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Pretty Faces and Dark Places, page 1

 

Pretty Faces and Dark Places
 


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Pretty Faces and Dark Places


  Pretty Faces and Dark Places

  by Rose B. Mashal

  Winner of a Halloween Contest Hosted by Cool Beans Publishing House. Now extended.

  Copyright © 2015 by Rose B. Mashal

  All rights reserved.

  This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Editors

  Susan Willeat

  Lisa Marie Salyers

  When Maya finally decides to go to a party in the woods with her best friend on a dark Halloween night, she didn’t imagine she was heading down the road of no return.

  With her heart filled with love and her spirit shielded with pureness, she entered the underworld, facing what she never thought existed, and living with creatures she knew only lived in legends.

  With his heart made of pure hate and his soul stained with evilness, Andrew fell in love with the last girl he should fall in love with.

  Together, they try to make their love survive – because forbidden love is the most kind of love that needs fighting for.

  To Ann May, I wrote it only because of you. I love you more than I can ever say.

  Title

  Copyright

  Summary

  Dedication

  Table of Contents

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  About the Author

  Acknowledgments

  Always trust your first gut instincts, they say. If you genuinely feel in your heart and soul that something is wrong, it usually is. A lesson that life taught me. The very hard way. But sometimes, it just wasn’t that easy to listen.

  I always believed in following those niggling feelings you get when you’re exposed to something new to you. Where you would find the options, know them and understand them, knowing deep inside that there is only one option that you should follow.

  I wish that I had been able to listen to those niggling feelings that Halloween night, when everything in me told me not to go along with it, to stop it as soon as it started, to go back and just let it go. Because not a day has passed since then where I didn’t ask myself ‘What if...?’ and wonder if the horrible things that happened that night would still have happened if I had only gone with my gut and hadn’t gone there.

  Halloween 2013

  Giving up wasn’t something that she could do. Her favorite saying was, ‘If I want something, I get it.’ And get it she did. She had a strong, powerful talent in convincing people of whatever she wanted them to be convinced of. It was crazy. Almost like magic. Crazy magic.

  “May, please?” Sophie begged. “It’s going to be fun, I promise.”

  “I don’t like parties, you know I don’t,” I said, throwing myself back on my bed and rubbing my temple with my thumb and pointer-finger. My best friend’s pleas were giving me a headache. A horrible one.

  “I know, but this one is different. It’s not a bunch of hormonal teenagers who just want to get laid–they’re college boys, dude!”

  “Sophie, it’s a Halloween party! Costumes and stuff! That’s even worse!” I complained. The last thing I wanted do was to go to a crowded house, where the smell of alcohol mixed with sweat and puke was everywhere, while wearing a stupid costume that made me all itchy–and probably look like a prostitute. Oh no, thank you very much.

  “We’ll keep it low key, just bunny ears and a little tail?” Sophie tried.

  “No way!” Freaking bunny.

  “Hmm…devil horns and a red tail?”

  “What’s up with you and tails? Forget it, Sophie, I’m not going.”

  “Oh, wait!” She jumped off of the bed excitedly and ran to my closet. I groaned. She stayed in there for a good five minutes digging for God only knows what, then came out sporting a huge grin.

  “Ta-da!” she sang.

  I sat up on my elbows and took one look at what she held in her hands. “Not gonna happen!”

  “Oh, c’mon! Please!”

  “I haven’t worn those for like two hundred years–I was a kid.”

  “You were fourteen!” she corrected. “And we celebrated your eighteenth birthday last week, remember? It wasn’t one hundred and ninety-six years ago.”

  “I wouldn’t know anyone. I’ll be bored out of my mind!” I tried one more time.

  “You’ll know me!” she protested with a pout, then she did this thing with her head that she’s always used as her trump card where she tilts it to the side and shoots me those puppy-dog eyes, and BANG, I’m a goner.

  I sighed. She squealed...because she just won.

  “Now, c’mon, let’s go down and have breakfast.”

  A ball of energy, that’s what the sister I never had was. She was always full of life, always excited about everything. She was the kind of girl who threw smiles all around and stopped to play with a little puppy or a kitten. She was the one who went out of her way to give a homeless person her lunch on her way to school. She was the girl everyone fell in love with: boys wanted her and girls wanted to be her. And she had been my best friend for as long as I could remember.

  “Good morning, girls!” my grandmother greeted us when we entered the kitchen.

  “Mornin’, Nana,” we both said in unison.

  “I made pancakes!” Nana said with a big grin on her face, her pearly white teeth–they were all hers, she’d always said to everyone and anyone on any occasion–were almost competing with the whiteness of her straight locks that played with the tops of her shoulders as she moved around.

  “Uh-” I said.

  “Thank you, Nana, you spoil us too much!” Sophie kissed her on the cheek.

  “It’s my pleasure, Sweetheart. I’ll be in the greenhouse if you girls need anything.”

  I watched my granny as she made her way out of the kitchen and right at that second I felt pain in my shoulder as Sophie gave me quite a hard punch.

