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Everything posted by Marissa Jauntsen

  1. "No, it's fine, I get it," Marissa smiled. "Sorry, I'm kina coming down from whatever we lived through and I could probably talk your ear off. That's not a bad idea, though. I'd love to help you out. God, I'm pretty sure I was born in heels, so this will be a snap. Just text me and I'll come by," her face winced every time she sipped the coffee, announcing that it was offensive to her palate. "Okay, this is some gross coffee." The two laughed for a moment, "Right?" Autumn snickered. "I didn't want to say anything, it's free, I would've felt bad, but... wow." "Ugh," she waved off Autumn's attempt at politeness. "Don't worry, I'll say it if you don't. I'll be me so you don't have to," she smirked. "Besides, I need to see this dress of yours so I can select a makeup palette for you. Something light so as to not hide those beautiful freckles of yours but still make your eyes pop. Trust me, with my help, Jason's heart is going to get up to at least six, maybe seven beats per minute, easily." She smirked, poking fun at Autumn's stoic boyfriend. "I uh, guess we should head back, and... thanks." Without warning Marissa wrapped her arms around Autumn and held her tightly before finally letting her go. "Friends are nice, I like this." Marissa chuckled. The redhead at her side scoffed bemusedly. "Eh, it's new to you. The novelty will fade in a few weeks." "That's fine, just as long as you remember that I'm in charge," her bestie said in a mirthful tone. "Oh no." Autumn chuckled. "No, no, no." "Yup, totally am. I make the rules." They stepped into the hallway and made their way back to the infirmary, both hearts a little lighter than they were a moment ago.
  2. Marissa shrugged, cup already in hand as she surveyed her options for second rate coffee. One of the nurses, for some reason just couldn't keep her eyes off them as they browsed. "It is what it is," she said glumly, holding her blanket to cover herself as she decided. "And thank you. You know, for saying you're my friend. I'm horrible at it, I know, but aside from my brother I've never really had real connections with people, sooo..." "It's like, look at my mom, right? Tell me I'm not like her, you totally can't right? I know I'm horrible and changing isn't as easy as simply saying it, it's like... cardio for inner peace: you're intentions are to change, but no one ahs time for an hour on the karma bike five or more days a week, it's stressful and tiring and we all have better things to do. Full disclosure, I didn't join up with you guys to save the world or make friends, I saw Cody... or, rather what he'd become, by 'saw' I mean in the word-of-mouth sense." She filled her cup with the magic brain-zoom fluid and couldn't help but notice the nurse still staring at them, a hefty, angry looking woman that looked like she should be instructing German boot-camp not helping with the wellbeing of people. "His choices, his hate, his avarice... those made him into that thing and all I could think was: we have no idea how he got that way. Was he offered a deal and took it or was his name added to the dotted line slowly and methodically over time as he consciously allowed himself to be cruel and depraved and... Autumn, a part of me wonders how many letters of my name I'm up to on the dotted line... I don't want to end up like that." "So... I escape. Party a little bit, meet up with guys in Great Falls. Sometimes I just do it at home and once I did it too hard and now everyone knows," she sighed and chortled morosely. "Because my mom is hell bent on making sure she ruins anyone's life who is having a better time, prettier, or just plain enjoying themselves because she's fucking miserable. I still haven't told her my card got punched, of my god she is going to lose her mind." Finally she rolled her eyes and sighed and looked to old nurse and confronted her. "What?" The nurses didn't say anything and just averted her eyes for a moment, going back to some paperwork on a clipboard. Marissa whispered. "Christ, some people." She sipped her coffee, smiling at her 'bestie'. "This is nice." she laughed. "Talking. Maybe it's the endorphins and adrenaline wearing off, but-," the blood soaked teen again noticed the nurse glaring and Marissa pursed her lips and glared back. "Yes, lady, that right, take it in. We're soaked in blood and covered in bandages the same way unfulfillment and poor life decisions cling to you like a cloud of misspent youth and lifetime of regret." Cup to her lips Autumn's eyes couldn't get much wider as they darted back forth while her friend made a scene. "So go deliver your towels or bedpans or whatever they trust you to handle Kronk, and don't worry about what's going on over here." Annoyed, but defeated, the nurse simply shook her head and walked off. With a scoff, the Queen of Mean sipped her coffee again. "I swear, people are so rude. Anyway, like I was saying, maybe it's those wearing off, but it feels good to just not be in bitch mode, y'know? Despite my mom, I'm pretty relaxed right now. Happy to be alive, I guess."
  3. Mr. Jauntsen nodded and offered Autumn a smirk she immediately identified as a hereditary trait. "Please, call me Carl." Marissa scoffed and wiped under her eyes, smearing her makeup even more as she got her bestie as far from her father as she could. "C'mon, coffee sounds great. I need out of here." She'd never quite heard Marissa's voice so low and devoid of its imperious tone. Even at her kindest Marissa always seemed to carry herself as the person in charge, yet now she sounded morose, shattered even, like a woman who'd retired her feelings hours ago and just stopped caring. Her hair was knotted together with sticky, dried blood and some of it had been wiped away from her face, her makeup had smeared and washed down her cheeks in blackened streaks that mingled with the patches of dried crimson and rust-brown. Combined with the shredded leather of her outfit she looked like she could be the front woman for a metal band. She certainly had some height on her bestie, especially with her heels on, echoing in the passageway as the two ladies searched for a coffee station. They warranted a few looks from others as they made their way. The hospital wasn't unfamiliar with the occasional traumatizing injury, but it wasn't everyday a wild-haired ginger girl scout covered in blood was paired in the halls with a raven-haired prostitute, also covered in blood, were seen wandering the halls on a quest for magic bean water. Finally, Marissa broke the silence between the two with a sigh. "So, you've met my family, now. See where I get it from? Ugh," she huffed and rolled her eyes. "My mom is such a bitch. My brother and I are so fucking useless in their eyes, I mean, why even have kids if you're not going to give a shit about them?" Autumn wasn't quite sure if she was address the redhead, or just speaking to hear her own thoughts.
  4. Marissa leaned over and bumped her brother lightly. "You look like shit," she smiled. Devin smiled back and rolled his shoulders a bit. Marissa had caught the worst of it between the two, yet she'd never tried calculating a blind dimensional warp either. His body felt like it did when I tried to teleport in the Void without his bracelet. Like his insides were shifting and moving to places under his skin they shouldn't belong. "Look at you," he directed his attention with a nod of his head. "Warrior Queen of Shelly, now." "Pfft," she rolled her eyes, straining to smile. "Queen of Mean is fine. You guys are welcome to all the heroics, it's killer on my wardrobe. So, Mom's going to loose her mind, you know that right?" Her brother nodded, his gaze locked on the floor. All he offered her was a 'yep'. "...and turn a profit off of us." Again, her brother nodded and replied the same, his gaze still locked on the tiles of the floor like he saw something in their pattern that no one else could. "I'm not doing that again, Deej. It was torture the first time and I'm living through 4AM work-outs and practices and eighteen-hour days of..." she sighed and relaxed. "I'm just not. I'm not doing it again." He felt the same way. While their mother may have meant well, the Twins' upbringing was sheltered and nothing short of regimented education and training and practices that prepared them for auditions that would hopefully lead them to child stardom. The only reason they hadn't made it, was their mother placing too many demands on the studios that were interested in hiring them. It wasn't uncommon for parents to ruin their children's careers in Hollywood before they'd ever taken flight. "Em, we'll be fine. Mom can't make us do anything. I don't have to teleport or warp a damn thing, and neither do you. If worse comes to worse, I blip her to an island to calm down." "Is that so?" Came the voice of Misti Jauntsen, their mother, from behind them. Both the twin's eye widened and glared straight ahead of them at the sound of the matronly tone her greeting carried. Sean smirked. He wasn't sitting to far away from them, but he saw her easily as the twins were lost in their conversation, assuming the opening door was just another member of the staff. "Coulda said something, Light Brite." Devin shot the intersexed boy a glare. "You're right," Sean reclined a bit. His smile didn't fade. "I could have." Seeing the Twins' honestly fearful of something not spawned from the Dark was almost cathartic. Misti stepped around the examination table to face her twin children, placing her weight on one leg as she leaned and crossed her her to glare at them both. Devin looked up at her, a mischievous grin (as always) on his face. "For the record, Mom, it woulda been like... a really nice island. Like, Miami." "Miami isn't an island, idiot." Marissa looked at her idiot brother, muster the energy to slap him in the arm. "You're thinking of Maui, ass-tart." "Both of you shut up," her voice wasn't a worried mother's panicked tone. Misti had arrived at the stage in her worry where she was now angry with her children for not only worrying her and their father, but for putting themselves in danger to begin with. "Now, I know you two think you were doing the right thing, but what you did was stupid and you should have called the Sheriff. I expect this sort of foolishness from your brother, Marissa-" "Thanks, mom," Devin nodded sarcastically, but she didn't falter in her speech. "-But you?" Her glare set on her daughter. "Now, I understand that I've seen something pretty strange today, and we're going to get into that when there is more time, but running off after that girl-" "Sophia, Mom." Marissa cut her off with a whisper. Neither of the twins were looking at their mother, which told the others that if there was someone in the world they feared, it was her, despite how much bravado they might muster to the contrary. "That girl," she mouthed off. "Has a name." "Do not test me, Marissa Beatrice, or so help me." The single digit pointed threateningly at her daughter finished the threat without anything else needing to be said. "Going after a murderer and a kidnapper? What the hell were you two thinking? You could have been hurt or killed. Look at you!" "You think we don't know that?" Devin said calmly. "What like the eight of us were just skipping through the woods eating the candy that grew on the trees and we just Hodoor'd our way into a murderer/kidnapper boss fight?" "You should have called the-" "He knew, Mom!" Marissa huffed. "He's known. Christ, if you'd listen once in awhile." Their mother just shook their head in disappointment. "And look at the two of you." She took Marissa's arm. Her daughter winced from the pain of numerous cuts and the reddening of the bandages applied all over. "Jesus, Marissa. Your personality is garbage, your grades are average... and now this? Scars? Was over dosing not enough, you just have to go and ruin your looks also? In spite of the pain Marissa yanked her arm away from her mother and promptly covered her face in embarrassment as her mother blurted out secrets she'd prefer had remained quiet. "Jesus Christ, Mom." She mumbled softly and everyone caught the 'I fucking hate you' that followed as she fought back tears. "Gee, Mom," Devin slipped in, intentionally placing himself in his mother's crosshairs like a dutiful brother should. "No pep talk for me?" "Devin," she looked to him, already bored with where any conversation with her son might take her. "If your not in prison by the time you're eighteen, it'll be a miracle. We both know that. When you two get home, there's going to be some changes. No phones. Your cars, and motorcycle, gone. No more credit cards, nothing. Your father and I have been far too lenient on you two since we came here and it's done. You two are out of control and it ends, tonight." "Hail the conquering heroes." Devin said lazily. "If we do our homework, will you ground us for it?" "Misti," Carl stepped into the room. He'd leaned in the doorway for a moment, after having gone to get some coffee, and listened to his wife destroy their children. "You're angry. They're tired and have been through a very traumatic experience. Now is not the best time for anyone to be making decisions about anyone's future." "Carl, no-" she glared at her husband, about to raise a finger in protest, when he stepped in and, heedless of the other gathered children, stopped just inched from his wife's face, his eye locked on hers. "Michelle, enough." There was obvious anger in his voice. "You want to lose your shit, you do it at home, but god damnit we will not have you going on one of your holier than thou tirades in the hospital for God's sake. Get it together." Awkward didn't begin to describe the silence that followed. The Twins kept their heads down, apparently used to their parents confronting one another like this and learned long ago that it was best to simply stay small and let the whole thing, hopefully, blow over them. Misti inhaled and tightened her jaw while Carl looked on, practically begging her to challenge him. She instead chose to excuse herself and inform her husband and children that she'd be going out for some air and would meet them at the vehicles after Carl had checked them out. He inhaled and let it our slowly as he offered an apologetic smile to the other's still in the room. "I'm sorry you had to see that." "I figured it out," Devin said softly. "Why I can do what I can do. It's so we can get away from her, from both of you." "Devin, she didn't mean those things. She's stressed and angry, and she's been anxious with worry all evening." He was trying and it was obvious, but there were only so many ways to defend a woman like Misti when she was angry and got to spewing vitriol. It was painfully obvious, however, where Marissa got it from. "I know she's difficult just, give her some time. No one is taking your toys away, don't worry." "We don't care about the toys, Dad," Marissa leaned over and held her brother, preferring the tears she couldn't keep in anymore to be hidden by him then be seen by her new friends. He wrapped his arm around her and used his blanket to not so subtly hide his sister from the others. "If we wanted toys Dad, I would have just bamfed into a bank vault by now, or better yet, just bamfed the whole the damn thing to me." "Wait," his father's posture completely changed and his head tilted curiously at an angle. "You can do that?"
