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


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3. Two

Luciana

 

    "So...?"

    "So, what?" I ask Ryan with a roll of my eyes.

    "So, who was this Anna woman at your Dad's remembrance thing? You done the digging?"

    I shrug. "Some woman my Dad knew. Apparently they had a thing, but I don't know when or for how long and no, I didn't hear any more than that. I listened in to little bits and pieces but couldn't get much. They're good at keeping secrets."

    "Hmm, wonder if she was his bit on the side," Ryan muses with a laugh. I throw my pillow at him from across the room. "What? We all have a past, Luce!"

    "Fuck you, you imbecile!" I smile.

    "Anything from UCAS yet?"

    "Nothing," I sigh. "It's been a few days, Ryan, I probably have no hope in holy hell."

    "Don't be like that. You got every chance going; you’re smart, hell you get straight As and hell you’re good looking…”

    “Ryan, that doesn’t help!” I giggle, batting his hand from my chin. “I don’t know, I just have a very bad feeling about it!”

    “You would. You wanna know why?”

    “Why?”

    “Because you don’t believe in yourself. You spend so much time worrying about the academic shit, you never spend time worrying about the fact that things could actually work out.”

    “Ryan, that doesn’t make sense, but thanks for trying,” I smile, looking at my lap. Though, he kind of does have a point, hidden down there somewhere. I spend way too much time making sure I have the A grades, or A-star in Southampton’s book and worrying that I come across well at open days and on volunteer work, and how well I’ve done in the test that I’ve forgotten to stop and count my lucky stars and think about how amazing this actually is, whether I get there or not.

    “Email!” he yells, suddenly calling me out of my thoughts and onto my phone, which he’s just checked for mail. I see it suddenly there, ‘two new emails’ lighting up the screen.

    “Shit, this could be it,” I marvel, picking up the phone. I see it, shining there, the email from Southampton University… “It’s from Southampton.”

    “Read it, Lucy,” Ryan smiles, beaming from ear to ear, proud already. What if it’s a no? Then he won’t be so proud, will he? A girlfriend that failed to even get a medicine school interview for Southampton. Just failing alone is bad enough, but for Southampton Uni, which is one of the best (I’m not even smart enough for Oxford or Cambridge, so that’s already a kick in the teeth!) is just even worse.

    I read the email, bracing myself. He’ll be so disappointed… let alone Isaac and Mia, sitting there in the lounge already, chatting over the TV or something. Shit… Isaac spent two hundred quid on the UKCAT test for me, so if I fucked it up enough that I don’t get an interview for Southampton, lord fucking knows what hell there will be to pay. Jesus Christ.

    “Luce, come on,” he urges. I sigh, rolling me eyes and open my phone up. I scan the email for the important information… ‘delighted’, ‘offer’, ‘interview for our Medicine Course’.

    “Holy fuck,” I gasp, only really taking in the keywords. That’s all I need for now I suppose.

    “Tell me it’s good,” he says, standing up from the bed.

    “I got it. I got the interview!” I scream, flying off the bed and into the lounge. Isaac and Mia suddenly look at me, knowing already by my screams. “I got an interview!”

    “Holy shit!” Isaac smiles, embracing me tightly. “Well done!”

    “Where for, sweet?” Mia asks.

    “Southampton. South fucking Hampton want to interview me!” I cry, relieved more than words could actually say.

    “When?”

   “Next Monday!” I smile, holding the email in front of them.

   “Above average UKCAT score,” Mia marvels. “Told you you’d do it, you bloody brilliant girl. Come here!” She grabs me a little too tightly, restricting my diaphragm – something I’d have to remember now I’m being interviewed for medicine school – and croons over me. I suppose to her I’m practically her daughter; she’s known me since I was born, well, six years old. She’s brought me up since Mum died and I got rid of the Devil’s hold on my body. Isaac is like my Dad, again, brought me up since then, known me since I was born. I’m practically their child, except for the part where they’re married and had me together. But whatever. They must be as proud as any normal parent to a normal child would be. Except I’m an orphan, technically, biologically and they are my adoptive parents so to speak. The system thinks that anyhow, but we know the truth. And now the child they practically had is going to be interviewed for medicine school at a top university. Shit. I am good. The statistics have always been against me; a child fucked over by dead parents, adoptive parents and a psychological issue far too deep for any counsellor. I’ve been on antidepressants since I was sixteen and nothing to really gain except my education. I’m truly one in a fuckton of fucked up kids. But I did it. And I will do it.

