Hunted

Leo is an outcast. He was already not popular after standing up the most popular girl in the school but ever since he had a seizure at school everyone is freaked out. Rolling into school late, the school receptionist - his auntie - gives him the task of looking after the new girl, Cassie.

Cassie is anything but ordinary. She is a witch but after an accident which resulted in her mum falling into a comma she has transferred to her dad's home town and Priory High School. Cassie continues to practice without her mum's guidance which can only result in trouble.

Due to her natural good looks she attracts the bitter dislike of the jealous girls and Leo becomes the only friendly face. Despite his instinct to push her away, she is the only one that could ever understand his unusual gift; a gift that could save Cassie's life from a spell cast in anger.

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2. Cassie

 

Chapter 2 (Cassie)

        My legs stuck to the leather seats of the car.  I never quite understood why these were considered luxurious.  My best friend Lily said leather seats were for nymphomaniacs because they are ‘wipe clean’.  That thought made me cringe.  My dad wore a grey suit even though today he was not working.    His idea of casual was not wearing a tie.  He did work hard and I was sure if I was not here he probably would be at the office.  His round belly almost touched the steering wheel as a constant reminder of his bad habits.  He often ate fast food, bought microwave meals and never had time for exercise. 

        I was only wearing a summer dress but still I was hot and sweaty.  I had tied my long dark hair up in a high ponytail but the wispy bits that escaped stuck to my neck.  It was the last week of the summer holidays.  My dad turned down the familiar road, featuring a row of Victorian two storey houses.  He parked two doors down from his own house as there wasn‘t any space out the front of his own property.  “Sorry Cassie, this is as close as I can get, but I’ll give you a hand with the cases”

        “Thanks dad.” 

        We started dragging the cases out of the car.  Rosie from next door came out to be nosey.   “Oh, this must be Cassandra?”  She said beaming, “You should visit more often, I can’t remember the last time you came, you must have been this high.”  She held her hand up near her knee.

        “I visited my dad for Easter!”  I corrected her.  It was a long time since I had been knee high and I didn’t like Rosie.  She was a gossip and a trouble maker.  I was sure she was trying to suggest that I don’t visit my dad enough.  It was a sore subject.  My dad had always been asking my mum to allow more visits.  My life was in Liverpool.  My friends, my school, my mum all were there.  That was all about to change. 

            The accident had come as a blessing in disguise for my dad.  He now got his wish.  Not that he had ever wished my mum  any harm but now we would be spending a lot more time together.  This was my new home now, so visits would be a thing of the past.  I dragged my suitcase and a box of photos past Rosie.

        ‘You’ve brought a lot.’  Rosie observed.

        My dad ignored her and carried a large box of my belongings towards the front of his house.  He had already given me my new door key.  It felt symbolic as I unlocked the door to my new home; a new beginning.  I went in.  Dad headed back to the car to get the last of my stuff.  A lot of things had been packed up and put in storage in case the old home had to be sold. 

        Dad’s house was small house but big enough for both of us.   Dad slept in the bedroom at the front of the house.   His room was smaller than mine but ever since I was a little girl he had insisted, worried that I might be woken up by the traffic.  The bigger bedroom at the back of the house looked out over the garden.  

            I never remembered my mum and dad together.  Obviously it happened otherwise I wouldn't exist but there isn’t even a picture of them together... not that I know of.  I got the feeling that I was a mistake.  I’m not saying I wasn’t loved because they both did.  It was just when I asked questions they seemed to know nothing about each other and I could find no evidence of them ever spending time together.  I was all they had in common.  They were two very different people.

        My dad had always been in trouble as a young lad.  He had a lot of pictures of him with a lot of other girls.  He was in a band and never had a steady girlfriend. His youth represented everything he didn't want me to find in a boyfriend.  He had been so reckless he hadn't even known I’d been born.  In his defence though my mum was at the time working in Spain.  She wrote him a letter to let him know.  My dad told me that letter changed his life.  My mum had told him in the letter that she was writing as she felt he had a right to know but didn't need any of his help. 

        My dad couldn’t support her anyway.  He had no job and no qualifications.  He couldn’t even afford a plane ticket to come and see me.  My dad applied to university as a ‘mature student’ and for the first time in his life took something seriously.  He studied hard and eventually graduated with a law degree.  Those three years proved to my mum that he could be responsible and she arranged for us to meet for the first time.  By then I was almost 4 years old. 

