Race Against Time


Tablo reader up chevron


Year 17,481 - Planet Propituous

Year 1473 - Planet Earth

    "Go to the bridge!" I yell frantically to my commander. He dodges a high strike and nods. 

    "Yes captain!" He disappears and I sigh in relief, knowing he's safe at least. I kill three more before I notice my watch alarm going off. 

    "Receive!" I yell as I narrowly escape an enemy sword-tip. I can barely hear the message through the static and other noise. 

    "Captain...Lieutenant Donnaleah...can't...he's been injured...requested service..." I freeze as the voice cuts off and I realize what's just been told to me. I jump to avoid a blast from an enemy soldier behind me and disintegrate him into ashes. I transport myself to the field of battle and immediately search for my brother in the elbow-high grass. 

    "Jackson!" I'm frantic, calling his name and running around like a madman. "Jackson!" My breathing is coming in short bursts and I twist around myself one last time, finally spotting him. I sprint over to his side and kneel next to him. He's on his back, staring aimlessly at the smoke-filled sky. He doesn't seem to notice anything happening around him as I look down at him with unshed tears filling my eyes. He finally realizes I'm next to him and he barely turns his head. 

    "Ana," he says weakly. I let go of a sob when he speaks so softly. "I thought you were supposed to be up in the command center? So you wouldn't be around all this fighting stuff," I laugh shakily and grab my brother's hand. 

    "I decided to take a break," I tell him. "See how you were doing, you know?" We both laugh and then are silent for a while. The ground shakes suddenly and Jackson winces in pain. I take that moment and look at him. He's got lacerations all over his face and his suit is ripped in many places, the blood seeping through the already torn fabric, but nothing that should put him in such pain and suffering. 

    "Jackson, what exactly is it that's got you like this?" I ask. "Why aren't you self-healing like normal?" His eyes search for my face and when he finds it I'm mesmerised by the pain that he holds. 

    "They made something new, Ana. Something that kills you from the inside out. They-" he breaks off as his skin suddenly turns sallow and pale. His breathing quickens and I panic. I can't tell what's going on but I can tell it's painful and it's suddenly all too much. My wrath burns like the fires that keep this planet turning and I feel my hands burning red-hot. Jackson suddenly cries out and I look down to his writhing leg to see a path of blood followed by a black insect crawling out. I look back to Jackson, see his face of pure agony, and can't hold back anymore.

    I put my hands, still glowing, over the opening in his leg and brace myself. Bright red light streams from my hands and Jackson screams in pain underneath me. I hear an unheard of squeal and look down to see a strand of onyx streaming from my brother's body. The things get louder and fight my power with uncanny strength, so I urge them out more strongly. The line dwindles and when at last it stops, I hold them together in a tight mass. They struggle against their bonds but I restrain them. I keep them suspended with one hand and produce a line of fire in my other hand. I tentatively hold it close to the dark mass and smile triumphantly when they squeal and try to inch away. I quickly force the fire hotter and press it to the squirming cluster. One high-pitched scream fills the air and then is cut off. The things crumble to dust and are swept away in the breeze. 

    I grin and turn back to Jackson. He's now on his hands and knees breathing roughly. I look closely to his face and see the lacerations closing up. I walk over to him and he holds up a finger to me. I crouch down so the enemies all around us won't spot me and look around. People are still fighting, but we're finally gaining the upper hand. The Propituans fight with a desperation known only to them as they use everything they have to their advantage to make more Contravenians fall. I smile and turn to look at Jackson again. 

    While in the middle of executing my turn, I see the back of a tall, dark haired man and freeze my motions. The man conjures pure energy in the palm of his hand and shoots it at three different Contravenians approaching him. They all fall and he turns to look for his next target. His eyes search the area and they find me within seconds. I smile at him and he dazzles me with my favorite half smile of his. I am lost in the bliss of reminding myself that I am actually married to this man for a few seconds as he tears the sword from his side and rips through more enemies. Then the spell is broken as I see an enemy soldier sneaking up on Daniel's right side. My husband seems blind to the attack and the smile drops from my face. I stand up and the figure shrieks as he realizes he is seen. He flies forward and my eyes go wide. 