  5. One moment she was yelling taunts at Cody and right after the great beast was shot, pummeled, burned lazed and was screaming infernal curses at the crimson sky while the Tree wailed and thrashed on the horizon. She looked at the group of teens, weapons at the ready with nimbuses of power swirling about them. “Holy shit…” was all she could muster under a stuck breath. Gathering her wits, finally, she ran to meet with her brother(s), pausing to look at the Devin holding Tawny. Her finger waved between the both of them. “I-I'm not even going to ask what this is…” “You got her?” Devin-Holding-Sophia asked Autumn. When she assured him with a nod, he faded away, or rather slowed down and almost seemed to ‘vibrate’ out of existence. “Good,” Devin replied to Marissa. “Because I couldn’t even begin to explain it.” She knelt beside Tawny, wiping some blood off the young blonde’s cheek but all it really did was smear it more. While her brother was holding her so tight, the worry in his eyes, she pondered the volumes of books she could fill with the hidden dialogue behind his eyes and prayed that one day she would find that sort of love. The kind where her someone would look at her the way her brother looked at Tawny. “Mother fucker.” She heard Autumn say. The redhead’s eyes were locked on the distant horizon, where the Meadow of Malaise met the Ivory Forest of Bone. “Not good. So un-fucking-good.” Although Marissa couldn’t detect them the way Autumn or Sean could, once she knew where to look her eyes could faintly make out the charging army of unmentionables. “Ohmygod.” Her heart sank. One Not-Cody was one thing, but there was no way they could battle an army the size of what was storming across the fields. “GUYS! We need to go!” She pointed long enough to direct everyone’s attention to the charging monsters. “Devin!” she knelt again, looking at her brother intently. “You need to do the thing, with the thing and we all 'boop'. You know... the thing! You need to get us the fuck out of here,” she reached for Tawny, to take care of the blonde so Devin could work his magic. “I got her!” He snapped at her, tightening his grip. Guilt kept him from letting her go as his eyes pleaded for a thousand, wordless apologies. Shelly’s Queen tightened her lips and clasped her brother’s cheeks, turning his head to face her and letting their eyes meet. “This is not your fault Devin. She’ll be fine, but we need to go. You need to let her go and open a portal.” There was no violet shimmer behind her words, only the harsh truth. “It’s my fault. You wanted to stop, I didn’t and I pushed and pushed and maybe all of this isn’t our doing, but yeah… we helped. I helped. If I had just listened to you...” “Now help me make it right, Deej,” tears slid down her cheeks. She leaned in, pressing her forehead to her brothers. “I’ve never had friends, we’ve never had friends, we've always jsut been each other's Ride or Die,” she looked to Tawny, and pulled back, meeting her brother’s eyes again. “But she’s my friend too, so let’s get her home. Let’s get everyone home, I don’t want to lose anymore friends Devin.” She forced a smile and a laugh. “We just got them… we haven’t run them through their paces yet.” They both chuckled a bit. Shifting Tawny’s weight towards his sister, Devin stood as she cradled the unconscious blonde. “Watch after her, I’ll see what I can do.” Marissa struggled. Between the slick blood, her not being very strong to begin with and having never really trying to cradle an unconscious teen in her lap, she huffed and grunted with her loose, slick grip, trying to get Tawny to hold firmly in place but instead it looked like an awkward in scene from Weekend at Bernie's. “Ohm’god,” she grunted, trying to hold the knot of arms and torso still. “I don’t know what he sees in you… you are so fat. Come on sister, don’t do this to me…” “Cade!” she finally yelled as the uncontrollable blob that was Tawny slid through the muck and malaise while Marissa clumsily chased after her. “Baby! Get her, please!” It appeared that Death would arrive with a half-smile in its face.
  6. “No!” Marissa managed to squeal out as the giant beast launched towards her brother. Her hands cupped over her mouth as he teleported away and then a second time. He was safe, but her heart had sunk into the very pit of her stomach at the thought of her brother being harmed. She felt she needed to do something, but what? Autumn and Cassie took off for the skull, but she could see the hesitation in Not-Cody as hie eyes panned from a desire to defend the skull and it’s rage for killing Devin… Dumbest plan ever. She chastised herself, internally, but didn’t have any time to think up something better. Whether it was fear or courage that breathed life into her voice she wasn’t sure, but the Queen of Mean raised her voice at the Not-Cody-Beast. “Hey!” She shouted at Cody, trying to stand tall and unafraid against the creature. “Don’t you blame my brother for your stupidity you… shriveled little whining incel. No one ever made you do a damn thing. You were pathetic and broken loooong before my brother and I ever got near you.” She tossed in a stern point of her finger and a goose neck for added punctuation. “But oooooh, no…” she chastised. “Poor little Cody. You’re a fucking sociopath, Cody. From the things you said to the way you treated people… you wanna be mad at someone? Be mad at me!” Marissa’s thumbs declared that she should now be the center of attention as her words seemed empower her to take a few sloshing steps in the festering cysts that passed as the firmament in this bizarre place. “Do you know why Katie Shelton didn’t go out with you? Because I told her not to. I warned her you were a fucking creepster. And after she turned you down, we laughed at how you just brooded in the corner like a mewling little simp.” She scoffed at him and folded her arms while delivering the most unimpressed look anyone had seen. “Courtney told us, Cody. We all know. What? Did you think getting a bigger dick in your head would make up for the lack of personality in your pants?” The great beast’s chest heaved as his eyes left Devin and ignored the runners altogether. His rotting lips, or what remained, locked tight in a grimace as his brow furrowed, illuminated by the dull red of his soulless eyes. Like a mighty silverback he threw his arms up and slammed them into the soft ground as he bellowed with rage, splashing liquid and questionable-kibble bits. He faced the gorgeous brunette, whose perfect beauty and rumors of her promiscuity had left his imagination to wander on more than one sleepless occasion, roared loud enough to match lions on the savannahs of Africa. His claws sunk deep into the decay and malaise and his muscles tensed. Autumn and Cassie would have the time they needed, Devin was planning something, and the others too… maybe everything would be okay, she thought, until a flash in her mind spun a tale of all the horrible things she’d ever done to the others and it occurred to her that she wouldn’t blame them if they used the opening, she’d given them to go after the skull, like sensible people should. Yeah… Dumbest plan ever.
  7. "Yeah," Shelly's socialite leaned down resting her chin on Sean's shoulder and was so close he could smell her shampoo. He remembered thinking that if she were ever that close to him, it would be so she could tear his throat out with her teeth. "First times are never as fulfilling as you expect them to be." She said so innocently that they were left to wonder if she was trying to funny or was actually being serious. A few tight lipped grins were well hidden in the darkness as Cade slowly turned his head to look at her, hit expression a slate of a wordless 'seriously' uttered with a stare. The diva looked at him, her innocent demeanor never faltering. "What? I'm talking about travel, Cadums. I swear." "Uh, huh." Cade managed a smirk as he slowly nodded. Marissa smirked devilishly now, letting this small segue break the gloom of rancid depression in the air. Cade approached Devin, placing a big hand on his shoulder as the teleporter was wiping blood away from his nose with the back of his hand. "We better get this ass kicking done in a hurry if I'm going to have time to hit the Home Depot and get that dog house your sister just put a down payment on." Though expression remained cold and determined, Devin smiled. "Okay, nerds," she stepped up, casting a glare at Cade that told him there was no chance in Hell he'd ever doghouse her lovin'. "C'mon, cast your buffs and let's go, before I lose my nerve, because that place looks like it's going to be terrible for my complexion and I have a very robust skincare doctrine and I just hope you all realize the sacrifices I'm willing to make for you." "...and the continuation of the existence of all three thousand souls that live in this small town?" Jason's cool green eyes locked on her dark glare. "Sure, why not," she shrugged as an after thought. "But I swear, if I get one zit... I'm blaming all of you." They could see how hard she was trying. To not be scared. To not keep looking into the Hellscape yawned itself open and shattered their resolve with a dare that none of them had the courage to venture onward. Yeah. They could see how hard she was trying.
  8. Marissa had slithered off with her bag, a large, gaudy leather backpack that prominently displayed 'GUCCI' in brass letters. As Autumn changed at her house with Devin and Jason and Cade organized equipment, they barely noticed her missing. She was walking out from behind some tall bushes, sheathed head to toe in all black with her signature black 'hiking heels', and as always, she looked like a million bucks. Autumn and Devin reappeared but a moment later, as Marissa's bag hit the table cueing Cade and Jason to stop for a moment and take in her day to night transformation. She'd went from jeans and a halter top with bright red lips, looking like all kinds of all American dream girl to a faux-leather clad Valkyrie whose lips were about to go back to their trademark maroon if her wiping her lips with the makeup cloth seemed to have a say in the matter. "If anybody needs a hair-tie, speak now or forever hold your peace." Autumn declared while offering up a handful of them. She took a moment to shift and sift through numerous things in her pack, which seemed to be more small pouches of makeup (sorted by color scheme and style), a phone charger (totes mandatory), an emergency battery for her phone (just in case), the clothes she wore to the Carousel... and that seemed about it. "Here!" Leaving her bag, she walked over to Autumn, hand out expectantly as it seemed hair ties was the one important thing she forgot. She groaned in relief. "You are a life saver. Two head bands, but not a single hair tie, god, what was I thinking?" "Four-inch heels, Marissa." Autumn nodded, her lips a thin line withholding to the urge to laugh or choke her 'bestie' out on the spot. "Very practical for trotting around a Hellscape." "Right?! And they totally go so well with this outfit, plus I got them at a steal. Normally they're like, five hundred and seventy, but I totally managed to get them for four hundred and seventy. I was so stoked that they got here just in time for the showdown. It's like absolute bad-assery at a premium." It had dawned on them that the boots she was wearing were not the original pair she'd worn a week or so prior. No. Marissa not only had one pair, but saw it necessary to buy a second pair for the sole purpose of having a new set of boots to battle The Dark in. No flashlight, no food, no water... but hey, she had a new pair of heels to show off to Not-Cody. Devin just shook his head, a smile across his lips, as if to say: 'this is my everyday folks'. "Autumn?" Her tone shifted to something more serious and Autumn could see how Marissa's gaze shifted to her brother who just silently nodded at her. She was getting used to understanding their silent communication as the twins had a way of quietly planning and then confirming those plans with simple glances or gestures to one another. “So um, look I know we fight, like, a lot and I totally forgive you for that, but I wanted you to know… uh, that’s what I like about you. You’re not a ‘yes girl’. You have opinions and you call me on my shit of which I know there is a lot. You have a good heart and a good soul, which I’m not oblivious to the fact that I have neither. We sort of compliment the other and it’s really cool. You have a big heart and soul and I got, well, everything else.” Her hands traced down her own frame obviously signifying that Marissa was blessed with beauty, money, the perfect body, and Autumn at least got a decent personality. It was strange hearing Marissa stammer in a search for words as she spoke. She was always so composed and knew exactly what to say to press someone’s buttons. Now, however, she seemed to to just be playing it by ear… actually speaking from her black, shriveled, ice-encrusted void she called a heart. “When I saw you with Jason earlier,” Autumn visibly tensed, preparing for another bitch bout with Marissa but her bestie shook her head in an attempt to calm her down. “No, no… I’m not looking to start anything, really. Hear me out. I’m trying to say that you looked really happy, and you deserve that. Life isn’t always fair, and none of us asked for this, but I want you to know that behind all my overly critical appraisals, bitter comments and bitchy attitude… I uh… I am thankful and grateful that you are my best friend and that you found some small sliver of happiness.” Her eyes were adopting the sheen of emotion overload. “My, um, only friend, actually.” “So, look… stop listening to me. If he makes you happy, then please be happy. You deserve that much, right? It’s seriously in short supply in this fucked up town and we could all use a bit it, right? I can’t go back in time and make all those things I said and did to you go away, Autumn, but… I’m s-…” she paused, literally unable to say she was sorry. She took a deep breath, composed herself and carried on. “I am sorry. I was wrong and despite all that I did… I… I would like for us to be friends. If, you know, we live through this.”
