Reliving fate, p.2

Reliving Fate, page 2


Reliving Fate

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  I laugh and take a look over my shoulder at the same time he does. Nana is deep in conversation with my parents and Livvy, so they didn't overhear. There is only one dish that woman can't make, and it's one of Grandad's favourites.

  "That sounds good to me." The first part anyway. Celebrating Celia's birthday is never enjoyable.

  Nan and Grandad serve dinner, and shortly afterward, Mum, Dad, and Livvy leave to go home. I feel like I can breathe as soon as they're out of the house. Everything they want for me and expect of me is suffocating. They don't know how much I want to be what they believe I can be, and they have no idea what's standing in my way of it.

  Nan and Grandad watch Britain's Got Talent, which is ironic because ninety-nine percent of the show proves we do not, and I force myself to sit through it. I'm antsy, and I wish they'd just go to bed already.

  Half an hour has passed when they finally start yawning. Although they fall asleep quickly, I need to wait a good twenty minutes before I sneak out. It's almost ten p.m., and I'm tired. The last thing I want to do is go traipsing around town, but if I want answers, I can't sit on my arse.

  At 10:13 p.m., Nana starts to yawn, and five minutes later, her hand covers Grandad's wrist. I know from experience that she's telling him it's bedtime. They go together every night, neither one of them willing to leave the other behind. It's kind of sweet really.

  "We're heading up, Bella," Grandad says even though there is no up in the bungalow.

  "Yeah, me, too." I fake a yawn, which leads to a real one, and stand up. "Night," I say.

  "Good night," they reply at the same time.

  This little routine has been rehearsed many, many times before.

  I head to the family bathroom with my bag and pretend to get ready for bed. They have an en suite, so I know I won't see them again until morning. I don't change because I'll be leaving soon, but I need to go through the motions. I brush my teeth and take off the small amount of mascara I'm wearing. Makeup doesn't interest me, mainly because I've watched Celia and now Livvy spend absolutely ages in front of the mirror, perfecting their looks. I'd rather have a lie-in. Besides, when I attempt to do my face up, I just look like an extra from The Walking Dead.

  Closing my bedroom door, I make sure to slam it enough that Nana and Grandad hear but not too much that they think something is wrong.

  Now, I wait, and I despise waiting.

  Time is a bitch when you're waiting for something. Usually, I can lose a few hours with Facebook and days with Netflix, but I need to concentrate, so I can hear when it's time to make my escape.

  Twenty minutes later, I hear Grandad's snore.

  Yes! He's asleep, so it's time to go.

  Nana is asleep already, as she's usually gone the second her head hits the pillow. I open the window and hoist my leg over. I kind of feel like a ninja boss as I leap over, close the window, and dart across the front garden.

  Or I just look like I'm off my face on acid.

  It's June, so sunset is later in the evening, but it's dark enough that I probably won't be seen or at least identified.

  For the last couple of months that I've been wandering around town when sleeping at Nana and Grandad's, I've been going to the main high street. Today, against all my instincts, I turn in the other direction. It's the shitty part of town where you lock your doors as you drive through and don't make eye contact with anyone.

  This had better lead somewhere, Celia.

  I pull my leather jacket around my body and fold my arms. It's not at all cold out, so I don't zip it up, but I'm nervous, and I don't want to be stabbed.

  Right, because leather is basically armour.

  Houses slowly slip from manicured lawns to old kitchen appliances on overgrown lawns. A river runs through the whole town, so I head toward it in the hopes that I won't attract too much attention. At some point, I'll have to talk to someone, but now, I just want to know where people hang out and what they get up to.

  Turning right, I head toward the river where the greenery gets thicker, and you can't tell who would sooner stab you in the eye than who would help you carry your shopping bags.

  This is a bad idea.

  If Celia did hang out around here, then she was stupid.

  Why would she choose this? I mean, the bad-boy thing is hot and all, and it looks like there are a lot of them around, but I'm not sure I'm willing to die for it.

  Hugo must look like a Greek god. Or Nick Bateman.

