Throwing the heavy novel down onto the desk, I gave it one last dirty look before tossing myself into the rolling chair and covering my face with my hands in disgust.
How sick was it that a book managed to ruin my life?
How can a piece of fiction, no matter how well written, make me feel so discontent? How can pages of the written word make me yearn for something that doesn't exist?
I surely didn't have the answer, but I did know that my heart was heavy for some odd reason.
That didn't sit well with me.
"What's wrong now, Alex?" a female voice called from the left of me, knocking me somewhat briefly out of my moment of self pity.
Peeking through my fingers at the spiky blonde hair of my coworker Mary, I knew deep down that I could never explain to her the burning of unease within my chest nor the reason for it.
Hell I wouldn't even know where to begin if I even tried!
"Nothing, just a bit of a headache." I lied quickly before hiding my gaze once more.
I racked my brain wondering how I was supposed to tell her that a book, a piece of fiction involving vampires no less had made me question the very foundation of my life.
How the hell do I do that and still look sane?
There was simply no way that I would ever be able to correctly describe my current feelings and my blatant unhappiness. No way could I tell someone that I wanted to be the heroine in this particular book. I wanted to be the woman who fell in love with an immortal vampire, who in turn would love me forever and ever.
To simplify the situation, I wanted a love that would last an eternity. I didn't technically need a vampire, just love.
Sadly, I knew it was impossible but I still fervently wished it so.
Talk about insane.
Casting the book one more look of mixed disgust and longing, I mentally slammed the door on these feelings shut. I didn't have time for this.
I had other things to worry about besides feeling miserable about love.
Turning my head to my own computer monitor, I began quickly typing away on the many insurance claims before me.
There was no way I could hide the revolted look on my face.
I would rather go under the knife then have to do insurance claims.
I, Jolie Alexandria Mire (Alex to my friends), was an insurance agent and oh what an exciting life I lived filing claims at the local business.
There was nothing like paperwork to brighten a day, especially on the day when you grieve for the impossibility of soul mates.
As an agent, I look forward to doing claims five days a week and on weekends….well on weekends I had no life except for the periodic movie with friends.
I, more often than not, curl up at home with a book for the duration of my free days.
I was simply introverted like that. Call me a nerd if you must.
My family often worries about me because of this solitary habit but they try not to make demands that I go out and raise hell like the rest of the youth in my small Louisiana town.
What parent would?
Why to most of the residents here, I am the epitome of perfect. More often than not, I am remarked upon by others my age as 'Goody Two Jam'. (Jam being the abbreviation of my full name, Jolie Alexandria Mire.) A courtesy from the few friends I did manage to pick up while growing older.
When I was younger, I went to school with perfect attendance and made near perfect grades. I worked part time once I reached the legal age, helping pay for the bills. I am always polite and never unruly. I was often referred to as the perfect child.
Frankly, I was boring and still am.
So lost in my inner musings of my life, or lack of it, I didn't realize that the clock has struck five and the work day had ended. Freedom was at hand.
"Working over time, Alex?" Mary asked in an amused tone, knowing better.
I was usual out the door five minuets before quitting time.
I grinned sheepishly at her before hastily gathering my things together, minus the book that had ruined my day. I didn't even want to look at the thing over the weekend.
I wanted to give myself a few days to recuperate the devastation of my emotions.
Grasping my keys and purse, I nodded to Mary and practically waltzed out the door and hurried to my car, a little beat up red Honda Civic.
Unlocking the doors and eagerly hopping in.
I managed to turn the car on as I buckled up. (Louisiana is big on safety and so am I) Checking the radio station, I turned the volume up on Offspring's song 'The Kid's Aint Right' and practically burned rubber coming out the parking lot.
Don't worry; no one was hurt in my haste to leave.
Living in a small town did have its pluses. Lack of traffic was one and being able to live a bit away but still relatively close was yet another. Thus, it didn't take me longer than ten minutes to arrive safely at my home on the outskirts of town.
As usual, I sat in my car for awhile. This was a habit of mine, always pausing outside to contemplated the home that I grew up in.
I had good memories in the beautiful white antebellum home.
The building was old and timeless, with its two story structure.
