At Any Cost | Book One of Exafortespent

By Alma Azura Celia All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Drama

Forty Six: Obsession

As my conscious comes back to my body, I feel a sharp pain piercings through my head. My hand automatically goes to my head as a little wince escapes past my dry lips. I keep my hands on my head, still trying to ease the pain as I massage it a little. I feel movement beside me, and I flutter my eyes open.

“Ashley, you finally awake!” Austin exclaims, looking at me with dark blue eyes already open wide at my sight.

Wait, why am I laying on a hospital bed? And why can’t I remember anything that caused me laying here in a hospital room with Matthew’s family members surrounding me?

And, how much time I’m spending on sleeping here in this bed? If I’ve been here for more than two weeks, well that is shitty. Because I just spend weeks doing nothing for my job. And time won’t even stop for a second to wait for me to work on the job I supposed to do since the first second I step my foot here in this city.

“How long I’ve been out?” I ask, looking at them one at a time with the look in my eyes that searching for any answer from any of them standing around my now tense body.

“1 month.” I turn my head and stare at Austin wide-eyed with my green eyes in shock as my breath hitches in my throat, making it harder for me to breath and gulp down my own saliva.

“What?! But how?” I say breathlessly, still trying to let the information I just got to sink into my head. My eyes won’t take themselves off from keep staring at Austin, still open wide as thoughts come into my mind fast like a lightning strike, making me dizzy and I’m sure now I look as pale as a dead person.

“You got slip on the stairs when you were running upstairs with Austin back at that day.”

I try to think about that day, and all of the thoughts, the memories on that day, the time I spent running, or maybe jogging, with Austin and Matthew until Austin make a bet with me come and hit me like a truck into my head.

So that’s the reason why I’m here.

“Of course not, you silly.”

Austin words wakes me up from my deep thoughts and I look up at him in confusion and a wide grin already took its place on his face. His blue eyes that glinting with joy and a hint of mischief staring back at my green one that filled with confusion. My forehead creases at the look on his eyes and laughter comes out from his mouth and others join in to laugh with him together,

“You just out for a few hours. You should be grateful that head of yours didn’t get any worse injury.” Austin says, still staring at me as little chuckle coming out from him few times in a while. I let out a breath that have been caught in my throat, letting my tense body to relax.

I still have a lot of time. But not for long if I keep forgetting about my job.

“I was just having fun and all with you. And the smoothie day! We missed it.” I let a little pout forms on my face as I look at him with sadness, and a pout appear on his own face as he stares back at me. I feel the room getting quieter than before. I look around just to realize that everyone already out of the room, leaving me alone with Austin.

Don’t leave me alone with him! I’m going to be a ball of awkward human being in front of him! Come back in here!

“But it’s your health that is more important.” I bring my gaze back to him and the pout still stay there on his face. And he’s right, my health is more important than going out with him, buying some smoothies. I can go out with him anytime. Without my health, I can’t do anything.

“Right.” I nod my head. My gaze falls to my lap for a second, just staring at it blankly, until I decide to bring my gaze up back to him, feeling so guilty at their worry and concern towards me.

“Sorry to make you guys worry.” I say, frowning sadly at him as I keep my gaze on his.

“It’s okay. Oh, Colton already got here, but he goes out again to buy himself some food.”

So he cares about food more than me? I’m fine, Colton. I really am fine with your stupid decision to choose food over his niece AKA ‘sister’. How could he? Maybe he thought I would be okay without him because he already knew I don’t have any bad injuries. But still, it is just unbelievable for him to do such thing!

“He’s such an unbelievable brother.” I scoff in distaste as I roll my eyes and lay back down on the bed, crossing my arms in front of my chest as I scowl at the innocent white ceiling above me. I feel Austin go back to sit at the chair beside me.

“Hey, you still have me here.” I turn my head and look up at Austin, smiling a little reassuring smile. I return his smile with my little one, not knowing what to say, but it’s enough to let him know I know about it.

“I can’t stop wondering why was I being so clumsy.”

I mean, I never been the clumsy one. Between my best friends, Cody is the clumsiest one, not me. I am well known for keeping myself out of the clumsy behavior. But sometimes not with the clumsy decision.

“Don’t think about it. Keep it as a lesson to yourself and move on from the thing that already happened. No use to think about the thing that already happened and worse, overthink about it.” He says, his face turns a little bit serious from the look he has before on his face, make me stare at him in awe.

