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What are you?
Veralex was walking through the halls when she first saw him. There he was, tall, athletic, and beautiful. Alex. Feeling the weight of her stare, he turned and gave her a lazy grin and started walking towards her. Her eyes flickered away, hoping to find some distraction. When he got up to her, he cocked his head to the side, making his blonde hair swish.
“Do you need me, Vera?”
Veralex blushed slightly at the endearing nickname. No one had ever called her that before. In her school she was known as ‘Lex.’ She nodded. “Kinda. Mr. Gio—he’s the principal— wants me to give you a tour of the school. Since your new and all that,” she added hastily.
A muscle at the side of his mouth jumped. He turned back to the crowd of admirers that he was with before. Well, to Alex they were just friendly people. But to a girl’s eye, they were his fan club. “Sorry, I gotta run. See you at lunch?”
Joanna and the girls nodded eagerly in reply, and she flashed him her winning smile. But Alex was already turned towards Veralex. She threw Joanna and apologetic smile but Joanna had already given her a look of hatred. Nose upturned, she flipped her hair and walked away with dignity.
Veralex sighed. They always hated me, she thought. Even though I had a lot of friends, they always have hated me. Veralex recalled what her friends had told her, that Joanna talked behind her back. ‘She’s no one. She thinks she is but in reality, she’s really a little girl who bats her lashes for help and everyone comes running. She’s not even blonde!’ Veralex blanched and started walking. Alex stayed at her side. Time to get to work.
“Well, that’s the lab over there...We don’t go there much because last time—You okay?” Alex had a funny expression on his face, a mixture of mischief and amusement.
“Yeah I’m all right. I just thought you were kidding about the tour. Those girls were…something.” He looked at the floor and shook his head slowly.
Veralex raised her brows. “Something?”
“Yeah. Bubbly, kinda weird.”
“I’d think you’d be used to stuff like that.” Veralex regretted it the moment the words left her mouth.
“Oh, no reason,” she said lamely.
Alex smiled at her, but his eyes were borderline-conceited. “Do I still need a tour?”
“Well, you don’t need one.”
Alex beamed. “Great. You wanna hang?”
Veralex blinked. “Right now?” He nodded and Veralex grinned. “Sure.”
As soon as she said those words, Alex’s cell vibrated. “Sec.” He flipped his phone open, and Veralex walked away, trying not to listen in. “….yes? ....oh….right now? ...is it…here?”—He glanced at Vera—“okay.” The phone snapped shut. He looked at her with contrite eyes. “I have to go. No. I’m not avoiding you like those girls. It’s urgent.”
Veralex’s expression fell slightly, yet she smiled at him. “Okay. See you.”
“See you.” Alex started to turn, but he balked. “Hey can I call you?”
At that she had to laugh. “Do you say that to everyone?” Bold, Veralex thought, I’m being bold.
“Oh, Vera, you’re not everyone.” Alex offered his cell phone.
She blushed. “All right, then.” She took the phone, and tapped in her number. Handing it back, she said, “Have fun.”
Alex’s smile broadened, as if enjoying an inside joke. “Will do.”
She turned around and started walking down the hallway. His phone was brand new, the latest model, she though absently. The sun shined through the narrow windows that covered the outer walls. It’s really quiet— Wait, since when did this school let you use cell phones? Veralex looked back to warn him but—
—Alex already disappeared.
She rolled her eyes wordlessly and went to her locker. He was so cryptic, and Veralex knew that even though they just met. Taking her bio book, she recalled him wanting to hang out, and then disappearing without telling anyone except her. It made her feel special, a warm feeling in her gut, but she quickly crushed it. She couldn’t afford to hope now. Everyone at Stanford High was probably drooling over him. Joanna, the backstabber, or Haley, the super-talented, probably called dibs on Alex already. From Joanna’s expression earlier, it was probably true.
A roughly familiar voice interrupted her train of thought. “Hello, haven’t seen you here before.”
Veralex jumped and slammed her locker door, scaring the intruder in the process. “David! Don’t do that!”
David shushed her before she could call any attention. God, for such a small girl, she was loud. “Lex, calm down. It’s just me.” He held up his hands in surrender. David swept the dark hair out of his eyes and stared at her, startled at her vehement reaction.
Biting her lip, Veralex self-consciously tucked her own dark hair behind her ear. David was the only other person in her group of friends with dark hair— the rest were blondes, or at least had light brown hair. The result of hanging around with the preps, she thought, suddenly feeling very tired. Something occurred to her out of nowhere—she was losing her touch.
“Are you skipping class?”
He grinned. “Gotcha.” David suddenly felt mischievous. He pushed Veralex up against the lockers, so that he was practically breathing down her neck as he said, “Only to be with my Lex. Now what have you been doing?” His lips playfully grazed her cheek, moving to her earlobe.
