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There Can Only Be One. (Chapter One only)
Author's note: I'm just one of those writers who writes what she wishes will happen to her. I would kill to be Bell. :D
“There is no way that I want to go. No seriously, I'd rather get hit by a car!” I grinned at the thought of her eyes rolling as I waited at the by the busy road, tapping my foot in time with the beeps of the green man light, phone still glued to my ear.
“Yeah right, they're not that bad,” Her voice had a smile in it.
“Trust me, old people are the biggest pains you can get. One of them threw their teeth at me! Have you ever had someone throw their teeth at you?”
She cracked up laughing; causing me to pull the mobile away from my ear for a second, until her hysterics died down.
“I mean it, Suse, the guy chucked his slobber covered teeth at me!”
The man flashed green and I stepped onto the road.
“You're such a wimp Bells.”
“Oh! Well excuse me for being scared of mentally challenged, mummified old prunes that like throwing things.” I couldn't help but giggle at her hysterical laughter. Someone's car horn honked me and I looked up to the left, realising I was in the middle of the road on a now red man. Oops.
“Sorry!” I mouthed at them, starting to jog away.
With a jolt I lurched forward, tumbling to the ground. Pain erupted through my foot, spreading across my ankle.
“Bells? You there, babe?” Susie's voice came ringing through my phone, which had clattered a few feet away from me.
“Susie, help me, my foot's stuck and I'm on the middle of the road!” I looked up at the huge, intimidating car bonnets, then down at their fat, heavy tyres. My heart started to pound.
“What if someone doesn't see me? What if I get run over? Susie, what do I do!?” I tried to yank my foot out of the small pothole dented in the tarmac. It was wedged in, facing at a weird angle that I knew I couldn't untwist. Someone must have seen me fall, they'd all been beeping me - but no one had jumped out to help yet. What if they hadn't seen me?
I started to yell. “Hey! Help, I’m stuck!” I glanced across the road, wishing that there was someone there that would hear me – but this was a country town, no one was out at eight in the morning and anyone who was would’ve been in a car, probably one of the ones about to run me over.
“Bells! What should I do? Should I call the police? Your mum? The ambulance?” Susie's voice was cracking.
“I'm not dead yet!” I screamed at the phone, panic making my heart race. “I'm gonna die with my foot stuck in a fricken pothole!” My brown hair was falling across my face and I flipped it away angrily, still jerking my leg in attempt to get it out despite the pain that it caused. My ankle was swelling up, making it even harder to pull out. How it had managed to wedge itself in there was a mystery alone.
The cars started to rumble as the traffic lights ticked from red turned green.
“The cars are starting. Susie, the cars are going to run me over!” I shrieked, pulling harder.
Suddenly, a high-pitched screech erupted from behind me and I twisted my head around in shock to see where it had come from. A thin, but very sturdy - and very quickly spinning - tyre was hurdling towards me, directed straight towards my face. My eyes widened before I squeezed them shut, heart hammering inside my chest as I prepared myself for the impact.
It never came.
I opened my eyes again and stared in awe at the sleek, black motorbike that lay on the ground in front of me.
“What…?” I muttered, releasing the breath I hadn’t even realised I was holding. Something warm touched my ankle and I jerked around in surprise, lashing my hand out. It smacked hard across someone's face and I sucked in a harsh breath, face flushing red.
“Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry.” I apologised to the strange man that was crouched in front of me. He rubbed the spot where I had hit him briefly, sending me an amused look before returning to my foot. I studied him in fright and shock.
He had an almost baldhead, speckled with black hair, and honey golden eyes that flickered back and forth as he tried to think up a way to get my foot out. He was muscular, wearing a protective leather motorbike jacket along with black jeans.
With a swift movement of his big hands, my foot was out. It seared with pain and I scrunched my eyes closed, holding back a groan.
“Are you okay?” He asked me quietly, voice deep.
It was only then that I noticed the cars had stopped rumbling.
I kept my eyes closed, the pain excruciating. Susie's crackly voice was screaming at me through my phone, still lying a metre away.
“Bells? Are you okay? Who's with you? Is your foot out? Just stay still and stop moving! Bells? Talk to me babe! Are you there? Oh my gosh, you're dead! You're dead, you're dead, and it’s all my fault, what-”
“She’s fine, she's out of the pothole, but I think she's about to faint.” The middle aged man said loudly, directing his voice at my silver mobile. Her screaming cut short.
“W-who is this? Is Bells okay?”
I let out a small, pained sound and lay my head down on the concrete road, closing my eyes in the process. My head was pounding and the only thing I could hear was the man’s deep voice telling Susie to call my mum.
“Crap, my foot,” I blinked heavily, then winced. I attempted to pull myself into an upright position, moving too quickly for my own good. One of my legs slipped off the couch I had been lying on, and before I knew it, the rest of my body had followed.
I landed with a huff, my ankle burning up despite the icepack that was on it. Confused, I stared around the unfamiliar room, trying to place exactly where it was that I had been taken.
The room was light and open, with large glass doors that led out to a veranda, then followed by wheat fields. There were two brown couches, each with a cream-coloured, hand-knitted blanket draped over it, and an old TV sitting in front of me, glossy and wide-screened.
“Where am I?” I whispered, thinking back to the street, the pothole, the panic… and the man that'd helped me.
Someone walked into the room carrying a tray of food. I held back a frown as I looked over at him - it was the same man. He looked down at me in surprise, a smile on his face.
“I see you have met the floor.”
I grinned sheepishly, the frown disappearing. It was so like me to fall over, even when I was sitting down I could manage it.
“Yes, the floor and I are very well acquainted,” I patted the pinewood floorboards with a grin. The man laughed.
“Good to know, I wouldn’t want any fights starting. My name's John, and you're Annabelle. You were stuck on the road, your ankle was in a pothole... your mum told me your name.”
“Yeah, I remember. Thanks for helping me out, you saved my life,” I smiled and tried to get up off the ground.
