If you ask her family, Alexis ruined her life when she met that wretched boy. With the rips in his jeans and the mischievous smirk permanently stuck on his face, Jill and Mark Dawson despised that no-good vigilante who had tricked their daughter into loving him. Unlike Alexis, the Dawson’s knew from the minute they first laid eyes on him that Jesse Black would bring the end of the girl they knew.
There are many lies told about Alexis Dawson, but the fact that she was not normal was always the whole truth. Her disregard for the rules and hatred of her lavish lifestyle made her the family outcast. You could often find her sitting on a bench in the square with a book in her hands, or maybe you would see her running around with a dark-haired boy, no doubt up to no good. If her parents ever forced her to go to a party, she would favor sneaking out the back door over talking to her peers. No matter how hard her parents pushed her to be like the others, newly eighteen-year-old Alexis continued to be the exact opposite of their idealized version of her. She was absolutely, by no standards, not normal.
So now, as Alexis lie on the foyer floor in her boyfriend’s house, her parents couldn’t help but wonder if she regretted it at all.
It all started earlier that day when all the leaves were absent from the trees, their branches decorated in a sea of white frost. The classic northern snow flurried in the air as Alexis walked out of school, her hands shoved in the pockets of her jacket, and the sounds of her classmates’ laughter trailing behind. It was a gorgeous day, and she couldn’t keep a smile off her face as she thought about seeing Jesse waiting for her in their usual spot in the town square, amidst the frosted grass.
Her smile faded as the last person she expected to see is standing in front of her with that insufferable grin on his face.
“Why are you in such a rush? Going to meet that boyfriend of yours, Dawson?” the brown-eyed boy says, leaning up against a traffic-light pole as she attempts to cross the street. She brushes him off.
“It’s none of your business, Zach.” She tries to go past him but he steps in front of her path, blocking her from moving forward.
“What’s your problem?!” she spats, her blue eyes staring at the tall boy with a defiant look on her face.
“People are talking, Alexis. You should not be hanging out with that boy,” he says, his voice dropping an octave lower as he stares at Alexis with an unbending intensity.
“You are the heir to your father’s business, and Jesse Black only stands in the way of that. He’s a rival of your father. He will only make your life worse, Alexis.” Alexis’ eyes narrow as she casts a cold look onto her ex- friend’s face.
“Well, I guess that’s what I want, then,” she states, “If you excuse me, I have to go.” She stares across the street with a defiant look on her face, trying to shake the nauseating feeling from her stomach after the encounter. As she approaches their usual spot in the town square, she sees Jesse, his nose lost in another one of the books he’s been reading.
“Romeo and Juliet? I didn’t peg you for a Shakespeare fan, Black,” she asks, gesturing to the worn-out book in his hands as she plops down on the bench next to him.
“Yeah, well, there’s a lot of things you don’t know about me,” Jesse teases, closing his book and looking up at the blonde girl with a smile tugging on his lips as he gives her a quick kiss. The pained expression she gives when he pulls away, he knew something was wrong.
Jesse’s eyes flicker between her and the school in the distance, trying to figure out what could have happened. As he looks at the fear in her eyes, he feels a surge of anger at whatever did this to her.
“Have people been messing with you? Because you know I can do something, I can get them to stop-”
“Jess, no, don’t get into any more trouble than you’re already in.”
“I don’t care if I get into trouble, who did this to you?”
Alexis sighs, avoiding eye contact.
“Zach Parker was waiting for me when I walked out of school, he said some confusing things that I’m sure are not true. That you’re a rival to my father? He works in insurance, how could you possibly rival him?” she laughs, but she searches in Jesse’s emerald eyes for a hint of amusement. There was none, his eyes only looking far off. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes from the pocket of his jeans.
Alexis’ heart pounds against her chest, “Jesse, that’s not true, right?”
He takes another puff of his cigarette, breathing out nicotine as he stares at the glimmer of angst in the girl’s blue eyes.
“People tell lies about me all the time and it doesn’t phase you, Lexi. Why now?,” he questions.
