Madeline Weller was the girl everyone in Thorndon Town wanted to be, but her secrets might have been what led to her sudden disappearance. Her mysterious disappearce pulls Lily into a whirlwind of lies, secrets and dangerous tales in hopes of finding her best friend whilst keeping herself alive in the process.
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The Queen's Downfall
Madeline sat twisting her long blonde hair between her fingers whilst flipping through the pages of a magazine in her lap. Her bright pink, lipstick coated lips pursed and let out a long sigh.
"Lily, be a darl' and pass the iced tea." she peeked over the rim of her oversized glasses.
Madeline smiled weakly and plucked the drink from Lily's pale slender hands. She turned back to her magazine and frowned.
"Gosh some of these girls are not model material. We are much prettier Lil'." she chuckled to herself.
Lily didnt reply, she simply smiled slightly and turned back to the pages of 'Beautiful Disaster' the whirlwind drama/romance that she had been infatuated with all summer.
The sun beat down on them, reflecting off the lake as if it was a fractured mirror. The lakes surface was disturbed by the ripples of people swimming, jumping and playing. The forest surrounding the lake cast shadows across parts of the water turning its baby blue colours into dark blue/green. It reminded Lily that even the most beautiful of sights could have a darker side to them.
"You havent been in the water all sumer Madeline, how come?" she questioned, peering over the crumpled pages of her book.
Madelines face turned sour.
"Why would I want to share the water with some of these losers. I might catch something." she sneered.
"Besides, wouldn't you rather work on that summer tan than mess up your makeup?" she smiled.
Lily didnt reply she simply shut her book and pulled her shirt over her head.
Her toes sunk into the soft dirt and began to squelch as she got nearer to the waters edge. She heard Madeline calling out to her but she didnt look back. Instead she rushed into the water and set off. She plowed through the water, her arms and legs propelling her forwards like a torpedo. She felt the water brushing against her skin, dancing like ribbons, making her skin explode with goosebumps.
She felt free, peaceful and calmer than she had felt for a long time. In the water the rock in the pit of her stomach seemed to become weightless. It no longer felt as though she was sinking.
She floated on her back staring up at the cloudless sky. Her breath was slowing and she wished she could stay here and float forever, but she knew she would have to face the world eventually. School was starting again in a few days and she was swimming with nerves. People would stare, point and whisper. She couldn't wait to leave this town behind and start fresh, where noone knew who she was and she wasnt defined by her families mistakes.
She pulled herself ashore and trudged back to her towel, the heavy sinking feeling returned.
"Lil' I know you're going through stuff and all that, but can't you pretend to be enjoying your summer." she chirped, never looking up from her magazine.
She continued flipping throught the pages with flourished movements.
"Sorry I've got alot on my mind. I dont really feel like sunbathing." she mumbled in response.
"Sweetie you know I'm here for you, but if you behave like a shut in people will think you've got something to hide. People might think you knew about your dad's business antics" she warned whilst glaring over her glasses.
Her eyes quickly flickered away, lighting up like christmas lights, and a smug smile spread across her face.
"Incoming, two total babes are on their way over here" she giggled.
Lily took a deep breath and began picking at the fraying seam of her towel, at least Madeline would have something else to occupy her mind instead of her family disasters. She knew that if she looked up Madeline would be gushing with excitement and her ego would be inflating like an oversized balloon.
"Hey, my mate and I were wondering if you ladies would like to come to a party tonight?" a deep, husky voice emanated from a tanned, curly haird 'beach ready babe, as Madeline would call him.
Madeline peeled her sunglasses off and nibbled on the arm seductively. She was looking him up and down, taking him all in.
"I guess that would depend on who's asking?" she smiled sweetly, her eyes gleaming with a mischievious fire.
He chuckled, clearly entertained by her flirting.
"Im Gavin and that guy, over there, that's Zac" he smiled cheekily.
Madeline pursed her lips and then suddenly reached for her phone. She toyed with it between her fingers for a second and then handed it to him.
"Flick me a text later and I'll see if we can make time for it" she winked at him.
"Are we really going to go?" Lily moaned.
This wasnt really her idea of a fun evening, attending a party that a pair of strangers had invited them to.
Madeline rolled her eyes whilst staring at her reflection, this was her third outfit change. She tugged at the peach coloured material, it didnt leave much to the imagination which Lily thought was probably the look she was going for.
