Complicated

Cataline Mercier Wintour had spent her whole life training to be an Olympic athlete, but when a tragic accident lands her and her party-oriented sister, Carson, in Paris, France, Cat can't help but give up on her dreams. But when she unexpectedly runs into striking, young, Frenchman Archer Corbett Henri Demonte, her entire world is flipped upside down. When Archer's secret is put into Cat's hands, things start happening and she has to make a choice between life and love. Is this someone she would die for? Will she be able to love again? It's complicated...

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1. Chapter 1

It is never easy to recover from tragedy, to be forced onto a path you never wanted to take. It's the life experiences we have that shape who we are and who we become. Trying to regain stability and let your walls down after a loss, may quite possibly be one of the hardest things a person ever has to do. The fear of letting yourself again only to have it be pulled away from you...again, is enough for anyone to shut themselves in and never come out.

I felt hands grip my shoulders tightly, pulling me back to reality. My eyes shot open as I suddenly became aware of the pressure building inside my chest. I pushed myself upward; my head breaking through the water, as I inhaled deeply; ny lungs filling with air. I watched as my sister’s strawberry-blonde hair popped up from the water.

“Seven minutes.” She gasped, breathing heavily. I smiled to myself, satisfactorily, forgetting my thoughts.

“Gran’s been looking for you. Get dressed and go to the restaurant.” Carson sighed as she pulled herself out of the water and tied her wet hair into a bun, as she walked away. I sighed deeply as I shut my eyes and let my body sink back under the water.

****

Walking into Gran’s restaurant felt like stepping back in time. The smell of sautéed pork and grilled onions encircled me, stirring memories of childhood summers of running through the kitchen and chasing down my sister. It was the memory of my mother smiling down at me that brought me back to reality with a dull pain in my chest that felt like I'd been shot.

Mon Chaton.” Gran smiled as wrapped in her arms. My body tensed, that was my mother’s nickname for me. I hadn't heard it since she had died.

The decision to send Carson and I to live with our grandparents in Paris was certainly a difficult one. Carson had wanted to stay in Los Angeles and raise me there, at least until we both finished high school. She was known at every club, restaurant, and music venue up and down the California coast. She had groups of friends, boys, and some of the prettiest people in L.A, following her around. There were nights I'd agree to go out with her, even then I was just Carson’s little sister who hung off to the side. I was different from my sister in every way possible. Her strawberry blonde hair framed her tan face and her ocean blue “bedroom eyes” as my mother used to call them. Her long legs and curvy figure made her irresistible. My sister was the definition of beautiful. I wasn't ugly, but I wasn't drop-dead gorgeous like Carson. I was simply average. My chocolate brown hair was completely straight and flat, my long lashes and high cheekbones accented my “almond” shaped eyes and pale, clear skin. My mother had always told me she preferred my eyes to Carson’s, which my mother also shared. I never quite understood why. I'd much rather have eyes that implies a steamy encounter than those that were classified as a nut.

“Hi Gran.” I said softly as I forced a smile and pulled away kissing her lightly on the cheek.

“So, I see your sister found you...at the bottom of the pool again, I presume?” Gran sighed as she twirled a lock of my wet hair around her finger.

“What can I say Gran? Pops did always say I was his ‘petite siréne’” I smiled.

Ever since I was little I had always loved the water and everything about it. I spent hours at our pool and when I got older, I’d go out and spend days lying in the low-tide on my family’s beach front property. My father said I was a fish out of water and I couldn't help but agree with him. For years, Carson had convinced me I was a mermaid in some past life. I joined every watersports team my school offered. I was the nationally ranked in swimming and surfing champion. My whole purpose in life was to compete in the summer olympics. Then, my parents died in a boating accident, I moved to France, and my dream of becoming an Olympic medalist was locked in a box with the rest of my past life.

Chaton.” Gran sighed, taking my hands in hers, “you need to go out. Go make new friends, meet boys, go be a teenager.”

I laughed warmly, finding amusement in my Grandmother’s plea for me to be normal.

“I'm not Carson, Gran. I find comfort in solidarity.” I explained to her.

“Fine, but don't hang around here all day. You're taking up tables and not paying for anything. I have hungry customers and working employees.” Gran insisted as she snapped me with her dish towel. I laughed lightly as I held up my hands in a sign of surrender.

“Alright. Alright. I'm gone.” I said playfully, smiling as I kissed her cheek and walked out the door and into the bustling, busy, streets of Paris.

I wandered down the streets of the city, my eyes scanning over the familiar architecture of the buildings. Nothing about Paris was similar to anything Los Angeles. The people here were pale, cared about culture, and were more real than anyone I had ever met in L.A. The people, if you could even call them that, were more like tall, tan, plastic robots, who only cares about the next episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Nothing here reminded me of California, but everything seemed to remind me of my parents. Eventually, I stumbled into a cozy, quiet, hole-in-the-wall café. I slung my bookbag over the back of my chair and slid into a table in the nook of the wall. I ordered a vanilla lemonade as I pulled out my beaten up, paperback, copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and let myself drift off into the world of my book.

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