In Dreaming Reality

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Tale of Shadow

It is ironic that when I wanted to dream of the Fairlands I couldn’t and when I just wanted to sleep I would go there in my dreams. All I know is I had fallen asleep in the limo still wearing the purple dress from the night before, and I had woken up everything slightly glowing around me, in my room in the castle. I suppose it is better then waking up on fire in the middle of a lake of lava-- which thankfully hadn’t happened since I had told Topher to shove it-- making me pretty sure he had been the one somehow controlling it…

Nanny had just come in the room, when I opened my eyes. At first I don’t think she saw me, she walked to the window and opened the blinds, and fluffed the pillows on the window seat, then when she turned to the bed and her eyes went big and round when she saw me. “Poppet!” She said shocked and relieved at the same time. “You’ve come home again!” She rushed to pick me up when she saw what I was wearing, then she dropped me like a hot potato onto my bed again. I bounced on the feather mattress. “What in fairies name are you wearing?” She thundered.

The first thing I noticed was that my hands no longer hurt -- I looked down at my palms; it was as if the slivers and scrapes had magically disappeared; then I looked down at the purple dress, it was tight around my bust and extremely low cut, it was also very very short and had almost no back. There were no sleeves, and it was only connected at the shoulders with thin gold straps. I shrugged. “A dress.”

Nanny looked at me reproachfully and shook her head. “That is most definitely not a dress.” She sighed. “No matter! I have something much better for you to wear, also you have come at great timing, Prince Charles happens to be here, I shall have a knight tell him you will join him for tea.”

That was when I sighed. Great I would have to deal with Topher’s Prince Doppelganger. So much for getting rid of him. At least in one of my universes he was out of my life.

Nanny rushed to the door and peeked out and told a knight to inform Charles that princess would be coming for tea in the garden. Once she closed the door again she turned to look at me, and while frowning lifted me from my bed and placed me before the mirror. She had to yank to get the dress off me, but once it was, she laced me into a corset which actually was way way tighter than the dress I had been wearing; and put me into a satin baby blue dress with white lace.

She reworked my hair and once she was finished and approved of my appearance she sent me on my way. I must confess this time around being here and not having any concern of a sister being in danger was a huge relief; it also made me almost enjoy the way I was being pampered. Let me say it again … ALMOST enjoyed being pampered. I let myself out into the hallway as Nanny stood with the purple dress in her hands wondering what to do with it. I really wanted to say something witty about the dress but nothing came to mind so instead I walked down the stairs across the empty foyer and out through the front door.

Following the path, I managed to find my way to where Prince Charles was already sitting pouring tea. I joined him, sitting as gracefully as I could. He looked up his blue eyes crinkling in a smile. “So we meet again dear Princess.”

I cringed but nodded and took the pink tea cup from him. This man was not evil-- he was not a strange red eyed demon… He was not Topher. He was not evil -- he was a fairy-tale prince who just wanted a wife, a princess who would rule by his side. He was not Topher.

“It seems even in my dreams I can not stay away,” I muttered.

He laughed at me; it was a pleasant dream like laugh. At least I felt safe here and not like someone or something was going to chase me down. I trembled slightly. “Unfortunately Princess the last time you were here the Fairland realm was much safer than it is now.”

I frowned. “Do tell sir Prince what ails this perfect place?” My words slurred slightly, and I yawned. Surely he was mistaken, I felt so much safer here than the last time I had come.

Prince watched me very closely. “The same evil which once ran rampant in the land when we were just babes in our cradles has once again entered our Fairland. I come on official business to ask of your father’s aid in fighting off these demons.”

My frown deepened. “This is ill news.” I muttered and looked out at the trees and flowers where the fairies were flying gleefully. This place was what I had dreamed a fairy-tale realm to be like-- or was it a memory and not my imagination after all? “What will happen to this place?” I asked him.

“Fear not princess, I will not rest until we have vanquished this evil from among us, I swear it.” He whispered.

I sighed. If only Topher had been this gallant, kind and compassionate I might have found him tolerable.

“What type of evil is this?” I asked closing my eyes, they felt so heavy. I knew I must be falling into a deep sleep; the dream was already fading from my mind.

“Vampires.” Came his whispered reply and I fell asleep and dreamt no more that night.

When I awoke it was dark in my room, and I realized had had no recollection of getting out of the limo and walking up the stairs to my room. I awoke to Anna shaking me, her eyes terrified. I sat up, Anna in my room? I squinted at the clock at three am in the morning? Outside thunder rolled and lightning flashed, and the snow was probably still falling to the ground, Anna jumped and threw herself at me, wrapping her strong arms around me, I could barely breathe. When had she gotten so strong? Must have been all those iron pills...

“Calm down, what is it, Anna?”

As the eerie light filled my room Anna looked right in my face and said. “I remember what happened.”

I took a calming breath and sat back on my bed, pulling my sheet around my body, I was freezing. Why was I so cold?

“Can you tell me?” I asked her slowly.

Anna’s white face nodded. “There was a man, he was at the party, he was good looking, but he only wanted to dance with me. I was used to that you know, people wanting me… everyone at Acroft High wanted me, and Marissa jokingly said it was because of my blood. I laughed and said she was crazy. So this guy wanted to go outside-- I was wrapped around him; he picked me up and once we were outside he kissed me.” She shivered. “He kissed my neck and something sharp went into my skin, I felt like I--” She trembled. “Like I was on top of the world. He asked me to go somewhere with him-- I don’t know why but I gave him my keys; then he tied up my hands and gagged me, that’s when I knew that something was wrong. By then it was too late to get away, so I kicked him with all I had. The car--” She was sobbing now. “The car ran into something, he sat still for a moment and then turned and looked at me, there was no blood coming from him that I could see-- he opened his door and walked out; and then threw me over his shoulder and everything went dark.” She stopped speaking and stared at me.

I felt color draining from my face.

“The next time I woke up I was on what felt like an operating table, they had my arm hooked up to this machine … it was taking my blood.” Anna looked terrified. “When I could I looked around nine of my closest friends were also hooked up to these things. I thought I was going to die! I passed out and didn’t wake up again until I was in the hospital and then mom and dad were there, but you weren’t and I was so mad that you weren’t there!” She was crying now. “And my friends? They don’t remember anything, and I feel so alone! I can’t even look at them anymore. All I see is their white faces, their dead white faces and I-I…Gen?” She clamped onto me and let her tears fall. This was the closest we’d been to one another since I had hugged her the day I got back from England.

