Ortensia couldn’t wait for school to be over. In only two more months she was going to be a High School graduate and better yet, she’d finally have her own car. Her parents had promised her when she became a freshman that if she kept good grades and stayed reasonably on the straight and narrow she could pick any car she wanted when graduation came. At first she didn’t understand what they meant by reasonably on the straight and narrow but they explained it meant they knew she was going to be a teenager and she’d make mistakes but as long as she didn’t stab anyone or or end up in the principle office every other week they’d consider her deserving of a car.
She had always been one to stand her ground and stick up for herself and others. Though she had a good heart she was a hot head with a temper and her parents hoped if they promised her any car she wanted she might just make it through High School without turning their whole head of hair gray. She tried not to let her face show what she was feeling when a few of the popular girls approached her. School was almost over maybe not for them but it was for her, couldn’t they leave her alone? “Ortensia” The leader of the little group said with nothing following. “Um, Molly?”
“The girls and I were thinking of going to that abandoned mansion in Carner Woods.”
“and?” she said then started saying in her head “please don’t say you want me to go, please don’t say you want me to go, please don’t say you want me to go” They invited her and she said in an exasperated tone as she looked up “god damnit Ashley and Carrie! Cut it out!” she looked at the girls “No I wont go and no I wont come looking for you when you don’t return to school. Don’t go, if you go you’re an idiot. The writers put you girls up to it. You don’t have to listen to them” Anna whispered loudly to Molly “I told you we shouldn’t ask the resident crazy” Molly whispered back, continuing acting like Ortensia couldn’t hear them “well I figured someone as weird as her would be good to bring along”
Ortensia walked off, still talking to the women she knew were trying to make her a heroin in one of their novellas “I want to be normal. Why can’t you guys write more about Suri and Hern or something.” They never answered her but she knew they could hear her and she wished they’d move on to another woman. Her life was going to be normal, writers be damned.
Sandro sighed as he walked trying to find Ortensia. She was good at avoiding everything, even himself, though she didn’t actually know he existed which was the point. One of the writers characters had gone rogue and it was his job to put her back on her path. It wasn’t that they didn’t appreciate Ortensia’s stubbornness, on the contrary, their women always had a wonderful sense of self, but Ortensia didn’t seem to understand the reason she had been created. Happiness, it was their goal in the end.
“What’s so bad about being abnormal anyway?” He said to the air. “I mean here I am and I’m perfectly happy being the oddball.” He could swear he could hear them laughing. Of course they liked him, they loved all of their creations. “Maybe I should just lock her in some tower, wouldn’t that be something, then there’s no way she could escape.” He thought about it a bit more. “Actually she’d probably just climb down, she’s that determined to avoid her story.”
His eyes caught hers outside as she was walking to the schools second building for her final class of the day. He could see her recognition, she somehow knew he was here on behalf of the writers that had chosen her. She bolted toward her aunts car that she got to use during the week for school in the schools parking lot. A crazy tall, handsome man, with red eyes, they weren’t fooling her into getting anywhere near him. “That’s low making him so freaking hot Carrie! I just know that was your idea!” Sandro couldn’t help but laugh at her words as he ran after her, getting ahead and stopping in front of her as she arrived at her car. She slammed into him and he said “I think you’re beautiful too but they didn’t choose me because they thought you’d find me appealing. I help him with people like you who wont live their story”
“Liar, I bet they made you say that.” She shoved him and he laughed. “That sense of humor, it was Ashley wasn’t it?” She was ready to take a swing at him when held up his hands.
“Easy, I’m telling the truth. I’m…”
“Don’t you dare tell me your name, that’s always the start of it.”
“Asshole.” She did swing at him then and he easily caught her wrists. His skin was cold against hers and it gave her goosebumps.
“I’m just here to get you back on track, from beginning to happily ever after. I’m not here to be your mate or seduce you or be the hero of your story, that’s not my job, I’m more like a hall monitor.”
“I was fine before them and I’ll be fine now. I don’t want a story. I want to graduate, go to college, marry a guy, have kids and be a normal old lady.”
“Look at you, you’re fighting your very nature. You were born for adventure Ortensia. You are just being stubborn and you know it. You’d love the life they’d leave you down”
“Just let me go”
“come on, just give it a try. If you’re a willing participant in one story maybe you’ll like it Ortensia”
“I don’t want to be controlled”
“They don’t or you’d have long since been forced down a path. You have free will just as much as I do. We make our own choices in the scenarios they put before us”
“I guess I can’t argue with that logic”
“Come on, I’ll even go with you, it’ll be fun.”
She groaned. “this isn’t fair. I decide not to follow a plot and they just up and send a chaperone.”
He laughed, letting her go. “Let’s be friends, just friends and get you going. Of course now it might be a little off since you know I exist. We’ll work around it though.”