The second my foot touched the solid wood, pain tore through my ankle, buckling my knee and forcing me to sink to the ground. John put down the tray and hurried to my side, helping me onto the couch.
“Sorry, I forgot to tell you, your ankle is twisted. I brought you here and had the local doctor fix it up - I couldn’t take you to a hospital, they’re all too far away, and your mum was at work so we arranged that I’d bring you here. The doctor gave you a local anaesthetic, so you’ve been asleep for most of the day… your mum visited during her lunch hour and we had a chat about transport and stuff. The doctor said that you’d need twenty-four hour supervision and your mum said she works a lot, so you’re going to stay here until you can walk normally again. It should only be around three days, I hope that’s okay.”
“Oh,” I was stumped. I couldn't remember getting into his car. I thought he was on a motorbike.
“Sorry, I have to go back to work. I'll only be outside though, in those fields,” he bobbed his head towards the window. “Just yell for my son if you need any help.”
“Your son? Okay,” I nodded, chewing on my nails subconsciously. “Oh, wait!”
A question popped into my mind as John started to turn away.
“If I need to call him, what do I yell…? John’s son? Young dude that most likely looks like John and happens to share the same genes as him?”
John grinned, shaking his head slightly, making me grin in return. It was a good thing that he could take a joke, seeing as I was supposed to be living with him for the next few days.
“His name's Blake.”
“Ah, I see…” I smiled evilly. “Someone new to annoy.”
John laughed again, nodding and running a hand over his baldhead.
“It would do him good to talk to someone. We only moved here a couple of weeks ago and he's always been home schooled, so it’d do him good to have someone aside from me and his cousin to pester him.”
“If you say so.” I shrugged my shoulders with a wicked grin. I was starting to like John more and more…
I’d been watching a movie John had put on – a Pixar animation – but must’ve fallen asleep because when I opened my eyes it was dark…. as in really dark.
I pulled my hands out of a blanket someone had placed on me, flexing them in front of my face. Nothing. I couldn't see a thing.
Groping around blindly, I gripped the head of the couch, it's solid form giving me a somewhat sense of security.
“Um, hello?” I whispered into the dark. It was supposed to be a call, but hadn’t come out as loud as I had intended. I tried to shift my legs but the left one erupted with prickled pain and I instantly – hesitantly - lowered it back down.
My hands floated around the couch again, trying to find a light switch, a lamp maybe. My fingers brushed against something cold; a glass, once filled with the water I had drunk a few hours ago. Envisioning what I had seen of the room earlier that day, I tried to decipher where the nearest source of light would be. Straight to my left would be the table... and that would mean behind me would be the...
I jerked my hand around to flick on the lamp I knew was behind me, only it collided with something else, something soft, before it could get there.
“Ouch!” A voice grumbled from the dark. I shrieked and pulled my hand into a fist, throwing it toward the sound. Someone caught it mid-punch.
A light flickered on and as my eyes adjusted to the brightness of the room, I found myself staring at a boy in front of me. I blinked a few times, clearing away the fuzziness, before really looking at the boy. It took me less then a second to guess who it was - Blake.
It was obvious he was John's son; he had the exact same melted honey eyes. But his hair was a deep brown, flipped across his slightly tanned face. His jaw line was prominent, strong, and a warm hand was holding my fist in front of him. I yanked my arm away as soon as I realised it was him holding it there.
“Aren't you going to apologise?” I demanded, and his eyebrows shot up in surprise.
What had he been expecting, me to swoon and dive into his open arms? Nope, sorry, but I don't do love at first sight, no matter how cute they were.
“Excuse me?” His voice was rough and oaky. I narrowed my eyes. His voiced matched his eyes -warm and inviting.
“An apology,” I repeated slowly. “Sneaking up on people is called stalking, and it’s not very nice.” He raised his eyebrows with a smirk. “I'm sorry, but this is my house and I can do what I want in it.”
My eyes narrowed as I glared at him, nose scrunching slightly as he stared evenly back.
“So it’s okay to stalk people as long as you’re on property that your family owns? I’ve never seen the Queen of England snooping around in the middle of the night.”
He looked at me in amusement, smirk widening.
“We don’t live in England.”
“Doesn’t mean I’ve never been there.” I retaliated.
Blake snickered triumphantly, moving away from the couch with a small smile.
“I got up to get some milk, not to stalk you.” He wandered away into another room, a pale light following him as he undoubtedly opened the fridge door.
I looked after him in annoyance, frustrated that he had won, before pulling myself into a more comfortable position. My butt had pins and needles and I felt like I’d been in my pyjamas – a tank top and flannel pants printed with purple dogs – for days, even though it’d been less then 12 hours. I wished mum had brought me my dressing gown when she’d brought my pyjamas over, but I wouldn’t have been able to get up anyway, not without help.
When I looked up again, Blake was leaning against the doorframe, drinking straight out of the carton. My nose scrunched up again.
“I'm Annabelle, but most people call me Bell or Bells…” I introduced myself awkwardly, looking down at my blanket. “You're Blake aren't you?”
He wiped his mouth and nodded. His hair was ruffled in a just-got-up sorta way, and much as I didn’t want to admit it, it looked good on him.
“Yeah, I've been in my room all day to catch up with school work. Dad told me you'd call if you needed to…” He frowned slightly, staring at the ground thoughtfully. I cocked my head in confusion… maybe he didn't like to be disturbed while he worked.
“Yep, that’s what he told me to do. I didn’t really want to disturb you though, and I fell asleep pretty quickly.” I fiddled with the corner of the blanket before looking up at Blake and sending him an apologetic smile. “Sorry for trying to hit you before, you caught me off guard.”
Blake grinned, shaking his head. “Don’t worry about it, you didn’t actually hit me, so it’s cool.” He turned back around and walked back into the kitchen, putting the milk back into the fridge before lounging back into the room and ruffling his hair with one hand.
“I’m gonna go back to bed now, but if you need me just shout out, okay? No slaps or punches required.”