I didn’t know what to say; so I just sat there like an idiot as she sobbed. I replayed the image from the night in my head, the one of Lexi and the guy from that club. I shivered. It sounded exactly like what Anna had just described. I tried connect the pieces but still was pulling up a blank. Prince Charles had said something right before Anna had woken me, but all I had caught was V something. I frowned, none of it made any sense, I wish I could just put the pieces together and everything would fall into place.

The rest of that night I got very little sleep. Anna had told me she was sorry, she had sat there crying and telling me all about her boyfriend who was that guy, Steve; the Barista from Starbucks. She told me she had been so jealous of me, but when she saw that I was even unhappy with Topher she felt bad for getting so mad. If only she knew-- she was being so open that I almost asked her about Mark-- Topher’s brother and what was going on with him…

“Please forgive me Gen.” She had whispered. While I still wasn’t sure my sister meant it, I was also at the same time eager for us to talk again, and not ignore one another. So I nodded but never said yes or no when she asked for my forgiveness.

The next morning when I wandered down stairs, Anna shoved a plate of pancakes in my direction with a smile. I smiled back, I almost didn’t care how long this lasted, I was going to enjoy every minute.

“Anna, I need to be at school a little earlier than usual, is that ok?”

Anna nodded her mouth full of pancake. “I want to talk to Topher’s brother Mark.”

I nearly choked on my tea. “Are you sure that’s wise?”

Anna’s face went blank-- she seemed to be somewhere else. More than being blank, it was like there was no one there; no Anna, no personality at all-- it freaked me out.

“Yeah we met last year in the summer--” Her voice trailed off. “I didn’t think I was going to see him again; besides in my dreams.” Her face flushed.

Her dreams or nightmares? I was suddenly concerned.

“He’s in my grade, you know-- the new kid as they’ve labeled him… LOL as if HE was new!”

“What?”

“Well -- he might not have been attending Acroft last year, but he’s been around. We met right before school-- I went to a Crypt Night party in the freaky cemetery by Saint Mary’s last August with some friends; he was there… It was like he called to me, even though we didn’t speak all night-- at least not until I left.”

“That’s super messed up Anna.”

“Sure MOM.”

“Kay, but--”

“Then he called me recently-- and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about him. I mean I couldn’t really stop before either but--”

“Anna I thought you were seeing Steve?”

“Steve?” Anna blinked and suddenly she was animated again. “Oh Gen-- don’t be a simpleton; that could have only lasted for a short time-- the whole reason I started seeing him was to distract myself from Topher and Mark in the first place!”

“ANNA! That’s horrible!”

“Sure it is.” Anna rolled her eyes. “Look a woman has needs, and Steve wasn’t meeting them if you know what I mean.”

I gasped.

“More than that-- I also have expensive taste and a guy like Steve could never afford to keep me up-- Do you think this blond hair would be able to look this good without the help of a stylist? Like HELLO? Are you dumb?”

“So this is all about things now? Remember that we didn’t used to have all this stuff, we didn’t used to be rich!” I almost shouted between my mouthfuls of pancake.

“BUT things have changed, and I like them this way. Daddy even set up a trust fund for me-- I have to fit in Gen -- I’m not like you, content to be an outsider for the rest of my life.”

I wanted to punch her.

“Now what you have to understand is that the Farrelli family is an old family, an old family with money… A girl could be set for life if she ends up with one of those boys. You should never have broken up with Topher-- I was just mad you caught his eye and I didn’t but the truth is, I could be equally happy with Mark.”

Scarlet woman.”

“Anna!” My insides shook -- my fork mid-air. Had I just heard what I thought I had? “You should stay away from Mark.” I saw the glowing red eyes of his brother in my head one more time. I shuddered.

“Like you can tell me who to date!”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You have the worst taste in men, Topher excluded; and currently are wallowing on the single train-- which I have no plan on riding again thank you.”

I wanted to say something but no retort or witty remark came to mind so I scowled at her instead.

“Well, it’s true.” She hissed

I let the matter drop, changing the topic instead. “Anna-- have you had any weird nightmares?”

It’s time.”

Anna laughed but her cheeks flushed. “Nightmares no-- sweaty hot dreams-- always.” Her eyes closed and she sighed. “If only they were more than dreams!”

“Ewwww. I don’t want to know!” I wasn’t pumped with this change in Anna -- it was undoing everything I had been feeling for her last night when she had hugged me and told me about what happened to her. Right now sitting in the kitchen with my pancakes I just wanted to lunge across the table and strangle her -- punch her; pummel her, beat the living daylights out of her… at least it would be better for her to suffer in my hands then whatever evil Mark had planned for her and I knew he had something sinister planned for Anna, just like Topher had for me. What was wrong with this world? I should never have feelings like that towards anyone! “Promise me you’ll be careful?”

Anna laughed. “Wow, mom! You’re so old-school. Slash that, you’re so OLD.” She patted her purse. “I’m always careful.”

I almost threw up.

“She shall carry the seed.”

BARF. I was going to barf! I pushed my seat back and ran to the bathroom as a stream of vomit forced its way out of my esophagus and into the toilet. Anna had followed me, her blond hair bobbing as she moved.

“Come on Gen. It’s not that weird to carry--”

“I don’t want to know!”

“Head in the sand much?” Anna rolled her eyes at me and walked out of the bathroom.

“You think that I want to hear how proud you, my little sister are of sleeping around? Are you crazy? I just didn’t--”

“If you want a ride I’m leaving now.” She called over her shoulder.

I took a minute to calm myself before I stood, before I had to face her again. Anna was my only ride to school since Marissa wasn’t talking to me, and I had no intention of walking in the snow alone to school this morning, not after last night. Once I had practiced some square breathing I felt calmer. I could hear Anna in the garage so I grabbed a jacket and made my way to join her. We drove to school in silence. Anna was mad, and I was uncomfortable.

The storm the night before must have melted all the snow that had been accumulating over the past week, which was odd because I swear I remember it coming down in buckets the night before-- like it had been up to my knees when I left Nameless. Why was nothing making any sense anymore.

By the time we pulled into a parking spot at school, I was very ready to not be around Anna. I didn’t say goodbye, instead I booked it to the ivy covered building leaving her to sort herself out. I didn’t really need to take much to class these days, all my books were kept in the classroom so I didn’t need to carry anything to class; my hands felt incredibly free. I kept looking down at my hands in awe-- I swear they had been bleeding last night; now they looked like they had never even been scratched. I had dressed differently today, I really wanted to fit in with my new friends, plus I wanted to be on their good side when I asked them about the last night; all of last night. Under my jacket I was wearing a tight purple top, it was long sleeved but it had cut outs all down the arms and the sides of the top, it was a top I would never have chosen for myself, but I could see Mina, Lexi and Kiera liking it. Then I borrowed a pair of my sister’s skinny jeans and wore my knee length black high heel boots. I had scooped my hair up letting piece fall here or there curling, and put on more makeup than I normally wore, with bright red lipstick, which I had already had to reapply after vomiting up my breakfast.

