Burning Ashes (Sequel to Willow House)

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


3. I'm Wide Awake.



Home sweet home. Yeah, right. Like Willow could ever be my home. Let alone be sweet. With Molly gone to the youth detention centre or wherever they banished her after she was finally noticed as the maniac she really was. I sighed and hauled myself up to the front of the house. It’s white face glowing at me, the door knocker, still heavy to lift and leave to clang on the wooden doors. It hasn’t changed much since the day I arrived. I noticed the very small glimmers of glass mixed in with the pebbled drive. I let my hands dangle by my sides and was scared one of the two of the guys would attempt to take them. I folded them away at the thought. I stepped in and missed Mark’s office, heading for the wooden stairs, clambering up them, my feet tracing my usual steps. Up and up, a foot at a time. Heading past Molly’s old room and into mine. Just remembering everything can hurt. Everything that has happened in this very room has been something that I will carry on forever. I traced up to the wardrobe. The one that held my carved name. The one that held mine and Liam’s carved names. There in the corner, where I could trace with my finger. Feeling the love that had gone into such a crude carving. I found myself smiling, picturing Liam, sneaking into my room to add this mark onto the wardrobe. I turned around to inspect my open pane window to find Ash behind me. Oh no. Not again.

“I said it was my turn.” And he was referring to earlier, when Liam had kissed me in the hospital. 

“No! Ash. Just…” He looked down and I felt guilty all over again. 

“Did you do that?” He pointed to the carving of me and Liam’s names. I shook my head and sighed automatically. “Nah. Why?” I placed my hand on my hip like a perfect teapot. He pulled a face.  

“No reason.”

“Don’t lie.”

“I’m not.” I knew there was some deeper reason, but I let it drop. I didn’t want to pull up anything that may lead me to making a decision. To hurting people so quickly after Liam had returned. I strolled over to the window. “Don’t even think about it.” Great. Now I’m banned from windows. I placed my palms over the rim of the pane. No sharp glass there no shatters. Only an open window. It will be a cold sleep tonight. Wait, they can’t seriously expect me to sleep in here. I’ll catch my death. I felt the concentrating frown on my face when my muscles began to ache for holding it. “Don’t worry. You’re not sleeping in here tonight. But I don’t think you’ll like your new arrangements.” I turned to him. 

“Please no.”



“Afraid so.”

We both spoke at the same time; “Molly’s room.” I groaned rather unattractively and stamped my foot to add to my annoyance. He pulled me in for a hug. “Won’t be for long baby.” I groaned again. “Oh yeah, you don’t like that do you?” I looked at him with annoyed eyes. He just hugged me tighter. His hands slipped down my back and I felt them lock around my waist. I pushed against his chest and he let me free of his grip. I stormed out my room, my raven hair flickering at my sides. I bobbed my way back down the stairs. Running straight into my other problem. Liam.

“Cassie.” He wrapped me in his arms, and I felt sparks fly up my arms. I wanted to resist, to turn away. Not give any incline to which guy I was set on. But he was too strong. I pushed against his chest but he only pulled me tighter. I sighed and let him hold me. His hands came from my waist line and up to my face, cupping them around my cheeks. I smiled, but only for his pleasure. One hand snaked back round my waist and pulled me closer to him. My hollow back arched as he pulled me ever closer. “Never, do anything like that again. Promise me Cassie. Please.” I’m so damn sick of making promises I don’t want to keep.  I just smiled and he pulled my cupped face up to his, sending me on my tip toes. Kissing me at the bottom of the stairs, where anyone could see us. “Oh please.” I pulled away and wiped at my lips anxiously, yet thankful for Ash to break it up. I couldn’t let myself decide, not yet. I wasn’t aware of everything yet. “Save it for the bedroom.” He turned on his heels and headed up to his room, hands in pockets, just like when I first met Ash. Liam shrugged it off instantly and pulled me in again. I just pushed away, trying my best not to make it too obvious. I swerved away from Liam. I could hear a snigger and found Ash at the top of the stairs, he hadn’t left after all. “Ha, denied.” Now he walked away. This time I was sure. I went into the gaming room first, and dropped my aching body on one of the sofas. Charley ran up to me, Freddy in hand. I grabbed him in my arms and sat him on my knees. Fiddling with his hair as I watched some children’s program he was watching. He seemed rather interested in some little puppets that ran across the screen. Maybe, just maybe, this really could feel like home.




