Zach (A College Bad Boy Romance)

By: Jane S. White

“I think we should check it out,” Aurora whispered as she reached for the heavy ring-shaped knob. Hesitating but finally unable to object to her own curiosity, Luna tightened her grip on her sister’s arm as they disappeared behind the door.


The downward spiral stairs seemed to go on forever and the cold damp air gave Aurora goose bumps. The well renovated and maintained wooden interiors they had seen earlier in the library were now replaced by walls made with icy stone bricks. Aurora held out one hand to use her phone as a flashlight and gripped Luna tightly with the other. The slight musk they had smelled earlier in the room upstairs was now thick and moldy. It stung their eyes and nostrils and they glanced at each other, both of them uncomfortable and nervous.

“This is dumb, I should have never come down with you. Let’s go back,” Luna said as she loosened her grip on Aurora and turned to head back up the spiral staircase.

“Wait! I think we’ve reached the bottom! Maybe it’s a dungeon!” Aurora exclaimed, running impulsively down the remaining steps and leaving Luna behind in the darkness.

“Damn it Aurie, I don’t have my phone with me!” Luna shouted in frustration as she rushed after Aurora, only to smash her face into her back five seconds later.

Aurora dropped her phone and almost fell forward as her sister bumped into her. Luckily, her quick reflexes helped her to grab on to the nearest standing object she could make out – a bookshelf. Unfortunately, the shelf couldn't withstand the impact and fell with a loud clap onto the stone floor. Before they knew it, the girls were coughing in a cloud of dust and could barely open their eyes.

Aurora fumbled blindly for her phone as Luna instinctively reached for the closest stone wall for shelter, holding an arm over her head in fear of falling objects. She hoisted herself up with every extruded edge she could find, patting in the dark until she suddenly felt something that resembled a light switch. With an upwards flick of her finger, a buzzing sound slowly permeated the room and a few dim lights flickered in the vast space in front of them.

“Good job Luna! I’m so proud of you!” Aurora laughed a little between coughs as the dust finally began to settle. A blanket of dead silence once again fell upon them, and Aurie glanced nervously at her twin. She knew Luna would never let her hear the end of this one, but it was well worth it. Turning her back on Luna’s angry stare, Aurora gasped as the scene in front of them became clear.

The rows of towering bookshelves didn’t seem to have an end to them, and their sizes made the library above seem almost miniscule. Every aisle was marked with a small plaque, engraved in Italian, and organized in a seemingly alphabetical matter. Fascinated, Aurora started to make her way down the narrow pathway that parted the rows, disappearing occasionally behind a rack. She then came to a dead stop.

“Astro....” Aurora started to read out softly as she brushed her palm across the plaque in front of her for a better look. “Astrologia!! Luna come here! There’s an Astrology section!” Aurora’s voice echoed across the room, startling Luna, who was still standing by the entrance with crossed arms. Rolling her eyes, Luna patted off the remaining dust on her pants and rucksack and reluctantly made her way towards Aurora.


The chilling voice reached Luna's ears, invoking goosebumps to stand out on her arm.

“What? Was that you Aurie? That’s not funny,” Luna scolded loudly as she squinted at the shadow of her sister’s figure, picking up pace.

“You heard that too?! ” Aurora suddenly jumped out into the light, startling Luna with a book held tightly against her chest. “I think it came from this…” Aurora held out the hefty bible-like book and gave her sister a serious look that only twins would understand - she had heard it too.

Bounded with wood that had been darkened by time, the two-inch-thick volume had a unique symbol engraved across its thick cover. The pages were so brittle that the girls were afraid to flip through it at first. The sisters stood in silence as they studied the drawing. Four different characters were carved around an “X” in perfect symmetry, and was further bounded by a ring of 12 signs – signs the sisters recognized instantly.

“It’s the twelve zodiacs!” The twins exclaimed in rare unison.

“This must be some kind of old manuscript on zodiacs,” Luna said in admiration as she ran her fingers around all four edges. Aurora nodded in agreement, surprised that her normally neurotic sister did not insist on putting the book back. Instead, Luna flipped open the cover and read..