I clasped my purple clutch to and hurried down the hall, trying to remember to breathe-- that the walls weren’t trying to suffocate me and weren’t in fact moving. I was not living in the world of Harry Potter… Suddenly just ahead of me I saw a boy creeping down the hallway, a kid his age shouldn’t be here-- this was a high-school not a middle school. In fact I wasn’t even sure Acroft had a middle school division-- pretty sure they only had a high school division.

“Hey, you!” My voice left my body before my brain could stop it. “You’re not supposed to be here.”

The middle schooler jumped and spun around, his eyes going big as saucers. Then instead of replying to me he ran back down the hall towards me, narrowly passing by me then kept going. Something about seeing a kid in this creepy building made me worry for him, so I did what any sane person would do; I spun on my heels and chased after him. Someone was going to need to make sure he ended up in his school; maybe if I caught him I could take him to Dean Melrose. Surely the Dean could connect him with his parents and then school.

The kid was pretty quick on his feet and I was panting by the time I reached the entrance to the building but I kept following him. He headed down the long drive and toward some Weeping Willows near the wall. Swooping himself up on a low branch of the tree he jumped onto the top of the wall, turning only once to grin at me before he leapt and disappeared on the other side. Adrenaline pumping through me, I followed him, more worried about him than before; the little troublemaker. Now we were on the street, but the kid was still a pretty fair clip ahead of me. I kept running, my lungs on fire. I mentally told myself, if I was intending to do this much running in the future then I had to start working out at a gym. I followed him all the way to the outskirts of the town it wasn’t too far after all-- we ended up down by the docks. I shivered at the memory of the night before as I watched the kids dash into a building that looked abandoned. I knew I couldn’t leave the kid there all alone; especially since he wasn’t even supposed to be out here; and his parents were probably worried sick! Squaring my shoulders I took a deep calming breath and began to walk towards the building.

Sitting on the corner in the shadows of the building was an old man; he looked me up and down and said as I ran by. “What are you? I cannot tell… And what I cannot tell-- that is dangerous.”

As if there weren’t enough crackerjacks around here. I ignored him. I ran through the door not sure what I was going to find and found myself in a sixties dinner. Well that certainly wasn’t what I had been expecting…

The dinner was packed full of patrons, but I wasn’t really focusing on that; I saw the little boy run over to one of the tough looking teens at the bar and then disappear behind the counter. I froze not knowing what to do. Did I follow the boy and get him to apologize for running away from me when I just wanted to help him, or did I leave and hope for the best?

I suddenly glanced around, they were all staring at me-- all the patrons and the room, and they had gone still and silent. I’ve never felt that awkward before; besides when I had been introduced at Acroft. It was the same creepy feeling I got now as I stood there just inside the door-- all the patrons staring at me and appearing frozen in time-- not even breathing. As quickly as the moment came however, it soon was over and people went back to their meals, still eyeing me from their peripherals. I looked around for a place to hide, there were booths along the outside wall of the dinner, which looked deep and dark enough for me to be out of sight from the majority of the crowd. I zipped to the empty booth as quickly and quietly as I could manage, sliding onto the blue plastic seat with a thud. I plopped my elbows down on the hard linoleum surface of the counter and casually looked around. Maybe the boy would come back and I could have a conversation with him and then get him back where he belonged; or maybe he wouldn’t and I would just head back to school in a bit.

As I looked around I noticed the guy the kid had spoken to heading my direction. I didn’t recognize him at first-- he just looked like a tough biker dude; that was until he got closer. Up close I could tell that this was the same guy I had stalked at Guildford Mall at Christmas time-- the hot one. My face began to burn. CRAP. I ducked my head between my elbows and hoped that he wouldn’t recognize me but that he would still talk to me...maybe.

A waitress dressed in a yellow dress and white apron complete with white hat and long blond hair stepped up to the booth blocking of my view and handed me menu. I blinked a few times and looked up at her, her eyes were entirely blue a light bright blue. It was all I could do to not stare. Baby blue eyes? No pupil? Was this woman high or just wearing contacts?

“So what do you want to order?”

I looked around-- I didn’t really want to eat anything, and my stomach was still turning in circles thanks to Anna.

“I’m not sure I want to order.”

“If you’re sitting here you have to order something or you’ll have to leave.”

“Fine-- I’ll order something…” Wow, this woman had super low customer service skills.

“Great.” She flipped open a small lined note book and pulled out a pen. “And how will you be paying for this?” She asked me as she looked me up and down.

I sighed. This day was such a write off -- I should never have followed that kid; scratch that, I should never have gotten out of bed this morning; I should have laid around, read some books and eaten soup. The waitress was still staring at me waiting for an answer-- was she dumb? I had money-- besides I wasn’t planning on ordering anything…

As she continued to stare me down the guy from the counter slid into the booth across from me. His hair was dark brown and utterly windswept. At his temples his hair was a deep red, I hadn’t noticed that before. His skin was like pale alabaster and his eyes were deep brown and seemed to swirl around his pupil as he spoke. I swallowed and looked at the waitress to this guy.

He cleared his throat and adjusted his black leather jacket. “I’ll be paying for this.” The waitress frowned, so did I. I could pay for myself. “In fact get me my usual.” He cocked his head to one side then looked over at me. “What will you be having?” He asked in a low tenor voice. His voice sounded so familiar -- but that was ridiculous because I had never met him. “Get her a burger and fries stat.” He muttered. “Girl looks like she doesn’t eat enough.”

The waitress frowned and took my menu away from me, and then spun and headed back to the counter with our order.

“Thanks” I whispered, trying not to stare. Why so goooood looooking. This was the closest I had ever been to this guy, and literally only the third time I had seen him since starting school.

He grinned and threw his arms up along the back of the seat. Where were Grease fans when I needed them-- so swoon worthy.

“So,” he said to me quietly. “How were you intending to pay for your meal?”

I shrugged. Were we back to this stinking question? “Money?” I said softly.

He laughed-- his teeth were extremely white and sharp looking; they reminded me of Sebastian. “Human money won’t buy you anything here.”

Human money? What was he talking about-- he was human, I was human-- we all were human. Right? Well-- Topher I wasn’t convinced about...

He stared at me. “What’s your name anyways?” He asked.

I shivered under his stare-- I wanted to grab his face and PDA it up right now so hard core… My heart twinged as I thought for the first time in a long time about Claire. She’d no doubt know exactly what to say to a guy like this-- she’d have him eating out of the palm of her small hand; while I on the other hand had no idea how to handle a situation like this.

