Stairs to Nowhere

Not your average Cinderella story. The locked tower holds in a girl with broken things where her heart should be. And, this tower holds out a girl with a heart as hard as black ice. Smoke creeps up the stairs, and the rising flames between these two are threatening to burn everything that stands in their way. The cause of these flames? Insecurities and one boy. Good luck girls. A Fairy Godmother's wand can't fix this.


4. She has no Idea that I'm Even Here

   Becoming friends only requires a peace treaty; it's harder to become enemies. You always want to give the person another chance.


   "You. Little. SLUT!" Nails raked through my hair, definitely pulling out a chunk or two.

   "Get off of me!" I screamed. I had yanked my head to the side, keeping my hair out of her reach. Her nails caught the light as she arched them through the air and onto my cheek. White hot pain raced through my face, and my hands shot up to cover the bloody scratches. After a mutual second's pause, I shoved her, hard, right in the center of her chest. It sent her stumbling onto the coffee table, which broke seconds later when she landed on its glass top. Shards of it puffed up like one big cloud, and nanoseconds later, it looked like a snowstorm whipping its way through the room. Pieces of it stuck to the walls and furniture, coating everything; including Evelyn. The glass was embedded in her hair and clothing. The thinnest of trickles of blood was running over her collar bone from one of the small cuts on her neck, but there wasn't anything life-threatening that I could see.

   "WHAT IS GOING ON OUT THERE?!" My dear old step-dad screamed from his bedroom. I could practically see his reddened face through the walls, glaring down on us with eyes turning a particular shade of blue that resembled black.

   "This slut pushed me into the coffee table!" Evelyn screamed back. Now, there were times when he would stick up for me, like in the mornings when he fought Evelyn over giving me a ride to school. But, other times, he couldn't be bothered to actually stand up and walk out of his room to see what was happening between his daughter and step-daughter. If we picked our own fights, we finished our own battles.

   "Take it outside then. I don't want any blood on the carpet." As an afterthought he added, "And clean up the glass!"

   I rolled my eyes, reaching out and grabbing Evelyn by the wrist, knowing that I had to catch her off guard to get us both outside without getting scratched.

   "Let go!" She screamed as soon as I had shut the front door. Her voice resembled the highest note that a flute could play; a terrible, terrible sound that burst eardrums. Before she could say anything else, I wrapped a hand around her mouth.

   "Nothing happened between Luke and I." I spoke calmly, trying to reason with the fuming beast. Tossing her head to the side easily dislodged my hand from her lips.

   "I don't believe you." Anybody that saw her right now would cringe from the look of hatred that settled deep within her eyes. It was a look that gave you chills. A look that only mass-murders and terrorists held.

   Neither of us spoke again.

   She walked back to the door and opened it. The impact of her shutting it caused the bushes outside the house to shake. I stood there for a moment, trying to think of what to do. She wasn't going to let this go, and it was the extent to how far she was going to draw this out that scared me. School life will get worse, but it's the 'at home' part that scares me. I didn't know if she was going to ignore me or burn off my hair while I was sleeping.

   That minute or so of thinking didn't give me any more insight to how Evelyn would act other than what I already knew, so I decided to go back inside, make a beeline for my bedroom, and lock all the entrances before checking for bombs.

   But when I tried it, the door was locked.

   My face pulled into a frown.


   Pushing off the door with one hand, I shoved my fists into my coat pockets and walked off the front steps. I didn't bother checking the side and back doors because if she'd locked one, she'd locked them all. I knew that her dad wouldn't get up to get the door for me, and she sure as hell wouldn't unlock the door. So, I was left with a couple of options. Freeze out here and beg for her to let me in, or find the one person who I knew had an extra key to the house. There was no thinking to be done on the subject.


   It took me six minutes exactly to get to the nearest convenience store, and when I got there, I spent another four waiting for the slightly intoxicated employee behind the counter to find a phone book.

   Thanking him, I walked over to the bench that was placed next to the doors and sat down, skimming over the names until I found the one I wanted. Taking out my phone, I typed in the address and pulled up the long list of directions. I sighed and walked over to the counter, placing the phone book on it because the intoxicated man was no longer in sight.

   The bell rang as I opened the door, and I was greeted with a wave of icy air. Dark clouds were beginning to gather as I briskly walked across the gritty parking lot, cringing at the garbage smell that was coming from a nearby dumpster. With a little luck I could make it to where I needed to go without getting rained on. But I've never been that lucky.


   The rain started about half a dozen blocks from their house, and it was pouring. Typical Portland.

   When I was finally standing on their front steps, the wet door made a heavy thudding noise as I knocked. A woman about two inches taller than I opened the door. Her short black bob was perfectly put into place, and her buttoned up sweater didn't have a thread out of place.

   "H-Hi, Mrs. J-Johanna," my greeting came out stuttered as a shiver wracked my body. "Is Luke here?" Mr. and Mrs. Johanna were taking care of Luke and Michael while they were here in America. Calum and Ashton lived with another family a couple streets down.

   "Oh dear! Please, come in, come in!" She quickly grabbed my arms and pulled me inside. Not wanting to track too much mud into her very clean house, I took off my shoes in the entryway while she walked into the other room, coming back with a blanket. She draped it across my shoulders, telling me that Luke was up in his room, not bothering to ask who I was.