  The warm breeze sends chills down my spine, and I look over my shoulder. No one is around, and I hear no other footsteps on the floor, but I still feel like I'm being followed.

  God, this place gives me the creeps.

  Standing taller, I continue as confidently as I can while my legs feel like jelly, and my heart is jackhammering in my chest. I don't know where the hell I'm going, but it doesn't matter, especially not if I find Hugo. My safety stopped meaning that much to me a long time ago. The only thing that matters is finding the man who killed my sister.

  I owe her.

  When I was younger, there wasn't a lot I could do but live with the guilt. Now, I can try to find him and hope the guilt will lessen when I do. Obviously, I know I have to be careful. Celia was terrified of someone, and I'm not dumb enough not to be scared, too. Heck, I am scared. Like really, really scared.

  Keep going.

  I eventually stumble upon a small river beach. The same river is behind a white railing in the nice part of town. Apparently, safety and drowning risks aren't important here. Down on the mud is a group of people hanging out, drinking and sitting around a bonfire. It's odd, as there are teenagers and adults, some who look well into their forties.

  What kind of party is this?

  "Who the fuck are you?" a deep voice snaps.

  I spin around and have to do a double take. My frozen heart skips a beat. He's gorgeous. Tall, muscular, short and dark hair, and caramel eyes framed by a ring of chocolate.

  Asking if I can lick him seems entirely inappropriate.

  He doesn't look pleased to see me though.

  I prepare for a fight. It doesn't matter how gorgeous you are; if you're an arsehole to me, I'm going to fucking own you.

  Or you're going to die because he looks like he can handle himself.

  "Are you a police officer?" I ask.

  His nose scrunches slightly as he frowns. He looks confused, and it's cute.

  "I'll take that as a no, so forgive me if I'm being rude, but jog on."

  The shock of my words is evident on his expression even though he tries not to react. Too late; it's clear that he's not used to people standing up to him, so that puts me at an advantage.

  "You need to watch your mouth, little girl," he threatens.

  "Or?" Perhaps I'm a bit too gobby, but I don't like his attitude any more than he likes mine, and I won't be intimidated.

  He takes a step closer, and his caramel eyes turn darker. If he wants to play the big, bad guy, he really needs to ugly himself up. "Or I'll make you. Am I clear?"

  "Yes, I have no problem understanding, but that doesn't mean I'm going to listen. Now, unless there's anything else, I'd like to get on--"

  "What're you doing here?"

  Sighing sharply, I narrow my eyes. I don't like questions. "I recently moved nearby, so I wanted to explore the area."

  "At this time of night?"

  He doesn't believe my story about moving here.

  "It's eleven," I deadpan. "If I'm keeping you up--"

  "Isn't it past your bedtime, sweetheart?"

  Patronising fuck.

  "Want to come tuck me in?" I shoot back.

  His eyes smoulder, and I realise that maybe that wasn't the best thing to say. I mean, I would absolutely go there, but he's pissing me off too much right now.

  "Name," he demands.

  He's bossy.

  "Bella Hastings."

  "Good. That wasn't so hard, was it?"

  I ignore that. "What's yours?" I ask.

p; He smirks, and I know I'm not getting it. He can't be Hugo; he's too young. He looks to be in his early twenties, and Hugo, assuming he was older than Celia, will now be in his thirties. This is getting me nowhere.

  "Well, this has been a delight. It was nice to meet you," I say sarcastically.

  I turn to walk away, but I don't get far because his hand circles my wrist, and it steals my breath. I'm not sure if I'm more scared that he'll hurt me or annoyed that the contact makes my hormones freak out.

  "What're you really doing, Bella?"

  I snatch my arm back and stand my ground. "I'm checking out the area. What don't you understand about that?"

  "Watch your back," he says. Then, he disappears into the darkness of the night.

  I watch until he turns up again, closer to the fire. There's about twenty feet that's unlit between where I am and where the fire is, and knowing anyone else could pop up makes me jittery. I have things to do, so I don't dwell on it, and instead, I walk into the dark area, so I can spy on the insanely good-looking, weird guy.