“Genevieve,” I said calmly as I could. Interesting-- I hadn’t given the hottie permission to call me Gen.

He nodded. “You go to school Genevieve?”

“Yes. Acroft High.” But he had to know that-- I swear he had seen me that first day of school.

He grunted.

“You never told me your name,” I said somewhat boldly. I really wanted to know his name--

He chuckled. “You’ve got spirit. I’ll give you that.”

Damn straight. If he had been living my life for the past few months he would ‘have spirit’ too.

He stuck out his hand-- I stared at it then reached out and took it. His hand was ice cold, and I noticed where his jacket pulled up a swirling tattoo wrapping around his wrist, it almost appeared to be moving, it flickered in the back of my mind that I had seen this tattoo before but it was such a vague thought I waved it away.

“I’m Vincent.” He didn’t let go of my hand. “You should be more careful next time you run after little boys, you never know where they will lead you. There might not be anyone around to save you.”

I swallowed and nodded, hearing in my head the sound of the growling dogs last night, only then he released my hand.

“This doesn’t seem like a very safe neighborhood.” I tried to say calmly.

The waitress came back and shoved a plate before Vincent and then slapped my plate before me and took off.

“You have no idea.”

I eyed Vincent’s food. He had a cup of something red that smelt awful and on his plate a burger that was almost raw. I made a face-- he seemed to find this amusing and made a big deal about chomping down on it. I looked down at my food, it looked passable. I ate one fry then worked on the burger. I was going to have to work out after eating this. I moaned inwardly.

Vincent practically breathed in his food it was gone so fast. I offered him some of my fries but he shook his head a funny look on his face. As I finished off as much of my meal as my small stomach would allow Vincent sighed and downed his cup of whatever gross liquid it was.

“Well, I guess I’ll just have to get you back to school now won’t I, my little bird?” He mumbled at me.

I shrugged-- but a part of me felt disorientated as the words little bird went circling through my mind, from a memory? Naw-- that was crazy talk I told myself as Vincent reached into his leather jacket and produced a bag of coins, he dropped three onto the table, they were solid gold. I swallowed and stared at them, was he seriously just going to drop gold on a table and walk away? Who was this guy?

Vincent grabbed my arm. “Let’s go, sweetie.”

WHAT? I never told him he could call me SWEETIE!

He all but lifted me from my seat and when he had finally put me down I was walking slightly ahead of him. I exited the building passing the old man; as Vincent followed the old man grabbed onto his leg as he passed. “If you leave here with her they will all come after you.”

His eyes narrowed to slits as he looked down at the old man. “Well, people have already seen me with her, guess I’ve painted a big target on my back now haven’t I?” He said sarcastically.

I had no idea what they were talking about.

“Yes. You have set a path in motion by saving her life.”

Vincent paused for a moment. “Saving her life? Is that what you thought I was doing?”

“It is what happened, not what I think.”

Vincent growled, swung his leg free and marched past me to a motorbike parked in the shadows. He swung a leg over and motioned for me to follow him.

“Follow him now-- he is both your savior and your slaughter.”

I shivered as in my mind I saw Topher’s black wings.

“Yes, only in death can you be free of the cursed mark.

“Little bird?” Vincent’s voice floated to me over the purring of his motorcycle. “Time is ticking!”

I blinked set free from whatever was holding me where I stood. I ran to where Vincent was and climbed onto the back of the bike, throwing my arms around him. Under his jacket I could feel his muscles rippling as he kicked start and we took off flying. There was something dangerous about him, and yet something uniquely compelling. I blushed as I hid my face in the back of his leather jacket which smelled like cinnamon. What had that strange old man meant? Did he mean that in order to be free of Topher I would need to die? That was absurd… and what had he meant about Vincent being my savior and my slaughter? Was Vincent going to murder me? That sounded like insane. Maybe that old guy was a kook-- but he had know about be being marked, or whatever… I didn’t have much time to contemplate what it meant though. It didn’t take very long to get back to school; before I knew it he was parking his bike and I slid off the bike, my feet somewhat glad to be back on the ground, my thoughts interrupted from the old man and his crazy words and back to more immediate things like what I was going to do now.

Vincent turned to face me, he looked me up and down and seemed to like what he saw, he grinned at me. “Well, little bird… Let’s get you to class.”

Embarrassed by his audacity and yet intrigued by his charismatic charm I walked numbly from the parking lot back into the older school building not even bothering to check over my shoulder to see if Vincent was following me. I mean I didn’t really need a babysitter to make sure I got back to class-- I’d had enough of babysitting with Topher and company, but I almost hoped against everything that Vincent would follow me just because he wanted to. Once I was on the stairs I looked back, Vincent was only a few steps behind me-- he looked deep in thought, and I wondered briefly if he even knew I was there-- his face so knotted as if he was pondering the fate of the universe not merely walking up the stairs.

I paused at the top not looking forward to my claustrophobic tendencies as I remembered walking down the hallways to my classroom, I really didn’t want Vincent to see me stumble down the hallway... Vincent sighed from behind me.

“Dang wards.” He mumbled. “They should know better, especially since you’re human.”

I flinched. There was something about how Vincent said the word human as if it was a dirty word.

“Well, there’s no way around it.” Vincent scooped me up into his arms. “Now take a deep breath, and together we will fly my little bird.”

I swallowed air, and held my breath, obediently. Vincent ran down the hallways and it was like we were flying! In a minute I was on my feet again feeling somewhat dizzy but the claustrophobic sensation was gone-- and we were standing outside my classroom door. I couldn’t help but feel a tiny bit confused about the whole thing-- I mean the whole day was so, well, so bizarre.

“Going in?”

I shrugged. Mr. Flimheart was already mid-lecture, I could hear him droning on in his monotone voice through the closed door, and I’m sure if I peeked in through the frosted window I would see him pacing along the front of the room behind his long desk..

“Mr. Flimheart hates it when we’re late. I should just wait, you can go-- I mean, thanks for getting me back to the school, but I can take it from here.” I sent Vincent a weak smile, my face burning. Why wouldn’t he leave? Not that I wanted him to .. or did I?

“It’s quite alright.” Vincent looked down at me with an amused grin, his face turning quite serious as he looked through the frosted window. “But I think I’d like to have a word with your Professor.”

“Oh?”

Vincent let out a low growling sound from his throat. “I think it’s safe to say that teachers should know where their students are-- especially if they are human.” There it was again-- the disgust with which he said human. I grabbed Vincent’s cold leather-clad arm.

“Why do you keep saying that?”

“What?”

“Human.”

“Well, that’s what you are, aren’t you?” He paused. “At least I think you are.”