I never thought he could be the serious kind of person.

“Okay, I’ll stop.” I say, snapping myself out of my daze. I open my mouth to ask something when Austin say, “You know what? You made me panicking so hard when I saw you unconscious at the upstairs. All of the people in the house were shocked when they heard a loud thump and when they saw you there, Victoria quickly called the ambulance.” His eyes still staring at mine when he explains what happened when I’m unconscious with a hint of fear.

“I’m sorry.” I apologize, looking away from his eyes, feeling the guilt that just went away a few minutes ago comes back again to my heart.

“No, it’s fine.” He says softly.

The was closed door swings open quickly and my gaze turns toward it within a second. My green eyes soon meet Aunt Sarah’s blue one that already filled with concern and fright. She walks briskly toward me and throw her arms around my shoulder, attacking me with a tight hug as a little sigh of relief comes out from her and blow onto my hair a little. I wrap my arms around her back, rubbing her back in a comforting manner.

“Ashley, you made me worried sick.” She says, still holding close to her. She keeps holding me like that for a little while, and I keep my hands running up and down her back, until she loosens her arms around me and put her hands on my shoulder, looking at me with a frown.

“Well, I’m awake now, right?” I say, smiling at her as a little laugh comes past my lips, trying to ease her concern towards me. And it doesn’t seems like it works for her. I let my smile fall of my face and keep looking at her now serious face.

“Please don’t do this again, you could give me and your father a heart attack.” She still even remember about me being their fake daughter. That’s so unbelievable. If she doesn’t say those words to me before, I’m sure I would accidentally called her Aunt Sarah instead of mom or mother and after that, none of us would come out from the hospital, because we’re already dead.

“It’s not like I did that intentionally.” My lips curves downwards as I keep my eyes trained on hers. She closes her eyes for a second, letting out a sigh that seems like the only thing that could make her calm down for now.

“Just be careful next time, okay?” She says, her stares turns softer than before. Her hand lifts up to my cheek and she cups my cheek lightly with her soft palm of her hands, smiling a little at me and I nod my head, smiling reassuringly at her.

“I will, mom.” Aunt Sarah turns her body around and look at Mr. and Mrs. Matthew and the rest of their family, that I just realized already came back into the room, once again, without me realizing it.

What’s with this family can walk into a room so quietly? That mean they can suddenly be anywhere I’m at and kill me at anytime they could when they already find out about me spying on them on behalf of my agency.

“Christina, James, thank you so much. I’m sorry for this.” Aunt Sarah says, her voice full of regrets and sadness. Christina smiles at her genuinely, nodding her head slightly as she makes her way toward Aunt Sarah. She stops in front of Aunt Sarah, still smiling.

“No need to be sorry. I’m happy we can take care of her for a little while.”

“Thank you.” Christina hugs Aunt Sarah, comforting her and she turns her gaze at me, still smiling. I return Christina’s smile and sigh quietly.

This is sucks. How long should I stay here? I can’t stand myself sitting or just laying here in this bed, in this room with no fun and interesting TV programs. I could die not because the concussion, but from the lack of fun I’m having in life while staying here.

“When can I get home? I want to go home. I’m going to die if I have to stay here any longer.” I say, laying back down onto the bed, huffing loudly. And the room fills with laughter within a second, make the pout on my face turn downwards deeper.

“Let’s call the doctor and hear what he’s going to say.”


“Hey, babe.” I turn my head from the TV, looking at him with my eyes narrow with anger in it. He's just standing there, leaning on the wall next to the doorway with a smile plastered onto his gorgeous face, only make me feel more angered at him.

Why am I even get angry by him calling me babe? Because that is such a weird word. I mean, babe came out from the word ‘baby’ and of course I don’t want to be called baby, I’m a teenage girl that’s about to be a woman soon.

Oh, and if you probably wondering when did I get home, I just got home hours ago because the doctor said I don’t really have a bad injury and he let me go home. What a moment of joy. And now I’m sitting here in my living room with Austin because he said want to be with me. He’s such a great guy. And yet I’m angry with him calling me babe. I’m such a weird girl.

“Austin, don’t call me with that word. I’ll choke you to death if you say that word again.” I keep my eyes on him, still squinting at him with threat glinting in my eyes. But that doesn't even make him flinch a little, it only make his grin turn into a mischievous smirk.

