Blood: Signature

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Blood is everything; but as dark times dawn at Baron Heights, will it define a young group of friends, or destroy them? After being shipped off to boarding school against her will, Monica Ellison is less than thrilled. Attempting to join the school's journalism club in a last ditch effort to make the best of things, she finds herself thrown into world that she never dreamed existed, but that she may find herself wishing would disappear. As she becomes more and more embroiled in a series of dangerous serial attacks, can the Alistair brothers, Jason, Vlad, and Viktor save the day and stop the culprit? Or will it all be more than Monica can take?

Fantasy / Drama
A.J. Trandicosta
Age Rating:

Chapter I: Baron Heights


In all honesty, the days in North Moorsley aren’t much different than the nights. Even as the sun rises, the clouds do their damnedest to fight it. Usually, that means that they try to drown it in rain. Usually, that just means that they end up soaking us instead. While not a single drop had yet fallen that day, still the sound of thunder echoed restlessly in the distance, rolling on at its own angry tempo. To the average person, this might seem more than a little depressing; here, it’s just Monday. We hardly even notice it, anymore. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, the people here are just as gloomy as the weather. That’s not the case in house number 1313, though; especially not on that day. To the contrary, even as the sun was still just halfway over the horizon, the residents there had already long since been in an uproar. On this particular day, they were in a state of turmoil, attempting to complete the final preparations for the trip they were about to embark on. Well...most of them were.

I’m not ashamed to admit that, once I’m asleep, no sound on Earth is loud enough to wake me. As a result, even though my family was busy at work raising the ruckus of the century, I was still snug in my bed. It was several minutes after wake up call before anybody realized that I was nowhere to be seen. Unfortunately, my mother was the one who decided to come correct that. At this point, I feel as though it’s important to mention that even though I can sleep through pretty much any sound, light is a different story altogether. Anything less than complete darkness, and I’m up all night.

Before she did anything else, she removed the blindfold that I was wearing with her thin, bony fingers. Then, she walked up to the extra-thick curtains that were draped over my windows, and uttered a single exasperated sigh before pulling down on the drawstring and unleashing the sun into the room, illuminating every little corner and crevice.

As per usual, my room was an utter mess. Clothes and papers were strewn carelessly over every conceivable surface. It was no exaggeration to say that the floor wasn’t even visible beneath the massive collection of unwashed socks, and half-read comic books that had accumulated there in the three months since I had last bothered t0 clean it.

In one corner sat an old desk that had been neglected for so long that it had long since begun to gather dust. The walls were plastered with posters of all of my favorite bands, and the entire room stunk of air freshener, sprayed in a futile attempt to mask the stench that was being given off by the mound of filth that had consumed it. In fact, the only thing in it that I had bothered to clean recently was a matte black drum set which rested in the corner opposite the desk.

Once again, I’d fallen asleep with the radio on. Had my room not been soundproofed a few years ago because the neighbors kept complaining about my drumming, the volume of the music alone would almost definitely have been enough to wake the entire block.

As the light of the sun poured down on my face, I woke with a start, falling from my bed and landing straight on my head.

“OW! Have you lost your mind?” I yelled, whipping around only to fall instantly silent as I caught sight of my mother‘s fiery orange hair, which was glowing menacingly in the newly present sunlight.

Scarlet Alistair was a short woman. Her head only reached has high as my shoulders. She was also what some might consider to be dangerously thin. Despite that, she was not one to be reckoned with, especially not when she was in a foul mood. I realized my mistake almost as soon as the words had left my mouth. Unfortunately for me, it was already too late to do anything about it.

“Do you have any idea what time it is!” my mother shouted, her deep blue eyes on fire as she scanned the room. It wasn’t a question. Scarlet Alistair didn’t ask questions, and if you were smart you didn’t answer. “And what is the meaning of this mess! Have you even started packing yet. You’re leaving today, you know!”

I remained perfectly silent----I knew from experience that it was best not to interrupt her once someone had sent her off on one of her notoriously long winded tirades. Instead, I brushed my long, dark bangs away from my eyes, leaving the thin strain of white that streaked my hair to tun along the part, and set about packing at a furious pace, all the while enduring my mother‘s seemingly endless rant.

