Burning Ashes (Sequel to Willow House)

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


12. Maybe



Cassie’s P.O.V Cont.-



My anticipation on the whole day had changed so rapidly. I had woke up, come to school and immediately had hatred within me. Jealously, hatred, leading me to my plan. And now... I feel like I should back down... Do it later. No. I wasn’t wimping out. It was going to be amazing. Once Ash finally exited the infirmary, drugged with painkillers, it seemed he’d refused to return to Willow. What I would have given to go ‘home’ early. He smiled that weak smile over to me again, and I handed him the top he had in his bag. It was a simply dark grey T-shirt. I had planned to avert my eyes like any normal person would do, but instead found myself staring when Ash took off his shirt. And no. I wasn’t doing a Nat and fan-girling over his body, I would be mortified if I ever did that, instead, I was gasping and frowning at the bruises that marked his skin. I adjusted my bag strap, feeling it’s hefty weight cutting into my shoulder, and tip toed closer to Ash. He stopped mid change, his shirt bundled over his head. I shakily traced the deep purple coloring of the marks. I heard him grimace at my cold hands. I removed my prodding fingers and pulled his shirt on properly. It was a little tight and I could almost hear the girly yelps from Nat and Becky when we’d walk in. I smiled, a sad broken smile. I was utterly defeated after todays events. I was praying I’d find the energy and courage for later. Ash grabbed his bag and slung it over his shoulder only to wince in pain. I bit my lip and tried to take it from him. He chuckled.


‘Nah, it’s fine.” He said through gritted teeth. He didn’t sound very convincing. 


“Ash, let me help you.” He smiled down at me.


“You already are.” He kissed my forehead lightly and I couldn’t help but feel the blush spreading over my pale cheeks as a smile crept onto my lips. He hesitantly tried to take my hand. I pulled my hand away, a move I’d become used to. And instantly regretted it. As unfair as it was, Ash’s face could have made leaders of the harshest countries fall to their knees. So I gave in and entwined my fingers with his. I was glad to feel their usual warmth seeping through mine.




Entering drama, I dropped Ash’s hand. Ash had been too noble to even squeak a word of who may have done such things to him. So Liam would be in lessons with us as usual and not spending his afternoon in the BMG. I fondly remembered how I’d gotten us all out of some petty shit in art. I used to think things were hard then. Oh lord look at me now. If I could only tell my past self things I should have done. Things I shouldn’t have done...


“Hi!” Nat whispered rather loudly. I rolled my eyes at her as I dumped my bag. We’d already missed half of lesson and Miss seemed to have it in for me. I strolled up and handed her a little green note the cheery reception lady had given me. Take that. I smiled effortlessly and she grumbled at the missed opportunity. Nat patted the floor beside herself, it seemed she’d been waiting for us to return, as most of the other students had already grouped for the activity. I pulled a sticker out of my pocket and slapped it on Ash’s chest as he followed me. 


“Ow!” He exclaimed and I smiled a sorry at him. He inspected his new addition. 


‘Out of Uniform.’


I scanned the room as Nat chittered away. I didn’t find Liam until the last moment, he was heading towards us, joining our group? Is he serious? He instantly took me into a hug. 


“Ah! Liam!” I protested but he squeezed tighter. My arms stuck out at the sides as he crushed them to my body. Ash slipped his hands into his pockets, leant on his hip and drooped his eyelids. He didn’t look amused. 


“Is that supposed to make me jealous? Cos’ its not working.” Ash said, a smug little smile on his face. He ran a hand through his hair, now having grown rather long, as he did so, his slightly tight top pulled up at the rim and I had to force myself not to look, what was it with me today? I heard Nat’s giggling behind me. As soon as Liam released me, he patted my head. Like a dog. That made me angry. 


“Are you trying to say something?” He raised an eyebrow at me and ruffled my hair. I snatched his hand from my head and tightened my grip on his wrist. 


“Don’t moan baby, you are female after all.” He was incensing that I was a bitch. Ugh! Ash’s smile only spread wider and he had to try and control his laughter. He got the hint too. I thought about heading on him, but he was injured, he had a handicap. For now. 


“I’ve told you before, mate, she hates that.” Ooh, we were addressing the annoyance of ‘baby’. Understood. Liam lost his grin and came face to face with Ash again. Oh no.


“You want to go again... Mate?” He spat the words at him. Was this how Liam used to be, how he truly was? If so... I don’t think I like it that much at all...


“Go on. Do it. With all these witnesses. I’ll just play weak again and get all the attention I need.” Ash was playing weak? He played me? On purpose? He took all that beating from Liam so he could have me tend for him? Liam went to punch him again but this time Ash was prepared and he caught his hand. He pulled his hand down, curving his body. He was going to knee him in the stomach. 


