Cursed, p.4
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       Cursed, p.4

         Part #1 of The Devils Roses series by Tara Brown
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Page 4


  My skin lifted with a shiver as I closed my eyes and let the wind surround me. I knew people made fun of the fact that I would go and sit on the side of the road, beside the tree where I’d made the mark.

  The fact that my mom hadn’t died anywhere near the tree made me the town weirdo. In truth, though, someone had died there. I had, which was why I haunted it.

  Twenty-eight hundred people populated the little seaside hamlet of a town. In Port Mackenzie, everyone noticed when Don James's quiet daughter sat on the side of the road, talking to a tree.

  I looked at the mark on the tree and felt a slight bit of shame for hurting it that way. There, in the torn bark and skin of the tree, my blood made a cross. I had pulled and ripped the bark in a panic, cutting my hands up, so I would never lose the spot.

  I was surprised that the blood hadn’t washed away in the winter rains. The tree held onto enough color that I could always find it. The bloodstain was old and brown, but if you knew where to look, you could see the faint outline of the cross. Perhaps the tree knew I needed it. I smiled at the mark, grateful that someone understood me.

  I sat there staring at the mark, realizing I had come a long way in the months since her death. I knew that soon I would be normal again. I could feel it. My heart would be healed soon.

  Blake was part to blame with his funny sarcastic ways, which cheered me up, even when I resisted. I smiled, thinking about him distractedly. I wondered if we would ever become lovers or if we would just get married. I knew we were perfect for each other. It just made sense. If truth be told, all that stood in the way of us being together was our inexperience with the opposite sex.

  I had wanted a boyfriend a while before my mom's accident. I wanted something romantic like an Austen novel. After her death, I wasn’t certain I could face the feelings I had without my mother to advise me.

  I betrayed my pact not to cry at her spot, as tears dripped down my cheeks. I wasn’t sad for my loss but for the peace and fun I'd been experiencing.

  “Mom, I can’t fight it much longer. I can’t stay sad forever. I’m trying to honor you and I know this isn’t what you would have wanted, but I don’t know how else to see you. ” I heaved. “I see Alise so happy and normal and I hate her. If I’m not sad, do I miss you the same amount?”

  I let the tears fall. I stared down at the cement, trying to see the design my splashed tears made on the concrete. I felt a cool wind twirl around me. It felt like the winds of change would, refreshing and energizing. I knew my mom would want me to be happy.

  I stood up, feeling blood rushing back into my legs with painful pins and needles. “Love you, Mom. See you soon, okay?”

  When I got home my sister pouted in the corner, with a face that could devastate a coastline. Our father had put her on restricted party attendance for a month. Alise hadn’t been to a party in four weeks, which no doubt affected her most-popular girl in school status. Our father was a marine biologist, so his sympathies didn’t lie with social standing.

  Her big silver eyes glistened as if she had been crying. It wouldn’t have surprised me if she had. She would pull out all the stops to get her way. Even at eighteen, I had seen fainting, holding breath, screaming, not talking to people for months on end, refusal to eat or drink, and many, many more dramatics. It always seemed to be in the pursuit of her eternal happiness, which only ever lasted about an hour.

  I rolled my eyes as my sister's gaze fixed on me. Instantly, I could see the cogs begin to move as the desperation clicked into action. I witnessed an evil plan, formed in the mind of the feeble but wicked scheming brat, come to life. Seeing my sneer, she shifted gears.

  I watched as the façade crept across her face. I hated getting dragged into her schemes. Watching her had a similar feel to watching the weather change.

  She smiled her prettiest smile at me. “There's a party tonight, at Shane’s house. It’s going to be a huge party, Aimes—a fun party. Come with me? It's senior year. Come on. Pretty pleeeasse. How can the girlfriend not be at the party? This could end our relationship. He could cheat on me, or think I’m lying about not being allowed, and think I’m cheating. My love life depends on this party. ”

  My heart dropped. Of course, that was why Shane had asked me to go to his party. It hurt but I knew it made sense. He wanted his girlfriend at the party. For a smart girl, I was dumb when it came to flirting, obviously.

  I squeezed my lips together and thought about Blake. Blake was the one who was right for me.

  She begged on her hands and knees and pouted her perfect-glossed lips at me, like I was a boy under her spell. Her silver eyes sparkled, as she batted her lashes like butterfly wings.

  I felt the disgust on my face. “You know I’m a girl, right?”

  “Hardly, with what you're wearing, Aimes. ” Alise sneered at me. Noticing the look of revulsion on my face, she shifted back to batting her eyelashes at me.

  I had to confess, the idea of being at Shane’s house did make my heart ache.

