Reliving Fate, page 16
"What about you?" she asks.
"Yeah, I'm not in uni."
Rocco raises his eyebrow. "You're going."
"Oh, am I?" I challenge.
"Isabella, drink your beer."
Ellis and Izzy laugh. I don't really find Rocco's bossiness very funny tonight; he's being a bit of a knobhead.
"You think Lonny or Hugo will win tonight?" Ellis asks Rocco.
My heart sinks at the sound of his name. I need to see him, but the thought of it turns my stomach.
"My money's on Hugo," he replies before taking a long sip of his beer.
I don't want to drink mine now. I want my mind one hundred percent clear. I still don't really know what he and Celia were since her diary reads a little like a bunny-boiler stalking a guy. Hugo clearly wasn't as into her as she was into him, if at all, but she didn't see that. In my sister's mind, they were going to happen.
I wish I knew if she was right.
"I can't believe street fighting is an actual thing. What's the point?"
"Because, Cinderella," Rocco says sarcastically, "not all of us have wealthy parents."
A few other people stop by, and our circle of four gets bigger. Rocco doesn't introduce me. I don't think he's being ignorant; he just doesn't like that I'm integrating into this part of his life.
"So, are you coming tonight?" Faith asks, joining our ever-growing group.
"Yep. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to it."
She folds her arms and thins her lips in disapproval. "It's barbaric--men hurting each other for money--but there aren't many opportunities around here, and a fight pays well."
Rocco has never told me how much he makes, but then I wouldn't expect him to.
"People come from out of town to watch, and they bet. You can easily make a few thousand in a night."
"Really? No offence, but...er..." How do I put this without sounding like a mega bitch?
"But why do they live here if they can make thousands in one night?" Faith adds, correctly guessing my question.
"The people who bet big are the ones who travel from out of town. The money isn't guaranteed. You might not win, and you can't fight daily. If you win, you do well, but it's not enough or frequent enough to get you out."
Okay, that makes sense.
I wish Rocco would get out. He deserves so much more.
"Will you be going tonight?"
She shakes her head. "Not tonight. I have a young girl staying at the youth centre tonight until we can find her something more permanent."
"Is she okay?"
"Her father was abusive, so she ran. I'll speak with social services tomorrow and see if there's anything they can do for her, though there rarely is. She's a flight risk, so I don't want to leave her alone for too long."
God, I can't imagine being in that poor girl's position. The longer I'm in this place, the more I appreciate my family, no matter how fractured we are. Still, I can't seem to be able to get along with them.
I really wasn't always a massive brat.
"I hope she gets help soon."
"I'll make sure she does. So, anyway, how did you meet Rocco?"
"We ran into each other, and it kind of went from there."
"He seems happy with you."
I lift my eyebrow. "Really? How can you tell that from his moodiness tonight?"
She laughs. "Well, he's less moody than usual."
Jesus, they must all have a right laugh with him on a normal night. Not.
"Glad I'm toning down the grumpy. I really kinda like him, and my family has started to notice something's different with me."
"Would they like Rocco?"
"They won't like me being with him. My twin, Livvy, is perfect and has the perfect boyfriend. They'll be off to a great uni together, and he's so respectful that it makes me feel ill. He's boring as hell, but that seems to be what they want for their daughters."
"Ah, the opposite of Rocco."
"Pretty much. I won't be able to keep them away from him forever."
"I don't envy you that. Thankfully, my parents accepted Keith when we got together at fifteen. Do you not have a great relationship with your family?"
"Not really. I'm nothing like Livvy."
"I'm sorry to hear that. I've dealt with a lot of young girls who fell out with their parents, and it's a horrible situation. If you ever want to talk about it, you can always find me at the centre, near the diner."
"Are you a therapist?"
"Unofficially. We've helped a lot of young people at the centre. I think I've just about heard it all."
I doubt that.
"Bella," Rocco says, cutting across the circle of people to reach me.
My heart beats faster, the closer he gets.
"Are you ready to go?"
His arms wrap around my waist, and he loses some of his tenseness. "You wanted to see the fight," he says like duh.
"Oh, yeah, I'm ready."
It's that time already?
My stomach is in knots, as I know I'm about to come face-to-face with Hugo for the first time.
Faith smiles and takes a step back. "I'll see you soon, Bella."
"Bye," I say, swallowing a lump the size of a golf ball.
My heart is racing off the charts, so much so that I feel light-headed and have to hold on to Rocco's hand super tight.
* * *
Rocco and I follow his friends to the scrapyard. I've managed to force my jelly legs to keep moving, but I sure as hell don't feel like going anymore. I half-want to turn around and run away from all of this. Things would be so much easier if I could forget what I know and what I've seen.
I love my twin, but sometimes, I envy Livvy for getting to be the normal one.
"Tense?" Rocco says.
He's not really asking; even I know I must look like I'm walking to my own death.
"Just nervous for the fight," I reply, staring ahead because I'm too scared of giving it all away if I look him in the eye.
"If you don't want to go--"
"No, I do," I answer a little too fast. "This is kind of big around here, right?"