  If this is where Celia escaped to all those years ago, then I question her sanity. It's strange. I wouldn't want to hang around with old people.

  What do they all have in common anyway?

  I'm jumping to conclusions. They could be family, but if they were, why wouldn't they be at home and not at the saddest-looking river beach I've ever seen? The bleakness doesn't exactly scream party.

  There's something about them, about them being out of the way, that makes me think there's more going on and that Celia's been here--probably anyway.

  It's not like I'm fucking Sherlock Holmes, so, really, I need to look at everyone, everywhere. Someone has to know Hugo and has to remember Celia. The fact that no one has ever come forward shows just how deep in the shit she got herself.

  People don't talk when they're afraid.

  That doesn't exactly make me feel confident about finding him...or living to tell the tale. Whatever happens, happens. Celia deserves to have him pay. Maybe then my family can start living again.


  * * *


  I watch her not leaving from the shadows on the furthest side of the fire with the crowd on the other side. She shouldn't be able to see me too well from here, but I have a pretty good view of her.

  Who the fuck does she think she is?

  If she were checking out the area, she would've left by now. There's nothing here worth seeing. Never has been, and never will be.

  That leaves one option; she's looking for something. Shit goes missing around here all the time. The key is not to have anything you care about, and then you won't give a flying fuck when it's gone.

  Come on. Leave.

  I don't know why I give a damn. The nosy bitch has it coming if she thinks she can wander around here, alone in the dark, and have nothing happen. I'm surprised she's not been mugged yet.

  What the hell is she doing?

  She's not leaving. I clench my fists.

  Stupid girl.

  Though I know I'm not responsible for her, I still find myself walking toward her again, keeping to the edge of the brambles where she's trying to watch everyone inconspicuously. I take long strides, eager to get to her before someone else does. She's doing a pretty good job of hiding. No one else--that I know of--has noticed her.

  As I approach, I hear her heavy breathing. The girl has confidence and courage, but right now, she's petrified.

  So you should be, little girl.

  "You're not gone yet," I say after watching her for another second, making her jump.

  She spins around. Her posture relaxes as she recognises it's me--not that she should since I'm a complete stranger to her.

  I've scared her, but the only indication is the slight flinch in her compelling hazel eyes that she quickly recovers from.

  "Well, your observational skills are second to none," she says dryly.

  Her smart mouth is nothing new...but she is. Usually, good girls from the right side of the tracks run fucking fast after stumbling upon this shithole.

  "What're you doing here, Isabella?"

  "How did you know my name's Isabella?"


  "It's not much of a stretch from Bella."

  "Whatever," she snaps, narrowing her eyes.

  There's no denying the girl is beautiful, sexy, and full of attitude.

  "I told you what I'm doing. New to the area and all, I'm just looking around. Am I not saying it right?"

  "Nothing here you need to see."

  "Do you own this land?"

  I glare. "You should leave."


  Fuck me, she's stubborn.

  She folds her arms, and it pushes her leather-clad breasts out. "Why're you so precious about a stupid river beach? You don't even have proper sand."

  I want to laugh, but I catch myself. Who the hell is she? "I'm not worried you'll fall in love with it and bring the tourists with you, Bella."

  "Hmm," she murmurs, stepping forward and tilting her head. "What are you worried about then? Why is my presence making you go a tad crazy?"

  I don't know.

  "You think I'm crazy?"

  "Well, I'm certainly not putting money on your sanity."

  "Bella, leave."

  "Weird Dude, no."

  "Have it your way, but don't say I didn't warn you."

  "Warn me about what? The tide going to come in soon?"

  Oh, for fuck's sake!

  She's so infuriating that I want to smash her head against the rocks and shag her over the bonnet of my car at the same time.

  "Warn me about what, Weird Dude?"

  "Rocco!" I snap.

  Fuck, I gave her my name.

  "Huh? Who's Rocco, and why do I need to watch out for him?"

  Is she serious?

  "I'm Rocco. Stop calling me Weird Dude. Please."

