Plain Jane

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5: Strange Explanations

Fuzzy. That was the word Jane would’ve used to describe her current state of mind as she laid on an uncomfortable surface of some kind. She couldn’t remember getting into bed though – then again, she couldn’t remember much of anything.

Jane’s eyes snapped open as – in flashes – it all started to come back to her: The Haven, McDuffie, Lukan, wings, claws, fangs… And then that sickeningly sweet smell of blood in the air…

Panic rose in Jane’s chest. She had to get out of there, she had to warn someone, do something!

Jane shot up on the bed, taking in her surroundings with shock. At first glance, she was in what appeared to be a shiny, metal room. At second glance though, it was very obviously a laboratory of some kind.

Directly in front of her was a metal workbench piled high with books nearly in the middle of the room with a desk chair, while to her right was a door, a metal cabinet of some sort, and just beyond that was a desk that stretched from next to the cabinet, wrapping around a corner, all the way to the other side of the room in a distinct L-shape.

Jane realized that she was sitting on a very uncomfortable sort of bed, mostly made out of metal.

Jane’s immediate panic had subsided for the moment and she felt drained, though she couldn’t understand why. She still couldn’t remember anything past McDuffie’s death. Everything else was still just a blur.

Voices from another room drew Jane’s attention away from her memories – or lack thereof.

She sat stalk still as the door to her right opened.

“I can’t believe you left her alone! What the hell is wrong with you? After everything she’s been through, I would’ve thought you’d have the common sense­-”

Lukan stopped short upon seeing Jane sitting calmly with her legs dangling from the bed.

As far as Jane could tell, he was waiting for her to do something, and with the way she was feeling, she was tempted to oblige him. Jane was feeling less and less afraid and more and more angry. She didn’t want to run away or go into hysterics and tell the world that there were nameless monsters living in Lysander, she realized. She just wanted answers.

And she wanted them now.

“Um, Lukan… You’re blocking the doorway and I need to check on my patient.”

A young man in a white lab coat that couldn’t have been more than sixteen years old pushed and squeezed his way past a still frozen Lukan, and into the room. His hair was a mess of mousy brown curls that seemed to be making a valiant attempt at reaching the ceiling. He wore wire-rimmed glasses that easily could’ve belonged to Harry Potter and a generous sprinkling of cinnamon colored freckles decorated his round, boyish face.

“Oh,” he said, surprised but pleased. “I see that you’re already awake. That’s wonderful!”

The teen pulled a flashlight out of his breast pocket and began shining it into Jane’s eyes. She flinched at the blinding brightness.

“No permanent damage from the shock that I can see thus far. May I take your pulse?” he said, looking into her eyes for permission, his hands paused hesitantly over her wrist.

He looked at her eagerly, as though she was a rare specimen that he got to study. Jane had the strangest feeling that he didn’t get to do this whole ‘doctor’ thing too often, which by how young he looked made perfect sense.

“I’m sorry, but who are you exactly?” Jane asked, the sound of her dry remark startling the two young men before her.

They looked at each other a moment before the teen turned back to Jane.

“I’m Septimus Lucius D’Vry, but everyone calls me Study because-“

“You have my condolences,” Jane said, her voice even drier. “Now somebody had better start explaining – and fast.”

“Well…” Study began hesitantly. “I’m afraid that you’ve had a bit of a nasty shock.”

Jane rolled her eyes at the obviousness of the young man’s statement.

“No kidding, Sherlock.”

Study laughed nervously, grating on Jane’s nerves.

“Well, you see Miss…”

“Jane.”

“Well, you see, Jane, when you were in the Lunch Room, you slipped and hit your head, rather hard I might add, and-“

He was interrupted by a glass of water flying at his head, only just able to duck it.

Bull!” Jane shouted at him furiously. “I know what happened. Now somebody had better start explaining before I get really mad!”

Study cowered a bit and Lukan rolled his eyes, coming out of his bizarre – and highly unusual – state of silent caution. His mouth opened to say something when a blur sped past him, nearly knocking him down in the process. Sofiya was instantly standing at Jane’s bedside, her arms thrown around Jane.