"You can wear this one. It's perfect for you" Madeline grinned while holding up a vintage inspired black polka dot dress.
It was shorter than any vintage dress would be but Lily couldnt help but think it was stunning. Madeline knew that Lily had always wanted to wear it, it reminded her of the main character in one of her favourite books.
"You could also borrow my little red shoes and we could style your hair to suit." she said softly.
Lily stared at her. Despite how mean and bitter she could be, she could also make you feel like no-one else compared to you, like you were special.
The music was loud and thunderous, it made the windows of the quaint house shudder in their frames. A strobe light flashed furiously casting colours of blue, then pink, then green across the crowd of people. Lily wanted to cover her eyes and ears, it was chaotic, a sensory overload. The room was packed, tighter than a sardine can with swaying bodies and spilt liquor.
"I'll go grab us a drink and hopefully a beach ready babe each." Madeline winked over her shoulder as she strutted off through the sea of unfamiliar faces.
Lily stared, trying to find even the faintest familiar face.
She had been stood in the entranceway for what had felt like ages before she felt a light tap on her shoulder. A wave of relief washed over her at the thought that Madeline was back.
She spun on her heels and stopped in her tracks. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise as she laid eyes on a short brown haired girl.
"Jackie, what are you doing here?" she questioned, her voice coated in surprise.
"My brother is the host, this is my grandparents cottage. Are you here alone?" she peered around her, clearly looking for someone.
"I'm here with Madeline, she just went to get some drinks." Lily mumbled.
A shadow washed over Jackies face, her tiny blue eyes turned grey behind her thick glasses. She was clearly angry at the thought of Madeline being here.
"Well well well, if it isn't Tacky Jackie." a voice piped up from behind Lily. Madeline stepped out from the crowd and stared down at Jackie. Her face was smug and condescending.
"What do you want?" Jackie muttered, her eyes dropping to stare at her shoes.
A nasty grin spread across Madelines face.
"To be honest, I would like for you to leace, you're lowering the calibre of people at this party by ten fold. " she spat with a poisonous tone.
A sinking disappointment fell over her face, all of the emotion was gone leaving nothing but a pair of cold hollow eyes.
"Madz.." Lily started, trying to protest to her nastiness, but she bit her tongue when Madelines eyes met her own. They were filled with a dark fire that Lily didnt want to cross.
Jackie turned away and almost ran through the crowd, clearly fighting back tears.
Lily felt the need to run after her and comfort her, but she knew it was pointless. She could feel the guilt bubbling inside her. She hated the way that Madeline treated peope that she deemed beneath her, but whenever she tried to say something her efforts were swiftly shut down.
Ever since her fathers secret drug smuggling business had been discovered by her family and the townspeople, Madeline had been the only person to give her the time of day. Everyone else at school had been brainwashed by their parents that she and her mother had to be involved. People had begun crossing to the other side of the street when they saw Lily coming and the people she had once called friends had shunned her. Everyone except Madeline.
"God I wish she would take the hint, she's such a loser." Madeline tutted and spun on her heels, sending her long blonde hair flying over her shoulder.
"Ooh... beach babe at 10 o'clock" she whispered to Lily from behind her cup.
She slowly walked over to him and leant up against the wall, clearly flirting and batting her eyelashes.
Lily shook her head at the scene and wandered outside to perch on porch railing. The air was cool and crisp, the moon casting shadows that danced amongst the trees at the edge of the forest. It was significantly quieter out here than inside, she could almost hear the crickets chirping to one another in the darkness.
"You look like you're enjoying this party as much as I am." a thick husky voice cut her daydreaming short.
A tall dark haired boy moved to stand next to her, his skin was a soft olive in this light and his jaw was square and strong. He looked vaguely familiar but she couldnt put a fingure on his name.
"Uh.. yeah it's not my scene. My friend wanted to come." she nodded.
He smiled back at her, a half-crooked smile.
Lily could feel her cheeks starting to warm, she felt like her cheeks were glowing in the darkness and that he would easily see so she quickly turned away.
"Would you like to go for a walk? To get away from all.. well all of this for a moment" he asked politely.
Lily glanced at him, watching him carefully. She wasn't sure it would be smart to wander off into the night with this stranger.
"Dont worry, I really do mean a walk." he smirked sensing her hesitation.
She finally nodded. As much as she thought it was a terrible idea, it was still better than staying here alone and being accosted by drunk people.