“It’ll be fine, I promise. I wouldn’t let you miss anything important.”
“Do I really have to fall in love?”
“No, but when you do you’ll know it. It’s like a shock to the system. It’s not predetermined, every single character they’ve created could have easily walked away from their other half, but they didn’t. People know when they belong together. Just come with me, okay and we’ll see what happens.”
“I kind of wish if this was going to happen it could have happened on one of the cooler plots. I mean, I do have to give them some of the things did seem like they could go to pretty interesting places. This one is just so run of the mill. An abandoned mansion in the woods wooo” He chuckled “I think they just started throwing just anything they could think up at you. As I understand it they’ve been after you for a few years now. Since your freshman year I believe”
“Yeah, I guess it was just like something is bound to interest this woman” He smiled again, he was glad she had been stubborn enough they needed him involved. She was already fun to be around. In Sandros opinion it wouldn’t be so bad if she ended up being the woman they intended for him. He wouldn’t bring it up though, it would only scare Ortensia away.
“If you want something more exciting, I’m sure they could think something up.” They walked up to the front door and he reached out, jiggling the handle. It was locked.
“This if fine, it’s actually really pretty in that spooky sort of way.”
Sandro followed her along the wrap around porch to the back door. “Also locked.”
“Cellar door maybe?”
“I’m betting basement window.”
“I’ll take that bet.” They headed down the steps. “What do I get if I win?”
“Hmmm, I’ll buy you dinner or set with you through whatever movie you want.”
“Even if it’s incredibly sappy and lame?”
“Yes, I’ll tough it out, even if it almost kills me with mush.”
“I’m holding you to that” Sure enough the basement window is how they got in. “well damn” he said, trying to sound disappointed. She laughed “sorry, a deals a deal.” The basement was large enough to be a decent sized apartment so it took them a bit to find the stairs. Her nose was already irritated from all the dust and if she were afraid of spiders her heart would be in over drive right now. She actually liked spiders. While most girls were terrified she thought they looked cool and some she even thought were cute. When she saw them in her home she would try to get them outside as quick as possible so her mother wouldn’t kill them.
Once up the stairs she called for Molly but no answer came. “Hang on, I can listen for them. I doubt they are here yet though”
“Yeah, they said they were going after school and I’m sure they actually went to their final class”
“I didn’t think of that when we came straight here but I’m sure it doesn’t matter. You finally followed a storyline. Ashley and Carrie might just throw a party to celebrate”
“Eh, well, lets explore. This place is really cool. There are so many different kinds of spiders and I can tell this place used to be gorgeous. I wonder if I could ask for this place instead of that car for my graduation present”
“Maybe thats why they were trying to lead you here. They know you and probably knew you’d like this place. They are on your side, they really are”
He grabbed her hand, making her pause. “I wouldn’t lie.”
His touch sent a tingle up her arm. “I know, I didn’t mean to imply you would.”
He smiled, releasing her. “Sorry, I shouldn’t just touch you.”
“It’s alright, you didn’t hurt me or anything. Come on, I want to know more about this place.” She could see dust dancing in the beams of light that pushed through the boarded up windows. She stepped into the kitchen and looked around. The place wasn’t in too bad of shape, nothing a little TLC couldn’t fix. “So, what do you think?” Sandro asked.
“It’s really nice.” She looked through the cabinets and the pantry then moved into the living room. “It’s huge. So, why did they send me here? Ghosts? Vampires? Renovation?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know, I just know this is where they wanted you, what you do from here is all you. It does look haunted though, of course this wouldn’t be a bad place for a vampire assuming they were allergic to sunlight.”
‘I would assume you’re not”
“Cool, so tell me a little about you. If we’re going to go on a date later I want to know more”
“well, I’m just a vampire. Not mixed with anything and I don’t have too exciting of a life outside helping Ashley and Carrie from time to time. My parents were good people, my siblings are nice” she interrupted “how many siblings? I only have one, his name is Cibor”
“I have eight, triplets run rampant in my family. My mom had two sets of triplets which is where six of them came from”
“wow, why didn’t she stop when it happened the first time?”
“well if she had done that I wouldn’t be alive”
“Oh” he chuckled “my mom loves children and my dad is happy to give them to her”
“Thats sweet, sounds like the type of people Ashley and Carrie would think up” He chuckled again “regardless of what you do after this I really want to be friends with you Ortensia”
“You too, I want to meet your family” He could practically hear the writers laughing and feel their triumph. Maybe them getting together was their point. Weather it was for him or her he whispered “thank you”
“Huh?” Ortensia asked and he said “nothing”
“you whispered something”
“Ashley and Carrie, what’re you doing right now?” she asked as she looked up again. “Looking up doesn’t make the message go to them any clearer” Sandro pointed out.
“What are they doing then? You have a direct line right?”
