"Chained" by XX reminds me of how devastated Violet and Radley were when they were apart. Violet's father forbid them to be together. Violet kept waiting for Radley's secret calls, but they never came. Both of them were crushed and pined in their hearts for each other. Yet, Radley had new secrets that would force him to shun her. The odds were against them from every angle, but true love will prevail even if death awaits around every corner.
This video was created in conjunction with the Creators Project where they are trying to combine mind and matter together. Using cancer cells and bacteria they create art. Beautiful and inspiring, a strange contradiction, like Heavenly Killers where "Heaven" and "Horror" are combined. I find beauty in contradictions of the extreme. Love and Hate, Holy and Evil, Beautiful and Ugly. Check out the Creators Project and Their Art
by Brighton Hill
It was dark in Roseville Mountains at Blood Falls as Violet Paris and Radley Aston embraced at the edge of the cliff. His fingers dug a little too strongly into her back as he held her in his lean muscular arms. She felt the pain, but as weird as it was, she liked it.
The full moon overhead lit up the riverbed below causing glimmers of light to dance like sparks of fire on the black waters. A summer wind rushed through the trees and their hair as they kissed breathing in each other’s essences for the last time.
Violet pulled away just enough to look into Radley’s scorching green eyes. She inhaled a long jagged breath. His expression was unreadable which confused her. His thoughts seemed turbulent like the waterfalls that rushed off the side of an adjacent mountain. If only she could figure out what he was thinking.
He stroked her long black hair and then held the back of her head in his hand. She wanted to memorize his perfect tan face like a clear picture in her mind that would last forever. His fingers brushed across her cheek lightly, but then his jaw clenched. The tension in his demeanor caused Violet to wonder if he was angry.
At once, he pulled out his switch blade and looked behind them away from the cliff’s edge, past the grassy park and toward the woods. His eyes were wide, his glare intense.
“What is it?” Violet asked looking around and not seeing anything suspicious just darkness, trees, and flashes of light from the lodge in the distance.
He didn’t answer for a minute, but just kept still like a deer frozen in shock before the headlights of a car right before it gets hit. It appeared now as if he was listening for something, his eyes violent, his nostrils flared.
Violet’s heart pounded fast in her chest. “Come here,” she said taking his hand.
At first he ignored her, but when she took off her shirt, he relaxed and pulled her up against him, putting the switch blade back into his pocket, and smiling wryly. “I sense an impending doom coming my way,” he whispered.
To her surprise, he took the shirt from her hand and pulled it back over her head, dressing her. “I wish you didn’t have to go,” he murmured into the night, looking out at the dark forest again. He turned back, his mind in some other place. But then their eyes met. He blinked. His irises looked glassy, deadpan as he leaned in and kissed along the line of her ear.
She could feel the warmth of his breath. Tingles rushed through her body, but she couldn’t help but sense by the way his hand pressed powerfully against her lower back that he was subduing some sort of inner rage unrelated to the skittishness toward the forest beyond.
Maybe it was over his mother who had abandoned him on the side of a desert road as a young kid. She never came back for him. Or possibly it was over his foster parents who he had run away from. Maybe he was having second thoughts about returning to them as they had discussed. It bothered her that he wasn’t open enough.
“This has been the best summer vacation of my life.” She tried to keep her voice soft and steady. It would be embarrassing to reveal the emotions she was feeling inside.
He grinned. “You better believe it has.” His voice was teasing. “You were with me.”
“Oh, yeah?” she asked mockingly. “As good as it was for me, it was better for you.” The inflection in her tone was facetious.
His expression shifted and the way his eyes bored into her now caused her stomach to flutter. Why was he looking at her like that? Her mind spun. She tried to hold his gaze. She was afraid she would never see it again.
He was good looking in a rugged sort of way. She loved his thick dark lashes and his mop of disheveled black hair. His voice was almost lyrical like a rock star. When he spoke, she often felt like he was strumming her soul, each sound lifting her up to a higher realm. How would she ever find another boy like Radley Aston? He was a drug to her—her own personal ecstasy.
In Arizona all the boys weren’t interested in her. Most of them made fun of her and her out of fashion clothing. And anyway, they were boring. Life was dull there. Maybe the guys were uninteresting in California too, but Radley sure wasn’t and he lived in Los Angeles and she lived in Phoenix. And it seemed like he really liked her for some unfathomable reason.
“Okay, love birds,” Violet’s younger sister, Ariel, called from the rock bed set off to the side and below the plateau of the cliff. She and her new boyfriend for the night who they met at the tavern restaurant, Clark something or other, climbed back up the rocky hill laughing and teasing each other.
“It’s almost 10:00,” her sister hollered out to Violet again.
“Dude, this is steep,” Clark exclaimed as he looked up at Ariel climbing above him. “I could pull you off the side by your hair,” he chuckled hoarsely as he wedged his foot into the dark crevice of a sizable stone. His hands held tightly to the branches of a small tree before him. “Just yank that brown hair and throw you down under me.”
Ariel flinched at that thought and quickened her step up the side, now not as carefully. She didn’t really know Clark. Was he joking? Not sure what to do, she tried to ignore him and called out again to her big sister. “Violet, stop making out and help me up.”
“Come on.” Radley released Violet and motioned quickly with his chin toward the far side of the cliff where Ariel and Clark were ascending. “I’ll get her.”
“Did that guy say he was going to yank her off the rocks?” Violet asked in a panic. The blood rushed to her cheeks.
