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The Last Of Them [first 3 chapters]
I stared into the mirror at the unusual face. I didn’t recognize myself and the monster I’d turned into. I was scaring myself and the mean look on my face wasn’t charming. I wasn’t looking back as my emotions poured out onto the desk I was leaving behind. I wasn’t thinking as I stuffed my most love and needed belongings into a bag: my crystal cube with my captured memories of my mom, my money stash, my piercing cleaner, and my boyfriend’s engagement ring. I grabbed my guitar and swung it over my shoulder with the bag. Before I changed my mind I climbed out my window and left the world I’d changed. The world I’d stolen from and broken gladly let me leave as I closed my window and started life on my own. Again.
I let the air bite my face in the early December weather and I jumped. I jumped down onto the grass and rolled over. I stood up and started running. Damn it felt good to run again. The crisp promise of snow kissed my cheeks and my muscles started burning. I couldn’t stop or turn back. I couldn’t go back to that place. One of many foster homes I was abandoning, but hopefully social services wouldn’t find me. Hopefully I would get to make some decisions on my own. Quietly, I let my wings sprout and my fangs pop. I flew up into the air and out of the night.
Angel? Definitely not.
You’ll never guess this one. Suffocater. One of the few living among the regular people of Earth, but no way would I be able to tell the people who decided to call themselves my family. The few of us left were eighty-nine of us living all over the World.
Some say that after humans took over the planet that some of the other suffocaters found a way to travel to the other planets. But, I lived on Earth. What a fool I was to think that in a few thousand years it would be better. Living in foster homes, sometimes more than one a month, I didn’t really have many normal friends. The only friends I had were the friends I’d had for thousands of years. Belle, Greyer, Flight, and Danger were the only other kid suffocaters I knew and they lived spread out across the East coast. I knew where they were, but with us all living in foster families that were unaware that each of us could kill them in thirty or less seconds, it was hard to see each other unplanned. [When you fly in through the window of a suburban home in broad daylight it’s a little…attention sucking.]
Belle was a pretty, brunette, dark, daring, skater girl like me with better hair and legs. She was one of my best friends and piercing buddies. We regularly got piercings and each of us had so many in each ear. I had my lip pierced and my right ear was gauged. We looked weird dressed in black and dark purple a lot, but we weren’t Goth; just dare devils. She had been my longest friend. We’d known each other for a thousand years or so. Before our moms died in the fight against humans and suffocaters, they’d been best friends and we knew each other from then. Our dads had both skipped out on us when we were younger since they couldn’t handle the world of suffocaters ending, as we knew it. I remembered my dad being okay when he was around, but my mom had always said he had lifted himself to the dark side. We tried to blend in since we were really dangerous creatures, but my dad didn’t bother. He was more of a human eater.
Greyer was another one of my best buds. He and I met back when Belle and I were traveling to the East side of Warcroft [North America]. The kids that traveled were very brave and some didn’t make it. Luckily though the five us grouped together somewhere along the way and we stuck together. Greyer and Danger had been traveling together and were each a millennium older than us. Belle and I had actually lost track of exactly how many years old we were, but technically, every hundred or so years we aged one suffocater year. I didn’t know exactly how old I was, but I was about the age of a thirteen-year-old human. Greyer and Danger were each about fourteen. It’s hard to explain the way our age works so lets just go with thirteen and fourteen. Greyer was darn right hot. We dated a few years back and for us that was like a few weeks back. We got over it though. With the small number of suffocaters left, we had to remain together anyway. He was charming and funny and flirty and a player, but he couldn’t exactly make as many friendly friends as he wished because of his suffocating. That’s why us suffocaters worked out best together: when we kissed, we didn’t almost suck the life out of each other.
Flight was a blonde, delicate, sweet, smart suffocater that had met us along the way through one of the many battles of Warcroft. Then we were the five we grew to be. Flight had a boyfriend with her when we met, but they broke up along the way. He was nice but so much older than us, like seventeen. She had gorgeous wings and scales and was very beautiful. She was always so good to all of us and she didn’t even bother trying to get her hands on Greyer since she had it in her head that we were destined to be together anyway. Even though I was engaged to my human boyfriend, Zack.
Zack and I had been going out for a few years in human and I knew he was human but he got it. He was sixteen in human years and I was older than like his ancestors. We got along well though after I told him and he accepted the fact that I would be thirteen for the rest of his life and apparently he was in love with me. He wanted to live the rest of his life with me. I didn’t know if I was ready to be in love with someone who would only be alive for about a fifth of one of my suffocater years. By the time I was fourteen he would be dead.
Danger was hot too, but he was just like one of my brothers. We clicked like brother and sister and I never thought or hoped we would be more. He was always there for me. He seemed to be the most realistic of us five. The five of us hadn’t chosen to be friends, but we were forced. Being the only kids of our kinds that we figured would be around by the time it was over, we kind of stuck together for the journey. After surviving together in New York for a long time, we couldn’t imagine being without each other. But, we had to go that way eventually.
We clicked together and started living in what is now called New York. We stayed for a while and settled in. When we were about twelve though the world started to get up to date and more digital like it is today. So when the police found us living under a bridge, they took us all to social services. We all had a few foster homes in New York the first year and then we each gradually ran away and got relocated. We ran away so many times that none of us can probably even name most of the families we stayed with. Then we had to run away farther. We ended up all over the East coast. It took not that long to get to each other and we kept in good contact. We each had invented our own communication devices but in the end Greyer’s won and it was something close to a walkie-talkie but only the five of us could use it. He made more and we all used them until Greyer got a better idea. He clipped little things to each of our pants and little earpieces. We wore them for a while, but after a while they built themselves into ourselves. Our wings were kind of more like angel wings than dragon wings except for Flight, so her earpiece molded into her scales.
