As he lay there with his own sweat and blood soaking his white shirt, the boy looked back on his own life and regretted every decision he had made that lead him to this day.
He had trusted the wrong man. Of all things he had done, he trusted a man who he now knew was a perfect manipulator. He turned out to be the kind of person that he had always stayed clear from. But the boy had been so blinded by friendship that he never saw the man's true intentions.
The Man that he once called friend now stood above him with his gloved hands behind his back, and an obvious grin of triumph on his face. The Man had had an advantage since the moment he took out the gun from his hidden holster.
"I told you that this was the way it was supposed to end." The gleam in his eye told the boy that he thought he had won, and in a way, he did.
The Man had taken everything that was dear to him. The Boy should have known that the man was obsessed with him and his life since the very beginning. But by the time he had figured everything out, he was too late. Everything was set in motion, and he could do nothing to diminish it.
The Boy had a loving home, friends that adored him, and a woman that was clearly in love with him but was no longer his.
The Man was rich and powerful, and had everything he could have ever imagined of having. But he never had what the boy had: parents to cherish him, friends that would be there for him, and a woman to love him, not to use him for his wealth and name.
When the boy closed his eyes, he saw the laughing face of the girl he had been in love with since his young teenage years; the woman who he had fought for, but lost.
He wanted to cry, but he knew that would be a sign of weakness and defeat to the man who now towered over him.
The boy clutched at his injured stomach, the spot where the man had shot him. After the boy was through with coughing up more blood, the man said,
"I’m the one who deserves to lead a life like yours, not you. You never had a right of self-loathing. You are the golden boy of Ohio. What do you possibly have to complain about?” Then after a moment of silence, the man laughed and continued on saying,
“Oh yes, that’s right. You sightlessly slowly handed me everything that mattered to you, and I more than willingly accepted. You lead a life that any man would desire of having. And now it’s mine.” The man was silent again, as the boy roared out in pure agony. He was now lying down in his own pool of blood, and the sight pleased the man.
The boy he had once saw as his best friend was now withering in pain.
For almost a moment, the man wanted to reach out and help him, but quickly decided against it. He knew deep down inside that the boy still mattered to him, but he wasn’t going to let his old feelings get in his way.
The man now knew it was time to mess with the boy’s heart even more.
“If you ever truly loved her, you would have never let her go. And now, she's mine to keep and you will never have her again. You will lay here and think of how much of a failure you are to her, and eventually, you will die here. You were once my best friend. But then you turned your back on me. Look where that has lead you. You are so pathetic."
The Boy heard a loud cruel chuckle echo around him, and the sound of footsteps as the man walked away from him.
He was leaving him there to die.
He knew that he had to get up, but he just couldn't find the strength to. "I'm sorry that I couldn't save you..." he said in a hoarse voice. Then after one last thought of her beautiful face, his entire world transformed into darkness.


"Wash my car, clean the house, and erase any trace of him ever being here." The Man said to his guards and servants once he made his way home. He knew that soon enough, someone would miss and worry for the boy enough to start looking for him.
He knew that it wasn't exactly a wise decision to leave the boy at the abandoned home in Field Hanson, but he wanted him to suffer the way he had all his life.
He wanted him to feel helpless and lonely the way he had years before.
Once his father said that the boy was the kind of son a father could be proud of, something in the man just clicked.
He envied the boy for being perfect, and wished for the longest time to be like him, but knew that it was impossible.
The Boy would never take another's life, even if the enemy was going to kill him. That was the main difference between the two: The Man would shoot a threat in the head without a moment's hesitation, while the boy would rather leave the enemy unconscious for the authorities.
And even now, knowing that the boy was out there bleeding to death on the cracked floors of the abandoned home in Field Hanson, he still felt empty. He had gotten everything from the boy's life, but he still wanted to be like him.
He wanted his father and mother to look at him, and be proud of who he was. But instead, he still saw the resentment and loathing they had towards him. But he knew that someday, he would become just like the boy, but greater, and now no one, not even the boy, was there to stop him.

6 Years Before

"This is so typical of you Clark!" Arianna Lynne shouted at her best friend, Clark Queen. The anger in her voice was shocking to Clark, and even to herself. Never in her life had she ever spoke to Clark in such a malicious tone, but she had to get his attention.
On the inside, she felt guilty for her accusations, but Clark hid so much from her that sometimes it was impossible to muster.
"What?" he said back, just as harsh.
"You know exactly what." she said, almost in a whisper. She knew that he would explode at her at any moment, but she didn't care. All she wanted was to feel trusted by him again, just like he did in the old days.
"No, actually I don't. Would you care to elaborate with me?" he said, annoyed. He understood perfectly that Arianna was worried about him, but there were just some things that she didn't have to know about his life.
"When it's finally time for you to open up to me, you just shut me out. It's almost as though Clark Queen is immune to honesty nowadays."
"Well excuse me for not wanting to share every detail of my life with you. Look, everyone has secrets Arianna. Don't you think I should have some of my own too?"
In its own way, he made a point. But Arianna didn't want to admit her agreement.
"Not if it's going to tear our friendship apart." Arianna said with a trembling voice. She was on the verge of tears now, and Clark knew it. He wanted to comfort her, but as much as he wanted to, he just couldn't tell her.
"Our friendship is strong. It can survive anything." Arianna was crying now, and he took her shaking body into his arms. He hated to hear and see her cry, but this time, he couldn't exactly do anything about it. He hated lying to her all the time, but for her sake, it had to be done.
They were on the trail near Clear Creek Lake, and as Clark looked up at the sky, he saw the grey clouds and knew that it was about to rain.
Arianna heard the rumble of lightning above her, but couldn't bring herself from crying. Everything that she had been bottling up since her mother's disappearance three years ago was pouring out.
Noticing that she wasn't going to stop anytime soon, Clark scooped her off her feet and into his muscular arms.
He only made Arianna cry a few times before over ridiculous arguments, but her weeping had never been this bad.
When Arianna's mother, Lafayette Francois Lynne, disappeared almost three years ago, Arianna's life had crashed down all around her. Since then, her father, Damon Lynne, had become an enraged alcoholic who hated how much Arianna looked like her mother.
Arianna’s mother wasn’t taken; she had just up and left. Damon woke up to find his wife gone. He scrambled out of bed and rushed all around the house to find Lafayette, but she was nowhere in sight. He tried calling her cell-phone, but it was disconnected. He called the police, but when they searched her name up, they said no such woman existed.
Damon tried arguing with them that his wife existed and wasn’t made up, but they wouldn’t listen to him. After awhile of just sitting there on his bed with a blank stare, he got up and went through the drawer’s, closet, and even the laundry, but found nothing of hers.
After realizing that his wife had abandoned him and their daughter, he dealt with it by drinking. Arianna would come home to find him crashed out on the couch, with envelopes of bills and beers scattered all around him.
She would always try to comfort him by saying that he wasn’t alone, but he didn’t care. His life belonged to Lafayette, and now that she was gone, he made it clear to her that she meant nothing to him.
Arianna and Damon would occasionally get into heated arguments over his unemployment, and his lack of love towards her, that it took Arianna so far over the edge that she ran away from home. Her father never went out to look for her, which angered Clark. He wanted to beat Damon senseless, but knew he could never do such a thing, especially when Arianna still obviously cared and loved her father.
Arianna quietly went through her pile of clothes on her bedroom floor, and thought about the following day that she was going to spend with Clark.
He was going to pick her up at eight for a movie.
When she found what she was going to wear, her thoughts of Clark evaporated and focused on her father instead.
She ran downstairs, and stood in the entrance of the living room where her father was.
"Dad, why don't you love me?" Arianna had asked her father, tears forming in her eyes.
As usual, he was sprawled out on the couch with a beer in his hand as he watched the football game. She knew that her mother had hated football, and Damon never got to watch it. Atleast he was free to do whatever he wanted to do now. But now, he was lonely.
He looked up at Arianna, and grinned.
"Because you look like her. I hate you for that." Arianna gasped out loud.
"Just because she left doesn't mean you have to take it out on me. It's your fault that she's not here!" she yelled, angry with her father. He had no idea how much harm his words had caused her heart and soul. She was beginning to break slowly.
"If you were never born, she would be! You ruined us. All she cared about was you, and never paid attention to me. So don't you dare tell me she left because of me. It was all you!" Damon shouted. He had stood up on his feet by then, but tripped.
"You're so pathetic. Look at you father, you can't even take care of yourself. Maybe she had grown tired of looking after you. All you ever did was whine and complain about every single little thing. It drove her nuts. She couldn't even focus on her modeling career with you calling her for something every ten damn minutes! She hated cleaning up after you the most. You couldn't even fold your own clothes. And you've gotten worse. I don't blame her for leaving you! If I were in her position, I would have done the same thing!" she shouted at the top of her lungs.
Before he could say anything back, she ran out of her house. She couldn't stand being there for another second. She might as well have been standing in a room full of smoke. She couldn't breathe in there.
All she could do was run.
He had drove his black 1967 Chevrolet Impala to her home to take her to the movies one Saturday afternoon, only to find out from Damon that she was missing.
It had been a long time since Clark had seen Damon, and when he finally had, Damon’s appearance and attitude stunned him.
Damon had abruptly swung the door open to Clark with a bottle of Rum in his hands. He was wearing a Metallica t-shirt, and was wearing black boxers and knee-high socks. He looked like a wreck.
Behind Damon, he could see that the home hadn’t been cleaned in days, maybe even months. It was unlike Arianna to leave the house like that, but he didn't see or hear her around. Where was she? While Clark was thinking this, the wind swept an unpleasant odor of the house and Damon to his face, and backed away.
He could see how lost and heart broken Damon was, and it made Clark pity more than he had before.
He could only imagine how it would feel for the woman he loved to ever walk out on him without an explanation or a goodbye, but Damon had taken it too far when he said that Arianna ran away from home, and that he hadn’t even bothered with calling around to find her.
“I don’t know where that little brat went. You know, she expects so much from me, just like her mother had. You see, Arianna and her mother are the same. They both ran away. I don’t need either of them in my life. I know that much now. The day Lafayette left was the day I stopped giving a shit about everything else.”
Damon was saying over swigs of his Rum. He was noticeably drunk, and Clark was definitely not in the mood to hear Damon’s sob story.
“Arianna’s probably out there whoring around, just like her mother is probably doing now.” And before Clark could stop himself, he punched Damon so hard in the face that he toppled over onto the ground, spilling his Rum all over himself.
“Never say anything like that about Arianna again.” Clark said in such a threatening tone that Damon just nodded his head furiously and grasped a hold of his face.
Clark didn’t care how much pain the man was in at that moment, all he cared about was finding his best friend.
When he turned around to leave, he found many onlookers staring at him in utter amazement. They knew who Clark was, and they were surprised that he had punched the father of his best friend. But they also knew how callous Mr. Lynne was, and they weren’t exactly surprised to see that someone had finally had the nerve to hit him. They especially weren’t expecting it from such a gentleman such as Clark Queen.
But as Clark left the wounded Damon Lynne behind him, he ignored all the stares that were cast upon him. He didn’t care what they thought of him now, all he cared about was finding his best friend and hoping that she wasn’t harmed or in any immediate danger.
