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you can hate me all you want (but you’re stuck with me)

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Alaric needed a drink.

Running around Mystic Falls, getting thrown around like a rag doll, and killing blood sucking “creatures of the night” made a guy want to let loose for a night. 

However, here Alaric was, walking down yet another suspicious alley in the dead of night when he should’ve been in bed with his girlfriend.

Hearing a sound he could never forget, the snarl of a devil, he drew his crossbow close as he exclaimed,

“Hey!”

The snarling became louder as the vampire hunter grew closer. The cries of the vampire’s victim was starting to give Alaric a migraine. The blood sucker turned his head to his left, red eyes and sharp teeth on full display.

“Stay back, human. You will be saved for later,” the pale vampire threatened menacingly.

Alaric sighed.

“I don’t get paid enough for this.”

He pulled the trigger and watched as the vervain covered arrow flew straight into the vampire’s chest.

The vampire fell to his knees as he groaned in pain. Alaric stepped closer to finish him off, but before he could take another step the vampire was gone.

“Shit,” Alaric murmured under his breath. The painful moans of a man reminded Alaric of why he was there.

Alaric rushed to his side as he helped him to his feet, “Sir, are you okay?”

The man grimaced as he stood, letting out a breath. “Yep, just peachy,” he said, making Alaric chuckle lightly at the sarcasm.

The vampire’s victim was a short Asian man, Alaric figured they were both around the same age.

“Uh, sir, what you saw-“

“Was a vampire. Yes, I’m aware.” The short man pressed a finger to the wound on his neck and hissed at the contact.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’ll take a look at that.” Alaric set his duffel bag down and scrimmaged through it, looking for his medical kit.

After a few minutes, the victim was patched up. He stretched his arms as Alaric fixed his things before standing to face the other man.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch your name,” Alaric remembered.

“Too busy saving my life,” the victim snickered, to which Alaric smiled.

“Thank you, by the way. I’m Preston.” Preston stuck his hand out toward the vampire hunter.

“Alaric. Ric, if you will.” Alaric shook Preston’s hand.

“Well, Ric, I could really use a drink right about now,” Preston chuckled as he started his way out of the alley. Alaric hummed in response.

Exactly what he had in mind.

 


 

“So where are you from, Preston? Alaric asked curiously. The man intrigued the hunter, even though they had just met a little while ago.

Preston shook his head. “You first.”

“I’m not the one that was found being attacked by a vampire for god knows why.”

“For one, he just jumped me out of nowhere. And for two, I’m not the one that arrived holding a crossbow,” the raven-haired man picked up his glass from the counter and took a small sip from it, eyeing Alaric.

The dim light of the bar casted faint shadows across the wooden tables. All of the windows were shut closed, and quiet music could be heard from a jukebox nearby. The only company the duo had were a few men scattered across they place, chatting amongst themselves quietly.

Alaric’s eyes scanned the faces surrounding them, before letting the pair fall back on Preston.

“I’m from Mystic Falls, Virginia. My name, as I said before, is Alaric Saltzman. I’ve got a girlfriend who I met around one to two years ago—we have a kid on the way. And in my free time, I hunt vampires.”

Preston nodded along. “Nice hobby.”

Alaric let out a chuckle.

“Why do you hunt them?”

The vampire hunter called the bartender over and ordered two glasses of whiskey.

“That’s a story for another day. Your turn.” He pushed one of the glasses over so that it sat next to Preston’s other one, now empty.

“Well,” he paused and contemplated what to say, “My name is Preston Park.  I’m from Belgium, but I live, well, here now. We arrived this morning.”

Alaric shot him a look. ”We?”

”My wife and I. Her name is Lauren. She was also born in Belgium as well. We have one daughter. Penelope.” He stopped but then continued, “I.....also own a company you may have heard of-“

“Park Industries,” Alaric intervened, nodding his head. “You’re the one– you created Park Industries? Basically the most successful architecture companies in America?”

“Well, yes, I guess-“

Alaric cut the other man off once more. “The same Preston Park that started Park Industries when he was only 16 years old?” Alaric gapped.

