Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, profit from this story and all creative rights to the characters belong to Richelle Mead.
The original content, ideas and intellectual property of this story are owned by Breanna Nash. Please do not copy, reproduce, or translate without express written permission.
"Rosemarie! You're running late, get down stairs!" the devil screamed through the hallway. I had to grit my teeth from how loud she was, I wouldn't be surprised it my ears started shooting out blood, that's how damn annoying her piercing voice was.
"Yeah, yeah—got it Ma. You don't have to yell!" I exclaimed.
"Don't you dare raise your voice at me, young lady."
"Well don't yell at me and I won't yell at you." I said.
I heard a loud honk.
I peered out my bedroom window to see a jet black school bus, on the side, written in big bold white letters wrote: St. Augustine's Military Academy, aka my home for the remainder of my senior year.
The male bus driver looked annoyed and pissed; he continued to push on the steering wheel repeatedly causing the same annoying honk over and over again. I could already tell I wasn't going to dislike this prick.
"I'm coming, I'm coming. Get that stick out of your ass!" I grabbed my over-sized navy blue bag from my bed and hastily put it on my shoulder. I gave my room one last wistful glance before turning around and running down the marble stairs.
"Hey ma!" I greeted my mother with a sarcastic grin. "Where's dad?"
"At work," she answered, flipping through the morning newspaper absentmindedly.
"Figures," I muttered.
The bus honked again.
"Go, go, go!" she made a shooing motion with her hands.
"No hug?" I asked feigning hurt. "Give me one…after all; I'm not going to see you again until Christmas."
Janine sighed exasperatedly and opened her arms up very reluctantly—almost like I carried some deadly disease and she couldn't stand the idea of touching me.
I gave her a half hearted side hug.
That's when I noticed the steaming black coffee cup sitting on a coaster.
The evil side of me realized this was too good of an opportunity to pass up.
I smiled deviously through her smoothed down red hair and pushed the cup straight into her lap.
"Rose!" Janine shrieked, pulling of her white robe as fast she could. "This is going to cause second degree burns!"
"You'll live," I said. "Bye Ma, I'll see you in three months…don't miss me too much!"
"Oh, and one more thing, tell dad I said bye…You know what? Never mind. I don't think he'll even notice I'm gone!" I called out before slamming the door shut behind me.
I looked up into the clouded sky as I felt the first few raindrops fall onto the bare skin of my forearm. I held my purse over my head to keep the pouring rain from soaking my body.
I nearly slipped and fell when I stepped onto the metal steps of the big black bus.
"I usually don't wait for my students. But considering you're new…I'll let you off the hook. Just know, next time if you're not on my bus within thirty seconds, I will leave you here."
"Got it, Stanny!" I saluted the bus driver with a metal name tag that read: Stan.
"Do you know how to read?" he scowled at me. His thick brows furrowed into a hard expression. The worn set of lines chiseled across his forehead and the blackness of his eyes made him look angry—something told me this man always looked pissed.
"Yes, last time I checked." I smiled sweetly.
"Well then you need to get your eyes checked miss…" he trailed off.
"Yes, Miss Hathaway, because my name clearly reads Stan, so next time you decide to speak with me, show some respect and call me by my correct name." he turned his attention back to the wheel and began driving on the wet roads—rudely ending our conversation.
"Sorry Stan, I'll keep that in mind next time." I patted his arm. "I have a feeling we're going to get along great."
I scoured through the sea of seats but found them all full with students.
Or so I thought.
Way in the back, with the last possible seat opening, was some kid with jet black hair. He appeared to be a loner and I was sort of hesitant to approach him at first, but it was the last seat—and there was no possible chance I was going to be sitting on the filthy ground.
I walked up to him, one hesitant step at a time, and eyed his ripped and torn backpack that was currently in my way.
"Hey buddy," I said. His head snapped up and I met his crystal-blue eyes. "Can you move your things? They're kind of in my way."
Without sparring me another glance, he simply pushed all of his belongs onto the ground, they landed with a loud thump.
I sat down on the uncomfortable, hardly padded seat.
"I'm Rose Hathaway," I stuck out my hand in what was supposed to be a friendly gesture. The kid next to me looked at my hand but made no effort to shake it.
"Okay," I coughed awkwardly. "Can I at least get a name?"
"Christian," he muttered.