 

    I smile at the computer; four interviews. Though all next week, so that’ll be tough. But get them all done at the same time, I suppose.

    “Your Mum and Dad would be so proud, Luciana,” Isaac mentions as he walks by. “Don’t worry about getting there, we’ll go together, the three of us, make days of it all.”

    I smile. “I’m so nervous! What if I get it wrong, or do something wrong?”

    “Don’t panic. We’ve been through it all. It’ll be a breeze, I promise. You’re made for this. You’re made to be a good doctor, and you’ll get it. You’ve worked amazingly well for this, if you want it, you’ll get it. Just for the love of God don’t use the word ‘passion’. You know they warned against that!”

    I laugh. “I’ll go in there, a big smile on my face and tell them that my passion is to be a passionate doctor. My passion is medicine and nothing but!”

    “You do that, you’ll be paying me back the money I’ve put into this, Mrs!” Isaac winks at me and ruffles my hair. “As your Dad would say… you’ll knock it out the park.”

    I smile and get back to the computer, spying the picture of my Mum and Dad on the side of the screen. Their wedding day, looking absolutely smitten with each other as they danced together. A lifetime ago for me, before I was even conceived, but probably only yesterday for Isaac and Mia. It’s amazing, looking at old photos of them, two people I know of, have met once in a distant past, yet knowing that I should know them, that they should be here parenting me, but yet because of one… person or demon, whatever, they’re not. I’ve never known them; I’ve barely met them. I’ve heard of them, heard stories, seen videos, photos but I only know of stuff other people have told me. I should have my own memories, my own photos and it should technically be Dad running me up and down to Universities, the three of us; Mum, Dad, me going to open days and them being the proud parents standing at the back of the Medicine talk, not Isaac and Mia playing that role.

    I sigh and click on the link. I need to research stuff, instead of sitting here thinking about what could have been if it wasn’t for the damn Devil.

    It’s when I click on the Sky News website to see another mass shooting in somewhere in the USA that my phone rings. I sigh and see it’s Ryan.

    “You pick the worst damn time to phone, you know that right?” I answer with a smile in my voice. I hear him smirk and clear his throat

    “I formally apologise to thee, Luciana Hart, for interrupting your probable study time, however, this phone call is of the upmost of importance,” he says. I giggle.

    “Fine, I suppose I can give you a few minutes of my time.”

    “I need you to get Isaac and Mia to bring you to the park,” he says.

    I furrow my brow. “Why?” 

    “Because I need you to see something. Just come to the usual place and I’ll show you,” Ryan says.

    I sigh. “You realise I’m in the middle of studying, right?”

    “Luciana Hart, you can take a couple of hours out, and this is so important. Please? If you don’t turn up in half an hour, I’ll phone Isaac and tell him he has to bring you. Kicking and screaming if need be. And I know he’ll oblige, as your adopted father type and whatnot, and when I tell him he’ll oblige me,” he says with what I can see in my mind as his cheeky grin. Little shit.

    “And how do you know he’ll oblige, huh, Ryan?” I ask.

    “Cause I have something to show you, and when I tell him what it is, he’ll drag you. I promise you that. Now just do it, Luce,” he says. “For me. Two hours tops, then you can get back to interview prep. I know more than anyone – apart from you – how important it is, so I’m not going to keep you. Just please come to the park.”

    “Fine. Two hours, and then I swear to God I’m going to murder you if I don’t get prepped for my interview tomorrow.”

