Chapter 5 - Hobo Hoodie
My roommate, Layla is still sleeping. She got back pretty late last night, so it’s a good thing that she doesn’t have any classes this morning. Even though she told me that she’s a heavy sleeper, I try not to make too much noise when I’m getting ready.
“First day of College, Nana. Wish me luck,” I whisper as I gently touch a framed picture of my Nana on my study table. Nana’s warm brown eyes gaze back at me. I wonder if Nana is proud of me now. “I’ll study hard...but not too hard. I'll make sure that hot human men here won’t know what hit them,” I assure Nana.
"Love you, Oliver. Try not to miss me too much today." I pat my teddybear's head.
Layla has a big mirror hanging near the door. I decided to give myself a quick once over before I go. “Oh, there you are!" I greet myself. "Hello, you sexy beast.” I point two fingers as if I’m holding two guns at my reflection and wink. I know it’s lame and I don’t necessarily think that I look sexy, but Nana told me that if you keep telling yourself that you look great, then you will look great...eventually. I want to look and feel sexy, so sometimes I call myself a sexy beast. Mostly in my head.
I hear a laughter coming from the bed next to me. “That’s it! I can’t hold it in anymore. The hell are you up to so early in the morning, Quincy St. Martin?” asks Layla, poking her sleepy head out of her cotton sheet.
I am mortified that Layla saw my lame move but I scowl, put my hands on my hips and accusingly say, “Hey! I thought you’re a heavy sleeper. Have you been listening in all this time?”
She laughs again. “How can I not? You are so funny...and strange. Do you always talk to yourself like that?”
Funny and strange? This girl doesn’t know what she’s talking about. I am so normal. No, scratch that, I’m beyond normal. I sassily flip my hair. “Pshhh...but you love me. See you later, bitch,” I tell her.
"Yeah, see you later, skank," she answers with a laugh.
It feels great to have a friend like Layla. We get along well and we can joke around like we've known each other for ages. She's another person who can make my swear jar prosper.
I grab my bag and step outside our shared bedroom to come face to face with Jonah who is standing right in front of the bedroom door as if he’s been waiting for me to come out.
“Oh, hey Jonah.” I smile up at him. “Good morning!”
He stands there just staring at me for a second as if my cheerful greeting surprised him. “Here,” he says gruffly, handing me a rectangular object wrapped in a colorful wrapping paper.
“What is it?” I ask him even when my hand is already reaching for it. “Is it food?” Please tell me it’s food.
He looks like he wants to roll his eyes but he doesn’t. I’m sorry that my tummy rules my head sometimes...okay, most of the time. “Jorden told me it’s your birthday today. So...happy birthday,” he says, looking very uncomfortable.
Oh god! I forgot my own birthday! I guess I have a lot on my mind these last few days that the last thing I could think of is my own birthday. I’m 18 today. That’s a magical number for werewolves since their instinct will be opened to sensing their mates when they reach that age. Not for me though. I have no mate.
A thought suddenly occurs to me. If Old Mr. Maddox, the former alpha wants to claim me, today would be the day he would formally do that. I shudder at the thought. I escaped just in time.
I stare at the badly wrapped gift in my hand and picture Jonah struggling to tape the paper together. That’s so hilarious but oh, so very sweet! I can’t stop the big smile that breaks across my face. I fling my arms around him with a giggle and exclaim, “Thank you! Thank you, Jonah! You are so sweet!!!”
His body is stiff and he sounds strangled when he says, “You don’t know what it is yet.”
I loosen my hold and look up at him. He’s scowling again but he doesn’t look at all scary. “And I’m not sweet,” he adds gruffly.
It really doesn’t matter what the gift is. The only people who ever gave me anything or ever wished me happy birthday were my Nana and Jorden...and now Jonah. I’m a very lucky girl.
