We'd been at Pluto Pizza all of five minutes before I had my camera out and began snapping pictures of the packed place. The noise of people talking over one another was a loud hum that didn't let you understand anything anyone was saying. Everything smelled of garlic and everyone was dressed head to toe in black and orange.
"Hey!" Jason said as he strolled into the pizza place. He slid past a group of juniors and cuddled right up to Jessa. Jessa turned toward me and winked. I didn't know why she liked Jason, he was a slimeball and she didn't even really like him. One of the positives she said about him was that she only saw him on the bus. I didn't get it.
I had the lens up to my eye when a dark figure blocked my view. I pulled back and Leo stood across the pizza place, beside a stack of white boxes, staring right at me. My face was hot as hell and I lowered my eyes. When I glanced up, he was gone.
Across the place, he sat with his lacrosse friends, wearing a solid black eye on his right eye. It was dark purple and red and green near the corner of his eye. The green was so electric is matched his eyes. His nosering was mising.
I wanted so bad to get a closeup shot of his face and the pain that was clearly engraved on it, but he was also the last person on the planet I wanted to catch me snapping a shot. I put the camera in its case and threw it on my shoulder, tucking it under my armpit and turned so I was facing my friends.
Jessa leaned to my shoulder and whispered, "you should definitely hook up with Mike tonight."
"Um, no. He's my friend," I whispered back, throwing her a glare. Across the table was Mike, his arm around Cami, and his other arm around Katy, a sophomore girl who hung out with us a lot. He was cute and all, but I never got a vibe more than friendship from him. Plus, I just wasn't interested.
"I'm not going to let you third-wheel all night long," she whispered, Jason's arm still around her.
"So ditch him." I nodded toward Jason.
"No way. He's getting much better." She shot him an adoring look.
"Then I'll just hang out with Meghan when she gets here, or better yet, I'll head home when you guys go to the game." Oh, god. This night was going to be saved after all. I'd head home, develop these pictures, maybe go for a walk and get some nighttime shots in the woods, totally creepy, but good none-the-less, and then I'd watch a movie with mom and dad.
"Hell no. You're coming. I'll ditch him."
Damn her and her loyal ways.
Jessa grabbed my arm and dragged me out toward the back of the pizza place. A group of extended friends of ours were passing around a stick of black lipstick and orange hairspray. Before I knew what was going on, Jessa grabbed both of my cheeks and drew two solid lines underneath my eyes. Then she took the spray and put it all in my ponytail, making me an orange skunk.
"Thanks a lot," I groaned, checking what I looked like in my phone camera. I was a regular highschool girl at a football game, way overdone.
"Do me now," Jessa said.
"Ha!" Jason laughed, hitting Mike on the arm, who was still surrounded by his two girls. "She told Carley to do her. Ha!"
"What are you ten?" I said, wrinkling my nose. What a dumby. How did Jessa have any interest in him? I was doing her second stripe and got bumped from behind. Before I made a streak down her entire face, I pulled back and fell into a chest.
"Whoops," Leo said as he caught me, grabbing my shoulders and holding me in place. It felt like the air was knocked out of my chest despite the fact that I didn't even fall. His fingers, hot, were touching my shoulder, though not bare, it felt like his skin was on him.
"Sorry," I said, for no reason at all because he was the one who ran into me.
"You should apologize to Carley," Jessa said as Leo let go of me. Her voice snapped me back to real life and I stood up, clutching the lipstick so I could focus on something other than Leo in front of me.
"Carley," he whispered, then walked away without any apology. His breath smelled like smoke and his face looked in worse shape than when I spotted him across Pluto. I couldn't stop staring at his bruised eye. "Don't forget to take a picture!" he called back, to which all his friends laughed at. Sam clapped him on the back and the four of the lacrosse seniors turned a corner, a puff of smoke in their wake.
"So when were you going to tell me that you and Leo have a thing?" Jessa said as she grabbed my elbow and dragged me down the alley a few yards to separate us and our friends. Jason looked upset, like he'd lost his little sex bunny.
"We do not have a thing," I said in a hushed whisper.
"You do too. Did you see the way he looked at you? And what was with that take a picture comment? Please tell me you were not staring. You never look at a black eye dead on."
"What? That's not like a rule or anything."
"Of course it is, Carley. Oh god. You were staring. He's going to think you're so weird."
"I don't care!" I said, stepping back away from her, breaking our little huddle. "He didn't even apolgize and that's like the third time he's run into me and made me feel like I'm the one who did something wrong. He's a jerk."
"But a hot jerk. Those are the best kind of jerks."
"Ugh." her rationale was so wrong and annoying and the topic of Leo was unnerving. he wasn't interested in me and I wasn't interested in him and no matter what, he was out of my league. I was done worrying about Leo Daniels.
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