I ditched my shorty shorts for my ripped jeans. Despite the fact that it was only September, today felt more like November with a chill in the air and leaves fluttering all around. I didn't feel like spending the day on freezing plastic seats that coated my legs in goosebumps. Ridgebury High didn't have a strict dress code, but I dressed modestly to begin with. Before leaving in my jeans and a white tee which donned the saying "Stay Focused" with a tiny camera above it, I grabbed a blue cardigan in case the school was unusually frigid.
Typically the school was mild at best, but sometimes they'd blast the air in the winter and raise the heat in the summer, which left us all just miserable. Connecticut weather was mild enough to not really need much air control. Needless to say, I typically packed for all occasions.
Before I left my purple room covered in black and white stills, I grabbed my Nikon baby from the top of my best and hrew it over my shoulder, hanging it by the purple and black chevron strap. I loved taking pictures, mostly landscapes and still lifes of my friends and objects and animals. So...yeah. I guessed I liked taking pictures of anything really. I didn't do anthing with them. It was more of a personal hobby that brought peacefulness as I printed the photographs and remembered why I took the photo.
Yesterday I printed a photo I took when walking to school with my best friend Jessa. Two young kids, probably eleven, or around that age, were sitting on the curb at what I assumed was their bus stop. One was writing in his notebook and the girl was leaning over his shoulder, watching him. She looked so interested in a harmless way. She reached into her bag and grabbed a twix. I photographed the exact moment she split one in half and handed it to the boy. It was pricelss and easily hopped onto my mental favorite pictures life.
I was just shutting the door to my house. I jumped, surprised by Jessa's perky screech. She usually held us up with how long it took her to get ready in the morning. Most days I grabbed breakfast and sat on the curb, waiting on her. She had her beautiful brown hair that went all the way down to her waist to primp and her makeup which, while it looked amazing, took way too much effort in my opinion.
I was more simple with plain features. I had dirty blond hair that was easy to straighten in five minutes. I wore eyeliner and mascara but that was about it. I'd rather rush out to practice my kicks or sleep in than spend an hour on hair and makeup just for school.
Jessa was a different kind of girl. She needed her brown smokey eyes and cherry red lipgloss. Every single day she curled her hair to make perfect beach-like waves. She loved her headbands, especailly the sparkly ones which I was guilty of borrowing all of the time. But her outfits and looks had a theme. I could immedaitely tell every day the kind of mood she was in based on how she looked.
Today she was sporting the I-love-life-and-I-want-a-boyfriend look. Way too perky for me.
"Someone is in quite the mood today," I said as she skipped up my from walk to meet me just outside of my parent's house. Her pink sundress matched the shade of pink on her lips, and the headband in her hair was a huge pink flower. She was wearing cute gladiator sandals that tied below her knee. She looked like she was going to freeze to death.
"I didn't sleep to well last night so I figured I'd start my day early. I already ate, too." She hip-checked me as I walked by her toward the street. She fell into line with me. We headed down the road of our cul de sac to where we caught to bus each morning, or at least those where we were on time.
Yep. We were sophomore losers who didn't have any older friends to pick us up for school. It wasn't so bad, to be honest. We had only a ten minute bus ride and a bunch of our friends rode our bus, too. Mike and Jason lived on the same street as us and were in our grade. Those two were best friends, and Jessa and I were so most days, we paired up and sat together and talked the whole ride to and from school.
"Dumb and dumber are already up there," Jessa chirped as she skipped up the three steps. I followed behind her and sure enough when I popped my head over the seats, Mike and Jason were sitting in our unofficial designated seats. I sat with Mike on the left and Jason sat with Jessa on the right. He'd already scooted in against the window to make room for Queen Jessa. It was almost automatic at this point.
"Hey, seatmate," Mike said as I sat beside him, careful ot make sure my jeans didn't dip too low. I pulled off my backpack and put it between my feet on the grimy floor of the bus.
"What's up?" I asked him, but before he could get in a single word, Jessa leaned into the aisle, tapped my shoulder and whispered, "So, you heard about Malcolm and Tinsley last night, right?"
Jessa was the gossip Queen, along with her other duties as hair Queen, make up Queen, and all around Queen of my universe. I looked at her and within her brown eyes was the knowledge that she wasn't going to let a single "yes" answer do the trick. She had gossip gleam all over her face.
"Sorry," I muttered to Mike, who gave me a knowing nod and turned in the seat to face her. As she wanted, she had my full attention. "They hooked up at the football game, right? Why's that matter? Everyone and their parents screw around under the bleachers or in the field house."
She wiggled her perfectly shaped brown eyebrows. "I heard it wasn't just the two of them down there. Everyone's saying that senior cheerleader, Lisa, joined inbetween routines for a little fun herself."
"Yeah, right. I'm not buying it." It wasn't like a threesome was some far fetched idea, but I didn't like to feed into gossip too much. If they really were having a threesome, wouldn't they go somehwere more private. Or at the very least, try to mask it so word wouldn't get around. They were so dumb.
"You don't have to buy it, Carls." She sighed and put her hand on my shoulder. "It's the truth. Wait until lunch period. It'll be the buzz of the whole school."