“Sounded like it.” Radley hurried over as Violet followed.
Her pulse raced as she watched Radley edge his way down the rocks.
Clark was laughing and reaching for Ariel’s hair from below her. “I’m going to get you,” he snorted. His face was pale and ashen colored in the moonlight.
Radley looked at him fiercely in the eyes and just as Clark caught a thin lock of her long hair in his hand, Radley grabbed Ariel by the arm and kicked Clark on his chest. He fell backwards and hit the rocks at the edge of the creek, landing right on his back.
Clark let out a loud cry. “Dude, what the hell?” As he rolled over to his side, he coughed something up and spit it to the ground. “What? Are you trying to kill me?” He moaned and wrapped his arms around himself.
Radley ignored him and helped Ariel up to the narrow plateau where Violet stood with her hands over her mouth and her eyes wide in shock.
“Let’s get out of here.” Violet pulled her sister to her clutching her in her arms.
But Ariel broke away and leaned over the edge. “You freak,” she screamed out to Clark who was grasping his head in his hands as he lay on his back still grousing. Furious, she coughed up some phlegm and spit it at him.
If the wad landed on him, he didn’t show any recognition of it.
“Let’s go,” Radley said to the girls.
“Gladly.” Ariel’s tone was incensed.
“Are you okay?” Violet took her sister by the hand as Radley led them along the narrow plateau that led away from the craggy rocks and to a grassy park.
“I’m fine,” Ariel responded in a huff. “That guy was weird.”
“You shouldn’t hang around with boys like that,” Violet reprimanded her sister.
Her eyes widened in indignation. “Like, I was supposed to know he was a creep.” Her voice was condescending.
“I thought he was strange from the beginning,” Violet retorted. “He had all those glass animals in his backpack. Why would he carry stuff like that around?”
Ariel rolled her blue eyes in annoyance. “He was damn cute and he said he won those figurines from the games at the amusement park.”
“Oh, please.” Violet put her hands on her hips. “They don’t give away glass animals for prizes at Red Lake Pier.”
Ariel pulled out a tiny glass fawn from her jean’s pocket, examined it for a second, and then stomped it on the ground with her shoe. “Idiot,” she breathed, tossing her hair over her thin shoulder.
“You or him?” Radley lifted a dark eyebrow.
“Very funny, prick.” She tried to swat him with her hand, but he jumped back sort of dancing around in his cocky way.
“We better call the police,” Violet interrupted their play. Her face had paled and she looked nervous.
Right then the girls’ dad pulled up along the dirt road by the closed ranger’s station where they were supposed to meet him at ten. He honked the horn to signal them to his car. For a minute, Violet just stood there staring at Radley. A million thoughts twisted in her mind. But Ariel ran over without hesitation and got into the backseat.
“We should call the police,” Violet whispered to Radley as she bit at the edge of her finger.
He shook his head. “I’ll take care of him. Don’t worry about it.” He took her hand away from her mouth and kissed it lightly.
But she tried to ignore how tempting his lips felt on her skin; she looked over at her father. “My dad is going to be angry.”
He nodded. “Who cares.” His eyes gleamed with mischief.
Her body sort of shuddered involuntarily as he pulled her into his arms and kissed her like he had never kissed her before. She dug her fingernails into his neck.
“Ouch,” he murmured, his lips still pressed to hers.
At that, her father got out of his vehicle in a rush. Before the kiss could end, his massive body was across the street and pulling them apart. “Get in the car, young lady,” he commanded in a self-contained rage.
Violet hurried over to the car, glancing over her shoulder to look at the boy she loved for the last time.
“You stay away from my daughter.” He put his hand on Radley’s shoulder. His eyes locked with his in a threatening stare.
“For now.” Radley backed away from her father with his hands in the air and ran away across the grass and through the trees. He howled into the wind like a wild animal as he leaped agilely over a fallen oak.
He hid in the forest for a while listening to the night sounds as he leaned up against the outer rocks of a cave. With his switch blade, he brushed away some fallen leaves and dug into the damp earth carving a heart into the ground. Somehow he would find a way to take Violet away from her horrible father. They would steal away to some place absent from all this.
As he was fantasizing about their futures, playing guitar under the stars, rock concerts, endless nights of revelry, he was startled out of his thoughts. Something was moving inside the cave. In the darkness, he heard a rustling within. Were there wild animals in there?
He jumped up, holding the switch blade tightly.
Now it sounded like wings were flapping inside and there was a clawing against the rocks. He backed away and hid inside a bush. Did he hear a voice? There were angry whispers. He held perfectly still and listened, his heart thumping madly against his chest, ready to kill.
At once, a group of teenage boys in black leather jackets rushed out of the cave tossing red wilted roses to the air as they moved in odd form. Their knees seemed to bend backwards rather than forward. Their faces were pale like bone, their eyes black as coal. A faint high pitched squeaking sound seemed to be emitting from their bodies. One boy grabbed up a frog from the muddy earth as he ran and bit off its head.
As still as a stone, Radley held his breath until they were gone. He wiped the sweat off of his forehead with the back of his hand. His eyes were wide with shock. What the hell had he just seen? It was unfathomable.
As much as he didn’t want to move, he couldn’t sit there all night. Those things might return. He made his way back to the cliff. He still had to take care of Clark. But once he neared, he heard the sounds of voices coming from below at the tide pools where he had kicked Clark down. Who could be down there?