I flushed slightly and nodded with a smile, settling back down into the couch. Blake walked past me to turn off the light, and soon everything was dark.
“Why, hello there!” Someone squealed in my ear. My eyes flew open, met with the sight of Susie’s cheerful face.
“Suse!” I squealed, sitting up as fast as I could and hugging her. She hugged me back happily, grinning her head off.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh, just visiting! I had to tell you about this guy at the shops yesterday, you should’ve seen him! You totally would’ve if you came to the Den, but your foot got hurt and all that, so you weren’t there, so now I’m going to have to recount the entire story for you! It’s 100 percent delicious though, I promise! Okay, so, I was walking down the street…” And with that she launched into another one of her stories, one of the stories that always happened to involve a ‘mysterious, cute, never-seen-before’ guy.
Her black, curly hair was bouncing off her shoulders, wide brown eyes jumping with animation. Susie was such a doll. Literally. She was perfect; rosy cheeks, porcelain face, just the right weight, just the right height. She looked like some kind of China collectable.
“Morning,” Blake interrupted, dragging through the room with his eyes half closed. Susie's blabbering cut short as she stared at him, mouth hanging open slightly. I snorted at her expression and Blake sent me a small smile, obviously finding Susie’s reaction amusing too. Without a word, however, he shuffled off into the kitchen, leaving Suse with me.
“Close your gob, silly, you're gonna start drooling.” I pushed her chin up, closing her mouth with a snap. She didn’t even notice.
“Who's he?” Her tawny eyes staring towards the kitchen, despite the fact that she couldn’t see him anymore.
“His name is Blake...” I raised an eyebrow. She must be in ‘cute-boy-O-M-G’ mode.
“Ooh, that's such a hot name...”
“Susie, you do this with every boy that you meet. You flirt with everyone.” I smiled as she shook her head defiantly, finally tearing her eyes from the kitchen to look at me.
“Suse, you flirted with your second-cousin for goodness sake!”
“Yeah, but I didn't know who he was and he led me on!”
“He's seven years older then you.”
“So? What's your point?”
I sighed and stared at her eager face. “My point is that you like every guy that walks past you. You need to take a break! And anyway, what about Devon?”
Devon was her adorable, long-term boyfriend. He loved everything about her, brushing past the fact that she flirted with every male being she met, regardless of their age. He followed her, protected her and loved her to bits. She loved him back, she cared so much about him, but no matter how hard she tried, she always seemed to have mental blanks whenever a guy walked past.
“Still, he is cute,” She giggled. I bowed my head in defeat. She started to flick my toes with her baby-blue nails.
“Look Bells, I only came here on the way to the Den, so I kinda have to go...” She shot me an apologetic look and glanced at her watch, then winced. She was late and being late wasn't something her parents would favour her for.
The Den was a big group of us country kids, going through the process of home schooling in a group. We had Luke, our awesome tutor, who would help us out whenever we needed it, and, of course, we had each other too. It wasn't a school; it was more like a large study group. We still had tests and grades, and we had to work hard to move up a year, just like any other high school student did. It wasn't very different, just slightly more laid back.
I looked up to see Susie half way out the door, smiling at me.
“See ya soon, hey babe?” She stumbled on the foot mat and then grinned across at me stupidly.
“Sure thing,” I laughed at her. She disappeared and I stared at the door after her, wondering what I’d be missing out on at The Den.
“She made you happy,” Blake commented quietly from the kitchen door, spooning cereal into his mouth. I smiled at him absently.
“Yeah, we've been friends since I can remember.”
“Blake… Blaake?” I yelled loudly. It was mid-afternoon and my stomach was rumbling - literally. Blake walked into the room, pulling out his earphones and looking at me curiously.
“I'm a hungry.”
He raised a brown eyebrow. “You're a hungry?”
A grin spread across my face and I nodded enthusiastically. “Please Blake, I can’t get up to get any food, and I’m super hungry. Please, please, please, I'll owe you forever.”
He shook his head with a disbelieving smile and then walked into the kitchen.
“What do you want?” He called. I smiled happily.
“Absolutely anything! Well, that’s with the exception of sprouts, cotton candy, bananas or anchovies. Anything besides those four.”
I could hear him laughing at me, banging around with some plates.
“Hello…” Someone whispered into my ear huskily, their breath hot against my skin.
My eyes widened and I shrieked, twisting my torso around and thwacking my head into someone else’s.
Light blonde hair covered my eyes as I stared at the stranger. With the sudden realisation that I was just centimetres away from his face, I pulled my head as far back as I could.
“You scared the crap out of me!” I glared at the tall boy with as much menace as I could muster, rubbing my forehead. That boy, whoever he was, had a seriously hard head. Emerald green eyes penetrated my every move until I grew hot and frustrated, my neck sore from the awkward position I was in. The guy still hadn’t moved and there was no way I was moving back to where I was.
“Who are you?” I demanded with a frown, hoping that he would move away to answer the question. Lucky for me, he did, a wonderful smile spreading across his smooth face as he did so.
“My name's Julian.” His long, blonde hair was splayed perfectly across his head, tall, muscular body towering over my cramped position on the couch.
“Well, Julian, next time you can say hello from a distance, if you don't mind.”
“Ah, so you feel like we will be meeting again, too?” He flashed another grin at me. I stared at him in disbelief. Who did this guy think he was?
Blake walked in through the large, white doors, took one look at Julian, rolled his eyes and handed me a plate.
“I would have come rushing to your rescue Bells, but I already knew he was her and thought you may as well meet him like every other girl does. This is my cousin Julian. Julian, this is Annabelle.” Julian swooped a bow and Blake shook his head, watching his cousin warily. “Just ignore him.”
I semi-grinned, still recovering from the shock of having been so close to this guy - this guy, who so far had proved himself to be a player, and was most likely a bit of a jerk too.
Julian grabbed my legs gently and twisted me around, plopping down on the spot beside me. My eyebrows shot up in surprise and a small heat grew across my cheeks, not having expected him to touch me.