“Babe.”

I walk up to him in a flash, an angry glare fixed to his own scared one, and I put my hand around his neck and his gaze turns wide in horror as he stares back at me. I keep looking at him with rage burning inside me.

“Ashley, stop!”

I keep my hand gripping around his neck, choking him a little as he keeps staring at me with fear clouding his gaze. Before I can register what is happening, he pins me onto the wall, his hands gripping on my wrists strongly and I look at him wide-eyed.

“Ashley.” He still stare at me in horror, keeping his grip on my wrists strong, and I glare at him, trying to get out of his grip. Can’t contain my laughter any longer, a fit laughter comes out from my mouth. Now I bet he’s thinking I’m a mental girl. He let go of my wrists slowly, staring at me with confusion as he takes a step back away from me.

“Oh my god. Did you really think that I will really choke you until death?” I look at him in disbelief with grin now already plastered onto my face. He lets out a little sigh and look at me again with wide open eyes.

“Ashley, you scared me. I thought you were possessed with a psychopathic woman! The look in your eyes was almost make me fainted.” He confesses, still staring at me in horror. Damn, am I really that scary until he thought I was possessed?

“You’re a boy, that soon would be a college student and scared of things like that? You should not. How could you protect your girl when you scared of such little things?” Because boy should be the one that is the brave one and can protect his girl when things are more dangerous than a ghost.

“I just-” I cut his words before he say some excuses that probably would not really help him in this.

“No excuses. You should be brave for yourself and the people close to you. Now come on, we still have time to go to the beach for the smoothie, right? And since I got to the second floor earlier than you before I fainted, you pay for my drink.” I say, a wide smile forms itself on my bright face.

“Even if I got to the second floor first, I won’t let you buy my drink. It should be the boy who buy her the drink on a date.” He says, smiling at me as he shrugs his shoulder a little and put his hands into his jean pocket.

“So, this is a date again?” I raise my eyebrows and smile at him.

“Yes. Now get your ass upstairs and get ready. I’m going home while you get ready, I have to go grab something from home.” He smiles, place a hand on my shoulder and squeeze it lightly, making a little smile form on my face as I stare at him.

“Okay.”

He gives me one last smile, a wide smile that makes him look so cute and walk out of the living room, out of the house. And then I curse myself as I begin to panicking about what should I wear for today date because I want to look good in front of him and everyone else, but most importantly him, of course. And I don’t want to make a fool of myself because I wear the clothes that looks weird for the little occasion. Because I have a tons of dresses in my closet and I’m sure I need approximately an hour to choose the dress in there.

I walk into my closet, my body stiffen as I stop breathing to for a second and once again cursing myself for not being able to control myself from my panicky state.

Shit, what should I wear? There’s a lot of beautiful dresses in here. Let’s search for the perfect one.

I begin to do a controlled breathing and let out my breath as I close my eyes for a second. I open my eyes and begin to search for the perfect dress through a lot of dresses inside my closet.

I keep searching for the dress, as fast as I can to, until my eyes landed on a dress.

Oh, this one cute.

I take a grip on the hanger and pull the dress out, taking a look of it with my tilted slightly to the side as I think.

The dress is a white color. It falls above my knees effortlessly, the sleeves are short and it seems not too be too much for the date since we just go to the beach, and I’m sure it’s a pretty casual date we’re going to have.

Let’s see if I have any accessories that could look good with this dress. Should I wear sunglasses? Maybe not today. How about earrings? No. How about headband? That could be good. I search through all of the headband for the one that look cute with the dress when a thought suddenly popped in my head.

Oh, how about flower crown? I think that would look good although it’s a little bit too much for the occasion and I bet people would look at me a little bit strangely because I wear it. But I don’t really care about it because I feel like I’m the mood to wear those kind of shit.

I look through the drawer in my closet hurriedly, and I find it, a lot of it, with different colors and flowers. I pick the blue one, the flower looked as blue as the ocean.

What I don’t have in my closet?

Now, the flats.

I go to the footwear section and look for a pair of flats that should definitely look perfect with the dress.

Pink? No. Red? No? Brown? No. Gold? Silver? Definitely not. White? Yes!

I take a pair of white flats with a little bow on it. I get changed into the dress and pull my hair into a bun. I put the flower crown on my head and walk into my bedroom with giddy in my chest as I bounce a little on every step I take.