Clouds covered the full moon. It was even darker now. He could not see who was talking below. It sounded like several boys speaking at once. The voices were muffled with the wind.
Someone shined a flashlight up at him. He ducked, trying to get out of the light. His adrenaline was rushing. Something was not right.
“It’s him!” One of the boys yelled.
“Get him,” another voice said.
Radley started to run. He slipped on some rocks and fell. The boys were climbing up the side of the cliff. Radley hardly had any time to get away, but he struggled to his feet, ignoring the pain from his fall. He felt around in his pocket for the switch blade as he ran, but it was gone. It must have slid out when he fell.
The boys were right behind him. It was the same guys from the cave, but they looked perfectly human now. Had he imagined their black eyes and disjointed legs? He heard the patter of feet coming in on him. He ran through the forest, the branches scratching at his skin as he rushed by.
But when he got to the dirt alley behind the lodge and the tackle shop, one of the boys grabbed him and threw him down forcefully. He saw there were four guys about his age, almost eighteen. At once, he scrambled to his feet.”
“What’s your problem?” Radley demanded, backing away from the angry teens.
“You think you’re so tough?” a guy with a spider web tattoo on his face asked.
Radley looked around trying to see if there was a way out. He was trapped. Two of the other boys had circled around behind him. There were log walls on either of his sides and the spider guy and his side kick were in his face.
“What do you want?” Radley asked sharply looking into the spider guy’s bloodshot green eyes. It almost looked like the boy had been crying.
The spider guy’s nostrils flared. “You wanna kill my brother?” He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand.
“Who the hell are you?” Radley’s body tensed up.
But before there was a chance to figure out what was going on, all four teenagers charged at him, slamming his body against the back side of the tackle shop.
“You’re going to die,” The spider guy said with Radley’s shoulders pinned against the wooden logs. He spit in his face.
Radley struggled to get away, but the four of them threw him to the ground. In rapid repetition, they took turns kicking him in the chest. He was gasping for air and moaning.
“Finish him off,” one of the boys said to the spider guy. He’s yours for dead.”
Violet was startled out of her sleep by a tap at the window of their new log house in Roseville Mountains. She threw the blankets off of her legs. Her sister was still asleep in the twin bed beside hers. When she glanced over at the window, she was surprised to see a black crow pecking at the pane of glass.
Its eyes were dark as the night, but somehow gentle. Once their gazes met, the bird held still. Violet froze. It was the strangest thing to see a crow act like such.
But again, it began to tap its beak against the glass. It stopped and lifted its talons. There was something in its grasp. It looked like a gold chain.
Violet’s heartbeat sped up, pattering against her chest. She got the oddest intuition; she got the feeling it wanted her to let it in. Before she knew what she was doing, she was opening the window.
Once she had the pane open, the crow sat there. Violet’s body shuddered slightly. It made her nervous to see a wild creature show no signs of fear. She ran her finger from the top of its head, down its spine. Though the proximity made her uneasy, she liked the feel of its soft, sleek body. At once, she plucked out a feather from its back. It cawed at the sudden pain and flew away in a rush, dropping the necklace on the ledge.
She lifted it, holding it up. The most beautiful big red gemstone carved in the shape of a rose dangled from the center.
Violet breathed in a jagged breath—it was the most magnificent jewel she had ever seen. It looked like an antique, but was polished to a beautiful shine. As she examined it more closely, she noticed there was some sort of liquid trapped inside. And as she held it, her fingers seemed to tingle ever so slightly.
She walked around some big brown moving boxes and stepped into the bathroom where she fastened the gold chain around her neck. “I’ll wear this forever,” she whispered in satisfaction as a gentle comfort surrounded her. It looked so beautiful in the mirror. Like nothing she had ever seen before. She wondered what kind of liquid was inside. It seemed strange for someone to carve a stone and fill it with something, but somehow that made it more special. It was mysterious and unique because of it.
At that, she woke Ariel. “Come on; wake up. You don’t want to be late.”
“What? Huh?” Ariel didn’t want to go to their new school.
“You have to hurry or Dad will get mad,” Violet insisted.
Ariel threw her pillow at her sister playfully and got out of bed. “Let him throw a fit. I’m sick of his crap.” She got out of her twin bed and threw all of her clothes off without even closing the curtains or waiting for Violet to leave. She strutted in her naked, thin body over to the shower, holding her messy brown hair up like she was hot.
Violet was used to her sister, so she just ignored her antics. She perused her new walk-in closet for clothes and quickly dressed without much thought. In some ways, she was a bit anti-social and didn’t care much what other people thought of her, so she didn’t bother with makeup and hairstyles. She just quickly ran a brush through her long black hair and put some red lipstick on because it was all she had and it kept her lips from chapping. Her pale white skin would have to suffice—she hated bronzers and foundation. Okay, so she looked a little like Snow White, but who cared.
As she walked into the yellow with white trim country style kitchen, she wasn’t surprised at all to see her father on his laptop. But she was surprised to see him eating hot biscuits. Usually, he just drank coffee and sometime he just had a shot of vodka instead. But today, he had baked sweet smelling biscuits fresh out of the oven special for their new start. Maybe he was going to turn around after all, she hoped.
“Good morning, Daddy.” She almost sang the words as she kissed him on the cheek. “I’m so happy you made Mom’s favorite recipe.”
His cheeks reddened. “Do you have to talk about her?” His voice was harsh.
