WITHOUT A WORD, Amanda takes us home and I sit in the back wedged between Duncan and Carmine. Amanda looks sad, but I assume it is just because she had to rescue me from Ethan and she had to kill a lifelong friend.
Carmine leans into me and she rests her head on my shoulder. She says again relieved, “I am so glad you are safe, Susie.”
Duncan nudges me from the other side and I look at him, smiling relieved because there is no awkwardness between us.
Andrew does not say anything and he stares out of the window ahead of him.
When we get home, I assume Andrew will come in, but he says goodbye to Amanda and then he walks away by himself. My eyes follow him confused. When we were trapped under the house, he told me he liked me and now he is back to ignoring me again.
I do not have time to ponder him too long because Carmine starts to chatter again. She tells me how she could not believe I am a vampire and she never suspected anything. After the accident, she did wonder a little, but she had the same excuses I had—adrenaline and shock. There are many stories of mothers who have done amazing things to rescue their children, and if I recall correctly, I think one of those stories included a woman who lifted a car to free her child from under it.
Amanda goes upstairs and Carmine, Duncan and I talk late into the night. They ask me question after question, but I only answer those I know would not shock them. When they ask about my feeding habits, I lie and tell them we do not kill people for blood. They are amazed when I tell them how many vampires have integrated with the human race and how we live with them every day. Some have managed to integrate better than others.
I do not go to school the following day. I have to stay in the basement for two weeks during the day and drink my pill dutifully every morning. We are not sure how long the pill takes before it starts working. We started drinking it so long ago and Amanda can only vaguely remember it took about a week. She does not want to take any chances, so she decides and I agree to be absolutely safe, I would stay in the basement for two weeks.
IT HAS BEEN a week already and one night after dusk, I come upstairs and go to the kitchen where I know I will find Amanda.
I ask her the same question I have asked for the last seven nights, “Is there any messages for me?”
She shakes her head distractedly and says, “I did phone the school though and explained you have a bad flu and would only be back at school next week.”
I hesitate, but then ask, “Andrew didn’t phone?” I quickly add, “Or Carmine?”
“Carmine phoned and I am sure she will be here any second now.” It is as if Amanda foretold it because the doorbell rings just as she finishes her sentence.
Getting up from the chair, I say, “Don’t worry. I’ll get it.”
I open the door smiling widely. It has been a long, long boring day and even Carmine’s incessant babble will shorten the night.
It is not Carmine, though, but Andrew. I look at him uncertainly and he smiles bashfully. I force myself to smile friendly.
He says, “Hey.” He looks unsure of himself and he looks at me questioningly.
“Hello, Andrew.” I am still upset. He told me how much he liked me, or I thought he did, and then he just ignored me again.
“Can I come in?”
“Why?” Besides the lies he told me when he thought he was dying, we had nothing to discuss. Admittedly, I did want to see him, but I have played this very conversation in my mind repeatedly and have concluded I must forget Andrew completely. How stupid can one vampire be, falling in love with a plain, weak and frail human?
He sighs exasperatedly. “Can I just come in, Susie?”
I exhale noisily. “Why, Andrew?”
“Look, I am sorry I did not come sooner, but I have my reasons.”
I step backwards, my hand on the door, ready to close it in his face.
He steps forward. “Don’t close the door.”
“What do you want, Andrew? Where is Carmine?”
He pushes into me and he takes me by surprise so I step backwards. He pushes the door closed behind him with a backwards sweep of his hand, while he mumbles, “I convinced Carmine not to come.”
I turn to him and look at him disbelievingly. He looks back at me and I cannot stop the words when they rush from my lips, “I thought you said you liked me? You just walked off after we got home, so are you confused now and not sure you could like someone like me?”
He steps to me, but I start walking past him to the lounge. He turns to follow me and as I walk into the room, picking up the television remote from the coffee table, he says suddenly, unwaveringly, “It could be that hug you and Duncan shared because when I climbed over the lip of that chasm, it looked very heart-rending.”
I turn to look at him, unable to hide the surprise on my face. “It meant nothing and you could have asked me then, not sulk off and leave me wondering what is wrong with you!”
He frowns briefly and then he steps closer to me.
