Canton chroniclesrising.., p.4
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       Canton Chronicles:Rising Power, p.4
 

           Faidra-Foteini Petaniti
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  His life was devoted to his siblings after that. He took up a part-time job, slowly pulling away from his friends, skipping school. The only bloody fool, who stubbornly refused to leave him alone, was Sebastian, his long-time best friend. Sebastian was not so good around kids, but he tried his best with Mike’s siblings, being their babysitter when Mike was at work.

  Their close friendship, inevitably, started some nasty rumours about them. Despite his calmness and optimism, Mike was furious with the situation. He didn’t care about the gay-couple thing, after all it was no-one’s job to judge who slept in his bed. But after a while the bullies started getting violent, and that was something Mike wouldn’t allow.

  The incident happened a hot afternoon, two years ago. Four classmates cornered Sebastian in a dirty alley, threatening him with knives. Unknown to them, Mike was there. His rage took over, and he beat the four bullies to a pulp. The only thing he could clearly remember, was his bloody fists and Seb’s terrified gaze.

  There was a trial, and then there was the ward for young offenders. Mike’s memory of those events was a haze, the only thing still holding him to life his two siblings and his best friend. Then his second ray of light came unexpectedly, in the face of a young doctor called John Lucas. John’s story was quite unusual, but Mike was the crowned king of unusual situations. The three of them connected with a deep friendship, which still held on to this day.

  John helped Mike in every way possible, starting from his treatment. He stayed in the wretched ward for six months, but when he finally got out, a job was waiting for him at the J.D club, also courtesy of John. The owner was a personal friend of the Lucas family, and took Mike in, without paperwork or lots of questions. And Mike proved out to be a worthy employee. He pulled the work of three people, without complaints, and was proud to be able to support his little family. Two years had gone by, quiet, without trouble.

  As he pulled the last boxes for tonight’s show, listening to Seb’s moans and complains, Mike smiled. Life had treated him kindly, after all.

  ***

  “Why do I need to carry these boxes anyway? I am the thinker and you are the worker, remember. That was the deal. And I thought you owned me for life or something like that.”

  Sebastian Stanford was complaining, something he allowed himself to do only in his presence of his best friend. Mostly, he was quiet, preferring thinking over speaking. He didn’t think himself special, or anti-social, or a loner for that fact. Long conversations were something he’d gladly indulge to, when it was with the right person. And Mike was one of the right ones.

  He blamed his upbringing for his eclectic taste in people. Seb’s parents were two sterile, unhappy people, waiting patiently for the only thing that could bring happiness in their life: a child.

  Their patience finally paid off, when Seb was born, after a series of failed pregnancies. Alas, the little baby was theirs and theirs alone. Seb was not allowed to leave the house, bring friends over or hell, even have friends at all. He was home-schooled and home-everything, until one holy day, his few relatives intervened, convincing his parents that the little guy had to go outside, to grow up normally like the rest of the people in the Island.

  With tears in their eyes, his parents send him to his first day of school when he was already nine years old. He was the school’s joke for a long time, the weird kid with the even weirder parents. But he was happy anyway. He was around people for the first time in his life, and soon he made friends, people he really cared about. He was smart, with a subtle humour that made people around him comfortable. And most importantly, he felt, at last, free.

  His freedom came with a price. He had enemies, classmates who hated his weird charm and popularity, as well as his straight A’s. He was often bullied verbally, as well as physically. His salvation came on the face of Mike, an enormous classmate from a messed-up family. The guy became his bodyguard, and Seb became his teacher, helping him with his school grades.

  Before any of them had time to realise, they became inseparable. Seb spent more time in Mike’s house than his own, irritating his parents, who just couldn’t accept that their precious only son had a lowlife, black kid as his best friend. He didn’t care. In fact, Seb had stopped caring about his parents’ opinions a long time ago.

  He was devastated after the death of Mike’s parents. And even more so, with the rumours that started spreading like wildfire, leading to the ultimate showdown against his classmates.

