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Not As It Seems
Author's note: I started to write this piece a couple years ago before putting it aside. I found it a couple weeks ago and started up again and ended up getting caught up it. Please tell me what you think :) thankyou!
As Lilly James runs her fingers through her damp brown hair she frowns in the mirror. Her lower lip puckers just like all the girls from her school do; playful yet intimidating, sad but alluring, before she laughs lightly.
That’s just not me. She thinks.
Turning from the mirror she trips over her miniature schnauzer, Cocoa, wincing as she crashes into the bathroom counter. Brushing her fingers quickly over her hip she knows she’s fine, shaking her head as she walks back into her bedroom.
As she slams the door she flips on her music, metal filling her ears while she dances around, deciding what to wear for the day, finally grabbing the closest thing as she rushes out the door towards the bus stop. Trying to hold up her bag as she sprints she gets to the bench at the bus stop before anyone is there and sits down. Rummaging through her bag, the sound of footsteps hits her ears.
Looking up, her eyes narrow as she glances up at the cold blue eyes that bring back so many memories of being teased and tormented. As she turns away in disgust he goes to grab her arm before pulling back as she cringes away.
“What Drew? She asks, exasperated.
As she watches him, his eyes rake over her body before reluctantly meeting her eyes again,
“I see your summer treated you well.” He states, lips curling in a small smirk making Lilly’s stomach churn.
“Wow Drew, don’t be so desperate,” Adam smiles, seeing Lilly roll her eyes.
When’d he get here? Lilly wonders before smiling back at him.
Turning to Drew, she sees him glare at Adam before walking to the bus as it screeches to a stop.
Laughing she turns to Adam and finds him staring at her, confused.
“What are you staring at?” she snaps, walking towards the bus.
“You look different,” he says, still confused.
“Is that bad?” Lilly jokes but looks down at her toes, curling in her simple black flip-flops. Over the summer the baby fat she had once been taunted for had turned into curves as she started going to the gym with her mom.
The week before they had gone to the mall together because all her clothes from the year before were too big, so her mom had decided to use some of their saved money, refusing Lilly’s protests that they should save it for something else. She self-consciously pulled at her new skirt (specialty of Wal-Mart’s back to school sale) and her plain black t-shirt sneaking a quick glance at Adam before returning her gaze to her toes, but not before he saw the hurt look that tinged her features.
“Lil, you know I didn’t mean it like that,” he smiles softly, “you look really nice.”
Their eyes meet quickly before Lilly looks away, not wanting him to see how much she likes him looking at her like that. They both jump at the sound of a horn before getting on the bus.
Walking through the halls girls whispered and shot her dirty looks, while guys smiled at her.
Guess they don’t think I look so bad after all…
Lilly thought it was pretty funny, but Adam didn’t which he made clear when he saw her.
“They’ve never talked to you before, don’t you even care that they’re only talking to you cause you look different?” he says, eerily calm, muscles twitching in his jaw when a hurt look crosses her face.
“Of course I care, but I’m not going to be rude to them and,” suddenly Lilly couldn’t remember what she was going to say. Her head started to pound and her ears ached. Everything started spinning as she felt the felt the color drain from her face.
“And what?” Adam asks with his back towards her.
“Adam...” voice cracking she clutches her head, whimpering in pain. Turning, his cold expression quickly vanishes, replaced by concern.
“What’s wrong?” he asks, trying to stay calm.
She flinches away from his voice, loud to her ears, moaning as he touches her cheek lightly.
“Lilly!” his control slipping as she sways on the spot, panic in his eyes. He calls for help, but Lilly is oblivious as the pain becomes unbearable, puking on the table before everything goes black.
Everything black, Lilly fills with panic, unable to see or hear, before realizing she can feel. The roughness of calloused hands cradling her as soundlessly gasps, before realizing its Adam. She calms down until that feeling slips away too and she’s left with nothing but her own thoughts in a world with no hot and cold, no bright or dark.
Oh, God I’m dead. She thinks.
It felt like hours, floating in her own thoughts as things started to slip away, trying to focus on one thing but unable to as it slipped away. She was trying to remember where she lived when she felt a tug on her hand, relief surging through her until she sees the panicked look on the little boys face, his unnatural silvery blue eyes glistening in the dim light.
“Lilly?” the boy whispers.
Lilly’s eyes widen as she starts talking, having no control over the words coming out, “Lucas, are they here to take you?” she asks calmly before gasping as she tries to contain the foreign words.
He pushes his wild black hair away from his face, eyes glancing around and locking on three men standing but ten feet from them. The man in the middle was tall and skinny in long black robes, his hand perched on a tall cane smooth gray hair slicked back, shadows covering his face. The others stood on either side of him, shorter but bulkier, obviously guarding him, faces pointed towards the boy.
“Lucas, we will not hurt you,” the man in the middle says, voice low and menacing.
Again Lilly tried to contain the string of words, but failed, “You’re lying. Stay away from him Marcai, he is safe in the guard of the Protectors,” she’s confident, unaffected by Marcai’s cold smile.
“For now,” he states before turning and walking into the darkness.
Lucas fixes his gaze on Lilly again, “Are you leaving again?” he asks, lip quivering and Lilly notices how young he his, maybe 6 years old. His round cheeks that should be full of color are drained and lifeless.
“I’ll see you soon,” she says, knowing it is true. Slowly a tear escapes his eye as Lilly impulsively hugs him before walking away, his silvery blue eyes fading into the distance.
Lilly hears the beeping first, slow but consistently annoying. Cold droplets run down her face quickly and her eyes flutter open but everything is blurry.
“Lilly? Calm down you’re okay, everything’s going to be fine,” Adams soothing voice fills her ears and she with a start she realizes she’s sobbing. Wiping her eyes she looks around, trying to sit up, before hands push her down. She looks around trying to catch her breath. Mom, Adam, and two nurses stare at her and she stares back. Mom is crying loudly and Adam has tears at the brim of his eyes.
“What am I doing here?” Lilly asks, looking around.
“You don’t remember?” Adam asks, the trace of tears gone so quickly, she must have imagined them. Shaking her head she starts to sit up slowly before getting comfortable when no one protests.
“You blacked out at school,” he says, and everything comes back as he moves his chair next to her bed. She remembers everything at lunch, the unbearable pain, and finally of the dream with the boy, sayings, “Sorry I puked on you,” laughing quietly.
Lilly wanted to tell him about the little boy, but something told her to wait until they were alone. His hand sat on the edge of her sheets and she longed to hold it but held back. She wanted him to hold her hand while she told him everything. But she couldn’t think of little Lucas, it made her want to cry.
“Oh I didn’t mind,” he grins, winking.
Turning to the closest nurse she asks, “Can I go home?”
“Not yet,” the nurse says, “we need to take some more tests.”
“Okay,” she says, looking around for her mom, relieved when she sees she’s’ not crying.
“It’ll be okay,” her mom says, following the nurses to the waiting room, “I’m gonna go get some coffee, get some rest honey,” she smiles sadly before she’s gone.
Turning to Adam she starts telling him about her dream but he interrupts her,
“You can tell me later,” he says, seeing her eyelids droop, “get some sleep,” he starts to stand up.
“Stay?” Lilly asks, half asleep. He doesn’t respond but she feels the ghost of a kiss on her forehead before she’s swept into unconsciousness.
