Frozen Sea

Sixteen-year-old Alaska's whole world is slowly but surely starting to crumble. Her boyfriend is charged with the rape of her best friend, and she is staring at a long, lonely summer of secrets and unimaginable pain. Losing herself in surfing and her night shift at the local pub seems like the only way to pretend none of it is actually happening for real. Until she meets Connor, a mysterious musician on a holiday of inspiration, Alaska finally realises that sometimes the only way to move on is to face up to reality.

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13. XII

A knock on the front door the next morning arose me from my slumber. Half of me wished it would be Connor, expected it to be Carter, but Isaac stood there, grinning like a Cheshire cat, dressed in a ratty old button-down shirt and crinkled jeans, his beautiful coal-black hair knotted and tangled like he had just woken up. I put a finger to my lips as I opened the door; Dad was still fast asleep upstairs.

"I come with supplies," whispered Isaac cheerily, striding through my front door whilst tripping over his shoelaces every couple of steps, hauling two enormous grocery bags behind him. I yawned, rubbed the sleep out of my eyes and peered at my watch. "Isaac, it's nine in the morning!"

"Exactly." He appeared unfazed by my annoyance. "I need help with this playlist. I'm having a party."

I rolled my eyes, gesturing to my bedroom down the hallway. Isaac's parties were not something to get excited about. Themes like 'The Royals of Post-War Britain' and 'Punk Rock Throughout the Ages' along with a staggering amount of alcohol had led me to be not so keen on Isaac's get-togethers, and as much as I didn't mind helping with the preparations I wasn't going to get too much involved. "So what's the theme of this one?"

"Hawaiian Beach," Isaac replied, moving my jumper that was slung over my desk chair lazily, "An idea of Henry's. Pretty impressive, actually," Isaac added, "seeing as he is quite the doughnut." 

"Shut up. I like Henry," I reprimanded him, recollecting the geeky rubber-faced boy that had lived as close to Isaac as anyone had,  (remembering that Isaac lived on a cliff-face), and hung onto his every word like a puppy eager to obey his master. I smiled. Isaac was so unaware of how much he meant to everyone around him. I certainly didn't tell him that, and I wasn't planning to. His head was big enough as it was. "So," I began, fingering one of the brown paper bags Isaac had dumped by the door to my room, "What did you bring today?"

As long as Isaac and I had been friends, we had always had our particular jobs. I was the one to sober him up after a party or haul him from inappropriate guys, he was the snack-bringer, or supplier, as we preferred to call it. Isaac looked up from trying to boot up my ancient PC and indicated to the bags. "Help yourself. I bought an iced coffee for the lady, an energy drink for me, and the pastries are for both of us."

I reached into the bag and chucked over the can. "Too many energy drinks are detrimental, you know," I warned him, half-jokily. Isaac eyed me over his impossibly long lashes. 

"Coffee is a stimulant, you are aware, sweetheart."

"It's not the same thing. And I don't appreciate your condescending manner," I added darkly. Isaac winked at me, shaking his long hair back over his shoulders. "If you say so, darling." Isaac banged the keyboard impatiently, his shark-tooth bracelets clinking together like an old ladies' tea set. "Damn it, Alaska," he groaned, looking to me with pleading eyes, "For my sake, as well as yours, please invest in a new computer for next year."

I ignored him. Isaac was what you would call a 'gadget freak', with extra emphasis on the 'freak' part. He had been going on at me to get a new computer for years now, almost as soon as my Dad had found me this one at a junk sale, and eventually I persuaded him I was able to live quite capably without all the latest devices and technologies. I had known Isaac for so long that I had learned to just blank him out, occasionally, when I needed to. "What's in the second bag?" I asked instantaneously, suddenly remembering the other full bag Isaac had dragged through my house earlier. He tore his eyes  away from the humming computer screen, finally beginning to wake up. "Oh, that," he said, like he had forgotten. "Drink. For tonight."

"Tonight?" I almost yelled, reaching up to turn the desk chair around so Isaac was facing me. "Your party is tonight?"

"Yes?" Isaac appeared at my frustration. "Didn't I tell you?"

"No," I growled. "You don't tell me anything, Isaac. What if I'm not free tonight?"

"You'd better be." He leant forward and rumpled my hair playfully. "But who said I invited you?"

"Shut up. You need me there," I reminded him, "Just in case you're planning to get as drunk as you were last time."

"I was only the slightest bit tipsy!" Protested Isaac, "But okay." He gave me a lopsided smile, mirth playing across his features, "You're invited. Unless you've got plans, that is."

I paused, my hand hovering mid-air from flicking through 'Wave-Girl' magazine. "I'm not sure." My mind floated to Connor. His face when I told him to get lost. The sudden anger that radiated off him when that girl had tried, but failed, to flirt with him. The brutality he had rewarded Carter with, despite being two years younger. Somehow I knew something wasn't quite right, but I couldn't bring myself to ponder on it too much. Connor wasn't that type of guy; I knew that he would never do anything to hurt me.

I wanted to see him again. 

There was a desperate, pathetic longing inside of me, completely unexplainable, that gnawed my insides and made me need him. Connor made me feel safe.

"Look," Isaac interrupted my thoughts, "I know you're seeing that guy." I must have frozen, for he added, "Your Dad told me. He can come too, if he wants."

My head snapped up. "I'm not seeing any guy." My voice sounded robotic.

"I'm not an idiot, Alaska." His face was hard, his eyes blocks of ice. A muscle twitched in his jaw. 

"I know. But I'm not seeing him, Isaac."

"So what is he then? A toy boy?" I detected the harshness in his voice. I stared him down, long enough for me to see him bite his tongue and wince at the words he had just said. "You need to let me get on, Isaac. You're not my Dad. Or my brother," I added evenly. That was harsh. Isaac sighed and pulled me onto his lap. He was warm... and rigid. I felt the hard muscles in his arms tense and relax as he pulled me closer. There was no awkwardness between us. We had grown up this way; perfectly moulded to suit each other, our shapes matching together like corresponding puzzle pieces. Isaac was more than my best friend. He was my soul mate.

I felt his breath tickle my ear. His voice was brittle, as if he was clenching his teeth together. "I can't let you get hurt again, Alaska."

I turned my face towards his. "Connor's not going to hurt me, Isaac."

"I want that to be true," breathed Isaac. "I really do. I want you to find the right guy, Alaska. I want you to be happy."

"Connor will make me happy, Isaac."

And as soon as I had uttered those words, the sun streamed through a gap in the curtains, and dappled on Isaac's copper skin. For a moment, I thought I saw a dark shade of hurt pattern his face. Then, when I looked back again, it was gone. 

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