Claimed *Completed*

"I'm already living on borrowed time. When it comes to it, it will be my time to go."

500 years ago Cathy should have died, but she didn't. She was saved by the Devil.

"I agreed to something ... Something that cant have been important then, it seemed too far away.
I'd agreed, after five hundred years, to hand myself over to the Devil, to become his."

Now her time's up, but back in the city where it all started, things are far from over. Cathy finds out that there is more to the Devil than she ever thought. A new boy, a best friend and a deadly enemy, things are about to get complicated...

"No one's that good or bad, it's not that simple, nothing's that black and white. It's more grey."

*Hi, this is my first Movella, so I'd love some feedback and constructive critsism! Thanks :)

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19. Sunday, 16th January 2012

 

Sunday, 16th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

  My phone trills chirpily on the table. I lean over, see the caller and toss the phone back onto the table, ignoring the trilling. After all, I can’t take a call from someone who doesn’t exist.

 “Cathy, where are the tea bags?”

  “The red jar with the spots on.”

  We talk more loudly than usual over the sound of the phone, whose chirpy trilling is starting to become an insistent buzzing, as if it’s becoming impatient. Chrissie has learnt that if I leave the phone unanswered, it’s him. Not that we mention him, it’s like a taboo, an unspoken agreement.

  Jess is sitting in an armchair staring out of the window. It’s still raining, it hasn’t let up since it started yesterday. It seems to reflect everyone’s mood; gloomy. There’s a sense of foreboding in the air, although that might just be because I know what’s coming.

  Jess is minus Will because it’s too much of a reminder of him. Chrissie and Jess took no time in throwing him out when they saw my expression.

  Chrissie interrupts my thoughts by placing a cup of tea down in front of me, and another in front of Jess. She sits down next to me with her own cup. The caller finally gives up and the phone lies still on the table again. Chrissie tries to hide her sigh of relief. Jess turns around, picks up her cup of tea, before putting it back down again and turning abruptly to me.

  “What was that woman called?”

  “What woman?”

  Jess hesitates, “That one that works for MI6, the one who wrote the letter to-” she quickly cuts herself short.  She’d been about to say his name. Jess is having the most trouble with the taboo. Actually, she seems to be having trouble with the whole thing. It seems to have thrown her completely.

  Chrissie casts a worried glance at me. I pick my tea up and take a long sip. It burns my tongue, but I don’t care. I think back to the letter I’ve been trying to forget, and just concentrate on the end of the letter, skipping over its contents.

  “Maya Adams.” Jess thinks about this a minute, frowning. So I ask, “Why do you want to know?”

  “Well... I think I know her.”

  “You what?” Chrissie splashes tea down her white top, but she doesn’t notice - she’s too busy staring at Jess.

  “I think she’s one of the Saved.”

  I put my tea down before rounding on Jess, “You only think to tell us now?”

  Jess shrinks back into her seat, “Look, I only just made the connection. I know that a few of the Saved were working on a case for MI6, the Angel seemed excited about it, but it was all hushed up, so I don’t know anything about it.”

  “Great,” I sigh, lowering myself back on the sofa, “Just great. Is there anyone left that is actually normal? Apart form you.” I add to Chrissie.

  “That depends on your definition of normal, but yeah, somebody has to be.” She gets up and retrieves a cloth from the kitchen to try and clean the tea, “So, this Maya Adams got a team of MI6 agents to spy on you to see if they could find anything. It sounds to me like she’s just being lazy, she could have done it herself, but no, she goes to the trouble of getting MI6 agents. Surely the Saved would make better spies than us ordinary humans?”

  Jess shakes her head, “No, Cathy would be able to tell there was something different. It has to be humans because the Saved are too easily recognised. Maybe not by you, but by Cathy.”

  “Hmm... “ Chrissie purses her lips, “They put a lot of thought into this.”

  Jess shrugs, “If the Angel wants something, the Angel gets it. She wants Cathy, so the Saved are pulling all the stocks out. They all want to get into the Angel’s good books.” The last bit is said with a definite sneer.

  “Sounds like the Angel’s a spoilt brat,”

  I smile; we need more Chrissie’s in the world, just to lighten the mood.

  I’m just contemplating the fact he was actually working for the Angel all along without even realising it, when there is a knock on the door.

  Chrissie jumps up and squeals, “They’re here!”

  “What’s here?” I ask as Chrissie runs to the front door and tugs it open. At the door is a guy holding up two dress maker’s bags and a clip board. Chrissie quickly takes the bags and calls to me, “Cathy! Can you sign this?”

  I look over at Jess, but she looks as confused as me, so I get up and go to the door. The guy hands me a pen and I sign the form. When he’s gone I turn to Chrissie, “What exactly have I just signed for?”