I put on some mascara and lipstick. I apply some sunblock onto my body and put on the flats. I go downstairs, jogging a little as I think to myself that I’m dressing up a little bit to much. But I push the thought away and my eyes find Austin.

He already got here? I must be taking a little bit too much time on getting ready.

I look at him, no, I’m staring at him, dressed in a khaki short and a white shirt.

He looked so mature sitting there on the couch. But the thought fades away as I see what he watches on the TV with a serious manner. And it turns out that he’s watching freaking spongebob squarepants.

I stifle my laugh, almost burst into a laugh, and walk toward him slowly, wanting to surprise him. I pat on his shoulder and he turns his head around. His blue eyes stares at me, scanning my body from my head until my shoes. And his eyes find its way back to my eyes, seems stunned by how I look now.

I smirk at him and he still look at me with the shock on his face, his mouth gaping a bit as he keeps staring at me.

“Stop staring at me. Let’s go.” I say, and it seems like it wakes him up from his daze from the way he blinks his eyes rapidly and shakes his head a little before he stares back at me, awkwardly as he rubs the back of his neck.

“Oh- I uh, let’s go.” He quickly rise from the sofa, not forget to turn off the TV. we walk out of my house toward his Jeep. He opens the door for me and I thank him with a little smile on my face and he get into the driver side and drives the car.

He stops the car smoothly and turn the engine off. I put my hand on the door handle and Austin holds my arms gently. I turn my head and look at him, my eyebrow knits at the center of my forehead, my eyes looking at him in confusion.

“Wait here, I’ll open the door for you.” A little, soft smile plays on his lips as he said those words. I blink my eyes, realizing that I was staring at him for too long. Heat spreads quickly all over my face and I look away from him, embarrassed.

“Okay.”

We walk into the shack, people’s chatter fills my eyes alongside with the sounds of the wave crashing and the loud voice of mixers. I look around, the tables in the parlor already filled up with people. Luckily, there’s a table for two at the far end of the place.

We walk there hastily, afraid someone would take the table. I sit down at the opposite side of Austin, smiling widely at him and a goofy grin showing on his face in return of my smile.

“Can I take your orders now?” I look up at the waiter, his green eyes staring back and forth between Austin and I. But his eyes glances at my way more frequently at my way, and his glances make me feel strange as second pass.

“Uh,” I look down at the menu book, glancing at Austin. Rage gleaming in his eyes, but he keeps his composure with him all the time as I decide on what to order. My eyes scan down the menu, still deciding on what to order.

I take a glance on Austin, making sure he’s not scaring the waiter away anymore by his stare. My eyes meet his, the anger already gone from his eyes, replaced with a soft stare. I look down at my menu and look up at the waiter, smiling a little at him.

“I’ll take the blackberry smoothie.”

“And one mango smoothie.” Austin says, his eyes fixed at the beach, not even sparing glance at the waiter. The waiter seems to be awkward for a few second as he glances at Austin and then look at me, smiling.

“Okay. Your orders will be here in 5 minutes.”

“Thank you.” The waiter smiles a little and go to the counter. I look at Austin, still staring at the beach. I hope he’s not staring at those half-naked girls there while I’m sitting right here in front of him.

“Austin, is blackberry smoothie in here taste good? It’s one of my favorite smoothies, I order it almost every time when I go to the restaurant.” He lets out a sigh and avert his gaze to me, smiling.

“It tastes good, well in my opinion.” He shrugs. He just does a little shrug and he looks so adorable and good-looking at the same time. I blink my eyes a few times and focus my eyes back at him.

“... And it’s one of the recommended smoothie in here beside the pineapple, soursop, and dragon fruit smoothie.” I nod my head at his words, though I can’t really make up all of those words he just said.

“Oh. Maybe next time we go back here I’ll try them out.”

“I’m sure you will like those.”

We stare back at each other, not even letting out a single words from our mouth as our eyes fixed at each other. Things starting to get awkward as we only stares at each other with smiles on our faces and I break the eye contact. My gaze focuses on a beautiful brunette girl in a black one-piece bathing suit that I don’t recognize walk toward my way.

“Austin!” She throws her arms around him, hugging him tightly. He’s squirming a little in her embrace, seems very uncomfortable under embrace, as he gives me an awkward smile.

“Uh, hi, Bella.” He stares at her, trying to look normal as he can under the feeling of awkwardness he definitely has inside him. She keeps her arms placed on his shoulder as she stares at him.

