I couldn't go back now. I didn't have a choice. I told Leo I wanted a look into his life, more out of curiosity than anything else. This was a part of him and I was missing out on it by not diving deeper. I really did like Leo and I wanted to understand him. Why did his moods change so fast and what caused it?
I glanced out my window, trying to figure out how I was going to sneak out. Mom said I couldn't leave and yet, without a second of a thought, I told Leo to come get me. In the pit of my stomach, guilt swarmed. I shouldn't have told him to come. I shouldn't have gotten upset with my mom. But these feelings were happening and I couldn't control myself.
She was my mom. She had to forgive me at some point. She wasn't going to be mad at me forever. I loved her. But I had to figure out Leo. I was considering having sex with him, yet I didn't even know about his family or his life outside of the school. I deserved to know more.
I leapt off the couch as fast as my body would move. I covered my chest and fixed my shirt, pulling it back down over my stomach to cover my belly button. Despite being fully clothed and not doing anything wrong, I felt wrong in the moment. My face was burning hot, red I was sure, and I wanted to cry.
The entrance way to the house was dead silent. Dad shut the door behind him, scooting in next to mom, both just standing beside the stairs, looking at me like it was the first time they saw me. Leo coughed, but I didn't dare look behind me at him. I was focused on my parents and I wanted them to see that.
"Well, you must be Leo," Mom said as she hung her purse on the bannister and extended her hand to him.
"Yes, ma'am," Leo answered, his voice strong, not shaky like I had expected. He was better at controlling himself than I thought. I wondered how many moms he'd met before.
The difference between sitting at a lunch table with my friends and sitting on the back green with Leo were startling. I hadn't really sat down and realized how much I didn't fit in with Jessa, and Cami, and Meghan, and the boys. Sure, I liked them enough. Jessa was the best friend I could ever ask for. But it wasn't me.
Where I sat now was exactly where I wanted to me. Leo made it feel like home. It made that table in the cafeteria feel like another planet. Now that my eyes were opened to a new land, I never wanted to leave.
"Um, hello?" Leo asked as he snapped in my face.
I woke up Monday morning still excited from the weekend. It was a whirlwind on the gossip mill dealing with Jessa and her drama with Jason, but all the time in the back of my head, I was replaying my time with Leo. His moods were so erratic, but at the end of the day, he cared for me and that was why he got upset. I didn't mind that at all.
I was so not excited for school. Now there was no hiding that Leo and I were together, which I didn't mind in the slightest, but I knew people would probably stare at me and wonder how the hell I hooked such a catch like him. I often wondered the same thing.
He was too good for me. He had the world in the palm of his hand. Well, Ridgebury at least. He hung out with jerks like Derek, which was a major negative in my book. But he was a killer athlete and would no doubt get drafted to some high level school. It was good for him.
With much urgency, I pushed Leo out the door and called for Jessa to follow. Her and mom were in the living area, giggling together no doubt at my expense. I didn't want to subject Leo to the two of them when they were all high on gossip. He laughed as I shut the door behind us.
"Don't want me to meet mom?" he asked in a joking tone.
"Not tonight," I answered back, letting out a sigh. "Hi," I said, finally relaxing a bit.
"You look beautiful," he said, stepping toward me and putting his hand on my hip. I leaned into it, loving the warmth of his body near mine. All of my worry from the day vanished in just a moment in his presence.
My phone mostly stayed on vibrate. I would say in my entire life, I never took it off. Over the next few days, I turned the volume up, set customized ring tones and alert tones, and the phone was attached at my hip. Leo asked for my number, yet he hadn't used it yet.
Saturday came around fast and I did my regular routine of catching up on homework and checking my memory cards for new photographs I wanted to print. Usually, I'd start and then lose the entire day in my camera. Today that was not the case.
Every minute dragged. It probably was due to my constant checking of my phone, but I didn't want to admit it. I poked up for air around 2:30 in the afternoon and meandered downstairs for sustanance. My stomach was screaming at me to eat.
Confusion didn't even begin to describe the array of emotions that flooded me the second I left Leo's car. He flipped so fast, going from charming to cold and seemingly over nothing. I made a joke and suddenly he wanted me gone. I had no idea what I did wrong, but there was the distinct ache in my gut that told me it was my fault.
I hated this guilty feeling that swarmed and burned me.