Sitting down on the couch, I ask nonchalantly, “So? Do you want to play a game? I am seriously bored.”
He sits down next to me on the couch and then he turns to me. “Okay. I am sorry for just walking off and not saying anything. If I said anything, you would have thought of me as jealous and I did not want that. I had to process it first.”
“It really didn’t mean anything. I was just so relieved to be out of that basement and to feel accepted. It felt as if a great burden fell from my shoulders because I wondered what everybody would say or was thinking after the night of the accident.”
He smiles slowly as if he understands my concerns and my explanations, and then he leans into me, just as I stand up. I will forever regret that moment when I did not stay sitting still and I would have felt his lips on mine, but I let that moment pass, unfortunately.
I ask, not wanting him to see the regret in my face, “Do you want to play Urbz?”
“Okay, that sounds like fun—no senseless killing game for you today?”
Casually I answer, feeling offended, “No, I keep killing to the real world. Are you honestly going to continue trying to offend me?”
“Once again, sorry. I am being spiteful because it feels after I confessed how I feel about you, there is this awkwardness between us. Not that we spoke much before the rescue, but I felt comfortable with you then, now it just feels embarrassing.”
Silently I put the disc into the gaming console and I hand him his gaming control. Sitting down on the floor and leaning back into the couch, I say pleasantly, “Let’s just play. I’ll choose my character first.”
He slides down the couch and sits down next to me on the floor, pulling his knees up and rests his arms between his legs. He laughs softly. “Really? You are going to call yourself Simone?”
Smiling brightly, I turn to him. “Yes, and I think you should be Simon.”
We start the game as two individuals, we run off to work, we return home, clean puddles and build our homes filling it with furniture. The time passes quickly and somewhere in between living virtual lives, Amanda came in and said goodnight.
Later on, I laugh. “Hey, keep your SIM away from me. I am already married here.”
He guffaws. “Ya, but look how much Simon loves Simone, he cannot stay away from her. Simone is breaking his heart.”
He guides his SIM closer to my SIM, and they lock into an embrace and then the screen goes blurry.
He says softly, “Don’t you just hate when that happens. Do they really have to hide the fun parts?”
I punch at him playfully, feeling uncomfortable, and then he leans into me. He puts his arm around my shoulders and he pulls me closer to him. Softly he brushes his lips over mine and immediately I feel a warmness rush over me. He brings his hand up and then he gently holds his hand against my cheek, while kissing me with slow determination. It is the longest, most breath-taking kiss, I have ever experienced—my first real kiss. When he gently pulls away from me, he looks at me with a soft smile. Tenderly he says, “I know how I feel about you and I am really sorry for being jealous.”
We kiss again and soon after he says, outwardly frustrated, “I better leave, the sun will be up soon and I have to make sure I am home before Carmine’s dad wakes up.”
He stands up and I follow him up from the floor. Together we walk to the door hand in hand, and then at the end of the driveway, on the verge, he turns to me and takes me into his arms. I reach up to him and he kisses me again.
He smiles. “Jeez, I cannot stop kissing you. As soon as one kiss ends, I have this compulsion to reach in for another.”
I laugh softly, embarrassed.
He sighs deeply. “I’ll see you again tomorrow night?”
I smile shyly. “I’ll be here.”
“Is nine too early?”
“No, it’s perfect.” I hear the song of the morning birds and then I laugh apologetically. “I better go inside as well. You know the sun and all of that.”
He smiles and then still holding my hand, he starts to walk away from me. He slowly, gently lets my hand go. My hand falls back to my side and I watch him until I cannot see him any more. I go inside and walk straight to the basement.
I wait impatiently for night-time, and when it is almost nine o’clock, I walk out into our driveway and see him coming down the road from up the hill and he is pushing his motorbike.
Walking onto the verge of the road to meet him, I ask curiously, “And now?”
He laughs. “I sneaked out and I could not exactly start my bike in front of the house.” He stops in front of me and then pushes the stand out from under the bike, letting it lean onto the stand. He lets go of the handlebars and hands me a helmet, asking, “Suppose we went for a ride tonight?”
“I suppose that would be acceptable.”
He looks at me suddenly serious. “I don’t have a white horse, but I have this horse, and I would like to rescue you from the great treacherous villain, called Sir Boredom.”