When she woke up she saw Adam asleep in the chair beside her, and she giggled as he let out a quiet snore. Someone cleared their throat in the doorway and she jumped, seeing a doctor she hadn’t met before smiling at her.
“Hi Elizabeth, I’m Dr. Ross, is it okay if we start some of the tests?” he asked warmly. His hair was a white-gray but she couldn’t pin an age, and he walked confidently coming toward her, waiting for her answer.
She hesitated before answering, glancing over at Adam, asleep in the chair.
“A nurse will tell him where you are when he awakes,” Dr. Ross says, noticing her hesitation, “he’ll be fine.”
She touches Adams cheek softly before turning to the doctor, “Everyone calls me Lilly,” she starts to stand up but Dr. Ross gestures to remain seated.
“Lilly, nurse will be by in a couple minutes to get you,” he says smiling, before walking back out.
She had to do a lot of tests, usually she was unconscious, so it wasn’t bad, but it made her drowsy. It was three days later when she was finally alone with Adam again, so she told him everything about Lucas.
“Are you sure it wasn’t just a dream?” he asks, eyes searching hers.
“I don’t think so, Adam, he seemed so familiar.” She says, doubtful.
“Have you seen him before?” he asks.
“No,” Lilly says.
“But how did you know his name?”
“I don’t know, it was like something else was speaking through me… like I wasn’t controlling what I was saying,” she says, afraid he’s going to call her crazy.
“You want to find him,” he says.
Lilly nods and is relieved when Adam says reluctantly,
“When you get better, I’ll help.”
Right then Dr. Ross walked in the room, “Hello dear, where is your mom?” he asked, a too big smile planted on his face.
“Down the hall.” Lilly replied, shocked by the bizarre look on his face. Turning to Adam she sees him get up and follow the doctor.
“Adam, where are you going?’
“To see what the hell is going on,” he walks out leaving Lilly alone with her worries.
. When Lilly looked up at his face he had an expression she had never seen on him before. He looked… scared.
After about fifteen minutes her Mom walked into the room with a confused look on her face. Her little 9 year old brother Jeremy was walking slowly behind her smiling and humming to himself.
Her mom looked from Jeremy to Lilly, obviously not wanting to talk in front of him.
“Hey, Jeremy, Adam’s down the hall” Lilly smiled at the excited look on his face as he ran out of the room, probably hoping Adam had his soccer ball with him so they could play.
When he had gone, Lilly turned to her mom.
“What did the doctor say?” she asked, looking at her mom who ran her fingers through her red hair, walking over to the bed. Now that she really looked at her, Lilly could see how tired she was, she had bags under her eyes and was wearing the same clothes she had been yesterday. She moved over as her mom sat on the bed with her.
“They can’t determine exactly what it is…” she continues, “They say that they have never seen anything like it before so they’re just going to monitor it.”
“So does that mean I can leave?” she asks hopefully.”
Her mom smiles, “Okay.”
Groaning, Lilly reaches over and turns off the blaring alarm clock and hides her head under her pillow, trying to block out the iridescent glow, flashing as it reads the time, 7:00am. She lies there for about five minutes, trying to wake up. Sighing she jumps out of bed and sways, lightheaded.
Eyes only half open, she runs to the bathroom to get ready and pretend it’s just another day.
When she walks into school, she notices most people whispering or pointing at her as she goes past. Head held high, she walks to her locker, wondering how they all found out so fast. Approaching her locker, she sees Adam there already, waiting for her and Lilly’s confusion is quickly dismissed by betrayal as she realizes that it was him who told. She turns around with a groan and heads to her homeroom.
Running as fast as she can in her skirt, she’s still late for homeroom with Mrs. Cooper, who usually has no sympathy for being late, just smiles and says nicely, “It’s okay for today Elizabeth, just try to be here next time,” gesturing for her to sit down before smiling at her and continuing the lesson.
And as the class goes on being treated so carefully, like she might break at any moment, she finds herself missing the teachers dirty looks and empty threats, doubting that Mrs. Cooper is just in a good mood.
Not long after the bell rings at the end of class, Lilly feels someone fall into step beside her. Turning slightly she sees Adam grinning at her and frowns, looking away. Finally she whispers,
“Why did you tell someone? It’s nobody’s business,”
“I didn’t,” he stammers looking confused.
“Then how does everyone know? And why is everyone whispering? And pointing? And treating me like I’m about to just die right there in front of them!” She interrupts, voice growing louder with each word until she stops, breathing heavily she sits down on a bench nearby noticing all the attention they have attracted. Face flushed she avoids peoples gazes.
“Lilly, look at me.” Adam says sitting down next to her, his hand brushing hers before returning to his lap. Lilly feels that familiar bright blush lame her cheeks and waits until it’s mostly gone before looking up and meeting his warm, brown gaze.
“What?” She says softly, brushing her soft waves behind her ears.
“I would never tell anyone, okay?” he says, waiting until she nods before continuing, “It was probably one of the nurses, it’s a small town; word spreads fast. It will all blow over.”
Staring at him long enough to make him squirm, she gathers her stuff before impulsively squeezing his hand and smiling, “No worries,” her heart and head pounding as she turns away, making sure no one sees her smile falter.
The next couple weeks went by slowly, dragging while friends asked about her being sick, and being disappointed when she told them the truth; that she didn’t know what was wrong, but it was probably nothing. Her mom was convinced that everything was normal, but refused to let her go to parties like she used to.
“I’m doing this for your own good,” She said, cheeks flushing in anger, “You could black out again or get sick and nobody would know how to help you!” her voice growing stronger with each word as she leans against the kitchen counter before pausing and croaking out, “I can’t have you end up like your father,” she whimpers, a tear strolling silently down her face.
“Mom...” Lilly comes up and hugs her as she starts to cry harder, ignoring the thoughts of her dad rushing through her head, “I’ll be fine, Adam with be with me,” seeing her mom take interest she continues, “He was with me last time, he helped me then.”
Ms. James snatches a tissue of the counter, wipes her tears, and starts stirring the pasta on the stove, calming down. Trying to be patient, Lilly sits on the counter next to her mother, adding things to the sauce and humming.
After what seems like ages to Lilly, her mom turned to her, sighing, “You can go after dinner,” she smiles as Lilly hugs her, “and have Adam pick you up!” She turns back to their dinner as Lilly rushes out of the kitchen into the stairs in the living room.
She pauses halfway up the stairs when she hears something move behind her, she turns back and looks around their living room glancing from one wood wall to the other, before locking on a flash of movement by the curtains. Walking silently down the stairs she goes to grab an umbrella out of the stand, but gasps when something barrels into her from the side, hugging her.
Looking down she sees Jeremy’s green eyes, so alike her own, staring up at her, eyes spilling over with tears, “Lilly, I miss dad,” His lip quivering as he sniffles.
“I know bud, me too,” Lilly says, blinking to stop her tears from spilling over, trying to be strong for Jeremy. Hugging him back, she glances over his head at the curtains, still now, shaking her head and figuring it must have been a trick of the light, that flash of gold that she could have sworn caught her eye.
After dinner, Lilly goes up to her room, waiting for Adam. Staring at the bright blue walls of her bedroom, she wonders if whatever is wrong with her is life threatening and imagines what would happen if she was gone. Her things would be packed up or sold. She’d be long forgotten.
