Authors: Shannon Dermott
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction
Stepping outside onto the stairs that were attached to the side plane, the first thing that hit me was the impressive wall of heat. Solid humidity filled my lungs making it hard to breathe. A gentle hand lightly pressed the center of my back, egging me forward. I turned to see Tom.
Taking another breath of heated air, I descended to the ground wondering how it was so incredibly hot here and still cool spring back home. Once on the ground, I looked around to see wide open space and lush covered hills. To my right, I saw the clear ocean water as blue as Luke’s eyes, and bordered with sand and foam.
I stood staring off into the depths, nervous at the prospect of meeting my grandfather, the rock star. How surreal was that? My mother said that he was off touring and according to his band’s website that was true. The possibility of meeting the man, my one and only living relative other than my mom, was more like a dream or maybe even a nightmare.
“It’s going to be fine,” Luke said in my ear, wrapping an arm lightly around my waist gazing out.
Looking up, Luke looked as if he belonged in this tropical environment. Unable to stop myself, I reached up and pushed back some of his blond curls so that the uninhibited sun could play off his beautiful eyes. He flashed me a grin, and I smiled back at him.
“What are we waiting for?” Maggie said, strolling up in time to break the moment we had.
Luke’s arm left my waist. “I’m going to help get the bags,” he said.
Raising my hand to shield my eyes, I looked around. A small square building stood nearby. Not knowing what else to do, I headed in that direction. I shed my sweatshirt but even with that off, my skin burned with the heat of the day.
My mind was clouded with the reality of my life. So much so, I didn’t realize when I opened the door to the tiny building the size of a large shed, that all my friends flanked me. In fact, I looked around at them wondering where they had come from before turning my face back to the caramel skinned woman. She stood behind a counter with nothing so much as a piece of paper or a computer on it. In fact, taking a quick sweep of the room, the place looked almost abandoned except for the exceptional woman who stood before us. Tawny perceptive eyes sat in her perfect face. She was stunning. I knew the boys behind me would be gawking.
“Well, hello,” she said. Her voice was full of warmth like the island breeze. She sounded like the beautiful women on the commercial talking about the benefits of a Caribbean vacation. It was lyrical and I had to admit to being slightly jealous of just how beautiful the woman was. “We’ve been awaiting you.”
From under the counter she proffered a set of keys. Looking right at me, she said, “Mr. Starr wants you to have the best time.” Her stare told me she knew I was his granddaughter but she didn’t say it. I hadn’t introduced myself. However, I was the leader of the pack inside this place. Maybe she just assumed.
“The keys to the house and the SUV are on this ring,” she said. “Just take the road to the top of the hill. The only house at the top is yours for however long you need.” She paused glancing over us. Then centering her eyes back to me, she said, “All your needs can be found in the little tourist town you’ll pass along the way. Mr. Starr invites select friends to stay on the island.” She looked over my shoulder. I turned to see she was staring at Flynn. What the heck? She acted as if she knew what we were. Then she looked back to me for a quick second before looking at Tom.“And the whole back side of the island is private and no one is allowed to roam back there. Plenty of places to run…. Hunt.”
I blinked. This woman did know exactly who and what we were. “The SUV is gassed up. But you will find gas located on the property and in town should you need it. There are also a few restaurants and stores to get food. Otherwise, you should find the house well stocked with everything you’ll need on this trip.”
Still in shock, I clasped the keys in my hand like a life line. No one else spoke. No one else seemed to breathe. “Okay,” I finally managed to say.
Then a card leaped into her hand like magic. “Here are the codes to the alarm on the house. Also, there is a phone number should you have any special needs.” She paused and glanced at each one of us again in turn as if she were recording who we were. It was creepy. “Have a wonderful time.”
We were being dismissed and everyone filed out of the building one by one. Once outside, Luke took the keys from my hand. “Let’s load up the luggage.” Thank goodness we had such a large vehicle and hadn’t packed very much. Otherwise, we might have had to make two trips. I watched Luke carry our bags and open the black Escalade, the only vehicle in the lot. I turned and walked back inside the building.
There was just one more question I wanted to ask. And seeing as if that woman knew us somehow, I figured she could answer. But the place was empty. Sweeping the small interior, the only exit had been the one we used. And she hadn’t followed us out. She had to be a demon.
Stepping back out into the sweltering heat, my eyes fell on Flynn who looked Zombie like. His face was gaunt. He was also entirely too quiet. Flynn wasn’t one not to make a joke or a quip about something. He stood there in a black tee and black jeans, looking like a ghost. Even Luke whose perpetual tan that had faded the day I damned him stood in stark contrast to the pasty white of Flynn’s skin. I started forward. Something just wasn’t right and I knew I couldn’t be the only one to notice he looked ill and wasn’t getting better.
“Lock and load,” Luke said and everyone jumped at once to get in the car, well almost everyone. I took note at how Flynn seemed to lag behind as if he had weights tied to his ankles. Luke came over to me. “Are you just going to stand there,” he said, hanging there a minute longer.
“Hey, it’s hot in the car. Can we get some A/C going?” Maggie cried out.