Please don't pick up on my nervousness.
He snorts. "And you love it here so much that you want to adopt our pastimes. If you're going to lie, Bella, make it believable."
I don't know what to say to that.
He obviously knows I'm lying, but I can't really tell him the truth. I don't know who I can trust completely. Since my sister was murdered, trust is something I find ridiculously hard. People are capable of some pretty nasty shit.
"When are you fighting next?" I ask.
His eyebrow lifts, but he doesn't say anything about my change in subject. "Not sure. Why? Do you want to watch?"
"No, thanks." I would quite literally rather watch reruns of Jersey Shore and/or Geordie Shore all day.
"Strangers are fine?"
"Yes. I've decided I don't like the thought of you getting hurt," I admit.
His eyes flick down, and he takes me in for a second. His step almost falters, but he pulls it back in time. I don't really know if he likes that I worry about him or not. I was never supposed to fall for him.
How things change...
"I don't lose, Bella."
"So I've heard, but that's not really what I was talking about. It's hard to watch someone you care about get hurt."
My mind flashes back to my lifeless and bloody sister on the floor, and it's like a massive kick in the stomach.
Hard doesn't even begin to cover the pain.
"I might take a few punches, but I never seriously get hurt."
"Not the point. You could."
"Anything could happen then at anytime. I could cross a road and be hit by a car or fall down stairs and bash my head."
"There's a difference between accidents and putting yourself in danger."
"Is that not what you're doing by sneaking out, not telling anyone where you're going, and wandering around the bad part of town in the middle of the night?"
Okay, he has me there.
I can't really preach about safety when I'm putting myself in danger every time I come here. Celia is worth it though. I don't think money or boredom is worth risking your life, but justice is. Rocco is worth it, too.
"Touche. But you know you're walking into a fight. I--"
"Don't have a clue what you're walking into," he finishes. "I'm not convinced that's smarter, Bella."
"Fine, we're equally stupid."
He laughs, and my heart lifts.
"Maybe we are."
As we approach the scrapyard, I start to feel the buzz in the air. But I'm not sure if the buzz I'm feeling is a good one. A lot of people with a crapload of excitement and anticipation are milling around. I just kind of feel sick about the whole thing.
Hugo is here somewhere.
Will he recognise me?
I might as well be Celia's doppelganger, as all of us sisters look alike. So, if he knew her as well as she obsessed over him, he'll for sure realise I'm related to Celia.
Shit, what do I do if he recognises me as a relation of Celia?
I did not think this through.
"Um, can we stay back a bit?" I ask.
As we walk through the rusted, tall metal gates, I can taste bile in the back of my throat. I want to go home, get a boring boyfriend, and go to uni. Maybe I should be more like Livvy. It certainly seems like a good idea right now.
Rocco shrugs. "Yeah, whatever. I thought you wanted to watch though?"
"I'll be able to see."
"No, you won't. You're little."
"I'm not that short."
"You come up to my shoulder."
"All right, BFG, not my fault."
His eyebrows pull together in a frown. "What?"
He's never read The BFG. Of course not. Jesus, he had no childhood at all.
"Never mind," I say. "If I get splattered with blood, I will freak, so I need to be far, far back."
He smirks, and I'm not sure if that's because he thinks I'm ridiculous or because he doesn't believe me.
I tried so hard not to react when he mentioned Hugo, but it was hard. The guy is the only link between Celia and this place since her friends are absolutely not talking about it. All I've ever gotten from them are lies. Who lies about that? They're either scared of someone or covering for someone.
"Sure, Cinderella. We wouldn't want to dirty your shoes now."
"You bastard," I snap. I want to storm off, but I don't feel safe here without Rocco, so I'm stuck.
The clouds above us shift to grey, and rain is about the last thing I need right now. They're not the kind of people to call off a fight because of some water, but my nerves are already fried, and standing in the cold rain would only piss me off.
Rocco laughs, and as annoying as it is, he makes me feel a little bit better. I definitely like him too much.
I'm rubbish at detaching my emotions when it comes to him and Celia.
How do I manage it with the people who made me and my twin--the other half of me--but not my deceased sister and a practical stranger?
In my pocket, my phone starts to vibrate.
Shit, this can't be good.
No one but family calls me because I don't really have friends.
Rocco glances down at me. "You gonna get that?"
I don't even dare to look at who's calling. If it's Nana or Grandad, I'm screwed.
Swallowing, I reach into my pocket.
Please, please be a cold caller.
Mum. It's Mum. Fuck.
"Oh God," I mutter.
"Busted?" Rocco asks. His eyes glitter with amusement.
I dash off to the side farthest from people, accept the call, and hold the phone to my head. "Hi, Mum," I say.
"Bella, are you okay? I couldn't get an answer from the house phone."
Crap, she's been calling Nana and Grandad!
"Oh, yeah, sorry." Say something better. "They're asleep, and I just got out of the shower." Good. Much better than a rambled apology. "Is everything okay?"
"Livvy is unwell."