We could always contact each other, but sometimes they didn’t work indoors and I didn’t bother trying to work mine since I figured the others would probably be asleep or with their foster parents. So I flew for a while. It was around ten when I reached Miami. I flew over the beaches and many neighborhoods. I looked for an empty one and since it was summer there were a lot of bond fires. I couldn’t fly for much longer and had to land, so I quickly flew over to my destination. The normal sized home had smoke coming out of the chimney and the stone front shined in the light from the front room. I couldn’t just go knock on the door, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to stay if they knew I was there. I didn’t see the person I was looking for though as I flew low and under the radar. I swooped down onto a window and opened it from outside with my nails. They cut through the bottom and I lifted the window up. I could fix it later.
I climbed in and shut the window. I looked around at the walls and posters. Blink 182, Simple Plan, Maroon 5, Cute is What We Aim for, Head Automatica, and of course The Pussy Cat Dolls. The plaid blue comforter welcomed me as I plopped down on it and looked around. The messy rug was nothing compared to the opened closet. I didn’t dare look forward as I shut the door. I lay down and stared at the ceiling. I must’ve made some noise because slowly the door opened and my blue eyed, dark haired best friend came in with a baseball bat. Once he saw me lying on his bed, he put the bat down and closed the door behind him. I stood up and went to hug him. He wrapped his arms around me and I nestled my head into his neck. I urged my fangs to stay in my mouth and resisted the urge to playfully bite him. “Miss me?” I asked him as I pulled back.
“More than you know,” Greyer spoke and sat down on his bed. I sat down next to him and smiled at him. My green eyes eyed him up and down and I tried to forget about my wonderful boyfriend back in Jersey. I dropped my stuff and put my guitar against the wall. Greyer frowned and turned to me. “Again?”
“Yeah!” I said in my duh tone of voice.
Greyer put his finger to his lips and shushed me. “Quiet you’ll get me in trouble,” he said as he pulled my shirt closer to him so he could examine the red dusty splats on it. Blood was one of my most soothing ways to calm down at the time. Not to mention the more blood I released, the longer and easier I could fly.
“So what, we can be outta here in a minute,” I smiled without kidding.
Greyer laid back and I went back with him. “You know some of us are trying to stay in one place for longer than two months. Flight has been with her foster parents for four months now. I think Belle is going on three. Plus, I kind of like being here. These people are nice and I’m tired of living under bridges and parking lots before getting found by social services,” he threw a ball into the air and caught it on his chest repeatedly.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I don’t like living with the people they set me up with. Plus they don’t get it. Only Ernie gets it and he’s dealing with some bulimic kids right now,” I said as I watched the ball.
Ernie was the one only suffocater the five of us knew to live around us. Ernie was the head of the child services department back in New York, but he flew around to be the boss and everything of the other departments in Miami, South Carolina, New Jersey, Maine, and still managed New York. The five of us had ended up in those five cities in the end and I was thinking of relocating myself to Philly. Being spread out was better for us according to Ernie. He said being too close together was dangerous for our identities. We needed to keep a low profile so people wouldn’t find out about us. He was very understanding of us and was also very good at finding us. He had a scent for our blood so he could smell us from across the country. He also placed us with family’s that wouldn’t be smart enough to even think of such a creature.
“Bite me.” Greyer spoke the words I missed hearing out of his mouth and I tried so hard to hold my fangs back. “Ace, you have to try harder. By the way aren’t you leaving Zack technically then?” He sized up the ring on my finger and I hid it.
“Relax. I can fly to him whenever I want. Honestly, I think Zack can wait. He always does,” I stroked my hair and the red dyed part smoothed between my fingers.
Greyer looked at the ball as it went up in the air. “Then go stay with him. I can’t afford to get in trouble again,” he spoke casually.
Uh uh. I used my powerful reflexes and zipped my arm out in the air faster than you could say “no”. Greyer held his hands out for the ball and then turned to me. I had it in my hands.
“One night. But, otherwise you’re going to have to walk to the door like a human and ring the doorbell and ask to stay,” he said it because he knew it would bug me.
“No way. One night and then I’ll go to Maine,” I smiled and handed him his ball back.
“No way does Belle need to deal with your problems. Danger and Flight don’t need it either. Just go back to Jersey and go back to Ernie.”
We fell asleep on his bed and in the morning he brought me some breakfast. I didn’t eat it. I smiled while watching him go about his regular everyday activities until his friends started calling. Friends? The only friends I had were he and the others. I wasn’t aware that he had other friends.
I smiled as he hung up on the third friend and his welcoming smile slowly told me to fall into his arms and stay there, but I had a fiancé back in Jersey and he was probably freaking out that I was gone.
The family I left was just two parents. A young woman who cared for me, but she just didn’t understand me. She didn’t understand my ways or thoughts or why I did things. She didn’t understand why I’d leave for hours at a time without telling them where I was going and come back exhausted. She just didn’t get it. Her name was Gina and her husband’s name was Donald. Donald was about twenty years older than her and very distant. He was nice, but he didn’t really like to be around people too much. I couldn’t have stayed with them if I’d wanted to.
I stood up and grabbed my guitar and bag. “I should go,” I said as I swung my red hair back behind me.
“I’ll fly you part way,” he said as he took his shirt off and I smiled to myself at his amazingly toned upper body. He pulled it off his head and put on a clean one. Then he offered me a shirt. Mine smelled since I hadn’t bothered changing it in days. I hadn’t been really out of my room in days anyway so why should I have? I took the white shirt and he turned around. I took the T-shirt off and my hot pink bra kind of stuck out. I forgot I’d been wearing it since my shirt was black.
“This won’t work,” I said as he turned back around. He’d seen me without a shirt plenty: without a shirt, without pants, without anything. [Some days traveling were worse than others.] He stared and I looked away. He took the white shirt out of my hand and looked through his drawers. Right then his door flew open and a young woman with red [natural unlike mine] hair opened the door and saw the image of me standing in his room without a shirt and him with his shirt half on. She made a noise and I assumed she was his foster mother. Greyer looked up and handed me a shirt. I held it in front of me.
“Greyer, what is going on here?” She raised her voice and I saw Greyer get scared. A man came up behind her that looked about forty and he looked at the scene as well. I put the shirt on and they each grabbed one of us. I looked at Greyer and he gave me a nod. I grabbed my guitar and bag and as they pulled me along I made a break for it. I had long legs and a speed increased by my vampire characteristics. I ran out of the house and ran down the street. I didn’t want to leave Greyer but he knew I couldn’t be found out. How else would I have gotten there from New Jersey in such short time? I ran down the street and had no chance to fly.
