Chapter 7

"It makes perfect sense, And all at your expense. I'm taking full control, So you just sell your soul.."

Lennox had no clear destination as he made his way out of the cafeteria. He knew why he had blown up at Vicky, but he didn't know why he didn't even feel like he should apologize.

He scoffed. She was the Big Bad Wolf. She could handle it and besides. She'd deserved it. Lennox shook his head, knowing even if she did deserve it, that didn't make it right.

Lennox sighed as fresh damp air filled his lungs, as he made his way to the side parking lot of the school, where the teachers usually parked.

He sat down on the ground with his back against a wall, behind the front of a car, to keep his tall frame out of sight, lest someone happened to walk by, and returned to his thoughts.

He swallowed hard. I called her a bitch. He shook his head. The worst part was the tears he saw gathering in her eyes before she'd hardened and walked away. At that moment, he wished he knew where she had run off to so that he could apologize. Then his jaw firmed. No. Since the day they met, all he received from her was attitude and she'd been making it seem as if he were the bad guy. This was just rolling with the punches, he convinced himself.

He put his head in his hands as he rested his elbows on his knees. He knew why he was so volatile today. It was because of the package his father had sent him. He hadn't opened it the day it came, but eventually he worked up the nerve to do so. It had contained a sketchbook, with dozens of elaborate expressive drawings. They were designs and pictures around words like Sorry, Betrayal, Honor, Pride, and Love. There were some that said "Happy Birthday" with balloons and cakes and confetti. Then there had been the letter.

Lennox barely remembered his father. The last time he had physical contact with him he had been five. The last time he talked to him was through a glass wall, and he had been ten. Visiting him in prison had made Lennox so depressed though, that he decided not to go back. Later, his mother decided the same thing. Around the time she met Bruce.

Lennox swallowed hard again. He tried shifting his thoughts to something else. He didn't want to deal with that at that moment. But all he did was go from thinking about one person, to another. Victoriez.

He didn't know why, but he liked her. There was something about her that made him want to crack open her mind and know what she was all about. Everything about her. He was especially curious about this "hardcore female" routine she put on. What had started that? He knew there were other things to her, because he saw it every time he looked into her eyes.

There would be times where they would be hanging out with everyone, and she would glance at him and not even know that her gaze would soften for just a millisecond before she would turn away or put up a blank face.

She was careful. Lennox knew he wasn't the most open person and he knew too that he could be intense a lot of the time. Maybe because he was so observant and introspective, but what ever the reason he wanted to know Victoriez Nicks. And he wanted to know why he wanted to know her so much.

He should apologize. He shook his head. He didn't know what to do. And as he heard the bell ring signaling the end of lunch, he decided to take the rest of the day off. He needed to think some more.

[********]

The "gang" and I hadn't really spoken a lot the rest of the week.The bit of comfort we had begun feeling around each other had become slightly strained because of Lennox and me. Even Leira acted a little distant, and although we did still talk and hung out, it seemed she had more to say to the twins. Also, for some reason, of which I was grateful, Leira had decided not to bring up the episode with Lennox. I didn't know how to feel about our last argument.

And I could not figure out for the life of me what his deal was! I knew I acted a little more rough than normal with Lennox, but no more than any other day. And although I knew Lennox liked to bother me a lot, he would never snap at me the way he did on Monday. He had said I was a major bitch. Basically. Maybe more than I thought . Maybe more than he thought. As I replayed it back in my mind, my heart-felt heavier and my eyes started to burn, making me blink.

I shook my head in disgust. Why should I care about anything he had to say? He was just some guy who had a chip on his shoulder walking around trying to fix everyone else's problems instead of focusing on his own. Forget him.

I shrugged my shoulders. It was really all I could do. Stressing myself over something that hadn't or wasn't going to change wasn't helping anything. Especially if I wasn't willing to talk to the person who was the cause of that stress.

I stretched my arms and legs as I rolled out of bed. It was a blessed Saturday. I ran my hand over my hair as I glanced at the clock on my nightstand. It was just a little after eleven. I walked over to my dresser and checked the envelope my mom had left me that had spare cash inside. I had three hundred dollars left. I smiled as I made my way to the kitchen. The sun was shining bright through the windows. It was a beautiful and sunny day. Why not spend it shopping with the rest of mom's money? I had plenty of food left and I didn't think my mom would be gone much longer if I didn't.