  Chrissie grins and unzips the first of the bags. She pulls out a dress. It’s the type of long elegant dress that looks very out of place in my modern apartment. This one is Victorian and made of beautiful red silk, there’s cream lace detail on the sleeves and a full skirt and petticoats. I look closer; exquisite gold detail has been sewn on top of the fabric, making it glitter in the light.

  “Wow, it’s gorgeous, but... why?

  Chrissie rolls her eyes, “The party, duh.”

  I glance at Jess, from the look on her face I guess she forgot about it too. It’s not like I forgot my birthday was tomorrow, I just forgot that we were having a party. Well, actually, I assumed we weren’t having one. I assumed that Chrissie had forgotten, or at least decided, that, with everything else going on, we weren’t going to have one. I should know Chrissie better than that by now.

  Wow, was it really only a week ago we were planning a party like normal teenagers?

  I must have missed something in the planning, because I don’t remember anything about Victorian dresses.

  “Erm, fancy dress?”

  Chrissie sighs, “I’ve told you all of this, but you probably weren’t listening.” I start to apologise, but Chrissie waves her hand to dismiss it. “I got the idea from your dress. I thought it’d be cool to have it like a fancy dress party with really old fashioned dresses. I’ve always wanted to wear one.”

  I look doubtful, “You’re going to get sixteen year olds to wear those old dresses?”

  Chrissie grins, “You’d be surprised by how many girls have always wanted to try one on. Anyway, it’s just like prom, but too early and with more old fashioned clothes, but everyone likes it. The girls drag along their boyfriends, and voila! The perfect party!”

  I raise my eyebrow and Chrissie puts her hand on her hip, “Come on, we’ve got to get ready for the perfect party, chop-chop.”

  I roll my eyes; nothing comes between Chrissie and her party. For all her talk of the Angel being a spoilt brat, she’s going to get what she wants for this party, no arguments.

  Chrissie smirks at Jess, “You can’t laugh - I’ve got you one too.”

  Jess puts her head in her hands, “Oh no.”

  “It’s not that bad.” Chrissie pulls out a pink gown with a frilly edge, layer upon layer of purple material covering the skirt.

  Jess looks sceptical, but isn’t really horrified by the colour. I have to say that Chrissie got the better deal, but I think that was the point.

  “Come on, what are we all sitting here for? We need to get ready for the ball.”

  “Err, Chrissie, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this place isn’t exactly going to make a great ballroom.”

  She smiles, “Well, it’s a good thing somebody’s thought this all through, because I have gone and got us a Victorian mansion. Come on.”

 

*

 

  As it turns out, Chrissie’s idea of a Victorian mansion is a grand hall in the centre of Toritos that looks like it used to be the centre of the upper-class’ social life, but now it’s gathering dust, rarely touched. The huge house is blocked off, but there is a massive ballroom that can be rented out for parties. Not that many people have balls any more. It’s a shame, really.

  It looks quite good, especially now Chrissie and I have just spent the rest of the day clearing it up. The chandlers look authentic, even if we can’t get up high enough to dust them.

  Jess had been running from shop to shop all afternoon buying all the food Chrissie decides she wants. I put my foot down when she suggested a hog roast.

  It all seems pointless, but it’s very good at keeping my mind occupied, so I’m not complaining.

  A guilty feeling still nags me. I should tell them, I should them that I know it’s tomorrow. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. Chrissie seems too happy to tell – I don’t want to ruin her good mood. Even though I know that, although she puts up a good enough front, Chrissie’s still worrying underneath. She tries to hide it, but I still catch glimpses of it now and again. She’s doing this as a distraction for her as much as she is me. I still don’t want to tell her – it’ll make her worry more.

  And Jess... I don’t know, something stops me telling her, I’m not sure what - my instinct, I guess. It’s stupid, but I’m not giving up on my number one rule just yet. I try to shield my mind from her the best I can. I think I’m getting better at it.

  But the biggest reason I’ve stayed quiet with both of them, is because they’ll only try and think of a plan, jump straight into action; going about trying to stop the inevitable. But it’s inevitable – that’s the point. Even if I did delay it, it will always come back to haunt me. The problem won’t go completely, that’s for sure. I’ll probably still be Claimed one way or the other. It’s like I told Jack, I’ve had my time, way more than my time, so I should go gracefully.

  I don’t know what’s happened to me, all the fight has gone out of me, it’s not normal. Isn’t this the point where I start to realise that I really don’t want to die and I kick into action? Maybe these flashbacks are draining all my energy, like a battery that’s nearly dead.

  “Cathy, put that table over there.”

  I snap out of my thoughts at the sound of Chrissie’s voice. I look over at her on the other side of the hall. She’s pointing at a patch of bare wall not already filled by food tables or chairs. I move it over, “This okay?”

  “A bit to the left,” I move it. “Yeah, there.”