Preston lightly chuckles. “If you’d let me finish, I’d say yes.”

Alaric let out a breathy chuckle, taking a sip of what little bourbon he had left before asking his next question, “That was awhile ago. What’s going on with you nowadays?”

Preston sighed tiredly, though Alaric hadn’t seen a single sign of tiredness on his face. “Created a multimillion dollar company at 16, became a billionaire just shortly after my 17th birthday, got married at the ripe age of 19. Not sure if it was because I loved her or because my father had told me to “settle down” but I guess that didn’t really matter in the end.”

Once the younger man finished his rant, the bartender came back with more drinks and Preston immediately downed his glass.

Alaric quietly watched the other man chug the whiskey down his throat before speaking up, “Jesus. And I thought my job was hard.” Preston snorted and Alaric joined in the laughing fit.

The laughter now died down, and Preston turned to the vampire hunter. “What about you?”

Alaric groaned, “Well, my life certainly isn’t anything near the same as yours. But to sum it up, came to Mystic Falls a couple years back to teach at Mystic Falls High and met a girl. Actually should be sleeping next to her right now.”

Preston leaned closer. “Well, not to sound ungrateful or anything, but why aren’t you?”

Alaric shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he began, “My uh....my ex-wife, she.....a vampire killed her in our bedroom. I guess that really just.....stuck with me? I don’t know. I feel like I just–“

“–owe it to her,” Preston finished.

Alaric looked at Preston in surprise, it’s not everyday a human understood the struggles a vampire hunter went through. “Yeah, like I just get this feeling that I’m disappointing her or.......“

“Forgetting her.”

Alaric and Preston maintained eye contact, probably wondering where the other had been their entire lives. ”Yeah. How did you know?”

“Felt the same about my sister. A wolf had killed her when I was just 11 years old. Wanted to go after the guy but my dad wouldn’t let me, he managed to get the cops to think it was just an animal attack.” Preston played with the shot glass in his hands, turning his attention to his fingers.

“I’m sorry for your loss, Preston.” Alaric started sincerely.

“Yeah, you too.” Preston smiled, sighing before looking around the almost empty bar. “I should probably head home. My wife is definitely up waiting for me, she’s one of those.” The billionaire stood from his seat, and stretched his arms before heading toward the door.

Alaric followed after him, stretching and popping a few limbs before asking, “You got a ride home?”

Preston laughed before shaking his head slightly. He turned to the big open windows near the exit and pointed to a car on the left side of the bar’s parking lot. “That Rolls Royce? Yep, she’s all mine.”

Alaric’s jaw dropped in disbelief, “She’s gorgeous. What’s her name?” the older man turned to the Asian man, curiosity written on his face.

“Hm. I hadn’t thought of that. Maybe Penny?” Preston contemplated before making his way out of the establishment.

Alaric quickly sprinted to catch up with the billionaire, “Woah, hey, I wanna see!”

 


 

The soft music filled the comfortable silence during the ride to Alaric’s home.

Alaric turned to Preston, who was currently in the driver’s seat. “Hey, I really do appreciate you giving me a ride. You didn’t have to.”

Preston scoffed lightly, “I wanted to. It’s literally the least I can do considering you saved my life and all.” Alaric smiled to himself as he sat back comfortably.

A few minutes of silence went by, before Preston parked on the side of the street.

“Wait, this is your house?” Preston nodded his head to Alaric’s right.

Alaric turned and looked out the window to see the familiar building, “Yeah. Been here for just a year or so. Why do you ask?”

“Because, I live right there.” Preston pointed to the newly built two-story house just beside Alaric’s home.

Alaric’s jaw barely dropped, “Oh. You’re those new neighbors. Uh, well, welcome to the neighborhood?”

Preston snorted at Alaric’s awkward attempt of politeness, “Yeah, that didn’t sound painful at all.”

Alaric cackled, “Yeah, well, I try. But it was really nice saving and meeting you, Preston Park.” He held his hand out for the other man to shake.

