CAPTIVE IN THE DARK, SEDUCED IN THE DARK, EPILOGUE: THE DARK DUET, together known as THE DARK DUET SERIES and/or the characters within, are the sole intellectual property of CJ Roberts, Neurotica Books LLC. This work is not for profit and is intended for entertainment purposes only as part of a writing contest hosted by CJ Roberts, Neurotica Books LLC.

Chapter 1

Olivia Ruiz picked up her bag and slung it over her shoulder. She knew trying out for the cheerleading squad would be tough but she had practiced her dance moves in the empty basement every night. She sensed the beat, the pulse and the sensuous rhythm as Prince sang about a sexy motherfucker. She had her routine nailed, but in the world of Kimmies, Winnies and Jennies a plain old Olivia from the wrong side of the tracks didn't stand a chance.

Olivia walked with her head down, not wanting to see the stares of the teams on the field or the athletes on the track. She could feel her skin begin to prick and her heart raced as she sensed someone behind her. She slowed and turned to look over her shoulder. Fuck. The "ies" were running after her.

"Oliiivaaa. Wait for us. You forgot your poncho." She could hear their taunts and giggles as they got closer.

"Hey, Olivia. No habla Española, can you understand us?" Which one was that? Kimmie? Olivia couldn't tell their valley girl voices a part to save her life.

What bitches! It wasn't a poncho; sure she had the last name Ruiz and the coloring to go with the name it didn't mean she spoke more than a few words of Spanish… how racist could these girls get? Olivia sped up and started to scan the field for anyone who could help her. Who could? She was new to East Mount High and had no friends at all. Being the new girl sucked. Lost in her thoughts and trying to avoid the hurdle things in her way, she walked straight into something warm and solid; it was a boy. Olivia looked up and the light caught his eyes, they were the color of a Caribbean sea and his hair was a shade of blonde that could never be fake. Her throat became dry and her tongue felt like she had licked the carpet. Strong hands gripped her biceps to steady her as he peered over her shoulder as the "ie's" were closing in. There was no time to think, Olivia wrapped her arms around the boys neck, bringing his head close and whispered against his lips, "Oh my god. Just play along, okay?" She didn't give the boy time to answer before she pressed her lips against his. A flash of awareness struck Olivia to the core as his hands became impossibly tight on her arms and he kissed her back. Like really kissed her and Olivia could do nothing but hold on.

"Caleb! What are you doing? Tuesday's are Mexican not Friday's!" Olivia could hear the girls laughing again as the boy, Caleb's, arms wrapped around her, bringing her close and pressed his hand against the back of her head, causing her to duck her head into his chest.

"Fuck off, Kimberly." The sound of his voice was deep rumble against her cheek. Wow, he has a nice voice and what was he doing? Protecting her? Sticking up for her? Why?

"It's Kimmie, Caleb and again, what are you doing? I mean, with her? You don't know Olivia. " Olivia tensed and waited for what would come next.

"It's none of your business, Kim." The power in Caleb's voice was intense and Olivia could feel the heat radiating off him. His hold became lose on her body; his hand slid down her back slowly and brought a shiver through her. Who is this guy? Caleb took a step back and grabbed Olivia's hand. "Let's go, Olivia." He started to drag her across the track; Olivia struggled with everything she had to keep up with him and not fall flat on her face. Olivia wanted to turn around and see the look on the "ie's" faces but if she missed a step and fell her reputation would be ruined. Yeah, she had a reputation already but not the one she wanted.

They walked until they reached the parking lot and were out of sight from the girls. Caleb dropped her hand and stared at her. Olivia could nothing but stare back, she should say something to this boy who helped her. Speak Olivia.

"Um, Caleb?" She gave an awkward smile and he raised his eyebrows in response. "Um…thanks for, you know? Back there. I am sorry I…"

"Kissed a total stranger? You do that a lot?"

"Um, no. I needed to get away from the 'ie's' before I lost my temper in front of them and looked worse than I did at my try out."

Caleb nodded and turned back toward the field. "The 'ie's?'"