And as he drove around town, he grew so tired that he was afraid that he was going to fall asleep at his wheel. Promising himself that he would try again in the morning, he went home. But when he went into his barn to gather his school bag and his jacket, he found Arianna lying unconscious on the couch in his loft.
As Clark peered down to look at her tear-streaked face, all he wanted to do was hold her and tell her that he would never let her be hurt again. But he knew he couldn’t keep such a promise to her. He wouldn’t always be there for her, and he was aware that someday something terrible would happen in the future and he would have no control in stopping it. But for now, he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that she would never get hurt.
Clark’s sister, Peyton, who was only two years younger than him, let Arianna stay in her room for as long as Arianna liked. The Queen’s didn’t mind the company at all, but rather enjoyed it. They would have done anything for Arianna if she asked them to. They knew how much Arianna meant to Clark, and she also meant a great deal to the oldest and the youngest of the Queen family.
While Clark carried the now sleeping Arianna in his arms, he wished that he had driven them to the clearing other than their decision of walking.
Probably if they hadn’t walked, they would have never gotten into their argument.
Clark sighed, and hoped for a better day tomorrow. The day after tomorrow would be the sixth month of their senior year. Everything was better than it used to be, but when Arianna had accused him of not trusting her anymore, everything seemed raw to him.
In a way, it was true. He couldn’t trust anyone with his confession of the situation he had gotten himself into, and he knew that he couldn’t back out of it now. He had a long way to go, and he was kind of glad that they loved him in Michigan.
After a very long walk from the clearing near the lake, which seemed as more than an hour had passed, Clark finally made it to the farm. With his stoke of luck, the skies had decided on not down pouring on him and he was ultimately grateful.
The last thing he wanted was a sick Arianna that would do nothing but complain and annoy him.
Clark wasn’t able to get the key out of his pocket, so he had to knock on the door heavily with his boot. When the door finally opened, he found himself face-to-face with some random dark haired boy.
He had no idea who the kid was and what he was doing in his house, but when Clark saw his sister Peyton skipping down the hall towards the door and slung her arm into the boys, Clark’s brotherly instincts came in.
He didn’t know why, but he wanted to scare the boy so far away that he would never bother with going around his little sister again.
Clark sidestepped around the boy and Peyton, and carefully placed Arianna onto the couch in the living room for now. He was too tired to take her all the way upstairs. He had enough carrying for the day.
He was about to ask the boy who he was, when the boy extended his hand out and addressed himself,
“My name is Wesley Hanson, and you must be,”
“Clark. What are you doing here?” Clark said, not letting the scrawny boy finish.
Peyton gave him a look that said, “Be nice”. But Clark had no intention in being nice to the boy. He would have to frighten him a bit before he truly acknowledged him.
“I have come here for dinner. The eldest of the Queen’s had invited me.” Wesley Hanson had a deep English accent that he tried not to laugh at, but couldn’t.
Peyton knew why her older brother was chuckling, but tried to stop him before she truly became annoyed.
She gave Clark another daring look, and he stopped. Clark and Peyton didn’t get along very well, but he never liked to upset her purposefully. He would only give her some sarcastic remarks from time to time just to irritate her, but at this moment, he knew that the English boy meant something to her.
“All right, fine.” Clark said before his parents decided to walk in.
“Clark, you finally found time to make it home.” Terrance Queen said to his son as he walked over to slap him on the back. That was his father’s odd way of a greeting.
“Dinner will be ready in twenty minutes.” Julie Anne Queen, the most beautiful woman in Terrance’s eyes announced. She gave Clark a hug, pulled away and asked,
“Why are you so dirty? Go upstairs and wash up.” Clark hesitated for a moment, but knew that he had to and wanted to. He knew that he probably looked a mess and was sweating from being under the sun all day. But before he could, he had to wake up Arianna and tell her to wash up too.
Clark shook his best friend awake, and when her large almond eyes finally fluttered open, something in Clark’s stomach turned. He didn’t know what it was, but when she asked what time it was, he forgot all about it.
“It’s eight at night.” Clark said, and a little while later, both teenagers went upstairs into separate washrooms and took showers.
By the time they were dressed and downstairs, the food was ready to be served.
Peyton helped Julie Anne serve the plates which were filled with steak fingers, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn and peas, and garlic bread. The food looked so delicious that everyone at the table, except the eldest Queens, almost forgot to say prayer.
Everyone around the table, including Wesley, joined hands in prayer as Julie Anne said, “Thank you Lord for this food you have given to us today. We appreciate everything you have given us through our lives, and we thank you for keeping these children safe from harm. Amen.” Afterwards, there was nothing but laughs and conversation around the table for the night that Arianna felt as though this was where she belonged. But she knew that she couldn’t stay with them forever. Soon, she would have to go back home to her father, and she knew that time would happen at any moment.
Arianna found herself thinking more and more about her mother through dinner, and wondered what her life would be like now if she had taken her with her. She saw how out of love her mother had been with her father, but still she stayed. And through time, she felt as though her departing were her fault.
If it weren’t, her mother would have never abandoned her with her father.
She knew that Damon had run Lafayette off, but she also knew that her father was blind to it. As far as Damon was concerned, his marriage with Lafayette was perfect.
Till this day, Arianna still didn’t understand how her mother had disappeared without a trace. She was well known around the public world, so how did she manage to disappear? It didn't make any sense to her. The only way she ever would, was if Lafayette told her herself. But she knew that day would probably never come.
If Damon would have just made a missing person report, they would have probably found out where she was, but her father was just too lazy and cold hearted to do such a thing.
Arianna missed her mom more than anything else in the world. She wanted to feel her mother’s arm wrapped around her again, telling her that she will be there whenever she needed her.
But no, she had done the opposite.
She had taken off, leaving Arianna behind with a man that Lafayette no longer loved.
It wasn’t fair.
Arianna knew that one day her mother would have someone drop off an envelope with divorce papers in them, and that would be the day that Damon would truly lose his mind.
In everyone’s opinions, even Arianna’s, Lafayette had been too much for Damon to handle. Lafayette was a well known international model who was on many magazine covers, and was often shown in commercials. Lafayette was a Frenchwoman, who had come to America to look for her one true love. And that was when she had met Damon.
Arianna was the spitting image of her mother; she had the same long black smooth hair, and the same dazzling smile that caught everyone’s attention.
Arianna was naturally beautiful and graceful, with the figure of a dancer. Her emerald eyes were infiltrating, making your skin crawl with desire. She had fair skin, and red heart shaped lips. Her voice was velvety, that of an angel. She was never rude or critical to or about others. She would always try to find the goodness in others, usually leaving her heartbroken. But whenever the harshness from another would hurt her emotionally, Clark Queen was always the first to know.
She looked at Clark now, and found how fast her heart was beating as she watched him laugh and smile along with everyone else. He was the most beautiful boy she had ever seen. He was actually the most beautiful boy in all of Ohio, and to Arianna, he was probably the most handsome boy in the entire world.
Clark had short black hair, a perfect smile that could make any woman’s heart literally skip a beat, and he was also the third tallest guy she knew, standing at 6’2. He had high cheek bones, and long thick eyelashes. If anyone were to ever take one look into his baby blues, they would feel as though they knew him all their lives. It’s almost like you fall into the abyss of love and hatred. He had that kind of effect on people, but lately he had become a little harsher in a quiet way.
He was the famous quarterback for The Crows of Sir Santorin High. He was the most adored male in town, and was known as the Golden Boy of all of Ohio. If the girls didn’t fall in love with him, they would have small crushes on him. And if the guys didn’t look up to him, they hated him. She knew that someday, he would become famous.
She loved how unaware his charm was on people, especially girls. They would always fall head over heels in love with him, but he would never notice any of them in particular.
Arianna knew that the only girl that Clark had ever loved had walked out on him for a college boy she had met over the summer.
Her name was Zoe Lovington. She had been a freshman, while Clark was a sophomore, when they had met. And after their encounter, they spent almost three long years together.
She was a gorgeous girl, and was sort of sweet in her own way, but Arianna had never liked her. But she could never have let Clark know that. He would have freaked out on her. Things about Zoe floated around school, bad things.
Arianna knew better than to believe rumors made up by teenagers, but the more time she had spent with Zoe without Clark around, she felt as though the rumors were possibly true.
Zoe would always talk about grown up things, and would always be looking at other guys. But once she had seen Arianna watching her, she stopped immediately and never did it again.
She probably knew that she would had made a report of it to Clark, and the two would end up fighting about it.
But Arianna had never done that, and Zoe was thankful to her for that.
People would always say that Zoe wasn’t the kind of girl that could stay faithful for long, and she had a reputation of being a heartbreaker at her old school. She walked around the school as though she owned the place, and that simply annoyed Arianna.
Zoe had short blond hair that she always curled, light green eyes, and a body of an eighteen year old at the age of sixteen.
Zoe was wanted by many boys and even by men much older than her. She flaunted about, showing her body off as much as she could at school. But when she had seen Clark for the first time in her life after hearing many stories about how handsome he was, she had an immediate attraction towards him.
The first time Zoe had ever seen Clark was during the second week of her freshman year at Sir Santorin High School. She had been flirting with a couple of other boys from separate grades, but instantaneously lost all awareness of them when she saw a tall, dark, and handsome boy enter into the school with a bunch of people surrounding him.
“Who is that?” Zoe asked her friend Madeline, after losing her breath from the sight of him.
“You honestly don’t know who he is?” Madeline gasped in pure shock. She knew that Zoe was still kind of new to town, but not knowing who Clark Queen was, was absolutely absurd.
“Let me guess, Clark Queen?” she asked, growing impatient with her unpopular friend.
Madeline wasn’t exactly a pretty girl with her pimpled face and her crooked teeth, but Zoe liked how useful she was in knowing things about other’s in the school. Madeline was the girl that had spread the word about Zoe of being unfaithful. But anyone who knew who Zoe was, or had ever encountered her, knew she was before they heard the rumors.
“Yes, the hottest and the most popular boy in all of Ohio. He has the sexiest voice, a perfect body, and amazing eyes. But there is no way that you could actually get his attention. The only girl he pays attention to is his best friend Arianna.”
When Madeline told Zoe about Arianna, she wanted to know who she was, and why she was so important to Clark.
“They have been best friends since they were in diapers. The Queens and Lynne’s were totally close; Clark and Arianna practically grew up together. I heard that Clark has only dated a few girls, and let me tell you know, they were all beautiful but I don’t think he was ever in love with any of them. Clark Queen doesn’t exactly share his feelings with or towards anyone, only Arianna of course. Everyone thinks that they will end up getting married in the future, and everyone teases them about it. But neither of them presents romantic feelings towards each other. They’re just strictly best friends who tell each other everything.”
Madeline’s last two sentences were enough for Zoe to pounce. She wanted to be the girl that Clark Queen fell in love with.
A few days later, Zoe had finally got the courage to go up to him. She had never been shy about going up to a guy before, but there was something obviously different about Clark. With one look at him, she knew that he was the kind of guy that would never treat a girl wrong, no matter what the situation was.
After that day, Zoe and Clark became closer and closer until Clark had finally asked Zoe to be his girlfriend, and they stayed a couple until he was about to be a senior, and she was going to be a junior.
But during the summer, the two became distant. The two were always busy working, and never truly had time to spend together.
