There is some language or violence that may not be appropriate for people under thirteen years of age.
Ultimate, a sequel to Auroral Nights by CrystalNeonSummerSnow
Summary: Alejandro's life may now be normal like he wished, his heart bears the scars of a previous story. Yet, it isn't long until two females are after him; one wants to kill him, and the other wants to protect him. Through a series of frightening events and heartbreaking moments with his savior, he comes to realization with the ultimate secret that will earn him hope.
The snowflakes frosted onto the heel of my boots.
I looked at my watch. How long was I out here? Well, considering my remorseful thoughts of my life after I lost her, I wouldn't blame myself for spending too much time thinking. Yet, it shouldn't have taken a long time for me to realize I will never let her go.
I studied my boots for a moment, noticing how the patterns of the flakes enlivened the dull grey color of my scratched leather boots. My eyes shot over to my hands on the metal bars of the bridge and I quickly jerked them away. I massaged my shivering wrists, feeling the knots seldom loosening.
Whatever, I've felt worse pain for sure.
I could still picture the image of Bridgette with her body paled, limbs lifelessly dangling from my tight grip on her, and those half lidded eyes officially closed. The flashback of my pathetic sobbing and delivery of one last kiss planted firm in my mind. I felt weak and hopeless again once a tear streamed down my cheek, falling to the gravel. The skin on my forehead furrowed from my pained, squinted expression.
Soon enough, the sound of a blind door opening interrupted my unhappy self-reminiscing.
" Hey, La Cucaracha!" a familiar, intimidating voice screamed at me from a distance. " You've been out here for two hours! Get your butt back in here!"
I rolled my eyes, crossing my arms. Why be frightened by Duncan? The guy has a three-toned fauxhawk. It's revolting and nauseating, but nowhere near scary. I just motioned my head as a way of saying I'll be inside in a minute.
I unhooked and held in my hand once more the locket and pulled out a laminated copy of Bridgette's death certificate; it was nice of the organist--who knew Bridgette at a young age--to give me a copy of her life to remember her by. I moaned in nostalgia and yelled at myself in the back of my head not to cry. I wrapped the brawny, rusted necklace into the now crumpled piece of paper.
With one more moan, I stuffed the memory of my life in my pocket and headed inside to another cup of coffee.
I honked my horn repeatedly in order to force a lazy driver to keep moving. Patience, Alejandro, I thought trying to placate my frustrated self, patience. I laid my head against the cushion of my car seat and turned on the radio. Yes, a little soft rock will take my mind off things.
I moved my hand across the clutter beside me. Clipboard, house keys, iPhone, coins, pens. I think I've pretty much got everything in place. I turned my head to see that the car way ahead finally started accelerating down the road.
" Por fin." I smugly chuckled under my breath.
In another half hour, I clicked the radio off and opened the door. A sigh in relaxation flew out of my mouth when I saw my home. Let the relaxing begin.
Jiggling the excess keys around unlocking the door, I flipped a switch that turned on a chandelier. Welcome home, I thought to myself. I looked around smiling at everything. People would usually call me rich because of all the decor and well-deserved money I had. And this was all just from sitting at a desk all day. It's been years before I ever experienced a chance encounter with a criminal.
I entered the kitchen in no hurry and pulled a bottle from the fridge. Sitting down with the drink in my hand and facing nothing but the window, I lifted up my champagne glass and said, now remembering there's no ponit in relaxing alone,
That minute, all my joy drained out of my system. What's the point of having a good time when you don't have that special someone to share it with? I know I had Susie, my girlfriend, and she may have been hopelessly in love with me, but in my heart, Bridgette's name is still sewn in.
I tapped my fingertips on the honey-colored table for a moment and looked again at the window. What made me flinch was I thought I saw citrine eyes staring straight at me.
Not bothering to get a towel and clean up the puddle of champagne on the table, I rushed to the window and saw those little orbs run away from me.
I lowered my head. That's enough alcohol for one night. I picked up the glass, placed it in the sink gently to avoid breaking it, and slouched myself to the bedroom.
There's no way I'm getting any rest tonight.
I lie awake under the ceiling fan.
The clock's ticking was surprisingly faster than my heartbeat.
My mind was still focused on the haunting image of Bridgette's eyes I saw out the window; I could still feel her gaze watching over me. I just laid there on the silk shhets all strung out and unsettled.
My eyes rolled over to the clock. 4:55 a.m. Oh well, my job doesn't start until 9 o'clock, so I at least had time to prepare for another boring day at the computer. I stepped into the bathroom and turned on the hot water.
I let my clothes fall to the ground as I stepped into the shower.
