Athena Mortem Chapter 15: One For Another

We’d been out searching all day. Warehouse after warehouse, barn after barn. So far, we’d turned up nothing. Just spiderwebs, straw, and old logs. We hadn’t come any closer to finding my baby boy. It was starting to get discouraging. I was losing hope. But I wouldn’t admit that to anyone. I wasn’t coming home without my son, and I meant that. There was no way I could spend another night in that house without him.

“Okay, this is one of the last warehouses around here, Thena.” Hillary told me hesitantly. I thought maybe she could sense my discouragement, I just hoped she wasn’t getting discouraged too.

“Maybe we should head back after this one.” Sebastian suggested. “It’s started to rain, we shouldn’t get sick right now.”

“No. You guys can go home without me, I’m not going back without James.” I knew I was being stubborn, and probably very stupid. But I couldn’t stand the thought of my son out in the world without me.

“We’re not leaving you out here alone. We’re going back when you’re going back.” Hillary was just as stubborn as I was.

“Alright, then lets get moving.” I ushered for them to follow me into the warehouse.

“Oh god.” Hillary’s hand shot up to her nose. The stench inside the warehouse was absolutely horrific. It was full to the brim with trash and boxes. The smell was like death mixed with garbage.

“Well, I guess we better start looking.” Artemis sighed. We started to fan out to search, but something stopped us in our tracks.

Voices.

Upstairs, we heard the soft murmur of a few different voices. Everyone looked at me, and I used two fingers to point towards the stairs.

I slowly started to move up the stairs. The voices were still talking, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying. My heart was pounding. What was I going to find at the top of these stairs? Squatters? People just looking for shelter in the rain? Or was I going to find that man, and my son?

Was I prepared to do whatever I needed to get my son back?

I was about to find out.

I gestured for everyone to follow me up the stairs. Hillary was directly behind me, it was a comfort to have her so close. Having her there made this easier, I knew she would do anything to help me get my son back. It was reassuring.

We all got to the top of the stairs, and everything fell apart. Artemis immediately started to break down. Hillary and I started yelling, Zeus threatening lives.

My son. He was there. His head was shaved and all he was wearing was a diaper, but I knew it was him.

He was sitting in the middle of some weird sigil, surrounded by people dressed alike and reaching for candles.

And we knew some of them.

The man who’d been calling me, I finally realized where I knew his voice from.

It was Anson Fernandes, my sister’s fiance.

“You motherfucker, what the hell is wrong with you?” I screamed at him. I always knew he was slightly creepy, but I didn’t think he’d do something like this.

“Ah, dear Athena. So you’ve found us. I told you not to come looking for me. It’s sad, really. I didn’t want to have to kill you.” He sighed, like he was being asked to do a mundane task for a boss, not willingly commit murder. “And you, my dear Artemis. I’m so sorry you had to find out this way.”

“Fuck you.” She sobbed. My heart broke for her.

“Ah, that’s no way to talk to your fiance.” He smirked, then laughed maniacally. “I guess I’m gonna have to kill you too. All of you actually. This’ll be fun.”

“Leader, should we…?” The pretty blond woman next to him trailed off.

“Yes.”

And just like that, everything dissolved into chaos.

His people jumped up and formed a line, immediately shooting off spells at my people. We all jumped into formation as well. Each on of us with an opponent. Athena and Hillary took on the two girls, Sebastian and Brooke took on two of the guys. Zeus took on Ricky, the guy who stood me up for homecoming. I thought it was slightly fitting.

And I, I took on Anson. I wanted to kill the son of a bitch.

All of the rage I’d been feeling the past few days came to a head. All I saw was red. I needed blood, and I was going to get it.

I immediately started with the strongest blinding spell I knew. I wanted to blind that asshole, I wanted my enraged face to be the last thing he ever saw. I was going to do whatever I could to destroy him.

But by the time my spell reached him, he’d reduced it to sparkles.

“You idiot, you think you can defeat me? I’m the strongest witch of the century. Your pathetic little spells won’t even affect me.” Anson laughed.

“You can’t defeat me. I’ll always win. My followers? They’re expendable. I’ll get new ones. But you can’t get new friends.” He laughed.

“Ricky, do it.”

Ricky drew back his wand and prepared to aim. I wasn’t sure what he was aiming for or what he was supposed to be doing, but I intended to find out.

But my attention was pulled away from him and back to my opponent, when my wand went flying out of my hands. Anson had used a spell to fling my wand across the room.

I looked back to him, and he was suddenly on top of the creepy alter. There was no way he could’ve climbed up there in the second I looked away from him. Maybe he really was the best witch of the century. Normal witches were not strong enough for teleportation.