Preston took hold of the older man’s hand, “Likewise, Alaric Saltzman.”

Alaric smiled at the young billionaire before climbing out of the car.

He turned and bent down to look at Preston through the window, who rolled it down, letting Alaric speak his last words for the night. “Maybe I’ll see you around, Park?”

“Already addressing me by my last name? Okay, sure. But yeah, I’ll definitely be around, Saltzman.” Preston smirked, and watched as Alaric walked into his home before retiring for the night as well.

 


 

7 months later

 

The sun was just setting at the horizon.

Alaric had been trekking through miles upon miles of trees for the past two hours. The crunching of leaves beneath his feet was starting to irritate him.

The reason for him being in the forest instead of at the hospital where his wife was? He was hunting a vampire.

The same one that escaped him seven months ago when he saved Preston Park.

The hunter walked for another ten minutes, crossbow ready in his hand. He had been told that a vampire was seen running through those exact woods last week, and he couldn't miss the opportunity.

He realized though, as his phone rang, that he was going to have to.

Alaric angled his crossbow down and took his phone out of his pocket, glancing at the ID lighting up the screen.

It was the Mystic Falls Memorial Hospital.

Although he already knew what they were going to tell him, he clicked answer.

Just as a twig snapped behind him.

He looked to see where the sound had come from, but then suddenly he was on his back, being dragged across the woods.

Alaric struggled as he was pulled away at blinding speed. His hand unconsciously reached out to the knife tucked in his boot and swung it upward, creating a deep gash in the vampire's arm. The action made him  drop Alaric and turn around to face him, his familiar sharp fangs and red eyes clear as day.

"You'll regret all your decisions soon enough,  human," he hissed out, and then just like that, he was gone.

He had escaped. Again.

Alaric rolled onto his side, wincing at all the cuts on his arm, before pushing himself up to his feet and limping over to his crossbow that was on the ground a few feet away. He checked his pockets, and realized that he, in fact, dropped his phone when he got attacked.

The vampire hunter glanced around himself though, and coincidentally for him, the vampire had left Alaric at least half a mile from his car. Just close enough so that he could see it.

"Damn it," he said to himself defeated. He chuckled tiredly, and attempted to jog as fast as he could to the vehicle. Because he was certainly not going to miss his wife giving birth to their kid. No, kids.

As soon as he got in the car, he started the engine and backed out of the forest preserve and drove back to his house to change into something more, appropriate. And  not covered in dirt or blood. Jo would definitely not like if he showed up to the hospital like that, he knew.

Saying that he drove at the speed limit while getting home would've been an understatement. And very much a lie.

The man got home around ten minutes later, parking on the garage and running inside to change.

That took around five minutes.

He knew he didn't have too much time.

The vampire hunter got outside just as the Parks walked past the house, clearly going on a stroll. Preston walked beside Lauren, who was holding a small girl, Penelope, in her arms. Preston and Alaric locked eyes, and the asian man could see all of the stress written across his face. He stopped walking and furrowed his eyebrows at his friend.

"Saltzman, you alright?"

The vampire hunter hadn’t really gotten a chance to comprehend his situation until that exact moment.

His wife was giving birth to twins.

Twins.

He was going to be a father-

“Is he alright?” Lauren asked.

Preston studied his friend’s face. “I’m not sure.”

Alaric’s mind was racing.

According to what the doctor had said, they were both going to be girls.

Him and Jo were going to have two twin girls in the house from that day forward.

His wife was giving birth.

“Ric,” Preston spoke, “Are you-“

”Jo is in labor and she’s about to give birth,” he announced, his eyes wide.

Preston looked back at the man with a mirroring expression.

”What? Now?-“

Yes now!”

”Then what are you doing?” Preston asked incredulously.

”I don’t know!”

Preston put his hands on a hyperventilating Alaric’s shoulders.

“It’s alright. I was like this too when Lauren was giving birth to Pen. Just....uh.....calm down.”

Alaric closed his eyes and exhaled slowly, trying to grab his bearings.