  I cross the room to where she’s standing by a buffet table. I look at the huge clock over the entrance hall and decide it’s time to go.

  “Come on Chrissie, we’ve been here for hours. I’ve told you, it looks great.”

  “Are you sure?”

  I sigh, “Yes, it looks like a Victorian ballroom, but they’re going to lock up soon, so we better get out before we’re locked in.”

  “But...”

  “Chrissie.” She huffs as I drag her by her arm outside the door. She takes one last longing look around the hall before I close the huge wooden front doors. “It’ll be fine, stop worrying.”

  It’s pitch black outside and freezing cold. I tug my jacket around me, pulling out my car keys. Chrissie shivers beside me, but then she freezes. I hear her catch her breath, so I look up. I can’t see anything and I’m about to ask Chrissie what’s wrong when something catches my eye.

  There’s someone standing on the corner of the street, half illuminated by a street light.  A strange feeling spreads through me, a cold white emptiness. White – that registers; white means Saved. The Saved means Katrina, the Angel and trouble. I squint to see who it is, but I can’t tell. When the shadow sees us looking it quickly darts down a dark side street. I see a flash of long blond hair. Katrina.

  “You’ve got a new stalker.”

  “Yeah, I gathered.”

  “Who is it? No, wait, let me guess – Katrina?”

  “Yeap.”

  “So she’s still around.” That’s just what I was thinking, Katina hasn’t really crossed my mind lately, she seems harmless compared to everything else I know is coming. Since the Angel was thrown into the mix, I’ve not really been fazed by Katrina. She obviously wants to make herself seen, just to remind us that she’s still here.

  I sigh and bleep the car open. Why does everything have to be so complicated? There are too many things to keep track of.

  Chrissie hops in the car and I follow her. I arrive outside her house and I’m about to tell her I’ll see her after school tomorrow, when my phone buzzes. I glance down at the screen. It’s a text from an unknown number, unthinkingly, I open it. It’s a good job I stopped the car, because otherwise I might have crashed.

 

Cathy, please hear me out. I’m sorry. I haven’t told them anything, I promise. I just didn’t know how to tell you.

  I’m still Jack, I haven’t changed, I’m not Daniel anymore, he’s my past, like Catherine’s yours. I’m Jack and you’re Cathy, no one else.

  I’m sorry. Please talk to me, you can’t so this alone xx

 

  I just stare at the screen, unable to move.

  Chrissie looks at me worriedly, “What is it?”

  I snap my head up, “Oh, it’s nothing. Junk mail.” I stuff my phone back in my pocket before she can see the message.

  “Hmm...” Chrissie looks unconvinced. I can see she’s about to question me on it, so I interrupt.

  “I’ll see you after school at mine.”

  She frowns, but it has the desired effect, “Why aren’t you going to school?’

  I shrug, “It’s my birthday and there are still things I want to do.”

  Chrissie tuts, “Can I-”

  “Sorry, Chrissie, I think I just need some time to myself.” Chrissie knows as well as I do that alone time is something I could really do without right now, it leaves me with my own thoughts, which isn’t really a great idea. To Chrissie’s credit she doesn’t say anything about it. “Anyway your parents really would kill me this time.”

  She smiles distractedly, “Yeah.”

  “Bye.”

  “See you.”

 

*

 

  Back in my apartment I pull out my phone and reread the message from Jack.

  I wince as I think his name, but I decide it’s time for me to face the truth, I can’t avoid thinking his name forever.

  ‘Jack.” I say it to the empty apartment and my only answer is the hum of the fridge.

  I read the message until I have it memorised, and then I hit the delete button. A caption appears on the screen, Are you sure you want to delete this message? Am I? I don’t know; I’m still mad at Jack. He didn’t tell me. Granted, it’s not something you can just blurt out, but neither is telling someone that you’ve lived five hundred years and I managed it.

  But he said he’s not told them anything. How can I trust him? How can I believe it after he didn’t tell me? It’s all very well saying sorry, but there’s no point if he doesn’t mean it. He was using me, and there’s no way around it.

  I don’t know who he is anymore. He can say he’s Jack and that Daniel is his past, but he’s not. I’m Cathy, but I can never be just Cathy. My past is always there, like it’s casting a shadow over everything I do. You can never out run your past, like you can never out run your shadow. Catherine is still there, inside me. Daniel will still be inside him, he hasn’t even had the chance to out run him yet.

  No, Jack is his new name, his new life, but not a totally new him. Daniel is there, whether he knows it or not.

  As for doing this alone - what does he think I’ve been doing for the last five hundred years? I’ve always done things alone, and I always will.

  I still have Chrissie, but I haven’t told her...

  I look back at the phone screen.

  Are you sure you want to delete the message?

  My anger at Jack is still there, but less biting than before, like I’m starting to thaw.

  No, I won’t let myself.

  I press yes.

  Deleted.

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