    "Daniel!" I scream frantically, shooting a bolt of energy at the soldier. The world seems to slow then as Daniel turns to see what is coming his way and the soldier pulls out a gun quicker than I would've thought possible. He carefully aims it and I scream wordlessly as a powerful black blast blows a hole through Daniel's wide chest. He makes a single gurgling sound and falls to the ground face first. 

    "No!" I yell furiously. I blink a lonely tear from my eye and my hand comes up to cover my mouth. My vision has become tunneled on the body of my husband and I can't seem to shake the feeling of disbelief. He can't be dead, he's not dead. I've fallen to my knees in my state of shock and the grass covers the view of his fallen form. The sky becomes dark as I sit in my solitude of grief and lightning begins to strike the battle field at random. Cries of horror echo through my ears, but I'm lost to the world. I feel someone take my shoulders and a ringing starts up in my ears. Jackson stands in front of me and his mouth moves, though I can't hear him. The world takes on a gray sheen and I am numb to everything as I close my eyes and try to forget everything. That doesn't last very long for the ringing has stopped and I begin to hear again. 

    "Ana! Come back, please!" My brother's voice is frantic and I open my eyes to see him directly in front of me. "Hey! What is going on? Are you doing this?" He gestures to the chaos around us and I begin to feel the same pressure within my body as I often do when I use my powers. "You need to calm down and stop this," Jackson says. "They're all dead, you're going to do damage to the planet if the lightning doesn't stop." I nod my head and deliberately breath slower. The lightning comes to a halt and once it's done, the field is silent. "Who's gone?" I look back to my brother and furrow my eyebrows. "You keep saying he's gone; who is it?" The tears are back except now they fall quickly showing no point in stopping. I've been saying it out loud, the same thought. 

    "He's gone," I say again. "Daniel's gone!" I scream his name and try to stand up to get to him. He stands still as I scream and struggle against his iron hold, trying to get past him. Jackson murmurs soothing words into my ear, but I still sob and scream profanity to the sky. Rain begins to fall and soon we're both soaked, but I'm still shouting. I feel a sharp pain in my neck and immediately fall silent. My limbs become heavy and I fall limp in my brother's arms. 

    "I'm sorry, Ana. We have to go; this planet doesn't need us anymore. And we definitely don't need them asking questions." With his part said, Jackson closes his eyes and we're swept away in the wind he creates, taking us to our next location that will need our help. I haven't seen Kara since before the battle started and worry if she's able to follow us. But as soon as I think of her, I can't help but weep more. The knowledge that she and Jackson still have each other and Daniel is forever lost to me is just too much.

    I've since let the tears dry on my face and let go of most of my memories of that place. Earth has proved to be very accommodating and I don't entirely know why we were summoned here. Soon, my brother and I will find out why this insignificant planet is so important. Little did I know that this planet would create more chaos than all the others combined, and my family is not going to be able to fix the mess they've created by ourselves. 

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...


154 years later

    My first instinct is to run in fear when I hear my partner's name for the last assignment of the year. But when Landon Krauss turns and smiles at me in joy, not dread as I expected, I remain calmly sitting. The bell rings just as our film teacher recites the last group. He groans and quickly speaks as students filter into the hallway.

    "Genres will be announced tomorrow, so be prepared! And if any of you have a problem with your partner, too bad! No switches period!" He smiles as only a teacher can and then begins to get ready for the last period of the day.

    I finish picking up my things and head for the door when I hear someone call my name. I turn in surprise, not recognizing the voice and blush as I come face to face, or face to chest granted my height, with Landon. He's smiling at me, which I find odd, but I can't help but smile back. 

    "Hey," he says. I try to think of something decent to say back.

    "Hey." And there goes my chance at being decent. I turn so I'm facing the door again and walk out, secretly hoping he follows. He does and I squeeze my folder tightly to my chest to suppress the urge to squeal. 

    "So I just wanted you to know," he starts off, "I'm really glad Mr. Thymen put us together." I look at him to see if he's joking but find him still smiling with genuine happiness. I scrunch my eyebrows together in confusion. 

    "Why?" His smile falters and he coughs, as if he's nervous.

