally I say, “Don’t let Gabe hear you talking like that. He’ll be turning up in a leather jacket with a motor bike quicker than you can blink.” Piper laughs, her eyes shining. “This is now officially the best week of my life.”

I smile but I still feel hollow inside. Seeing my expression Cally says, “You’re worrying about the creepy guys aren’t you?” I try to smile. “Look I know they were evil and I’ll admit I was relieved to see Ash and his gang, but I can’t get the image out of my head of them on the ground. If the sirens hadn’t sounded then I don’t think that they would have stopped.”

Cally and Piper look equally grim. Cally whispers, “Jacob was so wound up. I couldn’t believe it. He was so angry and I agree he probably wouldn’t have stopped. It took a lot to calm him down.”

Piper looks surprised. “Didn’t they just drop you off like me then?” Cally and I share a look and say quickly, “Of course they did,” in unison and I see Piper’s eyes narrow. Luckily we are interrupted as Sylvia one of the waitresses comes over to take our order.

By the time we have finished we decide to just carry on as normal and deny everything. It’s all we can do and I am dreading the thought of going to school tomorrow as I am sure that my guilt will be written all over my face.

 

Chapter 18

 

The next day it is all anyone can talk about. I try to keep away from Ash and his gang, especially Skylar and her friends. The word is though that she is not happy. I overheard someone saying that Skylar thinks that Ash was at the game looking for someone. If she found out it was a girl then she would make it her business to destroy them. Feeling uneasy I carry on but it is difficult to concentrate. Luckily I have a shift at Violet’s after work to take my mind off it all.

I feel so at home at Violet’s now. I love everyone that works there and feel part of a large family. It is such a happy place to work and Violet is a great boss. Once again I am set to wait on the tables and I am soon busy. As I come out of the kitchen my heart sinks when I see Ash sitting at a table with his friends. Averting my gaze I try to ignore them. Violet assigns one of the more experienced no nonsense servers to their table and I do my best to avoid them. I can feel Ash’s eyes on me though and it is extremely distracting.

After about half an hour the door opens and with interest I see a man walk in who looks around him with a hostile expression. He is dressed in a black suit and his hair is also black and swept back away from his face. He has an arrogance about him and despite the fact that he is a handsome man he appears cold and callous. He surveys the room and as I watch I see Ash look at him with an angry glare. Just then Violet comes out of the kitchen and seeing him tightens her mouth saying, “What are you doing here Jake?” In fascination I watch as he prowls over to her and runs his fingers around her waist and then lowers them, gripping her from behind. Leaning down he brushes his lips against hers and I see him whisper something in her ear. Violet blushes and her expression changes as she licks her lips. Pushing him away she says loudly, “Go on then, pick me up at closing time and don’t be late.”

I watch as he smirks at her and then his eyes scan the room and settle on Ash and his gang. The others look uneasy but Ash just stares at him with a bored expression. The man goes over to them and I can see him say something to Ash. Whatever it is Ash doesn’t like it and slapping some money on to the table he grabs his jacket and I hear him say, “Come on guys, we’re out of here.” The man looks pleased with himself as he follows them out.

As I return to the kitchen I ask Sally my fellow waitress. “Who was that?” Shivering she says, “Jake Knight. He goes out with Violet and that was his nephew who he spoke to. Not a family you want to be involved with in any way take my word for it.”

I feel uneasy at her words. There is an air of menace that surrounds them and I am not sure that I will be able to cope with it.

Heading home later I decide to have an early night. I need some time alone to re group and clear my head. I did think of going to the Ridge but can’t take the chance that Ash would turn up. I am starting to feel more and more imprisoned as each day goes on.

 

When I get to school the next morning once again the talk is of a disturbance on the other side of town last night. Apparently some thugs went to a bar and trashed it. The rumours are that the owners owed Mr Knight money and he had run out of patience. The bar was completely destroyed and the owner was badly beaten. Most people believe that it was down to Ash and his gang and I feel sick thinking about it.

I overhear Skylar boasting to her friends near the lockers. “Of course it was Ash and his gang, Jace told me. It’s them all over. Mr Knight calls and they come running. I’ll tell you what though girls, I had a good time afterwards if you know what I mean. Jace was on fire. Ash doesn’t know what he’s missing with me. I always used to help him calm down after a fight, it’s what I do best.”

They all laugh and Teagan says, “Well you were lucky. I haven’t seen much of Jacob at all lately. I’m getting quite worried really; do you think he’s gone off me?”

Another girl who I know to be called Paisley laughs saying, “You’re joking aren’t you. Have you looked around lately? There’s not much to choose from amongst this bunch of nerds. If he’s got someone else they must be from Freyview.” Then what I hear next chills me to the bone as Skylar says darkly, “Jace told me that Ash is interested in someone called Ana. I have a friend who goes to Freyview and she is going to find out if she goes there. When I find out where she is I think a visit might be in order, don’t you agree girls.”

They all head off laughing viciously and in my nervous state I drop my books on to the ground. As I bend down to retrieve them somebody else goes to help me at the same time and we bump our heads. In alarm I look up and see a good looking guy kneeling before me. He has twinkling blue eyes and a kind face. His hair is a sandy colour and is the typical buzz cut that most of the Jocks prefer. Even from this position I can see that he is extremely fit. Smiling at me he hands me my book and helps me to my feet.

Blushing I say, “Oh, thank you. I’m sorry if I hurt you.” He laughs and rubs his head. “Don’t worry about it; I am just glad to be of service.” Grinning at me he holds out his hand and as I shake it he says, “Hi, my name is Easton, you’re Grace right?” Smiling nervously I nod and he smiles. “I’ve seen you around. You’re Gabe’s cousin aren’t you?” I nod at him shyly. “I’m sorry, I don’t think that I’ve seen you before.”

He pretends that I have wounded him. “And there I was thinking that you were dreaming about me in lessons.” He laughs good naturedly. “Anyway, just a thought but I was wondering if you wanted to grab a coffee with me after school? I’d like to get to know you and I promise to make you laugh.”

Feeling completely shocked I don’t really know what to say. He is looking at me with such a hopeful expression and seems like a really nice guy. Any other time I would have taken him up on his offer but my heart is taken and I know that none of this would go down well if Ash found out.

Before I can answer Gabe comes around the corner with his arm around Piper and seeing us they come over. “Hey Easton, what’s happening?” Grinning ruefully Easton says, “I was just asking Grace is she fancied a drink with me later after school, and then you bulldozed in before she had a chance to reply.” Laughing Gabe slaps him on the back. “We’ll all go, how about that. You up for that Piper honey?” Slipping her hand in his she grins. “Of course I am. What about you Grace?” Before I can answer Gabe says loudly, “Of course she is; we’ll have fun. Right then girls we’ll meet you by the entrance after school.”

Easton smiles sweetly at me and then goes off with Gabe leaving me shell shocked. Piper grins at me. “He’s gorgeous. He’s on the team with Gabe and is a real catch. Look at us, two invisibles with two of the hottest guys in school. I knew that this was going to be a good year.”

Feeling extremely worried I say quickly. “They never gave me a chance. I can’t go on a date with him, please Piper you’ve got to help me.” She shoves me playfully. “Oh no, you’re not getting out of it that easily. You’ve got to conquer your fear of boys some time Grace and it may as well be with him.” The bell rings and she pulls me off to class.

I spend the rest of the day trying to think of how I can get out of the coffee date. Maybe if I pretend to be ill I will be sent home. I certainly feel ill at the thought of what might happen.

By the end of the day my nerves are frayed.

Piper grabs me by the lockers and marches me to the entrance and my heart sinks when I see Easton and Gabe waiting. Looking around quickly I am grateful that there doesn’t appear to be any of Ash and his gang around at least.

As we draw near I try to get out of it saying, “I’m sorry Gabe but I don’t feel well. Maybe we can do this another time.” Gabe grins knowingly. Leaning towards me he whispers, “You’re not getting out of this Grace. Easton is a good guy and you deserve some fun. You work all the time and go to school. It’s about time you found out what school life is really all about. Don’t worry though; I won’t let anything happen to you, that’s why I’m here.”

Resigned to it I think that if we can just get this over with then no harm may be done. My knees trembling I follow Gabe to his car and climb into the back beside Piper. Sinking down into my seat I just pray that nobody saw us.

 

Chapter 19

 

We drive to a coffee shop on the other side of town. I am thankful as it would have been more awkward to have gone to Violet’s. At least this way with any luck no one will see us.

We all take a seat near the back as it is quite busy.

Looking around me I can see that there are quite a few kids from Freyview High and realise that this must be where they hang out. Leaning over to Gabe I say quietly. “Is this such a good idea? I mean after the trouble at the game we may become targets.”

Gabe looks unconcerned. “No we’ll be fine. We come here a lot and most of the kids are cool. The rougher ones don’t come here and go to another place a way from here.”

He then turns to Piper and they start kissing, which is so embarrassing. Easton grins at me and says softly, “Sorry Grace. You’ve been put on the spot a bit here haven’t you?” I smile at him. “Oh it’s fine. Anyway tell me about yourself Easton; Gabe says you are on the team with him.”

He laughs good naturedly. “Yes for my sins. I enjoy it and I’m hoping that I can continue when I go to College next year.” Realising that he is in the year above me, it makes sense that our paths haven’t crossed before.

“Anyway Grace, tell me about you. Gabe tells me that you are staying with him and his mom. Don’t you have a family of your own?” Feeling awkward I can feel my face flush. Grabbing hold of my hand Easton looks worried saying, “I’m sorry Grace, I didn’t mean that to come out the way it did. You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”

I pull my hand quickly away. “Its ok, no worries.” Suddenly I see him tense up and follow his gaze. My heart sinks as I see Ash and Jacob glowering at us from across the room. I never saw them come in and my face must register my surprise. I catch Ash’s eye and he looks at me angrily.

Gabe looks around as if sensing something and frowns. “What are they doing here? I’ve never known them to come here before.” Piper looks at me a worried expression on her face. Then some other kids from Freyview come in and I see some girls watching Ash and Jacob with interest.

Obviously not sensing the drama they saunter over to them flicking their hair over their shoulders and hitching up their skirts. I see one of the girls go up to Ash and look at him suggestively and I hear her say, “Well well, you certainly don’t come here often or I would know about it. How about buying a couple of girls a coffee hot stuff, you never know what your reward will be.”

I watch in horror as they then slide into the seats next to Ash and Jacob effectively trapping them. Seizing my chance I say to the others, “Look I really need to use the restroom. Do you mind?” They don’t seem to think anything of my request and I race off as fast as I can.

Reaching the sanctuary of the ladies I sink back against the wall. This is not good. Wondering how on earth I am going to get out of here without Gabe or anyone else suspecting anything my mind goes into overdrive. Splashing some water on to my face to cool it down I leave the rest room intending to tell the others that I feel sick and need to leave. Before I even close the door a hand reaches out, grabbing me and pulling around the corner out of sight.

I see Ash standing there looking at me angrily. My knees feel weak because despite the threat I love him so much and want nothing more than to kiss him and never stop. Looking at me his eyes turn as black as can be and he hisses, “What is going on Grace. Why are you here with him?”

Looking up at him fearfully I say, “I couldn’t get out of it. I tried to say no but Gabe made me come with them. There’s nothing in it though, I promise you.” Relaxing slightly he takes me in his arms. Burying his face in my hair he breathes in deeply. “I can’t stand this, its torture for me. I have never been in this situation before. I want the world to know you are mine and the thought of anyone else touching you makes me want to kill them.”

Feeling extremely worried I know that it’s not just a figure of speech with him. Pulling back he kisses me gently. “Meet me later Grace, usual place. I’ve been going mad without you.” Lowering my eyes I hesitate and he lifts my face to his and I can see the worry mixed with uncertainty in his expression. “What is it Grace, tell me?” I sigh softly. “I don’t know Ash. I want to be with you more than I have ever wanted anything in my life, but I am scared.” Looking surprised he says, “Of me?” I nod my head sadly.

“I’ve heard things this week that makes me question whether or not I can really help you. You live in a different world to me and I don’t think I’m strong enough.”

I see the pain in his eyes and it breaks my heart. “I know Grace. Don’t think that I know what I am asking of you. The selfish part of me won’t give you up when I know that I should. You deserve better than me, don’t you think I don’t know that? Please hear me out though. Meet me later and I’ll try to explain.”

Holding him close I agree to meet him. I can’t help myself either. I know that I should keep away but I can’t.

Making my way back to the others I feign illness. Gabe jumps up in concern and I feel bad. Following them out I can see that Ash and Jacob have already left and the girls are looking extremely put out.

By the time we drop the others off I am feeling slightly better and feel bad about ruining the coffee date. Gabe drops me off and then heads back off with Piper to spend the evening at her house. I spend some time helping my Aunt with tea and then make my excuses saying that I’m going for a bike ride to clear my head.

 

The Town seems quiet as I cycle through it. Despite my reservations I feel excited to be meeting Ash again. The Ridge is the only place that we can be together and be ourselves. As the lights fall behind me I begin the climb up the side of the hill. By the time I reach the top I am tired but exhilarated. Taking a break I look out over Falcondell. Such as lot has happened since I came here. It feels like home to me now and the thought that I may have to leave one day fills me with dread. My thoughts turn back to Ash and a shiver runs through me. He is so dangerous but compelling. I already know that I can’t give him up and that thought terrifies me.

Chapter 20

 

As I reach the lake I can see that he is already here. As I approach he moves quickly towards me and pulls me to him almost crushing me in the process. Drawing back his eyes dance in the moonlight and he says softly, “Thank you for meeting me Grace. I was afraid that you would think better of it.”

I smile at him and raise my eyes up. “You afraid, that I can’t believe.” Grinning he pulls me down beside him. “Oh but I am Grace. I have always had everything I wanted in life until I met you. The fact that we have to act as strangers when we meet is destroying me. If it was up to me I would ignore everyone and crush anyone who came between us, but you are holding me back and I will go at your pace because I don’t want to lose you.”

He puts his arm around me and rubs his hand gently on my shoulder. I snuggle in to him and it feels so right, just sitting here together. Turning to face him he lowers his lips on to mine and kisses me so sweetly and gently that it brings tears to my eyes. Gone is the aggressive, snarling bad boy and in its place is just a kind, gentle soul with so much love to give.

Breaking away he says with a groan. “This is also torture for me. I want you so much but need to protect you from me at the same time.”

With a big sigh he says, “It sure is easier being bad.” Laughing I pull him up and pull him towards the lake. “Come on; let’s go for a swim to cool you down.” Following my lead he removes his clothes, leaving his underwear on to spare my blushes. I do the same and follow him as he jumps in. Catching hold of me he once again pulls me towards him and kisses me deeply and passionately. Never before have I had feelings of wanting somebody so badly.

Pulling away he looks at me gently and reaching up takes the locket in his hands. “You don’t need this here Grace. Let yourself be free, take it off.”

Reaching up I remove the locket whilst holding his eyes with mine. I see his expression change to one of wonder and awe as I feel the release from the prison. His eyes glitter and reaching up he runs his fingers through my hair. “You are so beautiful Grace. It is no wonder that you have to suppress it because it would send many a soul mad just to look at you.

Blushing I lower my eyes and reaching up he tilts my face up to his. “Never look down around me Grace. I love everything about you and will never hurt you, please believe me.” Nodding slowly I reach for his hand and pull him towards me. “Stop talking.” I say to his surprise and laughing he crushes me once again to him and it is all that I want.

Later on we sit overlooking the Ridge, the Town glittering below us. Ash has his arm around me and my head is on his shoulder. Speaking softly he says, “I want us to as close as this everywhere Grace. All of this pretence is killing me. The fact that I can’t be near you is destroying me inside. When I feel like that I want to cause mayhem and damage which then drives you away. I want to be everything you want and more but all I’m doing is being everything you despise.”

I shake my head sadly. “I know how hard this is for you, it is for me too. I just worry that if my Aunt and Gabe found out then they would have no choice but to tell my guardians and then I would be shipped straight out of here. Then I would lose you forever. Surely this is better than that?”

Angrily he replies, “Why would they do that, it doesn’t make sense. Don’t they want you to be happy?” Raising my eyes I say, “In case you hadn’t noticed you are their idea of my worst nightmare. We are opposites that attract. They will fear for me and only have my best interests at heart.”

He falls silent and I can tell that he is thinking about it. Interrupting his thoughts I say, “Anyway, my life would also be hell at school if Skylar and her friends have their way. It’s just better this way.”

Ash looks annoyed. “They are not a problem, one word from me and they wouldn’t dare cause any trouble. No the problem is with your side.” He pulls me up. “Say we’re ok Grace? When I saw you with that guy I nearly murdered him on the spot. He won’t give up and if I see him trying to get you to be his I will lose it.”

Stroking his hair I say gently, “I am not going on dates with anyone Ash. I was put on the spot and didn’t want to appear rude that’s all. It won’t happen again.”

Then a thought strikes me. “How did you know where I was anyway. I mean not just at the coffee shop but also at the Game. I heard that you never go to the football, why were you there?”

I can see his eyes flash in the darkness and he smiles wickedly. “You’re not the only one with magic Grace.” Reaching over he holds the silver heart that he gave me in his hand. “I gave you my heart and everything that goes with it. I can feel when you are sad, happy and excited. I just have to close my eyes and I see where you are. You see you can’t escape from me Grace, it’s what I do and who I am.”

I look at him in surprise. “That would explain a lot.” I joke, but inside I realise that this is part of who he is. He likes to know everything and as he said, knowledge is power. I just hope that I can get him to use it wisely, for good and not evil, although given who he is I know that I will have my work cut out with that one.

Despite neither of us wanting to leave the other we both head off to our respective homes. As I cycle back I wonder what his home life is like. Having seen his uncle I don’t think its all milk and cookies and I realise that it’s no wonder he is like he is with his uncle and father as role models. Like me he is a product of our peers and we are governed by them.

 

When I get home I am glad to sink straight into bed. At least it’s Saturday tomorrow and I can avoid school for a couple of days. I have a bad feeling that everything is going to go wrong.

 

Chapter 21

 

Walking up the steps to the library I am looking forward to the peace and quiet within its musty walls. The diner is always so busy and there is never enough time to think. The library on the other hand gives me lots of thinking time. I haven’t managed to get far with my shelf sorting. One morning a week just isn’t enough.

As I get inside I see Mr Watson sitting at his desk and my heart sinks as I take in his dishevelled and unkempt appearance. He smiles sweetly as he sees me coming. “Oh hi Grace. It’s good of you to spare me your valuable time every week.” Looking at him I can see that he is tired again, judging by the large black circles under his eyes. I wonder what is happening in his life at the moment that is obviously causing him to be so tired.

“Hi Mr Watson, would you like me to grab you a coffee before I make a start?” Shaking his head he jumps up. “No, let me for once Grace. It’s the least I can do for you after you give up your time to help me.”

Smiling warmly at me he shuffles off to the coffee shop across the street. As I watch him go I feel worried about him. I decide that the best way that I can help him is by sorting out the shelves so I begin my laborious task.

No sooner than I have started I feel somebody approaching me from behind and an arm snakes around my waist pulling me back into a hard toned body. Whispering in my ear he says, “Morning little Tess. Did you miss me?” Enjoying the feeling of him against me I say quietly, “Of course I did.” I can feel his lips kissing feather light kisses on my neck and I feel my legs turn to jelly.

He spins me around and lifting my face up to his kisses me so sweetly and gently that I forget where we are. After some time he pulls away and grins wickedly. “I love making out with you in the library little Tess. No one but us ever comes here so it is all ours.” Returning his grin I say, “And Mr Watson of course.”

As if on cue the door opens and I see Mr Watson come in balancing the coffee cups as he tries to negotiate the door. Ash looks annoyed at the interruption and I see Mr Watson visibly pale as he sees who is here.

Racing over to him I take the coffee from him. “Thank you Mr Watson. I have made a start on the cookery section.” Looking distracted he says quietly, “Thank you dear, you are very good to me.” Ash snorts loudly. “You got lucky when Grace came to town. Slave labour and all for a lousy cup of coffee.”

Mr Watson colours up and I shoot Ash a venomous look. Chuckling to himself Ash says, “Point me to where the maths books are in this chaotic place.” I show him where they are and give him a stern look whispering, “Don’t be so mean to Mr Watson. I’m really worried about him, something’s wrong I can tell.”

Ash just shrugs his shoulders and starts looking at the math’s books. Before I leave I turn back to him and say in a whisper, “Why do you come here every week Ash? It’s so out of character for you to study here.” Smirking he stares at me and his eyes flash dangerously. “Well aside from the fact that I can‘t keep away from the beautiful library assistant it is because knowledge is power little Tess. I fully intend on reading every book here and then I will know everything.”

He puts his feet up on the table and settles back in his chair. Raising my eyes I say, “You think you will know everything from books, well think again. It takes more than the written word to learn about life and the world. Books are fine but experience counts for much more.”

He grins at me wickedly. “And I can’t wait to experience it with you Grace. I would gladly burn all these books for one hour with you.” Blushing I quickly move away and I can hear him laughing as I go.

I decide to see if I can learn anything from Mr Watson about his problems and go over to his desk where he is sitting. He looks at me in surprise and I say quietly. “Is everything ok Mr Watson? I mean I hope that you don’t think I’m prying but if I can help out with anything you only have to ask.” I feel bad when I see his eyes fill up with tears. “You’re very kind my dear but I’m afraid there’s nothing that you can do.” Gently I try to probe further. “You don’t have to tell me but sometimes it helps to talk. I mean I know I’m just a kid but I promise I won’t say anything.”

He looks at me with a strange expression on his face. “You are a very special young lady that much I can tell. You need to be free of problems at your age and just enjoy life whilst you can.” Looking down he adds almost to himself, “Whilst you still have it.” I still can’t leave it and try again.

“Mr Watson, please tell me to mind my own business if you like but are you ill?” Looking up in surprise he laughs quietly. “No my dear, I only wish I was.” Shocked I say, “Why would you wish that?” He looks at me sadly. “Come with me Grace, I want to show you something, maybe then you will understand.”

Mystified I follow him to a room at the back of the library. Sneaking a look at Ash I see that he is engrossed in the book that he is reading and has his back to us. Mr Watson opens the door and turns on the light and I gasp in surprise as I see rows upon rows of canvases propped up against every wall and surface. There are some hanging up and as I walk around them I see that many are of a beautiful woman.

Looking at them in wonder I can tell that whoever painted these was very talented indeed. I look at him in astonishment. “Who did these, they are amazing?” Coughing nervously he looks at me with a far away look in his eyes.

“They are mine actually.” I look at him in surprise. “They are amazing, you are very talented. I never knew this side of you.” As I look further I wonder who the beautiful woman is in the paintings. “Who is this lady? She appears in most of them.” His face crumples and he looks haunted.

“That is Annabelle, my wife.” I look at him in shock. “Your wife! I never knew you were married Mr Watson.”

“Was married dear. Sadly Annabelle passed away two years ago and there is not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t miss her.”

I feel bad for him. I can see by the loving way that he has painted her that they must have loved each other very much. I can tell that she felt the same, given the way she was looking at him as he painted her. Softly I say, “I am sorry to hear that, what happened, if it’s not too bold to ask?” The look on his face is one of utter devastation. “She died of cancer. It was a long illness and I cared for her as much as I could. That is why the library fell apart. I didn’t have time to spend here and all of the money I earned went on her treatment and paying people to work here. Unfortunately I fell behind with everything and then when she died I was devastated. Nothing made sense anymore and it all seemed pointless. Soon I fell behind with my rent and now I owe much more than I will ever take here in a lifetime. You see the interest is building up day by day and I am afraid I can’t see a way out of it.”

