If there hadn’t been a pair of sopping wet teenagers standing there in the doorway, Mrs. Kings would have assumed the wind had blown the door open on its own. As unappealing as the teens looked in their currect state, the woman rushed over to them from her previous position by the window and proceeded to throw her arms around the two of them in an uncomfortably wet embrace.
“My God…” she breathed, pulling away and looking back and forth between her son and daughter in amazement. Both of the woman’s children had old twigs and leaves wedged in between sopping wet strands of untidy hair. Both of them were panting for breath so harshly that they had to lean against each other for support.
Audrey and her brother, Dawson, had decided to walk to the neighborhood park to see a baseball game that one of their friends would be playing in. Being as enthusiastic about it as they were, they hadn’t even stopped to notice the ominous storm clouds that had been creeping up on them. While everyone else at the game had cars to drive home in, the siblings had been stuck with getting home the same way that they’d gotten there.
“There’s a tornado warning,” she informed them, smoothing her daughter’s hair to its usual place to get a good look at her face.
“Mom, we just sprinted about a mile in that. I think we figured as much,” Audrey pointed out once she’d caught her breath. She motioned with her head to the window where the lightning was flickering constantly and pouring rain could clearly be seen.
“You guys need to be more observant,” Mrs. Kings accused. The sleek woman walked away from them for a moment to retrieved some fresh, warm towels. “The weather’s been crappy all day.”
“It was worth it though. That was a good game,” Dawson commented as he shook his hair wildly, splashing both his sister and his surroundings with cold water. The action did nothing but earn him a bony elbow to the side. He pealed the soggy shirt he’d been wearing off and removed his socks and shoes, rudely leaving all said items of clothing on the rug in front of the door.
“Well that’s great and all, but I think yourlifeis more important than watching a baseball game outside in tornado-producing weather,” his mom remarked as she returned with the two towels she’d gotten from the bathroom closet. She tossed one to each of them and then turned to head into the kitchen.
“Want some tea?” the mother of two called back as the door shut behind her.
The siblings shouted a similtaneous “yes” in response before heading upstairs to their own rooms to dry off and change.
Audrey began drying her face off and slammed her door shut with her foot. After that, she kicked her flip-flops into her open closet where the rest of her shoes were. She pealed each item of clothing off of her body one by one and hung them on over the edge of her desk so that they could dry before putting them in her laundry basket with the rest of her dirty—albeit dry—clothes. The brunette then dug through her drawers full of neatly folded clothes to find a suitable pair of pajamas to wear. Once she’d dried off and slipped on some warm clothes—gray sweats, a white tank top, and a black tie shirt with sparkly, gray writing on it—she grabbed the same towel she’d used to dry off and wrapped it around her head to dry her hair. The girl sauntered over to the mirror that was attached to the aforementioned dresser and stared at her wrapped-up head with a disapproving look. The little makeup that she’d been wearing was somewhat smudged but being as uncaring as she was, she decided to leave it be. She had no one to impress anyhow.
Once she’d deamed her hair dry enough, threw the towel in the hamper, and combed through her wavy wet locks she made sure she had her cell phone with her and jogged downstairs to the living room. There she saw her brother with a steaming cup in his hands, eyes glued to the TV. On screen there was a commercial, but all that could be heard was a bothersome buzz and a voice that told of which counties currently had warnings issued. It also mentioned what to do in the case of a tornado as the same words being spoken flashed across the screen in a hurry.
Audrey didn’t say anything, but instead continued on into the next room, which happened to be the kitchen. She knew her own pipping hot cup of tea would be waiting there for her on the island.
“Thanks mom,” Audrey spoke up as she took a seat on the tall stool that stood next to the island. She set her phone down beside her and got comfortable where she sat.
“No problem. I started boiling the water before you got home. I figured you’d want something calming after being out in that weather.”
“Yeah. It was already cold out there to begin with. Because, you know, spring decided not to come this year,” she somewhat complained. “The rain only made it worse.”
Spring in southeastern Wisconsin varied from year to year. One spring it could be mild and warm with some showers like a normal spring should be. The next spring could be nothing but snow as if the winter had overstayed its welcome. However, if that were the case, the change from “spring” to summer would be abrupt; going from thirty-degree to seventy-degree weather in a couple of days.
“Don’t get too comfortable, by the way. We’re all going downstairs,” Mrs. Kings informed her daughter. “Dad’s already down there.”
At that, Audrey jumped down from her stool and snatched her phone from the marble countertop, slipping it into the pocket of her sweatpants. She then grabbed her cup of tea and carried it into the living room.
“Daws, we’re going downstairs,” she notified her older brother.
He sighed quietly and lazily stood up from his comfortable position on the couch to put his empty cup of tea in the sink before proceeding down the stairs behind his sister.
