For the first sixteen years of my life, everything had been mundane. I was born into a rich family – only six months ago did I find I was adopted – and as such, had the upper class upbringing that came with all of the money. My friends were all upper class and anyone other than that was frowned upon. Even with that sort of mundane upbringing I had always felt out of place and was drawn to doing dangerous things. A feeling that I thought would go away when I found out was adopted.
After that revelation the feeling only intensified. I found myself wishing that my life weren’t so mundane and that some excitement would enter my life. Going to an upper class school in New York, there weren’t many opportunities for me to find any source of excitement. With a sigh I leaned my forehead against the cool glass of the Mercedes that was given to me for my sixteenth birthday about a year ago.
It had never been driven by me. My parents always insisted that I needed my driver to drive me places and that I was unable to do that. They didn’t trust me.
Today was the eve of my seventeenth birthday and in my blood I could just feel that change was coming. My phone which was lying in my lap buzzed and I looked down at it.
Cassie: Are you almost here yet?
Cassie – Cassandra Analise Dubois – and I had been friends since we were in diapers. Her parents were low upper class but since her fourteenth birthday they had come into a considerable amount of wealth. As such my parents didn’t care if she and I were friends. Out of all my friends they favored Cassie the most since she was destined for an Ivy League school and she was the most well-behaved. Everyone else in our little circle wasn’t very well behaved. Sasha was a slut to put it bluntly and was going to use her assets instead of her intelligence to get her far in life, Kian was a jerk and an expert manipulator, and Miranda was more into drugs and being free.
So yeah, those three weren’t exactly people you would want to introduce to your stuck-up rich parents.
Calla: I’m on my way, Cass. Calm down.
Less than a minute later my phone buzzed.
Cassie: Well hurry up. Get here SOON.
Fortunately we arrived at the school less than five minutes later. Stepping out of the car, I was greeted by an unimaginable and unfathomable sight. The school – part of it, anyways – was in ruins. Rubble – mostly stone, but some metal and wood – was on the ground. At least half of the school was caved in.
It looked like a warzone. The driver honked his horn and I bent down retrieving my backpack. Then he sped off. When I looked back at the school the carnage was gone.
As in poof!
Like it had never even been there. My brows furrowed I slowly made my way over to Cassie whose blonde locks were pulled back into a bun. Her face was filled with confusion as she looked at me.
“Hey there, you just zoned out.” She said once I was within arm’s reach. She hugged me. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine.” I said with a shake of my head dismissing her concern. “Just got lost in my thoughts that’s all.”
“You sure?” She checked giving me a once-over.
I nodded, and crossed my arms.
“Whatever.” Cassie said waving her hands. “Look.” She grabbed my shoulders and pulled me forward, turning me in the direction of the auditorium.
Or what used to be the auditorium.
“Someone burned it down last night.” Cassie said her voice gleeful. “And get this, they think that it was Andrew Manaheim.”
“Andrew?” I asked her, my voice surprised.
Andrew Manaheim had supposedly burned down the auditorium? Somehow I didn’t believe that. Andrew Manaheim was the smartest guy in school – smart enough that if he committed a crime he wouldn’t get caught – and he definitely wasn’t stupid enough to do this. Not to mention, he wouldn’t jeopardize his future scholarships to burn down the school.
He had nothing against the school or anyone who attended the school. Burning down the school just didn’t make any sense. Andrew was the sweetest guy in New York – heck he was probably the sweetest guy in the whole world. He wouldn’t just go and burn down the auditorium.
“Are you sure they think that it was Andrew?” I asked Cassie skeptically.
“Yes,” she said a little frustrated with a roll of her eyes, “I’m sure that they think that it was Andrew. He’s the only one who stays after school for an undetermined amount of time. He had the opportunity.”
“But not a motive.” I pointed out.
Cassie rolled her baby blue eyes. She waved her hand dismissively, “Motive doesn’t matter, Cal. As long as they think that he had opportunity he’s screwed.”
Movement over her shoulder drew my attention. A gurney covered in a large black tarp was being wheeled away from the auditorium and the urge to scream built in my throat. I covered my mouth with my hands. An arm fell from the bed of the gurney, a gold watch on the wrist the only thing visible.
Nobody here wore gold watches - or watches at all – a lot of the kids said that they were tacky. But Andrew always wore a gold watch.
“I don’t think it was Andrew, Cassie.” I said my voice quiet.
“What?” She asked turning around. “Oh my God.”