She hit him. David backed off, amusement in his eyes. “Don’t do that! We’re practically siblings! What if—what if someone sees?” What if Alex sees?
“So no brotherly love?”
“That’s incest,” she muttered, low. The statement came out husky though, and inevitably, sexy. Veralex winced inwardly.
That made a glint spark in his eye. He mimicked her husky tone. “Good or bad?”
Veralex laughed, pushing him away before someone really caught them. She didn’t want any rumors spreading around. Luckily it was thirty minutes into class, and mostly everyone was in class. Mostly.
“Where ya going? Does this mean our romantic episode is over?” He jogged up behind me.
“Hm, when was this?” she said quietly as she continued slowly to class, stalling as much as possible. “Since when, since when? Ah, is this where I declare my undying love for you, oh lovely David, oh lovely Mr. Lee?”
He elbowed her shoulder playfully, and Veralex suddenly felt very small. God he was tall now. Very tall, considering the Asian stereotype. I never noticed, or maybe I’m just short, she thought.
He finally realized where she was going. “Agh, Lex, your not going to class are you? I thought maybe…” David wagged his brows suggestively. When she gaped, he laughed. “For such a prude, you are so dirty-minded. I didn’t mean that!”
“Okay, maybe a little.”
“Whatev, Dave. You’re just waiting until Brianna gets back from her trip to London, then you’re planning on—”
He exhaled noisily. “Oh, please. That girl was boring. She kept blabbering about how exciting it was to be with me. And you know what? She was cheating on her boyfriend. As soon as she gets back there is NO way I am doing THAT with her.”
“Well, you can have Joanna. Alex practically rejected her this morning. She’ll be in tears, looking for a shoulder to cry on.” Okay, maybe a little over exaggerated there, but who cares?
“Oh, my lovely Joanna? Please. That girl is like a sister to me.”
Veralex raised her brows. “And I’m not?”
David ignored that. “Speaking of Joanna, who rejected her? Is that our golden boy?”
“Yeah,” he confirmed dryly. They stopped walking now, and were leaning against the walls. “First day here and everyone’s enamored,” he spat the word. “Especially the coach. Word is that he’s unbeatable in basketball. Poor Phil, he must be devastated.”
Veralex snorted, unsurprised. He looked like the type that would be good at sports. She thought about David’s quarterback position, and wondered if Alex was any good at football. Instead, she said, “Ah, yes, he’s not team captain anymore, I’m guessing?”
David shrugged as they reached the doors of her bio class. “And here’s your stop, princess.” He bowed low and winked. “No man, golden or not, will ever take my heart. I’ve already been enamored by my dark lady.”
“Oh, no. David Lee, star quarterback of the Stanford High football team, bringing up Shakespeare and declaring his love?” She laughed and curtsied playfully. David went rigid.
“Er. Remember what happened in middle school with the elbows? Yeah, don’t touch them behind your back. And, uh… damn girl,” that came out as a growl, “don’t pick anything over with that on, just kick it over until it’s safe. You know how Mr. Roman gets when—”
She shushed him and giggled. “Okay, okay! He’s right there! Now you choose to be all big brother on me?”
David’s lips twitched as he considered that. “Sure.” He shoved his hands in his pockets and began to turn. “See ya!” Veralex waved bye before knocking on the door.
As expected, a string of reprimands was followed. Mr. Roman demanded a note, but she told him that she’d been on a tour, hoping he wouldn’t question it further. That hope went in vain, and she explained that she’d been with Alex for a look around the school. That brought a few looks and whispers from the class.
Taking a seat, Veralex glanced quickly at her outfit. Okay, maybe David was right. She’d gone for simple and cute but in high school, anything with a short skirt is the opposite of that. She’d chosen a violet-blue shirt, with virtually no sleeves and a low scoop neck, and a matching plaid skirt. It was supposed to bring out her ink black hair and eyes, but all it did was bring out her body instead.
Class was, as usual, tedious. Everything in junior year bored Veralex to death; all she wanted to do was get on with senior year. As she went to her locker, she dodged comments and questions from other students about anything and everything. ‘Hey, do you have notes for trig? I totally got knocked out!’ or ‘Um, I heard about Alex. Was he good?’ Well, hell. Already? Go ahead, she thought to no one in particular, shoot me now!
She opened out her locker and there sat a small folded paper. Rolling her eyes, she took it, thinking it was from David or Liam, or any one of those guys who loved doing this. In a suspiciously familiar scribble, it read: Meet me @ Wing A1. –Alex
She feigned outrage and ripped up the note, stuffing the remaining pieces in her bag. Beneath all that false rage was a flicker of hope. But she wouldn’t hope. No, not yet. Not after that…
She fled from the hall, going downstairs to Wing A1. Of course he would pick there, she thought lazily, no one goes there and I bet somehow he knew that.
