"Cassidy! We're going to visit your grandmother now," my mom's voice echoed from downstairs. "We'll be back soon!"
"Are you sure you don't want to go, Cassie?" My older twin brother, Timothy, asked for the fifth time. I shook my head, restraining my annoyance.
"Sorry, Tim. I'm not feeling good," I lied.
Tim sighed, giving up. We both knew I was lying, but he let it go, getting up to leave after slipping his shoes on. He kissed my forehead and quickly trotted downstairs to catch up with our parents. With a frustrated sigh, I tucked a strand of my wild dark brow hair behind my ear and made for the computer.
Last night, my mom and I got into a huge fight about my cat. It's ridiculous, I know, but I'm really protective of my cat. If anyone disrespects her, I'd be on them in a flash. So you already know that when my mom insulted my cat when the poor thing is sick, I snapped on her.
I almost started throwing things, but Tim, being the more mature and calmer sibling, stepped in and excused us both, much to my anger. Mom hasn't been the same since Dad died. When I think about the times before he did, she was so open-minded and playful. Now she's just plain bitter and cruel.
It disgusts me, almost. Sighing again, I worried my lower lip and quickly signed into my Wattpad account. To my mom's annoyance, I didn't want to succeed her position after Tim passed it up. I wanted to become a writer, more than anything, and I was stubborn enough to persuade that desire and push all my responibilities to Tim.
I hated doing it, but I didn't want to let Mom control my life forever. I wanted to do things my own way, I wanted to be respected and acknowledged, and I don't want Mom's help in doing that. I don't need her help at all.
But this is coming from an academically-challenged fifteen-year-old. Having dyslexia and being the only sibling that has it is not a good thing in this family. Tim's the only one who gets my dilemma and he's always offering help. That boy is definitely CEO material. I'm not.
I'm just Cassidy Barnes, defiant, rebellious, and academically-challenged.
And just to spite my mom, I decided to lie and say that I'm not feeling good enough to visit my dying grandmother, and to spite her further, I was going to take my grandmother's last name. Well, it's my mom's maiden last name so it shouldn't bother her that much, but then again, her mom and my mom never got along as they had different views on too many things.
Shaking off those thoughts, I selected one of the updated stories in my library and began to read. Time passed, and just like my mom promised, her and Tim were home. I logged off and turned off my computer, watching Tim enter our room with a weird-looking book in his hand.
It was a magenta color, though it was really worn out and the spine was peeking through. I almost snorted at it. What happened to it? Did someone put it through a washer and dryer? Tim noticed me looking, and he pursed his lips.
"What?" I demanded, and I stared at him, confused, when he extended the book out to me. "Uh, Tim?"
"Grandma wanted me to give this to you when I told her about you and mom," he explained simply. "It's her diary."
Grandma's diary? I perked up and eagerly took it. Hiding my smile from Tim, I dragged my fingertips down the front. This was Grandma's diary. It had everything, her secrets, her life story, how she ticked, worked, thought. Everything I needed to know about her.
I flipped through pages, the words jumbled, until a certain page snagged my interest. It was plain, Grandma's cursive dancing around and reminding me I couldn't read as effecient as a normal person could. I sighed, getting frustrated, and I placed the diary down. I debated on whether putting it away or not, but my curiousity got the best of me and I immediately began deciphering it.
"When... Danny and I... first... met," I started off slowly.
When Danny and I first met, our parents were agreeing on a marriage on our behalf. It was well-known that Daniel Fisher, the heir to Fisher Industries, had a maid as a mistress. It was no secret, especially to I, Victoria Clearwaters, as many of my "friends" gossiped about it like children. Danny was one of the most sought after bachelors in New York, and if you thought he was unattractive, you better change your name, appearance, and move to Canada.
His admirers did not take kindly. But when we met, he looked absolutely miserable and scorned. It was obvious he despised his family and my own, including myself. I couldn't blame him, though I did not sympathesize him. Danny wasn't reckless nor was he an idiot, he knew the consequences of having an affair with someone with a different class than him.
