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Bright fall air trickles in through the ornate glass window. The warm house is filled with stale air. It was Saturday morning so there was no need to rush. A fully rested Leighton Collins sat still in her bed. Despite the cold weather outside, Leighton slept in nothing more than a sports bra and cloth boy shorts. Slowly, she crawled from the warmth of her covers and made her way into the bathroom. Staring at her reflection in the mirror, Leighton couldn’t help but admire her tight body and rock hard abs. Her tan skin and green eyes looked crisp, despite having woken up in the early morning.
“You are way too into yourself.” Snapping her head around Leighton was face to face with her identical twin sister, Gayle.
Seeing her sister admire herself disgusted Gayle. Nearly every morning she stumbled upon the same scene, her sister fawning over her own reflection.
Leighton just looked back to the mirror. The rest of the morning was spent getting ready in silence. Gayle gathered her long brown hair into a loose ponytail and sighed.
“This is as good as it’s gonna get.” She said absentmindedly.
Seeing her sister’s lack of self-esteem always made Leighton feel a smidge bad, after all, she was beautiful even if she couldn’t see it.
“Try a little mascara and blush, that’s sure to do the trick.” Judging by the totally confused look in Gayle’s eyes, Leighton had to intervene, “here let me help you.”
In a matter of minutes Gayle was totally transformed. Her eyelashes curled to perfection and a subtle rosy cheek helped make her look gorgeous.
“Okay, you look hot!” Leighton was quite pleased with her handiwork.
“Really you think so?” Gayle said, looking down at the ground.
“OMG yes.” And then out of the blue, Leighton felt the need to take this glam sesh up a notch, “I know it’s not your scene, but there’s a party at Cameron’s tonight and I really think you should come, I heard it’s gonna be a crazy night.”
“I don’t know,” Gayle shifted uncomfortably, “I mean, are you sure I don’t look stupid?”
“No twin of mine could ever look stupid.” Leighton said with a wink.
* * * *
Oliver sat on the ground, pondering his options. How did he get to this place in his life? Handsome kid, good grades, soccer player, he had it all. That is until his father lost his job and had to down grade their life style. Before he even knew what happened, Oliver found himself living on the streets; alone. He hadn’t heard from any of his family in nearly two months. Now, he had no time for the soccer team or good grades. He was disgusted with the work he did now, just to earn a little money.
This job he was doing…it was horrible. He was hired to bring young beautiful women into a dark, secluded area and then leave them. From there, they were killed, their bodies hidden, and their location was then given to the mastermind who called in to a tip line and received huge rewards. Oliver desperately wanted to stop, but this was the only way to earn cash. After all, all he was good for was a bunch of broken memories, and not even a diploma to show for it. He was desperate, and that was how he tried to justify his actions…after all, he wasn’t killing anyone, was he?
* * * *
“I did it.” Oliver said, faking some kind of sick satisfaction.
His employer seemed to buy it, “Good did anyone see you?”
“I don’t think so, it was behind a church.”
His employer seemed impressed, “Good, good and the evidence?”
“Gone, behind the dumpster, never to be seen again.” Oliver’s heart filling with suppressed despair at the thought of the poor girl.
His employer seemed proud, “Great work. I have another job for you in California, are you up to it?”
“It would be my pleasure,” the greatest lie of all.
* * * *
The California air remained warm, despite the October night. Cameron’s party was in full swing by the time Leighton and Gayle arrived. What Leighton had described as a crazy party turned out to be a small gathering of roughly thirty people, none of which were Gayle’s biggest fans. As soon as Leighton opened her car door, she was flocked by all of her closest friends. Feeling awkward, Gayle exited the blue Hyundai and went to grab herself a drink. Opening up a can of Bud light, she settled into a white wicker chair. The location was beautiful, that part Leighton hadn’t exaggerated. 340 Kanan Dume Rd, Malibu, California. This street was the place to live. Living in this zip code opened up all kinds of doors for a kid. The three bedroom cottage sat overlooking the pacific ocean, the orange sunset gleaming off the water. Swept up in the view, Gayle didn’t even notice a handsome young man staring at her from across the patio. After about twenty minutes, she finally made eye contact with the stranger. When their eyes first met, she looked down quickly. After a few seconds of staring at nothing she gradually turned her focus back onto the peculiar boy. Once again their gazes met. Hot blood pooled in her cheeks, embarrassed by this guy who she didn’t even know.
