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.
And here I was. A year younger. I wasn't really good at soccer, I took pictures--which wouldn't amount to much--and was stuck. It was awful to look far into our relationship when it was only September, there was at least a year left, and we'd just started dating, but the thoughts kept crossing my mind.
I made more effort than normal to look nice today. The weather had warmed and it was supposed to hit 60 today so I opted in for a dress with knee high riding boots and a jean jacket. I left my hair down and makeup to a minimum, I didn't want my efforts to be too obvious.
"We've been missing each other all weekend, Carley! Sit and tell me about your big party," Mom said as I came down the stairs, camera and backpack in hand. I put them both on the sofa and then sat down at the counter in the kitchen.
"It was okay. Just a bunch of drunk people running around. Jessa had a meltdown," I said, taking a bite of cinnamon toast.
"And this boy...? Tell me about the date with him." She leaned on the counter, placing her head in her hands. She was relentless.
"I definitely wouldn't call it a date. There was other people there the whole time. But it was good. He got really jealous when I was hanging out with Mike and was all mad," I told her.
"Really? Jealous how?"
"He just sulked off and was all grumpy. I had to go find him and reassure him that Mike was just a friend."
"He should trust you, but your relationship is still new. He was probably testing the waters."
"No, I know," I said, nodding with what mom said. "At least it showed me he cares."
"He could show you other ways."
"He does." I tried to hide my smile, but she caught it fast. "Yeah, we kissed," I said, my face lighting up bright red.
"Ooh, sweetie! Tell me all about it!" She squealed with excitement.
I glanced down at my phone and saw that I was going to be late if I talked to her much longer. "I can't now. After school, okay?" I took another bite of the toast.
"Deal," mom said, leaning forward and kissing my cheek. "I think someone's waiting outside for you, by the way."
"What?" I leapt from the counter and darted across the room to the window. Sure enough, Leo's beat up car was sitting at the curb, him inside of it. "Why didn't you tell me!?"
"He could sweat it out a bit," she sang with a grin.
"You're genius. Bye mom!" I waved as I grabbed my bag and camera and left the house. I walked slow, not wanting to seem to eager to see Leo, but I was. I was totally excited that he was here because I missed him.
I tapped on the glass and he leaned across the seats, unlocking the manual lock on the door. I pulled it open and jumped into the car, sliding in. I literally could not stop my smile from spreading wide across my face.
"Hi," I said, putting my bag near my feet on the floor.
He didn't say a word. He leaned toward me, grabbed the back of my head with his big hand and kissed me. I shut my eyes and let him lead us, sweeping me into an alternate reality where we could stay forever. My stomach was spinning and my body was reacting, swelling and heating up from his rushed touches.
He pulled back and stared at me, his deep green eyes looking electric in the early sun.
"I missed you," I told him as he smiled at me.
"Click," he said, taking a picture with his hands as the frame. "You look pretty. And I had a lonely Sunday without you."
"What'd you do?" I asked as he started the car.
"Oh, um...Nothing. Shit around the house. Homework." He shrugged as he pulled down my road, passing my school bus. I tried to look on and see if Mike and Jason were on yet, but couldn't see that high. Oh god. I'd forgotten about Jessa.
Was she waiting for me? I looked over my shoulder, but Leo had already turned down the next street. She didn't text me so I wasn't sure if she was waiting for me. We took the bus together every day. She was going to be so mad at me for ditching her. But I didn't plan it. I didn't know that Leo was coming to bring me to school. I would have told her.
"What's going on over there?" Leo asked as I picked at my nails, my mind rolling with guilt. He took my hand in his and squeezed.
"Nothing. Just thinking."
"Good thoughts?" he asked.
I pushed any thoughts of Jessa away, knowing I'd apologize later. "Always."
After parting ways with Leo, I sprinted to my locker. The bell before first period hadn't rung yet so I knew to get to her locker, Jessa would have to pass mine first. As I got my books, I kept jerking my head to look over my shoulder, wanting to apologize faster rather than later. But she didn't show.
