Burning Ashes (Sequel to Willow House)

Cassie Brooks has a heart rendering decision to make, between Ash and Liam. Who will she choose?

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18. Family

I ran a hand through my dimmed red hair. The rustic colour reminded me of blood, but only, faded. Like it had dispersed in water. 

Never the less, I still loved it. 

I sighed deeply and my elbows fell from the large table in the kitchen of Willow. My right hand remained entangled in my red locks and felt like it was swamped with the gentle tentacles of an octopus. Biting on the inside of my cheek, I sighed again out of habit and stooped lower. My temple throbbed against the cold wood as I laid my head to its smooth surface. The fuzz of noise could be heard faintly from the gaming room not far from where my lethargic body resided alone. My eyelids drooped slightly as another shot of pain pulsed through my brain. I groaned and closed my eyes, submitting to the darkness. 

Prom was on the horizon and so were the exams. Was I ready? All the transfers, my life, it was all so dramatic. 

That's not an excuse to slack.

I grumbled to my inner self. Though, inner Cassie tend to have all the right ideas in life. If anything, I had to get these grades. I don't want to remain in the care system, in control of the government. However it is it works. I want to be my own self... Have my own... Normal life. One where I have the job I'd love to work in. One I would skip into in whatever I wanted to wear that morning, one that brought with it, the easy life. Got me an actual life. With a family and children and....

The door hit the wall of the kitchen and my head shot up from the table. The movement soon caught up with me and my distraught brain complained with more pain. I groaned, loudly, before slowly beginning to return to my slouched position. 

"Hey hey!" An overly cheery Ash stumbled into the kitchen and I mentally rolled my eyes, not wanting to deal any more aches and pains on myself. I could almost see the way his eyebrows furrowed and his lips parted in confusion as he took a couple of steps towards my hunched figure. "What's got you all hung up eh?" My eyelids slowly responded to the boy hung over my shoulder, and the bored look he received only lead to his brows almost meeting on his forehead and an arm over my aching shoulders. 

And no, before you start, it's not my time of the month.

"C'mon babe, whats up?" I cringed and closed my eyes. When I finally managed to force the weighty curtains over my eyes, I was faced with Ash sat beside me chewing on one of the piercings through his bottom lip. I bit on my bottom lip accidentally and slowly let the skin slip from my teeth. A smile broke over Ash's chapped lips and the snake bites moved accordingly. It made me smile through my pain and this small smile tickled at the edges of my eyes. Ash's smile relaxed slightly as he brought his lips together, he was so causal... Even in smiling. I blinked and pulled my head up with a long sigh. 

"It's nothing sweetheart, I'll be okay."



******



I grabbed a clean pair of pants and my pj's before leaving my still rater bare room and heading for the bathroom with my necessities bundled in my arms. Leaning against the closed door, I waited impatiently for the occupant to release the room to me. I threw my head back and hit the wall accidentally. 

Ow.

I scrunched up my face and embraced the pain I was swamped in. It was at that moment that the bastard exited the bathroom. Steam emptied from the room as heat was released from its trap and the user stepped out bare footed. Liam took another step out of the bathroom, his hair damp in darkened strands at which he rubbed with his towel. His jaw line was tight and set, he still didn't enjoy my company it would seem. I looked down awkwardly at his bare feet. He didn't move from the doorway so I looked up again which was exactly what he wanted. A smirk spread over his wet lips and my eye twitched slightly at his familiar face.

"Don't get cocky." I stated and tried to push past him. But I should have predicted to have been stopped. Liam pressed my shoulder back and I stumbled backwards. "Yeah?" I asked with a spiteful tone. Not. In. The. Mood. My pain threshold was barely holding up and all I wanted was a shower.

"I'm not cocky." Liam smirk deepened over his features and his eyes narrowed slightly. One arm reached behind his head to scratch at his hair. 

"Okay, whatever." I wanted to sound like I really didn't care, but in all honesty my voice sounded like it couldn't take it. Liam leaned close to my ear and I froze, keeping my eyes forward. His warm steamy breath on my ear and forcing the hairs on my neck to rise.

"My offer still stands." My head began to turn but he clasped my cheeks in his spare hand. "I can still take you to prom." I heard his laugh against my neck.  

"Um..." I mumbled against his hold.

"I don't love you anymore.... But I'll take a fine body with me anyway." My jaw fell as he left me there with the words wrapping around my chest and constricting my air. He staggered away confidently, his head held high as my knees began to crumble under me. 

If he doesn't care... Neither should you.

I don't love you. I don't... love you.... My hand shook over my mouth as I tried to make sense of what just happened. I shook my head violently and locked myself in the bathroom.
I still needed a shower.

 

*******

 

The water pattered over my skin, steam rising around me in the shower gently restricting my air. I sighed and tipped my head back, allowing the droplets of warmth to seep through my hair and slowly dampen every strand. The heat engulfed my body and I slowly began to routinely cleanse myself, acting only upon habit. My numb fingers ran soapy bubbles through my hair and caused wet strands to stick to my skin annoyingly. I battered them away and continued, closing my eyes to let it all run off of me with the constant flow of water. 