Light surrounded me and citizens gawked as I headed to the beach. I ran and once I reached it I stopped. I knew Greyer would either run too or he would face the consequences and stay with the dumb family. I couldn’t believe he actually would stay with that family. They actually cared. Who would want parents that didn’t let them go places without telling them where? Not me. I was a free bird and whenever my foster parents didn’t accept that, I left. I always left. Gina had grounded me for going out after midnight and not coming back until the next morning. It kind of took a little long to change states. Belle and I barely saw each other anymore, why couldn’t I have a sleep over with her once in a while?
I sat down on the beach and let the sand fall through my fingers as I held it. I watched the girlfriends and boyfriends and friends playing around. I wished I could be more like them. I wished I wasn’t a suffocater. I wished I could just have normal friends and live life the way I wanted it to before it ended. But, then again, I was a suffocater and life would never end for me unless all my lives got taken away. Each suffocater started with thirty lives kind of like a cat with nine lives. Each time we got killed like a human would if the thing that happened to us happened to them, we lost a live. We had thirty. At the time, I had twenty-nine. The way I lost the thirtieth isn’t important.
I couldn’t live out every moment like they could. I especially couldn’t play around with Zack since every time I got overworked, I kind of let my fangs let loose. It was okay with Greyer since the fangs were like Jell-O on his skin and they just kind of bounced off. With Zack however they cut him like the sharp things they really were. One day during a game of soccer he tried to make me get closer to him. Then I got a little wrapped up in the game and my adrenaline rushed and my excitement thrilled and I started drooling for Zack’s hot upper body. Once that happened there was nothing stopping me from biting into the juicy flesh of his. He didn’t get it. That’s why I had to tell him about me.
Suffocaters were a mix of vampires, angels, devils, dragons, and even werewolves, but we didn’t transform like them. We grew wings and grew fangs and we had the same problem with temptation with the fangs as werewolves. Werewolves weren’t exactly as they lead on in movies. They had a real problem with their temptations. Whenever they got worked up or were overly excited or in anyway climaxed, then they’d get like puppies and bring out there teeth to chew and suck. I did that a lot. Flight and Belle had learned to control it better, but I had such hot guys in my life that the biting thing was kind of just natural. It was my way of telling me to calm down. Or it was my way of showing someone I was either horny or on edge. Just a playful bite never hurt Greyer, but I really had to control it around Zack. I had to really start getting better at that if I was getting married.
Married: still an idea to me that really just wasn’t dawning on me yet. I’d said yes, but I wasn’t sure I could keep that promise. I wasn’t sure how much longer I’d be around in the area. It was a weird enough idea that a sixteen year old and a supposedly thirteen year old were getting married, but did a ring really mean that much? Because I wore it did it mean I’d be banded with Zack until the day he died? Did it mean I couldn’t love anyone else? Did it mean I really truly loved Zack? Did I?
I stopped thinking and thought to my earphone. I started rubbing my ear to find the spot where it had sunken in and bumped up. I casually lifted my hair and moved my finger in a slow circle around it. I signaled in Greyer from the number of circles I did and I talked. “Hey sorry but I knew they’d send me back to Jersey. Social services. I don’t want to go back there. Let me know what’s up. If I don’t get anything even a little like smirk or whatever then I’m flying to South Carolina without you so help me out here. Should you stay or should you go?”
I waited for his response and when I heard him start whispering I knew they’d really punished him. Sure we were chickens and didn’t like punishment, but we didn’t like being held back. We were orphans with no place to go but everywhere. We were free birds with our wings fully grown. Greyer started speaking and I listened to him. “I’m coming. Meet me at the top of the school building. No one will see us there since it’s got walls around the roof.” Then he was gone.
I ran off the beach to a back alley and took off. I couldn’t make myself invisible although it was possible for Flight since she had dragon occupations higher since her dad was a dragon and her mom a suffocater. I could just go so fast that I almost wasn’t there at all. I flew fast. Taking off was nothing for me as I ran and jumped. I soared like a jet and gained speed gradually. The wind blew by me and through my hair. My heavy backpack was weighing me down but I didn’t have too much farther to go in broad daylight anyway. I made it to the school building and landed softly on top. Greyer was backed up against the wall and his bag looked half the size of mine.
I stared at it and wondered how he did it. He noticed me staring and I remembered something we’d learned traveling cross-country from Flight’s boyfriend: baggage can be put inside any kind of mesh bag and have never ending space inside with almost no weight as long as a suffocater bites the mesh and has some blood running through the mesh part. I laughed and watched as he looked down at his feet.
“I’m sorry. It’s all my fault,” I whispered turning serious. I put my hand on his shoulder and looked down too.
Greyer looked up like that was the most obscene thing he’d ever heard. “No, it’s not. Believe me. The part where I left was where George hit me. I’m not much for abusing and if I got worked up enough I’d kill him. Then he’d know since there’d be fang marks in his neck,” he smiled his Greyer smiled and I resisted the urge to move into his arms. Then I remembered Zack. It was around six and it’d be dark soon so we could head to Flight’s place in South Carolina for the night and then I could sneak away to see Zack. I missed not being able to playfully bite Greyer when I wanted to let him know I really liked him. The biting was almost better than kissing since every time I bit an animal or something of that sort I’d get the jolt of energy and when I bit Greyer it was like that energy made it halfway before it realized I wasn’t sinking my teeth. Then the energy just kind of sat there, halfway through my veins and it stayed put so I could feel the pleasure’s energy building up. Greyer would bite me too, but girl suffocaters were always the biters. The boys controlled them better on most occasions.
We watched the sun go down as we told stories and made fun of the weird things about Flight and Danger and everything. He didn’t want to talk about his dad or anything else so we just kind of had to remember the things he always wanted to talk about. We talked about our old adventures and he tried to get me to talk about my thirtieth live, but I wouldn’t budge. Once he saw it happen, he never got to hear from me since.
