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.
After taking a shower, eating a bowl of peach oatmeal, and downing a cup of coffee, I packed up my camera and two memory cards and walked over to Jessa's. I let myself in and found her in the exact spot I had left her last night except the cup of water was on its side on the maroon carpet and the Advils were missing.
I sat on the edge of the couch and pat her back. "You awake, Jessa?" She groaned and rolled over, giving me her back. Her hair was matted to her head from sweat. The mascara from last night had run down her cheeks to her chin. She looked a hot mess.
"Come on. Let's get you into a shower." She groaned again, but sat up. Her body swayed and she caught herself on the couch cushion, stabalizing what I imagined to be her spinning head. With the help of my arms, she made it up the stairs and into the shower.
While she showered and sobered up, I went downstairs to make her a coffee and something to eat. Her nanny, Swilda, was a tall German woman who had been with the family for as long as I could remember. She had aged dramatically since I first met her. While her hair used to be dark, dark brown, it was now salt and pepper with more salt. She had lengthy crows feet that extended beyond her hairline.
"Good morning!" I said as I entered the kitchen, greeting Swilda.
"Morning sweet Carley. Coffee?" she asked, holding up the already brewed pot.
"No, thanks. But if you could make one for Jessa, that'd be great," I said, sitting down on a stool at their granite counter. "Is there anything frozen Jessa can eat, too."
"Yes, yes. Let me whip something up." She spun around and raided the refrigerator, pulling out a bag of frozen sausages, a carton of eggs, and some potatoes. "What happened last night?" she asked as she turned on the burner and began unwrapping the food.
"We went to the football game," I said. Truthfully, I wasn't sure how often Swilda actually spoke to Jessa's parents and how much she told them. I never would want to get Jessa in trouble by saying she drank, but Swilda wasn't dumb so she knew something was up. We beat around the bush a lot, but I think it was a mutual understanding.
"Go help her. Food will be done in five minutes. Then I drive you to town, okay?"
"How'd you know I wanted to go to town?" I asked, a bit amazed by her insight.
"You have your real best friend around your neck." She pointed to my shoulder where my camera lay flat against my chest. I smiled at her and then ran up the stairs to help Jessa. She was already out of the shower and looking more human than when I had left her.
"What happened last night?" she asked in a whisper as she threw on a pink cashmere pullover.
"Nothing. But you wanted to have sex with Jason. I stopped that."
"WHAT?" she yelled, dropping her black leggings on the ground and spinning to face me. "No I did not. Holy shit, Carl. What?"
"Calm down," I said with a smile, pushing her back to sit on her bed so she didn't keel over and seriously hurt herself. "You didn't do anything more than kiss him and touch his ass very aggressively."
"I touched his ass?" She covered her face with her hands and screamed out in agony. "Was it completely embarassing?"
"Everyone else was drunk so I'd say nobody, especially Jason, will remember too much."
"Thank god for that," she sighed in relief. "Wait, I thought you were drinking?" she asked, her perfect eyebrows quirking up.
"I drank a little, but nothing like you all." I shrugged.
"How did I get home?" she asked, finally mustering enough strength to get her leggings on. Though her feet were still wet from the shower so she struggled quite a bit.
"Meghan was sober so she drove us back."
"Thank god for you two."
"Yep!" I answered back.
"Are you staying over?" she asked, though from her exhausted expression, I could tell she didn't really want me to.
"No, just checking in and borrowing Swilda for a second. She made you breakfast and there's coffee downstairs. Eat it before you go back to bed."
"You're a lifesaver, Carls. For so many damn reasons." She hopped off her bed and wrapped her skinny arms around my neck. I hugged her back. "Come by later and we can go that Algebra study sheet."
I met up with Swilda downstairs who had finished cooking all the food and made scrambled eggs with scalloped potatoes. The burner was on low and everything smelled really yummy, like spicy eggs, which were one of my favorites.
"Walgreens?" she asked, and I nodded.