“Well, yeah, but it’s not like they just tell me everything. Anyway, I…I was just thanking them for letting me hang out with you, that’s all. Sorry if that’s weird.”
“Well why didn’t you just say.”
“I was just a little embarrassed you had heard me, you have really good ears.” He rubbed the back of his head. “So, we should look upstairs, I bet it’s really cool.”
“I didn’t mean to snap.”
“It’s fine, really. After you.” She turned away and he followed, his heart beating hard in his chest. “So, why do you always wear a jacket? It’s pretty warm today.”
“I’m always cold, no matter what I do. Before you ask why don’t I ask Ashley and Carrie to change it, it doesn’t bother me, it’s perfect for summer.”
“yeah, I guess it would be nice. Especially July and August, god. Somtimes I feel like I’m going to die” They looked around and talked until Sandro let her know the girls were coming. He could hear them and guessed she probably had no interest in hanging out with them. He picked her up and silently got them back out of there and on the way back to her aunts car. When he set her down she said “I’m serious about that place. I love it. That would be better than a car”
“I hope your parents agree then. Anyway, a date. What would you like to do?” She blushed “I’d like to torture you with a chick flick”
“Alright, Sunday it is. What movie?”
“I can’t tell you or it wouldn’t be torture.”
He chuckled. “Alright, let’s get you home then.”
“Are my classmates going to be okay?”
“Oh yeah, no worries.”
Sandro climbed into the passenger seat of the car and yawned as Ortensia drove. It had been a productive day and he was excited about seeing her again. When she pulled into her parent’s driveway he got out and walked her to the door, making her laugh. “What, I wanted you home safe. As your hall monitor it’s my job to make sure you get where you need to be.”
“well, just make sure you’re here Sunday”
“I wouldn’t even think about not coming. I’m a man of my word” She went inside and he found himself not wanting to leave. He managed to force himself though, knowing her parents might not like some random vampire coming into their home uninvited. Saturday came and Ortensia went shopping for supplies. She picked a couple movies, bought some snacks and a couple 2 liters. She didn’t know if he liked soda but it wouldn’t hurt to have some. On her way home she said “I can’t believe I’m finally doing this you two. I have sworn for so long I wouldn’t be any part of your stories but damn it he’s cute and fun to be around”
She could just imagine them smiling, knowing they had won. She was a little nervous the next day and took forever picking out an outfit. She took a deep breath as she did her hair, telling herself he would like her no matter what.
“Well look at you.” Her dad teased when she came out to wait. “This boy must be something special.”
“Yeah, I mean I guess.”
“Well, your mother and I decided to go out so you two can hangout without us hovering. You know we trust you.”
“He’ll be here soon if you want to meet him.”
“alright, we’ll try not to embarrass you” When Sandro arrived her parents stayed and talked to him for only a short while, not wanting to eat too much of their time since they weren’t sure how long he could stay. “It was nice meeting you two” Sandro said and her mother smiled “well you seem to be a sweet young man. Your contacts are cool” He looked at Ortensia for if he should tell them or not and she said “yeah yeah a lot of the kids at school are wearing them” She’d tell them he was a vampire and his eyes actually were red but this wasn’t the time to have that conversation. They left and her father locked the door behind him.
“From what I know about you you are typically honest with your parents” Sandro said and she answered “yeah, I’m going to tell them. I’ll tell them tonight after you leave. It’s going to be a big talk since you have to know it’s just humans here”
“Out in the open anyway, yeah, thats why I looked to you.”
“So before I start the first movie would you like some popcorn and soda? I also bought some candy, well a lot of candy since I wasn’t sure what you like.”
“Sounds great. I’m not really picky.” He chuckled. “You learn not to be when you have so many siblings.”
She smiled. “Just make yourself at home then.”
“I can help.”
“It’s okay, I’ll yell if I need you.”
Ortensia put a bag in the microwave then took the candy to the living room where she set it on the coffee table “what kind of soda do you want?” she asked them gave a list of what she had. “Sprite please” he said with a smile that made her blush again. She hurried out, wondering how he was so easily able to do that. He wasn’t the first attractive male she had seen but she reacted to him as if he was. By the time she had popped a bag of popcorn for each of them she was calm once more, determined to stop looking like such a dork in front of Sandro.
She put in the movie and sat with about one persons space between them. She couldn’t bring herself to get any closer. This was the first time they were spending time like this together anyway. She had went to that mansion with him but she hadn’t really wanted to do that. The night stayed perfectly innocent and ended after two movies “thank you for inviting me over Ortensia”
“It was fun”
“Being that was a date, do I get to kiss your cheek before I leave?”
“You’re so weird” She said and he chuckled “what?”
