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Book One


Because it is not simple to split a heart in two, you have to take a little imperfection for something so rare and special.


Now if this were a fairytale, and I’m not saying that it is, there is always a twist in events, right? An evil villain who comes into town just to shake things up. More times than not, it is the beautiful girl who is caught up in all of it, who has to pay the price. This story is no different, but have no fear, my sweet girl, because for every villain there is always a hero, a knight in shining armor, a prince charming, and even a creature some might think are only in nightmares. 

This is the hero.

But there is another, who is the villain. 

The sound of shattering glass and red eyes, is the beginning of the end. 

Trapped in darkness. 

She believes she’ll never find the light again. She thought that because of what happened she didn’t deserve to find it again anyway. She blamed herself. 

Mama’s voice cracked as she spoke, “But, Sweetheart, she shouldn’t. There was nothing that she could have done!”

As a matter of fact, this beautiful girl was in more danger than ever before. Just because she could no longer see him, that didn’t mean that he wasn’t watching, that he couldn’t feel her, follow her, get into her head. 

But there will be a light. 

The beautiful girl deserved nothing but light and when she finds it, it will be the color of the sea, or the color of the sky, a shade of blue in between, or all of the shades above. Alas, the light turned out not to be a light at all. It wasn’t the sea or the sky, or something in between. They were eyes, eyes as blue as the sea, the sky and every blue in between.

“Remember what I said though? Every story has a hero?” Mama said, breaking from the story and putting her finger under my chin so I had to look up at her, “He won’t be that far away, she just has to be patient, he will appear when she least expects it. But when they do meet, it will be this instant connection. She just has to open her heart and her mind to the idea of him.” 

“Why wouldn’t her heart be open to him?”

She put her finger to her lips and went on with the story. 

He is her light. Even with darkness of his own.

Her love. Her other half.

No matter what goes wrong, he’s the one she can turn to. 

He is more than a hero.

But don’t think it’s only him who does all the saving. He might be the beautiful girl’s white knight and prince charming, but she will save him as much as he saves her. And I am going to let you in on a little secret, they live happily ever after. 


     Ben eyed me, his golden eyes gray and dim, as we walked out of the house. Leaving a note for my brother was the coward's way out, but I didn’t know what else to do. Maybe I am a coward for leaving my brother behind, I know it’s cruel. I was angry when Luna left and she’s done the same, but now I understand. Her letter was a way of saying goodbye because saying it face to face to the ones you love is too damn hard. 

     We would’ve talked her out of it. 

     Cameron would talk me out of this decision. 

     Ben finally sighs and nods. I went to him for a reason, I knew that he wouldn’t turn me away, but I’m still surprised that he agreed to let me do it. I wouldn’t meet his stare though, he might not try to talk me out of this decision, but he sure as hell is going to try to stare me out of it until the bitter end. 

     It’s not going to work. 

     I’d made my decision. I am done. 

     Shaking my head, I continued walking to the back of the house, knowing that he’d follow. 

     We walked in silence. It’s almost peaceful, and it would have been if I didn’t know how much pain I was putting Ben through. Maybe I should at least try to say something, to make him understand, but no amount of words or convincing is going to make him see it my way. It didn’t matter, at the end of this, he's going to lose a son… 

     As a son I knew I’d failed him and that alone was too painful to face. 

     What does one say to make that okay? 

     If I could’ve gone to someone else, anyone else, or done it myself, I would have. 

     He doesn’t understand, not completely. I know that he’s lost his other half, but his heart is still whole in his chest. How do I tell him that this has nothing to do with him, that it isn’t his fault? Ben is not the one who failed me, the world has. It was no one’s fault that I felt this way, or that I was born with a heart like mine.

     I wish I could have written him a note, and told him goodbye, but how do I show my appreciation for the man who took us in and raised us after our parents burned in that fire? How can I say goodbye to my second father? Is there even a way to say it when I was asking him to end my life for me?

     So we continued along in silence, to the waterway behind the compound. The sun just starting to sink behind the trees when I finally came to a stop at the end of the dock. This is the place. This compound held so many memories. The good, the bad, and the in-between. This is the place I want Cameron to come back to and think of me. Maybe Luna too. 

     Cameron would be back soon, it’s now or never. Swallowing I walked to the end of the dock and sat at the edge my legs dangling over the side for a moment At least here, the water would carry my ashes away and he wouldn’t have to deal with them when this is all said and down. 

Finally, I’m able to bring myself to look up at Ben’s face. The gold in his eyes completely vanished into a dark gray, even in the golden light that the sun cast around us. Though his face was set in a brave, neutral, face I knew that it’s just a mask. One he’s gotten good at. But I can see sadness and even fear behind that stare. 

     Someday, they will forget about me, they’ll move on. 

     Cameron will find a way back to Bailey. They’ll be okay. 

     Ben will be okay, he still had them. 

     The children who didn’t become a monster. The children that he could be proud of. 

     Sighing, I ran my fingers through my hair before I pushed off the edge of the dock and weighed into the chilling October brackish water. Now that we were here there was the look of hope on his face, hope that I would change my mind.

     The sight made my throat burn.


     "Don't... just do it, please."

      With a deep breath, he finally followed me into the water. I swallowed as I turned my back to him. I don’t want to see his face, and I don’t want him to have to see my face when it all went down. When I felt Ben’s arm around my chest I let my feet out from under me so I was no longer touching the muddy bottom, allowing him to hold me. I feel Ben take a shuttering breath, his arm tightened around me and that is enough of a goodbye for me. 

     My eyes are swimming in tears when I open them again and I look up at the sky and for the first time, I don’t feel that emptiness in my chest.

     That missing piece. 

     I felt at peace. 

     There was a part of me that thought that once I reached this moment, I would feel scared, but I wasn’t, all that was there was peace. There was peace knowing that I fought for as long as I could. A peace knowing that I was making the right decision. A peace knowing that soon I was going to be with my father and mother again.

      I could feel his hesitation as the stake pressed to the center of my chest, and it was in the midst of another one of his hesitations, a familiar voice echoed inside of my head.

     "You don't want to do this son... I know you don't believe it, that she is out there. But I'm here to tell you, you have a reason to live! Give it a little more time, give her a little more time, she might not come right away, but she is out there!"

     When the voice disappeared, my eyes flew open and I quickly submerged myself under the water, pushing myself out of Ben’s reach. I was only under the water for less than a minute, but my heart raced as it had never done before, and when I came back up, I inhaled a lung full of air and it was like a breath that I had been holding for as long as I could remember, and I might as well have been. This breath felt like the life inside me was restored, but I couldn’t explain where it was coming from. Placing my hand on my chest, I clenched soaking wet my shirt, as my heart had stopped racing, though my breathing didn’t slow.

     I am so confused.

     That feeling in my heart was gone so fast I thought I imagined it. That voice though. The voice, now that I knew it was real. It was so vivid and clear enough that I couldn't have imagined it and I clung to it now, because the words had come from a voice, from a man, I never thought that I was going to hear from again, but it was a voice that I would never forget. That is how I knew it was him.

     It was my father.

     From beyond the grave?

     My tears mixed with the water that still dripped down my face and I allowed this new information to sink in, or should I say flooding my system, overwhelming me. 

     Is she out there? After all this time? 