This is so strange and awkward.

“Where were you? Why are you avoiding me at school? I miss you. I miss the nights when you hold me in your arms.” She says, pouting at him. His eyes widen as he looks at her. He glances at my way, seems very apologetic. I smile a little at him and narrow my eyes at her, looking at her strangely. Jealousy strikes me right at the heart as the thoughts of Austin holding this bitchy brat in his arms, kissing her.

Why am I even jealous? He’s not my boyfriend. He would never be. But we’re on a date right at this time when suddenly this brunette right here decided to show up. I look away awkwardly from them, with her still talking nonsense to him, and pairs of eyes fixed right to this table as I look back at them.

“Uh, here are your orders miss.” The waiter from earlier said, looking at me and Austin awkwardly. He stands there with two glass of smoothies on a wooden tray, his eyes glancing at Austin, Bella, and I awkwardly.

“Oh, yeah. Just put those down.” I smile at him. He nods his head and quickly put down Austin’s and I smoothies.

“Thank you.” He nods his head and quickly walk away from my table, still looking so awkward as he looks at me with a hint of pity in his eyes. Not like I need one from anyone here.

“Oh, hi, who is this?” She looks at me with a hint of disgusted look and a fake a surprised look on her face. I glance at Austin, still looking awkward as he stares back at me. He brings his composure and smirk at my way. My eyebrow furrows, trying to think of what he has in mind until it could make him smirk.

“She’s Ashley, my girlfriend.” My mouth gaping a little at the words, she spins her head fast and look at him with wide eye. Laughter almost comes out from my mouth as I see the shock look on her face. I cover my mouth with my hand, still holding back my laughter and she glances at my way, glaring at me as she saw me smiling.

I know he’s not really meant it. He only say that so she can get her away from here. But still, it makes me happy to hear that word from him.

“Would you please leave us now, please?” He says, still smirking as he stares into her eyes.

“What? How could you? I thought we’re still together.” She says, a pout shows on her face as she pull her hand off of Austin’s shoulders with the hurting look on her face.

“Bella, how many times I told we we’re not even together? We’re just friends, okay?” He raises his eyebrows. The pout on her face goes deeper as she keeps her gaze on Austin.

“Now, if you don’t mind?” He gestures his hand, giving her a sign to go and leave us. He leans back into his chair, resting his back on the wooden chair with a smile on his face. She looks at my way, and I look back at her innocently. She looks down at me with disgust and turn back to look at Austin.

“Ugh, I hate you, Austin!” She turns on her heels, quicker than anyone in the world would probably do, and stomp her way out of the place. I tear my gaze from her and stare at Austin with wide eyes.

“That was a strange shit I just saw.”

“Sorry. I’m so tired of her. She kept saying that we’re together, as a girlfriend and boyfriend, you know? But we’re not even dating! Not even once! And the shitty thing is, she kept doing those things. She even almost kissed me a few months ago. On the lips!” He lets out an exasperated sigh and slurp his drink down until the glass only half full. His shoulders rises and falls quick. Panic forms inside me as I look at him running a hand through his

“Woah, chill, Austin. Calm down. Take a deep breath and let it out. Inhale. Exhale.” He does it as what I told. Inhaling deeply and let his breath out from his mouth. When he calms down, he lets out a sigh and rest his back on his chair.

“God, I can’t take it anymore.” He pinches the bridge of his nose and let out another sigh, still looks annoyed by the previous event. I frown at him, suddenly feel bad for him.

I thought boys like him like girls like her. But in reality, I guess that’s not really the truth.

“Then, why don’t you move to another school?” He closes his eyes and put his hand over his eyes, frowning a little.

“I have. But she just kept following me, moving to the new school I’m in. Beverly High is the fourth school I move in.” His hand still over his eyes as he said those words, make me feel even bad for him.

This girl's ability to think straight must be disturbed. She’s obsessed with him, probably. And I’m afraid she would do anything to get him and have him in the palm of her hand.

“To be honest, that is so creepy. I’m afraid she will kidnap you and you know, do the things that she wanted you to do with her? Like make you his boyfriend and all?” I look at him carefully, afraid those words might triggered his anger.

“Please don’t remind me of that. I already have that thoughts since a year ago. I just want to have a good time with you, okay? Let’s forget about her and talk about ourselves.”

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