My stomach bottoms out. "What? What's happened? Is she going to be okay?"
"We had the on-call doctor out, and he thinks she's dehydrated. We're taking her to the hospital now."
"Should I wake them? Which hospital?"
Rocco's expression is no longer one of pure entertainment. He looks concerned.
"No, that's not necessary. She's been sick today, so we think she'll just need to stay the night, so they can get some fluids into her."
Harry had better not have knocked her up.
"Why is she sick? Can I talk to her?"
"She can hear you, love. You're on speaker in the car."
"Liv, are you all right?" I say immediately after learning she's listening.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
She doesn't sound fine; she sounds exhausted.
"What's going on?"
"The doctor thinks it's a bug. Maybe you should stay with Nana and Grandad an extra couple of days."
I want to say, You can't catch pregnancy, but that would make me a bitch, and it probably is just a bug. Livvy is on the pill, and she's too perfect to miss one.
"Okay. Make sure you call me when you know what's going on."
"I will," she replies.
"Darling, I'm going to go now. We're just pulling into the entrance," Mum says. "We'll get Olivia settled, and then I'll give you a call."
"'Kay, love you guys."
"Love you, too," they reply all at once before the call is disconnected.
I'm uneasy as I put my phone back in my pocket. I want to rush off to the hospital, but I also want to stay here and find Hugo. I've been looking for months, and now, I've finally found him. But my twin is in the hospital.
How do I possibly choose between my sisters?
"What's going on?" Rocco asks.
"My parents are taking Livvy to the hospital. She's been sick, and the doctor thinks she's dehydrated."
"Do you need a lift over there?"
"They pretty much told me not to. Livvy thinks it's a bug and doesn't want me to catch it, and my mum said she'd ring when there was news."
"So, we're staying?"
I frown as guilt settles in my stomach. "Yeah, we're staying."
Livvy is okay. She has our parents. Celia has no one. Her file is stuffed in a cold-case drawer at the police station, and as of right now, I'm the only one still looking.
Three years ago, her file was pulled, and another detective attempted to find the person responsible. Celia's killer's prints and DNA had been lifted at the scene but never brought up a match. Mum cried for hours when we were told that. She'd hoped the bastard would have been arrested for something, so his details would be on record. It was pretty much the only hope my family had. But the only evidence has been locked inside me, and I can't talk until I know who he is and what the danger is to my family.
I won't watch another sister be killed.
"All right. Let me know if you change your mind."
I've changed it about a thousand times since I hung up the phone.
"When does this start?" I ask.
Rocco checks his watch and shrugs. "Shouldn't be long now."
I arch my eyebrow. "You look beyond bored."
He wraps an arm around me and tucks me into his side. This is new. I like it.
"I'm good," he replies, looking over the crowd.
Oh, screw it.
I extend my arms and lock them around his waist. He started it, so he should be able to handle the amount of clinging I'm going to be doing. I kind of feel like I need something physical to hold on to. Shit is about to get real.
The crowd morphs into a
I awkwardly crane my neck to see what they're doing. I don't like being shut in. "Er, Rocco..." I say nervously. Yeah, I definitely don't like those gates being barricaded.
He follows my line of vision and explains, "If the police come, they'll have to get through the cars and gates, in which time we'll have made it out of the side gate."
"And they won't just go to the side gate because..."
"They don't know it's there. It changes often."
"The gate changes?"
"Position, yes. It's a chain-link fence, Bella. They cut the connections in a different place each time."
What the hell else do they do here to have the need to change quick exits for every fight?
"I suddenly really, really want to go to the hospital."
"It's fine." He laughs. "I know which one it is."
And how does he know?
"Right. Now, I feel much better," I mutter sarcastically, tightening my death grip around his middle.
He jogs my arm to get my attention, and when I look up, he says, "I promise, you'll be fine."
Wow. He's promised me something.
The way he's staring at me makes the skin on my arms pebble. His promise tears right through my heart. He's not just talking about tonight. Whether he wants to or he knows it, Mr Detached is getting attached. And I'm as emotionally attached to him as I am physically right now.
Neither one of us planned this.
Why can't things just fucking go as planned?
"I trust you," I whisper, getting lost in the intensity of his eyes.
I should walk away. I should absolutely walk away right now, but I can't.
I'm completely in love with him.
* * *
Lonny and Hugo are announced, and all eyes are pinned to the centre of the ring we've created. My eyes, however, are pinned to the fucking spider monkey stuck to my side.
I don't even have the energy to tell myself that I don't like it.
Lonny and Hugo are similar in appearance. Their heads are closely shaven, both have dark eyes, and they are the same height. They're not related although it's possible. Lonny's dad was a dog and impregnated whatever woman thought sleeping with him was a good idea. As far as I know, Hugo isn't aware of who his dad is.
Bella's eyes flit between the two. Her body is stone underneath mine. I can't tell what's she's thinking because she has her poker face on. It's fucking annoying.
"So, who is who?" she asks. Her voice breaks.
She had every intention of sounding casual, but it was anything but.
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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