I can’t help it and tears run down my cheeks. Seeing them Mr Watson says in alarm, “Oh please don’t cry dear, like I said before, you should be enjoying life whilst you can. I’ll be fine, something will come up I’m sure of it.”

Looking around me at the dusty room filled with paintings it strikes me that his life is locked up with them. He is obviously struggling and I worry how much longer he will be able to cope. I make up my mind that I will try and help him; I will find a way that much I am certain of.

Chapter 22

 

I leave Mr Watson in the room and go back to my task in the cookery section. As I try and organise the books I rack my brains trying to think of a way to help him. Looking up I see Ash leaning against the bookcase, looking at me thoughtfully. “What was that all about?” He says, waving his hand in Mr Watson’s direction.

I shake my head sadly. “Nothing, I’ll tell you later.” He shrugs but I can tell that he doesn’t like the fact that I haven’t told him.

Then a thought crosses my mind and I say quietly, “Ash, do you know who owns this building?” Looking annoyed he replies, “Yes I do, I’ll tell you later.” I can’t help it and I burst out laughing. He grins slowly and I say, “You are so childish, you know that don’t you?”

Grabbing hold of me he starts to tickle me. “You think I’m childish do you? Well I’ll show you childish.” I can’t stop laughing and try to get away but I can’t.

Suddenly I catch sight of the clock on the wall and pushing him away I say in alarm, “Look at the time. Gabe will be here waiting and I’ll be late for Violet’s if I don’t get a move on.” Ash looks annoyed. “I hate this Grace. I want to be the one to take you to work, not Gabe. I want us to be able to be together at all times and not just in secret.”

Pulling him close to me I say quietly, “Me too Ash, I want that more than anything but you know why. It’s what we have now or nothing and I know what I’d prefer.” Reaching up I pull his face towards me and kiss him gently. Groaning he pulls me towards him with more urgency and his kiss is one of desperation. I can feel the emotions within him and not for the first time worry about where this will all lead.

I can hear Mr Watson coming so quickly pull away. “I’m sorry Ash, I have to go. Will I see you later?” His face softens. “Of course. Same time same place?” Nodding, I reluctantly move away. He’s not the only one finding this hard.

 

Gabe looks at me as I climb into his car. “You’re cutting it fine aren’t you?” I raise my eyes. “Sorry I got involved in something and didn’t notice the time.”

As we drive off I think about Mr Watson and decide to ask Gabe about him. “Gabe, what’s the story with Mr Watson, do you know why he is struggling?” He sighs heavily. “His is not a happy story. He wasn’t always like this. Mr Watson was and still is a good guy. He was happily married to his wife Annabelle and made his living as an artist. The library was her thing and he used to help her run it whilst painting at the same time. They were very much in love and real pillars of the community. Then one day it all changed for them and she got sick. He tried to keep it all going and look after her at the same time. They didn’t have much medical so it was hard. Mom and her friends did all they could to help but he was drowning in every way. When she died we all thought that he’d give up and were worried for him. But he kept on going and just retreated into himself. He to my knowledge doesn’t paint anymore and just struggles to make ends meet. The trouble is because the library is now such a gloomy place to be nobody goes there much, so it just adds to his depression.”

I look at him thoughtfully. “Can’t we help him, I mean all of us. Surely if enough people give up their time to re organise it and clean it up then it would be a good start and we could make it a more welcoming place to go to.”

Grimly Gabe says, “In case you hadn’t noticed most people in this Town don’t want to get involved in anything. They just want to keep their heads down and get on with their lives with no trouble.”

Puzzled I wonder what that has to do with helping someone. “I don’t understand Gabe. Why would helping Mr Watson bring trouble on the Town?” Gabe looks at me angrily. “Because Mr Knight owns that Library as he does most things in this Town. The word is that Mr Watson owes him so much in back rent and interest on that property that it’s easy money for Mr Knight and if Mr Watson pays him up to date then he won’t get as much money from him each month. He likes people to owe him and be in debt to him, Mr Watson in particular.” Surprised I say, “Why Mr Watson. What’s he ever done to Mr Knight?”

Gabe says in a low voice. “Annabelle was very beautiful Grace and Mr Knight took a shine to her. He tried to make her his but she chose Mr Watson.” Seeing my expression he grins. “Mr Watson was once quite a catch. They all went to school together and Annabelle and Mr Watson made quite a striking couple. Jake Knight wanted her but she didn’t want him. He wasn’t used to not getting his own way and tried to change her mind. Apparently it was quite a struggle that Mr Watson won in the end. Mr Knight has never forgiven him and the fact that he is now in misery gives Mr Knight everything he wished for.” Sitting quietly I digest the information. One thing I do know though is I can’t let him suffer anymore; I will find a way to help him.

 

The afternoon flies by as usual. I have to push all thoughts of Mr Watson’s predicament out of my mind and just get on with things. Half way through the shift I am surprised to see Easton coming in with some of his friends who I recognise from the team. I am assigned their table and as I take their order he smiles at me.

“How are you Grace, I haven’t seen you around lately.” Returning his smile I say lightly, “Yes, I’ve been quite busy what with school, the library and this place. There never seems to be enough time.”

I see his eyes twinkling and think just how good looking he is. He is also a nice person and under different circumstances I would have enjoyed spending time with him.

Before I leave he reaches out and grabs hold of my arm. Pulling me closer he says, “Listen, there’s a party later at the Sullivan’s. Do you fancy going? I could pick you up, or meet you there if you’re already going with your friends.”

Feeling worried I look around me nervously, half expecting to see Ash charging towards him. Pulling carefully away I smile. “I might go but I am meeting up with friends tonight. Maybe we’ll see you there.” He gives me a half smile and I can tell that he’s disappointed. I expect that he is used to girls falling at his feet but I am not one of them.

Quickly I move away and wonder how on earth I’m going to deal with this. It seems that he won’t give up and without giving anything away I am not sure what I can do to put him off.

I manage to avoid conversation with him and feel his eyes watching me as I set about my work. Violet nudges me and smiles. “He’s quite a catch honey, is he your boyfriend?” I shake my head. “No, I don’t really have time for a boyfriend at the moment.”

She laughs and raises her eyes up. “Listen all work and no play makes Grace a dull girl. Why don’t you give yourself a break and go out with him. Let me tell you if I was in your shoes I wouldn’t think twice.”

As she goes off still laughing to herself I think, goodness if she knew the shoes I was wearing she would freak out, everyone would. She wouldn’t be encouraging me to date anyone then.

As they get up to leave Easton comes over and smiling at me looks me straight in the eye. “I hope to see you later Grace. I would like to get to know you better; I don’t know maybe take you out on a proper date. Think about it.”

I watch him go with a sinking feeling. That is one party I had better avoid.

Chapter 23

 

I walk home after my shift finishes. There is so much buzzing around in my mind and the walk will help to clear my head.

As I approach the house though I suddenly notice with alarm the unmistakeable sight of Ash’s motorbike parked in the drive. My heart thumping I race inside and as I reach the kitchen I look in horror at the sight before me.

Sitting at the table holding a mug of coffee is Ash and opposite him looking worried is Aunt Sarah. Seeing me they both look up and Ash grins lazily and Aunt Sarah looks at me with a worried expression.

Trying to find my voice I say weakly, “What’s going on is everything alright?” Clearing her throat Aunt Sarah looks nervously towards Ash. “Come and sit down honey, we all need to talk.” I throw Ash an anguished look and he winks at me reassuringly.

Aunt Sarah looks at us both. “Grace, Ash came to see me to ask for my permission to take you out.” Looking at them both in surprise I feel myself blushing and say weakly, “I’m sorry, what did you say?”

Laughing Ash almost looks as if he is enjoying this and Aunt Sarah carries on. “He has told me that you have been meeting up and want to date. He knows that this is a problem for you and has assured me that he only wants to look after and protect you. The trouble is Grace; you know what will happen when your Guardians find out. It’s not up to me, I can’t make that decision.”

Interrupting Ash looks at her with a soft expression. Reaching out he takes my hand gently in his. “Mrs Rivers I know who Grace is and all I want is to love and protect her.”

Aunt Sarah visibly pales as he carries on. “There is nothing to fear from me. I love her and just want to look after her. The best way that I can do that is for us to be together. I will protect her secret and nobody will ever know from me. I know that you consider me to be the worst possible person to know this but I can assure you that I am the best one for her. Nobody would dare go near her and I would make sure that she is looked after and loved and above all happy. I came to see you because I don’t want to sneak around anymore. Grace deserves better than that. I’m not being selfish; if I was then I wouldn’t have come here to ask your permission. If you say no then I would respect that. I know that I have taken a risk because you will have to tell Grace’s guardians, I know that and I wouldn’t ask you to keep anything from them. All I ask is that they meet me first, before making any decisions.”

Aunt Sarah relaxes slightly and as she looks at me I can see the worry in her eyes and I feel bad.

Sighing she looks at us. “Grace honey, I can tell that you want this more than you have probably wanted anything in your life before. I love you living here and look upon you as a daughter to me and a sister to Gabe. I also know that you need to have as normal a life as possible whilst you can. If it was up to me I would agree as I can see that he makes you happy, it’s in your eyes. The trouble is I am worried that I will lose you and I’m not ready for that yet. Have you really thought about the consequences of this, both of you?”

I am surprised to see how kind Ash is with my Aunt. Smiling sweetly at her he says softly. “Mrs Rivers, I have thought of nothing else since I first saw Grace. All my life I have got what I wanted. I just take what I want and to hell with the consequences. It has taken a lot for me to come here today because I realise that in doing so I could lose the very person who matters to me the most. I want to do the right thing for once and no more messing around. For all our sakes I just want the chance to work this all out for the benefit of everyone. This is too important to me to mess it up and all I want is for a chance to prove to you all that I am worthy of her.”

I see tears come into Aunt Sarah’s eyes as she looks at us. Despite the worry that I know she must be feeling I can tell that she understands. Looking anxiously between them I wonder what will happen next.

Standing up Aunt Sarah smiles at us both. “I too want what’s best for Grace. I know that it is not good for anyone if you have to sneak around. It is obvious that you care deeply for her but I am not sure that you really realise just how special she is. I want her to be happy but my first job is to protect her. For now you have my blessing but that may be short lived. I can’t take the risk and will need to contact her guardians. I will do my best to reassure them that she is safe, but I can’t guarantee what they will do.”

In surprise I watch as Ash moves over and unexpectedly gives her a hug. She is also surprised and laughing he says, “Thank you Mrs Rivers, that’s all I hoped for. You will see that I will look after Grace so well that the best place for her would be with me. I promise you that no harm will come to her.” Looking over at me he winks and smiles gently. “I love you Grace, I always will. From now on I am going to prove to you and everyone else in this Town that I am not the heartless beast that they think I am. If I don’t then I could lose you forever.”

Suddenly we are interrupted as Gabe flies into the room and looking angrily at us all says, “What the hell is going on here?” Ash laughs and Aunt Sarah winces at his choice of words.

She turns to face him. “It’s ok Gabe, there’s no need to worry. Ash has come to ask my permission to date Grace.” He looks at us all in disbelief. “You can’t seriously be thinking of letting that happen.” Still looking worried Aunt Sarah looks at him nervously. “Actually I am. For some reason it just seems right. However it is not my decision to make. I will contact Grace’s guardians and they will decide. In the meantime I am giving them the time together they crave, no matter how brief it might be. Grace needs to live her life Gabe and has to learn what that involves.”

Looking at us all in disbelief Gabe then storms out of the room angrily shouting at us as he goes. “You will regret this all of you. When Grace is gone we will all suffer the loss. I can’t believe you are all willing to take that chance.”

We jump as the door slams behind him and seeing my Aunt’s worried expression I smile at her reassuringly. “It’s ok, I can feel that it will be alright.” Moving over to her I hug her and she instantly relaxes. “I love you Aunt Sarah, thank you for this, I really mean that. Please don’t worry, Ash is not as bad as you think, I trust him with everything.” Her eyes swimming with tears my Aunt says, “I hope so Grace, for all our sakes.”

Chapter 24

 

Ash and I sit together on the porch side by side on the swinging seat. Holding my hand in his he says gently. “This is all I wanted Grace. To be able to spend time with you out in the open and not in the shadows. You are my girl and I want everyone to know that. No more hiding and we will deal with every obstacle as it comes.”

Seeing my worried expression he reaches up and traces the worry lines around my eyes. “Don’t worry little Tess. You and I are good together; nobody will want to mess with that.” I try to relax but my mind is buzzing with everything that has just happened. I wonder if it will all be as straight forward as he seems to think it will be.

Suddenly Ash jumps up. “Look I’m going to leave you to eat something and get changed.” I look at him in surprise. “Why, what’s happening?” Grinning he says, “I am taking my girlfriend to the party. We may as well have some fun whilst we still can and I am going to deal with the next barrier standing in our way.”

As I look at him with a puzzled expression he winks. “It’s time our friends knew about us. That way there will be no more worrying about Skylar and her bunch of losers and it will also send a message to all those other guys that are after you that you are taken.” I look at him in surprise. “What other guys?” His eyes flash angrily. “You obviously don’t know but I hear them talking. You are in demand more than you know. They all want to date you and it won’t be long before one of them plucks up the courage to ask. They won’t dare when they realise that you are already taken.” Thinking about Easton I know that he is right. I watch as he leaves and my thoughts turn to the evening ahead. I am not sure if I am ready for this.

 

Ash picks me up at around 9pm. It feels strange to be going out on an actual date and watching my Aunt look at us with a worried expression I try to contain the nerves that I am feeling. Gabe never came back and I know that she is worried.

Tucking myself behind Ash on his motorbike I wave at her as we speed off. Wrapping my arms around his body I savour the feel of him. I can feel him tense up underneath my touch and laugh to myself as I realise the effect I have on him.

As we draw near to the Sullivan’s place I see several other motorbikes parked outside. I can tell that they are Ash’s friends and my heart sinks.

Turning to face me Ash kisses me gently. Pulling back I see his eyes flashing in excitement. “Are you ready Grace?” I nod nervously and grabbing his hand I follow him inside.

 

The party is in full swing and I look around me with interest. The music is extremely loud and there are people milling around everywhere. As we enter the house I notice the stunned looks as people see us walking in together hand in hand. Most of the kids here are from our school and I can see the shock on their faces as they see us.

Ash squeezes my hand and walks through them all, acknowledging nobody and looking around him with the arrogance that follows him wherever he goes. I can see his friends grouped outside by the pool. They are laughing and joking loudly with each other and with a sinking feeling I see Skylar draped all over Jace. Teagan is sitting opposite them looking annoyed at something and I watch as they all turn to us in surprise.

Jacob comes towards us looking worried. Smiling gently at me he turns to Ash with a worried expression. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Ash looks at him angrily. “Grace is my girl and they have to deal with it. Nobody better get in my way otherwise they will regret it.”

Raising his eyes up Jacob steps to the side and Ash pulls me with him into the group. Grabbing a beer off the side he hands it to me and takes one for himself. Sitting down he pulls me beside him and just looks around him with a hooded expression.

Angrily Skylar walks over and stands in front of us. It all goes silent and her eyes flashing angrily she sneers. “Are you kidding me? You can’t seriously be telling me that you have ditched me for that.”

As she waves her hand towards me Ash grabs it and I see her wince in pain. In a menacing voice he says, “Her name is Grace and she is worth more than you will ever be or ever wish to be. Just you remember who you are talking to and if I ever hear one bad word said about her or if you try anything to hurt her then you will have me to deal with.”

He pushes her roughly away and she stumbles back in surprise. His friends all look amused, even Jace who I would have thought would have stood up for her. Teagan looks angry and hisses at Jacob. “Did you know about this?” Looking at her with a bored expression he says, “What’s it to you?” Angrily she shouts. “Skylar’s my friend. The least you could have done is tell me. I am your girlfriend after all.”

Jacob looks at her with a sneer. In a chilling voice he says, “Yes, about that Teagan. It would appear that I have no further use for you in that role. Consider your position terminated, effective immediately.”

Ash snorts beside me and the other guys laugh out loud. Teagan looks at him in shock and disbelief. “Jacob, no. You can’t mean that. I’m your girl, what are you saying?”

Raising his eyes up Jacob says, “God you’re so stupid. Let me spell it out for you. You are no longer my girlfriend so get lost. Is that clear enough?”

Bursting into tears Teagan races off closely followed by Skylar and their friends. The guys all laugh hysterically and I feel extremely shocked at the brutal way that they dealt with them. Ash squeezes my shoulder and leans in saying. “I’m sorry Angel. I forget that you’re not used to this. Don’t think badly of Jacob. He has wanted to do that ever since that night on the beach. All he wants is Cally and like us it has been eating up at them. I did this for them too. He will go and find her and they will be together like us. No hiding anymore, there’s no need. He had to do it that way. Those girls need to know that they can’t mess with us, it’s how we will protect you both.”

Shrinking back into my seat I feel out of my depth. This is a whole new world for me and I’m not sure that I will fit in.

Soon the party carries on around us and I notice that Jacob has left. Thinking of Cally I know that she will be as anxious as I am.

Soon I spot a familiar face and jumping up I race over to Piper who has arrived with Gabe. They both look warily at me and I say, “Please don’t judge me. I can’t do this without you two. Say we’re ok, please.”

Piper looks at me with a worried expression and Gabe hugs me tightly saying softly, “I’m always here for you Grace. It’s my job remember, the protector. Fat lot of good I am at it though.”

Laughing I pull away and look at Piper. She also hugs me and whispers. “I’ll always be here for you Grace, what are friends for. I am just worried for you that’s all.”

Feeling an arm snake around my waist I am pulled against Ash firmly. Piper’s eyes widen and he says, “Listen, we all want what’s best for Grace. You are her friends so now you are mine. You have nothing to fear. I will look after her better than anyone else possibly could. She is safe with me and so are you.”

Gabe nods and pulls Piper away with him to get a drink. Spinning me around Ash looks deeply into my eyes. “Now I am going to do what I have wanted to do ever since I took that book away from you that first day in the library.” Looking puzzled I say, “Do what?” He leans down and looks at me gently. “Let everyone know that you’re mine.”

He then reaches down and pulls me towards him. Tilting my face up he kisses me softly and gently with so much love that my knees go weak. Leaning against him he strokes my hair lovingly and I can feel that every set of eyes in the place are upon us. Then he takes my hand and leads me back over to his friends. Sitting down he pulls me on to his lap. Whispering he says, “I think they know now don’t you?” Snuggling into him I do feel safe and loved. I just hope that it won’t all be taken away from me because now that I have found it I never want to let it go.

 

Chapter 25

 

It must be an hour later when I spot a familiar face heading towards us looking just a little bit nervous. Jacob is holding on tightly to Cally’s hand as she looks around her fearfully. Jumping up I rush over to her and she relaxes as she sees me. Jacob grins and I pull her away from him and hug her.

Piper also sees her and rushes over and we group together looking at each other with wide eyes. Piper says, “Oh my God. I never thought I’d see this day happen in a million. You two have got some serious explaining to do.”

Cally grins at us. “Jacob turned up at mine and told me that he’d finished with Teagan. He wouldn’t take no for an answer and made me get ready and come here with him. He said that we didn’t need to hide anymore and that nobody would bother about us now that Ash and Grace were official.”

Blushing, I see the incredulous expressions on their faces as they look at me. Before I can answer I feel an arm pull me against a hard muscular frame and know at once who it is. I watch as Jacob grabs hold of Cally and in front of everybody kisses her and holds her tightly against him.

Piper laughs as she sees us both blushing. “You two had obviously better get used to this, I have a feeling that it won’t be long before word gets out and then you’ll have a lot more than me looking at you.”

Ash laughs. “Welcome to my world girls, you’d better start getting used to the attention, you’re no longer invisible shall we say.”

Just then Gabe comes over and I can feel Ash tense up as he grips my hand. Gabe nods at them both and pulls Piper against him. Turning to Ash and Jacob he says seriously. “Listen I just want to say that I am cool with this as long as you treat them right. If you don’t then we’ll have a problem and I don’t care who you are. Grace is like a sister to me and I love her as one. Cally is both her and Piper’s friend and so the same goes for her.”

I can feel Ash relax. “You don’t have to worry Gabe, we all want the same thing. No harm will come to the girls; you have mine and Jacob’s word on that. There is nobody better to look after them and we don’t have a problem with you.”

Gabe nods and whispers something to Piper. Nodding she looks at us apologetically. “Sorry guys, I’ll catch up with you both later.”

Watching her go I think about how quickly our lives have changed over such a short period of time.

Cally grins at me as Jacob pulls her away to get a drink. Leaning down Ash whispers. “Your cousin really does have nothing to worry about. Nobody could love you more than I do and if anyone dares to even upset you then I’ll sort them out. You know you’re safe don’t you Angel?”

Smiling at him I kiss him gently. “I know that Ash. Gabe just worries about me and you know why. I just hope that all of this isn’t too premature. As soon as my guardians find out they may not be as understanding.”

A shadow crosses his face. “All I ask is that they meet me first before making any decisions. If I lost you now then I don’t know what I’d do.” He pulls me tightly against him and I can feel his heart beating quickly in his chest. As I hold him to me I share his worry. This could just be the beginning of the end.

 

Cally and I sit with Ash and his gang and it feels so wrong and yet so right at the same time. They spend their time joking around and drinking. Lucian, Quade and Killian are different to the others and I find that I warm to them a lot more than I do Jace, who still intimidates me. I wonder what will happen between him and Skylar now.

Lucian is a quiet guy who just sits there taking it all in. I notice that he is always alert and looks around him constantly as though he is looking for something. Ash sees me looking at him and whispers, “Lucian has a nose for trouble. He is like an early warning system. He hears things and what’s the saying, oh yes, he’s silent but deadly.”

Seeing my eyes widen in alarm Ash laughs and pulls me on to his knee. Looking over I see that Cally is sitting on Jacob’s knee and she grins at me. I am glad that they are together. I like Jacob and he seems a decent guy, who obviously adores her. I realise that Ash seems to spend more time with him than anyone else and I am glad about that.

After a while I need the rest room and whisper to Ash that I won’t be long. His eyes narrow and he says, “I’ll come with you.” I laugh at him. “Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t come everywhere with me and especially not there. If it makes you feel any better though Cally can come.”

I shout over to her. “Cally, do you need to freshen up?” Jumping up she heads over and I laugh as I see Jacob frown. Shaking my head I wonder just what we have gotten into to. Ignoring the two of them I pull Cally along after me. We push our way through crowds of people, all having fun either chatting or making out. The music is extremely loud and we have to shout to be heard. As we get inside the house it is no different. Seeing some stairs we decide to head upstairs in search of the rest room. We grin at each other as we see that there are several couples all kissing on the stairs and in every corner. Pushing open a few of the doors to find the right room we are greeted with shouts of anger as we disturb couples making out in the bedrooms. By the time we find the right room we are both laughing hysterically.