The sun went down and we grabbed our stuff. Greyer stashed my bag in his and we flew weightlessly to South Carolina. Flying wasn’t like in the movies where they had to concentrate and stay focused just to keep in the air. As having angel wings Greyer and I could play around and goof off as long as we stayed high enough up in the air with our wings spread out. So we did. We goofed off and pretended to be doing things like reading while we flew or something dumb that made us happy at the time. We flew to South Carolina and we looked for Flight’s house. We saw it and the big house stuck out. It was gigantic even from the sky and twice the size of any house either of us had ever stayed in before. Most rich people like that didn’t want messed up kids and we usually got stuck with the poor suburb families with no kids and small houses. We usually got stuck with the people we really weren’t big fans of.
We flew down into the woods behind the house and checked it out before entering. Flight’s bedroom was on the second floor and looked a little…dark: bright colors, but one window. The window was so small Greyer and I looked at it and made a face. There was no way we were going to get in that window. Plus, it looked like there was a parent in there. We had to do it the old fashion way.
We fixed our clothes, brought in our wings, sucked in our fangs, and made ourselves a little less…bloody [mesh from the bag kind of dripped]. Then we got into normal mode and rang the doorbell. “You sure this is Flight’s place? Looks kind of rich,” Greyer whispered into the side of my ear. I looked into his blue eyes and ignored the comment. A man in a royal purple robe walked up to the door and opened it for us.
“Hi can I help you?” He asked us as we looked around behind the door.
“Um is Fli-,” I stopped myself remembering she didn’t go by that, “-Florence here?” Greyer looked at me and held back a laugh. I saw the man sizing up my gauged ear and my other ear with various silver hoops and studs. I watched him then catch Greyer’s pierced ear. He looked at us and after a second he let us in. He shut the door behind us and frowned. Then he yelled up the stairs.
“Florence, it’s for you,” he called as he pushed his jet-black hair back.
Flight came bouncing down the stairs in a second. Once she saw us she ran toward us and hugged us both. “Guys! I missed you so much!” She let go and we smiled at her. Then she turned to the guy and started introducing us. “Daddy this is Greyer and Ace,” she said a she tugged on our shirtsleeves.
I smiled at him and Greyer smiled too. The man smiled and seemed to break for Flight. Flight grabbed our arms and ran us upstairs. “We’ll be in my room Daddy,” she yelled before we turned the corner past a big room with an older woman in it reading a magazine on rich living.
She dropped the fake smile and guided us to her room. It was bright green and very her. She started acting like her normal self and crashed into a beanbag. “So what’s going on? I can see you guys are between houses again,” she smirked and pulled out some beers from a mini fridge under her bed. She threw us each one and smiled when she saw our reflexes weren’t soured at all. She watched us catch them in seconds and we watched her evil grin return. I loved seeing her back in her devious skin.
We sat down and took that first swig. Being suffocaters, beer and other alcohol didn’t have effect on us, plus we were technically way beyond drinking age. On the up side, Flight also brought up the fact at our last get together that being rule breakers was so much more fun. The beer slid down and tasted sweet. Nothing fuzzy inside my head and nothing weird between us. We smiled and started talking like old times as soon as we dropped the bag on the floor it soaked the floor with crimson. Luckily Flight was a sucker for any blood she found and sucked it right up. Her dad being a dragon he gave her irresistibility for the blood. She sucked it right off the carpet and Greyer and I helped ourselves to second beers like it was perfectly normal. We were used to Flight’s dragon characteristics. Of course Greyer and I loved blood and practically got high off of it, but we didn’t have as much dragon in us and we had better resistance. Fantasies also often left that part out. Dragons were blood crazy. Sure they breathed fire and all, but they were really more blood drinkers than vampires. They could sink their pointy teeth into anything living and they immediately took away that being’s spirit. It was horrible if you thought about it from a certain perspective, but really they did it to keep them alive, and they usually only drank from who asked for it. Or who was already on their way.
“So bottom line, we need a place to stay for the night,” Greyer said as he sipped his sixth or seventh beer.
Flight gave us her smile. “I knew you guys didn’t conveniently show up together to hang.”
I laughed and turned away from Greyer. We let the moment pass and then Flight spoke up.
“Duh you guys can stay here. Just I’ll let you out the front door and then fly around to the window. It gets bigger,” she smiled and walked over to the window. She grabbed a few inches out and pushed. The whole thing flew out into the outside and we gawked. All of us contained the ability to use magic as well, but it was backed up by our other instincts. The whole magic concept was passed down from the angel gene, but devil gene took away all possibilities of using it unless we committee done of several acts. We either had the choice to drink from someone, or we could simply just have enough blood and adrenaline running through our veins to be able to use it. She closed it and led us downstairs. We walked out to the front porch and Flight’s foster dad waved us out.
“Come back whenever!” He turned and we winked at her and flew around to the backyard.
We climbed in the window and spent the night on Flight’s trundle bed.
I have to admit; feeling Greyer by my side made me feel like I had nothing to worry about and that I really did have a good friend by my side. I felt warm the entire night. Second night out on my own again and no trouble so far.
I woke up to the sound of Flight’s bedroom window opening. Greyer was shirtless and I missed being able to snuggle up against him. Ernie. He was looking for us, and just like usual, he found us. I frowned and stood up. He had come in the open window and he casually threw each of our bags out. Greyer and I walked away from Flight and she sat up in her bed. She frowned and grunted. “Ern, do you have to take them so soon? Look how cute they looked!” She smiled and Ernie walked over to give her a hug. He let go as she released and Greyer and I shared a scared look. We knew Ernie well, but he had to be pretty mad to find us that quick.
“Your asses are mine. Let‘s go,” he mumbled as he grabbed our shirtsleeves. He already had my stuff shoved in Greyer’s bag and Greyer’s bag was over his shoulder. We waved Flight out, and after descending the window we were free. My guitar was poking out of the top of Greyer’s bag as the three of us flew silently back to New York.
