Monday, January 16, 2012

Chapter 2: Sleeping with the Enemy

Week 1 - Monday, Eliza

The girls' house had a rough night - myself, in particular. The rest were lucky enough to crash from exhaustion around 3:00 AM, but I was awake all night. I couldn't stop thinking about the notes we had all found on our beds. What exactly did the author mean by killing us off?

The scariest part was knowing that any one of the girls in the room with me could have been the author.

I didn't know who to trust, didn't know who I could talk to. I wanted to tell Devon how nervous I felt, but...

No. I couldn't think like that. Devon was not the author. He couldn't be...

But everyone here was still a suspect. Except myself. I knew that I didn't write it, but that was about it. Sure, the other girls swore they didn't write it as well, but we were all thinking the same thing: Someone has to be lying.


I didn't get a wink of sleep. There were too many thoughts racing through my mind... I kept trying to fit the pieces together, but nothing seemed right.

I drank five cups of strawberry-and-caramel frappechinos the next morning, desperate to keep my eyes open. Today was the big day: the day we found out our first challenge.

While I was slumped into my chair at the dining table, sipping searing-hot coffee, someone rapped their fist on the door.

Marisol jumped up and ran to get it. I wished there was a window instead of a painting next to the table, so I could see what was happening.

"A conference?" Marisol asked. There was a brief pause, and a low murmur of a guy's voice. "All right. I'll tell the rest, and we'll be there in ten."

"What's going on?" I inquired when she returned.

Marisol cleared her throat to get Maddie and Blair's attention, who were robotically scooping chunks of blueberry waffles into their mouths. They jolted out of their sleepy haze, suddenly alert and interested. "The guys are calling a conference," Marisol explained. "About these notes."

Maddie and Blair slowly put down their forks.

"Well, let's go then," Blair said quietly. Suddenly, the house was alive with girls putting the finishing touches on their makeup and getting on shoes.

I sat down on the couch, my head spinning from the buzz of the coffee.

Maddie and Marisol burst out of the bathroom, lip gloss applied and blush shimmering in the light. Marisol pulled me up from the couch. "Let's go!" Blair hurried down from upstairs, finally changed into her clothes. "All right. I'm ready now." I tugged on my wedges, and we burst out the door in a clump.

The guys had beat us to the patio, and they'd already begun the conference. Devon was yelling something about evidence while Sebastian held Derrick back. Cyrus watched with a slightly amused look on his face.

I could tell that this conference wouldn't end well.

Sebastian was the first to spot us coming. "God, you took forever  to get out here! Devon said you were almost ready when he notified you."

I should have been the one to answer the door. I still needed to apologize for giving him the cold shoulder while trying to sort out personal stuff. The worst part was that there hadn't been any legit personal stuff to sort out...

"Sorry. We said ten minutes," Maddie said icily. "But nevermind that. What's going on here?"

"Devon wrote the note!" Derrick yelled, trying to struggle out of Sebastian's grip.

"Dude! I was there with you when we found the notes!" Devon countered.

"Well, you didn't seem overly surprised to see them!" Derrick scoffed.

Sebastian tightened his grip. "He was drunk, man! What did you expect?"

"Look, do any of you have any actual proof  that he wrote it?" Blair inquired, strangely calm while the rest of us were bristling with suspicion.

Derrick shook Sebastian off him and stepped towards us. "Well, come and join the conference, and we'll tell you."

I looked around at the other girls, whose eyes all revealed the same thought: They have proof?

Maddie took a deep breath and nodded. We slowly migrated to the patio.

No. It couldn't have been Devon. Not him, anyone but him...

"We found the document open on Devon's account. He left the computer signed in to his name," Derrick announced, glaring at Devon.

"That's not proof!" Devon snarled, lunging at Derrick. Sebastian leaped between them and pushed them apart.

"He's right," Sebastian said. "How do we know his account wasn't hacked? How do we know he wasn't framed?"

"Thank you, Sebastian!" Devon huffed. "That's what I've been trying to say! You don't have any real evidence."

Derrick snorted. "This is about the most real proof we've had so far."

"Will the both of you just shut up?" Cyrus complained. "There's no use fighting amongst ourselves. We're not getting anywhere, and in case you haven't noticed, we haven't heard a word from the girls."

I cleared my throat and stepped forward. "I don't know who has done this, but things will be a whole lot easier if someone would just confess."

Sebastian shook his head hopelessly. "No one's just going to come out and say they wrote the notes. We're going to have to figure this out for ourselves."

"Blair, Maddie, Marisol," Derrick said coldly. "You three have been awfully quiet. What do you have to say?"

Blair shuffled her feet. "Well, um, I know that I didn't write it, but that's about it. I know you're not going to believe me until we find out who actually did it... But it's the truth."

"Ditto what she said," Maddie said. "Didn't write it, don't know who did. But I'd really like to know who so I can whack them with my tennis racket..." She grinned devilishly.

The guys looked a bit taken aback. I chuckled quietly to myself; Maddie might be my annoying stepsister, but she whipped out her dark humor at the most odd times. It made the situation feel a little less tense. Just a little.

