The Devil's Footprint: Book Three of the Devil's Gospel


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2. One

Luciana

 

    I hate this. I hate applying for university, I hate taking tests, I hate going to university interviews. I hate pretending I really, really want to go to University of Bristol, Warwick or Exeter when my first choice is Southampton, close to home – hell, it is my home – or even Brighton would do. I don't want to leave Isaac or Mia, not really, but for crying out loud, I want to do this. I want to be a doctor, I want to save people. But I really hate this political and ridiculous process to get there. I get the fact I have to do a degree, I get the fact I have to interview at the university, I get I have to work fucking hard for five years just to become a junior doctor, I'm prepared to work all damn hours for shit pay for three years as a junior because I want to save lives. But really? I have to pay fuck-tons of Isaac's hard earned money to take an admissions test that could basically ruin me or start my career. Then I have to fund myself for five years of basic slavery. And only then, then do I get to start saving lives.

    I suppose Mum and Dad would be proud of me. I think, or I like to think they would. I remember little things of them, when I was six years old. I remember something about my Mum dying and I know my Dad died before I was even born, but I don't really remember them. Mia and Isaac have told me enough about them, and I've seen tons of pictures, but I  don't know them. I can guess they'd be proud of me - I mean, Isaac and Mia tell me they would be, and I mean, what parents wouldn’t be proud of their child aiming to be a doctor, studying damn hard for it too – whether they finally get there or not

    "How you getting on?" Ryan looks at me from his phone with a small smile.

    "I'm more proactive than you, it looks like, so fine," I smirk.

    "Hey, I'm supporting you, you know!" He puts his hand on his chest in fake hurt and I swipe him with my pen.

    "Supporting me by playing a game? Yeah, course!" I smirk.

    "It's the moral support that counts. Hey, I need to be here all the time," he says and gets back to his game. Just before he does, I lean over and plant a kiss on his cheek. He gives a sly smile and carries on with his game.

    "Shouldn't you be studying for your exams anyway?" I ask.

    He scoffs. "Tomorrow, my love, tomorrow."

    "Fine, your future not mine," I wink and get back to my book. He scowls at me, but gets back to his game anyway. That's the thing that annoys me about Ryan; he doesn’t need to study. He does a bit of cramming the night before and aces everything. Though I suppose, his ambition is to be a nurse, so arguably he doesn't need the high as fuck grades that I do, so it's easier on him.

    "Fuck you," he winks over his book. It's only now that I realise I've been staring at him for a few seconds longer than I'd planned.

    "Do you know what I realised?" I say, glancing at my phone. A text from Isaac blares on the screen: don't forget 4.30 at the park xx.

    "Nope, run outta ideas," Ryan says.

    "Today's the day Dad died, thirteen years ago," I say grimly. I don't even remember him, yet somehow I always feel a bit sad on this day. I remember hearing about it - he died having a heart attack (myocardial infarction, need to remember that one!) while Mum was pregnant with me. Though no one but me, Isaac and Mia know about that. Everyone – including Ryan – thinks I was six years old when he died. Because, technically, I was. But in reality I was still in the womb, growing. Something to do with the Devil making me grow at an advanced rate so he could try and take over the world but it failed and that’s why Mum killed herself. I still don't remember much of this, but yeah, my wonderful life in two minutes. The Devil killed my Mum and Dad technically, and tried to make me help him kill the world. So, to screw with the system, I'm going to become a surgeon.

    But Ryan doesn't know any of this.

    "You okay, Luciana?" Ryan calls to me, making me jump out of my trance. I glance at him, closing my book. "What's up?"

    "I'm done with chemicals for the day, let's go," I pack my stuff and stand up, grabbing his hand and letting him lead me out the library.

    "In all the six years I've known you, Luciana Hart, you have not once skipped studying for your exams," Ryan jokes. I shrug. "I like this new you, it suits you!"

    I elbow him and laugh. "It ain't staying. I got a chemistry exam in a matter of weeks."

    "You'll ace it. No doubt about it, Mrs-Doctor-in-the-making!"

    "I love you," I smile. "Though... my offers should be due any day now. Or probable lack of, anyway. Isaac is probably shitting himself, so is Mia I think."

