“Don’t underestimate the allure of darkness. Even the purest hearts are drawn to it." - Klaus


2. Chapter 1

Noises of striking matches from various spots in the dining room shuddered through my body, goose bumps scattering across my skin. KFC will have me if they saw my skin… I gently chuckled under my breath as the familiar voice echoed through my mind, my body freezing itself to the floor. I could see myself again from across the room, little lost girl surrounded by so much warmth yet still feeling cold and empty. I sucked what I assumed was my soul back into my body giving it life again, escaping the dark depths of my mind and bringing myself back into reality. 
I wandered down the passage leading to the kitchen. Mum, glass of red tight in her grip dressed like a 17 year old, watched as Jack carved the turkey. 
I let go of a defeated sigh, seeing my mum acting like she was with a stranger … someone that was standing in my dad’s place, replacing him. 
“Its alright kiddo, there will be a new one next week.” 
I turned, a tiny smile playing on the corner of my lips as I gazed up at Ashton. I let my eyes fall back on my mum remembering back to all the Christmas’ that we had enjoyed as a family. 
Christmas' full of laughter, full of smiles, full of happiness. A natural presences he brought wherever he went.
“Grandma!” I heard Catherine screaming happily from down the hall once again tearing my attention out of my mind.
Dammit, Emilia! Stop doing that! I scolded my mind.
I always thought to much, read too much into things. It was my downfall, my weakness. So gullible. 
My eyes remained on my mum who was now rolling her eyes, pulling down her red dress as she stood. She gently placed the glass on the counter, huffing profanities under her breath as she stormed out to which I shortly followed.
I leaned against the wooden banister keeping my eyes to the ground letting the two talk for a moment, grandma being all too nice to her daughter. 
“Emilia, darling.” She chimed after a short moment.
The old woman’s arms fling up and around me as I spoke, engulfing my body in a tight hug. Her strong perfume invaded my senses, soft mutters flowing into my ears. I had missed her dearly. She sighed happily and I could see the tears collecting in her eyes as she smiled. Nanna took my hand tightly, almost putting her weight into it supporting herself. We walked down the passage entering the kitchen filled with delicious food. 
Jack dropped his knife quickly, dashing over to hug the woman beside me. She seemed shocked by his forward nature as he gave her a quick hug. 
“Wonderful to meet you son, I’m Diana.” 
Grandma’s laugh filled the kitchen as she and Jack started speaking. I was a little surprised she had taken to him so well, but that was her nature. Never judging.

As we sat down to dinner I let my mind wonder off once again looking at the empty chair at the foot of the table. My father’s chair. I pictured him there, smiling and happy watching us be together. Previous memories flooded back, I caught myself grinning while taking tiny bites of the food before me, never had I been so smiley. But, as I looked over at the chair my father's image slowly disappeared. I felt terrible for waking him from whatever peace he was in, but my heart wanted to see my dad. It missed him more than everyone knew or even thought.
I removed my attention from that spot upon feeling the darkness enclosing around me again. I focused on my sister and her fiancé. I smiled wildly, heart fluttering as I pictured a life like hers. Would be lovely…I thought, sadness drifting over me once again.
“Where is that Calum boy?” My grandmothers voice tore me from my thoughts.
“Nanna its Christmas day, he’s with his mum.” I giggled. 
“He is a lucky to have you as a sister, Emilia.” 
“I don't know about that, Nanna. I've hardly been fair to him these past few months.”
With her words I looked down to my wrist, a bright coloured bracelet circled my tiny wrist…the one he had given me at my dad’s and his mother’s wedding. I always hated that he got to spend time with my dad, a lot more than me. Especially leading up to his death, one of which I didn’t know about until it was too late.