By the time I made my way down the stairs, my two older brothers were already waiting impatiently at the door.

“What the hell took you so long?” yelled Vlad, the middle child.

Vlad was 16 years old. At times, he had the capacity to be easygoing, but he usually lacked the patience. More often than not he opted towards acting impulsively and irrationally. One of his more colorful qualities was that he had a habit of using foul language whenever he found himself even remotely irritated, which was pretty much his default setting. Some had even gone so far as to suggest that he might be bipolar, though his family knew what the truth of the matter was.

Even though Vlad was the middle child, he was also shorter than me. Being the youngest, I enjoyed rubbing this in his face whenever I possibly could. He was dressed in his usual dark hoodie and baggy jeans, with three chains hung from his belt. A flash of Alistair white dominated the front of his otherwise pitch black, short hair.

“We must’ve been waiting for your lazy ass for almost an hour! Right, Vik?” Vlad demanded.

“Shut up, Vlad,” Viktor answered in his typical cucumber-cool manner. “It‘s been fifteen minutes, at most.”

Of the three of us, Viktor was the oldest, tallest, and usually the most composed. He made a habit of always thinking every possible outcome through before taking any action. He was 17 years old and typically dressed in long, dark penny coats like the one he was wearing today. His long hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail which reached down to his shoulder blades, all black, but for one strip of white, which ran from his hairline all the way down to the tips.

Viktor’s response only irritated Vlad even more. “Well either way, we’re going to be late if we don’t hurry the hell up! And what’s with that coat, anyway? It’s like eighty-seven freaking degrees outside as soon as we get out of Moorsley!” he exaggerated.

“Will you boys stop your squabbling!” our mother demanded from the top of the staircase, where she had been making sure I hadn’t forgotten anything I might need. All three of us fell instantly silent. “Vlad, you know very well why your brother is wearing that coat. It’s one of the consequences of his…‘talent.’ Heaven knows it’s the same reason you’re so grouchy all the time.”

Vlad said nothing in reply. He simply narrowed his eyes, and looked away.

“Now is not the time for this, though,” she continued. “We will need to leave immediately if we are to arrive at the station before your buses leave”.

After piling our bags into the trunk, we all filed into the car. It was an old, blue, wood-paneled station wagon which had no doubt seen far better days. Our mother was already sitting in the driver‘s seat, waiting. The car was rarely used, and produced an ominous sputtering sound as it started, releasing a plume of acrid, gray smoke into the air. For a moment, it seemed as though the car might not start at all. Even though it was only a moment though, that short period of inaction was more than enough to try Vlad’s constantly dwindling patience.

“Why do we even have to take this stupid thing?” he growled. “I could probably get there faster on foot!”

“We can’t all be like you, Vlad,” Viktor replied. “Besides, that would kind of defeat the purpose, don’t you think? We’re supposed to be fitting in.”

“Why should we be the ones doing the fitting----,” before Vlad could finish his sentence, the engine kicked in with a loud, mechanical roar, startling him so much that he jumped in his seat. “How freaking old is this thing?” he exclaimed.

A smirk came across Viktor’s face as I burst out in gleeful laughter.

“Hey, shut up, squirt!” Vlad shouted, half out of anger, half out of sheer embarrassment. “It’s not like you don’t do the exact same thing every time mom has to go wake you up in the morning!”

I stopped laughing as I attempted to keep all the blood in my body from rushing straight to my pale cheeks. “Hey, that’s different and you know it! At least I don’t scream like a girl! And who are you calling ‘squirt’? You‘re shorter than I am!”

“What was that?” Vlad fumed. I had hit a sore spot. It seemed as though he was about to go off like a volcano, but our mother had had enough.

“Would the two of you be quiet! You’re starting to get on my last nerve! I don’t want to hear another word from either of you until we get to the station!” she commanded.

Vlad looked as though he was about to say something, but for once his better judgment prevailed, and he held his tongue. Nobody uttered a single word for the rest of the ride. I eventually got so bored that I took to counting the number of red cars that we drove past for the rest of the thirty minute drive. There were sixteen of them.

