Copyright 11cina24 2014

Shadow

Chapter Three

I turned off the engine to my black Mercedes and let my head rest against the leather seat. I closed my eyes and gathered my breathing. I stilled my heart into a normal pace and unclenched my hands by my sides. My eyes snapped open and looked in the rearview mirror. The anger was sizzling beneath the surface of my dark orbs. I blinked and reared in the side of me that wanted revenge. I would get it in due time, but for now I had to play the cards right. I took in a deep breath before stepping out of my parked car. I slipped on my ray bans to block out the glaring sun and smoothed out my plain white v-neck before making my way to the entrance of the Ridgeway Country Club. I had followed my mother this Saturday to see exactly what this constant meeting of hers had anything to do about. All my senses were on full alert as I stepped through the door that was held open for me. I scanned the pristine white carpenter styled lobby to see if my mother was anywhere to be seen. After making sure the coast was clear I stepped up to the receptionists. Placing my sunglasses on the top of my chocolate brown hair I gave her a smile I'd perfected years ago.

"I'm here to see my mother, Ms. Jacques." The older lady behind the counter was around her mid-fifties with soft features. Her white bob framed her face and blue eyes. She fit the perfect suburban looking grandmother type.

With a sweet smile she replied, "Of course, right this way." She led me to the right past a set of French doors that lead to a great ballroom where tables were spread across with elegant chandeliers and gold accented table sets that screamed money.

I told her thank you before she nodded and walked back through the French double doors. I stood in the shadows by one of the long hedged shrubs that adorned the entrance door. Every single person in the room was dressed immaculately in suits, skirts, and dresses. It was all formal wear at this prestigious country club. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I smirked. My mother was going to love my simple outfit in comparison to her suit that she more than likely spent at least ten grand on. I scoured the room for my mother's dirty blonde head in the masses. At last I recognized her signature fake smile and dirty blonde hair that was styled into a low ponytail. She sat with a man with salt and pepper hair and hazel eyes. He wore an equally looking expensive black suit as my mother. I observed the two of them and saw how my mother had him eating out of her paw. I could not believe the look of adoration this man wore. It was bizarre. I felt like time slowed as I made my way across the ballroom. My mother had been seeing a man for over a year and had not told me a single word. I guess it didn't help that I saw my mother once a week or every few weeks.

I hadn't noticed the company until I was halfway there. From where I was I could only see the backs of two well-built men sitting across from them. One had dark brown hair while the others hair was pitch black. The man with the darkest hair had his shoulders hunched with his elbows on the table while the other man lounged in his chair as if he were bored of the display of love already. As I grew closer I began to see the side profile of these two men and stopped in my tracks. It was Nick and Reese. I swear I heard my heart drop to my stomach. I shook my head. This was not fucking happening. My hands trembled at my sides, and I couldn't seem to still them. I knew I had the choice of turning my back and confronting my mother another time but a switch in me turned on. My anger came in full throttle. I grabbed a chair from an empty table and placed it directly at my mother's table. The noise caught my mother's happy expression as she looked up at me. I steeled my frame in place and looked down at her with flames in my eyes. Surprise veiled her face.

"What are you doing here Sophia?" She asked with alarm clearly written in her eyes. She knew I was going to try and mess this up for her.

I gave her a smile that would have looked polite to anyone who didn't know me. "Wondering what the hell my mother has been doing behind my back for over a year. I thought that excuse would suffice," I replied in a fake sweet voice. With my palms resting on my hips I continued. "I'm sorry, my inconsiderate mother forgot to introduce her only daughter to you. That is if she even mentioned she had one," I smiled at the salt and peppered haired man while extending my hand in a firm shake.

He looked taken a back as well as he glanced between my mother and I.

"Sophia, please take a seat." She gestured to the seat I had brought over. Her control was slipping. I could see it through the tight lipped smile she threw back at me.

This was going to be fun.