So after I made myself a bowl of cereal, I hopped in the shower. Within thirty minutes , I was rushing out the door.

[********]

The mall was crowded. Which had been expected, seeing as it was Saturday. It had crossed my mind, but only after I was inside the mall, that I probably should have texted Leira to come. Deciding that it wasn't too late , I pulled out my phone to text Leira, Yo, meet me at the mall?

I glanced around, looking for a store that might interests me as I waited for Leira to text back.

A couple of minutes later, my phone went off. Sorry, can't :/ Watching Max.

I sighed. Max was Leira's six-year-old brother. Oh well, I thought, I'll just buy her something nice.

After roaming around in a couple of stores, my stomach began to rumble. As I walked towards the food courts, it was then that I remembered that I wasn't the biggest fan of shopping for hours.

As I sat down and bit into my Rally Burger, a voice had me pausing, "Well look-ey here. Fancy seeing you here!"

I turned wide eyes and cheeks full of burger towards the voice. It was Jessalyn. I smiled before I remembered I had food in my mouth. I gave her an apologetic look as I grabbed a napkin, chewed, and then swallowed.

"Hey Jess.", I smiled at her when I finished.

Exactly as she had done that time at the bar, she plopped in the seat across from me.

She smiled warmly, "Doing some shopping or do you just like the burgers here?"

I chuckled, "Both."

She nodded, "Cool." I slid my boat of fries in front of her, and raised my brow suggestively. "Thanks."

I nodded and bit into my burger again. We settled into a kind of comfortable but kind of awkward silence as we looked around and people-watched.

I was about to attempt the start-up of a conversation when I was interrupted by another voice coming from behind me, "Thanks for leaving me. I mean, it's one thing to ditch me but to ditch me to meet up with your secret girlfriend? How rude!"

I turned in shock at the sound of the voice. It was a girl. She was short and slim with wildly curly black hair that stopped just below her shoulders. Her green eyes narrowed on Jessalyn. When I turned around they switched to me. The girl dismissed me with the roll of her eyes, and focused on Jessalyn again, "Can we go?"

Jessalyn pursed her lips and crossed her legs haughtily, "I don't know why you're being so rude, but you can just plop your butt right here", Jessalyn pointed to the seat next to her, "or you can wait in the car." She smirked.

The girl rolled her eyes, and then decided. Instead of sitting in the seat Jessalyn had pointed out though, she sat in the one next to me.

I watched both girls have a staring match for a moment. Taking a sip of my soda, I muttered, "You two gotta be sisters."

I didn't think they heard me as they continued to stare at each other, but as soon as I thought that the girl stuck her tongue out at Jessalyn. Jess laughed.

I smiled, feeling a little awkward. It was obviously a "them" thing. I smiled at both and continued to eat. While I was munching on french fries, the girl stuck her hand out in front of me.

I leaned back so I could look at her face. She gave a nod and a lop-sided smile, "Hi. The name's Darby. I'm this hideous thing's hot younger sister."

I laughed at her humor and slapped hands with her, "Victoriez."

She swayed and smiled, "Hey, Vicky."

I laughed, "Hi.. Darbs? Dee? Bee?"

We laughed together and she shook her head, "Nah, it's just Darby.", she narrowed her eyes mock-threateningly, "You would be wise to remember that."

I laughed again and looked over at Jessalyn, who was looking at her sister shaking her head and smiling. I liked Darby instantly.

"Darby's gonna be staying with me for a semester, it looks like.", Jessalyn explained to me, "She's fifteen so she'll be a sophomore at that little high school you go to Vick." Jessalyn smiled as if the idea pleased her very much.

I nodded and looked over at Darby, "That's cool. It'll be fine.", I rolled my eyes as I took another sip of soda, "I doubt anyone's going to bother you."

Noticing how disappointed I seemed, Darby shook her fist in the air, "Darn. I was hoping someone would so bother me. Throw my books in the trash or push me down the stairs or something." She looked at me wide-eyed.

I laughed, "No I didn't mean it like that. It's just... ah, it's complicated." I shrugged, not really wanting to get into the full story.