This is the first birthday I have without my Nana. I suddenly feel tears pricked at the back of my eyes and something hard lodged in my throat. My smile slips. I blink rapidly, push the thought away and force a big smile back on my face. “True. I don’t know what it is yet but I bet it’s great!”
I eagerly rip the wrapping paper apart then stare at the book in my hand in surprise. Skulduggery Pleasant, Midnight, the latest in the series by Derek Landy.
I don’t even have to ask how he knew that I wanted this book. Jorden must have told him.
I’ve been reading Skulduggery Pleasant since I was in middle school. I’d never been able to afford to buy them, so I had always borrowed the books from the school library. Jorden wasn’t really big on reading but I got him hooked on the series too. He knew that I had been waiting for this book to come out for ages.
I open the book and touch the printed pages reverently. Then I bring the open book close to my nose and breath in deeply. Oh, the feel of the smooth and crisp paper, that magical smell of a book being opened for the very first time. Nobody else ever opened it. Just me.
“Thank you, Jonah,” I say, and I give him another hug. I know he doesn’t like hugs but I don’t care. I know he said he’s not sweet but he totally is. He doesn’t say anything this time but he clears his throat and pats my head awkwardly.
“Now put this on,” he says, brusquely as soon as I let go of him. A strange, sickly sweet and pungent smell assaults my nose as soon as he pulls a thick black material from out of a plastic bag.
I unfold the material and hold it up. It’s an ugly, old, big, black hoodie with some white stains on the arm, near the chest area, and at the end of the sleeves. I’m afraid to ask what the stain is. The bottom edge of it is a bit shredded like it had been chewed on.
“Is this my birthday gift too?” I ask him, feeling very confused. Why would he give me this ugly stinky hoodie as a gift? My cousin is obviously not as normal as I am. Or maybe there’s something seriously wrong with my family gene pool. I think we should stop procreating as a gift to all humankind...and werewolfkind.
“No, but just put it on,” he insists.
“Seriously?” As if I didn’t spend the last fifteen minutes trying to look this awesome only to cover myself up with an ugly ass hoodie. “You want me to wear this on my first day of class and in this weather?” I’ll be sweating worse than a pig wearing the hoodie in this heat, not to mention it smells funny. “Why?” I try to give it back to him.
“Just put it on, Quincy.” He shoves it back to me and I scrunched up my nose.
“Why?” I repeat. I know there’s something he’s not telling me. He needs to know that I will not follow orders blindly even after an awesome gift...or even food.
He sighs as if he’s trying to summon his patience. Like he didn’t just ask me to do something unreasonable like wearing a big, thick, ugly hoodie in 86 degree Fahrenheit. “Quincy,” he says in a warning tone.
“Jonah,” I say, mimicking his tone. “Why?”
He stares at me like he has some magic power to control me with his eyes and I stare right back at him without blinking. His jaw ticks just like Jorden’s when he’s ticked off. I take it back, he is not sweet. He looks more threatening than Jorden but I will not back down.
“Damn it, Quincy! You’re just like Nana!” he bursts out, breaking eye contact.
And that’s an insult, how? Like I said before, my Nana was awesome. “Thank you,” I say with a sugary sweet smile and I fold my arms across my chest to let him know that I’m not wearing that hoodie unless he has a good reason for it.
“Jorden told me that they sent trackers after you. If they’re here, this...thing will hide you and mask your scent.” He looks at the garment as if he wants to murder it. It’s obvious that he doesn’t like the hoodie either.
I sigh in defeat. I thought that I’m finally free from them here. I almost gag when I put the hoodie on. The cloyingly sweet and pungent smell is overwhelming. Oh, God, they don’t have to find me. The smell alone could’ve killed me.
“Wow, is this the original Eau de toilet?” Seriously, the smell is bad. I’ve no doubt that the Satan himself will gag at the smell. It will totally repel any hot normal man on campus. “There goes my chance of ever marrying a normal human man and having cute normal human babies.”