Like most homes in the area, a wide porch wrapped around both levels, giving it a constant balcony. Two bay windows, both on the right side of the home gave it an air of elegance. Its panes were wide, letting the warm light from within glow and cast a welcoming look to those outside its walls, mainly myself.
It was a safe haven to me, nestled as it was in the midst of giant oaks draped in steel colored moss and bordered in the back by a scenic bayou filled with lilies.
The place was simply breathtaking and perfect in oh, so many wonderful ways.
Many people have approached my parents in hopes of a sale, often offering atrocious prices for it.
Thankfully my parents never accepted, saying how it was actually my home and not within their rights. I've yet to figure out how they figured that but yes; it was my home in every other sense of the word.
Even though I was adopted as a small infant and really had no true blood ties to this land, I had them were it counted. That was in my heart. I shall always have bounds to the place and to the couple who raised me here.
Realizing that dusk was fast approaching and with it giant mosquitoes that could easily cart a whole person away, I quickly entered
"Hey, I'm home!" I called out my arrival in a near sing song voice.
God, I love it when I get home.
"Hey." My father called in his usual response.
I already knew where he would most likely be but I still followed his voice to the living room.
As expected I found him reclined in his leather chair watching reruns of Family Guy.
Rolling my eyes at the immaturity of my own father figure, I couldn't help but giggle as his hazel eyes refused to leave the television.
For some reason my dad loved this show beyond any other.
Yet even occupied as he was with the cartoon he did try to hold a short conversation with me.
"How was your day?" His tone was somewhat occupied.
"The usual." I wasn't about to explain the turbulent feelings.
"Hmmm, that's nice." His bald head (He lost his hair sometime around my adoption. Ask me not the reason for it, I simply do not know) bobbed with his absentminded reply and I took that as my queue to leave him alone with the antics of Peter Griffin.
I would hear the Television even as I followed the hall down to the cozy kitchen and my mother's main domain.
Like finding my father watching TV. I wasn't surprised to see my mother digging in the pantry, her rather large bottom end sticking out the door.
"Hey." I said softly, least I scare her. She was always an easy scare.
"Hey, Alex," was her muffled reply, before her frizzy salt and peppered head popped out of the closet.
Her arms were filled with food products.
"Cooking?" I asked even though I knew better.
Cooking was mom's hobby like Family Guy was my dad's obsession.
My mom was always cooking something.
Sniffing the air quickly (I always did have a good sense of smell) I instantly knew she was making lasagna.
My stomach rumbled a bit, letting me know that I was hungry.
Mom smiled sweetly at me before asking me about my day in the softest of tones.
Soft was how she always talked, even when she yelled. She was such a lady.
"It was ok." How average can an answer be?
Casting a contemplating look in my directions, her pale blue eyes were nearly lost in her slightly chubby face. I knew she was sizing my answer up and deciding how much was BS.
I waited to see what the verdict would be.
It never came for the shrill ringing of the telephone interrupted.
Glancing quickly at the clock, I knew exactly who was on the phone.
"Hello?" Mama answered even though we both knew who it was.
"Hello Mr. Vlarinski!" she said after a moment of silence and immediately walked out of the room.
Sighing, I took myself off to my room.
There was no way I would have a chance to continue talking with my mom seeing how Mr. Vlarinski had called.
I wasn't quite sure who exactly Vlarinski was, having never asked my parents before.
It was sort of an unspoken rule, 'Don't ask and don't tell'
I did know that Vlarinski called every Friday for as long as I could remember, again I didn't know why.
I personally never talked to him, though I did answer the phone once or twice by accident.
On both occasions my parents nearly had heart attacks and snatched the phone away at the earliest possible moment.
It was during my first accidental hello that I discovered a few others things about the mysterious man.
One, he wasn't my parents age or at least he didn't sound like it. He sounded only a few years older than me.
Two, he had a Russian accent when he spoke.
And Three, he had the most amazing voice.
Look, I kid you not on this one.
If the devil had a voice it would be Mr. Vlarinski's, so warm like melted honey when he speaks.
His words are enunciated carefully and his voice is simply lilting.
After my first hello with the man, I was like a drug addict trying to get another hit.
