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Cassian Legacy: The Vampire Prince

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Chapter 1

The bell rang loudly in the hall. It was only loud to my ears even though a cement wall stood between my body and the speaker. That didn’t matter much anymore these days. I had gotten used to the incessant noise it made. The first month of listening to the buzzer caused migraines of astronomical proportions. But like most of my new schedule, I learned to block out unpleasant necessities that I wasn’t quite accustomed to.

I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, already having packed up my supplies for calculus. I was always the first to the door and the first in the hallway, while the other kids took their time moving their belongings into their backpacks and chatting about their plans for future excursions. The hall filled rapidly with teens as they meandered on their way to the next class of the day.

Lockers suddenly flared to life as the boys exchanged books from their depths and girls smeared lip gloss from an inlaid mirror against the door. They all slammed the metallic doors shut, not in unison but in a series of cadences that sounded like a personal music score. I focused in on the thousands of feet that paraded on the white tile. The soft pitter-patters of shoes on the linoleum floor helped with my headaches, that way it wouldn’t explode with the painful noise from the slamming of lockers. While the white noise filled my head, I made my way to AP English.

I was nearing the door to the red bricked room when some kid ran into me. Usually I avoided people, and they avoided me, but for some reason we both weren’t paying attention this day. He and his buddies must’ve been fooling around in the hallway, playing tricks on one another as the girls looked on. I caught several bright faces already blushing and pointing in our direction. He apologized once and continued on his merry way, but as I took a step inside the room, my foot kicked a book. I glanced down, noticing the unique black cover. I bent low and scooped it up, noting it was a journal of some sort. The kid must’ve dropped it when he ran into me. When I turned around to give it back, he was nowhere in sight, probably already disappeared into his next class.

I resolved then that I would feed it back to him at lunch, making it one of the only times I willingly walked into the loudest room in the building. I imagined that it was not as loud as I perceived it to be, at least at times when there were no students present. But the room itself was designed to amplify noise, and with eight hundred students eating, talking, smooching, moving chairs, and doing whatever else they felt inclined to do, the room itself was a thunder dome.

Twenty seven seconds after taking my chair near the opposite side of the room from the door, the bell rang again. A few others stumbled inside, practically late as Dr. Edwards called for order. We had been studying for the upcoming AP test, which I was scheduled to take but didn’t necessarily have to. This wasn’t my first time in this type of class, nor would it be the last.

I spent most of my life traveling from city to city, state to state, and country to country. I was fluent in over four languages already, and had attended so many schools they all blurred into one. I particularly liked this school – not for the environment but for the curriculum. It was one of the best educational experiences I had ever had. The school wasn’t a public school, but a private one. I had to pay dues to keep up my education, but it was worth every penny.

All of us wore some form of uniform, even if it wasn’t enforced strictly. White buttoned dress shirts were required of all students. The boys wore khaki or black pants while the girls wore the same colored pants or a plaid navy and green skirt. Black shoes, white socks or stockings, and either the navy and green plaid ties or the navy vest was worn with all the other pieces of the ensemble. I was fond of the vest myself as I didn’t like things that hugged my neck. And I only wore the skirt because the material of the pants made my skin itch.

I crossed my legs and bent over to read the next chapter of Great Expectations. This wasn’t the book that the rest of the class read, but I was further along than the rest of them. Dr. Edwards let me read whatever piece of literature I wanted, as long as it coincided with AP testing. While the other students discussed Steinbeck, I lost myself in Dickens. Only when it came time for the pop quiz did I put the book away.

The quiz wasn’t too bad, but it had essay questions along with multiple choice ones, all designed around an actual AP test. I briefly wrote down my answers, cited sources, and handed in the paper. I completed it earlier than the rest of the class, and so I was excused.

I didn’t have long before the bell would ring, signaling the start of the lunch hour. Since I needed to give the boy his book back, I headed to the dining hall, arriving ahead of the rest of the flock. I chose a cozy table in the back of the room by the nearest exit, and put my back to the wall so I would be able to see every student that walked into the room. There were many doors, but that didn’t deter me. I would spot him emerging from behind one of them eventually. My brain kept up with the chaos.

It didn’t take long for the teenagers to pour into the lunchroom once the bell rang. I focused in on their soft shoes hitting the floor as the decibels rose to high levels. It seemed louder than the last time I came in here. Maybe that was due to the fact there were several new students present as I didn’t recognize their faces. But as they milled into the room, I scanned each one, searching for the boy who dropped his journal.