"Nice," was my genius response.
The awkward tension around us enveloped me like a blanket, I felt like I was suffocating in it, and I found it difficult to breath.
"Do I make you uncomfortable?" Christian asked from beside me.
"What?" I asked dumbfounded. "Oh, no no—of course not, what would make you think that?" I laughed nervously.
"Because you won't stop fidgeting," he pointed to my squirming hands.
"Oh sorry," I laid my palms flat against my lap so they would stop twitching.
"Don't be sorry, you have nothing to apologize for."
"Sorry," I blurted automatically. Christian responded with a smirk.
"Oops," I slammed my palm against my lips. "Sometimes that filter between my brain and mouth stops working, and I say things without thinking."
"I can tell," he said, running his pale bony fingers through his messy black hair. "I tend to make people uneasy."
"Why is that?" I asked.
"Because I was accused of killing my entire family, and starting my parents house on fire while they were sleeping." Christian stated.
"What?" I choked out, unconsciously scooting a few inches away from him.
"No, I'm just kidding…my parents were the ones accused of murdering my sisters—they're currently serving three consecutive life sentences in some high security prison. I survived the slaying because I was staying at my aunts house at the time." Christian laughed at his own joke, somehow finding humor in the tale he just told me—I however, didn't think it was so funny.
"Are you serious?"
"I mean exactly what I say, Rose."
"Oh, okay," I nodded, feeling extremely uneasy. Does this mean I was sitting next to some psychopath?
"So what's your story?" he asked, surprisingly trying to make conversation. "What type of screwed up teenager are you? An emo cutter, slutty alcoholic, Pothead?...The list is endless."
"I'm none of those,"
"When then what are you?...I know you're not coming to this fucked up school for nothing."
"My mother hates me, my Dad doesn't want me anywhere near him—because I might interfere with his precious business, and my boyfriend was recently killed in a car accident."
I felt a sharp pain pierce my heart at the thought of Jessie.
"Babe, give me your keys." I said sternly. Jessie simply eyed me with his trademark grin.
"Since when have you been the responsible one?" he slurred, chocking up in a fit of laughter.
"Since you're too fucked up to drive," I snatched the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, chucked it to the ground and stomped on it.
Jessie glared at me.
"I'm fine baby, honestly…I only had three drinks. Besides, we're only driving two blocks."
I sighed. "What did you just expect I would let you crash at my place?"
He giggled and draped a lazy arm around my shoulder. "Of course sugar plum, you love me so much…how would you feel if I had to sleep in the uncomfortable cold, hard car?"
"Ewww, Jessie, get off me…you reek of alcohol!" I giggled when he planted a big sloppy kiss against my cheek
"It's beautiful isn't?" he sniffed his shirt. "Now are you going to let me drive or not?"
"Fine," I growled.
"Now, that's my girl." He smiled breathtakingly before running over and hopping into the drivers' seat.
"Are you going to walk home?" he asked sarcastically. I shook my head and crossed my arms over my chest.
"Well, get in then!" he shouted.
Reluctantly, slowly, I opened the passenger and hopped in.
Jessie didn't waste anytime in pulling from the curb and peeling out towards my house.
"So babe, are your parents going to be home tonight?"
"Nope, I don't know where dad is." I shrugged. "But Mom is working late tonight. She has some business to take care of with her client Ms. Tarus" I spat with venom.
My mother always put more time in with her job than she did with me. I tried to get close with her over the years, but time after time, she chose her job over me—Janine wouldn't make any effort to set aside time for her daughter. My father was just as bad, he'd been accused in participating in illegal business and was a notorious drug dealer.
Eventually I gave up on trying to have a relationship with my mother—which proved to be allot easier—and now every time we spoke to each other it was brief. I was perfectly fine with that.
"Perfect," Jessie flashed me a devious smile, holding up the little piece of plastic in his hand.
"No Jessie, not this again…" I groaned placing a palm to my forward.
"What are you talking about?" he demanded. "This is the perfect time baby, your parents are gone, and we have the whole place to our selves…" Jessie trailed his hot fingers up my thigh, getting a little too close to dangerous territory.
"This is not the perfect time," I slapped his hand away. "It is the exact opposite! I don't want my first time to be with a drunken bastard."
"A drunken bastard?" he hiccuped and then laughed humorlessly.
