Zach (A College Bad Boy Romance)

By: Jane S. White



Luna tried to walk forward to survey the scenery and nearly fell over. Aurora rushed to her side and helped her up, helping to steady her as they went. Luna shivered as a cool breeze struck her, and Aurora helped her to put the cape on so she could keep warm. They passed a beautiful stream, though it was beginning to look ominous as the sky quickly blackened around them.

She nearly toppled over when Aurora dropped her arm and suddenly took off running. Luna limped behind her, trying to chase her through the forest. She was in too much pain to get very far, and gripped the cape tightly to keep from revealing her panties in case other men were lurking among the trees.

“Aurora!” she hissed when she finally caught up to her twin. “Don't take off like that! We don't know what's out here!”

“But look!” Aurora said proudly, dangling Luna's wet jeans in front of her. She had seen them passing lazily by in the stream's clear water and ran ahead to fish them out. Luna took them from her with a sigh.

“Thank you. But don't do that again, it's dangerous.”

Aurora's heart softened at the gentle, protective tone her older sister had slipped into. She hadn't heard it in years. It reminded her of their younger days, when, despite their differences in personality and physique, they were inseparable. That hadn't really changed, though they had been forced to go their own ways as they entered into adulthood. It wasn't as if they could share everything. But the nostalgia was nice, and Aurora slunk up beside her sister, slipping her arm into Luna's like they had sometimes done in elementary school as they roamed the hallways together.

They walked quietly arm-in-arm, Aurora helping to keep Luna steady. They marched on until the sun fully set, and Luna turned her glittering silver eyes on her sister. Aurora gazed into them, startled by the unexpected effect the moonlight had on her sister's eyes. It seemed to light them up as if the moon itself was glowing right within Luna's body.

“What's wrong, Aurie?” Luna asked.

“Nothing,” she said, patting her twin's hand. “Things here are just weird, that's all. I feel really tired all of a sudden. Maybe we could try to get some sleep.”



The twins made camp against the trunk of a thick tree. It looked almost as if they were in an old growth forest, but there wasn't anything like that for miles around the museum. Now that the initial shock of the abrupt arrival was gone, and there were no men around, the familiar feeling of the forest began to feel friendly.

They weren't sure what was going on, but this place obviously wasn't all it appeared to be. Luna hung her wet jeans out to dry over a tree branch and motioned Aurora to come snuggle in beside her under the warmth of the mysterious man's heavy cape. She was grateful to him for leaving it with her, after being humiliated by those awful men.

“I don't know why I'm so tired,” Aurora said with a loud yawn, laying her head against her twin's shoulder.

“It feels like my internal clock is reorganizing itself,” Luna said in her cool, analytical voice. She was powerless against the contagion of her twin's yawns and found her eyes watering as she yawned as well. “Dammit, Aurie.”

Aurora giggled softly and closed her eyes. Before they knew it, the twins fell into a deep sleep on the comfortable forest floor as the world was pulled into an inky darkness.





Chapter 4


When they opened their eyes again, they were back in the musky old library, clutching the book between them.

“What the hell was that?” Aurora asked, her fiery eyes wide.

“I think something fell on us, maybe knocked us out,” Luna, ever the analytical twin, said.

“I had such a weird dream,” Aurora said, running her hand through her red curls. Suddenly her eyes fixed on the book and she gave a little gasp. She reached out to grab it, but Luna intercepted her hand.

“No,” Luna said. “I don't know what happened here, but you shouldn't be messing around with things that you don't understand. We should just leave the book alone, all right?”

“But Luna, there's something weird about it!”

“Please listen to me just this once,” Luna sighed with her eyes closed. Her tolerance was waning and Aurora pursed her lips. “We should get out of here before the mold in this room makes us both sick. Whatever our dream was, we were probably just exposed to some ancient toxic gunk. That's what we get for snooping.”

“Fine. Oh look, your jeans are back and they look like new.”

Luna glanced down and gave a thin smile. So it appeared they had been sharing the same dream. That was somewhat alarming. Maybe it hadn't been just a dream after all. But she couldn't tell Aurora that. It would just fuel her imagination and cause more problems. She had to have some time to think about this for herself.

