Chapter 2: When Sparks Fly

Chapter 2: When Sparks Fly

A Chapter by Raewyn Pierce

Chapter 2  

I pressed my forehead to the tinted window and watched as the woodland prison took shape. Jutting peaks rose in the distance, shrouded in a quilt of autumn hues. An army of pine trees flanked the road, their trunks skirted with browning ferns and wild brush. A blue sign loomed ahead, dead vines creeping across a foreboding message: Welcome to Borden Grove. The words tied my stomach into knots and a cold sweat ignited across my skin. I inhaled a deep breath to calm my nerves.

“Are you still mad at me?” My brother caught me off-guard. His voice was revolting under the circumstances. I fought every impulse not to leap across the cab and smash his face through the window. He watched me for a response. Stephen could play the role of tough guy. He could wear his tailored suit, speak with a biting edge, and even fashion a dangerous expression every once in awhile. He could pretend to be as filthy and rotten as my father, but he had a few more years to perfect the charade. “Aria?”

I shrugged into the sticky leather seat, ignoring his probing gaze. I knew without peering into his head that he wanted to know my thoughts.  He wanted to pluck them out, one by one. His conscience brushed the outskirts of my mind, searching for a weak point. Exhaustion hammered at my mental barricades, almost as relentless as my brother. The vulnerable spots were beginning to show through my makeshift defenses.

“Knock it off.” I yelled, gripping my head against his mental siege. He smirked a little and leaned back in his seat, retreating into himself with a silent victory. I almost strangled the stupid look from his face, but he turned his attention out the window. He gave up, making me suddenly suspicious. No son of Colton Preston would ever just surrender. He may have snuck a glance through my waves of exhaustion, but this time left no trail to follow. I took a deep breath, drawing on the aroma of cedar. The smell tickled my nose.

Disregarding the unpleasant scent, I mimicked my brother by peering out the window. The narrow road snaked through the small town. I noticed the heavy coats, the colorful scarves, and winter boots. My imagination prompted a cool chill across my skin.  I shivered in my sweatshirt. The sixty-three dollars in my pocket were already spent on warmer clothes. I watched the boutiques drift past. With such a meager budget, I would probably have better luck at a thrift store. I pictured the response my father would give to a second-hand coat and bit back a smile.

As we drove deeper into town, I noticed that not much had changed in nine years. The locals still relished in the Halloween spirit. There were cackling witches impaled on lampposts, coffins that shook in terror, and half-excavated skeletons in the earth. Ugly jack-o-lanterns grinned from front porches, ghouls and ghosts posed in windows, and even a life-sized werewolf barred his teeth in front of the old Eastlen Academy. I almost forgot the impending holiday. I hated Halloween. I also hated my birthday. It seemed convenient that they landed on the same day.

The town car rolled to a stop beneath a traffic light, the only one for miles. I watched a group of school children file into a corner coffee house. The girls giggled and squealed. The boys wore big grins. Their school uniforms made me cringe. I remembered wearing the hideous plaid skirt and itchy wool sweater. My arms prickled at the reminder. I considered burning that ensemble on more than one occasion. In third grade, I wore a singed blouse for an entire week before anyone noticed.

My phone vibrated in my back pocket, interrupting the bitter recollection. I fished it from the tight denim shorts and glanced at the illuminated screen. Miranda Hale , the sight made me smile. “Who is that?” Stephen demanded, but I ignored him.

Your mom said you went to visit the old man. Thanks for saying bye, b***h. I read the text to myself, recognizing the playful stab. My mother referred to my exile as a visit. I liked that. She seemed to have gained some perspective in my absence. I jabbed at the keyboard with quick fingers, fashioning a response in my head. My brother seemed unnecessarily curious in my endeavor. I refused to acknowledge him, assuming the silence was better for both of us.

