Welcome to my new story, Luminescence. Originally, this was posted quite a while ago, under the name Mates. However, I realized the story was in dire need of edits (and at some points, complete revision), so I took it down and fixed it. I hope you all like it.
Chapter one: The Chance Encounter
The sun bathes southern California in golden light, tempered only barely by a light breeze that eases the heat of mid-summer. It was a welcome change from the near-hundred degree weather they'd been experiencing for the past week and a half, if only by a little bit. Normally, Luna would be all too happy to indulge in the weather and stroll through downtown LA without a care in the world. However, the only thing currently on her mind is finding her dog before she gets hurt.
"Lily! Here girl!" Luna called, cursing herself for not keeping a better eye on her. She had taken Lily out for a walk, and things had been going fine, up until the Golden Retriever must have seen a squirrel and shot off like a bullet, faster than she could stop her. Luna could have sworn she saw the end of her tail dart into this field, but it's so tall, now she isn't so sure. "Where could she be? I took my eyes off her for only a second.." She mumbled, worried.
Eventually, surrounded by the expanse of flora, Luna found herself lost, blearily staring at the endless sea of beautiful flowers that surrounded her as far as the eye could see. She stood there for seemingly forever, trying desperately to maybe spot her hyperactive retriever, but to no avail.
"You're aware you're on private property, right?" A deep baritone rumbled from behind her all of the sudden. She froze. Damnit. Of course Lily gets lost and she's left standing here like an idiot on someone's private property.. But, wait, Luna paused. How did he sneak up on her? This field is so noisy, she should have heard him behind her before he spoke.
"I'm so sorry! I was looking for my dog, who ran through here, and I got lost." She turned around and gasped softly, honestly not prepared for the sight in front of her.
A teenager, about seventeen, stood about five feet from her. He was tall; easily towering over her, with short, wavy blonde hair, green eyes, sun-kissed skin, and she couldn't help but notice the stranger's admittedly perfect, plump lips. He wore a dark blue tank top and jeans, staring down at her before his eyes widened.
It was bizarre. Luna has just met this guy, and yet she already felt like she had known him all her life. She couldn't put her finger on it for the life of her, but it was almost like the universe had custom made both of them for each other. Luna held back a snort.
How ridiculous, she remarked to herself. The universe picking out pairs.
Although, there was something in his eyes as he stared down at her. "Is that so?" He retorted, watching her closely. In front of him, Luna couldn't help but feel underdressed, and had to restrain herself from shifting or trying to hide her outfit. She felt so plain compared to him.
Meanwhile, the teen himself was having a hell of a time trying to think but found it hard to when he was currently cooking from the inside out. He looks up at the sky, his eyes squinting due to how bright the sun is, and curses the heat soaking into his dark shirt. And if he's burning up..
He hazards a glance back at the brunette, taking her jean shorts and dark purple t-shirt into account. If he's burning up, she must be goddamn sweltering.
"You're lookin' a bit flushed. I can get you a glass of water back at my friend's house, if ya want." He offered, wondering just how the hell she hasn't collapsed from heat stroke yet.
Luna frowned, taking a minute to further examine him. On its own, some random ass stranger asking her if she wants to go to his friend's house was pretty iffy, if she had to say so. And while he was definitely good-looking, she wasn't too keen on believing that hot meant innocent; after all, most psychopaths usually were very physically appealing. This guy could very well be certifiable.
The only consolation was the switchblade she had in her pocket - that she is legally permitted to have, thank you conceal and carry permit - but she doubted even that would really stop him if he really was crazy.
"Uh, that's nice an' all but I think I should keep looking for my dog." She replied, hoping that the guy wasn't a psycho-killer and she hadn't just pissed him off. He cocked his head to the side a bit, looking sort of lost, blinking.
"If it helps," He began, "I did happen to see a dog running through this field, back that way. A golden lab, yeah?" At Luna's distracted nod, he nodded to himself. "I only saw it for like a second, but I did see a lab run from the field into her front yard."
He turns and begins walking back where he came from. "And you can put that knife away, I'm not a psycho." She jumps, realizing that holy shit, she'd been gripping the handle of her knife in her pocket.
"How'd you know I have a knife on me?"
He turned around to stare at her with a knowing smirk. "You'd be crazy not to." And with this, he walked off in the direction he came, leaving her to stare at his back for an undefined length of time as she processed his words. Dumbfounded, Luna continued to stare as his figure got further away, unable to hold back her bafflement. What the hell is with this guy? Does he have eyes in the back of his head or something? How did he know she had her knife?