“That's great. I won't have to walk home with no pants,” Luna said, reaching down to grip them. Somehow, her jeans were damp. It would seem that perhaps the night before hadn't been just a shared delusion after all. But there was no way she would tell that to Aurie and encourage one of her wild schemes.

“Yeah. Wow, home never sounded so good. Let's get out of here. I'm still hungry. Hopefully nothing like this happens again this summer,” Aurora said, heading away from her twin and toward the entrance where they had snuck in. “Or we might not make it to graduation.”

“Agreed,” Luna said, lingering behind as Aurora moved forward through the dark library. With a quick flick of the hand, she silently snatched the book up and stuffed it in her purse, following behind Aurora as if nothing had ever happened.

***



“What the fuck, Josh?!” Aurora cried, smacking Josh's huge bicep as hard as she could. She'd been waiting for him to get out of the shower and felt bored. There was nothing to do in his hotel room, so she had picked up his cell phone, hoping to find a game she could play to pass the time.

What she had found instead were pictures, dark and amateurish, of Josh having sex with another woman. At first she thought it was her, but a quick glance at a clearer picture told her that wasn't the case. She couldn't see the woman very well, but she knew it wasn't herself, and she knew that for sure because she could see the dates when the pictures were taken. Josh had stood her up that day, after they had been planning to go on a date to see one of her favorite musicians in concert. That night he had claimed he forgot and apologized, acted sweet as pie to get her to run to the store and buy ingredients for his favorite meal. They'd been too annoyed at each other to even cuddle, and she left after dropping off the food, hoping to find her sister to confide in.

“What?” he cried, his voice echoing on the bathroom walls.

“You're a bastard, that's what!” she exclaimed, bursting into the bathroom. He turned the water off and climbed out of the shower, looking at her as if she were crazy.

“What's your problem?” he asked.

“This is my problem, you asshole!”

She shoved the phone under his nose and he cringed.

“Did you think you were so clever that I would never find these?” she demanded. “And what the fuck – you were just looking at them too! You didn't even bother to close them?! Is that how fucking bold you are – that you would cheat on me, fantasize about cheating on me, and assume I would never in a million years invade your privacy and find out about it? It's like I mean absolutely nothing to you! How could I have stayed with such a creep for so long?”

“It's not a big deal, babe,” Josh said, stepping toward her. “It's not like it meant anything.”

“Apparently it's big enough for you to take pictures of to look at right in front of me! And maybe this isn't all about you. The fact that you did it at all means something to me! I've stood by you through thick and thin and this is what I get?” Aurora exclaimed.

“Dude, it was just a one-time thing. Chill out before you give yourself a heart attack. Why don't you just climb in here and help me wash my back, and we can talk this over like civilized adults.”

“Like hell! I've stuck with you for this long, even after everything that happened with my best friend, but this? You promised it would never happen again! You swore! But look Josh! Look at this shit! I'm through with you. If you didn't love me, you shouldn't have been with me this long!”

Aurora threw his phone against the wall with all her force and fled the hotel, leaving Josh naked in the shower, glowering down at the shattered pieces.

***



Aurora held back her hot tears until she finally made it to the apartment. She needed somebody to talk to about what had just happened with Josh, but when she arrived and let herself inside, there was nobody in sight. It was strange – Luna was usually sitting at the desk, her glasses perched importantly on her nose, studying this or that for one reason or another. It was almost scary to realize that her sister was nowhere to be seen, though she couldn't pinpoint why she felt that way.

Maybe she was just so used to Luna being there to catch her when she fell, to clean up every stupid mess that she had gotten herself into. Luna had told her, more like hinted to her, to break up with Josh a few months prior, but she had refused to take the hint. Maybe if she listened to her big sister more often, her life wouldn't be so crappy all the time. But no, Aurora was stubborn and willful; she did what she wanted whenever she wanted to do it.

“Luna?” she called out to the empty apartment. “Where are you?”

She wandered into the kitchen, pulling the fridge open before realizing that Luna had left her a note on the door.