11pm came all too quickly, as most Christmas’ go everyone was passed out on the sofa by 4 o’clock. I idly wandered down the staircase leaving the warmth of my room. The downstairs passage was ice cold, entering the kitchen the air just became thicker and colder. The fluffy rug placed at the foot of the fridge provide my bare feet an escape from the harsh tiled floor. Opening the fridge, light streaming out, I searched for something to sooth the grumble generating in the pit of my stomach. Leftover turkey slices we packed inside a Tupperware container alongside the salad items. I took out the container, lettuce, cucumber and a tomato letting it rest on the counter before hopping across the floor to find the bread in the pantry.
I made my sandwiches, cutting them into four before putting all the contents back where they were found. I propped my body up on the marble counter staring out into the country side beyond our back garden. The moon shone from above, its light barely illuminating the fields. Everything was still, and bitterly cold, the silence surrounding my house bothered me but I kept my eyes locked on the dales, searching as I consumed small bites of my sandwich.
I proceeded back up the stairs, my body being greeted by warmth. I stripped my bed of one of the blankets wrapping it around my shoulders and lower body before lifting myself up onto the window sill. The sight hadn’t changed, still gloomy and morbid as before.
A sudden shiver vibrated through my body leaving my skin in goose bumps as I pressed my palm flat against the glass. Condensation formed almost immediately around the skin, my palm growing sweaty from the collection beneath it. I rested my cheek against the cool glass breathing heavily in and out letting my eye lids close and my heart beat soften as I drifted off into my mind.



I fiddled with the loose strip of golden ribbon that was hanging off of the square box. The street was empty, only sounds coming from chirping birds and my heavy footsteps. My breathing increased as the blue door came into view. Calum's house always made me nervous, as did his reaction to my presence. I hadn't really been all that pleasant towards him and his family since my dad’s funeral. Hilary had mentioned he didn't deserve my forgiveness, he hadn't lost a father twice. But still, I felt terrible for treating them so poorly. 

I pulled my fist into a ball, knocking it against the door. A few moments past before I heard a clicking coming from behind the navy painted front door. My gaze immediately drifted to the ground, watching the rubber tips of my convers rubbing against each other. 


My head snapped up, blue eyes meeting the deep brown ones before me. Calum cocked his head to the side leaning against the doorframe smugly. He wore a black tank top, bandana wrapped around his head, those biceps he has been working on bulging as he folded is arms. 

"This is for Carol." I finally managed, eyes wandering back to my feet as I handed him the box. 

"Thanks, love." 

I wasn't sure what to say, what to do, or what to think. Calum stood in front of me, completely smug like he normally was seeming to enjoy my uncertain posture. I swallowed hard before looking up at him again. His expression seemed changed now he was looking into my gaze. 

"Calum ... I, I'm sorry ..." I stuttered out. 

My hands flew up in the air, voice catching in lumps inside my throat as I attempted to speak. 

I had lost focus of my surroundings, my mind spinning with apology. A moment passed before large tanned arms wrapped around my shoulders.

"It's alright, Em." He whispered hugging me tightly. 