Stephen had no business in my personal life. He lost that privilege when he became henchman to the devil. I could always use company. My fingers danced over the keys and stabbed the send button. My brother glared from across the car. I avoided his hazel gaze. I already pictured the look on his face and confirmation was an unnecessary luxury. 

Drawing a deep breath into my lungs, I shifted my attention out the window once more. I expected to see the old library sandwiched between the butcher and florist, but the decrepit building had been replaced with a community park. It added a certain charm, despite the sparse landscaping and brown grass. I watched as bundled children raced around on the mulch, chasing one another and giggling wildly while their mothers sat gossiping on the benches.

I smiled, but the smile faded when I glimpsed the Stranger lurking at the tree-line. My breath seized in my throat.

“What is it?” Stephen noticed my reaction. “Aria?”

 A utility truck drove past and the man vanished behind the obstruction like a ghost: a trick of the light. I gripped my chest, trying to settle my racing heart. The stress had me seeing things, had me reliving the nightmare from my childhood.

“Aria?”

“Nothing. It was nothing. Just, leave me alone.”

Stephen must have taken offense, or perhaps struggled to understand the innocent phrase. He hit me with a powerful surge of energy, knocking every thought and notion from my silly, little head. I cringed. An involuntary cry escaped my lips. My head swelled with a deafening buzz to accompany the blow, building in pitch and volume. I tried plugging my ears, but the noise resonated from inside my skull. “Stop it.” I demanded, pain throbbing behind my temples. I gritted my teeth. “Stop it!” I shouted, throwing open the car door as the light turned green.

I spilled onto the pavement, scraping my hands and knees. “Whoa!” Stephen shouted at the driver as the car accelerated without me. Heavy breaths burned past my lungs as plumes of white, curling upwards into the cold air. I stared at the ground. A single speck of crimson landed on the sidewalk, followed by another. I touched my fingers to my nose. Blood leaked from my nostrils. Stephen pushed me too far. What the hell are you doing? Get back in the car.

My head threatened to explode under the pressure of two tangled minds. “You’re hurting me!” I shouted, earning some unwanted attention from customers at the coffee house. A spell of weakness teased the corners of my conscience. I wanted to black out and escape the curious stares. I never excelled at first impressions. Screaming at imaginary voices was not about to break my losing streak. My eyelids drooped heavier than normal. I scrambled to my feet, ignoring the tax in my skull. I heard the driver door shut as the goon rounded the car. With the sleeve of my favorite sweatshirt, I wiped the blood away from my nose.

A single idea landed in my head, blooming into something more. Stephen perceived the thought as it crossed my mental queue. Aria, don’t. The warning echoed like a gunshot. I took off, Converse sneakers striking the cement with each stride. My brother managed to hold me hostage, expanding his mind to the limits. I struggled against his psychic restraints, almost tripping over my own feet. I focused all my strength on remaining upright. My legs carried me past the coffeehouse, the smooth aroma of espresso hanging in the air.

The connection with my brother slipped slowly away, unraveling like a worn tapestry. My heart raced. I heard the goon lumbering after me, but his footfalls faded into the distance. Gooseflesh prickled my legs. Painful breaths wheezed past my lungs. The buzzing sound died, resurrecting sweet silence in its stead. I sprinted another block past the handsome theater I visited as a child. The giant red doors gave me a sense of security. I remembered attending the matinee features with Stephen. We did have our good moments, back then at least. They all seemed to be in the past, the very distant past.

I glanced over my shoulder for the goon, watching his massive girth shrink into the distance. I smirked, giving him the middle finger. As I sprinted around a sharp corner, I forgot to redirect my eyes to the front of my head. I plowed into a stranger, the impact knocking us both off balance. In the midst of the collision, I caught glimpse of his incredibly shocked and incredibly handsome face. He tried to resist falling, but I collapsed into his solid frame, forcing us both down. We landed on the filthy sidewalk in a tangle of limbs.

His head struck the pavement with a muted crack. 