  9. When We Two Parted Chet was still in the group, his punishment as of yet, undecided. The twins had kept the goings on a secret, not mentioning that Chet was involved in the blackmail, only Terry. It had been an awkward week or so, but Marisa did a fine job of ignoring him despite his numerous apologies. Devin, on the other hand, was quick to put the equivalent of a retraining order out on him. He wasn’t allowed to talk to, text, email, even write a letter to Marissa to the point where he was obsessively enforcing it. Still, Chet managed to sneak in a few words here or there. The others began to wonder what was going on, but it was summer and most drama swept away swiftly in order to free up time for the next available party. Chet on the other hand was nervous… there was always a price. Those were the rules. He’d went after the Jauntsens only to lose and so far, aside from Devin locking down on him talking to Marissa, they didn’t seem to have cared at all that it happened. That worried him more than anything. The swimming hole was packed and in full swing, Devin had almost goaded Jacob into a fight until the more mature and levelheaded teenager just walked away from him. Devin declared himself the winner. Through the masses Marissa made her way to the boundaries of the beach were to the shade of a tree where one of her fellow classmates was reading a book. She stopped in front of him, looking down at him as she waited for him to notice her. He didn’t. Jason Bannon wasn’t the sort of type that expected company. He was engrossed in the pages of a book he’d read numerous times. It had been committed to memory on the first read through, years ago, but despite his perfect memory there was just something about holding a book; the way it felt, its scent, the relaxion he felt as his eyes poured over the words on a page. At this moment those words were Lord Byron’s ‘She Walks In Beauty’, a poem that framed the perfect beauty and goodness of an idealized woman yet he made no attempt to give his subject any individuality, instead making her universal, so that any man in love can see his inamorata in the verses. She walks in beauty, like the night / Of cloudless climes and starry skies / And all that’s best of dark and bright / Meet in her aspect and her eyes / Thus mellowed to that tender light / Which heaven to gaudy day denies... Serendipity, it seemed, was not without a sense of irony. She cleared her throat. “Do you not see me standing here?” “I do. But, caring that you’re there and knowing that you’re there are separate things.” He said, not looking up from his book. “You’re Jason Bannon, right?” Now he looked up from his pages, scanning his guest from the wedge heels on her feet to the cut off shorts to the black bikini top. Her hair was unbound and falling over her shoulders and he didn’t understand why she wore makeup to go swimming, but he did notice she’d returned to wearing her trademark maroon lip gloss. “What are you reading?” She bent over to glance at the title, offering him an enticing angle of her breasts. He was certain she did it on purpose. “Lord Byron? Interesting choice.” “I am.” He replied. He let the book close onto his thumb, keeping his page but giving her his attention. “Why is it an interesting choice?” “Because it’s the last sort of literature I’d expect to find in the hands of one of you bumpkins out here Nowhere, Montana,” she glanced around to make sure none were able to hear their conversation. “Look, I know you deal. No bullshit, I’m in the market and curious as to what you can offer.” “Grow my own, standard strains, plus a few I grew on my own.” He stood, letting the bumpkin comment go for now. Brushing himself off, he took in a different angle of her. He knew exactly who she was, who didn’t? She’d always been so beautiful to him, even in the ever-changing climate of high school where styles and people and fads changed daily, she always seemed to be the same measure of perfect beauty no matter how she changed it up. People never interested him much, accept her. She was interesting to him and before he knew it, he’d caught himself staring. “What?” She asked as his eyes paused for too long on her. “Nothing,” the simple word was delivered in its usual monotone. “Prices are fair and a small percentage under the going rates from a few others around here, plus, confidentiality. Usually, I only deal using dead drops, but for Marissa Jauntsen, I could work in person. Save you some time and money.” “Can you get oxy, hydro, addies, maybe?” It was back to business for her, but she didn’t let the way his eyes had locked onto her escape her. She didn’t know that Jason Bannon was unlike any other gentleman she’d encountered thus far in her illustrious introduction to ‘how to be a celebrity and hit rehab by nineteen’. He was wired differently than most, and his gaze being locked on her didn’t mean a door was opening for her to manipulate him like she did everyone else, it just simply meant what it implied: in this moment Marissa was the most attractive distraction he’d had so far today. “Oxies and hydro will kill you,” he shook his head. He knew she was a partier, but he didn’t know she was that dedicated. “I don’t deal death; I deal a good time. Addies? I can make my own and their moderately less addicting, so use responsibly. Easy recipe, lasts longer and, according to my positive Yelp reviews, the sex is amazing.” “Haven’t tested it yourself?” She flirted with a raised eyebrow and mischievous grin. “No,” he replied dryly. “Dealing 101. Don’t get high off your own supply. Now, they are more expensive, but they’ll keep you alert longer and keep those grades up. Trust me. Fifteen each.” “I’ll take three hundred dollars’ worth, when can I pick them up?” It wasn’t often Jason was taken by surprise, let alone put on his heels, even if temporarily, but her request left him completely off guard. He wasn’t even sure he had three hundred dollars worth made at the moment, generally he could get by with ten at a time or so, it kept production costs low and the product fresh. Shelly was a very small market, not really a big spender type of community. When he started dealing, he went in knowing that it was for side money, not to pay his way through college. Marissa though? This girl was on a whole new level. “Tomorrow,” when her expression turned sour, he explained. “Fresh batch, just for you. Let you test the product right from me to you. Nothing that’s been lying around. I don’t keep a phone, so you can’t text me or call me. You need something, you speak to me directly. Business is discreet and if you do something stupid like tell all your friends or get caught and my name comes up, we’re done. Period. If all that is okay with you, meet me here tomorrow. If not, then it was a nice to meet you in person, finally.” “I like you,” she cooed like she’d just found a new toy to play with. He was blunt, honest and the best part was he meant every word of it. He wasn’t afraid of her and that was new. “Smart, and you know how to do business. I can respect that.” “Not bad for a bumpkin. I know.” His tone was about as sarcastic as he could manage. She reached down, slipping the book from his grip and looking at its cover. It was well worn and showed that veteran status of being one he’d returned to a lot throughout the years. “He’s one of my favorites, you know.” She said, holding it almost lovingly. She seemed gentler with poetry than she was with people. “Is he now?” Jason asked, glancing to the book in her hand then back into her eyes. He wasn’t one to judge, but she didn’t seem the poetry type if he was being honest with himself. “When we two parted / In silence and tears,” she began, her voice soft and dangerously close to passionate. She stepped forward, tracing a sharp red fingernail down his chest to his abs where she stopped to meet his eyes. “Half broken-hearted / To sever for years / Pale grew thy cheek and cold / Colder thy kiss / Truly that hour foretold / Sorrow to this.” She recited by heart only the first verse, but the one she chose was one about the finality of a previous relationship, perhaps something secret and forbidden and Jason immediately made the correlation between it, and their dealings. Perhaps he has misjudged her, and suddenly had made her infinitely more interesting. She turned and walked away from him; his book still cradled gently in her hand. “My book.” He reminded her. She just kept walking, turning back only to smile flirtatiously at him. “See you tomorrow.” She was several steps away and he was still standing there, pondering the events, the poem, her thievery. Trying to understand the ‘peopling’ in it all. He lit up a hand rolled cigarette and looked at the Royal Suite where the ‘It’ crowd laughed and passed the time. Marissa sat on her towel, reading Lord Byron and completely uninterested in anything else. “The hell just happened?”
  10. The Bitch Came Back... Chet’s bedroom was dimly lit, and the sounds of Top 40 Hits played from Chet’s phone to his Bluetooth speaker as muted background noise. His parents were out tonight, spending time with friends in what Chet knew would be a late night of cards and drinking. He’d snuck Marissa in not shortly after they’d left. She bit her bottom lip and arched her hips. She let out a soft moan as her fingers ran through Chet’s short red hair. He suddenly stopped and looked up from between her thighs, his breath short and lips glazed with her arousal. “Did you?” He asked. She opened her now rolling eyes and sighed and her body relaxed lazily as she felt dryness creeping to her nethers. “No, Chet. I moaned. Just like the last time you asked me. You don’t have to stop every time I make a peep and ask if I’ve had my orgasm.” “Oh,” he looked like he was about to get back to it when she compressed her thighs together and barred any further activity. “You know what? This isn’t working for me.” She pushed herself up on his bed, fixing herself as she shimmied her skirt back down. “What? Come on, it was getting good,” he protested while standing up. “We haven’t done shit but kiss for the past month! Who hasn’t gone all the way after a month of dating in this town?” Men, Marissa had figured out, were not a highly intelligent bunch. They were easily distracted by provocative underwear, cleavage, and the occasional make out session. She needed Chet distracted tonight and knew kissing would just be old hat at this point, so she let them start out with some heavy petting and she slowly guided his hands to places she hadn’t before. Like a fish on a hook, he was baited and eating out of her… well, hand, so to speak. What she hadn’t planned on was him being so abysmally horrible at it. His observation, however, boiled her blood. She wanted to go off on him and remind him that he was a blackmailing prick, and she would never date him, but she needed him calm tonight. “It’s not you, it’s me.” The Devil on her shoulder rolled around with laughter while the Angel… well, there was no Angel. “I mean, come on, can you blame me? I need to be able to trust you.” “You can!” His reply was quick, just like she knew it would be. He was almost pleading, begging her with his statement and she was used that tone in a guy’s voice when he just really wanted to get what he wanted and was willing to say anything to get it. “Baby, you can trust me with anything.” She knelt on his bed and walked over to where he stood at the edge. Wrapping her arms around him she smiled a red lipped smiled just before she kissed him. Her tongue seductively traced his lips, seemingly uncaring that he’d not wiped his face clean of her dampness yet, and that only turned him on even more. After the passionate moment she pulled away and smacked him gently on his broad chest a few times. “We’ll try again in a bit, promise. Now, go wash your face.” She said playfully. His gullible smile was all she needed to see before he marched of to the bathroom to do as she asked. Now, all she needed was to disassociate herself from her brother tonight to make it look like she wasn’t aware of what was going on. “Hey, have you heard from my brother at all tonight? I text him earlier and he’s not replying,” she spoke loudly so he could hear her. “Yeah!” He yelled over the water running into the sink. “He’s out with Cody and Todd.” The water fell silent and he walked back into his room, wiping his face with a hand towel. “Rebecca, preachers’ daughter, Rebecca called up Devin. They’re partying tonight, said she’d bring friends, so Tee and Cee went with. Invited me too, but we had plans.” “Should’ve joined them,” she looked at him with mischief in her eyes. “Preacher’s daughter is a freak.” “And how would you know?” He laughed, approaching her and wrapping his arms around her, kissing her gently. She hated how handsy he was. He couldn’t go ten seconds without holding, touching or kissing her. He was possessive and insecure to the extreme, but as sick as it made her, it gave her something she could exploit. “Deej and I shared her a few times,” Chet leaned back and raised an eyebrow at her. She scoffed and playfully slapped his chest. “Not at the same time. This isn’t Game of Thrones.” Relieved he stepped back. “You and her uh… y’know, lately?” “Lately, no.” Her reply was honest enough and she stepped away from him to walk to his dresser mirror to fix her makeup and ruffled clothing. “I’ve been spending all my time with you. But we have partied a few times in the past.” “Hot. Get me video next time,” he laughed and plopped down onto his bed. “Sorry,” she fixed her hair and lip gloss, adding a bit of a teasing shimmy for him while she readjusted her panties from where he’d shifted them during their failed attempt at intimacy. “I’ve learned my lesson with videos. You’ll be lucky if I ever add an emote to a text I send you.” “C’mon, Mari,” his hands went up in sudden irritation and fell back to the bed. “Why do you always bring that up? Have I done anything with it? No. Look at us, we’re happy, I do make you happy, right?” “Of course, you do,” she lied. Turning to face Chet she leaned against his dresser, folding her arms. “But we’ve been over this a hundred times. As long as you have that video I’m not your lover or your girlfriend, I’m your prisoner.” “If I get rid of it, you’ll leave.” His brow straightened and his tone slipped into something that didn’t sound like him anymore. Chet had never been a bad guy, just a bit of an entitled bully, but when it came to Marissa, he always sounded possessive to the point of scary. “We’ve been through this.” “And I’m not rehashing it,” Marissa walked to the bed and leaned down to kiss him. Her hand gently traced over the fabric at the crotch of his shorts. “You want all of me, and I’ve told you how to get it. The rest is your choice.” “Or,” he mumbled out between kisses. “You leave me.” “No risk, no reward.” She giggled, kissing him passionately as he slid his hands under her shirt. Not wanting to be distracted by another make out session she tapped his chest again and pulled away. “I’m hungry.” “You’re always hungry,” he complained. “I know, right?” She back away from the bed offering him her hands so she could help him up. “Lately I am starving like, all the time. Be my hero and cook us up some burgers? I know you have those freezer ones.” She put on her cute face and pouty eyes. “Please?” Teasingly she looked down at the desire in his shorts and back up to him, biting her lip. She cooed seductively. “Make it worth your while.” “Seriously?” He grinned wide that stupid grin of his and lurched up from the bed, stepping around her like she wasn’t even there. She couldn’t recall him moving with such urgency in a long while, leaving his phone next to the Bluetooth speaker. “This better fucking work,” she whispered once he was gone, not looking forward to having to make do on that promise she just made to go down on a guy for a couple of cheeseburgers. Following Sean’s instructions, it was only a matter of seconds before she was screen sharing Chet’s phone off his Bluetooth connection. “Cassidy… you’re a fucking genius. I could fucking kiss you right now.” She went into the settings and turned off his phone lock. She could make changes to settings but not edit or delete his files or apps. Within the blink of an eye, she was in Chet’s bathroom sitting on the edge of the tub and deleting everything she could find. Texts, gallery, everything, although she took a moment to watch the video again if only to remind her of how stupid she’d been. Afterwards, she deleted all of his contacts out of spite. All that was left was to hope against hope he didn’t make any copies of the damn thing somewhere she couldn’t or didn’t already look. At this point, the plan was a Hail Mary against copies of the video. Chet was playing the drums with the countertop when his phone slammed onto the counter and slid to a halt. Surprised, he spun about to find Marissa standing in the doorway of the kitchen, her regal expression had returned and even Chet’s small mind was already doing the math. He looked to his phone then back to her. “Um, did you want the station changed?” he asked, referring to her not being able to access his phone to change it on her own. It was a stupid thing to say, but he needed a moment to collect and process what might be about to happen. “No,” she stepped forward, one leg crossing confidently in front of the other like she was on a runway. “I was just coming to tell you I’m leaving. And,” she reached up and draped the vibrant red panties she’d been wearing, and that he’d bought for her, over his shoulder. “To give you back those, since they represent the closest you will ever get to me from this day forward.” “What’re you talking about?” He looked back to his phone and quickly grabbed it, swiping it to unlock it but there was not code. His eyes widened as everything began making sense, there in his gallery: nothing. Everything was gone. His files? Gone. There was nothing left. She’d deleted every part of his life that he kept on his phone and to a teenager that tantamount to murder. “You bitch! The fuck did you do!?” He looked at her and took one angry step forward, but Marissa stood her ground. Unflinching, she stopped him in his tracks. “Do it.” Was all she said with her eyes locked on him. “Send me home with bruises, Chet. I fucking dare you. Your dad sells cars, mine is retaking his pistol qualification next week.” He’d called her everything there was a word for as she walked out of his house, but she was barely listening. If he had a copy of it he would have said something by now, she was sure of that. Anything to keep lording his power over her. Her car door closed and her eyes met the rearview mirror. She couldn’t help but smile devilishly at herself as the sensation of her old self was slowly returning. They’d won and got the better of Chet and that made her feel like the Queen of Shelly once again. She wiped her lips clean of the red and started her car. Leaning in Devin’s doorway later she smirked an evil maroon smirk. “Well, are we clear?” “Looks like it,” Devin stood from his bed, dropping the gaming controller at the foot. “Nice shade. I take it it’s done?” “It’s done.” She wrapped her arms around him and hugged him tightly. “Thank you.” He held her close, giving her the time she needed to recenter herself after all the drama. Softly he started to sing, “We’ve got all the ways to be…” It was the song from the Disney movie they had auditioned for and would have had the part, but their mother managed to annoy the producers to the point where they ended up getting recast. They didn’t get the starring roles, but they’d memorized every song. Marissa smiled from where she was tucked tightly in her brother’s arms and giggled as she sung the last of it, spelling the one word in all the world she enjoyed the most. “W-I-C-K-E-D.” She groaned and released him. She skipped down the stairs as he followed. “Ugh, we would have been so awesome in that movie. Notice how Dove Cameron’s Botox just got worse and worse in all the sequels? I’m hungry, feed me and tell me I’m pretty.” Devin laughed and skipped right behind her. “Botox or not, she’s still hot as fuck, and I’m not cooking, we’re doing pizza. Oh, did you hear Cam passed away?” “Whaaat? What happened? He was only, like, twenty, and such a sweetheart…” They sat at the island in their kitchen eating pizza and talking well past midnight. They didn’t do it often, but they sat, spent time together and laughed and talked and for just awhile they didn’t feel like the reigning royalty of a small town in Montana they tyrannically subjugated for their own sick amusement. They were normal. Two teenage siblings gossiping and goofing around like normal teens should have and for the first time in several weeks Marissa was able to get a sound night sleep.