When the station wagon finally arrived at its destination, an old bus terminal, my brothers and I quickly evacuated the vehicle and removed our bags from the trunk. Our mother didn’t so much as bother getting up from her seat, but instead waited for the trunk to close, and for us to walk over to the driver-side window.

“I’ll see you in the winter,” she said briefly, “assuming that is, that you can all manage to stay out of trouble until then, and I don’t have to see you sooner.” Her gaze was directed squarely at Vlad.

To nobody’s surprise, rather than a look of embarrassment, Vlad’s expression appeared to be one of minor annoyance mixed with a secret sense of satisfaction. Preferring not to respond verbally, he simply gave a slight, sarcastic smirk. Scarlet, however, had already turned her attention away, and had not noticed her son’s attempt at subtle rebellion.

“Just try not to do anything too obvious,” she sighed wearily as she shifted the vehicle into drive. “It’s hard enough covering up for you boys as it is without you going out of your way to make it difficult for me.” Before any of us could say another word she was off, a thick plume of pungent smoke trailing behind her as she went. For a long moment, it was silent. As soon as the rickety old station wagon disappeared over the horizon, though, a familiar voice addressed the us in a comically exaggerated whisper.

“Is she gone?” it asked.

Both Vlad and I jumped, yelping involuntarily as Viktor watched from off to the side, chuckling inwardly in quiet amusement. The two of us turned around to see who it was who had spoken, our faces glowing a violent shade of crimson. Behind us stood a tall boy with long brown hair, and a short, scruffy goatee.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I give you global warming on wheels,” the boy joked, making a characteristically over the top gesture in the direction that the car had driven off in. “Although, I guess that most global warming is technically on wheels…still, I can’t stand being around that thing. The fumes give me headaches!”

“Harry!” Vlad exclaimed excitedly, smiling for the first time that entire day.

“Vlad!” the other boy exclaimed in return.

Harry Brown was Vlad’s best friend, and if anything, even more reckless than my brother, although quite a bit more subdued. “subdued,” though, did not mean smarter. Harry had once even been taken into temporary police custody for somehow managing to cover the bell tower of a church from top to bottom in toilet paper.

Vlad’s expression became suddenly serious, his initial enthusiasm at seeing his friend having already faded. “What the hell are you doing sneaking up on me like that, damn it?” he yelled. “You’re such an ass, sometimes!”

“Aw, calm down Vladie. All this yelling can’t be good for your blood pressure,” Harry teased, a wide grin spreading across his face.

At this, a vein in Vlad’s temple began to pulse so violently, that it seemed as though it could burst at any moment. Then, without warning, the two friends broke out into such raucous laughter that passersby began to stop in their tracks just to see what all the commotion was about.

Viktor and I just stood by helplessly, with our heads hung low in an attempt to avoid any unwanted attention from coming our way. We both completely understood the context of the joke, bad as it might have been, but neither of us saw the point in trying to tell Vlad and Harry that they were causing a scene.

“Oh, yeah?” said Vlad. “Well your parents named you Harry! What the hell is with that? Was it supposed to be some kind of twisted joke?”

The laughter came to another halt as Harry hardened his gaze. Viktor and I both understood the context of this joke, too. It was all I could do not to groan out loud. Harry looked as though he were offended and was about to voice his disdain for the comment, but instead broke out once more into laughter. Vlad followed closely behind.

After lasting through ten seconds of this second outburst, Viktor decided that he had had enough.

“I’m going to go get on my bus,” he said. “Stay here and make sure they don’t do anything stupid.”

I was only half listening, as the other half of my attention was already occupied with attempting in vain to make sense of my brother’s frankly awful sense of humor. I was, however, watching Viktor out of the corner of my eye. As soon as he stepped onto his bus, I immediately broke away from Vlad and Harry, having become aware that they were starting to draw more and more eyes in their direction, and not wanting anything more to do with it.

In the station sat four dazzlingly white busses, each bearing a red stripe, and emblazoned with a golden Roman numeral. Viktor had stepped onto the bus marked “IV”. The buses’ glistening paint caused them to stand in stark contrast to the rest of the terminal, where the effects of frequent vandalism and old age were painfully evident.