  I rolled my eyes at her again. “Your pouty lips and eyelashes do nothing for me. ” I grabbed a cookie and some chocolate soymilk. “Besides, I have plans tonight. ” It was raid night in my guild.

  I finished my snack and walked to the counter in the kitchen to put my empty glass down on the bar.

  I could see her eyes twitching as her poor simple brain worked overtime. She tried, in desperation, to come up with a bargaining chip.

  I imagined the poor little hamster that moved the thoughts around inside her mind was in there, gasping for air on his little wheel.

  “Aimee, I can’t go without you. I'll do your laundry and be nice to you for a month. Even at school. ”

  I squeezed my lips together, contemplating the possibility. My brain ran through the possibilities and scenarios involving her doing both those things. It seemed like a winning situation. I could see Shane and have my laundry done.

  I nodded and ignored the sick feeling of making a deal with the devil. “Ok deal, but you have to be nice to me and Blake for a month, and do my laundry according to washing instructions, and drive me anywhere I want. And I want drink service tonight, nothing nasty or filled with booze, but good drinks all night, handed to me from your hand to mine. And I’m bringing Blake tonight, and you have to drive us to the party, as you would any other friend. I'm not riding in the trunk. ”

  Alise stuck her hand out, excited. “Deal. ”

  I walked past her, sneering at her hand. “Like I would touch that hand. Please, I know where your hands go. Besides, you have no honor. I will draw up a contract and I’ll tell Blake to be ready for eight. ” I imagined she would want it signed in blood, like all evil demons.

  She laughed. “You’re a bitch, Aimee, a funny bitch. Eight sounds like it’s on. ” She jumped up and down excited. I had sold my soul to the devil.

  "Keep pissing me off and I'll make you sign it in blood. "

  I went to my room to decide on an outfit for the night. I wanted to go to the party. It was a new feeling, not ‘since my mom's accident’ new, but since forever. I had never been the party type.

  I wondered if being at a party would help Blake loosen up, or if he would be cranky all night long. Would he even want to come with me? If he came, would he at least try to kiss me? I had it planned out from the kiss. I just didn’t know how to get us there. I imagined we would kiss and then we could start our courting before university. My heart didn’t beat any faster at the idea of kissing Blake, but I knew we loved each other.

  I had never been kissed and it seemed like the most amazing experience when it happened in books or the movies. The idea of kissing Blake didn’t make me feel like the world would stop to give notice to our kiss, but I knew he was right for me. One side of me was reasonable and the other was romantic, just like my parents.

  I just didn’t know which side should win in the case of romance. Alise always seemed to be i
n love based on her heart's decisions, and that never panned out—ever.

  I looked at myself in the mirror and pictured myself in a ball gown. My dress would be soft lavender-colored and my hair would be in an up-do. I reached behind and made a bun with my hair. I could see myself, ready for the ball. I closed my eyes and imagined Blake in a tux, but he wasn’t Blake. It was Shane, standing tall and handsome and putting a hand out for me. I put a hand out, trying to ignore the ridiculous smile crossing my lips.

  My heart ached again. I opened my eyes to see a flushed face looking back at me in the huge stand-up mirror. There was an awfully guilty look on the face of the girl in the mirror.

  I put my hand down and turned to face reality. Shane liked my sister and barely knew I existed, except as a tutor or the sister of the girl he dated. No biggie. As Mr. Collins would have said, 'Blake was a very agreeable alternative. ' Blake was my soul mate, or at least the mate of my mind, which I felt was more important in the long run.

  I turned and went to my closet to start getting ready. My closet was bleak, or rather black. It seemed some time ago, I had gone through everything and removed all of the color and joy from my closet.

  I groaned and grabbed a black pair of skinny jeans and a dark-blue sweater. I changed and looked at my reflection with a smirk. My sister was right, which had never happened, our mom would freak if she were here.

  My long, blonde hair hung around my gaunt face. My eyes had dulled to a lifeless grey, with no zest or expression. My skin seemed not just white, but powdered and flat. I looked skinnier than ever and my skinny jeans looked ridiculous, hanging off of my body.

  I couldn’t help but worry about the girl in mirror. Her once perky nose looked a little big on her face, which had grown horridly thin. Her full lips looked chapped and peeling. I grimaced at the girl. Not kissable. Her eyebrows looked like they needed a little weed whacking and her hair was stringy.

  I truly looked like a Goth. I couldn’t deny it.

  “Oh my God—you're not wearing that! Take that off. I will be right back. ” Alise was in and out before I could register what had happened. Without warning, she stripped the clothes off of me. She tore off the sweater and pulled on a pink t-shirt, without caring how rough she did it. The long t-shirt had red lips down low on the left side. She undid my jeans to tear them off, as she knocked me to the bed and pulled at them.
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