  11. The Long Game June 2019. Shelly, Montana. Three weeks before the Awakening. The Jauntsen Twins were always in it for the long game. They were well into the last week of June and although everyone knew Marissa didn’t date, the local cliques couldn’t help but notice how much closer her and Chet had seemed to be getting the past couple months. Nearly all the school hung out at a private swimming hole that they assumed was super-secret and none of their parents knew about it or could find them there. Their very own private beach away from the world. What they didn’t know was that their parents used it when they were in school, and it was probably the least kept secret in all of Shelly. The only reason they didn’t all get busted there was because, as long as everyone was behaving themselves, it was an unspoken rule to allow the kids to believe they were getting away with something and had something they could all call their own. In truth it was one of the only places where nearly all the grades, who could be trusted to be out on their own, were represented in a single place, aside from the school itself, where they could all socialize and hang out. Bunees was an option too, but only so many school kids could fit in the small malt shoppe. So naturally the Jauntsen Twins had to show up and ruin it for everyone. One of the reasons the Jauntsen Twins were so popular, despite how horrible they were, was because they were exceptionally good looking. Devin was a gymnast with a sleek and toned physique that made him look like he belonged in some CW show targeted for older teens and young adults thirsty for drama. Whether they loved him or hated him, no one could deny that Devin was one hell of a good-looking guy and there weren’t many females in Shelly that didn’t swoon anytime he was around them. With his shirt off and shorts down enough to fully show off his tight abs he walked through the scene like he owned the place. Marissa worked just as hard as her brother at looking great, remaining flexible, lithe and toned year-round, and that went double for bikini season. Like her twin her body was toned and her curves were smooth and enticing from her bust to her hips. All of Shelly’s classmates knew Marissa by name, appearance and attitude. In fact, it was two of those things that made her so desirable and the last one that kept them looking instead of trying their luck at asking her out. Her vibrant red bikini matched her lipstick shade, and it was far more daring in its design than any of the other kids of Shelly High were comfortable wearing. Coming from a beach state, Marissa was relatively comfortable with her body (and being gorgeous helped, of course) and she strolled through the crowd alongside Devin, announcing their arrival by being beautiful and attracting stares as they passed people enjoying the sun and the water. “S’up, bro!” Devin offered a nod to a classmate. Lona Wilson, whose shaved head had earned her a nickname form Devin to remind her daily of how much she looked like a dude. She was sitting on the rocks with her sister(?), Clara Wright, looking out at everyone else having a good time while she sat around doing what she did best: brood. Lona replied to his gesture with a one of her own, a rigid middle finger that proudly said what everyone in Shelly was thinking. He looked to his sister. “Wow, rude.” Marissa smirked. “I think she wants you. Need me to wingman?” “Gross,” Devin chuckled. “Not if you paid me.” “So, what did you find out about Terry?” She asked as they walked to the ‘Royal Suite’ of the swimming hole, a series of high, flat rocks that overlooked the water and the small, but packed, beach below, by about ten feet or so. They were just large enough to accommodate Devin, Marissa, and all the other ‘it’ crowd of Shelly High. “Well, using what you told me I staked out his place. Broke in the other night and you were right, he didn’t have anything on his hard drive, and he didn’t have any thumbs lying around. Not a tech savvy dude, like you said.” “Wait,” she whispered. “You broke in!? Deej that was dangerously stupid!” He side-eyed her with a displeased expression. “You really wanna start comparing stupid mistakes?” “Fuck off.” They’d gotten on better terms in the last month, maybe because they hadn’t seen a whole lot of each other as Marissa was constantly with Chet as his new arm candy. She moved past his sarcasm with a briefing of her own findings. “Well, he’s obsessive. Classic personality. He’s possessive, needs to know where I am at all times, who I’m with and when I’m seeing him next. When we’re together he has to always be touching me, hand holding, my head on his shoulder, something.” “Are you trying to get this guy killed?” Devin asked while he seethed internally at the thought of Chet touching his sister. “Has he, uh… you know. Tried anything?” “Sexually?” She shrugged. “Not really. Which surprises me. I think he’s still trying to convince me to fall in love with him by not taking advantage of me by using the video. He always seems really conflicted on the matter… like he wants to, but then he just… I don’t know… doesn’t. Most we’ve done is make out and some heavy petting. FYI, he is a horrible kisser. He does that ‘swallow your face hole’ open mouthed kiss… ugh, it’s so gross. I have to re-do my eyeshadow every time we fool around because he’s licked it off.” They both laughed. “There is nothing on his PC and he has only two thumb drives. One for homework and one for porn, like you have.” She’s left out the man-handling and minor abuse she put up with. He was handsy and roughed her up for her attitude once in a while, but it was nothing that left a mark, not after she reminded him that she couldn’t rock her bikini if she was covered in bruises. It was the dumbest conversation she had to have with a guy, talking about showing off her body for him while she was thinking of caving in his skull with a football trophy. “Whaaat?” Devin sounded like he was offended at the notion that he was keeping porn on the thumb drive. “I have way more than one. What an amateur.” She snickered and continued. “He doesn’t need porn. He has me.” She boasted. “Gross.” He brother feigned hurling. “The problem is his phone; he changes his password all the time. It is only four numbers, but I never know what they are. I think he knows I’m looking at his finger presses when he unlocks it, or at least trying to. He doesn’t use cloud storage, so our best bet is that he believes his phone is the most secure place to keep it.” “Phone is covered.” Devin smirked. “Cassidy hooked me up. He said if Chet is using his blue tooth, you can slip into his phone that way, share networks with his phone from yours and you’ll have access to his gallery, including videos. He wrote down how to do it.” “How?” She asked, suddenly excited in anticipation of this nightmare to be over. They’d spent the last several weeks doing what they did best: manipulation. While Marissa was with Chet, all she was doing was analyzing his pattern-of-life. Where he kept media storage, what were his passwords, what was his sleeping schedule, how heavy or light of a sleeper he was. By now she was convinced that she knew more about Chet than he knew about himself. “Not here. Does it look like I’m carrying hacking instructions in my fucking swim trunks?” He gestured to his swimming trunks, black shorts with a knee length spandex liner. “Today, just play the part. Tonight, Cody, Todd and I are handling Terry. You’ll handle Chet, just remember, the video now, revenge later.” “Bet.” She said coldly, glaring at Chet who was sitting shirtless in the sun laughing with Tammy and Curtis up on the rocks. “How do you keep getting Cassidy to help us? Can we trust it?” “Symbiosis. Sure, Cassidy hates that I pick on him, but he also knows that without me, the bullying he’d receive from the others would be way more severe, like ICU severe. He’s a freak, sure, but, I mean, it’s not his fault. If I’m going to hate someone, I do it honestly. So, I keep face by picking on him, and do him a solid by keeping the real beatings at bay. So, he’s willing to hook me up from time to time. Won’t budge on removing that pixel mesh from all the Japanese porn I have though, fucker.” Marissa laughed. “God, we are so fucking good at this. They’re doing us favors while we’re treating them like shit. I swear, we have all the ways to be…” “W-I-C-K-E-D.” He spelled it out, so it rhymed with ‘be’. He laughed. “Ugh, I’m still so pissed we got recast for that movie.” He nudged her. “Okay, game face.” The two approached the Royal Suite and smiled their fake smiles as they greeted their ‘friends’ from school and spent the afternoon soaking in the sun. Tonight, with any luck, Marissa’s mistake would be erased, and Chet’s head would be on a platter. She made a note to herself to get Cassidy something nice as a thank you.
  12. Shame of Thrones Shelly High’s six-hundred-pound gorilla was not named Grodd. He was named Chet. A massive specimen of ginger genes, cornfed Montana cooking, too much testosterone and a healthy dose sexual frustration that was all mixed together into a pot and set to boil until high school. In truth Chet was more like two hundred pounds, but it was solid. The boy was tall, well-built and, that’s right, on the football team. Chet’s real downfall was twofold: one, he was not particularly attractive. He wasn’t unattractive, he was just… meh. Ordinary, bland, vanilla, were some of the terms Marissa, the focus of his affections, had used to describe him. Second, Chet was unfortunately not gifted with likeability. He wasn’t particularly bright, cunning perhaps, from all those years of processing football plays, but he didn’t relate well with most people on an intellectual level. With his red hair and rather slow on the uptake demeanor, Devin had nick named him ‘Biff’, something Chet despised, especially once Marissa started using it too. Chet had been in love with Marissa Jauntsen for three years now. Ever since the first time he laid eyes on her in eighth grade his heart wanted no other. Since then, they had flirted and she’d shown interest and he even outright told her how he felt, but she proclaimed that she didn’t date. It wasn’t him; it was her and she didn’t want to overburden him with her drama. He was a great guy and deserved better than that. They agreed friendship was the best and most steady course, but his love for her never died… if anything it just grew as time went on and he couldn’t have her despite her being near him every day in school and after as they both hung out in the same circles. Today though he walked through the halls with a bit more confidence in his stride. He approached the ladies standing near Devin’s locker and offered them each a nod in greeting. He towered over them, his six-foot two, broad shouldered frame shadowing Tammy as he leaned up near where she was. She moved a bit, obscuring his angle of vision so he couldn’t read the rather steamy texts she was sending to Curtis, her boyfriend and one of Chet’s teammates. “Where’s Deej and the others?” He asked after a few moments. “Apparently handling ‘the Cassidy issue’,” Courtney offered, shrugging. Chet nodded. “Oh, right, that.” Courtney’s face melted into an expression of frustration mingled with confusion. “Seriously? Does everyone know about this except me?” “Pretty much.” The three of them replied in unison, never lifting their eyes up from their phone screens. Courtney fumed and rolled her eyes, sighing loudly and then resigned herself to ignore them. Within moments her own phone was at the ready and she was lost in the distraction it provided. “Hey, Marissa?” Chet finally said, looking around Tammy, which elicited her to swiftly cover her screen again, to the brunette he lusted after. “Mmhmm?” She lazily acknowledged, not bothering to look up from her phone. “You have a moment? Can we, uh, talk?” Tammy huffed, knowing that this could very well be another failed attempt to get under Marissa’s skirt. With a roll of her eyes, she shifted her position and sidestepped around Chet, changing places with him. She mumbled something but he didn’t quite catch what it was. “Bout’what?” Her reply was two words swiftly mingled into one. She swiped her screen, scrolling through what TikToks were trending. The world could be burning around her, and she wouldn’t have noticed. “Like… in private?” He added. She inhaled deeply and rolled her eyes with annoyance as she exhaled. “Fine, whatever.” Her phone disappeared into her small purse, and the two of them walked away from the others. “Tell Deej I’ll back in a second if he pops up.” The ladies nodded but didn’t bother looking up from their mobile devices. They rounded the corner from the lockers, dipping into the alcove that led into one of the bathrooms. She tended to take the lead, always managing all angles of every encounter and this was no different. Chet didn’t mind, he let the tapping of her heels and the way her skirt swayed with her hips keep him focused while he organized his thoughts. Eye on the prize, Chet. “Well?” She about faced on him, turning around fast enough that he thought her skirt might twirl up too far, but it seemed that she knew exactly what her attire could handle and still preserve what little modesty Marissa seemed to possess so close to the end of the school year. “What is it? Because if it’s about the party next week, I swear to god, Chet, I already told you-” “It’s not about that, Marissa.” Chet said firmly. Firm enough that it seemed oddly brave and out of character for the large ginger, so she allowed herself to calmly wait for him to continue. She crossed her arms, cocking her head the way she did when she was investigating someone, dissecting them mentally to find something, anything she could use for leverage during her conversations, either now