    "Well, why not?" He looks offended that I asked. "You're an awesome director, always have the clearest quality to your films, and you're never obnoxious about your obvious skill like some other people are." His little speech has drawn the attention of some passers by and I'm getting uncomfortable with the stares. 

    "Obvious skill?" I question. "More like random luck. I only took this class to get out of that stupid survival skills thing they're pinning everybody with who has an open period." Landon laughs loudly and I stop walking. I glare at his charming smile and he sighs. 

    "Listen," he says, shaking his head, "I'm really looking forward to doing this project with you whether you want to believe that or not. There's just something about you that's got me thinking recently." He pauses and stuffs his hands in his pockets. "I never really noticed you all that much until a couple weeks ago, and I want to get to know you better." He shuffles from foot to foot and the late bell rings, making us both jump.

    "This is my class, so..." I trail off and Landon nods. "I guess I'll see you tomorrow then?" He gives me a weak smile and turns to walk away. He looks so dejected I can't help but call after him. "Landon!" He stops and turns slowly. I take a deep breath and push the words out of my mouth. "Thank you, for earlier." I pause and sigh. "I'm not used to people actually talking to me like I'm a normal person. It just was a shock that you of all people would be first." His smile widens and I grin back at him before turning away and slipping inside to my already started class


    "You're partners with who?" Kara Missimen's overly-ecstatic voice causes the sound on my computer to go bonkers for a couple seconds and I sigh at her enthusiasm.

    "Landon Krauss," I say again. She squeals quickly and then goes silent at my glare.

    "Sorry Ana," she apologizes. "I just got excited for you, that's all. I mean, he's the only guy since - " 

    "Don't say his name, Kara." I cut her off and she nods looking down. 

    "I know, bad memories of places and all. Happens to me too you know." Now I feel bad and wish she wasn't so far away. She's been in Russia for almost a month now and I'm glad she'll be back tomorrow. 

    "It's okay," I say quietly. "To be fair, I'm still pretty excited." Kara grins and claps her hands.  

    "See! There was a reason you told me about him! Plus, I'm your closest friend, there's no way you couldn't tell me." I smile and laugh. "Do you know what genre your film is yet?" I shake my head, causing part of my hair to fall in front of my eyes. 

    "No, that's tomorrow. Usually I know exactly which one I want, you know?" Kara nods. I slip my hair back into place and sigh. "This time I have no idea." 

    "Oh!" Kara claps again and I put my head in my hands. "This is so exciting! Ana's in the game again and she's set her sights on the best choice in the entire Pacific Northwest!" At this we both shake with uncontrollable laughter. Once Kara stops, she grins impishly. "Let's just hope you remember how this all works. Cause if you mess this up, who knows what'll happen." I nod and then hear Jackson walk in the side door.

    "Jackson's back if you want to talk to him for a while." At the mention of my brother's name, Kara's eyes light up. I guess that's what you do when you're in love. And Kara's been in love with Jackson since before we got our first assignment, but he's in love with her too so that helps. That's why they've been together all this time, no matter what's come their way. 

    "I guess I could stand a few minutes with him." I smile at her nonchalance and get up to find him. Walking into the kitchen I find him raiding the fridge as I expected. He spins around with a smile and I'm dumbfounded at how he and I could possibly be related once again. 

    He stands at six feet two inches tall, completely dwarfing me at my height of five feet three inches. Jackson's curly dark blond hair could use a trim and is the complete opposite of my own dark brown hair that's naturally as straight as a stick. And his dark brown eyes and olive toned skin don't even come remotely close to my dark green eyes and radiantly tan skin-tone that never dims even in the dead of winter. 

    "Ana!" he booms before wrapping me in a huge bear hug. I put my arms around him and he lifts me off the floor for a second. He sets me back down and smiles while ruffling my hair. "I've been wondering where you were." 

    "Well obviously I'm going to be hiding in the fridge," I say and he laughs. "Kara's on the computer waiting for you. Just in case you were wondering about that too." His eyes light up and he practically sprints into the other room. I laugh quietly to myself and grab a handful of grapes from the fridge before heading back up to my room. 