Instead, she saw Joanna, leaning against the wall looking like she belonged. “Is Alex here?”
Joanna turned her head and smiled. “No.”
Veralex blinked. “All right.” See? This is why she couldn’t hope. No, no, no. It was probably a joke. Maybe a senior, or someone.
“Lex…” Veralex turned, and she couldn’t help but stiffen. When Joanna used that tone of voice, it was never good. Never good, at all. Joanna took a step towards her, eyes fixed on Veralex as if she were prey. “You do know what dibs is right…?”
Veralex nodded, so Joanna continued. “Where’s Alex? He wasn’t here at lunch today…He told me that he’d be there this morning…before you brought him on that ‘tour’” She cocked her head and clicked her tongue. Before I could protest, she continued, “Well, then you should know that I have dibs on Alex. But why have I been hearing things? No, no. Not good. I shouldn’t be hearing things about you and Alex.” She purred his name.
“I didn’t do anything, Jo.” Joanna flinched from the old nickname— she’d preferred Anna, but middle-school names stick. Veralex waved her hand dismissively and turned to go. Without bothering to turn, she said, “But I couldn’t say the same thing about you. I shouldn’t be hearing things about you and Brandon.” She heard her gasp, and before Joanna could say another word, Veralex took off.
Stupid, stupid, stupid! Why? Joanna, that—that witch! Veralex should’ve known she did it, she should’ve known from that stupid note! This time, with true rage, she did take out the note and ripped it to even smaller pieces. Unless someone really liked making puzzles, then they couldn’t be able to read this.
Of course, that last blow to Joanna was a little harsh, she thought as she rushed outside. Everyone knows about her affair with Brandon while her boyfriend, Jared, was still away. It was unheard of to cheat on Jared. No one cheated on him; he was the world’s perfect boyfriend. Veralex fumbled for the keys in her bag while sneaking into the hidden parking lot behind the school. No one bothered going there, because people thought it was ‘haunted.’ Yeah, right.
She heard a scream, a gargle, and a moan. Veralex froze in place. Okay, neither of those was from pleasure. Oh, crap. She peeked through the trees and saw two figures, standing in the shade, speaking. Veralex strained to hear more.
“If you don’t tell me where she is…” A male voice threatened.
A shriek, and then a reply, “She’s here! She’s here! I didn’t touch her!”
Veralex struggled to get closer. The figures were almost familiar, though one distorted. “Really? Why didn’t I see her?”
“I swear. I didn’t do anything!”
“Maybe not you, but did someone else lead her? Did someone lead our Vera off, maybe off a roof?”
The way he said Vera was familiar too. She stopped breathing. Only one person had ever called her Vera…
“No one led her off a roof.”
The man snorted. “But maybe somewhere else. I know you have people here. Now, get away from my sight before I strap iron onto your neck and leave it there.”
With a whimper, the other figure left, quickly. The man stood there for about half a second, and walked towards the exit of the parking lot. A head of golden hair caught Veralex’s sight, causing her to regain focus.
She stepped out of her hiding place. “Alex?”
He stiffened on a step, and let out a string of profanity. He got pretty creative, too. He turned. “Vera,” he said it not as a question, but with resignation. Veralex stepped into his little patch of shade near the trees, out of sight. “What are you doing here?”
This time Veralex stiffened. The sudden question brought up her defenses. “I should ask you the same thing.”
Alex frowned. “Sorry.”
Awkward silence followed, and then she dared another question. “What—what were you talking about there?” As soon as the words left her lips, she wasn’t sure if those words wouldn’t cost a life, like hers.
His face seemed blank, but she could see an undercurrent of panic. It shifted, and he was back to the way Veralex remembered—cocky. “Back where?”
Veralex shook her head dismissively with a small smile on her lips. Smart girl, Alex thought. She should keep out of this. Her dark eyes looked up into his, and she grimaced. “Alex, can we get out of here? It’s too dark.” She turned to leave, but reflexively, Alex grabbed her back into the shade. She took that as a game, and tugged him into the light. No! Alex thought, but it was too late.
It wasn’t that he was a vampire, hardly. It was just…in the light she would…
She gasped. “Alex! W-What—”
Regaining some control, she finished the question. “What are you?”
Veralex took in his now shining silver eyes, and wings bulging out of his back that she hadn’t caught before. He glowed—oh, he glowed. He was beautiful. Heartbreakingly beautiful, and she was so shocked. But she wasn’t afraid—no she wasn’t afraid. Why wasn’t she afraid?
Alex turned his eyes towards her, and didn’t even bother to prolong the inevitable. He took her into his arms, and pressed his mouth against hers. At first she was frozen, unmoving, but then she wrapped his arms around his neck and welcomed the kiss. In her mind she understood one word. One word before she broke away, and stared at Alex like she knew, like she understood.