Sure, there were guys at the Den, but none of which were nice enough to even consider going out with. And they were all shy. Really shy.
So when Julian decided to swing his arm around my shoulders, I flinched back and smacked it off immediately. Blake simply rolled his eyes and sat down on the chair’s arm to my left. I pouted, taking in the situation.
I was squashed.
Between two guys I barely knew.
With a twisted ankle.
“Well, this is weird,” I commented lightly. Blake laughed, Julian mocked a hurt look and I bit into my sandwich.
“Oomn, this is really good.” I quickly took another mouthful, munching the ham and cheese that were melted together inside. Blake smiled.
“So Annabelle, do you live around here?” Julian asked, turning to look at me. I nodded and swallowed my mouthful.
“Yeah, I’ve lived here all of my life. I work on the family farm, go to the Den occasionally…” I shrugged. “Living the life I guess.”
Julian grinned and subtly tried to place his arm back around me as he yawned. I couldn’t help but laugh, never having thought a guy would actually try that on me.
“Not a chance.” I shoved it off again. He narrowed his eyes and scooted closer so that our knees were touching. This I couldn't do anything about, seeing as I was already pressed up against Blake's side.
“Julian,” I looked at him directly, putting on my most serious face. Unfortunately, a small smile was pulling on the corner of my lips, and I was sure he could see it. “I. Am. Not. Interested.”
“Not interested, yet.” He winked. I threw my head back in exasperation, just as John came in through the veranda doors. He was wearing a dirty blue t-shirt and was drenched in sweat.
Blake stood up and away from me instantly, but Julian stayed where he was, grinning at John cheekily.
“Aha. Julian, you're here.” John pulled off his shoes and walked over to clap Julian on the back. “I see you've met Miss Annabelle. Don’t mind him,” John sent me an amused smile, ran his hands over his shirt and then headed off into the kitchen. I raised my eyebrows and caught Blake’s eye, smiling at him over my toastie. This was going to be interesting…
“Wow.” I ran a hand through my hair, leaning against the wall and staring at the night sky. Stars were speckled across the velvety black blanket, the moons light spreading its way across the swaying wheat fields, turning them a beautiful silver colour.
It was amazing.
My farm at home was small and drab, containing only corn.
But this… this was beautiful. I was in awe.
My mum had stopped by with some old crutches for me, so now I could limp around meekly in attempt to get off my butt. Blake kept telling me to rest, but Julian seemed to like watching me stumble, and his arms were always open, ready to catch me. I made sure I always fell towards Blake instead.
Blake and I had hit it off really well, a tight friendship already forming. I’d only known him for one day and half a night, but I was already comfortable around him. I could laugh and tell jokes and be myself… I mean, I was fine with the girls at the Den but I only had one or two guy friends that I could be completely relaxed around – it was great to have found another.
I shook my head, clearing it of my thoughts, before looking back up at the sky.
“Hey there, nightwalker,” Blake slipped out onto the veranda next to me, wearing some pyjama pants and a t-shirt. His hair was ruffled in that same, adorable way. I couldn’t help but stare at him for a second before snapping out of it.
“Hi,” I smiled and turned back to the sky. Blake titled his head back, honey eyes glazing over as he stared upwards.
“It's so hard to believe that something so small is really so big,” His mouth pulled up into a soft smile. “It seems impossible... but it's not.”
“Didn't anyone tell you, nothing is impossible. Not really.” A small smile took over my lips.
Blake turned to look at me with a warm expression. He stared at my eyes, watching them, holding them in a lock so tight that I could hardly breathe. Then it hit me – I was staring at Blake. I blinked and tore my eyes away, hoping that he couldn’t see the blush that had spread across my cheeks.
“Spill it, Sherlock. Why are you staring at me like that?” I hesitantly looked back over at him, glad that he wasn’t staring at me anymore; he was still watching, but not staring.
His arms looked strong, muscular in the moonlight. He looked muscular in the moonlight. It's pale, florescent streaks made every nook of his body stand out even more.
“You know… you're kind of beautiful.” He blurted. Then, eyes widening, he ran a hand through his hair in embarrassment. I was stunned.
I blushed. “Thanks, but I don’t think that’s true.” I murmured, avoiding his eyes.
After realising that I was not going to look back into his heart-melting eyes, he started again. “Look, I know we only just met, but I really-”
“Hey babe,” Julian walked through the back door, interrupting Blake. My eyes flickered to him in annoyance, and then widened.
He had no shirt on.
And he had a six-pack; a perfect, rock solid six-pack. I looked away quickly, but not before he noticed my ogling.
“You like?” He grinned, tall frame walking slowly towards me. Blake narrowed his eyes. It had only just occurred to me that they were both about six feet high. And I was 5”5”.
Julian's beautiful blonde hair looked silver thanks to the moon, and it was entrancing. My eyes simply couldn't leave his face as he walked closer and closer. It only occurred to me that we were less then a foot apart when Blake cleared his throat noisily.
I jumped sharply, then, startled, tried to step away from Julian, resulting in me tumbling down in pain with a short, sharp scream. I was falling over the edge of the wooden veranda and my foot felt like it was being chopped in half with a rusty butchers knife. As the dirt and hay came hurdling towards me, strong arms enclosed around my waist just before I hit earth, swinging me up into a cradle.
“Agh…” I groaned, burying my face in whomever it was’ chest. I didn't care who it was; my foot hurt like frick and it didn't really matter to me who had caught me. I just wanted the pain to go away.
Not a word was spoken, or nothing that I heard anyway, as I was slowly carried back to my couch. This person's arms were strong and warm, their chest hard, yet soft, and I could faintly hear their heart slowly beating inside.
“Thank you,” I whispered, not caring that it was muffled. They would've heard me. My unknown saviour lowered his head and whispered in my ear.
“I couldn't stand it if anything had happened to you,” Julian's breath was warm as it fanned across my face. Then my head sank into a plump pillow and sleep enclosed around me.