    “You’ll thank me, trust me,” he beams down the phone and I hang up.

 

    I stare at the heart on the ground; made of roses. It’s the single biggest thing I’ve seen drawn, made or put on the floor to be fair. Must’ve taken him hours and tons of money to make.

    “What the hell are you doing, Ryan?” I ask.

    He smiles at me, then glances at Mia and Isaac behind me. I glance back and see Mia’s eyes glinting and a smile across her face. Oh god, whatever this is, she’s in it too.

    “I wanted to show you this, Luce,” Ryan says, stepping inside the rose heart. “And I know you’re going to ask why, so let me tell you the answer.”

    “You sound like you’re on a TV show, Ryan,” I snort and he laughs.

    “That, that’s what I’m about to talk about. I love you, Luciana. You’re funny, you’re so… well, hot, I know I apologise everyone but she is. You’re kind, caring, loving, and hell, you’re more intelligent than probably every one of us here put together and then some. Hell, you’re interviewing for medicine school tomorrow. Doctor Hart and all that. Shit, Luce, I love you so much.”

    I furrow my eyebrows at him. “Why are you telling me this? Apart from maybe the smart thing, I’m none of those things, you complete imbecile.”

    “So much like her mother,” Isaac whispers to Mia and I glance back at them. They are so in on whatever the hell is going on here.

    “I heard that!” I smile to them, waving my hand and shooing them off.

    “I’m telling you this, Luce, because, well how can I say it without sounding cheesy?” Ryan muses. “I’m telling you this because I would rather it be Doctor Smith than Doctor Hart.”

    I scoff, a smirk rising on my lips. He can’t be can he? We’ve known each other two years, been together basically that long, and now he’s … he’s not is he? I glance around to Mia, the glint still in her eyes. Yeah, she’s known, the entire time. Damn it.

    Then I could be having a pounding heart in my ears and chest for nothing. I could be smiling for nothing. This could be one big fat hoax. A very, very late or early – whichever – April Fool’s joke. He could be asking me to be his date for the sixth form ball before I leave for hopefully med school. He could be asking me to reconsider my favourite uni, or he could even be simply asking me to promise myself to him, but not actually getting engaged.

    I remember hearing the story of how on Mum’s eighteenth birthday, Dad proposed to her. Asked my Grandad’s blessing and everything. Made a big deal out of it. They got married soon after – mainly because of Lucifer, but hey, whatever – and lived happily ever after. I never really thought it would happen for me. Once I set my mind to medicine and being a doctor, I never really thought about romance and marriage and kids. I never thought I would find the kind of fairy tale ending Mum and Dad had. I never thought about it, I never thought I would find someone I’d heard about, the way Dad is spoken about.

    “Miss Luciana Hart,” Ryan says, smiling away at me. I watch him bend down on one knee in the middle of the heart made out of roses on the park grass, a box coming out into his hand.

    “Holy shit,” I mutter, just enough for Mia to giggle behind me. Damn it. Thought that was silent.

    “Would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?” he finishes, opening the box in his hand. I can see the diamond glinting away at me in the sun, showing me the fact he’s truly doing this. Really asking me to marry him. What the bloody hell? How is this for real?

    “You’re kidding me, right?” I ask quietly, moving into the middle opposite him.

    “Does this bloody ring not say it enough?” he smirks, staying on the ground.

    I giggle, putting my hand on his face. “Of course I’ll marry you, you idiot. Get up!” His smile brightens to his shining blue eyes, making me smile myself even more as he takes the ring and throws the box to the floor. He puts the ring on my finger and I pull him up and throw my arms around him, his lips finding mine instantly. I find myself giggling, looking behind me to Mia and Isaac, both smiling to each other.

    “This better mean I’m getting good fortune tomorrow too by the way!” I joke, staring at the actual big diamond on my finger, wondering if this is how good Mum felt when Dad proposed to her all those years ago, merely a few hours before her fortune turned and the Devil waltzed into her life.

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