SIXTH CHAPTER

HOLIDAY

The next few weeks were the last until the end of their junior year. It was tough time for Lucy and Alex. Their life was getting too complicated and secretly everyone wished this could end faster so they wouldn't have to face each other every day and to pretend that nothing had happened. He was too embarrassed of the way he behaved in the forest and all the things he said. She was depressed and had lost all her hopes about them so his presence was bothering her like hell. They were doing their best to avoid each other but it was quite hard after they were sitting so close to each other most of the day. Even he devoted himself completely to the studying and got quite better grades at the final tests, which surprised the teachers. Anything was better than to think of her.

That was one of the loneliest periods in her life. Lucy was moving through the people and didn't notice them. Everyone was seeing there was something wrong with her but nobody guessed why. It was true that she defended him during the fight but that was all.

Alex was supposed to be content because she completely abandoned her previous desire to go after him. It would be even more disgraceful to her. In spite of her strong feelings, she had some pride. During their acquaintance she had done a lot for setting up their relationship. She did her best to understand him, to befriend him and help him. She had shown she didn't think of him as the others did. In the end she revealed her heart in front of him (he was the first person she had talked to in such a sincere way) and sacrificed her dignity in order to get through his barriers. It was all in vain. Actually, it wasn't. The things just got worse. What more could she do? Obviously it wasn't meant to be with that boy and the sooner she accepted that fact the better it would be.

But it was still quite early just to forget about him. Her memories were very fresh and replacing him with someone else wouldn't fulfill the emptiness in her heart.

It appeared strange to her but in these nightmarish weeks she wouldn't have survived if it weren't for Jimmy. The anger towards him melted quite quickly after the forest scene. Lucy couldn't tell him about her unsuccessful love story but since then they were talking a lot together. Lora was blooming with joy when the girl stayed for dinner and was calling her "future daughter-in-law". But their relationships weren't crossing the broad between friendship and something more.

She had definitely been wrong about Jimmy. At first she thought he was just another dumb athlete with charming smile and he acted like that at first. But that was the manner he was used to behave with girls because he felt he wouldn't succeed in different way. He was funny and more intelligent than he gave himself credits for, but unfortunately was quite submissive. He was afraid to express his opinion. All his life he'd been taught to think in the way the crowd was thinking. The boy had to do his best to impress his mother, who completely adored him and praised him as an idol, his friends and everyone who had certain expectation for him. Lucy learnt that during the times they were studying together. For some time she tried to talk to him about the way he was accepting the world and that he has to express his real self but Jimmy was still too shy about it.

Yes, one day he could be a good boyfriend if she helped him a bit. Not like Alex but at least he wasn't pushing her away as the latter one. Sometimes she felt guilty that she kind of used him as a substitute but after all, it hasn't been that long since her hopes got broken.

Alex, on the other hand, wasn't in much better status than her though he was the one to blame for what happened between them. Lucy hadn't tried to talk to him but he himself started watching her. Fortunately, she wasn't aware of that.

His feelings for her were growing stronger. The initial tenderness melted and turned into something more. His worst fears had come to life and now there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't go to her because probably she wouldn't want to have something with such a mean bastard. He also didn't want to go to her. The hallucination with his mother was still following him in his nightmares.

Perhaps that strange voice was right and he really was a coward.

The most tormenting part of all this was that he was forced to see what he had done to her every single day. She was coming to school regularly with puffy eyes and red face. The previous energetic though a bit sad girl had turned to excruciated young woman. And he was guilty for all this. Because of his fears and his damned past. There were still remains of the stone walls surrounding his emotional world. It seemed that these broken pieces were stabbing in his brain and weren't leaving him in peace.

Maybe the time to talk to someone about what happened that night had already come. If he didn't confess the memories would kill him or drive him mad. Wouldn't it be good to release himself of the emotional burden? Susan Johnson could be a good listener even if he was just an experiment for her.

But he hasn't discussed his feelings for so long that he had forgotten how to do that.

