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1. New Student
Ugh. Five AM already? God, I hate Monday mornings. I got out of bed and crept over to my door. As always the pantry was fully stocked with pop-tarts. I took one out and placed it into the toaster. Walking back to my room I had the weirdest feeling that I was being watched. Instinctively I turned around. All I found was a tiny little Scottish terrier staring at me.
'Geez, Wesley! You scared the crap out of me!'
He looked at me curiously. Of course he didn't know what I was talking about. He turned away from me and ran back to my brother's room. I continued back to my room and went straight to my closet. First glance I took out a plain blue form fitting t-shirt and a pair of old jeans. I had a nice body, just not the pretty face to match it. Next I went over to my vanity and took out my brush from the top drawer. I had naturally wavy hair that girls stay up for hours trying to get. Apparently the fact that I had it without any effort didn't change my status. I ran the brush through my hair to get all the knots out.
It didn't take long before I heard my pop-tart 'pop' out of the toaster. I went to grab it again feeling like I was being followed. I looked behind me again. Wesley was nowhere to be seen. 'That's weird,' I thought as I made myself a glass of milk. I balanced it on my plate with my pop tart on the way back to my room. It never took me long to get ready.
I finished my pop-tart, brushed my teeth, and gathered up all my school stuff and went out to the door putting my dishes in the sink on my way out.
Searching through my purse I found my earphones and put them in, as was routine when I went to the bus stop. When I got there I sat on the curb. I was always early. I heard the bus coming just as I saw Ashley and her friend Marissa running from their street. They got there just in time as always and got on the bus first. As always. Maybe it was being the quiet bystander that made me aware of all the ongoing patterns that all the normal people were all but oblivious to, but everything always seemed to happen in the same way.
Once again, the bus ride to school was long and uneventful. I walked to my locker and for the first time that morning, I smiled. Damien was at my locker waiting for me' smiling his smile. The one he always reserved for me. I loved that smile.
'Hey, Ariana,' he said.
'What's up, Damien?'
He moved sideways to let me get to my locker. I went to open it and being me, dropped all my books in the process. Before I bent down to pick them up Damien was already on his knees. By the time he got back up, he already had them organized by size, biggest on the bottom, smallest on top. He was always hysterical.
I chuckled. 'Thanks'.
'No problem', Damien smiled.
I put up my books and grabbed my French notebook, my biology binder, and my folders, and noisily slammed my locker. Damien took my books from me and headed down the hall with me to my class. He walked me to the door, handed me my books and took off down the hall yelling 'Bye!' I couldn't help but laugh. This had been our routine for the last three months. He always walked me to class even though his was all the way at the other end of the school.
I opened the door to my class and went to take my seat in the second row behind Abby. Ms. Bolton had the warm up on the board already and was pacing back and forth in front of the class passing out Friday's quiz to the people in the front desks. I got my quiz back. A perfect 100%. As always French and gym were the only good grades I had. For some reason French just came naturally to me. It was easy.
After 3 minutes, everyone was in their seats talking to the people next to them. Everyone except me. I was already finished with my warm up before Ms. Bolton closed the door.
'Bonjour mes etudients!' she said in her perfect French accent.
'Bonjour Madame Bolton!' the class replied routinely.
'Qu'est-ce que tu fais sur le weekend, classe?' she asked everyone.
As always, no one replied. The class went on like always with people only partially paying attention to the lesson, passing notes. When the bell rang everyone rushed out of their seats and through the door. Somehow Damien always managed to get to me before I even got all the way out of the class.
'That sounds about right.' I smiled.
We walked silently to class and took out seats next to each other. There was a television in front of the class and an unfamiliar face at Mr. Harvey's desk. Whenever he had a sub we watched one of his stupid science videos. I took out my biology binder and flipped to the notes section taking two sheets of blank paper out. Students filed into the room and before long the room was completely full. Almost. One more student walked in as the bell rang and sat in the empty seat beside me. A new student. He's kinda cute; More than kinda cute, actually. He's gorgeous.