  "See? Isn't it nice when we get along, Rocco? So," she says, stepping around me so that I have to turn my body to watch her, "what exactly are you warning me about?"

  "Where the hell have you really wandered in from?" I ask.

  She makes me feel drunk.

  "I told you the truth, Rocco. Perhaps you could extend that courtesy to me. You're warning me about something. Why?"

  "Because this isn't the place for girls like you."

  "You don't know the first thing about me."

  "No? You're not some bored teen, looking for excitement?"

  "Excitement?" she seethes.

  And I know I've guessed wrong.

  "You're fucking clueless, so back off. I don't need anyone looking out for me, so go back to your party or whatever the hell this is, and leave me alone."

  She spins on her heel and marches off. At least she's gone.

  Or not.

  She gets about six feet away and then stops. Turning around, her eyes are firing bullets at me.

  "Forget something?" I ask.

  "Yes, actually," she replies, stomping back. "You're a prick. I really fucking hate it when people assume things about me. I'm not some perfect, privileged princess, like you seem to think. Stop judging people who you know sod all about!"

  Man, I've really worked her up. It's hot. Her pretty hazel eyes are alight. This is clearly something that pushes her buttons, and I want to do it over and over again.

  "Please accept my humble apology," I say with a bow.

  She glares again. "You've got to be the most annoying person on the planet."

  "I was going to say that about you," I reply.

  Why does she rub me the wrong way?

  She's just a stupid little girl who, despite what she says/shouts, doesn't have a clue about the real world.

  Still, I'd love it if she started rubbing me the right way.

  Lightly shaking her head, she closes her eyes. "I'm over this. See you around, Rocco."

  "Good luck with whatever you're searching for, Isabella."

  She gulps, and for the first time, I s
ee a glimmer of weakness and pain. I don't want to let her walk away. I'd be lying if I said she didn't intrigue me. Her attitude is hot, and I can tell it'd be fun to be around her, but it's a bad, bad idea. I'm the fucking one who's bored, and I really don't need some girl I have no business being attracted to keeping me occupied.

  "Good luck getting out of here," she replies before walking away.

  It's like she sees right through the bullshit. No one is dumb enough to think you'd stay in a place like this by choice. I didn't know I was so transparent when it came to how much I wanted out. But there have to be bad places for there to be good places. It's luck, which one you're born into.

  Isabella's good. Rocco's bad.

  Mixing those two would be chaos and would never end well.

  I watch her until she's out of sight, and I turn around, hearing someone approach. My hearing's good; it has to be. There's always someone waiting to rush you and steal the nothing you've got.

  "Who was that?" Ellis asks.

  I've known Ellis since I was two, and I trust him more than anyone else. He has light-blond hair cut short, a square jaw, and dark green eyes. I don't think he would go out of his way to help me out, but we have each other's backs because that's what you're supposed to do. To survive in this place, we have to be more than one person, but it's all about honour. It doesn't look good if you don't watch out for your own.

  "I dunno. Some girl got lost."

  "She's smokin', man. You're not tapping that?"

  "I'm good." I'm not. Her sassy attitude has got me all hot and hard, but I'm not about to act upon the urge to go pick her up. Plus, I'm certain she'd tell me to piss off.

  "Damn. You calling dibs, or can I take a crack at it if I see her around?"

  "If anyone's getting in there, it'll be me."

  "Fine. You always see the fittest ones first."

  "That's because you're always more concerned with getting drunk," I say, nodding to the JD in his hand.

  "I can do two things at the same time, brother."

  "Lucky women."

  "They are fucking lucky. I'm hung like a donkey."

  "I need a drink," I say, heading to the beer cooler.

  Faith, one of the older members of the group and the mother hen, always keeps us boys stocked with beer. It's her thing. That, and looking out for the young teens wandering the streets.

  "You're not following Belle?"

  I stop and turn around. Ellis lifts his eyebrows and points over his shoulder with his thumb. He knows her name. He knows it wrong, but he still knows it.

  "Do you know her?"

  "Shit," he says, laughing. "Her name's really Belle?"

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