Our families got along well. There was no problem between them. Danny and I had yet to talk. The reason why I didn't talk was because I'm not fond of my life being established for myself. I had a mind of my own. I refused to be belittled and ordered around. So, therefore, when my parents revealed that I was to be married, I threw a tantrum.
It was immature of me, but being married off without my consent pushed me off the edge. I no longer wanted to bite my tongue and listen and speak when only spoken to. My mother was stunned at the image of her perfect daughter throwing a tantrum, but my father simply gave me a empathetic smile and calmed me.
That was a week ago. Now I'm meeting my also reluctant betrothed. I knew that Danny was attractive, but seeing him in person threw me off. His perfectly combed, coifed brown hair, round coffee brown eyes, neatly pressed suit, glossy leather black shoes were all paired with something that did not match the image of perfection that everyone painted.
Misery and scorn met my stoic expression. Danny and I's gazes met, and it was as if everything he felt was poured into me. I was caught off-guard by this, and my eyes widened and lips parted in shock. Then the world melted away, and it seemed to be just us. It felt as though someone had put cotton over my ears, dulled my senses, and my eyes did not waver on him.
With a loud tear that only I seemed to hear and feel, his eyes ripped away from mine, and I felt empty, alone, hollow. I wanted to catch his gaze again, but I knew that when his mother caught his attention and his misery and scorn was replaced with a flawless mask of fake politeness and a practiced smile, he would never be mine.
After our parents got along joyously, we decided to depart, we being my family. The fathers shook hands, the mothers hugged, and the children just stood there in unbearable silence.
"Oh, come one, Victoria dear!" My mother chastised," Hug him and give him a kiss on the cheek!"
"Same to you, Daniel! The two of you will be husband and wife at the end of the month after all," his mother added. I tensed as Danny moved towards me, almost robotically.
His arms circled around me, and I threw my arms around his neck. Our bodies pressed close. I could feel my heart pick up and feel his heart beat normally. His breath fanned across my neck, and his lips pressed against my ear, curling into a bone-chilling smile.
"I hate you," he hissed into my ear.
It felt as though someone had dumped a bucket of ice cold water on me. Chills jerked down my spine, and I felt terror grip me as my imagination went wild. Instead of his arms around my waist, it was his hands on my neck, squeezing and squeezing until I couldn't breathe. I snapped out of it when his lips, soft and moist, pressed against my jaw.
Our mothers squealed as my father cleared his throat, eyeing Danny threateningly. He flashed me a flawless smile, and he moved back. As we left, the nonexistent feeling of his hands around my throat and the gnawing weight of his deadly eyes on my back never did leave.
When I arrived home, Nana greeted me with her familiar age spots and laughing wrinkles. Her gray, white-streaked hair was tied into a braid, her almond-shaped green eyes twinkled jovially, her wired glasses sat on the bridge of her nose, and her black dress ironically seemed to brighten my day.
I felt incredibly better. I could tell Nana everything, and she wouldn't tell a soul. In spite of my mother's protests, I hurriedly fetched Nana and rushed off. I shut my bedroom door shut and locked it. When I turned to Nana, she was dumb-founded and her appearance was frazzled. She frowned.
I immediately felt like a child was caught stealing a cookie. Nana should never frown. She should be always smiling and laughing. That's what her laughing wrinkles were from after all.
"Darling, what's wrong?" She asked me softly. I gave her a half-smile.
"Nana, something happened to me today, and... I'm not sure on how I should react to it," I replied slowly. She perked up.
I smiled fully this time. I loved my nickname.
"Alright, so you're aware that I went to meet the Fisher family, right?" She nodded, and I continued," Well, I met their son today. Daniel Fisher is his name, and since you seem to be the master of knowledge and rumors, you know that he had a mistress, yes? Anyway, I met him today as he's to be my betrothed and I don't know, Nana... he was so miserable and just so hateful. But when our eyes met, it seemed like the world melted away and it was just him. What does that mean?"