“Oh, Jane! I was so worried when I saw Lukan carry you into the house unconscious. Please tell me that you’re alright! I’ll never forgive myself if you’re hurt!” Sofiya cried.

“Meh-heh… heh…” Jane managed to say, her left eye twitching badly.

While Jane tried to form a coherent sentence, Lukan rolled his eyes and spoke for the first time since he had walked fully into the room.

“Well, you just blew any chance we had of salvaging this situation. I hope you’re happy, since you’ve just been dying to tell her anyway.”

“Well, it’s not like it matters. She obviously already knows anyway,” Sofiya said defensively, releasing her grip on Jane and standing up straight. “Oh, Jane… You don’t absolutely hate us, do you? You’re not very mad? We didn’t want to lie to you. Really, we didn’t, but how could we tell you the truth?”

Sofiya looked so utterly, miserably concerned and worried that Jane realized, no matter what secrets had been kept or what lies were told, Sofiya had always been her friend from the very start and still was now.

“I’m confused, shocked, and more than a little peeved at being lied to, but I’m not angry with you,” Jane said. “I should be, seeing as it was your idea that I should work here in the first place, knowing that I’d be in danger. But to be honest, I really think that I’m entitled to an explanation here. And I swear, if that guy implies that this whole thing is a product of my imagination one more time…”

Jane pointed an accusing finger at Study, who was still cowering a bit. Sofiya just looked confused.

“You know, for someone who just found out that you work for a coven of vampires, you’re being pretty calm about the whole thing.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure that that’s the shock, but give me a few minutes and I’m sure…” Jane trailed off as Sofiya’s remark sank in.

Vampires? VAMPIRES? Nonononononono… Not possible. It’s just not possible… Jane thought, her eyes going from one concerned face to another.

Jane knew she was hyperventilating, but how could she help it? They claimed to be VAMPIRES, for heaven’s sake! Images of large, black, leathery wings, shining, sharp claws, and porcelain white fangs dripping with saliva flashed through Jane’s mind.

But it couldn’t be… It just couldn’t…

There were just too many things that didn’t make sense. They spent copious amounts of time outside in the sunlight, and none of them were particularly pale with the exception of Study, but Jane figured that like most bookworms he spent his days inside reading, rather than playing football or any of the other games that Lukan’s group seemed to enjoy so much. Jane recalled how warm Sofiya was when she hugged Jane – which Sofiya did often – and how warm Lukan was that first day when he threw her over his shoulder and kissed her at school. They weren’t deathly cold - excessively warm, if anything.

And then there was all the food they ate. About three times what normal people ate in a day, if Jane was any judge of such things – and having been the cook for her parents for several years, she ought to be.

But then, there were things that would only make sense if they were vampires. Lukan’s entire group, and even the guests, all walked extraordinarily fast compared to the other people she knew, even at their slowest. They were all very strong for their sizes, especially Sofiya. And then, there was the Lunch Room episode to take into consideration, though Jane still couldn’t remember all of it…

Jane air seemed to grow thinner, and though she heard her name being called, she couldn’t seem to find enough air to answer. Her whole world seemed to be closing in around her.

Vampires were – are real. They weren’t yesterday, or the day before, or at any time before that - to me, at least - but now they’re real, and I happen to work for an entire coven of them…

For the second time that day Jane lost consciousness, only this time it was because she fainted.

***

When Jane woke she was surrounded by the people she had come to know over the last few days – people she had come to consider her friends: Lilith, her teacher, mentor, friend; Sofiya, the sister Jane had always longed for but never had in Melody; Ray Stalls and Tracy Adams, the couple who couldn’t stop fighting… or stay away from each other either; Moonbeam, a vegetarian, earth-loving girl whose voice was always soft and kind, never a harsh word escaping her lips, and her boyfriend who was the complete opposite, Jamie Madison.

The list went on and on, but the face that stood out the most to Jane was Lukan’s. His handsome features seemed so calm, yet Jane could see turmoil in his eyes. There seemed to be some sort of war raging within him. She had come to know him so well, and yet not at all, over those last few, perfect days of blissful ignorance. He had always been standoffish with her, as though he was afraid to get too close. Their arguments didn’t help with that, of course, and Jane couldn’t help but wonder if he enjoyed their passionate disagreements as much as she did.

