Authors: Joanna Mazurkiewicz
All about you, part 1
(Love & Hate series #1)
Copyright © 2014 by Joanna Mazurkiewicz
First published in Great Britain in 2014 by Joanna Mazurkiewicz. The right of Joanna Mazurkiewicz to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1988.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are product of the author’s imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the author/publisher, except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review to be printed in a newspaper, magazine, journal or blog.
Table of Contents
“We are here,” yells my friend Dora, slamming unexpectedly on the brake pedal. The baggage on the top of the back seat falls over, hitting me in the back of my head. I curse silently, hoping that Dora can’t hear me. She knows that I don’t use this kind of language anymore.
“That’s great,” I mutter, massaging my scull. Dora beams, looking at me from the driver’s side. I chose to sit in the back hoping to catch up with some sleep, but my plan failed because Dora blasted music on full when we left Gargle, our hometown.
“Oh my God, India, this is so exciting. We are finally here,” she flaps with her high-pitched voice. “Look at these buildings. Can you imagine what—”
We both get out of the car while she talks. I know that I should be listening, but I can’t seem to focus today, and her monologue about the wild parties is always the same. An odd sensation brushes over me and I start to wonder why I’m not excited like Dora. We both have been counting the days to come to Braxton, and now I feel like I need to turn back. Maybe I’m not meant to go anywhere else but Gargle.
I take a few deep breaths and stretch my neck. Braxton University is the place where I always wanted to study. My mother and grandmother went here. Dora always wanted to live alone; she has been talking about this ever since she was accepted.
Me, on the other hand, I just couldn’t wait to get away from my toxic past.
Dora is my best friend, but I’m not sure if I made the right decision to drag her here with me this time around. Her parents are wealthy, so she could go anywhere in England that she wanted to, but in the end she followed me.
Maybe she decided to come to Braxton because we always did everything together. We aren’t at all similar, but we have known each other for years and it’s just easy that way. Dora would be a distraction from all the important stuff that I planned to do this year. She wants to party and carry on with the life she had in Gargle. Me? I want to distance myself from the past and concentrate on things that matter.
I walk around the car and start taking my bags out of the boot. The sun is blazing in the sky, burning the nape of my neck. In a few weeks it will get cold; it’s surprising that the weather is still good in late September. But I feel an odd tension in the air as if this peaceful day is going to be ruined by a thunderstorm. I notice heavy dark clouds starting to gather in the south.
“Come on, India, let’s move. I want to check out the campus before it gets dark,” Dora says, pulling me back to reality.
“All right, chill out. The bags are heavy,” I snap.
“Oh, sorry, Miss Sensitive,” she says, frowning. “Why are you in such a bad mood today?”
“I’m fine. Cut it out. Just tired,” I reply through tightly pursed lips. She waves her hand and starts walking. I bite my lips, knowing exactly what she is talking about. I was up late last night thinking about Christian and the next day I’m never the same after doing that.
We left Gargle in the early afternoon. Mum insisted on packing tons of food for us. She still thinks that we won’t be able to cook a proper meal and we would be living on beans on toast. My little sister, Josephine, kept asking if she could come and visit me soon. She wants to see Braxton for herself. She is only fifteen, but she’s already heard stories about university life, and she can’t wait to taste the freedom for herself.
I take my bags and start following Dora. Her brown hair is flowing freely around her shoulders. She is walking towards the blocks of student apartments. I don’t know why but my stomach makes a funny jolt when I see the buildings that stretch in front of us.
We cross the path walking towards the entrance. I switch my bag, as my arm starts to ache, and drag my main suitcase behind me. We both notice the group of students throwing the rugby ball to each other outside on the grass. Dora is already playing with her hair, pretending that she is struggling with her luggage, probably hoping that any of those blokes would give her a hand. I roll my eyes, ignoring her moans, and move ahead. For a brief moment I feel someone’s eyes on me, so I stop and turn around.
One of the guys who was throwing the ball is staring directly at me. His eyes squeeze shut and a fire spreads over my spine. He seems familiar, but I shake my head, knowing that I don’t know anyone in Braxton and the sudden blaze of heat is just in my imagination. Dora manages to get the attention of one of the guys and they start chatting away. This is just so typical of her.
“Pass the ball, Jacob,” someone shouts behind me. But I ignore that voice, which sounds so familiar, heating up the blood that runs through my body. I think about back home. Mum asked me to call her when we reach Braxton just to make sure that we arrived safely.
Then something hits me hard in the back of the head and I let go a loud “Owww!” and turn swiftly around. I spot the rugby ball on the grass and reach out to massage my head. I narrow my eyes, spotting the same guy who was staring at me a few second ago. He is smirking.