“Oh.” Violet backed up. “I just thought…”
“Well, don’t think,” he reprimanded. He picked up his newspaper and opened it. “Take some before I throw them out,” her father grumbled.
Violet picked up a biscuit and ate it over by the refrigerator while she made her school lunch.
“Where the hell is your stupid sister?” He looked toward their bedroom and called out, “Get your butt down here, Ariel. It’s time to go.”
Even though it was morning, the sun was already bright and hot through the leafy trees when Daryl Paris dropped Violet and Ariel off at their new school. Teenagers were hanging around on the shaded lawns, in the parking lot and in the quad. Some football players who were tossing a ball to each other stopped playing to check out the new pretty sisters.
“Thanks Dad.” Violet stepped up to her father’s open car window. “I’m glad you got the Roseville Mountain job transfer. Even though Ariel’s mad about it, I think she’ll adjust.”
“Let’s go,” Ariel tugged at the sleeve of Violet’s conservative long sleeved blouse. “Everybody’s staring at your ass.”
Violet turned to look and saw the football players watching her. They looked more developed, harder than the jocks at her previous school. She got the feeling that life was rougher in the mountains of Roseville than it was in Phoenix. A knot formed in the pit of her stomach. She wasn’t going to fit in.
“Okay, girls,” Daryl said with a blank expression, checking his short hair sprayed brown hair in the rear view mirror. As he cleared his throat, he straightened his tie. He seemed preoccupied. “Have a good first day.” He didn’t even look away from the mirror now.
Nervously, Violet leaned in to kiss her father on the cheek, but Ariel just waited in annoyance with one hand on her hip.
“Hurry up.” Ariel was already walking toward the high school office building in her tight jeans, cowboy boots and tank top without a bra.
Violet got the feeling that somebody other than the football players was watching her. She looked over her shoulder and noticed a girl with golden hair duck behind a tree. It seemed like she was trying to hide from her. How strange.
Confused at that, Violet jogged to catch up to her sister, but her skirt was so long that she tripped and fell on her face. “Oh, no!” Her purse spilt its contents on the ground. The knot tightened in her stomach at the thought of what a geek she must look like. She much preferred to go unnoticed. It wasn’t pleasant to be the one everyone picked on. Been there, done that, she thought, trying to erase the painful memories.
“Oh, my! Are you okay?” The same girl she had seen hiding from her behind the tree helped Violet off the ground. She had wild long hair like a lion’s mane.
Violet looked up at her and was surprised to see so much hair. The girl’s face was hidden under a shaggy mess of golden locks. Only her blue eyes were just barely peeking through. She seemed to be torn between leaving and helping her. How odd, Violet thought. Aside from her disheveled hair, the girl looked quite beautiful and stylish.
Violet tried to dust herself off, but she wasn’t very good at it. In one way, she looked like an even bigger mess than before she started to clean herself. She accidentally smeared mud all over her blouse and skirt as well as on her cheek. She leaned over and gathered up the contents of her purse: a ruler, her retainers, sparkly pens, and a bullet. Oh, no. She hoped the girl didn’t see that. At once, she stuffed everything back in her hand bag.
“Gosh darn it,” Violet mumbled as she stood up. “I forgot my cell phone at home.” She was frustrated because now she would have to wait until after school to see if Radley called her yet.
“Here.” The girl kept her head down as she pulled out a handkerchief from her purse. She tried to cover her hands with her jacket sleeves. But wrinkly fingers protruded as she fumbled with the cloth. “Let me help you.”
Violet tried to keep a blank expression when she noticed her rough, parched fingers. What was with this strange girl? On one hand she looked as gorgeous as a supermodel with a hot physique and on the other hand she looked like a wild animal.
But then a thought occurred to her. Maybe she was a burn victim and was embarrassed of her face. That must be it Violet decided. She was probably covered in scars after being nearly burnt to death as a child. Oh, the poor girl.
Bewildered, Violet shrugged and looked around wondering how many people were watching them. But nobody seemed to give them any attention. Maybe they were accustomed to this shaggy haired diva and maybe clumsy geeks like herself were all too common. I guess that would be a good thing if the students at her new high school were used to nerds, she thought. Possibly she would fit in after all.
Some cheerleaders were sitting on a low brick wall nearby that circled around a tree. They were too engaged in looking at pictures on somebody’s cell phone to care about some awkward new girl. High school bitches, Violet thought thinking back to the time the cheer squad in Phoenix filled her locker with condoms. That was a dirty trick. People laughed at her for weeks after the condoms spilt out all over the ground.
“Hold still.” The lion girl said in a sweet voice as soft as silk. Quickly, she spit on the hanky without showing herself and wiped Violet’s face with it.
“Ugh. That’s okay, Mom.” Violet said sarcastically as she backed away in disgust. “Just leave it.”
“I got the dirt off.” Her hands started to reach for Violet’s neck, but then pulled back suddenly. “Where did you get that necklace?” Her voice was harsh. Her hands even started shaking as they fell to the sides of her body.
“Oh.” Violet blushed as she fumbled with the rose shaped jewel. “I, uh… it’s a family piece.” She didn’t want to tell her the truth.
“Can I buy it from you? My grandmother is very sick. She collects roses. This would make her very happy.” she pulled out a wad of cash from her purse.
Violet’s eyes widened. “Oh, no.” She shook her head in surprise. “It’s sentimental. I couldn’t sell it.”
“Name your price,” she encouraged as she counted out hundred dollar bills.