    After a while a knock sounds and Jackson walks in. It's unusual for him and Kara to be done talking so soon. They usually go on for at least a few hours; it's been less than one. 

    "So I heard you got your last project in film class." I nod while simultaneously going back to the book I was reading. "Also heard you were assigned a special partner." I chuckle. 

    "If by 'special partner' you mean the one guy I've been attracted to since, " I pause before I say his name. "Well, since before." Jackson has the decency to look down for a moment and then I continue. "If that's what you mean then yes." 

    "Well, I just wanted you to know that however anything turns out," he pauses and nods, "I'll be okay with it. I want you to be happy like that again, Ana." I smile and shake my head a little. 

    "So you really just mean you'd like me to stop being a third wheel." He bursts out laughing at my comment. "I'm going to take that as a yes. Thanks for the support, Jackson." It takes a few moments for him to calm down before he speaks again. 

    "That's not what I mean," he says, coming to sit on the edge of my bed. "You were always just so happy, before. Now all you ever get is content and that's no way to live." I smile and groan.

    "Why is it you choose now to be sentimental?" We both laugh and I shake my head. "I guess it's sweet what you're telling me, though. So thanks for not being a half bad brother." He nods and pats my shin, the closest limb to him.

    "It's what I strive for Ana." He gets up and heads for the door but stops before opening it. "You know," he says slowly, "Kara showed me a picture of Landon."

    "Your point sir," I counter in his pause. His smile widens and he holds both hands in a thumbs up. 

    "My sister has good taste." I roll my eyes and point to the door.

    "Out, now." Jackson opens it and slips into the hall laughing while I sigh and settle back into my book. But he was right about my taste in men, because Landon is one fine specimen of the human race. To more than just me.


    Each class I go through seems ten times longer than normal. I'm nearly going crazy by the time film class rolls around.

    I walk into the room and notice the tables are set up with two chairs instead of three and there are more than normal, making the area seem smaller. I look to the board and read that we're to sit with our partners from here on out so I check if Landon's here yet. He's not, so I select a table that's relatively close to the middle of the room. I see a list on the board that's next to our instructions and swallow nervously. It's the genres and everyone's initials. The decisions haven't been made yet and I don't know whether that makes me happy or more worried. 

    "That face, what can you possibly be thinking about?" I turn at the surprisingly close voice and see Landon claiming the open seat next to me. I smile and look back to the board, discretely avoiding eye contact. 

    "Things," I say quietly. Landon chuckles and we're both silent for a time. I decide to speak up and end the awkward. "So," I say nervously, "I have to say that for the first time all semester," I stop. Do I really want to tell him this? I don't know, maybe he doesn't feel the same way he did yesterday...

    "Yeah?" Landon shakes me from my thoughts and urges me on, so I take a deep breath and continue. 

    "Well, I'm not completely sure which genre I want to get. Usually I know exactly what I want, but I'm just all mixed up for this last project." I feel surprisingly lighter now that it's out and I smile easier. Landon chuckles and I look to him sharply, raising one eyebrow. 

    "No way!" he suddenly exclaims. "I've always wanted to be able to do that!"

    "Do what?" I ask. He points to my head and surprises me by touching my raised eyebrow. I play off my shock by rolling my eyes and removing his hand from my face. "Raising one eyebrow is not that much of a skill." He shakes a finger at me and smiles.

    "Maybe not to you or other people who can do stuff like that." He says it with a dramatic flare that makes me laugh. "This is not something to take lightly! I am in a serious predicament here!" He stops to sigh and throws his hands into the air. "I guess you're just going to have to help me learn." My eyes widen and I scoff.

    "I honestly don't think anyone can learn to raise one eyebrow, Landon." He rolls his eyes while placing both hands on the table. 

    "I refuse to accept defeat," he says calmly. "I will learn even if you don't help me. But," he looks right at me, "I'd rather have you help me than someone else." I open my mouth to respond and the bell chooses that wonderfully inopportune time to ring, forcing my silence. Mr. Thymen stands and grabs a dry erase marker before addressing the class. 

    "Glad to see you all showed up for genres today." We all groan and Thymen chuckles. "You also get actor lists and get to set your scheduled practices." More groaning. "Yes, yes, all fun things. But we only have 47 minutes left so let us begin!"