“I’m sorry, but WHAT?” Unfortunately, the ‘what’ came out louder then I had intended, and I heard Mr. Flimheart’s voice flutter to a stop.

“Perfect timing.” Vincent almost purred as his hand went to the door knob, completely ignoring my question; his free hand hooking me at my waist, his other opening the door.

I was so shocked that I was almost unaware that my feet had carried me into the classroom subconsciously and that Vincent had closed the door behind us-- trapping me in this super awkward situation. I glanced around immediately for my friends; Mina, Kiera and Lexi-- surprised to see that Mina and Kiera were working together over a beaker but Lexi was absent.

The classroom was completely silent-- a heavy silent. Mr. Flimheart and the rest of the students in class all stared at us with unblinking eyes-- it was so, so … unnerving.

“I believe you will find that not only were you missing a student Professor, but that the wards are still up in the hallway. Those should have been taken down once this particular human student was transferred to this class. I should report you-- for both accounts. Give me one good reason not to go straight to Dean Melrose.”

Mr. Flimheart shook like a leaf, I’d never seen him look so worried. “I assure you Lord Steinheart that I most assuredly did have the last Guard on duty Christopher, take down the wards over the break.”

I blinked. Did Mr. Flimheart really just call Vincent, Lord? And wow-- what a name. Christopher … Guard of what? Did they mean Topher?

“Well-- either the Guard is getting lazy or he didn’t do his job.” Vincent spat.

“I’ll get Mark to work on it as soon as possible, my Lord.”

Mark? Topher’s brother? This was getting to be one of the most ridiculous conversations I had ever heard. What the heck were they talking about?

“That would be best.”

“But my Lord-- to what do I owe this unwarranted visit?”

Vincent didn’t reply which surprised me. I mean even I was wondering why he had come into my classroom -- surely it couldn’t be because of me? I wasn’t all that interesting … didn’t he have his own classes that he should be attending? Vincent went and sat on a stool beside my usual spot, and patted the seat next to him, his eyes only looking at me-- as if daring me to sit beside him. My feet moved of their own accord, and I plunked down on the chair and stared straight ahead at Mr. Flimheart who did not look impressed. I could feel Vincent’s eyes watching me but I refused to give him the benefit of looking back-- I mean he was so swoon worthy he probably thought he could just have any girl-- I wasn’t going to give in, yet.

“I was coming to return a missing student but I see you have more than one.” Vincent’s voice finally cut through the silence.

Mr. Flimheart’s face contorted for a brief moment. “As you know I do not get involved in the matters of your kind. I do not feel it either my place or very wise.”

Vincent snorted.

“However I was made aware by your cousins family that Lexi has finally found a mate. Surely you are happy with this union?”

“I see no reasons why that half blood mongrel--”

“My Lord Vincent.” Mr. Flimheart interrupted. “We do not speak of others this way at Acroft High-- surely Dean Melrose has told you this.” He paused. “She is bettering her bloodline-- can you blame her? Is that not the goal of all of your kind?”

I winced at his words -- was I in some sort of Harry Potter re-enactment? This conversation was getting stranger by the second.

“Yes, it is true. Lexi has chosen for herself a man at last, yet it does not mean that the inner council will agree with her choice -- even though as you put it, this will better her ‘bloodline’ in the eyes of some, in my opinion and in the open opinion of the council any spawn they have will not stop others from tracing the bloodline back to her-- back to the half-blood.” Vincent snarled.

Flimheart cleared his throat and made eye contact with me. I suddenly felt very uncomfortable. I jumped, feeling jittery -- like a bug about to be dissected. I didn’t like feeling like this -- this whatever it was.

“And yet-- what of this girl? Do you risk so openly being seen with this human for sport? Surely the council will not deal favourably with you consorting with her. Yet, here you are.”

I shyly looked at Vincent for the first time since sitting down, there was an animal expression on Vincent’s face for a moment then it was gone.

“You question my motives?” He hissed.

“Of course not my Lord. Only your actions. As I am sure even some in this room may be doing right this moment.”

For a moment I thought Vincent was going to jump out of his chair and go start a fist fight with Mr. Flimheart - which would have been quite the scandal in my opinion- not that this conversation was any less confusing or scandalous? Who was Vincent and his family anyway-- and why could he not talk to me? The tension in the room was palatable; and I felt like I was being held in a vice. Vincent and Flimheart stared one another down for a moment before Vincent pulled out the Bunsen Burner plopping it down in front of me and Mr. Flimheart went back to lecturing.

Vincent slowly stood and made his way to the door-- I watched him stand there, his back to me and the rest of the class. I wanted to look away-- to work on the experiment that everyone else was well underway on, but I it was like I was in Charlie Brown and Mr. Flimheart’s voice was the ‘Waaahwahhwahh’ teacher’s voice in the background of the classroom. Vincent’s hand was on the doorknob but he didn’t open the door; instead he looked over his shoulder, his eyes locking with mine. I felt a chill down my spine. Who was this guy? He smiled, and walked back over to where I was sitting.

Mr. Flimheart didn’t miss a beat, he finished his paragraph of a lecture on some sort of sulfate and then turned a question to Vincent;

“My apologies my Lord-- was there anything else you required? I thought the matter was settled.”

Vincent didn’t look up or down he merely pulled out the necessary equipment needed for the chemistry lab, and sat himself down beside me.

“Yes, seeing as you are now one class member short and I doubt she will be showing her face any time soon, I will be requesting Dean Melrose to switch classes from the evening class with the Doctor to this time slot.”

Flimheart looked pasty pale. “Is that entirely necessary?”

“This will be a favour from you-- and to your benefit, I promise not to tell the Dean that you permitted the Wards to so carelessly be left up for this long.”

“Class,” Mr. Flimheart muttered softly. “We will take our ten minute break early today --”

The classroom sprung to life as Bunsen Burners were put out and the other students became animated. There was a sudden rush to get out of the classroom, even the Flagstone boys hurried from the room -- each reclining their head respectfully at Vincent as they left. I stood still waiting for the flurry of bodies to leave the room. I felt drained, more so than the beginning of the day. I squiggled past Vincent and walked toward the door, feeling both his and Professor Flimheart’s eyes watching me. I needed air-- fresh air. I pulled the door shut behind me, shutting myself out of the classroom but putting myself into the hallway of claustrophobia -- I felt my knees buckling and wished that Vincent was there to run me out the building. I sighed, and shakily took a step only to have Kiera grab my arm.

“There you are!” She hissed. “What took you soooooo long?”

I shrugged. I didn’t really feel like talking to anyone-- I just wanted to be left alone with my thoughts to ponder the weirdness of the day.

