Chapter 7

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The next morning, I awoke to a monstrously loud buzzing sound. After tossing and turning in my bed, and praying to God for the noise to end, I eventually grabbed my phone from on top of the dresser. Angrily, I forced it against my ear.

"What?" I growled into the speaker.

I heard Liam chuckle on the other end of the line. "Good morning to you too Grumpy," he greeted me.

"What time is it?" I groaned. I pulled my phone away from my ear and checked the time. "Eight o'clock! Why are you calling me at eight am?"

"Sorry Liv, but if I have to be awake at this ungodly hour, so do you."

I sighed, preparing to hang up. "Go back to sleep Liam," I ordered him.

"Wait!" His insistence made me pause. His voice was high with worry, but I was half-asleep and unable to care. "I thought we could do something today."

"Ask me again in three hours," I suggested.

Ignoring his calls to hear him out, I hung up the phone.

Unfortunately, I was cursed to be an early riser, meaning I could never return to sleep once I'd woken up. Seething, and in silence, I lay in my bed.

My peace didn't last for long.

For the second time that morning, a loud and penetrating sound pierced through the quiet. This time, it was my mother's shrill cry.

"Olivia!" she called from downstairs. "Get down here right now!"

It was far too early to deal with one of Mum's tantrums, so I pretended to be asleep. I should have known that wouldn't deter her.

The next moment she was at my door, banging on it until I strode out of bed and joined her.

"What?" I asked her irritably. I rubbed my eyes and yawned.

"How could you do this?" she cried, shoving something soft into my hand. "How could you do this to our family?"

Confused, I shifted my gaze down to my hand. Horror raised in my throat, and I felt the familiar tug on my stomach like I was going to be sick.

Murderer's niece makes peace with town's saviour.

The headline stared up at me. Below the title shone a photo, in which I smiled politely at the man who accused my aunt of arson. It was taken at my school, after I had removed all evidence of my own dance with fire.

For once, I understood my mother's fury. But, try as I might, I couldn't show her that her accusation was unfounded.

With a sigh, I decided it was best for me to have all of the information and read the article in full. When I saw the author's name, tears stung the backs of my eyes.

In unusual events, reporter Elena Carmichael spotted the beginnings of a friendship between Town Hero Brandon Reese and the late Olivia Harris' niece, Olivia Peterson. They were spotted engaged in conversation outside the high school, the day after the sixteen-year anniversary of the fire. This reporter believes she witnessed the start of a beautiful truce between this town's warring families.

"This is bullshit Mum," I told her bluntly.

I tried to ignore the betrayal I felt towards Elena: the sweet lady I had begun to trust. Had her yearly birthday gifts been nothing but a rouse? A clever play to gain my trust and rip it from beneath me?

"He just approached me and started talking to me. What was I supposed to do? Run away?"

I knew I looked like my aunt, but I was also the spitting image of my mother – except for our shockingly different eyes.

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