        My mum had on the other hand always studied hard at school.  Her results ranged in grades from A* to B.  She had always been proud of that and encouraged me to aspire to the same standard.  I looked most like my mum.  We had the same dark hair, blue eyes and skin that tanned easily. 

        My mum eloped to Spain and never used her good grades for her career.  After school she ran off to Spain and found a job working at a hotel.  They took care of her during her pregnancy.  She was only sixteen at the time, a year older than me.  I don’t know where she found the bravery to just take off and live in another country where she didn’t know anyone.  I don't think I could to do it!

        When my dad came to collect me from Dingle he had insisted we visit my mum at the hospital.  It was strange to see them both in the same room.  Somehow they had always managed to avoid contact with each other altogether.  They arranged visits so I would run between their cars or houses when I was being collected or delivered.  My dad seemed sad.  He bought the most expensive bunch of flowers from the florist even though she would never know they were there. 

        Mum was in a coma.  She looked like a fallen angel.  Her head propped against a pillow.  Her hair sprayed our around her.  I saw my dad cry for the first time.  I wondered if he was sad for me or if it was because somewhere deep down, he once loved her and maybe part of him still did.  They were the sort of questions you just don’t ask so I kept them to myself.  Still, it felt comforting to have someone to share my pain with.   

        Dad came into the house with the last of my stuff and shut the door behind him.  “Just ignore Nosey Rosie.  You know what she's like.”

        “Yeah I know.”

        “Do you remember her granddaughter Kali; she will be your year at school.  Perhaps you will be in the same class.”

        “I hope not.”  I remembered one summer holiday at dads when Nosey thought it would be fun to bring her granddaughter round.  We were ten and Kali insisted we play hair dressers with real scissors.  She then started to cut my hair.  When I told her no, she ran downstairs and told her grandmother I had cut my hair and wanted to cut hers.  Kali had beautiful blonde ringlets and big blue eyes that quickly brimmed with pools of sparkling fake tears.  Since then Nosey has always been prickly around me.  She thought I was ‘a wicked girl with no morals’.  They were her exact words before taking Kali by the hand and storming back to her own house, next door.  We heard some door slamming which I can only imagine was theatrical for our benefit.  Luckily my dad took the time to listen to my side of the story.  The next day I had to go see the hairdresser who had to cut my hair short to tidy up the mess.  My dad got in so much trouble with my mum for having my hair cut.  She told me go play in the garden but even outside I could hear her yelling at him down the phone.  I wasn't exactly thrilled about the haircut myself, but I couldn’t walk around with a huge chunk missing from one side. 

        My dad laughed, “I am sure she has grown up.”  His attempt to reassure me failed.  I was not convinced.  Oh god, please don't let her be in my class! 

 

*****

 

        As my first day drew at Priory High School drew near, I was still not convinced that Kali could change.  My dad had offered to speak to Nosey, to arrange Kali and me walking to school together.  He thought it might help if I wasn’t alone and knew someone at the school.  I persuaded him not to.  I‘m not Kali’s kind of people, not pretty enough.

        My dad was right though about one thing.  I would have felt more confident if I had a friend at the school.  It was one of the things that really troubled me.  I wished Lily was with me.  My dad had a computer in the dinning room.  I logged into my account to use the instant messenger.  I was pleased to see Lily was online.  She had been my best friend since the day we met at primary school.   When my mum returned to England, Marie the sister of a Spanish friend helped us find a home in Liverpool so they could be near each other.  Abby recommended her sister because she had a child the same age as me; my best friend Lily. 

        Cassie:    Merry Meet

        Lily:        MM, how are things?

        Cassie:    Unpacked a little but given up.

        Lily:        When do you start Priory?

        Cassie:    Tomorrow

        Lily:        Are you nervous?

        Cassie:    I wish you could be there with me.

        Lily:        I e-mailed you a spell to help you out on your first day.

        Cassie:    Thanks.  I’ll check it out.

        Lily:        Sorry, I can’t stay and chat, I have to go see my grandma.

        Cassie:    No worries.  Have fun.

        Lily:        Miss you already. MP xxx.