“Are you okay?” I hovered over him. My hair dangled in his face, the platinum tips brushing his pale cheeks. His surreal gaze flickered to mine, inspiring a chill that resonated through my bones. His eyes were deep violet and speckled with flecks of gold. A yellow ring encircled his pupils, glowing like a stolen sliver from the moon.

“You should watch where you’re going.” I noticed a second man glaring down at me. He looked more upset than my victim. I tried tuning him out, swallowing my embarrassment without any luck. My cheeks flushed red. I listened for the footfalls of the goon, hoping he fell far behind. I considered scrambling to my feet and racing off, but my stupid conscience told me to stick around. “Did you hear me, goldilocks?” The second man demanded. His hair was styled into a faux hawk, gauges stretched his earlobes, and an intricate tattoo extended across his right arm.

“Yes, I heard you!” I shouted, issuing him a nasty look. His jaw snapped shut in response, his gaze still smoldering. My attention dropped to the handsome young man with surreal eyes. He grimaced, pulling himself into an upright position and stroking the back of his skull. He winced against the bruising, bringing his fingers away smeared with blood. “You’re bleeding.” I gasped, grabbing his hand without thinking. The physical contact sent sparks sizzling through my nerves. My heart jumped in tune with the tiny pulsations, causing him to pull away with a jerk. He wiped the crimson sap on his jeans.

“I’ll be fine.” He spoke in a velvet tone, sounding calm despite the overreaction. My mind gushed with thoughts of guilt. I should have been watching the sidewalk ahead of me, not glancing over my shoulder and searching for the inevitable. I took a shaky breath, realizing that the inevitable was about to catch up with me. “You’re still on top of me.”The man added with a gentle smirk.

“Oh, I’m sorry.” I stirred to dismount the stranger, but stopped to search in the direction of the coffee house. I looked for the heavy man lumbering down the sidewalk, but only noticed a couple walking hand-in-hand.  “Someone was chasing me.” The words trailed into the cool air. He could probably care less about my problems. I turned back to him. A strange heat surged inside me as his eyes dipped into mine. They pulled me in with a hypnotizing drawl, dragging me to their depths. I reminded myself to breathe.

The other man scoffed, severing the strange connection. “Let me guess, the three bears?”

“Is that your favorite bedtime story or something?”

He snarled in response, crossing his arms over her chest and rolling his eyes.

The young man moved beneath me, emphasizing the contours of his body. “I need my sunglasses.” He whispered. His breath fanned my face, smelling of sweet peppermint. Searching the sidewalk, he tried sitting up. I shifted my weight, crouching on all fours. We both recognized his sunglasses at the same moment. They lay crushed beneath my knee, shards of the lens still stuck in my flesh. He ran a set of fingers through his tousled dark hair, looking a bit upset.

I sighed, wrestling with words. “I’m really sorry�"” I apologized, reaching into my hoodie pocket and offering him the mirrored aviators from my father. “Take these.”  He studied the gesture, probably noticing the expensive brand.  “Please.” I dropped them into his hand. The hint of a smile tugged at his lips, never fully dawning. His surreal eyes brightened a shade.

“Thanks.” He murmured, slipping them on. They looked great on him, but he could probably make anything look good with his high cheekbones and gentle dimples. “I’m Paden Larkin. You are?” The question hung in the air between us. My throat tightened a bit, holding back any quick response. My family name was a powerful one, especially when muttered around Borden Grove. By admitting relations, I could be signing myself over to social leprosy.

I opened my mouth to respond, but all that escaped was a gasp. Fingers coiled around my arm, jerking me upwards with a violent force. I struggled for footing, pain tearing through my shoulder socket. Spinning around, I glimpsed my ugly pursuer. He panted like an angry and winded bull. I assumed that my causal jog must have given him a nice cardio workout, but judging by his figure he needed it.

Up until that exact moment, I had been oblivious to the town car parked on the curb with the hazards flashing. It must have been there for a while, because my brother leaned against the polished exterior, watching my company with a threatening look.