Jane had come to see him as vain, selfish and lazy, yet despite all that, there seemed so much more – a depth really – that she couldn’t quite reach yet. Some part of her wanted to stick around to figure him out, but whatever was about to be said very well might prevent that from happening. The look on everyone’s face told her that something very profound was about to be said, but Jane was suddenly no longer sure if she wanted the explanation she had demanded earlier. Why can’t things just go back to the way they were before?

Jane felt a strange calm take hold of her as Lilith walked closer to her bedside – the calm before the storm, Jane thought wryly.

“Jane…” Lilith began miserably, wringing her hands and her head hanging in shame. “Before I give you the explanation you wish for… I feel I should apologize. I take responsibility for all of this. I thought that if we were careful we could keep you safe, but I was wrong, so very wrong, and for that I am truly, deeply sorry.”

Lilith had never seemed so small before. Jane had always seen Lilith as the kind of woman that was made for leadership – a strong, independent woman – and to see her begging forgiveness from someone like Jane seemed so out of place that Jane half wished that she had let them think that she believed Study’s lie.

“If I could take it back-” she began.

“I wouldn’t,” Jane said, watching everyone’s heads snap up in surprise. “I wouldn’t take back a second of it. I’ve been happy here. I’ve come to care for all of you, and despite what happened I still do. I’m still pretty shocked by everything, and I don’t even really think it’s all soaked in yet, but whatever you have to say, I’ll do my best to listen with an open mind.”

At hearing that, more than one person had to wipe a tear from their eye. Jane was one of them. Maybe not a vampire, but part of the family, and that was all that mattered.

Lilith smiled through tears of relief before beginning and Jane braced herself for what was to come.

“I suppose I should begin at the beginning. I’m not certain how much you know about God or the Bible, but this happens to have a great deal to do with the times after Christ’s death,” Lilith said calmly. “After Jesus had fulfilled the prophecy of redemption for sinners and the last of his twelve disciples died, the world had become a dangerous place for Christians and humanity in general. God saw this and decided to create protectors for his children: one to watch over the earth, another to watch over the seas, and yet another one to watch over the skies. We have no name other than Protectors, but the closest thing we come to that we can compare to are vampires. Our kind – the Vampires – were meant to watch over the skies, the earth for the… Lycanthropes – known as werewolves or the Wolfyn people – and Merfolk for the seas. There is much more to us than those comparisons imply but I am trying to keep this as uncomplicated as possible.

“God used three humans to create these protectors, almost as he used Adam’s rib to create Eve. In that sense, a part of us will always be tied to humanity, as Woman is tied to Man, yet we will never be a part of it. These original three – the Ancients, as our kind has come to call them – were able to create more of their individual kind by mixing their blood with a human’s. Soon there were thousands.

“Decades passed and as time wore on, more and more of the members of the three… Clans, for lack of a better word, became arrogant and prideful, each believing they were better than the others. Eventually all the covens of the three different Clans believed the lie that they were meant to have dominion over not only humanity, but each other as well. The rumors of superiority had begun with a single Lycanthrope, the Ancient of that Earth Clan. The belief that they were better spread through the covens like wildfire, before the Ancient of the Sky Clan realized the damage these lies did.

“War broke out when a Lycanthrope attacked a Vampire. The Great War as we call it, raged between the two Clans while the Merfolk retired to the seas, bored and disgusted with the others’ foolishness.

“When God created the Protectors, he built within them a… Tree of Knowledge, of sorts. When one of the Protectors drinks the blood of a human, they become better, faster, stronger. At the same time though, it comes with its disadvantages. For Vampire-kind, it’s an allergy to the sun. For Wolf-kind, they can’t control their change into wolves when the moon is out. For Merpeople, it’s that they become human during the day without a choice in the matter. Nearly all Wolf-kind and Vampire-kind drank the blood of humans at that time to gain advantage over the enemy, which is in essence how the Great War ended.