I looked out the window and tried to ignore him.
"I've been waiting six months for you, six damn months!...Do you know how hard it is for me to give up sex for that long?"
"Why don't you go get it from some slut?" I retorted.
"I could. Do you know how many girls have thrown themselves at me?...Time after time, I have shot them down because I'm waiting for you to be 'ready'…but I've come to realize your more work than it's worth." He growled.
"Fuck you, Jessie! You're a real fucking prick, you know that?"
He slammed his foot down on the gas petal in anger and made a sharp right turn.
"Slow down," I whispered. He didn't listen and continued to drive like a maniac, keeping his raging eyes set on the road.
"I said, slow down!" I repeated a little louder.
"Shut the fuck up," he clenched his jaw.
I stared out the window worriedly.
"Babe, please you're scaring me." I cried, placing my hand over his in a soothing gesture.
It had the opposite effect.
He looked more pissed off and ripped his hands away from mine.
"That was a stop sign," I breathed. "You just blew that stop sign!"
"Oh, And you just noticed?"
"STOP!" I boomed.
I heard honking and an ear piercing screech.
It all happened in slow motion.
Headlines blinded my vision as the diesel truck slammed into the drivers side of our car.
I was too scared to scream, or yell, or even feel anything…
It was like a dream, everything didn't feel real. It was all disorienting.
After the fourth flip, I just quit counting and closed my eyes, somehow hoping this was all just a nightmare and I'd bee waking up soon.
I tried to picture everything good that had happened in my life.
If I was going to die, I was going to die in peace.
I thought of my mother and I in my early years, a time when her and I were really close. I always loved our fishing trips and stops at the ice cream shop. My life was perfect back then and I only wished I could bring it back.
I thought of my best friend Mia. The girl I'd been best friends with ever since kindergarten. The one who made me a stronger person and taught me to stand up for myself, she was the only reason I carried on and looked for an escape out of this hell hole called a life.
And lastly, I thought of Jessie. The first guy I'd fell in love with. The one I was willing to lose my virginity to. The one I'd hoped to get married and have children with.
Looking at him now, I could kiss those dreams goodbye. There was a huge gash above his right eyebrow, his left arm was twisted at an unnatural angle and he was completely covered in blood.
I realized we were upside down in my car, our heads hanging down and hitting the top.
My nose flooded with the smell of gasoline and my eyes burned from the smoke filling the car. I knew we needed to get out now, or else Jessie and I were going to be fried chicken.
I tried opening the door but it was jammed shut, Jessie's wasn't any better either.
"Hold on baby, hold on okay?...I'm going to get you out of here. Just please, Hold on." I said. Surprising myself at how calm I sounded; on the inside I was screaming and completely hysterical.
"Don't close your eyes," I shook his head and he groaned in pain.
"Please don't touch me," he whispered as a few tears slipped out of his eyes. "It hurts so bad Rose…just let me go to sleep."
"No Jessie," I cried out. "I need you here with me...stay with me. I promise we will get out of here. Hold on baby."
I slipped on my stoicism mask and drew in deep breaths. This was the only way to keep myself relaxed so I could be brave and not panic.
I hastily pushed on the buckle of my seat belt, it released all of my weight and I went toppling to the ground with a loud thump.
"Mother fucker," I groaned ignoring the sharp pain in my shin bone, I was positive I'd broken it with that fall, or maybe it was when the car flipped—I was unsure.
I started to feel dizzy and instantly knew it was because of the air I was breathing.
The thick smoke was keeping my body from absorbing oxygen; it was only a matter of time before I hit the early stages of asphyxiation.
I quickly ripped of my jacket and frantically searched for the bottled water I had placed on the cup holder before the crash, and luckily found it sitting by my feet.
I doused the cloth in water and carefully wrapped it around Jessie's face, making sure to place the damp spot near his nose and mouth area.
"This will make it easier for you to breath," I informed him. He grumbled in response and the sound broke my heart.
I already knew what was going to happen…but I refused to believe it. I had to keep going. Jessie couldn't die like this. He deserved more…so, so much more.
I tried relentlessly to kick the window out with my feet, even with tennis shoes on, there wasn't enough momentum behind my blows and the glass wouldn't budge.
I couldn't help the panic that rose in my chest as I noticed the fire was clearly getting closer to Jessie and me. This car could explode at any moment and that fact scared the hell out of me.