As soon as we get inside Cally sinks down on to the floor and says laughing, “If you had told me all of this last week I would have thought you were mad.” Sitting beside her I nod in agreement. “Things have certainly changed. I’m worried though.” Suddenly looking serious Cally says, “So am I. What if Jacob and Ash can’t protect us from Teagan and Skylar? I mean we’ve taken their guys and they’re gonna be mad as hell.”

Silently I think that they are just but one of my worries. I may not even make it back to school if my Aunt makes that call. Pushing the unwelcome thought away I jump up. “Come on, let’s do we what came here for and then go and enjoy our new found happiness whilst we can. We’ll worry about the rest some other day.”

 

As we head back towards the group I see Easton chatting with a group of people. As I look at him he catches my eye and smiles at me with a worried expression. I smile at him reassuringly. He is a nice guy and I don’t want him to get involved in any of this. Hopefully he will keep away and find another girl to take out. Judging by the amount of them around him it won’t be long.

As we get outside I can see Ash and his friends all laughing together. A couple of girls have joined the group. One of them I recognise as a friend of Skylar’s. Her name is Paisley and I see that she is holding on to Killian. I also recognise her friend Indie, who is also part of Skylar’s group. She is a pretty girl with a gentle face. I always liked her despite the company she keeps and as we approach she smiles shyly at us. I notice that she is holding on to Quade’s hand and realise that they must be going out.

Seeing us coming Quade says, “Grace, you know Indie don’t you?” Nodding I smile warmly at her saying, “Hi Indie. Good to see you.” Looking nervously at Paisley she smiles and says a quiet, “Hi.” Paisley looks at me with interest but I can detect no animosity in her, just curiosity. Her eyes widen as Ash pulls me against him, dropping a light kiss on the top of my head. Turning to look at the girls he says, “Grace and Cally are one of us now. Tell Skylar and Teagan to keep away from them from now on. If I hear that they have threatened these girls in any way or anyone else for that matter then Jacob and I will show no mercy. Got it?”

The girls nod nervously and then Ash pulls me down next to him. Turning towards me he pulls me against him and kisses me so deeply and passionately that I think I am going to burst into flames. By the time we have come up for air I notice that we aren’t the only ones and look with amusement at the couples making out around me. Only Lucian and Jace are alone and are deep in conversation instead. I wonder if Jace will continue seeing Skylar. The thought of her in this group is not a pleasant one, but I know that they are together so it may not be as easy as I think.

 

Chapter 26

 

Ash dropped me off home around 1am. As I wake up the events of last night come flooding back. I have a warm feeling inside and finally know what it is like to be part of something, like an ordinary girl.

As I finger the locket around my neck I feel the heart that Ash gave me. It makes me feel close to him when he isn’t with me and I feel comforted by its presence.

The door opens and my Aunt comes into the room with a cup of coffee. Smiling gently she sits down on my bed saying, “Good night?” Grinning I gratefully take the drink. “The best, thank you Aunt Sarah.”

As she smiles at me I feel a sudden rush of love for her. Looking at her sitting there I wish with all my heart that I had always lived with her and Gabe in a normal family, doing normal things. Even though I love my guardians, life with them was certainly not what you would call normal.

Seeing my expression Aunt Sarah reaches over and smoothes my hair away from my eyes. “Don’t worry Grace. I am sure it will all be fine.” Lowering my eyes I say hesitantly. “Aunt Sarah, have you called them already?” I hear her sigh and she says, “I had to Grace.”

My voice trembling I look at her dreading what she will say next. “What did they say?” She looks down and instantly looks upset. “They will be here soon.” Seeing my alarmed expression she says, “Don’t worry, we always knew they would have to come. It doesn’t mean what you think it does. I am sure that we can convince them.” Jumping up she says brightly. “Anyway, get yourself dressed and call your friends to meet you for breakfast. I’m sure that you could do with talking over events at the party anyway and it will take your mind off things.”

Taking her advice I call Cally and Piper and arrange to meet them at Violet’s. By the time I get there they are already sitting inside and I laugh to myself as I take in their excited faces. Her eyes shining Cally says quietly, “I still can’t believe what happened last night can you?” I shake my head. “No I can’t. I’m dreading school though. I’m pretty sure that Skylar and Teagan will be out to get us now, I mean who wouldn’t when someone takes your boyfriend.”

Piper looks worried. “I hope not for both your sakes. They can be pretty mean and I would hate for you both to suffer the Jessica Parker treatment.”

Silently we all sit here pondering what might be. We order our breakfast and Cally says dreamily. “I’m meeting Jacob today. When he dropped me off last night we made plans to meet up later. He said that he was going to take me to his special place.”

Piper and I burst out laughing and Piper says, “I bet he is.” Cally grins and we all laugh. Turning to me Piper looks interested. “What about you Grace, are you seeing Ash today?” I shrug and shake my head. “I’m not sure. He didn’t mention anything when he dropped me off last night.”

Piper looks thoughtful and Cally says, “I don’t think he’s the type to make plans and go on dates. When he went out with Skylar I was always hearing her moan that he never called her or took her out.” Sighing I wonder what will happen with us. I have never had a boyfriend before so I don’t know how it all works.

My thoughts are interrupted as somebody slides into the booth next to me. In surprise I look up to see Ash grinning at me. Jacob slides in next to Cally and I watch as her face lights up.

“Hey girls, room for two more?” Ash says and then plants a kiss firmly on my lips.

Piper’s eyes widen and I blush as I can see that the whole of Violet’s is looking at us. Ash and Jacob laugh and Ash puts his arm around me and pulls me close to him. I can see Violet looking over at us with disapproval and I worry that she doesn’t approve of him.

Looking at me Ash frowns and whispers, “What’s the matter little Tess, something’s up I can tell.” In a low voice I tell him what‘s happening. “My Aunt told me that my Guardians are on their way. I’m just worried that they may be coming to take me back with them.” I see his eyes darken ominously and he suddenly looks angry. I can see Jacob look over at us with a worried expression and he raises his eyes to Ash who just shakes his head. Turning to me he says, “I’ll come back with you and we will face them together. We won’t let them take you without a fight.” Sighing I think to myself, that’s what I’m afraid of.

They order some breakfast and we chat about the party. Cally looks worried. “I’m dreading school tomorrow. Do you think that Skylar and Teagan will be out to get us?” Ash and Jacob grin at each other and Jacob says, “Don’t worry about them. There’s nothing they can do. I expect that they won’t be pleasant that’s for sure but they know better than to start anything with you girls, they’d have us to deal with if they did.” Piper looks at me and I notice that she isn’t convinced. Cally also looks subdued and I can only hope that I am still here to back them up if they need it.

When we finish I excuse myself as I want a quick word with Violet. I feel as if I should warn her that I might not be in tomorrow after school.

Leaving the others chatting I walk over to her. She looks at me steadily and gestures for me to follow her into the kitchen. Turning to face me she says, “I’m not sure that I approve of your choice of breakfast buddies.” Looking down I say, “That’s the least of my worries Violet.”

She looks at me with a concerned expression. “Why, what’s the matter? If it’s that Ash tell me and I’ll sort it out.” I shake my head sadly. “I may have to leave town. My guardians are on their way and may take me back with them.”

Violet looks puzzled. “What do you mean. Surely you still have to finish High school, why on earth would they disrupt that?” I wave my hand in Ash’s direction. “They’ve found out about him and it’s always been the same. Every time a guy shows an interest in me they ship me off somewhere else.” Violet looks amazed. “In this case I think they have a point, but isn’t that a bit too over protective. What are they some religious cult or something?”

Laughing I shake my head. “No, they’re actually really lovely people. It’s complicated but I just wanted to warn you in case I don’t come in tomorrow. You’ve been so good to me and I really appreciate it. I hope that I am just over reacting but just in case…” Violet frowns. “Listen Grace. I don’t want to lose you and I hope that things work out. However I must just warn you about Ash. If you do stay it will only be a matter of time before he causes you trouble. You’re a nice girl and deserve better. He’s bad news and you’re better off without him.” Seeing my expression she raises her eyes up saying, “Don’t be fooled by that drop dead gorgeous face and body. He may be charming you now but when he is bored he will move on. You by that time will have fallen head over heels for him and probably done things you shouldn’t have. Get out now whilst you still can. There are plenty of other good looking guys around here that would be only too pleased to be your guy. Give yourself a break and avoid him and his uncle at all costs. That’s all I’m saying. Trust me I know more than most what it’s like being involved with that family.”

Suddenly we are interrupted as the door opens and Ash is standing there looking annoyed. Violet says angrily, “Staff only, customers have to stay in the diner, it’s the rules.” Grinning wickedly Ash says, “Since when do I follow the rules Violet? Anyway I need to take my girl home now and it can’t wait.”

Noticing the surprise on my face he says, “Gabe just came in. You’re wanted at home.” Feeling the colour drain from my face I look at them both in desperation. Violet puts her arm around me. “Don’t worry Grace. I am sure it will be fine. I hope more than anything that I will see you here tomorrow as usual. If I don’t then it was meant to be, everything happens for a reason honey, it may not be obvious at first but everything becomes clear over time.”

Hugging her I take hold of Ash’s hand and follow him outside. I can see Gabe’s worried face and rushing over to me he whispers, “They’re here Grace. Do you want me to come with you for moral support?” Shaking my head I reach out and pull him to me and hug him tightly. I whisper, “If it doesn’t work out thanks for everything Gabe. I will miss you if I have to leave and I have enjoyed being part of your family.”

I can see the tears in his eyes and try to smile reassuringly. “Listen, don’t tell the others. Make an excuse for me and I’ll slip out with Ash. He is coming with me so I’ll be fine.” Looking worried Gabe says, “Are you sure that’s a good idea. I mean won’t he make the situation worse?” Shaking my head I say, “No, it needs to be done. Wish us luck Gabe.”

I follow Ash outside to his motorbike. We get on and he turns to face me a reflective look on his face. “Before we go Grace, tell me what I need to know. I want to know what to expect.”

I sigh heavily and proceed to tell him. “I have lived with them ever since I was five years old. They were assigned as my guardians after my mother left. They have been like parents to me but I was brought up to believe that I had a purpose in life and that I was special. I soon discovered that I had the power to heal. As I got older the power intensified. Soon it manifested itself in my appearance which is why I have to wear the locket. This suppresses it and I appear normal. Without it, as you know it dazzles people and seems to beguile them. All through school I have tried to fade into the background. Nobody must ever find out because if they do I would become an object of fascination. Every time people grew suspicious of me, we moved on. I was never allowed a boyfriend and had only limited friends.”

Ash looks at me thoughtfully saying, “What happened to bring you here?” I look down. “There was an accident at my last school and my friend was badly hurt. I couldn’t stop myself and saved her. What I haven’t mentioned is that if I heal someone I take on their pain. She was fine but I was in a coma for three weeks whilst my body dealt with it. We had to move due to questions from the doctors who couldn’t understand what was happening.”

Ash smiles at me gently. “Thank you Grace for trusting me. You know that I would never allow any harm to come to you don’t you?” Nodding I look down, Violet’s warning ringing in my ears. Lifting my chin up Ash stares into my eyes and I can see the dark glint in his as he looks at me.

“What is it, don’t you trust me?” Shrugging I say, “At the moment I do, of course, but what happens when you grow tired of me? I will become disposable to you then and you won’t care what happens.”

Ash’s eyes flash and he says angrily, “You’ve been listening to too much gossip. The fact is Grace I have never loved anyone before in my life. I don’t know how to and I have never wanted to before you. From the moment that I saw you in the library that day I knew you were mine. There is something between us that is touching me here.”

Lifting my hand he holds it to his heart. “The thought that I might lose you will destroy me. I will do anything, and I mean anything to stop that from happening. I won’t get tired of you, how could I, you are my destiny Grace, haven’t you realised that yet?” As I look into his eyes I see the torment in his soul, battling against the unfamiliar feelings that have been awoken. As I drown in his eyes I can see that there is a strong connection between us. Like me, he is special. We are poles apart but similar in many ways. Maybe he is my destiny, perhaps this was always meant to happen.

Chapter 27

 

As we pull up outside the house I feel more nervous than I have ever felt in my life before. Ash helps me off the bike and pulling me tightly against his chest he holds me firmly whispering, “I love you Grace. I have never ever said that to anyone in my life. I was waiting for you. Always remember that. I will fight for you with all that I have.”

Pulling him towards me I kiss him with everything that I have. I pour everything into the kiss to show him what he means to me. This may be our last one and I want him to know that I feel it too.

When I pull away I see the passion mixed with despair in his eyes. He says in an anguished voice, “I can’t lose you now that I have found you.” Grabbing hold of his hand I pull him towards the house. “Let’s just give it all we’ve got, ok?” Nodding grimly he follows me inside.

As we walk in we are met by my Aunt Sarah. Looking anxiously at us she says quietly, “They’re in the front room Grace, I hope that it goes well, I don’t want to lose you so soon.” Hugging her I whisper, “What do you think, I mean how do they seem?” Shrugging she says, “You know them, they give nothing away.”

Pulling back I look towards the door in front of me. My whole life may change when I go through it and I am not sure that I am ready. Ash looks at us and I can tell that he is taking it all in. Like me, my Guardians are not easy to read so he may have his work cut out trying to understand them.

Seeing me looking at him he smiles reassuringly. “Come on Grace, let’s just get this over with.” My Aunt looks at him with a worried expression. I can tell that she is scared in case he makes a scene. I know him better than that, or at least I hope that I do.

With a heavy sigh I push open the door. Despite my anxiety my heart lifts as I see the two people who have been like my parents for the last twelve years waiting for me.

As I enter the room I can feel the love radiating out from them and on seeing their outstretched arms I race over to hug them both.

Aria and John are my family and I couldn’t love them any more than I do. They have been all I have had for most of my life and I trust them both implicitly.

Pulling back Aria looks at me lovingly. “We’ve missed you so much Grace, let me look at you.” I can see the tears in both of their eyes as they look at me. They are the kindest people that I have ever met and my eyes fill with tears as I see them standing there. Despite the reason they came I am very happy to see them.

Aria looks past me and I can see her looking at Ash. To my surprise her eyes fill with tears as she sees him and I notice that John reaches out and gives her hand a squeeze. He too looks emotional and looking around at Ash I can see him studying them as if trying to place them in his mind.

Aria moves towards him and it looks as if Ash is battling with some sort of emotion himself. It is almost as if he has met them before but doesn’t know where from. As she moves towards him I look at John in surprise. He smiles and reaching for my hand, pulls me beside him. We watch as Aria stands before Ash saying softly, “Hello Ash. My name is Aria and this is John. We are very pleased to meet you.” Ash looks confused. “I’m sorry but do I know you? It’s just that I have a strong feeling that we’ve met before.”

Smiling sadly Aria nods her head. “It was many many years ago. I am surprised that you can remember that far back.” He looks puzzled. “How? I mean the memory is there but it is faded and I can’t see it.”

I feel John tense up beside me and look at him in surprise. He is watching the scene in front of us intently and looking back to them I watch in fascination as Aria reaches out and takes hold of Ash’s hands. She then says, “I will show you Ash, but I warn you, you will not like what you see and it may change everything. Are you ready for that?” Nodding Ash holds her hands as she lifts one of them and presses it to her heart. Staring at him she holds his gaze and I watch as suddenly the air in the room becomes charged with a huge burst of energy. There is so much power in the room and I can feel it swirling around us as I watch the scene in front of me.

I can’t take my eyes off them as I see a myriad of emotions pass across Ash’s face as he looks into her eyes. Whatever she is showing him is having a powerful effect and it is painful to watch. It seems like forever before she breaks away, watching him as he slumps down on to a nearby chair.

Putting his head in his hands he hides his face and I race over to him in concern. As I reach him I touch him and he jumps as though I have given him an electric shock. As he looks up I can see the torture in his eyes.

Looking at us all he says in a broken voice, “I never knew.” Smiling sadly Aria says, “You were never meant to find out. But now you do it is up to you how you deal with the information.”

Ash looks at me and I can tell that he is going through some powerful emotions. His eyes fill with tears as he looks at me and shaking his head he says almost to himself, “I’m sorry Grace, I’m not sure if I can.” In confusion I look between them all. “What do you mean, what is going on, can’t what?”

I feel Aria’s hand on my shoulder. “It’s up to Ash now Grace. He needs to deal with what I have shown him and make his decision based on it. He may need some time.”

Looking at us with an anguished expression I shudder as I can see the rising anger in his eyes. Suddenly the atmosphere becomes super charged and there is a different sort of energy in the room.

Aria pulls me back so that we are standing beside John facing Ash and we look at him as he battles with himself. The room gets extremely hot and I watch in alarm as I witness his inner struggle. I can feel anger all around us. It is almost as if I could reach out and touch it. The atmosphere becomes dark and oppressive and there is an air of uncertainty and desperation. In shock I look at my Guardians and can see that they are staring at Ash with intense concentration.

As I look at him I can tell that he is battling against whatever she has shown him and fear rises up within me. Almost as if he can sense it Ash’s eyes lock on to mine and I gasp as I see the intensity in his expression. Turning his back on us he moves to the door. Looking at my Guardians in confusion I am amazed to see tears running down Aria’s face. Ash hovers by the door, his hand on the handle. Suddenly I know that he is leaving and a huge feeling of desolation comes over me and I can feel my heart breaking. This is it, he is leaving me, whatever he has seen is too much and he can’t deal with it.

His hand freezes on the handle and I see him tense up. Turning around he looks straight at me and I can feel the tears running down my face. His face looks tortured and my breath catches in my throat. He tears his gaze from mine and looks at Aria and John in despair.

Suddenly he moves back across the room towards us. Reaching out for me he pulls me beside him, his touch sending shock waves through my body. It is as though he is on fire and I can feel the torment in his soul as he takes my hand.

Looking at Aria and John he says in a broken voice, “I’m sorry. I am who I am and I can’t change that. If I was a better person I would walk away, but I am not. I am too selfish to do that and that will be my downfall.”

Aria looks at him tears now pouring down her face. Gently she says, “You will find a way. There’s a part of her in you that will make you strong. You know the consequences though if you fail.”

Nodding Ash looks at her and to my surprise I see tears in his eyes.” Aria says with emotion, “You are very much like her you know. She loved you more than anything in the world and did what she had to do to protect you. Don’t judge her too harshly for what she did.”

Ash nods but he can’t speak. I look between them all in confusion. “What is happening here?” John smiles and says in his calming voice. “Ash will tell you everything when he is ready. For now we all need to keep you safe. Ash knows the consequences if he fails and has made the decision that he will try. We came here for that reason alone Grace. You can stay and finish your education but if you are discovered or in any danger we will come back and next time you will leave with us. You have until the end of your education when it will revert to being your decision. Then you will have free will and get to choose your own path.”

Aria comes over and takes both mine and Ash’s hands. She looks at us both with a kind and gentle look in her eyes. “We are here for you both and you can contact us at any time. I hope that it works out for you both, I really do.”

Bewildered I look at her and smiling gently she says, “Don’t worry Grace, just carry on as normal, whatever that is, and just enjoy the rest of High school. You are a good person and I know that you will make the right decisions.”

Pulling me towards her she hugs me tightly and whispers, “I love you Grace, stay strong and above all be happy.” John then joins us and says softly, “Come Aria, we had better leave them to it.” Pulling me towards him I feel instantly protected and enjoy the feeling of security that he always gives me.

He whispers, “I love you Grace. Remember that I am always here for you and watching out for you. Stay strong and be happy.”

Wiping her eyes Aria says, “Go on you two, leave us to sort things out with Sarah. You have a lot to talk about.”

As I look at Ash I am surprised to see that his expression is now softer and gentler. His eyes swimming with tears he moves towards Aria and hugs her gently. “Thank you,” he says emotionally. Nodding she pushes him away and John pulls her against him as though comforting her.

Looking at me Ash holds out his hand and says, “Come on Grace, we’ll leave them to it and I’ll try to explain everything.” As I take his hand I can feel the power emanating from him. It travels through my body and fills my soul. As I follow him from the room I wonder just what happened in there.

Chapter 28

 

As expected Ash takes me to the Ridge. As I sit behind him I can feel the battle within him as we speed faster and faster towards our destination. Something happened to him in that room and I just hope that he can tell me what is going on inside of him.

When we arrive for a moment he just sits looking out over the Town below. I stay silent, waiting for him to make the first move. This is for him to control and I will do everything that I can to help him.

After a while he gets off the bike and helps me off. Taking my hand he guides me over to the edge of the Ridge and pulls me down beside him. We can see the Town below us. It is as though we are on top of the world and nothing can reach us from here. Putting my head on his shoulder I wait for him to speak. As we sit here in silence I can feel the torment raging within him.

After some time he squeezes my hand and looks towards me and my heart clenches as I see the torment in his eyes. Speaking softly he tells me what he saw. “Aria showed me my past Grace. I never knew any of it and she was right it is difficult to deal with.”

Squeezing his hand back I say, “Can you tell me or is it too difficult.” He sighs heavily. “I have to Grace as what happened to me also relates to you in some way. If we are going to stand a chance you have to know the facts.” Feeling anxious I look at him and his eyes darken, drawing me inside him. He starts speaking in a low voice. “Aria and John went to school with my mother. She was beautiful, the most beautiful girl in the school. They were good people and had a happy life. Then my father came to town.”

His face tenses and he continues. “He was very much like me. The guys wanted to be in his gang and the girls in his bed. He took over the school and soon everything changed.

His story is my story Grace. History repeated itself with me. He was feared throughout the town. Nobody got in his way and he was ruthless. He had the blackest soul and showed no mercy. My mother on the other hand was very much like you. She was kind and caring and everyone liked her. Then my father decided that he wanted her. She was powerless against him. He well and truly swept her off her feet. He charmed her and then seduced her. They became a couple and I watched as she fell more and more under his spell.”

Suddenly he stops and looks at me, a tortured expression on his face. Reaching up I stroke his face and kiss him briefly on the lips. “Take your time Ash, its ok,” I say softly. Relaxing slightly he continues.

“She lost all of her friends and he kept her with him at all times. High school finished and she soon became pregnant with me. I could see that she was slowly being destroyed living with him. For such a good person to be around such evil began to take its toll. She became depressed and he didn’t care. There were many women and he flaunted them at her. He ruled the town much like my uncle does but in a far more sinister way. Your Guardians were always there for her but even they were powerless against him. When I was born I could see how happy that made her. She doted on me and devoted every waking hour to caring for me. My father on the other hand wanted me to grow up differently. He would enjoy making me do horrible things. It started off by encouraging me to be cruel to animals and other children. He delighted in seeing me do bad things and got angry when I showed weakness. If I cried he beat me until I stopped and rewarded me when I did something that pleased him. It was killing my mother. She couldn’t cope and it destroyed her.”

Breaking away Ash puts his head in his hands and I can feel the rage building inside of him. His memories are coming back and mixing with what Aria showed him and I can feel his pain. Taking a deep breath he continues.

“By the time I was five years old she couldn’t carry on. She went to him and did what he loved best, she made a deal with him. She was leaving him and despite the fact that it would break her heart she would leave me with him. She realised that he would never allow her to take me with her and she would be powerless against him. In return for keeping away from me he had to agree that I was to live with another family for my whole school life and only see him in the holidays. That way I might stand a chance at finding myself without his influence. She asked that I go to my Uncle Jake who was married at the time to a loving and kind woman. She wanted me to have a stable family life, whatever that was, and hoped that I would grow away from my father.”

