Today was another day closer to leaving.
Staring up at the sold sign that was perched on our front lawn a sigh fell from my lips. I had lived in Florida for as long as I could remember. This was my home, this was my moms home and I wasn't ready to leave. Being here was the only place I felt close to her.
My mom died shortly after I was born. Bad labour, lots of blood lost. They couldn't save her. I was raised by my grandmother.
"Still staring at that sign I see".
She knew I wasn't big on the idea of leaving. I didn't want to move and have to start all over again. I was happy here, I had friends here, Tommy was here. At 18 I was doing pretty well. I was getting straight As, had a part time job, all in all my life was good.
It was all going to be taken away from me by this time tomorrow. How was I suppose to leave my friends? my boyfriend?.
"Leah you're 18 years old. You'll make new friends, you'll get a new boyfriend. We need this change honey, it'll be good for us".
My gran wasn't Tommy's biggest fan. She always said there was something about him that she couldn't quite put her finger on. Tommy was slightly older but not by much, he was 21, had a car and had the most brightest blue eyes I'd ever seen. Yes he was my first boyfriend.
But deep down I knew I would meet new friends, I would move on and start a fresh. Leaving them behind wasn't my biggest worry.
"I'm afraid I'll lose the connection to her". Being here, being in this house I could feel her with me everyday.
"Leah, sweetheart your mom is in here" She whispered placing her hand against my heart. "She will never leave you no matter where you are in the world. She loved you baby never forget that". With her hands on my shoulders she pulled in for a hug. "How about some hot chocolate and we can watch the sun set?" Pulling back she wiped the tears from my cheeks.
"Okay I'll get the blanket".
Another reason I didn't want to leave, we lived right on the beach. Most nights we'd come out here and watch the sunset together, was kind of our tradition. The beach was my favourite place to go for everything. Listening to the waves crash and feeling the sand between my toes. There wasn't a place quite like it.
Placing the blanket on the sand I slipped my socks off. The view was beautiful. Taking a seat I stared out onto the water.
"Beautiful isn't it?".
"Tommy what are you doing here?". Getting to my feet I looked around for my gran. Again she really didn't like him but she tolerated him for my sake. We had already said our goodbyes, he wasn't suppose to be here. He was just making it harder.
"Can't leave it like this Leah, I can't stop thinking about how after today I won't see you again". Closing the gap between us he slid his arms around my waist.
"Tommy" I whispered as he brought his hand up to wipe my tears. "You shouldn't have come, you're just making it harder".
"I'm sorry baby". As his grip on my waist tightened a voice cleared interrupting our last moment together. "I'll see you again one day Leah, that I can promise you". Placing one last kiss against my lips he turned and walked down the beach in the opposite direction.
Glancing down at the ring on my left index finger a cry fell from my lips. A promise ring that he gave me 6 months into our relationship but I refused to wear it on my ring finger because of bad luck. He was special, he was good and I wasn't going to see him again.
"I'm okay". Wiping at my eyes I cleared my throat. I couldn't dwell on never seeing him again. My gran wasn't going to change her mind. We were leaving tomorrow and there was nothing I could do about it. "I need to pack the rest of my stuff and besides the sunset is over".
Goodbye Florida hello Texas
We had been on the road for a total of 20 hours, stopping every so often for gas and food. As she pulled into the last gas station before our arrival I jumped out so I could stretch my legs.
"Texas isn't so bad" She grinned as I looked about myself. "We're only about half an hour away so I'll pay here you go get some coffee". Handing me some money I headed inside. It might not be so bad but it still wasn't home. Something didn't feel right around here. As I fixed two coffees I heard the chime of the door and instantly the hairs on the back of my neck stood.
My body felt weird.
And then I felt the presence behind me.
My heart was beating abnormally fast, my palms started to sweat.
This was weird.
Straightening my shoulders I stirred in sugar, placed the lids on and with a deep breath I turned around.
No one was there.
Okay I was officially going mad. I could have sworn I felt the presence of another behind me. Shaking it off I headed toward the cashier to pay for my coffee.
