Just A Little Luck
First of all, Amanda Benson really didn't want to go to Dark Falls but Mr. Benson had gotten a call about some property down there, from an uncle she never met, and they'd just sold their old house.
She'd given up hope of returning to her old life, her old school and house, with a stiff upper lip, unlike her brother, who was kicking her seat like a petulant toddler.
Josh whined the entire way about being hungry/tired/thirsty/hot/cold and about everything else under the Sun.
Scowling; she twisted in her seat and hissed, "Shut up already!"
"Dad, Amanda told me to shut up," her little brother shrieked, kicking the back of the seat as Petey, the family dog, whined in the back. Her seat belt dug into her throat, rubbing the skin raw.
Mrs. Benson sighed heavily and Mr. Benson patted her shoulder as he turned. The asphalt beneath the tires changed to gravel. "Josh, please be quiet," their mother begged in a thick voice.
Josh fumed and crossed his arms, singing horribly off-key to incite migraines.
"Can we please strap him to the roof of the car?" the girl muttered under her breath as she crossed her arms, ignoring the hair whipping around her face.
"I'm afraid that's child abuse," Mrs. Benson murmured, leaning forward and squinting out the windshield and, then, Mr. Benson added, "Unfortunately." He gave Amanda a smile, which she returned reluctantly.
Moving to Dark Falls wasn't exactly on her To Do list but she'd eventually gotten over it, unlike her brother, who fought tooth and nail against getting into the car, thrown his McDonald's fries all over the floor, and purposefully spilled his milkshake all over Mr. Benson's windbreaker. The car still smelled like stale fries and chocolate milk.
"Grow up, why don't you?" Amanda had spat at him, glaring and then Josh had shot back, "Why don't you get some actual friends?" That made her turn back around with a clenched jaw and burning face. It wasn't a secret that she didn't have as many friends as him but, if they ever argued, he made it a point to rub salt in the wound.
Amanda watched the blur of trees absently, mesmerized by the light and dark greens that merged together in one continuous string, a cheek in her propped up, upturned hand. As much as she hated to admit it, there was something charming about this place. So different than the cookie-cutter houses of her suburban neighborhood, with their over watered lawns and lawn ornaments and sticky little kids running around after whatever ball they had.
"I'm sure you'll love it here," Mrs. Benson muttered, slowing the car down slightly as her husband placed a hand on Amanda's head, ruffling her hair.
She rolled her eyes at her father's antics but stayed quiet.
Josh, however, felt the need to belt his opinion. "I hate it here!" he cried loudly, "It's too hot! And it smells like animal pens! They aren't even any kids here, I bet!"
"Will you stop thinking only of yourself for, like, five minutes?" Amanda snapped, losing her cool.
Josh quieted for a moment. "You suck," he said calmly before reaching down and throwing what was left in his milkshake cup at her.
Chocolate slush splashed in her face, dripping in her hair, down her face.
Mrs. Benson slammed on the breaks and the car lurched in the huge aisle between the lines of dreary, dark houses. Droplets of milkshake splattered on the windshield.
"That's it, Joshua," Mr. Benson snapped as he ripped off his seat belt and threw open the car door. "I'm sick of you acting like a little brat," he hissed as he opened the door, grabbing his son's arm.
"Go find the public bathroom. Can't miss it," Mrs. Benson said, getting out of the car to calm her angry husband.
Amanda nodded weakly as she scrambled and heard a loud crack. Josh was holding his cheek and Mrs. Benson was tugging Mr. Benson away urgently.
Amanda looked away.
It took a bit of stumbling and wiping sugar out of her eyes but she eventually found the public bathroom of Dark Falls, located a few feet down the road. Dust puffed up from the wooden porch as she pulled open the old, crooked door and squinted. The tiles were chipped and cracked, the door hanging off the hinges, and the windows were dingy, leaving the bathroom dimly lit. The water ran clear, though and she eagerly splashed it on her face.
"You okay?" A hand touched her back as she splashed the water into her eyes, blinking away the brimming tears. Getting milkshake in your eyes really hurt.
"F-fine." When she lifted her head, the hand had drifted up, ghosting through her sticky, clumpy hair.
The boy behind her was tall and lean, with dangerously high cheekbones and ashy blonde hair. "You have milkshake in your hair," he stated, dropping the clump he'd been holding between two fingers.
"Yeah. My younger brother…" She trailed off when she noticed his eyes. The most pale shade of blue she'd ever seen, like arctic waters; instead of tiny pupils, they were huge and black.
"Amanda?" It was Mrs. Benson leaning in.
"Oh, hi, Mom." Amanda smiled.
Mr. Benson stood hesitantly behind his wife, Josh sulking behind him with a tear-stained face.
"Who's this?" Mrs. Benson gestured to the blonde boy.
"Oh." Amanda's breath left her in a short rasp.
"I'm Ray. I live here with my family. I'm guessing you're Charles's brother?" the blonde boy said, extending a hand.
She blinked hard. She hadn't even realized he'd moved.
"Yes. This is my daughter, Amanda, and my son, Josh and my wife."
Ray's grasp looked strong as he pumped her dad's hand firmly. When her dad drew his hand back, he blinked hard and flexed his fingers like he'd been hurt.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Benson, Mrs. Benson. Mr. Dawes has been waiting for you. I can take you to him, if you'd like," Ray said with a sharp smile, all sharp teeth and charming air.
The look he shot Amanda sent chills down her spine, her stomach tightening; her face flamed violently and she lowered her eyes quickly, staring down at the cracked tiles.
"Follow me." He bowed like a prince greeting royalty and held the door open for them, ushering them all outside. When Amanda passed through the doorway, Ray's hand brushed her back, trailing a line down the path of her spine and resting just above the waistband of her jeans. She let out a little yelp of surprise.
"Everything okay, Amanda?" Mr. Benson was looking at her with worry in his familiar brown eyes.
"Y-yeah. Just spooked myself, ran through a cobweb," she muttered while shooting Ray a look from under her eyelashes.
He looked completely and utterly innocent, as though he hadn't attempted to grope her with her father right there. "Cobwebs," Ray laughed—no, snickered softly in her ear, his cool breath tickling her skin and making the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.
There was something off about this guy—no, this entire town.