”You good now?” Preston asked.

Alaric looked at his friend standing in front of him, dead serious.

“Would you guys maybe want to....come with me?”

A silence fell over the four.

But Preston was the first one to speak up.

”Of course,” he said, reassuringly. “I wasn’t your best man for nothing. I wouldn’t miss it for anything, except for my family.”

Alaric let out a nervous chuckle and look over at Lauren, who nodded her head in response.

”Thank you,” the vampire hunter whispered to the man in front of him.

Preston smiled.

”Anytime.”

 

They reached the hospital not long later. Just in time, actually.

A nurse asking for a man by the name of Alaric Saltzman walked into the room just as they had all sat down. The Parks stayed in the waiting room as he followed the woman to the room where Jo was.

The nurse left him alone when they reached the room, and as the man entered, he saw his wife laying on the bed, with a grimace on her face. He walked over to her, and moved a strand of hair behind her ear. She gave Alaric a tired smile.

”I really hope raising them won’t be as painful as this,” Jo said through gritted teeth.

”No,” Alaric smiled, “They’ll probably be worse.”

Jo shot her husband a glare, and then yelped in agonizing pain.

A second later, the doctor walked in, accompanied by the nurse from before.

Alaric knew it was time. And so did Jo.

He took her hand and held onto it, and she held his, through all of it.

 


 

“Josette and Elizabeth. Josie and Lizzie .

Alaric held Elizabeth in his arms, softly rocking her back and forth. Jo, on the other hand, held a quiet Josette, who’s hand was gripping onto her mom’s finger.

At that moment, Preston and Lauren walked into the room silently. Penelope was sitting on the back of her dad’s shoulder’s, holding onto his hair. Alaric chuckled at the sight.

The Asian man walked over and sat at the edge of the bed, to Jo’s right, and his wife stood beside him. Alaric sat on Jo’s left, with Lizzie who seemed to have fallen asleep.

“They’re adorable,” Lauren whispered.

Preston agreed as Penelope got off of him and onto the bed. She crawled over slowly to Alaric and poked Lizzie in the head, although the newborn didn’t react. Then, she crawled over to lay next to Jo, reached her hand out, and took Josie’s tiny hand in her own.

The four parents just watched the three in amazement.

Preston looked at Jo, and then at Alaric.

”Maybe our kids can all be friends someday.”

 


 

“No, Jojo! You can’t have Tommy without his Bentley!” Penelope giggled as she watched Josie take the plastic doll and run from her.

“Yes, I can!” Josie screamed, her tiny legs betraying her and falling over a pillow. She groaned and looked up to see a tiny Penelope looking down at her.

“Ha. That’s what you get.” Penelope smirked, snatching Tommy from Josie’s side.

Josie rolled over onto her back and stared at her and Lizzie’s star scattered ceiling. “Where’s Lizzie?”

Penelope decided to lay next to Josie and look up at the ceiling as well, “She’s still downstairs eating some cake.”

A peaceful silence fell between the two girls. Josie sighed, and turned to look at the girl beside her.

“You’re pretty.”

Penelope turned to her left and responded with a smile, “You’re pretty too.”

“I can’t believe it’s your sixth birthday today, and your Dad isn’t here,” Josie mumbled under her breath.

Penelope still caught it though, “I know. Your Dad isn’t here either.”

“He’s, like, never here. That doesn’t count, it’s your day. It’s really really special.” Josie looked up to look into Penelope’s forest eyes.

Penelope looked back and gave the younger girl a small smile in response. They held eye contact for a few moments, getting lost in the other’s eyes.

“At least it is to me,” Josie muttered.

Penelope grinned widely and pulled Josie into a bone crushing hug, even though the weird angle demanded they separate, they still remained embraced.

“You’re my favorite person in the entire world,” Penelope mumbled into Josie’s shoulder.

Josie, pulling the Asian girl impossibly closer than before, replied, “You’re mine, too.”

 


 

“Pen! Where’d you go?” Lizzie looked under the older girl’s bed. Finding nothing, the blonde glanced over the room once more.