“Eventually, the bodies of dead humans became so innumerable that they started throwing them into the seas. The Merpeople had wanted no part of this war, but when their home was being destroyed because of it, they felt they had no choice. The numbers of the other two Clans were so depleted by the war that the Merpeople had little trouble putting a near-end to both species.

“Time wore on after the Clans took their wounded and dead, crawling into the darkness of hiding, the once noble peoples fallen from grace and light. The Protectors’ true purpose and God were all but forgotten by the Clans. As the Clans replenished their numbers, more and more became separate covens, each with its own beliefs and set of rules to live by. A good many have become nomadic, traveling from place to place, seeking food and shelter, sometimes even work, wherever they can find it. That’s why we started this hotel: to give our kind a place to go when they have nowhere else.

“That’s really all of it, I suppose,” Lilith said to Jane. “I know it’s a good deal to take in, especially after what you’ve gone through today, Jane. Are you alright?”

Jane had remained absolutely silent through the whole tale, her shock growing with each new revelation.

First vampires, now werewolves and merpeople too? I’m going to wake up any second now, I know it. Any second…

It took Jane another few seconds of being stared at by everyone in the room for her to finally accept that what was happening wasn’t a dream.

“Yeah, I am actually,” Jane said, taking a deep, slow breath. “I just… it’s a lot to handle, you know? A few hours ago, I knew, without a doubt in my mind, that vampires, werewolves and merpeople just didn’t exist. Now I don’t know what I know.”

Lilith looked at Jane sympathetically.

“Jane…” Lilith began, appearing uncomfortable, though Jane swore she saw the older woman smile for a moment. “I’m afraid that there is another matter which we need to discuss: the issue of your safety.”

“My safety? What’s wrong with my safety?” Jane said, panicking a little.

“Well… by now, I imagine that nearly every one of our kind on the East Coast knows what happened with McDuffie,” Lilith said quietly. “Many will be angered that one of us was killed because of a human. You’re in danger, Jane.”

At this, Lukan stopped leaning against one of the wall and stood straight, his attention glued to Lilith.

“Well, what are we supposed to do about it? I can’t just crawl into a cave and hide for the rest of my life, Lilith,” Jane said.

“I know, Jane, which is why I have come up with a plan. There is only one way that I can think of that would keep you safe.”

Okay, now she’s definitely smiling. This is going to be bad – really bad, I just know it…

“Really?” Lukan said with his eyes narrowed suspiciously. He was obviously getting the same vibe as Jane. “And what may I ask is that, Lilith?”

“You have to pretend to be Jane’s boyfriend.”

***

“You’re insane. That’s the only explanation that I can come up with that makes any sense,” Lukan said, tiredly collapsing on the comfortable armchair in Lilith’s private office.

It had taken Lukan nearly half an hour to get Lilith alone to talk to her about this outrageous scheme, which was obviously just a cheap attempt at matchmaking. How could he pretend to be Jane’s boyfriend when they couldn’t even be in the same room without nearly killing each other? No one in their right minds would believe it for a second.

Lilith had explained earlier to Jane and the others that it would only be temporary until the buzz about McDuffie died down. Lukan couldn’t believe that Lilith was actually taking advantage of Jane’s life being in danger to find him a girlfriend. How low could a person go?

Jane’s reaction had been silence and then fury, along with screaming, yelling and ranting. Having to pretend to date Lukan had obviously just sent her over the edge, especially on top of everything that she had just gone through. The others were still trying to calm her down.

“Lukan, you know that I hate putting you through this, but-“

Don’t,” he snapped. “Don’t sit there and pretend that you’re not trying to set me up with her. It makes me sick, the way you’re taking advantage of her. She’s a human being, not a plaything or a doll.”

“Really, Lukan?” Lilith said hotly, hands on her hips. “Because for the last century, all I have heard from you is what unworthy, pathetic creatures humans are. The change in opinion seems rather sudden, do you not you think? Started around the time of Jane’s arrival in our lives, would you not say?”

She was daring him to deny it, but he wouldn’t rise to her bait.

