Sealed With a Kiss

Chapter 1

The crash is deafening. But the scream from my throat is worse. It almost blinds me to my other senses. As I raise my head and start to look around in confusion, there's a flash of light in my eyes. I vaguely hear a stranger's voice call to me but all I can deal with is the throb in my head and the way I'm seeing double.. Ignoring the voice, I rub my eyes and when I draw my hands away, my eyes land on him. What I see is incomprehensible. Unbelievable. And I feel my heart being ripped out of my chest. I scream louder than I've ever screamed before.

A mixture of a gasp, a sob and a guttural sound escaped my chest as I jolted awake in bed. I looked around in horror as the scream still resonated in my ears. I felt completely discombobulated and it took me a moment to realize that the scream was not my own - it was my baby sister coming through the monitor next to my bed.

Shaking my head, another sob escaped my chest and I closed my eyes to try to force the images from my brain. The nightmare was just as real as if it had happened yesterday. There was no escaping reality, even in my dreams. I drew my knees up to my chest, wrapping my arms around them and lowered my head. The sobs that came were the sobs that I could only reveal when I was alone. They were gut-wrenching and a place I didn't allow myself to go to very often… only when the nightmares forced it into the present.

As I listened to my sister's continued cries, I raised my head to look at the clock. 2:32 a.m. Shit, I'd only gotten a few hours sleep. Wiping at my eyes, I took in a deep breath and pushed myself off my bed to go take care of her.

As I walked to the door, I saw myself in the vanity mirror and it made me stop in my tracks. My hair was disheveled and there were bags under my eyes, but the most striking thing was the deadened look within those eyes. I simply stared into them, looking for the spark that used to be there and not finding any semblance of it there. With a heavy sigh, I turned away and placed my hand on the doorknob to open the door.

When did this become my life? When will it change? God, I can't keep doing this. I need something to change.

I took in a deep breath of the outside air and smiled to myself. There was something comforting about a new school year and returning to a routine. Nothing was expected of me here other than to go to my classes, do my homework and participate in a few activities. I could be a kid and that was exactly what I loved about it. To the point that I stuck around even when school was over. That's right - I was one of those lucky kids who had a free period at the end of the day and instead of leaving to head home, I stayed. My joy came from being able to sit down and lean against a wall outside of school, knowing that no one would bother me. This was certainly something that I could get used to. Ah yes, being a senior was nice.

While I certainly had my own reasons for not wanting to return home, there was an appeal in being able to do something that my friends couldn't. I found pleasure in knowing that I was free while everyone else was locked away listening to some teacher babble on about 19th century battles and how we must learn from our past mistakes, blah blah insert history lesson here blah. History was never my favorite subject; thank God for the infusion of government and politics senior year. I fully welcomed the break.

Whatever the reason, I was glad to be given this moment to sit and just be.

I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes, savoring the quiet and how it allowed me to be alone with my thoughts. It was rare for me to have these kinds of moments otherwise in my life. I usually had someone depending on me.

Maybe by having this free period, I'd get a chance to think. Maybe I'd even get a chance to feel again.

That thought alone both thrilled and disturbed me. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to feel again. At least not like last night.

As I let out a long, deep sigh and began to sift through my chaotic thoughts, the silence was interrupted by a voice and the strumming of a guitar being carried on the wind. I opened my eyes abruptly and looked around, pushing my black, shoulder-length hair out of my face. I didn't see anyone. Who the hell is that? And where the hell is that coming from? As the seconds passed, I begrudgingly admitted whoever it was... well... they sure knew how to play. Curiosity got the better of me and I pushed myself up from the ground and walked in the direction of the music. As I rounded a corner, my eyes fell on the origin.

I stopped and leaned slightly against the wall as I observed her. A young woman about my age sat with a guitar in her hands, strumming softly as she sang along. Whatever she was singing held a melancholy tone and her voice expressed a certain ache. She had such a beautiful voice. Haunting almost. Her eyes were closed and her auburn hair fell softly around her face, the sun highlighting the red tones. Something about her voice tugged at my heart and evoked an ache similar to the one she was displaying. As I watched her, I began to wonder what or who had hurt her. What? Why? What the hell do I care? I shook my head in slight amusement at my reaction, even if its appearance did bother me a little.