or later. “Then what?” She leaned against the wall, crossing one leg over the other, remaining visibly bored and irritated with him… which was normal. “So, uh, you know Terry, right?” He asked. “Terry who?” Her eyes narrowed suspiciously. She knew a Terry, but there wasn’t one in Shelly she associated with. “Collins. He’s a senior at Great Falls?” “Maybe, why?” She pushed off the wall, suddenly interested in the dialogue that seemed to be leading Chet down a highway to Hell. “If I know a Terry or not, it’s not any business of yours.” She knew he had a slight obsession for her. Nothing too creepy-stalkerish, but just enough that a few select teases here and there and it left him eating out of her hand for a few days. She played a dangerous game with the guys of Shelly and Great Falls. She knew they were attracted to her and when a guy is attracted to a girl that girl can get away with some wild things. What Marissa hadn’t considered, was The Devil always comes to claim his due. “The hell do you care, anyway?” “Well, I started wondering why you spent some weekends in Great Falls,” he started. He noticed the way her eyes narrowed at his comment, solidly implying that she found his interest in where she spent her time and who with, a step in the direction of stalkerish. Chet swiped and opened his phone. As he spoke, he swiped the screen a few times. “So, I don’t think you knew this but, Terry is my cousin. And he started blowing my phone up last night, all of it about you.” Fuck. Marissa thought. She was hoping the drama Terry would stay a hundred miles away in Great Falls where it started. Terry being Chet’s cousin, however, was something she didn’t know and didn’t plan for. Her trip to Terry place was just supposed to be a bit of fun and a good time, but it escalated, and they got into a huge fight when she refused to sleep with him. She was so high, she didn’t remember anything else, just the argument and trying to drive home. Worry and concern began to erode her posture, but she hid the revelation of Terry and Chet talking well enough that he still couldn’t get a read on how she was taking the news. “So? Where I go and who and who I spend time with isn’t your business, even they’re your family.” “Yeah, I know,” Chet nodded. “But you know, it just pisses me off Marissa that you go and drive a hundred miles to give it up assholes like Terry when I’m right here. I treat you right, I’m always right there for you, I actually care for you, unlike that prick, but like always, you women just attach yourselves to assholes who treat you like shit.” “Again, Chet,” her hands tightened their grip on her biceps and she consciously moved her arms from casually beneath her bust line up to cover her chest, as she was extremely uncomfortable with how the football player was looking at her. “Not your fucking business. It was cute three years ago. We made out a few times, we fooled around when we were fifteen… let it go. Who I ‘give it up’ to,” she air quoted his words and her arms went back to being folded across her chest, her words lending confidence to her posture. “Is certainly not your business. Terry and I partied from time to time. He was fun and had a hurricane for a tongue. It’s not my fault the best you could ever manage with me was to sit around and watch sports. Now, fuck off.” With a huff of disgust, she walked past him, or at least, attempted to. With an iron grip on her arm Chet stopped her in her tracks and with one powerful motion had tossed her right back into the alcove where she was standing a moment ago, trapping her from leaving the conversation until he was ready to let her leave. “You think I haven’t watched you and your brother these last couple of years, Marissa? The way you two do as you please to whomever you please whenever you please and nothing ever happens to you? You two think you can shit on everyone and we’re supposed to sit there on our knees asking for more.” Fear. It was not a feeling she had grown accustomed to these last few years. Indeed, she and her brother had elevated themselves to practically invincible, but as she rubbed the elbow that hit the brick behind her, concern began to grow in her. “You’re a dead man,” she growled at him. “My brother-“ “Isn’t going to do a damn thing,” Chet held up his phone and let her see the video of her at Terry’s over the weekend, doing lines of crushed Oxycodone and shots of liquor right before the frames of Terry standing in front of the full-length door mirror in his room smiling and offering himself a thumbs up and devil horns with the back of Marissa’s head clearly visible as she went down on him. The leather pants and maroon satin blouse she wore completely gave it away that she was the girl in all those clips. “Don’t you have an internship with the mayor this summer? Something like this,” he flipped the screen around to look at it. “Well…” “What do you want?” Her tone was devoid of emotion, almost robotic. She was slipping into shock, unable to understand how this was suddenly happening to her. She was always so careful. She knew a stray picture, or a random video taken by someone could have disastrous effects, not only on her party life, but her whole future. She was so wasted this weekend that she honestly didn’t even remember who she gave head to, and she certainly didn’t think it was Terry. He’d been trying for awhile to sleep with her, promising her freebies if she did, but her brother was the only one who knew that Marissa was still a virgin and just really good at distracting guys with everything else on the table that wasn’t sex. All she remembered was him kicking her out when she refused to have sex with him. She was wearing a long sleeve shirt because her arms had scrapes from where he threw her out the door and she stumbled because she was so wasted. “Be careful with your next few words Chet. There are rules and we don’t do this to each other.” “Oh, right, your rules,” he silently chuckled and slid his phone in his pocket. “I remember ‘manipulating people is easy once you have leverage’. You’re just pissed because someone finally got you.” She inhaled and let it out slowly. There was still no emotion writ in her expression. She could not win this battle, not at the moment, but she still needed to wrest some manner of control back. “Only under the condition that those you are manipulating have something to lose or are willing to take a loss to mitigate the leverage.” His eyes shifted about as he processed that. It was obviously not what he was expecting. However, Marissa did have something to lose, and for now, she needed out of this conversation so she could focus on the damage control. “So, let’s deal, Chet. We both know I don’t want that getting out,” she found some measure of confidence in her tone as she focused on fixing this sudden shitstorm that had entered her life. “So, I’ll do for you, and in return you’ll delete that, and Terry will delete his too, all copies.” “Are you out of your fucking mind, Marissa?” Chet laughed. “As long as I have this, I have you. I have you both.” “But for how long?” Marissa managed an evil smirk. “Eventually you will erode my patience and I will simply take the hit, let the truth be exposed, live my life as the party-girl whore of Shelly and you and I will both have nothing. Except, I will have the satisfaction of watching you have your arms and legs broken, and every eight to twelve weeks from then, until I’m bored with hearing you scream in pain, I’ll see that they end up broken again. This is your life now, Chet. You want to play? So, let’s play. What do you want from me?” “You.” She could see some loss of his confidence after her revelation that now that video was the only thing keeping him alive. Chet was crafty, but never very smart. There were so many angles of blackmail he hadn’t considered… “I’ve always ever wanted you. Video or not, look, I just want my chance to treat you right, to show you that if you just gave me a chance, I’d be the one for you. I could make you happy, that you could… love me.” Again, not too bright. “Blackmailing me into being your lover so I will learn to love you?” She suddenly didn’t feel too worried as she massaged the bridge of her nose. “Christ, Biff.” “Don’t call me that,” snarled. He stepped up to her, blotting out the light as his shadow became her mantle. “We’ll hash out details later. I just wanted you to know where you stand with me.” “Fine,” the rage in his eyes sent fear coiling up her spine and it sunk its fangs in her voice. She knew he noticed her tremble slightly. “But Chet, I will not sleep with you. I don’t care what Terry told you, but I never slept with him, and same goes for you. And I will never, ever love you if you have that video. We are not dating, we will not date, ever, if you have that. You want an accessory, fine, but I will murder you in your fucking sleep before I ever tell you I love you.” The evil in his grin almost rivaled her on her best days. He leaned in almost close enough to kiss her. “I’m okay with that. Meet after school. And wear something lighter than this maroon shit, like that red I got you for your birthday.” She offered him a lazy smirk in sarcastic confirmation, and he pushed away from her and walked off to join the others at the lockers. She watched him go. Her chest was on fire and her stomach was tightened into knots. She was scared, offended, shocked and to some degree a bit impressed. She knew Terry was too stupid to post the video and ruin her, not when he, like Chet could use it for leverage plus he was complicit in doing and dealing drugs in those clips. She also knew his brain was baked to the point that backing it up probably wasn’t going to happen either. If she got Terry’s phone, she’d have his copy of the video. Chet was going to be another matter entirely. Her phone was in her hand and she was texting her brother and telling him they needed to chat after school, before Chet even rounded the corner to meet the girls by the lockers.
  13. The Pride of Shelly May 2019. Shelly, Montana. Three months before the Awakening. It should have unfolded like a slow-motion scene from a 90s teen drama movie as the three young women walked down the hallway of Shelly High School with Marissa Jauntsen leading the Pride. The heels of her knee-length leather boots were dangerously close to being outside school regulations but that hardly mattered in comparison to the short, black pleated skirt that was showing far more skin than the timid administrators of the Shelly School Board were comfortable with. She completed her outfit with a white, long sleeve mock turtleneck that seemed glued to her body like a second skin. Her hair was bound up in tight topknot while her makeup was impeccable, displaying her signature maroon lipstick. Courtney Addams was dressed almost exactly like Marissa, save her skirt was plaid and her top a maroon like Marissa’s lips with her ginger hair pulled up in a tight topknot as well. Blonde Tammy Keller was in her cheerleading uniform, which gave her a pass in the short, pleated skirts department, but the fact that she didn’t wear shorts underneath it until game time when it was required, had earned her more than one talking to by the faculty. The ladies were certainly hitting the trifecta of ‘blonde, brunette and redhead’ as they were easily the three most attractive girls in the school. If one was into shallow, vapid, but hot. Marissa was the undisputed Queen of Shelly High School and everyone knew it. Shelly Montana had the elementary and high school in the same building and there were fourth graders who were already dying to be like her one day. Having moved from Malibu, California, her twin brother and she took Shelly by storm three years ago. It wasn’t that they were particularly special in anyway, save that they came from money, it was just that they were new, and were from a place so close to stars and celebrities that it seemed like they themselves were the same. They brought with them ideas and stories from a place that the mountain kids of rural Montana had only heard about on television or read on the internet. Almost overnight their strange, sorcerous ways seemed to pull in the younger crowd to them and it was a simple matter of charisma and leadership that shot them to the apex of legendary status among Shelly High. She led the Pride in looks, attitude and charisma (depending on who you asked), so her other two hangers-on followed behind her, forming a three-girl triangle that pushed their lesser to the walls like a wedge parting a sea of plebs, lest they make the mistake of attracting Marissa’s ire. The trio stopped where they usually did, in front of Devin’s locker. It was a daily routine to meet up there, share some conversation and then part ways before wreaking havoc upon the poor masses of Shelly High’s student body. Marissa leaned against her brother’s locker, her phone already in her hand as she swiped the screen and began browsing her social media feeds. Her sharp, claw-like acrylic nails made a hollow ‘plastic-on-glass’ tapping sound as she distracted herself. “The hell?” Tammy huffed, irritation in her voice as she folded her arms and stood to the right of Shelly’s queen. “It’s not like we don’t do this like, every god damn day. The hell are they?” Marissa raised a hand to quiet Tammy, who seemed to complain often just to hear her own voice. “Chill. They’ll be here soon; they’re handling the Cassidy issue.” “Oh,” Tammy nodded, suddenly relaxing as she remembered ‘the Cassidy issue’. “Right.” “What Cassidy issue?” Courtney asked, flipping her long top knot from off her shoulder, allowing it to cascade down her back. “If you needed to know, Courtney,” Marissa snapped at the redhead, never taking her eyes off her phone. “You’d fucking know, wouldn’t you? Christ. Would you two just shut up and wait?”