“Humans are unworthy. That hasn’t changed and it never will. But Jane…” he said, trailing off, not quite sure how to describe it. “She’d different. She just has this…”

“Spark?” Lilith offered, giving him a soft, understanding smile.

“I guess you could call it that,” he said grudgingly.

“It’s the same spark I see in you,” Lilith said softly. “Whether you’ll admit it or not, there is something between the two of you. This… plan will allow both of you to see where it goes without the pressure of a real relationship.”

Lukan breathed out deeply, running a hand over his face. He should have known he wouldn’t win this argument. He never did win when Lilith or Jane was his opponent.

Fine,” Lukan said heavily. “I’ll do it. I just want to know one thing.”

“What is that, Lukan?” Lilith asked, smiling.

“How do you plan on getting Jane to go along with this?”

Lukan smiled when Lilith went a little paler and her smile faded a bit. Lilith knew that no ‘spark’ would convince Jane… and that’s exactly what Lukan was afraid of.

***

Hell no! I am not dating him!”

Lilith had just spent the last fifteen minutes in the Library where Jane had escaped to, trying to convince Jane that pretending to date Lukan would be in the best interest of her safety.

She wasn’t buying it, clever girl.

Lukan on the other hand simply leaned against walls and bookcases, rolling his eyes at everything Jane said. Rolling his eyes and leaning against things seemed to be his trademark, Jane had noticed.

“Why are you being so stubborn about this, anyway? If I can agree to play babysitter, then the very least you can do is be grateful and cooperate,” Lukan said lazily.

It was Jane’s turn to roll her eyes.

“‘The very least I can do?’ You killed the guy. Why don’t you date yourself and see if it’s peaches ‘n’ cream! This is all your fault to begin with anyway! And I won’t even mention the fact that you lied to me!” Jane said, plopping down in a Victorian-style embroidered armchair.

My fault!” Lukan said hotly, pushing himself off the bookcase he had been leaning on. “You’re the one who broke a plate over his head!”

They continued on like that for what must have been nearly ten minutes before Lilith finally broke it up. Jane was eyeing an antique lamp sitting on a side table near her and it looked as though she might throw it at Lukan if someone didn’t intercede.

“That is enough!” Lilith snapped.

Both Jane and Lukan turned their heads in Lilith’s direction, glaring at her for interrupting their argument but Lilith didn’t so much as flinch, despite the fact that their combined force of glaring was enough to make a grown man crawl.

“Now, Jane,” Lilith began calmly, sitting down on a sofa and folding her hands in her lap. “Why exactly can you not pretend to date Lukan?”

Jane and Lukan stared at Lilith as though she was completely deranged.

“I’m sorry, but were you not here for the last twenty minutes?” Jane asked sarcastically. “And Lukan and I actually surviving this thing isn’t our only problem, or even our biggest.”

Lukan laughed scathingly.

“What could possibly be more of a problem than us killing each other?”

“Two words: My. Parents.

Jane’s face took on the look of someone who’d just tasted something very sour. Lukan laughed condescendingly, and Jane gave him a sidelong glare before continuing her conversation with Lilith.

“You have actually met my parents, right? They would chew Lukan up and spit him out before he could even open his mouth to say, ‘Nice to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Parker.’”

“Oh, really?” Lukan asked tightly, his eyes narrowed at Jane.

Jane’s gaze swept over him in an appraising manner.

“They would eat. You. Alive,” Jane said, looking into his eyes in absolute earnest.

Lukan raised a doubtful eyebrow but Lilith spoke before he could land another scathing remark.

“I will speak with Mr. and Mrs. Parker. I am quite sure that they will be very understanding about it, especially once I tell them that he is a member of my own family.”

“Have you not listened to anything I’ve been saying? They’re complete control freaks, and they have made it very clear that I’m not to be within ten feet of a boy until I’m no longer living under their roof, and if I introduced someone like Lukan to them I wouldn’t blame them for being so weird about it. Hell, if my kid brought someone like Lukan home they’d never date again! It’s one thing to introduce a nice, quiet boy like… Gary, for instance, as my boyfriend. I could see my parents being a bit more forgiving with him, but Lukan? Vain, arrogant, lazy, selfish Lukan? Their heads would explode!”