For weeks I was always by the phone in hopes to catch another "Is your mother or father there?"
Yes, his voice is that wonderful and I admit it took me a long while to manage self control when the phone rings and I KNOW he's the caller.
Yet, I did manage to hone it and now…well now I only tense up just a little and I always refuse to answer.
If you can't hear him then you don't know what you're missing right? Sort of like out of sight, out of mind.
I'm proud to say that I've been Vlarinski free for nearly six years.
Entering my bedroom, I quickly looked out the large bay window at the last bit of setting sun.
It was always a beautiful sight and yet another strange habit of mine.
Then throwing my things and myself onto the bed, I began to start mentally analyzing the day.
Groggily realizing that my eyes were glowing red, I sleepily blinked the open only to realize that I had fallen asleep sometime in the midst of my mental playback.
It took a few moments for my brain to clear out the sleep in my system and realize that it was already early morning.
I had missed my whole Friday evening.
Mentally berating my laziness, I quickly climbed out of bed and rushed into the bathroom to dress in a frenzy.
Like all my weekends, I always headed to the Library first thing in the morning to find a good book or two.
Today would be no different.
A quick glance in the mirror showed me that my eyes were still half closed, allowing only the merest of color to peek out.
Anyone who would see me today would know I just woke up.
Shrugging unworriedly, I quickly rain a brush through my long light brown hair before tossing it into a messy bun.
I was never the type to really worry about my appearance.
Still for some unknown reason, I stopped to give myself a closer examination.
I couldn't help but wonder if perhaps I could hold up to the heroine in that blasted book.
I highly doubted it but I still couldn't stop myself from comparing.
The oval shaped face reflected wasn't exactly ugly (at least not in my opinion) though perhaps a bit plain.
My nose was my least favorite feature being a bit flat and upturned but still not all that bad.
My complexion was a dusky peach with no imperfection and my eyes looked a bit strange slanted up at the ends like they were. The bright turquoise color was quite nice though and unusual. So I guess that was a good thing.
My hair was just a mop of average brown. Well actually a light brown that seemed more gold in the sun. Plain, Plain, Plain.
What was so sad though was that my hair was pin straight. I had no waves or curls to boost of.
No, face wise I couldn't compare. I was just an average girl with an average face.
Okay so I had an average face, I could handle that.
I couldn't help myself though as I looked down at my body.
I tried to stop myself from comparing. I knew there was no way I could compare to a voluptuous figure.
I mean, I was a regular 5'6 height and willowy. What curves I could ever claim where minimal at best. I was down right slender.
Sighing in dejection, I turned myself away from the bathroom and down the stairs.
As I went, I tried to dig deep and figure out why exactly I was letting this get to me.
I mean, so what if my body wasn't hotter than some fictional character. I was real; I at least beat the heroine in that.
Walking unhurriedly into the kitchen, I was happy to find my mother cleaning the pans from breakfast.
"Bacon?" I asked as I leaned in and pecked her on the cheek.
She nodded towards the high bistro table and laughed when my eyes lit up.
I loved bacon.
"You fell asleep early, Alex." She started in that deceptively soft voice of hers.
I nodded absentmindedly as I stuck a slice into my mouth and began to blissfully chew.
"Someone your age should have some sort of life."
My eyes swung to my mother as I started to choke on the lump that my bacon had suddenly become.
"Sorry? I don't think I heard you right?" I croaked out once I managed to push the lump down my throat.
Did my mother just tell me I needed a life?
Looking into her face, I noticed for the first time the steely look within her pale eyes.
"You need to go out more. I love the fact that you're so responsible but really Alex, you're twenty two! You should be going out. You should be having fun."
With my head cocked sideways, I wondered slightly when exactly my home became the twilight zone.
"Uh, what brought this on?" I had to know.
Her heavy bosom rose on a large sigh. "Nothing brought this on. I just want you to enjoy your youth while you still can."
While I still can? Did she think I was going to die young or something? The kitchen was quiet for a moment as I tried to process this strange conversation.
She broke through the quietness first. "I'm not saying go out and find trouble, Alex. I just want you to experience life a bit more, you understand?"
I nodded yes, even though deep down I didn't really understand.