“You're such an ass!” Blake's raised voice woke me up with a start. I sat upright slowly, blinking heavily. My head hurt, as did my foot, but it wasn’t as tense as it was before.
“You're the one who started it! All I wanted to do was be nice, so back off, Mr. protective.”
“She doesn't even like you, numskull.”
“Oh, and you think she likes you?” Julian's voice was full of anger, just waiting to boil over.
“If you hadn’t interrupted last night, I could have bloody well found out!” Blake snapped back.
I didn’t even want to know what this was about - all that mattered was that they were fighting, and if anything bad happened John was gonna get mad.
“Blake?” I called out quietly. The yelling stopped short and soon Blake came out of the kitchen with a piece of toast in his hand, followed closely by Julian.
“Good morning?” I attempted a smile. Blake just grumbled something incoherent and took another bite of his toast. Julian, however, grinned at me and came to sit on the couch, right by my feet.
“What’s up, Buttercup?”
I winced at the nickname. “Nu-uh, there is no way in the world you are calling me that.”
Julian winked. “You’re right, it’s cause you’re just so out-of-this-world that I get to call you that.”
I grimaced at his cheesiness. “No.”
“No,” I frowned. Julian grinned and grabbed my hand.
“Alright, I’ll strike a deal with you. I get a kiss and you can choose what you want me to call you. Doesn’t matter what it is, I’ll call you it, unless you ask me not to.” He kissed the back of my hand lightly, which I instantly pulled away.
“Ew, Julian. I’m not going to kiss you, ever.” I scrunched up my nose. “And if you keep calling me weird names I just wont respond, how ‘bout that?”
“I like that idea,” Blake smiled, wiping his hands on his jeans as he finished off his toast. “Come on, Bells, let’s go out to the veranda to see how your walking is.” He held out a hand, a warm, inviting hand. I stared at it curiously.
Was he trying to help me off the couch, or was he trying to hold my hand?
“She doesn't even like you, numskull.”
“Oh, and you think she likes you?”
No, he wouldn’t be trying to hold my hand, not unless it was just to hold me up. He liked someone else. I smiled slightly. Lucky her…
“C’mon, Buttercup, we don’t have all day,” Julian muttered, scooping his arms underneath me and cradling me against his warm chest. I made a noise of surprise, not having expected him to pick me up like that. I mean, I wasn’t exactly light.
My head was pressed against his shoulder when I noticed how nice he smelt. He smelt like the earth, a rustic, warm scent.
He let out a content hum and then leaned down to plant the gentlest of kisses on my forehead. I stared up at him in shock.
“What do you think you are doing?” I spluttered, squirming in his arms. He smiled.
“Just practising, although it wont be on your head next time.”
Blake started to choke.
“Excuse me?” His voice was deeper then usual. Angrier.
“Don’t worry Cus, I’ll take good care of her.” Julian smiled softly, emerald eyes locking with mine. Then he began to lean down towards me again, eyes breaking contact with mine just so they could travel down to my lips.
He was going to kiss me.
“Julian…” I warned, my breaths turning shallow. His smile spread slightly, and he continued his slow descent. He was just centimetres away when I panicked, realising what was happening. My hand flew up and smacked into his face with a loud ‘slap’.
My eyes widened when I realised what I’d just done, but I let out a small sigh of relief as Julian withdrew his face, looking disappointed but not at all hurt.
My slap might not have hurt his face, but I was pretty sure it had hurt his ego. I swallowed loudly and my eyes found Blake, standing in a tense stance with his hands balled up into fists. His eyes were darker, harder.
I frowned, confused, before Julian slowly put me down, one hand still around my waist to support me as he reached for my crutches.
“You’ll come around, my little Bell. You’ll come round.”
“Again, I can’t say thank you enough, John.” Mum was standing in the doorway, shaking John’s hand once more.
I was sitting on the couch with my crutches propped up beside me, a small backpack of my used clothes in one hand. Julian was out with some of his friends and Blake was leaning against the kitchen doorframe, watching our parents with a sceptical expression.
Even I had to admit, my mum was going a bit over the top. She’d brought over a bunch of flowers and two boxes of chocolate – which would’ve been three if she knew Julian had taken care of me too. She’d shaken John’s hand more then five times already, Blake’s at least three. My cheeks were burning with embarrassment, but I knew she was just trying to say thanks.
“It was really no trouble at all, Mrs. Parson, she was a pleasure to have around.”
“Oh, please, call me Marie. We don’t really do ‘formal’ in this town,” Mum laughed, patting John’s shoulder. “You should come over for a barbeque some day, meet some of the other neighbours and the rest of the family, I’m sure they’d love you! Ah, anyway,” she glanced down at her watch then over at me, before looking back at John.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t really thank you properly but I’m in a huge rush to get to work, so we’ve really got to get going.”
I took that as my cue, pushing off the couch and grabbing onto my crutches. Blake tousled his long hair with one hand and then walked over to me with a smile, picking up my backpack. I shot him a grateful smile in return, hobbling towards the door.
“Thank you John, for having me. I really did have a good time.” I smiled up at the friendly man, who patted me on the head with a chuckle.
“Anytime, Bells. If you ever want to drop by, you just go ahead. It’s gonna be quiet without you around, isn’t Blake?” He looked over at his son, who was staring at the ground. “Blake?”
Blake’s head snapped up as he realised he was being talked to.
“What? Oh,” he laughed. “Yeah, it’ll be really weird without Bells, I won’t have anyone to help me annoy Julian anymore.”
I snorted loudly, causing mum to send me a harsh look. Biting back my laugh, I averted my eyes from Blake’s grin, knowing that he would with one look.
“Yes, well, thanks again. We’ve really got to get going but you have my number, so feel free to call anytime you want. We should really arrange a dinner or a lunch or something, I’ll get back to you on that.” Mum opened the door and took a step out, gesturing for me to follow. “Okay, well, bye!” She waved, taking my bag from Blake with a grateful smile.
“Thank you,” I brandished a crutch around in goodbye, almost hitting a pot plant that was sitting outside their door.