Lucy was spending so much time with that Jimmy Anderson. The jealousy, that red and bloody feeling, which was even stronger than fury, was strangling him. Every time their hands were touching or she threw a little smile at him or he was walking her home it was causing a little explosion in his brain. She appeared a bit happier when he was around. What was worse he had no right to set the negative emotions free. He had no right to be jealous. He had officially given up on her in front of the cottage.

"But I'm in love with…" Alex crossed the thought sharply. He couldn't admit it even in front of himself.

"You are bigger fool than I thought." The spiteful voice was whispering. "You are just letting the girl you love go and don't do a thing to stop this. She's fond of you now but none could grieve forever. Soon Lucy Kane will get over you and would go with Jimmy or someone else. But what is more important she won't be with you!"

In general all of them were entrapped by the weird serpent rides of fate.

Lucy was suffering quietly.

Alex was too proud or too afraid to admit he had been wrong and ask her for forgiveness.

Jimmy was playing the role of the knight in shining armors and shoulder to cry on.

But he wanted some more than simple friendship with Lucy.

The inevitable happened on Wednesday, two days before the end of the school year. Alex had been delayed with picking up his things. Everyone ran out faster than usual. They were so excited that they were almost flying. But he was not in the mood to be jostled by the crowd so he waited for a while. The corridors were deserted when the boy went out of the classroom. He was tired and anxious to go and relax in his hideout. His aunt was away for few days to see some relatives of her diseased husband, so her "lovely" nephew was free.

Alex was just thinking to start writing this afternoon when he heard some voices. He recognized them fast and hid behind the lockers.

"Lucy…"

"What was that you wanted us to talk about?" He heard her sweet sad voice and got freeze. Were they already…?

"I… I've been trying to tell you this for very long time but I never dared. I've noticed you were special from the first time I met you." Alex's blood started boiling. "I have never met anyone like you before. You are so… kind, understanding and smart and… you just don't care what the others think, you just… well… I want you as more than a friend. Do you like me, Lucy? Do you want to be my girlfriend?"

"And now she will say yes. Bye, bye, Lucy Kane! Bye, bye, love! Bye, bye everything. That's what cowards like you get in the end…"

But he felt her hesitation and intense in the air. Alex came closer to the talking couple so they wouldn't see him but he could see them clearly. There was standing Lucy – tall, beautiful, longhaired, a bit innocent… perfect. Right now he could be with her instead of Jimmy, to touch her hand slightly, to enjoy the lovely sapphire shining in her eyes… "Damn, I'm getting sappy!"

She still hadn't responded yet but the reluctance was clearly visible in her body language.

"Jimmy…" She looked down and bit her lips. "I like you. You are great friend and you helped me a lot. But…"

"What?" The blond boy looked puzzled.

"I… I can't do that to you. You don't deserve this. No, please, let me finish. If I agree to be with you now it would be unfair because… I don't like you the way you want me to do that. I'm in love with someone else."

"Lucy…" He touched her cheek and slid her finger through her eye. "Obviously that fool doesn't deserve a girl like you. He makes you cry, doesn't he? Don't you think I haven't seen your tear marks and how sad you are?" He leant down to kiss her but she turned her head. "You are miserable, darling. I can make you happy."

"Please… try to understand me. Right now I can't feel anything different. Please, don't push me!"

"OK, honey. I promise I won't." He took out his hand and walked away. "But think about it, Lucy. I'll never make you cry. You were not meant to cry."

She sighed and went after him in slow pace.

Alex let them leave and then went out of the school. His skin was burning of intensity and he had plenty to think about. Everything was such a mess… His love life, his past, his present and future. He had told her she couldn't just turn his world upside down but that was what she did. But it wasn't only because of her. Something was meant to change and she was just the bearer of his new life. He had reached the dead point of his existence and was stuck in some dirty dark road. None could stay like this forever. He had been silent for so long that it led him to the verge of madness.

The youth opened the door of his hideout and sat on the table, cupping his head in his hands. It was all so empty… even the birds couldn't enchant him anymore. Nothing could bring back his inspiration apart from her.

But she was gone and wouldn't come back. Soon she would accept Jimmy's offer and would forget about him.

Right now Lucy Kane loved him. She had always loved him but he has been a fool not to see she had nothing with Dana.