The second I walked into my house, I knew it'd be an ambush. Mom was sitting on the couch with a cup of something steaming on her lap and Jessa by her side. The two were gossiping about who knew what and the moment I walked in, the room silenced. For some reason, this familiar scene annoyed me today.
"Yes?" I asked, dropping my bag near the door. I didn't want to share my very private moment with Leo with my mom and Jessa. It was weird. It felt like they were trying to pry into the relationship that wasn't even a relationship yet. I didn't want to jinx anything.
"Her lips definitely look plumped," Jessa whispered to my mom. She never was a quiet whisperer.
"We kissed, it wasn't a big deal." I shrugged it off and walked past them into the kitchen. I poured myself a mug of the boiling water on the stove and added two spoonfuls of hot cocoa mix. I slow walked back into the family room where I expected more questioning to take place.
Staring at the two pictures of Leo made me depressed. I woke up Monday morning with a splitting headache and a gurgling stomach. I didn't think I was coming down with anything, but I just felt crappy. I peeked out my white shades in the bedroom to decide what to wear. The sun was out, it looked warm, but leaves had begun to litter the ground. I opted for jeans and boots and a plain black t-shirt.
I grabbed my backpack and camera and went downstairs. Dad was missing, but mom was sitting at the table sipping her coffee and reading from her phone. She looked up when I stomped down, her eyebrows pinched in worry.
"What's wrong, Carley?" She stood up and came to me.
My regular Saturday routine was messed up thanks to the football game and busy night chauffering the drunk people home. I slept in until about 11 am and when I went down the stairs, a note greeted me on the kitchen table instead of my parents like they usually were.
At the store. Don't worry about coming in. Take the day for yourself. Love you! -M&D
I was half parts relieved and half parts annoyed that I didn't have to head in for work today. On the plus, I could get all of my photos from the last week developed, but on the other side, I was losing out on money and busy-ness. I wanted to keep busy today and not think about Leo, though our encounter from last night was on a permanent replay in my head.
I fell in love with Leo Daniels faster than you could say Leo Daniels. September 2016, I remember when it happened like it was yesterday. He was the seventeen-year-old, unattainable, lacrosse player who was way out of my league, but one day in the hall, he saw me.
I was fascinated with him, wanting to know why he pushed people away and why he acted so distant at certain times. He was strange and mysterious— and before long, he was mine.
Then we changed. Leo had a life that was foreign to me. In the town of Ridgebury, I was sheltered and accepted, and my family surrounded me with love. But Leo’s life was toxic. And his poison burned into me.
What was I supposed to do? Leave him to avoid what was sure to be a terrible ending, or stay by his side? I deserved better, but so did he. If I stayed, would we lose everything? What was the price of our love?
© Taylor Lavati 2017
What Readers Have to Say...
"An absolutely heart wrenching read that shows us that at times no matter how much we hope, darkness will find its way to win. "
-Blogger's From Down Under for A Reliant Love
"So this book is the ultimate love story. I like how two ordinary people who is so different and still so alike in so many ways can overcome everything together."
-Angelica Berglund for For The Love of Hockey
"I never thought I would read a "zombie book", much less love one. The Last Legacy really surprised me. Even with the whole people-eating-people thing, it was a fantastic book"
-Melannie S for The Last Legacy
"I could not wait to start book two. If this book was as good as book one, then I knew I wouldn't be disappointed. It wasn't as good as book one...it was better. "
-Keely Retchloff for Finding Sam
"The powers, the love, the excitement, the drama kept me so enthralled. If you are looking for a GREAT series about true love and mythology, look no further... I wish I could rate 10 stars! Definitely recommend this whole series to all my book loving friends!"
-The Book Blog for A Curse Books Trilogy
"For the Love of Ash" by Taylor Lavati was a rare 5-star read for me. I honestly find many typical romances rather dull and predictable. This was not the case at all here; there was nothing average about the romance, overall storyline, and the long list of supporting characters."
-Summer's Book Blog for For The Love of Ash
"Wingless isn't what I would normally pick up and read, but thought I'd try it out and I am so glad I did. The characters and "worlds" she creates are done so well that you can actually picture them and feel like you are there right along with the characters."
-JLH for Wingless
For The Love of Hockey | January 2016
The Price of Love | 2017