I woke up to my head hitting the car window after running over a few small bumps. Looking up I find the scenery bright and unexpected. My eyes squint as the bright blue beaches shimmer under the fluorescent yellow sun. This is completely different from my usual scenery back home. The sky is always gray, either raining or fogging up. It’s never sunny or blue, but when it is it’s a miracle. Everybody plans for picnics, games, and events. Looking at the people living life here it must be an everyday thing. That must be nice, although I don’t really care. I’m not an outdoorsy person. I’m more of a stay inside person where there’s air conditioning, heaters when needed and no bugs flying in my face. All that shouldn’t matter now. What should matter is the fact that I have to change my life completely after one simple mistake I made that night.
Storming off isn’t the mature way of ending arguments, but it was in the moment and I wanted to get out of that house as fast as possible. I didn’t want to stick around and hear about how my boyfriend of a year started falling for the girl he cheated on me with during the summer vacation. I was furious. All I could think about while walking home was what did I do wrong in the relationship. What could I have done to prevent him from cheating? Suddenly I heard trash cans being knocked over in an alleyway next to me. Looking in that direction all I see are shadows moving back and forth. It seemed like they were fighting. To me that wasn’t surprising. There’s always fights going on around here, but what was different about this one was the fact that I heard a girl yelping. The headlights of a car flashed in that direction and I saw everything and he saw me. I saw his cold blue eyes stare at me as he held the girl’s head in his hands and snapped it in a second. She dropped to the ground lifeless. When he took a step forward, my instinct was to run as fast as I could and that’s what I did. I ran as fast I could. I felt the adrenaline pumping through my body. I wanted to look back to see how close he was, but I knew I shouldn’t. I knew that that is what’ll slow me down. Up ahead I see a police officer getting into his cruiser, after coming out of a 24 hour diner. That was my target. I forced my body to run even faster. He closes his driver side door and I begin to panic thinking I won’t make it in time, but luckily I did. I ran to the passenger side of the door just before he was about to drive off. I pressed my cold, sweaty hands on the door and I screamed for help. He quickly took notice and stopped the car from driving off. From then on they found the body of Sara White, 15, and she lived in Kentucky. She has been missing for 4 months and she was found dead in an alleyway. Her cause of death was the broken neck, but she was definitely tortured before that. Before I saw her get killed.
Now under witness protection, I have to change my life completely. My name isn’t Serenity Chandler anymore. It’s Tessa Rossi. My parents, instead of Lenny and Jake Chandler, it’s Jill Bateman and Max Hart. They also double as my body guards. I have no siblings and instead of being a brunette, I am officially a blonde which actually makes me look tan rather than how I use to look, pale. I begged them not to cut my hair because I’ve been trying to grow it out since I was 12. It might seem shallow considering the fact that I am now a target and in danger of getting killed, but if the length of my hair is the only thing I can keep from my past life. I’m keeping it.
“And we are here.” Max said parking beside the house that be my new home.
It’s not modern at all. The house looks almost victorian. Old vines are sprawled over the dark blue walls, dead plants cover the sides of the building. It actually looks creepy.
“I will have to do a lot of cleaning and gardening.” Jill said sharing my distaste for the house.
“We aren’t here to decorate or clean or plant.” Max said pointing it out.
“Max, we have to make living here as comfortable as possible for Serena. She’s not here as a prisoner. She’s here for protection.” Jill argued.
“It’s Tessa now remember that Jill.” Max said.
“When she steps out of this car she will be Tessa. Max lighten up. You’re going to make this difficult for her.” Jill turns to look at me, “Okay, I am your new mom and Max, unfortunately, is your new dad. You are Tessa Rossi a new sophomore at Kole High. You will forget about everything and everyone in your old life for the time being. Remember you can not, absolutely not contact anyone from your past life. No family, friends or boyfriend. Ok?” she said in a soft motherly like voice.
“Ex- boyfriend, and yes ma’ am. I am Tessa Rossi.” I said my voice nearly cracking.
“Call me Mom.” She smiles.
They both step out of the car and are waiting for me to do the same. When I step out of this car I am no longer Serenity. Jill’s words keeps replaying in my head. I finally open the door and step out of the car. That’s when it really hit me. I’m not at home anymore. I won’t have the same friends. I won’t have the same loud and obnoxious family to go home to. I won’t have to die in the cold weathers and I won’t hear the name Serena anymore.
“Lets go inside and get settle in. The furniture and your clothes should be in the house.” Max said sternly. I just nod and follow him inside. As soon as Max opens the door the overwhelming smell of pine cone hits my face. Outside didn’t look modern or clean but inside was different. The floors looks to have been replaced with dark wood. The walls repainted a soft beige and the furniture golden tan and silver.
“Wow.” I said taking in the house.
“Beautiful.” Jill said admiring the high ceiling and chandeliers.
Max motions for me to follow him.
“Here’s the rules. You wake up, go to school and come straight back home. For safety take the buses. On most days Jill will be home, but I won’t because I’ll have to do some papers down at the station. There’s cameras in the front, back and garage door, so don’t even think about sneaking out. Here’s a cellphone. My number, Jill, and the local station’s phone numbers are set on speed dial. Don’t make me remind you that we are here on business. It’s not a vacation. Got it?” Max said staring at me straight in the eyes. His black eyes turned cold and stiff.
“Yes sir.” Was all I had the courage to say. He hands me the phone and leads me upstairs to my bedroom. He then leaves me there to unpack and get settled.
I wait until he makes it down the stairs before I can actually breathe again. I didn't notice I am sweating until I touch my forehead to brush the long bangs away from my face. I wipe it with the tissue I found in my messenger bag.
After finally calming down from the Max lecture, I can actually take a look at my room. I’d expected it to be similar with the decoration downstairs, but I was sadly mistaken. The wall color and the flooring is the same, but the only things that were actually in the room were a twin bed, nightstand, dresser and a closet. It seems to be lit by the ceiling fan, but it doesn’t look like it’ll be that bright.
I begin to unpack some of the things I carried with me when I heard a knock at the door. Turning around I see Jill holding two suitcases. She smiles.
“Hey, this is your clothes that has been sent.” She said placing them next to my bed.
“Thanks Jill.” I smiled back.
“Ah Ah. It’s Mom remember Tessa?” She said looking at me with her hazel eyes that are too green to actually be hazel.
“Right. Thanks Mom.” I corrected myself.
“How are you liking the place so far?” She asked examining my room.
“It’s nice.” I said looking around my plain empty room.
“Liar. Once you’re settled in we’ll get some wall decorations just to make this place more of your own.”
“What if we have to move?” I asked curious.
“This is a safe place. Plus it’s across the country. We’ll be here for a while, so while we are here let’s make the best of it and not ruin your teen years. But you do understand you can not go out with any new friends you make.” Jill said softly, but surely.
“Yes ma-Mom. I understand.” I said nodding.
She smiles and begins to get up, “Oh, Seren- I mean Tessa, dinner will be ready at 8 and tomorrow we will go up to your school to sign you in and get the date for your official first day.” I nod. She leaves the room and me to my unpacking and folding.