    "I don't know what I want either," sounds in my ear. I turn to Landon, who winks at me and then looks back to the front. I do the same slowly and tune back in to Thymen, who's riffling through genre types in a basket. 

    "All right," he begins while pulling out the first slip. "Looks like Caster and Jay get animated." The class clowns high five and Thymen pulls another slip free. He goes through the partner list randomly and more genres are voiced. Finally, at the near end, Landon and I get our answer. "This year's tragedy goes to Ana and Landon."

    "Well," Landon says, "that's one I've never had before." I nod my agreement. "Guess we'll just labor through it together." 

    "Okay then!" Thymen's finished the genres and picks up a stack of papers. "I will pass out your scripts and screen-writes, along with the lists of possible actors fit to each genre specifically. The number of actors needed is, of course, at the top of your packets and yes if you must you may use your own personal actors of choice along with the few selected from the drama school." He heaves a sigh and begins handing each group their packet. When he gets to our group, I put our packet in the middle of the table so we can look through it. 

    "Okay, what have we got?" Landon says. Flipping open the first page, I blink at the title.

    " 'My Own Romeo'? If that's implying what I think, this is going to be very annoying." Landon chuckles and we quietly read the storyline, groaning when it is, in fact a futuristic version of Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet'.

    "Well this script should be classified as typical, not tragedy," Landon says. "Good thing we have free reign to make changes as the directors." I nod.

    "Exactly what I was thinking." With those thoughts voiced, we get to work on the script. The first thing we change are the main characters' names, who are now Benjamin and Ameron. Something different than the cliché Romeo and Juliet. The more obvious mistakes are changed and that takes over half the period. We finally come to our actors and pick the allotted number, which is seventeen, dividing up the people nearly even to call tonight. 

    "Speaking of that," Landon turns to face me directly, "I was thinking we should have each other's numbers in case something important comes up and we're not together." He pulls out his phone and waits expectantly. I shake off the initial shock of the fact that Landon Krauss wants my phone number and do the same. Once each of us is done saving the other's number, we get back to work with the little time we have remaining. 

    "Where should we film everything?" I ask and Landon's face lights up. 

    "Where do you film all your stuff?" I raise an eyebrow before answering.

    "I film them all at my house and different places on my property. Why?" 

    "Wait," Landon says, "you film everything there?" I nod and his mouth opens as if he's in shock. "But there's so many different places!" I chuckle and he writes something down in the setting notes. "Okay, we're doing everything there. It's the best place since your scenery and setting are always so good." I shake my head and am about to say something else when I'm cut off by the bell. We both sigh and Landon hands me the packet. "I'd lose it for sure," he explains. 

    "Well we definitely don't want that," I say. He smiles and we pack our things away before standing up. "Guess I'll see you later, then." He nods and his smile nearly sends me into cardiac arrest, so I force myself to breath normally.

    "Yeah," he says quietly. Neither of us move for a few seconds and then one of his friends yells his name. He keeps his eyes on mind while yelling back. "I'm coming, hold on a second!" He nods, as if in silent approval, and then walks to the door, motioning for me to do the same. "I'll walk you to class," he says in answer of my confused expression. I smile and grab my few books as we walk out the door. Landon's friend waits impatiently and looks confused when I stand with them. 

    "Who's she?" His tone isn't friendly and his eyes narrow at my petite form, making me cower behind Landon. 

    "This is Anabelle Donnaleah. She's my partner for the last project in film class." The guy rolls his eyes and Landon punches him in the arm. "I'm walking her to her next period. I'll meet you in the lot, calm down will you?" He puts his hand on my shoulder, casually leading me away from the glaring boy. 

    "I don't want to be a nuisance to you," I say calmly while trying to keep my joy from surfacing due to the unexpected physical contact. Unfortunately, it has to end and my skin is cooler from the ghost of his hand. 

    "Oh, Stan? don't worry, he's not really friendly to many people. Myself included sometimes." He leans in and I can feel his breath on my ear. "He's the type of guy that anger management classes were made for." I laugh and can feel Landon smiling next to me. "Wow," he says quietly.