He shakes his head as if he’s dealing with a silly little kid and ignores my little comments. “Jorden thought that you’ve managed to shake them off but I want you to wear it just in case,” he explains. “At least until after I scout the area out to make sure that they’re not here.”
To be honest, I’d rather die soaked in my own sweat and choked on the awful saccharine smell of this big ugly hoodie rather than being hauled back to the pack house. The thought of being mated to the old Mr. Maddox makes my skin crawl and I quickly pull the hood over my head despite the smell and the sweltering heat.
Jonah gathers the front of the hoodie together and pulls the zipper up. “I look like a hobo,” I tell him. Not to mention smell like one. “Don’t you have anything prettier?” The bottom of the hoodie almost reaches my knees. I fold the sleeves up several times. “I like purple better. Remember to get purple next time.”
“Try not to draw attention to yourself,” he says, ignoring my remark.
Seriously? Wearing this thing in this heat? “Sure, I’ll blend right in...and the smell. Yeah, totally won’t be drawing attention.”
Jonah stares at me like he’s unsure if I was losing my mind or being a total smartass.
Oh, god, I’m going to die of heatstroke, I swear, and it’s not even noon yet. I’ve attended one class so far and now I’m heading for my second in the next building. All morning I’ve been tugging the hood all the way down to cover my face, especially when I see a hot looking guy walking past. I know, I know that’s totally the opposite of what other normal, straight human girls are doing but I don’t want them to see the weirdo underneath the stinky ugly hoodie. So much for being normal.
Think positive. Think positive. Oh yeah, well...at least I don’t have to worry about birth control and stuff. Who needs birth control when you have a hobo hoodie on? Yup, that’s right. I’m calling it a hobo hoodie. Nana would be so proud. This is a great way to start my new life here as Queen Normal. It's awesome.
“Oh god, somebody must’ve taken a bath in cheap perfume,” says a brunette in a yellow sundress, waving her hand in front of her nose. The three girls in front of me make a point of turning to look at me before they burst out laughing.
Oh, great! We have a joker in the house. This is my second lecture of the day and I’ve made a point of finding a seat at a corner near the wall, as far away from everybody else in this big auditorium as possible. I was early and it was peaceful until these three girls slip in a row right in front of me.
“Maybe she slipped and fell into a cheap perfume factory,” answers another one in a floral sundress. Wow! Funny! My bad, two jokers.
“Maybe somebody forgot to take a shower and tried to mask her BO with cheap perfume,” adds the third, who is also in a sundress.
“Ewww.” I hear them say. The sundress squad moves a few seats away and keep whispering and giggling while giving me sly looks once in a while. I know they’re still talking and making fun of me but...whatever. Sticks and stones may break my bones as Nana used to say. Yeah, be nice. Be nice, Quincy. This is only the first day, be nice. I pull the hood more securely over my head while slowly bring my middle finger out and flip them. I hear their gasps of shock and indignation. Bitches!
I tip my chin up and smirk at those girls...and that’s when my eyes catch the sight of him. My heart jolts in my chest and my stomach dips the moment my eyes land on them...him.
He is very tall, taller than my cousin Jonah. If not for his height and looks, the way he walks definitely draws attention. Stalking in like he owned the place. So much confidence and elegance. A mesmerizing mix of regal and predatory.
The world around me fades away and I suddenly find myself involuntarily standing up. I quickly sit myself back down and try to calm my frenzied heartbeat. It’s hard to think, my stomach is rolling and my body is shaking. My breathing is labored. What is wrong with me? He’s like a magnet pulling me in. Oh, god, what’s going on?
The two newcomers keep moving further into the room and there’s no way that anybody would be able to ignore such presence. The buzz of conversation almost falls into a hush. I know all eyes are now on them, just like mine.
“Oh. My. God,” says one of the girls who was talking about me. “Wow!”
“I know right?” I vaguely hear her friend says breathlessly.