"And you, Marisol?" Sebastian asked.

"Well, I think that we should stop worrying so much about this and just get on with our lives!" Marisol said quickly.

The group was quiet. Cyrus raised an eyebrow. "So eager to forget about the incident, huh, Marisol?"

Marisol gulped and looked away.


"That's it, this is hopeless," Devon concluded, throwing his hands up in the air. "This conference is going absolutely nowhere. I'm going for a jog."

I hesitated a moment, but I knew I had to follow him. I had to apologize for the way I had acted yesterday... He had to know why I had been acting so strange. Most of all, I needed to know if he wrote the notes.

I took off.

"Eliza-" Blair shrieked.

"I'll be back in a minute!" I yelled.

Devon ran down the middle of the street, not the least bit concerned about being hit by a car. There I was, chasing him down again.

I sprinted as fast as I could, half asleep and staggering along in my wedges. The straps sliced into my ankles, and my toes throbbed with pain. Jesus, why did I wear heels today?

Devon didn't get far before he stopped abruptly. "I know you're following me, Eliza."

I caught up to him and ripped my heels off, throwing them onto the sidewalk. "I have to know," I panted. "Did you write the notes?"

"What do you think." It wasn't a question, it was an answer.

Thank God.  I let out a long breath.

"Did you?" Devon asked quietly.

"Of course not! I'm not one to stir up drama."

Devon stepped closer to me. "Then why did you follow me? There's another reason you're here, Eliza, and I know it."

My heartbeat quickened. Suddenly, it all just burst out of me. "I need to apologize for the way I acted yesterday! I mean, you're probably all confused because I was so friendly at first, but then you went to meet Marisol and Maddie, and suddenly I was giving you the cold shoulder. Am I right? I knew it. I'm sorry, okay! It's not your fault... It's mine. I'm always kind of paranoid because Maddie is so much prettier than me and famous and all, and then there's me in the sidelines. The thing is, I like you! I know we just met and all, but I felt something for you that first day, and that's why I followed you after your fight with Cyrus. That's why I followed you today. It's crazy, I know, and you probably think I'm a freak now, but I just can't help-"

It only took a second. Devon wrapped his arms around my waist and he pulled me close to him. I sighed and wove my fingers into his hair, enjoying the feel of his petal-soft lips on mine, breathing in the musky scent of his cologne, savoring the moment. "I don't care about Maddie," he breathed. "I care about you."

Just as quickly as it came, it departed, and I was left with a tingling sensation, longing for more.

A ghostly whisper on my lips. My first kiss.


Devon left to return to the estate long before I did. I sat on the hillside, basking in the warmth of the sun, replaying the special moment over and over in my head.

It was insane. I'd known Devon for two days, and I was already falling for him. I'd never felt anything like this before... I wanted him to be mine forever, to kiss me again like he just had, to tell me he felt the same way. There was so much I wanted to learn about him, so many things I needed to know...

Then I remembered: he was my opponent. He was the enemy. I was sleeping with the enemy... Eventually, one of us would have to go - or maybe even both of us. This couldn't last forever; if I won, I would be expected to find someone new in The Bachelorette, to move on...

What hurts the most is knowing I'll never find someone like you again.


When at last I returned to the dorms, I saw everyone pull out their phones simultaneously as I approached the house. I waited for my phone to buzz, but nothing happened. I checked to make sure it wasn't silenced; it should have rung, loud and clear.

Suddenly, discomfort rippled through the group. Everyone turned to look at Maddie, who was flushed a deep red and looked furious. She broke away from the crowd and ran at me, screaming and hysterical.

"Do you think this is funny?  Embarrassing me like this? This is not funny.  This is not mature. You are a b-"

"Hold on, what is going on here?"  I shrieked.

Maddie scowled. "Shut up. Just shut up!  Nobody wants you here, so why don't you just go die in a hole and stop causing us trouble? Your secret's out now, ass hole. Stop playing pretend and give up the game, already!"

Maddie and I fought when we lived together, but not like this. This wasn't normal stepsister drama.

I stared at Maddie blankly, feeling very confused and left out.

Maddie threw her phone at me and marched back over to the group.
I looked down at the screen. There was a picture message from an unknown number pulled up. I immediately recognized the picture: I took it a year ago, right before Maddie and I moved out from home. We'd just turned eighteen, and Maddie and a few of her friends had raided our parents' beer supply. The next morning, she had such a bad hangover that she accidentally walked out of the house with no shirt! I snapped a pic from the bushes and later threatened to post it on SimConnect.

It was immediately obvious why Maddie was blaming me. I was the only one who had access to this picture.

I was framed.


We spent the rest of the day in our separate dorms. The text message signalled the end of the conference. The group had concluded that I was the author of the notes.

They think that  I'm the ass that's causing all this drama, I thought glumly, stepping into a hot bath. Tears welled up in my eyes; I had never felt so alone in my life. Everyone here hated me at the moment, and there was nothing I could do about it.

I stayed in the bathroom for a full hour, crying my eyes out and wishing I could leave this hellish place. I knew there would be drama, but I didn't think I would be caught right in the middle of it.