I stared at the wall, probably the least most interesting thing I'd ever taken interest in. But, alas, it was not the wall, but the images... No memories that I revisited within the time spent staring aimlessly at that wall which intrigued me. Everything, I thought about everything. All the words I should and shouldn't have said, the nights I spent thinking up a way around my problems. How everything had only piled up and come to freeze, hang over my shoulders in free space, awaiting the moment to fall and crush me for good. I placed my forehead against the wall for support and ignored how the cold condensed front sent shivers along my body. The water continued to poor warm droplets over me from the shower head, causing noise that hid any words I may have spoken. 

"What do I do now?"

 

*******

 

I exited the bathroom with my favourite bed clothes on and my hair wrapped awkwardly in the towel on my head. I held onto the side of the mess on my head as I ran with my earlier clothes looped over my arm. Reaching my room, I awkwardly opened the door with the push of my elbow on the handle and dumped my clothes over to one side, aware they were good for another days wear. My body fell flat on my bed and I stared up at the multiple cracks on the ceiling. How I hated this bare room. Not once in my stay at Willow, had this one had any refurbishment, no personalizing nor a lick of paint to brighten the walls. 

And of course, that tattered old blind that I always forgot to roll down remained up, allowing light to shine in. 

Once again, I let my habit worthy sigh pass my lips before sitting up. I rubbed at my face, bringing both hands over my face. 

What are you doing?


My knees pulled up to my chin and I curled inwards on myself.

Don't cry, don't you dare.

Unfortunately, I'm bad at listening to myself. I began sobbing for what may seem like no reason, when it was really just the pressure of everything. Prom was far too close, but hadn't my prayers just been answered? He said he didn't love me no more. He... Liam... A violent sob racked my body and my soddened face lifted from my hands. Thank god I wasn't wearing makeup. 

Where was that someone when I needed them? 

Goosebumps adorned my skin as a hand took mine gently. They had silently entered my room due to my own foolishness. I smiled through my drying tears at Natalie's soft face. A small smile, large eyes filled with worry fell over me. Her other arm took me into a friendly hug and I allowed myself to fall into her chest. She held me alike a mother holds her child. She cared more than anyone else ever could. My body shook more and more as I clung to the only real friend I owned. 

Don't ever leave me.

Please... I need you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After apologizing for my rather inappropriate break down, I spent the night being the girl I knew I always could be. Nat and I had fun, properly. We began by messing around with the hair dryer, blowing warm air into our faces between her styling and pulling on my hair till the river of red was dry and bounced with a small curl to it's tips. Following that event, we caused our... our room to reek of nail varnish as I tried my artist's hand on Nat's nails. 

The night flowed somewhat like this. Somewhat like this, with Natalie continuously giggling and smiling with me. I had my first ever sleepover, with my one true friend. We laid on the floor, in the makeshift bed we had set up on Natalie's arrival, the dim light from my lamp not fully eliminating the shadows of my cold room. I relived some old memories, seen as my trust could only be put in this one soul.

"I remember when Molly-"

"Molly?" She interjected, looking over at me. My eyes widened as I realized she took her old place, essentially. I momentarily glanced at the wall which separated mine and Molly's old room. No one had set foot in there since the incident

"Oh yeah... You weren't here then.. Basically another bitch." I laughed at myself and she rolled her eyes, something she'd caught from me. "Let's just say I'm pretty much happy having you here instead of her." I pretended to shiver for dramatic effect and that coughed up another giggle from her. I smiled over the way we bonded. She was basically my therapist. We met over my problems and my dramatic life situations. And now? She was routing on a stupid fanbase she had created over my love life. Oh Natalie, "what would I do without you?" I spoke my thoughts aloud. 

"You'd be long gone sister!" She winked at me and tickled a slight showing of skin that peered out from my slightly short bed shirt. I immediately began rolling and kicking in defence, the laughs that erupted from us both enough to cause Mark to shout up at us. We muffled our giggles and I turned the light off. 

"Shuffle up idiot." I whispered, still giggling. 

"Get out of my bed!" She said in a high pitched whisper interrupted with outburst of silent giggles. I pulled at all the covers and left her bare. 

"My room!" I laughed and she tackled me in the girliest way possible. The light flickered on again to reveal me holding Nat in a head lock as she grasped at the duvet I had shoved farthest away from her. 

"Tell her Ash!" She called up, a slight sarcasm in her voice as she looked up at me with a smirk that tainted her eyes. I threw the duvet at her, muffling her as she began to internally fangirl

"Shut up Nat!" I said with a smile in my voice as I quickly sent my eyes up to Ash as he recoiled from turning the light on. "Hey there stranger!" I giggled, my happy mood rubbing off on him also it would seem as a smile broke over his lips when I addressed him. 

"Why hi!" He said a little too overly cheery as he jumped down on the mattress with me and Nat.

"Hey, hey, hey guys! This is my bed!" She pouted over dramatically. I dragged my index finger over her lip and she kicked me in return. 

I laughed and Ash joined in. Now this was what happy looked like. This was friendship, this was family. 

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