Why was it so important for me to get out more?
I happened to be content with my life….well for the most part.
Looking briefly at my mother, I realized how important this was to her.
Maybe she was afraid I would become a recluse.
Giving a tentative smile in her directions, I said. "I'll give it a shot mom."
I didn't know how I was going to do that but I would try.
Mama's face morphed into a blinding smile at the small concurrence before she turned her attention back to the dishes.
Hearing the clink and rattle of china and silverware, I took that as my queue to leave.
Hurrying out the door, I tossed a light goodbye in the direction of the living room as I passed.
I really didn't need to, I knew better than anyone that he was asleep in his recliner having stayed up all night with his precious TIVO.
Even with my mother's dictates that I find something 'fun' to do still ringing in my ears; I still stopped off at the library first. Reading was so much a part of me that without a book I would more than likely shrivel up and die.
The building of course, was ancient like most all the major structures in the area, its bricks bright red and the mortar slightly crumbly. It was a plain rectangle building with multiple windows and just two doors.
Those doors chimed slightly as visitors entered or left.
My entrance was announced like all the rest.
"Hey, Jam!" Looking up a small blonde girl called out to me from behind the old wooden desk.
I waved before hurrying over even as I cringed softly at the nickname. Trust your friends to pick the worse nick name for you.
"Busy day?" I asked quietly as I approached.
It was a library after all and a quiet atmosphere was a must.
Her painted red lips smiled slightly as she rolled her big eyes. "As if."
I felt a slight pang of envy, as I eyed one of my best friends.
Laurie Gail Scelfo would have been able to compare to any fictional character with her grass green eyes that were framed in the thickest and longest of lashes.
Her blonde hair was short (the opposite of mine being long.) but in a very stylish pageboy style. Her body was very curvaceous and her height was slight, she barely game up to my chest. If it weren't for those womanly curves people would easily think her a young girl rather than a grown woman.
To simplify it, Laurie was just outright beautiful and the exact opposite of me.
"Coming for another book?" She asked me in her usual chipper manner.
I nodded silently.
"We have the new V.C. Andrews book in. I've been holding it for you." She told me sweetly before running to a shelf behind her desk and grabbing the mentioned object.
"Thanks." I stated somewhat happily as she handed me the newest book.
V.C. Andrews had been a great writer and so was the gentleman who wrote in her stead, continuing on her unfinished books. I had been reading V.C. Andrews since I was nine and yes; I still continue to do so.
"Work been busy?" Laurie asked as she updated the library system.
"A bit. Mr. Boudreaux's filed nine claims on some cigars he insured." I mentioned offhandedly as I scanned the summary on the back of my new book.
Laurie's head jerked up from her computer, "He can do that?"
I smiled slightly. "He can try. I think he might end up being charged with arson if he does."
Soon we were both chuckling quietly and then a light bulb was turned on into my head.
I tried to look nonchalant as I asked, "What are your plans tonight?"
My question was obviously unexpected from the look of her uplifted eyebrow.
I was never one to deviate from my routine and everyone knew I wasn't one to go out on Saturday nights.
"Me, Brent, and Maddie are heading to The GateHouse."
The GateHouse was a major attraction in the October months being a haunted house filled with actors and major effects. Their job was to scare you and they do it well.
I had been once years ago during a class outing and had though it somewhat cool but had never found a reason to go again. It was a bit of a headache getting there since it was located in Baton Rouge and about a two hour ride from my little bitty, nothing exists here town. Was going worth it?
"Mind if I come too?" I asked quickly before rethinking the idea.
I didn't know if I really wanted to go or not, but I needed to do something.
Mama would expect it.
Laurie's face brightens at the thought of me playing tag alone and she didn't even try to curb her enthusiasm.
And so I had my first official night out set. I should be happy yet I was not.
Why was my heart suddenly beating a double tempo?
That evening I dressed with care because I wanted my mom to know it wasn't just any regular old day.
I wanted her to see me trying to 'have a life' as she had put it.
Instead of jeans with a t-shirt, I had settled on a nice teal colored sweeter with jeans. Yes I know it wasn't a very big step in dressing up but I didn't want to look out of place with Laurie.