Audrey and Dawson, who were only a year apart in age, were both different and alike in many areas. For instance they both had an obsession with staying in shape. However, the younger only participated in one sport, while the older was in as many as he could be. Audrey was more of the brains, while Dawson was the sporty one. Audrey was able to play the piano at an expert level and the cello at an intermediate level, while her brother was barely even able to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on the piano. Dawson got all A’s, B’s, and C’s in high school, while his sister was leaning more towards straight A’s. Their personalities were very different, though they looked very much alike and they got along wonderfully unlike many teenage siblings.
Dawson, a Junior in high school, had always been an incredibly active person. The only time he wasn’t in a sport was when he had an injury. In the fall he played on the school’s varsity soccer team, in the winter he played on the varsity basketball team, and in the spring he was on the one baseball team that they had at Dobee High School. He was usually too busy to do things like the school play or musical, and he wasn’t particularly interested in those things either.
Audrey, a sophomore in high school, was on the varsity volleyball team at school. However, unlike her brother, that was the only one sport that she had any interest in doing. She took piano and cello lessons, got a lead role in the school musical and play, and participated in forensics. The high school student did many extraciricular activities like the drama club without letting her grades slip; she made the high honor role every year, after all.
The two of them traveled leisurely down the stairs until they reached the bottom and stepped foot onto the carpeted floor of the basement. The rather large room smelled of vanilla air freshener, since their mother had always tried her best to keep the “basement smell” out.
The Kings’ basement looked like any other room in their house, but much bigger. The walls were freshly painted a soft red and the ground was covered with new carpeting that had recently been put in. A flat screen television was pushed up against the wall with an aged, beige sofa facing it. A petite, glass coffee table rested in front of the couch and beside it—also facing the TV—was a matching beige reclining chair. There were four different doors in this basement, all leading to different lacations. One door lead to a long room of shelves that the family filled with spare boxes when they moved in and other things they had packed away. The second door lead to the little laundry room, which was also used as a construction area for the people who had lived there before them. The third door lead to a tiny box for an office—this was Mr. Kings’ office—that held a bulky desk that nearly took up the entire room, a desktop computer, and a fat, leather computer chair. The fourth and final door was simply the one at the top of the stairs that allowed entry in and out of the basement. In the far right corner, which was the least-used part of the basement, was a bar filled with old wines and wine glasses. Beside the bar was a muchly used pool table that stood in front of the door that led to the storage room. The last thing, which was hidden from sight when one just stepped into the basement for the first time, was a tredmil. The walls were cluttered with posters, flags, and banners of favorite movies and sports teams.
To complete everything, there was Mr. Kings reclined in hischair, eyes fixed on the TV. Although this father’s favorite thing to do was to watch TV, he was a well-built man. This mostly had to do with the fact that his second favorite thing to do was work out. The tredmil was not facing the TV on accident, after all. Every day he’d either lift weights in the garage or run on his tredmil after work.
“Hi, dad,” Audrey greeted her father rather cheerfully. Not even she could put her finger on why she was suddenly in a giddy mood. Even though they were under severe weather, she couldn’t bring herself to worry much about it.
“Hey kids,” he responded simply, not going any further as to ask how their days had been or anything. He knew his kids didn’t like telling stories.
“Hey, dad,” Dawson spoke up before plopping down on the couch and kicking his feet up onto the coffee table.
Audrey took a seat beside her brother, placing the blanket knit by her grandmother on her lap to keep warm, and began sipping her tea. She peered over her warm cup at the television and her interest was peeked when she saw that her father had put in some kind of horror movie. Horror movies had always been her favorite genre. She just loved the rush it gave her when a monster or a killer with a chainsaw popped out from nowhere. What she hated about these movies, however, was the idiocy of some of the characters. Whenever a person from a movie such as this one would make a stupid decision, she couldn’t help but put herself in their place and think about how she would have handled those situations better. She wouldn’t let herself be killed as easily as the people in these movies. She often had to remind herself that what was on the screen was fake; just actors and scripts.
The two teenagers and their father gawked wide-eyed at the TV, sometimes even jumping at certain scenes. All was forgotten as they sat in the dark basement, not saying a peep, and watching the disturbing images on the television. That was until about thirty minutes later when Dawson happened to glance around and notice the absence of a family member. “Where’s mom?”
“One of you go upstairs and make sure she didn’t get sucked up by the tornado,” Mr. Kings ordered, flicking his hand toward the stairway that led upstairs.
Dawson glanced at Audrey, and she glanced back. Audrey jerked her head at him, and then Dawson did the same at her. The boy shook his head and the girl sighed huffily before setting her blanket back on the couch and carrying her now-empty cup of tea with her up the stairs. She stumbled blindly up each steps, not wanting to turn on the light and disturb her lazy family’s movie. Once she’d reached the top, she felt for the silver doorhandle and twisted it open, squinting into the too-bright room before her.