He loved her too; it was pointless to deny but he still had all these doubts crawling in his mind.

"Hell! I'm lucky I haven't been in love that often before. It really sucks."

Alex went to the cupboard and took his notebook. If he tried to write about something all these bad thoughts would disappear and he would find solution to his problems.

Then the pen simply started to fly on the white paper. He even didn't realize what he was writing about. May be finally he had gotten over that damned block. Everything seemed perfect until his fingers went dead and he used the moment of rest to see what he had written.

The result completely discouraged him. He had just described the perfect moment with his sweetheart. Alex groaned with pain and dug his nails in the stiff surface of the table. It was pointless.

He not only didn't get what he wanted, but was also slowly turning in sloppy little thing. What would happen next? Perhaps he would go under her terrace reciting poetry and acting like total moron in order to impress her. The very thought of it was making him writhe with terror.

"Perhaps the best for me would be to kill myself? I'd rather be dead than being like this."

"Oh, yes, and you are going to prove everyone they had been right for you? That you are suicidal freak like your mother? Is that what you want? To give them pleasure?"

No, he wouldn't do that. At least not now. Not yet.

Alex stared intensely at the last lines of his notes.

"The darkness was spreading and I couldn't find any source of light, any direction in what I call life. Please, don't leave now, because if you do that you'll kill me. I'll die slowly in the darkness. But if you ever decide that the world would be a better place without me, just remember that my immortal soul will be forever devoted to you and your happiness. I love you, Lucy, my shining star."

If someone ever came to see that…

The school year was finally over and Lucy could relax. The good thing was that she wouldn't go to school for the next months and wouldn't have to see Alex every single day. But, on the other hand, she didn't have to study and that meant that she wouldn't have what to occupy herself with. The girl had done some attempts to draw but all of them were failures. It would be better to leave it all the way it was. Once he got her inspiration back she would start again.

But that wouldn't happen soon considering the amount of personal tragedies in her life. Her relationships with Hanna and Gabriel weren't perfect at all. She had just lost her first love. The nightmares were getting the best of her. She still couldn't even think of what had happened during that unforgettable week.

Anyway, this summer could help her forget.

But it wasn't done yet.

Their head teacher was arranging a school trip for celebrating the successful end of the year. Their exam results at the final test were the highest and they deserved one little prize. They would spend two days in a local seaside resort, famous for its beauty, calmness… and discos. Most of the students had been there before but it still attracted them as a magnet. There were legends that this place puts a spell on you and you never forget that.

Lucy wasn't in the mood for this though she loved the sea. Right now her strongest wish was to withdraw of society and think over the main problems of her life. Probably a bit fun on the beach would improve her feelings but she strongly doubted it. The girl wouldn't even consider that trip as possible plan if it hadn't been for her parents. They again started reproaching her that she worked too hard and wasn't giving herself time for friends, entertainment… and something else. All this torment would last for the rest of the summer so she decided to satisfy them. It wasn't such a sacrifice and it would last only for a couple of days. Besides she was sure Alex wouldn't be there.

Lucy couldn't be more wrong.

He felt the same way about the… hmm… "prize." As if it wasn't enough he had to stand all the idiots during the school year. Being with them for even such short period of HIS time was too much. It wasn't going to be there very happy experience. The things would be fine if Susan Johnson hadn't messed in it. She told Alex he was getting more and more antisocial and that he needed more contact with his classmates. He, on the other hand, insisted that they were the ones who were avoiding him almost all his life. He hadn't been able to communicate with them for eight years. What would change for two days? But the bitch wasn't so easy to persuade. They ended up in an endless argument until he got so tired of it that was forced to agree with her. Besides, it wouldn't be bad to impress her. If she decided he didn't need more therapy that meant end of all it.

"Oh, yeah, it would be so fun, fun, fun!" Lucy and Alex thought unhappily while packing in the night before the trip turn out to be far more interesting than they bargained for.

The buss was leaving at eight o'clock in the morning so at quarter to eight the parking was packed with happy faces and the air was fulfilled with nonchalant chattering. Even Jimmy, who had been especially down since Lucy's refusal, looked elated. Obviously he still hoped he would win her heart and that that holiday was giving him a good chance. He thought that if he treated her in the best way possible and showed her how the things could be she would forget about "the other one".

