Title: Alive [Chapter Two]
Summary: Sage Alvi’s whole world turned upside-down when she lost her mother to cancer. Now forced to live with a father she never knew, she’s trying to navigate her way through a new school. To make things worse, her half-siblings hate her and she’s being bullied by the cool crowd.
They say high school is hard, but this is just ridiculous.
It took Sage a few weeks to start adjusting to her new life and surroundings. While not any closer to the Woods than before, she had learned to tolerate them and had even exchanged friendly conversations with Theo – which Cat was not the least bit pleased about if her scornful glances were any indication.
Sage also had to admit she had been too quick to judge the students at Belleville. Although Cat and her group of friends were still obnoxious, not everyone was as narrow-minded as them. There was Tanya, who was one of the smartest students in the school and had quite a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, and Angela who was a film geek and had aspirations to be a famous director one day. David, who was probably one of the most beautiful people she had ever met, was gay and often picked on because of it but he never let it affect him. At first Sage had been determined to be alone and not make any friends (she didn’t intend to stick around in Los Angeles longer than necessary), but Tanya’s increasing stubbornness in forging a friendship with her finally broke down her resolve. Grateful to be part of Tanya’s group, she actually looked forward to school some days.
Other days she wanted to run and leave everything behind, and it was usually because of Aidan. She had heard through the grapevine the reason he seemed to really have it out for her had more to do with reconciling with Cat than actual displeasure with her. They had always been on-again, off-again and because their recent status was off he was trying to get back into Cat’s good graces. Whatever his reasons, he was an absolute jackass and Sage hated him in a way she had never despised anyone before. He tried her patience a lot, especially the days when she would come home and find him there as well, hanging out with Theo. Apparently Aidan was the only child of a Hollywood producer and an opera singer but Sage didn’t know when he actually saw them since he seemed to stay with the Woods more often than not.
As usual, he was here tonight. At least he and Theo were busy outside, playing basketball.
Sage was in the process of making herself a sandwich when she glanced up to find Aidan leaning against the doorframe. He was still wearing the school uniform, disheveled as it was, and watching her with the usual smirk in place. Oh how she wanted to slap that smile off his face.
“Maid work, huh? I see you’ve found your calling.”
“You obviously haven’t.”
“If I were you, I’d give up on being an athlete.”
“Because you’re such an expert on the subject?”
“No, because you don’t have what it takes.”
“And what would that be?”
“Talent, skill, discipline. Then again, I guess you don’t need to worry about all that. You always have your daddy’s trust fund to fall back on, right?”
His jaw clenched, making her wonder if her words touched a nerve with him. Normally she would feel guilty about being such a bitch to someone but this was Aidan. As far as she was concerned, he deserved far worse than what she was dishing out.
She grabbed her plate of sandwich, wondering if he would give her a hard time when she had to walk past him to leave the kitchen. As expected he reached out to grab the doorframe, his arm blocking her path. Leveling him with a hostile stare, she stared up at him. He was tall, over six feet to her five feet three inches, and that automatically made her feel defensive. If he was trying to intimidate her, it was working – not that she would ever admit it. “Let me go,” she ordered.
The smirk on his face dissolved and he stared at her intently, his hazel eyes spewing venom. “You think you know me, Sage? You don’t. You don’t know anything about me.”
“I know you’re insecure and acting like an asshole just to impress someone. Even you have to admit that’s pathetic.” His piercing glare was nerve-wracking but she refused to look away, knowing he would use any sign of weakness to taunt her further. “Get out of my way.” She wasn’t sure what to expect next but relief surged through her when he lowered his arm a second later. With her head held high, and her heart pounding in her chest, she walked away.
Sage shut the door behind her, and entered the security code in the alarm panel. As it was a Saturday night, everyone was out. She always liked it when the house was empty because no one was judging her, or throwing daggers at her with their eyes (as Stacey often did), and she felt free to be herself.
Her stomach growled, and she headed to the kitchen to grab something to eat. She was inspecting the contents of the fridge when the phone started ringing. She ignored it at first, figuring they would reach whoever they needed on their cell, but as it kept ringing continuously, she finally answered it. “Hello?”
“Is Cat home?”
It was Aidan, just her luck.
“Obviously not or she would have answered already.”
“Where is she?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have a GPS on her. Try her cell.”
“No shit, Sherlock. I already did, she’s not picking up.”
“Maybe she’s out on a date and doesn’t want to be bothered by you.”
“I need to talk to her.”
The fact Aidan didn’t rise to her taunts was concerning enough, but the desperation in his voice was doubly so. She was used to him sounding cocky and smug, not frantic like he was now. “Why don’t you come over and wait here? I’m sure she’ll be home soon.”
“I’ll be there in five,” he said and hung up.
Shoot. She was hoping he would turn down her offer. What the hell was she thinking? It was too late to change her mind, considering he would be here soon. Almost on cue the bell rang followed by a knock on the door. She took a deep breath and went to answer it.