The ram, the bull, the heavenly twins,

And next the crab, the lion shines,

The virgin and the scales,

The scorpion, archer, and the goat,

The man who holds the watering-pot,

And fish with glittering scales.

Then came the Sun and The Moon

Equal and Opposite, sharing the sky

While the sun lights the moon, peace can reside

Moon without Sun creates endless night

When the two are divided, destruction will reign

The light will go out, the twelve won't surface again

“That’s the song mom used to sing to us!” Aurora cried.

“But it has an additional verse at the end. How is that possible? This book must be centuries old…how would mom know it?” Luna mumbled as she started to slowly flip through the pages with Aurora beside her, reading and stopping at the occasional zodiac drawings that seemed almost alive. Mesmerized, the sisters quickly found themselves sitting against the bookshelf on the cold pebble floors, taking in everything the book had to offer.

The book spoke of a world unknown to man, a world where chaos once roamed during an ancient war. The Arche War, as they soon discovered it was named, brought chaos and darkness upon the universe until one day a mysterious sorceress appeared. Using her powers, the sorceress summoned four celestial beasts and twelve zodiac guardians, eventually restoring balance amongst the worlds.

To ensure peace, the sorceress assigned a beast to each of the four hemispheres. The West had the Water Dragon and Scorpio, Cancer and Pisces as its guardians. The South, the Fire Phoenix with Aries, Leo and Sagittarius. The Swift Pegasus watched over the East with Gemini, Libra and Aquarius, and finally the North – the Stone Tiger amid Taurus, Virgo and Capricorn. The sorceress, along with the celestial beasts and guardians, reigned in harmony until she disappeared five hundred years later.

“Is this some kind of history book? A fairy tale of some sort?” Aurora leaned in further, as if she was being sucked in.

“I’m not sure, but I can't seem to stop reading it. And look at this. The writing stops after mentioning a Holy Selenelion War. And the latter half of the book are all blank pages,” Luna said as she rapidly turned through the rest of the pages, eager to read on. But before she could finish, the bookshelves started shaking violently.

“Earthquake! Take cover!” Aurora screamed as she instinctively covered her sister’s body with her own. Dust once again fell onto the world around them and everything went black.

Chapter 3

“Argh…where are we?” Aurora grunted as she looked up groggily and tried to survey her surroundings. Light was barely existent under the dense canopy of the forest around her and the soil beneath her felt icy and wet. As her vision slowly adjusted to the darkness, Aurora reached out for Luna – only to discover that her twin was nowhere to be found.

“Luna! Luna! Where are you?!” Aurora frantically stood up, shouting into the night as she climbed and stumbled over scattered stones, panic striking her in the gut.

“Don’t touch me! Please stop…” A barely audible and muffled voice emerged from within the woods and Aurora knew it was Luna instantly - she could feel her twin’s terror through her own body. Breaking into a sprint, Aurora ran into the shadows.


Luna cried out in fear as two large beasts approached her, snarling viciously. They approached her, eyeing her through beady slits. They looked like boars, but were much bigger and more frightening than any animal she had ever seen. They were pulling against the confines of a harness, that was attached to the hands of three hideous men.

“What we have here?” one of them asked, eyeing the other men with delight. “Looks like I found me a damsel in distress.”

“Leave her alone, man,” the second man said. “We're already in enough trouble with the Guardians as it is.

“Can we at least see if she's got any food on her?” the tallest, ugliest man of all asked.

The men grunted their approval and began to approach her, their beasts snuffling and grunting ominously. She tried to sit up and run away but before she had the chance, one of the men was gripping her hard by the wrist. One of the giant boars gripped the edge of her pantleg and began chewing on it, pulling her jeans roughly from her body. She closed her eyes, unable to move and afraid to see what was going to happen next.

Suddenly, all movements stopped – followed by three loud thuds. Luna could feel her arms freed and slowly opened her eyes. A pair of dark purple eyes were staring back and a man in a dark cape was leaning over her, his face barely visible. With a swift movement, he took off his cape and covered Luna up.