After ten minutes the crowd thinned. Most of the students chose tables they were familiar with. Some flocked to areas that were empty when others took their supposed places. I never understood that kind of behavior with the cliques in this school or any other. It was as if that particular table or chair was theirs and no one else’s even though the seats were all the same – black chairs surrounding wooden round tables. There were fewer students arriving than from before, and none of them were the supposed guy I needed.

Had I missed him in the throng? It would be a first, but at least I would find him once I scanned the area.

I gazed around the lunchroom, searching for his face. Eventually I spotted him. He lounged in one of the chairs near the center of the room, looking quite bored from the expression on his face. Occasionally he smirked, but only when the pair that occupied his table broke out with grins sculpted onto their perfect faces.

I studied them closely. They were some of the new students at the school I didn’t recognize them. Several people walked up to greet the trio, most of them girls. They didn’t stay long and the boy didn’t smile at any one of them. This was odd behavior as the girls themselves were quite beautiful. I figured that any boy would like to have their attention. In fact all of the boys here liked to have that particular clique of the girls’ attentions from past observations.

I was about to make my move on the trio when a group of girls and boys suddenly sat down at my table, like I was saving the seats here for them. I stared at each of them in turn wondering why they chose to sit next to me. It was odd because most people avoided me. I wasn’t just an average high school student - I was peculiar and unreadable to them.

The closeness of their chatter focused my attention on them and I dropped my concentration on the pitter-patter of shoes on the floor. I was forced to listen to their conversation.

“Do you think he’ll join the soccer team?” the short kid asked. He was smaller for a boy of his age.

A red-haired beauty shook her long curls. “Nah, he looks like a lacrosse guy.”

“He’s such a gorgeous beauty,” the other girl followed. She sighed heavily, ruffling her strawberry blond hair slightly. “I wonder if he’ll go with me to the prom.”

“Prom’s a long ways off,” the other boy retorted. He was much taller than the shorter kid. He cracked open his soda can, took a sip, and glanced at the last girl who spoke. “Besides, I thought you were going with me.”

She punched his shoulder. “Not a chance, Nate.”

He smiled and chugged his cola.

“So have you heard about what happened downtown?” the red head asked.

They all shook their heads.

“There’s been a string of murders lately. But the latest body found had multiple puncture wounds. The scary thing is the blood was completely drained.”

I froze. I had avoided company for far too long that I forgot that teenagers had the best gossip. If what she stated was true then I needed to switch my priorities until I found the culprit.

“They’re chalking it up to cultists,” she added.

The blond dropped her sandwich. “Where in downtown was this?”

The other girl thought for a moment. “I think it was in the west end.”

“Not near the Red Curtain?” Her face and tone was incredulous.

The other girl shook her head instantly. “No, not near the club, but much further down the street. I think it was at least a couple of blocks away.”

The blond sighed and resumed eating her sandwich. “Thank goodness. I don’t think I could think of a lie good enough to deceive my parents.”

The boy called Nate snickered. “It’s not like it would be the first time, Krista.”

She kicked him from underneath the table. It shook slightly, but he made a face while grinning, knowing he agitated her while she looked smug that she had hit her mark.

“With all the bickering you two do, I’d swear you’d both be making out by this point,” the short kid laughed. He brushed back his long black bangs and winked at the red head.

“Shut up!” Krista and Nate both shouted in unison.

I decided quickly that he was right. In the few moments I knew these kids, the pair was definitely headed for a relationship soon, even if they both decided against it for the time. I’d seen this type of situation before and it wouldn’t be the last.

I half smiled and shook my head at the two of them, momentarily distracted from my goal.

Finally Nate noticed that I was at the table with them. My subtle move must’ve awakened them to my presence.

“You have something to add?”

His question brought them all to my attention. Their eyes strayed to my face and for the first time I felt like I sat among friends, like I belonged here. They didn’t look unhappy by the fact I’d been listening to their dialogue. At other tables or with different kids from different cliques the situation might have been awkward, but as it was, I felt like I could say anything I wanted in front of them without having to deal with bad repercussions from talking with the teens as I had in the past.

I crossed my arms and smiled. “I agree with your friend. Having seen and experienced a love-hate relationship before. You two might as well get it over with. Kiss, make out, see how it goes.”