Instinctively, I searched for something hard to smash the window and discovered the perfect object.
I ripped the head rest from the passenger seat, gripped it tightly in my fingers, and swung it full force like a bat towards the window.
In an instant, I heard a loud clattering sound as the glass shattered to pieces.
After kicking out a few jagged edges that would no doubt slice me deeply, I climbed out on my hands and knees into the street.
The white and red diesel truck was turned on its side, there was shard remains of glass, and huge pieces of metal scattered everywhere—most likely coming from my vehicle.
I didn't waste any more time and limped over to the drivers seat. The vehicle was completely ignited in roaring flames and smoke was seeping from the windows.
I had to get Jessie out now; this was a matter of life and death.
"I'm coming babe," I coughed, waving my hand in the air.
I yanked on the door but it didn't move an inch. The entire left side of the car was completely smashed in. I couldn't help but feel a little panicked and hopeless.
Was this the end for him?
A very big part of me knew there was no way humanly possible to get Jessie out before the car exploded and took both our lives. But I had to keep trying, right?
I couldn't just leave him there to die.
I heard sirens blaring and lights flashing but all of my attention went focused on Jessie. The whole world blurred out. Nothing else mattered besides opening that door and dragging him out.
"Rose, stop," he managed to say. By now, I'd had nasty three degree burns running all the way to my elbows, my arms were completely black and the stinging pain was excruciating.
"Rose," he said louder. I stared into his pain filled eyes. "You have to go now."
"No," I said firmly, yanking on the door handle once again. "I cannot leave you, I will not leave you."
"You're not," Jessie whispered. "I've accepted it…I know I'm going to die. And I'm okay with it."
"No you're not, don't talk like that." I shook my head hysterically.
"Yes I am baby," he smiled sadly. "Don't let this torture come to you and take you away with me…please, leave now. I'll be fine…I just want to sleep."
"No!" I cried out. "It's not going to end like this; I promise…it's not over."
"Yes it is, and you need to realize that…go now. Go now before this fire takes you too. Go before it's too late."
"Please, No…God no," I screamed, punching the door with my fist.
"Damn it Jessie! Don't you fucking leave me..."
"I already have my love; now go…let me sleep." Jessie shut his eyes peacefully.
I let out an agonizing scream that would make anyones heart drop.
"I'm so so sorry…" I whispered, placing a kiss to his forehead. "I love you…Forever."
And then I walked away.
"The usual," Christian shrugged like it was no big deal.
"I suppose…if you believe that is normal." I said.
I felt rather than heard my cell phone vibrate in my pocket. I deftly retrieved it and snapped open the screen.
It happened to be a short text from Mia, asking how I was doing and how my first day was going.
I was about to text her back when my phone was abruptly snatched out of my hands.
My insides boiled with anger at whoever decided it was okay to take it away from me without permission.
I snapped my head up and was met with a set of hard dark brown eyes.
"This is mine now," the man said, I heard a faint Russian accent.
"No I think it is mine," I reached for it but he held it out of my reach.
In any other circumstances, I would have thought this guy way hot. He was tall, really tall…say 6'6 or 6'7 with shoulder length brown hair that hung loose around his face.
But his hotness was irrelevant now, he'd crossed the line when he snatched my phone away from me, and now he was on my bad side—where he would remain.
"Welcome to St. Augustine's Military Academy," he gave a dry, mocking smile before grasping the small device in his hands and ripping it into two.
"If I were you, I wouldn't cross me again." he said monotonically.
I stared at him in shock with my mouth agape.
"Here's your phone back, Ms. Hathaway," the man handed me the two broken pieces of wires and metal, and simply walked away.
"Thanks," I muttered under my breath.
"Welcome to St. Augustine's," a deep raspy voice rang throughout the bus. My ears cringed. I looked up to discover that annoying voice belonged to Stan. Beside him was that tall Russian—his stood still as a statue with his arms crossed over his chest.
I couldn't help but notice his dark eyes flash over and focused on me for a split second. They quickly averted themselves and continued their scan of students sitting patiently in the bus.
"I'm going to introduce myself one time and one time only. My name is Stan Alto and I will be your bus driver for the remainder of the year. General Belikov, please take over." he gave a curt nod to the Russian before stepping back and mimicking the others in a stiff pose.