“This a*****e with you, Stephen?” Paden scraped himself off the ground and stepped towards the bull. He stood a foot shorter, his lean build looking scrawny compared to the overweight goon. Regardless, he refused to back down and the vice grip tightened on my arm. I winced, prying at the beefy fingers. My heartbeat hammered behind my ears, the percussion mounting to an almost painful caliber.

“Two against one, Preston.” The tattooed man snarled. I wondered what he meant by two against one. There were clearly two goons to back up my brother. That would have made it two against three and the odds seemed mounted against my new friends. Despite the ugly statistics, the pair seemed confident. Paden even cracked a smile, his lips twitching into a smirk and emphasizing his killer dimples.

“Get out of my way.” He snarled at the bull, the threat carrying a lethal quality.

I never expected the bull to heed his warning, but the burly man stepped aside. His eyelids seemed to grow heavy, his expression blank. A moment later, he turned and retreated to the car.

That is a cute parlor trick, Paden.” Stephen took a step towards him, fingers coiled into fists at his sides. “You really are a freak.”

Paden recoiled at the insult. His muscles rippled beneath the fabric of his jacket, the veins in his neck constricted and pulsed with anger. He lunged at my brother.

“Forget it.” I shouted, stepping between them at the last possible second. I expected to become the victim of a misplaced fist. Paden wanted to see my brother bruised and bleeding on the sidewalk; I saw the murder written all over his face. Instead, my palm pressed against his muscular chest. A sudden jolt travelled through my fingertips, tore through my arm, and shot into my chest. It was painful at first, but the pain slowly subsided. My heart skipped a beat, starting to drum out an irregular tune.

“Aria, get in the car!” Stephen shouted, stealing me from the trance. My eyes lifted to Paden. He looked just as stunned, his brow wrinkled with confusion. “Get in the car!” Stephen shouted again.

My thoughts were jumbled, otherwise I probably would have punched him myself. Instead, I joined the bull and driver in the confines of the town car. I pulled the door shut with a thud and glanced down at my trembling hands. My entire body felt energized, charged with some sort of foreign power. The tingling sensation channeled through my nerves, warmed my insides and collecting in my chest.

I glimpsed my cell phone through the spaces between my fingers and reached down to grab it off the floor mat, feeling at ease with the lifeline in my hand once more.

A loud crash shook the car, causing me to start. I glanced out the tinted windows. Paden shoved Stephen into the car, holding him by the jacket collar. Their raised voices were muffled. I strained to hear what they were saying. The frame trembled again, but the goon in the driver seat remained stoic. The tattooed boy pulled them apart, causing Paden to stumble and catch his balance. His friend seized him by the shoulders, leading him along to prevent round two.

Stephen straightened his dress shirt and flattened the wrinkles in his suit jacket. He shouted something after them, rounding the car with an injured gait. I figured his pride to be more injured than anything else. Pulling open the door, he sunk into the leather seat. I turned towards him. He looked noticeably disheveled. Blood leaked from his nostrils. Paden must have been the first to swing. I tried to hide my smile. Stephen deserved it, but the bloody nose hardly made us even.

“You saw his eyes?” He questioned, wiping his nostrils on the back of his hand. I nodded. “Never mention them to anyone.” His words resembled a threat. I turned my attention out the window as the town car pulled away from the curb.



© 2010 Raewyn Pierce


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Every chapters pulls me in more and more, and it is becoming apparent I can't seem to stop reading this exhilarating story. the moment between Aria and Paden have me enticed, and I can't wait to see them together again. You wrote that scene perfectly!

Posted 14 Years Ago



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Added on March 14, 2010
Last Updated on March 14, 2010


Author

Raewyn Pierce
Raewyn Pierce

About
Seven years ago, I started writing a little story about werewolves. A lot has changed, but I have continued to develop it. Characters have earned new names, the plot has evolved, and my writing has im.. more..

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