He also made her bully, Sally, want to Eat. Her. Heart. Out.
He also makes her wonder what the truth is.
Everyone has secrets and horrors.
Hopefully her heart won't land Beyond the Sea
On Monday after school, I walked through the gates with Aoife as we chatted about her latest art project. I was aware of Sally, Claire and their group just a few yards behind us. I was always aware when they were close. The hairs at the back of my neck stood on end, like I’d developed some survival instinct to warn me of predators.
I heard Sally’s cackle of laughter and turned my head ever so slightly to see the cruel gleam in her eyes. She’d clearly just made some joke at my expense. I frowned and gritted my teeth, anger bubbling up inside me. Then the loud roar of an engine cut through my thoughts. A motorbike pulled up outside the school, and it took a second for my brain to compute that it was Noah. He pulled off his helmet and ran a hand through his thick, dark hair.
“Oh my God,” I whispered under my breath, and Aoife shot me a funny look.
“What’s wrong?” She followed my gaze then blinked several times when she saw who had drawn my attention.
“What’s he doing here?”
“I have no idea,” I answered. I also had no intention of finding out. I hadn’t laid eyes on Noah since he may or may not have caught me snooping in his bedroom on Saturday. In fact, I’d gone out of my way to avoid him at all costs.
I ducked my head and attempted to hide behind Aoife as we passed him, but then he called my name. “Estella!”
I winced, and Aoife gaped at me, wide-eyed. I gave a little wave in Noah’s direction and replied with a courteous, “Hello,” before quickening my step. He climbed off his bike and caught up with me. I stopped in my tracks and folded my arms when he blocked my way.
“What do you want?”
He lifted an eyebrow at my petulant tone, eyes moving over my face and lingering on my mouth a moment. Instinctively, I bit my lip, feeling unnervingly exposed under his cool gaze. All of a sudden, I was hyperaware of him. I did my best to keep my composure when he stepped closer, his voice low when he asked, “That bully of yours around?”
My eyes widened as I chewed my lip. “Um …”
“You told him about Sally?” Aoife whispered, and I nodded. She raised an eyebrow. I didn’t blame her for being surprised. The way I’d spoken about Noah wouldn’t have led her to believe we’d been close enough to talk about such things. And we weren’t. I still wasn’t sure what possessed me to tell him. All I knew was he had a way of drawing personal details out of me.
Noah turned his attention to Aoife, a congenial smile in place. “Hello, Estella’s friend. I’m Noah.” He held his hand out to her, and she glanced at it briefly before shaking with him.
“It’s nice to meet you, Noah. I’m Aoife.”
“Aoife,” he repeated, sounding out the syllables “eef-ah” in a low, sexy voice. “What a pretty name. Say, you wouldn’t be interested in pointing out the bully, would you?”
Aoife shot me a questioning look, and I vehemently shook my head. She looked back to Noah. “Afraid I can’t. Sorry.”
“Who is that?” Claire asked from close by, and I saw Noah’s ears prick up at the question.
“I don’t know, but he’s fucking hot,” one of her friends answered. Now he smirked. Ugh.
“What’s he doing talking to her?” This voice I recognised instantly. It was Sally. Noah must’ve seen something in my expression because his face hardened as he looked over my head. I knew it the second his gaze zeroed in on her. “Ah, I see the little bitch now. Spitting image of her father. Come on. Take my hand. Let’s make her jealous.”
Wait? Noah knew Sally’s dad? I stared at him, dumbfounded, while Aoife gave a hoot of approval. “I think I like him.”
Noah shot her a grin. My heart raced, and I just knew Sally was behind me, standing by the school gates and watching this scene play out very, very closely.
“Go with him,” Aoife urged. “I want to see Sally and Claire’s faces when you two drive off on that motorbike. It’s going to be epic.”
Noah held my gaze, and there was something about his challenging stare and Aoife’s encouragement that made me bold. In that moment, all I wanted was to give Sally something to feel jealous about. For once, I wanted to feel like I’d won. And being picked up from school by a hot twenty-something-year-old guy on a motorbike would definitely do the trick.
Without thinking, I placed my hand in Noah’s. His palm was unexpectedly warm, his grin enigmatic.
“See you tomorrow!” Aoife called as he led me over to his bike.
Noah handed me the helmet, his green eyes piercing. “Is she watching?” he asked. I nodded, nervously taking the helmet from him. “Good. Now put this on and climb on behind me.”
I did as instructed, glancing in Sally’s direction one last time and seeing furious jealousy all over her face. Satisfaction filled my stomach. I didn’t like succumbing to revenge-like urges, but lately, more and more, I wanted my enemies to suffer.
“Hold onto me,” Noah said as the engine roared to life. I thought for a moment about how close our bodies were, but then the bike started to move, and I panicked, wrapping my arms tight around his torso for fear I might fall off. I’d never been on a motorbike before, and I was just slightly terrified.
We sailed away from the school and onto the main road leading out of town. I would’ve wondered where he was taking me, if I wasn’t so distracted by how close he was. His stomach felt hard, his back solid against my chest. Once we were on the open road, he increased his speed and my skirt flew up. I squealed in shock.
“Relax,” Noah said over the noise of the engine. “We’re almost there.”
Almost where? My socks went up to the knee, but the rest of my legs were completely exposed. Noah’s attention flicked down momentarily, and butterflies swarmed my stomach at the thought of his eyes on me. He focused back on the road, and I closed my eyes, feeling the breeze whipping past my face. For a brief, blissful second, adrenaline rushed through my system, and I was … strangely happy.
On a lonely cliff beside the vast blue sea there is a house.
In the house there lives a girl, and in the girl there lives a dream.
Soon she'll be as free as the fishes that swim beneath the water. But until then she bides her time and lives quietly, her every move ruled over by an uncaring, heartless stepmother.
The hope for freedom is all she has to hold onto. So close she can almost taste it. But when her stepmother’s estranged younger brother comes to stay, he presents a mystery that lures her in.
The girl doesn’t understand that beneath the allure of the unknown sometimes all we find are horrors. And in searching for the truth, her heart is in danger of falling like a rock to the bottom of the deep dark sea.
Beyond the Sea
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Greetings! ‘Tis a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My name is L.H. Cosway and I hail from Dublin, Ireland, where I live with my husband and two tiny dictators of the canine variety. My favourite things in life include daydreaming about fictional characters, eating in fancy restaurants, looking at dresses online that I’ll never buy, having entire conversations with my dogs, listening to podcasts and of course, reading books. I happen to believe that imperfect people are the most interesting kind. They tell the best stories.
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