Despite my worry still brewing hard in my blood, at least the steam surrounding me could soothe my emotions back to a normal level. My hair untangled as when the water caressed through it quickly. I actually had a lot of time to think in the shower. The only part you would probably call weird is that I began talking to myself with only the steam around to listen to me.
Okay, now I really need to get a grip on myself.
I closed my eyes and had a flashback to my time on TDWT. The first one that came to mind was when all the ladies swarmed around me as if I was a real celebrity. Yeah, no surprise there. The next thing I remembered was Yukon, freezing to the bone and all the girls huddled next to me for warmth; the perfect excuse to get near me. I smiled smugly at myself thinking about that.
But my cockiness vanished as I remembered the next thing that happened in Yukon.
Bridgette and I stood together and a nearby sled with a glowing green girl came passing by. Izzy. Yep, that was my team, big surprise. Bridgette handed me back my jacket and awkwardly smiled.
" Well, looks like this is my ride, but I can't leave you here all alone."
" Go on. I'll race you to the finish."
" I think we'v got some time for... one more accident."
She looked at the distant ice floes and gripped her arm nervously, but then resumed her lightheaded expression. She closed her eyes and parted her lips for another kiss from me, but that's when I jumped on the sled and left her crying for help (in a slurred way from her tongue being stuck to the pole).
I blinked for a moment and my mind was back in reality. I placed a hand on my heart; I could feel it's gotten more hollow and empty when I thought of that. I didn't dare continue any flashbacks from the show after noticing little drops of sweat on my forehead traveling all the way down to my neck and shoulders.
I never even understood at first why I was so in love with Bridgette. When I met on the plane, all I thought of her was "expandable" and that she was another color I would soon turn grey. Even though I seemed unaffected by her elimination, why was it that when I dreamt about it the night before heading to New York, it felt like a big vein in my wrist had been cut off? Extreme pain like I never felt before and I was in perfect shape.
I tried to block any signs of regret by shadowing it with my attraction to Heather Malone, the snottiest chick I've ever met. If she saw me today, she'd be sorry.
Snapping back to the main topic, I never really told anyone about how much I missed Bridgette, mostly because they would all tell me to let her go. I couldn't. I just couldn't. Duncan would have zero interest in emotion and true love and, since I was dating her, Susie wouldn't want to hear anything about my past relationships.
I laid my head back against the tiles of the wall and opened the shower curtains to check the ti--Aw, crap! I'm late! I rushed out the bathroom and quicky combed my hair back into a mop top and snatched the uniform hanging in my closet.
" What happened to you?" Duncan smirked at my still wet chestnut hair and heavy breathing from running to the car.
" You look like my uncle after running through a car wash."
" Whatever." That was the best reply at the moment.
I downed a cup of Java and slumped myself at my desk. Duncan's teal eyes flickered at me for a moment, then they just turned away to his paperwork. Sigh. Same old, same old. It felt like today would just be the same cycle: I clack my fingernails on the keyboard, I pick up a sugar cookie from the break room, I look down at my locket and feel like I would burst, nothing new. Not even coming up with a reason why, I turned my head at the delinquent and smirked at him in my mind. Hard to believe a piercing-faced downer would even be a cop. He shuffled his feet across the shag carpet and tried to start a conversation with another friend of mine.
" You two have been quiet, lately." he started with an arrogant chuckle. The female cop, MaryAnn, flipped her fine orange hair when turning to him. Her cocked eyebrow, tight lips, abd eyes narrowed to slits sushed him.
" Duncan, we've all been quiet for a reason."
" Yeah,"--his eyebrow ring raised--"but since he joined?" I jolted my head around; I can tell whether or not they're talking about me.
" Can you at least show a little sense of emotion for once instead of acting like a pig?" she snapped, as if she was addressing an 8 year-old. He rolled his eyes and scoffed,
" Sense of emotion? For what? That morbid, bipolar surfer chick Bridgette?" The eyebrow at him rose even higher. Same old Duncan; barely changed. She pointed the long nail on her index finger at him, almost touching his chin. She was really addressing a child, now.
" Duncan James Hemlock," she began, "six years ago, I remembered you a gutter punk, but now here you are daring to even wear a badge. Can you at least sympathize for once?"
My jaw couldn't help but drop a little. She's never chided someone like that before. She stood up with a huff, stacking her files on the desk, and gave Duncan one good angered look before heading to the lobby. I shook my head at her with a smile; in some ways, she reminded me of Courtney -- guile, intelligent, portentous, but lacking Courtney's hard heart, for lack of a better word.