"Regular or large?" The girl asked her smile bright.
"2 regular and this" Picking up the twizzlers I got stuck right in. Yeah I had the biggest sweet tooth ever. "Sorry" I grinned "Sweet tooth craving sugar". Suddenly embarrassed I handed over my money and lowered my head.
"That's alright I'm Alanna".
"Leah". Taking my change I lifted my coffee.
"New to town?".
"That obvious?" I asked.
Suddenly I got the feeling I was being watched and not by the girl behind the counter. Again the hairs on my neck stood a shiver going through my body. I was starting to think I was coming down with the cold.
"I have a feeling you'll like it here". She grinned.
Making a face I shrugged my shoulders before heading outside. That was weird. There was definitely something different about this place.
"Twizzlers Leah really?" Closing the car door I grinned. My gran knew how much I was addicted to sugar. Passing her coffee I glanced back at the gas station as we drove away, 4 guys were stood outside staring directly at our car.
Yeah because that wasn't odd.
"I like sugar" I laughed sticking another twizzler in my mouth. I swear sugar was the best thing ever to be invented.
"You won't be saying that when you get cavities" She warned picking up speed. "How are you really feeling about all of this?".
"Ask me that question in about a month". I couldn't tell her how I was feeling because I didn't want to upset her. She thought doing this was the best for us so I was going to try and make it work.
"I know you weren't crazy about this move but I promise you'll love it here. Texas is beautiful, the people are friendly and I think we'll fit in perfectly".
I know she was trying to sell me on it but I still wasn't sure. I had never been big on moving out of our home. It was all I had ever known. I was afraid of having to start over and fit in. I was going to be the new girl everywhere I went.
"I'll try okay but don't push it on me".
As the car started to slow down I became aware of my surroundings.
Trees, trees and more trees.
"Are we living in the forest?"
Laughing she placed her hand on my knee and squeezed. "We'll be there in a few minutes. This is just the way we go".
"Where is all the-.." I fell silent as I started to see houses.
"We live in the middle of nowhere? great". Sighing I ran a hand over my face as she came to a stop in front of a house on the corner. Glancing up at it I smiled when I saw the front bedroom had a balcony, just like my old one.
"That's your room".
I was in awe. The house from the outside looked beautiful but a little old like it had been here for some time.
Okay so maybe I could see myself having a life here.
"It needs a lot of work but I had to buy it".
Stepping inside my heart fell a little. Yeah it looked beautiful from the outside but not so much from the inside. Everything screamed old. The carpets, the furniture and the smell.
"I have contractors coming in a few days. I know it doesn't look like much Leah but we can make a real go of it here. We can decorate it the way we want to, we can make it our home". My gran was happy and right now that's all that mattered.
I had to think of the bigger picture, think of our future.
I wasn't going to throw my toys out the pram over it. Once we made it our own I know it will be perfect.
"Seems really quiet. How far is the nearest beach?" I needed some thinking time and that was my place to do it.
"Missing the beach already?"
"Yes but it can wait. Want me to start unloading the car?". My gran told me I was only to bring the stuff that I really needed. Said she was going to buy everything new. She wasn't rich but she had money.
"You do that honey and I'll see if I can get the heating to work".
No heating either? rolling my eyes I made my way outside to the car. Surely it couldn't get any worse than this. With half my body stuck inside the car I didn't hear anyone approach.
"Need a hand?".
Wait was that....
"You're moving in there?" She asked as I pulled myself out of the car. "You bought that house?". Why did I now have a feeling there was something wrong with it.
"My gran did why?" Kicking the door shut I stared at her. Something felt off about this girl too. I swear my senses were on full alert tonight. "Is there something wrong with it?".
"No of course not its just its been empty for a while. I live down the street with my brother and my parents live a few houses down from us".
"Why has it been empty for so long?" I was curious now.
"Not sure. Here let me help you with that" Taking the box from my hands she made her way up the driveway. I wasn't sure if we were going to be friends or not. Wasn't really sure if I liked her yet.
