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Finding Solace

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Blurb

Jillian has always tried her best to keep to the shadows because of the numerous secrets that she holds. So far, she has led a quiet and solitary existence but what happens when her brother's worst enemy suddenly shows interest in her and threatens the very secrets she has been holding for dear life.

Callum has had a secret crush on Jillian and now that they are in the same school, he decides to take his chances with her. However, no matter how much he tries to breach the gap between them, she keeps avoiding him. Will he let that discourage him or will he persevere in his efforts to reach her? What will happen to those two lovebirds who are separated by some unfair twist of fate?

*Warning*: Contains elements of abuse and violence

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Chapter 1
Jillian I added another layer of make-up and checked myself in the mirror. As usual, the expensive cosmetic did a wonderful job of hiding the bruises underneath. Of course, without my expertise acquired from having to use this technique for concealment countless times in the past, I wouldn't have been able to accomplish this feat. I stood up from my dresser, satisfied with the results and walked to the kitchen. My brother, Daniel was already there gobbling down the bacon omelet I made for him earlier. He raised an eyebrow upon seeing me. "You masked it with makeup again..." "Of course! I can't exactly go there looking like a clown! Unlike you..." I said studying the more prominent bruises he had on his face and on several parts of his body, most of them luckily hidden by his clothes. I knew all that because I was the one to treat and patch up all these wounds the previous night. "Want me to mask some of yours too? After all, today's the important first day of school! Can't make a bad impression..." "No freaking way! I'm used to looking like a clown anyway... no one will find it weird. In fact, it'll be weird if I don't look like one." I burst out laughing "You're right about that!" Then I sighed "I was hoping at least today I wouldn't have to wear that damn makeup." I said blowing some powder from my fingers. As much as I was skilled at it, I hated wearing makeup... hated the smell of it and especially the stuffy feeling it left on my face. For me, makeup was only a means to mask my pain and shame. That's the only thing it will ever remind me of. If it were up to me, I would never wear any. But of course, with my daily ordeals, I didn't have that luxury. I ended up having to wear that substance nearly every day. I had some hopes yesterday when our household experienced a rare peaceful day. Or rather, it was that way as I tried my best to finish my chores early and make sure everything was perfect and in order and satisfying all the whims of our father. But then he had to get drunk again and ruin everything. Of course, whenever he drinks it's a lost cause. Try as I might to please him, he would still find a fault or even if he doesn't, he will still start hitting everyone in the house just for fun. "I guess I should be grateful I'm still able to walk." I sighed again. A look of guilt flashed across Dan's face. "Oh no! Don't be like this. You shouldn't feel guilty as you came at just the right time to help me. However, because of that, you took the brunt of his anger." I said sadly. "By the way, are you sure you're fine? I can come up with an excuse for you if you don't think you can make it." "Nah it's fine. I'm feeling great as always. This is just the usual for me anyways. And don't worry about me taking most of the beating. Didn't I already tell you that as long as I have an ounce of life left in me, I will use this body to protect you? I'm fine with anything as long as you are not hurt." "But I don't like seeing you hurt." I said as I lightly caressed his bandaged arm. He grabbed hold of my hand. "And I even less." He pierced me with his gaze until I understood and gave in. Daniel has always liked to be in control especially when it comes to me. He always has this set of rules that I have to follow no matter what especially the rule about not dating anyone. He's especially strict on this one. He made it clear to all guys in most schools that they were not to approach me. I've heard rumors about how he beat several guys to a pulp because they were thinking of trying to approach me. And of course, I couldn't forget about that one guy who was brave enough to confess to me but got sent to the hospital for several months as a result. I shook my head to clear the guilt. There was nothing I could have done. Dan has always been uncontrollable even for me, the person he cares about the most, so it was better to tread with caution with him. Up until now, I have had no problem with his no dating rule as I was not interested in that stuff anyways. No one has really caught my attention until now and anyway, in my current situation, it would not be ideal to get a boyfriend. As for the other rules he had for me, they were just for my safety. At least, that's what I convinced myself... Once Daniel was done with his breakfast, he went outside, murmuring something about getting the bike ready. I quickly made two bowls of cereals and gulped one down. I then proceeded to set a copious breakfast, consisting of the bacon omelet together with some fresh juice and bread, for father on the table. I also made sure to place some medicine for hangover strategically so he would know to take them first. He always liked everything to be in order and well arranged like that. Any slip up would earn us a beating. Even now there was no guarantee he wouldn't be mad as his food will no doubt be cold by the time he wakes up from his heavy slumber. Also, I cringed internally as I remembered the hits Dan managed to land on him last night while he tried to defend me. I prayed that he wouldn't remember anything and assumed the wounds were from a drunken accident. Otherwise, he would make sure