Who’d come to my funeral? She wonders and laughs bitterly to herself. Not many people.
As she looks through her closet, nothing looks presentable. And she decides to leave on the plain gray long sleeve shirt and jeans she had on for school that day of school.
Glancing at her calendar by her desk she realized it had been over a week since her black out with no problems. Smiling she knows she is going to leave soon, leave and go find Lucas.
I’ll tell Adam tonight. She decides. And I’m going with or with out him.
When the doorbell rings, she grabs her cell phone and twenty dollars, slipping them into her pocket before saying goodbye to her mom and opening the door for Adam.
Her eyes are level with the V of his white t-shirt, and she looks up to his eyes when he says,
“You ready?” going to help her with her jacket, before pulling back and putting his hands hastily in his jeans pockets.
“Come wake me when you get back,” Lilly hears her mom say as she finishes putting her jacket on. Saying bye to her Mom they walk outside and go in Adams car.
As he pulls out of her driveway she smiles, taking in the warmth and the smell of the air freshener, fresh pine filling her nose, before leaning forward and changing the radio. Hearing Adam chuckle she puts on the mix cd she made him for his birthday in July, sitting back and letting the loud heavy metal fill her ears. He leaves it for about a minute before he finally goes to turn it down, like he always does when Lilly turns it up this load, She groans, and Adam pulls away from the volume control, somehow silently understanding she needs the comfort of the loud music in that moment while she can’t help but think back to the conversation with her mom.
When they get to the party Adam offers to go find some drinks as Lilly walks around, seeing who’s showed up. Laughing she sees one of her best friends, Hanna, flirting with a muscular guy with dark black hair. As Hanna flips her long blonde hair over one shoulder, she turns and sees Lilly watching her, grinning as she abandons the guy she was with and comes over to hug Lilly,
“Finally joining civilization?” Hanna laughs, brown eyes twinkling.
Lilly laughs and gestures towards the guy with the black hair, still gazing longingly at Hanna who scoffs saying,
“Leave them wanting more and all, right?” she looks back at the guy, obviously not caring if she ever sees him again, as the norm with her.
They laugh and catch up until Hanna abruptly goes to leave, Lilly frowns, confused, as henna waves and winks before quickly disappearing into the crowd of people. Lilly turns as a hand touches her wrist and sees Adam handing her a Dr. Pepper, keeping a Pepsi for himself.
“What was that about?” he asks, sipping his Pepsi.
“No idea,” she says, cracking open her soda, but he’s not listening. Looking over behind her to see what is holding his attention, she finds herself face to face with Samantha Johnson, and says to Adam, annoyed,
“I’m going to go find…” she trails of as she sees he’s not listening and walks away trying not to about him.
After a while of walking around in a daze, she finds herself in the kitchen and sits down on the empty counter, grabbing another Dr. Pepper and kicking off her shoes. She glances out the window behind her and tries to blow away the strand of hair that has fallen out of her pony and into her face. Frustrated she hastily pushes it behind her ear and thinks about what her mom had said earlier.
"I can’t have you end up like your father."
She feels a sudden tear stroll down her cheek and pushes back the memories of his accident, turning back around to find Drew standing there, watching her.
“How long have you been standing there?” she asks, quickly brushing away the tears on her cheeks. He laughs and comes to sit next to her, not noticing her tears.
“Not long,” he says, running his hand through his barely there blonde hair before resting it on the barely there space between them. Lilly glances up out the kitchen door and sees Samantha and Adam holding hands, jaw dropping when Samantha reaches up and kisses his cheek. Lilly turns back to Drew quickly, not seeing the shocked look on Adams face. She realizes Drew is waiting for an answer to a question she was to distracted to hear and nods.
As she tries to focus on what he’s saying she finds her mind wandering to Adam in the doorway and realizes that he’s watching her talk to Drew. She smiles bitterly coming up with an idea.
Two can play that game. She smiles with no humor.
Stopping Drew midsentence she leans forward pressing her lips to his, at first he’s ridged and shocked until he finally kisses her back. Trying not to think of how badly she wants to throw up, she pulls back, not meeting Adam’s shocked face before picking up her shoes and walking out the back door.
Why on earth did I do that? Lilly wonders as she walks down the road, shivering from the cool Maine breeze. Pulling her jacket tighter around her she hears a car coming behind her a sighs in relief when it doesn’t stop as it passes. She kicks the rocks with her sock covered feet as she walks, still swinging her sneakers in her hand.
Humming to herself she checks the time on her phone, 11pm, and drops it when she hears rustling from the woods on the edge of the deserted road.
“Hello?” she whispers, heart pounding in her ears, “Is someone there?”
Picking up her phone she peers in the woods, scanning for any more movement. She curses to herself as she moves and steps on a pile of leaves, crunching loudly under her feet. Hearing more movement she freezes, silent. Eyes widening she sees a quick flash of gold behind a nearby tree and surprising herself, she feels her hands curl into fists, tensed for a fight.
After a few minutes of silence, she unclenches her fists, turning back to the road. Feeling a breath on her neck, she spins, screaming, before hands cover her mouth and all she sees is gold and yellow.
“Shhh!” standing before her is a guy, probably 16 or 17, shaking his blonde hair, and looking at her with brilliant gold eyes. Removing his hand from her mouth he touches one finger to his lips, telling her to stay silent.
He moves away from her, scanning the woods for a moment before, tuning back towards her,
“Are you okay?” he asks, looking at her like she’s a friend.
She looks at him with wide eyes, silent, until he turns away, shrugging.
“Who are you?” she manages, still staring at him, taking in his light clothes and unmistakable glow as he turns toward her, confused,
“You don’t know who I am?” he asks, voice disbelieving. Shaking her head she cocks her head, waiting for his answer.
“I’m Dylan,” he says, smiling and offering his hand. She stares at it for a moment before shaking it saying,
“I know,” he smiles at her, teeth startlingly white.
Even though she knows she should be going to leave, and panicking at the thought of her knowing her name, she stay’s where she is, curious.
“How do you know who I am?” she asks sitting down on the side of the road, slipping on her shoes that she had dropped when he grabbed her.
Still standing, he glances around nervously, “How about I give you a ride home?” he says, ignoring her question.
She grunts, annoyed that he didn’t answer her question until she glances at the road, seeing a yellow Jeep that certainly wasn’t there before. Looking back at him, his hand is reaching down towards her; she stares at it.
“Don’t you trust me?” he jokes, hand still outstretched.
Lilly reaches up and grabs his hand, confused when she realizes that even though they only just meet, she does trust him.
As he drives her home, she tries to think of how to make conversation. Giving up she asks what’s on her mind,
“Why are you driving me home?” she looks at him, turning in her seat.
“You didn’t have a ride,” he says simply. Sighing she says,
“That’s not what I meant,” she turns back towards the road, not expecting him to answer.
“I know,” he whispers, silent for a moment before sneaking a look at her and continuing,
“Let’s just say your father would have wanted me to make sure you were safe,” he says, eyes back on the road, not seeing her jaw drop in disbelief. Before she can say anything he continues,
“We’re here,” he puts the car in park, turning towards her.
She pushes aside her questions about her father and finds herself staring back at him, wanting feel his soft hair in her fingers, see his bright eyes up close…
“How did you know where I lived?” she blurts out, feeling a blush creep up her neck, thankful for the darkness of night.