The man stepped forward wearing a black cotton t-shirt, army pants, and black combat boots—much like the rest of his colleagues.
"Hello everyone, my name is General Dimitri Belikov." His deep voice screamed authority and the sound was intimidating—this man meant business. "I am going to make this introduction short and brief because I have other important matters to attend to."
I fought the urge to roll my eyes.
"I am first in command here at St. Augustine's, I am the one you will all report to. I assure you I didn't receive this position for my kindness and compassion. I take everything that I do as a series manner, I mean everything I say and don't take it lightly when a student decides not to follow by our rules." His dark eyes flickered over to me briefly.
"The most important school at this academy is the Honor Code: A cadet shall not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." Dimitri paused for emphasis. "This code will be drilled into your head from this day forward. You will never forget it. It will be the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning—"
I raised my hand.
"Yes, Miss Hathaway?" he asked irritably.
"Dimitri, I think the term you are looking for is Brain wash." I said.
He stared at me for a moment—long enough to make me uncomfortable and writhe in my seat. Dimitri smiled a predatory smile, one that said it was a big mistake that I'd challenged him.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a black radio and held it up to his face.
"Celeste, General Belikov speaking."
A few seconds pause. All the students watched him curiously.
"Celeste here," a woman's voice buzzed over the line.
"What room will Miss Hathaway be staying in?" Dimitri asked.
"Room E4301." she answered a few moments later.
He flashed me one more intimidating smile before speaking again. "Please have her door removed immediately."
"WHAT!" I shrieked. "You cannot take my door away, that is my privacy!"
Dimitri raised an eyebrow. "Kiss your privacy goodbye,"
"Remove her bathroom door as well." He spoke into the radio.
I stared at him wide eyed. "You so did not just do that,"
"I did." He shoved the radio back into his pocket. "And unless you want your bed taken away as well, then I believe you should shut that big mouth of yours before it gets you into more trouble."
I shut my mouth.
"Very well," he gave a satisfied nod. "I suggest the rest of you do not act in such dishonorable ways as Miss Hathaway has shown here, unless you would like to receive punishments…much worse punishments. By the time you are finished with your senior year, you'll discover that I do not like to play games."
With one last hard glance at me, he turned on his heel and stepped out of the bus.
"Talk about a dramatic exit," I murmured to Christian. He snickered.
"I will be taking over for General Belikov for the rest of this orientation," a husky female voice spoke. I looked up to see a middle age woman with salt and pepper hair. Although she had a worn down face and tiresome eyes, she was still very beautiful. "I am Sergeant Alberta Petrov, I am also going to make this brief because I do not like to waste my time. So listen up, because I'm not going to repeat myself."
Alberta paused for a moment to make sure every student was ready for her to continue.
"Alright, I will start with the basic rules," she cleared her throat harshly.
"If you are either late to class or fail to keep your room up to standard, you will more than likely be disciplined. The level of strictness is extreme here at St. Augustine's. By signing on to be a cadet, you basically kiss your right to privacy goodbye—just as General Belikov has expressed. There are routine inspections and drug tests, and a failure to comply with the Academy's rules will not be tolerated."
"Are you all following along?" she asked sharply.
There was a chorus of 'Yeah, yes, and uh-huh's."
"That is unacceptable." A more feminine voice spoke up. A petite tall woman stepped forward; she had jet black hair tied into a tight bun, ice blue eyes. And a very noticeable purplish scar on her right cheek.
The woman looked oddly familiar.
"That's my aunt Tasha," Christian whispered beside me.
"That explains it," I said.
"You'll like her, I promise." He winked at me. I smiled.
"You will talk to your Hierarchies with respect," Tasha said. I didn't miss the small smile she flashed Christian. "Cadets shall refer to us as our respected title and/ or by Sir and Ma'am."
After our debriefing, we were handed schedules and were immediately sent of to our rooms. Thankfully, Alberta had explained that it wasn't necessary for us to attend class for another week, this way we would have time to settle in.
Sure enough, Dimitri kept to his promise, and when I got to my room I discovered booth my doors were gone. That meant I had no shred of privacy. I'd even have to shower with nothing to cover me up—oh god.
That man was impossible, and I already knew we were going to be bumping heads—allot. I only hoped I could put up with him from the remainder of my year.
Yeah, that was wishful thinking.