"I was going to have you meet him another time. You have to understand that Sophia," she tried to reason with me.

I glanced at the hand that had intertwined itself with my mothers. I stopped listening to anything else she had to say as my eye zeroed in on her left hand that clutched his. There sat a ginormous wedding ring. I forced my hands shut as they began to shake. My jaw clenched. I took in a deep breath and stared at her. I had totally forgotten about the Bellair brothers until now when I barely noticed both of their gazes boring into mine. They looked at me with interest which was something I hadn't received from Nick that much. Reese however I knew was waiting to see how I'd react.

"As always Ellen, you win the mother of the year award." I replied sarcastically. I pushed my chair back and stood up before I exploded right in front of her face publicly. No, I wanted to get back at her for everything another time on my turf. She tried acting as composed and motherly in front of her future husband and steps sons but I knew her for what she really was. She was not by any means a mother. She was a manipulative business woman with an agenda. She criticized and persuaded people for a living. There wasn't a maternal bone in her body. My biological father left my mother when I was two. I wouldn't blame him seeing as I've come to realize who this woman is.

"Sophia," she spoke with steel. Her goody-two-shoes façade was slipping. "Sit down. We are going to discuss this."

I looked down at her with disgust evident in my eyes. "You had over a year to talk to me about it Ellen. We both know this marriage isn't going to last anyways. So get what you want from him and leave because we both know what you do best is play games."

As I turned to leave her last words had the fire within my body consume my heart. "Since you haven't allowed me to talk I'd like you to know that I'm having the movers transfer our belongings to his home as we speak. Our new home Sophia." I could hear the small sound of triumph in her voice.

I slowly turned my body to face her and made my face into a void mask. I placed my hands on the table and leaned in close to her. I allowed her to see the rage filling my eyes. "How many times do I have to tell you that a home with you will never be a home, Ellen?"

I stood up to my full height and rolled my shoulders back before leaving to push open the entrance of the ballroom. I walked down the hall and shoved open the next door, startling the lady at the front desk even more in my haste to get out of this place. I didn't waste time in opening the back seat of my car. My hand still slightly trembled by my side. I got in and stripped my pants off before pulling on a pair of running shorts and shoes. I quickly tied my hair up into a pony tail and hit the pavement running. I never knew how long I ran for. I did it to satiate a part of me that craved for a release. I never stopped running and took the long, abandoned scenic routes that outlined each town. Ridgeway was unfamiliar territory but I didn't care. I picked up my pace as I made sharp turns and flew down the pavement until I reached a dirt path that lined the countryside of Ridgeway. I kept on running and didn't notice the night sky had taken over until I felt my legs start to almost give out. I began to aimlessly walk and take in my surroundings to try and find out where the hell I ran to. I took in a deep breath and found myself in familiar territory. Acres stood between each home and I took my time as I walked toward Mason's house. Sweat dripped from every pore and my white v-neck shirt now clung to my skin and revealed a nude lace bra. My hair more than likely looked like a birds nest with sweat combed through it. I grew closer to his house and soon came up to the gate that was reinforced by a tall brick perimeter that enclosed most of the Treadwell estate. The run had left me void and drained of energy which was what I needed. It took my mind off of everything.

I pressed a button to notify my presence. Two minutes later I was allowed into the estate as the massive black iron gate opened. I made my descent up the small hill toward Mason's modern home that was made up of mostly glass and sophisticated dark brown wood. After passing by his roman inspired fountain I looked up to see him already at the door waiting with a questioning gaze. His arms were crossed over his chest and I didn't know how late it was until I took in his sleepy eyes and attire. Without saying anything he took my hand and led me up the stairs and down a long hallway that sectioned off his wing of the home. His wing of the home could have been a condo in its self because he had his own living room, kitchen, parlor, and three bedrooms and bathrooms.

"I had a maid put some pajamas and necessary girl products in the bathroom for you," he said while motioning to the door that led to the bathroom.

