“Damn it... Why can't I get this freaking dream out of my head?” She stormed around the cluttered room. The dream had started coming with greater frequency. Almost every single night since vacation began, it had haunted her sleep. The dream terrified her out of her mind, except for the soft voice that spoke to her and the blue eyes that promised safety. Exhaustion called and she fell back upon the bed.
Random, her best friend and German Shepherd who was seldom far from her side, whined at her shout. He sat up on her bed and nuzzled her chin, giving her comfort the only way he knew how.
She squeezed her eyes closed, but the dream still played out in living Technicolor.
The air filled with a strange odor like ozone after a thunderstorm. Smoky fog covered her feet. She shivered as coldness seeped into her chilled flesh. Her bones ached with the frigid chill. A hillside filled her vision. Rena climbed through the prickly grass, bending down more than once to pull the awful stuff away from her ankles. Stiff, spiky flower heads of blue, yellow, and orange poked above the rolling fog, and she let her fingers drift through the sea of colors. An icy tingle raced up her arm and she pulled her hand back. Where the flowers had touched, her flesh was tender.
“Where am I?” Rena wondered aloud. The darkness reached out for her. Tears sprung fresh to her eyes. When the darkness touched her, despair followed. It would try to take her again.
It was just a feeling she had, right? There wasn't anything to be afraid of in the dark. It was just like the day except without the light. She tried to reassure herself, but it didn't work, just like it didn't when she was a kid. The nightmare was back, worse than before.
She stretched out her five-foot-three-inch length sideways on her bed, wrapping her arms around Random's furry neck. This was her last day of freedom, as tonight her room would become shared space with her sister, Brea. Rena detested the idea of losing her privacy, but it would happen anyway. Throughout all of her seventeen years she had felt claustrophobic, hemmed in on all sides.
The dog could sense Rena's turmoil. He gently lapped her hand.
Brea, Rena's younger sister by ten minutes, thrived in the atmosphere of the summer holidays and the unending stream of visitors. The crush of the July celebration, family gatherings, shopping, summers spent on the shores of the local beach. Rena was too much like their father, hiding with his face in a book or in Rena's case, her head in a game.
Though twins, Rena and Brea couldn't be more different. Brea was tall, almost statuesque. Thick, blonde hair fell in waves to her shoulders. She curved in all the right places, had big chocolate brown eyes, and their mother's olive complexion meant no sunburns for her. Full red lips rounded out Brea's good looks and had broken the heart of more than one boy. Rena was unbearably short in comparison; her head barely met Brea's shoulders. Her wild red curls demanded to be free, and she couldn't deny that her emerald green eyes would spark with her temper. Freckles tended to sprinkle her pale skin. Even their personalities were polar opposites. Brea was boisterous, sure of her social status. Rena was without any social status at all.
She'd never fit into Brea's world, and she didn't want to.
Now she stared in disdain at the roll-a-way bed she'd shoved into the corner, her privacy about to evaporate. The pounding on the door only reinforced Rena's glum thoughts.
Rena turned up her iPod, blasting Panic in the Disco into her ears in an attempt to drown out her sister's drumming on her door. When that didn't work, she scowled, pulled the headphones away, and booted up Skyrim in her effort to avoid Brea's demand for attention.
Finally, Brea burst into the room without invitation, her eyes bright and hands waving in excitement.
“Do you have to be so loud?” Rena asked as her door bounced off the wall.
Brea ignored her. As she walked across the room, the volume decreased. “You'll never guess who just walked in! Guess! Guess! Guess!” Brea twirled around and fell onto the bed, pillows cushioning her fall.
Rena imitated her sister's breathy wonder. “Rob Pattinson... Daniel Radcliffe... Joe Jonas...?” She gasped, and her hand flew to cover her mouth. “Are we related?” She cocked an eyebrow in disbelief at her sister. “Please, stop me if I get close.” Rena grinned and turned back to her video game, her character brandishing a sword with a roar.
“Nooo...! Don't be silly!” Brea huffed. “You don't have to be so difficult.” Her bubbling excitement exploded throughout the room with the force of a small tidal wave. She sprang from the bed and danced across the floor again. “Omigosh, you're not going to believe it!” she squealed, happiness shining in her eyes.
“So, who's here?” Rena couldn't hide the curiosity that crept into her voice. She reached out and lowered the volume further, until Skyrim whispered in the background. She knew that only one creature could capture Brea's attention so completely, most probably a male.
“Aunt Debbie, Uncle Ron, and bratty Eugene,” Brea went on, “he's such a pain... and so nasty,” she shuddered, “but guess who they brought with them? Guess! Guess!” She never gave Rena a chance. “The Dean of their department is on sabbatical, and his son is staying with them over the summer!” She did a pirouette before falling back down onto the bed. “Petrov DeForest,” she said with reverence, gazing dreamily at the ceiling, “and Rena, you won't believe it, but he's amazing! Aunt Deb said he's staying with them so he can start college in the fall, but that gives him more time with us.”