  14. Marissa was texting her brother as Cade spoke to his mother. Finally, she rolled her eyes and turned to Ms. Allister. “Seriously? Ms. Allister, it’s an emergency. The reasons are largely inconsequential, it’s for your safety and Haruka’s. We’re not sticking around either if it’s any consolation, now please, go.” “Christ,” Marissa fumed as the two drove away. “She’s that sort of woman who keeps asking ‘why’ in the middle of a crisis then gets eaten by the giant dinosaur with a look of surprise on her face while it happens.” “She’s just worried,” Cade offered as he tried to look calm amidst the tremors of emotions swirling like a maelstrom within him. They two made their way across the park as swiftly as they could, Marissa keeping a surprisingly spry pace considering her four-inch wedged footwear, until they reached her and Devin’s parents. They were in the middle of a conversation with a few families that they didn’t know, or care to know, and were almost thankful when Marissa approached and without explanation grabbed their arms and lead them away like children who’d just been caught doing something bad. “Marissa!” Misti attempted to correct her daughter’s actions but found Marissa’s grip to be akin to iron and she seemed to be effortlessly dragging them along as they tried to keep pace. Out of view of the rest of the park, she released them. The trees concealed and obscured them as a row overgrowth completed the natural curtain that she hoped would allow her to speak with her parents openly. “Ow,” Carl rubbed his arm. “Christ, Punk’in. The hell is going on?” Misti glared as Cade simply followed silently, his face still a pool of emotions that shifted from anger to worry then to concern to rage. She looked to Marissa then nervously to Carl. “Sweetheart, what is going on?” She managed a chuckle of concern as she awaited an answer. “Mom,” she looked to her mother then to her father. “Dad. You need to leave. Now. There’s been a murder and there is a chance that the killer might come after you to get to me and Devin.” Carl laughed. “Sweetie, you and your brother have pulled a few in the past, but going as far as a mur-“ “Dad!” Marissa raised her voice to cut him off. “For fucks sake! Listen for once!” Misti raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms defensively. Her posture took on the disapproving mother kind as she interjected. “Marissa Beatrice, I will not have you using that tone. Cade, dear, you can go. This is a family matter now, thank you.” “Nah.” Cade shrugged slightly. “Good where I am. She’s as much my family as my blood. We’re Fellowship.” “The fuck is Fellowship?” Carl fumed, now thoroughly pissed that his daughter was swearing at him. “Some cult? You run out and join a cult or something?” Marissa sighed and rolled her eyes. She held up her phone, the FaceTime on it showing Devin looking at his phone’s camera with a raised, yet confused eyebrow. “Are you hearing this Deej? I told you. Dense as fucking uranium. Do the thing.” “Stop with the langu-“ as Devin appeared, instantly on the scene in a flash of purple light, Misti’s words seemed caught in her throat. “S’up, bruddah.” He fist-bumped Cade who only offered him a silent nod and a fist. “So, now that we have your attention.” Marissa took a deep breath to center herself and pressed on, offering her brother a ‘thank you’ smile as she stepped forward. “Mom, Dad? Devin and I have super powers. The killer is not a who, it’s a what. Now, I know this is a lot to take in, but we’re the only ones who can stop it.” “Wh-what is it?” Carl managed to get out after giving his son a creepy once over, as if looking for the smoke and mirrors that made his son instantly appear. “It’s a god,” she replied. “A being of darkness, ancient and evil. We don’t expect you to believe to believe us-“ “Reassuring, because we don’t.” her mother said flatly. “How did you do that Devin, and these super abilities, what are yours?” Her eyes fell to Marissa. “I think, therefore I go.” Devin smirked. “We don’t have time to explain string theory to you two. Marissa is not lying. Not-Cody is on a warpath and we’re the only ones who can stop him. He’s not vulnerable to conventional weaponry.” “Okay, I’ll bite.” Carl said lazily. “What is he vulnerable to?” “Us.” Cade said stoically. “We’re hardly conventional.” Devin added. “And let me guess, you have powers to?” Mist threw a disbelieving gesture his way. “What are they?” “I look intimidating while using simple sentences to assert my dominance.” Cade offered as he crossed his arms. His tone told her she was barking up the wrong tree with him. “Mine’s putting up with your shit for the last sixteen years,” Marissa interrupted. “Look we don’t have time for this, you need to go home, lock the doors, stay safe and protect each other. Please.” “But… why? What is it and what does it want-“ “Mom! We’re going to fight this thing. We’re the only ones.” Devin’s voice rose above his mother’s. Marissa closed her eyes and looked away as the sound of her brother angry reminded her of harder times when he was the one always being bullied. Bullied because he was protecting his sister. “It’s done. No compromises, no talking us out of it. We’re telling you this because we love you. We love both. We might not come back.” “And we don’t want you living the rest of your days wondering where your children disappeared to one day.” Marissa’s voice was soft and caring as she looked at her parents. “You may not be perfect as parents go, but we both knew you deserved better than that. We didn’t plan on you finding out this way, but… well, Deej is right. This thing killed Charlie. We must do this, and we might not come back. We just wanted you to know that we love you. Both of you.” Devin shrugged; his lips not quite smirking. “She nailed it. I mean, this story is long and complicated, and to tell it to you, we need to survive tonight. I teleport. Marissa is like super hawt and mesmerizing. That’s our power. You wanna know more? We need to take down the Not-Cody first. For Charlie.” “I cannot believe what I’m hearing,” Misti chuckled in disbelief and she tossed up her hands and paced away from the children. “A-are you two high?” The twins both exhaled and simultaneously rubbed the bridge of their nose in frustration in a moment Cade had only seen a few times where the twins moved, thought, and acted the same. “That is without a doubt the single most loaded pile of bullshit I’ve heard in a long damn time,” Carl laughed. “Thank you.” Misti gestured to him in thanks for supporting her point of view. The twins’ faces sunk as neither of their parents seemed to believe a word of any of this. “So, you better come home,” he continued as he stepped forward and held both his children, each in one arm, and hugged them tight. “And tell me all of it.” “You believe us?” Devin asked, holding his father, the man he never got along with, like an actual son was supposed to. “No,” their father stated honestly. “I believe you just did something amazing; I’m processing that. But I also know that Cody kid is still missing, you said Charlie was murdered by him and I think you idiot kids are about to go and exercise of some backwoods justice.” The twins backed away and looked at their father then to each other. “You’re not going to stop us.” “We may not have been the best parents,” Carl motioned to himself and Misti. “Suppose we owe you an apology for that, but we raised you to look out for each other, and taught you that when the world pushes… you spit in its face and push right back. I know you’ll do the right thing.” “How do you know that?” Devin asked. A hint of defiance in his tone as he studied his con man of a father. “Because we wouldn’t.” He offered his son a slight grin that seemed almost fatherly. “Be safe and look out for each other.” “Dad, I-,“ Marissa wiped tears from her cheeks while searching for the right words. “Carl, you cannot seriously be buying into this. That Alister boy is obviously feeding them some cockamamie stories and luring them into some weird hazing.” Misti raged, glaring at Cade who only looked back at her with such a calm and composed expression that it could have brought a tear to Jase’s dried, unused tear ducts. The children turned to leave and walked away while Misti was in mid-rant. “Carl!” Their father turned and held his wife, possibly for the first time in months. “Mist. Mist. Shhh.” “I’m a horrible mom,” he could hear the tears welling up inside her as her children walked away. “They… they hate us…” “No, no, they don’t. They were talking and as usual we weren’t listening.” He met his lovely wife’s gaze and smiled that charming, hereditary smile. “Something strange is going on, we both know it, we both knew it. Our children. Ours, are at the middle of something big and they’re going to do great things. We’ve both made mistakes, Mist. Me especially… but look at them. Strong, independent, smart, and doing what is right. Don’t you see? By being us, we’ve taught them how not to be us, and… well, shit… I’m proud of them for that.” “We are a fucking mess, aren’t we?” Misti chuckled through tears. He traced a strand of hair from her face and tucked it behind her ears as he dabbed away her running makeup. “I knew what I was getting into. No regrets.” And there in the midst of all the chaos Misti and Carl met again for the first time…
  15. "Then I will put you in touch with my brother," Marissa's lips curved into a sly grin as Cade kissed her knuckles. She flushed slightly at his charm but still careful to not to show to many of her cards all at once. He was certainly charming and sweet and treated her right, but he was a means to an end. She had to keep telling herself that. "Cadums, I can't give you advice, then it would look like I dressed you and, sweetie, we can't have that. If it got around that your 'girlfriend' was dressing you up for dates, it would damage your rep. Now, if my brother does it, well, then it just looks like bros hanging out and getting ready for their dates for Homecoming." "Think he'll help out?" Her date asked. "Sure," her shoulders popped up in a swift shrug. "He's helping out Jason, I'm sure he'll help you out too. I mean, it's either that or you ask one of the Cassidy sisters, I hear Laurie likes dressing up little boys, but I swear if you show up a French maid's outfit sporting heels higher than mine, it's over on the spot." "Your brother it is." Cade laughed. "It is really cool of you two to sort of spearhead the Homecoming thing for everyone in the Fellowship. Offering up your dresses and makeup advice and all that. I'm sure the girls really appreciate it." "I guess," she shrugged again, blowing off his comment with a lack of belief in her tone. Once again she led him along the trails between all the people and their families. "I really think they all just assume I'm trying to make little Marissa's out of all of them. I get that it's a little harder to trust me, considering what my brother and me did to them for the last three years, but I mean, come on, I can't do better if people don't let me reach out and actually do better. Trust has to go both ways. I'll admit, you Fellowship losers aren't that bad. A bit nerdy and tad on the psychotic side, but the conversations are okay, the food is good, the adventures are whacky and so far the sex had been mind blowing." She noticed the way the large teen holding her hand turned a few darker shades of red as she mentioned their intimate relations out loud. "Give them some time," he replied calmly, hoping to shift the conversation away talking about their sex life in public. "We're all really worked up about the going on of tonight. After we face this hurdle I think a lot of us will be more open minded about our thoughts on the future." "Pfft," she scoffed. "For those of us that come back. I've seen the movies. Super-hot rich white girls always die first. I'm skipping my shower tonight just so I don't get caught unaware, wrapped in a bath towel." "Hey," he stopped suddenly and turned to face her. "Don't talk like that." His thumb traced gently down her cheek as his eyes met hers, locking her attention in his stoically intense gaze. "I will be there for you. If I have to stand against everything the Dark has at its disposal, I will be there between them, and you. We're all coming home, even if I have to tear down another dimension to make it happen." He leaned in and kissed her lips gently, so gently in fact that she felt her eyes close and pang of want as he pulled away from her. Wow. Was about all her brain could muster as a thought to the words her valiant knight spoke while the rest of her body tried to keep up with the fact that were once again walking and he was saying something else... she just had no idea what. She'd not imagined Cade as so intense, so laser focused on being the Spartan who didn't care how many the enemy were, only where he could find them. It was exciting and sent a chill down her spine as she also realized... it was kind of hot.
  16. "Baby, you're with me," she looked up at him while squeezing his arm tightly and pulling him closer to her. "Might at as well get used to it. I have to admit though," she crinkled her nose up at the few 'fans' that were either gawking, faking a smile in their direction, or snapping a pic to post up. "Since I've bothered to get to know you losers, it has started to dawn on me just how much damage my brother and I have managed to do to this town in a few short years." "The people in our class are so petty," he captured the hint of disgust in her voice but decided it best to let her vent. "I get it, I'm petty. But I come from privilege and money, I'm allowed to be. It's one of the bennies of having more than the poor people. I mean, when you don't have anything, you're really not in a position to be petty, take what you can get you bunch of dust slitherers. It's getting worse, though. Chet and his new regime, I think, are going to try and wrench the throne from Deej and me, the problem with that lies in the fact the Devin and I had a system. We thought meticulously about how and why we would manipulate people, every cruelty had a purpose and was part of our grand experiment." "Which was?" Cade chuckled and shaking his head at what he was hearing. She was casual about how evil she was and the cruelty she dished out that sometimes it was hard to believe she and the girl who smiled and giggled along with were truly the same person. "To take over the social hierarchy of the school, which we did. The problem came in where we started to hang out with you guys... and you all plummeted our popularity." She shrugged casually, spilling the facts, as she saw them, without any sort of filter. She stopped Cade and faced him. She looked up into his blue eyes and held his hands in hers. "I know you guys think my me and my brother are horrible, and in a way, we are, but what you guys don't get is that my brother and I were holding the leashes of evil far worse than us. They don't understand tact, planning, and subtlety. My brother and I were bullies, sure, but we never physically hurt anyone." "Marissa, you almost drove Stacey Williams to suicide, last year." Cade reminded her. "You literally embarrassed her to the point where she was home for three weeks and on suicide watch." Shyly his date looked away from him, smiling pridefully of her accomplishment while failing to meet his gaze. When she finally looked back at him she'd filtered the memory away. "Not entirely my fault. Courtney helped." She chuckled. "But even then, all part of the plan. She was a prime example of the 'one bad day' theory. We're all just one bad day away from snapping and going off the deep end." Cade's judgemental glare cast a wide shadow over her. "Anyway, Cadums, we're not talking about Stacey, stay focused. My point is, without my brother and me to keep the real bullies in check, it's going to be anarchy. What's trying to fill are shoes is a gaggle of violent hoodlums. Cade, if we survive this crap tonight, we're returning to a Hellmouth of a high school." She swayed her hands in his and looked up, offering him a seductive smirk that he knew by now was a precursor to her trying to manipulate him. "Although, speaking of tonight... I don't see any reason we should die without having a little time alone first. Want to, maybe, come over later before we all meet up and, you know..." she cooed with a wicked grin as she offered him a suggestive wink.
  17. "Cade, half the girls in our class would kill to date you," she looked at her man with a skeptically raised eyebrow. "You know that, right? And half of that half is all into animals and hunting and fishing and living and smelling like beasts." She patted him on broad chest with her free hand, grinning sweetly. "You know, your people." "And yeah, I'm sure Jason explained his reasoning, and that's your business, but remember Cadums: he's a super genius. For a guy who claims he can't lie, he's done it to me twice now, both times while looking me in the eyes. He's smart enough to manipulate the truth and you along with it." Her hand that was clasping Cade's lifted up and she gently kissed the back of his hand. "Just keep your wits about you, okay? Something's off about him."