“It’s not important,” he says turning away from her and looking down at the steering wheel. Slowly Lilly opens the car door, waiting for him to protest. He doesn’t. Sighing she steps out, turning back when she he starts to talk.
“Bye Lilly” he says, smiling a small, almost sad smile, before she closes the door. On her porch, she turns around to wave goodbye only to find he’s gone.
After waking her mom to tell her she’s home she goes into her room and lays down for bed, fully clothed, going over everything that happened that night. Hearing her cell phone beep, she picks it up, seeing she has two missed calls from Adam. Teary eyed, she turns off her phone, throwing it across her room into her black fuzzy chair, and falls asleep still picturing Adam’s shocked face and Dylan’s contagious grin.
Lilly blinks her eyes open wearily as cold, wet slobber hits her nose, and finds herself face to face with Cocoa
. Smiling she ruffles his fur as she gets out of bed, walking to the bathroom. Looking in the mirror, she tries to tame her hair, brushing roughly through her thick waves. Pushing her hair back quickly behind her ears, she starts to change before freezing when she sees the shower curtain twitch.
Setting down her clothes, she silently grabs the closest thing. Holding the weapon out in front of her, she sees the glint of her black hair dryer, but keeps her eyes locked on the shower. Walking forward wearily she pushes the curtain aside with her blow dryer, hand level; ready to face whatever is there.
With a sigh of relief she looks in the empty shower, setting the blow dryer on the counter.
I’m just being paranoid; there’s nothing there.
She tells herself, changing for before looking at the floor as she goes to walk out of the bathroom. Halfway down the hallway she hears her bedroom door slam shut. Heart pounding she digs her toes into the soft tan carpet of the hallway, trying to remain calm.
Finally building up the courage to push the door open, she silently walks in, setting her stuff on her desk next to the door way and flicking on the lights. Closing the door behind her she walks toward the other end of the room glancing around.
“You know, you’re not very good at being quiet,” says a small, laughing voice, startling her. She turns, ready to scream until her eyes meet the eerily silver blue ones that look at her, gleaming with humor.
Lucas laughs as Lilly’s mouth hangs open as she stares, confused. She watches as his small hands run over the things in her room as he takes it all in. Watching him so naturally walking through her room she finds herself entranced, not realizing that he started talking again.
“Hmm?” she asks, as he glances at her, expecting a response.
“I said that you would be a horrible spy,” he smiles, a small gap between his two small front teeth showing, and continues, “I would be good though, I even snuck away without you seeing when I accidently bumped into the shower curtain.”
Laughing she realizes he’s teasing her and she goes and sits on her bed, fascinated by the small boy that seems ageless, as he goes about doing different rolls and “spy tricks” as he calls them, laughing the entire time.
After about ten minutes she finds herself seated next to him on the floor, both silently playing with the carpet, before she says,
“Lucas, why are you here?” she asks, searching his eyes. She glares as he looks away staring once again the carpet. Telling herself to be patient she waits as he ponders what to say.
Finally he looks up, eyes glazed with unshed tears,
“We need your help,” he says grabbing her hand as one tears slips down his cheek.
She leans over, brushing it away, “Who does?” she asks gently.
“The Protectors,” he adds, “the whole city’s being watched, Marcai’s people are patrolling the border and the Counsel is” he stops, finally seeing her face.
She stares at him, not seeing the little boy she thought he was, but someone who is not only afraid, but determined, and that much determination in someone so small made her insides churn.
Sighing, he turns away and stands up and she hears him mutter,
“Dylan didn’t even tell you then, just didn’t want to have to do it did he,” he groans, not seeing Lilly’s eyes widen as she remembers the night before. Dylan, with his light hair and golden eyes that made her knees weak.
“You’ve met him?” Lucas asks, suddenly next to her. She gasps, not realizing she’d said her thoughts aloud before nodding.
He groans again, before walking towards the door. Regaining her composure, she says,
“Where are you going?”
“To get Dylan to explain to you exactly what’s going on like he should’ve done when you met,” He says before he smiles his little boy smile and is gone.
Lilly walks into school, still wondering if Lucas had really been there. Distracted by her thoughts, she is oblivious until she crashes into a tall figure. Eyes meeting where his shoulders are covered by a worn leather jacket, she looks up at Adam, ready for whatever crack he’s going to make about her absentmindedness.
Meeting his eyes, her words halt, choked in her throat as he regards her coldly before glancing behind him. Looking up at him she fights the urge to touch his face as his jaw works, obviously upset about whatever is behind her.
Glancing back she is met by Drew’s leer, his black-brown eyes gleaming in triumph as Adam helps her balance before stepping away, arms hung awkwardly at his sides.
“Hey,” Drew says, still grinning at the awkward scene.
I glare at him before turning back to Adam who shakes his head. Feeling tears sting her eyes she walks towards him holding them back and noting how he won’t meet her eyes.
I didn’t want to, Adam. Just say the words and I’m yours. She thinks but only gulps. Reaching out towards him she goes to hold his hand before he shrugs her off.
“I’m out of here,” he says, waiting for her to protest he finally meets her eyes which stay sad. Sensing her hesitation, but not the reason behind it he walks away, leaving Lilly with Drew.
Sighing, she turns around, hands placed on the hips of her dark ripped jeans. Holding her head high she walks to him before stopping just inches from his face.
“One kiss just wasn’t enough for you?” he teases, smiling and reaching to pull her towards him. Cheeks flushing in anger she smacks his hand away from her midsection.
“Don’t touch me,” she snaps, “it didn’t mean anything and I wish it never happened.”
He gives a cocky smile before trying again to drag her closer.
Suddenly furious, at Drew, at Dylan for not telling her anything, at Lucas for leaving so suddenly, and finally at Adam for not realizing she only wants him. All the emotions bottled up inside her come out as she punches Drew. Watching as her fist connects with his nose and as blood slowly starts to drip down his perfect lips and chin.
Screaming obscenities he goes to lunge at her before a rough hand pulls him back. Looking up Lilly sees the school’s janitor dragging Drew the other direction. They walk a minute before he looks back.
“You should come too Ms. James,” he says turning the corner towards the nurses office. Lilly stares for a moment before hurrying after him, surprising herself with a small smile.
Tapping her fingers absently Lilly cringes as her knuckles ache. Glancing at them she catches sight of the swollen areas on the top of her hand, not noticing until then.
“Come here, honey, let me get you cleaned up,” looking up, Lilly smiles at Mrs. Karl, watching as the young nurse makes gestures for her to follow her. Before standing up off the old bench she cradles her hand to her chest before trailing behind Mrs. Karl into her office.
The first thing that catches her attention is Drew, passed out on the couch pushed off towards the side of the room. Quietly she walks toward him, gasping as she looks at his face. His nose is swollen and the area under his eyes and around his nose are already bruising, a deep blue purple. As he continues to snore she stares at him, before turning back towards the nurse who is watching her.
“Don’t feel bad,” Mrs. Karl says, “He deserved it if he tried to do something...” trailing off she glances at Lilly, obviously hoping that she tells her what happened. When Lilly remains silent she sighs before patting the chair next to her.
“Let me take a look at that hand.”
As Lilly notices how the nurse pokes at her hand, she’s oblivious to the ache at the moment. Looking at Drew.