Alex turned up last for which he gained some sharp, accusing looks. Lucy had already taken her place by Dianne's side. She was trying to avoid his look as he was searching for empty place. For a moment they met each other's gazes but then looked away at different directions.

But Dianne had seen everything.

"Do you like him?" She asked when the driver started the engine.

Lucy stared at her with perplexity

"What?" The girl pretended to be absent-minded. "Who?"

"You know perfectly well who I am talking about. Our darling rebel without a cause. I've suspected this since the fight but my doubts got cleared when Jimmy told me you have turned his proposal down." She played with a tress of her silver blond hair. "Do you deny it?"

Lucy sighed and leant back.

"Listen, Dianne, I don't want to insult you but some things are just my own business. I don't want to talk about it, really."

"So, you've got a crush on Alex!" Her friend insisted.

"No! He's just… well, I made an attempt to befriend him but he rejected me. That was all."

"Besides that I'm madly in love with him." She thought with sadness.

"His friend, huh?" Dianne made a pause. "If you insist on not telling me the truth, that'' your decision. But I just had to warn you. We are friends and I care for you. Don't mess with someone like him! He's not good enough for you!"

"Why?!" Lucy flared up. "What do you have against him? What has he done to you?"

"Nothing. At least so far. But everyone knows what his mother has done. What's the guarantee that one day he won't freak out, take some gun and come to kill some of us before he kills himself? He isn't someone to be trusted."

"But you can't judge him because of his mother's actions. No one chooses his parents!"

Dianne laughed dryly.

"Blood is thicker than water. It is obvious that he hates everyone and everything, including himself. He hates the whole world!"

"You would hate it too if the world had cast you aside because of something that is not your fault." Lucy thought but didn't say it aloud.

"Anyway, I don't want to get boring but you need to be careful with such people. I don't understand why you don't like Jimmy. He is really a great guy and takes good care of everyone he loves. And he really loves you. I've known him all my life and I have never seen him to watch some girl as he watches you."

"Oh, please. Why everyone wants only to get me together with Jimmy? First it was Lora Anderson, then mum and dad, now you. I like Jimmy a lot but…" She bit her tongue. "… I need more time before I start a relationship.

"As you said, this is your business, Lucy. Don't wait for too long because you might miss your chance."

For the rest of the morning they were discussing lighter topics. She acted happily but actually her mind was working intensely on what Dianne had said. Could she be right? Was he a violent person? The girl remembered how he had hit her in the forest and trembled. "No, no! He just has been hurt too much by that suicide and the others' attitude. I know that!"

Alex was sitting at one of the rear seats of the buss. From that position he was able to observe Lucy's profile. Something in him couldn't get enough of her beauty.

He sighed and forced himself to look through the window. Was it good to come to that trip, after all?"

"Come on, admit it! You aren't here because you had felt sudden need to change yourself or because of Susan Johnson. It's all about Lucy. You can't live without seeing her. She is so perfect, wonderful… and you can no longer deny it. Why don't you stop with that bad-ass attitude and don't tell her what you feel? Don't you see how much she is suffering? She loves you, idiot! You both are in pain and that's absolutely unnecessary. Go on, ask her for forgiveness!"

"But I can't! I'm afraid of…"

"Excuses, excuses. Perhaps she doesn't need to waste her time with a coward like you. Hell, what does Lucy Kane see in you at all?"

Alex put his hands on his ears and shook these thoughts off. Talking to yourself is the first step to insanity. He didn't have to make them all think they had been right.

But perhaps his inner voice was right about many things.

They arrived three hours later but the long trip hadn't worn off their enthusiasm. Most students couldn't wait to get out of the buss.

The hotel they were going to stay in was set next to the sea but at the same time it was close to the city center. The summer breeze and marine fragrance caressed them from the moment they descended. The waves were crashing at the yellow sand and were covering it with meerschaum. The sky was a little cloudy but the sun was shining strong enough to make up for it. It was going to be a good start for their stay no matter how short it was.

