"Oh, I'm sorry," I said as I quickly lifted up my backpack and repositioned it on my shoulder. I untangled a loose piece of hair from my diamond stud and tucked it back behind my ear where it belonged. My shoulder ached from running into him, but I tried not to let the discomfort show on my face.
"Just watch yourself," he muttered without bothering to look at my face. I looked up, trying to catch a glimpse into those dog eyes that everyone so loved to gaze into, but he glanced to the left, almost purposefully. He nodded, then walked by me, bumping into my backpack and rattling me to the side.
Did he do that on purpose? What a dick. I fixed my backpack yet again and glanced over my shoulder to catch a look at him. Strangely, he was looking over his shoulder at me, his dark brows pulled together and lips in a grim line. His lips lifted in a smirk, and he smiled.
He turned back and I watched him go down the hall and take a left into the stairwell. He was just so hot, but seriously? Why did I even apologize to him when he was the one who ran into me? I was walking on the right side of the hall and he was the one who took the corner too tight. It wasn't me. And yet, he smiled, more like a taunt. What did that mean? Jesus. I needed to get my head on straight.
I ran the rest of the way, somewhere between a sprint and a gallop so I didn't appear to be causing a scene. Of course, now I was late and when I walked into French, all eyes of the packed room flicked to me. Instantly, my cheeks heated up.
With my head down and eyes on the floor to make sure I didn't trip, I sat down in my seat in the back and tried to make the least amount of noise as possible. We were working on differentiating a subject and direct and indirect objects. The whole language was confusing as well, but it sounded really pretty which was what led me to french in the first place.
I really wanted to focus and work on my french skills, but Leo's face was stuck in my head. His perfectly white teeth that gleamed at me. That split second that I looked into his eyes. He was just so intimidating but in a way that made you want to break him down to the core. God, I was comparing Leo Daniels to an apple.
Second period, Algebra, third period, World History, and fourth period Composition, went by in a flash. My brain was in super hormone mode thinking of my run in with the school bad boy. It was childish, I knew this, but my life was pretty dull and it had been a break in my every day routine.
The bell for fifth rang and it made me jump. I was daydreaming again. I quickly threw my folder, notebook, and poetry book in my bag and zipped it up. On my way out the door, I tossed it over my shoulder.
I couldn't wait to tell Jessa about what happened with Leo. The more I thought about it the more elaborate the story got. I needed to rein in my creative mind. When I got into the student center, I saw her sitting at our regular table with two of our other friends. As I got closer, she spotted me and waved. I half skipped the rest of the way there.
"Uh, what happened to you?" Jessa asked, wrinkling her nose with a look of disgust. As I sat, she brushed the back of her hand on my forehead, checking my temperature. I swatted her away.
"I'm not sick!" I groaned. "Guess who I literally bumped into this morning?" I wiggled my brows to heighten her enthusiasm.
"Um, Paul?" Jessa shrugged.
"No. No. Think hottest guy..." I circled my wrist, urging her to make some more guesses.
"Yuck, Jessa. No!" I grabbed her hand and turned her so we were face to face, our knees interlocked, every other. Her eyes like up and she quirked her head to the side. For the first time in my entire life of knowing Jessa, I understood the gossip thrill. "Leo freaking Daniels."
Her eyes widened further. "Oh. My. God. Oh my god! What happened?" She pushed her bag from the table to the floor and provided me with her full attention. "And do not leave a single thing out, Carley!"
Little did Jessa know, that was the full extent of my story. Still, I could come up with some deeper deatails. "Well, it happened after you left this morning. I was just walking, minding my own business, walking to french, and boom. I turned a corner and ran straight into Leo. I fell backwards--"
"And he saved your life? Oh, Jesus. Please tell me he caught you and stared at you with those golden retreiver eyes." She put her hands together like she was praying and batted her eyes at me.
"Well...Not really. He kind of stepped back. I said I was sorry and then he said watch it. But then--"
"Uh huh..." she urged me to go on, leaning forward despite the fact that she was just a few inches from my face to begin with.
"He bumped me a little when he walked by again and then turned and made eye contact with me. And then he gave me this smirky thing with his face. Like his mouth tilted up and he smiled with his teeth." I gave her a little example, talking with my hands to show how he looked and acted. "But his eyes, you see....they were on me the whole time. Then he just turned and left and I stood there."
As I recounted the incident that would forever go down in my history as the Leo Daniels bump in I realized it really wasn't much to remember. I just bumped into the hottest guy in school. He barely said a word to me and then basically laughed at me for being so dumb and clumsy.
"I hate to tell you this, but that was a shit sotry," Jessa said with a laugh as she rolled her eyes.
"But it did happen!" I said in defence.
"Nothing happened, Carl. He looked at you. Whoop-dee-freaking-doo." She twirled her red painted nail in the air and then flashed me a thumbs down. "I'll do walk there now and look at him. Does it mean anything? Nope." She shook her head, the flower in her head band bobbing.
"Whatever." I reached down and grabbed my wallet from my backpack. "I'm hungry." I hopped up from the seat and went to the kitchen to get lunch. My high from the encounted from Lusty Leo was squashed. I knew it was more than a simple look. It seemed different, like he was intrigued by me.
But Jessa was probably right. What would a seventeen year old lacrosse prodigy want to do with me? I was cute but that was about it. I grabbed a chick patty sandwich and bag of Salt and Vinegar chips and rang myself up with the lunch aide. She gave me my changed and hurried me along.
When I sat back down next to Jessa at the table, the group was talking about Tinsley and her aleged threesome. Meghan and Cami were droned on about how awkward it must have been while the guys, Jason, Mike, Henry, and James were talking about their football coach. I didn't really fit into any of the conversations so I ate fast.
Jessa was always good about including me in all conversations. I nodded when addressed and chimed in when I had something to contribute. When I finished my food, I washed my salty fingers with a wet wipe my mom packed in my bags for the times you don't want to get up and find a bathroom. I grabbed my camera to check out the pictures I had recently taken.
Over the weekened I took a walk to the nature preserve on the outskirts of our small town. I always liked to see them one time when they were still in the camera to delete any I didn't like anymore and see them from a new perspective. Most of the time, I deleted them all except for a select few favorites. Sometimes I got a rare gem.
The rare photos that I treasured were the reason I took photographs. I loved pictures that told a story and made me feel a certain way. Whether it was from a person's facial expression or how they were sitting, I loved seeing people when they didn't know anyone was looking.
Landscapes were different, but I loved them just as much. Once I found a lonely tree that looked so sad and alone with an open meadow around it that it literally brought tears to my eyes. The pictures that evoked deep emotion we were the ones I looked for.
They hung on the walls of my room and in my memory.
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