* * * *
To Oliver’s dismay, his plan was working perfectly as usual. This girl was already falling for him, he could see it. He was unusually perceptive and was good at making people feel special, plus for tonight, he had done a little research on his target. He had seen her at school, followed her in the halls, and asked around the quad. And now, from across the patio, phase one was already in motion. This girl was blushing and he hadn’t even said one word. This was going to be easier than he had anticipated.
* * * *
“Oh no, here he comes,” Gayle thought to herself as the staring boy slowly made his way towards her. Looking at her Bud light, she quickly chugged the rest of it. To handle this night she was going to need a little liquid courage.
“What’s a beautiful girl like you doing sitting all alone?” Oliver asked, turning up the charm, “you’re Leighton Collins, right?” Uh-oh, don’t sound like a stalker. “I mean, it’s just I’ve seen you on campus and I never had the chance to talk to you.”
Gayle’s heart fell. Of course this amazingly hot guy was only interested in her because he thought she was Leighton. He obviously didn’t know they were twins. Mistaken identity, it happened to her all the time. Only tonight was different.
“Yes, that’s me, it’s not creepy, I’m flattered, really.”
“Okay nice, and I’m Oliver by the way.”
Oliver, he was sweet. So instead of feeling sorry for herself, Gayle decided to embrace this situation. So what he thought her name was Leighton, he could still like her for her. For the next hour, Gayle surprised herself by being confident and interesting, asking questions, laughing, and even flirting a little.
“I don’t mean to sound too forward, but do you want to get out of here? I mean it’s kind of loud and we could talk better in a private place.”
Gayle took in a shallow breath. No boy had ever asked her to leave a party with him.
“Yeah sure.” She tried to sound nonchalant and like this questioned hadn’t totally freaked her out. While he got his car, Gayle sent a text message to her sister:
went home with hot guy. Make-up worked wonders! cover for me?? Xox gayle.
Ten seconds later, there was a vibration in her pocket,
GO GET ‘EM TIGER!!!!!! MAKE ME PROUD- LEIGHTON
This brought a smile to Gayle’s face, her sister finally approved of a decision she was making, and she wouldn’t let her down.
In the car, Gayle felt uneasy. She was lying to this perfectly nice guy who seemed genuinely interested in her… except it was all a lie. Why didn’t she just tell him the truth and let Oliver decide if he wanted to go home with Gayle, not Leighton.
“Oliver, I have a confession. This whole time you’ve thought I was Leighton. Well the truth is, I’m not. My name’s Gayle and I’m her twin sister. I’m sorry that I’ve been lying to you but I just wanted you to like me. I wasn’t used to all the attention and I wanted you to think I was as popular and cool as she is. But everything I was saying was true.”
* * * *
Oliver felt a panic rise in his chest. This girl wasn’t like the others he had brought “home.” She trusted him enough to show a crack of insecurity, and by the way the evening had gone he could tell she wasn’t used to the attention. It was different with Gayle because she was letting him know a shred of her personal life, and wasn’t just some random wasted girl he’d picked up off the street. His job was easier when the talk was kept to a minimum, he knew way too much now. She had a twin, she was insecure she played tennis, and loved to read. It was time he made a decision. The money definitely wasn’t worth the guilt. But he was a selfish man. All he ever thought about was himself. What about the daughters he had taken away from their families? Sure, he hadn’t technically killed anyone, but he had brought girl’s into the waiting arms certain death.
* * * *
“Here we are.” Oliver said.
“Oh, isn’t this…nice.”
“I think the word you meant was s***-hole, but nice works too.”
