Glowing Eyes

When the person you love's life is hanging in the balance, how far would you go to save them?

Tori Pearson and Zack Martinez had been best friends since third grade. Now Juniors in high school, their friendship still shines strong...until Mandy moves to town. Amanda Blair, Thornton High's newest queen bee is seemingly beautiful, smart and charming, thought Tori can see something is off about her. Amanda's eyes glow, and Tori knows that nobody else can see it but her.

With a monster for a rival, and her whole life hanging off a single promise, will Tori be able to sustain her friendship with Zack and save Little Thornton? Or will it all crumble with rest of her life?

Note: Used to be called '30 Things A Guy Should Do'

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5. A Love Made in Hell

The next day, my heart and mind had changed for the worse.

My head raged with a maniacal migraine and for the first time in almost two years I actually felt sick. Not the kind of sick where you feel like you want to throw up, though, it was the kind where you look and feel paler - more washed-out - and you're so tired that you can't concentrate on one solid thing for any longer than five seconds. My whole body shook and I had to wrap up in a chunky grey knit cardigan before even thinking of stepping outside, even though it was the warmest day of the year so far.

"Tori?" Dad called to me, as I moved towards my bag that hung on the coat rack, too ill to even consider breakfast. I felt like a zombie as I slowly turned around to face my father who was sitting on the sofa watching me, concerned. "Are you alright, honey?"

"I'm fine," I tried to reply, but my voice was weak and shaky as if I were losing it. I tried clearing my throat. "Just a little tired." As I continued to shuffle slowly to the door, my dad caught my arm as it reached for the handle.

"No you're not," he told me, worry in his expression. "You look sick...should you take the day off?" I wanted to - I really did as I didn't feel like facing a bunch of boring lessons that I wouldn't be able to focus in. But Dad would have to watch over me and not go to the lab all day and even I knew how much he dreaded missing a day's work (what can I say? He loves being a scientist). There was always the risk of running into Amanda, though. It was ridiculous; I hardly even knew her and yet I already hated her; I hated her so much already that I wanted to avoid her, when really she hadn't done that much to me. I'm not usually the type to jump to conclusions about a person, especially when they've actually been relatively kind to me.

But the dream I'd had last night was a different story completely. Amanda had been controlling us, and that had ended up in me falling to my own death...

Was I thinking too much at night? Probably. It was just a dream, it didn't mean anything.

"I would but don't you have to be at the lab today?" I asked, my voice still sounding rusty. I rubbed my pounding head.

"I can always take the day off, Tor," he replied, stroking my hair. "If my baby's sick then I gotta take care of her, right?" I smiled.

"Right...okay then, I guess I'll stay, but I don't want to." Oh hell yes I did. I scurried back up upstairs and lay on my bed, cuddling one of my many teddy bears that Zack had given me. He had blonde fur and was holding a red velvet heart that read 'Best Friends Fur-ever'. I called him Bugsy. I'm not sure why. My cell phone buzzed and I stared at the screen, trying to block as much of its light as I could without losing my view, and read the text that had just come in. It was from Zack.

To: Tori Pearson

From Zack Martinez

Message: Where r u?? x

I sighed and decided I'd text back later, haphazardly throwing the cell behind my pillow, where I always kept it, and tried to sleep though I knew I wouldn't.

After an hour of tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable but failing, my phone started ringing beneath my head just as I'd been drifting off in a nap. I shrieked and fell onto the floor, dazed, before grabbing the cell and trying to hold on to it through its vibrating jitters.

Zack M. the screen read, and I reluctantly answered it even though I knew I didn't want to talk to anyone.

"Hello?" I said, sounding a lot more tired than I felt. There was some muffled noise on the end of the line that sounded like wind.

"Tori!" Zack cried, on the other side, before shooting some quickfire questions at me. "Where are you? Are you okay? What's going on? Are you in trouble-?"

"Woah, woah, woah slow down, Zack!" I yelped, wincing at the sharp pain in the side of my head. Clearly, my head was not enjoying the talk. "I'm fine. Sick but fine."

"Hold up," he said, astonished. "Tori Pearson? Sick? No way, my Tori never gets sick." I smiled at the term 'my Tori'.

"Well, you better believe it, 'cause I'm not coming into school today." There was silence on Zack's side.

"Okay...well can I get you anything to eat? Chicken soup? A tampon?" he asked, and I could hear his smile. "I'm kidding about the tampon - I know you're not Giovanna Plowman." I burst into a loud fit of giggles and for just a moment I forgot about my sickness, my pounding head and I even forgot about Amanda, after all she had been the only thing I'd been able to fixate my mind on.

"I'm fine, really," I told him, resting my head against the side of my bed, fiddling with a strand of my hair. "You just go on and don't worry about me, okay?"

"Alright," he replied quietly. as if he were distracted, before disconnecting the call. I sighed and dropped my cell just as my father called my name from downstairs.

Slowly trudging into the living room, I almost bumped into my dad as I wasn't concentrating. Apologizing, I walked to the kitchen in search of ice cream - I could've really used my tongue being numb right then. My search deemed unsuccessful.

"Hey Tori," Dad called as I approached him. "You should really go and get some fresh air, y'know, leave the house and go get some ice cream or something." I raised an eyebrow at him. If he were my mom he'd be telling me to stay in my bed and don't come down until I felt better with absolutely no sympathy, shooting down the idea of letting me out on my own steam without even giving it a second thought.

"You want me to?" I asked, puzzled. "But...I'm sick."

"I know, and I don't need any more proof of that," he replied, flicking through the newspaper he held, skim-reading the headlines. "So go out and have fun - you deserve it."

