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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13. Thursday 13th January 2012

Thursday, 13th January 2012

 

 

 

 

 

  My eyes flash open.

  I’m lying stretched out on the sofa with my head on a cushion in Jack’s lap. For a second I’m disorientated and then it all comes gushing back to me.

  Self-hatred fills me. I bury my face in the cushion and cry, just like I did on that awful day.

  Jack removes his hand from where it was resting on my back and tries to calm me. “Shh.... shh.... Cathy, what’s the matter? Don’t cry, please don’t cry Cathy...”

  “It was me.” I choke out, “I killed her - it was me.”

  “Who, Cathy?” Jack sounds confused, but he tries to hide it from me.

  “Elizabeth.” My voice breaks when I say her name, “Oh, God, Lizzie, I didn’t mean it. I didn’t want her to die.”

  “Of course you didn’t.” Jack pulls me up into a sitting position, “Come on; tell me what happened.”

  He tries to make me look him in the eye, but I can’t so I just stare down at my hands twisting themselves together in my lap. I’ve already told him so much that I may as well tell him this too.

  “My sister, Elizabeth and I were very close. I cared for her a lot when she was young. When I fell from the bridge I disappeared for a few days, I got back to find that Elizabeth had gone.” I choke back more tears.

  “Where did she go?” Jack prompts gently.

  I suck in a breath, “They’d sold her, but they wouldn’t tell me who to. I knew it must be some rich land owner, so I spent years trying to find out where she’d been sent. When I eventually found her I saw how badly they were treating her.

  “I wanted to get out of there, but I didn’t know how, I couldn’t buy her back, because I had no money and I couldn’t just walk out of there with her.”

  Tears creep back into my eyes and I stifle a sob, “I did something terrible, Jack, I didn’t think it through... I... I started a fire.”

  Jack looks slightly shocked, but he wraps his arms around to comfort me, his warmth travels into my cold, shivery body, so I find myself with the strength to continue, “I just wanted to get everyone out of the manor. I thought that if everyone was distracted I would be able to find Elizabeth and sneak out in the chaos. I had it all planned. I knew the routine; where everyone was when. I worked out the best place to start the fire, somewhere that would be noticed, but not cause to too much damage and still let me get to Elizabeth.” I give a hard, humourless laugh, “God, I had the mind of a criminal.”

  “What went wrong?”

  “Is it that obvious?” Jack just shrugs, so I sigh, “A lot of things went wrong. Pretty much everything that could, did. It started fine, but spread so much quicker than it should have done.” I frown at the memory, “And Elizabeth wasn’t in the one place she usually was. She chose that one day to break her routine. But that’s no excuse; I should have considered that she might be somewhere else.”

  My sobs interrupt my explanation, “She was too close to the fire, Jack. When I got to her she had already collapsed. She died from smoke inhalation before I could get her out.”

  I press my forehead into Jack’s shoulder to stop me breaking down again, “Eleven people died in that fire, twelve if you count Elizabeth. I’m a murderer, an arsonist.”

  Jack, to his credit, doesn’t say anything meaningless like ‘it’s okay’ or ‘everything’s fine’; instead he stays quiet, rocking me gently. It makes me calmer and slowly I relax into a blank, peaceful state: back and forth, back and forth...

  Jack interrupts the silence, “You didn’t mean it.”

  “Jack-”

  “I know I’m not trying to make excuses for you, because what you did was wrong – and mad and stupid – you know that and you don’t need telling. But you didn’t set out to hurt anyone - that I do know. You wanted to save your sister and I get that.”

  I appreciate the honesty, but I don’t think he understands, “Jack, I’ve had to live with that on my conscience for my whole life, and that’s a very long time.”

  “Exactly, you have had a long time to think about it and now you’ve learnt from it.”

  I squeeze my eyes tightly shut, “But all those people...”

  Jack sighs, “Yeah, I know, but they’ve moved on, and now you need to as well. As for Elizabeth, well, it wasn’t really your fault, yes, you started the fire, but she was somewhere else that day and the fire was out of your control.”

  “But-”

  “No, Cathy,” Jack cuts me off with a look, “You’re still only human; you can’t control the fire, you can’t predict the future and you still make mistakes.”

  I fall silent, I lean back again. We stay like that, me in his arms, for a long time. It occurs to me that I’ve known Jack for two days, yet it already feels like so much longer. I turn my head and see a splash of pink light filtering in from the sunrise outside.

  Surprised, I ask, “How long was I out?”

  “Quite a while... maybe six or seven hours.” I have to force myself not to let my mind wonder back to the flashback. Live in the present.

  Suddenly the front door bursts open, “Rise and shine, Cathy! I’m up at the crack of dawn, so I’m getting you up as well.” Chrissie breaks off in surprise as she sees Jack. “Jack?  What are you doing here?” Then she notices my tear-stained face. She comes to her own conclusion and she rounds on Jack angrily, “How dare you make her cry! Out, out now!”

  Jack stands up, “I didn’t-”

  “No excuses, out.” Chrissie’s fuming, though I’m not entirely sure why.

  “Chrissie, just hear him out.”

  But she’s not listening, “What are you doing here? Actually, no, I don’t care - out.”

  Jack holds up his hands in surrender, “Look, I didn’t make Cathy cry, that’s the last thing I’d want to do.”

  “Why? Why do you care?” Chrissie snaps back.

  “Chrissie...” I say again, I’m about to tell her that she’s being a bit harsh, but then I remember that this is exactly how I reacted to finding Jack, so I shut my mouth and watch silently.

  “I don’t want to see Cathy upset, I was only trying to comfort her.” Jack is making his way slowly towards the door under Chrissie glare.

  “Huh, pigs might fly. How did you get in here?” She turns to me, no less angry, “Did you let him in?”

