Pacific Coast Academy

Prologue: Choices


BPOV

My heart thudded anxiously my chest, anticipation racking through my entire body as a cold sweat was layered lightly on my skin. My hands shook as they swung absently by my sides as I paced—well, as much as I possibly could, the bathroom wasn't incredibly big—and my mind was racing at a mile a minute.

'Please be negative… Please be negative…'

That single thought repeated over and over in my head, a silent begging plea to some unknown and unforeseen force. I held onto it, hoping and praying that if it repeated enough that perhaps I could sway the hand of Fate to be merciful and spare me the one thing that I was dreading most at this point in my life.

I glanced hopelessly at the little digital clock that was placed on the marble counter of the bathroom, seeing that the glaring square numbers read five thirty-four. It had been only three minutes since I had begun waiting the five that it took to get the results; only two more two go. Only two more minutes until I had the answer that I was looking for. It was only a slightly comforting thought. On the one side I had to know; I just had to… I would eventually, right? It was best to get this whole affair over and done with right now. And then on the other… I didn't want to know; I wanted to go on unknowing for the rest of my life if it was possible.

A sudden shrill beeping shook me, sending my heart farther into over-drive than what it already was. I glanced down to the smooth surface of that marble counter-top, the six-inch pregnancy test gleaming at me tauntingly from where it rested.

I sucked in a breath through my nose, reaching out a shaky pale hand to grasp it. Its cold plastic seemed hot underneath my fingers, but perhaps that was owed to the fact that I was scared cold to the core.

Bringing it closer towards me, I turned it so that I could see what it showed.

I tiny, pink plus sign, shining dimly against the grey background that it was displayed on.

I simply stood there, too much in a deeper state of shock than what I had ever expected to move, to think, to say anything. I could hear, so very clearly in my mind, what the packaging had said when I had read it in the store.

'A simple test, a blue minus symbol indicates a negative result, a pink plus signifies a positive result.'

Pink plus… positive result…

I could feel a tingling sensation at the corners of my eyes, hot and prickling and irritating. I squeezed my eyes shut as taut as an air-tight vault, not willing the tears that I knew were coming to fall. I wouldn't cry, I couldn't cry.

But even as the thought ran through my head, two fat, hot, wet tears leaked from the ducts of my eyes. I blinked once, twice, and then again. My vision was fogged as a fresh flow cascaded out, trickling down my face and onto my shirt. There had only been one time that I had ever cried so much, one time that I had ever felt as hopelessly lost as I did this very moment, and it was the very reason that I was here today, shaking in total fear and disbelief in my bathroom…

I shook my head, sending tears in every direction. I would not think about that day, and I would most definitely not think about him. I would not think of the way that he had thoroughly violated me, broke me and hurt me beyond anything that anyone could have possibly ever done. I wouldn't think about the torment that I had put myself through because of him, his intrusion on my body, or the mockery in his eyes that I endured every time I saw him.

Though of course, the more I tried to force myself to not think back to that day, the more the images flashed in the front of my mind; the glint of his grey eyes, the evil sadistic smirk on his tanned face. Everything that I had nightmares about at night was flooding back to me in a rush at this new development, everything that I had hoped to be able to hide with time and secrecy on my part danced before me, striking at me in the most painful of ways.

But even my strongest will power couldn't prevent the day from crashing back down to me, as if it was only yesterday…

***

My hair billowed behind me as my legs worked up and down on the pedals of my fairly new bicycle. Warm, sweet Nevada air filled my lungs in and out, in and out. The glaring yellow orb in the sky shone down, heating everything in sight and made the little beads of cool sweat that were running down my forehead. I was glad that I had decided to wear a tank rather than a t-shirt; otherwise, I would be sweating like a pig.

It was fall here in Nevada, the week we got off for Thanksgiving break. Everything seemed to be bright and happy today. Even past the sandy, desert-like temperament here, it was still beautiful.

I was on my way to hang out with some friends for the day. I was grateful to be able to get out of the house; Mom and Phil, my step-father, were out on some sort of little romantic mid-day thing. It was the perfect excuse to get out of the house, go do something with the gang.