Looking at me his face softens and he pulls me against him. “She did what she thought was best and tried to give me the best start that she could.” Softly I ask, “What happened to her Ash?” Angrily he says, “She couldn’t cope with what she did and ended her life. She took the easy way out Grace and left me to a life of torment with him.”

Standing up he walks away and stares out over the Town. Getting up I walk over to him and taking his hand in mine say, “Don’t judge her too harshly Ash. From what you have said there was no way that she could have come back for you. She made the deal in your best interests and probably saved you in the process. What I don’t understand though is how this relates to me.”

Turning to face me his eyes turn almost black and I can see the fire raging behind them. “Don’t you see Grace, this is history repeating itself. I want you more than anything I have ever wanted in my life. If I do as I want I will destroy you as he did my mother. I cannot change who I am it’s embedded in my soul. I will drive you away and you will be destroyed. I should have walked away from you but I couldn’t. Like I said I am selfish and want what’s best for me and damned anyone that gets in my way. I am bad news and you should run as far away from me as you can go.”

He pulls away and turns his back on me. I watch as he battles with his own emotions and I feel powerless to help him. Moving across to him I take his hand. “Come with me Ash.” In surprise he follows me and I take him to the lake. Reaching up I take the locket from around my neck and feel the immediate release that it gives me.

His eyes widen and he stares at me as though mesmerised. Removing my clothes I hold his gaze and then say softly. “Come into the water with me Ash. Take everything off and leave it behind you here. Leave those worries and memories behind on this rock and open your mind to the future instead.” I walk into the lake and gasp as I feel the cold water envelop me. Lying back I savour the feel of its soothing touch and close my eyes. I feel a splash beside me and know that he has joined me.

Reaching out I pull him against me and drawing his head down to meet mine I kiss him with my full power. I can feel it racing through his body, filling him completely, edging out the bad memories and pain and replacing it with love and hope. This is all I can do for him. By pouring my love into his soul I hope to cleanse it of his pain. This is what I can do for him. He may have seen the past today but he must also see the future.

After what seems like ages we pull apart and I relax as I see that some of the pain has left his eyes.

Taking my hands he says, “You don’t play fair Grace, it is I who am powerless against you.” Laughing I splash him with the water and soon we are engaged in a water fight, lightening the atmosphere and bringing us back to reality.

As we get out of the lake we lie side by side drying off in the sun. Leaning on my side I look lovingly at his beautiful face and say, “You are wrong about some things Ash.” Raising his eyes he says playfully, “Me wrong, you must have me confused with someone else because I am never wrong.”

I laugh. “You forget that you are only half bad. The other half of you is your mother and from what you told me she was a good person. She was also the strongest person I have ever heard of. She gave you hope when there was none. She sacrificed herself so that you would stand a chance of a better future. You cannot condemn her for that. The part of her that is in you will work alongside the part of your father that is also inside of you. Only time will tell which is the stronger. I want to help you Ash but even I recognise that this is going to be a difficult battle for you. I will be here for you though because I love you.”

I watch as millions of emotions pass across his face. Then he says sadly, “I love you too Grace. You are the first person that I have ever loved. I have to keep you safe and guard your secret. If I fail then they will come and take you away. Even I know that I will be powerless against them. Aria showed me what would happen if I fail you and that scares me more than anything else I saw.”

I look at him in alarm. “What did you see?” Sitting up he stares angrily around him. “I saw that if you left we would both be destroyed. Your heart would be broken and your soul damaged forever. I would be in torment and live out my life in anger. It is a huge risk that we are taking and you should know of the dangers involved.”

Sitting up I put my arm around his shoulders. “We only have one more year to worry about it. After that we will be 18 and have freedom of choice. Your father will have to let you go and so will my guardians. We can then make our own way without the fear of losing each other. Nobody will find out about my secret, we will make sure of that.”

Turning around Ash says angrily, “I will protect you with everything that I have Grace. Nobody will hurt you I promise you that.”

He then reaches over and kisses me with such love mixed with desperation. His kiss fills me with the anger and worry that is inside of him and as I feel it fill my body I battle with it, vowing to help him with everything in my power.

 

 

Chapter 29

We stay at the Ridge for most of the day. Hunger soon takes over and Ash takes us to Violet’s to eat.

As we walk inside she looks over and rushing towards me hugs me saying, “Oh thank goodness. I was worried that I wouldn’t see you again.” Pulling back she looks at Ash with a stern expression. “I don’t know how you did it but whatever you said to them obviously worked. Don’t think you can fool me though and I will be watching you and if you put a foot wrong with this girl then you will have me to answer to. I don’t care who your father or uncle is, understand?”

To my surprise Ash laughs and then reaching over hugs Violet to him. “Don’t worry Violet, there’s nobody that scares me more than you, I promise that I will behave myself.”

Looking completely flustered and now extremely red Violet punches him on the arm. “Yes well flattery won’t work with me either. Come on you two; let’s get you something to eat before you waste away.”

Ash pulls me into a booth next to him and we sit squashed together as we choose what to eat. We hold hands under the table and I enjoy the feeling of him close to me.

It’s not long before we are joined by Gabe and Piper. Looking anxiously at me Gabe says, “Is everything ok Grace?” Smiling I look at his worried face. “Couldn’t be better Gabe.” He visibly relaxes and then looks at Ash who is lounging beside me looking as if he hasn’t a care in the world.

Gabe says, “I’m watching you Ash. Don’t think I’m scared of you because I’m not. Do anything to hurt my cousin and I’ll be after you.” Piper’s eyes widen and she pales but Ash just laughs and putting his arm around me he looks at him saying, “Relax Gabe, we want the same thing. Nothing or nobody is going to hurt Grace and that includes me, ok?”

Nodding Gabe settles back and pulls Piper against him. As they decide what to order we are also joined by Cally and Jacob. Cally slides in next to Gabe and Jacob next to Ash who says, “Well isn’t this nice, all friends together.”

The others laugh but I can tell that Gabe and Piper are uncomfortable. I am sure that they will soon see that they aren’t all that bad so I don’t worry about it too much.

Jacob looks at us. “So what’s the plan this evening Ash?” Stretching out Ash says lazily. “Well it’s been one hell of a day so all I intend on doing is spending time with my girl and chilling out. That doesn’t include any of you so you’re off the hook.”

Jacob laughs and looks at Cally with a wicked expression. “Looks like I’ll have you all to myself then baby.” Cally blushes and Ash laughs at her expression. “Looks like you’re in for one hell of a night little lady.”

Cally blushes again and I nudge Ash. “Stop it Ash, you’re embarrassing her.” I say pretending to be annoyed. Everyone laughs and we are interrupted by the food arriving.

By the time we have finished we have all relaxed around each other and have a good time getting to know one another. One by one everyone drifts away and Ash says, “Come on Angel, I’ll get you off home. Maybe your Aunt will be kind enough to let me stay for a while and then I’ll let you get some sleep. Like I said before, it’s been a hellava day.”

When we get home Aunt Sarah is pleased to see us and fusses around making us drinks. We sit in the kitchen watching her and I am glad to see that she appears to have relaxed a little around Ash.

Looking thoughtful she says, “Listen you two, I am glad that things have worked out, but you must remember that it will only last if Grace’s secret is kept. Hopefully you will just enjoy being normal for a while and have fun, God knows you both need it and I could do without the worry.”

Ash laughs. “Don’t worry Mrs Rivers, Grace is safe with me. You will all soon realise that I am not as bad as you think.” Smiling my Aunt says, “Call me Sarah dear, and I hope so for all our sakes. Anyway, I have to love you and leave you because I promised Annie that I would help her with something. Be good you two and I’ll see you later.”

As she leaves Ash pulls me towards him and grins wickedly. “I wonder what she meant by being good. Not something I usually associate with me, that’s for sure.” Laughing I raise my eyes up. “I don’t believe you Ash. I think you are not as bad as you have people believe.” Touching my lips with his he says, “Hush, somebody may hear you. I have a reputation to protect remember.” Then he kisses me and everything else is forgotten.

Chapter 30

 

Ash comes to collect me for school the next morning. As I see him waiting outside on his motorbike I still can’t quite believe how things have worked out.

Saying goodbye to my Aunt I race over to him and he smiles happily at me. “Morning Angel, did you sleep well?” Settling behind him I wrap my arms around his waist and enjoy the feeling of him close to me. “Like a log, how about you?” “Same, although I wished you were with me, this is going to be an extremely frustrating relationship if you know what I mean.”

My face burns and I bury it in his back. I can hear him laugh as he starts up the engine. I know that it will just be a matter of time before we move on to the next stage in our relationship and I feel the heat tear through me at the thought of it.

It feels good to arrive at school with him. As we pull up I can see the rest of his gang waiting. Laughing to myself I see Cally draped all over Jacob. There is no sign of Skylar or Teagan which I am glad about. I know that I will have to see them and I am not looking forward to the inevitable confrontation.

As we reach them several of Ash’s friends call out to him and high five him as he passes. Holding tightly on to my hand he pulls me with him and we are soon surrounded.

I can see Killian with his arm around Paisley and she nods at me nervously and then looks away. Indie is hand in hand with Quade who winks at me. I smile at Indie who smiles shyly and then lowers her eyes. Of all of them I think that I will get on with her the most.

Looking at Cally I can see the excitement blazing in her eyes. Jacob has his arm around her and she is looking up at him adoringly, her cheeks flushed.

Seeing them Ash laughs and then grins at me. “What?” I say looking between them all. A wicked look on his face he leans down and whispers, “Looks like your friend had a good night.” Confused I look at her and then the truth dawns on me. Wide eyed I say, “You’re kidding, what Cally and Jacob?” Nodding he pulls me against him and laughs burying his face in my hair whispering, “Don’t worry little Tess, you’re safe from me for now.”

Feeling a shiver run through me I tense up. The trouble is I don’t want to be safe. I want him more than he realises, I know that he will hold back though given what he saw yesterday. Like he said, this is going be one frustrating relationship.

As we get our books from our lockers I see Cally staring dreamily into space. Piper is looking at her in confusion and catching her eye I nod in Jacob’s direction and raise my eyes. In shock Piper looks between them and the realisation hits her like a freight train.

Her eyes widen and there is disbelief on her face. We watch as Cally shuts her locker and Jacob slides his arm around her waist. He pulls her to him and kisses her lingeringly. Just as he does though Skylar and Teagan come around the corner and I watch in horror as Teagan’s face crumples and Skylar looks daggers at them. Hissing she says to Jacob, “Haven’t you got any feelings, can’t you stop flaunting your new bed buddy at Teagan. She loved you you know and you couldn’t give a damn about her. You’re disgusting.”

Jacob turns towards them his eyes glittering and Cally shrinks behind him, worry on her face. In an ominous voice he says, “Mind your own business both of you. Just get used to the fact that I have moved on with someone much better. If you know what’s good for you you’ll leave us alone because if you even look at Cally then I’ll come for you and your friends, got it?” He looks at them menacingly and Skylar looks at him angrily. Jacob pulls Cally away with him and the two girls look after them with hatred contorting their faces.

Coming over to me Piper whispers, “Come on Grace. Let’s get out of here before they start on us.” Nodding we keep our heads down and go to move away. Before we can though I feel myself being pulled against a hard chest and leaning down Ash whispers, “Going somewhere gorgeous?”

Looking up I see amusement in his face and flicking a nervous look towards Skylar I can see that her attention has now shifted to us. My legs start trembling as I see the hatred in her face, but she says nothing and then looks away. Pulling me along with him Ash says, “She won’t try anything with you if she knows what’s good for her. Don’t ever let her intimidate you. You’re my girl now and I won’t have you walking around here trying to be invisible any more.”

Nodding I follow him but despite what he says I do feel worried. Skylar won’t let this go that much I do know.

 

My last class of the morning is with Cally and as the bell goes we quickly gather our things. I have been watching her and can see that her mind is somewhere else. As we walk to meet the others I link arms with her and say, “So what happened last night Cally, I can tell that something did, are you going to tell me?” Her cheeks flushing she looks at me and I can see that her eyes are shining. In a soft voice she says, “I had the best night of my life Grace. It was wonderful and everything I ever thought it would be. Jacob was so gentle and loving and I never knew it would be like that.”

Seeing my surprise she laughs saying, “I can’t believe that you haven’t.” “Haven’t what?” Piper suddenly says as she falls into step beside us. Looking at Cally she frowns and then says, “Oh no Cally, please say you didn’t.”

Looking suddenly annoyed Cally says irritably, “Didn’t do what Piper? Didn’t just spend the best night of my life with the love of my life. Well for your information I did and will do again just as soon as I can. You can keep your judgements to yourself because let me tell you it won’t be long before both of you join me.”

Shaking her head Piper says, “It’s only been five minutes and I for one don’t give myself up that easily.” Cally looks at her angrily. “Grow up Piper. We are all dating the hottest guys in school. These guys don’t hang around long if you don’t give them what they want. You’re both delusional if you think they will. Don’t judge me because I love Jacob and don’t intend on letting him get away now that I have him.”

Turning to me she says, “And you Grace, if anyone is going to join me it will be you. Ash isn’t the type to wait and I am just surprised that he has this long, or is there something you’re not telling us?”

Feeling worried at the sudden change in atmosphere between us I sigh heavily. They both look at me in surprise and I say softly, “No we haven’t but if he had asked I would have given myself willingly.”

They look at me with shocked expressions. Cally says, “What do you mean Grace, why on earth hasn’t he tried anything yet?” Shrugging I am spared from answering as we see the others in the distance. Piper lets out a deep breath saying, “Good on you Grace. If he loves you he’ll wait. Anyway I’m off to find Gabe. See you later.”

We watch as she goes and I feel sad that our little group is changing. Cally tosses her hair over her shoulder and says irritably. “She shouldn’t be so judgemental. It won’t be long before she is in my shoes and let’s see what she thinks then.”

I watch as she reaches Jacob and his eyes light up as he pulls her towards him. I know that it is right for them. They have loved each other for years already and I am just glad that they have finally sorted it out.

Moving over to Ash he pulls me to him and kisses me lightly on the lips. “Hmm, lunch time. All I need is right here.” As I kiss him I wonder just how long he can wait. I know that the battle will be with himself as he will want to prove that he is not his father and history will not repeat itself. It worries me though, all of this is against everything that he has ever done in life and I wonder how he will cope.

 

Chapter 31

 

The day passes by uneventfully and by the end of it I will be glad to get away. I have a shift at Violet’s which I am looking forward to. By the time I reach my locker I am surprised to find that I am the only one there. Then I remember that Ash and Jacob have lessons on the other side of school and Cally and Piper have hockey practice.

As I rummage around in my locker I am suddenly aware of somebody behind me and as I spin around I feel fear creeping through me as I see Skylar standing inches from my face looking angrily at me.

Nervously I see Teagan watching from down the hall obviously acting as a lookout.

Skylar hisses at me “Don’t think that you have got away with this because you haven’t. Nobody takes Ash from me and certainly not a nerd like you. He may be having his fun with you now but it won’t last. He will soon get bored with you. A man like him has certain needs that only I can give him. Once he has had you he will get bored and come back to me. Then I will have my fun.”

Reaching up she grabs hold of my hair saying darkly, “I will look forward to seeing this on the ground, covered in your blood before I cut it off and stuff it down your throat.” My heart is thumping and I can feel the fear rising in me as I know that she is capable of so much. Before I can even think though I watch as her face suddenly contorts in pain and her head snaps back as somebody drags her away by her hair. In shock I see that it is Jace and watch as he slams her against the locker angrily.

Shock registers on her face as she sees who it is and he leans in towards her, his face centimetres from hers as his eyes flash and his lip curls. In an ominous voice he says, “Stay away from her Skylar. You have been warned and if you don’t want to feel the full force of his anger then you will keep away.” Wincing as he twists her head she says angrily, “Get off me Jace. You’re supposed to me my boyfriend, what the hell is going on?”

Pushing her back against the locker he snarls. “Your boyfriend, that’s a joke. I only did what I was asked to do and that was to keep you away from him. I never wanted you, you’re easy trash and I just used you for fun. Girls like you will never learn. You’re not girlfriend material you’re just an easy lay.”

Shocked I see her face crumple and she looks defeated. Pushing past him she races off closely followed by Teagan. Suddenly I see Killian beside Jace and he looks at me with a worried expression. “Are you ok Grace?” Nodding I smile at him weakly. He bends down and picks up my bag that I must have dropped and says nervously, “It might be better if you kept that to yourself. You don’t want to see him when he’s angry.”

Before I can reply we hear a chilling voice say, “Keep what to yourself Killian, care to explain?” Watching I see Killian pale and looking past him I see Ash and Jacob standing there both looking ominous. Turning to face them Killian looks resigned. Ash’s eyes flash dangerously and I can see a nervous look pass over Jacob’s face. Ash is looking hard at Killian and I can see that Jace just looks interested.

Killian says, “Skylar was having a word with Grace and Jace interrupted her. It’s all good now though. He put her in her place so she shouldn’t try anything again.”

Ash looks at him angrily. “And you were going to keep it from me were you?” Killian looks worried. “I’m sorry Ash. I knew you’d be angry and as it was dealt with I just thought that it would avoid more trouble.”

Ash moves across until he is standing right in front of Killian, his face angrier than I have ever seen it. Jacob looks worried and I fear for Killian who was only being kind. Feeling as though I must intervene I say weakly, “Please Ash, just take me to Violet’s. I’m going to be late and I’m not feeling so good.”

Instantly he tears his gaze away from Killian and looks towards me. He sees the worry in my face and then with another angry look at Killian he moves over taking my hand gently. “Come on Angel; let’s get you out of here.” Turning back to Killian he says darkly, “I’ll deal with you later.” Killian pales again and I can tell that he is extremely worried. As I follow Ash I say quietly, “Please don’t do anything to him. He was only helping me and was just being kind.” Angrily Ash swings me around to face him and I can see the torment in his eyes. “I don’t like secrets Grace, especially when it concerns you. Killian knows this. I don’t want anything kept from me, ever. How can I protect you if I don’t know? No Killian has crossed the line and needs to suffer the consequences.”

I snatch my hand away angrily. “Not because of me Ash. If you hurt him because of me then we are finished. I can’t be responsible for someone getting hurt in my name.”

To my surprise Ash laughs and his face lights up. As I look at him in confusion he says, “Well well, who’s angry now. Threatening me little Tess, well what am I going to do about that.” Laughing he crushes me to him and kisses me passionately. Pulling away he says, “Don’t worry Angel I’ll go easy on him. I don’t want to upset my girl do I?”

Feeling relieved I grin at him. Grabbing hold of my hand he says, “Come on, get to work woman. You’re such a trouble maker.” Despite myself I laugh. He is so surprising. His moods can switch like a light switch. I am just grateful that he is no longer angry.

 

Violet’s is busy as usual and the time soon passes. Ash is picking me up when my shift finishes and I am looking forward to seeing him. Now I have everything that I ever wanted. A loving home, friends, a good job and a boyfriend who I adore and adores me. Life couldn’t get much better than this.

By the time we finish Ash is waiting outside on his motorbike. As I climb on behind him he turns and kisses me so deeply it makes my toes curl. His eyes flashing he says, “Do you have to go straight home little Tess?” Feeling a sudden excitement I shake my head and lick my lips nervously. His eyes turn almost black and I can’t look away. Softly he says, “Come on, let’s go to the Ridge. I want to be alone with you.” As we speed off I feel the excitement growing within me. Maybe this is it. If it is then I will not say no, I think I want it more than him. If I’m honest I was so jealous of Cally today. Squeezing him more tightly I hope that it is tonight, I don’t want to wait any longer.

 

Chapter 32

 

Reaching the Ridge Ash parks the bike and lifting me off says huskily, “Come on let’s take a swim.” It is a warm evening and I can see the fireflies dancing in the moonlight. Reaching the lake Ash turns to me and leaning down kisses me gently and sweetly. Reaching down he lifts my top over my head and helps me out of my shorts. Running his fingers around my neck he unclasps the locket and lays it down on the nearby rock.

Stepping back he looks at me in wonder as I escape from my prison. Removing his own clothes he stands before me in just his underwear. His eyes glitter and he says huskily, “My beautiful Angel. I just wanted to look at you. Never before have I ever loved anyone or anything until you came into my life. I will do everything I can to keep you with me. I know that we are different and I hate the way I am, but I can’t change that. I will just have to learn to control it because I don’t want to drive you away.”

Reaching up I trace the outline of his face and his eyes darken drawing me in. I kiss him gently and then pull him against me, arching my body into his and running my fingers through his hair. Groaning in desperation he pulls back. “I am not my father Grace and I am not going to make the same mistakes. I want you more than I have ever wanted anyone but not yet. Only once I have proved myself to us both can I allow that to happen. For now I will be happy to just be close to you and protect you.”

Raising my eyes to his I allow the love to pour out from them. He gasps as he feels the full force of it and I say huskily. “You may want to wait Ash, but I don’t. I have never been more certain of anything before and it would be on my terms not yours.”

Groaning he takes hold of my hands. “Then I will have to be strong for us both. I didn’t bring you here to seduce you Grace. I just wanted to be close to you in our special place. Come on let’s have a swim. I need to cool off before I let both of us down.

Lifting me up he then proceeds to jump into the lake with me in his arms. Squealing I feel the icy cold water hit my body and then we are under the water and he kisses me, pulling me tightly against him as we surface. Smoothing my hair back from my face he grins. “You’re a temptress Grace, using your power against me. It won’t work though.”

Running my hands down the front of his chest I whisper, “Are you sure about that?” My hands move lower and he grabs hold of them and twists them around my back, “Naughty girl, I have been warned about girls like you, only after one thing.” Laughing I push him away and swimming away call out, “I’ll get you in the end, just you see if I don’t.” Laughing he chases after me and we spend the next half an hour just playing around in the lake and cooling off.

 

Drying off together I lay with my head on his chest, his arm holding me against him. All I can hear is the sounds of nature and his heart beating in his chest. I breathe in his scent and snuggle closer to him. Closing my eyes I drift off to sleep, happier here with him than I have ever been.

It feels like ages later that I feel him gently shaking me awake. “Come on Angel, I’m taking you home before your Aunt sends Gabe out looking for us.”

Bleary eyed I scramble to my feet and he laughs as he sees my dishevelled appearance. Helping me with my clothes he then fastens the locket around my neck. I feel myself being drawn in and he sighs heavily.

“You are still the most beautiful girl that I have ever seen, even in your makeshift prison. I just pray that nobody ever finds out your true beauty. I would have my work cut out keeping you safe then.”

Arching my eyebrows I say, “You pray huh.” Laughing he says, “Wrong choice of words. You make me say and do things that go against who I am. Like I said before, you are a temptress, sent to bring me down.”

As I look at him standing there I think that he is the most beautiful man that I have ever laid eyes on. Reaching over I touch his face gently. “I love you Ash. You are not like your father. Remember you also have your mother in you. There is a side of you that is good and kind and loving. Let me bring out that side of you, the side that has been kept hidden until now.”

Grabbing hold of my hand he kisses my fingers gently. “Only with you Grace. Only you see that side of me, because only you bring it out.” Pulling me after him he says playfully, “Anyway, I’m taking you home before my inner bad boy comes out and everything I have said tonight gets forgotten.” As I follow him I sort of wish that his inner bad boy did make an appearance. I am more frustrated than he is.