     Slowly, I turned to face Ben, and the second that our eyes met, my legs gave out from under me. Ben tossed the stake away, coming to me, wrapping his arms around me in a bear hug. I felt so small as the reality of what I'd asked him to do started to weigh on me and I did something that I hadn’t done since the night of the fire, I cried. Ben just held me like a child, and I guess at that moment I was. So, I let him.

     He knew me, more than I realized. He knew me on the same level as my father did and I felt not only Ben's arms around me at that moment, but my father's too. And that even though my father could never be replaced, Ben was the best second father I could have asked for.

     Bv I don’t know how much time had passed when he finally let me go, and when he did I didn’t say anything, I couldn’t. All I could feel was numb. I didn’t know what to feel, or what to think, about what just happened. What I… I almost did. I’d heard my father’s voice. My heart felt… whole. Though that only lasted for that one second, it was enough, I felt hopeful and that is what confused me more than anything. 

     What did it mean? 

. . .

     “Stop!” I cry. 

     “Scars are ugly and you have a scar.” 

     “Why are you being so mean?” 

     Candy smiles. What did I do to make her hate me so much? 

     I ran downstairs to Mama, my eyes blurry with tears, but she was right where I left her, sitting on the sofa watching her show when I said goodnight. 

     “Peanut, what’s wrong?” Mama asked, gathering me up into her arms. 

     “Candy…” I sniffled, “She made fun of my scar again. I hate this thing, she’s right. It makes me look ugly.” 

      Mama sighed, as she ran her fingers up and down my back, and even without her saying anything I could feel myself relax. I loved when she did that, it always made me feel better even before she said anything. 

     “There, now come on, let’s get you in bed.” 

     Carrying me upstairs to my room, I laid my head on her shoulder, “Mama, why do I have this scar? Did something happen to me?” 

     “No,” She whispered in my ear, “No, it is not a scar, it's a birthmark. You have had it ever since you were born.” 

     “Is something wrong with me?” 

     “No! Quite the opposite actually.” 

     She laid me down in bed and kissed the top of my head and for a second I thought she wouldn’t tell me, but then she sat on the edge of my bed facing me. For the longest time, she didn’t say anything and she wouldn’t look me in the eye either. She looked at something over my shoulder instead. 

     But I’ve seen that far-off look in her soft brown eyes, she isn’t looking at something, at least not something on my wall, I don’t know it's like she can see something the rest of us can’t. And when she blinked, her eyes coming into focus again, she looked down at me again, with a sad smile on her face and tears in her eyes. 

     I bit my trembling lip, something was wrong. 

    “How about a bedtime story?” 

     Maybe not, I smiled, “Yes!” 

    “Okay, come on,” she said, coming to sit next to me on my bed, putting an arm around my shoulder, pulling me close to her. 

    “Where is the book?” I asked. 

    “We don’t need one for this one. Just listen.” 

    I nodded, laying my head against her, and closed my eyes.


     Once upon a time, there was a girl with the most beautiful brown eyes. Eyes that not only saw what was right in front of her but also what has already been, and in her dreams, what will be. This little girl was very special, in fairy tales, she would have been called the fairest of them all. 

     Now, this little girl had a mother who held her in a special place in her heart. A father who didn’t understand her. And an older sister that got under her skin. 

     Now if this were a fairytale, and I’m not saying that it is, there is always a twist in events, right? An evil villain who comes into town just to shake things up. More times than not, it is the beautiful girl who is caught up in all of it, who has to pay the price. This story is no different, but have no fear, my sweet girl, because for every villain there is always a hero, a knight in shining armor, a prince charming, and even a creature some might think is only in nightmares. 

     This is the hero.

     But there is another, who is the villain. 

     The sound of shattering glass and red eyes is the beginning of the end. 

     Trapped in darkness. 

     She believes she’ll never find the light again. She thought that because of what happened she didn’t deserve to find it again anyway. She blamed herself. 

     Mama’s voice cracked as she spoke, “But, Sweetheart, she shouldn’t. There was nothing that she could have done!”

This beautiful girl was in more danger than ever before. Just because she could no longer see him, that didn’t mean that he wasn’t watching, that he couldn’t feel her, follow her, get into her head. 

     But there will be a light. 

     The beautiful girl deserves nothing but light and when she finds it, it will be the color of the sea, or the color of the sky, a shade of blue in between, or all of the shades above. Alas, the light turned out not to be a light at all. It wasn’t the sea or the sky, or something in between. They were eyes, eyes as blue as the sea, the sky, and every blue in between.

     “Remember what I said though? Every story has a hero?” Mama said, breaking from the story and putting her finger under my chin so I had to look up at her, “He won’t be that far away, she just has to be patient, he will appear when she least expects it. But when they do meet, it will be this instant connection. She just has to open her heart and her mind to the idea of him.” 

     “Why wouldn’t her heart be open to him?”

     She put her finger to her lips and went on with the story. 

     He is her light. Even with darkness of his own.

     Her love. Her other half.

     No matter what goes wrong, he’s the one she can turn to. 

     He is more than a hero.

     But don’t think it’s only him who does all the saving. He might be the beautiful girl’s white knight and prince charming, but she will save him as much as he saves her. And I am going to let you in on a little secret, they live happily ever after.

     I smiled at the dreamy little thought, I loved when the story ended with a happily ever after. I struggled to open my eyes to look up at Mama. 

“That was a good story, Mama.” 

     She smiled as she kissed the top of my head, “I am glad you like it Peanut. And always remember Rowan Lynn, if one was to leave, then the other would be lost. Through the darkness and peril of a heart, there is a light, it shines brightly when it is given fuel to run off of. Love. When one leaves then the light is lost, but together, the light is bright, and nothing can dim it. Nothing will pull them apart." 

     I nodded as she stood. I was still dreamily smiling when Daddy came into my room to kiss me goodnight. I was about to lie down again and close my eyes when I saw Mama walk out of Candy’s room and pass by mine again. 

     “Mama?” I called in my sleepy voice.

     She stopped in the doorway and her smile glowed from the little light of the hallway, "Yes, Peanut?"

     “Is that why I have this scar?” I asked I couldn’t help the disappointment, “Why does it have to be a scar, something so ugly?” 

     "Because it is not simple to split a heart in two, you have to take a little imperfection for something so rare and special," and as she spoke tears welled up in her eyes and she blew me a kiss turning off the light.

      I stared into the darkness thinking to myself, I didn't mean to make her cry.

Chapter One

     And I dreamed of those blue eyes ever since. Every night, without fail, he’s there one way or another. Nightmare or dream, it didn’t matter. A boy, just walking down the high school hallways. Handsome, oh so handsome, with all the girls' eyes on him as he passes, but his eyes are on the ground, not looking at any of them. His hands shoved into the pockets of his leather jacket. 

     Well, that is until he realizes that I am standing before him and his eyes look up to meet mine and he smiles. 

     At me. 

     Like I am the only girl in the world. 

     His eyes were a brilliant blue, like nothing I’d ever seen before. So unreal, boyish, and carefree, and yet not all at the same time, as if he had seen more of the world than he should’ve at his age. 

     Then there is the same boy, same brown leather jacket, same smile, but there is a dark edge to him. His eyes are still blue, but there is a gray tinge to them. Hinting at an inner struggle going on inside of him, as if he can’t decide what to do. I have this feeling that I should be afraid of him, but I can’t. It’s him. I know I can trust him with everything. Heart, body, and soul, all of it. I trusted him. 