    "What?" I ask, confused. I turn to look at him and he's staring intently at my face. His crystal blue eyes capture my own gaze and I can't seem to look away. His hand comes up as if to touch my face but he stops and sighs, letting it fall back to his side.

    "Nothing," he says regretfully. We stop and I see my classroom door ahead. "This is your stop," Landon says. 

    "I guess so." We're quiet again and I begin to walk to the door.

    "See you tomorrow?" I smile and nod.

    "Yeah," I say, "I'll be there." He nods back and sticks his hands in his pockets.

    "Can't wait." He half turns to leave and then stops. I stand frozen, unsure of what to do. He suddenly steps closer to me so that we're occupying nearly the same space and bends his head until it's level with my face. Smiling a little he quickly moves to the side and presses his lips to my cheek, leaving them there for a second before pulling back and walking backwards with his eyes on me. He's got that smile on his face, the one I can't help but smile back at, so I do. That moment I smile back is when I realize I might be falling in love with Landon Krauss. And it's one fall I can't save myself from. 




Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...


    So many people say that you can't be in love with someone at seventeen. You're only in lust with them and you might grow to actually love someone when you're like, 25, or something. Maybe that's true, but all I know is that I am not just in lust with Ana. I'm not sure if it's love, but it's definitely somewhere in the middle. She just makes me want to tell the truth and smile and laugh and be myself. Like yesterday when I kissed her before I left. Let's just hope I don't mess things up before anything actually happens.


    For the second time in forever I walk into school feeling happy, hopeful actually. I see my friends clustered around the lockers and head over per-routine. As i nod to them when they see me, Ana walks past them in the opposite direction. I only take a moment to decide before turning around and catching up to her. 

    "Hey!" I call out. "Ana!" She turns and her cheeks flush slightly when she makes eye contact. I slow down until I'm stopped in front of her and smile. "Hi," I state simply.

    "Hi." She says it with reserve, as if it could be the wrong thing to say. I stick my hands in my pockets, shuffling my feet a little before talking again. 

    "So I have a few things I want to say." Ana nods, tucking a stray hair behind her ear. 

    "I do too," she says. "But you go first." 

    "Okay," I say, nervous for what could happen, "first I wanted to tell you that what happened yesterday afternoon," I pause and her eyes look scared so I continue quickly, "was something I am very happy about. I definitely don't want to take it back or anything." She seems to relax so I know I've said the right thing. 

    "You're totally sure?" she asks quietly. I chuckle before answering. 

    "Of course I'm sure." I stop and frown. "Honestly, whenever I've been with you, I feel so much more like myself if that makes any sense at all? I don't know," Ana laughs and I stick my hands in my pockets. "I just know I never have to pretend with you." Ana nods and smiles a little and then frowns just as quickly at something behind me. "What is it?" I ask. 

    "What do you think you're doing?" The voice I once thought to be like a delicate cloud now pounces on me with the likeness of fingers on a chalkboard. I turn to see the bright blue eyes of Tatum Mallory, my ex-girlfriend, burning with anger. 

    "Tatum," I say unenthusiastically. She moves her glare to Ana and I shift so I'm in between them, which seems to make her even more upset. 

    "I asked you a question, Lan. I want my answer." Her use of an abbreviated name annoys me more now than when we were together and my frown deepens. 

    "Tatum, first of all, I've told you too many times not to call me 'Lan'. My name is Landon and a dumb pet name is not going to get me back." Tatum's glare goes icy and this time she addresses Ana.

    "What did you do to him?" she demands. "He and I were going to get back together and now you're tearing us apart!" I laugh and her gaze shifts back to me. 

    "What are you talking about?" I ask. "We were never going to get back together, especially after what happened to break us up in the first place." Tatum is silent for a few seconds and then she marches right up to me, her heels clacking on the floor. She pushes me out of the way and towers over Ana and her tiny frame, which makes me overprotective. She leans down in her face and whispers something that I can't make out. Ana's face is shocked and then it gets a look of courage before she backs up and speaks. 

    "I don't know what crawled up your pants today, Tatum, but you need to get out of my face. I've honestly never talked to you before and whatever happened between you and Landon is between you two. I'd suggest you leave before I call you in for harassing the honor roll president and principal's personal assistant." Tatum's face pales and then she points a manicured fingernail at Ana. 