 

Luckily the week passes by without any drama. By the time the bell rings on Friday I feel well and truly ready for the weekend. As I put my books into my locker I glance over and stare in total shock as I see Killian at his locker. I haven’t seen him for a few days and my heart freezes as I take in the sight of an enormous black eye dominating his face. He sees me looking and just smiles and looks away.

Cally sees my face and coming over says, “I can see that you’ve seen what Ash did to Killian. It was all over the school at lunch. They must have had a fight because I heard that Ash punched him over an argument.” Feeling sick I look over at him as he walks away. Then I see Ash and Jacob sauntering down the hallway like they don’t have a care in the world. Coming over to us Jacob pulls Cally towards him and Ash grabs hold of me.

Pushing him away angrily I nod in Killian’s direction. Following my gaze he laughs and holds up his hands. “What?” Angrily I say, “You promised that you would go easy on him.” Grinning wickedly he says, “I did.”

Gathering my bag I stomp off down the hall. I can hear him laughing as he runs to catch up with me. Pulling me around he looks at me with a worried expression. “Don’t be angry little Tess. Killian and I are good. He knew that I went easy on him. I promised that I would and I did.”

I pull away from him. “Well if that’s going easy on someone then I dread to think what you are capable of.” His eyes flash and he says darkly, “We both know what I am capable of Grace. Like I said before, I can’t change who I am, I just have to learn to control it.” Staring at him angrily I say, “Well you can deal with it on your own tonight. I am going to work and Gabe can take me. I’ll see you around.”

Grinning he says, “Gabe has football practice. Come on I’ll take you and then leave you alone. I’ll pick you up later though as I can’t have my girl out on her own at night. You can stay angry with me Grace but I am still going to look after you whether you like it or not.”

 

Stomping off down the hallway I accept my fate. I am not going to make it easy for him that much is certain.

Chapter 33

Ash drops me off to Violet’s and I don’t look back. He has made me so angry. How on earth does he think that it’s ok to treat his friends like that? Thank goodness I am working; at least it gives me some time away from him.

As if sensing my mood Violet keeps me busy. I catch her looking at me from time to time with a worried expression and before long she corners me in the kitchen. “What’s up Grace, is it Ash?” Sighing I lean back against the wall. “Sort of, but if I’m honest it’s more about how I am feeling.”

She puts her hand on mine and squeezes it gently. “Tell me honey, maybe I can help.” Raising my eyes I look at her concerned face and find myself telling her what I feel. “It’s just that he has no moral compass whatsoever. I mean he punched his friend today just because he asked me not to tell him something.”

Looking thoughtful she says, “And what was this thing that you shouldn’t tell him?” “His ex girlfriend sort of had a word with me and threatened me. Jace pulled her away and was awful to her, I mean it was brutal what he said and she just ran off. Killian told me that it was better if Ash didn’t find out. The trouble is I can’t get some of her words out of my mind and it worries me.”

Frowning Violet asks, “What words are they?” I sigh heavily. “She said that he would get bored with me and go back to her, that only she knew how to handle him and give him what he wants. The trouble is Violet she is probably right. Why is he bothering with me at all? I mean someone like him could have any girl he wanted. I think that she is right and he will soon get bored. I don’t belong with him and it is just a matter of time.” Violet snorts loudly. “Look in the mirror girl. There isn’t a girl here who is a patch on you. Ash isn’t stupid. He knows a good thing when he sees it and that my dear is you. Let me tell you something. I have known him a long time now, since he was a small child. I have never seen him look at anyone the way he looks at you. He worships you and you have absolutely nothing to worry about. He was right about his friend. If this girl was threatening you then he should have been told. I know he’s dangerous and I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him but looking like you do you need someone like him to keep the wolves at bay. Don’t over analyse it and just enjoy the ride because if I’m right he’s not going anywhere.” Smiling at her I feel comforted by her words. She is right of course, I know that he doesn’t like anyone keeping secrets from him and I should cut him some slack, after all he is trying.

Cheering up a bit I say, “Thanks Violet, that’s helped me a lot. Sorry to be a burden.” “Nonsense you can come to me anytime at all. Like I said, I know more than most what it’s like to be around that family, who better than me to confide in.”

 

My shift ends and as I leave I see Ash waiting for me. As I walk over towards him he raises his eyes and looks at me with a worried expression. “Are we good Grace, have you forgiven me yet?” Nodding I sit behind him and wrap my arms around him. Burying my face in his back I inhale the scent that I love. Turning around he pulls my face towards his, “What is it Angel, something’s bothering you?” Looking down I wonder whether to say anything at all but then it all comes rushing out. “When Skylar threatened me Ash she said that you would soon get bored of me and go back to her as only she could give you what you need. I’m just worried that she’s right. I mean we are so different in a lot of ways and don’t share the same outlook on what’s right and wrong.”

Looking down I say quietly, “You also have certain needs that I am worried I may not be up to. What happens if we do, you know, and then you’re disappointed? It just worries me that’s all.”

Looking at me incredulously Ash tilts my face up to his. I catch my breath at the sight of his beautiful face and see the love pouring out of it towards me. Softly he says, “You are everything I need Grace and much much more. When the time is right we will be together in every sense of the word but I am not rushing it for your sake. This isn’t about not wanting you though. If you only knew what I am going through trying to be a good person for once you wouldn’t have any doubts. Skylar knows nothing at all about me, she just thinks she does. She’s just angry that she’s not queen bee any more. Her status has gone and she is now a nobody. She will say and do anything that she thinks I want to hear. I used her Grace because she suited my purpose, but I never loved her or promised her anything. In fact I was never faithful to her and just had any girl I wanted. That is who I am Grace, or should I say was. Now I have you I don’t need or want anyone else. Like I said before though, I am who I am and even if I want to change it will be difficult. What worries me the most is that you will tire of me and that my Angel I don’t even want to think about.”

Leaning towards him I take his face in my hands and kiss him gently. Winding my hair around his hands he pulls my lips towards him and leaves me in no doubt at all about the intensity of his feelings for me. By the time we come up for air we both know where we stand. It’s not going to be easy for either of us but at least we both want the same thing.

 

Chapter 34

 

As its Saturday the next day I told Ash that Gabe would drop me off at the library on his way to football practice. I could tell it annoyed him but I wanted some time alone with my cousin as I haven’t seen much of him since Ash came along.

As we set off I question him about Piper. “How are things going with Piper Gabe?” He grins at me happily. “She’s great. I never knew just how funny she is, I mean she can have me in stitches with just a quick remark. She’s also so hot, who’d have thought it underneath that cloak of invisibility that you all used to wear, I mean seriously how did I miss that?” Teasing him I say, “You’ve got it bad Gabe.” Raising his eyes up he puts his finger to my lips. “Sshh don’t tell anyone, I’m playing it cool. Anyway how are things with you, you know since Ash?”

Sighing I look at him with what I know is a troubled look. “The trouble is Gabe, I think that I have fallen in love with him and that worries me. We are so different and I am not sure that it will work out.”

Looking thoughtful Gabe shrugs. “I can’t believe I’m saying this but he is right for you. You calm him down and he protects you. I have never seen him like he is with you with anyone before and I’d say he has fallen heavily for you. Just be careful Grace and don’t give too much of yourself too quickly. If it’s meant to be then you have a lifetime to get to know each other.”

Grinning I say, “And is that what you’re doing with Piper?” Laughing Gabe pulls a face. “Mind your own business little cuz that’s between the two of us.”

Gabe pulls into the Gas station and I watch as he fills the tank. I have really grown to love him as the brother that I never had and always wanted. He goes off to pay and then I notice Skylar across the street. Sinking down into my seat I try to stay hidden. The last thing I want is another run in with her.

As I watch her I notice that she is looking around her anxiously. Then suddenly the unmistakeable sight of Mr Knight’s car stops beside her and she gets inside, all the time looking around her as if she doesn’t want to be seen. As they speed away I wonder what that was all about. She probably knows him from her time with Ash, but it all seemed so furtive.

Gabe comes back but I don’t tell him what I saw. The least I talk about her the better.

Gabe drops me off and it feels like it’s been ages since I was here last. Pushing open the door my eyes adjust to the darkened interior and I can see that Mr Watson is sitting at the desk as usual. He looks worse than normal and I notice how tired he looks.

As he sees me I notice that he looks worried and sighing gestures for me to sit down. As I sit across from him he smiles sadly. “I’m sorry Grace but I’ve got some bad news.” I look at him anxiously. “The state have withdrawn my funding and are closing me down.”

In shock I can feel the tears welling up in my eyes as I take in what he is saying. “They can’t Mr Watson, this is your life. Why are they doing it?” Looking down he fiddles with his fingers. “Nobody comes here anymore Grace and they don’t have the resources to keep it going. I can’t afford the rent and owe the landlord thousands of dollars in unpaid rent. I have to close it’s the only way. I will have to get a job to afford paying off the debt.”

I stand up angrily. “It’s not fair Mr Watson, why doesn’t anyone come here anymore? It’s a public library for goodness sake. Can’t we get some help and restore it to what it once was? I bet people would come then.” Smiling ruefully Mr Watson shakes his head sadly. “It’s too late my dear. I have heard that the landlord wants the building back to develop into something else, I’m not sure what. It’s better to just cut my losses and move on.”

Standing up he looks at me gratefully. “I don’t want you to waste any more of your precious time in helping me Grace. I have enjoyed you being here but as you can see there is no need anymore, I’m sorry, I feel as if I have let you down.” Rushing over to him I hug him which I can tell takes him by surprise. “Please don’t give up yet Mr Watson. I’m sure that we will find a way.” He flushes and looks sadly at me. “You are a kind girl Grace, but as I said it’s too late. I’m sorry.” Watching him sink down into his chair I notice how defeated he looks. I can’t believe that this is happening and as I walk over to the exit my mind is in turmoil.

As I leave the library I remember how happy it made me to be here with Ash. Sinking down on to the steps I put my head in my hands and sob uncontrollably as I picture Mr Watson and his wife back when they were happy. How could things go so wrong for such a lovely man?

As I sit there crying on the steps I suddenly hear the roar of a motorbike. Raising my eyes I see Ash screeching to a halt and rushing quickly over to me. “What’s the matter Grace, tell me.”

Through my tears I tell him and he looks annoyed. “Now where will I study?” Hitting out at him I say angrily, “This isn’t about you Ash. What will poor Mr Watson do now? He owes thousands of dollars in rent that is probably going up all the time. He’s lost his wife and now his business. This isn’t about you or me it’s about him. Well I’m not giving up. I am going to find a way to help him if it’s the last thing I do.”

Looking thoughtful Ash pulls me up. “Come on, I’ll take you for a coffee. We’ve got time before your shift, maybe we can both come up with a plan.”

As I look at him in surprise he grins wickedly. “What? It’s my favourite place to make out with the librarian. What will I do for kicks if it closes?” Raising my eyes up I pull myself behind him on the bike. Sometimes he surprises me; maybe he does have a heart after all.

 

By the time my shift starts at Violet’s we have mulled over several possibilities. I decide to enlist the help of my Aunt Sarah. She knows lots of people and if we can get enough volunteers we could have the library back up and running and make it a cool place to hang out. Feeling a little brighter I kiss Ash as he drops me off. As I turn to go he pulls me back. “Don’t forget the beach party tonight. I’ll pick you up after your shift and take you home to get ready.” Nodding I race off to work. I am quite excited about the thought of another party. Hopefully it will cheer me up.

Chapter 35

 

The beach looks amazing. There are torches blazing around little camps that have been set up with smoking barbeques nearby promising all types of food. There is a sort of makeshift dance area where a DJ is playing the latest tunes.

Walking in with Ash is certainly an experience. I was actually surprised that we were going. I was told that they never attended these parties, not wanting to hang out with the others from school. However tonight appears to be the exception and as we make our way through the crowd I notice many a stunned glance thrown our way.

It must be quite an intimidating sight. Ash and his gang look totally hot tonight. They move through the party like they own it. They are all wearing their trademark leather jackets and black jeans and their T Shirts do little to cover up their amazing bodies.

I notice the envious stares of the other girls and grip hold of his hand a little tighter. Cally is walking beside us with Jacob’s arm slung over her shoulder. Jace has brought a girl called Polly with him who has long dark hair and smouldering grey eyes. She is tall and skinny and looks around her with an indifferent air.

Quade is with Indie and Killian with Paisley. Only Lucian has come alone and I laugh to myself as I see that this hasn’t gone unnoticed and he is getting rather a lot of attention from some of the girls. I really like Lucian. He is quieter than the others but I heard that even though he is quiet he is a good fighter and you wouldn’t want to see him angry.

The crowd parts to let us through and we deposit ourselves just outside on the edge of the party. We have our own little group that doesn’t allow anyone else in.

Sinking down on to the sand Ash pulls me in front of him, tucking me securely between his legs, his arms wrapping themselves around me. I feel safe and content and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Somebody throws him a beer and catching it he hands it to me and then catches another. Jace lights a fire and we all sink down in a circle. I watch as Cally snuggles closer to Jacob. Seeing me looking she grins and I can’t help but grin back at her. She looks so happy and I know that he adores her, you can tell. I watch as he kisses the back of her neck and I can tell that she is totally into him.

Jace is making out with Polly on the sand and I hear Ash laughing softly as he sees him. I feel a bit embarrassed as they are leaving nothing to the imagination and feeling my face burn I am just glad that it is dark.

I feel Ash pull me closer and kiss my neck. His touch is pure torture to me. It is driving me mad and I know that there will be no letting up. I hope that he manages to win his inner battle soon because I am not sure how much longer I can hold out. I watch as Cally and Jacob start kissing and finally I can’t stand it anymore.

Jumping up I whisper, “I’m going to find Gabe and Piper. I just want to let them know we’ve arrived.” Ash laughs, “You think they don’t know that already?” Quade laughs too. “Grace, the whole school knows we’re here. Didn’t you see their faces? It will be all over this party, we never normally come so this is big news to them.”

Blushing I look down. “Um, I think I’ll go anyway; I want to see Piper.” Ash jumps up. “I’ll come with you.” Smiling gently at him I push him back down on to the sand. “No need, I won’t be long and you’d be bored. Anyway I don’t want the drama that follows you; I just want a quick word with her and for nobody to notice me. I won’t be long.”

Kissing him on the lips he smiles and I can feel him watching me as I go. To be honest I just want to get away from them for a minute. Being a part of their gang is quite intense and I need some space to breathe.

As I wander through the crowds I look for Piper and Gabe. I can see a few of their friends and head off over to them. As I reach the group I see Easton and when he sees me he looks around him nervously. Seeing that I am on my own he visibly relaxes and comes over.

“Hi Grace, are you looking for Gabe.” Smiling at him I nod and he takes my arm. “Come on they’re over here.” I follow him but pull my arm away. I don’t want anyone to see and tell Ash. Easton is a nice guy and wouldn’t deserve the fallout that would occur.

As we head over to them Easton smiles ruefully at me. “It appears that I was too late in the line to ask you out. I should have got the courage sooner.” Feeling myself blush I say quietly, “I’m sorry Easton. For some reason Ash just couldn’t stay away and…well you know.” He smiles gently at me. “Yes I know. There’s not a man alive that can compete with him that much I do know. As long as you’re happy that’s fine with me.”

By now we have reached Gabe and he pulls me beside him looking worried. “Are you ok Grace, where’s Ash?” Raising my eyes up I laugh at him. “I’m fine, Ash is with his friends and I just wanted a word with mine.”

Relaxing he smiles and Piper looks at me with surprise. “I can’t believe that you all came. It’s so out of character and it’s all anyone is talking about.” Laughing I say, “What are they Gods or something? They’re just like us, kids that go to this school.”

Piper looks at me as if I’m mad. “They are hardly just like us Grace. In fact come to think of it neither are you. No you belong with them that’s obvious. The rightful King and Queen of Falcondell High.”

I know that she is joking; well at least I hope she is. Shoving her playfully I say, “Look I just wanted to say that I don’t want us to be separated because of who we are dating. If you want to come over to be with us then you are welcome and the same for us. Don’t be intimidated by Ash and his gang. You are our friends and I don’t want us to drift apart.”

Piper looks at me and to my surprise I see tears in her eyes. Hugging me to her she says, “Thanks Grace. I have felt a bit left out if you must know. I kind of miss us three hanging out and Cally seems so wrapped up in Jacob that I feel a bit awkward.

I link my arm in hers. “Come on let’s go and dance. Just us no boys allowed.” Giggling we push our way on to the dance floor and make complete fools of ourselves. I haven’t laughed so much in ages and I realise that Piper is right. We have neglected her and this feels good just being ourselves once more.

Suddenly though things change. There is a sound of screaming and lots of shouting. Looking up in confusion I notice that people are running from the beach. The music stops and I hear the most awful commotion heading our way.

Somebody races past and I hear them say, “It’s those goons from Freyview; they’ve come to make trouble.” Catching hold of him I say, “What do you mean, what’s going on?” The guy looks at me with a fearful expression. “I heard them say they want to get back at us for beating up some of their crowd. This isn’t going to be pretty so you’d better run.”

Piper grabs hold of my hand. “Come on Grace, let’s not hang around. We’d better find Gabe.” Turning to follow her I am amazed by what I see next. Standing behind us like a wall of steel is Ash and his gang looking like I have never seen them before. They are all lined up facing us waiting for the trouble to reach them. I see their faces set in hard masks and I can see the promise in their eyes.

Turning in surprise I see the trouble approaching and watch as they suddenly stop short as they see what’s waiting for them. Their expressions change to one of disbelief and even from here I can sense their fear.

Turning back in confusion I see Ash nod to someone. All at once I see Gabe rushing towards Piper and I. Grabbing hold of us he shouts, “Come on, let’s get out of here.” Shaking my head I try to pull away; I don’t want to go as I can’t leave Ash. “No Gabe, I won’t leave him here.” Looking as if I am stupid Gabe just picks me up and throws me over his shoulder as though I am one of his footballs and followed by Piper dashes back up the beach. I know that it is useless to struggle and just accept my fate. I am worried though. Despite the fact that I know they can handle themselves, the other guys looked like they meant business and as the guy said, it wasn’t going to be pretty.

As we reach Gabe’s car he throws me in and Piper scrambles in after me. Locking the doors he starts up the engine and drives away. Piper looks at me fearfully. “I can’t believe that just happened. They’ve never crashed one of our parties before. Do you think they knew that Ash and his gang were there?”

Shaking his head grimly Gabe says in a tight voice, “I think they were banking on the fact that they weren’t. Everyone knows that they never go to these things. No they were after retribution for what happened at the game and it wasn’t going to end well.”

I feel so worried about what is now happening at the beach. “Do you think they’ll be ok Gabe?” Gabe snorts. “Freyview certainly won’t. They will regret the day they thought this was a good idea. This is right up Ash’s gang’s street. It will just be a gentle workout to them. I don’t think you fully realise what they’re like Grace. They are evil and totally get off on violence of any kind.” I shrink back into my seat. I know he’s right. It’s the other guys that I should be worrying about. Images of what happened to the creepy guys come into my mind and I picture their fate.

I suddenly notice that Gabe isn’t driving us in the right direction for home. “Where are we going Gabe, this isn’t the right way?” Laughing softly Gabe says, “Ash told me to go to his house. Apparently the party is going to continue there.” Piper looks at me and I can see the excitement shining in her eyes. “Oh my God. The Knight mansion. I have always wanted to see inside that place.”

I feel confused. “When did this all get arranged?” Gabe laughs again. “Ash told me to bring you here and why. I’ll say one thing for him he’s cool in an emergency.” I shake my head in disbelief. “How will we get in, and won’t his uncle have something to say about it?”

Gabe shrugs his shoulders. “I’ve heard he’s out of town this weekend. Probably doesn’t know a thing about it. We’re to wait outside by the pool house.” Looking outside I tune out as Piper starts chatting away incessantly. I am still worried as to what’s happening at the beach. I won’t be able to relax until I know that he’s safe.

We soon pull up outside The Knight mansion. It is certainly intimidating and I can see that we are not the only ones here. It appears that word has spread and there are several cars now jostling for position in the driveway.

In disbelief I follow Gabe and Piper through the crowd to the pool house. This place is amazing. The pool is one of those made to look natural. There is a makeshift water fall and it reminds me of our lake at the ridge as I see the rocks strategically placed around it. Lights illuminate the area and I can see tables and loungers dotted around and to the side is a huge pool house that is now open and full of people already helping themselves to the drinks inside.

Nudging Gabe I say anxiously, “This doesn’t feel right. I feel as if we are intruders. This is their personal property and it’s like we’re stealing their stuff.” Gabe shrugs. “Ash won’t care. Money is no object to this family. It will all get replaced and his uncle won’t even bat an eyelid, he has enough parties here himself. In fact he’ll just be pissed that he’s missed out on the opportunity of scoring with some of Ash’s friends.”

I can’t believe he just said what he did. “What! That’s disgusting. You’re wrong Gabe, Mr Knight wouldn’t be interested in underage girls, he’s going out with Violet anyway.”

Turning away Gabe says nothing and Piper looks at him thoughtfully. “Get us a drink Gabe, we’ll just sit here and wait.” As he heads off to get the drinks Piper pulls me down on to a nearby lounger. In a whisper she says, “Gabe’s right. Mr Knight is not a nice man Grace. He doesn’t care about how old a girl is. If he wants them he has them. Violet knows this which is why she keeps him at arms length most of the time. She just uses him as much as he does her.”

Shaking my head in disbelief I look at Piper in horror. “But he could go to jail if he’s caught.” Piper laughs hollowly. “He will never go to jail Grace. He has too much on the people in authority in this town. Everyone’s afraid of him and wouldn’t dare press charges. He just does what he likes. Just keep away from him and you’ll be ok. Even if you’re unwilling he doesn’t care, in fact it just makes him more determined to get you.” Suddenly I feel sick. I think of Skylar getting into his car and it all slots into place. Despite how awful she is she doesn’t deserve that. Somebody should stop him, it isn’t right.

As we sit here we suddenly see Cally pushing her way through the crowd looking worried. When she sees us she rushes over and sinks down next to us. “Oh thank God you’re both safe. I couldn’t believe it when we heard the commotion at the beach. We were told to grab everything and get rides to this place and meet them here. Ash took off like a bullet from a gun almost before we heard anything. It’s like he had a sixth sense or something.”

That doesn’t surprise me. He always has a habit of being there when I need him. Reaching up I hold on to the heart necklace. I hope that he’s safe; I couldn’t bear it if he was hurt. Gabe gets back with some drinks and we all sit around just getting used to what’s happened.

Before long we hear the distinct sound of the motorbikes coming up the hill. Jumping up Cally and I race to the front and watch as they all screech to a halt. Seeing Ash I race over to him and Cally does the same to Jacob. Before he can even get off his bike I am on him, looking at him anxiously for signs of any injuries.

Looking amused Ash says, “Who are you Florence Nightingale?” Crossly I say, “I was worried about you. What if you’d been hurt, what would I do then?” I hear the others laughing as they witness the exchange. Jace snorts, “You should worry about those Freyview geeks instead. They didn’t know what hit them.”

The others laugh but Ash glares at him. “Can it Jace, go inside and sort out the drinks. I’ll be a minute.” Laughing and joking they all go inside and Ash pulls me closer to him. Holding me against him he breathes in deeply. “How I love your smell little Tess. Never leave my side again. If you had been caught up in that there would’ve been hell to pay.”