"But..." I started, unsure of what to say. The Tori of a week ago would've taken up his offer straight away and ran out the door at full speed, but the Tori of today was uncomfortable knowing that Amanda was out there. The thought was stupid, I knew, after all Amanda would be in class right now...unless she wasn't in school. Then of course she could find me. "I'd really rather you came with me, Dad."

"You would?" He sounded astonished and I felt guilty. I hadn't spent much quality time with him since I started high school almost three years ago due to his busy lab schedule and my late-night study sessions at the library, and cheer practise every other night. He cleared his throat. "Well...um...sure, I guess. Let me just grab my keys." He smiled and wandered off, before ushering me into the car and driving into the center of Little Thornton.

 ***

The clock ticked away slowly as Zack stared at it, praying for the class to end. He stifled a yawn and his fingers found his phone, which lay undisturbed in his pocket. There was a message from Tori.

He glanced up at the teacher who was sitting quietly at her desk reading a book, hardly paying any attention to the class who were supposedly working, though even he could see all the notes being passed around and the subtle texting to one another happening. Deciding it was safe to check his cell without being noticed, he opened the message.

To: Zack Martinez

From: Tori Pearson

Message: Dads taking me down 2 moos now! Being sick is fun xoxo

Zack laughed under his breath, and he missed her terribly. She was always here with him and even though he had the whole football team and practically half the school as his friends, still he felt alone and vulnerable without her. He looked over at Tori's seat, which had been occupied by Amanda the new girl, and sighed. He knew he'd see her tonight; he'd drive over to her house, bring some tampons for her (yes, they really were close enough for him to know exactly when it was her 'time of the month') and some movies so that he could cheer her up...though she did seem happy enough already.

Pocketing his phone, he stared at the worksheet in front of him: 'Analyzing Shakespeare's Plays' - fun. Praying for the last twenty minutes to pass quickly, he bent his head and started the work.

•♥•

As Zack sat on the bleachers waiting for his turn to run in his baseball game, he vaguely noticed a sleek figure rise towards him, one with long blonde hair and a plastic smile. He recognized her face from the day before and also from his English Literature class only two lessons ago. Amanda Blair. Great.

"Zack Martinez," Amanda said, at his side, her perfectly manicured fingers planted on each of her hips, her cold blue eyes staring at him in what seemed like a friendly greeting, though he thought he could see something harder beneath it, though he wondered if that was just his imagination. He was feeling shifty without Tori (she was like a rock for him, always willing to punch anyone who got on her nerves), and especially didn't feel very comfortable around Amanda as he felt like she was constantly pressuring him with her stare, which of course was completely absurd seeing as he'd only ever talked to her once, and she'd seemed like a very nice girl. But nice girls weren't always nice, he supposed thinking back to his conversation with Tori last night about Amanda. If it was anyone else who had said what she had to him, he would've thought they were delusional or jealous...but this was Tori. She was the best judge of character he knew, and if he were to listen to anyone's advice it would definitely be hers. So why didn't Tori like Amanda? That was something he wanted to find out - he just didn't know how.

There was a small cough next to him and Zack jumped before remembering that Amanda was waiting for an answer.

"Hi Amanda," he greeted quietly, wanting to sound nonchalant and in that sort of 'leave-me-alone' attitude, however she didn't take the hint; or she did but ignored it. With a little girly giggle, she plopped down next to him, twirling a strand of her golden hair round and round. She obviously thought she was being attractive, but to him it was just annoying. He didn't want Amanda, he wanted Tori just like he always had.

"Call me Mandy," she said, winking at him and leaning ever nearer. He tried to shift away but if felt like his muscles were jelly. He averted his eyes from hers, avoiding her intruding gaze. "Why won't you look at me?" Mandy asked him, innocently but he sensed something darker underneath.

Reluctantly, he returned eye contact.

Suddenly, his vision tunneled, everything else seemed to get darker yet Mandy's eyes seemed to shine brighter. He tried to move but couldn't. Tried to scream, but his mouth refused to open. Tried to break whatever was going on inside of him that felt like it was ripping him in half, but he had no control. In the blink of an eye - literally - it was all over, and due to the tension in his muscles, Zack bounced off the bench he'd been perched on and landed flat on the concrete ground, the white-hot sun glaring at his face. 

He felt...strange. Different. Like when you walk in to a room with a purpose but leave not knowing what it was you were supposed to do. And then all was fine again. He felt good - no, great - like he had no shadows even when he was standing in the light.

"Martinez! Get your butt up and in gear," Coach Kowalski called over the din of laughing kids. "You're on in five!" Scrambling to get up, he straightened himself up, wiping dust off his gym kit.

"Let me help you with that," Amanda said, flashing him a beautifully cute smile. Flattered by her attention, he let her brush his torso as he took in her pale skin and icy blue eyes. Those eyes were so beautiful...he could just stare at them all day-

No, his mind screamed at him, but something blocked the thought. No, no, no those eyes are not beautiful! Her smile isn't real! What has she done to you?

Ask me, a voice whispered in his mind, though he wasn't sure what it meant. Ask me to be your girlfriend Zack. He stared at Amanda's angelic face, part of him wanting obey her every word and the tiniest cell in his screaming at him not to listen. That she was a control freak, that he was not in love with her but with somebody else...

He couldn't remember her, whoever she was.

"Be my girlfriend," he mumbled. He wasn't saying it - couldn't be - his mouth was moving and sound was coming out, but he knew he wasn't saying it. It was like word vomit. She pretended to be surprised and started doing that stupid girly blonde-airhead giggle that she seemed to love so much.

"Of course, Zack!" she winked and led him away, leaving Zack's mind in turmoil.Only the old Zack would've noticed the fleeting flash of red in her eyes and the mischievous smirk that lay on her full lips...

The new Zack was too happy about finally landing a chance with the girl he thought he'd been in love from the very first glance.

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