“Oh… whoops.” I grinned sheepishly one last time, before hurrying down the steps and following mum to the car. She helped me get into the front passenger seat, lying my crutches down in the back before getting in and starting the car. It was silent for a minute or two before mum cleared her throat.
“Well… they were nice people.” She commented lightly, sending me a brief look. I ‘hmm’ed in response, staring out the window.
I hadn’t seen the streets our country town in ages, yet nothing had changed. Everything was still made of tarmac and was radiating heat, with people swarming up and down the pathways as they hopped from shop to shop. It was surprising how many people lived in our town, seeing how remote it was. We got a lot of tourists though, as the town was about half way to Alice Springs.
“Do Blake and… um, Jacob go to the Den with you?” Mum asked again, flicking on her indicator and turning around a corner.
“It’s Julian, and no, they’re home schooled. They’re new though, so they might be coming to the Den, I’m not sure…”
“So you’d never met them before?” She sent me an incredulous look from the corner of her eye, which I raised my eyebrows to.
“Oh. Seems like you and Blake are pretty good friends?”
“Yeah, he’s really nice.”
“Oh really…?” She trailed off suggestively and my cheeks burned.
“Mum, not in that way! We’re just friends.”
“Mm-hmm.” She nodded her head with a knowing smile. I rolled my eyes and huffed, perching my head in my hand.
Trust mum to make assumptions like that… imagine if she’d met Julian.
Gravel crunched underneath the car as we pulled into our driveway, the house that was waiting for us a warming site. I’d missed home.
Our house was probably just as big as John’s, although I hadn’t been able to explore his entire place. We didn’t have any of the super sleek, modern furniture like a lot of other people did in this town, almost everything in our house was made of oak or some other type of wood.
“Home sweet home!” Mum pulled the keys out of ignition and the engine died down. I sucked in a deep breath, opening my door.
“Yep.” I swung both of my legs around and fell down onto the ground, landing on one foot with a wobble. “Mum, could you get my crutches for me please?”
Mum turned to look at me from the driver’s seat, only just remembering that I wasn’t supposed to walk normally for another day.
“Oh. Oh, yes, sorry,” She pushed her door open and quickly hopped out, making her way around to me with fast steps.
“Right, okay. Louis is home but he’s asleep at the moment, so he shouldn’t bother you. I have to work late tonight, so I’m trusting you to go to bed at a reasonable time.” She pulled the passenger seat door open and picked up my crutches.
“There’s leftovers in the fridge, fish fingers for Louis, whatever you want for yourself… and, um, call me if you need to, but only if it’s an emergency… and… yeah, enjoy being home again.” She lent in and pecked me on the cheek before hurrying around to the other side of the car.
“See you, honey!”
“Bye…” I waved after the car until I couldn’t see it anymore, then turned around and limped up to the front door.
It didn’t surprise me that mum had to work late again, she worked late more often then she came home on time. Dad lived overseas, in England, working for a law firm. I still didn’t understand why he wouldn’t let us move up there with him, but he’d come down and visit every second Christmas, so it was okay – we could always Skype if I needed him.
Having no parents around most of the time didn’t affect me too badly, but I always worried about Louis… he was only four and a half, yet he’d only met his dad five times and saw his mum for about two hours each day. He went to day care though, so it wasn’t like I had to act as his second mother, which was a relief.
I pulled open the front door and crutched my way inside, breathing in the familiar scent of vanilla and lemon… mum was obsessed with air fresheners, but she’d taken to using just one after I finally got sick of having each room smell like a different tropical fruit.
With a quiet laugh, I made my way through the hall and into my room.
My room didn’t really match the rest of the rustic-themed house. The walls were black, swirled with silver patterns of vines, climbing their way to the roof. I had a double bed, wooden floorboards and a thick, scrunch-your-toes-into shaggy rug right next to my desk.
I blew out a breath, perched my crutches against the wall and then belly flopping onto the bed, the blanket folding around me with an “oomph”. Crawling into a more comfortable position, I lay my head down onto the pillow and closed my eyes, grateful not to be sleeping on a couch for the first time in three days.
“It’s so good to be home…” I muttered into my pillow, letting sleep enclose around me.
“Bells…. BELLIE!!” Some screeched my name and my head flew up, eyes blurred as I stared around my room, confused.
Who called me…? Did someone call me?
I listened again, frowning in concentration. The familiar hum of the air conditioner was all that met my ears… I waited for a few more seconds before moaning and plopping my head back into the pillow.
There was no way I was going to get back to sleep now…
“BELLIE! THE TOASTER IS SMOKING!”
My eyes widened and this time I shot out of bed, grabbing onto my crutches and throwing myself wildly through the door, making my way as quickly as I could towards the kitchen. A horrible, burnt aroma was wafting through the corridor and I cursed, trying to move faster.
“Lou? Louis, are you okay?” I yelled towards the kitchen, finally reaching the source of the smell. My younger brother was standing in the middle of the tiled room, clutching a piece of blackened toast in his hand and staring wide-eyed at the toaster, which was coughing up black wisps of smoke and charcoal coloured crumbs.
I let out a resigned sigh, running a hand through my long, brown hair.
“Lou, I thought mum made it clear that you’re not supposed to cook on your own.” I groaned at the little boy. He stared up at me with his wide brown eyes, so much like mine, his bottom lip trembling.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t wanna wake you up cause mummy said you were hurt. I thought I could make some toast… but the toaster doesn’t like me.” He went back to staring at the toaster with a horrified look.
I rolled my eyes and crutched past him, ruffling his chocolate brown hair on the way.
“It’s okay, you didn’t know that this would happen. My ankle is fine Louis, you can wake me up whenever you want to and I promise I won’t kill you. Unless it’s a school morning.” I yanked the toaster’s plug out of the socket and gave the machine a little thump.
“It’ll just smoke itself out now, don’t worry about it. It’s been broken for ages and I promise you it doesn’t hate you. It hates me. It ate my toast once.”