I can feel his fear; it is there inside of him as he holds me. Pulling back I kiss him gently and then to my surprise he crushes me to him and kisses me more passionately than I have ever been kissed before. My insides melt with desire and I don’t want him to stop. I return his kiss with a new found urgency. Something has changed; I can feel it inside him. Sweeping me up he says in a tortured voice, “You are coming with me.”

He takes me inside the house. It is eerily quiet inside compared to the noise of the party outside that is now in full swing. I don’t register my surroundings though. My heart is pounding as he leads me up several flights of stairs and pushes open a door which I can see leads into what must be his bedroom.

Pulling me inside he kicks the door shut and with a wicked grin he locks it. Grinning he says, “I’ve got you now little Tess. You can’t escape from my lair.” Smiling at him I approach him slowly. “Who said I wanted to?”

His eyes flash and turn as black as the darkness that surrounds us. Standing before me he reaches for me and removes the locket from around my neck. Instantly I feel the release and the room lights up around us, bathing us in a new light. He gasps in disbelief as I fill the entire room with my energy.

Stepping back he takes in the sight of me and I see tears come to his eyes which shocks me. Moving closer to him I reach up and looking into his eyes I pour all that I have into them. “Please Ash. Let go of your demons. You are nothing like your father and I am not your mother. We are our own people and can make our own history together.” I watch as he battles with himself and then I know that I have won. Pulling me towards him he whispers, “I love you Grace. Seeing you here in my room standing before me as you truly are, I know that we are meant to be together. You have my heart and I yours. I can’t resist this anymore.”

Then he kisses me with so much love that I know that I am lost forever. This is it; the time for waiting is over.

 

Chapter 36

 

Finally Ash and I are a couple in every sense of the word. As I lie beside him I wonder at the experience. We just lay side by side staring at each other as he strokes my face.

“I knew it was you, that first day in the library when you were hiding behind that book. As soon as I looked into your eyes it hit me like a steam train.”

Smiling my eyes sparkle and I laugh gently. “Rubbish, I was wearing those stupid pretend glasses and a hat. You didn’t see anything.” Pushing me playfully he rolls me on to my back and sits astride me holding me down. “I know everything Grace and I know that you felt it too. You can deny it all you want to but we both know that we were always destined for each other.”

Leaning down he kisses me gently. My heart fills with love for him. I know that he is no Angel but that doesn’t seem to matter. We can’t choose who we fall in love with and I know that he has good in him; it just needs time to come out.

Rolling off of me he grins. “We should get back to the party. They will be wondering where we are.”

He laughs as he sees me blush. “Don’t worry Angel; they probably think we’ve been at it for ages anyway. My reputation would be in tatters if they knew how long I’ve waited.”

I look at him crossly. “What about my reputation. They are all going to know what we’ve been up to and I’ll be so embarrassed.” Pulling me towards him he says angrily, “Never be embarrassed around me Grace. They know that you aren’t that type of girl. I’m the only guy that will ever know you this way. We just followed our hearts and it was inevitable. You have nothing to be ashamed of.”

As I look at him I know that he is right. “Ash, I’m not ashamed. I love you and don’t care who knows it. Come on let’s go and face them together and who cares what they think.” Grinning he says, “That’s my girl, and you are Grace, nobody else ever again. You’re stuck with me and that’s final.”

Smiling broadly at him he steps back in surprise as the full force of my happiness hits him. He looks at me in amazement. “You were beyond beautiful before but now… I would never have believed that you could be even more beautiful. It is all around you.” Walking towards me he tilts my face to his. “Who are you really Grace, you are beyond special that I do know?” Playfully I say, “You think that you know everything don’t you Ash, well this is something you don’t know and I am going to keep it my little secret for a while longer, just to annoy you.”

I can tell that I have surprised him but he doesn’t push it. Once we are dressed I put the locket back on and feel once again contained within its walls. Looking thoughtful Ash says quietly, “I will find out Grace, it’s only a matter of time.” Nodding I wink at him. “I’m counting on it Ash.”

 

As we join the others I feel different. I have changed within me and gone are the worries and insecurities; they have been replaced with a new found confidence and energy. Cally looks up as we approach and as she looks at me I see a knowing look in her eyes. Dragging me over to one side she studies me saying, “Oh my God, you didn’t?” Laughing I tease her. “Didn’t what Cally?” Grinning at me she looks towards Ash and then back at me. “What on earth took you so long? I mean look at him. You must have had more will power than anyone I have ever known.”

As I follow her gaze my heart swells with love for him. His hair is now tousled and I can see that his face has relaxed into an easy grin. His eyes are sparkling and his body is rippling underneath his tightly fitting T Shirt. As he feels me looking he shoots me a look that could light a fire in another town. Cally gasps beside me.

“I’m sorry Grace but that is perfection personified. You are one lucky lady.” Laughing I nod towards Jacob saying, “You haven’t done so bad yourself.” Grinning Cally’s eyes sparkle. “I never knew that love would be this good. Come on let’s enjoy ourselves and find Piper. They can wait for a while whilst we catch up.” Dragging me behind her we go to find Piper. As she sees us coming a smile breaks out across her face, lighting it up.

We spend the next hour laughing and joking like we used to. Occasionally I catch Ash looking at us and he just smiles and looks away. He knows that I need this time with my friends, he does too. It doesn’t matter; we know that neither of us are going anywhere.

As the evening wears on I drift back over to where Ash is sitting. Pulling me down beside him he whispers, “I missed you Angel.” Kissing him gently I say happily, “Me too.” Snuggling into his arms I never want to leave them. All around us couples are kissing and making out. Some are playing pool in the pool house and some are enjoying the real pool. It is a magical evening and one that I will never forget. Leaning down Ash kisses my neck saying, “Are you happy little Tess?” I smile up at him. “I have never been happier Ash. Thank you.” He kisses me again and I never want him to stop.

Chapter 37

 

Gabe takes me home after the party. Ash wanted me to stay but I didn’t want to worry my Aunt. I had to go home with Gabe, I didn’t have a choice. I promised that I would go back the next day to help with the clearing up. Ash told me that he would pick me up for breakfast and not to worry, he had people who would take care of it and it made me realise just how different his life was from the rest of us.

Aunt Sarah is in the kitchen when I finally surface. Looking up she smiles. “Good night Grace?” She laughs as she sees my expression. “Don’t say anything, I don’t want to know. What I don’t know won’t hurt me ok?” Laughing I sit down and gratefully accept the coffee that she pushes my way. “Where’s Gabe?” I say looking around me. Raising her eyes up she gestures towards his room. “Sleeping it off I think. You were both in so late; I doubt he’ll surface for most of the day. Come to think of it you’re up early, couldn’t you sleep?” I know that my face is giving me away as I can’t stop smiling. “Ash is picking me up and taking me for breakfast.”

My Aunt just grins and carries on with her chores. Suddenly I remember what I wanted to ask her. “Aunt Sarah, have you heard about the library?” Nodding sadly she sighs as she sits down. “Yes it’s terrible news. Poor Mr Watson, I wonder what he’ll do next?” “Can’t we help him?” Looking thoughtful she says, “What do you have in mind?”

“Well I wondered if enough people got together we could all help him and restore the library to what it was. With a bit of love and attention we could make it a really nice place to go and then maybe he could make enough money to stay.” I am surprised when my Aunt frowns and looks guarded. “I’m sorry Grace but that isn’t going to help him. The trouble is Mr Knight owns that building and he has made it very clear that he wants it back. Nobody will go against him in this Town; it isn’t worth the trouble it would cause. Mr Watson would be better off starting again and getting a new job somewhere else.”

This was not what I expected to hear and I feel cross. “That’s so unfair. People are mean, why wouldn’t they support someone like him?” My Aunt takes my hand and looks at me with a gentle look. “Let it go Grace. I know that you want to help him but it would be better for him this way. That place holds many sad memories for him and he needs to move on.” Gloomily I say, “The trouble is I think that he will be paying off his debt for the rest of his life. Even when he does get another job most of the money will go on paying it. I’m worried about him.”

We are interrupted by the sound of Ash’s motorbike outside. Jumping up I hug my Aunt. “Please try and think of something. There must be something we can do.” Aunt Sarah looks at me sadly. “I only wish there was Grace, believe me I only wish there was.”

 

As I approach him I see Ash leaning on the bike watching me with a devilish glint in his eye. “Morning Angel, my bed felt empty without you in it.” He laughs as I blush and rush towards him. “Ssh somebody will hear you.” Catching my arm he pulls me on to the bike in front of him and bends down and kisses me deeply. “I like embarrassing you little Tess, it is too easy for me.”

Pulling away I scoot around behind him and bury my flaming face in his back mumbling, “Just drive will you before my Aunt gets on the phone to my guardians.”

I can hear him laughing as he starts the engine and soon we are speeding along towards Violet’s for a much needed breakfast.

When we pull up I can see several of his gangs motorbikes parked outside. As Ash helps me off the bike I nod towards them. “Since when did you all go here? I thought that Violet didn’t like you hanging out at the diner.”

Ash just grins. “Since I took a fancy to a hot waitress who works here. Why would we go anywhere else? I need to keep an eye on her in case someone thinks they stand a chance with her.”

Pushing him playfully I nod towards the diner. “Well don’t blame me if you get kicked out. You will you know at the first sign of trouble.” Laughing Ash follows me inside. “Since when did we cause any trouble, it’s not our fault if trouble finds us is it?” I shake my head at him, he is impossible.

Violet meets us at the door and warns Ash. “I’m watching you Ash, remember. I don’t want any trouble from you or your friends.” Ash laughs and to my surprise lifts Violet up and spins her around. “I’m too scared of you Violet to try anything. I’ll be on my best behaviour, scouts honour.”

Violet laughs. “Since when were you a scout?” Ash pretends to be hurt. “Don’t you remember I tried it out for a day? It wasn’t my fault that I got told to leave, that kid shouldn’t have taken my seat at the table.” Raising her eyes up Violet gestures towards a large table where Ash’s friends are sitting. “Go on I’ll get the waitress to take your order.”

The others make room for us and Cally pulls me towards her whispering, “Have you heard that the Sherriff is looking into what happened at the beach last night.” Shaking my head I notice that she looks worried. “I heard that the Freyview crowd took a terrible beating and ended up in hospital. Everyone knows who did it but they can’t prove anything. Do you think they’ll get in trouble?”

Looking around me at Ash and his gang it strikes me that they look as though they don’t have a care in the world. They obviously aren’t bothered and I wonder what the outcome will be. Shrugging I whisper, “He hasn’t said anything to me but I’ll bet nothing happens. It didn’t before and if no one says it was them I can’t see how they can be blamed.” Cally still looks worried though and I share her anxiety.

I sit back in my seat and watch them all laughing and joking amongst themselves. As I look around me I notice that they are the subjects of lots of scrutiny from the other diners, particularly the women who can’t take their eyes off them. They certainly command attention and I know that I was equally mesmerised by them when I first saw them.

Leaning towards me Ash grabs hold of my hand. “You’re quiet Angel are you ok?” Looking at him with a worried expression I tell him what Cally said. He smiles and squeezes my hand. “I’ve told you before; nothing ever comes back on us. If it did then my uncle or father would sort it. Don’t worry, we’ll be fine.”

Then whispering huskily in my ear he says, “I can’t wait to get you alone again. I want you to myself; I have done since we left my room last night.”

Feeling myself blush I look down and he laughs. Luckily the breakfast arrives and I am spared answering. I actually can’t wait to be alone with him, it’s all I’ve thought of since his room and a feeling of excitement and promise shoots through me. I can feel his leg putting pressure against mine and it is all I can do not to drag him outside and demand that he take me to his house immediately.

I can’t believe how much I’ve changed in such a short space of time. I don’t even recognise myself anymore. Not that I’m complaining, I’ve never felt so alive.

As soon as we’ve finished we all head off outside. Cally and Jacob are going to Jacob’s secret place as he calls it. He winks at me as I watch Cally take up her position behind him on his bike. Ash grins wickedly at him. “See you later Bro, don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.”

Jacob laughs. “That’s a short list. See you later.” They speed off and Ash laughs as he sees them go. Of all his friends I know that Jacob is his best friend. They act more like brothers and have been close ever since they were very young.

Quade shouts over. “You coming to the Gym Ash?” Taking my hand he shouts back, “Maybe later. I’m going to hang out with Grace, I’ll call you.” Quade smiles at me and then heads off, closely followed by the others.

Looking at Ash I nod towards them. “You can go if you want; I don’t want you to feel as if you have to be with me.” Pulling me towards him Ash kisses my neck. “No Grace, I have plans for you and it certainly doesn’t include them.” Feeling a delicious feeling spread through my body I shiver in anticipation. Pulling me behind him on to the bike I hold him tightly. I wonder where we are going.

 

Chapter 38

 

Ash takes me to his house. Now in the daylight I fully appreciate how big this house really is. As we walk inside I notice lots of people working, clearing up the mess from the party.

“Do these people work here Ash?” He nods. “Yes, they work for my uncle.” Looking fearfully around me I hope that he isn’t here. Then I remember what Piper said to me about him. Speaking in a whisper I lean towards him. “Ash, did you know that your uncle is seeing Skylar?” Stopping to look at me I notice that he looks amused. “No surprises there. How do you know?” I tell him what I saw and what Piper told me. He looks thoughtful. “Skylar is one of those girls who crave power. As soon as she realised that I wasn’t interested anymore she latched on to him. It won’t do her any good though. Like me he is just using her. He probably promised her something in return. Don’t even worry about them, they won’t affect us.” Despite his words I feel uneasy. “What about Violet though? It’s not fair on her.” Grinning Ash says, “When she finds out there’ll be a scene and then he will squirm his way back in. It’s happened loads of times. Anyway I don’t want to talk about them; I want to carry on where we left off last night.”

Pulling me behind him we head off upstairs to his room. My heart beats faster and I almost can’t wait to get there. Quickly all thoughts of Skylar and his uncle leave me as I anticipate what is to come.

 

Much later I wake up next to Ash. His leg is over mine trapping me to the bed and I watch him as he sleeps. The feelings that he brings out in me shock me as I have never ever felt such intense love for anyone before. Like Cally said he is pure perfection and my eyes devour him as I savour the sight of his perfectly sculptured body and chiselled features. He made love to me over and over again until we both fell into a deep contented sleep. My body feels sore but alive.

Then his eyes open and I am drawn into their dark pools as they mesmerise me. “Ready to go again Angel,” he says his hands reaching out and pulling me close to him. My eyes must tell him what he wants to hear because with a groan he crushes me to him whispering, “I can’t leave you alone. I want to keep you locked in this room with me forever.”

Shyly I look into those dark velvety eyes. “I’d like nothing more.” Once again we make love and it is feels as if it’s the most natural thing in the world. This is how we were meant to be, together despite all the odds and it feels so right.

 

Despite wanting to stay here forever we soon decide that we need to eat. Before we go Ash pulls me into the shower and I soon realise just how much better it is to share. We almost don’t make it but reluctantly get dressed.

“Come on Angel, you need food inside you now, not me.” Ash laughs as he sees me blush. As he pulls on his trainers I look with interest around me at his room. There isn’t much in the way of personal effects but it is tastefully decorated although quite minimal. There are no photographs or posters and it is decorated in a dark grey.

Seeing me looking he gestures around him. “This isn’t home to me Grace; it’s just a place to sleep. I haven’t really got a place that I feel comfortable in. It’s better not to have anything around that shows people inside you. That way they can’t work you out and get inside your head.”

Shaking my head in amazement I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “That’s sad Ash. Everyone needs their personal space, to be who they want to be. It shouldn’t be like this.” In surprise I see the sadness in his eyes. “I’m not a product of love Grace. All of my life I’ve been controlled and manipulated. That has made me who I am now. It’s no wonder I am like it too. Just look around you. I control everything about my life. If I want it I have it. My friends do everything I say and I do what my uncle wants me to. I am his puppet as they are mine. You are the only thing in my life that I can’t control and it is scaring the hell out of me.”

Walking over to him I sit next to him on the bed. Slipping my hand in his I say gently, “I’m kind of hoping I am.” His eyes flash and once again I see the torture in his eyes. “It will take a lot to change who I am Grace. Even you may not be strong enough.” I put my head on his shoulder and squeeze his hand. I am going to do my utmost to help him and I will give it everything I’ve got.

 

We walk downstairs and I take in the grandeur of the place. This place is huge and everything around me reeks of money, from the marble floor to the paintings on the wall. The furniture looks expensive and there are huge chandeliers and heavy curtains hanging everywhere.

We go into a huge kitchen where I get the shock of my life. Sitting at the table watching us with amusement is his uncle, Mr Knight.

I can feel the chill in the room as we see him. Ash tenses up beside me and I watch as his face changes into a scowl. Mr Knight looks at us with an amused expression. Speaking in a slow deep voice he stares at us. “Well, this is surprising. I think that you are the first girl that Ash has ever brought home.”

Pushing his chair back he stands up and approaches me holding out his hand. “I’m pleased to meet you my dear, I am Ash’s uncle and you can call me Jake.”

Ash pulls me behind him before I can shake his hand and growls. “Get away from her. What are you doing back, I thought you were gone until tomorrow?” Laughing at him he leans back against the table and fixes Ash with a hard glare. “I got a call from the Sherriff’s department wanting to know if I knew anything about a fight on the beach last night. Apparently some kids were badly hurt and they wanted to know your whereabouts.”

Shrugging Ash says, “So, what’s it to you. Just deal with it as you usually do.” Mr Knight looks at him angrily. “I don’t want you causing trouble beating up some high school punks for fun. You’re always in enough trouble as it is and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cover it all up.”

Angrily Ash looks at him and the look in his eyes covers me in fear. He moves in front of his uncle and looks at him with a look that could kill a man stone dead on the spot. In a chilling voice he says, “And whose fault is that. If I wasn’t always doing your dirty work then the Sherriff wouldn’t be so busy. You know the score just deal with it. If you can’t then my father can. Just remember the deal. You only have this for one more year then I am free. Who will do your dirty work then huh? Just keep out of my way and I will keep out of yours.” Turning his back on his uncle Ash goes to leave but stops dead as his uncle says, “It was nice to meet you, Grace isn’t it? I know your Aunt Sarah well. Please remember me to her won’t you. Oh and tell Violet I’ll be in later, maybe we can catch up then and get to know each other better.”

Like a scene from a movie I watch Ash change before me. He looks like he is possessed and his eyes flash dangerously. His whole body tenses up and as he turns to face his uncle I see him pale and look uneasy. The atmosphere changes in the room and it feels cold and chilling. There is a deep dark power filling the once sunny kitchen.

In a slow menacing voice Ash approaches him. “You must never speak to or look at Grace or her family and friends. If you even glance in their direction I won’t be held responsible for what I will do. Just remember who I am and what I can do. For starters what do you think will happen if word gets out about your latest underage dalliance? Don’t use your tricks on me dear uncle and you may just survive the year unscathed. If you don’t like it just remember whose fault it is that I am like who I am. You taught me well over the years, what was it? oh yes, knowledge is power. Well I know a lot about you, enough to bury you. Do we understand each other?”

Looking defeated his uncle nods and Ash pulls me after him not stopping until we are on his bike and speeding away as fast as we can go.

As I cling on to him I can feel the rage within him. I close my eyes and picture the scene that we have left behind. I saw the true extent of his pain in that kitchen and what he is capable of. His uncle looked scared to death which I would never have thought possible; if anything I always thought that he was the evil one. Shuddering I realise that Ash is far more powerful than his uncle and it scares me. I don’t think that I am strong enough to save him and my eyes fill with tears as I feel the torture in his soul.

Chapter 39

 

We don’t go to Violet’s. Instead Ash takes me home. As we stop I look at him in surprise. Looking sadly at me Ash leans towards me his head resting on mine. “I’m sorry about that Angel. I had to go in heavy with him. He would have used you and your family against me and I won’t have any of you put in danger. He knows now how much you mean to me and that scares me. He is capable of a lot and I don’t want any of you caught up in his evil, vile plans. If he ever found out about you then you wouldn’t be safe and that is my number one priority.” I pull him to me and kiss him, pouring as much love and peace into him as I can to soothe his soul.

I feel him relax and drawing back he looks lovingly into my eyes. “I love you Grace. I will do anything for you, even if it means bringing him down once and for all.” “I know you do Ash and I love you too. I am here for you and will do everything I can to help you.”

Looking towards the house I say, “Why have you brought me home though?” He grins and almost looks embarrassed. “I wondered if your Aunt Sarah would mind if I hung out here this evening. I want to see what a normal family is like.” Laughing I pull him after me. “You think this is normal, if only.”

 

My Aunt looks surprised as we walk in. “This is a nice surprise. Have you eaten yet?” Shaking my head I smile at her. “No, not yet. Do you mind if Ash stays for dinner?” Smiling warmly at him she nods towards the front room where we can hear the sounds of the television blaring out. “No I don’t mind at all, it will be a pleasure. Gabe is through there watching the game. Grab some drinks from the fridge and I’ll make you all something to eat.”

Grabbing a beer for Ash and a soft drink for me we go and flop down on to the couch next to Gabe. Grinning up at us he shifts along and I sit between them, my legs up on Ash as he puts his arm around me.

I snuggle in and listen to them chatting about the Game like normal people do. This all feels so right. It’s good to just hang out with my new family. It will be good for all of us and is exactly what we need.

After a while I leave them and go to help my Aunt prepare the food. As we work away I remember Mr Watson. “Have you had any more thoughts about how we can help Mr Watson?” She shakes her head sadly. “He is beyond help Grace. It’s gone too far now.”

I didn’t hear Ash come in until he speaks. “Who’s beyond help?” My Aunt says, “Mr Watson. He has to close the library next week. It has gone too far now and it cannot be saved.” Tears come into my eyes but I notice that Ash just shrugs. “Probably for the best. He’s been going down for years.” I turn on them both angrily. “I can’t believe that nobody has noticed before now. That poor man. He lost the love of his life and now the business that they started together. He will be in debt for the rest of his life probably and I fear for him.”

Coming over Ash takes me in his arms and I bury my face in his chest. Stroking my hair he says nothing and I realise that they are both probably right, there is nothing we can do.

 

Despite this we have a lovely evening. We just hang out around the house and I am glad to see Ash getting on well with Gabe and my Aunt. They all seem relaxed around each other now which I am glad about. As I walk him to his bike he pulls me close and kisses me gently.

“Thanks for that Grace. You don’t know what it meant to me. I want that for us you know. A loving family home with a couple of kids, just a nice normal life.” Smiling into his chest his words light up my soul. Pulling away I say softly, “I would like that too Ash, in fact I can’t think of anything that I would like more.” As we kiss I wish with all my heart that it would come true.

 

Ash picks me up in the morning and we head off to school. I love it when I ride behind him, clinging on to him and feeling the wind in my hair. As we pull in I see Skylar and Teagan getting out of a car. They see us and then pointedly look away, but not before I see the hatred directed at me in their faces. Luckily Ash didn’t see them and I say nothing. I just hope that they keep away from me for all our sakes.