Cursing herself for potential stupidity, Luna trucks along after him, making sure to closely examine every inch of her environment, in the event of needing to backtrack to society when the guy ended up being a psychopath who lures unsuspecting young women to his "friend's house" to murder them.
It doesn't take long to get through the field, and soon they're walking up to a house of enormous proportions, the grounds obviously very well cared for. Without a care in the world, the blond walks right up to the front door and strolls inside, pausing by the door to let Luna in. She is slow to follow, honestly waiting to hear the click of a lock behind her and holds in a relieved sigh when no such sound comes.
He leads her into what appears to be the living room, where a girl's laughter can be heard, along with the cheerful yipping of a dog. And lo and behold, there Lily is, playing with a girl on the floor in front of an expensive looking couch.
"Leon! Welcome back, dude. Get lost?" A girl with long black hair and dark brown eyes teased, getting up off of the floor. She's moderately tan, with an athletic build, and she carries herself with an insane degree of confidence that commands the room. The guy, Leon, chuckles.
"No, I did not get lost. I went out to get some air," He explains, giving the girl a smirk.
The girl snorts, giving him a friendly punch to the shoulder. "Sure," She drawls. "You just don't wanna admit that I beat you in Call of Duty." Then, her eyes stray from her friend to Luna. "Who's this?" She asks bluntly but not unkindly.
Not knowing what else to do, Luna stood up straighter, trying to make herself appear more collected and not at all confused. "Hi, my name is Luna. I'm sorry that I trespassed on your property."
The girl stared at her for several agonizing seconds, before smirking with a gentle edge to it. "I'm Rose."
"I'm Casey! Nice to meet'cha!" A girl with wild hair dyed bubblegum pink and brown eyes cheerfully greeted, turning her attention away from Lily. She's fairly pale with just a hint of a tan, and she has a softer look to her than the first girl. As she speaks, she's still attentively scratching Lily's furry stomach, leaving the retriever a happy mess on the floor.
"I'm Ayla Mazur, but everyone calls me Ay. This is my house." Another girl, this time with crimson red hair and milky, chocolate eyes, introduces herself. She has a wicked tan, which makes her red hair seem all that much brighter. She is lying down on the long, beige, L-shaped couch with her head on the lap of a boy who looks almost identical to the one she came with, only his eyes are a dark blue instead of green. "This is my boyfriend, Jesse. He's Leon's twin brother." She says, pointing up at the boy. Grinning openly, the blue-eyed blond waves with the arm that isn't resting on Ayla's stomach.
"I feel like I've heard your name before." Luna says, although her voice is laced with a tinge of uncertainty. "Where have I heard that last name before?"
"My dad is the CEO to Claw & Fang Gaming Industries, that's probably where you've heard it from." Ayla helpfully supplied. Instantly, the clarification sparked in Luna's mind, reminding her with startling clarity that holy shit, Claw & Fang was responsible for creating the most recent highly rated RPG 'Dusk Destiny'. So far, it's received nothing but excellent reviews, and even Luna's younger brother has played it. According to him, it's one of the best he's ever played. Ayla's actually the daughter of the CEO?
Taking a discreet look around the massive, beautiful house, she can suddenly understand how the decorating can be so bougie. If Luna were a millionaire, she'd probably do the same.
Seeing the wide, bugged-out look Luna gave off as soon as she recognized the name, Ayla promptly burst out laughing, clutching her sides. "Oh my god, you should see your face!" She guffawed.
Feeling her face begin to flush from mild embarrassment, Luna rubs her arm awkwardly as the redhead's laughter resounds loudly throughout the room. Although thankfully, it seems as though introductions aren't done, the final individual saving Luna from further embarrassment.
"My name is Michaela. A pleasure to meet you." Off to the far right from Ayla, a girl with strawberry-blonde hair and gray eyes introduces herself, giving a small but polite smile. As she speaks, Luna can hear a slightest hint of a southern drawl in her voice. It's not enough to change how she speaks, but it's just enough to be heard, if you really listen. Her confidence is just as blinding as the other three girls, but unlike Casey, Ayla, and Rose, she is not as up-front about it. More blasé. Her confidence is cool, laid-back.
"So Luna~" Ayla purred, a wolfish grin on her lips. "How did'ya meet our baby Leon here?"