Almost every wall had been completely covered in graffiti, and some of the perpetrators had not even bothered to dispose of the now empty cans that had been used to paint their pieces. The canopy under which the station lay was in a state of severe disrepair after a severe hail storm the previous year, which had created several holes that no one had ever bothered to fix.

As is common with bus terminals, a congregation of homeless people had seen fit to make this place their makeshift home. A few men and women in filthy, tattered clothes could be seen sleeping or begging for change along the defaced walls.

As I surveyed my surroundings, I heard a scream from off behind me. I whipped my head around to find that a homeless man had just snatched a bag from a young girl who had been about to walk onto the bus marked “I”. The only thing that I was able to take in of the girl’s appearance though, was that the tips of her otherwise pitch black hair had been dyed an electric shade of blue. Before I could take in any more, I heard a resounding howl come from off in the direction that the purse snatcher had run in.

Turning around once more, he saw that the thief had been tackled to the floor by none other than Harry, who was now wrestling the bag from his grasp. The snatcher was desperate, and did not give the purse up easily. In the end though, there are few people around who are a match for Harry Brown. As Harry got up and walked toward the girl to whom the purse belonged, I decided that I had seen enough. After stowing my luggage in the cargo compartment, I walked toward the door of my bus, which was emblazoned with the numeral, “II,” and waited for the driver to let me aboard.

As I stood there, I caught sight of my reflection in the glass doors and became suddenly aware of the fact that I was subconsciously turning the golden crucifix which I wore on a chain around my neck over in my hands. Although I’ve never been religious, for as long as I can remember I’ve worn the cross as a reminder that I am the master of my own fate, regardless of how anybody else might have me pegged. Like my brothers, I had slate gray eyes, perpetually pale skin that, and a streak of white hair starkly juxtaposed against my otherwise black bangs. Still despite my near ivory complexion, I took it as a point of pride that I managed never to look unhealthy.

After finally being let onto the bus, I wasn’t surprised to find that the inside was nowhere near as luxurious as its exterior might have suggested. The walls were the color of steel, and the red suede seats, while plush, had begun to tear in places, and were peppered with holes and what looked like moth bites.

Luckily, I immediately spotted two familiar faces in the crowd, and made my way to the seat across the aisle from them, sitting down with a heavy thud. One of the boys was already up to his usual antics, and had taken to pestering one of the girls who was sitting just behind him.

“Come on,” he insisted. “Don’t be like that. I mean, I know I’m a little intimidating, but I promise that I only bite when a girl asks me to.” The boy winked.

“Funny, I was just about to tell you to bite me,” the girl shot back sarcastically.

“Hey, I usually like to wait until after the third date, but if you insist…” the boy grinned.

“Jim, would you leave that poor girl alone, already?” the other boy sighed. “You’ve been at it since you got on the bus. It’s pretty obvious she’s not interested. Besides, look who just showed up”.

The boy turned around. James Erickson was about Jason’s height, with messy, black bangs that were cut just short of his piercing blue eyes. As always, he was adorned in his lucky black-and-blue leather jacket.

“Jason!” Jim greeted me loudly, wrapping one arm around my neck, and using the other to give me an enthusiastic noogie. “I can’t even remember the last time I saw you, man!”

“Probably something like six-hundred failed pick-ups ago,” the other boy joked. “Or, if you want to put it in decent people terms, about three months.”

“Oh yeah…” said Jim airily, obviously not bothered by his friend’s sarcasm. “Thanks, Pat!”

“You know that I don’t like to be called that!” the boy snapped.

Patrick Amon’s shaggy brown hair hung thickly over his eyes, completely obscuring them from view. As a result, it was often difficult to read him. At that moment though, there was no question as to how irritated he was.

“Fine, then, ‘Patrick’,” Jim mocked our friend playfully, using his fingers to draw quotation marks in the air.

“Still hitting on anything that moves?” I asked Jim.

“Hey, man, better to have tried and failed than to have failed to try,” Jim told him, looking almost serious as he said it.

“Speaking of people who can’t take a hint…” said Patrick, his voice trailing off.