     I only wish that he felt the same… 

     Then there is the knight and when he’s in armor he feels more like himself, doing what he’s meant to do. His blue eyes, eyes determined to defend and fight no matter the cost. Eyes still handsome and alluring, but more human…? Is that even the right word? A sword at his hip, a sheath of arrows slung over his back, and a bow in his hand. He’s younger, but somehow older beyond his years, taking the world on his shoulder and ready to fight until the end. Part of me wants to say that he is a knight in shining armor, but he’s not. A knight in shining armor is a man who has never had his metal truly tested and that is not the way to describe the battle armor that he wore. 

     Or he’s this Prince version of himself, the sight the most heartbreaking as his human blue eyes stared down at the empty throne beside him as if he didn’t know what to do with it. I can tell that he wants to walk away from it, but he can’t bring himself to. Not out of vanity or pride or the desire for the throne or the crown that comes with it. He doesn’t want any of it. But he stays because he knows that it’s what he has to do. 

     No matter the face he wore, the boy with the blue eyes was my constant, he was the one thing I knew I could count on. Even in the nightmares, where I know that I am supposed to be afraid of him, or the other monster in the shadows, the one with the red eyes. I can’t bring myself to be afraid of him though. Not when my heart calls out to him, knowing that he is that other half. 

     But it’s just a story. 

     He is a story. 

     The boy with blue eyes and a half of heart like mine.

     I’d love for him to be real, but he can’t be. 

     Then there are Mama’s nightly bedtime stories, if you can even call them that. When I got older they kept changing every time she told me one. The same elements are always there. The blue-eyed boy, the girl’s other half, her true love (always my favorite part). A significant moment where the two face off with the monster with the red eyes. 

He’s where the nightmares come from. 

     Moments in time, like the chess game. White marble vs Black onyx. Good vs Evil. The blue-eyed hero vs the red-eyed villain. The chess pieces move around the board, playing and circling each other, I don’t know a lot about chess, but I know the object of the game is to capture the king. 

     But the two halves on the board circled each other, the black onyx pieces trying to reach the white marble queen and the rest of the white marble pieces surrounding her, protecting her. It’s more than just some chess game. It’s not about the game at all, it's about her, the girl. Represented by the white marble queen. The boy with the blue eyes trying to protect her from the red-eyed monster. 

     A game of life or death, if the boy with the blue eyes didn’t win… 

     The stories were starting to feel more like a warning than a story. 


     They are just stories. 

     He’s just a story. 

     He isn’t real, neither of them are. 

     So why does he feel real? 

     Why do they both feel so real? 


     And if my heart belongs to his boy with the blue eyes and half of a heart, why am I so heartbroken over a brown-eyed, quarterback of the high school football team, named Jack Fay? Sure he’s cute, tall with arms the size of my thighs and can run faster than me even if I had a head start. 

     But I should’ve seen it coming, the signs were there, the red flags. All of it. And I let him, I let myself start to fall for him, I’ve started to give this boy my heart. But things were good when we were alone. Away from everything. Those were the good times, but I’ve learned that the good things come to an end when you’re with the quarterback and you’re nothing. But I thought he was free to be more himself when it was just the two of us. Like at school, he’s always wearing contacts, but when it’s just us, he wears his glasses, and they make his brown eyes pop. 

     But maybe, the whole thing is just some front. He knew how to manipulate me. I am an open book and I guess easy to read, he knew what liked and hoped I’d give him what he wanted if he pretended long enough. 

     So when I didn’t his eyes wondered… 

     Tears burned in my eyes as I walked through the front door, slamming it a little too hard behind me. Thankfully Dad wasn’t home to hear it. Mama came around the corner then though, furrowed brows as she took me in, then they were quickly replaced with concern. I shook my head and before she was even able to speak I ran to her, burying my face against her, the perfect place to hide, the place I felt safest in the world. 

     “Peanut, what’s wrong?” Mama asked after a minute. 

     “Jack…” I choked out the bastard’s name. 

     “What happened, did he hurt you?” She asked, her Mama Bear coming out. 

     “No… not exactly,” I said, trying to rein in the choking tears, “He cheated on me.” 

     There is something about saying two words out loud, making it all too real. I couldn’t fight against the tears and completely fell apart. I know it's stupid, he’s the one that cheated on me, I shouldn’t wonder what I did wrong, what I could’ve done differently to keep him. 

     I vaguely recall the two of us going into the living room and sitting on the sofa together and I told her through the tears about the mall food court, finding Jack with the cheerleader. I should have known because everyone thought that they were meant to be, since he was the star football player and she was the head cheerleader, and they looked perfect together.

     They had gone out, once upon a time, but he led me to believe that it was over between them. Was I the girl that he was cheating on her with, instead of the other way around? People told me, my best friend told me, that Jack was known for his games, and I shouldn't have started to fall for someone like him. He’s the kind of guy that I promised myself that I was never going to fall for, and yet somehow he got into my head and even started to get into my heart. He knew all the right things to say, and that is how he got me to fall for him because I believed every word.

     Every horrible word he said to me in that food court. 

     "He told you what?" Mom asked when I was done telling her my tale like she was the one slapped in the face.

     I just nodded, I didn't want to say it again, I wasn't sure that I could. And Mom didn't make me, she just held me tightly against her chest rocking me back and forth like I was a small child again and she started rubbing circles into my back and I could feel the tension melting away, just enough.

     I know what she wants to say and I know what she’d do to him if she ever saw him, but in that moment I am glad that she kept that all to herself and let me cry. She’d only be saying them because she’s my mom.

     All I need right now is for her to hold me until the tears stop. 

     They would stop, right?

     But the longer we sat there and the more they came, I wasn’t convinced. Even if I knew that he was not something worth crying over. Jack isn’t worth it. His words aren’t true. 

     I’m not worthless. 

     I’m not a piece of shit. 

     I am worth someone’s time. 

     I am worth his, right? The blue-eyed boy… 

     And yet the tears wouldn’t stop. 

     I wanted someone so badly that I became blind to what was lying right in front of me, staring at me. What is that saying, if it was a snake it would have bitten you. Well, I’ve been bitten.

     I was about to jump into a pit with no net at the bottom to catch me. I was falling for a guy that was not falling for me in return. I was willing to take the first thing that came my way!

     I was stupid, so stupid, that I couldn't help but kick myself a little for it.

     "It has been a while since Jack has come around and I forget... does Jack have blue eyes?" Mom finally whispered.

     I stilled in her arms. 

     "He didn't have blue eyes, did he? See... Jack isn't worth your tears. I am not saying this because I am your mother..."

     "Yes, you are, but go on..."

     "Okay I am, but why would anyone want to cheat on such a beautiful girl like you…? He is going to realize what he’s lost and will come running back, you mark my words!"

      But the blue-eyed boy… he isn’t real. I wanted to say.

     Instead, I laugh at my mom’s words and say, "Yeah, I don't think that is going to happen!"

     Mama kissed the top of my head and she took in a breath as if she was going to say something else.

     But then...

     The window in the front hall, by the door, shatters into pieces and all of sudden it's like time freezes as each piece of the shattered glass hits the floor. It all happened so fast and in slow motion all at the same time, I didn’t know what was happening. A sense of panic filled my chest. 