Conner—my best friend Danna's boyfriend—had called a few moments ago saying that everyone—Danna, Lee, Ben, Carry, Kris, myself and Anne—were coming over to chill for a while since Conner's parents were out. 'Hey, my parents are out of town for a while, I called up the gang and they're in for a while. You should come,' was what he said. I agreed, leaving a message in Mom's cell telling her that I was going out. She wouldn't have a problem with it; this was something that we always did, so I readily agreed and threw on some decent clothes from the ones that I had had on (sweats and a white t-shirt) And then hopped on my bike—you know, being fifteen sucks when you can't drive around places because you're too young—and headed towards Conner's.

I had considered calling Danna and asking if she wanted to go over there with me, but seeing as Conner was her boyfriend, she was probably already there. Mostly likely sucking face with him. It's all they seemed to do.

I shook my head as I rounded the corner onto Conner's street. The image of your best friend and best friend's boyfriend lip-locking on a couch is not one of the most amazing things to watch. Seeing as I have been so unfortunate to have witnessed it, I've had my eyeful of that enough.

Seeing his house up on the right I veered over, bike tires rolling over the even pavement of the drive. I hopped off smoothly, feet landing lightly on the ground as I leaned my silver and green bicycle against the metal of the garage.

Conner's house was painted a light crème, and like most houses here, there was a large towering palm tree in the front, casting a shadow on the impeccably lush, thick jade grass. A large window took up most of the front, giving a nice view to the inside of the house. The large flat-screen TV and sound system of the living room could be seen from the outside, as well as part of the large white-leather living room furniture and the doorway of the kitchen.

Approaching the front door, I could hear what sounded like old rock from inside. Raising my hand I pushed in the circular plastic button of the door-bell, waiting for someone to answer. I absentmindedly bobbed my head to the beat resounding inside before I heard the music turn off. Through the frosted glass of the door, I saw a figure making its way towards me.

I smiled politely when the door opened, revealing Conner behind it.

He had a large grin on his face and a happy glint in his grey eyes. He was a very good-looking person, standing at roughly five-eleven and having smooth tanned skin—not uncommon here, the tanned part. His hair was a mix between blonde and brown, looking like neither and both at the same time. I suppose his most defining feature were his eyes, resembling the air on a cold winter's morning: crisp and frosty.

But, I suppose most of his appeal came from the fact that he was older. Where Danna and I would be going into our sophomore year after this school year, Conner would be going into his junior. Of course, he would be a senior, but had gotten into 'trouble' in his freshman year, and had to be held back. I didn't really know what that 'trouble' was; I hadn't been there when it happened, and Conner never really told us about it.

It was what had attracted Danna to him in the first place. He had a reputation for being a 'bad boy' through the school. Few people messed with him, and it wasn't hard to see why. He was well-built—far from a body-builder, though—and if he got mad he got a look in his eyes that just screamed 'run'. Along with that, he was somewhat of a player. He flirted here, touched a little there. Girls were practically throwing themselves at him, and he ate it up.

Not that he wasn't a good person, because he was. Easy to get along with, had a nice sense of humor. But sometimes I wondered why he acted the way he did when he had Danna. Must be some kind of 'older guy thing'. I wouldn't know; I'm not an 'older guy'.

"Hey Bella," he greeted enthusiastically, moving aside to let me in. I could feel the cold air from the AC instantly blow over me, cooling my overheated skin.

"Hey Conner," I said back, stepping beside him and entering his house.

Much like the layout of mine, Conner's had a large and open foyer in the front, right across from a staircase that led to the other floors of the house. A medium-sized crystal chandelier hung from up high on the vaulted ceiling, each part sparkling from the yellow sunlight streaming through the large front window off to the right.

I walked towards the living room, hearing the door snap shut behind me. It was oddly quiet in here, with the music off. I wondered why for a second. Usually, everyone was lounging around, laughing and messing around and eating food when we were here. Stepping into the living room, I realized why. No one was here.

I furrowed my brows, looking around to the opposite side of the room, where the door to the kitchen was.

Empty. How odd. He had said that everyone was coming over, had he not? Perhaps I had heard him wrong…

"Hey Conner, where is—" I began, turning around and coming contact with his chest. I backed up a little bit, rubbing my nose from the impact. I could feel my face heat up.

'Stupid blush,' I thought. "Sorry," I said aloud. He smiled.

"Eh, no problem. And everyone else is on their way. Lee and Ben's parents had them do something at their house, so they'll be a little late. I think Kris, Anne and Carry are car pooling, and Danna will be here in a little bit," he said smoothly. I nodded.

"Figures, I'd be the one to end up here first," I said, a little miffed. Conner chuckled, and shrugged.