“Well, I neeeed to talk to you-- so come on!!” She tugged on my arm and dragged me down the hallway, down the stairs and out the ivy covered building into the fresh air and sunlight.

I took a deep breath, and closed my eyes-- the cool crispness of the morning was a welcome relief from the static and tension that had been popping around the classroom since I walked in with Vincent.

“Genevieve.”

I opened my eyes unwillingly and stared at Kiera. “What?”

“First of all where the heck did you disappear to last night? I mean not that I am super happy you did-- things got a little… hairy.”

Hmmm. Again I played the evening over in my mind. What had happened anyway? The club was sketch-- something unexplained happened so the girls told me to run-- and there was growling and-- the limo came back, and Seb was in the Limo…

“Don’t you and Seb ever talk?”

“What? What’s that supposed to mean?”

“The limo came back and Seb was in it and I was so cold that I passed out but he grabbed me right before I did and took me home…”

“Gen. That is impossible.”

“No it’s not. That’s what happened!”

“Look Gen. I don’t know about the limo part-- but it defs wasn’t Seb who took you home. I know that for a fact because he was working at Plumanara last night then he and Marissa were over and they were fighting till god knows when...”

I felt a little uneasy-- and the remembrance of the thorn and rose tattoo in my mind was making me realize more and more that it definitely hadn’t been Seb who had picked me up off the snowy ground or driven me home. So who had? I shivered.

“You’re sure?”

“Positive. So let me ask you again-- where the hell were you this morning?”

“This morning?” My mind was running in circles. This morning already felt like it was so far behind me in the past, had that really only been a few hours ago?

“Seriously, Gen. Like I saw you and your sister get here -- then you pretty much disappeared, like I walked down the hallway and you were gone! I was worried that I had left you alone for too long and--”

My thoughts shifted back to the present. Irritation rose from the pit of my stomach as my ears registered the tone of voice that Kiera was speaking to me in-- it was too similar to how Topher had spoken to me. I didn’t need people treating me like I was five years old anymore! I was seventeen and damn it, I wanted to be treated like an adult!!

“I DON’T NEED A BABYSITTER.” I hissed.

“I know.” Kiera’s quiet voice cut through the chilly air like a knife. “But-- there are dangerous people around.” She said pacing in front of me, her blue pigtails bobbing as she walked.

“Dangerous? You do realize we’re at a High School?” I shrugged aside the thoughts surfacing of the girl who had gone missing here a few years ago… Cassandra Pirot, and of all the strange comments that teachers had made, that Topher and even Marissa had made... “There isn’t very many dangerous things here, unless you count that bathroom from the last century and perhaps too narrow hallways or nerdy kids or--”

“You just don’t see it, do you?”

“SEE WHAT?” I closed my eyes and rubbed my head, feeling the onset of a migraine.

“Gen, my world is a lot more complicated than yours is; and I really think it’s a bad idea for you to get messed up in the middle of it.”

Your World? Complicated? Did Kiera really want to argue with me about whose life and world were more complicated? My sister hated me, my parents had lied to me, I was from a fairy-tale realm of Fae … there was no way her life was more complicated than mine.

“Honestly Kiera, I think you’re just overreacting. Like complicated? I’ve got that nailed down to a ‘T’, ok?”

“It’s like someone taped your eyes and ears shut isn’t it? Didn’t you hear what Professor Flimheart called HIM?”

Well, yes that had been weird and creepy-- but not enough to justify this type of reaction.

“So what? They were re-enacting some scene from a book or movie right?”

Kiera laughed, not her happy laugh that sounded like bells, but a dark hollow laugh.

“WOW - you are dense.”

“I’ll have you know I am extremely academic and--”

“And it’s not a re-enactment of any sort-- he’s like the closest thing I know of to Royalty. His dad-- I can’t tell you. It’s not allowed.”

“What do you mean not allowed?”

“Didn’t you hear what I said? He’s like Royalty. Everyone is afraid of his family.”

“This is stupid.”

“No, you are.”

For the first time since I had met her, I felt a strong dislike toward Kiera. I felt wounded, I thought we were friends, and then she decides to insult me so harshly?

“I--”

“Seriously GEN! What were you doing with HIM?”

I cleared my throat. I needed to change the topic or I was going to really lose it. “Never mind that-- what happened last night? And where is Lexi? And-- why didn’t you come find me out there?”

“NONE of THAT MATTERS!” Kiera shouted. “Nothing compares to what is happening right now. What are you doing with HIM?”

“NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!” I shouted back.

“Fine, this conversation is over.” Kiera sighed. “You aren’t listening, and I have nothing else to say.”

I glanced at my iPhone. It had been more than ten minutes. “We should head back.”

Kiera shrugged. “I have to go see my brother-- I’ll meet you back there.”

I don’t know why, but I knew she was lying-- that she had no intention of coming back to class; it was like the night before when I could sense someone else’s emotions … it was weird and I didn’t like it one bit. I stood and made my way back into the building. By the time I finally got back to the classroom the Flagstone boys were just filling in-- they stared at me, openly and with a curiosity I didn’t quite grasp; and I have to admit it was creepy; well, it was creepier than normal. I slipped into the room and back to my seat beside Vincent. Class resumed once we were in place, even though Mina and Kiera were absent from class until lunchtime. The rest of the day passed without incident; although whenever I did turn and look up I found Vincent watching me.

When class was dismissed Mina ran from the room, the Flagstone boys wandered over to Vincent and I decided I’d had enough weirdness for one day -- Anna was probably waiting for me, and I just wanted to get home and away from Acroft and everything to do with it. As I walked out the door I could feel eyes on my back, it was an eerie feeling. I meandered my way down the hall shaking off the feeling that something was following me. I looked over my shoulder but nothing was there; then ran smack into Annabelle-- which was odd because she never came into this building at all.

“Hey!” She squealed. “So guess what?!?” I sighed as she jumped up and down. “Never mind you’ll never guess!! Mark asked me out! Finally! Here I thought he wouldn’t remember me from a year ago--guess I was wrong!!”

I frowned. What had Mr. Flimheart said about Mark? He was a--a guard of some sort? “So you’re just dropping Barista boy like that?” I retorted.

“Gen; we’ve already been over this. I wasn’t sure I should tell you, but OMG I am so excited!! He’s taking me out on Friday.” She frowned. “I’ll have to break up with Steve, I mean--” She bit her lip. “He’s a nice guy, but COME ON, Mark’s so hot, and I could be set for like a lifetime if we end up together!”

From behind me I heard a snort. Anna’s jaw fell open. She poked me.

“Are you really that stupid?” I heard Vincent’s voice mutter from behind me.