At her job at Denny’s, Zoe had met a boy named Houston Manning, a boy from Texas. He was eighteen, and was going to start college in the fall. Since the two had the same schedules, they became closer and closer. Houston knew that Zoe was faithful to her boyfriend Clark, who he heard about everywhere he went, but he wanted Zoe to be his girlfriend.
“Do you love him?” Houston had asked Zoe one day while they were washing the dishes at work. It had been a long and tiring day, and they hadn’t been able to talk throughout the day and they were both secretly longing to speak to each other.
Zoe paused when Houston asked her the question, but she didn’t know how to express her feelings, but she was going to try her best anyway. She desperately needed someone to talk to. All her friends at school thought of her as nothing but the girl that would eventually break Clark Queen’s heart, and she hated that that was the way people at school viewed her.
Clark was the only boy that she had ever been faithful too. Never had she flirted with another boy while with him, but she knew that they were drifting apart, and that they were losing romantic feelings for one another.
“In a way I do. He’s kind and gentle hearted. He’s the most beautiful man I have ever laid my eyes on, and for the past two years, I have spilled my heart out to him, and him to me. Clark has always been there for me. But lately, we haven’t been talking the way we used to when we first started dating. We’re both just too busy to make anytime for each other. Whenever I’m off work, he’s working. And when he’s working, I’m off. It’s almost as though something wants to keep us apart and I hate it.” Zoe admitted. She was on the verge of tears now, but she turned away from Houston as quickly as she could, and pretended as though her make-up had gotten in her eyes.
Houston knew that Zoe was crying, but pretended not to notice, for Zoe’s sake. He knew that her turning away from him was her way of telling him that she didn’t want him to see her cry. But Houston also knew that he couldn’t just stand there and let her cry. She needed someone right now, and Clark wasn’t there to comfort her. He was.
He pulled Zoe into his arms, and she slowly wrapped her arms around his waist as she cried.
Calming herself, she pulled an inch away from and looked up into his face. He wasn’t close to being as handsome as Clark, no one was. But Houston was still a handsome man. He was the complete opposite of Clark.
Houston had long dirty blond hair, grey eyes, and was light skinned. He was a bit lanky, and didn’t look as though he had an athletic bone in his body. But as she stood there with his arms wrapped around her, she felt whole again. She missed being held in warm arms, to hear the sound of a male’s heartbeat. And once the two saw the desire for each other in the other’s eyes, they instantly kissed.
Zoe pulled away after a minute, and felt as though she had made a terrible mistake. She still loved Clark, and just because they weren’t as close now as they use to be, didn’t give her an excuse to start a summer fling with a boy that was holding a dishrag in his hands.
“I’m sorry,” Houston said when he felt Zoe pull away from him.
But neither was truly sorry.
Zoe pulled Houston back into her arms and kissed him more passionately this time. She wanted him more than anything. She loved Clark, and knew that she always would, but her feelings for Houston were growing as she stood there and kissed him.
They had spent an awfully long amount of time together, and they both cherished every second they had when the other was around.
A little less than a month before school was going to start again, and Houston quit his job at Denny’s so that he can focus on college, Zoe knew what she had to do. She had to tell Clark about her and Houston. She knew that it would be the toughest thing she would ever have to do, especially knowing the fact that they will run into each other when school started again.
She had to end her relationship with Clark. Zoe and Clark had spent the last day together, but she felt extremely guilty about it. She couldn’t stay in a relationship with him while she was kissing another boy.
Zoe had called Clark that morning and asked him to meet her at the clearing near Clear Creek Lake, and once she saw him down the trail walking towards her with an amazing smile on his face, made it more difficult for her to tell him that she hadn’t called him to spend time with him, but to end their love.
“Zoe,” They said to each other at the same time. Zoe smiled, and Clark laughed his beautiful laugh. She still couldn’t believe that she had been disloyal to such a perfect man.
“Clark, I called you here for a reason. I need to talk to you about something.” The sad tenor in her voice stopped him in his tracks. He saw how her hands were shaking, and how her eyes were darting to look everywhere else but at him. There was something extremely wrong.
“What is it?” Clark asked, perplexed. He didn’t know what to expect.
She was quiet for a minute, until she finally spoke,
“I… want to break up.” She announced with a shaky breath.
The cadence of his heart began to quicken. All he could hear was the sound of his own heart beat. Did he hear her correctly? Clark shook his head, trying to block out the words he think he had heard.
“I want to break up.” She repeated. The words in her mouth tasted like vinegar, and she hated the fact that she had to say those words again.
But the look on his face broke her heart even more than the words she had spoken a few seconds ago. He looked hurt, confused, and angry all at once. She knew that he was trying to hear different words in his head, but knew that he couldn’t. He just stared at her, still as a painting on the wall.
“Why?” he asked finally, after what seemed like a generation. She noticed that he didn’t step a foot closer to her, and that he was still over twenty feet away from her.
“I…have been spending time…with someone else.” She said honestly. Zoe knew that the words would hurt him more than her confession of wanting to end things with him.
“Why were you with someone else?!” He shouted, making her jump. From where she stood, she could see how calm his features were, but the tone in his voice made it very clear to her just how angry he was, and she didn’t blame him.
“We’re not right for each other anymore Clark. I mean, we never spend time together. Yesterday was the first time we have hung out in over three weeks, and I’ve grown tired of it. I tried to tell myself that we could make it through our busy hours, but we just can’t. We’re never there for each other. The bliss that was between us has been gone for weeks now. I can’t keep this up with you anymore. Clark, I will always love you, and I know I always will. You were my first true love, and no matter who I’m with, I will never forget that. We have had so many good times together, but we don’t have them anymore. Clark, I have been talking to someone who makes time to see me; someone who is there. I love you Clark, but I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.”
But when Clark said nothing to her in response, she walked towards him. When she was at least ten feet closer to him, he held a hand out to stop her, and she did. She just stared at him with tears glistening down her porcelain face.
She watched him cry and, a little while later, he walked away from her. She wanted to stop him, but she knew that it wouldn’t be fair to him. Zoe knew in her heart that she would regret this day forever, but it had to be done. She was with Houston now. He turned around, and looked at her one last time. He was going to say something to her, Zoe knew it, but no words escaped his lips. His baby blues were filled with tears and they rolled down his dark handsome face even more. As he watched her hair blow in the wind, his heart broke. He shook his head at her, and walked away.
“I love you…” Zoe whispered to herself as she watched Clark disappear from sight.
That was the day that Clark Queen stopped believing in love.


He had to get out. He couldn’t stand one more moment knowing that she wasn’t his any longer. Although he didn’t want to believe it, he knew that she no longer loved him the way she used to. The thought of her loving another man repulsed him. How could she have done that to him? She had stepped all over his heart like she didn’t care.
He should have listened to the others when they said that someday she would break his heart, but he wouldn’t listen. Since the day he met her, all he wanted to do was to be with her.
His heart and mind stung with memory of her soft touch, her hypnotizing scent, and her words. The damp bed sheet weighed him down like water. He had dreamt of her. In his dream, she was there holding him tight. But as he leaned down to kiss her, she pulled away. What had he done so wrong for her to move away from him like that? But then he saw him. He was a skinny blond haired boy from Texas, coming to take her away so that she would be his.
He had tried begging her not to go, but with each word, she pulled farther away. She pulled her hand from his, and walked over to Houston, and when she got there, she kissed him. Houston embraced her, and as Clark watched, Houston smiled at him. Clark had lost the battle, he knew that much.
Clark was shaking, and as he stared up at the darkness that surrounded him, he refused to give in, but he had no other choice. She would never go back to him as long as Houston was in her life. He had a feeling that she would never be his again for as long as they both lived.
The more he thought about it, the angrier he became. He still couldn’t believe he had lost her.
He knew that they had barely got to see each other, but that did not give her the right to start seeing someone else while she was still with him.
He closed his eyes, and then opened them back up. He sank farther down as sorrow, marrow deep, found a familiar fit. Clark knew what he had to do. He had to get out of Ohio. He couldn’t withstand seeing her at school, laughing and smiling with all of her friends. Whenever he would see her, his heart would ache. He had spent so much time with her, and she had already been in love with someone else before she had broken up with him.
Clark was well aware that he could still fall in love, but it would feel weird for him to love a different girl. He couldn’t picture himself holding another girl, telling her that he loved her, and that he would fight for her till the end.
Clark got up and walked into the bathroom. Once in, he stared at himself in the mirror. His handsome face was marked with sad lines, and his eyes were blood shot from lack of sleep and silently crying for Zoe in the middle of the night.
He took a shower, shaved, dressed and packed. Gathering everything he needed for his trip, he stepped out of his door, causing light squeaks underneath his feet with each step he took.
Clark paused. He wanted to say goodbye to Arianna, but he didn’t want to disturb her. He slowly crept into Peyton’s room, and hovered over them. They had to share Peyton’s bed because her room wasn’t big enough for another, and the Queens didn’t want her to be uncomfortable while sleeping on the couch downstairs.
Arianna’s chest rose and fell with each silent breath, and sighed in her sleep. Clark couldn’t help but smile at his beautiful best friend. Not saying goodbye to her could be the worst thing, especially since her mother had already done it to her.
He still remembered Lafayette. And looking at Arianna now, it was like seeing Lafayette all over again.
He couldn’t stand being away from Arianna for a long period of time, but he had been doing that since Zoe had broken up with him.
Clark leaned down and kissed the two girls on their foreheads, and walked out. He took one last look at them, and smiled.
When Peyton wasn’t awake, she looked so peaceful. But whenever she was awake, she had this sad and angry look in her eyes.
He could never figure it out, and probably never would unless she told him herself. She was a hard girl to read.
As for Arianna, she was like an open book. Anyone can tell when she was upset, or overly excited, because it always showed on her face and in her voice. Arianna was the kind of girl that could easily be taken advantage of.
Unlike Peyton, she wasn’t exactly afraid of letting people get close to her. After everything she had been through with her parents, it had been a surprise to Clark. Or maybe, like him, she was faking it.
While Clark drove away from his home, he thought more and more about Zoe.
He thought of the elegant curve of her neck, her short honey gold hair, and her green eyes that were always so filled with life. Her features were defined, but what had caught his attention about her was her personality.
She was always laughing and smiling, and joking around with him. She would always buy him a shirt on an occasional Saturday, which were usually plaid designed, and make him wear it on their next date.
In ways, Zoe had always been jealous of his relationship with Arianna, and he still didn’t understand why. She brought Arianna up frequently, causing Clark to be defensive.
“I don’t know what it is Clark, but every time you talk about her, your eyes light up. You always smile when you’re with her. You’re barely ever like that with me.” She had accused him after she had bumped into Clark and Arianna shopping at the nearest mall, The South Mall.
The three of them hung out afterwards, but Zoe noticed that day how fond of each other Clark and Arianna were with each other. If she didn’t know them at all, and saw them together like that, she would have pegged them for a couple who were head over feet in love.
“She’s my best friend Zoe. You know that.” Clark said, annoyed. Was it a crime for him to hang out with his best friend? He loved Arianna and would never stop. She was his closest friend, and was also the only friend he would take a bullet for if it meant keeping her safe.
“Of course I do. I never said she wasn’t. I’m just saying that you’re not the same way with me. You show her more attention, don’t you understand that? I know you two grew up together, but I want with you what you have with her. I want the trust, and the laughter and the tickling. I want you to show me that kind of love.” she said seriously. She had never been the kind of girl to be jealous, but she was in love with Clark. And that made it tough on her.