I had waited so long to see her in the hospital, and I managed to sit with her in the ride home. I was dying to pull here into a hug and kiss her till the world collapsed around us. But I felt like she no longer had any feelings for me, that now Liam had returned, everything we had had gone. Fallen through the window along with Cassie. I followed her as she walked her way to her room. She didn’t know I was hot on her heels, but I was searching for the nearest opportunity to get close to her again. She came into her room, and strode over to the wardrobe in the corner. It made me curious; I followed closely, being careful to be quiet. I watched as she opened the doors, I knew there were carvings on there, but the one she searched for was not one I’d seen before. I peered over her shoulder and found a small carving, tucked away in the corner reading;




Circled in acrudely carved heart, I frowned at the carvings. Why? Did Cassie do this? Why would she broadcast her feelings out so wide? So that I could see… I stood as close behind her as her dared and waited for her to turn to me. I decided to be a little cocky and input for a kiss of my own, it was my turn. She just turned me down. “No! Ash. Just…” It reminded me again of the words she had pleaded at me when I wanted to show her just how much I love her, it also reminded me of the shouted words that had been bleared at me when I saw her jump through the glass…  I had to ask; “Did you do that?” I looked over at the carving. It made me want to puke. She said she hadn’t, and so it could only be Liam’s doing. I hated him. So bad. My inner babble made me miss what she had said. “Why?” Rung in my ears, I made my mouth talk. “No reason.” But there was a reason. This is why where we are, because we lie to each other; don’t open out to each other. That’s what you do in relationships right? But then again, we aren’t in a relationship. I’m just her ‘friend’. Pfft. It’s not that when Liam’s not around, no. Then she’s wrapped around my leg looking for a friend. I’m her friend with benefits. I can’t fault her though; she’s too amazing for that. She needed a friend when that dirty faggot left her. But she dropped you like a toy when she got bored and had her Liam back… To be honest, I wouldn’t care. If she gave me more of what we had before Liam returned. I would suck up to her and not care what she did to me, as long as I could keep her safe in my arms. But you would care, you care now, you hate it when he touches her… When he touches her. When he touches my Cassie. Urgh, what’s wrong with me? Claiming a girl now? Cassie moved over to the empty window and held on to the rim of the pane. I knew she wouldn’t, but I just made it official; “Don’t even think about it.” As I looked down at her hands, where they were, I could almost see mine in the same place, watching her fall, feeling the sharp glass enter my skin. I explained how she wouldn’t sleep in this room tonight, and a nagging part of me wished she would sleep with me. In my arms. But no she was in “Molly’s room.” We spoke in time with each other and I smiled at her. I pulled her into my arms and wished she would just give me something. Anything. To show she felt something, anything, for me. “Won’t be for long baby.” I found myself saying to her. And I resented it immediately; she hated it when I called her that. I corrected myself. “Oh yeah, you don’t like that do you?” I found a pair of annoyed eyes staring my way. I hugged her tighter, wishing she’d hold me back. I couldn’t resist. I let my hands slip down her body, acknowledging every curve of her perfect body locking round her waist. I wanted her so badly, but she didn’t want me. She pushed on my chest and I let her go. She stormed out, her raven hair flickering as she walked, I wanted to run to her and take her with me, somewhere private and alone. But no. I couldn’t, and may never will.