    "I love you too," he says and squeezes my hand. "You'll be fine. They'll offer you. You're predicted straight As and A stars, Luce, you'll get them."

    "You think? What about yours?" I ask. "What if you don't get the same offers as me?"

    "Southampton or Brighton, babe, it doesn’t matter. I'll see you every weekend, every day off."

    "Hmmm," I worry. It's all that's been on my mind since we both applied. What if we don't end up at the same uni together? We'll be apart. What if he loses sight of me and finds a proper girl that's not got a fucked up secret past?

    "Come on, let's get to the park shall we?" He grabs my hand and drags me with him.

 

    I look out across the small patch of flowers that get planted here on the same two days every year. One for my Dad, the other day for my Mum. All their old friends, family and of course, us. I see the small bunch that I know was laid by my Granddad. He always does it, and he always leaves before any of us gets to see him. I try to think about the last time I saw him, properly. Probably two years ago on my sixteenth birthday. Yeah, typical. Isaac and Mia warned me never to expect much, and I remember them trying to pretend it was because 'it is too hard for him with what happened with Lucifer' but they are so wrong. He's never been interested in me whatsoever. Did he even know about me, before he stumbled in and found me when I was ten? When Isaac and Mia told him the truth about who I was and what really happened?

    "Don't think about it, babe," Ryan whispers. I look up at him and give him a small smile. I want more than anything to tell him the truth, that I'm fucked up, my DNA is probably screwed and a strain that probably any scientist in the world couldn't explain, and the only real reason I want to spend most of my life studying is because my family is kind of related and mixed up with the Devil. The real deal. I haven't seen him since I was six years old, when he inhabited some Scottish guy, but even now, he could be anywhere. His apocalypse rampage as Mia calls it, failed and he's probably been licking his wounds all these years.

    "Sorry, I just..." My voice stops at the thought and image of my Grandad here merely an hour ago, laying these flowers for Robb, my Dad, and mourning his son in law and then making a sharp exit knowing we would be here now in the cold, mourning him all the same. I wonder if he knows I'm awaiting my interviews for medical school, that his only biological family left is going to attempt being a doctor. I wonder if he cares.

    "Hey," Isaac interrupts my thoughts, grabbing me in a hug so tight the oxygen is leaving my body quickly. I wince and grab him back.

    "Hey," I say and let him go. He shakes Ryan's hand as Mia comes bounding into view, late as usual. She hugs both of us just as hard.

    "Got these," Mia holds up a bunch of red tulips. A small joke apparently; Dad hated tulips and the red represents the Devil. A morbid in joke. I didn't really find it funny, but then I didn't know my Dad. I watch her place them down next to ironically, my Grandad's flowers. It's like she knew. Isaac handed out the small cans of beer to each of us. Another tradition people Robb knew did. Today, at whatever time, one of his friends or family would bring the flowers for where they scattered his ashes years ago, and they would have a beer here for him. But four-thirty pm was always reserved for his best friends and his daughter. I didn't actually mind the taste, I can see why he loved it.

    I glance up and see a woman slowly approach, a woman not that much younger than Mia and Isaac to glance at.

    "Who's that?" Ryan asks as she approached, a small smile on her face when Mia and Isaac clocked her. She was wearing a black skirt, black top and black coat. A bunch of white roses in her hand and a can of beer. She knew my Dad.

    "Anna?" Isaac asked as she approached. She gave both of them a hug. "Been ages!"

    "I know, busy, you know?" This Anna glanced at me. "Hey, I'm Anna."

    "Luciana, and this is Ryan," I say and she smiles at both of us. "You knew my Dad?"

    "Yeah, actually," she nods, popping the flowers down on the ground. "Very well."

    I furrow my brows. Why haven't I heard of her before? Isaac and Mia exchange glances and then look back at Anna.

    "We go way back," Anna continues. "Just been living up North for a while and haven't really come back for this day in a while. Thought why not, seeing as I moved back down to Winchester a few months ago."

    I nod, still not getting it, but forgetting it. I'm sure they had plenty of friends I've never even heard of, so it's none of my business. She opens her beer and we all raise them and take a swig out of them, remembering – or in my case, not – remembering my Dad, Robb Hart.

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