She spun on her heel and turned back to him once he murmured surly under his breath,
" Well, since Bridge loved nature so much, she'll definitely help the earth now that she's a part of it."
Even I stood up with a glare. He'd crossed the line. I slammed the laptop shut and marched over to him. I patted MaryAnn's shoulder and gave a quick nod saying I'll do the confronting.
I angrily turned my head back at him and he could already tell venom was dripping from my teeth when I took in a breath to talk.
" You certainly don't hear me talk about Courtney in that manner, so you shouldn't do the same."
He let out a brave scoff. Talking about his ex-girlfriend didn't even make him react; he still resumed leaning his back against the wall with one foot to support him and crossed his arms. I turned my back at him to collect more paperwork.
He opened his mouth to make a bold retort.
" At least my ex is alive. And you?"
That's when things got ugly.
MaryAnn had the power from her will to walk in and fiercely glare at him with those slits of her eyes. I left my back turned to him for a few minutes, but then I walked over and quietly closed the door, as if nothing was wrong. Then, I lowered my brows like MaryAnn did and grabbed his shoulders.
" You don't understand. Bridgette's special, and even in your eyes, she's a wonderful person." Emotionless. He still stayed that way. Unbelievable! He felt a self-served grin spread across his face and couldn't help but keep it that way. He grabbed my neck and broke the chain of the locket. He threw it on the table, close to breaking it.
" Get a grip, dude! you're acting like you can't survive one day without thinking about that accursed loser. She's just dust in the wind; you can survive. In fact, watch me here." He balled up his hand into a fist and raised it. With one bang on the polished wood of the desk, I cringed at his missed attempt to destroy me.
He grunted in frustration and threw the jewel against the wall.
I gasped and knelt down to the necklace. The diamonds were shattered, the gold paint was chipped all the way off, and the chain was completely broken. A single tear dripped on the red fabric.
Popping my neck when raising my head, I turned back at him and picked him up by the shoulders. MaryAnn widened her eyes and mouthed a command to let him go, but I ignored at threw him through the door.
Everyone crowded Duncan as I glared at him. The poor punk was coughing up blood and I think he earned a broken arm from me. Snatching a gun from the table, I pointed it straight at his heart. The moment of truth would be sealed.
His breathing grew loud and sweat streamed down his face. He was actually afraid of me? Exactly what I intended to let happen. In his head, I bet he was praying to God that he'd get lucky, but it looked like I would teach him that there was no such word as "mercy".
Panting a little from the rage subsiding, I let the weapon fall to the floor.
I tugged on the collar of my blue robe and reached my hand out to the doorknob.
All I probably expected to receive in the mail would be bills and my last paycheck from the police station. Nothing more, nothing less. The powdery snow was strewn across the porch once I finally stepped out. I just stood still for a moment and let the snow fly into my face. The harsh winds of January greeted me. After a few more gusts in my face, I dragged myself to the mailbox.
Sticking my hand inside and pulling out a stack of envelopes, I jumbled them a little before heading back inside. At first, I skimmed my eyes over to the white, rough bench in the corner of the porch and I thought it’d be easier to sit there instead of walking all the way to the bedroom, but I figured things have gotten cold enough already.
I swear, I thought that the wind—now diminished to a small breeze—sounded like Bridgette’s scream.
I set the mail down on the dining room table and did a quick shuffle through; most were just plain bills and sale discounts in magazines I never got the time to read anymore. Yet, holding the pager bill in my hand, I let out a sigh more depressing than I thought it would be. All those years back then, I use to consider myself a leader with courage and stamina, but now with me standing under a flickering lightbulb jobless, I didn’t know how I would make it. I made a vow to myself that I would never do that again.
I didn’t see the point of that if I would, in the future, break that rule.
I pulled out in my pocket a silver, unused pistol. The gun I could’ve used to confirm Duncan’s fate. It was nice of them to at least let me keep it as a souvenir, but with my vow, it was held in front of me useless. Still, I couldn’t just throw away a dangerous weapon just to let it be set off by some brainless garbage man. I took my briefcase, stuck the weapon in there, and tossed it into a nearby closet. I almost confused the clatter for a gunshot.
I stalked myself back to the dining room and threw all the worthless magazines into the plastic recycling bin. There was one letter I left untouched on the table to stare at it for a moment, trying to remember the person who sent it (mostly because the red ink was smeared and written in a messy cursive way). I at least tried by recognizing the ornate style of the envelope.
Wait a minute, black and white cords, Japanese print at the bottom, it was from MaryAnn. She always disguises her letters to me as a funeral letter when something urgent pops up. Ripping through the paper and holding a surprisingly short command in my hand, it read,
Read the newspaper. This story could earn you back your job.