“I can’t believe he’d do such a thing,” Ernie said to greyer as the three of us sucked down water in Ernie’s office. His feet were on top of the disorganized desk and mine were on Greyer’s lap. I’d already called Gina and Donald and whispered fake apologies as Greyer laughed in the background. I still had to call Zack and the quarter was warm in my clammy hand. I stood up to face the consequences as Ernie and Greyer continued their conversation of his step-dad-I think they said George was his name- abusing him.
The pay phone was unoccupied and I put the quarter in and picked the phone up. I dialed Zack and he picked up on the first ring. “Hello?” He sounded really worried and confused.
“Hey you,” I felt warm. He seemed to relax for a minute before yelling.
“Where have you been? I’ve been worried sick! Gina’s been calling frantically, but no one has seen you. Now I can relax,” he was cute when he was angry.
“Sorry. I lost it. I flew to Miami and stayed with a friend for the first night,” I left out Greyer’s name. “Then his parents caught us and we fled. We went to South Carolina to stay with Flight for the night and this morning, social worker magic,” I laughed as Zack laughed with me. He was sweet, but he was no suffocater.
“I’m glad your safe. Hell, I’m beyond glad that your safe.” He was the guy that I had always dreamed of. He cared about me so much and he was giving up so many years just to be with me. How did I feel about that? I didn’t even know.
“You’re f***ing ecstatic is what you are,” I lightened the mood a bit more.
“Hey! I don’t care if we’re just on the phone. Watch that mouth,” he joked a little but there was definitely sincerity to his tone. “Hey do you know where they’re going to place you?”
I had thought about it, but I really didn’t know. Ernie would do what was best for me, but that wasn’t always the best idea. What was best for me clearly wasn’t what he thought it was. I loved Ernie to death though and I knew that he was doing everything for me and trying the best he could. I didn’t know how to tell him though that I had different objectives in mind. Sometimes a little part in my brain thought that Ernie knew in his heart that what he was doing wasn’t the right way to handle the situation. That little part also knew that Ernie had no other options.
I could hear Zack breathing on the phone and I suddenly wanted to be in his arms again. I wanted to be near that breathing. He was breathing for me. And he was convinced that his last breath, would be for me.
And then I felt guilty.
“You don’t know?” Zack asked. I knew he didn’t mean it the way it sounded, but it still hurt. I could hear a little impatience.
I knew it wasn’t fair to him. I knew that I wasn’t entirely dedicated to him in that window of time. He was throwing away his entire life to be with me and I was just seeing him as the next eighty human years of my life. I wasn’t even thinking about him the way he thought about me. He would change his entire living arrangements for me and I just left for another state without telling him. Sure I could fly, but all in all wasn’t it really the choices? I chose to do whatever the f*** I wanted while he was pining away for me.
“No. I don’t. But I will call you when I know what’s up.” I hung up without so much as a goodbye and silently thanked god that payphones didn’t have caller ID.
I was tired and my eyelids felt heavy from so much flight time. I hadn’t noticed how much energy had been drained from my system until then. With all of the excitement, and being on different parts of the east coast, I hadn’t stopped to realize how much sleep I’d lost. Sure I’d gotten a little sleep in Greyer and Flight’s places, but not enough. After flying so far I was wiped out. I didn’t have any time or place to sleep though, so I just stood up and went back to Ernie’s office.
“What do you mean your hungry?” Greyer whispered into my ear a few hours later. I sighed. Ernie was out on his cell phone trying to get Gina and Donald to keep me, but he wasn’t very successful. He hung up angrily and we heard him dialing another number. We were sitting on the floor in Ernie’s office. Our backs were up against the wall and the window was above us. Ernie was behind us and we could hear every word of his. The lights were out so that no one could see us in the office. We were whispering and I was complaining.
“I’m hungry,” I groaned. My fangs were hungry and untouched and I was still tired as well. It was starting to make me cranky and I was sweating in the small office. Greyer’s silhouette turned towards me and in the dark I could see his blue eyes.
“We just ate a few hours ago! Can’t you just like hold your hunger?” He spoke softly but he was frustrated. I knew I had to break it down for him, but I didn’t know how he’d react. We’d been in these situations before but never with a bunch of humans outside.
I gave him a certain look. “This isn’t a bladder issue. Nor is it a food issue,” my tone of voice changed at the last few words. Greyer’s eyes suddenly changed and then his expression softened.
“Yeah.” We both put our heads back against the wall.
“When was the last time you drank?” He asked as he looked up at the ceiling.
I counted the days in my head. “Well I ran out of packs a few days ago and then I went to see Belle to borrow some and she didn’t have any I could have so we just hung out. Then I got home, then I got yelled out, then I left that night. Then I came to you so about four or five days,” I breathed. Greyer’s eyes got wider and then he sighed.
“Ernie going to be outside a little longer?”
“Yeah. He sounds like he’s on an important call,” I whispered back.
Greyer smoothly turned his head to the other side leaving his neck wide open for me. “Grey.” I let out a thankful sigh. “Thank you so much.” Those were my last words before I plunged into his neck and let my fangs sink in. Not too much, but enough for me to drink happily.
My mind started racing and I drank as quietly as I could. Finally getting some blood into me sent my mood through the roof and I let out a collective moan. It felt so good to have the extra endorphins sent through my system that I almost forgot to stop. Greyer put his hand up and I slowly released. I wiped my mouth and sat back. Blood drizzled down his neck and I wiped it away with a tissue from Ernie’s desk. Greyer had let me drink from him. It wasn’t like it was the first time, but the situation wasn’t nearly as desperate.
I was still as tired as I had been, but the grumbling in my stomach had tamed, and the feeling that my fangs were going to pop out of my mouth disappeared. My head spun while it came down from the high and I leaned my head back farther. My eyelids felt like they were getting heavier and my head couldn’t hold itself it. Ernie’s words started to fade out and I let my head drop. I gave a smile to Greyer and he returned it. He knew I wasn’t weak, but I was part human after all. My head fell onto his shoulder and he let it fall. “We’ll have new homes soon.”
He couldn’t feel the scars and disgrace building inside of me. What a brat I had been to run away from Gina and Donald. I didn’t get what I wanted and I couldn’t handle it. But Gina would never be my mom. Never.
