5. Roxie

I don’t know how she does it. Every time! 

Even in a rainstorm I am the one who falls over, nearly breaking an ankle, whilst Kate gets the hottest man on earth drooling over her.

She’s playing it down, but Cherry and I could see enough from the window. Huddled together on the window seat we squinted through the curtain of rain as he approached. When he got closer, clearly whispering into her ear I was deafened by Cherry squealing “Oh my god I think he’s going to kiss her!”

I didn’t squeal. I watched silently, knowing exactly what I would have done. Kate merely played it cute, taking his jacket. I’d have suggested heading inside to take my wet clothes off. The way she insisted she had no interest in him was infuriating. Of course she does!

I know I’m attractive, my eyes are a stunning blue-grey paired with luscious long black hair. We’re a similar shape, both having curves in the right places and wide friendly smiles so why not me? 

When I finally got a proper look at him in the bus queue, I lost my breath the same as every other girl. He is just sex on legs. That dark hair and eyes paired with a sculpted body, powerful arms. Almost devilish in appearance, as if you know he would treat you mean but you’d beg for more anyway.

Yet it was Kate under the arch finding him. Not me.

I tried putting my hand on my hip and pouting a little as he walked by, but his eyes were stuck on Kate. She didn’t even look back at him! First my exam went to shit and now I’m watching my best friend lap up the attention all over again.

It was the same when we were little. I would have all these amazing ideas, be so creative and adventurous only to be reprimanded. Kate would do something similar and be rewarded. She makes a waterfall, top marks. I made a soda pop and mint volcano and got detention for drenching the classroom. 

Story of my life.

During the hike I tried to shift my anger, tried focus on Felix. He was a handsome, muscular guy. Almost like a practice run for when I get my chance to talk to Alpha Dex. I make him pay attention to me. It was working too. /See, people like you just as you are/ Bree, my wolf says patronisingly.

Felix held my hand, laughed at my flirty little screams. We were getting somewhere, I know it. Hauling myself up the orange and red dusty rocks, “Kate should have been doing this” bitterly growled out of me. I could have been making out with Felix whilst we waited for her. 

Running my hands over those huge muscles of his. I’m not sex-crazed but I’m not wasting a year of my life being a good girl like Kate. Life is for living. For taking whatever you can because the world will give you nothing.

Reaching a rocky plateau, I stood panting, scorched by the sun overhead. Caves and cliffs at the rear but a clear view over the treetops. Success for me, finally. But then I looked down. 

There was Kate with her hand on his shoulder, Felix looking up at her with those twinkly green eyes like she was a goddess. “Every fucking time Bree, why?” I complained to my wolf under my breath.

/Look she’s moved away now, nothing is going on/ my calming, gentle wolf replied. Bree puts up with a lot of complaining from me I’ll admit. 

I assess the horizon, finally spotting the white and terracotta outline of the compound. At least we weren’t too lost, we just needed to keep heading east.

It was then I noticed one of the cave entrances. It was a narrow dark slit, just wide enough for a person. It’s not like I go into caves very often, but this was different. The black rocks inside seemed to twinkle like stars. I’ve never seen anything like it. “ROXIE” Kate shouted and that made up my mind.

“You can fucking wait Kate,” I whispered under my breath as I examined the glimmering cave. Peeping my head inside I realised only the opening was slim. Wriggling myself through the gap it opened out into a spacious, cool cavern. Like being underneath a midnight sky the darkness and twinkling rocks were beautiful. The searing heat and light of the day vanished, replaced by cold, soothing blackness. It was captivating.

/We should leave. Something is wrong/ Bree whimpered but I ignored her. It was just too pretty. I felt around on the floor wondering if there was a loose shiny stone I could keep and take back when a voice rumbled out of the darkness.

“Hello Roxana,” a deep grumbling tone echoed.

“What the hell!” scrambling to my feet and trying to wriggle back out of the cave. It’s not like my tits and hips got bigger, but somehow I end up wedged and stuck. “This isn’t happening!” I panicked, flailing around. Had the cave entrance somehow shrunk!

The rumbling voice spoke again, “Don’t struggle. I think we can help each other. We both want out of this cave. Let me help you.”

/Ignore this creature/ Bree begged, whirling in my mind with panic. The cave walls shook with the deepness, cutting into me.

“Who are you, I can’t see anything?”

“I’m a sprit. You give me something, I reward you.”

“What do you want?”

“I need…a tribute, a vessel to work through.”

Shit it’s a fucking demon! Struggling even more against the cave wall my breath shortens as the walls seem to clamp me even tighter into place.  The twinkling backdrop now resembled thousands of shiny eyes, all staring coldly at me as I fight against an invisible opponent.

“Don’t be like all the rest, see this for the opportunity it is,” I don’t know how but its voice became smoother, mellow. “I am not going to hurt you. I would grow as you grew.”

“As I grow?”

“Say for example you want to do very well on your next exam. I can make that happen for you, I just need a tribute.” Although my first thought was, how does he know about my exams, the second thought was curious to know how it could make that happen.

“That’s the bit that scares me,” I hissed back, giving up my thrashing, wincing at my raw arms, ravaged by the sharp cave walls.

“You choose someone, anyone you like, and I just…make some adjustments to the weighing scales of life. It’s all up to you. You need never wish for a thing if you prefer. Keep being second best.”

“ROXIE!!” Kate’s voice echoed through the cave once more. Bree urged me to shout for help but then once again Kate would have to save me. Perfect Kate.

/Don’t listen to it/ Bree whispered edgily.

“They wouldn’t get hurt?” I asked softly.

“You’re in control Roxana, I would be your servant. Look at me I’m so small and bound in this cave along with you.”

I felt a wetness in my hand as I brought it up to my face, I saw a black, oily gloop sat in my palm. As dark as my raven hair, no bigger than a hamster it sat, quivering coldly in my grasp. So small, I could throw it and splat it into a wall if I wanted and yet, I didn’t.

“I’m in control?”

“Of course dear Roxana,” the spirit urged, the walls still shuddering with the bass voice.

“Say I wanted to ace my next test…and I offered Kate as the tribute…”

“She would just not do as well as you that’s all. You would win for a change.”

/He’s just pushing your buttons/ Bree growled, begging me to just scream for help, to get Felix to smash some rocks and free me. The heat of the sun blazed on my one free leg yet the rest of me was twisted inside this black hole. 

A one-time experiment just to help me on an exam Kate would do fine in any way?

Why not. Like he said, tip the scales my way for a change.

“What do I need to do?”

“You say my name and your tributes together,” making it sound so easy. Such a heavy dense noise coming from such a little oily gloop. “My name is Berlarot”, the very walls of the cave seeming to tremble with unseen power.

“Berlarot…Kate, Berlarot…” pausing as I wondered what I was hoping to achieve with this. Survival right now, to get the hell out of this cave. Just one time. A little test.

“…Kate” I said as my wolf hissed away at me in anger. /Fool, you’re a silly fool to do this! / Bree snapped. Well you know what, I’ve had enough of being told to calm down by my wolf, by Kate, by everyone who thinks I am just her tag-along friend.

“Berlarot, I want to succeed in my next exam. Kate is my tribute.”

“As you wish my Queen,” as I found myself falling out of the cave and into the strong arms of Felix and the blinding sun.

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