Having a bit of trouble remembering just why she had followed this guy she didn't even know to some unknown location, it took her a bit longer to recall what she had been doing prior to meeting him. "Oh! I was looking for my dog, Lily, because she had run off, and I found myself lost in that flower field. I hadn't realized I'd wandered onto private property until he startled me. Again, I'm really sorry I went on your private property." While Luna looked to her shoes, ashamed, she failed to notice the strange looks that the other occupants of the room shot each other.
Ayla laughs and gives her a bright, disarming smile. "It's fine, everyone makes mistakes. Like when my childhood nanny threatened to kill me and my sister!"
Thinking she was joking, Luna laughed, figuring there was some sort of punchline to that morbid statement. However, when no one else laughed, only sighed, she paused. "Wait, seriously?" At Ayla's nod, Luna felt herself growing faint. Just what circus show had she wandered into?
Grinning, Ayla launches into the harrowing tale with grandeur. "See, my parents didn't always live here in the States. They lived in Puerto Rico for a good while, and my sister and I were even born there. My dad's a very busy person, running his own company and all, and Mamma was always busy as well, so they hired an au pair to look after my sister and I when they couldn't be there. It hadn't been long, about two months, when Derya found her snooping in Mamma's jewelry box, holding one of her more expensive necklaces." She paused to swat at Rose's hand, which had been half-way into her bowl of cherries, before picking one up.
After plopping one in her mouth, she pulled the stem out, followed quickly by the pit. "When she screamed that she'd kill us, Derya grabbed me and locked the both of us in the bathroom with the home phone as she dialed Baba. He eventually picked up on the sixth or so ring, and Derya had to explain through tears that the au pair needed to be fired, and I don't doubt that Baba could hear the crazy bitch scream that she'd skin four-year-old Derya and a nine-month-old me. Baba came home immediately, threatened the au pair with legal action, and she fled, but not after he had her pat-checked, which revealed three of his best watches, an heirloom ring that had been passed down through his family, and Mamma's necklace. Needless to say, she was fired, and I think she went to prison too. Last I heard, she got stabbed in her cell by her bunkmate." Ayla shrugged, not seeming put off by the fact that her nanny had tried to murder her and her sister.
"Man," Casey complained, "Why do you always have the best stories?" Luna was baffled that the girls could just gloss over the fact that Ayla discussed her former nanny threatening to kill her and her sister so easily.
"Because I was born in Puerto Rico, that's why." The redhead justified, turning to give Rose, who had apparently managed to successfully snatch a cherry, the deadliest glare she could muster. Sitting up, she grabs a Cosmopolitan magazine off the coffee table and rolls it up, before whapping Rose on the head like a dog. "Bad Rose!" She chastised, rolling her eyes as Rose mockingly woofed.
Over the next hour, Luna integrated herself into the group, as though she'd known them her entire life. She found that Ayla was one hell of a snarker, always ready with a witty comeback, and never afraid to speak her mind. Casey is energetic and quick to smile, a genuinely sweet girl. Rose is a tad like Ayla, in where she never hesitates to tell you what she's thinking, but her boyfriend, Dylan, is usually quick to retort. He seems to be the one that smooths over any situation she may get herself into. Michaela isn't like the other girls, she's polite and otherwise reserved, leaving Luna to idly wonder just how the blonde became the friend of the three nutcases known as Ayla, Rose, and Casey.
Ayla's boyfriend, Jesse, is just as accustomed to Ayla's behavior as Dylan is to Rose's, and seems to pendulum swing between utterly ignoring her outrageous antics and joining in, further encouraging her.
The group ended up talking for hours, even Luna feeling like she'd known them all for years, as strange as that sounded. It's so weird, she knew, because she'd never met them until today, but it almost felt like she already had such a deep bond with them, one she'd never be able to explain.
It was only until Rose commented on it that Luna noticed just how late it was. "Hey, Luna, it's getting pretty late. Maybe you should stay the night." Hearing the worried note in Rose's voice, Luna takes a quick glance at the clock, finding the clock displaying the time as a shocking eleven-thirty pm. From where she'd been playfully attempting to choke Rose, Ayla nodded.
"Yeah, I think Rose's right. This neighborhood is fine and all, but once you leave it, people start getting weird. You can run into some serious freaks, and don't even get me started on how many times I've almost gotten mugged. You should stay the night and go home tomorrow when it's light out."
Ayla's logic is infallible, Luna has to admit. She isn't familiar with the area, and she definitely isn't familiar with the people, so it's not a smart idea to be out late at night. "Alright," She concedes. "I'm gonna at least text my mom and let her know." She informs them.