“Well, Zach told it to me, and he may be a jerk, but I’ve known him forever and I don’t think he would lie to me-”
There is a brief moment of silence, as Alexis watches Jesse’s eyes widen in surprise until a split second later when they gloss over with an emotion that was unfamiliar for her to see so up close, pure, livid anger. He then looked back to her with that same fondness in his eyes, anger seemingly lost. He slammed his book shut, stuffed it in his backpack, and promptly stood up, taking her hand to pull her up with him.
“What are you doing?” Alexis asks, laughing as he grabs her hand and pulls her along, running in the direction of the local supermarket.
“You’ll see!” he calls back with a smirk on his face as he walks through the automatic double doors, immediately dragging her to the dairy aisle. It isn’t until Alexis sees the eggs that she realizes exactly what they’re doing, and upon Jesse picking up a carton of them, she bursts into laughter.
An hour later, Zach Parker walks outside his house to find an unexpected surprise waiting for him in the driveway. His brows furrowed and his jaw dropped in genuine shock. Eggs? He thought, Who would be childish enough to do such a thing? But as he’s thinking it, he catches sight of a blonde girl laughing loudly with an equally-amused dark-haired boy’s arm wrapped around her, and before he can yell at them for vandalizing his brand new car, they were gone.
Alexis’ parents were right, this boy was changing her, and not for the better. It hurt to see his childhood friend act in such a way, but if that’s what she wants, then so be it. She doesn’t know what has been planned yet.
A while later on the other side of town, Alexis was listening to her mother berate her yet again about being with Jesse.
“He’s not good enough for you, Alexis, you know this,” she states, “You are one day going to inherit your fathers’ company and all of his money, and you’ll need a suitable husband in order to carry on the Dawson family’s work.”
“Yes Mom, I know,” Alexis sighed exasperatedly.
“So that’s why we’ve decided to host a dinner for you this evening, to make important connections with some of your peers families. I expect you downstairs at seven, and for God’s sake, try to make yourself look like you’re worth something. You are a lady, not some sort of rock n’ roll groupie,” she says, gesturing to Alexis’ Nirvana sweatshirt over her school uniform.
“If you have plans, cancel them,” her mother says swiftly, “This is far more important than anything you have planned. I’ll see you at seven. You better be ready.”
Sure enough, Alexis waltzed downstairs at precisely seven, clad in a red dress and black heels. Whatever her parents had planned, Alexis didn’t like it one bit. Every dinner, every gathering, every time they were all together, something terrible was bound to happen. Jesse said she would be fine, but Alexis was right. When she stepped into the living room, there was a tall, slender, blonde haired-boy sitting on her couch between his parents.
“Now, Alexis,” her father says smoothly, while her mother beckons her to sit down next to her on the couch, “That is no way to greet your guests.”
“It’s alright, Mr. Dawson. Alexis just wasn’t expecting to see me here, that’s all,” Zach says, taking a sip of sparkling cider and setting it down on the coaster in front of him.
“You know, we’ve actually been talking a lot more lately,” he continues, looking at Alexis with a pointed look in his brown eyes, not forgetting about the little stunt she pulled earlier.
“Yeah,” Alexis says through gritted teeth, “We’re in the same chemistry class.”
“Oh, isn’t that just wonderful!” Zach’s mother, Emily, exclaims, taking a sip of her wine, “I’ve always loved the idea of the two of you together.”
Alexis’ mom claps with delight, “Splendid Emily, as have I! They would just be a perfect match, wouldn’t they, Mark?” she says, looking towards Alexis’ father. Alexis half expects her father to stand up for her, to say that she has a boyfriend, but of course, he lets her down once again, for he only raises his glass to that.
She looks over to Zach, who’s currently wearing that same dumb smirk that gets under her skin. He raises a brow towards her at the topic of conversation, but Alexis responds with a sneer. There was absolutely no way she would dare choose Zach over Jesse. Jesse was the love of her life, the person who has always been there for her.
