Letting Go

After being brutally abused by her father and outcasted by her classmates, seventeen year old Keller Alvidas is glad and even relieved to spend her last year at Edge-of-The-World, the sleepy small town she grew up in. Everything changes when the Gabriels, a group of orphaned teenage boys arrives. They break all her rules about meeting new people but they too have secrets and when the truth comes out Keller has to decide wether to let go and save herself or to continue to be dragged through everything she wanted to run away from, all for one chance she might never get.

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22. Killer Confidence

Keller's P.O.V

Darkness wraps around us like a dark blanket and before long we fall prey to sleep side by side.

"Don't sleep yet," James whispered after I shut my eyes.

"Why not?" I ask.

"I don't really want this to end yet," he admits. I smile in the dark but tiredness wins out and I lose consciousness.

--

Sunlight  filters through my window in shredded ribbons as I struggle to wake James up.

"Hey, get up. We need to go to school," I yell. He doesn't respond and I grab a pillow and smack him over the head with it.

"I'm up!" he yells, immediately getting up. I laugh at his reaction.

"Did you just hit me?" he asks ruffling his hair. I shrug my shoulders.

"I don't remember that..." I lie. I walk over to my closet to pull my clothes out. Strong arms snake around my waist and lifts me up. A gasp bubbles in my chest and bursts from my mouth as my mind turns fuzzy.

"What are you doing?" I ask between breaths.

"You hit me, I'm just returning the favour," He says and lifts me up again. His grip falters and I grasp his neck to keep me from falling. A slight yell escapes my mouth. My father used to lift me like this, only he usually lifted me so that when I fell it would hurt ten times more than if the beat me from the ground.

"Please, put me down," I beg. Something in my voice broke and James stops dead. He sets me down and looks in my eyes imploringly.

"Your father?" he asks still holding me.

"How did you know?" I question.

"I know you down to your bones," he says poking my chest. Sure, I say in my head.

"And right now, you just thought of a sarcastic comment," he adds. My mouth gapes open. He really does know me.

"Anyway, you don't have to worry about Gerald, he's locked up again. I'm nothing like him, I won't hurt you," he whispers. I want to believe him, I really do but when look in his eyes but they're clouded, preventing me from telling truth from lies. Regardless if he's telling the truth or not goosebumps race up my arms and shocks spread towards my fingertips, my mind turning to sludge just by having James near me.

"Hopefully," I answer with my eyes cast down. He pulls me closer and I bury my head in his sweater clad shoulder finding comfort. My door explodes open and Ian rushes in, ruining the moment, again. I sigh and pick my head up.

"Good, you guys aren't dressed yet," says Ian pacing the room. James lets me go and I pull my sweater around my body defensively.

"You guys both need to learn how to knock," I say indicating to James and Ian. He ignores my comment and gets straight to the point.

"I was just wondering, do you guys want to go to New York with us?" he asks. My mouth drops open a little wider. New York? On a school day? Impossible.

"Nice try Ian, aren't you supposed to go make your anniversary day with Lorena?" I demand. I walk to my closet and continue picking out clothes.

"Exactly! You said to recreate the first time we met! I walked into the auditorium at school when Lorena was practicing a scene from a play. In the scene, she went on a road trip o New York!" replies Ian with excitement.

"Then why don't you just go with Lorena?" I ague.

"Yeah, but I wanted to know if you guys wanted to come with us. Lori's cool with it. Al, Ed, Will, and Ellis are coming. You guys should come too," he answers.

"I'm up for it," James shrugs.

"But there's school! I can't just ditch."

"Sure you can, it's almost the end of the year, and you have a near-perfect GPA," Ian says.

"But, I-I," I stutter. It's true though, it's only one day anyways. Something must've shown on my face and Ian's smile broaded.

"So you're coming?" James asks. New York does seem fun, I say trying to convince myself. I look on the hopeful faces of Ian and James.

"When are we going?" I ask grabbing my passport from under my bed.

"An hour," Ian answers. I grab clothes to take a quick shower and walk out.

"The things you guys make me do," I mutter as I walk out.

--

Jeans and lace up boots coat the lower half of my body while a plain white t-shirt coats the upper half. I tie my hair and add a swipe of lip gloss before walking in Will's van. It fits all eight of us but five specific people are still missing. The girls are the only ones inside and I suddenly feel shabby next to their party dresses and light accessories.

"Woah, you guys really went all out," I say.

"Does it look okay?" they ask worriedly.

"Yeah, you guys look great," I assure with a smile on my face.

"What about you?" Ellis pouts, "Where's your dress?"

"Nowhere," I respond, "I'm not a fan of the whole dress thing." I shrug.

"But it's New York! The parties, the people, the bright lights and Broadway! You need to make an impression," says Lorena. The stars are in her eyes, she must be passionate about  theater, and going to New York of course.

"The running around, the sweating, the rude people! Where ever you go people'll still ignore me," I point out. 

"Not if you have a pretty dress to strut around in and killer confidence, you have to demand attention," Ellis says dismissevely.

"I don't know aout the confidence but I have a dress in my bag somewhere in here that might fit you," Lorena says rummaging through her bag. She finds one, a russet colour dress that would supposedly make my eyes pop, according to Ellis. She thrusts it towards me and I back away, as if it were a monster, as if it were something terrible.

"I'm good," I decline.

"No, this would look perfect on you," they argue.

"Come on, I know for a fact that James," I gulp, " would love you in it." ends Lorena. The pros and cons run through my head but in the end vanity wins out. I take the dress and drape it over my body.

"I'm keeping the boots," I say and run in  the orphanage to put it on.

"Finally breaking out of your shell," Ellis screams as I laugh. I am breaking out of my shell, I think with a smile.

 

They were right, the colour make my eyes seem brighter, less dull. It also intensifies my hair so it looks darker, more like  black than mousy brown. It was worth all the trouble though, it took me nearly twenty minutes to figure out the damn zipper and when I finally figured it out I realized it was on backwards. I try to apply foundation to my scar but it's useless. It's as visible as a candle in a dark room. I scrub my face clean and walk back to the van as sunshine beats down on my back.

"You look great," exclaimes Ellis and I smile.

"Hopefully, why does the zipper have to be in the front?" I ask.

"It's the style, just go with it," she laughs.

"You look amazing," James says breathlessly. Blush creeps up my face and I look down and shuffle my feet.

"Remember, killer confidence," Lorena reminds me. Killer confidence, demand attention, the words run through my head and I find meaning in them. I lift my head and flash James my brightest smile.

"Well, I hear the colour supposed to bring my eyes out," I mention nonchalantly while shooting Ellis a slight smile. She gives me a thumbs up and I breathe a sigh of relief.

"James if you're done staring, we need to hit up New York!" yells Will from the driver's seat. We gather in and buckle up, me beside James and shivers run up my arm, just like last month. He grabs my hand and I don't shrug it off, this is how it's supposed to be. I smile, last year I would never have even considered hanging out with these people because my shell was my guard, my armour. Now my armour is falling apart and I couldn't be happier.

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