      Mama, on the other hand, is the image of calm, like she had been waiting for this moment, she knew it was coming. Without hesitation she stood, taking me with her. I move with her, on shaking legs. She releases me only long enough to move the sofa out of the way and shoves me into the alcove behind it. 

      In my mounting fear, I thought about when I was little, when Mom and I played hide and go seek and she showed me this perfect little spot.

     She whispered, "Stay quiet, and whatever you do, do NOT move!"

     I crouched in the small space and Mom moved the sofa back into place for a moment I went back into my childhood and we were playing this little game, only this time it wasn't so little, this time we were playing extreme hide and seek. But just like the games from when I was little, I tried to push the sofa back out a bit and peek around the corner to find out where Mom was. When I was little, I had done this, because I wanted to see if it was safe to move, and the one time I had thought that the coast was clear, so I snuck out and tried to find a new hiding place. But in an instant Mom was right there, grabbing me by the shoulders. She was so angry.

     “What are you doing?” She asked as she held onto my shoulder, all but shaking me, “You are not allowed to move from that spot until I find you, because if you do, he will! Stay quiet, and whatever you do, do NOT move! Promise me!”

     I swallowed, still so unsure as to why she was so mad at me, it was just a game. But I had made her that promise, and now that I was here, I found myself keeping it, no matter how hard it was.

     But then my mind began to prickle with a forbidden thought, maybe the reason she had gotten so mad at me then was because she wanted to keep me from moving now. Whenever we played when I was little, she made sure that we were the only two in the house, Candy never played with us. It was as if she was preparing me for this moment right here, right now. She wanted me to keep this little spot a secret from everyone, so no one knew, so whoever was breaking into our house now wouldn't know.

     But everything is so still, so quiet. I thought maybe, no one was trying to break in after all, that something only crashed into the window on accident. But that’s isn’t possible, our front door is down a walkway, and the only way to see this window if you’re standing next to it. 

     I had to know what was going on, so I moved the sofa just enough that I peered around it, to find Mom. When I did, she was the image of calm, ready for whatever she was about to come face to face with.

     But everything remained still, and all I could see by the door and the window was the shattered glass on the ground. For a sickening moment, I thought that maybe the intruder was Jack, getting back at me for making a scene at the mall. 

     But I had this gut feeling that that wasn’t the case. 

     Whatever shattered that window is so much worse. 

Chapter Two

     "Hello, my dearest Alexandra!” A male voice boomed through the living room, I cringe at the sound.

     Mom stiffens, it’s all I can make out behind the sofa, though his presence takes over the entire room, stealing the air from it. My heart hammers against my rib cage. 

     "How do you know my name?" She asked, her voice not shaking as she spoke through her clenched teeth, but more like a challenge. 

     "Oh, I know more than just your name my dear, I have been watching you and your family for quite some time.          Otherwise, how would I’ve known that it’s only you and your daughter, what's her name, Rowan...?"

     "Leave them alone!" Mama scolded.

     "Don't worry, Allie, I'll leave them alone for now. You are what I want, what I’ve come for.” 

     "If you want me, then take me, but don't you dare touch my daughter! My family."

     "We'll see, won't we...? I mean, I will. You won't."

     "What do you want with me?" She swallowed, it’s the first time I hear the fear in her voice. 

     “You already know what I want. You’ve seen it, haven’t you? You’ve known I’d be coming…” I can hear the smile in his wicked words, “You won’t admit, it because you don’t want her to know.” 

     My hand shoots to my mouth, muffling the gasp that escapes my lips. 

     Holding my breath, I wait for her next words, but she says nothing. No, she gasps and it's followed by a quiet thud on the ground. I open my eyes, I hadn’t realized I closed them, and peek around the corner. 

     I didn’t want to believe the scene that played out in front of me. A tall dark skinned man had pushed her to the ground, kneeling and towering over her. His large hand clasped around her throat, choking her. Her lips were already pale and turning blue from the lack of oxygen. 

     It can only be seconds that pass, but to me, they felt like a lifetime, I don’t even want to imagine what these moments felt like to her. She tried to claw at his face and pry his hand from her throat, but to no avail, her nails didn’t so much as make a mark on him and her efforts angered him, I could see his fingers tighten around her throat, and when her eyes widen up at him and her mouth parts as she tried to take in air, he smiles. Then he pauses, looking up from her, glancing around the room as if he’s heard something (or felt someone’s eyes on him). I know I should move so that he can’t see me, but I can’t. 

     I can’t when I see his face for the first time. 

     For a dark-skinned man, I thought he was quite handsome, flawless even, but his blood red colored eyes offset any human features, revealing the monster he was and all I could see was his bloodlust, his anger. There might have been something beautiful about him, but there is something evil about him that I can feel deep down in my bones.

     He held my mother’s life in his hands, but there is something much much darker about him, something that went beyond these murderous intentions. A coldness that hadn’t always been there. But it's not new either. A deep desire for something he hasn’t tasted before. 

     It made me shiver, but I couldn’t bring myself to tear my eyes from him either. 

     He finally looks back down at my mother’s paling face, caressing her cheek with his free hand. Then when her eyes close, he moves in a blur, leaning down over her, replacing his hand with his mouth. 

     Was he drinking her blood? I asked myself.

     The moments that followed seemed to drag on forever. If I didn't know any better, I thought that he was savoring her. To someone who hadn't seen them moments too as he choked her, it would have appeared that he was holding her like his lover, holding her hips down with his hands.

     I held my breath as I watched him, he didn't seem to breathe. I finally had to peel my eyes away from him to look at Mom, she didn’t seem to be breathing either. She already looked different, as if she’s withered away to nothing right before my eyes. It’s so unreal, and it scared me because her skin was still glowing from our trip to the beach only a week ago. It should’ve been impossible that she could turn so pale in such a short amount of time. Her once lively, beautiful, hair is dull and lifeless. She looks so fragile, which is nothing that she’s ever been before, she might as well have been a ghost. 

     She isn’t even fighting, resigned to her fate, and has given up. 

     I thought that she was already gone, but when he pulled away (ever so slightly), her eyes fluttered open, looking in my direction. I almost didn't believe that they were even hers. Tears finally clouded my vision as our eyes met. 

     I was losing her, forever.

     "I love you... just... remember everything I told you," she said with every bit of strength that she had left.

     He snarled, the sound making me jump. Mom didn’t react, she just closed her eyes again as if drifting off to sleep and he finished off what he started. I could feel a scream start to build up in my throat, but my mother's words rang through my mind. Remember everything I told you. 

     Stay, quiet, and whatever you do, do NOT move! Was that what she meant? I wasn't so sure, but I forced myself to keep that promise. I just sat there and watched as he ended her life. I watched as he took everything until there was nothing left of her, of my best friend. Her eyes, her smile, her life, and her light, it was all just gone without a trace. 

     Was it only minutes ago that she was holding me? 

     How can she just be… gone? 

     All that was left was a shell of the person I once knew. 

     My heart jumped as I looked away from my mom for the first time when I heard the floor creak as he stood. I held my breath in an attempt to slow my heart rate down, but it only raced faster. But I managed to move deeper into the cave in the wall.

     He just stood there though, for… I don’t know how long. 

     Did he know where I was? 

     The sound of his footsteps, creeping closer. I sucked in a breath that is too loud, I clamp my hand on my mouth to muffle the sound. He’s sure to hear me that time. 