Whoa, look at those eyes. Is that red? What made that fact even more odd was that I had the same color eyes as the ones I was pondering over right then. My eyes were the same brown color with a peculiar red tint to them. I watched out of the corner of my eye and saw the new kid take out his notebook. He shot me a sideways glance and I quickly looked away. How weird must I have looked just staring at him like that? He wrote something into his notebook and pushed it over to my desk.
Ariana Whitlock, right?
Wow, nice handwriting. Wait'whoa. How did he know my name??
How do you know my name?
Oh God, why did I just say that? That was rude.
Oh, the teacher gave me a yearbook so I could see the people that would be in my classes.
Teachers do that? Oh. Well he doesn't seem offended, anyway. Thank God.
Oh, okay' you're new, right?
He took the notebook back and wrote another line.
Yes, I just moved here from Seattle.
Unsure how to reply I said,
Oh, cool. Well, welcome to Virginia'. Hey'we should probably stop passing notes before we get in trouble.
God knows my parents would be ecstatic to see an incident report when they got home.
Yeah. Okay' talk to you later'?
He stated it as a question giving me the opportunity to refuse. I gave a quick nod and he returned the gesture in understanding.
Second period went by too slow for my liking. The video, as usual coming from my biology teacher, was unexciting. Occasionally I would peak out of the corner of my eye and see him watching me out of the corner of his. Reflexively I would always look away embarrassed and each time it looked as if he was' smiling? Maybe. I couldn't be sure. But what if he was'? What does that mean? Frustrated, I stopped trying to look at him.
When the period finally ended I took up my things and tried to rush out of the room before the stampede. Someone caught my shoulder just then. I looked behind me and saw the new kid holding a book in one hand but was more aware that the other was resting on my shoulder. I absentmindedly sighed and then caught myself as he drew me back to the real world.
'You forgot your book,' he informed me.
I took the book he'd been holding out to me and mumbled a quick 'thanks' as I ran out the door.
I would regret it later. What a great first impression I'd just made on the newest and hottest guy in class that had actually shown an interest in me. Hmm. Weird; he did show an interest in me. I didn't have time to linger on that thought because just then I felt someone's arm entwine itself into my own. Damien.
I couldn't help but smile. He was so undeviatingly confident. Not at all like most guys at this school. He grinned at me when I looked over at him. We walked this way all the way to gym and then disjointed and went into the locker rooms.
The gym was filled with obnoxiously screaming girls as usual. I went to go take my seat at the end of the last row in my class. Coach Withers put us in alphabetical order at the beginning of the year to 'learn our names' and never changed the order. Fortunately Damien sat right in front of me. The coach started working his way through the rows, once the bell rang, mumbling to himself and calling out the last names of each person in every row. He got to ours last, naturally; 'Peters,' 'Stukley,' 'Whitlock,' he spoke each person's last name audibly.
After we finished warming up, I got up with Damien and we went to the equipment room. We always played four squares during gym. As we were walking I suddenly recalled last period: the new kid' I don't think I caught his name, the notes during the movie (I couldn't remember any of it' I wasn't really paying attention), and the book he'd given me at the end of class claiming that I'd left it; and I suddenly realized that I hadn't had a book in biology. So whose book was sitting in my gym locker right now? Well, I'll just give it back to what-ever-his-name-is whenever I see him again. I pushed the thought from my head and got back to playing four squares.
'You alright?' Damien always knew when something was up.
'Yeah, I'm fine. Just thinking.'
'Oh, what about?' he asked casually with a noticeable amount of curiosity.
'Just some stuff from biology,' I replied. Not completely the truth but not a complete lie. I didn't think I should tell Damien about the mysterious new kid yet.
He didn't respond, and we went back to our game.
By the end of gym, which always seemed to go by unusually fast, Damien had won, as always. He didn't go easy on me because I was a girl. Another reason I liked him.