I did put on a bit of makeup and let down my hair. It was always my norm to wear it up since there was so much of it.
I did have to say as I took in my appearance...that I did look a bit better than this morning. I could almost pass for a minor character in the book.
I was just throwing things in into a black purse when I saw the headlight's of Brent's vehicle.
"Your ride is here, Alex!" My mother's voice drifted up the stairs, even now still soft in its tone.
Hurrying down the stairwell, I through on some black shoes and grabbed my jean jacket.
"Love ya, bye!" I called out just as the phone rang. I knew, as I exited my home that they wouldn't have time to reply to my rushed farewell.
Surely, Mr. Vlarinski was on the phone even as I climbed into the shiny black SUV that belonged to Laurie's boyfriend, Brent Miller.
I gave a shy hello to all the passengers as the interior lights cut off with the closing of my door.
"Glad you could come, Jam!" Laurie gushed excitedly from her place in the front passenger seat.
"Yeah, the more the merrier" added Brent as he tossed me a bright white smile before tossing the vehicle into reverse.
Rubble flew out as he punched his foot to the gas petal and I began to wonder how he could even see out from under his unruly mop of auburn hair.
It hung so low in his face that one could barely make out the color of his hazel eyes. Surely it was a driving hazard.
As I buckled myself safely in, I looked towards Maddie who hadn't said a word yet and probably never would.
Maddie Robinson was always a serious girl. For the few years I knew her, she always kept a respectful distance from me for some odd reason.
I secretly think she didn't care for me being around. She had moved from another state, Tennessee I think, and hadn't been happy about that move from what I could tell.
She was always quiet, never saying anything unless absolutely necessary. Yet, she was vastly popular back in school. Most likely because of her looks.
So what if she was somewhat prickly in demeanor when she had the most beautiful curly black hair that came down to her lower back and exotic onyx eyes set in a perfect heart shaped face? Her personality wasn't what caught the boy's eyes. Her body was since it was also equally gorgeous, being model tall, thin and very fashionable and unlike my own dusky peach tan, hers was like a warm mocha. She always looked like she just left the beach.
I won't even pretend that I wasn't jealous.
Catching those dark eyes of her drifting slightly in my direction, I waved timidly to at least offer some sort of greeting.
She only offered me an indifferent nod in my direction before looking back out her darkened window.
Okay, I can take the hint.
I started to follow her lead and look out my own window but Laurie leaned around her seat before I could retreat into a private shell.
"You're going to have such fun, Jam. They changed all the attraction since last year."
"Great." I said weakly so she wouldn't think I was being a damper on the outing.
I did invite myself after all and had no reason to complain. So what if I might get a little scared?
Laurie seemed pleased with my answer and turned back into her own seat but not before leaning in for a quick smooch on Brent's lips.
Oh great, just what I need to make my day better.
Obviously from the gagging sounds coming from Maddie, she was in agreement with me.
We didn't need to see any PDA.
Leaning with my forehead against the cool glass window, I watched the multitude of people mull around the parking lot before heading to the big two story black building called The GateHouse
Looking on in silence, I wondered silently just what was in store for our group when we entered, having never been back in years.
If I recalled the place correctly, the attractions inside were pretty wicked.
The opening and closing of the SUV doors jerked me out of my daze and I quickly followed suit, still trying to figure out if I even wanted to enter the place.
Even as I mentally debated, I could hear the previous visitors screaming and laughing. It was the laughter that decided it for me.
I figure if they can find something to laugh about then it shouldn't be too bad. Right?
"That was the longest ride in history." Laurie said, approaching my still form.
I nodded, "Yeah, no wonder I never felt the need to come back."
"You haven't been here since that school trip?!" Brent exclaimed having approached silently.
I rolled my eyes knowing he would enjoy this.
"Your going to end up shitting yourself." He chuckled in glee before grabbing Laurie's arm and leading the way with me and the still silent Maddie following behind.
The closer we got to The GateHouse the more excited Brent and Laurie became. Maddie was still her shy strange self.
"Oh look, no line!" Brent oberseved out loud before running up to the door with Laurie still in tow to buy the tickets.
Trying not to become apprehensive, I began taking in deep breaths as I bought my own ticket and followed the two chipper ones into the haunted house.