“What’s your problem?” I ask, my jaw tense with anger.
He doesn’t look sorry at all that he hit me with the ball. He is tall and muscular. His dark hair is cut close to his scalp. For some reason the “special forces” haircut suits him. He is too far ahead so I can’t see the color of his eyes, but his gaze is pulling me to him like he is made of a magnet. Jeans hang low on his hips and his white T-shirt is dirty, probably from rolling on the grass. I glance back at his friends who are staring at me, startled. Something isn’t right here—he obviously wanted to hit me on purpose.
“Well, who have we got here? Isn’t it the one and only, India Gretel?” he says loudly, like he wants to make sure that everyone hears him.
“Do I know you?” I ask with impatience, eyeing him from head to toe. A large whacky grin appears on his handsome face. Something in his eyes tells me that we already met. His eyes harden on me as he picks up the ball and closes the gap between us. He has a wide jaw and full beautiful lips.
“Don’t fucking tell me that you forgot about me already, Indi?” he asks, smirking. “Boys, let me introduce the biggest bitch that ever stepped in Braxton.”
I blink rapidly, staring at him, digging all my memories out or anything that could tell me if I’ve seen him before, but I get nothing.
“Oliver, who the hell is that?” asks one of the guys walking up towards him. Dora probably notices my little show because she approaches me, looking equally confused.
“India, who is that douchebag?” she asks, frowning.
Oliver. That name rolls in my head like a snooker ball. It curls my toes and increases my heartbeat. It’s like a poison that crawls into my pores and wrecks my body. His name brings on both good and bad within me. It’s the name that I have been trying to forget for the past two years.
I stare at him like he isn’t really there and I’m hallucinating. My heart starts pounding, sending a signal to my brain to start running when he approaches me.
It’s not him; it can be.
“I’m sorry. I don’t know who you are,” I say, but my voice easily gives away my lie. The memories squirm back to me. Even the color of his eyes is the same. They are his and I could never forget them. Deep blue, looking straight through me, touching down to my pain that his brother caused so many times. I cut the eye contact quickly enough and turn around but have trouble breathing.
“I don’t know what makes you so dumb, but it really works,” he shouts, and his friends laugh.
“Hold on, India, is that—”
“Dora, I didn’t know that you were still friends with that witch?”
Another insult that hurts more than the first one. The blood drains from my face and my body goes rigid. I try to count to control myself, but the warm guilt pours into my stomach like a hot lava. Dora recognizes him straightaway.
“Oh my God, Oliver, is that really you?” She chuckles. “You’ve changed,” she says. I look back at her, trying to give her a sign to move along, but she is standing there still staring at him.
He continues humiliating me. “Do tell my friends here about yourself, Indi. We all enjoy good horror stories.”
“Dora, let’s go,” I snap, even though I feel too numb to move. I clench my teeth and drag my feet forward, ignoring my skyrocketing pulse.
“Oliver, you look hot,” Dora sings flirtatiously. “See you around.”
She hurries after me. My stomach goes through a series of contractions as we walk through the building. My heart is pounding like it’s just about to explode. I need to take a deep breath and forget that I saw him. He was never supposed to go to Braxton. He isn’t here; it’s just my hallucination. I wished that I could change the past, but the tiny voice in my head states that I brought this on myself.
“Do you want to stay a bit longer, honey?” Mum asked, touching my palm gently as if I were made of glass. We were alone; many people had already left. Mum was waiting to take me home, but I couldn’t move, watching the Bearers. They were lowering Christian’s coffin down to the ground, their faces stone cold. Soon no one was going to remember him and the things that he’d done. Soon he was going to be forgotten.
Heavy, grey clouds hung over our heads. I stared at the same spot for several minutes, seeing the demons of darkness and death. They approached me, crawling over my back and digging long needles through my heart.
“Yes,” I replied, not recognizing my own voice, which sounded empty. Christian’s mother had asked me to sit with her in front raw. People were talking to me, but everything was like a blur. People came, then left, but I was still there hurting.
Mum didn’t say anymore. She got up and left me with my own nightmare, maybe because it was easier that way. I stared back as the coffin disappeared into the ground, and I was glad that he was dead. A few days had passed since the party at Christian’s home. I still hadn’t told anyone about what happened. When he dropped me home I’d gone straight to my bedroom and cried. Christian was an ideal teenager, but a few weeks before his death he turned into a psychopath. He knew throughout the years that I didn’t feel the same way about him, but he kept this knowledge under control until the party, then he lost it. He was devious, he made sure that no one noticed anything.