Gayle laughed out loud. The small cottage was not what she expected. It had gray, chipping paint, a short, two-story frame and a red crooked door. Weeds were over growing the front yard and the porch light was cracked and faint.
“It’s not much, but its home.” That was a lie.
“Do you live here alone?”
“Yes, but my family’s gone to the city for the weekend.” That was a lie.
“Ohh so you have it all to yourself?”
Lies…All of it.
Once inside the dusty foyer, Oliver led Gayle up the small rickety stair case.
“Go on without me, I’m gonna go grab us some refreshments.”
Oliver kissed her full on the lips to show his sincerity. He held it for a few seconds, lulling her into a false sense of security.
“I’ll be waiting.” Gayle whispered in a slightly higher pitch, blood rising again in her cheeks.
Oliver slowly descended the stairs as Gayle’s light footsteps continued up. He went into the kitchen and clanked some cups together. All of a sudden, something ignited within him. Oliver sprinted from the dingy kitchen up the stairs. “GAYLE!” He screamed. Adrenalin was now pumping through his system. If he let something happen to Gayle then he wouldn’t be able to live with himself. Finally at the top of the stairs, Oliver burst through the only door. Laying on the bed was Gayle, bound and gagged. Her green eyes filled with fear. In the corner were two huge men, each resembling gorillas, sweating. One had a bloody nose, the other, a knife.
“This is a misunderstanding; I didn’t mean to bring her here.” Oliver pleaded, panting as the words spilled out.
“You know damn well this ain’t no misunderstanding. When we met last at the church, you definitely was talkin’ ‘bout some little s*** cottage on the coast, ain’t that right Tony! This girl is ours to finish, you can get the hell out of here.” The bloody gorilla spit out.
Seeing the panic in Oliver’s face the second gorilla, Tony, chimed in.
“Well what do we have here lover boy? Is this your girlfriend or something?” His beady little eyes grew wide, “she is quite a catch, I’ll tell you that.” This time the disgusting figure walked toward Gayle. Grubby fingers outstretched, he began running his hands up and down her body. Muffled screams managed to escape Gayle as she struggled to defend herself. Managing a kick to his fingers, Tony screamed.
“Is that the way you want to play it? Little b****!” He voice filled with rage.
Tony proceeded to make a deep jagged cut along Gayle’s upper thigh. This time screams of utter anguish escaped her lips. Blood seeped through her indigo jeans and began traveling in every direction.
“You like that?” The ruthless hit man snickered, pressing his fingers hard against the laceration. The pain so intense, it put Gayle on the brink of unconsciousness.
“Get your hands off of her!” Oliver yelled clawing his way toward the man. An epic battle ensued. Oliver kicked him in the groin as hard as he could, causing Tony to let go of Gayle. He then went to punch Tony in the nose but was too slow. Tony had recovered quickly and managed to catch Oliver’s hand. With his arm back at breaking point, Oliver let out a groan of torture.
“You and your girlfriend scream just alike. You know, I don’t think the boss would mind one bit if he had to kill you too. He’d probably appreciate not having to deal with a little b**** like you.”
With that, Tony pushed Oliver onto the bed, crushing his already broken arm. As Tony went to retrieve the knife, Oliver stared straight into Gayle’s hazy green eyes. Despite her intense pain, she remained awake. In his final moments, Oliver uttered his three important words.
“I’m so sorry.”
He deserved what was he was getting. He had led to countless murders and had now led the one person he actually cared about to her death.
Gayle knew what came next, and now, she didn’t even care; as long as this pain would finally end. Looking into Oliver’s hazel eyes, she felt no resentment. Even though she was petrified, Gayle was glad that Oliver had chosen her instead of her sister, for she couldn’t live without Leighton by her side. This was the way things were meant to be. He had brought her here, that much was true, but he had also tried to save her, which now led to his impending death as well. Tony had retrieved his knife and was now picking his first victim. Mustering her last word, she whispered:
“I forgive you Oliver.”
Then the world went black.