I gave him a small, tightlipped thankful smile before slipping inside and allowing the scalding water to wash away the events of today. I took my time in lathering my body and massaging my scalp as the numbness the run gave me permeated through my mind and body. I stepped out of the shower and put on Mason's large t-shirt and boxers. I dried my hair put some lotion on my face, stopping as I took notice of my reflection in the foggy mirror. My eyes were dull but there was a hidden spark in there that screamed determination. I may have been battered but I would never stop until I got what I wanted. My mother was going to pay for this power struggle she kept trying to win against me. I gently closed the bathroom door shut behind me to find Mason already fast asleep on his king sized bed where he was snuggled into a white comforter with silk sheets. I made my way into his comfortable bed and laid my head to rest.

He must have felt the dip in the bed because he used his arms to cradle me close once I got underneath the covers. I wrapped my arm around his torso, burying my head in his chest, allowing myself to take comfort in my best friend. He ran smooth circles up and down my back until I relaxed in his frame and fell asleep.

{**}

I had slept at Mason's and then Cara's home on Saturday and Sunday. I had refused to go to the Bellair's where I knew my mother had all my belongings and a room probably set up for me already. Making her wait another day wouldn't kill her. I still had yet to pick up my car from the country club but Cara promised to bring me there after school.

We rolled up to the public school and she stopped by the curb to turn and face me. "You're gonna be fine Soph. I know you. We both know you'll have to see your mom today but you'll know what to do. Like I've told you before, you know how to get what you want so just do it." She cracked a knowing grin and I couldn't help but smile back at her.

"Thanks Cara."

She shrugged. "Anything for you babe. Now go on out there. I've still gotta haul ass back to the West Hills. I'll see you soon."

I grabbed my bag and stepped out of the car, allowing her dad's grey sports car to drive off. Cara had given me some of her clothes to wear this morning. Her style definitely differed from mine. I grinned as I shook my head at the image of Cara this morning with an innocent smile as she locked her closet and threw a bag of clothes at me. I took in the white crochet crop top and high waisted light blue jeans with a pair of simple strappy tan sandals. We had been in a rush so I did nothing to calm my wavy dark brown locks. I sighed and looked at the mass of students before me. They were like ants trying to cram themselves into one building. I decided to walk to the side of the building and get in through there instead. Unfortunately my luck sucked here as well because there was a crowd of students entering the building. Great.

"Soph!" I heard someone with a deep voice yell. I pretended I didn't hear him and kept on walking toward the line of students. The insistent yelling didn't stop until people were starting to stare at me. I kept my head down and ignored everybody. I really did not need this today. He yelled my name once more but this time was closer. My effort was futile as I tried to get ahead in line. I cursed under my breath when he touched my arm and spun me around. Reese's carefree smile was directed at me. His light brown hair was untamed but it only added to the reason why girls swooned at him as his almost pitch black eyes aimed warmly at me. He threw an arm over my shoulder and kept me in place.

I took in a deep breath to express my annoyance. I threw a stare up at him. "What?" I asked flatly.

He laughed. "Ooh, is kitten grumpy today?"

My eyes narrowed. "Cut it out Reese. To what do I owe the pleasure?" I retorted back, using his words against him.

He waved a finger at me. "We are going to have to work on that attitude of yours Soph. But what I came here to tell you is that you are sitting with us at lunch today."

With that said he left and threw a grin over his shoulder and a small wave in my direction. He didn't even give me a chance to refuse his request. I stood there, slightly stunned, but analytical never the less. I truly thought I would have been able to steer clear of these Bellair brothers but fate apparently had something else planned for me. Their reputation would always mean a significant amount wherever they went but I didn't plan on getting invested in anything having to do with this town - including them. I had made it clear this past week that I was not going to mingle with Ridgeway people and nor did I care about making friends here. To the dismay of my mother I always left campus for lunch or sat outside and ate by myself. I had no reason to get to know anyone here. It was pointless to do so. I'm sure Nick and his crew and anyone that surrounded them took notice in that. It didn't happen all that often that someone from a group of "elite" from any town would just up and move to a new town their senior year. I had eyes watching me, waiting for me to do something that the rumor mill predicted I had. I'm sure my reputation as an enforcer from my group in the West Hills preceded me here.

