My phone mostly stayed on vibrate. I would say in my entire life, I never took it off. Over the next few days, I turned the volume up, set customized ring tones and alert tones, and the phone was attached at my hip. Leo asked for my number, yet he hadn't used it yet.
Saturday came around fast and I did my regular routine of catching up on homework and checking my memory cards for new photographs I wanted to print. Usually, I'd start and then lose the entire day in my camera. Today that was not the case.
Every minute dragged. It probably was due to my constant checking of my phone, but I didn't want to admit it. I poked up for air around 2:30 in the afternoon and meandered downstairs for sustanance. My stomach was screaming at me to eat.
Mom and dad were at the store until 4 so the house was mine. I boiled some water for Ramen and brewed a cup of coffee in the Keurig. While I waited, I swore I heard the ding ding of my phone so I darted up the stairs to check. By the time I reached my room, the ring had died off and my phone's screen was lit up, telling me I had a missed call from an unknown number.
Was it him?
A hissing noise came from down the stairs. Ugh. It was my boiling water. With my phone in hand, I ran back downstairs and turned the heat down a few notches on the stove. Before getting back to my phone, I dropped in the brick of Ramen.
Did I call back? Did I wait a few minutes? Did I just ignore it and pretend it didn't happen? It might not have even been Leo. It could've been some newsletter I signed up for at a department store. I needed to really chill out. I ignored the phone while I finished making my food and coffee and then when I finally sat down at the kitchen counter, I glanced at the phone again.
I needed some reinforcements.
Come over now! I think Leo called me.
I put my phone on the table and ate. Just as I was finishing my Ramen, the front door banged open and I figured Jessa was here. Her long hair was in a messy bun on top of her head that looked like the "flyaways" were strategically placed. She was wearing black leggings and a tan cableknit sweater.
"Tell me you did not call back yet," she huffed out, dropping her purse on the floor and sliding onto the stool beside me. Her bag looked scarily full.
"I didn't. I'm not even sure if he called to be honest. It was an unknown number," I told her.
"It better be him. He had you waiting by the phone for days now, Carls. Let's see," she said, putting her finger to her chin, deep in thought. She reached for my phone and unlocked it, looking at the number. She grabbed her own phone and typed around. Finally, she put both phones down and looked at me.
"It's his number," she finally said.
I took a sip of my coffee. "How do you know?" I asked her.
"I checked it with some sourced." I started to object, but she cut me off. "Don't worry. I pretended I was looking for an alcohol hookup. It checks out, though. Leo called you."
"What do you think he wants?" I asked. Was he trying to ask me out or tell me something? I really had no idea what he wanted from me.
"In your pants, obviously. But he's probably going to ask you out. And I'd bet for tonight, too."
"It's already 3!" I squealed. I couldn't be ready for a date tonight. I didn't know if I could ever be ready for a date with Leo.
"Okay, so here's what we do. You call him back and put it on speaker and I'll try to help when I can. How long's it been?" she asked, not waiting for me to answer. She just picked up my phone and checked it. "Perfect. You can call back."
I took another sip of my coffee and then hit the foreign number. It dialed, bringing twice before he answered. "Hello?" he asked. He sounded different than in real life, more raspy and monotone.
"Leo? It's Carley," I said.
"Oh, hey. What's up?"
"Nothing. Just saw you called. What's up with you?" Jessa snorted and I shot her a death glare that I hoped shut her up. I didn't want Leo to know that she was here and that I needed help.
"Derek's having a party down at the West Field later. You wanna come with me?" he asked in such a casual way, it didn't feel like a date. I glanced at Jessa, widening my eyes. She just smiled and nodded, circling her finger, telling me to keep going.
"Yeah, sure," I said, though the thought of going to a field party made me want to say no. They weren't really my scene and honestly, it was just a bunch of high school kids drinking Dubra and falling into the woods.
"I'll pick you up at 9. Tell Jessa she can come, too." His voice had a hint of humor in it. Damn. We were caught. My face was burning hot.
"Okay, I will."
"Holy shit!" Jessa squealed when I hung up the phone and threw it onto the couch. I covered my face in my hands and groaned. "We're going to Derek's party!" She let out a huge breath that seemed way over dramatic to me. I was the one who was going through a nervous breakdown. "Shit, we have a lot of work to do and only 5 hours to make magic."
"This night is going to be a nightmare."
As if mentally preparing for my first sort of date with Leo wasn't hard enough, I had Jessa putting makeup on my face and styling my hair and turning me into anything but myself. It was draining, but I sat on my desk chair and let her do her thing.
While she straightened my already straight hair, she talked on the phone with Cami who had secured herself a date tonight to the party with non other than the annoying and completely douchey Greg Jenkins. Not only was I going to have the pressure of being around Leo all night, but my friends were going to be there to watch my disaster take place.
Jessa was right, though. Eight came around fast. We were ready in comfortable, but sexy stylish clothes and shoes that would last if the fields were damp. I had on a quarter length sleeved red and black flannel shirt with ripped jeans and brown boots with a short heel. I felt very camper girl. Jessa went a different route in a black dress with stocking and tall boots. She wrapped her blue flannel around her waist.
"Look at you cute ladies!" Mom said from the family room as we walked down the stairs. "Where are you headed? I wanted to ask when dad and I got home, but there was a lot of noise and giggling up there." Mom winked at me.
"We're going to a party," Jessa said as she hopped over to the couch and sat beside my mom. Phone still in hand, I sat down in the arm chair across from them.
"Are you going to see this boy there?" mom asked.
"What boy?" Dad called from the kitchen.
"The picture one I told you about!" Mom called back. He just said ooooh.
"Yeah, he's picking us up around 9," I told her, trying to downplay it so my brain would follow along. I was already in full freak out mode. Did I look too casual? Would he ditch me or realize that I wasn't that interesting? Did he pity invite me or did he invite other people? I just had so many questions and nothing to answer them with.
We chit-chatted and nibbled on cheese and crackers and proscuitto. I was glad there was food because my stomach was all twisty with nerves. The food made me feel like a real person again. The conversation was mostly just mom and Jessa gossiping and me sitting there, eating, twiddling my thumbs and shaking my foot. When I was nervous, I couldn't stop moving.
Finally at 9:04, the doorbell rang. I jumped from the couch. Jessa snorted and Mom laughed.
"Go get it," Mom said, crossing her legs. Jessa just widened her eyes and nodded toward the door.
I took a breath, fighting the urge to vomit or cry or pee myself. I was a mess of anxiety. With my hand on the door handle, I twisted it and pulled open the front door to my home. Leo was going to see my home. Holy shit. Ignore it. Ignore the nerves.
He was smiling ear to ear and blinked when I opened the door. His eyes were light and from the mere second that had passed I could smell his musky cologne. It was something I'd never smelt on him before, but intoxicating nonetheless. He leaned forward and kissed me, a simple peck.
"Click," he whispered as he backed up.
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