Memory (Scars 2)

By: Sinden West
Book Two: Scars Series

Chapter One

I sat on the beach with the sun beating down on me, running my fingers through the warm sand as I read my book. Perfect. Everything was perfect right there at that moment; being alone on that beach with the ocean stretching out ahead of me, endless and full of promise. Yachts and huge launches dotted the landscape, riding out the swell of the water, and I wondered about what adventures their occupants were going on and what they were escaping.

A blonde boy jogged down the beach and for a moment I thought he was Finn, my ex-boyfriend who belonged to another life. But that wasn’t really another life; that had merely been playing pretend. This was my life now, where mistrust and deceit reigned, except whereas before my mother was the queen and I a mere handmaiden, now Aaron ruled and I was never sure of my place. I fingered the necklace that lay at the base of my throat, its symbolism never far from my thoughts.

It wasn’t Finn. This boy was older, much older, a man really, with broader shoulders and a well-developed chest which was bared and shiny with sweat. He veered away from his route by the water’s edge and headed up to where I sat as I enjoyed my solitude.

“Hey.” He was breathing hard, hands on his hips and showing off his physique. This guy was broader than Aaron, like he worked out just to show off; unlike Aaron whose rigorous training regime had the end goal of being as lethal and effective as possible.

“Hi,” I replied coolly, slightly resentful that my tranquility was interrupted but I didn’t know why. Much of my time was spent alone. Thomas was my only friend, along, perhaps, with Antony, and of course there was Aaron…

If my icy tone bothered him, he didn’t let it show. He held out his sweaty hand and I shook it with my sandy one. “I’m Ryan. I live a few doors down from you.” He flashed a grin of perfect teeth that were an example of dentistry at its finest. This guy had money dripping from him. The address, the looks…this was privilege and wealth wrapped up in one perfect package.

“I’m Paige.” It was funny how the name didn’t roll off my tongue with ease anymore. I was so used to being called Rachel that sometimes I was scared that I would forget who Paige was. At night I would lie awake in the dark, mouthing Paige, Paige, Paige, over and over as Aaron lay in an untroubled sleep next to me.

“Nice to meet you.” He sat down beside me. “I’ve seen you around here for a while now and always wanted to say hi.” His chest muscles moved as he breathed. He was the embodiment of health and normality. For a bizarre instant I imagined myself in black and white next to him, while he was vivid in Technicolor.

I forced myself to smile in response, and it felt like a foreign action, as if I were ice and my face had to crack for that smile to form.

“Anyway, we’re having a party on the beach tonight. It’d be cool if you could come.” That perfect grin never died.

“I’m not really into parties,” I told him, and that was the truth. I liked them well enough when Mara and Torrance were alive, but that felt forever ago now.

He lifted a shoulder like it didn’t matter, rejection probably just bounced off someone like him. “Just come for a drink, if you want.” He got to his feet. “I hope I see you later. Bye, Paige.”

“Bye, Ryan.”

The teeth flashed and he was off, running like he had somewhere to go and I watched until he disappeared down the beach before I gathered my book and stood. I made my way up the sandy path that led up to the wall which kept Aaron’s house divided from the beach. It was strange that someone who had such a high tech security system in his home would have a property that bordered the public beach where anyone could walk up undetected. It made me think of him as human, that maybe he needed the freedom and openness that only the ocean could bring. Sometimes, I allowed myself the fantasy that he needed that wide ocean on his doorstep due to a fear that one day he would end up locked in a prison and confined to a tiny, dark cell. Although, the idea was a silly notion; Aaron feared nothing.

I entered the code to the gate and it swung open, buzzing sharply in contrast to the sounds of the beach and nature around us as a signal that I was entering a different world. The disturbing sound only ceased once I had the gate securely closed behind me and the picturesque ocean was locked away from my view. I padded up the stone path and past the lap pool in my bare, sandy feet, wiping them as I arrived at the door of the glass architecturally designed house in which I cohabited with Aaron. Of course, I made sure that I was clean before I entered. He did not like mess, and his home always needed to be pristine, perfect, and blinding white.

I found him in his gym, on the treadmill and sprinting hard. I stood in the doorway and watched him, his muscles moved under his skin like he was some kind of machine. As far as men went, he was perfectly formed. Slim but muscled, everything about him was hard. On those occasions that we went out together, other women would stare at him. They always seemed to be the pretty innocent type; they could obviously tell that there was something dark lurking within him and subconsciously perhaps, they wished that he would eat them up like the big bad wolf. If he were darkness, then I was the ice queen: unsmiling with frozen blood locked in my veins.

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