        Cassie:    Miss you too. Merry Part. xxx

        I quickly logged into my e-mail account to see what she had sent me.  There as promised was an e-mail from Lily titled ‘Friendship Spell’.  Lily had always been so thoughtful.  I decided I would make time to craft a gift to say thank you to her.  The spell was exactly what I needed. 

        I searched for the cardboard box which held all my candles and pulled out a white one.  I quickly tidied my dressing table before placing the candle in the middle.  I always kept my matches in my bag.  I rummaged around until I pulled out the little box and struck a match against the side and lit the white candle. 

        “Day to night, night to day, I call upon my inner powers to bring me friends who will always be true.”  I chanted. 

        I watched the flame flickering as I began to mediate.  I focused on the flame willing it to be still like a beam of light.  Slowly the flame began to change shape.  It became narrower and taller.  My breathing deepened as I saw it slowly form a thin slender pillar of fire. 

        I began to chant again, “By the power of three times three, I conjure thee!  I conjure thee! Let there be a good friend for me!”  I chanted it twice more and then with a deep breath blew out the candle. 

        As I watched the smoke rise I envisioned myself with Lily, laughing and having fun.  Friendship like that was what my heart desired.  I was focused on what I wanted to achieve and felt confident and determined to make friends.

 

*****  

        The school seemed huge.  I recalled that when I lived in Dingle that starting my last high school there had seemed big until I had found my way – that was bigger than this school that was a city school.  In the end the school was actually quite small and revolved around a square shape.  I was surprised at how confident I felt.  With magic was on my side, I definitely felt better, almost excited with anticipation as I tried to figure out what my new friend might be like.  It was as if they were waiting for me and I just had to go meet them. 

        Reporting to Reception was my first task of the day.  There was a small car park at the front of the building and a large old fashion looking front door.  It was labelled “Visitors” and I assumed it must lead to the Reception. 

        It was a heavy door and once it opened I found myself, as expected, in the Reception.  I went up to the dark oak counter and pressed what looked like a doorbell stuck to the desk.  I could hear a quick ring in the room behind the desk.  The door to the room was also made of dark oak.  From the room came a woman with blonde wavy hair.  She was wearing bright red lipstick but it had rubbed off in the middle and was now marking her mug.  An aroma of coffee filled the room.

        “How can I help you?”  She asked leaning her vinyl red nails on the counter. 

        “It’s my first day.  I’m Cassandra Davies.”  I answered.

        “Take a seat.”  She waved her hands around horizontal to the counter, in a circular movement, similar to that of a magician before he pulls a rabbit out of a hat.  She over pronounced her words as she spoke and wrinkled her nose to emphasise words.  Her behaviour and appearance was camp and a little drag.  “I’ll get your papers.”  Everything was over acted and I found myself sitting on the seat questioning her gender.  She was a stunning woman but her behaviour suggested she was trying to over compensate for something missing. 

        I took a seat on the hard burgundy leather couch.  It was not comfortable.  The Receptionist was not long.  She came around the counter wearing a short mini skirt that was far too young for her body.  Back home my best friend Lily and I would have called her ’mutton dressed as lamb’ or ’a dolly bird’

        “Here you go.”  She said handing me a small ring binder and wrinkling her nose again.  Before I could ask where I should go her attention was snatched by a man in a suit who she quickly offered a cup of coffee.  She didn’t wait to see if he accepted as she tottered behind the counter and disappeared out the door.

        The small folder was a deep red colour like our school uniform and had gold writing on the front saying ‘Year Planner’.  I opened it up and there was a form to complete and return to my form tutor about my emergency details, a timetable, and a diary to record my homework.

        The Receptionist reappeared and I approached the counter again.  “Where do I need to go?”

        She was carrying two hot drinks and barely glanced at me.  “There’s a map at the back.  Your form room is 3b” she shouted as she disappeared through a door behind me.

        She had not been very helpful.  They had just given me my timetable and left me to figure everything else out.  I looked at the map I had been given and tried to work out which room was 3b as none of the doors had numbers on them.  All the rooms were full with people chatting in groups.  I decided which room was mine on the principle that the people in it looked of similar age and the room was at least located down the correct corridor. 