She rolled her eyes, “God, I hate you so much. Just because you’re in third grade and I’m in second doesn’t mean you’re smarter than me! Everyone and their mom knows I’m clearly smarter. And prettier too.”

Penelope giggled softly from her hiding spot above Lizzie’s head. No one knew about the secret cabinet next to her closet. It was quite spacious so the Asian girl figured it must’ve been an old cabinet that was forgotten about.

Lizzie walked around the fairly big room once more, calling out for her best friend. The blonde grew frustrated and huffed crossing her arms. “Fine, I’ll never see you again.”

Penelope smirked as she creaked the small door open to see a peak of blonde hair before immediately closing it again. The older girl knew how much it annoyed her best friend whenever she randomly decided to play a game of hide and seek, but Penelope liked to mess with Lizzie so it was daily routine to play at least one game.

Penelope stretched her tiny legs, pressing her left ear against the small door to hear Lizzie again. “Which means Josie won’t see you again.”

The smile from Penelope’s lips fell as she processed Lizzie’s words, then she opened the cabinet door just enough to see Lizzie from behind. Penelope smirked as she got an idea and quickly opened the door all the way, readying herself to jump.

As soon as Penelope came within contact of Lizzie, she quickly wrapped her legs around the younger girl’s waist and her arms around her neck. Lizzie groaned and stumbled as she tried to regain her balance, clearly not expecting to be pounced on.

Lizzie’s hands instinctively went to wrap themselves behind the Asian girl’s knee. As she had done countless times before. Lizzie turned her head and made eye contact with a smiling Penelope.

“You didn’t find me,” the older girl noted, her smile growing wider.

Lizzie huffed, the girl on her back slipping causing her to hoist her up before replying, “I didn’t ask to play, Pen. Also, you’re only here cause I said Josie. We all know you love her more.”

Penelope’s eyebrows furrowed as confusion crossed her features, “No, not true at all. I love you both a lot.” Penelope leaned closer, snuggling next to Lizzie, who sighed, closing her eyes and enjoying the embrace.

With her limbs still wrapped around the blonde, Penelope softly whispered in her ear, “And if we’re being honest, everyone knows you’re the funnier Saltzman. But don’t tell Josie I said that.”

Lizzie smirked clearly satisfied with her response, snuggling closer to the other girl, “Nice save. But you do realize the first thing I’ll do when Josie gets here is telling her you said that.. right?”

Penelope pulled away, green meeting blue, “Liz, that’s not fair!” the girl chuckled.

Lizzie smiled as she ran out of the room, Penelope shrieking not expecting the girl to move. “Life isn’t fair,” the twin piped.



At that point in time, the Saltzman twins believed that life couldn’t get any better than that. 

And in some ways, they were right.

”Do you really have to go? Can't you just stay for another year?” Lizzie bawled, her arms wrapped around Penelope’s neck in a deathly grip. Josie stood behind Penelope, trying to hold her flood of tears back as they said goodbye to their best friend on the pavement of the Parks' driveway.

The raven-haired girl hid her tear covered face in the twin's blonde hair, hugging her back just as hard. "I would stay forever but my parents say we have to go."

Lauren emerged from around the large truck parked along the side of the road. “Pen, we have to go soon.”

”I know mom,” Penelope yelled back, still drawn in the twin’s tight embrace. They held each other for another minute before they let go.

“Make sure you call or send a letter,” Lizzie said, wiping her tears away. “If you don’t I’ll make my dad drive us all the way to New Orleans.”

Penelope just laughed, then turned around just as Josie tackled her into a hug, almost making them topple over.

The brunette said nothing, just burying her face in Penelope’s neck. She breathed in, trying to imprint everything about the girl’s features in her brain. Moments later, Preston walked out of the house with the last remaining box in his hands, Alaric beside him.

“I’m really gonna miss you,” Josie murmured quietly into Penelope’s shoulder, so that only she could hear.

Penelope squeezed with as much might as her young self could muster. “I won’t be that far, Jojo. Just a few minutes.... Hours.... Cities.... States away.” The raven haired girl laughed.