After school finishes I am putting my books away when I feel a hand sliding around my waist, pulling me around to face him. Ash leans down and kisses me pushing me against the locker. My legs almost give way as his kiss is so passionate. I hear his friends laughing and as he pulls away his eyes glitter wickedly. “I’ve waited all day to do that,” he says looking at me triumphantly. Blushing I straighten up and notice that we are the subject of a lot of attention as everyone appears to be watching us. Ash laughs and grabs my hand. “Come on little Tess I thought we might all go bowling tonight. What do you say, girls versus boys?” Grinning at him I see that the others are watching in amusement. “Prepare to lose then.” I say raising my eyes in a challenge. His eyes flash. “Are you challenging me little Tess?” Pushing past him I look back and give him a defiant stare. “You’d better believe it.” Quickly I walk away and laugh as he rushes to catch me up. Flinging his arm around my shoulder he pulls me close to him. “Come on then, I never walk away from a challenge.”

As we get outside I suddenly remember Piper. She is following us out and I know that Gabe has football practice. I whisper to Ash, “Is Lucian bringing anyone?” Shaking his head I point to Piper. He nods and I call out, “Piper do you want to make up the numbers bowling tonight?” Smiling she races over.

“That would be great; Gabe has practice though how will I get there?” Ash shouts, “Hey Lucian, give Piper a ride to the alley.” Looking up Lucian smiles and waves her over. We all head off and I am really looking forward to a good evening.

Chapter 40

 

The bowling alley is on the other side of town. I have only been here once before and had a great time. We all grab some shoes and are soon safely seated behind our lanes. The guys grab some drinks and we can hear lots of laughing and joking from their lane.

Paisley laughs as we look at them and leans towards me. “This is all down to you Grace.” Looking at her in surprise she smiles. “This would never had happened when Ash was with Skylar. He never went anywhere with her and we all just met up at parties and lunchtime. Ash used to always seem distant and disconnected from us and seeing him now it is obvious that he didn’t like her very much.” Her words surprise me. “So you didn’t ever go out all together like this?” Paisley raises her eyes up. “We were just there when they needed a girl. The guys spent their spare time at the gym or shooting pool. We were only allowed to see them when a girlfriend was required. Now it is much more how it should be. Killian and I have never been happier. We date as proper couples do and have grown much closer as a result.”

Smiling at her I actually can’t believe what I’m hearing. Then in a more serious tone she whispers. “Don’t worry about Skylar and Teagan Grace. We’ve all got your back. There’s no way we want to go back to how it was and if we hear or see anything we’ll let Ash and you know. I just wanted you to know what you have done for us.” I smile at her warmly. “Thanks Paisley, it’s good to hear. I’m glad that I’ve helped you.” Paisley looks at Ash and smiles. “I have never seen him like this before. You wouldn’t recognise him as the same badass guy. Even the guys have noticed how he’s changed. They say that love can do that to a guy, well if that’s the case then he is head over heels in love with you.” As I look over at him he catches my eye. The look he sends me turns my insides hot with desire. Seeing my expression he laughs and winks at me with the promise in his eyes of what is in store later on.

As I think about what I have just heard I feel sorry for them all. It must have been a sad and lonely existence. Once again I thank my guardians for letting me stay.

 

Soon we all begin bowling. The guys are much rowdier than us but we hold our own and soon the scores are tied. It’s all on the final ball and as luck would have it it is down to Ash and I to bowl last. Meeting on the lanes we face each other and I can see the challenge in his eyes.

Grinning wickedly he says, “If I win I choose the prize and if you win you do. Ok?” Meeting his eyes with determination I say, “You’re on.” I can feel the others watching intently and the girls shout out encouragement but are shouted over by the guys. I can see the cocky way that Ash is looking at me and it just makes me even more determined. I line up the ball and focus on the pins. Holding the ball in both hands I focus all of my energy on it. This time I am not playing fair, I owe it to the girls.

I notice that Ash has taken his first throw and watch as he almost gets a strike. Luckily one pin rights itself and he scores 9. I know that he won’t miss the one remaining so I need a strike. I can feel him watching me intently waiting for me to throw. Tuning everyone out I concentrate on the ball and the pins. I line up my shot and push all of my energy into the ball, directing it with my gaze. I throw a perfect ball and watch as the energy I have given it propels it towards the pins. Even before it gets there I know it is a strike and turn to face Ash to watch his face as the pins fall. I know that my job is done as I hear the cheers from the girls and the disappointment from the guys.

Ash smirks at me and raising my eyes up I face him saying, “So I win.” Looking amused he crosses towards me and pulls my face up to his. Looking deeply into my eyes he says softly, “I let you.” Pushing him away I laugh and join my friends who cheer and taunt the guys. It feels so good to put them in their place and we are certainly not going to let them live this down.

 

To celebrate our win I choose that they take us for pizza. As we all squash next to each other in our booths I look around at all of the happy faces. Everyone seems relaxed and stress free. They still get a lot of attention from the other customers but seem oblivious. We are all just a group of High school friends having a good time.

Snuggling closer to Ash I reach for his hand. He kisses me gently whispering, “As soon as we’ve eaten I’m taking you to the Ridge. I want you to myself.” He laughs as he sees my expression. I can’t get enough of him and can’t wait for everyone to finish eating so that we can be alone again.

 

Chapter 41

 

I soon stop worrying about Skylar and Teagan and just enjoy being Ash’s girl. He seems a lot more relaxed and the school seems a happier place. Nobody feels threatened anymore and despite the fact that nobody messes with Ash and his gang there doesn’t appear to be much trouble.

One evening after school I am working at Violet’s. Ash and the guys are eating here tonight and are safely tucked away in the corner. Suddenly I notice his uncle coming through the door and as I look at Ash I can see that he tenses up. I watch as his uncle scans the room and then approaches Ash’s table. Ash is scowling at him and it looks as though they are arguing. Then the gang jump up and leave not looking at anyone as they go. Rushing to the window I see them jump on their bikes and roar off in a cloud of exhaust fumes.

Turning back I see Mr Knight paying their bill and whispering something to Violet. She blushes and he grins at her. Catching hold of the arm of the nearest waitress to their table I ask, “Did you hear what he just said?” Shrugging she looks at me with a bored expression. “Something about a library.”

Fear now washes over me as I hear what she says. No, not the library, surely they wouldn’t. In alarm I race over to Violet. Drawing her to the side I say quickly, “Please Violet, I have to go. Can you spare me for a bit?” Looking surprised Violet can obviously see the panic in my face. “What is it Grace, are you sick?” I am almost crying at the thought of what they may do and almost can’t get the words out. “I need someone to give me a lift, please Violet I wouldn’t ask but it’s an emergency.” Grabbing her keys Violet throws them to Wayne, who works in the bar area. “Wayne take my car and give Grace a lift would you? Then come right back, I’ll cover you until then.” Almost sobbing I hug her. “Thanks Violet, you don’t know how much I appreciate this.”

Quickly I follow Wayne to the car. Jumping in he looks at me. “Where to Grace?” “The library please, and can you get us there as quickly as you can?” Looking worried Wayne drives off and even though the journey only takes about 10 minutes it feels like an hour.

Almost before he can stop I am out of the door and running. I can see the bikes in front of the library and I race over to the entrance. Before I can get there though I am blocked from going in by Lucian. “Sorry Grace, you can’t go in there, strict instructions from Ash, it’s more than my life’s worth to let you.”

I look at him and I can feel the tears running down my face. “Please Lucian, I must go inside you have to let me.” His faces tightens and his eyes narrow. “No Grace, it’s not gonna happen.” I try to push past him but he blocks me so I shout, “Ash come out here, please.” Lucian looks uncomfortable. “He won’t hear you Grace. I’m sorry you’re best just waiting with me, he won’t be long.” Pulling away angrily I race around the back. I know the back way in and all I can think of is my need to get inside.

Reaching the back door I can see that that too is guarded this time by Jace. Standing in front of it blocking my path he looks at me stony faced. “Sorry Grace no can do. No one is going in there not even you.” Tears running down my face I dread what is happening inside. “Please Jace you must let me in.” I can see that it is futile as his face is set in stone and he just looks at me with a hard expression.

Angrily I move away. I feel so helpless. I know that there is nothing I can do. If I call the police the gang would be in trouble and I would never do that to them. There is nobody else in this town who would help me that much is certain. I feel so helpless and sink down on to the ground my head hurting with all of the emotions I am feeling. All I can think of its what’s going on inside the library. Mr Watson will be no match for Ash and his gang and if they hurt him he will be destroyed.

I’m not sure how long I sit here for when I hear the door opening at the front. Sprinting around the side of the building I see Killian coming out followed by Quade. Running towards them I shout, “Let me through.” All I can think of is my need to get inside. If they have hurt Mr Watson then I will do everything in my power to make it right and damn the consequences.

I see the surprise on their faces as they look nervously at each other. Blocking my way they face me looking uncomfortable. Quade says gently, “Grace what are you doing here, you shouldn’t have come?” Angrily I fix him with a withering look. “Just move out of my way, I mean it I’ve had enough of you all telling me what I can and can’t do.”

Before he can answer the door opens and Ash and Jacob come out. Seeing me standing there Ash just laughs and grabs hold of me picking me off my feet and carries me kicking and screaming down the library steps. The others follow in silence and Ash doesn’t stop until we are at the bikes. Depositing me on the back I try to get away but he is too strong and quickly he starts the bike and we are soon racing away closely followed by the others. I feel so angry and worried about what they have done to Mr Watson.

They head back to the diner and as he comes to a stop Ash turns around and looks at me in amusement. This makes me so angry and I glare at him.

He laughs and holds up his hands. “Stop it Grace you’re scaring me.” I do the only thing I can think of and go to punch him wanting to hurt him as he has hurt Mr Watson. Grabbing hold of my arm his eyes glitter dangerously. “Careful little Tess. You’re better than that. Now are you going to tell me what this is all about?”

Looking at him incredulously I shout. “What do you mean, how could you go after Mr Watson? If you have hurt him then I will never forgive you and I mean that.” Suddenly my anger turns itself into grief and huge sobs wrack my body. Holding my hands to my face I cry uncontrollably as I let it all out. I feel Ash pulling me into his chest and I fight to get away. He is too strong and he whispers, “I would never do anything to hurt you and I can’t believe that you thought I would.” Pulling back I look up at him in confusion.

Wiping my tears away with his fingers he smiles softly. “Mr Watson is fine Grace, but ssh don’t tell anyone especially not my uncle.” Looking at him in bewilderment I find my voice. “Then what happened?” Leaning towards me he says softly, “Let’s just say his debt has been paid and leave it at that. We couldn’t let you in because he wanted privacy, not because we had done anything to him. Come to think of it I don’t think that we even touched him.”

I am still confused and my face must look a picture because he laughs and looks towards the diner. “Go and finish your shift Grace. I’ll pick you up later and then you can go and see Mr Watson, I’ll take you.” Looking around I can see the others all leaning on their bikes watching us with interest. They don’t look like they’ve been in a fight and now I am curious as to what just happened. Grinning Ash says, “Go on, get back to work we have things to do.”

Even before I close the door to the diner I hear them roar away. Seeing me coming Violet gestures for me to follow her into the back and once we are safely out of sight of the customers she looks at me with concern. “What was it Grace?” Shaking my head I look at her in confusion. “I don’t know Violet. All I know is that they went to the library and wouldn’t let me in. Mr Knight sent them and I was worried about Mr Watson.”

Violet sighs heavily. “Jake has always hated Mike, it goes way back. He never forgave him for taking Annabelle away from him.” I remember hearing the story but listen with interest to her version. “We all went to school together and Annabelle was a real beauty. Jake was very much like Ash although not quite so dangerous or handsome. He wanted Annabelle but she only wanted Mike. He was really good looking and had a personality to match. They were the golden couple and obviously adored each other. Jake tried everything to split them up but when you find true love it is impossible. There were many fights and he tried all of his devious ways but she was just not interested in him. So instead he set about making their lives a misery. It doesn’t surprise me that it has come to this. Mike was devastated when she died and gave up. Jake saw an opportunity and made sure that nobody helped Mike making it obvious that if anybody did then they would also find things hard. I feel ashamed of this Town, myself included. We watched as the library failed and Mike gave up. You and your Aunt are the only people who have bothered to try. If Ash and his gang have finished the job for his uncle then we all must take some of the blame in not standing up for him.”

To my surprise she wipes a tear from her eye. In a small voice she says, “I am ashamed of myself Grace, it’s probably too late to help him now but I want to try.” Impulsively I hug her. I can feel her surprise as some of the power in me floods through her and I quickly pull away. Looking at me in disbelief she stares at me. “What just happened? I felt different in some way, what just happened?”

Looking away I quickly pretend to adjust my apron. “I don’t know what you mean Violet, maybe you’re coming down with something.” I make for the door angry with myself for letting my guard down. I carry on with my job but can feel her watching me and I know that she felt something and can’t understand it. I must be more careful in future, she can’t ever find out.

Chapter 42

 

By the time my shift finishes the curiosity has well and truly taken hold. I can’t think what has happened and hope that Mr Watson really is ok. When I hear the roar of the bike approaching I almost run outside to meet him. Ash laughs as he sees me coming and as I jump behind him he grins. “Where’s the fire Grace?” Still concerned I pull a face at him. “Hurry up and keep your promise Ash. I won’t let you off the hook until I know that he’s safe.” His eyes flash and darken as he looks into mine. “Careful Grace, I kind of like this new angry you, it excites me.” Then he pulls me towards him and crushes my lips against his. His kiss is powerful and intense and I can feel the fire racing through me exploding in my body. I gasp as he pulls back and feel as if I’m on fire. I can see that his eyes are flashing dangerously and he says, “If I had my way we would be going straight to my bedroom now and I would lock you in for the rest of the night. Laughing he turns away and says over his shoulder, “Come on let’s get this over with and then I may do just that.”

We soon arrive at the library and with trepidation I follow him up the steps. I know that something has happened and it worries me. We push the door open and I am surprised to find that it is unlocked at this late hour. Ash winks at me and I follow him inside.

As I look around me I take in the sight of many large boxes littering the place. Most are filled with books and some are empty. It is obvious that Mr Watson is packing up. Feeling sad I look around at what this place has now become. It was always messy and unorganised and could have done with a good clean, but somehow that always added to its charm for me.

Looking at him sadly I squeeze Ash’s hand. His eyes suddenly cloud over as he sees my expression. “It’s part of life Angel. Nothing can last forever. Sometimes it’s better just to move on.” Nodding I know he is right but it doesn’t make it any easier.

I notice a light on in the room at the back and smiling at me Ash leads me towards it. He pushes open the door and as we enter the room I can see Mr Watson sitting on a stool in the middle of it. As he sees us he looks up and to my surprise he smiles which totally transforms his face. Gone is the worry and tired expression that he has always had. Now his face has relaxed and he looks ten years younger. He has an excitement in his eyes and his eyes sparkle as he looks at us.

I hear Ash laugh quietly as he takes in my astonished expression. “See, I told you he was fine.” Looking between them I notice that they seem comfortable with each other. There is no animosity and dare I even say it, they appear to be friends.

In confusion I look between them and then it registers with me. In front of Mr Watson is a canvas and in his hand is an artist’s board with various colours of paint on it. He is holding a paintbrush and as I look up at him he smiles. “You’re painting again.”

I can’t keep the wonder out of my voice and he nods his head slowly. “Yes Grace I am and it’s all thanks to your boyfriend.” Looking at Ash in surprise he winks at me. “This is between us three. Not even Jacob knows about this. I made sure that only I came into this room this evening and made them all wait outside. Nobody but us must know what I’ve done.” Shaking my head I wonder what he is talking about. “What do you mean, what have you done?”

Nodding to Mr Watson, Ash takes me by the hand and leads me around to stand beside him. I gasp as I see what he is painting and through my tears I look between them. “It’s me.” I can’t believe it. On the canvas is a beautiful painting of me. He has captured my likeness in the most spectacular way. I look happy and beautiful and there is a light shining out and engulfing the painting. I almost can’t speak and choke out, “It’s so beautiful, I can’t believe that you did this, but how..?” Mr Watson looks at Ash before he answers.

“Ash came to me a few weeks ago and asked me to paint this. I wasn’t sure that I could, I mean I haven’t painted anything since…” Breaking off he looks down and swallows hard. Then seemingly collecting himself together he looks up saying, “Once I started painting you though Grace it all came back to me. I got caught up in it and it gave me a new lease of life. Nothing else seemed to matter anymore. We kept it between ourselves as he wanted to give it to you when it was finished. It almost is but when he told me that you were worried that they had hurt me we decided to tell you for everybody’s sake.” As I look between them I feel bad for doubting Ash. Tears filling my eyes I look up at him. “Thank you Ash, it is the most beautiful thing that anyone has ever done for me. I am overwhelmed and I am sorry that I thought badly of you.” Reaching down Ash lifts my face to his. “I love you Grace, you are everything to me and I wanted to give you something to show you.”

He kisses me gently and we almost forget that Mr Watson is here until we hear a discreet cough. Pulling away Ash grins at me as I blush. Then I remember Mr Knight. “But what was that all about with your uncle in the diner. I thought that he had asked you to come here and do some damage?” Angrily Ash nods. “He did. He told me to come and get the money that Mr Watson owed him and if he couldn’t pay then we were to trash everything including him.”

I watch as Mr Watson turns pale. Smiling wickedly Ash laughs. “Well we did come here but there was no need to trash the place because Mr Watson paid up. So you see now his debt is paid and he is off the hook.”

I look between them in surprise. “But how…I mean I thought you were broke?” Mr Watson smiles. “I was Grace, but you see Ash insisted on paying me for the painting. As it happens it was enough to pay off my debts and leave a little over to start again.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. “Where did you get that kind of money from?” Ash raises his eyes up. “Don’t worry Angel it’s all above board. You probably don’t know this but I earn lots of money and very rarely spend it. My uncle pays me well and with the allowance from my father I have amassed rather a lot. This seemed like a perfect solution to all of our problems and I get the satisfaction of getting one over on my uncle, so you see it was worth every penny.”

Suddenly a feeling of such complete and utter love flows through me at what he has done. I am overwhelmed and can’t even speak as I take it all in. Mr Watson is happier than I have ever seen him and looks at us both with so much gratitude.

“I am going to invest the rest of the money in a shop in the town. I am going to open a bookshop selling new and second-hand books. I will also sell my paintings in there and open a coffee shop in the front. So you see Grace, I may need your help still on Saturday mornings, but only if I can pay this time.”

I can’t help it and give him a big hug. Ash looks in alarm as he sees Mr Watson’s expression change as he feels the effects of it. Pulling me away he looks worried and Mr Watson blinks as he looks between us. Softly he says, “Don’t worry; I knew that Grace was special. She tried to hide it but I could tell. I don’t know what it is but I know that she has some form of power inside of her. She reminds me so much of Annabelle. She too had a magical quality and a beauty that captivated everyone that knew her. Grace has a lot more of it though and I promise you both that I will never tell. You both mean too much to me for that.”

I can see Ash relaxing and he takes my hand. “Come on; let’s leave Mr Watson to finish up. I’m taking you home.”

 

Once we reach my Aunt’s house I hold on to him tightly. “Thank you Ash, I love you so much and I can’t believe that I ever thought that you would hurt him.” Kissing me softly Ash strokes my hair. “I am bad Grace, that hasn’t changed. But now I have also found love and that is battling with the anger inside of me. You bring out a new side to me that I never thought was there. I am still adjusting to it and may not always do things in the right way but if it means holding on to you I will change.”

Smiling happily at him I nod towards the house. “Come on, tonight is meatloaf and apple pie night. Let’s just go and be normal for a change.”

We spend another nice normal evening in front of the television. Gabe has gone out with Piper and my Aunt leaves us alone as she tidies up the kitchen. Snuggling together on the couch we sit there watching a movie. This is what it’s all about; I want this to last forever.

Chapter 43

Soon the end of term approaches. Somehow we have managed to survive the year and everyone is looking forward to the summer; that is everyone except for Ash and I.

One evening we sit on the Ridge looking out over the Town. Ash has his arm around me and I can tell that he is preoccupied. Leaning my head against his shoulder I say. “What is it Ash, something’s bothering you I can tell?” With a deep sigh I can feel him tense beside me. “You know what happens in the holidays Grace, I have to go to my father’s and I can’t get out of it. Despite the fact that I won’t see you for three months which is enough to destroy me, I will have to put up with him and his life for all of it.”

Sadly I feel the ache already forming in my heart. “I know. I am going to stay with my guardians and even though I have missed them so much it will be nothing compared to how much I will miss you.”

Drawing me tightly against him Ash groans. “If I could think of a way out of this then I would. We will just have to be strong and hope that the time passes quickly. One more year and then we will both be free to do what we want.”

Jumping up I pull him after me. “Come on, let’s not waste a minute. I’ll race you to the lake.” Laughing he chases after me and then grabbing hold of me lifts me up and jumps into the lake, both of us fully clothed. Squealing I wriggle free and then splash him and try to get my own back. Soon he grabs hold of me and we are kissing as though our life depended on it.

We spend the rest of the evening drying out and looking at the moon and stars as we lay side by side. Three months will soon pass and then nothing can stand in our way again.

 

The last weekend of term means that there is usually a big party to celebrate. This year it is at one of the other kid’s house, a nice girl called Hannah. Everyone is invited and very much looking forward to it, that is everyone but Ash and I. This will be the last time that we are all together until our senior year and tomorrow Ash is going to his father’s and my guardians are picking me up. All we really want to do is spend it together but feel as if we should also spend time with our friends.

Ash picks me up and whistles in appreciation. I have really gone to town and my long blonde hair is brushed to within an inch of its life and hanging loosely down my back. I have make up on to accentuate my bright blue eyes and I am wearing a black dress that clings to my body and high heeled shoes. My locket is firmly around my neck alongside Ash’s heart.

His eyes soften as he sees me coming. “If I couldn’t see that you are wearing that locket, I would think that you had left it behind. You look radiant Grace. I am almost too scared to take you to the party, you take my breath away.”

Grinning at him I wink suggestively. “I just wanted to make sure that you would remember me for the next three months.” Groaning he pulls me towards him. “I am tempted to take off with you on my bike and run away. It will be like a piece of me is missing when I leave tomorrow.” Despite the fact that my heart is heavy I sit behind him and grip hold of him tightly. “Come on, let’s try and have a good time.”

 

By the time we get there I notice that the party is well and truly under way. I can see the other bikes are already there and taking hold of my hand Ash takes me to find the others. I notice that we get many stunned looks from the others at the party. Even though I have made a huge effort Ash is looking incredible. His dark hair is messy from the ride over and his top is hugging his muscular chest, barely disguising what is underneath. He is wearing black jeans that sit low on his hips and his eyes flash with danger and pure sexual energy.

There is probably not a girl here who is not affected by him. He in turn throws angry looks towards any of the guys that he catches staring at me. It probably wasn’t such a good idea to go to town like I did because I notice that many of the guys can’t take their eyes off me. I feel cross that I forgot about it and finger the locket as if it can somehow pull it back in a bit more.

It seems like forever but we finally find our group. Even they can’t seem to tear their eyes away from us and I feel Ash tense up beside me. Squeezing his hand he looks down and I smile gently at him. Leaning in he whispers, “I may have to kill someone tonight if they don’t stop looking at you.” Feeling uneasy I know that this isn’t an empty threat.

Cally hurries over and drags me to one side and I notice gratefully that Jacob distracts Ash’s attention. She looks at me in wonder. “Oh my God Grace what has happened? You look radiant. It’s like the sun is shining out of you.” Blushing I look down. “Don’t be silly Cally, maybe it’s because I washed my hair or something.”