"Leah I managed to get- oh who's this?" My gran asked taking the box from Alanna.
"Alanna lives a few houses down with her brother. Gran this house has been empty for ages. Are you sure you don't want to look for something else?" I didn't want her to spend all her time and money on this house if something was wrong with it.
"Leah" She warned and that was all I needed to keep my mouth shut. Once she was set on something nothing or nobody could change her mind. "Go empty the rest of the car while I fix us some hot chocolate. I managed to find a kettle". She grinned.
"She seems sweet" Alanna smiled as I grabbed another box. Yes she was sweet but she was also fierce and fearless.
"Thanks for the help but I've got it from here". I couldn't seem to figure this girl out. I wasn't sure if she was being friendly because she wanted something or friendly because we were her new neighbors.
"I don't mind" She shrugged lifting another box. "Besides my idiot brother has friends over and I'd rather not be there".
"How old is your brother?"
"He's 24 but you'd think he was older with the way he acts and he's a bit of an asshole".
"How so?". I was digging but I was curious and I would take any information I could get.
"I'm sure you'll meet him one day and you'll find out for yourself. Now what about you any siblings?".
Making my way back up the drive I stumbled over something and went down. Box up in the air I put my hands down to stop my fall. "Shit" I hissed grabbing my knee. Lifting my jean leg up I hissed when I pulled the stone out that was embedded there.
"Leah are you okay?" Just then I heard various voices.
My hands were bloody and my knee was grazed but I was fine. A little embarrassed but I'll live.
"Need a hand little one?".
"Jake". Alanna warned.
Glancing up a gasp fell from my lips. Who was he? and why didn't he have a shirt on. Was I dreaming? Our eyes were glued to each others, it was like I couldn't look away.
"Now is that anyway to speak to your older brother Alanna?". He finally broke the stare and I felt like an idiot.
4 guys were stood outside my house shirtless. It was freezing.
I think I might have hit my head on the way down too.
Wiping my hands off on my jeans I got to my feet. Everything that was in the box was now lying all over the drive. Groaning I grabbed the box and went about collecting my things.
"Jake just go away please". She begged.
But he didn't he stood in the same spot and just stared. He was staring at me and I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable.
That disappeared when I noticed what he was holding.
He held in his hands my moms blanket. It was old and rugged but it was special to me. I didn't let anyone touch it afraid it would somehow fall a part and here this arrogant son of a bitch was holding it like it was a dirty old rag.
"Jake" Alanna hissed.
I was to busy staring at the blanket. If he did anything to it I would claw his eyes out.
"Leah what is going on out here?" My gran asked as she came outside. Her eyes instantly fell onto the blanket. "Young man I believe you're holding something very personal to my Leah here. Give it". Her voice was stern and held authority.
"I apologise ma'am" Handing it over to my gran I grabbed it before she could even touch it. Bringing it to my face I inhaled deeply. I didn't care that they were watching.
"Come on inside honey, the rest can wait until tomorrow. Alanna you're more than welcome to join". She didn't need to tell me twice.
She was right her bother was kind of an asshole.
"Now girls take a seat I'll heat the hot chocolate up".
"I'll be back my phones in the car".
Opening up the glove box I retrieved my phone and locked the car back up. What I didn't expect was for her brother to be waiting at the bottom of the drive. How did I not hear or see him approach? Tightening the blanket around my shoulders I stopped a few feet away from him.
"Alanna is still inside I'll send her out". As I went to walk by he reached out and grabbed my wrist. He wasn't harsh about it, it didn't hurt but that didn't mean I was okay with it.
"Little one" He growled.
I was struggling to free my wrist. Who was this guy?
"Please let me go". I whispered but he had other ideas. He pulled me flush against him burying his head in my neck. He inhaled deeply.
What the hell was going on?
"Fuck baby" He hissed. "You smell like the ocean".
I was scared. My body was tense.
"You don't have to be afraid of me little one". His voice was like velvet.
I wasn't aware that I had closed my eyes but by the time I opened them he was gone. I was officially creeped out.