    "You'd better watch yourself," she says. "This is definitely not over." Ana scoffs and crosses her arms over her chest. 

    "Oh I think it's over," she says. "You're just too stuck up to admit it." Tatum turns on her heel, officially dissed and hurriedly walks away, occasionally looking over her shoulder at us. As soon as she's turned the corner at the end of the hall I sigh and begin walking again, Ana following. 

    "That's why I broke up with her, you know?" Ana smiles at me, but cocks her head.

    "Tatum?" she questions. I nod. "If I did anything that you didn't like..." I shake my head and chuckle. 

    "What you did was perfectly acceptable. By anyone's means." Her smile is back and I stuff my hands in my pockets to keep them from straying. "I'm going to guess that you, among many others, have wanted to tell Tatum off for quite a while."

    "You could say that," she mumbles. We're both quiet for a time and then I decide to ask her what's on my mind before anything else happens. 

    "I have a question," I say quietly, "and I'm not sure what you're going to say." I take a deep breath and she stands next to me, waiting in peace. "Have you ever liked someone in a way that you weren't sure of what to do?" I don't give her time to actually respond before continuing. "I mean, I'm usually really confident in my abilities to figure out what to do. Especially if it's about talking to a person that I have strong feelings for. But whenever I'm around you I just, never know what to say or do so I don't mess up. And I'm always worried that I'm going to say the wrong thing and then you'll hate me or never talk to me again. I know that sounds crazy, but sometimes I think I might be going crazy. But I just don't know exactly how to phrase this, I just really want to go on a date with you." I decide to stop in order to catch my breath and Ana just walks in silence while we both turn the corner into another hallway. I've begun to think she's not going to answer me when she speaks up.

    "I'd like that." She says it so softly that I'm not entirely sure she's said it. 

    "Really?" I ask. She nods her head and looks straight at me. 

    "Yes." I smile so big my cheeks start to hurt and from Ana's smiling face, she's just as excited as I am.


    "Landon!" My older sister's voice is made rougher through the phone. "You never call me anymore! What's up?" I take a deep breath and force the request out of my mouth. 

    "I need some advice, Cecelia." I hear a gasp and then a girly squeal. 

    "Oh my gosh! Are you being for real right now?" I can hear her talking to her roommate. "Amelia! Landon called me for advice! I know! Yes it's the one you think is cute. No, he hasn't told me yet. Hold on." She pauses and then speaks to me again. "What was it that you needed help with?"

    "Well, there's this girl," I say. Cecelia squeals again and then responds to Amelia quietly. 

    "Sorry Amy, he's found someone else." I sigh and try to continue when Cecelia buts in again. "It's not Tatum again, right? Because that girl is not good for you."

    "It's not Tatum. It's-"

    "Who is it?" I sigh and put a hand over my face. 

    "If you'd quit interrupting me and let me finish my statements, I'd tell you." Cecelia sighs herself.

    "Okay, sorry." She says it huffily and I smile to myself. Some things never change. 

    "Anyway," I start again, "her name is Anabelle Donnaleah. She's been in my film class all year and we were partnered to work together on the last project. But the thing is, I just started to really notice her and she's amazing!" Cecelia giggles but stays quiet. "She's beautiful, talented, nothing like Tatum, and I just find it really easy to be around her and talk to her. She doesn't really talk much herself, I mean unless she's around her best friend but she's been on a trip for the last few weeks so she's been really quiet. But I asked her out and I don't know what to do or how to impress her and I just-" 

    "Landon," Cecelia sounds desperate to say something. "I know I promised, but..." she stops and I stay silent so she can continue. "You said her last name was Donnaleah?" 


    "This isn't a Donnaleah like from the crazy wealthy Donnaleah's who own over a fourth of the Pacific Northwest is it?" My mouth drops open in shock. 

    "What?" I ask. 

