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Kiss

KISS

 

Tempestuous Series Book One

By Jalissa Pastorius

KISS

 

Copyright 2016 by Jalissa Pastorius

 

Published by Jalissa Pastorius at Shakespir

 

 

Cover Design by Jalissa Pastorius

 

 

This novelette is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places, and events portrayed in this novel are products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. All rights reserved; the right to reproduce this book or any portion thereof in any form whatsoever in any country whatsoever without the express permission of the author is forbidden.

 

 

***

 

 

Shakespir Edition License Notes

 

 

Thank you for downloading this eBook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

Acknowledgements

For those who dare to dream, embrace their nightmares and face adversity.

 

Title Page

Copy Right

Acknowledgements

1 Crushing on You

2 Butterflies in My Stomach

3 Date…ish

4 Secret Meetings and Wishes

5 Hollywood Elite

6 Racing Heart

7 I Won’t Fall for You

8 Lose Control

9 Innocent Rose

10 Torn

11 Kisses and Fireworks

12 Love Square?

13 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

14 Falling for the Wrong Guy

15 Rendezvous at Midnight…It’s A Promise

16 Boys Are Stupid!

17 Hollywood Unveiled

18 Shattered

Epilogue

Other Books: Dragon’s Secrets

Prologue

Enters Layla

Sorceress Dilemma

Lies and Deceit

The Chase Begins

About the Author

 

 

1

Crushing on You

 

 

She sat in the yard pulling the petals off a sunflower. The sky was clear and the wind played with the wisps that managed to escape her ponytail. She could hear the birds tweeting, singing a beautiful song that a masterful song weaver of nature could only comprehend. The petals were soft to her fingers, and she watched as the bright yellow petals floated away from her, dancing in the wind like a gypsy would. She looked curiously at the remaining petals. If she remembered correctly, there was a forgotten story that told of the sunflower’s history.

Her dad was quite the artist and dreamer. He was always telling her everything had a story, and never take something at face value. She smiled as she recalled the story of the sunflower. It was a tale of unrequited love. A water nymph had fallen in love with the Sun God also known as Apollo, but he did not return her love. He never noticed the feelings she had for him and fell in love with a water god’s daughter. The nymph continued to watch the sun god for his beauty stunned her; she did this without any proper nourishment and eventually turned into a sunflower. It reminded her of her non-existent relationship with Axel. He was the most popular guy in school and the girls were practically throwing themselves at him. She really needed to get over her so called crush.

“Iris!”

“Coming mom,” sighing she tossed the remains of the sunflower onto the grass where it remained forgotten like the water nymph.

She entered through the sun room only to hear her mother grumble about dreamers. Iris thought it was pretty funny since her dad was an artist, and spent majority of his time in his studio working on masterpieces. Her dad reminded her of a wanderer. He was always looking for the next adventure. She wondered if he ever thought he made a sacrifice by staying with her and mom. It brought an image of a wilting flower to mind. Her dad wouldn’t wilt though, because she would the sun that kept his day bright and mother no matter how insufferable she may seem at times would be the water that kept him nourished.

“Where’s dad?” she asked.

“You know he’s in the studio being destructive as usual. Oh Iri, look at you.”

“What?” she asked looking down at her shorts. There was a layer of dirt that covered her skin from being outside but she didn’t think it was noticeable, until you looked at the dirt imbedded underneath her fingernails. It didn’t matter how hard she tried. Dirt always found a way to her. Nature was conspiring against her once again.

“You’re covered in dirt and grass stains.”

“Mom, I can go take a shower.”

“That’s not the point. I just wish, oh never mind,” her mother said spotting the look on her daughter’s face.

Iris already knew what she wanted to say. She couldn’t understand her mother’s disposition. Iris wasn’t that girl. The overly popular girl her mother wanted her to be. She enjoyed spending her time surrounded by nature taking in the wonders of the world and learning its secrets. She had a birthday coming up in a few days, and while most kids desired cars for their seventeenth birthdays, Iris wanted a horse. She wanted to race towards the horizon with the beast and feel wild an untamed. She’d been begging her parents for one, but knowing her mother she probably had her hopes set on buying Iris a car.

“I’ll tell you what. Why don’t you go take a shower and we can go get a manicure.”

“Okay,” she said smiling. She held in the sigh that wanted to escape through her lips, but she really couldn’t deny her mother. She would rather be in the studio with her dad reading a book that would take her on an adventure while he worked.

“Maybe we can go to the salon too and get something done to your hair.”

“Not on your life mom. I like my wavy hair.”

“But it’s so long, how about getting it cut?”

“No mom!” she said running towards the back. She thought her hair was her best feature other than her light brown eyes. A woman’s hair represented her strength, well at least it did in the novels she read. The girl would be the main protagonist in the story and she would defeat her enemies. The heroine always had long hair and in the action books she read, women often hid weapons in their hair. It was definitely cool.

Rushing to her room she jumped into the shower. The hot water pummeled her skin and gave her more time alone with her thoughts. She had great parents even though her mom was pushy. It had been getting worse lately and Iris didn’t understand why. She jumped out of the shower and grabbed an outfit. She ached to put on a nice pair of jeans and a tee shirt, but she could see the disappointment flaring up in her mother’s eyes so she gave in once again by putting on a nice white summer dress that hugged her upper body, and flared out at the hips. Throwing on a pair of red three inch pumps and grabbing her black clutch completed the outfit.

 

When she saw the joy in her mother’s eyes Iris knew she made the right decision.

“You look gorgeous! Iri!” her mother complimented. Iris fought the blush as it worked its way up her neck. Must fight it.

“You should definitely invite some of your friends over.”

Iris frown slightly at her mother. Inviting her friends over was a no go. They were a group of nice girls at times, but they could be downright crude and she didn’t like it. If they ever found out she was loaded, she would skyrocket to popularity so fast her head would spin, and she did not want to be in the spot light. She saw what it did to people. It changed them and not for the better. Her father was a world renowned artist and her mother was one of the top heart surgeons in the country. They lived in a home that cost millions of dollars. She was grateful that her father put his foot down demanding something out in the country with lots of acreage. Iris knew she would’ve shriveled up and died had she been living in the city like her mother wanted.

“Maybe some other time,” she said to her mother as she plastered a smile on her face and followed her out the door.

 

2

Butterflies in My Stomach

 

 

Iris and her mother took their usual seats at the nail salon. Iris smiled as her mother did all the chattering with the manicurist.

“Iris you should try the gel nails, it’s all the rave.”

Iris sighed. She knew this was coming. Her mother had been trying to get her to try it for ages. She just didn’t see what all the hype was about. She preferred her natural nails. She saw the flash of disappointment in her mother’s eyes once again and cave.

“Fine.”

 

I’m such a pushover.

 

She was starting to think her mom wanted her to be a glass doll.

“Are there any interesting guys at school?” her mom asked her. Iris immediately fought the blush that threaten to sweep her face. She had the biggest crush on Axel. He was the most popular guy in school and all the girls were crushing on him. He had raven colored hair and a pair of the lightest blue eyes she’d ever seen. He made her heart melt.

 

No. No. No! Why was she asking me about boys? I’m practically invisible. He probably doesn’t even know I’m alive. I’m not even sure of my feelings. It’s not like there’s butterflies in my stomach or anything. It’s just a phase. I’ll get over it. Oh no! I’m sweating. Damn. Keep cool.

 

“Not really,” she said avoiding eye contact with her mother. Axel intrigued her. It wasn’t his popular status or his good looks, okay that may have something to do with it; but it was those moments when she saw him alone and pain reflected in his eyes. He was human just like everyone else. She often wondered if popularity came at a cost. Oh well not her business.

“What about college? Do you know what you want to study?”

It was a good question. She was only sixteen but she often thought about the future. The only thing that called her was nature; maybe she could go into agriculture. She didn’t have a clue.

“I don’t know. I like nature. Maybe I could be a marine biologist or go into agriculture.”

“Those are interesting things. You don’t want to go into medical field?”

Iris really didn’t have a remote of interest in the medical field. Why would she?

“Baby, you could try, especially with that IQ of yours.”

“Maybe,” she said to placate her mother. She couldn’t wait to be done so she can hide away in dad’s studio. It made her think about Axel. She wondered what his parents were like and what he did in his spare time. If her mom ever found out she was crushing on a guy she would die.

Iris already had the figure of an adult woman. She blamed her voluptuous mother. She’d been as her mother would call it blessed with the same curves. She had round hips and wore a D cup bra. She knew there were girls out there who would kill for a body like hers, but honestly they could have it. If she got any bigger in the chest area she was going to be cursed with back problems.

 

Her mother decided to stop at a grocery store to her horror. She hoped, she didn’t run into any of her classmates. They probably wouldn’t recognize her anyway. Somehow this idea was supposed to cheer her up but it immediately caused her to sink into a slight depression. School sucked anyway…stupid stereotypes. Exiting the store she was ready to scream for joy, when a woman collapsed on her way into the store. Naturally her mother’s response as a doctor was to go aid the woman.

She watched as her mother reached for the woman. She turned the woman on her side and told Iris to call 911. Iris did as she was told. They were starting to get a lot of attention.

“Stand back, I’m a doctor,” her mother yelled as she started to pull her stethoscope out of her purse. Iris had no ideal her mother carried such tools in her purse. She had a small first aid kit too. Was that thing connected to the wizarding world?

Her mother reported all of the woman’s stats and information to the emergency personnel when they arrived. Iris watched as the woman grasped her mother’s hand and asked her to stay. What the hell was this? Where was she supposed to go? The woman on the stretcher then pointed at someone else Iris hadn’t noticed. It was her son.

Axel Rotterdam.

 

 

 

 

She sat in the passenger side of the car as he drove behind the ambulance towards the hospital. Iris had dreamt of this moment forever; somehow it wasn’t exactly what she hoped for. She wanted to fill the silence, but what should she say?

 

Gosh I’m such an idiot. He’s hotter in person and up close. Sheesh. The flames of hell are licking at my heels.

 

Axel’s eyes slanted over toward the gorgeous girl beside him. He’d never seen her before. Her amber colored eyes gazed cautiously at him before returning to her lap. Did she go to his school? She had beautiful blond hair that matched the woman who provided emergency care for his mother. Axel was terrified of his mother going into an episode. She was sick. He didn’t want to think about it, so he asked a question to fill the silence.

“What school do you go to?”

“Same as you,” she replied back effortlessly. This was new. He wasn’t used to being treated with indifference when it came to women. Axel had been around the block a time or two.

“How come I’ve never seen you before?” he asked perplexed.

“You have. I’m just not usually dressed this way. This little ensemble was to please my mother.”

“I would have remembered your face if I’ve seen it.” He definitely understood about the whole parental thing where they try to impose their will upon you. Parents always chuck it up to them knowing what’s best for you. Axel called it bull crap.

“Look, I’m sorry about your mom,” she whispered.

“Yeah me too.”

Axel swore he would find out who the girl was in school.

“Can I give you my number?” he asked her. He wanted to slap himself. Why would he ask? Most guys would just write it down and slip it to her, but he instinctively knew that wouldn’t work with this girl.

“I don’t know, can you? You’re just infatuated with what you see now. This isn’t the true me. This is who my mother wants me to be. Find me at school and then…maybe I’ll take your number,” she said smiling at him.

He pulled up to the emergency entrance and parked the car. He really looked at her and his heart stumbled in his chest. She had the most carefree smile he’d ever seen. It was a very unique smile. He’d like to think she reserved it just for him.

“Deal.”

They both exit the vehicle and preceded towards the hospital where chaos was bound to ensue.

3

Date…ish

 

 

Iris watched in amazement as doctors, nurses, rushed towards Axel. He was practically a celebrity there. It was startling to see him go from the nice charming boy, to this figure that everyone wanted to associate with. She stood off to the side.

 

People couldn’t help themselves. He was one piece of hot ass. C’mon look at those bulging, lithe muscles underneath that stubborn fabric called clothes. He was tall too, and I’m always a sucker for tall guys.

 

There was no way she’s going near him. Spotting her mother she rushed towards her.

“Mom!”

“Over here honey!”

“What’s going on?” she asked with wide eyes. Was it selfish to say she wanted to go home and hang out with her dad?

“That’s Mrs. Rotterdam. She’s doing much better.”

“What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s very sick dear and has a heart condition.”

“Can’t you fix her?”

“It’s not that easy. Let’s go before someone recognizes me.”

“I thought you like that stuff mom.”

“Not when I’m off duty. Hurry your dad should be pulling up.”

They got into the car and soon Iris’ thoughts were filled with Axel. Why didn’t she take his number? Her hormones and heart said yes, but her mind said no. She was so stupid at times. She probably was the only girl in the school that turned down the guy. She wondered how long his mother had been sick.

Once she made it home, Iris raced upstairs to her room to get out of the dress she’d been wearing. She wanted to go hang out in her dad’s studio. There was always something going on in there. She walked and looked slowly through her father’s work. There were sketches, paintings, and even models. She loved all of his work. Some of his work was abstract and then there were the faces of people he would draw. Her dad had an uncanny ability to capture the emotions in the person’s eyes; it was like they were looking at her.

She inherited her dad’s artistic ability, but she was always gazing off into the sunset to do anything about it, however since meeting Axel she wanted to paint those pain filled eyes.

 

It wasn’t that morbid…was it?

 

She grumbled to herself setting the painting down. She wanted to be swept away in a passionate romance. She giggled perhaps her mother was right. She did spend quite amount of time surrounded by books. Iris picked up a sketchbook absentmindedly and began sketching eyes that had become the center of her universe. Would he remember her? Would he find her? Gah! She should have taken his number when she had the chance. She groaned slamming her head into her sketchbook.

 

I’m such a dope. How could I miss such an opportunity? I mean he was right there, I could practically smell his breath. Whhhhy?

 

“Hey sweetie, whatcha ya got there?” her dad asked entering the studio, interrupting her internal rant. Iris threw the sketch book away from her as if it was contagious and looked at her father with wide eyes.

“Nothing,” she said stammering. Slow down heart. She was afraid it was going to give her away, not that her wide eyes and stammering didn’t already do it.

“Then you won’t mind if I take a little peek at it.”

“Dad! No! You know better than anyone. It’s against the code.” She lectured him while pouncing on her sketch book. She fought the blush as it threaten to sweep the surface of her skin.

“Did you have fun with your mom today?” Iris sighed. She didn’t know why her father insist on asking her this question every time she and mom went out.

“It was okay. I rather have been here in the studio though.”

“She just want to spend some time with you.”

“No she wants to live vicariously through me. Dad I’m not her. I’m me.”

“Sweetie, don’t be so hard on her. The news of having a girl was the greatest joy she could ever have. She would finally have little girl to splurge and share all her hobbies with.”

“Well I’m sorry that I’m not what she wants me to be.” Iris picked up her sketch book and stormed out of the studio. Her dad was supposed to be on her side. He didn’t understand how stifling it could be to have someone always imposing themselves on you. She felt like she was drowning.

 

 

 

Closing the door once she was in her room, she let out a deep breath. The one thing she could be grateful to her parents for was the east wing of their home that was dedicated to her. She had all the space she would ever need.

 

She picked up her phone and checked for texts messages. She laughed when she saw messages from all the girls. Out of all the girls Natasha was the one she was closest to. She never demanded anything from Iris like the others. She didn’t press for information; she waited for Iris to feel comfortable enough to tell her. Natasha had caramel colored skin and light brown eyes. Her hair was black as sin and drew attention wherever she went. Iris was just glad that it didn’t go to her head. Now Crystal was completely different; she was the captain of the cheerleading squad and thrived in the center of attention. She could be nice sometimes but she was always gossiping, and Iris didn’t particular like the fact that she seemed to enjoy other people’s misery. Crystal was the typical bright blue eye blond hair girl. She was about five feet five inches in height and cute. Amie recently joined their group, from what Iris could discern she was a quiet girl; but it was obvious she aspired to be like Crystal. There were good traits about Crystal, she was smart and participated in school government. Iris met the girls in sophomore year of high school and now they were starting their senior year. She giggled when she saw the text from Natasha.

 

 

My little sister is a brat. Don’t you want a spawn.

Iris quickly texted her back.

 

She can’t be that bad. She’s only five.

She giggled when her phone beeped.

 

Come take her! Do you want to go to ice cream shop? We have to eat all we can while Crystal isn’t breathing down our throats.

 

Sure. See ya in twenty.

 

 

 

Iris quickly read the other messages from the other girls. Crystal talked about the hottest guy in school which was Axel of course. She would die if Iris told her she met him in person and she actually turned him down. She smiled at Amie’s simple message of hello.

Changing out of the dress from earlier she threw on a pair of jeans, sandals and a tee-shirt. She left her hair down. She needed to find Ryan. He was the family’s driver and Iris usually spent her time with him. It was a little sad when you thought about it. Hanging out with the driver; but she come to think of him as an endearing grandfather.

“Ryan!” She called running through the house.

“Here, miss.” He said waving her down. She gave him a hug and told him her plans to go to the ice cream shop.

“Alright miss. Let’s go.”

She waved a goodbye to Ryan as she got out a block away from the shop. She still hadn’t told her friends she was wealthy and she had planned on keeping it that way—well she might tell Natasha. She wasn’t sure yet. She often heard stories from other people in their circle of people using them for their money and Iris wanted to avoid that. She wanted to remain down to earth and hoped to develop good people skills so she could instinctively tell when people were trustworthy.

She smiled when she spotted Natasha. Taking a seat she gave a sigh of delight when a root beer float was placed in front of her.

“You are a saint.”

Natasha rolled her eyes at Iris’ theatrics.

“Any plans for the school year?” Natasha asked.

“Hmm, not really. You know me. I avoid trouble like plague.”

“A typical Iris answer. What about guys? I haven’t seen you date one person.” She huffed digging into her sundae.

“I date…ish, okay fine; so I don’t date but it’s not a priority.”

“I guess there isn’t anyone good enough for Iris,” she said teasingly.

“That’s not true!” Iris shouted with indignation. She thought about Axel and it felt as though all the blood in her body rushed to the surface of her skin.

Natasha gave a yell of triumph looking at Iris flushed face.

“Girl you are borderline purple. Who is he?”

“No one!” she squeaked out.

“Don’t tell me, it better not be Axel.”

“What? Why?” she asked confused.

“So you are crushing on him. You and every other girl out there. Have you even talked to him?”

“Sort of, but Natasha you have to swear you won’t say anything. This remains between you and me. I’m serious.”

“Well duh, everyone knows Crystal is one of the biggest gossipers in school. I got ya back.”

Iris smiled. She knew she could trust Natasha, maybe she really would tell her where she lived. Her mom would love her; Natasha was very girly and yet she remained down to earth. It was good plan.

 

 

4

Secret Meetings and Wishes

 

 

Iris enjoyed spending time with Natasha; at the end of the day she chickened out and didn’t invite her over. Iris swore, it was going to be the first thing she did. School would be starting in a week; in that time she would once again face Axel. At least her birthday was tomorrow, and she had that to distract her. She had a license but hoped for a horse. Her birthdays usually consisted of celebrities, and their children. Her mom loved social gatherings. The person she really wanted there was probably touring the world. It was impossible. Why did she even began to think of him at a time like this? She needed a cup of tea to distract her from her thoughts.

Settling with her cup of tea she turned on house hunters. She loved the show watching new homeowners buy a house and seeing all the different styles and architecture, maybe she should be an architect. She didn’t know what she wanted to do. She knew her mother always pushed for her to be a doctor. She thought about Axel’s mother again. She wondered about types of heart condition—was she really that sick? Stretching she got up, her birthday was tomorrow and it’s wasn’t everyday a young woman turn seventeen. She climbed into bed and fell asleep.

 

 

***

 

 

She jerked in her bed.

“Dad!” she whined. It never got old. Each morning on her birthday he would serve her breakfast in bed. Still after seventeen years he still startled her.

“No matter how old you are, you’ll still be my little girl,” he said giving her hug before leaving her. Iris flushed. She wasn’t good with emotions. They scared her, she felt it was something that should be done in private. She hated being vulnerable. She looked up as her dad paused in his steps.

“We’ve got a surprise for you.” He said closing the door.

Did they get her the horse she’d always dreamt about? After eating her breakfast, she jumped into the shower, her thoughts flicker briefly to Axel. Was his mother’s sickness responsible for the pain reflected in his eyes?

 

Gah! Why am I so interested? I practically blew the guy off anyway.

Jumping out of the shower, she dressed quickly to meet her parents below. Anticipation filled her she as rushed downstairs. Her parents greeted her at the bottom of the stairs. She smiled as her dad held a long black box. Opening it she gasped when she saw the tear drop necklace. It was a two karat diamond and very expensive. They were over the top…still they were her parents and she loved them dearly.

“Sheesh dad, when am I supposed to wear this thing?” she said gasping at the sparkly diamonds. The light danced of it blinding her with its brilliance.

“Told you, she does have feminine qualities,” mom told her dad smugly.

“I can’t help it,” she whined. “They’re diamonds!”

“It’s only the first of many surprises that are coming your way. Now turn around young lady,” her dad said taking the velvet box from her. She held her breath as he placed the very expensive diamond around her neck.

“Mom, dad, this is too much. I can’t—I…”

“You are fine. You are our only child. We have a right to splurge. You are seventeen now and soon you’ll be an adult. I don’t want my baby to grow up!” her mom cried pulling her into a hug.

“Mom you’re killing me,” she managed to gasp. She got her curves from her mother and currently, she was smothering her in her bosom. Her mother finally released her, relieved she watched as dad took her sobbing mother into his arms. You’d think someone died. She backed away from her parents. They were acting weird.

 

They’re contagious. Must get away!

 

“I’m just going to have a cappuccino.” She darted away from them and into the kitchen. She placed her flavor of choice in the Keurig machine, and hummed as the smell of mocha filled the air. She giggled as she sat out on the terrace with the newspaper, her mother always called her an old woman. She said she had an old soul. Iris liked to think that she was maybe a gypsy or a wanderer in a pastime. She enjoyed being outside and didn’t like staying in one place for too long. Her father told her that she had a free spirit. She supposed he was right.

She set the paper aside and stood up to get ready when an article caught her eye. She didn’t even know he was in the country.

“Iris!”

“Coming mom!” she shouted.

“Go. Get out the house already.” It’s time you made yourself scarce so we can get this place ready for you.” Iris rolled her eyes. Every year old her birthday she spent two the three hours holed up in a library so her parents could get prepare for the guests.

“Wear a dress!” her mom shouted at her retreating form.

“But mom!” she groaned.

She gave up; she was nothing more than a life size doll, at least she wasn’t bogged down with more shopping. Reaching into the closet she pulled out a teacup dress. It was a metallic black which suited her needs. An impish smirk stretched her lips; she would wear her black vans with this dress. Her mother only told her to ear the dress. She had to give it to her. This dress was a nice one and suited her personality. It had character. It was designed with a jewel neckline, a back zipper closure, and a fit and flare silhouette. It was perfect for her, it gave her a little spunk. She jumped into the shower to get ready for the activities that were soon to follow later that evening.

 

Iris gave an involuntary yawn. She’d been reading some manga; don’t judge her. The art was beautiful and the characters faces were always so expressive. Yes, she was one of those people that could read endless amount of manga, and would turn into a vampire from streaming anime all night long. She was getting to the good part when someone interrupted her.

“I thought you didn’t wear dresses?” Startled, she fell ungraciously out of the chair and onto the floor, at least it was carpeted.

“What are you doing here?” she asked mortified. Her butt hurt and she fought the need to massage it, and ensure there was no permanent damaged done to it. What were the odds of her running into Axel at the library? She gazed at him. Something was off. She watched as he blushed and began to stammer.

“Are you okay?” she asked with wide eyes.

“Yeah, I’m good.” He avoided her eyes. His heart raced in his chest and he felt jittery around her. “I saw you reading some manga.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I hope they turn it into an anime.”

“What’s it called?”