  The days after the “incident” were the hardest in Seb’s short life. The four guys had cornered him for good, and he would be molested, or even dead, if not for Mike. He felt terrible guilty about his existence, about his weakness. His parents made things worse by forbidding him from seeing “that criminal” ever again.

  That criminal saved my life, Sebastian would repeat over and over again, but they wouldn’t listen, they never had. It was then when he said his final goodbyes to his old home and the people who gave birth to him, taking only a bunch of stuff as souvenirs, as he left for good.

  He became Mike’s roommate and together, they faced his stay at the hospital ward. Somewhere along the way, John Lucas joined them, and the duo became a trio. It was refreshing to have a new member on the team, one with new ideas, opinions and connections. John was the missing link on the chain, and together they made it through. In the end that was all that mattered.

  “Dude, it’s falling!” Mike screamed.

  “What?” Seb asked absent-mindedly, before two sets of glass rows fell on the floor with a loud bang.

  “Oh for the love of the Deities, the boss is going to kill me.”

  “I am so sorry, Mike, I am bringing the broom now. I’ll clean everything up, and I’ll pay…”

  “Shut up, you idiot. It’s alright. I would just pay to know what freaking thought made you so damn careless.”

  “Stuff” Seb said, and smiled despite of himself. “Past stuff.”

  Mike’s mouth fell open, and then closed just as quickly.

  “Then no more past stuff thinking, ok? They make you incompetent. You’re only allowed to think about future stuff from now on. Like how we have to be extra fast in order to be ready for tonight.”

  Seb nodded and headed straight for the broom.

  “And maybe, if you help me with those heavy-ass boxes, I’ll arrange for you to see her. In private.”

  The broom almost fell from his hand, as he turned his head around in an insane speed. Seb would have a chance to see Amy Wyatt. The best new singer in the Island. His silly celebrity crush.

  “Seriously?”

  Mike winked. “I’ll get Bryan to speak with her. I am sure she will at least give you an autograph, or something”

  Seb flushed, and rushed to help his best friend. Maybe he indeed had a chance with Amy Wyatt. She was a human, after all.

  Maybe life was not so bad, after all.

  ***

  Just Dance Club & Bar, 20:00 – 20th July, 200 A.D

  “You look amazing, baby.”

  “I have an amazing make-up artist to thank for that, Missy”

  “It’s really easy when the model is almost perfect on its own, sweetie.”

  Amy Wyatt blushed. She lowered her gaze and smiled nervously.

  “Even stars in the making blush, it seems.”

  Missy, her personal assistant laughed while teasing her. Amy remained silent while thinking about it.

  Great star in the making… almost perfect model…

  Missy’s words really boosted her self-esteem. And sometimes her self-esteem was lower than someone would guess.

  She was standing in front of the big mirror in her small dressing room. She looked at herself, turning around in a cute girly fashion.

  Amy was by definition a small lady, with a height of 1.60 and a cute fit body, full with muscles and curves in all the right places. Her face was simply beautiful, with blonde long hair, high cheekbones, a small nose, pink full lips and big green eyes. O
bjectively, Amy was a perfect creature. She was also really pleased with herself, when it came to her looks.

  I wouldn’t want me any other way, she thought while looking straight in the mirror, turning left and right. Her broken self-esteem had nothing to do with her appearance. Her problems were deeply psychological, stabbing her brain like a thin needle when someone compliment her or tried to approach her, even as a friend.

  “I don’t even understand why they call you the Ice Queen” her assistant had told her one night, when too much wine consumption had turned them both pretty talkative.

  “True, you seem a little cold at first, but you are really sweet underneath Amy. At least after a couple of drinks”, she added laughing.

  Amy appreciated her words. She wasn’t cold or hard. She actually liked having people around her. As long as they kept their hands away…

  Those monstrous long arms with their stone cold fingers, terrifying like a witch’s fingernails, touching her hair, her skin, her private parts, wanting to caress her but in reality hurting her, carving bleeding scars all over her body and soul…

  She shuddered at the thought and came back to reality.