  18. Courtney smirked evilly as she checked her phone. She was just skimming people's posts about the Carousel and the current days events. People had already begun making it a photo montage from everyone's collective selfies and rando-pics. The one she was eyeing evilly was the one of Jason Bannon cupping Autumn Keane's ass that was swiftly getting a variety of comments that ranged from the quizzical to the down right comedic. Devin's new arm candy was raising a few issues among the 'fan girls' he had the school that wondered who the new girl was and why none of them knew her. The rumor mill was a abuzz with the addition of Jacob and Tawny making it onto the Shelly scene as one of the least likely couples in the history of... well, everything. Most of their comments were mean spirited jibes about Jacob trying to get under her bible belt. Of course, Marissa and Cade made the list as well with a few snap shots of them walking about arm in arm and both lighting up the area with their 'power couple' smiles. "Hey, bitch." "S'up, ho." Courtney smirked as her eyes panned to the source of the rather unorthodox greeting. She scooted her butt down a bit on the picnic table she was sitting on to make room for Marissa who promptly perched herself beside the redhead. "You and Cade... looking good, and rumor has it you're joining the cheer squad? Girl, we can practice routines together." "I started that rumor," Marissa smirked mischievously. Truth be told, she had the Shelly rumor mill in a chokehold and most information was vetted through her before it moved on to the high school water cooler. "But there's truth in it. Going to join tomorrow." "Um, what about try outs?" The lovely ginger pointed out, still scrolling through pics on her phone. "Pfft," Shelly's Queen snorted. "I taught you everything you know about gymnastics and no one the cheer squad can even do a half-assed head stand. The splits does not a cheerleader make. I'm make it in, trust me." Courtney nodded. "God knows we could use someone beside me who could do something more than the splits." She laughed. She held her phone up to share the screen with Marissa. On it was a pic of Cade and Marissa, her arms draped around him and looking up, smiling, into the dazzling blues of his. "Aw, you two are so cute." She chided her partner in crime. Marissa grunted, rolling her eyes. "He's a means to an end, Courtney. Don't make it out to be more than it is." "I have a hundo that says he falls in love with you." She chuckled. "I'll take that bet. He's not going to fall in love with me, we've talked, set the terms, he knows the deal. Besides, I'm not wearing a yukata." "What?" Courtney looked to her, confused. "Nothing," Marissa sighed, scrolling lazily on her phone down the same list of pics her 'friend' was scrolling through. She crinkled her nose at the Devin and Ellie one, flipping over to the texts to read, finally, who this new girl was. So... that was going to be a conversation for later. "So... what do you know about Jacob? Crocker." "Nothing, really, except that he used to pull Autumn's hair and make her scream his name." her matte red lips bent into a dismissive frown. "I don't really know him to be honest. We've not talked since... Jesus... third grade maybe?" She giggled as a memory resurfaced. "See, I was taking care of our class hamster for the summer and I had no idea what to feed it, but we ran into him and and his dad at the Kroger so I asked him about hamsters and-" "Yeah," Marissa cut her off. "Don't care." Marissa had little knowledge of who Courtney was before the Queen of Shelly had entered her life. The younger, still privileged little girl that was Courtney Adams used to almost be sweet and endearing before she became a spiteful, mean, nymphomaniac telepathic. They grow up so fast. "So, what could you find out?" "Why would I want to find out anything? The guy hates me and I've no love for him." She shrugged. "No, Courtney." Marissa set her phone down and pivoted to angle herself to look at the redhead directly. "I don't mean talk to him. So... I ask again... what could you find out?" "Ohh," now she was interested. The evil little redhead pivoted as well as her phone went to sleep in her lap. "That. Well, I'm not sure. What exactly do you want to know, Em?" Marissa's lips spiraled as her malicious grin could get no wider. "Everything." ---==={}===--- "Hey there handsome," Cade's brunette date mock cat called him from the tree she was leaning against as the stout young man approached her. "What's a girl have to do to take you home?" "Feed me," Cade smiled. "And tell me I'm pretty." "That all?" She pushed away from the tree and approached him, wrapping her arms around him as the tips of her feet elevated her high enough to kiss him. The gentle glide of her tongue across his upper lip sent a erotic shiver down his spine. "You are so easy. You offer all the girls the same deal?" "Nah." her faux-bae replied while his hands set to rest as the base of her back, the tips his fingers tracing gently across the top of her ass. Her jeans were so thin and tight she may as well had been naked to his touch. "Most girls I just give it up for free, but I know you have money and I'm always hungry." Surprisingly Marissa laughed at that, stepping away from him and slugging him in the chest with all the force of a girl who'd never thrown a punch before. "Ugh, I feel so used," she replied, mocking a combination of swooning and being aghast by his bravado. "Fine," she took his hand. "We'll do pretzels, but I expect you to put out." They both laughed and moved once more through the crowds, stopping to meet others from school and even posing for a few pics and group selfies with people they knew. Finally they walked alone and Marissa was daintily pulling apart a large pretzel with her manicured talons. "So," she asked. "What've you been up to since we parted? Oh! I ran into Courtney. She thinks we looks totes adorbs together. Whole school is talking about us."
  19. She watched Jason walk off and rolled her eyes at him. "He's such a fucking alien, I swear." She huffed and pushed herself off from her car to walk back into the festivities. She maneuvered through the crowds of people, even pushed a few away from her as they all tumbled all over themselves in the small herds that for some reason couldn't help but crowd the viable walkways between everyone's picnic areas. She felt a few 'random' brushes against her ass as she waded close to people, but she could never pinpoint who it was that did it. A part of her knew she would like to see them dropped on the spot for daring to touch her while another, rather small portion of her ego remained ever flattered that she was getting attention, even if it was probably some mongoloid mouth-breather. The loud crowds, the frisbee matches and football tossing were in full swing as she passed by and offered up smiles and waves to people she knew from school. Most she knew were fake as hell, just offering up just enough to keep the Queen off their backs, while others, like the Heath Twins and several members of the cheer squad practically idolized her still. Not all of the cheer squad, there were a couple who needed to have their social strata realigned a few times to remind them exactly what level they were actually on. Still, while she didn't have 'friends' per se, she had plenty of 'fans' still hoping for an opportunity to walk beside her and share the special sort of lime-lite she offered. Popularity to a high schooler was almost the perfect drug and Marissa dealt it out in fatal doses. She walked away from the Heath twins, who annoyed her to no end but at least they were legit in their dealings with people. The twin sisters were honest, if a bit naïve, when they had the opportunity to chat her up. It was a shame they liked Jason... as a pair. In her eyes, especially as a twin herself, she found it creepy when siblings both crushed on the same person. Thankfully, she had a brother and his sexuality seemed pretty etched in stone on the side of not getting enough women in his life. The two of them contesting a physical distraction didn't seem very likely at this point. Although she was tempted to go after Tawny a few times when her brother was being a particular special brand of jerk, if only to mess with him. She didn't the soft wall she slammed into while she was looking at her phone to send Cade a text. She backed a few steps, almost losing her footing in her designer wedges, and glared daggers at the tower of stupidity that wasn't watching where she was going. "Christ, Jacob! Can't get your head out of your dad's ass long enough to pay attention? People are trying to walk here." For the second time today Jacob Crocker was involved in a conversation with a woman he'd rather not speak to, ever. In fact, the few words they shared so far made up more that all they'd shared in the three years he'd known the elitist, hateful spite machine that was Marissa Jauntsen. He sighed rolled his eyes. "Marissa, your little jabs at my ego don't work. I hope you know that." "Oh," she pouted. "Is that why we never got along? Because you're just so much better than everyone else?" "No," Jacob chuckled. "You." "Me?" She laughed and scoffed at the same time. "You think you're better me?" "No," Jacob said simply. He was an expert at avoiding Marissa's bait and simply maneuvered his temperament around her words. He gestured to her, moving his hand from her head to her feet. "You're better than this. Seriously. Don't you ever get tired?" As simple of a question as it was Marissa stood there, lost or words. He diva side screamed and prepared a rebuttal while a more calmer portion of her brain admitted in silence, 'yes. yes, I do'. She opened her mouth to speak and tell him a thing or two when Shelly's perkiest blonde approached in full blast smelling like fruit scented Victoria's Secret lotion that Marissa knew her brother bought for her. "Jacob!" The megawatt white smile of the blonde lit of the area with sunshine and friendship magic, enough to make Marissa want to vomit little skull and crossbones. "Thanks for waiting, sorry. My dad get's really over protective, I hope his glaring didn't freak you out." "No, no, it's fine." Jacob smiled, replying to his date for homecoming. "Hey EmJay!" Tawny offered Marissa a wide smile only to allow it to melt away like smoldering wax when Marissa's eyes narrowed on the denim vest the spritely blonde had liberated from Marissa's closet and was currently being worn over a pink tee-shirt that displayed some sort of sparkling unicorn on it. Joy faded from view as Tawny swallowed and searched for some way to avoid the tongue lashing she was about to receive in front of her Homecoming date. "I uh," she stumbled for a place to begin. "Borrowed your vest, hope you don't mind." "You two know each other?" Jacob seemed positively confused. "Like, borrow each others clothes, know each other?" "Yeah," Marissa said softly, still reeling from that simple, yet ever so complicated question Jacob had asked her a moment ago. Suddenly she just didn't have the strength to argue, or care, for that matter. "Yeah we do. Don't worry about it, Tawny. It looks great on you. Just return it, okay?" With that she just walked off silently like a typical teen with her head somewhere else. "Wow," Tawny softly spoke in mild disbelief. "She is never that nice. What did you say to her?" "It won't last," Jacob shrugged. "So does it matter?" The two wandered back off into the crowds discussing plans for their Homecoming night and how Marissa was going to help Tawny with her dress. She walked on and thought hard. She wasn't really sure what possessed her to do it, but she looked back. You never look back. But she did... and Jacob looked back too. They noticed each other one last time as Marissa faded into the backdrop of picnic games and the scent of stale beer in the air. "There you are!" Cried a voice as a hand gripped her arm. The young girl turned about to notice her father and mother and a part of her sighed internally in relief. "We've been texting, where the hell did you two run off to? Where's your brother?" "Flirting with some girl named Ellie, I guess? Sorry, daddy, I didn't look at my phone, I was chatting with... friends." Her eyes wandered to look past her father and in the direction Jacob and Tawny walked off in moments ago. "Oh," Carl replied like such a simple explanation made everything suddenly make sense. "Well, good for him. Ellie's a nice name. It's wholesome. Hey, where're the Finglemans?" The teen goddess shifted her weight to one hip and faux chewed a faux talon she called a nail. "Well," she pondered. "Judging by how their daughter dresses? Peak of lower class, 34k a year, tops." Her mother, Misti, smirked approvingly. "Well observed, dear, if a bit generous." Carl nodded with a frown while his head bobbed in mock calculation of their annual income. "Eh, they do alright, which doesn't explain why she dresses like a nineties, thrift store pseudo goth. Probably to conceal the muffin top she's got going." The Jauntsen's fell into silence. They quietly pondered the accuracy and validity of that theory for far more than decent family should ever have. "Well," Carl broke the joy of mingling in the unfortunate financial status of others with a clap of his hands. "That said, I meant their table. Where're they sitting?" "Oh!" Marissa said in mock surprise. "Yeah, over there, by the trees," she pointed, raising to her tippy toes to arc over the heads of the others around them. "You'll see Will Beckett and I think the Heath twins are somewhere in that direction. Can't miss them. Mom knows them, she can point them out." "Unfortunately." Misti sighed at the internal regret of not getting away from the high school kids on such a nice day off. "Thank you sweetie. And tell your brother we're looking for him." "I will mom." She smiled wide and sped off on her way like nothing was wrong... everything was wrong.
  20. "Nowhere in particular," she shrugged absently while the two stood up and disposed of their plates. "It's not like there is really much to do here, it's Shelly. Just walk with me and talk for a bit, I told Jason I'd have a talk with him in about twenty minutes, so walk with me until then and we'll meet up afterwards. Where's Ru-Ru, I figured she'd be on your heels?" "She met up with a few of her friends from school," he offered her his arm and she quickly locked her with his and leaned against him affectionately. She played loved and lovingly so well he had to wonder if, for all her knowledge of etiquette and decorum if she really understood how a heart worked and what affect her faux affections had on him. "So, she's off doing that. She wanted to tag along, but I asked that she give us some time together." She looked up at him with a 'why' sort of expression upon her brow. The look hardened his heart a bit as he was reminded that all of this was an act to her. "For, um, you know... appearances. We don't have a lot of opportunities to have everyone see us together like this. You know, help sell it." His reassuring grin was a forced mask that hid disappointment in knowing she'd not understand his feelings one bit. "Actually, that's good thinking. Especially with Chet and the other cliques thinking they're going to launch a popularity coup," her eyes narrows and her nails dug into Cade's forearm. "Also, I'm joining the cheerleading team tomorrow. So, yeah, there's that." "Ow," he gently curled his fingers under hers and loosened her grip. "I'm not planning and coups, so if you could leave my blood in my body, that'd be great, thanks." "Sorry," she winced in apology. "It just has me worked up. You okay?" He nodded, smiling at her and gently placing his hand over hers, more to keep her finger flat on his arm than to be affectionate. "I'm fine. Those work," he mused about the sharpness of her claw-like nails.. "You got your money's worth. So, what made you decide on joining the cheer team?" "Well, it's a two-fold plan. See, my mother won't stop bothering me about how she was on the cheer leading team and she was dating the football star and she already had scholarships lined up and she,-" "I-I get it," Cade weaseled in an interruption as swiftly as he could, raising a hand to stop the further flow of torrential vitriol and contempt Marissa shared for her mother. "-well, it's infuriating!" She huffed. "I'm hoping if I follow a few footsteps she'll shut up and get off my case for a bit. I'm not her. I'm not going to marry someone I hate, give up a career I worked so hard on and become a hate filled, holier-than-thou harpy like she is." Cade wondered if she actually heard the words she spoke sometimes, because that or, "So, Jase is doing math tutoring... might wanna look into that? Maybe?" "What?" She looked up her bae, puzzled by his offer. "Why?" "No reason," he shrugged. "Anyway," she blew him off and continued. "Second, I need a bit more to pad my scholarships. Apparently my summer internship with the mayor isn't enough to convince top colleges that I can rule the worl-..." she paused and narrowed her eyes with a smirk and a shrug. She corrected herself in a humorous tone. "Okay, run a business. I practically ran this town for three months, Cadums. It's not fair. My proposals for community outreach were bomb as hell. Like that little locally owned soap company!" "Didn't you want them to hand out their soap to people outside the Wal-Mart?" He recalled. "Yeah, where all the dirty people congregate," she replied with a confident pride in her voice. "And it was edible! Totally all-natural." "Marissa, my dad had to shut them down, the soap wasn't edible, it was toxic, it caused rashes and breakouts. It was making people sick, a few cases were almost fatal." Her escort reminded her, knowing his dad had broke the company up about six weeks ago after reports flooded into the Sheriff's Department. "They're swamped in lawsuits right now." "Oh, I know! We knew before the cease and desist, but the dirty people would have possibly used it, and, well, sometimes God works too slow. The hospital would have a steady flow of revenue and we'd be down a lot of filthy people in Shelly. Win-win." The way she spoke with such confident conviction chilled his blood. "Knowing that, you now what she did?" "Can't imagine," he sighed. "She tossed the proposal!" She fumed, tossing up her free hand in righteous indignation. "The nerve of that woman. Who does she thing she is?" "Hmm. The Mayor. That's my guess." He nodded, confident in his answer. "So, anyway: the sequel, this will look good and doing the dances and organizing the school events will certainly help too." The two walked on for a few more minutes, even running into Haruka for a few moments where the news of a movie night elicited cheers and high pitched squees of delight. Having a hot brother already put her in good a place a lot of her fellow classmates, and now, her knowing and 'hanging out' with his super popular, girlfriend was elevating the girl to a swift status of enviable among the junior classmen of the rather meager, Shelly School District. Still as they parted ways the girls gossiped about how her bother was super cute, admitted to being just a bit jealous that he wasn't single anymore. On the other hand they were totally prepared to sign their souls away to whomever was listening for just one ounce of Marissa's confidence, beauty, poise, and popularity, oblivious to what price she had paid for it. The two parted and decided on a meeting spot after her talk. He asked if she'd like for him to stay but she felt safe enough around all the people at the carousel, Jason might be crazy but he was intelligent enough to not get caught by murdering someone in broad daylight with several hundred witnesses. After a splash of hand sanitizer from her car to complete the washing away of all those sauces and a quick reapplication of her lipstick she patiently waited for Jason by leaning against her car and scrolling through a variety of social media distractions.