The song came to a close and her eyes shot open. They were a lovely shade of green and... they had caught me, her intense stare focused solely on me.

Feeling very self-conscious, I suddenly stood up straight and coughed in embarrassment. I forced a smile on my face. "Sorry, I was sitting around the corner and heard you singing. Um, that's a beautiful song."

She tilted her head and studied me with a curious expression on her face. A little smile hiked up her lips as she rested her guitar gingerly beside her. "Thanks. I thought I was alone out here."

I shifted uneasily on my feet and gestured back toward where I'd come from. "Yeah, sorry, I was sitting over there because I don't have anywhere to be right now. I didn't mean to interrupt you. I'll just leave you alone. Again, I'm sorry." Feeling rather foolish, I turned to leave but then she spoke up.

"Did I say I wanted you to leave?"

I paused, kind of unsure and out of my element. She intrigued me - who would normally say that to a person? I turned around to find that she had stood up from the ground and her shoulder was leaning against the wall. This allowed me to get a real good look at her; I realized she must be a new transfer because I'd never seen her before. She wore a pair of tight jeans and a baggy t-shirt that said Screw Authority in big block letters. I had to grin a bit; she wasn't going to make any teachers happy with that one. And why she wore such a baggy shirt, I did not know – it really wasn't showing off one of her assets. Apparently she was okay with showing off her ass but eyes off the breasts. Walking contradiction. I kind of liked that.

I suddenly noticed I'd been staring and she was staring right back at me, patiently waiting for my answer. I blushed slightly as I remembered she'd asked me a question. "Um, no, you didn't. But I just thought you might like some privacy."

She shrugged as her eyes glanced down at her guitar. "It can get a little lonely." After a few seconds, she raised her eyes and gave me a warm smile. "I was cursed with the name Bree Crystal. What about you?"

I couldn't help but laugh. "What are you talking about? Bree's a pretty name."

Bree grinned and shrugged a bit. "If you say so, Blue Eyes."

Blue Eyes? I suddenly felt very self-conscious about the color of my eyes and looked away at anything, anything at all - didn't matter what, lockers, grass, the sidewalk, Bree. Shit. That was when I noticed she was waiting yet again for my reply. "Oh! Sorry..." I laughed a little nervously. Why am I acting so off around her? I'm usually so collected. "My name's Kendra Lachen, and unlike you, I kinda like it."

She smiled that crooked little smile again that rose half up her lips. "I do too."

I couldn't help but smile in response. It took me a moment to realize I was staring at that smile of hers. It felt like it knew something about me, like whatever I was hiding could not be hidden when she stared at me. It made me uneasy. Shit. Talk, Kendra, stop staring at her and open that big mouth of yours. "So uh, why aren't you in class?"

Bree shrugged nonchalantly. "For the same reason you aren't. I don't have a seventh period. I wasn't really into the idea of baking cookies or grading some teacher's papers, so getting out of school early sounded good to me. Besides it's their job. I have to write my own papers; they should have to grade them. It's only fair, I think."

I could feel my eyes twinkling in mischief as I replied, "I'd expect no less from a chick that's wearing a Screw Authority t-shirt on the first day of school."

She glanced down at her shirt and a slow grin spread across her face. She shifted her shoulder a bit against the wall. "Hey, I could have worn my Screw Me t-shirt if you think that would have gotten more of a response."

I gawked at her in shock. "You have a Screw Me t-shirt?"

Bree's grin grew even wider and her left eyebrow rose ever so slightly. "Maybe someday you can find out for yourself."

I stared at her for a ? As her words began to register in my head, I felt my face slowly turn a fiery red. Is she flirting with me? Is that a- no, I've got to be imagining things.