   "Up the stairs, last door on your left," she told me. I nodded, thanking her, and began ascending the carpeted stairs. I was a little nervous. It had been a couple of days since Luke took Trevor's place in Anatomy, but he hadn't come to school since that day, so I didn't know how he would react to me randomly showing up at his door.

   Loud music came from Luke's room and the room right across the hallway; which, I assumed was Michael's. It was a battle of how loud they could each have their own music.

   To be honest, I didn't think that Luke could've heard me when I knocked on his door, but sure enough, a couple of seconds later, the door swung open to reveal a very casual looking Luke. His eyes went wide as he saw me, but there was no hesitation when he reached out to grab my arm and pull me into the room with him. He shut the door with his foot and walked over to turn down his music, making Mayday Parade turn from concert volume to background music.

   "Emily, what are you doing here?" His accent sounded sleepy, matching his clothing choices of sweat pants, a white t-shirt, and a gray beanie. His blonde hair fell against his forehead, creating shadows over his light eyes.

   "I need to borrow your key."


Luke's POV:

   "So, she locked you out?"

   Emily nodded. I had grabbed her some jogging bottoms and one of my sweaters, which I'm pretty sure I stole from Michael, and she had changed into them after a lot of hesitation. When she had got done changing, I had thrown her wet clothes into the dryer. The clothes that I'd picked out for her were many sizes too big for her, and I had laughed when she walked back into my room from the bathroom and had to roll the pants five times before she could walk without tripping over the hem.

   "What happened between you two?" I asked. She shrugged.

   "A fight." Her answers were simple and to the point. I knew that she didn't want to be here. None the less I had made her change clothes in fear that she would get sick. And now, we were both awkwardly sitting on my bed, listening to Mayday Parade and occasionally talking. Sometimes her eyes would meet mine, and I savored those moments because she didn't like to look in the direction of anyone associated with Evelyn. And honestly, I didn't blame her. I knew how they treated her. Hell, I was one of them. I had called her a few names before, hit her books out of her hands; but, I was also the only one who watched her. She was fascinated by books. I had caught her a few too many times in the library during lunch not to notice that. Another thing, like anybody who doesn't really know her, at first I thought that her nervous habit was biting the corner of her lip, but it's not when she's nervous that she does that; rather it's her sign of happiness. Her nervous habit is rubbing the back of her ear.

   Imagine my surprise when the girl that I constantly watch, ends up coming in search of me. Even if the richest man on Earth had told me that he'd offered Emily half his riches to come see me, I wouldn't have believed that she'd actually show. I was probably one of her worst nightmares being that, if we were even in the same room together for longer than a class period, Evelyn would literally rip her apart.

   But she had no other choice. So here she is, sitting cross-legged on my bed wearing my probably stolen sweater from Michael, and she has no idea that the real me is sitting here, not the Evelyn engineered version.


   An hour of background music and short, awkward conversations later, I brought Emily her clothes from the dryer. She went back into the bathroom to change, and I grabbed a coat and my keys, waiting outside the bathroom door for her. The door opened, and I spoke without glancing up.


   "For?" I looked up then.

   "For me to take you home."

   "I can walk. The rain stopped."

   "I know, I'm still driving you home." She stood there for a while, contemplating her response.

   "No. Evelyn doesn't need to know that I was here."

   "She won't be home, there's a huge party at Harleigh's house." That part confused, part irritated look from Anatomy reappeared on her face. From all the times I've watched her and her facial expressions, she seemed to save this one mostly for me, and though it wasn't the most flattering of looks to receive, I felt honored that it was rarely used for anyone else.

   "Why aren't you at the party then?" Huge amounts of suspicion lied in thick layers around those words.

   "I'm sick." She paused for another moment. This was something that I'd noticed her doing over a thousand times. She was constantly thinking about things, thinking them through; thinking about the consequences of doing something as scandalous as accepting a ride home from The Luke Hemmings. I don't know how someone who does that much thinking could stay sane with all those thoughts constantly banging around inside her head, but then again, maybe she wasn't sane at all; maybe no one is.

   "It's fine, I can walk. It's really not tha..."

   "No," I interrupted. "I'm driving you." Without another word, I walked down the stairs, standing at the bottom and waiting for her to follow my suit. She shook her head in the 'I'll do it because this idiot won't leave me alone otherwise,' way and walked down the stairs, walking out the door as I held it open for her.


   I pulled the car into park.

   "Just don' know, tell Evelyn about this," I said to her in a fake nervous tone, scratching the back of my neck to add to the mockery. She rolled her eyes, looking straight forward, but I was happy to see that I had earned a small smile from her.

   "Thank you," she said without looking at me. I nodded. She stuffed her hands in her coat pockets and got out of the car, me following a second later.

   She had flipped her hood up in the few seconds that I hadn't been staring at her, and it looked good on her, in that innocent but bad-ass way. She shyly smiled at me as I unlocked the door for her and held it open.

   "Thanks," she mumbled, walking under my arm. I was a good 25 centimeters, or 10 inches, taller than her.

   Her little smile stayed on as she looked me in the eyes one more time and closed the door.

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