Aidan was waiting for her on the porch, his hair messy and free of its usual gel, t-shirt half-tucked into a pair of scuffed jeans. The black leather jacket he was holding was the only article of clothing that still looked relatively clean. Before she could say anything, he stepped inside.
Aidan never just walked, he swaggered, his every step reflective of his superior attitude and designed to bring attention to his good looks. Tonight, however, there was stiffness in his gait. He forged ahead of her, dragging his jacket on the floor. She closed the door and followed behind him, wondering if he hurt his back.
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked, after noticing him wince with pain when he tried, and failed, to sit down.
“None of your fucking business.”
“It will be if you pass out in front of me.”
“Your concern is touching.”
“Don’t mistake self-preservation for concern.”
“Why don’t you go back to the servant’s quarters and leave me the fuck alone?” He waved her away, as if to dismiss her.
God, she hated him, and now she was angry at herself for inviting him to come over in the first place. No wonder he was being an ass, he probably figured he could walk all over her because she’d been nice to him. She stormed out of the den and exited the house through the back door.
Shortly after, back in the comfort of the pool house, she changed into her pyjamas before climbing into bed. When she tried to sleep, however, all she could think about was how hungry she was. She hadn’t eaten anything in the last few hours, just to see if she could go on a diet if she really needed to, but apparently she lacked the will power to starve herself.
In the last few weeks Sage had come to realise starving was simply a way of life for the girls in her school. Even Tanya, who was beautiful and naturally slim, was obsessed about her figure and subscribed to all kinds of crazy, weird diet plans in order to lose weight. Sage had always considered herself healthy and of normal weight, but she couldn’t deny she was curvier than a lot of her peers. Some days she did feel insecure about it but not enough to start binging or starving or even dieting. Oh well. So she was never going to be a skinny blonde. Someone had to fill the average brunette quota in her school.
Throwing the covers aside, she slipped out of bed and went outside. Once inside the main house, she was making her way to the kitchen when the sound of a frustrated groan stopped her in her tracks. It was Aidan. She contemplated staying put, but after she heard him cry out again she couldn’t ignore his voice. Reluctantly she walked to the bathroom and found him clad in his jeans, facing away from her. She froze, catching sight of his naked back; it was covered in bruises and cuts, some of the wounds still bloody. Like someone had beaten, maybe even whipped him.
“What? Am I turning you on?”
He met her gaze in the mirror. Despite his angry expression, his voice lacked its usual vitriol; she realised he was embarrassed. “Don’t flatter yourself, Aidan,” she said is a brisk tone. Being hostile to him was much easier than showing compassion, and she had a feeling he would appreciate it more.
“A strip show from me is going to cost you. I hope you have a stack of hundreds.”
“No, but I do have a first aid kit in my room. I’ll even help you with your back as long as you stay quiet and don’t irritate me.”
He hesitated for a second, as if contemplating the sincerity of her offer. Finally he gestured zipping his mouth shut, and she had to force herself not to smile at his dramatics. “I’ll be back in a sec.”
After grabbing the first aid kit, she returned to the bathroom. His eyes followed her reflection in the mirror until she came to a stop behind him. He was no longer watching her, and she breathed a sigh of relief; when he was studying her intently, without a hint of sneer, smirk or smile on his face, there was something disturbing about being the focus of his attention.
With a gentle touch, she cleaned his wounds and applied the bandages. He still winced once in a while, and her stomach clenched with anxiety just thinking about the pain he was in. After finishing, she shifted back to give him space to turn. “All done.” He concentrated on her again, and that awkward tension returned between them. Avoiding his gaze, she stepped around him to wash her hands. “Try not to get in anymore trouble,” she said before rushing out of the bathroom.
Sage was heating up leftover pizza when Aidan popped into the kitchen, wearing one of Theo’s shirts. He didn’t look very pleased to find her in there, which was somewhat comforting; at least she wasn’t the only one who felt strange about the whole night.
“Don’t tell anyone about this,” he said. He appeared unusually nervous as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
“Why would I? You’re the last person I want to talk about.”
“And don’t start thinking we’re friends or something. We’re not.”
“As far as I’m concerned, you’re still an asshole.”
“Good. Keep it that way.”
She grabbed the plate from the microwave and was about to leave when he spoke up again.
“Thanks for… everything.”
Gratitude did not suit him; she much preferred it when he was being obnoxious. “Whatever,” she replied without bothering to look at him and exited the main house.
Later that night she was lying awake in bed, unable to sleep, when her thoughts turned to Aidan. She wondered why his back was covered with faded scars, if he’d been involved in a fight. She hadn’t seen any bruises on his hands which led her to think he hadn’t defended himself, but he wasn’t the type of guy that didn’t fight back. If anything, he was always the aggressive one, instigating confrontations. After several minutes of wracking her brain trying to come up with a plausible explanation, she forced herself to stop thinking about him. Whatever he was involved in, she didn’t want to be a part of it. At all. And she was sure he preferred that as well.
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.
A/N – If all goes according to plan, this will be the second novel I publish 🙂 I wrote this five years ago and I think a lot of the problems Sage faces, unfortunately, is very relevant today. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to drop me a comment.