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Authors: Briana Gaitan

To the Steadfast

BOOK: To the Steadfast
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rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written
permission from the author, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a

© 2015 by Briana Gaitan

Three Owls Editing

by R.B.A Designs

Edition, 2015

is a work of fiction.

characters appearing in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to real
persons living or dead are purely coincidental.




first loves we can’t give up on




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by Briana Gaitan

Hollywood Timelines series


#1 The Last Thing

#1.5 Maria

#2 The One Thing

#2.5 Just Caspian

Ethereal Underground Series


Mark of Deceit


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the edge of the windowsill, almost hitting the
nightstand before landing on the hardwood floor below my feet.

“Shhh!” Violet hisses
from behind me. It’s barely audible over the pounding of my heart, but my
adrenaline allows me to figure it out and soften my steps as I tiptoe away from
the window in her older brother’s room. Tonight ranks in the top ten of things
I’m sure I’ll go to hell for. Right up there next to lying, cursing at my mom,
and that one time when I was ten and stole a candy bar from the drugstore.

I’m not entirely proud
of myself at this moment, but it’s not as bad as most of the things I do. It’s
just sneaking in from an all-night party. All teenagers have to try it at least
once, right?

Normally we don’t need
to sneak in or out, but Violet’s parents grounded her and nailed her window
shut after they caught her climbing out it a few months ago. Funny thing is,
she wasn’t so much trying to climb out of it as she was trying to sneak in one
of her many conquests. That’s Violet for you. A devil in the disguise of a
sixteen-year-old girl. Her parents are obsessed with making sure she doesn’t
get pregnant before she turns eighteen. Just another mouth to feed, they say.
It’s not like they’re the best role models anyway. Some might even say they
have a jacked up sense of morals.

“A little help here?”
Violet asks, her body straddling the window with her black mini skirt riding
high up on her hips. I move to grab her hand to help her in, but her brother,
Mischa, gives her a boost from outside, causing her to go flying forward. I try
to grab her, but the drunk aren’t the most coordinated, and she lands head
first on the ground.

“Dammit, Mischa! Are
you trying to wake up Mom and Dad?”

“Sorry,” Mischa says,
climbing in after his sister. He swoops in feet first, followed by his torso
before turning and shutting the window behind him.

“Don’t breathe just
yet, we still need to make it to my room,” Violet says before putting her ear
to the door and listening to make sure no one is out in the hallway. I do the
same, hearing nothing but the static of the old television that’s left on
twenty-four hours a day.

Her parents have a
tendency to roam the halls at all hours of the night. It’s not unusual for
strangers to appear on their doorstep in the middle of the night. They knock
until Violet’s father, whom everyone refers to as Crumb, gets out of bed,
cursing the entire time, and gives them what they want. A fix is a fix, and an
addict doesn’t have manners. At least, the ones I’ve met.

“Okay, I got you back
in, now hurry and get to bed.” Mischa pulls his shirt over his head, flips his
MP3 player on, and flops onto the bed still wearing his shoes and jeans.

“Shut up, Mischa. I’m
not spending the entire summer grounded,” Violet slurs, but this only makes him
laugh. When he catches me staring, I divert my eyes from his smooth chest and
pretend to be staring off into space.

She throws a random
dirty shirt at the bed before sliding to the floor with her back against the
door and puts her face in her hands. I bend down beside her to feel her clammy
forehead and place a wastebasket in front of her.

“Please don’t puke,” I
beg as I pull pieces of her purple streaked hair away from her face. Violet’s
had a lot to drink, but not enough to cause alarm. She’ll be fine.

“Did you have fun
tonight, Cody?” she asks me.

much fun.” I
press a kiss to her cheek as her eyes close and then stand. I’ll give her a few
minutes to get her stamina back and then we’ll go back to her room.

“I’m tired,” Mischa
mumbles. “You wanted to go to Driller’s party; I snuck you out for a ride. Now
for the last time, it’s almost morning, so get back to Violet’s room before my
parents wake and figure out you’ve been out all night.”

I give him a slightly
frazzled look, but decide to egg him on by refusing to leave.

fun tonight, Mischa?” I ask, repeating his sister’s drunken words from a few
seconds ago.

“Just as much as you
did.” Mischa groans. “And I saw how much fun you were having making out with
that bowtie guy.”

Bowtie guy has a name,
but I can’t remember it. I think I may have had a class with him freshman year.
It doesn’t really matter though. He was cute, available, and in the right place
at the right time. Putting my hands on my hips, I wink. “A little jealous are

He isn’t amused.
Instead, the muscles in his face tighten up, and he straightens up as if he’s
trying to make a very serious point. “I don’t get jealous, especially not over

I do the normal teenage
eye rolling and pull a half-empty bottle of cheap vodka off his dresser. I
don’t want to go.

“Let’s play a game,” I
say. “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”

His eyebrow raises, a
cheesy grin taking over his face.

“Get your head out of
the gutter, Mischa. It’s more of a show and tell. I’ll show you some random
amazing talent, and if you can do it too, I have to take a shot. If the other
person can’t do it, they take a shot. Got it?”

“Where do you come up
with these random drinking games?”

I tap my pointer finger
against my skull. “I’m an amazing drunk.”

He nods at the spot
next to him. “Let’s play then.”

Opening the bottle, I
pass it to him before sitting down on the old, lumpy mattress.

“Okay, me first. Can
you do this?” I grab my lipstick from my pocket and balance it between my

“Hell, no.” Mischa
chuckles as I apply a smudge free application.

“Tada!” I smack my lips
at him.