But I don’t feel bad. Not at all. She thinks, surprising herself.
Shrugging off the thought, she focuses on the wrap being put on her hand. Chuckling the nurse says,
“You sure do know how to throw a punch,” Lilly smiles at the nurse in response, trying not to flinch as her hand burns when the wrap gets tighter.
“It’s not broken, but the bones are bruised so just keep the wrap on for a few weeks and you should be fine,” she says, taking one last final look at her wrap job before smiling and walking over to Drew and checking his temperature.
After saying goodbye and getting a hall pass, Lilly heads for her locker, grabbing her things before walking to 4th hour Chemistry with Mr. Hark.
Walking in, she ignores everyone’s stares, handing her teacher her pass before making herself walk normally to her seat in the back of the room. Stopping at the edge of her lab table her stomach churns as she tries not to meet Adam’s gaze, having forgotten he was in this class too.
Sitting down she puts her bag down before carefully placing her hand her lap, obscuring the bandaged view from the many people still staring at her. Looking straight at the front of the room, managing a light smile and hiding everything she’s thinking.
Mr. Hark continues class, going over the lab we are to do,
“You are going to be gathering DNA from these strawberries,” he says, motioning towards the bowl of strawberries next to him before continuing, “Look at the person sitting next to you. That is you’re lab partner for the rest of the semester.” He gestures for them to start and everyone goes to get the supplies.
Turning toward Adam, Lilly smiles weakly, although it doesn’t matter. Adam is staring right at her bandaged hand, a frown etched into his perfect face.
Before he can say anything she stands up to get their supplies before Adam gently pushes her shoulder down, not meeting her eyes,
“I got it,” he says, voice low. Lilly waits, beginning to read the instruction they were given while she waits for him to come back.
As they begin go to crush the strawberries in a beaker, Lilly flinches as she goes to wrap her right hand around it to pick it up before quickly picking it up with her left.
Not wanting to show she’s in pain she continues,
“You want to crush them? I’ll read the next instructions,” she says, handing him he beaker, face flushing embarrassingly as their hands brush.
As she glances down to read, she finds her mind traveling,
Why are you freaking out!? Its only Adam. She tries to tell herself as she starts to read the instructions over again, determined to act normal.
Closing her eyes she tries to stop her head form spinning from all the emotions swirling around in her. When she takes her hand off her face she sees Adam’s face, eyes squinted in worry.
“Let’s finish this,” Lilly says with a fake smile that she knows Adam sees through. But he doesn’t say anything, just starts doing the rest of the steps while Lilly spaces.
Five minutes before class ends and everyone is cleaning up Adam leans over Lilly as she works, waiting until she straightens up.
“Meet at my house after school?” he asks eyes searching hers. About to decline she meets his eyes and stops speaking. The coldness is gone, but something else is there that she’s never seen before.
Nodding she finally says, “I have a lot to tell you,” he nods too, and they stand like that for a while. Looking at each other, caught in the moment.
When the loud bell rings Lilly jumps and quickly gathers her books, brushing her hair back from her face as she walks out the door, making herself not look back at Adam.
When the final bell of the day rings, Lilly walks out of her Trigonometry class to the school parking lot. Glancing around for her red, beat up Chevy pickup, she steps off the curb before remembering that her mom had driven her to school that morning.
Looking around she finds the buses, all pulling out and fully loaded with kids.
“Dammit,” she mutters, walking back towards the school. Sitting down on the bench right outside the main doors Lilly breathes in the autumn air and pulls out her phone to call her mom. Turning it on it flashes twice before turning off. Dead. Groaning she leans back on the bench, pulling her sweater tighter around her shoulders as she feels a chill run through her.
Not realizing she’d dozed off, she jumps up quickly when she feels a rough finger trace its way down her cheek. Startled she looks around, seeing Adam sitting next to her, laughing at her reaction,
“I thought you might need a ride,” he says, no longer laughing but still smiling.
“You thought correct,” she smiles back, glad the tension is gone.
When they pull out of the parking lot, Lilly fiddles with the radio before she settles on one of Adam’s favorites, who raises his eyebrows but doesn’t comment.
Arriving at his house, Lilly lets herself in,
“Is your mom home?” she asks as he throws his keys on the counter in the kitchen.
“Nah, still at work,” he says rummaging through the fridge before producing two Dr. Pepper’s and some chips from the pantry.
Walking into his bedroom, Lilly glances around. She hadn’t been there since the beginning of summer and things had changed a little. Gone were the movie posters and car bed sheets he’s had since he was little, which had been replaced by blue sheets and shelves lined the walls, full of soccer trophy’s.
Lilly set down the food and walked to the closest shelf, gently picking up a large trophy.
“You’re finally putting them up,” she says, smiling at the golden masterpiece before looking at Adam.
“Yea, it’s about time,” he says, clearing his throat.
Setting it down she sits down on his bed, cracking open her soda and sipping slowly from it, feeling the bubbles in her nose. Noticing he’s still standing she motions for him to sit down, patting the seat next to her on his bed. Sitting knee to knee, Lilly starts talking,
“I have so much news to tell you,” she says eyes lighting up before continuing, “I saw Lucas today, he was in my house, and he started to tell me a bunch of stuff which I didn’t understand because Dylan didn’t,” she stops seeing Adams face.
“Wait, wait, wait, who’s Dylan?”
And Lilly tells him everything starting after she left the party, how she met Dylan, how he knew her dad, and finally Lucas being in her house. He stay’s silent the whole time while she talks and when she’s finished they both sit there for a moment, waiting.
“So when is Dylan going to tell you the rest?” he asks.
“I’m not sure… whenever Lucas gets him to I guess,” She says.
“Okay,” He says standing up.
She waits for more, but is met with silence, “Okay what?” she finally asks.
“Okay, I am going to help you with this, whatever this is,” he says, gazing at her seriously, “Whatever your choice is, I’m here for you.”
Looking at him, she takes in the hole in his sock. The way his jeans hand loosely on his hips. The way his plan v neck t-shirt shows the muscles in arms and stomach. The way his chin is held high as his lips curl in a slight but serious smile. And finally the way his dark hair is just long enough to fall into his deep green eyes.
When he walks towards her she feels her heart beat louder. Suddenly, she flinches, surprised by the pain in her hand when she looks down and sees his hand gently lifting her right hand, still bandaged.
“What happened anyways?” he asks, curious.
“I punched Drew,” Lilly mutters.
“Does it hurt?” he asks.
“A little,” she admits honestly.
After a moment he says quietly, “I’m sorry.”
“For what?” she asks, bewildered.
“I left you alone with him.”
“He’s worse off than I am,” she says laughing, relieved when he joins in.
“Why’d you punch him?” he asks.
“He tried to kiss me again,” she says darkly. He looks confused for a second before he steps back.
“You didn’t want him too,” he says.
“No, I shouldn’t have kissed him the first time,” she answers even though it wasn’t a question.
Looking at her for a moment he turns towards the window and opens it, letting tee cool breeze go through the hot room. When he turns back that same look that he had earlier is back, confusing Lilly with its hunger and longing.
But when he blinks it’s gone and he says,
“I don’t like Samantha,” Adam says dryly.
“When you saw us holding hands and when she kissed my cheek,” he stops her from interrupting him by getting a bit louder, “I know you saw it Lil. I don’t really know what happened, but I was completely surprised when she kissed me.”