“Stop!” I shouted, silencing the room. I stood between the bickering two. Ash dropped his stance and shoved his hands in his pockets, returning to his slouched position. Liam was still trying to make sense of the events that had played before him. “Can’t you just stop it? For once!” I sighed, but it didn’t release any of the hurt. Ash began trembling, like he was debating with his body wether to do something. His hands left his pockets and he seemed like he was considering hugging me. I wish I could. But instead I walked on past him and embraced Nat. She gasped at my surprise but soon hugged me back. I wanted to cry, but I knew I couldn’t. Plus, I had done my makeup rather nice today and I didn’t want to ruin it. I smiled at my petty mind. I was becoming a girl. I sniffled and headed for the mountainous pile of bags, as the bell rung through the classroom. 




“I can’t take no more fighting between them Nat.” I said, flustered and without a doubt, stressed, as we headed to fifth period. I groaned first at the prospect of a whole hour beside Ash, as an instinctive response. But maybe some time explaining and calm reasoning with my hot water bottle could do some good. I took a deep breath, flipped my hair from my face and walked in. I sauntered up to my usual seat in the back and watched as Nat got placed. She nearly bit her lip off when she saw where I was sitting. I mimed an ‘I know’ to her and motioned for talk later. She hastily raised a thumbs up to me. I sighed and rested my head in my hands. It’s been a long day. Ash finally came into class and sat besides me. I pulled my head up and smiled at him. He smiled back slowly. 


“Since when were you so cheery for English?” I made a halfhearted little laugh and watched him get comfy. 


“Never. So I must me on something.” I chuckled at my own thought. I really shouldn’t do that. He began chuckling with me. 


“Part of me wants to believe I have something to do with it, but I find that highly unlikely.” He said through a lazy crooked smile. I hesitated, wondering if I was only aiding the heartache.


“Maybe... It is.”




Ash’s P.O.V-



“Part of me wants to believe I have something to do with it, but I find that highly unlikely.” I dared to throw it out there, seen as she was in such a good mood. It’s how I felt, it wasn’t a lie. I already knew what she’d say though. Things like; No Ash! Stop being stupid! and Never. I hid my sigh. Maybe she’d changed, maybe after today she’d chosen me, maybe she-


“Maybe... It is.” My heart stopped. Did she really just say that? I felt my eyes widening and the involuntary smile that swept across my face. She smiled back, and it felt so good to see her smiling with me. I felt my body language changing. My legs swung inwards, towards her, and I turned from resting against the wall, to face her. We were closer now, that’s how I like it. She rolled her sleeve up, though it already rested after her elbow. I went to do mine and found my bare t-shirt meet me. I bit my lip, something I had been copying from her. I couldn’t help it, she hypnotized me. I slumped my arms on the table as the teacher drowned on. The only upside of school was time with Cassie. Though to be honest, it was more limited here than at Willow. There was a glint of mischief in her eyes, she was planning something. I knew it. She twirled one of her long raven locks. Was that it? Was that the hint? Was she going to do something to her hair? I rubbed at my face, I was paranoid and stressed. And my abs hurt. Ugh. Maybe I should have been more responsive to Liam’s beating. Hmp. I drummed my finger tips on the table, and Cassie’s hand fell from her hair. She sighed again. She kept doing that, it made me sad to see her so stressed and defeated. I wanted to pick her up and make her happy again, like I knew I could. I reached for my book which had been slung carelessly onto the table by one of my ‘classmates’ and as I did so, I ended up knocking my hand into hers. We both pulled back. Though were used to touch, I’d held her hand not long ago... But still. I rested my hand and after a moments hesitation she laid her arm back down, so close to mine. I felt my lips part as I tilted my head, inspecting the distance before gently allowing my fingers to caress her hand. Just the side at first until I had my whole hand almost on top of hers. She gasped when my fingers moved by themselves and slipped between the holes of hers. My her fingers were cold. It’s his fault.


“Your still cold.” I whispered, though the class was rabbling noisily and making such a distraction I could be murdering someone and no one would notice. She turned, her bottom lip dropped, her hair following. I gripped at her palm, feeling the chill of her hand against mine. Her eyes seemed wide, but then drooped as she felt the warmth fill her fingers. She was smiling. She was smiling again. Because of me. I told you, I was so much better for her. 




English finally finished and I couldn’t bare another minute in the room. I tightened my grip on Cassie’s hand not willing to let her go and hauled my bag over my shoulder. Once I was sure she was ready, I pulled her out, not waiting to be dismissed. I knew Liam’s eyes were on me, I could feel them burning into my back. I almost held up our joined hands. Triumph. Almost. I pulled and she followed, exiting the school grounds as soon as possible. If we beat the rush, I might be able to test my luck. 


“I-I need to go into town...” She basically asked. Why was she asking me? 


“Want me to come?” I smiled, time alone. Perfect. 




Cassie”s P.O.V- 




If he came then he would see my plan... But time alone with Ash would be perfect. Oh what should I do... I could hide my plan... Right? I smiled up at the waiting boy and tugged him along, towards the town square.

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