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Fifteen;

I stood in an open field. It was Summer time; flowers blossomed around me, some sat in my curled hair and some dangled from my white lace dress. I was free and had never been happier.

Toby stood in front of me dressed up in a suit and tie, his hands out stretched. “Come to me, Nelly.” He smiled.

I blushed as he took my hand in his and swirled me around in his arms. The warmth of his body radiated through me, like little pulses of electricity. “You know how beautiful you are? I’ve missed you.”

“Missed me?” I asked. “I’m right here…”

“Nelly…” he said, his voice echoed again and again rising in pitch, his face swirling and changing until it morphed into Gaia. “GET OUT OF HERE!” she screamed.

I bolted up right in my bed; my night dress clung to me, damp. I cursed myself out as I realised I had slept right through into the afternoon. I went about my routine as normal, despite my tardiness; bath, dressed and chores. It was my turn to clean the floors and the windows.

I took my cloth and box of cleaning products and made my way out into the hallways, scrubbing them top to bottom. I started with the west wing which I hated as it had marble flooring. Getting down on my hands and knees I scrubbed until the skin on my hands began to peel. ‘I wish he would just get it over with and take what he wants from me.’ I thought to myself. If he wanted my DNA why hadn’t he taken it already? Or killed me? In fairness, I would rather not know what he had in store for me. My stomach turned at the thought.

I thought about my dream, about Toby. It was obvious my heart was yelling out to me, but what about Christos; the boy I had kissed the night before. At least I knew I was wanted with Christos. Toby was harder to read than brail. We were always ragging on each other, calling each other names and by God he annoyed me so much sometimes. Then I thought about the bigger picture; Toby was always there for me. He was always there somewhere in the background, protecting me, being his job or not. He was the only one who really knew me, who had been there from day one.

I knew then that I had to talk to Christos, I couldn’t continue with this. I had to tell him that our kiss – our amazing fabulous kiss – had been a mistake. I packed my things away, hoping I wouldn’t get caught skipping my work and made my way back to his room.

As I stood in the door way, I thought I might have a heart attack. Christos sat on the edge of his bed, nursing a wound; blood was flowing quickly from his side. I ran over right away. “What happened?! We need to get you to a hospital!”

“They’re coming.” He grunted, obviously in pain.

My hands shook, flailing around not knowing what to do to help stop the bleeding. “Who is? An ambulance?”

He shook his head, his lips pursed and his face turning red as he tried to hold back a scream. “My protector.”

I looked up at him, worried and sad, wondering if the wound had gotten to his brain. “But, you said he’s missing? That Alexander has him?”

“He’s coming. He got away.”

“Shhh.” I hushed. “I’ll go get help ok? You need an ambulance.” I started for the door.

Before I could reach the handle, there was a thump behind me. A boy stood in a familiar grey uniform, he had just climbed up through the window. It was Stavros; the Sanguinem protector from the Custodes house. From back home.

He looked at me and smiled. “Hello, Nelly.”

My knees shook, I could hardly hold myself up. They came… they really came. We were getting out of here. My happiness was then short lived as I realised there were only two of us to save now and not three; not Gaia. I walked over to Stavros and punched him square in the jaw. “You’re late!” I hissed.

He chuckled down at me. “Well, we’re here now.”

“We?” I asked and ran over to the window. A huge black Range Rover with black tinted windows sat outside. Paius stood on the roof waving like a lunatic. I secretly wondered if Toby was there too, concealed behind the black glass. “This is really happening… We’re getting out of here!”

Stavros threw Christos over his shoulder, who screamed in pain, loudly in Stavros’ his ear. I began to panic as I realised it was sure to draw attention. “Let’s go!” Stavros grinned.

“How exactly?”

“The window, of course.” He said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“Of course.” I groaned.

We made it safely to the car, to my disappointment. No Toby. I shifted into the back next to Paius. He hugged me tightly, holding me for a while. I couldn’t pull away and I didn’t want to. I had been waiting for a familiar face, someone I knew I could trust, for such a long time. “You got my message? In the sky?”

“Yeah.” He smiled. “I’m sorry we took so long, Nelly.”

I nodded and looked around at the car, sighing at the front seat.

“Talus- I mean Toby, will catch up with us real soon, he’s just taking care of a few things.” Paius told me, hugging me again.

“And he’s gonna kick your ass if you don’t get your hands off his girl” Stavros said from the driver seat.

Paius growled. “Boy, don’t make me come over there, I will mess you up!”

Stavros turned his head around to stare him down. Paius laughed nervously and cleared his throat. “You know I was just playin, right?”

Stavros continued to mumble something to his self as he drove. I wondered if Toby thought of me as his girl too and I hoped Christos didn’t take it the wrong way. The last thing I wanted was to let him make assumptions when I couldn’t even explain. I mean I was going to, but him bleeding to death kind of got in the way.

We turned off the main roads to in the middle of nowhere.

A small wooden cabin sat in front of us, people rushed out at us and took Christos inside in a stretcher. “Why no hospital?” I asked Paius.

“Too risky.” He told me. “We might get caught. Alexander got his red eyed monkeys everywhere.”

“Right. Well where-”

Pauis chuckled and put a finger over my lips, silencing me. “Your boy is right over there.”

I turned and saw him standing there in a black shirt and jeans, his hair dishevelled and his face full of worry. “Nelly?!” he called, his voice broken.

Before I could think or even blink, my feet were moving at rapid pace, I was running faster than I had ever done in my life. I closed the space between us and threw myself on him, jumping right into his arms. “I missed you, doofus.”

Toby held me tight smoothing down my hair. “I missed you more, Nel. Are you alright?”

I looked up at his gorgeous, stupid face. “I am now.”

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