"Threesomes are fucking hot," Mike said, nodding at Jason across the middle aisle. Jason smirked.
"Really?" Jessa rolled her eyes, giving Jason a sideways glare. "Two guys and one girl sounds hot to you?"
"Well, no," Mike said, "I mean two girls and one guy would be hot." Jason nodded.
"'Cause you'd be the one guy, you idiot!" Jessa leaned across of me and smacked Mike in a playful way on his arm. Mike squirmed back and grabbed my shoulders, using me as a human shield.
"Hey!" I said, pushing them both backwards. Somehow I was always in the middle of them. I swore there was some unsaid tension between the two of them. Jessa always denied it, but come on. Mike was a hot with his spiky blond hair and super light green eyes. Plus he sat with us every day which was a feat in itself. I didn't know why she was so against hooking up or dating him, but she was in denial.
"Can you imagine Lisa and Tinsley going at it?" Jessa said, shrugging like she'd already thought of it.
"I'd rather not conjur up a mental image. Thanks, Jessa." I gave her my best snarling look. I wasn't quite as sexual a being as Jessa who thought about hooking up all day every day.
"I don't mind the image," Jason said from beside Jessa. Of course, it earned him a smack to the shoulder from Jessa. One which I couldn't intercept. Jessa and Jason hooked up a few times over the summer. It never got father than a few heavy make out sessions and over the pants touching. Jessa claimed that he was a shitty kisser, but fun--whatever the hell that meant. Sometimes her trains of thoughts were difficult to follow.
I was the patheic sixteen year old who had only been kissed once as a joke. It wasn't really a joke, but it wasn't a real kiss either. Just thinking of it gave me a squirmy stomach. Freddy kissed me when I was fourteen and did not want to be kissed at all. He was a snotty kid who felt entitled to date me for some unknown reason I still hadn't uncovered. It was memroable for how horrible it was, not how breathtaking I felt like it should've been.
"Helllloooo? Carley? Let's go already," Jessa said as she waved her hand in my face. Thank god, because I was just getting to the memory of Freddy's chapped lips on mine and how scratchy they felt. I grabbed my bag from the floor and threw it over one shoulder. I followed her and Jason off the bus.
"Later!" Jessa said to the guys with a wave of her arm.
"Bye!" I said as I followed her to the front of the school. I sighed before we went in, mentally preparing for another day of high school. The three story brick building was dautnting and tiring and I just wasn't really into the whole school thing today.
It wasn't that I hated high school. I just...didn't like it. My friends were amazing, especially Jessa. I trusted her one hundred perfect and knew she'd have my back til the end of time. Our relationship was rare. We had about five other close close friends who we hung out with on the weekend or went to football games with. I had some soccer friends and randoms from my classes. But Jessa was my ROD. She gave herself the Ride or Die status a few years back, and it just stuck. I was hers and she was mine and we were unbreakable.
She accepted the fact that I was more reserved and shied away from the spotlight in every day life. I was able to understand that she wanted to be center of attention and earn recognition and boy's looks. Note: her makeup and style choices. We were pretty opposite, but it worked for us. She never made me feel less than her and I hoped that I didn't do that to her. I loved the girl.
Jessa linked her right arm with my left and together we strutted down the hall toward the B wing where both of our lockers were. Freshman year we were assigned our locker by our last names. I'm a M for Masters and she's a W for Winston, but somehow we both ended up in the B wing--Fate, I called it. Only, hers was at the way end of the hall and mine was in the beginning.
As part of our daily ritual, we parted ways near the girl's bathroom and said out goodbyes until fifth period where I'd catch her at lunch. Ugh. I couldn't wait until lunch rolled around. My morning classes were my least favorite, which had it's pluses and minuses. While it rocked to get them over with and have a killer afternoon, getting through four periods of hell was exactly that...hell.
"Good luck on that Algebra test. Let me know how it goes," Jessa said as she waved her hand over her head.
"You only want me to tell you the answers!" I called after her, cupping my hands around my mouth so I'd know she was listening to me. What a brat. Jessa was way smarted than me in every single subjcet, but never pushed herself too hard. We were both average students--a few Bs, a snuck-in A, and sometimes a C. Nothing to admire, but nothing to get in trouble for. While I was average because I was average. She was average because she was lazy and took caught up in the social aspect of life.
I speedwalked to my locker and grabbed my books for my first three classes. My third class, composition, was in this hallway so I'd grab the rest of my books and switch them out later. I had my schedule down to a science and liked the routine of it. I shut my locker and spun around the dial.
First up was French class.
Just as I turned the corner for the C wing that held all the language arts classes, I was shoved backward like I'd walked into a moving wall. My breath was knocked out of me as I caught myself before crashing to the floor. I let out a yelp of surprise when I caught my breath again. What the hell was what?
I glanced up, fixing my bag that had slipped from my shoulder and saw Leo, an older senior kid who was in the gossip swing most days. He played lacrosse and had a nosering that looked much better close up than in my memory. His deep green eyes were like a dogs, full of emotion and swirling yellow. I had crushed on him from afar my freshman year. He was the bad boy of the school, elusive and dark, and as expected, he'd never muttered a word to me or knew I existed.
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