“Isla, what the bloody hell are you wearing?”
Briar looks up from her sheaf of notes, staring at her little sister, who had just come in with her best friend Jeannie Beard. It is a Friday afternoon and Briar is writing an important report for her boss. It is her first proper assignment and she wants to get it perfect, because she feels a promotion might just be nearing. But all of it is forgotten when Isla walks in through the door.
Her sweet little sister looks like she has just come straight from Sharma Day Spa. Isla’s previously carelessly swept-aside hair has been styled fashionably over her shoulder. She also seems to have gone on a shopping spree, with a short dress matching Jeannie’s, hoop earrings and high heels. In addition, Isla appears to be wearing make up.
Briar is completely boggled. What the heck, Isla hates make up! And she thought that her little sister hated dresses too! Yet here she is, all made up prettily as if she’s going to a party. “Isla,” Briar repeats, “why do you look like you are going to a club?” The two teenagers burst out laughing at this. “We aren’t going to a bar, Briar! But maybe he is…” Isla giggles and Jeannie hits her arm, also giggling loudly.
A… he. Briar gets up, narrowing her eyes. Of course. This was bound to happen sooner or later, with Isla being a teenager. Still, it’s a little shocking to see her innocent, happy-go-lucky baby sister so dressed up and squealing with Jeannie about some boy.
“Who are you talking about?” Briar says irritably once she joins them. Jeannie jumps up and down, her blonde hair swishing from side to side. “Cla… Clay…” She doubles over giggling again, apparently too embarassed to say whoever she is talking about’s name.
“Clayton Alto!” Isla bursts out and the two teenagers break into fresh and hysterical laughter. Briar racks her brain, trying to identify the name. “I don’t know him.” She frowns. Isla smirks. “Of course you don’t! He’s the new boy in school from Moonlight Falls and OMG HE IS SOOOO DREAMY!!!”
Briar rolls her eyes. Ridiculous. The girls are now gossiping excitedly about him, referring to him as ‘the hottie’ and with a 1:1 ratio of words and giggles.
“Isla, don’t do anything stupid.” Briar suddenly says. Her sister stops fangirling and turns around to frown at her. “What’s that supposed to mean?” She snaps. Briar steps back, startled. Since when had Isla been so rude and upfront to her? Oh yes. Whenever she had clapped eyes on that ‘Clayton’ boy. Briar doesn’t like him already. As far as she cares, boys that make girls act like this are trouble.
She gets over her surprise and folds her arms. “I’m just saying, don’t do anything drastic to try impress this guy. You’ve already changed your fashion… like… a lot.” Isla glares at her big sister. “Excuse me? I love my new style, don’t tell me to change it! You just think I’m not pretty enough to get boys to like me!” Her voice rises shrilly. “Stay out of my business, big sister. I KNOW I’m not going to do anything stupid, you just watch me!”
“Good luck with that.” Briar says coldly.
Briar marches up the stairs, but not before hearing her mother arrive home. “Oh! Isla! You look so gorgeous- and so grown up!” Fern gasps, rushing over to her youngest daughter. “Thanks, Mom.” Isla says smugly. They begin discussing the spa’s fabulous salon, and gushing about the amazing hairdressers.
In her bedroom, Briar picks up a dart and squints at her blinking dartboard. Despite being annoyed at Isla, she also feels sad. Now both of her two siblings aren’t talking to her. Why has Isla changed so much just because of a boy? Briar sure knows that she wasn’t like that in high school. And her brother. Ash has only been at the house for the nights, and disappears all day to the science lab- now even in the weekends. She still hasn’t found out why her twin had been absent at Kelsey’s wedding.
Tomorrow, Briar will go to the science lab to find her brother and see what he’s up too. It’s time she finds out what is going on.
At nine in the morning, Briar takes the car to the science lab. The receptionist tells her that Dr. Kingston is not there. Oh, so he’s a Dr. now? The woman tells her that he had gone out to town to run a few errands. Annoyed, Briar drives down into the valley and parks her car next to the park.
She goes out on foot, looking around the streets for her brother. Briar is so focused that when someone calls her name out, she jumps right into the air.
“Oh, hi Kelsey! How was Bridgeport?” Briar gives her friend a big hug. “Oh, it was wonderful! We went to my favourite restuarant, and Wiki’s Bookstore and Bath, and went out at night with all our friends.” She smiles. It had been Kelsey’s wish to go back to her hometown for her and Will’s honeymoon.
“Lemme guess: you went on a shopping spree?” Briar notes her change of style- a cute black dress with delicate lace. “Maternity clothes.” Kelsey says happily, her blue eyes sparkling. “Wait, you’re pregnant?” Briar glances at her friend’s stomach. “Yep! I’m not showing yet; I just found out a few days ago. So I’m guessing, not the honeymoon.” She laughs and pats her tummy. Briar chuckles along with her. She knows that the newlyweds will be great parents, and Kelsey sure does seem excited at the prospect of a child of her own.
All of a sudden, Briar feels something prickling at the back of her neck and begins to feel a little uneasy. She isn’t sure why, but it reminds her that she’s on a mission to find Ash. “Okay, sounds awesome.” Briar interrupts Kelsey’s chattering about converting one of her rooms into a nursery, and what gender it may be. “Good luck with morning sickness.” She adds, remembering when Fern was expecting Isla. “I really have to go now, though. See you later!”
She runs off down the road, and the prickling sensation follows her. Briar has the urge to turn around and stop, but that feels stupid to her. The criminal warehouse appears up ahead and the desicion to ‘stake-out’ -like in the movies- strikes her. After all, she had thought she had seen Ash there a while ago.
Soon she reaches the cool woodland which hides the warehouse from the rest of the town. Briar skids to a halt and looks into the dark trees. It feels as if… no, nobody is there.
Curiously, she takes a few steps into the forest. The shade dapples her and it is very quiet in here. She looks around for any sign of movement. That prickling feeling was most likely someone following her. Briar narrows her eyes. Is anything else in these woods?
Briar feels a brief flash of pain before all goes black.
Note: My sister is restarting her Starling Rose Legacy as the Woodley Legacy, with a whole new character and story. Check it out when the first chapter is posted~