“Okay,” She says.
When he walks towards her she feels her heart catch. Her skin burns from his fingers as he traces her jawline carefully, looking deep into her eyes, before softly running his rough fingers through her long hair.
Surprised Lilly stands frozen until Adam wraps his other arm around her waist, not pulling her closer, just watching to see if she wants him to kiss her.
Curious, she slowly leans closer, stretching on her tiptoes finally giving into the urge to push his hair away from his eyes, before going to wrap her arms around his neck. Their breath mingles in the cool air through the window.
“Adam?” a loud voice yells from below and Adam and Lilly freeze, faces almost touching.
“Adam where are you?” Adam’s mom yells, getting closer as she comes up the stairs.
Lilly’s eyes go wide as she untangles herself from Adam, sitting back on his bed and pulling at the blanket underneath her.
Adam goes to the door, opening it as his mother knocks. As Lilly watches, Mrs. Ross walks through the door, long hair in a braid, with jeans and an old Beetles t-shirt on. Smiling at Lilly she asks,
“Not getting into any trouble are you?” she teases, just like she does every time they are together in Adam’s room, little does she know she’s closer to the truth than ever.
Face burning, Lilly is thankful that Mrs. Ross doesn’t notice and clears her throat, laughing, “Never.”
“You staying for dinner?” she asks, leaning against the doorjamb.
Adam goes to stand by the window, letting the cool breeze roll over his face.
Lilly tries not to look at him as the strong wind ruffles his hair and the smell of pine fills her nose.
“No I can’t, I’m helping my mom cook tonight,” Lilly replies, easily coming up with the lie that goes undetected by Mrs. Ross, but she hears Adam chuckle quietly behind her.
“Okay, well some other time, you haven’t been here in a while, we’re starting to miss you,” Adam’s mom says smiling.
“Definitely,” Lilly says as she leaves, closing the door behind her. Lilly stares at the door for a moment before turning to the window and Adam feeling awkward. But the moment their eyes meet, the awkwardness is gone, and they both start laughing.
Adam’s clutching his stomach, still laughing as he says, “Your face is beat red.”
She laughs throwing the pillow on the bed at him, “You’re the one who had to stand by the window to cool off,” she winks.
“So, what are you making with your mom for dinner?” he asks, his mouth turned up on one side, giving a half smile.
Sticking her tongue out at him, Lilly ignores his question and stands up, grabbing her stuff.
“Why aren’t you staying?” he asks, more seriously this time.
“I have to go see if Dylan’s been there,” she lies.
And I don’t want to have to resist you all night at my house. She thinks.
He smiles, knowing what she’s thinking but doesn’t comment. Walking towards the door she stops, turning around to see Adam watching her.
“B-Bye,” she stutters. After another awkward moment she turns to leave again but she feels his hand softly wrap around her wrist. Pulling her around he folds her into his arms, hugging her. They stand like that for a while before Adam leans back and cups her chin is his hand.
“Call me if you find out anything,” he says his voice rough with emotion. Pulling away Lilly nods and walks down the stairs and out the door. Walking down the street to her house, trying to get her breathing to return to normal before she goes home for the night.
Later that night as Lilly walks to her bathroom her head starts to ache. Ignoring it at first, she brushes her teeth and goes about her routine until her eyes start to water from the pain. Squeezing her eyes shut she leads herself slowly to the toilet and sits down carefully on the lid.
Hearing a high pitched noise she covers her ears with her hands gasping as she starts to tremble before falling to the ground.
Sitting up Lilly looks around at the dark wood walls, and high ceiling. Slowly she stands up off the ground, feeling nauseous but besides that, better. As she searches the room her eyes are only met with two long cozy couches and a blazing fire. Walking towards the fire she holds her hands out for warmth, suddenly freezing.
Hearing a loud bang behind her she turns to find Marcai walking through a door that most certainly wasn’t there before. As Lilly watches the door quickly gets smaller before it’s like it wasn’t there at all.
What the hell? She blinks, hoping she imagined it.
“And still nobody has told you your true nature,” she turns towards Marcai’s low, irritable.
Head held high she respond, “I know enough.”
He chuckles in response, “Oh really? Do you know why you have been passing out? Why you’ve been having these visions?” he pauses letting this sink in before continuing, “Or why you had so much strength in just that one little punch? Do you know what change your going to go through any day now? Do you,” He begins again but Lilly interrupts,
“You’re point?” she forces herself to meet his chilling gaze, black eyes piercing her own.
Your friends know a lot more than they want you to think,” he says, smiling crudely. He walks towards the door that suddenly appeared again. Lilly gasps and he turns back around to her.
“Did you know that you will be able to do these things?” he asks, before he’s gone.
Blinking her eyes wearily, Lilly sits up, pushing her hair from her face. She tries to get her bearings as she glances around her room, wondering how she got there. Hearing someone clear their throat she swings her gaze to her chair in the corner of her room.
Dylan stares at her, with a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes and comes and sits down on her bed next to her. Trying not to blush uncontrollably at his close proximity she waits for him to speak.
“You passed out,” he says, “I was looking for ya and I walked in the bathroom right as you fell and smacked your pretty little head on the floor,” he says, teasing her as he lightly places his hand on her knee.
Flustered she ignores his hand, “Why are you here?” she asks.
“There’s a lot I need to tell you,” he runs his hand over his face before holding his chin in his hand and begins,
“You’re a Naragi. As am I, the difference is you haven’t gotten your mark yet. It comes in by itself,” he pauses looking at Lilly, “Do you want the long story or short?”
“I want all the details,” she says, still confused, but determined to hear him out.
He sighs, “Okay, so do you know what Naragi are?” as Lilly shakes her head he continues, “There’s many of us, all over the world. You’ve probably seen them, but they try to blend in to hide themselves. It’s safer that way.
“We’ve been here since the beginning of time, a strong and important race, kept safe by Protectors. Each descendant is either gifted with a Naragi mark, or a Protectors,” before Lilly can ask what the marks are he begins to unbutton his shirt, revealing perfect toned muscles, and a long scar from his the right of his collar bone, to his left rib cage.
Ignoring her staring, he shifts his body, showing her his upper back and shoulder. A design covers his caramel skin, almost like a tattoo, and Lilly feels a pull to it.
On impulse she delicately touches the intertwining swords and the large N that binds them together, hands steady. Fascinated, she traces the deep green and black lines.
What am I doing?
Surprised by her daring, Lilly pulls back, noticing how close they are, her face almost touching his as he watches her reaction.
“Why are Naragi so special? What do you guys do?” she asks, glad for the dark lighting of her room as her blush slowly fades.
“I guess the closest terms that you would know are witches and warlocks, but its more than that,” he says seriously, “we are warriors as well as warlocks. Just as our Protects protect us, we protect humanity.”
Lilly snorts at this last sentences, before she sees Dylan’s hurt reaction and realizes he’s serious.
“Why do you need my help? My parents aren’t N-Naragi,” she stutters over the word, “I’m not one of you.”
He stares at her for a while until she speaks again, voice shaking,
“Y-you knew my dad,” she says, standing up and pacing. She sees him nod and watch her as she paces.
“Was he…” she trails off and stops pacing, waiting frozen for Dylan to speak.
“Yes, he was Naragi,” he says quietly.