Aurie,

Sorry this is such short notice but I had to leave town for a couple of days. I figured you'd find this on the fridge. There's some money on the table for groceries. Stuff your face at that fancy place you like til I get back.

Luna

Aurora's mind spun. Why on earth would Luna have to leave town for a couple of days? And why would she ever go without telling her sister first? It seemed like a betrayal somehow, and she felt deeply hurt by it. Was it simply because she had been relying on her sister to be home when she needed to vent about Josh? Or was it because she was used to Luna being there through thick and thin? She was suddenly seized by panic, and the icy grip of fear clenched her heart. Something wasn't right.

She groaned out loud, wandering back to the desk where Luna usually sat, hoping to use some kind of psychic twin ESP to reach her and give her a phantom wet willie for leaving her hanging. She wanted her sister back.

Unfortunately, when Luna said something, she meant it, so she would just have to find a way to occupy her time until her twin returned. Maybe she could call her friend and complain about Josh. But all of her friends already thought Josh was a scumbag after what he had done with Aurora's best friend. They would have just told her that she had it coming. That's why she needed Luna. Luna wouldn't judge her, at least not outwardly. Or at least not much. It didn't sting so much from her own flesh and blood at any rate.

Luna was gone for an entire day before Aurora really started to go stir crazy. The beginning of the end had been a horrible panic attack. Aurora rarely felt out of control in any way, but for some reason, she had been showering and cold tendrils of fear had gripped her heart. Something terrible was happening to Luna, she just knew it. Things were not well and she had to find out where Luna was, and fast. Nobody else would have understood how she was able to tell that her twin was in trouble, but the fact was that they had shared a womb, and they had many other close connections to each other as well, whether they talked about them or not.

Aurora paced around the apartment, feeling too glum to go out and too restless to sit still. She shuffled from room to room, hoping to find a clue, until she reached Luna's bedroom. Her hands twitched curiously over the door knob. She generally tried not to invade her sister's privacy. At least not too much. Luna was very protective of her privacy, and usually went off the deep end when Aurora invaded her space. But things were different with Luna gone. Aurora had no other way of finding out where to look for her. If her sister was in trouble, she had to find her, and quickly.

She was frantic with worry now, the cold clutches of fear were unrelenting. Whatever was happening to her twin was horrible. If she went exploring, perhaps she would be able to find some clue as to where her sister had gone. The only thing she knew for certain was that she wanted to be there NOW.

Aurora braced herself for the thrill of the snoop, and let herself into the bedroom. Everything was neat and tidy, as usual. The general order of things was maddening – Aurora preferred a little bit of chaos and uncertainty in her life. Except when it came to Luna. She'd been uneasy ever since Luna had disappeared. Something about her leaving without any prior notice just wasn't right, and the fact that her phone went to voicemail every time didn’t help either. Aurora opened drawers and looked through papers, finding no clue as to Luna's whereabouts. When she was all out of places to look, she tried the closet. If nothing else, she could borrow Luna's silver top – the most risqué piece of clothing that girl owned – and go out on the town, maybe meet a nice Italian guy to help her take her mind off her troubles.

As she rummaged through the closet, she knocked a box over and groaned. It wasn't her day. Luna would know she had been in there for sure now, and she would never hear the end of it. She scrambled to put everything back into the box, maybe to buy herself some time before the next scolding, when suddenly, a familiar object was in her hands. A wooden cover. Ancient texts. Aurora held it closer to her face and nearly dropped it with a little gasp. It was the book that she and Luna had found in the hidden library. Somehow, it had made its way back to their apartment.

She knew she probably shouldn't read it. She could hear Luna's stern voice cautioning her against doing anything too foolish. But her sister also knew that Aurora couldn't resist intrigue. What else was she supposed to do?

Aurora cautiously pried the wooden cover open and began to flip through the ancient, yellowed pages of text. The smell of the book was both intoxicating and exciting. When she reached the back, where there had been blank pages, she cried out in surprise. There was new writing on the pages; writing that looked exactly the same as the other words in the book. She could tell they were just as ancient. Somehow she just knew that. But how could she explain their sudden appearance? It didn't make any sense.

▶ Also By Jane S. White

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