She looked at him with his dark hair, and his jaw registered. Something deep crept beneath his eyes, and she was surprised. He was angry with her. He had never been angry with her before. He was too nice of a guy.
The only time she would see him angry is when he would see a kid being picked on, or when an animal was being mistreated.
Clark got into a lot of arguments with the guys at school, but she knew that the others were just jealous of him.
Any moron could see that, and a blind person could sense it. That’s how obvious it was. But like always, Clark was oblivious to it all. To him, everything around him was fine. He never got paranoid about anything, and he had trusted Zoe with everything.
“You and Arianna are very different from each other. There are things I can talk to her about, that I can’t talk to you about. And yes, we do play around more than we do. But you have to understand, I have been close with her since we were crawling around in diapers. We shared bassinets for chrissakes. I will always be closer to her than anyone else. I’m not even that close with my little sister. We will get there someday Zoe. If you give me the chance, we could have more.”
Zoe stopped talking about her after that. But Clark knew that she always thought about it whenever Arianna came around.
Clark was on his way to business, something that would clear his mind from life back home. The more he went to Michigan, the more he liked being there. Michigan had changed his life outrageously, and to him, it was good.
While driving, he saw a pretty girl walking alone. She was up ahead, and when she saw his headlights, she held her thumb out.
Hitchhiking was very dangerous, especially if you were a small girl like the one who wanted a ride from Clark. Clark came to a stop when he reached her, and rolled his window down.
“Do you need a ride?” he asked nicely, trying not to frighten her. She looked at him and smiled. She was glad that he was the one to be picking her up. She had no idea how she got there, but all she knew was that she was no where near home. She didn’t even think she was in her own city.
The girl answered by getting into the car. She had a guitar with her that had no case to protect it. She sat small in the passenger seat, gazing at him with those lost blue eyes, the same color as his. She had a tanned flawless face, long dark auburn hair with a hat sitting on top of her head, and a smile that froze him in place.
She was beautiful.
And yet, he felt guilty being there with her. Looking at her that way made him think of Zoe. He sighed on the inside as his heart clenched. Now was not the time to be thinking of his ex.
“Thank you so much for picking me up,” she said as she kept looking at him, then she continued, “what state is this?”
Clark was stunned by her question. Did she really not know where she was?
“Ohio.” He said simply, as though it were obvious. The girl smiled sadly and said, “I’m far from home.”
Clark’s eyebrow shot up in curiosity and worry. He didn’t know her, but he hoped that she hadn’t been kidnapped and dumped away.
“Where are you from?”
“Tennessee. I don’t even know how I got here.”
“Try to think back, and I’m Clark Queen by the way.” He said with a smile, and the girl’s heart raced when she saw it.
“I’m Caden Dream. And I tried to while I was walking, but it’s all so blurry. I simply can’t remember a thing.”
The looks on Caden’s face made Clark want to reach out and touch her shoulder as a sign comfort, but he knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. They didn’t even know each other.
“I’m sorry. I wish I could help.” Then he asked, “Do you want me to drop you off at home in Tennessee?”
What a sweetheart, Caden thought in her mind.
“No,” she said with a shy smile, “that’s too much to ask. It’s too far.”
“I’m not coming back to Ohio for awhile, so I might as well make the best of it. Besides it will only be a six or seven hour drive. No harm in that.”
The shadow that crossed Clark’s face made Caden feel inquisitive of him. There was definitely a story there.
“What happened?” she asked. Caden was well known back home for being straight forward, and was quite admired for it.
"What do you mean?" he asked nervously.
"You have this sad glint in your eye. And whenever you look at me, you look as though you think you're being unfaithful to someone."
Clark coughed, trying to ease the awkward sensation he felt.
"Let's just say that my last relationship didn't end very well."
"Why did you two end it?" Caden didn't want to be nosy, but she wanted to help him as much as she could. They were going to be around each other for another a few more hours.
A darker shadow over Clark's handsome face this time, making Caden a bit frightened of him. Was he truly hurt that bad?
"She cheated on me with a guy from her job. And now they're together."
Whoa, heavy stuff; Caden thought to herself.
"Why did she do it?" Everyone had a reason for everything, even if their reasons were never all that reasonable.
"She wasn't happy with me. She said that we never spent enough time together. We were both always working, and never got to see each other. So I guess that when she was with that guy, she felt happy. Even though it hurt me, I can kind of understand. I just wish she had broke up with me before she began seeing that guy."
"I'm really sorry. No one deserves to ever be cheated on. That's one of the worst things a person can do to another, besides killing of course." Clark and Caden laughed at that.
Clark hadn't laughed like that for awhile, not even when he was around his family. The only person that could brighten his day like that was Arianna.
"How did you react when she told you?"
"I lost it. First, I cried and cried until I felt as though my eyes could never shed another tear again."
"And?" Caden asked, more curious now than before.
"And what?"
"You're holding back on me Clark."
Clark paused for a moment and then said, "I began running away from home. Everywhere I turned, there was a memory of me and her. I can't stand being in Ohio anymore."
"Clark, I understand that you're hurting. But have you ever stopped to think that by leaving, you may be hurting someone who truly cares about you?"
That moment, Clark saw Arianna, Peyton, Zoe, and his parents flash in his mind.
He frowned. He knew that he was hurting them. He cared, but they had to understand someday that he couldn't keep spending every single day in Ohio.
"So, have you remembered anything yet?" Clark asked. He was truly hopeing that she hadn't just been dropped off here. Now that she was there with him, he felt it as his obligation to protect her.
"No, it's all still a blur." Caden said, making an adorable frown on her face.
Despite everything, he smiled. He wondered if she knew how pretty she was.
They drove in silence, causing Caden to fall asleep. Clark was everything but tired. He had been driving for over six hours, but his thoughts kept him up.
He wanted to let Zoe go, but he knew it was going to take a very long time for him to heal.
They were already in Nashville, Tennessee by the time Caden stirred. When Caden looked around, her face lit up. She couldn't believe Clark had actually took the time to take her home.
"Want anything to eat after this?" Clark asked as he stopped at a gas station.
She nodded, and smiled.
Once he put the gas in, and they drove off, he stopped at a Burger King and ordered her everything she wanted off the menu.
They were both starving, and with the dirt that was all over Caden, he knew that she must have been walking for a long time.
"Will you call me?" Caden asked out of the blue. She didn't want to lose him. Through the short time that they had spent together, she had felt as though she knew him her entire life.
Clark grinned, and said, "Of course." They were outside her house by then, and he froze in place when he saw her home.
It was a run down home, that looked as though it were going to collapse at any moment. Is that where she really lived?
Caden saw the look on her face, and frowned. She hated it when people looked at her home like that. She knew that it wasn't much, but that was all her parents could afford.
She was going to be moving out of the house once she graduated, but she would visit her parents as much as she could.
They needed her.
"I know, it's not much, but this is where I grew up." she confessed in a whisper as she stared at her house.
"As long as you're happy," Clark said with his beautiful smile. Her heart beat raced at the sight of him.
He walked her to her door, and they embraced. They didn't want to lose each other, he knew that much from what was inside his heart, and he could easily see it in her eyes as she looked up at him with her blue eyes.
"Your eyes are just like mine." she said with a warm smile.
He smiled back, and hugged her one last time.
"Keep in touch Clark Queen." Caden said as they smiled together.
"I will. Maybe I will stop back in town when I leave Michigan."
"What are you going to do in Michigan?"
"Business," he said simply. But she knew it was much more than that.
"You better come by then. I'll be waiting for you." They hugged one last time, and he jogged back to his car.
They waved goodbye to each other as he drove off, leaving Caden with her a heart that was now longing for him.


Arianna didn't want to wake up. Her dreams were as lovely as the sun settling in the horizon. She was laughing along with her parents, her black hair flowing around her face as they sat on the windmill.
Arianna had never been afraid of heights, and while she sat on the windmill with her parents, she felt love course through her body.
Her mother was sitting on her left, while her father sat on her right. They were both pointing out how beautiful the birds looked in the sky, flying around without a care in the world.
She could hear her parents talking and laughing, making Arianna's heart warm.
"I will always be with you Arianna." she heard her mother say. She faced her mother when she said this, but she was gone. She looked to her right, and found her father standing up, staring down at the field with beer in his hand. He looked as though he were going to jump.
"Dad, please sit down." she asked nervously. She didn't want him to fall. All he did was look down and smile at her. There was something not right about that smile.
Before she could blink, her father dove off the windmill.
"Dad!" she felt someone shaking her body now, and after what seemed like an eternity, she felt cold water splash her face.
"What the..." she yelled out, but she found herself looking into the eyes of Peyton, Clark's little sister.
"What was that for?" she asked with a growl. Her father used to do the same thing to her when she was younger.
Then she remembered her dream. Her father had committed suicide right in front of her.
"You were yelling out for your dad. I think you were having a nightmare." Peyton said with a frightened frown. Arianna's yelling for her father had waked her from a deep sleep. And when she tried to shake her awake, she wouldn't stir.
"I did have a nightmare." Arianna said, smoothing her hair down. She glared at Peyton because of this, and Peyton laughed.
Arianna couldn't be angry with her. She was like a sister to her.
"What is about your dad?" Peyton asked as she stood up and walked into the restroom. She came back out with a towel and handed it to Peyton with a smile.
Peyton was a beautiful girl with black hair that reached her shoulders, and the same piercing blue eyes that Clark had.
Arianna couldn't help but smile at the thought of her best friend. She couldn't wait to see him that morning. She knew in her heart that he was the only one who could fully understand her dream.
"Yes." she said simply. Peyton saw that she didn't want to talk about it, so she stood up and went through her drawers’ to find clothes.
Arianna did the same thing.
Both girls got ready with music blasting.
Usually Clark would have his music louder, but as she listened, she didn't hear anything.
"That's strange..." Arianna said out loud.
Peyton looked at her, and asked, "What is?"
"Why isn't Clark playing his music?"
"He's probably still asleep. Here, let me go check." Peyton announced with a mischievous look on her beautiful face.
"You go ahead and do that then." Arianna said with a laugh and finished dressing.
Peyton came back in with a weird look on her face.
"What is it?"
"Clark's not in the house." Arianna's heart began to race.
"He's not?"
Peyton shook her head and said, "He's probably out in the barn then."
"I'll go and check this time since I’m finished dressing." Peyton nodded, and Arianna walked past her.
It took Arianna a full two minutes to walk to the barn. But as she walked into the barn, she didn't see or hear him anywhere.
"Clark?" she called out. She waited for a response, but nothing came.
She hurried up to his loft, hoping that he had crashed out on the couch from studying. But he wasn't there.
She looked over at the table where his back-pack and jacket usually were, but nothing was there.
The only things on the round table near the couch were his books, binder, and the two picture frames.
One picture was of her and Clark back in the fifth grade. She had kissed him on the lips that day, and when he blushed, she laughed.
"What was that for?" he asked her, looking away from her. They had spent the day at the pool, washing away the "stress" of school off their shoulders.
"That was for being my best friend. I love you Clark."
Clark hugged her at her words, and she hugged him right back.
She could still remember her mother standing there with them holding the camera in her hands. She was facing the camera their way. They looked at her and smiled, still holding onto each other, as Lafayette took the picture.