{*}

I closed my locker, putting my books away from the class that I had just gotten out of. I paid no attention to anyone around me as I transferred the books I'd need for the class after lunch. My body tensed as a pair of perfectly manicured nails tapped along my locker, notifying me of somebodies presence. I took what I needed and closed my locker shut, turning to face whoever thought about messing with me today. After that bomb my mother sprung on me this weekend and the fate I had waiting for me after school – you could say I was in a foul mood. After all this time I knew it had been too good to be true that I'd slipped the grasps of the welcoming committee. There before me stood what I assumed was probably one of the queen bees of this school. Her bottle red hair was curled in big bouncy curls that contrasted against her ivory complexion and piercing green eyes. She was stick skinny but I could detect some muscle on those bones. As per usual she showed off an ample amount of skin in her tank top that rode on her hips and tight blue jeans that helped expose her stomach. She might as well have had a sign that screamed I'm a bitch with the completely fake stare she gave me. I wasn't born yesterday. It didn't take a lot to detect malice hidden in her gaze.

"Sarah right?" The bottle red haired girl asked.

I leaned against my locker, ignoring her as I observed the passing crowd of students in the hall.

"Sophia, but I didn't expect anyone like you to know that," I replied. Out of my peripheral vision I could make up the annoyance that clouded her eyes. The fact that I was ignoring her was grating on her nerves.

"Well, tip of advice new girl. Stay away from the Bellair brothers. They don't associate with West Hills trash." She remarked. Her hands uncrossed themselves from her chest to rest on her hips. She thought she was hot shit. I turned in her direction slightly with a smile on my face that showed her I wasn't one to mess around with. I could see her composure slip slightly as she assessed my next move but she quickly covered it up and stood defiantly. She was a veteran at this kind of game. Lovely, I was too.

"So you know who I am then?" I asked her and saw her nod in the slightest. I turned completely and got in her face, only an inch separated our bodies. I steeled my eyes and pierced her gaze with a challenging one of my own. "Then you should know that I'm not the type of person that'll hesitate to hurt you and break you into pieces. I'll take everything from you, and beat you down until you can't stand up again sweetheart." I breathed into her face. I saw her right foot shift back and knew that this was over, for now. Knowing this type of girl, she'll probably have reinforcement and come back again.

Squaring her shoulders, jaw clamped, she glared at me before stepping away and walking toward her squad of girls that awaited her in the cafeteria. I rolled my eyes and picked my bag off the floor. I walked the same way because it was the closest way to get to the entrance of the school toward the parking lot. I walked past the crowd of teenagers with trays or sacks of lunch sitting chatting away with their friends. There were diverse table groups but then you could obviously pin point some of the sports tables and then…there was the "elite" table. I only allowed my eyes to quickly brush over their table so as to not draw their gazes but I knew Nick and Reese were both there along with their loyal group of guys. I'd made it outside and relished the sun that warmed my body up from head to toe. I thought better of it and decided to eat outside. I made a right turn and walked along the concrete sidewalk until I reached the football field. I walked past that as well as it held a few students milling around. I walked past another sports field until I reached the edge of the trees and slipped through. I'd found this place last week and kept coming back. It was a ten minute walk but it was all worth it. It was a small sized clearing with a tiny river streaming through. The grass was lush and a dark green. The scenery was tranquil. I set my bag down and took out my apple as I sat on the grass content.

It seemed the farther I was away from people, the better off I was.