Wow! This girl is rich. Who carries around that kind of cash? “I’m sorry, but no.” Violet felt bad for her ill grandmother, but she felt like she could never part with the necklace no matter what.
Putting the money back in her wallet, the girl started to leave, but called over her shoulder, “You should be glad I didn’t let you walk around looking like a mud patty. This school isn’t kind to slobs.” She laughed sweetly; her tone had a musical quality to it kind of like a movie star’s voice. She started to text a message on her cell phone.
“Oh.” Violet wondered how bad she looked. “I have to catch up with my sister. We’re new here.” But the girl was too far away to hear by now.
The cheerleaders looked up at her and laughed. They were eyeing her clothing and whispering about her amongst each other. Oh, no. Violet hoped she wasn’t going to have a repeat episode.
For a moment, her mind reeled with ways to hurt them. But she didn’t want to be that kind of girl again, doing evil things to bitches like them just to make herself feel better. She wouldn’t dump a jar of red ants in the head cheerleader’s bed while she was sleeping at this school. It was against the law to break into someone’s house and she didn’t want to be that type of girl anymore. Now was a new start for her and she was going to be good.
She just shrugged it off and headed toward the office. Her mind was on the girl with wild hair. She couldn’t believe how striking she was in an unusual sort of way. All her curves were in perfect proportion. So sleek and muscular. In fact, her body was a little too idyllic which made Violet wonder if she had plastic surgery or some kind of hard core personal trainer. She looked strong as hell. This school, way up in the mountains, didn’t seem like the place for all her glitz.
Even though the girl’s hair was a wild mess, it was shockingly beautiful and as shiny as silk. She wanted to touch it. There was just so, so much of it. It was the most attractive hair she had ever seen.
Violet entered the office. To her surprise, the lion girl was behind the counter now. And her hair was out of her face. Oh my! Her face was like that of an angel’s. She was so damn pretty. And there weren’t any burn scars whatsoever. And her hands were silky smooth, the kind of hands you’d see in a hand cream commercial.
The lioness straightened her blouse over her voluptuous breasts and then leaned on the cool linoleum surface. “Name please,” she said in a liquid smooth voice that was as alluring as her face to Violet’s sister Ariel who was waiting at the counter.
Was she the school secretary? Violet wondered. She looked way too young for that. A girl like her ought to be famous, not working in an ordinary high school office.
“Ariel Paris and my sister, Violet.” Ariel glanced over at Violet and winked. “I wondered what happened to your skinny ass,” she said to her sister.
“You should have waited for me.” Violet frowned, feeling out of sorts and confused by this apparition before her.
But before Ariel could answer, the beautiful girl interjected, “Oh, yes. We were expecting you.”
She pulled their schedules up on a computer screen and started typing away. After a couple of minutes, she printed out the programs and handed them to the sisters. “Welcome to Roseville High School.” She tapped the tips of her long nails on the counter.
Ariel just scowled at her. “Am I welcome?” she retorted in irritation. It seemed apparent to her that this girl was just full of crap.
The girl wasn’t put off. She looked at Ariel and bit the tip of her finger, eyeing her as if to let her know that she was checking her out, making opinions about her. “I see you don’t want to be here.” She grinned like she was in on a secret.
Ariel shrugged her off, rolling her blue eyes. “Come on Violet.” She pulled her sister by the arm toward the door, but when she got there, she couldn’t get it open.
An old woman waddled out of the office bathroom. Her eyes darted to the lioness. “Get out from there,” she yelled in a crabby voice. “Students are not allowed behind the counter.”
The golden haired beauty just shrugged while she subdued a smile. “Just wanted to help out, Miss Marks.”
“Well don’t.” The lady made her way over and the girl sauntered over to the door to help Ariel who still couldn’t get it open.
“What’s your name?” Violet whispered to her as she made room for her to help. Violet was surprised at what a rule breaker she was to take over the secretarial job without permission. It was kind of funny. A secret part of her felt a kindred to people with guts to mess around like that. That’s what she liked about Radley—he was always taking risks.
“I’m Drew Collins.” She pulled the doorknob right off and laughed.
The sisters looked at each other wide-eyed.
“What the hell?” Ariel said as she looked at Drew in wonder.
But the girl held her hand out, motioning Violet and Ariel through the exit. She just dropped the doorknob on the ground. “I know your names already,” she smirked. “We have almost every class together.” She looked at Violet as the three girls walked together through the outdoor halls. “You’re going to love this school. Even though there are only about four hundred and fifty students, most everybody’s so nice.”
Violet smiled wondering if Drew was totally clueless. It was already obvious that the cheerleaders were snots and the football players were lewd. But regardless of her unfounded optimism, she already liked Drew even though she wiped saliva on her face with her hanky only five minutes ago.
But Ariel looked bored as she stared at her, eyeing her red jacket. “It’s a little hot for velvet,” Ariel said to Drew.
Drew rolled her eyes and laughed as she looked up at the cement overhang. “I’m always cold. And anyway, I wear this because it’s my clique’s jacket.” She tilted an embroidered label on the front toward Ariel.
Ariel read the words. Her voice was laced with light condescension. “Crimson Devils.”
“What’s that?” Violet asked as she repositioned her headband and placed locks of her long black hair over her shoulders. She was surprised this girl would be in a club with such a dark name.
Drew winked like they were close buddies in on some inside joke. “Come, I’ll introduce you girls to my friends. They’re in the quad hanging out before school starts.”
