The confirmation felt like a festering bullet wound; sharp, sudden, a pain that gradually enveloped her entire being until she went numb.
Raeliana. Her Raeliana. Gone again.
Beatrice stared at the stranger in front of her. She looked the same as when they last met, soft brown locks and forest green eyes. Spring incarnated into a person. It was a subtle kind of beauty that caught Beatrice’s eye when they first encountered - one that only she appreciated when they were younger.
Her jaw clenched at the memory, and she casted her gaze away from the woman (or the thing that wore Raeliana’s face, that is).
“I tried my best to avoid you as much as possible,” the woman spoke, “I… thought we were friends.”
Friends? Beatrice found that the word quickly soured its meaning when associated with her and Raeliana. To her, it was a burdensome lie to uphold their families’ reputations, one that attracted unwanted suitors to their doorsteps.
The solace and comfort they seek in one another had stemmed from anything but friendship.
She remembered late summer nights at the McMillan residence, slipping through the candle-lit hallways towards the east wing of the manor - towards her . She remembered climbing onto Raeliana’s bed, the mattress dipping beneath her weight as she settled down next to the taller girl, how she nestled against Raeliana as they slept. She remembered the forehead kisses, the knowing glances, the way their fingers brushed when they stood next to each other.
The real Raeliana wouldn’t avoid her. The real Raeliana wouldn’t have said that.
Beatrice took a shallow breath, hands balling into fists. “That’s true. Up until five months ago.”
The woman recoiled at her words, tearing apart the last shreds of Beatrice’s hope.
To have woken up on that day, to be forced to relive the month before the date of her death. To acknowledge that she couldn’t make it back in time. It was unbearable.
And then she was told that Raeliana had annulled her engagement to Brooks a week prior to her death. The announcement had put the pieces of Beatrice’s heart back to their rightful places, given her a second chance to breathe without feeling like she was being crushed from the inside out, and Beatrice would’ve been grateful had that moment of relief lasted longer.
Because as it turned out, it wasn’t Raeliana who survived. It was a soul that didn’t belong to this world - another ghost that had faced the same tragic fate as the love of her life - that had taken over Raeliana’s body.
Beatrice felt robbed.
She was granted another opportunity by the heavens, and yet, still failed to intercept fate as she knew it. Even worse, the universe seemed to have determined that Raeliana was less important than this intruder. To say that it was unfair would be an understatement.
“Grab her.” The cold sense of conviction that laced her voice made herself shudder.
But she couldn’t let this imposter continue using Raeliana’s body. Where was that chance for Raeliana when she was poisoned? Where was it when she breathed her final breath? It simply didn’t exist for someone with the likes of Raeliana, an extra in the story of her own life: someone who was in love with the original protagonist and doomed by the new lead.
An extra who hadn’t been an extra to her.
An extra who had been extraordinary.
Beatrice tightened her grip on the gasoline canister.
It should’ve been Raeliana.