"Oh well, might as well make the most of the silence," he mused, staring down at me and smirking. I looked away, clearing my throat a little before speaking.

"Yeah, might as well," I agreed. "So, you got anything to drink?" I asked.

"Sure. Water, soda… Alcohol if you really want to break that out," he joked.

I shook my head, chuckling. Always the one to want to break rules, Conner. "Whatever. I'll get water. It was pretty hot outside, and I haven't drunk anything in a while. Water sounds pretty nice right now," I said. He nodded.

"Water it is then. And speaking of water, I can't wait until those pool people get to refinishing our pool outback. It sucks not having it," he said moving around and making his way over towards the kitchen.

I nodded. Before Conner's pool cracked and had to be replaced, we all used to come over here what seemed like every week and swim there. At any rate, it was nicer and cleaner than any local pool—where two year olds were liable to pee—and was a lot less crowded and less rules presided over it, allowing for maximum fun during the hot summer months.

"Yeah, they've been working on it how long? A week?"

"Mm hm," he replied absently, turning not into the kitchen, but to the left and into the hallway. I looked at him confused.

"Uh, where are you going? Water's this way," I pointed out. I heard his laugh before he called back.

"No, water's this way, in the basement. Besides, that's where we're all hanging out anyways. I left the front door unlocked so when everyone arrived, they could come in. Come on," he instructed. I just shrugged; his house, right?

I followed behind where he had walked off to, down the small hallway that lead to the door to the basement. It was ajar, and I heard Conner's heavy footsteps falling onto the wooden stairs that led to our usual hangout when all of us were here. I fell into place behind his descending figure, nearing the bottom.

I jumped down onto the carpeted basement floor from the third to last step, landing with a 'thud' on the balls of my feet.

Despite the usual misconception of basements being creepy places, Conner's was very nice. Half the length of his entire house, it was equipped with a TV, a decent sound system, love-seat, couch and a chair, as well as a few bean bags for us all to sit on. A bar—behind which was a mini popcorn machine, and rows upon rows of soft drinks and both glass bottles and cans, a fridge (full size) and freezer—was tucked beside the nook where the stairs were. He also had a pool table down here that also doubled as a card table whenever his parents had friends over.

Along one wall were three sets of shelves that held a seemingly endless supply of DVDs, CDs, and various video games that Conner—and his father—owned together. They all went with the PS3, Wii, and other gaming devices cleverly stashed in the entertainment center that housed the TV.

Currently, Conner's head was in the fridge, rummaging around inside. He pulled back, one bottled water and one Mountain Dew in his hand. He walked over towards me, lightly tossing the water to my hands. I caught it, glad that it was cold as I opened it up and greedily chugged down half the bottle before taking it away from my lips and taking in air.

"Thirsty?" he said, smirking as he opened his own drink, taking a swig of the yellow-green liquid and then screwing the top back on. He walked over to where I was standing and then past me, leaping over the end of the couch and then plopping himself down. His head turned around so that the side of his face was looking at me.

"Come on. We can turn on the TV something in before everyone shows up," he suggested. I shrugged; whatever was cool with me.

"Sounds fine, as long as it's not re-runs," I said, walking around the couch sitting on the opposite as Conner. I kicked my shoes off so I could cross my feet on the couch. I turned my head slightly, seeing Conner holding the slender black remote and clicking the TV on before turning to me and smiling.

"How's the music channel sound? Seeing as most of the things on are re-runs?"

I nodded, taking another drink of my water and laying my head back on the edge of the couch. I listened to the sharp clicking of the remote buttons, and after a few moments I heard soft rock music float all around from the speakers. I bobbed my head to the unfamiliar beat dancing around in the air.

For a few moments, we just sat in silence. After a while, I felt Conner shift on the couch. I lifted my head to look at him, seeing that he had scooted over a little bit and had turned his body so that his whole front was facing me. He was looking at me like he was contemplating something, and I had to ask what.

"Is something wrong?"

He didn't answer right away, just looking at me for an immeasurable amount of time with an unfathomable look in his eyes. He scooted closer.

"I'm going to break up with Danna," he said, totally out of the blue. I just sat there, speechless. I couldn't have heard him right, but I was sure that that was what he said.

"Um… but, why?" I managed. A small, leering grin donned his face.

"I have an interest in someone else."

My thoughts ran together, trying to think of something to say. What was I supposed to make of that? 'I have an interest in someone else'. What did that mean—besides the obvious—and who did that mean?