Drew looked over at Ariel who was walking beside Violet in boredom. “They are going to love you,” she whispered specifically to Ariel. Violet wondered why she didn’t include her in that statement, but when she thought about it, she realized, why the hell would they like her?—hardly anyone ever did.
They walked through a row of lockers and stepped out onto the cement quad. Drew bent over to pick up a pen she dropped, but when she stood up, her hair was all in her face again. She rushed across the quad ducking like it was raining even though it was perfectly sunny out while the girls followed behind.
The football players were talking in a group now over by the lunch lines. Some of them were eating hot cinnamon rolls that they bought at school while others snacked on French fries. A few of them stopped talking or eating and stared at Violet and Ariel.
“Take a picture. It’ll last longer,” Ariel snapped at them as she, Violet, and Drew passed by.
Some of the guys laughed and one actually held his phone up and snapped a photo. And then he licked the screen of his phone where the picture was.
Ariel rolled her eyes as she mumbled under her breath, “So juvenile.”
Drew motioned with her head and they joined her friends who were leaning against a brick wall looking off in varying directions.
“Hey guys,” Drew almost sang the words in her liquid voice. “Meet Violet and Ariel. They are new to Roseville.”
The clique of pale faced girls looked at the sisters coldly, except for one girl with shiny red hair who smiled and backed away from them slightly like a wary fox. Violet was surprised how gorgeous all of Drew’s friends were. They all had such thick, luxurious hair. In different ways, each one of them had animal-like features. There was something wild looking about the group.
They were all wearing the same red velvet jackets that were much too hot for late August. From the way they stood, one crouched on the low wall, another with her fingers spread, supporting herself against the lockers, and the other two watching with stony eyes, Violet felt like prey.
“Hi, I’m Lucy.” The red head said to the sisters. She seemed a bit unpredictable like she might snap off their heads at any moment, but she was friendly. “Where are you from?”
Ariel was looking away down the hall now and didn’t answer, so Violet took the lead. “My dad took a position at a law firm in Roseville, so we left our hometown of Phoenix, Arizona.”
“Oh, I’ve been there,” Lucy added as she twisted her long hair up into a knot with the ends fanning out of the top like a fox tail. “Phoenix is so fricken hot!” She licked her lips.
Violet laughed politely. She was not comfortable and wanted to get to her first class. “You’re right. We make our houses as cold as refrigerators and never go outside in the summer.”
The other Crimson Devils were looking away now and Violet got the feeling they wanted them to leave. But before she could excuse herself, Drew introduced the others. “Violet and Ariel, this is Angie.” She pointed to the tallest skinniest one with long straight dark brown hair.
Angie nodded disinterestedly as she held her hand casually on her hip. She started to say something, but Drew interrupted motioning to her other friend, “This is Chanel.”
“Hi,” Chanel said in an ambiguous tone. She was thin with long legs and straight long blond hair. Her blue eyes sparkled out of her pale skin. But, like the others, she looked almost dangerous.
“And this is Nona.”
Nona’s eyes narrowed at the introduction. She had pale olive skin with black long layers of silky hair. Violet noticed that she had a dark, quirky air that reminded her of some of the gothic characters she had seen in movies.
“Okay,” Ariel said suddenly as she clapped her hands together once. “I’ve got to piss.”
Everyone, but Drew laughed.
“Want me to go with you?” Violet asked her sister.
But she was already walking away. She called over her shoulder, “I’ll be back soon.” As she started to jog, she glanced at her watch.
Violet noticed that the girls were looking at her conservative clothing. Uncomfortable, she felt entirely out of place with this group. She sensed that there was something not quite right about them. They were intimidating, maybe even a little frightening in some inexplicable way. She wished she was off somewhere reading a good book under a tree away from all people.
“Did you leave a boyfriend back in Arizona?” Angie asked in her husky voice that overpowered.
“Why do you ask?” Violet responded, trying to sound confident even though she felt like running away.
“You look love struck,” Chanel said as she tucked a strand of her blond hair behind her ear. Unlike the others, she slouched slightly in that cool girl way.
Her mind was whirling now as she shook her head and looked down at her hands. “Interesting that you sensed that.” She looked back at Chanel searching in her eyes as if they could give her some sort of reassurance. “I met a boy while vacationing at Blood Falls this summer. I thought we had something special, but I never heard from him again.”
“What’s his name?” Lucy asked excitedly. She couldn’t help but make a silly expression on her pretty pale face. To Violet’s surprise, something about her ways seemed almost genuine.
“Radley Aston.” Violet blushed when she said his name.
The Crimson Devils looked at each other and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” Violet asked in surprise.
“Oh, it’s nothing.” Drew put her arm around Violet’s shoulders and gave her friends a dirty look.
“What was he like?” Chanel asked. Her voice was edged with the slightest melancholy.
Violet’s face lit up uncontrollably when she described him. “Radley was the kindest, most genuine, heroic boy I have ever met. He was just real. You know what I mean?”
Everyone but Drew and Lucy chuckled.
“He sounds very sweet,” Angie’s husky voice was laced with sarcasm.
“Yes,” Violet agreed, wondering why Angie was such a bitch. “He is very well mannered.”
The girls laughed again.
Ariel couldn’t find the bathroom and was too proud to ask anyone in the halls. The first bell directing everyone to class was bound to ring anytime now and she still had to get back to her sister to save her from the witch models. She cut across a lawn and passed the library.