Even though I would probably obey and pick up the next stack of newspapers that’d come my way, I never wanted to think about being a police ever again. There were a lot of job offers on the table, too, y’know.
Turret lathe operator? Accountant? Math teacher? All ideas that went in the “fail” pile rather than “accept”. I would get a job again someday, but I hoped that that day would come sooner than possible.
Sigh. I’ve certainly had a long day.
I went to the fridge and pulled out a Danish I was going to have for breakfast this morning. Even before I nibbled into it, I could feel someone behind me. After the first bite, I felt two delicate hands dig their fingernails into the flesh of my neck. I jerked my head around and saw nothing but the magnets on the fridge. I gripped my stomach and suddenly, I didn’t feel hungry anymore. I set the pastry back in the fridge and slumped myself to the bedroom, where some well-deserved rest was awaiting.
I could still imagine a woman in a sultry gold tube dress following me into the bedroom. I wanted to slap myself for thinking that. Had I not known all the fake affects people use in horror movies, I would probably come to a stupid realization that a demon mocking me by looking like Bridgette was beside me. I didn’t think I was really haunted or anything, for I bet that it was all in my imagination, but why was it that when I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror, 8 little pricks in my neck were dripping with blood?
Blink. The scary image went away, but the pain still lingered.
I fell onto the bed not bothering to cover myself with the sheets. I felt the darkness press hard on my skin; almost suffocating. At least I had something to fill the hollow shell I earned from my loneliness. The gossamer curtains blew in my face from the wind creeping through the window. I let it smooth across my face for a moment, but then it was starting to get annoying. As I walked over to close the window in no hurry, that’s when I heard footsteps. Delicate, but quick in pace.
It wasn’t long until those footsteps were heading towards me and that same touch came to my shoulders. I winced in fear and tried not to believe that it was real, but then I felt something twirl around and tug a strand of my hair. I shook my head and turned around to find that it was all in my imagination. Typical. I had to get some rest.
Falling back onto the bed, this time blanketing myself with the sheets, I forced my eyes to close and tried to lull myself into peaceful slumber.
The only thing that lulled me was my quiet sobbing.
My cell phone’s ringing commanded that I awake.
I fluttered my eyes and they traveled to the afterglow of sunset outside. I piled two pillows on the side of my face to try and fall back asleep, but the droning sound of my iPhone on vibrate not ceasing to stop, I finally groaned and sprung up to reach the dusty shelf.
I sleepily stared at the clock on the screen before typing in the password. 6:14 p.m. Hmm, 8 recommending hours of sleep. Seemed like it passed by in one second. Only one second that wasn’t even enough to restore myself. Typing in a mere five words, it turned out I got a text message from Susie. I nodded and pressed on the envelope icon.
'Heard u got fired yestrday. Sry. :(' Wanna come ovr 4 a daiquiri?
If I had not known Susie that well, I wouldn’t have known that she probably would wait by the phone 24/7 until I finally gave a reply. To be honest, I was thinking of dumping her, but considering that it’d be selfish to give my life to someone who was not even alive, I figured I was now all hers. Blinking several times to open my eyes and see the text a little clearer, I pressed the reply button and typed,
How’d ya know that I got fired?
Typically, in the next 5 seconds, she responded.
MaryAnn told me. ^-^ Anyways, would ya like me 2 pick u up?
Tapping my thumb on the blue rubber case for a moment, I bit my lower lip and left, concluding the short chat,
B down b4 7.
Turning back at my bedroom and then away to the walk-in closet, I looked down at the phone one last time before soundlessly closing the door.
My pursed lips kept me silent throughout the long drive to her house. She kept her steady pace flowing, her strapped heel on the pedal, and her eyes locked on the road. For a 22 year-old woman who has the lifestyle of a rebellious teenager, she at least doesn’t put her loved ones at risk by drinking, texting, or applying too much make-up while driving. I anxiously placed my hand on top of my kneecap, swinging my legs and attracting static from the fuzzy material on the car floor. My eyes journeyed over to the bracelet I gave Susie about a year ago. Love Undying, the diamond-studded charm said, dangling by a silver chain. A crooked smile soon tugged at the corners of my mouth. I turned to her and saw a little red gash on her cheek; looked a lot like a healing wound. I opened my mouth to say something, but couldn’t and let the jazz on the radio pierce the silence. Instead, I let my hand smooth across it for a moment, then stopped as her house finally appeared.
I unbuckled myself and upended from the car.
