After school, I worked for the school magazine. It wasn't a paid job, but it would look good on my resume and all I had to do was use the school's terrible camera and take photos for the publication. I only did it in the fall and winter since I had soccer in the spring, so I didn't mind. It was twice a week and most of the time, I liked doing it.
"Hey, Lauren," I said as I put all of my stuff down and grabbed the school camera from a box in one of the tall cabinets. They stored the thing so poorly and it really was barely a step up from a disposable. Our supervisor, Mr. Modena wouldn't let me use my own camera, siting liability reasons and having pictures of students. It was nice practice, though.
"Today, I need you to go down to the field and take pictures of any athletes practicing. No games. I need practices only because I'm writing an opinion piece on the amount of time athletes practice and the things they should be doing instead of practicing. You understand? Make the pictures look angry and uncomforable and mad and make sure the guys are sweaty. Girls love sweat. It'll get them to read the artcile."
Lauren was intense but she ran the best damn paper. We were called The Tiger Press. She loved to write and I thought this was what she wanted to do with her life. She mentioned one time something about traveling and being a journalist in war-zones or something. Often, her rambling got too long and I zoned out.
"Got it." I grabbed a piece of gum, and my camera, just in case I found something real to shoot in my travels, and had my hand on the door to leave, when Lauren stopped me.
"Be back in an hour!"
I nodded and left. I liked being inside of the school when nobody else was around. The halls were empty of any noise or people. It looked sad and barren. But it brought me good feelings. I loved a good black and white photograph of emptiness. It was a weird trait.
I left the school and went down to the fields. We lived in a small rural town and so there was a lot of room for fields. Most of the kids who went here were either into sports or agriculture. I just happened to be a neither. To my left was the baseball field, but it looked like there was a game going on. I kept down the hill and found the football and soccer fields, both were full of guys and girls practicing. Perfect.
First, I sat down at the lowest spot on the bleachers. The football team was by far the sweatiest so I zoomed in and tried to photograph small groups at a time. Surprisingly, I got a really good shot of a coach yelling at Greg Jenkins, who didn't have a shirt on. It was going to make Lauren so excited for both reasons.
I was about to stand up and head back to show Lauren the pictures for her new article when I spotted Leo Daniels, shirtless, on the field, with a group of equally hot friends. They were off to the side on the soccer field, wielding their lacrosse sticks.
I sat back on the uncomfortable wood bench and peered through my lense. He ran with such ease, hardly looking like he was putting out much effort. His dark hair and green eyes were electric under the afternoon sun. It was still chilly. I pulled my cardigan around my shoulders.
Switching my target, my lense flipped from Leo to his friends surrounding him. Mark, Derek, Sam, and Joe were playing with him. The five of the guys made up the starting line of the lacrosse team. I heard that they played off season, too, and did special travel teams that went all around the country. I didn't know how much of it was rumor and how much was true.
I looked back over to Leo and jumped when his eyes were on me. My breath caught in my chest and I immediately lowered my camera and looked back to the football field. I pretended to take a shot of Greg again, but the football team was sitting on their bench having a talk with Coach.
I was totally caught staring at him. My face was as hot as a 400 degree oven and I was now sweating. I stood up, put away my personal camera, and speedwalked back to the room we used for Tiger Press. My breaths were coming so fast I was sure I was going to have a heart attack.
That was so dumb of me to just sit there, the only one on the entire set of bleachers, and blatantly stare at him. He must think I was such a loser, just spying on him all alone. I wanted to throw up I was so embarassed.
"How'd it go?" Lauren asked when I walked into the room. I put the camera on the table, and took a step back, gathering my breath again.
"Got an awesome shot in there," I told her, stowing away my camera in my bag.
"Great. That's what I need to hear. My article is done. Cam is on the sports. Meghan is dealing with the bad meat in the lunch room. We're right on track for being early. Perfect. Yes. Perfect." She was whispering more to herself and I nodded along.
"See you later, Lauren," I said as I threw my bag over my shoulder.
"Yeah, yeah. Bye Carley." She waved over her shoulder as she hunched over the table, looking at a piece of paper littered with words. She was nutty, but so good at her job.
On my way out of the room, I shot a text to my mom. I'm ready now. Can you come get me? I didn't have a car and didn't have any friends with cars so unfortunately, I had to ask my mom or Jessa's mom for rides everywhere. I didn't mind most of the time, it just meant I waited around a lot.
I grabbed my Algebra book from my locker and walked to the front of the school to wait for my mom. When I pushed through the metal front doors, I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding. The parking lot was nearly empty and only a few beat up cars remained. I sat down on the half stone wall and pulled out my camera, checking over my shoulder to make sure I was alone.
The pictures came out great. There was a certain authenticity to Leo that he never showed to people that was present in one picture of him. He looked happy and free and sort of normal--he wasn't so cold.
Honk. Honk. My mom pulled up to the front of the school, honking her horn as if I didn't see her and she wasn't the only car. I laughed as I grabbed my bag and hopped off the wall. She was out of control. I got into the front seat.
"As if you're not the only person pulling in," I said.
"Gotta keep you on your toes. How was school, hunny?"
We looked pretty identical, both had shoulder length blonde hair and green eyes. We had freckles only on our noses and the same dimples only on one cheek. Mom was much prettier than me, but I figured I'd grow into her looks. I was still a bit awkward.
"School was fine," I said as I looked out the window. Leo and his friends were walked up the hill toward the front of the school. He made direct eye contact with me then smirked a half-smile, just like he had done in the hall. And again it felt like he was making fun of me in some way.
"Who's that boy?" Mom asked, nudging my shoulder as she pulled around the parking lot and left.
"Some senior," I answered, fastening my seatbelt. I didn't want to divulge too much since really, he was no-one to me and would never show interest other than to make fun of some invisible thing I'd done. He was a jerk and the more times I actually saw him, the more he began to annoy me. Still, he had a pretty face.
"He was certainly staring at you," Mom said, with clear interest in the matter.
"Not really," I answered, "he ran into me earlier today and I think he's been making fun of me for it. He never really said a word to me. It's a little weird actually."
"I'm sure that's his thing," Mom said, rolling her eyes as she made a left turn toward our cul-de-sac. "He likes you so he's mean to you. You remember when Jimmy Masterson liked you in seventh grade and made fun of you until you cried that day. Immature boys will be mean to tell you they like you. Don't settle for that crap."
"Mom, he's a senior. And way out of my circle," I sighed.
"Hey, what's with the self-depricating mood?"
"Not being insecure. For real. He's almost eighteen, is a star lacrosse player, and doesn't even know my name. I don't like him. He just makes a good subject."
"You took pictures of him? Does he know this?"
"Not exactly..." I laughed and mom laughed too.
"He is cute."
"Okay, okay. Enough about this mean boy. What should we make dad make for dinner?"
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