They strolled down the road at a leisurely pace, the moonlight lighting the road enough for them to see.
Neither of them spoke for a while, they were both just enjoying the quiet. The simple sounds of the wind rustling in the trees, the stones crunching beneath their feet and the crickets singing in the trees.
"So why were you at this party?" Lily broke the silence.
He turned and stared at her with soft eyes.
"Uh.. my older brother made me come. We just moved here. He thought it would be good for me, to stop me being a recluse." he chuckled, clearly the idea amused him.
"Where did you move from?" she quizzed. It was nice that there was someone for her to talk to who didnt know her story, who didnt want to cross the street as she walked down it.
"Austria. My father was working in Vienna as an architect." He smiled and stared at the ground in front of them.
"Wow, that must have been amazing. I've heard its beautiful. I've never left little old Thorndon." she stammered.
"It was beautiful. You should go there sometime." He grinned.
"So what about you? What's youre story?" he pressed.
She felt the sinking feeling return to her stomach. This was the reality of her life, eventually even the people who didnt know about her fathers criminal antics would come to learn the truth and they too would leave. But not tonight, she wouldnt tell him, she wanted this feeling of freedom too badly.
"Well, nothing as interesting as living in Austria. My family were one of the original founding families of Thorndon so we still live in Greene Manor. Theres only my younger sister and my mother." She chirped.
"That's actually a pretty interesting story." he smiled.
She couldnt tell whether he was lying or being truthful, but she didnt care. She was too happy, too carefree in that moment right here.
"I'm sorry to be rude. I know you just started at Thorndon High but I cant quite remember your name." Lily asked gingerly , embarrassment made her face blush.
"Its Caleb... Caleb Wright."
By the time they had decided to turn around and return to the party the noise emanating from the house was even louder than before. It was an even more chaotic state than when they had left. It seemed that people had spilt out onto the front lawn.
There were couples kissing, girls failing to dance and people tripping and tripping everywhere.
"God. What a mess." Caleb muttered under his breath.
'I'm glad you pulled me away when you did because this is a warzone." Lily teased.
She laughed as a girl tried to dance and ended up flat on her back in the grass.
A loud crash echoed above the thudding of the music. Slowly the music faded into silence and the chaos of the night slowly faded as screams pierced the sky. A deathly silence fell over the party, the drunken meandering and outrageous behaviour turned into stares of confusion and muttering amongst groups of people.
A hand suddenly gripped her arm, she could feel the nails digging into her skin, and she felt the yank pull her away from the crowd.
"Madeline. What's going on? Where are you taking me?" she studdered.
Madeline didnt reply she just continued to tug her away from the cottage as fast as her stilletoes could carry them.
The car ride home was torturous. The tension weighing down on the pair of them like sacks of bricks. The air between them felt thick, heavy and foggy like black smoke.
Lily desperately wanted to ask what had happened but she could see, even in the dim lighting, that confronting Madeline about the topic wasnt a smart move. Her shoulders were squared and her eyes fixed on the road with a stoney, unwavering glare. Her knuckles had turned a faint shade of grey from gripping the steering wheel with such force.
The car eventually rolled to a stop outside Greene Manor. The metal fence separated the sidewalk and the start of the Greene estate. Large manicured rolling lawns bordered by forest land led up to a sandy coloured, brick mansion. The top floor had a long white decking with large traditional victorian windows. The building was clearly too big for their three person family but it was a family heirloom, so to speak.
Lily reached for the handle as the car came to a stop, but Madeline quickly cut her off.
"We were never at that party. Do you understand?" she growled, her voice was low and thick, her eyes never moved away from the road ahead.
"What happened?" Lily swivelled in her seat to face her, leaning in to try and catch her gaze.
It worked. Madelines eyes flickered and she turned to face Lily, a fake smile slowly crossing her face.
"Nothing. I just lied to my parents about what we were up to tonight, and after the last time we went out drinking" She paused, her eyes darting from side to side, measuring, studying Lily's face.
"I'd be grounded forever. You owe me remember." Her eyes lowered into a more threatening gaze, a darkness fell about her face like a shadow. It made her think twice about pushing her any further.
She heisitated for a moment and then hopped out of the car. Her feet had barely touched the sidewalk when Madelines black sedan sped off.
Lily had so many questions, so many thoughts were racing around her head, and she knew that she would never get the answers she wanted. At least not from Madeline.
Tonight would join the rest of Madeline's many secrets.