Blair knocked on the door. "Eliza, there's someone here to see you," she said, her voice shaking slightly.

She's afraid of me.

I pulled on my clothes, wiped the streams of mascara from my cheeks, and ran outside of the bathroom to open the front door.

Devon stood in the front doorway, smiling weakly. "Come on outside, and we can talk."

He's going to tell me that he hates me. He's going to tell me I'm a lier and he never wants to see me again. This is it, this is the end. I'm leaving after tonight.

Night was falling on Queenstown; I hadn't realized I had skipped lunch. Maybe that was part of the reason why I felt so empty inside... The absence of food, the absence of friends, the absence of hope.

Devon pulled me over onto the bench and slid his arm around my shoulders. I put my head on his shoulder and closed my eyes. "Everyone here hates me," I whispered.

A light flicked on upstairs, and I heard music playing. Laughter sounded, and the shadows of dancing people fell on the ground in front of me. The other girls were celebrating. They were celebrating because they knew I was leaving, the author of the horrible notes was leaving, the one that everyone hated was leaving. They were partying without me. I could never be one of them... Not knowing who I was.

Just look at yourself, Eliza, you're actually starting to believe what everyone else thinks.

I hated myself.

Sobs wracked my body and hot tears streamed down my face. Devon pulled me closer to him, and I curled up against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. Right then, he was the closest thing to a friend I had.

I can't tell how long I stayed there, curled up in Devon's arms. Devon rubbed my back and whispered sweet nothings to me. Soon, my tears ran dry, and I just sighed and drifted into a half-dreaming, half-awake state.

I felt a kiss on my lips, soft as satin, and then I slept.


Marisol pried open the small crate hurriedly and everyone leaned closer, anxious to see inside. Marisol picked up a note, a CD, and a disco ball.

The guys pumped their fists in the air. "Woot woot, dance party!"

"Hold on a second," Blair said suspiciously. "What's that CD called?"

"Best of Slow Songs."

The mood shifted. "Oh damn," Derrick said.

"Holy crap..." Cyrus moaned.

The other girls looked pretty pleased with themselves.

Marisol shushed the group and read the note. "Ladies, whip out your best dresses, and men, have your suits ironed, because Saturday is your second prom! Enjoy a fun night of dancing, delicious food, and romance. Your task is to prove that you can be romantic and give strangers a chance at love. Couples will vote on the best couple, who will automatically be safe from elimination! Remember, you're not falling in love, you're simply testing if you can open up to a stranger. This will be important when meeting people in the The Bachelor  or The Bachelorette."

Everyone turned to look at me. I knew what they were thinking: Who would want to go with her? Little did they know about my secret relationship with Devon...

"Anything else?" Sebastian asked.

"The party will start at 8 PM and continue until 1 AM," Marisol continued. "There will be a buffet dinner for all, and couples are expected to share at least one dance together."

"This is bullchiz," Cyrus complained.

"This is Clash of the Houses," Maddie said darkly. "Deal with it."

Derrick cleared his throat. "We can't change this now, anyways. What's done is done."

I sighed. At least I wouldn't be the only one sleeping with the enemy.


After a light dinner of autumn salad back in the dorms, I walked outside onto the deck, waiting for Devon to appear. Surely he would meet me here again tonight and ask me to the dance?

I sat down on the bench and waited. Then, I spotted Devon appearing from the gloom, smiling and waving to me. I stood up and waved back, and was about to run down to the sidewalk and throw my arms around him when I was nearly knocked over by...


"Blair! Thank God you're here," Devon said.

What? Why was Devon meeting Blair?

Blair giggled. "So you wanted to ask me something?"

Ask her w-

"Blair, will you be my date to the dance?"

No. No. This was not happening.  I was dreaming, I was asleep, this was not happening, this was not real.

I bit my hand as hard as I could and stiffled a shriek when pain shot through my palm.

I was awake.

"Of course I'll go with you," Blair said, batting her fake eyelashes. What a flirt. Why would Devon ask  her instead of  me?

Devon leaned closer and pecked Blair on the lips.

I wanted to scream and throw a fit. I wanted to hurt someone, to break something, to run away. I couldn't believe Devon would do that to me! Maybe it was my fault. Maybe he had decided I was too much of a drama queen. Blair was more beautiful than me, more eye-catching, the lovely blond with a bubbly personality. I was the souless ginger...

That was how I felt at the moment. I felt like I didn't have a soul, like I couldn't feel anything but pain and hatred.

This is the sting of heartbreak.

I pulled out my cell phone.

"Can a cab be here in five?" I hissed.

Through all my rage and vengeful feelings, I heard one thought: I'll make Blair regret ever laying a finger on Devon if it is the last thing I do.


Where is Eliza going? Why did Devon ask Blair to the dance instead of Eliza? What drama will tomorrow bring? Find out in Chapter 3!

There are still 6 possible suspects as the author of the note! Who do you think wrote it? Leave a comment telling me your opinions!

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Anyways, thanks for reading Chapter 2!

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