“Cerberus.”

“Sounds like the guardian of the underworld,” he said holding out a hand.

 

Omg! Don’t tell me he’s into mythology. A man after my heart! So hot! I can definitely do the shy, dorky thing. It’s different…but volcanic like.

 

Her heart skipped a beat when she grabbed his hand. It was large and warm. Was this his nerdy side? She didn’t think the star football player would have a geek side.

“So are you stalking me now?” she asked smiling coyly at him. She had no idea he could be so awkward. It was cute. He was completely different from that day in the car.

“Um, no!” he said flushing. She made him nervous. He started to feel dizzy. He couldn’t hyperventilate here, it would destroy his chance getting to know her. He liked her. She was different and she had kind eyes. She was gorgeous and totally out of his league, maybe it was how she felt about him. He could only hope so.

His phone rang.

“I’m sorry I got to take this.” It was his dad.

“Boy! Where are you?” Iris looked on in shock. She could hear the yelling from where she sat.

“I’m in the library studying.” She watched as Axel answered his father. She could see his large frame hunching over. He must’ve turned the volume down, she couldn’t hear the man anymore. It seemed there was much more to Axel Rotterdam than meets the eye. It was a good thing she loved mysteries.

 

“Look I’m going out!” he suddenly yelled into the phone. Iris eyes widen slightly. She quickly excused herself. His eyes pleaded with her, but she was already embarrassed enough and she didn’t want to miss the party. Her mother would have a cow. It was scientifically impossible but she wouldn’t put it pass her mom to surpass the laws of science.

 

Damn it! He almost had her. He just had to go ruin things. Everything was going smoothly. He gripped the strands of hair in his fist tightly. Sometimes he just wanted to scream. Let everything he was feeling out, but that wasn’t what men did, so he swallowed his emotions and shoved them in a box. He’d deal with them later.

 

Iris thought her encounter with Axel was very strange, but it still didn’t stop him from taking her breath away. Those startling crystal blue eyes still managed to make her heart go pitter patter. She was starting to think that she was in a Nicolas Spark book. She sighed dreamily as she got out of the car. Would he find her at school? Would he still be interested in her? He was one of a kind; he managed to see her on two different occasions and in a dress nonetheless—that was a rarity in itself. She climbed out of the car when she heard Ryan’s chuckle. How long had she been sitting there with a starry eyed look?

“Young love. I remember those days.” She leapt out of the car totally embarrassed by the situation. She didn’t do girly and emotions. It got you in trouble. She opened the door, and her shock took center stage—the party completely slipped her mind. Her mother was in a black fitted number that hugged her curves, white strappy heels adorn her feet. Her dad was dressed casually in a nice pair of jeans and collard long sleeve shirt. The house was full of people and it looked like everyone was having a good time. She gave a small smile at her mother. She was such a social butterfly, only in this type of environment her mother thrived whereas, Iris was more reserved.

“Good, the birthday girl has arrived. Come darling, come greet everyone.”

Iris groaned internally. She wished she had superpowers and could make herself disappear, or wings so she could fly away.

“Darling, this is Jean Pierre. I’m sure you remember him.”

Iris gave him a friendly smile and blushed when he took her had into his. She couldn’t remember how old he was, but he was handsome. His eyes were midnight black and his hair dark as sin. The thick Spanish accent was a plus. She heard or rather read about all his escapades with various women, and she couldn’t blame them. He was tall and had the nicest nose she’d ever seen, his full lips only added to his deadly repertoire.

“Giselle! Why didn’t you tell me about this beautiful lotus?” he asked placing a kiss on her hand. She watched him with dull eyes. He was laying it on pretty thick. Her eyes widen slightly when she felt his tongue touched her hand. It was for a nanosecond. She wanted to snatch it out of his grasp but she had a feeling he would enjoy that reaction, so she gave him her own mysterious smile, while secretly plotting to kill him. Wait until she told her dad, he would totally kick his ass. Her dad was a painter but he went through an MMA phase. He would cover his hands and feet with paint and create abstract art. It was very inspiring to watch.

“Today is Iris seventeenth birthday,” her mom said proudly. Iris was relieve to have her hand back.

“That makes her legal…err a legal adult.” He said smiling. What a prick she thought. He was monopolizing all their time.

“Mom, where’s dad?” she asked cutting into their conversation. She’d do anything to get away from him. Noting another unwanted figure, she huffed. Abigail Hunter—she was the daughter of an upcoming actress and she was someone Iris liked to avoid at all cost. It was either spend more time with the perverted old man or snobby witch. Her future looked pretty bleak. She turned her brightest smile towards Abigail. She seemed like the lesser of the two evils.

“Iris, nice party. Your parents are the best,” she said smiling at her mom. What an attention seeker Iris thought, while her mom blushed a pretty red.

 

Dear god! Don’t fall for it mom! She’s Satan in disguise.

“Have you heard the latest news about Chester Livingston?” Iris bit her tongue. Chester was a popular international rockstar sweeping girls off their feet. She really didn’t care. Just another celebrity. Did the girl know her secret? She guarded it well. There was only one or two people who knew about it. “He’s in the country.” Abagail said excitement evident in her eyes.

“Sounds nice,” she said completely disinterested.

 

Guess I’m the pooper to my own party. How nice. Did that classify her as shit? Ew.

 

She usually didn’t drink but she needed one desperately. I’m free, she giggled to herself. Perfect a guy held Abigail’s attention so she could slip away. She saddled up to the bar.

“Can’t you find it in your heart to spare one for the birthday girl?” she asked the bartender. She gave him a gracious thank you when a shot sat in front of her. She down it quickly and looked at him expectantly.

 

Ha! Being a young Hollywood starlet has it perks. Riches, alcohol for underage teens. What more could one ask for? A surreptitious relationship?

 

“Aww, you hold the keys to my heart.”

“Out of all you Hollywood elites, you seemed the most normal.” He said fixing a drink.

“Thank you I try.” She snorted. It wasn’t very lady like. Chaos would descended and vultures would feast on her soul if her mother ever heard the sound.

“You know you didn’t have to ask, you could just order one.”

“You do have a point.” It was sad, but the rich had fewer restrictions than other people in society. Money made the world go round.

“So what’d you get for your birthday?”

“A necklace from my parents. Its way too expensive but they seemed hell bent on giving me more.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“No.”

“I’m sure they brought you a car.”

“Yeah, me too.” she said sighing. The bartender was confused. Didn’t she want a car? Who wouldn’t want one? Hell, he was twenty-four years old and would sell his left nut for a new car…maybe not his left nut, a finger perhaps?

“Isn’t that what every teenager wants?”

“Apparently I come from a planet that hasn’t been discovered yet. I landed here on earth and I’ve been deemed an unknown species.”

“Why?” he asked perplexed.

“Because I want a horse!” she whined. The bartender guffaws filled the air. Iris was confused. What was so funny?

 

5

Hollywood Elite

 

 

“I like you! You are something. How about I take you horseback riding sometime?” he asked her. She had the boldest pair of light brown eyes he’d ever seen. They were like honey. Iris was confused. He was a stranger. She couldn’t just ride off into the night with him.

 

What the hell did he think this was? Arabian nights? No barbaric tendencies for her.

 

“I’m sorry, little lass here is taken.” A familiar silky voice resounded from behind her. She fought the chill that shot down her spine. He was narcissist.

 

Never! It the alcohol. Why the hell did this man give me alcohol! I’m a child for crying out aloud. And Jean-Pierre is not attractive. He’s ugly. A fugly!

 

When did Jean-Pierre get here? Was he stalking her? Or did her mother tell him to keep an eye on her?

“Aren’t you from Latin descent? I’m not a lass,” she huffed out clearly irritated with him.

“Of course not,” he said with smoldering eyes. Iris felt her body hummed with warmth. He was dangerous.

“Umm, I think I’ve had enough to drink,” she said leaving the bar. She was running away with her tail between her legs. She didn’t understand why Jean-Pierre was so interested in her. Clearly there were other women who were throwing their panties at him.

 

I hope they stink! Stinky panties! Le gasp!

 

She could go hide out in the study. It was massive; it should be called a library. It was easily one of her favorite rooms in the whole house. When her parents decided to expanded the house they combined four rooms to make this her special place. It even had a secret passage way to get to it. She smiled feeling like she was going back to time. It was a time where she and her best friend would hide and tell each other everything. There were no secrets between the two. Sighing she press the small button embedded into the painting. Stepping into the room, she closed her eyes and threw her head back. She loved the smell of books and old leather. She spent many of nights in Neverland with Peterpan and fighting evil sea witches. She was one of those people that would reread books. Some days a random quote would come to her and she would search for the book until she found it and fall in love with the characters all over again.

A gasped left her lips when hands suddenly covered her mouth. “I knew you’ll be here.” A masculine voice tumble out of the boy she’d never expected to see again.

 

When did he get here? How? Why?

 

“Chester,” she whispered. The hands released her and spun her around. Her heart pounded furiously in her chest as she faced the one and only guy she’d ever loved. His beautiful blond hair was styled messily on his head and his eyes were so unique—a deep violet color. When he left she was heartbroken. It was why she spent so much time dreaming, sometimes reality was much harder to deal with.

“I couldn’t miss your seventeenth birthday,” he said scratching his neck. He was nervous. Iris looked at him clearly shocked.

“Shouldn’t you be touring the world Chazzy,” she sneered, turning her back on him. He was a famous rockstar; she knew she shouldn’t read the tabloids, but they were her only connection to him. He wrote and tried calling her several times, but she just couldn’t deal with him. It was hard, she’d been thrown away like trash.

“Don’t be that way Iri,” he said reaching out towards her.

“No!” she shouted snatching her hand away. She couldn’t let him. She fought her tears as they sprang to the corners of her eyes. This was why she didn’t want to see him. All the feelings would come rushing back. She couldn’t do this.

“Why are you angry with me?! You’ve ignored me for years! Left me alone!” he yelled back at her. Anger, hurt, and sadness pumped furiously through his veins as his body tremble. She was his world.

“Shouldn’t that be my line!” she shouted back tears streaming down her face. Chester looked at her in bewilderment, he was supposed to be angry with her; not the other way around.

“You never said goodbye,” she whispered into the quiet room. Chester’s eyes widen. She was right. He felt like a complete idiot. He took her into his arms, her scent filling his nose. It was still the same. Vanilla. He tucked her face into his neck and felt the warm and salty tears spill in the crevices of his shoulder and neck.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered. He and Iri were inseparable growing up. He’d always had a huge crush on her but never told her. Her large honey eyes were so beautiful and always filled with joy and happiness. He missed her. Every day he called her hoping to hear her voice; but she had refused him. It infuriated him, it hurt him; but it inspired him to write and to create music. He wondered if she’d ever listen to any of his music. Probably not. She’d grown into a beautiful woman. She was curvier now.

When he first spotted her his heart stopped. The black metallic teacup dress she wore was stunning. He’d remember her fighting with her mother about wearing dresses. He wondered if she was still the same way. None of the girls could compare to her. He chuckled, he was carrying a flaming torch for his best friend who probably didn’t even see him in that manner. Damn. Would he always be the best friend?

“What’s funny? I’m starting to think that today is laugh at Iris day.”

“Nothing. So was there a bet?”

“Eh?”

“I mean what made you put on that dress. Don’t get me wrong. I like seeing you in it.” He said smirking at her. Chester was pleasantly surprised at the flush that swept her face. Hmm what was this?

“You know my mom loves stuff like this.” She said turning away from him. Did he say he liked seeing her in stuff like this? Did that mean he saw her as more than a friend?

They shared one kiss when they were nine, but it was her first. Did that even count? I’m such a lame.

 

Thump.

She just needed to stay calm. She was going to hyperventilate at the rate she was going. He grabbed her hands and intertwined their fingers. She looked down at their joined hands in shock. What was he doing? He dragged them over towards the plush futon and pulled her down with him.

“Chester, what are you doing?”

“Did you forget? We used to lay together as kids in this very spot. We are much bigger now.” She smiled. He didn’t forget her. She snuggled into his side with her head on his chest. This was turning out to be the best gift of all.

“Now catch me up on everything that’s happened,” he said looking at the ceiling. He couldn’t be any happier with her in his arms like this. Everything felt right in the world. She was all he needed.

“You first.”

“The night I left. I’d never dreamt of getting a record deal. I was just a kid and there were other people there with more experience. My parents signed me up for the talent search without telling me, they were always searching for their big break.” He said vehemently. “Being around your family, gave them a little taste of fame, and they always wanted more. It was never enough. I had every intention of coming back to you. I had our favorite movies ready and my bag packed to spend the night,” he paused glancing into her eyes while trailing his fingers through her hair. “The agent wanted to sign me immediately, once they heard me. It was icing on the cake when they discovered I could play various instruments. If I walked away they would have went with a different person. My parents turned into yes people, it was the chance of a lifetime. It was finally in their hands—to finally be a part of the in crowd, no matter the cost. Even if it cost them my happiness.” He sighed staring at the ceiling as all the emotions from that particular night surfaced. Namely one—betrayal.

“Screaming and shouting I demanded to go back home. They told me my home was with them. I told them I could go and live with you. I was ignored. I hated them with such passion. They took away the one thing I valued most.”

“What was that?” she asked her heart racing.

“You” he said glancing down at her. “I guess I should thank them in a way. Music is my passion, but what they did was unforgivable.”

“Where are they now?”

“I don’t know. I don’t care.”

“Don’t be that way Cheese. They’re your parents.” She giggled.

“You little devil! You remembered that nickname!” He pounced on her, his fingers digging into her flesh.

“Stop Cheese! I’m in a dress,” she said laughing as tears rolled down her face. “I give!” He released her and laid back down.

“What do you want for your birthday?”

 

You.

 

It was almost like he never left. There was no way she would ever utter the word.

Suddenly the door opened up. Her dad entered the room, “I knew I’d find you here. Chester, how have you been?”

“Great Mr. McDerman. Thank you for helping me with the surprise.”

“Anything for little Iris.”

Iris blushed looking away from both men. “Well cupcake, everyone is looking for you. It’s time for your mother and I to give you your gift.”

 

 

 

Everyone was out front. She was right. A brand new shiny black car sat out front. Her mouth went slack. It was an Audi RS7. She ran gleefully up to the vehicle. It had white leather with aluminum trimming, she knew luxury when she saw it. It was a hundred thousand dollar car. Were they insane?

Chester whistled beside her. “That is one sexy beast you got on your hands.”

“Thanks mom and dad!”

“Oh my god! Is that Chazzy from Inked! He is so hot!”

Iris turned her head at the voice. She wanted to snarl at the girl who said it. She was glad when Ryan guided them back inside. Chester was supposed to be himself here.

“Oh we’re not done yet darling.”

She watched her parents with wide eyes. Her mother was in her father’s arms. “Well you can actually thank Chester here for this last gift.” Her mother said smiling at the young man. She glanced at him. He was just as flustered as she was.

 

What’s got him so nervous?

 

They moved to her dad’s studio, and she gasped. It was a painting of her and Chester together. They were both young. She was maybe ten? She was looking at him with a smile on her face while he looked down at her. They were standing in an open field.

“C’mon Iri!” he said taking her hand like old times. “But why? My parents and the party,” she trailed of looking back at her parents.

“It’s okay dear. Go,” her mother said smiling at her. Iris eyes sparkled and she gave her mother a grateful smile, and followed Chester out of the studio and into the wide open space.

“Cheese, where are you taking me?” Dusk was fast approaching and the sky was brilliant in color—orange, pink and white.

“You were always impatient.” He pointed to something in the distance. What she saw made her heart stopped. He was gorgeous—a black Belgian. He was thick and muscular, his main flowing out behind him. She raced towards him. She wanted to climb him immediately, but waited patiently as he sniffed her. Chester slowly came up and lucky for her, he had a couple of sugar cubes in his pocket.

“How did you know?”

“It was something you always talked about growing up. Your parents and I hatched the plan. You need a car to get around in and I could help get the horse.”

“He’s beautiful.” She shook nervously. “How long are you here for?”

“I don’t know. I could stay a couple of months, but it’ll be bad if I stayed any longer. The paps are always hounding me.” He wondered if he could get her to leave that school and come with him. There was an elite academy she could attend, and be herself. He would even return if she came with him.

“What’s his name?” he asked her. Iris looked calmly at the horse. It was a nice change of subject. She should have known he wouldn’t be able to stay with her. She was afraid of ruining their friendship and he was always traveling. Why would he give that all up for her? She wasn’t anyone special.

“I’ll call him Blitz,” she said climbing onto the horse bareback.

“Iri! What the hell are you doing! What if you fall off?” She looked down at Chester’s frantic face, maybe if he stuck around longer she’d be less reckless.

 

Jerk. Coming back into my life. Feeling me with hope. Only for me to worry when you’ll leave me again. I’ll get through this. After all, my panties are bigger.

 

“I got this,” she said racing off with Blitz. Her laughter filled the air. She felt like she was flying. She was free! It was thrilling. Her horse’s hooves beat against the ground, her hair in the window, and the dying rays of the sun on her face. This was what she wanted. It was getting dark and fast. She raced back towards the house. She expected Chester to be waiting for her but he’d left. She dismounted Blitz and led him to the stall. She didn’t understand why she expected more anyway. He was her best friend. Wasn’t she crushing on Axel anyway? She thought about her earlier encounter with him while brushing Blitz.

“What are you doing out here all along little Iris?”

“What are you doing here Jean-Pierre? Shouldn’t you be harassing some other girl?” she asked blowing him off. Jean-Pierre didn’t know why he was so interested in the girl. She was a breath of fresh air. It was different from the lustrous women who were always on the prowl.

“You sound like a jealous lover.”

“You wish.”

“You ride?” She stared at him with shrewd eyes. She couldn’t figure out which context he was using the word, but knowing him it was probably the latter. She was thankful when Chester showed up. He had gotten her a coke.

 

Whoops. Guess he wasn’t abandoning me. I’ve got to really work on being suspicious of people. I blame this cold cruel world! And the invisible man hiding in the corner.

 

“I’ll be seeing you around gorgeous.” He said leaving the two alone.

“What was that all about?” Chester asked watching Jean-Pierre’s retreating form.

“I have no idea.”

 

6

Racing Heart

 

 

The week had gone by fast and all too soon Iris knew she would be starting the first day of senior year. She sighed, she was excited to get back to her friends but she didn’t like spending time away from Chester. They’d bonded. It was as if they’ve never spent the last three years apart.

“I can pick you up from school.” She glanced at him through her peripherals. His face was stoic and there was a faraway look in his eyes as he stared at the sky above them. The wind tousled his hair; the strands were fluttering around in a synchronized dance. His moves graceful—she knew there was a puppet master with invisible strings manipulating his movements. He was too graceful and out of her reach. He was a celestial being forever out of her grasp. Was this how Clyte felt as she watched Apollo with unrequited love? Did she love him? What about her attraction towards Axel? Was he nothing, but rouse to distract her from her true target? She was so confused. How could she go from having no boy problems to things being overly complicated? The sad thing—she was the only one who knew about the complexities of love.

She imagined telling her mother about her love life. She would stand on some fancy grand stage singing show tunes and telling her about love woes. Sad music would play subtly in the background, while Iris would look on with unspeakable horror; suddenly her mother would launch into a burlesque song telling her to go after her man. She shook her head at her dastardly thoughts. There was just one problem, which one was she supposed to go after? She wanted Chester with a passion but was afraid to ruin their friendship and rejection and Axel—he was smokin’ hot. Did she need to say more?

“You can’t pick me up Cheese. Then everyone will know I’m wealthy, better yet, friends with a rock star and they’ll try to become my friend. I don’t want that.”

“Why do you do that? Why do you hide from who you are?” He asked turning on his side. He never understood her fascination with hiding her identity. She was skilled in her artistic abilities, she could be earning millions off pieces of art if she wanted, and she was a genius but hid it. She strived so much to not be like her mother and find her own identity, but he found it contradictory that she didn’t want admit her status was a part of who she was. It was the same as being heir to a throne but denouncing it out of fear or selfishness.

 

 

 

“I’m not doing anything. I just want to be normal.” Iris said rolling on her side avoiding his gaze. She felt him scoot closer. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer spooning her from behind, and she fought the shiver. Why did he fit so well there? Why did he invoke such feelings from her?

 

I have got to get out of my feelings. Mufasa is not dying right now. This is not the Lion King. Sheesh.

 

“What is normal? It’s so overrated. I like you as you are.” He could sense her discomfort and like always he conceded. “Are there any guys you’re interested in?” He hated asking the question. His jealousy making the pits of hell look cold.

“What?” Her heart galloped at an unprecedented rate in her chest. It was the prize winner in the Kentucky derby and even broke world records, she was going to set another new record—her heart was going to launch itself out of her chest and lie on the ground exposing all her dark secrets. Eep!

How did he know? Did she slip up and say something? She sat up, running her hands through her hair she glanced at Chester. He laid there smirking at her. He did know?! What the hell?

“You jerk!”

“Iris, calm down. What did I do?” he said sitting up. Now he was bewildered. What was she exactly accusing him of?

“You know?”

“What do I know?”

Wait a minute…was her secret safe? She hunched over secret similar to the golem that kept his ‘precious’ away from others; hissing at anything that was a threat. She was a volcano exploding, the magma devouring everything in its wake. Burning its way into her heart, her mind, the ground and her cheeks…because they were on fire. She hated boys!

Chester stared at the blushing young woman. Was there a guy she fancied? Someone that she was interested in? He suddenly felt like he had a case of heartburn, and it wasn’t pretty. Would it be unsightly to snarl…to snatch her and hide her away in a cave while he marked his territory. Pretty barbaric.

“I don’t know if I want to answer that question Cheese. I mean it’s different now that we’re older.”

“No it’s not. Nothing has changed,” he bit his tongue. He sounded desperate. He didn’t want their relationship to change. He didn’t want her to change. He wanted her to remain his forever, to be enamored by him…to love him. He wouldn’t be happy knowing she chose another; maybe he should leave sooner than he anticipated. If he did that, he would be running away. He didn’t want to leave her alone. What if she fell into the hands of a pervert? He would keep everyone away from her and when there was no one left but him, he would wait with open arms.

“Cheese, I don’t like that look.”

“Hmm?”

“It means trouble. C’mon we better go in. I have class tomorrow. What will you do tomorrow?”

“I don’t know. Work in the studio. Do you still have the studio here?”

“Of course. You know how dad is,” she said smiling.

 

 

***

 

 

The first day of class consisted of freshmen trying to find their cliques, stereotypical athletes pulling pranks, teachers rushing through the halls, and of course there was Iris who knew a little bit of everyone. She was an asteroid drifting along an undefined path until there was a gravitational force strong enough to pull her in. Every now and then she would get an occasional tug which leads her to her greatest predicament, Axel. She felt a pull from him but she was still confused about Chester—more like terrified of him rejecting her. Still, she couldn’t deny the attraction she had for Axel.

“So what did you guys spend the summer doing?” Crystal asked as the group met up at the front of the school. Iris’ mind flashbacked to her first encounter with Axel. Would he find her? She wasn’t so sure. She had on blue skinny jeans, long sleeve collar shirt that stretched beyond her waist and golden sandals.

“Nothing much, you know how I am.” Iris was grateful when Natasha came to her rescue. “I was stuck watching my bratty sister all summer long.”

“What about you Amie?” they all turned to look at the shy girl who in turned looked at Crystal as if she was asking for permission. “I didn’t do much. Went to cheer camp.”

“I didn’t know you were interested in becoming a cheerleading.” Natasha asked genuinely surprised. “Yeah, I’m going to try out this weekend.”

Just then the bell rang signaling that class would be starting soon. Iris glanced up when the girls in the group stopped. It reminded her of that cliché moment in the movie when the hot guy enters and everyone freezes, and bow down to his sexiness and prowess. She was grateful that there was no awkward moment of her running into an open clocker or slipping and busting her butt.