“Dylan?” he looks at her expectantly, “He didn’t actually die in a car crash did he?” Sadly, he shakes his head.
“Did mom know? About what he was?”
She sits down, eyes wide, and wraps her arms around herself.
“Are you okay?” he asks, placing her hand in his.
She’s oblivious to him, not even blushing at the warmth of his hand in hers. Thinking back to the day her dad dies she remembers him as he was going out.
“Honey! Grace!” Mr. James calls to his wife as he puts his coat on by the door.
“Yea?” she calls back, smiling as she comes into the foyer with Lilly, 15 at the time, walking behind her.
“I’m going out with the guys,” he says, smile big.
“Have fun,” Mrs. James says and kisses his softly on the lips before stepping away.
“Jon!” she calls, “Don’t forget gloves, it’s getting cold,” he stops on the front steps and jogs back through the door, grabbing the gloves before turning to Lilly.
Leaning down, he hugs her short frame hard and brushes her hair back,
“Bye, kiddo, love you,” he says staring down at her a moment more before turning and walking out the door.
Lilly stood on their front step for a while that night, until her mother made her come inside, haunted by that last look her father had given her. Loving, but scared and intense. He looked at her like he was apologizing, and trying to tell her everything at once.
Lilly walked in her room, not knowing that that was the last look her father would give her.
Lilly is pulled back to reality as Dylan turns her head gently to him leaving his hand cupping her face.
“He knew,” she whispers softly.
Dylan looks at her questioningly, before she says strongly,
“I’ll help you,” she continues looking into his golden eyes, “Whatever you need.”
He stares back at her for a moment more before shaking his head, “It’s not going to be easy...” he trails off.
“I know… what am I going to have to do?” she asks, tensing for his response.
“We’re going to Nali,” he states.
“What’s that?” she asks, confused.
“More like where’s that, it’s the home of the Naragi,” he says.
“And how do we get there?” she asks.
“When you’re ready, just start driving, then call me,” he says, grabbing a pen off of her desk and writing down his number.
She sits silent for a moment, remembering earlier that night, when Adam had said that he was going to help her.
“Do you think someone could come with us?” she smiles, trying to think of Adam’s reaction…
Adam stares at her, jaw dropped as they sit outside the school on a bench during lunch. He sets down his ham sandwich as he processes everything that she just told him about being a Naragi.
“So you’re supposed to help save humanity?” he asks, bewildered.
“I guess that’s the general idea,” she says, shrugging.
“And you want me to go to Nali with you?” he asks.
“Mhm,” she says, picking up her slice of pizza.
“And this Dylan guy is okay with this plan?” he asks.
“Well he didn’t say no,” she says, not meeting his eyes as she casts her head down, hair hiding her face.
When she finally looks back at him, he has his eyes narrowed,
“What should I tell my parents?” he asks, catching her by surprise.
“Oh… well I didn’t really think of that...” she trails off.
“And what do you think you’re going to tell yours?”
She sets her half-finished pizza back on her plate, wiping her mouth before answering,
“Whatever I need to,” she says, with a false confidence that hides her shaky interior. She’s relieved as Adam stares into her eyes, not noticing her hands shaking in her lap.
“You remember what I said last night?” he asks quietly. Instantly Lilly thinks of how close they were, their touches, their mouths so close, but she quickly pushes those thoughts aside, knowing he’s talking about being there for her.
“Then I’m coming,” he says, entwining her hands with his.
“Okay we’re going tonight,” she says, waiting for him to protest. To her surprise he says “okay,” before kissing her forehead and walking inside as the bell chimes through the mass of students.
Lilly hugs her sides as she walks to her old truck after school. With her black backpack slung over her shoulder she pulls at the car door, which opens with a reluctant squeak. Tossing her bag on the passenger seat Lilly brushes her fingers through her hair, quickly working her long waves into a loose pony at the base of her neck.
Starting the loud engine, Lilly turns out of the school parking lot in silence, listening to the jingle of her millions of keys against the steering wheel before turning up the soothing sound of rock as she tries to calm herself.
“You want to do this,” she tells herself, “You’re going to help Lucas and all the other N-Naragi,” she stutters over the new word.
“And Adam will be with you, it’ll all be okay,” she reminds herself as she pulls into her driveway. Turning off the car she pauses before she gets out, making her hands stop shaking and smoothing her hands over her dark sweater. As she opens the door she puts a smile on her face, the muscles in her jaw working unnaturally.
“Hey honey, you staying home tonight?” her mom asks as Lilly walks into the kitchen. She watches her mom bent over a recipe book as she tries to come up with an explanation.
“Well, actually, Adam and I,” she pauses, “Adam’s parents wanted to see if I wanted to come camping with them for the weekend up in Vermont,” she lies quickly, stumbling over her words.
“Oh,” her mom says putting a pan in lasagna before turning to face her, “well, sure that’s fine, I’ll just call Mrs. Ross,” she continues before Lilly snatches the phone from her and interrupts.
“Actually his parents are both already there, they left this morning, and said that Adam and I could just drive up there after school,” she lies, smiling as she taps her fingers on her side.
Her mother stares at her a moment, and Lilly feels her palms prickle in anticipation before her mom says,
“Okay, just make sure you stay with them, and don’t go wandering off by yourself, and—“ she stops as Lilly rolls her eyes,
“I know Mom,” she kisses her on the cheek before running out of the room.
Staring at her duffle bag in her room, Lilly frowns as she picks up the phone, dialing Adam’s number by memory.
“What exactly do you pack to go on a freaking mission to save humanity?” she asks as soon as he picks up.
She smiles as his low chuckle prickles through the phone,
“I would say some spandex, some sexy black boots, and maybe a pistol,” he says, mock seriously.
“Oh yeah, and maybe I’ll bring my vintage leather jacket, a kick-ass lace corset, and stick my shank in my belt while I’m at it,” Lilly laughs as he sighs dreamily,
“My superhero,” he says.
She laughs, “Seriously though, what are you bringing?”
“Just some jeans, a jacket, and some t-shirts, you’re seriously overthinking this,” he says.
“Shutup, I am not,” she pauses, “okay well whatever,” she starts grabbing thinks and shoving them in her bag.
“Well I told my mom I was camping with your family in Vermont, and that they were already up there and we were gonna go and meet them, what did you tell your parents?” Lilly asks, holding her cellphone between her shoulder and her ear as she rummages through her drawers for clothes.
“I told them that we were going to your friend Hanna’s cabin for some kind of homecoming party,” he says casually.
“Oh! I forgot Homecoming was this weekend,” Lilly exclaims, sitting on her bed.
“Yeah,” he says awkwardly, clearing his throat.
“You’re not going?” she asks.
“No, didn’t want to,” he says.
“Oh,” she says, “Well that’s good then so we can leave this weekend,” she says in a fake bright voice.
“So I’ll be there at like 5 okay?” he says.
Lilly glances over to the clock as is flashes 4:47.
“Okay, see you then,” she says, hanging up. She stands up, before she stops in front of her mirror, distracted by the picture in the corner. It’s a picture of her and Adam on the beach a couple summers earlier, before school started, both tanned and all smiles. Adam casually has his arm around her shoulders as they both grin with braces, awkward at 14, excited to start their freshman year.