Her house was simple, but charming. The same celadon paint in the living room, the same liquor cart, the same mosaic of her garden placed above the fireplace, the same everything. I set my coat on the rack and made myself comfortable on the couch with one ankle rested on my right knee. I was everything but comfy. I looked at my reflection on the empty liquor cart and saw the same 8 little pricks on my neck that had now turned into scars…
I let out a breath that seemed more forceful than calming. I still remembered heading into the master bedroom, looking in the mirror, and seeing a little drop of blood from my neck sluicing down to the floor, leaving a scabby river behind. I ended my psychological fright when Susie walked into the room with two martini glasses. She looked at me with the whit of worry in her eyes.
“Alejandro? Are you okay?”
“Hmm? Oh, never better.” I forced a fake smile across my face to make the lie believable.
She handed me the glass and walked over to the fireplace. She picked up a lighter from the table to light the cinnamon-scented candles. I laughed a little by the way she just swaggered herself over there. I knew she wanted my attention, but this was just pathetic. She veered towards me when she heard my laugh and just shot a sensual and devilish smile.
“Like what you’re seein’?” she sniggered as she did a few modeling poses, showing off her lacey black party dress and specially-ordered Milan heels.
“You make the black swan green with envy.”
She playfully nudged my shoulder and tipped the glass over to hush me. After I started sipping, she sat down next to me and encircled my shoulders with her long arms. Her words were dancing on my skin as she drew closer. She flipped her platinum blonde hair and placed her hand on my neck.
“Y’know what’s weird? When I picked you up, I thought I saw 8 little scars on your neck, but now they’ve seemed to disappear.”
My eyes became its widest and I looked down at her. She shot a more toothy smile and said,
I laughed halfheartedly as she excused herself to head to the kitchen. I leaned my head over to the door and lowered my eyelid when peeking through the crack to see what she was doing. At first, when she pulled out her make-up bag, I thought she was just going to put on more unnecessary gloss on, but when I saw pull out a bottle of fake blood and apply it onto her wound, all I can say is that I wasn’t surprised. It was usual of her to get me worried about her just to get me to reciprocate her feelings for me. Shameless in her eyes, moronic in my eyes. I sat myself back down on the satin cushion and took another sip. She let out a laugh herself as she saw a little slush mustache on my upper lip. She pressed her tender lips against mine to clean it off and for once I allowed it.
Yet, before she could taste the last little piece of ice passionately, I jerked my head away and just licked my lips to avoid sweating. She drew circles on my hand and asked, quivering her lower lip to fake a pouty look,
“What’s the matter, Ale-handsome? Uncomfortable?”
“Oh, no Susie, I’m just a little shaken about what happened yesterday.” She beamed a warm grin at me and before I knew it, her silky hair and tan head rested upon my shoulders. Her gentler comfort rather than seductive. The moment ended once she shot her head up and said,
“Alejandro? We’ve been dating for quite some years and all, and, I really want to take our relationship to the next level.”
“Next level”? As in the getting-married-and-spend-the-rest-of-my-life-with-her next level? My blood drained out of my heart and I gulped down all the fright I had. She looked at me worried again and I just responded while grabbing my coat,
“By golly, would ya look at the time, I think I should be leaving.” She tried to run to the door and stop it with her long leg, but I quickly slammed the door without hesitation. I pulled out a bus ticket in my pocket and waited for what it seemed like an hour for the next bus to arrive.
I could still see Susie’s disappointed gaze from the corner of my eye.
I faceplamed my forehead and groaned in frustration as the snow flew into my hair. Two girls I had to pick and pain in each decision. I knew that I had completely fallen under Bridgette’s more innocent charm and she feels more like a delicate white swan than the sensual black swan Susie, but like I said, it’d be a selfish move of me to prefer someone that’s not even alive over someone who is. Still, I bet Susie’s probably enraged that I left in the middle of our date; that was the same immature male instinct a guy gets once a dose of cold feet enters his system.
I looked up at the sky barely spangled with even one star. Soon, I felt something smack against the gnarled tree nearest to the fence. A stack of newspapers. A little late to be throwing newspapers at people, but of course, the newspaper boy is always late. Feeling like I had nothing else to do, I dragged my feet across the graveled driveway and hooked my index finger around the rubber band.
Slamming the door and throwing the newspapers onto the table, I figured now should be the perfect time to obey MaryAnn’s commands about the news and my job. I swiftly cut the band off with my scissors and flipped on a light for easy reading.
Leafing through the pages and seeing nothing but dog food ads and stock market graphs, my finger finally stopped on the last thing,
Femme Fatale: The Face of Murder