     I couldn't see him, but I can feel his presence. He stood at the edge of the sofa. Holding my breath, I waited. 

     And I waited. 

     Then, from the corner of my eye, I saw a shadow, his shadow, as he raised his hand. I swallowed and the next thing      I knew the sofa flew across the room, slamming against the wall. I jumped, but I didn’t dare make a sound. I followed the path of the sofa, but only for a heartbeat before I looked up to meet his eyes for the first time. 

He found me.

     When his eyes met mine, they didn’t just meet, they locked. I couldn’t look away even if I wanted to. I could hear my heart hammering in my chest through my ears, but I stopped breathing. He was beautiful up close, there is no denying that. His mocha-colored skin is flawless, not so much as a freckle. His wickedly devilish smile is alluring, pulling me in. I swallow as I itch to reach out for him. Not to mention he was tall, he might as well have been a mountain standing over me. The only thing out of place and disheveled is his jet-black hair. 

     His blood-red eyes, like mine, are brown, and were they glowing? 

     I swallowed.

     "Well this is interesting, you're blood calls to me just like your mother's... I guess that means you're next!" The sound of his voice made my spine tingle and my heart all but stopped in my chest. 

     I close my eyes, waiting for the enviable. At least I wouldn’t have to know what it’s like to live a day without my best friend. 

     I waited and waited for him to make his move, he was surely taking his time, and it felt like an eternity waiting for him. Finally found the courage to open my eyes slightly, only to find that everything was as eerily quiet as it was when he showed up.

     He’s gone.

     And I didn't even hear his footsteps as he left. With that realization, I opened my eyes completely, looking around the room to see if he had just gone to a different part of the house, but he was nowhere to be seen. Slowly, I crept out from the spot in the wall, but before I could stand on my shaking legs, I was knocked back down on the floor as a sharp pain started at my side before coursing through the rest of my body. 

     Gasping, I gripped my side and covered my mouth with the other. I refused to scream in case he was still here, waiting in the shadows for the perfect time to pounce again. The pain wouldn’t stop, but I had to focus. I had to be sure that he was gone. 

     Forcing myself to my knees I crawled across the floor to the kitchen and down the hall towards the back of the house, but saw nothing. He is gone. Collapsing in the middle of the kitchen I screamed, willing the pain to stop. It is like someone is tearing out my insides. 

     I’m dying. 

     He’s gone, but I’m still dying. 

     Despite the pain questions start to whirl around my head. 

     Why hadn't he killed me? Why would he leave me alive, when he said that I’m next? I saw his face, I could tell someone about him and they would find him. What did he mean when he said that I was next? Did that mean that he’s coming back for me?

     Slowly the pain finally subsides and I lay flat on my back in the middle of the kitchen floor. Forcing air into my lungs. After the pain I didn’t feel anything, I should feel something, right? 

     Am I in shock? 

     I don’t know how much time had passed when I was able to bring myself to sit up. I still can’t stand on my shaking legs crawl to the corner and peer around into the living room. I thought, for a second, that it was all part of some nightmare. It isn’t real, just like the stories. The man with the red eyes isn’t real. 

     The boy with the blue eyes… 

     But the glass is still shattered by the front door. 

     The sofa was still flung across the room. 

     A body splayed out in the middle of all of it… 

     No, she’s just… sleeping. 

     I went to her side, rubbing her arm, trying to wake her. But she didn't move. She’s cold.

     "Mama…?” I whispered.


     Reality crashed into me then, he’s real. The nightmare is real. The numbness I felt shattered and I cried out, screaming. I gathered her up into my arms and shook her harder. 

     “Mama please, wake up!” 

     She didn’t. Hiccuping for breath, a new kind of pain started to wrap around my heart. I knew that it wasn’t the kind of pain that could kill me, but I wish it would’ve been. 

     She was DEAD!

     Lifting her into my arms I held her against my chest, the same way that she’s always held and I carefully rocked her in my arms. I should call someone, but I can’t move. 

     Moments, or maybe it is hours, the front door opens, and the shattered glass glides across the floor and this time it is like a metal fork moving across a glass plate. I shuddered at the sound as it sent goosebumps up and down my arms. I looked up, putting my arms around my mom to protect her from the intruder. 

     "Allie? Rowan?" He shouted, his voice was deep and scared.

     Part of me found relief at the sound of my father's frantic voice. He would know what to do. Carefully I laid my mom back down on the ground and backed away from her, back into the place in the wall, I wasn’t supposed to move from, pulling my knees to my chest. 

     Candy’s the first to walk into the living room, her eyes looking around before finally landing on Mom. Her brown eyes widened with shock, her perfect curls seemed to flatten in an instant, and all the color drained from her cheeks.      I didn’t know what to say, so I didn’t even try.

     "She's dead, isn't she?" Her voice is so soft that I had to strain to hear her.

     I looked down at my hands instead of my sister. I can’t bring myself to answer. 

     Then she screamed. 

     In what felt like milliseconds, Dad ran into the living room and stopped dead behind his eldest daughter. Candy stops screaming then and starts crying, as she falls to her knees. 

     Dad went to her side. 

     He comforts her as he takes in the room. 

     Not so much as looking at me… 

     Why her? She didn’t watch our mother die. She didn’t have her die right before her eyes. 

     For a long while, the room fell into a quiet sadness and tears, to the point I felt like I was drowning. My father and sister held each other on one end of the living room and I sat on the other by myself. For the first time in my life, I felt completely alone, and I had a feeling that wasn't going away anytime soon. I was going to be alone for a while, maybe for good.

     Then out of nowhere, Dad lashed out in anger. 

     "What happened? Why didn't you stop it?” He shouted.

     I swallowed, but I couldn't say anything.

     "You could have done something, but because you didn’t, she is dead!"

     Yes, because of me she's dead. It's all my fault! I mean who else could they blame, not the man who did it, but me.        The helpless one who just sat there and watched it all. It was all my fault because I didn’t do anything. The last time my father ever cared for me was when he walked through that door. I could see it in his eyes. 

Chapter Three


     I stiffened at the sound of my name. I hadn’t brought myself to move from my place in the wall. Not when Dad yelled. Not when he screamed and cried. Not when he could finally bring himself to call someone. Not when people start to show up at the house. 

     No one looked in my direction, or maybe they did, I don’t know. I never looked up from the spot on the floor I’d been fixated on until I heard my name.

     Two men stood over me, both dressed in a suit and tie. One of them is tall with dark black, wavy, hair, and the other, two heads shorter, stocky, and round, with a five o’clock shadow and balding head. I can’t help but focus on the stark difference between the two. The taller one… 

     Something about him, he’s handsome, too handsome. 

     Like… like him. 

     I swallowed nervously, tightening my arms around my knees as he knelt in front of me. 

     “Hey, you’re okay now,” He says softly, raising his hands to me with his palms out. 

     I stare at him, but I don’t relax. His pine-green eyes bored into mine. There is something about his eyes, unreal almost. Like his. 

     No, I mentally shake the thought away. I am seeing monsters everywhere now. He’s not one, he’s a normal man, a very, extremely dreamy-looking man with unique eyes, but a man. Not a monster. 

     He’s going to catch the monster. 

     I hope. 

     “Hi, my name is Officer Derek Wilkinson, but you can just call me Derek and this is my partner, Richard Murray...” 