Thump.

Uh oh. Her heart was doing that weird thing again and it felt like she had a stomach ache.

“Hi Axel.” Iris rolled her eyes at Crystal’s antics, at least she was braver than her. She felt Natasha elbow her in the side. Ugh! She hoped she didn’t give her away. She finally looked his way and watched his eyes widen slightly before he gave her a smirk. Did he recognize her? Why was he looking at her like that? Oh god…he wasn’t coming over here. Was he?

“Look, I don’t want to be late. I’ll catch you guys later.” She scurried away.

 

 

 

Iris sat in history twiddling her thumbs. She didn’t know why she had this nervous habit. She imagined her mother busting onto the scene shrieking like a mad woman and setting the place ablaze when Iris began to bite her nails. She shudder at the thought, pushing it away, she focused on the task at hand. History…bleh.

She didn’t understand why any teacher would want to give sleepy deprived students another sleeping pill. She yawned and slunk further into her chair when Natasha came in. Crap. She forgot she had this class.

“So you wanna tell me what that was about?”

“What?” Walking over to her desk she watched Natasha slam her palm down. “You know what, McDerman.”

“Okay, okay,” don’t cause a scene she whispered yelled to her friend while her eyes darted around the classroom.

“Is there something going on between you and Axel?” Natasha asked. Iris body became hot. Was it her or was it getting hot in here? What was up with all the questions? This wasn’t the Spanish inquisition.

“Umm, there’s not much Tasha.” She said as her face was set aflame. Damn this girl. Iris hated to be caught off guard. She didn’t know what that smirk from him was about. She was looking down at her desk hoping that Natasha would go away. Shouldn’t class be starting by now? Why was everyone moving slowly? Giving up on the notion she faced Natasha. She was startled and suspicious by Natasha’s behavior. She didn’t like the smug look on her face.

“Hey, I didn’t know you had this class too.”

Her heart flat-lined.

It was Axel Rotterdam…and he was standing behind her.

 

 

 

7

I Won’t Fall for You

 

 

Axel was pleased to see the vivacious blonde from the weekend. Today she was dressed casually compared to the white dress he’d seen her in when they first met. His mind flashed for a moment almost as if he was missing something, he pushed it aside. He wouldn’t confuse the color of her dress. Blue jeans adorned her legs, nice collard long sleeve shirt hung loosely on her. She was striking and dressed very casual golden sandals added to her complete look. He’d never spent so much time observing what a girl wore. He wondered why he didn’t notice her before. A masculine chuckle fell from his lips, when he noted the blush that swept up the back of her neck. Her small hands were balled into small fists in her lap. It was cute.

He honed in on her. There was finally something he wanted to do, something he could pursue without pressure from his parents. Sometimes he felt they were living vicariously through him. His grin grew, this was a decision he made on his own. It wasn’t or hadn’t been planned for him. Finally.

“Found you.” He snickered noting her reaction. He’d have to thank her friend later for helping him. He took a seat behind her as the teacher entered the classroom. History, just got a whole lot better.

 

 

 

Iris sat in her seat quaking. Her desk rattled and rockets shot out of from it bursting in the sky spilling all her secret desires in the form of sparkling patterns. She gulped once again. Why must she be like every other stereotypical teenager with boy problems? If she had a choice, she would choose to be the confident, outgoing type—instead she was left with a horse galloping in her chest and dizziness. Did people still swoon?

She wondered why she was in history. She was a girl from a long lost empire hunched in a cave coveting her surreptitious private affair, when the soldiers from a neighboring empire would discover her meager existence and drag her before their benevolent king. Just when she was forced to her knees to endure the king’s demands the heavens opened up and shined down on her.

 

Holey grandmother’s panties! The bell has rang. I’m free!

 

Iris jerked in her seat and fled the classroom. She was Jeff Gordon wining the grand prix. She gave a shout for victory when she made it out of the classroom unscathed and Axel free. She was going to kill Natasha later. Her ass was grass. She glanced furtively over her shoulders expecting him to jump out at her any second. She ignored the sinking in her chest when she realized he wasn’t behind her.

 

Geez, I’ve got it bad. That jerk and his good looks. I hate it!

 

Lunch couldn’t have come fast enough. She decided to skip out on lunch with her friends today and spend some time under the large maple tree outside the school. Her friends were okay with it, even they were aware of her mood swings. She couldn’t believe she behaved in such a matter with Axel. She’d already met him for crying aloud. He probably was going to think her some weird strange chick. Besides, did she really wanted to start something with Chester waiting at home for her? She didn’t know what she wanted anymore. She had intended to go after Axel all this time, but then Cheese showed up throwing a monkey ranch in all her plans. She felt like a washed up ringmaster who couldn’t control what was going on in his own circus. Taking a deep breath, she scanned her surroundings. No Axel. Good. It was safe. Sitting down she dug into her lunch.

“I didn’t peg you as the shy type.” The apple she was preparing to bite into fell from her fingers. It rolled away from her like a lone tumbleweed in the desert seeking a home. She was petrified. Why was she suddenly so nervous? Was it because of Chester or was it because she was actually feeling something?

“I like it. A different side of the girl I rode with to the hospital.” Iris swallowed her trepidation. She could feel his body heat through the tree bark. “You must’ve forgotten the other time we met in the library. I remember a certain someone being a little shy,” she said smugly.

Axel froze. He didn’t remember talking to her in the library. His mind was an asteroid shower shooting off sporadically in undesignated pathways across the universe, having a sublime effect on all those who witness its brilliance. His mouth dried up. Standing suddenly, he approached her.

“I’m sure I would remember a pretty face like yours,” he said while leaning over her. Iris felt like she had a stich in her side from his sudden closeness. Now that she focused, she realized they were nose to nose and his breath fanned across her lips. Her vision tunneled. They were in an open field and it was just the two of them. Would he take it from her? She threw her head back and danced with arms stretched out. Looking up towards the sky her heart soared as she realized that it had already been taken by another.

“Don’t worry sweet cheeks, there will be other chances.” She looked at him perplexed. He seemed different now. The jarring bell alerted her to the afternoon classes ready to ensnare her and put her into an eternal sleep.

“Whatever lover boy,” she said rolling her eyes and walking away while her heart raced in her chest like sprinter doing the two hundred meter.

 

 

 

She groaned when she spotted Natasha, Amie, and Crystal at her locker. Looking at Crystal she knew she was jealous, but did a poor job trying to hide it under a friendly façade. Meh…she could go screw herself.

 

Looks like the wicked bitch of the west isn’t very happy with me. I wondered how it would feel to punch her in the throat. Probably good. I bet really good.

 

“We never got around to hanging out this summer,” Crystal said with jealousy reflected in her eyes. Well Iris supposed she would be jealous too if the guy she was interested in was vying for the attention of another girl. Her heart tanked thinking about her problems with Chester. What would they do if they knew she was friends with a rock star?

 

Bleh, like I’ll ever tell them.

 

“Yeah, I was busy helping my dad. Nothing exciting.” “Well I heard Axel sat with you during lunch.”

Ouch. She didn’t know Amie could be so bratty, clearly she’d been spending too much time with Crystal. Iris wasn’t a push over. She may be cool and down to earth, but she could be snobby when she wanted to, it was a talent that only those born from wealth could master.

“If I thought it was anything important I would’ve mentioned it.” Her inner girl jumped in glee clapping, cheering her on at Amie’s stained cheeks. Little brat. It’s what she got for trying to intimidate her. “Oh, don’t be that way Iris. Amie’s was just a little curious.”

 

Yeah right cow, and you’re hiding a hooker underneath that skirt.

 

Hell she was probably the one that put little Amie up to it. “Axel sits behind Iris in history. It probably was something about class,” Natasha refuted for her. Thank the heavens the girl has gotten her marbles back, she clearly lost them or sent them scattering this morning when she set her up. She fought the urge to roll her eyes again, at this point they were going to get stuck.

“Yea, you’re totally right. I can’t see how it could be something more. He’s totally untouchable.”

 

Crystal you slut! He very much wants this. Hag!

 

Iris would give anything to shove her fist down her throat. It was time to cut Crystal out of her life. She was no good.

“Look, if you’re going to be a bitch, you can fuck off.” She said looking Crystal in the eye. She sneered at her before stalking off to her next class. Dark satisfaction filled her giving her twisted pleasure at the fearful expression on Crystal’s face.

 

Ommgggeee, did she think I was going to hit her! I know that I’ve dreamt about it many times, but c’mon on I’m a lover not a fighter.

 

She hated drama.

 

 

***

 

 

Axel stretched before starting his laps. Iris filled his mind, his nostrils flared as he thought about getting his hands on her, she was certainly interesting and different. If he brought a girl like her home his parents would definitely approve. Her friend Crystal had been forcing herself onto him lately and he hated it. He wanted to do the chasing. He wondered if Iris even knew. He bet she was probably the type of girl who didn’t care about stuff like that. Axel didn’t know what he exactly wanted from her. She made him forget about his home life. He lost himself in the rhythm of the beat as his feet hit the pavement while he ran. Running was his escape, it was the one thing he could do to release all the turbulent emotions inside of him that were building up waiting to explode. Running allowed him to have a cathartic released. If anything happened where he couldn’t run anymore he would fall apart.

“Dude, I heard through the grapevine that you were getting close to the innocent rose.” Axel didn’t understand where he was coming from. What were they a bunch of women? Apparently Brad took this as a chance to further elaborate his thoughts.

“You know she won’t put out. Pretty much everyone has tried to get with her. Only two words, epic fail.”

Axel didn’t know what came over him. He blanked for a moment. One minute he was running next to Brad like they were best pals and the next second he was staring at a bloody face. The blood coated his fist and his body still pumped it out furiously.

 

 

Blank.

 

 

He was in the principal’s office. His fists trembled as he looked around the cold hard exterior. He couldn’t have done that to Brad. The principal smiled at him and told him the school will handle it, but his parents would be arriving soon. He sunk further into his chair.

 

 

Blank.

 

 

The principal had left and his father was screaming at him, his voice reverberated around the small office, giving him a headache. He couldn’t hearing anything but his father’s angry voice filling his mind, beating against his skull. He wished he would stop. He clenched his head. The thought of his poor mother at home sick and frail made him nauseous.

“Are you listening boy!” Axel grunted at the fist that twisted painfully into his abdomen. His breath left him in a whoosh and he slumped onto his father. His father stood back and watched as he felt to the floor grabbing his stomach.

“Get up boy.” Axel crawled into the chair and sat as the principal returned. Did he bruise his ribs? Everything ached right now. He felt sore and discombobulated. He kept his head down as the water gathered in his eyes. He couldn’t let anyone see. What would they think?

 

 

Blank.

 

 

He was in the bed. Curling up he sought safety in darkness. He would never escape.

8

Lose Control

 

 

Axel sat up slowly; he had a restless night and he was a little upset that he wouldn’t see Iris today. Her light eased his pain. She was wild, free and everything he wanted. There was something about her and he gravitated towards it. She was something new and desirable. Mother sat to his right. She’d fallen asleep at his bedside. She always knew when something happened between him and father. It didn’t matter how much he tried to hide it—she knew. He grunted at the sharp pain in his stomach, it was still store. He swore under his breath when he saw she had awaken. He didn’t mean to wake her.

“Bumblebee.” Her words were a simple whisper in the silent air. It was a nickname she gave him when he was there. Bees where his favorite insect even though he got stung. It wasn’t his fault that he desired to zoom like bees, they had needles for butts—it was all very grand for a three year old.

“Mother, you shouldn’t be here. I want you to get your rest. Then we can take our walks again.” His mother had a heart condition and he hated talking about it. There were only two surgeons in the country who could perform the surgery, but it didn’t guarantee she’d survive. Axel knew they were well off, but he saw the stress it caused father; and the medical bills were on the rise. He wondered if father felt suffocated, mother wasn’t the only person with issues. Thinking about mother’s condition made him nervous. Her chances for survival decreased every day and her will to live—it frighten him to his very core. His mother always knew when he and father got into an argument, but she was oblivious to everything else and he wanted to keep it that way. He wanted her to focus on healing. Axel didn’t want to think about the dark place he would go. Its inky tendrils waited hungrily for something to devour. He couldn’t give in to it. He smiled when mother reached out tentatively and ran her thumb across his brow.

 

 

 

He felt a shift and sank gratefully into her embrace. His mommy was loving and would always protect him.

“Bumblebee?”

“Yes, mommy.”

“Would you tell me if something was wrong? It hurts mommy when you’re sad.”

“I promise.” He wouldn’t keep anything from Mommy if it made her sad. He like to see his mommy happy. He grinned happily once he saw she was satisfied with his answer. “You are my world honey. Mommy loves you.” He laid his head in her lap while she stroked his hair. They would get through this together.

 

 

***

 

 

Iris walked the halls, she felt like everyone was watching her and the feeling unsettled her. She was the runt of the pack surrounded by wolves who wanted nothing but to see her fall. A frown marred her pretty face when she noted an unfamiliar female approaching her. She felt her hackles rise; after snapping earlier at Crystal she didn’t feel very trusting at the moment. Things with Axel seemed off, and she still couldn’t shake the feeling that she was the main attraction at a freak show. Iris held the retort that threaten to spill from her lips when the girl steps fell in line with her own.

“Did you hear?” she asked. Iris continued walking hoping the girl got the hint. She sighed internally as the girl continued. “Axel and Brad got into a fight.” Iris didn’t spare the girl a glance, she didn’t understand what this had to do with her.

“Word is the fight was over you.” The girl said stopping Iris in her tracks by standing in front of her. Iris watched her with a blank expression, the girl was waiting for her to give something away but she wouldn’t give anything away. She probably was one of Crystal’s lackeys anyway.

“Iri! I’ve been looking all over for you,” Natasha said running up to her. She gave the brunette who held Iris up a cool glance.

“Becky,” Natasha said coolly. Iris watched in surprise as the girl Becky flushed before taking off.

“What the hell was that about?” Iris asked.

“You alright?” Natasha shot off cutting her off. Iris wondered if she purposely change the topic or if she was really concerned about her. She did act out of character. There was so much going on, her emotions were running rampant between Axel and Cheese.

 

Why am I so conflicted? I mean they’re both hot.

 

“Yeah, I was just fed up with her crap. I don’t even know why I wasted my time with her,” she griped. She knew why. She did it for her mother. Crystal and her friends were the kind of friends her mother would expect her to bring home.

“I only stuck around for you. You should’ve seen her face after you walked away. It was hilarious,” they both giggled exiting the school. “Well you want a ride home?” Natasha asked her heading towards her car. It wasn’t the first time she offered and Iris always rejected the idea. She was still terrified of the possibility that everyone she called a friend would use her for money and exploit her. It happened to the rich and famous all the time. People always called them snobbish and snotty when they kept to themselves and within their social circle. They did it because it was safe. You wouldn’t have to worry about someone who’s just as wealthy as you, using you for money. They had their own.

“Thanks, but you know my ride is on its way. I’m good. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Have it your way. Axel is a good guy. Different but good.” Iris frowned after Natasha’s retreating form. Why would she say he was different? It didn’t sound good when she said it. Was she trying to warn her about something? She climbed into the vehicle when Ryan pulled up. He was a life saver, he never drove anything ostentatious always taking her feelings into account. He was so thoughtful of her. She climbed into the Ford fusion and looked up in surprise. Chester was stretched out in the back seat. He reached over and dragged her into the vehicle. She giggled falling across the seat into his lap.

“Cheese what are you doing?”

“I’ve been in the studio all day and I’m bored. You left me. You should come with me. You would have so much fun. You could come on tour with me.” Iris fought the flush that started in the pit of her stomach and worked its way up; clearly she was a boiling pot with the lid on ready to explode. He was always jesting with her. She still couldn’t stop the dramatic thump in her chest. Her heart wouldn’t be able to handle it. She was simple and plain. She was just Iris.

Chester watched the blushing girl and he groan. He was feeling stiff and in more than one places. The blushing girl didn’t help matters. She was so beautiful and she didn’t see it. He would give anything to keep her by his side. She was the one constant never changing. “No hug for me?” He watched as she mumbled before flinging herself in his arms. It was where she belonged. He sighed blissfully when she buried her face in the crook of his neck. Her honey color eyes were beautiful. They were so warm, the brown so light that they looked golden, long lashes fanned her eyes and he smiled. There was no mascara or anything or her face. She always complained that it made her eyes stick. He chuckled at her. She hated makeup to her mother’s horror. He thought she was perfect. There were other qualities she couldn’t hide no matter how hard she tried, like her ample breasts and shapely hips.

“How was your day?”

“Pretty boring. Nothing spectacular or anything happened,” her mind immediately flashed back to Axel and the comments Becky made. Was it true? Why would he be fighting? His blues eyes flashed in her mind. Then she gazed into Chester’s violet ones. God, she was so screwed.

 

 

 

When they arrived, her mother was at the entrance waving and calling for her. Iris wanted to become a bug, and scurry away into the darkness forgotten and alone. “I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Chester laughed, noting her reaction.

“Jean-Pierre is here. He wanted you to walk in one of his shows Iris! How wonderful!”

“Then again maybe it is. See ya. I’ll be in the studio.” Iris stood after his retreating thunderstruck. Why would he leave her?

 

Traitor! Sellout! You hot hot betrayer. Damn you!

 

She stood looking after him forlornly as he escaped. If he wanted to take her with him, this was the perfect time to do it. She remain the sole speck on the glass before it was obliterated by a wet paper-towel driven repeatedly into her with circular motions until she no longer existed. This was probably just an excuse for Jean-Pierre to feel her up. She thought they liked their models taller and skinner.

“Hi honey,” her mother said pulling her into a hug. She shot daggers at Jean-Pierre who stood behind her mother.

 

What a pig.

 

She entered the house with her mother and set her things down.

“Well, I leave you two to it. I told Angelo that you’ll be using a portion of the studio to do your work. He’s at the gallery right now.”

“Perfect. I’ll be able to work in peace.” Iris shivered and it wasn’t a good thing. Jean-Pierre made her nervous. Why was a twenty-four year old man interested in a seventeen year old girl like her anyway?

 

 

 

Once they were alone in her dad’s studio she sneered at him. “I know what you’re up too, and it’s not happening? Trying to get me alone and make your move.”

“Why don’t you call me Jean,” he whispered in her ear. The sound reverberated in her ear making her shiver. She held her breath and attempted to back away, but he moved closer to her.

“It seems I’m not the only one with sinful thoughts parading around in their mind.”

Iris bit her lip. She was afraid it was going to bleed. Her fist remain tight at her sides. Jean-Pierre was dangerous and his eyes glittered mysteriously. “I’ll be your lip. I won’t cry. You can bite me.” He whispered seductively into the air. Iris body grew warm, he was experienced mature and everything she wasn’t. She wanted to return to the safety of Chester’s arms.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to walk in your show.” She gasped.

 

Dear god, don’t let me sound needy. This is not happening. He’s a perve!

 

“Why not!” he exclaimed. “You are perfect!” he said his hands going to her lips. Iris felt like she been touch by fire. It was such an intimate gesture. She held still completely out of her element. His hands travelled up her sides; his touch feathery. Iris hadn’t realized her breathing had been coming in short pants. He’d woven a spell. She stood before Asmodeus, vulnerable and terrified of his power. The ring of her phone broke the spell. Her hand tremored as she place the phone to ear.

“Are you done yet Iri?”

“Chester,” she sighed happily into the phone. She backed away slowly away from Jean-Pierre and once she was near the door she fled. She didn’t know why her traitorous body responded to him. What was wrong with her? She smiled joyously when she spotted Cheese on her bed looking at his phone. His blond hair styled messily on his head. When he turned those violet eyes on her all thoughts of Jean-Pierre were obliterated from her mind. She climb into bed and snuggled with him.

“Are going to do it?”

“No, fashion isn’t really my thing. Thanks for deserting me by the way.” He howled and rolled away. “That hurt Iri.”

“Serves you right for leaving me,” she huffed out. He smiled as they both lay face to face staring deeply into each other eyes, there legs intertwined.

“I will never leave you,” he whispered. Iris smiled at his declaration and knew everything would be okay.

 

9

Innocent Rose

 

 

Iris waved at Chester forlornly before going to school. She wished his declaration of never leaving her side would mean more, but they were only friends. She remained the prime specimen in a lab, people continued to stare and whisper. Did something else happen that she wasn’t aware of? Suddenly, one of the people in question walked up to her. She looked at him perplexed.

“Sorry, didn’t know you an Axel were dating. Be careful, he’s dangerous you know.”

She frown further. What was Brad jocks doing talking to her? Even though she was ranked among the popular she remained in her own class. She wanted to rebut him, but she bit her tongue. Why would she please any of them? She ignored him and continued to her next class.

“See ya round, innocent rose.” He chuckled as he walked away. Iris eyes widen for a moment. Was that what this was about? Her virginity? This was clearly a testosterone filled issue. It had nothing to do with her. She shook his comment off and continued to her class. Settling into her seat, it felt strange to not have Axel sit behind her. Oddly class had been boring, Natasha sat to her left rocking in her desk. The sounds she made were in sync with the ticking of the clock. She wondered what Axel was doing and the reasoning behind his absence in school. She hoped it didn’t have anything to do with his mother being sick. He held up his end of the bargain, she would have to give him her number.

 

 

 

“Hello anyone there?”

“Huh?” she looked up at Natasha. “I wondered what’s got you spacing out.”

“I was just think about Axel.”

“Really?”

“No Natasha not like that. I just, oh I don’t know. He wasn’t in class and Brad said something pretty weird to me.”

“What did he say?”

“He called me innocent rose.”

“Well, from the sounds of it. Axel kicked as his butt. He was banged up pretty bad. You know, if you want to see him that bad he doesn’t live too far from the school. Here’s his address.” Natasha said passing a piece of paper to her. Iris looked at her in surprise. She didn’t know Tasha knew him.

“Our parents are friends,” she said answering her unspoken question. She watched her friend retreat down the hall. Why was everyone acting so strange? She wondered if there was anything in the lunch meat.

 

 

 

Iris found herself in front of a nice two story two car garaged home. It was the type of home you’d expect to see in suburbia middle class America. The red brick told of his traditional style, and the bushes were trimmed meticulously. It was a nice colonial styled home. She stood facing the door with her hand raised and wondered why she was even here. She was just here to drop off Axel’s homework and hightail it back home. She glanced behind her. She had Ryan parked the car a couple of block away from the house.

“I don’t even know what I’m doing here,” she said aloud running her hands through her hair.

Iris stood at the formidable mountain. Its jagged cliff sides seemed imposing and dared her to take a step closer. She moved to take a step, suddenly loose boulders came down the mountain bringing her to a halt. She swallowed her nervousness and screeched when a hand fell on her shoulder.

“What are you doing here?”

“Axel,” she whispered looking into those blue eyes. Today they seemed darker and much more imposing. Why was she here? She held her breath as he circled her reminding her of a predator right before it pounced tearing into the flesh of its prey. “What are you doing her little swan?”

She looked on bewildered that was a new name, one he’d never used before. She chewed her lip nervously. She was standing trial, those who judged sat at tall and threatening podiums watching her squirm like a worm from a bird.

“Homework?” she continued to watch him as he circled her. Why did he pace around like the wild things of the amazon. She gulped nervously. This wasn’t the same shy boy from before. She watched as indecision flickered behind his eyes, he grabbed her hand and she followed him into the unknown.

 

 

 

She watched Axel as he stretched out on the bench in the empty park. The sun would be setting soon and she knew she was going to have a lot of answering to do once she made it home. For some strange reason she couldn’t shake Axel, he fascinated her. His hair was unkempt on his head, he wore a dark leather jacket, jeans and boots. It was a complete different look than what she was accustomed to seeing. He had the whole rebel thing going on.

“So are you going to just stand there and look at my pretty face all day?” Iris didn’t like him when he was this way, it reminded her of a certain someone who couldn’t keep his hands to himself.