“Ahhhh Gen, why is there one of the biker boys standing behind us staring at you?”

I blinked a few times then slowly turned around. Vincent stood leaning up against the wall, his arms crossed; looking for all the world like he had just stepped out of the GQ magazine. I swallowed, he stared into my eyes and time seemed to stop. “Hi, Vincent.”

A smile spread on his face, and it’s hard to describe his smile, it made me feel frightened. Beside me Anna grabbed my arm.

“You know his name.” She hissed directly into my ear. I shrugged. “Gen-- it’s dangerous to know HIS name--”

Vincent stood and without taking his eyes off me said calmly to Anna. “It’s also dangerous to be involved with the Fallen, but you already know that don’t you? I guess you finally caved.”

Beside me Anna stiffened.

“Look, I’ll be driving Gen to and from school from now on, you don’t have to worry about driving her.” He nodded his head at me that I should follow him.

I hesitated only a moment; my feet already aching to move, to step towards him. Anna’s fingers dug into my arms.

“Don’t go with him Gen.” She said, her eyes terrified.

I frowned, Anna was probably only jealous he was so good looking. “Why not?” I asked her flippantly.

“He’s dangerous.” She hissed.

I shook her hand from my arm. So is flipping Mark Farrelli the guard of who knows what; I wanted to quip back but I didn’t.

“Prove it.” I hissed, but she backed away from me and up against the wall-- so I turned and walked down the hall after Vincent. When I caught up to him I noticed people were staring at him and backing away from him. I looked at their faces and saw mirrored on their faces what I had seen in Anna’s face, but it made no sense to me. I didn’t feel afraid of him, only exhilarated in his presence.

Directly outside of the school I saw Marissa, she was standing with her arms crossed, blocking the way to Vincent’s bike. When we approached her Vincent nodded at her, she didn’t reciprocate the motion.

“My dear sister-- Ahhh wait didn’t Dad tell you to never come home again… so I guess that means you are no longer my sister.”

Marissa’s eyes flashed, her tattoo swirled rapidly, and I noticed for the first time that along her hairline by her ears her hair was slightly more red than the rest of her very midnight black hair. “Brother.” She hissed each syllable her green cat like eyes glittering. “Just what do you think you are doing with her?” She nodded her head in my direction.

Wait-- they were siblings? HOW had Marissa failed to mention her uber hot brother to me?

Vincent’s face darkened. “Does that really matter?”

“He’s taking me home.” I interjected but neither blinked nor looked at me as they stared at one another.

“Shhh… my little bird.” He whispered to me. “Go back to your blue haired husband. Oh, wait that’s right-- you’re not together right now?” He said in mock sarcasm. “That’s because you don’t belong with those people, you belong with us. Stop fighting it, come home.”

Marissa laughed, it wasn’t the prettiest sound, it more sounded like she was cackling like a witch.

Husband? Had Vincent called Sebastian Marissa’s husband?!

“That sounds funny from where I am standing and seeing you with her.” She nodded again at me.

Now I was really annoyed.

“See the way I see it.” She purred. “You leave here with her, the inner council will start hunting you. Now who is being a hypocrite. Where will you go then? To France-- to the seat of the council itself? Be careful brother, Papa has friends in even the highest places, you’ll never be safe again.” She looked at me appealingly. “Gen, I’ll drive you home, leave this stinker--”

I frowned. “So.” I said to Marissa. “You have a brother.”

Marissa bit her lip.

“And you want me to go home with you, when you have ignored me since the moment that I shoved that arrogant jerk Topher out of my life for good.”

Vincent looked down at me. “Topher? ... As in son of a--”

Marissa launched herself at Vincent and knocked him over. I ducked and screamed.

“What in the world?” I shouted.

Marissa was kneeling over her brother, her eyes fierce-- but tears fell as she stayed there, pressing him to the ground. “Never insult my friends.”

From the ground Vincent glared up at Marissa, his face a mask of irritation and a hint of something else. “Riss.”

Marissa sprang off him and ran to me, pulling me into a hug. “I miss you. Oh Gen, I do.” Her tears ran down my face. She sniffled, releasing me and backing away. “Make wise choices. Forgive me, and please let me take you home.”

I was so curious. What had ever happened between Marissa and Vincent to make them so adverse to each other? Behind Marissa, Vincent had stood to his feet.

“Whatever did you see in THAT--” He spat the word. “Guy?”

“Vincent--” I stopped, what could I say? That I had only been attracted to him before I knew who he was, before I had ever talked to him, but once I had I wanted nothing to do with him? No, that would sound silly, even if it was the truth.

“She didn’t see anything in him -- it was he who finally saw something he wanted.”

Vincent growled beside me. “You know what the Fallen do to the women they ensnare and you would let him do this to this girl? To Genevieve?”

Marissa sighed. “She’s been marked. There wasn’t much else to do besides keep her safe; but she has cast him off and he is still determined to have her. Let her go brother. She is a Scarlet Woman.”

“I refuse.”

“He’ll come after you-- and Father will come after you.. Is she worth it? She is in your own words, ‘just a human’ is she not? Or has your heart finally softened?”

“Human or not-- no one deserves that death. To die in the hunt has dignity, to die with no other choice is folly.”

“They are one and the same. Can’t you see that?”

Vincent swung a leg over his bike-- his eyes bored into me, I felt like a moth drawn to fire. I stepped around Marissa, toward Vincent. Surely this was a some sort of charade … it couldn’t be as real as my Fairlands, could it?

“Then let them come.” He hissed. “My heart will not be moved. I have made a stand.”

I had to admit I had chills as I mounted the bike behind Vincent.

“It seems you have brother.” She paused. “And you Gen? Do you know the choice you are making?” Marissa’s voice so small questioned me.

“I forgive you.” I whispered.

Then Vincent hit the throttle and we took off flying. He never asked me where I lived, and I’m sure he wouldn’t have heard me over the noise of his bike anyway, so I just clung on to him tried not to imagine what Angela would say if she saw me on the back of this bike. When Vincent finally did park his bike it was on my parent’s driveway.

I scuttled off the bike. Vincent sat there for a moment then followed me as I loped up the driveway. I ignored him as I opened the door to my house and stepped inside. I had so many things running through my head so many questions about things that had happened today that I wanted answered, that I needed answered.

I turned around to see what was taking him so long to come in, when I saw him standing in the doorway as if waiting for something. “You coming in?” I asked him.

He shrugged. “You going to ask me in?”

I rolled my eyes. “But of course, how silly of me.” I muttered sarcastically. “Come in.”

The look on Vincent’s face was hard to describe, he looked triumphant and also surprised.