 I heard her head down the stairs and I dared to exit her cold and still very bare room, to watch her run straight into him. Liam. I felt my fists clench at my sides as I hid in the shadows watching him take her in his arms, hold her tight, his arms circling her waist. Watch his playful hands trace her body like I had, then cup her face. She didn’t push away from him, no, she smiled. I felt my heart ache at the contrast in feelings she gave to him. I felt my mouth drop slightly when he pulled her into a kiss. On her tip toes, her back bent as he pulled her closer and closer to him. I couldn’t leave it, I had to break them. “Oh please.” The words escaped before I could conjure up a better phrase. Cassie pulled away immediately and wiped anxiously at her lips. What I would give to know her thoughts, what she really felt for me. Probably nothing now. Yet my cocky lips, lips that would die to kiss hers, kept the words coming. “Save it for the bedroom.” I turned on my heels and headed back for the shadows. I lingered there to see what became of the scene at the bottom of the stairs. Liam tried to take her back but she refused him. It made the weight on my heart lighten. I smirked to myself and allowed the words to roll off my tongue. “Ha, denied.” Liam looked like he was about to strangle me. For all I cared he could try. 


I headed up for my own room. And passed a very pissed off looking Teresa, I never had gotten on with her; in fact, I didn’t really get on with anyone. Charley maybe and Cassie. Cassie. Even saying her name to myself made me happy. I sighed and Teresa barged into my shoulder, but didn’t stop to look at me. I hobbled back to a stable walk and carried on with my hands in my pockets. I plodded into my room and collapsed on my bed. I wanted to curl up with a cold bodied Cassie and make her warm. To touch her bare skin… I sound like a pervert. But I can’t deny the love I feel for being with her. I stared at the peeling ceiling, sighed and listened to the footsteps of passing housemates. One set seemed far too prominent to be just ‘passing by’. I perked up just as Liam kicked my door open. 


“Well, well, well, who’s banging down my door?” I tried the cocky approach, I was in the mood to fight, but didn’t want to get anything wrong with Liam already, not if I could help it. “Just me.” He could never keep still, always fidgeting. “Just a little… Notice, for you Ash.” He came into my face. “She’s still my girlfriend.” He tapped my cheek and I slapped away his hand. 

“Maybe.” I stood up and rubbed my jaw.

“What you mean, ‘maybe’?”

“Just think about it dumbass.”


“You heard.” He pushed my shoulder back as I retaliated. 

“What’s with the maybe? Mysterious Ash? Just come right out and say it will yah?” He massaged his knuckles and clenched his fist. I came out with what I really, for Cassie’s sake, should have kept in. “Like I said, just think about it, isn’t it… Odd, that your ‘girlfriend’ isn’t as compliant as before? Not completely… Yours?” I raised an eyebrow at him and he launched at me, I dodged and came up behind him, my palms up in surrender. “Huh?” I winked at him.

“’Maybe’ she’s not all yours.” I smiled and ran out. Bad idea. Liam was much faster runner than me. 

“Hey! Get here you little bastard!” I reached the stairs and slid down the banister, an escape route I’d used multiple times. I landed at the bottom of the stairs and bumped straight into Cassie. Shit.




I made Charley comfy and decided I wanted older company. I decided I didn’t care who it was, either of the two, I wanted comfort from someone who cared a little deeper than an adultery trust between the older one and the child. So I excited the gaming room and ran smack bang into a flustered Ash, who had just slid down the banister of the stairs. An angry Liam close behind. “Cassie! Hold that wretched bastard right there!” I raised my eyebrows and Ash shrugged, yet still ran past me into the kitchen. I heard the back door slam and rattle at the violent slam. I cringed as Liam came to the bottom of the stairs where I still stood astounded. Well, just another normal morning at Willow House. 