Both Lilith and Lukan looked as though they were about to protest, but Jane would have none of it.

“Look,” Jane continued, a weary sigh escaping her lips. “I don’t know how you managed to convince my parents to let me take this job, though I imagine you had to lay something on them about it making me more ‘normal,’ but believe me, they won’t go for it this time. They won’t let me date him, even if it is just a farce.”

At that, Lilith looked thoughtful for a moment.

“If they did allow you to date Lukan… would you?” Lilith asked carefully.

“They won’t.”

“But if they did, would you agree to it?”

Jane was beginning to feel cornered, which was the sole reason for her reply.

“I guess I would have to. It would look strange for you to go to all the trouble of asking them, only to have me decide not to date him. And I wish everyone would stop saying, ‘date,’ as though he and I would really be dating. It would just be pretend – acting, really.”

Jane wasn’t sure which was more stressful: vampires, werewolves and mermaids, or Lilith and Lukan ganging up on her to ‘date’ Lukan.

“Splendid! It is all settled then. I will speak to Mr. and Mrs. Parker this evening when Lukan drives you home and once they agree to allow Lukan to… court you, we will discuss how to make your relationship believable.”

Jane rolled her eyes at Lilith’s substitute word for dating, and her uncanny certainty that her parents would agree.

She sighed, sinking into her chair further, but inwardly smirked.

Good luck with my parents, Lilith. You’re going to need it…

***

Jane was in shock. It had been over twelve hours since Lilith had informed Jane that her parents had agreed to allow Jane to date Lukan. When Jane had agreed to this whole thing, she had been absolutely certain that her parents would laugh at the very idea of it – but then again, not twenty-four hours ago, Jane had known with absolute certainty that there simply were no such thing as vampires.

Now, once again, Jane was left wondering what she knew anymore. She felt angry, confused, and like her world was falling apart. What was next? Her parents telling her she was adopted? Wouldn’t that just be peachy…

Apparently Lilith had spoken with the Coven the night before, informing them that Jane was, to her great annoyance, not to be left alone, even for a moment – Sofiya had even kept watch over Jane the night before while she slept and would continue to do so until Lilith believed Jane out of danger.

It was driving Jane insane, having body guards wherever she went. Her parents were in danger too, it seemed. Ray, Tracy, Moonbeam and Jamie had been assigned to take shifts protecting them, staying out of school to keep a twenty-four hour watch on them.

There was of course one benefit that Jane didn’t mind.

Mr. Smithers had been hostile towards Jane after the lunchroom incident due to Lilith’s ‘talk’ with him on the subject of bullying. He even gave her low grades because of it, knowing that Jane was too proud to go to Lilith. Not only that, but he made a point of openly criticizing her work in front of the class, a humiliating experience as the students at St. Defendens High had no problem getting a laugh at the expense of another.

When Jane walked into Biology Lab, she expected another hour of misery and humiliation. And, as always, Mr. Smithers seemed only too happy to oblige.

“Ms. Parker, you are late. Am I to continue to expect this blatant disrespect, or do you actually intend on making an effort at some point in the future? Between your pathetic attempt at biology and your-“

“Is there a problem, Mr. Smithers?” Lukan said, walking into the room and stopping behind Jane, his height easily allowing him to see over her head.

“As a matter of fact, Mr. Masters, there is,” Smithers said with relish. “Ms. Parker has arrived late to my class.”

Mr. Smithers smirked triumphantly, believing that due to Lukan’s well know dislike of Jane, he would have the support of Lilith’s favorite.

“So am I. About…” Lukan looked at the circular clock hanging on the wall above Mr. Smithers’ desk. “Three minutes late, if that clock is right.”

Mr. Smithers’ eyes widened and the other students had all their attention directed at the scene playing out before them. No one had expected that Lukan would drag himself into it. Mr. Smithers’ certainly wouldn’t have mentioned Lukan’s tardiness, and Lukan was well known for never standing up for anyone.