I got changed and met Damien on the other side of the gym beside the bleachers. We didn't talk. There wasn't much to say that we hadn't already discussed during our 'intense' game of four-squares. The bell rang and we started to leave; me, to go to the cafeteria, Damien, to go get his lunch from his locker.
I was one of the first people in the lunch room and I went to save me and Damien a seat and then got in the lunch line. They were serving pizza, french fries, and some kind of vegetable that didn't exactly appear 'edible'. I decided to go with the fruit that seemed to be an apple. By the time I got done paying the crabby lunch lady, Damien was already at the table. I sat down with him and he smiled at my, not so appetizing, lunch.
As we ate I glanced at my things. The book the new guy had given me was a hard-back, black book with the title 'Entice' in red fancy letters. There were probably around one thousand pages; a good two-day read. I could see a piece of notebook paper sticking out of the pages. I picked up the book and opened the cover. The note fell out.
Do not show this to anyone.
There is more to know of this world than you have been told. I came to this school looking for you. You are in danger because of your lack of knowledge; I am here to warn you and try to explain some of the things that have been kept secret from you. In this book holds some of the information you will need to know. Please do not disregard this note. It is of great importance that you try to understand. I know that this is difficult for you but please try.
It's a good thing that all guys are naturally oblivious to everything and everyone around them when they eat, because even though no one at this school pays attention to me, Damien always notices the small things in my expression that always give everything about my thoughts away. He was sure to notice my newly widened eyes and my slightly open mouth in any other circumstances had he not been in the middle of eating. The look on my face was shock and sheer disbelief.
I had never heard the name Bryn Ackerman before, though it did sound familiar, but I could recognize that handwriting anywhere even though I'd only seen it once. It was the new kid. 'What is he talking about? Is he crazy? Should he be in a hospital?' All these questions zoomed through my head as I thought about the note I'd just read. 'I mean he can't be serious, right? What's all this crap about secrets?'
I quickly shoved the note back inside the book and closed the cover. I put the book under my folder. I would read it later. Not because I believed any of it; that was a lost cause in itself. I would simply read it to understand what the hell he thinks he's talking about, and then possibly use it as evidence that he should be kept in a padded room. That's all'
2. The Book
At the end of the day I hurried to my locker and got everything I needed for my homework and rushed outside to catch my bus. I was always rushing it seemed. The bus ended up being less crowded than usual and I was able to get the seat to myself. It took around one hour to get from the school to my house. On a bus, that is. In a car it took roughly fifteen minutes. No clue how that works, but, hey, I maybe math isn't my thing. When the bus finally arrived at my stop I got off and walked the forty remaining feet to my house.
After I finished my homework, took a shower, and locked my door I went and sat on my bed. Four pillows behind me so I could read comfortably, I opened the book.
Our Nature: The History of Our Abilities
All of our kind have the ability to entice humans. We are able to make them comfortable around us, with little effort, even though their instincts tell them to stay away. Many of them have created their myths about us: we are able to shift into the form of a bat, we are evil, senseless creatures, we can't go into the sunlight, we live in daunting, secluded castles, we don't breathe, and of course: we are created when one our kind bites a human. All of these are absolutely absurd. Our bites do not change humans into vampires. That would be like changing a monkey into a man. Impossible. We were created by evolution with a family just like every other living thing on this earth. It is not necessary for us to breathe; however, it is one of our more useful abilities. We use it to track down our food, or other vampires, in a situation where our calming mind- control doesn't work. This is a very rare circumstance.
Along with those abilities we are also stronger, faster, and we have quicker reflexes than humans. We are extremely beautiful to our prey; humans. This is because we have to be. Humans are entranced by our appearance. It makes it more difficult for them to think rationally and we are able to feed while they are ignorant. Afterward, they have no recollection of what happened. It is part of our nature to consume the blood of humans. It is unfortunate for them, but this is how we survive. Our abilities enable us to accomplish what we need to, to survive. Our ability to entice is our most useful, and the least harmful to humans.