Nana smiled, her green eyes twinkling again. "If anything from those romance novels you love to read, it could mean you're in love with him," she suggested.
I wrinked my nose. "In love with him? On first sight? With someone so miserable and hateful and judgemental and just augh! That's impossible." I argued.
"Don't argue with me, child," she reprimanded. "I'm much more wiser than you are, and I know true love when I see it. Or well, in this case, hear it. But that's not what I'm trying to say, what I'm really trying to say is that you may be in love with him. Why not give him a chance?"
"It doesn't matter," I sulked. "I'm getting married to a month whether I like him or not."
After that, she only smiled. The next few days went by quickly. I mostly spent my time reading or thinking about Danny. I sighed, sitting in the car as Samuel, my personal chaffuer, drove me to the park where Danny and I were to have a date. Samuel's old blue eyes met mine as the car slowed to a stop. We exchanged smiles before I exited the car in my pale violet sundress, sandals, and hat.
"Give me a call if you need me, young lady," Samuel stated before he drove off.
Butterflies tickled in my stomach as I marched up to the area where the picnic was, and I stopped short at the heavenly sight before me: Danny sitting on the blanket dressed in a loose white button up and slacks. His eyes flickered up from his book to met mine.
"Victoria," he acknowledged calmly.
"Danny," I murmured in reply.
He smiled sweetly, and I felt my cheeks flush. Chuckling, he gestured for me to sit with him and I did, getting comfortable. He pulled the basket in between us and dug around in its contents.
"Apple?" He offered, sparing me a glance. I nodded mutely.
Gratefully, I took the apple and bit into it. The date went on smoothly after that, and he managed to surprise me with a short kiss on the lips. Nana annoyed me about for the rest of the day. The month was quickly passing on, and everyday I was getting nervous, especially about today. It was Valentine's Day, and Nana and I were out getting chocolate so I could give some to Danny.
Danny and I's relationship increased greatly, and we were getting along amazingly. We didn't argue, didn't fight. We kissed, smiled, and laughed. We were the perfect couple. Gradually, our families became closer as we did as well.
"This one," I stated confidently, sending the workers into a frenzy to get my gift together. Nana nodded in agreement.
I smiled at the young male worker who handed me the gift. It was rather simple, just like the one you saw on the commercials. It was a heart-shaped red box with a velvet bow wrapped around it, and a card with the typical inscription on it attached to said bow.
Excitedly, I dashed to find Danny, and I heard from one of the maids that he was in the storage room. Briefly I wondered why he was in there, but I brushed it off since he usually helped out without letting his parents know. In my frenzy to give it him, I threw the doors open only jolt to a stop.
My heart crumbled, my stomach dropped, and I felt my senses muffle the pain I was experiencing. I completely assumed that the parents had gotten rid of the maid, but seeing Danny pull away from their sloppy, heated kiss made me recall that one of my "friends" did say that they could never find out who it was.
I realized then that it was because it wasn't a maid, it was the "friend" that informed us of that. Delilah stared at me, resembling a deer in headlights. Danny, however, smirked at my devastated expression.
"Apologies that you had to see this, love," he remarked, sarcasm dripping off his voice. "I would have told you earlier, but mother insisted I made you feel like you were loved and you know, shove aside my doll here for someone as stuck up and worthless like you."
"Daniel!" Delilah hissed, glancing at me guilty. At least she had a guilty conscience. Danny shrugged and pressed a light kiss to her forehead.
And in that instant, I snapped. I chucked my gift at Danny, using that as a distraction to charge him. Delilah cried out, too much of a coward to do anything as she stumbled back, and watched as I clawed at Danny's face. Being a man, he easily tossed me onto my back, knocking me breathless, as he topped me, hands clamping down on my neck.
That's when Delilah screamed bloody murder and rushed off somewhere. Danny's soft lips grinned murderously. I jabbed him in the eyes, but he persisted, smothering my airway until I couldn't breathe.
