Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Paranoid

Alma Azura Celia

Grace Miller is a normal senior in high school—she's preparing for college and has a crush on her best friend. But when the diary of a missing classmate appears on her front porch, everything changes. As friendships unravel and secrets are revealed, Grace may now be in danger. Who can she trust? And what really happened to the missing classmate? And, most importantly...can Grace figure it out before she ends up facing the same fate?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Extreme Violence/Gore, Kidnapping, Violent Death)

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Paranoid - Book cover
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

Paranoid

Alma Azura Celia

Grace Miller is a normal senior in high school—she's preparing for college and has a crush on her best friend. But when the diary of a missing classmate appears on her front porch, everything changes. As friendships unravel and secrets are revealed, Grace may now be in danger. Who can she trust? And what really happened to the missing classmate? And, most importantly...can Grace figure it out before she ends up facing the same fate?

Age Rating: 18+ (Content Warning: Child Abuse, Domestic Violence, Extreme Violence/Gore, Kidnapping, Violent Death)

1: Chapter 1

Sleepless nights were how I spent the last two weeks. All those nights spent by me drowning myself in textbooks and notes.

The inefficiency of my study time also resulted in endless stressful thoughts of how good I would do on the exam.

Not only that, overnight studying had also made me physically and mentally exhausted from the stress and sleep deprivation.

This habit is one of my never-ending bad habits that keep on coming back on every exam day or week, and no, I never learned my lesson from that.

I should have relearned everything after school to prevent the stress and fatigue from studying overnight. But in reality, I was too fucking lazy to do that.

And besides, after school is when you should be relaxing. It is not the time to relearn anything from school.

Spending after school time watching a movie, reading a novel, or hanging out with friends is one of the ways to relax.

But still, I need to fix my studying habits for the better. That is definitely not good for my physical as well as my mental health in the long run.

Although the midterm exam is finally over today, the anxiety about my exam results still haunts me. I know I did my best, but I’m still a little nervous about the score I will receive.

Fuck it, I won’t let the thoughts of my midterm exam ruin my day. I’m going to spend it the best I can, and that is by reading the sci-fi novel I haven’t finished yet.

A smile is already plastered onto my face as I step into my cozy bedroom. I close the door behind me and drop my bag by the side of my bed.

My body falls onto my bed, and I let out a contented sigh, closing my eyes as I soak in the relaxation of a study-free night.

I jump back to my feet and shuffle towards my bookshelf, pick up a book, and go back to my bed. I get onto my bed and lie on my stomach.

After putting my playlist on, I start to read the novel at hand. Engrossed with the story, I keep reading one word after another.

As I get to the book ending, I hear a subtle knock from my house front door.

I wonder who would that be.

It’s impossible if my parents are already home by now, considering they’re busy most of the time.

And besides, if they’re already home, they can unlock the door with their own keys. So, who could that be?

I quickly put a bookmark on the book and put off my playlist. I jog out of my room and go straight to the front door. I open the door, expecting to see someone, but find no one there.

I glance around the street and see no sign of people around. Some birds are flying off a tree. As I observe the empty street, a thought strikes me, and a smile appears on my face.

It must be Zane and Parker—the twins next door—doing another harmless prank on the neighborhood. Silly little boys.

Zane and Parker have always been the pranksters of the neighborhood since the day they moved here. They live next to my house, to my right, to be exact.

I remember the first time they moved in. They startled me as they tapped and shouted behind me while I trimmed some roses from the garden.

They laughed and giggled at my silly reaction, being adorable as they already are. I ended up giving them some of the roses as their welcome gift.

The twins seemed happy by the present and ran towards their new home with big smiles on their faces.

I take a step back into the house, still smiling at the memory, and then notice a neat cardboard box on the doormat. A package? Whose package?

I eye the box in suspicion, trying to remember if my parents are expecting a package, but find nothing. I know my memory is not that bad because I remember most of my parents’ words.

The box gives me a doubtful present as I realize it has no label attached to it. There’s no way an official shipment company would send a package like this.

My eyes widen as a terrifying thought crosses my mind.

What if the box has explosives in it?

There’s a possibility for that since my father is the police chief of the town.

I don’t know what he’s been up to, but it does seem serious since he’s been getting many stupid, harmless threats from an unknown group lately.

The issue has escalated high from those harmless threats if this is a bomb.

There’s only one way to be sure.

I lower my body to the ground, blocking out other noises to catch any sound from the box, but hear nothing from it.

I kneel on the floor and move my hand carefully towards the box, trying not to make any sudden movements that could probably detonate the possible explosive inside.

My heart beats erratically as my hand gets closer to the box lid, afraid that I might trigger the bomb to explode.

I take in a deep breath and lift the top of the box carefully. I lift it higher and higher until I get a view of what’s inside.

I stare at its contents in confusion, eyebrows furrowing but relieved to not find anything dangerous inside.