But just as she found the restroom, she noticed some attractive, but dangerous looking boys in black leather jackets joking around with each other under a thick cluster of trees on the lawn. Is that who she thinks it is? She took a second look. One of the boys looked like Radley Aston!
Oh, my God. Violet won’t believe it! It is… It’s him! He looked so different now. His face was paler and harder. His features looked sharper like anger had carved its way into the contours.
She was about to walk over to Radley, but then she heard her sister’s name. The idea of it was shocking. What could he possibly be saying about her to those wild guys?
“We don’t care about her name, bro,” Shark teased Radley. “We just want the action.” He ran his hand over his curly black hair.
Ariel flinched as she hid from them tucked away to the side of the wall of the entrance of the bathroom.
“Violet.” Henry sang the name in a high pitched tone. His smile broadened, showing his buck teeth, his only odd feature on his otherwise perfect face.
“Come on man. Who is she?” Nathan taunted as he unzipped his leather jacket. The blood rose to Ariel’s cheeks—that guy was hot with black straight hair and dark eyes like the Devil’s.
“Violet,” both Henry and Lewis sighed melodramatically. Lewis was almost as hot as Nathan. He just had blond hair which didn’t appeal to Ariel as much as Nathan’s black locks. And there was just something about that dark eyed devil that made her blood boil.
“Violet was cool,” Radley responded. “Big breasts.” He held his hands over his chest and squeezed. “Out of town chicks are the best—hump ‘em and dump ‘em.”
The guys laughed and gave each other high fives.
Ariel was incensed at the way they were talking about her older sister. She wanted to run out and slap Radley’s face, but she refrained. Violet was a virgin. There was no way she had sex with him.
“What about her ass?” Shark asked as he jumped around.
Radley grinned. “Round and tight. And she liked to use it if you know what I mean.”
Ariel couldn’t stomach anymore. Anger rushed through her veins. She hurried into the bathroom and purposely did not come out until the first bell rang, waiting until Radley and his friends were gone.
“Why don’t you and your sister come with us to the race Friday night between the Night Ryders and the Dirts?” Angie asked Violet in as sweet of a voice as she could muster.
The weather was heating up. Violet unbuttoned the top button on her blouse to cool off. “What kind of race?” she asked in a soft voice.
“Oh, do you think that’s a good idea?” Drew said to Angie. She sounded concerned.
“Hell yeah.” Angie ran her fingers through her dark hair. “It’s a motorcycle race.”
“Chicken,” Nona added. Her expression on her fine features looked mischievous.
“What?” Violet wondered if she was challenging her. “I’m not afraid. Should I be?”
They laughed. “We weren’t calling you chicken,” Nona said as she licked her lips. “It’s a chicken race. Two guys race with high stakes. The winner gets the honor for their gang.”
“Well, thanks for inviting me. Sounds fun. I’ll talk to Ariel about it.” Violet put her hands in her skirt pockets nervously.
“Come,” Drew said to Violet. “I’ll show you to English class. We’re in it together.”
“I wonder what happened to Ariel?” Violet thought out loud as she looked down the hall.
“She’s a junior,” Drew sighed. “She’ll be fine. It’s not like she’s a measly freshman, right?”
Violet just shrugged, not knowing how to respond. Because she was a year older than her, she couldn’t help but feel protective. She worried about her, especially since she was known to be a trouble magnet.
When they arrived at class, some of the kids were throwing wads of paper across the room. The teacher walked in and frowned. He stepped up to the podium and turned to write his name extraordinarily large across the white board. “Mr. Zappo!” He said it as he wrote.
The rest of the students filed in as the bell rang and everyone took seats. Violet sat beside Drew, but at the last second, Joaquin Elfman slipped in the desk beside her. In his conservative slacks and button down short sleeved shirt, he looked conservative in dress like Violet, but the tribal design tattoo down his arm confused her. He set his guitar in the aisle.
Once his tall, lithe body got settled in his seat, he glanced at Violet. His eyes nearly popped out of his head. He was so enamored that he thought he was sitting beside an angel. For a moment he fixated on her dimples when she smiled and her violet blue eyes that looked so innocent and heavenly. She looked like the sweetest girl he had ever seen.
Mr. Zappo jabbered on and on about all the books he was going to make them read and the endless array of quizzes and tests ahead. Violet loved English class, but feared this one was going to be challenging. Again, she noticed from the corner of her eye that Joaquin kept looking at her. He tousled his short, preppy brown hair with his fingers.
When class was over, he leaned over on her desk. “I’m Joaquin Elfman,” he said coolly. He held out his hand for her to shake it, but when she lifted hers to his he pulled it away and winked.
Violet tried not to laugh at his play. “I know. The teacher called your name during roll call.”
His brown eyes lit up. “You remembered?”
Violet noticed his Adam’s apple lifting in his throat. “It would be hard to forget.”
He chuckled and then stretched his arms over his head and leaned back in his chair. “So what do you do with yourself?”
Drew leaned in, her golden hair falling over one eye. “She likes hanging out with me and the Crimson Devils. Mostly, we just cast spells, but voodoo dolls are our specialty.”
He stepped back. “Lucky her.” Do you know how to dance?” He looked at Violet’s heart shaped lips and imagined parting them with his tongue.
Violet couldn’t help but gain interest at his question. “I’ve been taking tap dance lessons for the past ten years.”
“Perfect,” he chuckled, not caring one bit if she was the worst dancer in the world as long as he got to do what he wanted with her. “We need a new back up dancer for our rock band, Hell Razors. We can work together.”