I know what she means too. He is definitely the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. It’s hard not to notice the way his white t-shirt clings tightly to his broad shoulders and chest and tapered down to the flat stomach. The way the designer jeans molded beautifully to his long legs and tight butt. Dayyumm! Bad Quincy! look away, Quincy. Look away.
I’m aware of a stunningly beautiful redhead walking next to him but I can’t take my eyes off of him. My eyes track the two of them all the way to their seats. I curl my fingers into fists and wrap my shaking arms around myself.
They seat themselves right in the middle of the back row, quite far away from where I’m sitting and a lot of the other students move to sit closer to them. Like a moth to a flame.
Everything about them screams elegance, wealth, and power. These people around me can’t sense it, but I sense dangerous vibes coming out of them in waves. I don’t necessarily feel threatened or feel like I’m in any kind of danger from them but I know they’re dangerous. Deadly dangerous.
Even with that knowledge, I still can’t keep myself from staring at him from underneath my hood.
My eyes move from his strong aristocratic nose to the high cheekbones and sharp angular jaw. Sharp contours of his face make it seems like it’s carved from granite. His silky shiny golden blond hair is streaked with lighter golden locks and perfectly styled. His smooth flawless golden tan skin glows. A golden god, that's what he is.
He’s looking bored. He sits back, draping his magnificent body on the chair behind him lazily and scans the people around him with lack of interest. Like he's some kind of a king. Like we’re beneath him. A mix of haughty and boredom. For some reason, the bored-haughty expression on his face is totally sexy.
I don’t know what color his eyes are from here but even from this distance, the eyes under those strong prominent eyebrows seem piercing. His cursory glance skims over me without stopping even for a beat, dismissing me as unimportant and of no interest. For some reason, that makes my heart aches.
I see his eyes linger on some of the pretty human girls who are now showing him more skin than they should as they flock to sit closer to him. His companion, the gorgeous redhead rolls her eyes and say something in his ear. His sexy sensual lips curl up into a little smirk before he looks around in boredom again.
Quincy! Keep your head and stay away! I could almost hear Nana’s voice in my head now. Yeah, I know it’s totally not healthy to be hearing voices in my head especially of someone who’s already gone but hey, I never claim to be right in the head and now I’m totally going bonkers!
I wonder if the redhead is his mate or something. Ughh...why does the thought make me feel sick?
I manage to drag my eyes away from him when our Professor enters the room. As soon as the middle age professor turns around to write on the board, my eyes return to look at the golden blond god again.
How can he look so sexy, flicking the pen like that? Everything he does look freaking sexy. No, no, no...this is not happening! Normal human man. Normal human man. Remember normal human man, Quincy. No lusting over...whatever creature he is.
I stare at the blank notepad in front of me. Oh, Quincy what are you doing??? Pay attention! So far, all I’ve gotten from this class today is that my lecturer’s name is Professor Harrison. Yup, that is a very useful information for my exam.
No matter how much I try, I keep finding my eyes straying toward him.
Now I’m noticing how long his legs are, spread out underneath the table or how good they look encased in those blue jeans.
By the end of the lecture, I’m fuming. I’m so mad and frustrated with myself I could cry. I have no clue what was being taught today. Why? Why Quincy? He’s not even interested in you, not even in the slightest...which is good. Very good. Absolutely, awesomely good. Totally!
I am very sure those two are not human. They're not werewolves either. What are they? Nope, I should not care. It doesn’t matter what they are. What really matters is, I should stay away from anything that’s not human. Insanely sexy and stupidly gorgeous though he may be.
I sigh as I gather my things together. Why am I so drawn to him? Why are the “not normal” ones have to be so darn gorgeous and attractive?
*Sorry, a bit late today. I wasn't happy with the chapter so I made a lot of last-minute changes. Hope you like it though. Next update Friday again. Have a wonderful weekend you beautiful wonderful people!