“I hate you,” Josie said, but Penelope could feel her smile against her shoulder.

“I know.”

They pulled away. As soon as Penelope saw Josie’s tears, she wiped them away with her own hand.

Lizzie hugged Penelope again, wrapping her arms around her from behind. ”You’re going to be so far away.”

“Don’t worry, Lizzie,” Alaric broke in, walking towards them, “We'll see the Parks again one day.” He patted Preston, who appeared by his side, on the shoulder. Seconds later, Lauren joined them as well.

The black haired man smiled at his friend. ”You know,” Preston spoke, smirking, “if we ever come back in town, we should get a drink.”

Alaric contemplated the offer, before smiling.

”That’s exactly what I had in mind.”

They shared a laugh, and then hugged for one last time. Alaric hugged Lauren as well as Preston turned to his daughter.

”Gem, it’s time to go.”

Penelope nodded at her dad, before turning back to the twins. She opened her arms up one last time and hugged them both at once.

“I already miss you.” Both Lizzie and Josie stated, the girls looking behind Penelope’s head to glare at each other. Not the time.

Penelope chuckled, pulling away. “Gotta love the twin telepathy.” 

Lauren and Preston walked to their daughter’s side. Penelope smiled lovingly towards her best friends for the last time.

Josie spoke first. “Call everyday. If you don’t, I will.”

Penelope opened her mouth to respond but the blonde Saltzman beat her. 

“And write! I don’t care what year it is, writing letters to us is gonna be your new hobby whether you like it or not.” 

Penelope smirked. “I will. To both of those things.” She looked between the twins. 

Preston patted his daughter’s back before him and his wife walked to the car. Penelope bent down and picked the small bag off the floor that sat next to her feet. 

The older girl sighed, “I love you both. I’ll see you soon.” She gave them a final smile before turning and walking away. 

The twins, with tearful eyes watched as the Asian girl climbed into the car and waved as the Park family descended down the street and eventually, out of sight. 

As soon as she couldn’t see Penelope anymore, Josie broke into sobs and threw herself into her sister’s arms. 

There, the Saltzman twins found themselves crying in each other’s arms while their only best friend left their lives. 

Not knowing if she would ever come back.

 


 

“Josie! C’mon, you can’t miss school,” Lizzie sighed, Josie coughed into her elbow for the tenth time that morning. Lizzie leaned back, watching in disgust as Josie coughed her lungs out.

“Lizzie, I feel really sick. I just wanna get some sleep right now,” Josie croaked out.

“We just started fifth grade like a month ago! You can’t start missing out now.”

“And I’m not. It’s just a day, Liz.” Josie sighed.

Lizzie frowned. “Okay, fine. I’ll tell Mom and Dad you don’t feel well.” The blonde stood from her sister’s bed and instead made her way to Josie’s desk. With her fingers, she grazed over a few papers.

“You’ve been talking to Penelope a lot?” Lizzie’s gaze turned back to Josie.

Josie didn’t take her eyes off the papers where Lizzie’s hand hovered over. She sighed, “Yes. Her letters are coming in slower but, she’s got school and stuff so.”

Lizzie nodded, although clearly her sister was not telling her something. But she didn’t want to push her.

“Same here. I love her to pieces but you would think with two Saltzmans, she’d make sure to write back faster.”

Josie didn’t respond to the joke. Her eyes stayed glued to the same place, unmoving.

Lizzie noticed, and then cleared her throat, making Josie’s attention return to her. Like it had always been.

“Do you need me to get you anything? Medicine? Water?” Lizzie asked.

Josie waved her hand dismissively, “No, Liz, I’m fine. Go or you’re gonna be late. Mom’s here today.”

Lizzie nodded slowly, “Okay. Well, I’ll miss you.”

Josie smiled, “Me too. Bye.”

Lizzie grabbed her backpack, turned around and shot a grin back at her sister.

“Love you,” the blonde said before leaving the room, not waiting for a response. And Josie didn’t bother saying it back. Because Lizzie knew already.