He gives a slow clap.
“First off, you did not just
Breakfast Club
me,” he says referring to
our favorite movie. “ Second, I don’t have breasts so that was completely
unfair.” He tries to hand me the bottle, but I push it into his chest.

“Drink up, loser.”

He takes a long swig,
his first all night since he was our designated driver.

Prying the drink from
his fingers, I lean back against the headboard and kick off my heels to await
his retaliation. Mischa is such a quiet mystery. The only talent I’m aware of
that he possesses is making half the town fall in love with him. He gathers his
dark hair into a ponytail, the front strands falling out of his grasp, and
cracks his neck a few times like he’s preparing for a big fight. Reaching into
the top drawer of his dresser, he pulls out a Rubik's Cube. “Speaking of fads
from the eighties, I can finish this puzzle in fifteen seconds.”

“No way,” I shriek
softly, crossing my arms in front of my chest.

He responds by putting
his hand over my mouth and nodding towards the door. Mischa and I have gone to
the same school our entire lives, and even though, at seventeen, he’s only a
year older than me, I know that Mischa Cromwell is not a prodigy. He’s one of
the guys who sits in the back of class doodling in a notebook, making wise
cracks every time the teacher asks him a question.

“Believe it, but this
stays between me and you,” he says, giving the cube to me. I mix it up the best
I can, even hiding it behind my back so he can’t memorize the moves. Satisfied,
I give it back to him and grab the old brass clock on his nightstand to time
the seconds. Before I begin counting, he inspects all the sides and gives me
this slightly evil grin like he knows the secret to life or something.

“Ready, set, and go!”

Mischa begins spinning
the pieces so fast I can hardly keep up. It’s like he doesn’t even stop to
think as his fingers spin the sides into place. Suddenly, he throws the cube on
the bed and sits up before hitting his chest in a victorious man thump. I pick
up the cube, all the colored pieces back in their original spots.

So caught up in the
glory of his secret, I’d forgotten to time him, but there isn’t a doubt in my
mind he did that in less than fifteen seconds. “You should be in the Guinness
Book of World Records or something.” I take a swig of the vodka because there
is no way on earth I will be able to do that. Now I’ve been a straight-A
student my entire life, until recently that is, and I have never been able to
solve a Rubik's cube, not even close. I can barely finish a Sudoku puzzle.

“Why haven’t you ever
shown anyone?”

He shrugs, pulls the
bottle from my hands, and empties it in one long chug. “I had a lot of time on
my hands as a kid. I’m good with algorithms, numbers, and stuff like that.”

“What other things have
you been hiding from the world?” I ask. Five minutes ago, I was pretty positive
Mischa was a borderline idiot. All I’ve ever seen him do is goof off in class,
skip school, and flirt with half the girls when he

“I can pretty much
solve any equation in my head.”

“Quick, what’s the
square of 987?”

Mischa’s eyes close for
a brief moment as he calculates the number. “I’m a little tipsy, but I believe
it is 974,169.

My mouth drops in
amazement. “Hell if I know, but it sounds right. Why in the hell are you not
already in college or something? You’re like Doogie Howser with better hair. I
bet you could get any scholarship you wanted.”

His mouth tightens as
he opens another bottle of alcohol from his nightstand and flops down on the bed
beside me. He drinks about half the bottle before speaking.

“Teachers don’t care
about me. They take one look at my name and automatically dub me as a
troublemaker. I’m expected to fail before I even begin. Everything I know comes
from experience or the local library. I’m pretty much a self-proclaimed

“It doesn’t help that
you never come to class,” I point out.

“School is boring. I’d
rather learn what I want to learn. Besides, not all of us get the privilege of
having parents who support our education.”

“You think my parents
support me?” I scoff. Boy does he have it all wrong.

Violet snorts from her
spot by the bedroom door before mumbling something. I completely forgot she is
passed out over there. Suddenly feeling hot, I lift my long brown hair that’s
stuck to the back of my neck and fan myself.

 “I guess we better get
back to Violet’s room.”

All I want is to pass
out before her parents start blasting Rush on the record player. God forbid
teenagers sleep in on a Saturday morning.

“Can I have my keys
back?” I hold out my hand. He gives me a mysterious grin before reaching into
his pocket and pulling out a small gold keychain. He dangles them above my
head, beyond my reach.

“Can you say please?”

I swipe at them once,
remembering why I find him so irritating at times. “You’re drunk. Stop messing

He lowers the keys a
bit. When I reach out, he lifts them higher just to spite me. “Now come on. No
reason to act that way. You know you love me.”

My face heats, which I
hope he doesn’t notice in the dim moonlight.
If he only knew.

“I hate you, Mischa

“No, you don’t. You
love me. All the girls love me.”

Now there’s the Mischa
I know, the Mischa the whole town sees, not the polymath from a few moments
ago. “That’s disgusting. You’re Violet’s brother.”

“So?” He lets the key
dangle down further near his crotch, but this time allows me to snatch it from
his hand.

I give him an appalled
sigh. “Thank you. And for your information, you’re too old for me.”

“Now come on. I’m
seventeen, you’re sixteen, and you know what they say about girls maturing

“Are you asking me
out?” I ask, only half-serious. There’s no way he’s serious. We’ve only ever
been friends, if you can even call us that.

He stills, thinking
over what I said. “No, I don’t date.”

It’s surprisingly
painful to hear, but I keep a still expression. Violet is territorial over her
brother, having been used in the past by girls just trying to get close to him.
 “Violet would kill you.”

BOOK: To the Steadfast
11.08Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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