Ever.

Everyone watched to see what Smithers would do next. He had to play it careful as no one ever messed with Lilith’s favorites, even the teachers. Jane simply stood there in front of Lukan, shifting her weight from foot to foot awkwardly, not sure what to say or do.

“Well… Uh, I’m sure you had a good reason for it, Mr. Masters,” Smithers said helplessly.

Lukan thought for a moment and then nodded.

Everyone let out the breaths that they were holding, believing that there would be no confrontation.

“Well, I’m sure that Jane had a good reason too,” Lukan said.

Everyone’s attention snapped back to Lukan with lightening speed, especially Mr. Smithers’.

Jane rubbed the back of her neck, wishing to be anywhere else in the world.

“As a matter of fact, I happen to know without a doubt that Jane had an excellent reason for being late,” Lukan said. “At least, in my opinion it was an excellent reason.”

Jane could hear the satisfied smirk in his voice and she knew this was going to be bad. However, nothing could’ve prepared her for his answer to Mr. Smithers’ next question.

“Really? And what reason would that be?” Smithers asked in genuine curiosity.

“We were making out in the back of my Porsche.”

Jane’s face went from white to beet-red, her eyes wide in shock and then anger.

I am going to murder him…

No one else moved – or even breathed, for that matter – as they tried to process the information. No one believed it of course – that is, until Lukan wrapped his arms around Jane’s waist and kissed her left shoulder, pointedly looking at Smithers the entire time.

For a while, everyone wondered if Mr. Smithers was even breathing. He hadn’t moved, he hadn’t spoken – he hadn’t even blinked. He just stood there, his dark-rimmed glasses framing his wide, glassy blue eyes.

“Now, I know what a very serious policy Lysander High has on tardiness…” Lukan said snidely, rubbing Jane’s tension-filled arms, then moving her hair aside to kiss her neck in between every few words, sending delicious, naughty chills down Jane’s spine. “But perhaps…” Kiss. “…seeing as all detentions…” Kiss. “…have to be approved by…” Kiss. “Principal Kingsley anyway…” Wet kiss. “…and I’m sure that we wouldn’t wish to bother her…” Kiss. “…that you, being the generous, kind…” Very wet kiss. “…hearted person that you are, might allow us very, very unworthy students to escape unpunished…” Really wet kiss. “…just this once.”

Lukan nipped at Jane’s neck with his teeth, all the students now on the edge of their seats, one even falling off, though no one paid attention to him as he scrambled to get back up.

No, everyone was too busy waiting for Mr. Smithers’ response.

Smithers did the only thing that he could do in that position – he nodded his head adamantly without saying a word.

Lukan smiled and, putting his arm around Jane’s waist, he led her to the seat that Brock Johnson was sitting in.

“I’d really like it if my girlfriend…” Everyone gasped. “…could sit next to me. Would you mind?” Lukan asked, his voice polite and relaxed with an underlying threat lacing his words, like arsenic lacing a cup of chamomile tea.

Jane watched Lukan’s eyes glint dangerously as he stared Johnson down. The room once again held its breath, not a single person daring to even blink.

A moment passed. Another… and another. Jane could see sweat dripping into Johnson’s eyes.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, Johnson slowly rose, his eyes never leaving Lukan’s.

Lukan’s eyebrow rose in a silent dare.

Go ahead, Jane thought he seemed to be saying. Do it and watch me rip your heart out.

Jane had no doubt that he’d do it too.

Johnson’s gaze fell and a slow, triumphant smirk extended Lukan’s lips. Lukan had won.

Johnson quickly gathered his things and moved to another seat, kicking a nerd out of a nearby chair to gain a little of his tattered self-respect back.

Still smirking, Lukan pulled out a seat for Jane on the high lab tables.

Jane grumpily sat in it, spending the whole class glaring at Lukan.

He’ll pay for this later…

As time wore on throughout the day, Jane changed her mind about making him pay for her discomfort. Although she was stared at the entire day by everyone, not a single person dared be unkind to her.

Jane was beginning to wonder if there weren’t some benefits to this whole ‘dating’ thing.

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