Lilly smiles, remembering how easy their friendship was then. She finishes off her packing with her hair and tooth brushes. She glances around her room, checking for anything forgotten. As her gaze slides over her closet she sees a shiny black material glint in the light coming through her window.
Curious, she walks to her closet, sliding the door as she peeks inside to see what caught her eye. She gasps as she pulls out the jacket, smooth leather covering her small hands.
When did this get here? She wonders.
Pushing her arms through the sleeves of the jacket, she pulls it on and shrugs it over her shoulders, surprised by the comfortable snugness of the material, smooth against her skin.
She glances at the mirror, staring at her reflection. She smiles at the way the leather jacket covers her, but shows all her curves. Reluctant she takes it off, about to throw it back in her closet before impulsively shoving it in her already full bag.
Walking down the creaky stairs Lilly prepares herself to act normal around her mom. At the bottom of the bottom of the stair she looks into their living room as her mom watches Oprah in her dad’s old recliner.
She quietly sets her bad down by the door to the foyer before sitting on the black loveseat. Her mom jumps, startled by her sudden presence and turns down the volume to the TV.
“I didn’t even know you were there,” her mom says laughing.
Lilly laughs along with her, as she stares at her mom. She memorizes her mother’s short, straight hair, so unlike her own, except for the rich brown color. The emerald green eyes that match her own. The petite body that Lilly inherited. Glancing over her mother she chokes down tears suddenly terrified that she’s never gonna see her again.
Don’t even think that, it’s all going to be fine and I’ll be back by Sunday. Lilly tells herself with passion.
“When’s Adam coming?” her mom asks before she smiles as the ring of the doorbell echoes through the house.
“That would be him,” Lilly says going to get up before her mom stops her with a gentle pull of her shoulder, bringing her towards her.
“Be safe, don’t do anything you wouldn’t want me to find out about,” her mom says seriously, dark eyes piercing hers.
“I know mom,” Lilly laughs to try to stop her voice from shaking, “It’s Adam,” she continues, knowing that’s exactly what her mother needed to hear.
Her mom nods, looking relieved as she pulls her daughter in for a hug.
“Have fun, honey,” she calls as Lilly goes to meet Adam, “love you,” she says, smiling at Lilly.
“Love you too Mom,” she says, walking out the door and smiling at Adam as he looks down at her.
“Let’s do this.”
“So where am I going?” Adam asks, pulling out of Lilly’s long driveway. He drives slowly, waiting for direction.
“Well…” she pauses, “Just keep driving this way and I’ll call Dylan.”
She dials in the number from the piece of paper and puts it up to her ear, the ring filling her ears. On the first ring, Dylan’s accented voice speaks through the phone,
“That was quick,” he says.
Lilly sighs, “So where am I going?”
“You’re gonna go south, to Rumford, Maine, okay?” he says.
“Okay,” Lilly pauses, “Why?”
“You’re going to catch a plane there- don’t worry it’s paid for, just tell the ticket lady that you are Elizabeth Marie James, it’s all figured out. And I got an extra ticket in case you ended up bringing anyone,” he says.
“Where is this plane going?” Lilly asks.
“Iceland,” he says.
“Nali is in Iceland?” Lilly asks, surprised.
“No, but that’s the most secluded place I could find, so we’re going there,” he says.
He interrupts her, “I’ll explain when you get here, just get to the airport,” he says, handing up without a goodbye.
Lilly looks at her phone a moment, startled by his coldness at the end. Shaking it off Lilly turns to Adam.
“Drive to Rumford,” she says, “then we’re going to Iceland,” she smiles.
He looks shocked for a moment before he nods.
“Rumford it is,” he smiles, before catching one of her hands as she tries to stop them shaking in her lap. Pulling her hand on the armrest in between them he plays with her fingers, one hand on the wheel. She sighs, enjoying the warmth of his warm fingers wrapped around her cold ones. She leans back and closes her eyes, enjoying the moment.
“It’s gonna be okay Lil,” he says earnestly giving her small fingers a slight squeeze, “we’ll get through this. Why don’t you get some sleep?”
“Okay,” Lilly says, falling into obliviousness with Adam’s warm gaze fluttering through her dreams.
“Lilly?” Adam’s voice seeps into her head as she blinks, finding her bearings in the dark, “We’re here,” he says gesturing with his chin towards the large building and sign.
Lilly nods and she gathers her stuff quickly as Adam locks the car and grabs the bags. Walking in silence, they make their way to the airport, their breathing prominent as they exhale the cooling air.
As Lilly squints against the bright fluorescent lights she walks towards the ticket station, and up to the middle aged blond who is helping the customers.
“Can I help you?” she asks Adam, smiling sweetly.
Adam looks around at Lilly, question in his gaze. Stepping forward she thinks back to what Dylan told her on the phone.
“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Marie James,” she goes to continue until the woman’s eyes widen slightly.
“O-Oh, yes, hello Ms. James, I have your tickets right here for y-you,” she squeaks out, face pale as she hands over the tickets,
“Mr. Hale said to let you know that he will be meeting you at your destination,” she continues breathlessly.
Lilly stares at her a moment, hiding her astonishment as she takes in the terrified look on the lady’s face; the way her eyes keep twitching around; how beads of sweat are forming on her pale forehead.
“Thank you, Ms.…” Lilly searches for the woman’s name tag, “Margret Arnold.”
Her face lights up when Lilly says her name, “Not a problem, oh and just show this to the security guards and you’ll be let through with no problem,” she says, handing Lilly a card, about the size of a drivers license, with many different symbols that are all gibberish to Lilly as she stares down at them.
“Have a nice night,” Adam says as he takes Lilly’s arm gently and pulls her through the crowd of people and finally, after many scared looks from security guards, and annoyed ones from other people, they board their small plane.
The plush, tan, leather seat is comfortable under Lilly as she slides in next to the window. Putting their bags in the compartment above them, Adam pushes the door closed loudly causing the couple additional passengers to look at him.
Lilly smiles as his cheeks flush slightly and he sits down, clearing his throat. He taps his fingers against his pant leg as the plane takes off and Lilly tries to ignore him.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Lilly forces herself to stare at the ridiculous evacuation instruction booklet she found in back of the seat in front of her.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Lilly fiddles with her cartilage earring as she bits her lit.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
Swinging her gaze around at Adam she goes to snap at him before restraining herself.
You’re the reason he’s even here, she tells herself patiently, don’t nag at him.
Lilly sighs silently until a few taps later she reaches out instinctively and grabs his annoying taping hand, about to tell him to quit it.
As he lightly squeezes her hand, she bites her tongue and lets his warm calloused hands caress hers for the second time that night.
“My bad,” he smiles apologetically. He stares at their intertwined hands for a moment before smiling at her. Lilly goes to meet his eyes before she realizes, he’s not looking at her, but past her.
“What?” she asks turning and finding herself facing the bland cover over the window. He reaches around her, pulling up the shade. She watches, and as he lifts it, she looks at all the night stars above her in the dark sky, twinkling down at her.
“It’s beautiful,” she says as she stares out the window at the unbelievable beauty.
“Thank you,” she tells him later, her head leaned sleepily on his shoulder as they get closer to Iceland.
“For what?” he asks, body still.
“For coming with, and helping me,” she whispers, starting to close her eyes.
He stays still for a moment before shifting in his seat and resting his arm so it slightly brushes hers, “Anytime.”