Home > The Cellar (The Cellar #1)

The Cellar (The Cellar #1)
Natasha Preston

1

SUMMER

Saturday, July 24th (Present)

Looking out my bedroom window, I’m faced with yet another dull English summer day. The heavy clouds made it look way too dark for July, but not even that was going to faze me. Tonight I was going to celebrate the end of the school year at a gig by a school band, and I was determined to have some fun.

“Hey, what time are you leaving?” Lewis asked. He let himself into my room—as usual—and sat down on the bed. We’d been together over a year, so we were more than comfortable with each other now. Sometimes I missed the time when Lewis didn’t tell me he was getting off the phone because he needed to pee or when he would pick up his dirty underwear before I came over. My mum was right: the longer you were with a man, the grosser they became. Still, I wouldn’t change him. You’re supposed to accept someone you love for who they were, so I accepted his messiness.

I shrugged and studied my reflection in the mirror. My hair was boring, flat, and never looked right. I couldn’t even pull off the messy look. No matter how “easy” the steps to the perfect bedhead look were in a magazine, I never could make it work. “In a minute. Do I look okay?”

Apparently the most attractive thing was confidence. But what did you do if you weren’t confident? That couldn’t be faked without it being obvious. I wasn’t model pretty or Playboy sexy, and I didn’t have bucket loads of confidence. Basically, I was screwed and downright lucky that Lewis was so blind.

He smirked and rolled his eyes—his here she goes again look. It used to annoy him at first, but now I think it just amused him. “You know I can see you in the mirror, right?” I said, glaring at his reflection.

“You look beautiful. As always,” he replied. “Are you sure you don’t want me to drop you off tonight?”

I sighed. This again. The club where the gig was being held was barely a two-minute walk from my house. It was a walk that I had done so many times I could make it there blindfolded. “No thanks. I’m fine walking. What time are you leaving?”

He shrugged and pursed his lips. I loved it when he did that. “Whenever your lazy brother’s ready. Are you sure? We can give you a lift on the way.”

“It’s fine, seriously! I’m leaving right now, and if you’re waiting for Henry to get ready, you’ll be a while.”

“You shouldn’t walk alone at night, Sum.”

I sighed again, deeper, and slammed my brush down on the wooden dresser. “Lewis, I’ve been walking around on my own for years. I used to walk to and from school every day, and I’ll do it again next year. These”—I slapped my legs for emphasis—“work perfectly fine.”

His eyes trailed down to my legs and lit up. “Hmm, I can see that.”

Grinning, I pushed him back on the bed and sat on his lap. “Can you take your overprotective boyfriend hat off and kiss me?” Lewis chuckled, and his blue eyes lit up as his lips met mine.

Even after eighteen months, his kisses still made my heart skip a beat. I started liking him when I was eleven. He would come home with Henry after football practice every week while his mum was at work. I thought it was just a silly crush—like the one I also had on Usher at the time—and didn’t think anything of it. But when he still gave me butterflies four years later, I knew it had to be something more.

“You two are disgusting.” I jumped back at the sound of my brother’s deep, annoying voice.

I rolled my eyes. “Shut up, Henry.”

“Shut up, Summer,” he shot back.

“It’s impossible to believe you’re eighteen.”

“Shut up, Summer,” he repeated.

“Whatever. I’m going,” I said and pushed myself off Lewis. I gave him one last kiss and slipped out of the room.

“Idiot,” Henry muttered. Immature idiot, I thought. We did get along—sometimes—and he was the best big brother I could ask for, but he drove me crazy. I had no doubt we would bicker until we died.

“Summer, are you now leaving?” Mum called from the kitchen. No, I’m walking out the door for fun!

“Yeah.”

“Sweetheart, be careful,” Dad said.

“I will. Bye,” I replied quickly and walked out the door before they could stop me. They still treated me like I was in elementary school and couldn’t go out alone. Our town was probably—actually definitely—the most boring place on earth; nothing even remotely interesting ever happened.

The most excitement we’d ever had was two years ago when old Mrs. Hellmann—yeah, like the mayonnaise—went missing and was found hours later wondering the sheep field looking for her late husband. The whole town was looking for her. I still remember the buzz of something finally happening.

I started walking along the familiar pavement toward the pathway next to the graveyard. That was the only part of walking alone that I didn’t like. Graveyards. They were scary—fact—and especially when you were alone. I subtly glanced around while I walked along the footpath. I felt uneasy, even after passing the graveyard. We had moved to this neighborhood when I was five, and I had always felt safe here. My childhood had been spent playing out in the street with my friends, and as I got older, I hung out at the park or club. I knew this town and the people in it like the back of my hand, but the graveyard always creeped me out.

I pulled my jacket tightly around myself and picked up the pace. The club was almost in view, just around the next corner. I glanced over my shoulder again and gasped as a dark figure stepped out from behind a hedge.

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