“With all due respect, Mrs. Parker, I’m afraid I am already taken. My boyfriend and I are coming up on our two-year anniversary, so I am not looking for other partners at the moment. Zach is lovely though,” Alexis lies through her teeth during the last statement, but Zach beams at it.
Mark Dawson lets out a laugh as dry as the desert sand.
“Alexis, you are not to be hanging out with that boy anymore,” he says.
“You’re young, naïve. You don’t know what you want. Be with Zach. He will be good for you,” Jill Dawson says calmly, not phased in the slightest that she was tearing her daughter away from the boy she loves.
Taking in her surroundings, Alexis realized that she never had a choice. No matter how hard she fought, her parents were always going to win, and that was confirmed by Zach handing her a daunting square box. She knew what it was without opening it, so she was not as shocked as she should have been when she saw the most gorgeous diamond ring resting inside. She carefully grabbed the ring, sliding it on her ring finger and looking up at Zach with bewilderment.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Zach remarks, a pleased smile on his face, “The band is made out of 24k gold. Expensive, but nothing I can’t afford.”
There’s an expectant look on her mother’s face when she says, “What do you say, Alexis? The wedding would be spectacular. We would set it for after you have graduated, invite all of your closest friends, and I have the most beautiful dress picked out for you, and you can even wear your grandmother’s veil-”
Silence floods the room at Alexis’ words. Her mother’s face darkens and her father’s gaze burns through her skull. She doesn’t dare look at Zach. Just the thought of seeing him makes her feel sick, but she does look at his parents, who were equally livid. The silence stills for a minute, and Alexis wallows in it, selfishly wishing for Jesse to be here.
It was utterly baffling how she was acting. She was a repulsively rebellious child, but she would learn later that her life would have been easier if she complied. Defying her parents wishes would end up poorly, and she never thought of the outcome her actions would have. She was selfish, that was undeniable.
“Alexis,” her father starts cautiously, “If you reject Mr. Parker’s proposal, there will be consequences.”
Alexis looks from her parents to Zach and his parents’ faces. The only sound to be heard was of the air vent blowing above her, placing goosebumps across her body.
“I don’t understand,” she asks shakily, “What is going on here?”
Her father smiles sinisterly, “I think it’s about time we told you what the family business really is.”
His hands wrapped around his glass of wine as she spotted the sleek, black handle sticking out of his pocket like it is second nature to be holding such a weapon.
It is at that moment that it dawns on her; the secrets and the lies, why her parents didn’t want her to be with Jesse, why it was such a big deal that she was inheriting her family’s money; it all makes sense now. So she runs. She runs to the only person she knows is safe. He opens the door to see the girl he loves sobbing on his doorstep.
Alexis looks up at him through her tear-stained blue eyes.
“They’re horrible,” she says, “My family, they’re horrible. I don’t know what to do, Jesse. Please help me.”
Before Jesse can respond, the front door flings open.
“You shouldn’t have run, Alexis.”
At the sight of Alexis’ fearful eyes, Jesse feels a seething rush of rage, ice-cold blood running through his veins as Zach Parker stands before him. If Alexis thought he was angry earlier, then he was absolutely furious at this moment as he charged towards the other boy. Yet nothing can amount to the fear that struck Alexis when she saw the same sleek black handle she saw on her father earlier in Zach’s left hand.
She tried to scream, yell, say anything, but no sound was heard except for the crack of the bullet as it tore through his flesh. And before she knew it, Jesse was falling. His body hit the floor with a thud.
She collapses beside him, her hands staining red as she places them over his heart. Her body was shaking, and her teardrops were falling on his still form. She was yelling, crying for him to say something, anything, but Jesse was limp.
She looked at his killer’s face with wide eyes, expecting a feeling of remorse, but all she found was a cold-hearted stare and a smile that didn’t quite meet his eyes. It made her skin crawl.
“You shouldn’t have run, Lexi.”
And before she could protest, she too, was on the hardwood floor. She looked to her love for the last time, before her vision faded.
On the ground lay two lovers beside each other, the bullet wounds bleeding from their hearts.