Arianna picked up the photograph and smiled.
Then she switched her gaze over to the other picture.
She set the photo of her and Clark back down, and picked up the other.
It was of Zoe.
She was smiling at the camera while sitting in the passenger seat of Clark's impala. Her hand was reaching out, as though trying to pull her in.
A hatred that Arianna had never felt before flowed through her.
She settled the picture back down onto the table with disgust.
Zoe had broken Clark's heart, and Arianna hated her for it.
"Now is not the time to be thinking about her," she said to herself, "where are you Clark?" She ran out of the barn to check to see if his car was in the driveway.
It wasn't.
Arianna pulled out her cell-phone and dialed Clark's number. His phone was ringing, but he didn't answer.
She called three more times, but still, no answer.
She was beginning to panic.
Arianna remembered the last time that Clark had disappeared this way. And she knew that he was doing it because he was heartbroken.
She would never know where he had gone. The last time he had left, he was gone for four days. Everyone at school that noticed him gone was all scared that he might have gotten hurt. But to Arianna, she could never picture Clark getting physically hurt.
To Arianna, it was a coincidence that he had been named after Clark Kent/Superman. He had the same personality as Clark Kent. They were both very secretive, and had an amazing hero complex added into their being.
For all she knew, Clark could be a superman.
She ran back into the house, and once she saw the Queen's gathered at the kitchen table for breakfast, she felt her heart crack.
The last time Clark had gone missing, his mother had almost had a heart attack. How was she supposed to tell them that their only son had run away again?
Clark had left home so many times that it felt as though he would never come back.
Each time he took off felt as though a millions years had passed, instead of two days.
"Your breakfast is getting cold dear," Mrs. Queen said to Arianna without looking up. She had a habit of that.
But when Arianna didn't answer her, she looked up, and so did everyone else.
They saw the tears brimming in her eyes, and her mother automatically knew what had caused them.
"He's gone again isn't he?" Julie Anne asked. Arianna didn't want to be the one to have brought that news to the Queens, but Clark had left her with no choice.
She understood that he was hurting, but that didn't mean he had to hurt everyone he cared for either.
Arianna slowly nodded her head.
Tears were forcing themselves out, but she was not going to let them take over and win. She had to be strong for Clark and the Queens, and for herself.
Julie Anne just stared at her, as though she were waiting for her to say that she was joking.
"Dammit!" Terence Queen exploded, banging his fist onto the table. He did it so hard that his glass of orange juice spilled all over the table.
All three women jumped, afraid.
Terence couldn't believe that his only son had run away again. He didn't know whether or not he would be safe in the place he was going.
The first time he had run away, they had yelled at him. He had promised that he would never do it again, but he went back on his word.
After the first time, he ran away six more times in only four weeks. This would be his seventh time of leaving in the middle of night.
"That damn boy," Terrence muttered under his breath.
"I'm so sorry," Arianna said lowly, as though it were her fault.
"It's not your fault Arianna. You have nothing to be sorry about."
Arianna stared at them, poignant.
She was used to Clark leaving all the time, and she wished that she wasn't.
Her mother leaving was enough for Arianna. She didn't need her best friend to keep repeating that day over and over again for her.
"I can't believe this is happening again..." Peyton spoke softly.
Peyton knew that whatever Clark was doing out there was not honorable. Whatever he was doing would end up with him either dead or in prison.
Peyton closed her eyes, while her heart broke for her brother. Since the first time Clark had run away, she had been trying to get close to him, but he was so distant.
Clark was not the type to let anything to get to him, but Zoe had.
"Go on to school girls, we'll find him." Terence said out loud after a long silence.
Both girls nodded their heads, and took off for school.
This time, they had to take the bus since Clark wasn't there to drive them.
Peyton and Arianna made it through school without anyone asking them about Clark, but at lunch time, she found Zoe staring at her.
Her blonde hair had grown through the summer, almost reaching her back but not quite.
Arianna quickly looked away. She was hoping that Zoe wasn't planning on talking to her about Clark.
But once she felt that warm hand on her shoulder, she knew who it was.
Without turning around to face her, she said, "What?"
"Where's Clark?" Zoe asked in such a heartrending voice that it caused Arianna to turn around and face her.
Zoe had heard about Clark's disappearances during summer, and she wondered if he had left again.
Whenever he had turned out missing, she would call and call, but not once did he answer. It was as though he had set her phone calls straight to voice mail.
She knew that she had hurt him very badly, especially since she had fallen in love with Houston while she was with him.
She also knew that his disappearance’s had something to do with her.
"I don't know," Arianna said in such a bitter voice that Zoe's eyebrows shot up in surprise.
Arianna was well known for be the sweetheart of all of Ohio, but she wasn't being that right now.
She was staring at Zoe with such a cold stare that she just wanted to run away and hide.
Zoe never thought that she would be afraid of such a nice and beautiful girl like Arianna.
Zoe sat down in the seat across from Arianna. She had no food with her. She had become anorexic after her break up with Clark.
Houston would always try to make her eat, but she never wanted to. The only thing that ever crossed Zoe's mind was Clark. She wished that she had never met Houston in the first place. If she hadn't, she would still be with him.
If she had just made more time to spend with him, he would be there at school with her and every one else.
"Are you still in love with him?" Houston had asked her while they were hanging out in her room.
She still had all the presents that Clark had given her on her dresser, but Houston didn't know that they were from him.
She was so surprised by Houston's question that it took her awhile to answer him.
He just stared at her with those grey eyes of his.
He was obviously waiting for an answer.
"That says it all." Houston muttered under his breath angrily.
Houston knew that he wasn't nearly as handsome as Clark, or as charming or as funny. But she had chosen him over Clark hadn't she?
So why was she becoming so distant?
When she was cheating on Clark with him, she never acted this way. She was always cheerful and laughing. But after the day she had broken it off with Clark, she had become quiet.
"Besides, why do you care? You're the one who cheated on him." Arianna said, fuming. She tossed her black hair in a diva way, and turned her face away from Zoe.
"I care for him Arianna. I never planned on hurting him."
"Well you did, and now he's gone. Are you happy now? While you were with that disgusting boy, Clark was out there waiting for you to call him. But guess what? You never did."
Zoe placed her soft hands on the table, and stared at them.
She knew Arianna was right. She had never made an effort in calling him. It was mostly her fault that they had lost contact.
Whenever he would call, she would ignore them because she would always be with Houston.
The one time that she had answered, she hung up on him quickly.
"I know, and I wish that I could go back in time and change everything that I have done with Houston while I was with Clark. If I had known..."
"If you had known what?" Arianna interrupted. She didn't feel like hearing her useless request for forgiveness.
"I don't know how to explain it..." Zoe said lowly.
Everyone was staring at them now.
They knew that Arianna disliked Zoe with a passion, but they wondered why they were talking.
"I wonder what they're talking about." Gina Evans said to her friend Jacob Crowley.
Jacob smiled and looked down at Gina and said, "You should know the answer about that by now. Look at the irritated expression on Arianna's face, and look at Zoe's sad face. From here, it almost looks as though Zoe is asking Arianna for forgiveness. But Arianna's not the one she should be apologizing too."
Gina nodded, and in a bitter tone she said, "Zoe is so stupid for cheating on Clark. We all knew that it was going to happen sooner or later, but Clark was so in love with her that he never listened. He was hard headed when it came to Zoe Lovington."
"Yes, but still, Clark was too good for her anyway. He deserves better. I just wonder why he's not here now."
"I heard that he ran away more than once during the end of summer, and that he did the same thing last night." Gina said with a shake of her head.
She was close enough with Clark to know how sweet he was.
Not seeing him there made her feel weird. She was so used to his gorgeous smile that when he wasn't around to show it, the place seemed a little gloomy to her.
"I don't even want to hear an explanation from you Zoe." Arianna said while standing up and leaving a speechless Zoe alone at the table.
Arianna quickly threw away her uneaten lunch, and stormed out of the cafeteria.
Every single pair of eyes was transfixed on her, but she didn't care.
She just had to get away from Zoe. If she would have stayed there any longer, she might've reached across the table and attacked her.
Arianna smiled at the thought.
She wanted to hurt her the way she had to her best friend.
Arianna winced at the thought of Clark.
Clark not being there with her was pure torture that she could not withstand any longer.
She just wanted to hug him and tell him that she was there for him, but even if she had, it wouldn't really help.
Arianna blinked away her tears as she ran down the hall. She was going to leave school. She couldn't handle it. She wanted to help the Queens find Clark.
Arianna ran out of the school, and as she ran, she lost track of time. By the time she stopped to rest, she was in the clearing of Lake Hampshire.
"You reached Clark Queen, leave a message if you'd like." Arianna listened to Clark's voice in his voicemail and began to cry.
"Clark...its Arianna...where are you? We're all worried about you," Arianna said through tears. "I had a little run in with you know who...and I left school because I couldn't handle it...just knowing you're no where to be found is scaring the hell outta' me...please Clark, can you come back home?" When she was finished with her call, she fell to her knees and poured out all her tears.
She was tired.
She was tired of being left behind all the time.
Clark was doing it too much to her.
She just wanted to hit him, and hug him at the same time.
Couldn't he see how much he was hurting her?
Arianna knew that he was hurting, but did he have to hurt her in the process too? It wasn't fair to her. And she knew that Clark was oblivious to it.
Still crying, she lifted herself up off the ground and slowly walked to the bench. Once there, she sat down and cradled her head in her hands.
She breathed softly, and calmed herself.
Arianna looked up, and with a weak smile, she pictured Clark sitting there next to her.
"Wow, did you see the shooting star Clark?" Arianna had asked Clark while they sat on the bench in the middle of the clearing of Clear Creek Lake.
Nothing but trees and dirt were surrounding them, and they could hear the nature perfectly. The sounds of the crickets and the animals was peaceful.
He smiled at her, and nodded his head. She was wearing a pretty white dress that was two inches above her knees, and her long black hair was down.
Her tanned faced beamed up at him, and he couldn't help but smiled a little wider.
"Did you wish for anything?" he asked her, still smiling.
"Yes, but I can't tell you what I wished for because then it wouldn't come true."
"Fair enough." he had said with a laugh.
They were staring out at the sky, and Arianna reached out her hands and pretended as though she were carrying a star in her hands.
"I wish I could reach out and actually get you a star." Clark whispered.
"I wish I could get you one too." Arianna said with a grin.
They looked back up at the stars again, and when another shooting star crossed the sky, Arianna gasped and asked, "Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?"
Arianna looked up at him, and found him staring at her with a goofy smile on his face.
She blushed and said, "What was it?"
He reached his arms out and drew her into his arms.
He held her at arm's length after he hugged her and said, "You're the most amazing thing in my life Arianna. I seriously doubt my life would be this good if you weren't in it."
He cocked his head at her, and smiled his beautiful smile.
"You're blushing sweetheart," he said with a laugh.
"I am not." she said, pulling away. She knew that she was blushing, and now knowing that he saw it, made her face brighten even more.
She loved Clark Queen more than he thought, but he didn't need to know that.
Arianna wiped away her tears and looked up.
It was Peyton.
"Hey Peyton," she said lowly.
Peyton ran her fingers through her black hair and sighed.
She had been able to forget about Clark during school, but as she stood there and faced the tear streaked face of Arianna, it all came back to her.