As if to save me from any further humiliation, the bell rang to signal the end of seventh period. Students began to file eagerly out of the classrooms next to us. More like a bum rush, to be honest. I glanced around at the students before allowing myself to look at Bree. I felt my stomach do a mini-flip as I noticed she was studying me, her eyes slowly moving up my body. Do I have toilet paper hanging out of my ass or something? I glanced down just to be sure.

"Hey babe!" I felt an arm slide around my waist and pull me in as lips were planted on mine.

Caught off-guard, my lips didn't quite return the kiss and I quickly pulled away. I smiled awkwardly up at my boyfriend, feeling as if he'd caught me in the middle of something I couldn't quite put my finger on.

Tyler Hamilton's token goofy grin smiled down at me and his pale blue eyes were playful. He leaned down to whisper into my ear with a low grunt. "I've been waiting all day to get you alone. Let's go."

I felt the red in my cheeks flare up once again and I coughed loudly to try to cover up what he had just said in hopes that Bree had not heard it. I twirled my thick hair around my finger and took a step back from Tyler in order to steal a glance at Bree. She was standing up straight and kind of looking off into the distance, a blank expression on her face. Dammit, she may have heard him. Tyler had bad timing; quite frankly, he always had bad timing when it came to sex as it was continuously at the front of his mind. It wouldn't take much for a stranger to realize we had already done the deed many a time. I turned my attention back to him, finding a look of hurt on his face. He must not have liked my pulling away from him.

I sighed and brushed his blonde locks out of his eyes. "Sorry honey, it's just… people are around." I motioned around me to the students retrieving books from their lockers, although my eyes fell on Bree as I saw her placing her guitar back into its case with that same blank expression.

Tyler didn't notice how I was distracted. His lanky body bounced a little bit and his loose jeans almost fell off his hips. It didn't take long for his goofy grin to return to his face. That was one thing about Tyler - he usually wasn't mad or upset for very long. "It's okay, babe. Basketball practice hasn't started yet, so I just want to spend as much time with you as I can." Tyler was the star basketball player at our school, Edmington High, and had held the coveted role for a couple of years now. Even when he was a sophomore, he excelled over many of the seniors. Now as a senior, I was sure he was going to shine even more. That was the nice thing – being able to watch him grow over the years. We'd been together romantically for almost two years, and while some of the excitement had worn off, it was always nice to see his smiling face at the end of the day. It was comforting. I mean, who could resist that goofy smile? I sure couldn't; it always made me want to laugh.

"Do you need to stop at your locker before we go?" he asked.

I shook my head. "No, I have all the books I need in my backpack. It's around the corner."

His forehead wrinkled a bit as he glanced toward said corner. "Why don't you have it on you?"

I glanced over at Bree flipping the latches closed on the guitar case and taking the handle into her hand as she stood back up. I shook my head absentmindedly. "No reason. I was just walking around."

Tyler shrugged a bit. "Alright, well let's get going. I don't want to be in this place one minute longer than I have to." He leaned his full weight on me dramatically. "Why, oh why, did summer have to end?"

I laughed and bumped his hip with my own to get him off of me. "Because the fates hate you?"

"I knew there was a reason," he replied with a grin. Standing up straight, he wrapped his arm around my waist and steered me in the direction of the location of my backpack. "C'mon."

I let him do so but not before sneaking a peek at Bree over my shoulder. I didn't get to say goodbye and a part of me didn't like that. Maybe she didn't either because her eyes turned and met mine. She looked puzzled for a moment but then I watched as her eyes twinkled at me. She grinned as she bid me adieu with a bow before turning to walk the other way.

As my eyes lingered, it took me a second to notice a lone sticker on the side of her guitar case.

I blinked. Several times. Is that a...? Yes, it was. A rainbow. Like the stickers you'd see sometimes on the bumper of someone's car. At first, the only image that came to my head was one of the Rainbow Brite cartoons I used to watch as a kid. However, my expression quickly changed as a realization dawned on me. Ohhh... she's gay. That explained the t-shirt comment. And the bit that felt like flirting.

A part of me knew that I should look away given this new information, however I couldn't help but watch Bree's hips sway one last time before she rounded the corner and was out of sight.