  “Ouch!” I whined. “What the hell did you do that for?”

  “You were rude to Nana!” she scowled.

  “No, I wasn’t!” I said. “I was just going to tell her that you hate pancakes is all.” My Nana tended to forget lots of things lately. Lots. And I had no idea if it was because she missed my grandfather–God rest his soul–dearly or not. Like, was she always thinking about him so there was no room to remember other things; or was it much more than just grieving emotions? After all, I was surprised that Nana survived and bore a life without him at all. Their love was out of this world. Almost like the love that my parents shared one day. Almost. But not really. My parents’ love was much stronger. I knew it was.

  “See? That’s rude.” Sophie insisted.

  “I didn’t say anything!”

  “But you were going to.”

  “Shut up, Sophie.”

  She shook her head and stood up, opening the fridge and taking out the milk then turning to pick up the box of cereal. I shot her a knowing look and she stuck her tongue out at me like a little kid. I rolled my eyes, smiling.

  We were halfway through our breakfast when Sophie spoke, “Mom called while you were sleeping.”
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br />   “Yeah? What did she want?” I asked, taking a forkful of my pancakes.

  “The usual: ‘You’re never home.’ and ‘Are you ever going to have breakfast with us?’ mixed with some ‘Your dad misses you, too,’“ she sighed.

  “Ugh! You’d think she’d be used to it by now.”

  “Right?” Sophie giggled and I smiled, shaking my head.

  Years ago, my best friend used to spend the weekends with me at my house. I would’ve gone to hers but her brother Jack, who was two years younger than us, was always playing pranks. We were his main victims for however long I’d spend there, so eventually I stopped visiting for that reason–well, as long as he was there. But then, as the years passed, and he matured the tiniest bit, my Nana–my very old-fashioned Nana–wouldn’t let me spend the night there because she believed that no girl should spend the night under the same roof as a teenage boy.

  Sleepovers turned from weekends into weekdays, and then Sophie would spend the majority of the week at my house, only going to her house to change, just to please her parents. And let me tell you, they weren’t very pleased...but that was Sophie for you. She could convince you that the Red Sea was made of soda and pigs had wings. She was that good.

  Anyone looking at us from a distance would think that we could never be related–which was true. She was short, I was tall; she had blonde hair while mine was pitch black. The only features we shared were a slim body, bright blue eyes and fair skin. But once they got to know us, they’d always wonder if we were sisters. We were inseparable. We finished each other’s sentences; some people found it cute, others found it annoying, but that was us. We lived in each other’s pockets.

  It was past nine when we – Nana, Sophie and I—left Sophie’s house. We had dinner with her parents and brother, who by the way, put salt in my soup which made me cough like a long-term smoker. It earned him a slap to the back of his head from his dad.

  We did that a lot, every chance we got, along with every holiday. That night though our plan was to go back home with Nana and pretend that we’d called it a night and that we were heading to bed–which we did. And as expected, Nana was out cold not half an hour later. We knew she wouldn’t be up until nine in the morning, thanks to her sleeping pills.

  Since we were still dressed, we only freshened up. I straightened my short, white strapless chiffon dress and traded my heels for my favorite high top Converse, because there was no way I was going to wear those heels to a Halloween party. I put on the white wings Sophie had taken out of the closet earlier and applied light pink lip-gloss–and that was pretty much it. Sophie, on the other hand, exchanged her sneakers for red pumps that both matched the color of her lip-gloss and looked great with her ripped skinny jeans and blue blouse. Her Halloween costume was nothing but Minnie Mouse ears.

  “No tail?” I faked shock, mouth and eyes wide open and all.

  “Shut up!” She playfully punched my shoulder and we both giggled.

  On the ride to the party, Sophie wouldn’t stop talking about how excited she was. I wouldn’t stop worrying. I didn’t like the fact that we were going to that party, partly because we’d snuck out. But Nana was very strict with me, setting my curfew at eight PM–ten PM on holidays and weekends. Can you believe that? Yeah, I snuck out with Sophie a lot, but not usually for parties, just to go hang out somewhere other than the house.

  The other part was because of where the party was: in the woods. And they were creepy woods, at that. Woods that no one visited, but–according to Sophie–it was a cool idea to have the party there. It was a Halloween party after all and it was supposed to be creepy.

  Whatever!

  My best friend had been going on and on for the past year about the party she’d attended last Halloween in the very same woods. I wasn’t with her, only because Nana wouldn’t let me go and I couldn’t sneak out that night, and it had ended badly. There was an earthquake–something that happened quiet often around here–and it was just…awful. Sophie believed that she’d met the love of her life there, and if it wasn’t for what happened with everyone losing each other because of the dark and the running away, she would’ve been married to him by now. Her words, not mine.

  Said love-of-her-life didn’t live in our town and they didn’t get the chance to exchange phone numbers. The only thing she knew about him that could lead her back to him was that he always came to the woods on Halloween each year to join the party. It was like a tradition for his family for many years, or something like that, so Sophie was here for him more than anything else.