I sat in the same office a few hours later with my bag and Greyer’s spread on the floor. We were playing slaps and really it was quite entertaining and foolish with our sharp reflexes and offensive skills. Giggling had been taking place all afternoon, I’d already gained energy from my nap and Greyer was lacking it. Yet again I was ahead. Ernie had finally hung up the phone and was sitting at his desk with his fingers snapping away on the keyboard of his blackberry. He hadn’t said anything about the new families or the old ones, but he was putting down his blackberry and turning in his chair. Greyer and I were sitting cross-legged on the floor and we suddenly straightened.
“Alright kids. Its time,” he motioned towards the chairs on the other side of his desk and we got up. After settling in the plush leather, Greyer relaxed slightly, but I tensed just that much more. I hated having to talk about my “feelings” with people, and being with my best friend and almost-uncle, I just wasn’t feeling it.
“What got into you guys? Especially you Ace. I’d expect more of you kid,” he sounded disappointed, but like he was concerned. It wasn’t the first time it’d happened, but with two of us at the same time it was rare.
“I just didn’t want to be there anymore.” I looked down and I could see Greyer looking at me out of the corner of my eye. I could practically read his mind. He would make me spill later. Maybe I wouldn’t want to. I could trust Greyer, but I couldn’t trust anyone with my true emotions. Never.
Ernie looked at me as a small frown started to peek it’s way onto his face. I knew that look anywhere and what ever I had said made him just disappointed once again. He looked at Greyer and he decided we just needed to come around at our own time.
The vending machine room was where Greyer and I were when Ernie brought our bags to us. We were using all of the quarters from under people’s cubicles to buy multiple packs of Swedish Fish. We were giggling and Greyer was avoiding the whole topic entirely. Good boy.
Ernie dropped them in front of us and we picked them up. “We’ve got you covered. New Jersey for both of you.” He started walking out the door. Greyer and I exchanged glances before standing up and following Ernie. Greyer gave a small shrug and I mirrored him. We walked down the narrow hallways that we knew so well. When Ernie left us in the waiting room alone, we got to talk. They held us there usually. It was small room with plain white walls and no furniture except for a table and a couple of chairs. They shut the door and Ernie went to contact the in-the-system people.
We sat down like usual and dropped our stuff on the floor. We sat across from each other and I could see that Greyer’s eyes weren’t happy like usual.
“Hey,” I said softly and quietly. I touched his arm lightly and leaned forward. I put my hand up to his face and turned it towards me. Sparks went through my whole body and I let it just go through. I was engaged.
His blue eyes locked with mine and I held his gaze and put a small smile on to comfort him. He looked at me with intensity and I knew that any weirdness had passed. He was my best friend and he always would be. Nothing more.
“Are you okay?” I asked him. I was concerned and I knew it wasn’t easy for him. I didn’t understand having those kinds of feelings, but it knew it was hard for him. He looked at me and finally small smile sat on his face.
“I’m fine Ace. I should be the one worried about you.” He looked at me and he took my hand off his arm. He wrapped his own hand around my wrist and gave a tight squeeze.
He held my gaze and he held it with true worry. “There’s nothing to worry about.” I smiled slightly and it took every nerve in my body to do it. I knew Greyer didn’t believe it, but he let the subject slide.
We were touching. We were smiling. And we were talking. I remembered waking up tangled around his body and suddenly the same electrical signals shot through me. I remembered our first kiss. It had been perfect.
We were sitting in the basement of Belle’s place and I was crying. I was sad and I was tired of being thrown out of people’s homes. Greyer stroked my hair and he told me it would all be okay. He said he’d always be there for me. I listened to him and when I tuned out, all I saw were his big blue eyes and his perfect lips. Every single piece of his flesh looked great to me and I didn’t hold back anymore. I leaned forward and kissed him. He kissed me back and we were perfect. We were together and we were enjoying it and nobody else was witnessing it. That moment was ours to keep. Forever.
He put his arm around me and he lay down next to me, propped up on his elbow. He cupped my face and he held my hand and he wiped the tears away. We kissed again and it was better. Belle started walking down the steps but she quickly went back up. She knew what it meant to me to be kissing him.
Now I looked into those same blue eyes and I wanted to tell him everything, but I couldn’t. I
I was engaged.
“We’re going to be together; in the same state. Maybe even the same school.” He paused to let go of me and I pulled back too. “Everything’s going to be okay.” He spoke those words and I believed them.
Just then Ernie walked in and herded us out. He got us in his car and we started driving.
Scenery passed by and suddenly everything looked different to me. Every tree looked sadder and every house looked smaller. Maybe the tree was dying. Or maybe it had lost its mom. Maybe it didn’t want to stand up straight. Damn the scientific facts, I think the tree has its own reasons for what it does thank you very much.
Greyer and I sat in the back seat of Ernie’s old Cadillac and we said nothing. We didn’t need to. We knew what each other were thinking. I was used to the Jersey scenery, but obviously Greyer wasn’t. He looked like he wasn’t sure how to take it in, but I knew he wouldn’t say anything stupid. Every moment in that car felt like forever. Just another drive to another foster home. Maybe even the drive to just an ordinary family’s home. You never knew how the parents and the kids would match up, and surprisingly a lot of people were fond of thirteen-year-old girls and boys. They felt as if they had a chance to prune them properly and raise them like their own. They wanted the ones that weren’t too old to fix. Then after that first experience, they automatically decide ten and nine are better ages. It was a cycle which Greyer, Belle, Flight, Danger, and I were all too used to. Although some families wanted us strictly for the company or because they couldn’t have kids of their own.
Getting a baby was the hard part. If you skipped past all that then you could just go straight to the fun parts when you could actually take them on vacations. I knew that most families that actually would do anything for you wasn’t ordinary. Even the old folks eventually got tired of the stop and go.
You never knew what you’d get though, and when Ernie pulled up to a simple yet classic house, I was surprised to see a boy around my human age sitting on the front porch. Of course the drive from New York to New Jersey hadn’t been that short though, I left out the part where we got out of the car in New York and flew to where Ernie’s Cadillac was parked in Pennsylvania.