Olivia shrugged and started to shuffle her feet as she became nervous. "Yeah, you know. KimmIE, JennIE, WinnIE. The "ie's,' what is it with their names anyway? Do they all have to end with IE? "

Caleb laughed and the rich tone washed over Olivia, she couldn't help but laugh back. "Every clique has to have their deal. I guess it's theirs. "

The nonchalant way Caleb spoke about the girls made Olivia relax. If this guy didn't think they were anything important maybe she shouldn't either. The sad fact was, they were important. Olivia wanted on the cheerleading squad. The squad was the only way she could dance at this school and dancing was in her blood. She needed to get on the squad no matter what.

"So, were you trying out or something? For the team?"

Olivia looked at Caleb, the mild disgust slid across his face before he got it under control.

"Yeah, I was. They didn't like my routine though. Said my 'style didn't fit their image' whatever that means. I used to dance at my old school but East Mount doesn't have a dance team so cheer squad is the only thing I can do."

"Why do you have to dance at all?" Goodness. The simple questions and the disdain were beginning to seep out of Caleb. What did he have against dance?

"Dance is what I do. You're a jock and I dance."

"I'm not a jock."

"No? What are you then?" Olivia felt herself becoming defensive and stopped talking before she said something she would regret. This was not the way to make friends at a new school or talk to the overly attractive boy who saved her from the "ie's."

Caleb shrugged. "I'm nothing." Olivia was about to respond when he said, "Look, it was nice to meet you, Olivia but I have to go and…" Caleb appeared to be suddenly uncomfortable. "Listen, I'd love to give you a ride, but I'm meeting a friend of mine just up the street. We usually carpool, and it's her turn…" Her? Olivia sure misread a few signals.

"Hey! No big deal. I didn't ask for a ride. I am fine walking home."

"Good. Good. Hey, Olivia? Good luck with, whatever you are doing."

Good luck? How nice of you, Caleb.

"Sure and hey, thanks for helping me with the 'ie's' again. See you around."

Caleb walked toward her and paused at her side, "See you around." He whispered and walked away.

Olivia attempted think of anything and everything else as she walked home to not think about those three words whispered before he walked away. Yeah, good luck, Olivia.

Olivia opened the front door and stepped over the threshold into the house. The new carpet smell assaulted her nose before she walked toward the kitchen and could smell dinner wafting through the open archway. Being in a new house was still odd but the sound of her Aunt's voice was an immediate comfort.

"Liv? Is that you?"

"Yes, Aunt Celia. It's me. I'm back."

Olivia could hear the clanging of pots and pans as her aunt lost herself in cooking. She loved the homemade food her aunt made even though each week it was from a different part of the world. Celia loved to try new things and a soundtrack to match the theme. From the sounds on the old stereo, tonight they would he dining in Africa.

"Good. Go get cleaned up, honey and come tell me all about tryouts. Your Unlce will be home any minute." Celia yelled above the music.

"Okay!" Olivia yelled back and waked down the hall to her room. Living with her Uncle Felipe and Aunt Celia was new. Olivia's mom had, well, not been the best mom and Felipe and Celia has decided when they moved, Olivia would come too. She could get out of the not so great neighborhood and move to East Mount with them and finish her last year of High School on a positive note. Olivia missed her mom but not string of booze smelling boyfriends who came and went. Her best friend Nicole was left behind but with the current technology, they never missed a day to talk, text or Skype. Still, the idea of starting new was frightening and exhilarating at the same time. No one recognized her here, her past didn't own her or what she was capable of. Sure, there was the run in with the mean girls of the cheer squad but she was determined to make the team no matter what. Plus, there was a boy who was way out of her league but Olivia did not have a problem day dreaming and putting Caleb in place of one of her many book boyfriends as she got lost in a chapters seven and fifteen of her favorite stories.

Olivia changed out of her dance outfit and went into her bathroom to wash her face. She turned on the water and stared at herself in the mirror; reflecting on the color of her skin, dark but more the color of her favorite coffee, her dark eyes, waist length dark, almost black hair and bangs which hit at her thick eyebrows. She wasn't the standard, stereotypical cheerleader but she needed to get on this team so she could continue to dance. Olivia cleaned up and made her way to the kitchen. Celia was in there bouncing from counter to counter to stove, to sink and back to the counters; chopping, stirring and shaking her hips to the wild beat of the music. Olivia loved her aunt with her quirks and sunny personality.

"What's for dinner, Aunt Celia?" Olivia asked as he parked her butt on a bar stool on the opposite side of the counter from the cooking madness.