    "Yeah, they're from really old money, like, back in the 1500s old money." She pauses for a moment and I can practically feel her excitement. "Does she have any other family? Because the people I'm talking about always have a new generation of their family immigrate over here from Scotland when they're really young and the parents somehow always die before the kids are grown. This last generation is a brother and a sister like always. Does Ana have an older brother?" I thought about it and then remembered a very intimidating man who came to pick her up one day and said he was her brother. 

    "Yeah," I say. 

    "Is his name Jackson? Because if it is then she's totally related to the rich ones." 

    "It's Jackson," I say. "So Cecelia, how do you know all this?"

    "when I was a freshman in high school I had to research a royal family. I found this Scottish family, the Donnaleah's. I thought it was cool because I went to school with Jackson Donnaleah so I asked him about his heritage. Turns out he's directly from the line." 

    "Wait, you went to school with Jackson?" There's a pause as Cecelia thinks. 

    "Well, he was three years above me, so a senior at the time, but yeah."

    "How come nobody knows about this?" I wonder out loud. 

    "I'm pretty sure both of them just don't tell people. To make sure they don't have people try to take advantage of them or something. But I do know that the money's real. We had our senior prom at their manor." I must have gasped or something because Cecelia laughs. "Yeah, that's really what they called it. It's massive, the building is more like a castle than a house. We also only used like, three rooms out of them all."

    "What rooms did you use?" I ask, curious about the location. 

    "There was this, like, ballroom place for the main dance. Our dinner was in this huge dining area, I still can't get over how big it was." She pauses and then gasps. "Oh! And we had our after-prom in this totally decked out gaming room place. Literally best prom ever." We're both quiet for a time and then Cecelia speaks again. "Landon?"

    "Yeah," I respond. 

    "How much do you like this girl?" I sigh. "Because you need to like her for her, not for what I just told you."

    "Don't worry," I say, "I still like her for who she is. This just makes things more complicated. I don't want her to think," I stop myself from going on. 

    "You want there to know you genuinely like her." I nod, though my sister can't see me. 

    "Yeah," I say. 

    "Well, just don't bring it up. She'll tell you when she's ready, so don't push the topic."


    "Now," I can hear the smile in Cecelia's voice," have you asked her out yet?" 

    "Yes," I say, remembering earlier today. 

    "Did she say yes?"

    "Yes," I respond, laughing. "We're going out tomorrow night. That's why I called you, since I have no idea what to do. I want to make it perfect, so yeah." I'm rambling so I stop myself there.

    "Alright," Cecelia says. "Let's work some magic!"


    The whole day at school I'm giddy on how tonight will turn out. It's all planned out and to say I'm nervous is a bit of an understatement. it's not even lunch and I can't wait to see what she's up to. 

    'Hey you, what r u doing rn?' Maybe if I'm lucky, I can see her before film class this afternoon. To my surprise, she text back immediately. 

    'Not much, just learning about biomimetics =) hbu?' I smile at her nonchalance of something so complex to be learning about. 

    'Well I was trying to listen to my lecture on Greek mythology, but decided that talking to you would be more fun ;)' I smile and try to be somewhat discrete about dissing the lesson I'm sitting through.

    'More fun than ancient deities? That's too much...'

    ​'You're making it really hard to not bust up laughing in the middle of class rn Miss Donnaleah' I take a deep breath and hold it in, successfully keeping quiet.

    'Well maybe you shouldn't be texting in class then, Mr Krauss'

    'I already know this stuff, don't worry'

    'Oh, so you could teach the class then right?'

    'Absolutely, unfortunately Mrs. Bently won't let me take her job'

    'That is very unfortunate, I'd love to hear you try and teach on Greek mythology =)'

    'Well I could tell you all about it during lunch today, sit with me?' Our banter comes to a halt with my request and I send it quickly so I won't wimp out. 

    'Sure, sounds fun!' Her response makes me want to dance, but I stay calmly seated since the bell hasn't rung yet. 

    'Alright, see you in a few minutes, I'll come to you ;)'

    'See you soon =)' The bell rings and I jump out of my seat, shoving my phone in my back pocket and hurrying out the door. I hope I don't ruin anything before tonight. There's something about Ana, it just calls for perfection, so I hope I don't disappoint. 

Comment Log in or Join Tablo to comment on this chapter...

You might like Rebecca Diane Burgett's other books...