  21. "We need some hobbies," her lips curled into a smirk. "Because around here, all we seem do is catch food, then eat it. I'm going to get fat." She raised her hands in testimony, shaking her head. "I'm already one o' eight and all my jeans are tight on me. It's getting out of hand." Cade cocked his head and looked at her with a confused expression. "Yeah, but... didn't you buy them that way?" "Not the point!" She protested. Her phone vibrated and her eyes glanced at where it lie on the picnic table. "...but yes. Still, one o' five is my target weight and all this eating is not going to help. Oh, I know... why don't we do baked fish, which is healthier than fried, and instead of stuffing our face all night, we curl up on the couch and watch a movie or something. We can do a movie night with Ru-Ru, since all the other things we'd do together would probably be too loud to explain away to her, or your parents." The mischief in her grin didn't escape him. "Here," she dumped her last three ribs on his plate. "Save me from myself." "Hey!" He laughed. "Trying to make me fat now, huh?" "Yup. So you can't run away from me." She chuckled. "Muahaha." She seemed, despite all that was happening and had already happened to be genuinely in very spirits, fun was almost a word never used to describe her, but right now she seemed... normal. Less mean and more Queen. The torn packet of the wetnaps hit her bone strewn plate and she wiped her hands thoroughly before taking up her phone, using a second, clean one, to wipe down her lifeline to social media. Over the course of several food line trips she'd dabbed all manner of sauces and greasy finger prints on the screen. Her thumbs were like blurs as she tapped out her response. <<<To Gingerdead Man>>> From Marissa: Eating with Cade ATM. My car / 20 minutes. She set her phone face down on the table and smiled at her faux-bae. "I think Ru-Ru would like a night to chill with us. Besides, we still have to watch Tangled, you owe me a stunning rendition of all the Flynn songs. I expect payment, in full, Mister."
  22. She rested her head against her bae's chest as a way of acknowledging his greeting. "If by that you mean to say that I'm the only person attractive enough to distract this ravenous pack of half-starved mongrels from the carcasses they're picking through, momentarily causing them to forget the gnawing hunger which will characterize the remainder of their impoverished, fruitless existences... then," she wrapped her arms around his waist and squeezed, smiling devilishly as she did so. "You say the sweetest things. Also, yes. Yes. I. Am." "Sure," Cade chuckled under his breath. "Let's go with that." They made small talk as they ordered their plates and Marissa dropped offered the bumpkin girl a ten as they collected their bottled waters and wet-naps at the end of the line. They chose table further away from the main through fare of food enthusiasts which was occupied by a small collection of student from their school. After few well placed words and veiled threats the Queen of Mean had dispersed them, receiving a series of ill-tempered looks and disgusted sighs of frustration sent her way. Once situated she began to shear the meat from the bone in downward swiped with her plastic knife. Handling the food didn't seem to be her thing as she daintily pinched and picked at it, although she had no qualms about licking her finger tips clean. Afterwards she picked at some of the meat with her sharpened nails, pinching it and prepping it for consumption. "What?" She noticed Cade appraising her ritual silently. "Nothing," he shook his head, shrugging. "You just seem... irritated. Is it about ear-" "No," she cut him off. "Earlier is done with. I said my part and we're moving on." She wiped her hands with paper towel, something he noticed she did after every bite. She seemed to refuse to allow herself to remain dirty for longer than a few seconds. "But, yeah, I am a bit irritated. Not at you. Chet decided to pay me a visit in all his cro magnon charm." "While I have confidence in your ability to handle yourself, do you want to have a few words with him? Tell him to back off?" He gnawed on the bone taking most of the meat off in a single bite. Shelly was not the most exciting place in the world, to be sure, but Cade had to give it up to all the devoted barbeque aficionados who made this time of year totally worth it. "You know, it was sort of made to be eaten off the bone. It comes with it's own stick... see?" He displayed his rib, pinched tightly in both his hands, offering up a test bite as a tutorial for proper carnivore etiquette. "Ew, no. You look like a slob," she half chuckled. Her smile lit up the moment as the warpath trotting Queen of Mean rarely seemed to take much solace in humor these last few days. Cade smiled that corn-fed, down home smile of his and dropped a bare rib bone on a side plate. "Maybe, but I'm about eight more ribs away from being a fat and happy slob. I can live that." She laughed and shook her head, pinching up more of the barbecued meat with her talons. "You do you, sexy. Have you ever tried fine manipulation with acrylics? Especially with slippery food like sauce-covered ribs? It'd be sometime tomorrow before I got a bite and not to mention how much these cost me, I'm not about to risk messing up my manicure just for some 'what is best in life' moment with my food, and thank God for liquid lipstick and Sephora delivering out this far into nowhere or I'd be reapplying every five minutes. Besides, it's more classy this way..." she smiled petitely and twisted the cap off her water. "And thank you for the offer, it's sweet, but I can handle Chet. If it gets out of hand, I'll call you." "Fair enough, and Mari," Cade chuckeld. "We both know that's like plate twelve for you. Let's be real, 'classy' Scott Pilgrim'd out the window around plate three." Her water bottle cap bounced off his chest as he attempted to dodge, eat and laugh all at once. "Jerk," she said with a grin on her lips as she her own laughter matched his. "I can't help it, okay? I think it's these talents, or something but I am starving like all the time, but I'm not putting on weight. I feel like my metabolism is on jackrabbit mode or something. I hope I don't transform into a rabbit or something." She 'pfft''d at the thought as it humored her. "Hare." Cade said with a mouthful of rib meat. "Jackrabbits are hares, not rabbits. Hares have longer ears, like a jackass, hence 'jack' rabbit, and longer legs." She looked at him, her faced scrunched up with doubt. "Really? I always thought they were the same thing. I mean, they look the same." "Nope," he chewed contently. "Totally harmless too. I could show you sometime, if you like. No surprises, promise." "Huh," she squeaked, actually having learned something new without it being thrust upon her in a tornado of whirling teeth, claws and random diseases. She narrowed her eyes at him, skeptical, considering his ambush in the past. Rabbits were sort of cute, and relatively harmless (or so she thought). "Maybe. They are soft and cute. We'll see."
  23. Marissa's phone chimed as she was licking the barbecue sauce off her fingers. Sure, she hated the small town boredom of Shelly, but she could appreciate that these people knew how to cook! She'd managed a few recipes, which seemed overly long and process driven, but she'd already streamlined them into more efficient means of creation. She couldn't wait to try them out and maybe share them with the rest of the Fellowship. “Wow, Marissa,” Chet's voice traveled longer than his shadow, but she raised her eyes up as her sunlight was suddenly stripped by his looming presence. “Stress eating?” “That,” she smirked and spun to face him, her hair whipping about in typical starlet fashion. “Would imply I have something to worry about.” She dropped her paper plate in near by waste bin and looking up at the tall jock whose nose was still pink and scabbed up from her brother's assault on him a few weeks ago. “Do I have to worry, Chet?” “Eh,” he slyly shrugged with one shoulder, delivering all the suave, social maneuvering one could expect from, say, a drooling cow slowly trying to speak through its cud chewing. “Just that you and your brother are off your game lately,” she loved the way he made everything a sports reference. “He's randomly attacking people, namely mwah. People you have a problem with are coming up missing and... well, you've been on a warpath lately with the rest of the clicks. People are loosing faith in you, is all I'm saying.” “First, it's 'moi', there's an accent there, it's French. Second, it's 'cliques', with an 'ee' in it. Again, French, so there's a smidgen of an accent.” She pressed her finger and thumb together to measure a smidgen for him. “Now, if you're done referring to people as verbs instead of nouns, let's get to the good part: if you want it, you've got it.” She shrugged calmly. “I have way bigger things to deal with in my life right now that playing Degrassi with a bunch of backwater high school window-lickers.” “You've gone completely nuts,” he chuckled. “Cheer squad will love to know how you think about them.” “I'm joining tomorrow, Chet. I'll tell them myself.” She shifted her weight to her left hip and refrained from snapping her fingers in his field of vision. So far he had yet to actually make any eye contact with her as his gaze kept shifting from her bust to exposed midriff. “Just so you know, Chet, The Game isn't about being popular, it's about staying that way. In terms you'll understand: once you sit your Joffery little ass on that throne, you have my whoring, conniving, and really intelligent brother to deal with on a social battlefield. When he's done with you, I will step in like a crazy bitch with dragons and Chet... I don't want the throne, I just want to watch the kingdom burn.” Now she snapped her fingers at him to capture his attention and with a blink his eyes were now fixed on hers for the first time. He could see the crazed fire dancing behind them like a animal defending its territory. “So, take it if you want it. Be the Prince of Shelly High,” she splayed out her arms wide to encompass everything around her. “But I will always be the Queen of Mean and I didn't earn the title by letting people talk to me like I was second to anyone or anything. Take your veiled threats and obfuscated intentions and challenges and save them for someone who is actually afraid of you.” Chet just glared at her, then swallowed a bit harder than he intended. “Y-you've lost your damn mind, girl. Jesus.” She slipped her phone from her pocket and read Cade's text only to realize she still didn't have any sunlight. She looked to Chet and waved him away. “We're done. Go.” He marched off with some curse under his breath, she'd caught the 'crazy bitch' part but simply rolled her eyes and placed her attention back to her phone. [Uh, duh! Come feed me and tell me I'm pretty. I'll meet you at the 'best ribs' competition area, it's only five bucks a plate. Bring your appetite.]
  24. "Yes, because it's everyone else's fault," she fumed and returned to her phone. "And, as always, a hasty retreat is the best way to handle things head on." She turned to Hank, since in her eyes he seemed to be the only one with any measure of courage at the moment. "For the record, Mr. Graskel, it's not rumor, its fact. It's not amusement, it's concern. Autumn happens to be my best friend and she's dating a guy who folds people up and has no capacity for fear of the consequences or remorse for his actions. It's not 'behind his back', as everything I've said here I've already told Jason, but as always, it's easier to just turn around and walk away from the issues, than face them." She stood up, sighing and tucking her phone in her tight back pocket. "Well, Lilly, sorry to cut this short, but as always the truth speakers are the monsters and the monsters are protected by the blind. C'est la vie. Mr. Graskel, thank you for the plate, it was delicious and extend my gratitude to Mr. Bannon as well, when he's done avoiding the truth. I see where Jason gets it from." "I guess if us kids won't listen, and the parents are just going to rush off in a huff, and the law obviously doesn't care, the press might be interested. Violent crime like that in small Shelly? Locals in the guy's neighborhood have been scared silly with concern that whomever is responsible is still out there." "Darlin, I don't think that's a good idea." Hank tried his absolute best to adult. "Me either, so maybe you should get on that. There's an old African proverb, Mr. Graskel: A child that is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth. Quite frankly I'm a little sick and tired of people walking away from me. I'll be here all day, Jase has my number, let me know when he or his father feels like talking." She didn't say anything more, simply dumped her late in the 55 gallon drum that served as a waste bin and walked on like it was just another Monday. She slid her phone from her pocket and went right back to texting, or, whatever she did on that thing.
  25. "What's not to like about Jason?" Marissa toned in calmly and in that honest voice she used to express a point. "He threatens to slit the throats of his class mates with farming implements, pull hearts from the chests of people, and, oh, yeah, let's not forget breaking almost every bone in someone's body and putting them in a coma after he creepily stood outside their window... yeah, I don't see this going bad at all." She rolled her eyes and shivered in mock concern. "What parent would have any doubts, whatsoever, when it came to their child being safe. Alone. With him. Psshh, it'll be fine." "Relax, Mr. Bannon." Marissa added, looking up from her phone. "Jason told Autumn the truth and she was just ducky with all of his violent tendencies and urge to murder-death-kill everything he felt threatened by. I'm sure her parents will totally feel the same way. Apparently the old Arnold Schwarzenegger line 'yes, but they were all bad' is still the end all, be all, get out of trouble excuse for being a violent psychopath. Although, they'll need to get a place that has a massive porch or basement, something tells me they're going to need the hid- storage space."
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