"I wish he would have just stayed." Peyton said with a groan. Her older brother was causing such heartbreak in her family that she was beginning to hate him.
“I know what you mean. Your brother has been my best friend before you were even born. Doesn’t he understand how much he is hurting us?”
“Knowing him, I seriously doubt it. I’m sure he’s thinking of us, but not as much as he’s thinking of himself. Look, we all know that he’s hurting because of Zoe, but that doesn’t mean he could just keep running off like this whenever he feels like it. To be honest, I’m starting to despise your best friend.” Peyton said honestly. She had wanted to let that out for the longest time. She knew that if she had told her parents, that they would go psycho on her, so why not tell his best friend?
She would understand.
“Peyton, that’s not a good thing to feel towards your brother.” Arianna said, defending Clark.
“I can’t help Aria; it’s just the way I feel now.” Peyton stood up, and looked down at Arianna.
Even when she had runny make up, and her eyes were blood shot, Arianna was still beautiful. Barely any girls could pull a look like that off.
“Come on, let’s go home. I promise not to tell my parents that you left school before it even ended.”
As soon as both girls got back to the Queen Farm, they ran in to find the Queens.
Once they found them, Arianna asked, “Have you found him?”
“It’s nice to see you too.” Terrance Queen said with a soft chuckle.
Despite the circumstances, Arianna smirked.
“But no, we haven’t had word about him yet darlings. I’m sure he will come back when he’s ready. He always does.”
“But what if he doesn’t come back this time mom? What if he never shows his face around here again?” Peyton asked, livid.
“He will return Peyton. He will graduate.” Terrance said matter of factly.
“What makes you so sure?” Peyton asked as she sat down in the chair across from her father.
Her mother was already cooking supper. She was cutting tomatoes and carrots, and was coming in and out of the kitchen to speak to the others in her home.
Julie Anne darted her gaze at Arianna and frowned. Her long black hair was tangled from the wind, and her face was smeared from fresh tears.
Julie Anne knew how Arianna felt towards her son, and it broke her heart that Clark kept departing from her the way he was.
“Because, why would he want to throw away his life? It’s unnecessary. He even swore on his own life that he would graduate and head off to college after high school. I know that he will keep his word.” Terrance said proudly.
“He has already defied you once dad. Why would you trust him again?” Peyton questioned, still furious. She didn’t empathize how her father could believe him again. Last time he had made a promise to him, he broke it by running away a second time.
“I know my son Peyton. I know that he will come back and graduate if it’s the last thing he will ever do.” Terrance said in a voice that made it clear that he was through with their discussion.
“Fine, whatever you say.” Peyton left the table in a dreadful mood and ran up the stairs as quickly as she could. She couldn’t stand seeing their poignant expressions any longer.
“He’ll come back.” Terrance muttered under his breath, as though he were trying to make himself believe it.
“I hope you’re right…” Arianna whispered as she walked out of the dining room. As she walked out into the barn, and found herself in Clark’s loft, her hope was beginning to run out.

Terrible Things

“Let me guess, you left them all behind without saying bye right? Seriously, you need to quit doing that before they end up hating you.” River Sotari said when she saw Clark approaching her from across the warehouse.
When he reached her, he swept past her and sat at the desk where all the money was stacked. He just sat there and stared at it.
The money always piled up more whenever Clark got there to do his share of dealing. That’s why River had chosen to hire him in the first place.
He had come to her so committed that she couldn’t have said no. Besides, right when she saw him, she knew that she wanted to keep him around for as long as she could.
“Now that you’re here,” she said, since he had completely ignored what she said last, “we can get back to business.”
Clark grinned at her and looked at the money again.
Just looking at it, he could tell that it wasn’t money that you just saved up in your piggy bank since you were a young child.
The money that was stacked in front of him was from selling drugs, stealing and trading cars from and to clients and random individuals, and or dealers, and robbing banks and ATM’s.
The last time Clark was in Michigan with River and the guys, they had robbed Chemical Bank. They had been scouting the inside and outside of the building for weeks, and when it finally came to the perfect timing to rob them, it had turned out to be successful.
Clark had walked out of the building with the most cash, and because of this, he was highly respected in their “business”.
The police had never been able to track them down, and they were all glad for that.
Most of the men, including Clark at the beginning, were all rookies when it came to robbery. But to them, Clark was a pro after his first few tasks.
His first job ever with them was a few days after Zoe had broken up with him. He had tried to take his mind off of her by doing kick and fist boxing, but the last opponent he had, he had hurt the boy so bad that he had ended up in the hospital.
And when he had heard about a group of criminals that were now known as The Strikes, he went to find them.
And when he did, he knew it was the perfect thing for him.
What he was doing wasn't worthy, but he had to do something.
His first task was to steal the ATM from a corner store that River used to always go to as a kid.
Since the town was busy with festivals and since the street where the ATM was deserted, Clark and Pauli, another new recruit, were able to steal the ATM with graceful ease.
“What’s our next job?” Clark asked, trying not to sound interested.
This job was the only thing that could keep his mind off of Zoe. He knew that he was already letting Arianna and his family down, and if they were to ever find out what he was doing in Michigan, they would certainly be outrageously disappointed in him.
Clark knew that he had to get back home to finish school, but he didn’t want to just yet. Whatever the job was, it would come first. He would finish what was needed to be done, and he would leave to go back home to Ohio.
But for now, he belonged to The Strikes.
The police had called the gang The Strikes, because the gang would always strike banks, homes, car dealerships, and stores out of the blue.
“Boys gather around,” River yelled out to all the men that were in the warehouse.
The warehouse was a building that had been discarded when the authorities had found out that the last business owners and their coworkers had been slaughtered in the building by a near by mob. So River had bought the warehouse, made a business in robbery, and now there they all were.
“Our next hit will be First National Bank of America. It will not be as easy as all the other banks that we have been to. There is a police station right down the block, but this bank is very important. It has more cash in there than a king has gold. If we pull this off, we will be better known than any other robbery group in the world.” River announced, more excited about her new journey through her bank robbing days.
River was a well tanned pretty girl in her twenties with a strong jaw, and soft yet rugged looking shoulders. Her light brown hair was the same color as her eyes. She had muscle on her that would make any other woman proud.
She had fought through so much in her life that Clark and some of the others were surprised that she wasn’t dead yet.
Clark had heard about her when The Strikes had hit a nearby town over in Ohio. He had heard about them all over the news, but at first, he wasn’t very interested in them.
But when he had searched them up on the internet, he had found that they were very well known. The police have been trying to track them down for over two years now, and they would occasionally be close to getting them behind bars, but they barely ever succeeded.
When they had caught a few boys about a year ago, the boys would not give up their team just because they had been caught, and the others hadn’t been.
There was nothing but loyalty in their group, that if one of the members were to ever go against them, they would eliminate him.
They had never done it before, but Clark knew that it had to happen someday. Not everything was perfect and there had to be a time when everything around them will collapse.
“But what if the cops get there on time to catch some of us? What will happen then? If we do get this money, then some of us might not even be able to spend it on ourselves or on our own families. Where’s the good in that?” Pauli, Clark’s first partner asked.
“Whatever happens happens.” Clark said, getting annoyed.
Pauli looked stunned at Clark’s comment. Clark was the nice guy of the group. And the tone in his voice actually made everyone feel a new respect for him.
“See, Queen knows what he’s saying.” River said with a grin.
“Besides, if some of you guys do get caught and put on bail, we could pay for that right River? And if not, you’ll get the share that you come out of the bank with. It’s fair, don’t you think? You get what you got.” Clark said. He looked at River then, and waited for an answer.
He was afraid that some of the guys would get caught, or worse: killed.
In his months there, he had become close with most of the crew members. He didn’t want to lose any of them.
But Clark and the others had chosen to lead this kind of life, and because of it, they would have to pay a price.
The frown on most of the men’s faces told Clark that they were thinking the same thing as him.
There were over thirty people in the room. There were about twenty-seven men there, including Clark, and five girls, including River.
Clark wasn’t even as close to the people at school as he was with The Strikes.
The thought of Ohio and everyone that meant something to him hit him hard. He hadn’t meant to think about them, but he had.
And he knew that was a mistake.
Every time he thought about them, the more he wanted out of The Strikes. But they were his family too, and they needed him.
There lives were at stake here.
“You all right there Scout?” River asked Clark, when she saw the shadow cross his face.
Even when he didn’t have a smile on his face, Clark was too handsome and sweet for his own good.
And whenever his dark side would come out, River would feel a new ounce of attraction and admiration towards him.
He was only eighteen, and she twenty-four, but she still thought him handsome; any woman would.
She would never start any kind of romantic relationship with him; he was like the kid brother that she had lost eight years ago to her.
Clark nodded somberly in response.
The crew had given him the nickname “Scout” because he was such a good kid that always wanted to do the right thing.
They still didn’t understand what a good kid like him was doing with criminals like themselves. If any of them were able to choose to be like someone and have their kind of life, they would have chosen to have a life like Clark’s when he was back in Ohio.
They all knew his story of being heartbroken and even Lilly Ferguson, a pretty redhead in the group who was a year older than Clark, offered to “take care” of Zoe for him.
He had just laughed and said no. He would never want to cause heartbreak in her life on purpose.
“There will only have to be eight guys to go into the bank all right? It’s a big bank, and there are no girls allowed to go on this one ok?” she said as she looked at Lilly and her twin sister Cassia, and Brooke and a small girl named Star who reminded him so much of his little sister Peyton.
Since they weren’t needed, they said their goodbyes to the rest of them and left together so that they could go get something to eat.
“When are we going to the bank?” Sinbad asked. Sinbad was the kind of guy that Clark would never want to get into a scuffle with.
He was large and bald, with tattoos that covered up both of his arms. He was at least thirty years old, and had been sent to prison so many times that he himself had lost count. Sinbad was 7’2 in height, and because of his appearance and the tattoos of red teardrops on his face, he was feared in prison, in the streets, and everywhere else he went.
“In twenty days. Clark, do you think you will be able to come?” River asked him.
He ran his hand through his hair and thought.
“Twenty days?” Clark asked, still trying to figure out whether he could do it or not.
River nodded.
He was quiet for at least another full minute, until River held up her hand and said, “You can think about it. Just have an answer for me ten days before we go.”
“Who else will be going?” Sinbad asked in his deep voice.
“I’ll have that answer for you in a few days. My new partner, Braylon, and I will scout out the bank before we do anything rational. You can all leave now.” And with a wave of her hand, River walked off with a man that looked unfamiliar to all.
Clark just stood there for a minute before he left.
He had been in Michigan for three days now, but he didn’t want to go home. He didn’t want anything else to do with Ohio.
In every corner there was a memory placed there for him.
But he knew he had to go back.
He had to finish high school. He didn’t want to be with The Strikes for the rest of his life. For him, it was just temporary. He was only going to be involved with them until he graduated high school and moved out of the state of Ohio for good.
As Clark walked to his Impala, he sighed.
He was going to have a long drive home.
He had thought about going to a motel to stay there for the night, but he knew that wouldn’t be right because he knew for a fact that he had to go home.
“Ring, Ring, Ring,” the annoying squeaky voice he had set as Arianna’s ringtone went off.
He grabbed his phone out of his pocket and stared at the screen.
Should I answer it? He thought in his head.
He let his heart decide.
“Hello?” he asked, anxious to hear what she was going to say to him.