that we both paid for this tenfold. When I heard the engine of Dan's bike rearing up, I quickly grabbed the other cereal bowl and ran upstairs to my mother's room. "Mom, it's me. I'm coming in." I called then cautiously opened the door, peering inside. Jennifer Brown was seated in her usual spot by the window, staring vacantly ahead. Everyday was the same pattern. She would wake up, move to her reclining chair, then return to her bed at night. The only time this routine was disrupted was when father came to her to vent himself out through physical or s****l abuse. At least she was spared last night and this allowed me to catch some sleep. If I had to treat her wounds on top of taking care of Dan's and cleaning the mess father made in the living room, it would have been another all nighter for me. I placed her breakfast on the table next to her "I brought you your breakfast. Eat it while it's still hot." With that, I left the room. I knew that there was a high possibility the food would be left untouched. At times, my mother even went days without eating. Maybe she was too lost in her own head to even realise that her frail body needed some food to sustain itself. She became like that because of my father's rough treatment, which is totally understandable as he was always the most cruel towards her. The mental and emotional pressure was too much so she just shut herself off. When I got to the front porch, Dan was already on his bike waiting for me. I didn't like riding to school, preferring to walk instead, but today I didn't have a choice. I was already late and my body still hurt from yesterday so walking wasn't an option. As I approached, he tossed me the only helmet. He never wore one, saying that the feeling was better this way. I for one could never understand what he found thrilling about riding a bike. Every time I rode with him, I got scared because of his recklessness and the speed at which he drove. Once I was seated behind him, he simply called to me to "hold on tight" and charged the engine at full speed. I grabbed him tightly and closed my eyes, hoping again that he was as good a rider as he claimed to be. When we reached school, we were still in one piece but I was a disheveled mess and my head was spinning. As soon as I got off, I saw the girls casting admiring glances our way. Dan has always been very popular. Girls practically threw themselves at him, begging for a minute of his attention. He also took full advantage of that, using them then dumping them when he got tired. As far as I knew he's never had a serious relationship, always preferring to play around. The girls were also casting curious glances my way which made me uncomfortable. Most people in this school probably already knew about me, Dan's precious baby sister that he's overprotective towards, but this would be the first time they're seeing me in person. However, their perusal made me uncomfortable. I've never been good at socializing, preferring to keep to myself most of the time. Most of all, I hated being the center of attention like I was right now. Even in the all-girls school I attended previously, I always kept a low profile The other students also quickly understood that I preferred to be alone, so no one ever bothered me. I wanted to attend an all-girls high school, but the nearest one was several miles away and father said that he wanted us to remain close.  Seeming to sense my discomfort, Dan took me by the arm and led me away from the curious onlookers, barely sparing them a glance. I heaved a sigh in relief once we were away, feeling grateful to Dan for his intervention. "You shouldn't let them bother you. They've always been like that, being quick to assess someone, especially when they represented a potential threat to their popularity." I raised an eyebrow at that, genuinely surprised "Me, a threat? How?" "Cause of your looks, sis. You never really realized this, but you're absolutely gorgeous. Enough that girls will feel jealous of you and guys will want to get close to you. The guys are only after your body though. Once they're done using you, they'll throw you away like trash. That's why I've always had to warn them to stay away... and I hope you will also cooperate and not try to get close to anyone." I rolled my eyes when he brought up that old topic "I know, I know. Didn't I already say that I wasn't interested in those things anyway? So there's no need for you to worry. Besides, after seeing the way you treat your girls I don't think I can ever trust a guy..." Dan narrowed his eyes at me and gave me a dark look. I raised my hands in surrender "Hey, calm down! I was just saying that as a joke. I don't blame you or anything. This is your life, after all and you're free to live it the way you want." We continued sharing banters like that while walking towards the school's gymnasium where the entrance ceremony would be held. The premises were huge and gave the impression that one could easily lose his way in it if he wasn't careful. We caught the attention of most of the students we passed on our way. Guess Dan was more popular than I thought. From what I gleaned, he was feared by everyone in school due to his short temper and his tendency to use his fists to solve most situations. His extensive training in several martial arts made it so that few could take him on in a hand to hand fight. Yet, he still couldn't take on our father. Maybe it was fear that held him back or maybe father was too skilled. Feeling someone's gaze on me, I looked up and my eyes widened when I saw Him. With his straight jet black which fell against his forehead and his sparkling green eyes, he looked incredibly handsome. That was Callum Crawford, my brother's worst enemy. After getting into numerous fights over the years, Dan made a lot of enemies but this one, he was particularly venomous about. I didn't know a lot about the guy himself, only that I had to steer clear of him at all costs. He stood by a window on the 2nd floor of the building in front of us and behind him stood his three friends who always accompanied him. I locked gaze with him for some time until Dan noticed my distraction and looked up to see what had caught me attention. Callum's gaze left mine and focused on my brother. I also shifted my attention to him. Dan was glaring daggers at his enemy. His whole body was tight with tension, like he was barely holding himself back from going over and beating him up. The whole air around us seemed to freeze as the two enemies engaged in a glaring contest.  "Did you know that he would be attending this school?" I asked softly. Still keeping his eyes on Callum, he replied, "No. I knew that he would also be enrolling in high school but I thought him clever enough to not attend the same as mine." Giving a small evil smile, he added "I guess this will make things a lot easier for me from now on." This caused me to worry, so i turned to him fully and voiced my concern. "You cannot cause any trouble okay? If you do the school will get our parents involved and nothing good will come out of this." I cannot even begin to imagine how our father would react... it was completely unfathomable. Something to be avoided at all cost. Dan turned to face me when he sensed my fear "It's okay, don't worry. I won't do anything that might land us in trouble. Trust me on that." "Are you sure? You promise?" I said doubtfully. "Yeah promise. But you have to promise me as well that you will stay away from that guy and his friends at all costs." He looked at me straight in the eyes to accentuate his warning. I gave him a dubious look "Of course! What makes you think that I would want to get close to him?" "I'm warning you just in case. I did not like the way he was staring at you just now" then he added to himself in a low ominous voice "Have to give him a good threat later..." His eyes looked almost eager as he voiced his intentions. "Dan, you won't forget you promise, will you." I made my own voice threatening as I reminded him once more. "Of course I won't" he said nonchalantly "Now c'mon let's get going or you're gonna be late for the opening ceremony." He cast one last withering glare at Callum before dragging me away. We walked on in silence, each of us deep in thought until we rounded a corner and saw Dan's friends. There were four of them, every one as crazy a creep as the next. I was used to them though since I've had to spend lots of time in their company in the past. I could even say that I got along well with them. Well, at least I acknowledged them every time I saw them. Most of the time, I just ignored everyone around me. When they noticed us, they quickly approached with huge smiles on their faces. "Hey man, got into another fight without us again?" Rick, the most rash one said, tapping my brother on the shoulder. "That's no fair, man! Hogging all the fun to yourself. You could have called us. Been wanting to blow some steam for awhile." This one was Ben and I looked at him incredulously. For awhile? Wasn't their last fight just yesterday morning? Anyway, I guess coming from Ben this was normal. The guy had an insatiable lust for fighting. They didn't know about our situation at home. Whenever Dan was injured, they just assumed that it was from getting into a fight. That was fine with the both of us and we always kept up the pretense. We did not want anyone knowing we grew up with a father who used his kids as sandbags after all. Josh was the only one who knew about our secret as he has known us since childhood. He was also the most remotely rational one among the whole group. He nodded in my direction, giving me an appraising look. "So, Jillian, how are you holding up for your first day here?" I shrugged "Fine, I guess, though it will probably take some time for me to get used to all this." I said looking around at the huge premises. "Is that so?" Rick chirped "well if there's anything you need, or someone's bothering you, feel free to come tell us. We're here to help whenever." "Sure thanks" I said with a small smile. "Speaking of that," Dan added "Did you guys notice them?" "You mean that Callum guy and his friends?" Rick said excitedly "Yeah. Pretty high and mighty of them to actually choose the same school as us. Makes one think they really do have a death wish after all." "What do you say we throw them a little welcome party? In our own style of course." Ben added with a devilish grin. "That's exactly what I was gonna propose." Dan said with an evil smile on his face. "We just had an encounter with him and the bastard had the nerve to stare at Jillian. We need to give him a good reminder..." "He actually stared at Jillian? That's unforgivable! A huge full blown welcome party it will be then!" Rick said in a seething tone and everyone seemed to agree with him. I didn't like where this conversation was going but I knew it wasn't my place to intervene. I guess I'd better leave for now before things get too heated. "Umm, Dan? I can already see the auditorium from here so I'll be going ahead. See you later okay?" I turned to make my leave as I said that. "Are you sure you can manage on your own?" Dan asked. "Yes, sure, don't worry." I waved at him and headed off. As I was leaving, I made eye contact with Kai. He rarely spoke a word to anyone but the few glimpses I caught of him fighting made me think of only one word: deadly. I hardly knew anything about him, just the fact that he was a very devoted friend to my brother. We both nodded at each other and I quickly headed off. My thoughts strayed once again strayed to Callum and his sparkling green eyes that seemed to see right through me. I wonder why he made such a lasting impression on me. Maybe because it was the first time I saw him face-to-face. In the past, I always avoided eye contact and never really looked at him. I should keep it that way. I shouldn't even have stared at him the way I did. It would have saved the poor guy some unnecessary pain. Anyway, there was nothing I could do now. Any intervention on my part will only make the situation worse.

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