Liam looped an arm around my waist and pulled me into the kitchen with him. “Here, we’ll wait him out, and eat breakfast at the same time.” Breakfast? Oh yeah. Liam prepared some concoction of what seemed like cereal. He kept looking over to the door. “He’s not coming back in that quick Liam.” He smiled. “Maybe.” His lips twitched at the corner, as if that one word meant something. I was now really curious. What has Ash done now? Then it hit me. Like a punch in the gut, what if Ash told Liam what we had done. My guilty actions against Liam that had put me into this complicated love triangle between him and Ash. I felt sick. Liam placed a bowl, complete with spoon in front of me, but any attempt of eating what sat before me would be a suicide mission. Liam sat in next to me, just like old times. My happy past self reminiscing how my only worry then was a jealous Molly. Me and Ash were friends and I had Liam as my guy. Now I’m in a mess between the two, at least I had no Molly to deal with.  Liam nudged in closer and looked down at me, his chin on my head. He wrapped me in his arm, keeping the other on the table, holding a spoon that was floating in mid air. I reached over and guided the spoon into his mouth. He laughed and spilt milk over the table. He hunched over in response and I couldn’t help my laughter. I watched him try to dab at it, pathetically failing at cleaning up. “Urgh! I hate you… But I love you.” He came back, and even though he smelt of spilt milk and was slightly wet on his shirt, I let him pull me close to me. I allowed this little bubble of privacy we had to conceal this moment. To enjoy him, from missing him so bad, to finally have him back. He tilted my face up and his hand dropped back to my waist. We leaned in; I was ready to kiss him, when he ruined it. “Would this be a bad time to mention… You haven’t answered my question?”I pushed away; his punishment. “Yeah, yeah it would.” I walked out and once again. Into Ash. Liam had followed with his eyes and I heard his chair scrape back as he came to collect Ash, I pushed Ash in the right direction and he sprinted off again. I realized the front door was open; his entry. I sighed, closed it, and followed the racing boys up the stairs.


I found Ash on the floor, collared by Liam, on the landing area outside Teresa and Corey’s door. “So what was that? ‘Maybe’? You better start talking you son of a bitch!” I ran up behind Liam as he pulled back to punch Ash. I grabbed his shoulders. “Liam!” He swung round to dislodge the object that stopped him from attacking and in doing so, punched me right across the face. I grabbed my still sore face and bent my knees a little to take the support of my weight. I became weaker, but I gritted my teeth and straightened up. Liam had realized and was looking all sorry now. His hands came to my face; he inspected my cheek and kissed it gently.  I pushed him back and slapped him across his cheek. “There.” I spit, tasting blood, I think I was biting my tongue. “How d’you like it?” He stammered back into a now standing Ash and took a blow from him too. “Hey!” I pushed Liam out of my way, now disorientated by who was hitting who. “What?” I slapped him too. It felt quite good actually. He rubbed his cheek, and I felt Liam trying to get in front of me. I held him back. Teresa opened her door, obviously disturbed by our scraping. I slapped her too, wait. What? I didn’t mean to do that. I clasped my hands over my mouth as she straightened her face. “Oh, I swear, Teresa I didn’t mea-” Too late she grabbed my shoulders and pushed me to the wall, her face lit red by the slap. “Ah!” I felt all the air being hit out of me. The boys were now able to fight each other, but I felt the weight of Teresa being lifted from me. I groaned at my bruising shoulders. Not even a whole day since my ‘accident’ and I was in a fight again. “Teresa!” Corey’s frail voice whimpered out through the rabble of us all in this tight landing. I saw her little face, pale and sad, a pouted lip that trembled as she saw her sister being torn from my suffering body. Everyone stopped, and the heavy breathing of everyone’s adrenaline filled bodies could be heard. I used the wall to support myself and a tempting as to hit Teresa again, I realized it was not only my fault, but would be my problem. Corey ran out into the tangled bodies. I expected if anything for her to run to Teresa, but no. She scrambled through to me. It felt wrong, and with Teresa’s pain filled eyes glaring at me, I wanted to refuse Corey. But she came and cried into my chest. I held the child like a doll. As she whimpered into my top. Liam looked confused. I felt the many pair of eyes bore into me, so I looked down into Corey’s hair. She pulled up and wiped her eyes. “Please. Stop.” I wiped the single tear that escaped and sent her into the capable hands of her sister. One very pissed very skilled adversary. I’m doomed. If not Molly, I now have Teresa to do her dirty work.


