Chapter 2 – All Egos Aside
Monday I was still exhausted from the weekend’s events. From the empty seats around me I could tell I was not the only one. I gritted my teeth as Mr. Eatson handed us our final graded assignment before we began to review for the Physics final. It was a B- though I hadn’t gotten anything below an A- since Leo had started helping me. But for the past few weeks since I’d gotten my memory back, I had refused to speak to him. After all, he was the only one who remained in contact with me – even if I didn’t know who he was at the time. And he lied to me all the while.
“How was prom?” he asked conversationally when I sat beside him at our lab table.
Only I had ignored him, turning to stare at the many posters that covered the wall. Now he glanced over my shoulder at my paper.
“Come on, Rose. You’re really not going to let me help you? This final means a hell of a lot more to you than it does to me.” When I didn’t answer, his tone hardened. “Know what? Forget it. I lied to you under my own brother’s wishes. You want to make me the bad guy, fine. But I’m the one who thought what they were doing to you was wrong from the start. Why do you think I tried to coax you to remember? Pero, claro, para todo el tiempo, Evrett can do no wrong, verdad? I don’t need this. Why am I even here?”
With that, he shoved his chair back from the table, leaving his book bag and papers on the table. He strode purposefully toward the classroom door, pausing only to snarl “Screw you” at Mr. Eatson, who called to him asking what he was doing.
His hands left dents in the wood, his chair scraping the linoleum in his haste and strength. I bit my lip hard to keep from crying. Leo was right. He’d been on my side from start, whether his intentions were moral or not.
I was still mulling over that conversation when Angie ran into me after class. “Check your Portal, check your Portal! I got into BU!”
Her dream school was Boston University and it was one of the two schools we’d applied to together. The other was CSU, Cleveland State University, but it was only a fall back. She shoved her iPhone into my hands, already on the login page so I could go on my gmail account and click on my link. Two minutes later we were jumping up and down together.
“I got in, too! I have to go find Evrett and tell him” I sang happily. Angie nodded and yelled something about telling Doug.
We parted ways and the next corner I rounded, Evrett was there sweeping me up into his arms. He squeezed me gently and whispered “Congratulations” into my hair. I was now 5 for 5 with all the schools I had applied to. Most of the college visits I’d went to had been with Evrett, including BU (after all, how many people do you know that can make an 11 hour trip a 3 hour one?).
“Where’s Leo?” I asked, suddenly remembering that I needed to find him.
Evrett’s jaw twitched and I realized he was jealous. “It’s important, I was really mean to him Evrett.”
“He’ll live” Evrett said uncomfortably.
“I messed up…Leo was right. How could I forgive you so quickly and not do the same to him? I know I love you, but he was there for me…”
Evrett sighed. “I’d bring you to him but he doesn’t want to talk to you. Or any of us, for that matter.”
My shoulders slumped and I ran my fingers through my hair trying not to feel crushed. “Listen, I have to go meet Trina but I’ll see you later?”
I nodded, allowing him to kiss my cheek and disappear.
As I was heading out to my car, I pushed open the main entrance doors and came face to face with Dean. I jumped back in surprise, and suddenly had no idea what to say or do. Things hadn’t been the same between me and the Reynolds brothers in a long time, and while we ignored that for the sake of prom, there was no hiding it on a regular day.
“Dean! How you been?” I forced friendliness.
He shrugged, looking slightly more sullen than I was used to. “Going through stuff,” he admitted, “but doing alright. Heard about your parents; sorry.”
I cringed. Pretty much everyone knew about the divorce. The perks of living in a small town. I nodded, and we stared at each other awkwardly.
“Well, I have to get going.” I said quietly, and he gave me a nod and turned to go. Frustrated at how the conversation went I grabbed his arm. “Listen, if you ever want to talk; if there’s something I can do…I’m here” I remarked lamely.
He gave me his profile, and my heart stuttered as I caught the black marks on his arm. My head started spinning as I remembered the same runes on Trent’s arm when he said we could no longer be friends.
“I should be saying the same to you” Dean responded, and his voice came to my ears as if through a tunnel.
He was gone before I could say anything more, but immediately I whipped out my cell phone to write down the letters I saw peeking out from his short sleeve shirt. Saint Caza Maru.
I fled home after that, and powered up my laptop immediately once in the safety of my room. I checked the note I’d made in my phone. What could those words possibly mean? I heard an audible thump and turned around to the sound. Leonardo was sliding into my room. I jumped up and let out a startled cry, before he slid his hand over my mouth.
“Easy Rose.” He released me and I stared up into his eyes.
“I thought you didn’t want to speak to anyone?”
Leo stared at me for the longest time. “You’re not just anyone.” He paid the compliment in a cold tone and I furrowed my brow at him.
“Leonardo, I’m sorry. So sorry. You didn’t deserve that. I guess I just…needed someone to blame. But you were only looking out for me.”
He bent his head over so his hair swept across his eyebrows. “I’m glad you see that. I have hurt a lot of people. But I never meant to hurt you, Lena.”
His voice had grown husky, doing strange things to my own body. For the first time, his expression was soft, though his eyes were darkened with desire. His fingertips crept along a gentle path up my neck and into my hair. I could taste the sweetness of his breath, close enough to mingle with mine. My heart stuttered. Caught in his spell, I only just managed to turn my cheek in time. His nose grazed my cheek, air rushing to return to my lungs. I pressed my cheek to his chest.
“Leo…” I breathed, but he didn’t say a word.
He held me tightly so that I gasped upon his abrupt release. I found his eyes had peered over my shoulder at my search.
“‘Cosaint, caza, marú.’ Why are you searching that?” he asked sharply, and I stepped away from him and returned to my desk.
“It’s…it’s what’s tattooed on Trent’s arm. At first I thought they were just runes, but they’re letters. Dean has them too. The very same ones. I want to know who it is; what it means.”
He glanced at my search engine. “It’s not a person. And it’s not Latin. It’s Gaelic, Galician. ‘Protect. Hunt. Exterminate.’ It’s the motto for Brethren who call themselves ‘Iascaire’” I must have looked lost because he said “fishermen.”
I laughed, breaking the former tension. “Sounds better in Gaelic.”
Leo gave a fleeting grin that was impossible not to gawk at. He always was smirking; rarely did he ever truly smile and I was captivated by it. But then I fell serious.
“Fishermen? But that would mean…”
He nodded. “It’s not fish that they hunt, Rose. It’s Sirens.”
I felt cold all over, and even as I sat, I had to put my hand on the desk to steady myself. “How do you know all this?”
Evrett had never spoken about this before. Leo gave me a hard look as if he were indecisive. I said nothing.
At last he straightened up, shrugging one arm out of his long sleeved black V-neck. Without giving me time to admire his chiseled body, he turned slightly, and among all the scratches and the scars, there, on the back of his upper arm I squinted closely at the very faint outline of the exact same words.
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