Laughing Cally gestures around us. “All conversation stopped when you two came into the room. I knew you were a hot couple but tonight you are both on fire.” Pushing her playfully I turn to look where the drinks are. Before I can move though Ash plants a drink in my hand and slips his arm around my waist. “You are not leaving my side tonight looking like that.” Cally blushes as he leans down and kisses me and doesn’t stop.

Putting my arms around him the drink falls to the ground as he pushes me against the wall. I’m not even sure how long we kiss for but I feel as though it is all night. I am sure that the temperature has increased to boiling point in the room and by the time we pull apart I notice that there are several people looking a bit stunned around us.

Ash laughs and pulls me on to his knee and then proceeds to laugh and joke with his friends.

Looking around me I see Cally cuddled up next to Jacob and think how lucky they are. Jacob will be working for his father this summer and Cally is working for her Aunt. They get to stay in town and spend the summer together.

Spying Piper and Gabe in the distance I laugh as I can see them making out on the dance floor. Some things never change. Gabe is going to be playing football all summer and Piper is off on vacation with her folks. They will have some time together though and I wonder if they will move their relationship on by the time the next semester starts. I admire them for holding out though.

Snuggling in to Ash I worry about him. He dreads spending time with his father and by all accounts always come back in a terrible mood. I can’t imagine what goes on there and push the thoughts firmly out of my mind.

I am looking forward to spending time with Aria and John. They have told me that they have planned a vacation and have lined up a summer job for me in a nearby shop. I will miss Aunt Sarah and Gabe though. Thinking about Aunt Sarah I laugh to myself. Since Mr Watson opened his new shop she has been helping him almost every day. They don’t know that we know but both Gabe and I watch them trying to hide their feelings for each other with amusement. It’s only a matter of time before they are a couple that much I do know. I still can’t believe that Ash did what he did. Nobody ever did find out and I feel happy at the thought that he won over Mr Knight. He no longer has any hold over Mr Watson as the shop he rents isn’t one of his.

Time moves on and Ash whispers, “Let’s go and spend the rest of our last night alone. I need to make the most of you to keep me going for the next three months.” Saying goodbye we jump up to leave. Jacob pulls Cally up and moving next to Ash grins. “We’re leaving too. Probably got the same idea as you.” They grin at each other and Cally raises her eyes up.

Linking arms with me we walk ahead of them. We can hear them fooling around behind us and Cally grins. “We’ve had the best year ever Grace haven’t we?” Nodding I laugh happily. “What ever happened to the invisibles?” Grinning she looks at me and raises her eyes. “Not so invisible now are we. Who’d have thought?” As we head outside we can’t stop giggling.

All of a sudden though I hear someone shouting my name as though in slow motion. Turning my head in the general direction it all becomes blurred as I hear the sound of screeching tyres and feel myself being propelled forwards through the air. My face hits the ground and a sudden pain rushes through me. Then I hear the screaming and it doesn’t stop.

I hear a car moving away and it seems like ages before I can lift my head. I feel somebody pulling me up and all I can hear is somebody screaming. Opening my eyes I see Ash looking down at me tears running down his face.

“Grace, please speak to me are you ok?” As my body adjusts to his words I realise that I am. I can feel a pain in my head and my face hurts but otherwise I feel fine. Sitting up I suddenly see a heap on the ground behind me. Looking in horror I make out a leather jacket and see Cally screaming and crying as she holds on to Jacob who is lying motionless on the floor.

Pushing Ash away I crawl over to them and look at him lying there. He is out cold and frantically I feel for a pulse. I can’t find it and look at Ash in agony. His tears are falling quickly and I know that I haven’t got much time.

Looking at him I whisper, “I can help him Ash.” Looking destroyed Ash shakes his head. “He can’t be dead he can’t be. He saved you both we have to save him.” Cally screams again and I notice that the rest of the gang have arrived and are staring in disbelief. Ash shields me from them and shouts angrily. “Jace, get Cally out of here and keep everyone away.” Jace carries Cally kicking and screaming and the others create a wall separating us from the others their backs to us.

Looking at me with a tortured expression Ash says, “I can’t lose you or him, what can we do? If they find out your secret I will never see you again.”

Shaking my head I look at him in agony. “We don’t have a choice, I have to do this.” Suddenly Ash shouts, “Nobody turn around and don’t let anyone in otherwise I swear on my life I will kill you all.”

Looking at Jacob I know that he is almost gone. Quickly I remove the locket and feel myself escaping. With one last look at Ash I hold my hands over Jacob’s heart and bend towards his lips. I breathe in through his mouth and let my energy fill him. Once I know that he has been filled I breathe out, sucking the pain and the injury with it until I can feel it flowing through me. I keep on going battling with the feeling that it creates in me. As my life changes with his I feel myself falling. I hold on for as long as I can until I can feel no more. Then there is nothing.

Chapter 44

 

3 months later

 

As I see my Aunt racing towards me I drop my bags and rush to meet her. Gabe is close behind her and we are soon all hugging each other and crying, maybe not Gabe though, but he is emotional. Aria and John follow behind and smile happily at the scene in front of them.

Wiping her eyes Aunt Sarah puts her arm in mine and we head off into the house. Summer is over and I have returned to finish High school. The memory of what happened is still fresh though and feels as if it were yesterday.

I was out for two months. I woke up in a strange hospital bed with Aria and John by my side. As the events came rushing back to me Aria held on to me and told me what had happened.

Apparently a car had been heading towards Cally and I and Jacob had seen it and pushed us out of the way. He was hit instead and it was because of what I did that he survived. Nobody found out who I was because Ash had shielded me and they all thought that I had been hit and Jacob had just a few cuts and bruises. Even Cally thought this was the case as she had been so shocked that she didn’t register what had actually happened. That is why I am here now. My secret is still safe and all anyone knew was that I was taken to hospital and discharged the next day.

In reality I was taken to a hospital out of town where no questions would be asked. I was in a coma for two months whilst my body dealt with Jacob’s injuries. The first I knew about it was when I came round and my guardians told me what had happened.

I have spent the last month recuperating with them and now feel well and truly back to normal and am looking forward to the year ahead.

As we go inside Gabe looks at me with an anxious expression. “Are you really ok Grace? We didn’t see you before you disappeared from the hospital. We were worried about you.” Smiling gently at him I nod my head. “I was fine, just a few cuts and bruises and some concussion. How about Jacob, how is he?” Looking thoughtful Gabe shrugs. “He just had a few scratches on him. He’s the town hero now though and Cally hasn’t left him alone all summer.”

Laughing I can just picture it. I am looking forward to seeing them all again. Then my heart flutters and I whisper, “Have you heard anything about Ash?” Shaking his head Gabe looks worried. “He’s due back tomorrow that much I do know. It’s never good when he gets back from his fathers though. It takes him ages to settle down so don’t be surprised if he’s changed.” I say nothing but almost can’t contain the excitement that I am feeling at the thought of seeing him again. He is all that I have thought of since I woke up and the last month has dragged intolerably.

 

We spend a lovely evening all together back home where I now feel that I belong. I love my guardians but I also love my new found family. All I need now is Ash.

 

The next day I wake up and remember where I am. It feels good to be back in my own bed in my own room. As my eyes focus I see the painting that Mr Watson did of me hanging on the wall in front of me. My eyes fill with tears as I remember what Ash did for him and I can’t wait to see how his new shop is coming on and start working for him again. However all of that can wait because Ash is back today and I need to get ready.

Today is the first day back at school. I am not sure if Ash will be there as I think that he is back some time today so Gabe is taking me in. Quickly I get ready and my Aunt fusses over us making sure that we eat breakfast. I realise just how much I have missed this and feel so happy as the year stretches out in front of me.

Soon it is time to go and I follow Gabe outside. I jump into the passenger seat and wave at my Aunt. Gabe jumps in beside me and to my surprise just turns to face me. “Not today Grace,” he says grinning at me. Looking at him in surprise he points behind us and as I turn around I see him waiting for me, leaning against his motorbike watching me intently.

Scrambling out of the car I run towards him as fast as I can. Tears are blinding me as he holds out his hands and catches me as I fall into his arms. Lifting me up he kisses me so deeply that I feel overcome.

There is a desperation and a longing in both of us and we don’t appear to be able to stop. I hear Gabe’s car drive past and hear his laughter but I still can’t pull away. It’s as though we have been starved of life and need to carry on to make up for the lost months.

Finally we pull apart and I just stare at him taking in every inch of his beautiful face. His eyes darken and draw me in and he says softly, “I’ve missed you so much Angel. There is not a minute of every day that I haven’t thought of you. When I think of what might have happened it breaks my heart.” Pulling him tightly against me I just cling on to him loathe to let him go. “I missed you so much Ash. This has been torture and I am not sure if I can even let you go to go to school. I just want to stay like this all day.” He laughs and holds me against him just as tightly.

We stand like this for ages and then reluctantly head off to school. As I feel him against me as I ride behind him it feels as if I have come home. It doesn’t matter what happens now, we are together again and that’s all I care about.

 

 

The End

 

If you have enjoyed this book I would be extremely grateful if you could leave me a review to encourage others to read it. I very much appreciate every one and there is nothing more exciting than reading what people have to say about my work.

 

Sharon x

 

 

 

The Story Continues.

Read on for a taster.

 

 

Falcondell

Part 2

Senior Year

(Retribution)

 

Chapter One

“Well what time do you call this Miss Gray and Mr Knight? School started twenty minutes ago and you are both late. Not the best of starts to your senior year, don’t you agree?” Principal Adams looks at us both with a frown but I can see the sparkle in her eyes which makes me relax. Without even looking at Ash I know that he won’t care and is probably looking at her with his usual air of boredom.

Coughing nervously I smile apologetically. “I am sorry Principal Adams. We lost track of the time. I know that it’s unforgivable and I promise you it won’t happen again.” Waving her hands towards the door she sighs and raises her eyes. “Go on hurry up. You can collect your schedules from the main office and then get to your classes. You are just lucky that I am feeling generous today. If it happens again I might not be as forgiving.”

Pulling Ash along behind me I head off quickly to the main office. I daren’t look at him because if I do I know that he is just as likely to drag me into a vacant classroom or changing room. We have been without each other for three whole months and have a lot of catching up to do. That is the reason for our lateness. He picked me up this morning from my Aunt’s house and it took a lot to prise ourselves away from each other and get to school.

We grab our schedules from the secretary and realise that we have different classes. Leaning towards me Ash whispers, “You may escape me for a few more hours Grace but then you are mine and this time I am never letting you go.”

I melt into him, longing for him just to pull me close and never let me go and if I could somehow attach myself to him forever I would.

Pulling back I look up at him and his eyes glitter with excitement. He tilts my face to his and brushes his lips against mine and whispers, “I love you Grace, I always will. Now stop leading me astray you troublemaker and get to class. You always were a temptress, I can see that nothing has changed.” Pushing him away I head off to my first lesson, his laughter following me down the hallway.

 

My first lesson is maths and as I push open the classroom door I feel as if I have come home. My classmates look up and grin at me and Mr Scott looks at me and frowns. “Miss Gray good of you to join us. Sit down and make sure that you see me at the end.”

I scurry to my seat and grin in delight as I see Cally smiling broadly at me. We don’t get the chance to speak as Mr Scott is not one to mess with so have to push our need to catch up to one side. Despite the fact that I have missed out on seeing my friends before school I wouldn’t have changed it for anything. I saw the most important person in my life and wouldn’t want it any other way.

By the time I finally leave the classroom only Cally is waiting for me. Running up to me she squeals loudly. “Grace I’ve missed you so much. It’s been forever since…” Her face falls and tears come into her eyes. Hugging her I smile softly. “Let’s not think about the accident Cally. It’s in the past and that’s where it should remain. All that matters is that we are all here to tell the tale and have the best year ahead of us.”

She smiles and hugs me tightly. “We have missed you Grace. Where were you this morning? We waited for you for ages. Gabe told us that you were coming with Ash.” I grin and she rolls her eyes. “Five minutes in and he is already leading you astray. I don’t blame you though. If I hadn’t seen Jacob for three months I wouldn’t be here now, that much I do know.” Linking her arm in mine she grins, “Come on let’s go and find Piper.”

We reach the lockers and Piper comes running over. “Grace, thank God you’re back. This summer has been so long without you in it.” Grinning I can’t resist teasing her. “I’m sure that my gorgeous cousin filled the void. How are things with you two?” Piper grins. “We’ve had the best summer ever. I think that I am more in love with Gabe now than I was before it started. In fact there isn’t a day that goes past without me seeing him.” Laughing I turn to Cally. “How is Jacob? I never got to see him after the accident, but I’ve heard that you played the nurse extremely well.” Cally laughs. “Just a few cuts and bruises. I can’t believe he saved us from that car though. He is such a hero and I couldn’t love him any more than I do.”

We are interrupted by the sound of a locker slamming shut and as we turn my stomach ties up in knots as I see Skylar glaring at us. She is an imposing sight and looks amazing. Her long dark hair is gleaming and her piercing grey eyes shoot daggers at us, me in particular. She slowly moves our way and stands in front of us with an evil look on her face. “Well well, look what the cat dragged in. I had hoped that your stay here was at an end. Oh well never mind it’s not as if I care what you do with yourself anymore anyway. You see you did me a favour when you stole my two timing boyfriend from me.” She pushes forward until her face is inches from mine and hisses. “I have moved on with a real man that would eat you and yours for breakfast. So enjoy your little clique whilst it lasts because there’s a new guy in town and he doesn’t take any prisoners. Oh and did I mention the fact that he’s my boyfriend and would do anything that I ask him to.”

She sneers, “So watch out nerds, we’re coming for you.” Pulling away she flicks her hair over her shoulder saying, “Good to catch up girls. I’ll be seeing you, you can count on it.” She pushes roughly past me and the three of us just stare after her as she saunters down the hall.

Piper looks at us with fear in her eyes. “Oh my God. I thought that was all behind us. It seems like she hasn’t forgotten though. What are we going to do?” Cally looks worried. “This isn’t good. If Ash and Jacob hear about this there will be trouble that much I do know. Who do you think her new boyfriend is?” Piper shrugs and shakes her head and I say, “I don’t know. Have you heard anything? I mean she must have met him during the summer. Do you think he goes to Falcondell?”

They both shake their heads. Cally says with a worried voice, “No, I haven’t heard anything; maybe Teagan knows?” I look at her in surprise. “She wouldn’t tell us anything; she hates us as much as Skylar does.” A look passes between them and Cally shrugs. “There’s something you don’t know Grace. Teagan and Skylar have fallen out big time, probably over Teagan’s new boyfriend.” I am now extremely confused. “What are you talking about who is he then?” Piper lowers her voice. “You’re not going to believe this Grace but Teagan and Lucian have become an item. The girls in this school are devastated. As you know Lucian has always shied away from committing to a girl, preferring to play the field instead. It appears though that he has fallen heavily for Teagan and I must admit I have never seen her as happy as she is with him.”

I look at Cally who shrugs. “I am glad that she is with him. It makes me feel a bit better and I have to admit that she and I have become quite friendly over the Summer. She is actually really nice and now that she is away from Skylar she has relaxed and I think that you will like her. Lucian treats her as though she is made of china and they are so much in love you can tell.”

As I digest the information the bell rings for the next period. We quickly rush off; one late class today is enough and I don’t want to get into any more trouble.

Chapter Two

 

Soon the bell rings for lunch and I feel excited to spend an hour with Ash. The thought has kept me going through the morning and I quickly grab my books and head for the door. Cally falls in beside me and smiles knowingly. “Well obviously we’re not going to see much of you this lunchtime Grace. Just remember to eat something won’t you.” I laugh and push her playfully. “I don’t know what you mean Cally.”

We head off outside to find the guys and the heat of the day hits us as soon as we step outside. I can see them in the distance, in fact it would be hard to miss them. There is not a sexier bunch of guys than them and there in the middle of them all is the sexiest one of all, my boyfriend.

As I look at him my heart swells with pure love for him. He is leaning back on the grass, his back against the tree. His T shirt clings to his body like a second skin and leaves nothing to the imagination and he stares around him with a brooding expression. I see him laugh at something that Quade says and his face relaxes and even from here I see his eyes glitter with excitement.

As I look at him I feel the love fill my entire body. He is perfection and I couldn’t love him any more than I do. Grabbing hold of Cally I head towards him as quickly as I can.

As we approach though I am suddenly aware of the stares. His friends look up at us and I see the shock on their faces. They appear mesmerised and can’t tear their eyes away from us. Cally slows beside me and turns to face me and I see the same expression mirrored in her face. A hand flies up to her mouth. “Oh my God Grace, what has happened to you?” I look at her nervously and then suddenly I see Ash heading towards us looking extremely angry. He says something that I can’t quite hear and his gang look away. I look at him with confusion and as he reaches me he grabs hold of my hand and pulls me away. He moves quickly and pulls me after him until we are out of sight of everyone around the back of the building.

Pushing me against the wall he looks at me furiously. “Did you forget something Grace?” I look at him in confusion. “What are you talking about, what’s going on?” He lifts his hand to my neck and then finds the locket that I am wearing. He looks surprised and then worried. “This is not working Grace. I thought that you must have forgotten to wear it. As soon as you walked outside it was as though you brought the sun. I have seen you in your true form but not the guys. What the hell is happening?”

Looking down at the locket I feel confused. It’s meant to protect me from myself but obviously something isn’t right. Tears come into my eyes and I look at Ash in dismay. His eyes darken and he pulls me against him. “How can I protect you when you look like this Grace? It’s not safe for you out there. What are we going to do about it hey gorgeous?” He pulls away and kisses me gently on the lips. My legs feel weak and I lean against him. “I’m sorry Ash. The trouble is I have missed you so much and when I saw you underneath the tree my feelings overwhelmed me. I think that the love I have for you intensified within me and the locket couldn’t keep up. I am sure that it will soon adjust, I’m sorry to be so much trouble.” He strokes my face and looks at me with so much love. “I’ve missed you Grace so much that it hurts. When I think of what might have happened. I could have lost you forever and the thought of it is like a dagger to my heart.” I pull him close. “Let’s not think about what could have been; all that matters is that we came through it and are together again.” Once again he kisses me deeply and passionately and I cling to him as if he is the air that I breathe.

After a while we pull apart and he grins at me. “Come on, you almost look normal now; let’s go and find the others. We have a lot of catching up to do.” Taking my hand he leads me back towards the gang. He squeezes my hand and as we approach I see the guys look up at us nervously. Ash sits down, his back against the tree and pulls me in front of him and wraps his arms around me. Grabbing a drink from his bag he opens it and as he gives it to me he whispers, “This should cool you down Angel.” Gratefully I take it and then look around me with interest.

I can see Jace sitting with Polly nearby. She looks around her with a dead pan expression as usual and Jace is laughing at something that Quade says. Indie is also laughing as she sits next to him his arm slung around her shoulders. Killian and Paisley are kissing as are Cally and Jacob.

Laughing to myself I think that some things never change. However it is with the most interest that I look at Lucian and Teagan. He has his arm around her and is whispering something in her ear. Her eyes light up and she giggles, shifting even closer to him. Ash leans down and whispers, “Been a few changes whilst we’ve been away.” I look up at him raising my eyes. “Are you as surprised as I am?” He laughs softly. “Not really; it was only a matter of time before someone tied Lucian down. Teagan must have something to be the one to do it, that’s all I’m gonna say.” He leans down and kisses me gently and I shift closer to him. Pulling away he traces the contours of my face saying huskily, “We’ve got a lot of time to catch up on later Angel. This evening you’re all mine and I’m gonna show you just how much I’ve missed you.” He laughs as he sees my face flush.

Jacob calls over. “Good to see you Grace. How are you after what happened?” Turning to look at him I smile gratefully. “I’m fine thank you Jacob. I must say I am extremely grateful to you for pushing Cally and I out of the way of that car. If it hadn’t have been for you we wouldn’t be here now.”

Jacob smiles and looks embarrassed. “It was nothing Grace. I just reacted to the situation; anyone else would have done the same.” I notice that we now have the attention of everyone. Jace shouts over, “I’m not gonna lie Grace, I thought you were a gonner. Did anyone ever find out who was in that car?” I feel Ash tense up behind me as Killian says, “No, it all happened so quickly and it was gone before we even got to the scene. Did you see anything Ash?” They all look at Ash and he looks at them with a dark expression. “Like Killian says, it all happened so quickly. One thing I do know though is I will find out and when I do they will pay for what they did.” I can sense the mood changing around me. Suddenly there is an air of uncertainty and anticipation. I see Jace look suddenly excited and Killian and Jacob look ominous. Lucian looks around with an alert expression and the girls in the group have fear in their eyes.

As I look over at Cally she looks at me fearfully. I have no doubt in my mind that Ash will find out and I can only hope that whoever it was is as far away from here as they can get, because once Ash is angry there will be no stopping him.

 

Falcondell

Part 2

Senior Year

(Retribution)

 

A Gift for you:

As a thank you for reading go to my website to download a bonus chapter. Download Ash’s Story from my website. You will find it in the menu at the top of the page under free downloads.

 

Bonus Chapter

 

Also available free from my website what happens the Summer before Falcondell

 

 

Scarlett – The Devil’s Daughter

 

 

Scarlett Knight comes from a family of nightmares. She hates them all with a passion and has to spend her whole Summer playing happy families. Due to a deal made between her parents she lives with her mother but has to spend the holidays with her father and her much hated half brothers and sisters. Luckily for her though her father has found her a summer job at a local bar and it is here that Scarlett finds a place where she belongs. Drake and Dylan Bennigan are the family she never had. She falls in love with them both but one of them becomes a lot more. However her father had an ulterior motive for getting her the job and she soon discovers that things are not as straightforward as she first thought. Suddenly she is caught between her family and her new found friends. She will have to act quickly to save them from her father’s plans. However he is not the sort of person you would want to upset so it will take all of her cunning and manipulation to carry out her plan. This turns out to be a Summer that none of them will ever forget.

 

 

 

 

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Falcondell (The Devil's Son)

New school, new family, new life? Having moved around all of her life Grace longs to settle down and live life as a normal girl. The trouble is she is far from normal and is protecting a secret that must never be discovered. So who’s great idea was it to send her to live in a town rooted in fear and at the mercy of the Knight family? Jake Knight rules the town through violence and intimidation and nobody gets in his way. His nephew Ash is the leader of the most feared gang in the area and is used to getting what he wants. It’s never difficult for him as there is not a hotter guy around than him and he just takes whatever or whoever he wants. Grace has other ideas though and vows to keep well hidden from him by joining the “Invisibles.” With her cousin Gabe as her protector she cannot fail - or so she thinks. However Ash soon discovers that not everything in life is easy and he finds himself in unfamiliar territory. Fighting demons of his own he is drawn to Grace like a moth to a flame. His evil girlfriend Skylar is not about to let him go easily and you would not want to get on the wrong side of her. No, High school is never easy and what happens at Falcondell is the stuff of nightmares. If you like a good High school romance with a bad boy to die for then this is for you. Can somebody who is so good ever be with somebody who is completely evil? Ash and Grace are at opposite sides of the spectrum and this year changes them both forever.

  • ISBN: 9781370300402
  • Author: S J Crabb
  • Published: 2016-08-02 16:50:21
  • Words: 71675
Falcondell (The Devil's Son) Falcondell (The Devil's Son)