Greyer looked like he was caught off guard too. My eyes scanned the white house with green shudders and the pool in the backyard. Slowly, Greyer and I slipped out of the car. Ernie motioned for us to follow him up the driveway. The boy had sandy blond hair and some brand clothing on. I recognized the Southern California brand from my old school and I immediately judged him. He probably had a ton of money and got his parents to get him someone to hang out with because he was too cocky to have his own friends. Maybe even he was a suffocater hunter and he was just waiting for the right…
God I was stupid.
“Hi.” The boy stood and came down the porch steps to greet us. He shook Ernie’s hand and Greyer pushed me a little farther up the walk. Not until then had I noticed I had stopped walking. This was my house. It would be my house for as long as I wanted it to be. I shook my hair down and quickly put it up in a messy bun. Greyer kept nudging me forward until we finally reached Ernie and the boy.
“You must be Ace,” the boy smiled down at me and I immediately changed my mind about him. “How are you?”
He extended a hand and I shook it, trying my best not to tremble in my tracks. With that one handshake I finally realized who he reminded me of and why I liked him. Nate. Nate Bitem. My only family left. Somewhere out in the distance. Anywhere.
“Hey. Yeah, I’m Ace. Ace Bitem,” I smiled sweetly and I saw Greyer shaking his hand in disbelief. He was happy to see me happy, but he thought I was putting on an act. Maybe I was.
“I’m Danny. It’s nice to meet you,” he let go. He gestured towards the door and we followed him into the cozy house. Everything looked so lived in. There were pictures on the walls and photo albums on nearby coffee tables. It wasn’t clean like most homes we stayed at; it was normal. CD cases lying around, old Popsicle wrappers, and even stray shoes. The hard wood floors weren’t pristine and they didn’t have the don’t-touch-this-floor-and-don’t-you-dare-use-your-matchbox-cars-on-this-or-your-dead vibe. It looked as if several matchbox cars had been swerved along the curves and alcoves of the floor. A dent was there also that resembled the size of a shoebox. Every single crack or paint chip in the wall reminded me of old Gilmore Girls episodes I’d become fixated on at an old home. [Lucky for me, the old hag I lived with had all seven seasons on DVD.] Every knick and scratch just made me feel that much more comfortable there.
He led us into a small kitchen. A dark haired woman and a fairly young man sat at the table. The young man looked to be in his twenties and he sure was decent to look at. However, not knowing whether or not he was in the family kept me from pouncing. Greyer seemed a little intimidated and he looked a little left out. It must have been so weird for him to be there.
“Hello! Welcome!” the dark haired woman smiled brightly. Her teeth were an off white and I felt as if that made her easy-going. I could do easy-going. She had dark green eyes that shined like emeralds and long, shiny hair that framed her face. She had wrinkles in all the right places and no signs of plastic surgery. That was a good sign too. She had just a few hints of grey and I took that as a sign that she accepted aging, or she was just lazy. I could do both.
I could do this.
“Hello Sally,” Ernie spoke in a soft voice I’d only heard with the five of us before. It sounded like it was informal and familiar. “It’s been too long,” he smiled brighter than his normal self. The grin was so wide it seemed to swallow his chin.
Sally smiled and stood up lightly. She bounced over to Ernie and embraced him tightly. “I’ve missed you so,” she whispered. Suddenly a middle-aged man walked into the kitchen and she let go gently. The older man didn’t seem at all bothered by the hug. He had thinning hair, but not too badly. He just walked right on over to his wife and wrapped an arm around her shoulder.
His grey sweatpants sagged on the kitchen tiles and he seemed to enjoy the swooshing sound. He extended his arms himself and Ernie leaned on into the hug. They hugged briefly and Danny walked over to the younger man. He stood behind him and looked over his shoulder. He squinted his eyes as if trying to concentrate on whatever the younger man was so interested in.
Greyer and I exchanged confused glances and he shrugged. He was obviously just as behind as I was. I could see in his eyes that he picked up on the small details though. Our sharp wits were at their best around that age.
Sally threw her arms up and came over to hug me herself. I wrapped my arms around her and it seemed like a comfortable embrace. One filled with ease and joy. I sunk into the hug and before I knew it, it was over. The younger man walked up behind her as she placed her hands on my shoulders and looked me up and down. She finally let go as the younger man pulled her off. “Mom I’m pretty sure we’ll have time for the makeover later,” he laughed. He put his arms out and I had no problem falling into them.
His toned and tanned complexion was perfect and his face was welcoming. I felt at home when I looked at him.
Wait. I don’t have a home.
“This is James. He’s just finished off college. Getting ready to move away from us,” she playfully used her dishrag to swat his ass. Wow. Okay I like this family. Greyer seemed to be enjoying watching a normal family function as well. A bemused smile sat firmly on his face and I enjoyed being able to see him happy again. It was like when I’d just sat down in his windowsill.
We all sat down in the family room and they offered us milk and homemade cookies. We made small talk for a while and Greyer finally was introduced. They told us all about themselves. Sally and the older man [Allen] had gotten married in college and had James. Then they had Danny ten years later. Then Allen got a vasectomy before they could have a daughter. Sally had always wanted a daughter and then seemed like the perfect opportunity. It actually all sounded normal to me. They laughed and joked as they talked to us.
After a while Allen and Sally started to discuss the details and everything with Ernie and they had James and Danny led Greyer and I out back. We followed them outside.
Even the backyard was homey. I could almost see someone falling off the swings in the back of the yard, and the dog running around was energetic and didn’t have perfectly whitened teeth like most. It was big instead of one of those tiny little purse dogs like Chihuahuas. I recognized it as a golden retriever and immediately built up affection for it. No wonder humans cried so much when their pets died; some pets actually are nice, decent animals.
James and Danny sat us down by the pool and they said I could put my feet in. I rolled up my dirty jeans bottoms and subconsciously took my shoes and socks off. I slipped my feet in and the cool water. The chill race dup my spine and I watched my reflection in the water. Greyer was laughing at a joke that Danny had made, but I wasn’t listening. I could hear things probably from miles away that were just horrible. But I could hear myself. And I could hear voices in my head. I could hear Nate and Gina. And Zack. Oh shoot.