Louis sent me an incredulous look, a grin spreading across his face. “Really?”
I couldn’t help but smile back at him – he had the most adorable smile, complete with one missing tooth. Mum said I used to look like him when I was little. Oh, how things change…
“Yep, I put in the bread and then, BAM, it was gone!”
“Did you get it out again?”
I shook my head sadly. “No… my poor toast was never seen again.”
Louis gaped up at me with wide eyes and I laughed, breaking the sad silence.
“So you’re a hungry hippo, are you? Mum told me she left you fish fingers, do you want them?”
“Oh, yeah!” He nodded enthusiastically and I shuffled over to the fridge, abandoning my crutches. I could easily walk on my own two feet now, but the doctor didn’t want to take any chances. He said I’d be fine in another day, which meant tomorrow.
I glanced at the clock. 8:42 pm.
“Oh crap, you’re supposed to be in bed,” I glanced down a Louis’ tired face, then realised what I’d just said.
“Oh crap, I just swore! Twice. Crap. Louis, never say crap, it’s a horrible word!”
Louis giggled and I slapped a hand to my forehead with a groan. Mum would kill me if she knew where he’d learnt that word.
“Go get ready for bed, I’ll heat up your fish fingers while you get changed, ‘kay?”
“‘Kay.” He bolted off to his room, racing against himself. I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and pulled open the fridge door, examining its contents.
A plate of fish fingers covered in plastic wrap, a carton of milk, a container of what looked like spaghetti, some cheese, a few vegetables and a lonesome apple.
I grabbed the fish fingers and shut the door, tearing off the plastic wrap as I opened the microwave. Placing the plate neatly in the middle of the glass plate, I closed the door and set the timer to one minute.
Turning back around, I leaned against the bench top, trying to think of something for me to eat. The spaghetti was probably still okay, but who knew how long it’d been in there for… I’d just make myself a cup of noodles.
“Hey, I’m done!” Louis came skidding into the kitchen - almost crashing into the marble island - in his little blue pyjamas and a wild grin. The microwave went off with a ping.
“Do you think that was a new record?” I asked as I turned around and pulled out the plate, grabbing a knife and fork from a drawer.
“Mm, nah, I don’t think so. Once I did it before mum even finished her coffee!”
I turned around to see him seated on one of the stools in front of the island, watching me eagerly.
“Whoa, seriously? Mum drinks her coffee super fast though.” I encouraged, placing the plate down on the counter. “You must’ve run your hardest.”
Louis shook his head proudly, stabbing a fish finger with his fork. “Nope, I could’ve run even faster.”
“Oh, really?” I replied, searching through the pantry for a cup of noodles. Spotting one I pulled it out and flicked on the kettle, hoping that there was enough water in it.
“You almost done?” I glanced at my little brother to see him dangling half a fish finger above his head, snapping his jaws like a crocodile.
“Lou, don’t play with your food.”
He looked across at me with sad eyes. “But it’s a fish and I’m a shark. Sharks eat fish. I have to eat it.”
“Eat it properly then.” I told him, rubbing my face with my hands. I was wide-awake when I thought the house was on fire, but now the sleep was catching up with me. The kettle clicked, letting me know that it had finished boiling, just as Lou snapped up the last of his food.
“Now I’m done.” He announced proudly, hopping off his stool and grabbing the plate. “Do you want me to put it in the dishwasher?”
“Yeah, give me a sec and I’ll take you to your room,” I peeled off the top of my cup and carefully poured in the steaming water, putting the lid back on quickly. “Right. Okay. Bed.”
Lou grabbed my hand and started to tug me out of the kitchen. I laughed at his eagerness before he stopped suddenly, almost causing me to bump into him.
“What’s up, little man?” I frowned. He looked up at me with an even bigger frown.
“You don’t have your things.”
“Yeah. The things that help you walk. You shouldn’t be walking! You hurt your foot!” He let go of my hand and ran back towards the kitchen before I could tell him I was fine.
“Lou, I don’t need them!” I called after him desperately. He didn’t reply and I sighed, leaning against the wall. He was just too cute.
“Here, I got them for you.” He launched himself out of the kitchen with a triumphant smile, clutching my crutches above his head. My eyes widened.
“Louis, you’re gonna break something.” I winced as he turned around to face me, swinging the crutches painfully close to a vase of flowers. “Lou…”
He continued to walk towards me, oblivious to the number of objects he was so close to hitting.
“Here you go.” He heaved them off his shoulder and handed them to me, a charming smile on his face. “Hey Bellie? I love you.”
I laughed, taking them from him. “I love you too, you big dope.”
“GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP.”
“Go away…” I moaned, swing my arm around blindly. My hand found the bedside table and I began feeling my way around it, scrambling for my phone.
“GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GET UP. GE-”
I found it.
Why did I have to set such an annoying alarm?
Cause I suck at getting up in the morning.
“Ugh,” I moaned, blinking sleepily and stretching my neck. It took about ten seconds before it hit me.
I had to go to the Den.
I held my phone up to my face, squinting so I could try and decipher the time.
I stared at the screen.
“SEVEN FORTY-TWO A.M?” I screeched, bolting upright. That was late. Forty-two minutes too late.
“Oh my gosh, they’re gonna kill me…” I groaned under my breath, pushing myself out of bed.
No, I wasn’t talking about Luke, our tutor; he wouldn’t be too fussed if I was late. I was talking about my friends, who hadn’t seen me in four days.
No, I was not the queen bee, I can promise you that - but all three of my friends were like sisters and would go nuts because they hadn’t seen me since Sunday. I couldn’t have been happier that today was the day I got off crutches.
I flew around my room, brushing my hair with one hand while putting socks on with the other. Clothes? Jean shorts, a tank top and a chequered shirt with the sleeves rolled up.
Grabbing my shoes, I raced out of the room and into the bathroom, accidentally squirting too much toothpaste onto my toothbrush as I tried to force one of my feet into my volleys.