“Athena, I will spare you. Your friends, they’ve maimed all my followers. They’ve won the battle. Except you. You can’t defeat me, you can’t kill me. There’s nothing you can do about it. You’re going to have to live the rest of your pathetic life knowing that you couldn’t kill the man who kidnapped your son.” He chuckled. “And well, I think the repercussions of this battle will be punishment enough.”

“I will fucking kill you, even if I have to do it with just my hands. You’re not going to get away with this.” I growled. I started to come for him, but was frozen in place. He’d managed to do a freezing spell without lifting his wand or even saying anything aloud.

“Ah Athena, you’re so naive. You really think I’d let you get close enough to do that?” He laughed. “I’ll be back. For both of you.” He stared at me for a few seconds, but it felt like it went on forever. He had such a creepy, dead look in his eyes. It was like there was nothing but pure evil behind them.

And with that, he jumped over the railing and into the pool of garbage on the floor below. I turned to rush down the stairs, to follow him, but I was stopped dead in my tracks by a scream.

“Zeus! Zeus no!” My sister screamed in such a way it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

Artemis kept screaming his name over and over. Hillary was crouched next to her, trying to get her attention. Trying to comfort her. Brooke was latched onto Sebastian, crying into his chest.

We’d defeated all of Anson’s followers, but not without a casualty of our own.

Zeus Garnet, my first love and the father of my child, lay dead on the cold, disgusting floor of that old warehouse.

Before I even really registered what I was doing, I ran over to him. I pulled him into my arms. I’d never felt anyone so limp in my life, his head just flopped right over. It made my stomach turn, I thought I would puke. The feeling was so different from the usual strong and comforting way of his body. It didn’t even really feel like him.

“Zeus, Zeus.” I couldn’t cry anymore, not after the past few days. I was numb. “I’m so sorry. I’m so fucking sorry. I wish we could’ve worked things out. I wish we could’ve co-parented.”

No one could really hear what I was saying. Artemis was having a full-blown breakdown. I didn’t blame her. Her fiance was an evil mastermind, and now her best friend of all time was dead.

I was glad no one could hear me though. This was just between me and Zeus.

“I’m so sorry. I know you wanted your son to have two parents, unlike us. Fuck, I’m so sorry.” I pulled his limp, cooling body to my chest. “I really did love you, Zeus. I always will.”

I held him close to me for a while. I lost track of time and my surroundings.

Despite all the noise, a tiny little voice pulled me out of it.

“M-mama?” My little James. He sounded so small, so terrified. Gently, I laid Zeus back down on the ground.

“Baby, it’s okay, Mama’s here.”

I scooped my son up into my arms. He clung to me, as I did him. I held him so tight, I never wanted to let him go.

“Mama.” He sobbed into my chest. He was scared, his entire body was trembling.

“It’s okay my love, you’re safe now.” I told him. I wasn’t going to let anything happen to my baby ever again.

“Athena, we should leave. He might come back for us. And we don’t know if these people are dead, knocked out, or stunned. We should get out while we can.” Sebastian interrupted my moment, but I knew he was just looking out for us.

“We can’t leave without Zeus.” I told him sternly.

“We won’t. I’ll take him.” He offered.

It was dark when we left the warehouse a few minutes later. It didn’t seem like that much time had passed, it felt like everything that happened only happened within the span of a few minutes. But it must’ve been at least an hour.

As we left, I scanned the entire area multiple times. I was anticipating Anson behind every tree and around every corner. Maybe he’d changed his mind, maybe he wanted to kill us all after all. But I didn’t see him anywhere.

I hoped no one saw us, because we looked like such a mess. A dead man, multiple crying woman, and a terrified mother clutching onto her son for dear life.

I was dreading our return home. As happy as I was to have my son back, I wasn’t looking forward to dealing with the aftermath.

I couldn’t fathom having to tell Winter her son died to make sure my son got home okay.

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Athena Mortem Chapter 6: Rules

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“Morning.” I quietly walked into Zeus’s room the next morning.

“Morning Thena. How’re you feeling?” He yawned and stretched as he got out of bed.

“Good, you?”

“Good.” He responded, things were only slightly awkward between us.

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“So, if you want, we can pretend last night never happened. If you want to just go back to normal I’ll completely understand.” I said quickly. We both got caught up in our emotions, and I knew Artemis would not be happy.

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“Are you kidding? Last night was amazing, I never want to forget it.” He gave me a cheesy grin.

“Really?”

“Yea, and I was hoping this could actually be a serious thing, if that’s what you want.”