“Do either of you have a cell phone I could borrow?” I asked as I turned around.
James whipped out a sleek flip phone that was probably a piece of crap to any human, but I thought it was glorious. I thanked him and started dialing Zack’s number.
“You don’t have a cell phone?” Danny asked in a surprised voice. I shook my head before walking off to the other end of the yard.
It rang a few times and then he picked up. The sun was just starting to disappear behind the horizon as I sat down on the swing and waited. “Hello?” He asked.
“Hey.” I sounded like I was just talking to him because I had to. I didn’t have to. No one told me I had to. It was me that had called him.
“Ace. Hey,” he sounded a little hurt. Probably from me hanging up on him earlier. I had been angry and frustrated. Me hanging up on him was me having the self-control to stop myself before saying anything stupid or mean.
“I’m back in Jersey,” I squeaked. I looked down at the grass and my toes. They were finally clean. I hadn’t gotten a shower in days and I needed one so bad. I looked back at the boys. Greyer seemed to be getting along okay enough.
“Really?” Suddenly his tone of voice changed and I could hear that he could let go of the anger. He was happy just to have me near him. God he deserved much better than me.
“Yeah.” I smiled a little to myself at how happy he probably was. I could see his happy grin spread wide across his face.
“Where are you? I’ll come and see you,” he talked so happily that I was smiling brighter than earlier. He was just one of those goofs that fell easily. He was my goof. I felt so bad telling him he couldn’t come.
“I’m sorry. But I will let you come by as soon as I get settled in here, okay?” I asked with anticipation. He couldn’t really say no, but he was probably already in his car and ready to drive over for me.
He agreed with a tone his voice that was understanding but disappointed. “Can you talk for a little while?” He asked. I felt even worse telling him I couldn’t. I said goodbye and promised him a visit as soon as things got set.
Then I spent one more minute on the swing. Everything was about to change when I walked back into that house and my best friend left. I could choose exactly how I wanted it to be. I could tell them little or a lot. I could be their best friend or just another girl that they would lose in a month. The next few weeks, months, or years were under my control, and the joystick was being placed in my hands right then. I had the power to turn the whole situation around or tell them to f*** off. I could do either and it would be like a choose your destination novel. I had two paths, and each one lead down a different road. Each of those paths had their own roads as well. Right in the palm of my hand, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I went back to the table just as the three of them were getting ready to go back in. Ernie was waving Greyer in and Sally was telling the boys to come inside before the mosquitoes started to bite. I walked behind Ernie and Greyer as James and Danny parted off into the family room with Sally and Allen. They sat down on the couch and as we walked out, I could see them peeking through the windows. I didn’t care.
Ernie gave Greyer and me a minute to say goodbye and he got in the car.
Greyer shoved his hands in his pockets and rolled back on his heels. The sun was almost gone and it was right behind his head. His blue eyes settled on my own and I didn’t want him to leave. To any other girl it would be different. Greyer was cute and quite a charmer, but he was the poor little boy with the dirty clothes and completely screwed up life. He didn’t have the latest clothing styles or the perfectly shampooed hair that all the rest of the girls looked for; he was different. And he was the best friend I always had to look to.
“Be careful Ace. I like this family, but don’t…just stay Ace,” he smiled lightly and his eyes were gentle and concerning. I looked back at him and I almost cried. Almost. He cared so much and I cared for him too.
“I will be. I promise,” my voice cracked and he immediately pulled me into his arms. I crossed my arms behind his neck and dug my face into his neck.
He kept his hands on my hips and it was a “friends” hug. He pulled back just a tiny bit, so that we were still in hugging mode, but he could speak.
“Do you promise? Are gonna be care-f***ing-ful?” He smiled and I laughed into his neck. My smile grew wider and sweeter as I breathed in my friend’s scent. Greyer was being placed in North Jersey instead of South and he would be a few hours away from me. For the first few weeks I would have to stay in human mode without any flying or visits or anything. I would have to do it and that meant no Greyer, Belle, Danger, Flight, or Zack. I could do it on my own.
I stood on my tiptoes a bit. “I f***ing promise. I’m going to be so careful you’re gonna be surprised,” I laughed. With great regret, we pulled back and I felt the tingles disappear. That didn’t get rid of the butterflies in my stomach though. Or his hands on my hips.
Greyer let go of my hips and he put his hands in my pocket. I brushed away an escaped tear and I let him go. He muttered communications under his breath as he walked away and I smiled once more. He got in the car with Ernie, which had only half of the belongings in the trunk and they drove off down the road. They drove into the night and I watched them go. I guess I stood out there too long after they’d left, because Danny came out and told me it was getting dark and the warm water was starting to come back in the shower. It hadn’t seemed like too long since they’d left. I could still feel Greyer on my hips and I felt guilty for not wanting it to go away.
Danny walked me inside and it was decided that we’d get acquainted in the morning. Ernie had apparently told them I hadn’t showered at all or slept much in the past few days.
Ernie had given me a full supply of blood packets and I was tempted to have one, but I needed to save them.
In bed that night, all I could think about was where I was and who I was to become. I was in a brand new room that had bare walls, but they were colorfully bare. The room was rather large and I liked it. I had windows and one of those seats in front of them. I missed Greyer and Flight already. Poor Belle and Danger didn’t know anything of the whole mess. Eventually I’d get around to telling them. I was tired and I was finally clean. I was in my lucky T-shirt that I’d gotten from a concert Bell, Danger, Greyer, Flight, and I had sneaked off to see. It was one of my all time favorite bands and it had made my year to just see it. Music was still a gigantic part of my life even though Ernie had insisted on keeping my guitar back in his office for the time being. I was constantly watching live shows online and wishing I could see them in concert. I belonged to all of the bands’ blogs and I followed them constantly. Just one concert meant more to me then any of my previous foster parents could understand.
I was humming the tune to one of my favorite songs in my head and it still sounded good to me as my eyes shut.