The hooded stranger had wide shoulders and a perfect jawline framed by short untamed stubble. His hair was long and dark, and his purple eyes glistened with gloom. A mark resembling the letter “m” could be barely seen creeping down his neck. Was it a birthmark? A tattoo maybe? Luna studied her hero in awe, completely taken away by his enigmatic aura.

“What are you doing here this time of night?” he asked, his tone emotionless.

“Get away from her!”

Aurora took the tall man by surprise as she shoved him with everything she had, knocking him off his feet and causing him to fall over. “You sick bastard, get away from my sister!” She held her arms out in a protective stance and stared at the mysterious man with distaste, her amber eyes burning intensely into him.

Stunned for a split second, he locked his gaze with Aurora for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, the man broke into a silent chuckle as he quickly regained his footing. “You’re welcome little lady,” he said as he bowed with a smirk and vanished into the night as quickly as he had appeared.

“Easy, Aurie,” Luna breathed with a soft laugh. “That guy saved me.”

“Oh, he...” Aurora stared in the direction the man had disappeared. “Oops..”

“Yeah, ” Luna said, lifting herself with a soft, pained moan. Aurora rushed to her side and helped her sister up as gently as she could.

“Are you all right? I heard...” Aurora's voice cracked as she recalled the helpless pain she felt her twin had been in just a few moments beforehand.

“I'm fine. I'm lucky that guy was there to help me. I doubt you could have taken all three of them on.”

“Hey, you never know! Josh was showing me some moves!”

“I seriously doubt Josh's wrestling moves would have done the trick,” Luna said, smiling despite herself. She straightened her glasses, which had been pushed up onto her forehead during the attack.

“Well they've been pretty useful in bed…”

“Ew,” Luna said, holding her hand up to silence her sister. “I don't need to know any more about Josh. I've dealt with him enough for one day.”

Aurora smiled mischievously but kept her mouth shut, which was generally very difficult for her. Her twin appreciated the effort though. She had become Aurora's main secret keeper over the years, and had inadvertently allowed her twin to become extremely comfortable with over-sharing.

Luna got unsteadily to her feet, Aurora hovering close by, brushing off leaves and dirt that were dirtying her twin's sensible white blouse. Aurora scanned the ground for her sister's jeans, but they were nowhere to be seen. They looked around, taking in their surroundings. It suddenly struck them both that they were no longer in Italy.

“What is this place?” Aurora asked, looking up into the tree's foliage. “…Something feels familiar about it.” She mumbled. It wasn't even the same time of day as it had been in the museum. She knew she hadn't blacked out for long – her watch stated that only five minutes had passed since then. But in her body, it seemed like they had been gone for centuries.

“More like, when is this place?” Luna asked. She agreed – there was something very acquainted about the woods here. Something comforting. And the smell reminded her of their mother.

She looked down at the odd cape that the mysterious man had left draped over her body. He had taken her breath away – the intense gaze he fixed on her still seemed to be lingering in the air between them, private and captivating. She felt like he was still with her. Maybe she could somehow feel him through his cape. She wrapped it around herself as she began searching for her jeans in the brown leaves scattered over the forest floor.

“When is this place? What do you mean?” Aurora asked, frowning. Although it was comfortable, almost homey, the whole situation felt odd and unexpected. It was disorienting, and she couldn't get used to the feeling this place gave her, like they were suspended somewhere in time.

“You didn't see what those guys were wearing,” Luna said, her silver eyes narrowing in concentration. “It was strange. It looked like they walked right out of those illustrations in that book we were -”

The book. The twins looked at each other, their hearts quickening. Whatever had happened to them had everything to do with the book they had found in the museum, the one that had the song their mother used to sing to them as young girls. The song had felt mysterious even then. Now it had taken on a whole new depth, and, coincidentally, it even had a new verse.

“We have to find out what's going on,” Aurora said. “At least before lunch time.”

“You're always thinking of your stomach,” Luna said, shaking her head. “But look, the sun is setting here. It's already way past dinner time. I swear, it should only be around noon.”

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