“Who said anything about your face being pretty?” She huffed out crossing her arms. He turned on his side facing her. “Hmm, this is new. You don’t think I’m attractive?”

Iris stared into his beautiful blue eyes but a pair of violet ones flashed in her mind. “I’ve seen better, I was just here to check on you. You missed class today.” She said turning on her heel. She really needed to get back. The moment she turned her back, she became the lamb exposing her vulnerability to the wicked wolf who was waiting to devour her.

She inhaled sharply as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her back into his chest.

“I like you. You’re something else, something different, and something new.” Iris turned his arms and gently shoved his chest. “What’s with you? I never know what I’m getting.” She said frustrated. She watched confused as he gave her a devious smirk. “I’ll let you in on a little secret.”

Iris held her breath. She wanted to know.

“They call me Jay.” Was that it? What was so secretive about that? It was nothing but a nickname. It didn’t seem like anything special. She shrugged her shoulders at him.

“Look I’ve got to go. I just wanted to make sure you were okay.” He took her by surprise when he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him. His lips were on hers and when he bit down on her bottom lip she snatched her face away.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” It didn’t matter whether or not she liked that kiss. It didn’t belong to him.

“I just thought I should satisfy that burning curiosity of yours.”

“You are such a bastard,” she said storming away from him. She heard his dark chuckle behind her. What was wrong with him?

 

 

 

Iris climbed into the car.

“I’m sorry for keeping you waiting Ryan. I didn’t think I would be long.”

“You be careful miss. I didn’t like the look of his character.”

“He’s as harmless as a fly. Nothing is wrong with him.” She said reassuring Ryan. She didn’t know if she was doing for his sake or for her own. She smiled and finally got out of the car glad to be home. She raced into the house. “I’m home!”

She looked at the note on the fridge from her parents. They’d gone to some formal dinner party. Yes! She was glad she wasn’t stuck attending. She left everything in the family room and rushed to see her horse before the sun completely set.

 

 

 

“Don’t worry Blitz, Iri will be here in a minute and then we’ll both be happy.”

Iris watched as he brushed her horse and tended to him. She giggled when he ate the apple greedily that Chester offered him.

“Hey, how long have you been there?” Chester asked. He hoped she hadn’t heard all his secrets he’d been pouring out to the horse. It was enough to make him want to flee.

“Not long,” she said running into his open arms. She sank into his embrace and took a whiff of him.

“Are you smelling me?” he asked. Iris looked up into his smiling face and her face combusted. She broke away from his arms. “No!” She shouted embarrassed. Chester chuckled at the flaming red girl. He smiled as she backed away from him.

“Where are you running to, little Iri?” he whispered. He watched as she bit her lip and shook her head from side to side. Why did she have to be so cute?

“Eep!” she squeal before taking off. “Not so fast!” Chester shouted running after her. Her laughter floated behind her and spurred him on. He felt so carefree when he was with her. They raced through the house and he finally cornered her in the studio.

“Cheese, I’m tired.” She puffed out. Chester snickered, he wasn’t going to let her get away so easy. “Nope. You owe me.”

“Fine. You get one request.” Chester grinned at her as he followed her to the kitchen. He already knew what he wanted. He would be patient for now.

 

 

 

He had a brandy and coke while he waited for the pizza to arrive.

“You know you’re not supposed to be drinking,” she chastised him. “Those rules don’t apply to the rich and famous; I’m sure you’ve had a couple of drinks before. If I remember correctly you enjoy champagne, but your favorite is vodka.”

She bit her lip. He had her there. “But there was always adult supervision.”

“Well you know, I’m eighteen now and according to state law I’m an adult.”

“But you’re still in school.”

“Currently no.”

“Why not?” she exclaimed looking at him with wide eyes. Chester didn’t want to go back to school he was tired of people trying to use him to gain popularity. He was on break from his latest tour but not for very long. His manager had committed to some dates and he was going to have to leave soon. He wanted to spend as much time with her before he had to leave. Unfortunately for him, he was still stuck at best friend status.

“It’s complicated,” he started when the doorbell rang. Chester was glad for the reprieve. He’d have to come clean sooner or later.

10

Torn

 

 

He hated this place. The pendulum swung repetitiously drawing his attention reminding him of the ever presence of Lisa Covington. He disliked everything she stood for. How could she be so tranquil when he was raging on the inside? Yesterday had felt so different. He felt free and in control. Here he was merely an exhibit to gawk and poke at. There was no helping him. He learned early on to bury his desires.

“Axel, do you know why you’re here?” she asked looking at him from under her specs. She would be hot if she’d loosen up, but she was ever the professional. Why bothered with the façade? He knew she was there for him just like she knew that he didn’t care what she had to say.

“Why bother. You’re just going to tell me anyway,” he said finally flopping onto the chaise. What she needed in this office was a dart board. It was a great stress reliever. He wondered if the poor doctor even knew the truth probably not. Did he dare tell her? His mother’s face flashed in his mind and discarded the thought. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt her.

“Axel Rotterdam, are you listening.”

“Hmm?” he looked at her surprise. It was the first time he felt comfortable in her office to lose focus. “What’s on your mind?” she asked tentatively. He wished his swan was here she wouldn’t be so timid. She called him a bastard and stormed away from him like a mad woman, the kiss they shared kept him up all night long. He couldn’t wait to see her again. He wondered what she’d do next. His phone rang interrupting their little meeting. He answered.

“I need you at home.” No hello, how’s everything going? It was always the same. He sighed exhausted. He couldn’t understand why he felt so defeated. He smiled sadly at the doctor. “Everything you think you know is a complete lie.” He wiped the single tear that fell from his eye and turned away from the doctor who at a loss for words.

“Axel?”

“I’m sorry doctor, mommy needs me right now. I got to go. Bye!”

 

 

 

Psychiatrist Lisa Covington stared after her latest patient. There was something fishy going on in the home and she was going to get to the bottom of it, that boy needed her help more than ever.

 

 

***

 

 

He entered his home and avoid making eye contact with anybody. He quickly went to his room and sat his things down. He needed to talk to his father to see where mother was.

“Glad your finally hope boy. How’d it go?” his father asked him while having a glass of whiskey.

“I didn’t finish because mommy needed me.” He watched his father slam his glass down on the counter.

“It’s you! Speak up!” He rolled his neck to get rid of the confusion.

“You know how it is dad. I just sit and listen while she talks. I rather be at football practice.”

“We can get you into a good school. You just keep it up. The scouts will be out soon. You’ve already made a name for yourself. No distractions and one day you could be playing in the national football league son.”

“That’s the goal.”

“Good. Now I’m going out. I need you to keep an eye on your mother and your bother. I have no idea what he’s been up to. There may be a doctor who can help your mother, but she’s costly. We might have to hold off for a while. I have to make sure we have your college tuition covered.”

“Yes sir.”

“Good boy. See you later son.”

“Bye dad.” Axel watched his father leave. He was just glad he was in a good mood. All he had to do was follow the plan and everything would be okay.

 

 

 

“Hey what are you doing?” Axel jumped when he heard James. His nine year old brother looked at him with hard eyes.

“Nothing, I’m going to check on mom.”

“Oh, it’s you,” he sneered. Axel glanced at his little brother. He had sapphire eyes and raven colored hair. They were very similar in appearances except for the eyes, Axel had a lighter color.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” He watched his brother frown. “Are you going to help him kill her too?” What kind of question was that? He would never do such a thing. It was insane. He shook his head to clear his mind as things blurred for a second.

“Look kid. Don’t worry about things, that’s my job.” He smiled when James launched himself into his arms. “Wipe those tears, everything is going to be fine. I got a plan.”

“But Jay, what are we going to do. I don’t think we can afford college and mom’s medical bills. I heard dad talking and things are apparently worse than what they seem. He was talking about life insurance policies and stuff.”

Life insurance? Why would dad be talking about that? “You don’t worry. I told you I got it covered. Now I have to go check on mom.”

“Alright doofus.”

 

 

***

 

 

Iris was early to class and no, she was not sitting here thinking about Axel or waiting for him to show up. She just wanted to have a good lesson today.

“So how did it go with Axel yesterday?” Natasha asked her. Iris didn’t know how much she should tell Natasha. She didn’t need a lecture and was tired of everyone telling her how dangerous he was. He had a little rebellion going on, but it was nothing out of hand.

“It was cool. I was just trying to get some clarification about what happen with Brad. I keep forgetting to give him my number.”

“Smooth,” Natasha chuckled. “How do you know him anyway?”

Natasha blanched but it was briefly. “My mom is a doctor.”

“I didn’t know that,” Iris exclaimed, maybe she could tell Natasha about her life. “I know Axel’s mom is really sick.”

“Yeah, it’s really sad. He doesn’t let anyone know about it. How’d you find out?”

“She had an episode when we were leaving the grocery store. I haven’t said a word. I wouldn’t even have told you if you hadn’t said your mom was a doctor. I’m assuming she’s treating his mother.” Natasha didn’t get a chance to reply. The professor walked in ready to start class when Axel walked in behind him.

Iris pretended that she wasn’t frolicking in a fantastical forest in utter happiness because he was there. She glanced at Natasha when she cleared her throat. Natasha gestured toward the broken pencil in her hand and Iris flushed, so she was a little excited she couldn’t help herself.

“Hey.”

“Hi Axel,” she muttered looking down. When she continued to feel his presence she glanced up and gazed into his startling eyes. They were clouded and confused. She wondered what was on his mind. Her finger twitched from her need to reach up and smooth the crease between his brows. She was stupid. She didn’t even know why she bothered with him. He was such a douchebag last night. She didn’t know what to expect from him. It was oddly disconcerting.

 

 

 

Axel sat in his seat once class started, but he couldn’t keep his eyes off Iris. If his dad knew he was focusing on a girl instead of his studies, he would get an earful. The scouts were going to be at the school soon and he needed to be playing in tip top form. He excelled in his studies because his dad wanted to make sure they had everything covered, when they came to draft him. But Iris had the prettiest colored eyes he’d ever seen. She was so different from the other girls, soon his eyes drifted over towards Natasha her friend. Whenever he looked at her his head hurt. He clasped it in his hands. Maybe he should get it check out. He’s been having an awful lot of headaches lately.

“You alright?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he grunted returning his focusing toward the teacher.

 

 

***

 

 

Axel was glad the day was over. He’d been feeling strange since seeing Iris and he was afraid that something happened, but he couldn’t remember. School had let out a while ago, the students glad to be released from the confines of the classrooms. If it were only that simple for him. Things were a little tense on the football team. Axel was the starting quarter back and Brad had been his tight end. The plays wouldn’t work if they weren’t in sync and it was obscenely obvious at today’s practice.

 

 

 

“I don’t care what happened. Leave it in the damn locker room!” the coach yelled at the two once practice was over. Axel hung his head in shame. He hated to disappoint people and he could tell he’d let his coach down. He needed to go for a run to release some pent up frustration. Axel began to strip in the locker room. He groaned when Brad approached him.

“Didn’t know you were that kind of person. You should have told me you were seeing the girl. I thought I was your bro,” Brad said angrily.

“Dude, I’m sorry. I just…I don’t know. I lost it.”

“That’s all you can say. Dude, you bloody me up. I wasn’t expecting that from someone who’s back I’m always covering. Don’t worry about it. I’ve already warned her.”

“What the hell are you talking about Brad?” Axel could feel his hands trembling and the world became distorted.

“Dude calm down,” Brad said backing away with his hands up. “I’m just looking out for her. There’s something wrong with you Axel or Rex. Whatever one you prefer.”

 

 

 

Brad realized he’d bitten off more than he could chew when he saw the fury in Axel’s eyes. He didn’t know why he always pushed the guy’s buttons. It wasn’t his fault, he made it so easy. He would never admit that it was his fear for his classmate that made him mean.

“What’s going on in here?” the coach asked.

“I was leaving,” Axel said moving past both of them.

 

11

Kisses and Fireworks

 

 

“I’m paying you a lot of money to fix him!” he thundered.

“Mr. Rotterdam, it is unnecessary to use that tone or language in this office, and I can’t do anything until he opens up more.”

“I don’t have the time. The scouts are coming and I refuse to see a chance of a lifetime for him go down the drain. Now if I don’t see some results I will take my business somewhere else.”

“But sir, you can’t. Dissociative Identity—”

“I don’t want to hear it! Fix it!” he roared as he stormed out of the psychiatrist’s office. Lisa sighed, she had no idea how she was going to help him when his father wouldn’t even acknowledge Axel had a problem. She looked down at her diagnosis while massaging her temples.

 

 

Dissociative identity disorder is a severe form of dissociation, a mental process which produces a lack of connection in a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. Dissociative identity disorder is thought to stem from trauma experienced by the person with the disorder. The dissociative aspect is thought to be a coping mechanism -- the person literally dissociates himself from a situation or experience that's too violent, traumatic, or painful to assimilate with his conscious self.

 

 

Lisa Covington was beautiful woman. She had creamy caramel colored skin and bright almond eyes to match. Her eyes were distant when her daughter entered and the confusion in them eluded to the complexities of her thoughts.

“Mom?”

“Hi sweetie. How was school today?”

“It was good. I’m worried about my friend Iris. I think something happened with her and Axel.”

“Why would you think that sweetie?”

“I don’t know they seemed weird.”

“Well darling you know I can’t talking to you about Axel. Confidentiality, HIPAA laws prevents me from doing so and mom wants to keep her job.”

“I know but.”

“No buts. Now are you still crushing on little Axel after all the years?”

“Bye mom!” Natasha squealed before making a beeline towards the door. Her mother chuckled at her antics, how was her little girl going to get home if she had the keys.

 

 

***

 

 

Iris sighed when she got home. School was going fine but she felt like everyone was keeping something from her, and Axel was just well a mystery. She launched herself into Chester’s arms, smiling into his beautiful violet eyes. He always made her heart race. She wondered if he remembered he stole her fist kiss, it was something she’d never forgot; without her knowledge her eyes locked onto his lips. They were so smooth and he had the most beautiful smile she’d ever seen. She licked her lips reflexively.

“Iris?” she glanced at him surprised. She was a nice bun warming in the oven and the temperature had risen to four hundred degrees. Shoving Chester away from her she fled to her room. Once she reached the safety of her room she closed the door and buried her face into the pillow. Why did she have to like boys?!

 

Oh no! He saw me staring at his lips like they were James Dean’s leather jacket! He knows! I’ve ruined everything.

 

Thump! Thump!

 

Her heart beat painfully in her chest and she held her breath as Chester entered the room. She was a complete mess. She was the sun having a solar flare. She was ablaze, the high energy radiated from her skin eluding to the chaos that took place inside of her. Was it possible for a person to erupt?

 

 

 

“Iri?” She heard the question in his tone, but she kept her face buried in the pillow. After all the years he was going to find out she’d been crushing on him, not only was she confused by Axel’s presence, a certain someone else plagued her thoughts. She grunted as Chester covered her body with his own and ignored the feeling burning in the pit of her stomach. His hands wrapped around her wrists. She buried her face further into the pillow, as his lips grazed her ear.

“Iri. It’s okay. No more running.” What was he talking about? She wasn’t running. She was regrouping preparing for the battle that laid ahead. “Cheese what are you doing?” she gasped out as he flipped her over and stared into her eyes.

“Stop running from me Iris,” he panted out heavily. This was the moment he’d been waiting for. He wanted to profess his feelings for her but wasn’t sure how she’d respond until today.

“I wasn’t running. I was…” her sentence was cut off by a kiss. Iris gasped into his mouth and was blown away by the fireworks that rocketed into the realms. The brilliance of colors dazed her, and left her speechless by their intensity. She’d been blinded, and left at a loss for words staring into the brightest pair of violet eyes she’d ever seen. They were so unique.

“Wow,” she whispered touching her lips. His snickers filled the silent room bringing heat to her face once again.

“I’ve been wanting to do that for a while now.” He gave her a chaste kiss before releasing her. She sat up and looked at Chester with wide eyes; her face was bound to liquefy at this point.

“How did you know?” she stuttered out. Iris felt as if she were in a labyrinth its complex structure of passages muddled her already addled brains. She sought to find the key and free herself. She was so close to obtaining her goal when the door to her room opened.

“Hey kids, dinner will be ready soon. Iris there’s an event this weekend and I want you to attend. Tootles.” Iris groaned as her mother closed the door. She didn’t want to go anywhere this weekend.

“Hey, it comes along with being part of an elite crowd. You really should just accept it.”

“Not you too Cheese. C’mon I’m hungry let’s see what’s for dinner.”

 

 

***

 

 

Iris stood grumpily next to her parents as she cursed Chester. He was able to skip out on this little party. Tables were covered in beautiful cloth, succulent dishes thrived in the light begging to be tasted and there was an abundant of alcohol. She wore an off the shoulder black dress that hugged her curves with metallic pumps to match. The tear drop diamond necklace her parents got her sparkled in the light. Iris felt naked with all her hair piled on her head.

 

“Iris! Hey darling glad you could make it.” Iris wanted to roll her eyes as Jean-Pierre approached. She was starting to think her mother was trying to set them up. It was just like her, she would love to have a fashion designer in the house.

“Jean.”

“Don’t be that way, especially when I’m about to do you a favor.”

“What is that?” she huffed out.

“Show you some real fun,” he said smiling deviously at her. Iris heart thumped in her chest. What was up with her and bad boys. Don’t let the perv get you. Not the perv. Nope. Not happening.

“What are you doing?” he asked quizzically. Iris opened her eyes and glanced at him. She hadn’t realize that she sought the altar of the gods, offering them her prayers, hopes and dreams only to be mocked and dragged back to realty by this man. It seemed Hades was the only person who came to answer her call.

“Fine,” she said and her shoulders sagged as Jean-Pierre dragged her to her doom.

 

12

Love Square?

 

 

Iris followed behind Jean-Pierre and didn’t really understand why she did it. She wanted to know his story, he was a mystery just like everyone else. It wasn’t very often that she came across someone with Latin Descent with a name like Jean-Pierre. It was usually Juan, Luis, or Mario.

“Why Jean-Pierre?” she asked as he led them to another entertaining area. He froze and glanced back her. “My mother is French and my father is from Honduras.” He briskly turned around and she followed him. Was it a sore subject for him? Did she offend him? Was he angry? She should return to the front; before she could voice her opinions they stopped. They were in another opulent room. People sat around on premium leather furniture. There were people cuddled up a little too close and a little too touchy for her taste. She didn’t think Jean-Pierre would take her to such a place. She fought back the need to close her eyes and run away, as a woman shoved her hands down the pants of her male companion. Iris remained transfixed by the expression on his face. He sat with his legs spread and the woman next to him. His head rested on the back of the couch and the look of euphoria, pleasure on his face made her want to capture it. She blanched when he opened his eyes and connected with her. Damn. She’d been caught. Jean-Pierre took her hand into his and smiled interrupting the battle of wills between her and the unknown man.

“Rest assured, I would never bring you to such a place. I’m grabbing a jacket. I don’t want you to catch a cold. Wait here and don’t move.” Iris nodded as she watched as he disappeared quickly from view. She was glad that he wouldn’t stoop so low.

“Hmm, you’re not his type.” Iris eyes flickered toward the brunette who watched her with dark eyes and a dark pixie cut. It was edgy and sleek.

 

Bitch. I’m turning into a regular sailor. It’s a good thing people can’t read minds.

 

“Look there isn’t—,”

“Iris!” She smiled relieved as he rushed quickly to her side. Taking her into his arms she wanted to rebuff the woman, but there was something weird going on. She held in the blush that threaten to rise when both his hands came down on her hips as he pulled her into body. It was the first time Iris had been pressed flushed against a man. She didn’t know how to feel, only that her breathing hitched when Jean-Pierre lips grazed her ear.

“Relax,” he whispered. Immediately, Iris felt all the tension leave her body as she sunk into the embrace.

“Jean, I miss you.” The woman pouted watching her. Iris felt Jean-Pierre’s hands tighten reflexively on her waist. This woman did something to hurt him. It opened her eyes a little; it explained a lot of things about him.

“Kimberly. I can’t say it was a pleasure. Iris come.” Iris heart—a humming bird who flitted around wildly, singing its tune, weaving its song caused her brain to scramble.

“Don’t be that way Tig,” she said reaching for Jean-Pierre. Iris heard his sharp intake and fury rushed savagely through her veins. She would not allow this woman to bullying him or dismiss her. She slapped her hand away from him.

“Don’t touch him! He belongs to me. You’re nothing but a relic from the past. Jean has moved on. It’s not very becoming of you to continue pursue him and display yourself in this manner.”

 

Wait! Huh? What?! What the hell am I doing?! He’s not mine! I don’t know why I’m doing this. Or why I get sick pleasure in seeing hurt flash in that woman’s eyes. That’s it. I’ve lost it.

 

Iris turned and stared into Jean-Pierre eyes. She didn’t know what made her do it. It was such an intimate gesture, but she reached up and caressed his face. He grabbed her hand and held it in place. Iris had a knack for solving mysteries, but right now she just wanted to protect him. She didn’t notice the woman storming off. She cleared her throat as the blush finally tore through her. What was she doing here? She had enough boy troubles. She didn’t need to be adding anymore to the mix. He released her. Iris was afraid to be alone with him. She didn’t want to get to know him. He was supposed to be some sleazy perverted guy.

“I think I should get you back to your parents.” She glanced him but he wouldn’t meet her eyes. Iris didn’t like this feeling, she wanted to take him into her arms and tell him everything will be okay; but she was afraid. She needed to get away. Clear her mind and return to her safety net.

 

 

***

 

 

The moon was high in the sky the tempo of his heart matched the pace he ran as his feet repeatedly pounded the pavement. This was the only time he could be free, the only time he could be himself. He was running and hadn’t figured out what he was running from. There was something they had in common. They wanted her. They wanted Iris McDerman.

 

 

 

Iris was glad to be back home. She searched for Chester but he wasn’t there. Whatever happened between her and Jean-Pierre scared her. She wanted nothing to do with it. All she wanted was Chester. She would have to tell her mother that she couldn’t hang around Jean-Pierre anymore. She wasn’t being a coward, everyone was entitled to make choices and she chose to not hang around him.

“Iris?”

“Eep!” she squealed. “Baby are you okay.” Iris sat at the counter having a cup of tea. Her mother caught her off guard.

“I’m fine mom. Thanks for asking.” Her mother sat next to her. Iris glanced at her from her peripherals. Her mom was so beautiful. “I want you to know that I’m here for you. I know you take after your father, but I’m here. When you need me I will always be here waiting.”

 

Iris felt her heart freeze in its tracks, she nodded slowly at her mother’s words. She was so emotional and all over the place, she didn’t even understand what was happening. Her mother left her to her tea. Iris had to appreciate her mom even though she drove her crazy with all the dresses and whatnot, her mother always knew when to push and not to. She was grateful to her. She finished her cup of tea ready to turn in for the night. It had been a long one. She climbed the stairs showered and dressed in a thin silk night gown in hopes of cooling her overheated body.

 

 

 

She stretched slowly waking. It was Sunday.

 

Guess, I better enjoy the day before I have to return to the boxed building and deal with all the misery and woe that comes with it.

 

She ran her hand through her blonde hair when the door swung open. It was Chester. What’s wrong with him? He stood staring at her like a fish out of water. She combusted as she remembering she wore nothing but a thin silk gown. She opened her mouth to scream when he moved. He covered her mouth with his own kissing her.

“You’re so beautiful,” he whispered staring into her eyes. He quickly pecked her on the lips and ran his eyes down her body. She had all the curves in the right places. He groaned releasing her.

“I’ll let you get dress.” Iris simply nodded as he left the room. This was the closest anyone came to ever seeing her in the nude. She swore steam was pouring out of ears right now. She hiccupped and ran to the bathroom. She didn’t want her friendship with Chester to change but secretly, she was glad she was the center of his attention. She only had to figure out Axel and just stay away from jean-Pierre.