He had been gone for three long agonizing days. He wasn’t expecting a pleasant hello, and he didn’t get it.
“Really, you’re saying hello? What’re you, some kind of idiot?” Arianna said sourly on her end.
Arianna had been pacing back in forth in his loft, deciding whether or not to call him. Every time she would call or leave a voicemail or a text message, they would all go unanswered.
For a minute, she looked into the telescope and stared out into the galaxy.
What she wouldn’t do to be out there right now…
But even staring out at such a breathtaking sight, she couldn’t stop thinking about her best friend. She was sick and tired of worrying about him. She didn’t even know if he was still alive and that killed her.
She flipped open her phone, and speed-dialed Clark’s number.
She was astonished to hear his greeting.
In spite of her bitter tone, Clark laughed.
Arianna’s heart jumped at the sound of his cackle.
“Why are you laughing Clark? Damn, you have no idea how pissed off everyone here at the farm are, including me.”
Clark stopped laughing and said, “I understand. But I’m coming home.”
Arianna slightly shook her head. If someone had seen her, they would have thought that she had water in her ear, and she was shaking her head to get it out.
“You’re what?”
“I’m coming home.”
“Because I want to and I need to. I can’t be away from you and my family for much longer.” Clark said honestly. He was missing them to death.
“Can you tell me where you are?” Arianna asked, hopeful that he would give her an answer.
“No.” he said as though it were obvious.
“Are you hurt?”
“No.” he repeated.
“Are you almost here?”
“Can you stop saying no and give me a straight answer? I think I deserve that much since the morning I found you and your car gone.”
That hit him hard.
“What do you want to know Ari?”
“I want to know what you have been doing. Where you have been going, and who you been with.”
“I’m sorry, but I can’t tell you anything other than I’m not that far from Ohio.”
“Are you driving?”
“No shit Sherlock.”
“No, I mean, are you driving right now?”
Clark pressed his foot on the gas peddle, and his car shot forward even more. Hearing Arianna’s voice was making him want to go home faster.
Every time he ignored Arianna’s calls and message’s, he felt so guilty. But if he had heard any of their voices, he knew he would have gone home in a heartbeat. That was the last thing he wanted to do.
“Yeah, I’m about twelve hours away though.” Clark said honestly. When he saw the McDonald’s down the road, he drove faster.
His stomach was growling. He hadn’t eaten anything since the night before. He was starving, and was abnormally dehydrated.
“Ari, hold up.” Clark said as he pulled up into the drive-through.
“Welcome to McDonalds. May I take your order?” was all that Arianna heard. She smiled. She could picture him sitting in the driver’s seat with his hand under his chin as his blue eyes scanned the menu.
“Yeah, can I have a two Hot’N’Spicy’s with extra mayo, one large fry, and a large sweet tea?”
“Two Hot’N’Spicy’s with extra mayonnaise, one large fry, and a large sweet tea?” the lady said through the speaker.
The lady gave him his price, and ordered him to drive up to the window.
“Wow, really Clark? You are such a pig.” Arianna said with a laugh.
“I know.” Clark said with a laugh. He was still smiling when he drove up to the window to pay, and when the girl at the window saw him, she stopped.
Whoa, she said, almost in a moan.
Arianna heard her and began to laugh. She was used to girl’s reactions being that way towards her best friend.
“You already have a fan.” Arianna said with a grin.
“I suppose so.” Clark said with another laugh as the girl handed him his food and drink with shaky hands.
“Have a nice day.” She said shyly.
“You have a nice day too beautiful.” Clark said with his charming smile as he drove off.
Arianna knew what kind of affect that would have on that innocent girl, because he had done the same thing to her plenty of times without even knowing it.
He would give a compliment, and wonder why the girl’s faces turned red after he said it. He seriously thought that his compliments angered them, when it had the exact opposite affect on them.
“Should I tell your family that you’re coming home?” Arianna asked as she sat down on the couch in front of the open space that was supposed to be the window in the loft. She was staring out at the sky again.
Clark hesitated before he answered and said, “If you want to.”
“I want to know whether you want to surprise them Clark. But I think it would be best that I tell them. We have all been thinking that you died somewhere and that’s why you were not answering your phone to any of us. Has anyone from school called?”
He knew who she meant without saying her name. She didn’t mean just anyone. She meant Zoe. He sighed heavily and muttered, “No.”
“Well I guess I’ll tell them. They deserve to know. When do you think you will be back?”
“I’m not sure. I just hope that I won’t have to go through traffic, but I doubt that I wouldn’t. So, I really don’t know. I guess I’ll call you when I’m back in town.”
“Ok. That’s fair. See you soon Clark.”
Before either of them hung up, Arianna said,
“I love you.” And with that, she hung up.
Clark kept the phone to his ear. Had he heard her right, or was he imagining the desire in her words?
“Don’t be a fool Clark. You’re just best friends.” Clark reminded himself.
While Clark put his phone in his glove compartment, a piece of paper fell to the ground.
When he had finally stopped at a red light, he quickly pulled it off the ground and unfolded it.
It was Caden’s number.
He had forgotten all about her.
How did he forget such a beautiful face?
He had forgotten that he had told her that he would call her and maybe stop by to see her on his way to Ohio, but after talking to Arianna, he knew that his visit to the beautiful red haired girl would have to wait.
His best friend and his family had to come first this time.
He had to get back to them before they fully learned to despise him.
Back at the Queen Farm, Arianna walked into the living room and sat on the black leather couch.
The room was so cozy with its beautiful natured paintings, and its dimmed lights.
Peyton was in the corner in the room lying on her stomach while she flipped through pages of her paperwork, and her books.
She was so deep in thought that she hadn’t noticed that she had her pencil clenched tightly between her teeth.
“I called Clark,” Arianna announced as she stared down at her hands. She looked up quickly to find all three pair of eyes fixed on her.
“He answered,” she said.
“What did he say?” Julie Anne asked while getting up and stood next to her husband who had been eating a sandwich but stopped when he heard Arianna’s declaration of talking to his son.
Julie Anne squeezed her husband’s hand and smiled at him with tears in her eyes.
“He said that he was about twelve hours away. It could be more since traffic and everything.”
“Did he tell you where he’s been?” Peyton asked, looking up from her notes. The pencil had fell from her mouth when she spoke, and she lifted it back up and bit on it as she looked up at Arianna.
“No. He just said that he’s not too far from Ohio.”
“I swear he has got to make up his mind. Either he wants to stay, or he wants to stay gone. He’s really getting on my nerves.” Peyton said as she looked back down at her journal and began to write roughly.
Everyone but her father had gotten quiet from her words.
“If he didn’t love us, he wouldn’t bother coming back.”
“Yeah, but if he really did love us, he wouldn’t keep leaving the way he does. He would just stay his ass here with his family and his best friend and not hurt us the way he does.”
“He’s hurting Peyton. He has a memory with Zoe in every corner of this town. I wouldn’t blame him for not wanting to be here.” Arianna said, sticking up for her best friend.
“I honestly don’t care. Every one gets their heart broken. He needs to be able to deal with it and move on.”
“He got his heart stomped on in a terrible way darling. I hate what that girl has done to him. He loved her so much, and she turned her back on him. How would you feel if Wesley cheated on you?” Julie Anne asked her daughter.
Peyton was standing up now, “Wesley is not like that! He’s a good person!” she shouted.
“Clark thought the same thing about Zoe, but he was wrong.” Terrance said as he stood up next to his wife.
“It’s funny how wrong you can be about a person…” Arianna said in a sad and low murmur.
“Every one just needs to calm down. We don’t want to run Clark off when he gets home.” Julie Anne said.
She couldn’t endure his departing any longer. She only had three months left with her son until he graduated, and she was absolutely sure that he would leave Ohio for sure.
Just the thought of Clark no longer sleeping under the same roof as her broke Julie Anne’s heart. The Queens had so many good memories together that the way Clark was acting was still strange to her.
She understood that her son was heartbroken, she truly did, but the way he was going about it was unacceptable.
Deep down, she knew that she agreed with her daughter. Every one did get their heart broken. It was bound to happen in everyone’s lives. It had happened to her, and she wasn’t ashamed to admit it to herself.
But Clark did have to step up and take control of his life. Just because a girl had broken his heart did not give him the right to keep leaving, especially out of town on school days.
He had a long way to go before he truly matured. And as she thought more and more about it, Clark was acting very immature for an eighteen year old.
He had to realize that he wasn’t alone. He had family and friends that were always there for him. And he also had a girl that was clearly in love with him, but they were both too blind to see it.
Arianna didn’t even understand her feelings for Clark.
“Who cares if he leaves? Let him go! He’s going to do it anyway. Can’t you understand that? He’s always going to run away.” Peyton was getting so furious with the conversation that her face was getting beet red. She looked like a time bomb set to explode.
“He’s still your brother Peyton! Don’t talk about him like that.” Terrance shouted. Terrance barely ever lost his temper with his children, but Peyton was pushing him and he was getting very close to the edge.
“You’re kidding me right? Why do you keep defending him? Yeah, he’s your son and you love him. But seriously dad, how could you stand there and think that he’s never going to leave again? Don’t be surprised that he will be out of here right after he graduates. And no one’s going to be able to stop him.”
“But what if he sticks around? What if he changes his mind?” Arianna already knew the answer to that, and now hearing her own words, they sounded ridiculous.
They all knew that he would never change his mind about leaving Ohio.
He was going to leave his friends behind.
He was going to leave his home behind.
He was going to leave his family behind.
And even though she didn’t want to believe it, he was going to leave her behind with everything and everyone else.
“No, that won’t happen. You know what? I’m through with this talk about Clark. When you all realize that he only cares for himself, come find me and I will personally tell you that I told you so.” Peyton said harshly as she ran upstairs, leaving every one else to their thoughts.
Julie Anne held her head in her hands as she cried, and Terrance wrapped his arms around his sobbing wife. The sound of her tears ruptured his heart and soul.
She wanted to walk over to them and give them comfort, but she knew that it would be ineffective.
They were riding an emotional rollercoaster together, while she was riding one of her own.
She walked out of the living room, to the door, and closed it gently behind her.
She walked to the barn, and into the loft. When she got there, she remained standing for an instant. So much was running through her mind that she found it to be extremely excruciating.
Arianna went through some of Clark’s shirts that he left on the shelf, and put it on.
Afterwards, she lied down on the couch and shut her eyes for a few seconds. And before she knew it, her world was hurled into the profundity of obscurity.


“Arianna, wake up.” Arianna found herself being shaken in the middle of the night. With her intuition, she stretched her hand out, and when she felt the warm breath on it, she united her fist into the face of the soft fleshed intruder.
“It’s me, Clark! Calm down! Damn, I never thought you hit that hard.”
Arianna blinked her eyes furiously and said, “Clark? What the hell are you doing creeping on me like that?”
Her face was only an inch away from his and if she just leaned in and filled the gap, her lips would be united with…
The thought of them kissing made her face flush.
Thank goodness it’s dark, Arianna thought in her mind.
They must have been having the same extent of thoughts because Clark quickly pulled away, and left Arianna cold.
“What time is it?” Arianna asked. It was too dark to look at her watch.
“I think five.”
“Do you mean five o’clock in the morning?!” Arianna asked, bewildered. She scrambled up off the couch, and reached out into the darkness.