Flynn had already installed himself in the front passenger seat by the time I got there. I ended up sitting behind Luke who was driving. Maggie and Doug sat next to me, while Tom and Brent were in the third row behind us.
“Alright ladies, let’s get this show on the road.” Luke spoke but his words sounded more like Flynn’s. I glanced over at him studying just how abnormally quiet he was. I needed to talk to Luke about Flynn and about the lady who greeted us. Clearly she was a demon yet no one mentioned it.
“I thought Sara was coming,” I blurted.
Flynn’s haunting gaze focused on me. “She’ll be here.” His words held a chill while he looked me up and down before facing forward again.
Maggie leaned forward and handed her phone to Flynn who connected it to the radio. Soon enough the car was filled with tunes that weren’t the head banging variety. Not too far up from the little airport, we came to the little town the woman had spoken of. There was a hotel and several bungalows that looked like restaurants and a few that looked like homes. The town was less than a mile in length before we passed. We could see people lounging on the beach, playing volleyball and surfing. Then it was nothing but tropical trees on one side of the road and a steep drop off that led down to the sandy beach on the other. Up and up we went until at the top we met a wrought iron gate that barred us from going further.
Pulling out the business sized card the woman handed me, I handed it to Luke. He plucked the card from my hand and kissed my fingers to make me smile.
After he keyed in the entrance code, the gate slowly opened before us. My eyes widened and my mouth gave a soft pop as it dropped open. Leaning forward against my seatbelt, I took it all in.
Tall palm trees lined the long drive up, each illuminated by a light at the base of the tree, as if we could somehow miss them. The lush, manicured grass was impossibly green and perfect, as if each blade had been individually trimmed. The exotic calls of birds swept through the open windows like music, harmonized and lyrical. The grandeur of the home, part of it hidden by the tropical landscaping, had no end in sight. This place was unreal.
Mouth still open, I traded a look with Maggie and Doug whose eyes were as wide as mine. The rest of the guys in the car were used to grand homes and fancy vacations. Not me, and I gaped the whole fifty yards up to the house. At the end of the straight lane, there was a circle with a huge marble fountain stationed in the middle that shot frothy white water high into the air. Luke drove around and stopped in front of the massive house.
“It’s so pretty,” I said getting out after Maggie. My eyes traced every inch of the home, before landing on Luke. He stood holding a hand out to me, to help me down. His smile mirrored my own. Could this be any more perfect? Once down, I made a move to head to get my bag but Luke waved me off.
“I got it,” he said. I wandered towards the front. From what I could tell it was a two story home. Part of it lined the road that led up to the front and the other dipped out of sight on the right. The place was obviously huge. Keys jiggled in my pocket reminding me that this wasn’t Luke’s Hampton’s house or Flynn’s mini mansion. This was my grandfather’s place. Weird.
Luke must have stuffed the keys in my pocket when he helped me from the car. Pulling them out, I unlocked the grand double doors. A loud beep rang out when the doors popped open. Stepping in, I sought the alarm panel. It was positioned on the right hand wall behind the door. Luke was there and handed the card to me before heading outside again. The code to the front door was Julianna1, my mother’s name. I wondered what she would think if she knew her dad thought of her.
When I turned around I came face to face with Flynn. His eyes bore into me like I was a juicy steak. A gasp escaped my mouth as he closed in on me.
His iceberg eyes pinned me into place. I was frozen while his mouth moved but I didn’t understand what he was saying. Looming over me like a London fog, he rolled his lips in his mouth and took another step closer.
“Hey,” Luke said, stepping back inside. “We should go claim rooms.” Somehow Luke managed to snake an arm around me to extricate me from the prison of Flynn’s shadow that caged me for a second.
Maggie strolled over flanked by Doug and Brent. “We should room together,” she said to me.
Luke’s brows furrowed. He was about to speak. “Yeah, sure,” I said. Luke gave me a confused and disappointed look. But girlfriends know each other. Maggie would have guessed that Luke and I may have wanted to share a room yet she’d asked me anyway. That meant something.
But as the room got quiet, Maggie looked around at everyone and took in the grimace that shone on Luke’s face. “Oh, yeah, you two,” she began.
Stepping over to her and out of Luke’s grasp, I said, “Maggs, it’s us girls. We have to stick together.” I saw the relief in her eyes. It wasn’t as if she felt threatened by any of the guys. But, I think she wasn’t ready to declare a decision between Doug or Brent at this moment. And both of them seemed ready to do so, standing opposite each other with folded arms looking expectantly at Maggie.
Their scrutiny of her, even had me squirming. I turned away to look to my right at a large, open room with lots of windows. I thought of it as the white room because everything in it was a version of white. Not stark white, but ivories and creams. Several chairs, sofas and ottomans were group in clusters, conversational style in the room but in a way that invited people to mill about.
To our left was a long hallway that probably led to the wing of the house that lined the drive. I kept forward finding a curved stairway and took it up. At the top, I found myself moving with familiarity, like I was home. “Hey, are we going to check out some of these rooms?” Maggie called out.