Liam brought me to my feet and Teresa slammed her door closed, taking Corey with her. Ash wiped at his mouth with the back of his hand. His breathing heavy, he walked off to his room. I had saved him, and most likely, just caused myself some more problems. Liam’s face looked hurt, pained, that was my entire fault. It was always my fault. But I loved him. Or did I? If I truly loved Liam… Would I have been able to love Ash? I wanted to cry. Be pathetic, be weak, be everything they thought I was. All that was left was my bare bones now. Still haunted by a choice that Liam wants. And now he knows me and Ash have ‘something’, I just prayed he didn’t know what exactly. I prayed I can get through this. But I know that at some point, I’m just going to lose everything I ever wanted. I caught Liam’s hand, and pulled it up to my lips. I hesitated and then closed my eyes and kissed his rough knuckles. I smoothed the battered skin with my finger tips. I felt my breath catch in my throat. And one tear fall from my eye. It wasn’t because of what just happened. It’s always deeper with me; I’m not as weak as they think. I’m just an excellent hider, I cover my tracks well. Liam came back to me, still pushed against the wall, and wiped the tear that had escaped into the sight of all watching eyes. Then, like he used to always do, he tilted my head up to his lips, and kisses me gently. Unfortunately, I had felt much deeper, needy kisses since these timid pecks that Liam had given me, and my initial reaction was to press myself to him and deepen the kiss. He wasn’t expecting it, and I knew that later he would realize that I had had to have experienced something like this to want to do it. Then me and Ash are fucked. But I didn’t want to worry right now. I wanted to kiss the guy I had spent what felt like a lifetime missing. Liam pulled my waist to his and pressed me harder against him. It dawned on me that he must have also had some sort of ‘practice’ before. I shuddered at the thought. Or was it at the fact that Liam’s hands were snaking under my top and onto my bare back? I pulled out, but only to hit a wall and bounce back into his kiss. He lifted my legs up into a sort of piggy back, but backwards and carried me into my cold room. He dumped me on my bed but didn’t stop kissing me. I rolled away. My eyes wide with surprise. With knowing. This bed reminded me of what I had done before. What I was guilty of. 


I got up and I heard Liam sigh on the bed where I left him. “Well.” I moved to the door and slowly closed it, hoping for a little more privacy. The window didn’t help with my shivers. Liam’s hands had been unexpectedly cold, that’s unusual. Liam was warm normally. Or, he used to be. “Well?” I breathed in deeply, still a little out of breath from being winded up against the wall. “Well… Where did you learn that?” I clenched the door handle and my eye lashes fluttered far too rapid than usual. I swallowed, trying to swallow some of the guilt. “I… I-I could say the same for you.” I closed my eyes to stop my eyes from blinking so much. I kept my back to him, but I heard him creep off of the bed come to get close to me. I couldn’t lie to his face. I kept facing the door and opened my eyes. His hands on my waist still that was the only thing he touched. “Guess who.” I looked to my side as he spoke the words into my ear. I rubbed my neck. “Molly.” I could almost feel the smile he was wearing. “Correct! Top marks!” His sarcastic voice didn’t help with the sickening images and feeling I was getting. Knowing those lips had touched the monster that had tried to murder me only a few days ago. “And you?” I felt my heart beat increase as the fear built up inside me. “No one.” I was a bad liar when I was scared. I stumbled over words making it easy to identify my faults. “Liar, tell me Cassie. Tell me. I told you.” Yeah, and I wanna be sick because you did. That was the cocky response I wanted to tell him. “N-no one.” I was sobbing slightly. I scrunched my eyes up. “Ash.” It wasn’t a question, but I nodded slightly. It felt such a large movement. I bit my lip and prayed for the easy way out. His hands left my waist. “Is that all you did?” My easy escape. More lying, more covering my tracks. I heard my guardian angel speaking and I took my life line. “Yes.”


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