  “Do you really think he’ll be there?” I asked her, chewing on my bottom lip, a little afraid of her reaction to my doubts or if my words would upset her.

  “I know he’ll be there,” she replied without hesitation.

  “He might n–” I tried preparing her for the fact that he might not come or that they might not meet again, afraid that she would be seriously broken if he really didn’t show up for whatever reason, but she interrupted me. “I know he’ll be there,” she said again, all so sure.

  I sighed and said nothing, wishing with all of my heart that he’d really show up. I only wanted her to be happy. Her happiness meant mine; I loved her that much. And more.

  I was surprised, to say the least, when Sophie stopped the car. It was really dark, the moon was barely visible, and it seemed as if the stars were too shy to show. And...there were no lights anywhere nearby.

  Surely she wasn’t thinking we would hop out of the car anytime– or anywhere– soon, was she?

  “Why did you stop?” I asked, feeling a bit off. Okay – a little more than a bit off, to be honest.

  “We’re here,” she said, smiling widely, then got out of the car. “C’mon, let’s go.”

  “Sophie! We’re in the middle of nowhere!” My eyes were wide open and my tone was disbelieving.

  “We can’t take the car any further. There are no roads to take us to where the party is; we have to walk the rest of the way.” She explained as if it was the easiest thing to do on earth.

  “Ugh! Unbelievable,” I exclaimed as I left the car, pushing the door closed.

  Sophie took her cellphone out of her purse and tried to find the way with the little light that the screen provided. It was ridiculous. Just ridiculous.

  “How do you know the way?” I asked, frustrated and annoyed. There were no cars where we’d parked Sophie’s. There was no light, and there was no sound aside from the crunching leaves under our feet. There was just nothing. “How do you even know it’s the right place?”

  “I was here last year, May. Don’t worry, we’re almost there.”

  Her words didn’t do anything to ease the feeling I had in my gut. It felt wrong, just wrong, so wrong. Everything around me screamed, ‘WRONG.’ The place was creepy and it was very quiet, very dark, and kind of cold – which alone was strange in itself, for our small town was always hot for most of the year, if not all.

  A bird or something flew from one tree to another, causing me to scream in fear at the sound of the leaves moving against each other. I gripped Sophie’s arm tightly and looked all around in fear.

  Sophie just laughed. She was so lame sometimes, I swear.

  “This doesn’t feel right. Sophie, I want to go back!”

  “C’mon, May, don’t be such a baby. Look, we’re almost there.” She pointed to the darkness. I looked to where she was pointing and didn’t see anything at first, but with a bit concentrating I could see the faint sign of light … fire?

  After some more walking and some more complaining from my side to Sophie, I could see clearly that it was a campfire. What kind of party is this? Barbeque? I thought to myself. Lots of the people there looked … I don’t know, it was just – they looked strange. There weren’t many people there, no more than forty or fifty, maximum. Many of them weren’t wearing a costume, just a suit or a tux. The feeling of how wrong it was to be in that place hit me hard in the chest again. I tightened my grip on Sophie’s arm while my oth
er hand tightened on my purse where my pepper spray was, ready and waiting to be used. Fear crept into my heart more with every passing second and every newly taken step.

  I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t. I found myself chanting in my head. But then I thought, the things you do for those you love … and the thought was enough to make me go on.

  I sighed and decided to just keep going and try to enjoy myself. It was for Sophie, after all, and I’d do anything for her – there was no question. Maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I thought it would be, right? I hoped so.

  By the time I had finished the beer I drank only in an attempt to wash down the terrible feeling I had in my gut, Sophie had scanned the entire place and everyone at the party searching for the guy she’d come here to meet – more than one time. The worry I had for her increased by the second as I saw her smile fall just a bit more with every new face in the crowd that wasn’t that certain face she was looking for. I was afraid of her reaction if we eventually went home without finding him, but I had no idea what I should do. I just stood there awkwardly, swaying a little to the music playing in the background – though I had no idea where it was coming from – and chatting with Sophie in the hopes of distracting her, but it was useless, she was barely able to keep up with the conversations we had. I ended up disappointed because she wouldn’t stop looking for him, of course.

  “Sophia!” I heard a male voice gasping the name loudly from somewhere behind me.

  We both turned around to see the source of the voice, only to be met by a guy that appeared to be in his early twenties. He had brown hair and – though I couldn’t say for sure what the exact color was – I could tell that his eyes were light colored. Given the squeal that Sophie let out right in my ear and how she shamelessly ran the few steps that separated them then threw herself into the guy’s arms, I was able to tell that he was ‘The One.’

  I watched them as they kissed and hugged, listening to a whole lot of ‘I knew you’d be here,’ and ‘I knew you’d come back for me,’ along with some ‘I was counting the days,’ plus some ‘You found me,’ until my face hurt from smiling so much. Eventually I got so bored from watching the whole display in front of me that I almost yawned. I turned toward the party, seeing some girls as they made fools of themselves playing some drinking games while boys cheered loudly for them.

 
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