Instead of a ticking explosive, a book sits inside of the box. Not an ordinary book, but a girl’s diary, judging from the look of it.

Cute stickers and photos of many celebrities adorn the cover of the book. Whose diary is this? What is it doing on my porch?

At least it’s not a bomb, but what the hell? I don’t think this should be here at all. With curiosity swelling inside me, I take the diary out of the box.

I flip over the book cover and stare over the written name on the page.

Miranda Cole.

My eyebrows furrow more as I scan the familiar name again, trying to remember the oddly familiar name.

I wonder where I’ve heard her name as it does sound familiar, but nothing comes to my mind.

I have to get this back to her. She must’ve been looking for this everywhere. Whoever has stolen her diary and brought it here is a cruel person.

It probably has her deepest secrets, and if it got in the wrong hands, they could leak her secrets. If that also happened, she could be embarrassed for the rest of her life.

The reason why her name sounds familiar probably is because we’re attending the same school.

I’ll try to go and find her on Monday, and maybe ask my friends if they know her. Perhaps, I’ll be able to get her and give the diary back to her.

I put the book back into the box and then bring it with me. I lock the door and go back to my room, leaving the door ajar. I put the box on my nightstand and sit on the side of my bed.

I stare at it, still not sure of what it is doing here. I let out a sigh and lie on my back, staring at the dull, white ceiling above me.

My mind is full of tangled thoughts and questions about Miranda’s diary. I shut my eyes, trying to shut out the endless questions.

After my mind calms down a bit, I open my eyes and lie on my side, staring at my dark phone screen when it suddenly chimes and lights up.

I pick my phone up and look at the group chat, reading the recent message from Alex. He told us he wants to tell a joke, definitely another corny joke, but that’s just how he is.

I reply to his text, asking him what it is as I smile.

AlexDo you know why a bike can’t stand on its own?

Ashton responds with a “no” while Taylor replies to it with a “why.” I smile in anticipation of his dumb, corny joke, just like any other jokes he has told us before.

Alex finally replies to us, and I let out a snort after reading his reply.

AlexBecause it’s two-tired! Ahahahahaha

Never change, Alex.

GraceHahahaha. How fucking funny.

I keep texting with them, and then my shoulder shakes as I let out a burst of silent laughter from reading another dumb joke from Xavier.

I check the time on my phone, only to realize I’ve been texting with my friends for about one hour until most of them have to go do their own stuff.

I put down my phone, feeling my eyes a little irritated from staring at it for too long. I rub my tired eyes and roll onto my back, starting to feel more sleepy with each passing second.

My eyes drift unconsciously towards the box, and I stare at it with a frown. Fighting the sleepiness, I pull myself to sit and grab the diary.

I put it on my lap, holding it as I contemplate whether to read it or not. If I do so, I’m violating Miranda’s privacy. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.

A little reading won’t hurt, right? Besides, there might be something informative in there, like where she lives or if she actually went to the same school as I do.

I stare at Miranda’s diary, still in doubt of my decision on reading it. With a pang of guilt, I press my lips together in doubt but flip the book open anyway.

I skim through the first few pages of the book. They’re full of cute and beautiful sketches and drawings of landscapes, cartoon-like characters, animals, and some random doodles.

Wow, she’s talented.

My eyes finally meet the first page full of Miranda’s handwriting.

I shift in my seat, an uneasy feeling pit in my stomach. I nervously flip through the pages, scanning through them for any information about her that might be useful, but find none.

None of the pages had anything about her address or school. I flip through the pages again and back to the first page full of the handwriting.

I read the first few words of the page, which indicate the time it was written.

27 November 2015

After staring at the date for a while, curiosity finally takes over me, and I continue to read the writings.

Today is definitely the best day ever! I can’t believe that my crush since 4th grade asked me to be his girlfriend! Today feels so surreal.

I mean, how could someone good-looking and intelligent like him want me, an average girl, to be his girlfriend. We haven’t even gone on a date yet.

I’m also not famous at school, like him. Many popular girls in school should’ve caught his attention more than me, like Grace Miller.

Hold up. Miranda knows me? But how could I not know about her? Or forget her? She has written about me as a popular girl, but I don’t think I am that popular.

I’m just as ordinary as she could probably be. Maybe hanging out with some of the most good-looking boys at school makes people think so.

They look so close to each other and seem happy with one another. Grace does always look so close to her friends, especially the boys.

Now I know for sure that Miranda is talking about one of the boys, but who?

She might be talking about Xavier, Calvin, Dylan, Alex, Ashton, Tyler, or Collin. Well, only one way to find out.

The question of why he chose me keeps me restless and confused. I mean, I’m no one special.

Putting it aside, I’m happy that he wants me to be his girlfriend because that’s what I’ve always dreamt of. That life-changing question was a dream of mine that finally came true.