Not quite halfway down the hall, I opened the nearest door to me. Behind it was one of the most stunning bedrooms I’d ever seen. A bed sat before a bank of windows flanked on either side with more windows with benches. In front of that, feet away from where we stood, was a sitting area with a red sofa on one side and two sand colored arm chairs sitting in front of a fireplace. Maggie stormed in like the hurricane she was and dropped her bag before soaring towards the bed.
I turned to find Luke at my back. “I’ll be across the hall,” he said giving me a smile. I nodded knowing he was disappointed I’d hadn’t chosen to stay in a room with him. But he would be close.
The door closed behind him. I needed to chat with Maggie before I went and talked to Luke to explain why I’d chosen to stay with her.
“You know you can stay with him,” Maggie declared.
Sitting on the bed next to her, I said, “No, it’s okay. I want to hang out with you.”
She smiled gratefully at me. “It’s just so hard the closer we get to the day, you know.” And I did. In a few days we would know whether or not she was still human. Not to mention I knew the two boys vying for her attention couldn’t be easy to deal with.
“Are you nervous?” It was a lame question, but I asked it anyway.
Lying flat, she covered her eyes. “Yes.” She took several cleansing breaths before she added, “If I am, what am I going to tell my family? How am I going to explain that I have to leave the house overnight every time there is a full moon?”
“We’ll think of something if it comes to that,” I said.
“And then there’s Brent. I still love him. And I hate him for doing this to me and Doug. How could I possibly go back to him knowing he could have changed our lives forever? Would that be fair to Doug?”
Of all people I could sympathize with her. “You can’t be with Doug just to spite Brent. But I understand not wanting to reward Brent for his bad behavior.” I paused, reluctant to admit this next part. “I kind of talked to him on the plane. He’s absolutely miserable.”
Uncovering her eyes, she looked at me. “I’m like the biggest loser. I so get what you’ve been going through.” She sighed.
When she said nothing more, I stood and opened the door to my immediate right. Inside, I found a closet. I grabbed my bag and quickly unpacked my few things.
When I stepped out Maggie was no longer lying on the bed. Across from me, I saw her standing in awe in the doorway across from me. It opened into a spacious bathroom. There was a large tub that could possibly fit two. Next to it was a glassed in shower. Double sinks and a closed in toilet area finished off the space. It was beautiful. I headed to the main door to go see Luke. When I opened it, he stood poised to knock. “Hey,” I said a little shyly, not sure why.
Over his shoulder, Flynn stood like the grim reaper. “I’m going to drive Flynn into town to take care of a few things.” What they were going to do was to get Flynn laid. I handed him the keys. “I’ll be back soon.”
Nodding, I only watched as they walked away. Flynn turned back to me. His eyes glowed blue and I flinched. He pulled a hood over his head before turning around and I was powerless to look away. In fact as they stepped on the stairs, I found myself following to the landing and looking as they descended. Flynn never once spoke. Brent was waiting for them by the door. Luke hadn’t known I followed. He headed out the door without looking back. Brent’s eyes drifted up to glance at me before following after Luke. Flynn paused and turned giving me the wickedest grin ever. His eyes still burned with blue flame. He stood and I found my feet headed to him and his silent call. When my feet reached bottom, Tom stepped in my path. “Are you going into town?” he asked.
Blinking, it felt as if a spell had been broken. I looked over his shoulder to see Flynn was no longer there and the front door was closed. What the hell? That was weird. Had Flynn been there?
“No,” I finally said as Tom stood there waiting for an answer.
“I guess I’ll go see what there is to eat.” Tom’s words didn’t register until he walked off. The idea of food kicked my brain in high gear. The kitchen was as expected in a house such as this. Rich wood cabinets, granite countertops and enough room to have a party in. Tom was looking in the fridge spellbound. I stepped in to see it was stocked as promised. Feeling like I was in my element, I nudged Tom out of the way. “Can you check to see if there is a grill?” I asked.
He headed off to the wall of windows to an inlaid door and headed outside. I grabbed meat and checked the cabinets. Maggie finally found us. “You need help?”
I handed her the meat I’d gotten out. “Take this.” Then I explored the cabinets finding everything I needed to make barbecue and potato salad and got to work.
Cooking always made time pass. Tom and Doug slaved over the hot grill in the heat while I marinated everything and Maggie washed and peeled potatoes.
Food made, the four of us sat outside by the poolside playground. It was fit for both a king and a five year old child. There were multiple pools, with a makeshift island in the middle. Several white bridges connected them all together while slides, taller than me, looped around. The entire thing was so complex, with the Jacuzzis and trampoline, that it blew my mind. And although I knew Tom grew up wealthy, he seemed to be just as impressed as the rest of us at the pool wonderland before us. There were a couple of covered areas to eat under, including a gazebo in the far back with lounge chairs. Behind that, nothing but sky. The hill we were on dropped off. There did appear to be a trail of some sort. I think it led down the backside of the mountain. I planned to explore that at my first opportunity.
While we sat and ate, my mind drifted to the boys that had yet to return. Was Flynn okay?
“Mercy that was good. I heard you were a good cook.” Doug said.
“She is.” I looked up to see Flynn step through the door looking better and pleased with himself.