Defeated and feeling like a shitty friend, I walked to my first class. Mr. Fiora gave us back out tests from the past week and my 92 didn't even make me feel better. I was a terrible friend, just jumping into Leo's car without checking in with Jessa.
However a part of me wasn't guilty. In second period, my mind continued to be stuck on this Jessa guilt and I started to feel like maybe I shouldn't feel bad. She wasn't my boss or my master. If I wanted to get to school my own way then I was perfectly allowed to. I didn't have to check in and make sure my transportation methods were okay with her. If she had gotten a ride with Jason then I wouldn't have gotten upset.
Yeah, it wasn't a big deal. I had no reason to apologize to her.
The bell rang for lunch and my stomach plummeted. No matter how much I had convinced my mind that I had no reason to feel guilty, I still did. I grabbed my bag from the floor and dragged my feet down the hall into the cafeteria. I felt like I was going to throw up my breakfast.
Jessa was sitting at the table with a bunch of the girls, more than usually sat with us. She was laughing, covering her mouth with her hand. The joke or whatever she was laughing at must've been really funny. I decided to walk up then, when she appeared to be in a good mood.
"Hey, guys," I said as I sat down beside Jessa at the end of the table, the same place I sat every day since being in high school. We were creatures of habit. Jessa looked over at me, gave me her fake smile, and then said something to Cami. Both smirked.
"Have a busy morning?" Jessa asked in a whisper.
"No, not really," I said, pulling out my water bottle and taking a swig.
"Too busy to text your best friend," she leaned over and whispered so only I could hear. I looked across the table and Cami and Meghan were talking to Riley, a random girl who would sit with us sometimes, about a party coming up on Friday night. They were oblivious to Jessa and me, probably by Jessa's request.
"It was a surprise that Leo came by. I didn't have a chance to text you." I really didn't want to say the words I'm sorry. I didn't want to cave to her and let her be the bigger man and get me feeling all sorry for myself and her. She had nothing to be mad about.
"Okay. Now I know how it is." She flipped her hair over her shoulder, making me feel like our conversation was done and I was worthless. She was making me feel this terrible. Not anyone else. Jessa. My best friend.
"Jessa come on." I nudged her shoulder so she'd revert her attention back on me. "I got swept up and forgot to text you. I'm sorry." And there it was. I caved to her.
"That's all I wanted." She turned back to me, a smile on her face, like nothing at all happened. "You better not pick him over me again."
"It's fine, really. I know you didn't mean it."
"So wait until you hear this," Jessa said, waving her hand like she was painting a picture. "Kyle is holding a major rager on Friday and we're going. We have to show up at like 9, not too early and not too late..."
She dove into the itinerary for the weekend, what we were wearing to Kyle's party and other nonsense that I really didn't give two rats about. I was getting really tired of her stories and having to play into her. She was my best friend, but I felt like I was changing. Why did her voice bother me so much right now?
It was so whiney and pathetic. She sounded like a valley girl who thought she had friends, but really was alone. That was awful to think because Jessa wasn't a richy rich girl. I mean, she was, but she had other things going on. It was tough to not see her family.
I tuned out the conversation at the table and spotted Leo near the food line. I didn't know if he saw me yet, so I stared at me, watching him move alone, grab a bag of chips, grab a water. He stood in the line, bobbing his head to the beats coming from his earbuds.
Without giving it a thought, I grabbed my water and my bag and darted up from the table. I didn't say a single thing to the girls I was sitting with. Trying not to seem too pathetic, I speed walked across the cafeteria, weaving between the tables. I stopped next to Leo.
He tugged an earbud out of his left ear and bent down to me. He kissed me right on the lips and threw his arm around my shoulders. "Miss Carley," he said, kissing my cheek again like he couldn't get enough of me. I loved it and my heart was racing out of my chest, trying to jump ship.
"I missed you," I said as I leaned against his side.
"Same. Wanna eat together?"
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