“You mean like, boyfriend and girlfriend?” I asked, stunned.

“Yea.” He answered.

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“I’d love that.” I answered honestly. He leaned forward and gave me a quick kiss.

“But, on one condition.” He said when he pulled back.

“What’s that?”

“Please try to get better. Try to stop throwing up. I’ll help you, if you need it. I just want to make sure you’re healthy.” He told me. I was hesitant, I still wasn’t at my weight-loss goal but I also really wanted to be with him.

“I’ll try.”

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“That’s all I ask.” He grabbed my hand. “But we can’t keep the relationship a secret. I’m not down to sneak around behind my mom and your grandma’s backs.”

“I’m okay with that. They might not be happy about it but they’ll deal.”

“Artemis won’t be too happy either.” He bit his lip nervously.

“No, she won’t.”

“Will you come with me to tell her?” He asked.

“When? Right now?”

“In a little bit, when she’s awake.”

“Sure, but it’s not going to be pretty.”

—————-

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 “Hey Artemis.” Zeus said nervously a little later that day.

“What’s up?” She responded, eyeing me suspiciously.

“Well, since you decided to play an awful prank on Athena here, I comforted her and long story short, we’re dating now.” He explained.

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“You have got to be kidding me! I thought you were better than this, Zeus! She’s disgusting, how could you betray me like this?” Artemis started screaming.

“She’s not disgusting, Artemis! How could you say such terrible things about such an amazing person? What the hell is wrong with you?” Zeus yelled back.

“She’s not amazing, what the hell are you on? I thought you were cool, now you’re just a loser like her.”

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“You’re the loser here, Artemis. You’re constantly talking shit about your sister and its awful. She’s a good person and she doesn’t deserve it.” He glared at her. “You’re probably just jealous of her.”

“I would never! I can’t believe you would say such a terrible thing to me!” She screamed, her voice getting more and more shrill with every word. “This is all your fault, what have you done to my best friend?” Artemis turned to me.

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“I haven’t done anything to anyone!” I snapped. “What you did to me was awful, you’ve caused my entire life to be hell and I deserve to be happy for once.”

“I didn’t expect you to be dumb enough to fall for it! A guy like Ricky would never go for you, I can’t believe you thought you were in his league!” She laughed.

“I don’t care about that anymore, I care about Zeus. We’re dating whether you like it or not!”

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“What the hell is going on down here?” My grandma’s voice asked angrily from behind me. Our screaming must’ve woken her up.

“Zeus and Athena are dating!” Artemis exclaimed with frustration.

“Is this true?” My grandma raised an eyebrow at me, and I nodded.

She sighed. “I knew something like this would happen. Artemis, go to your room. We’ll talk later. Athena, Zeus, sit down on the couch. I’m gonna go wake Winter and we’re all gonna have a chat.”

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“Elsa is it necessary that we do this right now? I just fell asleep.” Winter groaned like a teenager being woken up early.

“Yes dear, our children are dating. They live in the same house, we need to put down some ground rules.” My grandma responded curtly.

“Alright, alright.” She sighed defeatedly. “So obviously no staying in each other’s rooms. Keep the doors open when you hang out. One at a time in the bathroom.” Winter started.

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“This is all pretty standard stuff, Mom.” Zeus rolled his eyes.

“I know dear, but we have to remind you so you don’t try to tell us we didn’t.”

“Take things slow. And keep in mind that if you break up, you still live together. That won’t be easy.” My grandma told us.

“I understand. I’m pretty sure we’re mature enough to handle that.” I answered. At least, I knew I was. I hoped he was too.

“Now that that’s settled, I’m so happy for you guys!” Winter smiled. “Natalia and I always wanted this.” She smiled sadly at the mention of my mom. Grandma placed a hand gently on her shoulder.

“I know, she would’ve loved this. She was a sucker for romance.” Grandma added. They chuckled to themselves and smiled at us.

“Alright, now you guys go about your business. I’m going back to sleep.” Winter said with a laugh.

“I’m gonna go talk to Artemis.” Grandma sighed and headed up the stairs behind Winter.

————-

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Having a boyfriend was awesome. He included me in the things he did, and I finally had someone my age who listened to me. I knew he was sincere, since Artemis trashed his room and he still didn’t break up with me.

Artemis was not happy that we were dating, but she also didn’t want to lose Zeus as a friend so she reluctantly let me tag along with the things they did. I bet she was feeling pretty dumb, her awful prank backfired in the best possible way.

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“Ew, do you guys really have to do that? It’s bad enough that I have to see your face, I don’t want to see it all over my best friend.” Artemis whined from the lawn chairs.