Rena rolled her eyes as she increased the video game's volume. “Have fun Brea,” she shouted over the racket, ignoring her sister and the news that the relative invasion had begun. She would never begrudge her mother's time with her only sister, or the injection of testosterone in a house flooded with female hormones, but she didn't have to like it. Her father and her uncle Ron were friends from way back, at least to their college days. Pretty soon it would be all fishing trips and barbeques.
“He's been stuck with creepy Eugene all summer, but they're here now, and he's all ours!” Brea buzzed, almost quivering, and shot to her feet.
“No, he's all yours, and Eugene's not that creepy.” Rena ignored the rest of her sister's words, slipping the headphones back into place.
“He's gorgeous... dark wavy hair, big beautiful sapphire blue eyes.” She faked a swoon, once again landing on the bed, but quickly sitting back up. When Rena didn't respond, Brea pulled the headphones away.
“You gotta see him! But, remember, I saw him first!” She dragged Rena to her feet.
The problem with Brea was that she never had a shortage of boyfriends, and another stupid jock was so not worth Rena's time.
“Oh, you saw him first all right. Go for it; I've had my fill.” Rena tugged her hand from
Brea's clutch. “It's very okay with me. Besides, I don't want to deal with relatives or their friends, but you go ahead, have fun.” Rena's hands found the middle of Brea's back, prodding her toward the door. Guys were the last thing on Rena's mind. She remembered the humiliation of being ditched. Her first and only date had left with Brea instead.
“Oh, honestly! Just come and meet him, then you can come back here to brood and hide. Besides, he's already asked about y-o-u.” Brea crowed as she sucked in another breath. “Isn't it driving you crazy? Knowing a strange boy has asked about you? Come on, you're not still mad about Bobby?” Brea squeezed her eyes closed. “It's not my fault he asked me to go out with him.”
Rena shook her head in disbelief. How could Brea not see how wrong that was? “Oh, no, not me, I'm not mad at all.” She reached down, stroking Random's soft fur. “Gee-sus, Brea! He dumped me in the living room, and you left with him!” It had all been a ploy to get close to Brea. He was a creep-a-zoid from the outer reaches of Tamriel. Rena tried to imagine him as one of the goons on Skyrim.
Then, she stopped cold, almost dropping the game controller. “What do you mean he asked about me? Why would he think about me? I don't know him.” Rena wanted to strangle Brea. Now it was going to drive her crazy.
“Come on Ree, say you're not mad.” Brea fluttered her pretty blonde eyelashes. “Come on, I'd do it for you.” She pushed out her bottom lip in a pout, giving Rena her best imitation of puppy dog eyes.
Rena snorted a laugh, covering her mouth with her hands. “You're delusional Brea.”
“Oh, come on, you know you have got to meet this guy! It could be your destiny!” Brea breathed with wonder as she wheedled. “Besides, Mom said to come get you, to introduce you to our company. Want me to go back and tell her you said no?” Her toe started to tap an annoying beat.
Rena squeezed her eyes closed. “Okay, all right, don't get your panties in a bunch.” She eyed Brea, and thought, the sooner I get it over with the better. “Fine, I'll come meet your Petrov whatever, but don't say I didn't do you any favors.” Rena heaved a sigh, dragging her feet as she followed her sister out of the room, Random close to her side.
Brea hurried ahead to the living room where the others waited. When Rena finally made her way down the hall, dog quivering at her side, Brea snatched up her hand.
“Ree, meet Petrov, Petrov, my sister Rena,” Brea gushed as she released Rena's hand to grab Petrov's.
Rena could only stand and stare.
His sapphire gaze faded to an icy blue as she became aware of his critical appraisal, and she felt like a bug on display. His intense focus made her squirm. Rena felt Random's body close to hers, shaking. She brushed a hand through his silky fur.
“Nice to meet you, Petrov. Hope you're having a good time.”
When he spoke, her eyes were drawn to his lips which almost twitched into a smile.
“Nice to meet you too, Rena.” His voice gave her shivers of deja vu. Had they met before? Then he dropped down on a knee. “Hiya boy.” He held out a hand and Random sniffed it, before he rubbed the dog's furry head. Random's tail thumped and he lapped the strange boy's hand. Traitor.
Petrov stood. “I was thinking of taking a walk. Would you like to join me?”Once more, those arresting blue eyes studied her. But, before Rena could reply Brea burst out, “I'd love to!”
Still, Petrov's demanding gaze held Rena's. He seemed magnetic, holding some kind of power over her. The feeling of being trapped came again.
But Brea was lost in her own world, unaware of his attention on Rena. When she tugged his arm, Petrov broke eye contact long enough to lean down to hear Brea's whisperings. He laughed at whatever she was saying. Brea was tall, but Petrov was taller, over six feet with muscles that rippled beneath the thin fabric of his black t-shirt.
Before they left the house, he once again sought Rena out, capturing her eyes with a promise, but a promise of what? And why?
Buy Link :)