I vaguely realized as I stepped into the darken interior that the song 'Thriller' was playing.
"You'll be okay, Alexandria." Maddie said quite unexpectedly behind me, her beautiful face for once soft.
Giving her a timid smile, I motioned for her to precede me. Call me chicken if you want.
Already, I could hear Brent and Laurie's screams and laughter echoing from the halls.
Flashing me one more look, Maddie started after them.
I resisted the urge to grab onto her arm and hold tight. I was a big girl and big girls could go through a haunted house echoing with screams without someone to hold her hand.
Taking one more deep breath, I picked up one foot and moved it forward, then again, and again. Before I knew it, I too was navigating the darkened hallways.
I admit I screamed bloody murder when a woman jumped out of the corner of a room looking like the character off The Ring but after that it got easier...and much better.
Soon I was screaming and laughing in enjoyment just like all the people before me.
Why had I been so worried? This place was wonderful and for the first time since that morning, I was glad I listened to my mother.
I had just crawled through a crematory tort (a fake one that seemed real with smoke and all) and had entered a cemetery maze still chortling in laughter and shrieking with fright, when for some reason my heart suddenly began to beat overtime.
Confused, I looked down at my hands and noticed they were shaking.
Once again I was scared..but why? I was almost through the tour and I had enjoyed almost every single minuet of it. Why was my heart beating so loudly and why was my blood pumping so fast?
I could hear screaming and laughter still ahead of me, no different than before and yet, I stayed routed to my spot. Numerous mausoleums and above ground tombstones surrounded me and yet I was more fearful of turning the next corner in the maze. Why was that?
Once, again I forced my feet to move as I took some deep breaths. Now, my legs were shaking too. A few more steps and I'd be around the corner.
I had to close my eyes to make myself do it and then...I was around the corner.
My heart seemed to be running a marathon and my body was still fearful. I had one more thing I had to do before I could ally my fears. I had to open my eyes.
Forcing the lids open, one after the other. It took me a second to focus with the dim light.
Once able, I noticed an old ragged looking couch with an equally old black and white television set before it. How ordinary, well almost.
On the couch their was the body of a man with his back to me. The only detail I could take in was that he had midnight black hair that curled slight around his nape. I had yet to figure out if he was real or a dummy.
I felt a moment of relief.
How odd. This is what I was afraid of?
I couldn't help myself, I giggled at my own stupidity and that was where I made my mistake.
The noise alerted the man (I guess he wasn't a dummy), making him whip his dark head around faster than I could blink until he was facing me.
I couldn't stop the gasp from escaping as I back peddled against the far wall.
You would think from my actions that he was hideous but no, he wasn't scary. That wasn't my problem.
The man was gorgeous. Simply, out right one of the handsomest men to have ever walked the planet. For all I could tell, he probably was a model. One thing was certain; he was out of place in the haunted house of creeps and ghouls. He didn't belong here.
Either way, I took my feel of his face. Yes, it was that great.
His dark hair was slightly falling in his eyes which were the color of mercury. The color was so strange, almost like looking into slivers of mirror. So liquidly, they seemed to form depths no one could possibly fathom. Framing those beautiful mirror like eyes were two perfectly black angled brows, which were currently hiked up high into his forehead. His chin was strong, showing he was a dominating type of man but his lips saved him from looking cruel. A perfect cupids bow almost, making him look so easily kissable. He was a very drool worthy specimen.
"Whoa." I managed to whisper hoarsely after finishing my perusal.
Meanwhile, he was still taking my own appearance in. I mentally cringed at that. There was no way I could hold a candle to his torch like glow.
His mouths moved softly and I had to strain to here what he was whispering, it was lucky that I had such good hearing.
Chills raced up my spine and down to my arms as I distinctively heard, "Alexandria."
My blood ran cold and once more my senses that the man had robbed from me returned.
I am not ashamed to admit that I ran. I ran from the stranger who knew my name and shouldn't.
I must issue a big THANK YOU to Freakierthanthou for being my new beta reader for this story.
Please read and review this story, seeing how I would like to know what everyone thinks!
Once more, thank you to freakierthanthou!