“Really?” Violet was very interested even though she didn’t like the name of the band. She wasn’t that comfortable with Drew and her friends. The idea of dancing in a rock band, hopefully soft rock, sounded promising. “I want to audition.”
A huge smile spread on his face. “You’re hired. I just have to introduce you to Mr. Peters and the Hell Razors will love you.”
“It’s a paid position?” She had been saving up for a Ruger 10/22 for her secret gun collection and with the extra money she might just be able to get one.
“Sure is.” He tapped his fingers on the table. “You get paid with every gig. It’s small time so far, but the Indian reservations have us play and we’ve gotten some Ocotia Wells gigs. We practice every day during third period for music credit and for two hours after school.”
Violet looked at Drew who was gathering her books in her designer backpack.
“Go ahead,” Drew whispered. “I’ll see you after the break in history.” She smiled, showing her perfect white teeth. “Like I said, we have almost every class together. I’ll save you a seat.”
“Thanks, Drew.” Violet was touched at how kind she was being to her even if she did stare at her necklace a little too much. She wasn’t used to having girlfriends. Aside from Ariel, she had mostly been a loner at her other school. She had a few pals but she never seemed to connect with them in a genuine way.
And Drew looked like the popular type with her good looks and designer styles. Certainly, none of her friends had ever been popular. The whole idea of hanging out with the Crimson Devils was much too foreign and intimidating to her. The band practice was just what she needed to soothe her fears and keep her out of trouble. Maybe she could even learn to play the flutophone or the bagpipes.
Joaquin walked Violet over to the band room and introduced her to the teacher. He was tall and skinny with a hooked nose and dressed in slacks and a tie that he kept messing with.
Mr. Peters liked her immediately and enrolled her on the spot. Violet was relieved to have a place of refuge at school. She got to swap her cooking class for band credits. Every day she was to spend third period dancing and playing the tambourines and two hours after school practicing.
The teacher said that if they had enough time, he might help her learn the flutophone or the bagpipes like she asked, but he suggested singing with their voice coach. He explained that he was too busy to focus too much on a beginner student.
Aside from band class, she spent every period with Drew. That seemed like an odd coincidence to her that their schedules were the same, but it was reassuring knowing someone in all of her classes. To her surprise, Drew wanted to sit by her in each subject. She wasn’t used to getting that much attention from a girl.
“So you have to sit by us at lunch,” Drew said as they were walking out of calculus.
“Uh.” Violet paused for a moment. She wasn’t sure if she was up to spending time with the Crimson Devils. The day had been stressful enough so far and she didn’t feel like Drew’s friends liked her. Though, to her surprise, she was growing to like Drew. “Okay.” Her voice was hesitant.
“Come on,” Drew said cheerily. “They’re tough at first, especially Angie and Nona…”
“And Chanel,” she interrupted with a sigh.
Drew swayed her head side to side as if taking consideration of what Violet just said, “Okay—you’re right—and Chanel.” They started to cut across the lawn. Sunlight broke through the trees. “They are a bit intimidating, but Lucy is a goofball and a lot of fun. And eventually you’ll get used to the others.” She looked down and her hair fell in her eyes.
Violet smiled tightly. “I’ll go.”
Drew shrugged, still looking down. “Don’t let me force you,” she said in her sweet voice as she put her hands under her hair that was covering her face.
“No, I’ll go.” Violet’s smile lifted as the stepped under an overhang. “Thanks for inviting me.”
“Okay, great!” Drew’s expression was cheery now as she tossed her hair back and away.
As they walked through the crowds of students talking in the halls and hurrying off to lunch, Violet asked, “I didn’t notice a cafeteria. Where do we eat lunch?”
Her voice lifted in pitch. “Everybody just finds spots in the quad. Some kids eat on the lawns and others sit in groups along the short brick walls that circle the grass and trees.” She waved to a girl in the hall and blew a kiss to some guy with short hair in overalls.
When they got to the lunch area with their trays of food from the checkout, Violet was surprised to see Ariel sitting in the shade along the wall with the Crimson Devils. She was even laughing along with Angie. They looked like great friends already.
“Violet, come here—sit by me.” Ariel motioned her sister over.
Violet sat down beside Ariel and Drew sat beside Violet, but she didn’t sit too close. As usual, she always seemed to keep a considerable amount of personal space between them. That didn’t bother Violet though. She was used to people always crowding in on her and she considered Drew’s ways to be refreshingly polite and respectful.
Violet looked at Ariel suspiciously. “Have a good day so far?”
“Actually, it was,” she responded nonchalantly.
“We have every class together,” Angie said in her husky voice as she stared into Violet’s eyes making her uncomfortable.
“Oh.” Violet’s voice lifted to a higher pitch. “What a coincidence.”
“Yeah,” Ariel said flipping her brown locks. “Angie invited us to the race Friday night between the Dirts and the Night Ryders.”
“I know,” Violet breathed. “She told me to ask you.”
Ariel’s eyebrows scrunched. “We’re going.”
“Uh, alright.” Her sister’s strong conviction surprised her. “I guess we can do that. As long as it’s over by ten.”
Ariel shook her head in annoyance. She was frustrated with her father’s strict curfews. But rather than complaining, she simply rejoined in conversation with Angie and now Nona.
Suddenly, the loud roar of motorcycle engines sounded through the lunch area as a gang of motorcycle riders entered the parking lot in view of the quad.