     “Officer Murray,” the short man cut in before his partner could finish. 

     He’s crude as he eyes me with his hazel eyes, glaring at me. There is no innocent until proven guilty in his stare.          He’s already made up his mind, and I’m guilty. He’s convinced that I  am the one who killed her. 

What…? NO! 

     How can he think that? 

     Officer Derek turns to glare at his partner, clearly he didn’t think the same. 

     “Do you mind if we ask you a few questions?” 

     I nod, not like I could say no, right? 

     "Okay... so it’s my understanding that it was just the two of you in the house this afternoon, is that correct?"

     I nod.

     "Can you recall the events leading up to your mother's murder?"

     Murder, yes that is the word I couldn’t think of before. She’s dead because she was murdered. 

     "Yes..." I choked. “I’d just come home, I was upset because…” the reason didn’t matter anymore but I said anyway, “my boyfriend cheated on me, and we were just talking when the glass of the window shattered. 

     It’s so strange, how was that only a couple of hours ago, and yet it feels like another lifetime? A life that didn’t even feel like my own anymore. 

     "And in the event of finding out that your boyfriend was cheating on you, did it lead you into killing your mother?" Officer Murray bit out, eyeing me. 

     “WHAT?! You think I’ve snapped and killed my own mother?” I shouted. 

     Derek glared at his partner again, if stares could kill, and thankfully he stood and walked away, leaving just the two of us. 

     “I don’t think you did anything and I know that this is going to be hard, but I need you to tell me everything that happened.” 

     "He broke in through the window, by the front door,” I said as I pointed to the shattered window and then to the spot where my mother had told me to hide, “She told me to hide, so I did. He strangled her…” 

     “So you could see him?”

     I nod again. 

     “Did you see anything else?” 

     I shook my head, “No, not that I can remember.”

     He eyed me as if he could see right through the lie. I don’t know why I felt I couldn’t tell him what I saw, but the words wouldn’t form. I couldn’t tell him, would he even believe me if I did? 

     “Do you know what he looks like?” 

     This truth I can give. I do my best to describe the monster who broke into our house and murdered my mom. Even his eyes. His red eyes. I don’t know how well I did. He was there and gone so fast I thought I imagined the whole thing, imagined him. The only clear thing I can remember is his eyes. 

     "Did he see you?" Derek asked.

     I swallowed, I knew I should tell him the truth, but again the truth stuck in my throat and wouldn’t pass my lips.

     I shook my head.

     He narrows his eyes at me, “You said that you were hiding in the cave behind the sofa, correct?"

     I shrug, "He was angry that he couldn't find me and threw the sofa across the room before storming out of the house…” 

     The lie passed my lips so easily, Derek still didn’t seem convinced. I thought he’d push me for me more until I spoke the truth. But he didn’t. After that I fell into a numb state, staring off into nothing. Feeling nothing. 


     The next minutes, hours, and days are a blur. 

     They never find him, it’s like he never existed. 

     “Did she even fight?” Candy asked. 

     I didn’t answer her question though, because of the accusatory tone in her voice. 

     "You know something, something that you didn't tell them, don't you?" Candy whispered.

     "What are you talking about, I would want to know what killed my mom more than anything... why would you think that at all Candy?" I hissed.

     "You know damn well what I am talking about! The look you have on your face is guilty... you're not telling the cops what they need to know Rowan, you and I both know that!"

     "Oh, we do now? Listen, I want to know what happened to Mom and bring to justice who did this to her... I told them it was a man but Candy there are a lot of men in the world! Dad could be a suspect with what I gave them!"

     "But he's not!" she scolded.

     "Exactly, I don't know what more you want from me. I can't bring her back."

     "Isn't that the truth?" 

     She can’t be fucking serious right now. The next thing I know I am standing on my feet and lunging for my sister, my hands outstretched for her neck. If she wants to know so badly what happened to Mom I am more than happy to show her. 

     Candy shrieked. 

     “Rowan!” Dad called as he walked into the room. 

     I stopped, but I never looked away from my sister. Of course, I am going to be blamed for this too. 

     “Daddy she was about to strangle me.” 

     I shook my head, “You asked me a question and I was answering it.” 

     She rolled her eyes. 

     “Knock it off. We have something to discuss.” 

     I sighed and we both turned to face our father. There is something about the tone in his voice that sets me on edge. 

     “What is it, Daddy?” Candy asked. 

     “Well my work offered me a job, but it meant that we would have to relocate. I wasn’t going to take it, but now… with everything that’s happened.” 

     "What are you saying, Daddy? You want Rowan and I to pick everything up and leave everything we have ever known... our friends, our lives... just like that? It is like you are telling us to forget everything! We can't just pick up and act like nothing ever happened like that day didn't happen." Candy stood before him to try to speak sense to him (that was a first).

     Dad sighed as he wrapped his arms around Candy, kissing the top of her head. I looked away from them, of course, he would comfort her. 

     “We don’t have a choice, it's either we go or I am out of the job…” 

     “I thought you said…” 

     “Things change,” Dad bit out. 

     “Does it have to do with what happened to Mom?” 

     Dad didn’t say anything. 

     “You aren’t going to get fired,” I said in a low voice, “We’re running…” 

     “What?! We’re running?!” Candy whirled around on our father and actual panic filled her eyes, “What from…?” 

     She can’t even bring herself to finish that sentence. 

     “We aren’t running!” Dad said through his teeth, glaring at me, “But, we can’t risk...” 


     “We leave anything of your mother’s here.” 

     “What? You think he’ll be able to find us if we take Mom’s belongings?!” I asked, but as soon as I asked, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it was a possibility, “We can’t just leave her behind and pretend like she never existed. We do that, he wins.” 

     My anger mounts until all I see is red. 

     “We wouldn’t be leaving in the first place if…” 

     “If what? I’d saved her?” 

     “YES!” Dad shouts. 

     "That's not true!" I whispered so quietly he could hardly hear, "I couldn't stop him, even if I tried!" I am yelling by the end of it. 

     “We don’t have a choice.” 

     “NO! We have to remember her and cherish her. I won’t leave her behind. You can choose to forget about her, but I won’t.” 

     “You will do what I tell you to.” 

     I shake my head, there is no arguing with him. He can tell me what to do all he wants, but he can’t tell me to forget about her. Retreating into the recess of my dark and lonely world. There is nothing but shadows and darkness in this new world. At least here I can remember her. 

     But all I can manage to remember are her final moments. 

Chapter Four

     The next couple of weeks move in a blur, finding myself retreating into the darkness that’s become my mind and thoughts. 

     For a while, packing didn't seem so bad, but by the time everything I owned was stacked in the corner all that was left was her. It was almost like she was standing there with me because her presence overwhelmed the room.

The room still looked and felt full. Half of my room was her, most of my life was her. She was my best friend and she filled these walls with love and happiness. And I had to leave it all behind because Dad didn’t want that life, that love. He says he didn’t want to risk being followed, but that didn’t make sense. I knew that it was her he didn’t want to remember. 

     But she filled his life as much as she filled mine, or at least she was supposed to. She was his wife, he was supposed to love her. Or maybe he took “till death do us part” a little too seriously. 

     But I could never make such a promise. I couldn’t just stop loving someone because they were gone. 

     I could never forget her. 