"Um… huh… wha…? I mean… wh—who?" I stumbled out, shaking my head and trying to make something discernable with my jumbled thoughts. He leaned forward, and as if on an impulse, I leaned back slightly.

His frosty eyes bore into mine, holding me with his intense stare. It was like he was going past my eyes and searching for something inside them. He moved forward, so far that he was just barely a foot away from me. Even from his distance, I could feel his hot breath wash over me.

"Well, I would have thought you would have known the answer to that question, Bella," he whispered. I was just silent; there was nothing I could say at this point. I looked away from him, not wanting to look in his eyes any longer than what I had to. Because it clicked with those words; he was talking about me. And it was totally perplexing, to say the least.

I took a deep breath, not at all as comfortable near him as I had been before. I decided to change the subject, now that it was clear where the conversation had gone. Clearing my throat, I did just that.

"Um… hm. Where are the others?" I asked, turning away from him and sitting so that my legs were hanging off the edge of the couch. For some reason warning bells were going off in my head, and the thought of being able to easily get up and go was oddly comforting at the moment.

I heard Conner chuckle from beside me as he sat straight in the same position that I was in. An involuntary shudder ran through my spine when his arm went over my shoulders.

"Not here," was his reply.

"Are they coming?" I dared ask, hoping that the soon-to-be presence of the rest of my friends would make this entire situation blow over for the time being.

"Oh yes," he answered, as if that was an obvious fact. "Though they'll be here later. Much later, in fact. I told them to come, but they're all under the impression that we're hanging out here tonight and staying over until tomorrow."

He was speaking casually, but there was something… off, about this whole situation. Terribly off, and I seemed to just now understand as much.

"Listen, Conner. I like you and all, but, I like you like a friend and not like… well, not like that. I'm sorry, but that's just the way it is," I told him. "I mean, you're my best friend's boyfriend. Even if I did like you like that, I wouldn't go out with you. That's wrong," I said as I went to move his arm off of me.

He wouldn't budge.

Instead, he tightened his grip on me, turning so suddenly so that he was hovering just over me, hands on either side of my face. He lowered himself down, face just inches apart from mine.

"C—Conner… What… What are you doing?" I whispered.

He hadn't answered me.

He had showed me.

***

An odd, strangled gasp tumbled from my lips as I tried to repress the images back, but they just wouldn't stop.

I felt myself back up, back and back until I hit something hard and cold behind me—the wall. I felt my knees buckle, my whole body slide down, down until I found myself sitting on the tiled floor. I couldn't stop the tears then, nor could I stop to the sheer sinking anxiety that rippled through me.

And then a sudden, horrific realization rushed through me.

What was I going to do?

A question that was easy to ask, though hardly simple to answer. I had—for this long—kept everything about that day an unspoken secret, only told in my own mind to myself. So how was I going to keep it under wraps now? Of course the answer to that was displayed across my eyes like a blaring neon sign in the darkness, the only way to keep people from finding out, to keep them from knowing, from suspecting.

It was probably the easy way out.

But even as that thought ran through my head, my hand involuntarily trailed down, fingers splayed over my slightly protruding stomach. There was something—someone—in there, under the surface, growing. Could I be so selfish? So inconceivably selfish and self-promoting as to even think something like that? To erase a being from the planet as if it didn't exist to keep myself from having to explain, to revel what had happened… Was it a choice that I could bring myself to make? Was I capable or willing enough to do so?

I already knew the answer.

And as I knew the answer, I knew that, as I ran my hand over my stomach and let the last few tears fall from my eyes, that what I chose to do—what I chose to keep—would be the biggest turn in my life that I would ever make.


Lenn: I am back, I am alive, and I am writing. Finally.

Reasons this re-post took so damned long: (1) Start of the new school year. Being a Sophomore taking all Junior level classes is a pain. (2) Marching band. It wears your ass out. (3) Swine Flu. I got it. It sucks. Be glad I'm not dead yet. Seriously.

So, on those notes… Glad to be back! I haven't posted anything in forever, and it sucks. Look for updates to this story every other week, at least. Chapter one is in the works, and it should be posted soon.

As always, big thanks to Leon. He rocks the socks for beta'ing and being all around kick-ass. Hugs and cookies for TRD, Dream, and J. They know why : )

Reviews are better than Swine Flu. You leave 'em, I love 'em. : )