My heart was racing and my stomach was knotting itself over and over again that an uncomfortable thickness was solidifying. I ached and hurt and even worse than that, I was confused. Leo seemed upset, then sad again, then furious, then he kissed me, then he was mad and told me to stop taking pictures of him.
I lifted my fingers to my lips and sure enough, they were still wet from Leo. My lips were throbbing, but so was the rest of my body. A rhythmic hum was coursing through my veins after the encounter with Leo. I was standing though my legs were numb.
What just happened?
I didn't want to head back down to the game that was probably not even half over. What if I saw Leo again? Would he laugh in my face or give me that look with his eyes that screamed there was more to him? I was probably just reading into it, but him asking if I knew something made me a hundred times more curious than I originally was.
My feet moved yet my body felt like it was floating. I had just experienced my first real kiss and it was nothing like I had expected. When I dreamt of finding the perfect first boyfriend, Leo Daniels wasn't even on the radar. And a kiss like that was meant for someone who had experience.
He commanded control in every aspect of our talk and kiss. He grabbed my hand and dragged me, asking questions he wanted answered. As he looked through my camera, I felt violated, like he saw into me instead of visa versa. It was stripping.
Meghan wasn't where I had left her. I kept walking down the trail back to underneath the bleachers where the group of drunkies was. Megahn was in the crowd. She waved and ran up to me, her eyes wide and wild, with a million and one questions in them. She took my hand and pulled me a little ways away from the group, out of earshot.
"Um, care to explain?"
"Not really," I said, mentally drained. I looked around, trying to find him in the crowds, but it was halftime according to the amount of people out of their seats and lack of announcer over the speakers. People were smushed body to body.
She was clearly offended that I wouldn't tell her and I felt terrible. "He caught me taking a picture of him earlier at Pluto," I said. "He took my camera and erased them and then sort of told me off. I didn't even see where he walked off to."
"He went back down to those lacrosse guys. He seemed pissed, though." Meghan had recovered nicely and was back to normal.
"Yeah, he definitely wasn't happy." I shook my head. In reality, I didn't understand what he was feeling. Was he pissed or just annoyed or confused, too? I couldn't read the guy.
"Well, no worries." She waved her hand. "I'm sure nobody else noticed you two walking off."
"Oh god," I groaned, hoping that she was right. "Please don't say anything. It really wasn't a big deal and I do not want to the in the heart of that gossip train."
"Aren't you going to tell Jessa? I'm sure she'll spread it."
"I actually don't think I am. Nothing happened, you know? Why make it into a big thing?" I shrugged.
"I totally agree. Lips are sealed," she said, doing the twisting key gesture and all. "Let's go find our annoying friends." She linked arms with me and we rejoined with the group. They were blabbering on about Tinsley and some guy. Meghan and I missed the entire beginning of the conversation so I had no idea what else was said.
"He definitely disappeared for a solid fifteen minutes. That's enough to get a handy, maybe more," Cami said.
"With Tinsley, definitely more," said Jessa.
"Look, he's already over there again," Mike said, putting his arm around my shoulders beside Cami. He leaned very heavily, like I was his support beam with Cami on the other end. He smelled like pure vodka and cherry cigarellos. It was not a good combo in my mind.
I follow all of their gazes to the group of lacrosse guys that included Leo and Derek. Were they talking about Leo? I had a perfect vantage of him from this far away, though his back was to me. I imagined the smirk on his face.
"Look at his pants. They look like they were undone," Jessa said, inspecting him.
Meghan glanced at me with a wide smile that didn't hide a thing. I laughed, but stifled the sound. We knew what really happened and I found it extra funny because this was exactly how off base rumors were. If they really knew that I had been with Leo, they'd fall to the ground.
Meghan drove everyone home in two shifts. She took the group of guys plus Cami to their side of town first while the rest of us, me, Jessa, Mike, and Jason waited for the second round. It was getting very cold and I didn't wear a long sleeve shirt. Mike put his arm around me again near the parking lot and truthfully, I let him because his body was warm. We were all dead silent.
About fifteen minutes later, Meghan pulled up. The two of us got out Jason and Mike who were both mostly sober by now and looked like they had passed out. Mike's mom woke up when we left him in the bedroom and immediately started to scream at him. She thanked us for getting him home safe.
Jessa was a bit harder to get inside, though her house was empty, she was purely dead weight in our arms. With her leaning on me and Meghan holding her arm, we lifted her into the house and plopped her on the couch. There was no way in hell we were getting her up the stairs to her bedroom.
"I can walk home, don't worry about it," I told Meghan as I began to take off Jessa's shoes.
"You sure?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm like two houses down. Really. No worries. Get home, it's late."
"Okay, thanks," she said. "I had fun with you tonight. Sober bitches for life," she said, holding up her first for me to bump it. I did and smiled. She let herself out and when the door banged, I let out a sigh. I was so damn tired and just wanted to climb into bed.
I finished putting Jessa down and left two advil and a glass of water on the coffee table for her hangover she'd definitely have in the morning. My poor Jessa. Though this was a fairly normal routine, I felt sorry for her at times. She didn't have a solid family, and when her parents were in town, they were always preoccupied with work and each other.
Her life wasn't easy and I felt like it was my job to make sure she was happy. I tucked her in with a fluffy throw blanket and locked up using the key underneath their tulips to make sure she was safe. Her "nanny" would be in around 7 so I knew she was fine.
Now that I was alone, I dwelled on the kiss and Leo and fell asleep in my bed thinking of his sad green eyes.
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