“Thats such an innocent question for a dude” He laughed again, not at all expecting this reaction but it made her all the more endearing to him. “Not all men have a one track mind you know Ortensia. I really like you and for now, all I want is to get to know you and maybe just the smallest amounts of affection. Could I kiss your cheek?”
“sure” she was blushing again and hated it because it was so obvious. His never wavering smile was still there, only briefly fading as he pressed a soft kiss to her left cheek “goodnight Ortensia”
“Good night.” Her heart was fluttering as she watched him leave and she quickly ran upstairs and jumped onto her bed, burying her face in her pillow. “Damn, damn, damn.” She said. “You two, you did this, now I’m…” She turned over, her face bright red. “You win, okay. I give, I really do.” She wondered if this was it, if this was the direction she should be going in. Sandro was supposed to be her guide and she wondered if he knew Carrie and Ashley had planned this and if he did what he would do if she told him how she was starting to feel. “This has to be weird for him right?” She asked the air. “I mean it’s not like he’d make me be with him, he’s too sweet for that. Am I supposed to make a move? What should I do?” She knew they wouldn’t tell her, this was her choice as Sandro had pointed out. “I’ll wait a little while longer to see if he really feels the same and then if he does, I’ll tell him how I feel.”
Two months passed and he came to her graduation. When she saw him in the crowd she felt touched he actually came. He was also coming with her the next day to start cleaning up her home. Her parents weren’t sure at first if they could get it but the owner was anxious to get it off their hands so it had come at a steal. It made Ortensia glad Sandro had nudged her on to actually follow a storyline. She would have never seen that beautiful, abandoned place if she had kept refusing. It made Ortensia a bit nervous with how Sandro’s eyes never left her the whole ceremony though at the same time she was happy, she was growing more and more confident, almost confident enough to tell him how she felt.
After the ceremony Sandro joined them for a celebratory dinner. “Since you’re meeting us so early tomorrow anyway would you like to stay the night? Our couch is a sleeper sofa so it pulls out into a fairly nice bed.” her father offered. “That would be amazing, thank you”
“You can borrow something of mine to wear tomorrow. I have a few shirts that are a little too big on me so it might make up for the height difference” Ortensia’s fathered said. He was going to be sleeping in the same house as her and she couldn’t remember ever feeling this nervous. She chastised herself silently “god you’re acting like he’ll be sleeping in the same room as you. He’ll be in the living room, get a grip. He can probably tell you;re nervous”
She wanted to talk to him that night, but she wound up just telling him goodnight and heading to her room. It was about an hour after she was settled in that someone tapped lightly on her door. She slid out of bed and pulled the door open, a little surprised when she saw Sandro. She thought maybe her father had come to make sure she was alone.
“Do you need something?”
“I just wanted to say congratulations again and give you something before you went to sleep.”
He leaned in and kissed her cheek, giving her goosebumps and making her heart jump in her chest. “Good night beautiful.” He gently stroked her cheek. “Sweet dreams.”
He went to walk away and she reflexively grabbed him to make him stop. He looked at her “yes Ortensia” How did he manage to make her name sound so beautiful? “Do you like me, as in romantically” He now wore a nervous smile “Honestly? Yes, yes I do”
“Good because I like you romantically too” He chuckled “then could I have a real kiss?” She blushed and he got close to her again, waiting for her okay. She eventually was able to tell him yes and he gave her a brief, soft kiss. “goodnight beautiful” he said again “goodnight Sandro” He didn’t want to leave now, it wasn’t fair she had told him this right now, where he couldn’t just hold her for awhile. He didn’t want to risk pissing her father off. He forced himself to the living room and laid down. He felt incredibly happy and urged sleep to take him so he could be with her tomorrow.
When the morning came he eagerly went up to her room to wake her. “I’ll be down soon” she said and got up to ready herself. He waited by her door, hugging her when she came out. “Good morning” he said happily and she answered “good morning”
“Can I hold your hand on the way to the kitchen? Your mom is cooking” She slid her hand into his and they walked to her kitchen where her mother smiled “well good morning you two”
“Good morning.” Sandro said with a happy smile.
“Morning mom.” Ortensia could feel her cheeks warming. “So, we’re dating now.”
“I can see that. Your dad and I had a feeling this would happen soon.” She smiled. “The way he looks at you and how red you always are really told us all we needed to know. We really like you Sandro and we know our baby is in good hands with you.”
When breakfast was over they met some friends and a few professionals over at what would be Ortensias place. Now that she was out of school her concentration was on this home and Sandro. She was definitely going to go to college but she had just started a relationship with Sandro that seemed like one worth really investing in and she wanted to make this mansion a real home before she started because her mind would always be drifting to this project otherwise. Her future was looking pretty amazing and as begrudging as she was to admit it she had Ashley and Carrie to thank for that. Those annoying writers she had been swatting away for so long had set her on a path she’d be forever grateful for.
~ The End