Our families poured in, our fathers wrenching him off of me as Nana scurried to my side. My mother joined her shortly, and Delilah sobbed into Danny's mother in hysterics. In my mother's hand was my gift for Danny, and suddenly, courage and determination surged through me.
I took it from my mother and stormed towards Danny, despite everyone's protests, and Danny snarled at me. I smiled mercilessly, waving the slightly damaged gift tauntingly. My father opened his mouth to yell at me, but he went silent when I plopped two chocolates into mine and Danny's mouth and stomped on it. Chocolate oozed out of it, and it bittersweetly resembled my heart.
"I hate you," I stated, making the two of us flash back to our meeting.
"Victoria!" My mother yelled, hurrying to pull me away. "Have you gone insane!"
"Maybe I have, mother, but listen to me, I will run our company by myself. I don't need Danny or a man to do it. I'm independent, strong, and I will do it. It's time you let me run my life."
Next month, I was happily unmarried and in training of how to run my father's company. My mother was a bit upset that I decided to control my own life and run the company on my ow, but she begrudgingly allowed me to after much persuading from me, Nana, and my father. Danny was under strict probation.
To my chagrin, his parents managed to get him just probation when honestly, he deserved to be thrown in jail for trying to kill me. But at the same time, I was viewed as the villain as Delilah gave her side and revealed that I attacked him first in a bout of rage.
That's unfortunately true, but surprisingly, no punishment came upon me. I suppose I should be thankful, but I believe in fairness. Nana convinced me not to speak, just let it all happen as if I act rashly, I would receive a much more worse punishment. So, defeated, I slipped back and allowed it all to happen.
However, I can already see my future: bright and accomplished.
I marveled at the familiar story of Grandma and Daniel Fisher. I knew my grandmother was Victoria Clearwater, but I had no idea she was that Victoria Clearwater. I probably should pay attention to our family's history more often. Tim eyed me cautiously.
"You okay there, Cassie?" He asked.
"Yeah, Tim, I'm fine," I answered in a breath, despite not being out of breath.
"Timothy, Cassidy! We have visitors!" Mom's voice beckoned us. Tim immediately stood and nodded at me.
"Come on," he gestured for the door. I scowled.
"Fine, fine." I relented and made to stand when a nice, white piece of paper slid out of the diary. It immediately caught my attention as it floated to the ground and hit my foot.
I glanced at Tim, frozen, and I crouched down to grab it. His eyes followed me as I did so, and I smiled anxiously. He sighed then wordlessly, made his way downstairs to our mom. Amazing how twin telepathy works, huh? Anyway, I quickly unfolded the paper and took instant notice that it seemed to have been recently folded and written.
I started to decipher the words again.
If you read my diary to this point and found this note, then I would like to congratulate you for doing so with your reading problem? Oh, what was it again? Dyslexia, correct? Excuse this forgetful mind. Now where was I?
Oh, yes, congratulations, my dear, for getting this far. Hopefully, you learned about me in ways that your mother, despite my offers and desperate decisions, will never. I wanted to tell her all this, but she was too deep in your father for her to notice me.
It was already bad enough I lost her father and your grandfather to his work, and I didn't have enough time of my own to reach out anymore. But you, Cassidy, remind me of myself. Independent, courageous, and free.
I don't have much time left, I can feel my death coming, and I wish you the best in life. You're a truly gifted writer, don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. I know you'll get somewhere in life and impact many others while doing so.
In the very back of this very diary is the side piece of a locket taped to it. Danny and I shared it while I was still under his spell. The other half is missing, and I have no desire to find it again but I feel like it will be important to you.
So I want you to never lose this side, promise me this, Cassidy.
Still perplexed by the letter, I grabbed the diary and like she said, it was there taped to the back. I gingerly took the tape off and let it fall into my lap. At that same instant, the bedroom door opened, revealing a tall, green-eyed boy at least two years older than me.
And on his neck was the right side of my grandmother's necklace.