Darby's lips twisted as she thought about that. I guess deciding to drop the subject, she shrugged her shoulders, "Okay."

I stayed in the mall another hour with Darby and Jessalyn before I decided to leave.

[*********]

I didn't particularly feel like going home, but I didn't feel like hanging out with anyone either. After I said my goodbyes to Jessalyn and Darby, I sat in my car, thinking. Where could I go? Faces flashed through my mind, and then I paused. I smiled to myself as I thought of my destination.

Within a week of my moving to Boulder, I'd met Leira. She had taken me around the neighborhood a little bit, and there was one place in particular that I fell in love with.

About an hour later I pulled over on the side of the road, staring up at a vast bunch of leafy, green trees. I could hear the flow of the water from where I stood. I tiptoed and slid my way through mud and leaves for about ten minutes before I was standing next to Boulder Creek.

Everything about the creek was soothing. From the sound of the flow, to the rustling of the trees. It was peaceful and calming. I particularly liked this area because it was one of the parts of the creek that were less frequented, due to the lack of docks or bridges.

It's funny, I thought as I layed down on my back on a large flat rock, that nestled into the ground close to the creek. I had been trying so hard to not make Boulder like Los Angeles. And although tables were turned, and the situations were completely different, I still felt... the same.

I still felt alone.

I still felt like no one understood.

I still felt like bursting into tears.

I still felt unhappy.

I snorted as I felt a tear tickle my ear. I swiped my cheek quickly and snorted again as I sat up. The story of the life of a teenager. I shook my head, stared into the soft flow of the creek. What was wrong with me? Why couldn't I ever be normal?

And I had no one to blame but myself. I put myself into these kinds of situations. Unhappy situations, that is. It was at that moment I understood that what I was doing would have never worked. The whole point was for me to put myself at a distance from everyone. The cool girl from Los Angeles, who acted as if she were better than everyone...

I shook the heavy feeling off as I took another deep breath. Everything I was thinking wasn't exactly true though, was it? I had Leira. She wasn't with me at the moment, but she was someone who cared about me. She was the only one who knew the real me. Of course, I hadn't told Leira everything. I mean she knew the plan, but she didn't know the "why" ...

I sighed as I took one last glance at the river. It did soothe me, up to a point. Now, all I felt was really tired. I stood and made my way through the trees and back to my car.

[**********]

i pulled up to the driveway of my house. I had been so preoccupied with singing along with the radio and grabbing my bags out the backseat that I didn't notice until I got out that the garage door was open. I stared at my mom's car, blinking, for ten whole seconds before I moved.

I felt five again as happiness and excitement filled my heart. I had really missed my mom. I knew I was probably going to be in a bit of trouble, especially if she had talked to Aunt Susan, but I would welcome even her scolding, I missed her so much. I hurried into the house, unconsciously letting my shopping bags fall next to the door.

"Mom?!". I yelled, looking around the house. I got no response. I furrowed my brows as I made my way to the living room. No signs of her.

I shrugged off my jacket as I retraced my steps out of the living room and started towards her bedroom.

"Mom?", I widened her door and that's when I saw her. "Mom!", I smiled brightly as I opened her door fully. And that's when I saw that she wasn't alone. My smile instantly dropped into a stunned, confused frown. "Mom?"

"Vicky! Baby, I missed you so much!", my mom ran to me and hugged me tightly. Although, I was still frowning I held on to her just as tight.

My voice was shaky, "I missed you too, mom. What's...?" My heartbeat began to accelerate. There was a guy in my mother's room. I openly gawked at him. He stood tall in jeans, a t-shirt, a brown sports jacket, and stubble all along his jaw.

And eyes that I had stared into for sixteen years.

I looked at my mom, as my throat constricted, "Mom?"

Tears began to well in my mom's eyes, as she looked over to the man and then back to me, "Victoriez... Honey.. "

The man began walking towards me. Strangely, panic began to fill me and I felt it bubbling up my throat. I hadn't realized I was shaking my head or that tears were welling in my eyes.

The man stopped as he stared at me, he was only about two feet away. His voice was more raspy, but it was still the voice that had been etched painfully into my brain. I closed my eyes as he said, "Victoriez, baby .. I'm home."

Before he had even finished his sentence though, I was unconscious.