“Shut up Artemis, you and Anson practically hump each other all the time.” Zeus yelled back with a laugh.

“He’s right.” Anson replied, his accent still sending a slight chill down my spine. I just couldn’t place it, and it creeped me out.

“Shut up.” She smacked him on the shoulder, making the rest of us giggle.

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“They’re not that bad Artemis, why do you care so much?” Katherine asked from her beach towel.

“Yea, it almost seems like you’re jealous.” Brooke giggled.

“I am not, shut up! I just don’t like hanging out with Athena.” She admitted.

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“Artemis, you act like she’s literally the devil. Athena’s pretty cool, I don’t see why you dislike her so much.” Hillary chimed in from a raft.

“Jesus, Hil, who’s friend are you?”

“That’s not really the issue here. I can be friends with multiple people. I think you’re just being unreasonable and mean for nothing.” I think everyone was slightly shocked, I didn’t know her very well but she was still standing up for me.

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“Whatever.” Artemis rolled her eyes and pouted. I shrugged at Zeus and jumped in the water. I splashed him until he joined me in the pool. Then it turned into a full on splash war.

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“Hey guys, mind if I get in on this?” Hillary jumped off her raft and swam over to us. I didn’t respond, I just splashed her straight in the face. That move started an all out war between the three of us. I couldn’t remember the last time I had this much fun.

I could feel Artemis glaring daggers into the back of my head, but I ignored her. I was too happy to care.

Athena Mortem Chapter 3: Why Me?

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“Are you sure you guys have to leave for the whole weekend?” I asked Winter as I sprawled across her bed.

“Sorry kiddo, your grandma and I need to go to this meeting, you know we have to help keep the human government and the wolves out. They need all the adult witches they can get and your grandma and I are running the whole thing.” Winter explained as she fixed up her face in the mirror.

“Can I come with you? Maybe I could help.” I wanted to do anything I could to get out of the house for the weekend, the thought of being home while Artemis and her friends had a party sounded like hell.

“I wish you could, Thena, but it’s just for adults. If anything were to happen we wouldn’t want the kids getting hurt.”

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“Yea, I get it. I’m just not looking forward to spending the weekend alone with Artemis.” I sighed. It was no secret that my sister and I didn’t get along.

“I know, and I’m sorry. You could always stay upstairs with Sebastian. You guys can have the game room, the gym and the library to yourselves.” She suggested.

“Yea that’s true, I guess I’m worried about what she’ll try to do to me without anyone watching us.”

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“Call us if anything goes down, we’ll come home as soon as possible. Also, call us if she throws a party, I know that girl and I know she’ll try.”

“I will.” I lied, I knew if I snitched on my sister I’d be getting my fair share of stitches. Also, the cutest guy in school was coming to her party. Even though I knew I had absolutely no chance with him, I at least wanted to get a glance at him.

“Good, I trust you and Sebastian. Artemis and Zeus on the other hand, well they’ve been trouble lately.” That was a bit of an understatement, if you ask me.

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Winter walked over and sat in the reading chair across from me. “So, how’ve things been?” She asked.

“Good.” I responded curtly. I knew she was worried, I didn’t have any friends other than Sebastian and I spent most of my time at the library here or the public one. My grandma wasn’t really around much either, she was always working to make sure we had a good life.

“That’s good, but if you ever need anything your grandma and I are here for you.”

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“Thanks, Winter.” I smiled at her.

“Well,” She stood up, after realizing I wasn’t going to open up to her. “I’m gonna go get your grandma, we’ll be out of here in a few. We’ll come say goodbye.” She turned on her heel and headed out of her bedroom.

I sighed and pulled myself off her bed. My weekend of hell was about to begin, and I needed to find cover before shit hit the fan.

————

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Sebastian, Dexter and I holed up in my room in front of the TV. We could feel the vibrations from the music downstairs pulsating through the floor. We were tense, the party was just starting, it was just Artemis and her friends so far, but they were already getting rowdy.  We were hoping they would be too focused on each other to come up here and bother us.

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 “Hey, Thena, can I ask you something?” Neither of us were paying attention to the movie, so I didn’t mind his interruption.

“Of course.”

“Do you think Artemis is right?” He bit his nail nervously.

“What about?”

“Y’know, how she’s always telling her friends I’m retarded. Is she right? Am I?” Sebastian was autistic and had ADHD, but that did not give my sister the right to use slurs against him.

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“She is not right, not at all. She’s an ignorant, terrible person. Never listen to her.” I was trying to stay calm, I didn’t want him to misinterpret my anger as anger towards him. I hated her, and how she could make my amazing best friend doubt himself.