“Mom, are you alive?” she called, glancing around the empty room in search.
“In here,” replied the muffled response.
The 15-year-old followed the sound of her mother’s call, which she soon learned was coming from the next room over—the kitchen—where she had been before. Audrey stepped through the doorway and lifted her face to address her mother. She almost turned back around and ran back downstairs to where that warm blanket and disturbing movie was waiting for her.
There stood an all-too-familiar teenage boy. His chestnut hair was almost always a little messy, and was more short than it was long. The boy’s mysterious hooded eyes were the exact color of rust, and if one were to stare into them too long they would swear they had fallen into some sort of trance. His face was beautiful; square in shape and masculine. He was indeed handsome.
The girl who had recently entered the room quickly regained her composure and glided calmly over to put her cup in the sink before turning on her heels to face their company.
“Hi there,” she greeted him in a pleasant voice, forcing a believable smile to shape her lips.
“Hey,” he greeted her as well, taking a small sip of his pipping hot cup of tea, which Mrs. Kings had so thoughtfully made him when he’d arrived. He then put the decorative cup down on the counter and held his arms out for her, but remained seated on the stool.
Without a hint of hesitation the female stepped over to him, standing between his knees, and folded her arms around his neck, pecking him on the lips and smiling what looked to be a sincere smile. If her mother hadn’t been standing right there, she probably would have smacked the smug smirk that rested upon his lips right off into tomorrow.
“What are you doing here?” she asked him, speaking with her eyes rather than her words. They looked dead and unsincere; this is how she told him that her actions were not sincere.
His eyes looked amused—nothing more—as he stared right back into hers. He was sure that if no one was around, this staring contest would have never ended. “I was worried about you guys, and I was home alone anyways, so I decided to stop by,” he explained to her, placing his hands firmly on her hips. He let his head lean forward so that their foreheads met and he closed his eyes at last, breaking the stare.
“Aw, you’re sweet, Ezra,” she praised, grabbed his hands and nearly yanked him off of the stool. “We’re watching a movie downstairs. You should come and watch it with us.”
“Let me finish my tea first.” He pulled his hands gently away from hers and picking up his tea.
“I’m going to go downstairs, now, alright?” Mrs. Kings announced after putting the last of the dishes into the dishwasher. “Audrey, when he’s done with his tea, put it in the dishwasher and start it, please.”
Audrey didn’t acknowledge her mother’s order, but instead hopped up onto the marble counter and watched Ezra take a seat back on the stool. She didn’t look away from him, watching him with unwavering eyes. Once she’d heard the click of the basement door, she let her pretend glad expression fall into that of a cross one.
“Why are you really here?” she interrogated in a tone so dangerous that it could have pierced anyone in the heart. The happy mood she was in earlier had now been soaked up by this male’s very presence.
“Ouch. You don’t want me here?” he asked her with false offense. However, the male continued when he saw the ‘don’t-mess-with-me’ expression that was written upon her features. “I’m here because I know you don’t want me to be,” he stated matter-of-factly. He handed the newly emptied cup to Audrey and nodded toward the dishwasher expectantly.
“Great,” Audrey muttered, snatching the teacup from him and placing it in the dishwasher beside her own and her brother’s from earlier. Once she was done futzing with the dishwasher, she spun around and gave him a very sarcastic-looking smile.
“Let’s go downstairs honey bunny,” she said, her voice like a sweet but lethal poison.
“Alright my little piggy,” he threw back at her, making a rather cute face; he crinkled his nose and eyebrows followed by a pearly white grin.
It was all a game to them to see who would be the first to give into their emotion—the first to snap. They both knew that their feelings were mutual. They knew the whole thing was an act to cover up the truth. The tension between the two of them seemed to radiate off their bodies, but even so the female wrapped one slender arm around his waist, resting her still-damp head on his shoulder.
The duo decended rather ungracefully down the stairs, bumping into the narrow walls with each step. When they’d reached the bottom, Audrey was surprised to see that the lights had been turned on and the TV off. Her mother was crouched in front of the DVD player and taking the movie out, her dad was passed out in his reclining chair with his mouth wide open and his feet kicked up comfortablly, and her brother was in corner by the pool table, picking out a suitable pool stick to use. While Audrey stopped to speak with her mom, Ezra strode over to where Dawson was to play a game of pool.
“Why’d you turn off the movie?” Audrey inquired as she approached her mom. The both of them jerked as a loud snore erupted from Mr. Kings’ throat.
“Because your father obviously wasn’t interested in the movie,” she stopped to look at his sleeping form for emphasis before continuing, “and your brother doesn’t need to be watching disgusting things like that by himself.”