There have been some vampires reporting other strange abilities as well, but these are rare. Around one in every thousand vampires acquires this extra gift, and the abilities vary. There is only one vampire on record with two gifts. His name was and is Adrian Tussaud. King Adrian Tussaud. He is the most feared, and powerful, vampire in the world. He had only one child, a daughter, and she was stolen from him after his human wife, Kendra, gave birth to her. She has not been seen since then, and has been given up for dead. She was intended to carry on her father's name as princess and would rule by his side once she came of age.
I closed the book using the note that had come with it as a bookmark.
So Bryn thinks I'm a vampire? I didn't even try to hold in the laugh that escaped my mouth. He must be insane.
I left the book on my dresser and left my room to brush my teeth and say good night to my parents. On my way back up the stairs I got the same feeling someone was watching me that I had had that morning. I looked back down the stairs expecting either my parents or my brother to be there but no one was there. Just like this morning. Not even Wesley. I turned back around and went straight to my bed.
That night I slept effortlessly. It had been a very long, and for once, eventful, day thanks to Bryn Ackerman.
During the night I had a dream. I saw a beautiful man, maybe in his twenties. He was calling my name. I wanted to run to him. I felt like I knew him from somewhere. He had brown hair, one ear pierced, and a muscular build. I started running toward him without making any progress. He started coming closer to me and smiled, calling my name again. I smiled back. When I stopped smiling and closed my mouth I felt something in my mouth. I could feel them with my tongue. I had fangs.
BEEP BEEP BEEP!
I slammed the button on my alarm clock down. That dream' was shockingly vivid. I woke up gasping for breath.
I got out of bed and went straight to the bathroom. I turned the faucet and splashed some water on my face trying to cool off and then blotted my face with a towel. I decided while I'm in here I might as well brush my teeth; after that dream, I don't think I could eat anything. I wet my tooth brush and applied some tooth paste and was about to start brushing my teeth' when I looked in the mirror. I turned my head to the side to get a better look at what I was seeing, the shock evident in my face. I was reliving my dream. Except this time, there wasn't another alarm clock to wake me up. This was real. I had fangs.
I was too bewildered to even scream.
I decided that, today, I was going to have to skip. No way was I going to be able to get through school like this. I got my stuff and left, so that my parents wouldn't be suspicious, and went outside. I ended up just going to the Walgreens down the street for the next hour before I went back to the house.
I dropped my stuff and went up to my room. I don't know how long I sat there staring up at the ceiling until a tapping noise broke the silence. I got up, with some effort, and went over to my window. No way.
Bryn was throwing pebbles at my window.
When he saw me looking he stopped mid-throw and gave me a smile. I opened my window.
'What are you doing here?' I asked, my annoyance evident in my tone. I had wanted to be alone today but he wasn't going to let me.
'You weren't in biology so I wanted to check on you.'
No smile. He meant it.
'So you skipped and came to my house,' my tone wavered from the sincerity of his last answer.
'Need I remind you that you skipped too?'
'Well I have a reason. I can't go to school like this!'
He looked me up and down and then replied 'What? You look fine to me; actually better than fine' he said with a wink, obviously feeling flirtatious and confused.
I rolled my eyes, 'Hold on.'
I went downstairs and unlocked the door.
He followed me up the stairs back to my room and sat on my bed.
'So why did you skip?' he asked.
'You really want to know?' I said condescendingly waiting while he nodded for me to go on.
I held back one side of my mouth to show him my newly grown fangs.
'Oh,' was all he said.
I dropped my hand.
'So, do you'?' I trailed off not wanting to finish my question.
In answer he smiled at me showing two pointed teeth. His fangs. I hadn't noticed them until now. I decided to voice my curiosity aloud.
'Have you always had those? I've never noticed.'
'Well, once they've completely developed and you get used to them, they become retractable. But yes, I've always had them.'