I laugh loudly. “No seducing me with your SIM tonight?”
I pull the elastic band from my hair and my red hair tumbles down onto my shoulders. I put the helmet on over my head and Andrew asks amused, “Aren’t you going to tell Amanda we are leaving?”
“Jeez. I was so excited, I completely forgot. Don’t go away, I’ll be right back.”
I run up the small lawn to the front door, sidestepping the Koi pond gracefully. I run into the house and call, “Amanda.”
Her voice comes from upstairs. “Here.”
Running up the stairs two at a time, I rush into her room. I see the sadness on her face, but I am too excited and it does not really register at that specific moment.
I ask excitedly, “Can I please go with Andrew?”
Amanda looks at me absent-mindedly. “Yes, of course. Just be back before sunrise.”
Turning away from her, I run down the stairs and call out, “Thanks.”
When I get back to Andrew, he smiles. “That was fast.”
I reply jokingly, “I am fast – remember.”
A shadow crosses his face, but then he leans down and pulls the footrests out of the space it is nestled into. He puts his helmet on while I pull mine over my head and then lifting his leg, he straddles the motorbike. While he inches forward, I climb on behind him awkwardly. I put my feet on the footrests and then I hold onto the bar behind me.
I hear him say, “You can hold onto me, you know.”
“I know. I am not dense – you know.”
He starts the motorbike and the thunderous vibration under me make me feel nervously excited. I have been on a motorbike before, but it has been such a long time, and now being on one with Andrew excites me more than I thought possible.
He pulls away suddenly and I automatically lean into him. The crash helmet makes it awkward and I cannot hold my head against his back, but I wrap my arms around his waist.
We drive out of the estate slowly and then through the streets, but when we get to the old Johannesburg Road, he throttles the gears and suddenly the motorbike speeds up dramatically. We lean with the bike as we go around the corners and for a short moment, very briefly, I imagine being mortal.
Later, when Andrew drops me off at home, I feel invigorated and he gets down from his bike as well. He laughs softly. “Now I am going to have to push this heavy thing up the hill.”
“Leave it here. I promise I won’t use it and it would be safe in the garage.”
“I would love to, but when Mr. van Heerden does not see it tomorrow in his garage, he will be asking a million questions. He is already not impressed with me.” He smiles amused. “Besides, it’s four in the morning and I do not want to discuss anything other than you.”
He takes my hand and he pulls me closer to him. I go willingly. He wraps his arms around my waist. His legs are apart as he leans back against the motorbike and I stand in the space between his legs, his face is level with mine.
With a small smile playing on his lips, he moves his head closer to mine and then I feel his lips on mine. He kisses me gently and then I slowly part my lips. His hand around my waist moves up to the back of my head and then holding my head close to his, he kisses me single-mindedly. I close my eyes and I get lost in him.
Much later, he clears his throat and he says softly, “I better go. It is almost time for you to go in.”
I say hurriedly, “I never told you, but I like you too.” I feel mortified, but it is burning inside of me and I need to say it.
He laughs softly. “Susie, I have moved on from like already.”
I look down and softly he takes my chin in his hand and he lifts my face to look up at him. He looks into my eyes and his deep, dark eyes look pensively into mine. He smiles slowly. “Susie, I love you.”
I lean into him and wrapping my arms tightly around his neck, I kiss him until I hear Amanda call my name.
Pulling away from him reluctantly, I see the clouds in the sky have an orange tint. I say hurriedly, smiling coyly, “As much as I enjoy kissing you, I have to go now.”
“Good night, Susie.” He smiles forlornly.
I watch him as he pushes the heavy bike up the hill and then I hear Amanda’s urgent calls.
When I rush into the house, she reprimands me, walking behind me while I rush to the basement.
The next night I wait for Andrew impatiently and when the doorbell rings, I walk to the front door hurriedly.
I open the door with a smile on my face and I cannot help it when the smile fades. Carmine looks apologetic when she steps forward and explains, “Andrew can’t come tonight. He fell asleep in class today, so he is in serious trouble.”
I am disappointed because I had organised with Amanda to get movies, crisps, and chocolates, but now resignedly I enjoy the evening I planned with Andrew, with Carmine.