There was a loud squeal from the front of the bus, and a wave of horror washed over me. The last time that I had heard that sound had been in one of my nightmares. I immediately dove behind the seat in front of me in a feeble attempt to retroactively avoid detection, but it was too late. I had already been seen.

“Jason!” the high-pitched voice shrilled as its owner pounced at me with a barrage of unwanted hugs and kisses, each just barely missing their intended mark as I struggled against them, and instead landing on my cheeks. Each individual contact left a bright red impressions of the girl’s lips on my face.

“Gabby!” I shouted. “Gabby, stop!” I finally managed to shrug her off.

“But, Jason…”

“I told you last year, Gabby, it’s over. We’re done,” I said with an air of harsh finality in my voice. I didn’t like being mean, but nothing I said ever seemed to drive the point through to her.

Gabriella Von Silva, was my ex-girlfriend. She had bright green eyes, usually highlighted by thick black mascara. Her medium-length black hair was dyed blonde on the bottom layer, and teased up into intentionally erratic directions. Around her neck hung a blood red jewel which was strung from a golden chain.

“And what’s with those clothes?” I asked her. Beneath her unzipped hoodie, Gabby was wearing a tight, red shirt which exposed almost her entire midsection, along with a dangerously short black skirt, distressed fishnet stockings, and knee-high boots. “You know you’re going to have to take that off as soon as we get there, right?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Gabby winked at me with a false bashfulness.

Not what I meant,” I hurriedly clarified, already defending myself from another one of Gabby’s assaults. “Can you please, please sit somewhere else? Please?” I asked, almost begging.

“There is nowhere else to sit,” she replied simply. “All of the other seats have already been taken.”

“What!?” I asked in helpless disbelief, almost frantic now. As I looked around I saw, to my dismay, that she had not been lying. “No…” I whimpered pathetically under my breath.

As the bus suddenly lurched into action, I cringed at the thought of being forced to spend the entire trip dodging Gabby’s delusional advances, as Jim and Patrick looked on laughing.

When the bus finally pulled in at its destination, I was the first to run for the door. I had long since had more than enough of Gabby’s deluded affections. As I stumbled onto the gravel pavement which the bus was parked on, I was met by the sight of a fantastic wrought iron fence. The fence was punctuated at uniform intervals by cylindrical stone pillars, and stretched at least fifteen feet high. Looking over my shoulder, I was greeted by the breathtaking view that I had grown to love more and more each time I took it in.

From the top of Baron’s Hill, the had the most beautiful view of Baron’s Village. You could see every single building in the small town, surrounded by thick forest. The only road in or out of it spiraled parallel to the path that led to the outside world, around the imposing hill atop of which rested the magnificent structure standing behind the intricately crafted gates.

“Aw, come on!” somebody yelled.

I looked around to find that the noise was coming from the bus marked “III,” which had just parked behind mine. The driver had Harry by the hood of his sweatshirt, and was dragging him toward the gates.

“Come on!” Vlad protested. “He was just helping that girl out! He didn’t do anything wrong!”

“Do you think I’m stupid, or something? I know exactly what he did, Alistair, and so do you,” said the driver irritably, walking up to the gates and ringing a buzzer that was attached to one of the pillars. “Yeah, it’s Craig,” he said. “Brown’s already at it again. I‘ve gotta take him to see the old lady.”

A female voice on the other end of the intercom exhaled heavily before answering. “Copy that, Craig. Bring him up.” The gate swung open, and Craig walked onto the grounds, dragging Harry behind him as he went. The woman on the intercom spoke once more. “Since the gates are already open, all of you kids can just come on in. If you don’t know where to go, just follow somebody who does.”

Patrick and Jim followed closely behind me as I made my way through the imposing iron gates. Gabby had given up on me for the moment, and was off having an apparently elaborate conversation with some of her friends.

“Can you believe it?” asked Patrick, “First day, and he’s already in trouble”.

“Yeah, well that’s Harry, for you…” Jim’s voice trailed off as a girl with wavy blonde hair walked by. “Uh, can you guys excuse me for a second?”