Nate and Krista both dropped their food and glanced at each other. Krista squirmed looking disgusted from the thought of kissing Nate, plus Nate didn’t express happiness regarding my suggestion either. They both shook their heads, shivered from a sudden chill, and went back to eating.

“I’m glad someone agrees with me,” the other boy stated. He met my eyes and raised his chin slightly. “I’m Seth Sievertson. Are you new here?”

Seth Sievertson. The name sounded familiar. I think he was in my Chemistry class.

I shook my head. “No. I’ve been here for about three months now.” I kept the answers short. It was better for them if they didn’t know who I was.

“Three months?” Nate exclaimed. “How come we haven’t seen you around?”

“She’s probably been hiding from your laughable charms,” Krista scolded. She looked up at me and straightened her back slightly. “Don’t mind him. I’m Krista Jones and this is Nathan Eckhart.”

The red head smiled. “I’m Mallory Gregory. It’s nice to meet you.”

I returned the smile, but didn’t respond in the way that I should. Maybe if I was quiet enough they’d leave me alone. Plus I still needed to return the book to the guy and my time at lunch was rapidly draining away the longer they held my attention.

Mallory’s smile slowly disappeared. They all stared at me, but I didn’t know why. Usually by now people ignored me when I made it clear I didn’t want to talk to them.

Seth finally leaned forward, closing the gap between us. “You know we can’t call you by your name unless you give it,” he whispered.

They wanted to know my name. My name was weird already, a name from ages past, and not often used. I sighed heavily, not wishing to speak it, but giving it nonetheless. “Abelia.”

They all narrowed their eyes, trying to make sense of it.

“Did you say Amelia?” Krista questioned, nearly getting it right.

Of course they’d confuse it with that. “No, Abelia. A – B – E – L – I – A. Like Abel with an ‘I – A’ at the end.”

Several ‘Oh’s’ followed.

“That’s kind of an odd name.” Mallory gave me a sympathetic look. “I thought I had it bad with Anita. That’s my first name, though I go by Mallory so that I’m not laughed at.”

I sort of smiled, but it might have come off as a smirk – I was out of practice with this stuff.

“So, can I call you Abel?” Seth piqued.

The others looked like they wanted to call me by that as well.

I shrugged not really bothered by it. “Sure.”

“Nice to meet you Abel.”

I smiled once more, to let them know I was satisfied. My eyes discovered the clock on the far wall. There wasn’t much time left for lunch and I still had an errand to run. “If you will excuse me, I need to return a book.” I stood up and slung my bag over my right shoulder.

“Will we see you here tomorrow Abel?” Krista suddenly asked. She smiled genuinely at me, like we had been friends for a long time.

I flustered, mostly because this was my least favorite place in the world. It was crowded and noisy. “I don’t usually eat here.”

“Oh.” Her face fell. She looked like she wanted me to be here tomorrow.

“But I guess I can return.” I made an exception, which was a first.

Mallory threw me a grin before biting into her hamburger.

“Same time, same place?” Seth smiled.

I nodded once and turned before anything more was stated or implied. The thought that I had made four friends was unnatural to me. I never really had friends before, and this was not because I moved around a lot - it was because of the life I led.

I made a direct path to my target. He still sat smugly in his chair, leaning back and letting his long legs stretch out in front of him. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up to his elbows, so I knew he was hot and probably sweating. He made no signs of life as he stared at some spot on the wall to his right, but as I approached the table he inhaled deeply and his eyes flickered up to meet mine.

He watched me then, and I held his gaze never once stumbling upon the floor even though there were many obstacles I had to dodge. The kids let their bags lay wherever they landed on the floor. That didn’t necessarily mean they were placed beside their chairs. In some cases books and pencils were loose, rolling around. I stepped over these blockades, but never once did I drop my eyes from his gaze.

I stopped at the table and placed the book on the smooth wooden surface. “You dropped this.”

He glanced down at the book and then back up at me. The friends who sat with him both stared at the book, looking like they were afraid of something though I didn’t know what. It was only a journal after all.

“Thanks,” he responded shortly.

Before I left the area, his eyes narrowed slightly but the blank fathomless expression was plastered once more onto his face in a matter of a few seconds. As I left the dining hall I glanced back at the table through the window in the door. He swept the journal into his bag and started conversing with his friends rapidly. Whatever I did had him flustered and that didn’t make any sense. It was only a journal, one that I didn’t read.

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