 

Easy as stubbing my big toe on the corner table.

 

In the end, Iris ended up at the library. Chester had to go the studio. When did he sleep? Ah, the price of fame. People didn’t understand why she spent so much time in the library with all the technology out there, but she loved the feel of books in her hands. Most people would just by an eBook, it was faster and more efficient. Don’t get her wrong she has a tablet to read all her various collections, but she loved the smell of books and enjoyed hunting for old stories. It was here she stumbled into him.

 

Axel.

 

13

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

 

 

The typhoon swept through the library obliterating everything in its path; it raged on drowning her in its mist and silencing anything that may have been spoken. The only thing that could be heard was the sound of her beating heart as it attempted to lodge itself out of her chest. She wondered if their hearts beat in tune, harmonized in only a song they could comprehend.

“I’ve been waiting for you.” Iris fought the painter with great strength as he planned to paint her cheeks a creamy red and expose all her secret desires. She cursed him as he danced away in glee satisfied that her cheeks matched the color he desired. She shook away her rampant thoughts. “How did you know I would be here?” she asked biting her lip nervously. He behaved so strangely the last time and she never got around to asking him about Brad.

“Let’s call it a lucky guess,” he said sauntering closer towards her. Iris took a reflexive step back. She was a little lamb trapped looking at a pack of wolves snarling hungrily at her, licking their chops and imagining her savory favor in their bellies. She turned her back on him and clutched the book to her chest. What was going on? He confused her so, but she still loved looking into those startling azure eyes. She made the biggest mistake of her life by turning her back on him.

 

Thump!

 

His arms wrapped around her pulling her back into his chest. This was wrong, no one but Cheese had ever held her in such a manner.

 

Why does he feel so good against me? He’s not Chester, this shouldn’t be happening!

 

She detonated; blasting everything a part causing mayhem and chaos. Why was the organ in her chest careening through her body, bullying the other organs so only the sound of its beat could be heard? She stood still. She shouldn’t be here. A gasped escaped her when he placed his left hand on her forehead pulling her closer to him.

“I like this side of you. The blush it’s cute.” Speaking was tough, she’d been trapped on a desert island for so long with only salt water. She longed for fresh water to quench her thirst. “You know what I’ll like better,” he whispered in her ear.

“Axel—I” her words had been silenced by the storms his eyes became. There was rage, self-loath, pity and desire in them. She took shelter as the power shook her.

 

No. I can’t keep doing this. There’s something going on. Why all the self-loath? What did those expressive eyes mean? I want to know the reasoning behind his pain.

 

No more running. She reached for him, but was stunned when he slapped her hand away. “Stay away from me.” Ignoring the sting in her hand, she couldn’t help but question him.

“Jay what’s wrong?” she asked thunderstruck. She kept her hands behind her back. His frame was slightly hunched and his beautiful black hair a mess. He looked lost like no one wanted him. She would fix him.

“How’d you know?” he asked her. “How’d you know it was me? Tell me!” Iris didn’t speak. She pulled him into her arms. She’d known, she did the right thing when she felt the wet tears on her neck. Tiny streams flowed across her skin searching for the crevice to hold their sorrow until they formed a great lake overflowing full of pain.

 

 

 

He held on to the girl tightly. He was losing himself and fast. “Iris won’t you stay with me?” He held her closely. He didn’t want her to slip away. He was just happy that someone finally knew the truth. He wouldn’t let her leave him. She must stay. She smelt of summer and sunflowers; she seemed safe. He could trust her. Releasing her, he gazed into her golden eyes. He was afraid of what he would find there, but he relaxed when he realized she didn’t pity him. Grabbing her hand he led her to the couch and they sat.

“There’s so much I want to tell you; but I want to show you something first. Meet me here tonight,” he whispered kissing her on the cheek before leaving. She was on an adventure, a journey of discovering mysteries and devouring their untold secrets. Soft as a butterfly’s wings was the kiss Jay left behind. She touched her cheek reminiscing. She couldn’t meet him tonight. She was going to be with Cheese. It still didn’t stop the waves from roaring in her ears when she thought about it; but she longed to free the prince in the tower. He was gone. What was she going to tell her family? He didn’t even specify a time. She wouldn’t tell them a thing. She would steal into the night like star crossed lovers rebelling against their family wishes.

Wait a minute…they weren’t star crossed lovers. She had Cheese and he had her. She didn’t know what they were yet but they were something. She cursed her thoughts as an image of Jean-Pierre briefly flashed through her mind. Why were boys so complicated? Although, she really couldn’t call Jean-Pierre a boy. He was a man. He was twenty-four years old. Iris ran screeching through the library as she remember his hands on her waist that night, they were hypnotic and their imprints had been seared in her skin.

 

I’m such a whore! Lusting after all these men. Please someone help. This girl needs to cool her libido. I’m starting to think someone casted a sex spell on me. Why else would I be slowing drowning under all these hot males?

 

“Iris what’s got you acting so erratic?” her mother asked. Iris couldn’t help that her heart was racing in her chest and her adventures were just beginning. She would not allow the fireworks to ignite and give away her feelings. Her mother smiled.

 

Damn you fireworks!

 

“Is it a boy?” her mother asked squealing. Iris stood doe eyed looking at her mother. She’d been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, and the chocolate and crumbs were still around her mouth giving her away. “Tell me!” her mother asked hugging her. “Oh Iris! It’s about time. I was worried for so long!”

“Mom, your smothering me.” She did not want to be crushed in between the valley of her mother’s breasts. “I’ll tell you! Just let me go woman!” she shouted breaking free of her claws.

“What’s going on in here?” her dad asked. “Iris has a crush!” her mother answered. Surely there was a brief case hiding in some obscured corner with a bomb in it that would detonate in a minute and save her from her impending doom.

“Who is the lucky guy?” her dad asked with a gleam in is eyes. Iris backed away from both parents. They were both crazy. She hoped craziness skipped a generation because she wanted no part in it. Shaking her head, she backed away from her parents as they closed in on her. Her dad had an evil glint in his eye and her mom, the clown smile stretched across her face, reminded her why she hated them so much. She backed right into another problem.

 

 

 

“You all are noisy tonight. What’s going?” Chester asked as Iris’s back connected with his chest. She immediately relaxed. Chester always made her feel better.

“Iris I want to know who the lucky guy is?” her mother whined stomping her foot while her father chuckled at her antics. This was all becoming too much for one girl to handle. She felt like she was out of her element.

 

And what was her element…fire?!

 

“Why I’m the lucky guy!” Chester said grinning at her parents and wrapping his arms around her.

 

Thump!

 

The chemicals reacted and the planets aligned, their vividness apparent to all who happened to witness their beauty. Her body trembled at his nearness. She remembered their earlier time together when he kissed her. She turned to putty and was a pile of nothingness on the floor. Cheese chuckled at her and planted a kiss on her forehead before leaving. Iris hiccupped.

 

Don’t go. Please don’t leave me with these people!

 

“So, missy when were you going to tell me about little Chester?”

“Mom? Please. Not now,” she begged. Was it possible to combust? The particles in her body were going haywire.

“Dear let’s give her a break. I’m sure you can have your girl time with her later.” Iris jumped for joy and bowed down before her magnificent King, her savior, her everything. She stopped midstride when a sinister look crossed his face and he smiled down indulgently at her.

“I’m sure Chester and I will be having a talk real soon.”

It wasn’t fair! Her revered King turned out to be a devil in disguise. A demon that sought out the dark souls in this world and feast on the blood of those who posed a threat to its treasure.

“But daddy,” she whined.

She stopped as the demon stalked through the eerily quiet forest. The moon was high and the monsters that lurked in the shadows came out to play. When he turned his gaze upon her she stilled. She gulped loudly and wished the best of luck to Chester before fleeing to her room.

 

 

***

 

 

He was happy. He couldn’t wait to tell her the truth. He crept silently into the house. He didn’t feel like dealing with his father of the year at the moment. He just wanted to savior moment. She was a beautiful girl and she was quite different from the others.

 

 

 

“Look, I don’t know how were going to afford this. I’m being buried in medical bills and Axel’s graduation is coming up. There’s no guarantee that he would get picked up by a school. They’ll want to take a closer look at him. I can’t have them finding out about his condition.”

He lingered outside the den listening to his father conversation. What was he going to do about his mom?

“I don’t know. We can’t afford a world class heart surgeon. I don’t want to pay for something and then have the procedure fail!” He looked up when he spotted his younger brother on the stairs. He moved towards him.

“Jay what are you doing here?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that question?” he said smirking at his little brother. They walked quietly to his room. Jay was taken by surprise when his brother launched himself into his arms.

“I’m so glad that you’ve been around lately.”

“No tears kid, I plan on sticking around this time.”

They would get through this together.

 

14

Falling for the Wrong Guy

 

 

Iris sat in her room thinking. She wanted to save Jay, the only problem was…she didn’t know what she was rescuing him from. Her feelings were all mashed up. She knew she felt safe with Cheese but Jay was something different, foreign, an elusive piece of art. She had to have him. She was grateful for the reprieve she got from her parents. Confused she ran her fingers through her hair.

Was she ready for the rest of the world to know about her and Cheese. She fought so hard to live as close to a normal life as possible. Would everyone turn their back on her if they found out she was rich and in some ways a prodigy? She sighed at the daunting thought. Tonight would be the night she discover everything about Jay. She would find out why he prefers Jay over Axel. She rolled over reaching for her cellphone—it was Natasha.

“Hey whatcha doing?”

“Nothing. Reading.”

“You want to hang out, see a movie or something. I’m trying to escape the little brat that’s clawing my leg.” Iris giggled hearing Natasha’s younger sister in the background.

“I can’t I got plans.”

“Do you have a hot date with Axel?”

“No, I have one with Jay,” Iris answered. She smiled thinking of him. He was such a mystery.

Natasha stared at the phone in her hand. It was impossible. Jay belonged to her. Did he forget? Did he forget their promises?

“That’s great!” she said enthused. She really didn’t know if she was doing this for Iris or for her own selfishness.

“Look, Iris be careful. He dangerous.”

“In what way? Everyone says that but I’m sick of it.”

“Look I was just trying to help you out. My mom is his psychologist.” Natasha said into the phone. She realized her mistake a little too late. She slapped her hand over her mouth and hung up.

“Mom!” Natasha screamed searching for her mother. She flew into her arms when she spotted her in the family room watching TV. “What’s the matter dear?”

Natasha kept her face buried in her mother’s lap. She had held on to this secret for so long but she wanted him. He belonged to her. Why should she keep her promise when he broke his?

 

 

***

 

 

Iris screamed into her pillow in frustration. Why would Natasha keep such important information from away from her? If it was such a big secret why tell her now? Did something tragic happened to Axel? Was that the reasoning behind his need for a psychiatrist? Maybe, his mother’s illness was taking its toll on him? She was so confused. If Axel, err Jay as he preferred it was so dangerous, why wouldn’t anyone just come out and tell her why it was so detrimental to her health to be around him? He was so different from what she’d imagine. Iris groaned as her mother’s calls for her reached her.

“Coming mom!” she thundered down the stairs aggravated. She wanted to know what the fuss was about. Cheese had gone to the studio and she was anxious about sneaking out to see Jay tonight. It wouldn’t be really sneaking out. She was a responsible young adult. She just didn’t want her parents all in her business, and she was still confused.

She stopped on the last stair when she saw Jean-Pierre. What was he doing here? Her heart when into overdrive. She was supposed to be avoiding him. She didn’t want anything to do with him. Her heart was going to launch itself out of her chest and fly to the heavens.

 

 

 

“Where’s my mother?” she asked. She held her breath when he reached for her grabbing her around the wrist and leading her to the formal sitting area.

“What are you doing here?” she fired off another question. Her breath left her as his hand closed around her wrist and he silenced her with a kiss. This kiss was different from Chester and Jay. This kiss was punishing, hard and sensual. It was on another level and her body came alive like livewire. Iris didn’t understand this. She couldn’t fathom why her heart was racing in her chest or why he made her so nervous. This wasn’t supposed to happen. She didn’t want him. When his hands came down on her waist she realized things were getting dangerous. Breaking this kiss she gasped out.

“Jean I can’t. I’m sorry. No. No this is not happening.” She said backing away from him. She had enough troubles with Jay and Chester, she didn’t not need Jean-Pierre adding to the mix.

“But it is! Stop ignoring me!” he roared at her. It’s been awhile since someone sent his blood boiling and this wisp of a seventeen year old girl managed to do so. He didn’t understand why he was drawn to her. This could only mean trouble for him. Why did the girl have the power to push him over the edge?

 

 

 

“Oh hey, this is where you two are hiding,” Giselle said to her daughter. “Honey Jean-Pierre stopped by the house to get your measurements. I wanted him to design something for you.”

“Mom, I have enough gowns.”

“But I want you to have something original,” her mother pouted with those large beautiful brown eyes.

“Fine, but hurry up.” She griped completely fed up with the both of them. “What’s with you? You going somewhere tonight?” her mother asked arching an eyebrow. Iris immediately froze. Her mother had hit the nail on the head and had no idea she did.

“Of course not. You know how I am. I’m not a dress kind of her girl,” she sighed in relief as her mother left her alone. Iris hoped she and her father go find an event or something to go to. She felt like everyone’s been watching her lately. She was no longer a fly on the wall. She was a large centipede.

“That’s clearly a lie,” Jean-Pierre said placing his hands on her waist. Iris squealed backing away from him. She’d forgotten he was in the room with her. She watched him as he sunk into one of the leather chaises. “So where are you going?”

“I don’t have to tell you a thing,” she said childishly sitting across from him. Didn’t he already have her measurements? What if this was just an excuse to feel her up. His obsidian black eyes stared into her own attempting to get her to divulge her secrets. She would never admit it to him, but he was such an exotic looking man. He wore simple wrangler jeans and a designer tee shirt. The shirt highlighted his muscular body. God, she shouldn’t be looking anyway. Why was he after her? She was nobody—no one important.

“Look this isn’t going to get anywhere. You are already have my measurements and I’m tired and ready for bed.” She stood up dismissing him. Her eyes couldn’t help but glance at the grandfather clock. She really needed to get dress and figure things out with Jay.

 

 

 

Jean-Pierre watched her. He didn’t like the fact that a mere seventeen year old girl was able to pull on his heart strings so easily. It was stupid, ludicrous, and impossible; but in the end, it was true. Something happened, he felt a shift within her after she addressed Kimberly at the party. When he stared down into her honey brown colored eyes he thought she could be it. It was a silly thought coming from a man of twenty-four years but he was still young, and sought a partner who wouldn’t use him for publicity. Kimberly was an older woman, who took him under her wing and showed him the ropes. The moment his designs skyrocketed to stardom, she changed. She became vindictive, mean and spiteful. She wasn’t beautiful anymore, so the second an opportunity came along he fled and never looked back.

The girl sitting in front of him was different. She’d yet to be corrupted by the industry although her family was part of a very prestigious circle. She was known among the elite because of her upbringing; however, she didn’t attend a lot of social events or parties. Regardless, she was up to something and he wanted in on the action. He’d been keeping an eye on her.

“Very well. I’ll go but this isn’t the last time you’ll be seeing me,” he said blowing her a kiss. Iris held her breath and watched him leave. She couldn’t be bothered by Jean-Pierre despite the fact her erratic heart said otherwise. It was time to go meet Jay.

 

15

Rendezvous at Midnight…It’s a Promise

 

 

Iris didn’t know quite how to feel. She had made Ryan swear he would keep her visit with Jay a secret, and the only way he would keep her secret is if she promised to be back in an hour, that didn’t leave her much time. She shooed Ryan—her driver away as she sat on the library steps. She understood why he had some reservations. What decent young lady would be found sitting outside at night on the stairs of a library? This was not another teen movie. At least there was a beautiful crescent shape moon in the sky that provided additional light. She did feel a lot better knowing Ryan was close.

 

 

 

“You came.”

Iris looked up and she took flight into the sky, marveling at its limitless beauty. Jay was here. He stood in front of her like a phantom, and held his hand out to her. This was the magic moment in the fairytale she always dreamt of. Should she take it? The second she placed her hand in his, long fingers wrapped around her own providing her with warmth. She stared at their joined hands in wonder, it was such a simple gesture but intimate nonetheless.

“You’re not going to faint on me are you?”

“No!” she said indignantly looking at his back as he led her to another place. Where would he get such an idea? Why would she faint? She wasn’t a pansy. There was a subtle grin on her face as he turned away and led her into the unknown. She thought about her feelings, wouldn’t most people be a little anxious about someone leading them to some unfamiliar destination at night? The wind ruffled his hair and her fingers itched to straighten it. This boy was something foreign—an alien species that she was curious to learn more about. A slight frown marred her face when they stop in front of an old cathedral church.

 

 

 

“Jay, I don’t understand. What are we doing here?” It was so hard to follow his thought process and it intrigued her endlessly. She looked down at their intertwined hands. His fingers were long and they wrapped around hers cocooning them—she shook it away, the image of a more masculine hand wrapping around her dainty one.

“This is the perfect place for me to reveal it all,” he said looking her in the eye. It was such an intimate moment—staring into someone’s eyes. Her heart raced in her chest and her palms became sweaty. This was completely different from staring into Chester’s violet eyes. It made her nervous, Iris wasn’t certain if that was a good thing or a bad thing. The wind howl in the night almost like an ominous warning, tendrils of hair escaped her ponytail and danced in the wind tickling her face. She tucked them behind her ear and waited for Jay to reveal his secret.

 

She unconsciously held her breath while gazing at him with stars in her eyes.

“I’m sick Iris,” he said turning serious. She froze. Sick what did he mean he was sick? He wasn’t dying was he? Her young heart was working double time in her chest and she thought it would exploded from her chest. She feared the unknown for him; she briefly wondered if there was anything her mother could do to fix him.

“Wait? What’s wrong with you? Can’t they fix it?” she asked desperation clinging to her voice.

“Axel isn’t real.” Wait a minute…what did he mean Axel wasn’t real. She was looking at him. She watched as he paced back and forth like a cage animal. Iris was in tunnel, the sounds echoed around her. She moved towards the light—the end of the tunnel where she knew Jay waited for her but the tunnel continued to expand and extend making it impossible to reach him.

“He let them believe that Axel is real. He’s not! He’s a lie to keep my family happy…to keep him happy. But my mom is sick. She’s not getting any better because he’s too worried about my college tuition.” He said grabbing Iris by the arms. Her eyes grew round. He held her tightly. She started to get anxious, was there a little bit of madness in his eye? Was this what everyone was warning her about? Suddenly, she wasn’t so sure about reaching the end of the tunnel. She stopped. When she looked up it was too late, she was already at the end staring at Jay. He held his hand out waiting for her to take it.

“Maybe, my mom could help,” she mumbled deep in thought. When Jay shook her she looked up.

“How can she help?” he asked. Iris hadn’t realize he heard her. This was the time to reveal her status in society. She wasn’t even sure her mother could help Jay’s. There had to be a reason she hadn’t had the procedure done yet right? It couldn’t only be about money. She broke free of his grasped. “Sorry,” he grumbled.

“It’s okay.”

 

But was it really?

 

She wasn’t quite sure. He’d been holding her too tightly. She was anxious now, they’d never even got around to talking about what was wrong with him.

“Do you want me to go away?” What? Why would he ask that? They had walked toward the back of the church where he sat looking dejectedly. She supposed she paused too long before she knew it he’d closed his eyes and laid down on the parking lot.

 

What was going on?

 

“Iris, what are we doing here?” he asked suddenly sitting up. Iris was getting scared now. She wasn’t so sure she wanted to solve this mystery; maybe she should head home. “Jay, I –thi,” she started out.

“I’m not Jay! I’m Axel,” he said looking at her. Natasha’s words came back to haunt her.

He’s dangerous. Be careful. My mom is his therapist.

“Axel, everything is fine,” she said backing away from him slowly.

“Of course everything is fine. What are you talking about? What’s got you so spooked?”

“Nothing,” she squeaked as her eyes darted around them. Damn. They were completely out of sight. She’d rather face Jean-Pierre. At least the moon was still shining providing some light. How long had they been out here? Ryan should come looking for her soon. Well she hoped he would come and look for her. “Did he do something to hurt you?” Axel asked worriedly.

Iris only concern was getting away from him, but she quickly disregarded it when he asked about her wellbeing. Was Axel aware of Jay? It was like he was two entities, no three she thought, recalling the shy one from earlier all mixed together in one body. It was strange. She wondered what drove him to this madness. What caused him to be this way?

 

Girl get a grip. You’re dealing with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

 

“No, no one hurt me,” she muttered pushing her hair behind her ear. “Axel what’s going on?”

Axel looked at the beautiful girl he’d grown so attached to. She was unlike anyone he’d ever know. She was a goddess bathed in the moonlight. He wondered how such a person could exist. She was taken out of a fable and placed before him. “Honestly, I don’t know myself. I just know sometimes I wake up with missing parts of my day. My life at home is pretty rough. I mean my dad tries his best you know. It’s just things got harder when mom got sick. No one wants to take the chance with this new procedure. There’s only two surgeons in the world who could do it. My dad is worried about college education. I just recently found out we’re drowning in medical bills. He doesn’t want to pay for a procedure that’s bound to fail. But I love my mother!” he said pulling at his hair. “I rather know we’ve done everything we can to save her.” A lump formed in Iris throat. She threw her arms around the despairing boy. She’d do everything in her power to help.

“I will help you. I promise,” she said crying for him. Axel’s own whimpers soon joined hers. “I know why I’m crying, but why are you?” he asked wiping his face and stepping away from her.

“Because you are a good person,” she said grabbing him by the ears and delivering a kiss on his lips. She used her thumps to wipe away the rest of tears that settled in the crevices of his eyes.

“Shh, it’s okay. I’m here now. We will figure something out.”

“I don’t understand. What can you do?” he asked her. Iris smiled at him.

“Let’s just say, I know a doctor. Take my number. I will be in touch.” She said leaving him standing there confused.

It was only when she saw Ryan in the car her steps faltered. She initiated that kiss between them. Uh oh. She was dating Cheese, that wasn’t supposed to happen. In fact it didn’t happen. It was just a figment of her imagination. She had no feelings for him. She was just comforting him. Her gut twisted painfully at the thought of Cheese feeling or finding out about her betrayal. She couldn’t do that. Her heart raced in her chest and she felt clammy. No it didn’t happen. She would help Axel and then tell Cheese about it later. It was a foolproof plan. She would reassure Cheese about her feelings for him. She ignored the sinking feeling in her gut when an image of Jean-Pierre flashed behind her eyes. There was just no way. She had enough trouble on her hand as it is. She didn’t want to go adding to it.

 

Climbing into the car the tension left her as she smelt the familiar scent of leather. She closed her eyes and leant her head against the window recalling the night’s events.

“I don’t like his character miss. You should stay away from him,” Ryan said making eye contact through the rearview mirror. She wanted to chuckle at his antics. Axel err Jay was as harmless as a fly. She ignored the plummeting feeling in her stomach as she recalled him grabbing her roughly. He wasn’t himself then. She was confused. She didn’t know who she preferred, Jay or Axel. In fact, she didn’t understand why she was separating them as if they were different entities. They were one and the same. Right? She had some research to do and she needed to talk to Natasha.

 

 

 

 

16

Boys are Stupid!

 

 

Iris laid in the familiar arms of Chester and of course her mind was racing full of thoughts of Axel/ Jay and a certain person she shouldn’t be thinking about. The guilt ate at her like a toxin. It settled into her stomach and spread outwards slowing consuming each limb until nothing but dead weight remained.

“Iri? You okay? You’ve been quiet lately?” Chester stared into her honey colored eyes. He knew when she got like this nothing good could come from it. He wanted to push the issue, and yet refused to. He wanted her to come to him when she was ready.

“It’s nothing…really. I’m just thinking.”

“About?”