As Jim strayed away, Vlad walked up behind Patrick and I, and inserted himself between us. “I never get tired of that girl-crazy bastard,” he said, laughing. “Why don’t you ever try your luck with any the girls around here like that, Patty?”

Patrick blushed and, momentarily forgetting about his distaste for nicknames, lowered his head in an attempt to keep us from noticing his glowing cheeks. Although he was clearly flustered, he said nothing as the three of us continued on our way.

The meticulously kept grounds on which we walked were carpeted in neatly trimmed emerald grass, dotted by the occasional tree, and interrupted only by the cobblestone path which guided our way. The path was separated from the lawn by a long row of shrubs, cut into incredible, abstract shapes. It led all the way up to a massive, black marble building, complete with imposing Gothic spires, which stood several stories high. The sun was situated just behind the enormous structure, creating an intimidating, somewhat eerie silhouette.

As we got closer, the finer details began come into focus. Two stone gargoyles sat at either side of the staircase that led up to a pair of great, red double doors. The building’s windows were comprised of painstakingly crafted stained glass, and the black marble walls showed almost no signs of aging, save for the flourishing ivy which had clearly been creeping its way up them for years.

As the doors opened, they revealed the spotless, white marble floors that lined the inside of the building. A strip of bright red carpet ran through the center of the entrance hall, and up a grand staircase. At their peak, the stairs split into two smaller stairways, veering off in opposite directions. Between the two smaller staircases, there was a landing, upon which sat a spectacular arched entryway, leading into a cathedral-like room. Running horizontally through the middle of every black wall was a thin strip that sparkled with gold leafing, outlined by white molding, and disrupted only by the occasional crimson door.

Me and the others walked into the building, up the grand staircase, and through the entryway. The room inside was spacious, and well lit by several elegant lamps which protruded from even intervals along the walls. At the front of the room sat a black, rounded stage with a podium resting close to its edge, and polished up bright for the occasion.

The space within the room was occupied by four groups of theater seats, cradling the stage. Each section embroidered with a different Roman numeral. The red section was labeled in gold thread with the numeral I; the white section, labeled in black thread with the numeral II; the black section, labeled in red thread with the numeral III; and the gold section, labeled in white thread with the number IV. In contrast to the walls outside the room, the walls within were made of white marble, matching the floors, and had no gold leafing running along them.

The large gathering of people divided into groups, each group moving toward one of the four sections. Me and Patrick sat down in section II, and were eventually joined by Jim, whose left cheek was now glowing a violent shade of red. When we asked him why, he just shrugged his shoulders, and placed his hands in the pockets of his jacket. Gabby, to my great relief, was seated several rows behind us.

Rather than taking his proper place in section III, Vlad had instead chosen to sit directly behind us, apparently having gotten over his earlier fit of irritability. He explained himself by saying that it was, “no fun over there without Harry,” and left it at that. Looking around, I found that Viktor had taken a seat squarely at the front of section IV, where he belonged.

After everyone was seated, a small woman, hunched over with age and sporting a mane of proud silver hair, cut just short of her wire-framed glasses, made her way through the red curtains, supporting her weight on a knotted cane. As she reached the podium, she leaned her cane at its side, and grabbed its edges for support. Stooping over the microphone, she took a long look at the faces in the audience, sending an immediate hush through the room. Once every other sound around her had dissipated, the elderly woman spoke.

“Welcome, young ones!” she said. “Welcome to Baron Heights Boarding School!”

After sitting through the same drawn out speech that we had heard delivered the year before, we were all dismissed from the auditorium and asked to head over to the gymnasium, where the school’s clubs had already set up stands and were recruiting for new members.

I walked from stand to stand, feigning interest. Honestly, I had already decided that I was’t going to join any clubs this year. I had tried to join music club last year, but it hadn’t worked out very well due to several conflicting interests. Turns out, I already had too much on my plate. Lesson learned.

As I was pretending to read through a pamphlet from the botany club, a boy with shaggy brown hair ambled past me, holding his head in one hand. As the boy looked uneasily around, I noticed an instantaneous flash of red in his eyes.