He had also asked me to go on a date with him, which is our first date! I don’t think my life has been better than this before.

As soon as I got back home, I went straight to my closet and searched for the perfect dress for my first date with him.

I ended up choosing that baby blue dress I bought recently and paired it with my favorite pair of white flat shoes.

On the date, he brought me to the cinema. After that, we strolled under the moonlight and the sky full of bright stars. How romantic of him! I was smiling most of the time.

He kept saying nice things to me as he smiled gently at me, and when he told me that I was also his crush since a long time ago, I felt so giddy and happy.

I guess that’s how people get when they say that they have butterflies in their stomachs. Never thought I would experience it firsthand.

We talked about a lot of things as we strolled under the moonlight until it was time for me to go back home. He drove me home safely, and we ended the night with a sweet kiss.

I never thought the night could get any better. I can’t wait to see him tomorrow! I hope our relationship will last forever.

I stare at the diary as the gear in my head turns. Who the heck is dating Miranda Cole between the boys? Why isn’t he telling us that he’s dating someone? Why is he hiding this?

And it just doesn’t sound right as the boys are some of the famous guys in school, considering rumors about them spread faster than a contagious disease.

The knocking from the front door breaks my train of thoughts. I stare out my door as I wonder who else could that be.

If that’s the same person as the one who left Miranda’s diary, dropping off another weird shit, I fucking swear to God I will rant until their ears burn like fucking hell.

I rush towards the window, hoping I’ll find the culprit of the one who left Miranda’s diary here. Instead, I spot a familiar motorbike on my driveway.

I quickly head downstairs, knowing who it is, as I hear another knock on the door. I unlock the door and open it, smiling at the person standing in front of me.

“Hey, Dylan.”

Dylan is one of those popular boys from school, who’s also my best friend. He has thick, dark brown hair that’s cut short and a light complexion.

He stands at 185 cm tall, towering over my 165 cm height as his dark brown eyes stare back into my deep blue eyes.

He’s dressed in his usual attire, a black leather jacket, a black T-shirt, a pair of black jeans, and a pair of combat boots. Yeah, I know, I know.

He sounds like those cliche bad boys that come straight out of a fiction book, but he’s not really that kind of person.

He’s definitely kind but can be annoying too. How he dresses makes people perceive that he is one of those people.

He grins at me. “Hey. Can I come in?” I nod and take a step to the side, giving him a way to walk into the house.

He contemplates for a quick second and then shakes his head. “Forget about it. I won’t be long, anyway.”

“Okay, whatever you say.” I shrug and smile, stepping in front of him. “So, what brings you here?”

He shoves his hand into his trouser pocket and holds out a pen. It’s not just an ordinary pen but my favorite pen. He borrowed it in class earlier because he ~forgot~ to bring a pen ~on~ exam day.

Typical of him. Anyway, my cute pen has an ombre colour of blue and purple with a mercat (mermaid-cat) or purrmaid charm dangling from the top of it.

The purrmaid ornament is definitely what makes it my favorite.

“I want to return this.” He holds out the pen for me, and I take it gratefully.

Huh, he seldom returns my pens. He usually keeps it for himself and never returns it. What’s the difference with this one?

I look up at him with a teasing smirk on my face as I lean onto the doorway. “Why are you returning this? You never return any other of my pens.”

He rubs the back of his neck, a sheepish smile on his face as he stares away with embarrassment.

“It’s too girly,” he grimaces. “You know, the color of the pen...and whatever is this.” He pokes at the purrmaid charm.

“Of course, I can’t keep it like any other pens. It makes me look silly.” He chuckles, and I scoff out a laugh.

As his chuckle dies down, he folds his arms over his chest, and a smirk appears on his face. “I can get you some pens in return for those pens you’ve lost, you know?”

“No, thank you very much. I can buy my own pens.” I frown at him jokingly with my arms crossed over my chest. He chuckles at me, shaking his head slightly.

“I have to go now. See you soon,” he smiles.

“That’s it? You came all the way here to just return my silly pen?” I say as he turns around. He turns back to me and shrugs, grinning at me.

“Yeah.”

I scoff at him, shaking my head. “You’re weird. You can return this on Monday. It’s not like I need this now, anyway.”

“I was on my way home, and I thought to myself, why not return this now?

It’s also better that I return this now, or the pen will end up just like any other pen of yours. Lost and forgotten,” he grins. I scowl, holding my pen close to my chest.

“Oh, hell no. You’re going to die if you lost this one,” I threatened him.

“That’s why. I still want to live, thank you,” he grins.

“Thank you for returning this.” I smile, and he nods, smiling back at me.

“No problem. I have to go now. See you soon.”

He walks towards his motorbike and immediately puts his helmet on. He ignites the engine, and it roars to life in a few seconds.

He turns to me, flashing me his boyish grin, and drives through the vacant street. I stare at my pen, shaking my head with a smile on my face, and step back into the house.

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