Ignoring him I walked away from the front entrance and headed into the kitchen. I heard Vincent close the front door, then follow me. I made myself a snack; carrot sticks, gluten-free pretzels and dip then sat at the table. I knew Vincent sat across from me but I didn’t look at him right away.

“You hungry?” I asked absently.

He laughed, and I looked up. “That depends.” His eyes flashed, the pupils narrowing like a cats, then back again.

I blinked. “Ok then.” I muttered, and shrugged. I popped a pretzel into my mouth and crunched on it. Neither of us spoke, and I found the silence slightly awkward. “So I have a few questions.”

His eyebrow raised but he didn’t reply so I continued.

“You are Marissa’s brother?”

He shrugged. “I am.”

I tried not to look shocked. Vincent pulled his leather jacket off, and I could see for the first time his complete tattoo which ran around his wrist; thorns and roses, which seemed to be moving across his skin as he moved. The tattoo wrapped around his wrist then swirled up part of his arm. My heart jumped and I tried not to stare. I knew I had seen this tattoo before… I reached across the table and took his hand, not really realizing what I was doing. His hand was freezing, I traced the intricate patterns on his skin and then looked up at his face. “Weird-- I feel like I’ve seen this somewhere before…”

He looked bewildered; he cleared his throat and took my hand from his own, and placed them on my side of the table. “You had questions?”

I nodded and bit my lip. “I want to know what is really going on like at the diner, the old man said that your life was forfeit if you left with me. What did he mean? Then later Kie-- one of my friends told me to stay away from you, that you were dangerous, my sister said the same thing and-- then Marissa…” I looked up at him. “Why? And what’s with that weird conversation you were having with Mr. Flimheart? And WHY do you keep saying the word ‘human’ like it’s… beneath you?”

Vincent stood and raked his fingers through his windblown hair, he paced the kitchen like a lion on the prowl and then spun to face me, he opened his mouth then slammed it shut. I wondered what he must be thinking, but was lost in staring at his muscled arms leaning on my table.

“That was more the one question.” He muttered eventually. “First of all-- actually... To be completely … there are no simple answers. The first question cannot be answered here or now or maybe ever. I should have left you to fend for yourself at the diner, my being linked to you or any other human is--”

“There you go again saying ‘human’ like its a bad thing and I just don’t understand why.” He was a human wasn’t he?

“I can’t really get into that right now -- it will never make sense to you anyways.”

“What if I want to know.”

“Knowledge is a powerful thing-- it can either help you or harm you. It’s like winning the lottery… and in your case I just think it’s better you remain in the dark for now.”

“I feel like me being in the dark is honestly just getting me into more trouble; and I’m sick and tired of people thinking that I can’t handle the truth.”

“FINE. Let’s just say - I and others like me are ‘bad news’ for you and your kind; and the fact that I’m even here right now with you… it’s bad news for me personally. Like really really bad news … God-- why am I even telling you this.” He stood and looked furious at himself. Then he spun away from me and growled. He didn’t face me for a moment, when he did he did look dangerous like everyone had been telling me he was-- he looked like a wild beast that needed to be tamed. “I am dangerous.”

I tried not to be afraid. I pushed myself up off my chair and walked over to him and poked his swelled chest. “I am not afraid of you.” I looked up at his face. I hadn’t been afraid of Topher-- not really, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to be intimidated by this tough biker guy aura that Vincent was trying to put out.

“You should never have said that.”

From where I stood I was looking up at him-- when he spoke I could see two extremely long curved canines extend in his mouth; I gasped, but could not force myself to step away from him or even stop looking at him, it was like I was hypnotized.

We stood like this for what was probably only a minute when the garage door startled both of us. Vincent grabbed his leather jacket and was out of the house in a second flat, he moved so fast he was a blur of color and I was still standing in the same position in the kitchen as when he had left when mom came in the house.

For a moment Angela stared at me. “Hunny, you ok?” She muttered, dropping her brown bagged groceries onto the counter and turning to look up at me.

I nodded. For the first time in a long time I possibly had a piece of the puzzle I’d been trying to solve. “Yeah I’m fine.” I went and sat down. I wasn’t fine. I felt like a zombie. I knew that if I had seen what I thought I had seen, well then he and Marissa and who knew how many people were-- I shook my head. No; I must have been seeing things.

“How was school?” Angela asked, I blinked at looked at her.

“Ok, why?”

Mom shrugged. “Your teacher called me while I was working in the kitchen this morning; said you weren’t in class.”

I sighed, great, good job Mr. Flimheart, you might be trying to clean up our act and cover your butt but now I looked bad to Angela. What could I even say as an excuse? My whole morning-- scratch that, my whole day had been so, so unbelievable… I was going to have to lie, because a lie would seem more reasonable than the truth.

“Oh yeah, well I wasn’t feeling well so I walked to Subway and bought myself some chicken soup and crackers.” It wasn’t a horrible lie. Was there even a Subway around the school? Probably not. Oh well. It wasn’t as if Angela would personally go check. “Then by the time I got back and ate it in the cafeteria I realized I’d missed a few classes, and it was lunch, but by then I was feeling a lot better so I went back to class for the remainder of the day” I crossed my fingers under the table and hoped that this lie would hold.

Mom didn’t look impressed. “Gen, next time you feel sick just tell them and then come home. You can eat all chicken noodle soup you want here at home. I don’t like thinking of you wandering off by yourself after all that’s happened.” She frowned. “Speaking of which why was there a motorcycle in the driveway when I got home?”

“Well as you can see, there isn’t anyone here.”

Angela sighed. “Must be one of Anna’s friends bikes… I’ll have to tell her I better not catch her on the back of one of those.”

I took this opportunity to leave the kitchen and go up to my room. In my room I paced, I thought about Annabelle and what she had told me about her experience and I thought about what I had seen down at the club on the pier. Lexi and the man in the dark. I thought about what I had just seen in my own kitchen, and the fact that Vincent had needed to be invited into my house before he could come in. But that bit didn’t make any sense, I mean I had never invited Marissa into my house, yet she had come in… but then I didn’t know if Anna had invited her in. I frowned, why was it so hard to ignore the hard evidence of Vampires? I shivered. That couldn’t be what they were-- I mean Marissa went out in the sun, I had seen Vincent in the sunlight-- it didn’t harm them whatsoever. I plunked myself down on my bed.

But then what about all the odd classes going on at School, like the day I had seen someone’s face thrown against the glass of one of the doors. I sighed and fall back into a lying position on my bed. Then I pushed myself up on one elbow. If I was going to prove that something odd was going on, I was going to have to go snoop around at Acroft to get some answers, after the grounds were closed. I pushed myself up off my bed and went to dig through my wardrobe for something dark so I would blend in with the shadows.

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