     On top of my dresser sat my mother's music box. The music box that has been passed down for generations stared me in the face, almost as if it was pleading not to be left behind. The music box that put me to sleep as a baby. The music box that kept the monsters under my bed away when I went through my fear of the dark phase. The place where I found my locket. I didn't want to leave it behind. 

     My great-grandmother found it at a yard sale when she was a little girl. And ever since then, it has been passed down, until Mom received it and then she gave it to me when I turned fifteen. I wanted to pass it down to my children someday but now I will never get that chance. I have to keep something, I can't just leave everything behind.      Let him forget. I don’t want to. 

     My locket, I thought as I reached for it around my neck. At least that’s what I thought it was, a sterling silver oval pendent, a simple and elegant design etched into the metal, it never actually opened, but it was the nearly black sapphire nestled in the center of it that drew me in. I remembered the day I found it in my mother’s music box of all places when I was seven. I’d wanted to listen to the music box, the silver chain had been neatly curled around itself as if it was waiting to be found. I tried opening it, but when it wouldn’t, I took it to Mom to ask her about it.  

     And if I could have it.  

     “Where did you find that?” Mama asked. 

     “In the music box,” I said, “but it won’t open.” 

     Mama took it and tried to open it, but even she couldn’t do it, “It looks like it’s broken.” 

     I shook my head, hard, “No, it’s not. It’s beautiful.” 

     Mama smiled, “Your right, it is. I know. It’s like your heart. Something is missing and it’s waiting to find the right time or place, or person, to open.” 

     “Exactly! Can I have it?” 

     Mama laughed, signaling with her finger for me to turn around, I did and she clasped it around my neck. 

     There is no way in hell I can leave it behind. I can’t bear the thought of even taking it off. I might have been able to tear myself from all the other things that I loved in this room, but not this locket. It means too much and holds a power, a strength, I can’t explain. There is more to this locket than what meets the eye.

     Okay, what were the chances that he would remember something so little in his eyes, that it would slip his mind, I thought, right?

     I’m not willing to take that chance. I’d have to hide it in a box, I’ll wear something else in case he does remember, he won’t know the difference. I’ll let him take that, and when we start our new life, I’ll wear it again, he will never know. 

     “Daddy, Rowan always wears a necklace…” Candy said, eyeing my hand still around my neck as she passed. 

     "Yeah, what about it?"

     She wouldn’t… 

     “Didn’t Mom give it to her?” 

     “What. Are. You. Doing?” I mouthed. 

     She smiled as she walked down the hall. My heart raced as panic coursed through my veins. Quickly I unclasped the locket from around my neck, tucking it into a box. Grabbing one of Mom’s from her jewelry box and put it around my neck. 

     Holding my breath he rounds the corner, eyeing me expectingly. 

     "Come on Dad it's just a necklace!" I said, my voice hoarse with emotion and the remaining panic. 

     My hand was around the locket when Candy mentioned it, she didn’t see it. Right? Dad held out his hand. I swallowed. I have to make this believable. 

     “If you want it, you’ll have to rip it from my neck!” I said through my teeth. 

     Dad closes his eyes for a moment, taking a breath. I didn’t think he’d actually do it. I thought he’d yell and scream at me, but when he opened his dark hazel eyes he stepped towards me, grabbed the chain, and yanked it from around my neck. 

     I gasped, my eyes filling with tears. 

     It’s not real I reminded myself over and over again. 

     "Dad please don't do this, you have to want to keep something of hers. Why can't I just have my necklace?"

     "I don't want anything following us! I'm not taking anything, and neither is Candy... and you don’t deserve to take anything, so why should I let you?"

     I didn’t deserve to take anything… 

     That might be true, but how can he not want anything? He was married to her, he said he loved her. She was Candy's mother too. I just don't understand how they could walk away from her like she was nothing. 

     "I hate you," I whispered.

     He rolled his eyes as he walked away. 

     Taking a shuttering breath, I threw the locket into an open box. Carefully place it into a pocket of some shorts and tape up the box. 

     "I love you,” I whisper, “I promise I won't forget you!” 

Chapter Five

     Don’t get me wrong, I like a small town, but I’m not sure about this one… 

     It might be a little too small. Or maybe not… 

     Who knows. 

     On the GPS all I can see is blue water on either side of the bridge I’m driving across. 

     I’m surrounded by water, as we drive right into a small sailing town. With a quick glance over the side of the bridge, I can see all kinds of boats lined up on the docks and even huge red shrimping boats a little ways away. As we drove through town there were people out and about, walking their dogs and riding their bikes even though it’s hot and muggy outside. 

     Rolling down my window, I take in a deep breath and I smell the fishy, fresh, salty water. I thought about pulling over, so I could look around. 


     Let’s just get there first. 

     A ghost of a smile plays across my face, it’s quiet here, peaceful even and I want to love it. It’s small, but maybe that isn’t such a bad thing after all. Candy, on the other hand, not so much. She’s definitely not the small-town, quiet place, kind of girl. She didn’t like quiet, she liked the noise, she liked the city, she liked being the center of attention.

She’s going to hate it here. 

     Turning off the main road down a side street and huge green trees line either side of it, branches reaching out overhead, trying to touch. 

      Another ghost of a smile… 

     “In three hundred feet your destination is on the right.”

     I swallowed as I pulled up behind the moving truck and Candy’s little red Honda as they pulled off the road and into the driveway. I reached behind me and grabbed my backpack before getting out of my Jeep and followed Dad up the driveway (he didn’t even glance back at me once). I sigh, as I finally glance up at the house and actually it’s really cute. A white shiplap house, with light blue shutters around each of the windows. White wooden stairs lead up to the front porch with rocking chairs and the part that made me smile for a moment, then filled my eyes with tears the next, was the red front door. Mom and I used to argue about having a red front door. I always wanted one, but she didn’t.

     “Ugh!” Candy’s annoyed voice pulled me from my thoughts, “It’s so muggy here! I hate it!”

     I loved it.

     I’m not the only one who is taken aback and overwhelmed by our new surroundings though, we all were as we stood at the bottom of the stairs and looked up at the house, not saying anything or even looking at each other. Just staring. 

     Dad is the first to take in a breath as he walks up the stairs, to the front door. Candy on his heels. 

     I didn’t follow. He opened the red front door after fumbling with the keys and Candy walked inside, as if this house had always been her domain. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t too long ago that this was someone else’s home. Someone else’s kids grew up in these walls.

     We would never walk through the front door of that house ever again!

     The thought shattered my already broken heart into smaller pieces. 

     “Standing out there is not going to change anything,” Dad said, with a cruel chuckle, “You are going to have to come in at some point…”

     I swallowed back the lump in my throat, I hate that he’s right. There will be no going back, no matter how much I wish I could. Sighing, I force myself to put one foot in front of the other. 

     “Oh, and make sure that you lock the door behind you Rowan,” he said, standing at the door again, “we don’t need anyone breaking into this house too!” 

     I thought about saying the door was locked. He broke in through the window... but quickly thought better of it. 

     Closing the red door behind me I glanced around the room, I locked it. The sound makes me jump because it is far too loud. Closing my eyes I took a breath. 

     It was a false sense of security anyway. There were a lot of windows in this house...

     Turning from the door, I force myself to face the rest of the house and the first thing I face is a staircase. They were light wood on the tops and white on the sides. The walls were white shiplap just like the outside. On the left of the stairs is a door which I guess led into a closet, and for the longest time, I found myself staring at it and had no idea why.