Celia turned and wiped her hands on her apron. She walked to the bar and peeked at the cookbook she set up. "Tonight we are having, Marrekesh Vegetable Curry with rice."

Olivia scrunched up her face in disgust. "What the heck is that?"

Celia laughed and came around the bar to place a quick kiss on Olivia's cheek. "Don't worry, Liv. You are gonna love the dish!" Celia danced off to check on her food before it burned. "So, how was try outs?"

Olivia slouched in her seat and sighed. "They sucked balls, Aunt Celia."
"Language, Liv." Celia scolded and made the reprimand sound not as harsh as she delivered the scolding in a sing-song voice.

"Sorry. It did suck though. I nailed my routine but the mean girls of the squad, the 'ie's' took one look at my skin color; not at my talent, or my moves and decided I wasn't right for the team."

"They what?" Celia whipped around with a wooden spoon in her hand and started to rapid fire words in Spanish Olivia did not understand. She got a bit of what her aunt was saying she did understand a few curse words in Spanish.

"Language, Celia." Olivia turned at the warm voice of her Uncle chastising her Aunt. The playful way they teased one another was one of the things Olivia loved most about them.

The change that came across Celia's face could only be described as adoration. She dropped the spoon on the counter and walked straight into her husband's arms. Celia and Felipe did not have what most would consider a fairy tale relationship but to Olivia, the way they were with each other made her want the same thing; to be a part of someone who made you want to be better. She didn't believe loving someone completed you or you became one person when you fell in love. She wanted a partnership, to feel someone was behind her all the way and would support her when she was in need. Talk her down when she got crazy and push her when she wanted to give up. Felipe and Celia had the connection and after the things she has been through with her mom, this was nice to be around.

Felipe gave Celia a warm hug and a long kiss before releasing her with a spin and a smack on the butt.

"Aye, Papi!" Celia playfully swore at her husband as she retrieved her spoon and went back to cooking. She started talking without looking at either of them. "Did you hear what she said, Felipe? She said they judged her by the color of her skin."
Felipe waked over and wrapped his arm around Olivia, giving her an awkward side hug and kissed the top of her head. "I am sorry, Mija. I know you did your best."

"Her best IS the best, Felipe. How could those girls think anyone could dance better than our Olivia?"

Olivia sat with wide eyes and she listened while her Aunt and Uncle debate the authority, respectability and distaste of the squad leaders without having set eyes on them. It was strange to have such blind loyalty and sometimes made her uncomfortable.

"Aunt Celia, it's okay really. Today wasn't the last tryout. School doesn't start for another three weeks and the official try out has the coach involved. They let the captains have first pick so they don't have to do so much work." Olivia grinned. "Or so the rumor goes." She and Nicole had done their research on the cheer squad of East Mount High. From the different message boards they found, Olivia knew who controlled the squad and whom final decision belonged to. The coach, Dr. Janice Sloan, was as tough as they came but she led the squad to more championships than any other sport in the school. If Olivia got the chance to dance in front of Dr. Sloan, she would be in. She needed this chance.

Celia turned to Olivia; the concern was written all over her face and Olivia did not like she was the cause. She was almost eighteen, an adult, but they still worried and occasionally treated her like a child.

"You know, Liv. I can pull the old Alumni card, go to the school and…"
"NO!" Olivia put her hand down on the counter and cringed at the hurt on her Aunt's face. "I am sorry, Aunt Celia. I want to do this on my own. Please?"

Olivia's aunt and uncle grew up in the town of East Mount. It's why they made the decision to move back and bring Olivia here. Their fond memories of the town, school and general feeling made Olivia want too. Even though they were back in their old stomping ground and in a better part of town than the one they grew up in, it was still on the "wrong side" compared to where most of the kids at school were going to live. Olivia didn't bother with geography; she had bigger plans ahead of her. This was an address; it didn't brand her with a scarlet letter.

Celia nodded and conceded. "Okay, Liv. But if you ever need me?"

Olivia smiled softly at her aunt. "I know Cee. I know and I will."

"Okay then. So what is the next plan of attack?"

Olivia's uncle silently excused himself as the girls started to chat about a new strategy for the next try out. Celia went to school with Dr. Sloan and told Olivia intimate tidbits about her. One was odd and Olivia was sure wasn't true. She was curious though and would be interested to find out one way or the other.