  “Another one of the anxiety attacks, darling?”

  “Yeah, it’s gone now. No point in worrying.”

  Anxiety attacks, that’s what the whole world knew and believed. How was she supposed to explain them anyway?

  “I am not worried, sweetie. It’s normal, in your age and line of work. Just breathe.”

  In your age and line of work. Yeah, perfectly normal if someone thought that she was nineteen and already a rising power in the singing industry of Canton, being higher in the charts than many newcomers.

  Amy was satisfied, but also afraid of her sudden rise to the top. She had taken up the offer of the record company mainly as a joke, but now people recognised her in the streets.

  Too much exposure… Maybe she would consider taking a break, after her appearance in the club tonight.

  “You are going to be amazing as always, honey. With a voice like yours I wouldn’t have a care in the world. Just go out there and dazzle them like you always do” said Missy, reading her thoughts as usual.

  “Have you ever thought of trading the music stage for a successful physic career, Missy?” said Amy with her sarcastic, trademark tone.

  “I wish I was that powerful, baby. But I am only a mind-reader when it comes to you.”

  They both laughed and Missy came to her side at last with her clothes in hand.

  “Ready to dress up, darling?”

  Amy nodded, sure about herself. “Totally”.

  ***

  It’s sure loud in here. Val took a deep breath and entered the crowded bar. Mandy, one of her few friends, had been talking about this event for over a month.

  “You know you have to come over, Val. There are going to be drinks, a party buffet and lots of handsome men. You’ll be able to tell your children how you had the exclusive chance to see the biggest star of their era, when she was only a newcomer at the stage.”

  Val doubted that she could ever have any children, let alone talk to them about that particular period of her life. But she actually wanted to see the Wyatt girl. She liked her quite a lot, and her voice was indeed a rare and beautiful one.

  She had made the decision spontaneously, too tired from work, but too intrigued not to join. As her eyes scanned the crowd for Mandy, she felt stares from all over. She’d done her best to look plain and simple, black midi dress with flat shoes and little make-up, but still…

  Val found Mandy sitting on a couch at the far-back. Two girls and a boy were with her, well-known faces from their University days.

  “You are here at last. We were all wondering where you might be” she said, as Val approached. Mandy’s cheeks were already red from drinking, and she giggled non-stop.

  The whole group was an easy-going, relaxed kind of crowd, making Val feeling extremely at ease with everyone, especially after the first few drinks. She knew her face must have also been a light shade of pink-red, because Mike immediately made a comment about it, when he finally made his way to her, a good hour after her arrival at the bar.

  “Wow, you’re sure enjoying the free drinks”, he said as Val turned to look at him, letting out a small shriek.

  She had met Mike in a doctor’s office, both set to be examined in their return to society after a traumatic event. They had exchanged numbers, and they talked quite often through the phone, sometimes even in person.

  “You finally remembered me, you devil.”

  Her try to stand up as fast as she can made her practically fall in Mike’s arms.

  “Do you want to fall on your head, Val? That will surely ruin your make-up. And you look so pretty tonight.”

  Val blushed as Mandy’s head turned from Mike to her, and back again.

  “Do you have a boyfriend?”

  “Don’t mind her, Mike, she doesn’t know what she is talking about. She is drunk” Val whispered and he burst out laughing.

  “You are the one to talk, miss. Come with me. I’ll borrow you for a while.”

  Mike passed his arm around his shoulders, making her feel extremely comfortable. He was tall and intimidating, with broad shoulders, short-cropped hair and black coal eyes, but his aura was more than relaxing.

  They passed the stage, where Amy Wyatt shone with her presence. Also plainly dressed, she sung song after song non-stopped, fully excited. Near the club’s entrance stood a really tall, really thin guy, with long hair combed in a ponytail, and intense green eyes, who looked at the stage mesmerised.

  Sebastian, Mike’s best friend. Val had also met him a couple of times, and liked him instantly. His dead serious face dropped when he saw her and he welcomed her with a warm smile.