The building itself wasn't something special but that didn't bother the teenagers. They had no intention to spend too much time there.

Alex couldn't look away from the ocean. He had very dear memories from it. When his parents were still alive and he had never suspected about Dana's other nature three of them used to come to this town very often. These were other times. Ages of innocence and pure happiness he couldn't erase that easy. While he was staring at the endless water the pain was tearing him apart. That was the agony of the sweet memory you can never turn back. The time had past and had left only black and white photographs of the only flash of beauty he had ever known.

Then the ugliness rushed in and the world had gone down. Now everything seemed completely empty. Because he felt empty and exhausted of his existence. The only things that remained were that sea, the lonely beach, the squeal of herring-gull, and the distant unclear memory of one family portrait.

Someone tapped him rudely on the shoulder.

"Come on, Lawrence, we have to go in!" Basil Rain laughed out loud. "Unless you want to sleep outside. Believe me, no one will miss you." With these words he walked away.

Alex shrugged, took his bag and followed the crowd to the entrance of the hotel.

Inside everyone was given a key to their rooms. As it always happened to school trips he was an odd number and had to stay alone. He didn't mind though.

The youth just left his things on the bed and went to the window. What was he supposed to do now? It wouldn't be reasonable to stay here because there was a chance to run up at Lucy and he wasn't ready for that yet.

"On the other hand I can meet with some ghosts."

He was just locking the door when he saw the object of his feelings. She was walking down the corridor with Dianne, Christie and Linda, her new "friends".

"Be sure, Luce, that only after few hours under the sun with that cream nothing will remain of your pale skin."

With these words they walked away.

Lucy spent the whole afternoon doing the typical girly things. She was grateful to her three friends who helped her not to think of him. They didn't know about that, of course, but it didn't matter.

The sunbathing was quite embarrassing for her and that's why she was mostly swimming. It's been long since she had been so naked in front of other people. The scar on her back was covered carefully. Dianne wouldn't leave her alone if she saw it. If they were living at ancient Greece probably she would be the Priestess of Curiosity. She knew everything about everyone and was ready to do anything to get the best of the information. If someone like her learnt what had happened to Lucy in New York the whole school would be aware of it for less than a day.

While they were wandering the town she realized how tired her body, mind and soul were. In the last few weeks the student had driven herself to the point of obsession with studying. Once she spent the whole night on some Biology research, which wasn't even necessary for improving her grade. The girl didn't have time to notice that she was barely moving.

After endless hours of shopping, hitting on boys, swimming and walking the three teens decided it was time to go back to the hotel to have a rest. They needed some more energy for the wild disco night that was coming. Dianne, Christie and Linda were giggling like crazy with excitement. Lucy couldn't understand why she felt so dizzy. Probably it was because of the strong sunshine. She had spent a lot of time indoors and that was affecting her.

"Hey, may I ask you for a favor?" Dianne whispered in her ear as they were climbing up the stairs to their room.

"Sure…" the other girl uttered.

"Would you mind if I leave you alone for that night? Basil and I need more time together. Perhaps I won't turn up at all." She grinned carelessly.

"Oh… It's all right. Besides, I'm very tired and I doubt I'll be the best company."

"Luce, you are such a great friend! Thank you a lot!" She kissed her cheek and ran upstairs.

They met Jimmy in the corridor.

"I see that you have painted the town red, huh?" He smiled and winked at the lady of his heart.

"Just wait for tonight!" Linda leant against the wall. She was the seducer wannabe and always pretended to be the fatal woman. What the girl didn't know was that everyone was laughing behind her back because of it. But that didn't hurt her social status.

"I can't wait for that!" Then he turned to Lucy. "Hey, what's the matter? You look a little ill."

"Me?" She asked with surprise and put hand on her forehead. Yes, it definitely wasn't one of her best days but… "Well, I guess I'm tired. I need a break."

In that moment Alex Lawrence arrived. Obviously he hadn't expected to see the little group considering his expression. The "queens" glared at him with despise and turned their heads. Jimmy followed their example, but it was obvious he felt uncomfortable with his behavior. Only Lucy met his eyes but she wished she hadn't done that. In the moment they crossed their looks the fog in front of her eyes thickened. Sweat covered her body and her limps went numb with cold. The world faded away, the voices grew distant and in the next moment she was falling. If it weren't for Jimmy who was able to catch her she would collapse.