 “Okay.” He avoided eye contact and started to pet Dex.

“Why do you ask? Did someone say something?”

“No, I was just thinking. You always take what she says personally. I thought maybe I was missing something, like maybe she was right about me.” He explained. My heart broke, I never knew that he noticed I took what she said to heart.

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“If I stop believing what she says, will you too?” I offered. It would be hard for me not to, but I had to try for him.

“Ok, I promise.” He looked up at me and smiled, then continued to pet Dex.

————–

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After we finished our movie, Sebastian decided to go to bed. Since everyone else was downstairs partying, I decided to work out in the home gym. I was down to a hundred pounds, and my goal was ninety. I wanted to look good in a dress for Homecoming, which was coming up soon. Not that I’d get asked, but I could still go stag.

Halfway through my workout, the gym door opened from behind me.

“Hey, this floor is off limits.” I called out, assuming it was one of Artemis’s annoying friends.

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“Oh, sorry. You just have such a nice house, I thought I’d take a break from the party to explore a little.” A familiar voice responded from behind me. Richie Fernandez, the hottest guy in school. Also, the cousin of Artemis’s boyfriend, Anson.

“Oh, it’s ok. I can see why you’d need a break, it seems like parties can be a little overwhelming.” I took a deep, shaky breath as I turned off the treadmill. He was so cute, I didn’t have a chance with him but I still didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of him.

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“Have you never been to a party before?” He asked, and I realized I probably seemed like a huge loser.

“Well, not really. Artemis has had a few parties before, but I’ve never actually been a part of them. We’re not exactly besties.” I admitted.

“She can be hard to get along with.” He chuckled. “Your name’s Athena, right?”

“Yea. Yours is Richie?” I asked, and he nodded. “Well it’s nice to meet you, I’ve seen you around school but we’ve never actually spoken.”

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“Well that’ll have to change, you seem very sweet, Athena.” He flashed a smile, making my heart skip a beat.

“T-thank you.”

“I’ll see you around, have a good night.” He smiled again and walked out with a wave. I stood there a few seconds, trying to process what happened. I couldn’t believe that someone like him would want to talk to me.

————-

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“Really, Richie Fernandez?” Sebastian scratched his head early the next Monday after the party. I didn’t tell him until now, because I didn’t want Artemis or Zeus to find out.

“Yea, he talked to me, and he wasn’t mean at all. I still don’t believe it.”

“Do you think he likes you?”

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“I don’t think so, he was probably just being nice. I mean, why would he go for me when there are so many pretty girls at this school?” I gestured over to Artemis’s group.

“You’re pretty, Athena.”

“Thank you, but not like them.”

“I think so. Maybe he wants to ask you to homecoming.” He smiled.

“I really doubt that, Seb.”

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“Oh gosh, he’s here.” I said as Richie walked into the school. Sebastian started to turn around but I stopped him. “Don’t look, he’ll know we’re talking about him.”

“Oh, ok. That makes sense.” He chuckled.

“Oh god, he’s coming over here.” I took a deep breath as I noticed him heading in our direction.

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“Uh, hey Athena.” Richie smiled his famous smile at me as he approached.

“Hey Richie, how was the rest of your weekend?” I asked.

“Good, thanks for asking. I was wondering if I could talk to you?” He looked over at Sebastian, as if cueing him to leave.

“Hey Seb? Why don’t you head to class, I’ll talk to you during lunch,okay?”

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“Oh, okay. See you then.” He understood that we needed a minute alone. He walked off to class and gave me a smile and a wink before heading up the stairs.

“He’s your uncle, right?” Richie asked when Sebastian was out of sight.

“Yea, but he’s only a few years older than me, so I consider him more of a brother than an uncle.”

“Oh, cool.” He moved into the space where Sebastian was standing only a few moments earlier.

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“So, I wanted to ask you something.” My heart almost stopped, what could he possibly want to ask me?

“W-what is it?”

“Well I don’t have a date for homecoming yet, and I was wondering if you would be mine?”

I’m pretty sure this time my heart actually did stop. Was I dreaming? This couldn’t be real. Why me, of all the girls in the school? Why would the cutest guy in school choose me?

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After a few seconds, I realized I hadn’t given him an answer. “Y-yes! I’d love too.” I responded, maybe a little too enthusiastically.

“Awesome, I’ll pick you up that night at seven.”

“Sounds great. I can’t wait.” I smiled nervously at him.

“Me too, it’ll be fun.” He winked at me, then headed off for his morning class. As he walked away, I pinched myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.