I let go of a relieved sigh as he rested back against the door frame, same cheeky smile taking over his lips. My lips curled up a little, eyes finally able to look at him without shame. The past few months had been a little rough, whether it was a family gathering or a council meeting, Carol and my mum had always made a scene.
“You’re daydreaming again.”
I sucked in a breath as Calum’s voice knocked me back to where I was standing. I blinked a few times, noticing his bare tanned skin unaffected by the thick coldness that surrounded us. The same icy shiver from previous nights erupted through my body, leaving strong aches at the tips of my fingers.
“Sorry…I tell myself to stop all the time.” I falsely giggled keeping eye contact.
“No worries, Em. Mum’s not in, you wanna hang?”
Calum’s usual cheerful self-had returned in the past moments, a sign of happiness glinting in his pupils. He stepped aside, leading me into the heated passage, although the cold air still chilled my bones.
The house became colder as I walked further in, both of us finally resting in the living room. I sat in the corner of the large blue sofa, legs tight to my chest and chin resting against my knees trying to consume as much of my body heat as possible.
“Do you want a blanket, Em?” Calum asked from across the room.
I scanned his slouched body, tank top and shorts … in winter? I nodded my head, watching as he lifted himself from the chair. I was sure he had given me the biggest blanket he could find, folding it in half before letting it rest over my curled up exterior. I smile slightly, uncomfortable sitting in a very homey position at someone else’s house. I flinched as Calum flopped down beside me, his left arm quickly pulling my wrapped body into his side. I quickly denied his gesture, not feeling at all comfortable, “Cal?”
“C’mon love, you let Ash.”
“That’s different…”
“It isn’t, he’s dating your sister.”
“He … well it’s just different!” I stuttered.
Calum chuckled, ignoring my denial and pulling me into his side once again. This time I gave in, letting myself fall into his hard side. Nothing about my situation felt right but I was getting warmer by the second.
“It isn’t different, look; it looks exactly the same.”
I looked up at Calum as he spoke, my mind beginning to think. Maybe it wasn’t so odd? I thought. I let out a sigh resting my head on his shoulder keeping my eyes on the program before me. The loud music of the Spongebob theme tune brought my sleepy eye lids back up. I began watching the familiar episode noticing Calum was glued to the screen like a small child. I stretched out my legs before lifting myself from the sofa.
“Where you going?” Calum asked a little shocked.
“Best be getting home. Mum will be worried, and she needs help selecting catering companies for the council do next weekend.” I smiled, finally standing up and stretching out my arms.
“You’re tired.” He stated rather abruptly.
“Just because I said sorry doesn’t mean I’m not mad anymore, Calum!” I snapped. “That was uncalled for, I’m sorry.”
“Oh, you mean that or did you just say it?!”
“Sorry for breathing!” I shouted, tossing the blanket back on the sofa and clearing my head of any thoughts of staying. I quickly stormed towards the front door feeling Calum a few steps behind me.
“I’m not your girlfriend, I’m your sister. Don’t try and tell me what to do!” I said before he could grab my arm to pull me back.
“No, Em you aren’t my girlfriend. But, funny old thing, I care about you and its late. Your mum will be fine for one night.” Calum still proceeded in grabbing my wrist, his large hand swallowing mine. “I –I …miss my sister.”
I gasped, realising for the first time how he saw me. I had been keeping my distance, listening to what people had been saying about him and about us. He’s just like Ash… I thought, blinking quickly to rid the tears from my eyes.
“Just stay and we can watch movies and do stuff like we used to, like normal brothers and sisters do.”
“Normal brothers and sisters fight, Calum.” I giggled.
“Yeah, well we aren’t that normal.”
I stepped up to his large frame, giggling before swinging my arms around his waist. He tightly squeezed me to his chest, shaking me a little as I felt my feet lift from the ground.
“I am sorry, Calum. I didn’t mean to treat you so badly, not after all you did.”
“Its alright, it was understandable. That boyfriend of yours on the other hand…”
“I broke up with him after that.” I whispered dropping my head.
“Well good, my friends are way hotter.”
“You’re so gay.”
Calum sniggered at my comment shoving my shoulder playfully. We both wondered into the living room, flopping down on the sofa once again. I cuddled back into the blanket, not feeling so awkward, while Calum fiddled around in the kitchen. A few moments past and he returned with huge bowls of crisps and a bottle of coke.
I giggled, watching Calum sitting back crossing his legs. He flicked through the channels until he settled on one of the Sky Sports channels. I rolled my eyes, rugby, wonderful. Such an Australian, I thought with a smile plastered from ear to ear. Sport was one thing Calum and my father seemed to enjoy doing together, although it hurt a little I let him be. I knew for our friendship to work I would have to push little reminders like this to the side, taking Calum as he was in that moment. After a few short breaths, fighting back my tears, I became content resting my head on the arm of the sofa and snuggling back into the soft blanket letting my eyes return to their previous state of dozing off.

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