        I found a spare seat at the front of the room.  I wanted to look busy so not to attract attention to myself.  I got out my planner and a pen and began filling in my emergency details. 

         A plump lady came in.  She looked flustered.  She put the register on the desk.  Half the documents were positioned on the desk and the rest was hanging out of over the edge.  She slumped in her chair and leant on the unsupported side of the document.  It flipped over her arm and somersaulted onto the floor.  She leant down to pick it up and then knocked her tea over.  I could hear her swearing under her breathe as she searched her handbag for some tissues to mop up the mess.  It looked like I was not alone with the first day jitters.  As she finally settled down she looked around the room and her eyes set on me. 

        She looked confused as she asked ‘Who do we have here?’ 

        ‘I’m the new girl.’  I started to worry I was in the wrong room.

        The plump lady put on a pair of glassed that made her eyes look huge like an owl.  She shuffled through the papers with the register and then looked up with a beam on her face.  ‘Ah Cassandra’ she said and smiled.

        I nodded and sighed with relief.

        The lady stood and addressed the room.  ‘Seats everyone!’ she said in a loud voice and waited whilst everyone found their place.  I found myself seated next to a rather good looking lad.  He looked like an American basket ball player and had a strong defined jaw line that framed generous kissable lips.  Dark skin and sweet hazel eyes, this guy had the confidence that can stop a heartbeat. 

        I quickly glanced around the rest of the room.  I wondered who usually sat next to him.  I couldn’t imagine that this seat would ordinarily be vacant.  My question was quickly answered as I was greeted by a pair of icy blue peepers belonging to Kali.  It was clear that this familiar face was not going to be friendly.

        “I hope you all had a lovely Christmas break and are ready to get back to business.”  The plump lady said enthusiastically.  “I would now like to introduce you to our newest member of the form, Cassandra.”  She extended her arm out towards me.  I could feel everyone’s eyes turn on me.  As they stared I could feel myself burning up and my face turning red.  “I see you are making friends already.” She beamed and turned her attentions to the lad next to me.  “Phoenix, I want you to take good care of Cassandra, make sure she doesn’t get lost.”  I didn’t need to turn round to see Kali’s face.  I could feel her hateful thoughts plotting against me, planning to kill me at her first opportunity.  “You know the drill gang, let’s get this register done.”  On command like obedient soldiers the students began calling out their names one after another and she ticked them off.  The spiel of names, rambled too fast for me to catch any of them and the room remained full of strangers.  

 

*****

 

        It was quite clear that Phoenix was not really the chaperoning type.  After registration he was gone and I was left standing there wondering where my maths class was.  Kali made sure I knew she was not going to be my new best friend either by giving me a deliberate shove as she passed by.  Close behind her I identified two gorgeous girls.  One looked similar to Pheonix with the same dark skin and hazel eyes.  The other girl looked too nice to be in her gang, with her apologetic smile and sparking blue eyes that met mine as her sleek blonde hair passed me.    They were clearly Kali’s best friend, or henchwomen. 

        Everyone was in a hurry to their next class and passed me without any acknowledgement.  They were busily chatting and catching up on their new year parties.  Then a final bell rang and the corridors were empty.  I decided to head back towards Reception and ask the useless Receptionist for help again.

        As I arrived the Receptionist looked busy going through the registers that had been collected in.  I stood at the counter and waited for her to look up.  “Hello again.”  Her eyes widened almost as much as her big mouth did as it made hard work out of the two simple words.

        “Hi.”  I blushed, “I am not sure where my maths class is.”

        Then a hand appeared next to me.  He imitated writing with his hand as he looked at the Receptionist.  The Receptionist pursed her lips together and shook her head.  She got a big black book out and opened it.  The lad grabbed a pen and signed the book.  Then the Receptionist smiled.  “Leo, can you show Cassandra to her Maths class.  She is new.”

        Leo looked at my planner, “Come on then.”  He said as he started walking out of the Reception.  Quickly I followed.  Leo wasn’t the talkative type and he walked quickly as if he didn‘t really want me to keep up.  He didn’t say a word as I followed him.  When we finally arrived at the room he said.  “Here you are.” and raised one eye brow in this playful manner that intrigued me and made me want to stay in the corridor with him and not go to class.  Then he continued on his way and I was alone to face my Maths lesson as the late girl.   

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