“Mom, he’s a big boy,” Audrey defended, bending back over the couch to crack her back. The girl doubted Dawson would be fazed by the movie. Although there were a few grusome scenes, Audrey was sure he’d seen worse…
“Well you don’t need to be watching stuff like that with Ezra over anyways. I’m sure he doesn’t want to see stuff like that,” Mrs. Kings countered, giving her daughter a warning look, telling the teen that the conversation was over.
Audrey had to stop herself from laughing at such a ridiculous statement. There were instances where she almost told her parents everything—all the things she’d been hiding from them for years. There were times where she just wanted to laugh and shake her head, feeling utterly hopeless because of how foolishly naïve they were. She wouldn’t make that same mistake again. There was only one instance in her life when she’d told anyone her darkest secret.
The female’s nails dug deep into her own gentle hands, making little scarlet cresants in her skin. She inhaled as deeply as she could and absolutely loved the relief it gave her. However, it didn’t calm her enough to sit about and do nothing. Even still, she couldn’t stand this feeling that Ezra gave her; the feeling of being trapped. Knowing that there was not a single way to escape the one thing she hated more than anything in this world made her heart clench with anger. She had a burning desire to control her own life, but she felt as if the life that shewantedto call her own was not even in her control. She couldtryto run all she wanted but she knew full well that in the end, it would only create more problems. She couldn’t run away from him...shewouldn’t. She refused to show such weakness in front of that monster. She knew it’d only bring him joy and and sadistic pleasure from seeing her struggle and fight her way out of their situation.
Irritation and frustration began to take over the girl, and there was only one thing she wanted to do when she was furious like this. She popped up from her up-side-down position on the couch and nearly stomped over to the corner of the room where Ezra was. She saw the male she was seeking about to hit the cue ball with the designer pool stick he was holding. Her brother was leaning up against the wall with his pool stick in hand, watching as Ezra made his move.
“What’s the matter?” Ezra asked her with concern evident in his voice. He searched for any clue, any emotion at all. As always, the so-called hint he received was an unreadable expression.
Audrey stood on her tiptoes so that her mouth was level with the the male’s ear. Her gaze flickered over to her brother and it stayed there as she whispered something in Ezra’s ear. She hoped her brother would read her lips; after all, she intentionally made no effort to hide what she was saying from him. Her stare then changed over to Ezra, who was staring down at the pool table as he listened carefully with his lips curved up slightly—that smug smirk seeming to be attached to his lips for eternity.
Her greenish-blue eyes continued to switch back and forth between her brother and Ezra, making sure to watching both of their reactions. When she saw her older sibling nod at her knowingly, she was so relived that it felt as if the beating organ in her chest had been released from a deadly grip.
Quicker than Audrey could have even processed what was happening, Ezra turned toward her and encircled his arms around her waist, pulling her body flush against his. He leaned down so that his lips were right against her ear.
“Wait until your parents go to sleep,” he whispered seductively in her ear, breathing hotly against her ear. He let his tongue flick out against her ear. He then backed away, releasing her from his entangled grasp.
“That shouldn’t be a problem. They’re old and they go to sleep early,” she said brightly, smiling up at him cheerfully as if nothing had happened. She turned toward her brother and her expression darked considerably.
Every part of her body itched and crawled and burned. She wanted to scratch and claw at her skin, to scratch the part where his tongue had traced her ear. That monster’s touch was revolting, repulsive. It gave the sensation that acid was eating away at her, or like he held some type of conagious illness that would have had her dead in hours. His touch didn’t physically do harm to her, no, but her feelings toward him did more damage than anything. Everytime physical contact was made between the two of them, Audrey felt as ink was seeping into her blood, dying the red liquid black. She felt as if the fresh oxygen around had been polluted with a heavy, smokey gray gas whenever he entered the room.
“That’s good then. The sooner the better.” Ezra winked at the repulsed girl before him, but then turned back toward the pool table with a scowl on his face.
As the game of pool continued, Audrey sat on the ground beside the pool table and closed her eyes. She listened to the voices and sounds that came from the pool table as she waited. Although her exterior looked patient, the girl was itching to get up and leave her home. When she had her mind set on doing something else she wasn’t going to give up on it. She had never been one to go back on her word. When the sound of her father’s low snores came to an abrupt stop, she glanced over to see her mom shaking her father’s shoulder harshly.
“I’m going to my room,” Audrey decided, and then announced as she rose to her feet and began toward the stairs without another word.
“While you have company? Are you going to bed already?” her mom asked, even though she knew she wasn’t the one being talk to.
Audrey paused when she got to the foot of the stairs. “Yeah, running through that storm made me tired. And besides, they’re playing pool anyways.”
“Alright. Goodnight then, hon. Your father and I are probably going to go to bed soon too. He obviously had a long day,” she pointed back at Mrs. Kings with her thumb. The man was currently standing up and heading toward the stairs as well.
“Night everyone,” Audrey called out to the currently inhabitants of the basement as she began walking up the stairs to the main floor.