“The greater things in life. What makes us so great? Why do people have to suffer? Why do people get sick?” He watched her solemn face. She’d been so melancholy lately. He wondered if there was anything he could do. It was funny. He was a rock star and could have any girl he desired but he was so afraid of the only one he knew changing or worse leaving him. He wouldn’t know what to do without her. She was a blanket, something warm, familiar and safe. She was his home.

 

 

 

Iris and Chester arrived to her home and Chester was surprised at the unexpected guest that sat in the entertainment area chatting along with Iris parents. It was his manager and as far as he knew everyone was aware that his personal life was off limits. If they needed to contact him they could reach him on his cell.

Iris took note of the troubled look on Chester’s face and wondered what the relationship between Cheese and the man chatting with her parents. He wasn’t a bad looking man. Dark hair styled messily adorn his head and he had the blackest pair of eyes she’d ever seen—well not as dark as a certain someone.

“I’m sorry to intrude, but I really…” Chester couldn’t stop the rage rushing through him. Iris wasn’t ready for his world and the last thing he needed was someone exposing their relationship. Chester learned early on to expect the worst from those closest around him in the music industry. It was a cut throat world, people always looking for the next opportunity to move ahead in the industry and they would do anything necessary to get there, even if it meant selling their souls.

“What are you doing here?” he wasn’t accustomed to being rude but he didn’t like the situation one bit. He wondered how much information his manager was able to siphon from Iris parents about them. He felt Iris moving to grab his hand and he immediately moved it out of reach. He hoped the subtle movement wasn’t noted by his manager. Zack was pretty sneaky to find him at this place. He kept his private life under lock and key. It only meant someone in Iris circle probably gave him the information. He would have to find out. He smiled turning to Iris, “I will call you later. I need to handle some business first.” He stared into her honey colored eyes and watched as she nodded silently at him. Her eyes were full of worry. He couldn’t help it. “Mr. McDerman may I borrow the office for a moment?”

“Sure Chester. Go ahead.” He left the thunderstruck family behind.

Iris watched Chester’s retreating back and she immediately felt selfish for hogging all of his time. Now that they were finally together her mind was filled with Axel/Jay and another person she wouldn’t name.

 

 

 

“Let’s cut the crap, what are you doing here?” he questioned his violet eye flashing angrily.

“Look, I only have your best interests at heart. You’d been running off and disappearing. The others were worried about you.”

“So you hunted me down. Followed me. Stalked my family. You know how I feel about my personal life,” he roared furiously. His blood boiled and red exploded sending his vision red.

“Chaz, calm down,” his manager said to angry youth. He hadn’t seen the boy this upset since he was fourteen years old. He truly cared about him. He wouldn’t do anything to hurt him, but Chester had been taken advantage of numerous amount of times and his heart had grown cold. It was even starting to reflect in his music.

“How can I be calm when you are standing here in my face? I’m on vacation. I’m still recording if that’s what everyone is concern about.”

“Chaz it isn’t like that. I swear.” Chester cut him off. “Did anyone follow you?” he asked.

“Of course not.”

“Good.” The small reprieve allowed some of the tension to leave him. The last thing he wanted was for Iris to be dragged into this when she wasn’t ready. “Tell the others I’ll be back in a week.” A light knock on the door halted all conversation.

“Yeah?” he shouted.

“Mom wanted me to see if you guys needed anything?” Chester sighed walking to the door.

“We’ll deal with this later,” he said dismissing his manager. He opened the door and watched Kevin leave. He saw him pause briefly as his eyes fell upon Iris. People couldn’t help it. Her eyes were a golden honey color. He’d never seen anything like it. He could lose himself in them. Clearing his throat he invited Iris in and closed the door behind him.

 

 

 

He pulled her into his arms smiling as she sank into him. “Are you okay?” she mumbled into his chest.

“Of course I am,” he said releasing her. She really was stunning and so oblivious to her beauty. He tilted her head up and kissed her. He deepen he kiss moving towards the desk. “You’re so beautiful,” he muttered before sealing their lips together once again. Iris blood rushed in her ears. It was at these times Chester seemed so different. He licked her bottom lip and her mouth parted in response. In an instant, Chester swept his tongue inside of her mouth. He inserted one of his legs in between hers. Iris could feel him pressing into her thigh. She broke the kiss and gasped as his hand slid under her shirt. Chester moved towards her neck leaving trails off kisses there. Iris whispered his name when his thumbs grazed her nipples. She wasn’t ready. It—her body screamed touch her, but her mind said no. Besides, she was still nervous.

 

Akjlrhjdfkljd, how did it get to that point so fast? I’m a regular harlot these days. I have got to get a grip.

 

“Guys! Are you coming for dinner?”

“Yes mom!” she shouted through the door, grateful for the interruption. Chester left her stunned as he grabbed her butt and grinded into her. “This is what a man feels like,” he whispered huskily into her ear. Naturally she blushed and wanted the ground to open up and swallow her. Wasn’t he a kid just like her? She pulled away from him and fled while his chuckle floated behind her. No man would be so blatant about his so called prowess.

 

Boys are so stupid!

 

Once dinner was finished and Chester left. Iris helped her mother clean the kitchen. She was trying to figure out how to bring the subject of Jay/ Axel up. She never showed any interested in her mother’s work, but now she wanted to help him out. She could do a piece and see if it her father could feature it in his gallery. She didn’t believe in taking money from people when it wasn’t hers, she wanted to earn it; her parents raised her this way. She supposed it was their way of making sure she remained down to earth. There were no handouts in life.

“Mom?”

“What is it sweetie?” Giselle wondered what it could be. Usually her daughter would be hiding in her father’s studio.

“What made you go into medicine?” Iris asked biting her lip. It wasn’t what she really wanted to ask, but she figure she could lead up to big question.

“Honestly sweetie, I love helping people. I’ve always had a knack for the sciences and the heart is a complicated organ that never cease to amaze me. Now tell me, what is it you really want to ask?”

Iris started to think her mother was psychic. “Mom, I know this kid and his mom is really sick. She has some rare heart condition and his father doesn’t want to pay for the procedure because there’s a fifty percent chance it could fail and they are already drowning in medical bills.” This was all said in rush. Iris didn’t like asking for help, she enjoyed being independent, but something a big as this she needed an adult’s perspective. Iris felt tears burn her eyes thinking of his distraught face. Why did she care so much? Why the attachment? She looked up as her mother eyes met her own. Giselle pulled her daughter into her arms and held her tight.

“If there’s anything I can do sweetie. I will help. Now tell me who this boy is?”

“His name is Axel Rotterdam. He’s the football captain at the school I attend.” She sank gratefully into her mother’s arm now that burden was over with.

Giselle held her little girl in her arms. Iris never came to her for anything, and although she never asked for much, she and Angelo wanted to give her the world. They both made sure she had the latest in technology, fashion, etc. She missed those days of dressing Iris in cute little toddler outfits. She was too young then to realize she hated the dress. Sometimes it was so hard not to be jealous of Iris’s relationship with her father. Giselle often felt alone. Finally, her baby was requesting something of her. And she was going to do everything in her power to help. Besides, who could say no to those tears?

“Now sweetie, I want you to understand something. If we go through with this, you’ll be exposed. There will be no shielding you from the public’s eye. Are you willing to sacrifice everything you worked so hard for to help this boy?” Iris blanched. Why couldn’t they keep it a secret? What about her relationship with Cheese? Would that be exposed too? Would she be able to continue to attend public school. If word got out she was a prodigy, would that make her freak?

Her mind exploded seeking answers to the infinite questions that bombarded her. She felt daze at their incessant ability to hound her relentlessly. How was this going to work? She needed time. Axel’s desperate face flashed across her mind a beautiful portrait forever frozen in its torment. She wanted to free him…to help him.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

 

Oh god. I’m going to be sick. Why am I so sweaty?

 

“Alright sweetie. I will make some phone calls.”

 

 

***

 

 

Chester returned home…err Iris house to retrieve his lyric book. He came through the back door not wanting to bother the family. He couldn’t help overhearing the conversation Iris had with her mother. Who was this guy? Why was she willing to risk everything for him when Chester had been trying to get her to stop hiding all this time? Did it mean this guy meant more to her than he did? Fury filled his body and he felt something akin to a deep hatred bloom in his chest. He was going to find him and put a stop to this shit. She belonged to him. He turned on his heels and never looked back.

 

 

17

Hollywood Unveiled

 

 

Iris opened her eyes. She had to attend class today. She didn’t get a chance to see Chester before he left. She was so worried about Axel/Jay that she neglected to pay any attention to Cheese. She swallowed the lump forming in her throat. At least, she had some good news for Axel when she got to school. Her mother was going to take care of everything and they wouldn’t have to worry about medical expenses. Rushing to the adjoining bathroom she took a quick shower got dressed. She put on a pair of black jeans and a black and white striped shirt. Shuffling downstairs, surprise flickered across her face when she didn’t see Chester sitting at the island or her mom.

“Hey sweet heart.”

“Hey dad, where’s mom?”

“We’ll she’s at the hospital. She’s prepping for surgery. It’s going to be an all-nighter for her. I just don’t understand why.” Iris briefly glance at her father while she was fixing her cup of coffee.

“What’s wrong dad?” She sat across from him, noting his hunched shoulders and the weary lines at the corner of his eyes.

“Your mother, I don’t understand why she would take on such a difficult case, especially when there’s a fifty percent chance of success or failure. If this goes bad this could ruin her medical career that she worked so hard to build.”

Iris sat stunned realizing how selfish her demands had been. “Iris honey you’re going to be late.”

“Yeah right, bye dad.” Grabbing her things she rushed out of the house searching for Ryan their driver. He waited patiently in the driveway.

“Morning Miss McDerman.”

“Ryan do you think I’m selfish?”

“Miss, what brought this on? Since you asked such a question, it would indicate you are not.” She bit her lip while she mulled his words over. She just hoped everything went well.

 

Would he hate me if his mother didn’t survive?

 

 

 

Arriving at school she was surprised to see Crystal and Amie rushing up to her with smiles on their faces. Confused she frowned at them. Why were they so friendly now?

“Omg, what your mom is doing for Axel is so nice.”

“Wait a minute, how’d you know.”

“It’s all over the news,” they gushed. “Why didn’t you tell us your dad is a world renowned artist?” Wait a minute, information about her family was plastered all over the news but why? She backed away from the girls, she didn’t want this. She saw Natasha leaning against the lockers and Iris was surprised by the look on her face.

“Are we not got enough for you?” Natasha sneered at her.

“C’mon Tasha don’t be that way. I had my reasons,” she said reaching for her. Iris took a step back, noting the rage in her friend’s light brown eyes. “What are you playing at? Is this a game? Do you even care about him? How serious are you about Jay?”

Iris stared at her friend bewildered. How was she supposed to answer those questions, when there were so many parts of Jay/ Axel that she hadn’t explored yet? She should leave him alone. She had Chester. He was an infamous rock star. The paparazzi would have a field day if they found out about them. She still hadn’t told him about the kiss.

“That’s what I thought,” Natasha said turning away.

“Are you serious? Why are you so angry?” she followed behind her. She had to know. Natasha was her only friend and she didn’t understand what she had done to warrant such a reaction from her.

 

My enemies were trying to become my friends and my friends well friend my enemy. This is why I didn’t want to say anything. Are people really that freaking fickle. I bet my ass she’s hiding something. I mean she’s acting like I betrayed her or something.

 

“Tasha, tell me! What are you hiding from me?” she asked desperately placing her had on her friends shoulder and turning her around to face her. Iris wasn’t prepared for the contempt that entered her friend’s eyes.

“You can have him!” she screamed breaking Iris’s hold on her.

“Why didn’t you tell me you love him?” she asked stunned.

 

 

 

Flabbergasted and dazed, she stood there long after the bell had rung and the halls had cleared. Defeated she turned to leave. There was no point in attending classes today. She would have to transfer schools after all. Her cover blown, she remained exposed like a new born babe taking its first breath in a new world. She’d call Ryan and have him pick her up from café down the street. She needed something to calm her nerves. A cup of tea should help. Pushing open the door Iris was bombarded by cameras and flashes of light. How did it come to this?

 

I’ve given up everything for a boy I don’t even know. I just hope his mom makes it through the procedure.

 

Pushing past the paparazzi, she wished for normalcy. “Iris, can you tell us about yourself? How does it fell to be among the elite crowd of young Hollywood?” “You had a birthday not too long ago, can you tell us who was there? Who’s your best friend?”

She’d been hit. She was a tennis ball that bounced up and down the court relentlessly until there was a break in the player’s game. Feeling a hand on her arm, jarred her out of her shocked state.

“Don’t you touch she me,” she snarled at the guy who grabbed her. Running with them hot on her trail she pulled out her cell to call for help. Her feet pounded the pavement and her heart thumped in her throat; being hunted like a wild animal was something she never imagined happening to her. Still the questions came. The loud engine of a motorcycle halted the paps momentarily, and in her haste to get away she jumped on the back and took the helmet he offered her. She recognized the bike anywhere. It was Chester to the rescue. Leaning into him, she breathe a sigh of relief as they raced away.

 

 

 

Axel sat in the waiting room while his father spoke with the charge nurse at the nursing station. He was asking for updates concerning the operation. He couldn’t believe Iris was able to help them out. He looked up at the television and was stunned to see her face plastered all over the screen. Apparently she was rich and famous. He didn’t know how to feel about it. She was so down to earth and cool. He couldn’t believe she was part of an elite group of people. He should have known something was up when a guy he didn’t know pursued him last night and warn him to stay away from her.

“God job son,” his father said clasping him on the shoulder. Axel didn’t do anything. He should be thanking Iris. “Is that your classmate?”

“Yes,” he answered hesitantly seeing the look that entered his father’s eyes. It wasn’t a very good look, it was cold and calculating. Whatever he was planning, he didn’t want anything to do with it.

“Are you two dating?”

The kiss flashed briefly through Axel’s mind. “No, sir. I don’t have time for girls. I need the football scholarship.”

“Screw the scholarship. Date her. Make her fall for you and get her pregnant. You’ll be set for life.” Axel felt like his body was going to shake apart. The tremors started and they wouldn’t stop. He liked Iris. She was nice. And she helped mother. Axel felt as if he was going to break. His vision went hazy for a brief moment.

 

 

Blank.

 

 

“Sorry old man. I got better things to do.”

“You! I don’t want you!” his father said angrily spittle flying everywhere. Jay leaned back to avoid it.

“Same here. I’m out of here.”

“Sit your ass down boy,” he threaten.

“Or you’ll do what?” he grinned maliciously as his father glanced up at the cameras. Leaving the old man behind felt pretty damn good. The relief poured off him in waves as he exited the building. It was time he put somethings in perspective. And he need her for that.

 

 

***

 

 

Chester and Iris hung out on the deck that overlooked the pool. The water was so blue and pristine. It was peaceful, a sharp contrast to what was happening. Everything—her life was falling apart, including the guilt eating at her and reminding her of her betrayal.

“Iri, I need you to tell me what’s going on. I’m here for you. I’ve always been here. I feel like your slipping away.”

Was that what she was doing? Had she become so elusive? Maybe her spirit was meant to wander. Iris didn’t even know what she wanted anymore. “I can’t go back,” she whispered. Cheese placed his arms around her and pulled her close.

“It’ll be okay.”

Would it really. Would he still murmur those sweet words after she told him about her heinous acts? She kissed him not only once, but multiple times. And the last time she initiated the kiss.

“I kissed him,” she stated quietly.

 

 

 

Nodding his head slowly, he cringed in dismay. Why would she do such a thing?

“Why?” he croaked out fighting the turbulent emotions. “Do you have feelings for him?” Chester couldn’t help the question that slipped pass his lips. He had to know.

“I don’t know.”

It was spoken softly, but it was enough for him to hear. Fuming he stood.

“Do you think this is a game? I thought we had something. I thought you were different? You’re just like the rest of them!” He yelled. His heart ached. He felt like a baby bird who’d fallen out of the nest. Pathetic and broken. Still, he squawked hoping for someone to save him from his emotional turmoil.

“I can’t do this,” he said voice cracking.

“But I love you!”

“Don’t throw the word around so casually. You can’t have us both.”

Hurt.

Agony.

He couldn’t look into those light golden eyes, if he did she’d be able to destroy him. She was a siren, a demon in disguise luring him in so she could steal his soul.

“Cheese, please.” She begged holding onto his sleeve. He couldn’t leave her. She became frantic. He couldn’t do this to her.

 

I’m nothing without him. He’s safe. He’s where I want to be. He’s really going to leave me!

 

“I’ll give you a few days. You know how to reach me.” Shaking her off Chester left and never look back. He knew if he stayed any longer he would cave and give her anything she desired.

 

 

18

Shattered

 

 

 

“You understand if you do this. You would be destroying everything you’d ever known.” Jay watched the woman, he could still the disbelief etched in her face, but it was slowly melting away. She believed him. It felt great to have someone else who could help and knew his darkest secret

“Yes, but she’ll be free.”

“Jay, you must understand the procedure has a fifty percentile success rate.”

“I get that, but we have the best doctor in the field performing the operation. It’s gotta work.” A foreign emotion bloomed in his chest. It was hope.

 

 

 

When Jay opened the door to leave he ran into a familiar face. He hadn’t seen little Tasha in a while. She’d grown. Well, they all had grown.

“Axel,” she said moving pass him. He stood there stunned. She’d never mistaken them before. Had something happen? Why would she mix them up now? He couldn’t believe it. Those he thought closest to him were falling for his lies.

“Right,” he bit off before slamming the door on his way out. Running down the hall he rushed out of the building into the fresh air. Had he been gone so long the world had forgotten him?!

 

 

***

 

 

“Sweetie what’s going on? Something has been bothering you. You can talk to me.”

“But mom I don’t want you psychoanalysis me,” she whined laying on the leather couch.

“I won’t. This is simply a mother wanting to help her baby girl.”

Natasha sighed as her mother got sentimental. She was so angry this morning and Iris words bothered her. She told her mother everything.

“Well honey, was there a particular reason why you didn’t tell your friend you liked this boy?” Natasha frowned. It wasn’t that easy. She wanted her friend to be happy, but she never thought Jay would reveal himself.

“Mom it’s complicated.”

“Oh honey, is this about the boy that just left. I know about Jay.”

Natasha sat up startled. How did she know? When did she figure it out?

“Honey if you came to me sooner, we would have been able to help him.”

“I like Jay! Iris liked Axel. I didn’t think she would come across Jay too!” she cried.

Lisa rubbed her eyes. She got up to sit next to her daughter. She heard all about Iris McDerman from both Axel and Jay. Jay had warned her Iris may have met another personality. They were attached to her because she tried to help them. There were some feelings but they were unsure; which wasn’t unusual for people with the condition.

“Honey, I want you to listen to me very carefully. Loving a person with multiple personalities can be a difficult.”

“But I don’t love—.”

“Shh, it’s okay sweetie. Look at me dear.” Natasha stared into her mother’s almond colored eyes, and relaxed when she took both hands into hers. “I know that you have feelings for Jay and you were fine with your friend dating Axel. This is a problem sweetie. You must understand that Jay and Axel are one and the same. If you’re going to love someone you must love all of them. You cannot pick and choose.” Shame immediately followed afterward. Was her love that superficial?

“Now listen. I understand that you’re hurt, but you shouldn’t take it out on your friend. She probably has good reasons for keeping her status under wraps. Often, people in the spotlight become targets. Her life has already changed and probably not for the better. Helping Jay has cost her everything, and I’m sure she could use a friend right now.” Natasha sighed, she hated when her mom was so reasonable. She felt like the bad guy. She was so envious of the relationship they had. It made her sick.

“Thanks mom.”

“No problem sweetie. How’s pizza sound for dinner.”

“Great!”

“Hey mom, what was Axel doing here?”

“Axel? He wasn’t here and you know I cannot disclose any client’s information.”

“But I saw.”

“No dear. It was Jay.”

Natasha blood ran cold. She mistakenly called Jay Axel. It was something she’d never done before. She promised him that she would never forget him. Oh god. What had she done?

 

 

***

 

 

Two days had passed since her blowout with Chester. She hadn’t returned to school. She hadn’t seen her mother either. Her father remained holed up in the studio working on a new painting. Iris peered at her own work. She didn’t know what to title it. Deep within the smoke and flames there was a face. An unrecognizable face. The face possessed features of the three different guys who tormented her daily and had no idea. It caused her anguish. It was the only thing she could do to keep her mind of everything. Her show down with the paparazzi was all over the news. She couldn’t stand hearing about her hot new mystery man. Iris wanted to disappear.

She went to the kitchen for snack and smiled when her mother entered. She looked worn, tired, but happy. “How was it?” she asked waiting anxiously.

“It was a success. She’s alive, and in recovery.”

Iris wanted to ask more but could tell her mom didn’t want to talk. Did that mean something was wrong? Iris ran through the large house shouting for her dad.

“Dad! Mom’s home.”

Iris couldn’t believe how well everything was turning out. She would give Chester his answer today. They could work through this.

 

 

 

Chester observed the guy from a distance. No…he wasn’t a stalker. He simply wanted to know what was so special about him that it lured his innocent Iris in. The sun was setting soon. He needed to get back to the studio. Iris should be making her decision soon. He revved up his bike, and as he pulled off he saw her.

Iris.

She had made her choice and it wasn’t him. Vacation over. There was nothing no longer tying him to this place. He’d leave.

 

 

***

 

 

“How’s your mom?” Iris asked Jay as she leaned against the tree next to him. Night had fallen and she told Ryan to give her an hour to talk to him. She wanted to say good bye. She realized it was time to stop running from herself.

“She’s doing great. Thanks. She’s in a comma but the doctors are expecting her to wake up in a week’s time, while her body recuperates.”

“I’m glad to hear that.” The silence between them grew and Iris pulled at the grass blades. What should she say? How could she phrase it?

“Look is there something going on between you and Natasha?” Jay paused. A storm of emotions overtook him. It cut of his air supply and his breaths came in short pants.

“Look you don’t have to answer. I was just wondering she was very upset with me. She loves you.” Iris rattled on unaware of the changes affecting Jay.

Jay couldn’t let him win. But even as he thought this, he realized he lost.

Run.

 

Blank.

 

“Hey little girl.”

“Jay?” Iris questioned becoming nervous.

“Wrong. If you can love those two. I’m sure there’s a little loving left for me.”

Iris eyes flickered around her, the park was empty. There wasn’t a single soul in sight. She had maybe five minutes before Ryan came looking for her. Five minutes was one minute too many. She had to get away from him. Springing up from her spot she tried to run away. He grabbed her by her ankle, causing her to plummet to the ground. Falling on her back knocked the wind out of her.

“Now where you running off to?”

“Let go of me!” she shouted. Panic seized her as he began dragging her towards the trees. Her nails clawed into the ground trying to stop him from pulling her further away. Out of sight. Out of mind. She kicked frantically trying to free herself from his clutches but he was so strong.

“It’s okay, Rex wants to be loved too,” he said kissing her on the neck. His hands were like tentacles. They were everywhere at once violating her. Iris eyes were wide with fear. He was a monster. She whipped her head back and forth. When his hand slithered up her shirt she screamed. Tears spilled out her eyes as she contemplate what was going to happen. Her bra unsnapped exposing her breast to him. Her screams tore from her throat make it raw and her hoarse. Sobs floated on the air.

 

Someone! Help! Anyone. Please. Why. Why isn’t anyone coming? He going to…he’s going to…

 

“Ryan!”

 

Whack!

 

When he fell to the ground, Iris crawled away from him. Ryan her driver stood looking down at her.

“C’mon miss, we should get you home.” Ryan held the crying child in his arms while fixing her clothes. He wasn’t just her driver, he was head of security and her personal body guard. “I’ll call the police.”

“No. he didn’t know. Just take me home.”