Her hand collided with Clark’s buffed chest, and her face reddened again.
She remembered the last time she had seen him bare chested…
She shook her head, and told herself to quit. He’s your best friend, you perverted girl. Arianna reminded herself. Plus, you are angry with him.
Remembering her anger, she turned around abruptly. She collided into him again, and she must have bumped into him a little too hard because she heard the sound of things crashing in front of her.
Regardless of her infuriating feelings towards the dark and handsome boy who she could not see at the moment, the sound of his grunt of his downfall made her chortle.
She heard nothing but a large amount of curse words as she heard him struggle to clamber back up.
“That’s so not funny Ari,” Clark said as she heard him get to his feet.
Despite his annoyed voice with her, she kept laughing.
She depicted his tumble over and over in her head. Although she didn’t see what happened, just knowing the fact that she had caused it and that it happened in pitch black, made it even funnier.
Even though he was somewhat annoyed with the reality of his falling, he laughed along with his best friend.
But when she let out a pig laugh, he laughed even more.
“God, I missed you.” Clark said with a smile that Arianna could feel throughout the entire loft.
“I missed you too. Where are you?” Arianna said as she tried adjusting her eyesight to the darkness.
“I think I’m standing in front of you. Hold on, let me find the lamp,” he said as he rummaged around the loft in an effort to find light.
“There,” he said the moment the light of the lamp was on.
What Arianna saw in front of her made her giggle. The table was tipped over onto its side, and everything that was once on it was all piled on the floor.
She saw the two picture frames along with the mess, but they weren’t broken.
Arianna’s black hair was tousled in a soft wavy heap that made her look comfortable and absolutely adorable. She was wearing one of his large black and red plaid shirts that reached her knees, and her feet were bare.
Clark was wearing a black shirt and regular blue jeans. His black hair had gotten a little thicker, and his black boots were stained with dried out mud. His baby blues were bloodshot from driving, but he wasn’t tired. He wasn’t going to miss another day of school just because he looked high.
They each looked at each other from head to foot before Arianna said, “So, now are you going to tell me where you have been?”
The smile that was on Clark’s face a second ago disappeared. That was the second that Arianna knew that it was too soon to ask.
“Never mind, you can tell me on your own time.” Arianna said with a subtle smile.
Arianna sat down on the couch, and patted the cushion beside the one she was sitting on.
Clark sat down, and grinned at her.
“You’re really beautiful you know that? Barely any girl could pull off that sleepy look.” He said as he ruffled her long black hair with his large strong hand.
“Thank you handsome. You don’t look too bad yourself.”
“Oh stop it,” Clark said with a gentle wield of his hand, and a delightful smirk on his dark face.
They laughed at this, and then after a moment Arianna asked, “How have you been? You never answered any of my calls.”
Clark entwined his hands together, and began to twiddle his thumbs.
“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely.
“For what?” she asked, wanting to hear more. She was justified to be offered an even greater apology.
Clark kept twiddling his thumbs and never looked up at her.
“I’m sorry for not answering your calls, or your text messages. I’m sorry that I ignored you and everyone else that I left behind here.”
Clark’s tenor of words made her rest her hand on his twiddling fingers.
He looked up at her with his bright blue eyes, and Arianna almost got lost into them but she looked away. So instead, she looked down at his hands and rubbed her own thumb against the soft flesh of his hands.
“You’re going through a hard time Clark. I understand that. I just wish you could take me along with you just once.”
“You wouldn’t want that Arianna.”
Arianna looked into his baby blues and asked, “Why not?”
“Because where I go is too dangerous for you to handle. I’ve already told you that before at the lake.”
Arianna looked back onto their past conversations, and remembered the conversation they had about him not trusting her anymore. He had told her that where he went was too dangerous for her. But what did he mean by that? What was so dangerous that he held her at arms length?
“Explain to me how it’s too dangerous.” Arianna said in a soft voice so that she wouldn’t anger him. It was outlandish that she had to watch her words around him.
He was her best friend. They could talk about anything couldn’t they? No, they couldn’t any longer. They couldn’t talk about things that they used to talk about in the past. He was a changed man now. He was a man that was angry at the world. He was a man whose heart was shattered.
“It just is Arianna. Please, I don’t want to talk about this with you right now.”
“Fine, ok. I’m sorry for bringing it up.”
Clark heaved out a heavy sigh.
“I’m sorry; I’m not trying to make things worse between us. It’s just that…” he didn’t know how to say the words, but he was going to try, so he said, “I’m just trying to protect you. I don’t want you closer to the person that I have become. Whenever I’m out there doing what I want to do, I feel freedom. Here in Ohio, I feel trapped by reminiscence’s. I can’t even be here in this loft without feeling suffocated by memories.” He was almost on the threshold of tears, but he wasn’t going to let weakness get a hold of him. He had to be stronger if he wanted to survive in the world he was now involved in.
Arianna shook her head as she absorbed his words. She had to follow the depth of his words, and if she didn’t, she would be lost in them; trying to figure out just what he was hiding from her.
“The thing that really worries me Clark is that you seem as though you have the world resting on your shoulders. You try to hold it up, but it keeps weighing you down. You have to fight it Clark. For your own sake, you have to win.”
“You think I don’t know that? It’s going to take time for me to win.” Clark said as he stood up. He had to take a shower. He felt dirty and disgusting.
“I’m going to go inside and take a shower. Are you going to take a nap, or are you going to get dressed for school?” he asked as he looked down at her.
Arianna looked back up at him, and pouted out her lip. Clark laughed.
“I want to take a nap, but I think I’m going to have to get ready early. I want to spend as much time with you as possible.” Arianna said as she reached her hand out, and Clark took it to pull her up.
“Thank you.” She said with a giggle.
She loved having him back.
“Don’t take too long in that shower Clark.” Arianna said as she walked down the steps of the loft, and back onto the dirt of the barn.
Her life felt whole again. With Clark around, she had nothing to complain about. Besides their little fights and his trust in her slowly fading, she was happy when near him.
No person had ever made her feel that way. Not even her own parents could make her as happy as Clark did.
Arianna thought about her parents as she walked to the house.
Her father didn’t love her enough to go out looking for her; let alone call her.
And her mother had walked out on her without even saying goodbye.
Tears were begging to surge out, but she wouldn’t let them. She finally had Clark back, and she wasn’t going to let any other thoughts ruin her time with him.
Arianna quietly opened Peyton’s bedroom and stepped in with light steps.
“Is he back?”
Arianna stopped and looked around the empty bedroom.
“Yes,” she answered to Peyton.
“Where is he?”
“I saw him in the barn. He said he’s going to take a shower.”
“What makes you think he won’t just leave again?”
“Because he said he wouldn’t.” Arianna answered. She was getting tired of Peyton putting Clark down all the time.
She understood that she was angry with him, and deep down, Arianna was too, but he was back and nothing was going to spoil it for her.
Not even Peyton Queens words.
“And you believed him?” Peyton said harshly. Arianna heard movement now, and before she knew it, the light to the bedroom was on.
Peyton still had her finger on the switch, and was staring at her with red eyes.
“Oh my God, Peyton,” Arianna said as she walked towards Peyton and stopped in front of her to gently life her face up with her hand and look at it.
From the look of them, anyone could tell that she had been crying.
Her nose was still red.
“Have you been crying?” Arianna asked as she removed her hand from underneath Peyton’s chin.
“No.” she said as she sidestepped past Arianna and walked into the bathroom.
The bathroom was a mess with the straightners’, curlers, and make-up thrown all around the counter. And on the floor, were Peyton’s clothes from the previous day.
But that wasn’t the only thing that caught her attention about Peyton’s clothes.
On her long sleeve right shirt, there were stains of red on the part that covered the wrists.
Arianna walked past Peyton who was standing in front of the mirror, putting eyeliner on when Arianna picked up the shirt and stared at it.
Peyton stopped what she was doing and watched Arianna as she tried to figure out what the red stains were.
Arianna already had an idea of what it was, but she tried to find some other kind of explanation.
Had Peyton accidentally place her wrists on ketchup, and that’s where the stains were from?
Was it marker, paint, tomatoes?
Arianna lifted her slowly up to look at Peyton who was still staring at her with a pale face.
Although she tried covering up her discontinue of lightly painting her face with make-up, Arianna saw the slashes that were on Peyton’s wrist.
She quickly dropped the shirt, and grabbed Peyton’s arms and stared at the marks.
She looked up at Peyton again. Her face had turned even paler.
Peyton derived her arm out of the grasp of Arianna’s.
She hadn’t meant to do what she had done, but something took over her mind the night before.
She was so angry and hurt because of her brother, that she had taken it out on herself.
Peyton didn’t understand why none of them would listen to her. All they cared and talked about was Clark. He was just the golden child running down the wrong path.
She was the one staying home and going to school every single day. She was the one making all the A’s, while her brother was out there doing who knows what.
For all she knew, he could be killing people when he left.
But Peyton had just laughed to herself when she thought of that. Clark was no Michael Myers. He was a kind hearted boy who had just gotten with the wrong girl.
Peyton had been watching the news with her family, and every night, they would say something about a group of robbers called “The Strikes”.
The Strikes were a group of robbers that the cops couldn’t seize.
All they knew was that The Strikes were originated in Holland, Michigan.
They always clobber, but another odd thing about them was that whenever they clouted huge banks, Clark would be missing.
Peyton had even thought the possibility that Clark was involved with them.
But just imagining Clark in a ski mask was absurd.
He would never steal from others.
Or would he?
Peyton wasn’t close enough to Clark to know those kinds of details about him.
And every time Clark was gone, Peyton would regret not being close to her big brother.
But if she had, she would have been hurt more by his disappearances.
Since her parents and Arianna were oh so close to him, they were slowly breaking.
And despite her not so close relations with him, she was breaking too.
“What the hell are these Peyton?” Arianna asked as she lifted Peyton’s arm back up so that they could both examine the cuts on her arms.
“They’re none of your business!” she shouted. Peyton was tired of shouting at Arianna and her family, but they have been just getting on her nerves lately. Her business was her business.
“Well, if you’re going to be hurting yourself, I think it should be my business.” Arianna said in such an angry voice that it had frightened the hell out of Peyton.
“Why do you even care?”
“Why do I care? I can’t believe you just asked me that,”
“You didn’t answer my question Aria.” Peyton pointed out. She continued doing her make-up and slipped past Arianna to go into her bedroom and put on her clothes that she had gathered together the night before for school.
“You’re like my little sister Peyton.” Arianna said as she went to her own drawer and pulled out clothes.
She was planning on wearing a white cropped shirt with the design of “Superman” on the front, her white Toms, and light blue skinny jeans.
“I know.” Peyton said as she put her clothes on.
She wasn’t planning on her morning turning out that way. But she was kind of glad that Arianna had been the first to know before anyone else in her family did.
She was going to make sure to keep the cuts hidden until they disappeared.
“Can you promise me something then?” Arianna asked in a somber voice as she put her jeans on, and afterwards her shoes.
“It depends on what the promise is,” Peyton said, now fully dressed.
She was wearing a blue shirt with “Aqua Man” on the front, and she laughed when she saw that Arianna was also wearing a super hero shirt.
Of course it was the one of Clark Kent.
“Can you promise me to never do it again?”


Tag der Veröffentlichung: 06.01.2012

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