"Lucy, Lucy, wake up!" Christie, who was famous with her ability to get panicked even in the most ordinary situations started shouting.

"Shut up!" The boy crossed her sharply. "She fainted. I'll take her to her room and you three go to call the doctor."

The last thing Lucy saw before losing consciousness was Alex's expression: full of guilt and doom.

The doctor came in ten minutes and examined the fainted girl very carefully. After that he said that she suffered of complete physical exhaustion. The man recommended her to have a good sleep; that would help her recover. He gave Lucy some vitamins and told the others to leave her alone in order not to bother her. The three "divas" were disappointed that their dear friend wouldn't attend the wild night but there was nothing they could do about that. Jimmy was most upset because he was planning to use the disco and the beach party after that as his main action for making her fall for him.

No one was surprised of what happened, though. Even during these long last weeks everyone was telling her not to get that intense. They couldn't understand why she was killing herself with studying after she was an A-grader.

And here was the result of all this.

Meanwhile, the notorious Alex Lawrence had disappeared again. The students didn't care enough to look for him. The head teacher considered that someone who had recently completed 18 was old enough to be on his own if he wished so. That's why he decided to spend some more hours on the little lonely beach, surrounded by rocks. He had been there the whole day recollecting events from his previous holidays in here. Dana loved that place because of its isolation. Her words were still echoing through his mind.

"The solitude is sacred. But most people don't understand that and prefer to pack themselves as a bunch of lambs. They can't appreciate the magic and uniqueness of unsettled spaces. Spaces for breathing. Spaces you can be alone with your thoughts and think clearly. Spaces where you can hear the voice of someone much higher than you. The song of the sea and the whisper of the wind. It's not just a cheap romance. You have to learn the very nature of solitude, son. If you can deal with it, you can deal with anything. It will make you stronger than them."

Then she used to kiss the top of his head and smile as only angels could do. It seemed as if he could still see her there, walking by the waves with her gorgeous white dress. A ghost from other place, other space, other universe.

That fatal woman had been haunting him for longer than he realized. Even in that night she was still there, in his mind and wasn't letting him to breathe.

It was getting darker when Alex woke up from his trance. After Lucy's spell he couldn't bear the burden of pain and guilt and he just walked away, feeling numb like a zombie. The way ahead was soaked with thickening fog and distant shadows. The people around him were fading away. He was lost and couldn't find the way to what he was looking for.

Peace? Love? Remedy? Forgiveness? What? No idea. The most important was to move on, move on…

And there he was again. On the same spot, facing up his ghosts and demons. Talking to the sea and to the woman who had given and taken away his life.

"Is that why you left me, mum? Is that why I have to go through all this?" His voice was shaking with the strong emotions. "Because you wanted me to understand the very nature of isolation? You can be proud with yourself then. In the last years I wasn't doing something else than learning about it. I have become one of the best in that area. And why was all that? Where am I now? Did it give me any peace? Freedom? You were wrong, mum. You said I'd be able to deal with anything. I can't. I can't deal with life. I can't deal with anything, even with what I want more than anything. Because I'm afraid of what might happen. Because I'm doomed with your inheritance." Alex made a pause and then pronounced the hardest words in his life. "I forgive you, mother because I realize how you have felt. You weren't supposed to live in that world. You were just what I thought as a child: creature from other universe. I've hated you all these years for what you did to me. I was dedicated to the thought not to be like you and I failed. No one can live with ghosts. I'm tired of my hatred for you. Now I'm letting you go. Please, don't come back and never ask me to come with you. Perhaps one day we'll see each other." A lonely tear rolled down his cheek and fell in the sea. "Right now I want to see what is there beyond the solitude. I'll take that risk."

With these words the Ice King raised up and left, full of determination. It was time to start listening to what his inner voice was telling him. He had to make-up for everything he had done to her, for every tear and for every insult.

Alex could only hope that Lucy would accept him and that she still loved him.

It was all up to him what their future would be.