     And then as if on cue, Candy skips in to stand beside me, following my gaze to the closet door. I didn’t have to look at her to see the wicked smile that played across her face.

     “Wasn’t Harry Potter’s room a closet under the stairs?”

     “You read...?” I shot back. 

     “I saw the movies!” Candy rolled her eyes.

     I glare at her, “And your point?”

     “You like books, so why not be like the characters from one of those books? Nothing is in there yet and yours for the taking if you want it!”

     I drew my eyes away from the closet, shaking my head. I can lash out at her, and make a scene, but I don’t want to deal with the backlash. Candy just giggles as she goes upstairs. I followed her with my eyes, I wanted to be angry with her, but how could I when I was thinking the same thing? 

     “I call this room!” She said from the top of the stairs like I was supposed to care.

     Well, I guess I was getting the third bedroom downstairs, oh darn.

     Shaking my head, I continued through the house. On the right of the stairs is the living room and kitchen. Don’t get me wrong it’s a cute little place, but the void of color made the room feel cold. But I guess it’s fitting for the situation. 

     When I feel my emotions start to get the best of me again, I keep moving.

     Walking through the living room, I head down the hallway towards the back of the house, under the stairs. It’s dark despite the white walls and at the other end is a door, with a bedroom and full bathroom. 

     Hey, if I had to look on the bright side, at least I got a whole bathroom to myself. There’s no more sharing with my sister. It was kind of sad though, this little room felt out of place all the way tucked away back here, at the end of this dark hallway. Like it didn’t quite belong to the rest of the house, an afterthought. Forgotten. Alone.

     How fitting.

     But I walked into the room anyway and just like the rest of the house, it was one shade of white too bright, but because of the setting sun outside the one window, it was almost bearable. I knew that the whole reason behind the all the white was to make the space feel bigger than it was (though the house was a pretty good size all on its own), but to me, it felt anything but. To me, this place, this world (if I was being honest), was all too small and dark without my light.

     I closed the door behind me anyway and walked to the middle of the empty room, dropping my backpack to the floor. The sound was almost deafening.

     Taking a shuddering breath, I sank to the floor, crossing my legs under me. I tried to swallow back the tears that threatened to drown me again and I realized that it was pointless. Crawling to the nearest wall, I pulled my knees to my chest and gave into them, allowing myself to cry quietly. I haven’t shed a tear since they took my mother’s body away, but right now I was going to let myself cry and tomorrow I would go back to swallowing them down along with everything else. I promised myself that once these tears stopped (because I knew they would) I was never going to cry like this again.

     I had no one to be strong for me, so I was going to have to be strong for myself.

     Well, here I am, I thought, the one place I will never belong.

     I spent the rest of the day locked in my room, trying to make it feel like mine, and kept to myself. But through the closed door, I could hear Dad and Candy laughing and joking in the living room and kitchen as they unpacked. How can they do that, act like nothing’s happened and life is normal? 

     When I finally came from the long dark hallway, I glanced at the living room and kitchen and they weren’t so empty anymore, they’re still lined with boxes, but everything still felt so bare, as if they were missing something. And it was… it's missing Mama's touch. Back home, there was always something on the walls to make them feel like someone lived there, like a home, but these walls were still as white and bare as the moment that we walked in. It’s depressing.

     Tiptoing through the little butler’s pantry and into the kitchen for the first time. The kitchen was like everything else in the house, white shiplap. But unlike the rest of the house, this room has a little pop of color (well stainless steel from the appliances). There was a long breakfast bar the length of the kitchen. The sink and dishwasher on the other end. Two ovens on top of each other with the fridge next to it and the food pantry. The bar looking out to this little breakfast nook. 

     The view out the back is beautiful, green, and lush, overlooking the little pond in the backyard. I open the back door out onto the screened-in porch and lean over the railing looking out into the dark night. It’s beautiful sure, a nice place to live, but it didn’t feel like home. It’s never going to feel like home. 

. . .

     I zone out as I eat my dinner, alone in my room. I don’t want to listen to Dad and Candy talking in the kitchen. I have nothing here, it’s a full room to an outsider looking in, but to me, it’s still empty. No matter how many boxes I unpacked, it never felt like mine, and no matter how many hours passed in the weekend it was still some other room that I couldn’t call mine own.

     Everything I love, it’s just... gone!

     I’m always in there though, trying to avoid the two of them as much as possible. Not that I think they even noticed. Or cared. I knew from the moment my father looked at me with his eyes cold, dead eyes, that he no longer accepted me or even acknowledged me as a daughter. 

     Tears started to form in the corners of my eyes as I thought about that last hug we shared, and how that was the hug I could use now. The feeling of her warm arms wrapped around my shoulders, telling me that everything was going to be alright. I reached for my locket, only to find that it too was gone. 

     I can’t do this… 

     No one would miss me. 

     Once everyone went to bed that night, I tiptoed into the kitchen, swallowing back the lump that formed in my throat as I grabbed the sharpest knife in the drawer and went back to my room. I don’t know how long I sat on the edge of my bed, staring at the knife in my hand, turning it over and over. 

     No one would miss me, I thought to myself again as I pressed the sharp edge of the knife into my wrist. I knew it should sting, the bite into my skin, but I didn’t feel anything as I pressed the knife deeper. 

     “Rowan…” I jumped at the sound of my name and the familiar voice, “You don’t really want to do this Peanut ... you have a reason to live! Give it just a little more time. Give him a little more time. Everything I’ve told you, all the stories, it’s all just around the corner, I promise!”


     The knife dropped from my hand. 

     “I love you… just… remember everything I told you.”

     And like that, all the stories Mom told me growing up flash through my head. The man with the red eyes, the feeling that the stories were more than just stories, but warnings. Somehow she knew. 

     “You already know what I want. You’ve seen it, haven’t you? You’ve known I’d be coming…” 

     A shiver ran down my spine. Did she? Know? Had she been preparing me, warning me about him? 

     Red and blue eyes… the red-eyed monster is real. Does that mean…? 

     If he’s real, where is he? It is pretty damn dark around here. 

     I shivered as I stared at the knife on the floor, and the reality of what I’d almost done sank into my bones. My hand shook as I picked up the knife, clenching it in my hand as I placed it back in the drawer. I couldn’t stop shaking as I went back to my room, closing the door behind me. Covering my mouth, I shook my head to keep from screaming. Tears filled my eyes and as I blinked them away, a catch of light gleamed in my eyes and I saw it. 

     My locket. 

     That all-but black sapphire nestled in the center of an oval-shaped locket that never opened, simple designs etched around it. 

     The chain curled around itself the same way it had when I found it in Mom’s music box. 

     My knees gave out beside the nightstand and I just stared at it, not quite believing my eyes. 

     It just appeared, as if waiting for me to find it. 

     To put it back on.

     My hands are still shaking as I finally clasp the locket around my neck. At first, the metal itself felt cold against my skin. Bitter tears stung my eyes. It’s never been cold, almost felt the absence of my mom as much as I did. The feeling opened the hole in my chest again, and I thought of that knife again. To finish what I started and this time I am scared now. Then all of a sudden the locket around my neck grew warm as if hugging me. I clenched it in my hand sighing as I lay in bed, wrapping my arms around myself and quietly cried. 

     Tomorrow was the first day at my new school. 

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