With a nod, Ayla gets up off the couch. "Of course. I'll go and find a pair of pajamas for you, I think we're the same size." She said before bounding up the white marble steps. While Luna texted her mom and let her know the situation, Ayla rummaged through her room and came back down soon enough with a purple tank top and white sleep shorts with purple ties.
"You can use the bathroom down here to change. Just go down the hallway, past the kitchen and open the second door on the left." The redhead instructed. Nodding, Luna rose to her feet and followed the redhead's instructions to the correct room, shutting the door behind her and flicking on the light. It didn't take her long to get changed, even though she did stop to use the toilet briefly, but as soon as she was done, she washed her hands and dried them off before opening the door.
She's just about to walk past the kitchen when she hears someone, speaking quietly. "Are you certain?" Hearing Ayla's tentative question, Luna pauses and hovers at the wall, wondering who she's talking to.
"Are you doubting what I said?" Leon lowly, sounding slightly annoyed, intoned. Luna's eyebrows furrowed in confusion. What are they talking about? True, she shouldn't be eavesdropping, and she definitely feels bad about it, but the conversation is too interesting to leave it.
"I stand behind your decision, Leon." Ayla responded with a bit of defense in her tone. Then, the defensive note falls as she adds her next thoughts. "It's just the fallout I'm worried about. Jesse and I are fine with it, and apparently so are the others, but.."
"We all know that not everyone in our community feels the same as we do, regarding this topic." Jesse's concerned voice rumbles. He seems equally as troubled as Ayla is, although about what, Luna isn't quite sure.
"I know that, and believe me, I'm worried too." Leon states. "But I'm not going to let their idiotic backwards ways control how I live my life. I appreciate you both, and everyone in our group for standing behind my life and my choices."
"Of course, Leon. You know we're always here for you. Not just because of who you are in the community, because of the kind of person you are. That's why we follow you."
"I don't really have a choice in it," Jesse joked, a grin in his tone. "Twin brother and all that." A light scoff and a muffled thump led Luna to believe that Ayla had playfully smacked her boyfriend's arm.
"Stop that, Jesse. Leon's a saint for dealing with all of your shit." The redhead chides, though the humored tone in her voice makes Luna think she's smiling. Figuring this is a good time to make her appearance, Luna shuts the bathroom door that she'd left ajar, effectively cutting off all of their conversation. She pauses for barely a second before making her way past the kitchen, pretending to get surprised at seeing them there.
"Oh!" The brunette gasped lightly, making it seem like she'd actually been a bit scared. In response, Leon and Ayla chuckle.
"Sorry, Luna. Did we scare you?" Ayla asked. "I was in the middle of getting something to drink and these two weirdos accosted me." She explained, blaming the two boys behind her who gave her identical pouts.
"Ayla, that's mean. Blaming us," Jesse pouted, giving her blue puppy-dog eyes.
"Yeah," Leon agreed. "I think you need to be punished...by the tickle monster!" With his words as the catalyst, Jesse dove in and began mercilessly tickling his poor girlfriend who shrieked and jerked this way and that, trying desperately to escape the attack.
"Luna!" She gasped playfully, still twisting in Jesse's arms. "Save yourself! Don't let my sacrifice be in vain!" The redhead dramatically wailed. Then, she dramatically ceased all motion, dropping limply into her boyfriend's arms, making him tighten his grip so she wouldn't fall.
"Ayla, I'll exact my revenge on these monsters for taking you from me!" Luna dramatically cried and ran out of the kitchen, Leon on her heels. She sped right into the living room, darting around everyone to hide behind Michaela.
"Fee-fi-fo-fum, I smell the blood of a beautiful woman!" Leon growled, theatrically stalking into the room while loudly sniffing the air. Casey immediately burst out laughing seeing this, and when she fell over she accidentally knocked over a bowl of popcorn. While Leon loudly sniffed around the room, 'searching' for Luna, Jesse came in the room with Ayla thrown over his shoulder, the redhead still playing dead, hanging limply in his grip.
Shenanigans of the same breed followed until everyone was well and truly tuckered out. In the end, they all wound up passing out in the living room, their energy temporarily spent from their activities.
The next morning though, they'd have to explain to Ayla's mother why the living room was such a complete wreck.
So, that's it for chapter one of Luminescence. Why don't you let me know what you think in the reviews? I can only get better with commentary ;P