 

 

***

 

 

When Jay came to Iris was gone. He was afraid of what happened. He couldn’t remember anything so he returned home. Entering the house he spotted his father angrily pacing the family room.

“I didn’t like that stunt you pulled at the hospital boy.”

Jay threw his hands up to ward his father off and started backing away, but it was too late. His fist came flying, connecting with his stomach, Jay dropped to his knees. He was still disoriented from earlier. He just hoped Iris was okay.

“Dad I’m sorry,” he wheezed out.

“You will not talk back to me boy!” he screamed kicking him.

“Dad please, you’re killing me.” Pain bloomed in his abdomen area. Fleck of blood flew out of his mouth.

“Where’s my son!” his father screamed punching him in the face. Jay felt his nose give away, the warm hot blood flowing down his face. Its coppery taste filled his mouth.

“Dad, I am your son. Please. Axel is just one of the personalities created to please you.”

“Lies! Give him back!”

“He’s not real!” he choked out.

Jay realized there was no talking to him. Things got bad whenever his dad went into frenzy. Where was everyone? They were supposed to protect him. He could feel his world getting darker as he became his dad’s personal punching bag. Jay slipped into a state of unconsciousness.

 

 

***

 

 

Iris returned home. She was glad her parents were out tonight, probably celebrating mom’s success. She clambered upstairs to her room. Getting into the shower, she attempted to scrub herself clean of him.

Climbing out of the shower her reflection stared at her. Iris didn’t want to meet the eyes of the girl. They had grown considerably dull. Their light had been extinguished. The bruises decorated her side and her left breast. There were passion marks on the right side of her neck. She shut her eyes tightly. She hated the girl in the mirror. The sad pathetic creature. Throwing on sweats and a tee-shirt she prepared for bed. Somehow the house seemed larger than usual. Her erratic breaths and pulse drove her crazy. Flinging open the door, she stared at the man on the other side.

“It’s okay miss. I won’t let anything happen to you. We don’t have to talk about it. Not until you’re ready.”

“My parents.”

“I will have to report the incident, but I will hold off for as long as I can.”

“Okay. Thank you,” she sniffed closing the door. Glad to know he kept a look out. She noticed the note on her bed. Picking it up, she read its contents.

“He’s gone.” She whispered. The despair consumed her until she knew no more.

 

Epilogue

 

 

Iris,

I am not a very strong person. In fact, I’m weak by nature, but I must find the strength to let you go. Although I hoped for another outcome, you chose him. I cannot face you right now, I wished to lick my wounds in private. I wish the best for you little Iri. If he makes you cry, I will be there to break his neck. Be happy. Be safe.

*Cheese*.

 

Iris folded the letter and placed it in her pocket. She finally told her parents about the incident. Her dad was so angry that he didn’t speak to her for a week. She knew they needed to adjust to the information as she had. Ryan remained ever vigilant by her side, and she was grateful. She was going to finish her senior year at Redwood Academy. It was a school where all the rich and famous attended. She was nervous about her big debut but excited. She’d gotten a new phone and number and cut all her ties with what little friends she had. She never asked about the outcome of Jay’s case. He deserved a little happiness too.

 

 

***

 

 

The day Jay died, hope arrived. Law enforcement officers and child protect services stormed the house as his father beat him to death. He had a broken nose, jaw, bruised ribs, and a few more broken bones in his hands. His face was swollen beyond recognition. They thought they were too late. When he opened his eyes, he was stunned by the girl at his side. It was Natasha Covington and not Iris McDerman. He tried talking, but there was something down his throat. He didn’t like it. Her light brown eyes filled with tears as she took his good hand into hers.

“I’m sorry.”

He didn’t understand why she was crying. She didn’t do this to him. Her mom walked into the room.

“Natasha honey, why don’t you go grab something to eat. I’ll sit with him.”

Jay watched as she left the room.

“You know you gave us scare young man. He’s been charged with aggravated assault to the first degree, a count of child endangerment and neglect. Needless to say, he will be going away for a very long time. Don’t fret. Your mother is doing well. She’s up moving around. A new home has been set up for the both of you and a nurse will be stopping by a few days a week to check on both of you. In the mean time we will continue your sessions and you will be treated for your diagnosis. I can’t wait to get to know you James Rotterdam.”

Jay felt the tears pool at the corner of his eyes. He was finally free.

 

Dragon’s Secrets

Dragonault Chronicles I

 

 

 

What do you do when you find out you’re the mate of a dragon king, an abomination abhorred across the dimensions, and a secret order is out to annihilate you. Throw in two parts of your soul battling it out, a legendary warrior who’s hell bent on protecting you, and the very thing meant to destroy you saves you. I tell you what you do, you put on your big girl panties and tell them to bring it.

 

Prologue

 

 

 

The putrid smell of decay and urine filled the air. She laid on her back. Her wrists were enclosed in chains attached to the wall. And her heart pounded in her throat while her blood pumped furiously through her veins. She wished for Onyx with all her heart. She knew he would come for her. Suddenly the door to the dungeon opened revealing her enemy.

“How could you?” she cried out. Fear slivered down her spine. The sting of betrayal weighing heavily on her mind and in her heart.

“You never listened! How dare you?!” He screamed while rage burned hatefully through his veins as he dug his fingers into her arm. She screamed out painfully.

Hurry, she thought. He grabbed her face and forced her eyes upon him.

“Look at me!” he shouted. “It’s almost time for your debut,” he whispered as he retreated from the dungeon. His eyes were wild seething with hatred. When? But why? H was unrecognizable, a stranger from a forgotten land.

A’lala tried to see where he retreated but she couldn’t. The swell of her belly blocked her path, pain in her abdomen caused her scream out. Nothing but a small window hung high above the wall. It was nothing but a mockery to her imprisonment. The burning sensation increased.

No! She screamed mentally. She would not have her child here. Horror filled her, she knew she could no longer hold on. She must push.

“Onyx!” His name tore from her throat as she gave the first push. And she heard it. Vicious snarls, resounding through the air and shattering things in its wake.

It was raw.

It was monstrous.

It was…the roar of a dragon.

And not just any dragon…her dragon. If there was truly a goddess she prayed for her blessing now. She prayed for the protection of her child, she prayed for the protection of her mate. She felt her blood boil and power filled her.

Onyx burst into the room with angry roar. Men that once served under his command rushed in but she managed to erect a barrier keep her and the youngling in, and everyone else out. She only focused on the protection of her child.

“Kill that abomination!” the man who led the guards spat out. Unimaginable fury filled her.

 

 

***

 

 

Onyx looked at his mate, she was glorious and her fury filled the room. Pure energy weaved itself in the air. White, it danced to a tune only its master could give. He watched it coil and spring killing those who’d approached her youngling instantly. He was in awe of her. The room rattled from her very power.

“General she will kill us all.”

Onyx looked around. The guards had fled the building. He wondered how they would cover their tracks this time. His child’s wails echoed through the room. He knew A’lala’s power would consume her, if she continued at this rate. She was so far gone that she couldn’t hear their child’s cries. Onyx cut the umbilical cord. Scooping his child up, he stared into beautiful dragon eyes that peered back into his own. His heart fluttered in his chest. She was everything he wanted and more. He spent a moment curling the baby into his chest. Tears escaped his eyes in rivulets as his heart shattered thinking about their next move. Layla would be her name.

“I’m sorry young one,” he croaked out.

She was going to be his best kept secret. She would be protected. Onyx golden eyes stared down at his daughter as he mumbled a spell of protection. The mark presented itself on her chest. Only his kind would be able to see the mark. The moment was broken as the building began to collapse around him. He turned toward the captain of his guard. He would trust the man with his life.

“Khalel, you will take the child and go into hiding. We will find her when the time is right. I don’t care where. Even I must not know where she is.”

“General, what will you do? How will you stop her?”

 

 

 

Onyx placed the baby in his Captain’s arms. “Like I always do. Love her,” he whispered to the retreating form of his captain. He approached his mate, freeing her wrists from the chains, he pulled her into his arms; her blonde hair danced around her face and her energy engulfed her eyes setting them aglow. His dragon scales littered the floor. He grunted in pain, but it was nothing compared to the pain engulfing his heart when he saw tears spilling from his mate’s eyes. He silenced her with searing kiss as the building collapsed around them.

 

Chapter 1: Enters Layla

 

 

 

Emerald green eyes filled Layla’s vision as she raced through the sky. A voice she never heard before filled her mind. It called to her being, her essence; her skin grew hotter and she felt an unfamiliar burn of need at her center.

Where are you? The voice echoed around her mind. A ringing cut through her thoughts and she began to fall through the sky.

Saint Louis. It was her last thought. The alarm clocked jarred her awake and she could hear her dad shouting for her from downstairs. It was a tradition of theirs to go fishing every morning. She rushed into the bathroom to brush her teeth and drag a brush through her mane; her hair was wild, curly, stretching past her shoulders and down her back. She had sky blue eyes and sun kissed skin. She was quite beautiful but remained unaware of such beauty.

Her dad waited downstairs for her. Short blond hair covered his head and stunning sapphire eyes greeted her. He smiled down at her as she raced into his arms.

“Hi daddy!”

“Good morning sweetheart.” They each grabbed a cup of coffee, along with their toast and eggs. Sitting down they quickly gobbled their food, barely pausing to breathe. It wasn’t her fault. She got her unsavory manners from her dad.

“Ready?”

“Yep.” Off they went to their fishing pond.

 

 

 

Carondelet Park was established in 1875 and it was the third largest park in the city of Saint Louis. Layla loved the park, and the history that was a part of it. It just so happened to be one of her favorite fishing spots. Her dad promised to take her to Bennett Springs later in the summer. She smiled as they cast their lines. It was a competition between them to catch largest fish. She settled in, listening to the sway of the water and the chirping of the birds.

“You’ve got a birthday coming up sweetheart.” Layla knew about her upcoming birthday. What kid didn’t? She was a summer baby. There was nothing she really wanted except her mother, but she kept that little thought to herself. She couldn’t bear the pain that filled her father’s eyes.

“I know, I’ll be eighteen soon, then senior year will start.”

“Isn’t there anything you want?”

“I don’t know dad. There’s not much out there. I’m happy as I am.” She said smiling at him.

“You’re a good kid,” he said trying not tear up.

“You’ll let me know if there was anything wrong?” he asked her. She looked at her dad in confusion, she came to him for everything. She couldn’t imagine a time when she would not seek his advice.

“Of course, dad. I’ve got a bite,” she said laughing. “Look out old man, it’s my time to shine!” Layla felt the fishing pulling on the bait. She reeled it in as fast as she could. She felt the rod bend, the sound of the string releasing filled the air. Her father set aside his own rod to cheer his daughter on.

“C’mon Layla, don’t be a girl and let ‘em go.” He said goading her.

“I am not being a girl,” she said as she pulled and the fish came flying out of the water. It flopped wildly about. She quickly strung the fish and tossed it in a large bucket of water. She caught a large trout. Dinner was going to be very fulfilling tonight. She smiled he was going to have to gut them all. After catching the first fish and beating her dad she was able to close her eyes for a brief nap. It was so easy to do with the birds singing their lullaby and the wind whispering in her ears.

 

 

 

When she opened her eyes, her father was no longer beside her. The sun was high in the sky shining brightly and filling her with its warmth. It always made her feel alive. She glanced around searching for her father, maybe he left to go use the men’s room. Layla’s thoughts flickered towards the emerald green eyes imprinted in her mind. They were so vivid, and so real, sighing she shook her thoughts aside. Suddenly, a feeling of uneasiness filled her, her skin prickled indicating something watched her. She scanned her surroundings looking for an intruder, but didn’t see anyone; her brain must be fried from spending so much time sun bathing. She wiped her hands on her blue jean shorts and stood. All the fish they’d caught were gone, she speculated whether or not her father was still gutting them. Anyhow, she needed to find him. She was hungry and ready to go home.

 

 

 

She found her dad pacing back and forth on the phone, watching from the safety of the trees, she couldn’t make out his conversation. The only words she caught was the awakening. She was confused. Awakening? What did that mean? She stepped on a stick and it cracked beneath her foot reverberating through the air. She cursed the birds as they fled from the trees threatening to give her cover away. She needed to relax, she was a couple of feet away, and her heart stumbled when her dad twisted around as if he heard it. His gaze pierced her, but that was crazy he couldn’t see her from this distance. When he continued his conversation as if nothing happened, she relaxed. Her dad wouldn’t hide anything from her.

 

 

***

 

 

The young man watched her from the woods. He thought she was beautiful, she took his breath away. He didn’t understand why he’d never noticed her. Her skin glowed and her sky blue eyes stared into his soul. She would make the perfect companion for him. He smiled. It would be easy luring her in and making her his. He wanted to possess her in every way. Who knew he would find such a rare gem here on earth. He turned his back and used a dagger cutting a rift into the air. Stepping quickly into the rift, he returned home.

 

 

 

Layla sat on the stool watching her father seasoned and put the fish in the oven. Her stomach growled as the smell wafted through the house. The phone rang and she jumped to answer it.

“Dad, I’m going to take this,” she shouted. She ran upstairs with the phone in her grasp.

“Hi Ryu! What’s going on?”

“Nothing much, wanted to see if you got anything plan for your upcoming eighteenth birthday.”

“Nothing much, I don’t know if my dad and I are going to do something.”

“Your dad is one hottie!” she giggled on the line.

“Eww, I do not want to hear you talk about my dad like that. I want to hurl.”

“You know it’s true, everyone is salivating after him. Women are practically throwing their panties at him; this does include the female population at your school.”

“How annoying. Let’s just drop it.” She said sighing.

“You’re right of course, no one wants to hear about their dad and his nightly activities. Anyway, you should definitely find a hottie to date this year.”

“I’m not interested in dating,” she said exasperated into the phone.

“Why not?”

“I’m just not, there’s no one that catches my eye.” She couldn’t possibly tell her about the emerald green eyes that consumed her thoughts day and night.

“You still dreaming about that guy?” Ryu asked.

“What?” she asked surprised.

“C’mon, you told me about that when we were little girls. Your knight in shining armor that was going to show up and save you.”

“Girl, that only happens in fairytales. Unfortunately, I live in a world called reality; where that will never happen.”

“You are so young to be so cynical. Haven’t you heard of the hallmark channel? I recommend you watch it. So what are we having for dinner?”

“Trout.”

“Ooo, on my way over love. See ya in a bit.”

 

 

 

Layla shook her head. She looked in the mirror to make sure she was still presentable. She felt odd, like her center was off. She looked again and she saw her eyes flashed from their sky blue color to a fuchsia, it was only for a nanosecond. Was it even real? Did she imagine the whole thing? She shook her head to clear her mind. After massaging her temples to get rid of the headache she threw her hands out, and was surprised when all her dresser drawers opened. Her heart thudded loudly filling her ears with its erratic beat, as she looked around like a wild woman who spent endless nights in the jungle.

This was a dream. None of this was happening. She could feel the tremors starting. Taking a deep breath she dispelled any panic that threaten to consume her. Layla quickly closed each drawer and made her way downstairs, clearly the sun had addled her brains.

 

 

 

Ryu burst through the front door.

“Honey, I’m home,” she shouted into the house. Layla laughed at her. She couldn’t help but smile at Ryu’s large personality.

“Welcome, Ryu. Dinner will be serve in 10 minutes.”

“Thanks, Mr. Vatskui.” She said as she grabbed Layla’s hand racing into the basement. Ryu loved Layla’s basement, there was a large entertainment area with a pool table, dartboard and large flat screen TV; what more could a girl ask for? The girls sat around and played music.

“What’s eating you?” Ryu asked her.

“There’s nothing wrong, I guess I’m just nervous about senior year starting.” Layla knew that she couldn’t very well tell Ryu the truth. She still questioned what really happened upstairs. Her eyes flashing colors wasn’t normal. Thankfully her dad entered with the trout and some steam veggies.

“Thanks dad,” she said taking the plate from him and smiling. She focused on her food.

 

 

 

Ryu watched her friend eat. She knew something was off about Layla today. She seemed a bit detached. Then again, maybe she was reading too much into it. She observed Khalel interaction with Layla. It was time her friend learned the truth. Time was running out and she would reach womanhood soon. She would be the first of her kind. Apart from Khalel and her parents, Ryu was the only person who knew of her existence. She guarded the secret with her life. There was one thing that Khalel left out and it was the identity of Layla’s parents. She never asked, but she was very curious about it. It was quite strange to be in a foreign land where magic, dragons, and other species were nothing but folklore. Once she finished dinner, she gave Layla a hug.

“You know you can tell me anything. No matter how crazy it sounds, I’m your girl.” She whispered in her ear giving her a squeeze. Call it woman’s intuition, but she knew there something bothering Layla. She figured Layla would tell her when she was ready.

“Thanks for dinner Mr. Vatskui!” He would call later. It was time they plan and make their next move.

 

 

 

Layla buried her head under her pillow, her mind attempted to process the day’s events. What was happening to her? Magic didn’t exist. It was simply her imagination, she’d spent too much time in the sun. Yeah, that was it. Eventually, she fell asleep.

She walked along the corridor of an old and ancient castle. Markings she’d never seen before adorned its walls, but also seemed vaguely familiar.

“Who are you?” a deep and masculine voice demanded. Layla turned quickly to face the new mystery man. Sitting on a throne was massive figure. One thing she did recognize were his emerald green eyes, they’d been haunting her for so long that she would know them anywhere.

“I’ve seen you before,” she whispered moving towards the mystery man. “Your eyes.” The shadow man jumped from his throne, the movement reminded her of a large cat, he moved like a predator. She couldn’t see his face, but those eyes of his had become so familiar to her. He reached for her, but it was too late. She drifted away and her dream took on a darker theme. She was in a dungeon. She could hear screaming. Was it coming from her? Her fear filled the air. One word ran through her mind. Onyx.

Layla jolted awake, her heart thundered in her chest, and she was drenched in sweat. What was that? The dream frayed away to the edges of her mind until it was completely gone. She could no longer recall it. Taking a quick shower, she changed her sheets and cracked her window. The night air soothed her. She laid down and drift off into a restless sleep.

 

Chapter 2: Sorceress Dilemma

 

 

 

The next morning Layla stretched her sleepy and tired muscles. There was a burning sensation in the pit of her stomach that was there yesterday. She didn’t recall eating any spice foods. Maybe it was the fish. Today would be a better and weird free day. Rushing to the bathroom she checked her eyes. They were their usual color, a nice sky blue. Once she finished her morning hygiene routine she felt better. There was clearly something in the fish she ate yesterday that had her spacing out.

 

 

 

He sat in his office, gazing at the scenic view. His favorite time of the day was watching the two suns that mirrored each other rise. It was the sign of hope for his people. There were those who said the time of the dragon was over; but for him it was just beginning. A rumble fell from his throat as he stretched. He wished to be out in the open flying freely, but since the last Great War, the council feared for their kind—they’d lost many warriors and younglings. The council feared for their species and as a result they were trying to tame a species that was meant to be wild and free. Living under such conditions was not the answer to their problems. They were a proud race. He’d been alive for thousands of years, and this was a time where he wondered if the time of the dragon was really at an end. Fear spread across his nation because he hadn’t found a mate. What would the people do, if their King was no more? He understood the dire circumstances better than anyone. He knew he needed an heir; however he would not just settle for anyone. He wanted his true mate.

“Sire, the yuries have arrived. Please come and greet them,” his old friend said. Turning around he faced him.

“Why shall I waste my time when none of them are my true mate?” The yuries were the female version of suitors and they constantly swarmed him. Being tenacious was a dragon trait he admired in their kind and yet an irritating one.

“Sire, please, you know as well as I do the time of the dragon is almost at an end.”

“Onyx, my oldest friend, I understand your concern but I cannot. Perhaps it is the beginning of a new era.”

“Sire, you give me hope, have you truly found her?”

Onyx was his oldest and closest friend, and yet he knew something happened during the Great War to erase the light out of his eyes. He never confronted his friend about it, but if he was going to trust him with something so important, it was time Onyx face his darkness and show him he could trust him explicitly.

“Who was she?” he commanded. Onyx heard the command, but an unfamiliar rushing noise filled his head and suddenly, he knew no more.

 

 

 

Layla and Ryu decided to go to the mall to do some light shopping or in Ryu’s case look for hotties. Layla sighed, maybe she was strange in the sense that boys did not simply attract her. The only thing that seemed to do it for her was a pair of emerald green eyes. She palmed her forehead.

“It’s okay. It’s perfectly normal that a pair of eyes does it for you.” Ryu snickered.

“Oh shut up Ryu!”

“You’re going to end up an old maid at this rate.”

“I’m only eighteen for crying out loud. You are a bully!” she pouted.

“Not the face, okay okay! I’m sorry!” While the girls bickered, they failed to notice the shadow that followed them. They continued their banter until they arrived at a book store.

“No Layla! All you do is read,”

“C’mon let’s go see a movie!” Ryu whined.

“Blah, blah, blah. That’s all I hear,” she said finally tuning Ryu out. However, she wished she hadn’t heard the next few words Ryu spoke.

“Look at that hottie!” Ryu exclaimed. Layla was tired of Ryu pestering her, so to finally shut her up she looked in the direction she pointed. Layla watched the individual, he had short sandy blond hair and dark chocolate brown eyes. His skin was tanned as if he spent majority his of time out in the sun. He was attractive; but he didn’t compared to her green eyes.

“Yeah, whatever, not interested,” she mumbled. Ryu looked at her in disbelief.

“What is it with you and men?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered to herself dejected. She had no idea Ryu heard her.

 

 

 

The girls didn’t actually buy anything from the Galleria—the mall where they currently shopped. The burning sensation was back, and it made Layla extremely irritable. She noticed the guy from earlier leaving as they were. It surprised her when he started to walk their way.

She hoped he was coming to ask Ryu out because she wasn’t interested. She could hear Ryu squealing as he approached. She did everything in her power to avoid making eye contact, she didn’t want to send any mix messages. She hoped it would deter him; however he still approached.

“Hey, so this is probably awkward for you guys and more for me, but I’ve never seen you girls around before,” he said rubbing the back of his neck.

“Aww, he’s nervous,” Ryu whispered. He flushed under Layla’s hard gaze.

“So what brings you here?” Layla asked rather rudely. She couldn’t help herself. He just rubbed her the wrong way. It was either that or the burning sensation increasing in the pit of her stomach making her mean.

“Layla, quit being rude.”

“Sorry, but I’m not interested,” Layla told the guy.

“Uh, I kind of wanted to talk to your friend,” he said blushing harder. Layla was a little taken back. Ryu was gorgeous in her own right. She had short dark brown hair styled into a pixie cut, a lithe figure, and her eyes were a pretty light hazel color. Ryu stood five feet and six inches. It’s just that as long as they’d been friends, the guys had always gravitated towards her. Naturally, Layla blushed at her own mistake the humiliation burning her.

“Um, I’ll wait by the car,” she said quickly excusing herself. Well that was embarrassing. Layla leant against the car as she waited for Ryu to come out of the mall. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. The wind moved around her and it soothe the burning sensation in her stomach.

She felt so serene until her head gave a nasty throb, and a voice she’d only heard in her dreams penetrated her mind.

Where are you?

The voice took her by surprised, she looked around searching for the source. Stunned she focused on the voice, this was the first time she heard it while awake.

Who are you? She could feel the connection fading. She didn’t wait for a response, instead she answered his questions.

Saint Louis.

Where is that?

Missouri. She couldn’t understand his confusion. Did he suck as geography? Saint Louis was known as the gateway of the Midwest. What did the voice want her to say? That she was on earth? Before the connection faded completely, the voice in her head gave off feeling of appeasement. She didn’t know what she said to make it happy. She was glad she could help it. She realized, she missed it. When she opened her eyes, Ryu was approaching the car, and blushing. Layla couldn’t wait to get the details from her.

“Spill,” she commanded as she grabbed her hand and pulled her inside.