She knows.

 


 

When Josie heard her Dad’s car leave the driveway, she immediately threw her covers off her body and locked the bedroom door, taking a deep breath and closing her eyes.

She turned and walked to her desk chair before sitting down. The brunette opened one of her drawers and scrummaged through several papers and envelopes before finding the worn out paper she had reread over at least a million times.

The brown haired twin released a shaky breath as she started reading the letter once more:

 

August 14th

 

For my Jojo,

Hey. I know that it’s been a while since my last letter and I’m sorry for not writing faster. To you and Lizzie. New Orleans can get pretty crazy. MG’s still showing me around and helping me get used to everything. Also, I met this girl, her name’s Hope. She’s really sweet and really pretty. I like her a lot. But you’re always gonna be my best friend. How’s Mystic Falls? It’s so small compared to New Orleans. Living here after almost two years and I’m still learning more about it everyday. You should come one day. Imagine us walking around the French Quarter. Going into shops, watching street performers, taking a streetcar throughout the city, and eating in amazing restaurants. Maybe one day. I’d really like to do that. With you.

Love,

Penelope.

 

August fourteenth. That was the last day Josie had gotten a letter from Penelope.

It had been almost two months since.

Josie’s sent three letters since. And nothing, no letter back, no text, no call, no anything.

And Josie started to feel like she was really starting to lose her best friend. Like she was being forgotten. Left behind. And she didn’t  know what to do.

Tears escaped her eyes without her permission and made their way down her cheeks.

Josie wiped them away harshly, Why am I crying when she clearly doesn’t care about me anymore? 

Josie snatched the letter, pulled open the drawer roughly, and shoved the paper inside before pushing it shut.

She leaned back in her chair, seeing the blank paper and pen laying on her desk through blurry vision.

Josie scoffed, I’m not writing to her again... Forget her.

She sniffled before getting to her feet and basically launching herself into her bed.

That morning, Josie mumbled a single sentence in her pillow to herself before falling asleep.

“I hate Penelope Park.”

 



“How was your day?”

Lizzie watched as the car drove past miles and miles of tall, green trees in the afternoon sun, letting her mind wander.

”It was pretty boring without Josie, but my friends made it a little fun,” she informed her dad, not averting her gaze.

Alaric smiled. “How is that new girl doing? What was her name? Tanya?”

Lizzie snorted. “Dana, Daddy. Her name is Dana. And today she was a real bit-“

”Elizabeth, language!”

”But you and mom say it!” Lizzie argued, glaring over at her dad beside her sitting behind the wheel.

”Yeah, but that’s because we’re adults, honey. But what’s so wrong with Dana?”

Lizzie glanced back out the window, watching the Mystic Falls Forest Preserve pass by. ”She’s really.......mean. To everyone. Including me.”

“She’s just jealous, Lizzie. Don’t worry about it.”

The blonde pursed her lips. “I could see why she’d be jealous of me, I have everything I could ever want.” If the twin had looked into the rear view mirror, she would have seen her father smiling at her in amusement.

”Did she say something to you?” Alaric asked.

Lizzie rolled her eyes.

”Maybe.”

Her dad sighed. “What did she say?”

Lizzie looked down at her lap. “She said I was a.......liability? I don’t even know what that word means.”

Alaric frowned, grimacing. “Did she say something else?”

Lizzie glared at her dad, who looked about ready to call the principal. “She just likes to make herself seem better than me.”

Alaric stayed quiet for a moment before looking over at his daughter.

”She’s not better than you, alright? You’re perfect just the way you are.”

Lizzie groaned. “Of course I know that dad, now stop whatever it is that you’re doing.” She gestured at his face, making him smile.

”I love you, Elizabeth.”

Lizzie rolled her eyes. “I love you too, dad.”

Alaric smiled, before reaching over and planting a kiss on his daughter’s forehead, averting his gaze.

All it took was a split second.

One look away from the road.

Before another vehicle collided with their car, making it spin out of control.

And everything went black.