“Oh, come on…” I muttered, twisting it around wildly, glad that it wasn’t my injured foot. It finally slipped in and with a successful ‘whoop’, I spat out my toothpaste and hurried out into the hallway.
“Bellie?” Louis asked sleepily, blinking up at me from his room.
“Lou! Did I wake you up? Go back to sleep, mummy will take you to day care when she gets up. I have to go little guy, I’m late.” I ran into the kitchen and grabbed the brown paper bag that sat in the fridge, lunch that mum had prepared after she got home last night.
“Shouldn’t you be on your things?” Louis called from the hallway. I winced, hoping he didn’t wake mum up.
“No,” I shook my head, hurrying back into the corridor as I stuffed the food into my bag, which had been sitting on the countertop. Mum was just too prepared.
“I get off them today. Go back to bed, I’ll see you later on, okay?” I kissed the top of his head as I dashed to the front door. “Bye!” I whisper-yelled to him, waving.
“Bye.” He whispered back, flashing one of his heart-melting smiles. I couldn’t help but grin back, shutting the door quietly. My phone buzzed in my pocket as I ran out of the front yard and onto the tarmac road. Still jogging, I pulled it up to my ear.
“Bells? Hey, it’s Lily!”
“LILY AND TAMMY!” Someone shouted in the background. I laughed, panting slightly. I was seriously unfit after sitting on my butt and doing nothing for three days. My feet were pounding down on the pavement and I quickly glanced from side to side before jogging across a road.
“Hey guys, what’s up?”
“Are you coming to the Den? We have a new guy and he’s so cute!”
My stomach dropped.
A new guy?
It couldn’t be Blake or Julian; they’d both go together, wouldn’t they?
“Oh, really? That’s cool, I’m coming at the moment. I slept in a bit.” I rounded a corner and landed on the main road, only a block away from the Den. I slowed down to a power walk as my ankle started to burn slightly.
“You’re coming? How far away are you?”
“Oh, not too far…” I grinned, an idea popping into my head. “So, what’s been going on while I was away?” I reached a familiar house and turned into it, hopping up its concrete steps and opening the fluorescent red door.
The Den was probably the coolest building in the entire town. Technically it was Luke’s house, considering he owned it and lived in it, but all of us treated it like our own home too, loving its modern design and ultra-comfy beanbags.
“Oh, you know, just the usual stuff. Guess what?”
“What?” My evil grin grew as I tiptoed down into the wide opening room, the sleek white tiles helping my attempt at silence. Slipping off my shoes, I continued further into the house, walking around the stairs and pressing myself against a wall.
“Devon gave Susie a promise ring!”
“Hey, I was gonna tell her that.” Susie’s indignant voice sounded in the background.
“Aw, really?” I whispered, trying to make my voice sound normal. I edged up to the doorway, peering in to see Lily, Tammy and Suse all crowded together in a small bunch. A couple of other people were scattered around the room, but so far no one had noticed me.
“Yeah, how sweet right?”
“Mm-hmm…” I crept through the door. Suse and Lily had their backs to me, but my sneaking movements caught Tammy’s sharp, grey eyes in half a second. I pressed a finger to my lips, silencing her. She smirked and said nothing, looking back towards the phone.
“So are you almost here?” Lily asked, wrapping one of her feet around her ankle. I smirked and pulled the phone away from my ear, pressing the red hang-up button.
“Bells... Bells?” Lily pulled the phone away from ear to glance at it before bring it back up to her mouth. “Bells? Can you hear me?”
She looked up at Susie and Tammy. “I think the connect-”
“RAH!” I shouted, grabbing her waist and shaking her slightly. Both her and Susie started screaming, whipping around and almost tripping over each other. Tammy doubled over laughing, with me soon joining her.
“Oh my… oh my gosh guys… you should’ve seen your faces!” Tammy cackled, clutching her sides. “You… oh my gosh… oh my gosh…” She wiped a few tears from her eyes, stumbling slightly. I was trying to suppress my laughter because of the harsh looks Lily and Susie were sending me, but it was making my head ache and soon it just burst out.
Lily looked at Susie, looked at me, looked at Susie, and then started laughing her head off too, with Suse joining in in seconds.
All four of us stood there, clutching each other and giggling so hard that our stomachs hurt.
“What’d I miss?” Came Luke’s voice from behind us, and we turned around to see the young, friendly man watching us sceptically. His expression set off another round of laughter and now the entire room was grinning along with us, shaking their heads in amusement. Luke’s eyes landed on me and I sent him a half apologetic, half cheeky grin.
“I see Bells is back.” He noted with a smile and an eye roll.
“Hey Bells!” A male voice called from behind Luke. Luke turned to see who it was, before stepping to the left slightly, beckoning the boy who stood behind him forward.
“Annabelle, this is the Den’s newest student, someone who might finally be able to match your mischief.”
My eyebrows rose, a wicked grin spreading across my face as I looked at the boy in front of me.
“Oh, I doubt it.”
Hello anyone who reads this :)
As a few of you have noted in the comments below, this story is not of the ultimate quality - it is quite quick and doesn't have an awful lot of plot.
I posted this story over two years ago and wrote it when I was about 12, so the language and stuff might not be up-to-scratch.
ANYWAY, I've had a few people ask me to update and I'm really flattered that you want to read more of my work, even if I wrote it a long time ago.
This story was, however, a spur of the moment thing and didn't have much substance - I didn't plan on it going any further than Chapter One, but it did (a little), so there you go.
What I'm trying to say is that, yes, there may be more and I might feel the sudden urge to make this into something a lot bigger and better than it currently is - but I am not promising anything.
I can't say that I'll update regularly or that I'll ever add on more (although I have written a smidgen more), but I really want to thank you all for being so eager and encouraging :)
That's all from me - for now - but hopefully there should be a bit more, and some big changes, to this story.
If not, there is a HUGE story I'm working on at the moment that I'm sure some of you would like, so if I ever post that, I'll let you all know.
Thanks! :) :)