 

 

 

Onyx couldn’t believe he lost consciousness like a new recruit, but the question was so unexpected that it startled him for a moment. He thought he managed to keep his relationship with A’lala a secret. He originally thought she was a human. He didn’t understand how a human ended up in their dimension. She was able to tame his raging temper and soothe his heart. This human was designed to be his true mate. He loved her from the moment he first saw her, but he thought the fates had dealt him a blow. He was the best and strongest warrior among the Dragonaut clan. Didn’t he deserve a mate equal to him? It was when she realized she was pregnant that she began to show signs of a sorceress—a witch. The witches were the enemy of the dragon, they only sought power, so they targeted the dragons. The dragons were one of the most powerful creatures in existence. The witches formed covens and attacked his people. His king and oldest friend had been ruling for thousands of years, but there was a traitor among them that lead his people to near extinction. Fearing for their line and their king they enclosed him in a barrier, where he has become the princess in the tower. Their king had not found his true mate and each year that passes, the fear in the people increased. There were those who whispered the time of the dragon was over. Onyx would not allow it. He was sworn to protect the line. He would find the traitor. He would find his daughter and bring her home. It felt as if the world was on his shoulders, but he would not break, he couldn’t afford to.

Onyx opened his eyes ready to face his king. The king watched his oldest friend and guardian patiently as he gathered his thoughts. There was a look of determination on his face and he settled in his seat to hear his story.

“It all started with a human girl named A’lala,” he said reminiscing about the past. The king nodded and waited for the Onyx to continue his story.

 

 

***

 

 

Layla and Ryu were in their room talking. She listened with rapt attention as Ryu recounted her story.

“What happened after I left,” she asked. A frown worked its way across Ryu’s face.

“Well, after you left, I thought he seemed disappointed. But why would he feel disappointed if he intended to ask me out right?”

“Go, on,” she urged her on.

“Anyway, his name is Zacharias, but he goes by Zack. He just moved to the area. He’ll be starting senior year at the same school as us,” she squealed.

“Really? Isn’t that a little strange?” Layla asked.

“Not really, after all normal teens do spend their time at the mall. They don’t dream about a pair of emerald eyes.”

Layla wanted to throttle Ryu. She was starting to think that she couldn’t tell her anything, especially if she’s just going to bring it up later and rub it in her face.

“Is this your way of telling me, that I can’t trust you with things?” she asked Ryu. The burning sensation was back in her stomach. It seemed to move through her whole body.

“Layla calm down? What’s the matter?” Ryu asked confused. Layla couldn’t think, there were so many things going on and it was making her crazy. All she wanted, was her soothing voice back. The ringing sensation in her mind increased adding to her pain. She grabbed the sides of her head in an attempt to drown the noise out.

“I don’t know!” she shouted. She felt something pop. All the intense pressure was suddenly gone. When she open her eyes, it appeared as if a tornado had been in her room. The windows were shattered, clothes littered the floor, and all of her things were strewn about in a disorganized fashion. She looked into Ryu’s unnerved expression.

“It’s not how it looks.” Ryu took a step away from her. Layla ran into the bathroom. She checked her eyes. They were glowing a bright fuchsia color. Fear filled her body. What was going on? She rushed out the bathroom to go talk to Ryu, but she was gone. She ran through the house, discombobulated, disoriented and confused. What was she to do about her room and the windows? She searched the house for her dad but he hadn’t made it home yet.

She closed her eyes and wished for serenity. All she could do now, was clean her room and board up the windows. She had no idea what explanation she would give her dad. She wanted to tell him about what happened, but was afraid he would react the same way that Ryu did.

Why did she run away? She couldn’t tell anyone. No one would believe her. Magic didn’t exist. There was only science and illusions. What should she do? She was in a real jam.

 

CHAPTER 3: Lies and Deceit

 

 

After hearing Onyx story, the King was satisfied he could share his secrets with him.

“Well Onyx, after thousands of years, I have found her,” he said pleased.

“Have you really?” Onyx asked excitedly. He wanted to find her immediately and bring her to his majesty. It was true after all. The time of the dragon was really here. The council would do everything in their power to bring her home.

“This is good, majesty, we can bring her home. If we notify the council, they will ensure her safe return.”

“No! The council must not know of her. If word got out that I’ve found my true mate; that would give the covens enough reason to move. They’ve already think our kind has died out. She will come when the time is right.”

“Are you certain of this majesty?”

“Aye.” The King wanted to ensure the safety of his mate. Now that he had some inkling of where she was located, he was content in his ability to obtain her. He would do his research and prepare the castle because it was the beginning of a new era, no longer would they fear for their young. His people can finally thrive. There was only one thing he was missing. He didn’t know her name.

“Tell me, what is she like?” Onyx asked. Well the King couldn’t quite answer his question, as he still didn’t even know his mate’s name. She was in a place called earth. The name sounded vaguely familiar, but it’s been eons since he’s heard of it. Let alone, a place called Saint Louis. She was gorgeous, he did not know what species she was, but that did not matter. The fates had finally decided to give him what he craved. He was selfish, he wanted to know everything about her. Treasure her and share that information with no man. She was his. It was in his nature to possess his mate in every way. A deep rumble fell from his lips.

“I do not know now, but I will know everything about her.” He told his friend.

 

 

 

In the end, Layla cleaned her chaotic room and boarded up the windows. She eventually fell asleep from exhaustion. When she woke, it was eerily quiet. She thought her dad would be furious with her for breaking the windows, but when she glanced at them, it was as if they’d never been broken in the first place. She felt butterfly wings in her stomach, she could feel it—the fear slowly eating away at her. It was a disease, destroying her from the inside out. Calm down, she didn’t need to panic. She looked around her room to see if there was anything else out of place; no there was nothing. She loved her room, it was spacious with bone colored bedroom set and dark hardware occupying majority of the space. She was grateful she grew up in a home with two masters. She went into the adjourning bathroom to splash some water on her face. She was slowly going insane. She had to shake the maniacal look out of her eyes.

“Okay, Layla you are perfectly sane. There is nothing wrong with you. Everything that has happened is just a figment of your imagination,” she told her reflection. Her sky blue eyes stared back at her wide eyed and petrified. She scrubbed her face and her mind of all dark thoughts. If she really wanted to get to the bottom of things she need to find Ryu and make her talk, with that plan in mind she felt much better.

 

 

 

The king spent most of his time in the old archives. He needed to find out everything he could about earth. He spotted a book that looked unfamiliar and yet it was covered in dust and occupying a spot in their archives; maybe someone else was interested in earth as well, or maybe it was a sign. He was just glad it was there. He grabbed the book and began to read.

 

 

Earth is the third planet from the Sun. It is the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System’s four terrestrial planets. It is sometimes referred to as the world or the Blue Planet.

 

 

He was excited about that. It would seem that they shared something in common. While in his realm there were two suns that mirror each other, this place called earth only had one. He hoped that wouldn’t be a problem for her. He continued to read.

 

 

 

Over seventy percent of Earth’s surface is covered with water, with the remainder consisting of continents and islands which together have many lakes and other sources of water that contribute to the hydrosphere.

 

 

As he continued to read, he began to frown. Would his future queen be able to survive on his planet? He was sure that two suns mirroring each other would contribute to a much higher temperature than she may be accustomed to. If she was going to be his mate he needed to ensure that his realm was safe for her to visit. He wasn’t too worried about her species, the fates wouldn’t give him a mate he was incapable of mating with, it would defeat the purpose. Maybe it was time for him to schedule a trip to this place called earth. He was quite sure once he made it to earth, he would be able to find his mate by her scent alone. She was already dreaming of him. He smiled as he recalled her eyes. They were brilliant like the sky that adorn the realm he was in. He sighed, he knew he couldn’t do this without Onyx. He needed him. He closed the book and decided to seek Onyx; maybe his friend would know more about earth.

 

 

 

When Layla came downstairs, her father was in the kitchen cooking as usual. Ryu was nowhere to be found; which was quite unusual for her, especially this close to dinner time.

“Hi Daddy,” she said as she took a seat on the bar stool to observe him while he cooked.

“Hi sweetheart, are you okay, you’ve been sleeping all day.” He said looking at her. Layla knew this would be the perfect opportunity to tell her father about everything that was going on, but she wasn’t sure if she was hallucinating. She wanted to confirm everything with Ryu first. She just needed to get a grip on reality. Magic surely couldn’t exist. It was ludicrous. She felt a little like Alice down the rabbit hole only this time, she was still falling.

“Layla?” he questioned.

“Dad, I’m fine. I just need to talk to Ryu a bit. You know girl problems. Boys and all,” she said avoiding eye contact. She was such a bad liar. She could never look her dad in the eye and lie. She waited for him to call her out on it, but was surprised when he came around the kitchen island and gave her hug instead.

“I’m not going to press you right now sweetheart, but I want you to tell me the truth when you’re ready,” he said kissing her on the forehead. “Just don’t take too long because I worry about you,” he said letting her go. Layla felt so guilty. She wanted to blurt everything, but at the same time she needed to hear from Ryu that she wasn’t crazy.

“Deal,” she said as she began to eat her meal.

 

 

 

The next day Layla found herself standing on Ryu’s porch debating whether or not she should knock on the door. Ryu parents were always traveling abroad and she was always left alone. It was one of the reasons she spent so much time with her and her dad. Layla was just grateful she didn’t have to deal with them. It would’ve been awkward. Why she was so scared? She’d never been afraid to approach something in her life. She always tackled things head on. She squared her shoulders and ignored the uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach and knocked on the door.

“Ryu! C’mon I know you’re in there. Open up! Let’s talk.” She waited a few minutes and still hadn’t heard anything. Then she heard a crash come from inside. Layla tensed putting her ear to the door. She couldn’t hear anything. She closed her eyes and focused, straining to hear anything from inside. She ignored the sinking feeling in her stomach, when she realized she could hear the sounds from inside; that wasn’t normal. Her thoughts were forgotten once she heard crying on the other side of the door.

“Who is she?!” a voice demanded. Layla had heard enough. She quietly backed away and pulled out her cell phone. She promised her dad she would call when she was ready to talk. She didn’t care how crazy she may seemed, Ryu was in trouble.

“Dad, I’m bringing Ryu, home,”

“What’s the matter?”

“I don’t know but I know she’s in trouble, dad. I’m going to call the police.”

“Wait, don’t call. I’m on my way.”

 

 

 

Layla didn’t have time to wait around for her dad or speculate why he didn’t want the police involved. Ryu was in trouble and she needed help now. Instead, she crept around the side of the house. There was a tree next to Ryu’s bedroom that they climbed up and down when they were younger. Layla hadn’t climbed the tree since she fell out of it. She really didn’t remember much of it. She swallowed her trepidation, using the branches she pulled herself up. Now that she was up the tree, she was nervous about going into the house. She had no weapon or anything. What was she going to do, talk her way out of danger? She snorted at this. Adrenaline coursed through her veins giving her a small thrill. She almost fell out the tree when a voice reverberated through her mind.

 

 

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing, now is not the time for this. I have to get to my friend,” she told the voice exasperated.

“Friend?”

“Yes, she’s crying and she’s in trouble,” she palmed her face angry for continuing to answer the voice in her mind questions.

“Are you in danger?” the voice asked

“I have no time for this.”

“You must not endanger yourself,” the voice demanded. Layla ignored the voice when she heard the cry get louder.

“Get your hands off her!” she shouted launching herself through the window into Ryu’s room. She raced downstairs, to see the boy from the mall leaning over Ryu. She had her hands over her ears and her eyes were sealed tight. Instead of dark chocolate brown eyes, the sclera of his eyes were completely black. He was no longer the nice guy from the mall, instead he was a predator.

Layla grabbed a lamp off the end table and slammed it across his back. It shattered against his body. Immediately, the voice in her mind started to hiss.

“Get away from her,” she growled viciously. He let Ryu go and turned towards her.

“Ah, little mouse, I’ve been waiting for you. Just the person I wanted to meet,” he said approaching her. Layla backed away. He backed her up against the wall. She stared boldly into his eyes. She hoped her dad would make it in time. She didn’t understand why a high school student would be after Ryu or asking questions about her. Layla couldn’t hear anything above all the hissing and snarling in her mind.

“I think it’s time I marked you, so all know who you belong to,” he whispered sinisterly in her ear. Layla’s body broke out into a sweat. There was a flow of magic in his hand, it was red, but there was something wrong with it as if it was tainted. The red was slowly being consumed by the black that flowed on the outer edges of his magic. Nonetheless, terror flowed through her bones.

“Magic, isn’t real. It’s just a nightmare. I’m going to wake up, and this will all be over. There’s only science and illusion,” she muttered to herself. Zacharias laughed at her foolishness.

“I’m going to show you, just how real magic can be,” he said holding her against the wall. She tried to break his hold but it was futile. There was something about her that drew him to her. He tried to brand her with his magic but a flash of bright light prevented him from doing so. He was thrown against the wall by another stronger and powerful force of magic; He groaned as he tried to get up. Blood poured into his eye, he tried wiping it away. A groan escaped his lips as he felt the gash above his right eyebrow. He felt drained.

 

 

 

Layla could hear her dad screaming her name and kicking in the front door. Where were the police? The ambulance? Why were all these strange things happening to her? Layla didn’t know the force that repelled Zacharias was none other than her own magic. Her eyes were glowing bright fuchsia instead of their normal sky blue as she tried to catch her breath. Zack heard the others coming, in that moment he had to have her, the magic running through her veins could be his, and together they could conquer the world.

“Beautiful. I will have you,” he whispered before disappearing. Layla tried crawling over to Ryu, but she was completely spent. She was just glad Ryu was okay.

“Are you hurt?”

“No, just tired,” she said. The voice in her mind sounded worry. She wanted to ease that worry.

“I’m coming for you,” it said.

“How can you? You’re not real,” she told it before succumbing darkness.

 

 

 

Layla’s father stormed the house, just in time to see the warlock cutting a rift into the dimension before disappearing. Seeing the dragger he used, fury filled him. The dagger was a dragon’s claw. Clearly not given to the warlock willing—the coven was back and they were on the move. He wanted to chase after the warlock, but he fought his dragon telling himself Layla and Ryu were more important. Onyx would have his ass if anything happened to his daughter. It was time he told Layla the truth, well maybe partial truth. It was no longer safe for her to remain in this realm. He had to get to the bottom of this. He hated to move. He would give anything to be able to contact his general at this point, but he could not. They’d remain hidden for so many years that he’d become complacent. He grabbed both girls and returned home. There was one good thing that came out of this mess, Ryu could live with them full time, instead living alone and pretending she had parents at home. He wondered how Layla would feel about him once she discovered the truth. His heart plummeted in his chest. He had come to love her as his own flesh and blood. He was terrified of her reaction. He would settle for her sleeping face for now.

 

Chapter 4: The Chase Begins

 

 

Zack cursed as he escaped using the dragon claw into another dimension. He knew there was something fishy about the girl, such powerful magic. Her magic was seductive and elusive. He’d never seen anything like it. Zack’s dark brown eyes became black as his magic rushed through his veins. He fell to the floor as his body convulsed. Just what kind of magic did she wield? He could feel its lingering residue in his bones. It was time to call in some reinforcements. Zack looked out around him, this dimension was unfamiliar. There were two suns high in the sky and the heat was unbearable. It zapped him of all his strength further weakening him. It was best he returned to the human realm at this point. He needed to find a place where he could hide and recuperate. Soon he would have to report to the covens. He wanted the girl, no he wanted the magic that followed through her veins. He could hear it, whispering, and calling him. He stepped once again into the opening. This time mountain terrain greeted him. The moon was high in the sky filling him with its luminescence. He closed his eyes sending his magic out. He felt it spilling out of him, slinking over the terrain like ink searching for any intruders. Zack wanted to ensure there were no others in the surrounding area. Once satisfied, he hobbled over towards an opening at the base of the mountain.

 

 

 

“Little bitch,” he muttered to himself as his breathing became ragged. The ground was wet, muddy, and difficult to navigate through. He thought about using more magic, but the reminder of his body convulsing again stopped him dead in his tracks. He was glad to finally make it to the cave. It was deep, dark and exactly what he was looking for. He grunted one last time as he created a fireball to light the space and keep him warm. He placed a keep away spell at the entrance of the cave to prevent unwanted visitors from entering. Closing his eyes he drifted asleep.

 

 

 

She was in a dungeon. It smelled of death and body fecal matter. She heard screams. Layla was scared she didn’t know where she was or how she got there. The woman’s screams were scaring her. She ran out of the dungeon door, but it was as if the screams followed her, haunting and punishing her. Everything looked the same; the walls were washed out brick and a thin layer of mucus covered them, skeleton figures littered the floor while their shifty smiles mocked her. Horror filled her veins. Her screams soon filled joined air along with the other woman’s. Layla stopped running and sat in a corner; she pulled her knees close and tucked her head in. Sobs wrecked her body. Instead of crying out for her father; she cried out for the stranger from her dreams. When she looked up a figure engulfed in shadows stood gazing at her; she knew it was him.

“Come, I’ll protect you.” He said extending his hand.

Layla wiped her eyes and reached for him.

Pain filled her and she shot up from her bed. Confused—was it all a dream?

“Layla!” Ryu shouted at her. Layla turned to her left, Ryu sat in a chair with Layla’s hand clasped in her own.

“Are you okay? What happened to you?” Layla asked, remembering everything that happened.

“I’m fine, I was so worried about you. You’ve been asleep for three days. I was scared,” she said.

“I thought you were mad at me.”

“Never, Layla.” Both girls hugged each other weeping.

Layla’s father entered the room. They both looked up.

“Ryu, I’m going to talk to Layla, now” he said dismissing her. He didn’t have a choice. She needed training, and it was training he couldn’t provide. He watched as Ryu exited the room. Layla’s gaze settled on her dad. She didn’t know what to make of the expression on his face. He looked almost afraid. This certainly could not be good.

Khalel sat in the space Ryu once occupied and watched Layla. The sacrifice her parents made was a great one. He was selfish, he did not want to share those secrets with her. He wanted her to remain as his. He knew she wasn’t his flesh and blood. Words could not express the pain that engulfed him, when she would no longer regard him as her dad. He thought long and hard about his decision. His hands were tied. He pulled Layla into his arms and held her tightly.

“I am so glad you’re safe,” he whispered into her hair.

“Dad, I’m sorry I scared you. I was so worried about Ryu, and she wouldn’t return my calls. Then that guy was doing something weird to her,” she startled rambling.

“Calm down, tell me what happen.”

Layla looked at her father and began to tell him her story.

 

 

 

Onyx and the King sat in the King’s study. The King—Emry was like a child asking questions about a place called earth. Onyx laughed. He was happy his friend had finally found his mate. They’d been side by side for many eons.

“Where did you hear this term from?” Onyx asked his King.

“I discovered an old book in the archives. Covered with dust, it called to me.”

“It’s called the archives for a reason,” he laughed. His laughter turned into coughs when the King blew a ball of smoke his way.

“Very well, you win your majesty. Now show me this book.” The king handed over the book, and waited for Onyx’s response.

“I can understand where the confusion is coming from. This is a book from the human realm. It’s the human’s version of history. Dragons, and other supernaturals are nothing but folklore to them. They rely heavily on science and technology. The technology they have makes it easier for them to live their lives. Things that were once difficult and took long to accomplish are easy.”

“Interesting. I need to visit this realm.”

“The humans do not have magic, or abilities to communicate with each other like our species. They are not as strong as our race,” Onyx said.

“She does not have to be strong, I will protect her,” the King said thinking of his mate.

“What the humans call Earth, our people refer to it as Yamanu. The planet is rich with the elementals, such as fire, water, air and earth.”

“Why do you know so much about Yamanu?”

“I’ve been there once. Why the interest my King,” Onyx asked. The King was really enjoying his discussion with Onyx. He debated about whether or not he should tell Onyx his mate was there on earth. Suddenly, fear filled his paralyzing his limbs and forcing his blood to rush in his ears. What’s happening? These feelings, they were not his own.

Mate.

His head gave a nasty throb and pounded in his ears. His heart flew into his chest.

“Majesty, what is wrong?”

“I do not know.” A feminine voice filled his mind. He tried communicating and was thrilled when the link succeeded.

“It is my mate. Drainer!” he roared standing up.

“Majesty, calm down,” Onyx stated.

“She is under attack. We must go to her! He wish to make her his. She belongs to me!” He roared savagely. He immediately calmed once the drainer had been repelled. It pleased him endlessly. She was made only for him.

Mine.

The King used a bit more power to push further into her mind. He remained perplexed by the symbol of protection on her chest. The markings were an ancient one, only able to be seen by his people. Did this make her a dragon? If she was a dragon, what was she doing on Yamanu otherwise known as Earth instead of with her people?

 

 

 

“My King we will go there,” Onyx said. Tension seeped from his bones at the general’s statement. His mate would soon be in his arms. He wanted to tell him about her possibly being a dragon, however, he decided to keep that information to himself. He needed details and only his mate could provide him with such knowledge. Onyx realized he was in the moment and hadn’t really figured out where they were going.

“Where exactly are we going?”

“Earth,” the King said smiling.

 

 

 

Khalel looked at his daughter. It would seem she was displaying traits of a witch rather than that of a dragon. What would Onyx do? He couldn’t take her to Solaris where his people lived. They were still leery of witches. Khalel’s blood ran cold when Layla told him the witch or warlock in this case stated he would not stop until he had her; that meant there would be more after them. The warlock would send reinforcements. Tonight would be the last night they spent here in the house. They already lost some time. The coven could already be on the move. He needed to make some calls. There was only one person he could rely on in a time like this. This person owed him a huge favor and was in fact in his servitude. He usually didn’t like making shady deals, but he had no time and therefore no choice.

“Everything will be okay. I need to make some phone calls.” He said as he got up and left the room.

“But dad, what’s going on? He was doing something weird to Ryu. How come no police were called? What about that…that thing I made?” she asked looked down at the covers.

“It was magic.” He said looking back at her. Layla’s body became extremely heavy and difficult to move. Her world was falling apart.

“Magic?” she asked for confirmation.

“Yep.” Layla watched as he walked away. She wanted to ask him more questions, but her mind was shutting down on her. She did magic. What did that make her? Was she a monster like Zack? Would her magic eventually become tainted? Her thoughts ran rampant. She didn’t want to be a monster. Why couldn’t she be normal?

Are you okay?

Yes? I just don’t know what to make of everything that’s happening.

Want to elaborate?

I do but, I’m so tired.

Show me an image.

Layla didn’t know whether or not she should put so much trust in a voice. However, it hadn’t let her down so far.

You’re tired, you can show me next time. What’s your name?

Layla, you?

Call me Emry.

A smile graced her face. She finally had a name to the voice in her mind. Emry, she liked it. It was different. She whispered his name as she fell asleep.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’ve been writing for as long as I could remember. Burrowing myself into the mysteries of books and exploring their unique worlds is what I do best. Books are essentially an imprint of the author’s soul left behind—well I tend to think so. I have two children (Dobermans) Lily and Rose and an endearing husband who listens to me rattle non-stop about my adventures. I am sweet, a little sarcastic and I enjoy creating new worlds and adventures for people to explore.

 

 

 

For blurbs, excerpts, and more about Jalissa’s published books, please check out the Books page of her website.

Website/Blog: http://jpastoriusbooks.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jpastorius14

 


Kiss

A tainted love… Iris is a seventeen year old experiencing her first signs of love. She was your average teenage girl who had a secret crush on the most popular guy in school and her best friend. Typical. Axel Rotterdam was sick. There was something lurking inside him and it wanted out. He was terrified of it and afraid of what it would do. It had set its sights on a new target. It wanted Iris McDerman…and it would take her kicking and screaming. Torn between her heart desires, Iris would make a decision that will alter the course of her life and change it forever.

  • ISBN: 9781310665783
  • Author: Jalissa Pastorius
  • Published: 2016-02-15 03:05:16
  • Words: 41715
Kiss Kiss