The car ride into town was quiet but comfortable. It was only a five minute drive and would've been even shorter if not for the many stop signs along the way. I hopped out of the small Honda and waved goodbye.
I beelined for one of my favorite places to go. The Walgreens was located on the corner of Main and Hamilton and was pretty small for being a chain. The manager, Shawn, was a local who let me use their photo equipment as long as I paid for any supplies I used, like paper or ink. Most of the time he wouldn't even accept my money. He just asked that I help train the new hires in photo and clean the equipment, little things like that. It was no sweat off me and if anything, I was getting the better end of the deal. Their photo printing eqipment was flawless.
I always stopped at the front to let whoever was working register that I was here. "Hi, is Shawn in today?"
"Yeah, he's in the back," the girl said. She looked to be my age, and not happily working on a Saturday afternoon. She was popping her bubblegum making annoying little clicks and her nametag read Kim.
"Okay, thanks," I said.
The photo area was near the front of the store and I went straight behind the counter and dropped my things. The equipment was all turned off so I went from printer to the two monitors and hit their power buttons. It took a second for everything to warm up so I flipped through my camera, perusing all the photots.
"Carley!" Shit. I jumped in my seat, so immersed in the pictures that I didn't even notice Shawn appear in front of me. "Woah, someone's jumpy."
"You just scared me," I said, clutching my camera. I would've been so mad if it fell to the ground.
"Good news. I think I have a new hire coming in for photo soon. You available for that training?"
"Definitely," I said. "That's great! Just let me know when."
"Will do," he said. He turned, but then spun back around. "By the way, there's a photo order that's due at 12. You think you can rush it before you start your own work?"
"Sure, no problem," I said, happy to help him with developing and printing the pictures. I truly didn't mind and it gave me something more to do today. Like I said before, he helped me way more and it was the least I could do.
I hurried through the photo order but made sure that the pictures were cropped properly and looked nice. I took pride in my work, even if the pictures were just a bunch of one year olds at some birthday party. They'd keep them for a long time and they deserved some good photographs. I got up and handed them to Kim, who was still chomping away behind the register.
Finally, I could relax and do my own pictures. I uploaded them first onto the first computer. I had three-hundred-and-seven pictures from the week, which was lower than normal. About half would be throw away and then I'd eliminate the ones that are too similar from eachother. I'd probably only end up printing about a hundred and editing and blowing up five. I was too much of a perfectionist.
Instead of going through my entire group of pictures, I found myself scanning the rolls for Leo. The first time I saw him in the photographs was in the lacrosse pictures. He was with Derek and a few others and they were on the field. These were from when I did the Tigers Press pictures.
He was happy in these, unlike the other photos of him. There was one candid of him and Derek and they were bumping fists, both sweating and faces red. He had a sort of spark in his eye that wasn't always there--or even there half the time. He seemed to be in his element.
I fast forwarded more photographs until the exact one I was looking for appeared. I couldn't beleive it. My heart was racing because I had thought Leo deleted all the pictures. He told me not to take more of him and yet he left these extremely vulnerable ones. It made no sense at all.
He was sad. There was no other explanation to it. His eyes were deep and glassy and were telling me something. There was a message that I couldn't quite read. It made him mysterious and compelling. I wanted to know what he was thinking in this exact moment. Why did he look sad? What made him appear this way? And why was I the only one to see it?
I blew the picture up and edited it to be black and white except for his eyes. I reverted it back to the original because truthfully, the picture needed no editing whatsoever. It told the story int he exact way it was photographed and I didn't want to mess with it.
I printed the picture of him playing with Derek, his face a profile and zoomed in so it was just Leo. Then I printed the sad picture, both at 8X10. I printed the rest of Leo and a few randoms, but didn't feel like going through them anymore. I just wanted to look at the ones I already had.
When I felt good enough to leave, I unplugged my camera and uploaded the pictures onto my flash drive. I cleared my memory cards, put them back into my camera case, and packed up. I didn't see Shawn anywhere so I left without saying goodbye.
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