  “Valentine, you look stunning tonight. I am glad you decided to show up. It’s the show of the century. She really is something, isn’t she?”

  Sebastian was talking more to himself than anyone.

  “She can definitely sing. And she is impressive, too. And totally out of your league, Seb, so stop drooling all over her, ok?”

  Val laughed, despite her good will.

  “Thanks a lot, dude” said Sebastian, but he was smiling too.

  Then he turned his head and looked towards the entrance door.

  “Mike, our friend is here.”

  Mike’s eyes light up. “Ah, the doc finally decided to join us. Come Val, there is this guy I really want you to meet.”

  The first thing that Val noticed about John Lucas, was his age. He looked roughly the same age as them, maybe even younger, even though the guys referred to him as doctor.

  Second thing was his appearance. He was not really tall like Sebastian or broad like Mike, but his body had just the right proportions. And he was really good looking. Sharp symmetrical features, thick light brown hair and bright brown eyes. Even the glasses looked good on him. More than that, Val had an inexplicable feeling. A feeling of familiarity, even thought she was totally sure she’d never met him before.

  John caught a glimpse of them briefly, recognised his friends and started walking towards them, without paying much attention. His feet were moving mechanically towards them, but his eyes were clearly stuck to a sweet brunette girl standing at the bar with a pair of friends. He was truly preoccupied with that girl, but she was looking elsewhere. Almost like she wanted to ignore him.

  A thought dawned on Val’s mind. There is a story there. Maybe the guys want the “doctor” to meet some new people, take him away from his vain crush.

  She really felt excited now. Ready to know what the story was. She hadn’t been involved in a silly love plot for ages. And she wouldn’t mind getting to know the handsome doctor. It seemed unlikely that he would be interested in her, however.

  John reached their little company, finally taking his eyes from the girl in the bar, looking up. To the guys. And Val. And he froze.

  “Well
since you finally decided to show up, let me do the honour and introduce you to a very importance friend of mine, Val. Val, here is John Lucas, yes THE famous Lucas.”

  Val was already extending her hand to John.

  “Nice to meet you, John. I am Valentine Stone. Just call me Val, if you’d like.”

  Her hand remained untouched, as John Lucas looked at her with big, watery eyes. When he finally did move, instead of shaking her hand, he took it in his own, grasping it, sort of caressing it. There was a strange warmth in his touch, but also creepy.

  Why?

  “Ahem, what…”

  Val tried to finish her sentence and failed. Because, suddenly, John hugged her. Tight, like a long lost family member being found.

  “John, you might be the most enthusiastic person I’ve ever being introduced too” said Val, trying to break the uneasiness.

  She looked at Mike for help, but failed. Mike’s jaw was nearly touching the ground from surprise. She herself felt really uncomfortable. John let go of her, but not of her hands. Her palms were now nestling inside his own.

  “Valentine. You have such a beautiful name. A rare one. It suits you. I am so glad that you are doing ok. I am so glad that I finally found you. The girl of my dreams.”

  Now it was Sebastian’s turn to be awed. His mouth shaped a round O and his face showed a mixture of feelings. Pure surprise, but also a sense of deep understanding.

  “Why are you scaring the girl, John? Are you finally out of your mind?” Mike turned and tried to apologise to Val, when he suddenly stopped dead in his tracks. His face changed rapidly.

  “Holy crap”, he exclaimed surprised and then remained completely silent, his eyes on Val. He was really looking through her, paying attention, weighting her personality.

  Val begun to feel really scared. With a swift move she freed her hands from John’s. He tried to catch her again, but Val took several steps backwards. The three guys stood next to each other, forming a straight line, with their mouths open, gapping.

  This was a mistake. She wanted to be noticed for once, after all this time, but this… this was totally out of control.

  “Listen, John, I don’t know if your way of flirting is successful with other girls, maybe. It’s certainly… unique. But all this “dream girl” thing is not really my thing, sorry. In fact, I think it’s time for me to get going. I don’t want to be late for work tomorrow.”

 
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