  “Err...” I did, but only after finding him spying on me; “Sort of.”

  Chrissie narrows her eyes, “Sort of? What do you mean ‘sort of’? Did you let him in or not?”

  I bite my lip, “Yes.” Chrissie opens her mouth to say something, so I quickly add, “But only after I found him on my balcony.”

  Jack, who was reaching for the door handle, freezes. Chrissie turns on him with quiet fury; “You were spying on Cathy?” Jack looks like he wants to protest, but thinks better of it and nods. “You... you...” She sounds lost for words, but then she finds a few choice swear words even worse than mine. Irrationally I have the sudden urge to laugh. Jack just winces.

  Chrissie’s head seems to be running along the same lines as mine did, because she asks, “How long were you there?”

  “Erm, a while?”

  I decide it’s time to intervene. “He heard everything.” Jack shoots me a look and I just shrug. But then I feel bad, so I look at him apologetically.

  “Everything, as in everything?” Chrissie sounds doubtful.

  “Yes, everything, as in everything.”

  Unlike me, when I couldn’t find the energy to fight Jack, Chrissie seems to have plenty of battery power left. “You idiot! How dare you listen in our conversation - that was private! More than private – that was for mine and Cathy’s ears only. If I was Cathy, I’d have you locked up.”

  Chrissie turns to me, “You need to get this pervert locked up. Call the police.”

  I shake my head, “No.” Jack and Chrissie both stare at me, in surprise at my blunt response.

  “What?”

  “I said, no, I’m not calling the police.”

  Chrissie looks like her eyes are about to pop out of her head, “Why not? He just-”

  “Yeah, I know; climbed on my balcony and listened in on a conversation that is so private that I’ve never told anyone because I could be taken for secure testing, or something, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. Jack heard what he heard and I can’t go back in time to stop it happening, so we’ll have to work with what we’ve got. Jack knows, so I’m going to keep an eye on him, so he doesn’t go blurting it all out to anyone, but I don’t think he will because I trust him.”

  My speech seems to have stunned them into silence, and, satisfied, I sit back and smile.

 

*

 

  School. Yes, I’m still at school despite everything that’s happened.

  It was Jack’s idea, he told us we had to keep up appearances, plus, we’ve got exams at the end of the year. Well, maybe not me. I’m only going along with it because I don’t want to give Chrissie’s parents anymore reasons to hate me. Chrissie herself would happily have bunked off school with me and she’s only going along with it because I refuse to give her the key to my apartment.

  So Chrissie’s decided that today is a good day to start giving out party invitations. Yes, apparently that’s still happening as well. No prizes for guessing which particular three girls haven’t got invites. I still want to invite Jess, but Jack insists that she’s still the enemy. We eventually get around to discussing it in Chemistry. I turn around to find Jack and Chrissie arguing at the desk behind me.

  “Guilty until proven innocent.”

  “Isn’t it the other way around? Jess is innocent until you can prove she’s guilty.”

  “What more proof do you want? The fact she’s friends with Katrina is proof enough for me.”

  “She’s been avoiding Katrina,” Chrissie points out, “Jack, how else are we going to find out what she knows? We might be able to find out what Katrina’s up to.”

  “Apart from trying to kill Cathy?” He considers it a minute, “How about we spy on her, find out what she’s up to, where she lives...”

  Chrissie’s glaring at him, and I don’t blame her, after all the lectures she’s given him about how immoral spying is.

  Chrissie is tolerating Jack. Just. I’ve told them that they’re both on the same side – mine – so they might as well get along. I get the feeling they are both just doing it for my sake.

  Jack is now my source of calm, so, to Chrissie’s annoyance, he is now spending most of the time with us. I still insist on having Chrissie around too.  The only thing they agree on is how they are not going to let the Devil get to me. And, as nice a thought as it is I can’t help thinking that it’s a bit of a pointless aim.

  You were the one who was determined to not get dragged down to hell, only two weeks ago.  My inner voice makes a good point; I think all the hope has been sucked out of me ever since I started these flashbacks.

  One thing I’m not giving up on though is calling Jess and finding out what the hell is going on.

  “Look, we want to know what’s going on and Jess can tell us. End of conversation.”

  “What happened to better safe than sorry?” But I can see Jack bending a little. He wants to find out as much as me and Chrissie, just not by putting me at risk. Sweet.

  “Cathy, would you please turn around and work with your own group. This is not a social period.” I look over my shoulder to see Mrs Fisher with her arms folded, waiting impatiently. I sigh; we are meant to being doing some experiment with neutralising acids, but its nothing I haven’t seen before. “And get some safety goggles on.”

  I huff and stride over to where the safety goggles are kept in the corner. As soon as Mrs Fisher has hurried away to tell someone else off, I return to Chrissie and Jack’s table, continuing our conversation. “I could just call the number and see. If it really is Jess and she tells me everything I want to know, we can choose whether to believe her or not. If it’s not,” I shrug, “well, it’s only a phone call, what harm can it do?”

  They both consider this, and then nod.

  Jack fold his arms over his chest, but says, “I suppose a phone call can’t hurt.”

  Chrissie looks smug and I grin, “Right, now that that’s settled, I’ll ring tonight.”

  “Tonight?”

  “Well, I’m running a bit short on time as it is; I’ve got to do everything while I still can.”

  The comment reminds everyone of my impending doom and makes us all fall silent again. If I have to take another one of these tense silences I’m going to throw something harder than a cushion.

  I laugh to break the tension, “Maybe it’ll just be some stupid cult thing.”

  Chrissie quickly catches onto my mood, “Yeah, I bet they worship hair-straighteners or maybe their make up bags...”

  We continue to invent crazy situations we could end up in, but beneath the façade we’re all wondering what will really happen when I dial that number.

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