Before I could fully process what I’d seen, a telltale metallic din of chain link against chain link sounded from behind me, closely followed by Vlad’s voice. “Looks like Winston’s at it again,” he decladed.

I jumped. “You know you’re not supposed to do that in public!” I yelled.

“Whatever,” said Vlad, the usual tones of mischief and irritability completely absent from his voice. “It’s your turn.”

I was almost glad for the excuse to escape the gym. I searched around and found that Avery Winston had just reached the emergency exit at the back of the room. I quickly trailed behind him, making it a point not to be seen. Luckily, since everyone else was in the gymnasium, there would be no potential liabilities this time.

As Avery stumbled his way through the grounds, he was so transfixed with finding whoever or whatever it was that he was looking for that he seemed not to notice me following him. He made his way down the hill, walking along the path that led into Baron’s Village, and into the surrounding woods.

My first instinct was to breathe a sigh of relief, but I thought better of it, and remained silent. Had Avery strayed into the village, I would have had a problem on my hands. Here, though, I had the advantage. The trees would provide me with excellent defense from detection.

I patiently shadowed Avery, knowing that the boy could make his move at any moment, and that I had to remain vigilant. Even ambling about the way that he was, Avery was still quicker than the average individual. I had to take special care not to lose sight of him.

After making his way deep into the woods, Avery eventually stopped just outside of a clearing, looking hungrily off past the trees. I followed his gaze, and almost immediately saw what had caught his attention.

Before I could do anything to stop him, Avery had already pounced straight for it, traveling the entire distance between himself and the deer he had spotted, approximately five yards, in a single bound. The boy effortlessly subdued the poor animal, taking it down onto the forest floor. Wasting no time, he tossed his head back, savagely preparing to sink his teeth into his prey. Before he could follow through with this ravenous lunge though, I made my move.

I dashed as quickly as I could, attempting to reach the animal before any real damage could be done, and plowed into Avery, knocking him back several feet.

Avery, however, quickly rebounded back onto his feet, hissing as he made another charge for the deer. His eyes flashed with menacing intent. They were a blur of bloody red as he moved. I intercepted him, holding him back just long enough for the deer to make its escape, and then tossed him back onto the ground.

“We don’t have to do this, Avery,” I attempted to reason with him, hoping to avoid any further conflict. “You know that if I have to take you in again, you’ll be expelled. Now, if you would just calm down, we could talk this through. Nobody has to know about this slip up.” I was bluffing. Regardless of the outcome, I would have to turn Avery in. I knew, though, that my target would be easier to handle if I was able to somehow calm him down. Avery was still for a moment, almost as if in consideration, before bounding at me once more.

I breathed a heavy sigh. Why don’t they ever just take the bait? I thought. Oh well, I guess it’s more fun like this, anyway.

I deflected Avery as he attempted to latch onto me. The two of us began to circle each other like animals fighting for dominance. The air was thick with tension, and we both knew that the other could strike at any moment, so neither of us was willing to let our guard down.

It wasn’t long before Avery eventually ran out of patience though, just like I knew he would, and made a move. Of course, I was thinking more clearly than my opponent. My mouth filled with a familiar sensation of radiating warmth, emanating from my gums as my canine teeth began to grow longer, and sharper, in preparation for what needed to be done.

As Avery shot toward me, I held my forearm up to my chest. As quickly as I could manage, I bit into my wrist, penetrating my skin and allowing the blood to flow…

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Amber Knauss-Crossman: The story is an easy read with better grammar so far compared to others that I have read in the past, which makes it more enjoyable.

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awecraz: I love to see strong Khushi, Akash and Payal. Another good thing is a sensible Arnav, even with his short temper and as annoying as Anjali is, it hardly bothers me, in fact made the plot more interesting...I could't stop myself from getting up to date with the story once I found it..Beau...

Rita Mcintyre: You are very good at helping us visualize and feel what the characters are doing! Makes me wish this was true because I would love to have a mate who loves as completely as you portrays! Great job again 🙃

Rita Mcintyre: I am amazed at how you explained the dragon’s life, skills and appearance! Well done again 🙃

Jeniah: Loved it! Great book

jordananeylon: This story is a wonderful story. I can’t wait to read more

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