{*}

Cara's car honked in the distance and soon I could no longer see it. Cara had found out from one of our guys where the Bellair's lived from the party we had crashed. I took in the scenery once more, putting to memory the beautiful mansion that unfortunately held a fate I was not seeking. The white pillared house gave off a New Orleans vibe and of course was suited as a great party house. I hiked my bag up farther on my shoulder and clutched the strap as I slowly walked along the gravel path that led to the house. I looked around me as I walked and took in the sky high trees that lined the path and the eerie feeling it gave off as the door became increasingly closer. Hardening my gaze I stepped on the porch and cautiously opened up the front door. The main entrance was empty as I shut the door behind me. I felt out of place in this unknown territory. I didn't like not knowing where I was and what lurked around the corner. The dark wood gleamed spotlessly beneath my tan sandals. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a maid rush up to me with a gentle smile. She took my bag without question and led me up the dark cherry wood staircase on the left. On the way up she informed that everyone was out and my mother and her husband would be back in two days. I didn't ask anything else pertaining anyone's whereabouts. It was typical of my mother to flee.

After weaving our way through two halls, she finally brought me to a halt in front of a large cherry wood door. She opened up the door and motioned for me to enter. With a small smile she left my bag on the bed and scurried away. I surveyed the room and looked at the queen sized canopy bed made out of a light brown wood material. On top of it sat a pristine white looking comforter and an abundance of pillows. I continued my search and as promised my mother had all of my belongings neatly organized and put away in every drawer and closet. I let out a deep breath that I hadn't known I was holding in and allowed my tense shoulders to sag. I kicked the door closed and began to strip off the clothes Cara had let me borrow. I scrounged around the room for my work out clothes. After opening up every drawer I finally found my garments at the bottom. I slipped on the lightest pair of black Nike shorts I owned and proceeded to throw on a sports bra and a light white tank top over.I clutched my ipod in one hand and a jug of water in the other. I walked barefoot throughout the house, attempting to find a gym. Knowing the Bellairs they had to have a gym and some extras in this humble abode. When I reached the bottom floor I soon found a door a ways a way on the east wing of the house where a fully furnished gym sat overlooking their plush landscape with the remaining walls built as glass windows. I had to admit the view was breathtaking. They owned acres as their backyard.

I threw my hair up in a lazy pony tail and placed my ear buds in my ears and cranked up my music. I set the Arctic Monkeys playlist to play on repeat. I started on the treadmill for an easy hour and a half run. The smallest sweat broke out along my body. It wasn't enough. I moved on and saw all the necessary equipment to start a circuit training session. I warmed up my legs further with a half hour of jump rope and then moved onto some deadlifts. The sky dimmed with each passing hour but I didn't notice it as I moved from station to station. I grabbed my jug of water and took a quick gulp. I threw my soaked tank top off and threw it on the floor. For some fun I took a small running start and threw my arms up to allow my hands to wrap themselves around the pull up bar. By this time sweat droplets framed my entire body. The pitch black sky had remained for a while so I assumed I could handle just a bit more. I began my second rep of pull ups and pushed myself through the remaining set. I put all my focus on the tightening of my muscles and willpower to follow through.

A loud bang broke through my concentration as a group of guys talking and cracking jokes broke through the bubble I had set up around myself to block out the outside world. I cursed under my breath as I finished my set and jumped down from the bar. I was met with five guys in workout clothes talking as they made their way to certain stations. Each of them eyed me. I kept my gaze guarded as I picked up my tank top and jug of water. As I did that I couldn't stop my gaze from trailing toward Nick. He wore a muscle shirt and shorts. Without all the restriction from his t-shirts and pants I could finally see all the ripped muscles that ran from his taught, powerful arms and down to his strong legs. His gaze locked with mine momentarily as he took in my athletic form and womanly assets. His concealed gaze soon turned into a smoldering one as his eyes darkened a shade. My heart began to pound through my chest as an image of him completely shirtless flashed through. I clenched my jaw and forced the heat away that threatened to spread throughout my body at the thought. I quickly grabbed my things and left without saying a word.

I needed a cold shower.

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