We stood there looking at each other for a minute before I finally spoke up.
'So this is real,' it wasn't a question. It was a fact. There was no denying what was going on. There wasn't any other answer that seemed logical unless someone glued fangs in my mouth last night. I doubted it.
Bryn got to his feet.
'How about we go for a walk?'
'That sounds like a good idea,' I answered as I opened the door and led the way down the stairs.
When we got to the sidewalk I stopped walking. Bryn was at my side in seconds.
'I'm sure you have tons of questions; ask away.' He said jokingly.
Why is he still joking? This isn't funny.
For a minute I was silent trying to figure out what to ask first. I decided to go with what I thought was the most important.
'So, I'm going to start drinking blood. When will that happen?' I asked trying to sound casual.
'Usually it starts becoming a necessity after the first few weeks of getting your fangs.'
'Weeks!? Only weeks?? That's a little short notice,' I said catching myself before going into hysterics, trying to disguise the disappointment I was feeling.
'Well, yeah. It's a short process. It won't be long until you're fully developed. You would have known a long time ago but a turn of events happened and you were lost for a while until my family tracked you. We're your guardians. This is why I came here.' He gestured up to my face at my fangs. He said the last part with a hint of annoyance.
'What do you mean 'I was lost'?' I asked getting confused.
'Oh, umm' how far did you get in that book I gave you?'
'Only like the first two pages'' I answered a little embarrassed remembering how I put down the book thinking it was ridiculous.
'So, remember what you read about vampire families?'
'Yeah, I was thinking about that' they said vampires are born with families, but my parents aren't vampires' I mean I'd notice if they were, right? So how am I a vampire?'
'Yes. You would. They should've'would've told you if they were. But they aren't. Which is coincidentally how we tracked you.'
We walked for another minute in silence and I realized, then, that he hadn't answered my question.
'So? How am I a vampire?' I asked trying to sound impatient, though I was really grateful to have Bryn to explain this to me.
'Well'' he stopped walking. 'Ariana' you're adopted.'
I stood there wide-eyed for a few moments and then attempted to regain my composure.
'So' do you know who my real parents are?' I said trying to sound nonchalant.
Bryn saw right through the act and smiled softly before pulling me into a tight embrace. I tensed for a second and then hugged him back. I couldn't help thinking, this feels right. I wrapped my arms around him tight and buried my face in his neck and started to cry. He just hugged me even tighter as he inclined his head to rest on mine.
'Your father's still alive, but your mother' died a while back. I'm sorry Ariana,' he said apologetically. I pulled away and looked up at him.
'For what? Telling me the truth? Don't be; without you here I would be so lost right now. You have no idea how happy I am to have you here with me,' I said as we started walking back to my house.
'I'll stay as long as you need,' the way he said it gave me the impression that he had a thoughtful smile playing on his face.
'Forever. I never want you to go.'
'Then I'll be here forever,' he said grabbing hold of both of my hands. He smiled at me and looked down at the sidewalk. He looked back up through the black hair that had just fallen into his face. He met my eyes and I stood there locked in his gaze just as he seemed to be locked in mine, and then he closed the distance between us and kissed me softly on my lips.
'If you ever need anything you can call me.' He pulled out what looked like a business card and wrote what was probably his number on the back and handed it to me. I took it without a thought and put it in my pocket.
'Get some sleep Ariana. And don't even think about skipping tomorrow,' he said with a jokingly accusing look on his face. He winked, 'Trust me, no one will notice anything out of the ordinary by morning.'
He smiled at me before turning away and walking down the sidewalk away from my house. I realized just then that I was standing in my house looking out through the front door and looked after Bryn before closing it.
That night all I could think about was that kiss. Bryn had been so sweet and understanding. Had that kiss meant something? or had it just been a friendly kiss? Damien kisses me'well on the cheek' but still, this didn't feel the same. There was something just below the surface; something I just couldn't figure out. What was so special about that kiss?