I nodded solemnly as Cassie’s eyes filled with tears. We hadn’t known Andrew that well but Cassie was a very empathetic person. Death was something that bothered her immensely too, so seeing a dead body – even if it was covered by a sheet – was something hard for her to process. I looked away from her. My eyes fell on someone – or something – horribly disfigured. I couldn’t see anything apart from the gnarled old hands holding a sword much too big for its small frame.
A screech sounded from above and a hawk – or maybe it was a falcon – swooped down from above, aiming for the figure clothed in all black. With a swing of the sword the bird was cut in half. Blood splattered onto the ground and then I blinked and it was gone.
The bird, the blood and the mysterious sword-wielding person.
What the hell?
I reached up to rub at my temples. I was going crazy.
“Calla, hey.” Cassie said, shaking my arm.
I jumped, looking at her with wide eyes. She held her hands up in surrender, her eyes filling with concern as she looked at me.
“Are you okay?” She asked.
I nodded, looking away from her awkwardly. I was 99.9 percent positive that she’d be able to see that I was lying. When she didn’t say anything I relaxed. That feeling of relief quickly faded when my eyes fell upon a figure standing less than three feet away from me.
It was a guy – a really handsome one – with golden hair and golden eyes. His skin was pale as snow and he was dressed in all black. A gun was holstered near his hip and in his hand he was loosely clutching an ornate silver dagger. His eyes were on me and I shivered, biting my lip as I continued to stare at him.
His eyes narrowed into a harsh glare and he took a step forward, lifting his dagger. Before he was able to throw it or do something with it, he was tackled and then they disappeared. My eyes widened and I looked around wildly.
Where did they go?
I abruptly stilled, acutely aware that I was looking insane. I was probably going insane. I ran a hand through my black locks and sighed, crossing my arms over my chest. I took a deep breath.
I was hallucinating. That was it. There was no other explanation for what was happening. I mean what else could it be? I was seeing strange things – things that no one else could see – and then I would blink and poof, the things that I was seeing were gone.
I rubbed at my eyes. I was starting to get a little anxious and quite understandably wanted to cry.
“Students, school is cancelled.” An authoritative voice called out. “Please call your parents and get home.”
“Well,” Cassie said with a bright smile, “At least one good thing came out of the tragedy I guess.”
“Cassie!” I gasped a little stunned that she would say that.
“What?” She asked with a laugh. “I hate school. Yeah, it absolutely sucks that Andrew – if that even was Andrew – died. But no school!”
“Cassie…” I sighed, honestly at a loss for words.
I think that this was just Cassie trying to deal with death. Cassie didn’t know how to react with death and it was something that made her really uncomfortable. She was being a little insensitive but I think that this was just her way of trying to deal with it.
She just shrugged. With a shake of my head, I pulled out my phone to text the driver and ask him to come pick me up. Since there were no classes today, I would take the time to relax and recoup. I needed a mental health day.
Before I really went crazy.
* * * * *
After being picked up from school, the first thing I did when I got home was pull out the ice cream and just sit back and relax. Today – even though it had virtually just begun – had been a really stressful day. I had been seeing things that weren’t really there. I sighed, leaning my head against the back of the couch.
I must have fallen asleep because when I opened my eyes, the sky was turning varying shades of red, pink, purple and orange. My stomach rumbled and I got to my feet, preparing to make myself a sandwich or something when I froze. I turned around, my eyes going wide. Standing near the window, was the boy I had seen earlier. The boy with the golden hair and the dagger.
He bared his teeth at me in a menacing smile. He withdrew the dagger from his boot and twirled it around in his hand.
Watch your back, he mouthed.
Then I blinked and he was gone.
After that several thoughts ran through my mind. Mostly, I was going insane – there was no other explanation and I needed to go to an asylum or some other mental health facility. Other thoughts included wondering who the hell that boy was. If he was even real at all.
He looked real. He seemed real. Other than the whole, disappearing within a blink of an eye thing. If he was real, who was he? What did he want with me?
Or the more pressing question: Why was I able to see him? Why could no one else see what I was seeing? The doorbell rang, startling me out of my thoughts. Heading to the door instead of the kitchen, trepidation filled my body.
I had this feeling that everything in my life was going to change the moment that I opened that door. Opening the door, I felt my mouth drop open. A boy was standing there – dark haired, and wearing a white shirt that clung to his chest, dark-washed jeans hung low on his hips, and his eyes were a startlingly dark purple color.
“Are you Calla McCarthy?” He asked, his voice as smooth as silk.
I swallowed, my cheeks alight with fire as I looked down. Holy crap. Was there any way that I could have been more obvious with my staring?
“Um yeah, that’s me.” I answered after clearing my throat. I looked back up at him. “Who are you?”
“Grayson,” he answered, “and I’m here to protect you.”